Chapter 1: Beginning of the Madness
He wasn’t a fool. He couldn’t be to stay in this business. He observed he absorbed he kept his mouth shut when he needed to and parroted when he didn’t want to and it was fucking dull and disgusting at times, but it kept him alive and helped drag him and Jeff somewhere decent, so he’d never voice his complaints.
He never complained about who he was sent after or what he was ordered to do, or how disgusting the other hunters were. He never gave Fisk shit for the dumb things he came up with, trusting some black widow like Octavius and going after Spiderman like the vigilante could stop him for long. He kept his head down.
But chasing after this small figure, hoodie up and stumbling every few feet but still keeping ahead, he slowly realised he couldn’t. He couldn’t now, because his technology was top-notch. He could see in low light, could switch to heat signatures or infrared and he could make out the figure clear as day. He knew that curly hair and the shape of the face that turned back every-so-often to check for him, he knew that old ratty hoodie they’d accidentally stained with paint one day and never washed out, he knew that run because he’d helped the boy learn how to parkour when he was just starting out and terrified to disobey his dad.
Aaron wasn’t a fool. He wasn’t oblivious, and as he picked up Miles by the back of his collar, went up up up until they disappeared to a rooftop, he knew he wasn’t an idiot either. He wouldn’t be able to persuade Fisk to spare Miles, harmless as the kid was.
Fuck, but he didn’t want to deal with having to take the guy down now.
“Don’t- I didn’t see anything I promise I won’t say anything-!”
“Kiddo, you scoot any further you’re gonna go ass first to the ground.” He let Miles sputter- he really needed to put some instinct into the kid, indignance wasn’t the right response to a technically hostage situation- while he took off his mask, clasps clicking while his nephew slowly went quiet. He kept his face blank while Miles went quiet, taking in his face. The horror on his face was a knife he’d well prepared against.
“...Uncle Aaron? What-” Miles cut himself off. Aaron slowly sat down, cape spooling around him. He left a clear path to the roof access behind him, not that it really meant anything with his speed. “You’re, you.” He saw him swallow, grab at the ends of his hoodie. God, he wanted a smoke.
“I’m a villain, Miles. You can say it. I ain’t denyin’ it.” He unclasped his gauntlet, lying it between them. “Been in the business since your dad and I were your age. I never stopped ‘cause it makes good money.” There was a piece right near the edge, it always made him on edge since it dug in- there. He grabbed hold of the small chip and yanked it off, tossing it as far as he could. “It’s why your dad always tells you to stay away. He ain’t wrong, kiddo.”
“You were going to kill me.” And shit, didn’t that hurt to hear? Miles was right, but well, the truth hurt a lot of the time.
“Fisk’s word is law. You don’t do what he says and he’ll do what you saw.” Miles flinched. He probably shouldn’t have said that. But he can’t shield him anymore. “That’s why you’re staying with me until I say it’s safe, and we’re taking Jeff and your mom somewhere safe.”
“I- what!? Uncle Aaron-”
“You’re all gonna be targets now since I’m not going along with his orders. Which means we’re gonna keep our heads down, stay quiet, and lay low while I handle this fridge motherfucker.”
Aaron didn’t give him another chance to respond. There was a tranquilizer hidden on his suit too and he used it in a second, catching Miles before he fell to the ground. Jeff was gonna be pissed.
...Nah, bringing a six-pack wouldn’t help at this point.
Jeff sat very, very still while Rio murmured over Miles in his bedroom. Aaron let him think while he methodically took off his costume, laying the pieces out. Gauntlets then wristbands then boots then fucking cape why was there so much to this? Was this some goddamn comic book?
“I thought you got out of that.”
“I can’t keep all my promises, Jeff.”
“Can’t or won’t?”
Another knife. It wasn’t worth reacting too beyond a sigh. He laid his costume out in full as Rio came back in the room, hovering at the edges and Jeff leaned back.
“If we get you three outta town, he’ll have less a reach. It’ll make it easier for me to take him out without having to worry about him going after you.” He paused, thinking about the machine underneath the tower. “Might need to stop him from destroying the city, too. The earthquakes have been getting bad.”
“He’s behind- Aaron! ”
“Hey, you’ve seen my apartment! I can afford that and health insurance, I don’t even need to worry about dental-”
“C-n’t leaf.” All three of them jumped. Miles was leaning against the doorway to his room which shouldn’t have been possible, the tranquilizer was supposed to last hours , and he had the determined look on his face that meant they were gonna be dealing with a dumbass for a good while. “I m’de a promise.”
“Mijo? Promise to who?”
The teen held up a USB. He knew that USB. Fuck.
“What is that? More importantly, what were you even doing out to get involved Miles, how did you end up in Alchemax- ”
The teen disappeared. But he was clearly still there, cringing away from Jeff and staring at not-himself with a small, growing whine.
Double fuck. One thing after another, wasn’t it, today?
At least Parker wasn’t involved anymore. One less dumbass kid to follow around.
The new Spiderman was a- kid, teenager, whatever. He could tell just from his voice much as the little guy tried to disguise it, from how desperate he was to try and seem mature. Jeff wondered where his parents were. He wondered if they knew their son had almost died today.
Might still, actually, going by how much he’d been thrown around. He told the super to go to the hospital, let himself be checked by paramedics, but Spiderman only brushed him off, disappeared after some rushed, hackneyed excuse that sounded worse than Miles trying to sneak out to tag. And didn’t that just comfort him completely- that was, not at fucking all.
Jeff went home that night exhausted, hours after the chaos had died down and injuries attended to, after anyone involved was in cuffs and recorded in maximum security. God, but Rio wasn’t going to believe him and Miles- was he okay, where was he? He’d need to know about Aaron, what really happened and much as he was disappointed, at the suit at the implications it still hurt-
And he opened the apartment door to the sounds of Rio and Miles arguing. Weird in of itself, since Miles rarely went against his mama beyond whining about the affection like any other teen, weirder that she sounded absolutely out of her mind with worry.
“Miles? You home?” He called out, full-well knowing he was, and Jeff could hear them fall silent and just knew Miles was shuffling, rounded the corner and saw them in the living room. Miles was on the couch, sprawled awkwardly while Rio stood over him just barely not touching- and then he flicked on the overhead light and saw just why she wasn’t touching.
Miles was absolutely covered in bruises. He could barely see any part of his skin that wasn’t discolored somehow, and he could see more hinted, the careful way Miles held himself and avoided completely lying down on the couch.
Jeff dropped his bag.
“Miles, what in the hell happ- how badly are you hurt? Is anything broken?”
“I’m fine!” Miles cried, when he was very much not, and Jeff watched him try to sit like a normal person and absolutely fail, flinching and wincing too much. “Just- hurt myself a lil’ because of the uh, earthquakes tonight- crazy weren’t those hhhaaa!”
“Uhhh yeah dad?” Miles sort of- flickered almost, like a bad image. And Jefferson…
He knew exactly what his brother got up to, and how loose he was with Miles. He knew exactly where the man would bring him, which meant…
“Miles,” He said very calmly, making the teen freeze like a deer, “Where’s your bag?” And he knew he was on the money when Miles blanched and scrambled on the couch, but his son couldn’t move with Rio hanging over him, well capable of pushing an injured sixteen-year old into the sofa. He checked the living room and found it lying by Miles’ door, beaten and dusty. He wondered how much it had been through today.
“Hey dad how ‘bout we do something else than violate our kid’s privacy, let’s talk about bruise salve and maybe some hot chocolate, cocoa’s good for the nerves isn’t it? Warms you right up-“
It’s sitting right on top. He probably changed just before he staggered in, thought they would be too worried to ask questions.
Jeff tugged the costume out and held the black suit to the light, ignoring Rio’s gasp. He tried to think of something to say, anything. Wanted to yell, praise, beg why he had thought this was a good idea and just how in shit’s name he made it out alive from that battle with Fisk- fuck, his kid almost died ten times today-
“Y’know, you could have just asked for a hug instead of making smalltalk earlier.” Well, he guessed that was what he was going to say. Miles blinked at him blankly for a long moment until his face went deep, deep red.
“I would have hugged you. I could tell you were a kid.”
“DAD, CAN YOU NOT-“
“Would have been careful of the injuries of course, but anyone who just saved the city deserves a hug-“
“CAN WE JUST GO TO THE HOSPITAL I DON’T WANT TO DO THIS-“
They went to the hospital. Jefferson and Rio spent twenty minutes methodically going through the dangers of hero work and how hiding injuries lead to internal bleeding and the ICU. Miles was nearly sitting on the floor of the car when they were by the entry doors and before they unbuckled their belts, Jeff paused one last moment, glancing in the back mirror.
“I’m proud of you Miles,” He said quietly, making sure his son looked him in the eyes, “I am. But you worry us to grey hair on a good day, and we’d rather know if you’re going to be risking your life on a daily basis- since I know you aren’t going to listen to us if I tell you to stop.”
He ignored the guilty glance away and waited. Miles hand was resting on the door handle, clenched round it best he could. He breathed in quick, surged forward in his seat and grabbed them both around the shoulders to tug into a tight hug. Jeff could feel his shoulders shake.
“I love you mom, dad. Sorry.”
The wait in the emergency room was quiet. It wasn’t quite grim.