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home is behind (the world ahead)

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Everything went perfectly according to plan, right up until it didn’t.


Quentin thought the whole scene with the fire elemental went quite well, actually. It was theatrical, convincing, perfectly executed. And of course it was. Quentin himself had choreographed the whole thing. Even to his own eyes and ears, things felt impressively real—from the residual heat of the fire elemental to the broken concrete and twisted metal lying all over the place. Quentin couldn’t help but mentally congratulate himself. 


The Parker kid was taking it hook, line, and sinker. When the kid rushed over to where Quentin was lying on the ground with his cape singed and hair disheveled, his eyes were so wide with genuine fear that Quentin would have wanted to laugh under different circumstances.


“Mr. Beck! Mr. Beck, a-are you okay?” Peter’s voice was high-pitched with concern, pulling up his mask as he crouched on the ground next to Quentin.


“I’m fine, kid, no worries,” Quentin said with a reassuring smile. He sat up, grimacing as though it hurt, and was gratified when Peter’s expression twisted in sympathy.


“A-are you sure?” Peter helped him stand, looking him anxiously up and down. “Did we do it? Did we win?”


Quentin made a point to look around the scene as though it was new to him, as though he hadn’t designed every detail to make it look like a natural occurrence. “Yes, Peter,” he said, giving the words an emotional weight he knew Peter would pick up on. He smiled tiredly, laid a hand on Peter’s shoulder. “We won.”


Quentin had his next line on the tip of his tongue, about to suggest that they go and get drinks. The team would be in position by now, the illusions all set up just as seamlessly as this one. But the sound of slow clapping drew Quentin’s attention, and the ever-infuriating Nick Fury waltzed out of the shadows like he owned the goddamn place. 


“Nicely done, both of you,” Fury drawled. The tails of his long leather coat flapped in the cool night breeze, and he crossed his arms.


Peter brightened up marginally. “Oh, uh, hi Mr. Fury. Thanks, but Mr. Beck did most of the work,” he admitted, chuckling awkwardly. 


Fury made a noncommittal noise. Behind him, Hill was a couple steps behind, probably keeping lookout. “So, this is it?” Fury was looking at Quentin with his one hawkish eye.


Quentin stifled the flash of irritation he felt. Leave it to Fury to throw a wrench into his carefully coordinated scenarios. “Yes, the fire elemental was the most dangerous,” he affirmed. This hadn’t been in the plan, so he had to be careful about how much to reveal here. “The situation is under control, for now.”


Fury nodded. “I am impressed,” he admitted. “The planet is saved, yet again.”


“Well, this planet,” Quentin said with a tired smile. Fury didn’t appear moved, but out of the corner of his eye he caught the sympathetic look on Peter’s face. God, the kid was too easy to fool. 


“Right. Well, that’s good to hear.” Fury glanced toward Peter. “For the record, Parker, I’m sorry to ruin your vacation.”


“What do you—?” Peter was confused, but he didn’t even get a chance to finish his question as Hill fired off a suppressed shot from the pistol she was holding.


The dart struck Peter in the chest, its brightly colored fletching standing out against the black of his suit. He blinked, eyes wide. “W-what?” Already his eyes were turning glassy, and the kid put a hand to his head, swaying dizzily.


Before anyone could move, Hill turned and shot again, and the dart caught Quentin in the upper thigh, piercing through the green bodysuit with ease. Quentin could only stare, genuinely incredulous. This wasn’t part of the plan.


Quentin had the presence of mind to reach down and pull the tranq dart from his leg, but as soon as he moved from the spot, the whole world seemed to tilt on its axis. He stumbled and went down hard on his knees, breathing hard and trying to blink the black spots out of his vision. Shit. Shit.


Fury was saying something to Hill, but Quentin couldn’t tell what it was. He was lying down of a sudden. That was strange. He didn’t remember falling. He saw Peter stumble and fall, a vague outline against the flickers of fire left over from the elemental illusion, but after that, everything was just black.



Peter woke up with a throbbing headache. He groaned softly, squeezing his eyes shut against the bright light he could feel outside of his closed lids. Was this what a hangover felt like? If so, Peter never wanted to start drinking. The floor was hard and cold against his back.


Slowly, Peter forced his eyes open, squinting against the blur of white light that was his surroundings and feeling like he’d been sleeping like the dead. How long had he been out? His vision started to focus, and he realized the room wasn’t actually that bright, everything was just either white or gray. It was a small room with steel-gray walls on three sides, and the final side was what appeared to be a sheet of reinforced glass. Looking around, Peter realized he was lying in the middle of the room for whatever reason, but there was a narrow mattress in one corner, a steel toilet and sink in another.


It looked like a jail cell, Peter realized. Why would he be in jail, though? He hadn’t done anything wrong.


Peter sat up and found it more difficult than he’d anticipated. His whole body felt loose and heavy, uncoordinated and still sort of tired. Looking down, he realized he was dressed in a set of blue scrubs. His suit, his webshooters, everything else was missing. A chill went down Peter’s spine. “Oh, no. No, no no,” he breathed, finding his feet and pressing up against the transparent fourth wall of the cell.


“No, no, this can’t be happening,” Peter muttered to himself. He banged on the glass with a fist, intending to call out for someone, but his voice was cut off before it even began by a blinding jolt of agony that threw him to the floor.


Peter recognized the twitchy after-effects of electricity only afterwards, as he was lying on the floor and trying to drag air into his lungs, muscles twitchy and painful. The skin of his neck stung sharply for some reason. He reached up with one shaky hand to paw at his neck and found the cool metal of a collar encircling his throat.


What. The. Hell.


Peter felt at the collar with shaking hands, trying to calm his breathing. It was snug, but not so tight that he couldn’t slip two fingers underneath. Just the touch of the metal against his skin felt like the phantom sensation of being choked, though, and Peter pulled at it, desperately hoping that his enhanced strength could simply pull the collar clean off. It dug painfully into the skin of his neck, but Peter just pulled harder, holding his breath.


“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.”


A familiar voice startled Peter, and he let go of the collar, eyes wide.


Fury was standing just outside the cell, hands clasped behind his back. His expression was grim, as always.


“M-mr. Fury?” Peter managed. He stood up shakily and went to the glass again, hesitant to touch but wanting to understand. “What’s going on? Where am I? Where’s Beck?” He had a million questions, but the look on Fury’s face made some vague dread curl up in Peter’s stomach.


“That’s not important right now, Parker. What is important is that you understand that this is a matter of national security.”


“What does that even mean ?!” Peter exclaimed. He was wound tight despite the headache and the aftereffects of the drugs, and his ‘Peter tingle’ was going haywire. “Mr. Fury, I was trying to help! Like you wanted me to! I… I don’t understand why…” He gestured around him, at the cell and the collar. “...why all this?”


Fury fixed him with a stony glare. “Try to see this from my end, Parker. I’ve got an interdimensional cape-wearing magic man telling me the world is coming to an end, and a teenage vigilante with super strength just running around doing whatever the hell he wants. I can’t just sit on my ass and do nothing about that.”


You asked me to come and be Spider-Man and fight these weird monsters!” Peter protested. “And--and Beck! He’s a good guy! He was trying to save our dimension!”


“Really? Are you hearing yourself, Spider-Boy?” Fury crossed his arms from the other side of the glass. “The Elementals might have been a credible threat, but I can’t just take his word about this multiverse bullshit. Until Beck’s story checks out, he’s not going anywhere, either.” 


Now that the world was safe from the threat of the Elementals (thanks to Peter and Quentin), Fury had pounced. Peter silently berated himself for thinking Fury could be trusted.


“Beck’s here, too?” Peter asked, trying and failing not to sound hopeful. There was some part of him that had hoped maybe Beck escaped, but the prospect of not being all by himself in this place was a small comfort. 


“Sure. And don’t get any ideas. This is the Raft, Parker, so I encourage you to get comfortable. You may be here a while.”