"So," Peter drawled as he stepped out of the car. It was one of Tony's many Audis that looked so out of place in these woods. "Why Vermont?"
"Ben and Jerry's has a factory here."
Peter rolled his eyes as he slammed the door to the car shut. "I really doubt you dragged me a thousand miles just to go to an ice cream factory."
"First off, Mr. AP student, it's only like 400 miles. Stop being so dramatic," Tony moved to the back of the car and Peter followed.
"Still. What's with the sudden trip?" He pulled open the trunk and pulled out his bag.
Tony was pulling his bag out while he answered, "Why can't we just go on a trip before you leave us for those nerds?"
Peter paused and stared down at Tony incredulously. "Wait. Is that what this is about? Are you seriously taking me on this trip to guilt me into changing my decision?"
"Your decision? Now, now. Let's not get ahead of ourselves. You still have a few months before everything is settled."
It all suddenly made sense why Tony was taking him on this trip. Tony refusing to even make eye contact just convinced him even more. "Mr. Stark, c'mon...not this again."
"Peter, I'm not trying to change your mind. I'm just asking you to think it over. That's it."
"I did think it over. And I decided I want MIT. I told you and May that."
"Pete…" Tony sighed and Peter hated how defeated he sounded, but he was tired of being second-guessed. He was going to MIT.
"I'm not changing my mind. So, if you want I can put these bags right back in the car and we can go home." Peter crossed his arms over his chest.
"No, Peter. Stop. I'm sorry. Let's enjoy this weekend. That's not what this was about." He paused. "Besides, I told Happy and May I was keeping you all weekend so if I let you back to Queens, there's no telling what you might walk into."
Peter gagged at the thought Tony planted in his mind. Happy and May had been dating for a few months now. They had gotten closer over the five years Peter was gone. Especially when Tony hid himself from May because it was too painful of a reminder of what he lost and Happy was the one that kept her in touch with the Stark family. They didn't start officially going out until the world was returned to its original population count. Peter came back from a school trip to see them kissing-- yuck.
"Alright, sorry, Underoos. Don't upchunk on me."
"Then don't make comments like that about my aunt and her boyfriend. It's gross." Peter tried not to feel too bitter at the mention of his aunt’s boyfriend. She had a husband. She had Ben. And a selfish part of Peter didn't ever want her to replace that. But she deserved to be happy; Ben would want her to be happy.
"Okay, I'll stop," Tony said with a laugh as he pulled the duffle bag over his shoulder. He started walking to the cabin they rented and paused to look over his shoulder after a few steps. "You coming in or sleeping outside?"
Peter huffed and grabbed his bag, quickly following him to the cabin. He walked inside, expecting the usual Stark faire, but was surprised to see a normal cabin. It was small with only one open space that was a bedroom, sitting room, and kitchen all in one.
There were two beds with a bedside table separating them. On the other side of the room was the kitchen with a small fridge, sink, and stove. It wasn't anything too fancy, but people staying here didn't want fancy. Between the beds and the kitchen was the table and couch.
Peter wasn't surprised that there wasn't a TV in sight; his phone didn't even have data reception. He'd be lying if he said he wasn't going to miss his phone. Hopefully, Ned remembered to log into his snapchat and keep his streaks up. All three of them.
"This looks nice," Peter said genuinely. He and Ben used to go camping during the summer. This was still more glamorous than sleeping in a sleeping bag and tent, but it felt similar enough to make Peter's heart ache.
"It's just a little hole in the wall place. Rhodey found it. We thought it'd be a nice spot."
"For a completely normal getaway, huh?" He still wasn’t believing his claim that this had nothing to do with his college choice.
"Peter...can't we just spend the weekend together without your teenage angst?" Tony sighed heavily, dropping his suitcase to the floor by one of the beds.
"Not when I know this is a set up to change my mind." Peter raised his eyebrows.
"Pete, can you just hear me out please?"
"No! I don't get it! You've pushed MIT to me ever since we met. I told you I didn't want to get in because of you and then you back off and I get in. I got in all because of me and then suddenly I can't go anymore?"
Tony stared at him with a glare. "You're forgetting something pretty important in there, Peter. Like the fact that you disappeared and were gone for five years. For you, it may have only been a moment, but for us, that was years of thinking you were dead."
"It wasn't such a walk in the park for me either! It felt like a minute and I come back and the entire world is different. Half of my friends are off at college! They're old enough to drink now! And I'm still stuck in high school. Everything has changed and I'm still the same!"
"You wanna tell that to your aunt? That you'd rather be the one that lost someone than being the one that was lost?" Tony took a step forward.
Peter felt anger like he never felt burn within him and he took an equal step forward.
"Don't put words in my mouth! I'm not belittling what you guys went through, I just want you both to understand that you can't let it control you." Peter had never really went up against Tony like this about anything, but he needed to now. This was his future. "May loves me. She would want what's best for me. And I know that's going away for school. It's going to my dream school and challenging myself and learning to be on my own. I need that."
"What's wrong with Columbia? It's a challenge, you fit there well, and it's close to home." Tony argued, making Peter even more frustrated because he wasn't listening.
"I'm going to MIT. If you want to take back your offer of helping out, fine. I'll get a summer job and start saving up--."
"Oh, come on, Peter. I'm not a monster. I promised. Whatever your scholarships don't cover I'll pay for." Tony huffed.
It had taken quite a long time for Peter to agree to that, but Tony was insistent. He said he had more than enough money and Peter deserved it. He earned his education without worrying about paying for student loans. Peter only agreed when he told himself once he had a steady job, he'd pay Tony back for every penny.
"Then fine. I'm going and don't bother visiting if you don't want," Peter said, even though nothing would kill him more than Tony not visiting him.
"Peter, why would I not visit you when the problem is you being so far I won't get to see you that often?"
"Because you're stubborn," Peter responded without a beat of hesitation.
"While that is very true, you come before my pride 100% of the time. I promise," Tony told him and Peter knew he wasn't joking.
"So, then why won't you let me go away? You and May can visit every weekend if you want. I'll make sure to come home once a month for family dinner," Peter promised.
"We already lived so long without you," Tony said.
"Don't do that," Peter said, trying to ignore the growing guilt. "Don't say that. It's not fair."
"Neither is having to live without you."
Peter paused and took a calming breath before saying one more time, "MIT is my dream school. That's where I belong."
"Peter…" Tony said and Peter knew he wasn't convinced and would continue to argue the point with him.
Peter huffed and looked away, trying to blink back tears of frustration. "Fine. Don't have my back. See if I care." Then he grabbed his duffle and stormed to the bathroom.
"Peter, stop it. Where are you going?" Tony called after him, even though it wasn't that far away.
"I'm taking a shower and going to bed."
"We weren't done with this conversation."
Tony groaned and then after a moment, asked, "What about dinner? I've got stuff in the backpack I can heat up."
"I'm not hungry," Peter replied, throwing open the door. He didn't need the entire duffle bag, but he didn't want to waste more time in that room with Tony to look through for his pajamas.
"You have to eat something," he said, sounding as frustrated as Peter was feeling. Good.
"No I don't," he said as he turned around just to see the look of helplessness on Tony's face before slamming the bathroom door shut.
He quickly turned the shower on even if he wasn't going to get in yet so Tony couldn't hear him. He felt like he was gonna cry and he wanted to. College was supposed to be exciting. He had looked forward to MIT for years and now that the moment was finally here, it was horrible. It was nothing like he'd imagined. But of course, that was before everything.
No one was listening to him. Not even May.
He scrubbed at his eyes with the heels of his hands until he started seeing stars behind his eyelids. Then he pulled them away and grabbed his phone from his pocket. Through his blurry vision, he clicked his messaging app and blinked a few times, trying to clear the tears from his vision so he could find his conversation with Rhodey.
He clicked it and immediately started practically stabbing his screen with his thumbs. As he typed his message, he muttered it out loud. "Your best friend is denser than a brick. He's a stupid asshole that never shuts up even for a second to listen to anyone else."
He clicked send before he could even think and was even angrier to see the immediate failed message he got. There was no reception. He groaned, stopping himself from chucking it across the room.
He shoved it back into his pocket and dropped his head into his hands, letting the tears continue. Ben used to tell him that if he felt like he needed to cry, there was nothing wrong with letting the tears out. He encouraged Peter to sit somewhere and just let them out because he said it was healthy. It was good to get it all out.
So, Peter stayed there crying long enough for his tears to stop and his frustration to subside. He felt better once the tears stopped and he stood up to shut the shower off, even though he never even got into it. He took his time changing into a pair of pajamas, purposely wearing the old MIT sweatshirt Tony gave to him.
He stepped out of the bathroom, wanting to see the look on Tony's face when he saw it, but Tony was already asleep in his bed.
Part of Peter was relieved so he didn't have to get into another argument with him but another part of him was pissed off that Tony didn't bother to stay awake for him when he got out.
It really shouldn't bother him, but he was a hormonal teenager and it did.
So he stomped to his bed, tossed his bag to the side, threw off his covers and got into bed. He pulled the blankets back over him and turned his back to Tony's side of the room, even if he was more comfortable the other way.
He glared at the wall until sleep finally came to him what felt like hours later.
When he opened his eyes again, he heard the shower running in the bathroom. Still, he hesitantly turned around to look behind him and ensure that Tony's bed was empty before rolling over completely.
He reached his hand over blindly to grab his cell phone from the dresser. Maybe he had even a sliver of a bar and if not, he had some offline games he could mess around with while he waited.
But his hand only hit the wood of the dresser. He frowned, looking over to see if maybe he just missed it by a few inches. He didn't; there was no phone there.
Peter sat up immediately, staring at the vacant spot he knew he left his phone the night before. He leaned over the side of the bed and didn't see it on the floor. He left it right there! How the hell could it just disappear--....
Peter's head whipped to glare at the closed bedroom door. Of course, he took it. Because he saw himself as some type of father figure to Peter (Peter did too; no matter how angry he was, he couldn't deny that), he felt like he had the right to confiscate his phone. Probably because of his attitude the night before.
He stared back down at his lap, still glaring as he crossed his arms over his chest. So what? He didn't need his dumb phone here. There wasn't any reception anyway so--.
Peter's eyes widened when he remembered the message he typed out to Rhodey. While it didn't send, it would still stay there as a failed message. What would Tony think if he saw what Peter typed about him?
Just as quick as the guilt came, he chased it away. Who cared if Tony read it? Peter wanted him to. He wanted him to know what an asshole he was being.
He'd say it right to his face when he got out of that bathroom.
He looked around the small room for anything else to distract himself with and his eyes stopped roaming when they saw the two plates on the table. It was pancakes with bacon and orange juice. Tony must have ordered it in.
His stomach growled immediately at the sight and smell of food. He didn't want to admit it, but he needed to eat. Even if in some botched attempt at teenage rebellion was refusing to eat, his body refused to let that work out for him. Not with his metabolism.
With another hesitant look towards the bathroom door, Peter crawled out of bed and went over to the table. He sat down and began eating. Once he got one taste, he couldn't get enough.
He took a sip of the orange juice to wash down the pancakes just as the shower turned off. It was also the same time his spidey sense tinged, making Peter wince.
The bathroom door opened and Peter frowned.
That was the first time Tony ever set off his spidey sense.
There wasn't any malice to Tony's voice. In fact, he was talking as if nothing happened the night before.
It made Peter even angrier.
"Well, without my alarm, how am I supposed to wake up?" Peter's grip tightened so hard on his fork that he felt the metal bend in his grip.
He couldn't see Tony, but he knew from the moment of silence that followed that he was probably standing there in shock. "I'm sorry...what?"
Peter whirled around to glare at him. "My phone."
"Without my phone I have no alarm and with no alarm I will sleep in."
Tony blinked and Peter stared as water droplets dripped from his hair to his t-shirt. "Okay. I'm sorry, I'm not following."
Peter huffed, rolling his eyes. "I know you took my phone."
Tony immediately scrunched his face in mock surprise. "What? No I didn't. Why the hell would I take your phone? I'd get glass in my thumbs from the amount of cracks in that thing."
Peter turned back around and stabbed his pancake harshly. "Yeah. Whatever."
He heard Tony walk a few steps closer and then stopped just behind him. "What are you eating?"
Finally, Tony seemed to be getting as agitated as Peter was. "I know that, Sherlock. I meant: where the hell did you get it from?"
Peter turned back to face Tony and narrowed his eyes. "What? Didn't you order it for us?"
Tony's wide eyes were on the food as he shook his head. "That table was empty when I got into the shower. Did you let anyone in?"
Peter could sense Tony was getting anxious from this, so he wanted to stay calm. He wanted to be carefree just to piss him off. "Nah."
Tony stalked past the table to the door that was still locked and chained. "There's no way someone could have keyed their way in."
Peter took another bite of food and spoke with a full mouth, "Good deduction, Sherlock."
Tony narrowed his eyes. "I'm sorry, did you suddenly lose all your brain cells overnight? Since when do you think it's a good idea to just eat food you find in your room? Especially when you have no idea how it got in here."
Peter slurped on his orange juice loudly. "Since you don't want me to."
"Oh, so I've still got Bratty Peter then, huh?"
Peter only glared at him.
Tony narrowed his eyes and stomped over to where Peter was sitting. "Now you're quiet, huh?"
Honestly, Peter was starting to feel kinda lightheaded and dizzy. He licked his lips slowly just to feel how heavy his tongue was in his mouth. He was barely listening to Tony as he began to rant.
"Uh, Mr. Stark--."
"No. This is where you shut up and listen. Because you don't seem to be able to understand that. I'm the adult and you're the child."
Peter felt himself heating up and sweat as already beading down his neck. He lifted his shirt from his neck, trying to cool himself down. Tony continued on, not even noticing. Peter saw two of him as he paced the floor.
"Mr. Stark, I think--."
Peter never got to finish before he fell to the ground, suddenly paralyzed. He hit the ground hard but didn't feel a thing. He couldn't move-- not his eyes or fingers or toes or head.
Tony whirled around to face him and the minute he saw him lying on the ground, all of the anger disappeared from his face. "Peter!"
All of Peter's anger followed Tony's. He didn't care about MIT or whatever the hell they were arguing about. He just wanted Tony to help him and make everything okay again.
He threw the chair out of the way in his haste to get to Peter and fell to his knees by him. "Peter, what's wrong--." He cupped Peter's cheeks to put him in a more comfortable position. Peter couldn't tell if it worked.
Peter couldn't feel a thing and he couldn't move a thing either. Which meant when the man behind him with the fire extinguisher came over too quiet for Tony to hear, Peter couldn't let him know. He couldn't do a thing but watch as the man raised the fire extinguisher above Tony and smashed it on his head. Tony crumpled immediately and the man quickly lifted him up to put him in a better position.
"I'm so sorry, sir. I'll fix this soon. I promise." His voice was strangely apologetic for a man that just knocked Tony out cold. But when he turned his attention to Peter, he was cold as a stone. "You're gonna learn your place, boy."
Peter wanted to yell and scream for help but all he could do was lay there as the man wrapped his hand around his face and it covered both his nose and mouth.
Peter tried to fight it and stay awake but all he could do was lay there and slowly feel his lungs burn and beg until blackness crept to the edges of his vision and forced him into unconsciousness.
When Tony woke up again, it only took a moment for his brain--his hurting brain-- to catch up. Despite the pain he was in, his only worry was Peter. Where was Peter?
He looked around him and the room was small enough that he got his answer almost immediately. Peter was tied down to one of the beds. He was face down so his ankles were tied to the headboard and his wrists were tied to the footboard.
Tony felt his heart start racing as he called out Peter's name. "Peter."
Peter immediately lifted his head up to face Tony. "Oh, good. You're finally up. I've been up for what feels like hours, but you weren't moving and I didnt know if you were okay or not. I guess the drugs went through me fas--."
"Woah there, motormouth," Tony said, his pounding head wanted nothing more than silence. "I'm up. It's okay."
Now that he knew Peter was okay, he checked himself over. Just like Peter, Tony's ankles and wrists were bound. Except, he was sitting up strapped to a chair. He seemed to be much more comfortable than Peter as he craned his neck up to see Tony.
Tony saw Peter staring at him anxiously and Tony asked in a quiet voice, "What happened?"
"The food was drugged. I felt my spidey sense when I drank the water, but I thought--." He cut himself off, looking away. "I thought it was something else."
The realization dawned on Tony and he felt like an utter asshole. "You thought it was me."
Peter didn't deny it, but he was quick to defend him. "It’s never done it before. I don't know why I thought it would. You could never. You're not a danger to me."
As much as Tony knew he would never intentionally hurt Peter, he couldn't help but scoff. "Oh yeah? Then why did I drag you out here and get us in this situation?"
"You didn't know our trip would be ruined like this," Peter argued.
"No, but if we didn’t take this trip, this wouldn't be happening."
"Well, we did and it is. We can't really change that. I know we can get out, so let's stop him from doing this to anyone else."
"Him?" Tony asked, realizing he didnt know shit about whoever the hell had them in here.
"Yeah. It was a man. He was in here before but then disappeared into the bathroom and I haven't seen him since."
"How long ago?"
"An hour maybe," Peter said unsurely.
"And you didn't try anything?" Tony asked incredulously.
"Like to escape?" Tony nodded his head and Peter lowered his voice and continued, "No. I have no idea what he's got. He's probably got us recorded to watch us. I don't know who he's working with. I can't risk anyone finding out."
Tony smiled, feeling pride swell inside of him. "Smart boy. You're such a smart boy. That's all you are. Just a boy. Just a--."
Peter went tense and a new voice interrupted him. "Just a brat that's what."
"Hey, I don't know who the hell you are, but you don't have any right to be calling my kid a brat." Tony glared as he turned to look at the man now joining them from the bathroom doorway. Tony racked his brain to try and figure out if he knew this man-- maybe some man that somehow felt victimized by Tony Stark and was only seeking revenge. But he didn't recognize him at all.
"I know it's not my place, sir, but he needs to know his."
Tony blinked, only taking a few seconds to try and decipher what the fuck that meant before giving up. "I'm sorry...do I know you?"
"Oh, no. You don't know me and I don't know you." The man looked at him with a genuine smile like Tony was his best friend.
"You don't know him?" Peter asked, sounding skeptical. "He's Tony St--."
The man whirled around to face him and any friendliness was gone. "Shut up, brat."
Peter looked just as confused as Tony felt. What the fuck was going on? "Stop calling me that."
"The adults are speaking right now and you are a child. Children listen. They're silent. They should be seen and not heard." He was leaning close to Peter's face as he snarled.
"Alright, Howard, why don't you back off the kid," Tony said, noticing Peter grow uncomfortable with the man right in his face.
The man turned back to him and he cocked his head. His tone was so much softer than he used with Peter. "Oh, my name isn't Howard, sir. It's John. John Colt Jr-- after my father." He smiled when he mentioned his father.
"Okay, Junior. How about you let me know why the hell you've got us tied up here." Tony eyed him carefully. As long as he kept his attention on him, it seemed the man remained calm. And out of Peter's face.
"This is my cabin. I own these woods and the rooms I rent out."
"Okay…" Tony said, still not understanding. "I don't understand. We have the email saying we booked the room, you told us the key was under the flowerpot. Why do you want us gone now?"
Junior pulled the other chair over, keeping his back to Peter and sat down. "Oh, I don't want you to leave. Not yet."
The smile on his face that refused to waver was now beginning to terrify Tony. "Then what do you want?"
"I just want to help you. I want to help you understand what's wrong here and how to stop it. I used to be the same way until my father showed me how to be a man." He glanced back at Peter to sneer. "He's old enough to know better by now, but it's not your fault you didn't know how to teach him."
"Teach him what?" Tony asked even though he didn't want to know the answer.
"Discipline, of course," Junior said with a wink. "He's been mouthing off to you since you two got in here and he needs to understand his actions have consequences. Not all sons had fathers like mine to look up to, so you don't know how punishment works."
Tony eyed him carefully as he replied, "Something tells me our old men were exactly alike."
That seemed to brighten the man's face up. "Really? So then you understand. You understand that as children, we are meant to respect our parents and if we don't, we will be taught to."
Tony scoffed. "And how did Daddy teach you that? With a belt?"
It was a rhetorical question; Tony didn't need or want the answer. He got it anyway as Junior nodded his head feverishly. "Yes. At first, I hated him for it, but I learned. I learned how to behave so I wouldn't get it again."
"Yeah, I had a belt rip the skin off my back more times than I can count, but the only thing that taught me was that I was never going to do that to my kids."
Junior frowned. "Don't you understand? The man you are today is because of him. Your father helped you in all of your success and fortune."
Tony let out an involuntary growl as he tugged on the restraints keeping him tied. "Do not say that because you have no idea what you're talking about."
"Oh," Junior said sadly. "You don't understand how lucky you were to have a father that taught you such discipline. Is that why you don't teach your son?"
"Teach my son?" Tony repeated incredulously. "No, sorry, I don't beat children."
"That explains a lot. It explains the mouth on him." He turned back to Peter and again, his voice became distasteful. "Apologize to your father."
Peter gave him a funny look. "He's not my--."
"Apologize to your father."
"Okay. I'm sorry, father," Peter said, rolling his eyes and Tony had to fight back a smirk. The attitude was funny when it wasn't directed at him.
The slap that followed was not as funny.
"What the hell?" Tony shouted, staring at Peter's cheek where a red handprint was already forming.
"Children musn't speak like that to adults."
"What do you expect? You've got him chained up to a bed!"
"I expect him to listen. I expect him to learn." He moved over to Peter's feet and started to untie him, then he went to his wrists and did the same. "Guess we'll have to do this the hard way then."
Peter looked at Tony and they both knew he could take him on. He could easily knock this creep out with one punch. But they didn't know who was watching. They couldn't do it just yet. So Tony shook his head.
Peter sighed as he was dragged off the bed and pushed to the floor when he didn't move his feet fast enough. "What the hell? Give me a second."
Junior didn't pay him any mind as he practically lifted him off the ground and dragged him over to the cost closet. Junior ripped open the door and glanced down to look at Peter. "Let's see if this helps you learn."
Then in the next moment, he threw Peter forward and slammed the door shut. Tony blinked, trying to take a moment and figure out if that really just happened.
Junior clicked the lock shut and Tony guessed there wasn't another in the inside like normal.
"Did you lock him in the closet?"
Junior nodded his head and came back to his seat. "My dad did this first with me. Maybe he'll respond to this well before we have to get too brutal."
"He locked you in a closet?" Tony asked, not really sure why he was so shocked.
"Only for two days. Unfortunately, we don't have that kind of time for your kid. We're gonna have to express his punishments to really get it through his head."
Tony blinked. "I'm sorry. I'm still stuck on the fact that you locked him in a closet." Junior smiled. "Howard was bad, but he never locked me in a fucking closet."
"That could be why it didn't stick. Don't worry, by the end of this weekend, you'll understand."
Tony glanced at the closet door, tugging on his restraints. "Take him out. Please. We can figure all this out."
Junior ignored him. "I'm guessing you are quite hungry. I'll bring in some food for you now."
"Hey, get back here!" Tony shouted as the man walked back towards the bathroom. That must be where his secret entrance was.
"Sit tight. And don't try anything. Don't make me angry."
Tony scoffed. "I've made Bruce Banner angry before. You don't scare me."
"I don't need you to be scared of me. I just need him scared," Junior said, pointing his finger over to the closet door. Then he disappeared into the bathroom.
Tony stayed silent, fuming still, waiting for a moment so he could ensure he had disappeared. Then he turned to where Peter was locked up and said in a low voice, "Pete, can you hear me?"
"Okay, good. Just hang in there, bud. I'm gonna get you out of there before you know it. Don't try anything. He's watching and listening."
"It's dark in here."
Tony knew Peter had problems with the dark and small spaces. When he told him the story about the warehouse falling on top of him, he understood why. "I bet. But you're okay. I'm still right here."
"This sucks," he said, voice quiet enough that Tony could barely hear him.
"Yeah, kid, it does."
Junior came back later on with food for Tony to eat. Tony didn't want to eat when Peter was in that closet getting nothing. But Tony knew that following his orders was the only way to keep him calm.
He stayed with him through the night, or Tony assumed he did because when he woke up again he was still sitting there.
"Okay, you played your game. Can you let me and the kid out?" He asked, turning his neck to try and get rid of the cramp.
"Oh, you're awake."
"Let. Us. Out." Tony glared. He was sick of this. He hasn't called to check in at all with anyone home, so he knew they'd come looking for them. Hopefully, some time today. But he wanted out now. He didn't want to have to wait.
"I'm not letting you go anywhere until he learns. I'm trying to help you. Why don't you understand that?"
"How is he even supposed to learn anything when he's stuck in that fucking closet?" Tony huffed angrily.
"Fine. I'll go get him. He's got one chance. Let's hope he's changed." He got up to his feet and went over to the closet. He threw open the door and dragged Peter across the floor by his hair until Peter woke up.
"W-what?" He pushed himself up and got to his knees so at least he wasn't being completely dragged.
"Oh, come on. You could have woken him up and given him a fucking second."
"You're too easy on him. That's the problem." Junior said shoving Peter back down to the bed and Peter was still half asleep so he didn't put up any fight.
"He's my kid. I choose how to punish him. This isn't it." Even though he didn’t choose how to punish him unless he screwed up as Spider-Man. Peter Parker was May’s to punish, not his.
Junior tied Peter back up and kneeled by his head. "Did we learn anything in there?"
"I'm sorry," Peter mumbled, his voice thick with sleep. "I'm having trouble catching up. Can you give me like two minutes to wake up?"
"He's not a morning person. Especially considering his wake up call was being dragged by his fucking ear."
"You're welcome. I'm fixing him for you."
"There's nothing to fix!" Tony said. "He's fine. You're the one that needs to be fixed. This isn't right. This isn't normal."
"There is no such thing as normal,” Junior said. “You’ve done a great job at raising him so far, but this just needs some work.” He patted Peter’s head and stepped away towards Tony until he was right in front of him. Then he kneeled down and smiled at him. “I think it’s time we teach him his lesson, don’t you?”
“What the hell do you mean?” Tony asked, staring down at him. “What the hell does any of this mean?”
“It means that I’m going to put an end to this behavior. Not everyone understands what I do: that a relationship between a father and a son heavily relies on the control. We can’t have kids running around the world doing whatever they please. It creates anarchy.”
Tony huffed, rolling his eyes. “God forbid the kids have different ideas than the fathers.”
Junior looked genuinely confused at these words as he looked at Tony. “Did your father not raise you like mine? I thought you understood. Your child should obey everything you say. And he will soon.”
“My father was a lot like yours, but the difference is that I didn’t become a fucking carbon copy. I learned from his mistakes.”
“You think that now, but just wait. I’m going to show you how great it can be,” he said, getting giddy as he reached forward towards his waist.
Tony jerked away but couldn’t go far after being tied down. “Get away from me.”
Junior ignored his request and put his hands on his belt, undoing it. Once it was unclasped, he pulled it out of his belt loops in one motion and stood up. He grabbed both ends with each hand and snapped the belt together a few times, each smack louder than the other. Tony didn’t like the smile it brought to his face.
When he turned to walk back to Peter, Tony sat up a little straighter and said, “No. Come back to me. Stay away from him.”
“You’re going to thank me for this,” he promised.
“No, I won’t.”
“Child,” Junior said, once again his voice going from kind to cruel when switching conversation from Tony to Peter. “It’s time to apologize.”
“Apologize?” Peter repeated incredulously. “For what? You’re the one that locked me in a fucking closet like a crazy person!”
“Apologize to your father for your behavior on this trip and your punishment won’t be as bad.”
“You have no idea what you’re talking about,” Peter said. “And you should know how it feels to not be taken seriously or listened to. Your dad was a fucking monster.”
Junior flinched and Tony waited for him to lash out at Peter for that. But he took a deep breath and then kneeled down in front of his face. His voice was eerily calm when he spoke, “Do not call my father a monster.” He took the belt in his hands and wrapped it around Peter’s throat. He began to make it tighter very slowly.
“Okay, he gets your point,” Tony said, watching Peter’s face start to turn red. “Take it off his fucking neck.”
“He’s going to apologize to me,” he said. “If he wants this off, he’s going to apologize to me.”
Peter gasped as he pulled it tighter until it could move no more and his face was turning even darker. Tony felt himself start to panic. “Peter, apologize. C’mon, bud. Just say you’re sorry.”
Peter’s eyes shot open and he stared right at him as if he’d been betrayed. He jerked his head in a “no” response. “Yes, Peter, you have to. It’s not obedience, it’s survival.”
Peter hesitated before his nodded his head frantically a few times. Tony quickly said, “Okay, he’ll apologize. Take it off so he can speak and he will.”
Junior pulled the belt from Peter’s neck and Tony winced when he saw the bruise already forming. Peter swallowed a few times before croaking, “I-I’m sorry.”
Junior patted his head. “Good boy. Our fathers aren’t monsters. No father is a monster. They deserve nothing but our love and respect.”
“My father isn’t, but how can you really think yours isn’t? Look at you because of him. You live by yourself in a cabin in the woods, running a sketchy lodging where you trap and spy on your guests. That’s crazy.”
“I do this because this is where fathers take their sons when they’re trying to settle an argument or try and make them realize what good fathers they are. This is exactly why you’re here. And I take my job very seriously to educate the youth.”
“You’ve done this before?” Peter asked, his voice still shaky from his throat being squeezed.
“How the hell do you get away with it?”
“Some fathers thank me for getting their kids in line. Others have to be reminded that when they checked in, they gave me personal information such as full names and credit cards. If I needed to, I could just as easily track them down if needed.”
“So you beat fathers’ sons and then just threaten them to keep quiet? You’re disgusting.” Peter’s face scrunched up.
“They thank me!” Junior roared. “They thank me for correcting their brats’ attitudes!”
“I highly doubt that.”
“They do! They thank me just like your father will be thanking me when we’re finally done.” He took the two steps to walk behind Peter’s head, raised the belt and then brought it down on Peter’s back.
Peter bit back any sound of pain he may have wanted to let out. Peter had been hurt worse before. There was one time he was kidnapped, tied to a chair and beat for a few hours before Tony came to his rescue. He wasn’t new to this, unfortunately. But hopefully, he would just give in before he got too hurt. Hurt pride was better than torture.
“Your father knows what is best for you! You’re going to listen to him!” He cracked the belt on his back two more times.
Tony saw Peter struggling to not make a sound and refrain from snapping out of these restraints. They couldn’t trust Peter’s secret with a guy like this.
“Apologize!” Another crack.
“There’s nothing… to apologize for,” Peter panted.
“Tell him he was right. Tell him you’re going to whatever school he chooses for you.”
“It’s my life!” Peter yelled. “It’s my future!”
“He gave you life! Your life belongs to him!”
Peter shook his head. “No, it doesn’t. He can help me along the way, but he doesn’t control it. Look at what happens when fathers control their sons: they end up like you.” He paused to catch a breath. “At least mine loves me.”
Junior didn’t like that as he whipped Peter hardest with the belt. Peter let out a shout of pain before biting into shoulder to stop him from shouting anymore. He squeezed his eyes shut and Tony knew he wouldn’t be able to take this much longer.
“My father loved me more than anything. That’s why he wanted to make sure I was the best man I could be. Maybe one day you’ll understand that.”
“Leave my kid alone,” Tony said, struggling in his own restraints. “He doesn’t need to answer to you. He’s not your child.”
“I would give you the chance to punish him, but we both know there’s no way you’re ready for this level of punishment yet. I’ll break him in and then you’ll be fine.” Junior gave him a smile as if he was expecting Tony to thank him for this.
“Let him go, you nut. This is fucking insane.”
“Once he knows his place, we can stop,” Junior said, whipping Peter’s back again.
“I’m going to kill you,” Tony promised, watching Peter cry out in pain. “I promise that I will end your miserable life the moment I am free.”
Junior seemed sympathetic. “It’s hard at first to watch this. I know. But it will get easier.” He brought the belt down one more time and then another and then another.
Anyone else would have given in by now, but Peter wasn’t just anyone else. He had a little more resilience. But even he still broke when it got too much. He was still a child, afterall.
“Okay!” He shouted, his voice breaking. “Okay! What do you want?”
“Apologize to your father. You have no idea what he sacrificed for you and all you do is treat him like garbage.”
Peter nodded his head, turning to Tony. “I’m sorry, sir. I shouldn’t have argued colleges with you. I’ll stay home.”
This was exactly what Tony wanted. He and May had been hoping for months that he would stay home, but this wasn’t how he wanted it to happen. And now that he thought about it...maybe this wasn’t what we wanted. “Peter, don’t. Stop it.”
Junior whipped him once more, even though Peter did nothing wrong.
Peter let out a cry as he shook his head. “I’m sorry!”
Junior laughed. “That wasn’t even that hard and he’s already willing to be obedient. You see?”
Peter was breathing heavy with his face pressed against his shoulder. He was shaking in pain.
Tony growled at him. “I am going to kill you. That’s a promise.”
Before Junior could respond to Tony’s threat, a black car came speeding through the opposite wall. Tony shut his eyes as the dust settled and the person walked out of the car. Tony recognized the man right away and he had never been so happy to see, well, Happy.
“Get the fuck away from the boy or else I will get back in this car and run you over until you’re a pancake,” Happy growled.
Then someone else came crashing through the ceiling and landed next to Happy. War Machine. Rhodey. “I’d listen to the man because I’ve got some fun planned for you too.”
“Nevermind. They’re gonna kill you,” Tony said.
Rhodey didn’t waste a second before firing a bullet from his suit with just enough damage to make Junior crumple to the floor with a shout of pain. Happy ran over to Peter while Rhodey came to him. Rhodey began to untie his restraints and Tony gave him a heavy smile. “Took you long enough.”
“Neither of you were answering your phones. And I knew even with crappy reception, your Stark phone would work.”
“So you came in guns blazing?”
“That was Happy’s idea. But it’s a good thing we did.”
Tony looked over to Happy and Peter. Happy had the kid on his feet and was letting him lean against his side as they walked away from the bed. Happy was talking in a hushed voice to him as Peter tried to wipe the tears from his face quickly.
Tony turned to glare at Rhodey. “I want that man to pay.”
“Oh, don’t worry, he will.
Rhodey and Tony dealt with Junior when they got back home safe. Happy and May stayed with Peter, making sure he was okay.
After they had Junior shipped off to prison (with only a few extra bruises), Tony wasn’t sure how else to stall. He didn’t want to see Peter. He couldn’t face him. Not after what happened. Rhodey, however, disagreed. “Go see him. Please.”
So, Tony made his way to Peter’s room in the med floor, rehearsing what he could say the entire way up. When he reached his door, he still had no clue. So he just knocked and he heard May’s voice welcoming him in.
Happy was sitting with May as she squeezed onto Peter’s hand. Peter was sitting up, unable to put any pressure on his back yet. Tony looked away. “I’m sorry.”
“Told you,” Happy said. “Knew he’d come in here blaming himself for it all.”
“You couldn’t have known, Tony,” May said. “He’s safe now and that’s all that matters.”
“No. Peter had to apologize to me, so now it’s my turn.” He looked Peter in the eyes. “Peter, I’m sorry for being a selfish prick. It’s your future, so you pick what college you want to go to.”
“I don’t mind staying home, Mr. Stark.”
Tony shook his head furiously before Peter was even finished speaking. Peter fought him tooth and nail to go to MIT. That fight was not gone. “No. You’re going to MIT. You belong there more than anyone else and I will be the proudest man to live the day you walk across the stage to get your degree.”
“No, buts, Peter. I’ve lived my life. Now it’s your turn,” Tony took a step closer. “Will I miss? Like hell. But that doesn’t mean I can’t come to visit you ever so often. And I expect you to come home as well. Especially holidays.”
Peter nodded his head, his eyes filling with tears. “I will. I promise.”
“And you want MIT? Not just because it was my school? You want to go there for Peter?” Tony asked because he had to make sure.
Peter nodded his head again. “It’s my dream.”
Tony smiled softly. “Then go chase that dream, college boy. Chase it wherever it takes you. Whenever you need to come back home, I’ll be here with open arms. We all will.”
Peter smiled and opened his arms. Tony pretended to look put off by having to lean down and carefully hug Peter. “Are you crying, Mr. Stark?” Peter teased, his own voice thick with tears.
“You haven’t seen anything yet, kid. Just wait til move-in day.”
Peter laughed. “I can’t wait.”
“Yeah, neither can I.”