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
“Don’t be such a bore Jonah, it’s just one night out.” Marla said as she checked his collar. Jonah let her, happy to have her so near him once again. He took her coat as they entered the opera house and folded it over his arm, before handing it to one of the valets at the reception.
Marla was dressed in a beautiful long red gown, and Jonah couldn’t help but feel like a slouch standing next to her. Even most of the younger women around them couldn’t look half as beautiful as his Marla. Marla had a laugh in her eyes, as she noticed his pout, she knew as well as he did, that he’d only waste his good money on this, because she’d absolutely wanted to go.
Jonah considered himself a good man, a strong man, a fair man, even a gregarious man, so what if he didn’t like throwing money away for needless wastes like this? Marla had managed to blackmail him into joining her for an opera performance. Sure it didn’t take her much to get him to go anywhere these days, but that’s beside the point. He was somehow sure she liked it as little as he did, but it was her form of punishment for dragging her to a couple of council meetings over the past month. It was hard work regaining his status as the symbol of strong and confident journalism; it wasn’t his fault that Peter Parker had been at traitor of the worst possible kind. How could even he, the great J. Jonah Jameson have known that Spider-Man would do something as cowardly as slipping into his personal circle, infiltrating his happy home, making him carry a viper to his chest?
As happy as he was to be proven right and to have everything he ever fought for finally come true over the past few years, his reputation was still dented by Parker’s lies. He was far too nice, that’s the problem. People like Parker took advantage of him because of his overly generous nature.
And to think that instead of being thrown in jail, the bastard was actually allowed to roam around and once again menace innocent citizens like him. Stalking a respectable publisher, even to a place like this where freaks didn’t belong in the slightest. Jonah wondered if he should have a restraining warrant issued against Parker. Get the wallcrawler to stay at least five miles away from him at all times?
It would at least give him the right to demand Stark to drag his buddy away from here, while Jonah was forced to ‘enjoy’ himself listening to some clowns’ buffoonery on stage. Or if Stark refused, he could call the cops, instead of being mocked for wanting nothing to do with him.
Parker wasn’t even trying to be inconspicuous, dressed all in white as he were. White slacks, white sweater, even with his hair cut short as it was; he still looked like a hippy. Good for nothing slacker. Combined with Stark’s black tux they looked like a gay bride and groom, Jonah wondered if the gossip column had any proof on anything untoward going on between them. It would at least make for a nice revenge to spread the news.
Jonah sat down in the box he’d rented, and started growling when he realized that they were joined by Stark and Parker. He expected a smart remark from Parker, but the bastard pretended to not even see him. Marla grabbed his arm and Jonah quickly sat back down, realizing only now that he’d gotten up to leave as soon as Stark and Parker had entered the box. They were joined by a few other people soon afterwards and Jonah managed the incredible feat of holding his tongue or stopping himself from throwing his glass all over Parker’s blindly white outfit.
The music started and Jonah desperately tried to keep following what was going on in the stage. As far as he could see, the woman was singing something at the man and the man sang back, if you could call that caterwauling singing at least. He started to wish for earplugs and ended up looking back at Stark and Parker. Stark was watching the stage, while Parker sat still in his chair. Jonah took another look a few minutes later and Jonah realized that Peter hadn’t moved an inch since he first sat down. The man still sat in the exact same position that he’d been in from the first second.
Jonah quickly looked away as his eyes met Starks’, realizing that the so-called director of SHIELD was keeping as tight an eye on Parker as he was. It felt almost as if he were waiting, no hoping for something that just wasn’t happening.
Peter still wasn’t even fidgeting, or cringing at the high notes coming up from below them.
Jonah stopped pretending he wasn’t staring at Peter, taking a strong look at the man’s eyes, wondering when the joke would be revealed. But Peter’s eyes stood dead, emotionless, looking more and more like the lenses of his mask.
Jonah almost missed it when the noise on the stage finally stopped, getting up just a few seconds too late to join in the overwhelming applause. He almost smiled when he noticed a tear in Marla’s eyes.
Peter still sat there, still in the same position, he didn’t get up until Stark looked at him. And even then he didn’t join in with the clapping, not even for appearances sake.
Stark left and Peter followed him almost like… a machine. Whenever Stark was stopped, either for questions, small talk or autographs, Parker would stop as well, a mere two feet behind Stark at all times. No matter how long the conversation, he kept still, didn’t even try to go for a breath of air or to get drinks.
At first Jonah considered that Parker was being an obstinate brat, simply refusing to have a good time in any way or form. John could be like that, when he was a kid. But Peter wasn’t sulking, and Jonah knew as well as any father that sulking was an essential part of the attitude. Instead he was pretty sure that he was the only one who’d noticed anything strange in Spider-Man’s behavior. He was probably the only one here who knew Parker well enough to realize just how wrong Peter was acting. Everybody else seemed to just consider him quiet, possibly shy or even anti-social.
But Jonah knew what Peter was like when he was shy; he’d fidget and try to disappear. He wouldn’t just stand there, eyes constantly aimed at Stark as if awaiting orders like a dog on a leash.
Jonah gently led Marla along after Stark and Parker, making sure to keep the two of them in his sight at all time. Marla realized what he was doing and was probably calling him a fool a thousand times over. But he couldn’t help it. His life had centered on Spider-Man for so long, that this mystery, any mystery involving Parker, was something he couldn’t bring himself to ignore.
Stark finally stopped and stared right at him.
“Is something bothering you, Mister Jameson? Because if not, I would have to ask you to stop stalking me and my friend.”
Jonah glared at him. “Is that what he is, Mister Stark?” Jonah glared at the Avenger, taking a step closer. “I was starting to think he was your dog.”
“What do you think…”
“Can’t even move without permission from you, can he? God and to think I thought you had him running free.” Jonah looked at Peter who was still standing in the same place right behind Stark, as if the conversation didn’t concern him in the slightest. The same he had done with all of Starks other conversations. Calm, cold and almost mechanical.
“I don’t know what you’ve done to that man, mister Stark, but slavery is still illegal in this country.” Jonah threw his drink on Stark, practically crushing the glass still in his hand. “And you can be sure as hell that the Bugle will be all over it!”
Jonah slammed down his glass, hearing it shatter and stomped off. He had a new front page to edit.