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when will i stop whumping them? (never)

Chapter Text

“That was too easy,” Rhodey says after they take down this week’s crazy person set on taking control of New York.

Tony shrugs his shoulders, look around. “Not gonna complain about an easy day.” But something’s wrong…something’s not right.

His worries are answered when he hears the kid’s wobbly voice over the comm link. “Uh, Mr. Stark…I think…I have a slight problem.”

Tony whirls around, searching the ground for his spider kid. “Pete, what’s wrong? Where are you?”

“By the pizzeria on 36th,” comes his reply and Tony knows that tone. He can tell how desperate the kid is trying to keep himself calm.

Sure, the fight itself was easy, but it was long. Long and frustrating because the army of robots– actual robots– was never-ending.

Tony puts everything into his thrusters to get to Peter. Steve is already there with an arm wrapped around Peter’s shoulders. He runs to a stop in front of him, his eyes immediately going to the bleeding wound he was holding on his stomach. “What happened?”

Peter winces. “S'was stabbed by one of the bots’ knife thingies.”

Tony nods his head. It doesn’t look too bad. This he can work with. “Well, how’s your healing factor doing, buddy?”

“Oh, it’s working,” Steve says and that doesn’t sound good.

Tony hesitates. “What do you mean?”

Peter smiles nervously. “I, uh, tried to get it out because I couldn’t fight with a piece of metal sticking out of me. And I know, before you say anything, you’re not supposed to take out the blade because it could be what’s keeping you alive and whatnot, but Karen checked and said it was safe to take out! I’d heal up before I lost too much blood.”

Tony nods his head, trying to decipher what is actually useful in the kid’s rambling. “Skip to the bad part. You know how I am with patience.”

“Well, uh– I tried to pull it out and I did! But…you see, this is the funny part! Part of it snapped off inside of me…so my body is healing around the part of the blade still inside of me.”

Tony fails to find any humor in that statement. He blinks and wishes his face wasn’t covered by his mask so Peter could see the look on his face. “Would you like to explain to me which part I should laughing at? Because I don’t think a sharp object being inside of you, dangerously close to several organs and such is funny.”

Peter winces. “Whoops.”

Getting back to the Tower is a hassle and a half. Tony hooks Peter under his arms and flies very slowly and carefully. He’s afraid to disturb the blade inside the kid’s stomach and cause internal bleeding.

Bruce is ready when they get to medbay and shakes his head. “Peter, what are we going to do with you?”

Tony crosses his arms over his chest from where he’s watching beside the bed Peter’s laying flat on. “Oh, I’ve got a few ideas.”

“Don’t listen to him, Dr. B. He loves me too much to let any harm come.” Peter grins, all while there’s still a damn blade making itself home in his gut.

“I’m going to kill you.” Tony pauses to really think about it. “Or you’re going to kill me. Whichever comes first.”

Before Peter can reply, Bruce brings over a needle. “I’m gonna have to cut it back open to pull out the blade, Peter.”

Peter nods, knowing the drill. The anesthesia– the one they come up with in the lab after Bruce had to perform surgery on Peter without it and swore never again– will make him feel nice and loopy while Bruce does his work. Doesn’t mean he liked the needle any more.

Despite the jokes Peter had been making, Tony knows he’s nervous. He uses the jokes that ignore the fact he’s actually terrified. And while apparently, a blade healed in place inside of him wasn’t as bad as the sight of a needle. Because Bruce starts wiping at his arm with an alcohol wipe and Peter doesn’t crack a joke. His wide eyes find Tony immediately.

Tony comes forward. “Okay, buddy, I’m right here.” One hand finds Peter’s (the kid started squeezing it the second he can) and the other finds its spot threaded through his curls.

“I don’t like needles,” he whispers loudly.

Tony chuckles. “I know, kiddo. Maybe next time we don’t rip metal knives out of our stomachs. Let’s leave it to the trained professionals.”

“Your trained professional is about to stab me all over again.” Peter’s eyes don’t leave Tony’s, but the kid knows the needle is near.

“You literally have a giant needle stuck inside you. How is that needle worse?”

“Needles are terrifying, Mr. Stark.”

“Yeah, yeah, so are you.” He rolls his eyes. “Close your eyes and it’ll be over before you know it.”

“But–.”

“No ‘but’s or else I’ll tell him to rearrange your intestines while he’s fishing around.”

Peter makes a face. “Gross.”

“You’re gross,” Tony returns.

You’re gross,” Peter mocks right back.

Tony shakes his head with a smile. Oh yeah, the kid was gonna be just fine.

Chapter Text

“Sir, Peter is currently scaling the side of the tower and will be inside at any moment, FRIDAY announces just as he finishes brushing his teeth. 

Tony frowns. He thought the kid was going to take a night off tonight. “Alright, let Pep know that I’ll be back in bed in a few minutes.” 

“Of course,”  she replies. 

Tony goes to the living room and makes it inside just as he hears a bang come from the window. “Peter?” He asks, hurrying a little more towards where the sound came from. 

There’s no response. 

He sees Peter sitting with his back pressed up against the wall and his knees tucked up to his chest. But what really catches him by surprise is the blood covering his hands. 

Tony hurries to his side and kneels next to him. A million thought are already racing through his mind as to why Peter is covered in blood as Peter Parker and not Spider-Man. “Peter, what’s wrong?” He asks, his hand hovering over Peter’s shoulder. “Are you hurt?” 

Peter shakes his head and Tony can hear his soft sobs. 

“Where’s the blood from? Peter, whose blood is that?” Tony asks, his voice growing a little frantic. 

“I couldn’t save him.” 

Tony falters. “What?”

“I heard the shouting and yelling and then the gunshot. The man ran and I tried, I tried to save him–.” Peter shakes his head. “I pressed hard to stop it, but he just…he– and I couldn’t save him.” 

Okay. Tony can work with this. “You heard a mugging? And you were too late?” Peter nods his head and Tony sighs. “Oh, kiddo, you can’t save everyone. You tried and that’s all that mattered.” 

“It was Uncle Ben all over again,” he mumbles and lifts his head up finally. He stares at his shaking blood-covered hands. “I couldn’t save him either. He died because of me.” 

Tony doesn’t know the full story of Ben; he barely knows any of the story. But he does know Ben isn’t dead because of Peter. “That’s a lie,” Tony says, putting a hand in his shoulder. 

“I should have tried harder,” he continues like Tony didn’t even speak. “I should have stopped him before–.” 

“You had no control over what happened to Ben. The only person to blame is the one that killed him.” 

“Me. It was me.” 

He sounds so sure. So genuine. Tony swallows thickly, suddenly afraid of the answer. “How was it you, Pete?”

“He was looking for me– I ran away. And– and the man that, that…” He shakes his head. “I could have stopped him, but I let him go because I was an idiot. It was my responsibility. And I let Ben down– he died and it’s all my fault.” 

“Pete, you didn’t know what he was going to do. You can’t put that on yourself.” 

Peter looks up at him, a haunted look in his eyes. “How can you even look at me?” He whispers and his voice is so low and nothing like Tony has ever heard come from him before. 

“Because I know you. I know it wasn’t your fault. Not tonight. Not Ben.” 

“No,” Peter almost shouts. “It is my fault. All my fault…” He lets his head fall to his knees again and when he goes to grip his hair with his hands, Tony quickly grabs his wrists. 

“Alright, buddy, let’s not touch anything until this blood is off your hands, okay?” He keeps his voice soft because he knows that’s what Peter needs. “Why don’t we go get you cleaned up, okay? I’ll call May and let her know you’re sleeping over.” 

Peter doesn’t look like he’s going to move, so Tony takes him in his arms, not caring that his pajamas are now stained with a stranger’s blood. He tucks Peter close to his chest, grunting at the weight. 

“You’re no feather,” he says as he starts to walk him to the bathroom.

Now that he’s being held, he leans his head against Tony’s chest and sobs harder. “I’m sorry– I don’t deserve your forgiveness, but I’m sorry.” 

Tony hates how broken the kid sounds and he knows nothing he can say to the kid will take the guilt and pain away. “Don’t apologize, kiddo. I don’t bl–.”

“Please forgive me.”

“Peter,–.”

“Please,” he says again. 

Tony sighs. “Okay, I forgive you. Okay, kid? I forgive you. Just…please…there’s nothing to be sorry for.” 

“I’m sorry,” he mumbles again and that’s the last thing he says. 

He doesn’t say a word as Tony washes him off. He sluggishly gets dressed into a pair of pajamas and then Tony escorts him into his bedroom. Peter looks dead on his feet and Tony doesn’t trust him to get to bed. 

Peter crawls into bed and Tony tucks the blankets around him. “Get some sleep, Pete. You need to rest.” Peter closes his eyes and Tony ruffles his hair softly. Peter doesn’t smile. 

Not that Tony expects him too. This part of the job– when you can’t save people…these moments haunt you the most. It’s an occupational hazard. 

If Tony could take all of that pain away from the kid, God, he’d do it in a heartbeat. But the best he can do is just be there for him when it happens again. Because they couldn’t avoid it. No matter how hard they tried…

He climbs into bed next to him and pulls him close to his chest. “FRI, let Pepper know I’m spending the night with Peter.” 

Of course”

Tony presses a kiss to the top of Peter’s head and whispers softly. “It’s gonna be okay, kid. It’s all gonna be okay.”

Chapter Text

Peter watches as Tony gets up from the table to refill his cup. His movements are slow and he still stumbles a little on his feet. He dribbles some water as he fills the glass, he puts it down to get a napkin to clean it up and comes back to the table without cleaning the spill or bringing his glass.

Tony had been off all day. Peter came to the tower early in the morning to spend a a day with him and Tony only seems to get more of a mess as the hours continue. He was a mess in the lab until FRIDAY kicked them out to eat.

“You forgot your water,” Peter says softly when Tony sits across from him.

Tony groans and goes to stand back up, but he immediately falls to the ground.

Peter’s heart jumps into his throat. “Mr. Stark!” He shouts and hurries to his side.

On the ground, Tony is unconscious in a heap. Peter falls to his knees and starts shaking him. “Mr. Stark– Tony!”

He’s about to tell FRIDAY to call for help when Tony groans and his eyes flutter open. “Wha…”

Peter let’s out a sigh of relief and takes a moment to let his heart settle. “Jeez, Mr. Stark, you could have let me know you were gonna pass out!”

“I passed out?” He asks, already trying to push himself up.

Peter pushes him back and shakes his head. “Wait– hold on for a moment. Just…relax.” He lifts himself up on his knees and grabs his glass of water from the table. He settles next to Tony hands it to him. “Here, sit up and take slow sips.”

Tony listens as he makes a face. “You backwash?”

Peter huffs. He doesn’t find Tony’s jokes funny at all when he’s trying to avoid his own pain or hurt. “What’s wrong? Why did you faint– and don’t say 'nothing'. It looks like you haven’t slept in 3 days.”

“Okay, you got me,” Tony says as his shoulders deflate. “I haven’t slept in a day or so.”

Something flashes in Tony’s eyes, but it’s gone a moment later. “I’m fine, kid. Maybe just a little dehydrated.”

Peter narrows his eyes. “You know besides for Ned, you’re my best friend, right? That means I know when you’re lying. And you’re definitely lying right now.”

Lying. Again. “FRIDAY, when was the last time Mr. Stark slept?”

“Approximately 113 hours ago,” FRIDAY replies without hesitation.

Peter does the math in his head and stares at Tony with wide eyes. “113– that’s almost 5 days. Tony, why the hell haven’t you slept in 5 days?!”

“You sound like Pepper,” he says, avoiding the question.

“You want me to tell her you haven’t been sleeping?”

Tony tenses up. “No– don’t tell her. She’ll only worry.”

“And you think she’s not worrying seeing you like this?” Peter softens his voice. “Mr. Stark…you said you’d take care of yourself better. You promised.”

“Pete…”

Peter shakes his head. “Nope. No. I’m not allowing this. If I were you, you’d be strapping me in my bed. Come on.” He doesn’t give him a chance before he scoops Tony into his arms and stands up.

“Woah!” Tony says, quickly jerking in his hold. “I forget you can probably carry a small train sometimes.”

“You’re going to sleep. Your body needs rest. No more keeping yourself awake to avoid it.” Peter starts carrying him to the elevator. Tony starts to argue, but Peter ignores him. “FRIDAY, take us to Tony’s room please.”

The elevator moves up swiftly. “Peter Parker, put me down. Right now.”

“No. Not until you’re in bed.” Peter holds him tighter, but Tony doesn’t fight him. He probably doesn’t have the strength.

The elevator doors open and Peter goes straight to Tony’s giant bed and lays him down. He pulls off his socks and throws them in the hamper while Tony argues. “You’re in sweats and a t-shirt, so you should be comfy for bed.”

“Peter, stop being ridiculous–.”

“Lay down– stop moving,” Peter says as he tucks the blanket around him. “You need sleep.”

“The kitchen’s a mess– we were still working.”

“No. That can all wait. I’ll clean the food later after you fall asleep.” Peter doesn’t imagine the panic that flashes through Tony’s eyes at the mention of falling asleep.

“Peter, I’m not tired–.”

“Shhh,” Peter says because he knows Tony is exhausted. He crawls into bed next to him and just like Tony does for him when he can’t sleep, he starts to play with his hair softly.

“Peter,” Tony whispers and Peter can’t see Tony’s face, but it sounds like his voice breaks a little.

To not only get him to sleep, but also give him the privacy if he wants to let a few tears fall, Peter asks FRIDAY quietly, “Can you turn off the lights please, FRIDAY?”

The lights dim and Peter feels Tony tense. He continues playing with his hair and wraps an arm around him. Tony immediately grabs his wrist.

They sit in silence like that for a while. Neither saying a word. Peter knows Tony isn’t asleep.

Then Tony finally says, “I had a nightmare.”

“And nightmare?”

“5 days ago. The last night I tried sleeping. I’ve been getting them a lot recently, but that night–.” He lets out a shaky breath.

“It’s okay. You can talk to me about it,” Peter reassures him. He always listens to Peter when he needs it. No it’s his turn.

Tony doesn’t answer. He takes in a small breath and Peter hears the sob he tries to hide. Peter holds him closer.

“It’s okay, Mr. Stark. Just us. No one else.”

Tony’s hand tightens on Peter’s wrist. He finally says, “It was Titan. I just– I keep reliving it over and over and over.”

Peter had a feeling that’s what it was about. Even thought it’s been a few weeks since he’s been back, the pain and memories are still there. Peter wakes up in in a cold sweat at least 3 times a week. “I’m okay. I’m alive. You brought me back.”

“I can’t keep doing it– watching you die in my arms. Over and over.” Tony’s voice cracks. “You thought I’d save you– you cried and begged me to protect you and I didn’t.”

Peter winces. He remembers bawling into Tony’s shoulder when the fear and the pain became too much for him to handle. “It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have put that on you.”

“You’re a child– a damn child. You should have never yet through it. I hate that you did. I’m sorry I couldn’t stop it.”

“You tried, Mr. Stark. There was only so much you could have done. And you did protect me. I’m back and I’m not going anywhere.”

“I would do anything to keep you safe.”

“I know. So would I,” he answers.

“Good,” Tony replies and the tears are gone, replaced by exhaustion once again.

Peter hesitates before pressing a kiss to Tony’s head. “Get some sleep, Mr. Stark. Sweet dreams.”

Tony doesn’t answer except for a slight squeeze of his wrist. Moments later, he’s snoring softly. Peter smiles and doesn’t move or fall asleep so he can keep an eye on him and hopefully scare away any possible nightmares.

He sleeps through the night and entire next day without one whimper, flinch or cry.

Chapter Text

 

Peter’s having a bad day. He had a rough night on patrol, Flash gave him more shit than usual, he’s stressed from all the tests coming up…it’s all just adding up. Leading to a very tense and anxious Spider-Baby.

Tony’s aware of the signs. He knows when Peter is only moments from a breakdown. But this one is unexpected.

They’ve been working in the lab for almost an hour– nothing too intense, just improvements to projects Tony is working on. He knows what to do and how to fix it all, but giving Peter the opportunity to figure it out himself keeps him grounded.

Tony’s in the middle of praising his most recent development on a formula (Tony already knew the answer to) when the kid snaps. “Look at you go! Nice work, Einstein!”

Peter jerks back from the table they’re working at and sends some of the equipment flying. Tony doesn’t care about his tools though, he cares about his kid who is now on the floor, barely breathing.

He backs himself up until his back hits the wall with a thud. His chest is heaving rapidly, but he’s barely getting oxygen from the sounds of his wheezes. He pulls his legs up against his chest and hides his face in his knees. He’s crying now, openly, as he hugs himself.

Tony is at a loss for a moment. He’s seen the kid’s panic attacks. But this? This isn’t nothing like what he’s used to. This is so much worse. Nothing has ever triggered the kid so quickly and so deeply. And Tony doesn’t even know what the trigger was.

He walks slowly to Peter, making his footsteps obvious so Peter knows he’s coming. He doesn’t miss how he flinches at each step. He puts a hand on his shoulder because physical comfort always calms Peter down. “Hey, ki–.”

“No, stop!” He yells, his voice breaking in panic.

Tony has never heard Peter so scared. That in of itself terrifies him. “Pete…?”

“No more– please, Skip.” He hiccups on a sob. “I’ll be good. I’ll be good– please just…no more,” he begs as his voice breaks with a sob.

Tony takes a seat next to the kid, his heart breaking. “Kiddo, it’s me. It’s Tony. Mr. Stark. Not Skip. You’re safe.”

At the mention of the name ‘Skip’, Peter mumbles under his breath and between his sobs. “I don’t wanna play– I don’t wanna play.”

Tony wishes he knew who the hell Skip was because none of this makes any sense to him. He can’t even get through to Peter. The kid isn’t recognizing his voice and he’s afraid to try to touch him again.

“This isn’t fun. It hurts. Stop. Please stop.”

Even though he doesn’t hear him, Tony continues to try and calm him down. “You’re not being hurt. You’re safe. You’re okay, Peter.”

“No, please– it hurts too much. I don’t like it.”

Tony continues to try and get through to him and soothe him, but it’s useless. Peter sits there and tries to comfort himself, but it takes almost a half hour to calm himself down from his panic attack.

His breathing evens out and his sobs come to a slow stop. He looks up hesitantly and Tony gives him a weak smile. “Hey, bud, you back with me?”

“Mr. Stark?”

“Yeah, kiddo.” He pauses and asks, “You wanna fill me in on what happened? Why you got so upset?”

“I don’t…”

“Who’s Skip?” Tony asks after debating the question for a moment.

Peter takes in a quick breath and Tony is afraid he’s going to panic again. But he bites down on his fist as he lets out a shaky breath that almost breaks into a sob.

Tony doesn’t push again. He waits patiently for Peter to speak up.

“Have you ever had a babysitter, Mr. Stark?”

Tony considers the question. “Yeah.”

“Did…did you like them?”

Tony chuckles. “God, no. Barely paid any attention to me. It was old lady after old lady that smelt like they bathed in their perfume every morning. The minute my parents were out the door, they were sitting on the couch watching their soap operas until they came home.”

“I had a babysitter too. An older kid from another apartment. My first friend.” He pauses. “He would watch me for a few hours after school until Ben came home. He paid a lot of attention to me. When we were together he smelt like sweat– and something else at the time I couldn’t place. He spent every second with me from the moment I walked off the bus to the moment Ben walked in the door.”

Tony analyzes every word Peter’s saying, but he is still lost. “You kept saying a game. You got hurt playing a game? Did you sprain an ankle playing tag? Pick a dangerous spot during hide and seek?”

Peter laughs, but it isn’t a nice laugh. It’s cold and Peter has to wipe more tears from his face. “No…nothing like that. He made up his own game. Said only the best of friends played it.”

Tony feels his blood run cold. He has no idea what the game is, but he knows it’s not god.

“After a few weeks, he got bored of playing with my Avengers figures. Said he was tired of playing dolls. He wanted to show me a game that big kids played. He was 17 and I was 8– I thought I was a big kid too.”

“Pete, what was the game…” Do I want the answer?

Peter looks down in his lap. “He brought over a magazine and said we had to copy the poses in the book. Like Simon says–.” Peter squeezes his eyes shut. “I knew it was wrong, but he said he’d tell Ben and May that I was a bad boy if I didn’t. And at the time, that was the worst thing that could have happened.”

Tony has a sick feeling he knows exactly where it’s going now, but that doesn’t stop the urge to throw up when he hears Peter’s next sentence.

“And that’s when he took off my pants.”

“Peter–.” Tony’s heart is crushed. He thinks back to the conversation– Skip paying him too much attention and the smells Peter hadn’t been exposed to and the game. Tony felt like an asshole complaining about his babysitters while Peter was assaulted by his.

Whatever resolve Peter had breaks as he sobs into his hands. “I told him to stop. After he started, I said no. But he kept touching me and he, he made me touch him back. He said I wasn’t a good friend if I didn’t make him feel good too.”

Tony covers him mouth because the image of his kid– 8-year-old Peter Parker being molested by a teenager is the most sickening thought Tony could ever have.

“He just– he just kept going until he was done. Every day. I cried and begged him to stop, but never listened.”

Tony swallows down some nausea. “How long did he–?”

“Almost two weeks,” he answers. “The last day was the first time he…uh, he yeah…and I wouldn’t get out of bed the next day and then May was doing the laundry and found the blood on my underwear.”

Tony shuts his eyes. He can’t even imagine what that must have felt like. Knowing your child was raped by a kid you trusted to watch him. “So she knows–.”

“Yeah,” Peter says. “They promised they wouldn’t be mad if I told them the truth, and I wanted to tell them so badly. It hurt and they could always make the hurt go away. So, I told them. And Ben broke their promise.” Peter’s shoulders shake with a sob. “I’ve never seen him so angry, Tony.”

Maybe it’s Peter talking about Ben. Maybe it’s the tears. Maybe it’s the fact he called him Tony. Whatever the reason, Tony closes the distance between them and pulls Peter into a hug. Peter immediately melts in his arms.

“They didn’t tell Skip not to come– Ben didn’t want him to know. So, he showed up at our apartment, thinking it was just me waiting. May stayed with me in my room with the door shut– but I heard him. I heard them yelling and arguing– I heard Ben beating him.”

“It’s okay,” Tony soothes, even though it’s far from okay. “I’ve got you, buddy.” 

“I’ve never seen Uncle Ben like that– every night I’d hear him crying and I just thought…I did that to him.” 

“You did not do that to him, Peter Parker. He was crying because he love you and it hurt to see you go through that pain.” 

“Sometime’s I thought it would be better if I just never told them. Act like it never happened. Just to save them from knowing,” he says sadly. 

“We both know that’s not true. You needed to tell someone. You needed help. They wouldn’t have wanted you to keep it a secret.”

“Yeah…I guess it paid off. Skip never bothered me again after Ben sent him to the hospital unconscious.”

Tony nods his head. God, he loves Ben Parker. That man– Tony would have done the same thing. He would have killed Skip Westcott after making him suffer. “Did he…?” He asks. 

“Kill him?” Peter shakes his head. “But sometimes–,” Peter’s voice catches in his throat, but he continues on. “Sometimes I wish he had.” 

“I don’t blame you one bit, kid. He’s a fucking monster.” Tony pauses before asking, “Where is he? Is he in jail?”

“Y-yeah. He’ll be away for a few more  years.” 

“Forever.”

“What?”

Tony huffs, tightening his hold on Peter. “You think I’m letting him out? He’s going to rot in that jail cell.” 

Peter lets out a shaky breath. “Thank you, Mr. Stark.” 

“Don’t thank me– not for this.” He pauses, unsure of how he could help this kid in any way. He’s been through so much. “God, just when I think I can’t be any prouder…you’re a brave kid, you know that, right?”

“Brave? Mr. Stark, I cried like a baby. I wouldn’t get out of bed. I refused to have a friend until I met Ned in middle school. I–.”

“Don’t argue with me,” Tony warns with no heat. “You’ve been through a lot. More than any man I know and look at you still smiling through another day.” 

“Some days are easier than others,” he says quietly. 

“Yeah, well, the sun can’t shine all the time.” Tony runs his fingers through Peter’s hair and bring his head to lean on his shoulder. “But on the cloudy days, come to me. Whenever you need someone to talk to, I’ll be here for you.” 

“And you’ll make the pain go away?” Peter asks in a low voice; it’s close to breaking again. He clings tightly to Tony and Tony pulls him even closer. 

“I’ll do my very best. I promise you that.” Tony squeezed his eyes, feeling the tears leak from the corners. Tony would do damned near anything to keep this kid safe. 

“I believe you.”

“Good.” 

“Uncle Ben would be proud. I think he’s happy.”

The words catch Tony by surprise. “Oh?”

“He’d be happy to know I’ve got someone watching over me that loves me as much as he did. He knows you’d do anything to protect me,” Peter responds without hesitation. 

Tony pulls the kid closer and looks up. I hope I don’t let you down, Ben. 

Chapter Text

Here you go, Tony,” Happy says as he slides over a glass of Gin to Tony. He’s got a hold on his beer as he sits back down. 

“What about the kid?” Tony asks, gesturing his head to Peter, who is sitting between them. 

Happy frowns. “He’s still got his apple juice.”

Peter nods, taking a sip of his glass. “Yeah, Mr. Stark! I’m good!” 

“This is supposed to be a special night out for you, young man. You’re with the big boys. If you want to have a drink, you can have a drink.” Tony says because he knows while the kid loves his juice, he probably feels a little childish to be sipping on it in front of a room full of renowned scientists. 

“Tony–.” Happy starts as he stands up, but he stops when Tony shakes his head with a wink. 

He ruffles Peter’s hair which elicits a groan from the kid. He’d spent almost an hour before leaving, trying to get all of his curls gelled down. He thinks he looks more mature, but Tony can’t see past his big ear and chubby cheeks. He’ll never be a mature adult to Tony. Not even when he’s 40-years-old with a kiddo of his own. “I’ll be right. You two behave. Don’t sell my secrets to any tabloid. 

He leaves the two at their table as he heads over to the host bar. The bartender’s eyes widen when he recognizes him. “You’re Tony Stark.”

Tony frowns. There are plenty of celebrities here tonight; was this man not warned to keep it cool while he was on shift? Tony brushes it off with one of his dazzling smiles. “Yes, I am. And you’re the bartender.” 

“Yes! Yes– uh…” he hesitates before continuing, “What can I get for you, sir?”

“Hmmm,” Tony says, trying to think of a drink Peter will enjoy. “Can I get a strawberry daiquiri please. Make it a virgin,” he adds. 

“Of course,” he replies before getting to work. He only takes a few minutes and when he turns back around, he’s got a beautiful red drink in his hand.

He hesitates again before handing it over. “Enjoy, sir.”

Tony smiles and takes it. “Thank you.” He slides over a bill as a tip and the man takes it with wide eyes. 

“I can’t–”

“Sure you can. Good evening,” Tony says and turns around before the bartender can question him anymore. He has a long night ahead of him and all of these posh people aren’t going to be easy on him. 

He heads back over to the table where Happy and Peter are playing tic-tac-toe on one of the napkins. He places the drink in front of Peter, careful not to spill any. 

Happy speaks up before Peter can take it in his hands. “That better be–.” 

“Yes, yes, Mother Happy, it’s as much of a virgin as he is.” Tony waves his hand as he takes his seat. 

Peter’s face turns as red as his drink. “Mr. Stark.”

Tony furrows his face. “What? We all know it’s true– oh right, you’re a mature adult tonight.” 

“You know, not all adults have sex,” Peter says, finally taking a sip of his drink. His lip curls up in a smile as he goes for another. 

“Ah, yes, asexuals would agree.” Tony nods his head. 

“I was talking about Happy, but yeah– them, too.” 

Tony laughs loudly at the kid’s jab at Happy. It takes a second for Happy to realize he’s being picked on. “Hey! I’ll have you know I–.” 

“Please,” Tony interrupts him, “neither of us want you to finish that sentence.” 

Thankfully, Happy listens and they drop the subject. Peter gives his full attention to his drink and he sucks it down like Tony’s about to take it away from him. They’ve got some time before Tony has to go up in front of everyone and make a speech in front of everyone, so Tony takes over Peter’s spot in tic-tac-toe while the kid finishes off his drink. 

When he pushes it away from himself, Tony looks at him with a raised eyebrow. “You all finished there, Jimmy Buffett?”

“That’s so good.” He says with wide eyes. “What is it?”

“Virgin daiquiri. I’ll get you some mix to keep at the tower. Keep it away from Pep though. She’s allergic,” he says, going back to his game. 

After the drink is done, Peter excuses himself to the restroom and Happy challenges Tony to a game of hangman. They’re still playing when Peter comes back. “Did I miss anyone?” He asks, looking towards the stage. 

“Nope. I think we’ve got three minutes until they start.“ 

Peter grins, but Tony notices the smile doesn’t quite reach his eyes. Not like it should now that Peter’s about to hear all of these speakers talk about tons of different science theories. 

When the first scientist walks off of the stage, Peter claps loudly and lets out a small groan. Tony watches as he curls an arm around his stomach. “You okay, kid?” 

“Yeah.” He winces. “My stomach is just cramping a bit. I’ll be fine.”

Like an idiot, Tony believes him. 

They’re halfway through the third speaker when he feels a tug on his sleeve. Before he can turn away from the screen, Peter’s whispering in his ear. “I gotta go to the restroom.” 

“But, you were looking forward to Dr. Nimmons’ speech.” Tony frowns. The kid hadn’t shut up when he read about her presentation in the bulletin. 

“I know, but I just–,” Peter’s jiggling his leg, the arm wrapped around his stomach again. “I gotta go, Mr. Stark.”

Tony nods and whispers back, “Yeah, sure, kid. You okay getting there in the dark?” 

Peter nods and then he’s off, hurrying out of the room without getting in anyone’s way. Tony tries to ignore the worry building as he turns back to the woman on stage. 

Peter comes back in the middle of the fifth speaker. He looks even worse than he left. Even in the dark lighting, Tony can see how pale he looks. “You okay, kid?”

“I’m fine,” he replies, short and quick. 

Tony keeps his eyes on Peter because he knows he’s lying. He grows paler as the night continues, takes 2 more bathroom breaks between speakers, never lets go of his stomach and starts to sweat. “That’s it,” Tony says. “We’re leaving.” Happy is already getting his jacket off the back of his chair with a hand on Peter’s back. 

“No!” Peter straightens in his seat, wincing. “You’re up next. People have been waiting all night for you to speak. I’ll be fine for 15 more minutes.” 

Tony hesitates but nods. Why the hell did he have to go up last? “Alright, kiddo, but if you need to leave– we’re leaving. Tell Happy and he’ll drive you back if I’m still up here.” 

Something tells Tony to send him home now. In the next few minutes before Tony goes up there, he looks green and his lips are pressed in a firm line. 

“Peter,” Tony says, before standing up. “Are you sure?”

He just nods his head, looking pained as he body trembles slightly. 

“Watch him,” Tony whispers to Happy before standing up and going backstage to get ready. This is the first time in years he feels any sort of worry as he hears his name announced. Because he knows his kid out there is suffering. He starts to give his speech, speaking faster than usual, hoping to get this done so he can drag Peter out of here. 

He’s in the middle of a sentence when it happens. He has no idea what he’s even saying. He’s been walking around the stage babbling with his eyes locked onto Peter. Peter isn’t even making funny faces at him to get him to laugh on stage like he normally would. He’s leaning against the table, eyes squeezed shut as he hugs himself tightly around his stomach. 

Then he’s falling to the ground. 

Happy grabs him before he hits his head, but Tony doesn’t care. In a rush, he’s jumping off the stage and yelling into the mics. “Turn the lights on! I need a– shit, someone call an ambulance!” 

Nobody knows what’s going on– all they see is Tony Stark leaping off of a stage during his presentation. Something he never did. He was always nothing but professional when he spoke on stage, but now he doesn’t care. He needs to get to his kid. 

He shoves through the crowd and falls to his knees by Happy and Peter. “What’s wrong?” Tony says, even though he knows nothing more than him. 

“He was moaning in pain– I said I’d take him out to the car, but the he passed out.” Happy has his head cradled in his lap. 

Tony starts to slap Peter’s face, but he doesn’t rouse. Someone hands Tony a glass of water and Tony overturns it on the kid’s face. Nothing. He gets another and begs, “Please wake up, kid,” as he dumps it on his head. 

Peter blinks his eyes open and Tony lets out a sigh of relief. “Kid, don’t do that.” 

He rolls over, covering his mouth. “Mr. Stark, I’m gonna–.”

Someone is a step ahead and hands the kid a small bucket used for trash. After the kid is sticking his head inside of it, Happy shouts to everyone surrounding them. “Step back! Give him some space!” 

Peter immediately starts to throw up into the bin. Happy, for his credit, doesn’t make a face or go to move Peter from his lap. Tony moves closer, rubbing his back softly. “We’ve gotta get him back to Bruce–.”

“I’m a doctor– I can help,” someone says, falling to his knees by them. 

“Help him. Help him please,” Tony begs as the man begins to look him over. 

“What hurts–?”

“Cramps,” Peter gasps out, sounding like he’s about to cry. “My stomach.”

Tony can barely concentrate as the man looks him over with nothing but his experience in the medical profession. Peter stops vomiting and is moaning in pain as his legs and arms twitch uncontrollably. He starts to run his fingers through his hair. “You’re okay, buddy. It’s gonna be okay.” 

“Looks like food poisoning. Did he have anything to eat?”

Tony shakes his head. “I’ve had food poisoning dozens of times and never was it this bad and besides, he hasn’t eaten anything. Just his apple juice and…” Tony’s blood runs cold. The drink from the bartender that looked like he was hiding something with all his hesitating. “Happy, watch him.” 

He’s on his feet, running to the bar where he sees the bartender caught up making a drink, looking over at the crowd nervously. His eyes widen when he sees Tony running over to him and he doesn’t have a chance to get away before Tony dives across the bar and tackles him. 

He grips his collar and slams his head onto the floor as he straddles him. “What did you do to that drink?” He roars. 

“W-what?”

“I said, what did you do? You thought that drink was mine and you put something into it!” He slams his head again. “But guess what? It went to my kid! So, you better tell me what you put in it right now or I’ll kill you.”

“I-It was just a little pill– I thought– he said it was like a roofie or somethin’. It was supposed to be a joke when you went up on stage! I swear I didn’t mean to hurt anyone!” 

Tony can see red. “Didn’t mean to hurt anyone?! You drugged a drink– that I gave to my kid. Why the fuck would you ever drug someone purposely?!”

“H-he said he was gonna give me 10 thousand dollars.”

“Fucking moron! I can’t wait for you to rot in jail. I fuckin’ swear you will. Now tell me who is behind this and maybe you’ll get a shorter term than life!”

“I-I don’t know– I don’t know who he was! He gave me the pill and said he’d wire the money into my account.” 

Tony jumps off the man. “You’re an idiot.” He turns to the security guards behind him. “I want him in jail– go through the cameras and find this man. Now.” 

When he gets back to Peter, they’re loading him into the ambulance. Happy holding his hands as he shivers on the gurney. “He’s coming, kid, don’t worr–.” 

“I’m here! I’m here!” He says, rushing to Peter’s side and hops in with them. He grabs Peter’s other hand. “You’re gonna be okay, kid. It’s gonna be okay.” 

Hours later, Peter is trying to sleep after another violent round of throwing up. May is humming to him softly as she plays with his sweaty curls. He looks a little less green but just as pale. 

“You’re lucky he’s Spider-Man,” Bruce says quietly as he goes over Peter’s reports. “Woulda killed him if he wasn’t. But his body is fighting it off by itself. He’s just gotta go through a few more hours of this.” 

“God,” Tony whispers. “It was supposed to be me.” 

“And good thing it wasn’t. You would have died.” 

Tony looks over at the kid as he pinches his face in pain and whimpers. He wishes he could take it all away from him. “Security is gonna send me the tapes later. When I find this son of a bitch, he’s dead.” He figure it was one of his competitors that are jealous of his business. 

“Focus on Peter now. They’ll take care of whoever did this.” 

Tony nods his head, walking back over to the kid. He stops and turns around last minute. “Hey…you’re friends with Dr. Nimmons right?”

“Yeah, why?”

“You think she would mind taking an afternoon out of her day to meet a very intelligent fan that was too busy being poisoned too listen to her speech like he wanted to?” He asks with a smile. 

Bruce laughs. “Sounds good. Tell him to feel better and he’s got himself a deal.”

Chapter Text

“Please say something! I know you’re giving me the silent treatment!” Peter says, following Tony as he walks to the other side of the lab. 

Tony ignores him and instead, turns to Happy, who is standing behind Peter. The only way Peter was able to get here was begging Happy to drive him here. “Do you hear something, Hap? Because I didn’t.” 

Peter groans in frustration as he steps in front of him. “Mr. Stark, please. You didn’t even let me explain!”

Tony steps aside and keeps walking. “You smell that? I smell a traitor nearby.” 

“I’m not–.” Peter turns to Happy. “Happy, tell him I’m not a traitor!”

“Tony, you have been ignoring the kid’s every text and call for the past week. Don’t you think you’re being a little dramatic?”

“A little dramatic was when you ate my last cookie in the sleeve so I spit in your milk–.”

“You spit in my milk?”

“But to consider the child I spent months teaching Stark secrets a traitor because he got an interview with an internship for another company– and not just any company but OsCorp? I don't think so!”

Peter blushes, looking down at his feet. “You weren’t supposed to know,” he mumbles. 

For the first time in a week, Tony finally addresses him, “Oh, I’m sure I wasn’t. But your new friend, Norman, made sure to brag to me all about how I was losing my protege.”

Peter falters. “Is…is that why you’re so upset? Because you thought you were losing me?”

Tony sniffs and looks everywhere in the room but at him. “No.” 

With a soft voice, Peter takes a step closer, “You’re not going to lose me, Mr. Stark. You’re stuck with me.” 

“Yeah, well, when something shinier and better comes along, I don’t blame you for jumping at it.” He tries to walk away again, this time because feelings make him uneasy. 

Peter rolls his eyes. “Are you serious? You really think OsCorp is better than Stark Industries?” Even Happy chuckles.

“Kid, you’re young and you’re brilliant. With the right guidance, you could really change the world. No matter how much you’ve grown on me, it’s not my place to hold you back.” 

Peter groans as Tony’s self-loathing. “You definitely are being dramatic now. Because you’re not holding me back– you’re giving me so many opportunities that I would have never gotten without you. I want you as my mentor. Nobody else.” 

Tony fidgets, looking at him. “Then why did you apply for an interview with OsCorp?”

Peter sighs; he really doesn’t want to tell Tony (and Happy too), but he’s got no choice. He needs Tony to understand he’s not going anywhere. “There is…one thing Norman has that you don’t.”

Tony tenses. “What’s that?”

“A cute teenage son.” 

Tony furrows his brow. “What–?”

“His son, Harry…he was running the booth for OsCorp at the career fair. He’s–” Peter stumbles over his words, feeling his cheeks burn. “ He’s really cute and smart and funny and–.”

Tony’s smirking now. “I get it, Romeo.”

“He was at the booth and we were getting so along, I wanted to sign up because it asked for your phone number– so, I thought maybe if he liked me, he’d give it a call.” 

Peter’s looking at his feet now, the embarrassment too much for him to look at Tony. So, he doesn’t see it coming before he’s wrapped up in a tight hug. “Thank God– I was so scared I was losing you, kid.” 

Peter hugs him back with a smile. “Never.” 

“Good.” He ruffles Peter’s hair as he pulls back. “Now, about this little crush of yours…”

Chapter Text

“H-He’s gonna come!” Peter yells, his tongue feeling oddly heavy in his mouth. Maybe it has something to do with the needle this freak poked him with. 

“Oh, I hope he does, little one!” He says with a wide smile and it sets Peter off. He’s psychotic already for kidnapping a child, but now he’s tied him to a pole in an old warehouse as he holds a red gasoline container. 

“Gonna kick your ass,” Peter says, narrowing his eyes. Because Tony definitely will. 

“Sure,” he replies with a sing-song voice. He kneels next to him and pulls something out of his pocket. “I really don’t what you to try screaming for help– it’ll ruin the game when he gets here. So…” He trails off as he’s suddenly wrapping something around his mouth and snapping it behind his head. 

Peter shakes his head, trying to get it off, but he can’t. And maybe if he didn’t feel so tired, he would have been able to get out of here. But it’s all muted and his muscles aren’t listening. His brain isn’t even processing things as fast as it usually does. 

“That’s staying on. Now, close your eyes. I don’t think you want this to get in them.” He shakes that container and Peter hears something sloshing inside it. 

It’s not until he’s slowly pouring it over him that he realizes what it is. The smell of gasoline fills his nostrils as it drips through his hair and down his face. He tries to beg the man to stop, but his words are all muffled by the gag. 

The lunatic just hums as he empties the container, drenching him in the liquid. It spills down his forehead and over his eyelids. The smell makes him sick and even more light-headed. 

“That should do. I’ll go give him a call now so he can find you. Do you think he’ll win? They usually don’t.” He hums in thought. “Oh well! I guess we’ll find out!”

Peter hears him walk away and he hears the strike of a match and the crackle of fire. 

He prays for Tony to rescue him before it’s too late. 

“Hurry up,” Tony yells as he speeds towards the address FRIDAY has displayed on his HUD. 

“I’m coming, Tones,” Rhodey replies, though he doesn’t sound annoyed at Tony yelling at him when he’s probably flying as fast as he can. “Calm down. We’re gonna get him, okay? I promise.” 

No matter how soothing Rhodey is trying to make his voice, Tony can’t calm down. Not when Peter is still missing.  He’s been missing for a few hours, ever since school let out. It’s Wednesday– Tony has weekly board meetings on Wednesdays and doesn’t pick him up from school. Whoever the hell took him must know that. They must have been studying Peter, just waiting for the perfect time to kidnap him. 

May called him, asking if Peter was with him because he didn’t come home and she didn’t sound scared because when she couldn’t find Peter, he was always with Tony. But not this time. 

They didn’t even get any notes or phone calls about a ransom. It was silent until a few minutes ago when Tony got a text from a burner cell phone with a location and the message ‘come get him stark :) time to play!’ 

Tony didn’t hesitate before suiting up with Rhodey to get Peter back. But…something still doesn’t feel right. Why would someone kidnap the kid just to give him back within a few hours and no request for some ridiculous amount of money. 

There’s one answer Tony can think of and it makes him terrified to think about how he’s going to find the kid. 

He wishes it was as simple as a ransom. Tony would give any amount of money to keep the kid safe. He’d figure out a way to steal the moon if he had to. 

His thoughts haunt him the entire way to the abandoned warehouse about twenty minutes outside of the city. He lands and Rhodey is by his side only a few seconds later. 

Tony doesn’t need to guess which warehouse Peter is in because there’s only one with black smoke pouring out the windows. Rhodey slaps him on the back just hard enough to get him moving and then they’re running together. Rhodey slams his body against the locked door and they rush inside. 

Thankfully, their suits filter the air so they don’t immediately gag on the thick smoke. They also help with their vision. It’s still hard to see more than a few feet in front of them, but it’s much easier than it would have been. 

Inside, he sees smaller fires around them, slowly spreading and that terrifies Tony. Because where is Peter? “Peter!” He yells. “Peter, where are you?” 

“I’ll look down here, Tony. You look upstairs,” Rhodey said into their comm link, jerking his head towards the stairs along the wall. 

Tony nods his head and hurries over. “Tell me the second if you find him.” 

“Of course. You two,” Rhodey replies before he starts calling Peter’s name. 

Tony reaches the upper floor and he hopes Rhodey finds him because this is where the fires are. This is where the air is thickest and it’s hot and the fires are loud, crackling around him. 

“FRI, turn on thermal imaging. Sync it to Peter’s body heat if you have to– just find him,” Tony snaps as he immediately starts to search through the room himself. “Peter! C’mon, buddy! Where are you?”

“Sir, I am picking up detections of a human being 8 feet behind you.” 

Tony whirls around and rushes to the corner of the room. There’s a pole, probably helping to keep the warehouse up. When Tony gets closer, he can see a pair of hands tied behind it. He doesn’t need to hurry to the other side to know it’s his kid. 

He falls to his knees in front of him and he looks unconscious. His head is lolled forward, his chin tucked on his chest. How long has he been here? How much smoke has he inhaled already? He puts a hand on his shoulder, ready to wake him up, but his head comes up on his own. 

His eyes are open and droopy, but Tony can see how blown his pupils are. Which explains why he didn’t try escaping from the rope keeping him tied here– he’s drugged up to his eyeballs. And there’s no doubt that he’s even weaker because of all the smoke he’s breathing in through his nose. 

Through his nose because there’s a gag keeping his mouth shut. 

“Hey, bud, I’m gonna get you out of here, okay?” He says softly, leaning forward and around Peter to untie the ropes. 

Peter blinks a few times. He says something that Tony can’t understand. He wants to take the gag off and make sure Peter is okay now, but they don’t have the time. 

Tony brushes curls from his forehead and notes that they stick to his skin. He looks wet– like whoever tied him up like this poured a hose over him. “Shh, we’re gonna get through this really quick. Just close your eyes and we’ll–.”

Peter’s eyes widen as he shakes his head. His hands scramble at his mouth, trying to pull the gag off. 

They don’t have time to waste, but if Tony were Peter he wouldn’t want to keep that think on himself either. He gently pulls Peter’s hands away and unclips the gag from behind his head. “Is that better, bud?”

“Mr. Stark,” he slurs only slightly. “The fire– too much fire.” 

“I know. We need to get out of here before it gets closer to us.” Or before this whole building collapses on top of us, he doesn’t say because he doesn’t need the kid to have a panic attack. But it’s a valid concern. 

“Gonna burn,” he mumbles, tugging at his wet shirt. “G-gonna burn.”

“I won’t let you–.” 

“I’m gonna burn,” he repeats, sounding frantic and afraid. 

Tony assumes it’s the drugs making his mind so frazzled, but before he can anything, FRIDAY says, “Sir, the scans of the liquid covering Peter say it is gasoline.” 

“What?” He says, his hands freezing on Peter. Now he notices it all over him– it coats not only his shirt but his pants and his hair and face. “Peter, this is gasoline?”

Peter nods, his eyes darting around the room. He’s facing the wall, so he can’t see the flames around him, but Tony guesses this is on purpose. So, he couldn’t see it coming. His eyes finally settle on Tony. “He said I’m gonna burn.” 

“No, you’re not gonna burn. I’m gonna get you out of here, kiddo.” Tony picks the kid up in his arms and stands up, but Peter starts squirming. “I’m going to stay away from the fire. You’re safe.” 

Peter freezes and then looks up at Tony. He clings tightly to the armor. “O-okay. I trust you.” 

“Thank you,” he replies in a soft voice. “FRI, open the comms to Rhodey.” He waits a moment. “Rhodey, I’ve got him.”

“Thank God.”

“I can’t come down the stairs. I’m flying through the window. Meet me out front,” Tony says as he looks around. He doesn’t want to chance going near a flame because he doesn’t know what will happen– well, he knows, but he doesn’t know how close they need to be before…Tony gets nauseous at the thought. 

“Okay, see you out there.”

“Hold on, kid,” Tony whispers and turns around to face the room. He holds his breath and hopes it goes well before he rushes to the nearest window. The glass shatter around them and Tony hopes Peter isn’t scratched too badly, but it’s better than being burned alive. 

They land safely and Tony lets out a breath of relief. He looks down at Peter and sees him looking up at him with wide, pupil blown eyes, His face is covered in soot, only two streaks of skin showing from the tears he spilt. 

Now that they’re out of the smoke, Tony peels back the faceplate of his suit and the kid absolutely reeks of gasoline. Rhodey comes rushing over and his mask is off as well. He makes a face. “Is that him?”

“Fucking creep covered him in gasoline so he’d burn alive.” He says looking down at Peter blinking his eyes heavily. He softens his voice now, “You’re okay, Peter. You’re safe.” 

“Mmmm…think I need a shower, Mr. Stark,” he mumbles before his eyes flutter shut and he goes lax in Tony’s arms. He’s not unconscious; Tony can hear him softly whispering to himself how he definitely needs a shower and for his body to stop tickling. 

“Is he..drunk?”

“High. Off whatever drugs he’s got in his system, the smoke and the fucking gasoline he took a bath in.” 

“Didn’t take a bath yet, Mr. Stark.” 

Tony rolls his eyes and looks to Rhodey. “We’ve gotta get him to Bruce, I want to make sure everything is okay. And then I’m finding the asshole that did this and I”m gonna burn him alive.” 

“Burn?” Peter struggles in his arms and Tony curses himself. 

“No, Peter. You’re not gonna burn. Not you. I promise.” 

Peter sags in his arms once again and looks up at him with half drooped eyes. “Good. Don’t think I like fire anymore.” 

Tony sighs. Just another thing to add to the long list of things that trigger the kid’s PTSD. “I’ll protect you from it all, Pete.” 

“I know. You always do.” 

Chapter Text

“Pete, stay still so I can take your temperature,” Tony says, trying to bring the thermometer closer to him. 

Peter shakes his head and tries to bring the blankets up over his head. “Leave me alone. My head hurts.”

Tony rolls his eyes; the kid always got a little whiny when he was sick. He either wants to be left alone or he wants someone there every second to make the pain go away. There’s no in between. “It’s not that bad, I just have to swipe it across your forehead. You’re lucky you’re too old for the rectal thermometer.” 

Peter narrows his eyes, but it’s not very threatening. It makes Tony laugh. But he goes still long enough for Tony to swipe the thermometer across his forehead. It beeps and he reads off the temperature, “101.4. Yup, you’ve got a fever.”

“’m coooold,” he whines, tugging the blanket back over himself. 

“That’s because you have chills– Peter, do not cover your ears. I’m talking to you.” 

“’m sleepy. le’ me sleep!” He tries to kick Tony off of the couch as he turns to face the other way. 

“I’ll let you sleep after you drink water. You need to stay hydrated.” Tony rubs Peter’s back and Peter pushes into the touch. 

“Do I hafta?’

“Yes you hafta,” Tony replies, tucking a sweaty curl behind his ear. “You’re sweating all your fluids out. I don’t need you dying of dehydration.” 

Peter turns his head slowly and says, “Fiiine.” 

“Good– sit up, I don’t want you to choke.” He helps prop the pillow up underneath Peter so he’s not laying horizontally. “Here,” he says, holding out the glass. 

Peter reaches for it, but his hand is trembling so badly that Tony knows if he can even hold it, he’ll spill the entire glass on himself before it reaches his lips. 

“A:right, alright, buddy. I’ll help you out.” He brings the glass to Peter’s lips and lifts it slowly and carefully so Peter can take small sips. “There you go. Can’t return you to Aunt May dehydrated.” 

“Thanks,” Peter says after Tony pulls the glass away and sets it on the table. Tony helps him lay back down. “Can’ even lift up my hand. Let’s hope the alarm doesn’t ring.” 

Tony ignores the kid’s dopey smile. “No. Do not joke about that. The last thing we need is a mission. I cannot leave you alone. You’d suit up and join us.” 

Peter just smiles. 

Rolling his eyes, Tony says, “You get some rest, okay? I’m gonna settle some work for Stark Industries. If you need me, just tell FRIDAY and I’ll come running.”

Before Tony can stand up, Peter grabs his wrists. His grip is weak, but Tony doesn’t push it away. “Don’ go please.”

And here is the needy sick Peter. Tony raises an eyebrow. “Weren’t you telling me just five minutes ago to leave you alone?”

“I don’t know what I was saying. I’m crazy. Stay please,” he even tries to move over to give Tony some more room. 

“Okay, I’ll stay.” Tony shakes his head as he situates himself on the couch and Peter moves his head to rest in his lap. His hand doesn’t let go of his wrist. “I think sickness make you ten times more clingy than normal. If that’s even possible.”

“Don’t make fun of me. ‘m sick.” 

Tony rolls his eyes as he starts to run his fingers through Peter’s sweaty curls. “I’m not. Just stating facts.” Peter just hums contently, letting out a soft purr when Tony scratches his nails getnly against his scalp. Tony laughs that time. “Are you part cat?” 

But Peter doesn’t answer because he’s already asleep. Tony smiles and lets himself close his eyes as well and drift off…until he wakes up to his lap….burning?

He blinks open his eyes and looks down to see what the hell is on fire and he sees– Peter. Peter. His fever. Tony jolts awake and tries to shake Peter awake. It feels like his hand touches scalding metal. “Hey, Peter– Pete, c’mon. Wake up.” 

Peter groans and shifts, sticking his face into Tony’s thigh and even through the fabric, he can feel the heat burning off of Peter’s face. Tony reaches to the table and grabs the thermometer to scan across his forehead again. It reads 104.8. 

“Shit,” he curses as he hurries to get up. “FRIDAY, what the hell do I do?” 

“I would recommend trying to lower his body heat.” 

“No shit, Sherlock,” he snaps. “How?”

“A luke-warm bath should help.” 

“Start it now. Make sure the temperature isn’t too cold, I’m not putting him into shock.” Tony says, sliding out from underneath Peter. He kneels in front of him and scoops him up in his arms. 

Peter lets out a groan of discomfort. “Sleepin’,” he mumbles. 

“We gotta get you into a bath, bud,” Tony says, worry leaking into his voice. Temperatures this high are dangerous. The kid could have a seizure. 

“’m I dir’y?” 

“No, you’re too hot. We need to cool you down,” he hurries into the nearest bathroom where FRIDAY already has a bath started. He lowers Peter to the ground and tells him, “I’m just gonna take off your jeans.”

“‘kay,” Peter replies, kicking his feet to try and helps. 

Tony shakes his head and strips Peter until he’s in his boxers and t-shirt. He picks him up again and lowers him carefully into the bath. Peter’s eyes widen and he starts to panic slightly. Tony calms him down. “Shh, kiddo. You’re okay. Just gonna cool you off.” 

He takes a rag and dips it into the water before bringing it out and washing Peter’s face with it to cool down the parts of him not submerged. Peter frowns. “Can ‘ake my own baths.” 

“Peter, I’m literally holding you up with one hand.” 

“Cus ‘m supposed to be sleepin’.” 

Tony sighs as he continues to give him a sponge bath to help cool him off. A few times Peter dozes off, only to wake up again mumbling incoherently. Whenever he looks up at Tony, he smiles and relaxes again. 

It takes a while for his temperature to come down to a 103.2 and it isn’t perfect, but Peter starts to shiver and it’s good enough that Tony can try to bring down with his special ibuprofen for super metabolisms. 

He pulls him out of the tub and wraps him up in the fluffiest bathrobe he’s got and carries him to his bedroom just down the hall. He lays him in bed and pulls the blanket over him. He feels bad leaving the kid in wet clothes, but he isn’t about to change him. 

He leans close to Peter and brush some locks of curls off his forehead. “I’ll be right back, Petey. I’m just going to get your medicine.” He presses a kiss to his temple– to check his temperature of course. 

Peter grabs his hand before he can leave and smiles. “Thanks, Uncle Ben.” 

Tony freezes and then slowly pulls away. “You’re welcome, Pete.” 

He smiles up at him. Still so delirious from his fever. “Love you!” 

Tony feels his eyes burning. “I love you too, kiddie.” 

Chapter Text

Tony doesn’t expect the phone call when it comes in. There’s no question who is calling because that’s Peter’s ringtone blaring from his phone. He picks it up and presses it to his ear. “Hello, Underoos. Is there a reason you’re calling at 11:30?”

It’s a Friday night, so he’s not technically breaking curfew. But his suit is offline and he canceled their lab night together last week because today he was supposed to have super special plans with Ned.

“Can you come pick me up?” He asks, his voice low.

Peter is definitely not with Ned. Because Peter is crying. Ned would never make Peter cry.

The joking disappears from his voice as he’s already standing up and grabbing the closest set of keys. “Sure, buddy. Where are you?”

“Manhattan Bridge.”

Tony stops moving and the only thing he can hear is the thud each time his heart pounds against his chest. “The Manhattan Bridge? What are you doing there, Pete?”

“Yeah, the bridge. It’s really pretty at night.” His voice sounds calm and eerie.

Tony swallows the panic down as he hurries out of the tower to his car. “What happened to Ned and your Legos?”

Peter sniffles and ignores his question, “Are you coming? I don’t have money for Uber or anything and I don’t wanna do the walk in the rain.”

Thankfully, the rain clears the streets so Tony can drive quicker. “You’re out in the rain– can’t you walk off the bridge to an awning? Get some cover?” Get off the damn bridge, Peter

“I don’t want to.”

Tony swallows thickly. “Okay, bud. I’ll be right there then, okay? Only a few minutes out. Can you stay on the line with me while I get there? You’ll have to tell me when you see my car so I know when to stop.” I’m afraid if I hang up you won’t be there when I get there.

“Sure,” Peter says and then he goes quiet. He doesn’t speak again until Tony is pulling up on the bridge and drives to about the middle. “I’m here.”

Tony jumps out of the car, barely remembering to shut it off, and hurries over to the figure he can see standing by the edge. He slows down by Peter’s side so he doesn’t frighten him. “Hey, Pete.”

Peter doesn’t look away from the water he’s staring out at. The city looks beautiful in the night with all of the lights lit up. Cars honking, people laughing…all blissfully unaware of the boy standing by the ledge. “Hey, Mr. Stark.”

“You wanna get in the car? I can put the heated seats on like you like. Get out of the rain.” Tony feels chilly already and he’s only been out in the rain for a few moments.

“I want…” He pauses, wringing his hands together as he searches for the right thing to say. He settles on, “I want to talk.”

“Of course, kiddo.” Tony nods his head. “Do you want to talk about why you’re here?”

“She left me here.”

“Who’s she?”

“The girl that asked me out.”

Tony doesn’t know of any girl. Peter’s never mentioned one. “You were on a date tonight?”

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “Thought so, but it turns out it was just a big joke. She picked me up and said we were going to the park, but she wanted to stop here to take a picture of the skyline. I said I could take the picture so she could be in it. I got out and she didn’t– I assumed she was waiting for me to open her door.” He stops speaking to sniffle back an oncoming sob. “But she rolled down her window, laughed, and drove off.”

Tony shuts his eyes and wonders why kids were so fucking cruel. “She was just a bitch, Pete. You don’t–.”

“It was a joke,” Peter interrupts him, pulling out his phone. “They were all in on it.” He holds out his phone and hesitantly Tony takes it.

He feels sick when he reads the messages. It’s a group chat with a bunch of messages from random numbers, some have names and some don’t.

-u gonna cry baby?

-cant believe u fell for that loser..

-hahaha penis!!! U thought she could ever like u??!!!

He stops scrolling on the last one that makes him sick to his stomach.

-jump parker do a flip!!

“Peter…these asshole are nothing more than that. They’re just cruel bullies that are jealous of you.” Tony’s giving him the bully talk before, but that was when he was showing up with bruises. Not when he was crying on bridges.

“Do you think they’ll let me join their club?”

“What?”

“The ‘I Hate Peter Parker Club’,” he says, sounding so serious. “Obviously, they all get together and talk about how much they can’t stand me and different ways to make my life a living hell. I think if they’re accepting new members, I’d be president.”

“Don’t say that. Please don’t say that.”

“Why?” Peter narrows his eyes angrily. “It’s true.”

“Because they mean nothing. I know their words and actions hurt. You’re embarrassed. But…they’re doing it to make you feel bad. They have nothing better to do with their time than hurt people. Think about how sad of a life that is.”

Peter blinks and doesn’t say a word. Maybe he’s pondering Tony’s question. Maybe he’s just thinking.

“I know it hurts,” Tony says again. “But, you’re strong enough. They knock you down 7 times, you get up 8. I know you can.”

Tony studies him carefully and knows he’s about to break when his bottom lip starts to waver. “I just…I just don’t understand why they can’t leave me alone. If they don’t like me, just leave me alone.”

“I’m sorry, kid. I wish I could stop it all. But these– whoever the hell sent you these messages are getting a heap of trouble.” Especially the one that told you to…kill yourself. As a joke. As if it was anything to joke about.

Peter rubs his eyes, a mixture of tears and rain probably building up. “I’m sorry– I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have just left– I just…I was so upset when she left. I was so embarrassed. And then I got those messages and the one telling me…and it just, I dunno, disappeared. I felt numb. Like I just didn’t care.”

Tony stands in front of Peter, leaning down to meet his eyes. He grabs his arms so Peter can feel him holding him. So he can feel a little less numb. “I’m proud of you for calling me, okay? It’s not your fault for feeling that what and calling me was a good idea.”

The tears are steadily streaming down Peter’s face by now. “I wasn’t going to– I mean, when I was upset and it was loud, it told me to, but I didn’t. I don’t want to jump,” his voice cracks at the end.

Tony immediately pulls the kid in. “Shh, it’s okay. I know, kiddo. It’s okay.”

“It’s not okay,” Peter cries into his shoulder. “Nothing feels okay.”

Tony squeezed his eyes shut, wishing he could do more to help him. “I know how it feels, but I promise you, Peter. Keep on fighting and the will get better. You’re going to be okay and until then, I’ll be right by your side. Every step of the way. You’re not alone. You’ll never be alone.”

Chapter Text

“Where’d you get those?” Tony asks as he sees the dark purple bruises encircling Peter’s wrists. Peter pulls his arm back from where he was reaching. It’s too late for him to try to hide it. 

“Nowhere.” 

Tony quirks an eyebrow. This isn’t the first time he’s noticed bruises scattered across his body– not the big obvious ones from patrol, but the small ones that Peter always tries to hide but isn’t 100% successful. “Don’t lie to me, Parker.”

“Spid–.” 

“You didn’t patrol last night and you just got out of school a few hours ago.” He pauses and narrows his eyes. “You were late today because you said you had to pick something up from your place– did you really stop at your apartment or did you just say that? Because I swear if the football team gave you a hard time again–.” 

“I went to my apartment. I had to get something,” Peter says, quickly. But he doesn’t deny the part about the bullies.

“Doesn’t answer my question. Who’s bothering you?” Tony puts down the StarkPad they were studying and turns to look at Peter. This is serious. “The kids at school are still bothering you?”

Peter hesitates before his shoulders sag and he sighs. “Yeah, it was just a kid at school. But, it’s nothing I can’t handle.”

Tony runs a hand through his hair. This kid is going to be the death of him. He’s sure of it. “Why didn’t you tell me, Pete? I told you that you didn’t have to keep all that shit in. I can do something– May can do something.”

“No!” Peter says quickly. “Don’t call the school and don’t call May. I’ll be fine. I promise.” 

Tony narrows his eyes and he wants to tell Peter that he can’t just turn the other cheek when he’s being hurt, but he gives in when Peter pulls out the puppy eyes. “Fine. But if it gets more serious, I’m getting involved.”

“Deal,” Peter says. 

And they leave it at that for a while.

Tony stops seeing his kid colored with black and blue bruises and he thinks it’s okay.

Until one Saturday when it’s almost 3 and Peter still hasn’t gotten to the tower. He usually showed up on weekends at 10, latest noon. But he hasn’t made an appearance today and he never told Tony he wasn’t going to be able to make it. Tony called him and it went straight to voicemail.

So, he calls May. She picks up the phone and sounds like she’s in a rush. “Tony? Is everything okay?”

“Yeah– I was just wondering if you knew what your nephew was up to right now.” He tries to play it cool even if he’s getting a little worried. There’s no reason to have May panicking. 

“He didn’t tell you? I think him and Chris were doing something today.” 

“Chris?” Peter’s never mentioned a Chris. 

“Yeah. My boyfriend…Did Peter not tell you? He told me he mentioned it.” 

“Uh, yeah, he didn’t.” The pit in Tony’s stomach gets deeper. “That explains why he hasn’t come over. Alright, I’ll let you get back to work. Sorry for bothering you, May.” 

Tony hangs up and he thinks about how different Peter’s been acting lately. Did it all have to do with the boyfriend? May replacing Ben, in Peter’ eyes…Tony isn’t sure. But he knows something isn’t right.

He’s at the Parkers’ apartment in less than 20 minutes, knocking on the door. He has a key that May printed up for his a few months ago, but there’s no reason to let himself in yet. He waits. He knocks again. He hears some shuffling inside and then the door is being opened, revealing a man just an inch or so taller than him with green eyes and jet black hair.

Something is wrong.

“Can I help you?” He asks, barely opening the door. 

“Where’s Peter?”

The man frowns. “I’m sorry– and who are you?”

“I think you know who I am. Where is Peter?” Tony suares his shoulders, mustering up the worst glare he can. The man falters only for a second. 

“He’s not in right now. I think he’s out with one of his friends. You’ll have to come back later.” 

Lies. Peter has one friend and Ned’s in Connecticut this weekend visiting a family friend. Tony remembers Peter telling him. He pushes the man aside and walks inside the apartment. “Peter! He calls, walking through the living room past a wrinkled rug. There’s an overturned chair in the kitchen.

“Hey! You can’t just barge into my apartment–.”

“This is not your apartment,” Tony snarls as he whirls around to face him. He points a finger in his face. “And if there’s even one curl harmed, you’ll be sorry.” He doesn’t wait for the man to start yelling before he’s charging down the hallway into Peter’s room. 

“I’ll call the fucking cops on you!” Chris yells, following close behind him. 

Tony ignores him and shoves open Peter’s bedroom door. The room is empty. Tony looks around his room wildly. No. He has to be here– he doesn’t need the kid’s spider powers to sense something is wrong. Peter has to be here– he’s not with Ned, he’s not with him, he’s not with May, he’s not in his suit.

“I told you, asshole. He’s not here.” He pauses. “No you better leave, because if you don’t listen to me, you’ll regret it.” His words sound threatening. But not to him. 

“I know–.” A loud crash cuts him off. Chris’ eyes widened and then in a moment, Tony is rushing towards the closet. He opens the door, pushes some clothes out of the way and he finds Peter. 

He’s sitting on the floor, a piece of duct tape over his mouth and his hands behind his back. His leg is outstretched where he must have kicked something over. But what really upsets Tony is the swollen eye, split lip and the blood trailing from his hairline.

“You son of a bitch!” Tony roars and rounds to send a punch into Chris’ face. The man isn’t expecting the attack so suddenly, so he falls to the ground and Tony sits on top of him. He grabs the collar of his shirt and shakes him. “You think it’s funny to pick on kids? Did you think I wasn’t going to find out that you were hurting my kid?

“You’re fucknig crazy– get off of me. You have no fucking proof.” Chris turns his head to spit out a wad of blood on Peter’s floor. 

“No proof? You’re trying to tell me that the kid did that to himself?” Tony asks. 

“Brat likes attention. Wouldn’t surprise me.” 

He’s unconscious with the next punch.

Tony rushes off of him and turns around to see Peter already struggling out of the duct tape on his wrists. “This may hurt a little,” Tony says as he lifts his hand to rip the tape off his mouth. He tries to ignore the flinch.

Peter grunts when it’s off and spits out a sock that was stuffed in his mouth. “Thank you, Mr. Stark. Thank you– I was so scared. He said he would hurt May if I said anything. I thought I could put up with it.”

Tony rubs his arm softly. “Hey, no need to apologize, kiddie. This isn’t your fault. I’m sorry I didn’t realize it sooner. He’s…he’s been beating you? Not any school bullies…”

Peter shakes his head. “No bullies. I just…I was trapped by him.”

Tony cups Peter’s face softly and the kid leans into the touch. He moves his hand to hold the back of his head, threading his fingers through his curls and pulls him forward. Peter wraps his arms around Tony immediately. “It’s gonna be okay, buddy. I’ve got you now.” And forevermore.

Chapter Text

It starts with the room. 

Tony wakes up and he’s chained to the wall. Peter’s next to him. There’s no speaking. There’s no demanding for money or weapons or information. 

They come in wearing masks and they don’t say a word as they start unchaining Peter. Tony does. “Hey, leave him alone, assholes! Stop it– let him go. Take me. He’s just a kid!” 

Peter struggles against them, but they must be enhanced or something because they’re able to hold him back. It takes three of them to get his face pressed into the cement floor as he snides, “At least take me out to dinner before holding me do–.” 

They slam his head against the cement. He’s already bleeding. 

“Jesus– stop hurting him.” Tony tugs as hard as he can, until he can feel the metal biting into his skin. He doesn’t budge. He can only watch as they drag Peter away, telling Tony not to worry– he’ll be okay.

It’s hours later when they bring him back. Besides for the bruised cut on his forehead, he isn’t hurt. They chain him back up and leave. Tony notices how he shivers slightly. “They just stuck me in front of an AC the whole time. I’m fine. Just a little cold.” 

This continues every day. Peter says it doesn’t bother him, but Tony can see the exposure to the cold is taking it’s toll on him. The fourth day he’s brought back, he can’t stand up himself. His lips are blue and he’s shivering violently. They chain him up to the wall. Still without saying a word.

Tony pulls the kid closer, trying to get him warmer. “Hey, buddy, it’s okay. You’re back with me. We’re gonna warm you up.” 

Peter nods his head, clinging to Tony and his warmth. “T-they s-still haven’t s-said anything.” 

“Okay, it’s okay. We’re going to figure it out. Don’t worry, kiddo. We’ll be out of here soon.” He rubs Peter’s arms to try and generate any type of heat. They have to be rescued soon– Tony isn’t sure how much longer Peter can take it. 

Words from the other night haunt him, “I get cold easy– it’s like they know. I can’t…my body isn’t good at thermoregulating.” 

On the eighth day, they bring him back in his underwear. They’re dragging him behind them by his arms. He doesn’t struggle at all. They throw him at Tony and he lands in his lap. Tony can feel the cold through his clothes. He wonders how cold that room must be to stick him in there for hours and come out like this. 

They don’t bother chaining him back up before they leave. Peter can’t escape any way. 

Tony pulls him closer and Peter can’t speak through the chattering of his teeth. He sticks his face in Tony’s neck and lets out a shaky sob, his fingers digging into his arms. Tony wishes he could pull his shirt off to wrap around Peter. This cell is warm but only warm enough to keep Peter from dying of hypothermia. It used to warm up during the night so Peter had the chance to get the chill out of his body before the next day of freezing. 

But as Tony pulls the kid close, trying to warm him up, he continues to shiver through the night. He doesn’t say a word. 

They come back the next morning and Peter’s still shivering as they rip him out of Tony’s arms. He begs. “Please! I’ll do anything– what do you want? I can’t help you if I don’t know.”

They don’t say a word. Neither does Peter as he’s dragged away. 

Hours pass. 

Peter’s thrown into his arms again. He’s freezing. He’s blue. He’s almost asleep. He’s not shivering. 

Tony threads his fingers through his curls. “Petey, wake up. You gotta stay up.” 

Peter blinks. He doesn’t say a word. 

Cupping his face gently, Tony rubs his cheek softly with his thumb. Peter blinks slowly and leans into his touch, letting out a small whimper. Tony swallows down the lump in his throat. “Hang in there, buddy.” 

The next day is the same. Tony screams and yells and pleads. The captors don’t say a word. Peter’s just as silent. 

He’s brought back hours later again. He’s asleep. He’s thrown to the ground in front of Tony. Tony pulls him closer and cries, his sobs echoing off the four dirty walls.

Peter doesn’t say a word.

It ends with the room. 

Chapter Text

 

 

“I was expecting more from you, Stark,” one of the Hydra goons grins down at him. 

Tony looks past him where Peter– Spider-Man is struggling against the cuffs attaching his wrists and ankles to the chair. Tony can’t see his face behind the mask, but he knows he’s afraid. His feet are in a small basin of water. 

“Tell us. Does this suit of his protect your Spider from things like electricity?” The man jerks his head behind him and three other Hydra agents come in, pushing a cart with wires coming out. 

“What do you want– leave him alone.” Tony pulls against his own restraints. 

“We just want to play a little game. Aren’t you interested in the results?” He moves aside so Tony has an unblocked view of Peter. “We’ll start easy. Boys, level one.”

Tony can do nothing but watch as they throw a wire in the water and Peter goes still, flinching slightly, but he doesn’t make a sound of pain. 

“Don’t worry. It’s only a little tingling shock. 3 mAs. Nothing.” He nods his head. “Why don’t we see how level two treats him?”

Immediately after the dial is changed, Peter tenses up and lets out a strangled yelp. Tony shouts for them to stop, but they only laugh. “Stop it, assholes. It isn’t funny.” 

“We’re only at 6 mAs. His muscles are contracting, but–” He turns around and nods his head. “Bump it up to 10. The ‘let-go threshold’.”

Peter lets out a short cry before he goes silent, his body rigid. They keep it in for only a few seconds before they shut off the voltage and Peter immediately goes slack. His chest falls and rises unevenly. 

“If we keep going, maybe it’ll start messing with his body– respiratory paralysation. Possible ventricular fibrillation. Doesn’t that sound fun?”

“Please– please stop.” 

“Tony Stark begging. I like it.” The man tilts his head before shrugging his shoulders. “Too bad it doesn’t work. We’ve got a game to play.” He turns around and swiftly rips the mask off of Peter’s head, throwing it to the ground, 

Tony wants the mask back on not only because now these assholes know who he is, but because now Tony can see Peter’s face. He can see the tear tracks on his cheeks. He can see his hair much fluffier than usual– for once, he wishes the curls were matted to his head. 

“Start it up again, boys.” 

“No, please–!” 

Tony is cut off as Peter lifts himself off his seat, letting out a loud scream before his muscles contract regraining him from moving. He’s still in pain though. Tony can see the pain etched on his face. He’s not the one being electrocuted, but he feels the pain. 

He feels like he’s back in that cave with a car battery attached to a hole in his chest. They’re holding him underwater and the shocks– he’s being shocked. And it hurts. It feel like he’s meting form the inside. He just wants peace.  

They turn the dial off again and Peter lets out a sob he can’t hold back anymore, his chin following forward until it hits his chest. The men around them are laughing. They turn the dial back up again before Peter has a chance to catch his breath. He doesn’t even get a chance to scream before he’s paralysed temporarily. 

It’s quiet. But it’s not peace. 

Peace doesn’t come until hours later, after they’ve finished their games. They’re out of the chairs in a small cell with one cot. Tony’s got Peter in his arms and Peter’s hair is still too fluffly, his muscles still spasm every so often. but his heart beats steady, the pulse under Tony’s finger tips a reminder that Peter’s alive. 

He presses a kiss to his curls and ignores the tear trailing down his cheek. 

This is peace. 

Chapter Text

“So,” Peter asks, leaning against the doorway of the kitchen, “does it get the Tony Stark seal of approval?”

Tony keeps his hands in his pocket, surveying the kitchen. “Your shower doesn’t have warm water. I think there’s a rat in your hall closet. The light in your bedroom doesn’t work.”

“All fixable things. I can talk to my landlord,” Peter says quickly.

“You know my offer still stands, right, kiddo?” Tony says like Peter is still the 15-year-old kid he recruited years ago. But he’s not. He’s almost 24. He’s an adult, buying his own apartment for the first time. “Your room in the Tower– I can split my floor with you. I wouldn’t mind the company.”

“You’ve got Pepper and your own actual child to worry about.”

Tony looks up and pauses before answering, “You’re my child too. Aurora, she’s my baby girl, but you’re still my kid.”

Peter feels his cheeks heat up. He’s always seen Tony as a father figure of sorts. He never expected the feeling to be mutual, even though it’s obvious. He’s part of the Stark family by now. “I know. I know I’ve got somewhere to go in case this doesn’t work out, but this is something I’ve gotta do.”

Tony nods his head. “Yes. I suppose it is. Can’t have you living with your parents forever– though, I really wouldn’t mind keeping you around.” He smirks. “I could always use a babysitter.”

Peter laughs. “I’ll still be around. And I’m closer now than I was at MIT. You’ll be seeing a lot of me.”

Tony sniffs. “Good. Aurora would start to miss you. Though I’m not sure why. You’re tolerable at best.”

“Love you too.”

Tony waves his hand. “Yeah. All that mushy stuff. I’m just here to make sure you’re sleeping somewhere habital. Just to ease Aunt May’s nerves.”

Peter raises his eyebrows, crossing his arms over his chest. “She stopped by this afternoon.”

Tony looks surprised he was caught in a lie, but recovers easily. “Doesn’t hurt to have a second opinion.”

“So, does it pass then?” Peter asks, holding his breath.

Tony looks around once more before saying, “Yeah, kid. As far as first apartments in Queens, I think you picked a good one.” He walks closer to Peter and claps him on the shoulder. “I’m proud of you, Pete.”

Peter doesn’t know why his eyes start to burn and he feels a lump grow in his throat. Maybe because it’s one of those things his dad or Uncle Ben were supposed to be there for. But just like the night of his 21st birthday, Tony is here to make sure he’s got someone. Except, instead of handing him his first beer, he’s checking over his apartment. “Thank you.”

Tony squeezes his shoulder with a small smile. “You’re welcome, squirt.” He sniffs again and turns his head. “Well, I better get going so you can get some sleep.”

He knows Tony doesn’t like showing tears. The only time he cried without hiding the tears was the morning Aurora was born. But this is taking a toll on Tony tonight and he doesn’t want Peter to notice. Peter nods, suddenly wishing he chose to move into the tower where it wouldn’t be so lonely. “Yeah, guess so.”

“I’ll see you tomorrow, Pete,” he says before walking out and towards his front door. Peter hears his footsteps get further away and then his door opens and shuts.

Now he’s actually alone and nothing feels right. He realizes that this is the first time he’s spending the night alone. Even in college, he always had a roommate. But now it’s just him in this big empty apartment.

He’s faced horrifying things throughout his years of being Spider-Man, but nothing scares him as much as the thought of going into his room and sleeping here alone.

Before he realizes it, his feet are taking him to his door and he’s hurrying to pull it open. He’s ready to run down the stairs and chase after Tony, but he’s there outside the door. He jumps slightly, not expecting Peter. “Oh, Pete, I was just–.”

“Stay,” Peter says because he knows Tony won’t say it with his emotional constipation. “Please stay the night. I don’t…it’s scary being in there for the first time alone…with no one else there.”

Tony smiles at him, his shoulders relaxing. “You want me to spend the night?”

“My couch isn’t bad– I can’t sleep there. Or my bed, it’s a queen. We could both fit or you could take it. I don’t mind– just to make sure, you know…” Peter trails off, realizing how stupid he sounds. He sounds like a baby.

But the hand is back on his shoulder and Tony’s chuckling softly. “C'mon, buddy. Let’s go check under your bed for monsters. I’ll call Pep and let her know we’re having a first night sleepover.”

Tony ruffles his hair as they walk back inside and Peter laughs. “You better check my closet too. Uncle Ben used to scare ‘em all away.”

“Oh, yeah? Well, I better get my scary face on. Though, it’s gonna be impossible to fill his shoes.”

Peter considers his words and he knows he’s talking about more than the monsters in his closet. “You don’t have to. I never expected you to. I know you never try to.”

“I don’t deserve to even be compared–.”

“He would have liked you. I think he’d be happy to know you’re looking out for me.” He tilts his head as he thinks. “May always tells me I have a big heart…I think it’s just because I’ve got to make room for so many dads.”

Tony freezes and looks at Peter with wide eyes. “Peter…”

“Yeah, yeah. Mushy stuff. Don’t worry, I won’t tell Happy you cried. Now, go scare away my monsters.”

“You know I always will.”

Chapter Text

Tony watches as another bag of ice is dumped into the tub of water in front of them. He already knows where this is headed. He’s been through this before. Afghanistan. He knows he can get through it again– if Peter wasn’t by his side.

They’re both on their knees in the basement of a warehouse. They’re not Iron Man and Spider-Man– just Tony Stark and Peter Parker. But that’s all these men need. Because Tony definitely isn’t being as difficult as he usually is when kidnapped alone. He can’t risk Peter.

“We’re not asking much. I think we’re actually being quite fair, don’t you think?” The man running this show pulls up a chair and sits on it backwards, resting his chin on the top of the backrest.

“You want my schematics to the arc reactor and something tells me you aren’t looking to use the tech for clean energy like Stark Industries.”

“You act like you have a choice in the matter.” The man tilts his head as another bag of ice is dumped into the water behind him.

“I don’t even get a deal?” Tony quips. “Usually I’m offered a deal at least. That may help sway my decision making skills right now.”

The man studies Tony for a moment before pulling a handgun out of his waistband. “I’ll make you a deal.” He clicks off the safety and says, “You tell me what I need to know, I will put a bullet in his brain.” He shoots off his chair, shoving the gun against Peter’s forehead. “You don’t– you jerk me around and you will be begging me to before this night up.”

Before Tony can respond, Peter does, “Oh, we’re definitely gonna jerk you around.”

The man looks surprised to hear Peter speak, but then he laughs. “The kid’s got some balls, huh, Stark?” He shrugs his shoulders. “Looks like we’re doing this the hard way then. Someone chain him up, we’re going for option B.”

“Chain him up?” Tony says, tugging on the restraints keeping his arms behind his back. He stops when the gun it pressed harder against Peter’s skull. “Why are you chaining him up? What are you going to do?”

“You’ll see. Now, if I were you, I’d behave.” He twists the gun by Peter’s template and Peter flinches.

Tony’s so focused on Peter and making sure he’s okay, the sudden cold around his neck takes him by surprise. He hears the snap and the rattle of the chain he realizes is now strapped around his neck, not Peter’s.

The chain is tugged and he is dragged back slightly until he falls on his ass. He hears laughter as he pushes himself back up. He looks at Peter and sees him staring down at him with worry. Worry for Tony, not for the gun pressed against his head.

“I’m okay,” Tony reassures him and he tries to get back on his knees, but the chain is tugged again and he falls to the ground.

“Stay down, dog,” the man sneers. Tony looks up just in time to see him grab Peter by his curls and whisper harshly in his ear. “You see that? You see him on his hands and knees? It’s where he belongs. You look up to him? He’s a joke. It’s where you belong too. And I’d love to put you in your own collar, but we’ve got other plans for you.”

They start dragging him towards the tub of ice water. He doesn’t struggle with the gun still against his temple. Tony does though. “Hey, assholes, let him go! Stop it!”

“Mr. Stark,” Peter called, his voice sounding panicked.

“Don’t worry, Pete. It’s okay.”

Except it’s not okay. Because they’re holding Tony back by a chain around his neck and they’ve got Peter kneeling in front of the tub.

He nods his head and the anxiety is still there, Tony knows him well enough to know this, but he rolls his shoulders back and hides the fear. “We’re not scared of you, assholes.”

“Ooh, learning bad words from Daddy?” The man jerks so hard on his chain, he chokes slightly.

Peter shouts, “Leave him alo–!”

That’s when the dunking starts. They grab Peter by his curls and shove him under the water. Peter struggles, but they don’t let him up.

“He can’t breathe!” Tony shouts, pulling as hard as he can to get to Peter. He stumbles forward slighty and feels the slack of the chain he gained tighten again.

They pull him up and Peter gasps loudly, taking advantage of the oxygen. He wastes his precious time to breathe by being a smartass. “Listen, dickbag, I’ve been bullied all my life. Hell, they used to do this to me every day after school in the girls’ bathroom–.”

They shove him back under before he can take a breath.

“You’re dead,” Tony promises as he watches two goons hold Peter under the water. He almost makes it back up, but they slam him right back in.

The man leans down to whisper in Tony’s ear, “You know, they always start with bravado. The begging comes later.” He points to where they’re still holding Peter underneath the water. He needs air. He needs to breathe. “That’s ice cold water. It’ll burn like hell when it hits his lungs, but he won’t lose consciousness right away.”

“He’s just a kid– let him up,” Tony starts begging for Peter.

The man shouts but doesn’t move away, so it’s loud in his ear. “This all ends when you tell me what I want to know!”

Tony doesn’t say a word. He only glares and struggles fruitlessly against the restraint around his neck. His eyes watch as Peter struggles furiously, but he stays under, his movements getting slower and slower.

Peter stops moving for a second and Tony panics. “Okay! Okay!”

They pull Peter out and he immediately coughs, water spraying from his mouth. He’s shivering in the cold air and the curls matted to his forehead do nothing to block the blood dripping down his face. “Don’t– don’t tell them anything!”

“I can’t watch this anymore, kiddo. I can’t.”

“I’ll tell you everything. What do you want?” He asks, his wide eyes unable to look away from Peter.

“I want to know it all. Tell me everything.”

“No,” Peter argues, his voice weak. “Don’t say anything.”

“Shh, Pete.” He turns back to the men, his voice hard as stone. “I’ll tell you everything you need to know. Right after you kiss my ass.”

It catches everyone by surprise. Had they thought Tony was going to tell them? No, he only wanted to stall long enough for Peter to get actual oxygen.

Peter breaks the silence with a weak laugh.

No one else is impressed.

“Shoot out one of his kneecaps,” the man says, as if he’s bored.

“No!” Tony roars, fear taking over. He struggles with all his might as he watches Peter get thrown to the floor, too weak to even pick himself back up.

One of them pulls out his gun and there’s no hesitation. There’s not a moment to try and stall again or beg for them to stop. The safety is released and the gun fires. Peter screams.

“Peter!” Tony screams, desperately trying to get to his kid.

The man laughs. “Let go of the dog’s chain. We’ll be back with a pen and paper. If he’s smart, he’ll write down everything we need to know. If he’s not…well, the kids got another kneecap.”

The moment they let go of the chain around his neck, he crawls over to Peter’s side and picks him up into his lap. He waits until they’re up the stairs before he starts to speak. “I’m sorry, Peter. I’m so sorry.”

Peter’s shivering and he’s soaked. He lofts a shaky hand to his knee as he cries softly. “It hurts, Mr. Stark. It h-hurts.”

Tony pulls him closer. “I’m sorry, Peter. I’m so sorry…”

Chapter Text

Tony looks up from his phone the moment it turns 3:15. He’s smiling, watching as kids rush past each other to get to their freedom. Today is Thursday, which means Happy is picking up Peter today to take him back to the lab. Tony decided to tag along for he ride and surprise the kid. Maybe all three of them could get lunch together.

“Him and his buddy usually– there they are,” Happy says, pointing to where Peter is walking down the front steps to the school.

He’s saying something to his friend, looking excited about whatever they’re talking about. But the smile is wiped off his face a moment later. Peter freezes and his friend does so too, whispering to him as Peter grips his wrists tightly.

Happy is already off the car along with Tony as they hurry forward. They both know that’s his spidey sense telling him something is wrong.

They’re a few feet away when the shit hits the fan. A man jumps from who knows where and tackles Peter to the ground. Tony winces as Peter’s face is dragged across he cement and he lets out a yelp.

Chaos erupts around them when all the kids try to run away from the danger. All except for Peter’s friend, who rushes forward yelling for him to get off of Peter.

But the man keeping Peter’s face into the ground has friends. And they all have guns.

The man gets off of Peter and hauls him up with the help of another goon. They’re weak and Peter can snap them in half easily– except that would give away his identity in front of everyone.

They hold on tightly around his biceps as he strugges– not enough to get free, just enough to put on a show.

Despite the gun being held in his direction, Peter’s friend shouts, “You’re gonna be sorry, assholes!”

The man holding the gun to him reverses back to Peter and grabs his cheeks with his hand. He squeezes his face hard enough for his mouth to open up and the nozzle of the gun is shoved between his lips. “Get out of here or I pull the fucking trigger!”

A teacher comes and grabs his friends hand, dragging him away as he screams for Peter, tears running down his cheeks.

Tony takes a cautious step forward. He needs to get control of this situation. This isn’t somewhere private– this is in front of a fucking high school. Hell, the kid’s teachers and peers were watching him being held hostage with a fucking gun stuck in his mouth.

Peter’s scared and it’s not part of the show– Tony knows he’s scared.

“Hey, I think we can settle this calmy. No need to hurt the kid.” He raises his hands, showing he means no harm. “It’s about me, right? You want something from me?”

“Tony Stark!” The man with the gun inside Peter’s mouth shouts. Tony notices he’s shaking. “You’re here.”

“Yup, I am, pal. I’m here so no need to go anywhere secret and make ransom calls.” They want Peter, not Spider-Man, so it has to be about Tony Stark.

“I need your money,” he says and he sounds desperate. “I need two hundred thousand.”

Tony nods his head. “We can talk about all of this fun stuff, but you’ve got a gun in a child’s mouth on school property. The police are probably already on their way and it won’t end nicely if you don’t let him go.”

“My daughter is sick– I can’t afford the treatment. I need your money.”

“And I need your gun out of my kid’s mouth. Can we do that? Please. You’re a dad, you don’t want to hurt or scare a child.” Tony starts to hear the blaring of the police sirens approaching. He needs to wrap this up soon or else it would be too late.

The man at least listens and pulls the gun from Peter’s mouth. He presses it to his temple. “I will do anything for her. Anything.”

Tony knows he’s not lying. Tony doesn’t blame him for feeling that way. “I know. And I would do anything for him, so believe me that I’d be happy to cover all expenses of your daughter’s treatments. Just let the kid go.”

The man hesitates before lowering the weapon. “O-okay. Thank you. Thank you.”

Tony’s sigh of relief is cut off when one of the men holding Peter’s arm pulls him again his chest. His forearm locks around Peter’s neck, cutting off easy breathing and even lifts him off the ground an inch. The other hand grabs a handful of Peter’s curls and lifts his hand up. Peter kicks his feet, pressing them against the man’s shins to relieve some pressure from his neck.

Tony narrows his eyes. “What the fuck are you doing?”

“10 million. We want 10 mil,” he barks. He looks to the man that was holding Peter’s arm earlier and says something too low for Tony to hear.

The man with the sick daughter shakes his head. “Randy, what are you doing? We don’t need–.”

“Paul, don’t be a dumbass. You see how much this kid means to Stark. He’ll give us whatever. Might as well get a little greedy.” He smirks over at him.

“No! This was for Clara, nothing else. Don’t ruin this!”

The other man snorts. “We’re getting her help. We’re getting her help and whatever else she wants.”

The police pull up behind them, sirens loud and they start yelling for the guns to be dropped. They yell for Tony to get back (he hadn’t realized the area had been cleared from all the students and teachers).

“We lost! We’re fucked!” The only sane one yells, gesturing to the police. “We were supposed to grab him and run!”

“Did you expect Stark?” The other snaps back. “We’ll just use him as our get of jail free card.” He lets go of his hold on Peter’s neck and the kid crumples. Tony rushes forward, but they haul him back up on his feet under the arms. They’re using him as protection.

“Get us out of here and he doesn’t die, Stark!” He grabs Peter by hi hard again and lifts up his head to look at Tony. His eyes are wide and one side of his face is bloody and scrapped from where he was dragged again the cement. “Look at his cute face. Want this to be the last time you see him alive?”

“Stop!” The man with the daughter shouts, sounding panicked. “We didn’t agree to this.”

“We’ve got one shot at Tony Stark! Do you think we’re going to pass this up?” The man shakes Peter so hard, blood from his face flies off and hits the pavement by his feet.

“Let him go! We can’t do it like this!” He shouts, stomping forward. He grabs Peter by the arm tugging him towards him.

He tugs him back harder, jerking Peter the opposite direction. “Get out of here if you don’t want to do this!”

They’re so busy arguing they don’t notice Peter send his foot into the shin of the asshole holding him. He rips his arm from the man that was trying to help him– after kidnapping him– and runs for Tony.

Tony tackles him and wraps him in a protective hug making sure that Tony takes the brunt of the fall. Then the police storm past taking all three of them into custody. There’s shouting, yelling, and clapping, but Tony hears none of it.

He holds Peter close to his chest and feels the kid’s fingers digging into his back. He’s afraid to let his grip slacken even a bit.

“Tony, are you two okay? It’s me.” There’s a hand on his shoulder– Happy’s hand.

Tony pulls back, looking at his friend and sees the worry he’s obviously feeling. He looks back down at Peter and pulls the kid back, hi eyes looking over him wildly. He wipes the blood off his face as best as he can.

“I’ll get something to clean that,” Happy says quickly once he sees Peter is okay.

Once they’re alone, before they’re run up to again no doubt, Tony inspects his arms and can already see the bruises forming. He feels sick at thought of them holding him like they were– like he’s just a doll to argue over and hurt.

“Are you okay? Pete, you okay?” He asks again before Peter has time to answer him the first time.

He nods his head, his hand holding Tony’s sleeve. “Besides for wounded pride, I’m fine.”

Tony gives him another hug, thankful that he’s okay. “We can deal with that.”

Peter chuckles but Tony can hear the nerve in his voice. “You’re not the one going to school with kids and teachers that watched all that– and I’m still being hugged by Tony Stark on the grass.”

“Oh, shush, up love my hugs.” Tony ruffles his hir softly. “But yeah, let’s get up before they drag us to a hospital. We’ll have Bruce look your face over.”

“Thank you,” Peter says. He pauses and waits until they’re standing before he asks, “And, uh, Mr. Stark…I know he went about it wrong, but can you please cover that little girl’s medical bills– I know you have no reason to, but it would mean the world to me if you made sure she was okay…”

Tony pulls him against his side and doesn’t need to think twice. “For you? Anything.”

Chapter Text

Tony is coming back with a hot bowl of soup just in time to see Peter trying to sneak out of his bed. Tony hurries fast enough to get there in time without spilling any broth over himself. “Hey, little shit,” he says, playing the bowl on the bedside table, “you’re not going anywhere.” 

Peter groans, laying back down and wincing as he does so. “I’m so bored. I’ve been laying here for hours. I’m fine!”

“Helen said you needed to let your stitches heal at least 24 hours.” Tony pulls the blanket back up around his shoulders. “If you pull those out then she needs to restitch. We both know you don’t want that.”

Peter groans dramatically, flopping his head backwards. “I hate just laying here.”

“Sorry, Sleeping Beauty. But you need to. Why don’t you take a nap or watch TV?” Tony suggests, handing him the remote. Peter takes it but doesn’t turn on the TV. 

“I don’t want to. I want to do something. I’m so tired of laying down.” Peter pouts, glaring up at the ceiling. 

Tony knows he’s got hours worth of work to do in his lab, but he sighs and says, “Scoot over.”

“What?”

“Scoot over,” he repeats as he climbs into bed next to him. “I’ll keep you company.”

“Really?” Peter asks, sounding hopeful. 

“‘Course.” He settles himself under the blankets and Peter immediately snuggles up against his side. 

Tony smiles, running his fingers through his hair. “I think you just wanted to be cuddled.” 

Peter’s cheeks burn red, but he doesn’t move from his hold. 

Tony presses a kiss to the top of his head. “It’s alright, kiddo. I like cuddling you too. All you gotta do is ask.”

“You’re gonna be sorry you said that soon.”

“Sick of holding you? Never.”

Chapter Text

Peter had made it almost 17 years without knowing what the smell of burning flesh smelt like.

God, he missed the days when he didn’t know what it was like to feel his skin being seared off, filling his nostrils with that horrid smell that churned his stomach dangerously.

Hell, he missed the days when he woke up in his own bed to the sound of May getting ready for work in her room.

That was a distant memory now.

Well, it was probably only a few days since he’d been taken, but it felt like years.

But it was hard to keep track of time when you’re being tortured…which brings Peter’s mind back to now. Now, when he was currently being branded by the psychopath that was keeping him locked up in this small cell.

He was branding a word across his chest, that’s all Peter knew. And he was strapped down to a metal slab to keep his struggling to a minimum. And with Peter’s luck, it was reinforced with extra strong bonds. Because of course, they knew he was Spider-Man.

He had a towel shoved between his teeth to bite down on, but it did very little to muffle his screams.

Finally, Crazy Guy pulled the burning hot iron away from his chest and seemed to check over the work he did. He smiled and put the rod down. When he didn’t reach got another, Peter knew it was finally over.

He sagged against the table, letting out a relieved sob.

Crazy Guy heard this and turned around to give Peter a smile. “You thought I was finished with you, didn’t you?” He came closer, holding a phone in one hand and a knife in the other. “Oh, darling, the game hasn’t even started yet.”

Peter squeezed his eyes shut as he choked on a sob. His chest screamed in agony with each ragged breath.

Crazy Guy came closer, looking almost sad. "I’m sorry I have to hurt you, but you look so pretty like this.” He wiped a tear off his cheek. “Crying. Branded. Restrained. Vulnerable.”

Peter kept his eyes closed because he didn’t want to see the look Crazy Guy was giving him. There was the shutter of the camera phone going off. Peter squeezed his eyes tighter.

“Open those eyes for me. I want you to see.”

Peter shook his head, grunting.

He was slapped across the face. Hard. “I said open your eyes!”

They shot open.

Crazy Guy smiled. “Good. Now, look at this.” He lifted the phone up to Peter’s face and even through his blurry tears, he saw it all clear enough to feel the punch to his gut. “Do you like it?”

Peter couldn’t answer and Crazy Guy pulled the towel away from his mouth.

“Do you like it?”

“Y-yes, sir.”

Another tear rolled down the side of his face. Not of pain. Of resignation.

There, scarred into his chest forever, was the word FREAK. Just in case he ever forgot.

Chapter Text

Peter doesn’t know how long it’s been. All he knows is that he doesn’t remember a life before pain. He remembers breaking his collarbone, 2 ribs, and femur all on one night of patrolling and compared to this, that felt like nothing. 

This man, holding him in this dark basement for only God knows why he has hurt him in so many different ways, Peter can’t even start to compile a list of injuries. So much hurts that nothing truly hurts anymore. It hurts so much, it’s numb in the worst way. 

He doesn’t even know if he’s screaming anymore. His throat is too torn up to handle even a whisper. He must scream though because the man picks up his hand in his and holds it gently. His voice isn’t as gentle as his touch, but he’s not exactly soft-spoken either. “I’m going to break your hand now. Please do try to keep the noise down. Your constant screaming gives me such a headache.”

Peter would let out a sob at the warning earlier in his captivity, but now, a broken hand is nothing. It’ll probably just tickle–. 

“Break his hand and I’ll break your fucking neck.” 

That voice…that voice is familiar. It makes Peter feel safer than he has in weeks. It’s been a while since he’s heard it. It’s been a while since he believed he’d hear it again. 

The man holding him goes still and Peter can see the fear in his eyes as they widen. He turns his head over his shoulder and then Peter can see him. The light shining from behind him outlines him like an angel. His guardian angel. 

“Stark–?” He doesn’t even finish his sentence before Tony is punching him across the face and he drops to the floor. Even though he doesn’t get up and Peter knows he’s unconscious, it doesn’t make him feel any more relieved. Feeling relieved is just an easy way to let his guard down and let more pain in. 

So, even though he was safe and out of danger, he didn’t move. He was never truly safe. Not down here. Not with this man. 

Tony barely spares that man on the ground another look as he took a step closer. He reaches a hand out but stopped just before it came near him as Peter felt his body flinch. Or at least he thinks it flinched. He isn’t sure what his body does anymore. He tries to distance himself from it. It’s easier to deal with the pain that way. 

“Pete, it’s me. It’s Tony…” His voice is quiet and not how Peter remembers it. “I’m gonna take you home now.” 

Peter lets out a gruntled whine involuntarily. He can’t leave. That’s against the rules and he knows the consequences of not listening. He doesn’t want that lesson repeated. So he stares ahead and blinks. 

Tony looks more worried and his eyes are watery. Peter wants to fall into his arms like he’s imagined in every rescue scenario, but now he’s terrified. “Buddy,” he tries again, his voice cracking, “it’s me. You’re okay. You’re safe.” 

Peter lets out a whimper he wishes he could have held back because he only seems even more pathetic. His eyes flicker down to the man unconscious on the floor. 

Tony follows his gaze and just like always, he knows exactly what to say when Peter says nothing at all. He turns around to someone behind him (Peter can’t bring himself to focus on who it is) and snaps, “Get this prick out of here and away from the kid. Now!”

Two men come running in and drag the limp body away. Peter waits for the body to disappear and a moment longer to make sure he’s not coming back. He looks around the room, waiting for someone to jump out and prove this is all a trick. Tony really isn’t here. He’s dreaming. It’s a dream. But nothing happens. Tony stays there, looking more real than he ever has and Peter stares. Tony is patient and doesn’t rush him. 

Peter fidgets once and lets out another whine, but it’s all his body can do. He hasn’t spoken in…well, Peter’s lost count. He lifts his handcuffed hands towards Tony slowly and still, Tony doesn’t move. He’s waiting. Peter can’t do much with the restraints so he wiggles his fingers beseechingly and then Tony asks, “Can I hold you?” 

Peter nods his head, desperately. Tony leans forward and wraps his arms around Peter. He doesn’t care that Peter is filthy with dirt and blood; the man only showered him down with cold water every few days. He pulls Peter in so close to his chest Peter feels like he can’t breathe. But, it’s not like the ‘can’t breathe’ when the man held his head under water. It’s the ‘can’t breathe’ he’d forgotten how good it felt just to be…hugged. Just to be touched in a way that caused him no pain. 

He fell into his arms and melted into the embrace. Tony holding him so securely, his heart beating against Peter’s ear, the soft words Tony is mumbling to him, the way Tony’s hand finds its way into his curls…it breaks him. It breaks the shell he’s built up and he lets it all go at once. He feels the pain– he feels every last bit of it and he sobs. 

Tony pulls him in closer and his own voice sounds close to breaking. “I’ve got you, Petey. It’s going to be okay.” 

Peter knows this. Now that Tony is here, he knows it’s going to be okay. He’s nowhere safer than in Tony’s arms. So he relaxes in his hold and lets his eyes flutter shut after countless sleepless nights. 

Tony doesn’t like that idea. “Bud, you can’t rest yet. Keep your eyes open.”

Peter grunts but doesn’t open his eyes. He just wants to sleep. 

Tony pulls back and Peter whines at the loss of contact. “You cannot sleep. You need to get checked out.” He looks Peter over and he can only imagine what he looks like…chained up in his boxers, covered in bruises, blood, and welts.  It’s pathetic. He’s pathetic. He can’t stop the next sob that leaves him. Tony cups his face and Peter leans into the touch. He lets his eyes shut for good this time despite Tony’s voice in his ear telling him to stay awake. 

He needs the sleep and he’s safe. So he does. 

He wakes up to a burning pain in his leg. Everything hurts. It’s all on fire and it’s too much for him to deal with. But there’s an even worse pressure on his leg. He’s not sure what he did– he fell asleep. He isn’t supposed to sleep. That’s why the man is punishing him. 

Peter tries to hold back the cries. He’s not allowed to make a sound. He bites so hard on his lip, he tastes the blood. He’s been bleeding so much, he’s surprised there’s any left. But there is. And the blood he draws from his fills his mouth with a metallic taste. 

He can handle the pain on his leg until the same feeling starts in the other one. Is the man breaking his legs again? But he didn’t try to escape! He stayed still– he didn’t move! 

Something snaps in his leg and he can’t hold back the scream that rips through his throat. He thrashes before he can remember that he’s not supposed to move when he’s being hurt. He’s supposed to sit through the lesson and take it without complaint. But when one scream comes out, he can’t stop the rest. He only stops when he needs to take in a deep breath. 

“The pain meds aren’t working!” He hears a voice shout, sounding angry and scared. “Don’t you hear him?” 

“There’s nothing– we need to reset these bones, Stark! We already knew the meds might not work. It’s chance we had to take.” 

Peter cries out, wishing he can beg for them to stop, but that would require talking. He isn’t allowed to do that. So, he cries. 

“He’s in pain. Dammit, stop!” The voice is closer. 

“I told you you’d need to leave if you got too upset,” the woman warned. “I’ll ask you to leave if you don’t stop.” 

There’s another hand on him again. This time holding his hand, much more gentle than the other hands breaking his body. It reminds him of the way Tony held him in that dream. It had to be a dream because if he were back home and safe, why would Tony let them continue to hurt him? He wouldn’t. 

He hears his voice though. And maybe it’s in his head. Probably because there’s no other way he’d hear it over his screaming. But it brings a sliver of comfort to him. The voice is safe. The voice is home. “You’re okay, Pete. You’re okay. I’m right here and I will never leave. Not again.” 

Chapter Text

When Tony had told Peter that The Avengers didn’t handle all levels of crime, he wasn’t lying. Things like kidnappings and serial killers, while horrible, were way below their paygrade.  The police and the FBI handled cases like that, not Iron Man.

However, the most recent case of the serial killer in Queens was terrifying to think about because Peter and May lived in Queens.  Despite each new victim being found tortured, raped, and killed a few days after being missing, the FBI and NYPD continued to handle it.

While they tried to find the man behind it, Tony tried to keep his Spiderling from getting involved.

Tony remembered the conversation they had the night he disappeared. Tony invited him to work on the lab as a cover to tell him to back off the case. Tony and May’s orders. Peter didn’t like it.

“He’s out there hurting people from Queens, Mr. Stark! Spider-Man is supposed to protect Queens!”

“So is the NYPD, Peter. Let them do their job. Please.”

“I can help too!”

“Teenagers, Peter! He is kidnapping, torturing, raping, and murdering teenagers. I think you ca n understand why May and I don’t want you getting involved." He paused to calm his voice. "Please. Just stay back. If you only ever listen to me once in your life, let it be this time and back off.”

Peter left the tower without promising to stay off the case, but he also didn’t outright say he was going to continue.

In the end, it really didn’t matter because he never made it to his apartment.

He wasn’t given the chance to stay out of it.

Not before May was calling, telling Tony that Peter never made it home and Peter was the next face of the next victim. Because no one had been able to save the other six, so why would Peter be any different.

Well, Tony had the answer: because Iron Man wasn’t searching for the others. Now he was.

He led the investigation and even the FBI didn’t complain when he was calling the shots. Everyone was desperate just to find this monster and stop him from hurting another child.

And it worked. It took Tony almost four days, not stopping for sleep or food. Days of remembering everything that had been done to the other victims before they were killed and imagining the same being done to Peter. The kid being tortured until he screamed his throat raw. It haunted him. But it also motivated him not to rest until they found him.

And they did find him. They found out where Peter was being held.

Now was time to bring him home.

 

With Rhodey in the War Machine suit by his side, they arrived in the warehouse within 15 minutes. Tony didn't care about protocol or backup. He would storm inside alone and rip apart anyone that tried. to stop him from getting to Peter.

“Tones, I’ve got your back,” Rhodey says, knowing Tony will go in there whether he likes it or not. Maybe he is just as anxious to get Peter back. They’ve handled much worse than a serial killer.

“Then we better get in there. Peter is waiting.” Peter’s been waiting. He’s been waiting days.

The thought of Peter being stuck here while some monster did who knew what to him was more than enough to get him running inside the warehouse and through the maze of hallways to find where he was. “Get ready. If you see the bastard, make him hurt.”

“Believe me. I will,” Rhodey said, following Tony as they went further inside.

The place was dark with only a few lights shining above them. It was cold and silent as they continued deeper into the hallway.

It took them a while to find the room. They had checked so many rooms in the last few minutes that Tony expected to walk into another empty one and walk right back out. So, he was relieved to finally find him. Though the relief only lasted a moment before worry took back over.

He was strapped to a metal table, the only restraints holding him back were leather straps. He was stripped down to his boxers, blood, and bruises covering his bare skin. He was shivering as he stared up at the ceiling above him.

“Oh God,” Tony said, becoming frozen in his spot.

Peter heard the voice and he went still. He began to whimper. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. Please don’t. I’m sorry.”

Tony didn’t move until Rhodey grabbed his arm. “Peter’s scared. Tony, he’s terrified.”

Another small cry from Peter had him hurrying over to his side. He kept his hands off of him for the time being. Anything to make Peter feel as safe as he could. “Hey, buddy...it’s me. It’s Tony.” He let the faceplate to the suit up so his face was showing.

His eyes trailed from the ceiling to Tony’s face and Tony wanted to reach out and wipe the tears away as they fell down his temples. He mumbled something, but the cloth in his mouth made it impossible to understand.

Tony leaned forward with shaky hands and undid the cloth and threw it across the room. “You’re okay, Pete.” Peter didn’t reply. “Rhodey’s here.” He looked back up at him with wide eyes. He wanted Rhodey to help. To make it better. Rhodey could always do that. Ever since he met him, Rhodey was the one that was always there to make it all feel a little better. When he had a bad argument with Howard. When his parents died. When he was kidnapped and tortured himself. Rhodey was always the one to make it all okay.

Rhodey sensed his panic and came over, giving Peter a small smile. “Hey, squirt. We’re here to get you out of here.” His voice was shaky, despite trying to be strong for Peter.

“Gonna come back. Hurt me.” His voice was slurred.

“He’s not going to hurt you anymore,” Rhodey reassured him before turning to Tony. “We’ve got to get him out of these straps.”

Tony nodded his head and began to undo the restraints. They were only straps of leather keeping Peter secure with a buckle. He could have gotten out. Unless he was acting like this because the asshole kept him drugged the whole time.

Once was no longer restrained, Tony wrapped an arm around him and lifted him up to a sitting position. Peter was so weak, Tony had to let him lean on him. Peter used whatever strength he had left to grab Tony’s hand and squeeze.

Rhodey was stepping out of his armor and pulling off the Air Force jacket he was wearing under the suit. He wrapped it around Peter but didn’t force his arms through. “Here, take my jacket. I’m not bothered by the cold anyway.”

“Thank you, sir,” Peter mumbled, quietly.

Tony saw the moment Rhodey’s heart broke, looking into his eyes.

“What did he do to you, Pete?” Rhodey whispered, not looking for an answer. Part of Tony hoped they never knew the answer because wasn’t ignorance bliss?

Did they really need to know? Did they want to find out what method of torture had been used on him? If he had been sexually assaulted?

Selfishly, he wanted to say no. He wanted to bring Peter home and pretend this never happened. That they could act like it was all just a dream.

But he couldn’t. Peter needed help. Tony needed to take care of him and make sure he was okay. And that involved knowing exactly what had been done to him.

“He hurt me,” Peter answered in such a scared voice.

Tony closed his eyes, fighting against the lump growing in his throat. “I know he hurt you, Pete.”

“Water,” he whispered. “Needles.”

Tony nodded, keeping that in his mind for later. “Did he--.”

“Hurt me.”

“Tony-- we need to get him out of here.”

Tony knew they did, but he needed to know… “Peter, did his ever take your boxers off?”

Peter tensed, shaking his head. “No-- no. Please.”

“Peter, we’re not asking you to. God, never. We just need to know.” He didn’t need to know. Not know. But a selfish part of him, that he was giving into, needed to know. “Did he?”

“That’s next,” Peter whispered, his wide eyes filling with tears. He looked from Tony to Rhodey, deciding to beg him instead. “I’m sorry, sir. He said it's next. But I don’t want it.”

Rhodey rubbed Peter’s shoulder. “Nothing is going to happen. You’re going home and you’re staying safe. The man that hurt you will never come near you again.”

“He said--.”

“I don’t care what he told you. I’m telling you now that you’re safe. And who’re you gonna believe? That monster or me?” Peter only whimpered. Rhodey hesitated. “You know who I am, right?”

Peter reached out a hand and grabbed Rhodey’s wrist lightly. “Rhodey.”

Rhodey smiled. “Yeah, yeah. And who’s holding you?”

Peter didn’t need to look to his side when he answered, “Tony.”

Rhodey’s smile deepened. “Yes. That’s right. Tony and Rhodey. Do you trust us?”

Peter leaned forward, his hand moving from Rhodey’s wrist to his hand. “Take me home.”

Rhodey looked to Tony, letting him take it from there. Tony wrapped an arm around Peter and said softly, “We’re going home, Pete. You’re coming home safe.”



Chapter Text

Peter was strapped to a metal table by his wrists and ankles. The table was lifted on an angle so everyone else in the room had a clear view of him. The only other people being the kidnappers and Tony.

Peter was only here as leverage for Tony. They didn’t care about Peter Parker, other than the fact that Tony cared about Peter Parker.

They took his shirt the first day he was strapped to the metal slab. They said they needed a canvas to paint on. His chest was covered in carvings from their knives.

The only time he was even allowed off of the thing was when he was allowed to use the restroom. Which was just a toilet in the corner of the room, but it was better than them letting him just wet himself.

Other than that, he had to stay there. He laid there all day and night. When the food came (because they needed them alive), he laid there and opened his mouth so they would literally spoon-feed him and shove a glass of water to his lips. They liked to make that as humiliating as possible.

He was covered in bruises and wounds and his own blood. He was really just there to get Tony to break.

Apparently, the kidnappers were a family that lost their daughter during some battle. Iron Man was fighting a villain and there were some damages done along the way that resulted in the little girl dying.

Tony had gone quiet and Peter knew he’d taken all that guilt. He always did. He wasn’t this heartless bastard everyone assumed he was. He cared. And Peter made sure to tell the assholes that. It earned him a good beating, but he’d take a million more to defend Tony.

It had been almost a month in there. It had to have been. He’d lost count after week 2. There weren’t any windows, so he usually counted the days by when they were allowed to sleep. Then that got screwed up when they refused to let either of them sleep for almost four days.

All Peter knew was that it was too long to be trapped here. He was going insane. He needed to move. He needed to see sunlight. He needed to clean all the blood and dirt from his body. He needed to be free.

Today they walked in, promising exactly that.

“I know you’ve both been here for quite some time and while it’s been fun, you’ve started to outstay your welcome.”

“Then let us go home, asshole,” Tony said, glaring at him from his position where he was tied to a chair.

“Oh, don’t worry, Stark. You’re going home. This time tomorrow you’ll be a free man. Now, whether or not the boy joins you is a different question.”

Peter saw Tony tense up. “What does that mean?”

The man came closer, holding a blood-encrusted knife to his neck. Peter went still when he felt it already start to break through his skin. “What I mean is, I’m itching to make him scream. And I will. Unless you listen to us.”

“What the fuck do you want?” Tony yelled with a weak voice. Neither of them had much strength for anything anymore.

“I want to skin him alive while you watch,” the man said, dragging the knife down his neck with just enough pressure to draw a small amount of blood. When it reached his collar bone, he pressed harder, following the bone across his chest.

Peter hissed in pain even though he tried not to let it show. Tony was quick to yell, “Stop! Stop-- please. Don’t hurt him.”

“Than I’d listen to our demands.”

This was the first time they came in with demands. They had always tortured Peter just to watch Tony break. “Anything, God. I’ll do anything. Please stop hurting him!”

The man smiled and then the door behind them. Another man came in dragging in a woman. She was screaming and crying. “We went out last night. Picked her up.”

Tony stared down at her with wide eyes. “What the hell--?”

“She means nothing to you. She’s no one. Just another face. Justs like everyone else you’ve killed in your little saving the world stunts. Just another name on a fucking stone.”

“No-- please!” She sobbed, trying to get away. “I have a family! I-- I've got a sister! A boyfriend! We’re su--supposed to go to her house this weekend. It’s my nephew’s birthday!”

She was an aunt.
All Peter could see was his Aunt May.

“Let her go!” He yelled, but no one listened to him. They were too focused on Tony.

“Someone is dying in here tonight, Stark. And you’re going to choose. Either your precious little kiddo or this woman.” The man seemed amused by the ultimatum. LIke it was a game.

“You’re sick-- you’re honestly so fucked in the head,” Tony told them with wide eyes. Peter could see the terror in them. They knew they were beaten. It had been weeks. There was no way out of it before.

“Shoot her in the head and you both go free.”

The woman was sobbing and begging not to die and Peter agreed. He spoke more calmly, “Don’t kill her, Mr. Stark. You’re not a killer. It’ll be okay. Just let them k-kill me.”

“Kid, just shut up. Okay. Shut up.” Tony stared at him with wide eyes. He couldn’t keep his voice from cracking, “I’m not letting them kill you.”

“You can’t let her die. She’s got a family.”

“And you do too, Parker. You’ve got an aunt waiting for you to come home. You’ve got me. You’ve got Happy and Rhodey. You’ve got friends. So don’t you dare try to pull that bullshit.”

Peter didn’t want to be reminded of them. It hurt remembering the life they left behind. “You’re not a murderer,” was his only response.

“Oh, yes you are,” the man said with a gun in his hand. “And you’re gonna prove it tonight.”

Tony stared at the gun now being extended to him, but he didn’t move.

“And don’t even think about being quick and trying to shoot one of us with that. There’s only one bullet. So, sure, you’ll take out one of us. But we’ve got more. So we’ll use ours to shoot her in the head and then we will spend the rest of our lives trying out every brand of torture on your boy.”

Tony continued to stare at him and shook his head minutely. “Please don’t hurt him.”

“Oh, we will.” He grinned. “I’ll pull up the best ways to torture someone-- hell, we’ll go all the way back to medieval times. That shit is brutal. He’ll be screaming and sobbing for the rest of his life while you watch.”

Tony squeezed his eyes shut.

“All you have to do is kill this woman and then I’ll let you both free. If you choose to let her live, then we’ll kill this brat. Either way, you’re only walking out with one of them tomorrow.”

Tony opened his eyes and Peter could see if there was a war in his mind, he’d made a decision. And Peter knew exactly what his decision was before he even reached for the gun.

“Mr. Stark-- please no! Don’t do this. Please!” Peter cried.

Tony wrapped his hand around the handle of the gun. “Peter-- stop. It’s fine. It’s going to be okay.”

The woman was screaming on the ground. Begging Tony not to do it.

Peter felt tears falling from his own eyes. He wanted to be mad at Tony for doing this-- letting someone else die for him. But he couldn’t be. He knew how much he meant to Tony. Even jokingly, Tony had told him in the past, “I’d kill for you, kid.” And now he was making good on that promise.

When Tony raised the gun to the woman, clicking the safety off, he told Peter, “Close your eyes, kid.”

Peter turned his head the other way, squeezing his eyes shut as he cried. Now he couldn’t see what was happening. His heart was thumping wildly in his chest and the only noise in the room was the woman sobbing.

Nothing happened for a few minutes.

“What the fuck are you waiting for?”

When Tony spoke, he was crying, “I-- I don’t want-- please, don’t, I don’t want to--.”

“You’re a killer, aren’t you? You’ve done it before. Do it now, or your boy dies bloody.”

The last thing he heard before loud bang was Tony failing to stifle a sob. Then it happened. Peter jumped at the sound. It wasn’t the sound of a gun-shot though. It was the sound of a wall crashing down.

Then there was another sound. The most beautiful sound in the world. The sound of Iron Man armor charging up and a familiar booming voice. “Nobody move!”

Peter’s eyes shot open wide and he turned to face where it was coming from. He would have thought it was a hallucination if the entire room wasn’t staring at the same spot. There, in front of a newly destroyed wall, was the War Machine. Rhodey.

The man started shooting the armor and Rhodey didn’t hesitate before sending out mini-missiles, all hitting their targets perfectly. They dropped to the ground seconds later.

Tony threw the gun across the room.

The woman quickly shoved herself up and Rhodey helped her. “You okay?” She nodded her head, still sobbing. “I’ve got a team just outside that wall. Ambulance waiting.”

Sure enough, there was the sound of paramedics rushing to them. Rhodey helped the girl to them and stopped them before they could come inside. “Take her. I’ve got these two. Just give a few minutes before everyone rushes in. No life-threatening injuries.”

“5 minutes. We really need to check them over.”

“5 minutes,” Rhodey agreed before turning around. The suit opened and he hurried out of it. His first stop was going to be Peter, but Peter shook his head. Tony needed help first.

He kneeled in front of Tony, taking his cheeks in his hands. he wiped away the flowing tears. “Hey, Tones.”

“Rhodey,” Tony croaked.

“Yeah, pal. It’s me. I’m gonna get you out of here now.” He started to undo the ropes that were keeping him tied to the chair.

“Almost killed her,” he whispered.

“You didn’t.”

“I would have. If you didn’t come in. I would have killed her to save Peter.”

Rhodey leaned forward once he was free and wrapped his arms around him, hugging him. “But you didn’t. You’re okay.”

Tony finally seemed to come out of his shock a little to wrap his arms around Rhodey and cling on tightly. He didn’t sob or cry any harder than he was, but Rhodey did rub his back and whisper soothingly to calm him down.

After a few seconds, Tony said, “You improved your time at least. Don’t think it took you three months to find me this time around.”

Rhodey laughed, pulling back. “Let’s try not to test it again.”

“I dunno. We had a pretty good time,” Peter said, trying to get himself to laugh. he wanted to feel the relief of a rescue. But he was still strapped to this table. He wanted a hug so bad.

“I’ve got you, Pete,” Rhodey said, making sure Tony was okay before standing up and hurrying over. He undid the buckles keeping him upright and started to check ver all the wounds covering his body. “What hurts--?”

Rhodey was cut off but Peter falling forwards, wrapping his arms around Rhodey. It felt so good. He let his own sobs pick back up once his face was buried in Rhodey’s neck.

“I’ve got you, buddy,” Rhodey whispered, wrapping his arms around Peter. He felt so safe. “It’s okay. You’re okay.”

“Thank you for saving us,” Peter whispered.

Rhodey and Peter had never hugged like this. Sure, they hugged a few times here or there. Just because Peter loved his physical comfort. But this was unlike any hug they’d ever had. There wasn’t one ounce of awkward or stiffness. Rhodey held Peter so close, just like Tony did like he’d been doing it for years.

Unlike with Tony, he doesn’t crack a joke. His words are soft and genuine. “Of course. I’ll always come for you two.”

“We’re a package deal,” Tony said, pushing himself up from the chair. Peter watched as he stumbled his way over and wrapped his arms around Rhodey and him. “Group hug is included.”

Peter smiled, moving one arm from around Rhodey to hold Tony too. Tony held back just as tightly as they were and settled one hand in his hair.

None of them moved until the paramedics came in, separating them apart.

And when he got outside to see May and Happy waiting, he got his hugs all over again.

 

Chapter Text

Red. It was all red.

Peter was shaking as he pressed his hands against his stomach, hoping to at least slow the bleeding down a bit. 

“P-Pete,” Tony whispered with a grunt. “Stop.” 

“You’re gonna be okay,” Peter told him. “Just hang in there.” He looked over his shoulder and shouted, “I need help! Please!” 

They were all just standing there. Even the Doctor guy. Wasn’t he a real doctor? Didn’t he have magic powers? Couldn’t he fix this? 

“Peter, I don’t think-- I don’t think I’m gonna make it,” Tony said, staring up with glassy eyes. 

“Don’t,” Peter said. “Don’t you dare say that.” 

Tony chuckled, blood trailing from the corner of his mouth. He didn’t argue it again. Peter turned back to the hole in his stomach, watching helplessly as more and more blood continued to seep out through his fingers. 

This was all to familiar to the night he lost Ben. Ben bled out on the ground in front of him and no matter how Peter covered the wound or begged him not to go...he still did. 

“Please don’t...” Die? Follow Ben? Leave me alone? 

“I love you, kid, but I think it’s time for me to tap out.” 

The tears that had been building up in his eyes started to fall. “No, please,” he sobbed. “You don’t get to quit on me!” He couldn’t lose another father-figure. 

“Not quitting, Pete. I’d never quit on you.” Tony’s voice was too low for his liking. “I know you’re gonna be the best. With or without me.” 

Peter shook his head, bringing a hand up to wipe the tears from his face. He realized a little too late that only smudged Tony’s blood across his cheek. “I can’t do it without you. I know I can’t.” 

“‘Course you can, buddy.” Tony’s chest was rising and falling slower as the seconds passed.

 

“H-hold on, t-t-they’re c-coming, okay?” Peter wasn’t sure who he was talking about. They were stranded here and half the guardians were somewhere else on this planet and the ones here couldn’t help. The Avengers at home didn’t even know where they were or that Tony needed help.

“It’s okay. It’s okay,” Tony whispered. “So proud of you, kiddo. Always was even if I wasn’t too good at saying so.” 

“Don’t--.” 

“You’re gonna do amazing things. I know it. Remember though, don’t do anything I would do and...” 

“Don’t do anything you wouldn’t do.” 

“Exactly, bud. You got it.” 

“P-Please don’t leave me...”

“Love you, Pe--.” 

Before Tony could finish his name, he was gone. 

Peter shook him gently. “Mr. Stark?” No response. He shook him a little rougher. “Mr. Stark!” Peter sobbed, falling forward, his head resting on Tony’s chest.  “Please, please, wake up. I can’t do this without you.”

A second later, he shot up when his spidey senses went off. Something was wrong. Something was happening. He looked around for the danger and saw just behind him, the others fading to nothing more than dust. 

They were gone. 
And he was next. 

Maybe he would have fought it. Maybe if Tony were there to hold him here, he wouldn’t disappear in the wind. 

But Tony wasn’t here. 

And now, maybe Peter didn’t have to do this without him. 

 

He faded away with a smile on his face. 

Chapter Text

The cell was no bigger than 6 feet by 6 feet. There was nothing in there except them and it was freezing cold. 

37 days. Or at least, 37 days if they brought their food in once a day. That was how Tony was keeping track. Every time they brought in their meal, it was dinnertime of a new day and he marked a tally on the wall. And there were 37 marks. 

Tony still had no idea what they were being held for. They never asked for information. They just came and beat them both to hell. Nothing special. Punches and kicks. While one was beat, the other one always had to watch. 

Every time they came in, Tony always pushed Peter into the corner of the cell hoping that they wouldn’t try to hurt him. Sometimes it worked. Sometimes it didn’t. 

Today when they came in, Tony didn’t have time to hide him. He was in Tony’s arms and Tony was just holding him close. Peter barely had any strength left but whatever strength he did have, he used to hold back to Tony. 

Being Spider-Man was usually a blessing, but when he wasn’t fed enough to satisfy his metabolism, it was a curse. Peter was even weaker than Tony in this state. He needed food and nutrients. 

However, today was different. They didn’t immediately start beating on one of them. They opened the cell and three men walked in; two of them walked forward and one stayed back in the doorway with a small dog crate in his hand. 

Tony didn’t know what they had planned, but he did know that there was no way he was fitting in that crate. But Peter would. 

He growled, tucking the kid closer to his chest. “Stay the fuck away from him.” 

One of the man laughed as he took a step forward. “We both know how this ends. Don’t fight or else it’ll be worse.” 

Which was usually the smart thing to do– what helped them survive the 37 days. But this was different. They weren’t just going to beat one of them. They were going to take Peter away. 

“Touch him and I’ll fucking kill you.” 

“Yeah, you said that weeks ago. Look how far that got you.” The other man reached for Peter and Tony couldn’t back away any further. So he squeezed as tight as he could to that kid. 

“Let go,” the other warned as he watched the struggle. 

“Over my dead body,” Tony snarled. He could feel Peter’s nails digging into his skin as he held on so tight. 

“Test us and we may just do that,” the man grunted as he tugged on Peter. “No one wants an old man like you. But a kid like him? We’ve got a half dozen bidders already fighting over the prize.” 

“He’s not a prize! He’s a human child!” 

“I’d say otherwise,” the man laughed before yanking on Peter one last time with enough strength to pull him out of Tony’s arms. Peter started thrashing immediately to try and get away. 

Tony pushed himself back up on his hands and knees and crawled desperately to get to him, but they threw him out of the cell and into the cage before Tony had a chance. 

Before leaving, the man kicked Tony hard in the gut with a laugh. Tony fell to his side with a grunt. “Stay down, bitch.”

“Mr. Stark!” Peter yelled, his fingers coming out of the grated cage. 

Tony reached out an arm. “Hold on, kiddo. I’m gonna find you. No matter where you go I’m gonna find you.” 

The only thing Tony heard as they walked away with the crate was Peter screaming his name and the heavy beating of his heart. 

He was going to get him back. 
And he was gonna raise a little hell while doing it. 

Chapter Text

“Please,” Tony begged for what had to be the millionth time. “Please don’t.”

The man smiled at him sickly. “You said you wanted to see him, no?”

Tony swallowed back the vomit that threatened to come up. He wanted to see the kid ever since they had been taken and held in this hellhole. They separated them days ago and Tony asked everyday to see Peter. But not like this.

They were being in held in some kind of hospital with doctors that definitely weren’t the ones you’d call to set a broken bone. They wore the same white coats, but they hurt instead of healed.

They had Peter in an operating room, strapped to a table. There was a mask over his mouth, no doubt pouring a constant stream of drugged air into his lungs to keep him sedated. He was strapped to an operating table wearing only blue scrub pants.

Tony was being held in an observation room above to look down on everything going on. He hated that he had a clear view of Peter laying there with heavy lidded eyes, tears pouring from the corner of them.

He was already beaten and bruised. They knew he wasn’t a normal kid. That had been the point of all this. They wanted to see what made Spider-Man…Spider-Man.

And that involved tests.

“We’re going to peel back his skin until he screams.”

Tony shook his head, knowing that wasn’t a bluff. “He’s a child. Please.”

“We want to test how fast he’ll be able to regrow skin tissue when he cut it down to the muscle,” the white coat continued.

“Please don’t.”

The white coat turned away from the glass and studied him. “You want to do a different test today? Okay.” He stepped forward, clicking the button of an intercom. “Change in plan, doctors. We’re gonna go with test 56A.”

Tony’s heart skipped a beat. “What? What does that mean?”

“You’ll see.”

Tony watched helplessly as a doctor in the room below pulled out and syringe. (He was glad the kid was drugged to his eyeballs; he hated needles). Unceremoniously, he plunged the syringe into his neck.

“What is that?” He shouted, jerking against the restraints keeping him tied down. “What did he do to him?”

“In that syringe was enough poison to take down a small army.”

Tony’s eyes widened. “What the fuck? He’s going to die– you’re gonna kill him?” He stared down at Peter waiting for a change. “You’re gonna fuckin’ kill him!”

“That is the plan, yes.”

“Why the fuck? That ruins all chances you have of studying him!” Tony would rather watch them cut him open than watch him die. “You’re a fu–.”

“Watch.”

Tony didn’t want to, but he couldn’t take his eyes away. Down below, Peter’s eyes snapped open and he buckled against the restraints keeping him down. He gasped out in pain.

“Should feel like his body is burning from the inside right now.”

Then the screaming started.

Tony had to look away and squeeze his eyes shut. But he could still hear the screams echoing through the room.

“Isn’t it so beautiful?”

Tony felt tears fall from his eyes. Peter continued to scream. “Please,” he choked out, quietly even though it was too late.

The white coat laughed and Peter screamed.

He screamed until he was sobbing down below, begging for the pain to stop. Tony didn’t let out a sob of his own until he heard him scream, “Tony! Please!”

Tony sobbed and didn’t open his eyes until the screams stopped. His head whipped back to face the window and look at Peter. He was still, laying there with his eyes open and staring up.

Tony wanted to throw up.

The white coat clicked the intercom again, “Is it dead?”

Tony was going to throw up.

“Yessir.”

Tony threw up.

He leaned forward, gagging and emptied what little was in his stomach. Which was nothing more than whatever crap they’d been feeding him once a day. He retched even after his stomach has nothing more to give.

When he stopped, the white coat made a noise of disgust. “Are you just about done?”

Tony glared up at him from the top of his eyes. “Fuck off.”

The white coat rolled his eyes and turned back to the intercom. “Alright, sorry about that. Bring him back.”

“What–?”

Some time while Tony was vomiting or when he had his eyes squeezed shut as the poison slowly killed Peter, they had brought in a defibrillator machine. They were charging in up and getting ready to shock Peter back to life.

“Clear!”

Peter’s body jerked.

He stayed lifeless.

They tried again.

“Clear!”

They waited.

Tony held his breath.

The waited.

Peter took his.

“We’ve got him back, sir.”

Tony felt his body sag in relief when Peter was moving on his own, moaning in pain. At least he was alive.

The white coat grinned and said into the intercom, “Do it again. Round two.”

Chapter Text

Tony grunted as he tugged against the ropes around his wrists. He’d only been tied up for about an hour; just long enough for his lovely captor to give him his monologue on why Tony was so horrible and needed to pay, blah, blah, blah…

Truthfully, Tony rarely paid much attention in these situations. He’s dealt with worse than this. Monsters, aliens, gods...a human with a grudge didn’t seem that terrifying. And he still had his watch that he activated before they tied him down, so soon, someone would come crashing through that door for him.

For now, he had to wait like a good little damsel in distress.

There was no way Peter or Rhodey would let him stay here long. Rhodey was probably rolling his eyes at having to come rescue him again. And Peter was probably...well, the kid was probably freaking out a little. This was the first time he’d been kidnapped since giving Peter access to his emergency signal, so Peter was in for a treat when he got that alarm.

He heard the door open not long after the man left and he assumed someone was here to rescue him because the guy said he'd be a few hours. Not that Tony believed the words of his kidnapper, but he really didn't expect it to be anyone else but Rhodey.

So when he looked up and saw a woman, he stopped his greeting short, “Hey, honeybear...oh, this is awkward. You're definitely not my honeybear.”

She shrugged her shoulders, walking closer. “I could be.”

Tony knew this kind of behavior and exactly what she wanted. She was dressed in clothes that left little to the imagination, she walked slowly to really stress the way she could move her hips, and she spoke in a low sultry voice.

“I could never replace my platypus. Sorry to burst your bubble.. I gotta get going anyway, so if you could just untie the ropes around my wrists and ankles, that would be amazing.”

“I won't take very long, don't worry,” she said, already climbing up on the bed he was tied to. She kneeled on the mattress, her knees on either side of Tony’s thighs.

Tony’s eyes widened up at her. “You sure are eager, huh?”

“I know you feel the same,” she said, dragging her finger down his chest, slowly unbuttoning his dress shirt.

Tony squirmed. “I can honestly say I don't.”

She grinned down at him, her teeth bright white against her dark red lipstick. “Why not?”

“You're a very beautiful girl, don't get me wrong. But y’know, I think you'll have more luck with a partner that gives their consent. Because without it, you're just a rapist.”

The word didn't falter her like Tony had hoped. It only made her smile. “My brother gets the money he asks for, so why can't I get what I want?”

“Do I really have to explain to you why rape is wrong?”

“It's only rape if you don't want it,” she whispered, laning close and whispering in his ear.

“I’m sorry,” he said. “Have I not made that clear? Let me fix that: I don't not want to have sex. No quiero tener relaciones sexuales. Non voglio fare sesso. Je ne veux pas faire l'amour. Ich möchte keinen sex haben.” He paused. “Is that enough? Is there another language you speak that I should cover?”

She only laughed, covering his mouth with her hand. “I know a man like you, Tony Stark. Don't act like you're not thrilled.” Then she uncovered his mouth and leaned in to press her lips against his.

He immediately jerked away, his heart starting to beat faster. “Hey, now. I'm a happily engaged man.”

“Tony Stark tied down to one woman? How boring...you know, I can liven your life up again.” She trailed a hand down his chest and stomach until it reached his pants. Then she undid his button and zipper and started to pull them down.

“Hey-- come on. I said no,” his voice lost all snark as he actually found himself starting to panic. He didn't want this girl having sex with him. He just wanted Pepper. He was happy finally. Maybe at one point he acted out, having sex with anyone that would have sex, but that wasn't him anymore. He... hated that Tony.

“Shh, it's gonna be alright,” she whispered, kissing him again.

Now would be a really good time for someone to crash through the ceiling. Tony just wanted Rhodey to come and save him. Just like he always did.

But the woman kept kissing him as she tugged down his pants. Tony tried to get out of her hold, but he was effectively trapped.

Until there was a loud bang and she shot upwards, turning towards the door. Or-- where the door used to be. Because it wasn't there anymore.

“I'm sorry, did I break that? I hope you were already planning to redecorate. The place really needs it.”

Tony smiled at his stupid Spider-Baby. God, he'd never been so thankful to hear one of his horrible quips.

“What the hell?” The woman said, sounding shocked that someone was actually here to save him.

“I'm sorry. Were you not expecting me? Maybe my RSVP got lost in the mail…” He shot out a web, but she ducked from it.

She rolled over the bed, quickly advancing to fight Peter. Tony wanted to see this. There was no way she stood a chance. Still, she swung her fist, ready to fight.

“Woah!” Peter said, easily dodging it. “Do you give all your guests a welcome gift like this?” He ducked another punch. “If so, I think you need to learn how to be a better host.”

“Shut up!” She threw her fist again and Peter blocked it.

“I usually don't like hitting girls, so I think this is a better solution.” He webbed her and it sent her back to the wall. He webbed her again to make sure she couldn't get out. Then he relaxed and crossed his arms over his chest. “There. That's better.”

“What the fuck--.”

“Would you believe me if I said you put up more of a fight than the dude in the other room? Pathetic.” He shrugged his shoulders, finally turning to Tony. “Sorry it took me so long, Mr. Stark, traffic on third was a nightma--.”

Tony knew exactly why Peter stopped short. His shirt was unbuttoned, exposing his naked chest and his pants were pulled down to his mid-thighs. But thankfully, his boxers were still where they belonged.

“What’d she do?” He asked, the lens on his mask widening.

“Nothing. I’m fine,” he said, hoping to calm the kid down before he started to freak out.

“Oh, come on now, Tony. Don’t lie to the kid. We had a little fun before he got here.”

That was enough to make Peter snap. And Tony watched helplessly as Peter whirled around and got close to her face. He didn’t need a voice changer in his sit to sound furious. “What the hell does that mean?”

“I’m sure you’re old enough to use your imagination.”

Tony cursed under his breath. He didn’t know why she was getting Peter riled up. Who would be stupid enough to anger a super-human? Apparently this crazy one. “Don’t listen to her. She’s lying to you.”

“Why would I lie?” She laughed. “The evidence is right there. Look at my lipstick all over his face. Too bad my hands can’t leave a print like that, huh?”

Peter pressed his arm against her throat and growled. “I know I said I didn’t like hitting ladies, but you are no lady. I will not hesitate.”

Tony jerked against the restraints, wishing he could just pull Peter away and get them the hell out of here. “Stop it. I’m okay. Everything is okay.”

“It’s not okay!” Peter finally responded to him, even he didn’t turn away from the woman. “She was trying to rape you.”

“Like he isn’t used to it,” the woman said, rolling her eyes before Tony could say a word.

“What do you mean?” Peter asked and his voice sounded scared instead of angry.

“His bachelor days? Were you even alive when he was out having sex with 10 different girls a week?”

Tony frowned. “That’s an exaggeration.”

The other two didn’t even seem to hear him. “Does any human really want that much sex? Do you ever think he was in it for the sex? Or maybe he was just...acting out. Not enough attention from Mommy and Daddy maybe?”

“Shut the fuck up,” Tony said, annoyed that she had hit the nail right on the head. He didn’t want Peter to know that. His old days of drugs, alcohol, and sex were long behind him and was never a topic between them.

“He was an easy catch. Quite the catch too, I heard. He was rarely ever sober, so it wasn’t hard to push your way into his bed. Whether Tony wanted it or not, he still said yes. Tony Stark had a reputation to uphold, afterall.”

“Shut up!” Peter yelled, taking a step back.

“What’s wrong? I thought you wanted to hear more about his--.”

Peter webbed her mouth shut before she could finish the sentence. Then he just stood there, staring down at his feet. Tony watched as his shoulders remain rigid and he took long, deep, heavy breaths.

“Okay...you’re fine, bud. Just get away from her.”

“She hurt you,” he said. “She hurt you.”

“I’m not hurt. You saved me before she did.” Tony took a deep breath of his own.

“I was supposed to.”

“No,” Tony said. “You did. You saved me, Spider-Man.”

Peter finally turned to face him. “Did I?”

Tony nodded his head. “You did. I promise.”

After a moment of hesitation, Peter finally started to take a step closer. He reached his side and whispered, “I’m sorry.”

Tony gave him a smile and Peter untied the knots around his wrists. “Don’t apologize, kid. I’m okay.” He sat up and pulled his pants back up around his waist while Peter untied his ankles. Once he was free, he jumped off the bed and stood up on his feet. Even if he was little shaky after the ordeal, he needed to act like nothing was wrong because Peter was staring intently at him.

He glanced back at the woman now webbed to the wall, glaring at them and smirked. “Our buddies from the NYPD will be in here soon to deal with you.”

Then he patted Peter on the back and said, “Come on, Spider-Man. Let’s get outta here.”

Peter nodded quickly, following him out of the room. Once they were finally out of that room, Peter took over and started tugging Tony down the hall.

“Woah-- slow down, Spidey.”

He didn’t. He pulled him outside and past the police officers waiting. Peter didn’t stop for them, so Tony quickly called back, “I’m fine-- you’ve got two creeps in there to bring in. Call my people if you need anything, looks like Spider-Man has other plans.”

The moment they got to a clearing in the street, Peter grabbed Tony and lifted him off his feet with ease before shooting out his web and pulling them up to the roof of a nearby building. Tony tried to hold back his shout of surprise when they went swinging.

When they finally landed and were steady on their feet, Tony said, “Give a guy some warning next time, Underoos.”

Peter pulled off his mask and Tony finally saw his face. His eyes were red and his cheeks were wet. Tony felt someone punched him right in the chest at that sight. He was staring right at Tony’s lips.

“Shit, hold on.” He used his sleeve to scrub at his lips and pulled his arm back to see the red smudge left behind on his white shirt. He looked back up at Peter. “She only kissed me. I swear.”

“I believe you,” he said, his voice low. “But...what about the other stuff she said? Was it true?”

Tony sighed, debating how much he wanted to tell Peter. Not because he didn’t feel comfortable sharing this information with him, but he didn’t think Peter needed to hear about all the issues of his past. And if Peter knew just how low he acted, would he still look up to him? Would he still want him to be his mentor? “When I was younger, I did some stupid shit, Pete…”

Peter stared at him silently, waiting for him to continue.

“She was right...half-- no, all of the shit I did back then could easily be explained by anyone with a degree in psychology. Daddy issues and all that…” He cleared his throat, looking at the ground and away from Peter. “So, to say I enjoyed any of my days where I was drinking myself to death or trying every drug I could get my hands on or going to bed with any woman or guy that wanted to would be a lie.”

“Tony…”

Tony winced; Peter never called him Tony. “I’m sorry, kid. I know that’s not what you want to here. Totally cancels out your hero worship, huh? Sorry you got stuck with such a crappy mentor like me.”

“You made mistakes. You’re human. You learned from the mistakes,” Peter said. “Your past doesn’t define you. It’s who you are today and how you choose to live your life that makes you who you are. So, I still have the best mentor I could ask for because I know you. I know the real man you are and always have been. I just...feel bad you ever had to go through that.”

Tony looked up at him, smiling softly. “Yeah, those moments sucked, but looking back on it all, I’m okay with it. It helped make me the man I am today and make the decisions I have. And it all led me to...this. Rhodey, Happy, Pepper, you...it led me to happiness. So, who am I to complain?”

Peter rushed forward, wrapping his arms around Tony. “You’re the strongest man I know, Mr. Stark.”

“You know Captain America, so that’s already debunked.”

“I do know him. And in my eyes, you’re a million times stronger than anyone. Even Captain America.”

Tony was silent for a few seconds because his words caught him off-guard, but then he smiled and ruffled Peter’s hair. “Thanks, kiddo.”

Chapter Text

Peter smiled as he ran out of the school building. The sun was shining brightly and it was warm enough to make Peter sweat in his long sleeved shirt. It may have only been May, but summer weather was already on its way. Peter couldn’t wait.

Waiting just where he always was, Happy was leaning against his car. He had an unreadable expression on his face with his sunglasses perched on his nose, but Peter knew that was just a show. He didn’t mind picking Peter up from school; they’d been doing it for a few months now and he even let Peter sit in the front seat with him.

“Hey, Happy!” He called, waving excitedly to him as he reached him.

Happy’s top lip quirked slightly before falling back into a straight line. “Hey, squirt. How was school?”

“Great!” Peter said, not sure where to even start. Happy shook his head and walked around to get inside the car. Peter hopped into the passenger seat with a grin.

“I’m sure I’m gonna hear all about it,” he said, starting the car up.

Peter laughed. “You sure are.”

There was that lip quirk again. “Oh great. I forgot my earplugs at home.”

Peter smiled because he knew he didn’t mean it. “Lucky you.”

“Alright, fine. Go crazy. But I’m gonna need something to get me through this. You mind stopping for ice cream?”

Peter perked up in his seat. “Ice cream? Do you even have to ask?”

Happy chuckled. “Alright, kiddo. You got it.”

 

Happy started driving to the nearest ice cream parlor and Peter started his tale of everything that happened that day that he needed to tell Happy. He was halfway through telling Happy about this kid that tried tripping him in the hallway but wound up tripping himself when they finally stepped outside of the car.

“It was the same kid that you used the car to splash a puddle with when driving me home last week. Remember him?” Peter wasn’t sure why he tugged on Happy’s sleeve as he said that, but he did anyway and Happy didn’t mind.

“Oh, I remember him alright,” Happy huffed. “Tell him he wants to try something with you again and I’ll be using the car to run him over with.”

Peter rolled his eyes. He knew Happy didn’t mean it; he was just over-protective. Ever since he had gotten closer with Tony, that meant Rhodey and Happy also wanted to look out for him. “Yes, I’ll be sure to let him know. But I prefer when you’re not in jail for vehicular manslaughter, so let's--.” Peter froze when all of the hair stood up on his arms. That meant trouble. He stopped walking and grabbed Happy’s sleeve, tugging it.

Happy stopped as well and looked at him in concern. “What's wrong?”

Peter stared back with wide eyes and whispered, “Something’s wrong.”

Knowing exactly what that meant, Happy grabbed his hand and he started dragging Peter back to the car. “Get in and we're gonna call Tony.”

But just before they could reach the car, there was a man behind them and something pressed to Peter’s back. “Come with me nicely or else the boy gets a bullet in his kidney.”

“Okay, okay,” Happy said. “You don't have to shoot him. I’ll go willingly.”

“You better. Because while this can work with only one, I’d rather have both. He’ll be much more cooperative if both of you make it to the party.” The voice was strong, but Peter could hear it waver slightly. He was nervous, rightfully so if he was going to kidnap them. If they were alone, Peter could take him out in no time. And if he didn’t have the gun pressed against Peter’s side then Happy could easily take him out with one punch.

But they couldn’t do anything in public except for let them be shoved into the awaiting car just behind theirs. There was another man waiting in the driver’s seat, so the man with the gun shoved Peter forward in the backseat. He scrambled to sit up and keep his hands raised in the air when the gun was still pointed at him.

He got in after him, facing Happy and told him, “Get in the passenger seat or else we drive away and we blow his brains out and dump his body for you to find later.”

Happy’s voice was angry as he snapped, “I’m going! I’m going-- Jesus. He’s just a kid.”

“So you better get in if you want him to live the rest of his life,” the man in front seat said.  

Happy nodded his head, quickly getting into the front. The second he was sitting and the door was shut, the car was speeding off. Happy turned around to face them in the back. “You okay, kid?”

Peter nodded his head and opened his mouth to assure Happy he was fine, but the man next to him opened his mouth first, “Don’t say a fucking word to him.”

Happy frowned. “Which one of us are you reprimanding right now?”

“Both of you! Shut up!” The man shouted, digging the gun into Peter’s throat.

Happy raised his hands and worry was right back into his eyes. “Okay. Come on...get the gun off his neck.”

Happy’s begging made the man chuckle. “That’s nice. Remember your place. Remember I can take him out with one little pull of the trigger.”

“I’m listening-- just stop,” Happy said, sounding panicked.

“It’s okay,” Peter said, although he knew she should have just kept his mouth shut. “I’m okay, Happy. Don’t worry.”

The gun shoved against the pulse point in his throat and Peter winced. “I said shut up, brat!”

“Hey, no one calls the kid a brat except me,” Happy said.

The man grunted, turning to the driver. “Can you hurry up?”

“We’re almost there, man.”

The man next to Peter groaned, but the gun didn’t leave his throat. “If I hear one more word out of either of you, you’re gonna be sorry.”

Peter managed to keep his mouth shut the entire drive. Even as they were being transferred from the car into the warehouse. Spider-Man rambled when he was fighting criminals just because he could. But Peter rambled when he was nervous. And this was definitely nerve wracking. Once inside that warehouse, he couldn’t just use his full powers and take care of them. Then they would know he wasn’t a normal kid and he’s have to worry about Happy getting hurt as well.

Happy was quiet as well, only speaking a few times to tell them to go easy with Peter. Happy’s obvious frustration at them pushing Peter around only encouraged them to do it more. It was like the bullies at school; if Peter showed no reaction to th treatment, then they got bored and left him alone. But Happy wasn’t so good at keeping hi temper.

They got to staircase leading down to a basement and one man guided Happy down the steps. Then the other laughed and called down to him. “Hey, big boy. Catch.” He didn’t wait for Happy to turn around before he was shoving Peter forwards. He could have caught himself expertly because of his powers. But he was just a kid. He couldn’t let them know. Just like in school, he couldn’t use his powers to help him when shoved down.

So, he squeezed his eyes shut and braced himself for the hit. He fell down, smacking his head against one staircase and rolling down.

As he fell he heard Happy call out his name and rush back up the stairs to catch him as he fell. He only rolled down a few steps before he felt Happy grab him and lift him up. He ran his hands through his hair, searching for any bumps. When his hand hit the open scrape on his forehead, Peter gasped in pain. Happy rolled him over so he could get a better look. “Shit, kid. I’m sorry. I tried to catch you.”

Peter shook his head because it wasn’t Happy’s fault. None of this was. “‘M okay, Happy.” He grabbed Happy’s wrist so he wouldn’t fall again. “S’okay.”

“Jesus, kid…” Happy muttered, helping Peter stand to his feet. Before they could even regain their bearing, the man with them at the bottom of the steps grabbed them by the arms and dragged them further into the basement.

There were two chairs already waiting for them. The other man caught up to them, grabbing Peter again and shoved him into the chair next to Happy. They were then tied to the chairs around their wrists and ankles. Peter winced as the rope bit into his skin. He wanted nothing more than to break through the bindings and laugh at them. But Peter knew better. Tony had prepared him for times like this: being kidnapped. All he had to do was behave for the bad guys and do whatever he had to do to let Tony rescue him without pissing them off. Tony would come get him.

Once they were both secured in their seats, the men took a step back and smiled at the both of them. “Now, we wanna get this done as soon as possible, so if you could both just do exactly what we tell you then you’re going to be fine.”

The other man behind him walked to the video camera they had waiting on a tripod, directed at them. He stayed there as the other man continued to talk. “And I know this isn’t what you two wanted but we’re going to have to rough one of you up a bit…” He walked up to Happy, giving him a smile. “Just to show Mr. Stark that we’re very serious about this.”

Happy growled, narrowing his eyes at him. “Go ahead. Only way you’d be able to take me on is tied to this chair. Get your chance while you can or else I’ll kick your ass.”

“I don’t need to keep you tied up. I could win even if I were the one tied up.”

Happy laugh at that. “Of course you could, pal. Sure.”

That was getting the man annoyed. He clenched a fist. “Which one of us is the one tied to a chair in a basement? If you’re so strong then why did I get the drop on you?”

Happy furrowed his brow, almost sounding bored. “Let’s see...maybe because I had no idea to expect this and you were holding a gun to the kid’s back. I’m not a moron like you two.”

The man grabbed Happy by the tie, yanking him closer and causing the chair to balance to two legs. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Happy rolled his eyes. “It means that if you two think you’re getting out of this unharmed, you’re crazy. Not only are you pissing off Tony Stark, but you’re pissing me off too. You’re going to regret that.”

“Oh, you don’t scare me,” the man said, but Peter could see some fear in his eyes.

“And you don’t scare me. You think a little beating from you is gonna hurt me? I’ve been through worse. I think you’re punches are gonna be a tickle, honestly.” Happy shrugged his shoulders.

The man growled again, pulling back his fist and Happy didn’t flinch, but Peter saw him brace from the punch. Because he did it on purpose; he purposely wanted to piss the man off so he beat him up. He didn’t want Peter to be the one hurt. But Peter thought that was ridiculous because he was the one with the super healing abilities. He wasn’t going to just let Happy get beat for him.

“Don’t hurt yourself, man. You look a little...dainty...have you ever tried punching something?” Peter said before he could throw his fist forward. The man hesitated, looking at him and Happy shot him an angry look.

“What the hell did you say to me, kid?”

Peter shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing. Just that I’ve seen high school fist fights with better skmill. Your stance is all wrong-- seriously, man? You’re thumb is tucked into your fist? Have fun breaking that finger.”

The man lowered his fist and let go of Happy’s tie. “You’ve got some balls, kid.”

Peter grinned now that the attention was on him. That was easier than he thought. Happy didn’t look too please with him and Peter knew he’d be getting in trouble for this later, but as long as Happy was okay, then he would be. “I’m just saying, you’re talking a big game and honestly, I think I’ve been beaten by stronger high schooler than you.”

“You wanna find out, brat?” He asked, taking a step back from Happy and moving towards Peter.

Happy panicked, struggling against his bindings. “Are you seriously going to beat up a kid? You need that much of an ego boost?”

“He would be stupid not to. He wants Mr. Stark to get what they need. No offense, Happy, but I think he’d be a little more encouraged to get things done when they’re hurting a child and not his professionally trained bodyguard.”

The man nodded his head. “He is right...I’m guessing you’re used to this. You’ve taken a beating before. You can handle it. But can he?”

Happy shook his head, his voice growing desperate. “Please don’t. Tony will get you what you need without all of this.”

“Maybe. But I’d rather not test that theory.” He pulled a ski mask from his pocket, pulled it over his face and then turned around to the man by the camera. “Start rolling. I want him to see all of this.”

Peter squared his shoulders. He’d been through horrible beatings as Spider-Man. This would be nothing. He heard the camera beep in front of them and then the man started speaking.

“Good afternoon, Tony Stark. I’m sure if you’re aware of their disappearance yet, but I’m sure you can see my guests behind me. Your brat and his chauffeur.”

“He’s actually Head of Security-- more like a bodyguard,” Peter said before he could even tell his mouth to shut up.

The man clenched his jaw and tried to ignore him as he continued. “We’re not asking much. A few million. That shouldn’t even break your wallet.”

“A few million? I doubt you can even count past 20 with your shoes on. How do you know he’s gonna give you the full amount?”

The man paused, taking a deep breath. “And to ensure that you know how serious we are, we’re gonna give you a little demonstration. And believe me: this kid deserves it.”  

“You fucking touch him and I make sure you feel it back, 10 times worse,” Happy promised and Peter really didn’t think he was joking.

The man ignored him. “So, when you watch this...know that with every hour it takes you to get us exactly what we want, it happens all over again.”

Then it started.

He was untied from the chair and thrown to the ground. Peter immediately lifted his arms up and protected his head. The kicking was first. He must have been wearing steel-toed shoes on because, holy shit, it hurt.  

As he kicked, Happy cried out for him to stop. He was full out begging after one kick hit him in the head and Peter couldn’t hold back his yelp of pain. “Please stop. Leave the kid alone. Please. Take me.”

“You’ve been pretty good,” the man said, glancing over his shoulder to Happy. It was a brief break from the kicking. “There’s no need to give you a hard time. We’ve went through this. The brat on the other hand…” He turned back and sent his foot into his ribs as hard as he could. He was pretty sure at least one of them were cracked, if not broken.

Despite the pain, Peter said, “S’okay, Happy, this guy isn’t very strong anyway. It tickles. Just like I said it you.”

The man above him growled, pausing his kicking again to glare up at the camera. “You hear this kid, Stark? Just know it’s no one’s fault but his that he’s getting this beating.” He leaned down and lifted him up by the collar of his shirt. He jerked him towards the camera. “You see him? You know he’s only going to keep opening his mouth and this will only get worse. So you better be quick on getting us the money.”

“That’s sad,” Petr couldn’t help himself from saying. “You really think you’re some tough guy for beating up a child? Compensating for something else?”

Peter was thrown to the ground and hit it hard enough to knock the breath from his lungs. He wheezed on the ground, trying his best to get it under control.

“You better get us what we want. Now.” Then he snapped, “Shut that damned thing off.”

Once the camera was off, Peter hoped that maybe they’d get a little break. Maybe the guy in the mask would go back to how he was before: all bark and no bite.

But they got even luckier...he left.

“I’ll be right back. Keep your eye on them.” Then he stormed up the stairs.

The man behind the camera only laughed. “You don’t know when to shut up, kid.”

Peter wanted to push himself up to his feet and fight. He could fight this one and then wait for the other to come down and attack him too. But his head was spinning and his vision was going black. He couldn’t even get up.

“Peter, are you okay?” Happy asked.

Peter couldn’t nod his head unless he wanted to make the pain in his head even more excruciating. He just wanted the pain to go away. Where was Tony? He spit out a mouthful of blood and whined. He knew it probably sounded pathetic, but he couldn’t help it. “Where’s ‘ony?”

Happy responded, keeping his voice soft. “He’s on his way, kiddo. Just hang in there.”

Peter wanted to close his eyes and sleep, but when he was barely able to think straight enough to remember his name, he knew it wasn’t good to fall asleep with a concussion.

“Eyes open, Pete. C’mon. Keep ‘em open.”

Peter was going to try his best. He couldn’t leave Happy alone in this place.

Unfortunately, their moments of peace were ruined when the stomping was back on the steps and the man in the mask was back down. He ripped the mask off his face, shoving it into his pocket. “I want you to shut up. You’re going to shut up.”

Peter recognized the way he sounded as danger. Something cracked inside of him and he was angry. He tried to crawl away back to Happy, even though he knew there was no protecting him.

“Stop moving, brat. You’re going to stay still or my friend is going to shoot your friend in the head.”

Peter froze as the man that was behind the camera hurried over to Happy’s side and stuck a gun against his head. Peter’s eyes widened. No. He took that beating to keep Happy safe. “N-No. Don’ hur’ him. Please.”

The man kneeled next to him with a smirk on his face. “We’re not going to hurt him. As long as you stay still, okay?”

Peter nodded his head, the pounding increasing. He would do whatever he had to in order to keep these guys happy.

“Good boy.” Then he grabbed Peter’s head and smashed it down to the ground. Peter’s vision went black and he thought that was it, but it returned a few seconds later and the man was now sitting next to him, holding his head in his lap now.

“What are you doing?” Happy asked. “Leave him alone!”

“I’m shutting him up. Isn’t that what you wanted. You said it yourself: doesn’t this kid ever shut up?” He turned back to look down at Peter and used his fingers to pinch Peter’s lips together. He couldn’t turn his head to see what was in the other hand, but by the way Happy was panicing, he didn’t think it was good.

“Don’t. Jesus Christ-- don’t you dare.”

“I told him to be quiet.”

“He will be. He’s almost unconscious. Just don’t fucking do that.”

“Too late.”

It took a moment for Peter to register the pain in his lips. It took him even longer to register just what the hell was going on. The man was stitching his mouth shut.

Peter couldn't help the panic that took over and he started to fight. He didn’t open his mouth, afraid of what would happen if he tore through whatever was already done. The man slapped im across the face and Petre stopped.

“Do you want your friend to die?”

Peter shook his head.

“Then don’t fight.”

“Please don’t do this. Please. He’s a kid. Please. Just send the video and get your money. It’ll be okay,” Happy said, his voice sounding almost scared.

The man didn’t reply to him and continued to run the needle and whatever string he was using through Peter’s lips. Peter didn’t want to be here. There was too much pain. So as the man continued to taunt him and stitch, Peter closed his eyes, finally giving into his body’s need for sleep.

 

When he came to consciousness again, his head was still cradled in someone’s lap. He squeezed his eyes as the pain still in his head. He wasn’t sure what was going on or where he was, but the familiar voice above him helped him realize slightly.

“Hey, Pete...you up?”

Peter blinked his eyes open and saw Happy staring down at him. He was smiling-- which was weird-- and his eyes were puffy and red. He wanted to ask what was wrong, but he couldn't. His lips literally wouldn’t move.

He frowned and raised his hand to his mouth to feel his lips. When he touched them, feeling something keeping them stitched shut, the memories of what happened before he passed out came crashing back. He started panicking.

“Hey, shush. Calm down, Pete,” Happy said, rubbing his shoulder to try and soothe him. “It’s gonna be okay. Tony is going to come and he’s going to fix this. I promise you.”

Peter felt his eyes burn as tears slipped out. Happy grabbed his hands away from his face when he started to scratch at his lips. Peter still fought him, breathing heavily through his nose.

“Stop it! Peter-- stop!” Happy said, sounding frustrated. “Peter. You’re going to make it worse. Please just stop.”

Peter continued to fight him because he just wanted it off.

Happy tightened his hold on Peter’s wrists. “No. Stop fighting me. You’re the one that wouldn’t listen. Peter, I told you ,” Happy said, his voice full of frustration. “I told you to stop. Why did you piss them off? He was going to hurt me and you just threw yourself into the fire. I don’t care if who are. You’re Peter Parker and my job is to keep you safe. That’s literally what Tony has me doing when I pick you up after school. I’m suppose to keep you safe. You’re a child. I’m the adult. I am the one that should be doing stupid shit to keep you from getting hurt. Not the other way around.”

As Happy continued his ranting, Peter went limp into Happy’s arms. He started to sob-- well, as best as he could without opening his mouth. Not only was it painful, but it was humiliating. Peter wasn’t sure which was worse.

Happy pulled him closer to his chest. “I’m sorry, Peter. I’m so sorry.”

Peter stuck his face close into Happy’s chest to dry off his tears and hide the same on his face.

Happy awkwardly started to rub Peter’s head and while it wasn’t how Tony did it, it was still comforting enough. “It’s gonna be okay, Peter,” he whispered. “I promise. I won’t let you get hurt again.”