Chapter 1: Sign One: Locked
Suit Lady. That's who she was.
Peter Parker knew that she was an AI and needed a real name. But he just didn't let it go into his head, lingering through his thoughts of teenage angst and drama. His mind instead wondered on how he could be stuck here with a suit being the only person to talk to. The fact that he was stuck here for a while until that damn door opened. The fact that he could've been with his friends and classmates getting ready for that competition. The fact that he was shocked he didn't lose any friends. Yet.
He knew as well as the sun would come up that he wouldn't keep them any longer. Maybe he would keep Ned. That was his best friend forever, anyways. Michelle though? She would leave him if it meant getting some time alone. Flash? He wouldn't even recall what the scrawny brown haired male looked like. And... Liz...
She probably didn't know his name. Who he was even up to now. Her dark beautiful black eyes probably erased the image of Peter from her mind last night. She wouldn't miss him anytime soon.
As a matter of fact, he imagined it all. She would probably be making out with Flash Thompson of all people. Or some jerk. And laughing hysterically as the young hero watches and screams in agony as the storms approach him and drench his body in tears, rain drops and lightening.
Then he would be dead, dug ten feet under like those horror movie mascots and his grave would read 'Here lies Peter Parker. Son, nephew and idiot teenager. He sucked at love and couldn't even keep a single friend.'
Over dramatic? Definitely.
He didn't care though. His teenager life was ruined. Everything was messed up now. He would probably die of starvation and boredom in this room. Or survive, who knows. If he does, he would probably be forced to become the laughing stock of the school. The idiot. The dunce. He would have to wear a big cone on his head while teenagers smother him in evil laughter. His Aunt May probably kick him out and he'll be the janitor at the nearest grocery store.
Yep. He was over-exaggerating again. He needed to get his mind off things...
His mind went swimming in worry and horror before he did the one thing he hated to do. He just. Spoke. Out loud. To himself. Or more importantly, to the AI.
"Suit Lady," He called out absentmindedly, feeling his inner spirit smacking his head in embarrassment. "I feel bad calling you suit lady. I should give you a name. How about... Liz- No! no no no!" Peter quickly caught himself, feeling his inner spirit beginning to beat him up really bad as he spoke to the air around him. His dignity and confidence were being murdered with every second that passed in awkward silence. He had to seriously think about this. What was a name that would best fit a voice? What's a nice name for a nice female? Or whatever she was.. Laura? Carol? Natasha?...
"How about. Karen?..."
'You can call me Karen, if you would like,' Was the first thing the AI had spoken since the two were stuck in this place. Her voice was pretty. Calming. For an AI. It was inviting to Parker a bit. But not that inviting to where he would just pour his heart to her right then and there... Then again. They were the only people in there. That is. Person and AI in there. So he had no choice honestly. There was a question burning into Peter's skull, waiting to be answered and released like a firefly in a jar. He just had to release it or it'll die. Or he'll regret it.
With a big sigh escaping his mouth and delivering warmth onto his face in the cage that was his mask, the young boy whispered softly, "Should I tell Liz I'm Spider-man?"
'Who's Liz,' Karen's voice slithered through Peter's mask, through his ears like a pebble to the water. It skipped angelically in his ears, it was rather comforting.
"Who's Liz," He chuckled nervously, feeling the butterflies develop in his stomach suddenly at the question and the thought of a beautiful teenager crossing his mind. "Liz. She's the best. She's just a girl who goes to my school. And um... Yeah. I really want to tell her... But isn't it weird saying, 'Hey! I'm Spider-man!'"
'What's weird about that?'
"What if she expects someone like Tony Stark," Peter responded, the venom in his voice spatting onto the fabric of his mask. It was relevant that he was upset with who he was. He could feel his narrowed eyebrows curling in the suit and his frown crushing underneath. He could feel the butterflies burning inside of his stomach. His intestines. Intensely. It was painful. It sucked that he wasn't rich, or handsome or cool. He was just a kid. A teenager. No one special. A friendly neighborhood cliche... What would Liz ever see in him?... Nothing...
'Well. If I were her? I wouldn't be disappointed at all.'
That was it. Those words enough had caught Peter Parker by surprise. Those set of words from a voice like that, without hesitation. As if she had knew the boy for such a long time. Karen, an AI, was not disappointed by him. He had fell from a sign, let a bad guy get away, and got himself held hostage out of nowhere by omission. Everything to show how much of a novice he was in this superhero business. How he shouldn't be here right now with this title... But unlike everyone. Unlike Tony. She saw something in him. Whether programmed or not, Karen saw potential in him. She saw not disappointment. But Spider-man. She saw Peter Parker. A boy worth looking upon...
Something about that made him feel. Bubbly inside... Weird...
All he could do was smile in that moment. He could just chuckle and respond, "Thank you, Karen... It's really nice to have someone to talk to..." Karen was a AI. He wouldn't forget that much. But it was crazy how in a matter of a few minutes he had already grown a bit closer to her as if she was human. He didn't know just yet, but he had a hunch feeling after all this. That him and Karen would talking for a lot longer. They would probably be friends... Nah.
They would definitely be friends...
Chapter 2: Sign Two: Impressions
In a way, Karen was still a child. Just. With special gifts.
For starters, she wasn't a human being but a mask, a piece of cloth placed on one's face to cover up another's identity. She was someone else's identity placed into something that wasn't even a body. Karen was identified not as a being, but as an artificial intelligence produced by Tony Stark. She served the only purpose her brother had to the creative millionaire in place of anyone else who wields her; to be a partner in crime and assistant in missions to help protect civilization. She would never speak her mind unless she was questioned. Nor would she possess her only state of mind while connected to her host. She was a program. And she was to function as that...
But Karen was so curious of the world.
She was so much like a foreigner to the soil of America and the world. Though the AI was the most intelligent being in the world, she never experienced things from a physical standpoint. Karen had never mastered her sense of sight and hearing, not even in the early ages of her development. She longed to see color. To speak her mind even if she lacked a physical one. To expand on herself and see what she was capable of. Yes, she was an AI and she always would be. But maybe she could be something more. How?
With the guidance of her user, Peter Parker.
If you were to ask her of the young boy, she would describe him in the same way anyone else would. Peter Benjamin Parker was a intelligent, curious and innocent young man with plenty of talents hidden and displayed to the naked eye. However, he did have some skills under his sleeves that could only be viewed via human brain and within the skin of Spider Man. Those were the aspects of himself that only she and Tony Stark were familiar with. Him more then herself. Though she knew that would change through the passing of time.
Since they’ve first met, Karen could feel that Peter would be a great guidance to the world around her immediately. Not only did he summon her sooner then later to become his partner in crime and explored his new found abilities with her to help, but he also displayed to her what the world was like. He gave her her first sight of Earth. The midnight blue sky, the headlights gleaming besides a dirty gas station, a functioning car up close and personal.
An actual conversation…
She never had one of those...
In a way, Peter Parker would be her opening to everything in the world first hand. Just as long as he was wearing his superhero mask. That was and would be their gateway to conversations, missions and training. He would be her guide to the human world no matter what. Of course, she told herself every day in her cyberspace, she would never use him as a human skin suit. Never try to use him for his own personal gain. For the two of them were there to help one another in a friendly and natural manner. Just like how she was there to be emotional support regarding Liz Allan. From this point forward, they were not only partners, they were friends...
Before she knew it, she could hear a familiar voice all around her. A young male voice echoing in her personal space, delivering a sense of slight delight through her programs. It was him.
"Hey Karen, what's up?"
'Hello, Peter,' She immediately responded softly to the teenager as her sight began to fade to a realistic setting. It was met with a rack of jackets, a drawing and shelves full of many discoveries. Mainly clothes and junk, but still fascinating. What really caught her off guard was the coat that the walls concealed on them. It was of a shade of painting known as dark coffee brown.
Being an AI, Karen started to examine the meaning behind such a color choice. The senses it gave off was of nature, strength, reliability, security and safety. However, it also provoked the feeling of emptiness, loneliness, sadness and stark. Was the young man experiencing depression? Did he long for something or someone so bad? Could it be Liz?
Oh no. The sadness was getting to her in the embodiment of worry.
She better change the subject or do whatever it takes to get rid of this horrible emotion!
'How was your Spanish Quiz?'
"Oh. It went pretty good," Peter answered casually with a slight shrug of his shoulders. "Thanks for asking. Now, Karen. I was wondering if you could help me. I was trying to wonder who the guys under the bridge were that night. But. I mean. I can only remember part of the license plate."
'I can run facial recognition on the footage of that encounter,' Karen informed him, seeing inside the mask how Peter's eyes went bright with shock and his mouth open a gap. The young boy quickly recovered to reply quietly,
'Yes, Peter. I record everything you see. It's called a baby monitor protocol.' The sound of that was enough for Karen to hear the drop of a pen suddenly. She could've questioned it if Peter didn't continue to blurt out in a hint of annoyance, "Yeah. Of course it is... Umm. Yeah. Just run it back to last Friday."
'With pleasure.' With that, Karen brought Peter back to the night of last Friday. Upon arrival, she examined the face of Spider Man with a plain white t-shirt in front of a mirror. In a mixture of curiosity and to accomplish her order, she played the footage to see a cocky and still nerdy Peter Parker perform an impression of his super hero ego in front of her. "Oh! Hey, everyone! Kick ass party! Hey, what's up, Liz? Peter's told me a lot about you." If she had a face, she would be smiling at the actions of this young man, enjoying the sight of him having fun with his imagination of being a hero at a intimate get together with peers. It displayed he had a healthy mindset and creative process. Thought to himself, it showed only embarrassment.
"No no no. No no. This is just me messing around," He interrupted himself, having Karen feel the warmth on his cheeks. "G-Go. Later in the day. Later in the day." Listening to his orders, Karen sped through the youth's day to reach yet another display of his mind at work in a playful manner. Peter found himself with his mask on and the same white shirt in front of a mirror. This time though, he held a stick proudly that was almost identical to a hammer. Karen automatically knew where this was heading and she loved it. "It is I! Thor! Son of Odin!"
"Nope," Peter quickly rejected with a wail of his own arms and swiping them away as if a fly was in his peripheral vision. "No no no no no no no! That's defi-. No. That's definitely not what we want to watch." Before she could do so, Peter was able to hear the sound of Karen's voice hitching in a pattern upon the air as if it was jumping on it like a trampoline. The sound was one of happiness and a bit of enjoyment not only to his ears but also her own. After a while, he could tell.
She was laughing.
'Your impressions are very funny.'
"Wait. Are you trying to be funny or something," He questioned immediately with wide eyes that narrowed in bewilderment and cautiousness. 'Of course not, Peter. Your impressions are funny. In a. Comforting manner.' The AI's words were enough to make the teenager loosen gradually and have his eyes glance upwards as if there was something on his ceiling or in the sky.
'It displays your state of mind. That you're an average teenage boy. Let alone a child.' The mention of a single word conceived a smack from her user before she continued. 'You're healthy based on your adoration for Liz and the Avengers, especially Thor. And that's really good seeing as depression and danger levels for teenagers are at a high spike around these years of their lives... Maybe that's why i was very concerned about your choice of painting on your wall.' The boy was about to question his AI before glancing at his walls, which were dark and dreary in a way. 'It gives off a sense of loneliness and emptiness. Is something wrong that you would like to talk about, Peter?'
After a few seconds of silence, there was a dry chuckle that escaped the young male's mouth and released into the audio system of Karen. She felt him shake his head and his teeth slightly gracing the mask through a toothy grin. "Karen. My walls just came that way," He answered happily. "I never bothered to change the color due to me and Aunt May's budget. Nothing serious if that's what you're thinking. No depression on me."
'That's really great to hear, Peter,' She sighed before he continued with one more laugh.
"Were you worried about me?"
'I was,' Karen answered softly to the shock of the teen. 'I don't want you to be upset or in pain, Peter. You're too young. You don't need those burdens on your back. You deserve to be happy. As Peter Parker and as Spider Man.' In that moment, Peter had felt that something hit him right in his chest near his heart. It didn't feel like agony. It felt. Good. It felt like genuine care for himself as a normal boy.
He could feel the concern from Karen. How much she was so worried for him... He should have known by now, he told himself. She wasn't just an AI. He was his support. His friend. She shouldn't be taken for granted now that he knew that. With her now in his life, when it came to his super hero world, he would not be alone. Nor in his everyday life. She was here for him. He was here for her. They were connected now, whether he liked it or not. But honestly? He really liked it. It was shown on his face.
A face full of genuine happiness...
"Thank you, Karen...."
'You're welcome, Peter.
Now onto the arms dealing as you requested....'