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A/N: I watched The Amazing Spider-Man. Words happened. Oops? Read on AO3 here. Enjoy anywhere! ♥

Title: Lone Wolf Spiders
Disclaimer: I, [info]ladyknightanka, do not own any of these characters. Marvel does. I JUST LOVE THEM, OKAY?
Warnings: PG-13 for language and a little bit of angst. Also, banter, snark and spoilers. Because these things merit warning, just in case you hate fun.
Other Notes: ~2k. Gen. Coulson, Peter and Aunt May are in this part (with a brief appearance by Flash Thompson and mentions of a few other characters). It's standalone, but part of a series, so eventually, all the Avengers will show up.
Summary: Peter Parker can't help feeling like he's being watched - even when he isn't Spidey. He's not wrong, of course. Or, the one in which Coulson stalks Peter, but not really for recruitment. Yet.


---

Lone Wolf Spiders

---

It’s just a niggling sensation in the back of Peter’s brain, not quite as off-putting as the typical tingling of his spidey sense. The hairs that rise along the nape of his neck may even be attributed to the cold.

Anyone else would ignore it, but then, Peter Parker’s not exactly ‘anyone else.’

“Mmph,” the bank-robber he’d webbed to an alleyway wall says, mouth covered by a silky, sticky film of white.

“Shh,” Peter replies, waggling his cellphone in the guy's face. “The cops’ll be here for ya any minute now, buddy.”

He doesn’t want to be around when they do, of course. Ever since Captain Stacy’s death, they’ve cracked down harder on his vigilantism. Wanted posters of his masked face plaster the police station walls. It’s made things tough with Gwen, too.

With a jaunty salute 'goodbye,' and a surreptitious glance over his shoulder, Peter scales the body of the bank. On the roof, he presses two fingers into the release of his web-shooter, and employs the string of biocable that erupts from it to swing from building to building, until he’s finally home.

There, he quickly changes out of the suit, and meets his aunt in the foyer. She smiles at him. The sweet expression soothes his frazzled nerves, though not much.

“How was your study session, Peter?”

“G-great, Aunt May,” he says, only a little bit breathless. “I’m definitely gonna ace that test.”

The curl of her mouth etches wider. “That's wonderful! Well, you missed dinner, but I left a covered dish for you in the microwave. You can just heat it up, honey.”

“Thanks,” he replies, but waits till she returns to her bedroom, before hurrying into his own and gazing out the window.

No one’s there, as expected – or, well, no one out of the ordinary, anyway. The cityscape spans on, lights in distant windows bright as the stars in the night sky. They flicker to a symphony of blaring car horns and people’s voices.

Peter’s fingers clench around the sill, but he forces himself to calm down and shut the lower sash. Downstairs, he eats the spaghetti his aunt left for him, then readies himself for bed, but can't quite shake his unease, even in sleep.

Not long after, a black Lincoln with tinted windows, which had been parked across the street from the Parker home since Peter's return, wades back into traffic and disappears.

 ---

The next day, in his peripheral vision, Peter notices a black car tailing him.

His knuckles whiten on the straps of his backpack, as he picks up his pace – just fast enough to put space between them, without alarming random passersby.

No one would try anything in the middle of a crowded street, right? Right?

Before he can well and truly panic, the car swerves around the bend of a curb, and he loses sight of it. He loosens his grip on his bag, emitting a sigh. On top of everything else, the whole experience with Dr. Connors has left him paranoid. Awesome.

Even though it's dull, he's glad when Midtown High finally veers into view. It offers a much-needed distraction, at least until he catches sight of Gwen's empty desk in first period.

They're...reevaluating things. Her mom had decided to pull her out of classes, for the last few weeks before winter break, so they could mourn her father's death together. Since then, she and Peter have talked only once.

Peter frowns at the badly pencil-drawn penis on his desk, before the teacher enters, at which point he sits up straight.

He promised Aunt May an A on his exam, after all.

---

When he gets out and discovers no black cars awaiting him, he releases a sigh of relief. He knows it was silly to have worried in the first place, but running around in a spandex unitard has afforded him a new understanding of the caveat, better safe than sorry.

“You're blockin' my way, Parker,” a familiar voice booms behind him. “Move your scrawny ass!”

Peter levels a glower at Flash Thompson, but dutifully trudges onto the schoolyard, away from the entrance, so his classmates can dodge around him. It's a testimony to how much things have changed, that Flash does just that, rather than coercing him with a shove.

Peter almost misses the days Flash would kick his ass, if only for the sake of consistency. Almost. Mostly, he considers this particular change one of the few pleasures of having enhanced mutant powers. No one likes getting their ass kicked, do they?

On his trek home, Peter sees Flash, now halted in traffic inside his showy sports-car, and shoots him a tiny, knowing smirk. Flash scowls.

Peter can't help chuckling at that. The bubble of mirth within his chest, a rare thing these days, deflates as soon as he sees the black car again, darkening the sidewalk parallel his house.

He breaks out into a run, the weight of Spider-Man's suit light in his backpack. If his palms happen to stick on the walls beside him, and he uses them to leverage himself atop higher steps on the stairwell, well, no one's around, anyway.

“Aunt May,” he exclaims, as soon as he throws open the inner door.

She blinks at him from a sofa and says, “Why, Peter, you look like you've seen a ghost!”

Perhaps Peter has, because he can't look at her. His wide eyes are focused on the suited man sitting across from her, who offers a curt nod of greeting.

“W-who...?”

“Peter, where are your manners?” Aunt May replies, but before she can stand to further berate him, the mysterious man in black extends a hand and halts her, rising in her stead.

“Never mind, Mrs. Parker, it's fine,” he says, smile diplomatic. “Peter and I haven't been formally introduced yet.”

“Or informally,” Peter adds, then flinches at his aunt's glare. He doesn't let it cow him for long, though. Narrowing his eyes at the man again, he asks, “Who are you?” thankfully without a stammer this time.

“Ah, how rude of me! My name is Phil Coulson, and it's a pleasure to meet you, Peter. We've been meaning to for a while...”

Peter stares at the hand proffered to him. The guy, Coulson, seems nice enough. Crinkles from laugh lines bracket his eyes and mouth. Heck, his name's even Phil, and names don't really get more innocuous than that.

But there's still that shady 'we'...

When the silence stretches on for a minute too long, Aunt May says, “Peter, Mr. Coulson came here to tell you personally, you've been granted an internship with Stark Industries. You didn't tell me you had applied for anything like that!”

S-Stark?” Peter mimes, and maybe flails a little, too. Okay, a lot. So much for not stammering. At his aunt's enthusiastic nod, he continues, “'Cause I didn't–”

“–know you'd receive it?” Coulson cuts in smoothly. He snatches one of Peter's hands, holds it between both of his own, and gives it a firm shake. “Well, congratulations, Mr. Parker. You've done some impressive work.”

His gray eyes gleam like quarters. Peter swallows to wet his suddenly parched throat. His arm, now released, hangs at his side, limp as a rag-doll limb.

He's so stupefied, he doesn't even realize that his aunt has gotten up, until he hears her thick voice and feels her arms wind around him, breaking him out of his reverie.

She begins murmuring sweet nothings about how proud she is of him, how proud everyone would have been, into the torso of his t-shirt, just above the stylized 'a' of the Avengers logo.

Peter stiffens for all of five seconds, then hugs her back, eyes trained on her head so Coulson won't notice how wet they've grown.

The man gives them a few minutes, before clearing his throat. His perpetual smile smooths itself into something somewhat more genuine.

“Could we, perhaps, converse privately for a moment, Peter?” he inquires.

“I'll go and make us some tea,” Aunt May answers for him.

She flits out of the room before Peter can stop her, and in an instant, he's left alone with Coulson. The two of them size one another up. Peter speaks first.

“If you're here to hurt her–”

“I'm not,” Coulson interjects, fingers interlaced in front of him.

Peter thinks it's supposed to be a we come in peace gesture, but it looks more like a steeple improvised from b-list megalomaniacs. Peter has enough of those in his life, thank you very much.

“Then what do you want?” he asks, for what's probably the third freaking time. Not that he's counting.

Coulson's eyes do that weird, twinkly thing again. “Have you ever heard of SHIELD: the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division?”

The question throws Peter, who replies, “I've, uh, heard of the YMCA?”

Coulson doesn't seem perturbed or surprised by his answer. In fact, the corner of his mouth twitches higher, as if in amusement. His eyes drop to Peter's shirt.

“You've at least heard of the Avengers, correct?”

“Well, duh,” Peter says, hackles rising.

He hasn't just heard of the Avengers. Earlier that year, when aliens, of all things, attacked Manhattan, led by a deranged demigod, Captain America had actually saved Peter's ass from becoming xeno-chow.

...And maybe he has a couple of action figures, in their honor. Or a lot of them.

If they've influenced his decision to take on Spider-Man's mantle any, Peter figures Coulson never has to know. He nods his head, less bite in the motion than his words.

“SHIELD is responsible,” Coulson says, “for assembling the elite task-force you know as the Avengers. Like I told you earlier, Peter, we've wanted to meet you for a very long time – even before your reptile friend stomped his way through the city.”

Peter tries and fails to keep his jaw from falling, but something – a logical something, deep inside, that somehow defies his first instinct to fan-boy the heck out of this information, or quake in fear at the unexpected discovery of his secret – clicks into place. He purses his lips.

“So, what, you wanna scout me or something? Recruit me into your super special after-school club?” he asks, crossing his arms over his chest, over the 'a'. “Because, dude, I appreciate the offer, but I'm a lone wolf...spider. That's a thing. A badass thing. And Spider-Man's a solo gig.”

“I'm sure,” Coulson says, but he's smirking, the big jerk. “At the moment, however, enlistment isn't in our plans for you.”

Several thoughts pinball through Peter's head at once. Plans? Why the hell should they be planning stuff without telling him? And is Aunt May making one of her famous pies to go with the tea, because something smells really good?

What blurts out of his mouth is an astonishingly hurt, “Well, how come?” though the reason's pretty obvious.

The Avengers are a top-notch team of heroes, adults, whom the government itself, apparently, backs. Peter's a sixteen year old who made his spandex suit himself, using his aunt's battered sewing machine, as well as his second rate gadgets, and half the time, the police consider him worse than the villains he catches. Why would SWORD or SHIELD or whatever their medieval equipment-themed group is called want him?

Coulson must read the teenage angst on Peter's face, because his own softens, and he reaches out a hand to pat Peter's shoulder.

“You said it yourself: you work better alone. If that ever needs to be reassessed, we'll handle it,” he says, squeezing gently.

Peter bites his lip, then asks for the umpteenth time, “So what do you want?”

Coulson retracts his arm and inserts it, wrist-deep, into his jacket. For the first time, Peter detects a bit of tenderness in the way he holds his body, as if he's trying to hide an injury. Peter's certainly grown accustomed to that, himself. Before he can comment, though, Coulson fishes out a business card and renders it to him.

Peter scans it over. It's the address to Stark Tower, the heart of the alien invasion that year. He can't believe they honestly want him snooping around there. If anything, he's still not sure Tony Stark won't sick a pack of guard dogs on him. Or trained assassins.

Footsteps breach the quiet between them. Aunt May, Peter recalls, and her name beats in time with his rushing heart.

“I'd like to see you again at Stark Tower,” Coulson informs him, before she can enter. “A date and time are written on the back. You have a week to think about it. You don't have to show up.”

Peter nods, simultaneous to his aunt's apologetic, “Sorry I'm late, boys. That old stove was giving me hell again.”

“I'll, uh, take a look at it later, Aunt May,” Peter promises weakly.

She beams at him, then at Coulson, before indicating for them both to take a seat. A tray of tea and desserts situates itself on the table between them.

As Peter eats, deaf to the adults' inane chatter, he takes Coulson's advice. He thinks.

---

End!

---

A/N: Was that okay? Writing for superhero fandoms makes me extra anxious. >.< If it's not too bad, the next segment will have Tony! :D

Comments

( 1 Offering — Sacrifice a Virgin )
(Deleted comment)
ladyknightanka
Nov. 15th, 2012 07:40 pm (UTC)
You're too sweet, bb. <333

Writing Peter is a blast. He's simultaneously a nice kid, kind of a dick, and extremely snarky; I can't wait to write him bantering with Tony, at least. XD

There will hopefully, definitely be more. Thank you!
( 1 Offering — Sacrifice a Virgin )

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