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
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
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
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
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.
“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.”
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
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.”