New York, Monday...
There was a build up happening during the last few days. It had taken Carol about two to realise anything was happening, and four to discover why. And the reason why sent a shiver down her spine.
It couldn't be that time of they year already, could it?
Well, it was, and there was no way around it, as the half-kree watched her spider-themed partner get tackled straight off the roof they were perched on by a purple clad woman with a bow.
It seemed Hawkeye had come to town... one Hawkeye at least.
Captain Marvel quickly made her way down to street level, finding that somehow neither of those two had been injured, and that Spidey was holding Hawkeye's hands away from any part of his body. Hawkeye's expression also told the space captain there was a lot of struggling going on.
"Begone Bishop!" Spider-Man screeched at his attacker, "I will not be defeated today!"
"Is that so Spider-boy", she mockingly asked, still struggling, "Because if I get even the tiniest touch on you..."
Hawkeye didn't finish whatever she was saying though, as Spidey flung her off him, sending her flying into the air. He quickly turned to Carol and said: "We gotta get out of here right now!"
With that, they both took off into the sky, and the Captain was quite surprised by how fast and efficient her partner's swinging was today. He was definitely a man on a mission. After about ten minutes of this, they finally came to a stop in- to Cap's surprise- Hell's Kitchen. Peter let out an extremely demented noise and before they knew it, Daredevil was on the roof with them.
"She's here man", Spidey said to the Devil, "I hope you've been working on your game plan."
Daredevil grew a determined look, saying: "Bishop isn't getting me this year. I've been planning since the moment I was tagged last year."
The former duo shared a nod. "Get the word out double D", Peter said, "This year's annual super tag had begun."
By the time Carol and Peter had returned to Tower, everyone there seemed to be on some defcon protocol Carol had never heard about. Scott, Quill and Jessica were crowded around what looked by a map of the city, planning routes and weird stuff like that. Tony and Banner were working on pieces of tech by the looks of it, and Steve, Rhodey, Sam and Bucky were examining some makeshift armory they'd created.
Why did everyone take this game of tag so seriously?
The moment they were comfortable, Peter had disappeared into the lab, so Carol decided to see if she could be any help. The common answer by everyone was: 'no Danvers. You'll only mess our plan up'. How rude.
Peter ran back into the room not long after, dragging along his Iron Spider suit in all its red and yellow glory on a wheely desk, with a bunch of other parts on it.
"Tony, any word from our Defenders friends?" Peter asked, already working whatever he was doing onto his iron suit.
"Yeah", Tony informed, "Rand got tagged like a chump and almost got Cage. He just escaped though, and by the sounds of it, Jones, Daredevil and Moon Knight have holed up at Alias."
Peter made a humming noise, still working on his suit. "They'll have to bail soon. Alright, I'm gonna go inform the Spider Squad, keep me updated. Oh, and I'm taking the suit Tony."
"Don't ruin it Parker!" Tony yelled out as the Iron Spider suited attached itself to Peter. Carol looked on in confusion for a moment, then realised what Peter meant. He was initiating his juniors. She'd go get the Champions in the loop then.
"Kaine, hurry the frig up man!" Peter all but screamed up the stairs, as Ben and Miles looked on in delight. Peter was a mess at being a team's leader and they loved it. Kaine's heavy footsteps were heard not long after, a few curse words spat out as he emerged in full costume.
"Holy crap Pete, what's with the Iron Man cosplay?" Kaine asked as he pointed at Peter's temporary suit.
"Dude, it doesn't matter. Just listen", Peter snapped at his brother.
Kaine grumbled and sat on the couch opposite Peter, pulling his mask off just so he could show off his angry expression. "So what's with the group meeting? And who's the new kid?"
"Oh. That's Miles. He's Spider-Man", Peter informed, Miles giving a small wave.
"Bro, you're Spidey though", Ben pouted out.
"Yeah, and so's Miles."
There was a quick moment of thought, but eventually the Parker brothers gave a nod. Made sense... kinda. Once everyone was settled again, Peter cleared his throat.
"Okay, so, as you all know I have called a meeting of the Spider Squad for a very important reason", he started, using his teacher voice, "This reason in particular is because we are now in the time of the super tag game."
"Super tag?" Miles commented.
"Yeah, super tag. It's a game of tag between all the costumes in New York. And since you're all newbies, I'm here to tell you how it works. Rule one: you only count as being tagged if the tagger actually puts a hand on you. It doesn't count if it's any other form of contact; like a kick or punch or something like that."
"I get the bad feeling this gets really violent. How violent is this game Mr. Parker?" Miles asked. Peter gave a lighthearted shrug that alleviated noone's worries.
"Rule two", he restarted, "Once you are tagged you are also it. The tagger just builds up people who are it until noone is left. Rule three: use anything you have. Play dirty if you want to think of it like that. Rule four- even if it's never come into effect- don't kill anyone. We will send you to jail if you do. And the final rule: survive."
After saying that, Peter pretty much bolt out of the room, leaving the other three Spiders to think about their life choices. They were in this to the bitter end now. Wonderful.
After all the informing and meetings the day before, there had surpsingly been no more tags made. Yet.
Most of the day went by without problem, and it was surprising to find everyone was pretty relaxed. Everyone except Peter at least. And his students were starting to pick up on it.
"Hey Mr. Parker, are you feeling okay?" Cassie had asked after seeing her teacher faze out, tilting his head as if listening to something that only he could hear. Probably. She was aware that he was Spider-Man after all. Evil sentient mould told wonders about who someone was, even if she had suspected even before that.
At hearing the voice, Peter nearly jumped onto the roof, stopping himself at the last second after remembering this wasn't exactly the perfect environment for that. "Huh? Y-yeah, I'm good Cassie. Just fazed off."
"Looked like you were listening to something sir", Ned pointed out.
"No I wasn't." He totally was. Seemed Kate wasn't stalking around the school to tag him, so that was a plus. Luckily the students bought this, or went along with it at least, and the rest of the day went by without a fuss. When the final bell rung though, that's when he began his listening again. While doing that, he made his way onto the school's roof, and after checking immediately put the Iron Spider suit back on.
While he started swinging away, he saw Miles finishing putting his suit on in some random alley; slipping on the mask as he swung by. This distraction nearly cost him though, as he found his web cut, sending him falling.
Spidey saved himself at the latest second, seeing Kate Hawkeye on a building above him, a predatory grin on her face. He also found himself joined by Miles, who looked up in curiosity.
"Who's that", he asked.
"Hawkeye", Spider-Man simply stated as he slowly stared moving away, webbing Miles' feet to the floor.
"Hey! What the heck sir", he cried. The older webslinger shrugged.
"Remember what I said junior? You can play dirty. So you're my sacrifice now."
Miles took that in and looked like he was going to do something, but Spidey didn't see what, as he was already spinning away as fast as he could. He looked back once up high and saw that Hawkeye had indeed tagged Miles, the kid sagging at being tagged so quickly. Oh well, sucks for him then.
"I don't like this at all."
Jessica Jones slapped her forehead as Moon Knight said that for what felt like the millionth time now, his newbie status getting to her. At least Matt was good, even if he had literally and purposefully nosedived off a building to dodge Rand and Bishop the night before. The busted parts of his face that weren't covered by the costume were proof of how far people would go to not be caught.
Not that Jess hadn't done similar before, she'd just used more common sense than her friend.
"Marc, if you say that one more time we will sacrifice you to Rand", she warned. Marc stiffened, instantly quiet. "Yeah, that's what I thought."
The Knight just pouted and crossed his arms. "Do we have a plan at least?"
"Yeah", Matt said, the first thing he's said all day, "The plan is to survive."
Carol was quite surprised when she saw Peter swing straight through the window she opened for him. Ten minutes it had taken him to get back from Midtown. Fastest he's ever gotten back. Super tag was definitely getting to him.
"Hey Carol", he greeted right before he turned and stared straight at her, his lenses not moving at all on the mask. "You weren't tagged were you?"
"No", she answered, "But Tony and Quill were. From Miles too, surpsingly."
Damn. Peter had made a horrible decision letting the kid get tagged. He'd have to get around that somehow. Suddenly, the monitors on his suit started beeping, and he leapt right back through the window. Carol looked on in confusion.
"Hi Cap", someone said from behind, making Carol jump. She turned around and came face to face with-
"Oh no. Hi Kate", she awkwardly replied, trying not to seem dodgy in any way.
"So Captain, you haven't happened to see good ol' Spidey around here have you?"
"N-No. Definitely not."
Hawkeye looked at Captain Marvel with a suspicious eye for a few moments before shrugging. "Okay. Oh, and you just got tagged."
Carol just sighed as the female Hawkeye reached over and tapped her on the shoulder. She was so done with this already.
That following night saw Luke, Sam, Drew and Kaine get tagged. That added chaos. Marc was tagged too. That created horror. Mostly because he was the one who tagged those four other people after getting jumped by Miles and Quill.
Peter hadn't gone in to teach that day. Matt hadn't gone to lawyer stuff either, much to Jen's annoyance. Jess had apparently vanished off the face of the earth, and Bruce had decided to forfeit out of the game.
The day also saw Natasha and Clint Hawkeye forced into the game against their wills, much to the joy and worry of everyone else. Clint had joined up onto Kate Hawkeye's side after she promised she'd set Nat up for him to tag.
Natasha was not tagged. She was better than that. She sacrificed Ben instead, much to Peter's shock.
Peter had decided to shack up with Matt and the remaining members of the Champions. They lost Kamala to a well placed stealth attack from Miles. RIP bro. RIP.
The play dirty rule had finally come into full effect. Moon Knight had tagged Scott after trapping him in a cup when he thought it was safe to shrink and escape. Miles and Ben had teamed up to stop Rhodey by webbing him to the ground. This almost ended with their deaths; the War Machine having completely forgot about the game and thinking he was attacked. They didn't care.
Matt and Peter lost their junior teammates to the foursome of Iron Man, Hawkeye, Hawkeye and Kaine. They just escaped themselves.
"Matt, can you explained how we survived that?" Spidey asked once the two were safely hidden in the sewers. The Devil of Hell's Kitchen shrugged.
"I guess God finally listened to my prayers", he replied eventually.
The two went to trudge away in the sewers for the next few hours. They only left because they ran into the Lizard. Damn sewer monsters.
"Alright team", Kate Hawkeye started, all her tagged compatriots looking at her, "We're so close to getting everyone. We just need Spidey, the Devil, Jones and Widow. Anyone have suggestions on how we catch 'em?"
There was lots of discussion at that, everyone talking over everyone, trying to figure out a way.
Marc spoke up first. "How dirty can 'play dirty' go?"
"Depends on the play", Hawkeye responded, "Major impalation or serious wounds will disqualify you. Torture methods to a certain extent are allowed. You can waterboard for five seconds and five seconds only."
Marc hummed at the answer. That couldn't be good.
"Any other questions?" Kate asked.
"What if we hack the satellites to find them?" Cassie asked.
"That sounds perfect", Hawkeye beamed, while Carol and Rhodey gave bewildered looks. They didn't stop it thought, so...
Tony and Drew went off to do that, with Miles offering to help as well. Ben and Kaine discussed with Clint Hawkeye the best way to catch Natasha; Ben for revenge and Kaine for possible future reference. Clint was way too happy to share information.
About ten minutes after splitting up, the three hackers came back. "We got eyes up", Tony announced with a grin.
"Let's go people", Kate Hawkeye commanded, adding at the end: "And I get to tag Parker. Remember that people!"
Friday was a nightmare. Peter had ditched his Iron Spider suit for the fully black stealth suit during the late night, and had lost Matt after they were found by the Iron duo and the tagged members of the Spider Squad. What a betrayal.
He got word at about the middle of the day that Jess had been found by Spider-Jess and tagged; leaving him, Matt and Natasha the final three.
Peter swung around as high as he possibly could to stay out of reach of the mostly foot bound heroes, although he did run into Tony at one point. The escape was intense, with Spidey free falling for a whole lot of it. This led to him gunning it all the way through Hell's Kitchen and Central Park to escape the tagged Defenders and Champions, narrowly missing getting caught by a surprise attack from Kaine.
Over on Matt's end, he had taken the nosedive approach again.
"Stop falling Devil", Jones yelled out as she chased after him, "Suicide isn't going to help if it kills you."
"We'll see about that!" Matt cried back, almost breaking his legs when he fell of a gas station's roof. This proved to be his downfall, as a visit from Rand and Clint Hawkeye had ended with the former using his iron fist to make a shockwave, sending the crimson vigilante off his feet, and the male Hawkeye using a trap arrow to tie him up. He was then tagged by Cassie, who had gone along for no reason honestly. That part hurt Matt on a different level.
This downing traveled fast, Peter and Natasha finding out about an hour later. Seeing as he had no idea where the Black Widow was hiding out, Peter just kept doing what he was doing: sticking to the most odd and shadowy places he could find, hoping to everything he wouldn't be caught.
The game had been going for almost six days now, and practically everyone had followed the example Bruce set days before and opted out. All that were left were the Hawkeyes, Marc- who had developed a creepy obsession with finding the final two- and the overly enthusiastic teens Ben and the Champions. Matt had wanted to continue, but was forced back into pretending to be a normal person who didn't nosedive off buildings by a very annoyed Jennifer Walters. She needed her fellow lawyer, man.
Now that noone was burdened by the work of weekdays, many people had set to taking pictures and live streaming the heroes' work once they learned what was going on. Even some police had volunteered to help tag the remainders, much to the amusement of the younger vigilantes.
"If you're for real officers", Kate Hawkeye had ordered, "You're on the lookout for the Black Widow and Spider-Man. You catch even a faint blink of them, radio us or something. Old Hawkeye will know somehow."
Clint huffed at his younger counterpart at that, but she ignore it with grace. The juniors were amazed.
The junior Spiders had volunteered to help the police in their hunt; Ben forcing himself into the part after learning Sergeant Mahoney was one of the officers. Cassie had gone with them as well.
That left the others to do whatever, their search starting Downtown going up. After several intense hours of searching, the group got word of Natasha lurking around Chinatown, and Spider-Man in Harlem. Odd places for those two. Anyways, the group split off, Clint, Mark and the Champions going after going after Widow, while Kate went off after Peter.
Reaching Chinatown, the makeshift group easily found their victim; the police nicely setting up a perimeter around the building they'd trapped the former assassin in. Guy Hawkeye walked straight up to the lead cop.
"Wow, hey Mahoney. Long time no see", he cheerfully greeted as the policeman sighed.
"Barton. Didn't think you were part of the activities this year."
"Well surprise surprise then", the archer shrugged, grinning the whole time. Brett sighed again.
"You're perp is in there", he told the heroes, "That black and red Spider-Man and Scarlet Spider are already in there."
Hawkeye gave a nod then straight up sprinted inside the building. Moon Knight and the Champions all quickly chased after him. Inside and up they went, all the way to the top floor where one of the two final survivors were. Reaching the scene, they saw Barton aiming his bow at the Avenger, with Miles and Ben at the ready as well.
"I'll give you one chance to give up Nat", Clint offered the assassin. She stayed motionless, her eyes narrowed at her friend.
"Who else is left", she asked.
That answer seemed to set Natasha off, as she started moving on the spot, doing a little move in annoyance. "I'm not letting that mofo win."
"Why not?" Clint called out.
"Because I just don't want him to", she called back. Alrighty then.
Clint seemed to consider this defense for a few moments before finally tilting his head slightly forward. Everyone understood the sign as Natasha's eyes widened in surprise, finding herself bound by a trick arrow and webs. Clint walked up and bopped her on the head.
"You're tagged", he stated. Natasha furiously glared at him.
Peter knew someone was coming. The alarms he'd set around the perimeter of this section of the city had gone off and he knew he was done. It was just a matter of time. Leaving his spot and swinging down to the centre of the city, he waited. He was ready. Back in his usual red and blue suit as well.
It wasn't hard to spot the perpetrator who activated his alarm, the purple costume giving her away.
"Come on Hawkeye", he called out, "Come and get me."
As soon as he said that an arrow zoomed right past his head, the spider-themed Avenger dodging at the last second. Once he recovered he saw Kate Hawkeye sprinting down the street straight towards him, firing off a whole bunch of other arrows. He dodged all of them, shooting out one of his webs that only just missed its target.
"Come on Spidey", Hawkeye whined, "Just stay still and get tagged already."
Nah, maybe later. He jumped over the archer, tapping her on the top of the head as he went. She cried out in annoyance, turning around and just missing hitting the spider with her punch. She tried kicking him instead, which he easily jumped over.
"What are you doing Kate? Aren't you supposed to tag me?" Spider-Man pushed as he dodged another attack and bopped Kate on the head again. She frowned at that and tried hitting him with her bow. Easily dodged as always.
The exchange went on for a little longer until Hawkeye finally decided to call it quits. She moved back, dropped her bow and sighed. "Fine. You win Spidey. Happy?"
"Extremely", he replied, crossing his arms. "So, is anyone else in?"
Conveniently, just as that was asked the female archer received a message saying Natasha had been tagged. She looked up at Spider-Man and just said: "Nope. You win for real."
Kate crossed her own arms and turned away from the hero, quietly pouting to herself. Peter easily heard that though, with his all too convenient super hearing.
"Aw, come on Kate, you did good. You got a whole bunch of other people", he consoled, slightly moving closer.
"So", she shot back, "It's not like I got everyone, and you won in the end so what does it matter."
"Well it looks like it matters to you pal", Peter replied, "And, if you really want, you can count this next move as you beating me."
Kate went to ask what he meant, but promptly found herself wrapped in a hug. After getting over the surprise and not punching Spidey, Hawkeye accepted the hug, quietly chuckling. "I am gonna count this contact as a tag then. Guess you lose, Spider-boy."
Peter gave his own chuckle, then untangled himself from the hug after a few more moments. "Better now?"
Spidey grinned at that, and then the two friends went and made their way back to the Tower.
Avengers Tower, Sunday...
The next day saw everything returned back to relatively normal, the exception being the two bozos bickering in the General Room, stuck off duty from all the sores and wounds they'd decided to neglect over the week.
"Come on Spider-boy, there's no way that guy's gonna make the shot", Kate Hawkeye shot at the wallcrawler while she picked at a scab on her knee.
"He is too", Peter snapped back, playing with the bandage over his hand, "You ever watched this sport before. Guy always gets it in."
Hawkeye just rolled her eyes, focusing on the sport. And then just like Spidey said, the guy got his shot in first try. "Lucky", she sulked.
"You believe that", he replied.
"You believe that", she shot back.
"How about you."
"No, I insist friend, you."
While that continued, the others watching the argument sighed.
"Are they always like this", Carol asked, completely done with it all.
"Pretty much if you give them the chance", Tony replied, Banner and the surprise visitor Daredevil nodding along at the annoying memories.
"If you think this is bad Cap", temporary resident Clint Hawkeye added, "You should've seen them when they were dating."
Carol grimaced at the thought. It was something she never wanted to witness, the thought alone hurting her head.
Well, at least the random argument was entertaining...