Peter had the great fortune to be at the sanctum when Thor and Loki showed up. He was not impressed with how Strange handled the matter, at all.

Loki had an odd look when Peter freed him from Strange's trap, without bothering to ask.

"That is no way to treat someone, especially a god. Are you trying to get cursed, you blithering idiot?" said Peter snidely.

"This is not your concern."

"And clearly you've never actually read Norse mythology. I'm not surprised Loki lashed out like he did, especially since Odin is notorious for his A plus parenting skills. He was a scholar in a realm full of jocks," snarked Peter.

Loki stared at Peter, incredulous.

"'re actually defending me?"

"The stories we have about you are fairly consistent," said Peter. "And while you did attack New York, I found it highly suspicious that you never once used any magic whatsoever. I checked all the security stuck to primarily using the Chitauri's weapons or a few minor magics. Not the stuff you could have done since it's well known you're a master sorcerer."

Now Strange was giving him odd looks.

"What are you saying?"

"I highly doubt Loki gives a damn about Earth. If he wanted to attack Thor, then why drag us into it at all, when he had plenty of other opportunities? Especially since he didn't bother to track down Thor's girlfriend during the entire mess," said Peter flatly. "Add that to the fact he never really brought out his magic, which he could have used to cause actual devastation without the need of the invasion, and it's clear someone was manipulating him. Likely with the stone the Avengers used to bring Vision to life."

Loki outright stared at Peter, almost as if he were seeing the boy with new eyes. Then he let out a low, sardonic laugh.

"I don't believe this. An entire team of 'heroes' and it's a bairn that sees through the obvious fact I was being controlled."

"Tony Stark might be a technical genius, but he's an idiot when it comes to the obvious," said Peter flatly. "And the Avengers were too busy riding the high off saving the city to bother asking the obvious questions."

Strange glared at Loki, as he had seen the aftermath of the god's invasion.

"That still doesn't excuse what you did."

"No, but it gives him at least a chance of amnesty," countered Peter. "Someone had to have given him that staff, and I highly doubt it was Odin. That sort of weapon seems like something Odin would hide in a treasury vault."

Loki snorted at that. This bairn had more sense than half the idiots he had come across.

"What will it take get rid of you two?" said Strange. He already had a headache.

When Thor and Loki left, Strange turned to look at Peter. He was not amused with the 'younger' male.

"Look, the only reason I tolerate your arrogant ass is because you earned some leeway. You used your genius to save people, and to help those that would have otherwise have died. Tony Stark is just an asshole who still hasn't fully grasped the concept that actions have consequences and insists on dragging everyone else down with him for the sake of his own ego," said Peter flatly. "No matter how you look at it, the armor he wears is still a weapon."

Something passed between Strange and Peter.

A sardonic smile passed on Peter's face.

"Any idiot can aim a weapon and kill. It takes real skill and compassion to save lives, rather than take them."

"...What was your profession in your last life?" asked Strange.

"Much like you, I was a doctor...of a sort. However I refused to take the oaths that would make me a full doctor, because I didn't agree with their prohibition against using magical methods to save those who didn't have it."

While Strange still didn't like the way Peter acted, since he was part of the order but was still technically too young to actually be part of any real fighting, he could respect Peter because he understood how hard it was to save people rather than kill.

It still irked him that the order liked the kid more than they did Strange.

Shrike was having a usual shift at Sister Margaret's, which generally meant that he ended a bar fight that had gone on too long, patched up those involved, and cleaned up the mess of drinks. By this point, most of the mercs knew and respected Shrike as one of their own.

Most newcomers learned not to mess with the 'kid', because he rarely hesitated to punch someone's lights out and once brained one moron with a pool cue he snagged from the wall.

Sure he wasn't old enough to drink, but that was a minor matter to them.

So you could imagine how his ears perked up when he heard the name "Parker" in what he considered his unofficial safe space.

Here no one knew who he was or what he could do, they just knew him as a part-timer who could hold his own and was a good listener. That and a damn good cook...Shrike had a small following of mercs who wouldn't mind giving him a favor or two because he never failed to remember the small things like their birthdays or special anniversaries.

Shrike discreetly kept an ear out, and was not happy when he recognized a problem nurse from his aunt's hospital. From what he remembered, she had recently been fired because of May busting her and reporting her to their superior. Her name was Karen...something. He had made May laugh with the sheer number of Karen memes he shared to cheer her up.

Something to do with stealing medicines by faking prescriptions that were never made by doctors.

Shrike listened, and it took everything he had in him not to strangle the woman for daring to put a hit out on his aunt.

The second the woman left, Shrike went up and ripped apart the gold card without any damn who saw him.

"Shrike, what the fuck?"

"May Parker is off limits, and anyone dumb enough to try and off her will have to deal with me," he growled. Seeing he had the full attention of the mercs, Shrike gave a partial explanation.

The people who came to Sister Margaret's were as far from saints as you could get, but they did have an unofficial code. And anyone who had a habit of breaking that was swiftly given the cold shoulder by anyone with sense. Even Deadpool avoided certain missions, because they were often too messy even for him to live with.

"May Parker was the nurse who took care of me when my parents died in an accident. She was the one who stayed with me until CPS came."

The subtle tension in their shoulders relaxed. The mercs could understand a debt like that, which was more than enough to keep most of them from taking the hit. Most of them liked Shrike enough to avoid going after May.

"She the reason you know so much about first aid, Shrike?" asked Domino.

Peter nodded.

"She used to babysit me while my guardians were at work, and let me read her medical books. She also helped me refine my ability to dress a wound," said Shrike. Which...while not the full truth was enough to keep the peace.

Coincidentally Shrike would be making a little side trip to that woman's crappy apartment. He did not tolerate anyone who was brazen enough to put a hit on his aunt.

In Karen's apartment...

Karen seethed, but soon that bitch Parker would be dead. Maybe she'd get lucky and the woman's nephew would bite it too. She didn't particularly care one way or another.

She took another swig of the bottle. Five thousand was a small price to pay for that woman's death, and she was rather eager to see the news of her sudden demise.

The first clue something was terribly wrong was the sudden chill that went down her spine.

"Ya know, I take offense when someone's stupid enough to actually order a hit on someone who doesn't deserve it," said a calm, cold voice from the corner of her wall.

Her head whipped around to see a young male, about sixteen or so leaning against her wall. He wore dark clothing and wore a mask she vaguely recognized from the old history books about plague doctors.

However there was no mistaking the aura of a predator around him.

"Who the fuck are you and what are you doing in my house?!" she shrieked. "Get out before I call the cops!"

The male laughed menacingly.

"You fucked up when you put that hit out on Parker," he said coldly. "And if you were stupid enough to find the one merc bar in New York, there's nothing stopping you from finding another from out of state. I'd rather not have to deal with anyone coming after her twice."

It still amused him that almost no one at the bar had figured out what a "shrike" was. Which was why he planned to make his own unofficial entry into the world of mercenaries by demonstrating how dangerous a tiny fluff ball could be when provoked.

Karen felt a cold chill go down his spine. There was something in the air that told her this boy wouldn't hesitate to murder her in cold blood.

The boy in the mask approached her, and Karen froze. She had never been on the receiving end of a predator's gaze before, and it unsettled her greatly.

When he was a scant two feet from her, she screamed the second he lifted his hand up, as if to grab her. Dormant flight or fight instincts kicked in, and she bolted out the door.

Shrike chuckled darkly. He didn't need to kill Karen directly. All he had to was insure she ran where she needed to for maximum impact.

A few shadowy appearances, and the subtle redirection of the cops, and he watched as the foul woman ran straight into incoming traffic. It was so late at night that it was highly unlikely any minors would be involved, much less traumatized by the entire thing.

He found it rather fitting that she was impaled by a broken bike rack on the bus she ran right in front of. He enjoyed the delicious irony of her death, especially considering how a shrike tended to eat their prey.

Shrike walked into the bar with a slight pep in his step, mostly due to the fact it would only be a matter of hours before the hit was permanently canceled. No merc would bother with a hit if the client paying for it was killed off before the contract was completed. And five thousand wasn't really enough to attract the real movers and players anyway.

Weasel shot him a slight Look when Domino walked in two hours after the business opened with pictures.

"Funny thing really...she ran out into oncoming traffic and ended up impaled to death. Bled out in less than ten minutes after the accident," said Domino, as if commenting on the weather.

"Such a shame," said Shrike dryly.

Domino wasn't the only one giving him a Look. Weasel was too, but they said nothing. It wasn't their business, and if Shrike was involved he had the sense to keep his mouth shut. If anything it would have made him closer to the rest of the mercs.

Shrike wondered if he should feel any pity over what he had done. But technically, he had done nothing, just idly stalked a crazed woman for a few blocks. Her paranoia and the drugs in her system did the rest. Besides, odds were the cops would write it off as an accident with the liquor on her breath.

More importantly tomorrow he would be going with Adrien to look at special dog breeders to see if he could find a puppy to train as his search and rescue partner. It wasn't a requirement, but Peter had always loved dogs and wanted one. However the apartment had a clear "no pets" policy.

One perk to a search and rescue license was that their canine partners fell under the same category as a police canine. So by definition, his pup wasn't a "pet" at all.

Considering there was a cop in the apartment next to them (who had introduced May to Adrien and Bandit) who had their own dog, Peter was sure he could argue a case for keeping it.