Actions

Work Header

How The Avengers got themselves wrapped around Spiderman's finger

Chapter Text

A morning

Air is constricted. I can’t breathe. There’s rubble in my eyes, I can feel my lungs against my ribs pushing hard. The pressure on my back is far too heavy. I’m going to die. I can’t breathe. Come on! get up Spiderman. Get up Spiderman. Get up-

“Peter Parker! Come on! Get up or you’ll be late!”

Peter bolts up from his sleeping position, hitting his head on the top bunk in the process. With a groan and a rub of his sore head, Peter takes a massive intake of fresh air and shudders at its release. He hasn’t had that one in a while. Usually, it was about Uncle Ben or Liz. Sometimes on a bad night, they would merge into one. It probably has something to do with patrol last night.

Peter whips his hand under his pillow and pulls out his smashed phone, checking the time. And yep. He was gonna be late.

He had ten minutes to get changed and run to the station to catch the train. He would swing but he knows that if he starts he won’t be able to stop until he’s sneaking into second period with a watchful MJ on his case and eventual detention for tardiness. After-school patrolling will have to do today; he can skip decathlon practice to make up for it. Not like they have a competition to prepare for anytime soon anyway. Win-win.

Peter is already up, dressed and brushing his teeth by the next time May calls him.

“Peter? You better be up.” She calls from the Kitchen where Peter can clearly smell her and the lunch she’s prepared for him, as well as hear her keys lightly clink against her phone in her pocket and the creaking of her footsteps on the wooden floorboards.

Great, it was another one of those days where his heightened senses won’t switch off. His nightmare is probably to blame.

Spitting out the paste and washing off his brush, Peter jogs to his room and grabs his backpack, flinging it on. It wasn’t heavy, well not much was heavy to him anyway; his bag only had a couple of homework assignments in it and his suit and shooters. The essentials.

“I’m up, I’m up,” Peter huffs as he walks into the kitchen to grab an apple and kiss his aunt goodbye.

“Hey, hey. Hold up. Freeze, young man.”

Peter stills from his spot opening the front door and turns to his aunt.

“Did you have another nightmare tonight sweetie?” She asked sadly, looking down from Peter’s dishevelled expression and dark circles to grab his lunch and hand it to him.

Peter knew that lying to his Aunt is impossible, well besides Spiderman. That’s less of a lie and more withholding the truth if anything. Or so he tells himself.

“Yeah, but I’ll be fine. I got a good few hours in tonight so it’s not too bad,” He says putting on a smile, taking his lunch from May and kissing her on the cheek once more, “Bye May! Gotta run or I'll be late.”

With that Peter rushes out the door to run to the station, realising that he’ll be on the receiving end of a passionate lecture tonight about self –care and potential therapists.

Peter reaches the platform just on time; he even nabs a seat at the end of the train. He plugs in his earphones and thinks about the events of the last couple of months.

It was exactly three months ago since Ned found out he was Spiderman, thanks to the whole lego death star incident. It was two months ago that he and Ned completed his Spiderman suit. It wasn’t anything fancy, but it was a lot better than his first suit as much as he was fond of it. It took them a whole month to finish, with a little help from Mrs Leeds who just wrote it off as an adolescent dress up phase. Ned and Peter saved all their pocket change, lunch money and sold some old toys to save up for the good quality material, which they bought in bulk due to the fact that Spiderman was prone to rips and tears. All in all, it was a decent suit; the public had certainly taken a liking to it too. #spideygotstyle was trending on twitter for two days! Peter and Ned were so proud.

Homecoming was one month ago. Peter still didn’t like to think about it. He recalls Stark industries tweeting about the incident afterwards, thanking Spiderman for his brave actions and asking him to reach out and get in touch. Ned had almost had an aneurysm. Although, after some thought, a lot of arguing, pros and cons lists and several sleepless nights, Peter and Ned agreed it would be best not to contact Stark industries. Their reasoning had been simple. Stark industries equal Tony stark equals Iron man equals the avengers equals attention that neither Ned nor Peter wanted. Also, they had a light bulb moment. Stark Industries (AKA Tony Stark) had asked them to reach out, which means he doesn’t know who Spiderman is or else he would have contacted by now. After a recent Avenger showdown against some evil organisation and the rescuing of an unknown person on their part, Peter figured that if they needed help they’d ask but didn’t realise until after the fact that they probably didn’t know who he was.

It was all so complicated.

Peter turned his head to look out the train window only to notice that this was his stop, he rushed out the closing doors and ran down the station stairs, knowing the bell was about to ring any second.

 Peter arrived at the front steps of Midtown High with exactly three minutes to spare; he sighed in relief and rolled his soldiers as he walked up the steps and into the main building, mentally preparing himself for the day to come.

 

 

A day

“Hey, Pete! I saw the news last night, dude, that was awesome!” Ned greeted in a half-whisper shout that Peter was sure half the cafeteria could still hear.

Peter adjusted his bag straps and sat opposite to Ned and offered him a weak, tired smile. Ned took the hint and offered Peter his sandwich that he claimed not to want anyway and that he could have and watched as Peter ate his own lunch as well as Ned's sandwich and lay his head down on crossed arms on top of the cafeteria table.

Ned knew the signs by now and could sometimes predict what days Peter would show up late to school, be extremely tired all day or have really sensitive hearing based on the previous night’s news.

If Spiderman was documented late at night involved in saving people from a particularly gruesome disaster, then Ned expected all three symptoms to be displayed and it was routine for Peter to hideaway in the bathrooms at break the next day and sleep at lunch accompanying Ned and occasionally MJ. Today was predictably one of those days as Spiderman was seen last night at two in the morning saving a whole apartment complex of people from a fire.

Also, Ned knew what had happened at homecoming. Peter doesn’t know that he knows but Ned figured if he wanted to talk about it, he would open up in his own time. The burning, crumbling building probably set off some sort of triggering memory in Peter and Ned would never force Peter to talk about a situation he wasn’t comfortable with. Peter’s been through enough as it is.

“If you hand me your backpack I’ll do your physics homework for next period,” Ned whispered to his tired friend, who he knew couldn’t have possibly finished the homework last night.

Peter groaned lightly at himself for forgetting about his homework, it was just homework but to him, it was another thing he had failed at. Peter slipped his backpack off and handed it to Ned without taking his head off the table. He mumbled a thank you that only Ned would understand and shrunk back into his cross-armed position.

Sometime in-between all this, MJ had quietly sat herself down at the empty lunch table a seat between the two boys and shot a questioning glance in Ned’s direction.

Ned mouthed the word ‘nightmare’ to MJ and she slowly nodded her head before taking out her sketch pad and pencil, drawing another doodle to add to her Struggling™ Peter Parker collection.

Michelle Jones was no dumbass. She knew exactly what Peter and Ned were hiding but she couldn’t bring herself to confront them about it. Maybe it was the way Peter looked so defeated and haunted seemingly every time she was about to tell them to cut the shit or maybe she just likes watching them squirm when she asks a question in suspicion and finding their excuses and splutters absolutely hilarious. Maybe it was a bit of both.

Although MJ would never admit it, the reason she helped Ned finish Peter’s homework in time for the bell and warded off Flash whenever Peter got like this was that she cared for Peter and what he was doing was making a huge impact on their hometown.

Physics went by quickly, all homework was handed in and Peter was feeling a little bit more refreshed with almost an hour nap under his belt and some lunch helped a ton. Soon, last period was over and he rushed out Midtown High, narrowly avoiding an interaction with Flash. He sent Ned a quick text to tell him he was going on patrol and if he was up for it he could use his guy in the chair for a little while. It was Peter’s way of saying thank you for the homework, truth be told Peter doesn’t really need Ned on normal patrol nights because his senses are enough but Ned was so excited when he finally gifted Peter with his very own communication earpiece that connected straight to his, so he figured there was no harm. Besides, Ned was entertaining to talk to when Spiderman wasn’t urgently needed.

 

 

A night

It was moments like these when Peter regretted his choice of being Spiderman for a split second. The sounds of the woman in Spiderman’s arms in hysterics over being jumped in the alley they were in now overwhelmed him and his sleep-deprived brain. The man was clearly a drunk and was halfway to unzipping his pants when Peter had stepped in. He was out cold now; webbed to the wall in the most uncomfortable position Peter could manage to get him in as he tried to soothe the woman until the police came.

“He- he tried to,” She would try and say but cut herself off with another round of sobs as she clung to peter’s body like a lifeline.

“You’re okay now, he’ll never touch you again,” Peter tried his best to soothe as he lifted the woman and began walking towards the approaching sirens at the end of the alley, “Can you hear those sirens? They’re the good guys” Peter said as he continued to walk with the woman in his arms towards the lights and loud sounds.

The woman nodded her head and looked upwards to the police car that had stopped in front of them. A middle-aged man and a younger female officer rushed out the car with their weapons raised.

Upon seeing Spiderman with the victim in his arms, the male officer lowered the weapon and nodded towards the masked man.

“Suspect?” He asked in a rough voice.

“Down the alley; webbed to the wall,” Peter replied in a solemn voice.

The woman had gone into shock at this point and remained silent and motionless as Peter walked towards the approaching ambulance and waited to hand her over to the paramedics.

The male officer motioned for the other to grab the perp as he waited with Spiderman. He had told himself that if he’d ever meet the masked hero during duty in Queens then he would have no choice but to arrest the vigilante and take him in for questioning, no matter how good he believed the hero to be. It was his job after all. However, watching Spiderman gently place the shocked woman on the gurney and politely fill in the paramedics on her situation as well as comfort the woman, he was already rethinking.

It wasn’t long until the paramedics had shot away and Spiderman was readying his wrists to swing away before the officer spoke to him,

“Look, spider-thing. I’m supposed to be taking you in right now but I’ll let you off this one time. I would tell you to stop putting yourself in danger but I have a feeling that you’ll ignore me,” The officer started.

Spiderman rose his head and did a once over of the cop, he seemed a decent guy and his spidey senses weren’t buzzing so he figured he’d hear out what the officer was going to say next. Peter nodded his head at the man to continue, this was the first time he’d talked to any officer as Spiderman that wasn’t trying to unmask him.

“Look, I know this isn’t your area of specialty but there’s some things going down in the police department right now. We’re getting a new director but the guy seems fishy as all hell.” The officer sighed and ran his hand through his short hair, “I know it’s not your problem man and I can’t tell you where I’m getting this info but I think this guy could really damage the city.” The officer confessed with pleading eyes.

Peter was shocked at first; a task like this would be extremely difficult. Probably take a lot of time and planning. He didn’t even know if this guy was trustworthy. Although, that wasn’t going to stop him from helping those that needed to be helped and if there was a chance of a threat, then Peter sure as hell wasn’t going to ignore it.

“Any problem of Queens is a problem of mine. I’ll take a look into it.” Spiderman stepped forward with an outstretched hand, to which the officer returned with a firm shake and a nod of the head.

And then Spiderman was gone. Into the night and disappearing through the skyline.

 

Chapter Text

 

Peter’s thoughts were consumed by last night’s interaction. How could this guy be so bad for the city? What is he doing that has high ranking officers turning to Spiderman for help? Why couldn’t the guy say where he was getting his information from? What can Peter do to stop whatever it is this guy is doing?

It was Friday lunch now and Peter had just sat across from Ned in his usual seat before Ned was jumping down his throat;

“Peter, what the heck happened last night man? You’ve been in your head all day. Of course, it happens when I go to bed” Ned asks Peter worryingly.

Peter sighed in relief; it was great having Ned know about Spiderman. Especially at this moment when Peter was out of his depth. He didn’t even know how to start looking into this case, it’s not like he can barge in and web up the head of the police department.

Peter told Ned everything that had happened last night and by the end of his rant, Ned was practically vibrating in his seat. Ned and Peter haven’t had a proper investigation since homecoming and Ned knew that this wouldn’t be as simple as chasing down a big metal bird. Peter would have to insert himself in the investigation, gather as much information as he can, find out what was going on, collect evidence and take the guy down. It was like an episode of a cheesy detective show.

Ned shared his theories with Peter and how this would be very time consuming if they were to go through with it.

“That’s if it’s even real though, Ned,” Peter said sceptically, “If Spiderman is getting involved then we need to verify that there is a threat first.”

“I can help with that,” Came MJ’s voice from behind them.

Peter jumped at the intrusion and Ned squeaked a little in surprise. Spidey senses be damned. They turned to look at MJ with wide eyes and gaping expressions.

“I’ve been standing here for the last ten minutes, nerds. You guys really need to be a bit more careful” She says calmly. Taking a seat next to Ned and looking across at Peter, “Let me help. Give me a couple of days and I’ll tell you if there really is something going down or not.” She states firmly.

Ned and Peter aren’t sure how to respond, it’s not like they can lie their way out of this one.

“We were talking about a new video game if you wanna help you totally can but its only two players.” Ned attempted to lie anyway.

Peter groaned a little and put his head in his hands, he was far too tired for this right now. He’d have to remind Ned to never lie ever again because he was officially the worst at it.

“Do I look like a dumbass?” MJ asked Ned and turned back to Peter who met her eye, “Look, you’re secret is safe with me. I’ve known since our trip to DC. Let me help.”

Peter could see how people would consider MJ intimidating. She had this determined spark in her eyes and an overwhelming resting bitch face that worked really well on Peter.

“Okay, let’s meet after school today so we can all talk properly” Peter arranged as the bell signalling the end of lunch rang.

Ned looked up at Peter in disbelief and MJ just nodded her head and left.

 On their way to next class Ned had finally burst.

“Dude, why did you tell her?”

“I didn’t. She already knew and we couldn’t lie our way out of that one. Trust me Ned, I don’t like this anymore than you do but she was right, we could use her help.” Peter was surprised at Ned’s head nod of acceptance and they tabled the conversation for after school with MJ.

Peter really did hate the fact that he had dragged Ned and now MJ into dangerous Spiderman stuff, but his friends were a force to be reckoned with.


 

After the final bell rang the trio met outside at the front gates and decided to walk to Delmars for a sandwich. They chatted about their classes together for a bit and homework assignments before arriving at Peter and May’s apartment.

“May will be at work late tonight so we have the place to ourselves,” Peter mumbled as he fiddled with his keys, letting Ned and MJ into his home and closing the door behind them.

“How long have you been Spiderman?” MJ asked from her spot on the couch.

Ned took a seat next to MJ and made himself comfortable, he flicked through his phone finding something to distract himself from MJ’s serious tone.

“About a year now,” Peter answered honestly, “How long have you really known?”

“I’ve had my suspicions since you started, but it wasn’t confirmed until DC” MJ snorted, “Thanks for that by the way.”

Peter nodded his head and fidgeted a bit in his spot.

“Tell me what you’re working on a bit more. I can help.” MJ said after a few moments of silence.

Peter sighed and ran his hand through his hair, “It’s nothing solid. I just ran into a police officer on parole last night and he gave me a heads up on some changes happening in the police department that could harm the city. Something about a new director that’s dirty.”

“And you don’t believe him?” MJ questions, thinking back on Ned and Peter’s conversation she had listened in on at lunch.

“I do, I mean,” Peter hesitated. “He seemed believable enough. I don’t think he was lying. He was just being stingy on the details.” Peter clarified.

“Plus,” Ned piped up as he tore his attention away from his phone, “This is a pretty big operation. Peter is going to have to work this for a while, it won’t be easy. So we need to make sure that there actually is something going down before Spiderman gets involved. We can’t take one guy's word for it.” He finished.

“Hm” MJ considered the dilemma for a few seconds before she made up her mind, “As I said, give me a couple of days. I’ll let you know if it’s worth looking into or not.” She finalised.

They talked for a long time; probably a couple of hours, MJ had a lot of questions about Spiderman. When MJ had run out of questions and the conversation had ended, she stood from her spot on the couch and waved goodbye.

“Thanks, MJ. Please be careful” Peter warned.

“Of course.” MJ nodded.

MJ was opening the front door when Ned’s gasp of a silent ‘oh my God’ caught her attention.

“Oh my God,” He said again louder, scrambling up from the couch and grabbing Peter’s TV remote from the dining table. “Guys, look.”

Ned switched on the TV and MJ and Peter watched as he flicked to the news station where a live recording of a surprise Avengers conference was being played.

There on stage were the avengers, decked out in suits and fancy attire, seated in a row typical for professional news appearances.

Peter’s heart raced as his eyes trailed along to look at most of the avengers seated in the same frame at the same time. Sightings of this many avengers together were unbelievably rare, unless it’s pictures from battles.

The best dressed was Tony Stark, wearing his signature shades and fancy suits. He was doing most the talking from his position in the middle. To his left was the Captain America who was dressed in smart but less flashy clothing, he had a serious expression on his face. Peter wondered what he’d look like smiling. If he thought his expression was serious and slightly intimidating, he wasn’t prepared for the face of the man sitting next to the Captain. Peter wasn’t sure who it was, didn’t recognise him at all. He had a fair bit of dark facial hair and long brown hair, peter noted the way one arm looked slightly bigger than the other.

“Who’s the new guy?” MJ asked in an unimpressed tone, asking the same question they were all thinking. Peter shrugged, unable to tear his eyes away from the screen. This was awesome.

“Dude, look at Thor’s hammer!” Ned fangirled.

Sure enough, Thor’s hammer was sat on top of the table in front of where he sat on Tony Stark’s opposite side.

Peter choked a little upon seeing the Dr Bruce Banner seated next to Thor. He looked mildly uncomfortable but seemed to be keeping calm. Which Peter was sure everyone appreciated.

“I am sure you are all curious as to why we called this press conference,” Tony Stark started in a tone that screamed media trained, “The Avengers are here to introduce our newest member.”

Voices in the crowd rose and questions were being shouted all at once, a wave of camera flashes shone in the direction of the avengers.

“Dude! what if it’s you?” Ned shouted excitedly.

“No way it’s Spiderman, I would’ve noticed an email from Tony Stark or an official invitation through the mail,” Peter deadpanned.

“It’s obviously that guy,” MJ gestured to the mysterious brunette seated next to Captain America.

“World, meet Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, World War two veteran and super soldier.”

Ned and Peter blanched at this. Tony Starks announcement was met with even more flashes and shouting.

“He is part of the team and will protect the world to the best of his abilities, as we all do.” Captain America added.

No questions from reporters were taken and the Avengers were soon gone from the stage.

The live recording ended abruptly and Ned switched off the TV, turning back to Peter and MJ.

“What just happened?” Ned asked in disbelief.

“Earth just got another protector,” Peter replied happily.

“Well yeah, but like, who the heck is he?” Ned questioned, still perplexed at the sudden news.

“Sergeant James Buchanan Barnes, a former officer of the 107th Infantry Regiment during World War Two. Known for being an incredibly accurate shot.” MJ read from her phone, “it says on New York Museum’s website that he fought alongside Captain America in the Howling Commandos Unit and they were apparently close friends until his apparent death in 1944.”

“He seems pretty alive to me,” Peter mumbled.

“Did you see how cool he looked? Man, he could crush me like a grape,” Ned rambled in excitement.

“Remember that rescue mission the Avengers went on recently? You think they were getting him?” Peter thought out loud as he was finally starting to fit the pieces together.  

Ned seemed to think for a moment until it hit him too.

“Most likely. He was probably a prisoner or something.” MJ shrugged as she headed back towards the front door, “see you losers on Monday.”

“How can she seem so uninterested in all this? This is awesome! There’s a new avenger” Ned exclaimed when MJ left as he bounced on his heels.

Peter didn’t know what to think. The guy seemed really dark and intimidating but he figured that it was just how he came across over the television. The Avengers have saved the world countless times, Peter admired them, so if they decided to add a new member then it was probably for good reason.

“What happens now, Ned?” Peter asked, no longer distracted by the avengers “do I just ignore the problem until MJ gets back to us and act like it never happened? I should do something, right? I hate waiting around and doing nothing.”

Peter falls back onto the couch with his head in his hands, his nightmares were becoming more frequent and he couldn’t help the nagging feeling in the back of his mind like something big was coming.

“Peter, take it easy for a couple of days. Collect yourself. I told you this one will take more time. Less throwing hands in a bright red suit and more covert investigating.” Ned said sympathetically.

Peter knew Ned was right, he had to be patient. He should get himself under control; he was slowly becoming worse mentally since homecoming but he needed something to take his mind off of his personal problems and what better way to do that than taking down a potential criminal mastermind.

Chapter Text

When Monday morning finally rolled around, Peter had to bite his tongue to hold back his building frustration. His weekend had been anything but relaxing. Peter had patrolled every day and night endlessly, but with every criminal he put away and civilian he saved, his spidey sense would never silence. The endless numbing in the back of his neck and the constant chills that wracked his whole body had been haunting him ever since he had spoken to the police officer. Sleep for Peter was sparse enough, now Peter was running on next to nothing as he was kept awake at night in fear of something happening.

Peter was up and ready for the day much earlier than necessary. Peter knew that there was something sinister brewing behind the scenes of New York’s police department and was certain that his spidey sense was trying to warn him so Peter was anxious to find out what MJ had discovered. Peter knew first-hand how much of an amazing detective MJ was so he figured that whatever she had found out would be accurate.

Texting MJ and Ned to meet him outside Midtown High early to talk, Peter left a note for his aunt May telling her he had to go to school early to prepare for a presentation and softly shut their apartment door behind him.


 

All weekend Ned had worried about his best friend. He had known Peter for years and could always read him like a book, even when he was Spiderman and didn’t know. Ned had hoped that the whole situation turned out to be nothing but by the way his friend was slowly spiralling and obsessing over the incident, Ned knew that Spiderman could sense a threat. Ned had learnt by now that Peter was stubborn and wouldn’t rest until the issue was solved. Literally. He could see Peter’s eyes becoming sunken and his cheeks hollowing. Peter’s laugh didn’t sound quite as genuine since before homecoming.

“He’s spiralling.” Ned pointed out quietly to MJ as they stood by the gates of Midtown High waiting for Peter to show up.

“I know,” MJ whispers without looking at Ned.

MJ knew that her friend was suffering, she wanted nothing more than to reach out and help Peter but she wouldn’t know where to begin, she suspects Ned is in the same boat as her. How could a couple of average teenagers help with mutant superhero problems and possible PTSD?

“All we can do is make sure he knows he’s not alone in this and keep an eye on him,” MJ spoke, knowing Ned will agree.

“Hey, guys!” A couple of minutes later Peter gracefully jogged up to the two looking tired.

Ned and Peter began the iconic friendship handshake that MJ had watched them do several times before and rolled her eyes.

“Follow me, nerds, the music room is always empty in the mornings so we can talk there.”

The music room of Midtown High was tiny compared to other classrooms. Due to the fact that Midtown was bigger on the maths and science side of education, artistic subjects such as music were not held to the highest regard. Which was a shame, Peter loved to play the piano; was incredibly gifted at it. His uncle had taught him. He would have loved to be able to take classes at school.

“Okay, so” MJ started as she switched on the lights to the empty classroom and closed the door after Ned and Peter.

“I found out quite a lot over the weekend.” She alluded as she gestured for Peter and Ned to take a seat as she stood upfront.

MJ retrieved a black binder from her bag and held onto it as she spoke, “First thing I did was take a look into significant news articles regarding police in New York city and discovered a few patterns,” MJ pulled out the first piece of paper from her binder and handed it to Peter who read it with Ned looking over his shoulder “the number of police brutality cases has risen almost twenty per cent in the past six months”.

MJ passed another sheet of paper to Ned and Peter, the title of the article handed to them read ‘Petition for a new director of police for NY’

“Due to rising brutality rates, pressure from the public and the lack of adequate response on behalf of the police force, the current director is being pushed out.” The next paper from the binder is handed over, “he will be officially replaced soon by that guy”. MJ gestured to the new paper in Peter’s hands.

It was another article reading ‘To-be new head of police, Edward Park, promises a safer city and a trustworthy police force’ and a picture of an average-looking man staring into the camera with a smiling face and a waving hand.   

“The media love him. He’s got a track recorded in other states for flipping poor-performing police departments into some of the best in the country.”

“So,” Ned starts, confused “This is good right? The new guy will clean up the previous guys' mess. Maybe this whole thing will sort itself out.” Ned suggests.

“It does sound as if anyone was corrupt it would be the old department leader. Maybe the officer I spoke to meant him and he’s being replaced so he won’t be a problem anymore anyway.”  Peter agrees, reluctantly. Part of it still didn’t make sense to him though, why did he feel uneasy when he looked at the picture of the man in the article.

MJ nodded her head in agreement. “That is exactly what I thought. Until I remembered that on Thursday after school at decathlon practice, Betty was really upset about her dad losing his job and potentially being moved to a less expensive school”.

“Wait what? Betty is moving?” Ned looked up surprised and hurt clear on his face.

“Don’t tell her I told you,” she sighed “I didn’t think much of it at first. Then I remembered- just when I thought that there was nothing suspicious going on- that Betty said her dad worked at the Queens Police department. And not just as any cop, he was a highly respected detective that solved some of the most high profile murders pre-spiderman”. MJ pulled out another article from her binder and handed it to the boys.

Ned and Peter were shocked when they stared at the article celebrating the amazing work of “Detective Spencer” in the capture of a child murderer. The man didn’t have the same last name as Betty but Peter could note the similarity in the nose and eyes.

“This is Betty’s dad?” Ned asked, not believing it for a second.

“Yes,” MJ clarified “he changed his last name when he started dealing with ongoing serial killers to protect his family’s identity, which is why no one knew about it at school to make a big deal out of”.

“How was he fired if he was this cool?”

Peter was thinking about the same thing.

“Betty said she didn’t know. Her father wouldn’t tell her anything about it and seemed to want to move out of Queens. And the whole of New York. Weird, right? So I dug into this case in a lot more depth. I thought it was the old director cause he’s the one in charge and making these decisions- but guess what,” MJ begins to talk faster and pace in front of the boys who looked on in intrigue “the guy hasn’t been seen in months. The newspapers have no new photos of him and the land his family home is on has been bought by a private buyer. No one knows where he is, just assumes he fled from the embarrassment of being replaced”. MJ stopped and looked at Peter and Ned expecting them to get what she was trying to build up to.

Peter and Ned had no clue.

MJ rolled her eyes and continued on “So I looked into the new guy, Edward Park. I dug into police records from all the states he used to work in and had a huge impact on, which was a long list, and discovered that every time he became the department head, he was taking over from the previous director due to poor performance. I dove into the specifics and look,” MJ handed over another piece of paper that looked really confusing, even to Peter, “Those are performance rate figures from all the police departments Edward Park took over. Every department was doing fine until almost exactly six months before Edward Park came into power when they plummeted and then skyrocketed after he gained power”. MJ looked at Peter and Ned. “He is still in command of all those departments”.

Peter looked down at the long list of police departments in his hand and realised that this man was in charge of a large chunk of America’s overall police force.

“He’s very powerful,” Peter thought out loud, “a lot of influence”.

“How do we know he’s doing this for bad though? From what you’re describing, what if the low-performance figures before all his take-overs were coincidental? then he is still making more of a positive impact than anything”. Ned added.

MJ wasn’t bothered by Ned’s question, “Here’s the kicker,” she started with strong conviction in her tone, “All previous directors before Park, the ones who were in control when performance levels plummeted, have seemingly fallen from the face of the earth”. MJ stated seriously.

Peter didn’t like that implication. That was over fifteen, hard-working police commanders unaccounted for.

“So what you’re saying is,” Ned started slowly, “this Edward Parks guy has killed those people?”

Peter and MJ made eye contact, the question lingering in the air.

“All I’m saying are the facts. And the facts are that the current Director of the New York police department has not been seen in person in close to six months, ever since brutality rates have risen. The private buyer that bought the land his family home is on is a company that bought land in over fifteen other states. All the same states Edward Parks has worked”. MJ finished her rant. “This reeks of organised crime”.

Peter nods his head and the three sit in silence, thinking over the information presented.

“What’s the first course of action for this kind of thing?” Peter asks out loud, not expecting an answer.

“We hand it over to the police.” Ned states.

“He is the police” MJ shoots Ned down before Peter can; “this asshole is powerful and hasn’t been caught so far. That means he probably has influence all over. Might not just be the police force. Could be FBI. Could be Government. We don’t know.”

“We need to find out,” Peter adds. “We don’t even know what he is getting out of this. Don’t know what he’s doing with this power, just that he’s forcing his way in and disposing of old Police directors. We need to find out what the organised crime part is. And we need a lot of evidence to prove it”

“Well, we know he’s letting people go,” Ned suggests.

Peter nods looking up to MJ, “He’s right”.

MJ nods and silence settles once more.

“Are we really doing this?” Ned asks nervously, “Like going after this guy? For real?”

“I think we have to”. MJ answers.

“Then we will”. Ned says solemnly.

“If it was up to me, I’d be doing this alone,” Peter says and cuts off both Ned and MJ before they argue “but, I know you’re both too stubborn to let it go. Plus, you’re both really smart in different ways”. Peter turns to Ned, “Ned I’ll need your help with the technology side of things; my guy in the chair,” Peter then stands and walks over to MJ “MJ, your research skills and general common sense would prepare us for just about anything”

Ned beams in pride at his compliment and MJ tries to hide the excitement of finally feeling wanted as part of something that matters.

“You don’t need to pitch a recruitment scheme to us nerd, we’re already in”. MJ scoffs

“I know,” Peter smiles then looks between Ned and MJ, “what I’m trying to say is; everything goes through me. I’ll be the one doing all the leg work. I heal, you guys don’t. I want you both as far away from this as possible but still helping. If anything goes wrong, it’ll be tracked back to me and not you guys. If something does down, you both run the other way and don’t look back. If you want to help, you’re going to have to promise me that.”

Ned shivers at the seriousness in his friend’s tone.

“I cannot have you guys getting hurt”. Peter finishes when he is met with silence.

“We promise, Peter,” MJ says quietly, remembering that Peter was a real-life hero; Spiderman. She would ultimately trust him to call the shots.

 “Yeah, Promise” Ned nods.

Chapter Text

By the end of the day, a plan had been devised. According to MJ, Edward Park will officially take over as Head of New York police department by the next morning. They had to get into a routine quickly.

Peter’s initial instinct was to find out where the guy lived, break into his house and gather the information that way. MJ had refuted Peter’s plan with the outstanding fact that they don’t know where Edward Park lived. His address is not available as public information and no amount of hacking on Ned’s part or researching on MJ’s would uncover a location. Spiderman had even tried to tail Edward home from work once but found it impossible as he would seemingly disappear.

The trio had decided it was best to start with stake-outs after school and on the weekend to get an idea of Edward's routine. Luckily enough, due to Peter’s extensive knowledge of the Queens Area rooftops, he knew that there was a quiet apartment complex roof straight across from the station that would be a perfect base of operation.

Ned was the one that came up with the idea to plant listening devices into Park’s office as well as tap his office phone, him and Peter would be able to make the devices themselves given a couple of days. MJ had run with the idea and was working on finding out the best way for Peter to sneak in, place the bugs and get out.

It wasn’t until their first stake-out, on top of the high roof, looking down into the window of Edward Park that they realised how illegal this was.

“Dude,” Ned started, looking up from the little device in his hand that he was rewiring “this is so illegal. Peter, we are literally making devices to listen in on classified police information. MJ, I’m pretty sure you said you are googling how to manipulate the actual police department’s security cameras. And we’re all sitting on a rooftop, stalking some bad guy that has more influence than the mafia”.  

Peter looked up from his crouched spot over his half-made listening device and noticed that Ned wasn’t really freaking out. Knowing his friend, this was probably fun to Ned.

“I mean, you can leave if you want”. MJ deadpanned without looking up from her laptop.

The conversation had ended there.

After the first few days of stake-out, Peter, Ned and MJ finally caught a good look at Edward's face. Usually, they only see the back of his head and sometimes his side profile. Obviously, they had seen pictures of him but they hadn’t seen Edward's face up close.

Edward Park answered his office phone and stood from his chair, walking over to the window where he stood with one hand in his pocket and the other holding his phone to his ear as he looked out onto the street below.

That was him. Peter would think. He looked like an average guy yet his senses made him shudder when he looked into his eyes.

Peter focused on his hearing and listened to the conversation as best he could. It was faint but he could still make out what Park was saying.

After Edward had hung up and walked away from the window back to his desk, MJ and Ned turned to Peter.

“He was talking to a woman from the newspaper. All I could make out was that he would take tomorrow morning off to meet her”. Peter informed, still feeling shivers in the back of his head where the man’s deep voice would be forever ingrained.

MJ nodded in confirmation and Ned awed at Peter’s awesome hearing.

“Ned, are you two finished with the tech yet?” MJ asked seriously.

Ned glanced down at his hands and then to Peter’s pile of tech.

“Almost. Just fixing a few things on the phone tapper”

“You think we should do it tomorrow?” Peter asked MJ.

“Yes, it would be the perfect opportunity. Edward won’t be in and they would never expect someone to break in during broad daylight”

“Then we do it tomorrow. What time?” Peter wondered out loud.

“We should do it super early so we give ourselves enough time”. Ned suggested.

Peter went out to patrol that night-even got a nasty black eye to prove it- like he did every night and as usual he couldn’t sleep. His mind wouldn’t shut off and it took Peter literally passing out at times to get rest. Peter knew that he couldn’t keep living like this, he promised himself that when school and Spiderman settled down a bit he would focus more on his health. Then his Aunt May made him promise her he’d start looking after himself, so he intended to keep it.

He’d just have to suck it up for a while longer.


 

Peter didn’t have to leave Aunt May a note that morning because he knew she was on the late shift last night so she would be sleeping in all Saturday morning, never mind be up at this god awful hour. He packed his Spiderman suit and dressed in all black and headed out to meet Ned and MJ at their usual spot.

“Why did I suggest 5 AM again?” Ned groaned

“You know you can’t go in as Spiderman, right?” MJ asked as Peter arrived, eyeing his backpack and black eye, ignoring Ned’s comment.

“Why not?” Ned asked instead of Peter, looking a little tired.

MJ rolled her eyes. She looked and acted the same as always so Peter couldn’t tell if she was tired or not.

“This has nothing to do with Spiderman yet. If we mess up then Spiderman can’t be linked back to it. Here,” MJ said, taking his backpack off of him and tossing Peter a black beanie hat “wear that. If you get caught, ditch a few of the dark layers and bat your eyes.”

Peter pulled on the beanie and accepted MJ’s logic; Spiderman would only be a last resort in this case.

“Try not to rely on your powers too. It’s bright so anyone can see you. Focus on those senses most.” MJ coached as she fussed over her laptop for a second before approaching Peter.

Ned joined and handed Peter his earpiece as he slid in his own.

“I have the distraction set up. All you have to do is wait for Ned’s word, the security cameras will stop for five minutes, in and out. We can go home and take turns listening in on Park.” MJ repeated the plan again.

“Guys, I have complete faith in this plan and all. But remember your promises. If something goes wrong, don’t try to step in. I’ll deal with whatever it is.” Peter reminded seriously. He directed the statement more at MJ because he knew she was most likely to break a promise if she believed it was for the right thing, Ned would never because he knew how much it meant to Peter.

“Understood,” MJ confirmed robotically. She looked into Peter’s eyes and Peter stared back. There were a few seconds of unspoken concerns until Ned cleared his throat.

“Come on guys, let’s get this going!” Ned chirped, sounding a lot more awake now.

“Okay” Peter sighed out

Normally Peter would walk down the side of the building but he opted for the stairs as he remembered he wasn’t in the suit.

Peter stood on the opposite side of the road from the police department and waited for his signal.

“It’s so early that only the front desk people are in,” Ned said through his earpiece.

Peter waited and scanned the inside of the building through the windows and used his hearing to try to detect other people but came up blank.

Two car alarms a couple of minutes down the road started going off at the same time, “Okay, casually make your way over now” Ned said in his ear seconds after.

As Peter crossed the road, two police officers that Peter recognised as the front desk operators rushed out of the station and began jogging towards the noise.

“Is that your car?” Peter could hear one of the officers ask the other.

Peter walked straight into the police station and pulled his hood up to cover his face more. He made his way to the stairs and started running up to the top floor where he knew Edward's office was.

Once he made it to the office he began to place the bugs in the most inconspicuous places he could find. Under the desk. In the light shade. Stuck under the bin. One hidden on the side of a painting hanging up on the wall.

“You’ve got to hurry Peter, they’re about to head back,” came Ned’s voice in his ear.

Peter rushed to hook up the tap into the office phone and dashed out of there, rushing down the stairs.

“Where are they?” He asked as he made it back down to the lobby.

“On their way back, MJ says just to walk out casually and act like you didn’t do anything. She says turn right on the way out down the first alley you see and then run” Ned responded quickly.

Peter did exactly what he was told and casually walked out of the building.

“Did that guy with the black eye just walk out of the station?” Peter heard one of the police officers ask the other from their position in front of their cars up the road.

“Yeah,” the other said “HEY YOU! WAIT!” He yelled just as Peter turned into the first alley he could find, away from their sight.

“Get out of there, Peter! They’re running!”

Peter didn’t have to be told twice as he sprinted to the end of the alley and began to make turns down random streets.

“Don’t forget to lose the extra clothing. They’re less likely to recognise you!”

Peter threw his hat off in one direction and began pulling his dark hoodie over his head, all while still running. He dumped the hoodie in a nearby garbage bin and turned another corner onto a different small alleyway that he was sure connected to the main street close to central park.

“Crap,” Peter huffed as he scraped to a halt on his feet at what he was met with, nearly tripping in the process. His senses started to tingle slightly.

And there – almost 40 feet away from him- stood probably the tallest, most buff man he’d ever seen.

The man was wearing a baseball cap along with jogging gear. He was staring at Peter who was frozen in shock at the large man whose face he couldn’t see because of the cap. A buzz of danger at the base of his neck ached.

Peter was still panting from the chase and could faintly hear Ned saying that the officers had slowed own but were still looking for him.

It wasn’t until Peter looked down to the left in front of the man, that he saw another large figure balled up against the wall on the ground taking loud, struggling breaths.

Peter’s protective instinct kicked in and he took a step forward as he harnessed his adrenaline.

“Step away from him,” Peter said wearily, with his hand held out and inching closer to the two figures as the guy could pounce at any moment.

Peter assumed the guy in the hat was beating on this other dude before Peter interrupted. Not having any clue that he just stumbled upon the Captain America and Winter Soldier.

“I –I don’t. I didn’t-” Steve said unsurely as he gestured helplessly at Bucky who sat on the ground with his head tucked between his knees and his grey sleeve-covered arms wrapped around his head.

Peter stopped in his tracks and tried to get another good like at Steve’s face but couldn’t so he focused his hearing on the other man and figured he knew what was going on.

“Is this your friend?” Peter asked gently as he quietly made his way towards the man curled up on the ground.

Peter slipped down next to Bucky at about an arm’s length away. Completely forgetting about the people chasing him.

“Yeah, yes. We were just- and he,” Steve stumbled over his words. Peter felt bad for the guy, it must be horrible for people to watch their friends experience panic attacks without knowing how to help. “I can’t lose him again.”

Peter looked up at the man but still couldn’t make out enough features to determine a face. That was probably the most heart-breaking sentence Peter had ever heard. He could’ve sworn that he’s heard the mans voice before though.

“It’s okay,” Peter said soothingly. “Try to stay calm. Maybe stand back a little bit so you aren’t crowding him. It’ll help. Can you tell me his name?”

“Bucky” the man whispered as he took a few steps back, not knowing what else to do other than listen to this random kid. The name meant nothing to Peter as he continued to try and help without knowing who these strangers were.

Peter turned his head to the other man and noted the sweaty, long brown hair that pooled up from under his arms. Faint whispers of no and please escaped from the man.

“The date today is Friday the 23rd of September,” Peter began to speak slowly in a louder volume but gentle voice “You are in New York City. Can you hear the cars?” Peter asked.

The man didn’t respond to Peter or move an inch but his incoherent mumbling had stopped at the sound of a new voice talking to him, pulling him slowly from his episode. Peter took it as a good sign and continued.

“The cars are usually louder in New York. They are quiet because it’s really early in the morning. It looks like you and your friend went jogging” Peter continued talking, noting the man’s breathing levelling out. Peter also tried to ignore the staring coming from Steve.

“Can you feel the ground you’re sitting on?” Peter asked.

The man shuffled his foot slightly across the ground as if to confirm he was, in fact, sitting on the floor.

“If you lift your head up, you’ll be able to breathe better” Peter lowered his voice so the man knew it was a suggestion and not a command.

After a moment of silence, the man began to lift his head slowly. He looked pale and rugged. A dark beard adorned his face as well as long hair covering his eyes.

Bucky turned to look at where the kid’s voice who was talking to him came from. He didn’t expect to see a cute, scrawny kid with a black eye and no jumper. Poor guy must’ve been freezing. The kids wild, curly hair ruffled in the wind.

“I’m Peter,” The kid said innocently, obviously having no idea who he was talking to. If he did the kid would be running in the opposite direction.

“Bucky.” He replied in a rough voice back.

“Peter, I don’t know where you are right now but if you’re still in the alley’s, you have to get out now!” Came Ned’s voice, ripping Peter from reality.

Steve helped Bucky up to his feet and kept his arm firmly on his shoulder. The two super soldiers watched curiously as Peter got up also and looked over his shoulders with a hint of fear in his eyes.

“I hope you feel better soon, sir.” Peter said in a sweet voice, “I should really get home now though.”

Peter was sidestepping the two about to make a run for it when Steve put his large arm in front of Peter to stop him from getting past.

“One-second young man, I believe we owe you our thanks,” Steve said, looking down at Peter.

Steve pulled his hat off so he was able to look the boy in the eye and thank him sincerely when he noticed the recognition flash across the boys face.

Usually, after the initial shock of finding out they were speaking with Captain America, people usually become excited or flustered. Steve wasn’t expecting the boy to become even more anxious and start slowly backing away from the two.

Bucky seemed to notice too because he tensed at Peter’s reaction. Bucky hated seeing that look of fear directed towards them –especially when its a little kid- and he couldn’t help the surge of protectiveness he felt within.

Peter continued to back up from the pair slowly, only now realising he was in the presence of two avengers.

“It’s – its okay sir, really.  You should probably go home and get some rest now, panic attacks are really tiring-“ Peter directed at Bucky as he backs up more but was cut off mid embarrassing sentence.

“Look! There he is!” Shouted a voice from behind Peter.

Chapter Text

Ever since Bucky was saved from HYDRA, the team would put in a lot of effort to make him feel included and help in any way they could. Steve and Bucky's morning runs were recommended by his therapist to start up a routine and add more structure to his days.

Sam would sit up with him during the nights he couldn't sleep and they would watch random sitcoms on the television. Barton loved to find the most obscure recipes online and have Bucky recreate them to see if they were any good, Clint would say he was just hungry all the time but Bucky knew that Clint figured his affinity for cooking and was an excuse to get Bucky moving. Natasha was the only member on the team that didn't walk on eggshells around Bucky which he was thankful for. Even Bruce and Wanda took time out of their days sometimes to sit with Bucky, even if it was reading in silence. Thor was harder to be around due to his loud demeanour but the guy had some amazing stories to tell. Stark was a lot more distant than the rest, which Bucky could understand why. They had never held an actual conversation but they were civil. He was letting Bucky stay in the compound with them after all.

 

Recovery was a long process and it had only been a couple of months since he had escaped. Bucky knew that. Yet he still felt his progress was going agonizingly slow. He could barely find it in himself to talk most days and there was the permanent feeling that something was missing from his life.

Morning runs with Steve normally helped to shake off the nightmare from the night before, but it was the cold air nipping at Bucky's skin this freezing morning that had him remembering that day he fell from the train. Unsurprisingly, this wasn't Bucky's first melt-down. They didn't happen as often as you would think but it was hard-hitting when they did. His therapist told him it was completely normal to have setbacks and bad days and that recovery wasn't a straight line, but when he got into one of his episodes no one could coax him out. Not even Steve. Usually, Wanda was on hand to use her powers to calm him down or Bucky would just have to ride it out. 

 

Then there was this kid. This random kid from nowhere with puppy dog eyes and wild hair that had managed to breakthrough. The protectiveness that Bucky felt so strongly within almost scared him it was so sudden. He hadn't felt the need to protect someone in decades.

So when two police officers - to his and Steve's confusion - came running and yelling at the boy that had just helped him, Bucky didn't hesitate to step in front of the kid and block their way. It seemed Steve had the same idea.

The two officers skidded to a halt in front of the two avengers.

 

"Wow," one of them said as he stared up at Steve, "Cap- Captian America." he spluttered.

The other couldn't even manage out any words as he gaped at the supersoldiers.

 

"Officers," Steve nodded at the two in his cap voice, "Is there a problem here?"

 

"N-no, we were just looking for someone we believe may have been trespassing." The other officer answered, "We lost him in these alleyways. Found a jumper nearby so we reckon he ditched a few layers. He also had a black eye." The officer finished, nodding his head at Peter standing behind the two supersoldiers.

 

Bucky stiffened at the accusation, he was not about to hand the child over especially if it would only get the kid in trouble. Steve turned to look at Peter who, to him, looked like a frightened teenager.

Peter was in shock. Not only had he broke into the police department but he had run into two avengers who were now about to hand him over to the police. All before nine in the morning. 

Steve faced back to the officers who were wearily trying to catch a glimpse of Peter over Bucky's shoulder.

 

"Sorry officers, this young man hasn't been out of our sight so it couldn't have possibly been him." Steve lied easily, "We'll keep our eyes peeled though." 

 

The two officers didn't know how to react to Steve's obvious dismissal of the conversation and took one glance at The Winter Soldier's menacing posture before deciding it was best to leave.

"T-thank you, sir," One said as he grabbed the other by the arm and made their leave back the way they came.

 

Peter didn't know if this was good or bad for him. He wouldn't be getting detained by the police today but he still could potentially be detained by Captain America. Or worse; his secret identity exposed. He took a reflexive step back as the supersoldiers turned to face him once the police were out of sight.

Peter locked eyes with Bucky who had a stony neutral expression and his arms still crossed. Peter couldn't believe he hadn't pieced together the fact that it was the new Avengers member from the TV the first time he saw him. The guy looked every bit as intimidating as he had on the TV- if not more.

 

Steve relaxed his posture and looked curiously at the boy.

"Was it you, kid?" The Captain America asked him.

 

Peter's wide eyes met Steve's determined ones and lightly shook his head. Not trusting his voice.

There was a moment of silence where Steve assessed the boy. The kid was lying. He had a black eye and no jumper even though it was freezing out, it was no coincidence.

 

"Look, Peter right?" Steve remembered, "You can tell us if you're in any sort of trouble, kid, we can help you out."

 

Bucky nodded his head stiffly at Steve's statement, hoping Peter would understand that he wanted to help as much as Steve did.

"It's the least we can do," he spoke hoarsely.

 

"I-it's okay, really," Peter stuttered, "I just want to go home" 

Bucky felt his chest swell a little at the kid's innocent statement and he was sure that Stevie's heart was just about melted by now.

 

"Okay bud," Steve said softly, "we aren't tryna stop you. Here. Take this." 

Steve handed Peter a card from his back pocket with his number on it.

 

"We appreciate what you did. Not everyone would've stepped in and helped like that." Steve spoke as Peter examined the card.

"Don't go dishing that out to the paps, Kid." Steve joked, "just shoot me a message or ring if you ever find yourself in trouble".

 

Peter nodded his head dumbly at the blonde. What was his life? 

 

Steve chuckled and ruffled Peter's hair as he walked away from him and Bucky, pulling out his cellphone and calling for a ride back to the compound. Peter turned his attention back to Bucky and felt a chill run over his body as a gust of cold air hit his exposed arms. 

Bucky didn't know what to make of Peter or how he came to be chased by the police. He couldn't imagine the kid being a criminal. Most criminals don't stop to help strangers having panic attacks. Then there was his deep urge to shield this pure child from the world that confused Bucky.

 

"Come on, Buck!" Steve called over to his friend.

 

Carefully, Bucky unzipped his jumper and shook it off. He stepped forward cautiously and threw it around Peter's shoulders. Peter was about to protest but a hard look from Bucky kept him from arguing.

 

"Thank you, Mr- Sergeant Barnes, sir," Peter stuttered.

 

Bucky chuckled at the rare politeness, "Call me Bucky, kid".

 

Peter clung to the jumper for warmth as he watched Bucky walk away and the two avengers climb into a fancy black car and drive off. He stood in silence for a moment to allow whatever just happened to sink in.

Pulling his earpiece from his pocket where he had hidden earlier, Peter placed the tech back into his ear.

 

"You guys are not going to believe what just happened,"

Chapter Text

Ned and MJ’s reactions were exactly what Peter had expected. Once the three had met back at Ned’s empty apartment and he told them what had happened, Ned was practically wrestling Peter for Captain America’s number whilst also trying to sniff The Winder Soldier’s jumper. Peter had told him to stop being weird but Ned wouldn’t let up so Peter resorted to sticking to the living room roof to keep out of Ned’s reach.

 

MJ had fumed at the situation Peter had got himself into and theorised that the whole thing was a hoax to try and reveal Spiderman’s identity.

 

Peter had refuted the conspiracy even though it did cross his mind but it didn’t seem like a setup. If they wanted to kidnap him: they could have. MJ relented at his flippant attitude towards the encounter.

 

“If you want to keep your identity a secret, Parker, you can’t be associating with The Avengers!” She had said.

 

Ned didn’t seem to appreciate her input as the two were currently arguing over whether the Avengers are trustworthy enough to know Peter’s identity.

 

“Guys,” Peter interrupted the bickering duo, “I’m not letting them in on my identity. Obviously. This whole encounter was a one-time thing; a fluke! But I’ll hold onto Mr America’s number. In case I need it in the future or something. Which I won’t.”

 

The three agreed to leave the conversation there just as Edward Park’s voice filtered through the receiver attached to the bug on his office phone.

 

“It worked!” Ned cheered. Mission successful after all.   


Over the next school week, Peter, Ned and MJ took turns in class and at home to listen in on Edward Park for any suspicious activity. Nothing had come up so far. Just normal, boring work calls.

 

Until Thursday rolled around. It was during last period and was Ned’s turn to listen with the receiver connected to his earbud that was secretly tucked into his ear. Peter and MJ took turns to copy the notes he was too busy to listen too. 

 

Ned had slowly turned to look behind his shoulder to where Peter and MJ sat side-by-side. He lightly tapped the earbud where the receiver was connected with wide eyes.

 

“We got something,” He whispered.

 

Peter and MJ shared a look and nodded their heads.

 

“Aunt May won’t be back until late tonight. My place?” Peter asked quietly. He was met with two nods and they sat back in tense silence, waiting for the bell to finally ring.


 

In reality, it was only a couple hours until the three finished school and arrived in May and Peter’s apartment. Although, to Peter, the whole day passed by in a blur. He couldn’t remember large chunks of it. Sometimes when he was in class and caught himself zoning out, he would look down at his notebook and re-read what he wrote that lesson and not even remember writing it. Peter considered mentioning it to May but he didn’t want to worry her. 

 

His dissociative episodes had never happened during his time as Spiderman so Peter decided it wasn’t too much of a problem.

 

“So, what’s the sitch?” MJ asked casually as soon as her, Ned and Peter were sure May wasn’t home and made themselves comfortable.

 

Surprisingly, Ned didn’t react to the reference which indicated that he was in serious mode.

 

“Park got a phone call. The guy spoke in a weird accent and sounded hella shady. I think they set up a meeting but they were talking in like vague anecdotes,” Ned started.

 

He pulled out his notebook and began to read what he wrote down as he was listening in on the call,

“Weird accent guy didn’t even say hi when Park picked up, just said ‘It’s me. We haven’t spoken in a while; we have a lot to talk about, catch up on the pastWould you like to see an exhibit?’” Ned peered up from his notebook towards Peter an MJ, “the guy was a terrible actor. If he was going for inconspicuous, he failed.”

 

“So cliché.” MJ rolled her eyes and Peter snorted in agreement. It was kind of true. These are pretty bad people yet they still say stupid things.

 

“It gets worse,” Ned reads on from his notebook, “Edward responded ‘It would be a shame not to. Tomorrow: 12:30pm.’ Then hung up” Ned finishes exasperated.

 

“Do you reckon they think they’re, like, the smartest or do they realise how stupid they sound. They may as well just say ‘meet you at the museum tomorrow at 12:30 to talk about our illegal activities’” Ned mused.

 

“It’s pretty smart actually. If all the phone calls Edward takes from his office phone were to be listened back on in court or by a prosecutor then it would be difficult to fish out the meetings that come with his job and any illegal catch-ups.” MJ huffed, annoyed at how well thought out the whole ordeal was. “He’s worked hard to cover his tracks and we don’t even know what he’s trying to cover. We have nothing on him.”

 

“Yet,” Peter reminds, “We will get him. My spider-danger sense thingy tells me he is definitely up to something. As you said, we need to stick this one out and collect as much information as we can.”

 

“We just need to take this one step at a time,” Ned adds “We even have our first lead in ‘The Case of Edward Park’. We’re totally gonna have a BuzzFeed unsolved episode about this when he gets taken down.”

 

“Buzzfeed unsolved is for unsolved cases dumbass,” MJ scoffs.

 

“The unsolved part won’t be about him; it’ll be about the cool, secret organisation that took him down. It will be about us!”

 

“Three sixteen-year-olds.” Peter deadpanned.

 

“Hey! Don’t say it like that. Peter, you are Spiderman. A literal superhero. With superpowers. You have saved hundreds of people’s lives- thousands even! You can stick to walls and lift a truck with your bare hands.” Ned passionately ranted, “MJ. You are one of the smartest people I know. You are like Sherlock Holmes, nothing gets past you. You are the one that first suspected Edward Park. The way you observe your surroundings and articulate solutions is mind-blowing!” Ned finished, heaving in a breath.

 

Peter couldn’t help but smile at his friend. He thought to himself how he didn’t deserve a friend as amazing and supportive as Ned.

 

“You’re not too bad yourself, Nerd,” MJ said as she approached Ned and punched him lightly on the shoulder.

 

“So. What we’re going to do is: Find out what museum the meeting is taking place at, take a few pictures and listen in. We will work from there.” Ned proposed.

 

MJ nodded and turned to Peter, “What do you think?”

 

“I mean, yeah” Peter started, “It’s during school tomorrow though and it would look suspicious to the school if all three of us were off. Even if two of us were off at the same time it would look bad if this ever got linked back to me in any way”

 

“You want to go in alone again,” MJ deadpanned.

 

“That was the deal. You guys stay safe and I do the leg work” Peter reminded.

 

The tense silence that followed was interrupted by Ned’s phone that chimed with several notifications all at once.

 

Quickly pulling his phone from his pocket with his eyebrows furrowed in confusion, Ned unlocked his phone and read the barrage of notifications.

 

“Holy shit” He whispered

 

“What is it?” Peter asked anxiously.

 

“It’s The Avengers updates twitter account I follow and have notifications turned on for. They’re tweeting about a story that’s taken over all the news stations right now. Something about ‘The Winter Soldier’, the new avenger guy...” Ned read on from his phone.

 

MJ followed suit and pulled out her phone to research what was going on.

 

“Oh God. They’re saying he’s had some private information leaked and receiving a ton of backlash” Ned read on.

 

“What was leaked?” Peter stepped forward.

 

“His past,” MJ spoke up as she too read from her phone, “There were documents leaked from a secret branch of the Government that states The Winter Soldier was tortured and brainwashed for decades by ‘enemies of the state’.”

 

“He was a notorious assassin that worked for the bad guys. It says that he’s responsible for the death of over-” Ned began but hesitated, “It’s-it’s a lot of people.”

 

“How many?”

 

“There isn’t an exact number. Only snippets of his file were leaked, so there is probably more than what the public knows. Just says that there are too many to count.” MJ answered stiffly.

 

Peter dropped back to the couch in shock. He wasn’t sure what to think. The guy was, admittedly, pretty scary. Peter also knew that he was a super-soldier. Power akin to that of The Captain America. Yet -for some reason- he couldn’t imagine the man that had stopped him from being arrested, given Peter his jumper when he was cold and had a panic attack in the middle of the street is a murderer.

 

Ned seemed to have sensed Peter’s distress so he put away his phone and crouched down beside Peter.

“Pete, it says he was tortured. To the point that they brainwashed him. He was really hurt.” Ned spoke softly, “The Avengers would not have let him join if he was a bad guy.”

 

“Ned’s right,” MJ started as she also put her phone away.

 

Ned and Peter’s head whipped to the side to look at MJ. Was MJ seriously defending an avenger? This was unheard of.

 

“This whole thing is stupid. The dude has been through a lot. Based on what you saw about him first hand, we know that he has mental health issues. He needs help; not to be feared or media bashed. We don’t know what actually happened.” MJ finished, shrugging.

 

Peter nodded and pondered over what MJ and Ned had said. And as always; she was right. They didn’t know Bucky’s side of the story so he wasn’t going to judge the man too fast.

 

“I can find out what museum Park will be at. Ned and I will stay in school and you can go at it alone” MJ relented, “but you wear the comm and talk through what is happening and what you are doing at all times.” MJ demanded.

 

“Of course,” Peter’s voice cracked.

 


 

When May came home that night after Ned and MJ had left, Peter mentioned that he was struggling to sleep to her and convinced May to let him stay off of school so he could lie in. It didn’t take much convincing though they both knew it was the truth. Peter just wouldn’t have brought it up if it wasn’t a great excuse to use so he could bring down a major criminal when he should be at school.

Pizza and movie night with May was always a highlight of Peter’s week. Tonight was no different. Watching corny rom-coms and making fun of the terrible acting whilst eating plain cheese pizza with his favourite person in the world made for the perfect release of stress.

 

Although, patrolling that night was not as smooth sailing. It was a rough night for Queens and an even worse one for Spiderman. One split lip and a minor concussion to be exact.

 

Ever since the nightmares and insomniac tendencies started to kick Peter Parker’s ass, Spiderman’s healing factor has not been the same. It’s what bothers Peter the most; when his weaknesses come in the way of Spiderman.

 

Bruises persist and concussions linger for a couple of days. Everything would have healed overnight if he was in peak health.

 

Luckily in the morning, Peter’s lip was fairly easy to cover with makeup. His headache... not so much. He knew normal pain medication didn’t work on him so he didn’t bother.

 

After changing into semi-decent clothing and grabbing his bag, Peter read the address MJ had sent him during the night and snuck out his window. Aunt May was home but she usually slept in on Fridays as Thursdays were usually her busiest days. Anyway, Peter took his school bag so if she finds out he isn’t home then he can just say he went to school after all.

 

As Peter walked towards the museum entrance, he noticed the ‘no photos’ warning signs. Swearing under his breath, Peter reached into his pocket and grabbed his miniature comm and stuck it in his ear discreetly.

 

Amazingly, Peter was able to purchase a ticket rather quickly and head into the first exhibit uninterrupted. Until a security guard stepped in front of him.

 

“Excuse me, young man, I couldn’t help but notice your backpack. I just wanted to inform you that photography is not prohibited in this museum and that no cameras are allowed past this point. If you do have a camera I have a safe in my office where it can be kept until the end of your visit.” The man drawled routinely. “You are allowed mobile phones past this point. However, all exhibits are heavily monitored so I would not advise attempting to use it.”

 

Peter’s panic spiked. He didn’t have a camera. Couldn’t afford one. But the whole point of ditching school and coming to the museum was to get evidence of Park’s illegal meeting. How exactly was he supposed to do that without taking pictures on his phone? He hoped the exhibits weren’t too heavily secured so he could sneak a few pictures.

 

“I don’t have a camera, sir” Peter responded politely to which the man nodded and allowed him through.

 

True to the bodyguard's word, inside the exhibition rooms were not any visible cameras but countless security members were walking around or standing by the sidelines watching everyone like a hawk.

 

Once inside, Peter once again was frustrated at the obvious intelligence of Edward Park. Whatever Park was up to was incredibly difficult to snuff out by anyone because he was careful. He doesn’t stay in one state for too long, his side businesses are not registered under his real name, he wipes any personal information of himself online, his address is impossible to obtain, he speaks in terrible riddles and he sets up meetings in places where he knows there won’t be any digital evidence of him being.

Peter hates him.

 

The clock at the back of the room showed peter that it was only quarter past twelve. Deciding on getting his money’s worth he began to wander around the different exhibits whilst softly talking through his comm.

 

“So, we have a problem..” He started

 

“All ready? It’s not even half twelve yet, Parker” MJ replied in a similar hushed tone.

 

Peter figured she was in class.

 

“It’s impossible for me to take photos in here. I think he chose this place on purpose.” Peter fumed.

 

He knew that Ned was most likely listening in but just couldn’t speak. There was a moment of silence from MJ and Peter caught himself staring at the wild animal exhibit in front of him.

 

“Don’t risk it. Just listen in to their conversation, try to gather some intel. That’s all we need for now. One step at a time” MJ’s smooth, calming voice sounded into his ear.

 

One step at a time was a repeating mantra in Peter's head.

 

After what seemed like seconds of wondering around; half twelve struck. Peter was feeling far from okay. He knew that he was concussed, extremely tired and possibly dissociating. Maybe he really should have taken the day off. The thought is completely discarded from his head and Peter mentally kicks himself for thinking something so stupid. To Peter, this is far more important than him feeling a little woozy and having to stay at home.

 

The return of the familiar low buzz at the base of Peter’s neck that was specific to Edward Park is what warned Peter of his arrival. A change of exhibit and a discreet scan of the room Peter was able to see Park sit on the opposite end of a bench from a large figure, which looked onto a few ugly paintings. So cliché.

 

Peter sucked in a deep breath. He hoped that he could pull himself together before he listens in on this conversation so he doesn’t forget it after fifteen seconds because of his concussion.

 

Remembering his notepad and pencil in his bag, Peter quickly pulled it out and pretended to take notes from the exhibit as he wrote down everything he heard the two men saying.

 

“Shipment will be delivered on time.” The strange man said to Park in a thick accent that Peter couldn’t place.

 

He finally understood why Ned mentioned the accent; it does make the guy sound twenty times more intimidating. It also sent his spidey sense on edge.

 

“I’m afraid that won’t be good enough. It will be delivered Sunday night. No later.” Park replied coolly.

 

Peter was shocked at the way Park had addressed the large man.

“Yes, sir”

 

Peter drew in a sharp breath at the realisation that Park wasn’t working with these men but he was controlling them. The guy looked to be in some sort of high-ranking mafia member as well.

 

Unfortunately, Peter caught the attention of Park as he could see from the corner of his eye that Park glanced over towards him and the light prickle at the back of his neck warned Peter that he was being watched.

 

Fortunately, Peter performed best under pressure and he proceeded to gape at the exhibit in front of him -which he belatedly realized was for female medieval clothing- drew in another exaggerated breath and pretend to vigorously write something down as he walked away and towards a different exhibit.

 

Based on the calming spidey sense, Peter could tell his acting had worked so he went back to listening in on the pair.

 

“I also want it delivered to Queens Royal Port now. Not Hell’s Kitchen. I have a few things to finish up here before I take on the Devil.” Came Edward Park’s quiet, monotone voice.

 

Peter didn’t have time to react to the implications of that statement between writing it down so he wouldn’t forget it and the sound of Park standing from the bench and leaving.

 

Peter glanced back at the clock and noted the “meeting” only lasted a minute or two. He focused on the sound of the other man who didn’t move for a few minutes and who then also left.

 

He huffed a breath. He was too woozy to find out whether this was a success or not. It also hurt his head to think about anything too much at the moment. He secured the notepad and pencil back in his bag so he wouldn’t lose it.

 

Peter’s vision brightened ten-fold for a split second and reignited his raging migraine. Attempting to blink it away, Peter walked over to one of the darker exhibits and sat on an uncomfortable bench. He leaned forward with his head in his hands and focused on controlling his breaths. The museum seemed pretty empty so he wasn’t worried about people judging him, just a few funny looks from security but they weren’t saying anything.

 

After a minute or so Peter lifted his head to look at what exhibit he was in and funnily enough, he wasn’t surprised. The Captain America exhibit.

 

A version of the Captain’s first suit stood proudly in behind the glass along with a huge panel of writing, of which re-told the life story of America’s supersoldier. Peter wondered how much of it was true and what was fabricated. He also wondered about all the stories it missed. Peter couldn’t help but notice the small section dedicated to the Captain’s best friend, James Buchanan Barnes.

 

Peter’s sluggish brain didn’t register another person in the room until he felt a presence close by and the bench shift slightly underneath him as said person took a seat on the opposite end.

 

“We really should stop meeting like this,” Came a voice Peter never expected to hear again.

 

All Peter could think was ‘Did the exhibit just come to life?’

Chapter Text

Peter wasn’t sure if it was the concussion, various mental issues, exhaustion or plain stupidity that possessed him to turn to face The Captain America and just stare with his head tilted to the side like a stupid dog.

Steve was trying to hold back his laughter. He really was. The boy was staring at him yet it didn’t seem to clock in the kid’s brain who it was. It was when Peter turned his head round to look at the picture of Steve Rogers on the wall only to slowly face back to the real thing that Steve had to laugh.

“It really is me, Peter” Steve assured, “for some reason, we keep coming across each other”.

Peter cleared his throat and hung his head back into his hands, elbows propped up against his legs.

“Seriously? The cherry on top.” He hazily mumbled to himself bitterly.

“I can leave if you want me to,” Steve offered gently, only just realizing that the boy may not wish to talk to anyone and just be alone. Steve could understand that sentiment. After all, it was why he was visiting the closest museum to the tower.

“No, no. It’s okay really, this is kind of like your exhibit after all. I didn’t mean to come across as rude, sir, been a long week you know?” Peter rambled awkwardly.

Only realising his mistake once he locked eyes with the Captain after his awkward tirade of words. He had a chance to get out of the conversation; he was literally given an out. Yet his stupid politeness to adults stopped him from dismissing the conversation. Now he was subjected to a conversation with The Captain America whilst concussed, exhausted and a little unstable.

Steve was struck at how polite the boy still managed to be whilst evidently in the middle of some sort of inner turmoil.

“Son, you are far from rude. The most polite person I know actually.” Steve mused, offering Peter a small smile to help ease his nerves, “And yes. I understand. Been a long week for me too.”

It took Peter and his slower-than-normal brain a minute to realise what Steve was referring to. Peter glanced back towards the exhibit in front of them and his eyes fell towards where Steve was looking. The Buchanan Barnes section.

Peter tried to take a quiet and deep breath in. He leaned so his back was aligned with the back of the bench, leaning against the wall the bench was up against whilst fidgeting with his bag strap.

“Your friend,” Peter stated softly, knowing that the information leak to the public would have affected the rest of the team. Just not on the personal level he was witnessing right now.

Steve nodded slightly. It was hard. He had just gotten back the one person he has always needed yet he felt he was losing him again.

“He really is a good man. The best. Sometimes I feel like I’m the only one who can see it” Steve spoke quietly, seemingly afraid of being judged.

 

Without thinking, Peter wanted to reassure. It was his natural response. He wasn’t sure how to go about reassuring an international treasure though. Also, he would probably end up saying something stupid if he was to speak right now.

They sat in silence for a minute before Peter finally gave in. He stopped fiddling with his bag and began to unzip it.

“Not that my opinion matters much, Mr Rogers,” Peter pulled out the hoodie Bucky had given him that morning he had been freezing and gently passed it to Steve, “but I can see it too”

At that moment, for Steve, it was the best thing anyone could have ever said.

Steve held the jumper in his hands and fiddled with the material between his fingers, noticing how Peter had washed the item of clothing and kept it clean and folded.

“You don’t watch the news, kid?” Steve asked cautiously, suddenly afraid that Peter didn’t know about Bucky’s past.

Peter shook his head and Steve’s heart dropped momentarily.

“No, but I do have a best friend who is obsessed with all things avengers,” Peter began to speak without his usual filter he would have if he was well-rested, “and, man, he loves to talk about you guys. He’s more entertaining than the news,” Peter shrugs and cuts himself off from giving away too many details about Ned.

“So you know. Yet, you still see it.”

Peter shrugged again, not really knowing how to respond.

“Trust me, Mr Rogers. I can tell the difference between a good and a bad person. It’s a talent.”  Peter sighs.

Steve chuckles at that, “Please, call me Steve. I don’t think I can handle another ‘sir’ or ‘Mr Rogers’”

It was Peter’s turn to laugh quietly and nod his head. Totally not freaking out on the inside.

They sit in silence for a few more minutes. Peter’s pounding head slowly subsiding to a dull throb.

“If you don’t mind me asking, why aren’t you in school, kid?” Steve asked, genuinely curious.

Peter hesitated to answer. He didn’t like the personal question game. It was particularly dangerous for his alter ego. Steve noticed the hesitance and didn’t push for an answer when Peter didn’t respond after a few seconds.

“Sick. This has actually been my first day off in a year” Peter knows that because the last time he was off school his Uncle had died.

“Hmm,” Steve chuckled, “So you decided to go to the museum?” he teased.

“Pfft, no. I still got to study.” Peter turned to him with a raised brow, “what’s your excuse?”

Steve chuckled at that.

“Also, I heard that they got some pretty old fossils” Peter smiled, “turns out that was true”.

Now that got a real laugh. Peter made The Captain America laugh. Totally not freaking out.

The mood sobered when Steve caught a glimpse of a bump on Peter’s lip. He recognised it as a split lip and a poor attempt to cover it.

Peter noticed the shift in the atmosphere. Yet, he still had no filter available to him at this time.

“It’s not a big deal,” He says lightly, turning away from the stern and concerned eyes facing him. Only to be met with a picture of the same stern and concerned eyes on the exhibit display.

“All you have to do is give me a name, kid. I won’t even ask for details. Just the rundown.” Steve said seriously.

Peter was so taken back by the sincerity of the offer that he couldn’t help but laugh nervously.

“It-it’s okay” Peter started, catching his breath “Thank you, I really do appreciate it. But it’s one of those things I have to deal with myself.”

Peter cleared his throat and decided that now was the best time to take his leave. He needed to rest and relay what he had discovered to Ned and MJ.

“I should probably go,” Peter stood slowly as to not stumble and adjusted his bag around his back, “It was cool meeting you again, Mr Rogers.”

“You too kid.” Steve smiled.

It took a lot of will power to not look back at the superhero as Peter left the museum and headed back towards home.

He was confused about the weird feeling Steve’s caring words left him. Peter wasn’t used to positive attention from anyone else other than Aunt May, Ned and MJ. And now Captain America has expressed personal concern for his safety; it was all too surreal.

Once home, Peter took a nap that only lasted about an hour but seemed to kick-start his brain as he devised a plan with the information he gathered from Edward’s meeting.

 


 

By the time Sunday night rolled around, Peter was feeling as refreshed as possible. MJ and Aunt May had made him swear to go to sleep early the previous night and have a big dinner before ‘bed’.

Ned had been excited about a possible team-up with the Daredevil from Hell’s Kitchen but Peter didn’t want to add anyone onto the case unless absolutely necessary.  Plus, he didn’t know Daredevil at all. How did he know he was trustworthy?

The mission was supposed to be a simple stakeout for Peter of the port with Ned and MJ on standby. The team decided that Spiderman was still not worth compromising yet and Peter would wear a baseball cap to prevent anyone from seeing his face. All Peter had to do was get in, gather information and get out.

“Peter, if you break my sister’s new camera... I will kill you.” MJ reminded over the comms as Peter snuck towards the entrance of Queens Royal Port.

Peter clutched the camera hanging around his neck and stopped walking, spotting two armed men guarding the gates.

With the click of a camera shutter, Peter snapped a picture then silently scaled the wall over into the shipment yard; successfully blending in with the darkness of the chilly night in Queens.

“Anything yet?” Ned asked impatiently in Peter’s ear.

“A couple of armed guards. Definitely not a good sign. Got a close up of their faces though.” Peter murmured back as he carefully made his way through the path of shipment containers.

“Bingo,” He whispered as he caught a glimpse of light coming from the edge of the port.

Deciding to get to higher ground, Peter stuck to the side of the closest container and quietly pulled himself into a laying position on top with the camera pointing towards the lights.

The light was emitting from a few pairs of truck headlights that surrounded a large group of armed men. Peter couldn’t spot Edward but he did recognise the other man from the museum as one of the main men telling others what to do. Dozens of other men were unpacking large wooden crates from containers and shifting them to the backs of the trucks. Peter watched through the camera lens as he documented the exchange. Peter realised how incriminating the photos he was taking were when one of the wooden boxes were dropped and Peter caught a picture of the mechanical guns that fell out.

This went on for almost an hour undisturbed before the men finished up and began to disperse in opposite directions. The vans that were loaded with weapons exited Queens port and drove off onto separate roads.

Peter’s spidey sense wouldn’t settle, even after he regrouped with MJ and Ned the next morning at school and filled them in.

The trio had decided that something had to be done about the large mass of weapons that had been imported in a way that wouldn’t affect their on-going investigation into Edward Park; they settled on the idea of anonymously sending in the pictures to the FBI. The pictures were great quality with very clear pictures of the men’s faces, registration numbers and the imported guns. Enough evidence for the FBI to track down the guns and retrieve them.

Now all Peter, Ned and MJ could do was hope that their tip-off to the FBI would apply pressure to Edward Park’s operation enough for him to make a mistake.

Chapter Text

Peter wasn’t sure what to do after sending the photographs to the FBI. He didn’t know if the FBI were even investigating the anonymous tip never mind if they actually managed to track down the weapons. Needless to say, Peter did not have high expectations for the officials. Which is exactly the reason Spiderman had been patrolling all night and every night; to search for the weapons. However, only two days and nights of stress and anxiety had passed when the news broke. No one was expecting it...

‘FBI Lead The Largest Gang Takedown In Decades.’ The front page of newspapers read.

All news channels in America were reporting the breaking story of the raid on a gang-operated arms trafficking ring in Queens led by the FBI on Tuesday night. It was dubbed the beginning of the end of several major gangs that were affiliated. A sense of safety seemed to blanket the citizens of Queens and surrounding boroughs. Come Wednesday morning; the news had reached an international level. On a worldwide scale, important conversations were struck about crime and the Government effort to reduce it. The FBI released a statement less than twelve hours after the raid due to the demand of details from the public. Officials described an anonymous tip received and the detainment of over twenty men associated with at least three different gangs as well as the recovery of hundreds of high-grade weapons. And by half eight in the morning; #ThankYou was trending on Twitter, praising the officials involved in the raid and whoever had sent in the anonymous tip.

 Little did the world know that the individuals responsible were three sixteen-year-olds from Queens currently talking in an empty music room in their school as they wait for the bell for their first class to ring...

“I can’t believe that worked!” Ned beamed as he scrolled through his phone, reading through all the different responses to the news on twitter.

MJ shot Ned a funny look which the teen caught.

“Not like I didn’t think it was a great idea- I just didn’t expect them to find the guns as fast as they did.” Ned fumbled.

“I think this has put into perspective the reach Edward Park has in the criminal world,” MJ stated seriously, showing an uncaring front to the media attention.

“He has decreased crime rates across several states. But he has the mafia funnelling high-grade weapons into the city for him while he is Head of Police. I don’t understand the correlation. More armed criminals shouldn’t equal decreased crime rates. How is he pulling it off?” Peter wondered out loud.

“He could be collecting the weapons. What if he’s preparing for something? Think about it. Edward Park has had police jurisdiction over half of America at one point or another. We know for sure that he’s importing weapons and controls numerous gangs. What if he’s planning on building some sort of army?” Ned speculated.

MJ sighed, “Whatever Edward Park’s plan is, we have definitely interfered. We just have to make sure we’re listening carefully for his next move. We need something solid that can tie him to these deals or any other crimes he is probably committing.”  

MJ’s declaration was met with the shrill sound of the school bell. All Peter knew for sure was that Edward Park was still a threat; he could tell by the way his neck dully throbbed throughout the entire school day.

 


 

Meanwhile...

“Are operations still running smoothly?”

“Yes, Mr Park. Nothing has been significantly hindered by the raid. The team have done a full sweep of your office and have found several listening devices. Including one connected to your office phone. The devices appeared to be made from scraps. Amateurs.” Edward Park’s personal driver and right-hand man replied.

The driver continued down the highway knowing his boss would need a moment to seethe at the news.

“Leave the one connected to the office phone. I would like to meet the individuals brave enough to cross me.”

 


 

“Sweetheart, I have something to tell you.” May started softly as she placed her fork down on her plate and looked to Peter who sat across the restaurant table.

Peter looked up from his plate of Thai food that he had barely eaten. He hadn’t had much of an appetite since he started looking into Edward Park.

“I got a text from Midtown. It was a reminder that school isn’t going to be open on Friday.”

Peter perked up at the information. His mind went straight to the opportunity of Spiderman-ing all day.  

“I really want you to use this long weekend to relax, Pete. You’ve been so stressed, you barely sleep and when you do you wake up in hysterics,” May sighs, “I just really want you to be happy.”

“I am happy, Aunt May.” Peter reaches out to hold his aunt’s hand, “I will take it easy.”

May smiles at her nephews promise and ruffles his hair, “Good boy. Now eat.”

Peter scoffs and takes a bite of his food, “What am I? A dog?”

“May as well be, chewing your food like that!” May scolds. Peter laughs at his Aunt’s disgust.

The moment was broken when Aunt May turned her attention to the small television set at the corner of the room. It was the daily bugle reporting on the FBI raid.

“Let this be a reminder that crime should be left with officials to deal with. They are the ones that protect our safety-”

Aunt May snorted and shook her head lightly at Jameson’s words and went back to eating her dinner. Her mind went to the countless alien invasions the world had suffered as well as the street crime that affected thousands every day.

“Not much to protect...” Aunt May mumbled into her plate of food.

Peter’s phone vibrated in his pocket and when he reached to check he saw it was from the group chat him, Ned and MJ were in together.

“Do you not think New York has gotten safer, Aunt May?” Peter asked curiously.

“I think that we are much more protected than ever. I wouldn’t necessarily say we’re any safer. I do hope that we will be one day.” May’s voice sounded sad like she didn’t fully believe it.

Peter quickly read the message MJ had sent into the chat and slipped his phone back into his pocket.

 

                          MJ Sent:  It worked. Park has set up another meeting and he sounded agitated.                                    

This is our chance.

 

“We will.” Peter said in determination, “I promise.”          

                                                                


 

“Okay. Here’s the plan,”

MJ sat across from Peter and Ned and placed her sketchbook on the table. Ned continued to eat his lunch and Peter once again had nothing. Their voices were lost in the noise of the school’s lunchroom.

“Park set up another meeting for tonight near the Cunningham area.  It doesn’t sound much like a meeting, though. He sounded like he was going to shout at some people. Which means your job is to do exactly what you did last time. Chances are Edward Park will be there this time. We could put him away for good.” MJ relayed her plan.

Peter nodded. He remembered from dinner yesterday that school was off tomorrow so he could just say that he was staying at Ned’s house tonight.

“You think he should take the suit?” Ned asked MJ.

“You could take it if you wanted but I still don’t think it would be a good idea to involve Spiderman yet,” MJ said to Peter lowly.

“I don’t need the suit. I can do this.” The truth is, Peter didn’t feel strong enough to be in the suit right now but he wasn’t going to say that.

“Fair enough,” MJ reached into her bag and pulled out a camera, sliding it over to Peter. “If you break-“

“Yeah yeah. If I break your sister’s camera you’ll kill me blah blah” Peter laughed at MJ’s glare.

“Ugh. Get a room.” Ned groaned and opened his pudding cup, ignoring his two friends. He knew they were smart but damn they were so oblivious to each other.

Peter blushed at the implication of what his friend was saying. He hadn’t realised he’d been flirting with MJ or vice versa.

MJ cleared her throat and moved to grab her bag and leave the cafeteria. “Don’t forget to wear your comm,” she said before departing.

Peter turned to glare at Ned who continued to idly enjoy his lunch blissfully unaware of his best friends stare.

“Dude, that was so not cool. Why did you say that?” Peter asked in a high-pitched voice.

“uhh because you guys totally have a crush on each other?” Ned replied uninterestedly.

“We do not!”

“Why so defensive then?”

...

“Shut up.”

 


 

Peter was beginning to get antsy, his senses were screaming at him and there was no sign of the man of the hour. Peter had resorted to aimlessly strolling through the dark forestry lane, coming across nothing but silence. He couldn’t quite shake the feeling of being watched.

Straining his ear, Peter focused on his hearing for any indication of people nearby. He was met with the shocking realisation that he could hear breathing, all around him, coming from the empty black abyss between the trees. Peter’s heart slammed harder in his rib cage as he counted at least a dozen individuals hidden in the night. Watching him.

Without acting too suspicious, Peter reached into his pocket and pulled out his phone, flicking through his contacts in order to find Ned or MJ’s name. It would look suspicious if he talked through the comm.

Peter’s advanced hearing picked up a disturbance in one of the stalkers breathing. He heard a tiny rustling noise and the faint click of someone answering a phone call.

“Has anybody shown up yet?” Peter recognised as Edward Park’s impatient voice asked.

It would make sense that someone as careful as Edward would check for listening devices. It would also make sense that Edward Park would not risk incriminating himself by actually showing up.

In hindsight, Peter should have taken into consideration that Park had set up the meeting as a trap.

Full-blown panic settled in Peter’s chest.

“No sir, just a little boy with a camera walking through. No sign yet.” A deep voice answered in the distance.

Peter shivered. At least they don’t know that he knows he’s being watched. Taking that to his advantage, Peter began to make his way to the exit of the park where he knew linked to a road that led out to the busy streets.

“What do you think that ‘little boy’ is doing at one in the morning with a large camera? Dumbass! Get him!” Replied his faint voice.

Without hesitation, as soon as he heard it, Peter ran.

Soon the quiet night air was full of shouting and snapping branches as armed men came running after Peter all at once.

He was able to make it out of the forestry lane through a bush and stumbled upon the road that led to the main street.

There were a few dim street lights but the darkness was suffocating. Peter automatically focused on his hearing in response to the lack of sight.

“He’s heading towards the main street! Cut him off!” he heard the commands of the men chasing him.

 Peter turned and ran in the opposite direction towards the nearby industrial site, pushing his weakening body to not give up on him.

He didn’t expect the handful of men to step out from around the corner and block his path but Peter kept running towards them at full speed.

With weapons raised, the men blindly fired at the shadow figure running towards them. Peter hissed as a bullet grazed his arm but didn’t slow down as he charged his attackers head-on and tackled two to the ground, standing up and disarming the others as quick as he could. One of the men restrained Peter from behind as the other one punched him repeatedly in the ribs. Peter heard the crack of the camera lens that hung from around his neck.

Peter head-butted the man attacking his ribs and proceeded to do the same to the man holding onto him, effectively breaking his nose. He staggered away from the struggling men on the ground and continued to sprint towards the industrial site, hearing the sounds of more men approaching in the distance.

Finding a hiding spot in the industrial site was his next move. There were too many men for him to take on without his suit and he couldn’t compromise his identity by beating the shit out of twenty-something armed men. He was also too weak to keep running. Where the hell was Park getting all this manpower?

Skidding to a stop in front of an old, abandoned warehouse that looked exactly like something out of a horror movie in the dim lighting, Peter scaled the walls and took refuge on the roof. He could feel himself getting weaker.

With the pressure of hearing the men re-grouping faintly in the distance, Peter decided to wait them out and slip away when he could.

“HE WILL BE HIDING. NO ONE LEAVES UNTIL WE FIND HIM.” He heard the same man who answered Park’s call yell at the other men as they entered the industrial site.

There goes that plan. Peter thought bitterly to himself. It was only a matter of time until they found him.

Peter went to reach for his comm and felt his heartbreak a little at the feeling of the missing tech. He couldn’t call Ned and MJ anyway because they wouldn’t be able to come get him without putting them in danger.

With the sounds of the men getting closer and the realisation that they were readying to check the warehouses; Peter’s options were slim to none.

He knew who he had to call.

Chapter Text

The Avengers had been dealing with their own set of problems that ranged in severity since their takedown of Hydra. Clint was bored and had far too much time on his hands. Whereas, Bruce was always far too busy and never had any time to relax. Thor had been off-world for a while now searching for his brother again and Natasha had to deal with an annoying, attention deprived Clint every day. Bucky was mentally drained. Steve was trying hard to pick up the pieces. Tony was adapting to living with the man that had killed his parents. Pepper was as busy as ever with Stark Industries and making sure Tony didn’t work himself to death in his workshop. Sam was trying his hardest to keep everyone functioning like the therapist of the group he was. Rhodey and Happy had teamed up to “conspire his demise”, according to Tony. Really the pair had been brainstorming ways to get the engineer’s head out of his work for long enough to actually process his emotions. Wanda and Vision were reserved as they knew their teammates needed space to work through the aftermath of the Hydra takedown.

They had been making progress. Team dinners every second night -give or take- and a movie night once a month that was open to extended Avengers members. Things weren’t perfect; tense at times. Though, it never affected their ability to protect so that was all that mattered.

This late in the night, around half one-ish, usually most of the tower would still be awake. Tony would be in his beloved workshop upgrading everyone’s gear and general tinkering, Steve would be distracting Bucky with another movie to get him up to speed with the times and keeping up himself, even Clint and Natasha would be awake sometimes.

This was one of those times. Bucky was having a bad day so he and Steve were sitting up in the common room just watching over the city in silence. Clint and Natasha had joined the two; the spies were no strangers to sleepless nights. It would help. Being surrounded by the people close to you numbed the bad memories.

So when Steve’s phone -of all people- rang. He was met with a curious glance from Bucky, a raised eyebrow from Natasha and a snarky remark from Clint.

“I didn’t even know you could use a mobile.”

Steve ignored Clint and fished out his phone from his pocket. He didn’t use the thing much but kept it on his person at all times because that was what people in this day and age done apparently.

His forehead pinched at the unknown caller ID.

“Unsaved number,” Steve stated out loud.

“Put it on speaker,” Natasha voiced.

Steve did so, answering the call, and waited for someone to speak.

“Hello? This is Steve Rogers.” He said a little too loudly than necessary.

The four heard a sigh of relief come from the other end,

“Mr Rogers?” a soft voice whispered, “I-it’s Peter. Peter Parker. From the- uh- from... the museum.” Peter said still whispering.

The group were all alert as soon as Peter had spoken. The way he was whispering into the phone screamed trouble.

Steve stood and motioned to Natasha and Clint not realising that the spies were already tracing the call from the kitchen using F.R.I.D.A.Y.

“Yes, Peter, I remember. What’s happening, Kid?” Steve began to pace, noting the absence of Natasha and Clint.

From the roof of the warehouse, Peter looked down at his phone and saw the 1% battery symbol flash, hearing the men make their way into the warehouse he was on top of.

“There’s a lot of men with guns. Bad men.” Peter whispered knowing that any loud noise will give away his position, “I’m on the roof. They’re inside now looking for me.” Peter whispered before losing the last of his battery life.

Steve’s chest tightened as the line went dead. He turned to leave the room and noticed Bucky following behind.

“I think it’s better if you stay, Buck,” He said.

“That was the kid that helped me. If you’re going then I am” Bucky deadpanned in a gravelly voice. The effect of barely talking for weeks on end.

Before Steve could argue further Natasha interrupted walking into the room out of her pyjamas and fully decked out in her black widow gear.

“Clint and I will go; we’re ready anyway.” Natasha reasoned, earning a stiff nod from the two supersoldiers.

The elevator opened to reveal a similarly suited-up Clint, “We’ll phone when we’re on our way back.”

 


 

Peter was smothering his erratic breathing with his hands, trying to keep quiet. The warehouse was surrounded; there were men all around the outside so climbing down was out of the equation and worst of all he could hear the men inside the building had just found the stairwell leading to the roof.

The panic was clouding his senses and he didn’t register the sounds of faint grunting and bodies hitting the ground from the stairwell and the lack of footsteps circling the building.

Peter was startled out of his haze as a man came crashing through the roof door, landing on top of the broken barrier unconscious. No men ran out after him as Peter had anticipated.

“Hi there,” Came a chirpy voice from behind Peter.

Whirring around to see Hawkeye perched behind him on the ledge of the roof was not what he had expected, neither was turning back around to see the Black Widow stepping over the man's body that was lying unmoving on the ground.

“Peter Parker,” Natasha assumed as she looked over the boy in front of her.

Not that she could see much in the poor lighting, from what she could gather Peter looked to be a scruffy sixteen-year-old. Peter nodded his head numbly.

“You hurt, kid?” Clint asked as he stepped down from the ledge.

He thought the kid looked like a mess and he felt his fatherly instincts kick in.

Peter shook his head in response, “Thanks for that,” he motioned to the guy on the floor.

“Hey, don’t mention it. Let’s get to the main road. Our ride should be here.” Clint offered softly as Natasha led the way, searching through several unconscious men’s pockets as they walked down from the roof and out of the warehouse.

Shivers shot down Peter’s spine as the adrenaline finally wore off and the gravity of the situation finally settled in. More specifically; paranoia. They were spies. They could definitely find out about Spiderman; they probably already did know and Peter was going to be sent to a laboratory and experimented on.

“What’s the matter?” Natasha’s sharp voice snapped him from his thoughts as he realised that they had already reached the main road and were waiting for him to enter the fancy black car in front of him. Damn dissociation. He hoped that hawkeye or black widow hadn’t been talking to him and he missed it.

“Where did Hawkeye go?” Peter asked realising the archer was nowhere to be seen.

“One of us has to make sure those men don’t get away,” Natasha replied coolly still waiting for Peter to enter the car.

Peter accepted the answer and slipped into the car and caught the eye of the driver in the rearview mirror briefly.

Natasha shut the door behind him and slipped into the front seat next to the driver.

“Clint will be with us in a second, Happy.” She spoke easily to the driver who grunted in response.

Peter was partially taken aback by the flippant response the man had given an Avenger but focused on controlling his breathing as the post fighting pain flared.

Not long later Clint slipped into the back with Peter and the car was already on the move. Peter wondered what he had gone back to do.

“You got somewhere we can take you, kid?” Clint turned to Peter who nodded. “Will your parents be home?”

“Yeah,” Peter replied hoarsely.

“You’re lying. You also have a few injuries. We’re going to take you back to the tower before you go home” Natasha’s cold voice called him out from the front.

Peter flinched at the feeling his spidey sense sent down his neck at the tone of the Black Widow’s voice. He watched carefully as she pulled a phone to her ear and began to talk quietly into the receiver.

He felt Hawkeye lean over towards him slightly, “Don’t be scared. That’s just Nat. She can’t hurt you.” The man stage whispered.

Peter felt slightly put out that Clint was talking to him like a child but realised that in this situation he was acting like a scared kid. He figured that the distraction of conversation was welcome. Especially as Natasha seemed to have focused back on him as she hung up the phone call.

 “I wouldn’t be so sure. Some of the strongest people I know are women.” Apparently that was the right thing to say as his senses dimmed and the black widows lips quirked up a little. He felt proud like he had passed some sort of test.

“Steve says that if the kid’s parents aren’t home then he’s to stay until they are,” Natasha relayed to no one in particular.

Peter sighed and answered the unasked question, “No one will be home until tomorrow. Night shift.” he elaborated.

“Did they hit you?” Clint asked sharply as he spotted a bruise peaking through Peter’s hoodie.

Peter readjusted himself so that no more inures were on show and shot Clint a weak smile, “You should see the other guy.” He joked. He swore he heard a snort from Natasha.

Clint laughed at Peter’s words and struck up a conversation about random things for the whole car ride so the kid didn’t slip into shock. Peter just thought the archer was endearingly odd.

 


 

When the car parked in what looked to be the Avenger Tower’s garage, Natasha and Clint led Peter towards the elevator. Peter didn’t have time to acknowledge his usual fear of enclosed spaces as a robotic voice sounded through the air.

“Hello again Mr Barton and Miss Romanoff. Welcome, Mr Parker.”

Clint laughed at the look of confusion on Peter’s face.

“That’s F.R.I.D.A.Y. Tony’s AI”

“Indeed. Mr Stark has expressed that I ensure that Mr Parker is looked after.” The voice sounded again.

Peter was caught between aweing and nerd-gasming.

“Common room please Friday.” Natasha requested as the elevator doors closed.

Peter felt his neck prickle and glanced at Natasha who he caught eyeing up the smashed camera around his neck.

 “It was a friends. She said she’d kill me if I broke it.”  He spoke softly and lifted the damaged tech to inspect it, cringing at the sound of broken glass rattling inside.

“She one of those scary, strong women in your life?” Clint teased.

“The scariest.” Peter shivered, thinking about the ass-whooping MJ will be giving him when she finds out about the whole situation.

Then Peter was reminded of Ned and MJ and how they would be worried about him right about now. Before he could panic about them panicking he heard Natasha chuckle.

“I could take it to Tony if you’d like. He can fix anything.” Natasha offered in a softer voice than usual.

“I- i woudn’t want to bother him” Peter stuttered at the offer of having –he assumed they were talking about- the Tony Stark fixing his friend’s camera.

“I’m sure he wouldn’t mind. It will give him something to do.” Natasha persuaded as Peter hesitantly handed over the broken camera.

“Thanks,” he said softly to which a small nod was sent his way.

As the elevator doors opened, Natasha caught Clint’s raised eyebrow with a knowing look on his face.

Natasha ignores him and motions for Peter to exit the elevator, “I have a few things to do” she explained as him and Clint got off on the current floor.

Clint watched with a victory smirk as the elevator doors closed, taking Natasha down to Tony’s workshop.

Softie he thought.

“Right this way, kid” Clint turned his attention back to Peter and began to walk down the hall, “My name is Clint by the way. But you probably already knew that. You have a couple of supersoldiers worrying after you a couple of floors down but I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you visit the medbay before you go see them” Clint rambled as he led the way.

“ehm. Would it be okay if I skipped the medbay?” Peter asked shyly, “Nothing is too sore right now and my aunt is a nurse so she can check over me tomorrow” he quickly defended, hoping that Clint wouldn’t make him go.

Clint took one glance at Peter but slowed to a stop before the medical quarter doors.

“If F.R.I.D.A.Y confirms that nothing is broken then it’s a deal,” he reasoned.

Peter nodded excitedly and was internally grateful that Clint didn’t push it on him.

“I can confirm that Mr Parker does not have any broken bones. Although, I do recommend a good nights rest and a filling breakfast in the morning,” Clint laughed at the A.I’s response and doubled back towards the elevator.

“Come on then kid. I believe there are two mother hens waiting for you. How did you even manage that anyway?” Clint asked referring to Peter’s relationship with Bucky and Steve.

To be honest, Peter didn’t even know how that came about. He had to think about that one as the two re-entered the elevator and continued down.

“I’m not sure. I pretty much just bumped into them once. Steve twice.”

Clint raised a brow at the use of the first name but didn’t comment. He believed Peter but was still confused as to how the kid came to being chased by a herd of angry men with guns in the first place but he figured it wasn’t his place to ask. He knew that since Steve was involved now then whatever was going on with Peter would be sorted soon enough. Considering that a tough Winter Soldier was also keen on helping out, Clint decided to watch from afar and not meddle. He couldn’t say the same for Natasha though.

“I’ll drop you off on the common room floor and leave you guys to talk. They’re pretty worried about you. Need anything else, Pete?” Clint asked softly, wanting to give the three of them some space.

Peter smiled a little at the nickname and found himself really liking Clint. He didn’t know Hawkeye was this nice.

“Do you have a charger I could borrow, please? My phone died.” Peter asked, taking his phone from his pocket and showing Clint. Taking this opportunity to get his phone charged and update Ned and MJ on what was happening.

“No problem. I’ll drop it off to your room.”

The elevator doors opened and Peter only hesitated slightly before getting off to face the music.

“Thank you for helping me,” Peter said to Clint realising he hadn’t said it yet.

Clint shot him two thumbs up and a cheeky smile, “Anytime Pete”.