Rating: MA (NC-17)
Summary: Dark AU post-Civil War
Pairing: Tony Stark/Peter Parker
Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The original characters and plot are the property of the author. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended.
Betaed by redhawk
They didn’t really bother to announce Peter’s return to New York, not that that stopped the public from finding out about it within the day. How could it not have, when some kid caught a shot of him stopping some bank robbers? After that hit YouTube, they had no choice but to make an official statement.
The press jumped on it almost instantly.
‘He’s back!’ and not to forget the Bugle’s version of ‘Webbed menace back on the streets!’
Some were ecstatic, Spider-Man had always been good for selling papers, no matter what he was doing, some wondered why he was back and a few were asking questions about where he’d been. The Bugle declared ‘Public Outcry’. But when didn’t they?
Tony ignored them all. He just kept up the occasional surveillance while Peter was sent out for patrol, checking up on Spider-Man’s actions through the cameras in Peter’s lenses. If Peter seemed harsher, more akin to violence, he blamed it on Peter’s experiences, believing that he just had to let him settle in. It couldn’t stay this bad could it?
He was still waiting for the results of Peter’s medical. Reed seemed to be bothered by something, but he wasn’t telling Tony what it was. If Tony didn’t know better, he’d almost say that Reed was refusing to talk to him. But he did know better, Reed was just busy.
Either way, Peter was no longer joking his way through his fights, he was cold, terrifying. A weapon used against crime, standing still while the police booked the broken and battered criminals he brought in. Only talking when he answered direct questions from the authorities, and even then it was only in the most minor of sentences.
Yet despite all that, despite Tony’s worries, the public seemed to love it. And soon Peter’s picture was stamped on merchandising going from fast food to children’s toys. His attitude was just seen as a long deserved maturing. If Peter noticed any of it on his times out, he didn’t show it.
He just did what he was told, go out, fight crime, and then came back in to sit in the corner of his room and eat food when ordered to do so. He barely used the bed, preferring to web himself up and sleep on the wall. The guards thought it funny. It wasn’t.
The other Avengers avoided the topic; they fought alongside him, but seemed spooked to even come near him. Jan had tried to talk to him once, given some offhanded joke about wasps and spiders, but Peter had just stood there, head aimed straight ahead. In the eyes of the press that was just one more sign of Spider-Man being a loner.
There were some protests at Stark tower, but they were minor. Just some nut jobs that wanted Spider-Man in jail, they weren’t even smart enough to realize how much of a prisoner Peter still was.
A book came out about Peter, half of it was incorrect. When the rights were asked for a Spider-Man animated series, he didn’t even get a chance to stop it, before the government approved it. They wanted their property licensed and publicised. Peter’s opinion on it wasn’t asked. What came out had little or no resemblance to reality, showing a careless wisecracking kid who was just swinging around and getting in trouble like a fool until the army took him in hand. They treated Spider-Man as if he was a kid who just needed a wise mentor to show him the way, ignoring the part where he’d spent the past decade and a half saving lives and becoming one of the foremost heroes of the country.
Yet despite all that, Tony did nothing to stop it, how could he? If it kept Peter in the public eye, then the army would be less likely to try and get him back in their clutches, and maybe this way he might have the time to let Peter recover, find some way to get through to him. Some way to get anyone to listen to him; anyone he actually cared about to listen to him at least.
One day he checked up on Peter in the middle of the night, Peter was still out of sight, Tony still hadn’t fixed the blind spot in the room. But there was the sound of a struggle. Tony quickly checked the sensors, there was nothing there, except for Peter whose heart was thumping madly, breathing in short harsh measures and seemed to be even warmer than his usual temperature.
He ran to the room, getting his extremis suit ready to engage in case it turned out to be needed. Instead he found Peter trashing in his web, terrified by something only he could see. Tony touched out for his head, but Peter kept pulling away from him, hurting himself.
Tony wanted to wake him up, but didn’t know how to do so without making things even worse.
“Please don’t. Stop!” Peter suddenly shouted, but the attackers in his mind didn’t seem to stop. Not then and the torment still lasted with Peter’s head arching back uncaring whether it hit the wall or not.
“Peter?” And all of a sudden it stopped, Tony thought he’d managed it, that he’d gotten Peter to wake up, but he wasn’t. The horror was still in his face, pain, fear, his body had just gone still. When Tony touched him, he didn’t flinch back, yet his face showed his fear.
When Peter woke up, he turned his eyes away from Tony and Tony let go of him. Peter pulled loose from his webbing and backed off to the edge of the room. Tony followed him, he just wanted to tell him everything was alright. He hadn’t even noticed they’d gotten near the bed until Peter froze against the wall and seemed about ready to attack.
Peter didn’t answer; it wasn’t until now that Tony realized that part of the young hero’s mind was still caught in the nightmare. Heart still throbbing madly, sweat pouring from his forehead as if he’d just gone a round with the Sinister Six.
Tony did the only thing he could do; he used extremis to take control of the nanobots in Peter’s bloodstream and ordered them to calm the man down. He held Peter in his arms all that time, trying to be there with him, then, in that moment and this one. By the end of it, Peter went limp in Tony’s arms and stopped resisting.