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
It seemed such a simple device, about ten inches wide on each side. A slightly larger version of the ones the psy-agents got implanted in their heads. But at least this version wasn’t permanent, and not half as likely to burn out when something went wrong.
Tony lay down on the bench, his head comfortably on a pillow, the psi-disc placed on his forehead and over his eyes, while his hands were enmeshed in padding to keep them from falling down while he was paying attention elsewhere. He’d just finished communications with the commanders of the SHIELD helicariers spread out over the country. The president was going to call him in two hours, he’d made sure to keep his time table free until then.
Peter was out of the building, on route to a fight with the new Masters of Evil, this time a version that had no connection to Zemo. It wasn’t anything big and Jan had said she’d keep an eye on Pete while Tony dealt with issues over in New York. Justice had kept staring at the handlers, especially when he saw the computers they were working on. He’d refused to talk to Tony since. Tony had asked Jan, after a long thought, she told him about an organization the New Warriors had fought a few years back. A group that took superhumans and then turned them into weapons, breaking away their free will and making them little more than remote controlled drones to be put in duty wherever the bastards wanted to use them. A member of the team, Namorita, going by Kymaera at the time, had fallen victim to the organization.
They’d been called the soldiers of misfortune.
Tony had wanted to tell her that this was different, that they weren’t villains, that this was part of a reform program and that the controls wouldn’t be permanent. But how could he expect the others to believe the words when he couldn’t quite believe them himself anymore.
Meanwhile Peter had sat still, no need to cuff his hands; it wasn’t like he could even move before his handlers gave him permission. Dressed in red and gold, the spider symbol on his chest as much a restraint as it was a weapon, Tony had made sure that the suit was the best he could get it to be, he wondered if Peter appreciated that. Firestar had sat down next to Peter, and had tried to whisper something to him before they lifted off. Tony hadn’t been able to see Peter’s face. All he saw was Angelica’s reaction, the pity in her eyes. She’d looked at Vance, the young mutant stood next to her and had taken her hand. Tony wondered if they were getting close again. He hoped so; at the very least it’d do for good publicity.
He wondered if there even had been a reaction from Peter. What would be worst to her?
Reed still didn’t answer his call. Tony held the horn in his hands and sat down. Games and heroes, and all of them treated like meaningless entertainment. The army didn’t get it; they didn’t see the lives saved. Super villains and heroes, cops and robbers, it all looked like a game to them. All they saw was the damage caused to the civilians; they didn’t see the lives freely given, the sacrifices made in name of the greater good. And what happened to Peter was going to be wiped under the carpet as if it were an unfortunate glitch.
Tony didn’t even know what had happened to his friend, he didn’t, and did he want to?
He knew he could, it would be so easy, too easy by far. If he did he’d break his friend’s privacy, breaking his trust. He almost laughed, what trust, what privacy. He needed to know, for Peter’s sake, how could he help his friend if he didn’t know what it was that was bothering the man in the first place?
He finally lay fully down, the final position; he was going to be here for a while so he might as well make sure he was comfortable for it. His neck resting on a support; he allowed the tech in his suit meshing with the chair and slowly letting his body fall asleep while his mind went to work.
It was then that he opened the link to the nanites in Peter’s bloodstream. It was a simple connection, sent through the handlers’ computer and into Peter’s brain.
Dialing up. One, two, connection. Downloading data, so much of it…
The first bits were unclear, old memories that played through Peter’s head since the nanites went in, not clearly recorded since to that nanites they were no more than meaningless echoes. And then he saw her, Mary Jane in the sunlight, she was smiling as she was playing with a kitten. Mary Jane at nighttime, in their bed, she told him to shut up and kiss her. Peter didn’t hesitate and did and Tony did it with him. Shame led him away, to a boy in a child’s bed asking May where his parents were. Saying he’d be good, please God, I’ll be good, just let mommy and daddy come back…Tony had to fight to remember these weren’t his own memories, this wasn’t him, it was Peter…Peter’s hand as he looked at them as if they were a stranger’s, staring at something on them. Ben Parker, Ben Parker dying, May’s life ending and Peter leaving the hospital, broken, shattered. It was one of the first times Tony got to see himself as Peter saw him and he realized then, he hadn’t won. Peter had let him win, Peter hadn’t even realized it, but he’d given up and when Tony shot him down, there was no fight left. Peter could have run, but he hadn’t had the strength for one last fight.
Let it all end, end for now and ever. All blurry memories, remembered over and over again, Mary Jane running, aunt May dying, Ben dead, the burglar, Ben dead, “that’s your job”, Ben dead, May dead, Mary Jane terrified and Peter.. Peter was… Peter didn’t know what he was, to broken to believe in himself or anything.
I’m so sorry, aunt May.
All it’ll take is three seconds, one, two, three.
Staring at his hands, at the webbing and hating it.
One, two, three.
“I’m not Peter,” Tony thought, shivering, trembling until he knew nothing but Peter’s shame, even as he let go of his burden.
A large body, lying on the ground, webbing in its mouth and nose, and sirens screaming through the night as a man jumped up and left, one last time. He didn’t expect to get away with it, he didn’t.
And Tony saw himself, flying up to Peter, and Peter fell before he was even hit.
One, two, three…
It almost, almost made him think Markham was right. Maybe this was better for Peter, no more pain, no more suffering, and no more responsibility. Maybe Peter had shouldered too much of it already, because no man could be that strong.
One two three, to stop a man breathing, one two three, to destroy everything he once held sacred, one two three, that he’d never ever be able to forgive himself for.
Octavius sat there still, his arms restrained to the walls. Tony watched him, as Peter had, and then he saw his hands, Peter’s hands, the blood was still on his gloves. He wanted to take them off, but he didn’t, because even if he did, there’d be no way to get the blood of his skin, of his soul.
“It’s funny isn’t it Parker, after all you’ve done for them, after all you’ve sacrificed, to them, you’re as much a criminal as I am.”
Tony/Peter didn’t even look at him; he kept staring at his hands.
One two three
“What did they make you do?”
One two three, while the Kingpin’s eyes went black with blood.
“A village, there were rebels, people fighting the army and… they told me to stop them. One of the mortars hit a school. I wanted to save the children, I wanted to… But when I didn’t listen…”
“They took over your body and made you kill the rebels instead?” Octavius seemed almost sad as he said it.
“They didn’t stand a chance.” Peter had stared at his hands again. “Some of the soldiers went for the children, but they were too late.” Peter whispered the words. “I keep hearing their screams. I keep hearing them scream.” Peter’s voice broke, remembering the smell, seeing the burns; looking in their eyes, seeing a little boy wearing a Spider-Man shirt and staring at him as if asking, “Where were you?” Across of him, Octavius closed his eyes, bending his head as if to pray.
Tony dropped the connection and grabbed a bottle, he needed…
He jumped up and vomited.