Peter Parker was walking home to his apartment, having stopped at Delmar’s on the way. Suddenly, the sound of sirens caught his attention as three blaring fire trucks pelted down the busy street. Refusing to ignore the situation, he quickly tapped the nanotech watch Tony Stark had given him, activating his Iron Spider suit. He webbed to a nearby building and sped through the air after the screaming sirens.
Peter prided himself in knowing Queens like the back of his hand, but he had to admit that these fire engines seemed to be taking him down streets that he barely recognized. Sure, most New York streets looked fairly similar, but he couldn’t pinpoint a memory of ever seeing these buildings before. He pushed the suspicion from his mind as the fire trucks rounded a final corner where Peter could see smoke issuing. He turned the corner to see a warehouse in flames, screams issuing from shut windows. “I’ll get anyone inside!” he yelled as he quickly swung past the fire trucks, not waiting for a reply. To his surprise, he found only one man in the main area of the warehouse. He was running towards Peter with what looked like a bad limp, most likely from the increasing falling beams and structures of the building.
“Sir! Come on, you have to get out of here!” Peter shouted. The man stumbled, grabbing onto Peter’s shoulders to steady himself.
“H-help me,” the man panted, coughing through the thick smoke.
“I’m trying! Come on, man, the door is this way. You’re almost there!” Peter said encouragingly. Suddenly, he felt the man’s weight shift on his shoulders as he felt a sting in his neck, before succumbing to onrushing darkness.
Tony Stark was pacing. It was Saturday morning and the Peter had not come home the night before. It hadn’t been an easy few months for the kid. Since May had died, Peter had been living with the Avengers under Tony’s guardianship. He knew that the kid felt comfortable around the compound, but it still didn’t negate the loss of the last real family member he had left. The sudden death had left Peter skittish, nervous, and had taken a major blow to his confidence and self-presence. Sam, who was the most qualified to deal with these emotional issues, had said that this was to be expected and that the grieving process, especially for a child, could present itself in a variety of ways. A few more minutes into Tony’s pacing, Sam walked through the door looking worried, followed by Steve, Bucky, Bruce, Clint, and Natasha.
“Tony, what happened?” Sam asked, sharply.
“Peter…he…he didn’t come home last night,” Tony said, running a hand through his hair, trying not to completely break down. Ever since Tony had become his guardian, he felt even more of a protective inclination towards the boy, to the point where he’d have been very happy to keep Peter in the compound at all times where Tony could watch him and keep him safe. Clint had called this “parental instincts”. Tony had called it ridiculous.
“Did you try tracking his suit?” Steve asked.
“No, Steve, I didn’t think to try that, funnily enough,” Tony said, his voice dripping with sarcasm, “Of course I tried tracking his suit.”
“And?” Natasha prompted.
“And it led me to an open field. I flew over it and scanned the area. There wasn’t even a sign that Peter’s suit was even there. The tracker led me to no tracker. Peter’s AI automatically sends me a 24 hour history of where Peter went that day and he was taking his usual route home from school until he changed course and headed to that field. It’s like he just disappeared,” Tony said in anguish, rubbing the back of his neck now.
“We’ll find him, Tony,” Steve said.
“How?” Tony replied.
The team did not respond.
Peter woke next a few hours later, the base of his head aching. He found that he was sitting in a metal chair, his hands behind his back, held together by heavy metal cuffs. He was sitting in what seemed to be an empty room, but the whole room was pitch black, except for a small light bulb that hung in the air, illuminating Peter in the chair. He tried to break the cuffs open, but upon placing resistance on the metal, they grew hot and began to burn his skin. He hissed in pain has he relaxed his wrists. The cuffs returned to normal temperature as he tried not to move.
“Like them?” a voice said from the dark void in front of Peter.
“Who’s there?” Peter yelled back.
“Ah ah, Mr. Parker,” the voice said calmly. “We answer questions when they are asked of us. Hasn’t Tony Stark ever taught you manners?”
Peter felt a prickle in the back of his neck as he felt cold liquid seep up into his scalp. His vision became blurry, black spots dancing across his vision. He felt sick.
“I said, do you like them,” the voice said again, so silkily soft, laced with malice. “The cuffs?”
“Can’t say that I…do,” Peter gasped, pinching his eyes shut to try and dissuade some of the dizziness that was bombarding his system.
“They’re power dampening, so don’t think that you can break your way out of them. Although, you might be wanting to here soon…”
“Who. Are. You.” Peter said through gritted teeth. The man stepped forward, footsteps reverberating around the room. He came into the light in front of Peter. Peter’s mouth fell open when he saw that the man in front of him was the man that he had helped out of the burning building.
“You…You’re from the fire,” Peter said numbly.
“My name is Quentin Beck. Call me Mysterio. Don’t worry, the fire’s long gone now,” Beck said with a smile.
“Why do you have me here,” Peter said, his mind working uncharacteristically slow.
“Well that is an interesting question,” Beck replied. “How about we send a message to our friend Tony Stark and ask him.”
Tony was about to lose it. They had all searched the surrounding buildings near the field to no success. They arrived back at the compound, each one of them trying to think of what to do next. Tony was just about ready to jump out of his skin with F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s voice reverberated around the living room.
“Boss, there is an incoming video message. Would you like me to patch it through?”
“Yes. Yes, put it through,” Tony said frantically. If it was Peter…
The screen in front of him flickered into life as the other Avengers grouped around him. There sat Peter, bound to a chair. He looked confused and scared, but otherwise unhurt. Tony breathed out a sound somewhere between a gasp and a groan as another man stepped into focus.
“Hello, Mr. Stark. Long time no see,” the man said.
“Or maybe…you don’t even remember me? The name is Quentin Beck. How’s the B.A.R.F. technology coming along? You know, pretty shitty name for something so brilliant. You know that technology is mine, Stark. I developed it, hoping to redefine the world with it. But instead, here you are using it for your little therapy project. It’s time for me to show you what it could have been. What it still could be.”
Beck walked around to face Peter once more. He bent down to look him in his face. “Now Spider-Man. Tell me, do you actually like spiders?”
“Go to hell,” Peter spat.
“That’s what I thought,” Beck said with a callous smile. Peter heard two clicks from behind Beck’s back as he felt the cold sensation traveling up his brain stem. He felt something prickle on his leg as he gasped and looked down. Hundreds of spiders littered the ground as they scuttled towards him and began to crawl up his legs.
“No, no, no,” Peter begged, trying to kick the spiders away. He sensed them crawl up the back of his chair and around his arms and chest. Out of instinctual terror, he tried fighting the cuffs around his wrists, only to have them burn horribly at the resistance, making Peter scream aloud. He tried to relax his hands as more and more spiders crawled up his body, covering his chest, neck, and around his head.
“Please...Please. Stop it, stop, no, no, please,” Peter whimpered, his body shaking with pent up adrenaline that he could not release, lest he continue to burn his wrists.
Miles away, Tony and the team watched in horror as Peter seemed to fight against something. He was looking down around him as if something were on his body, but there was nothing there.
“Please...Please. Stop it, stop, no, no, please,” they heard him whimper.
Peter began to gag and splutter as his eyes tightly closed. A few quickening breaths later, Peter let out a horrible, blood curdling scream.
“What are they doing to him?” Clint asked, horrorstruck.
Tony wanted to yell, scream at the camera even though he knew Peter would never hear him. He ran his hand across his face, moaning, “There’s nothing there, Pete.”
His heart stopped when he heard the kid say his name. “P-please Mr. Stark. I don’t know where I am. Please…help me. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry,” Peter whimpered.
“Tony Stark isn’t coming for you because he doesn’t care about you. You are worthless to him. I bet he’s glad that you’re gone. I’m doing him a favor.”
“No kid, don’t listen to him!” Tony yelled at the screen. “Let him go, you son of a bitch.”
Beck walked in front of the camera in front of Peter’s crying form, “You’ll find him when I’m ready for you to find him,” he said, now unsmiling.
The screen went black and Tony sunk to the floor.