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 and spikes_heart
Tony Stark sat in the darkness of his office, desperately staring at the files and hoping to find something, anything, to tell him that he was wrong. That he had misinterpreted Peter Parker’s reaction. That when Peter had finally, fully awoken, the fear in his eyes at finding himself on the bed, carefully tucked in, wasn’t about what he thought it was.
“Get me General Markham, online. Now.”
The SHIELD agent responsible for coms instantly followed his orders.
“What do you want, Stark?”
The general on the other hand, kept him hanging for another half hour. Refusing to bow down to some upstart playboy who didn’t have a clue about proper protocol; Tony guessed he should consider himself lucky that the general came online as quickly as he did. No matter how much the military might dislike seeing him here, he was still the director of SHIELD.
“What the hell did your people do to Parker?!” Tony was careful not to call Peter by his first name. Using his code name might have been even better, but…
“I don’t think…” Tony could see the man gritting his teeth. The picture on the view screen showed that the general hadn’t even looked up from his paperwork. As if some requisition form was more important than talking to him. He could see the look in Markham’s eyes; resentment that Tony still had as much power as he did; rage that Tony had managed to take his favorite toy away from him. Good.
“I arrested one of my best friends, damn it.” I took him in, I shot him down, messed with his spidersense and then put him in cuffs while he was still out. But he got out of it unhurt, didn’t he? He wasn’t crippled or murdered like the Thunderbolts would have done.
“And in two years time you’ve managed to turn a fun loving responsible intelligent man into someone who barely acts beyond responding to commands.” Because I handed him to you on a platter “What the hell did you do to him?” What have I done?
Oh god, he shouldn’t have used the friends line.
"What have I done? Let me tell you what I've done, son. I've taken one of these costumed fuckups and turned him into a decent damned weapon, that's what I've done! You should thank me. This entire fucking country should be thanking me."
Thank him? Thank him?! Tony couldn’t stop his fist from hitting the desk. He raised his hands as if to ask the heavens for help to get this imbecile to understand just how horrible what they’d done really was.
“Thank you? For what?” Tony knew that if the General stood in front of him now, he would have shot the man with one of his repulsor bursts, or maybe a magnetic pulse; see once and for all if the bastard’s heart was made of steel.
“God damn it, Stark.” Followed by a controlled silence as the general finally put his papers down and stood up, turning his back to him. Tony needed to see his face. “We took care of him, we gave him purpose, discipline. We made it so he would no longer have to worry about anything but doing what he was told.” Markham’s voice grew louder with every word, and as he finally turned around again - leaning on the table - practically showing his teeth, Tony could see his eyes bulging and the muscles tensing up under the man’s clean ironed white shirt. “Considering what a mess he’s been since he first got his powers, he should be thanking us.”
“What?!” And for a second Stark stared at the man in utter disbelief, too shocked as he remembered the shell that Peter had become. How could anyone… anyone even consider…? Peter was a hero. Didn’t Markham get that? There were no words… no, there were thousands of words, but he had to find the right ones and God, was this the kind of thing Peter had been forced to deal with?
Markham took a few deep breaths and made a visible effort to calm down. It took him a few minutes. Minutes in which Tony should have talked; should have attacked him; should have… but he was still too stunned.
“He was fifteen when his powers showed up, Stark.” God, how did the man go from megalomaniacal bastard to kindly grandfather-figure in less then a minute? “Where were you and your Avengers then, when some teenage kid suddenly had to deal with all that power coursing through his body, messing him up?”
Tony had to grasp for breath, having trouble believing that Markham actually had the gall to put this on him.
“And it’s not even like he was some mutie whose body was designed for those powers. He was just a kid, with nobody even remotely willing to look out for him.”
Somehow Markham managed to sound like the reasonable one, as if Tony was the insane one here.
“I don’t think…”
But the general cut him off before he could continue.
“We might have actually made something real out of him if we’d gotten him then, taught him to be responsible, to respect the law. But it’s too late for that now. He’s gotten too good at pretending to be normal, while he’s little more than a basket-case inside.”
“He was, Stark. You haven’t seen inside his head. I have. We just took away the pretence, the comic book morality that he clung on to and made him a weapon; sharp as a knife and actually useful to this great country of ours.”
“You’re wrong,” Tony finally got in.
“No, I’m not. You call yourself his friend Stark, then be one and keep him under control, it’s the only way he’ll ever be safe, both for himself and the people around him.”
“He was safe.”
“No, he was clinging on to a thread, Director.” He stated the word with so much disgust that it was almost palpable. “Pretending he was some comic book hero. But real life isn’t a comic book and real life people ended up hurt because of it. We just made sure that the only ones getting hurt were the ones that deserved to be hurt.”
“You made him a killer!”
“We made him a weapon!” For a moment the anger was back, but it was gone just as quickly. “And a damn good one at that.” Was that pride? The general was silent again, only the sound of his harsh breathing came over the line as he looked straight back at Tony, not even a hint of shame in his eyes.
“You think I don’t care about him, Stark? You think I want to see him dead, or worse? That boy is a miracle; speed, strength, stealth, agility, he’s got the works. He has it in him to be a better super-soldier than Rogers ever was. If we somehow manage to extract the reason for his powers from his DNA, one day we might find a way to replicate them, and finally create a true army of super-soldiers that this country could be proud off. Not like that rag tag band of idiots your buddies are trying to get together.” Perfect soldiers, stepping in line and not a soul amongst them able to voice his protest; Tony wondered how many of them would be screaming inside like Peter had. What would some do to get into the program? Hell, he didn’t have to imagine... the waiting list for the Order was proof enough of that.
“We took care of him. We fed him. We cleaned up his act and brought him to peak condition. It’s what we do with weapons, especially expensive ones. I just hope you won’t ruin him before we get him back. Because if you set back his progress, it’ll only take longer for us to get him back into shape.”
And then he hung up, just like that, as if he’d said his say and there was nothing that Tony could say or do to make it worth it to him to waste any more time on this.
Tony opened the camera to the training room, watching Peter in motion while his ‘handlers’ kept an eye on him. Trained puppy dog, and in the stress, the pain and the urge not to drink he started laughing, sick, twisted, he might as well go insane.
These days, it was the only way to go.