A piece of toast hung from his mouth as the teen rushed to pack the rest of his things, jumping at his father in a tight hug before running off to the car where Happy was waiting. Happy drove the teen to school, Peter making sure to speak up, “You don’t need to pick me up right away after school, Ned and I are going to play the new update of Pokemon Go,”
“Did you tell that to Tony?”
“Peter you know the rules, it’s not safe for you to be out. Especially after that reporter put your school on lockdown trying to talk to you,” Happy answered, sounding annoyed.
“Happy I’m not that recognizable, I’ll wear my hood. Ned and I never get to play,” the teen pled, eyes widening to seem more innocent, resulting in a frustrated sigh.
“We'll ask your dad, so I expect you here when the bell rings unless I tell you otherwise,” with that Happy drove off, a plan forming in the fourteen year old’s head. Would it really be the end of the world if he skipped school today?
Him and Ned never got to do anything adventurous, both of them were also smart enough and ahead in their work it wouldn’t kill them to miss a day. Not needing to think about it any further, Peter dialed his friends number.
“Ned, we’re going to skip school today and play Pokemon. We can ask MJ for our work and just say they accidentally marked us absent, it happens all the time,”
“I don’t know dude, won’t your dad be mad? He’s Iron Man, you’re Iron Man’s kid. I’m sure he has his reasons for not letting you do stuff like that, ” Ned’s voice came through, slowly growing louder as Ned walked up to him and hung up the phone.
Peter’s head tilted to the side, a pleading look on his face, ”C’mon dude, we can find a Mudkip,”
“A Mudkip you say?” Ned nearly shouted, “What are we waiting for? Let’s go,”
With a triumphant smile Peter followed, the school bell falling upon deaf ears. Loading up his app, Peter and Ned followed the games lures, stopping by at several coffee shops and battling a few gyms.
“Where’d this guy find a Porygon?” Peter gasped, spamming his phone before another lure down the block caught his attention as he exited the battle. Munching on his coffeecake, Peter tugged on his friend to get his attention. Ned followed quickly, just as pleased to see another lure for them to catch some more Pokemon.
“Dude real talk, what’s your team?”
“Do you mean my party, or like team team Valor or something?” Peter asked, mind whirring in hundreds of different possibilities.
“Your party,” Ned clarified, throwing some pokeballs at a nearby Seviper.
“Ned you can’t just ask me the hardest question ever, plus the new games not even out yet!” The teen laughed, before adding, “I’d probably try to make a team to match the Avengers,”
“The real question is your dad Scizor or Bisharp?”
“Silvally!” His answer was firm, and couldn’t help but laugh at the realization on his friends face.
“Oh my god because whatever disk you give it, it can change its typing! That’s smart but the other two look more like him you know?”
“They do but Silvally’s more versatile, and you know how my dad is with his suits,”
“Speaking of dude, we’ve been out all day. If we don’t start heading back before school’s out, your dad’s going to be pissed,” his friend pointed out, looking anxious as he pocketed his phone.
“Fine, which is the way back?”
“I thought you knew,” Ned returned with a heavy sigh, pulling out his phone again and mistaking the worried look on his friends face before trying to assure, “It’s alright Peter that’s why the internet ex-”
Peter watched horrified as his friend hit the ground, a shaking man behind him, holding the crobar that had knocked his friend in the back.
“Come with me!” The man ordered, sounding just as terrified as Peter felt but before he could hit his phones panic button the man knocked the metal bar into his hand. The boy’s hand breaking with a hiss, phone crashing into pieces on the hard pavement below.
“Hurry up Stark!” the man growled, skin so sweaty his clothes were stained but his grip was tight as he grabbed the boy’s wrist. Already injured, the boy whined being forcefully dragged away from his unconscious friend.
Now he understood why his father was so strict with his outings, it wasn’t like he didn’t let him do anything but it wasn’t often Peter got to do anything without Happy a few steps back. Now as he was being shuffled into the back of a van, Peter wished his father or his Uncle was here with him.
Happy tapped against the steering wheel, gut churning after he sent yet another text to the teen. A majority of the kids had already cleared out, he swore if Tony had allowed Peter to go hang out with his friend and the boy forgot to tell him he’d be pissed.
The thought of Peter simply ignoring him or having gone off himself didn’t come to the man’s mind. It wasn’t in the kid to disobey. Hell, he was the sweetest kid Happy had ever met. The car’s speaker chimed, the dash’s display alerting him the inventor was calling.
Before Happy could even speak Tony’s voice surrounded him, “Do you have Peter?”
“No, I’m still waiting for him,” His temples were now throbbing at the worry at the other man’s tone.
“They said he wasn’t at school, neither was his friend Ned,” Tony heaved through the phone. Those words filling the body guard up with a dread, remembering the pleading eyes Peter gave him that morning.
“When I dropped him off this morning he said he wanted to play his game with his friend after school. You know the game where you have to actually walk around?” He wasn’t met with an answer for a few seconds, he couldn’t even hear the man breathing on the other end.
“I’m tracing his phone,” there wasn’t any emotion in his words which caused the driver to shiver, “And I am going to ground him forever. I’ll send the address, you’ll probably get there first,”
The call ended before Happy could say anything, but he didn’t have much to say anyway. Switching the car into drive, he sped off, the dash lighting his way. Still in shock that the ever so innocent Peter had skipped school.
Of course it wasn’t to do anything bad, which was a relief. Happy just wondered if his game was really worth the parental wrath of his father. But he was a kid, bound to slip up, they all do. Happy could only hope this was it.
Happy frowned at the flashing lights ahead, an ambulance was parked, Peter nowhere in sight but his friend was sitting in the back of the red vehicle, a bright orange shock blanket around his shoulders.
Exiting his car, Happy quickly rushed out, noticing an officer in cheap gloves bagging a very cracked Stark phone. He recognized it as the young Stark’s immediately, Tony had gifted one to...ted? Ned? before because Peter seemed upset their calls were so shaky and Tony a loving parent decided to fix that problem.
The thing was, Peter’s phone was red. The other kid’s blue, and the phone being bagged was very much the same red that donned his bosses suit. An officer briskly tried to usher him away only for him to flash his badge.
“Mr. Hogan?” The child wrapped in a blanket asked, looking scraped up and devastated, guilty too. It didn’t help when Iron Man landed on the scene, the kid looked ready to piss himself. Happy would too if he had to explain what the hell happened and answer where the teenage Stark was.
Happy didn’t have high hopes with the cracked phone, Peter Stark may be a great kid, but he’d never be able to live a life without some sort of threat while his DNA was a product of Anthony Edward Stark.
The avenger didn’t even have to say anything before the teen was spewing, sobbing, “We just wanted to play Pokemon and we went too far, and we were just about to go back to school...and when I was just checking the route back when Peter seemed to notice something behind me... then I woke up here alone,” Tony’s hard exterior faltered, and he laid a hand on the teen’s shoulder.
“Happy’s going to keep you company until your parent’s get here,” With that the inventor shot back up into the air, landing on a nearby building. Taking the time to browse through the areas security cameras.
The veins in his neck prominent, a roaring fear in his gut. Peter had been in such a rush this morning all he’d gotten was a hug, he didn’t even tell the kid he loved him. The inventor tried not to think so darkly, but in a pretty large percentage of kidnappings the victim was dead within the first two hours.
Tony could only be thankful that this was probably anything but random, meaning Peter had probably been taken for ransom. He could work with that. He couldn’t work under the impression he was searching for a corpse, refused to.
“You are so fucking grounded,” the man growled as a white van came into the cameras view, that had to be it.
The teen groaned as he was thrown into the back of the vehicle, relieved he hadn’t been restrained but when he tried the handles he wasn’t surprised they were locked. It still didn’t help the pit in his stomach.
Pain erupted beneath him as he noticed he was leaning on clumps of dried cement and cinder blocks. Several large buckets were stacked along the side of the car, all containing wet cement.
The gloves, hardhat, and trowels let the boy know the man worked in construction. His overactive mind didn’t take that fact without supplying the sick things that made the man capable of. His fear momentarily made him forget his throbbing hand.
The back of his left hand was swollen into an angry red, blue and green bruising painting his knuckles and a majority of the palm of his hand. Hugging the appengage to his chest, the boy resigned to his fate by sitting on his feet.
“Excuse me?” The teen didn’t know what this kidnapping was about, but it was clear to him his kidnapper was just as afraid as he.
“What kid?” the man asked in his high pitched tone, constantly scanning the road nervously as he drove.
“Why are you doing this?” the question had the man frantically shaking his head, as if it pained him to even think of his reasoning which sent the teen scrambling backwards.
The vehicle pulled over so quickly the teen landed on his bad arm, scrapping the other one on the concrete bricks surrounding him. A scream penetrated the car, as the man exited and rounded around.
The door’s to his escape opening, “Shut the hell up,” the man was screaming, crying too as he grabbed the crowbar and started swinging. A hit to the shoulder, a punishing hit to the back of the head, several more to the ribs, one across the teen’s cheek.
The young Stark wasn’t conscious when the man stopped, the man's eyes wide with horror as he couldn’t see the boy’s chest rise and fall, having knocked the breath from him and broke his ribs.
“Oh no, Ricky’s going to kill me. Oh god, I didn’t mean to kill him, oh no. Stark’s going to get me,” the shifty wide eyes of the frantic man trailed over his equipment. Knowing there was a site nearby with concrete being filled. Swiftly grabbing a spare tarp, the man sobbed hysterically as he wrapped the bloodied body up. The head wound a bloody mess, it’s rusty scent nauseating.
“God I’m sorry kid, I just needed the money. I just needed the money,” if the man weren’t so preoccupied he’d have noticed the weak breaths and thumps of the boy’s heart but he didn’t bother to check as he beat the steering wheel through traffic, continuing to scream, “I just needed the money.”
As he pulled up onto the scene, the pit was easily spotted, and under the quickly approaching nightfall the young teen’s body was thrown down into the emptied pit. When morning struck the pit would be filled, and the boy would be no more.
Tony watched tersely as the sun slowly started to rise, connecting several different pieces of footage together when some were lost. It was a puzzle trying to chase the white van, but Tony had faced bigger challenges and carried on. Breath hitching as in one clip he could blearily make out the man pulling the car over and opening the back. The car had been parked for a significant amount of time before turning around and going elsewhere.
Tony following just a step behind as the lag on the cameras were atrocious. The video then showed the surveillance footage inside the construction site, Tony forcing his thrusters to go faster when on the screen he could clearly see what he could only assume was his son’s body being thrown into a pit.
“No, no!” the elder Stark roared, flying over the facility as a whirling rumble echoed throughout the air. Thick splotching thumps churning the man’s gut. The billionaire ran to the site, crying as the machine started to drop the wet cement into the same pit his son had been dumped in.
The suit dove in without him to lift the boy out, carefully setting the body down flat as it unwrapped the tarp. The inventor struggling not to lose his lunch at the sight of his son’s mangled and bloodied body, deathly pale and still.
“Bambi,” the older man whimpered, tears streaking down his cheek. Hands trembling as he reached out to check the boy’s pulse. It was desperately weak and Tony couldn’t bring himself to even ask his AI the extent of the boy’s injuries.
At the moment the boy was alive, that meant he could be helped. There was something to be done. Loud sirens were closing in, FRIDAY having contacted the medics immediately when she detected a pulse.
The inventor's world whited out in the seconds it took for him to get in the ambulance with his son, the horror of seeing his son’s bloodied head and deathly still body had him falling deep within the darkness too. The rush of emotions over, leaving him deflated under the care of the startled but understanding medics.
Bright lights had the small body wincing as he tried to open his eyes. The task too hard for his muddled brain, leaving him to stay still and inhale the nasty scent of antiseptic. He couldn’t complain, anything was better than the bitter tang of blood.
“What if I was too late?” Peter was sure he heard his father ask, voice low and frightened.
“You weren’t,” a female voice returned, Peter wanted to assume it was Pepper but that was too much work for now. He was content with listening in, his body agreed.
“He lost so much blood, I didn’t even think he was alive when I got there. Everytime I close my eyes I see him lying there...so still. Even when he was a baby he wasn’t that still. It was...god it was so red. His skin, it was clumping and coating his hair. The nurse was so quiet as she had to scrub it all out,”
“I know but Peter’s always been a fighter-”
“He’s so small, he shouldn’t have to fight. He shouldn’t have to be in a hospital bed, having been beaten with a goddamn crowbar by some meth head wanting to pay his dealer back. I’m supposed to protect him, and I was too late. He knew better, Peter fucking knew better not to go out without protection and he did it anyway,”
“Tony, you’re right Peter didn’t deserve this. He shouldn’t have to fight. But you can’t protect him from everything and that’s okay. You know Peter wouldn’t want you to blame yourself for that, he knows there’s things he has to face on his own and he needs you to know that too. I know it was wrong of him to skip out on school, and yes you can ground him later. But he’s here now, you have him and I’m sure he’ll never run off again,”
“I would have went with him if…”
“I know, but I don’t think that’s what he would want if that were the case,”
“I know that, but how could I leave him?”
“You’re not, and he’s not leaving you either. You should go home and get some sleep, take a shower. I’ll be with him,”
“I’m not leaving him,”
“At least try to sleep,”
The advice wasn’t for him but Peter followed it regardless, his brain in it’s highest amount of activity hoping his father did too.
The next time the boy woke he could feel a presence against his side, the faded scent of cologne and oil cluing him in on the identity. He could also feel the padding of bandages, along his arms and torso, even gently wrapping around his head.
A harder force was around his hand, clearly a cast. His cheek also had something sticking to it, but he couldn’t muster the strength to lift his scraped up hand and check. It had to be some type of band aid.
The teen hadn’t processed his eyes had opened, not until he felt them burning with the need to blink. His long lashes batted against his cheeks as he blinked in rapid succession, soft but deep breathing whispered beside him.
The teen gaining a meager amount of strength to strain his neck to the side so his head was resting on his father’s shoulder. His throat feeling dry, strangled as he chuffed for a few seconds before the tickle went away.
A doctor padded in, Happy in tow. His pseudo Uncle surprised at his consciousness, while the doctor got to work in checking how lucid he was.
“I’m sure you could use some water,” the man grinned, holding up a straw and Peter's chapped lips latched on in stalled seconds. Purring at the moisture that cleansed his throat, upset to be derived from the heavens as the doctor pulled it away.
“Peter can you tell me your birthday?” The boy blinked heavily in response, he did know his birthday. His vocal cords just weren’t sure he wanted to answer just yet.
“Aug-ust,” the teen managed, smacking his tongue in his mouth, “Twenty seventh,” the T and H heavy with a lisp.
“Good, do you know where you are?”
“Last question for now I promise, do you think you know what day it is?”
That proved to be the wrong answer at Happy’s worried look, the doctor’s voice went from tentative to informal in a split second, “No, it’s Wednesday afternoon. On Monday you seemed to have gotten yourself in a bit of trouble. I assumed you might be experiencing a little memory loss after that, so Peter can you tell me what you remember last?”
“My math homework, and telling dad goodnight,” the teen’s brow scrunched as he tried to remember further. But the day or the Pokemon he caught didn’t come to mind. He didn’t know why he was here, something he thought should have scared him, especially when he overheard his dad talking earlier. Something about a meth head or something.
Peter just knew their conversation had made him sad.
“Dad?” the boy found himself calling, a spike of that fear finally breaking into his brain. The doctor stepped away, wondering if he’d need to sedate the boy, pleased that wouldn’t be necessary because that frightened word had the sleeping man beside him open his eyes immediately.
Happy let out a relieved sigh, the inventor now awake and in full on coddle mode. Cooing and pressing kisses to the boy’s hair and face.
“I’m here bambi,” the man assured for minutes and minutes, pent up anger seeping in now that he saw the boy was okay and was no longer scared, just relieved to be in his arms. But before he could give the boy a very stern talking too the doctor spoke up.
“Mr. Stark, my earlier concern of some memory loss seems to be true,” the anger vanished, how could he reprimand the boy for something he didn’t remember? He couldn’t, and god that didn’t matter nearly as much as whatever else the boy could have forgotten.
His eyes locked onto the small child, holding him carefully but firmly. The teen snuggled close, feeling ashamed at his listlessness. But the calloused fingers in his hair helped.
“I do believe it will come back, he just doesn’t seem to remember the day of the attack.”
The teen began to feel the tug at his eyelids once more, he almost fought the urge to sleep. Feeling the need to know his predicament, but if the doctor said he’d likely remember the day he’d accept it. Plus his dad was there to fill him in and make sure he was okay.
The inventor noticed his little one falling back into the dark, encouraging it with a kiss to the crown of his hair, the mechanic was more than relieved the entirety of the boy’s memory wasn’t tampered with and sucked the rest of his feelings back down into his gut.
Peter was with him now and that’s all that mattered, and when Peter remembered they’d have a long conversation about following the rules. It’d take him a long time to let the teen out of his sight, and rid himself of the image of a broken nearly lifeless body but it was a reality he knew he'd have to live with.
Whispering against the sleeping teen’s hair, the inventor lulled himself back into a restless sleep.
“I love you Pete, I won’t let you down again. I’m so sorry, please help me so I can help you kiddo, please. I don’t think I can take it if you don’t,”