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11:10

Two news anchors sit at a desk in the center of a studio. One is an older man. The other is a younger woman. There are paper notes laid out in front of them. The man speaks first.

“We have received reports this morning of the NYPD initiating a large-scale search for an as of yet unidentified missing person. At the moment, that’s all we know, although the sudden mobilization of police resources indicates that the missing person is high-profile, perhaps from the government or someone prominent in the public eye. We’ll be sure to update you if the situation develops.”

 

12:20

The same two news anchors sit at the same desk. They are composed, but both have an excited glint to their eyes. This time, the woman speaks first.

“Welcome back. We have an update on the missing persons case we first informed you of this morning. Inside sources have revealed that the NYPD’s continued search is tied to the city’s very own Iron Man: Tony Stark. It is unclear at this time whether or not the search is for Stark himself or someone within his circle.”

 

12:58

The scene is the same. The female news anchor continues to take the lead.

“We’ve just received word that the NYPD will be holding a press conference on the missing persons case that’s been turning heads across the city. We’ll be redirecting you to a live stream of the NYPD’s media briefing room as soon as it becomes available.”

The male news anchor glances behind the camera and nods before speaking.

“Which is right now, apparently. Alright. Let’s see if the NYPD has any answers for us.”

 

13:00

A man in uniform stands behind a podium inside a spacious room. Camera flashes light up his face. Behind him, a line of police officers and men in suits stand silently.

A small title pops up on the screen as the man begins to talk. He’s the police chief of the NYPD.

“We’ve become aware of the public’s interest regarding the search started earlier this morning for a missing person. The NYPD is also aware that, many times, citizens can be some of our greatest resources in situations like this. Therefore, we wanted to give you all the information available to us in the hopes that some of you may have information concerning our search. Sometimes between 7:00 and 8:00 this morning, Peter Parker disappeared while walking to school. As I’m sure you’re aware, Mister Parker’s prominence in the public eye means that we want to investigate the case as swiftly and as diligently as possible. As of this exact moment, we have not ruled out the possibility of a runaway or suicide attempt. However, neither Mister Parker’s aunt nor Tony Stark can offer us any explanation for why he would make either one of these drastic decisions. We are working with Mister Parker’s family, Tony Stark, and Stark Industries as we move forward with the investigation. We ask that anyone who can offer any information regarding Peter Parker’s whereabouts contact the NYPD immediately. More information will become available as we see fit.”

The press conference ends without the police chief taking questions.

 

14:00

Pepper Potts walks onto a stage, lit by camera flashes. She stops behind a podium. A few security guards flank her. Otherwise, however, she stands alone.

“You’ll forgive me if I come across as a little blunt, but I’m afraid we’ve all been through a bit of a shock today.” Pepper’s shoulders straighten. “The NYPD has already given you the executive summary of Peter’s disappearance. I have nothing to add to their timeline. Peter was supposed to be in AP Chemistry at 8:00 this morning, but he never arrived. When he didn’t answer repeated phone calls from both his aunt and Tony, the two made the decision to contact the police. They have both been working diligently with the NYPD since.

“I will not release any information regarding Peter’s disappearance that I have not previously had cleared by the NYPD and a series of experts. This is a decision I’ve made with Tony, and we feel it is best for both Peter’s privacy and his safety.

“We appreciate everyone who has offered their support. If you have any information that could pertain to Peter’s disappearance, I ask that you please contact the NYPD immediately.” Pepper takes a steadying breath. “I’ll now take a few questions, but please keep in mind the guidelines I’ve already outlined about the information I’m willing to release.”

“Miss Potts, will Mister Stark be making any statements?”

Pepper swallows, hard. “As you can imagine, this is a difficult time for Tony. Right now, he’s made the decision to focus his efforts on finding Peter rather than engaging in any sort of PR. I will, however, run the content of these press conferences and any press releases made by SI regarding Peter’s disappearance by him and Peter’s aunt.”

“Do you think Peter has been kidnapped?”

“As the NYPD said, we’ve yet to rule out the possibility of Peter running away. We’d like to focus on that chance before we go jumping to more drastic conclusions.”

“Why would he want to run away?”

“We’re not sure, but the NYPD has made it very clear that it isn’t uncommon for teenagers to do this sort of thing.”

“But Peter doesn’t really seem like the type, does he?”

Pepper’s jaw tightens almost imperceptibly. “No, he’s never been the type. May, that’s Peter’s aunt, and Tony have made this point to the NYPD and the officers in charge of the case are taking it into account as they investigate.”

“Do you hope he’s run away?”

“Obviously, none of us would like to imagine that Peter would do something like that. However, I would certainly prefer it to some of the other options.” Pepper clears her throat. “That’s all the questions I’ll be taking today. The NYPD will continue to update you as necessary.”

Pepper walks offstage without another word.

 

16:00

The police chief from earlier is back in front of the podium in the NYPD’s media briefing room.

“Regarding the Peter Parker case, we now have information confirming that the teenager has not run away, but has been kidnapped. Thanks to an anonymous tip from a vigilant citizen, officers tracked down the vehicle used in the initial stages of the abduction. Tony Stark provided us with a sample of Mister Parker’s DNA, and we were able to match that sample to samples taken from the recovered van. This new information should help us move forward with the investigation and offer us the best chance of bringing Peter home safely. Now, I’ll field just a few questions before we wrap this up.”

“Do you believe Peter was kidnapped due to his relationship with Tony Stark?”

“We believe that it is a significant factor, yes.”

“Has Stark received any ransom demands?”

“As of this moment, no.”

“Do you believe he will receive ransom demands?”

“That is unclear at this time.”

“What DNA did you find in the van?”

“That is not information we’re willing to release.”

“Do you have any idea where Peter could be being held?”

“We’re utilizing every resource in our attempts to uncover that information.”

“Is Tony Stark going to bring the Avengers into this?”

“Mister Stark is very concerned about the safety and wellbeing of his intern. He’s been incredibly cooperative thus far in the investigation, and that cooperation includes allowing the professionals to do their jobs. He understands that any interference could jeopardize Peter’s safety.”

“Do you have reason to believe that Peter Parker could already be dead?”

“Unfortunately, that is an option. However, we’re doing our best to stay optimistic as we move forward. This isn’t the first time the child or ward of a high-profile businessman has been abducted. We’ve brought in experts on these cases to advise us. We’ll do everything we can to get Peter right back where he belongs, safe and sound.”

Chapter Text

7:00

A young male newscaster sits alone at a desk. He looks tired, but his voice is steady and professional.

“Good morning. We start our news hour with a rather perplexing update on the Peter Parker kidnapping.” A shaky clip, obviously taken with a cellphone, pops up beside the image of the news anchor. It shows a blurry Iron Man darting up and down amongst a sea of shipping containers. “At about 5:30 this morning, Iron Man was seen scouting out the New York Container Terminal on Staten Island. We reached out to both the NYPD and Stark Industries for an explanation for Iron Man’s presence and received no comment. Then, less than an hour after he was spotted soaring along the far side of Staten Island, Tony Stark was photographed entering the NYPD’s Headquarters in Manhattan.” The video is replaced by a series of paparazzi photos of Tony Stark getting out of a car and jogging through the front doors of a large brick building. Sunglasses and a dark hoodie obscure his face. “Once again, it is unclear exactly what prompted either of these early morning expeditions form the eccentric billionaire.”

 

9:00

The NYPD chief of police stands in front of his podium in the media briefing room.

“I know all of you are anxious for further updates on the Peter Parker case. As of now, we’ve received only a single communication from his captors. That call came in a little after 2:00 pm yesterday. Since then, we’ve had no further contact. No demands have been made. At this point, it’s really just a waiting game. We do, however, assure you that we are doing everything in our power to ensure Peter’s continued survival. Now, I’ll be willing to answer just a couple of questions.”

“Why was Iron Man seen flying above the New York Container Terminal earlier this morning?”

The chief’s expression tightens. “What Tony Stark does in his own time is no concern of ours. He maintains the necessary permissions and permits to operate the suit in the city.”

“So it had nothing to do with Peter Parker’s disappearance?”

“Not as far as the NYPD is concerned, no.”

“Then why was Mister Stark so eager to enter your headquarters this morning?”

“As I’m sure all of us can understand, Mister Stark is under quite a lot of stress at the moment. He is desperate for any updates that we may be able to give him.”

“So he came to your headquarters looking for updates?”

“In essence, yes. Does anyone else have any questions?”

“How is Tony Stark handling all of this?”

“As well as can be expected.”

“Can you give any more details on that?”

“Tony Stark’s personal life is his and his alone. He and Peter’s aunt have both asked the NYPD to provide them with as much privacy as possible. The most I can offer you is the continued reminder that this is a very difficult time for him. Emotions run high when children go missing.”

“Last press conference, you insinuated that Peter Parker was Tony Stark’s child. Can you elaborate on that point?”

“I likened this case to that of a businessman's child being kidnapped, yes. After discussing Peter’s relationship with Tony Stark and his aunt extensively, as well as reviewing the reception of their public images, our officers have come to the conclusion that it is best to approach his kidnapping with the same techniques usually employed with other child abductions for ransom. Peter’s captors did not choose him randomly. This is a deliberate manipulation of Tony Stark’s fondness for the teenager. It’s only logical to treat the case as it presents.”

“Does that mean that Tony Stark has suggested to the NYPD that Peter Parker is, at least in some way, his child?”

“I don’t see how that question is relevant to the case, so I’ll choose not to answer it. Anybody else?”

“So you believe that ransom demands will come?”

“We’ve received no demands as of yet. However, we are prepared for the possibility. Tony Stark is an affluent and powerful man with considerable resources, and his fondness for Peter Parker has been put on display for the world to see. It’s not inconceivable that someone would seek to exploit that, even at the cost of a young boy’s safety and his family’s peace of mind.”

 

11:00

Three women sit on a plush couch. One is blonde, one is brunette, and the other is a redhead. They have a small coffee table between them, with mugs of tea sitting beside a teapot.

“Well,” the blonde starts, “I think we just have to start by talking about poor Peter Parker.”

“Oh, yes,” the redhead nods solemnly, “it’s horrible. For those of you who may not be up to date, Peter Parker was kidnapped early yesterday morning.”

“It’s just so terrible! I can’t imagine what his poor aunt is going through.”

“And Tony Stark.” The brunette takes a sip of her tea before continuing. “My daughter loves their YouTube channel, so we watch their videos quite a lot together. I have to admit, I didn’t like him one bit before Peter Parker came along. He always seemed arrogant, and I didn’t appreciate his playboy days even after he’d supposedly put them behind him. But seeing him with Peter really changed my opinion. He’s so gentle with him, like a real parent.”

The blonde nods vigorously. “Yes, yes. It’s so sweet. You know, there are a lot of theories that Peter is his secret biological child.”

The brunette shrugs. “Either way, he’s definitely his parent.”

The redhead frowns. “He must be out of his mind with worry, the poor man. Can you imagine?”

“Oh, no. I don’t think I could bear it. As it is, all I want to do is go home and hug my children a little tighter tonight.”

The blonde frowns. “Do you think they’ll find him?”

“Oh, I hope so. But… there’s always a chance, isn’t there? The people who took him are crazy. You can never count on what crazy people might do.”

There’s a beat of deafening silence.

“Well, we’ve got a lot more to discuss, so stay tuned. Up next: where are the best spots to buy organic produce to fit your budget?”

 

15:30

Pepper Potts stands behind a podium. Colonel James Rhodes hovers beside her.

“I’d mostly like to reiterate what the NYPD has already released in their earlier press conference, but I can also say that we’ve since made another contact with Peter’s kidnappers. No negotiations are in progress, but we’re hopeful that we may be able to create a more productive stream of communication soon. Tony and May have explicitly asked me to remind both the media and the public that this is an extremely difficult time for all of us who are close with Peter. All we ask is for general respect for our privacy and emotional well-being as we work to bring him home.” Pepper glances to Rhodey once before continuing. “Please keep that in mind as we move to questions.”

“Is there anything the public can do to make this easier for you or Mister Stark?”

“As I said, a continued respect for our boundaries is invaluable. Contacting the police with any information you may have that could help us recover him safely is also a wonderful help.”

“Is Tony willing to negotiate a ransom if that’s what Peter’s kidnappers want?”

“That’s something we will release if or when it becomes necessary.”

“Have you received any proof of life?”

“Not yet, but that is currently Tony’s top priority.”

“So Peter could very well be dead?”

Pepper’s hands clench. Rhodey takes a half-step towards her, stance protective. “It is a possibility that we are aware of, yes. It is not, however, one I choose to dwell on.”

“Colonel Rhodes! Are you just here to support Miss Potts?”

Rhodey leans towards the microphone and speaks stiffly. “As well as Peter’s aunt and Tony.”

“Do you have an opinion on all of this?”

“I think that whoever thinks it’s funny to snatch an innocent kid off the street is a right bastard. I personally cannot wait to see them slammed in jail, or worse.”

“So you’re confident you’ll recover Peter and successfully arrest his kidnappers?”

“Oh, we’ll catch them. That’s a promise, by the way.”

Chapter Text

16:00

The NYPD police chief stands in the media briefing room. He’s entirely composed but looks a little irritated.

“We don’t have a lot of updates for you today. We’ve received no further contact from Peter’s captors. We’re pursuing a few leads, but we have no information to offer the public on any of those at this time. We’d like to send out a general thanks to everyone who called in tips. We take every call very seriously. Now, if anyone has any questions, feel free to ask.”

“Why do you think Peter’s kidnappers are staying so silent?”

“It could be an intimidation technique. Making us wait gives them the illusion of control. They’ll want to maintain that during negotiations.”

“How is Tony Stark?”

“Waiting as patiently as a man can when someone he cares about is in danger.”

“Do you think Peter is still alive?”

“We hope so. Even without the proof of life, we can’t see what his captors would gain from killing him. He’s worth more to them alive.”

“But a lot can go wrong in a kidnapping, can’t it?”

“Yes, it can. But Mister Stark has informed us that Peter has been through what he describes as extensive ransom training, and that improves his chances considerably. He’ll understand how to act in order to keep himself as safe as possible. That gives us confidence.”

“Tony Stark put Peter through ransom training? Does that imply that he expected this to happen?”

“It’s not uncommon for the close friends and family of men like Tony Stark to undergo training for kidnapping situations. It has nothing to do with whether Mister Stark expected it or not. He chose to equip Peter with every skill he thought may be useful to him. As it is, we’re grateful he did so, and I’m sure Peter is, too. I think that’s it for questions. We’ll give you another update once we actually have something to tell you.”

 

18:05

Two armchairs sit facing each other. The one on the right has a woman sitting in it. The other holds a man in a suit.

“Welcome back. We’re starting off today’s show with an interview with Quinton Kell, an expert on hostage situations. Mister Kell is here to speak with us about the Peter Parker case.”

The man in the suit gives a sharp nod. “Thank you for having me.”

“Thank you for being here. Now, let’s just get a little background. What exactly is it that you do?”

“I’m a private hostage negotiator. I work for an undisclosed company that offers K&R insurance.”

“Just for the sake of our viewers, what does K&R stand for?”

“Kidnapping and ransom.”

“So, this wouldn’t be the first time you’ve encountered a case like Peter Parker’s?”

“Well, yes and no. I’ve certainly negotiated ransoms involving children before, but never for such a widely covered case. The media attention is bound to change the way any negotiations move forward.”

“Is that a good or a bad thing for Peter?”

“It definitely tips the odds against him. The media attention will add to the stress of his kidnappers. The more frightened they are, the more danger Peter is in.”

“How good do you think his odds are, considering all the factors you’re aware of?”

“If this is a ransom case, then they’re actually pretty decent, even when taking into account the press coverage. As long as Tony Stark is willing to cooperate and pay, which I imagine he will be, then the best-case scenario for Peter is that he’s home by the end of the week.”

“Do you think he’ll be harmed?”

“That’s hard to say. I saw the NYPD press conference this morning where they revealed that Peter’s been through hostage training. I’m sure the NYPD negotiators working on the case were pleased to hear that. K&R training greatly increases Peter’s chances of staying calm enough to cooperate. If he stays quiet and doesn’t try anything stupid, he’ll be much more likely to come out of this unscathed. However, it’s not unusual for ransom victims to get roughed up, especially in the beginning. You have to remember that we’re dealing with criminals. You can never truly predict what someone desperate enough to kidnap a child might do.”

The woman nods solemnly. “How do you deal with families in these situations? I imagine that that must be a vital part of your job.”

“It is, it is. Actually, dealing with the families of victims is the hardest part. Ransom negotiations usually take time, a lot of it, and it’s very difficult to explain this to people when their loves ones are in danger. They want them home, and they want them home now. It’s understandable, of course, but difficult to work around.”

“Do you think that Tony Stark’s experiences, both as Iron Man and after being ransomed himself, will help him stay calm and objective?”

“I’ve worked with a variety of clients with a variety of backgrounds. Businessmen, ex-military, the likes. I’ve yet to meet a single one who can handle a ransom case like this with logic. It’s just not possible with emotions working as violently as they do when someone you love is in danger. I doubt Tony Stark will be any different.”

“So, in your professional opinion, what’s the best thing for Tony Stark to do right now?”

“Frankly? Sit back and let the professionals do their jobs. He has a history of interfering in places he shouldn’t. If he does that now, it could lead to disastrous consequences for Peter.”

 

20:30

A man in his twenties is sitting in front of a black background. The lighting is professional, and the video quality is high.

“Wassup. My name’s Jack, and this is Backstory: the YouTube channel that fills you in. Today, we’ve got a big one to delve into. A lot of you have been asking me to explain the Peter Parker kidnapping case. And, as usual, let’s start from the beginning.”

There’s a rewind sound effect, and the video blurs briefly, as if the visuals are backtracking.

“Everything sort of took off in November of last year, when someone hacked the Stark Industries employee server. They were probably just looking for some basic stats to sell to competing companies, but they ended up stumbling upon something unexpected, and a lot more valuable. It was a data file for some random kid: Peter Parker. It had his basic information: age, height, shit like that. The usual profile for an intern. Except this intern had level 10 security clearance. In case you’re, you know, a normal person and therefore just a little unfamiliar with the way Tony Stark organizes his clearance codes, there are only three people besides Peter Parker who have that level of clearance in Stark Tower: Tony Stark, Pepper Potts, and Colonel James Rhodes. Even the other Avengers only had level 9 clearance before the Accords fiasco. Level 10 means that there isn’t a single room in the Tower that Peter doesn’t have access to. I’m talking any lab, any workshop, anything. Kid can waltz into Tony Stark’s personal goddamn bathroom if he feels like it.

“Once the hacker sold that data file to the media, pretty much everyone in the world asked the same questions that I’m sure you might be asking yourself right about now: who the fuck is this kid and why the hell does Tony Stark trust him so much?

“It was a big rush of mystery for a few weeks. Peter got pulled from school and Stark hid him up in the Tower like fucking Rapunzel. A couple of news outlets suggested that Stark had decided to go cradle robbing, but SI shut that shit down pretty quick. The general consensus ended on the kid being Tony Stark’s long-lost son from his playboy days. To be honest, despite both Stark and Peter denying the rumors, that’s still the general consensus. A recent survey by the New York Times found that 67% of respondents believe that Peter Parker is biologically related to Tony Stark, and 89% think that Tony Stark is one of Peter Parker’s legal guardians, with or without the biological tie.

“And, to tell the truth, it wasn’t like Stark and Peter exactly helped their case. In December, after a lengthy run of silence from the usually outspoken billionaire, he and his definitely-not-his-son essentially broke the internet when they created their joint YouTube account: theironvlogs. Over the next few months, they peppered the channel with challenges and a Q&A atmosphere. People ate it up, too. Their easy dynamic and the way Stark seemed to casually parent Peter brought about the term ‘irondad,’ which is now used all around the internet and even in mainstream media to refer to the pair. Even Peter Parker has used the term in a couple of tweets.

“theironvlogs currently has 50 million subscribers, and that number only continues to climb. In fact, they hit the 50 million mark just yesterday, in the direct aftermath of Peter’s disappearance. And that brings us to the hottest news topic of the moment: Peter Parker’s kidnapping. You probably know the details, but I’ll give you a quick summary just in case.

“Sometime between 7:00 and 8:00 am on Wednesday, Peter Parker disappeared while walking to the subway to catch his usual train to school. When he didn’t show up, Tony Stark and May Parker, his aunt, reported him missing to the NYPD. They didn’t realize he’d been kidnapped rather than him just, say, running away, until the NYPD found a van with his DNA in it. Besides from a few press conferences held by Pepper Potts and the occasional paparazzi photo, Tony Stark has entirely withdrawn from the public eye. All of his press appearances for the next three months have been canceled.

“So, why Peter? Well, the answer is pretty obvious to anyone with a brain. Even if Peter isn’t Tony Stark’s biological kid, Stark’s made it pretty damn clear that he’d do just about anything to keep him safe. And, ironically, that puts a target on his back. Both the NYPD and Pepper Potts have said they’ve received no ransom demands, but I promise you that that’s exactly what Peter’s captors are after. They’re just making Stark stew a little before giving him an out. They want him desperate, afraid. He’s the most pliable when he’s vulnerable, and there’s nothing more vulnerable than a parent terrified over the safety of their child.

“Of course, all of this sucks ass for Peter Parker. He’s a pawn in a game that’s way above his head. I guess all any of us can do now is hope whoever’s holding him has some tiny sliver of morality. I don’t know about you guys, but I’d hate for an innocent teenage kid to end up in the river.”

Chapter Text

8:00

A female reporter stands in front of a metal gate. Behind her, there is an expanse of trees and green.

“I’m standing just outside of Queensbridge Park, where less than an hour ago the NYPD responded to reports of a body washed up on the rocky shore. The corpse was discovered by a local woman taking her child to play in the park. She flagged down a few passersby, one of which notified the NYPD. Eyewitness accounts claim that the body was mutilated and disfigured. We have reached out to the NYPD for comment, but have received no response.”

 

9:00

A male newscaster shifts through a pile of notes on his desk before glancing up at the camera with a charismatic grin. His voice is slightly higher-pitched than his face suggests.

“Just a quick update on the body found in Queensbridge Park this morning before we get on with the rest of the news: an inside source has told us that the NYPD suspects that the corpse could be the remains of Peter Parker. While Tony Stark and the police have made contact with the teenager’s supposed kidnappers, no proof of life has been obtained. The last time there was any confirmation that Peter Parker was alive comes from security camera footage taken just minutes before he was abducted on Wednesday morning. We’ll update you as soon as we know more.”

 

11:30

The NYPD police chief is back in the media briefing room. At this point, the background is eerily familiar to viewers. The chief’s voice is set in its usual professional monotone.

“Regarding the Queensbridge Park body, we do have reason to suspect that it may belong to Peter Parker. The coroner has been able to confirm that the remains are that of a Caucasian male in his mid to late teens. He set the time of death around the afternoon of June 5th: the day of Peter’s kidnapping. Unfortunately, East River’s current changes frequently. This makes it difficult to estimate where the body was originally dumped. The corpse has also been badly mutilated and has been in the water for several days. This adds another layer of difficulty in the already complex task of identifying the body. The coroner is starting on DNA analysis as I speak. We are hoping to receive the results later this afternoon or in the early evening. I’ll now open this up for questions.”

“Could Tony Stark not identify the body?”

“The officers working directly on the case made the decision not to ask either Mister Stark or Mrs. Parker to attempt an identification. Due to the mutilated nature of the remains, we believe that it is unlikely that either could give us a positive evaluation. We wanted to spare them that trauma. Colonel James Rhodes, however, volunteered to attempt an identification. He has significant experience with this sort of thing, and he knows Peter Parker very well. Upon seeing the body, however, he was unable to give any sort of positive response.”

“When you say mutilated, what exactly do you mean? Can you give a more detailed description?”

“The body has been badly damaged. Most of the wounds are concentrated around his chest, neck, and face.”

“Did this happen before or after the victim died?”

“As I’ve said, water damage can skew all of these estimates. However, the coroner believes most of the damaged occurred ante and perimortem.”

“So they tortured him?”

“How the body sustained this trauma is currently unclear. It is also important to note that the exact identity of the victim is still unconfirmed.”

“Has Tony Stark been informed?”

“We informed both him and Mrs. Parker earlier this morning.”

“How are they taking the news?”

“We are imploring them not to give up hope. There is still a possibility that Peter is alive. While it is important to prepare yourself for the worst, it doesn’t do to wallow in a misery that may not come to anything.”

“But you think it could be Peter’s body?”

“We have significant reason to believe it is likely, yes.”

 

16:00

Pepper Potts walks onto a stage, flanked by Colonel Rhodes. Each one of their steps is punctuated by a rush of camera flashes. When Pepper stops behind her podium, she grips the sides tightly. Her face looks hollow. Her eyes are tired underneath her makeup. Rhodey’s jaw is stiff. He looks entirely composed, but there is an emptiness in his gaze.

“They found a body this morning. They think it could be Peter’s. This is all information you already know, but I’m saying it again because I have nothing else to add. They’re rushing the DNA analysis, so we should have results back today. That’s a mercy, at least. I’ll take a few questions, but I’m sure you can all understand that I’d like to get this over with and get back to Tony as quickly as possible.”

“How is Tony?”

Pepper glances down briefly. Her voice is solid but sad. “He’s surviving.”

“Is he staying sober throughout this whole thing?”

Rhodey answers. “ Yes , but I don’t think that’s any of your business.”

“What will you do if the body is Peter’s?”

Rhodey answers again. “We haven’t thought that far ahead. We’re all just trying to live in the moment.”

“Will the funeral be public?”

“Like I said, Tony and May will cross all of those bridges if they come to it. And if there’s any fucking decency in the world, they won’t.”

“Miss Potts, do you think the body is Peter’s?”

Pepper presses her lips together. “All I know is that I’m praying it isn’t.”

“Colonel Rhodes, the police chief said you’ve seen the body. How was it?”

“It was a mutilated corpse. How do you think it was?”

“I was just wondering if you think the body is Peter’s.”

“The NYPD already told you that I couldn’t give the body a positive ID.”

“But you must have a hunch.”

“I’m not one for hunches. All I know is that I stared into what was left of the face of a dead kid this morning, and that kid could be one I know and love. That’s quite enough for me, thank you.”

 

20:00

The NYPD police chief comes to a stop behind his usual podium in the media briefing room. There are a few uniformed officers behind him.

“We have an update on the Queensbridge Park body. DNA comparisons were completed an hour ago. They confirmed that the body is not that of Peter Parker. His loved ones have been informed and have expressed a great deal of relief. The coroner has also ruled the death a homicide, and the proper officers have since been assigned to the case. The NYPD will continue to investigate both the Peter Parker kidnapping and the Queensbridge Park murder with diligence and dedication. Further attempts will be made to identify the victim in the coming days. If anybody has any information about the Queensbridge Park body, please contact the NYPD immediately.”

 

22:00

STARK INDUSTRIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 9
ON PETER PARKER AND THE QUEENSBRIDGE PARK BODY

Everyone at Stark Industries was relieved to receive the news that the Queensbridge Park body was not that of Peter Parker.

Tony Stark would like to express his personal condolences to the family of the victim. As soon as the body is identified and the victim’s family is notified, Mr. Stark will begin arrangements to cover all funeral costs.

The NYPD and Stark Industries will continue to work non-stop to ensure Mr. Parker’s safe return.

Chapter Text

00:34

A young man sits in front of the camera. Behind him is a messy bedroom. When he speaks, he gesticulates dramatically with his hands.

“Hello, and welcome back to my channel. I’m so excited about this video. Like, I’ve been working on it for days almost nonstop. I just… god , this one is cool, guys.

“At this point, anyone who doesn’t live under a rock knows about the Peter Parker case. And, sure, we all know what the media is telling us. Supposedly, Peter Parker’s been kidnapped for ransom. But do we actually know the truth?

“Now, I’ve got a couple of theories about what’s actually going on here.” The man rubs his hands together. “So, let’s get this started.”

The screen briefly goes black. A huge block of text pops up. Theory 1. Then, the video cuts back to the view of the man sitting in his bedroom.

“We all know that Tony Stark’s reputation is, well, flaky to say the least. But pretty much anyone will agree that Peter Parker has been the best thing for Stark’s reputation since pretty much ever. Before Iron Man, the world saw him as an irresponsible drunk who couldn’t keep it in his pants. After Iron Man, the world saw him as an irresponsible billionaire who made a profit off of the destruction he caused. The Sokovia Accords helped a little, but the fallout from the Avengers splintering mitigated almost any brownie points that his cooperation may have won him.

“Peter Parker could’ve easily been another mistake in a long line of failures for Tony Stark, but he wasn’t. There’s a lot of reasons for that, but most of it boils down to the way Stark managed to flip the narrative in their favor. The pathos in their YouTube videos offset a lot of the negative press that originally surrounded their relationship. Overall, it was a masterful maneuvering for his public image.

“Now, for me, I’ve never believed any of it. I can’t see how Tony Stark, one of the richest and most influential men on the planet , could create this seemingly perfect image of parental bliss with some random teenager from Queens organically. It’s got to be a press stunt, and it always has been. And this ? This kidnapping? It’s the same thing: a grasp for publicity.

“Think about it. We all know that the NYPD is corrupt, and Stark’s rich enough to bribe them into cooperation. He probably pays Peter to make those videos with him, show up to the Tower, go out and get caught by paparazzi, y’know, all that stuff. Now, he just ups the kid’s salary and whisks him off to a safe house somewhere. All this media sympathy will be good for him. They’ll deliver him back after a week or two and pretend it was one big event.”

The man winks. “But, that’s not my only theory.”

Theory 2.

“Now, we all know that the government is at least partially controlled by aliens. I’ve made a few videos about how the Battle of New York only proves this, I’ll go ahead and link those in the video description. See, Stark is pretty cozy with the elites. After all, he’s an Avenger, and they’re probably the biggest offenders when it comes to fraternizing with alien races. So, you have to ask, is all of this actually a cover-up of Peter Parker being abducted, not by humans, but by aliens?

“I two subtheories within this theory. The first is that whatever aliens Stark has been in contact with developed a fascination with Peter. After all, if he really is close with Stark, then he must know a lot of SI and government secrets. If you’re an alien race, you want that inside scoop. So, they snatch him. Even if Stark demands him back, they can probably buy themselves enough time to extract anything they want from the poor kid.

“My second idea is that Tony Stark actually gave Peter Parker to the aliens, perhaps as a gift or a way to appease them. There has been evidence to suggest that aliens have a partiality to children. Maybe Stark has been in contact with them and needed a liaison. Maybe he was dealing with them, and then they demanded something in return. Maybe this is all in cahoots with the government, and they offered Peter to the alien delegation as a sort of ward. A gesture of peace. Who knows?

“Well, I guess poor Peter probably does.”

Theory 3 .

“My final theory is that Peter Parker is dead and that Tony Stark planned it. I know, I know, this one sounds crazy, but it actually has a decent amount of credit when you start to really think about it. Tony Stark hires this kid to pretend to be his intern and to make these YouTube videos with him. No matter how much security and safeguards Stark puts in place, Peter is gonna start to absorb some information that he’d rather not get out. After a while, Stark starts to realize just how much Peter knows. Maybe he just makes the decision to off him before he can say anything, or maybe the kid tries to quit and it’s a desperation move, but each scenario results in the same outcome: Stark hires a hitman, and Peter disappears.”

 

9:00

The NYPD police chief takes his place behind the podium in the media briefing room. He glances around at the gathered reporters and photographers before beginning his speech.

“Earlier this morning, we received proof of life from Peter Parker’s kidnappers and were finally able to begin negotiations for his safe return. As you can imagine, all of Peter’s loved ones are relieved to have concrete evidence that he’s alive. His captors have requested that Tony Stark handles all of the negotiations, but he will be assisted by a series of NYPD experts. We will not be releasing any specifics about the negotiations until we have Peter back home. We will, however, update you in any details we can. I think that’s it, so we can go ahead to questions.”

“What kind of proof of life did you obtain?”

“Tony Stark was able to speak to Peter for a handful of minutes.”

“What did they talk about?”

“I don’t believe that’s relevant, so I’ll choose not to answer it. Next?”

“Is Tony Stark really going to make a deal with these people?”

“At the moment, all Mister Stark wants is to bring Peter home, safe and sound. He’s willing to do everything in his power to achieve this.”

“Even if it means cooperating with criminals?”

“Often, cooperation is the only way to ensure the safety of kidnapping victims. As I said before, we have a plethora of experts working alongside Stark to advise him in his decisions.”

“Have Peter’s captors made a ransom request?”

“We are beginning to work out those details.”

“Do they want money?”

“We are confident that that will be a major factor in their demands.”

“How much?”

“Those details will remain confidential.”

“Did Peter give any details about his condition when he spoke to Stark?”

“He is… holding up.”

“What about his physical condition?”

“That’s another detail that we’re not willing to discuss. And I think that’s all the time we have for questions. Thank you all for your cooperation. The NYPD will continue to release information as we find it appropriate to do so.”

 

11:15

A woman dressed in workout gear stands in a gym beside a man wearing similar attire. The man is tall and obviously fit. Both are wearing mics and have battery packs clipped to their waistbands.

The woman speaks first.

“Welcome back. We’re here with Mike Butler. Mike works for a company that offers K&R insurance. You do K&R training for these companies’ clients, am I correct?”

The man nods. He looks imposing. “Yes, I do.”

“That must be an interesting job. So you’re familiar with the kind of training Peter Parker would have gone through when Tony Stark put him through his own K&R program?”

“I am.”

“What exactly does that kind of training entail?”

“Well, there’s a lot of practical instruction. We teach our clients how to avoid being kidnapping in the first place: paying attention to your surroundings, how to set up a reliable security team, what to do in the case you’re being followed. After we’ve covered that, we go into what to do if you’re actually kidnapped. A lot of that instruction is done in a simulation. We teach clients how to pick handcuffs and break zipties. However, we focus less on escape and more on survival. We teach clients how to get through the beginning of their abduction, which is the most dangerous point. We walk them through what to do if they’re drugged, how to relate to their captors, what to say and what not to say. Tony Stark himself would have gone through both direct K&R training as well as a course in how to handle reporting and negotiating a kidnapping as a third person.”

“There’s a lot that goes into this, isn’t there?”

“There is.”

“Is it common for kids Peter’s age to go through this sort of training? It sounds intense.”

“It usually is, but I’ve done training for children as young as six. And after looking at the leaked SI insurance documents, I doubt Peter’s training was as intense as some others.”

“And why is that?”

“SI listed Peter’s K&R instructor as Tony Stark with assistance from Happy Hogan, one of Stark’s most trusted bodyguards and SI’s former head of security. If Stark is as fond of the kid as everyone says, I doubt he’d have the heart to be as harsh with him as some instructors are with their clients.”

“Is that a good or a bad thing for Peter?”

“In my professional opinion, it’s not great. One of the most important things we teach our clients is how to stay calm under pressure. If Stark didn’t give Peter the chance to develop those skills, he was likely in for a rough ride at the beginning of his abduction.”

“Alright, well, make sure to stay tuned. Mark is going to show me and all of you at home some self-defense techniques to employ in case you ever find yourself being abducted right after the break.”

 

13:00

Pepper Potts stands behind her podium. Despite his recent appearances, Colonel Rhodes is absent. Besides her, the stage is empty.

“We’re all very relieved this afternoon.” Despite her words, there’s a hint of irony to Pepper’s tone. “As you heard earlier, Tony got the chance to speak with Peter briefly this morning. It was our first proof of life, and it was very sorely needed. Tony and May are also pleased that Peter’s captors are finally willing to discuss negotiations. While the coming days will no doubt be full of hard decisions, we’re all looking forward to a more productive stress than the kind we’ve been experiencing since Peter’s abduction.

“I do have a quick announcement from Tony. He would like me to request that the photographers around the Parkers’ apartment disperse. If necessary, he will have NYPD officers forcibly remove everyone from the premises, but he would prefer to avoid that. Are there any questions?”

“Yes, hello. Is Mister Stark willing to pay the ransom costs?”

“He’s willing to employ any resource necessary to bring Peter home.”

“Where is Tony? Is he ever going to make a public appearance?”

“I don’t think I can impress upon you the amount of stress he’s currently under. As you were informed of earlier, Peter’s captors have requested that he handles all of the negotiations. That is a lot of responsibility, especially considering how important Peter is to all of us. At the moment, he’s chosen to stay away from the public eye. I’ve supported him in that decision wholeheartedly.”

“Do you not resent him for pushing all of this onto you, though?”

“I am the CEO of Stark Industries. It’s my responsibility to handle events such as these.”

“I didn’t mean as a CEO. I meant as his fiance.”

Pepper blanches briefly. “As his fiance , I am happy to do whatever I can to support him through what has been one of the most challenging periods his life. I can assure you that I would much rather run press conferences than hold the life of a teenager in my hands.”

“Is Peter alright?”

There’s a dryness to Pepper’s tone. “He’s a sixteen-year-old boy who’s been held hostage by strangers for a week. I think it’s safe for you to assume that he is very far from alright.”

“But how about physically? Have they hurt him?”

Pepper’s breath hitches briefly before she schools her facade back into passivity. “I’ve been advised by the NYPD not to reveal any details about Peter’s condition.”

“Do you have any idea when Peter might get to come home?”

“I have no concrete details, but I can assure you that Tony is working as hard as he can to make it soon. If he could have him home tonight, he would.”

Chapter Text

7:00

A news anchor in a suit sits behind a desk. He adjusts his tie nervously before beginning.

“Good morning, everyone. We start off this hour with a quick report on Tony Stark and the Peter Parker case. Around 3:40 this morning, Iron Man was seen landing outside of the NYPD headquarters. Bystanders report that the suit opened to reveal a frazzled Tony Stark in just sweatpants and a tank top. Multiple reports confirm that he was only inside for a handful of minutes before he stormed out and flew the suit back to Stark Tower. At this moment, it is unclear what inspired this impromptu outburst. We will inform you if the NYPD or Stark Industries respond to our requests for comment.”

 

9:20

Two female news anchors sit across from each other at a table. They look grim. The one on the right speaks first.

“Welcome back. Just over an hour ago, we received a video of Peter Parker from an anonymous source. We’ve edited these clips to make them suitable for our viewers, but they still depict graphic images of a minor in distress. If you believe the following content may disturb you, please step away from your TV now.”

The video switches suddenly. Peter Parker is tied to a metal chair in a dark room. It looks like there is a single source of light somewhere above his head. His face is a mess of bruising and there is crusted blood on his mouth, nose, and chin. He stares at the camera defiantly, but his eyes are afraid.

The longer the image is up, the sicker Peter seems. His face is gaunt, cheeks hollow. He looks far too skinny for someone who has only been missing for a little over a week. If you watch closely, you can see him shivering.

A disembodied voice comes from behind the camera. It’s American and male. Otherwise, it’s hard for an untrained ear to detect any other demographics.

“We’ve got quite the audience today, Peter. Aren’t you excited?”

Peter says nothing.

“He’s got a touch of stage fright, poor thing.” There’s a scrape behind the microphone. The source is impossible to identify. “I suppose I should give our audience a little context. You see, we talked to Tony Stark yesterday: the man who said he’d do anything to get little Peter back, safe and sound. We gave him a list of simple demands, and he refused to comply. We aren’t exactly patient men, and that’s rather unfortunate for you, isn’t it, Peter?”

Peter takes a deep breath but continues his silence.

Another voice, also male but this time British, joins the first. “We warned you we’d do something worse if you didn’t comply with our demands, Stark. Now the whole world’s about to have a nice little taste of poor Peter’s plight. If our other videos didn’t knock ya into cooperation, maybe this will.”

The video jumps, obviously edited by the news stations. When it cuts back, Peter’s head is hanging forward limply. There are no obvious marks on his body, but his chest is heaving and his shoulders quiver.

Somebody is standing by the chair, but their head is cut off by the top of the video’s frame. A hand reaches down and wrenches Peter’s head up by his hair. There are new tear tracks on his face and his facade of bravery is broken. He looks frightened. He looks like a child.

The British voice cuts in. “How do you feel now, Stark? You wrapped him up, kept him tucked into your chest, squirreled him away from the real world, but you couldn’t protect him from this.”

The American speaks. From the way the audio comes through, it seems as though this is the man forcing Peter’s head up. “This time, we control the narrative. Oh, and if you don’t agree to all of our demands by tomorrow night, we’ll give the media another inside scoop. Your choice, Stark. Be sure it’s the right one.”

The video cuts to black.

 

12:56

The video starts off with a black screen. It has a small title hovering in the top left-hand corner.

PeterParkerLeak_FullVideo01

The picture kicks in. It is a little grainy, but the feed never flickers or blips. Peter Parker is strapped to a metal chair. It is the same scene shown on the news earlier, although the video quality is slightly worse. The news stations must have touched up the clips before airing them.

“We’ve got quite the audience today, Peter. Aren’t you excited?”

Silence.

“He’s got a touch of stage fright, poor thing.” The scrape. “I suppose I should give our audience a little context. You see, we talked to Tony Stark yesterday: the man who said he’d do anything to get little Peter back, safe and sound. We gave him a list of simple demands, and he refused to comply. We aren’t exactly patient men, and that’s rather unfortunate for you, isn’t it, Peter?”

More silence. It is the same sequence as before.

“We warned you we’d do something worse if you didn’t comply with our demands, Stark. Now the whole world’s about to have a nice little taste of poor Peter’s plight. If our other videos didn’t knock ya into cooperation, maybe this will.”

A figure moves to Peter’s side, head cut off by the top of the video’s frame. Peter flinches at the movement but doesn’t have time to do anything else before the figure backhands him across the face, hard. A second later, before Peter can even recover from the blow, the man pulls a stun gun from inside his jacket and jams it into the back of the teenager’s shoulder.

Peter’s body seizes. For the first few seconds, he maintains his stubborn silence. Then, he lets out a strangled moan followed by a full-out sob. His arms and legs jerks against their restraints, but the collage of rope and duct tape holds steady. After about 10 seconds, the figure’s hand pulls away and Peter’s body collapses forward, head lolling.

The figure’s voice is laced with laughter. It’s clear now that he’s the American. “Think he’s had enough?”

The British voice chuckles. “Not until he’s begged, I’d say.”

The stun gun jams into Peter’s side. He jolts. This time, he lets out a loud grunt as soon as the voltage starts.

10 more seconds pass. Peter sobs and gasps and heaves his way through them.

He never once screams.

The electricity stops. Peter slumps. The figure’s free hand reaches out and wrenches Peter’s head up with a fistful of his greasy curls.

“Do you want us to stop?”

Peter just shakes his head breathlessly. He’s openly crying, but refuses to give in.

The hand lets go. Peter’s head doesn’t even have time to drop forward before the stun gun is back against his side.

10 more seconds.

The torture ends, and Peter talks for the first time. The words are jerky, as if they were involuntary reactions to the pain.

“Please. Please.”

The figure’s head is still out of frame, but his voice is full of sadistic joy. “What did you say, little one? Speak up now. We want Stark to hear.”

“Please. Please stop. Please.”

“Well, you asked so nicely.”

The figure chucks the stun gun somewhere off-screen. Peter’s shoulders shake with silent sobs, but it is unclear whether they are from pain or shame. The hand that had been holding the stun gun reaches down and yanks Peter’s head back up. Peter doesn’t even try to hide the fact that he’s sobbing.

“How do you feel now, Stark? You wrapped him up, kept him tucked into your chest, squirreled him away from the real world, but you couldn’t protect him from this.”

“This time, we control the narrative. Oh, and if you don’t agree to all of our demands by tomorrow night, we’ll give the media another inside scoop. Your choice, Stark. Be sure it’s the right one.”

The video cuts to black.

 

18:30

Pepper Potts is back behind the podium. Colonel Rhodes stands off to the side by the stage door, shoulders tense. Pepper’s posture is much the same.

“Good evening. I know this is rather late, but a lot has happened today, and it took us some time to organize ourselves.” Pepper glances towards Rhodey, then back to the crowd. “Tony would like to speak to you all.” The room erupts in a rush of whispers. “And before he comes out, I want to ask all of you to understand that he is under a significant amount of stress. Please be considerate of that when we get to questions.”

Pepper makes a gesture to Rhodey, who is still standing resolutely by the door. He opens it just a crack and says something. A moment later, Tony Stark himself walks out.

He is wearing a three-piece suit, hair carefully styled. Every inch of him is dressed as the billionaire he is. His face, however, is tired and withdrawn. His hands clench and unclench impulsively at his sides. There is a wildness to his gaze. It darts and bounces across the room without seeming to land on any one thing.

Pepper lays a gentle hand on the back of Tony’s as he joins her at the podium.

“Well, let’s just get this shit over with.” Tony sniffs, lips pursing. His expression is borderline manic. “Not sure what else I can offer that those bastards didn’t already. In fact, I’ve got fuck all to tell you that you haven’t already seen for yourselves. So, no, I’m not here to tell. I’m here to ask. Is this what all of you wanted? You’ve been scrambling for every scrap of this story for days now, and this morning you woke up to a feast. You got the chance to put graphic images of a child being mocked and manhandled and tortured all over the front page. Are you happy now? Is this every bit as exciting as you thought it would be? Is there a single one of you who watched that video and felt your stomach turn, or did you not see a kid living through hell, just your newest fucking headline?”

There’s a hush of silence.

Pepper squeezes Tony’s wrist. “Do you want to take questions, Tony?”

“Sure, why the fuck not? C’mon. All of you. You flock around this like you’re little kids and it’s Christmas. Ask away.”

The first reporter’s voice quivers with nerves. “Was that… that video taken today?”

Tony’s face twists up in agony. Pepper answers for him. “We think so.”

The next reporter sounds surprisingly solid. “Mister Stark, why did you decide to break your silence now?”

“Great question. Like I said, I’m really just out here to tell all of you to fuck off. Each and every one of you should be ashamed of yourselves. This is a child you’re exploiting. He’s scared, and alone, and in pain, and you’re crawling all over his suffering like a swarm of maggots. Show some fucking humanity.”

Pepper jumps in as soon as Tony pauses for breath. “The fact that so many news stations chose to publish the videos of Peter this morning, edited or not, is highly disturbing. SI is seriously investigating taking legal action against those channels that aired the images. Peter is, after all, a minor, and the clips showed him in a highly vulnerable position. Tony is angry. So am I, for that matter. This entire ordeal will be difficult enough for Peter to recover from without those photographs and videos being posted on every social media network under the sun. The purpose of this press conference is to inform the public of our intentions to pursue legal action, and to request that any further content involving Peter that may end up in the hands of any member of the media or public immediately be turned in to the NYPD and not be shared with anyone. Are there any other questions?”

“Yes, I’ve been meaning to ask this of Mister Stark since this whole thing began. Why was Peter Parker even allowed to walk alone to school that day? Were you not aware of the danger he was in, considering his relationship with you?”

Pepper once again speaks before Tony can. “Peter wanted to maintain as normal a life as possible. We supported him in that decision.”

“Even if it came at the cost of his own safety?”

Tony grabs the stem of the mic in a white-knuckled grip. “Not that I owe you an explanation, but I tried to make him agree to have a driver take him and pick him up every day. I was ready to give him his own security team, bodyguards, continuous surveillance. He told me he wanted to keep doing what he’s always done. Do you have a teenager?”

“No, sir.”

“Then don’t fucking lecture me about raising one. Anybody here know what’s supposed to be one of the most vital components to the emotional well-being of a kid Peter’s age?”

There’s silence.

“It’s routine. Normalcy. A sense of security. I don’t think a single person in this room has ever tried to maintain that shit for a teenager who got thrust into the public eye because of a stupid fucking hack. Peter was just a kid, and then all of you decided he was your newest plaything.” Tony’s voice starts to break. “I just… I just wanted to let him be normal.

Pepper clears her throat. “Like Tony said, we made the decision that we thought was best. We’ll be heavily reevaluating the security surrounding Peter as soon as we get him back. This will not happen again.”

“Do you regret allowing Peter to make your YouTube channel?”

Tony clenches his fist. “No.”

“Even after what’s happened?”

“Peter loves that stupid channel, and I love watching him love something. No, I don’t regret it.”

“Have you seen the full video? Of… of what they did to him?”

Pepper puts a steadying hand on Tony’s shoulder as he speaks. “Yes.”

“They said you refused to meet their demands, and that’s why they did it. Is that true?”

For the first time since stepping onto the stage, Tony looks lost. He trips over his own words. “I-they… they asked for something… something I didn’t think I could give them. Even if-even if I wanted to.”

“Then what are you going to do?”

“Something. I’ll… I’ll get him back. I will.”

Pepper squeezes his bicep lightly. “We’re already working on a new approach. We will get Peter back. These things are… complicated. Sometimes negotiations can go back and forth for quite some time before both parties are entirely satisfied.”

“But they’re torturing him. Surely you can’t be alright with waiting when they’re torturing him?”

Pepper’s voice is deceptively calm. “We’re doing everything we can as quickly as we can. At the moment, that’s all we’re willing to say.”

“What will you do if you don’t get Peter back? If something goes wrong?”

Tony works his jaw back and forth. “Kill someone, I imagine.”

Pepper’s gaze snaps to him. Her hiss is just barely audible. “Tony.

“It’s true. I won’t regret it, either. I’ll fucking enjoy it.”

“Mister Stark, have you considered consulting with a psychiatrist or mental health expert?”

Pepper’s voice is hard. “People say things they don’t mean when they’re under as much stress as Tony is. I assure you, he doesn’t actually plan to kill anyone. All he wants is to get Peter back.”

Tony’s head drops forward until his face is obscured. His voice is barely audible. “I-I just want him to come home. That’s all I want. That’s… that’s the only outcome I’ll allow.”

 

21:00

A female news anchor stands behind a shiny, circular desk. She has both of her hands braced against the smooth surface.

“Hello, and welcome to the nightly news. Our first story of the night concerns yet another strange development regarding Tony Stark. About half an hour ago, the Iron Patriot, formerly known as War Machine, was seen landing on the roof of Stark Tower. A nearby construction worker claims he saw Colonel James Rhodes emerge from the armor and sprint to the roof entrance, where he was greeted by a reportedly frantic Happy Hogan. A few minutes after both men disappeared into the building, the suit remotely flew itself into a side entrance. Neither the Iron Patriot nor Colonel Rhodes has been seen since.”

Chapter Text

8:00

A reporter stands outside of Stark Tower in the early morning sun. She holds a microphone and has her fingers pressed firmly to an earpiece. After a moment, she drops her hand, adjusts her hold on the microphone, and smiles brightly into the camera.

“Good morning. I’m live at Stark Tower, reporting on a rather peculiar set of events. As you know, Colonel James Rhodes was seen rushing into the Tower late last night. Earlier this morning, a helicopter landed on the roof and delivered none other than Helen Cho, renowned geneticist and one of Tony Stark’s personal doctors. She, as well as her small med team, were met by Pepper Potts, who guided them quickly into the building.

“It is unclear exactly what prompted both Colonel Rhodes and Helen Cho to make such hurried visits to the Tower, but there has been a wide range of speculation on the topic. We’ve reached out to Stark Industries and U-GIN for comment, but have yet to receive a response.”

 

10:00

STARK INDUSTRIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 14
NO TITLE

The Stark Industries PR office has received a number of requests for comment concerning the activity surrounding Mr. Stark’s personal penthouse in Stark Tower both yesterday night and this morning.

Stark Industries does not comment on Mr. Stark’s personal affairs. The events of the past 24 hours are private matters that concern only him and his family. We ask that they are given respect and space as they continue to cope with Mr. Parker’s disappearance and the resulting complications.

More information will be released should Mr. Stark and his family think it necessary.

 

14:00

The NYPD police chief pauses once on his way to the podium to have a quick exchange with another officer. Once he gets to his usual position, however, the press conference continues as usual.

“Good afternoon. Concerning the Peter Parker case: we have been in contact with Peter’s captors as of this morning, and negotiations are proceeding as smoothly as can be expected considering recent developments. We also received further confirmation that Peter is alive and relatively coherent. This was a great relief for Peter’s family as well as the officers that have been working so diligently on the case. We now have significant hope that we may have finally found a path that leads to getting him home. However, these sorts of negotiations are never certain, so we are continuing to operate while implementing every precaution. Now, I’ll go to some questions.”

“Do you have any comment on the videos published by a variety of media outlets yesterday?”

“We have a team studying their content in an attempt to obtain as much information from the clips as we can. We’re also using these videos to gauge Peter Parker’s condition. Otherwise, we have no comment on their release.”

“What about the legality of those videos leaking?”

“The NYPD has turned the legal aspects over to Stark Industries and, more specifically, the jurisdiction of Pepper Potts and Tony Stark. I have no doubt that they will proceed as necessary.”

“Has Tony Stark chosen to give Peter’s captors what they want? The thing they were torturing him over yesterday?”

“That’s not something I feel comfortable discussing while the negotiations are still in progress.”

“Do you know anything about the situation over at Stark Tower?”

“It has nothing to do with the case, so I won’t be answering questions regarding it.”

“Is Peter badly hurt?”

“He’s conscious and able to communicate. That gives us a great deal of optimism for his recovery.”

“When do you think you’ll be able to bring him home?”

“We don’t like to put time frames on these sorts of things. However, everyone working on the case is eager to bring it to a close as quickly as possible. All we want is to return Peter to his family.”

 

16:00

Pepper Potts steps onto the press stage and walks briskly to the podium. There is something tight and clipped about her manner, even more so than usual. She hesitates for a long time before finally speaking.

“As you know, Peter’s alive. Tony and May both had a chance to speak with him this morning. He’s shaken, but he’s holding steady. The negotiations are proceeding as well as can be expected. The NYPD hostage experts feel as though we’re beginning to reach a more productive point in the discussions. Despite the horror of yesterday, we’re tentatively hopeful. Being able to talk with Peter has done wonders for everyone’s morale.

“On a less pleasant note, I have a message from Tony. He wants every news station that aired the footage of Peter yesterday to issue apologies and remove the content from their websites if they want a chance at avoiding a lawsuit. He also asked me to inform all of you that he does not give second chances freely when it comes to the people he cares about. If we have a repeat of yesterday, there will be no hope of avoiding legal repercussions. And he will not settle.” Pepper swallows. “Alright. I know you have questions, so I’ll take those now.”

“Why are you giving us a message from Tony when he was happy to do it himself yesterday?”

“Tony’s resting.”

“Why does he need to rest? He was well enough to talk to Peter this morning, wasn’t he?”

“Yesterday was very challenging for him. I don’t imagine any of you have experienced the emotional and physical weights that negotiating for your child’s life can place on your shoulders, but I do imagine that you can find it within yourselves to sympathize with what he’s going through. As to him being well enough to speak to Peter, I think you’ll find that there’s nothing in the universe that could stop Tony from speaking to Peter when given the chance, especially considering the circumstances.”

“Does his need to rest today have anything to do with why Colonel Rhodes came to the Tower last night and why Doctor Helen Cho arrived this morning?”

Pepper’s fingers tighten around the side of the podium. “I don’t think that the people Tony chooses to surround himself with is any concern of the press.”

“It’s just that it seemed as though Colonel Rhodes was in a big hurry when he arrived last night, and it’s natural to wonder if something is wrong when a doctor arrives.”

There’s a strange stiffness to Pepper’s voice. “Rhodey is Tony’s best friend, and anyone who finds themselves close with Tony at the moment is bound to be in a hurry. There’s a lot to get done before we can bring Peter home. Cho is also a very close friend. It will be important to have her on call in the coming days, especially if our negotiations succeed. That’s all I’m willing to say on the matter of last night.”

“So you plan to treat Peter in a private medical facility?”

“Should Peter need any medical treatment, he will receive it in the Tower, yes. We’ve already discussed it with May.”

“Is that safe?”

“We employ a highly skilled team of doctors and nurses. Peter will have the absolute highest level of care in a state-of-the-art facility. On top of this, keeping him in the Tower will make it much easier to keep him safe from prying eyes. Tony has high expectations for Peter’s safety in the future, and I have every plan to help and encourage our security team to meet them.”

“Do you think he’ll need a lot of medical care?”

“At this point, it’s impossible to tell. But... we’re preparing for the worst.”

The next reporter’s voice is hesitant. “Will you please tell Mister Stark that I’m praying for him and Peter?”

Pepper’s eyes soften. “I will, but I can already tell you that he’s very grateful.”

 

18:00

WHIH WORLD NEWS
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 14
A STATEMENT OF APOLOGY CONCERNING THE PETER PARKER FOOTAGE

On June 13th, our channel made the decision to air images taken from a video of Peter Parker being tortured. While we did not publish the entirety of the clips, the selections we chose were still graphic displays of a minor in distress. This was a major error in our station’s judgment, as well as a departure from the strong morals on which our company was founded.

We would like to offer an apology to any viewers who found themselves uncomfortable due to our mistake. We thank you for reaching out to us through social media to inform us of the magnitude of our error.

We understand that while we can remove the footage from our website and social media platforms, we cannot erase the distress it caused those closest to Mr. Parker. Everyone at WHiH World News offers their sincerest apologies and condolences to Tony Stark, May Parker, and the rest of Peter Parker’s family and friends.

Finally, we offer a direct apology to Peter Parker himself. Everyone in our company has been praying for your safe return. We hope that our lapse in judgment does not interfere with your ability to recover from this frightening ordeal once you find yourself safely back home.

Chapter Text

11:24

The screen flickers black, then green, then cuts to a view of two reporters sitting at a desk. They look a little rushed but are otherwise composed.

The one on the left nods briskly at his cameraman before speaking. “Hello. We interrupt your scheduled programming with a breaking news report. An inside source has just informed us that Tony Stark is set to make the exchange for Peter Parker within the next few hours. The location and exact time are still being kept tightly under wraps, but we’ll be sure to keep you updated on every development as soon as they become available to us.”

 

12:56

A female reporter stands beside a news van. Behind her, police officers are scrambling to put up a barricade around a rusted warehouse. Other journalists and photographers jump in and out of frame as they rush to do their own reports.

“I’m reporting to you live outside of a warehouse in Brooklyn, where it has been confirmed that Tony Stark retrieved Peter Parker from his kidnappers just a little over an hour ago. The criminals were long gone by the time the media arrived, but there are multiple reports suggesting that Tony Stark and Peter Parker are still inside the building. As of this moment, the NYPD is on the scene but has refused to respond to any requests for comment.”

 

13:17

The same reporter stands in the same place. She is almost breathless with enthusiasm.

“Welcome back. I have another breaking news report for you. We now have confirmation that Peter Parker is inside the warehouse, which you can see just behind me. Officers working with the NYPD just spoke with us and requested that a path is cleared so that a private ambulance from Stark Tower can get through. We’ve also overheard a group of officers discussing the best strategy for moving the teenager.”

 

13:25

The usual reporter has shifted just slightly. The warehouse is still clearly visible, but the van she had been standing in front of previously has been moved, presumably to make room for the non-descript ambulance now parked just behind the police blockade.

“We’ve heard murmurings that Helen Cho and her team are in that ambulance, but nobody has entered or exited the vehicle since it parked about a minute ago. An officer did speak to the driver through the window, but their identity was unclear. We’re just h-ah, wait… here’s something.”

The camera pulls away from the reporter’s face and zooms in on the ambulance. The back doors open and Helen Cho steps out. Multiple journalists immediately start shouting for comment, but she doesn’t even give them a second glance. An awaiting NYPD officer swiftly escorts her to the warehouse’s entrance, where she disappears.

The camera refocuses on the reporter once it’s clear that no other movement is likely in the immediate future.

“Well, I suppose we’re now certain that it was Helen Cho in that ambulance. While she seemed eager to get away from our cameras, she didn’t seem to believe the situation inside the warehouse warranted an emergency reaction. That’s either very good or very bad news for young Peter Parker. We’ll be sure to update you at the first sign of further activity.”

 

13:31

The reporter looks excited. Her voice is louder than before and her words run together in her haste to get them out.

“We’ve just received a request to be quiet, and Doctor Cho’s medical team has opened up the doors of the ambulance. The NYPD has also increased their security on the blockade. We assume this is all in preparation of Peter Parker’s transfer. There’s-wait, Nick, the door’s opening, quick-”

The door to the warehouse swings open, and the camera rushes to zoom in and focus. A police officer is the first to step out. After speaking briefly with another officer, he pushes his head back inside the warehouse. He emerges a moment later, presumably after speaking to someone inside, and holds the door open for Helen Cho, who glances around and makes a beckoning motion to someone still hidden inside. Then, Tony Stark walks out.

The camera pans closer. The man is carrying something in his arms. As he takes a step further into the light, it becomes clear that the bundle clutched protectively to his chest is a person.

“Oh, my. Nick, that’s Peter Parker, isn’t it? The person Tony Stark is carrying?”

The cameraman’s voice is laced with concentration. “Must be.”

Tony Stark is wearing jeans and a simple navy t-shirt. It is a level of casualness that he usually reserves for YouTube videos, not public appearances. Peter Parker is wearing a pair of tattered jeans and what was once a light blue shirt. Now, however, it is soiled with dirt and blood. His clothes hang off his too-small frame. The top of his limp curls are visible, but his face is tucked securely into Tony’s neck.

Tony’s body is crouched forward strangely, and he turns his back to the crowd of reporters on his next step. At first, it looks like he’s struggling to support Peter’s weight.

The reporter’s voice is soft. In fact, there is little background noise. The atmosphere seems to have been stunned into a respectful silence. “What’s he doing?”

The cameraman matches his partner’s tone. “I think he’s shielding him. From the cameras.”

“Oh, yes. He must be.”

Tony stops suddenly and shifts Peter in his arms. He glances over to Cho, who is a few steps ahead of him, and says something. She nods and immediately moves back to his side, taking his arm and guiding him as he takes sideways steps toward the ambulance. They are careful but quick. It is clear that both Cho and Tony want Peter hidden from view as quickly as possible.

Once Tony reaches the ambulance, he has to turn towards the cameras briefly to safely climb inside. Peter’s face is still buried in the crook of Tony’s neck and his hands are clenched tightly in the fabric of the man’s shirt. Even from afar, Tony oozes gentle concern. His lips move, eyes darting down to Peter, and the teenager’s head nods minutely. Then, Cho helps steady Tony as steps into the ambulance and swiftly disappears from view. The doors slam shut behind them.

“Well,” the reporter’s voice is thin, “I… I suppose it’s now confirmed that Tony Stark was indeed with Peter Parker this whole time. We’ll, uh, we’ll update you as everything… progresses.”

 

14:17

A male reporter stands in front of Stark Tower. He’s wearing casual clothes but a professional smile.

“I’m reporting live with an update on the Peter Parker case. We’ve been told that the private ambulance taking Tony Stark and Peter Parker from the warehouse where the final negotiations took place to Stark Tower should be arriving any minute with its police escort. In fact,” the reporter points somewhere off-screen, “there it is now.”

The camera pans, and two police cars drive into the frame. A moment later, the ambulance follows. The police cars’ lights are on, but there are no sirens. Three more patrol cars follow directly behind the ambulance.

“It’s expected that the ambulance will go directly into one of Tony Stark’s private entrances. And, yes, that’s exactly what they’re doing.”

All but one of the lead police cars peel off. The remaining car drives into an entrance to a private garage, and the ambulance follows. A moment later, they vanish from sight.

 

15:00

CITY OF NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 16
ON PETER PARKER’S SAFE RETURN

At approximately 11:30 this morning, Tony Stark was able to finalize negotiations and retrieve Peter Parker from his kidnappers. Mr. Parker has since been brought back to Stark Tower, where he has been reunited with his family and is receiving any medical treatment he requires.

Everyone at the NYPD is delighted by his safe return. Many of our officers have dedicated the past few weeks of their lives solely to this case. This is a personal victory for them, and we thank them for their tireless dedication to bringing Mr. Parker home.

We will continue to work closely with Mr. Parker and Mr. Stark in the coming weeks. We will also begin utilizing resources to bring the criminals who put Mr. Parker and his family through such a horrific ordeal to justice.

Now, however, we join with Mr. Parker’s family in a moment of relief and celebration.

 

17:00

STARK INDUSTRIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 16
PETER PARKER

Peter is in stable condition. He is awake and surrounded by his family. He has explicitly asked that his gratitude be expressed to everyone who played a part in bringing him home and to everyone who continues to wish him well.

Mr. Stark’s previous decision to cancel all press appearances through August still stands and may be extended. He wants to spend these next few months with Peter and his loved ones.

Ms. Potts will also be scaling back on her schedule in the coming weeks for the same reasons as Mr. Stark. More details on these changes will become available soon.

Mr. Stark and Mrs. Parker offer their thanks to the NYPD for their role in bringing Peter back to them.

Finally, Mr. Stark would like to ask for privacy and understanding in the coming days, weeks, and months. Peter and everyone close to him has been through an incredibly traumatic event. While nobody who knows Peter has any doubt that he will recover, it is important that he is allowed to do so at his own pace and without the media analyzing his every move.

Mr. Stark expects this request to be honored, and he thanks everyone for doing so in advance.

Chapter Text

6:00

CITY OF NEW YORK POLICE DEPARTMENT
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 17
FURTHER INFORMATION ON PETER PARKER’S CONDITION AND AN UPDATE ON THE PURSUIT OF HIS KIDNAPPERS

The NYPD press office has received multiple requests for further information on Peter Parker’s condition and the circumstances surrounding his release. This statement is meant to address some of the public’s interests and concerns to the best of our current ability.

On the topic of Mr. Parker’s condition, we have obtained permission from Mrs. Parker and Mr. Stark to release certain details of his recovery to the general public. However, this information comes with a reminder that Mr. Parker and his family wish to take a step back from the media attention that has permeated their lives these past few months. Any further updates on Peter’s condition will come as they see fit to release them.

Mr. Parker is recovering well. He has been receiving fluids overnight and his vitals have continued to stabilize. He is conscious and alert. As of this morning, he was sleeping comfortably with Mrs. Parker and Mr. Stark at his side.

On the topic of Mr. Parker’s release, we are unwilling to publish any further details at this time.

The NYPD would like to assure the public that every measure is being taken to apprehend Mr. Parker’s kidnappers. While our experts do not believe that these men pose a threat to the general public, we have increased our number of on-duty officers and the frequency of patrols in high-risk areas. If you feel unsafe at any time, please contact emergency services.

 

8:00

A male news anchor sits in a studio, professional smile plastered on his face.

“Good morning. We start off the hour with a breaking news update involving the Peter Parker case. The NYPD has just a released a statement confirming that they have apprehended two suspects accused of kidnapping, torturing, and ransoming the YouTube star. As of this time, we are unsure as to what information brought about the arrests. Both the NYPD and Stark Industries have not responded to our requests for comment.”

 

9:00

The NYPD’s media briefing room is packed. The police chief brings a sheet of notes with him to the podium and checks them quickly before beginning.

“In regards to the Peter Parker case, we have two suspects in custody. We are confident that these individuals are indeed the men who kidnapped Mister Parker. However, officers will be visiting Stark Tower’s medical facilities this afternoon to see if Mister Parker can offer us a positive ID of the suspects. Are there any questions?”

“Do you have any new information on Peter Parker’s condition?”

“From now on, the release of any and all information regarding Mister Parker’s recovery will be controlled by Stark Industries.”

“Have you heard from Tony Stark since yesterday’s events?”

“We have been in contact with him a few times, yes. However, the majority of his attention has been focused on Mister Parker. While we have been collecting whatever information is necessary to further the investigation, our officers also respect that Mister Stark has his own priorities.”

“And these priorities are Peter?”

“Yes.”

“Has Peter given any details about what happened to him while he was being held?”

“We have yet to speak with Mister Parker. Our officers will obtain a full statement as soon as Tony Stark and SI’s team of medical professionals deem him physically and psychologically ready to do so. And, even then, it is important to note that the details of what Mister Parker endured during his captivity will not be publicized.”

“How did you manage to track the suspects?”

“That is confidential.”

“Do you believe that there were only two men involved?”

“Our officers are hoping to confirm this during their conversation with Peter later today, but we have no reason to believe that anyone else played a role.”

“When will the hearing be?”

“We’ll release that information as soon as the State is ready to press charges.”

“So the case will be managed by the New York courts? Not the Federal?”

“Yes. As far as we are currently aware, Mister Parker’s kidnappers never transported him over state lines. That leaves the case within New York’s legal jurisdiction.”

“So you’re going to take Peter’s statement this afternoon?”

“We’ll take a preliminary statement from him this afternoon, but, as I’ve said before, we will refrain from a more in-depth conversation until Mister Parker is well enough.”

“Do you have a timeframe on when charges may be pressed?”

“Soon, I’d say, although it’s difficult to pin these things down in certainties. This is a high profile case, however, and Mister Stark and the State are both eager to move it along as quickly as possible. The quicker the trial begins, the quicker Mister Parker can start living his life again.”

 

15:00

There is something different in Pepper Potts’ posture as she walks onto the stage. She is taller, more poised. Each step is taken with a power fueled from relief rather than burdened with emotional weight.

She stops behind the podium and smiles.

“We’re… so immensely relieved today. So, so relieved. Relieved, grateful, overjoyed. Peter’s home, he’s safe. I checked in with him before coming to do this press conference and he’s as resilient as ever. Both Tony and May are with him.

“This is the only thing we’ve wanted to weeks, and now we have it. It’s hard to think of anything else to say, really. Of course, we’d like to reiterate our thanks to the NYPD and SI’s private consultants for their tireless efforts to locate and rescue Peter. Everyone working on this case has been gone beyond their line of duty.

“Peter is flattered and a little overwhelmed by the public’s concern for his well being. He wanted me to let everyone know that he’s alright and that his recovery is going well so far.

“We’re also incredibly comforted by the news that the NYPD apprehended the men believed to be Peter’s kidnappers. Every single one of us feels a lot better knowing that they can’t come back to threaten Peter or anybody else.

“I’ll be willing to take a few questions now, although do forgive me if I seem a little eager to get back to Tony and Peter. I’ve missed both of them immensely over these past two weeks.”

“In a previous press conference, you mentioned that you’d be rolling out new security measures to keep Peter safe. Have you given these measures any further thought?”

“Now that Peter is home, that’s become one of our top priorities. We have a few ideas, and we’ve implemented a variety of expansive safety measures as Peter recuperates, but a lot of thought and professional consultation is still needed before we can make any long-term decisions.”

“Can you offer us any more details on Peter’s condition? How is he doing emotionally? This sort of thing is obviously going to leave an impact on his mental health.”

“I feel the need to remind all of you that Peter is not just a minor, but a human being entitled to privacy and security as he recovers. Furthermore, I am not one of Peter’s legal guardians. I won’t be releasing any information unless it has been previously cleared by both his guardians and Peter himself.”

“Did the NYPD officers meet with Peter already?”

“They did. Peter spoke with them for about an hour. They left just a few minutes before I came here. He’s very tired, now, but he’s a trooper.”

“Was Peter able to ID the suspects?”

“I’ll leave that information for the NYPD to disclose.”

“Will Tony and Peter be witnesses at the preliminary hearing?”

“As of this moment, no charges have been pressed. That means that we have no idea if a preliminary hearing will even be held, let alone when it will be and what roles Tony or Peter may have to play in the proceedings. We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Chapter Text

7:00

Two female news anchors, one blonde and one brunette, are sitting on a set of stools in front of a large screen. The brunette kicks off the show with a practiced smile.

“Happy Tuesday, everyone. We start off today’s news with yet another development in the neverending Peter Parker saga. The NYPD released a statement early this morning confirming that the initial charges against Peter Parker’s alleged kidnappers were submitted to the courts overnight. These charges include assault, coercion, criminal possession of a firearm, endangering the welfare of a child, unlawful imprisonment in the first degree, and kidnapping in the first degree. The men have been identified as 39-year-old Braxton Koch and 34-year-old William Welch. Braxton Koch worked as a journalist until a few months ago, when the newspaper he was working for was forced to shut down following a slander lawsuit from Stark Industries. William Welch immigrated to the United States from the United Kingdom eleven years ago to pursue a PhD in electrical engineering. Shortly after graduating, he was hired by Stark Industries as a member of their R&D department. About a year ago, however, it seems that his employment was terminated.

“The statement also announced that the preliminary hearing is scheduled for tomorrow. Both suspects are being held without bond. It is still unclear whether Tony Stark or Peter Parker will be present as witnesses.”

 

8:15

The same two news anchors sit in front of the same screen. The brunette starts.

“Good morning. We have another quick update on the Peter Parker trial. We’ve just received word that both Peter Parker and Tony Stark have been subpoenaed for tomorrow’s hearing. That means that we may get our very first public appearance from their pair since before the kidnapping. We’ll be sure to keep you in the loop on any new announcements.”

 

11:32

Tony Stark
@therealtonystark

he wanted to give you all proof that he’s alive and well

[The tweet’s text is accompanied by a photo of Peter Parker. He’s sitting up in a hospital bed, grinning widely and shooting the camera a double thumbs up. The gesture makes the IV in the back of his left hand clearly visible. He looks thinner than before, and there are fading bruises on nearly every inch of his skin, but the happiness on his face is genuine.]

 

13:30

A news anchor shuffles a set of papers on their desk, a serious look on their face. In all honesty, they seem to be taking their job way too seriously.

“Hello, everyone. Over the break, we heard some more news on the Peter Parker trial. Apparently, Doctor Helen Cho, Peter Parker’s attending physician, informed the courts that he was not yet in good enough physical condition to take to the witness stand. After hearing this, the court has decided to postpone the hearing until Peter is well enough to attend. It is unclear when this may be, but as of now, the preliminary hearing will not be held tomorrow.”

 

15:30

A woman sits in a plush red armchair. Across from her, a man in a lab coat occupies a matching seat. The woman smiles amidst a background of applause.

“Hello, hello. Thank you, and welcome back to the show. We’re joined now by Dr. Abraham Cameron, a child and teen psychologist who specializes in trauma. He’s here to speak to us about his take on Peter Parker’s chances at psychological and emotional recovery. Thank you for being here, Dr. Cameron.”

“It’s a pleasure.”

“Now, a lot of people have been wondering about the emotional repercussions of Peter Parker’s captivity. Can you tell us a little bit more about what those may be?”

“Sure. See, being forcibly detained and held captive violates a lot of our basic human needs, such as a sense of security and independence. When our basic needs are compromised like this, especially in a way that was as sudden and as violent as Peter Parker experienced, we struggle with trusting that these needs won’t be infringed upon again. A lot of survivors of kidnappings have problems with constantly feeling unsafe, for one. It’s difficult to turn off the survival instincts once they’ve been triggered. Your mind and body are constantly waiting for a second assault.”

“Will having Peter’s kidnappers in custody help with this at all?”

“It can, but the only real way to tackle the trauma will be with intensive therapy, support, and time.”

“So Tony Stark, as well as Peter Parker’s other friends and family, will play an important role in his emotional recovery?”

“For sure. In fact, they’ll be vital. Recovery isn’t a solo journey. The victim must be at the helm, but they also need to be surrounded by people who make them feel safe and loved. In my experience, patients with a strong network of family and friends do the best after traumatic events.”

“You said that Peter may struggle with feeling unsafe. Is there anything else he may experience, especially considering his age?”

“Certainly. A lot of victims battle with feelings of insignificance and guilt following an abduction. Peter Parker was, after all, overpowered and held captive for two full weeks. During this time, he was unable to escape. In the end, Tony Stark had to physically carry him to safety. That’s a huge blow to the ego of anyone, let alone a teenager who is in the middle of creating his own sense of independence. It will doubtlessly be a major hindrance to his emotional development in that sense.”

“What do you think are Peter’s chances of walking away from this without some form of PTSD?”

“Zero. No one could leave a two week kidnapping without developing post-traumatic stress. It’s also important to remember that Peter Parker wasn’t just held in a cell for those two weeks: he was tortured. That violation of physical safety in and of itself is enough to leave a pretty substantial mental scar. Peter’s brain isn’t even done maturing yet. It will doubtlessly be a handicap that he carries with him for the rest of his life.”

“And you think the only way for him to recover is to go through therapy?”

“There’s no other way. Luckily, Tony Stark can afford to hire the best. If Peter Parker wants help, I’m sure he’ll get it before he can even finish asking.”

 

18:00

A reporter stands outside of Stark Tower. It’s rainy and dark. They’re illuminated by just a street light.

“Good evening. I’m reporting live outside of Stark Tower, with yet another update on the ever-unfolding Peter Parker trial. It appears that the preliminary hearing for the two men accused of the kidnapping is back on for tomorrow morning. Inside sources claim that Tony Stark spent all afternoon convincing the courts to leave Peter out of the proceedings for as long as possible, citing the negative effects that testifying could have on his physical and psychological health. In the end, they came to the agreement that while Peter will be expected to testify should the case go to trial, he will not be expected to attend the preliminary hearing. NYPD officers visited Peter this afternoon to obtain a full statement which will be used as a substitute for his physical testimony tomorrow, and Tony Stark will still be expected to take the stand. We’ll be providing live coverage outside of the courthouse throughout tomorrow, so be sure to tune in for the latest updates.”

Chapter Text

7:00

A reporter stands outside of a courthouse. Her hair is pulled back in a too-tight bun and she’s wearing a navy blazer over a crisp white shirt. Despite the early hour, she looks sharp and precise.

“Good morning. I’m Maya Sloan, reporting to you live from the courthouse that is about to become a centerpoint for history. Today, it will host the preliminary hearing for the Peter Parker case, the most widely covered kidnapping of the century. While Peter Parker himself will stay back at Stark Tower, still recovering from the physical toll of his captivity, Tony Stark should be arriving within the next hour to give his testimony on the events. We’ll be sure to update you when he arrives.”

 

8:28

The same reporter still stands in front of the courthouse. Behind her, a sleek black car has just pulled up to the curb.

“It’s only two minutes before the trial is scheduled to start, and Tony Stark appears to be subscribing to the concept of fashionably late. His former bodyguard and long-time friend, Happy Hogan, just exited the driver’s side of the vehicle. Now, we’re just waiting for Stark himself to put in an appear-oh, there we go. Finally.”

Sure enough, Happy Hogan pulls open one of the car’s back doors, and Tony Stark himself slips out. He’s wearing a three piece suit, dark sunglasses firmly over his eyes. He turns his head to regard the gathered media almost lazily.

There’s something less wound about his posture now. In fact, he seems at ease in the sea of cameras. He lets Happy lead the way towards the courthouse doors, but spins around to flip a sarcastic middle finger towards the crowd before stepping into the building.

“Well,” the camera refocuses on the reporter as soon as Tony disappears from view, “as always, Tony Stark retains his usual level of humor, I see. Now, all that’s left to do is wait for the judge’s decision. So, I guess it’s time to send you all back to Jennie and Tyler in the studio while we settle down for the long haul. Jennie?”

 

11:47

The reporter from before is still at the courthouse. It is unclear if she’s moved in the more than three hours since her last broadcast. Somehow, she still looks just as put together as she did in the early morning.

“We’ve just received word from one of our correspondents inside the courthouse that the judge has found probable cause in the evidence for the two accused indeed being guilty of kidnapping and ransoming Peter Parker. This means that the case will develop into a full criminal trial. While the news isn’t much of a surprise, we have no doubt that it’s a relief for Tony Stark and everyone else involved in the proceedings. We’ll be waiting outside to see if we can get a comment from Mister Stark as he leaves, so stay tuned.”

 

12:18

The camera is zoomed in on the entrance to the courthouse. In the background, the familiar reporter’s voice is slightly rushed with excitement.

“We’ve just heard that Tony Stark should be leaving any minute, and that he’s going to stop to speak briefly with the press. He’s-yes, there he is…”

Happy Hogan pushes open the door and holds it as Tony Stark steps out. He looks just as polished as he did when he walked in, as if his testimony didn’t bother him in the slightest. He saunters down the steps and stops in front of the press with his usual arrogant swagger.

“Hello, hello.” The shouts of reporters quiet as he speaks. “Nice setup you all have out here. Hey, is that jacket designer?”

“Mister Stark, how do you feel about the judge’s decision?”

“Well, I certainly enjoyed watching those monsters get pushed ever closer to justice.”

“So you do believe that they’re the men who kidnapped Peter?”

“Obviously.”

“You spoke with them on the phone, right? Is that what leads you to be so sure?”

“That, and because Peter identified them.”

“And you trust his word?”

Tony tears off his sunglasses and eyes the reporter dangerously. “I trust Peter’s word more than the word of anyone else in the world. What are you implying? That he lied?”

“I-no, of course not. Just that fear can warp memories.”

“Not Peter’s. He would never point the finger unless he was sure. He’s a good kid like that.”

“Mister Stark! How is Peter?”

“Fucking chipper. If he doesn’t stop asking for a Big Mac, I’m going to lose my mind. Anything actually pertinent?”

“Are you going to press a civil suit in Peter’s name?”

“We’re not sure yet. I’ll keep you posted. Or I won’t. We’ll see.”

“Did the judge set a court date?”

“July 8th. Jesus, what kind of shit reporters are you?”

“Will Peter be well enough to testify by then?”

“I assume so.”

“So he will be testifying?”

“That’s how trials work.”

“How do you feel about that?”

“I’ve been reliably informed that my feelings don’t particularly matter when it comes to a court of law. How I feel about it isn’t going to change the fact that it’s going to happen. My job at this point is to minimize the damage.”

“Are you ever going to let Peter leave the Tower?”

“Jesus. Let’s get him walking on his own first, yeah? Alright, well, if that’s all…”

Tony nods to Happy, who has been loitering just behind him, and the man jumps into action clearing a path through the reporters. Tony follows him without another word, slipping silently into the back of the car and slamming the door with just a little more force than is strictly necessary.

“Well,” the camera focuses back in on the reporter’s face as the car pulls away, “you’ve just heard from Tony Stark following the preliminary hearing in the Peter Parker case. We’ll be sure to keep you updated on any new developments. Back to the studio.”

 

14:00

STARK INDUSTRIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JUNE 19
ON THE PETER PARKER COURT CASE

Everyone at Stark Industries is thrilled with the results of the preliminary hearing. While we are aware that there is still a long road to justice, this early victory was sorely needed and hard won.

As of now, Peter Parker, Tony Stark, May Parker, Virginia Potts, Colonel James Rhodes, and Happy Hogan have all been called to testify for the prosecution. We are sure that more details and more witnesses will emerge in the next month.

Stark Industries and all of its associates plan to cooperate fully with all authority as the trial moves forward.

 

20:03

Peter Parker
@peterparker01

so I think the next video might be a little delayed, you guys…

 

20:04

Tony Stark
@therealtonystark

@peterparker01 you are not funny.

 

20:05

Peter Parker
@peterparker01

@therealtonystark shut up I’m hilarious… you just don’t have a sense of humor…

 

20:05

Tony Stark
@therealtonystark

@peterparker01 stop Twittering at me and go to sleep

 

20:06

Peter Parker
@peterparker01

@therealtonystark omg you did not just say “Twittering” I’m…

 

20:06

Tony Stark
@therealtonystark

@peterparker01 sleep, Parker, now.

Chapter Text

7:00

The same news reporter from the preliminary hearing stands in front of the same courthouse. This time, her hair is in a severe ponytail. She appears to be wearing a gray pantsuit.

“Good morning. Almost a month later, and we’re back to covering the Peter Parker trial as it finally kicks off here in the center of New York City. The official start time is 8:30, but we’re expecting Peter Parker and Tony Stark to arrive sometime around 8:00, so stay tuned.”

 

8:01

The camera zooms past the reporter and onto a sleek black Audi. It stops at the curb, and Happy Hogan climbs out of the driver’s seat. The reporters around the car clear as he walks through them. He seems to have an aura that makes them scatter. He checks that he has a clear path to the courthouse twice before opening the back door and letting the occupants out.

Tony Stark slides into view first. He’s dressed similarly to the preliminary hearing, but where that suit was black, this one is a dark gray. He adjusts his tie briefly, surveying the swarm of reporters critically, before stepping aside and allowing Peter Parker to climb out after him.

Peter’s suit looks brand new. It’s a simple and black: a classic. His hair is curly and hanging down in his eyes. He immediately shies away from the reporters and towards Tony, shoulders hunching with nervousness.

Tony wraps a protective arm around his back and guides the teenager up the courthouse steps, following right behind Happy. Tony seems as though he wants to get Peter away from the chaos as quickly as possible. Within a few seconds since the duo first appeared, they’re being ushered through a door and out of sight.

 

13:25

A male news anchor stands beside a large screen. He gestures dramatically as he talks.

“We have a quick video taken from inside the Peter Parker trial to show you. This clip was taken during a break from the opening statements, and shows a rather endearing moment between the world’s favorite father-son duo.”

A video pops up on the screen beside the news anchor. It seems to be taken with a cell phone. Tony and Peter are sitting a few rows ahead of the videographer, at the front of the courtroom. Their backs are to the camera.

Peter scoots closer to Tony and drops his head down onto the older man’s shoulder. Tony brings up a hand and pats the top of his head. After a few seconds, Peter pulls back and turns to face Tony, exposing half of his face to the camera. He says something, and Tony glances over at him with a smile.

Tony says something back, and Peter drops his head back with a laugh. They exchange a few more quiet words before the video cuts off.

The news anchor nods once as the video fades off the screen, and continues his report.

“Our correspondents from inside the courtroom report that Peter Parker has spent the majority of the opening statements glued to Tony Stark’s side, and that the man has been constantly reassuring the teenager throughout the process. While May Parker is not attending court today, it is believed that she may make her first appearance tomorrow. For now, it seems that Peter must look to Stark for comfort and support.”

 

17:38

The reporter from the early morning is still stationed outside of the courthouse.

“Good evening, and welcome back to our live coverage of the Peter Parker trial. Happy Hogan just brought the car around and disappeared back inside the courthouse, so we’re expecting an appearance from Tony Stark and Peter Parker very soon.”

As if on cue, the courthouse door opens and Happy Hogan ushers his charges outside. Tony pushes Peter forward, jaw set tight. There is none of his previous humor or cheek. When they reach the car, he keeps a careful hand on the top of Peter’s head as he pushes the teenager inside. He has a quick exchange with Happy before disappearing himself.

The camera pulls away once its two subjects have both slipped out of view. The reporter waits until she’s back in frame to speak.

“As you can see, Tony Stark is eager to keep Peter Parker as far away from the media as possible. This is just a continuation of the trend we’ve seen from him in the past few months. Both Peter and Tony have been relatively absent from the public eye. The last update to their YouTube channel was back in May, before the kidnapping, and fans of their videos might have a long time to wait until they can see their favorite duo back in action. Anyway, that’s all from the courthouse for today. We’ll be back here tomorrow, bright and early, to cover the second day of the trial. Back to the studio.”

 

19:00

Two news anchors, one female and one male, are sitting at a round desk.

“So,” the man starts, “today was the opening of the Peter Parker trial, and I feel like we have to start the show with that, since it’s currently trending at the top of nearly every social media platform on the planet.”

“Oh, absolutely. People all over the world are tuning in to the broadcasts of the trial. It’s really gotten people’s attention, hasn’t it, Mark?

“It certainly has. It’s not just the trial, either. People are fascinated by Tony Stark and his eccentricities. This trial feels like another chance to put those personality traits on exhibition.”

“It wasn’t just Tony Stark people were looking at today, either. It was our first time seeing Peter Parker outside of the Tower since his rescue as well. He’s looking very healthy, which was nice to see.”

“He did look good. You can tell Stark had that suit made for him specifically for the trial. Has anybody sourced the designer yet?”

“I haven’t heard anything about it, but I’d have guessed a Henry Ford if pushed.”

“I wouldn’t totally discount the possibility of a Marx.”

“Well, we’ll work on getting more information on that front later. Anyway, today was just the opening statements for the trial, but I’ve heard some rumors Tony Stark is set to take the witness stand tomorrow. Now that should be a ride. What do you think, Mark? Do you think he’ll be civil?”

“I think he’ll try. But at the end of the day, he’s still Tony Stark. We’re bound to have some entertaining transcripts, that’s for sure.”

The woman claps her hands together, delighted. “I’m sure we will. Make sure to check our website for those transcripts Mark mentioned. We’ll be posting them as soon as they’re released. Now, let’s move on to that horrific terrorist attack in Germany…”

Chapter Text

7:30

Our regular reporter is back. She’s a familiar face for the public at this point. Her hair is twisted up in her classic bun. She’s wearing a black turtleneck dress.

“Good morning. This is an exciting moment for everyone covering the Peter Parker trial, as today is the day that Tony Stark himself is set to take the witness stand. The judge has announced that the other witnesses will be barred from listening to testimonies, meaning that Peter Parker will not be allowed to be present during his mentor’s account, but the transcripts will be public and we’ll be releasing those on our website as soon as they become available to us.”

 

8:02

The camera is zoomed in on a black limousine. It’s a different car than the one that had been used the day before. Happy Hogan yanks open one of the two back doors and fixes the mass of reporters with a death glare that is entirely ignored. If anything, the shouts for comment only seem to grow.

Pepper Potts is the first to emerge this time. She’s wearing a light gray blouse and a black pencil skirt. She slips out of the vehicle with the grace of someone who is used to being photographed in all aspects of her life.

She waits beside the limousine while May Parker follows her out. May bumbled slightly more with the exit, but does a remarkable job considering the circumstances. She glances nervously at the photographers, rubbing her hands anxiously over the front of her dark red skirt, before Pepper gently takes her arm and leads her towards the courthouse.

Happy goes in front, unapologetically forcing his way through any reporters that attempt to block him, and delivers the two women safely through the double doors. As soon as they’re inside, he heads back to the car and opens the other set of back doors.

The noise level grows as Tony Stark steps out. It seems even crazier than yesterday, and the man seems tenser in response. He adjusts his jacket with a hard yank once he’s upright, fingers digging unforgivingly into the expensive fabric.

Peter Parker pops out of the car beside him. He’s wearing what appears to be the exact same suit as the day before. He’s skittish, eyes sweeping over the gathered reporters and face pale. Tony takes his elbow and all but hauls the teenager up the steps before Happy can even make a move to take the lead. Everyone parts in front of him without further prompting. There’s something about his demeanor that frightens away challenge.

The door slams shut behind them, and there’s a sudden rush of quiet.

The camera’s feed goes dark.

 

8:42

[PETER PARKER TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS // JULY 9 // DAY 2 // TONY STARK TESTIMONY]

JUDGE: Good morning, everyone. Sorry for the late start, but there were a few logistical things to sort out before we could begin. Alright. Let’s let the record reflect that the defendants are present before the court with their counsel, Mr. Hardin, Mr. Morris, and Mrs. Bryant. The People are represented by Mrs. Blackwell, Mrs. Barajas, and Mr. Sutton. I’d like to start testimony at this time. Is the prosecution prepared to call their first witness?

BLACKWELL: We are, Your Honor.

JUDGE: And are the rest of the witnesses sequestered in separate rooms?

BLACKWELL: They are, Your Honor.

JUDGE: Then please proceed.

BLACKWELL: The People call Tony Stark to the stand.

[Tony STARK walks to the front of the courtroom. He stops in front of the witness stand.]

JUDGE: Please face the clerk and raise your right hand.

[STARK does so.]

CLERK: Do you solemnly state, under penalty of perjury, that the evidence that you shall give in this matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

STARK: I do.

CLERK: Please take your seat.

[STARK sits at the witness stand.]

CLERK: Would you please state and spell your name for the record?

STARK: Tony Stark. T-o-n-y S-t-a-r-k.

CLERK: Thank you. [To BLACKWELL] You may now inquire.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION BEGINS]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Good morning, Sir.

STARK: Good morning.

BLACKWELL: What is your profession, Mr. Stark?

STARK: I’m an inventor and businessman. I own Stark Industries, although I spend most of my time in R&D rather than management. Apparently I’m a YouTuber now, too. Not really sure when that happened, but… Oh, yeah, and I’m a superhero in my spare time. Saved the world a bit, nothing crazy.

BLACKWELL: Can you offer the court a recount of your educational background?

STARK: I have undergraduate degrees in Electrical Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, and Physics. I have a PhD in Electrical Engineering. They’re all from MIT.

BLACKWELL: Thank you. What is your relation to the victim, Mr. Parker?

STARK: He’s my intern, and I’m one of his two legal guardians.

BLACKWELL: And how long have you had legal guardianship over Mr. Parker?

STARK: We filed the paperwork at the end of November last year.

BLACKWELL: And how long have you known Mr. Parker?

STARK: A little over 2 years.

BLACKWELL: Would you say that you know Mr. Parker well, then?

STARK: Very well.

BLACKWELL: Now, I would like to discuss the day of Mr. Parker’s abduction. Is that alright?

STARK: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Perfect. Let’s start with the basics. When was the last time you saw Mr. Parker, before the kidnapping?

STARK: The day before, so June 4th.

BLACKWELL: And what were the circumstances of your interactions?

STARK: I picked him up from school at 3:45. I brought him back to my penthouse in the Tower. He had a snack, and we worked in my lab until about 9:00. Then he went home.

BLACKWELL: Was it usual for Mr. Parker to work with you in the lab?

STARK: Yes. We do that a lot.

BLACKWELL: Do you know how Mr. Parker went home that night?

STARK: I assigned my old bodyguard, Happy Hogan, to manage Peter’s security. He drove him back to his apartment.

BLACKWELL: And that was the last interaction you had with Mr. Parker before his kidnapping, correct?

DEFENSE: Objection, Your Honor. Leading question.

JUDGE: Sustained. Please restate your question, Mrs. Blackwell.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Was this the last time you saw Mr. Parker before the kidnapping?

STARK: Yes, it was.

BLACKWELL: How did you discover that Mr. Parker was missing?

STARK: I got a call from his aunt, May, sometime before 8:30 the next day. She told me that Peter hadn’t shown up for his first class. Peter isn’t the kind to skip school, so that was an immediate red flag.

BLACKWELL: What did you do after Mrs. Parker contacted you?

STARK: We called him, obviously, but he didn’t pick up. After that, we went to the NYPD to file a missing persons report.

BLACKWELL: When did you discover that Mr. Parker had been kidnapped?

STARK: Later that day. An officer working on the case told us that they’d found a van with Peter’s… with Peter’s blood in it. There was an empty syringe that showed traces of strong sedatives, too. That’s when we knew for sure.

BLACKWELL: Did you receive contact from Mr. Parker’s kidnappers?

STARK: I did.

BLACKWELL: When did this contact first occur?

STARK: The first day. I think the call came in around 2:00 in the afternoon, although I’m sure the NYPD’s case records could give you an exact time if you needed it.

BLACKWELL: Did all of your contact with Mr. Parker’s kidnappers come via the phone?

STARK: No.

BLACKWELL: What other mediums were used?

STARK: I received pictures and videos of Peter through my email, and I had one face-to-face interaction during the final exchange.

BLACKWELL: We’ll get to the face-to-face interaction later. For now, can you give an approximate of how many times you engaged with Mr. Parker’s captors over the phone?

STARK: About six or seven times.

BLACKWELL: How many people did you speak with during these phones calls?

STARK: Two.

BLACKWELL: Only two? Are you sure?

STARK: Yes. I’m sure.

BLACKWELL: Would you be willing to describe these voices to us?

DEFENSE: Objection, Your Honor. Mr. Stark has no background that qualifies him to give linguistic profiles.

PROSECUTION: Your Honor, Mr. Stark is entirely capable of deducing basic demographics from speech. He does not need a specific qualification to do so.

JUDGE: Objection overruled. The witness may answer.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Go ahead, Mr. Stark. Would you be willing to describe the voices?

STARK: I would be.

BLACKWELL: Were they male?

STARK: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Could you give any indication of accents?

STARK: One speaker was American. The other sounded British. I don’t think I could tell you much else.

BLACKWELL: That’s alright, Mr. Stark. Now, have you heard the suspects speak?

STARK: I have.

BLACKWELL: And did their voices sound familiar?

STARK: They did.

BLACKWELL: How so?

STARK: The suspects sound exactly like the men I spoke to on the phone.

DEFENSE: Objection, Your Honor. This is speculation.

JUDGE: Overruled. Continue, Mrs. Blackwell.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Were you the only one to interact with Mr. Parker’s kidnappers?

STARK: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Did they give a reason for the kidnapping in your discussions?

STARK: They did.

BLACKWELL: And what was this reason?

STARK: They wanted a ransom.

BLACKWELL: May I inquire about what exactly Mr. Parker’s kidnappers demanded in exchange for his safe return?

STARK: 2 million dollars and a variety of schematic for weapons and other technology, including the Iron Man suits.

BLACKWELL: Did you agree to these demands immediately?

STARK: No. I… I knew what those plans could do in the wrong hands. I felt a responsibility to keep them safe.

BLACKWELL: Was it at this point that Mr. Parker’s kidnappers began physically harming him?

STARK: I… I believe so.

BLACKWELL: And at this point, did you agree to the demands?

STARK: I did.

BLACKWELL: And were you the one to facilitate the ransom exchange for Mr. Parker?

STARK: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Where did this exchange take place?

STARK: A warehouse in Brooklyn. I don’t remember the address.

BLACKWELL: That’s alright. Were you alone during the exchange?

STARK: Yes.

BLACKWELL: How many men came to the exchange?

STARK: Two.

BLACKWELL: Did they speak to you?

STARK: They did.

BLACKWELL: Would you be willing to describe these voices to us as well?

STARK: I would.

BLACKWELL: Were they male?

STARK: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Could you describe their accents?

STARK: One was American and one was British.

BLACKWELL: Did these voices some similar to the ones you heard over the phone?

STARK: Yes. I’m certain they were the same men.

BLACKWELL: And could you give us an approximate of their heights?

STARK: The American was about 6’, and the Brit was probably 6’1”.

BLACKWELL: Did they bring Mr. Parker?

STARK: They did.

BLACKWELL: Did they leave once they had received their ransom demands?

STARK: They did.

BLACKWELL: I have no further questions, Your Honor.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION ENDS]
[CROSS EXAMINATION BEGINS]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Good morning.

STARK: Morning.

HARDIN: Well, let’s get right to the point, shall we?

STARK: Yes, let’s.

HARDIN: So, Mr. Stark-

STARK: It’s Dr. Stark, actually.

HARDIN: Of course. I apologize, Sir.

STARK: Mhm.

HARDIN: Alright, well, Dr. Stark, I’d like to begin with your recollections of the ransom negotiations. Is that alright?

STARK: Why wouldn’t it be?

JUDGE: Mr. Stark, do I need to remind you of proper court conduct?

STARK: ...No.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Now, if the witness will allow me to continue, I’d like to inquire about the events of June 16th. Could you describe the faces of the men that took part in the ransom exchange?

STARK: They were wearing masks.

HARDIN: So you did not see their faces?

STARK: ...No.

HARDIN: So there is no way for you to confirm that my clients were indeed the men you had dealings with in that warehouse?

STARK: Peter saw their faces.

HARDIN: I did not ask about Peter, Dr. Stark. I asked about you.

STARK: ...I couldn’t confirm it by their faces, no. But as I said before, their voices sound the same, and I talked to them a good bit at the time.

HARDIN: Are you a linguist, Dr. Stark?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. This is an irrelevant question.

HARDIN: Dr. Stark and the defense were the ones who brought up identification through voices, Your Honor. I would simply like to confirm what credentials he may have in this area.

JUDGE: The Prosecution’s objection is upheld. The witness has already stated his profession and education, Mr. Hardin.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Of course, Your Honor. I’d like to move on to a different topic. Did you play in a role in the apprehension of my clients?

STARK: Could you clarify what you mean by role?

HARDIN: The NYPD’s case records state that they were able to trace my clients through a GPS tracker planted in a USB drive. Did you play a role in planting this device?

STARK: Yes, I did. It was my tracker and my USB drive.

HARDIN: Why did you do this?

STARK: They took my fucking kid. Why do you think I did it?

JUDGE: Mr. Stark, I understand that this is an emotional topic for you, but I have to ask that you keep your vulgarity to a minimum.

STARK: Fine.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Would you be willing to explain how this device works to the court?

STARK: It’s just a GPS tracker. It was triggered the moment anyone tried to access the files on the USB drive.

HARDIN: So the device did not record its location before the USB drive was used?

STARK: No. I didn’t have much time to put it together, and the tracker had to be small enough to not be noticed. It needed another device to boost the signal.

HARDIN: And you gave the USB stick with this GPS tracker to Mr. Parker’s kidnappers during the exchange?

STARK: I did.

HARDIN: Are you sure that you gave them the correct USB?

STARK: Am I su-yes, I’m pretty f-uh, yes, I’m sure. Do you think I’m an idiot?

HARDIN: Do you know the time between handing over the USB and the moment the tracker was triggered?

STARK: It was a little under 24 hours.

HARDIN: Does this not seem like ample time for the USB to change hands?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. This question calls for Mr. Stark to speculate.

HARDIN: It’s a simple question of logic, Your Honor.

JUDGE: Overruled. The witness should answer the question.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Well, Dr. Stark?

STARK: That USB had plans for weapons, the arc reactor, and the Iron Man suits on it. I can assure you that the time gap you mentioned is irrelevant. Nobody would part with that.

HARDIN: My clients’ case is not that Mr. Parker’s actual kidnappers parted with it willingly. They claim that they found it in a side alley, where it presumably must have fallen out of someone’s pockets. Was this USB small?

STARK: Yes.

HARDIN: Easily lost, then?

STARK: Not when it’s that valuable.

HARDIN: I see. Well, I think we can move onto another topic. Dr. Stark, how would you describe your relationship with Mr. Parker?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. This question is irrelevant to the case.

HARDIN: Your Honor, I am simply trying to give the jury a better grasp of the witness’ relationship with Mr. Parker. If you allow me to continue, you will see that this is a valid inquiry.

JUDGE: Objection overruled. Mr. Hardin, you may continue.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Thank you, Your Honor. Now, Dr. Stark, how would you describe your relationship with Mr. Parker?

STARK: He’s my intern. And, as I said before, I’m one of his legal guardians.

HARDIN: So would it be fair to say that you see Mr. Parker as family?

STARK: Don’t see what my person feelings have to do with a kid being kidnapped and tortured.

HARDIN: I assure that it is relevant. Please answer the question. Do you see Mr. Parker as family?

STARK: Yeah, fine, the kid means a lot to me. That isn’t exactly a secret. Why do you think those bastards took him in the first place?

JUDGE: Mr. Stark, must I remind you once again that you are giving testimony in a court of law?

STARK: This has nothing to do with-

JUDGE: Just answer the questions, Mr. Stark.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Dr. Stark, do you see your role in Peter’s life as a sort of father-figure?

STARK: You could say that.

PROSECUTION: Objection, Your Honor. I must agree with my witness and point out that this line of questioning is highly irrelevant.

DEFENSE: If you’d just allow me to continue, Your Honor.

JUDGE: You may continue, Mr. Hardin, but get to the point.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Thank you, Your Honor. So, Dr. Stark, do you see Peter Parker as your child?

STARK: He is legally my responsibility.

HARDIN: That doesn’t answer my question, Dr. Stark.

STARK: Doesn’t it?

HARDIN: No.

STARK: Maybe you should rephrase your question.

HARDIN: Perhaps I should. Tell me, Dr. Stark, do you feel a parental attachment to Mr. Parker? I would remind you that you’re under oath.

STARK: I’m technically one of his parents by law. What do you think?

JUDGE: Mr. Stark, do not make me warn you again.

STARK: Yes, fine, sorry.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Once again: do you feel a parental attachment to Mr. Parker?

STARK: Fine. Yes. I do. Jesus.

HARDIN: And would this attachment not affect your testimony? Would a parent not do anything to find justice for their child, even if their methods are misplaced?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. This is an incredibly vague and frankly irrelevant question.

JUDGE: Upheld. Mr. Hardin, please rephrase or move on.

HARDIN: I have no further questions, Your Honor.

[CROSS EXAMINATION ENDS]

JUDGE: Thank you, Mr. Hardin. Alright, we are going to take take a brief 20-minute recess. Mrs. Blackwell, is Mr. Parker still on site?

BLACKWELL: He is. And on that topic, Your Honor, the defense wished to ask for an accommodation before we recessed.

JUDGE: Go ahead.

BLACKWELL: While we are aware that you’d like to keep the witnesses sequestered while the court is open, we would like to request that May Parker and Tony Stark be allowed to rejoin him during recesses. This process is very stressful for him, Your Honor, and it’s only being multiplied by being separated from his support system.

JUDGE: Does the defense have any objections?

HARDIN: No, Your Honor.

JUDGE: Then I certainly don’t. God knows the child’s been through enough. Mr. Stark, please feel free to return to Mr. Parker’s side once we recess. All I ask is that you do not discuss the case or the proceedings so far.

STARK: Thank you, Your Honor. I wouldn’t bring it up anyway, he doesn’t need more stress.

JUDGE: Alright. Well, now that that’s settled, let’s break. We’ll reconvene in 20 minutes.

[The court recesses.]

 

18:01

The camera is zoomed in on the courthouse doors. They open, and Happy Hogan escorts both May Parker and Peter Parker outside. May keeps Peter in front of her, both hands braced on the teenager’s shoulders, and effectively wedges him between her and Happy as they push through the crowd. They slip into the limousine as quickly as possible.

Happy double checks that the doors are locked before jogging back up the courthouse steps. A moment later, Tony Stark and Pepper Potts appear. Tony approaches the congregated reporters with Pepper just a step behind.

“Hello,” the background quiets as everyone strains to hear the billionaire’s words, “how are we doing? Nice day, nice weather…”

“Mister Stark, is it true that you are one of Peter Parker’s legal guardians?”

“That or I just lied under oath. Cat’s out of the bag, I guess.”

“Do you still deny the rumors that Peter Parker is your biological child?”

“Wholly and completely. That kid doesn’t have a lick of my DNA. You can tell because he’s much nicer than me.”

“So why is it that you took on guardianship if Peter is not biologically yours?”

“Tactical reasons. Are there any actually interesting questions, or should I take my kid home?”

“Was it difficult to testify?”

“Nope. I love giving assholes what they deserve.”

“So you believe that the defendants will be convicted?”

“Absolutely. They’ll be going up against Peter’s puppy dog eyes. No jury can withstand them, you’ll see. Oh, and they’re guilty. That’s probably a good reason why they’ll lose, too.”

“You have no doubts?”

“Not a single one.” Tony claps his hands together. “Well, this has been fun. Nice to check in. Keep up the good work, or actually, don’t. I’d love it if you’d just fuck off, frankly.”

Pepper starts hauling Tony back towards the car before he can continue, lips pursed but eyes amused. Tony shoots the reporters a final, sarcastic wave before Happy unlocks the limousine’s door and Pepper shoves him inside.

Chapter Text

7:00

It’s the same reporter as always. She’s got a light blue blouse on today, hair in a bun.

“Good morning. Today is our fourth day covering the Peter Parker trial. Yesterday brought us testimonies from Helen Cho, Colonel James Rhodes, and Pepper Potts, but no appearances from Tony Stark or Peter Parker. It seems as though the two chose to stay home and relax in the wake of Stark’s earlier testimony. Today, however, we’re expecting an appearance from them both, as it’s rumored that the prosecution is finally ready to call Peter to the stand.

”If so, there’s no doubt that today is going to be the moment everyone following this case has been waiting for. Just what happened to the teenager during his nearly two weeks of captivity? By the end of the day, we may finally have those details.”

 

7:56

The video is focused in on a black limousine parked against the curb. Camera flashes reflect off of the shiny paint. Happy Hogan rounds the front of the car, shoulders tense. There’s something more anticipatory about the atmosphere today, as if everyone is holding their breath in a state of suspense.

May Parker slips out of the backseat first. The camera swings away from her almost instantly, however, as Peter Parker follows directly behind.

He looks strangely detached. He doesn’t flinch as the reporters’ shouts increase, only stands with his eyes fixed on the sidewalk and arms wrapped protectively around himself. The camera zooms closer, and it looks like he’s shaking.

As usual, Tony Stark isn’t far behind the teenager. He and May sandwich Peter in on both sides and quickly guide him up the steps.

Happy holds the door open, and the three disappear inside without another glance at the gathered reporters.

 

8:25

“Hello. We’ve cut back to the studio for a brief update on the Peter Parker trial. We’ve been hearing rumors since yesterday afternoon that Peter Parker himself will take the stand first thing this morning. A video from inside the courthouse has also surfaced on social media, and it shows a rather endearing scene between Peter and Tony Stark. Here it is…”

The screen cuts from an image of the news anchor to a grainy iPhone video. Peter Parker is sitting on a bench, presumably in the hallway just outside of the courtroom where the trial is taking place. His shoulders are tight and he bites nervously at his lip. He seems to be the picture of barely-contained anxiety. Tony Stark kneels in front of him, hands resting on his knees. The billionaire speaks slowly. Every once in a while, Peter nods or gives a single word reply. After almost half a minute of this, Tony reaches forward and cups the back of the teenager’s neck. Peter’s eyes close. His chest rises and falls with one large, steadying breath. After a second, Tony mouth seems to form a question. Peter responds with a determined nod.

The video ends. The news anchor is back on screen, adjusting his tie with a professional air.

“As usual, the pair cannot seem to make a single public appearance without stealing the world’s hearts. Alright, well, we’ll be sure to update you with any more insider details, and be sure to check our website as we release a selection of the trial transcripts throughout the day.”

 

8:48

[PETER PARKER TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS // JULY 11 // DAY 4 // PETER PARKER TESTIMONY PT. 1]

JUDGE: Good morning, counsel. Let’s get back on the record. Let the record reflect that the defendants are present before the court with their counsel, Mr. Hardin, Mr. Morris, and Mrs. Bryant. The People are represented by Mrs. Blackwell, Mrs. Barajas, and Mr. Sutton. The People may call their next witness.

BLACKWELL: The People call Peter Parker to the stand.

[Peter PARKER shuffles from his seat to stand shakily in front of the judge.]

JUDGE: Please face the clerk and raise your right hand.

[PARKER does so.]

CLERK: Do you solemnly state, under penalty of perjury, that the evidence that you shall give in this matter shall be the truth, the whole truth, and nothing but the truth?

PARKER: I do.

CLERK: Please take your seat.

[PARKER sits at the witness stand.]

CLERK: Would you please state and spell your name for the record?

PARKER: Uh, Peter Parker. P-E-T-E-R P-A-R-K-E-R.

CLERK: Thank you, Mr. Parker. [To BLACKWELL] You may now inquire.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION BEGINS]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Hello, Peter. Is it alright if I call you that?

PARKER: Uh, uh yeah. Yeah, that’s fine.

BLACKWELL: How are you feeling?

PARKER: I’m alright, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Alright. I’m going to start off very simply, okay? Can you tell me your age?

PARKER: I’m 16.

BLACKWELL: Are you a high school student?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And where do you attend high school?

PARKER: Uh, Midtown School of Science and Technology.

BLACKWELL: Do you live in the city, Peter?

PARKER: Yeah. I, uh, I live in Queens.

BLACKWELL: Do you have any profession outside of being a student?

PARKER: I, uh, I’m a YouTuber. And I have an internship with Stark Industries.

BLACKWELL: Do you run your YouTube channel alone?

PARKER: No. It’s for both me and Mr. Stark.

BLACKWELL: How many followers does your YouTube channel have?

PARKER: Uh, just a little over 50 million I think.

BLACKWELL: Would you consider yourself famous?

HARDIN: Objection, Your Honor. This is irrelevant.

BLACKWELL: Your Honor, I’m giving the jury background as to why the victim was targeted.

JUDGE: Overruled. Proceed, Mrs. Blackwell.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Your Honor. Peter, would you mind answering the previous question?

PARKER: Oh, uh, I mean, I guess so? It’s kinda weird to say it, but yeah.

BLACKWELL: And how is it that you know Tony Stark?

PARKER: He’s my… my mentor, I guess. And obviously we run that YouTube channel together.

BLACKWELL: Is he your legal guardian?

PARKER: Oh, that. Yeah, one of them. He and my Aunt May share it. They thought it would be smart to do that after my identity first leaked to the press.

BLACKWELL: So your relationship with Mr. Stark is a public one?

PARKER: I mean, parts of it. It’s private too. It’s… It’s not just for show, if that’s what you mean.

BLACKWELL: Of course not. Perhaps I should rephrase the question. Is your relationship with Tony Stark prominent in the media?

PARKER: Oh, yeah. Yeah, they’re always talking about it.

HARDIN: Objection, You Honor. I don’t see that how this line of questioning is relevant.

BLACKWELL: As I said before, You Honor, I’m providing context for the jury as to why Mr. Parker specifically would be a ransom target. His relationship with Tony Stark is a major contributing factor.

JUDGE: Overruled. Continue, Mrs. Blackwell.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: We’re going to talk about some of the events leading up to June 5th now, Peter. Is that alright? I’ll warn you before I start asking about anything too difficult.

PARKER: Yeah, that’s fine.

BLACKWELL: Did Tony Stark pick you up from school on June 4th?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: What did you do after that?

PARKER: We went back to the Tower. Um, I mean Stark Tower. Mr. Stark made me a sandwich and then we went to his workshop until I went home.

BLACKWELL: Do you know when you left? An approximate is fine.

PARKER: I think at about 9:00.

BLACKWELL: And who drove you?

PARKER: Mr. Happy. Or, uh, Happy Hogan. He’s, um, he’s in charge of my security and he drives me places a lot.

BLACKWELL: Where did you he take you?

PARKER: He dropped me off in front of my apartment building.

BLACKWELL: And did you go anywhere else that night?

PARKER: No.

BLACKWELL: Okay. I’m going to ask about the morning of June 5th now. Do you remember what time you woke up?

PARKER: I always get up for school at 6:30 so I can leave by 7:00.

BLACKWELL: And this was the routine you followed on June 5th?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Did you walk to school?

PARKER: I walk from my apartment to the train station. I, uh, I didn’t get there, though.

BLACKWELL: Did you notice anything strange during your walk?

PARKER: I noticed someone following me, but I thought I was just being paranoid. I mean, it’s not like I’m the only person walking to the train station at 7:00 in the morning, y’know?

BLACKWELL: And what happened between 7:20 and 7:25 on June 5th?

PARKER: I, uh, I was walking past an alley, and a guy jumped out and dragged me back into it with him. A-A van was parked near the back. A white van. The guy who had been tailing me ran in a second later. I-I fought them a little, but Mr. Stark had told me that they’d just hurt me if I did that, so I just… I just gave up. Then one of them injected something into my arm.

BLACKWELL: Did the injection render you unconscious?

PARKER: Mostly. But I was… I was still kinda awake.

BLACKWELL: May I approach the witness, Your Honor?

JUDGE: Go ahead.

[BLACKWELL brings a photograph up to the witness stand and sets it down in front of PARKER.]

BLACKWELL: I’m giving you a photograph of a van that was found abandoned on Staten Island. This van contained samples of both your DNA and fingerprints that matched prints taken from one of the defendants. Would you please study the photograph for a moment?

PARKER: Sure, yeah.

BLACKWELL: Is this the van you saw in the alley at the time of your abduction?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Thank you. Now, what can you recall, if anything, after you were given the sedatives?

HARDIN: Objection, Your Honor. Mrs. Blackwell never established that Mr. Parker was indeed dosed with sedatives, only that he was injected with something.

JUDGE: Overruled. The sedative nature of the injection is heavily implied. Please answer Mrs. Blackwell’s question, Mr. Parker.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

PARKER: I remember being lifted up and laid down on something hard. It kinda rumbled after a while, so I think I must’ve been in the van. Then it stopped, and I was carried again. I think they put me in the back of a car, because I remember the sound of the trunk closing over my head. I don’t really remember anything else for a while after that.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Peter. Now, how many men did you come in contact with during your abduction?

PARKER: Just two.

BLACKWELL: Did they speak to you?

PARKER: A lot, yeah.

BLACKWELL: Would you be able to describe their accents?

PARKER: One was… one was British and another was American.

BLACKWELL: Did you ever see their faces?

PARKER: Once, yeah. They-They didn’t think I was awake but I was.

BLACKWELL: And are these men in the room with us now?

PARKER: [almost inaudible] Yes.

JUDGE: Mr. Parker, I know this is difficult for you, but you’re going to have to speak up.

PARKER: I’m sorry, Your Honor.

JUDGE: It’s quite alright, son. Go on, Mrs. Blackwell.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Did you say that the men are in this room?

PARKER: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: Could you point to them?

PARKER: They’re-They’re right there.

[PARKER points to the defendants.]

BLACKWELL: Both of them?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Mr. Parker. That’s very helpful.

PARKER: [almost inaudible, stuttering] You’re welcome.

BLACKWELL: Would you like to take a break, Peter?

PARKER: Yes, please. Can I?

JUDGE: Of course. We’ll have a 20-minute recess. Mrs. Blackwell, can you escort Mr. Parker to the room where Mr. Stark and Mrs. Parker are waiting?

BLACKWELL: Absolutely, Your Honor.

JUDGE: We’ll reconvene in 20 minutes, once the witness has had some time to collect himself.

[The court recesses.]

[The court reconvenes.]

JUDGE: Alright. Let’s get right back to testimony, shall we? Mr. Parker, are you fine to continue?

PARKER: Yes, Sir. I-I mean, Your Honor.

JUDGE: Good. Would you please retake the witness stand?

[PARKER does so.]

JUDGE: You are reminded that you are still under oath. Alright, Mrs. Blackwell. You may continue.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Hello again, Peter. Are you feeling better?

PARKER: Much better, thank you.

BLACKWELL: Good. Now, I’m very sorry we have to do this, but I’m going to have to ask you about your treatment while you were being detained. Is that alright?

PARKER: Yeah, it’s okay.

BLACKWELL: Did your kidnappers hurt you?

PARKER: [quietly] Yes.

BLACKWELL: Could you describe to me how?

PARKER: They, uh, they hit me first. Just a little. When they first caught me, I mean. I-I fought back, so they hit me.

BLACKWELL: Did this violence ever escalate?

PARKER: Yeah. Not… not over the first few days. They mostly left me alone. They made me a makeshift cell out of a shipping container and left me be. But then I guess the negotiations weren’t going well so they started getting angry.

HARDIN: Objection, Your Honor. The witness is making conjecture.

JUDGE: Sustained. Mr. Parker, just try to stick to what you know for certain, alright?

PARKER: S-Sorry.

JUDGE: It’s perfectly alright, son. Please continue, Mrs. Blackwell.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: So they left you alone for those first few days?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And did the violence escalate after the initial days of calm?

PARKER: Yeah. They, uh, they wanted to take pictures for Mr. Stark. They hit me a lot the night before so that I’d be bruised when they took them the next morning.

BLACKWELL: Did they say why?

PARKER: They wanted to scare him into paying the ransom.

BLACKWELL: Was this the last time they harmed you?

PARKER: [quietly] No.

BLACKWELL: When was the next occasion?

PARKER: A day later.

BLACKWELL: And what did they do?

PARKER: They took a video of it this time. They, uh, they hit me. In the face. A-And then they said that they were… that they were gonna break my fingers.

BLACKWELL: Did they?

PARKER: No. [PARKER holds up his wrist, which is covered with a brace.] They broke my wrist instead.

BLACKWELL: Was that all they did on that day?

PARKER: They… They burned me with their cigarettes, too.

BLACKWELL: And was that everything for that day?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: And did they continue to hurt you in the following days?

PARKER: Yeah. They, uh, they did it again the next day. For another video for Mr. Stark.

BLACKWELL: What did they do for this video?

PARKER: They strangled me. With their, uh, with their hands. The-The American one did that. The British one took the video.

BLACKWELL: Did they strangle you until you were unconscious?

PARKER: Not the first few times.

BLACKWELL: They strangled you more than once?

PARKER: Yeah. Three times, I think? Maybe four. The last time I passed out, so I assume they stopped then.

BLACKWELL: Did they do anything else?

PARKER: They burned me with their cigarettes for that video, too. But mostly it was… it was the strangling. They kept laughing at me while I choked. They… They thought it was funny.

BLACKWELL: Were there any more videos after this one?

PARKER: Yeah. They did another one the next day. It was the last one.

BLACKWELL: And what happened?

PARKER: They used a taser. That’s the one that… that everyone saw.

BLACKWELL: And they said this was to frighten Mr. Stark into compliance?

PARKER: Yeah. They made me… they made me beg . It was… it was [stuttering] it was really bad. I-I don’t even remember begging but they… they showed me later and I did and I-

JUDGE: Mr. Parker, I think you should take a moment to breathe.

PARKER: I-I’m sorry. I…

BLACKWELL: Your Honor, I think we need to ask for another break.

HARDIN: Your Honor, we’ve already had to take one break during this testimony. Will it ever end?

JUDGE: I’m sorry, Mr. Hardin, do you have somewhere to be?

PARKER: [quietly] Sir?

JUDGE: Yes, son? Are you alright?

PARKER: [stuttering and breathless] I need… I need to…

BLACKWELL: Your Honor, I believe Mr. Parker is suffering from anxiety.

JUDGE: I can see that, Mrs. Blackwell. Can someone please fetch me Mr. Stark and Mrs. Parker from outside? Tell them what’s happening. It’s alright, son. You don’t have to move. We’re going to bring them to you.

PARKER: I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.

JUDGE: Nothing to be sorry about. Officer, could we please remove the defendants from the room? I think that may be beneficial. Thank you.

[The door to the courtroom opens. Tony STARK and May PARKER enter and move towards the witness stand. The two kneel on either side of Peter PARKER.]

JUDGE: We’ll have a brief recess now. I’ll call the court back in session once Mr. Parker has had a chance to relax.

[The court recesses.]

 

10:05

A news anchor sits behind a shiny metal desk. She has both hands splayed across its surface, nails painted bright red.

“We’re coming to you live with a video from inside the courtroom during the Peter Parker trial. The following clip was posted to social media only a few minutes ago, but it is already beginning to go viral. It shows Peter Parker experiencing what appears to be a panic attack while testifying. And, well, I think the video speaks for itself. Here it is...”

A video fills up the screen. It is taken at an awkward angle, but the view of Peter Parker is clear. An attorney in a dark gray suit is standing in front of him, slightly off to the left. Her voice rings out across the courtroom.

“And what happened?”

Peter fiddles nervously with his hands as he responds. “They used a taser. That’s the one that… that everyone saw.”

“And they said this was to frighten Mr. Stark into compliance?”

Something seems to break in Peter’s demeanor. His breathing picks up, and he grips the stem of the microphone so tightly that his knuckles go white. “Yeah. They made me… they made me beg . It was… it was... it w-was r-really bad. I-I don’t even re-remember b-begging but they… they showed me later and I-I d-did and I-”

The judge, who is just visible in the corner of the screen, leans forward and waves a hand to suggest that everyone should stop what they’re doing. “Mr. Parker, I think you should take a moment to breathe.”

Peter’s face is red. It is unclear if that is caused by embarrassment or fear. “I-I’m sorry. I…”

The attorney steps towards the witness stand. “Your Honor, I think we need to ask for another break.”

A voice from off-screen sounds. The camera doesn’t pan away from Peter. “Your Honor, we’ve already had to take one break during this testimony. Will it ever end?”

There is a flash of annoyance on the judge’s face. “I’m sorry, Mr. Hardin, do you have somewhere to be?”

It’s obviously a dismissal.

Peter looks up and speaks with a shaky, barely audible voice. “Sir?”

The judge’s gaze snaps back to Peter. “Yes, son? Are you alright?”

Peter sounds like he’s barely holding it together. “I need… I need to…”

“Your Honor, I believe Mr. Parker is suffering from anxiety.”

It looks as if the judge is physically refraining from rolling his eyes. “I can see that, Mrs. Blackwell.” He looks out to the courtroom. “Can someone please fetch me Mr. Stark and Mrs. Parker from outside? Tell them what’s happening.” He looks back to Peter. “It’s alright, son. You don’t have to move. We’re going to bring them to you.”

It’s unclear whether Peter is crying, as the video is panned out, but he certainly sounds like he might be. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry, I’m sorry.”

The judge shakes his head, voice kind. “Nothing to be sorry about. Officer, could we please remove the defendants from the room? I think that may be beneficial. Thank you.”

There’s a rush of commotion as a few officers step through the frame, assumedly to comply with the judge’s instructions, and Tony Stark and May Parker enter. They both make a beeline for the witness stand, and end up kneeling on either side of Peter.

The judge seems to relax once the two adults are at the teenager’s side. “We’ll have a brief recess now. I’ll call the court back in session once Mr. Parker has had a chance to relax.”

The room’s quiet lifts, and a cacophony of voices fill the video’s background. May Parker is rubbing Peter’s arm, and Tony seems to be speaking to him in urgent tones. After a moment, the older man reaches up to cup the side of Peter’s face.

The video cuts off, and the image of the news anchor refills the screen.

“It seems as though some of the questions asked during the direct examination became too much for the young YouTuber. Of course, I imagine that talking through your own torture might be a little overwhelming, to say the least. As of yet, the court has not yet reconvened.”

 

10:12

[PETER PARKER TRIAL TRANSCRIPTS // JULY 11 // DAY 4 // PETER PARKER TESTIMONY PT. 2]

[The court reconvenes.]

JUDGE: Alright. Welcome back, everyone. I’ve made the decision to grant an exception to my previous decision to exclude witnesses. Mr. Stark will be permitted to stay in the courtroom during the remainder of Mr. Parker’s testimony, as he has already given his own and neither counsel disclosed any current plans to recall him. Mrs. Parker has kindly agreed to stay excluded, as she has yet to take the stand. Now, I believe we’re ready to restart the direct examination. Mr. Parker, you’re reminded that you are still under oath. Mrs. Blackwell, feel free to continue.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MRS. BLACKWELL]

BLACKWELL: Are you alright to start again, Peter?

PARKER: Yes. Sorry about, uh, about before.

BLACKWELL: There’s nothing to be sorry about. I think we’ve heard quite enough about the last topic. However, I would like to ask you about some questions about the more benign aspects of your captivity. Do you think you’ll be able to answer those?

PARKER: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: Alright. Do you have an idea of how often you were fed?

PARKER: Just once a day, I think. And it wasn’t much. Just a plastic cup of water and a sandwich.

BLACKWELL: Do you have an idea of how much water was in the cup?

PARKER: It was like a Solo cup. It was probably filled a little over halfway.

BLACKWELL: And that was all you were given for the entire day?

PARKER: Yeah.

BLACKWELL: Did the warehouse have air conditioning?

PARKER: It did. It was… really cold, actually.

BLACKWELL: Were you given a jacket or blankets?

PARKER: No. The shipping container that acted as my cell was empty. I didn’t have a bed, either.

BLACKWELL: Was it cold enough to be uncomfortable?

PARKER: Definitely. I was, uh, I was treated for hypothermia once I got back to the Tower.

BLACKWELL: I’d like to talk about your rescue, now. Were you moved for the exchange?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Can you describe how that went?

PARKER: They, uh, they came into my cell pretty early in the morning, I think. They woke me up. They grabbed me, duct taped my hands together. Then they injected something into my arm. A sedative, I guess. It didn’t knock me out completely but I don’t think it was meant to, either. They dragged me to a car and put me in the trunk.

BLACKWELL: Did you see this car?

PARKER: I did, yeah.

BLACKWELL: Do you believe you could reliably tell us the make and model?

PARKER: Yeah, for sure.

BLACKWELL: Would you please recite that for the jury?

PARKER: It was a Chevy Cobalt.

BLACKWELL: Do you have an approximate of the year?

PARKER: It was old, but not, like, super old. Early 2000s, maybe?

BLACKWELL: May I approach the witness, Your Honor?

JUDGE: You may.

[BLACKWELL approaches the witness stand and hands Peter Parker another photograph.]

BLACKWELL: This is a photograph of a 2006 Chevy Cobalt belonging to one of the defendants. Does this look like the car you saw that day?

PARKER: Yes. I’d say it’s definitely the same one. I remember the dent in the back bumper.

BLACKWELL: Thank you, Peter. Now, I just have a few last questions for you. Do you have any reason to believe that more than two men were involved in your abduction?

PARKER: No.

BLACKWELL: And did you hear these men speak a lot?

PARKER: Oh, yeah. All the time.

BLACKWELL: Are you certain in your approximate of their accents?

PARKER: Completely.

BLACKWELL: One British and one American, am I correct?

PARKER: Yes.

BLACKWELL: Thank you very much, Peter. I have no further questions, Your Honor.

[DIRECT EXAMINATION ENDS]
[CROSS EXAMINATION BEGINS]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Good morning, Peter.

PARKER: Uh, hi. I mean, uh, good morning, sir.

HARDIN: Mrs. Blackwell previously inquired about your YouTube channel and the fame associated with that. Do you receive a lot of messages and such from fans?

PARKER: I mean, yeah.

HARDIN: Have you received any threats in the past?

PARKER: A couple, I think. Mr. Stark handles most of that, to be honest. I don’t think he likes me to see that sort of stuff.

HARDIN: If asked, do you believe that Mr. Stark could give the court a sampling of these messages?

PARKER: I-I don’t know. I’m sorry.

HARDIN: That’s alright. But you are aware that threats had been made in the past?

PARKER: Yeah. I mean, they’re kinda bound to start at some point, you know?

HARDIN: So there are likely a variety of people who would want to cause you harm?

PARKER: I don’t… I mean, I guess?

HARDIN: Tony Stark assigned you a private security guard. Do you think that implies that he was aware of the amount of people who may wish to do you harm?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. This question calls for Mr. Parker to speculate on Mr. Stark’s motivations.

JUDGE: Upheld. Mr. Parker, do not answer that question. Mr. Hardin, please select a different inquiry.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Of course, Your Honor. Now, Peter, I’d like to discuss the moment you believe you saw your captors’ faces. Did I hear you correctly when you said that you were supposed to be asleep?

PARKER: Yeah, I mean, they thought I was asleep, so...

HARDIN: Why did they believe you were asleep?

PARKER: They’d… they had drugged me.

HARDIN: So you were under the influence of sedatives when you saw these mens’ faces?

PARKER: They’d mostly worn off. I-I have a fast metabolism.

HARDIN: That doesn’t answer my question, Mr. Parker.

PARKER: I don’t… I don’t know… I don’t know what I’m supposed to say.

JUDGE: Just answer the question, Peter. It’s alright.

PARKER: I… yes. I’d been sedated.

HARDIN: And was the same true when you identified both the van and the car used to transport you?

PARKER: The car, yes, but not the van. I saw that when I walked into the alley, before they injected me.

HARDIN: But when you saw your captors’ faces, and when you saw the vehicle which you claim resembles one under the ownership of one of my clients, you were under the influence of sedatives?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. Asked and answered.

JUDGE: Sustained. Move on. Mr. Hardin.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: You were walking alone on the morning of your kidnapping, is that right?

PARKER: Yes.

HARDIN: That’s interesting. Did you not say earlier that you’ve come into a significant amount of fame since starting your YouTube channel?

PARKER: I mean, yeah.

HARDIN: How is it that you were able to walk alone in New York City?

PARKER: I walk with my hoodie up. Nobody really looks too closely. At least, they normally don’t. It’s not that big of a deal.

HARDIN: And did you state earlier that Mr. Stark was aware of threats made to you?

PARKER: I don’t think I did.

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor. Asked and answered. Also, Mr. Parker never said this.

HARDIN: I was simply looking for clarification, Your Honor.

JUDGE: Sustained. Change your line of questioning, Mr. Hardin.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: Do you know why you were allowed to go out without security?

PARKER: I didn’t want it. Mr. Stark offered it, and I said no.

HARDIN: Are you a minor, Peter?

PARKER: I… what?

HARDIN: Are you a minor?

PARKER: I, well, yes.

HARDIN: Is Mr. Stark one of your legal guardians?

PARKER: Yes, but I don’t-

HARDIN: Are you aware that this means that it is his duty to make decisions regarding your welfare?

PARKER: Well, yeah, but-

HARDIN: So do you at all feel as though he failed you in this regard?

BLACKWELL: Objection, Your Honor! Mr. Hardin is badgering my witness.

JUDGE: Sustained. Mr, Hardin, do not make me warn you again.

[CROSS EXAMINATION CONTINUES]
[BY MR. HARDIN]

HARDIN: I have no further questions, Your Honor.

 

15:43

The video is zoomed in on the entrance to the courthouse. Two NYPD officers are already hard at work clearing a path through the gathered press. A few seconds pass, and then the courthouse doors open. May Parker steps out, followed by Happy Hogan and then, finally, Tony Stark and Peter Parker.

At first, it’s difficult to identify Peter. His upper body and face are obscured by Tony’s jacket, which has been draped over his head. Tony keep an arm wrapped possessively around his back, guiding him slowly down the steps towards the curb. He murmurs something quietly to the teenager when they reach the car, maneuvering him into the backseat with gentle hands. May has disappeared already, assumedly into the car while the camera was zoomed in on Tony and Peter. Tony nods once to Happy before joining them and vanishing from sight.

 

23:36

Peter Parker
@peterparker01

further proof that tony stark has a heart

[The tweet’s text is accompanied by a photo of Peter Parker and Tony Stark. The two are curled up together on the couch, presumably asleep. Tony is half-propped up by the pillows, arms wrapped protectively around Peter, whose body is mostly coiled in the older man’s lap. Peter’s head is resting over Tony’s heart. The pair is still dressed in their trial suits, although their jackets have been slung over the back of the couch. The lighting is low and the image is peaceful.]

Chapter Text

7:30

By now, the sight of the usual reporter is almost boring. The trial coverage seems to be dragging on. Even she is beginning to look drained.

“Good morning, and welcome to what should be the final day of the Peter Parker trial. It’s been over a week since the proceedings began, and now we’re finally nearing a conclusion. The jury heard the closing arguments yesterday, and they are expected to decide on a verdict first thing this morning. We’ve also been receiving various reports that suggest that both Tony Stark and Peter Parker will be present. No doubt they’ll be glad to see the tail end of these terrible events.”

 

8:12

A silver Audi pulls up in front of the courthouse. Once again, Happy Hogan is the driver. He steps around the car and silently opens the back door. The mass of reporters all hush in anticipation.

Tony Stark appears, classic dark sunglasses in place. He’s exuding an air of stern confidence, as if he isn’t even vaguely concerned about the imminent verdict. Peter Parker slips out after him, immediately placing Tony between him and the cameras.

The two are wearing matching suits, even down to the colors of their ties: light blue. They only linger by the car for a moment before Tony guides Peter up the courthouse steps by pressing a palm against the small of his back.

Just as they reach the top, Peter pauses, turns back to the gathered press, and waves.

Tony drags him inside before anyone can react.

 

8:39

The regular reporter is still outside of the courthouse. In all honesty, it’s unclear whether or not she ever leaves. For all the viewers know, she’s set up a tent just outside the frame.

“Just a quick update before we send you back to the studio: we’ve received word that the judge has sent the jury to deliberate. It’s difficult to predict how long this stage may take. For some cases, juries decide on a verdict within minutes. For others, the decision can take hours or even days. Either way, we’ll be sure to keep you informed as these finals stages play out.”

 

9:06

The reporter is back. She has a spark of excitement in her eyes this time. It’s a nice change from her usual expression.

“We’ve just heard that the jury has already reached a verdict. The court is expected to reconvene in order to hear their decision within the next few minutes. As soon as we know the outcome, you will.”

 

9:16

It’s the same scene. The reporter has a wide smile on her face this time. She’s clutching her microphone tightly, as if her grip may impart some sort of enhanced strength to whatever it is she’s about to say.

“Welcome back. We now know the verdict of the Peter Parker case. The jury has convicted the defendants on all charges. The judge has called for a recess to ponder his decision when it comes to sentencing, but he anticipates that he’ll be ready to announce that decision within the next few hours.

“One of our correspondents within the courtroom gave us a quick account of Peter Parker and Tony Stark’s reactions to the news. Apparently, it was a quiet celebration. He reported that Tony Stark simply pulled Peter Parker into his side and said something softly to him. This comment, whatever it was, made the teenager laugh. Otherwise, the two stayed solemn and respectful throughout the proceedings. Our correspondent also added that the judge seemed pleased by the jury’s decision.”

 

10:25

The usual reporter has almost become a part of the courthouse scenery. It would be strange to see it without her.

“Hello, and welcome back. The judge has officially sentenced both of the men convicted of kidnapping Peter Parker to life imprisonment. He claims that the extent of the injuries Peter incurred, as well as the ransom demands, qualify such a drastic decision. We’ve yet to hear Tony Stark or Peter Parker’s reaction to the news, but we’re sure they’re beyond relieved. By all accounts, this is the exact outcome Tony Stark has been pushing for since the trial began.”

 

10:46

The video pans to the courthouse doors. Happy Hogan emerges and is flanked closely by Tony Stark and Peter Parker.

Tony has an unapologetic grin on his face. He’s walking with a bounce in his step. While Peter doesn’t seem to share his joy, he does look far less tense than he has in his previous appearances. He shoots the paparazzi a little grin as he walks past.

Where Peter does not share Tony’s enthusiasm for the verdict, Tony doesn’t appear to share Peter’s benevolence towards the press. As soon as Peter is safely hidden within the Audi, Tony flashes his middle finger at the gathered reporters before climbing in after the teenager.

Happy Hogan is openly laughing at the gesture as he climbs into the driver's seat.

 

14:00

STARK INDUSTRIES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
JULY 16
ON THE CONCLUSION OF THE PETER PARKER TRIAL

Today, everyone at Stark Industries is reveling in a sense of closure. Nobody at SI ever had a single doubt that the former defendants were indeed the men that took Peter Parker, and it was intensely gratifying to see that the jury agreed with us.

The judge’s sentencing has also offered an immense sense of relief. Both Mr. Parker and his family feel validated by the acknowledgement of the horrors that these men put them through.

Mr. Stark and Mr. Parker would like to explicitly thank the judge for his respect and kindness throughout the trial process.

Everyone at SI offers their gratitude to the judge, jury, lawyers, and other staff and personnel who worked tirelessly throughout the past week to bring Mr. Parker’s kidnappers the justice they deserve.

No decisions regarding the future of Mr. Parker’s public life or theironvlogs have been made at this time. For now, Mr. Parker and everyone around him would simply like to focus on enjoying their time together. We ask that their privacy is respected as they do so.

Finally, SI, as well as Mr. Parker, would like to thank everyone who has supported him and his family during this turbulent time. It has been greatly appreciated.

Chapter Text

19:43

Peter Parker
@peterparker01

new video coming tonight...

 

19:46

Tony Stark
@therealtonystark

@peterparker01 why do you end every single tweet with an ellipsis? It’s so ominous

 

19:47

Peter Parker
@peterparker01

@therealtonystark I like my life a little… ominous… ;)

 

19:48

Tony Stark
@therealtonystark

@peterparker01 too soon, Parker.

 

19:48

Pepper Potts
@vpotts

@therealtonystark @peterparker01 Stop tweeting at each other when you’re sitting on the same couch.

 

21:00

The video cuts in to a simple scene. Tony and Peter are sitting side by side on the workshop’s couch. Peter is wearing a faded MIT sweatshirt. It’s too big for him, and the sleeves are pulled down over his hands.

Tony’s wearing a navy v-neck. His left arm is slung over the back of the couch, behind Peter. The gesture is half casual, half protective. He’s staring down the camera like he can’t decide if it’s his friend or his enemy.

“Hey guys!” Peter’s face splits into a huge grin at the familiar words. “So, uh, sorry for the video delay. But in my defense, I have a really good excuse.”