Moving his chair onto its back two legs, Tony leaned and balanced against the wall in an attempt to find some comfort. “Well, you did it this time kid.”
Peter Parker lifted his head from where it was resting on his folded arms on the cold steel table. “I knew they weren’t up to anything good. I just had to wait until they did something.”
“They did ‘something’ over international waters.” Tony pointed out. “You are just lucky that I have a tracker on your ass or at best you would still be a stowaway half way to Brazil or somewhere by now.”
“I could’ve handled them Mr. Stark. I don’t always need you to bail me out.” The word ‘bail’ was fitting for their current situation. They were both being detained in an Interpol interrogation room. Peter had personally never dealt with the group, but Tony seemed to be calm.
“And if and when that day comes. I will buy you a cookie.” He settled the chair back onto all four legs as the door to the room opened.
“Gentlemen.” A suited man greeted as he was walking in. He looked to be the typical government worker. A gray suit with a white shirt and blue tie. He was carrying in each of his hands a water bottle. As the man sat down, he offered each detainee a bottle. “A long night huh?”
Rubbing the sleep from his eyes, Peter answered, “Very, I have homework I still need to do.”
“And to top it all off, you did this without finishing your homework? Your aunt is going to kill us both.” Tony declared throwing himself into the back of the chair.
“My name is Agent Garrett Boseman. I have been charged with retrieving as much information as I can before my agency is ordered to hand you over.”
Peter’s head turned to Tony. “Hand us over to who?”
Looking into the lens of the security camera in the corner of the room that he knew was being watched by many, Tony said with exhaustion heavy in his voice, “Shit, I’d rather deal with Interpol then her right now.”
“After the phone call I just listened in on, I would have to agree with that Mr. Stark.”
“Who are we being handed over to?” Peter requested again, then added, “Do I get my one phone call?”
Tony started to play with his watch, it was almost midnight. “This isn’t prison, it is an Interpol interrogation room.” Cutting his eyes to the agent, “We don’t have any rights because the fact we are sitting here means someone deemed us an international risk.”
“You would be correct Mr. Stark.”
Pushing himself off the edge of the table in a teenage huff, Peter’s chair made a slight squeak. “An international risk? We didn’t do anything.”
“Then who blew up the yacht that was carrying all those weapons?” Looking to Tony, “Our salvage team will be combing the waters for weeks trying to find all the debris from your mess.”
This wasn’t the first mess Tony had ever made, and probably wouldn’t be the last. He had taken measures years ago to ensure that whatever mess he created was cleaned up. “Let me have a phone and I will get you some help from Damage Control.”
“Damage Control has already offered their assistance. However, due to your joint ownership of the department, my bosses feel that their aide in this situation could be bias.”
“We didn’t do it.” Peter stressed.
Garrett really did hate dealing with teenagers, especially in the interrogation setting. They all believed they were the smartest person in the room and whatever they said would be taken as the God’s honest truth. “Then who did?”
“It was those guys on the boat. When Mr. Stark showed up, they did something and the whole thing just went kaboom!” The teenager gestured with his hands something that resembled a mushroom cloud with his last word.
Leaning back in his seat, Boseman challenged the ‘story’. “We haven’t found any survivors or bodies.”
“In my experience, I have found that an explosion of that caliber wouldn’t leave either.” Tony contributed. “I grabbed the boy just in time before they detonated the explosion. A few seconds in delay and neither of us would be sitting with you right now.”
“Why were you even on the boat Mr. Parker?”
The simple question caught Peter off guard. It was an easy enough question for him to answer, but the use of his name was unexpected. He was still in his red spider suit, sans mask, but still no one knew his real identity. Mr. Stark had gone through painful measures to ensure it. “How did you know my name?”
“We are Interpol. Your little costume can’t hide you from us.”
Tony bent forward towards the agent. “I know you are trying to scare the kid, but I think we can all be honest here. Someone gave you that information, correct?”
Lifting and lowering his eyebrows to confirm Tony’s assumption, Garrett took a degree of enjoyment in his response. “I’ll give you three guesses and the first two don’t count.”
“Should have just stayed on the boat.” Tony groaned rubbing his hands over his face.
Hiding the smile that was threatening to appear, Boseman repeated, “Mr. Parker, why were you on the boat?”
I followed them.” Peter explained, not seeing any malice or wrong doing in what he had done hours prior. “I was on a field trip to the docks at the harbor, you know, for oceanography class. I saw these guys looking all kinds of shady, so I tagged them.”
“You tagged them?” Boseman was given limited information regarding Peter Parker. Correction, he had everything on Peter Parker. He was a teenager living in Queens, New York in an apartment with his Aunt. On the other hand, the information on Spiderman was scarce. “What on earth compelled you to do that?”
Puffing his chest out in pride, Peter informed his captor, “I’m an Avenger.”
“In training.” Tony was quick to add.
“Am not.” The teenager retorted to Tony then started to speak to the agent again. “I saw this guy.”
“One of the shady guys?” Garrett asked.
“Yes, this guy turned blue, and into a woman.”
Folding his hands, Boseman moved himself closer to the table and leaned in. “A shady guy turned into a blue woman?”
“Exactly! She had two other guys following her with these big ol’ crates. They all went to the boat.”
“I’m sorry. I tried to have his aunt raise him better than that.” Tony turned in his seat to speak to Peter. “Just because someone is blue doesn’t mean that they are shady. That is called discrimination."
“Under normal settings, I would agree with you. However, the evidence does support that Mr. Parker was correct, they were…shady.” Then he asked Peter, “Tell me, what else did you see?”
Grateful that someone believed him, Peter was about to start in on his exciting tale of tagging the group around the docks and sneaking onto the boat. Before he could start, the sound of men talking in the other room could be heard. The other room’s audio ceased with the new sound of a soft metallic ‘pop’ of the room’s door unlocking. The light that the opening brought into the room was blinding. All Tony could make out was the outline of whoever was standing in the entryway. It took but a quick moment for Tony to figure out who had entered. “Hey there Rhodey. What brings you out at midnight?”
The Deputy Secretary of the Department of Mutant Affairs, James Rhodes fully entered the room. Sticking his hands into his suit pants, he took on a more relaxed stance. Taking in the sight that was in front of him, he had to find some humor in finding his best friend and his protegee confined to Interpol custody. “What else, your tin-canned ass.”
Offended by the comment, Tony corrected his friend, “It’s nano-tech, not tin.”
Indifferent to whatever Tony had implanted, installed, or injected in or onto his body to produce his suit, Rhodes pushed on with the objectives he had been asked to handle. “Agent, this interview is over. Mr. Parker and Mr. Stark are both supervised under the Sokovia Accords and as American citizens will be taken into the custody of the Department of Mutant Affairs.”
At the mention of the department, Tony looked to Rhodes and pleaded, “Please leave me here.”
Garrett Boseman wasn’t going to cower to a Deputy Secretary. This type of investigation was the kind of stuff that had the potential to build careers, can make a name for someone like himself. He refused to let it pass through his fingers. “This incident occurred thirty-two miles from the furthest point of New York Harbor. That explosion happened on international water, it is an Interpol investigation.”
Rhodey allowed a small smile to appear that resembled a cat about to pounce upon its pray. “Maritime Law agent. The boat was rented from a charter company in Manhattan. The owner of the company swears that every boat of his flies the American flag. We also have intel the suggest strongly that most of the passengers on the vessel at the time of the explosion were American citizens.” Nodding his head at the two suited figures in the doorway to communicate that they may enter, Rhodes continued, “I would hate to insult an Interpol agent like yourself by having to explain that crimes which occur on the high seas fall under the jurisdiction of the country of the flag flying, and in cases there isn’t a flag, the nationality of the passengers aboard.”
“Boom! Mic drop Rhodey!” Tony proclaimed as he gestured the action.
Looking to the men who had just entered with annoyance thick in his speech, Rhodes ordered, “Get them out of here.”
Agent Boseman watched as a man stood behind each ‘prisoner’ and guided them to a standing position. “They are still in violation of the Sokovia Accords. That is an international law.”
“No one is arguing that. However, it is currently a domestic situation that will be handled as such until the United Nations requests differently.” Taking his hands out of his pockets, James reached into his jacket and pulled out a gold business card holder. Tony gave it to him as a gift when he was appointed. Handing Garrett a card, he advised, “Please if you have any questions, contact my office. I will be more than happy to help.”
Rhodes waited a brief moment for any reply the Interpol agent might have. Seeing that there wasn’t and would not be any, he bobbed his head towards the door, cueing his people to escort Tony and Peter out. Having full faith in his staff to do as he directed, James Rhodes left the room knowing that Tony and Peter would be behind him.
Passing through the doorway out of the room, Tony waited until there weren’t so many agents around him. Speeding up his pace to catch up to Rhodes he asked in a hush tone to prevent others from hearing him. “How pissed is she?” Peter heard the question. Once Tony started to walk faster to get closer to Rhodes, he had done the same. He had never seen Tony look worried. He had seen the man upset, angry, happy, witty, but never worried. Tony was afraid of someone. A person didn’t have to be a genius to know who incited that emotion in the Ironman.
Not looking back, Rhodes informed Tony that it wasn’t just Interpol’s wrath he had temporarily saved him from, “Let’s just say you are extremely fortunate that I am here.”
May Parker had been praying for, and at the same time, dreading the knock on the front door to her Queen’s apartment. When the sound finally, after hours of waiting, echoed through the apartment, she felt her heart drop into the pit of her stomach. It wasn’t a ‘friendly’ knock, if such a thing was real. This sounded more authoritarian and commanding. The knock wasn’t the prelude to requesting to be permitted into her home, this was a demanding sound, ordering her to open up and get out of the way. Getting to the door, she stood on tippy toes to see through the peep hole out into the hallway. It didn’t do any good, all she could see was the back of someone’s head. May saw enough with the limited vision of the hole to know that the person, a man it seemed, was alone. He was not dressed as a police officer, she knew that he could still be police just in street clothes. She couldn’t stop her mind from running through the possibilities of what awaited her on the other side of the door. Don’t police always travel in pairs? Stealing a quick glance to the wall clock, she scolded herself for the action. She had known the exact time for the past three hours, ever since Peter didn’t come home in time for curfew. She had been constantly checking the time since nine thirty.
Unbolting the door and releasing the chain lock, May opened the door wide and inhaled deeply. She spat it all out at once, wanting to get everything out and avoid any pleasantries or police procedures. “I am May Parker. Yes, my nephew is Peter Parker. Yes, he lives here. No, I haven’t seen him since this morning, and he knows he is to be home by nine thirty on weeknights. I haven’t heard from him nor have any of his friends. Please just tell me that he is alive.”
The man was dressed in a blue and black flannel button up shirt with a black leather jacket over it. There was a nagging feeling in the back of her mind that the man was familiar to her, but for the life of her, she couldn’t place him. When the door opened, he shoved his cell phone into the back pocket of his dark blue jeans. When May started speaking, his eyebrows went so far up, she was sure they would disappear into his hairline.
Breathing heavy after her improv speech, trying to catch her breath and at the same time emotionally prepare herself for whatever the man would have in response to what she had said. May watched as the man processed everything that he had just heard and relaxed his features. “He’s alive.”
“Oh thank God.” She exhaled, her legs felt like jelly.
“We’ve met once before, but it was a crazy day.” The man explained as he held out his hand in greeting. “Clint Barton.”
“Of course, I’m sorry. It has been an awful night.” Realizing that it was past midnight and the hallway wasn’t the best or most polite way to have a conversation, she moved out of the doorway to allow him entry into the apartment.
“Thank you.” Clint said walking past her into the living room. “Lose Peter often?” He wanted to take the words back as soon as he said it. It did sound like a criticism of her parenting and that wasn’t the impression he wanted to make within the first half minute in her home. Turning to May he clarified on his question. “I mean you had that whole speech prepared and ready to go as soon as someone came-a-knockin.”
“I knew something was wrong.” While true she had a feeling, she knew she was only able to identify the feeling because Peter had done stuff like this before. “And yes, Peter tends to get ‘lost’ frequently. I’ve tried to set rules and guidelines, but…”
“He’s a teenager.” Clint finished for her. “Got one myself, just a couple of years younger than Peter. Probably doesn’t help that he has enhanced abilities and the need to help the ‘little guys’ out in the world.”
Sitting on the couch, she gestured for her visitor to do the same. “No, it doesn’t help. What happened? Is he in some kind of trouble?”
Taking her up on her offer, Clint sat down. “Some stuff did happen and yes, Peter is in a bit of hot water with Interpol over it, but he’s not alone. Tony Stark was, and still is, with him. I was asked to come get you and bring you to the Avengers’ compound. The Department of Mutant Affairs has a satellite office there. Once they are released from Interpol’s custody, Peter and Tony will be taken there for questioning. Peter is a minor, so it has been requested for you to sit in on the questioning.”
“If he is in Interpol custody already, aren’t they questioning him without me? Why are the rules different for the Department?”
“They aren’t, the DMA can question him without you being present, they just prefer not to.”
“The DMA or the Secretary?”
“It is just a lot easier for me personally to think of them one in the same.” Clint confided with a smirk. “By the way, I heard that Peter was still in his suit, so I am sure he would appreciate it if you grab him of set of clothes to change into.”
Feeling relief at the suggestion that would allow her to contribute in some productive way to the situation, May quickly got up. “Of course, clothes are always a good thing to have.” She commented as she left to go down the hallway and into a room that Clint assumed was Peter’s. Taking out his cell phone to check his messages, he heard May call to him from the bedroom, “Should I pack him some dinner? He probably hasn’t eaten since lunch, if he even had that.”
“Don’t worry about food for Peter. They will either feed him on the plane, or at the compound.” He replied as she reemerged into the living room with a red bag that had a white Nike check logo on it crisscrossed across her body.
“When will he arrive?” She asked.
“I don’t know. It all depends on the Department and Interpol’s pissing match.” Clint crudely answered as he offered to take the bag from May and started walking towards the door to leave. “It would just be best if you were there waiting in case someone tries something while Peter is in the Department’s custody. A legal guardian present is always a great way to stop any attempt of the hostile interrogation of a child.”
May grabbed her purse and car keys from the small table next to the front door. Clint was waiting for her in the hallway as she turned off the lights and locked the door behind her. Following him down the hall she asked, “You think they will be hostile towards him?”
“I’d rather not find out.” He said as he passed the elevator in favor of going down the stairwell. If anyone tries anything, Tony and I will be around to stop it. It will just escalate from there. Absolutely no good way for that scenario to end without everyone being arrested. It’s just better if you are there and identify yourself. That way it stops before it even starts.” He stopped to give her a encouraging smile. “That is the worst-case scenario. Odds are the people from DMA will just talk with him and release him into your custody. Everything should be done before the sun comes up.”
She knew that Peter had in the past been implicated in some high-risk events. After May discovered what he was doing she made her nephew confess everything that he had done for the past year or so. It turned out to be a lot of stuff. Somehow the child had gotten to Germany at one point. Tony flew him there she later pieced together under the ruse of taking the teenager for an internship training weekend and was in a fight at an airport that left him injured. When May thought about everything that had occurred recently and the trouble that resulted from it, never had she been picked up in the middle of the night by an Avenger and taken to their compound to act as a shield for her nephew from aggressive questioning. She still didn’t even know what happened that was so bad that Interpol was investigating it.
Walking out of the building, May continued to follow Clint as he approached a dark colored SUV parked against the curb right outside. Forcing herself to ignore that he had parked in a fire lane, she paused as he opened the passenger door for her then threw the red bag into the back seat. Waiting until he was in the car and pulling onto the road, she probed for answers to the multiple questions she had about what took place hours before. “So, what happened? Why is Interpol involved in this?”
Keeping his eyes on the road Clint replied, “I don’t have the entire story yet, so keep that in mind. From what I understand, Peter was somehow involved in a weapon smuggling attempt gone wrong and blew up a yacht.” Putting his hand up to stop any of May’s attempts to interrupt, he glanced at her. “He is fine, not a scratch on him. The explosion happened over international waters, so Interpol grabbed him." Returning to the road he added, “Still not sure how that happened if Tony was there, he should have just been able to grab Peter and fly away without Interpol even knowing they were there. The Department of Mutant Affairs is intervening on their behalf to get them released.”
“You don’t work for the Department, do you.” It was a statement, not a question. “No offense, but why are you here and not some agents from the Department, or even Interpol officials.?”
“No, I do not work for them. I am just picking you up and taking you up state.”
“It’s because of your wife isn’t it? She is the Secretary. She asked you to come get me.”
“That would be Kate.” May noticed the smile that appeared on the driver’s face at the mention of his wife’s name, but then the face turned cold and he once again met her eyes. “Listen, I am going to be honest with you. I am beyond infuriated at Peter and Tony right now, but I’m not going to let anything happen to them, nor will Kate. I am saying this because I plan to have a few choice words with them, and I don’t want you to be caught off guard.”
“Why are you mad at them?”
“They know the rules and went against them. While most of the time, I can give two shits about what the Ironass and Spiderlad do, this time it landed at my door. What they did was stupid and reckless and as a result, my very pregnant wife, who is supposed to be on bedrest, was awoken by an ass chewing from the President two hours ago.”
“She only found out about this two hours ago?” That seemed a bit late for a government department leader to be notified of an international incident involving two of the Avengers.
“Rhodes, that’s Deputy Secretary James Rhodes, was trying to handle it all without telling her until it was over and just brief her on it in the morning. It’s kind of his show until Kate is back from maternity leave. The President didn’t like the way Rhodey was handling the situation and brought Kate into it.”
“I know they are coming to New York but where are they now?”
Searching his mind for the answer, Clint gave her what he had. “Last I heard, Washington.”
“Why isn’t Secretary Barton there?” May questioned, thinking that if the President was making midnight phone calls about this, she would assume part of the “chewing out’ Barton told her about would include an order to report to the Oval Office.
Again, turning to Mrs. Parker, Clint educated her to the real reason he was acting as chauffeur tonight. “You are the only reason I was able to convince Kate to stay in New York and not fly down the D.C.”
Decoding the message, May understood why Clint was the one who came to her and not a government official. “You played the ‘mom card’.”
“Damn straight I did.” He returned, sounding very proud of himself. “Like I told you, got a teenage boy myself at home. Asked her to put herself in your shoes. Her kid being alone after a horrible event and questioned intensely by scary government men in suits. Swayed her to hang out at the compound to make sure that no one tried to intimidate the kid, or you.”
“I’m here, so I guess it worked.”
“It did.” Clint agreed, elongating the pronunciation of ‘did’, indicating that there was more to the story. “However, I played the card a little too hard. Forgot about the pregnancy hormones.” He used the turn signal before making a left turn onto the road which would take them out of the city. “I would have been here a half an hour ago, but I had to make sure she was done crying and understood that I was speaking in hypotheticals.”
That made May feel bad, she was feeling responsible for dragging Clint away from his upset pregnant wife, who was taken off bedrest due to her nephew’s actions. “For what it’s worth, I’m sorry.”
“You ma’am have nothing to apologize for. Peter and Tony on the other hand are about to have a ‘come to Jesus’ with me.”
She knew she should defend Peter but there was nothing she could say. They didn’t know the whole story yet, but what they did have sounded a lot like Peter bit off more than he or apparently Tony, could chew. “She is on bedrest and is still working?”
“She gets daily briefings, and she advises at that time. Really, it’s the only thing she does now. Rhodes is a great Deputy and handles ninety-nine percent of the Department’s business. Tonight was an abnormality, you know, with the big bang and everything. She has a medical condition that is aggravated by stress. Being pregnant is stressful enough without being the Secretary and having a pre-existing condition."
It was unknown to her how long they would be driving. May had never been to the compound before, and the directional term of ‘up state’ had a wide assortment of meanings depending on who the speaker was. It was best to play it safe and attempt to make it a somewhat less awkward drive with Clint by taking the focus off her nephew and Mr. Stark. “Girl or boy?”
“I am confident that it will be one or the other.” Clint dryly joked with a deadpan expression.
“You guys don’t know?” May asked, genuinely curious in the mystery. “You don’t hear about people doing that anymore.”
“Kate thought it would be ‘fun’,” Clint took his hands off the sterring wheel to gesture air quotes for the word ‘fun’. “to not know and just find out when Vee is born.”
“Vee?” May went through her brain trying to figure out what ‘Vee’ was short for. What gender-neutral name started with a ‘V’?
“Cool, huh?” He said sending a smile in her direction. “It is what I named the kid. He or she will be my fifth, and the Roman numeral for that is a V.”
“Creative.” She commented wryly, not really knowing what to say in response to that.
Now he laughed, and the smile reached his eyes. “That’s a word for it. Kate was a tad more ‘colorful’ with her descriptor. Unfortunately for her, I think it has caught on. Our other kids are calling the baby that, as are all our friends and family now.”
“Vee can be short for something I’m sure. I just hope whatever Peter did doesn’t cause any harm to your wife or Vee.”
“Doubtful. Believe it or not, Kate is currently just the ‘face’ of the department. Like I said, she’s supposed to be on bedrest. Once Rhodes gets there with the boys, he will take over the specifics. Kate is just running interference now to buy them time to get to the sanctuary of the compound. Anything else that needs to be done, Kate can do from home and be fine.”
“Well, the sooner we get there, the sooner this all can be over. Let’s get this taken care of so everyone can get home, back to bed, and Peter can start being grounded for the rest of his life.”
Applying pressure to the accelerator to increase their speed Clint approved of May’s plan. “Works for me.”