Chapter 1: Sleep Deprivation (Prologue)
I'm finally back to writing, and instead of finishing my other stories, I start new ones...
I'm on a Marvel binge, I just saw Far From Home, and I need to cry. So, ANGST!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Stifling a yawn, Peter scrolled mindlessly through his phone as he waited for Happy in front of the school. He had been up late last night stopping due to a drug bust, and his suit was wrecked. Usually, he would be swinging through the streets of New York by now, the sensation of soaring through the air waking him up, but without his suit, he was grounded.
"Hey, hey Peter," a voice whispered behind his ear. Peter turned around to come face to face with his best friend, Ned. The latter had a huge smile on his face and a snicker came from him as he saw Peter jump.
"Holy shit dude, I didn't even notice you were there," Peter giggled slightly, causing Ned to raise an eyebrow.
"What happened to "spidey senses"?" His voice quieted significantly when he mentioned Peter's power. Peter just sighed.
"Dude I'm so tired today that my senses are not doing great. I almost ran into a door earlier!"
Being the great friend that he is, Ned only laughed at his friend's misfortune, causing Peter to pout. "And how exactly is that different from you on a good day?" Ned's quip earned him a playful glare. "Don't forget, dude, you promised to show me around your lab tomorrow." Since it was Friday, the two boys were looking forwards to hanging out (i.e. wreaking havoc) in Stark Tower.
"Of course I wouldn't for-" Peter was interrupted by the sound of a loud horn and a familiar voice yelling "C'mon kid, I don't have all day!" the boy chuckled and hugged Ned goodbye.
"That's my cue," he said, before climbing into the backseat of the Audi. As soon as he got in, he immediately began talking.
"Hey Happy! Guess what! Ned got a huge LEGO set of Hogwarts and he's going to bring it with him tomorrow when we hang out so we-" for the second time that day, the bodyguard cut Peter off, this time by reaching back to pull up the divider. Scrunching his nose, Peter huffed and leveled a mocking glare at the back of Happy's head. He may or may not have noticed the almost fond look Happy shot him in the rear-view mirror.
Peter scanned his pass and entered the living area of the penthouse. He looked around the room and saw no trace of Tony or any other Stark. He knew May was at work and Morgan was off with Pepper's parents (which was disappointing because Peter loved that little girl like the sister he never had), but Tony and Pepper should be here. As if reading his thoughts (He wouldn't be surprised if she actually could, FRIDAY's voice chimed in.
"Boss wanted me to inform you that Mrs. Stark has quote unquote "dragged him kicking and screaming" to a meeting and thus will be late to meet you in the lab."
Peter giggled at the mental image of Tony, a full-grown man, being dragged mid-tantrum down a hall by the ankle by an exasperated Pepper. He put his bag down in his room and walked out into the penthouse kitchen. Walking in, he was hit by a subtle aroma.
"Jeez, who was in here and why does it smell like garlic?" Pepper must have cooked lunch earlier (Lord knew Tony was not to be trusted near a stove). Peter walked to the fridge and pulled out leftover steak from dinner the night before. He waited as the steak heated up in the microwave and cursed Clint Barton and the spring heat as he started to sweat slightly. The vent and A/C was broken in the penthouse thanks to an unfortunate incident involving the aforementioned Archer, water guns, and a baseball bat. They had gotten the vent fixed the other day, but apparently the A/C was still broken.
He fanned himself and sat down with the re-heated steak, and picked up his fork but felt his appetite dissipate as he looked at the food. It was like a wooziness came through his body all of a sudden. He stood to get water to maybe help, pushing the steak aside, but as soon as he stood up his center of balance seemed to shift four feet away from him. His head swam as he grabbed the island to stabilize himself, but the faint dizziness remained. Peter blinked, trying to get himself together, and muttered to himself, "Knew I should have napped through Mr. Knotwood's class." His sleep-deprivation was really kicking him in the ass today.
Just as he almost started to feel better, the sound of a drip onto the granite island made him glance there. The spot of crimson that stained the otherwise pristine surface made him raise a shaking hand to his nose, where he felt blood slowly run.
Huh, he didn't think sleep-deprivation would cause nose bleeds. A tickle rose in his throat, and he coughed harshly. The tickle stayed, and he hacked into his hand until it subsided enough for him to open his eyes and see the red staining his hand. Yeah, sleep-deprivation should not cause him to cough up blood.
The sensation rose back up as his head started to swim again and more blood splattered his arm. His knees gave out as he fell to the floor, the pain of hitting his head on the floor barely registered as more and more blood came out with each cough. His lungs were burning, and it soon became a tug of war between the hacking coughs and the fact that he could not breathe. Soon enough, darkness crossed his eyelids as he fell unconscious.
Why must I hurt my boy? I'm evil. Bonus points to anyone who can guess what poison it is!
Chapter 2: Garlic and Boring Businessmen
Warning: Chapter contains descriptions of medical practices, needles, and blood.
Endgame Spoilers ahead
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
The longer Pepper Potts sat in that boardroom with some stuffy old men talking about the effect of Stark Industries on lower-level manufacturers, the more she wanted to rip her own ears off. It wasn't that she didn't care about the small business owners, but these men were so condescending, and she knew that they didn't give two shits about any lower-level manufacturers. They just wanted an excuse to bring down Stark profits.
When one of the old businessmen had finished his obnoxious ramble, Pepper took the chance and excused herself, stating "lady problems" as an excuse. In all actuality, she was going to get Advil for the massive headache she could feel coming on, but they didn't need to know that. They fell for it, stuttering and flustering (Internally, she laughed at their inability to handle references to menstruation). Her husband, on the other hand, gave her a knowing smirk as he sat in his chair with his feet up, looking almost jealous of her escape. He looked about two blinks from asleep, and Pepper couldn't blame him. Tony had been dragged here against his will, because for some reason they had insisted it was adamant that he be there. He was also annoyed because more time in this meeting meant less time in his lab, and less time with Peter.
Ever since Thanos' defeat, the Avengers Compound had been reduced to rubble. Thankfully, Stark Industries was able to buy back the Tower and relocate the Avengers there until the Compound was restored. On the downside, it was quite clear that bringing everyone back after five years had consequences. One of those consequences was the eviction of families from their old houses. New families moved in during the "Blip" (Pepper thought that was a ridiculous name), leaving the old families homeless. One such family to lose their apartment was the Parkers.
May and Peter Parker were two bright and sweet people. Pepper knew before the Snap that Peter was special to Tony, but she never realized how much until he lost him. Carol brought him and Nebula back to Earth, and Tony was broken, physically and mentally. He broke in her arms, saying it was all his fault that Peter was dead, and that he failed him.
Eventually, he mostly moved on. They married, had Morgan, and tried to live a normal family life. But, every so often, Pepper would peak into the kitchen of their lake house and see Tony looking at the picture of Peter and him that they kept. There would always be a look in his eyes of fondness and nostalgia, covered by a deep sadness and grief. That's why when Tony came to her and told her that he figured out time travel, figured out how to bring them- Peter- back, she knew he had to. She knew he wouldn't be able to rest if he didn't.
The Battle at the Compound had been one of the most terrifying days of her life. Not only because she was fighting swarms of alien creatures, that was frightening enough, but there had been time there when she thought that she lost the love of her life. Her heart had cracked in two, only mending after Bruce Banner, Helen Cho, and Princess Shuri of Wakanda told her that they could save him. They didn't manage to save his arm, and his face was badly burned, but he was alive, and that's all that mattered to Pepper.
After he recovered, Pepper was able to truly see for the first time the bond between Peter and Tony. The two joked around, worked together, fought together, and seemed just like father and son. It brought a smile to her face. So when Tony found out that the Parkers lost their apartment, he immediately opened their doors to them. Pepper had no qualms. The few times she had met May Parker, they had clicked. She was a fierce and strong woman, and had clearly raised Peter well. The two bonded over tea and stories of Tony and Peter over the years.
Peter himself was like a leech. In the best way possible though. When Pepper first really met him, she could almost feel him latch onto her heart. He was kind, intelligent, caring, thoughtful, utterly chaotic, and wormed his way into her heart easily. Plus, Morgan absolutely adored Peter, calling him her "big spider brother." In time, she felt her maternal instincts rise for Peter just like they do for Morgan. Which is why, opening the door to the penthouse and walking into the kitchen, the sight that met her made her scream.
Peter lay on his side, facing Pepper. His eyes were closed, his mouth slightly open, blood dripping from both it and his nose onto the floor. His head lay in the small pool of blood, and his lips were ever so slightly blue.
Pepper ran to Peter's side, kneeling next to him. She reached out and felt for a pulse. It was there, but not as strong as it should be. She breathed harshly, mind racing. As she was about to call for FRIDAY, a figure barged into the room.
"Pepper, are you okay? I heard a scream." The initial reaction to a random figure charging in out of nowhere faded as she looked into the face of Steve Rogers. She could see the Captain taking in the situation, and saw his eyes blow wide.
"Oh my god, Peter!" he exclaimed, joining Pepper beside Peter. He cursed, bringing his hands under Peter, gently scooping him up and turning to her. "We have to get him to the medbay, now."
Pepper nodded, not trusting herself to speak in leu of the tightness she could feel in her throat. She followed the Captain, telling FRIDAY to let Dr. Cho or whoever was down there that they were on their way. She pulled out her phone as soon as she stepped into the elevator, trembling as the doors closed.
If there was one thing Tony hated, it was meetings. Sure, they were important, but they were boring as all hell. These old men acting like they were all-knowing and morally superior when Tony had seen pretty much all of them drunk wearing their ties as headbands. Whatever, he just prayed to whatever God may be out there (not Thor though, Lebowski was too far in space right now) to save him from this meeting.
His prayers were answered, but not in a good way. Immediately, his phone began buzzing. Tony grabbed it and looked. Pepper had texted him.
From: Pep <3
Tony you need to get down to the medbay right now
Tony's heart stopped. The lack of punctuation in Pepper's text told him how serious it was. Oh dear god, not his kid. What happened this time? Horrible images flashed in mind- gunshots through the kid's forehead, limbs missing, dull, lifeless eyes, hands fading to dust right in front of him-
"Stark? Are you listening?" Tony snapped back to the present. All eyes in the room were on him, but his chest was constricting.
"I need to leave. Family emergency, sorry," He sprung up and all but sprinted down to the medbay. He did not care about the incredulous and somewhat offended looks he had gotten from the men in the meeting. All he cared about was getting to his kid.
Bursting through the doors to the medbay, Steve and Pepper found Dr. Helen Cho waiting for them. She sprung into action, taking in Peter's state and grilling them.
"What happened?" she asked.
Steve stuttered, "I h-have no idea," he looked terrified. All of the Avengers loved Peter, he was like their nephew.
"I came into the kitchen to get Advil but instead I found him laying in blood," she explained, shaking. Helen nodded.
"Well, his lips are blue, suggesting oxygen deprivation. We need to get him breathing, now," she stated.
"Like, CPR?" Steve asked, uncertain. Helen vigorously shook her head.
"No," she said firmly, "We don't know what caused this. It seems like poison, and If it was, we don’t want anyone else being exposed."
At the mention of poison, Pepper's heart skipped two beats. Dear God. Not wasting anymore time, Helen lead Steve in to lay Peter down on the hospital bed. The doctor began hooking Peter up to all sorts of machines.
At that moment, the doors swung open and Tony rushed in.
"Kid," he croaked, horrified. Helen turned to him.
"Stark," she barked. "I need you and Dr. Banner," she jerked her head to the side, and Pepper saw the nuclear physicist standing worried. She blinked. She hadn't even heard him come in. "to check security footage from the penthouse. Check for symptoms and clues. There is likely be more than just a bloody nose and hemoptysis."
Bruce nodded, and it took Tony a moment to snap out of his horrified stupor and nod as well. He looked like he wanted to protest and remain by Peter's side, but he also wanted to help. So, the two sprinted off. Pepper knew Tony had slipped into Dad Mode, protective and unyielding.
"I'm going to try to stabilize him and get a toxicology examination. Steve, you and Pepper need to stay here, but Pepper, contact his aunt." Pepper nodded, grabbing her phone. Steve nodded as well, but asked,
"Why do you need us to stay here?" Helen answered smoothly while still working on getting Peter stable.
"From the breathing troubles, it seems that if he was poisoned, it was from inhaling it. I want to make sure neither of you inhaled it as well." Pepper and Steve blanked. Helen kept working.
Tony skidded to a stop in his lab, Bruce close behind him. "FRIDAY," he called. "I need all security footage from the penthouse living area, where they found Peter."
"From how far back, Boss?" the AI answered.
"Just today, after I left for the meeting. Thanks, baby girl," The blue screen in front of them illuminated with the video.
The two scientists watched as Peter entered the penthouse, kicking off his shoes. He stared, confused at the empty room before FRIDAY's voice answered him. Tony heard him giggle at his message, and despite himself, let his lips quirk slightly at the sound. Peter disappeared, and the camera switched to the hallway outside his room, before switching back to the kitchen as Peter dropped his bag off and headed for the fridge.
"Jeez, who was in here and why does it smell like garlic?" Peter scrunched his nose cutely at the smell. Tony perked up.
"FRIDAY, pause please." The screen halted. Bruce looked confused.
"It didn't smell like garlic before I left," Tony said. Bruce's eyes widened. "That could be important," he un-paused it. They watched as the teen grabbed leftovers, popped them in the microwave, and played on his phone. The tension in the room was almost tangible.
Suddenly, they heard Peter curse and saw his hand start to fan himself, sweating. Bruce raised an eyebrow at that. "I thought you got the A/C fixed after Barton destroyed it."
Tony's eyes narrowed. "I did." He made another mental note. The video continued.
Peter got his food, and sat down, but he just seemed to stare at his food. A disgusted look crosses his face. "What is that face for? It isn't just because of the smell, is it?" Tony wondered. Bruce shook his head.
"No, he almost looks nauseous," Another mental note. Peter stood up and swayed. He said something, but the scientists didn't hear it. Their eyes widened considerably. This was it. Their minds raced as they added dizziness to the growing list of symptoms. They watched in horror as Peter's nose began to bleed, and as his coughs grew harsher and harsher. Tony wanted to look away from his kid coughing up blood and falling to the floor, but he couldn't. He needed to see to find out what happened. Peter alternated between gasps and coughs, blood splattering the ground, before his eyes rolled back and he fell to the floor.
Then it was silent.
The scientists shared a similar, alarmed look before running back to the medbay. Tony's mind raced. His kid was poisoned. Shit, his kid never got sick anymore, it had to be poison. He called to the ceiling:
"FRIDAY, tell Helen to look for toxins that also cause dizziness, nausea, sweating, and that smell like garlic."
"Garlic…" Helen's eyebrows furrowed. She had finally gotten Peter stable, breathing with a ventilator. The only poison she could think of that fit the symptoms and smelled like garlic was…
"Parathion." She realized. Grabbing a syringe, she went to draw blood. Steve looked confused.
"Para-what?" he voiced, bewildered.
"Parathion," Helen repeated, "More commonly known as Folidol. It's an organophosphate insecticide. Exposure via inhalation can cause sweating, dizziness, nausea, bloody noses, hemoptysis, and pulmonary edema."
Steve nodded, not missing the dark humor in Spider-Man being poisoned by an insecticide. Well, spiders weren't exactly insects, but still. Helen kept talking.
"But, it also doesn't seem to fit."
Pepper spoke up, having gotten off the phone with May. "How?"
"Parathion usually is not concentrated enough in an gaseous form to cause such severe poisoning. Also, parathion doesn't dissipate for 48 hours, so theoretically the penthouse should still be contaminated, but both of you were exposed to the chemical and so far neither of you have shown symptoms."
"But, maybe because of his enhanced metabolism, it affected him quicker?" Steve suggested. He had no idea. He was an artist and a soldier, not a doctor.
But Helen shook her head, "No, if that were the case, Steve, you would also have developed symptoms by now because of your enhanced metabolism. Besides, Peter's metabolism would have meant he should burn through it quicker, but it doesn't seem like he is." She held up the syringe with the blood sample.
Pepper was still confused. "So, are you saying it isn't this parathion-thing?"
"We'll see. There are so many discrepancies, but I don't know what else it could be." She began running the sample, testing for traces of parathion. "Let’s just hope it is."
Bewildered, Steve stared at the doctor. "Why would you hope it is?"
She gave him a look. "At least then we know how to treat it."
Tony and Bruce then came back in to the medbay. Immediately, Pepper went to hug her husband. He relaxed his tense shoulders in the presence of his wife, but only slightly. He looked straight at Helen, who stood over a machine.
"Verdict, Doc?" He prompted, tone completely void of any humor.
"I think it could be parathion," she started. Bruce cut her off.
"Parathion? Like the insecticide?" he received a single nod in return.
"But, this test should tell for sure. I am testing both Pepper and Steve, as they may have been exposed as well." Tony closed his eyes and tried not to think about both Peter and Pepper laying in hospital beds, unable to breathe on their own. He immediately turned on his heels, breaking free of Pepper's arms.
"Tony, where are you going?" Steve shouted after him.
Tony growled. "To find the son of a bitch who did this to my son and make him pay." The medbay doors slammed shut behind him.
So, it's an insecticide! Parathion! A lot of people guessed arsenic, and originally, I was going to go with arsenic but I didn't. Someone did mention the garlic though, which made me happy! There are other small hints, but they will become clearer later.
So they know what it is now. But, is it really that easy?
Chapter 3: The Antidote
Wow! Two chapters in one day! I'm usually really bad at updating, but I'm trying to change that.
Sorry if this chapter is shitty, and sorry for any medical inaccuracies. Also, I know toxicology examinations actually take way longer than like, ten minutes, but in this world, there's a sentient easy bake oven so I'm allowing myself this liberty.
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Helen ran her hands down her face. It just didn't make any sense. The toxicology examination results showed positive in testing for parathion in Peter's blood, but Steve and Pepper's bloods showed no traces. There was no way the insecticide would dissipate quickly enough between the time Peter inhaled it and Pepper found him.
Nevertheless, the results were there. Peter's blood tested positive for the organophosphate insecticide, and there was no way the machine would lie, it was the best toxicology technology out there.
She turned to Pepper and Steve. "You two are all clear."
Steve nodded, but Pepper was still concerned. "What about Peter?"
Helen sighed. "It was most definitely parathion. I ran several trials through the machine and all tested positive for it." She turned to the cabinet and opened it.
"So you said you can cure it?" Steve glanced down at the boy he thought of as his nephew. It seemed too easy. The perpetrator going through all this effort to poison only Peter, but yet using a compound so easily identifiable.
"Yes," She held up a syringe, filled with some sort of liquid. "Pralidoxime counters organophosphate insecticide poisoning." Looking up at Bruce, she continued. "Bruce, I need you to help me monitor him. The pralidoxime injection should break the phosphate-ester bonds the parathion has formed with his acetylcholinesterase, but I want to make sure there are no complications."
Bruce gave no verbal reply, simply falling right into place beside Helen. She injected the pralidoxime into Peter's muscles, and watched the monitors with Bruce. When no alarming changes happened, she relaxed.
"Okay, I'll take another blood sample in a couple of minutes. His body should have metabolized and gotten rid of the poison by then." Pepper nodded.
As Helen continued monitoring Peter's vitals, May Parker burst through the door.
"Pepper, I'm here, what happened?" The Italian woman looked frantic, her ruffled appearance showing that she had clearly just rushed there from work.
Pepper sent a reassuring smile to the woman, placing a gentle hand on her shoulder and guiding her to sit. "We think Peter was poisoned with an insecticide," May sucked in a breath, but Pepper pushed forward, "but luckily, Dr. Cho was able to identify the chemical and just administered the antidote. Peter should be fine."
May only slightly relaxed, heart still beating fast at the thought of her baby being poisoned. "So now what, we just wait?"
A new voice perked up, "Well, that or you can give me an actual greeting."
All occupants of the room whirled around to face the hospital bed. Peter was still laying down, but his eyes were open. His lips no longer blue, they were curled into a tired smile. He seemed weak, but awake.
"Peter, honey!" May rushed to his side, but held herself back from engulfing him in a suffocating hug. "How are you feeling?"
"Tired," He laughed. "And like an elephant sat on my chest."
"You gave us quite a scare there." Helen smiled at the boy.
"Well, I'm fine now!" Steve shook his head at the kid's lack of concern that he was just poisoned.
"You're still staying here until we can make sure."
Peter pouted, but didn't say anything. He yawned and closed his eyes. May looked at him with worry.
"Pete?" she prompted.
The spider ling only groaned. "Tired. I sleep." The adults smiled fondly and let the boy drift back off.
Helen stood to grab a syringe. "I'm going to test his blood. His body should be mostly clear of the parathion by now." Drawing blood, she took the sample back over to the machine.
Steve stood up. "I'm going to go check on Tony." He walked through the double doors and set off in search of the billionaire.
May, Pepper, and Bruce remained in anxious silence for a few minutes, listening to the beeping of the monitors, before Helen's quiet voice spoke up.
"It- It's not possible." her voice broke through. All eyes were drawn to her. Her forehead was creased with worry, reigniting the dread in the others' stomachs.
"Helen, what is it?" May almost didn't want to know the answer.
"Helen." The doctor ran over to look at the monitors, where Bruce was standing, confusion also evident on his face.
"Dear god." With those two words, the other two women shared a look of apprehension. "The parathion is still there, the concentration hasn't decreased."
May sucked in a breath. "You don't mean…" she trailed off, and Helen finished her thought.
"The antidote didn't work."
Steve knocked on the door to Tony's lab. When there was no answer, he knocked again, calling out, "Tony?"
In response, a voice simply answered "Go away, Rogers."
The soldier sighed. Sure, they weren't at each other's throats anymore, but things were still rocky between him and Tony. Steve knew he had a lot to apologize for, but now wasn't the time. "I'm here to check on you. I'm just making sure you're not holing yourself up in there again."
"Too late." Steve shook his head. He looked at the ceiling. "FRIDAY?"
Without anymore prompting, the door opened. Peter and Pepper had put in a protocol that would allow certain people access to the lab for the purpose of dragging Tony out from his self-destructive obsessing. He entered, seeing the inventor surrounded by almost a dozen screens of security camera footage. They showed images from all parts of the penthouse, and seemed to be replaying countless moments from the past week.
"What are you doing?" The captain gazed, slightly awed at the videos. Tony cursed.
"Why the fuck did FRIDAY let you in?" he grumbled.
"Because she knew you were starting to obsess."
"This is my kid we're talking about here, Rogers. Someone tried to hurt him, I think I have the right to be obsessed." Tony scrolled through more footage, studying each and every person that walked through the penthouse.
"What are you looking for?" Steve stood beside Tony, figuring he might as well try to help.
"Someone who shouldn't be there." Tony's gaze never wavered from a screen. He watched the front door as a security guard came to drop something off last Tuesday. Steve turned to look at the video footage of the kitchen. Dated Wednesday, he saw the repairman that was there to fix the vent Clint broke. Just as Steve was about to turn away, something caught his eye. A strange box was in his hand, only just visible in the camera.
"Wait." Tony stopped.
"Rogers, don't try to drag me away from this. I need to do-"
"No," Steve stared, trying to figure out what the odd contraption was. It had only caught his eye due to the orange light blinking on it. "Can you zoom in on that?"
Immediately, Tony compiled, zooming on where Steve was pointing. The plain black box seemed to have nothing but an orange light on it. Just barely, Steve could see something round attached to the end. "What is that?"
"I don't know, but it shouldn't be in the vents." He tapped the screen a bunch, pulling up a different angle of the kitchen. As Tony focused and zoomed in, Steve was able to see that the odd round part of the machine was cylindrical in shape, with a knob. It almost looked like…
"A canister," Tony voiced Steve's thoughts. "That must have held the gas."
They un-paused and watched as the man held the machine close and swiftly tried to pop it into the vent. Tony growled and fiddled with the screens some more, switching viewpoints until the face of the man was visible.
Dark, shaggy hair and a pinched look on his face, the man looked as though someone had force-fed him a lemon. "FRIDAY, run facial recognition software, who is that?"
After a whirl and a boxed outline appearing around the man's face, a profile appeared.
"Gary Moore, aged 35. maintenance worker level 5. No previous criminal record, lives in Brooklyn."
Tony scanned through the profile, looking for an address. Steve looked disgusted at the thought of this man living in Steve's own home city.
When an address was given, Tony stood up so fast that Steve jumped. "FRIDAY, let's go." A suit immediately came and started to assemble around him. Steve stood and walked over.
"Tony wait." The man only gave him an exasperated look.
"Look Cap, this bastard needs to get what's coming to him, and I plan to give it to him. Don't try to stop me." Tony turned to walk away, but Steve called out again.
"I want to join you." Tony turned around, looking his friend/rival/colleague/whatever they were at this point in the eye. "If only to make sure you don't commit murder."
Tony resumed his walking, mumbling "He'd deserve it." It was just loud enough to hear, and Steve took that as his cue to follow.
The ride was silent, Steve finally having convinced Tony to forgo the suit until need be. As such, the two were dressed in casual clothes, but made sure to have any suit or weapon on hand in case things turned ugly. Pulling up in front of the cookie-cutter brown apartment building, Tony barely stopped before he was already getting out. Steve hurried after him. The billionaire was stalking to the door, and knocked so loudly that it startled the pigeons sitting on the planter nearby. Steve stood back, watching the man to make sure he made no sudden, violent moves. Tony didn't react very well when emotionally distressed (he shuddered, remembering Siberia). A minute passed, and Tony raised his hand to pound on the door again just as it opened.
A man opened the door, gazing astonished at the two in front of him. Steve recognized the dark hair and pinched face. Said face was flushed, and he seemed flustered.
"M-Mr. Stark… Captain Rogers… how-how can I help you?" Tony growled low in his throat, but a look from Steve prevented him from acting out.
Steve himself turned back to the man, stare sold as he glared at the man who had hurt his nephew. He maintained his resolve, however. "Mr. Moore," he began smoothly, trying to convey in his eyes what words could not express, "We need to talk to you."
Moore's eyes widened, and his flushed cheeks grew redder. His gaze flitted back and forth, seemingly searching for an exit or a method of escape. The captain cleared his throat expectantly, and Moore jumped.
"T-talk? About what?" He gulped. Steve narrowed his eyes.
"Confidential. Stark Industries business, can't discuss it out in the open," The soldier was all too aware of the people watching them from across the street. Moore nodded, eyes flickering around again, before he stood back to let the two Avengers in.
"Ah, yes… Come in…" With one last nervous look at the two men, Moore closed the door and walked in behind them.
He gestured to the couch. "Come, sit," He laughed nervously. Tony and Steve compiled, sitting on the couch as Moore sat in the armchair opposite him.
"So to what do I owe the pleasure?" Moore wrung his hands nervously. God, Tony thought, This guy is really not subtle. He had a better hold on his emotions now, though he still wanted to punch this idiot's teeth in.
"You know what, Moore," Tony glared ice straight into the man in the armchair. Moore flinched, and Tony saw sweat drip down from his temple.
He tried to gather himself. "I'm not sure what you mean, sir, I-"
"Cut the bullshit, Moore." Tony barked. The man's mouth snapped shut and he tensed. "You know what you did, and you had better admit it if you don’t want to spend the rest of your life at the Raft." He was exaggerating, but Moore didn't know that, and it worked.
"You don't have proof." Moore stammered, more trying to convince himself than the others. Tony smirked darkly, pulling up the security footage from Wednesday. Moore's eyes widened as he saw himself putting the odd machine into the vents. He knew there was no feasible way he would get out of this.
"Then why do we have video evidence of you placing unknown technology containing gas canisters into the vents?" Even as he said this, Steve felt uneasy. It just felt… off. This main seemed too cowardly to be the sole perpetrator, least of all the person who orchestrated this. Moore gave in too easily, there was no way this was all his doing.
"L-look, I just did as I was told." Tony perked up at that.
"Who told you, and what exactly did they tell you?" He leaned forward. Moore grimaced and shrugged in on himself. He seemed conflicted, before opening his mouth.
"They…they just told me to put the machine in the vent." he said, skipping over Tony's first question. Tony didn't miss it.
"And who is 'they'" Surprisingly, Moore only let out a timid shrug.
"I don't know, he never told me his name. He offered me a shit ton of money to put it in there."
Tony leaned back. "So, what did he tell you?"
The man breathed heavily, "He…he said that he needed revenge. He said you put his factory out of business and it cost him everything. He wanted revenge, so he told me to put the gas in the vent."
Tony stood sharply. "Revenge on me?" Moore looked startled.
The billionaire cursed. "So he was attacked because of me." A horrible, guilty look crossed his face. Steve, sensing where this was going, quickly interjected.
"Did this guy tell you anything else?" his gaze was still cold, but slightly less so. He still had the urge to punch this guy. Mastermind or not, he hurt Peter.
Moore thought for a second. He seemed to have relaxed a bit after realizing the men were not going to attack him. "Well, I asked him what the canisters were for, and he just said that it was some little concoctions he made in order to get his revenge." The two Avengers shared surprised looks.
"Wait, concoctions he made?" Tony repeated, bewildered. "So he didn't say he bought it?" Moore shook his head.
"No, he said it was something he worked on specifically for this task." Steve inhaled sharply, but pulled himself together.
"Is that it?" His voice was urgent now, spying the terror and self-loathing in his colleague's eyes.
Moore nodded quickly, "That's all I know, I swear."
Steve sighed, standing up. He spoke into his coms. "He's all yours, Happy, we got what we need." Moore sputtered.
"W-wait, I told you the truth! You said you weren't going to throw me in the Raft!" Tony glared harshly, and sneered.
"You're an absolute idiot if you think that you would get out of this without going to jail. You hurt my kid, you bastard."
Still stammering, Moore's eyes widened at the word 'kid'. "Kid?" he questioned incredulously, "He targeted a kid?!"
At that moment, Happy burst through the door, followed by two agents. They grabbed Moore and cuffed him. The man did nothing but stare mutely ahead, his posture guilty as, eyes bulging, he let himself be lead away. Once he was gone, Tony took off out the door, summoning his suit and taking to the skies. Steve chased after him.
"TONY!" he cried, but the man did not respond. Capsicle had the car keys, he could drive himself back. Tony, on the other hand, needed to get back to his kid, now.
Yup, it is never that easy.
So the antidote didn't work, and now they have to find some mysterious person. Will they ever get a break? Murphy's Law says no.
Chapter 4: Connections
Woo! I finally got this chapter done! Sorry it wasn't done yesterday, I hit a point where I had a bit of a block. But, it is here now!
(See the end of the chapter for more notes.)
Pepper growled in frustration as she tried to reach her husband for the fifth time in the last ten minutes. FRIDAY had informed them of Tony and Steve leaving the building an hour ago, but neither has responded to any calls. She hoped Tony hadn't done anything stupid. Thankfully, Rogers was with him. Finally, Tony answered on the last ring.
Before even allowing him to speak, Pepper stormed ahead, "ANTHONY EDWARD STARK!" May jumped, startled by the woman's outburst. "WHERE THE HELL ARE YOU? FRIDAY TOLD US YOU LEFT BUT YOU DIDN'T BOTHER TELLING US WHY! YOU'D BETTER GET YOUR ASS BACK HERE NOW AND STAY WITH YOUR KID OR I SWEAR TO GOD-"
Tony finally managed to interject, "Pep, I'm on my way!" Pepper pinched the bridge of her nose.
"Where even were you two?"
"We found the guy who put the poison in the vents-"
"Wait," Pepper stopped him, "In the vents?" She heard him sigh.
"I'll explain when I get back, but I need to talk to Helen right now. I have important information for her." Pepper huffed.
"We will be talking about this later, Tony." She gave the phone to Helen, who had walked out of the medbay doors midway through their conversation, and stood raising an eyebrow at her. Pepper shook her head.
"Tony." she said, Helen nodded in realization. The doctor put the phone up to her ear.
"Stark, the samples-" Tony did not let her finish.
"It's not true parathion," Helen was shocked into silence. "We found the man who put a device in the vents to release the poison into the penthouse, and he told us it was apparently is a special compound the main dickwad behind all of this made just for this."
Helen furrowed her brows. "But, the samples tested positive for parathion throughout all trials. So, why would it test positive, unless…" Tony finished her thought.
"It is parathion, but this guy modified it. Whatever he did to it, it was made to specifically target Peter."
"That's why his metabolism did not burn through it. Whoever made it must have altered it to match Peter's metabolism. So, the antidote wouldn't work because it wasn't regular parathion!" It was like a lightbulb finally clicked on in her head. "It must also be why no one else was affected. He made it so that it would dissipate quickly, before anyone else came in." She paused. "Wait, you mentioned that there was more than one person involved?"
The response didn't answer her question. "I'm coming in now, I should be there in five." Abruptly, the billionaire hung up. Helen stood with Pepper's phone in her hand for a few stunned moments, before racing back into the medbay. She clumsily handed the phone back to Pepper and went to the toxicology examination results from before.
Bruce was standing at the monitors, keeping an eye on Peter. Pepper had an arm around May, who was sitting, head in her hands. Her eyes were red, leftover from the tears that came after she found out her baby was still dying. She looked up when the doctor raced back in.
"Helen…" She said weakly.
"I think I know what happened." With that, she launched into her theory.
Tony didn't bother to apologize to any human obstacles as he sped through the halls of the Tower towards the medbay. He threw open the doors and came in just as Helen finished talking.
"Good, Tony, you're here." Helen steered him to a seat next to the bed. "Sit. You're running yourself ragged and you need to rest."
The billionaire tried to stand up again, but Pepper put a hand on his chest.
"Uh-uh. I am not letting you obsess and neglect your own health. I know you care about Peter, we all do. But, you need rest. Stay here, be with Peter. I will look into this other man." her tone left no room for argument. He looked at May, who still shook slightly with repressed tears, but was pulling herself together with the newfound hope that they could help her boy.
"I'll help you, Pepper." she stated strongly. The CEO gave her a sympathetic smile, but shook her head.
"You need to stay here, too. In case Peter wakes up again." May protested.
"I need to help, Pepper, I can't just sit here and watch-" Bruce cut in.
"Then take my spot." Bruce suggested from his place by the monitors. May turned to him. "You are a nurse, right? And since you're his aunt, you know how to best handle his enhanced vitals. I'm a nuclear physicist, not a nurse." He cracked a small smile. "I'll go with Pepper, you help out here."
May took a look at Peter and nodded. "Okay. Just find that man and let's save our boy." She strode over and started fussing over her nephew. Pepper led Bruce out of the room.
"Where did Helen go?" She asked Bruce on the way to her office.
Bruce was almost jogging to keep up with the woman's long and fast strides. "She… she went to go try to synthesize a solution to counter the modified insecticide. She is using the samples to try to make an antidote herself."
When they reached her office, Pepper did not even need to swipe a pass. FRIDAY let her in automatically. The CEO went to her desk and was barely sitting before she started pulling up files on her computer. Bruce looked over her shoulder.
"This is a list of all companies that are or have been in direct competition with any of Stark Industries divisions in the past five years." On the screen, a file opened to show names of a multitude of companies, ranging from recognizable ones such as Pym Tech or Oscorp, to some that Bruce had never even heard of.
"FRIDAY, narrow this list down to ones that have been put out of business due to market competition with Stark Industries." The huge list of names narrowed down to around 15. "Pull up files of the business owners and CEOS," around 20 new windows opened. Pepper looked through them. "Now, narrow this down to just men." Only five names were eliminated. Pepper couldn't help but scrunch her nose at that. Bruce gave her a confused look. She saw it and sighed.
"This guy that they talked to apparently said the creator of this altered parathion was a man." Bruce nodded, and turned back to the screen. Pepper rubbed her eyes.
"There are still 15 names left." Bruce thought for a second, then spoke.
"FRIDAY, can you eliminate anyone who does not have degrees and/or background in biological sciences, specifically biotechnology and biochemistry?" FRIDAY compiled, and the list narrowed down even more, to only four names. "They would have had to have knowledge of biology, specifically toxicology, to make alterations that would affect the human body in a certain way." Bruce answered the unasked question.
Pepper pulled up additional information on the four remaining suspects. "Let's see what we have here."
Tony held Peter's hand in his own, rubbing his thumbs lightly over his knuckles in a soothing gesture. May sat across from him, running a hand through her nephew's hair. Taking a deep breath, the billionaire broke the long silence between them.
"I'm sorry," it was whispered, and May almost missed it. She looked at the man, confusion evident on her face.
"What are you apologizing for?" she questioned, watching as Tony just rubbed his free hand over his forehead.
"It's all my fault," His voice seemed choked, "He was targeted because of me, poisoned because of me. Without me, he would be okay and breathing on his own, instead of lying in a fucking hospital bed." May pinched the bridge of her nose, having seen this coming. As she got to know the former playboy better, she saw the real Tony Stark, the one he hid under partying and snarky comments and his 'ego'. The Italian woman could almost see the guilt radiating off the man. He held guilt for every mistake he has made. No matter how many lives he saves, Tony always focused on the ones he couldn't, just like Peter does.
"Look, Tony," May looked the man straight in the eye. "I am going to be blunt here. At first, I did not like you." Tony shrugged in a 'that's fair' fashion, but May continued speaking, "But I was just scared. To me. It seemed as though you were encouraging Peter, my baby, to go out and put his life in danger. The whole debacle with the Snap," the man flinched, "Made me realize I was wrong. Peter would have gone out and risked his life whether or not you had given him the suit. But, you gave him extra protection. You knew he would go be Spider-Man no matter what, and we couldn't stop him, so you made sure he was safer doing it. I'm thankful for that."
"Do I wish Peter wasn't targeted? Of course I do. Anyone in their right mind would. But do I blame you? Not in the slightest." May gave him a smile, "Not after all you've done to save him."
Though he would try to deny it, Tony could feel tears starting to prick his eyes, but he blinked them away. Before he could respond, FRIDAY's voice spoke.
"Boss, there is a Ned Leeds who says he is here to 'hang out' with Peter," both of their eyes widened.
"Shit," Tony blinked at the curse from the woman. "I forgot Ned was coming over." Tony bit his lip, then spoke to the AI.
"Give him authorization to come here. Tell him to come to the medbay, but do not explain anything. It'd be best to hear it from us." May nodded.
"You got it, Boss." with that, Tony stood and went to the doors.
"I'll intercept him." After waiting in the hall for ten minutes, Tony heard the elevator doors open, and saw the Filipino boy hurry out. Worry was clear on the kid's face, and he stopped in front of him.
"Mr. Stark, what is it?" he started, but continued before an answer was given. "FRIDAY told me to come here to the medbay, but why do you need me here? I was going to hang out and build the Hogwarts LEGO set with Peter, but he didn't respond to my texts or calls- Wait. Is Peter okay? Is that why I'm here? What happened to him?" Ned's voice grew higher with each sentence, and inwardly, the older man remarked on how that rambling was so much like Peter.
"Ned, is it?" The boy looked about a second from passing out due to Iron Man himself knowing his name, but his concern for his best friend overpowered his awe. He nodded. "There was… an incident. May is in there with Peter right now."
"What kind of incident?" Ned's concern only grew. Tony seemed reluctant to tell him. The kid didn't need to know that his best friend was poisoned and was currently dying.
Instead, he told him part of the truth. "Spidey-related stuff." Ned only nodded in realization. "We are keeping a close eye on him. But, he woke up earlier. I'd tell you what happened but it's classified." Okay, that last part was a bit of a lie. There wasn't really any way to tell Ned the actual situation, and Tony did not intend to make the kid even more scared.
Ned looked past Tony to the doors of the medbay, bouncing on his feet. "Can I see him? Is there anything I can do to help?"
The billionaire inhaled slowly. "No, you should go home, kid. You’d be better off there with your parents."
Shaking his head, the Filipino boy countered, "They aren't expecting me home until tomorrow afternoon. I want to stay here with Peter, and help if I can." Though the boy was hardly intimidating, Tony could see he wasn't about to budge. He pinched the bridge of his nose, as May had done to him earlier. He didn't see what the kid could do to help, but it couldn't hurt to let the kid hang around, as long as he stayed out of the way.
"Fine," he said after a moment of hesitation. "But stay out of Dr. Cho's way."
Ned nodded fiercely and almost burst into the medbay. He looked at Peter, and Tony heard a sharp intake of breath from him.
"Oh my god," Peter really was a sight right now. Hooked up to all sorts of machines with IVs and tubes everywhere. May turned to Ned, walking over and wrapping him in a hug.
"Ned, sweetie." Ned hugged her back, and pulled up a chair next to the bed. He sat down and just stared at his best friend's face. Tony returned to his seat, and resumed his vigil.
"Okay, it's down to two guys. There's a Grayson Woodward and a Daniel Price. Both live in New York, both with degrees in Biochemistry, and both owned tech businesses that competed with SI." Pepper and Bruce had quickly ruled out two other of the suspects, due to the fact that one died a year ago and the other moved to Stockholm.
The two remaining men both were of middle age with European descent. Price had smooth, black hair slicked back in a clean swoop. He had a charming smile, and light hazel eyes. He could easily pass as a normal guy. He lived in Queens, coincidentally, and owned Price Corp. before it went bankrupt a year and a half ago. Looking further into his records, she saw only incident involving a court case, and that was his divorce to his first wife, Helen.
Woodward, on the other hand, was single. He owned PoshTech when it was still in business, and his only infraction was from when he was a teenager and he stole a candy bar from a convenience store. He had sandy, wavy hair, not as maintained as Price's, and dark brown eyes. He had a small smile, not very charming.
Neither of them seemed the type to poison a kid, but Pepper knew all too well that looks could be deceiving. She printed off pictures of the two suspects and grabbed her purse.
"FRIDAY, tell Happy to meet Bruce and I in the garage." There was a whirl of confirmation. Bruce looked at her.
"Where are we going?" he questioned the CEO.
"NYPD. We have to make a little visit."
Pulling up to the precinct, Pepper and Bruce thanked Happy and got out. The security head nodded and pulled away to drive around the block a couple of times. They had chosen a more discreet car, as they wanted to avoid as much attention as possible. Thankfully, very few people paid the car or them any attention. They hurriedly walked into the building, and went up to the front desk. The woman behind the desk looked up in surprise.
"Can I help you?" she looked confused as to why the CEO of Stark Industries and the Hulk were in the precinct.
"We need to visit a Mr. Gary Moore. He was arrested yesterday afternoon." The receptionist turned to her computer at Pepper's request, and pulled up the file.
"Luckily, he's still being held at the precinct right now. I'll send a guard over to monitor the conversation and a detective will take you in shortly." she pointed to a couple of chairs by the entrance. "You can wait there. They'll come get you." Pepper thanked the woman and sat down with Bruce.
"Why are we here? Why are we visiting this Gary Moore guy? I thought he wasn't the main culprit?" Bruce looked at Pepper.
"He's not," The CEO responded. "But he saw the man who was. Tony said he didn't get the guy's name, but he saw his face. Hopefully, he can identify our real culprit."
Bruce nodded as a detective walked up to them. Pepper stood to meet her.
"Hi, I'm Detective Qian Biya." the woman said. "I'll be taking you to visit Mr. Moore. But first, I must ask, what is the purpose of this visit?"
"We need him to identify someone, for Avengers and SHIELD purposes," Bruce sent a smile, and was pleasantly surprised when he got one in return instead of the look of fear he usually gets. The detective nodded.
"Very well, follow me," Detective Biya lead them back to a visitor room. They each sat in a chair, and watched as Moore was lead in by two burly-looking guards. They stood on either side of the room once Moore sat down. The man in question looked skittish, and glanced nervously at both Bruce and Pepper.
It took all Pepper had not to slap him, but she maintained herself. Bruce took deep breaths, doing exercises Bucky taught him to calm himself down. The man in front of him helped hurt his nephew, but now they needed to find out how to find the real man behind this.
Moore stammered, "Mrs. Potts-"
"Stark," Pepper corrected automatically. Moore swallowed harshly.
"Yes, Mrs. Stark, my bad. But, I-I don't know what you want from me. I don't have anymore information. Any that I had I already gave to Mr. Stark and Captain Rogers."
Bruce looked at Pepper, and the woman pulled out the two photos she had printed, setting them out in front of Gary. He looked at them, and back at the CEO.
"Do you recognize either of these men?" she asked, searching his face. She could see the guilt he carried from the moment he walked into the room, she knew guilt when she saw it, having dealt with Tony for years. As well, she could see the hesitation Moore had to identify the man. "I know you feel guilty for what you did, and we know you were just an accomplice. So, help make it right by helping us find the bastard who told you to put the machine in the vent." Gary Moore gulped at the intimidating gaze the woman sent him. He turned to look at the pictures.
They sat in silence for a few moments, before Moore spoke again, pointing at one of the pictures.
"Him. He's the one."
Bam! We're just over halfway through, and we are finding our big bad boss guy. I wanted to add in more May and Ned, because there's not too much content out there of May and Peter and Ned and Peter being family, but don't worry, the main focus will of course be Irondad. Plus I needed my boy Ned Leeds in there because I frankly would die for him.
Who do you think the mastermind is? Price or Woodward? Tell me who you think!
Chapter 5: Mastermind Part 1
I.... am so sorry.
I haven't updated this in a year! I've been meaning to get to it all during quarantine, but my hyper fixations have been fluctuating between fandoms, and I only recently got back to Marvel.
I'm also sorry that this is a shorter chapter, but I am planning on finishing the last chapters within the next day or so.
Also, it's Ned Leeds Appreciation Hours.
Stepping into Happy's car, Bruce and Pepper shared a dark look. They knew the bastard's name now. They could finally find him and get revenge for him hurting Peter.
Happy noticed the look, seeing their eyes in the rearview mirror. "Any luck?" He asked, voice seemingly nonchalant, but Pepper knew him well enough to know that Happy was just as eager for revenge as they were. Happy didn't show it, but he had warmed up to the kid a lot since he first met him. At Pepper's nod, his grip tightened, "So, who is this son of a bitch?"
Pepper took a deep breath, before spitting out the name as though it was poison.
For nearly two hours, Tony and Ned sat in silence. Neither moved from Peter's side. May kept an eye on her nephew, occasionally coming to sit next to Ned. When she did, she put an arm around the boy's shoulder, and pulled him into a sort of half hug.
Soon, the silence was broken by Steve coming into the medbay. The captain took one look at Ned, raised an eyebrow, and sent Tony a look.
The billionaire sighed. "This is Peter's best friend, Ned." The boy in question didn't react, despite one of his heroes standing practically next to him. Ned was too busy worrying for Peter to care, frankly.
"Yeah..." Steve trailed off, uncertain. He wasn't sure how much he could say in front of the kid.
As if reading his thoughts, Tony quickly said, "He knows about Spider-Man, and the whole situation. May told him," Steve nodded.
"Well, we found him." Tony's previously sad and tired eyes widened.
"Who?" He sat up straighter and looked at the man.
"Daniel Price," Steve stated. "Owned Price Corp. Pepper and Bruce said that Gary Moore identified him as the man who orchestrated this."
Tony's eyes darkened. "Do we know where he is?"
"FRIDAY can't find his address. He sold his house a couple of weeks ago, and doesn't currently have one listed."
"But, he has to still be in New York, right?" The billionaire furrowed his eyebrows. "He wouldn't move away while his plan was in action, right? This guy seems like a control freak, he'd want to be able to see what was going on, and see his revenge take place. He went through all of the trouble of hiring Moore."
But, that raised another point. "But, how would he even be seeing anything at all? It isn't publicized in any media, so he would have no way of keeping tabs on the situation, especially if he wanted to see your reaction."
For the first time in two hours, Ned spoke up, "What if he is watching?" Drawing the eyes of everyone else in the room, his eyes drifted to the security cameras. "He got someone in to put the canister in the vents, who is to say he couldn't get access to security?"
"But, he would have to get past FRIDAY. His name wasn't in her system as an employee or frequent visitor, and only employees and certain guests have access to some parts of the building." Tony questioned. Steve was gaping at the kid, how had he come to that conclusion?
"That doesn't mean he doesn't have access to the security feed," Ned sat up a little taller, a strict determination filling him. He wanted to help his friend in any way he could. "And, if he did access the security footage off property, it would be trackable."
May had been sitting nervously throughout the conversation, but piped up, "But, wouldn't FRIDAY alert you if anyone was hacking in and viewing security footage?"
Tony seemed to have an epiphany. "Not unless the location was altered. FRIDAY, give me the location of anyone that has accessed medbay security footage in the past two days."
FRIDAY's voice answered through the ceiling, and Ned jumped. He forgot that Tony Stark had an AI. Internally, he was slightly geeking. "Scanning... All locations of access have been traced to Stark Tower, Boss."
"Can you run diagnostics? See if any of them are covers," Tony's order was followed by tense moments of silence, before her voice sounded.
"Location has moved northwest. Sending coordinates now." Ned let himself have a small grin. He was proud to have helped in some way. Peter was his best friend, and he would be damned if Ned didn't do anything when Peter needed him.
"Thanks, baby girl." Tony stood up, causing May to shoot him a look.
"Where are you going?" She asked, though she had a suspicion.
"Where do you think?" He walked briskly out of the room, Steve following swiftly.
Chapter 6: Mastermind Part 2
I was almost not going to post this, but realized I needed to keep my promise. I was going to post it last night, but I heard the news and was heartbroken. I'm still heartbroken, but I promised I would finish this. We're in the home stretch, with just this and the epilogue.
Looking out over the abandoned warehouse, Tony doubted whether or not they had gotten the right place. The cracks in the walls were starting to fill in with green, vines sprouting from windows, and the structure looked as though a strong breeze would blow it all over.
"Why is it always abandoned warehouses?" Clint muttered. Tony and Steve had called the others in, as they knew they would all want to help. Peter had wormed his way into all of their hearts, and messing with him was like messing with them all.
"Because they're abandoned, idiot." Natasha rolled her eyes. Steve ignored the two bickering and turned to Tony.
Without a need for prompting, Tony scanned the building for heat signatures. "There seems to be twenty or so guards by the entrance. The others are scattered in smaller groups along the halls, with six guarding what seems to be a single entity towards the west side."
"Price," Sam spat out, and Tony nodded.
"Bruce, what did Helen say about her progress on the antidote?" Steve asked.
"She told me that she was working on modifying the pralidoxime in accordance with the modifications to the parathion, but she couldn't be sure what exactly Price did to the parathion. She would need to know what changes he made in order to make an antidote that would not exacerbate Peter's symptoms."
Steve nodded, and Sam cut in, "I thought she already tried pralidoxime?"
"She did, but it didn't cure him," Tony replied. "It did, however, halt the progression of the poison. She's hoping to find the antidote before the symptoms worsen again."
"And how long would that take? Does Peter even have that much time?" Natasha's voice was a growl. Tony knew she had especially grown a soft spot for the enhanced teen. She even referred to him as her 'baby spider.'
"Depending on what modifications Price made, he might not." Bruce admitted reluctantly. Tony stiffened, but swallowed back the bile rising in his throat.
He exhaled heavily. "Then our best bet is to find Price's notes on a possible antidote."
Steve sent him a questioning look. "Are you sure Price would have one?"
"He might not have created one physically, but there is no way Price would have gone through all the effort of modifying the parathion just to not have a contingency in case of an accidental exposure here at the warehouse." Steve nodded.
"Okay, then we should split up. Wanda, Sam, Bucky, and I will take the group of guards at the main entrance. Clint and Bruce, you take the east and north sides and search for any information you can find on a possible antidote. Tony, Nat, you do the same on the west and south."
Silently, Tony reveled at getting the west side, knowing that was where Price likely was. What he wouldn't give to tear that son of a bitch limb from limb.
Exchanging a nod, the three groups split. Sam, Bucky, and Steve headed to the main entrance to draw the attention of the main guards, while Clint, Bruce, Natasha, and Tony looked for ways in through the sides.
"Any entrances on this side?" Tony asked the spy. She shook her head as she rounded a corner of the building.
"None that I see. So, guess we'll just have to make one." She nodded at Tony, and he used a laser to cut a substantial hole through the side of the concrete. Carefully, he pried the concrete off, making sure to not upset the building's structure. When nothing came crashing down, he a Natasha headed in. Scanning, Tony scouted the quickest route to Price, and motioned for Natasha to follow.
Eventually, the duo reached the hall where two out of the six guards stood. Natasha slinked into the shadows from their spot around the corner, and Tony heard soft thuds as she quickly and quietly took out the two guards.
Making their way to the door, Tony scanned again. Voice low, he spoke so only Natasha could hear him.
"Two guarding the other side of the door, two guarding Price. All armed. They might already know we're here, so let me draw their fire first."
The spy stepped behind Tony, and he braced himself. "Three, two, one," And he kicked the door down.
Ned's foot bounced anxiously as he listened to the metronomic beeping of the heart monitor. He was not sure how long the Avengers had been gone, but he just hoped they would make it back in time. Already, the poison was picking back up, and Peter's oxygen levels had begun dropping.
May buzzed around her nephew anxiously. She flitted between monitors, her eyes flicking to the doors every so often to check for Tony or the others. Suddenly, as she approached the heart monitor, it skyrocketed.
The monitor went crazy as Peter's body began convulsing. May gasped and Ned felt bile in his throat.
The teenager heard May curse, and had to turn away from Peter's seizing body. It felt as though every arch of his best friend's back and convulsion of his limbs sent a shard of ice into Ned's heart. Just as he turned around, Helen burst through the door.
"Oh my god," The doctor's hands flew to her mouth. She sprinted over to Peter.
"Where's Tony!" May all but yelled, tears streaming down her face.
Ned felt tears fall down his own, as he prayed in his head.
Please, Mr. Stark, hurry.
As soon as the door blew in, bullets hailed on him from four directions. Turning his body ever so slightly, he let two of the bullets ricochet off his suit and hit one of the guards. Natasha vaulted over Tony, springing towards the other guard by the door. The two by Price turned their guns on her, and she quickly ducked, letting the bullets hit the guard as she leapt behind him. With two down, Tony sprung forwards and took one the guards' guns, grabbing the now empty hand and twisting the offending arm behind his back.
The guard cried out in pain, and Tony knocked him out with a quick punch to the head. He grabbed Price, who had gotten up out of his chair, by his collar and pinned him against the wall.
Price just smirked, a sickening sight that made Tony want to hurl. "Ah, Mr. Stark!" his eyes glanced over at Natasha, who had taken out the other guard and now had her gun trained on Price, "Miss Romanoff. To what do I owe the pleasure?"
"Cut the bullshit, Price. Where is the antidote?" It took all of Tony's self control not to bash Price against the wall repeatedly.
Price feigned confusion, raising an eyebrow mockingly. "Now why would I have such a thing?"
This time it was Natasha who spoke up, "Don't play stupid. Here's how it's going to work. You're going to tell us where to find the antidote, or I'm going to shoot you in the head or nuts, your choice."
"You won't kill me, Miss Romanoff." She merely raised an eyebrow at him, holding her gun higher as a way of saying 'try me.'
"If you kill me, the boy is as good as dead. You'll never be able to find the antidote on your own in time." The infuriating smirk was back on his face, and Tony growled low in his throat.
"Technically a shot to the nuts wouldn't immediately kill you, but it will make you wish I had," Natasha smirked back. For the first time, a flicker of fear passed through Price's eyes, but it was quickly masked.
"Yet, you still need me. Shoot me then, see how this all ends. You don't even know if I have an antidote made." Natasha's eyes flicked to Tony, who was weighing the options in his head. It was so tempting to just shoot the evil freak, but he was right- they did need him, at least until they got the antidote.
As if on cue, Clint's voice sounded through the comms.
"Hey, Stark, we found something." Tony's eyes widened, and he saw Natasha's widen from his peripheral.
"Barton, what did you find?" The billionaire held his breath.
"It looks to be some sort of report, detailing the process of modifying the drug." Tony inhaled.
"So you know what he did to it." It was a statement, not a question.
"Well, I don't. But, you guys will. Bruce is looking around the lab, seeing if they have the antidote on hand."
Now it was Tony's turn to smirk. "Take the files, Birdbrain. Cho could use them. If this creep is that organized, he definitely has the antidote on hand." Price's smirk fell, and was instead replaced by a glare.
"You won't find it." Price spat.
"Wanna bet?" Tony pressed the madman harder into the wall. He studied Price's expression.
"It has to be in the main lab." No change in expression. "No, scratch that, side room. Storage?" Price's eyes narrowed into even more of a glare. "Bingo, we have a winner. You got that, Barton?"
"On it." With the affirmation, Tony dropped Price to the ground and turned to Natasha.
"My dear Nat, would you like to do the honors?" Natasha grinned.
"Which head?" she inquired. Tony felt grim satisfaction.
The sound of a gunshot, followed by Price's screams of pain were almost too satisfying. After a moment, Clint's voice came back over the comms.
"Got it. Meet me at the center, Stark." and the joy continues.
He turned to Nat briefly. "You good here?"
The spy just hummed. "This guy isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Go, you're the only one fast enough to get back to the tower on time."
Without any further delay, Tony flew back through the door, past the unmoving bodies of the guards. He flew out through the hole he had created earlier and to the front entrance, where he saw Clint approaching through the open doors. In his hand he held a manila folder of files along with three vials.
"We'll wrap these guys up here." Tony nodded, taking the items from Clint and rocketing off.
He put all the power into the thrusters, clutching the antidote and report.
Tony all but rammed into the doors of the medbay, bursting through and immediately finding Helen. He saw Peter convulsing on the bed beside her, and his grip nearly failed in shock and horror. He held on, though, and quickly passed the vials off to the doctor.
"Antidote, found it. Should be same dosage as pralidoxime." She nodded, and hurried back to the IV line. Tony stepped out of the suit, and called the nanotechnology back. He saw Ned crying, eyes averted from the scene. Tony put a hand on the younger boy's shoulder, watery eyes meeting his own. He knew Ned could feel his hand shaking.
The shaking continued as Helen administered the antidote through the IV. A small part of Tony questioned why she didn't just inject it, but realized she couldn't with Peter's seizing.
Tony held his breath along with everyone else in the room. Eventually, the seizing stopped and May and Helen went to work, checking his vitals.
After a painful few moments, Helen turned back to Tony, her smile letting his breath release.
"He's going to be okay."