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Deprivation of Sanity

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Tony has never felt so many various emotions all at once. Fury. Physical Pain. Fear. Emotional Pain. Despair. 

Groaning, he opens his eyes, looking right at the ceiling of his kitchen. The left side of his face is burning like hell, but it’s nothing compared to the blinding agony he feels ‘down there’. It's a pain unlike anything Tony has ever felt before - and he had gotten all different kinds of injuries in the last four decades, including burns he received from his father, who liked to use Tony’s skin as an ashtray for his cigarettes whenever he was in a really bad mood. 

Adding to the physical distress are all these conflicting feelings which are tormenting him. Feelings regarding Peter. His perfect, broken boy, who, as it turns out, was neither perfect, nor broken. At least not broken enough.

After all, Peter still had enough willpower and strength in him to turn on Tony and plan a daring escape. He fooled Tony, beating him at his own game, with his own tech. And now, the boy is either as good as dead or on his way to safety, in which case Tony and his friends would need to get off this fucking island as fast as they can.

The man has no idea how much time has passed since Peter has scorched his crotch, but since he can still make out all his furniture without the lights on, it can’t be that late yet. Did Peter manage to start the engine of the boat? Is he… really gone? God, he already misses him. 

Struggling against his bonds, Tony tries to move, but he’s forced to give up right away. It hurts too fucking much. Feeling desperate, Tony tries to yell, but the tape is sealing his mouth shut, forcing him to lay there and wait, fighting to stay conscious. 

Rhodey will know something happened if Tony doesn’t show up at 8:00 pm... won’t he? However, even if he finds him, it might be too late...

Although Tony wants to beat the fucking kid to a bloody pulp right now, the thought of Peter flipping over and dying a lonely death at sea, lost for all eternity, is unbearable. Swallowing down the lump in his throat, Tony thinks back to the last conversation they might have ever had. It hurt so much to hear all the pain, disgust, and hatred in Peter’s voice. but what hurt even more was realizing that the boy had been playing him. 

During the last couple of weeks, Peter acted as if he liked Tony as well. And Tony - idiot in love that he is was - fell for it. When did it all go wrong? Peter had been so broken and tame until-

The wedding. Of course. Peter asked Tony to let him join them on the boat trip, and then he initiated sex at the bonfire. And right after Tony told him about Wakanda, Peter claimed that he felt good around him and that he liked it when Tony called him names.

So this is why Peter eagerly offered to tidy the whole house. He was trying to find every single camera and surely deactivated one of them on purpose so he could find out what would happen. That’s why Peter knew JARVIS would be sounding the alarm if the power was on.

The little shit had been planning it for weeks, taking Tony for a complete fool... 

Oh, he’s going to kill that son of a bitch.

Driven by a raging desire for vengeance, Tony somehow gains enough strength to roll onto his stomach, only to almost pass out at the excruciating pain radiating from his crotch. Maybe it’s good that it hurts… If it hurts, not all nerves are burned off. And yet, what if the burns are so severe that Tony can never get another erection or orgasm again?

A very tiny, honest part inside of Tony can’t help thinking that this punishment is the least he deserves for the way he treated Peter, but he immediately scolds himself for it. He must not have thoughts like these. Being nice and somewhat "decent" is what got him into this situation in the first place. As well as the pathetic wish to find true love after all, it seems. 

It’s gotten a bit darker when Tony thinks he hears footsteps outside. Praying it’s not SHIELD, Tony screams into the gag as loudly as he can, hoping it will be heard despite the TV running, and a few seconds later, the door swings open. “Tony?”

“Mmmpf,” the man shouts, wincing when the light gets turned on.

“Holy shit!” Rhodey dashes forward, his eyes flickering from Tony’s injured face to his bare buttocks. Right. Maybe it would have been better to get shot in the head after all and spare himself the embarrassment of getting found like this. At least it’s only Rhodey…  

“What- what happened?” Rhodey painfully rips the tape off Tony’s mouth.

“The kid bolted,” he hisses, “He… forced me to tell him the code to the safe. I think he took the boat.”

“Shit, so Loki was right,” Rhodey gunts, struggling to get the tape off Tony’s wrists.

“Loki? D-Did he see him?”

“No, but he heard one of the boats driving off. Since visibility is bad, he tried calling you a bunch of times to ask about it, but you didn’t pick up. When he sent a message to the group chat, I thought I’d check on you, just in case...”

“When was that?”

“Like, twenty minutes ago?” Rhodey finally manages to rip the tape off. As soon as Tony has rolled around, he flinches. “J-Jesus Christ, what- w-what happened to your- oh my god.”

Feeling even worse now, Tony points at the iron still plugged into the wall. “The little shit tortured me. Tell the others, we need to go after him. He can’t have gotten far if it’s only been twenty minutes. I don’t know if he’s taken my phone, but- nevermind, it’s lying over there. Thanks to the tracker, I’ll find out where he is in no time.”

As Tony struggles to get up, Rhodey runs to get the phone. With shaking fingers, Tony deletes the push notifications of Peter moving outside of his allowed radius and opens the tracking app, pupils dilating in shock when he sees Peter’s dot moving down on S.C. Bottle Highway on Abaco island. How the fuck did he know where to go? Even earlier - when it was brighter outside - the visibility was so bad the island couldn’t be seen from here. 

“He’s… he’s a mile south of Coopers Town.”

“No way,” Rhodey groans, leaning forward. “Holy shit, Tony. W-We’re fucked.”

For a second, Tony considers sending the drone after Peter, but not only is it raining too much for it, it’s not even working properly. Also… it’s not in the living room where he left it. Shit.

“Tell the others. Execute plan B. We need to leave as quickly as possible. Only take what’s necessary.”

“W-What about the money? Tony, we still have around 400 million in cash lying around. That equals four tons, which will take us a while to-”

“Leave it.”

“L-Leave it? We did all of this to-“

“We have no other choice. The seaplane can be loaded with a maximum of 4,800 pounds. We are thirteen people, which leaves around 2,000 and 2,600 for our luggage. Everyone can take 10 million, maximum. I don’t want to leave it either, but even without it we still have more money transferred to our bank accounts than we can ever spend.”

Stumbling over to the safe, Tony discovers another problem. “Please tell me I gave you the spare key for the plane.”

“Um… y-yeah, I think so. I mean… I gotta look. Why?”

“I will kill that little bitch.”

Huffing, Rhodey walks out the door. “That’s what you should have done in the first place.”

Yes. He should have. But it doesn’t matter anymore. Now, the only thing that matters is that they get off this fucking island before Peter manages to alert the authorities. Good thing he's moving away from the small community… if they're lucky, he won't stumble upon someone for the next couple of hours and get lost. 

Even though he can barely move, Tony somehow makes it to the bathroom. Whimpering, he glances at the mirror, taking in his reflection. His face looks horrible. It’s badly burned and there are welts on his red, blistering skin. However, it’s nothing compared to his cock and balls…

Feeling the sudden urge to throw up, Tony drops down in front of the toilet. When he’s finally done retching, he’s shaking all over, his head heavy and dizzy. He needs to get his shit together… Peter's going to pay dearly for this, but now is not the time to be weak or wallow in self-pity. 

After exchanging his tight shorts and boxers for wide swim trunks, Tony limps through the house to pack a few clothes, some food and his most valuable possessions like his phone, laptop, notebooks, the remaining arc reactors and the server that JARVIS runs on. He also takes all of his personal belongings that he holds dear, like his watches, Peter’s self-made cookbook, old documents and some photographs. 

Last but not least, he drags two of the bags that should each contain around four million to the door.

To his greatest relief, Steve, Bucky and Rhodey come over to carry Tony’s suitcases, the bags and his backpack to the seaplane for him. It shows what great friends they are because neither of them yells at him. Not yet, at least.

“Are you okay?” Steve asks when Tony stays behind, looking extremely concerned. And pissed.

“Yeah, g-go ahead, I just… need some painkillers and ice for my- um, j-just go.”

After swallowing two pills, Tony takes a few ice cubes from the freezer and wraps them with a towel. Then, he makes his way back to the door, and as he’s passing the living room table, his eyes fall on the small puzzle Peter and him started assembling only a few days ago. 

The harsh reality that they will never finish it, hits him like a freight train.

Without warning, Tony is overcome with an emotion so penetrating he forgets how to breathe. Thoroughly devastated, he pushes the whole table over, screaming with rage. Before he knows it, tears stream down his cheeks and he sinks to the floor, crying. 

Why the fuck did he let his guard down and allow himself to fall in love with Peter? Somehow, that fucking child managed to rekindle the fire that had ultimately extinguished with his mother's death, melting the block of ice protecting his heart from any further pain. Why couldn’t Tony just… stay strong and resist the temptation of finding someone as pure as Peter to truly like him despite his tremendous flaws?

Maybe he shouldn’t have been so cruel all the time. Although it was necessary to lay down rules and punish Peter for disobedience in order to break him, Tony knows that a lot of the things he did to him - especially at the bank - were way over to top. He tortured Peter for fun and because he got off of it. He raped him in front of his friends to humiliate and mentally scar him for all eternity.

And even after he realized that the feelings he had for Peter were much more sincere than he had thought, he rarely ever missed a chance to hurt him. Instead, he tried to fight those feelings with all his might, constantly punishing Peter for it, even though it wasn’t his fault. If Tony had told him about his true feelings earlier and started treating him decently, then maybe they would have had a chance to be happy...

Tony doesn't know how long he sat there wallowing in self-hatred, but he doesn’t move until he feels a hand on his shoulder.

“Tony… We have to go.” It’s Rhodey, his voice soft, yet determined.

“I- I’m so sorry… I didn’t think he’d-- I fucking l-loved him,” Tony chokes out before he can stop himself. He doesn’t know why he said it, but for the first time in his life, he feels the need to talk about his pain and explain why Peter managed to fool and escape him. 

“I know… But he’s gone, Tony. There’s nothing you can do about it anymore. Come on. Please.”

Tony can’t even find it in himself to get mad. Reluctantly, he allows Rodey to help him up and drag him out of the house. It’s stopped raining but gotten dark. His friends are already seated inside of the seaplane, so Tony quickly dries his eyes. He can live with Rhodey knowing (why the fuck did he say he already knew?!), but he can’t tell any of the others.

Most of the Avengers glare at him when Tony climbs into the plane, panting. With a pained hiss, he drops into one of the still empty seats, feeling like he might pass out again. As soon as they’re away far enough, he’s gonna ask Stephen to take a look at his crotch. But first-

Groaning, Tony rummages around the backpack for his phone. 

“You sure we shouldn’t burn it all to the ground?” Bruce asks.

“There’s no time for that,” Tony mumbles. “Also, they will only see it from the coast, meaning they’ll get here even faster. If we’re lucky, Pe- the boy gets run over by a car in the darkness or gets lost and starves. Then we might be able to return one day and get the rest of the money… Are you sure you destroyed or packed everything that could tell the authorities anything they aren’t supposed to know?”

Twelve yeses sound through the plane.

“No forgotten passports, documents, electronic devices, photographs?”

“No.”

Well. Let’s hope so. “Good. Then get us the hell away from here, Rhodey.”

“Where to?”

“Plan B. That equals Buck Island.”

“That’s… pretty far, though. With our current weight and fuel, we will barely make it and-”

“We have no other choice. It’s the only island that can’t be traced back to either of us. Make sure to turn off the transmitters as soon as you’ve set the course.”

“So, Wakanda’s off the table?” Nat asks from behind Tony, her voice shaking.

“No. In the long run, it’s our only chance, but we have to lay low for a while and figure out how to get there. Don’t forget departing airports check passports and passengers even when you leave with a private plane.”

“If Peter tells them about T’Challa, then-”

“Wakanda needs to close borders and reveal they’ve been building atomic bombs, yes. However, it’s not that big of a deal, honestly. Just think about North Korea.”

“This is all your fucking fault,” Nat hisses, clearly on the verge of tears.

Furious, Tony turns around to look at her. “May I remind you that you were the one who’s always wanted me to be nice to him? Well, this is what you get for being nice. If you’d just let me do my thing, he would have never-”

“If you hadn’t taken him in the first place, none of this would have even happened, though,” Clint butts in, taking Nat’s side as expected. What a fucking hypocrite. He’s been thirsting over Peter since he saw Tony jerking him off at the bank.

Snorting, Tony decides to ignore them for now. When Rhodey steers the plane away from the island, Tony finally manages to find his phone in the depths of his backpack. Since he had to shut JARVIS down, Tony accesses the tracker over a different app, his heart beating as it starts up.

A shiver runs down Tony’s spine when he’s unable to establish a connection. This has never happened before… His internet is working, and since he doubts the tech is failing, there’s only one reasonable explanation: Somehow, Peter - or someone else - managed to deactivate the tracker, because it would still show his location even if he died. 

Fortunately, Rhodey accelerates just moments later and takes off, flying them away from Bonefish Cay.

Against better judgment, Tony opens his camera roll, scrolling through the few dozens of pics he’s taken of Peter during the last couple of months- 

Peter sleeping, looking like an angel - Peter’s face, covered in cum - Peter sitting cross-legged on the sofa, holding the Nintendo controller - Peter trying to do a handstand in the kitchen - Peter in a bathtub filled with bath bubbles - Peter sucking his bottom lip in, seconds away from an orgasm - Peter holding a cigarette, trying to exhale the smoke in form of a ring - Peter covered in vegetable ick, having forgotten to close the lid of the mixer - Peter smiling coyly, his face just inches from Tony’s as the man tries to take a selfie of them and the finished five-thousand-pieces puzzle.

Each photo feels like a stab to his heart, and when Tony’s eyes start burning yet again, he knows he won’t be able to let it go. No matter how vengeful - and remorseful - Tony feels right now, Peter and him are meant to be together. Peter was made for Tony. They were made for each other.  

Peter is The One. Tony's Significant Other. The light in his life that Tony never knew he wanted (or needed), but now that he does, he can’t imagine having to live without it. If When they are back together, Tony will make sure that Peter won’t ever be able want to leave him again.

But first, he needs to find a way to get him back. And one day, he will.

Cost be damned.

Chapter Text

For a few seconds, May is speechless. Maria can't- It doesn't- Peter isn't- "A-Alive? W-What do you mean, he’s alive?" 

"Peter is alive, May. He isn't dead. We don't know any details yet, but it seems he either got away or they let him go. Nick and I flew over from Nassau as soon as we got the call."

"I-Is it really Peter?" Although May wants to believe it with all her heart, she doesn't want to get her hopes up only to be disappointed once more. She… wouldn't survive it.

"Yes. We saw him. It's him."

Crying, May lets her head fall back down on the mattress. "H-How is he, is he- oh god, is this real? C-Can I see him? Where is he?" 

"Marsh Harbour Healthcare Center on Great Abaco Island. He's, um… unconscious right now, but he's fine."

"U-Unconscious?" 

"Yeah, it seems he… shot himself in the upper arm with a gun, at least according to the folks who stumbled upon him near Coopers Town." 

"H-He shot himself?" 

"Well, all we really know for sure is that it's a non-lethal gunshot wound. They had to sedate him to perform surgery, though, which is why we haven't been able to talk to him yet."

"C-Can I fly over there? I need- I need to see him, please." 

"Sharon is already on her way to your place. We need someone with experience when it comes to talking to victims of… um, you know, so we're flying her over with a private jet. If you want, you can come with her… I'm sure Peter will want to see you, and since he's a minor-"

"I- I'm coming," May says, not even wasting one thought about her aerophobia. "I need to see my baby."

"Great. Oh, and… Please don't tell anyone about it yet. We don't want the media to find out. Not before we've spoken to Peter."


When Peter wakes up, it takes him a moment to come to and realize that something’s different. He’s… lying on a rather hard mattress in a dimly lit room he's never been in before, but he doesn’t remember how he came here. Why isn’t he at home? Where is Tony? And why is there a cannula taped to his right, bandaged hand? It’s almost like that one time Tony shot-

Without warning, a piercing pain shoots through his left arm. It feels as though a line of fire is burning its way from his shoulder to his wrist before trickling from his fingertips, making him want to claw through his skin to get at it. Groaning, Peter turns his head to look at his arm, whimpering when he sees that it's in a cast, bent at the elbow. Panic washes over him as he realizes how mad Tony will be. He's a lot more useless in the household with only one arm, not to mention-

Wait. He's only just remembered that he's not home at Tony's anymore. Peter shot himself this time, in blind panic that the Avengers would be able to trace him due to the microchip. Because… because Peter ran away. It wasn’t a dream. He did it.

Slowly, all the memories come back to him. Knocking Tony down… burning him with the iron… finding out Tony loved him… the car… the couple… 

Could he actually be safe? If he's wearing a cast, he's got to be at a hospital or something, right? What if Peter didn't manage to destroy the tracker, though? What if it's still inside his arm, leading the Avengers right back to him? 

Feeling extremely nauseous, Peter tries to sit up. Immediately, everything starts spinning and the little he can see blurs in front of his eyes. 

"H-Hello?" His raspy voice is so quiet it’s barely a whisper. Whimpering, he lies back down, only to realize-

If this is a hospital, there has to be a button to call for the nurse. And indeed, there is a control unit with a glowing button attached to the right side of his bed. Hesitating, Peter gathers all his courage before pressing it. With bated breath, he waits for anything to happen, but it doesn't even take five seconds until the door gets smashed open and the lights get turned on, revealing-

A dark-skinned woman dressed like a nurse, a caucasian woman in casual clothes, and a guy Peter has seen twice on the news so far. Nick Fury. 

He really made it. 

Overwhelmed with relief, Peter lets out a broken sob, but when all three people rush forward at the same time, he flinches badly, cold with terror. Instinctively, he holds up the sheets with his right arm, using it as a sort of shield he can protect himself with. Only now he notices that he's wearing a hospital gown, and his stomach turns when he realizes someone must have stripped- 

"Mr. Parker, I'm Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, FBI. I need to ask you some questions."

"Nick," a female voice hisses, sounding reproachful. “Take it easy, will you?” When the white woman slowly comes around the bed, Peter lowers the blanket a bit so he can look at her. “Peter I am Maria Hill, SHIELD agent. You called for the nurse… are you in pain?”

“A… A b-bit, Ma'am,” he squeaks, embarrassed about how high-pitched his voice sounds. With a caring smile, the nurse steps closer as well, fiddling with the IV bag.

“If it doesn’t get better in ten minutes, call me again.” 

Then, the nurse exits the room, leaving Peter alone with the two agents. Feeling embarrassed and stupid, Peter lowers the blanket and wraps it tightly around his trembling body, still refusing to look anyone in the eye.

“Mr. Parker, I know you must be tired and I’m sure this isn’t easy for you, but you need to tell me if you know where the Avengers are.”

“How… H-How late is it, sir?”

Peter’s question seems to surprise the man. “How late? 3:15 am.”

That means it must have been eight hours since he’s left the island... Have the others already found Tony and bolted? What if they haven't, though?  

“I- I don’t… I don’t know, sir. I’m sorry.”

“Did they let you go or did you run away?”

“I… r-ran away, sir.”

“From where? I have my team, some local military and police rummaging all around Abaco Island. You stopped a car right outside of Coopers Town. How did you get there?”

Peter stares at the fingers of his right hand, picking at his nails. “C-Can I- Can I please c-call my aunt, s-sir?”

Agent Hill slowly sits down on Peter’s bed, and when he swiftly glances at her, he can see that she’s smiling. “I spoke to her a few hours ago. She’s flying over right now and will be here in about three hours.”

Peter can’t hold back the tears any longer. “Sh-She’s coming here?” 

“Yes, and she’s very excited to see you.”

Impatiently, Fury steps closer. “How did you get there? Those folks you ran into said they found you around 7:30 pm. Stark and his henchmen could be all over the place by now. I need you to tell me where they kept you.”

Peter doesn’t know why he’s not telling Fury, but he just… he can’t. Not if there’s a viable chance the Avengers are still on the island. “I- I’m sorry, sir, I- I don’t know.”

“You don’t know how you got there?”

“N-No, sir, I- I do. I s-stole one of their boats but… I- I could barely see, so I w-was just driving around for a bit, and... s-stranded on the island, please, I-”

“Can you tell me which direction you came from, at least? How long have you been driving for? Do you think you can remember if I showed you a map?” 

As Fury creeps even closer with each question, Peter shrinks deeper into the mattress as his panic builds, increasing his heart rate and need for oxigen. Greatly intimidated, he starts to cry, chest hitching as he desperately tries to stay calm and breathe. “I- I d-don’t- I don’t know, please, sir, I’m s-sorry!”

“Nick, a word in private, please,” Agent Hill hisses, dragging her boss out of Peter’s room. It gives him time to calm down, but even though he’s very grateful for the woman to come to his aid, he’s also overcome with terrible guilt. Why does he want to protect the criminals who’ve been holding him captive for six months? 

After a few minutes, Agent Hill comes back into his room - alone, this time. “I need to apologize for Nick. He doesn’t mean any harm, he's just… very determined to catch the Avengers. We understand if you can’t remember anything right now, but if you happen to anyway, just call for me, okay? I’ll be outside your door and… keep watch. Try to get some rest until your aunt comes here.”

Smiling, she makes a move to close the door, but before she can, Peter remembers what he wanted to ask when he called for the nurse. “Ms. um… Ms. Hill-”

“Call me Maria, please.”

“O-Okay. Um, Maria, do you know- d-do you know if there’s a, um… if they found a… m-microchip inside my arm?”

“Wait, was that really why you shot yourself? The couple you ran into said that you were blabbering something about a tracker, but I wasn’t sure if- I mean, the doctors did find very tiny fragments of something they couldn’t really determine, but-”

“D-Did they destroy the fragments?”

“I don’t know. I can ask them if you want, but you don’t need to worry, Peter. We don’t think it’s possible to inject a functioning GPS tracker into a person. They probably just told you that to unsettle you.”

Peter feels too weak and anxious to argue with her. Technically, Tony could have bullshitted him and faked what the app displayed, of course, but Peter doesn’t believe that. He knows what Tony’s capable of...  “O-Okay. Um. Thank you, s- M-Maria.”

“I’ll protect you, Peter. I promise, nothing’s going to happen to you. You’re safe now.” Smiling once more, she finally closes the door, leaving Peter alone. 

Even though he’s exhausted, it’s nearly impossible to fall asleep. Every inch of his body is on edge, flinching at any noise he can hear in the building. On top of that, Peter can’t stop guilt-tripping himself. He knows he should tell Fury everything, give him every single name, but… he’s confused and scared. Scared about the Avengers hunting him down, trying to seek revenge by hurting May or his friends. 

Not to mention King T’Challa, who surely wouldn’t appreciate it if Peter told SHIELD the truth about his involvement. Peter also doubts the United States wouldn’t give a shit if they found out that the TOP 5 most-wanted US criminals might possibly be seeking shelter in a corrupt African kingdom. He can’t risk causing a political conflict or a war that could endanger thousands, if not millions of innocent lives. 

If Peter’s completely honest with himself, though, these fears are only only the start of a long list of reasons why he doesn’t know what to do… As much as he wants to tell himself that the only Avengers he wants to protect are those who tried to help him or make his life better - like Nat, Bruce or Loki (after all, without him Peter wouldn’t have been able to escape) - he knows that a very broken and manipulated part inside of him wants to protect Tony as well. Which is fucking awful.

Peter knows they’re all criminals and that each and every one of them deserves to go to jail for their past crimes, but it still feels like he would betray them if he ratted them out. It’s bad enough already they will have to leave their homes because of him. And Tony even got badly injured on top of that (which Peter still feels pretty shitty for).

The biggest, most pressing problem, however, is Carol Danvers. She’s been feeding Tony with insider information for all these months, meaning it will only be a matter of time until she finds out about Peter’s whereabouts. She’s the first one Peter should rat out to Fury, but those few times he saw her, she was always nice to him. It wouldn’t be fair if he told Fury about Ms. Danvers, but kept quiet about the other Avengers hiding on Bonefish Cay...

What the fuck is he supposed to do? Why did he never consider any of this? In all those past few weeks Peter was only focused on coming up with a plan to get away, but he never really thought about what he would do if he actually succeeded.

He hates to admit it, but it seems like Tony was right. Peter is too broken and intimidated to think rationally anymore. He’s... damaged goods


Feeling anxious, May glances out the window of the private jet, fidgeting in her seat. The first rays of the rising sun leave a golden glance on the surface of the calm North Atlantic Sea, but although they’re apparently only seconds from touchdown, there’s still no land in sight. Until abruptly, houses, trees and streets appear beneath them, and May grasps the armrest of her seat as she prays they won't crash-

A few seconds later, she catches a glimpse of the  runway as the small plane touches down, shaking terribly. Whimpering in fear, May closes her eyes, refusing to open them again until the plane has slowed down significantly.

“Everything’s fine, May,” Sharon Carter says from the seat next to her, smiling reassuringly. Oh thank god… 

It’s 6:27 a.m. when they walk out of Leonard Thompson Airport, a very small local airport a few miles west of Marsh Harbour. After twenty minutes, May, Sharon, and the SHIELD agents who are accompanying them, finally arrive at the hospital Peter’s supposedly treated in.

May's close to heart attack as they enter the building, and even though she is more tired than ever, sleep is the last thing on her mind. She needs to see her baby. She needs to see him with her own god-damn eyes, or she won’t be able to believe it. 

In the corridor of the first floor, May spots Maria and Agent Fury, waiting in front of a door that could only be Peter’s room. May’s too flustered to greet them properly as she rushes past them. “I-Is he in here?” 

She reaches out to grab the handle, but Maria blocks her way. “May… I know you want to see him, but we need to talk, first. Two minutes. Please.”

“Oh my god, what… what is it?”

“Nothing bad,” Maria soothes, pulling May a few steps away from the door. “His surgery went well. Luckily, he didn’t hit an artery, but the bullet went through the bone meaning they couldn’t simply stitch him up. Don't ask me what exactly they did, but the arm needs to stay in a cast for a couple of weeks and… I think they also had to put in some screws and small metal plates or whatever-”

“W-Why did he even shoot himself?”

“Apparently because the Avengers told him they injected a GPS tracker into his arm. We don’t think that’s possible, but he believed it and… panicked, it seems.”

May feels terribly sick. Her poor baby… “W-Will he have any lasting injuries?”

“The doctors are convinced he’s going to have a full recovery… They’ve already green-lit Peter flying back home with you later today or tomorrow.”

“Isn’t that a little early?”

“They said there’s nothing they can do for him right now other than give him medication, which you can help him with as well, and necessary check-ups can be done in New York. I’m sure the doctor will tell you everything you need to know, though. Thing is… We want to get him away from here as soon as possible in case Stark and his men have connections around here or are hiding nearby… We don’t want to take any risks.”

May’s stomach twists nastily. “I- I see. Is that… all?”

“Not quite… To be honest, we are a little worried about Peter’s mental state. We tried asking him a few questions, but he seemed somewhat… intimidated and scared, and-”

“O-Of course, he’s scared. Why didn’t you wait until I was here?” May feels anger rising up inside of her. “You aren’t even supposed to question a minor without his legal guardian present.”

“It couldn’t wait,” Fury says, looking fierce. “It can’t wait. It’s been almost ten hours since we found him and we don’t even know how long he’s been wandering around before that. For now, he’s our only real witness. This isn’t a formal interrogation, but we need him to be cooperative if we don’t want to risk Stark getting away. From all we know, they might have cars, boats, and even a god-damn seaplane. You want us to catch them too, don’t you?”

Nervously, May shifts from one leg to the other. “Y-Yes, of course, but… Peter’s well-being is my main priority. I’m sure he’ll tell us everything he can, but I can’t allow you to frighten him. He’s j-just a child, for Christ’s sake. Now, please let me see him. I… I’ve been waiting long enough.”

“One last thing. We need yours or your nephew’s permission to examine him for… traces and signs of recent sexual abuse. The longer you wait, the less likely it is you can find valuable traces, and-”

“I- I thought you already h-have S-Starks DNA,” May chokes out, her stomach revolting. “And… I mean, we a-already know h-he did it, so why do you-”

“Because someone else might have touched him as well. Someone we might not have the DNA of as of yet.”

“N-No, please… I can’t- I- I’ll ask him if s-someone hurt him recently, and only if he says yes, I’ll ask him about giving permission to do an… examination. Now, please, let me see him.”

“All right. He’s in here, but he was asleep last time I checked,” Maria says, walking back to the door. 

May’s heart skips a beat when the agent turns the knob, allowing her to glance into the room. Careful to stay silent, she walks in, holding onto Sharon’s arm for support. The light from the corridor and the morning sun illuminate the room brightly enough that May can see the left side of Peter’s face.

Her stomach clenches when she notices a big scar on his cheek that surely hasn’t been there in March, but other than this and his plastered arm, he seems… okay. Unusually pale and even thinner than he was in March, but okay

Her baby is okay!

Crying, she stumbles forward, sinking down on the mattress. May then reaches out, gently caressing Peter’s hair. It's not that different than when she last saw her nephew in person, which is somewhat of a surprise. He doesn’t have a beard or stubbles either… May she dare to hope that someone's been taking care of him in some way? 

Not wanting to wake him up, May continues to affectionately stroke Peter’s hair until Fury clears his throat. “Mrs. Parker. Please. I need to talk to him."

Sighing, May leans forward, caressing Peter's scarred cheek instead. "H-Honey… Peter, baby, please, wake up… i-it's me."

Groaning, Peter stirs. He slowly turns his head, squinting against the light. He glances around, apparently confused for a second. But then, he shoots up without warning, looking disoriented and alarmed, his half-opened eyes completely out of focus as they’re darting around in what looks like sheer panic. "W-What-?" 

Only when Peter fully opens his eyes, May realizes-

Peter is not okay.

How could she think for even a second that he was? There's no light in Peter's eyes anymore. No sparkle. No life. Instead, they are dark and empty, shattering her heart into a million pieces.

Chapter Text

For a few more seconds, Peter continues to stare at May in utter shock and confusion, almost as if he doesn't dare to believe his eyes. Eventually, he seems to realize he's neither hallucinating, nor dreaming, but even then, his face barely lights up. "M-M-May?"

He looks so fragile and apathetic… It’s even worse than when his parents or Ben died. Back then, Peter was heartbroken and devastated, sure, but he was still… there.  

“Y-Yeah, sweetie, it’s me.” Against Sharon’s warning, May flings her arms around her nephew to pull him close, too overwhelmed and shaken to notice how badly Peter flinches. “I… I missed you s-so much, baby. I thought I h-had lost you.” 

Sobbing into his shoulder, she eventually realizes that Peter isn’t hugging her back. He’s completely frozen, trembling so violently it feels like he’s vibrating. Only now May remembers what Sharon told her... ‘Let him come to you.’ - ‘Don’t overwhelm him.’ 

Shit. 

Like a scalded cat, May lets go, feeling terribly guilty when Peter immediately brings more distance between them by skidding away from her as far as he can. “I- I’m sorry, baby, I- I didn’t mean to scare you, I just… I m-missed you so much.”

“I… I m-missed you too,” Peter mumbles tonelessly, staring at the blanket. Tears are streaming down his face and he swallows thickly, his bottom lip quivering. “M-May… I- I am so sorry.”

“About… about what, sweetheart?”

“E-Everything. F-For leaving and… shaming you.”

May has never felt worse in her life, which is saying a lot. “You… oh my god, Peter, you d-didn’t shame me. There is nothing you need to be sorry for, please- p-please never say that again. You are s-so brave and… and strong.” 

Her voice breaks, but it doesn’t seem as if Peter even listened to her. He just continues to stare ahead blankly.

Much to May's Annoyance, Fury seizes the opportunity to step forward. “Mr. Parker, now that your aunt is here, I was hoping you’d be up to answer some more of my questions.”

“Can’t this wait?” May hisses when Peter whimpers quietly. “You see he’s not up to-”

“I’m not asking him to talk about everything that happened, but I need to know where I can find Stark. Unless Mr. Parker wants us to be left in the dark, that is.”

“Why would he want that?” May asks incredulously.

“To protect them, for instance.”

“How dare you?” May jumps up from the bed, flushed from anger. “How dare you even assume Peter would ever try to protect any of them? He’s tired, injured and- and scared. You need to give him time to heal, for Christ’s sake-”

“It’s f-fine, May,” Peter says so quietly they can barely hear him. “I will… t-try to answer Mr. Fury’s questions.”

“Are you sure?” After glancing at her swiftly, Peter nods. “All right… but only answer what you feel comfortable with, you hear me?”

“Y-Yes, sir. Um... M-May.”

… Sir?

Feeling dreadful enough already, May fumes when Fury drags forward one of the visitor chairs, sitting down right next to Peter’s bed. “Thank you for your cooperation, Mr. Parker. You mentioned driving to Abaco Island with a boat. How long were you driving it for?”

Peter drove a boat? “N-Not too long, sir. Around… t-twenty minutes, I think.”

“That’s very specific. Three hours ago, you said you were driving around for a bit.

Peter starts picking at his nails - a sign that he’s nervous. “Y-Yeah, because… that’s a bit for me, sir.”

“Do you know how fast you were going?”

“T-Twenty knots, sir, but I slowed down when I s-saw the island.”

Eyes widened in excitement, Fury pulls a large map out of his pocket, spreading it out on Peter’s bed. “This is North Abaco Island. Mr. and Mrs. Jackson found you here.” Fury points at a big X someone scribbled onto the map. "How long have you been walking and in which direction, if you can tell?" 

"N-Not too long… M-Maybe ten to fifteen minutes? I was walking south, sir, I think."

Fury immediately starts to calculate and scale, eventually drawing another X with a pen. "Can you tell me which direction you were going for? When driving the boat?" 

"S-Southwest, sir. For about f-five miles."

Although May would appreciate it if Fury didn't scowl, she can't really blame him. Peter would have spared him some questions - and time - if he had told him that right away… "Alright, so you might have come from one of these islands? There are all between… five and eight miles northeast from where I think you got out of the water." Fury points to a few very small islands in the right corner. 

"M-Maybe. May I see them more closely, please, sir?” When Fury nods, Peter lifts the map up, examining it. Eventually, he points at an oddly shaped island. “Th-This one. Bonefish Cay.”

“Are you sure?”

When Peter nods, Fury takes out his phone and leaves the room. An awkward silence follows, neither May, nor Peter feeling brave enough to make the first move. This is not what May expected - she imagined feeling nothing but happiness from now on. Though, how could she be happy when Peter’s so helpless and insecure?

“A-Are you hungry, baby?” May asks when she can’t take the silence anymore. “When was the last time you ate?”

“N-Not really, thank you. I um, I had soup yesterday at lunch.”

“That’s all they gave you?”

“Only because I pretended to be sick,” Peter says, sounding oddly defensive.

Maria and Sharon exchange a quick glance before Sharon sits down on Fury’s chair. “Peter, I’m Sharon Carter from SHIELD. May I ask why you pretended to be sick? Was that how you got away? It’s fine if you don’t feel like talking about it, but anything you tell us could help.”

Peter takes his time to answer. “I needed to be alone so I could cut off the power. Cutting off the power gave me time to… disable the cameras in the house and… get the boat keys.”

“Okay… that was very clever of you, Peter,” Sharon says, smiling encouragingly. “Why did you have to pretend to be sick to be left alone?”

“Because… M-Mister Stark hates it when someone’s sick,” Peter whispers, sending a shiver down May’s spine. Stark. Or - as she and some of her friends like to call him - that man. Or - as Peter seems to call him - Mister Stark. Or sir, probably, considering he was non-stop using it whilst talking to Fury… 

Does this mean Stark was ‘with him’ when Peter pretended to be sick? It might seem odd, but until now, May hasn’t understood the full significance of Peter still being alive. Ever since she’s gotten Maria’s call, she’s only focused on the positive aspect of getting her nephew back, but now, the terrifying truth hits her like a freight train. 

Peter didn’t find peace after a few days. That man had six months to torture him.

Very carefully, May reaches for Peter’s bandaged hand. She sighs in relief when he doesn’t pull it away, allowing her to give it a comforting squeeze. A single tear drops from one of Peter’s eyes, but just when May opens her mouth to ask Maria and Sharon for some privacy, Fury comes bursting through the door again.

“Three helicopters and five boats are on their way. Do you know if they have weapons, Mr. Parker?”

“Y-Yes, sir, they have. Some g-guns and rifles. I don’t know how many, though.”

“The gun you had with you… was that Stark’s?” Peter nods, his fingers clutching May’s hand. And then, Fury brings up the question that May has been asking herself for the last few hours. “A few months ago, Stark sent us three 9mm bullets which had your blood on it. He claimed he had killed you… do you know about that?”

Peter’s hand trembles as he takes a gasping inhale. “Y-Yes,” he whispers. “I- I… I’m sorry, A-Aunt May.”

“I told you not to-"

“You don’t understand. It’s m-my fault. I... w-wanted you to think I’m dead.” When the three adults stare at Peter in shock and confusion, the boy pulls his hand out of May’s grip. “I- I wanted you to m-move on and stop w-worrying about… about…” 

Without warning, Peter breaks into heart-wrenching sobs so severely he can’t talk anymore, shattering May’s heart once again. How desperate did Peter have to feel if he wanted May to think that he died

“S-Sweetie… M-May I hug you?”

At first, it looks like Peter’s going to decline, but then, he hesitantly nods. Making sure to be careful this time, May skids closer before slowly wrapping her arms around Peter’s small frame. After a few seconds of hesitation, Peter tangibly relaxes and even puts his unplastered arm around May as well, sobbing into her shoulder.

They stay like that for minutes, just crying and holding onto each other until May feels a desperate need to blow her nose. She’s surprised to see that the SHIELD agents have left the room, finally giving them some well-needed privacy. “D-Do you want me to tell them to stop questioning you?”

“N-No, it’s fine. I just… want to get it over with.”

Smiling sadly, May gives Peter’s hand another reassuring squeeze. “You’re so unbelievably strong, baby. I am so proud of you."

"Can you… p-please stop calling me that?" 

Strong? "Call you what, baby?" Only when Peter winces noticeably at the last word, she realizes what he means. Oh. god. "You mean… b-baby?" 

Staring down at the blanket, Peter nods curtly. Another awkward silence follows, but then, May decides to ask what she’s been dreading. "D-Did he… S-Stark, um… did he or a-anyone else h-hurt you recently? It’s just… um, th-they could do an examination, you know, and… t-try to find traces of-" 

“No,” Peter replies, quick like a shot,“Um… They n-never- I- I mean, h-he did, as you probably- b-but o-only, um, at the b-bank.”

It’s as clear as day that Peter is lying, so there’s no sense elaborating on it and upset him even more. Fresh tears stream down May’s face as she imagines even worse things than she already has. Her poor, sweet boy… So strong, yet so vulnerable.


A few moments later, May leaves the room to escape the awkward situation fetch Peter some water. Although he feels terribly shitty for lying to the one person he cares most about in his life, he couldn't bring himself to tell her the truth. May looked upset enough already. Also, it's not like he wants them to examine him - or talk about it, for that matter. He just… wants to forget and move on. 

Unfortunately, SHIELD isn't done questioning him yet. When May comes back, the three agents return as well. 

"Ready to continue, Mr. Parker?" Fury asks as soon as Peter has taken a few sips of water. Without waiting for an answer, he says,"I just talked to the doctors again. They say you have healing gunshot wounds. Does this mean Stark actually shot you?" 

Ignoring May's shocked gasp, Peter nods. "W-When he found out it was me that gave the clues that helped you figure out his name, he… f-freaked out." 

“That’s impossible. He couldn’t know it was you, we made it look like it was one of his friends who ratted him out.”

“I- I know, sir. He… almost fell for your trick, but he has a-an insider who tells him a lot of things about… things."

Now it's the agents' turn to gasp. "What? Do you have a name?"

Peter hesitates. "Um… if I t-tell you, sir… H-How can you keep us s-safe?" 

"You don't need to worry about that, Mr. Parker. We will provide police protection for you and your aunt at all times, and there might be a possibility to place you in the witness protection program. At first, however, you need to tell us everything you know."

After a quick glance at his horror-stricken aunt, Peter decides to tell him. Ms Danvers secretly pulling the strings in the background is way too dangerous for everyone close to him. "Her name is C-Carol Danvers, sir. Long blond, wavy hair, around thirty… I don't know where she works, though. "

The agents exchange a questioning look. "Hm. Never heard of her, but we'll make sure to check that, thank you. So, Stark shot you… How did you survive? Who stitched you up?" 

"One of them is a doctor… I don't know why M-Mister Stark told them to save me, but…" - Actually, he does, but he can't possibly tell them the truth. - "Um, I think he knew I'd be more useful for him a-alive than dead, sir. Y-You know, in case you ever found… us."

"Why did you want us to think you're dead, though? To sum it up, it hurt more than helped you." 

"I- I didn't really have a choice, sir. It was either this or… um… " Shit. What can he say to avoid May thinking he'd just lied to her about Tony raping him after the bank? "He threatened to… r-repeat what he did at- at the bank and… sh-shoot another video." 

May whimpers brokenly at this, telling Peter everything he needs to know. She saw the video. Just like he's been afraid of all this time... 

"I see,” Fury says, thankfully not elaborating on it. “If Stark never intended to take the deal, then why did he even want to respond to us, though? Claiming to have killed his only hostage didn't do him any favors, so why did he give you that choice?”

"Because…"  he’s a sick fuck "... he loves to play games and… show how s-superior he is.”

Fury then leans forward, his look so penetrating that Peter quickly averts his gaze. “Your aunt tells me you claim that Stark never raped you after the heist. Are you sure about that?"

“Nick!” Agent Carter hisses, but she’s not the only one coming to Peter’s aid. 

“You promised you’d only ask him questions for now that would help you arrest the Avengers,” May says, voice shaking. 

For now? Does this mean Peter will have to testify about it eventually, obligated to tell the truth? He won’t be able to do this.

Acting like there was no disturbance, Fury leans back in his chair. “How many Avengers are there? What are their names and code names? You mentioned a doctor, start with him."

At this, Peter starts to fidget nervously again. What the fuck is he supposed to say? Dr. Strange saved his life. He never wanted to touch Peter, but he wasn't really… nice either. “Um… I don’t think he had a code name, s-sir. He wasn’t… at the bank. He joined later, o-on the yacht.”

“The yacht? Did they escape from the helicopter pad with a yacht? We didn’t see one, you just… vanished from the warehouse.”

“They had a submarine, sir. I d-don’t know how long we were underwater, but when we came up, there was a yacht with a bunch of people and the money. Carol Danvers was there, as well as the, um, doctor. After getting on the yacht, they blew it up, I think.”

“What’s the doctor’s real name, then?”

Once again, Peter hesitates, but then he comes to the conclusion that Dr. Strange doesn’t deserve protection. He never tried to cheer Peter up or help him apart from treating his wounds in a professional manner, which he only did because Tony told him to. Strange also mentioned watching the video and said he was looking forward to Tony stripping Peter. And last but not least, he witnessed the spanking and cockwarming without interfering. 

“D-Doctor Stephen Strange. Around forty to fifty. Black hair and a Van Dyke goatee.”

As Maria Hill excitedly types something into her phone, Fury takes out his own, turning the screen towards Peter. “You know this guy too?”

“That’s Rhodey, sir. ' Pennsylvania'… He was at the bank.”

Rhodey?” Fury snorts, causing Peter to blush. “We know him as James Rhodes. He and Stark were in Nassau a few months ago. What about this guy?”

Pearls of sweat start to build on Peter’s forehead when Fury shows him the next photo. Loki. Without him, Peter wouldn’t be here right now, but even if he told them that Loki helped him escape, he would probably still be up for a life-sentence, right? He can’t tell them anything…  “N-No, sir. Never s-seen him before.”

“Are you sure?” Fury exchanges an incredulous glance with Maria. “He was spotted multiple times in Nassau and Miami, with Rhodes. His name is Loki Odinson. He has a previous conviction for attempted burglary and he’s from Norway. There was a ‘Norway’ at the bank.”

For a second, Peter considers ratting out Thor, but if he did, they’d surely be convinced that Loki is an Avenger as well. Maybe he should tell them that he doesn’t know who ‘Norway’ is, because they can’t accuse him of lying if they find proof about Loki or Thor after all… “Sorry, sir. I don’t know him. And I don’t know who ‘Norway’ is either...” 

Looking frustrated, Fury asks who else he can tell them about. “Your friends said you mentioned a guy named Steve - ‘Brooklyn’. We weren’t able to figure out his full name, though.”

“Me neither, sir… They said he’s… thirty-six, I think, and he was a teacher once. I think he mentioned going on a s-school trip to Washington ten years ago. H-He is really close to M-Mister Stark.”

“How close?”

“They, um… th-they were together, but I don’t know when or for how long. Steve is with someone else now… Buck-, um, I mean, James Barnes.”

“The serial killer?” Fury asks, pupils dilating in shock,“Is he an Avenger as well?”

“Y-Yes, sir. He’s ‘Indiana’.”

There’s a loud gasp coming from May, but only when Agent Carter steps forward, looking extremely concerned, Peter realizes that they might have heard what happened at the bank from the other hostages. Oh. Fuck.

“You don’t have to answer this, Peter, but… we heard that Stark and 'Indiana' tried to intimidate the other hostages by… hurting you. Is that true?”

Once again, Peter chooses to stare at his hand rather than at the people surrounding him. “W-What does it matter?”

“He’d be in for a longer jail sentence if we catch him and we have more legal possibilities regarding international arrest warrants if he’s accused of… hurting a minor.”

“... Y-Yes, Ma’am. It’s… true.”

“May I also ask… We found various traces of… male ejaculate in the director’s office. We’ve been able to determine the DNA of two of them, but not the third. Is it his?”

Three traces of ejaculate… Tony’s. Peter’s. And - Steve’s. Shitshitshit- “Um… n-no, it’s… it’s not his. It belongs to… S-Steve.”

Whereas May takes another gasping inhale, Agent Carter asks if Steve touched him too. Peter nods curtly, hoping they won’t go into any details. “Thank you, Peter. You’re very brave.”

Due to the choked-up sobs coming from his aunt, Peter silently starts crying again too. He’s almost glad when Fury decides to ask about the Avengers again. “Any other names you can give us?”

“C-Clint Barton… Hawkeye. I don’t remember his code name but he was at the bank too.”

Whereas the three agents curse when they hear yet another infamous name, May sobs even louder. After typing something into his phone, Fury says, “He was born in Iowa. There was an ‘Iowa’ at the bank, right?”

“Um… yes, sir, I think so. C-Could’ve been him, yeah.”

“Any other names?”

“Sam… um… W-Wilson or… W-Watson? He was ‘Harlem’. He’s African-American. I think he was dealing with drugs or something. And there w-was a white woman… um, Wanda. ‘Sokovia’. I don’t know her last name. Um… th-that’s it, sir.”

“There were two more people at the bank. ' Russia' and ' Norway'. You’re telling me you don’t know either of their names?”

Peter knows it’s wrong, but he just… he can’t. “S-Sorry, sir.” 

“What about those other people you mentioned? Those waiting for you on the yacht?”

“Um… two white guys, one of them was called ‘Quill’ and the other ‘Scott’. They didn’t stay on the island for long. And, um…” The king and princess of Wakanda. How in the world could Peter rat them out without risking provoking a war or having to fear for May’s safety for the rest of his life? He has to think it through, first... “A-And a black man and woman I don’t remember much else about them though.”

Fury doesn’t really seem to believe him. “Mhm. So, how many Avengers participated in the heist total and how many were still on the island with you when you ran away?”

“I, um, I don't really know, sir. I n-never counted them.”

“Then count them now.”

Shit. If he makes a mistake, he’s fucked. Thirteen Avengers permanently lived on the island, and since Peter didn’t tell them about Loki, Thor, Nat and Bruce, that leaves… “Nine, sir. Nine were still on the island yesterday. Um. I think. I- I don’t know how many there were in total.” 

“Tell me their names again.”

“T-Tony Stark, Steve, Sam Wilson or Watson, James Barnes, Clint Barton, Wanda, um… Dr. Stephen Strange, James Rhodes and… and…”

Fury narrows his eyes to slits. “Forgot one?” 

Valkyrie. What was her real name again? Something German or Danish? Peter can’t remember, but maybe he shouldn’t tell them anyways in case it would endanger Loki. “Y-Yeah, I’m sorry, sir. A w-woman, but she wasn’t at the bank and I don’t know her real name. O-Only her nickname. Val.”

“'Russia' was a woman. If she wasn’t Val, Wanda or Carol Danvers, who was she? What did she look like?”

“I… I n-never saw her without a mask, sir.”

“She was on the yacht with the others, though, wasn’t she?”

“I- I didn’t see her there. They… kept me locked up in the, um, engine room for the whole trip. And then s-some of them left with the yacht.”

Furrowing his brows, Fury gets up. “I’m gonna be honest, Mr. Parker. I don’t believe you. I’ve been doing this job for almost thirty years and I know when I’m being lied to. I understand if you’re scared, but there is no need for it. However, if I find out you’re trying to protect anyone, it will be really hard for me to protect you and your aunt. Think about it. Now, if you’ll excuse me, my team must have arrived at the island by now. Let’s hope you told the truth about that, at least.”

With that, Fury rushes out of the room, leaving Peter trembling and crying. He wishes he could ask for a cigarette to help him calm down, but he’s certain May wouldn’t appreciate it. 

What was it that Natasha once said? "The FBI would find a way to get you talking - They would put immense pressure on you and bait you with a big reward and placement in the witness protection program." 

She was right... It seems like Peter’s still a hostage.

Only now, he’s held at gunpoint by those sworn to protect him.

Chapter Text

Maria follows Fury, leaving May alone with Peter and Sharon. The nurse comes in a few moments later, asking Peter to follow her into the bathroom to get the catheter out. Reluctantly, Peter climbs out of bed, taking a few steps forward.

When he sways, May promptly rushes to his side. “You need help, ba- sweetie?”

“I-It’s fine,” he stutters, body-swerving to the left to avoid physical contact. “Thanks, A-Aunt May.”

She swallows down her disappointment. “O-Okay. If you need me, just call for me. I’ll stay right here.”

As soon as the bathroom door closed, May turns to Sharon, greatly upset. “I can’t believe Fury would accuse Peter of lying in favor of the Avengers. You need to tell him to stop doing that. Please. It... upsets Peter.”

Sighing, Sharon lowers her voice. “The thing is… For all we know, he could be protecting some of them. It wouldn't be that unusual. Many kidnap victims develop Stockholm Syndrome, meaning they form emotional bonds with their captors. Some victims even refuse to testify against their kidnappers.”

“But Peter doesn’t have… an emotional bond with them,” May hisses. “He never could. That man… you know what he did to him at the bank. You saw it. And… he even told us about… a-about the other two who… h-hurt him. He wouldn’t tell us anything that if he tried to protect them.”

“Unfortunately, it’s not as simple as that. There are other aspects you have to take into consideration as well. Manipulation, fear… You might not have noticed, but Peter was acting extremely submissive when talking to Fury. He was very apologetic and constantly addressed him as ‘sir’. They probably disciplined or intimidated him into being overly-”

“He’s always been a polite and respectful kid,” May says stubbornly, refusing to admit that she noticed it herself.

“I have a feeling it’s more than that. He even called you ‘sir’ once... Look, May, I’m not saying Fury’s right, but Peter could have told us everything already when he first woke up… Maybe he was confused and too scared to do it, yes, but he could have also been playing for time. Truth is, we will never know. For now, we just have to take everything he tells us with a grain of salt, that’s all.”

May’s almost relieved when the bathroom door opens again. Peter shuffles back to the bed, refusing the tray with his breakfast another nurse brings in. “Thank you, but I- I’m not very hungry.”

“You need to eat, Peter,” May sighs, trying to smile encouragingly. “Please. You look… so thin and you barely had anything to eat yesterday.”

“I f-feel a little sick, though.”

Now that May’s looking at him closely, she notices that he’s shaking again. “Are you scared? About Fury’s team arriving at the island, I mean?”

“S-Sure,” Peter mumbles, grabbing the cup of tea from the breakfast tray after some hesitation. “They are p-pretty dangerous, after all. The... Avengers, I mean.”

“You want them to get caught, though, right?”

“O-Of course,” he says, looking rather offended as his mouth forms into a faint pout. “Or I w-wouldn’t have told you their names and where to find them, w-would I? They can r-rot in jail for the rest of their lives, for all I care. P-Please, May… you gotta believe me… I- I d-don’t want to protect anyone like M-Mister Fury said.”

“I know, sweetheart. I know…”

Peter then says he’s rather tired, so May tells him to try and sleep some more. When the doctor comes in to check on him an hour later, May and Sharon quietly ask him if he can come back later. “Please, he’s just fallen asleep,” May pleads, following him out of the room.

“Yeah. Sure. I’ll come back before lunch.”

When the doctor starts walking away, May hesitates for a second. But then, she stops him, knowing she won’t be able to find any peace until- “Doctor… um, I was wondering… Does Peter have any o-other serious injuries apart from the fresh and old gunshot wounds? Or… scars?”

The doctor flips through the medical file. “Well… one of the x-rays my colleagues did show he must have fractured three of his ribs a while ago. There’s also a bunch of pictures showing professionally stitched up wounds, presumably three to six month old. They don’t require any further medical treatment for now, but you might want to consider talking to a plastic surgeon about… cosmetically improving them.”

Having a feeling she knows what the doctor is referring to, May’s stomach turns. She hasn’t forgotten about the cuts on Peter’s stomach that were visible on that godforsaken video, but she hoped there wouldn’t be any permanent scars. “M-May I see the pictures, please?”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Sharon asks, putting her hand on May’s back.

“N-No, but I need to know. Otherwise, I won’t be able to get him p-proper help.”

With a sad smile, the doctor hands her the photos. The first one already brings tears to May’s eyes - it shows five long lashes on Peter’s back. Trying not to think about what might have caused them, she looks at the next two, showing round-shaped scars on his left lower back and shoulder - the gunshot wounds.

Whimpering, she looks at the fourth and fifth pic. They display numerous cuts on Peter’s thighs, the six on his right leg being larger than the numerous, lighter ones on his left. As May stares at them in complete shock, she notices a pattern. Four vertical cuts are crossed with a diagonal one, meaning-

Someone counted something by making cuts on her baby boy’s thighs.

Feeling terribly sick already, May flips to the next one - it’s the one she’s been dreading. The 4-inch-long scars forming the word SLUT are so predominant she barely notices the other, smaller cuts scattered all over Peter’s chest. Sobbing heartbrokenly, May drops the pictures, allowing Sharon to pull her into an embrace.

Why? What's the reason for it other than humiliating and scarring her nephew for all eternity? If the Avengers never intended to let him go, then why did they do this to him? Just to torture him?

Even though May has never wished death upon a human being - ever - she hopes that SHIELD will kill them all. As gruesomely as possible. The Avengers… Stark … they aren’t humans. They don't deserve to live.

--

Peter sleeps until the doctor wakes him up. To his immense relief, he tells him that everything’s fine and that he will be able to go home later in the day. If his wound heals properly, they don’t expect any permanent damage, but they will have to wait and see. He can’t help thinking that this sounds horribly familiar. Agent Carter then tells Peter she’ll fly back with May and him, but they’ll have to wait for Fury to come back, first.

Despite still feeling so nervous it’s making him sick, Peter forces himself to eat the lunch the nurse brings him shortly after the doctor’s visit - he just doesn't want to upset May any further. At least it’s not dry bread…

After he’s finished, Peter glances at his aunt, swallowing thickly.  “Um… M-May I ask you something, please?”

May’s bottom lip quivers. “Of course, honey. You don’t... have to ask me for permission.”

Oh. “O-Okay… Thank you. Um. Do you know how M-Michelle and Ned are doing?”

He’s relieved when, May’s lips curl into a soft smile. “They’re doing okay. They… missed you just as much as I did, but they’re okay. They’re all okay. Your classmates, as well as Mr. Harrison. They all supported me with the, um, Peter Parker Foundation I established.”

Peter’s face grows hot. Peter Parker Foundation? “W-What is that?”

May slowly takes his hand, caressing it. “You see, a lot of people were extremely... touched by, um, w-what happened to you. So many showed their support by offering active help with the search for you or the Foundation… They reached out to us on Social Media by posting to your page and those of your friends, saying they were praying for you and stuff.”

“Yeah, I- I know,” Peter says before he can help himself.

“You know?”

“I mean… I, um, know that my last post on Instagram had over 200,000 likes a while ago.”

Both May and Agent Carter furrow their brows in confusion. “You had access to Instagram?”

“N-No,” Peter hastily says, blushing even more deeply. Why can’t he keep his fucking mouth shut for once?  “I just… M-Mister Stark showed the post to me once b-because… because there were s-some comments underneath he found amusing.”

“What comments?” May asks, pupils dilating in alarm. Did she see them too?

Not wanting to make her feel even worse, Peter shrugs his shoulders. “I-It doesn’t matter. So, um, w-what does the Foundation do?”

Blinking away the tears forming in her eyes, May says, “It, um, it helps victims of a-abuse. It supports them and their families with cost for treatments, medication and l-lawyers and stuff. Your friends all posted about it on Social Media and helped me print and deliver flyers and launch a website, even. Flash Thompson persuaded his parents to donate almost a hundred thousand dollars, and with all the other donations we managed to gather more than six hundred thousand in the last couple of weeks.”

Peter’s mouth drops open. Does this mean Flash doesn’t completely despise him for what happened at the bank? “W-Wow, that’s… a-amazing. But… won’t you have to pay them back when they find out that… I’m still a-alive?”

“Um… I don’t think so, sweetie. They didn’t donate the money to me or... us, so I don’t think it makes a difference… I’ll ask Ned’s dad when we get back. He’s done all the legal work for it.”

“Okay… And about M-Michelle… Do you think she w-would like me to call her?”

“Oh my god, yes. Yes, I- ” May turns to look at Agent Carter. “Can we do that? Maria asked me not to tell anyone, so I thought-”

“I don’t think it would be a problem, but let’s wait until Nick gets back, just in case… For tactical purposes it might be better not to inform anyone about it yet, but it depends on what - or rather, who - they'll find on the island.”

“I-It’s fine,” Peter quickly says, trying desperately not to think about SHIELD possibly gunning down Tony, Nat, Bruce and Loki right now. “I- I’m not sure she’d want to- I mean, I don’t want to bother her.”

“Oh, honey, you wouldn’t bother her. She’ll be so happy when she finds out you’re still alive.”

“Isn’t she… d-dating Brad now?”

It’s obvious May didn’t expect Peter to know that - pupils dilating in surprise, she raises her brows, opening her mouth a few times before she actually speaks. “Um, well, she has been going out with him, but… it’s not that serious, from what I know. I think they’re just… you know… close friends who hang out and… seek comfort with each other.”

So they’re friends with benefits? Even though Peter feels a very faint pang of jealousy, he brushes it off, just like he did when Tony told him about the photos MJ posted. After all, it’s not like Peter can imagine getting together with her again. Or anyone else, for that matter.

Just the idea of getting intimate with anyone but Tony is outright terrifying to him (which is… pretty fucked up, considering getting intimate with Tony used to be the most terrifying thing to him). On top of that, he doubts anyone would ever want to voluntarily touch or even kiss him again anyways. It’s just like Tony said - everyone saw how despicable he acted during his rape. Michelle will probably be disgusted by his mere presen-

“But I don’t really know, sweetie,” May says in a soothing voice, apparently misinterpreting Peter’s silence. “She found it a little awkward talking to me about it… she mentioned feeling guilty.”

“Sh-She shouldn’t, though. I… wanted her to move on and f-forget about me. Um, a-anyways, what about your work and stuff?”

For a while, Peter listens to May talking about work, her colleagues and friends, some new neighbors who moved in, and about the never-ending problems she’s been having with her old car. Although there’s still a tangible tension in the air - or rather, some sort of invisible barrier that wasn’t there when they last saw each other in March - listening to May talking about things that have nothing to do with the Avengers helps calm Peter down a bit.

However, when she can’t seem to think of anything else she can tell him, another awkward silence follows. Not that Peter would care - he’s gotten used to sitting around for ages without doing anything, but it’s the first time he realizes that he has no idea what he could even talk to May about.

It became so easy to talk to Tony about science stuff or the TV shows and movies they watched together, but with May, everything feels awkward, now, and… somewhat forced.

What did they talk about before the heist? School, Peter’s friends… some interesting facts he saw or read somewhere… the fandoms he was interested in... Since he hasn’t gone to school, or seen his friends for six months now, these aren’t topics he could talk to her about, though. And fandoms? It’s not like May’s that interested in any of the shit he used to fanboy about all the time in the first place. She doesn’t speak ‘nerd’, and she’s never been good with science either.

Therefore, Peter prefers lying on the bed in silence, staring at the ceiling while May reads the paper, talks to Agent Carter and scrolls around on her phone.

It’s afternoon when Maria and Fury come back. To say they looked disappointed would be an understatement - they’re scowling, lips formed into a thin, barely visible line. “They’re gone,” Fury growls, causing Peter’s rapid heartbeat to slow down instantly.

They got away…

“We didn’t see a single soul. We think they left in a hurry, though, because we’ve already found over a hundred bags stuffed with wads of cash. Easily over one hundred million dollars.”

Oh god... Tony’s gonna be so fucking pissed…

“We hope they left behind some personal belongings or electronic devices that will help us figure out their identities, at least. Mr. Parker, do you know how they could have escaped from the island? We found a boat towed to the jetty.”

“They, um, had a seaplane, sir.”

“Why didn’t you tell us that earlier?,” Fury hisses, glaring at Peter furiously. For a split of a second, the corners of Peter’s mouth twitch faintly as he looks at the man with glassy eyes. Tony would love that pun... Hard to imagine he never thought of making-

"It's been twenty hours since you left the island, and thirteen since you first spoke to us. This is essential information!"

Only when May urges Fury to ‘calm down’, Peter snaps out of it. Suddenly, he feels way too intimidated by the man towering above him menacingly, so he quickly drops his gaze, shivering. What if they punish him for keeping it from them for so long?

“I- I’m so s-sorry, M-Mister Fury, sir. Y-You didn’t ask me about a p-plane and I thought- I thought they wouldn’t be able to use it because I t-took that key as well and d-dumped it in the ocean.”

From the corner of his eyes, he sees Fury shakes his head in disbelief. Fortunately, though, he lets it go. “Do you at least have any idea what model it was and where they could have gone to?”

Peter’s first idea would be Wakanda, but he still doesn’t feel brave enough telling SHIELD about it. Also, how would they even get there with a seaplane? Don't they have limited range? “N-No, sorry, sir. It wasn’t that small, though… it had a bunch of windows.”

“Does it look like this?” Fury clicks around on his phone before showing Peter a picture on Google Images. “Y-Yes. Kind of.”

“That’s what I thought. It’s a de Havilland Canada DHC-6 Twin Otter, providing enough space for 19 passengers. Its range is a little over a thousand miles. They are sold at one location in Nassau... Fun fact - one employee is convinced Loki Odinson picked up one of those there back in March. You sure you never saw him?”

Quick as shot, Peter averts his gaze again. “Y-Yes, sir. As I said, though, I haven’t seen all of the Avengers.”

“If you say so. And you have no idea where they could have run off to?”

“N-No, sir. They didn’t exactly talk to me about any potential escape plans.”

“Well, then we have to hope they didn’t turn off the transmitters. Otherwise, we won’t be able to trace back where they flew off to…” With a heavy sigh, Fury drags forward another one of the visitor chairs and sits down. “I made a few calls regarding Carol Danvers, by the way. Turns out she’s working for the Justice Department. Before that, she was a pilot for the United States Air Force, just like Rhodes was… Unfortunately, it looks like she bolted as well, because instead of coming to work today, she dropped off her cat at a neighbor she’s friends with. Do you know Bruce Banner, Mr. Parker?”

Peter’s head snaps up so quickly he’s afraid he might have strained a muscle. Why does Fury suddenly ask about Bruce? If Peter isn’t mistaken, nobody even knows about ‘Ohio’ in the first place. After all, Bruce wasn't at the bank…

“He’s a scientist, r-right? I learned about him in school and... h-he was in some of my science magazines I read. W-Why?”

“Danvers was once questioned by officers in a suspected homicide case. She briefly dated the District Attorney responsible for pressing charges against Bruce Banner. In case you don’t know, one of his risky, unauthorized experiments failed disastrously, leading to the deaths of a few dozen people. However, the charges against Banner were dropped without an actual trial, drawing a lot of criticism and protests about corruption in the justice system.”

Peter shifts a bit. Fury is watching him like a hawk, his one good eye boring into Peter’s as though hoping he could read his mind.

”A case was opened against the DA, but before they could have questioned him, he died under suspicious circumstances. The officers meaning to arrest him found him dead in his apartment. According to eyewitnesses, the man was last seen in a bar with a mysterious woman that wasn't Danvers. They never found out who she was, or if Danvers had anything to do with it, though. On top of it, the coroners couldn’t find the cause of his death, meaning there’s no proof he even got murdered. Odd, right?”

Oh. Shit. Sounds like Nat didn't only kill guys ‘who deserved it' after all… It had to have been her... “Y-Yes, sir. That’s… odd. I k-know what Bruce Banner looks like, though, and he wasn't on the yacht or the island.”

“But as you just said a few minutes ago, you never saw all of them, right?”

Peter can feel his face growing hot once more. “Um… y-yes, sir.”

“Well, we will put him on the wanted list, just to make sure. And we’ve already issued an arrest warrant against Danvers and Strange. We haven’t managed to identify that Sam guy yet because there are too many people born or living in Harlem named Wilson or Watson. You will need to look through some photos from the government database back in New York. If we’re lucky, we might already have a mugshot of him if he’s been dealing with drugs."

"When will you inform the press?" May asks. "Peter would like to call a few of his friends."

"Later today, when we publish photos and names of the confirmed - or suspected - Avengers. Would you be willing to give an interview or appear at a press conference, Mr. Parker?" Horrified, Peter shakes his head. "Fair enough.”

“A-Are we done, s-sir?”

“Not yet. I have some additional questions about the island. We discovered eight houses, six of them had one bedroom, two had two bedrooms. You said there were nine people, ten with you. Who lived where?”

“I… don’t really know, sir. I was... only ever in the house I lived- um… w-was kept in.”

“Which one?”

“It was a o-one bedroom one, sir.”

“Did you have it to yourself?”

Should he risk lying? Although Peter doesn’t want them to know that he was living with Tony, it's very unlikely they won’t find his and Peter’s DNA in the house... “N-No, sir.”

“Who lived there with you?”

Peter closes his eyes as he whimpers, “M-Mister Stark did. I, um, s-slept on the couch, sir.”

“Even though there would have been two houses providing two bedrooms?”

“M-My comfort wasn’t their highest priority, sir.”

“You know, it won’t be hard for us to draw conclusions about how many people actually lived on the island. For example, in one of the two-bedroom-houses, my men found two stacks of different sized male clothes, as well as female ones, meaning it's highly possible that three people lived there. I wonder what you’d say if we found out there’s been more than ten people living-”

And just like that, Peter can’t take it anymore.

“W-What the fuck do you expect, M-Mister Fury?" he yells, bursting into tears of anger and despair. "Apart from like… f-five or six times, M-Mister Stark kept me locked up twenty-four seven. For six fucking months. I c-couldn't just run around h-however I pleased and… I w-wasn't invited to their f-fancy beach parties, if that's what you think."

"Mr. Parker, I didn’t-"

"I- I'm s-so fucking tired of you treating me l-like I'm a f-fucking criminal. Y-You have no right to j-judge me... you have no fucking idea what I went through."

With that, Peter fights his way out of the bed and rushes into the bathroom. He bangs the door shut, only to sink to the floor, sobbing violently. All of this… it’s too much… Why can’t they leave him alone?

From behind the door, he hears May yelling something along these lines of 'I won't allow you to bully him any longer', causing Peter to feel a painful pang of guilt. After all, he is lying, and he can't even imagine how upset May would be if she found out... But what else is he supposed to do?

He needs to calm down. Yelling won’t get him anywhere… it will only make him look guilty.

It still takes him more than five minutes to stop crying. After splashing some cold water into his face, Peter takes a few deep breaths, trying to gather enough strength to face the stubborn little bitch, as Tony called Fury two weeks ago, once more.

He doesn't look at anyone when he climbs back into bed, tonelessly asking Fury if he has any further questions.

"Not right now. When we’re all back in New York, though, I will need a detailed testimony and physical descriptions of the Avengers we don’t have pictures or names yet."

"S-So… Aunt May and I can g-go home?"

"Yes. Under one condition - I need you to come to the island with me before you leave."

 

Chapter Text

Michelle is in the middle of an essay for her AP English Literature class when her phone rings. Seeing that it’s May, her face lights up. “May, hi! What’s up?”

“Hey, um… Am I calling at a bad time?”

“Nah, just doing homework… Is everything alright?”

“Yes, everything’s perfect, actually. I’m... in the Bahamas.”

Immediately, a shiver runs down MJ’s spine, her heart skipping a beat. Didn’t SHIELD still think Tony Stark is hiding there somewhere? “Oh my god… w-why? Did they find the Avengers?”

“No, but... they found Peter. Alive.”

Although Michelle heard what May said, her brain seems incapable of properly processing the information. “No. No, he… he isn’t alive.”

“He is.” May is audibly crying. “I’ve been with him for nine hours now and… he’s right here. Do you want to talk to him?”

“N-No, he- I- I mean yes! Y-Yes, of course, oh my god, but… w-what? How is this even possible?” MJ stutters, shaking all over. Tears are streaming down her face and she feels she might pass out any second.

“Let him tell you himself…” 

MJ is waiting with bated breath, still not daring to believe it. However, when a shy, broken “H-Hello?” comes out the speaker, she immediately bursts out sobbing. She’d recognize that voice anywhere, despite not having heard it for so long now. “P-Peter, o-oh my- oh my god, I… I don’t know w-what to say, a-are you okay?”

“I’m… fine, um… h-how are you?”

“H-How did you- I… I thought you were dead!”

“I know, I’m... s-so sorry. I- I got... shot, but I didn’t die. It’s a, um, long story...”

Peter actually got shot?! “Oh my god, Peter, I… oh god, I- I’m so sorry. I… oh god, I can’t even t-talk, I just… I missed you so m-much!” After Michelle’s voice breaks, she’s unable to do anything but cry. Peter doesn’t seem to know what to say either, so he just listens quietly to her convulsive sobbing until she manages to choke out, “W-Will you come home or… can I come to see you, somehow? Ned and I would- Oh god, have you told Ned yet?”

“N-No, but I’ll call him soon. Um, I’ll probably fly home in the night. There will be a, um, press statement later, please keep it to yourself until then, okay?”

“Of course, but… oh my god, everyone’s gonna be so happy to hear you’re alive!”

“Um… y-yeah, sure, um,” Peter mumbles, sounding doubtful. “A-Anyways, I need to hang up because… Y-Yeah, um, I just wanted to say hello and… let you know before you see it on the news.”

Michelle’s heart clenches. She doesn’t want Peter to hang up already… they’ve barely spoken because she’s behaving like a hysterical idiot. “O-Okay, um, I- I understand. Please text me when you’ve landed safely, okay?”

“Okay… See you, Michelle.”

“Bye… Oh, and Peter-” All Michelle wants to do is tell Peter how much she loves him, but she doesn’t want to overwhelm or scare him off. “I’m... s-so happy you’re alive.”

“... Thank you.” 

She’s overcome by another crying fit when the line goes dead. Although MJ is happier than ever, she’s unable to stop the flow of tears. He’s alive. They can be together again, just like before the heist. 

… No. Not like ‘before the heist’. Nothing will ever be like ‘before the heist’ again. Too much happened, but they can try to make it work, and together, they will heal. Peter will heal. And Michelle is going to do everything she can to help him.

With a pang of guilt, she remembers that she was supposed to hang out with Brad later. She knows Brad really likes her, but… she's always told him that she wasn’t ready for a new relationship. Even though they’ve been hanging out a lot ( mostly to make out and stuf f), MJ has always made it clear that Brad is most and foremost a friend to her, and not her boyfriend.

She considers deleting some of the pics she uploaded on Instagram so that Peter won’t get any wrong impressions, but it wouldn’t be fair… for neither of the boys. She’s going to be completely honest, should Peter ask her, but she’s also gonna make it clear that she hasn’t really been able to move on and that her heart has always belonged with Peter - even after all this time. 

It’s impossibly hard not to run downstairs and carry on the good news to her parents. To her greatest relief, Ned calls her a few minutes later, having just spoken to Peter himself. He’s completely overwhelmed, his voice hoarse from crying.

"He sounded a little sad, don’t you think?” Ned eventually states.

“Um… yeah, but… I’m sure it’s a lot for him right now, you know?”

“I guess… I just-I just can’t stop thinking about what they m-might have been doing to him all these months.”

MJ feels as if Ned struck her over the head with a baseball bat. Painful memories of Peter getting raped in front of her eyes flash through her head, and she quickly tries to remember what she learned in therapy. Don’t panic. Calm down. Everything’s okay. You’re safe. Peter’s safe. You need to stay strong. For him...

“W-We just… we just have to be there for him… Peter is strong, Ned. No matter what happened, he’ll get through this. I know he will.”


After hanging up on Ned, Peter tells May that he’s ready. Although he looks anything but ready, she calls for the doctor, who gives his final okay for Peter to accompany Fury to the island. 

“Don’t worry, sweetheart… I won’t let you go through this alone. I will come with you. But I hope you know that you don’t have to do this. Everyone understands if this is too much right now.”

“You heard Mr. Fury… He won’t let me go home until I’ve done this.”

“Well, he’s not your legal guardian. I am. He can’t stop me from booking a flight and… taking you home myself.” 

They both know that May doesn’t have the money for this. Besides, Peter doesn’t even have a passport, so he only smiles weakly. “Yeah. No. E-Even if we did that, I would need to come back later, and I just w-want to get it over with.”

“Okay. But if you can't do it anymore, tell me. Now, um… I brought some of your clothes because I didn’t… well, um…" Feeling a little awkward, she takes a bunch of clothes out of a bag and holds them out to Peter. 

For some reason, he just stares at them at first, looking as if he’d just remembered something. “W-Where are the things I was wearing yesterday?”

“I don’t know. I can ask the-” May hasn’t even finished speaking when the three SHIELD agents and a nurse come in. “Do you know where Peter’s clothes are?”

“Yes,” Fury says, “ I have them.”

“Why?” Peter asks through clenched teeth. “I… They are mine, sir, I… want them back.”

“They are splattered with dirt and blood from your wound. I hardly doubt you-”

“I- I don’t care, I want them. Please, sir.”

“Sorry, Mr. Parker, but for now, they’re considered evidence. You might get them back once the forensics are done.”

With tears in his eyes, Peter grabs the clothes May’s holding out for him and runs into the bathroom. May’s heart breaks a little when he asks the nurse to assist him at changing instead of her. Is it because he doesn’t want May to see his scars? And why is he so upset about the clothes? She expected him to be happy that he didn’t have to wear the dirty, blood-stained clothes his kidnappers bought for him… After all, it can’t be a memory he’d like to hold on to, right? 

It takes them a while to get Peter’s plastered arm through the sleeve of his t-shirt, but after ten minutes, they’re done. With his head bowed, Peter addresses Fury again. “Sir, do you also have the, um… I h-had something in the back pocket of my shorts and… Can I please have that, at least?”

“You mean this?” Fury asks, taking a round-shaped thing out of the pocket of his jacket. Without looking at him, Peter nods. “What is it and what is it for?”

Peter hesitates, shifting from one foot to the other. “It’s um… S-Something M-Mister Stark built, but… it’s broken.”

“This belongs to Stark?”

“Um… k-kind of.”

“Then it doesn’t belong to you. Sorry, Mr. Parker, but you can’t have it. Besides, if Stark built this, we need to examine it to see if it’s dangerous or what he could have wanted to use it for.”

If Peter’s upset about losing his clothes, it’s nothing compared to what he’s feeling now. Utterly devastated, he lets out a few hiccupped sobs before turning his back on them, trying to hide his tears. When Fury confusedly glances at May, she can only shrug her shoulders. She has no idea why Peter would want something that reminds him of the man who did all these horrible things to him. 

Twenty minutes later, some armed agents accompany them to the small airport, making sure to shield May and her nephew from potentially getting seen by anyone. A military helicopter flies them to Bonefish Cay, and since it’s only 34 miles beeline to the island, they land after 15 minutes.

Very hesitantly, Peter climbs out of the helicopter, keeping his eyes on the ground as he follows Fury towards the houses. Lots of policemen, agents and forensics are bustling around everywhere, taking photographs and preserving traces. 

Against May’s will, she can’t oversee the beauty of this island. Sand, grass, palm trees, a fireplace, hammocks, beach chairs, all surrounded by crystal clear, turquoise water… If she didn’t know her nephew was held captive here, she’d think she arrived in paradise.

“Which house have you been in?” Fury asks when they arrive at the eight small one-storey Victorian houses standing a few yards away from each other. From the outside, they look rather innocent and lovely with their white-lacquered wooden porches.

“This one,” Peter whispers, pointing at the third one from right. His hand is shaking terribly, and when they all move forward, he hesitates. “D-Do I need to come inside as well, s-sir?”

“I’m afraid so, Mr. Parker.”

“We can leave anytime you want.” May smiles soothingly, relieved when Peter allows her to take his hand. “I’m right by your side, ba- sweetheart.”

Grasping May’s hand tightly, Peter slowly starts to move. He sniffles when he sees policemen and forensics bustling around the house, clearing cupboards and taking even more pictures. With wide, watery eyes, he stares at the numerous scattered puzzle pieces lying around everywhere, and when an officer takes a few steps into their direction, Peter jumps behind May with a scared whimper, trying to hide behind her despite her being smaller than him.

It’s heartbreaking. 

“Is this where you slept?” Fury asks, pointing at the couch opposite of a large TV. There’s a very thin blanket lying on the cushion, but no pillow. 

“Mhm,” Peter squeaks, causing May to sigh in relief. Thank god her baby wasn’t locked into a dark, narrow ‘cell’ or forced to sleep in a room with that man.

“Where’s the bedroom?”

When her nephew points at one of the doors at the back of the relatively large living-kitchen area, Fury tells them to follow him. In the bedroom, one of the agents hands Fury a bunch of notes, and while he’s skimming through them, May has time to look around. She swallows hard when her eyes fall onto the queen-sized bed. There is only one blanket, but two used pillows, as well as one book on each nightstand.

“My notes say that the forensics found different strings of hair on both pillows, as well as two sleeping shirts. You’d spare us some work if you just told us the truth, Mr. Parker.”

“W-Why do you care where I slept?” Peter cries, yanking his hand free of May’s grip to dry his eyes.

“Because we’re trying to find out what kind of relationship you had with Stark.”

At this, May sees red. “Relationship? They had no relationship apart from being captor and… and victim. You’re making this sound like Peter would have had a choice where he slept.”

“This is about honesty, Mrs. Parker. Your nephew is our only witness and we need to know if we can trust him. It’s not his choice to decide what is important and what isn’t. He’s obliged to tell the truth about anything I’m asking him, so I’m asking you again, Mr. Parker. Where did you sleep?”

“What do you want me to tell you, Mister Fury?” Peter sobs, shaking like a leaf, “ Yes, I fucking slept in the bed, s-so what? It was either this or… the fucking chest in the storeroom. Trust me, I tried, but… it was unbearable.”

May whimpers quietly. They locked her baby into a chest… and then, they forced him to sleep next to his rapist after all. For six goddamn months...

“Why did you lie?” Fury asks, raising his brows challengingly.

“Because I knew you’d be judging me.”

“I’m only judging you if you lie to me. Lying means you’re trying to hide something from us. Did he tie you to the bed or were you free to get up whenever you wanted?”

When Peter swallows thickly, May’s heart shatters all over again. “F-For the first two weeks, he cuffed my ankle to the bed at night.”

He cuffed Peter to the bed?!

“Did you ever try to overpower Stark or run away while he was sleeping?”

“N-No, sir, it wouldn’t have been possible. He… had an A.I., which was very advanced. It would have alerted him and his friends if I made any move I wasn’t supposed to. There are three cameras in here… thirteen in the whole house.”

“Yeah, my people dismounted them to make sure nobody will be able to watch us. He probably lied to you, though. I don’t think he invented an A.I. that would be able to… evaluate everything you did.”

“He- he did, sir. Mister Stark demonstrated it to me, and I,  um… I once s-stabbed him with a shard of glass and it did sound the alarm a second before I stabbed him.”

“You stabbed him.”

“Y-Yes, sir. The day of your press conference. It was… right before he shot me.”

Fury sighs. “We can talk about that another time, but I’m still convinced it was a trick.”

“It wasn't," Peter hisses, sounding oddly defensive. "He’s… a fucking genius and a lot smarter than you think.”

An awkward silence follows before Fury thankfully decides to ignore Peter’s last statement, asking him about the day he escaped. The boy explains that Stark left the house to visit Rhodes, giving Peter time to cut off power and disable the living room cameras before opening the safe. “I… knew the combination, and then, I ran to the jetty and got into the boat.”

“Wait… So, you knew they would most likely be gone when we talked to you at 3 am? I mean, he was meant to come back at some point and notice you were gone, right?” 

“I… Y-Yes, but, um, a-actually…” Peter hesitates. “... H-He did come back before I left, even, but I, um,  k-knocked him out with that saucepan over there. I… didn’t think he’d wake up so fast and…j-just in case I t-tied him up with some duct tape.”

Despite detesting violence, May can’t help feeling extremely proud of her nephew. If she was completely honest, she wouldn’t even have blamed him if he’d killed Stark… And yet, she’s still glad Peter didn’t do it. It would have surely traumatized him even more. Besides, if Stark is still alive, May can at least kill him with her own bare hands one day.

“I see. Well, thank you, Mr. Parker. That’s all, for now.”

To May’s biggest surprise, Peter doesn’t move. “Um… s-sir, can I… get some of my clothes, please?”

When Fury hesitates, May interferes. “Do you really need them, honey? You have enough clothes at home, don’t you think-”

“Please.”

Fury sighs, long and deep. “All right, but show them to me first.”

They both go back into the bedroom. When they come back a few minutes later - Peter tightly pressing a bag against his chest with his unplastered arm - Fury asks May for a private word outside.

“Mrs. Parker, I don’t know how to explain this, but… The shirts he took… I’m sure they all belong to Stark.”

“Why do you think that?”

“They are the same size as all the other clothes we found in the closet, and… I mean, your nephew is rather small. Also, I’m sure you saw how upset he was when I didn’t let him keep that thing Stark built. I don’t like to say it, but your nephew really might have developed some kind of… unhealthy affection for Stark we need to keep an eye on. Unfortunately, these things happen. It’s part of the victims’ survival instincts.”

Stockholm Syndrome. Just like Sharon said... “What kind of affection are we talking about here?”

“Could be anything… He could see him as a mentor, father-figure, friend… or lover.” When May opens her mouth to cuss Fury off, he adds, “Mrs. Parker, they shared a queen-sized bed for six months. Your nephew said that Stark barely let him out of the house… It looks like they spent a lot of time with each other and… we both know what Stark did to him at the bank.”

“Yes, but we also know that Peter said Stark d-didn’t hurt him again after that.”

“You can’t tell me you believe him.”

“I do,” May lies, glaring at Fury.

Sighing, the man clicks around on his smartphone. ”If you say so… I can only advise you to send him to therapy as fast as you can, and get a STD test done.”

May’s stomach turns nastily. “Of course I will, do you think I'm completely ignorant?”

“I’m just saying we will have to ask him about these things eventually. And just so you know what we’re dealing with here - my agents secured this from Stark’s bedroom a few hours ago. We’re gonna check it for your nephew’s DNA.”

The second Fury turns the screen around, May flinches. Feeling the sudden urge to retch, she immediately averts her gaze, trying to erase the image from her mind again right away. 

Unfortunately, that’s impossible. Even when Peter and May are finally sitting on the plane back home an hour later, she’s still haunted by the photo showing lube bottles, various restraints, candles, a blindfold and a gag, a collar, as well as various disturbing sex toys of all shapes and sizes.

It's hard not to lose her mind... She can only hope that Fury and Sharon are wrong. Peter surely doesn’t have any sort of affection for Stark, or he wouldn’t have knocked him out and run away from him… right? 

But then, May looks at her sweet, innocent boy curled into a ball on the other side of the aisle, hugging the bag of clothes, and remembers that Peter asked her not to call him baby anymore.


‘Was I stupid to love you, was I reckless to hope? Was it obvious to everybody else? That I’ve faaaallen for a lie. You were neeever on my side. Fool me once-’

“Can you please turn that fucking music off?” Tony snaps at Wanda, who raises her brows. Behind them, he hears someone giggling.

“A little sensitive, are we, Tony?” Sam sneers. Snorting, Clint adds, “Aw, don’t be so mean, Sam. Imagine getting disfigured and castrated by a defenseless, scrawny midget you thought you had broken already… that really must suck.” 

Sam isn’t the only one snickering maliciously in response.

Fuming, Tony turns his head back to Stephen, allowing him to apply more of the burn wound ointment onto his face. How much he despises everyone and everything. That stupid song, his fucking so-called ‘friends’, the little shit who turned on him… and most of all, himself.

They arrived at Buck Island yesterday around midnight. Now, they’ve just finished a shared dinner with some of the food they brought with them, waiting for news. It’s been twenty-six hours since Peter bolted and there hasn’t been one report about him so far. Nothing.

Whereas most of the Avengers hold onto the hope that Peter died after all, Tony, Nat and Bruce are torn. Although they don’t want Peter to rat them out, they don’t want to see him dead either. Problem is, seeing as they don’t know if and what he might have told authorities about them, they can’t risk leaving the island to buy food or fuel for the plane. 

Unfortunately, they can’t rely on Danvers anymore. Just like Scott and Quill, she bolted as soon as she got the call from Rhodey, forced to go into hiding as well. Right now, T’Challa is the only one who could help them still, but he was beyond outraged when he heard that Tony let Peter escape, refusing to help them until they know what’s up. Therefore, all they can do for now, is wait.

Tony and Stephen then retreat to the bathroom to take care of the burn wounds on Tony’s genitals. “What do you think?” he asks, heart pounding. If Peter actually ruined his chance of ever having real sex again, Tony’s going to have to ruin him in return...

"Well… I mean, you feel pain and are able to piss, which is good, but… it also looks a little infected, which is bad. No matter what, you need professional treatment. Fast. I’m sure Princess Shuri and her team of medical experts can help you once we get to Wakanda, but… for now, just don’t do anything with it and keep applying the ointment.”

“So no fapping for now?” Tony tries to joke, but just when Stephen opens his mouth to retort, Bruce calls for them. “It's here! SHIELD’s press statement.”

Gasping, they hurry back into the dining room. Everyone’s scrolling through the press statement on their phones, so Tony grabs his own from the table, opening the website Bruce tells him. His heart skips a beat when the first thing he sees are pictures of himself, Rhodey, Loki, Bucky, Clint, Danvers, Stephen... and Bruce. The statement itself is rather short.

“Peter Parker (17), kidnapped from New York by the group of criminals also known as “The Avengers” back in March, escaped from a six-month-long captivity on Bonefish Cay, Bahamas, yesterday evening.

In his first testimony earlier today, the formerly presumed dead teenager was able to reveal the identity of some of the Avengers, including Tony Stark, James Rhodes, James Barnes, Clint “Hawkeye” Barton, Carol Danvers and Dr. Stephen Strange. International arrest warrants have been issued. [...] Loki Odinson and Bruce Banner, albeit not identified by Parker as participants in the heist or his kidnapping, also remain strong suspects. This statement will be updated [...]”

Tony’s first thought is that this doesn’t make any sense. Why would Peter keep quiet about so many of them? Admittedly, Tony probably never told them all of their surnames, but why would he not tell them about the King of Wakanda

And… why in the world would he lie about-

“Loki… What the fuck did you do?” Tony growls, fingers twitching. 

Chapter Text

Loki stares at Tony in shock and confusion. "What? I didn't do anything, what are you-" 

"Why did Peter lie about you?" Tony marches forward angrily, only to wince when his shorts brush against his injured penis. "They- ouch!… Goddammit… They already had your fucking name and picture, it would have been easy to confirm you're an Avenger. I get why he's protecting Bruce since he's been kissing Peter’s ass for ages, but he hated you for making that bet with me." 

Loki stands up, glaring at Tony. "Don't you think I'm confused myself? I talked to him at the wedding for a few seconds, and-" 

"You did what?"  

"How about you let me finish," Loki hisses. "I was surprised to find out how much he still hated me. I apologized again, but he was very hostile. He even wanted me to stop talking to him, saying he wanted to be good for you or some shit. And he sounded very honest when he said that." 

Tony’s heart clenches. Honest… pah! It was all lies. “Oh yeah? Why did he protect you, then?”

Loki groans in exasperation. "I said I don't know. Maybe my apology did encourage him not to rat me out? Shit, Tony, I have no idea, but… I mean, what do you think I did? Help him get away?" 

"You tell me. He seemed to know exactly where to go despite visibility being extremely low." 

Nostrils flaring, Tony seethes with anger when Loki lets out a barking laugh. "Really? Come on, Tony… You sometimes took him outside yourself. That one time you even tied him up between the palm trees for hours. From there, Abaco Island was clearly visible, so-" 

"Not just Abaco, though. Ambergris too. And from the other side of the island, he could have seen High Cay and Powell Cay. Apart from Ambergris and Abaco, they are all uninhabited, so it's quite a coincidence he immediately found the beach closest to the community where we bought our groceries, don't you think?"

Shaking his head, Loki glances up and down the table, as if checking to see who's siding with him. "I alerted everyone about the boat, though, didn't I? Without me, you'd still be-" 

"Rhodey would have found me soon enough. We had a poker date set for 8:00 pm." 

"And how in the world would I have known that? I understand that you're confused, Tony, but you are the one who who took him in the first place, and who was supposed to protect the fucking keys and keep him locked up. Unless I went into your house, knocked you out and handed Peter the keys myself, you can't blame me for this. Even if - purely hypothetical - I had told him which direction to go. "

Most of the others nod in agreement, causing Tony to fume even more. Even though he admits that Loki has a point, he knows that Loki had a hand in Peter’s escape. Apart from believing - hoping - Peter actually truly liked him, his gut feeling has never failed him before. "Don't twist the facts. This isn't about me fucking up. You helped him, I know you did, because you hate me and felt bad that I punished him because of you. Admit it. "

"Why alert you, then? Why not just bolt and leave you to your fate?" Loki asked, brows raised challengingly.

"Because you knew I would bring you down. You don’t actually want anyone to get caught, not even me. In exchange for helping him, you… asked Peter to protect you, though. You, Thor, Val, Nat and Bruce. All of your besties." 

"Honestly, you're blabbering. Have you never considered that all of this might be a trick? SHIELD already tried to drive a wedge between us once. Who says they're not doing it again?" 

"He's right, Tony,” Bruce interjects, “We have to thrust each other or we might as well just give up and surrender." 

When the others nod again, Tony snorts like an irritated bull. Enraged, he dashes off to the bedroom he’s temporarily sharing with Rhodey. He needs to get some space before he ‘accidentally’ massacres all of them.

For the rest of the evening, he frantically refreshes various news sites, hoping to get more information on Peter the investigations. Apparently, SHIELD has already been busy raiding Bonefish Cay - CNN’s quoting an insider, who revealed they've found bags with over two hundred million dollars already. Shit. shit. shit. There’s no further information about Peter though… 

At 10:40 pm, Stephen storms in, telling him to come to the living room. "It's the kid." 

Gasping, Tony jumps up from bed and hurries out the room as fast as his injuries allow. Just in time, he sees the TV broadcast cutting from the news anchor to a small group of people exiting a building that looks like a larger airport. 

Although it’s night, the street- and flashlights of the cameras make it look bright. The screen shows three large men in suits and a blonde-haired woman, trying to shield two smaller people between them. When the group tries to get into a car parked right outside the airport, he catches sight of May Parker, angrily screaming at the reporters to ‘back off’.

And then, he sees him.

Peter. 

Although he’s trying to hide his face behind a pair of sunglasses and the hood of the sweater he’s wearing (why does his left arm look so bulky?!), Tony manages to catch a glimpse of the facial features so familiar to him. His stomach clenches when he sees that Peter’s cheeks are tear-streaked, clearly terrified about the reporters yelling shit at him.

It hurts to know that only three weeks ago it was Tony whom Peter was trying to hide behind at the wedding, seeking comfort and shelter. Now, it’s some grim-looking SHIELD agents and his aunt, who might be fierce, but way too fragile to protect her nephew from reporters, onlookers or any other potential asshats trying to hurt him.

There’s only one person allowed to hurt Peter, and that’s Tony. 

Truth be told, once Tony has gotten his revenge for what Peter did to him, he doesn't think he would want to hurt him again... at least not after getting him back to the point where Peter was before the wedding. Broken, clingy and submissive. 

Once he’s his good, perfect boy again, however, Tony is willing to shower him with nothing but affection and kindness, this time.

Until the day he dies.


Panic crawls through Peter’s veins, spreading like ice, when he sees the reporters lurking outside the airport. Since they were mostly walking through restricted areas inside the building, nobody has bothered them so far, but now there’s a horde of sensation-seeking reporters and paparazzi in front of them, every one of them intent on a picture of his face.

Peter barely hears May and Sharon debating over private exits. Shaking like a leaf, his eyes are fixed on the glass doors until Sharon comes around to look at him, smiling apologetically. “I’m sorry this is happening, Peter. We didn’t tell anyone we’d fly you home today, but I guess someone tipped them off. Do you think you can do this? The car is waiting just a few yards from the entrance. We’ll protect you, I promise. Nothing’s going to happen to you.”

What other choice does he have? 

“O-Okay.” Whimpering, Peter puts on the sunglasses handed to him and pulls the hood forward to cover his face, bracing himself. And yet, tears begin to run down Peter’s face when the paparazzi rush forward the second they spot them walking out of the airport. He keeps his head low and hides between the agents shielding him from view as best as they can, trying to ignore the questions thrown at him (‘Peter, how did you escape the Avengers?’ - ‘Is it true you shot yourself?’ - Did they hurt you?’). 

Barely able to fight down the anxiety attack threatening to overwhelm him, Peter, May and the SHIELD agents eventually make it to the big SUV waiting for them. As soon as one of the agents has slammed the door shut, Peter falls into an embarrassing crying fit, feeling utterly pathetic as he - unsuccessfully - tries to keep himself together.

“Oh, honey, I’m so sorry,” May whispers, pulling him into an embrace as the car sets in motion. Glad that his plastered arm serves as a sort of barrier between them, Peter leans back, trying to get as far away from her as possible. He knows she means well, but he can’t deal with getting touched on top of everything right now.

Looking distraught over Peter rejecting her attempt at comfort, May pulls away, bottom lip quivering. “God, I’m so sorry, I, um… Is there anything I can do, Pete?”

Sobbing, he shakes his head, wishing he could evaporate into thin air.

They stay silent for the rest of the drive. Sniffling occasionally, Peter keeps on gazing out the window without actually seeing anything. He wonders what Tony might be up to right now… His stomach churns when he realizes that Tony and the other Avengers might be following the news. What if the paparazzi pics get released and Tony sees them on some website? Oh god.

Thirty minutes later, the car pulls up in front of the apartment complex May and Peter live in. Through the toned windows, Peter can see a bunch of people standing around - people with cameras

“They know where we live?” Terrified, he turns to his aunt, who bites down on her bottom lip as her eyes water. 

"Oh Peter, I am so sorry. When all of this started, they sometimes used to wait for me outside and- Shit, I am so, so sorry." 

“I’ll talk to Fury about an injunction as soon as possible,” Sharon interjects from the row in front of them, glaring at the paparazzi. “You might be considered a person of public interest right now, but you’re also under police protection. This is your home, they aren’t allowed to take a photo of you here.”

Fearfully, Peter remembers Tony casually talking about their apartment in ‘Sunnyside’. “He… They already know we live in this district,” he tells Sharon, trying to ignore May’s terrified gasp next to him.

“Shit… that’s what we were afraid of. We’ll try to find you a new apartment  soon, but we need to straighten out a few things with the US Marshal Service before that. We're already providing you with a 24-hour police protection, but if you don’t feel safe enough, I can try to put you up in a hotel or something.”

“It’s fine,” Peter mumbles, knowing he wouldn’t feel safe no matter where he slept. “If he really wants to k-kill me, he’ll find a way, no matter where I am or… h-how much protection I have.”

Sharon and May exchange a worried glance. Then, Sharon gets out of the car with two of the other agents, trying to get the reporters to step back and not block the entrance. Eventually, they lower their cameras, but Peter still feels close to panicking when he climbs out of the car. His heart is racing and his breath trembling as he hurries towards the entrance with May and the fourth agent.

“So, how does this whole, um, police protection thing work?” May asks Sharon when they're safely inside, waiting for the elevator. 

“Two agents will watch the entrance of the building at all times. In addition, one agent will keep guard outside of your apartment, if that’s okay for you.”

“Sure, but… what if Peter goes outside? Will he get some sort of bodyguard?”

Going outside? Right now, Peter can’t imagine taking one more step outside of his apartment ever again, at least not as long as reporters are lurking at the entrance. In the back of his head, he can hear Tony’s gloating voice, snarling. 'Look how far you've come, slut... From one prison to the other. Impressive.'

“Yes. He will be protected wherever he goes, just like you will be. We’ll make sure to provide cars as well. You don’t have to worry about the costs. Everything is covered.”

“And what about the… witness protection program?”

“The 24-hour police protection already is part of it. Question is if you really want to do the full thing. First, Peter would need to give a full testimony, preferably at an actual trial, and then, you would both get new identities.”

“Would we have to leave everything behind?”

“Yes. Your jobs, school, friends, other family… Thing is, Peter’s face is well-known by now, so one day, he might get recognized even if he had a new name.”

Peter stops listening to their discussion after that; all of this is freaking him out. A few minutes later, he enters his real home for the first time in six months. Whereas May and Sharon continue their quiet debate about his protection, Peter lets his eyes roam through the living room. Although nothing seems to have changed, from what he can tell, standing here feels weird - as if he didn't belong here anymore. 

Eventually, May sees Sharon off with a long hug. A few seconds later, the door falls shut, leaving them alone. Just like in the hospital, Peter and May awkwardly glance at one another for a while, not knowing what to say. 

“Um… Do you want me to make you a quick late night snack, honey?”

“No, thank you, I’m still… full from the sandwich I ate in the jet. I'm actually pretty tired, so… May I take a shower and go to bed, please?”

“Of course, honey. You don’t have to ask me for permission to do these things.”

Peter’s face grows hot. Shit. “Y-Yeah, I know, I just… um… where can I take my- my stuff to?” He points at the bag filled with Tony’s clothes he got from the island. 

“Your room is where it’s always been, sweetie. But I, um...” Now it’s her turn to blush. “I put some of my things in there… Just temporarily, but I didn’t have time to clear them out before Sharon picked me up yesterday…”

“It’s fine, Aunt May, I can clear them out for you.”

“No, oh god, no, I’ll do it myself.” 

When she hurries off, Peter grabs the bag and follows her. As he’s walking through the living room, he can’t help glancing at the framed pictures hanging on the wall. It’s been months since Peter’s last seen a photo of his 'former self'. How unfamiliar the beaming boy is to him... It almost feels as though he wasn't looking at pictures of his younger self, but of someone he used to know. Like… an old friend or something. Someone like Katya, a friend he’s once been very close to, but whom he hasn’t seen for a very long time.

In the middle of his bedroom stands Uncle Ben’s old, broken grandfather clock, a bicycle, an ironing board ( did he really burn Tony with a fucking IRON?! ), and a rolling clothes rack with what looks like May’s winter clothes. Peter’s pinboard, his shelves and desk look like they haven’t been touched since he left, though. 

“I’m so sorry, Pete,” May mutters as she quickly makes her way over to Peter’s bed. Only now he can see that there’s a few boxes sitting on the mattress. 

“What’s in there?” he asks timidly. 

“Um… things people laid down in front of our building or your school, like... stuffed animals, letters and stuff, and, um,… everything you had in your locker at school. I- I didn’t know where to put them, so…” 

Without warning, she sinks to the floor in front of the bed, sobbing heartbrokenly. Crestfallen, Peter swallows down his own tears. “I’m sorry I put you through that, May.”

It only makes her cry even harder. “I already told you not to apologize… This isn’t your fault, Peter. N-Nothing is your fault. You didn’t ask those disgusting people to- to hurt you. If only, I should be apologizing for… failing to protect and not finding you.”

Great, now he made her upset. “No, please… There’s nothing you could have done, M-May. I mean, other than what you already did, and… I mean, I- I’m not even… We aren’t even related. If you had given me to an o-orphanage after Ben’s death, you wouldn’t have had to deal with all this and… f-fear for your life right now.”

May gets up so fast that Peter flinches, hitting the door frame as he jumps back. Mortified, his aunt immediately tries to move more carefully, though her voice is still shaking when she speaks. “Peter, I raised you like my son, and I love you like a son. There’s nothing in this world I wouldn’t do for you, I would… I would die for you, Peter. You’re the light of my life and I’m so grateful you’re back here with me.”

This time, Peter doesn’t flinch when she pulls him into a soft embrace. Not only does he know that she needs him right now, but… he needs her too. Besides, for months, this is all Peter has been dreaming of... His only motivation for trying to escape was his desperate wish to hug his aunt again - his family, blood or not - and tell her how much he loves her... So maybe, this is what he should finally start doing.

“I l-love you too, May. I love you s-so much. I’m so sorry I said that, I- I didn’t mean to upset you, I just… I j-just...”

“Ssh,” May soothes, embracing him even tighter. “Don’t worry about it. What matters is that we love and have each other. Nothing else. We’ll get through this, okay? I promise you.”

Crying, they keep on hugging each other for a few more minutes. When they part, they quickly dry their tears before May starts putting the boxes away, refusing Peter’s help. “No, sweetie, just… take your shower, please. I’ll be done when you are. But wait a sec, I’ll get you some pjs...” May moves past the ironing board and pushes the bike aside to get into Peter’s closet. After handing him a shirt and shorts, she asks if he needs help. 

“No, I- I’m good, thank you.”

“Okay. In my bag, there are some covers for your cast. The hospital said you have to use them whenever you take a shower. If you need me after all, just call for me.”

“I will, thank you, sir.”

Peter has already turned around when he freezes. Did he just… call May sir again? Oh. god. Blushing worse than ever, Peter nervously glances at May, who looks at him awkwardly. Guess he really did say it… and worse, she heard it. “Um… I- I’m sorry, I didn’t… um…”

“It’s… fine, Peter, please don’t worry about it. Do you… want to talk about it?”

“N-No, it’s just… I- I’ll take that shower now.”

Not knowing what else to say or do, Peter makes sure to get into the bathroom as quickly as possible. He needs to get his fucking shit together. 

Showering takes a lot longer than Peter expected. Doing most of this with only one functioning arm is a challenge, so when he’s finally finished, it’s already nearly 1 am. In the meantime, May has cleared the boxes off his bed and moved most of the other stuff back into the living room.

Insisting to tuck him in like she used to when he was little, May stays for a few more minutes, gently brushing over his curls. “Goodnight, honey. I’m so happy you’re back home.”

“Me too,” Peter mumbles, flinching slightly when May leans down to give him a quick kiss on the forehead. Then, she stands up and leaves.

For a while, Peter just stares into the darkness of his room, a strange kind of uneasiness taking a hold of him. It’s just… so quiet. No, not quiet. In fact, every other minute there’s an emergency car siren wailing in the distance. Although that’s par for the course for New York and Queens, it’s so different from what he’s gotten used to.

For months, Peter has been falling asleep to the sound of waves breaking on the shore and Tony’s calm breathing (quiet snoring if he ate too much or drank alcohol). During the first few months, Tony’s audible presence had terrified him so much that it usually kept him awake for hours. Over time, it eventually became soothing and helped him fall asleep, though. And now, the lack thereof is somewhat unsettling.

After what feels like an hour, Peter gives up. No matter how tired he is, he can’t fucking sleep like this. Despite being parched, Peter decides against getting a glass of water from the kitchen. He doesn’t want to take any unnecessary risks... Tony never allowed him to get up during the night unless Peter had to take a piss, and even then, Tony used to get mad when it woke him up.

Therefore, he sits down on the windowsill like he used to do when he was younger. For a while, he watches people and cars pass by despite the late hour, trying to feel excited that he’s still alive and back home. He is happy that he's back, he really is, but… it doesn't really feel like home.

It’s just… sometimes, Peter feels as though Tony tore apart his soul, reforming every single broken fragment until he fit his idea of a perfect slave. And now, May - and everyone else, probably - expect Peter to just be his former self again, living his former life in his former home, despite being a completely different person.

But it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s anything but easy. It’s like taking pieces out of a finished puzzle, reshape and resize them, and expect them to still fit into their old spot. It’s impossible.

Only when his vision blurs, that Peter realizes he’s crying. God, he’s… so fucking pathetic.

What did he tell Tony a few months ago? He told him that he didn’t just want to survive… he told him that he wanted to live. Peter surely didn’t go through all of this shit only to end up sitting on his windowsill in the middle of the night, crying because of something he doesn’t understand. Something he most certainly isn’t supposed to be feeling… 

An odd tingle runs down Peter’s spine when he lets his eyes roam through the room again. The clothing bag is lying on the floor, illuminated by the streetlamps, and before he knows it, he’s walked over and pulled out one of Tony’s shirts.

After a few moments of hesitation, Peter begins to take his sleeping shirt off, struggling to get his cast through the sleeve. Even though his common sense is yelling at him to throw it away, Peter pulls Tony’s shirt over his head, putting it on instead of his own. Naturally, it’s way too big for him, but at least, it feels familiar. It even smells familiar.

Embarrassed and deeply upset with himself, Peter quickly snuggles back under his blanket, feeling alarmingly secure. Fighting down another crying fit, he imagines how terribly Tony would be teasing him if he could see him right now. And yet, not even a minute later, Peter’s mind becomes foggy as he’s slowly drifting off to sleep.

Chapter Text

Peter wakes up early the next day, all thanks to some drivers deciding it was the perfect hour for a honk concert. The stress and horrors of the past two days have taken a heavy toll on Peter, making him feel more tired than ever, but he’s kind of relieved that he’s awake now - his heart is still racing from the nightmare he had about getting chased by the Avengers and SHIELD.

It's hard to imagine that only 48 hours ago he woke up next to Tony, pretending to be sick. Peter actually expected Tony to get extremely annoyed and escape the house as soon as possible to leave the ‘sick, contagious boy’ to his fate. Instead, Tony stayed surprisingly calm and cared for him, even… It was rather sweet. 

And how did Peter thank him for it? - By burning his face and crotch. 

Overcome with guilt, Peter turns to the other side, trying to stop thinking about it. Should he get up or stay in bed until he hears May’s alarm? Did she even set an alarm? 

Not wanting to risk falling asleep again, Peter decides to get up and set the table. The clock in the living room tells him it’s only 7:15 am; that makes about five hours of sleep, at most. What day is it, even? His birthday was five to seven weeks ago, Peter thinks, so it should be September?

As Peter opens the cupboards, taking out plates and glasses, he tries to remember how May likes to drink her coffee. He knows that Tony prefers it black, but May drinks it with milk and no sugar, right? Not wanting to risk brewing it too early (it would only get cold), Peter then sits down on the sofa, waiting for May to get up. 

At 9:20 am, he finally hears noises coming from her room, and a few seconds later, she drags her feet into the kitchen-living room, shuffling towards the coffee machine.

“Good morning, Aunt May.”

“AH!” With a loud shriek, she turns to the sofa, clutching her chest. “Jesus, Peter, I… I didn’t see you.”

Going pink around the nose, Peter quickly stands up. “Oh… Um, sorry, I- I didn’t want to scare you.”

“It’s fine sweetheart. What… What are you doing over there?”

“Nothing, I was just… waiting for you to get up." 

"Oh, shit, I’m sorry. I figured you'd still be sleeping because it was so quiet. How long have you been up for?" 

"Around two hours."

May groans, looking distraught. "Oh honey… You know you can always wake me up if you need anything, right?"

"Thank you, but I didn't need anything. Um. Do you want me to prepare breakfast now or may I go to the-" Peter breaks off mid-sentence, remembering that she told him not to ask for permission. "I mean, I'll go to the bathroom first and then- and then I’ll fix you breakfast, if that’s okay."

The smile May flashes him looks so gloomy that it crushes Peter’s heart. After a few quiet seconds, she sighs. “It’s very sweet of you to offer to make breakfast, but you just got home and you’re injured.”

“S-So? I can still use all my fingers.”

“Can I please just spoil you for a few days?”

“Um…” Peter hesitates, fighting an internal battle. How is he supposed to prove himself and show that he’s a good boy if she doesn’t even let him prepare breakfast? “S-Sure, if that’s what you want…”

May opens her mouth, but then closes it again, apparently lost for words. Eventually, she sighs once more. “What I want is for you to be happy, Peter. Spoiling you makes me happy, but if it makes you feel uncomfortable, then I’ll try not to overdo it. Is that alright?”

Swallowing thickly, Peter nods. “Yeah. Thank you, May.” Then, he hurries out the room, not wanting her to see his tears. She’s so kind and sweet, despite him giving her so much trouble and grief. He doesn’t deserve her. 

Five minutes later, Peter comes back into the kitchen, finding two bowls filled with his favorite cereal on the table. Admonishing himself not to drop on his knees ( how fucking awkward would that be...?! ), he sits down opposite of May, already feeling close to tears again. 

“Thank you so much, May, this is… so nice of you.” 

“You’re welcome, Peter, but… it’s just cereal.”

Growing hot in the face once more, Peter fills his bowl with milk before dipping his spoon into the cereal. It’s been ages - six months, duh - since he’s last eaten this. In the hopes of making the situation less awkward, he nods his head at May’s bowl filled with the same cereal. “I thought you didn’t like them.”

“Yeah, I thought so too, but... I couldn’t bring myself to throw away the pack you opened before- um, anyways, I decided to eat it instead, and as it turns out, they’re a lot more tasty than my porridge. So, I kept on buying them. It… gave me some sort of familiarity...”

So much for making it less awkward. Having no idea how to respond to this, he stays silent. 

Eventually, May clears her throat, glancing at him nervously. “What did you eat for breakfast all those months?” 

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “Mostly eggs and bacon.” Or dry bread. Or nothing.

“Really? Oh, that’s… that’s good. That’s really good.” Smiling, she breathes a sigh of relief. “Do you prefer eggs and bacon? I can run to seven-eleven and-”

“Nonono, it’s fine, please, I… love this. It’s perfect, please don’t bother.” After a few quiet moments, May asks how he slept, to which Peter shrugs his shoulders once more. “It was all right. A little… loud.”

“Yeah, I can imagine… It will probably take a while until you’re used to it again.” Peter then notices that she shifts in her seat, and as she averts her gaze, her right foot starts tapping. “Is this... one of the shirts they bought you?"

Peter almost chokes on his cereal, pupils narrowing as if trying to flee from the expanding whites of his eyes. He’s still wearing Tony’s shirt… fuck. “Um…. y-yeah, they, um… g-got me a few things.”

"Mhm. Was there anything wrong with your own? The one I gave you? This one looks so large." 

"N-No, I just- I just feel more comfortable with larger clothes. Um… Especially because of the cast."

Peter isn’t sure if May believes him; she sighs deeply, and when she speaks, her voice is quivering. “Do you remember Dr. Foster? Jane? I’ve been seeing her again for a few months now and… I was wondering if you might want to talk to her as well. Or would you prefer Dr. Selvig?”

There we go. Peter was afraid May would want him to go see someone. Dr. Selvig treated him for a year after his parents death, and Dr. Foster, a very young therapist, treated both May and Peter after Ben had died. 

“N-No, I… I don’t want to talk to anyone. Please.” 

“Look, I know these sessions are rough, but they always used to help you. I’m sure you remember how-”

“That was different. Talking is... useless, this time.” 

After all, talking about and learning how to live with the loss of a loved one is one thing, but talking about getting raped, tortured and humiliated for months on end, is another. Peter doesn’t want to talk - he wants to forget. Having to relive every single moment by bringing it up over and over again would only have the opposite effect. 

“Please, sweetie… I’m not qualified to- I mean, I don’t want to do anything wrong, you know? I don’t want to scare or overwhelm you with anything, but I won’t be able to help you on my own.”

“I don’t need help, though. I- I’m fine, really, Aunt May, please, don’t make me talk about... about it. Please.”

Tears sparkle in May’s eyes. “SHIELD is going to ask you some more questions regarding these things, Peter, and it would make me feel a lot better if you had someone you could-”

“Fuck SHIELD.”

“... What?” May asks incredulously.

“Fuck them. I- I don’t fucking know why they even fucking care. I mean, what does it matter? They should focus on doing their fucking job, for once, and leave me the fuck alone.”

Peter doesn’t know when he got up, but suddenly, he realizes he’s standing, tears streaming down his cheeks. May stares at him with wide eyes, apparently distraught due to his outburst and excessive use of swear words, but Peter can't bear the thought of having to talk about his ordeal, especially not with Fury.

“In order to do their job, they have to know a few things, Peter,” May says in a placating tone, standing up as well, “Besides, we- we will have to go to the doctor for a… check up, and-”

Immediately, Peter’s anger gets replaced by uneasiness and he swallows hard. “W-What kind of check-up?” 

May nervously bites down on her bottom lip, looking thoroughly uncomfortable. “Regarding some of your scars and… we need to know if… if you got infected with a… disease.”

A disease. A sexually transmitted disease, no doubt. “I- I don’t- I told you, he n-never hurt me after the bank and back then, he… he used…” Whimpering, Peter trails off, trying to refrain from crying. Since he can’t bear looking at May anymore, he glances at the rest of his cereal floating pitifully in a puddle of milk, wishing he could block out her grave voice.

“We still need to make sure, Peter, or you can never- You can’t risk infecting anybody, and even if he never- I mean, you also mentioned t-two other guys. Besides, there are a lot of different ways to transmit these diseases.”

Peter’s stomach clenches. Neither Tony, nor Steve or Bucky ever used any condoms. Tony must have raped him at least 200 times while also screwing around with god knows who else. If any of the Avengers had a STD, Peter will most likely have it as well. What if… he has HIV? 

May’s right. Even though Peter never wants to have sex with anyone ever again, there’s still a risk of transmitting chlamydia, herpes and hepatitis to someone else, even by hugging- 

Oh god, he allowed May to hug him and-

“I didn’t mean to scare you, honey. I just want to make sure everything is okay. I’m sure you’ll be fine. We don’t have to go today or tomorrow, but… the sooner, the better, okay?” Peter curtly nods his head, grasping the backrest of the chair to keep himself steady. “Is there anything I can do, ba- Peter?”

“Y-You don’t… you don’t happen to have a, um… a c-cigarette, do you?” Peter whispers, knowing he would feel a bit better if he got some nicotine into his trembling, uptight body. Maybe this is why he’s been so on edge since yesterday…

“A cigarette? No, I don’t, why do you-” May breaks off as realization dawns. It takes her a few seconds to overcome her first shock. “Have you started smoking?”

“Not really, but… N-Nevermind, it’s fine, I know it’s not legal for me to- I mean, I will manage, I just thought... Um, is it okay if I get- I mean, I’ll get dressed.”

How much of a fucking mess can someone be? As Peter rushes out of the kitchen, he seriously wonders if he’s ever gonna be able to form a full, coherent sentence again without making a complete fool of himself. And the look on May’s face when he asked her for a cigarette… why the fuck did he even ask? It’s not like he’s addicted or something (maybe a little), Tony only let him have like two or three cigarettes a day. At least he wasn’t so stupid as to ask her for a joint (god, he’d kill to smoke some weed right now)...

Angry with himself, Peter struggles to get out of Tony’s shirt before throwing it into a corner of his room. Dressed in a pair of jeans and one of his own shirts, he then lies down on the bed and stares at the ceiling, not wanting to disturb May with whatever she’s doing in the living room. If she needs him, she'll surely call for him. 

A while later, a knock on the door startles Peter. “Y-Yes?” He’s not used to someone knocking anymore... 

May smiles softly when she opens the door. “It’s half past one already, so I was wondering if you’d like to eat lunch with me? I made us some sandwiches… You can eat them in here, though, if you want to be alone or… watch TV or something.”

Watch TV? Peter stupidly glances at the TV on the opposite site of the room. Oh. Yeah… Guess he could do whatever he wanted now... “No, it’s fine, I’ll join you.”

At first, they eat in silence, but then May slides something across the table - Peter’s old smartphone. “I realized I haven’t given you this yet… The police found it in an office at the bank. It was still working when I turned it on a few months ago, but if you want a new one, I’ll-”

“No, thank you, it's fine,” Peter interrupts, knowing they don't have money for these things. Besides, he’s gotten used to having no phone at all, so what would he need a new one for?

May then says that she disconnected his phone a few months ago, but will fix it tomorrow. “But maybe your social media apps still work with the WI-FI?”

“Yeah, they should...Um, that reminds me - I promised MJ to call her after landing, but I forgot.”

“It’s fine, she texted me and asked if she and Ned can visit after school. Do you feel up for it?”

No. “Y-Yeah, sure. Of course. Absolutely. Um, a-about school, by the way… Am I supposed to go back soon or- I mean, I missed a whole semester…”

“I spoke to the principal earlier today. He said there are some possibilities like distance learning mixed with home-schooling and stuff… He promised they’ll be very supportive. He even suggested letting you catch up by yourself since you've always had top grades in all of your classes. If you pass some tests at the end of the winter term, you might be allowed to enroll for the summer semester and graduate with your classmates. Or you can just take a break and get back whenever you want or… not at all, whatever works best for you.” 

When May’s finished her nervous ramble, she glances at Peter anxiously, almost as though she was fearing his answer.

“No, that’s… great, I’d love to catch up on what I missed,” Peter says, causing her to breathe a sigh of relief. “I still want to… graduate and go to college and stuff.” 

In truth, Peter doesn’t know what he wants anymore, but he knows having something to do will make him feel a lot better.

After they've finished eating, Peter walks back into his room to plug his phone in. He hesitates before turning it on, not knowing if he even wants to look at his social media accounts and messages. As soon as Peter has turned on the WI-FI, the phone starts vibrating angrily. For almost a minute, old notifications from his message app and Instagram pop up, almost freezing the screen.

When it’s finally over, Peter first opens Instagram. Gasping, he looks at his follower count. It's way over 500k. Why the fuck did so many people decide to follow the page of a declared-dead-kidnap-victim? His posts have gained an insane amount of likes and comments as well, especially his last one. The one Tony once showed to him… 

Tears run down his cheeks when he reads through the top comments of his couple pic with Michelle. Some of them are from his friends, other’s from people he doesn’t know. Some comments were apparently posted the days following the heist, but most reference his death, sending him their blessings and stuff. It’s as creepy and odd as it is sweet. 

And even though Peter doesn’t see any rude words in the top comments, he knows there are plenty of them; Tony even let him read some of them, after all.

On the spur of the moment, he thinks about deleting his profile, but then decides to make a short statement instead. After all, it can’t hurt to show those, who are nice to him and his loved ones, a little gratitude. 

“I want to thank every single one of you who has shown their support or who have made a donation to my aunt’s Foundation. Your donations have helped a lot of people so far, and will continue to do so. Please understand that I won’t be using this account anymore. I am just happy to be back home and I kindly ask everyone to respect the privacy of my aunt, my friends and me. I will always be extremely grateful for your support, though. Thank you!”

Before leaving the account for good, Peter decides to look at some of his schoolmate’s profiles. They all gained a lot of followers, especially MJ. Most of them have a link to the Peter Parker foundation in their profile and made posts for Peter, both after the heist and after his reported death. MJ and Ned also posted for his birthday, but whereas Ned wrote ‘Miss you everyday, mate’, Michelle only made a caption with three red hearts. Does this mean…?

As Peter scrolls down, he sees that Tony didn’t lie to him. Between Peter’s ‘death’ and his birthday, she posted ten pictures, six of them showing her with Brad, smiling or making goofy faces. It’s hard to tell if they’re in love, but they sure seem close. 

When he scrolls through his friend’s pics of their class trip to Europe, he feels a painful pang of envy. They’ve all been looking forward to the vacation since December… It was supposed to be the highlight of their high school years. Peter should have been there with them, but Tony took that away from him. Just like so many other things... 

Peter can’t bring himself to google his name and look for that disgusting DailyBugle article Tony once mentioned. He also doesn’t have the strength to read through the messages some people sent him between his disappearance and May cancelling his contract, apparently hoping he would one day return and read them.

Instead, Peter plugs his earphones in. As he listens to a few of his favorite songs he hasn’t heard for six months now, he lies back on the bed, crying silently.

--

Michelle could hardly concentrate in school. Not that it mattered - most students and teachers didn't stop talking about Peter’s safe return. Naturally, they all bombarded MJ and Ned with questions, listening to their responses open-mouthed. “Yes, we’ve spoken to him.” - “No, we don’t know what happened.” - “Yes, we’ll see him today.” - “No, we don’t know when he’ll return to school.”

Brad carefully asked MJ at lunch what Peter’s return would mean for ‘them’, to which she responded with, “I don’t know yet, but remember… I always said that I wasn’t ready to be exclusive or anything." He seemed a little devastated at that, but agreed to talk about it another day. “Tell him ‘hi’ from me, though, and… that I’m glad he’s okay.”

Now, Michelle and Ned are finally riding the elevator up to the floor Peter and May live. Michelle keeps on fumbling with her hair, hoping to look halfway decent, at least. 

“I don’t think he cares about your hair.” Ned rolls his eyes when they approach the grim looking guard May warned them about. They quickly tell him who they are, and after looking through their bags, he lets them through.

“Excuse me for wanting to look good for him,” MJ huffs, pressing the doorbell. Her heart is pounding so rapidly she can feel it in her throat. What if Peter doesn’t like her ‘that way’ anymore? What if he-

“Hey,” May smiles softly when she opens the door, quickly pulling them into a hug. “Come in, please. Are there still reporters outside?”

“Yeah, a bunch, actually. Where is he?” MJ anxiously glances through the room, face falling when she realizes that Peter wasn't gonna run straight into her arms. 

“In his room. I think he’s sleeping or… something. I was hoping we could talk for a sec.” When MJ notices how despondent May looks, her stomach clenches. What’s going on? 

Once they’re all seated on the sofa, May lowers her voice. “I just want you to know that Peter is… different. Please don’t take it personally if he doesn’t act overly cheerful or if he refuses physical contact."

"No worries, we don’t expect him to be all… happy-go-lucky right away," Ned quickly says, but May shakes her head. 

“Please listen, Ned… I had prepared myself for the worst when I got to the hospital, but it was still a shock seeing him like that. He hasn't smiled once since I got him, and he barely speaks. I mean, maybe it will be easier for him to talk to you than to me, but… but…”

Michelle’s eyes start to burn when May lets out a choked up sob. 

“I’m so sorry, May…” she says, gently touching the woman’s arm, “I’m sure it will get better once he’s all… settled in and stuff...”

“I hope you're right, but… he doesn't even want to see a therapist. And I feel like I'm failing him because I don't know what to say or do." Michelle and Ned exchange a worried glance when May blows her nose, clearly struggling to keep herself together. "I'm sorry, I didn't mean to burden you with this, just… Please don’t be upset if it takes him a while to warm up to you… I’m sure he’s doing the best he can. I'll go and get him now… Please ask him before you try to hug him or anything." 

MJ feels an odd tingle in her stomach when she watches May leave. She fixes her eyes on the short corridor leading to the bedrooms, heart pounding rapidly. After a few anxious seconds, May comes back, and trailing behind her-

At first, Michelle thinks Peter looks just like he always has, but the closer he comes, the more obvious it is that May didn't exaggerate. MJ didn’t think that Peter's appearance would be able to shock her so much considering she’d had to witness firsthand how Tony Stark hurt him in the worst way imaginable, but as it seems, she was wrong

Apart from the cast and a healed scar on his cheek, Peter seems to be physically unharmed, albeit worryingly thin. His baby face even makes him look young and innocent, still, but his eyes … They resemble those of an old man who's seen more than he can take, turning the once shy, but light-hearted teenage boy into an empty shell. 

Peter only glances at them for about a second before he averts his gaze, mumbling a barely audible "H-Hi."

Despite promising herself over and over again not to burst out crying when she sees him, the girl spills tears the second she opens her mouth. “Hi, Peter.”

“Hey, man,” Ned says, sounding pretty choked up too.

They keep standing at an awkward distance from each other until MJ clears her throat, trying to stop crying. “I- We really missed you.”

“Me too.” Peter mumbles, still speaking to the ground. 

Now she knows what May meant… Whereas Michelle expected Peter to be traumatized, she was hoping to see a faint smile, at least, or... some sort of sign he’s happy to see them. But he doesn’t seem to be able to. 

Devastated and heartbroken, a new flood of tears runs down Michelle’s cheek as she wonders - What in the world did they do to him?

Chapter Text

After a few awkward moments of silence, May clears her throat. Looking torn between hoping and fearing Peter would be more open if they’re amongst themselves, her lips curl into a motivating smile. “How about you three, um, catch up while I go to the grocery store? Ned, Michelle, do you want to stay for dinner? I’ll make Peter’s favorite pasta today.”

“Sure, um, thanks, May,” Ned says after exchanging a quick glance with Michelle.

Peter looks close to tears when his aunt grabs her purse. Gladly, she notices. “Is it… okay if I leave you alone with them for a few minutes or do you want me to stay?”

Peter opens his mouth, but closes it again. Looking rather helpless, he shifts from one leg to the other. “I… Y-Yeah, sure. I- I mean, you can go,” he eventually mumbles. “Just… be careful, please.”

“Of course, honey. You heard Sharon, they’ll make sure nothing is going to happen to me. I’ll be back in thirty minutes. Larb you.” After a moment of hesitation, she slowly reaches out and cups Peter’s cheek. Michelle notices that he jerks a bit, but he doesn’t shrink back. 

That’s good. Maybe he's already getting better...

A few moments later, they’re alone. 

“Um… D-Do you want anything to drink?” Peter quietly asks, glancing at them a bit awkwardly. Simultaneously, MJ and Ned shake their heads, so they all sit down on the sofa, Peter on the one end, his two friends on the other. 

Michelle is glad when Ned decides to take the initiative - she’s still too shocked to speak. “How, um, was your first night home?”

“Fine.” Peter slouches his shoulders, eyes fixed on the coffee table. “How is school? How was… Europe?”

MJ feels a pang of guilt as she listens to Ned talking about their trip. She knows that Peter has been on Instagram already due to the statement he posted, so he’s probably seen the posts with Brad as well... 

“So, yeah… Venice was great, but Paris was the real deal,” Ned concludes after a while. “So romantic… I, um… I got my first kiss there.”

A muscle in Peter’s face twitches. “That’s… great. So, a-are you and Betty dating now?”

“No. I mean, we were, but we broke up after the trip. Guess it was just a holiday fling. We’re still friends though. Yeah. That was the trip. Um. School’s just like always, kind of, but everyone’s stressing about graduation already, especially the teachers. Which sucks. I mean, it’s not even October yet, and we have to get ready for the Decathlon finales in two weeks.”

“You made it to the finales again?”

“Yeah… But lemme tell you, it wasn’t easy without you.” Then, Ned’s face lights up. “Hey, maybe you can come watch and support us!”

“I, um... I don’t think so,” Peter says quietly, fidgeting with the pillow he put on his lap.

Ned blushes. “Oh, yeah, that would probably… Well, do you know when you’ll come back to school? Everyone’s been asking us.”

“Dunno,” Peter mumbles, shrugging his shoulders. “They said I could catch up by myself or something and then… we’ll see, I guess.”

When they fall silent again, Ned looks at Michelle, seeking help. After gathering all her courage, the girl swallows down the lump in her throat. “S-So what- Um. H-How are you… doing? Did you really… shoot yourself like SHIELD’s latest press statement says?” 

Peter nods, telling them something about a tracker in his arm. “SHIELD thinks it was just a trick, but I know it wasn’t. Ned, you should have seen his A.I… it was unlike anything I’ve ever seen before. It knows sarcasm and tries to come up with jokes. It’s able to recognize and express emotions, as well as evaluate human behavior, which means it can predict whether an action will be dangerous or not."

Is that admiration in Peter's voice? If yes, then who the fuck is he talking about? Peter can't possibly mean-

"No way, that’s amazing. How does it work?”

As Peter’s starting to ramble about some weird tech stuff Michelle has never heard of before, it almost seems as if the old Peter is back, his eyes sparkling lightly. “... yeah, that’s it, basically. I mean, it’s fucking brilliant, right? And wait ‘til you hear what I learned about quantum physics… I think I’ve surpassed basic college level because Tony let me assist him with an energy source he invented. It almost works like a small atomic reactor because it's self-sustaining, but there's no danger of-”

“Wait,” Ned interrupts, looking as if he only now realized- “Are you talking about Tony Stark?!"

Peter uncomfortably shifts in his seat, but before he can respond, May unlocks the door, panting as she’s dragging two large bags into the apartment. "I tried to be back as fast as possible."

Peter jumps up like a scalded cat, hurrying over to her. "Let me help you, si-rry.” His friends watch him take one of the bags from May, almost dropping it right away due to his plastered arm. When Peter offers to help her with the cooking as well, she refuses.

“Thank you, sweetheart, but it’s fine. I’m sure you and your friends have a lot to tell each other. Also, we said I’d get to spoil you for a bit, so please, don’t worry, okay?”

Looking a bit uncertain, Peter goes back to sit with his friends. Neither MJ, nor Ned dare to address Tony Stark again, so Ned quickly starts chatting about some movies and shows he’s seen in the last six months.

“... Anyways, I downloaded most of them already, so if you want to, we can watch them again together. But first, you need to get caught up on Stranger Things. The newest season is so great.”

“Oh my god, yeah,” Peter says somewhat eagerly, looking as though he’s relieved they're talking about something trivial. “But it’s stupid that it ended with a fucking cliffhanger. I mean, ending episodes on cliffhangers, fine, but seasons? Fuck them.”

Even May turns around to gape at Peter, abandoning her cooking. It's probably less about Peter casually dropping the f-word twice - something he barely ever did before, though - and more about the fact that he seems to have watched Netflix during his captivity. Although it's a relief to know that Peter wasn't locked up in a dark hole without anything to do, it’s also a little creepy. Especially after all that fanboying over Tony Stark's tech earlier…

"So you… watched TV and stuff?" Ned eventually asks, causing Peter to blush. 

"W-When I was… I mean, um, sometimes. I- I need to… um, excuse m-me for a sec, please." With that, Peter rushes to the bathroom, locking himself in. As soon as the door has fallen shut, May quietly asks them if Peter told them anything. 

"Not really," Ned whispers, "But he mentioned that Stark let him work on some very advanced tech stuff with him.”

“But isn’t that… good?” Michelle asks when May looks a little bit too worried for her liking. “I mean, if they let him watch TV and work on tech stuff, then… that means Peter might have been treated better than we thought, right?” 

Whimpering quietly, May shakes her head. "He has horrible scars all over his body, including gunshot wounds from when Stark shot him. There's also a lot of hints he continued to… a-abuse him on the island."

Michelle shutters at the thought, once again overcome with dreadful memories of seeing Peter getting raped. Focus. "But- But why would Peter speak of him with deep admiration, then?" 

"For the same reason he slept wearing one of Stark's shirts that he wanted to take home with him so badly. Please don’t get me wrong... I hope with all my heart that Peter didn’t have to suffer all the time, and I would give my life if it meant that he was treated better than we’d feared, but… We know how badly S-Stark hurt him, so how could Peter not hate him with all his guts? SHIELD thinks that Peter has Stockholm Syndrome, and... I'm starting to think they’re right. I just- I don't know what to do. I really don't."

MJ feels goosebumps all over her body as a shiver runs down her spine. The idea that Peter could sympathize with Tony Stark or have feelings for him whatsoever is extremely disturbing and terrifying. Not that she should - or would - judge him, though... It's not their right to do that. They don’t know what it was like and what he went through, but… still. It wouldn’t be right…


Grabbing the edge of the sink, Peter takes a few deep, calm breaths before walking back into the living room. In order to avoid accidentally mentioning anything about his captivity or Tony again, Peter asks his friends about some of their classmates. He’s extremely touched when they give him regards from basically everyone he has ever - or never - spoken to, including old friends who've already graduated. Like Liz, whom Peter went on a few dates with back in Sophomore year.

“Brad and Flash also send their regards, and, um… They’ve been feeling pretty awful for always giving you such a hard time and stuff,” Michelle says, sounding a bit embarrassed. “They are truly sorry for everything and hope they can apologize to you in person, soon. They’ve really changed for the better...”

Peter wants to ask about Brad, but he can’t. He doesn’t want MJ to think he’s distraught about it. “So, um, Flash isn’t… m-mad at me about what happened? I mean…” Unable to finish the sentence, Peter nervously glances at May, wondering if she heard about it

“Not at all,” Ned says, lowering his gaze. “He knows you didn’t really have a choice. Please don’t worry about it, man. Everyone is just happy you’re alive. They all admire you for your strength and courage.”

Strength and courage? Yeah. Sure. Hating himself for steering the conversation into this direction, Peter desperately asks May when dinner will be ready. “Five minutes. I hope you’re hungry, because I think I overdid it with the spaghetti...”

In Peter’s eyes, this was the understatement of the year. When they’re finished, there’s so much pasta left that May and he will be able to eat it tomorrow as well. “It was very tasty, Aunt May. Thank you so much,” Peter says, forcing the corners of his mouth into a faint smile.

She beams at this, eyes glittering with tears of joy. “Oh, honey, that makes me very happy. Do you want a dessert? I have ice cream.” 

Ice cream? Peter hasn’t had ice cream since March, but even though he knows May wouldn’t ask anything nasty of him in exchange, he can’t help being a little wary about accepting too many good things without having to pay for it, one way or another. He better be a little careful…

“That sounds a-amazing, but I’m very full. Thank you so much, though.” 

Whereas Ned offers to help May with the dishes, Michelle quietly asks Peter for a word alone. “Can we talk for a few minutes? Just the two of us?”

Shivering, Peter nods, leading her to his room. His stomach churns when she closes the door, trapping him with her. “W-What is it?”

“I just…” She swallows thickly, tears slowly dripping from her eyes. “I just wanted to tell you… In case you saw my Instagram posts, me and Brad... We aren’t really… I mean, I like him and we’ve been going out, sort of, but not- not exclusively. It’s just... I thought you were dead. I- I’m so sorry, Peter.”

Painfully aware of the lump in his own throat, Peter quickly says, “There’s no need to apologize. I wanted you to move on and… I- I’d wish you all the best if you guys were… getting serious.” 

Somehow, Michelle looks even more devastated now than before. “Oh…"

A rather awkward silence follows until Peter, realizing that this sounded wrong, explains, "I mean, I don't want you to date him, but... I- I want you to be happy, Michelle. And if Brad can make you happy, then-”

"I don’t think he can." Looking a tad bit relieved, Michelle takes a careful step forward. "I… really wanted to like him that way, and I really, really tried, but… I never- I never stopped loving you, Peter. I missed you everyday.” 

She freezes when Peter instinctively steps back, bringing a safe distance between them again. Great, now what? “I… I did too, M-Michelle, but… I- I don’t think I can-... I mean, I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to… give you what you want or… deserve.”

“And what would that be?”

“I don’t know, but... you deserve someone who’s not… d-damaged.”

Michelle whimpers quietly. “Damaged? You’re not- Peter, you saved me from J-James Barnes. Without you, he would have-”

“He wouldn’t have. There’s nothing you need to be thankful for, I didn’t save you from anything.”

“What do you mean?” MJ asks, brows furrowed in confusion. “He... t-touched me, and… You know how many girls he-”

“Bucky wouldn’t have done more than what he did,” Peter emphasizes, dropping his gaze. “Tony- M-Mister Stark told me. He wouldn’t have killed you and he wouldn’t have done you-know-what either. I’m not some kind of superhero, Michelle.”

She vigorously shakes her head. “It doesn’t matter what would have happened, Peter. What matters is what you thought would happen. Besides, you still protected me even later on. I was there. I saw it."

“I wouldn’t do it again, though.” Tears stream down Peter’s eyes as he turns away from her, deeply ashamed. “If I had known what’s about to happen to me, I wouldn’t have i-interfered. If we could go back in time, I would just- just lie there like a coward, pretending that I didn’t notice him touching-”

He flinches terribly when Michelle’s arms wrap around him from behind. As if stung by a bee, she lets go and jumps back, muttering an apology. “God, I- I’m so sorry, Peter, I didn’t… P-Please, you must not feel bad about this. If we could go back in time, do you actually think I would want you to stop him again? I would let a-all of them touch me however the fuck they want if it meant sparing you from w-what they did to you. I don’t care what you say or think, but you are my hero, and… I will always love you for protecting me.”

Peter opens his mouth to contradict her statement, but he doesn’t know how he could make her understand. If Michelle really loves him still, she can only be in love with his old self. She has no idea what embarrassing, slutty things Peter did while staying with Tony… She doesn’t know him anymore. 

“Please, Michelle, trust me… You’re better off without me.”

Behind him, she lets out a broken sob. “I’ve been without you, Peter, for more than six months, and it killed me. Don’t you… still have feelings for me? At least, a tiny bit?”

Yes. Peter does have feelings for her, but it’s not that easy. In fact, it’s anything but easy. He isn’t even sure if he understands love anymore, thanks to his conflicting feelings… Besides, if Tony loves him, then how can Michelle love him as well? Their relationships with Peter and how they’ve treated him couldn’t be any more different. 

For a second, he considers lying so MJ would give up on him. But he doesn’t want to hurt her. “I… think I do, but… Just the thought of hugging you is freaking me out already, not to mention… k-kissing you or anything like that. Besides, you don’t even… you don’t even know me anymore. I’m not the same boy I was back then.”

“No, you aren’t, but I’m not the same girl either,” she says calmly. “Neither of us is the same. I’ve been going to therapy ever since we got out of there and I still have nightmares every other night. But deep down, Peter, you’re still the smart, kind, and extremely brave dork I fell in love with. I know you are. You just… have to find him again. And I want to help you with that, just like May, Ned, and all of your friends do. Please, Peter… let us help you.”

“How?” He turns around, bottom lip trembling. “How could you help me? I can’t even talk about it, Michelle. I can’t.”

“Then don’t. I mean, I think it would help, but you don’t need to do it if you’re not ready. Just… take your time and focus on other things right now. Things that make you happy.”

“That’s the thing, though,” Peter says, not caring about the tears streaming down his cheeks. “I don’t know what makes me happy. I barely even remember what used to make me happy. The first few weeks, I… I kept on daydreaming about being back home and doing all those stupid, meaningless things I used to care about, but… I don’t think I give a shit about anything anymore. If you asked me what I wanted to do tomorrow if I weren’t injured and if there weren’t any fucking reporters down on the street, I wouldn’t be able to tell you. I just… I have no idea.”

Looking heartbroken, Michelle dries her eyes with a tissue. “That’s completely reasonable, Peter. I mean, you just got home and need some time to readjust, that’s all. You just have to take it slow. And Ned and I… we can help you remember. Like, you always wanted me to finally watch all Star Wars movies with you, so why don’t we do that together on the weekend?”

Because watching movies together has become Tony and Peter’s thing.  

Not wanting to upset her even further, Peter quickly nods his head, though. “Um... y-yeah, why not… Sure. That’s a great idea. Thank you."

Michelle seems to notice that Peter’s not exactly excited, so she quickly reassures him. “Only if you want, though. No pressure, not at all. Um. We can also just… text for a bit, and if you want to see me or us, you can tell us, okay? And if you realize that you really just want to be friends with me, then… Well, I’ll be here for you, no matter what.”

Just like earlier with May, Peter forces his lips into a faint smile. “O-Okay... thank you. I really appreciate it.”

“You’re welcome.” For a second, it seems like Michelle wants to ask him something, but then she just smiles as well. “Um, so, just text me your new number when you have it, all right? I’ll… go now, I still have to study for that stupid AP Calculus test tomorrow.”

Peter follows her back into the living room. May and him see Michelle and Ned off at the door, and when both of his friends give his aunt a hug, Peter can’t help feeling like an outsider, once again overcome with an odd kind of jealousy. What he wouldn’t give to be normal and be able to hug them without having to worry about… about what, exactly? He knows they wouldn’t hurt or touch him inappropriately, but he still can’t imagine ever being able to do it again without being given a warning beforehand.

He’s still pondering about it when May asks him if he wants to watch a movie with her. Reprimanding himself to forget Tony his unreasonable concerns, Peter nods, even allowing her to wrap him in a fluffy blanket and bring him a mug of hot chocolate.

“Last offer to put a scoop of ice cream in there.” Winking, May points at the mug.

“It’s… fine, thank you so much, May.”

“Your loss.” Shrugging her shoulders, she sits down at a safe distance and flashes Peter a smile. “Is there anything you want to watch or should we just see what’s on Netflix?”

“Whatever you want, sir.”

Not. Again. “M-May, I’m really sorry, I don’t mean to call you that, I don’t know why I- Please, I don’t think you are- I mean, I know you aren’t, but... it’s just a ref-”

“Ssh, I told you not to worry about it, honey. Please. If you want, we can simply ignore it whenever… whenever it happens, okay?” 

Crestfallen, Peter nods, staring at his mug of cocoa as though he seriously considered drowning himself in it. He’s such a fucking mess… 

Since Peter’s just staring ahead blankly, May chooses the movie - a romantic comedy, probably hoping that it will brighten Peter’s mood. Unfortunately, it doesn’t, but he puts up a brave front regardless and forces his lips into a smile whenever May laughs at a stupid joke. One time, he even tries to laugh with her, but the noise coming from his throat sounds so pathetic he doesn’t try it again. 

As the movie goes on, Peter involuntarily starts comparing May to Tony. In contrast to May, who mostly stays silent apart from laughing, Tony used to throw in snide remarks every other minute when they were watching shows or movies. Once Peter had gotten used to it, he even started to enjoy them, especially when the movie or series they were watching was god-awful.

For some fucked up reason, it's oddly quiet and boring without them. 

Therefore, Peter doesn’t pay that much attention to the movie anymore. Instead, he keeps glancing at his aunt, feeling a comforting warmth spreading through his chest whenever she giggles. Just when he’s come to the conclusion that seeing her adorable laugh was worth enduring and escaping his captivity after all, the two people on the screen start kissing.

In the speed of light, Peter’s thoughts are back with Tony, having a flashback to the last time they kissed. It was only three days ago... the night before Peter escaped. First, they had watched the season five finale of Game of Thrones (which ended on the most annoying cliffhanger of all times), and then, Tony did what he always did…. every day... once or twice...

Peter, unaware that the next day would bring his long-awaited rain, was eager to please, trying to be Tony’s good - perfect - boy. As a reward, Tony wrecked him completely, fucking him until Peter shed tears of pleasure.

As Peter snuggles closer into his blanket, he’s overcome by a mortifying thought - only Tony knows what buttons he needs to push to turn him into a whiny, needy little slut. Not that Peter wants to be a whiny, needy little slut, but his point is - only Tony knows what Peter likes and doesn’t like, and how to make him feel good when it comes to sex.

And even though Peter desperately wants to feel nothing but relief and happiness about the prospect of never getting fucked like that ever again, he can’t help feeling a little worried as well. 

What if he actually starts missing these things, just like Tony threatened, knowing no one else could give them to him? And… What if he starts missing Tony one day?

What if he’s missing him already?  

Chapter Text

May can’t help frowning when she wakes Peter up, seeing he’s once again slept wearing Stark’s shirt. She really wishes he wouldn’t refuse therapy, especially after the tid-bits Michelle told her about the conversation she’d had with Peter yesterday. 

“I’m so sorry I have to wake you up, but it’s 10 am already,” May softly says when Peter groans, squinting against the light. “Fury needs us to come to the SHIELD headquarters for the composite sketches and stuff.” 

In truth, Maria also said Peter would need to give further testimony as well, but May doesn’t want to unsettle him too much. Judging by Peter’s reaction, it was a good decision - he visibly deflates at her announcement, stuttering out a hoarse “O-Okay.”

Sharon arrives just when they’ve finished breakfast. Although it’s the last thing May wants to do, she asks Peter if she can leave him with the agent until she’s back from the mobile store a few blocks down the street. “Or do you want to come with me? It’s about your new phone contract.”

Looking mortified, Peter vigorously shakes his head, his bottom lip quivering. “No, please, I want to stay home.” 

May huffs when she sees that there are still a few reporters lurking around in front of their building, running forward as soon as she steps out of the building. Ignoring them, she walks into the direction of the store, accompanied by one of the agents.

When she gets back half an hour later, she finds Peter hunched up on the sofa, looking like a picture of misery. After handing him his new SIM card, May takes Sharon aside, asking her if Peter tried to initiate a conversation with her. 

“No. He just sat there, staring off into space. I asked him a few questions about his day yesterday, but he gave me one-word answers, basically. I’m afraid taking him to see a therapist will be inevitable.”

You don’t say. “I know, but I don’t see the sense in forcing him to go if he doesn’t want to,” May mumbles, letting out an irritated sigh. “Especially not so soon. He’s only been back for two nights... Maybe he’ll change his mind when he realizes that he’s not gonna get better without professional help.”

“Let’s hope so. Just… keep a close eye on him.”

“Of course, I will. I even… thought about quitting my job.” Sighing, May glances at Peter, who’s fiddling with the SIM card. “I mean... we really need the money but I want to be here for him. I don’t want to leave him by himself for the whole day… At least not until he isn’t back in school, and god knows when - or if - that will happen.”

A few minutes later, May persuades Peter to get dressed. It takes him a while to reappear, his eyes puffy and red-rimmed. “You sure you can do this, sweetie?” May asks when Peter almost trips on his way to the elevator.

Even though Peter’s face screams NO, he nods bravely. “Sure, it’s just… my leg.”

It’s only now that May notices he’s limping slightly. “Did you get injured during the escape?”

“Um… no, it’s been like that ever since I got shot. Um. All those months ago, I mean.”

May feels as if she got struck by lightning. “Wait, what? You didn’t tell me you were having problems with your leg!”

Peter shrugs his shoulders, eyes fixed on the floor. “It’s not constant. I mean, Br...octor Strange said it’s permanent, but it’s not always giving me problems. It’s because my brachial and lubalis plexus got damaged or something. M-My left hand is affected as well. Sometimes, my fingers twitch or go numb, just like the leg does.”

‘Broctor’ Strange? “Peter, we… we need to get this checked,” May stammers, eyes widening in horror. Her heart shatters once more. Will this ever stop? “By proper doctors with proper equipment.”

Peter is spared having to give a response when the elevator comes to a stop and the doors glide open, revealing two neighbors living somewhere in the building. With a terrified whimper, Peter ducks behind one of the agents accompanying them, trying to hide from the neighbors prying eyes. 

Before May can yell at them for staring, one of their bodyguards has already asked them to step aside in a friendly, but stern tone. The neighbor’s gaze follows them all the way to the door, where the true horror awaits them.

"Just try to ignore them, Peter," May says, trying to encourage her nephew as he's staring at the tiny glass windows of the door with wide eyes. "Ready?" 

Taking a deep breath, Peter nods. A few moments later, they’re outside of the building, rushing to get to the SHIELD SUV parked in the no standing area right in front of the building. The reporters immediately throw questions at him, but Peter keeps walking, not looking at them even once.

It takes them forty minutes to get to SHIELD's headquarters in Lower Manhattan. Fortunately, no reporters are waiting for them here; there's only a bunch of tourists and business people running around in front of the entrance. In the lobby, everyone's staring at them, though, so Sharon quickly leads them up to an elevator bringing them up to the 25th floor.

Fury’s waiting for them already. "Thank you for coming. Follow me, please.”

He leads them down a carpeted corridor, past numerous doors. Some agents and secretaries are bustling around, but most of them flash Peter and May a friendly smile. Eventually, Fury leads them into an office, introducing a kind looking man with thinning hair.

“This is Agent Phil Coulson. He'll show you a bunch of mug shots and photos that we hope might include Harlem. After that, I need you to answer some more of my questions, and then we need the composite sketches of that Steve guy and Sokovia, at least"

With that, Fury slams the door shut, leaving Peter and May alone with Sharon and Coulson. Thankfully, Coulson seems to be more sensitive than Fury. "All right, Peter. I’m afraid there’s a lot of pictures, but we’ll take it slow, okay?” he says softly, smiling encouragingly. “If you need a break, tell me.”

When Peter nods, Coulson turns his laptop around. He skids a little closer to Peter, but is considerate enough to keep his distance. Then, he starts clicking through the pictures, all showing dark-skinned men aged between 30 and 45. After only a few minutes, the images already start to blur in front of May’s eyes, but Peter hangs in there, looking at photo after photo, some of them mugshots, some of them other official photos previously used for licences or passports. 

Sometimes, Peter hesitates, but in the end, he always ends up shaking his head. Until Coulson shows him the photo of a young, good-looking guy thirty-something minutes later. 

“This… I think this could be him, sir, but… he looks a lot younger…”

“The photo is from 2004,” Coulson explains, “meaning he’s around twenty-two in that photo. It was used for a passport issued for Samuel Thomas Wilson, born 1982 in Harlem. Are you sure that’s him or is it a guess?”

“I’m… sure it’s him, sir. He… has a faint beard now, and shorter hair.”

“Fantastic… Great job, Peter. We’ll run the photo through a software to get a more accurate picture of what he might look like today. Just like we did with Tony Stark’s old mugshot. That’s it, for now. I’ll go and get Nick.”

As soon as Coulson has left the room, May puts her hand on Peter’s arm, flashing him a beaming smile. “I’m so proud of you, Peter.”

He smiles weakly, but stays silent. After a few minutes, Fury comes back, accompanied by a short, grey-haired man they haven’t met before. Just like Coulson, he looks a lot friendlier than Fury. “Mr. Parker, this is Agent Everett Ross, CIA.”

“What’s the CIA got to do with this?” May asks, feeling nervous.

“The CIA has been involved ever since we saw the photo of Stark in Nassau,” Fury explains. “SHIELD and, as such, the FBI has always been and will continue to lead the investigations, though. Before we begin, I want you to understand that this is going to be a formal interview, Mr. Parker. Meaning you have to tell me the whole truth, and nothing but the truth. If you honestly can't answer a question, say so, but don't make anything up. Do you understand?"

"Um… y-yes, sir."

"Good. Your testimony will be recorded on video. Are you okay with your guardian May Parker being present?" Hesitating, Peter nods. 

"All right,” Fury says, leaning a bit forward. “We found your DNA in one of the other houses. Do you have an explanation for that, considering you told us you’ve only ever been in Stark’s house?”

When Peter's face falls, May's does as well. Did Peter lie?  

“I… M-Maybe it was from when I was shot, sir. I- I don't remember a lot about the days that followed, but once, I woke up once not knowing where I was. Um. Maybe Doctor Strange took care of me in his house?“

“The house must have belonged to a man and woman because of the clothes, sanitary products and DNA scattered all over the place. Did Strange live with a woman?"

"I don't know. M-Maybe. As I said, I wasn't in there, at least… not that I can remember."

"You said there were ten Avengers on the island,” Fury says with a stern look. “According to the DNA traces, fingerprints and items we gathered, we now know there were at least thirteen permanent residents on the island. Fourteen with you. Therefore, I'm gonna ask you again - is there anyone else you remember?"

Peter takes his time to answer, causing May and Sharon to exchange a nervous glance. "N-No, sir. Maybe some of them stayed on the island after all or… c-came back. I know some visited a few weeks ago, but, um-"

"What about Loki Odinson?" Fury slides Odinson’s mugshot across the table. “Look at him again. Closely.”

When Peter picks it up, his hand trembles so violently he can barely hold it. "I- I don't… I don't think so."

"You know what's weird? The thing you had with you, that Stark built… It’s made up of Palladium. Guess what Odinson and Rhodes bought almost every time they were spotted." 

Swallowing thickly, May glances at Peter. Is there any chance he might be lying? 

"P-Palladium?" Peter stutters.

"That's right. They bought it on a few occasions in Miami and Nassau. Are you sure you never saw  him?"

Fidgeting, Peter looks at the photo again, before repeating, "I… I don't think so, s-sir."

“Mr. Parker, I don't care about what you think,” Fury snarls irritatedly, “I care about what you know." 

When Peter whimpers, May loses her temper. "If you don't stop talking to my nephew like that, we will walk out of that room and never come back," she says through clenched teeth, fuming even more when Fury snorts. "Your nephew is obligated to testify truthfully, Mrs. Parker." 

"Not if giving testimony is too much of a burden for him," Sharon comes to their aid, giving Fury a hard look. "Peter and May know how important this is, Nick, but I'm asking you to please be more considerate.” Her voice then becomes softer. “Peter, I don't want you to get confused - just tell us if you can remember ever seeing a man on the island, submarine, or yacht who resembled Loki Odinson."

"N-No, I don't remember… As I said before, though, I never saw all of them, so… I guess just because I don't remember seeing him doesn't mean he couldn't have been there, r-right?" 

"Oh, he was there." Fury’s lips curl into a sardonic smile. "We found his DNA and fingerprints all over the island, most and foremost in the first house from the left. In the same house, we also found the DNA of a woman, and the DNA of someone who should be related to Odinson. Any idea who any of them could be?"

May’s heart skips a beat, yet she urges herself to stay calm. It doesn’t mean Peter lied. Just like he said, he never saw all of them. He didn’t lie.

Peter, however, shifts in his seat. "M-Maybe… maybe he has a sibling or cousin… And a girlfriend? Val or Wanda? Or… Russia?" 

Fury flashes Peter a calculating look before he asks Sharon to follow him outside for a second. Agent Ross stays with them, smiling encouragingly. "You’re doing great, Mr. Parker."

Whereas May nods appreciatively, Peter mumbles a barely audible "Thank you, sir" before taking a sip from the water glass sitting on the table. A few minutes go by until Fury and Sharon come back. 

"Unfortunately, it’s inevitable to ask you some more personal questions now," Fury says gravely. May takes a deep breath to brace herself - she has a feeling what this will be about. "Mr. Parker, please keep in mind that you have to tell us the truth. If any of these questions are too much of a burden to you, please let us know. Is that okay for you?" 

Trembling worse than ever, Peter nods. 

"Good. Let’s get started, then. Stark had a lot of… adult things in his bedroom we found your DNA traces on. We also found sperm stains on the bed sheets, the couch, and some other places. From Stark and from you. So, I’m gonna ask you again: did Stark ever sexually abuse you on the island?”

So that disgusting asshole did use those horrible toys and restraints on her poor baby… May’s going to fucking kill him. 

It takes Peter a while before he answers. Swallowing hard, he closes his eyes. “Y-Yes, sir.” 

Although May already knew he had been lying about it, his confession makes it official. Her heart is shattering for the second time that day, and she desperately tries to hold back tears. 

“Can you estimate how often he abused you?” Fury asks, voice a little softer now.

Crying, Peter buries his face in his hand. “E-Every… E-Every day, sir.”

Every… day? May is so shocked she forgets how to breathe. With her mouth hanging open, she glances at Sharon, who looks distraught as well. It seems like Peter’s confession hasn’t failed to leave their marks on Fury and Ross either, because even they shift in their seats awkwardly. 

Every single day. For six months.

Feeling somewhat dizzy, May grabs the edge of the table, hoping to stay conscious. The urge to run out of the room is strong, but she would never abandon Peter and compel him to do this on his own. If her teenaged, traumatized nephew can survive and talk about his ordeal, the least she can do is pull herself together and listen to it.


Although Peter is aware that everyone’s staring at him, he keeps his eyes closed, refusing to look at anyone. Not even May - especially not May. He wouldn’t be able to bear seeing the pain and disappointment in her face. 

When Fury eventually speaks again, Peter’s surprised to hear that he doesn’t sound accusatory for once. Instead, his voice is calm, almost quiet. "Please don't get me wrong, Mr. Parker, but why did you lie when your aunt and I asked you about it? Did you want to protect Stark?"

"N-No, sir," Peter sobs, tears dripping between his fingers. "I w-wanted to protect myself. You already knew what happened at the bank anyways, s-so I just… I mean, w-what does it matter? What’s the purpose of asking me about it other than h-humiliating me?"

"It’s not our intention to humiliate you," Sharon says, taking over. Her voice is trembling a bit. "We need to know what he did, so we can understand what kind of person he is.”

Peter lets out a distressed sob. “You know what kind of person he is. I know you saw that f-fucking video, j-just like everyone else in the country.”

“About that… I won’t lie to you, Mr. Parker,” Fury says with a sigh. “I saw the full thing, as did a few other agents working on the case. The video did appear on some websites, but it was taken down from most of them in the first hour. The parts that were shown on TV were only the first few ten to fifteen seconds. I know it might not make such a big difference to you, but the vast majority barely saw anything significant.”

Does this mean May, his friends and schoolmates might not even have seen the worst parts? Before Peter can even try to feel a tiny bit relieved about it, though, he’s overcome by a flashback of one of the last things Tony ever said to him. ‘Everyone knows what happened to you. They all know you won’t be able to get it up unless you have my dick up your ass’. 

Tony’s right... Even if they didn’t see it, they surely read about it and probably saw comments from people making fun of him. They all know...

When Peter stays quiet, Sharon takes over again. “Also, there is a difference if he’s done it once, or multiple times, Peter. Every single time he hurt you, was wrong."

"And… And I need to know as well, so I can get you the help you need, honey,” May interjects, sounding as broken as Peter feels. “You don't need to be ashamed. It wasn't your fault. There's nothing you could have done to prevent him from hurting you.”

They have no idea… Peter’s stomach clenches as he remembers all these occasions when he moaned unbridedly under Tony like a fucking whore, overcome with blissful pleasure, begging Tony to let him cum… “I could have. Most of the time, I didn’t even try to f-fight him anymore.”

“But that’s good, Peter.” Sharon says in a soothing voice. “I am sure you wouldn’t be sitting here today if you fought him every single time. What he did was still wrong. You were his captive. You didn’t want it. And you were under Bahamas’s age of consent. Every time Stark touched you, it was rape, no matter if he physically hurt you or not.”

As much as Peter wants to believe her, he can’t. Sometimes, he did want it… to a certain extent, at least. If Peter had been eighteen, it probably wouldn’t have always qualified as rape. And yet, he’s too exhausted to argue with them about it. Let them believe what they want to believe.

“Did anyone else ever rape or sexually abuse you?” Fury asks after a few quiet minutes. 

Shameful memories wash over Peter. "Only S-Steve and Bucky. But I a-already told you that…” Which isn’t a lie, technically...

"Who is Bucky?”

Oh. “J-James Barnes. Sorry, sir, it’s what To- Mister Stark called him.” 

“All right.” When there’s a longer pause, Peter carefully opens his eyes. Fury flips through his file before he asks, “Did Stark ever hurt you apart from the sexual abuse?" 

Only tell them what they really need to know. “He… sometimes h-hit me, sir.”

“How often?”

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “When I didn’t do what he wanted or when I talked back to him and stuff.” 

“How did you get your scars?” Fury holds up a photo showing Peter’s naked, upper chest. Feeling grossed out, Peter quickly averts his gaze.

“In the bank, he… cut me a few times. The small burn marks are from cigarettes he p-put out on my skin. The scar on my cheek is from the day you released his name and mugshot. He also… he once hit me across my back with his b-belt because I, um -” Better blame it on Clint than on Loki… “- I had asked Clint Barton to help me escape, but he... told Mister Stark, who then p-punished me for it.”

When May sobs loudly, Peter finally glances at her. Even though she’s crying into a tissue, she’s still unable to prevent a flood of tears streaming down her cheeks before they drop onto the table. Seeing her like this makes him feel as though someone ripped his heart out of his chest.

“What about the cuts on your thighs?” Fury asks cautiously. “It looks like he counted something.”

Oh god…  Terrified, Peter closes his eyes once more, unable to bear seeing their judgmental looks. His face grows hot as he forces himself to answer truthfully. “H-He… He counted… orgasms.”

He spoke so quietly that the word 'orgasm' was barely audible. Feeling more ashamed than ever, Peter wants to evaporate into thin air and simply stop existing. At least Tony mostly stopped making these cuts after the first two weeks or so, or there would be even more shameful evidence of Peter being too weak and pathetic to resist the stimulation. 

Fortunately, Fury doesn’t inquire about it. "I see. Did any of the others ever hit you or used any sort of weapons against you?" 

"N-No, sir." 

"So it was Stark who carved those letters into your stomach?" 

Shuddering, Peter nods curtly.

"The hostages said he was seconds away from killing you, but then he didn’t. Do you know what made him change his mind?”

‘You were the most fuckable, innocent-looking thing I had ever seen, with a face and body literally begging to be broken and torn apart.’

“... I guess- I guess because he… had other plans with me,” Peter whispers. 

“Any other punishments or bad things Stark - or anyone else - did to you that we should know about?” Fury wants to know.

Dreadful memories flash before Peter’s closed eyes. The cockwarming. The humiliation. The orgasm training. The shock collar. The sun torture. The degrading, terrifying confinement in the engine room. The alcohol and drugs. The… spanking. The sunset kiss. The snorkeling. The birthday cake. The puzzles. The cuddles and kisses. Tony calling him baby. The dance. The way Tony cared for him when he pretended to be sick. The code. Tony’s love confession…

In a desperate need to stop the painful images, Peter carefully opens his eyes again, hoping it will make it better. “No, sir. That’s… that’s about it.”

“All right,” Fury states matter-of-factly. “In the weeks to come, we’re gonna need a detailed testimony from you about every single thing you can remember about any of those bastards. Also, we will need to give the press an overview about your testimony. The public has an immense interest in the case and we need everyone to know how dangerous Stark is. The more they know, the more likely it is they will keep their eyes open. And if we’re lucky, someone rats him out soon enough. Now, the next steps will be-”

All of a sudden, Fury’s voice sounds oddly muffled and quiet, almost as if someone put cotton in Peter’s ears. 

They’re going to tell everyone…

Breaking into a cold sweat, Peter tries to lift his hand to clean his ears, but his arm feels surprisingly heavy. Overcome by a sudden, severe dizziness, Peter interrupts Fury, his tongue oddly thick as he slurs, “S-Sir, c-can I lie downf-for… for a... I- I don’t feel so good.” 

From afar, he can hear May’s voice addressing him. Peter starts to panic when without warning, the weird deafness gets replaced by a loud ringing. “I… I n-nee--” 

In a desperate need of fresh air, he makes a move to stand up, ignoring the black dots that have started to dance in front of his eyes. He has barely stood up when his shaking legs buckle. The last thing Peter can vaguely make out is the shocked expression on May’s face before he collapses. 

Chapter Text

New York. During his first formal testimony yesterday, Peter Parker provided grim details about the horrible ordeal he suffered at the hands of Tony Stark and the so-called Avengers. 

"He told us that Stark repeatedly abused him, sexually, during his captivity, amongst other terrible things," confirms Colonel Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD. "We also know that James Barnes and the Steve guy aka ‘Brooklyn’ abused Parker on at least one occasion. Stark and his men are ruthless and dangerous. They scarred a teenage boy for life, just because he was at the wrong place at the wrong time. We need everyone to keep their eyes open and inform us about any potential clues. We’re raising the reward to 500,000 dollars for any useful hint that leads to the arrest of one of the Avengers.

According to an insider, the testimony had to be interrupted when Parker suffered a breakdown during questioning. He was brought to a hospital in New York.

Bristling with rage, Tony lowers his phone, tempted to throw it across the room and watch it shatter into a million pieces. 

Peter is in the hospital. Fury, that fucking piece of shit, didn’t stop pumping the poor kid for answers until he suffered a fucking breakdown. 

Tony’s going to kill that son of a bitch, now more than ever.

First, however, they have bigger problems to deal with. Yesterday evening, an age enhanced passport photo of Sam was released, and SHIELD has announced a few more composite sketches to be published during the next couple of days. The walls are closing in on them, but the most pressing problem for Tony is the infection of his burn wounds. If he doesn’t want to get his cock and balls amputated, he’ll need proper help, as quickly as possible. 

Gritting his teeth, he shuffles into the kitchen, asking Rhodey to look for Steve, Bucky and Stephen. Since Loki, Bruce and Nat still deny having anything to do with Peter’s escape, these four are the only ones Tony still fully-heartedly trusts. 

“We need to get to Wakanda,” he quietly tells them when they’re all gathered in his room. “I’m sure you’ve all seen the latest articles… It’s only a matter of time until Peter tells them about Wakanda, so we need to get there as fast as possible. I might have a plan but I don’t want any of the others to know.”

“You don’t… want to leave them behind, do you?” Rhodey asks warily. 

For a few seconds, Tony seriously considers doing just that, but he knows they can’t. No matter what, they’re in this together… and although he hates to admit it, Tony knows he fucked up more than any of the others. It’s mostly his fault they are in this situation.

“No. But I don’t want them to know the plan.”

He takes out his phone again, selecting T’Challa’s number. When the king picks up, he doesn’t sound very pleased. “I told you not to call me again until-”

“There’s no time, T’Challa. SHIELD won’t give up until the kid tells them everything. It’s too dangerous for us to stay here… we can’t even risk buying food. You need to get us, we had an agreement.”

“We also had an agreement that you’ll make sure your bitch won’t get away,” T’Challa hisses. “Give me one reason why I should risk everything just to get you over here?”

Despite being furious about T’Challa insulting Peter without his permission, Tony urges himself to stay calm. “Because Peter will tell them about you, whether we are in Wakanda or not."

"And you don’t think it will make it even worse when they think I might be hiding you?" 

"Since it’s impossible to prove something or someone isn’t there, you will never be able to prove you aren't hiding us. Unless we get caught, which we both know you don’t want. I mean… think about all the things I know…” When T’Challa growls warningly, Tony winks at his friends. “And last but not least, I know how fucking thirsty you are for my arc reactors. If you stick to our agreement, I will build you all the arc reactors you want. Promise.”

Tony waits with bated breath. T’Challa stays silent for almost a minute, no doubt considering the tempting offer. “Fine,” he eventually snarls. “I’ll come and get you, but you need to find an airport I can land on and figure out your own plan on how to get into my jet."

Sighing with relief, Tony gives his friends a ‘thumbs up’. "Deal. Give me a few hours to figure something out. Get ready to pick us up in two days. I’ll text you the details later." 

Stephen, Rhodey, Bucky and Steve are staring at him with wide eyes. “How the fuck do you expect to find an airport where they’ll just… let us through?” Steve asks flabbergasted. 

Smiling, Tony opens his contacts. “I don’t expect to find one. I expect Happy to find one.”


“may gave me your number. r u ok? -mj”

“yeah. they just wanted to keep me overnight for observation. i’ll get to go home in a few.”

Peter’s barely finished typing when May comes back into his room, clutching a cup of coffee. “The nurse says the doctor will be here soon. Are you done with your breakfast?”

She points at Peter’s half-eaten pancakes and the toast he didn’t touch. Blushing lightly, he nods. “Yeah, I… wasn’t that hungry.”

In truth, he feels too sick to eat much. Against better judgment, Peter looked up his name earlier, finding more than one article reporting about his abuse and breakdown. And what’s even worse is that May had another sleepless night because of him, judging by the dark bags under her eyes. 

Sighing, May grabs the toast, asking if she can have it instead. As she’s chewing, Peter notices that her fingers are shaking a little. Is it because of the tests? After his confession, May and Sharon convinced him to consent to a variety of STD tests, most importantly, an antigen/antibody test to find out if he’s infected with HIV. 

In an effort to try and distract himself, Peter quickly grabs his phone again, clicking through various websites without even realizing what he’s looking at. When the doctor comes in a few minutes later, wearing a poker face, Peter once more feels like he’s about to faint. 

May drops the toast. “D-Did you get the results?”

“Yes. Everything’s fine, Mrs. Parker. Your nephew is of best health... considering the circumstances, at least.” When May and Peter sigh in relief, he reminds them that these tests can only detect HIV infections 18 to 45 days after exposure. Peter isn’t too worried about that; he’s quite sure Tony didn’t fuck anyone apart from him and - maybe - Steve in that time frame.

The doctor then speaks about Peter’s low weight and his past injuries, mentioning surgical procedures regarding his damaged nervous system and scars. “I’ll leave you some factsheets where you can find more information about costs and risks. If you need any further consultations, my colleagues and I are happy to help you out. For now, you’re free to go, but I want you back in two weeks for a check-up on your arm. And try to gain some weight, please.”

There are even more reporters waiting outside their apartment than yesterday. Knowing he’ll need to get used to it (at least until the public interest in the case has died down or until SHIELD has found them a new apartment), Peter tries not to make such a fuss about it again. Playing deaf, he keeps his head down and walks past the reporters at a brisk pace. 

Only once May and Peter are safely inside their apartment, does he dare to breathe a sigh of relief. Now all he wants to do is sleep, despite it only being 11:17 am in the morning. But May asks him to sit down on the couch with her. Carefully, she grabs his right hand, caressing it. 

“Peter… I want you to know that if there’s anything you want to talk about, I’m here for you, okay? I won’t blame or judge you, baby. I promise.”

‘Fuck, that was good, baby.’ 

“... Peter?” 

Perplexed, Peter blinks a few times, surprised, yet relieved, to see his frowning aunt sitting there instead of Tony. “O-Oh, um. Y-Yeah, I mean, no, it’s fine.” She promised not to call him baby anymore…

“Okay. And… about talking to somebody else… Don’t you think you should-”

“No, May, please… you saw what happened yesterday. I can’t talk about it.”

She smiles sadly. “What happened is exactly why I think it’s so important. You need professional help, Peter. Please… I don’t want a repeat of yesterday ever again.”

“Then d-don’t force me to talk about it,” he mumbles irritatedly, pulling his hand out of her grip. “Can I go to bed now? I’m tired. Please, sir.”

It’s out before he can stop himself. Why does he have to call her ‘sir’ now, of all times? It only proves her point, for Christ’s sake. Not wanting to give her an opportunity to respond, Peter jumps up from the couch, fleeing into his room as he’s choking out a lame ‘Sorry’. 

Not giving any shit anymore, Peter changes into Tony’s shirt, knowing he won’t be able to fall asleep without it anyways. Then, he pulls the blinds close and lies down, crying himself to sleep.

If it wasn’t for the ringing of their old landline, Peter would have slept for a week, probably. Groaning, he turns around, intending to fall back asleep, but then, he hears May yelling angrily. “-did you even get this number? I told you to stop harassing us!”

Who is she talking to? Frowning, Peter drags his tired ass to the door, slowly walking out into the corridor. Judging by the light coming in from the windows, it must be afternoon. May has his back to him. “He’s not going to do an interview, no matter how much you offer to pay. Don’t call again!”

With an angry huff, she smashes the receiver back onto the handle, flinching when Peter speaks. “Was that a reporter?”

“Was I too loud? I’m sorry for waking you up,” May apologizes, turning around with a sorrowful expression. “It was TheDailyBugle again. I don’t know how they did it, but first, they found out my cell phone number, and then, this one.”

“How much did they offer?”

May doesn’t look at him when she answers. “Twenty-thousand.”

“D-Dollars?” Peter gasps dumbfounded.

“Yes. But before you ask, no, I don’t want you to give them an interview. Not for all the money in the world. This is not going to help you.” Slowly, May steps forward, tears glistening in her eyes. “And… I know that urging you to go to therapy won’t either. I am sorry for earlier, I didn’t mean to make you upset. I just feel so helpless, Peter. Hearing what you had to go through... I- I can’t even imagine how hard everything must be for you.”

Peter urges himself to take the initiative and embrace her, hoping it will show her that he’s able to get better on his own. She looks surprised when he hesitantly wraps his unplastered arm around her, but immediately returns the hug. 

“You don’t need to be sorry, May. I know you mean well, but I… I can’t.

Crying, she rests her head against his shoulder. “I hate him so much for hurting you.”

Him. Tony. “M-Me too.”

After letting out a choked-up sound, she leans back to look him in the eyes. “Then why do you keep wearing his clothes?”

There’s no use lying any longer. She knows they are Tony’s. She probably knew it all along... It really must seem weird to her, all the more after Peter’s confession yesterday. 

“Because... they give me security," he admits, deciding to go for a half truth. "I… wasn’t allowed to wear any clothes for the first few days, and when he finally let me have some, they helped me feel less vulnerable.”

“Oh, honey…" May's bottom lip trembles as she looks at him heartbrokenly. "I understand, but… you’re back home now. You can wear your own clothes... You don’t need to wear his. They will only remind you of him and… of all these bad memories.”

“I know,” Peter mumbles, averting his gaze. 

“I think I have an idea,” May says, trying to sound encouraging. “How about I help you get rid of them? We can pack them into a bag and throw them away, hm? I’m sure it will help you get better.”

Everything May says makes complete sense. But Peter still can’t. Throwing the clothes away would feel like he’s throwing away a part of Tony. And for some fucked up reason, he’s not ready for that. “I… I don’t think I want that.”

“Why not?”

Peter wishes he could tell her the truth about his conflicting feelings, but he doesn’t feel brave enough. “I don’t know… But I don’t want to. Please don’t make me throw them away… n-not yet.”

May sighs, long and deep. “Okay. Whatever helps you, baby.”

‘This is supposed to be a punishment, baby boy.’ 

A shudder runs down Peter's spine and his eyes water. “I-It would… it would help if you s-stopped calling me ‘baby’, M-May. Please...”

Flinching a bit, May’s eyes widen. “Oh my god, I’m so sorry… I- I forgot. I’m sorry, Peter, I-”

“It’s okay," he says quickly, sniffling. "Please d-don’t worry about it. Um. H-How late is it?”

She still looks mortified when she glances at her watch. “Around half past three. Want me to make you some late lunch? There’s also leftovers from yesterday.”

“That’s perfect... May," Peter says, forcing himself to remember to call her 'May' instead of 'Sir'. "Thank you.” 

 

Over the course of the next couple of days, Peter eventually manages to find some kind of peace. 

Instead of forcing him to come back to the SHIELD headquarters, Agent Coulson visits him at home, bringing his laptop and a female colleague specialized in making composite sketches. To Peter’s profound relief, they never question him about anything, and Fury doesn’t bother him again either.

And yet, it’s a tiring, exhausting work. Whereas the sketches of Steve, Wanda, Scott and Quill end up looking halfway decent, Peter struggles with making things up regarding Val, T’Challa and Shuri, fearing that his fake sketches would accidentally resemble real, innocent people. Eventually, he keeps on telling them that he can’t really remember what their facial features look like, so SHIELDs decide to let it go for now.

After three days, they’re finally done. Mere hours after the release of Steve’s and Quill's sketches, SHIELD has their names - Steve Rogers, a former high school teacher who served a few years in prison for having an inappropriate relationship with a 16-year-old student, and Peter Quill, a smuggler who's been in and out of jail in a number of countries.

Other than dealing with SHIELD, Peter’s days are comfortingly uneventful. Most of the time, he’s alone in his room, reading or watching stuff on his laptop. Although Peter was reluctant to do so at first, he decides to continue watching Game of Thrones, trying not to feel too guilty about doing it without Tony. And yet, he can’t help missing Tony’s remarks, wondering what he’d have said about this and that happening, but it is what it is. Peter knows he needs to get over it eventually. 

May does her best to not trigger or upset him again. She seems to understand that Peter needs time, so she doesn’t press him to talk to her, and whenever they do, they make sure to avoid brushing sensitive topics, especially the heist or the Avengers. 

Knowing they desperately need the money and that May has always loved her job, Peter tries to talk her out of giving it up and persuades her to start working again part-time next month. He’d feel awful if she sacrificed all her time just to sit at home with him, especially because he doesn’t feel like talking a lot anyways. So, he reassured her over and over again that he’ll be fine and safe, thanks to Dimitri, the grumpy guy guarding their door during the day. 

Eventually, Peter also finds the courage to confide in her about having more and more troubles dealing with the lack of nicotine. Although May refuses to buy him cigarettes, she does fetch him some nicotine patches from the drugstore, which fortunately help a little.

Texting, on the other hand, is something Peter gets more comfortable about with every day that passes. It’s a relief to be able to read whatever MJ and Ned send to their new group chat in peace, without being watched, and without the pressure of having to respond. Mostly, they tell him stuff about school or send him stupid memes or links to YouTube videos they want him to watch, just like they did before the heist. 

Michelle also sends him private texts; nothing that would freak Peter out, though. Mostly, she just wishes him a good morning, a good night, or asks how or what he’s doing. 

On Friday, a week and two days after his return back home, she asks if he wants to hang out with him and Ned later that day. Not wanting to risk leaving the safety of his apartment, Peter invites them over for a movie night. As soon as he’s pressed the “send” button, his stomach starts to rumble nastily. Is this really a good idea?

As it turns out, it is. Despite the news about his abuse, Michelle and Ned don’t look at him as warily as they did last week, and they don’t act as awkward around him anymore either. As a matter of fact, Ned acts pretty chill, even calling Peter a dumbass when he accidentally confuses the title names for Star Wars Episode IV and Episode I. 

“This is a sin, man. There’s no place in heaven for people mixing up The Phantom Menace with A New Hope.”

For the first time since coming home, Peter full-heartedly chuckles. “I didn’t mix it up. I know A New Hope is the good one, but since it came out twenty years before Phantom Menace, it’s the first one.”

“Despite being called Episode four? Why exactly did I agree to do that again?” Michelle groans, shaking her head in exasperation.

“Because you… love us?” Peter offers, smiling cautiously at her.

"I’m seriously rethinking that," she snorts, though unable to hide a somewhat hopeful smile. 

A moment later, she sits down close to Peter. When she shyly asks if that’s okay for him, he nods, urging himself to relax. Throughout the movie, she scooches even closer to him, but stops before their legs could have touched each other, which Peter is very grateful for. 

May comes back from meeting with a friend shortly before the movie ends. She hadn’t wanted to leave at first but Peter convinced her to go, knowing she needed some time away from the small apartment for once.

She sits down on the armrest of the couch, glancing at the three friends with a big, happy smile on her face. “Might an old lady watch the rest with you?” 

“You’re really not an old lady, May,” Peter chuckles, almost tempted to tell her how Tony referred to her as ‘Aunt Hottie’ once. Almost. It’s not exactly a fond memory, after all, and he doubts May would appreciate it. Her eyes water when she beams at him, apparently delighted that he’s actually laughing for once. 

When Michelle and Ned leave, Peter considers asking Michelle for a hug. He comes to the conclusion that he’s not quite ready for it, though. She’s not May… She’s someone Peter used to kiss, and he doesn’t want to risk getting another flashback to Tony or some shit. There’s no need to rush anything… It’s better to take one step at a time. 

“Oh, one more thing,” Ned says when they’re almost out the door already. “Do you want me to add you to our old Decathlon group chat? The one with Liz, Cindy, Abe and Sally?”

Not... really? “S-Sure.”

“We also have another group chat we made after, um… everything. With Betty, Jason, Zach, Zora, Yasmin, Brad and Flash… You don’t have to be active, but maybe it will help you get caught up and stuff. We mostly send memes and make stupid jokes anyways.”

Although this feels like taking twenty steps at a time, Peter can once again hear himself giving his okay to be added. What can it hurt? Ned’s right, he doesn’t need to be active and can just read what they’re sending. 

In theory, that’s true, of course. However, as soon as Ned adds him half an hour later, both group chats are flooded with “Hi Peter!” - “PETER!” - “Hey, Parker” and several variations of “how are you” and “are you okay?!”, causing Peter to break into a cold sweat. It takes him twenty minutes to feel brave enough to send a simple ‘hi’ to both chats, immediately shutting off his phone afterwards. 

On Saturday, Peter wakes up early. Since he can’t sleep anymore, he decides to get up, debating whether or not he should ignore May’s wish to spoil him today and surprise her with an opulent breakfast to be somewhat useful for once. However, he’s barely finished changing into his jeans and t-shirt when the doorbell rings.

Afraid that it might have woken May up, Peter curses, jogging to the apartment door to peep through the spyhole in the door. His stomach clenches when he looks right at Fury’s grumpy face. What a way to start the day.

Sighing, he unlocks the door. “Good morning, Mister -” Pausing, Peter nervously glances at the two scowling policemen standing closely behind the agent. “- Fury, sir.”

“Good morning, Mr. Parker. May we come in?” Fury sounds even more grave than usual.

“Y-Yeah, sure.” Peter steps aside to let them in, trembling a bit. What now?

With furrowed brows, Fury looks around the small living-kitchen room. “Where’s your aunt?”

“She’s still asleep, sir. Um… D-Did anything happen?”

“I guess you can say so.” Deadly serious, Fury focuses his eye back on Peter, his gaze penetrating. “Mr. Parker, I need you to accompany me to the headquarters. Now.”

Nervously, Peter shifts from one foot to the other. “W-Why?”

“Because I said so.”

Cold fear is spreading through Peter’s veins, sending an unpleasant shiver down his spine. His first instinct is to drop to his knees and beg Fury for forgiveness by offering to suck his dick, but he has a feeling this isn’t how he’s supposed to deal with Fury. Or people in general, probably...

Before Peter has made up his mind on what to do, a tired, angry voice resonates from the corridor. “I told you not to speak to him like that anymore.”

Unfazed, Fury turns to look at May. “Morning, Mrs. Parker. I’m sorry for the early disturbance, but I’m afraid your nephew has to come with us. You might want to come too, actually.”

“What? Why?" Her eyes are narrowed to slits. "He’s not going anywhere until you tell us what the hell is going on.”

“Oh, he will.” Fury then turns his head back towards Peter, staring him down with his cold, dark eye disturbingly familiar to Tony’s. “Mr. Parker, I’m here to put you under arrest.”

Chapter Text

Peter’s gaping at Fury with wide eyes, apparently lost for words. May can’t blame him; she doesn’t think she heard right either. “You what?” she gasps, horrified.

Ignoring her completely, Fury’s eye rests on Peter. “You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be provided for you. As long as you don’t put up a fight, I’m not gonna ask them to put handcuffs on you.”

The word ‘handcuffs’ seems to snap Peter out of it. Whimpering, he seeks May’s gaze, his widened eyes making him look like a deer caught in headlights - panicked and helpless. When one of the officers steps forward, Peter instinctively staggers back, shaking all over.

“You can’t do that,” May chokes out, rushing to stand between the men and her nephew. “Y-You can’t arrest him, you-”

“I can,” Fury interferes, thrusting a piece of paper into her hands. “Here’s the arrest warrant. As his legal guardian, you can come with us, but I’ll advise you not to try and interfere. Step aside, please.”

“No- No, you- You can’t just take him.”

Fury then nods his head to one of the officers, who steps forward and gently, yet firmly, drags May aside. Screaming, she tries to wrench her arm out of his grip, but when Peter chokes out a heartbroken “May, s-stop!” she freezes. Frantically, she glances at her nephew, who’s now pressing his back against the wall as tears run out of his closed eyes. “P-Please do what they say... “

Lips curled into a pleased smirk, Fury takes a step forward. “The officers will bring you to our headquarters, Mr. Parker. Your aunt and I will be with you shortly.”

Peter’s shaking so much he’s barely able to walk. On the verge of a breakdown, May calls after him, her voice shrill, “Don’t say anything, Peter! Wait for me and Ned’s dad!”

As soon as they’re out of the apartment, she swoops down on Fury, tears of anger and fear escaping her eyes. “You’re a monster.”

Growling threateningly, Fury glares at her, his eye forming to a slit. “I’m just doing my job here, Mrs. Parker. Your nephew flat-out lied to us over and over again, which is, as you can probably guess, a Federal offense. And who knows what else he’s been hiding from us.”

“What do you mean, he lied to you? Because of Odinson? He already told you that he never saw all of-”

Wordlessly, Fury thrusts another paper into her hands - a print of a photo, to be exact. It shows a bunch of people on a beach, gathered around a woman in a white dress and a man in a sports coat. The supposed bride is a beautiful woman May has only seen on the news before - the Black Widow, the world’s most notorious female assassin. And the groom is no other than Bruce Banner

Standing on the Black Widow’s side are six women, but the only person May recognizes is Carol Danvers. Those men on Banner’s side, however… Loki Odinson, standing next to a very handsome, blond-haired man. May also recognizes James Barnes and Steve Rogers, and as her eyes wander to the people next to them, she sees him.

Tony Stark. He’s disturbingly handsome with his lips curled into a joyful, almost kind-looking smile revealing perfect white teeth, standing between James Rhodes and-

May flinches so terribly she almost drops the picture. The small figure on his right is no other than Peter, smiling brightly as he’s nestling against Stark, his right hand resting tenderly on the man’s chest.


It’s Maria Hill who receives Peter right outside SHIELD’s headquarters. Crying and shaking just as badly as in the apartment, he stumbles behind her as she leads him to the elevator. 

“C-Can you please tell me w-what’s going on?" he asks with chattering teeth.

“I’m not allowed to talk to you about it. Nick wants to question you yourself. But don’t worry, if you cooperate, nothing’s going to happen to you.” When they step into the elevator, she lowers her voice. “Just stop lying, Peter. Please. If you tell us the truth from now on, he won’t try to get you prosecuted. He knows you’re not the real enemy.”

After the cryptic message, she falls silent, and Peter’s too intimidated to ask any further questions. Besides, he feels as though he would have to puke if he ever opened his mouth again.

Upstairs, Maria leads him into an interrogation room with a presumably fake mirror. “Wait here. Fury’s already on his way, but I promise we won’t start until May is here as well.”

Then she goes, leaving the scared, shuddering boy alone. Peter doesn’t know how much time has passed when the door finally opens again, revealing May and Mr. Leeds, Ned’s dad. May looks like she’s been crying - her eyes are red-rimmed and puffy, and although she sits down in the chair opposite of Peter, she doesn’t look him in the eye.

“Peter… First of all, nice to see you,” Mr. Leeds says, forcing his thin lips into a soft smile. He also looks a little distraught, though. 

“W-What happened, sir?” A second later, Peter bites his tongue, knowing how awkward it must be for Mr. Leeds to be addressed as ‘sir’ by a boy his own son has been friends with for years. He can’t help it, though. 

“Well… As it appears, you repeatedly denied ever seeing Loki Odinson or Bruce Banner on the island, and… SHIELD found out you lied to them about it, just like they found out that you gave them wrong descriptions about some of the other Avengers.”

Peter’s heart clenches, not just at the sniffle coming from May. They know. But-

“H-How?” he asks, voice shaking. 

Flashing him an apologetic smile, Mr. Leeds hands him a piece of paper. Peter lets out a horrified sob. It’s one of the group pics they made with Wanda’s tripod and the self-timer, meaning that everyone’s on it… Loki, Bruce, Nat… and-

Peter’s stomach churns when he sees himself, snuggling up to Tony. By the looks of it, Peter could be anything - Tony’s son, his nephew, his friend… and perhaps most likely, his boyfriend. The only description his beaming face nestled against the crook of Tony’s neck doesn’t fit is that of a scared, abused kidnap victim.

With a choked sob, Peter drops the paper, burying his face in his hand. How could he forget about those stupid pictures? “Where did they find it?” 

“Quill's apartment in Missouri. It doesn’t matter how they got it, though, Peter. What matters is that you are in a picture with Odinson, Banner and a bunch of people who barely match your description or who you haven’t told them anything about. I normally don’t advise my clients to confess in the first questioning, but with pressing evidence like this… I don’t want them to remand you in custody. But it’s completely up to you.”

For a few minutes, Peter is incapable of doing anything but crying. He’s so utterly ashamed. May now knows that he lied and - even worse - saw him being all cuddly with Tony. Peter looks so fucking happy that he even bears a close resemblance to his old self in May’s framed photos...

“If I… If I came clean, w-would they still be able to prosecute me?” Peter asks when he’s calmed down enough to speak.

“Agent Fury said he’s willing to speak to the D.A. about not pressing any charges if you tell them the truth,” Mr. Leeds says soothingly. “If you want, I’ll be present during the questioning and make sure they’re not asking you anything you are not obliged to answer. Is that okay?”

Sobbing defeatedly, Peter nods. When he carefully opens his eyes, he sees Mr. Leeds getting up and walking towards the door, telling them that he’s ready. May and Mr. Leeds then sit down on chairs to his left and right, whereas Fury and Maria take a seat opposite of them. 

“Mr. Parker, you’re accused of Making a False Federal Statement, Obstruction of Criminal Investigations and Concealing a Person from Arrest, as punishable under Sections 1001, 1510 and 1071 of the US Code,” Fury says in a hard voice. “These are serious offences, punishable with several years of imprisonment. As I told you earlier, you have the right to remain silent. With this right in mind and with your lawyer and your legal guardian present, do you wish to speak to me?”

“Y-Yes, sir," Peter croaks. 

“All right.” Fury slides a high quality print of the wedding photo across the table. “Do you care to explain how you happened to be in a photo with two men - Banner and Odinson - you have allegedly never seen in person before?”

Peter desperately tries to swallow the lump in his throat. “I… I lied, sir. I'm sorry.”

“Why?”

“B-Because… Because they were good to me. Bruce and… Loki. And… And N-Natasha.”

Whereas May whimpers, Fury forms his eye to a slit. “Do you know who Natasha Romanoff is?”

“Y-Yes, sir," Peter says shakily. "I know she’s called the Black Widow, but she tried to protect me from M-Mister Stark on numerous occasions. She gave me... the strength to pull through, sir. A-As did Bruce. They took care of me after I got shot. I was living with them for two weeks and they treated me almost as if I were… their son.  And Loki… he told me if I ever got my hands on the boat keys, I would need to drive five miles southeast to reach the nearest inhabited island. Without him, I wouldn’t be sitting here. Please, sir… I know I shouldn't have lied, but they were the only ones who didn't treat me like complete shit."

Pointing at the photo, Fury snorts. “I beg your pardon, but you seem very content to me here. I mean… I clearly remember you saying that you weren’t invited to their fancy beach parties, and yet, here you are, looking like a well-respected member of their little gang.”

At this, Mr. Leeds intervenes. "Agent Fury, as you can clearly see, my client is suffering from what is commonly known as ‘Stockholm Syndrome’. Under these circumstances, he’s by no means criminally liable." 

“The only thing I can clearly see is that your client isn’t in therapy, Mr. Leeds," Fury retorts. "And last time I checked, you were an attorney, not a psychiatrist.” 

For the first time since Peter left the apartment, May speaks, her voice shaking with anger and sorrow. "Come on, Mr. Fury… You’ve been talking about Peter having Stockholm Syndrome ever since I first got to the hospital." 

She glances meaningfully at Maria, who nodds. "She's right, Nick." Her voice is soft. "Peter, do you want to tell us more about your relationship to Tony Stark? Did you… grow fond of him, in a way?"

"You're not obliged to answer that, Peter," Mr. Leeds objects, earning him a scowl from Fury. 

"He is, however, obliged to answer truthfully whether he protected Stark or not." 

"Actually, he is not obliged to answer that either," Mr. Leeds says with a smug smile. "May I remind you of his rights as the accused, Agent Fury?"

Before Fury can retort, Peter decides to put an end to the argument and tell them what he hopes is the truth. "I n-never tried to protect him, only… only Nat, Bruce and Loki. I know it doesn’t look like it, but I had been fighting down tears right before that photo was taken. But I acted as though I was happy because… it was part of my plan I’d just come up with.” 

After flashing Mr. Leeds another dark look, Fury pulls a second photo from his folder. As soon as he’s placed it on the table, May draws the air in sharply, causing Peter’s stomach to churn once more. It shows Quill, Thor, Tony and Peter sitting around the bonfire. 

Whereas Quill and Thor are smiling at the camera, neither Tony, nor Peter even seem to be aware of it. In fact, Tony only has eyes for Peter, his lips curled into a faint, somewhat adoring smile. Peter, on the other hand, is gazing at the bonfire, his left arm wrapped around his own bent legs, clutching a beer bottle. In his right hand, he’s holding the joint he’s just taken a drag of. Fuck. 

“Tell me, Mr. Parker, was it normal for you to share drinks and drugs with Stark and his friends?"

"Another question you don't have to answer, Peter," Mr. Leeds says, "especially since it's not even related to the case."

But Peter shakes his head, too afraid to be put in confinement. He has to be honest. “No, sir, not- not with his friends. He didn’t let me drink or smoke p-pot a lot, but whenever he did, it was at ho- in his house... That photo is from the same day as the wedding. It was an exception, sir.”

“Was that the only drugs you took during your captivity?” Fury raises his brows challengingly.

“S-Seven or eight times, he m-made me do cocaine,” Peter whispers, wishing the ground would open up and swallow him. Anxiously, he squints at May; she has her eyes closed, silent tears escaping from her lids.

“I see,” Fury says dryly, leaning forward. “And after all your lies you really want me to believe that you’d already decided to escape when those lovely photos were taken?”

“What exactly is the point of these questions, Agent Fury?” Mr. Leeds asks in a cold voice.

“My point is that your client seems to be rather comfortable around his captors, which just confirms the suspicion I had since the beginning.”

“Which is?”

“That Mr. Parker was playing for time after he’d woken up in the hospital, giving them the time they needed to escape.”

Snorting, Mr. Leeds shakes his head. “Agent Fury, my client was - and is - extremely traumatized by what happened to him. When you questioned him for the first time, he’d just woken up from surgery. From anesthesia. He wasn’t fit to be questioned, not by any chance. Furthermore, you don’t even know when the Avengers escaped from the island. By the time my client woke up, they were probably gone already.”

Scowling, Fury rephrases his question. “All right, then please enlighten us about your escape plan, Mr. Parker, and why it required you to… act like you do in those pictures.”

A flood of tears stream down Peter’s cheeks as he tries to explain. “During the wedding, I… I realized that Mister Stark’s behavior towards me had changed. Just look at that photo from the bonfire… I never really noticed him looking at me like that before, but I did notice that he’d started treating me more... n-nicely. So, I figured I could try and pretend that I liked him in a way. So he would think he had broken me.”

“I thought you said you acted sick on the day of your escape?”

“I did. And it worked, because him leaving gave me the time I needed to realize the last bits of my plan.” Taking a deep breath, Peter decides to go all the way. They need to think know that he's feeling nothing but utter hatred for Tony. “In fact, I… d-didn’t just knock him out with the saucepan before I ran away. When I had him t-tied up, I… u-used a hot iron to get the code for the safe from him.”

For a few moments, everyone is silent. 

“What do you mean, you ‘used’ the hot iron?,” Fury asks bewildered. “Did you threaten him with it or… stroke him?”

Ignoring Mr. Leeds’ warning look, Peter swallows down the lump in his throat. Screw it. “I threatened and… b-burned him, sir. I… burned the left side of his face, and… later on, I… I burned his g-genitals.”

“You burned his genitals?” When Peter anxiously glances at Fury through his veil of tears, he can see that the man’s eye is widened, looking both surprised and somewhat impressed. “Before or… after he gave you the code?”

“A-After,” Peter whispers, wondering if they will press charges against him for assault and battery now. “H-He kept on saying that I would never be free of him and threatened that he would… get himself a new, um, t-toy soon. Will I… be in  t-trouble for that, sir?”

Whereas May whimpers again, Fury’s face visibly softens. “Well… it is a criminal offense, but… you were in an exceptional situation here. I’m sure that the D.A. won’t press charges for it, just like he won’t press charges for lying if you finally come clean and tell us everything you know about every single person in that photo. Please, Mr. Parker… this is your last chance.”

Crying, Peter nods. His hand is shaking terribly when he grabs the photo again, hoping Nat will forgive him. “N-Natasha was Russia, sir. The two women right next to her are her sister Y-Yelena and her mother. They were only there for the wedding. They didn’t know about the heist or who I was.”

“How’s that possible?”

“Because -” Peter gulps “- they live in W-Wakanda.”

Frowning, Fury points at T’Challa and Shuri. “Do you know who these two people are?” 

“Y-Yes, sir. King T’Challa and Princess Shuri of Wakanda. They were on the yacht and left one or two days after we got to the island. The island belongs to him, I think. I don’t know how often they were there, I didn’t see them again until the wedding.”

Fury exchanges a meaningful look with Maria before he asks, sounding both worried and excited now, “Do you think it’s possible that the Avengers are hiding there?” 

“They might, sir. I have no idea where they could have flown off to right after the island, I swear, but… they did think about relocating to Wakanda before the end of the year.”

Cursing, Fury jumps up from his seat, causing Peter to flinch. Although Fury tries to keep his voice steady, his eye is glowing dangerously, showing his irritation. “Why didn’t you tell us about that sooner?”

“Mr. Fury, my client already explained why he wanted to protect Romanoff, Banner and Odinson,” Mr. Leeds says sharply, but Peter shakes his head, trying to stop trembling.

“It’s n-not just that. I know that sovereign immunity is a thing and… I didn’t want to risk a war or anything. I mean, if people find out that the king and princess of Wakanda helped with the heist, and… might be giving the Avengers refuge…” Feeling too anxious to speak any further, Peter’s voice trails off, heart pounding as he’s waiting for Fury’s response. 

“Well, we need to inform the President and Thaddeus Ross, the Secretary of State, about it,” Fury states matter-of-factly. “There's no way around that. If King T’Challa knows what's good for him, he'll cooperate with us.”

He then asks Peter about the other Avengers in the photo. Peter goes through them one by one, but he already told them everything he knows about most of them anyways. Except for Val. “I really don’t remember her real name, but it was something German or Danish, I think. She’s close to Loki and his brother, Thor Odinson. Thor was Norway. I only lied about them to protect Loki.”

“I still don’t understand why you did that," Fury says, shaking his head. "We knew he was an Avenger, it wouldn’t have made a difference if you had just confirmed it.”

“It made one to me,” Peter whispers, heart clenching when he thinks about Tony finding out that Loki helped him. “S-Sir, is there any chance you can keep quiet about him helping me?"

“No, Mr. Parker. It was his own choice to be a part of the heist. Besides, if we go public with it, it will surely drive a wedge between the Avengers.”

“But Tony- I mean, M-Mister Stark will kill him if he finds out, sir. Please, he d-doesn’t deserve this and… it won’t do any good. Loki d-doesn’t even like Mr. Stark. Maybe he’ll try to flee and m-make a deal with you after all, which he wouldn’t be able to do if he’s dead.”

Sighing, Fury promises he’ll think about it. Then, he falls silent for a while, looking through various notes. Eventually, he asks Peter about Tony’s arc reactor again. “Do you have any idea what this is?”

“It’s a, um, a self-sustaining, clean energy source, sir. I cut it out of a drone, so it doesn’t work anymore. Mr. Stark used it to power the house and stuff, but... he also mentioned that he intended to use it for weapons one day.” 

Peter can’t bring himself to tell them more. Warning them has to be enough… he doesn’t need to tell them every single detail about Tony’s lifework. Frowning, Fury then asks Maria for a word outside. When the two agents are gone, Peter anxiously glances at May. 

She’s staring at the table with wide, blank eyes, looking exhausted and distraught. Crying silently, Peter listens to Mr. Leeds’ vain attempt to soothe him. “You did good. I’m sure they’ll let you go home.”

Fury indeed tells them that Peter’s free to go a few minutes later. “Also, I will put in a good word for you with the D.A., but if there’s anything else significant you lied to us about, there’s nothing I can do for you anymore. It’s unfortunate that it had to come so far, but you left me with no other choice.”

Whereas Mr. Leeds stays behind, trying to convince Fury to cut Peter out of the wedding photo when they release it, May and Peter leave the interrogation room with Maria. 

Neither May, nor Peter speak until they’re back inside their apartment. As soon as they’re alone, Peter breaks into a crying fit. “I- I’m sorry, May, I’m s-so fucking sorry.”

Through the veil of tears, he sees her coming closer. Without speaking, she slowly opens her arms, offering an embrace. Sobbing, Peter accepts the hug, allowing her to hold him tightly. When Peter wraps his right arm around her as well, he can feel that she’s still trembling too.

For minutes, they're clinging to each other, not daring to let go. Eventually, May breaks the hug, tenderly brushing away a few tears that run down Peter’s cheeks. “Sweetie… I’m sorry, but I gotta ask. If you only pretended to like him, then why can’t you throw away his clothes?”

Swallowing thickly, Peter lowers his gaze. “You w-wouldn’t understand.”

“Try me.”

Peter takes his time to answer. When he finally speaks, his voice is shaking terribly. “I d-don’t even understand it myself. Don’t get me wrong, I do h-hate him but… Not everything about him is bad. I mean, at first, it was, but… You see, I kept on fighting him for almost two months, but eventually, I just… g-gave up. I didn’t want to get hurt all the time. I just didn’t have the strength anymore. So instead of trying to find a way to escape, I tried to find a way to… p-please him. And it worked. I earned his trust and… he hurt me less often. When I was g-good, he even treated me well. As a result, I somehow stopped h-hating him so much, I guess.”

“So you didn’t just pretend to like him?”

“N-Not entirely,” Peter admits hesitantly, “I said some things to him that weren’t true and I did some things that I otherwise wouldn’t have done, but… d-deep down, I guess, it wasn’t all lies. And even… Even though I did look for comfort when I leaned into him for the photo, it made me realize how wrong it was and that I needed to try and get back home to you.”

Taking a short break, Peter wipes the tears out of his eyes. “But I don’t want to like him, not even a tiny bit. I want to hate him with every fiber of my being and… completely erase him from my mind. He… he h-hurt me so m-much, May.” 

Crying, May pulls him into another embrace. “I know, honey. I know.”

Although Peter knows that there’s only one solution to the problem, it still takes him a while to find the courage to admit it. “May, I- I changed my mind. I want to get help. Can you please call Dr. Foster?"

Chapter Text

Tony is looking at his screen in complete outrage. Is he dreaming? Is he still under anesthesia? Oh god, please let him still be under anesthesia. This can’t be happening. How the fuck did SHIELD get their hands on the wedding photo? This is the worst that could have happened to them. A complete nightmare. 

Groaning, he calls for the nurse. A young, pretty black woman comes into his luxurious sick chamber seconds later, smiling brightly. “You called, sir?”

“Bring me some crutches. Um... please. I need to go see my friends.”

“You shouldn’t move so early, sir. The doctor said-”

“I don’t care about the doctor," Tony hisses. "I need to go, now. I will come back afterwards.”

After some arguing, she’s wheeling him off to the apartments T’Challa provided for the Avengers in his palace. The King flew them to Wakanda two days ago, picking them up from a very small, private airport in Puerto Rico where Happy, one of Tony's oldest and most loyal friends, had dropped them off with a helicopter. The bribed guards let them onto the airfield in the middle of the night, not even questioning who they allowed to get smuggled out of the country with a national private jet from Wakanda.

Tony has barely seen anything apart from the palace’s private hospital wing so far. To his profound relief, Princess Shuri and her team of medical experts managed to give him hope that he will be able to have sex again one day. However, even once his injuries are healed, he will always wear a big, painful burn scar on his face and private parts. Which he will make Peter pay for, eventually.

As expected, the Avengers are in an uproar. Rhodey, Bucky, Steve, Clint and Strange aren’t as troubled as the others, obviously, but just like Tony, they still feel terrible for their friends who are now exposed as well. 

Nobody is as furious as T’Challa, though. “This is all your fault, Stark.”

“You can’t blame me for this,” Tony snarls, limping over to the big dining table in Nat's and Bruce's apartment to pour himself a glass of wine. Fuck the painkillers. “I have no idea where they got that fucking picture from but I know I didn’t leave it behind.”

“If your bitch hadn’t escaped, they wouldn't have raided the place, though.”

Actually, that's a good point. And yet, Tony raises his brows challengingly. “Says who?" When T'Challa snorts like an angry bull, Tony quickly adds, "Well, there's no fucking sense in whining about the ifs, is it? It happened. Time to move on." 

Now that he’s thinking of it, he wonders if SHIELD has confronted Peter with the photo already. The article didn't say… Since he was standing on the furthest left, they simply cut him - and Tony, whom he’s snuggled up against - completely out of it and published a close-up of Tony’s face separately. Did SHIELD try to protect Peter from the media? But why? It clearly proves that he’s known about- 

Move on?! ” T’Challa yells, seething with rage. “Do you know who’s tried to call me already? The US ambassador, the US Secretary of State, your fucking President, the Secretary-General of the United Nations… What the fuck should I tell them?”

“Well, that’s quite obvious,” Tony says as casually as possible, taking an intentionally long sip from his glass to play for time as he’s trying to come up with a solution. What did he tell Peter about T’Challa? He told them about the drug business, right? Shit. “First of all, I think Peter knows about you having been in the drug business even before your father’s death, so you should expect them to ask about-"

“How the fuck would he know anything about that?”

Tony nervously glances at Sam, who nods subtly. Thank god. “I talked about it with Sam once and I think Peter was listening. But I don't think he knows about you helping us collect the money from the pneumatic tubes. Just exile the ambassador, call yours back from abroad, and declare your, um…" - What was Britain's exit from the EU called again? Brexit? - "Waxit from the UN. And then tell them to mind their own business if they don’t wanna risk a nuclear war. Even if they threaten to nuke you as well in return, they won’t do it. Not for running a drug cartel in Africa and 'being friends' with us.”

T’Challa’s still fuming. “And for hiding the most wanted criminals in the US? You said the boy knew about your plan to relocate here.”

“So? This is your country. They can’t arrest you as long as you’re here, and it’s your right to give refuge to whoever the fuck you want. Besides, we’re not terrorists who killed thousands of innocent US citizens. We don’t pose an imminent threat to the US and most of the world doesn’t really give a shit about us. They might fear Clint, Bucky and Nat, and be outraged and shocked about what I did to Peter, but they won’t declare war on a whole country for that. The most important thing is that your nation doesn’t find out what’s really going on, because a riot is the last thing you need.”

They debate back and forth for a while. Eventually, T’Challa calms down enough to go and make his phone calls. When he’s gone, Rhodey asks Tony about his surgery. And then, he asks them which articles he’s read. “More specifically, have you heard about Peter?”

“What about him?” Tony asks anxiously, heart pounding. 

“They arrested him.”

“Serves the little asshole right,” Clint tosses in as he walks by, glaring at Tony. 

Forcing himself to ignore him, Tony inquires. “They arrested him? What for?” No matter how mad Tony is at Peter, his heart clenches with worry. If they so much as lay a fucking finger on him...

“They didn’t say, but I guess it’s because of Loki and Bruce. I don’t know if they’re actually charging him with anything, but it seemed to have put enough pressure on him to give in because SHIELD even knows Yelena’s name now.”

Feeling even more worried now, Tony glances at Nat. Out of everyone, she looks the most distraught. She's on the phone with, what he assumes is, her mother, talking in fast Russian. When she notices he's looking at her, she scowls, so Tony quickly focuses his attention back on Rhodey. “So we still don’t know why he lied about Loki?”

“No, but some of the media suspect that they cut him out of the photo, indicating that he was arrested for lying. I guess he won’t come around making a statement to defend himself eventually. Maybe we’ll find out for sure, then.”

“Well, I don’t give a shit anymore, honestly," Tony mumbles. Suddenly, everything seems so… irrelevant. "What matters is that we’re all together and safe. I admit this is not what we were hoping for, but… it could be worse. Wakanda is way better than the island, and one day, in a few years, we might still be able to leave and live somewhere else.”

If he’s completely honest, Tony doesn’t care what country he spends the rest of his life in. All he wants is Peter, satisfying sex, good food, books, a possibility to work on his inventions, a computer with fast internet, Peter, god dammit, and a nice, comfortable bed. 

Maybe it’s time he started working on a plan...


“Why did it take you so long to tell her?"

Peter shrugs his shoulders, fiddling with the zipper of the stuffed pillow placed protectively on his lap. "Because speaking it out loud makes it real. And… because I was ashamed. Because I am ashamed.”

“Why are you ashamed?” 

One of the tears running down Peter’s cheeks drops onto the pillow, leaving a wet spot on the fabric. It's been two days since the photo was released, causing everyone to assume he was arrested for protecting some of the people who were holding him captive. The release of the clearly edited photo also stirred some new conspiracy theories, fueled by The Daily Bugle. They managed to gather quite a following for demanding to see the original version of the photo.

Deeply ashamed by the events, Peter hasn’t answered any of the messages MJ and Ned have sent him yet. His other group chats have fallen oddly quiet since Sunday, insinuating how awkward everyone’s feeling about the news of his arrest. Adding to his shame are worries about what’s to come: finding out that the king and princess of Wakanda helped the Avengers caused storms of protests throughout the whole country.

“Because of what he- what he did to me. And everyone knows about it. P-Parts of it, at least. They’re already judging me, assuming I lied about Bruce and Loki, so you can imagine what they would think if they saw me leaning against him in the photo. And even more so if they knew that I- that a weak part of me… likes the non-sadistic side of him to a certain extent."

Jane Foster scribbles something onto her clipboard, nodding understandingly. Peter’s somewhat glad that May managed to make an appointment so early. And yet, he’d still rather be anywhere than here. It’s not Jane’s fault, though - she’s just as sweet as he remembered her. 

“Peter… you shouldn’t see your feelings as a weakness. Being able to feel what you’re feeling despite everything you had to go through shows great strength.”

But Peter shakes his head. “You don’t even know half of the things he did.”

“Do you want to tell me about these things?”

“N-Not yet, please,” Peter says, shifting in his seat. “I’m sorry.”

Jane flashes him an encouraging smile. “There’s no need to apologize, Peter. This is only our first session, and I’m very proud of what you’ve told me already. Though I want you to keep in mind that everything you tell me will stay completely confidential.”

“You won’t tell SHIELD? Or… May?”

“Of course not. If you approve, I'll ask May to join us for the one or other session, though. Remember, she loves you unconditionally and she won’t judge you.”

“H-How could she not, though? If she knew how… how despicable I was acting, then...” Overcome by a terrible crying fit, Peter pulls a tissue out of the box next to him. “I k-know she’s trying to understand, but I- I don’t think that’s possible.”

Jane patiently waits until Peter has collected himself again before she answers. “Then try to explain it to her. Admitting to her that you don't completely hate him was a big step already."

"But it's a lot more complicated than that.” Peter hesitates, gathering the courage to admit what’s been nagging him even more badly. “Like… I’m afraid I will miss certain things he’s done to me. Things I’m not supposed to miss. Things I don’t want to miss. And no matter how desperately I'm trying to convince myself and May and… and anyone else who would ask me that I just want to forget him, something deep inside of me doesn't seem to be ready for it. Some part of me seems to want to remember the… 'good things', at least."

When she's finished writing, Jane softly says, "You need to stop guilt-tripping yourself, Peter. If something makes you feel good, it's normal to want more of it. Don't be ashamed of what you're feeling. It's part of our survival instinct to make the best of a situation and try to adjust to it as best as possible."

"I didn't just adjust, though," Peter cries. "When I leaned into him for the photo, I did it because I wanted to be close to him. I was looking for comfort in my- in my r-rapist. And throughout the whole wedding, I… I clung to him like a dog. I only felt safe when I was with him, which is ridiculous if you think about it. I even wished he would have stayed home - I mean, in the house - with me. And Yelena thought that Tony and me- that we were dating because of how the both of us were acting."

"How did that make you feel?" 

Peter grabs another tissue, wiping his eyes. "It m-made me feel like shit. But I realized she had a p-point. I always knew that he was trying to get me to develop Stockholm Syndrome, but it took me until the wedding to realize that he'd actually succeeded."

Jane’s voice becomes even softer when she asks, "Do you love him?" 

Peter shudders; if only he knew. "I don't think so. A t-tiny part of me might, but… n-not really in a romantic kinda sense. Shit, I don't fucking know. I'm not even into guys, but… s-some of the things that he... I- I just don't know. I only know that I hate him, so how could I even l-love him as well?" 

"Because not everything is black and white, Peter,” Jane says soothingly. “And it's impossible to put a label on everything. Stockholm Syndrome comes in all shapes and sizes. If there are sexual activities involved, it often goes beyond general sympathies. And then, there’s also what we call ‘traumatic bonding’. It occurs as the result of an ongoing cycle of abuse, in which the intermittent reinforcement of reward and punishment creates a powerful emotional bond between abuser and victim. Whatever it is you are feeling for him surely saved your life."

"N-No," Peter sobs, heart clenching painfully. "W-What saved my life was Tony falling for me much deeper than I did."

Jane raises her brows in surprise. "Are you saying he loved you?" 

"Y-Yes. I- I only found out for sure the day I escaped, but even before then I noticed something was d-different. After the wedding, I started to act like I had a crush on him, and I feel s-so guilty about it and everything else I did to him that I sometimes wish I would’ve just... s-stayed with him. It would have spared everyone a lot of trouble and- and pain. Especially May."

It's the first time Peter has said it out loud, but the last two days, it's all he's been thinking about. If he hadn't been so selfish, Nat, Bruce, Loki, Tony - and not to mention May, Michelle and Ned - wouldn't have to deal with so much shit right now. And neither would he.

"Peter… please listen to me," Jane urges, putting her notebook aside to give Peter all her attention. "Nothing makes May happier than knowing you're back home, where nobody can hurt you anymore.” 

"But he barely even hurt me anymore in the last couple of weeks. My life had become quite easy, actually. I got up, did my chores and… d-duties. Went to bed. Slept. Got up again. It was very simple."

“Apart from your ‘duties’, though, how did you spend your day? What did you do?”

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “Whatever he permitted me to do or… whatever he wanted me to do.”

"I see…" Jane nods understandingly. "But now that you’re back, you can do whatever you want. Eat whatever you want. Go wherever you want. This is what you need to focus on."

"But I don't even know what to do with my time,” Peter says, voice shaking. “And all I can think about is if Tony- I mean, if May would be upset or get angry if I did this and that. I just… I just don't see a purpose in anything I'm doing anymore."

"And you saw purpose in it during your captivity?" 

"I mean... yeah. When I was good, it made Tony happy, which meant he'd treat me okay. For the last six months, my… my purpose in life was to s-serve and please him. With that gone, I just feel so lost and… and useless."

For a second, Jane loses her professional manner. She blinks her eyes rapidly, as though trying to refrain from crying, but her voice keeps steady. "Do you even need a purpose, though? Why not just get up in the morning and do whatever you feel like doing?”

“Because I don’t feel like doing anything.”

“Then try to find a new purpose. By… offering a helping hand in an animal shelter, or by learning to speak a new language, for example? Or by doing anything else that makes you happy. It’s important that you understand that you are free, Peter. Nobody can dictate your life anymore.”

Peter desperately shakes his head. "It doesn’t feel like I’m free, to be honest. He's constantly in my head. Like… when you mentioned learning a new language, I immediately thought about him. Because he said he wanted to teach me Russian a few weeks before I ran away. Sometimes, I can even hear his voice snarling in my head or… s-see him standing or sitting right in front of me.”

“Flashbacks and dissociation are both symptoms of a complex post traumatic stress disorder,” Jane calmly explains. “In time, you will learn how to cope with it and maybe, you will stop experiencing it one day.”

‘In time’… ‘maybe’… Peter doesn’t like the sound of this at all. “But e-even if you’re right, everyone out there still knows who I am. They know what happened to me. I can’t go ‘wherever I wan’t’ without people staring at me. Say what you want, but my life would be less stressful if I'd stayed with Tony."

Jane softly shakes her head. "It might seem like that to you right now, but it’s barely been two weeks since you escaped. You need to be patient. It'll take time to heal and figure out who you are after everything that you went through."

Peter fidgets nervously in his seat. He doesn't want it to take time. He needs help now. "Can't you just prescribe me some drugs that will… help me become less anxious and fall asleep?"

"I will prescribe you antidepressants, but there’s no sense in fighting the symptoms without treating the cause," Jane sighs. "Our goal is for you to live your life without any sort of medication, and I’m positive that we'll get there. You did phenomenal in this first session. I’m sure we’ll make a lot of progress in the next couple of months.”

Months. Peter swallows hard. "Can you promise me that I'll forget him one day? When I’m ready to forget him, I mean?" 

The woman smiles sadly. “No, Peter. I can't. But I can promise you that you’ll learn how to live with your memories and feelings. First, we need to look back on and reappraise your past. Only then, will you be able to understand why you feel the way you feel. Why it’s nothing to be ashamed of, and why there’s nothing wrong about it.”

Even though Peter highly doubts that he will ever stop being ashamed of his conflicting feelings about Tony, he knows there’s no sense in arguing with her.

Before Jane officially ends the session, she gives Peter homework. “Until Friday, I want you to think about what it is that you like about him. Every single thing, even if it seems to be unimportant. Do you think you can do that?”

No. “Sure,” Peter mumbles, glad that it’s over. If he’s honest, it did feel good to get all of these things off his chest, but… he’s still feeling as awful - if not worse -  as he did earlier. 

When he confides in May about his current mood outside the office a few minutes later, she pulls him into a comforting hug.

“Oh, honey… Don’t be disheartened,” she says, trying to sound encouraging. “The first couple of weeks, I always used to be completely distraught after a session. But I promise it’ll get better. It’s already a big step that you agreed to come here.”

Back home there are a bunch of reporters waiting for them, demanding answers about the wedding photo and Peter’s arrest. Although he doesn’t want to lose his home yet again, SHIELD moving them to a new apartment is starting to sound more and more tempting. At least news agencies aren’t allowed to publish photos of Peter outside of his apartment anymore, due to the injunction issued a few days ago.

When they reach the floor of their apartment, they are surprised by Ned standing next to a grumpy looking Dimitri, smiling precariously when they come closer. “Hey!”

“Ned!” May says incredulously. “I didn’t know you’d come. Peter didn’t say-”

“Oh, I didn’t announce my visit,” Ned cuts in, flashing Peter an apologetic smile. “I just wanted to drop by after school and see if everything’s okay. Why didn't you respond to any of our messages?” 

Peter blushes as two pairs of eyes stare at him questioningly. “I was… W-Why don’t you come in and… then we can talk?” 

Inside, Peter immediately takes Ned to his room. The last thing he wants is for May to worry again…

“So?” Ned asks as soon as Peter’s closed the door, raising his brows expectantly. “Why didn’t you respond to our texts and calls? We were really worried.”

Unable to bear looking at his friend, Peter decides to stare out the window. “I… wasn’t feeling so well. I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to make you worried.”

“This is about the news articles, isn’t it?” When Peter ignores him, Ned sighs. “Peter… Please don’t get me wrong, but… you're an idiot.”

Surprised by Ned’s completely sincere tone, Peter turns to look at him, mouth falling open. “What?”

“You’re an idiot,” Ned emphasizes. “And since MJ's too afraid to tell you, I will. Be upset with me all you want, but I won’t allow you to come back and be all miserable. You’re my best friend and MJ- She really, really cares about you, you know, and it hurts her that you’re pushing us away.”

Peter has been listening with an open mouth. “I- I’m not pushing you away, I-”

“Yes, you are. Do you honestly think we care what the media - or anyone else - says about you? MJ and I… we love you, man. Nothing’s gonna change that.”

“Oh yeah?” Peter feels anger - and shame - building up inside of him. “What if some of the things they’re saying about me are true, though? What if… what if I lied to SHIELD?” 

Although Ned shifts a bit, he holds Peter’s gaze. “Then I’m sure you had your reasons. Look… you don’t have to tell me anything, but I’m here for you, okay? Just don’t shut us off, man. Please.”

Peter swallows thickly when he sees tears glistening in Ned’s eyes. “I... I won’t. I promise. I’m really sorry, I didn’t-”

“It’s okay,” Ned says reassuringly. “Let’s not talk about it anymore. Now, if you want, I can stay for a bit and… how about we play a few rounds of ‘The Mind’?”

Peter hesitates, but then, his lips curl into a shy smile. “I’d love to.” As long as it’s not UNO...

They play a few fun rounds, making Peter realize how much he’s actually missed being around someone his age. Eventually, he can’t help asking about MJ, though. “Does she really think I’m pushing her away?"

“Kind of. She’s extremely afraid of losing you again. Besides, she’s been struggling a lot because she blames herself for what happened.”

Peter doesn’t think he heard right. “She blames herself? What for?”

“That you had to save her.” When Peter opens his mouth to protest, Ned holds up a hand to stop him. “I know, you don’t think that you saved her, but you have to accept that we have a different opinion on it. Don’t even try to argue about it because I won’t listen.”

“That’s not- I mean… how can she blame herself for it?”

“For the same reason you’re blaming yourself for what happened to Flash.” A second later, Ned looks as though he seriously regrets bringing it up. “Look… we’ve all been struggling with survivor’s guilt and… with not helping you. Without my therapist, I wouldn’t- What I’m trying to say is - the only people who are to blame for anything, are them. The Avengers. Stark… nobody else.”

So both Ned and Michelle were in therapy as well… Peter knows it’s childish, but it somehow makes him feel a little better. 

When Ned leaves an hour later, Peter thinks about calling MJ. However, he feels like he should apologize to her in person, so he sends her a quick text and invites her to come over after school tomorrow. She replies right away, telling him she’d love to see him. 

Surprisingly enough, Peter sleeps rather well that night. In fact, it’s the first night he’s slept through since coming home, and the first one that he can’t remember dreaming about Tony or SHIELD. 

However, his comparatively cheerful mood changes the minute he walks into the kitchen next morning. May, who’s postponed her first day of going back to work for another two weeks, is waiting for him at the kitchen table, looking extremely crestfallen. “Morning, honey.”

“What happened?” Peter asks when he sees her fidgeting with the phone, his mouth feeling dry immediately.

After a heavy sigh, May gets up, eyes watering. “I’m so sorry, Peter. The Daily Bugle… They got their hands on the unedited photo.”

Of course they did. “W-What did they write?"

Sniffling, May hands him her phone. Peter's stomach churns when he sees his enlarged, smiling face pressed against the crook of Tony’s neck, placed directly under the sensational headlines: "The shocking truth behind ‘STARKER’ - How Peter Parker and SHIELD tried to fool us all!”

Chapter Text

Over the course of the next half hour, Peter reads through the article over and over again. The Bugle brought up their old story about Peter being in on the heist (demonstrating non-con roleplay with Tony, his secret lover, to keep the hostages at bay), and updated it with recent events: To support their theory, they provide a lot of ‘proof’: Peter being separated from the hostages so early on, Peter’s fake death, Peter clearly lying about some of the Avengers, and last but not least, the photo showing them so close to one another.

They claim that instead of escaping from his kidnapper, Peter left his boyfriend after a nasty fight. To be safe from his ex and the other Avengers, Peter made a deal with SHIELD. They say that in exchange for telling SHIELD the Avengers names and where the money was hidden, they gave Peter police protection and allowed him to keep playing the victim. When that photo emerged, they realized he’d been playing them, so they arrested him.

“SHIELD couldn’t come clean about the deal, so they had to release Parker again. That photo was never meant to be published in its true, unedited form, but we at The Daily Bugle think the world deserves to find out what SHIELD’s been trying to hide from us. Parker needs to face justice for his involvement, just like all the other Avengers do. I, J. Jonah Jameson, give you my word that we won’t give up until justice is served.”

Peter’s so sorely shocked he can’t even find it in himself to cry. While May has a slightly hysterical phone call with Ned’s dad regarding taking legal actions, Peter carefully starts reading some of the comments underneath the article.

Whereas some readers outright insult The Bugle for writing such insensitive bullshit, others seem to agree that there’s something fishy going on. There are also users who don’t hold back on attacking Peter for being all cuddly with his supposed kidnapper, calling him a lying asshole, a fraud or… a whore.

Eventually, Peter closes the browser, breaking into tears after all. It’s just too fucking much. He just wants to live in peace and be with people he doesn't need to be scared of. Why can’t they leave him alone? Yes, he shouldn’t have lied, but he’s still the victim in all of this… right? Just like May once said, he never asked to get kidnapped, beaten or raped. 

When May sees that he’s crying, she ends the call with Mr. Leeds, rushing forward to hug him again. “Sweetie… I’m so, so sorry. We’ll figure it out, I promise.”

“H-How?” Peter sobs, drenching May’s shirt with tears. “I c-can’t do this anymore.”

“Yes, you can,” she insists, stroking him soothingly over the back. “You’ve managed to overcome so many obstacles already… you’ll manage to overcome this as well. We will. You’re not in this alone, Peter.”

Peter continues to sob into her shoulder for a few more minutes. When he eventually calms down, May tells him about her phone call. “Kurt’s gonna talk with Fury about publishing a shared statement, and he wants to bring in an action against Jameson. He’s gonna be doing it for free, so please don’t worry about the costs.”

“B-But what if we lose?” Peter asks, sniffling. “I don’t want to go to court. I just want everyone to leave me alone.”

May sighs, smiling softly. “I know, honey. Kurt offered to come by after lunch. Is that okay?”

Peter shrugs his shoulders. Whatever. He then retreats to his room, intending to crawl back under his blankets and sleep for the rest of his life. However, his phone signaling the income of a new message puts him off doing so.

“Dude im gonna fucking kill them. ARe you ok?” Peter has barely finished reading Ned’s first message, when a second one comes in. “ Oh and dont you even dare ghosting me again. THis aint changing anything.” And a third. “I always hug great-auntie Betty and yk how fucking annoying she is. doesnt mean I can stand her.”

Peter lets out a choked up laugh. Oh Ned. Seriously, how does Peter deserve a friend like him? 

Over the course of the next few hours, his group chats come back to life as well. His friends are raging, calling The Daily Bugle all kinds of disgusting names and assuring Peter of their support. “If you need witnesses, tell us” - “the whole school's rioting!!” - “I just signed a petition to press charges against JJJ 👊🏻” - “there’s a shitstorm raging on every social media platform I checked” - “#supportpeterparker is trending on Twitter! People are flooding it with pics of kitties and doggos :)”

Since they don’t stop asking Peter if he’s okay, he eventually sends them a quick response. “ty guys. I really appreciate it.” He then opens Ned text again, hesitating before typing: “idk what id do without you. tysm.”

At lunch, Peter has gained enough confidence to join May in the kitchen and eat half of his Burrito. An hour later, Mr. Leed comes by, not exactly bringing good news.

“I only got to speak to the Bugle’s lawyer. He’s quite a slimy asshole, to be honest, and… Well, he said they’re not even thinking of taking down the article, unless…” Mr. Leeds hesitates. “They are willing to consider it if you agree to do an exclusive interview series with them and… give them all the dirty details, so to speak. For free, since you declined their last, um, ‘way-too-generous’ offer.”

“Fuck them,” Peter hisses through clenched teeth, face distorted in disgust. So this is why they're so butthurt. "There’s no way in hell I’m gonna talk to them.”

“I wouldn’t have advised you to do so,” Mr. Leeds says calmly. “But I do think you should consider giving someone else an interview. There might not be a lot of people believing the story per se, but there’s quite a lot who believe that something’s odd about SHIELD not publishing the full pic.”

“Then tell them the truth,” Peter offers, stomach clenching. “Tell them that I asked SHIELD not to publish it unedited because I didn’t want anyone getting any wrong… impressions.”

Mr. Leeds sighs. “But that would barely help, Peter. Even those who used to publicly support or defend you have started to speculate about your… relationship to Stark. They don’t understand why you would smile and lean into him when he’s done all those horrible things to you.”

Peter feels as though he was hit by a baseball bat. “S-So I should tell them I have S-Stockholm?”

“No… We don’t think that would help them understand, honey," May says, taking over. "I mean,  I don’t want you to lie, but… I think you should focus on the bigger and more important part of the truth.”

“W-Which is?”

“That you only wanted him to believe that he broke you, so you would gain his trust and could escape. Just like you told us. If they don’t believe us, we could still show them the bonfire photo.”

“You mean the one where I’m drinking beer and smoking pot? Yeah, that’ll surely convince them that I was the victim in all this,” Peter sneers, unable to help himself. Just a second later, he regrets it; it’s the first time since coming home that he’s snapped at someone, and he knows May and Mr. Leeds just want to help him. 

Flashing him a wary look, May sighs. “Peter’s right, that won’t help.”

“All right,” Mr. Leeds concedes. “Then just tell them that you don’t know what he was up to or tell them that it was Romanoff’s idea. Just… please think about whether you even want to give an interview. In the meantime, I’ll contact some magazines and tv stations.”

TV stations? How in the world should he manage to give a tv interview?

Mr. Leed then leaves, giving May and Peter some time alone. May suggests talking to Jane about it, which reminds Peter of the homework he’s been given. He better start doing it right away…

In his room, he sits down on his bed with a notebook and a pen. What does he like about Tony? Shuddering, Peter remembers the night before Tony’s birthday when Tony asked him the same question. Hesitantly, he starts scribbling down a few things he feels brave enough to admit.

  • I’m impressed by the way he thinks. He’s a genius & his inventions are breathtaking. 
  • He can be quite funny, esp. regarding things he’s annoyed about.
  • The way he cared for me when I pretended to be sick was somewhat fatherly. Or when he cooked for me and actually let me eat with him.
  • Occasionally, he acted very sweet around me. It made me feel somewhat secure. Esp. when he cuddled me or kissed my temple. 
  • At the wedding, he told Clint off when he was teasing me. 
  • For my birthday, he bought me a cake and played Mario Kart with me. He once tried to cheer me up by taking me snorkelling.
  • I guess I enjoyed our movie nights together or when he let me work on his inventions with him. I felt proud when he praised me for it.
  • When he treated me like a human being.

For a while, Peter stares at the last line, eventually drawing a circle around it. Then, he writes one last thing down, but crosses it out again immediately.

  • He’s very skilled in bed. 

He really doesn’t feel ready to talk about these things yet. Or ever. 

Looking over the list again, Peter doesn’t know whether he should laugh, cry, or scream. How could he ever believe that Tony hadn’t succeeded in breaking him? Given the fact that Peter once used to wish he’d drop dead so he could finally escape Tony’s abuse, he listed a lot.  

A knock on the door startles him. “Y-Yeah?”

He flinches when the door glides open, revealing Michelle ’s anxious face. “Hi,” she says, smiling precariously. “Can I come in? Or do you want to hang out in the living room?”

After today’s news, Peter didn’t expect her to come, especially because she’d stayed silent in the chats. Quickly, he snaps the notebook shut, dropping it to the floor. “S-Sure, come in. Um… Hi…”

Looking somewhat relieved, Michelle drags Peter’s desk chair forward and sits down. After a few moments of staring wordlessly at one another, she chuckles softly. “You forgot I was coming, didn’t you?”

“N-No, but…” Peter hesitates, going a little pink around the nose. “To be honest, I didn’t think you’d want to see me.”

“And why would you think that?” With her raised brows and narrowed eyes, Michelle almost looks like her sassy old self. Not overly confident, but slightly sarcastic and straight-forward. “Do you honestly think I believe anything Jameson writes?”

“It’s just… you weren’t active in the group chats,” Peter admits, already feeling stupid.

The girl sighs deeply. “Yeah, I know… I’m sorry, but last time there was negative press about you, I tried to reach out and you ghosted me. Not that I’m blaming you,” she quickly adds when Peter opens his mouth to apologize. “I just didn’t want to stress you out, especially because we had agreed on meeting anyway.”

Unable to help himself, Peter still apologizes. “Okay… I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to push you away. I just… it was a lot. Thanks, though, I’m very glad you don’t believe them.”

Smiling sadly, Michelle shakes her head. “Of course I don’t. Nobody you know does. You saw what they wrote in the chat… they all support you. The whole school does.”

“Didn’t seem like it on Sunday,” Peter mumbles. “As soon as the news about my arrest broke, they all just… fell silent.”

MJ fidgets with the cords of her sweater. “That was different, Peter. You see… for months, we’ve been putting all our hope in SHIELD, the good guys, and suddenly, they arrest you without stating why and publish an edited photo. Some of them, including me, already had a feeling they cut you out of it, but I was afraid you’d be...  you know…”

She doesn’t finish her sentence, but Peter doesn’t need her to. She probably thought he was beaten up, naked or in chains or something, when in reality, it was the complete opposite. 

“Anyways, on Monday our friends said that they didn’t know how to deal with it and that they didn’t just want to straight-out ask you,” MJ continues. “But after the bullshit published today… we won’t let them treat you like that. You have our full support, Peter. They had no fucking right to publish that photo.”

Peter braces himself for her next question; but it doesn’t come. “Um… Aren’t you gonna ask?”

MJ raises her brows again. “Ask what?”

“About… the photo. W-Why I look the way I do.”

“No, I won’t,” she says, tears glistening in her eyes. “It’s not my business, Peter. You’re back home with us, that’s all that counts for me. But if you feel like talking about it, I’m here for you. No matter what it is, I won’t judge you. I promise.”

Feeling choked-up as well, Peter gives her a heartfelt smile. “Thank you, Michelle. Really. This means a lot.” He then decides to tell her about the idea of giving an interview and asks her about her opinion. “Do you think I should do it?”

“Well… you know me. Usually, I don’t care what other people think of me, but if I were you, I would show Jameson that he doesn’t own me and that I won’t tolerate him criminalising me any longer. And… to be completely honest, reading stuff like that about you affects me deeply. It always has. I didn't even go to school today. I just get so angry and upset about it… and I’m not the only one. So many people were extraordinarily invested in this, and even though they still want to support you, they’re also confused… So, yeah. I think you should do it, but only if you feel up for it. Everyone’s gonna understand if you don't.”

Knowing she has a point, Peter absentmindedly nods his head. “Thank you... I think I’m gonna talk to my therapist about it on Friday and then make a decision.” Not wanting to discuss it further, Peter then shyly asks her if she wants to watch a series with them.

Surprised, yet delighted about his suggestion, Michelle agrees, pupils dilated. “Yeah, sure… Anything specific you have in mind?”

Even though Peter’s tempted to show her Game of Thrones, he decides against it. He doesn’t want to risk getting an anxiety attack with her present. Besides, watching it with someone else would make him feel even guiltier than watching it alone. “Not really… Any ideas?”

“Hm… If you haven’t seen Umbrella Academy yet, you should definitely check it out. Or ‘The Boys’, maybe… It’s supposed to be really great, but it’s on Amazon Prime.”

May and Peter don’t have Amazon Prime, so they settle on Umbrella Academy. Since Peter’s TV can’t connect to the internet, he fetches his laptop, shyly asking MJ if she wants to sit on the bed with him. At first, they sit down on the long side of his single bed and put the laptop between them, but with their backs resting against the wall, legs dangling off the side, it’s not exactly comfortable. 

After half an hour, Peter gathers his courage and offers to sit down lengthwise. His heartbeat increases and his hands start sweating when Michelle carefully lies down next to him, their bodies compelled to touch one another. “Are you okay?” she asks, her head intimidatingly close to his own. “I can sit on the chair if you-”

“I-It’s fine, just- just give me a sec, p-please” Peter stutters, closing his eyes while he tries to breathe slowly. Why is this affecting him so much? Sure, it’s the first time in two weeks that he’s this close to someone in a bed, but it’s Michelle, for Christ’s sake. His girlfriend. If Peter doesn’t want Tony, his rapist, to be the last person to ever be this close to him, he needs to get over it.

Michelle stays completely still until Peter has calmed down. When he finally turns his head towards her, he notices a few tears running down her cheeks, as well as a soft, somewhat proud smile. “Wanna continue?”

Returning her smile, Peter nods. “Yes.”

Michelle puts the laptop on her left and Peter’s right leg. Over the course of the next hour, Peter significantly relaxes, realizing that lying next to each other isn’t so intimidating after all. They’re on episode three when he’s overcome with a very faint longing for more comfort. Carefully and very slowly, he leans his shoulder against hers. 

After a few minutes, Michelle moves her left arm, almost casually laying it on the headboard of his bed to give Peter the opportunity to rest his head on her shoulder. Another five minutes later, her arm faintly touches Peter’s cast, and when he doesn’t push it away, she carefully lets it slip further down until it rests on the backside of his ribcage. Lastly, her right hand finds his, and their fingers intertwine.

It feels… really, really nice... Being held by someone who doesn’t want to take advantage of his body and who appreciates him for who he is inside. Sure, Tony did too, in the end, but-

No. Fuck Tony

Tony never truly appreciated or cared for him. He didn’t even know him… the real him. Not the boy he’s turned into and most certainly not the boy he was before the heist. Only May, Ned and Michelle did. Only they do.  

Feeling determined to erase everything about Tony from his mind, Peter snuggles even closer to Michelle, taking in the smell of her hair and perfume. He isn’t ready to go any further than this - and he probably won’t be for a while - but right now, he’s still… somewhat happy. Maybe life doesn’t always have to hurt… and maybe, it doesn’t always need to be shit. 

They continue to cuddle until the end of the episode. Even though Michelle’s eyes are red-rimmed when they move apart, she looks very happy. “Do you like the show so far?”

“Yeah… I would love to watch more, actually, but I think May’s already preparing dinner.”

Nodding understandingly, Michelle says she should be going anyways. At the door, he watches her putting on her shoes, trying to gather enough courage for one more thing. “Can I, um... Can I give you a- a hug?”

Eyes watering yet again, Michelle nods, looking overjoyed. “Y-Yeah, sure. But we don’t have to, if you-”

Taking a deep breath as though he was about to dive, Peter steps forward, shutting her up as he wraps his unplastered arm around her. She returns the motion, and for a while, they stay completely silent, subtly rocking back and forth. 

 

Despite The Daily Bugle continuing to spread hate all throughout Thursday, Peter manages to stay in a somewhat good mood, mostly thanks to his friends showing him popular posts of Social Media users defending him:

ackaacka, AddMoreLag, Alwaysgurl43, Anonymous_ricelord, amour_eux_lover, Andygo34, Aquarius111, AsiaFace, Break_So_Beautifully, Bo, Broooo, Champi2, Cherriemarries, CyrusDragon, EverythingIsOnFire, evilpopcorn, FelliSkelli, Flashes_of_Cold, GothicNon, Gypsywoman13, Harishe, hellothere0108, Horrorstan42, Hurley, iamalystark, IantoLives, ichivip, lcpl_westbury, Ihavearaccoonfact, iwuvspockyboi, JadeSplash7, Kawaii_Ichigo, KaylaWeimei, Kim3468, Lanyakea, LunaticLee, Lokislonelylady, lookingatthestars, LovelyAnathema, Low_ewe, MaiaAnders, MandaJoelle, Mariessa, May_May_0_0, MidwinterHunt, Milernamalfoyfelton, Milk_With_8g_Fat, Muse_of_Gods, Natasha sinnema, Ollie, queersailorscout, NOTTODAYARTT, Panjack, Poke360, queersailorscout, razzle_dazzle_your_expeliarmus, redfoxshadow, sahar_luna, S, Shani_Laufeyson_Odinson, Sherbear69, Stargirl2000, Starship_Pansexual, Sternenzauber, Tay, Tey_UM, thatkid010, TheOnlyCeeCeeJ, timetoboogie, vaguekiwi… and many more. *

Peter wonders who the people behind those usernames are. Are they his age? Older, younger? Which country in the world do they live in? And why would any of them care about him?

Maybe he should log back into his old Instagram account and make another ‘thank you’ post after all? However, Peter quickly discards the idea again, his fear of Tony lurking on his account is too great.

During the next therapy session on Friday, they don’t go through the list Peter’s made (yet). Instead, they talk about the article, his supportive friends and about his ‘date’ with MJ. Even though Jane neither encourages him to do the interview, nor tries to persuade him from doing so, Peter ultimately decides to do it.

After all, things can’t get worse, right?

Although Peter would feel more comfortable doing an interview for a newsmagazine, Mr. Leeds eventually convinces him to agree to do a video interview. “If they actually hear and see you talk, it will feel more ‘real’, and thus, more believable.”

In the evening, everything’s settled. Tomorrow at 5:00 pm, Peter will give CNN an interview, which will be featured in a special report at 7:30 pm. In exchange, CNN agreed to donate ten grand to May’s foundation.

An hour after the official announcement Friday evening, The Bugle already starts a new campaign, alleging conspiracy. Unfortunately, their loyal readers and followers seem to agree with JJJ’s rabble-rousing bullshit statement in the sense of “If they didn’t have anything to hide, they would do it live and let a third, independent party participate”. 

When even some of Peter’s supporters half-heartedly agree, he gives in, reluctantly allowing a representative of The Bugle to be there as well. “Not Jameson, though…,” he tells Mr. Leeds, “and I won’t do it live.”

Peter sleeps horribly that night. All through Saturday, he barely eats, afraid everything would come back up again. If it weren’t for the encouraging words his friends and May shower him with, he’d probably cop out. 

But so, he finds himself walking into SHIELD’s headquarters at 4:38 pm, accompanied by May, Mr. Leeds and Sharon, who’s going to represent SHIELD and keep a professional eye on Peter’s mental well-being. For reasons of security, they chose to do the interview here rather than at CNN’s studio.

Peter’s legs feel like pudding when he’s greeted by the interviewer, a pretty blonde woman called Christine Everhart. A few moments later, a good-looking, brown-haired man in a fancy tux steps forward, grinning cheesily as he’s holding out his hand to Peter. Very reluctantly, Peter takes it, forcing himself to keep eye contact.

“Mr. Parker, it’s a pleasure to meet you. I’m Quentin Beck, The Bugle’s attorney."


Tony’s sitting alone in his small apartment in T’Challa’s palace, gazing at the screen. The fireplace to his left crackles comfortingly, radiating a pleasant warmth. Yet, Tony’s so nervous that he’s shivering. 

Five more minutes… Five more minutes until he will finally see and hear him again.

During the last week, Tony paid close attention to the media and people alike swooping down on Peter like a pack of hungry hyenas, torn between wanting to spur them on and rip their fucking heads off. But today, he pushes all his conflicting feelings and thoughts aside to focus on this. 

The broadcast of Peter’s first - and probably last - TV interview recorded sometime earlier this afternoon. 

Tony refuses to believe it’s only been two and a half weeks since he last looked into those doe-like puppy eyes, listened to the angelic, smooth voice... It feels like it’s been a lifetime. Maybe it’s because Tony’s gotten so used to having Peter around, but lately, he’s been quite lonely, so he spent almost every waking second working on his plan and imagining what he’d do with Peter if he was here with him.

When the feature begins, Tony’s heart leaps into his throat, but they start by showing a boring recap of the heist and the months that followed. Growling, he tries to get his hand to stop shaking so he can take a proper sip of his Whiskey. After a few agonizing minutes, the camera finally shows a pretty, blonde-haired woman looking remotely familiar, before cutting to-

Tony lets out an involuntary gasp, hit with so much longing that it fucking hurts.

It’s Peter, his perfect baby boy, looking just as pretty and fragile as he remembered him. But when Tony realizes there's sadness and terror in Peter’s big, watery eyes, he feels a burning in his throat, once again cursing all those fucking assholes who - more or less - compelled Peter to sit here and answer their stupid questions that ain’t anybody’s fucking business in the first place.

Only Tony has the right to terrify him. Nobody else.

To calm himself down, he buries his face in the balled-up shirt lying in his lap, taking a deep breath. It’s the shirt Peter had used to sleep in the nights before he ran off. Despite all the anger and pain he had felt that day, Tony stuffed it into a bag when they left the island, not wanting to leave it behind. 

Recently, Tony started taking it out whenever he missed Peter deeply (so basically all the time), but to his horror, the smell has already started to fade. In a week or two, it will be completely gone.

But it doesn’t really matter, Tony thinks, eyes fixed on Peter’s anxious face. Soon, Peter will be back with him. And then, Tony will make sure he'll never lose him again.

Chapter Text

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. 

“Y-Yes.”

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.

Chapter Text

"Ned and MJ are gonna drop by after school to bring me some books," Peter tells May during breakfast on Monday. "I really want to start to catch up."

“Don’t you think it’s a little early for that?” May asks, her forehead wrinkled in doubt and worry.

“No, I actually think it will help me get better. Tony sometimes let me help him with calculations for his inventions and stuff. I kind of liked doing that because it helped me get my mind off things and... made me feel useful. Jane said I should go for it if I want to.”

May nods understandingly. However, when Peter insists that letting him assist with the cooking or the household would help him too, she’s hesitant to give in about that as well. But after some persuasion on Peter’s part, May eventually promises to let him help once the cast has come off. 

After breakfast, Peter finally feels brave enough to read some reactions to his interview. His cheeks grow hot when he sees how many people, even including some celebs, applaud him for standing up to Beck like that, calling him a fucking badass. Then, there’s those who’re referring to him as a precious baby or a strong bean who needs to be ‘protected at all costs’. Even though it’s really cute, Peter didn’t expect strangers to get all overprotective about him, especially after all the swearing CNN had to beep out

Not for the first time Peter wonders if Tony has seen the interview already. He probably has… it’s been two days now. Shuddering, he tries not to think about Tony raging in his hiding place, mad and upset about Peter betraying his trust like that. Somehow, Peter doubts that Tony will just let it go...

What he didn’t expect, however, was that the first part of Tony’s revenge would come so soon.

It happens when Ned and MJ visit him in the afternoon, bringing him school books and some “Get well soon” cards from classmates. This time, Peter hugs the both of them, feeling nothing but gratitude to have them back in his life.

“The principal said you’re free to work through these books as fast as you want. If you need help or want assignments, just send an email to the teachers. They all said they’ll gladly support you catching up,” Ned smiles.

“Yeah. And they said you can call them anytime you want,” MJ adds. “We even discussed finding a way to stream some classes and have you attend via a camera or something. When you’re all caught up, I mean.”

Somewhat amused, Peter chuckles. “That’s really sweet. Thanks.” 

Then, they invite May to play Monopoly with them in the living room. They’re in the middle of getting completely destroyed by Ned when Michelle’s phone buzzes. She picks it up to take a proper look and gasps loudly, drawing everyone's attention to her. When she takes her eyes off the screen to glance at Peter, he knows.

“W-What did he do?” he asks, voice rasp.

With a shaking hand, Michelle turns the screen around. At first, Peter almost breathes a sigh of relief, wondering why Michelle looks so alarmed; after all, it’s only a picture of him holding a Nintendo controller, smiling shyly. But once Peter finally realizes where it was taken, his world shatters for the perceived one millionth time. 

“Where did you-” he gasps, forgetting the rest of his sentence when MJ closes the photo to show him a post on Instagram, made by a user called NotTonyStark. Peter knows that this is exactly what Tony would name himself, especially if he was in a big ass bitchy mood. Even more unsettling than the name, though, is the post itself.

August 10th, 10:42 am - Dear diary, he’s such a monster. Mario Kart 8 is so 2014. I want to play Fortnite. Guess now I’ll have to suck off Thor in order to borrow his X-Box.

“W-Wha- What is this? Is this real?” May asks, leaning forward to take a closer look. Peter wishes she wouldn't. Whimpering, he hides his face in his hands, wishing to vanish into thin air. 

"B-Betty sent it to me,” MJ stutters. “The Daily Bugle posted about it. There’s a second one as well.”

Stomach clenching, Peter squints between his fingers, barely daring to look at the second post. It’s a photo of Peter’s birthday cake sitting ready on the kitchen table, decorated with seventeen unlit candles. 

August 10th, 9:04 am - Also, my favorite cake is chocolate creme. Not just chocolate. Seriously. He could have put in a little more effort. He ain’t getting my ass today.

When Ned bangs his fist on the table, everyone flinches. “Hey, maybe this ain't so bad… Maybe they’ll be able to find him now,” he says, sounding excited. “If Instagram gives them the IP address it was posted from-”

“He isn’t that stupid.” Slowly, Peter shows his face again, feeling absolutely miserable. “Trust me, they’d just get a trace leading to Russia or China or some shit.”

“What do you think his plan is?” Michelle asks anxiously. “Do you think he wants people to think what The Bugle says is true?” 

Peter swallows thickly. “Not... really. He once said nobody with a brain would believe that we were a couple before the heist, but I guess he does want to raise doubt about… about our r-relationship on the island. But first and foremost, I think this is his way of getting back at me for spilling his family secrets and making him look weak.”

His friends exchange a confused look. “How did you make him look weak?”

Absentmindedly, Peter grabs his token, rolling it between his fingers. “If there’s anything he’s afraid of, it’s feelings,” he says quietly. “He sees them as a weakness.”

“Wait, so… you saying that he loved you wasn’t a lie?” Whereas Ned looks at him flabbergasted, MJ’s wide eyes are fixed on Peter’s hand playing with the token without blinking.

“Um… n-no,” Peter admits hesitantly. “It’s the truth. That’s probably why he even took photos like these in the first place.”

“But why publish them, then?” Ned shakes his head in disbelief. “They only support your statement, don’t they?”

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “Kind of, but the wedding photo already is proof enough that he didn’t always treat me like shit. I think now that the damage is done, he just wants to mess with me, hence the captions. He wants to embarrass me just like I embarrassed him. Making sure I’ll go down with him, so to speak.” 

“You don’t need to be embarrassed, Peter,” May says, speaking for the first time in a few minutes. “It’s very reasonable you’re… smiling on your birthday, especially if he let you play a video game.”

“Yeah,” MJ adds, finally looking at Peter again. “Apart from a few brainless idiots, nobody will think anything negative about these pics or the obviously fictional captions. If that’s all he got, that’s pretty lame and childish.”

Peter feels a comforting warmth in his stomach when his aunt and friends smile at him encouragingly. He doesn’t deserve them. “Thank you, but... these aren’t the only pics.” A knot tightens in his chest and he swallows thickly. “He’s only getting started.”

 

As it turns out, Peter’s right. The third ‘diary entry’ already gets posted during his therapy session on the next day. He’s just finished spilling his guts about the interview and the first post when his phone vibrates angrily. At first, Peter ignores it, but over the course of the next five minutes, it buzzes again, and again, and again.

With an apologetic look at Jane, he grabs it to turn it off, freezing when he sees how many messages MJ and Ned sent him. Aren’t they in school, still?  

Feeling a sense of foreboding, he opens his messaging app, gasping when he sees the screenshot of an Instagram post showing him in the bathtub, smiling cautiously at the camera. 

July 2th, 8:13 pm: Dear diary, I like baths, but there’s way too many bubbles. How am I supposed to get him heated up if he can’t even see me jerk off?

Peter’s hand starts shaking so much he almost drops his phone. It’s just like he imagined, and - knowing Tony - it will actually get even worse

The therapy session is as good as done with. Crying, Peter listens to Jane trying to explain Tony's Lima Syndrome (seems like there is a term for it), a condition even more complicated and less researched than Stockholm. 

“It’s related to the intrinsic human instinct to establish bonds with other people,” Jane says calmly. “What you said about him being lonely… it's probably true. Maybe he didn’t even know how lonely he was until he constantly had you around. He never had a sheltered, loving childhood, so he might not even understand what love is supposed to be about. His feelings for you most likely confused, scared, and embarrassed him, which is why he only admitted them to you when he felt like he didn’t have any other choice. But instead of changing your mind and staying with him, you turned him down.”

“G-Great, now I feel even worse,” Peter cries, grabbing a tissue. “Why do I have to f-feel bad for him? Why can’t I just… wish for him to die a gruesome death?”

Jane smiles softly. “Because you’re not a vengeful person, Peter. You are a very good person, and you should be proud that Tony didn’t manage to destroy that. Also, keep in mind that he does mean something to you, so it’s very reasonable you’d feel pity for him. But please remember - he did horrible things to you, things you don’t do to someone you love in a healthy way. He had no right to take you and treat you so badly. And he has no right to make these posts, no matter whether you hurt him or not.”

Peter tries to understand, he really does, but he feels as though his brain’s fried. Jane seems to realize that he’s barely listening anymore, so she ends the session early, advising him not to react to the posts. Not that he has any intention to… He knows better than to feed the trolls.

Instagram deletes Tony's account later in the evening, but Peter doubts that Tony will be in any way impressed by it. 

He’s proven right once again when shortly after lunch the next day, The Daily Bugle runs a story about a post made by ReallyNotTonyStark. When Peter looks at it, he lets out a distressed sob; in the photo, he’s leaning over the kitchen table, doing a line of coke. 

June 30th, 11:12 pm: Dear Diary, he only let me take one line again. He didn’t even give in when I offered to lick it out of his ass. Fuck him.

The post stirs a big uproar from Peter’s haters and supporters alike. In record time, The Daily Bugle shits out three articles about him, claiming to have ‘exclusive witness reports’ about Peter dealing drugs at school before the heist, that he was on drugs during the TV interview, and that he would be going to rehab soon.

As a result, Ned's dad calls about bringing in an action, but once again, Peter declines. "This is just what they want," he says despondently, "If we went to court, I'd have to answer all these embarrassing questions. I’m not taking that bait. Also, this photo proves I've taken some, so what’s the fucking point?" 

Peter actually thinks he wouldn’t care that much about it if he weren’t haunted by Tony’s smirking face day and night, laughing up his sleeve about the reactions his posts are getting. 

To get back at him at least a little bit, Peter spends Thursday morning telling Fury and Agent Everett Ross from the CIA everything about Tony’s family that he remembers. They’re also very interested to hear more about T’Challa. Apparently, he’s been acting very hostile about the accusations so far. 

“Well, that’s something,” Fury says after Peter’s report. “It’s unfortunate you don’t know if he really helped them during the heist as well, but if what you’re saying about the drug cartel is true, we might have a new chance of convincing him to be more cooperative. Would you be willing to meet Thaddeus Ross some time next week? I’m sure he has a few questions as well.”

The… Secretary of State? Blushing deeply, Peter nods. Dear god.

Since Tony’s second account was deleted after only a few hours as well, his Thursday post is made by yet another account called TotallyNotTonyStark. This time, the picture shows Peter smirking triumphantly as he holds one “Draw 4” and two “Draw 2” card into the camera. 

July 23th 10:31 am: Dear diary, this is what you get for dismissing the official rules. Now he owes me four orgasms already. Can’t wait to get that damn plug out of me and replace it with his cock. I’m horny like a bitch in heat.

There’s a second photo posted only seconds after; a screenshot of the Instagram bio, showing the  URL https://diariesofateenageslut.org.

Peter doesn’t need to click it to know what this is going to be about. He does it anyways, tempted to throw his phone out of the window when screenshots of all previously deleted Instagarm posts reappear on his screen. 

Feeling desperate, Peter calls Ned as soon as he’s out of school, asking him if he can find out anything about this website. “You’re way better than me with these things, and… I don’t know, maybe we can track him down?”

“Yeah… yeah, sure,” Ned says, sounding excited. “I learned a few new tricks. Gimme an hour, I’ll come over.”

Unfortunately, Ned doesn’t get far. Just like Peter assumed, Tony made sure to cover his tracks.

“The domain belongs to a letterbox company in India. The website itself seems to be hosted on a server located in Russia.” Sighing, Ned suggests calling Fury. 

However, just like Peter feared, SHIELD has already tried to get to the bottom of it. Even though their tech experts got further than Ned did, they got stuck at a dead end as well. “He’s using a complicated encryption algorithm we haven’t managed to crack yet,” Fury admits, sounding irritated. “Unless Russian government is willing to try and identify the provider for us and force them to take it down, there’s nothing we can do for now other than ask US providers to block it which Stark can easily work around. I’m sorry, Mr. Parker.”

Tony’s Friday post is published exclusively on his website. It stirs new conspiracy and rumors because it’s the first time since the wedding picture that the public sees a photo showing Peter outside - and in the presence of the greatly feared Clint Barton, no less. Unbeknownst to Peter, Tony took some photos during the archery session; he posted one of Clint correcting Peter’s posture and one of Peter drawing the bow.  

August 28th, 3:28 pm: Dear diary, Clint's a real angel (and SO fucking hot). Rubbed my ass against his crotch but he didn’t seem to be in the mood for fucking. His loss.

Since Clint was the one Peter’s been most afraid of, this is a really low blow, even for Tony. It also hurts, especially given the fact that not even two months ago, Tony actually told Clint off for teasing Peter at the wedding. 

Maybe it’s because he’s irritated about Peter’s lack of response, but on Saturday, Tony releases the first semi-nude. It’s a photo of Peter lying in bed, sleeping sideways on his stomach. A blanket covers most of his scarred back, but his face and bare ass are fully exposed. It could have looked somewhat aesthetic if it weren’t for the hand-shaped bruise on his right hip and the two bite marks on his right ass cheek. Not to mention the numerous smaller bruises and hickeys littering Peter’s neck, jaw, and shoulder.

July 13th, 7:31 am: Dear diary, we fucked four times yesterday. He completely tore me apart and I’m drenched in cum. I love it. I just wished these marks would never fade so everyone could see who I belong to.

Peter’s so ashamed and desperate that he calls Jane, despite it being a Saturday. Patiently, she listens to him sobbing and venting, even offering to come to the office and sit down with him. Although Peter appreciates the offer, he declines. 

"P-Please, just… tell me what I can do to make him stop,” he cries, on the verge of a breakdown. “Ignoring him doesn't seem to help."

She sighs. “I think there’s two possible motives for what he’s doing. He either wants you to contact him or he just wants to make you miserable. Probably both. I don’t know when or if he’ll stop, but if you let him know that it gets to you, you’ll play right into his hands. Don’t give him the satisfaction.” 

 

“What about letting him know that it doesn’t get to you, though?” Michelle suggests later that day when Peter tells her and Ned about Jane’s advice. Only reluctantly he agreed to let them come over, feeling way too embarrassed about the recent photos. But now that they’re here, he’s actually feeling a little better. It really is a relief to know they still have his back.

Peter looks at her confused. “What do you mean?”

She shrugs her shoulders. “I could post a pic showing us watching TV or something. The less bothered you seem, the more it's going to upset him."

"But I don't want to upset him," Peter says brokenly. "I want him to stop. And I don't want to risk him wanting to take you down as well." 

"I don't care about that," Michelle growls, defiance sparkling in her eyes. "Besides, it's not like he doesn't already know we exist. It's worth a shot." 

Ned nods enthusiastically. "I agree. Let's try, Peter, come on… Maybe he will stop once he sees that you don't give a shit about his childish act of revenge."

Only hesitantly, Peter agrees to do a subtle post.

Not wanting to take any unnecessary risks, Ned sets up a VPN on Michelle's phone. A few minutes later, she posts a photo of a bag of chips and three glasses of coke on her Instagram page, making sure to tag them. "#movienight @pp4rk3r @n3d.l33ds ❤️🎥"

The post gets a lot of attention from schoolmates and random people alike. The Bugle and Tony stay quiet, though - Until Sunday afternoon when Tony sets a new low. It almost seems as though their post only made it worse. 

June 27th, 4:48 pm: Dear diary, I finally managed to come thrice in 30 minutes - hands free! His cock is so much more satisfying than our toys. Asking him to call me SLUT back in March was a good move on my part.

And the picture… Peter’s lying on his back this time. For some reason Tony put a black square over Peter’s private parts, covering half of the ugly SLUT carving as well as his still erected, spent cock. His blissful, fucked-out looking face and his scarred chest, covered in a thick, milky white substance, are clearly visible, though.

It's definitely one of the most humiliating photos Tony could have posted, and Peter's so devastated by it that he completely loses his appetite. Sounding heartbroken, May tries to talk to him later that day, her voice rasp and shaky. But Peter plays deaf, lying on his bed with his back to her. 

Over the course of the next 24 hours, he only gets up to use the toilet and gulp down some water, so he won’t die of thirst. As if it mattered anymore...  

Tony’s Monday post is no less humiliating than his last. It’s a photo of Peter kneeling between Tony’s legs, his mouth full of Tony’s uncensored cock. 

August 19th, 7:22 pm: Dear diary, nothing gives me more satisfaction than choking on his cock before all my meals.

Ignoring Ned’s and MJ’s texts just like he continues to ignore May’s attempts to talk to him, Peter stays in bed, hiding under his blanket to wallow in self-pity and self-hatred. He deserves this shit. Just like he deserved Tony doing all these horrible things to him in the first place.

But what did he expect? He embarrassed Tony - so now, Tony’s embarrassing him. He lied about his behavior towards Tony - so now, Tony’s lying about Peter’s behavior towards him. They’re both assholes. Assholes who deserve each other. 

On Tuesday, May loses it. In her despair, she breaks down crying in Peter’s room, threatening to call an ambulance and get him taken to the hospital if he doesn't get up. As a result, Peter finally, though very reluctantly, drags himself out of bed. 

Crying in profound relief, May pulls him into an embrace as soon as he scuffles into the living room, and even though he lets it happen, he doesn’t feel like returning it. “I’m so sorry this is happening to you, Peter,” she cries, voice shaking. “But you can’t- Please, you need to eat something.”

“I feel sick.” Feeling besmirched and dirty, Peter leans a bit away from her. May seems to take the hint because she lets go, wiping the tears off her cheeks.

“I know, honey, but you need to eat. It’s almost been two days.”

She suggests ordering pizza. Begrudgingly, Peter nods, demanding to skip therapy in return. After pondering about it for a while, May sighs. “All right, but I need your word that you’ll go on Friday. Please, Peter… it’s very important that you talk about this.”

“Mhm. Promise.” Whatever...

Two hours later, Tony publishes one of the rare selfies he took. They’re both shown from the side, waist upwards, naked. It’s obvious that Peter’s straddling Tony’s lap, but just like last time, there’s a black square placed over what Peter knows is his erected cock, trapped in the firm grip of Tony's right hand. Peter’s cheek is a light shade of pink; his right hand is resting on Tony’s chest whereas his left arm is wrapped around Tony’s neck, pulling him in for a steamy kiss.

August 5th, 2:01 pm: Dear diary, as much as I love being used as a human fleshlight, I do appreciate it whenever he allows me to fuck myself on his cock.

Peter hates how much it looks like he’s enjoying himself (he was), kissing Tony as though his life depended on it. Which it kind of did, but… this had been three fucking weeks before he made his plan to play Tony. They definitely look like a couple in this, which is as humiliating as it is painful pathetic.

Just like two weeks ago, persistently ignoring his friends doesn’t go without consequences for Peter. Only this time, it’s Michelle who unexpectedly drops by after school, looking both worried and somewhat annoyed.

“I really wish you wouldn’t do that,” she says before Peter can even open his mouth, strutting into his room. “Ned already told you - we won’t allow you to be all alone and miserable.” With a swift motion, she sits down on his bed, scowling slightly. 

Even though Peter knows she means well, he’s completely overwhelmed with the situation. “And I really wish you wouldn’t have bothered to come,” he snaps before he can help himself. Almost desperate, he adds, “It’s not your fucking business whether I’m miserable or not.”

“It is. Because I- because we fucking care about you, Peter,” she huffs, lips forming into a thin line. “I’m really sorry, but if you want to stay in bed all day and ignore everyone who loves you, then you shouldn't have bothered to come back."

Peter winces, feeling as though she hit him. In the speed of light, Michelle’s expression changes from angry to shocked, and she clasps a hand over her mouth, pupils dilating. “Oh god, I- I’m sorry, I didn’t mean-” Mortified, she shakes her head. “I know it’s still better here than- Oh my god, Peter, please, I just wanted to- I really didn’t mean that.”

“Yes… Y-Yes, you did.” Peter cries, only now aware of the tears falling from his burning eyes. “And… r-rightfully so. Fuck!”

Overcome by a sudden burning of self-hatred, he kicks the bed frame, causing Michelle to squeak. “I just- I don’t know what to do, MJ. H-How am I supposed to deal with this? It’s so fucking humiliating!” Feeling utterly devastated, he drops down next to her on the bed, crying into his hand. 

“I know,” she says hoarsely, sounding choked up as well. “I can’t even imagine how you must be feeling, but… Nobody who knows you cares, I promise. Please don’t let him win. Please don’t let him destroy your life.”

Peter sniffles. “It’s a little too late for that.”

Very carefully, Michelle takes his hand, gently pulling it off his face. “Look… I know that I can’t change what happened, but I can help you change what is to come. And I really hope you’ll let me. Please, Peter... I… I really care about you.”

Anxiously, he glances at her. “A-Aren’t you… disgusted by all these pics?”

She stays silent for a while. Eventually, she says, voice soft, “I am. But not because of you or because of what you’re doing. I am disgusted that he forced and manipulated you into doing all these things, and that he’s using those pictures against you now. And… I don’t think you should put up with it any longer. You should fight back.”

Peter’s eyes widen. “But… you saw what happened on Saturday. It only made it worse.

Michelle’s lips curl into a bitter smile. “That’s because you didn’t hit him where it really hurt.”

Chapter Text

Peter’s gaping at Michelle as if she spoke Chinese. “What do you mean?”

Instead of explaining, she asks, “Is Stark a possessive person?”

When she raises her eyebrows expectedly, Peter realizes that she’s serious. Almost instantly he’s hit by flashbacks, Tony’s angry voice hissing loudly inside of his head. 'You are mine' - ‘Touch him and I’ll fucking kill you.' - ‘You belong to me.’

Shuddering, Peter tries to stay in the presence. Focus. “Y-Yes, he is... Why?”

“Because I have a theory,” Michelle explains, sitting more upright. “He censored your um… you know, but not his. It makes me think he doesn’t want to share ‘everything’ of you anymore because he thinks it’s... ‘reserved to him’, so to speak.”

Peter doesn’t like the sound of this at all. “And…?”

“I'm trying to say that he might still ‘love’ you. Or at least, consider you 'his'. I mean, that selfie from today? Come on.

Peter grows hot in the face. "Does this mean I should... try to apologize to him?" 

For a few moments, Michelle just stares at him, her jaw hanging slightly open. Then, she sighs deeply. "No, Peter. You shouldn’t. You didn’t do anything wrong."

"Then what's your idea?" he asks, blushing even more deeply.

The girl’s eyes sparkle with determination. "He needs to believe that you don't give a shit about his stupid pictures. He needs to see that you are happy. I know that we already tried that, but we were way too cautious. This time, you are gonna make him upset. And if he really… loves you in his own, fucked up and possessive way, then this will work…. I think."

“But… What if you’re wrong?” Peter asks desperately. “What if it makes it even worse? He has so many photos and… and v-videos too.” 

Michelle shifts a bit. “Well… I understand if you don’t want to take the risk, but how do you know he isn’t gonna post them anyways? I honestly think that he’ll only stop once he doesn’t see a point in it anymore.”

But there’s also something else holding Peter back. “Making Tony upset is as dangerous as poking a tiger in the eye. MJ, I don’t want him to come after you. I… I don’t want to lose you.”

“I’m pretty sure I’m already at the top of his hit list anyways,” Michelle smiles weakly. “I’m not scared I’ll get hurt, Peter. I’m only scared you’ll let him win.”

Hesitantly, he asks what kind of post she’s thinking of.

“I actually got inspired by him,” she admits, blushing lightly. She takes out her phone and switches to the selfie cam. Then, she asks for permission to climb onto his lap

Peter isn’t sure he heard right. “W-What?”

“Do you trust me? I'm not gonna hurt you.”

Only reluctantly, Peter nods. “Y-Yeah, but… yeah. I- I do.” 

Anxiously, he takes a deep breath, trying to stay calm when Michelle carefully straddles his lap. They haven’t been so close to each other since March… 

“Everything okay?” Michelle looks at him sympathetically. 

“Y-Yeah. I’m fine.”

Smiling, she moves her head closer to his. Only when Peter realizes that she’s not aiming for his lips, he relaxes a little. It still takes him a lot of effort not to flinch back when she kisses him on his right cheek, the one not facing the camera. 

When Michelle withdraws her head, Peter lets out a breath he didn’t know he was holding. Okay, that wasn’t so bad… actually, it wasn’t bad at all. 

He’s still trying to cope with the weird tingling feeling in his stomach when Michelle shows him the photo, chuckling a bit. “Sorry if I’m being inconsiderate, but… want to try again and look a little less… disgusted, maybe?”

She’s right, of course. With his eyes screwed shut and distorted mouth, he looks as though he’s just bitten into a lemon. Before he knows it, Peter lets out a snorting laugh. “Yeah, oh god, I’m sorry.” 

As he watches Michelle reposition her phone, he’s fighting an inward battle. The spot where she kissed him is still burning. And not in an unpleasant way… “If we really want to make him jealous, then maybe you should... k-kiss me on the lips.”

Flabbergasted, she turns to look at him, her mouth dropping open. “Are you sure?”

Not really, but… fuck it. “Yes.”

And before he can change his mind again, Peter lurches forward, surprising both Michelle and himself when he presses his quivering lips against her sweet, delicate ones, cupping her left cheek to gently hold her in place. Although it’s not a passionate or very deep kiss, it feels nice. It feels really nice.

And it feels right. 

At least to the part of him that's still sane...


With an excited smirk, Tony starts his almost hourly routine of checking Peter-related Social Media accounts and some news websites. Peter can’t ignore this forever. One day, he’s gonna reach out to Tony and beg him for forgiveness, and then-

Tony almost chokes on his wine when he sees a new post on Peter’s own Instagram page. It’s a photo showing that fucking whore Michelle straddling Peter… kissing him. 

Heart leaping into his throat, Tony tabs on the post to get a closer look, hoping for their sake as well as his own that this is old. However, once the photo is larger, Tony immediately notices the cast and the big scar on Peter’s left cheek, leaving no doubt that the photo was taken recently. 

When Tony’s eyes fall on the caption, a rush of a burning rage as well as a stabbing pain surges through every inch of his body. 'Dear diary, life is good.'

No… This cannot-

This isn't-

Screaming, Tony flings his tablet across the room. The glass follows right after, as well as the ugly ass vase standing on the table. When Tony tries to lift the chair, a stinging, physical pain in his groin reminds him of his unhealed wounds. Gasping and hissing in pain, Tony leaves the chair where it was and plops down into it.

‘Life is good.‘

He’s kissing her. As it seems, it has barely taken Peter one month to recover from Tony’s six-month-long exhausting work of manipulation and gaslighting, and get ready to jump into bed with someone else. How’s that possible? 

'Because you never broke him,' a mean voice inside of his head answers. 

No matter how desperately Tony wants to deny it, it’s the only plausible explanation. Peter didn't lie during his TV interview. He actually played Tony. And not just from the wedding on, like Tony had initially thought, but for much longer. 

Feeling an almost painful need to drink himself to death, Tony staggers to the kitchen, not even bothering to get a glass for his Whiskey. He doesn’t know how many sips of the burning liquid he’s taken when his anger turns into sorrow, causing him to break down on the floor and bawl his eyes out. 

He doesn’t know how long he’s been lying there, wallowing in self-pity, when he tries to think about it more objectively. Peter referencing Tony’s mock diary posts is proof enough that he intended to hurt Tony… right? The little shit wanted Tony to see this. He wanted to make him miserable and give up.

What a fucking fool.

Since his tablet is now destroyed, Tony tumbles over to his laptop, intending to publish every single pornographic video and photo of Peter that he has. 

Let’s see if his whore of a ‘girlfriend’ still wants him, then.

However, he’s halfway through uploading one of the recorded orgasm training sessions when it hits him - Michelle watched Peter choke on Tony’s and on Bucky’s dick. She watched him get raped. She watched him jerk off with his classmates’ spit on his cock. She surely saw all those photos Tony posted. And yet, she’s still eager to spread her legs for him. And even worse, Peter’s still eager to get between them. 

No matter what Tony posts, it won’t scare her away. It won’t tear them apart. 

They would only laugh at him, pleased to see that he took the bait like a lovesick, pitiful loser, and respond with even more kissing pics - or worse.

Overcome by despair, Tony cancels the upload. If he doesn’t want the whole world laughing at him even more, then he can’t let himself get fooled into showing a hasty reaction. He needs to think…

However, all he ends up doing for the rest of the day is alternating between drinking, crying, coming up with ridiculous assassination plots, and even more crying until he eventually passes out on the kitchen table.

The next day, when he’s sober - yet terribly hungover - Tony tries to make more sense of Peter’s post. However, no matter how he twists and turns it, there’s no way around the fact that Peter is able to cope very well without Tony. 

Deep down Tony knows he should be happy for Peter, but no matter how hard he tries, he can’t. Way too much has happened between them, and even if Tony put all those things aside, he would never want Peter to be happy without him. 

The only solution to this agonizing problem is to get Peter back as fast as possible - but then what? If he didn’t succeed in getting Peter to develop Stockholm Syndrome, then Tony wouldn’t be able to break him in a second run either. He doesn’t even think he would be able to punish him as severely as he used to. By allowing himself to fall in love with Peter, he ruined his chance of treating him as though he only existed to serve as Tony's sex toy. 

All his efforts have been for nothing.

Hating everything and everyone, Tony opens Instagram to look at the post again. Unable to bear looking at the photo for more than a tenth of a second, he quickly opens the comment section. The top comment - posted by Michelle - almost makes him barf. 🥰💕’ 

Overcome with a burning rage, Tony sets up his enhanced VPN. Even though he knows how childish and stupid it is, he creats a new fake account and replies to Michelle’s comment, not caring anymore whether he’s acting like a jealous fool or not. 

‘Cute. Hope you liked the taste of that tongue considering what it was licking the last couple of months. I’ll give you a hint - It starts with MY and ends with ASS.’

Knowing that his reply will most likely be drowned out by the flood of all the other comments, Tony publishes a screenshot of it on his website. It still takes almost two hours - and hundreds of reactions from other people - before he gets the Instagram notification he’s been waiting for.

friendscallmemj replied to your comment: ur ass tastes like strawberry cheesecake? 🤷🏽

Within seconds, Tony’s smug smile turns into a scowl. This... isn’t what he expected. Where’s the anger, the hurt, the fear? Michelle was so… hysterical and scared at the bank.

Tony never thought he’d sink so low and get into a childish Social Media war with a teenage girl, but all of this is driving him insane. Without hesitation, Tony answers with ‘No need to be jealous, sugar. I’m gonna let you have a taste real soon.’

This time, Michelle responds in less than a minute. ‘make sure not to eat any meat 24h prior. im vegetarian.’ 

Flabbergasted, Tony stares at the notification. Did he miss something? Where’s all that sass coming from? For the first time in his fucking life, he can’t even think of a sarcastic, clever retort.

Knowing that his account will most likely get deleted soon, Tony eventually responds with an ominous ‘Too late for that ’, indicating that he will try to get to her in less than 24 hours. 

For the rest of the day, the only people responding to his comment are angry strangers Tony doesn’t give a shit about; Peter, unfortunately, stays completely quiet... 

Tony wakes up to his new account being banned, forcing him to go back to lurking with his real one. But neither Michelle, nor Peter or Ned seem to be active in the days that follow. 

Grasping at straws, Tony eventually urges Happy to camp outside the apartment complex Peter lives in and keep a very close eye on who comes and goes. The only small hope he has left is that Peter lied about playing Tony from way back and that the kiss was nothing more than a trick. 

A perfidious act. A fake kiss for the camera, Instagram and - ultimately - Tony, hoping it would make him stop. A lousy attempt to beat Tony at his own game, with his own weapons.

However, he's not gonna fool himself. Being able to kiss someone else after everything Tony put Peter through, especially so soon, is a big step, no matter what Peter’s motives for it were.

Happy isn’t - well - happy, but he promises to do the best he can. It still takes him a week to call Tony back. 

With a racing heart Tony listens to Happy’s report, almost losing it when he mentions that he saw Peter yesterday. “He was with his aunt and two guards, but I didn’t want to risk taking a photo.”

Tony tries to ignore the burning in his eyes. Happy was so close to him … “Do you know where he went?”

“According to one of the journalists I met the day earlier, he goes to therapy Tuesdays and Fridays. Apart from that he didn’t leave the house. His chubby friend came by on Friday. The girl visited on Sunday afternoon and stayed until shortly after seven. She was accompanied by a policeman. Guess she’s under police protection too.” 

Which means Michelle visited Peter three days after their Social Media exchange. The question remains if she was there as a friend or as a girl friend. “Well, that’s something. Thank you, Happy. Can you try to follow him next time he goes to therapy?”

“No,” Happy says, sounding nervous. “I’m sorry, Tony, but… when I went there today, I saw a bunch of moving vans. And before you ask, yes, they were there for the Parker residence.”

Tony feels as though he was struck by lightning. “Please tell me you know where they moved to.” 

Happy sighs deeply. “Following the vans wouldn’t have been possible. There were a bunch of agents and police and… I only heard rumors from some of the other reporters who showed up. They’re pretty certain they were relocated because of the witness protection program. You know how highly secretive that is… I’m sorry, Tony.”

No… nonononono, this is a fucking nightmare. Breaking into a cold sweat, Tony urges him to try and find out more about the therapist. "They might have his new address,” he says, wishing his voice would stop shaking. “Or May’s workplace, the Saint Mary’s hospital in Queens. Maybe she still works there.”

"Tony… they could have moved him out of the state and given him a new identity, as far as we know."

Which would get him away from Michelle at least. Tony, however, doubts that. "Everyone’s seen his face, so giving him a new identity would be useless. Someone would eventually recognize him and maybe even post about it. No, they'll keep their identity, trust me. We just have to keep a close eye on Social Media and his friends and… wait."

But to Tony's misfortune, there aren't any Peter-related posts, articles or reports for the rest of the week. Or the weeks that follow.

As November comes and goes, Tony's on the verge of losing it. For six months, he controlled every single second of Peter's life, directing his every movement, and even after his escape, Tony still knew where he was. It provided him with some kind of relief, but now, Tony’s completely lost control. And it’s scaring him. 

When the alcohol and the drugs don't manage to calm him down anymore, he goes to the only person who might be able to help him. Someone who knows Peter, and who cares about him. 

"Tony?" Nat raises her brows when she opens her door. "What are you doing here? Bruce isn’t home." 

"I know. I'm here to see you." 

Her brows pinch together suspiciously. "Me? Look, I'm flattered, but I really don’t-" 

"Please." Desperately, Tony tries to swallow down the lump in his throat. "I don't know what to do. I… I need your help.“

Nat hesitates, but then her expression softens. When she steps aside to let him, Tony flashes her a thankful smile. Seems like no matter how much they’ve hated one another ever since Tony laid a finger on Peter (not to mention the rage she was in when Tony started posting the diary entries), deep down, they still care about each other. Not that he would deserve it… 

“What can I help you with?” Natasha asks when they’ve sat down on the couch. 

Suddenly, Tony doesn’t know how to begin. The mere thought of speaking it out loud makes him want to vomit. “I… I can’t sleep anymore. All I think about is- is him, and… it feels like I can’t-” Horrified, he bursts into tears. “I c-can’t fucking breathe anymore.”

As calmly as possible, he tells her about the kissing pic, his fear that Peter might actually be dating Michelle and about Happy finding out that Peter and May moved. “I never broke him, Nat. He still loves that wh- girl and now he's gone. I don't know what to do."

Nat sighs heavily. “I'm pretty sure that deep down, you do.”

For a few seconds, he's staring at her flabbergasted. But then, he suddenly sees it very clearly. Guess venting about it already helped. “You're right… I do. I have to find and kill him.”

“No, you fucking asshat,” Nat snaps irritadely, all softness in her voice gone. “You have to let him go. If you really fucking love him, then you neet to stop hurting him. No more stalking, no more threats, no more pathetic Social Media posts. You need to move on. Let him move on.”

“I can’t.” Tony shakes his head in exasperation. “As long as he’s alive, I’ll never stop worrying where he is and who he's kissing."

She leans forward, eyes glowing dangerously. "Peter’s life isn’t any of your goddamn business, Tony. One more word about killing him and I'm killing you. It’s your own fucking fault you’re in pain. If you hadn’t treated him like a piece of shit, you wouldn’t be in this situation right now. You fucking deserve this.”

“Oh yeah?” Tony hisses, trying to keep calm. “In fact, I only wouldn’t be in this situation if I had continued to treat him like a piece of shit. I should have never let my fucking guard down and… humanized him. Then he wouldn’t have had a chance to escape.”

Nat snorts angrily. “He is a fucking human, Tony. And Peter bringing out the best in you isn’t the problem. The problem is that you’re too afraid to accept and act on it. Being good and kind isn't a weakness. Only believing that it is, is.”

“But… I even fucking tried, okay?" Fresh tears well up in Tony's eyes, so he quickly drops his head. "I tried to be kind to him. Not always, I admit, but… Shit. I thought we could actually… have a chance to make it work.” He lets out a broken laugh. “But it didn’t matter. The fucking brat didn’t even appreciate it.”

“He did,” Nat says, causing Tony’s head to shoot up so violently he’s afraid he strained a muscle. 

“What makes you think that?”

She hesitates, shifting in her seat. “Well… when I danced with him, he actually told me that you were kind and that he deserved it whenever you 'had to' punish him.”

For a second, Tony just stares at her, barely daring to hope. Could it be true? It would match with what Loki mentioned once… that Peter sounded honest about wanting to be good for Tony… 

“Did he sound sincere about that?" he asks eagerly," "Did you get the impression that he was broken after all? That he liked me, even?”

He’s probably radiating too much excitement because Nat sighs deeply, her lips curling into a bitter smile. “I don’t think so, Tony. I think he just… tried to accept his situation and make the best out of it. Besides, Peter told me he wasn’t gay, and that being sexual with a guy disgusted him. I don’t think you could've changed anything about that, even if you hadn’t hurt him. He never would have… loved you the way you say you love him.”

Tony visibly deflates, all his excitement gone in an instant. “I know he’s not… gay per se, but started to enjoy it when I- when we had sex. I know he did.”

“And how do you know he didn’t imagine someone else during? He actually talked to me about girls and strap-ons and stuff. Please, Tony… You need to let it go. Please.

Unable to keep the despair out of his voice, Tony croaks, "But… I can’t live without him.”

This time, Natasha looks at him full of sorrow and pity. “I’m afraid you have to.”

Later that night, when Tony’s tossing and turning alone in his bed, he thinks about ending things for the first time in many, many years. What's the purpose of living if he lost the only person he’s ever truly had any romantic feelings for? And… maybe it's just like Peter said… maybe there really isn't anyone who truly loves him. Maybe his friends really only put up with him because they're scared… 

Crying, Tony grabs his phone from the nightstand, playing the audio file he cut together from Peter’s TV interview. ‘I dream about you every day, sir. I love you.’ It’s full of odd pauses and so obviously fake, but it’s what Tony’s been holding onto. If only it was real.

Feeling an almost desperate need to make himself even more miserable, Tony opens Instagram. Now that he knows that all of Peter’s smiles on the island were fake, he can't look at the photos he took of him anymore. 

More tears are dripping from Tony's eyes as he’s scrolling through Peter's posts before the heist. He was such a happy boy once, despite fate being so cruel to him. But Tony destroyed that…

Not for the first time, Tony feels a pang of guilt surging through him, but it’s gone the second Tony opens Peter’s post from almost five weeks ago. Life is good… Pah! Life fucking sucks.

Fueled by anger, Tony makes a screenshot and zooms in as much as he can. Their lips are touching, there’s no denying it. Was it taken in Peter’s room? For the first time, Tony takes a closer look at the photo. He lets his eyes wander from the partly visible poster on the wall (Batman?) to the barely visible bedsheets (beige with white dots) and the balled up shirt lying on Peter's pillow. It’s of a dark blue, the hem of the short sleeve being red, and-

Within a second, Tony sits upright. No. It can’t be… can it? 

His heart is racing when he zooms in on the bundled shirt. There’s words printed on it, but it’s too pixelated to see properly. Only after enhancing the photo with an app Tony can make out the last six letters of what seems to be two lines of text. ‘ta run’ and ‘n walk’ … gotta run … can walk?

This can’t be a fucking coincidence. If this is what Tony thinks it is, then-

Like a scalded cat, Tony jumps up out of bed, rushing to his laptop. In less than five minutes, he’s found what he was looking for - an old photo of Rhodey and Tony, taken at Tony’s 38th birthday party. In the photo, Tony is wearing the present Rhodey got him - a custom-made shirt, quoting one of Tony’s many pearls of wisdom.

There’s no fucking doubt. Right there, lying on Peter’s pillow, is one of the shirts Tony left behind on the island. 

What the fuck is it doing there? He knows SHIELD took Peter back to the island, but why in the world did he take one of Tony’s shirts? Sure, Tony took Peter’s shirt with him as well, but that was because-

Oh. God. 

Holy. Fucking. Shit.

Shaking with adrenaline, Tony plugs one of his many harddrives in. Until now, the mere thought of watching those videos was too painful for him to handle, but now he doesn’t know what else to do.

 

The next three days, Tony spends almost every living moment looking at hundreds of hours of video footage of JARVIS’s cameras, analyzing Peter’s behavior towards him accurately. Even more interesting, however, are the videos he found of Peter quietly mumbling to himself, more than once bursting into heart-wrenching tears. 

‘So what if I enjoy it? He’s NOT going to break me, I don’t fucking know how often I’m supposed to tell you.’ - ‘I don’t LIKE him, I just… don’t mind him so much anymore.’ - ‘I’m already beating myself up over my feelings, I don’t fucking need you to shit on me as well. Just leave me the fuck alone.’

It almost seems like Peter lied during his interview after all. That fucking asshole Beck pushed Peter until he couldn’t take it any longer, knowing no other way out than to claim he’d been playing Tony from the beginning, when in reality, Tony did manage to break him. It just… wasn’t enough. 

Maybe it’s far fetched, and maybe it’s naive, but it’s enough to rekindle Tony’s spirit and his ambition to give it another try. And this time, he’s not gonna make the same mistakes again.

This time, he’s gonna break him for good.

Before another kidnapping, though, Tony needs to find out how deeply Peter’s still affected by his Stockholm. After all, it’s December now, and with Michelle digging her claws into his baby boy for the last couple of weeks, who knows if Peter's still struggling with conflicting feelings. 

In less than two days, Tony has come up with a new plan that might allow him to kill two birds with one stone. It's gonna require a lot of time and patience, and it might be risky, but the plan to do the heist was too. If by the end of it Tony has Peter back in his arms bed, it will be worth it. 

Having made his decision, Tony calls Happy again. "I need you to get me Pepper's new number."

His friend growls. "Tony… she fucking despises you. She won't-" 

"She still owes me one," Tony retorts. "Tell her I need her. Or more precisely, I need her connections to a bunch of very important institutions. And I need you to call your guy." 

“What guy?”

“The one you told me about.”

“Oh, him. He’s not my guy. He’s the friend of a friend of someone I work with. But… he's a killer, Tony. A fucking lunatic, for all I know.”

“You said he’d be perfect for what I had initially planned."

Happy sighs. “Yes, but things have changed. Peter’s one step further in the witness protection program. Even if he doesn’t have a new identity, only a handful of people will know where he lives."

Chuckling, Tony takes a sip of his wine. "I’m already working on that. Trust me, finding out where Peter is won't be the problem. Getting to him is."

"I’m afraid you underestimate how well protected he is,” Happy snorts, sounding irritated. “If I didn’t get myself that fake journalist pass, they wouldn’t even have allowed me to stand on the fucking sidewalk.”

"I never said this will be easy," Tony says, putting the glass down to pull up his favorite photo of Peter on his laptop. Sometime next year, he’ll be looking into his puppy eyes again. Feeling a sudden need, Tony carefully reaches down to his cock. "But instead of focusing on the problems that arise with Peter’s protection, I'm focusing on the options it provides."

"What do you mean?" Happy asks dumbfounded. 

Smirking, Tony wraps his fingers around his shaft, profoundly relieved when it slowly hardens. He's back in the game.  

"Sometimes you gotta run before you can walk."

Chapter Text

“You really don’t have to do this, Peter. They’ll understand if you’re not ready for it.”

Peter flashes MJ a thankful smile. “Thank you, but I can’t avoid them forever. Also, it's been two months since you added me to the group chat.”

Nodding proudly, the girl logs into the Skype client they installed on Peter’s laptop. After texting with his old schoolmates for almost eight weeks, he feels - more or less - ready to take the next step and join a video group call Michelle organized. He’s grateful for the idea because it’s no doubt less stressful than seeing them in person for the first time.

And yet, he’s still shaking a bit when Michelle connects to the session. She seems to notice it because she suddenly takes his hand, giving it a comforting squeeze. After a few seconds of waiting, a bunch of small windows appear on the screen, showing Ned, Betty, Brad, Flash, Zora, Yasmin, Zack and Jason. Peter’s heart leaps into his throat, but it’s too late to back out now without making it awkward.

Different variations for “Heey” sound from the speaker, and Zora and Yasmin are happily waving into the camera. 

“Hey guys,” Michelle says, giving Peter’s hand another reassuring squeeze.

“Um… h-hi,” he stutters, hating how high-pitched his voice sounds.

For a second, everyone's awkwardly quiet, but then Ned takes matters into his hand. “You didn’t say anything about meeting at Peter’s, MJ,” he jokes.

The girl smiles sheepishly. “Yeah, sorry, change of plans. May and Peter made Tacos, and you know that’s my weakness. Peter, how many did I eat?”

It’s obvious his friends are trying to help break the ice, and Peter’s very grateful for it. “Um… Three, I think?” He’s relieved to find that his voice is already losing the frantic pitch.

“I think it was five. But thanks for trying to not make me look like a gutton.”

At this, the whole chat breaks into laughter, including Peter. It seems to give Betty enough confidence to address him. “How are you doing, Peter?”

He blushes a bit when he realizes that everyone’s looking at him. “I’m… okay.” In therapy, he learned to be more honest about his feelings, so he stopped saying that he was ‘good’ all the time when it couldn’t be any further from the truth. “Really. There are bad days and… better days. Today’s a better day.” He smiles when MJ gently strokes over the palm of his hand with her thumb. “How, um… how are you guys?”

For a few minutes, he listens to some of his schoolmates complaining about the shit ton of work their teachers loaded onto them. Eventually, Zack asks how far Peter has come with his school stuff. 

“I started like… a month ago, I think? I’m caught up with most things from last semester, so I expect to be caught up with everything, including this semester, in the next couple of weeks.”

Some of his friends raise their brows in awe. “Really? Wow, that’s pretty impressive. Does that mean you’re gonna come back soon?” Zora asks, sounding genuinely excited.

“Maybe. If I pass midterms in January they'll let me come back for the last term. But it also… depends on how I’m doing. Going back is… a lot.”

As Zora nods understandingly, Jason asks Peter whether this means he won't drop by to retake his SATs in December. 

“No," he says, blushing a bit. "I took them two weeks before the heist and um, already got the highest score in the first run.”

With a score that high, Peter’s positive he’ll be accepted into one of the colleges he’s going to apply for and maybe - hopefully! - even qualify for a scholarship. Question remains whether he will be mentally stable enough to go to college, though. And with Tony and the Avengers still lurking out there somewhere, safety is another important issue, of course... 

But first thing’s first. One step at a time.

Luckily, he hasn’t heard anything from Tony since the short pissing match he had with Michelle, which ended in Michelle getting police protection for almost a month and Peter suffering a panic attack. Even though he deeply admires her for how she handled the situation, he wishes she hadn’t been so bold. His stomach still clenches in fear when he thinks about what Tony would do to her if he ever got his hands on her. 

Peter doesn’t want to jinx it, but deep down, he sincerely hopes that Tony’s given up. Without SHIELD, the media or Tony bothering him anymore, Peter finally found the strength and time to focus on getting better. He’s made a lot of progress in therapy in the last five weeks, and although there’s still days when Peter misses Tony a bit, he’s starting to see things more clearly. 

Yet, Peter can’t help falling into old habits occasionally. For example, he almost died of shame when May came home from her first day back at work after a six week break, only to discover that he hadn’t eaten anything the whole day. At first, she was just irritated, thinking Peter had forgotten because of all the school work he was doing. But then, Peter made the mistake of admitting that he didn’t know he was allowed to eat anything without her permission, making her cry for twenty minutes straight. He had a hard time persuading her that it wasn’t a mistake to go back to work. 

“Why am I not surprised you got the highest SAT score right away?” Flash smiles, speaking for the first time since the video call started. Now that Peter’s thinking of it, it’s also the first time Flash has ever truly smiled at him. “You’ve always been the smartest in class, and I’m saying this without envy.”

Once more, Peter’s cheeks heat up. Coming from Flash, that’s a lot. Especially after what happened at the bank… “Wow, that’s- Thank you, Flash.”

For a few seconds, everyone falls quiet again. Then Betty asks, “Michelle mentioned you went climbing last week?”

“Yeah, at an indoor wall. Not… at a mountain,” Peter says, causing everyone to chuckle. His blush turns deeper. “Y-Yeah, um. We've gone twice now and it’s really- it’s really fun. It’s quite a challenge though, because despite my cast being gone, my arm isn’t fully healed yet. And my leg and some of my fingers have been giving me problems ever since I, um, I got shot a few months ago, but I completely trust Michelle not to let me fall.”

It shows how comfortable they’re both around each other again when Michelle turns his head to flash him a teasing grin. “You sure about that? You ate up all my Doritos yesterday. This means war.”

“Hey, you heard what the doctor said,” Peter pouts, adoring the way she’s looking at him. “I need to gain weight.”

“Pretty sure he didn't tell you to eat my Doritos.” 

Laughing, Peter shakes his head before telling his friends more about climbing, relieved how easy and normal talking to them suddenly feels. Or maybe it’s because he finally has something he’s happy to chat about. Climbing really is fun, even though Peter was scared and intimidated when Jane suggested the idea first. 

“It will help you learn how to trust again,” she had said, “It’s similar to trust falls, but due to the height, it feels like there's more at stake, so to speak. It will be scary when you climb up for the first time, but once you realize that there’s actually someone down there you can rely on, someone who will keep you safe and prevent you from falling, it will make you feel more confident and secure.”

Although he recognized that it was a perfect metaphor, Peter had his doubts that it would work, especially when he found himself at the top of a beginner’s wall, thirty feet up, holding onto the bolt-on climbing holds for dear life.

It took him a lot of effort to actually let go. But May - under the supervision of Sharon, who instructed and assisted them instead of a climbing hall employee Peter wouldn’t have felt comfortable around - safely lowered him down, preventing him from falling and breaking his neck.

When Peter’s shaking legs touched the ground again, he pulled his aunt into a long hug, overwhelmed with a vast array of emotions - affection, trust, pride, happiness... 

It was such a great experience that Peter and MJ went a second time last week. It was the first time that Peter went outside without May, and even though Sharon and his two bodyguards were there with them, Peter almost felt like a normal teenager for once. If only there hadn’t been any other people in the hall, gaping at him as though he was an alien...

“That sounds like so much fun,” Yasmin says excitedly. “We should all do it together one day. I’ve also wanted to try bouldering for a while.”

Reminding himself to be honest, Peter cautiously says, “Yeah, sure… In a few weeks, I might be ready to join you guys.”

It’s Brad of all people who reassures him. “No worries, man. Take your time, we’re not gonna do it without you.” When Peter flashes him a thankful smile, he returns it. It warms his heart that Brad isn't spiteful about Michelle being with Peter again. “Anyways, how have you settled in? Do you like your new place?”

“Yeah, we’ve been here for… um…” Peter glances at the time and date in the bottom right corner of his screen, “four weeks now. I’m not allowed to say much, but it’s a modern apartment with some additional security gadgets. May doesn’t even want to imagine what the rent would cost.”

“If it’s an apartment, does that mean you have neighbors?” Betty asks, astonished. 

“Yeah, but the people who live here know that there’s a few units in this building being used for the witness protection program. There are apartments like this all over the US. Almost a hundred are here in New York alone, and barely anyone knows about it. Our other option would have been a small house out in the countryside, but that would actually be less secure, considering we’re keeping our identities and still want to go to work and school, eventually.”

“But isn’t that dangerous for your neighbors?” Flash raises his brows. “No offense, but I doubt my parents would agree to have people from the program in our building. I mean, ninety-five percent of all the people in the program are criminals themselves, who could be protected from violent clans or gangs or… the mafia, even. Or terrorists. Who says they wouldn’t just start shooting or… take neighbors hostage as leverage?”

Peter shifts in his seat. “That’s exactly what I was thinking,” he admits. “But SHIELD explained it to me. Normally, the guys chasing after the protected don’t want to kill others. They want to kill the protected. Gunning down others or taking them hostage would only alert the protected and their guards. The government thinks that having more people around gives the protected more security.”

Betty gasps. “So they see them as human shields?”

“No no.” Peter quickly shakes his head, blushing again. “Not at all. They even think they’re safer in general because of all the guards being around and stuff. And… history proves them right. There hasn’t been one incident in New York regarding witnesses living in larger buildings, which can’t be said about the ones hiding in a secluded area. In my case, they think there’s even a lesser chance of someone trying to attack me while I'm home. I mean… I already told the authorities everything. Killing me wouldn’t help the Avengers - it would be a personal thing. It’s pretty unlikely they would risk getting caught or killed just to have a small chance of getting to me in my super secure apartment. If anything, they’ll try to get me when I’m outside.”

“Can we talk about something else, please?” MJ mumbles fearfully, her voice trembling ever so slightly. Despite always acting tough nowadays, Peter knows that the thought of losing him again is scaring her. 

Meeting her request, Ned takes over, starting a conversation about one of the blockbusters currently running in theaters. After about fifteen more minutes, Zack excuses himself, so they decide to end the call. They set another date for next week and Peter finds that he’s actually looking forward to it already.

“Do you have to go already or do you want to watch a movie?” Peter asks Michelle, who smiles brightly. “Sure. I told my mom I won’t be back before nine, so...”

“Sweet.”

Minutes later, they’re huddled together on Peter’s bed. Feeling spurred and confident from having an actual conversation with someone who's not May, MJ, Ned, Jane or Sharon, Peter leans in to kiss her after only ten minutes, concentrating on breathing calmly.

Giving each other quick kisses to say hello or goodbye, even sneaking short kisses while hanging out, has become quite a routine between them; making out in bed, however, hasn’t. The first - and last - time they tried to make out was three weeks ago, and it ended with Peter getting a panic attack as soon as Michelle started using her tongue.

But today, Peter’s the one taking the initiative, slowly licking over her closed lips. The girl hesitates for only a second before she parts her lips, allowing their tongues to dance around each other for a while. When Peter feels safe enough, he carefully rolls on top of her, breaking the kiss for only a second to look into her sparkling, warm eyes.

“Are you-” she starts, brows furrowed in worry. But Peter cuts her off by diving in for another kiss, one even more fierce than the one from before. Yet, Peter still tenses when the fingers of Michelle’s right hand slide under his shirt. Trying to ignore the anxiety crawling up his spine, Peter concentrates on the pleasant, slightly ticklish feeling of her fingertips grazing over his skin. 

Everything’s okay. She’s not going to hurt him. 

Peter shifts a bit until he’s able to squeeze his right hand between their bodies, slowly moving them done to palm Tony’s-

Wait.  

This is Michelle.

Michelle doesn’t have a cock, she has-

Oh god.

Peter can’t just reach down there and fumble for her-

What in the world the fuck was he thinking?!

As if stung by a bee, Peter quickly moves his hand away from the region around her crotch, hoping that she didn’t notice what he'd almost tried to do. To explain his movement, he puts his hand on her clothed hip and slowly moves it up to her waist.

Peter keeps it there for a few seconds, but then Michelle takes his hand and moves it even further up. When his fingers touch her clothed left breast, she gives his hand a squeeze, signalling her consent. The only time Peter has ever touched a tit before was one day before the heist. He breathes out a relieved breath when his half-hard cock twitches just as excitedly as it did back then. He’s still into this.

Encouraged, Peter carefully grinds his hips down, moaning quietly at the friction. His hand now cups Michelle’s breast, and he catches himself wishing that the fucking shirt and bra would dissolve. Humming into the kiss, Michelle moves the hand still resting on Peter’s back further down, stopping once it touches the hem of his jeans. When he doesn’t protest, her fingers slowly slip beneath the hem, causing Peter to tense again.

Relax. Everything’s fine.

The hand moves over the fabric of Peter’s boxers to his bottom, giving his right ass cheek a soft squeeze. When Peter’s breathing becomes more ragged, he can’t even tell whether it’s from arousal or from the anxiety engulfing him like fire.

She won’t hurt you. She’s not Tony. She… she...

‘Look at you… such a needy little slut’

With a choked up cry, Peter tries to lift himself up. “S-Stop, please, I- I can’t-” When Michelle’s hand gets stuck in his jeans, he starts to panic, thrashing around wildly to get away from her. 

“Hold still, Peter, please, I-”

She cries out in pain when he accidentally knees her into the gut. A few moments later, Peter finally manages to get away, flinging himself out of bed where he lands hard on his ass. They’re both breathing heavily as they’re staring at each other, tears of pain and shock running from their eyes.

“I… I’m s-so fucking sorry, I… I didn’t want to- I didn’t mean-” Peter stumbles through his words, feeling ashamed, desperate and fucking guilty. “D-Did I hurt you?”

“It’s fine,” Michelle mumbles, looking at him warily. “What… was it this time?”

They both know what she actually means. What triggered you? Swallowing thickly, Peter tries to calm down. “I think… I think when you… t-touched my bottom.”

She nods, letting out a long sigh. “Shit, I’m sorry, I thought… I thought you’d- I mean, you were so… initiative and… I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have done that.”

“No… nonono, you didn’t- You shouldn’t apologize. Please… I was really- I thought I could do this but… I- I guess I need more time.”

“Sure. No problem, Peter. Please don’t worry about it.” She smiles, but it looks a little stiff. “Should we just… go back to watching the movie?”

Both of them continue to be a little tense for the rest of the evening, but when Michelle leaves, she pulls him into a tight hug. “It was still nice,” she whispers into his ear before kissing his cheek. “Please don’t beat yourself up over it.”

But it's exactly what Peter ends up doing.

An hour later, he sits on his windowsill in his pajama bottoms and one of Tony’s shirts, looking down at the bright dots worming their way through the ever busy streets around Queens Plaza, lost in thought. From up here, the 15th floor of a thirty-storied skyscraper, everything looks so… small and insignificant. 

Although they’ve been living here for four weeks now, Peter has barely seen anything of the neighborhood, let alone the building itself. Security measures are high - the ‘witness apartments’ have their own elevator, which can only be operated after entering an individualized secret code that changes once a day. Peter and May don’t even know the codes for their own apartment; the only people who do are the Marshals assigned to protect them for the day and the guy guarding the elevator, who all visitors have to get by first.

Since Peter gets driven everywhere by his guards, he has only entered the elevator via the garage so far. There’s no separate guard stationed down there, but the witnesses have their own parking space in a separate area requiring yet another code to gain access to. And last but not least, there’s cameras everywhere - in and around the entrances, in and outside of the elevators, the hallways, the garage…

It’s a little much, but Peter and May are very thankful for the protection. After all, if they know one thing, it’s that the Avengers aren’t to be underestimated. They executed the biggest heist in history, and if it weren’t for Peter, they would probably still be chilling on their fucking island right now without anyone knowing any of their identities.

Feeling oddly sentimental, Peter's thoughts wanders to Tony, wondering what he might be doing right now. 

Working on JARVIS or his arc reactors?

Playing poker with Rhodey? 

Fucking Steve?

Irritated with himself for thinking about Tony yet again, Peter tries to focus on Michelle. He feels so fucking awful for kicking her, but he just… panicked. 

He knows that Jane always tells him to face and confront his fears instead of hiding from them, but Peter has no fucking idea what his fear is. What is he so scared of? It can’t be Michelle per se, because almost the same thing happened during his first - and only - attempt of jerking off two weeks ago. It ended in Peter hyperventilating because he wasn’t able to get Tony out of his fucking head.  

Sighing, Peter slips from the windowsill and lays down in bed, still lost in thought. How come he managed to stop being scared of Tony touching him, but starts panicking as soon as Michelle - or himself - does? It sounds far-fetched, but maybe it’s a mistake to try and get Tony out of his head… After all, when has trying to not think about something ever worked? So, maybe instead of acting as though Tony doesn’t exist, Peter should try to accept that Tony’s living in his head rent free?

He knows Tony isn’t really here. He knows he can’t hurt him again. And thinking of him won’t suddenly make him appear out of thin air, so… It’s worth a shot, right? 

After taking a deep breath, Peter closes his eyes and reaches down to his crotch. He has to give it another try. He’s a 17-year-old boy who got used to having sex once or twice a day, for Christ’s sake, and now it’s been ten fucking weeks since he’s last had an orgasm. His balls are starting to feel uncomfortably ‘blue’...

As expected, Peter has barely begun to palm his dick when Tony starts whispering into his ear. “You’re such a nasty slut. Touching yourself without my permission… Do you really want me to punish you, baby boy?”

Tony’s quiet, cold voice leaves goosebumps all over Peter’s skin. “N-No, sir, I… I want you to touch me. Please.” His face flushes with shame when his cock gets hard, even more so when he imagines Tony’s hand instead of his own. 

When a quiet moan escapes his lips, Peter stops in his tracks, terrified. What the fuck is he doing? This is so wrong. Tears gather in the corners of his eyes when he turns around, being thoroughly disgusted by himself. But to his horror, his erection doesn’t seem to be in the mood to vanish. And neither does Tony. "There’s no shame in admitting how much you miss me, slut. Come on, admit it…  Admit you miss my hands, my mouth… my cock…"

This was a mistake. “G-Go to hell. I don't miss anything about you. Please, just… just leave me alone.”

Tony sneers. “Do you think I give a single fuck about what you want?” Peter’s only vaguely aware of his hand slipping back inside his pants, wrapping around his erection. You started this. You wanted me here, it was your choice… And now I’m gonna make you cum, whether you like it or not.”

Unable to hold back his tears any longer, Peter buries his face in the pillow. His hand starts moving up and down his cock, sending waves of tingling pleasure through him. Soon enough, he’s dripping like a broken faucet, barely able to silence his moans anymore. 

“Look at you… so needy… so desperate…” Tony cooes, his breath tickling on Peter’s skin. “I’m going to fucking destroy you.”

Peter gasps when Tony’s hand gives his nipple a rough squeeze - his breathing becomes more ragged. “S-Sir, can I… can I please cum, sir?”

“Hm… I’m not so sure… Have you been good today, Peter?”

“I… Yes, sir, I’ve been very good. I made Tacos and cleaned the kitchen and… the bath earlier.”

“Aw… such a good boy indeed… I think you deserve to cum. Come on, baby… cum for me.” Chuckling silently, Tony sinks his teeth into the flash of Peter’s neck. Shuddering, Peter’s hips jerk forward, and before he knows it, he’s cuming with an embarrassingly loud moan, ruining his pajama bottoms.

Dear. god.

Seems like he’s back in the game.

A game Peter can’t seem to win, no matter how hard he tries.

 

Chapter Text

For the next couple of days, Peter can’t even look at himself in the mirror, feeling way too ashamed, disgusted and besmirched by what he did. Wondering what Jane will say about recent developments, Peter both dreads and eagerly awaits his next therapy session on Tuesday.

Although it’s become quite easy to talk to her (at least whenever they don't talk about any of the abuse Tony inflicted on him), it still takes Peter a lot of effort telling her about his panicked reaction when he was making out with MJ. 

“I just… I just don’t understand,” Peter says despondently. “I wanted this. She didn't pressure me into making out. I took the initiative.”

For the last couple of minutes, Jane was listening patiently. Now that Peter’s finished, she flashes him a soft smile. “It’s very reasonable you’re dissociating and experiencing flashbacks, Peter. Your mind associates sex with pain and shame, so you first need to learn that sex is nothing to be scared of. If you have sex with someone you trust and who respects your wishes, it’s a wonderful thing.”

Peter nods absentmindedly. Provided that Tony was careful and not purely egoistic, getting fucked and touched had the potential of being at least physically satisfying. “But... I don’t understand how I eventually managed to stay calm when I got... r-raped, but freak out now whenever my girlfriend, who I love, tries to touch me.”

“Because Tony is the only person you’ve ever been so close to, physically,” Jane explains, tilting her head to the side. “Even though he mistreated you most of the time, he was familiar to you. You knew what to expect from him, and you knew what he expected from you. With Michelle, however, everything is new and different and scary.” 

Knowing that they won’t make a lot of progress if Peter keeps vital information from Jane, he gathers all his courage and tells her about his despicable actions Friday night. He hasn’t been so embarrassed since he told her about the cockwarming. When he’s finally finished, he’s in tears. 

“Who w-would imagine getting t-touched by their rapist instead of their girlfriend?” he sobs, grabbing a tissue. “Like… D-Does this mean that I… want to get humiliated and controlled?"

Jane leans back, crossing her legs. “I don’t know. Do you?”

When Peter gapes at her stupidly, she raises her eyebrows expectantly. Maybe she has a point - Only Peter himself can know what turns him on and what doesn’t. 

“I… n-no, I-“ Peter stutters, scrunching up his face. “I don’t think so. Who would want to be hurt, controlled and humiliated?”

“Quite a few people, actually,” Jane says, smiling even more softly. “It might sound weird to you, but many people consent to be treated like that, or even pay someone else to do these things to them. This doesn't mean they want to be abused without their consent, of course. Nobody who participates in a rape roleplay or has rape fantasies, for example, actually wants to be raped. It's very important to understand the difference. The rules need to be carefully negotiated beforehand.”

Feeling stupid, Peter remembers the kinky porn videos Tony sometimes made him watch. The actors probably were into it at least a little bit, right? “Well… yeah, but… why? Isn’t there something wrong with these people?”

Jane patiently shakes her head. “No, Peter. It would be completely wrong to assume that everyone who’s into rough sex, roleplay or BDSM has any kind of mental issues or complexes. For some of them, it might be a way of coping, but in most cases, sexual fantasies or preferences are developed without any particular reason. If you think you are into some of the things Tony did to you - consent provided - that's nothing to be ashamed of.”

For some reason, Peter suddenly sees himself laying on Tony’s lap, getting spanked. His face flushes with shame when he remembers that it did make him feel some kind of pleasure, despite the humiliation and the pain that came with it. However, he can’t imagine asking Michelle - or anyone else - to do it to him. And it’s the only exception. Apart from this and some… biting or pinching here and there, he neither enjoyed getting humiliated, nor getting hurt.

“I… don't think I am. Mostly, I only managed to enjoy it somewhat when Tony was gentle and… when he actually tried to make me feel good,” Peter says hesitantly. “Which is why I don’t understand that I fantasized about him mocking me then.”

“Because you are, excuse me for saying this, used to being hurt, controlled and humiliated,” Jane says sympathetically. “Somewhere deep down, you expect to be treated badly. And correct me if I’m wrong, but I assume you even think that you deserve to be treated like this.” 

When Peter doesn’t protest, she continues, her voice warm and unaccusing. “You were only given a chance to feel good when Tony allowed it. He conditioned you into thinking you need his permission to feel pleasure, so it’s no wonder you tend to freak out or feel guilty without it.”

”But I didn’t freak out when I touched myself on Friday, despite him being as awful and threatening as always,” Peter protests. He shifts in his seat, fidgeting. “What was different, this time?”

“The difference was that you allowed Tony to be there,” Jane explains. “You didn’t just happen to think of him - it was your choice. To a certain extent, you reclaimed control over what was happening, and got his permission, so to speak. If it helps you, there’s nothing wrong with it per se. But you still need to understand that you are free. You don’t need Tony’s permission for anything anymore.”

At first, Peter thinks this doesn’t make any sense. But then, he realizes that she has a point. “I see… But I’d still rather jerk off to the idea of making out with my girlfriend than… to the idea of him abusing me. I… I don’t want to see, hear or feel him when I’m kissing her. Can we work on that, please?” 

Jane smiles encouragingly. “Of course, but you need to be patient, Peter. It takes time for victims of sexual abuse to regain enough trust and confidence to get intimate with someone without experiencing any flashbacks to their abuser, but I'm sure you'll get there. You’ve made so much progress in the last two months… Think back to our first session. Back then, you weren’t even able to hug Michelle, not to mention kissing her. And now, we’re already talking about you two making out. That’s a huge step.”

Jane then suggests asking Michelle to join them for one of the upcoming sessions. “It’s important you’re honest with each other and talk about these things openly. She needs to understand what’s going on inside your head.” 

 

It takes Peter a few days to find the courage to ask Michelle about joining them. The opportunity presents itself on Saturday during their next climbing date. He waits until Sharon goes to sit on the side to chat with Hunter and Williams, Peter’s bodyguards, giving them some space.

“Hey, um… Jane asked me to ask you whether you’d… want to join us for a session next week, maybe.” Nervously, Peter shifts from one foot to the other, almost hoping she’ll decline. “She wants to talk to the both of us about… last Friday.”

Michelle’s eyes widen in surprise. She lowers the water bottle she’s been drinking from, swallowing before nodding. “Yeah, sure… If you think it helps, then I’ll gladly join you guys.”

“You aren’t upset that I, um…” Peter nervously glances around, not wanting to risk one of the climbers nearby eavesdropping on them, “told her about what happened last week?”

“Not at all,” she says insistently. “I’m actually very impressed that you did. I know it’s not easy to talk about these things, but it’s so, so important that you do, and I really want to support you with it. Which is hard if I don’t even know what I’m doing wrong.”

“You’re not doing anything wrong.” Appalled, Peter shakes his head. “You’re amazing, Michelle.”

“Oh, shut up,” she giggles, blushing a bit as she leans forward to steal a quick kiss. “I’m only half as amazing as you.” 

Now it’s Peter’s turn to blush. “Yeah, yeah. Um. Is it your turn of mine?”

“Yours,” Michelle grins, checking the carabiners. “Unless you don’t want to climb anymore?”

“No no, I’ll go up. Gotta try the yellow one again…”

She winks at him. “Get it, tiger.”

Hissing and groaning, Peter pulls himself up, trying to ignore the throbbing pain in his left arm and the severe trembling and twitching of his damaged fingers. This route is so much harder than it looks… Eventually, he reaches the point where he gave up twenty minutes earlier. “Brace yourself,” he alerts Michelle. “I might fall.”

“No worries, I got you.”

Taking a deep breath, Peter plucks up all his courage and jumps, stretching his right arm to reach that one bolt-on hold that’s just a tiny bit out of reach-

His heart leaps into his throat when he doesn’t manage to get a proper grasp on it, dropping about thirty inches before the tight rope keeps him from falling any further. “Fuck,” he groans, throwing back his head. “That was so close.”

“Want to try again?” Michelle yells from the bottom, only starting to lower him down once Peter shakes his head. 

“Not today… my arm is killing me.” When his feet touch the ground, Peter’s mouth forms into a pout. “I swear, I grazed it with my fingertips.”

Laughing at his sullen face, Michelle unhooks the rope. “Next time, you’ll succeed.”

They take a five minute break before changing positions. Michelle doesn’t experience any big problems with the green route she chooses, so she tries the yellow one next - the one Peter failed twice. Pouting, he watches her reach for the tricky hold, trying to swallow his annoyance when she turns out to be tall enough for it. She’s only like… what, two inches taller than him? That’s no-

Peter’s distracted by a tingling feeling sending a shiver down his spine. Instinctively, he turns his head to his right, noticing a girl in her 20s with her partner standing a few yards away, looking right into his direction. Caught in the act, the girl quickly lowers her phone and turns around, urging her partner to do the same.

Heart beating faster, Peter turns his attention back to Michelle, scolding himself for getting distracted. Thankfully, Michelle didn’t need his help; in fact, she’s just reached the top, smiling gleefully when she asks Peter to lower her down.

“Aw, now don’t be sulky,” she grins when her feet touch ground. “Don’t forget, I have the advantage of not struggling with an arm injury.”

“It’s not that,” Peter mumbles, unobtrusively nodding his head to the right. “I think that couple over there took a photo of me."

Frowning, Michelle turns to look at them. "Are you sure? Has this happened before?" 

"Well… no, but it's not like I go out a lot." 

"Should I go over and tell them to mind their own fucking business?” she asks, voice shaking with anger. “I really don't mind causing a scene." 

"No, don't bother, please,” Peter shrugs his shoulders. A scene is the last thing he wants. “Let's just… have fun, okay?" 

"All right. But if they do it again, then woe betide them."

They decide to try a different wall a little further away from the couple. They keep on climbing for ten more minutes until Sharon and the Marshals run up to them.

“Grab your things, we have to go," Sharon says, looking flustered. 

“What?” Michelle, who just started climbing again, stops dead in her tracks. “Why?”

“No time to explain. Come on.”

Peter’s stomach clenches in fear. What’s going on?

Sharon doesn't allow them to go and change, urging them to slip into their jackets while still in their sweat-soaked clothes. As they’re hurrying out of the hall, Sharon's glancing around nervously, whereas Hunter and Williams are resting their hand on their holster. 

Only once they’re savely seated in the car, Peter dares to ask what’s going on. “D-Did something happen to May?”

“No, but we’re getting her from the hospital, just in case,” Sharon says to Peter’s left. “Stark made a new post.”

Gasping, Peter and Michelle take out their phones, calling up Tony’s website. Indeed, there is a new post, the first one after seven weeks. Apposite to the first week of December, his text begins with… Christmas emojis. What the hell?

~~🎅🎄🎁🤶~~

Christmas

The most wonderful time of the year.

I shamelessly admit that I spent the last couple of weeks drinking, fucking, and enjoying my life as a millionaire, but deep down, I know this isn’t how a calm, affectionate and proud Christian like me should be behaving. So I decided to channel my inner Christmas spirit and start giving back, for once, and help those in need.

I admit this is not completely selfless, though. I’m in need as well. 

More precisely, I'm in desperate need of new jerk-off material, and I sincerely hope some of you can find it in yourselves to lend me a hand (figuratively speaking…).

Bummer, right? Pretty sure you didn’t see that one cumming.  

But enough beating around the bush - I’m offering 1,000 dollars for every recent photo of Peter Parker uploaded here. This will be completely anonymous. You just need to enter a valid PayPal or BitCoin address. And that’s not all: a bonus prize in the form of 100,000 dollars will be raffled off amongst all participants until the last of the month.

Any photo of him is worth sending. If he leaves his home, I want to know. If he goes out to eat, I want to know. If he goes to the movies, I want to know. If he goes into a bathroom to take a fucking piss, I want to- Well, I'm sure you got the gist. 

Thank you, happy posting, and

Merry fucking Christmas! 

~~🎅🎄🎁🤶~~

Peter needs to read the whole thing thrice before he’s finally able to accept the terrible truth. Tony isn’t done with him. The photo Peter and Michelle posted didn’t actually scare him away. Tony’s still as insane, unforgiving and dangerously sarcastic as ever. 

Guess that's what he gets for fantasizing about Tony… 

Horrified, he glances at Michelle on his right; her eyes are widened fearfully. “W-Why is he doing this?” she asks, voice quivering.

Peter’s throat feels dry. “He wants to know where we live,” he croaks. “He must have realized we moved.”

“Maybe, but… that’s not really what I’m concerned about,” Sharon says, slowly shaking her head. “Only about a dozen people know where you live. Not even your neighbors do. And even if he found out, he wouldn't be able to get to you. So… I think he rather wants to know where you are.”

“To strike when you’re out and about,” Williams dryly adds from the driver seat, glancing at Peter via the rearview mirror. Thanks, Mr. Williams.  

Full of fear, Peter looks at Sharon. “What happens now?”

“We’ll talk about it once we’re back in the apartment,” Sharon says. “Michelle, I’m sorry, but we’ll have to drive you home. What we talk about has to stay confidential, at least for the time being.”

Forty-five minutes later, Peter and May are sitting in their apartment opposite of Fury and Michael Peterson from the US Marshals Service. It’s only the third time they’re meeting with Peterson, a man as matter-of-factly as Fury, but nowhere near as cold. They explain that they’re temporarily raising the security level from two to four, meaning that the apartment would be guarded by three agents at all times.

“We’ll also provide more bodyguards to ensure your safety,” Peterson says. “Peter’s going to be accompanied by four agents instead of two whenever he leaves the apartment. I hate to say it, but level three and four also come with a curfew - Peter, you ought to stay inside between 8 pm and 6 am.”

“What about work?” May asks, distraught, her fingers intertwined with Peter’s trembling hand. “I sometimes get home after eight. I can’t leave them hanging again, especially not during pre-Christmas season, or they might fire me.”

Nodding understandingly, Peterson reassures her, “Since you aren’t directly affected by this, the curfew doesn’t apply to you, but for now, you will be provided with a bodyguard when you go out as well. However, we sincerely advise you to stay at home as much as possible until we know what Stark’s really up to. I personally have high hopes that people won’t participate in this… manhunt.”

Crestfallen, Peter tells them about the couple taking a photo of him in the climbing hall. “I’m sure they’re not gonna be the only one one trying to get their hands on the money.”

May almost loses it. “W-Wait, so he might know you were there?” Panicking, she looks from Peter, to Fury, to Peterson, to Sharon. “What if someone followed you back home? When will we get those additional guards? Can’t we get more? How are they supposed to protect us if the Avengers know where we are? Please, you need to p-protect Peter, please.” 

She’s bursting into tears, sobbing hysterically when Peter wraps his arm around her, trying to calm her down. He has no idea why he’s not losing it as well. It’s just… Something doesn’t quite add up.

“Don’t worry, Mrs. Parker,” Peterson says, flashing her a somewhat soothing smile. “You’re in good hands. I spoke to Director Rumlow himself. He personally approved these guys, and I know most of them myself. They’re the best of the best.”

An hour later, two more men join the one already keeping guard outside of their apartment. Only now, Peterson, Fury and Sharon leave, assuring them they can always give them a call.

After hugging Sharon goodbye, Peter and May are on their own, flashing each other nervous glances.

“Um… do you want me to make dinner?” Peter offers, assuming May won’t really be in the mood to cook today. Besides, thanks to all the meals he had to prepare for Tony, Peter has become a quite decent cook - in marked contrast to May.

As always, May’s reluctant to let him do all the work, though. “No, honey. Thank you, but we still have some oven-ready lasagne, I think. I’ll get to it right away, I just… need a minute.”

Sniffling, she retreats to the bathroom, so Peter goes to his own room to facetime Michelle and Ned. Whereas Michelle’s still flustered about the post, Ned’s already working on ideas to strike back. “I see this as the perfect invitation to spam him with pictures of my ass. Bet he’s gonna regret making that post soon enough.”

Peter can’t help but snort. “That’s really… sweet of you, but I don’t think provoking him is a good idea. I admit that it looked like that selfie MJ and me posted helped, but… for all we know, it could have been exactly what he wanted. He’s always a step ahead of everyone else, Ned. Trust me.”

“It doesn’t seem like he actually thought this through, though,” Ned insists, narrowing his eyes to slits. “Think about it. If people spam him with crap, how is he gonna find the pics actually showing you?”

Slightly irritated, Peter shakes his head. “His AI can evaluate human behavior and emotions, Ned. It’s gonna be a piece of cake for JARVIS to scan those entries for pictures of my face.”

“Well, maybe, but even if someone managed to snap a picture of you in the supermarket or wherever, it’s gonna take a while for them to upload it and for Stark or his AI to find it. I bet some of those people even have to set up a PayPal account or a BitCoin wallet. You’ll be gone by the time he sees it.”

If only it were so easy... “He’ll still see who I’m hanging out with and where I like to go. I admit that this doesn’t make a lot of sense, but people are still gonna try to take pictures of me, especially if he really pays them. I just… have to stay on the low, for now, and hope that it backfires on him.”

“Does this mean we won’t be able to see each other for a while?” Michelle asks, sounding disheartened.

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “Depends on how long they’ll keep us on security level four. Might not be too long, though. Peterson said his boss ordered it despite there being no signs that someone actually knows where we live. But better be safe than sorry, I guess.”

For the rest of the weekend, May and Peter stay at home. Some media sites are running stories about Tony's post (The Daily Bugle is once again leading the way), but to Peter, it almost looks as though the public interest in his case is slowly starting to fade. At least for as long as there aren’t new, scandalous revelations, probably...

Peter’s friends, on the other hand, quickly start a new Social Media campaign, challenging their friends and followers to spam Tony with crap. Even though Peter still has his doubts that it will cause Tony to take the post down, it’s better than doing nothing, he assumes. 

Despite fearing to lose her job, May calls in sick for the following week. She doesn’t speak it out loud, but Peter knows it’s less about her being afraid to go outside and more about leaving Peter home alone. 

This proves true when, on Monday, she asks Peter if he’s okay with her going to the grocery store. “But I can stay home and order online, if you-”

“May, please… you don’t have to worry about me. There are three hunks with weapons standing right outside the door. I’ll be fine.”

Peter’s lingering on the couch when the doorbell rings, signaling the arrival of May’s bodyguard. From this angle, he can’t see who’s standing on the other side of the door, but from the sound of it, it’s not one of his bodyguards.

“Morning. I’m here to pick up Mrs. Parker.”

“Morning… Um, yeah, sure, I’m ready.”

“Wait, you are Mrs. Parker?” The guy sounds surprised. “I wouldn’t have… I mean, excuse me for saying this, but I would’ve never guessed you’re someone’s aunt.

“I, um… get that a lot,” May says, sounding a little flustered. Peter raises his brows; normally, May’s quick at repartee whenever she gets a compliment like this (which is more often than he can count), but today, she seems to feel slightly too… flattered for that. Peter leans forward, trying to see what’s going on, but the open door blocks his view.

The guy chuckles. “In that case, I deeply apologize, Mrs. Parker. Are you ready to go?”

“Yeah, um, sure.” May leans around the door to look at Peter. Her cheeks are a little red indeed, her eyes sparkling oddly. “Bye, honey.”

“Bye…” Peter says, lips curling into a cheeky smile. “Have fun.”

May stays away longer than he expected. Normally, a trip to the nearest grocery store shouldn’t take her more than twenty to thirty minutes, depending on how much stuff she’s buying, but when Peter can finally hear the door being unlocked, it’s been an hour.

Peter immediately hurries to the door to help her with the bags. But May’s only carrying her purse, beaming as she’s right in the middle of a conversation with-

Ah. Yes. No wonder she’s been so flustered earlier. The guy carrying in two large grocery bags looks like he jumped right out of a Men’s Health magazine, barely resembling the other reserved, slightly hostile looking Marshals or SHIELD bodyguards Peter and May have come across in the last couple of months.

“-not the best cook, but baking cookies is my Christmas tradition. Oh, hey, honey.” Only now May realizes that Peter’s standing there. Her cheeks and nose are pink from the cold, and there’s a few drying snowflakes on the top of her beanie. “Sorry it took me so long, but there’s a small holiday market down on 42nd and we stopped for a punch to- Hey, I bought you roasted almonds!”

Beaming, May pulls a small pack of roasted almonds from her bag and slips it into Peter’s hand. So much for being scared of getting attacked…

Chuckling, Peter shakes his head. "Thank you, May. Glad you're back home safely.” Peter gives her a quick hug before glancing to the guard still lingering behind her. When he sees Peter looking at him, his lips curl into a sympathetic smile.

“Hey there," the guy says, setting down the bag. His hazelnut-colored eyes light up when he offers Peter his hand. Carefully, Peter reaches out to shake it; it’s rough, yet surprisingly warm. “Nice to meet you, kid. I’m Wade. Wade Wilson.”

Chapter Text

Over the course of the next couple of days, more and more people participate in the Social Media challenge Peter’s friends started, posting screenshots of them uploading photos of literally anything to Tony’s website. 

However, just like Peter expected, Tony didn't suddenly turn stupid. He doesn’t seem to get tired of almost instantly blocking all IP addresses, PayPal accounts and BitCoin addresses used by people who send him shit. Some users, like Ned, know their ways around that, of course, but Peter takes it as proof that Tony doesn't seem to care too much about their counterattacks. 

May goes back to work on December 16th. To Peter’s relief, she comes back unharmed, and after a short consultation with Peterson, he greenlights Peter going back to therapy the following day. 

With Jane, he discusses recent developments, promising to bring Michelle with him for the Friday session if the safety situation allows it. In the meantime, Janes suggests they both write down their insecurities and what they like about each other. Then, Peter asks Jane what she thinks Tony’s motive is. 

“Since he didn’t offer money for your address, I think it’s less about finding out where you live and more about keeping you inside,” she says thoughtfully, cocking her head. “The activities he listed in his post indicate that he doesn’t want you to go out and have fun. To a certain extent, it might make him feel as though he’s gaining some sort of control over you again.”

“But why now?” Peter sighs, scrunching up his face. “Why stay silent for so long, only to come out of the woodwork two weeks before Christmas?”

Jane tilts her head to the other side, narrowing her eyes a bit. “You probably managed to hurt him with that kissing photo, so maybe he needed some time to get over it. Maybe he even tried to move on from you, but couldn’t. Whatever it is, I hope you won’t let yourself be too intimidated by this. You didn’t escape him to be locked up in your apartment twenty-four seven.”

She’s right of course; just like Michelle was when she said something similar to him once.

However, Peter doesn't dare to leave the apartment again until Thursday afternoon, when May, Wilson, Hunter, Williams, and two more bodyguards take him to buy a Christmas tree. It’s a little awkward running around with so many large, armed men tagging behind them, but the market is so crowded that Peter probably wouldn’t have felt safe without them. 

After fifteen or so minutes, Wilson causes a small scene when he snaps at a guy pointing his phone in their direction, demanding to show him what he photographed. When the guy refuses, Wilson seizes him by the collar and pulls him away from the group, whispering something in his ear that drains the color from the guy’s cheeks. 

“Nothing on there,” Wilson casually says when he comes back, looking pleased. “At least I doubt Stark would mistake the selfie of a troll with a photo of Bambi.” Only when he nods his head in Peter’s direction, Peter realizes he just got called Bambi by May’s bodyguard. 

Well. So much for feeling like an almost adult man… It’s something Peter adds to his embarrassingly long ‘list of insecurities’ he started preparing for tomorrow’s therapy session. 

 

Glad to reunite after almost two weeks, MJ and Peter fall into each other’s arms and exchange a quick kiss before Jane asks them to come in. Peter asked Jane before the session not to tell Michelle about him deliberately masturbating to Tony whispering obscenities into his ear, so they focus on talking about the involuntary flashbacks instead. 

“Wait, so you get actual flashbacks to him when we… kiss and stuff?” MJ asks, eyes widened in shock.

“Yeah, I can hear or even see him, sometimes. And not just when we get… physical. Basically every time someone says or does something that reminds me of him. It’s just worse when we get… intimate. I mean, apart from you, he’s the only one I ever really… got so close to. You know?”

Michelle slowly nods. “I see. I just assumed that it was more about you being afraid I’d hurt you than you being reminded of him.” Then, she swallows thickly. “Does that mean we shouldn’t do stuff like that anymore until you stop getting flashbacks altogether?”

Peter’s glad when Jane takes over, explaining that not getting physical wouldn't necessarily help. “As long as the both of you want to keep doing it, there’s nothing wrong with trying. It’s not guaranteed that the flashbacks will ever completely go away, but Peter can learn how to live with them. It’s just important that you take it slow and that Peter tells you as soon as he realizes he can’t do it anymore.”

They both blush when Jane suggests a few different techniques they could try. “I know these methods don’t exactly sound romantic, but they can help to ease the tension and get to know each other’s boundaries without risking any anxiety or panic attacks.”

Or rather, getting to know Peter’s boundaries… 

Then, Jane takes a look at their lists, starting with Peter. “It says here right at the top that you’re afraid you’re not ‘man enough’ for Michelle. Want to talk about-”

“Wait, what?” Michelle glances at Peter dumbfounded. “What’s that supposed to mean?”

Dropping his gaze, Peter shifts in his seat. Like always when he’s nervous, he grabs the pillow from the sofa and puts it on his lap. “It means that I… don’t understand why you want to date me when you could date someone like Brad. Or anyone else, basically.”

“Peter… you know that I tried to date Brad, and that it didn’t work out. Because I wanted you, remember? I thought- I thought we’d put that behind us… Where’s that coming from all of a sudden?”

Fumbles with the pillow, Peter mumbles, “I… okay, this is gonna sound stupid and childish, but last time we went climbing, you managed to reach that one hold because you’re taller than me. And when I told you about the couple taking a photo, you wanted to tell them off for me. I know you meant well, and I really appreciate it, but it makes me feel… weak and somewhat… effeminate.”

“What, because a girl can’t stand up for her boyfriend?” Michelle sounds both confused and slightly irritated. “And since when have you been bothered that I’m like… an inch taller than you?”

Actually, it’s more like two inches… “Maybe since I’ve been told what a f-fuckable, innocent-looking thing I was, with ‘a face and body begging to be broken and torn apart’,” Peter mumbles, glanding down, desperately trying to fight down tears. 

There’s a long, awkward pause before Michelle responds, her tear-filled voice showing how horror-stricken she is. “I’m… sorry if I make you feel that way.”

Suddenly, Peter feels very awful. It’s not her fault. “Y-You don't,” he says, ashamed to find his voice shaking. “Not on purpose, at least. Fuck, I don’t even- I mean, I know that I’m the problem. It’s not your fault that I don’t feel like a man.”

“May I ask what you think a man is supposed to be or look like?” Michelle’s voice is trembling as terribly as Peter’s now. “You do know I have a low opinion of gender stereotypes, right?”

“It’s not… that, but… I mean, when Tony made that comment on my post, I had a fucking panic attack, and you stayed completely calm. Everyone out there saw me crying more times than I can count, so they all think I’m this… petite young thing that needs protection. I mean, I do, because a lunatic killer is after me, but- shit, I don’t know. Maybe I just… want to be attractive to girls instead of old, sadistic men who get off on hurting me.”

When he glances at Michelle, he sees a tear running out of her eyes. “But… I am a girl, Peter, and you are attractive to me. I don’t think I need to protect you, but this doesn’t mean I don’t want to help and support you. And don’t you think I don’t have insecurities myself? Don’t you think I never ask myself why you want me out of everyone?”

“Are you kidding me? You’re perfect, Michelle.” Desperately, he tries to swallow down the lump in his throat. “Me, on the other hand… Do you know what May’s bodyguard called me yesterday? Bambi. And it’s just one of many nicknames I’ve gathered over the course of the last nine months. Slut. Whore. Slave. Pet. Twink. Darling. Plaything. Brat. Toy. Doll. Princess. Kid. Sunshine. Puppy. Dumb shit. Little bitch. Baby. Baby Boy. Honey. Sweetheart. Asshole. Liar. Fraud… And god knows what else.”

“Like tiger?’” Michelle quietly says, causing Peter to wince. Shit. He forgot the nickname Michelle’s recently picked up for him. He opens his mouth to apologize, but she shakes her head. “Do you want to know why I think it fits you perfectly?”

“I supposed not because they’re tall,” Peter mumbles, hoping to ease the tension.

“Because tigers are smart and brave... and strong,” Michelle says, completely ignoring Peter’s lousy attempt at making a joke. “Just like you. To a certain extent, I do know how you feel. Do you remember when the heist started? You were the one soothing me, because I almost lost it. And when Barnes was touching me, I felt like a weak little girl, frozen up in fear, unable to defend herself. But you weren’t too scared to help me. You didn’t allow him to hurt me. And what did I do when they hurt you? Nothing. I couldn’t find the strength or the courage to help you when they… t-tortured you in front of me.” 

“But you wouldn’t have been able to-” Peter starts, but she cuts him off. Almost desperately, she grabs his hand, her voice cracking. 

“This isn't about me, Peter. This is about you. You managed to escape the Avengers from a desert island all by yourself. You came up with this plan, you alone, and you risked everything to get away. You even shot yourself in the arm. And then, SHIELD and the Bugle and Stark put you through all that shit… Not to mention that you survived everything those assholes put you through for six whole months. You managed to pull through all that. You never gave up and I’ll always admire you for that. Who gives a fuck if you’re 5 feet 7 or 5 feet 9? I sure as hell know that I don’t.”

They’re both sobbing at the time she’s finished. Sniffling, she pulls him into another hug, pressing her tear-stained cheek against his. “You’re the bravest and strongest person I know, Peter. I… I love you.”

“I… love you too.”

The rest of the therapy session, they spend huddled up to one another, hands intertwined. When they drop Michelle off at her place, they even share another kiss, already looking forward to seeing each other during the holidays. As uncomfortable and sad as the hour in Jane’s office was, the heart-to-heart talk seems to have made their bond even stronger. 

 

When May knocks on Peter’s door Saturday shortly after lunch, he notices that she’s wearing an unusual amount of make-up. “I’m going to the store, sweetie. Do you need anything?”

“Nope.” He’s unable to hide his grin. “Have fun.”

“Fun? I’m going to buy groceries.”

“Yeah, with Mister Universe and a shit ton of make-up on your face,” he chuckles. “I’m not that ignorant, you know?”

“Oh, shut up,” May snorts, blushing. She turns to leave the room, but lingers in the doorway. “Actually… would you mind if Wade ate with us today? He told me he’s been living off deliveries and pre-cooked meals ever since his stove broke.”

Now it’s Peter’s turn to snort. “Isn’t this exactly what we’ve been living off for years?”

Laughing, she grabs the pack of tissues from Peter’s desk and throws it at him. “Careful -” she raises a warning finger “- or I’ll change my mind about cooking your favorite pasta today.” Then, she narrows her eyes, looking at Peter a bit more seriously. “But if this is an issue for you, I won’t invite him. I get it, it’s not very professional, but… he’s a nice guy, and he’s the first one apart from Sharon who’s not acting like this is just a job for him.”

“But it is a job for him,” Peter frowns. 

May sighs. “Yes, I know, but the others are always so… distant and emotionless. I mean, I guess they’re supposed to treat us like we’re some… valuable goods instead of humans, but Wade… he’s different. Funny, charming, and very talkative… In fact, it’s hard to get him to shut up sometimes.” She lets out a silent chuckle before sighing again. “But yeah, I guess you’re right. Maybe it’s not a good idea to form more friendships with them.”

Peter gives it a thought. True, Sharon has turned into a great friend for the both of them despite being initially assigned to assist Fury with his interviews. Thing is, even without the whole 'being intimidated by large men' thing, seeing May crushing on someone who isn’t Uncle Ben is… weird. On the other hand, it’s been three years since Ben died, and May… she deserves some happiness...  

“No, it’s fine. I don’t mind if he comes,” Peter eventually says.

“Are you sure?” When Peter nods, May flashes him a relieved smile. “Thank you, sweetie. But if it makes you uncomfortable, just say so.”

“It’s fine,” Peter emphasizes. “Really.”

Yet, he’s still a little nervous when Wilson enters their apartment shortly before dinner, hoping not to fall into any weird habits he developed during his captivity. Having an attractive male over for dinner surely has the potential of triggering habits Peter has hoped to break.

“Hey, Bambi,” Wilson grins, once again holding out his rough hand.

“Good evening, sir.” Although it was less of a slip-up than Peter wanting to make sure he’s polite and respectful, Wilson screws up his face.

“Oh god, please don’t call me sir. I don’t have an inch of a ‘sir’ in me.”

Peter involuntarily chuckles. “All right, Mr. Wilson.”

This time, Wade even flinches. “That’s even worse. Mister Wilson was my old man. Please just call me Wade.”

“Um… okay.” Peter hesitates, but then he adds, “If you stop calling me Bambi.” 

For a second, he’s afraid he’s gone too far with his ‘demand’, but Wade lets out a sympathetic, barking laugh. “Sure thing, sugar.” When Peter’s mouth drops open, Wade winks, grinning shrewdly. “Just kidding.” Then he turns to May bustling around the kitchen. “Thank you so much for the invitation, May. Can I help you with something?”

“No, no, thank you. I’m almost done, please take a seat,” she says, sounding a bit nervous. 

When she puts down a massive bowl of Spaghetti on the table, Wade’s eyes almost pop out of his head. “Jesus Christ, did you cook for the whole fucking building?”

“I just want to make sure everyone has enough,” May says, blushing. It shows how much she seems to like Wade when she doesn't even tell him off for casually dropping the f-word like this.

Wade flashes her a caring smile. “I was just. kidding. It looks - and smells - delicious.”

As it turns out, Wade is indeed a nice, funny guy. Yet, Peter still isn’t sure if he likes the idea that May might have a romantic interest in him. He only knows that if it turns out that she does, he’ll be the last one to try and ruin it for her. 

Halfway through the meal, May asks Wade about the holidays. “Are you gonna go see your family?”

“No. My parents died when I was a teenager and I have no other family. Almost like you -” he nods his head at Peter “- just without the hot aunt. Wait, that sounded wrong.” Once again, he lets out a barking laugh. “I mean, you are very attractive, May, but I’m in no way implying that Peter's into you. You know?” When they both just stare at him flabbergasted, he sighs. “I seriously need a speed bump between my brain and my mouth. I’m really sorry. In my defense, I use my humor to deflect my insecurities.”

Snorting as though she couldn't believe someone like Wade even has insecurities, May rolls some more spaghetti onto her fork. “It’s fine.” After a few seconds, she flashes him a sly smile. “And I was starting to wonder why you were single.”

“Ouch,” Wade grins, taking a sip of his wine. “Hard to believe that I was once engaged, huh?”

“Really?” Puzzled, May raises her brows before chuckling again. “Did your bad humor scare her off?”

Laughing, Wade shakes his head. “I wish. No, she died.”

Both Peter and May freeze in horror. For a while, it’s so quiet you could hear a pin drop. 

Eventually, Peter’s the first to recover from the shock. “She... died?”

“Yeah.” Wade suddenly sounds bitter, his eyes having lost their sparkle. “The job I had back then got me into problems with some guys. We were under police protection, but the guard who was supposed to protect us fell asleep because he got drunk the night before. She died in my arms. Only an hour earlier she'd told me she was pregnant.”

“Oh god, I’m so… I’m so sorry, Wade,” May whispers, clutching her chest with her left hand. Her eyes are glistening with tears. “I didn’t know.”

“Of course you didn’t. You couldn’t. There’s no need to apologize, May.” Wade’s mouth curls into a reassuring smile. “I’m not saying that making awful, inappropriate jokes is how I’m dealing with it, but it totally is.”

But May doesn’t seem to be in the mood to go back to teasing. “I don’t know what to say. I’m so, so sorry this happened to you.”

“I told you, it’s fine,” Wade emphasizes. “It’s been eight years now. Life has to go on. And I found a way to deal with it by becoming a Marshal and making it my mission to give others the protection Vanessa and my unborn child failed to get. Nobody’s gonna die on my watch, I guarantee you that.”

“What was your job before this?” Peter asks, remembering that Wade said it had gotten him in trouble.

Wade cocks his head. “I was working for a small, secret government organisation. That’s all I'm allowed to say about it.”

“And, if I may ask, what happened to the guys who… did it?”

A dark shadow flickers across Wade’s face. “They got what they deserved.” After a quick pause, he clears his throat, smiling again. “May, this pasta fucking kills. I’m serious, it gives the term ‘food porn’ a whole new meaning.”

Blinking, May looks down at the table. She seems to have forgotten they’re in the middle of eating dinner. “Um… thanks. I’m… glad you like it.”

The rest of the meal is awkwardly quiet. After dinner, Wade and May retreat to the couch with another glass of wine, so Peter excuses himself to go to his room. Although he barely even knows Wade, hearing what happened to him shocks him to the core.

There’s so much hate and violence in the world… and for what? For money, sex and power. It’s fucking disgusting.

 

On Monday, Peterson calls to tell them that security level will be reduced to three on Wednesday, the day after Christmas. He curtly explains that protection for their apartment will be reduced to two guards, whereas Peter’s personal protection will be reduced to three men. May, on the other hand, will lose her personal security altogether. 

Flustered, May immediately complains to Wade about it when he comes to pick her up for work. “I mean, there’s no sign that Stark’s given up, right?” she asks, sounding fearful. “Is it really safe enough for us to have less protection already?”

“Three’s still higher than what you had before Stark’s post,” Wade says, shrugging his shoulders. “To be honest, I’ve never actually seen them raise the level from two to four so quickly and without indication of any sort of attack. But Rumlow said he got orders from high up to be very careful in Peter’s case. Guess it’s because of the worldwide interest.” He flashes Peter an apologetic look before focusing his eyes back on May. “You need to trust their judgment, May. I’m sure this isn’t a reckless decision.”

Even though Wade gets taken off the case as a result, he still drops by on Christmas’ afternoon. Officially, he says he’s here to taste some of May’s horribly burned cookies, but in reality, he seems to be here to drop of-

“Presents.” Grinning, he hands Peter and May a badly wrapped parcel each.

“Wait, but... what? I- I didn’t get you- Wade, you should have said something.” May’s completely flustered, her cheeks changing color faster than a traffic light. 

But Wade waves it off. “It’s just a little something.”

“That’s… very kind of you. Thank you, si- Wade,” Peter mumbles sheepishly, blushing almost as deeply as May.

“You still should’ve told-” May begins, but Wade cuts her off. 

“I didn’t tell you about it because I didn’t want you to get me something. Besides, you already made me dinner and cookies. It’s really no big deal.”

“Okay… thank you,” May sighs, smiling carefully. “Can I at least invite you over to dinner again in return?”

“Unfortunately, Peterson assigned me to a new case outside of New York, but… I already spoke to Rumlow, and he promised me he’d convince Peterson to put me back on yours. Only if you want to, of course. If he agrees, I’ll help guard the apartment soon. So… yeah. I’d love to.”

For a few seconds, Wade and May beam at each other before she says, “That would be great. But… wouldn’t you get bored to death if you had to sit in front of the apartment all day?”

“No, no,” Wade laughs, lips curling into a reassuring smile. “Don’t worry. Besides, nobody said I wouldn’t be allowed to keep watch inside the apartment if you happened to invite me in, right?” When May giggles, Wade winks at her before he points at the parcels, clearing his throat. “You can open them now, if you want.”

Peter’s heart rate increases when he rips open his gift. It’s quite big and heavy, so what could it possibly-

His heart drops and he lets out a silent gasp when his eyes fall on the books in his lap. It’s the Game of Thrones series; a week before he escaped from the island, he’d started reading the first one… Even though Tony would have never admitted it, Peter always had a feeling he ordered it specially for him when he said he'd like to read it one day. 

“May mentioned you’re a bookworm, so I thought you might enjoy it,” Wade grins. "It's my favorite book series." 

Peter’s mouth feels dry, so he has to swallow a few times to be able to answer. “I, um… Y-Yes, thank you. I’m sure I will.” Glancing up at Wade, he forces his lips into a thankful smile. Wade can't know how sensitive he is about this. He only meant well.

Beaming, Wade returns his smile. “Great. I can also highly recommend watching the show, but it’s pretty brutal. The books might be a better choice to get started.”

“Y-Yeah, I know. I already watched it and… wanted to start with the books one day.”

“Wait, when did you- Nevermind,” May says, blushing a bit.

Wade furrows his brows in confusion, but fortunately doesn’t inquire about it. “Sweet. Have you finished it already? Did you enjoy it?”

“Yeah,” Peter says, despite not being in the mood to talk about it. “I did, but the last season kinda sucked.”

Wade nods, chuckling as he’s leaning a bit forward. “It totally did, that’s why I hope the books will make a more reasonable ending once they’re finished. I mean… everyone deserves a chance to set things right, don't they?”

Shuddering, Peter averts his gaze. “Not everyone does,” he mumbles. “Some actions are... irredeemable. Just like the people who did them.”

Wade narrows his eyes, flashing Peter a thoughtful look. ”Actually… you’re right,” he sighs, no doubt thinking of his ex and unborn child. “Some people don’t.”

Despite being infinitely thankful that he’s able to spend Christmas with May after what was no doubt the worst year of his life, Peter can’t find it in himself to be thoroughly happy. Not when he's facetiming Michelle and Ned, not when he's eating Christmas dinner, not when he's unpacking his presents, and not when he's embracing May in front of the Christas tree, sobbing as he’s once again overwhelmed by his feelings.

It’s not Wade’s fault that Peter got reminded of Tony on Christmas, of all days, but now that it happened, he can’t stop thinking of him. Despite all the shit Tony has done to him - even lately - and no matter how much Peter hates himself for it, there’s still this manipulated, broken part inside of him that wants to take out his phone and try to contact Tony through his website - to tell him how sorry he is, how much he despises and misses him, and to ask him whether he’s as conflicted and confused about his feelings for Peter as Peter is about his feelings for him. 

But he knows he can’t contact him. He must not.

Tony doesn’t deserve a second chance... and he never will. There’s nothing Tony could do that would ever make him redeemable. He deserves to rot in hell.

And yet, when Peter snuggles into his blanket a while later, he's once again painfully reminded that Tony will most likely always be a part of him. Only seconds after he has turned around, he can almost feel the man nestling up behind him and wrapping his strong arm around Peter’s waist, his imaginary breath tickling on his skin.

“Merry Christmas, baby boy,” Tony whispers, kissing away the tears running down Peter’s cheek. 

“M-Merry Christmas, sir.”

Maybe they both deserve to rot in hell.

 

Chapter Text

(Author’s note: Just wanting to make sure everyone’s caught up: If you aren’t subscribed to this, I posted chapter 18 last Wednesday and chapter 19 last Sunday. If you missed any of these two, make sure to read the previous chapter before this one!)

--

Three days after Christmas, Michelle is finally allowed to visit Peter again. They exchange the presents they got for one another: Peter managed to find a rare vinyl online that Michelle’s been looking for for ages (he had to sell a few of his old action figures on eBay to be able to afford it), and she got him Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker Funko Pop figures as well as a framed photo collage with some cute couple pictures of them. 

They end up sharing a deep, passionate kiss. Soon enough, they find themselves lying on the bed again, and Peter knows, if he wants to give making out another try, today’s the day. “Do you, um… want to try and go a little further?” he asks, blushing deeply when she looks at him nervously, blinking a few times.

“If you want to, sure. How... far are you thinking?”

Jane was right; talking about it like that isn’t just weird, it’s not exactly romantic either. “Um, n-not like… all the way,” Peter stutters, “Just, um… gosh, this is awkward.”

Michelle chuckles softly. “It is.“ She props herself up on her elbows, so Peter withdraws a bit to give her more space. “But I think we should try to follow Jane's advice. I’d rather have it be awkward than scary or… triggering.”

“Yeah, true,” Peter agrees. Suddenly, he’s even more nervous than before. “Um… should I- I mean, may I touch your breasts again?” Peter feels his face growing even hotter. 

“I’d really like that,” she smiles sheepishly. “And I’ll just… put my hands on your back, but if you want them anywhere else, just tell me, okay?”

Fortunately, the tension and awkwardness fade as soon as they go back to making out. Although Peter can’t completely get Tony out of his head, he tries to find a way around it by making himself believe that this is one of Tony’s wicked games. He imagines that Tony is right here in the room with them, ordering him to do it so Peter would get all heated up and get ready for Tony’s turn.

It’s the complete opposite of what Peter wants, but for some sick reason it helps him stay focused and in control.

“Can I open your vest?” Peter eventually breaks the kiss, cursing the thick material of her clothing.

Somewhat out of breath from their steamy kiss, Michelle pants, glancing at the door and back at Peter. “When’s May gonna be back from work?”

“Not for another hour or so.”

Michelle bites down on her bottom lip, hesitating, before- “Why don’t we take off our shirts altogether?”

Peter swallows thickly. “L-Like… the both of us?”

“Yeah. If you’re okay with it.”

Shuddering, Peter sits up, moving off of her. “To be honest, I’d… rather keep my shirt on.” 

Trying, but failing, to hide her disappointment, Michelle smiles. “Sure. No problem. I can still take mine off if you want.”

Feeling the need to explain himself, Peter says, “It’s not that I’m scared you’ll hurt me, but… I don’t want you to see my- my scars.”

“Oh, Peter,” she sighs, sitting up herself. Her voice turns very soft. “I understand, but you don’t need to worry about it. I really don’t care and… I mean, I’ve already seen parts of them before...”

“I know,” he whispers, dropping his gaze. “But not up close… at least not in person. They’re so… ugly. Until May and I have saved up enough money for removing them surgically, I don’t want to take my shirt off in front of anyone ever again.” 

When he focuses his eyes back on Michelle, it’s clear that she knows as well as he does that May and Peter will most likely never have enough money to afford a surgery like that. She seems to fight an inward battle because she stays silent for a while, her brows furrowed a bit. 

Eventually, she sighs again. “You know I’d never ask you to do anything you’re not comfortable with, but… Peter, these scars are testaments to trials that you overcame. I understand that you want to get rid of them, I really do, but I don’t want you to feel like you have to be ashamed of them. You can - and should - wear them with pride.”

Peter’s mind begins to whirl; He’s never tried looking at it from that perspective. “S-So you’re not… disgusted by them?”

“No at all,” Michelle emphasizes, voice soft. “Only by the man responsible for them.”

Torn between wanting to show Michelle that he trusts her, and being afraid that she’ll reject him after all, Peter hesitates. In the back of his head, Tony seems as confused - one second, he’s chuckling into Peter’s ear, daring him to give it a try, and the other, he’s hissing, calling her a nasty liar. 

It’s the idea that Tony would be pretty disappointed if Michelle didn’t reject him that convinces Peter to give it a try. “Okay… I trust you. Let’s… let’s do it.” 

When she asks if he’s sure, he nods, suggesting to close the shutters a bit. The less bright it is the less anxious he’s gonna feel. 

Michelle goes first. She keeps her bra on, but Peter’s cock still twitches excitedly at the sight of her dimly-lit, almost naked torso, aching to touch her. But when it’s his turn to undress, his erection fades as quickly as it came. 

Shaking like a leaf, he turns his back to her and slowly takes off his shirt, screwing his eyes shut tight as though hoping it would take away Michelle’s sight as well. Only when he hears her draw the air in sharply, he realizes that his back isn’t exactly handsome to look at either. Furthermore, she hasn’t even heard of or seen those scars before.

With a choked-up sob he turns around to face her, eyes still closed. Michelle’s breathing heavily, but he can feel her moving closer. “May I touch your cheek?” she whispers, voice shaking.

Peter nods; a second later, her soft fingers touch his right cheek, brushing away the tears that have escaped Peter’s eyes. When did he start crying? Very slowly, her fingers move from his jaw to his neck, and from his neck down to his chest.

Peter’s trying to stay calm when she touches one of the scars Tony left during the first night of the heist. Tenderly, she caresses the scar before moving to the next one. When Peter doesn’t object, she leans forward to kiss him, all the while continuing to graze the scarred skin with her fingers. 

Eventually, she breaks the kiss, whispering into his ear. “How about we pretend it’s March 25th?”

March… 25th? The day before the heist… His last Tony-free day. The day May more or less caught them making out in the living room, with Peter being shirtless. The circumstances are almost the same - and yet, everything’s different. They aren’t lighthearted, innocent teenagers anymore. But… they could try to pretend. For a few minutes, at least.

“I… I’d like that,” Peter quietly says, gasping when Michelle places a careful kiss on his neck. He tilts his head to the side to give her more room, trying not to think about how many hickeys and marks Tony left there during their time together Peter’s captivity. 

He needs to focus. It’s March 25th.

For some reason, pretending to be his old self again, really helps. Michelle softly pushes him down on his back, straddling his legs. When she kisses her way down his chest, Peter’s cock comes back to life, craving attention. A part of him wants to ask Michelle to touch it, but deep down, he knows he’s not ready for it. 

Eventually, Michelle reaches the SLUT carving on Peter’s stomach. He squints through his lids when she places a few kisses on that too, causing him to blush in shame and… affection. Without warning, he suddenly bursts into tears, overwhelmed by his emotions. 

Almost instantly, Michelle’s stops kissing him, looking at him with wide eyes, aghast. “Oh god, I’m sorry, Peter, I didn’t-”

“No, i-it’s fine,” he cries, shaking his head vigorously. “I just… I just love you so much.”

Michelle visibly relaxes, eyes crinkling kindly. Her voice is soft when she speaks, “Oh Peter… I love you too.” She leans forward, kissing him tenderly before smiling at him affectionately. “You’re the best thing that could have happened to me.”

After Peter has calmed down again, they change positions and make out some more. In the end, Michelle even feels comfortable enough to take off her bra, and Peter feels brave enough to touch - and suck at - her nipples. 

It gives him such a boost of confidence that when he jerks off later that night, Peter manages to stay calm and focus without having to imagine getting taunted by Tony. This time, Michelle is all Peter needs to think about.

 

For New Year's, Ned's parents invite the Parker and the Johnson household to celebrate with them. It's only the second time that Peter has met Michelle's parents (and the first time since the heist). He's so nervous about it that he's jittery throughout the day, hoping they won't be disappointed that their daughter chose such an anxious, withdrawn boyfriend. 

Despite Peter's worries and May's safety concerns, the evening goes really well. After dinner, Ned, MJ, and Peter retreat into Ned's room to play some video games, leaving their parents to themselves. At midnight, they come together again, and the adults even let them have a sip of sparkling wine to clink glasses. Inevitably, Peter thinks of Tony, wondering how he spent New Year's. If the Avengers really are hiding in Wakanda, they probably celebrated it together a few hours earlier...

When they countdown the seconds to midnight, Peter quickly settles on his New Year's resolutions. Get better - Go back to school - Start charity work - Graduate - Go to college. 

It sounds like a lot, but he wants to give it all he can.

With this in mind, the first thing Peter does on January 1st is getting rid of most of Tony's clothes. It's harder than he expected, and if it wasn't for May carefully tugging the shirts out of his fingers and hugging him whenever he falls into a crying fit, Peter wouldn't have been able to do it. He ends up keeping one t-shirt and one long-sleeve - for 'mental emergencies' - but stuffs them into a bag which he buries deep inside his closet. 

In the second week of January, SHIELD releases a statement that shocks Peter to the core. Not only do they reveal that they found the wedding photo in Quill's apartment, they also leak all photos (except the one from the bonfire showing Peter) to the press. Since Peter doesn't give a shit about Quill he couldn't care less about it; what he does care about, however, is the second part of the statement. 

“Due to ongoing investigations we’ve been withholding this information from the public, but now we feel obligated to tell you that Loki Odinson helped Peter Parker escape by secretly telling him which direction he had to go if he ever managed to take one of the boats. For helping Parker get home safely, we offer Odinson a deal. If he gives us Stark, he and his brother will not be charged with participating in the heist. According to Parker, neither of them physically hurt anyone during the heist or after. We sincerely hope that Odinson will be smart enough to cooperate with us.”

Ever since the statement was released, Peter is constantly tormented by nightmares of Loki dying a gruesome death at the hands of the other Avengers. For the following days, Peter’s anxiously awaiting news that Loki’s mutilated body was located, but fortunately, there aren’t any reports of sorts. Loki also doesn’t try to get in contact with SHIELD, though, which isn’t exactly a good sign either.

Eventually, Jane gets him to accept that what’s done is done and that there’s nothing Peter can do about it anymore. 

“It was Loki’s choice to help you, knowing very well that you could tell authorities about him if you got away. I doubt he expected you to protect him, but you did. You put your own safety at risk by trying to protect him for as long as you could. Please don’t feel bad about it, Peter.”

So, Peter does the best he can not to guilt-trip himself over it and focuses on preparing for midterms at the end of the month. What he’s most concerned about is that participating requires him to attend personally, but Peter knows that if he wants to graduate with his friends and have any chance at college applications, he has to be mentally ready to go back. Giving it a try is the least he should do.

Yet, a day before his return to school, Peter is a mess. He spends most of the day nervously pacing around his room, quietly mumbling to himself. Failing is not what he’s anxious about because technically, he should be able to ace his exams. However, he’s anxious about a lot of other things.

What if everyone stares at him? What if anyone tries to take a picture and send it to Tony’s website? What if his mere presence at school endangers his fellow classmates? 

Eventually, Peter urges himself to calm down. SHIELD, Marshals Service, and the school greenlit his decision to go back. They’ve taken quite a few supplementary safety measures, and in addition to his three bodyguards, Sharon offered to come as well, promising to support Peter throughout his first few days. And yet, Peter’s more scared than he’s been in a very long time.

Too nervous to sleep, he eventually finds himself on the way to the dark kitchen to get a glass of water in the middle of the night. He’s barely taken the first sip when the light suddenly gets turned on, causing him to choke on his water. With a rapidly beating heart he turns around, looking right at-

“Can’t sleep either?”

It’s Wade, who was over for dinner again (which he’s been doing quite a lot ever since he was assigned back to their case two weeks ago). Confusedly, Peter glances at the kitchen clock; It’s 1:36 am.

“What are you still doing-” Then, it hits him. “Oh. Um. N-Nevermind.” Well, it was bound to happen. 

“Look, kiddo, I really like your aunt,” Wade says after a short, awkward pause, smiling soothingly. “I know I make a lot of god-awful jokes, but this is not one of them. I’m not playing her, if that’s what you’re afraid of.” 

Heat flashes up to the nape of Peter’s neck. “That’s not- I mean, it’s not my business, really. If May’s happy, I’m happy. That’s all that matters to me.”

Eyes crinkling kindly, Wade absentmindedly nods. Then, he raises his brows, grinning. “So, you have a thing for old men?”

Peter’s gaping at him. Why would Wade ask if he was... into old men? What the fuck? “Huh?” 

“I didn’t take you as someone who listens to Black Sabbath,” Wade chuckles, pointing at Peter’s chest. Oh. Peter stupidly looks down on himself, gasping quietly when he realizes that he’s indeed wearing Tony’s Black Sabbath long-sleeve. He dug it out of the closet three nights ago because he hasn’t been able to fall asleep lately. Shit.  

“Oh. I, um, I’m not listening to them,” he stutters, face flushing with shame. “It’s… an old shirt of, um, Uncle Ben.”

“I see,” Wade quietly says, lips curling into a cautious smile.

Feeling extremely awkward, Peter shifts from one foot to the other, quickly emptying his glass before putting it into the sink and turning around to exit the room. “Well, I- I’ll go back to bed. I… have to get up for school tomorrow. Good night.”

“Right,” Wade says, yawning. “You better try to get some sleep. Me too, actually. I’m working the early shift tomorrow. Good night, baby boy.” 

Peter freezes, panic crawling through his veins like ice. “What… w-what did you just say?”

“I said ‘good night, baby boy,’” Wade repeats, sounding confused. 

Shaking, Peter tries to swallow the lump in his throat. Don’t cry. “W-Why would you call me that?” he asks, wishing his voice didn’t sound so strained.

When Wade chuckles softly, Peter carefully turns around to glance at him. “Because you stir my father instinct,” he cooes, pursing his lips. “I swear, whenever I look at you I’m tempted to wrap you in as many fluffy blankets as I can find and bring you all the ice cream you want. I mean, just look at you - you’re adorably precious in your oversized shirt.” When Wade realizes how taut Peter looks, he sighs, brows furrowing in concern. “But I guess you’re too old to be babied, hm?”

“It’s not that,” Peter mumbles, averting his gaze. “I mean, yeah, I am, which is why I don’t want you to call me Bambi or sugar or… b-baby boy. I actually hate that one in particular.”

“Why?” 

“It triggers memories I don't want to think about,” Peter says evasively.

Wade’s look softens and he bites down on his lip guiltily. “Oh shit, I didn’t know. I’m sorry if I upset you. It wasn’t my intention to make you feel like I’m hitting on you or some gross shit. I hereby promise, once and for all, that I’ll stop calling you any sort of nicknames from now on.” 

Wade then walks up to him, reaching out to put his hand on Peter’s shoulder. Peter involuntarily leans back a little, but doesn’t flinch. “You’re a fine young man, Peter. Never stop standing up for yourself.”

Wade’s so much taller than him that Peter has to tilt his head back in order to look at him. Yet, he holds his gaze, lips curling into a careful smile. “I won’t. Thank you, Wade.”

Unfortunately, getting called ‘baby boy’ didn’t exactly help him calm down either. All night Peter twists from one side to the other, struggling to find a comfortable position and put his mind to rest. 

When Peter sits down at the breakfast table at 7:30 a.m., he asks May for a cup of coffee for once, hoping it will prevent him from falling asleep during his exams.

Blushing, May tries to talk to Peter about Wade (who’s already standing guard outside), mentioning that he told her about their late night encounter. But Peter cuts her off. “It’s fine, May, please, let’s not talk about that now. Just know that I’m… happy for you. Really. I like him.”

He flashes her a quick smile before gulping down his bitter coffee. Refusing his cereal, he grabs an apple for later and leaves to get dressed.

Forty minutes later, Peter finds himself in front of Midtown High, still seated in the government SUV with his three bodyguards and Sharon. Because of the new security measures, there are no more cars allowed on campus except those from Marshals Service and emergency vehicles. Therefore, students and teachers alike are curiously glancing at the car, trying to see through the heavily tinted windows.

Just when Sharon finishes her encouraging pep-talk, Peter sees Ned and Betty carefully approaching the car. Taking a deep breath, he presses down the handle and opens the door, hoping his legs won’t buckle.

He can do this. He just needs to put one foot in front of the other. It’s no big deal. 

Ignoring everyone and everything else, Peter keeps his eyes on Ned, wobbling forward. He can still feel numerous pairs of eyes on him, still hear them whispering, but he keeps walking. After what seems like an hour, but was only a few seconds in reality, he’s finally standing in front of Ned and Betty. He opens his mouth to say hello, but the only sound coming out of his throat is a weak croak. 

“Hi, Peter,” Betty beams, leaning forward as if intending to embrace him. Only at the last moment she seems to remember Ned and Michelle drilling into their friends not to touch him, so she freezes, blushing a bit. “I, um, so glad you’re back.”

Peter desperately tries to clear his throat. “Thank you, Betty," he says, still sounding a little rough. 

“There’s MJ,” Ned says, making Peter sigh in relief. A few seconds later, she’s next to them, greeting Sharon, Betty and Ned before kissing Peter on the cheek, slipping her right hand into his left. “Hey.”

“H-Hey.” He smiles weakly at her, no doubt looking constipates. 

“Um, can we go in?” Ned asks, shuddering. “I’m freezing my ass off.”

“If you need more time, I’ll wait with you,” MJ tells Peter, but he shakes his head. “N-No, let’s… let’s go.”

It’s good that MJ’s holding his trembling hand; if she hadn’t pulled him with her, Peter would’ve probably kept standing in the cold for the rest of the day.

Inside, it’s a lot harder to ignore the students bustling around, some of them almost tripping over their feet when they turn their heads to stare at him. Keeping his own head low, Peter lets Michelle guide him to his new locker; his old one was cleared and assigned to another student when the new school year started.

Thankfully, people keep their distance while Peter's rummaging around with his bags and books. Though most of that is probably due to Ned, MJ, Betty and the four adults lingering around him, three of them being grim-looking armed hunks.

When Peter picked his classes in October, he made sure that he’d have either Ned or MJ by his side in case he did end up going back to school. Therefore, he follows MJ and Betty to their AP Literature class five minutes later, shaking like a leaf. They’re only about twenty feet away from the classroom when Peter stops dead in his tracks.

“I- I can’t do this,” he whispers when MJ gives his head a gentle tug, refusing to walk any further. His chest tightens around his lungs, making it hard to breathe.

“Yes, you can,” she says, motioning Betty to keep moving and give them space. “I know you can. The teachers spoke with all students yesterday. Nobody’s gonna talk to you if you don’t want to. And we made sure you’ll have a seat right next to us, at the very back.”

Closing his eyes, Peter desperately tries to focus on breathing steadily, face burning when he realizes that he’s on the verge of a panic attack right in the fucking hallway.

‘Everyone knows what happened to you.’ 

Peter pulls his sweaty hand out of Michelle’s grip to cover his ringing ears, trying to block out Tony’s snarling voice. But it only muffles the chatter and the sound of footsteps around him, making Tony’s cold voice seem even louder. 

‘They all know you won’t be able to get it up unless you have my dick up your ass.’

From afar, Peter can hear a softer, warmer voice speak next. “Do you want to go?” It’s Sharon, and when Peter nods, he can feel her moving next to him, gently putting a hand on his lower back. “Come on.”

With Tony nastily chuckling in his ear, Peter lets Sharon guide him away from the classroom. However, they’ve barely taken a few steps when Peter freezes once again. If he leaves now, he’ll never be able to muster the courage to come back. He can’t disappoint his friends, or May, or… himself. He’s come so far, he can’t give up now. Giving up would only prove Tony right. 

Peter can’t let him win.

With a fresh sense of determination, Peter squares his shoulders and forces himself to open his eyes and take the hands off his ears. Squinting against the light, he looks at Sharon, trying to blink away his tears. “I… I changed my mind. Michelle’s right, I can- I can do this. And I will do this.”

Sharon looks at him cautiously. “Peter… nobody’s gonna blame you if you need more time. You won’t do yourself any good if you black out or-”

“I- I know. But no matter what happens in there, it can’t be worse than anything that’s already happened to me… r-right?”

Sharon opens her mouth to respond, but then she closes it again, lips curling into a reassuring smile. “If you really want to give it another try, I won’t try to talk you out of it. But if it’s too much, promise you’ll let me know, okay?”

“I promise.” Peter then takes a few deep, calm breaths before turning around, marching back to the classroom. Michelle’s still standing where they left her, gaping at him. “Are you sure you-”

“Y-Yes,” he chokes out, urging himself not to stop again. A few seconds later, he’s walking right into the classroom, ignoring the twenty-something gasps as he walks straight through to the back, keeping his gaze straight ahead and not risking a glance at any of his classmates.  

There’s indeed two empty seats in the back. Peter drops into the nearest one, and not a second too late - his legs wouldn’t have been able to carry him any longer. Just a few moments later, Michelle takes the seat next to him, and when she’s stopped moving, Peter realizes that the whole class is completely silent. The only thing he can hear is his rapid heartbeat pulsing in his ears.

Too anxious to move even an inch, Peter stays stock still until some of his classmates eventually start a very quiet, cautious chatter. Only now does he dare to glance over at Michelle, who looks at him with watery eyes and a very proud smile.

Their teacher, Mrs. Lintz, comes in a few minutes later. She’s accompanied by Sharon, who’s vaguely introduced as someone who’s 'gonna be with Peter' for the first couple of days. At this, Mrs. Lintz gives him a fond, motherly smile. “Welcome back, Peter.”

Blushing, he quickly drops his gaze, mumbling a quiet “Thank you, Mrs. Lintz”. He’s certain that everyone’s turned around to look at him, but fortunately, nobody else speaks up.

A few minutes later, Mrs. Lintz finished passing out the exam papers, wishing them good luck. When Peter has calmed down enough to write down his name at the top of the paper, his overwhelmed mind finally starts to take in what he’s doing.

He’s sitting in a high school class next to his girlfriend, taking a midterm exam.

He did it.

Tony didn’t win. Tony didn’t completely ruin his life. 

Ten months after he got kidnapped, and four months after he escaped, Peter finally feels free

Chapter Text

“Three weeks?”

“Maybe four. I suggest you come over sooner, though. Once security is down to two, we’re good to go. One guard we can easily deal with.”

Tony glances at the numerous photos in the bottom right corner of his large pinboard. Each of them shows a different Marshal agent, all assigned to protect either Peter or his apartment. “Maybe we don’t even have to deal with one. Who’s the weakest link?”

“Definitely Carl Anders. His wife just gave birth to their daughter. They had like four miscarriages, so he’s really worried something’s gonna happen to the baby.”

“That’s good to know. I might have an idea, but we need to wait for the perfect day. I’ll try to get to New York in the next couple of weeks. Thanks and take care.”

Smirking, Tony ends his call. Things are going better than expected. If he’s lucky, he’s gonna be reunited with Peter by the end of March, almost exactly a year after they first met. How romantic. 

“Was that Happy?” Rhodey asks from the table. 

After one last look at the big photo of Peter in the middle of the pinboard, Tony turns around, returning to Rhodey, Steve, Bucky and Strange to finish the poker round.

“No, it was the guy working for me,” Tony answers, taking a pull from his cigarette. “Seems like we’re in the Endgame now.”

His friends exchange a worried glance. “And you’re sure you can trust him?” Steve asks, brows furrowed in worry. “I mean, what if he screws you over? After everything you told us-”

“Beggars can’t be choosers. But so far, I have no reason to be worried because he’s been doing an excellent job.”

“It really wouldn’t hurt if you let us in on the plan, though,” Rhodey says with a sigh. “I understand that you don’t want to tell Nat or Bruce, but-”

“The less people who know about it, the better. I don't think I need to remind you that every single one of you swore that I could trust Loki, and look how that ended.” Glaring daggers at his friends, Tony picks up his cards, trying not to bubble with wrath once again. 

He completely lost it when he found out about Loki's treason, realizing that he'd been right about that little bitch all along. He got even more furious when Loki had the crust to downplay his betrayal by claiming that he’d been keeping a close eye on the boat in case Peter actually found a way to bolt, making sure he’d be able to warn everyone - including Tony - so they could get to safety.

Naturally, Tony still wanted to kill Loki for helping Peter escape, but Bruce and Thor stopped him, resulting in a fight that left Tony with two black eyes and a bleeding nose. Unfortunately, most of his friends were against executing Loki, arguing that he 'didn't set Peter free, after all' and that it was 'Tony's own fucking fault Peter managed to get the boat keys'. And since T’Challa didn’t want to risk banishing Loki from Wakanda in case he ended up taking the deal SHIELD offered him, they locked him up in the palace's own ‘dungeon’ for the time being. 

Irritated, Steve shakes his head. “I still don’t get why you want the boy back. Have you actually forgiven him for what he said during his interview?” 

Knowing that Steve's still a little jealous about Tony's feelings towards Peter, he huffs. “Not at all. Trust me, I’m gonna make him pay for it, but what happened is basically that slimey lawyer’s fault.” After all, if Beck hadn’t pushed Peter to his breaking point, he wouldn’t have blurted out all of Tony’s secrets. 

“You’re so fucking naive,” Bucky hisses, nostrils flaring. “He doesn't even like you. He's just gonna try to kill you or run away again.”

Shaking with anger, Tony bares his teeth. “I happen to know more about his feelings than you, Bucky. I’m positive I can break him for real this time, and I won’t make the same mistakes again. Besides, there’s no way he could ever escape from here. There’s way too many guards and surveillance.”

“And what if your plan fails? What if they catch you?” Strange asks with a frown. “If you go back to New York, you’re not just putting yourself in danger. Us too.”

“I’m not,” Tony insists, glaring at him. “I’ve proven enough times that I’m not a treacherous bitch. I’d rather shoot myself in the head before I rat any of you out. And it's not like they would offer me a deal to go free if I told them where you are. They know it would be too dangerous if they let me run around freely."

A few hours later, Tony’s alone, scrolling through the photos JARVIS filtered out of the uploads to his website. It's not that he cares about it a lot; after all, this whole thing was just a means to his real plan. Nevertheless, it's still nice to see some new, though crappy photos of Peter every once in a while. 

Frowning, Tony looks at a bunch of blurry, badly cropped pictures secretly taken by some greedy, shameless assholes from Peter’s school. His baby boy has been at school for four weeks now… Jane Foster seems to be doing an amazing job with Peter’s therapy, which is rather unsettling. After all, the better Peter gets, the harder it will be to break him again... 

Not for the first time Tony’s debating whether he should give orders to assassinate Foster, but that would probably be a very stupid move. Just like killing Fury would be. 

Killing anyone close to Peter or the case could lead to security measures increasing again. Something Tony can’t risk, because the more time passes, the more time Peter gets to heal. Fury’s death has to wait, but just last week, Tony gave orders to assassinate Beck. That fucking bastard of a lawyer has enough dangerous clients that his death won’t necessarily raise any suspicions. 

 

Over the course of the next couple of weeks, Tony meticulously works out every last detail of his plan, going through a vast array of possible scenarios over and over again. Eventually, he lets Rhodey in on some parts of the plan after all, asking him for his opinion. 

"Jesus, Tony…” Rhodey warily glances at the charts Tony put onto his pinwall. “You want to use one of Quill’s smuggler routes to get back to New York? May I remind you that it’s that idiot’s fault that SHIELD got their hands on the wedding photos?”

“I know, but this is his field of expertise. T’Challa is considered a persona non grata even in some African countries right now, so he can only get me to Algeria. From there, I’ll take one of Quill’s smuggler cargo planes flying to a small airport in Pennsylvania. They’ve smuggled enough people to know the drill. Happy’s gonna take over from there.”

Rhodey sighs deeply, brows furrowed in concern. ”This is like… Even if all of this works out, you still need to get the boy and leave the US with him. And, excuse me for saying this, what you’ve planned is very risky. Why don’t you just tell your guy to snatch Peter from the street or… bribe one of his guards to let you into the apartment? Or kidnap his aunt or one of his friends and blackmail Peter into coming to wherever you want him to?”

“Because Peter gets driven everywhere by at least two bodyguards,” Tony explains, a little irritated, “I can’t risk bribing one - or both - of them. And nothing’s gonna change about that for a while. Peter isn’t even allowed to exit the apartment on his own, and while gunning down his guards would technically be possible, there would always be witnesses we’d have to kill as well. Which is way too risky. I also can’t enter that building without authorities finding out because all the cameras are connected to Marshals’ New York headquarters. Even if I disrupted the signals, everyone would be put on alert. This building is a fucking death trap. I can’t draw any attention to me or I’ll be fucked, meaning I have to take him without raising anyone’s suspicions.” 

When Rhodey looks doubtful still, Tony snorts. “Compared to the heist or the raid of the Red Room Academy, this is a piece of cake.

"Yes, Tony, but back then you had me and some of the others with you. But now… I don't feel comfortable letting you do this on your own." Rhodey looks at Tony urgently. “Let me come with you. And I’m sure Steve and Bucky will come too, if you-”

“No,” Tony cuts him off, trying to swallow down the lump blocking his throat. He doesn’t deserve Rhodey. “I really appreciate it, but… I don’t want to put you or any of the others in unnecessary danger. I wouldn’t forgive myself if you got locked in prison or… if you got killed because of me.”

Sighing once again, Rhodey flashes Tony a sad smile. “Then promise me you’ll be careful."

“You know me,” Tony says, winking. “I’m always careful.”

Just in case things do go wrong, Tony considers saying goodbye to everyone, but he decides against it. Natasha is so furious with Tony for starting a manhunt less than a week after their heart-to-heart talk, that he wouldn’t put it past her trying to warn Peter about Tony going back to New York. To make sure she won’t find out, Tony also doesn’t tell Bruce, Clint, Thor, Val, or Wanda about him leaving. 

If he’s lucky, his absence won’t even catch their eye, because if things go as planned, it will only take Tony about two to three week to get back - with Peter. And once they’re both here, there’s nothing Nat can do about it anymore. Not unless she wants to be locked up like Loki.

Yet, when the day of departure has come, Tony can’t help being nervous. It’s not necessarily a bad sign, though; in the morning before the heist, they were all nervous as fuck. But something about what Rhodey said is true: Ever since his parents’ death, Tony always had him - or one of his other friends - by his side. It feels weird doing something like this alone.

But author Vi Keeland once said - ‘Fear doesn’t stop death. It stops life.’ And since Peter is Tony’s life, he has to try and get him back, or die trying. 

If he doesn’t give it a try, Tony will never find his peace.


The first few days back at school were hard for Peter. Really hard. Quiet and withdrawn, he kept his head low, only speaking when it was absolutely necessary.

On the first day, he was too intimidated to have lunch in the cafeteria, so he hid in the bathroom where he nibbled at his apple, trying to convince Ned to leave him alone and eat with the others. 

After a few moments of arguing, Flash, of all people, entered the bathroom, anxiously glancing between Ned and Peter. Gathering all his courage, Peter asked Ned to leave them alone. Then, he turned to face Flash, heart pounding so rapidly he could feel it in his throat. Although they’d spoken before in the group video calls, seeing each other in person after everything that had happened was different. 

“Flash, I’m… I’m so sorry for what-”

“Don’t.” Flash shook his head, forcing his lips into an forgiving smile. “There’s no need to apologize. You had no choice and…” Tears glistened in Flash’s eyes and he swallowed thickly. “If anyone has to apologize, it’s me. I always put you through a lot, and you didn’t deserve that. I’m sorry, Peter. I really am.”

Flash then extended his hand and Peter, feeling touched, shook it.

Since Ned threatened to have lunch with Peter in the bathroom for the rest of their high school year if he had to, Peter begrudgingly dragged his feet to the cafeteria the next day, not daring to look at anyone. But in the following weeks, Peter eventually became more relaxed and started to enjoy eating with the others. 

Even though he still only speaks nowadays when he’s directly addressed, he’s very grateful to be part of a friend group that lets him be him and doesn't judge him for what happened. 

Not everyone at school is kind to him, though. There are students who always start whispering when they see him, their mean grins showing that they’re making fun of him of sorts. Others seem to be pissed about the ‘special treatment’ Peter receives, like not having to take P. E. or being spared from having to do presentations in front of the class. Thanks to his three bodyguards following him, nobody ever dares to say anything bad to his face, though. 

And yet, Peter often thinks he wouldn’t have the strength to pull through without his friends. Especially when in February, one of the things Peter’s been dreading most comes up: college application interviews.

In the last couple of weeks, Peter wrote application letters to three colleges - NYU (MJ’s college of choice), ESU and - after some hesitation - MIT (Ned’s and - before the heist - Peter’s college of choice). Even though all three colleges offer programs Peter’s interested in - Biochemistry, Biophysics or Chemical Engineering - MIT has always been his life-long dream. Not only is it weird to know that Tony went there, though, it would require Peter to move to Massachusetts, meaning he’d have to leave May - and MJ - behind. Which he can’t see himself doing right now. Not with Tony still on the loose...

His friends eventually persuade him to do interviews with all three colleges, saying that Peter could still turn MIT down if he got in and didn’t feel ready to move.

However, Peter is so nervous and awkward during the interviews that he’s convinced he won’t even have to face the dilemma of being accepted into any of the universities. 

The representatives all seem to know who he is right from the beginning, despite Peter not mentioning anything about being ‘the boy who got raped on public television’ in his letters. Even though they’re very discreet and careful about it, all three end up asking him whether he feels ‘ready' to go to college and whether ‘security would be an issue’.

“This doesn’t have to mean anything bad,” May tries to cheer Peter up when he tells her about it during dinner, “I’m sure they’re obligated to ask these things.”

“Doesn’t change the fact that my appearance might endanger everyone else on campus,” Peter says despondently, concealing that he actually started crying during the interviews for NYU and MIT, proving that he’s most certainly not ready to go to college.

Wade, who’s over for dinner again, shakes his head. “There are always ways, Peter. You wouldn’t be the first person in the program going to college, and it’s not that different to attending school. As long as the security level doesn’t go back to four - or five, even - it’s manageable. Speaking of, I heard them talking about reducing security to level two in the next couple of weeks.”

May gasps. “Already? But Stark’s website is still up, isn’t it?”

“Yes,” Wade agrees, cocking his head to the side, “but nobody ever said or posted anything about receiving any money, so they think Stark only started that manhunt to mess with Peter.”

“Did they seriously expect anyone to be so stupid and publicly brag or complain about receiving or not receiving any money for sending Tony an illegitimately taken pic of me?” Peter asks, raising his brows in disbelief. “Just because there aren’t any reports doesn’t mean he made it up. We know that he blocked people for sending in crap, after all.”

“I know, but nothing indicates that either Stark or the other Avengers pose an immediate threat to you right now,” Wade explains softly. “SHIELD and Marshals Service have always been very careful in your case, Peter. Like I said, they put you on level four without any particular reason.”

When May looks at Peter with pinched eyebrows, Wade puts his hand on her arm, smiling soothingly. “I don’t need a second person to help me protect this apartment, May. I’d like to meet the motherfucker who manages to get past me without receiving a hole through his fucking head in return. And the others are skilled as well.”

Knowing he can’t really change anything about his protection anyways, Peter decides not to worry about it too much. There’s already enough things burdening him.

Even though he's a lot more comfortable with kissing and touching Michelle now, Peter recently became anxious about being a lousy lover. After all, the only thing Peter thinks he’s somewhat good at is giving hand- and blowjobs, which won't exactly help him satisfy Michelle. 

He actually tried to talk to Ned about it a week ago when they were hanging out playing games. Up to this point, he still has no idea how the topic even came up, but suddenly he started rambling about his insecurities, face as red as a tomato.

“I mean, I’m really glad that I stopped having panic attacks when we kiss and stuff and… I really like what we’re doing, but I know she wants to do more and I guess I would be ready but I’m so afraid that I’ll disappoint her. Like, I have no fucking idea what I’m even supposed to do… you know? What if I’m just plain bad at this?” 

“Dude… we’re teenagers,” Ned chuckled, rolling his eyes. ”Neither one of us knows what we’re supposed to do. Just… do what you feel like doing, or what feels good to the both of you, I guess? There’s no sense in stressing yourself out over this. You both need to figure out what you like, first.”

Peter didn’t dare to tell him, but this is part of the problem. Peter already knows what he likes, but he genuinely doubts he’ll ever be confident enough to ask Michelle to do any of those things he barely even dares to admit to himself.

But since he doesn’t even know what having sex with a girl feels like, he assumes he should give it a try before comparing it to having sex with a guy, and stop stressing himself out. After all, Michelle’s not gonna hit or rape him if he sucks at satisfying her. Besides, she’s probably as clueless as he is - or even more clueless, considering she didn't go 'all the way' with Brad.

However, the first attempt of taking a careful next step turns into a disaster. During a particularly steamy make-out session a few days after the college interviews, one of Peter’s worst fears comes true. 

They’re in nothing more than their underwear, with Michelle lying on top of Peter, when she pinches his nipple for the first time, eliciting a loud moan from Peter’s lips. “Oh… you like that, huh?” she grins, leaning down to tease it with her teeth.

Before Peter even knows what hit him, he gasps, instinctively bucking his hips upwards. “Ye-es, sir, I do.”

Instantly, they stop dead in their tracks, arousal vanishing into thin air. 

Although Michelle later insists that Peter shouldn’t worry about it, they end up taking a break from making out for almost three weeks until a rainy Saturday in the third week of March. 

For the second Saturday in a row, Peter and Michelle spent the early afternoon doing charity work for a local animal shelter. Things went so great that Peter’s still radiating with happiness when they decide to watch some Netflix at his place afterwards. 

Feeling inspired, Peter doesn’t even turn on the TV before he flings Michelle onto his bed to kiss her, relieved when she immediately kisses back hungrily and full of desire. Wanting to make up for last time, Peter eventually takes off both of their shirts before he carefully opens the buttons of her jeans.

When Michelle doesn’t object, Peter slowly pulls them off and lies down next to her. He presses their lips together once more, letting his right hand roam over her waist, hips, and the curve of her ass before moving it - very slowly - to her front. Knowing Michelle would stop him if he did anything she wasn't comfortable with, Peter eventually moves his finger to her clit, cautiously rubbing over her sensitive spot through her panties. 

Lips trembling, Michelle pushes her hips forward, gasping into the kiss once Peter presses his fingers down more firmly. It doesn’t take long until the silky fabric of her underwear feels damp. 

“Does that feel good?” Peter mumbles into her mouth, his cock twitching excitedly when she moans softly. 

“Y-Yes, very good.

With a smile, Peter breaks the kiss, gathering all his courage to ask, “May I, um… taste you?”

Michelle blinks a few times, not sure whether she heard right. “You want to… a-are you sure?”

“I am… And before you ask, May’s not gonna be back from work until eight.” When Michelle bites down on her bottom lip, hesitating, Peter quickly adds, going slightly pink around the nose, “W-We don’t have to, not at all.”

Blushing as well, Michelle hesitates for a few more seconds before she says, “I… I think I’d like that, but, um… are you sure that’s okay for you?”

“Yes,” Peter says, smiling reassuringly, “I mean, it’s not like I’ve ever done it before, s-so, um, I don’t think it will trigger any flashbacks… you know? And I’m really… curious.” 

Looking nervous, yet excited, Michelle eventually nods her head, eyes sparkling with anticipation. “Okay. If you really want to, let’s do it. But promise you’ll stop if it makes you feel uncomfortable or anxious or anything.”

“Promise,” Peter smiles before sitting up on his knees, slowly pulling off Michelle’s underwear.

Performing oral sex on a girl is completely different to giving a blowjob, but Peter thinks he enjoys it a lot more - after all, it neither hurts, nor does it make him gag and choke. Despite having no idea what he’s actually doing, Peter fortunately doesn’t seem to be too bad at it - at least judging by the moans and needy sounds coming from Michelle’s throat that eventually culminate in a raspy cry and a violent jerking of her legs on either side of his head. 

Once Michelle’s come down from her high, she offers to return the favor, but Peter shakes his head, not wanting to risk calling her ‘sir’ again. Or asking her for permission to cum...

“Thanks, but… I think I need a few more weeks,” he whispers, gently kissing her forehead as he pulls her into his arms. It feels nice to be able to hold someone for once, rather than be held all the time. “But maybe next time you can… try to touch me, if you want.”

Smiling brightly, she snuggles closer to him. “I’d like that. I love you, Peter… with all my heart.”

Tears start prickling in the corners of his eyes when Peter gives her another kiss, this time, on her nose. “I love you too. I don't know what I'd do without you.”

 

The following Monday, only two days before the one-year-anniversary of the heist, Peter’s security does indeed get reduced to level two. To May’s - and his - relief, there are no extraordinary occurrences on the day of the anniversary whatsoever, and although Peter almost expected Tony to make a post on his website and reference it in some way, he doesn’t, giving him fresh hope that Tony has given up for real, this time.

On Sunday at ten, Wade picks up May for a romantic brunch, leaving Peter all by himself to worry about the college acceptance letters that are supposed to arrive either next or the following week. So far, Peter still has no idea what he should do in case he gets accepted into more than one college - or worse, into none of them.

To distract himself, he powers on the Bluetooth speaker he got from Wade last week, and puts on a bunch of old rock songs Tony has gotten him into. While listening to the music, Peter starts to research some stuff for the physics project Michelle and he need to get done by Wednesday. They spontaneously set a date for three p.m. to work on it together, but he figures they’ll be done sooner - and thus, get more time to cuddle and make out - if he looks up some information beforehand.

At two p.m., May and Wade get back from their brunch date, carrying a bunch of grocery bags into the kitchen.

“How was brunch?” Peter asks when he joins them, grabbing a few bottles of water and soda to put them into the storeroom. 

“Oh, it was fantastic, honey,” May says, leaning over to give him a quick kiss on the cheek. “Next time, you need to come with us.”

“They even had Chimichangas,” Wade tosses in, chuckling when May playfully rolls her eyes. Then, she focuses her attention back on Peter.

“Did you have lunch already or should I make you some sandwiches?”

“No, thanks, I’ve already eaten,” he smiles, exchanging a few more words with them before going back to his room. 

Shortly before three, the doorbell rings. Expecting Michelle, Peter goes back into the living room, but it’s not MJ standing in the doorway in front of May. It’s Anders, the agent guarding the apartment until the beginning of Mullner’s shift at six, looking flustered. 

“Sorry to disturb you, Mrs. Parker, but can I speak to Wade?”

“What’s going on?” Wade asks with a frown, raising from the couch to join May at the door. 

“My wife and daughter were in an accident and they- I-It doesn’t look good, so I need to get to the hospital in case-” He cuts off, swallowing thickly. “I tried to call Peterson to send in a surrogate for the rest of my shift, but I can’t reach him.”

“Oh, fuck, that’s horrible,” Wade says, glancing at May before looking at his wristwatch. “Theo’s starting at six, right? Hm… I can take over if you want. I’ll try to call Peterson and explain what happened, and you see that you get to your wife and baby girl. Just lemme get my gun real quick.”

“Sure, thank you,” Anders says, sounding relieved. “Thanks, man, I owe you one.”

Peter feels a pang of guilt when the man nervously shifts from one foot to the other, waiting impatiently for Wade to return from the bedroom where he always locks his gun into May’s small safe whenever he's visiting. Anders is so flustered he flinches when Michelle appears next to him in the open doorway, brows furrowed in confusion. 

“Um… Hi?”

“Hi,” Peter says, forcing his lips into a smile when Michelle warily steps into the apartment.

“What’s going on?” she asks, looking between Anders, Peter and May. “Everything okay?” 

Before Peter can answer, Wade comes back from the bedroom, stopping dead in his tracks when his eyes fall on Michelle. “Wha- When did you get here?”

“Just now. Should I leave again?” Michelle raises her brows, shooting Peter a slightly irritated look. 

“Of course not,” he says quickly, beckoning her over. “I’ll explain in a sec.” Then, he flashes Anders what he hopes is an encouraging smile. “I hope your family’s gonna be okay, Mr. Anders. I’m so sorry.”

Once they’re in his room, Peter tells Michelle what happened.  

“Oh my god... that’s awful,” she says, sitting down on Peter’s bed. “I hope they’ll be okay.”

Feeling a little depressed, they decide to start working on their project right away. However, not only fifteen minutes later, Peter’s phone starts ringing. When he grabs it with an apologetic look at Michelle, he sees that it’s an unknown number.

Frowning, Peter picks up. “Yes?” 

There’s a few seconds of silence, but then, a dead, growling voice resonates from the speaker that makes Peter’s blood run cold. “Hello, Peter.

Instantly, panic crawls through Peter’s veins, making him shiver. Gasping, Peter clutches the phone more tightly, his fingers shaking. It can’t be...

“W-Who is this?” he asks in denial, voice strained and rasp. It's not possible.

He’s met with a snort that makes his hair stand on end. “Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten what my voice sounds like.”

No. Peter hasn’t. In fact, he’s certain that he will recognize Tony Stark’s voice until the day he dies.

Chapter Text

Peter isn’t aware that Michelle is staring at him questioningly, isn’t aware that he started sweating, isn’t aware that he stopped breathing

This isn’t possible. It can’t be.

Eventually, there’s a sigh on the other side of the line. “I gotta say, after so many months of seperation, I expected you to be a little more excited,” Tony says dryly, voice thick with sarcasm.

Musterring all his courage, Peter croaks out, “G-Go to hell,” about to end the call when-

“I know where you live." 

“N-No,” Peter stutters, ignoring Michelle’s anxious whisper about who he was talking to. “Y-You don’t-”

“28-10 Williams Road, apartment 1504A,” Tony says, sounding almost bored. Peter lets out a choked up sob; he wants to beg Tony to leave them alone, to plead with him not to hurt them, but his lips won’t move. 

“Did you actually think I would let you get off so easily?” Tony hisses after a few seconds of silence. “That you could just escape from me and be free? No, slut. I’m far from being done with you.” Tony pauses, his voice mockingly fond when he starts again. “But, given that I have such a big, kind heart, I’m willing to forgive you for every fucking stunt you pulled. Let bygones be bygones. I even killed Beck for you as a sort of… peace offering.”

Peter draws the air in sharply. He heard about Beck being found dead in his own car two weeks ago, but from what he recalled, they blamed it on some supposed mafia client he lost an important case for. “That was- that was you?”

“You're welcome.”

After a fearful glance at Michelle, who’s still watching him open-mouthed, brows furled, Peter swallows thickly. “W-What do you want?”

“About time you asked,” Tony sneers. “Believe it or not, but I don’t want this to turn into a massacre. For your sake, for mine, and for the poor innocent people having the bad luck of living in this building with you. So, you can either move your ass down to the street, alone, or me and some of my friends will come up and get you. And trust me, you don’t want them to meet your aunt hottie. Unless she wants to participate in a gangbang with a bunch of very excited men, of course. Then you should probably stay put and allow her to live her dream.”

Whimpering feebly, Peter tries not to think about the Avengers or some equally cruel men hurting May - or Michelle, since she's here right now as well. 

Unfazed, Tony continues, “In case you’re smart enough to choose option one, use the emergency staircase and leave the building through the locked back door. The code is 55421. Oh, no, wait..." - Peter can almost hear Tony smirking - “That’s the code to get to your apartment. My bad. The code for the back door is 36240. I’m texting it to you so you won’t forget.”

Peter’s sweaty hand is shaking so much he’s starting to have trouble holding the phone. Does Tony have the right codes? When he stays silent, Tony’s voice turns dark. “Not a single word to anyone about this. I will find out if you alert the police or Fury or any of those assholes you call guards, trust me. This is your only chance to save your aunt’s life and make me forgive you. You better not waste it, or our inevitable reunion is gonna be so much worse than anything you could have even imagined. You have five minutes.”

A beep signals that Tony ended the call. Frozen in shock, Peter keeps sitting there for a few more seconds, holding the silent phone to his ear, before adrenaline kicks in. Five minutes. 

He can’t let him hurt May. Or Michelle. Or Wade. Or anyone else.

He… he needs to...

Like a scalded cat, Peter jumps up, causing Michelle to flinch. “Who the fuck was that?”

‘Not a single word to anyone about this.’ 

Colour draining from his face, Peter tries to swallow the lump of bile blocking his throat. “I… I need to... use the toilet.”

However, he’s barely reached the door when Michelle comes up next to him, putting her hand on the knob to prevent Peter from turning it. Her pupils are widened in alarm. “Peter… who called you?”

Not daring to look her in the eyes, Peter glances down on the floor. “D-Do you… do you trust me?” he whispers, feeling more awful than ever before.

“I do, but-”

“Then please let me out. I… I need to talk to Wade. It’s important. Please stay here in my room.” Before Michelle can protest, Peter gently pushes her hand to the side before wrenching the door open, quickly slipping through and closing it behind him again.

His stomach churns when he sees that May’s sitting on the couch with a book, meaning that Wade is indeed standing outside the apartment to keep watch. How is he supposed to slip past him? 

May looks up when Peter jogs through the living room, approaching the entrance door. “Where are you going, sweetie?”

“Um… J-Just asking Wade something about our project,” Peter lies, feeling a pang of guilt when May’s lips curl into a happy smile.

“Aw, that’s sweet of you to think of him. I’m sure he’ll love to help you.”

Making sure to close the entrance door behind him, Peter slowly turns towards Wade, heart racing. The man is sitting in his usual spot - a comfortable chair next to the apartment door. He looks up from his newspaper when Peter carefully approaches him. “What’s up?”

“I… A friend from school just called and, um, he’s down in the lobby with some books Michelle and I need for our project and… the guard down at the elevator won’t let him pass, s-so I’ll go down for a sec and get them.”

Wade frowns. “The guards downstairs know they’re supposed to get in touch with you if there’s an unannounced visitor.”

Peter curses himself for his stupidity. “Y-Yeah, but… there seems to be an issue with that or something. It’s no big deal, it’ll just take me a minute.”

“No,” Wade says, folding the paper. “You know that you can’t go down by yourself, not even for a minute. And I'm not allowed to abandon my post to go with you either. I’m sorry, Peter, but if your friend can’t come up for some reason, you’ll have to ask May or Michelle to go down for you. Or you’ll have to request personal security.”

Peter anxiously glances at his phone. Tony really sent him a message, it seems, but Peter's eyes are fixed on the clock. Almost three minutes have passed. Overcome by despair, Peter loses his head; without thinking, he dashes off, hand wrapping around the handle of the heavy steel door leading to the staircase. However, Wade catches him before Peter manages to slip through the door. He grabs him around the arm and pulls him back. “Jeez, what are you-”

“L-Let me go, please,” Peter cries, trying to tear away from Wade’s tight grip. “J-Just let me go.”

“What’s going on here?”

They both freeze when they look back at the apartment. May’s standing in the doorway, eyes widened fearfully. Next to her is Michelle, nervously biting around on the fingernails of her left hand. 

Once more, Peter tries to yank free, but then, his strength leaves him. Legs buckling, Peter bursts into tears, the only thing keeping him from falling being Wade holding onto him. 

Mumbling an apology, Wade carefully loosens his grip. May rushes forward and pulls Peter into an embrace. "Peter, what-" 

"T-Tony called me," Peter chokes out, a knot tightening in his chest. Ignoring May's and Michelle's fearful gasps, he looks at Wade, whose eyes widen in alarm. "He gave me five minutes to go down or… or he will… Wade, w-what's today's code for the apartment?"

"55241," Wade hesitantly says. "Why?" 

Horrified, Peter screws his eyes shut. "Then he has the right one."

Whereas May and MJ let out a terrified shriek, Wade gasps. “He knows the code?" When Peter nods, the man curses. "Fuck, this is… this is bad. I need to call the headquarters. Looks like we have a mole in our midst."

"Anders?" May asks, voice shaking. 

When Peter squints through his lids, he sees Wade tilting his head. "Maybe. What else did Stark say, Peter? Tell me everything you remember, every detail could be important.”

In a few words, Peter quickly tells them what Tony said. When he's finished, both May and Michelle are crying, and Wade has started walking back and forth nervously. “That’s not good… that's not good… I honestly doubt it was Carl because he would’ve let Stark know that I’m filling in, or he would’ve just left without saying anything to us. I think Stark lured him away, hoping he'd leave the apartment unguarded if he was unable to reach- oh shit. " Wade freezes, pupils dilating in alarm. "I wasn't able to reach Peterson either."

Shocked, May puts a hand over her mouth. "D-Do you think it's him?" 

"No, I… Fuck, I don’t know.” Wade then looks at Peter, determination sparkling in his eyes as he squares his shoulders. "All right, here’s what we’re gonna do. We have the advantage of Stark not knowing I’m here, presumably, or he wouldn’t have bothered luring Carl away. He had to know that no guard would let you pass and go down on your own, so he needed to make sure you’re without protection. Same goes for his threat of coming up here. No matter what, since Stark has the code, we need to get out of here asap. There's a bunch of emergency protocols for situations like these. As soon as we're on our way, I'll call Peterson, Rumlow, and Fury. They can’t all be in on it."

“But… What if this is what he wants?" Peter says, unable to keep his voice steady. "What if he does know you’re here, and wants to lure us out because he knows he can’t risk accessing the building? I mean, there's still guards down in the hall."

Wade ponders about it for a sec, but then he shakes his head. "No, we can't take the risk. You don't know if and how many people are helping him. And what if the guards downstairs are the ones who gave him the code or… got bribed to 'look away'? And even if not, if Stark and his men know the code to the back door, they'll be up here in a matter of minutes. Or they already came up before he called you, so they wouldn’t lose time in case you refused him."

May lets out a panicked whimper. "Oh my god." Sobbing, she fumbles for Peter's arm, grabbing it tightly. “W-We have to get out of here.”

With a somber expression, Wade tabs the gun in his holster. "Don’t worry," he growls, a dark shadow flickering over his face. “I told you, nobody’s gonna die on my watch. I swore to protect Peter with my life, May. Nothing's gonna happen to you, I promise. Grab a jacket, but leave your phones. Stark could be tracking them.”

"But I need to call my mom," MJ says with a panicked expression, but Wade shakes his head once again. 

“If there really is a mole in Marshals Service, they could track your phone in a minute. I guess that’s how Stark got Peter’s number. I always have a prepaid phone for emergencies with me that nobody knows about. I promise we'll call your mom once we’re safe.”

Then, he hands his normal phone over to May, who hurries back into the apartment with Peter and Michelle to grab their jackets. Before Peter flings his phone onto the couch, he looks at the clock one last time. 3:43 p.m. Tony called him eleven minutes ago. They wasted so much time.

Back in the corridor, Michelle and May both grab one of Peter’s hands, trembling as badly as him. They run after Wade, who’s already pressed the button to call the elevator, hand still resting on his holster. When the doors open with a bing, they all draw the air in sharply, but fortunately, the elevator cab is empty. 

Wade presses the button for the garage, and although Peter knows this elevator isn't supposed to make any stops between floors to reduce the chance of witnesses meeting each other, he’s still holding his breath until they’re savely down in the garage.

Fortunately, there’s nobody waiting for them down here either. In fact, they don’t see anyone as they hurry to one of the SUVs belonging to their apartment. Since each of the guards always has a key for emergencies, Wade quickly unlocks the car and tells May to get into the back with Peter and MJ, ordering them to huddle up. 

Wade takes out the emergency light from the glovebox and pins it to the car roof. Then, he closes the door and starts the engine. “Keep your heads down.” Hunched up between his crying girlfriend and his sobbing aunt, Peter keeps his head low, only coming up again once Wade says, “All right… we’re ten blocks away now. Looks like nobody’s following us. You can come up.”

“Where are we going?” May asks, but Wade puts his index finger onto his lips before pointing to the console. 

“I’ll tell you once it’s safe.” He puts emphasis on the last word, sending goosebumps all over Peter’s skin. Are these cars bugged? He knows they are equipped with GPS trackers, but-

Oh shit. “Don’t they have GPS?” Peter asks fearfully, leaning forward. 

Wade glances at him through the rearview mirror. “Yes. That’s why we’re gonna change cars in a few minutes, to make sure nobody can track or follow us.”

A few minutes later, Wade steers the car into a small garage in an abandoned industrial neighborhood of Queens. As soon as the garage door has closed, he urges them to get out. 

“What is this place?” May asks, shivering.

“A garage I own with my friend Weasel. I think I told you that we like to tinker around with cars.” Wade points at an old Chevrolet station wagon parked right next to the expensive SUV. “This is what we’ve been working on lately. It's not the most comfortable car, but it works just fine. Come on, hurry.”

When Peter sees Wade attach a silencer to his gun, a barely noticeable tingle runs down his spine. Something isn’t right.

Now that he's calmed down a bit, he can't help thinking that Tony’s plan was… way too imprudent. Anders could have called anyone else from Marshals Service or SHIELD or even the fucking police to send someone to take over temporarily. Anders only knocked because... he knew Wade was here. But if Wade hadn't been here, Anders most likely would have waited for a surrogate because he knows what is at stake. He wouldn’t have left them unguarded. And even if he’d had, there’s a shit ton of other things that could have gone wrong. But Tony’s plans aren’t flawed. Because of his panic and Wade’s determination to get them out of there, Peter wasn’t able to think straight earlier. But now…

Desperately hoping to be wrong, Peter looks at Wade, voice shaking ever so slightly. “C-Can I please have your phone and… call Fury? Now?” Out of the corners of his eyes, Peter can see May and Michelle turning to look at him. “I know his number by heart. No matter how awful he is, I know he can be trusted. I’m sure he’ll help us.”

“I’ll call him once we’re on our way,” Wade soothes. “We can’t stay here for long in case they’re already tracking the SUV back here. Someone must have noticed us leaving on the cameras, so Stark might already know we’re gone.”

“But if… if they noticed us leaving on the cameras, they must have noticed Anders leaving too, right? And… so they must have known you were… filling in.” Meaning Tony would’ve known Wade would be here in any case...

Wade sounds strangely tense when he says, “I don’t know. Maybe Stark knew, maybe he didn’t. There’s no time to discuss this now. Get in the car, please, come on.”

Whereas May and Michelle move to the station wagon, Peter stays rooted on the spot. “Where are we going?”

“Safe house,” Wade says, failing to keep the irritation from his voice. “There’s a few just outside the city.”

“Why aren’t we heading to SHIELD headquarters or the nearest police station?”

“Because I'm following an official emergency protocol, and they all tell us to go to a safe house," Wade says through clenched teeth, eyes gleaming oddly. "If you think you know it better, feel free to stay here or take a fucking taxi to the nearest police station while I'm getting May and Michelle to fucking safety."

"Wade, calm down," May hisses before looking at Peter pleadingly. "Honey, please… Wade knows what he's doing. Get in the car."

Swallows thickly, Peter shakes his head. "O-Only if you let me call Fury," he insists, not daring to take his eyes off Wade. 

The man sighs deeply before he forces his lips into a fake, unhinged smile. "Sure thing, sweetums."

Peter involuntarily flinches back when Wade walks up to him with an intimidating stride. Everything inside of Peter screams at him to tell May and MJ to run, but the only thing coming out of his mouth is a raspy sound. 

“Wade, what are you-” The rest of May’s sentence is drowned out by the scream coming from Michelle’s mouth when Wade suddenly lunges at Peter, grabbing him around the waist. Panicking, Peter thrashes in his grip, turning this way and that, but just like earlier, Wade is way too strong for him. 

In a matter of seconds, Peter finds himself in a tight chokehold, the cold barrell of the silencer pressing against his temple.

“You just can’t keep your fucking mouth shut, can you?” Wade hisses in Peter’s ear before spinning him around to face Michelle and May, still standing a few feet away from them, frozen in shock. When Peter’s tear-filled eyes meet May’s, she stumbles back, a look of pure horror on her face. 

“W-What... w-what is going on,” she cries, shaking so terribly she can barely stand anymore. “W-Wade, what are you d-doing?”

“He… He’s the mole,” Michelle whispers, paralysed with fear, unable to prevent the tears from running out of her eyes.

Peter’s heart breaks when May shakes her head frantically. “N-No, you… you’re not. Wade, please tell me you’re not. Please.”

But Wade’s voice is ice cold when he speaks, “No, Michelle's right. I’m the mole. Did anyone seriously think I was the good guy in this god-awful story of whump and pain?” 

Ignoring the choked-up sobs coming from May, Wade takes a few steps back, pulling Peter with him. “This is nothing personal, but if you don’t want me to blast a hole in Bambi’s head, then you two better stay as quiet as possible and follow my instructions. Open the trunk.”

“P-Please let him go,” May sobs, eyes empty when she looks at Wade. “Please l-let… let them go. They’re just… j-just kids. You don’t have to do this, you… y-you’re a good person, you-”

Wade lets out one of his barking laughs, but this time, it doesn’t sound sympathetic. It sounds unpleasant and a touch mad. “You don’t know shit, May. You have no fucking idea who I truly am, and you don’t want to find out, trust me. Although I greatly enjoyed our nights together, I can’t say I give an actual fuck about any of you. You are just another job for me, and a very lucrative one at that.” Then, he tightens his grip on Peter’s neck, making him wheeze. “I won’t repeat myself. Open the fucking trunk.”

Michelle’s the first one to move. After a fearful, desperate look at Peter, she hesitantly moves to the rear of the station wagon, opening the trunk with her shaking hands. She too starts sobbing when she looks inside the trunk, grasping onto the edge to hold herself upright. 

“Take out one of the handcuffs and put them on May,” Wade orders, “May, put your hands behind your back.”

Shaking uncontrollably, Michelle moves towards May, who has dropped to the floor, breathing heavily. 

“Don’t.” Only when the two women look at him, Peter realizes that the word has come out of his own dry mouth. “D-Don’t… Don’t do it, Michelle.”

“Shut your fucking mouth,” Wade hisses, pressing the gun even more firmly against his temple. 

But Peter doesn’t listen. “If he’s- if he’s working for Tony, he won’t kill me. Tony wants me alive and… m-most likely unharmed. He won’t shoot me, please just… just try to get away.” Trying to blink away the veil of tears filling his eyes, he hopes that Michelle and May will do what he says and leave him behind.

“True,” Wade hisses before any of the two could have moved another inch. “I won’t shoot you.” 

Before Peter knows what’s happening, Wade has raised his arm and pointed his gun right at Michelle. The silenced 'pewt' sound is drowned out by Peter’s terrified shriek, and he watches in slow motion as Michelle tumbles, her mouth opened in a silent scream. It takes Peter a few anxious seconds to realize that she tumbled because she flinched, not because she got hit. 

Thank god.

“You're not on my hit list, Michelle, but I swear to god, the next bullet will blow a hole in your pretty face,” Wade growls, voice dull and quiet. “Trust me, I never miss.” 

Praying that someone out on the street heard his scream and will alert the police, Peter’s strength once again leaves him. With a defeated sob, his shaking legs give in, making him choke as he’s held up by nothing more than Wade’s arm wrapped around his neck, cutting off his air flow. 

Only once Wade realizes that Peter’s on the verge of passing out, he finally lets go, letting Peter fall to the ground, gasping and wheezing. It takes a few seconds until Peter’s vision has cleared enough to see again. When he lifts his head, he sees that May is still sitting on the floor, her hands cuffed. And Michelle, it seems, was ordered to cuff her own right hand to the leg of the workbench.

Desperately, Peter tries to look around for a weapon or anything to help them get out of this mess. However, only a second later Wade returns from the trunk, kneeling down in front of Peter with a white bottle and a rag. When Peter realizes what Wade’s about to do, it’s already too late. He weakly tries to prevent Wade from pressing the chloroformed rag against his face, but the man catches his arms, holding him down mercilessly.

Although Peter desperately tries to stay awake, he becomes more and more drowsy with every inhale he takes, until he’s eventually engulfed by darkness.


Tony’s pacing back and forth nervously, glancing at his phone every five seconds. Why isn't Wade texting him? It's been almost ninety minutes since Tony hung up on Peter. Depending on traffic, it shouldn’t take them longer than an hour to get to the abandoned warehouse.

What if things went wrong?

A knot tightens in Tony’s chest when he reads through the last text exchange he had with Wade. Michelle showing up unexpectedly was unfortunate, but by then, Anders had already gotten the fake call about his family. It was too late to abort the plan without putting everyone on alert, meaning Tony told Wade to take Michelle as well.

It isn't like Tony had never considered it before (especially after he found out just how close Peter and Michelle had gotten recently). But he figured it would be too risky to try and kidnap her as well. However, now that Tony will get his hands on her after all, he’ll make sure to show her his gratitude for trying to take Peter away from him, and for trying to make Tony look like a fool back in October... 

If he gets his hands on them…

Not for the first time Tony wonders if he should have tried to get into the building during one of Wade’s work shifts. But even if he had managed to trick the cameras and the guards downstairs, getting back out with Peter and May without raising suspicions would've been next to impossible. Them leaving the apartment with Wade, however - a person sworn to protect him and known to be dating May - won’t immediately put everyone on high alert, because Peter would still be with protection.

The initial plan was doing it during Wade’s own shift, but it was essential to let Peter and May think that Tony expected them to be left unguarded. That way, it was more likely they would leave with Wade without asking too many questions. Of course the Marshals at surveillance would eventually inform Peterson and - in succession - Fury about them leaving the apartment in a hurry, but once those idiots have finally realized that something is actually wrong, Wade would already be on his way.

And the last couple of months, everything worked out perfectly… Pursuing Pepper to get him Rumlow’s number... Starting that manhunt to increase Peter's security level and the need for more guards... Bribing Rumlow into infiltrating his own agency with Wade, a mercenary doing literally anything if the price was right… Peterson and everyone else at Marshals Service blindly trusting their director and believing the backstory they made up for Wade... Nobody scrutinizing why Peter’s security level got put on four without any particular reason, allowing them to instate Wade as May's bodyguard... Wade enchanting May, giving him the opportunity to find out everything Tony needed to know about Peter…

They had to be careful, of course, but together, they came up with a few ideas to draw Peter out, like giving him the Game of Thrones books or calling him nicknames. A particularly heartwarming moment was when Wade told Tony he’d caught Peter in the middle of the night wearing an oversized ‘Black Sabbath’ shirt. And even though May was reluctant to talk about her nephew’s problems, she eventually trusted Wade enough to tell him that Peter’s been struggling with a severe form of Stockholm Syndrome, confirming Tony’s hopes suspicions once and for all.

Everything was perfect… But now, it seemed like something went wrong. Frustrated, Tony kicks at a rusty bolt, watching in grim satisfaction as it flies off. He checks his phone again, cursing when there’s no message, no call, nothing. 

Just when he’s about to lose it, he hears a car pulling up outside. Heart leaping into his throat, Tony glances through one of the broken windows, and when he sees that it’s indeed Wade sitting behind the wheel of an old station wagon and not some random passersby, he sighs in relief. 

Impatiently, he watches Wade getting out of the car. As soon as he enters the warehouse, he snaps at him. “What took you so long?” Without bothering to wait for an answer, Tony adds, voice tense, “Do you have him?”

“Hi to you too.” Wade rolls his eyes. “Yeah, I got him, but I already had to overpower them in the garage because your precious baby boy started to smell the rat. Or rather, the mole.” 

He laughs about his own joke, but Tony is too anxious to join in. “Show me,” he demands, unable to wait any longer. Trying to calm down, he follows Wade outside on shaking legs. Just breathe. In and out. In and out. Yet, Tony’s about to start hyperventilating when Wade opens the trunk, pulling away the blanket from-

Tony gasps.

There in the spacious trunk, squeezed between his unconscious aunt and girlfriend, lies Peter, looking perfectly innocent and peaceful. If it weren’t for the duct tape wrapped around his head, ankles and wrists, one could think he was just sleeping. Barely able to hold back tears, Tony keeps on standing there for a few seconds, mesmerized by the sight of his baby boy. 

Six months, four days and twenty-two hours after Peter escaped, they are finally reunited. And now, Tony's gonna make sure that nothing - and no one - will seperate them ever again.

Chapter Text

“Say again?”

“We think the Parkers got kidnapped.”

For a few seconds, Fury stares ahead blankly, paralyzed with shock. “What the fuck happened?” he eventually hisses, cursing Peterson and the fucking idiots from Marshals Service.

“We’re not sure, but we think Wilson has something to do with it.”

“Wilson? Wade Wilson?” Feeling sick to his stomach, Fury closes his eye. Only four or five weeks ago Sharon told him that May was more or less dating the guy. He called Rumlow and Peterson about it, but they didn’t share his worries and called him paranoid, emphasizing what a great and reliable guard Wilson was.

“Yeah,” Peterson admits, having the decency to sound ashamed. “He had to step in for Carl Anders, who had to leave due to a family emergency, which turned out to be a hoax. Um. Looks like someone wanted to get him away from there, if you know what I mean... Anyways, we don’t know what happened exactly, but Peter came out of the apartment a few minutes later and talked to Wilson. Then he suddenly dashed off to the staircase, but Wilson stopped him. From the looks of it, Peter started crying. We don’t know what they were talking about, but it looked peaceful and… May and Peter’s girlfriend were there too, so the guys down at surveillance didn’t think anything was wrong with it.”

“What happened then?” Fury asks, grabbing his jacket and gun from the desk. He needs to mobilize every single SHIELD agent on or off duty. Yes, he's been hard on the kid, but that doesn't mean he doesn't care about him or his aunt. They need to find them before it’s too late.

“Peter, May, and the girl ran back to the apartment to get their jackets, and then they took the elevator down to the garage. With Wilson. One of the cameras shows them rushing to the car and driving out of the garage with the emergency lights on. Only then did they call me and ask whether Wilson reported an emergency.”

Fury doesn’t need to ask if he did. “Shit. Where did they go?” 

His stomach churns when Peterson hesitates. “Um… It seems, there’s an odd disturbance with the GPS signal of the car and… all of their phones are still in the apartment, including Wilson’s and the girl’s.”

“Michelle. Her name is Michelle,” Fury snaps at Peterson, jogging down the stairs. “You’re supposed to protect this kid, yet you don’t even know his girlfriend’s name? How fucking useless are you?”

There’s an awkward silence, before Peterson says, sounding desperate, “Look, my men are doing the best they can and Rumlow has already alerted the ministry and Thaddeus Ross. Every policeman and -woman in New York is looking for the SUV, and we're already evaluating surveillance videos from the area. We also informed the news agencies. We’ll find them, I promise.”

Fury snorts like an angry bull. “You better, or I’ll personally make sure you lose your fucking job.”

He doesn't say it out loud, but if this is Stark they're dealing with, only a miracle will be able to help them now. 


When Michelle wakes up it takes a few seconds for the fog inside her brain to fade. But then, the memories hit her like a freight train - Peter in a chokehold, a gun pressed to his head - May breaking down on the floor - A bullet barely missing her head - Wade pressing the rag to her face...

With a terrified whimper Michelle opens her eyes, looking at a dirty, concrete floor. She's sitting on a chair. Her hands are tied behind her back with what feels like duct tape, and her ankles are tied to the legs of the chair. There’s even more tape wrapped around her mouth, making it impossible to scream for help. 

Panicking, Michelle lifts her aching head, breaking into sobs when her eyes fall on Peter sitting opposite of her, ten feet away, tied to a chair as well. He’s still out of it, and no matter how loudly Michelle screams into her gag, he doesn’t stir. Same goes for May, who’s tied up two feet to MJ’s right.

Being more scared than ever before, Michelle frantically looks around, crying even harder when she doesn’t see anything that could help her free herself. The floor, walls and ceiling of the small room remind her of the old warehouse the Avengers took them to after escaping from the-

Oh god. If they really are in the warehouse, then there aren’t any houses or streets nearby, or anything else that would attract passer-bys. With all the strength she can muster, Michelle starts pulling at her restraints, struggling until she starts sweating. Accepting that it’s pointless, she tries to get closer to May by jerking the chair sideways, but she’s barely managed to move an inch when the door behind Peter gets smacked open, revealing Wade and-

Screaming, Michelle yanks at the tape again, shedding tears of sheer panic. 

He’s here.

Tony Stark, a large burn scar covering the left side of his face, making him look even more menacing in person than the photos she’s seen. There’s a cruel smile playing on his lips as he comes to stand behind Peter, staring right into Michelle’s eyes.

“Hello, Michelle,” he smirks, his voice as sinister as she remembers. Bathing in the fear radiating from her, Tony keeps his eyes on her for a few more seconds before turning his head to the left. “And hello, May. Nice to finally meet you in person.”


May hopes, prays, that she’s still unconscious. Waking up to Tony Stark and the guy she’s started to fall in love with standing behind her tied up and gagged nephew is worse than being trapped in one of her countless nightmares. Peter is still unconscious, but next to her, Michelle is awake, hyperventilating, her sobs and panicked breaths muffled by the tape around her mouth.

Unable to bear looking at either of the two men, May fixes her eyes on Peter. Tears of despair stream down her face when she catches herself almost wishing for him to be dead and never wake up again. It might make her the worst person in the world, but the mere idea of what Stark will do to Peter - now that he has him back at his mercy - is unbearable to think about. 

Maybe they should have begged Wade to shoot them and make it quick.

Wade…  

… This is all her fault. 

She let this monster into her home, into her bed. Desperate to have some light and hope in her life, May trusted him blindly, thinking he actually… felt the same about her as she felt for him. But he never did. He lured them into a trap, and now Peter and Michelle have to pay the price for her dire mistakes.

Knowing it’s pointless, May still tries to speak through the tape. She wants to plead with Stark to let Peter and Michelle go and do with her whatever he wants, but he only looks at her in mock confusion. 

“I’m afraid I can’t follow,” he chuckles, casually putting one hand on Peter’s right shoulder. Mad with fear, rage, and despair, May struggles against her bonds, but Stark only smirks, holding her gaze as he’s leaning down to place a kiss on Peter’s temple. “Don’t piss your panties, May. I won’t start the show until he's awake.”

Next to May, Michelle tries to yell through the tape, drawing Stark’s attention. There’s a dangerous gleam in his eyes when he glares at her. “As I told you a few months ago, there's no need to be jealous, you fucking cunt. We have about two more hours until we can leave this place, so there’s plenty of time to play. Nobody’s gonna miss out on the fun.”

Knowing no other way, May eventually forces herself to turn her head towards Wade. Looking at him with pleading eyes, she hopes that he can find it in his heart to help them - but he just stares at her unfazed, almost as if all of this wasn't bothering him in the slightest.

Only a few moments later, a rush of profound relief - and deep regret - washes over May when Peter groans, stirring slightly. Behind him, Stark takes a step back, an excited, disturbingly affectionate smile playing on his lips. 

It takes Peter a few seconds to open his eyes, but as soon as he sees May and Michelle his pupils dilate in panic. He starts pulling on his restraints as desperately as they have been doing for the last couple of minutes. Screaming into their gags, May and Michelle jerk their heads to make him aware that Stark is standing right behind him, but Peter doesn’t seem to understand, too occupied with trying to free himself.

“Don’t tell me you’ve already forgotten about your time in the engine room,” Stark snorts after a few more seconds, causing Peter to freeze in horror. His eyes open even wider and it looks like he stopped breathing. “You should know by now how pointless it is to try and free yourself.” With a snide smirk, Stark looks at May and Michelle. “I’m pretty sure he never told you what happened on the yacht, did he? You see, when we were travelling to the island, I used about the same amount of duct tape to restrain him in the engine room for what, four days? You don’t even want to imagine the mess he and the room were in once I cut him loose. Took him half a day to clean it all up again.”

Whereas Michelle whimpers brokenly, May’s heart clenches. This fucking monster.

Peter still hasn’t moved when Stark slowly creeps around him like a lion circling his prey. Only once Stark appears in Peter’s field of vision life comes back to her poor baby and he lets out a choked up sob, bowing his head so he wouldn’t have to look at the man who made his life hell. 


Tony can practically feel the fear radiating from Peter. With a grim expression, he grabs the boy’s chin and tilts his head up, forcing him to look at him. Tears are running down Peter’s cheeks, his puppy eyes shimmering with pain, anguish, and despair.

Swallowing down the sudden, disconcerting urge to soothe him, Tony grabs the end of the tape, pulling it off of Peter’s mouth. After letting out a pained cry, Peter immediately starts begging, his voice shaky and tearful. “P-Please, sir, let them go, please, I-I’ll do whatever you want. J-Just don’t hurt them, please.”

Hearing Peter beg like this sends a comforting warmth through Tony’s body. Back on the phone, Peter didn’t call him sir once - instead, he told Tony to go to hell like a fucking disrespectful brat, no doubt a result of being under Michelle’s bad influence for so long. But now it’s like they were never separated. Even though Peter’s recovered submissiveness could be an act, Tony doesn’t give a shit. It’s not like it will spare Peter the pain to come.

“I'm afraid I’ll get what I want regardless of your cooperation,” Tony snarls, tightening his grip. “Therefore, I don’t see what would be in it for me if I let them go, except a whole lot of trouble.”

Peter closes his eyes for a second, more sobs shaking his body. “Please, sir. I d-did what you wanted, I… I tried to leave the apartment and-”

“What I wanted?” Tony hisses, overcome with a sudden rush of anger. “I tell you what I wanted. I wanted you to not burn me with a fucking iron. I wanted you to not run away. I wanted you to not rat us out to the fucking police. And I wanted you to not tell the whole goddamn world about my fucking family.” With an angry snort, Tony lets go of Peter’s chin. “Do you remember what I told you I would do to you in case you ever told anyone about my past?”

It takes Peter a few seconds before he responds. “Y-You… you said you would... f-fuck me with your knife, sir,” he croaks, causing May and Michelle to let out distressed sounds behind Tony’s back.

“Not quite,” Tony quietly says. “I said I would first cut off your balls, so you can choke on them while I'm fucking you with my knife. And as you know, I never break my promises.” Tony waits for a few moments to indulge in the panic radiating from all three of his captives before he laughs. “But there’s a first time for everything. You would be much less fun without your balls and with a mutilated rectum. Fortunately, two more lovely guests I have no sexual interest in whatsoever happen to be here with us today.” 

With an evil smirk, he turns half around to wink at May and Michelle, who look like they’re on the verge of fainting. Crying even harder than before, Peter pleads with him again. "P-Please, sir, d-don’t hurt them, please... They didn’t do anything wrong, I did. L-Like you said, I was the one who ran away and… who burned you. Please, sir. Please, I promise I’ll never run away or… or misbehave or d-disappoint you ever again. I promise I’ll… be your good boy, sir, please...”

Fuck. For the split of a second, Tony can feel himself getting weak, but then he irritatedly shakes his head. He needs to punish Peter straight away if he wants to reduce the risk of him acting out during their long travel. Once they’re in Wakanda, he has all the time in the world to treat Peter with kindness and make him love him. But for now, Tony can’t show any mercy. 

“It’s pretty bold for someone in your position to try and negotiate conditions for good behavior, which, shall I remind you, should go without saying.”

“That’s n-not my intention, sir,” Peter says desperately, finally glancing up at Tony again. “I’m just asking you to please not make them pay for my m-mistakes.”

Slowly, Tony begins to walk around them in circles. Wade unobtrusively hands him his silenced gun. “You see, there's a problem, Peter,” he says sternly. “For six months you promised me you’d be good over and over again. I gave you so many chances, but you decided to be a little shit and break my trust. And worst of all, you tried to play me, even though you should have known you could never truly win. You should have known that your so-called ‘victory’ would only be temporary. But you didn’t. And now, you’re gonna suffer the consequences.”

“I’m sorry, sir,” Peter cries, following Tony’s movements with his eyes. “I’m s-so sorry for what I did. I just… I just wanted to go home.”

Home. Trying to ignore the painful sting in his heart, Tony snorts, “That’s the right keyword. You know, your dear aunt hottie was so nice to tell Wade that the mere thought of hugging her again motivated you enough to try and escape. After hearing that, I first considered having her assassinated, but then I got a better idea. I decided to take both of you this time. I figured that you most likely wouldn’t try anything stupid again if you knew that one step out of line would result in her getting tortured, raped, or killed, even.”

With smug satisfaction Tony listens to May’s muffled cries, slowly moving behind her and Michelle. “Then again, you also care about your fucking bitch, don’t you? I honestly thought it would be too risky to try and kidnap her as well, but as fate has ordained, she’s sitting right here with us, giving me the perfect opportunity to show you just. how. fucking. pissed. I actually am.”

With that, Tony lifts his hands, pressing his gun to the back of Michelle’s head, and Wade's gun to the back of May’s head. It's hard to say which one of his captives cries more violently at this point. 

“P-Please sir, d-don’t kill them, please don’t!” Peter wails, pulling at his restraints until the chair gives a few pitiful jerks. May and Michelle, on the other hand, are stock still, with the exception of the heavy sobs rocking their bodies. 

“Oh, I won’t kill them,” Tony chuckles. “I will kill one of them. The other will have the honor of coming with us. But don't worry, I’ll leave it up to you who gets to live.” With a sinister grin, Tony brings his head close to Michelle’s. “Even though I make no secret of hoping you'll choose Michelle. I don’t tolerate people trying to claim what’s already mine.” 

Peter seems so shocked by Tony’s proposition that he stops crying. With glazed eyes he stares at Tony for a few seconds, unable to speak. Then, he swallows thicky. His voice is raspy when he says, “Sir… Please don’t do this. I… I can’t-”

“If you don’t want me to shoot both of them, then you will have to make a choice. Come on, it’s not that hard. Sure, Michelle has her whole life ahead of her, but she doesn’t care about you like May does, the woman who's been raising you like a mother. You can’t possibly tell me that you’re so desperate to get some pussy that you would sacrifice your aunt for it. I mean,” Tony chuckles nastily, “it’s not like you would ever get pussy again anyways, now that you’re back in my caring hands.”

“It’s- it’s not about that, sir. I don’t… like M-Michelle like that. I’m n-not into her, she… she won’t be a threat to us"

“Yeah, sure,” Tony snorts, angrily grinding his teeth. “Do you take me as a fucking fool?”

“N-No, sir,” Peter stutters, dropping his gaze. “I… I r-realized that I am g-gay after all, but I was too afraid to tell anyone. So I… acted like I wanted to be in a relationship with her. I l-lied to her and e-everyone else.”

Behind Peter, Wade starts giggling. Trying to ignore him, Tony growls, “Now I’m curious. How did you find out you’re gay, huh?“

“I f-fantasized about y-you touching me when I… when I was t-touching myself or when I… w-was kissing M-Michelle.” Face flushing with shame, Peter looks up at Tony. His eyes are swimming in fresh tears. “If you don’t believe me, you can read my therapist’s files. I… told her about m-my fantasies, sir.”

Frowning, Tony exchanges a quick glance with Wade, who shrugs his shoulders, shaking with silent laughter. Could it be true? Tony ponders about it for a second, but even though Peter holds his gaze without blinking, he can’t bring himself to trust him. Not again. And even if he had those fantasies, Peter just straight out lied to him regarding Michelle, proving that he still hasn’t learned his lesson. 

“If you don't really love her, then this decision can’t be so difficult, right?” Tony sneers, forcing Michelle’s head further down by pressing the gun more firmly against her skull. 

“I still don’t want her to die,” Peter yells, breaking into panicked sobs. “Please, sir. L-Let her go. Let them go, I… I want to be with you, y-you have to believe me.” 

At this point, Wade’s annoying laughter has become too loud to ignore any longer. Fuming, Tony glares at him, cursing him for ruining the moment. “Will you shut up?”

“Sorry man, but this is too fucking good,” Wade chuckles, wiping away tears from the corners of his eyes. “I will give up ten grand of my payment if you let me tell him.”

Knowing well enough what Wade’s referring to, Tony shakes his head. “No. Now pull yourself together and-”

“Aw, come on,” Wade pouts. “I had to pretend I'm a motherfucking Marshal for three months. Let me have some fun. With the exception of some satisfying nights, this was almost worse than when I was forced to team up with Colossus and Negasonic Teenage Warhead to hunt down- Um, no, wait, that was the plot of the first Deadpool movie. My bad. It’s quite a challenge to keep track with all these Alternate Universes, isn't it?” Wade grins.

Tony stares at him flabbergasted. “What the fuck are you talking about?”

“Nothing, please ignore me,” Wade giggles, winking. “Guess the situation is way too tense to break the fourth wall.”

This fucking lunatic. Irritatedly shaking his aching head, Tony focuses his attention back on Peter. “You know what amazes me about you? After everything I did to you, you still have the fucking balls to lie to my face.”

“I… didn’t lie, sir,” Peter insists, a shade of doubt flickering across his face. 

“Huh. Funny. You see, you didn't seem all that gay to me when you offered, if not insisted, to eat Michelle out last week," Tony says dryly, smirking when Peter gasps in horror. “You have to understand. I couldn’t risk you calling the feds on me after making the phone call, could I? So I asked Wade to give you the very special speaker I manufactured, meaning I heard everything that was being said in your room since last Friday. This is the dog collar situation all over again, and let me tell you, you managed to make me almost as angry as you did back then.”

Whereas the women cry even heavier, Peter has the balls to continue lying. “I- I just wanted to do it because- b-because I still didn’t want to accept it. Sir, please, I- Fuck, I... I’m even wearing your shirts at night because I can’t sleep without them. Ask W-Wade, sir. He saw me in your Black Sabbath shirt once.”

Tony snorts. “He already told me about it, but it wasn't exactly news to me, you dumb shit. Remember that cheesy kissing photo you posted on your own Instagram account? One of my fucking shirts was lying on your fucking pillow. I actually have to thank you for being so goddamn stupid, because it convinced me that I should give this whole thing another try after all. And now, here we are.” Losing his patience, Tony presses his guns more firmly against the women’s heads. “Enough with the sweet talk. You have twenty seconds to decide, or I’ll shoot them both.”

Sobbing, Peter shakes his head, "No, sir, please… please, if you let them go, I… I’ll never forget that you spared their lives and… then w-we can put everything behind us and… s-start over. L-Like you said on the phone. Please, sir… please, I’m begging you.”

Feeling a rush of fury about Peter still trying to negotiate with him, Tony decides to take the game a step further. Also, he doesn't really want to risk having to kill both of them in case Peter failed to make a decision and be left without any leverage. Fortunately, Peter's despicable lies have just given him a great idea.

“All right. Change of plans,” Tony sneers, removing the guns from Michelle’s and May’s heads before walking back towards Peter, whose eyes widen a little. “You don’t have to decide anymore. If you insist that you’re telling the truth about your fantasies and about ‘wanting to be with me’, then I’m sure you can’t wait for me to fuck you, right?”

Shivering, Peter drops his gaze. Got you. “I… S-Sure, sir,” he says hesitantly. 

Tony smirks. “Perfect. As you can imagine, I'm feeling the same way, so I’m gonna fuck you right here, right now. If you manage to cum on my cock, then I'll take it as confirmation that you were honest with me and kill May. If you don’t, I'll kill Michelle. How does that sound?”

Apparently, it sounds worse than anything any of the three could have imagined. Wailing, May and Michelle start thrashing again, and Peter loses it.

“No, no, PLEASE, you can’t- you can’t do this!” Peter screams, completely out of his mind. He keeps on pleading desperately until Tony orders Wade to seal his mouth shut and cut him loose. “Please no, no, pl-uumpf”

Struggling even harder than before, Peter tries to kick Wade as soon as he’s cut through the tape on his right ankle, but the strong man catches it with ease, holding it until he’s freed the left leg as well. Tensed up, Tony watches Wade freeing Peter’s hands before pulling him off the chair and manhandling him onto his stomach. Seconds later, Peter’s wrists are once more restrained behind his back with tape. To make sure he can’t get up again, Wade puts one of his boots onto his back to prevent him from crawling away.

Shaking with anticipation, Tony walks forward, putting Peter’s chair down on the floor so that the back of the chair touches the ground. Then, he tells Wade to bend Peter over the chair and hold him still.

“Make sure they all have their eyes open. I want them to look at each other when I’m rearranging his guts.”