“Walter.” Felicia smiled as she walked up to the doorman. “Good to see you.”
The older man gave her a friendly smile. “Always a pleasure to see you as well. Are you not with Harry this evening?”
“He forgot something at the office. Is he not here yet?”
“Not yet, but I’m sure he’ll be along shortly. Would you like to go on up?”
“Yes, please. I’ll drop everything off with Norman.”
Walter leaned in conspiratorially as he opened the door. “Careful. He’s in a mood tonight.”
Felicia smiled. “Thanks for the warning.”
On their way to Norman’s penthouse, Felicia had managed to slip on a pant suit over the majority of her costume. She had also run mousse coloring through her hair to make her look platinum blonde instead of snowy white. When Peter had commented on it, she’d scoffed at him.
“A woman takes far more time than a simple hair coloring to get ready for the day,” she’d replied.
It still seemed like a lot of effort to Peter when one could simply shove the hair under a mask or something, but to each their own.
Felicia made her way inside and was lost from sight, but not from signal. She tapped her foot restlessly after entering the elevator and Peter could hear it through the earpiece. The elevator would stop before the last three levels of the building — it had private elevators for the top three floors as well as additional an security detail. Once there, Felicia had to take out the guards and disable the alarms for Peter and Wade to make it inside.
“You sure you can handle it all by yourself?” Wade asked again. It looked like he was itching for some action. Peter could practically hear Felicia roll her eyes in response.
“Don’t take me for an amateur.” Clothing rustled on the other end of the comm.
“Are you getting undressed?” Peter asked. She just got changed into normal clothes!
“I can’t exactly be seen as myself while kicking ass.” She sounded amused. “We wear costumes for a reason.”
The elevator door dinged and the sound was followed by shouts, grunts, loud orders, sickening thuds, and electric crackles. It took about two minutes for all to go quiet, with only the muted sound typing on a keyboard to be heard.
“Alright, boys, I’m gonna get changed. I’ll meet you up top.”
“I won’t lie, I’m a little turned on right now,” Wade said, and Felicia laughed in return. Peter frowned, but it wasn’t like he could say much given his previous interactions with Black Cat.
Wade hopped onto Peter’s back and they swung up to the top of the building. There was an emergency escape on the rooftop complete with an empty helipad. They broke in through the access door and made their way inside. Wade started a sweep of the building to find and incapacitate Norman’s personal bodyguards. Peter crawled along the ceiling and made his way towards the sound of Felicia’s heels.
“Mr. Osborn?” Felicia called as she made her way into the quiet penthouse.
Peter peeked around the corner into the living room and froze in shock. Felicia entered at about that moment. She let out a string of expletives and ran over to the woman bound and gagged in the corner. It was Mariah Crawford.
“Mariah! What happened?” Felicia dug out one of her gloves so she could start cutting through the bindings with its claws. Mariah’s eyes tried and failed to focus. She looked beaten and drugged.
Peter wasn’t sure what to do. They had all gathered to protect Harry and get the drop on Norman. The last thing they had expected to find was Mariah delivered like a stringed ham to the man who had put a hit on her. How had it happened in the first place?
“Ah! Felicia! What a pleasant surprise.”
They all looked over to see Norman leisurely walking into the room, fixing the cuffs on his well pressed shirt. He had a relaxed smile on his face, seemingly unconcerned about the woman tied up in the corner, or being caught in the act. Felicia shot to her feet and stood in front of Mariah.
“What do you think you’re doing?” she demanded.
Norman smiled, and there was an edge to it. Something in his eyes was a little too bright, his fingers twitched erratically, his shoulders were tense with excitement. “You seem to take me for an idiot. Ha! You wouldn’t be the only one.”
“You tied up your nur—”
“My would be murderer!” Norman suddenly shouted, spittle flying from the edges of his mouth. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath, his calm smile returning as he looked back at Felicia. “Do you honestly think I would just sit here in my room and do nothing like a sniveling little omega?”
“Harry will be here any moment—”
“Oh! That was the intention. You see, I love my son. It’s been tough teaching him the hard lessons of life. He doesn’t understand the extent someone will go to in order to exact revenge. He needed to see with his own eyes what happens when a careful background check is not included with one’s employees.”
“She is your nurse,” Felicia said, trying to talk Norman down. Of course, both Peter and Norman knew better.
Norman started laughing before his mood shifted abruptly into angry shouting. “I know everything that happens in my own company!”
Felicia’s center of gravity dropped as she waited for Norman to start rampaging. Instead, he ran a hand through his hair and took another calming breath. “You think I don’t have my own private security cameras set up? Silly little girl. I know you’ve been sneaking the bitch in for years — the treatments to alter the DNA of your sweat glands in order to smell like a beta, doing your little experiments on omega biology, creating your chemical weapon.”
Norman waved a hand in the air as if it was all trivial. “Your biggest offence was trying to gain control of my son. As if I’d let a worthless omega whore like you marry him. I was hoping that Harry would be smart enough to discover your farce and be rid of you. Alas, my son has a long way to go.”
Peter’s head was spinning. He’d been right all along. Mariah and Black Cat had been working together from the beginning. More than that, Mariah had found a way to mask omega scent. That was revolutionary. If it worked on a DNA level, it made sense that it would be difficult to accomplish, as it would have to be tailor made to each individual.
Still, simply knowing that the option existed…
Norman strolled over to a screen set into the wall and pressed a button. It blipped to life, showing a continuous parade of slides detailing all the times Felicia and Mariah had broken into Oscorp and worked with unauthorized chemicals. “I compiled this in order to put you both behind bars, but I feel that’s a little too kind. If the two of you wish to act like criminal betas, then I shall treat you as such.”
He smiled as he pulled something round and orange from his pocket. “Was the plan to cause one of my omega nurses to become a crazed killing machine? So many would be affected that one couldn’t place the blame on them. Death by terrorist attack. Unluckily for you, I do not keep omegas around me — though not for lack of trying on your part.” He shot a dirty look at Mariah.
Peter’s earpiece popped as Wade spoke. “Uh, guys? There’s no bodyguards anywhere. Or cooks. Or housekeeping. Nada. That seem a little weird to you?”
Norman smiled as he twisted the orb in his hand from side to side, watching the light glint off the metal edges. “Of course, an omega under such an influence trying to kill an alpha? It would be so easy for the alpha to regrettably do what was necessary in order to save his own life. Such a tragic accident.”
“No…” Felicia whispered.
Spidey sense went off and Peter realized what Norman was holding. He had the gas, and he’d put it in his own container. Peter ripped his mask off and scrambled to get the gas mask out of his hidden belt and over his face in time.
“Perhaps you shouldn’t play a game of such life or death stakes against me !” Norman laughed and hit the button, throwing it at Felicia when she made a run for it.
The gas wasn’t the invisible kind Peter had experienced prior. It was mixed with a thick and cloudy smoke that consumed the room in no time, allowing Norman the chance to disappear from sight. Peter had managed to get the gas mask on in time, but Felicia was now a danger to them all.
“Felicia!” Peter shouted into the comms. “Hold your breath and get to a window!”
Maybe it could have worked. Maybe they could have prevented Felicia from being affected. They weren’t given the option to find out. Spidey sense barely gave Peter enough of a warning, not that he could dodge the impact from a grenade.
They all went flying, slamming into walls, the bullet proof picture windows cracking, the furniture exploding into shrapnel. It wasn’t the largest explosion Peter had ever seen, but that didn’t make it hurt any less when he hit the ground. He gasped for breath and heard Felicia do the same. Wade was calling Peter’s name as he ran through the penthouse to get to them.
Felicia’s breathing became harsher and a growl picked up in the back of her throat. Shit. That was a complication they most certainly didn’t need. She was capable of taking them all out, particularly if Peter and Wade had no intent to majorly injure or kill. Norman had no idea what he had done to himself.
Or maybe he did, if his insane laughter was anything to go by. It echoed through the penthouse, and Peter was still too disoriented to figure out where it was coming from. Wade slid to a stop beside Peter and helped him from the rubble.
“What the fuck did we just walk in on?” Wade asked. It was a good question.
Felicia let out a rage filled scream into the earpiece. They couldn’t see her through the smoke and dust. Peter stuck his hand to the wall to guarantee he kept his balance. “Go find Felicia. Tie her up. I’ll go after Norman. I’ll be able to tell if he throws another grenade.”
“I don’t like this, Petey.”
“We have to stop him.”
Wade cursed, but he didn’t argue further, just made his way into the smoke to find Felicia. Peter pushed off the wall and headed further into the ruined home, trying to figure out where Norman had gone.
The eerie laughing bounced off the walls around Peter as he moved further into the smoke. He could hear the grunts and shouts of Wade and Felicia fighting over the comm. Everything was a total mess. Peter knew his luck always brought about the worst scenarios, but Norman attacking them like he had was far from something that they could have planned for.
“They thought they could contain me!” Norman’s voice sounded like it was moving all around Peter. He spun in place, trying to track it. “They thought they could scare me into a hole! Do they have any idea who I am?!”
Peter had recently learned who Norman really was, and the current situation only made things worse. It was obvious that he was a crazed megalomaniac. Perhaps Norman had initially faked his illness, but he was certainly sick in the head now. Who knew how many more people could get hurt if Peter didn’t stop him.
There was an odd humming noise that grew closer, and then Peter’s spidey sense went off. He jumped and managed to flip over two more grenades as they were launched at him, both in the same orange orbs the gas had been in. Peter rolled for cover as Norman’s laughter drifted further away.
That time, when the grenades blew the windows couldn’t take the force, what with the explosion being a direct hit on the glass. They cracked and pieces of them flew out into the coming twilight. Wind started howling through the open sections of glass, as it was always strong when up so high. On the upside, it helped clear away some of the smoke.
Peter got to his feet, body aching and ears ringing, and backed up into the spot that was finally gaining visibility. At least the gas mask protected his eyes from the forceful gusts of wind. His hair whipped around him frantically as he searched for where the next attack would come from.
“My son is just surrounded by greedy omegas looking to ride his dick into an easy life. You think dressing in a costume somehow makes that better?”
Peter clenched his fists and forced himself to stay calm. So Norman had figured out that it was Peter in the room. Well, maybe that could be used to his advantage. Norman had always underestimated Peter. Now was the time to show him what an omega could really do.
Something burst from the smoke, and it was so unexpected that Peter barely threw himself to the floor in time. The glider flew over Peter’s head and circled around. On top of it was a green goblin laughing with Norman’s voice. It was official. The man was insane.
“When your lackeys can’t get the job done, do it yourself!” Norman cried and then flew at Peter again. Long spikes grew from the front of the glider. Norman intended to skewer Peter.
Using his super strength, Peter pushed himself off the floor and flipped around to stick to the ceiling. Norman whooshed past underneath. Peter curled backwards and shot webbing at the glider, hoping to jam its engines. Norman dodged it and threw another of the pumpkin looking grenades in return. Peter webbed it up and slung it at one of the holes in the window. The walls trembled when it exploded just outside the penthouse.
This allowed Norman enough time to regroup and fly at Peter again. Peter dropped from the ceiling, but Norman was prepared, grabbing Peter’s ankle as he flew by. Peter panicked and tried to get enough force going to yank out of Norman’s grip, but before he could he was flown into a wall.
Peter tumbled through the crumbling drywall with a shout of pain. Norman circled around the now decimated dividing wall. Peter forced his aching body back to his feet. After two grenades and being thrown through a wall, his suit wasn’t holding up so great. He could feel blood trickling down his skin, but he couldn’t allow himself the time to think about his injuries.
The glider came at him again, but this time Peter didn’t avoid it. Bracing himself, he shoved his arms out in front of him and caught it head on, hands placed between the spikes. The sharp points were barely an inch away from him, but they didn’t go any further. Peter’s feet slipped along the floor, but the glider didn’t get any closer. The engine whined and the metal creaked under Peter’s grip.
“Such strength is wasted on a nobody like you!” Norman screeched.
Something whirred and Peter’s spidey sense screamed. He shoved the glider up with all the force he could muster just as two shaped knives were launched from it. The glider took off into the ceiling when Peter’s grip loosened and it slid along the plaster and sky lights until the inertia died, allowing it to crash to the ground, unmanned. Norman had fallen onto his back when the glider took off without him, but he hadn’t stayed down.
More of the knives launched from attachments on Norman’s suit. Peter dodged, getting grazed on the arm by only one of them. Norman took advantage of Peter’s focused movements to get in close and land a solid punch to the solar plexus. Peter’s breath wheezed out of him as he tried to block Norman’s machinery enhanced punches and kicks.
Peter’s feet were swept out from under him and he went down hard. Norman shot another knife straight at Peter’s face. Fortunately the gas mask caught it, only allowing the tip of the knife to imbed into his skin and cause his eyes to water. Unfortunately, that meant the gas mask had a leak and the smoke was not fully cleared from the penthouse, which meant…
Norman brought his boot down to shove the knife further in but Peter rolled out of the way. He took hold of the knife and yanked it out of the mask before tossing it into the rubble. It helped clear his vision a little bit, considering the crack in the mask and his own blurry eyes were trouble enough. Peter clambered back to his feet.
“Hurt little omega,” Norman mocked. “Are you going to beg me for your life?”
As Norman advanced, Peter backed away, blinking rapidly to clear his line of sight and take a moment to form a plan of attack. His breathing was labored and that terrified him. His heart rate was already starting to pick up. If he lost focus, Norman could easily outsmart him.
“Or are you going to become a mindless savage? That suits you.” Norman’s teeth glinted behind his mask as he grinned wide. “Show me how angry you are! Useless, worthless, helpless omega!”
Peter could feel his pulse behind his eyes. His fingers curled tightly into fists. Norman was dangerous. Norman would hurt Peter and everyone he cared about. Norman had to be stopped. Peter would show the alpha just how strong omegas really were.
Shouting, Peter charged. His eyes were hyper focusing on Norman’s limbs even though a voice in the back of his head shouted at him not to. They fought hard, fists and feet flying. Norman managed multiple hits, but they didn’t stop Peter for long. His body grew hot and his skin was steadily becoming numb.
He came back to himself when he was lifted into the air and slammed against the wall, held in place by a hand to his chest. His head cracked the plaster and the world blacked out for a few seconds. Then a fist slammed into his mask, shattering the visor. Peter’s ears rang and and his head throbbed. His instincts screamed at him to fight back.
Peter dropped his hips and threw his weight into his shoulder, flipping Norman so it was him slammed up against the wall. Peter threw a punch, but it was off, and only sent the mask covering Norman’s face flying, taking a chunk of skin from Norman’s jaw with it. Peter roared and ripped off his own mask so he could see.
Norman was dazed, a wound by his temple bleeding heavily, but he grinned up at Peter with bloody teeth. “Go ahead. Do it. Show me how much of a murderer you are.”
Peter pulled back his fist, his body trembling with the need to punch straight through the alpha’s skull. But Norman’s words managed to get through the ringing in Peter’s ears. A memory of Wade wrapping his hand around Peter’s fist sprang to mind.
“You’ll regret killing him later. Don’t do that to yourself.”
Peter panted for breath, his body screaming at him to protect himself and to eradicate all alphas. The image of blood covered hands and Wade’s worried face flashed in Peter’s mind in a visceral memory. Peter’s vision blurred and hyper focused in waves as he stayed frozen in place.
“Do it!” Norman yelled.
Peter released a long and guttural shout as he let his arm fly forward with force. It landed just beside Norman’s head, sending powdered drywall floating through the air while bits of the brickwork underneath crumbled to the floor. Peter curled forward, trying to breathe normally, trying to get his body back under control.
He didn’t want to be a villain. He didn’t want to kill. He had a responsibility to others and to himself. For the first time in a long time, he remembered smiling down at the spider symbol painstakingly sewn into his new costume. He remembered what it had felt like when he wanted so badly to be a hero.
Every fiber of Peter’s being was screaming at him to rip the alpha to shreds. Peter trembled under the force of it. He needed to get away. If he didn’t leave soon, he’d lose control. But where could he go? Was there anywhere close enough that he could lock himself away until it passed?
“What’s the matter?” Norman laughed. “Can’t do it? If you kill me, Harry will be rid of you. If you don’t, you’ll prove how helpless you really are.”
Peter’s vision wavered under the strength of his anger. His body tensed up, a snarl pulling at his lips. He was not weak. He was stronger than anyone. He was—
Something was coming up behind him and his spidey sense was desperately trying to blare a warning louder than the rage screaming along the inside of Peter’s skull. He jumped into the air and flipped backwards in order to miss whatever it was on pure instinct. The sight of the glider came into view, remote operating as it flew right at where Peter had been.
Peter landed just as the glider imbedded its spikes into the wall. Norman looked down at the glider that was now sunk into his chest in surprise. He opened his mouth and blood trickled down his chin. Peter stayed crouched on the floor in shock, unable to fully process what had just happened.
Norman tried to say something, tried to smile, tried to laugh, but the spikes were in his chest and his lungs didn’t work and his ribs wouldn’t expand. He slumped forward onto the glider, his eyes going distant, his body falling slack. A scream crawled up Peter’s throat and tumbled from his lips.
No! No, Norman couldn’t die! Peter wasn’t a killer. He wasn’t! He had stopped himself. He was going to walk away. Why? Why did that happen?!
Peter tried to stand, but the world was spinning, and he pitched forward on his hands and knees. His stomach flipped and he gagged. He wanted to rip the glider from the wall and toss it away, press his hands on Norman’s wounds. It wouldn’t do anything, but at least he’d be trying.
Norman’s earlier words echoed in his mind. Harry wouldn’t forgive Peter for killing his father. Harry would be rid of Peter. Everything Peter had done to try and protect Harry would be ruined. Peter didn’t want that! He hadn’t meant to kill Norman! He’d stopped himself!
Peter tried to crawl to Norman but his body wouldn’t obey. Every time he tried to move, his muscles jerked around in painful ways. His vision pulsed and his ears rang. His consciousness kept hovering on the edge of rational and out of control. He wanted to curl up and cry. He wanted to rip the very foundation of the penthouse apart with his bare hands. He wanted to start running and not stop until his body collapsed from exhaustion. He wanted to do it all at once and his head felt ready to explode from it all.
Someone was calling his name. It sounded muffled and far away. That probably wasn’t a good sign. He lifted his head, his eyes skipping everywhere of their own volition. He just wanted to see who was in front of him. Someone was there. Why couldn’t he focus?
“Peter look at me!”
A hand on his face, forcing him to stare into dark blue eyes. Peter trembled and he opened his mouth to speak, but all that came out was a rasping wordless shout, choked off with a growl. The hand tightened it’s grip.
“Focus on me!”
That was when Peter recognized Harry’s face. Harry was there, he’d seen, he knew. No! Peter didn’t want this. He hadn’t meant to kill Norman!
Something sharp stabbed into his hip. It burned and his body jerked at the contact, a snarl pulled back his lips. Harry gripped Peter’s chin hard, forcing Peter to keep eye contact and not move.
“Keep looking at me,” Harry insisted. “I’m injecting you with something that will help, but it’s going to leave your emotions erratic.”
Peter gasped for breath and forced himself to stay still. He just had to stay immobile long enough for whatever Harry was injecting to work. Peter wasn’t sure how long it took, but eventually the needle was removed from his side and his body began to shake in great violent tremors. A tightness grew in his chest and his eyes filled with tears.
“I’m sorry,” Peter choked out. “I’m sorry!”
“Shhh.” Harry pulled Peter into his arms. “It’s not your fault. I know that.”
Peter gripped Harry’s shirt and clenched only the fabric in his fists so that he wouldn’t hurt Harry. His muscles were going haywire and his emotions were turbulent. A sob ripped out of Peter and Harry ran soothing hands over Peter’s hair, neck, and back.
“What the hell happened here?”
Peter jerked like he’d been electrocuted. That voice… it was Tony. They weren’t prepared for the Avengers yet! Peter looked up to see a group of them walking in with Tony. Peter hadn’t heard them approaching. In fact, he was still barely able to discern the sound of their footsteps even while watching them. Peter couldn’t tell if that was from the gas, what he’d been injected with, or the injuries he’d accumulated. Perhaps all three.
Harry gently uncurled Peter’s fingers from his shirt and stood up. Tony locked eyes on his target and stepped forward. “Harry Osborn, you’re under arrest for suspected terrorist activity, multiple cases of attempted murder, and multiple connections to crime syndicate activity.”
“No…” Felicia moaned.
Peter’s eyes cut over and saw her across the room, tied up, bruised and beaten, and crying. Beside her lay an unconscious Mariah. Wade was making his way across the room to Peter.
“Wait…” Peter rasped. He needed to get control of himself. Needed to clear it all up.
Harry squared his shoulders and calmly replied. “I did it.”
Felicia and Peter stared at Harry in stunned silence. Peter snapped out of it first. “No! Harry, no!”
Harry dropped back to crouch in front of Peter. He wore a sad smile. “I knew what was happening,” he whispered. “I knew it, and I did nothing to stop it. I knew why, and I did nothing to change things. I could have removed myself from my father’s underground dealings, could have gone to the police, but I went along with it. I’m guilty, Peter.”
Tears streaked down Peter’s cheeks uncontrollably. He shook his head, over and over, his throat tight with words he could barely force out. “No! Harry, no! Please don’t do this!”
Peter tried to lurch forward, but Wade was suddenly there. He pulled Peter into him, wrapping large arms around his shaking frame. Peter pushed at Wade’s arms, but he barely had any strength. His body couldn’t handle all that had happened to it in such a short period of time.
“It’s time I did something worthwhile,” Harry said and stood back up.
“Nonono!” Peter sobbed and turned to look at Tony. “Please! It’s not him!”
Tony’s helmet folded away and his eyes looked concerned as they flicked between the panicked Peter and the calm Harry. Tony glanced over at the body of Norman Osborn, looking even more befuddled as to what all had happened. “Listen, Osborn, if you’re trying to protect someone…”
“It doesn’t matter,” Harry said. “I will admit to everything. All products were produced by and in my company. I will give all the details to the criminal activity my father and I were involved in.”
“Stop!” Peter begged.
On the other side of the room, Felicia stared at Harry in mute horror. She was crying as well, but she seemed to be in shock as she wasn’t moving or making a sound. She just looked… broken.
“Tony, please!” Peter tried a different avenue. “They’ll tear him apart in jail!”
The gas affected omegas and caused them to attack alphas. That would effectively put Harry on everyone’s shit list. Nobody would be able to protect Harry from angry guards and inmates who held a grudge or hated the use of such methods because it left them in fear.
Tony seemed to come to that conclusion as well. He sighed. “We’ll take you into custody ourselves and work with the authorities. You’ll likely be isolated the majority of the time.”
Harry gave a single nod. “I appreciate the concern.”
Peter cried out again, wordless and agonized. He didn’t know what else to say and his mind was too muddled to think of anything coherent. Wade’s arms tightened, desperately trying to lend comfort and support in a situation where none could be had.
Harry was a good person. He was going to take the blame for others because he felt the need to help them keep their lives. Because he understood why they had gone to such drastic lengths. Peter had been suspicious of Harry for so long, and there he was, sacrificing himself. The guilt of it ate away at Peter like a physical thing, tearing up his insides.
Tony stepped forward and held out his hands, cuffs ready. Harry obediently turned around and placed his arms behind his back. He smiled down at Peter like everything would be okay and it wouldn’t be. Peter tried to beg Harry to stop once more, but it came out an incoherent and garbled mess.
Steve stepped forward, looking conflicted and compassionate. “We’ll need to bring the others in for treatment. Help them up.”
A few went to aid Felicia and Mariah, but Wade refused to let anyone get close to Peter. Wade scooped Peter up into his arms and held him close. Peter buried his face into Wade’s neck, desperately hoping the smell of alpha would help. His body still shook uncontrollably, he still felt sick and weak, he still sobbed, but at least he felt safe in Wade’s arms.
As Wade walked them out of the destroyed penthouse, Peter watched over Wade’s shoulder as Felicia and Harry were given a moment, their foreheads pressed together. Felicia looked like her world was crumbling around her. Maybe it was. Peter’s sure was.
“Wade…” Peter croaked.
“It’s okay, Baby Boy,” Wade whispered. “I’ve got you. I promise. I won’t leave your side.”
Peter watched until he could no longer see his best friend. Then he pressed his face against Wade’s shoulder and let the pain of it wash over him. His body ached, but his chest hurt far worse. How had everything gone so wrong?