He was being chased by Iron Man.
He, Peter Parker - no, Spider-Man - was being chased by the billionaire Avenger Tony Stark through the streets of New York at two in the freaking morning like he was some common criminal.
Though, now that he thought about it, Iron Man didn’t do common criminals, that was more of his shtick.
He was being chased by the Iron Man, and it was hardly on his list of things that he wanted to do in his life. Not many people wanted an angry man encased in destructive armor plating with the ability to fly hunting them down.
Maybe Deadpool did, but he had that whole life/death complex thing. Spider-Man didn’t. Spider-Man very much had every intention to stay uncaught and very, very far away from the pursuing Avenger.
He swore wildly to himself as he swung through the streets as fast as he could, veering and zigzagging away from his pursuer like a frightened gazelle.
“Shit shit shit.”
This was not good. This was very not good. This was incredibly, very, extremely not good - shit.
This was all one incredibly huge misunderstanding. Yes, he had been avoiding the Avengers the moment that he realized that they were aware of ‘Spider-Man’ and his ‘vigilante justice’, and yes, perhaps his complete avoidance of them was doing nothing for his image, and yes, maybe he did let the press assume that he was some rogue mutant dealing out his own kind of home brew crime fighting...
However, if they knew him, they would understand. They would understand the steps he was taking, and understand why he didn’t want to meet them.
The Avengers were connected to S.H.I.E.L.D and connected to the government, and connected to all sorts of people that wanted all sorts of control over people like him.
He wasn’t stupid – he saw the news. He saw how people with different powers were treated. Saw the struggles of Professor Xavier’s’ school for mutants. Saw the struggles of Magneto and his rogue crew. He saw the struggles of the Avengers even, seeing how hard it was to do what was right when under a sort of choke-hold collar.
He knew that if it were known, who he was and what he was, it could - and probably would - come to a complete stop.
Spider-Man wouldn’t let that happen.
He had to be there for the city. He had to save people.
Even if it meant going under the stigma of being a ‘local menace’, knowing that he was all about protecting the little guys made all the difference.
He’d take a thousand insults his way if it meant saving one person from being hurt, or even killed, on the streets.
Spider-Man wasn’t about to let people in powerful places assume was was right for the little guy. He had powers now, and he was going to use them right.
Nobody had a say over that.
So; this was all a big misunderstanding – one that he unfortunately can never properly clarify. It was safer that way. Safer for him, safer for his aunt May. Safer for everybody.
It was just unfortunate that recently he was being painted in an unfavourable light by the police, the news, social media – no matter what he did.
These last few months sucked, and as far as he was aware, he had done nothing wrong.
He was only trying to help.
It was like there was some sort of city-wide vendetta against him, someone got it in their head that he wasn’t helping anyone at all, and it just caught on like wild-fire.
It just wasn’t fair.
It also wasn’t fair that a pack of rogue mutants decided to try to blow up a bank that night. It hadn’t been his fault that he didn’t know that the Avengers were on the case of this particular criminal organization, and it also wasn’t his fault that he decided to flee when he saw them – because he just couldn’t ever risk associating with them.
He just couldn’t.
Spider-Man’s mental ramblings cut to a halt when he nearly collided into the solid metal of Iron Man’s body. His spider-sense saving him at the last second, flipping in the air as he swung and used the hero as a spring-board to change directions like some deranged frog.
As he sped away rapidly, he heard Iron Man’s voice let out an exasperated, “Oh, come on!” before he, apparently, began to call for backup.
Even with super-hearing, he was too far away to hear who exactly the billionaire was calling, and his heart was way too far up in his throat for him to focus that hard anyway.
He just had to get away.
“Oh you done fucked up big time, Spider-Man,” he rambled to himself hysterically, as he turned the corner and tried to hide himself by winding through tight alleys, “You done fucked up real good.”
Why was this his life now?
He stuck to a wall for a second, taking a breather, and quickly reloading his web-shooters.
Spider-Man’s hands shook as he reloaded them, and he wondered through the thick blanket of panic just who Iron Man had decided to call to help capture him.
Captain America? Thor? The Hulk?
He half wondered if it would be the Hulk as he launched himself back into the air and began his mad attempt to hide himself away from the perusing hero. He wouldn’t mind if it were the Hulk - he was a pretty big fan of Dr. Banner’s work, and felt if he was going to be taken down by an Avenger it would be fitting if he were smashed like the spider he was.
A blast went off by his head, and he only just narrowly managed to escape it, sticking to to a nearby wall before dropping down and beginning to run before finding a place to start his swinging again.
He only realized out of the corner of his eye that it might not been aimed directly at him, but rather where he was attempting to stick his web - though the fact that the Avengers were actively firing on him was terrifying.
He was so screwed.
So, so screwed.
But swing like a madman he did still – despite feeling that his fate was rather set in stone knowing how desperately Iron Man was perusing him. It was only a matter of time before they caught him, and if not today – it would be sometime soon.
He decided that today just wasn’t going to fit his schedule.
Too much schoolwork. Too busy signing up for Universities. Too busy applying to internships. No time to schedule being captured by the Avengers.
In fact; his entire year was booked. Two years. Three years.
He desperately swung as fast as he could, taking odd back alleys and streets that he knew all too well in his nightly travels. Nighttime streets were his forte, and he was banking on his more intimate knowledge of this to give him a slight advantage.
Spider-Man ducked into an alley that served as a garbage dump for the restaurants that backed onto it. The tight dark passage was laden with large rusty dumpsters that were fit to burst with food refuse, the stink wafting up in heavy miasma-like waves.
The bonus to this was that the rotting garbage generated warmth, and he was banking on the steam rolling off the garbage in the cold night air to mask his own body temperature. He had a suspicion that the Iron Man suit had the ability to see heat signatures.
He leaned against the wall, heaving breaths, but still keeping his senses at the ready.
There was no knowing who was going to leap out of the shadows at any given moment.
It could be Iron Man himself. Or maybe Thor?
He almost wanted to laugh at the thought of him, Spider-Man, being chased down by Black Widow. Almost. He mostly wanted to throw up.
Spider-Man didn’t linger long standing in the alley. He grabbed the wall with both his hands and feet and took off quickly across it - skittering as silently and as quickly as he could.
He controlled his breaths, carefully crawling to the underside of a fire-escape, and right over top of an open dumpster of a local restaurant - the smell was gut-wrenching, but the heat hopefully helping him to stay hidden.
Peter held his breath, straining his already very sensitive ears.
He could hear chatter and clattering dishware from the kitchen of the restaurant, the door open just a fragment due to poor hinges. He could hear the pigeons roosting on the roof above him. He could hear the sound of traffic in the busy streets, even at this hour. He could the sounds of people talking tiredly through the windows of their apartments streets away.
He didn’t dare breathe a sigh of relief - or move an inch. He intended to stay as still as possible for hours if need be - maybe forever if it meant not getting caught by Iron Man and the rest of the Avengers.
It would be hours, or mere seconds before they found him.
It was mere seconds.
Just as his thudding heart started to slow down, and the adrenaline began to calm, his spider-sense screamed through his mind like an electric shock to the base of his spine.
Spider-Man didn’t think, he just grabbed the edge of the fire-escape he was stuck to the underside of and flipped on top of it, letting loose a web and rocketing up the side of the building half-pulling, half running.
He heard a startled shout from the man who had only been mere feet from catching him.
The one and only Captain America.
“They set freaking Captain America on me!?” he cried to himself as he crossed the line were wall met roof changing his vertical dash into a horizontal one.
“That was way too close, man. Way to close!”
Captain America was on his tail though, swift and mighty he was, and as Spider-Man jumped down again into another alleyway, hoping the man would assume that he swung away rather than planted his feet on the ground.
Captain America didn’t assume that. He was instead running around the corner, having correctly predicted Spider-Man’s play and had run straight around the building the moment he had escaped him.
“Oh shit!” Peter found himself swearing as he saw the hefty American Hero running toward him like a bull.
He gawked too long, and before he could shoot his web to get away from the man, his reflexes made him turn, his hands raising up defensively to catch the shield that was being thrown at his face.
“Holy crap,” Spider-Man squeaked, having only caught the shield mere inches from his face.
He was tackled to the ground before he could even register what happened, or even marvel in the fact that he was holding Captain America’s shield in the first place. Something a far more naive Peter Parker would have wanted to do during a much more innocent time.
“Omph!” Spider-Man felt the air being pushed out of his lungs, and his back bruise at the impact of him slamming into the concrete with a few hundred pounds of all American hero on top of him.
He wheezed, the shield dropping beside him and rolling to hit the nearby brick wall of the tight alley.
“You-” Captain America panted, “- are an incredibly hard man to catch.”
“And you -” Spider-Man breathed, voice tight, ribs aching. “- are very heavy.”
He lifted his head and saw Iron Man touch down a few feet behind them.
“Slippery thing, isn’t he?” Tony Stark said as he stepped out of his suit that gave way as easily as water. “Nice moves, by the way, the whole, wall-skittering thing. Sorta creepy - definitely get the Spider-Man thing now,” he said in a near-conversational tone. The undercurrent of it was hardly friendly though.
“Yeah - thanks. I try. Sorta my- my whole thing, y’know. Friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man.”
“Oh the reports were right,” Tony said as he stepped around them so he could better see Spider-Man. “You do talk a lot. Well that’s good, we have a lot to chat about,” he said, his voice casual but held that air of arrogance that just rubbed most people the wrong way.
It just scared Peter.
“If you wanted to chat,” he breathed, “You should have said so! We could have gone out for ice-cream. Or donuts. You seem like a donuts kinda guy. You wanna go for donuts? We can do donuts. Instead of - instead of this.”
“It’s a bit late for donuts,” Tony easily replied.
“Can’t blame me for trying - whoa!”
Captain America had flipped him onto his front, and had yanked him upwards and onto his feet, pinning both of his arms behind him. The grip didn’t hurt in the slightest, but it was absolutely uncomfortable.
At least he wasn’t on the concrete anymore.
“Thanks,” he muttered.
“So what do we do, Tony?” Steve Rogers asked the billionaire that was looking Spider-Man up and down, taking in all that he saw of the young hero.
“We stop wasting time and playing nice and we take him to the tower,” Tony replied after a moment or two of walking around the two of them, taking a moment to prod at one of the web-shooters that was on his wrist.
Not that he could fire them with his arms pinned as they were.
Peter felt the blood drain from his face at the mention of taking him to the tower, his heart lept into his throat, and his ears began to ring.
No no no.
“Yeah sorry - no choice. Steve?”
The tight grip on his arms began to tug him as if to lead him away, but he stayed rooted to the spot.
Captain America tugged again, but it as as if he had been nailed to the concrete. He could hear the sound of incredulity as Steve made another tug on him.
Tony rubbed his own face in exasperation, “Come on, man. Make this easier for us.”
“I said no.”
“You don’t have a choice here.”
“Yeah I think I do,” he retorted, running his mouth despite him knowing that he should shut the hell up, “I’m not going anywhere. In fact, I don’t even want to have donuts with you anymore. You lost your donut privileges.”
Tony’s sigh was a long withering one as Steve tugged on him again, and again, and Spider-Man did not so much as budge.
He must have bewildered the American Hero, because he felt the grip on his arms re-adjust as if that was the reason why Steve was unable to move him.
It wasn’t as if he advertised all of his super-powers to the world. Super-strength was just one of the tricks he had up his sleeve; and if Captain America wasn’t using his full strength because he feared hurting him, then he wasn’t about to encourage him to do otherwise.
“Please,” Captain America implored. “I don’t want to hurt you.”
“Missed that stop back when you decided to tackle me to the ground, buddy,” he found himself biting back.
He felt the hero wince - muttering a kind of apology. Tony didn’t look sorry whatsoever.
“Look, Spider-Whatever, we can’t do this all night. It’s late, I’m tired. I have things to do. Important things. So why don’t you unglue your feet and make it easier for all of us?”
“Letting me go would make it easier for all of us,” Spider-Man tried, despite the icy fear that twisted his stomach.
Captain America spoke from behind him. “You know we can’t do that, I’m sorry.”
“Why not?” Peter asked, willing his voice to sound hard and controlled - not the strangled mess it had been just a few seconds before. He just barely managed it. “What have I done to you to get the attention of the Iron Man and the Captain America.”
“You know what you did,” Tony said simply.
“Yeah - no. Gotta run that by me again, ‘cause the last time I remember, I haven’t been up to any super-evil shenanigans. I know of a few guys though,” Peter continued, falling into the comfort of his motor mouth, “One of them is really green, really, really ugly -”
“I think I like it when people I am trying to apprehend don’t talk.”
Spider-Man continued anyway, “You didn’t answer my question - why did you come after me? I’ve done nothing wrong.”
“Yeah cause you look totally innocent running from that exploded bank today,” was the sharp reply.
Spider-Man pulled experimentally on the grip that Captain America had on his arms. Yep. Still firm. It tightened at his attempt. “Yeah I didn’t do that - you saw those guys that were strung up outside, right? Maybe you should ask them -”
“- And the building in Queens that was nearly levelled last week...” Stark continued as if mentally reading off a grocery list.
“Again,” Spider-Man retorted, trying to keep the pleading out of his voice, “That wasn’t me. You guys seriously need to get better intel if you think that I look anything like a guy that has four robotic arms sticking out of his back -”
Tony was just continuing his list, “There are constant police reports about a web-slinging menace in the city.”
“The police are biased,” he spat in reply - and it was true. The number of times he had been aimed at by the police when he was trying to save innocent people was too many to count.
“- There were those deaths -”
The pit of ice in Peter’s stomach dropped. Low blow, Stark. Low blow.
“That wasn’t me,” Spider-Man felt himself yelling. “That wasn’t me!”
“Tony,” Steve’s voice warned.
Tony still continued, “There has been after report of an unchecked mutant vigilante in New York using their own brand of justice; and you wonder why we were chasing you after we saw you flee the scene of the explosion at the bank?”
Peter’s panic was reaching Spider-Man’s voice, “That. Wasn’t. Me. Seriously. Let me go!”
“Sorry - we can’t let you run rampant anymore. There’s rules to this business. We’ve given you enough chances to fix it.”
What chances!? This was the first time they ever tried to come close to him!
Sure, he had been actively avoiding them too, and maybe he wouldn’t have wanted to communicate if they tried to, but he certainly hadn’t been getting any signals from them that they wanted to talk at all.
“Please,” he begged, “You don’t understand. I am only trying to help people-”
Stark ignored Captain America. “Like we haven’t heard that one before. Number one excuse, really.” Stark then added, as if to himself, “You know, these guys ought to get more creative with their excuses. Why not, ‘for the sake of the poor orphan puppies’ or something? It’d be refreshingly different.”
Peter didn’t find this funny at all. He pulled again at the Captain’s grip, giving it another test at it’s tightness. “Seriously. I’ve only ever tried to help people -”
“Again. Predictable excuse.”
“Would you listen?” Spider-Man demanded.
Tony’s expression turned hard, and he poked a finger into the embroidered spider-emblem on his front. “Innocent people don’t run,” he said simply, as if it were the truest statement in the whole world. “Innocent people don’t do the things you’ve been doing.”
What ‘he’d been doing’? he hadn’t done anything! What sort of misinformation were the Avengers getting on him?
This wasn’t about him being a vigilante in justice, this was because they assumed that he was actually a serious problem.
What did they assume?
“You don’t understand. Please. You said you wanted to talk - then fine, we’ll talk! Just let me go! Please!”
“Yeah, sorry. No can do. I’ve been burned too many times that way.”
Tony made a nod toward Captain America, who made another attempt at shifting Spider-Man from where he was rooted.
He refused to so much as shift.
“Please don’t make this harder than it already is -” Peter heard the super solider say carefully from where he was behind him.
Despite the fear, despite the mind-crushing anxiety, Peter found himself scoffing bitterly. “Harder than it already is? Well excuse me for making this so inconvenient for you Captain America - do you want me to sing the national anthem for you while you kidnap me? Would that lighten the mood for you?”
“Okay - I’ve had enough,” Tony stated sharply, “Let’s see who costumed smart-ass is.”
Tony’s hand moved to pull off the mask.
- and all he managed to do was lift it just over Peter’s chin.
Using his strength instead of previous innocent tugs, Peter wrenched his arms out of Captain America’s grip and kicked backward simultaneously, sending the super-soldier a good ten yards backwards with a startled cry.
Without missing a beat, he activated his web-shooters in the direction of Captain America and the Iron Man suit.
Tony lept at him, but he side-stepped as the streams of web filled the inside of the suit as much web as he could manage, the other arm taking care of Captain America, liberally gluing him to the ground.
He side-stepped Tony’s attempt at him again, moving an arm to shoot a web to attach to the nearest building, and the other to glue Tony’s feet to the ground.
He would have left right then and there, but he turned to look at Stark, wrapping his wrist around the web.
“Whatever it is you think I’ve done. I didn’t do it.”
Then he left, swinging away while Captain America struggled to get out of the webbing, and Tony Stark quietly watched him go, unable to follow.
He had only avoided the Avengers to stop them from stopping him.
Spider-Man had to save people.
He never wanted this, any of this.
He certainly didn’t want to be on the Avengers shit list.
It was only a matter of time before they would catch up again, he wasn’t so sure he’d escape so easily the next time.
Peter was only fifteen after all.