The interview starts with Everhart introducing herself, the silky man sitting next to her (Quentin Beck, lawyer representing The Daily Bugle), Sharon Carter of SHIELD, Kurt Leeds (Peter’s lawyer), May and Peter Parker. She then thanks Peter for doing this and asks if he’s ready.
Tony leans forward, holding in his breath as he’s waiting to finally hear Peter’s voice again.
There it is. Shaky, timid, and somewhat higher-pitched than if he were relaxed, but still angelic. God, what Tony wouldn’t give to be there with him
and hold his hand, rather than his tense looking aunt.
At first, Everhart asks a few basic questions about the heist and the Avengers. With each answer, Peter’s voice becomes a little more confident, but he continuously picks at the nails of his unplastered arm, showing how very nervous he still is.
Eventually, Everhart asks Peter why he was arrested. Visibly bracing himself by taking a deep breath, he admits, “Because I l-lied about Bruce Banner and Loki Odinson. And because I... tried to keep some of the others’ identities from SHIELD.”
“Why did you do that?”
Peter bites down on his bottom lip. “I didn’t say anything about King T’Challa and Princess Shuri because I didn’t want to risk a conflict between Wakanda and the US. And I lied about Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff and Loki Odinson because they were n-nice to me. They tried to protect me from… physical harm on numerous occasions.”
Actually, Loki did plead with Tony not to punish Peter, and who knows, maybe he did find a way to be good to him during that one week despite the bugged shock collar and Thor watching over them… But is that really the whole mystery behind Peter protecting him?
“Would you say that you’re friends with them?” Everhart asks, tilting her head as she frowns imperceptibly.
“No.” Peter shakes his head vigorously. “I haven’t heard from them since I escaped, and I don’t want to talk to or see them ever again. Any of them. B-But I guess I did see those three as… people I somewhat trusted. I regretted lying right after the first questioning, but I was… too afraid and too ashamed to come clean, so I kept on lying. But I know it was wrong. They are criminals and deserve to go to jail for what they did.”
Everhart nods absentmindedly. “What about Tony Stark? Did you start to see him as someone you trusted as well?”
A muscle in Peter's face twitches and he blinks a few times, but doesn't drop his gaze. Tony leans forward in anticipation, heart pounding rapidly.
"N-No… I didn't. Every single day I daydreamed about running away or..." A tear runs down Peter’s cheek and he swallows thickly, not finishing his sentence. Tony feels a sting in his heart, remembering how Peter begged Loki to kill him painlessly. "Um… B-But it wasn't possible. Not until that one evening when I was able to carry out my plan and escape."
"What was your plan?" Everhart asks.
Breathing heavily, Tony listens to Peter telling them about figuring out how to deactivate Tony’s cameras and ‘emergency system’, waiting for it to rain so nobody would be hanging out outside, and playing sick so Tony would leave him home alone with the saucepan. The longer he talks, the angrier
and prouder Tony becomes; he's such a clever little shit. He really underestimated him...
When Everhart asks if Tony had mostly been with Peter, he nods, “Yes. I was held captive in his house.”
At this, Beck butts in for the first time. “Were you really held captive or was it more like you two living together?”
Peter takes a deep breath before he answers. “The door was usually locked, but most of the time I was… able to move around freely inside the house, if that’s what you mean.”
Everhart takes over again. “Peter, so many people are wondering - what was your ‘daily routine’ like?”
Peter shifts a bit. “There wasn’t a lot to do. I tried to do whatever he wanted, so I wouldn’t get- so I wouldn’t anger him. He, um, wanted me to clean the house and… prepare his meals. Stuff like that.”
The way May’s raising her brows gives Tony the idea that Peter hasn’t told her about this yet. But why? What else hasn’t he told her?
Tony can’t ponder about it for long because Everhart already asks the next question. "Let’s talk about the photo… Can you tell us how it came to be?"
Hesitatingly, Peter nods. "Yeah, sure, um... Natasha Romanoff wanted me to be in it. I know it looks like I'm enjoying myself, but I wasn't. I wanted to be anywhere but there.”
Beck doesn’t seem to believe Peter, though. “Excuse me, Mr. Parker, but that smile of yours does look very convincing for someone who claims to have been held against his will,” he says in an accusing tone, brows rising provocatively.
Once again, Peter shifts, “I know, sir, but… part of my plan was to let him believe that I… liked him. Or at least, that I was comfortable around him. It was essential for gaining his trust. I wanted him to believe that he- that he had b-broken me.”
A quiet ringing starts tormenting Tony’s ears. It’s not like he hasn’t already known that Peter was playing him the last couple of weeks, but hearing it again still hurt.
“I’m sure you did,” Beck says, lips curling into a very fake, arrogant smile. “Unless, of course, you’re lying again. ”
“Peter isn’t lying,” May says through clenched teeth, glaring at Beck with angry tears in her eyes. “I really don’t know what the hell is up with you and your client stirring up hatred against a 17-year-old boy, who… w-who went through so much pain, only to have to sit here and listen to you trying to make a criminal out of him.”
“Let’s stay civil, everyone,” Everhart says in a soothing voice. “Please. Why don’t we-”
But Beck cuts her off. “You can’t blame my client for doing their research and not just blindly believing everything they're told, Mrs. Parker.”
“What research?” May snaps, making Tony feel somewhat proud. “The only thing they do is make up bullsh- um… idiotic lies to gain clicks and make money at my nephew’s expense.”
Beck lets out an unpleasant laugh. “Wrong, Mrs. Parker. They’re drawing reasonable conclusions from very truthful facts.”
“What facts?” May looks ready to kill, eyes flashing. “Peter’s smiling, yes. So what? Even if it was genuine, which it wasn’t, heck, even if he likes Tony Stark, which he doesn’t, it wouldn’t be any of your effin’ business. Peter wasn’t in on the heist. He wasn’t Stark’s boyfriend. Nothing your client says makes any sense.”
“It makes a lot of sense, actually,” Beck states matter-of-factly, folding his legs. “Peter lost his father when he was seven, and his uncle when he was fourteen. Both of whom he looked up to very much. We asked a few psychologists for their opinion and they all say it’s very likely your nephew developed a father complex, hence him starting a relationship with a much older man.”
Baffled, Tony stares at the screen. This is as stupid as it is brilliant.
Oblivious to Peter’s shocked and May’s outraged expression, Beck talks himself into a rage. “And it’s no secret you’ve been struggling to pay your bills. All your neighbors know. You even lost your house two years ago, didn’t you? Maybe Peter didn’t want to be such a burden to a woman anymore, who so generously took him in after he had lost the last member of his family? Or maybe he just wanted to get out of there because he wasn’t even half as happy as you think? I mean, Peter was very unpopular in school, wasn’t he? It’s hard to believe it’s a coincidence that the boy who was always picking on him was the one forced to participate in a degrading, sexual-related act during the heist.”
When Beck makes a break, the camera switches back to Peter. Lost for words, he’s staring at Beck with red, watery eyes, his trembling lips parted slightly.
“And that’s not even it,” Beck continues. “Let’s just assume for a second that Peter’s telling the truth about playing Stark. Why would Stark care about him? I mean, if he really kidnapped him, why would he want Peter to be in this photo? Why would he be all friendly and lovey-dovey towards him? And why in the world would he want Peter to like him?"
As Beck casually leans back, watching Peter with a smug, triumphant smile, a whimper escapes the boy’s throat. Deeply ashamed, Peter buries his pink face in his right hand. Tony’s heart clenches as he feels a bristling rage building up inside of him. Nobody but him is allowed to make Peter cry. Over his fucking dead body.
On screen, May finally loses it. She starts yelling at Beck, and it takes Everhart - and Leeds - a few minutes to get her to calm down again. Everhart then addresses Peter in a soft, unjudging voice. “Peter, do you want to respond to anything Mr. Beck said?”
After a few moments, Peter finally shows his tear-streaked face again, sniffling. “O-Only that I… that I was happy. Aunt May and I… w-we’ve had to deal with a lot but… a-apart from wishing my uncle or my parents were still alive, there’s nothing I would’ve changed about my life before a-all of this. But he… he took everything I held dear away from me. He... H-He was the one who eventually ruined my life.”
Tony’s bottom lip starts trembling. Can he please stop talking now?
As though to prove that he has no spark of decency in him, Beck snorts loudly. “If Stark allegedly treated you so badly, then what use would making him believe that you liked him do? This doesn’t make any-”
“Because his behavior towards me changed,” Peter cries, wiping over his eyes. “He…m-mostly stopped hurting me for fun, and the way he occasionally acted… It made me think that he might want me to be more than his- than his victim, which gave me the idea to p-play him. At the time of the wedding sometime in August, his change in behavior already stuck out like a sore thumb. Not just for me, but… for others who attended it as well. Someone who didn’t know about me even thought we were d-dating because of the way he was looking at me. It was… *BEEP* disgusting, but it gave me hope that my plan might be working.”
… What? Who the fuck would- Jelena. Apart from her and Olga, everyone knew who Peter was. But why in god’s name would she think they were in a relationship? Yes, the other’s have been teasing him lately, and yes, Rhodey claimed he knew about Tony's feelings, but… Peter himself was completely taken aback about Tonys confession… he surely didn’t assume that-
“Excuse me, but this almost sounds like you wanted him to fall in love with you.” Beck lets out a dirty laugh so cold and bitter that it sends a shiver down Tony’s spine.
“In fact... that was the actual plan,” Peter hesitantly says, voice trembling. “G-Getting him to fall in love with me so I could gain his trust and overpower him when the time was right.”
Beck sounds less amused than annoyed now. “Oh, how very convenient. Now I’ve put an idea in your head, haven’t I? Tell us, Mr. Parker, what gave you the idea that a guy like Stark would fall in love with his so-called captive?” Lips curled into a provocative, challenging smile, Beck cocks his head to the side. “You might not know what he’s infamous for, but-”
“I think I happen to know him better than you do, Mr. Beck,” Peter hisses through clenched teeth, giving Beck the look. Tony, who has been on the receiving end of it a handful of times before, shifts uncomfortably. Despite all the tears, Peter’s about to lose his shit, and if that happens, who knows what he’s gonna-
“He told me everything about his *BEEP*-up life… his tragic childhood, his abusive, homophobic father, who forced him to r-rape and kill and eventually turned him into the monster that he is today.”
… No. He did not just-
“And you know what’s funny?” Peter’s lips curl into a broken, bitter smile. “His father did almost the same thing to his mother that he did to me. Kidnapped her and held her captive where he… u-used her for his own needs. I don’t think S-Stark realized it himself, but even if he did, I doubt he’d give a shit. He's a *BEEP* lunatic, hateful and… and bitter.”
Tony’s too shocked to function anymore. This can’t be happening. This fucking little bitch did not give away Tony’s secrets on live national television. He must be dreaming.
Unfortunately, he can’t seem to wake up. Peter’s lips are still moving, his voice still ringing loudly from the screen, each word boring itself deep into Tony’s heart. “But even an asshole like him has… certain emotional needs. You see, ever since his father killed his mom, he’s been on his own and... pretty lonely. There’s not a single soul on this planet who loves him, so I decided to make him think that I did. And it worked.”
Now that Tony’s thinking about it, getting scorched wasn’t so bad after all. At least it hurt a lot less than this...
“After I overpowered him, he cried like a *BEEP* baby, begging me to stay with him.” A fresh tear runs out of Peter’s eyes, but he doesn’t seem to notice. “He even admitted that he *BEEP* loved me… And that wasn’t because he wanted to trick me. He actually meant it. The code for the safe where he kept the keys for the boat… it was my *BEEP* name. This doesn't mean that he treated me like his boyfriend or... as an actual human being in the first place, though."
Just like Tony, everyone on screen is silently gaping at Peter, listening baffled as he’s spilling his guts. “I’m not gonna talk about all the bad things he’s done just so some sick *BEEP* like you can get off on it. The proof of what he did is all over my body. Just like the proof of my utter hatred for him is on his. You should know that when he lay there helpless and crying, I took a hot iron and burned his *BEEP*. Not because I needed to: Because I wanted to. I- I didn’t want him to be able to h-hurt anyone like he hurt me ever again.”
When Peter’s angry, tearful voice breaks, he finally seems to snap out of his rage, wiping over his wet cheeks and eyes. “If you don’t believe me, f-fine. D-Do as you wish. I’m done here.”
From afar, Tony registers Peter getting up and exiting the frame. Whereas May jumps up and follows him, Everhart, Beck, Leeds and Carter start a heated debate. Too shocked to move - too shocked to even think - Tony stays seated in his chair, staring at the screen with glassy eyes.
He doesn’t know how long he’s been sitting there, like death himself, until his phone beeps, signaling an incoming message. Dumbfounded, he grabs it from the coffee table, shaking with anger when he reads Natasha’s message. “Whatever you’re planning to do about this, don’t you even dare. You fucking deserve this.”
So… she saw it. Just like his other friends probably did. Not to mention all those other millions of people laughing at him right now...
Overcome with blinding pain and rage, Tony’s finally able to think straight again. With a swift flick of his hand he flings Peter’s shirt into the crackling fireplace to his left, watching grimly as it catches fire.
Fuck Natasha. Fuck the Avengers. Fuck Peter... If Peter wants a war, he can have one.
He’s going to take the little shit down.
Feeling tired and worn-out, May’s sipping her morning coffee while scrolling through some news websites. Peter’s shocking revelations about Tony Stark and his captivity are everywhere, each headline more sensational than the last. Even though May’s glad that Peter didn’t mention his Stockholm Syndrome (it really isn’t anyone’s goddamn business), she can’t help wondering if that means he lied about Stark’s feelings as well.
Unfortunately, she hasn’t been able to talk to Peter about it yet. He didn’t say one word after they left SHIELD’s headquarters, going straight to bed where he kept on sobbing for hours. Heartbroken, May carefully knocked at one point, but when she opened the door, Peter pretended to be asleep. Since she didn’t want to force him to talk to her, May went to bed herself, tossing and turning while she was tormented by her own distressing thoughts.
It takes Peter until 10 a.m. to join her in the living room. He has dark circles around his eyes, but at least, he’s greeting her when he walks in. “Mornin’.”
“Good morning, honey. Want some cereal?”
“Um… yes, please. Thank you.”
She lets him eat in silence, watching as he’s taking careful bites. Eventually, Peter nervously glances up at her. “A-Are you mad at me?”
“What?” May’s eyes widen. “Why would I be mad at you?”
“For… losing my shit yesterday.”
“Oh, Peter… You did great, sweetheart. You were so brave… I’m really proud of you.” Smiling sadly, she carefully reaches out to touch Peter’s arm. He doesn’t pull it away, but he swallows hard.
“Do you think I should’ve told them more? About what he d-did to me or about… my feelings?”
“No. It’s not their business and it would’ve only confused them more. I took a look around already and almost everyone's on your side.”
Peter sighs, looking a tad bit relieved. “Okay… thank you.” After a few seconds, he adds, “I still wish I didn’t reveal so much of w-what he told me, but I just… lost it. Beck… he reminded me so much of him.”
Shuddering, May tries to fight down the words threatening to come out of her mouth. But she can’t. She needs to know. “About him… loving you... Is it true?”
Dropping his gaze, Peter stares at his half-empty bowl. “I... doubt that he still does, but y-yeah. He did. Um. I think it started after the press conference you appeared at. We were watching it together and I... I just shut down.”
Stark made him watch the press conference?! May feels a burning in the corners of her eyes. Her poor baby...
“To get me out of it and make me feel better he eventually took me snorkeling and to the jetty to watch the fucking sunset with him.” Sniffling, Peter shakes his head. “He even tried to cheer me up by saying how tough you are and that you wouldn’t... h-hurt yourself. And then, he… k-kissed me for the first time without any ulterior motives. Tenderly, even.”
Shuddering, May tries to keep herself from crying. He kissed Peter in a way a loving boy- or girlfriend would. That’s so wrong and… fucked up.
“Over the course of the next few months, he started doing it more often. He also got kinda cuddly and… called me baby, occasionally. That’s why I don’t want you to call me that anymore. It triggers memories I don’t want to think about. For… more than one reason. Yeah. Um. I- I know it’s fucked up, but now I feel really guilty about exposing him like that. Not to mention what I said about his family. He… trusted me with it and now everyone knows.”
“You shouldn’t feel guilty, Peter,” May says softly, giving his arm a comforting squeeze. “You went through so much and… you already have so much to shoulder. Don’t let his secrets become your responsibility as well.”
For the rest of the day, May gives Peter his space, but after dinner, they decide to watch a movie together. Since Peter goes to take his shower first, May decides to surprise him with a mugcake to cheer him up.
When Peter sits down on the sofa thirty minutes later, wrapped in a fluffy bathrobe, May offers him one of the mugs, smiling brightly. “I thought it would be nice to reinstate Mugcake Sunday.”
But instead of cracking a smile, Peter freezes, pupils dilated in shock and hurt as he’s staring at the mugcake in May’s hand. What in the world…?
“Peter… sweetie, a-are you okay?” she asks, stomach churning.
It’s apparent that Peter’s close to tears. Swallowing thickly, he averts his gaze. “I… Y-Yeah, I just… Thank you.”
Very hesitantly, he grabs the mug and a spoon. For a few seconds, he stares at it heartbrokenly before putting his feet on the sofa to sit with bent legs. Feeling extremely self-conscious, May turns on the TV, choosing a dumb action movie that has just started. Having lost her appetite, she half-heartedly dips her spoon into her mugcake, barely paying any attention to the screen.
“I m-made him a few of these.”
Peter spoke so quietly it was barely a whisper. Dumbfounded, May turns her head, heart shattering when she sees how utterly broken her crying nephew looks. “You made him mugcakes?”
“Y-Yeah.” Sobbing, Peter puts his untouched mug down. “And he didn’t even ask me for it. I… I…“ He swallows a few times, apparently unable to continue speaking.
“You don’t have to tell me if you’re not ready for it,” May soothes, despite hoping he would open up to her. The memory clearly upsets him...
“It’s just… H-He did a lot of r-really horrible things to me, but that one punishment… It didn’t even physically hurt, but…” He pauses to blow his nose. “Remember when I told SHIELD about the s-scars on my back?”
“Yes,” May whispers, trying not to burst into tears as well. Stark hit him with his belt. How would that not physically hurt?
“He actually did it because I asked Loki for help, not Clint. And Loki didn’t rat me out to him. Ton- um, I mean, Mr. Stark-”
“You can call him Tony, Peter,” May interrupts, smiling softly. It is weird, no doubt, but as it seems, their relationship was a lot more intimate and personal than she could’ve ever imagined. “Call him whatever you want.”
“Okay…” Peter shifts awkwardly. “Anyways, he found out by bugging the… dog shock collar he'd put on my neck.”
“He did what?” Whimpering, May fails at holding back her tears. Everytime she thinks that it can’t possibly get worse, it somehow does.
Ignoring her, Peter speaks a little faster, as though hoping she won’t interrupt him again. “Tony thought he’d already broken me, so… he got really mad about it. He hit me with his belt until I bled and threatened he’d let his friends h-have their way with me if I didn’t manage to convince him that I was sorry and wouldn’t do anything like that ever again.”
May hates herself for thinking it, but she doubts she would’ve been strong enough to pull through all of this. How in the world did Peter survive the past six months?
“It t-took me about a week to heal. During that time, I stayed with Loki, but Tony forbade him to speak to me. And when I got back to his house, he didn’t speak to me anymore either. N-Not even a single word, on most days. He also… stopped t-touching me and didn’t allow me to eat anything but ridiculous amounts of d-dry bread for almost two weeks, and when he left the house, he l-leashed me up in the bedroom. I know it’s pathetic, but… I think this is w-what ultimately broke me. Not the corporal punishments, the… s-sex stuff or the humiliation. But the fact that he completely ignored me without giving me anything to do or think about other than getting hurt by all his friends if I didn't convince him I'd be good from now on.”
When Peter starts crying again, May clears her throat. “It’s completely understandable that you wanted to be treated like… a human, Peter. Please don’t blame yourself for this.” She tries to smile encouragingly.
Flashing her a grateful, yet broken look, Peter takes a few deep breaths. His voice is hoarse and shaky when he continues. “Time was running out, but nothing I did made him change his mind. Until his birthday, when I surprised him with a peanut butter mugcake and… um. Well, he finally forgave me and I was so relieved… So I decided that from this moment on, I would always be on my best behavior. And he actually started treating me better, but he still kept me locked up and made sure he’d be the only human I had any kind of contact with. I guess I got a little confused and… a-attached to him in that time period. Until the wedding when I realized how far gone I was.”
Although Peter had already admitted to her that he’d actually been looking for Starks’ comfort at the wedding, May only now really understands why her poor nephew's so confused, guilt-ridden and tormented by his feelings. He actively and - more or less - voluntarily approached Stark. He probably even... offered himself to Stark just so he would be forgiven. And maybe, his feelings are even deeper than what he admitted. Everything’s finally falling into place...
“Oh honey… I’m so sorry you had to go through all that.” Crying, May pulls him into a hug. “Thank you for telling me… You are so, so strong… I can’t say it enough. Thank you for not giving up. I don’t know what I’d do without you.”
“The only reason why I c-couldn’t give up was because I w-wanted to hug you one more time,” Peter sobs, pressing his face into his aunt's shoulder. “I love you s-so much, May."
"I love you too, sweetheart. More than anything. And I promise to do everything I can to keep you safe.”
Although May doesn’t know how she could protect him against men like Stark, she knows one thing: she’d rather die than let anyone touch her baby ever again.