What Has Been Seen, Cannot Be Undone-
Johnny couldn't look away from the flat screen TV, displayed high up on the living room wall of the Baxter building. He stood there frozen in utter shock, body shuddering in rage, his feet rooted to the floor as he could do nothing but watch.
When Johnny had first sat down after lunch with his family, to inevitably fight over the remote with Ben, (like they always did), he had not been expecting this. What he had expected, was for Ben to throw something at him, and for Johnny to retaliate by catching the object on fire only to toss it back at the man's head. The teen had expected a normal, boring, run-of-the-mill day.
Peter, his friend, was displayed upon the screen. Which wasn't very uncommon, being that the teen was New York's favorite web-slinging hero. Seeing news broadcasts or footage of the wall-crawler wasn't anything new. But this wasn't the same. It was not Spiderman that stared back at Johnny through the screen, but Peter Parker.
The room had abruptly fallen deadly quiet as the screen flickered on, the silence leaving Johnny's ears ringing. Sue halting in her cleaning of the kitchen, shutting the sink off as she gawked at the screen. Johnny and Ben muting their bickering and stopping in their batting at each other as they stared wide eyed at the TV, shocked and horrified.
Spiderman was chained to the ground, thick metal looped around his thin wrists and up to his forearms, another set on his legs, keeping him trapped too the cement looking floor.
Johnny felt an uneasy and twisting sort of nausea bubble up at the sight, anger starting to fill every inch of him as he watched on. Sitting there expecting Peter to do one of his last minute escapes, waiting for him to break free, to kick some bad guy butt on live television like he has done so many times before.
But it never happened.
Instead, a clawed hand snapped forward, ripping the red mask with its big eye lenses away from the hero's head. Leaving the bloodied and bruised face of Peter Parker on the screen for all to see.
Johnny had unconsciously launched up from his seat, a choked breath escaping him in his shock. His blue eyes disbelieving, as he could do nothing but watch from the sidelines, like-like he was just another bystander, as if he was just another powerless person.
Johnny's chest felt tight, his fingers tingling as he clenched them harder into distraught fists, his whole body becoming hotter and hotter with every passing moment, every second that dragged on.
Peter kept his head down, ducking away from the camera, so as not to be seen. But someone reached out, squeezing his cheeks together and bringing his face up and into view. Making sure that every cut, every bump, and every bruise, could be seen on the teen's face.
Peter had fought, turning his head sharply, biting into the man's palm. But a moment later the thick meaty hands clapped over Peter's mouth, another plugging his nose, the men off screen trying to force Peter to swallow the thick, red, liquid.
Peter's chest heaved raggedly, his eyes glaring at his captors with an intensity, never looking at the camera recording him, not even acknowledging its presences. Johnny had felt his hands start to flame on, his raging emotions making it hard to keep himself in check.
After a minute or so Peter had no choice but to obey. Grimacing as he swallowed the sticky, coppery, substance. The metal mug in Ben's hand had crumpled as if made from tin-foil, his beer spilling over and onto the hardwood. A few glasses burst in the kitchen, Sue letting out a sorrow filled cry.
But Johnny didn't notice, didn't hear it, didn't care.
Johnny's whole being becoming hotter and hotter with every pull-of that burette's hair, every punch, every smack. A raging inferno spreading from the center of his abdomen to his limbs as Peter's chest heaved and his struggles and fighting became less and less. Johnny's blood like acid as a new gash, a new cut, a new bruise, was added to the face of his friend.
"Say your name," someone ordered off screen, the word hissed out. An underlying threat hanging in the air, the hostility palpable.
Peter showed his red stained teeth to the man, the defiance still there, that spark of daring flashing in his bloodshot eyes. The man, Peter's captors, sighed heavily as if disappointed. "We'd stop hitting you if you cooperated," the man spat sounding exasperated.
Johnny wanted to find these men. He wanted to find them and beat them. He wanted to see them pay for what they had done to his friend. He wanted…he wanted-
"I'm just offended, is all," Peter says in the same snarky voice he always uses when fighting baddies, the easy lilt to Peter's tone makes something in Johnny ache, makes it hard to breathe.
Peter's mouth turns up into more of a smile than a snarl, at this point. "I got all prettied up for you, and you forget my name mid-date? That's rude, is what it is. You've got me thinking you're uninterested or someth—"
The slap is open-handed, the sound ringing in Johnny's ears as if he were the one that had been struck, his blood boiling within his body.
"I thought you wanted me to talk," Peter says, spitting a glob of blood to the ground. "Giving me mixed signals here, man," the teen says a moment later.
Johnny doesn't understand how the kid can keep his voice steady, how he can still make jokes at a time like this. Because-because that's what Peter is, Johnny realizes, he's a kid, like him, like Johnny. Even a year or two younger in fact.
"Say your name. Say it!" one of the men says a bit louder, sounding angry and impatient.
Peter pretends to contemplate the matter, his head cocking to the side as he puckers his split lips, his bruised eyes turning upward as if he is truly thinking things over. "Hm," he says a moment later, "Nah. I don't think I will."
A hand snaps out and fists Peter's hair, pulling his head up and exposing his pale throat. The teen letting out an involuntary whine of distress as he squeezes his eyes shut. Johnny's nostrils flare as his body shudders, his heart continually going faster in his chest.
Johnny's nostrils flare as his body shudders, fists clenching at his sides, his heart continually going faster in his chest.
"Enough games. We were going to be kind if you cooperate, but it seems you're too stupid to go down without some sort of idiotic remark, Peter." The last word is spat, making the name sound like something dirty, the man seems pleased with himself as he reprimands the teenager, his voice verging on amused.
Peter's eyes snap open abruptly at the use of his name, his chest hitching upward, his eyes staring off screen. "I'm not—"
"Yes, you are," interrupts the man who's done most the talking throughout all of this, throughout this horrible display, this terrifying ordeal. "Peter Benjamin Parker. Age sixteen. Attending Midtown High School, living in Forest Hills, Queens. Spiderman is a born and bred New Yorker; I think no one is surprised."
"Please," Peter breathes out the word, his eyes pleading, glassy and scared.
Johnny doesn't hear Sue let out a choked sob from behind him, doesn't see Ben stand up from the couch, his rocky fists clenched tightly.
"We offered you mercy, Peter. You denied it. New York watched you deny it," the captor sounds smug now, letting go of Peter's hair as he speaks. Talking as if he was a parent of a small child, disappointed, dejected.
"I didn't, I'm not—" Johnny can see the dread filling Peter's eyes as he starts to splutter at a loss. His composure bleeding out as the man's words do far more than his fists ever could.
"I think that's enough. We don't need to do anything more—the criminal underbelly will do the rest." The camera shakes as someone picks it up. The sound of rustling chains slithering across the dirty floor as they do so.
Peter tugs at his binds, his eyes wide and panic filled as his breathing becomes shaky, ragged, wheezed out puffs of air. The teen's chest heaving up and down as his lips part in shock or fear- Johnny can't tell.
"Say goodbye to the camera, Peter," one of the men says, a smile clear in his voice.
Peter stares at the camera for the first time since it has been turned on. His brown eyes blown wide as hitched words escape his lips, desperate pleas for people to protect his Aunt May, to save her, keep her safe. Johnny can't watch anymore as the first tears spill over his friend's swollen cheeks.
Johnny feels his own eyes growing damp, that burning wetness threatening to fall, before he flames on, the raging fire inside him becoming too much, the treacherous tears that had been ready to overfill evaporating as he does so.
Tony had been in his workshop when he saw the video. His blood running cold, his heart freezing in his chest as he watched Peter beaten upon the screen; one of his Iron Man suits on before the video could even finish playing.
There was no time to go get the team, no time to search for them and assemble the Avengers. No. Not when Tony's mind was so frantic. He didn't care if this wasn't how things were done on the team, he didn't care if Steve did (and Tony knew he would) pull him aside and tell him for the umpteenth time that Tony needed to inform the team before he just went out on his own. 'That he was supposed to rely on them, and they on him in return'…
No Tony didn't care. Steve could deal with assembling the Avengers, he could make all the level-headed decisions and plans. Tony wasn't, no he couldn't wait to do things the 'right way'.
The city below was still bustling with people. Uncaring, or unaware of what was currently being done to their city's hero. Their cups of coffee steaming, their shopping bags hanging from the crooks of their elbows as they went about their day.
It made Tony feel uneasy. To know that a kid was out there being tortured this very second, but life still went on. That was how it had been when he was in captivity. When he had been being tortured, when he had thought he was going to die…Life had gone on. It didn't stop when you did. It didn't depend on you. Never did, never will.
It was after that experience that Tony had become Iron Man. It was through that hardship that he changed. He knew he needed to leave his mark on the world after that. Make something of himself, become a better man. Leave his legacy. Maybe those were selfish reasons. Yeah, maybe. But it didn't really matter what his motives were in the beginning. Because he was a hero now. He was Iron Man, and Iron Man helped people.
"Iron Man?" Came Steve's voice from within Tony's comm.
"What?" Tony didn't mean to sound so harsh when he replied. He was just on edge. His nerves fraying.
"Where have you searched?" The Captain asked. Not acknowledging Tony's rude tone or even the fact that he had left the Tower without notifying the team.
"Voice recognition software confirmed the voice of Otto Octavius, as being the man doing all the talking in the broadcast," Tony informed the blond. "I've been scoping out any known hideouts of his, past and present." He went on.
"Send us all the coordinateness' of the places you haven't already looked," Steve ordered. The man's voice had an edge to it, an underlying heat, one that was not directed at Tony.
"Already done," Tony told him as he flew into an abandoned warehouse. His metal feet clanking onto the dust covered floor.
Johnny couldn't think. His heart was beating frantically as his head filled with pressure. The blond was unsure of what to do, or where to go. New York was huge, and Peter could be anywhere. And it didn't seem like the men talking off camera were going to wait for Johnny's arrival either.
All Johnny could think as he flew into an old and rundown bar, was how this whole situation was just crap. Peter was a good guy, one of the best, and he always seemed to get the short end of the stick. That kid stuck his neck out to save complete strangers and asked for nothing in return. Of course that was part of the reason so many considered him such an honest and nice guy, but still.
Johnny ran through the bar, the smell of dust and liquor filling his nose. He could really use a drink right now… Johnny found his way to the back, seeing nothing other than old boxes and a few broken tables. Huffing to himself he flew out and continued his search.
And you know why this situation is total crap? Because even if Johnny did find Pete, and the kid lived to fight another day, it wouldn't just end there. Everyone knew now, there was no hiding it, there wasn't any going back. Spiderman had been unmasked on live television, his full name and even his school broadcasted for all to hear.
Johnny let out a self-deprecating laugh, he hadn't even known Peter's middle name was Benjamin. It made the blond wonder what else he didn't know about his friend…
"Johnny come in." Sue's voice came from the small wrist communicator that Johnny had built into his suit.
"Kinda busy here." The eight-teen-year-old replied, pointing the camera at his aflame head so he could see the face of his sister. Sue looked worried, the lines on her forehead more prominent, her lips pressed in a thin line as she looked at the camera with teary eyes.
"You need to come back, Johnny." She told the boy.
Johnny spluttered in a shock, "What?!" he asked in exasperation. "I'm not coming back until I find him!" He yelled at the woman. "Sue, we can't just sit back and let-"
She cut him off looking offended, "I didn't say we were going to do nothing." She ground out. "We need to regroup," she informed the teen. "Reed contacted Stark, the Avengers are already on it, but Captain America would like to direct us into multiple search parties. We're hoping that if we all work together we will find Peter faster." The words 'before it's too late' hung in the air between them.
"Sorry." Johnny apologized, he shouldn't have assumed that Sue wanted him to come back without having a reason, a plan to help Peter. The team all liked Peter, the wall-crawler having spent enough time around all of them.
Actually, Peter had even come over last Friday night. The teen had said he was too tired to make it home and had crashed with Johnny. It had been nearly 3:00am when the form of Spiderman had tapped on Johnny's bedroom window.
The blond had sat up groggily, turning on his bedside lamp, before realizing who it was, letting the brunette in and watching the younger slump to the floor in exhaustion. "Rough patrol?" Johnny had asked as he turned to his dresser grabbing a T-shirt and some basketball shorts for the new arrival. Already knowing to do so before being asked.
"Uhhhh-"was the only response he had reserved, but its message had been clear. This wasn't really what you would call a regular occurrence, but it happened enough. Peter would be too worn, or concussed (but that was a different story entirely) to make it home, so he would spend the night over at the Baxter building.
Johnny had thrown the clothes at the other, "You hurt?" He asked, wondering if he needed to go get Reed. Peter would probably protest, not wanting to be more of a bother, or have to go down to medical (he seemed to hate medical just as much as Johnny did) but Sue had made Johnny promise to make sure Peter wasn't going to bleed out or anything, before he let the other go to sleep.
Peter had rolled to his back, slinging an arm over his head "Nah, nothing you should worry your pretty little head over." He had teased, before slipping off his mask to show his smirk.
Johnny had snorted at the other teen, rolling his eyes before flopping back into bed, and clicking the lamp off. "You better be, Sue will kill us if another 'incident' like last time happens again." He had said into his pillow.
He had heard Peter huff a laugh as he pulled on his borrowed clothes. A moment later, when Johnny was almost asleep Peter spoke again, "Hey, can I, uh, get a blank-"before he could finish his sentence Johnny had thrown off his comforter and flung it into the other's face.
Johnny smirked as he heard the other splutter. "You didn't have to give me your blanket." Peter had told him.
"Eh," Johnny rolled over cracking an eye open so he could see the silhouette of his friend in the darkness. "I'm always too hot anyways." He mumbled out, feeling himself on the edge of slumber.
"M'kay." Peter had slurred back, practically falling onto the couch Johnny had in his room. Not a minute later did the faint snoring of the other hero fill the blonde's ears.
It had been nice, the next morning the group had had waffles. Sue had gone into maternal mode and made sure Peter was okay, before finally, Reed had pried her off so that their guest could eat in peace. Peter had looked like he was in heaven as he piled the strawberry and whipped cream covered waffles into his mouth.
Johnny's friend had even stayed over for most of that Saturday. The two played video games and snacked on junk food all day. Before they got bored and decided to prank Ben like they tended to do. Getting into some well-deserved trouble together.
It made Johnny's stomach twist to think of where his friend was now, though. "I-I know that you want to help him just as much as I do." He went on, addressing Sue. "I didn't mean-"He cut himself off. "I know you want to find him too." He finished lamely.
Sue bit her lip before seeming to pull herself together. "Yes." She started. "Now get back here so that we can do so."
Johnny landed on the roof of the Baxter building, seeing not only the other three members of the Fantastic Four, but the seven that made up the Avengers all waiting upon the roof. Johnny wasn't sure if he felt relieved or more on edge as he noticed the big green mass that was the Hulk also standing among the heroes.
Landing with far less enthusiasm that he might have had, in general, Johnny walked over to Sue and stood silently waiting for orders, watching the other heroes a bit warily. Johnny wasn't one to take orders, or listen to direction, for that matter, but this time was different, he would do so if it saved Peter.
"I'm not going to beat around the bush." Captain America addressed the group walking to the center of the landing pad, his voice steady and loud in Johnny's ears. "We have very little time, and we need to find Spiderman as quickly as possible." Johnny couldn't agree more with that statement. "We will split into three teams." He went on.
The Captain pointed to the Hulk and Black Widow, "Hulk, Widow, you are together. Iron Man, The Thing, Flacon you will be teaming up. Dr. Richards, Invisible Girl, you're with Thor. Hawkeye, Human Torch," the man pointed at Johnny, "You're with me."
"Someone should go to his house," Sue said over the comms an hour or so into their mission. Johnny was on the lower leaves of an old factory, Hawkeye on the high leaves, as the Captain checked the perimeter.
"He's not going to be there," Hawkeye told her, he sounded pissed, but Johnny didn't think that anger was directed at his sister. Most everyone sounded angry over the comms at this point, even Reed. Other's though, like Widow or Falcon almost sounded tired. Johnny understood those feelings, having experienced both throughout their seemingly useless search.
Sue huffed on the other end. "Not for Peter. For his Aunt." She answered a moment later. Sounding exasperated on the other end, and a bit sad. Johnny didn't like hearing her sound like that.
The teen felt his breath stutter from his lips. Aunt May. Peter had begged for them to protect his only living family member, but Johnny had gotten so caught up in his search for the other teen he had overlooked the elderly woman altogether. Only this second remembering that she too would be in need of protection now that Spiderman's secret was out...
The grayed haired woman was sweet. Always trying to fatten Johnny up when he came over. The woman just radiated love it seemed. Johnny even found himself a bit jealous at times, wishing that he had a mother figure like that in his life.
One time, probably around a year ago now, Johnny had gone over to the Parker house, the blond had been upset having had another fight with Sue and Reed, and in effect wanting to hang out with his friend to blow off some smoke. However, Johnny had forgotten that Peter (being that he still had a secret identity) still went to school.
He had knocked on the door a bit harshly, tapping his foot impatiently as he waited for someone to open it. His sister's word "You're just a kid, you need boundaries, you need rules, and you need to learn how to respect and follow those rules!" still echoing in his head as he waited.
A moment later May had opened the door, an apron wrapped around her waist, her hair in a messy bun. "Oh, Johnny." She had smiled at the teen. "Nice to see you, come in." She greeted, not asking why he was here, but letting the teen in nonetheless.
"Thanks." Johnny had nodded at the older woman. "Uh," Johnny looked around the house not seeing Peter lounging on the couch, or walking up to greet him like he usually did. "Where's Peter?" He had asked, hoping that his friend wasn't out on patrol or something.
May had hummed at him sweetly. "I'm afraid Peter won't be back from school for a few more hours." She had informed him.
"Oh, right, school." Johnny had muttered, face-palming as he realized that it was the middle of the day on a Tuesday. "I forgot that he, uh, yeah…" He had turned to her, feeling his shoulders slump. "I guess I can come back later or something." He had told the woman, headed back for the door which he had just come through, planning on flying to Mexico, or the moon, or, well, just somewhere where he could get lost for a while.
"Nonsense." A soft hand had landed on Johnny's shoulder turning him around before he could reach for the door handle. "You can just wait here until Peter gets home." May had told him her grip not loosening as she led the blond into the kitchen.
"Uh, oh that's okay Mrs. Parker, I can-" Johnny started to protest. Not wanting to get in the way or wait in the house when May finally had a moment to herself.
"Do you like pie?" May had interrupted him.
Johnny had stared at her, shocked for a moment, before forcing his tongue to work. "Y-yes?" He asked back uncertainly.
"Welp, I'm in the middle of making some apple pie." May had told him, letting her hand drop away as she walked to the kitchens small island. "And I could use some help." She said it as if it were true. As if she hadn't made millions of pastries by herself over the years. As if she actually needed Johnny's help.
"I, uh, s-sure." Johnny had answered, shrugging off his coat and joining her in the cramped space that was her kitchen. "But, uh, I should warn you, the last time I helped make a pie I think I was like six."
May laughed at that, the sound light, and making Johnny feel a little better. "That's fine, Peter isn't a baker himself. But he still helps where he can." Johnny had hummed in agreement, knowing that last statement meant more than it seemed.
"So what happened?" May had asked a few minutes later, Johnny now rolling out the crust of a pie as she chopped up some apples. The smell of cinnamon filling the air and making Johnny feel heady.
"What?" He had asked stopping in his task to look up at the kind-eyed lady.
"Clearly, something happened Johnny." She went on, looking back to her apples as she talked. "I know you probably came to talk to Peter about your issues. But just know I'm known for lending an ear when one is needed." She smirked kindly, her lips painted a soft pink.
Johnny had paused at that. He hadn't known May very well back then. He had only been over to the Parker household a few dozen times. Peter and he had become friends not too long after the teen had become Spiderman, but that hadn't been that long ago really. May had always been sweet and kind, though, and Johnny didn't feel as if she was anyone he would have to hide secrets from, or be scolded by when he shared his honest opinions and thoughts.
So Johnny had taken a chance and trusted the older woman. He told her how his sister treated him like a child, but expected him to act like an adult. He told her how he was stressed over a mission the team had failed, feeling as if the failure was his fault entirely. He had told her of his frustrations with Reed, and even Ben, how tension was high in the Baxter building and he knew he was the center of it.
May had let him vent, only pitching in every once in a while when the teen seemed distressed. Her advice was good, nothing biased or that made Johnny feel lesser than. She had let him talk it all out before finally he slumped forward on the table that the two now sat at. Feeling lighter by just having talked about his problems.
"I know it's frustrating." May had said, her tone understanding and sweet. "But though their methods might be," she paused, thinking over what she was going to say next carefully. "unsavory. They are only doing it because they care, though I know it might not seem like it at times." She chuckled a bit at that.
"Yeah." Johnny had sighed, knowing she was right, but not really liking it.
May stood up when the oven beeped, grabbing oven-mites before pulling the pie out and cutting a few pieces. "Just know that you always have a place to stay here, alright?" She had told Johnny as she gently messed with his hair in passing, before setting a plate of steaming apple pie in front of the teen.
Johnny couldn't help the pleased smile that split his face, picking up his fork as he looked at their complete work, which if you asked him, looked pretty damn delicious. "Thanks, Mrs. Parker." He had said gratefully, looking up at the woman as he addressed her.
May had smiled, brushing back a strand of hair behind her ear as she sat before her own plate of pie. "Please call me Aunt May, Johnny."
Johnny's felt his heart 'ping' as he thought about the older woman. May Parker was by no means helpless, but no normal person could stand off with some of New York's villains and come out unscathed. And Johnny had forgotten about her.
"I'll go." The teen choked out a moment later, getting ready to head to the Parker household in hopes of finding May unharmed and alive.
"No." Came the Captain's voice. "Falcon or Iron Man should go," he went on. "Your team is the closest."
"I'll head over," Falcon answered a moment later, his voice sounded sad, the reasons for it filling Johnny's gut with dread.
The Parker house had been surrounded. News vans recording the events, and what seemed to be the police taking different criminals away as they shouted obscenities at the crowd. Masses of people all stood around the small two story in the little suburb neighborhood in Queens. Some looked frantic and worried, others excited or angry.
Falcon had swooped down, not caring to answer the mass of yelled questions thrown his way. Sam landed in the small backyard walking to the back door and locating the key under the matt there.
Stepping inside led the man into the small kitchen. The smell of chicken faintly hung in the air, making him realize he was hungry, he hadn't eaten lunch. Once Steve had come in, turning on the TV, disrupting Sam and Clint's playful banter as they were shown what was playing, all thoughts had left Sam's mind, all but one, finding Peter.
The lights were off, the inside of the house silent, the walls doing an admirable job of keeping out the noise from the obnoxious crowd outside. Sam knew that they meant well, the people crowding in a barricade around the small home in hopes of protecting its occupants. But seeing all those people bringing, even more, attention to the location, set Sam's teeth on edge.
Falcon moved forward finding the Livingroom drapes closed and the room empty. He had only been in the room once before, he and Steve had come to check on the boy after a battle with the sinister six.
Steve had knocked on the door loudly, Sam standing at his side, ringing his hands together as he waited, hoping that Peter was in fact, doing okay. The team had been off dealing with Hydra, so no one had been there to assist in the battle. Meaning the teenage spider had to fight the six mad-men on his own.
The team had watched the battle while flying home in the Quinn-Jet. Spiderman did well, flipping around like a maniac as he fired off web after web. But even still the teen was limping noticeably, tufts of brown hair poking out of the holes in his mask. Tony had raced them back as fast as he could, but still, they had been too late. By the time they had gotten back, the six villains were down and being taken away, and Spiderman was nowhere to be found.
So the next morning Steve and Sam had stolen one of Tony's fancy and fast cars. And had headed over to the Parker household. Sam had never been there before, hadn't even seen pictures. But for some reason he hadn't been surprised by what he saw. The home was nice and small, well put together, a porch swing hanging to the side, blooming flowers overflowing from their large pots next to him.
Peter's Aunt had answered the door, looking a little frantic, her hair a bit of a mess, but a smile still on her face. "Oh, Mr. Rogers, Mr. Wilson, please come in." She had said in a rush almost looking relieved as she led the men in. The woman had been dressed in a waitress uniform, clearly about to head out to work.
"Please sit. I'll get him." She had instructed, walking into the kitchen quickly before setting down a pot of coffee, two mugs, and a plate of chocolate-chip-cookies on the coffee table before the two had even finished sitting down. "I'll be right back." She had said before swiftly making her way upstairs.
Sam had looked at Steve who also looked a bit surprised. They had met May only a handful of times back then, but she always seemed to be on top of things no matter what. Like in this instance, it was as if she already knew they had been planning on coming.
A moment later, (Sam poised to put a cookie in his mouth, Steve taking a sip of his coffee) May had come back down, grabbing a sweater off its hook and her purse before smoothing down her hair. "I'm sorry I couldn't visit with you two today, but I'm already running a bit late for work." She told them, "Peter will be down in a second." She turned back around, her hand still on the doorknob, "I'm headed out honey," she called up the stairs "come down and eat some breakfast, please." She had finished before looking back at the two men. "Could you please make sure he eats something, Captain Rogers?" She addressed Steve.
The blond had looked a bit shocked at the request but complied all the same. "Of course." He nodded to her.
And with that the woman had left, a moment later the grumbling of a teenager could be heard as he 'tromped' his way down the stairs. A pajama-clad Peter had come in, headphones still hanging from his ears, the teen wasn't wearing a shirt, in its place were bandages, the gauze wrapped around the left side of his chest, some of the white stained with red. He had a gash on his forehead, what looked to be burns running up his arms, a limp still heavily in his step, and he was bruised pretty much all over.
Steve and Sam had turned to the teen when he entered, but it took the boy a moment to look up from where he was messing with his phone. When the teen had finally looked up with foggy eyes, only now seeing the men sitting in his Livingroom he had nearly jumped onto the ceiling "Mother Hugger!" He had exclaimed, causing both men to startle.
"What the heck are you doing here?" The teen had asked, one hand still placed over his wildly beating heart.
Steve's eyebrows had raised. "Your aunt didn't tell you we were here?" He had asked sounding amused.
"Eh, no…" Peter's lips had pursed. "No, she did not." He took out his earbuds then, placing them and his phone on the table as he sat across from the other men. Sam snickered as he heard Peter mutter something about 'meddling old ladies' under his breath.
"Why do you think she didn't inform you of our being here?" Steve had asked, looking intrigued.
"Because she knew, that if I knew, that you were here I would have put a shirt on before coming down here." Peter had answered flatly.
Sam had nearly choked on his cookie. Awa, yes May Parker knew her nephew quite well. The kid was notorious for hiding or playing down his injuries. And it seemed that everyone knew it too.
"So, what's up." Peter had asked a moment later, his head cocking to the side showing off his bruised face, as he looked at the men expectantly.
"We just came to make sure you were okay." Sam had told him, "And for some of your Aunt's cookies." He finished taking a bite with a smirk.
Peter had laughed, wincing at the movement and placing a hand on his abdomen. "Oh yeah, I'm great." He had told them, "I'm bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, as you can see." He had gone on, a false chipperness lacing his voice.
"I'd like to take you to the infirmary back at the Tower, son." Steve had told the boy softly. "Have those injuries looked at."
Peter had groaned in despair, grabbing a cookie and taking a bite angrily. "Y'see, this, this is why she didn't tell me you were here." Peter had told them. "I'm fine, just a little bruised, (but that's mostly my ego anyways) but the point is, I don't need to go to the infirmary." He had nearly begged.
"Oh com'on Steve," Peter had whined out, Sam had to hide his smile behind his mug as he watched the two argue back and forth. "Can't you just y'know, hang out instead?" The statement sounded a bit hopeful, a gleam entering the teen's eyes. "Yeah, you two can just hang out with me." He went on, "That way I don't have to go to medical, and you two can get your good deed done for the day." Peter had sounded pleased with the idea.
Sam didn't think it sounded half bad. He hadn't had a day to just relax and do nothing but laze around and eat snacks for, well, it had been far too long. He also turned to Steve, two sets of brown eyes begging petulantly at the set of blue ones before them.
"Really?" Steve had half laughed looking at Sam. "You too?" Sam hadn't answered instead choosing to lean back and munch on his cookie with a raised eyebrow. Steve had spluttered shaking his head in defeat "Fine!" He had given up, "Who cares about possible internal bleeding anyways?"
Peter had shot up out of his chair, "Internal bleedings a myth, don't believe it." He had quipped. The kid limped his way into the kitchen grabbing some cereal for himself before coming back in and turning on a movie.
That was how they had spent the day, the three of them munching on May's leftovers and baked goods, playing video games and watching movies. Peter had fallen asleep after drinking some of the hot coco that Steve made, unbeknownst to the teen, the man had put some sleeping drugs in the chocolate, the drink knocking the small teen out only a half hour later. Steve and Sam had taken the opportunity to steal Peter away and drive him to the Tower so that Bruce could scan him over and make sure there wasn't anything horribly wrong with the teen.
To say that Peter had been unhappy upon waking would be an understatement...
The living space still looked the same, small but cozy, clean and smelling like May's cooking and a bit of lavender. A knitted blanket hung over the back of the couch, a plate of cookies sat on the coffee table. Sam felt his stomach twist, you could never tell what was truly going on, what this family was going through, by just looking at the home. It was undisturbed, completely unaffected, and that was a bit unsettling for Sam.
"May?" Sam called out quietly, "It's me, Sam Wilson." He tried, hoping not to scare the woman even more if she was in fact here. Sam made his way up the narrow stairs, their old wood creaking under his weight a bit.
"May?" Sam called again, still not receiving an answer. He checked the first two doors finding one to be a closet the next a clean bathroom. Sam had never been up here before, and he can't say that he had ever thought he would be seeing the rest of the Parker house under such circumstances.
"Mrs. Parker?" He tried, toeing open the next door and finding an empty bedroom. The comforter on the bed a light purple, the smell of lavender leaking out and into Sam's nose. May's room. "May?" He asked in a slight whisper, already losing what little hope he had of finding her.
Sam sighed as he turned around, seeing one last door, he opened it softly. The smell of burnt wiring, mint, and a bit of sweat coming from inside. Peter's room. Sam couldn't help himself as he stepped in. Taking in the posters that littered the walls, the rumpled and unmade bed, and the many books and contraptions that lay about the desk and floor. Yeah, this was definitely Peter's room.
Sam couldn't help but think about how this room yelled teenager, the mess and walls speaking of their owner's youth. It made Sam's blood run cold when he thought about what was happening to this young boy right now, what he had witnessed on TV only hours before still playing in his head on a continual loop. He wondered if Peter would ever use this space again. If he would ever come back to his childhood home. This whole house's atmosphere radiated love and comfort, it made Sam sick to think about those feelings dissipating, as he pondered over what was happening to its tenants.
"Falcon?" Came a voice over the comm, jarring Sam from his thoughts.
"Yeah?" He asked back, his voice was a bit rough, he cleared his throat of his emotions.
"Did you find anything?" Cap asked.
"Is May there?" Widow spoke a moment later.
"No." Sam shook his head to himself still staring at the room of his missing friend. Feeling his stomach sink as he slowly backed away. "No, she's not here."
Johnny hadn't known what to do when he heard that May was missing. They had gone to her place of work, and a few other locations they could think of the woman being/hiding. The longer it took to find her; the more frantic Johnny became. But only a little less than an hour into the search, all of the places they could even think to find the woman had turned up empty. Johnny's heart sank as he worried not only for Peter but for May as well.
He wasn't sure why that realization, the fact that they couldn't find the older woman, was the last straw for him. But it was, and Johnny couldn't stop the feelings of hopelessness that embraced him…
Johnny didn't talk unless spoken too. His head pounding his thoughts a scrambled mess. The groups had switched around again, Johnny was currently with Sue and Ben. He wondered briefly if the Captain had placed him with some of his family members because of his distressed outburst earlier, when they had been unsuccessful in locating May.
He knew that that was probably the reason. Somewhere in the back of the teen's head, he knew he should feel embarrassed or ashamed of his emotional state. That he would regret his actions on later inspection, because he was working with the Avengers, and he needed to be strong. He knew he needed to pull himself together and act like the adult he always insisted that he was.
Johnny couldn't find it in himself to care…
"Can you tell us anything about the whereabouts of Spiderman?" A blond haired reporter asked Johnny, sticking her microphone in his face.
Johnny couldn't bring himself to look directly at the camera. He had been on TV plenty of times, had made a complete fool of himself on live television, and not given a crap. But this time was different. "No." His voice was thick with emotion, it clogged up his throat, threatening to choke him. "We're still looking."
"Did you know that Spiderman was in fact, the high schooler, Peter Parker?" She asked. Johnny couldn't help the grimace from forming on his face. This woman, all these people, had no right to his friend's name. They didn't know Peter, and they shouldn't be using his name as if they did.
The fact that everyone now knew that name, though, the realization that everyone wanting to know could find his friend's name, his address, his school, his family, his everything, hit Johnny like a kick to the gut. Making the teen clench his teeth in despair and anger.
The blonde reporter with too much makeup on, gave Johnny a weird look, her lips puckering as she waited for an answer. Sue swooped in then, taking over the interview as Ben laid a hand on Johnny's shoulder and led the teen away.
Johnny let him…
Tony couldn't help but feel more desperate as the day slowly started to darken. The sky was overcast and it tended to get dark earlier during this time of year. But it seemed with each and every minute that ticked by, the sun taking it's light away, more of Tony's hope died with its departure.
Iron Man was currently with Hawkeye, the two spreading out and edging towards Hell's Kitchen as they continued to search for any signs of their missing friend. It smelt of burnt chemicals and rot in this part of the city. Tony didn't make it a habit to come anywhere near this area usually. But the smell didn't seem to bother him all that much today, he had other things on his mind.
Clint and Tony had only been searching within the burnt down auto shop for roughly five minutes when someone literally dropped in. The sound of a whip smacking against Tony's ears as he turned around to address the red-clad figure.
"He's not in Hell's Kitchen," Daredevil told them flatly. At first, Tony had thought the man was trying to kick them out of 'his territory' the playboy was about ready to rip the guy a new one. His heart pounding angrily in his chest as he sucked in a breath to let it all out on the other hero.
Sure Daredevil and the Avengers didn't get along great, neither did they with the Fantastic Four, but they had pulled together for a greater cause. This wasn't about boundaries or whether or not you disliked someone. This was about rescuing another hero in need. This was about finding a missing scared and tortured teenager. This was about saving a friend.
Tony was about to voice those things when Daredevil continued. "I already checked the Kitchen and the perimeter outside of it." He went on. Daredevil was quite good at masking his emotions, but there was a hint of worry in his voice that Tony picked up on. "I'd like to help you find Peter." Daredevil finished. The way the man spoke the teen's name made Tony wonder if Daredevil already knew? If the two were possibly even friends outside of the masks? It wouldn't be a surprise, Spidey seemed to be friends with everyone.
"Of course." Tony had answered tersely, he hoped that the armor helped take the edge off of his voice, he was losing control of the little things, his vocal cords pitching his voice roughly, his fingers twitching without his consent, his eyes burning with repressed rage.
"No ones' here. Let's go." Daredevil said a moment later, turning and marching out of the building. Tony didn't know how the man's powers worked, he wondered how he could possibly know whether no one was hiding within the building or not. But he didn't question it either…
The city was in chaos. Villains scattered about New York as they wreaked havoc upon its citizens, most looking for May Parker in hopes that they will be the lucky one to cause her pain. Others simply taking advantage of the horrendous situation and looting and or stealing whatever they could get their hands on.
Iron Man flew over Daredevil and the frenzy that was this street, people running in a panic, tripping over one another in their desperate attempts to flee from danger. Matt could hear all the rapidly beating hearts, the scared breathing of the crowd. He was having a hard time dealing with all this, noise.
Daredevil had been straining his abilities, using his heightened senses in hopes of finding their missing friend faster. Now that Matt had the help of Iron Man, the other flying him over the city as Daredevil listened for the heartbeat of Peter, they could cover more ground. But still, Matt was only one man, and the city's size was nothing to scoff at.
Having his enhanced hearing was a blessing and a curse, it seemed at times like this, though. A pounding headache reaching from within Matt's ears to the back of his skull making him feel as if each movement was sending daggers into his aching head. He wasn't used to straining his powers for this long or far, he was starting to get dizzy, his balance off center, he would get sloppy soon.
The exertion of it all, the stress, the pain, the worry, the fighting, was getting to him. Making his movements a bit slower, his words coming out mechanically. The time crawled by ever so slowly for Matt…
Steve panted to himself, rolling away from a knife thrown at him by Kraven. Perspiration dripping down the back of his neck as the soldier prepared to kick out at the other man.
Their mission, their search, their rescue operation, has been going on for nearly half a day now. But still, they had found nothing. Steve hadn't thought it would take this long. But he guessed he also didn't account for all of Spiderman's rogues.
The criminals have been rampaging through the city. From the smaller baddies like your everyday looters and purse-snatchers, to psychos like Electro or Kraven.
Steve hissed in pain as a blade was sliced across his arm. He dodged the next attack before letting Widow run forward. The red-head taking out her worried induced rage on the tan skinned man.
The Captain had continued to switch up the teams throughout this whole ordeal, hoping that their different minds and skill-sets would help them in their ever failing mission to locate Peter.
Other heroes (well some Steve couldn't find in himself to refer to as such) had joined their search party. Cap couldn't say he was necessarily shocked or surprised at the development. Who had come, however, had been a bit of a wonder. Black Cat, Daredevil, Deadpool, and The Punisher. Had asked to help.
Steve had had to make a decision then. He didn't trust these people (well maybe Daredevil, but his methods were a bit much for Steve's liking) and he had never pictured himself fighting alongside them. The thought of doing so had made the Captain's nose scrunch up in distaste, made his teeth clench with unease. But he had allowed it.
However, that didn't mean that he liked it either.
Steve's body was craving a fight. The sounds of screaming, scared, people making his head numb. His fist clenched tightly, his heart pounding as he waited for his opportunity. The need to punch someone burning through his veins.
Steve didn't see a reason to withhold from the instinct any longer…
Tony was starting to get tired. Well, maybe it wasn't so much as being tired. His body was fine, yes under stress and craving a nice cold glass of scotch. But really the few fights that Tony had had were not what was making him feel heavy and slow. No, those fast battles weren't nearly enough to get to Tony physically.
It was the emotional strain to keep himself together. The need to find Peter. The longing for this day to end. The silent pleading for something to turn up. The internal begging for relief from this living hell. Those were what was getting to Tony, not that he would confess to such feelings. It was hard to give freely with your emotions when you couldn't even admit them to yourself.
"It is hard to express oneself honestly when those expressions were shunned or taken for granted for so long within one's developing years or childhood." Tony remembered reading that in some crap phycologist book a few years back. He hadn't continued to read any further after that line.
Iron Man couldn't help but wonder what kind of hero he was if he couldn't save one kid. And not just some random kid either. But another hero, a friend even. If Tony couldn't rescue him, if he couldn't even find this one person in need…Then what good was he? What the hell kind of hero was he, if he couldn't do just this one thing?!
Yeah. Tony sighed heavily, not caring who heard it. He wished he could rub at his eyes, try to wake himself back up. Because Tony was starting to realize that he hadn't been this tired before…
Matt grumbled to himself as he listened to the crazy mess that was the streets below. They might have found Peter or possibly even his aunt by now if they didn't have to keep stopping like this.
Vulture flew over the masses of people, throwing bombs down at them as he cackled to himself. Matt wasn't sure what was up with Spidey's villains but they all seemed to be insane. Sure Matt dealt with plenty of insane people in Hell's Kitchen, but for the most part, those bat-crap-crazy people had a purpose, a reason for what they were doing. (Whether that reason was sick and twisted wasn't the point Matt was trying to make.)
But Spiderman's villains on the other hand almost didn't seem to have a plan, they just liked causing destruction, needlessly harming people, and taking lives. It was like a game to them.
Matt huffed to himself, they didn't have time for this. They had more important matters to attend too. They didn't need to be dealing with some old freak with a bird fetish.
Daredevil couldn't help but wonder how Peter dealt with these people…
Johnny was running out of ideas. The sun had all but set at this point. The aflame boy now providing his own source of light as he flew over the city.
Most people had gone home. It was unusual for New Yorkers to do so, so early into the night. But Johnny figured they must be worried by the lack of information regarding their missing hero Spiderman, or that they had gone home where it was safe. The streets were always a worrisome place to be, especially at night.
But it was as if all the criminals were on a mission to piss Johnny off. The baddies littered every street corner it seemed.
Johnny was about to fly higher up, head over to the next street when he heard a scream. The teen swooped down, finding a group of men cornering two women in a dirty, cramped alleyway.
"Hey!" Johnny yelled at them, his voice did not sound like his own.
The men turned then, their eyes shining menacingly, their teeth glinting in the little light the half moon was providing, the sight reminding Johnny of a hungry pack of wolves about to devour their helpless prey.
Johnny attacked the men. Not caring how hard he hit, not holding back. The two would be victims ran. The half a dozen men all around Johnny. Their fists clenched their teeth barred as they pounced on the teen.
The men yelled and swore at Johnny, cursing at him as spittle flew from their mouths. Johnny didn't hear them…
One of the men got a lucky shot in, hitting the teen in the jaw with a board. Johnny didn't feel it…
The hero tasted the coppery red of blood, the sticky liquid pooling in his closed mouth. Johnny didn't care…
The blond hit the last man square in the face, all his strength and anger bared in that single punch, bone crunching, breaking, under the teen's knuckles. Johnny didn't notice…
Matt sat perched on a fire escape. He could feel the hot breath of the Captain behind him, could smell the burnt flesh on the man from the wound he had received earlier, could hear his frantic, but healthy, heart beating.
Matt ignored it. Closing his eyes (though it made no difference) and listened. Taking a deep breath of the night's air as he tried to pick up on a scent, a lead, anything helpful.
The air here was cleaner than what the lawyer was used too. This particular street almost deserted the road quiet. Matt could hear a mother hushing her crying baby in an apartment a corner over. Two cats were fighting in an alleyway two streets across. A man was smoking a cigarette a block or so down.
Daredevil pushed past it all. His ears searching for that single sound. The beating heart of his friend.
He found it…
Matt's lungs burned with a desperation that he did not know he possessed.
He ran as fast as he could, locking onto the sounds of the beaten and suffering boy that he had been searching for hours never ending.
The closer he got the more he could hear. The heartbeat was too fast. Peter was scared.
But that beating also meant he was alive…
Matt jumped through the broken window of the falling apart church. He landed roughly on the pews, old wood splintering under his booted feet. Matt didn't care.
The rattling of a punctured lung could be heard as its owner wheezed for breath. Peter was hurt.
But that wheezing meant he was still breathing…
The voice of Captain America could be heard giving out their location over the comms. Matt didn't notice.
Daredevil ran forward finding the entrance to the church basement and flinging the large doors open.
The smell of blood and the salt of tears hit Matt's nose in a rush of wind. Peter was crying.
Matt couldn't think of a favorable reason for that particular fact…
Johnny's body had burst into flames the moment he heard that Captain America and Daredevil had located Peter.
He had rushed forward, flying into the night with a spark of hope reigniting in his chest.
Johnny's body was numb. His fingers tingling as his ears rang. But he paid it no mind.
The blond flew into the old church. Flying through the broken window, jagged colorful pictures displayed on the few shards of glass that had still managed to cling there.
Johnny's senses went numb as he entered the basement. The distant sounds of flesh hitting flesh, roars of rage, and yells of fury not registering in the teen's ears. Because none of that mattered.
Johnny felt himself stumbled forward until he was crouched over his friend. It was an ever losing battle not to light into flame as he took in the wrecked face of the other teen.
Peter's hair stuck up with grime and blood, his mask still laying on the floor next to him. He had a long jagged gash stretching up from his cheek to his temple. His split lip still bleeding. His whole face was a puffy swollen mess, his eyes bruised, his body smeared with the red of blood. A hand shaped bruise wrapped around the teen's pale neck, making Johnny shudder with rage.
"Pete?" The word was broken and brittle on Johnny's tongue, his ever overflowing emotions, he could no longer keep at bay. Johnny reached out with shaking fingers pressing lightly to the others neck in search for a pulse.
Brown, red-rimmed, eyes snapped open as Peter let out a shuddering breath. The smaller teen flinching away from Johnny's touch.
"Joh~nny?" The name was asked in a disbelieving whisper. The word cracking in Peter's dry and abused throat. He blinked at the blond, the skin around his left eye was so puffed up Johnny was unsure of how he had managed to open it.
"Yeah," Johnny whispered back. "We're gonna get you out of here, okay dude?" Usually Johnny would tease the other, he would taunt him, calling Peter his damsel in distress that the 'almighty Human Torch' had to rescue, again. But looking at his mess of a friend, Johnny couldn't even bring himself to think of joking around.
"M-my Aunt?" Peter looked scared, his bloodied lips quivering. "Whe~re's my A-aunt May?" He asked, his blood-shot eyes pleading.
Johnny's breath caught in his throat. His head pounding as he stared at his friend. Peter Parker, the sixteen-year-old who had just finished being tortured. The high school student that was still currently chained to the floor of a basement. The science nerd that had just been outed as the masked hero Spiderman to the whole world.
And the kid was asking about his Aunt. Because (Johnny realized with a pang of sadness) that was the most important thing to Peter. None of the other things mattered as long as she was okay.
Johnny bit his lip feeling his eyes begin to burn. "We couldn't find her." He stated with a shake of the head. The words were said in a whisper, one that Johnny had hoped Peter wouldn't hear.
But the words had been clearly received. Peter's face scrunched up, tears falling from his red eyes and mixing with the blood on his face. A choked sob left his trembling lips.
And Johnny was helpless to stop it…
Tony flew over the city, the lights below like a never ending sea of stars. Peter was passed out in his arms. His breathing wheezed and shallow.
Iron Man had arrived at the church as quickly as humanly possible. He had watched impatiently as Steve broke the chains that had kept Peter trapped to the dusty, and blood covered floor. He had listened as Daredevil tried to talk the hysterical teenager down, telling him to breathe, trying to calm the kid. He hadn't protested when Reed Richards had given the boy a mild tranquilizer to put him to sleep.
No, Tony hadn't said a word. He had waited for his quo, for his order to fly the boy back to the Tower.
To get him somewhere safe…
Johnny had been allowed to sit in the Livingroom at the Avengers Tower. Most differences and opinions had been pushed aside today, issues and problems with each other no longer mattering within the situation. Stark hadn't even questioned Johnny as he followed the other heroes into their home.
Johnny had never been here before. Honestly, he can't say he ever thought he would have gotten a chance to either.
The Livingroom was large. The windows stretching from the floor to the ceiling letting the neighboring lights cast shadows about the room. The crowd outside had tripled in size over the last half hour. The news that they had found Spiderman, had save Peter, had gotten around fast.
The people were up in arms.
Johnny couldn't blame them…
Steve greeted May Parker down in the lobby of the Tower.
The older woman looked haggard and tired. Her eyes red-rimmed, her hair a mess. Dried blood slicked across her flushed forehead, her waitress uniform rumpled and dirty.
Steve swallows hard he's never seen May so out of sorts. It's understandable of course. But the events that had led up to her very distressed state made the soldier's chest tighten.
"Mrs. Parker." Steve addresses her, his voice was stronger than he felt. "I'm sorry-"
"Where is he?" May asks, her voice is determined. Her stance strong, but the way her fingers tug at her uniform give away her sorrow.
Steve clears his throat trying to soften his voice from what it had been before. "M'am-"
"My son, Captain," May interrupts again, her eyes staring into Steve's. "I want to see my son."
Steve doesn't see a need to keep her waiting…
Johnny had sat stock still on the couch. The room quiet, the silence too much for Johnny's ears. He had felt that he was slowly slipping away, his mind and body melting as he sat there unmoving. If there wasn't news soon, Johnny was sure to end up becoming nothing more than a puddle on the floor.
That's when Sue had approached him. She had been acting softer with Johnny, her movements and words gentle. She placed a small hand on his shoulder before speaking, her blue eyes empathetic.
His teammates were treating him like a scared wild animal. Johnny wanted to yell at them for it. He wanted to scream at them that he was fine, that he wasn't going to shatter under their touch. That he hadn't been the one who was beaten in the basement of an old run down church. That they should quit worrying about him because that wasn't fair.
But Johnny couldn't form the words. And he didn't think they would help anything either.
Sue had leaned down so that Johnny had no choice but to look at her. She looked tired, grime smeared across her cheeks and into her blonde hair. Today had been a long day for all of them, Johnny realized.
"May's okay." Sue had all but whispered. The words had barely made it into Johnny's numb ears before she went on. "She came to the Tower, she's with Peter now." Johnny could do nothing but nod.
His eyes were burning again. But not from repressed rage, or that hollowing sadness he had become all too familiar with today. No, these tears were for something else entirely…
Johnny had been forced to go back to the Baxter building, after that.
Tony had promised the Four that he would send updates on Peter's condition regularly. And he had said it was okay for Johnny to visit his friend at the Tower as well.
Johnny had planned on it, whether he got permission to or not. But he was glad to have it nonetheless.
Things were going to need to be figured out now. Johnny knew.
Everyone knew that Peter was Spiderman. Everyone had seen him unmasked on live television.
There was talk, of relocating the Parkers to the Avengers Tower. The heroes deciding that that would most likely be the safest place for the two to be for now.
Johnny figured that Peter wouldn't be allowed to attend his school anymore. He knew that that would be hard on Peter.
People were going to treat the brunette like a celebrity now. Johnny wasn't so sure how Peter would adjust to that either.
The Parker's lives were going to be forever changed by this.
But really, (Johnny thought to himself) all those things, all those problems could be dealt with tomorrow. Johnny was tired. In more ways than one.
And the blond figured he had earned some well-deserved sleep...