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Peter Parker: The Man Without Fear!

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The sirens started around nine o'clock.

There had been a very loud and echoey gunshot first though, and that was what had woken Peter Parker up. He'd jumped out of bed, instantly bolting to the window. Nothing seemed out of the ordinary, but he felt a nagging feeling. 

Something had gone wrong.

Sure, random gunshots during the night weren't unusual in this part of Hell's Kitchen, but they'd usually be accompanied by a whole lot more until the police had added theirs as well. No more gunshots though, only sirens.

Seeing as how neither May or Ben were home yet, Peter decided he could risk a quick look up the block from outside the house. Grabbing the coat his uncle had brought for him just the other week, he yanked it on then went to check it out. 

Outside, there were lots of police cars. Way more than the usual fights or shots would bring, and Peter instantly knew something had gone much more wrong than he thought. And for some reason, there was still that nagging feeling. Closing in on the bright, flashing lights, Peter immediately saw what had caused so much upheaval.

And it sent pure terror through his body.

Because lying there on the floor, his torso and the floor beneath him covered in blood was-

"Uncle Ben!"

Peter shrieked out those two words, flinging himself forward, straight past the two officers who tried to stop him, their efforts in vain. They recognised him after a moment though, and after what sounded like a gasp from one of them, they backed off. Peter sunk to his knees next to his uncle and helped put more pressure on the wound like Ben was already doing. Feeling the younger hands on his, the oldest Parker looked up from where he had collapsed on the floor.

"Peter?"

"Yeah, it's me uncle Ben", Peter choked out, shaking like a madman, "I'm here. It's me."

"Peter,  I'm... I'm dying", Ben sighed out, "I'm sorry."

Peter felt tears start flowing down his face. "You're not going to die. Th-they probably called the a-ambulance already. Just wait."

Ben shook his head. "I can feel it Pete, I don't have long." When the younger Parker went to deny that, he shushed him. "Just... promise me Peter. Live your life. Help- help May. Be... be the best man you can- you can be..." Ben could feel the cold, and it was close to taking him completely. With what would be the last of his breaths, he took Peter's hand. "Promise me. I love... love you..."

And then, Benjamin Franklin Parker died...

His uncle's hand went limp, and when it fell out of Peter's, he knew his uncle was never coming back.

He cried until the body had been taken away...

 

 

Twenty years later...

"Aw, for fu- hey Nelson, are you bribing my partner again?!"

Hearing that familiar voice yell out at him, the up-and-coming lawyer embarrassingly jumped in surprise, the officer he was talking to just chuckling at the reaction. While the other officer finished his walk over to his partner, the lawyer turned to him.

"Parker, it's good to see you."

"Yeah, yeah. Likewise Foggy", police officer Peter Parker replied with a grin. "So, what's the special occasion?"

"You mean the 'bribery'?" Foggy cheerfully asked, "Just some cigars for Brett's mom. Nothing off here."

While Peter raised an eyebrow in his unconvinced way, his partner, officer Sergeant Brett Mahoney decided to speak up. "Mr. Attorney here wanted me to let him know, in his words, 'if something interesting walks through the doors'."

Peter considered it, then shrugged. "Don't see why not. Craziest thing that could happen'll be some doped up doctor. And believe me when I say that shtick is intense."

Both his partner and Foggy looked at him oddly after saying that, until eventually the lawyer took his leave. "I've gotta go. Matt and I are looking at a possible location. See you guys around."

With him gone, Mahoney rounded on Parker. "Seriously man? The doctor? Why you gotta bring him up?"

Peter laughed as he shrugged. "What? It was a one time thing. I doubt we'll get anything that crazy. Fogs is lookin' for cases, right? I bet you, at best, we can recommend him some guy that decided streaking was a good idea."

Brett huffed, getting into their shared car. "You're probably right Parker. Always are. You got a- a sense or something."

Peter laughed. "Wouldn't be surprising." As he went to get into the passenger seat, his phone started blaring out, the very distinct lyrics to 'call me maybe' playing. He gave a meek grin to a very unamused looking Brett. "Give me a sec man." Stepping away, the policeman accepted the call. "Hello?"

"Hey dad", came the sheepish sounding voice of his daughter, Anna-May Parker, although she much preferred being called Annie. Pete guessed it was the red hair, just like that one kid on that movie.

"Hey Annie", he replied, using his best dad voice, "Why are you calling during the middle of the day?"

"Well, I uh- I... I kinda maybe possibly got into a fight?"

Peter breathed. He would not shriek. He was not that kind of parent.

"And I... I broke my nose."

Peter shrieked. 

From the car, Brett poked his head out to see what was wrong. "Parker, what the hell was that?"

Saying a miniscule goodbye, Peter hung up the phone and got in next to Mahoney. "We're going to Midtown High."

Brett blinked at Peter. "What?"

"You heard me."

"Damn right I did Parker! And why the hell would I willingly drive there, in the middle of the day, on patrol, when something could happen at any moment."

"Because Annie broke her f***in' nose!" Peter close to shrieked. Again. Brett perked up in alarm at the news, and after a moment of hard decision making, sagged heavily with a sigh.

"You're taking the blame if there's trouble", he dryly stated.

"Planned on it."

 

...

 

Arriving at Midtown High, Peter pretty much flung himself out of the car, running straight through the doors of the school and to the principal's office.

On the inside he felt a little giddy. He still remembered perfectly all the hallways and rooms in the school, even after graduating almost twenty years ago now. It definitely made navigating the long and empty spaces easier.

Making it to the office, he instantly saw Annie sagging into a chair with what looked like an ice pack to her nose, with a bandage on the body part. Upon seeing her dad, she tried not looking him in the eye. She failed, and felt her inherited Parker guilt coming on.

"Anna-May Parker", Peter started in the tone that let his daughter know she was in a lot of trouble, "You are going to explain now and explain good. I've made Brett drive us all the way from Hell's Kitchen to here because of this."

Annie decided to set her gaze to the floor. "I'm sorry dad."

"Sorry?! Come on kid, you know I stress easy, and now I've got your broken nose to worry about-"

"It's not broken, I just hit it really badly. I misjudged it when I called", his daughter stated before Peter could continue. He paused for a minute, letting out a sigh of relief.

"Okay. Okay, that's really good, but still. You've been injured at least, fought another kid, and I'm down here disrespecting my job when I should be there. So explain to me why you did it in the first place."

A few moments went by, until finally Annie took a deep breath. "Well, I was going to chemistry with Ned and Cindy when that annoying kid I told you about, Flash, he came up and started harassing us. He kept making really disgusting comments, and after trying to grab me I punched him. He punched me back so I punched him again and then the teachers broke us up."

Peter groaned, going to sit in the chair next to his kid. "Alright, not that I'm against you standing up for yourself, but come on Annie. We've talked about this so many times. You just ignore them, and if they do get physical like the Flash kid did, you yell out for a teacher or push him off. That's it. Violence... violence only escalates until you do something you can't go back on."

"I wasn't gonna kill him dad."

Peter gave a hard look. "It's not always in an extreme sense like that, but there are always just as bad and even worse things that could happen. So I'm not happy Annie. Not at all." After saying that, Peter went to leave, or at least talk to the principal, but before he did, he saw an expression flash across Annie's face. He instantly knew she was withholding information. "What? What is it Annie? What aren't you telling me."

"Nothing", she nervously replied, knowing she'd been caught.

"Annie."

After another few moments where Annie looked to be in a panic, she calmed down and spoke again. "There is something else. I- I didn't want to say because principal Morita already took care of it. And- and it's also just a bother, you don't need to know."

"I think I do", Peter sternly replied.

"Well, it's just", Annie stuttered, "He-He also uh... also tried giving- giving us dru... drugs."

Peter froze. He felt a melting fury, but for the sake of his child, even if she was fifteen and old enough to understand, he forced himself not to go hit this kid himself. "Is the principal inside?"

Annie just gave a small nod as Peter barrelled inside the office. 

 

...

 

"So how'd it go?" Brett asked as Peter came back, silently fuming as he put his seat belt on. After a moment of no answer he just asked: "That bad huh?"

Seeing no use in fooling around, Brett started driving back to Hell's Kitchen. For a long while, he just gave Peter space- or at least as much as he could in the car they shared. Eventually though, Peter decided to speak.

"Some kid tried selling drugs to Annie."

Brett glanced at his partner briefly, before focusing back on the road. "Do we have to arrest him?"

"Nah, I scared the living shit outta him. Doubt he's touching the stuff again. He's also 'suspended until further notice' as the principal put it."

When they stopped at the lights Brett cast another look over. "How'd you manage to scare him out of it?"

As they started driving again, Peter chuckled. "Well for starters, it was some kid from Uptown, so he was a bit of a pussy to begin with. Then I just told him about the Ramirez case and what drugs had done to all of those guys."

Mahoney let out an awkward cough as he tried not to laugh. "So let me get this straight: you told a- what? Fifteen year old kid about how some super drug had caused a few gang members to scratch and burn each others faces off?"

"Sure did", Peter proudly admitted, "Teach him a lesson for messin' with my kid. Oh, and get this, his name was Flash of all things!"

As Brett turned the car down the next street, he let out a laugh. "Kid must have some mean parents."

"Yeah, but come on, remember some of the names kids here in the Kitchen had?" Peter started. "What was the guy in the last year of high school called? It was stupid... uh Ja- jar... Jart! His name was Jart!"

Mahoney took a moment to compose himself at that. "Oh I remember Jart, Parker. But he was in a gang, plus it was 2002. Us kids were still hung up on the punk-90s."

At that, Peter let out his own laugh. "Yeah okay, I'll give 'im that. Fair point."

After that, they rest of the travel was mostly quiet, with only a few small calls to break up small corner fights or getting a drunk out of a bar. By the end of it their shift was reaching an end, right back in the deep of Hell's Kitchen. It brought an odd sense of comfort, even if most people called it the most dangerous part of New York.

Later on around six, after a few more dispatch announcements and small break ups, Peter and Brett's patrol was over, and they took the car back to the station. Luckily for him, Mahoney had a car, so he drove back home, while Peter ended up walking. Sure, he'd been offered a ride, but as usual, he'd declined, preferring to walk.

Even though walking around the streets of Hell's Kitchen at night could be dangerous, Peter had always risked it. He only lived about two small blocks from the station, so he was never too worried about the distance, even if he'd always told Annie: 'Just a few metres could make a difference'. So maybe he was a bit of a hypocrite. He'd simply rather she be better off then him.

But tonight, it turned out that distance would make a difference.

As he reached the halfway point in distance, he heard signs of a struggle down an alley just as he walked past. A very obvious scuffle between a man and a woman; the latter the one in trouble by the sounds of it. For a few small moments, Peter considered just moving on. It was already half past six, meaning Annie would've been home alone for a few hours now, which, even if it is a usual event, still stressed Peter and made him feel guilty. And there was the fact this was Hell's Kitchen. It wouldn't surprise him if the tables turned in just a few more moments.

But he knew, he knew he couldn't just stand by. His duty as a police officer and as a, what he hoped at least, decent human being stopped him from leaving it be. So he went down the alley, unseen, and just in time to see the woman get smashed into the ground.

It did something to Peter; seeing that scene.

Thinking back on the event later, he wasn't sure if he did what he did because he couldn't stand things like that, or because closer inspection showed that the girl reminded Peter of his own daughter, or most simply: he just wanted to hurt someone.

Because that's what he did: hurt someone. Still unseen and not too far into the alley yet, Peter used the shadows and overall darkness to his advantage. Creeping up right behind the guy, he announced his presence. "Hey!"

The guy turned around, just in time for his nose to be absolutely shattered by Peter's fist, the man stumbling backwards just after, cursing out to the heavens. "What the f***", the man screamed out as he held his nose, "I'll f***ing kill you!"

With that, he charged at Peter, swinging his fists around wildly. Peter easily dodged, the self defense lessons he learned in the Academy and... elsewhere giving him an almost unnatural edge in the fight. When the attacker's hit didn't connect and he sailed past, Peter grabbed his collar, throwing him to the ground, keeping himself in the dark as much as possible.

He pushed his foot hard onto the man's chest, the guy gasping out in pain. "Think you you're tough now?" Peter snarled as he applied more pressure. "Do you like how it feels?"

"N-No! Ple-please! Stop!" The attacker cried out, tapping uselessly on Peter's leg.

"Disgusting", Peter groaned, then stomped once on the attacker's face, completely knocking him out. Once he was sure the guy was completely out, Peter turned back to the victim of the attacker. "Are you okay?"

She meekly nodded. "Wh-Who are you?"

It was then Peter realised, with massive relief, he had changed out of his police uniform after finishing his shift, now in a simple black sweater. Not moving out of the shadows, he simply replied: "Someone who helped. Now go. The 15th Precinct is only down the road. Tell them what happened. I'll make sure this guy stays here."

The girl nodded, then ran off to the police station. When she was out of sight, Peter close to doubled over, taking in large breaths. I just beat a man, he realised. He waited about a minute after, then pinned down the unconscious attacker before leaving the scene after hearing sirens. It wouldn't pay for him to be seen. For him or anyone else.

Even as he returned home, just in time to find Annie finishing dinner and going up to do studying for school, all Peter could think about was what he'd just done. His main thought being: this is a one time thing... one time...

Chapter Text

At 12 am, Peter was woken up to the sound of 'Bad Boys' playing through his phone. Seemed Brett was calling.

Rolling over and grabbing the phone, he noted a slight pain in his knuckles, and with an inspection instantly saw he'd bruised them from his earlier... experience. With a groan, he got out of bed and went to get some ice and wrap it up, also answering the phone. 

"What's up Brett", he greeted.

"We got a homicide", Brett simply answered, straight to the point. Peter sighed.

"This can't wait 'til the morning? You know how I feel about leaving Annie alone at... wow, not even the ass crack of dawn yet."

"I'm sorry man", Brett genuinely apologised, "But the Captain said you're needed."

Peter groaned again. "Well tell Captain Castle he's got a bias opinion when it comes to me." When there was an odd silence he quickly added: "Don't actually tell him that."

He heard Brett chuckle over the line. "That's what I thought Parker. See you soon."

"Yeah. See you soon."

With that he hung up the phone, his knuckles not bullying him anymore. Wrapping it up with some gauze, he stuffed a bunch of ice cubes underneath the wrapping, hoping that his temporary pain free plan would work. Peter then went over to Annie's room, going over and crouching next to her bed.

"Annie. Hey, Annie, can you hear me?" Peter whispered.

After a few moments, his daughter started to stir. "Dad? Wh-What's going on?"

"It's nothing too big", Peter replied, keeping his voice quiet, "But I've just gotta go out for a little bit. Okay?"

"'Kay", Annie mumbled, already going back to sleep. Peter lightly chuckled as he got back up. Teenagers are weird.

Now that that was out of the way, Peter grabbed his police uniform, frantically throwing it on as he started heading back to the station.

 

...

 

As Peter finally made it to the questioning room, he groaned for what was already way too many times in his way too early morning as he saw three, very familiar, formally dressed figures enter the room.

"Of course", he breathed out, throwing his hands in the air. "Hey Brett, I've got one word for you: seriously?"

Mahoney shrugged. "You said it was alright to tell Foggy about the 'interesting things' Parker, so I told him."

Peter just glared at his partner. "You are such a smart-ass sometimes; you know that?"

"I try my best", Brett joked. Peter didn't laugh. Or he tried to keep it in at least. He failed in the end.

"Anyways", Peter sighed, getting them back on track, "Care to inform your partner to what the hell's going on?"

"Suspect's name is Karen Page", Brett started, reactivating his professional mode as well, "Found about an hour ago, over the top of the body of some legal guy named Daniel Fisher. Blood everywhere. Even had the murder weapon in her hands."

Peter took a moment to process that, leaning against the wall and taking a breath. "Shit. And what, our lawyer friends wanna take that case? Sounds tough."

"I was thinking impossible", Brett replied, letting out a breath of his own.

Peter shook his head. "Eh, stuff like this is always way too convoluted to be impossible."

"What do you mean?"

Peter chuckled. "Really Mahoney? One homicide suspect, found at the scene, not only holding the murder weapon but also probably covered in blood. That doesn't sound off to you?"

Brett took a moment to think about that. "Well when you put it like that..."

"Exactly", Peter remarked. "I bet they'll somehow find a way."

At that, Brett turned to Peter with a raised eyebrow. "Are you sure that's the only reason?"

Peter turned with his own eyebrow. "What's that supposed to mean, Mahoney?"

Brett gave a lighthearted shrug. "Nothing. Nothing at all. But I think your... exceptionally high respect for a certain stuttering lawyer out of the Nelson, Murdock and Walters bunch might be raising your expectations."

"Hey, she can't help that, man." Peter berated, before slapping his head and sagging, realising he fell right for Brett's bait. "And I do not favour Miss. Walters over Matt and Foggy."

"'Miss. Walters' huh? How professional", Brett mocked, although it did get a laugh out of Peter. Before they could continue their banter/conversation, Foggy came out of the room.

"Hey guys, we're done here for the moment", he informed, "If you wouldn't mind helping out our client Miss. Page out for now?"

"Of course", both Peter and Brett answered, already walking into the room.

 

...

 

With the lawyers now taking an apparent temporary residence in the reception area and going over their options, Peter and Brett went over their own. 

"Miss. Page is completely safe in that cell right?" Peter started off, "Because it probably wouldn't look good if she escaped or something."

Brett glared at him. "You and I have both worked here long enough to know noone is breaking out of one of the cells. If anything, she's probably safer than us."

Peter scoffed, but he knew it was true. First thing the Captain had done when he was put in charge was improve the holding cells.

"Alright, so what's our overall plan?" Was Peter's second question.

Brett was quiet for an awfully long time, finally breaking the silence with a sigh after. "I think the only thing we can do is wait and see how this all plays out."

Peter frowned, ready to argue that point, but after thinking about it and all the evidence the precinct had collected, knew it was probably the only thing they could do. "Well... then I hope the lawyers can help this lady. Unless she is actually guilty of killing Fisher, then I want to see justice done like everyone else."

Mahoney simply nodded. He felt the same in all honesty. With that over with and nothing going on at that moment, he went to review his cases while Peter awkwardly stood on the spot.

"Hey Mahoney, you got the time there", he asked.

"It's three am", was the answer Peter got. He breathed out a hard breath, then shrugged his shoulders at nothing in particular. 

"Then I'm going home for an hour or two. It's not like our shift has actually started yet", Peter remarked. "I'll go check on Page first, then I'm outta here."

"You do that Parker", Brett replied, more focused on one of his cases than his partner. Peter silently took his leave, grabbing his coat and making a quick detour to the cells.

Reaching that area of the precinct, Peter simply poked his head in, seeing if anything looked off. That was a negative; everything was normal. He went to leave, but felt a nagging feeling, and deciding to humor his probable paranoia for once, went further into the blocks.

He instantly found trouble.

After hearing a quiet crash, Peter started going down the hall faster, just in time to find the usual guard inside of Karen Page's cell, strangling her.

"Hey!" Peter shouted, slamming the cell door to the side, pushing himself in and punching the guard. The guard tumbled back, and Peter noticed the guy damaged one of his eyes somehow. Karen rolled off the bed to the opposite side, away from her attacker and sucking in large breaths.

"I'm sorry", the guard mumbled as Peter got him on his back, slapping a pair of handcuffs onto the guy's hands. "I'm sorry. I'm sorry. They made me do it."

"Who?" Peter asked, pushing the guy up and taking him out of the cell. "Who the hell made you do this?!"

"H-h-his name... his name is-is-i-", the guard choked out, before literally choking, his body violently thrashing, foam pouring out if his mouth. It was much too late to do anything once Peter realised just exactly what was happening, and by then, the man was dead.

"God dam- F***!!!" Peter yelled out, throwing his hands out violently. After taking a minute to cool down, he remembered that Miss. Page was still in the cell, and with a calming breath he turned back around. "Uh, M-Miss. Page? Are you okay?"

She was obviously still boiling with adrenaline and a lot of shock, but through it, she gave a small nod. "You... you saved me."

Peter chuckled, trying to calm himself in the process. "Well you know what they say: we're here to protect and to serve."

Karen gave a small laugh at that as well, and the two were soon joined by many more police men and women coming down to the scene.

 

...

 

"Explain to me and explain to me good Parker. Why the f*** are those newbie lawyers cramming shit about 'civil suits' down my throat, and how the f*** did you land in the middle of this attempted murder shitstorm?"

This was how Peter was greeted by the Captain of the 15th NYPD Precinct: Frank Castle. Honestly, he should have suspected it. Captain Castle was a gruff, no-nonsense person, whose only purpose was to make sure criminals were being arrested and his officers were doing the right thing.

"Well Captain", Peter started, sucking in a breath, "I was heading out of the station, and decided to make sure Miss. Page wasn't up to no good, and found our now-dead guard in the middle of strangling her to death. So I stepped in, got him off her, and after questioning him- or trying to at least- he started thrashing and foaming, and the next thing I know he's dead. That's it, sir."

Frank sighed, sagging into his chair. "Dammit. Can't ever have a simple goddamn night in here, can we?"

Peter simply nodded. He wouldn't mention the fact it was just past 4:30, so technically early morning. A few moments later and the Captain let out a sigh.

"Alright. You're dismissed Parker. Get outta here." Peter gave a nod again, making his way up and to the door. Just as he was about to exit though, Castle called out: "And good job officer. Miss. Page might not have made it if it weren't for you."

Peter was quiet for a moment, realising that was quite possibly true. "...thanks, Captain."

Getting out of the Captain's office, Peter went over to Mahoney, who was currently speaking to Page and the lawyers.

"Hey", he greeted everyone as he finished the distance, "What's goin' on?"

"Just discussing things", Brett sort of cryptically answered.

Foggy sighed, not amused with his old friend's words. "What Brett meant to say is Karen here was telling us about how you made a last second save. Good job by the way."

Peter waved a hand. "I er, it- it's not a big thing. I helped when I saw someone in trouble."

"You saved me Officer Parker", Karen piped up, "And you deserve to know it."

"Yeah, you did good Pete", Walters added to the conversation, giving the man a supportive look.

Peter sighed, realising everyone would play up his role either way. "Well then, thanks I guess. And please Miss. Page, call me Peter."

Karen smiled at him. "Okay Peter. Then I guess that means you can call me Karen."

Peter gave a smile of his own. "If that's what you want, Karen."

After having that little moment, Peter sighed, and reactivated his professional mode. "So, what happens now?"

With that question, everyone else entered business mode as well. "What happens now is our client gets released", Jennifer replied, doing her best not to fumble, "Because as it i-is, our client should have been charged f-four hours ago, if she is actually suspected in the crime."

"What she said", Foggy added, completely agreeing with his business partner. "So we'll all be on our way now."

Brett and Peter shared a look, the former sighing at the end of it. "I'll go inform the Captain then."

As he watched Brett go do that, Foggy and Karen started heading out as well, the two of them talking about who knows what as they went. Walters stayed behind though, and when Peter turned around again, she offered a smile. "Escort me out of the s-station, brave police officer?"

Peter chuckled as he started walking along with her. "And here I thought Jen Walters didn't need no man."

Jen laughed as she put her coat back on, quickly grabbing her things off of Parker's desk where she'd put them as well. With that they started walking towards the exit of the precinct. "You know you did a r-really good thing right; helping Ka-Karen?"

Peter sighed. "I just did what anyone would hopefully do."

Jen sighed. Leave it to Peter Parker to take a compliment. "Just thought you should hear it from a friend, you know?"

"Yeah."

The next few steps were quiet, until Walters changed the subject, asking: "How's Annie going?"

"She's good", Peter happily replied, always down to talk about his daughter, "She's really good. Her decathlon team have been wiping the floor with the other schools, and her grades are amazing. Although... she did get into a fight yesterday."

Jen looked up in surprise. "Really? Is-is she okay?"

"Yeah, she got out alright. Beat the other kid pretty good though. Then I scared the shit outta him."

"Of course you did", Jen remarked, chuckling. "Leave it to you to be a d-defender."

"You know me", Peter joked, "Officer Peter Parker: Defender." The two shared another laugh, finally exiting the station. 

As they reached her car, Jen unlocked it, turning to look at Peter as she opened the door. "Well, I guess thi-this is it then."

"Guess so", Peter agreed, then after a small pause, "You- you should come around soon Jen. Annie would love to see you again. Me too in all honesty."

Jen thought about it, then looked up at Peter with a smile. "I just might Pete. With all the 'starting up a law f-firm' stuff I've been a bit out of the loop. It's been way t-too long."

"Yeah", Peter agreed, leaning on the car's window as Jennifer started it up. "Guess I'll see you around then. Hopefully under better circumstances next time."

Jen laughed, silently agreeing. "See you around Pete."

With that, she drove away, back to her own home as Peter simply stood there, giving a small wave, a grin on his face.

"You have got it so bad." Peter jumped at the voice, and seeing it was Brett gave a hard glare as his partner started laughing.

"Seriously man? Don't scare me like that! And I do not 'have it so bad'", Peter berated, angrily crossing his arms.

Brett gave a scoff that didn't house any heat. "If you really believe that, then call me white."

Peter rolled his eyes, walking back into the station. "Wow. Gonna play the race card now Mahoney? How low."

"Sure, sure", Brett replied, chuckling as he followed his partner into the building.

 

...

 

Meanwhile, in a darker, high up construction building on the other side of Hell's Kitchen, sinister things were happening.

"When's he getting here", a man with a strong Russian accent asked his... 'partners' as they stood around. "My brother and I play along with his games, kidnap the rich man and he doesn't show up? Unacceptable."

"I'm sure he'll be here soon", the Russian's brother replied, trying to calm his sibling, "He has... many reasons for many things."

"You know", another man stated, flipping a card between his hands, his eyes obscured by crudely placed bandages, "Maybe we could have a talk with this richy-rich character first, make sure he's nice and open to the boss man's plans."

"Shut up assassin", a German woman in an odd, green ensemble of clothing and equipment snapped.

The assassin looked at her with a grin. "It's Poindexter for you, Madame."

She looked at him with disgust, focusing on the other two. "Sergei, Dmitri. Who even was the man he wanted."

The slightly younger one- Dmitri- looked at his female acquaintance in amusement. "You don't know Madame? Out of everyone, I predicted you to discover his identity." Seeing her patience thinning he sighed. "We have needed a stronger weapons manufacturer since Hammer decided this kind of business was risky, so we now have a new one. The merchant of death, I believe they call him."

The woman raised an eyebrow, turning to the unconscious man tied up behind them, his head covered by a sack. "The infamous Tony Stark. You two caught him?"

"It was a good hunt", the older Russian declared just a bit too proudly.

With that all said, the gathered people heard a tapping noise, and looking behind them saw a well dressed man walking up to them, not who they were looking for.

"The hit was a fail", the man instantly said, no greetings at all, "Miss. Page lives."

Poindexter groaned, crunching the card in his hand. "For f*** sakes, I told you to let me do it. And where the hell is the boss Wesley?"

Wesley looked at the assassin with a neutral expression. "If you remember correctly Benjamin, you have cut your eyes out in a demented quest of yours. You would have drawn attention. And my employer is busy at the moment."

The assassin frowned, deciding to ignore the second part. "I heard she was released. Can I go after her now she's not in a cell?"

Wesley slightly shook his hand. "My employer says it isn't necessary. Miss. Page isn't important anymore. The best she could do is shout hearsay from a rooftop."

The older Russian decided to speak up then. "People will believe anything these days, even hearsay. If I am implicated in any way..."

"Do not worry, Sergei", Wesley stated, "Miss. Page only had access to, not even minorly important information. You are not implicated at all."

Sergei huffed. "You best hope."

With a small lull in the conversation, the woman spoke up. "If our 'boss' is not here, what happens to Stark?"

Wesley looked up in surprise. "You two actually caught Tony Stark."

"Of course", both Russians declared almost simultaneously.

"Alright then. Viper, if you would be so kind?"

The woman nodded, going over and yanking the sack off, then slapping the man. He instantly shot up, although his restraints stopped him from jumping off the chair. Taking in his surroundings, the billionaire weapons dealer Anthony 'Tony' Stark chuckled, raising an eyebrow at the appearance of Viper. "I uh- I don't remember calling a dominatrix."

She glared at him hard, causing the billionaire to laugh. Viper punched him hard. That shut him up.

Wesley walked over. "Mr. Stark, it is an honour to meet you."

Tony looked suspiciously at the man, his eye slightly twitching from the recent hit. "And who the hell are you?"

"My name is unimportant at this moment. All you need to know is that my employer would like to use your services."

"Seriously", the billionaire asked, "Because I can tell you, the next Stark Phone is still in development and it's gonna take a while to get it fully-"

"That is not what I mean and you know it", Wesley sighed to the giggling Stark. "He needs your weapons."

At that, Tony became serious. "Well I doubt your boss is the President so the answer's a hard no."

Wesley grimaced, taking a breath. "My employer will not take no for an answer, Mr. Stark."

"Sucks for him then", Tony snarked, much to the annoyance of everyone except Wesley. The man instead sighed, the sound almost sad in a small way.

"If it must come to this", he muttered, then turned to the billionaire and said: "Mr. Stark, when was the last time you were arrested?"

Tony shrugged, not quite sure what was going on now. "About... seven- no, eight months now."

Wesley made a thinking sound. "And you still check in with a parol officer?"

"Yes", Tony slowly answered, a small concern in the back of his mind.

"And the officer's name is... Potts. Pepper Potts correct?" No answer. "I will assume that is a yes and carry on. You see Mr. Stark, I ask this because people who work for my employer are tasked to learn things like that, and they have informed him that you and Miss. Potts have a bond that is... currently more than platonic."

"What's your point?" Tony spat, sure he knew the answer, but dreading it nonetheless.

"The point, Mr. Stark, is that if an... accident were to happen to her that was directly tied to you, the worst would be assumed, and I would predict not only would you suffer major criticism, but you would also lose you company, and with your personal history, jail would be the next step. So Mr. Stark, I'll ask again, for the sake of Miss. Potts. Will you supply my employer with weapons?"

For a long while, there was relative silence. Sergei and Dmitri stared in curiosity, Viper scoffed in boredom, Poindexter tapped against his leg in impatience and Wesley waited, arms crossed in wait of an answer. Finally though...

"Okay. I'll give him weapons", Tony agreed, his voice extremely shaky and tired, "But can you... can you at least tell me his name?"

Wesley smiled. "You can call him Kingpin."

Chapter Text

At this current point in time, all that could be heard down the halls were the sounds of hostile physical contact, grunts, groans and many different breakages. 

All thanks to the Devil.

He rushed at his enemy, charging him hard with a shoulder, sending the guy crashing into the wall behind him. It was weak plaster too, so not only did he get the pain of hitting hard into a wall, but the added 'bonus' of sailing through it was well. The man tried getting up, only to be kicked in the side, then a boot planted onto his neck. 

"Where. Is. The. Kid?" The Devil slowly demanded, applying just a bit more pressure with every word. His enemy gasped, and once he knew his weak attacks to free himself were futile, decided to talk.

"He's-he's not here- he's in..." The man trailed off, hearing the opening of a door behind him. "Oh, you're f***ed now, man."

The Devil looked at him, the top half of his face obscured under a strange fabric or something. He showed a dark grin then said: "I'll see about that."

He then stomped on the guy's face, knocking him out. As he did that, he was spotted by his new opponents who all jumped to attention at his appearance, holding up their fists. The Devil just grinned again.

"Come get some", he said, "If you think you're hard enough."

They all charged him at once...

 

 

Thirteen hours ago

Peter couldn't help but grin at Annie's surprised look at seeing him coming to pick her up from school. It was probably because he was still in his police uniform and all the kids were murmuring to each other about it.

"Dad", she said with a whole lot of exasperation, "What's this?"

"What do you mean", he asked. "I can't come and pick up the coolest kid ever from school?"

She looked at him in alarm, quickly spouting: "No! No, you can pick me up, I just thought you'd still be at work."

Peter shrugged. After the events last week of him saving Karen, Castle had said he could cut back a little bit for a week or two, and after Peter had directly ignored that, the Captain had used his passive aggressive way of forcing him to. It annoyed Peter a lot that he'd been given a free pass for such a small thing, and it didn't help everyone at the station was talking about him like some legend.

The only good thing was that he'd been able to see Annie a bit more during the week than he usually could, and while that made him so happy, it also made him feel horrible for actually knowing and accepting he didn't see his daughter enough.

He was finally taken out of these thoughts though once Annie asked: "So are we just taking the train home?"

"Unless you wanna walk", Peter offered, to which his daughter laughed.

"I'd rather the train, dad."

"Wow. And here I thought you kids liked the views of New York. I remember when I was a kid at St. Agnes, we'd take trips to Coney Island. Those were the days."

There was not much elaboration on that as they got onto a train, riding it to the closest stop to Hell's Kitchen. Once they reached it, they got off and headed home. 

"Hey dad", Annie asked as the two of them reached the last stretch, their house down the road, "What do you think of vigilantes?"

Peter turned his head to his daughter, a surprised expression on his face. "That's a very strange question Annie. Why do you ask?"

She shrugged. "There's just this talk at school. Some senior girl got attacked here, and some 'man in black' saved her. Punched the guy out and everything."

Peter froze. That girl he'd helped the other week went to school?! And his kid's school no less! He took a moment to process this realisation, then turned with a carefree expression. "Vigilantes... vigilantes are sometimes, and I stress that sometimes, a necessary nuisance."

"I don't get it", Annie replied. Peter took a breath.

"Well, obviously I'm not fully for vigilantism 'cause I'm a cop, but those guys can also do things I can't, like saving that girl. So even though the guy did a good thing helping out, he shouldn't do it again. And I got a good feeling this man in black was a one time thing."

Annie sighed. "Okay... I guess that kinda makes sense."

Peter shrugged. "Yeah. Maybe I'm just not the best guy to ask."

"You're a good person to ask dad. I was just thinking though..."

"What were you thinking?"

She took a breath before fully turning to her father, a sure expression covering her face. "I think that maybe- even if it's a nuisance- a place like Hell's Kitchen could use a vigilante. And that doesn't mean I don't think you and uncle Brett and all the other cops don't do a good job, I more mean sometimes a thing that happened that wasn't stopped, could be with the intervention of a guy like the man in black."

As they finally arrived at their house, Peter went to unlock the door, sighing as he thought over Annie's explanation. 

"Maybe you're right", Peter said, "But think about this. What if the man in black- or anyone who tries being a vigilante, what if they have kids, or a husband or wife, and they're the only person who can look after those they care about. What happens if they go out there and then something happens to them. They've left their loved one or ones alone, all because they thought saving one random person was more important than getting back to people they really care about?"

"But..." Annie tried to come up with an argument to that, but couldn't. She thought about it, and if her dad was a vigilante, and he got... he didn't come back, there would be noone to be there for her. She'd get sent away. Or even worse, she became a vigilante. If she got killed out there... she didn't even want to think what that would do to her father. "Okay, you're right dad. I think I just got excited at the thought of some guy going around helping people, like someone from a comic."

Peter chuckled as he closed the door, the both of them now inside. "Have you been reading those- what are they called?- Spider-Man comics again?"

Annie just gave a guilty smile, nodding as well. Peter laughed.

"You rascal, try reading a regular book instead. Something from Bill Nye maybe."

Annie just laughed. Not in a million years. 

 

...

 

"-so to get the overall factor, I do... this?"

"Sure is", Peter replied, looking down at Annie's homework. It had been an interesting discovery, her shirking the maths part.

Annie groaned. "Why is math so difficult?"

Peter just gave a sympathetic look. "Maybe it's a test to tell who the aliens should abduct."

Annie turned to her dad, a grin overtaking her face. "That makes too much sense."

Peter grinned as well. "I've gotta be careful, have I? Might get taken by the government."

Annie started to laugh after that was said, and once she calmed down, she started doing her work again, Peter right next to her, helping with the more complex questions. After about another half hour, his phone started playing a certain police-themed song, him answering almost immediately.

"What's the problem Brett?"

"We've got a kidnapping."

Peter frowned. "We're more the homicide guys though. Why are we on this?"

"I don't know. I'm not the rule maker, we just are", Brett replied with a small trace of annoyance. "Just come down to the station. Captain wants us on it now."

Peter groaned. "Seriously? I've finally got some time with Annie, and he wants me there?!"

"Like I said man", Mahoney repeated, not bothering to hide how guilty he was about dragging Peter down to work, "I'm not the rule maker."

"...Alright. I'll be there soon", Peter sighed after a few moments. He hung up, then turned to Annie, already feeling his guilt, and that asshole feeling he knew was too harsh but wouldn't stop anyway coming up. "Annie, I'm really, really sorry, but I've got to go down to the station. There's been a-"

"It's okay dad", Annie cut in, "It's your job, and it's an important one. I'll just try to figure this out on my own."

Peter sighed, a small smile on his face. He didn't deserve this kid at all. "Thank you. And know no matter what you can call me if something happens. And if by some miniscule chance I don't pick up, call Brett or Foggy or Jen."

"Okay. But what about Matt?" Annie remarked with a grin. Peter just chuckled.

"I would say call Matt, but I don't think a blind man could help defend you if there was trouble."

Annie simply nodded, giggling at her smarty pants question while Peter threw his police uniform on, giving his daughter a strong hug just after. "Okay, bye Annie. Hopefully I'll be home soon."

"Bye dad", Annie said with a wave, watching her dad leave.

 

...

 

As Brett drove along the streets, Peter reviewed their small amount of information.

"Victim's name is... Jason McNamara. Si- Holy shit- six years old?! Missing for 52 hours. Last seen on his way home, in Hell's Kitchen." Peter sighed. "And I get anxious letting a fifteen year old walk home."

"So what do you think, Parker", Brett asked, going down one of the back roads, scanning the boarded up buildings.

Peter sighed again, thinking about who could've done this. "How was the kid's family? His parents divorced?"

"No. When I went and interviewed them, perfectly married and happy", Brett replied, still scanning, also keeping an eye on the road.

"So it wouldn't be some f***ed up parent problem. So it was probably a gang right? But who's into taking kids? Usually we see the homeless picked off the streets..."

"As much as I don't want to admit it, we could be looking at a pedophile", Brett reluctantly suggested, silently giving the scanning job to his partner. "Or it was just some messed up person picking him up off the street."

Peter was silent for a long time. Eventually though, he stated: "We should talk to some of our informants, see if they've got anything."

Mahoney nodded. "Sounds like a plan."

With that, Peter called up the first of a quite large list both him and Brett had gained over the years of informants. The call ended in failure, the informant not knowing anything about it. The next lot ended similarly, the pattern carrying on for most of the time until until finally, they got a hit.

"You're lookin' for a kid", the informant asked.

"Obviously", Peter snapped. He heard the man sigh.

"Well I know where one kid is stashed. Don't know if it's your one though."

"Just tell us", Peter decided to go with, trying to take his mind off what could possibly be multiple child kidnappings.

"Down at the docks", the informant supplied, then hung up.

Peter sighed himself, putting the phone away then turning to Brett. "He said the kid's at the docks."

Brett gave a nod, then turned the car, heading in the direction of the docks now.

 

...

 

The docks were a bust.

Peter and Brett had searched all the dock houses in Hell's Kitchen, and slightly branched further out for about an hour, but it was all for nothing in the end.

Now they were back at the 15th Precinct, attempting to figure out what to do from here.

"We could check tomorrow?" Peter suggested, but he already knew it was a useless one. Brett sadly shook his head.

"All we've got is bust. I doubt it'll be different tomorrow. We should start searching different areas by then."

"Yeah. You're probably right", Peter sadly admitted. The two sat in silence for a few minutes, until Peter decided to check the time. "Well, our shift is over now, so I guess we should head out, hopefully come back with clearer heads."

"Sounds like the only plan we have anyways", Brett remarked, going along with it anyways. "See you tomorrow then."

"See ya."

With that, the two headed out, accepting their failure for now. 

 

...

 

Peter was back at the docks.

He'd gone home for a couple of hours, letting his emotions roll and boil up, helping Annie out with the small things she had to do and then said goodnight. The next thing he did was say 'screw it' and leave.

He'd changed into an all black ensemble: black sweater, dark pants, boots, and an old pair of gardening gloves he'd found. Peter figured it was worth it just in case something happened involving his fingerprints.

He'd gone along the dark, back alleys, eventually making it back to the docks.

So far, nothing.

Peter checked the time. It was quarter to three in the morning. He'd definitely chosen a 'good' time, especially seeing as how it was a school night.

With no activity to speak of, he'd made his way up an apartment's fire escape that was just across from the docks and set up, waiting to find the kidnapped boy.

 

...

 

Meanwhile, the child in question was in total fear.

"I want to go home", the child whimpered, huddling as close to himself as he could. The man across from him in the van scoffed.

"You are not going home ever", he said, but the kid didn't understand. The man guessed the child didn't understand German. His loss.

The van continued along its path, a few bumps and stops along the way. Each bump would cause the boy to whimper or sniffle, and each stop would cause the man to curse. At one particularly long stop, the man leaned towards the front of the vehicle.

"What's the hold up", he asked. The man driving shrugged.

"Traffic", he replied. The guy in the back groaned.

"Why did the Madame want this child?"

"I don't know, but we have him now."

"Do you think she will sell him, or sacrifice him for her cult?"

°Heinrich, the Madame is not part of a cult. Her organization is more... nazi, in my opinion."

Heinrich groaned again. "Wonderful. We work for a nazi."

He driver shrugged. "At least the pay is good."

Heinrich shrugged as well. It was a good point. A little longer later, and they were on the move again, until they finally reached their destination.

"Get up", Heinrich demanded of the child, using English for the runt. "Now."

With moist eyes, the boy complied, standing up and silently following the man. 

Little did they know the whole scene had been observed from above.

 

...

 

Peter sighed, checking the time. It was four now. With a pang, he realised this was useless and went to wrap it up.

But then he heard the van.

Looking over the edge of the building, he just managed to see a van pull into one of the dock houses. It was too far and too dark, but he was sure he saw two figures, one tall and one small.

It had to be the kid.

Going over to the fire escape, he slid down the ladder, stopping at the next one. He realised his face was exposed. He couldn't risk being properly seen, and he doubted he could simply stay in the shadows with this. He wouldn't be that lucky twice.

Going over to the window, he peeked in and saw a miracle... well, a miracle might be pushing it. Conveniently placed on the desk right next to the window was a large stretch of fabric, one that he could definitely use. Opening the window as quickly and quietly as possible, he successfully pulled that off and grabbed the material, closing the window immediately after.

With that in hand, he observed it for a moment before putting his hope into practice. He wrapped it around the entire top half of his face; from the nose and over the top of the head. Tieing it off, he breathed a sigh of relief at the fact he could still see quite good with it on, then went down the rest of the ladders, finally hitting the floor.

It was time.

Running across the street, he stopped at the fence that separated the dock from the street. He leant up and peeked over the top, surveying the area. All that was there was a van that looked to be empty. Peter nodded to himself, then jumped up, getting into just the right position to flip over the rest of the fence.

Silently landing on the other side, he bent down low and quietly ran along the border of the dock. Still no sign of anything. With that, he made a beeline straight for the dock house the van was next to, climbing up the large boxes stacked next to it until he was at a window.

Now having a view of the inside of the building, Peter gave a mental cheer scream of rage. The kid wasn't there, but there were a whole bunch of others, all lined up by a man who was pointing a gun at them.

Peter felt something happen. He wasn't the friendly police officer Peter Parker anymore, now he was something else, something angry.

A Devil.

Opening the window, he slid through onto a beam above the children and the man. Carefully walking along it, he positioned himself just right, exactly right on top of the man.

And then he jumped.

He took a breath, he fell through the air. He let it out, and the man was panicking beneath him.

A shot was fired and the children ran. Good. None of them looked injured either. Better. Peter felt a wet spot on his arm. Not good. The kids were still in the building. Even worse.

With that realisation and hesitation, the man violently thrashed, throwing Peter off him. Peter tumbled to the floor as the man got his gun up again. "Who are you", he screamed. Peter noted a strong German accent. He decided to play a bluff.

"Heinrich?" Peter asked in a surprised tone. The man froze. Peter froze. He'd just made the biggest fluke ever. Before the other could recover, he continued. "Heinrich, the boss sent me."

"Madame Viper?"

Peter noted that name. A child kidnapper named Madame Viper. It stood out. "Yeah, the Madame sent me to get a kid."

"Which one", the man asked, actually fooled by the bluff. Peter didn't understand how though. What kind of people did this Viper woman deal with if her men weren't fazed by a man in black covering his face?

"It's a boy. Around six, and from Hell's Kitchen."

 The German looked at the children who had huddled into a corner after realising they couldn't escape. Peter counted five. "He's not here."

"Where can I find him?"

"What... what exactly do you do for Madame Viper", Heinrich asked in a suspicious tone. Shit. Peter knew his bluff was just about to be called. 

Peter leapt forward, hitting the German with a hard jab to his jaw, sending his stumbling backwards. Peter instantly leapt again, grabbing the gun out of his hand, unloading it and throwing it away. "None of that."

With the German recovered, he lunged forward, hitting Peter with a knee right in the gut. He wheezed, and the man pushed him hard into a pole. Peter hit it worth force, close to bouncing off, although ultimately falling to the floor. He went to push himself up but was kicked in the face, something now searing in pain and his blood spraying out of his mouth.

Heinrich continued kicking him, all the while Peter began to lose. He realised what a mistake he'd made, how he'd just left Annie alone, how he'd... he'd...

No.

He wasn't going to die.

Not if the Devil had a say.

Heinrich went to kick again, but this time Peter- no, the man in black, the Devil, grabbed his foot. The man looked in surprise, and before he could react had been yanked down and slammed right into a fist. He recoiled, holding his nose in pain. Blood poured out of it.

As he let go of his nose and went to fight back, he felt a pressure on his leg- a kick- and then the hit leg was bending weird. The man screamed in agony as the Devil grabbed his head in his hands, and smashed the German's nose again with a brutal headbutt.

With Heinrich's head still in his hands, the Devil marched him over to a wall, slamming the German's head into it over and over. 

As he let go, Heinrich pushed him. It wasn't strong, but it was enough to startle the Devil, so the German took that as his chance.

Running, although quickly limping would describe it better, he headed for the exit, but he was suddenly flung through the air and straight through a weak wall, plaster falling on top of him. As he went to get up, Heinrich felt a kick in his side and then a pressure on his neck, and looked up right into the snarling, masked face of the Devil.

"Where. Is. The. Kid?" The Devil slowly demanded, applying just a bit more pressure with every word. Heinrich tried to suck in breaths but couldn't, and realised his attacks weren't working, and he knew he'd been beat.

"He's- he's not here- he's in..." The German started, but trailed off when he heard a door open. "Oh, you're f***ed now, man."

The Devil just stared down at him, eventually saying: "I'll see about that." He then stomped hard onto the man's face, completley knocking him out. As he turned back around, he saw that hed been spotted, the new men raising their fists. A small part of him realised he must have missed a guy, but he was too focused on these enemies.

With a final snark, the men all charged at the Devil, their battle starting.

Running up to them, he jumped up, landing a clean kick right into a man's face. The guy just shot off the ground, then fell back down, messing with the guy behind him. That was the Devil's next target, as before the second man could recover he'd tackled him to the ground, pounding hit after hit into the man's head.

Once he was sure there was no second wind for the guy, he went to fight the other five men, but it was too little too late. 

Two of them ran forward, each of them grabbing one of the Devil's arms. The Devil cried out at the sudden jostling, not because of the men, but because of the earlier wound Heinrich had given him with that bullet.

The two men slammed him into a wall, the other three running up and throwing hit after hit into the Devil. With each hit he screamed out more in rage than pain, and after and few sickening thuds, the Devil freed himself.

He did this by going limp, and before the two holding him could react to the sudden change, he jumped up and launched his feet into the three punching him, forcing them tumbling back. He then pulled himself down with a scream, yanking his arms forward and sending the men crashing into the floor.

Before they could recover, he jumped over, stomping both feet on one man's head, then doing it to the other before he was caught midair and slammed into the ground himself, winding him.

The Devil gasped, trying to draw in breath, but he was too wounded and too far in shock to properly do it. The three remaining men went back to their hits, although changed it to kicking him where he gasped on the floor.

As the kicks kept coming, the Devil started to tire, and eventually he gave out completely, leaving Peter there holding his hands up in defense, trying to block the kicks.

He couldn't though, and this time he knew he wouldn't get a miracle.

But he did.

Just as the darkness of his vision was close to overtaking him, a loud crack was heard, and suddenly one of the men tumbled over Peter. He cried out in pain at that, but realised something was happening.

With the attacks stopped, he painfully rolled himself over, looking over at the children. They all had a brick in their hand, the only exception the oldest one, who was looking in shock at the now unconscious man she threw her brick at, his head bleeding profusely.

The last two men scoffed, marching up to the children. But they wouldn't be stopped. Not now. Not after what this man in black had done for them.

The rest of the kids threw their bricks, each one directly hitting a guy, sending them into a world of pain and fury.

With no more bricks hitting them, the two finished the distance, going to grab the kids, but suddenly they couldn't. Their hands were unmoving. They looked back...

Right into the empty mask of the man in black.

He offered an angry mouth, the only visible part of his face, then let go of their hands, sending his own into their faces as hard as he could.

The men tumbled forwards and into the floor, right for the kids to give them a taste of their own medicine. They all kicked and stomped on the men until the angry cries of protest turned to murmurs, and then silence. The children all stared at the men for a moment. Okay, they were still breathing, their chests were heaving.

Suddenly they heard a clang, and looked up just in time to see the man in black crash through a box of foam. "Arrr youuusss okay", he slurred, shakily pointing at them. 

The oldest ran up to him, the younger ones not far behind. 

"We're okay mister, but how about you", she asked. The man in black looked around, his mask making it impossible to tell what exactly he was though.

"Geewd enuf", he said as he tumbled again, just in time for the girl to catch him. "Whooo r yooo?"

The girl looked at him in surprise. "Me? Um, m-my name is Lorina. Lorina Dodson."

The man in black giggled. "Heh heh, Dodson. Dobson. Bobson."

Lorina gave the man a worried look. "You need a hospital."

Suddenly, and quiet scarily to the kids, the man completely lost his slur, looming them dead on and saying. "No. No hospitals. I can't risk it."

The kids quickly agreed, not quite sure what to do in this situation to begin with. Eventually though the man in black started walking again, leading them to the wide door and he pushed it open with a yell. He then motioned them to come out of the building. They complied, all filing out.

"Wait", the man in black suddenly blurted, "Jason! Was there another kid with you?"

"There was!" Lorina piped up. "He was a short one, and for some reason those men put him in a different room from us."

Peter processed that, then stumbled his way into the dock house again. Dodson followed him, a firm grip on his arm and guiding him to the room.

About what was probably half way there, she looked up at him. "Hey mister, what's your name? What do we call you?"

Peter thought about that for about minute and decided to just go with it. "My name is Peter. But if your parents or anyone else asks, just call me the man in black, okay?"

"Okay", Lorina agreed. "Now this is the room here, mister Peter."

He gave a nod, and after attempting to open the door and seeing it was locked, motioned for her to get back then kicked it in. There was a terrified whimper at that, and when Peter went inside the room, saw the kidnapped boy in there, Jason.

"Please don't take me", he stuttered out through his tears at seeing Peter's dark, beaten and bloodied appearance, "I want to go home."

"Hey hey. It's okay kid", he quietly soothed the boy, "I'm not here to hurt you. I wanna get you out, right back to your dad."

"R-really?"

"Really."

The kid seemed to calm down at that, but when Peter approached he slunk away, still terrified. Peter made a soft sigh, not angry with the child, and raised his hands.

"Look, I'm just a regular guy", Peter told Jason as he took his mask off. The boy still looked scared, but when the mask was fully off, he seemed to calm down a little. "Just a regular guy. And you know what Jason?"

"W-What?" Jason asked.

"I'm a dad too, so I promise I'll reunite you with yours, okay?"

The boy nodded, accepting it when Peter went over to pick him up. With Jason now secure and clinging to his side, Peter started to move again, stopping a few steps from the door, putting his mask back on.

When he heard a few sniffles from Jason, he turned with a warm smile. "Don't worry buddy, it's still me, it's just so I trick people into thinking I'm someone else."

"Like Spider-Man?" Jason asked. Peter couldn't help but laugh, slightly exaggerating his tone and nod.

"Just like Spider-Man."

At that Jason smiled, and they exited the room. Peter was immediately met with Lorina coming up to him in alarm, her quickly saying: "Mister Peter, the police are here!"

Peter groaned, then looked between Jason and Lorina. "Okay buddy", he said to the boy, "I need you to go with my friend Lorina here, okay? She's very nice."

"Okay", he reluctantly agreed, letting go of Peter when he set him down. "What about my dad?"

Peter kept his warm smile up. "Don't worry buddy. The nice police people will make sure you get back to him."

Jason gave a small nod, and then waved as Peter started walking away, going over to the boxes to climb back out the window.

"Hey man in black", Lorina called out just as he started climbing. He looked back and she gave him a grateful look. "Thank you for saving us."

Peter simply nodded as he continued his climb, which later turned into stumbling over rooftops, even if he did eventually make it to his destination.

With a small joy at the fact he saved not one, but five kids from whatever that could of been, he was quickly met with the realisation of what he'd done. He'd messed with the plans of some unknown German gang, with a woman named Madame Viper as it's leader. He'd also done the one thing he'd promised himself would be a one off. But he knew now; sometimes a necessary nuisance was needed to do good, sometimes a place like Hells Kitchen needed a man to go over the rules of the law to do what the police couldn't.

Peter knew Hell's Kitchen needed a hero, a vigilante...

A Devil.

 

...

 

After the events of the night had concluded and the man in black was throwing himself across the buildings to get to his destination, a lone figure watched him, close enough to see but far enough to not be found.

The figure- a woman- sighed as she watched him leap down and away, then turned back to look at the docks, where a large number of police cars, officers and of course the children were hanging around. She sighed to herself.

"Oh Parker, my протеже, what have you done now?"

Turning back in the direction the vigilante had gone, she slightly followed, eventually branching off in her own direction. The woman knew where Peter would be and what he would be doing. Of course she did though, her old protégé could be read like a book- at least to her. She'd meet him again soon. She'd make sure...

The Devil would soon reunite with the Widow!

Chapter Text

"Breaking news viewers! There's a new sheriff in town, and he's certainly a Devil!"

Peter groaned as he listened to the news, doing up his tie as Annie watched in curiosity. The watching was of course mixed with backwards looks of worry to her father though. She'd woken up that morning to her dad limping in the kitchen, band aids, bandages and even an ice pack stuck to his arm. 

Peter had had to explain his condition to her, saying he went out for a walk last night, and had gotten jumped by some thugs. Luckily Annie had bought it, and his new- apparent celebrity status on the Devil side- night job had stayed a secret. 

Now though, as they both watched the news, Peter was getting ready to head down to the station, where the Captain had set up a thing for the NYPD's statement on this new vigilante. Peter already knew without a doubt Castle was about to crucify the man in black, AKA: him. But he was looking on the bright side; the Captain had waited until midday to have the meeting, so he'd gotten a few hours of sleep.

"-at approximately four thirty last night, six children, all aged between six to thirteen years old and all kidnapping victims, were rescued from their kidnappers by the man in black, who sources say-"

"Hey, can you turn that off please", Peter asked his daughter, fed up with the media inspection. "Or turn it down a little at least. My head is ringing!"

Annie turned around from where she sat on the couch, and gave a worried look as Peter tried to groan as quietly as possible as he slid a suit jacket on. "Maybe you should go to the hospital dad. I'm sure Captain Castle would understand."

"Nah, it's fine Annie, I just need a minute to get back on my feet", Peter waved off. "Plus, you should be getting ready too. Aren't you meeting Cindy there."

"Yeah."

"Well prepararte, hija", Peter exclaimed with a motion, Annie lightly laughing as she got up and went to change.

Once she was upstairs and in her room, Peter finally let a full groan come out, wincing as he moved to the cabinet. He pulled out some aspirin and took it, and slightly pulled his sleeve up to servey his bullet wound.

He'd spent most of the early morning patching himself up, and had disposed of the bullet after pulling it out just before Annie had walked down the stairs earlier. 

He moved over to a mirror they kept next to the door, and took in his appearance. He totally looked professional, no lying there. He sported a black eye, a bruise at the end of his jaw, right under his ear, and a small bandage on the side of his forehead. Those Germans had definitely done a number on him last night. He needed armour. That thought made him laugh though; only able to picture himself jumping across buildings in a suit of knight's armour.

Not long after, Annie came back down, now out of her pj's and wearing much more proper clothes. She threw her hands to the side with a large grin on her face, then turned to Peter. "Vamos, padre!"

Peter laughed. He knew he'd one day regret teaching Annie Spanish.

 

...

 

Now outside the front of the police station, Peter stood next to Brett and a few other officers, with the Captain in front, standing at the podium with all the microphones in his face. The real image of an ex-NAVY police Captain with a million microphones in his face drew a smile to Peter's face, although the action sent a small slap of pain across as well.

Castle cleared his throat, just about to start his speech.

"Here comes the Captain's diss track on the man in black", Peter joked, getting a snort from Brett. The other officers were severely unamused.

"Alright", Castle started, looking out at all the reporters, "You obviously all know why and what we're here for, so I'll get right to it. The 15th Precinct- as well as all the other NYPD Precincts, do not and will never condone the actions of vigilantism. It is a serious offense that will be met with just as serious action."

At that, all the reporters started clamouring to get a word in, but Frank put a hand up, shushing them all. "But, seeing as how the vigilante saved all those kids, my superiors have told me that we're offering a one time deal. Vigilante, you are to either give yourself up to the proper authorities immediately, or never show your face again. Uncooperative behaviour will result in this department taking you in on sight."

Peter grimaced at the ultimatum, already knowing he couldn't comply to either of those. He'd made his choice when he saved those kids, and he wasn't planning on changing it anytime soon.

With that second part added, the Captain accepted a few questions, then eventual the statement was done and the reporters moved off, leaving the police and a few other people in the area. Three of those people in particular, going up to Peter. He noted Brett had already walked off.

"Hey Pete", Jen greeted with a small wave, "Th-That's a pretty bi-big order Castle's giving."

"Yeah", he agreed, slightly groaning at the pain when he tried to cross his arms, "Wonder if the guy'll actually listen."

"The man in black? I don't think so", Foggy huffed, and Peter instantly realised the lawyer wasn't for vigilantism- or maybe just this one in particular. "What about you Matt? What's your opinion on the man in black.

At that, the third member of Nelson, Murdock and Walters, the blind lawyer Matt Murdock, turned to 'look' at his friends. With a vacant smile he said: "Honestly? I think he's alright. But regarding the order? I don't think he'll follow."

"You think so?" Peter asked.

Matt shrugged, turning in Peter's general direction, almost looking him directly in the eye. "Seems like the kind of guy who's doing this for a reason."

"Seriously?" Foggy said. "Did you read the report of what happened. The guy stomped a few of the kidnappers head in, broke a collection of bones, and from what I've heard, actually disabled one guy. Doesn't sound like he has a reason to me."

Peter mentally flinched at that. He definitely hadn't meant to do that.

"Look on the bright side Foggy", Matt added, "They were all criminals. And child kidnappers. Who knows what might have happened if our resident man in black hadn't shown up when he did."

"That sounded sarcastic."

"A little", Matt sighed, "Because I don't think one man should be the judge and jury. Who knows when he'll become executioner as well. And you never know when you'll mess with the wrong people, being a lone vigilante."

"How do you know he-he's alone?" Jen asked with the smallest bit of suspicion.

Matt smiled. "Just a hunch."

After that, the four of them conversed about a few other things, until the lawyers eventually decided to leave. While Matt and Foggy moved away, Jen stayed behind to have a more one-on-one talk with Peter.

"H-Hey Pete, are you okay?" Jen started off with, because it was hard not to worry when his face was halfway to being fully purple. He sighed, then let out a small chuckle.

"I'm alright Jen, but thanks for asking. I just got in some... trouble last night. Got jumped by a like, three guys." It was actually six possible human traffickers, but that wasn't important. Jen made an expression Peter didn't quite understand, but it was close enough to worry so he went with it. "I'm serious. I'm okay."

"... if you s-say so", she reluctantly agreed, only because she'd known Peter long enough to know that's all she'd get. Jen took a breath, then put on her best smile. "So Pete, I-I was thinking abo-about what you said the o-other day."

Peter did his best to hide his grin, really hoping he was thinking about the right conversation. "You were?"

"Yes. A-and I think I'll ta-take you up on the offer of visiting. If-if that's okay."

At that, Peter let his grin come fully out. "It's okay. It's... it's awesome actually. Just come over whenever you want."

"Would this afternoon be okay?"

"Yeah, that's good. I finish work at four, but Annie will probably be home just after three."

"Cool", Jen remarked. "I have work until three thirty, so I'll get there maybe just before four."

"Okay!" Peter chuckled, dusting his hands off of nothing. "Guess I'll see you then."

"Yeah, s-see you then Pete." And then in a move that surprised Peter- but one he wasn't against- Jen moved closer and gave him a quick hug, which he happily accepted. Once that was done, she said a small goodbye and caught up to her colleagues who had decided to wait. Probably to eavesdrop and later make fun of their partner. 

Unfortunately for Peter, he didn't notice the blushing that crossed Jen's face, but he did his best to make sure his wasn't noticed on that end. Once the lawyers had fully gone, Peter took one last look out at the roads opposite the station, then made his way back in.

It was twelve thirty now. Just a few more hours. He could make it.

 

...

 

Meanwhile, in a safe house on the other side of town, a woman- the Widow- shut off the news as her... guest regained consciousness. She stood up, and while she walked over to her 'guest', silently chuckled about how her protégé's vigilantism was going.

"Oh... wh-where am I?" The 'guest' asked, blindfolded and disoriented. The Widow was now right in front of him, and squat down so they were eye level, more for her than him.

"Mr. Dillon? Max Dillon?" She sported a light New Yorker's accent, but it didn't sound quite right. Maybe because it was faked.

Dillon spat to the side, an angry look on his face. "Who the f***'s asking?"

"It doesn't matter", Widow replied, keeping her eyes on the blindfold. "But what does matter is a job you ran. A kidnapping in Hell's Kitchen. A child, about six or so years old. You were tasked to take him by some Germans. You gave him over then disappeared... for a small while."

Max's expression went to one of surprise, before going back to hostile. "So what? It pays good and they don't add any unnecessary bullshit."

"I don't care what the do or don't give you", Widow snapped, "All I need is the child's name and whatever you know about your recent employers."

Dillon scoffed. "And you think I'd give that all up why? I'm no snitch, bitch."

Widow scoffed, moving up and over to a table. "I don't have time for this Mr. Dillon. You either comply willingly, or I use other methods to get what I want."

Dillon scoffed again. "Woman, I'll tell you what. You pay me, and the info's yours. Easy."

The woman stared at him for a moment, then shrugged. "You're right. It is easy. Unfortunately for you, I feel like going the hard way today."

With that, she grabbed the the first of many needles and advanced on Dillon.

 

...

 

As Annie finished up the last of her homework, she heard a sudden knock at the door. She didn't jump in surprise though. Of course not...

Going over, she peeked as stealthily through the window as she could first, just in case. Despite her father apparently growing up in a very Catholic environment in his later teen years and being very okay with it, he'd always told her never open the door to church goers. It always ended in them preaching and selling you the bible. It made Annie wonder if he had something against all that Jesus stuff. She didn't, but she didn't believe either.

Anyways, she got a good peek, and she was very happily surprised at just who was there. Annie pulled the door open, and before the other could react, she'd wrapped them in a hug. "Jenny! It's so good to see you, it's been forever!"

Jen just smiled, putting her arms around Annie as well. "I-It's good to see you as well, An-Annie."

As Annie eventually pulled away, she gave another smile, noting: "You're stuttering isn't as bad as it used to be."

Jen laughed. "It's always gon-gonna be bad Annie, I-I've just learned t-to enunciate better."

Annie nodded, understanding for the most part. "That's really good then. I'm happy for you Jenny."

Jen smiled. "I'm happy too. It defi-definitely helps when I'm on the stand."

"I'll bet", Annie remarked, causing the both of them to laugh. After calming down, Annie realised she should actually let Jen in and did that. As Jen took up a spot on the couch, Annie went to go get some drinks- AKA: water, the only beverage in the house- like a proper host. While doing that she called out from the kitchen: "Dad still has work for a little longer today by the way. It's a short day today though, so that's cool."

"He told me that", Jen informed, "B-But I thought we could catch u-up for a little until he gets h-here."

Annie simply gave a nod as she handed over one of the glasses of water. "Sounds good to me."

"Awesome", Jen stated with a grin. "Okay, first of-off, I want to hear all about y-your school stuff..."

 

...

 

Peter huffed as he walked up the small driveway of his house- even though he didn't own a car- right up to the front door. He'd been held back for another twenty minutes and was not happy about it at all. He'd been really looking forward to spending some time with Jen, and also Annie for course, without work in the way and... other reasons concerning Jen.

But as he opened the door he saw he hadn't royally ruined everything, as the two females seemed to be having a good time. They were laughing about something, and Peter hoped it was the funniest thing ever after he saw a wet spot on the carpet he just knew Annie had made. He'd learned long ago not to say anything remotely funny around his daughter while she was drinking.

"H-Hey dad", Annie cheerfully greeted, her laughter slowing down, but definitely not stopping.

"Hey Pete", Jen also greeted, a huge smile on her face. "H-How was work?"

"It was good", Peter answered after a moment, slowly taking his jacket and tie off, then rolling up his sleeves, throwing his just mentioned clothing onto a spare chair. "Brett got spooked by a bird lady. It was hilarious. Although he did almost hit a pigeon out of the sky, so maybe not so hilarious."

That didn't seem to deter anyone, as Annie just went back to hysterically laughing, Jen putting a hand over her mouth to stop the giggles. "I hope the bir-bird is oka-kay then", she said, "But your day sounds mu-much more interes-resting than mine."

"Ah, come on Jen, share with the class. Me and Annie will decide", he stated as he moved down to sit next to the woman, a quiet groan escaping as he slid down just a tad too fast. 

"Eh, I-I just reviewed cases with F-Foggy. Matt checked on Ka-Karen though, so he was o-out."

Peter slightly perked at that, asking: "How is Karen by the way? I meant to check in with her after everything but got a little... sidetracked."

Jen shrugged. "From what I gather, she's o-okay. It took so-some rearranging and getting u-used to, but she's gotten back to her normal activities."

Peter nodded, happy that she'd been able to recover after almost getting killed. It was a big thing, and the small time in which she recovered was amazing to Peter. Annie on the other hand, was just plain confused and nudged the lawyer. "Jenny, who's Karen?"

Jen looked at her with surprise for a moment before recovering. "Oh uh, Karen is the wo-woman your dad saved the other week."

That time Annie gave a nod, remembering now. Before anything else could be talked about, there were a few knocks on the door. Annie started to get up, but her father beat her to it. 

Getting up and heading over to the door. Peter opened it. "Hi. How can I help..." Peter slowed, until he was completely silent.

She was here.

At his house.

The Widow.

Taking a large breath, he looked her dead in the eye, and in a quiet and dark voice asked: "What the hell are you doing here?!"

The Widow shrugged. "I'm not allowed to visit my протеже?"

He looked at her hard, no form of positivity in his demeanour. He'd let the Devil take this one. "No Natasha, no you're not. Especially since you left what? Fif- sixteen years ago? So I'll ask again. Why. Are. You. Here?"

Widow sighed, dropping that gross accent she despised, reverting to her natural Russian one. "I need you help протеже. An... enemy of mine- ours has showed up in Hell's Kitchen. You're the only one who can help."

Peter scoffed. "Is this 'enemy' of yours supposed to be part of the top-secret bullshit you'd never tell me about, even after spending three whole years together?!" When she didn't say anything, her expression neutral, Peter scoffed. "That's what I thought. Just... call the police or do it yourself. I want nothing to do with you."

"Protégé..." Natasha called as Peter started to close the door, stopping him at the last moment, her voice now just as serious as his and much more resolute. "Man in black, Jason McNamara is involved in this."

Peter stopped, deathly still. How did she...? Peter grimaced, groaned and sighed. Of course she knew he was the man in black. And now he was going to fall back into her web, no way out. "If I even ponder helping you, what would you have me do?"

The Widow removed her hand from the door, resuming her perfect posture and crossing her arms. "Well, if my information is correct, we'll need to possibly infiltrate a building, and then you'd help me take down the security."

Peter washed that over in his head. "And is this an illegal infiltration?"

The Widow scoffed. "протеже, everything is illegal depending on the perspective, but if you mean are they innocent? No. All criminals."

Peter groaned. He didn't believe her one bit, and a headache was coming on. "Jason. Wh-What does this have to do with Jason?"

The Widow gave a most obviously fake smile. "Why, everything protégé. The building belongs to the people who kidnapped the boy."

"The Germans? The woman- what was her name- Madame Viper?"

Widow's expression became confused for the smallest of moments before becoming neutral again. "No. And I've never heard of the woman before. No, this has to do with the Kravinoff brothers: Sergei and Dmitri."

"Serge- who?"

Widow sighed, exasperation filling her following words. "Sergei Kravinoff and Dmitri Smerdyakov-Kravinoff, two Russian immigrants. Sergei used to be a hunter while Dmitri was a method actor. Now they run most of the Russians; whether it be hits or kidnappings, theft or identity theft. They're essentially the Jack-of-all-trades in this town."

Peter mulled it over. Getting to the Russians as the man in black could actually be beneficial, especially if the bosses were involved. It could potentially take them off the board, and possibly give a lead on Madame Viper. That was a big if, but it sounded like they were already working together, and the Russian and German gangs joining forces could end badly for everyone. 

Peter closed his eyes and let out a hard breath. "When? When do you want to go at them?"

"Tonight would be preferable. Or are you too busy dancing around the lawyer, or do you need to read a bedtime story to your daughter?"

At that, Peter grabbed the Widow, pushing her into the wall. The Devil was really out now.

"Listen here and listen good, Widow", he spat out each word, a look of pure fury etched onto his face, "You will never, and I mean never go anywhere near my daughter or anyone else in my life. Do you understand me?"

It wasn't a question and the Widow knew it. She pushed Peter off her, slightly dusting herself off. "Understood протеже. As long as you don't try something like that again."

Peter huffed, walking back to stand just inside his house. "Fine. Tonight. When I'm ready."

The Widow looked at him for a moment, and Peter swore he saw a quick flash of pride on her face. "Of course, protégé. We'll strike tonight. And don't forget to wear your midnight finest."

Peter glared at her, then closed the door. He reached down on his knees for at moment, letting the conversation run its course on his emotions, then walked back into the lounge room.

"Who was that dad?" Annie asked a little worried. "You were out there for a while."

Peter shrugged, slapping one of those fake grins on his face. "It was just some church person. Almost got me to buy a bible. Almost."

Annie grinned. "Wow, after all that talk of telling me to never open the door to those guys, look who did it."

Peter laughed, putting his hands up in surrender. Jen watched the interaction, and then curiously asked: "You d-don't like the chu-church, Pete?"

Peter chuckled, and went on to tell a big story all about it. He still felt a small amount of unease though, but being with these two people he honestly cared about help take his mind off the burning thought in his head temporarily. 

Because it seemed the Devil had a dangerous date with the Widow. And noone escapes a Widow's web twice!

Chapter Text

Peter jumped the last gap, crossing buildings, then came to a stop right at the end of the last one. He looked over the side. There was a building down there, probably just reaching three stories tall; big, wide windows on the sides, and a large sliding gate at the entrance. Peter would rather call it a warehouse than a building, but that's what it was apparently.

Now all he had to do was wait for the Widow.

Not that it was long. She was a professional after all, and would rather be burned alive than show up late. It was only about half a minute later she appeared, Peter almost not noticing her. She'd trained him better than that though, so he picked her up on his radar.

Turning to the Widow, he went straight to business. "This is the building? Should be easy enough."

Widow gave a hum in agreement, fiddling with her equipment. To Peter it looked like a pair of goggles, most likely with night vision knowing his 'mentor', and when she put them on and a colured hue emanated from them, he knew he was right. After doing that, Widow slung off a duffel bag she had strapped to her back, pulling out the contents after.

"Hey, no. No guns, no killing Widow", Peter quickly said after seeing the large amount of said items. The Widow turned to him and scoffed.

"Don't worry протеже, they have non lethal rounds in them", she informed, also picking out a few other items then handing them to Peter. "Here. These are much better than your equipment."

Grabbing the items, Peter saw that one was quite obviously a bulletproof vest, and the others were a thicker pair of gloves.

"The vest should keep you alive longer, and those gloves are stronger than your common pair; more cushioning on the inside and more sturdy outside. Perfect for your upfront approach."

Peter huffed as he put the vest over his black sweater, and replaced his gloves with the new ones. "Thanks, Widow."

She didn't say anything, instead focusing on emptying the bag and putting on all the contents. With both of them finally suited up, Peter pulling his mask just a bit more lower at the front, Widow simply ordered: "Let's go."

 

...

 

In all honesty, the outside of the building looked much more nicer than the inside. Inside was dark and dusty, mould everywhere, equipment everywhere. If this was supposed to be a gang's headquarters, Peter was disappointed. 

As he and the Widow silently and stealthily advanced through the buildings, sticking to the shadows, they saw two men up ahead. They were fully speaking in Russian, and Peter simply observed as his ex-mentor listened in, her head craned to the side.

"What are they talking about?" Peter whispered after a full minute had passed. Widow sighed, slowly starting to move again.

"Nothing important."

"Well that's helpful."

"It is, протеже. It means we can take them out without consequence. For now at least."

"Everything has a consequence", Peter quietly stated before they moved up right behind the men. With a shared nod, they reached up over a man each, one arm around the neck while the other hand covered their mouth. Peter and Widow pulled them into the shadows they previously occupied, dropping them down and moving forwards.

Back to their silence, they advanced through the first floor, finding nothing of value or importance. No information or incriminating materials. It was annoying.

"Are you sure this isn't a bust?" Peter impatiently asked. Sure, he wanted to take down the Russians if he had the chance, but in all honesty he'd rather be at home with his daughter than stalking around with his ex-mentor.

"Patience, protégé. We've only searched the first floor", she reminded, now going up the first flight of stairs.

Going up to the second floor, the two of them searched again, this time finding a few interesting things. There were a few logs about strange imports and exports, certain 'employees' and other small business things. Widow grabbed these and put them in the bag that previously contained her equipment.

Because it was never that easy, the Devil and Widow heard a large amount of incoming chatter, and moving just in time, were securely positioned on barely there footholds in the roof. Below, about six men entered, these ones- luckily for Peter- conversing in English.

"Sergei said the logs were in the drawer, yes?"

"He did."

"And guns next floor?"

"Yes. Were you actually listening to our order?"

"Of course, but you know since accident I forget many things easy."

"You two, enough talk. Get logs now."

Peter smiled to himself at the interaction. Not only were their accents something out of a cheap movie, but they had to be the most bumbling and worst footmen he's ever seen. Turning to look at the Widow, he saw her giving a signal. He knew what it meant. 

Three. Two. One. 

They dropped down silently to the floor.

The six men operation had turned to two, the other four going upstairs, leaving the bumblers for the vigilante and his old mentor. Like before, they simply and easily moved up right behind the two thugs, then put them in the sleeper hold until they were unconscious, dumping the bodies wherever they could out of the way.

"This mean we're going up a floor?" Peter whispered.

Widow shook her head. "Not yet protégé. We must fully scour this one, then we will draw the men down here, into our trap. And then when they are dealt with, we will ascend through this building."

Peter simply nodded. It was a decent plan, one he could get behind. And in another turn of luck, the floor hadn't been divided up into a stupid number of rooms, instead just a large one- even if the sheer number of lockers and drawers made up for it being one room.

Dividing up whatever they hadn't scoured, Peter searched the left side while Widow searched the right. On Peter's end, there wasn't any sort of sheets or anything to help them, and after finally searching all of his lot, ended up with a small booklet as his only piece of information.

Widow's search ended similar, the two adding their small bounty to what they had already found. After doing that, they went up to the stairs leading up to the final floor, and stood there a moment.

"How is your accent?" Widow asked Peter, and he instantly figured out her plan for luring their enemies down. 

With a grin, he put on a Russian accent and said: "I think this will suffice." His ex-mentor just gave a nod, and let her protégé get to work. Once she was in position, in a dark and hidden area next to the stairs, Peter called up to the criminals. "Hey, we need another hand down here."

There was some shuffling upstairs, and after a muffled conversation, a voice called down: "One minute!"

Peter gave himself a nod, and moved into the corridor next to the stairs. Once he heard someone come down, he re-emerged. The man looked at him in shock.

"Man in black?!" It came out as a frantic whisper, so luckily noone heard. Just as he seemed to be about to say it louder, Widow came out of her spot, putting the man in a hold and moving him back into the dark with her.

She came out again a moment later, dusting her hands off. Peter scoffed. "One down, three to go."

Widow pointed back up the stairs. "Call another."

Peter chuckled before he complied. "I was wrong. We need one more!"

There were some very loud groans above, but again: "I'll be down in minute!"

And then true to their word, one came down again. This time Peter and Widow switched spots, and the moment the man cleared the stairs, Peter knocked him hard in the back of the head. Before the man could loudly fall to the ground, Peter caught him mid fall and dropped him into the shadows.

"Now we go up", Widow commented as Peter turned to face her again. "Turns out I overestimated our enemies."

Peter chuckled again. Widow was right. Either he was having the luckiest day of his life fighting these criminals, or they really were just gullible. He liked to think it was a combination of these two things.

Swiftly traversing up the stairs, they reached the third floor just as the last two men were stacking a large group of odd looking guns into some boxes. Without looking, one of the two men who must have been the leader of their small group said: "You're finally back. Now get to..."

He came to a stop as he actually looked at the two. The man looked suspiciously at Widow, but upon seeing Peter narrowed his eyes. "Man in black."

Hearing those three words, the other man turned as well. This time though, he grabbed one of the strange guns and pointed it at Peter. The other criminal put his hand up, and the one with the weapon lowered the item, for the moment.

"What do you want?"

Peter looked at the Russian. He was glad for his mask at that moment, because without it his surprised expression would be quite obvious. "What do you mean?"

"Why are you here", the leader said instead. Peter scoffed. 

"Shouldn't that be obvious? Me and my... associate here are looking to stop your operation."

"And if we don't comply?"

"You'll be like the Germans I left at the dock", Peter answered gravely. The leader laughed, the flicked his hand up.

"Unfortunately I cannot follow those orders. Goodbye, vigilante."

Then the gunman shot his weapon, a glowing bolt shooting out of it. Peter rolled out of the way, dodging just in time as the blast hit the wall behind him, causing a mini burst-like explosion. 

Seeing the force of that weapon, he moved on the gunman as Widow went after the leader.

Peter ran up to the gunman before he had another chance to shoot another bolt. During that run up he noted that it seemed the weapon had a long reload. Hopefully all of the weapons were like that. Now right in front of the criminal, he yanked the weapon out of his hands and slammed it against the man's head, the force and sheer bulk of the gun instantly knocking him out.

With Widow, she followed the leader of the group as he started running back down the stairs, and with a expert shot from her pistol, even if it would be more classified as common for her, shot hit him right in the ankle, the pain instantly shot through the Russian's foot, making him tumble and fall down the rest of the steps.

She walked down the stairs after the man, and reaching his collapsed and groaning form, let out a sigh. "You are lucky my протеже does not condone killing, 'comrade'." She then hit him right in the forehead with her gun, his head rolling back, his mind blank as he fell into unconsciousness.

With a quick search she found nothing of importance on him, and went back up to the third floor. There she found her former protégé doing similar to the gunman, seemingly having the same fate as her search. Meeting back in the middle, Peter commented: "Nothin' on that guy. Yours?"

"Nothing", Widow answered. Peter sighed, then went over to the boxes with the guns in them.

"Now how the hell did they get firepower like this?"

Widow joined him at one of the boxes and pulled one of the guns out. It's basic build looked similar to a rifle, but with more than a glance in observation it was quite obviously something entirely else. The weapon was thicker than a usual gun, and it's colour was a mix of white and grey, a blue hue along the middle of the gun. The hue stopped at the end of the barrel, where it glowed most intense.

"Wait a second", Peter mumbled as he grabbed the gun from his ex-mentor's hand. "This is Stark Industries. See the symbol?"

Widow did see the symbol and let out a scoff. "The merchant of death strikes again."

Peter looked at her, but if it was a glare she couldn't tell with the mask in the way. "Merchant of death? I know he sells guns to the military, but that's pushing it I think."

Widow scoffed again. "протеже, there is much you clearly don't understand, but I will let you figure that out by yourself. This is helpful."

"How's that?"

"Because it means the infamous Tony Stark is working with the Russians. Why though is anyone's guess."

"Maybe he was roped into it." Peter suggested as he aimed the weapon. "Damn, it's lighter than most of the stuff in the force."

"Well that is because the police and military use different guns, протеже."

"Yeah, but I've never seen anything like this on the news or anything being used by the army."

"So you think these are a new model the Russians stole?" Widow asked. Peter gave a half nod.

"Maybe. Or worst case, he made these just for them."

"I wouldn't put it past that man."

Peter looked at Widow. "Seriously?" Widow just shrugged. "Well, like I said earlier, he could've been roped into making stuff too."

"Despite how unlikely that is, what would be enough to convince Stark to build weapons for a gang, protégé?"

"I dunno", Peter admitted, "But I intend to find out."

For a breif moment, Widow looked at Peter with surprise. "Patience протеже. One thing at a time. Russians first, then Stark."

Peter nodded, then put the weapon back. "Alright, so have we got all the stuff we need?"

Widow glanced at the new contents of her bag then nodded. "It should be enough. Let's go."

 

...

 

Back in the night air of Hell's Kitchen, Peter let out a sigh as Widow finished getting out of the building. Now on the roof they took a moment to breathe.

After a few minutes of silence, Peter spoke up. "So what now Romanov?"

"Now", she said, "Now the mission is done. You can return home and not worry about me returning."

Peter looked at her for a few moments. He sighed. "Widow... you know, ever since you left, I tried to figure out why."

Widow scoffed. "I had taught you all I know."

Peter took off his mask and showed off his unamused look. "We both know that isn't why. Was it because I wasn't good enough?"

Widow sighed. "No. протеже, I left because you weren't ready?"

Peter looked up in surprise. "Not re- how? How was I not ready? I'd learnt everything you taught me didn't I?"

"You did", Widow agreed, "But you weren't ready for what will be needed to inevitably be done. You still aren't." When Peter continued with his confused look, the Widow sighed. "Protégé, when I first came to you in St. Agnes, you were what I had been looking for in a student. No family, no goal, and a lot of potential. It was perfect."

"Let me get this straight, Widow. You trained me just because I was a lost, noone fifteen year old in an orphanage?"

She didn't hesitate. "Yes. It meant you wouldn't get attached to anything. But you did, didn't you?"

Peter lowered his head. "You. I got attached to you."

"Exactly. And to face what comes, you can't let emotions or attachments get in the way. And now you've got lots of attachments. And rules."

Peter sat back. "Natasha, I... you should know I'm not giving up my life now. I can't leave to fight some non-existent threat. I've got reasons to live."

"Annie", Widow simply stated. Peter just nodded.

"She's the reason I'm still here. She's the reason I'm doing this. I want my daughter- and everyone else- to be safe in Hell's Kitchen. And if being a vigilante can help me do that on top of my police work, so be it."

There was more silence for a while after that. Eventually, and to Peter's complete surprise, Widow smiled at him. "It's... noble, Peter. I was close to having a family once, a long time ago. But then I discovered my true fate, and when that time comes I will be ready, unlike most people."

"But do you actually want to live this way?"

Widow... Natasha was quiet for a moment. "I... I... yes. I need to. For you, your daughter, for when the time comes. I need to be ready Peter."

He sighed. "And if the time never comes?"

"It will. And I'll be ready. I hope, I really, honestly hope you will be ready too протеже. For your city's sake."

Natasha went to leave, but before she did, Peter grabbed her hand. She didn't pull away. "Wait. I just- just wanted to know. You said you almost had a family once. Who were they?"

Natasha looked up at the sky for a moment before turning back to her protégé. "One person, not many."

"And who was that?"

"...you."

And then she left. Peter looked out over the streets, knowing he wouldn't see her anyways. "Goodbye Widow. Bye Natasha."

 

...

 

The next morning, Annie found her dad downstairs, looking at a pretty old picture by the looks of it.

"Morning dad", she mumbled as she finished the trek down the stairs. He didn't look up but gave a 'morning' of his own. She went over, behind Peter and looked at the picture. "Who's that?"

Peter looked over at her at that question, and a small smile crossed his face. "Just... someone who I used to be very close to."

Peter handed Annie the picture and she took a better look at it. It didn't seem like either of the people in it had been the one to take the picture. In it was a younger looking boy who was definitely her dad, probably somewhere between fifteen or seventeen she thought. Next to him was a sophisticated woman, her blood red hair the biggest stand out to Annie. There wasn't any kind of contact between them at all, but Annie could tell her dad and the woman were probably very close.

"Who is that lady", she asked as she handed it back. "Is she still...?"

"Yeah, she's alive", Peter said. "And her name is Natasha. She raised me in a weird sort of way after... after what happened in my childhood."

Annie got on the couch next to Peter, and rested her head on his shoulder. "Did she adopt you?"

Peter chuckled. "No, but sometimes I used to think of her like a sort of mom. Heh, if she knew though she'd probably fight me or something." Peter turned to see Annie's confused look and just said: "I'm kidding! Of course I'm kidding."

"Do you think I could meet her one day?"

"I... I don't think so, Annie. She's a pretty busy person, and she's... I don't think she would cope well. She likes to be alone I think."

"If she likes to be alone, why'd she look after you?"

Peter shrugged. "I don't know the real answer Annie. But sometimes... sometimes people need something to be attached to, even if just for a little while."

"Was Natasha attached to you, dad?"

"I think so", Peter honestly answered, "But I can't be certain. And when I saw her a really long time ago, we didn't leave on the best terms. But I think one day we'll get better. One day."

When it was obvious there was nothing to be added, Annie just gave her dad a big hug. "I'm attached to you dad", she stated, "And I love you too."

Peter smiled at his daughter, returning the hug. "I love you too, Annie."

They stayed like that for a while, eventually getting up and moving to get on with their day. While Annie was upstairs getting ready for school, Peter heard a knock on the door and went to answer.

"Hello?" He said it, but when saw noone sighed, looking around. Then he noticed a folder on the floor, 'протеже' being printed largely on the front. Peter picked it up and opened it. It was filled with a lot of the papers he and Natasha had found the night before, but this time there were notes and markings added to it that Peter realised his mentor added. He also found a note attached to it, which read:

To my протеже,

 In this folder are notes and information that will help you in your 'case'. It contains much more than we thought.

 Exchange numbers, money caches, weapon holdings, everything. Surprisingly, it seems the Germans and Russians are working together. 

 There may be more involved, but this was all that was recored. I also found the name of that woman appear several times in the dealings;  Madame Viper. Sergei and Dmitri Kravinoff as well.

 I am leaving New York now, but I may return one day. I was wrong when I said you weren't ready. You have proved you are. But something is happening in Hell's Kitchen.

 Be careful протеже. This is bigger than you think.

-Natasha. Widow.

Peter read through it a few times, just to make sure he didn't miss anything, then put it back in the folder. He'd look through it all another time. For now he had other things to do.

He couldn't help but smile though. Sure, Widow has been written there, but Natasha had also used her real name. It was a good sign to Peter.

I'll see you again  Natasha. I'm counting on it.

 

...

 

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Kitchen, dark things were happening.

"Please, let me explain", Dmitri tried, pleading with his boss: the Kingpin!

Kingpin looked at him unamused. "Mr. Smerdyakov, you do understand the situation don't you?"

"Of course sir", he replied, trying to keep his voice straight. He'd heard what the Kingpin had done to people who failed him, and he hoped to whatever there was he wasn't about to join that list.

Kingpin smiled at Dmitri, but the Russian could only see the eerie emptiness to it. This man shouldn't smile in his opinion. It was unnatural. "So then, Mr. Smerdyakov, can you explain how this- this street vigilante, who's only just joined the scene, how has he dismantled your base and stolen your logs?"

"I-I don't know sir", he answered, "But, th-the men say he was ruthless, and had no chance to take him down. Noone knew he was in the building. He'd taken them out one at a time; isolating them."

At the explanation Kingpin let out an impressed hum. "He's skilled then, I'll give him that... Where is Sergei?"

"He's dealing with the men who failed."

"Ah, fixing the mistakes. Were any of the weapons taken?"

"Uh, no sir. Just the logs."

"Yes. Okay, you can go Mr. Smerdyakov."

Dmitri looked up in surprise. "Really? Th-thank you sir."

Kingpin smiled. "Don't mention it. Although... Madame Viper may want to have a few words with you. You were holding some of her logs after all. I'm sure she'd like the situation explained to her."

Dmitri felt a cold shiver at that. It was phrased as a suggestion, but he was smart enough to know it was an order. He just hoped he would survive.

"Yes sir."

When the Kravinoff brother had completely left, Kingpin lent back in his chair, letting out a sigh. He grinned, saying to himself: "Your move, man in black. I wonder just how you'll play. Because as it goes when you face the Kingpin, you've already missed five steps."

Kingpin laughed to himself, the sound reverberating through the room. 

He had true competition now. He was excited...

Chapter Text

Pepper Potts.

That was the name of the woman who had completely taken Tony Stark's heart. He didn't know how or when or why, he just knew it had happened.

Tony had met Pepper fresh out of a short stint in jail.

Three months may not seem like a lot in the grand scheme of things, but when you're the CEO of a multi-billion dollar company who's already skating on thin ice, it's dangerous.

Anyways, he'd gotten out of it, and gone back to his regular, out of jail schedule. Or, he would have, if she hadn't been there to flip his world. 

She instantly came at him with a set of rules and regulations; check ins, things not to do, the usual. Tony had half heartedly taken it, flashing that famous Stark grin and a flip of a hand to give an agreement. 

But Pepper didn't take that. She knew he wouldn't listen to some street-wise parole officer, so she'd just hounded him on it until he gave in. He'd done that eventually, and then they'd started spending professional time together.

And then it became more than that.

One day, on one of their check-ins they... moved up with their relationship. It happened, and after discussing it, Tony realised he wanted to genuinely try, see where it went. Not for a PR stunt or to show he's still that bad boy everyone loves in a Stark. No, he wanted it because he truly felt something for this woman. And by a miracle to him, Pepper had wanted the same thing.

So then their acquaintance became more than that, much more, and the professional check-ins became out-of-hours visits and the occasional fancy dinner. And for a time, Tony well and truly felt happy.

But like everything, it had to be ruined.

On a perfectly regular day, nothing off at all, he'd been taken off the street by a giant, hairy Russian man. They'd put the bag over his head and knocked him out. He then woke up to see strangle looking men- and a woman- surrounding him while he was restrained to a chair. And then he'd been gave that damn ultimatum. Make guns for a criminal, or get Pepper killed.

Tony chose the former.

And now here he was, at his private workstation in Stark Tower, one of the highest buildings in New York, improving on the designs he had exclusively made for that Kingpin guy he hadn't even met. It disgusted him, but he needed to do it.

For Pepper.

He wouldn't let anything happen to her. Not if he had a say in it.

 

...

 

"Dad, definitely don't say that."

Peter sighed, sagging lower into his chair. Why had he thought it smart to come to his teenage daughter for romantic advice?

Romantic advice. 

Just the thought of it made his face feel like it was on fire, and his stomach was doing a million backflips. Now there was a nice and simple reason to this, but even that freaked Peter out.

This is because he was finally going to ask Jen out.

He was done dancing around the fact: he was honest to God smitten for her, as cliché as it sounded. He wasn't an idiot either, he'd known for a while, but this point was something he never thought he'd get up to.

And he'd gone to Annie for help.

In hindsight, it was a horrible idea. Annie had never had a boyfriend- or a girlfriend, Peter is open enough to accept that from his daughter- or at least hadn't as far as Peter knew, and if she had he'd track them down and annihilate this person. He was also pretty sure she was going off stuff she'd seen in movies too. Honestly, Peter was just glad Annie hadn't freaked out when he had told her Jen was the woman he admired as more than a friend.

"So what do I do, Annie", he feebly asked, waving his hand. Annie just tilted her head and gave him a funny look.

"Well obviously you wouldn't just say 'hey wanna go out'?-"

"Obviously."

"-no, you gotta do something grand, dad. Like, show up on a horse or something!"

"I don't even think I've seen a horse in New York before. Maybe in Queens or something, but not Hell's Kitchen", Peter commented.

"But if there was you'd do it?" Annie excitedly asked.

"No", Peter deadpanned. Annie sighed.

His daughter puffed for a few moments, then turned back to her dad. "Screw it. Okay dad, you will just simply ask Jenny out. And get flowers. Oh, and do you know what to say?"

"Not really", Peter admitted, because honestly? He didn't. Jen was someone he had a stupidly large amount of respect for, and if he didn't do this right, or she didn't feel the same... Peter didn't really want to think what that would do to them.

Luckily he had Annie, the ultimate wingman, as she liked to be called for some reason. "Okay, practice with me dad."

Peter blinked, stuttering incoherent words. "No way! That's just weird."

"It's not weird to practice pick up lines on your child", Annie defended. "Plus, I'm a woman too, you know. I'd know if your words would be taken well. Just pretend I'm Jenny and say what you'd say."

Peter huffed, and knowing he couldn't get out of it groaned. "Fine. Alright. Three, two, one... Hey Jen, how are you doing?"

"I'm good", Annie replied in her best imitation. Peter glared.

"I'll stop doing this if you say anything else. I'll go live in my loneliness." Annie let out a pout, but silently agreed. 

"Okay", Peter continued, "Okay, now I'd say- hopefully she'd reply positively first- I'd say: That's good. Good to see you’re fine. So Jen, I was wondering if you would like to go out sometime?"

Peter put his hands up to show he was done, and Annie let out a long and loud groan. "That's so bad." Peter sighed, ready for more torture until Annie spoke again. "But, knowing Jen, I think it would work fine."

"Hey! What's that supposed to mean?!" Peter berated, which was replied to with a shrug. He sighed again. "You really think it'll work?"

"Yes I do, dad. I'm pretty sure Jen likes you too, both of you are just to busy dancing around the other to say anything."
Peter shot another glare as he stood up. As he grabbed his coat he called out to Annie: "And you're sure you'll be okay?"

"Dad, you're just going out. Nothing crazy is gonna happen." She saw her dad get ready to say more, but before he could she said: "And I'll call uncle Brett of Foggy if something happens."

Peter nodded, then took a breath and head out. Annie watched him leave through the window.

"Good luck dad", she said to herself. "Good luck."

 

...

 

Peter had made it, and now he was standing right outside Jen's house.

Unlike most of the people Peter knew and associated with, Jen lived in the Upper West side. This was because at the time she had gone apartment hunting, there had literally been none available close to her work at the time in the Kitchen. And while she loved Hell's Kitchen, she wasn't completely enamoured like Peter or Matt, and even Foggy for the most part. The only downside was that a cab or train was usually needed to travel to and from work and home.

But he was there now, and suddenly all that horrible practice he'd done at home was escaping him. Peter decided 'screw it' and knocked on the door. 

A few moments later and he heard shuffling on the other side, and then the door opened. For a small moment she looked at him in surprise, before that expression was replaced by a grin. "Pete? What a-are you doing he-here?"

"Uh, I... I uh, I- oh! These are for you!" He then gave a bouquet of flowers he'd bought just before to her, which she- luckily in his opinion- grabbed.

"Tha-thanks, Pete. Do you want to come in-inside?"

"Uh, no. Not- not that I don't want to, it's just I wanted to ask you something real quick."

"And that i-involves you comi-ing all the way over here?" Jen asked with a hint of amusement. Peter tried to do his best not to blush and gave a nod. 

"Yeah. You uh, you see, I-I wanted to ask if you- if you..."

"If I?" Jen asked, really hoping this was leading where she thought. Peter took a breath and righted himself.

"I wanted to know if you wanted to go out some time? Just us. In a... in a uh, more than platonic way?"

There was a stretch of silence for a short while, and Peter was about to try and take it back or something, until a grin broke out across Jen's face and she asked: "A-are you asking me-me out, Pete?"

"I... yes. Yes I am", he admitted, seriously trying not to lose his composure. 

The grin on Jen's face grew wider, and Peter realised he hadn't messed up at all. "I wo-would really li-ike that, Pete. When d-do you want to do it?"

"I did think this far ahead", Peter admitted with a chuckle, which in turn caused Jen to let out a small giggle, and then Peter couldn't keep a smile of his face.

"H-How about tomorrow. At seven?"

"Sounds good to me, Miss. Walters", Peter agreed.

"Good. It's a-a date then, Mr. Parker", Jen remarked. Peter let out a breath and went to leave, but before he did Jen leant out the door and gave him a light kiss on the cheek before closing it. Peter just stared at the door for a moment, before a grin stuck to his face which showed no sign of leaving even after he'd got in a cab and was halfway back home.

He'd done it. He'd asked Jen out. And she'd agreed. There was literally nothing that could ruin this moment for him.

 

...

 

The next day, it was raining. Hard.

Peter sighed as he looked out the window, Annie imitating from where she stood right next to him. It was a Saturday, and that meant Peter had a day off, his hours done for the week, although he'd still come down to the station if needed, even if it was reluctantly.

Peter had planned to spend the day out with Annie and get some highly valued father-daughter time, then get her home and go on his date with Jen. Now though, it seemed the former part of his plan was unlikely.

"So dad, what are we gonna do now?" Annie asked as she huddled onto the couch, wrapping a blanket around herself. Peter shrugged.

"I don't really know. Anything you wanna do?"

Annie put her hands out in reply, and Peter beamed a grin at her. He went and sat on the couch next to her, and wrapped his daughter up in a hug.

"Good to know you haven't grown out of this habit."

"Why wouldn't I want hugs from the coolest dad?"

"And why wouldn't I want hugs from the coolest daughter?"

They both laughed at that, and Peter couldn't not be happy in that moment. It had been him and Annie against the world since she was born just over fifteen years ago now, and it was always a nice thing to know his child still loved him. Because he didn't doubt for a second that he loved his kid, and that was never going to change. 

After several minutes had passed of them just staying like that, Annie let go with Peter following suit not long after. "The rain sounds really nice." Annie stated. "And it makes me sleepy so I'm gonna go and do just that."

"Alright Annie. And that better not be an excuse to be awake when you throw a massive party while I'm out."

Annie laughed as she went up the stairs, calling out: "Yeah, you know me dad. Annie Parker: wild party animal."

Peter laughed at that, leaning back into the couch and getting comfortable. He closed his eyes and simply listened to the rain for a while. Annie wasn't wrong, it did sound incredibly nice and soothing.

But alas, Peter had some... 'extracurricular' research to look over, and knew it was better to review sooner rather than later. Going up the stairs himself, he went into his room. Admittedly, it was pretty cluttered, and he knew in his heart that he was a hoarder, but wouldn't admit it out loud. You never know when you'll need a thirteen year old piece of aluminium.

Going over to the cabinet where he kept his police things, he picked up the newest box that sat at the bottom and pulled it out. He opened it, and after giving his man in black outfit a quick glance, moved it out of the way to grab the folder Natasha had given him.

Sitting on the end of the bed and opening it up, he started going over the next part that he hadn't already. Over the last three days that he's had the folder, he had been able to figure out a few of the times of drop offs and where they happened, and had even gone out to stop a few of them. That was why he was sporting a split lip and a bruised ankle this morning after an almost botched dismantling the night before.

He sorted through the various timetables and notes left behind by his old mentor for about an hour before he came to a stop. This was because he'd found something huge.

The blueprints for Stark Tower.

After realising just what it was, Peter close to threw it away with a startled gasp, but recovered before he did anything too brash like that. Regaining his composure and putting his eyes back on the map, he went over the notes and marking already on the blueprints.

Left behind in Natasha's handwriting was a circled spot on the ground floor of the Tower, with a note reading: Private elevator for Stark. Retinal and handprint recognition necessary. Blind spots around elevator entries and exits. Perfect spot to break in.

Reading that last sentence Peter instantly figured out why it had been marked. During the infiltration a few nights ago, Peter had floated the theory that Stark was making weapons for the Russians and probably Germans against his will. He'd also explicitly stated that this meant he'd inevitably visit the billionaire. It seemed he had a way, but what to do from there and how to get in were still to be figured out.

He checked the time. It was two now. He still had four hours until it he went out with Jen.

Guess he had a little reconnaissance to do.

 

...

 

Standing outside Stark Tower proved to be a sort of overwhelming feeling to Peter.

The building was located in Upper Manhattan, towered over every other building around it, and from what Peter had heard in the news, it was actually over ninety stories high. It was extremely impressive, even to someone like him who wasn't into the architecture trends.

Entering the building, he was surprised to find he wasn't instantly restrained by security. Instead, it seemed the first floor of the building was a sort of leisurely area, the more Stark business themed stuff right in the centre where the elevators where.

His point.

Going over to the elevators, but not close enough to seem like he was going to get in one, he checked them out. Out of the four there, none of them were obviously Stark's personal one.

Moving along, he scanned the surrounding area next to all the Stark Industries things, and still didn't see anything that would house his elevator.

And then he saw the man himself.

Tony Stark, the CEO of Stark Industries- and the darkly named merchant of death- was walking around the ground floor towards the regular elevators. Peter took this as his chance to get the ball rolling. Pulling out and setting up the walking stick he had- thank God for being a hoarder of odd items- he put on a pair of sunglasses and started walking. Just as he was about a metre away from the billionaire, he took a sharp turn, walking straight into him.

"Hey! What the hell man?!" Stark snapped out, failing miserably at rubbing the stain off his suit caused by his coffee.

"Oh God, I am so sorry, sir", Peter frantically apologised, reaching hand out like he was trying to find the man. "Is-is the stain bad? I heard a splash."

Hearing that, Tony looked up and realised what was going on. He sighed, then said: "Uh, it's fine, sir. I should have been more careful."

"Are you sure? I'm willing to pay for any damages."

Stark let out a light laugh. "It's okay. And I'm pretty sure I could easily pay for a new suit if it comes to that."

Behind the glasses, Peter looked him dead in the eyes. "If you insist, Mr...?"

Stark perked up at that, letting out a chuckle. "Stark. Tony Stark."

Peter mocked a surprise grin at that. "You're theTony Stark?"

"In the flesh."

"Oh, I'm sure", Peter joked, and once the billionaire caught on he chuckled.

"Funny. Now uh, I don't mean to be rude, but I have some business to attend to."

"I'm sure you do, Mr. Stark."

"Thanks. It was nice meeting you...?"

Peter let another fake smile cross his face. "Ben Reilly."

Stark smiled. "Okay. Maybe we'll cross again along the line somewhere, Ben."

Peter let his smile grow, still keeping his unknown eye contact with Stark. "Me too. I have a feeling we'll meet again soon."

With that, the CEO walked away, this time walking in a different direction, not to the regular elevators. Peter turned so it wasn't so obvious, and watched the man go.

He stopped in at a small glass room, and it was only after Stark had eyed the panel inside that he realised it was the personal elevator, only thinking it was some viewpoint earlier.

A true grin crossed as he watched the elevator go up, and then he started to leave. Peter used the stick on the way out, just to keep up the rise a little longer. Once outside, he turned into an alley and ditched the cane, walking further down the path and jumping over the wire wall, isolating himself. He then pulled off his coat, exposing his black sweater underneath. Out of his pocket he pulled out his mask, wrapping it around his face.

It was time for the Devil to visit the billionaire and have a 'talk'.

 

...

 

A while later, Tony looked over at his discarded suit jacket and shirt, which he’d replaced wearing for a ratty old short. The stain his coffee had left behind was pretty bad. He probably would need to get a new one. As he left his lab for a moment, the assassin came right up to him.

“Hello Richy Rich. How was your day”, he greeted.

Tony tried to make eye contact, but upon seeing the emptiness gave it up. He didn’t understand why the man had cut his eyes out, but it had happened. “Y-yeah, it was alright, Poindexter.”

The assassin gave a distorted sort of smile then left in his own direction. 

Tony didn't like the assassin- Bullseye, he'd called himself- at all. After Tony's 'meeting' on the rooftop a few weeks ago, the Kingpin had left Bullseye as his demented sort of bodyguard. Poindexter tracked all of Stark's movements: where he went, who he talked to, how long he was out... it was stressful. Tony hadn't risked trying to contact Pepper at all.

Now though, as he re-entered the lab, he was able to have a moment of peace. The workshop room was the only place Poindexter wasn't allowed to stalk him in. 

Or he thought so, until he heard a banging noise.

"Uh, Poindexter, you know you can't come in here", Tony called as he started fiddling with one of his latest inventions, even if it was still only in the drafting stage. But then he heard the door open and turned, freezing on the spot. "Holy shit..."

"Mr. Stark", the man in black told him. "We need to talk."

 

 

An hour and a half earlier

Peter started leaving the alley, now in his man in black attire, until he heard a voice. 

"Hey fella, this is my spot. Get outta here!"

He turned around to see a ratty and dirty looking old man. Definitely homeless.

"Sorry man, my mistake", Peter apologised, just to get this over with. He was still figuring out a way to traverse Stark Tower.

"Eh, it's good. Just stay outta my spot", the homeless man replied. Suddenly an idea popped into Peter's head. 

He turned to the homeless man and asked: "Hey pal, wanna get some easy money?"

Admittedly it was a plan that made him feel a little bad, but it was the only play he could think of. He just needed a distraction. "I'm always looking for money, young fella."

Peter smiled, walking up to the man who didn't seem phased by his appearance at all. "Awesome. Well all you gotta do is run on in to Stark Tower, and draw some eyes on yourself. Sound good?"

The man squinted at the him for all the few moments before nodding. "Alright. Be nice to get outta the rain for a while. How much ya paying?"

Peter reached into his pocket. He had three twenties and a five. He could give it away. "How's this?"

The homeless man grabbed the money and counted it. "Sixty-five dollars?! Hey, you're gettin' the best distraction of your life, boy!"

Peter grinned as he watched the man head around the corner into the Tower, following not long after. He put his large coat back on first though, popping up the collar to hide his face as little better. Keeling his head down he walked back into the Tower, just in time to see the homeless man leap at a security guard.

Definitely not what he expected, but it'd do.

As all eyes headed for that scene, Peter swiftly made his way over to the personal elevator, staying low and to the dark patches around the building. It seemed the dark skies heavy rain brought was good for something.

Making it to the elevator, Peter closed the door, isolating himself inside it. Now that he wouldn't be seen, he dropped the coat off again and looked around the elevator. It was relatively normal, save for the retinal scanner and handprint analyser.

Looking up though, he saw just what he needed. He pushed the lid up and hoisted himself onto the top of the elevator. He observed the cords holding it for a few moments before letting out an exasperated sigh.

"This... this is gonna suck", he sadly commented before jumping up and starting to climb them.

 

...

 

With a sharp groan, Peter pulled himself up a tiny bit more, then secured himself on the two cords.

He looked down.

He felt sick now.

Ninety-three stories was way higher than he thought.

Looking across the distance, Peter easily saw the opening on the other side. Now he just had to get there without dying.

Getting a hard grip on the cords, he lifted himself with his arms and swung his legs up. By some small miracle he actually hit the emergency open button, and the elevator doors whirred open. Peter gasped out a victory sound and got to work crossing the distance. 

Letting go of the furthest cord, Peter quickly placed that spare hand on the one closest to the door, then started gaining momentum. After about four swings, he was swaying back and forth just enough he thought he could make the distance.

On the end of the swing, he let go...

Sailed through the air...

And made it!

The door closed almost immediately after he was back to standing on something solid, and he let himself double over and catch his breath. Pulling himself up ninety-three stories one arm at a time had been extremely trying and difficult, but luckily, through all the training he acquired over the years, he was just able to pull it off.

Staying in the blind spot of the cameras, Peter pulled out the Tower's blueprints and checked them again. There was a vent supposedly nearby that took him right into the workshop where he guessed the billionaire would be.

Just as he was about to start moving, he felt a nagging feeling, and then around the corner a man appeared. He didn't seem to see Peter, but he wasn't going to take his chances. Squatting as low as he could, he silently snuck over behind a conveniently placed potted plant. He watched the man walk a few more steps in his direction before he stopped.

Now that the man had stopped, he realised the guy literally had no eyes. Peter felt a small sense of nausea at the picture, and was very glad when the guy turned to start walking away again.

Before Peter started moving again, he looked up at the cameras, and realised they were actually deactivated. He let out a sigh in relief then started sneaking around in more comfortable movements. Although in his mind he wondered why the cameras of this floor were turned off. If Peter didn't know before, he'd definitely know something was up now.

Checking to see where the eyeless man had gone, Peter found no trace of him, so he went ahead straight to the workshop and tried open the door. Just as he did that the eyeless man came around, and before the guy could react Peter had delivered a hard punch to the forehead, instantly knocking him out. 

Peter wouldn't admit aloud he did it in surprise.

"Uh, Poindexter, you know you can't come in here", Peter heard Tony call out on the other side of the door. Good. So he was in there. Peter opened the door and stepped inside.

Hearing the door open, Tony turned around, and Peter made his expression neutral. "Mr. Stark, we need to talk."

 

...

 

For a moment, the billionaire and vigilante just stared at each other, until Stark tilted his body at an angle and saw the unconscious form of Poindexter. 

"Thank God", he sighed, "I can have a moment without him around now."

Behind the mask, Peter wore quite the surprised expression. "Wait, he's not one of yours?”

"No- God no", Tony scoffed. "You seriously think I want some- some eyeless assassin stalking me everywhere?"

Peter rubbed his head, putting his hands up after. "Take it back a moment. I-I don't understand. So that guy- assassin- is stalking you, and you know and let it happen? Why is he here anyways?"

Tony sighed, moving over to his cabinet and grabbed out his favourite liquor. He grabbed one glass then turned to Peter: "Care for any? It's some of the best around."

Peter waved his hand. "Just answer my questions."

Tony sighed again, and went to her answer as he pored his drink. "Well since you beat my security and got up here, it's pretty obvious this isn't as social call. You know I've got myself in some really bad shit, don't you?"

Peter just keep his eyes on the billionaire. "Russians and Germans from what I've seen so far."

Tony nodded, taking as sip of his drink. "Yep. And the guy out there. And, me I guess- not that I want to of course."

Peter scoffed. "I thought so. I was pretty sure you weren't one to sell to criminals."

"Yeah well, I'm stuck in a tight situation here. Can't really stop now."

"Why not? What do they have on you Stark?"

For a few moments, Tony stayed silent, simply drinking until his glass was empty. With a sigh, he turned back to the vigilante. "They said they'd kill someone close to me, and then ruin my career or something."

"Who's gonna do this?"

"The boss."

"Boss of?"

"Everyone. Germans, Russians, that assassin, a few smaller gangs, police and even some officials. Call himself 'Kingpin'."

Peter processed that. This was big. Extremely big. He needed to somehow find this Kingpin and take him down. "What do you know about him?"

Tony chuckled, throwing his hands in the air. "Jack. They don't tell me anything. Just make guns and give it to them, and they don't kill Pepper."

"Pepper?" Peter repeated. "That's the woman they'll kill?"

"If I don't make them weapons", Tony reminded. Peter sighed. He waited a few moments before speaking again. 

"Alright Stark. I propose a deal."

Tony leaned against the table next to him. "I'm listening."

"Okay, the proposal is: I'll protect Pepper until this is all over, while you get me information on Kingpin and his men. Sound good?"

Tony looked at the man in black with surprise. "You'd actually do that?"

Peter shrugged. "If you agree."

Tony thought about it for a while, but eventually he gave a nod. "Alright, I agree. On one condition."

Peter sighed. He didn't have time for this. "What's the catch?"

"We do all the stuff you just said, but I also make you a suit."

Peter looked at the billionaire in surprise. "A suit? What, you want me to fight around looking like at businessman?"

Tony chuckled, refilling his drink. "Of course not, unless you really want to." The vigilante glared at him. "No, I'm kidding man. Obviously. No, I mean an actual suit, one to protect you from the street guys and the higher ups: the Russian brothers, Madame whatever and eventually I'd guess Kingpin. And trust me, you'd need one to fight all these guys. So what do you say?"

Tony put out his hand at that, and after thinking it through, Peter shook it, agreeing with the man. "Okay. Deal."

"Great", Tony said with a smile. "So is there anything you want design wise? Kevlar, cushioning, that kind of stuff?"

"It'd need to be light. I can't do what I do if it's heavy. And bullet and knife proof materials would be good in the long run."

"Awesome. Anything else you'd want?"

Peter thought about it, then remade eye contact with Stark. "Yeah. It needs... it needs to be a symbol. Something that would bring fear to criminals, and a sense of safety to innocents."

Tony laughed. "Sounding like a comic book here."

Peter laughed a little as well, before getting back to the main topic. "Alright Stark, since we're doing this, I need to know where Pepper lives."

Tony looked at him oddly for a moment, before remembering the man in black would need to know where she lives to give any proper sort of protection. "Yeah, right. She uh, she lives down in Soho. Green Street Condos, number twenty-four."

Peter repeated it a few times in his head until it was stuck there and gave a nod. "Alright. I'll get onto that, Stark. You better come through on your side. With the information and the suit."

Tony gave a nod of his own. "I will. Just make sure she's safe, okay?"

“You know I will”, Peter simply stated before leaving the room. On the way he checked to see if the assassin was still unconscious, and seeing he was, simply walked past him. 

On the way back over to the elevators, he noticed a door which led to stairs, and let out a silent ‘thank you’ to whoever was above. He silently cursed himself as well for not seeing that during his initial scan. 

But now, it was time for Peter to get ready for a date.

 

...

 

Peter jumped down the last two stairs of Stark Tower, and headed for the exit. On the way he checked the time. And froze.

It was eight o’clock. He’d completely missed his date.

Peter quickly pushed himself into a rush mode, barging through the stairwell’s doors and right across the lobby of the Tower. Some people gave him weird looks, but only because of where he was running through. He’d taken his mask off in the stairwell once he realised they were camera-free. Peter thought Stark needed to improve his security

Quickly calling a cab over and running straight through all the heavy rain, he jumped into the backseat and blurted out: “Upper West Side. Along fifty-eighth street and eleventh avenue.”

The cab driver gave a nod, and then started driving to the destination.

Along the way, all Peter could think about was how bad he had messed up. How had time escaped me that bad? Would Jen actually have waited for me? Probably not. She thinks I stood her up, and that would pretty much be right, wouldn't it? But the biggest and most terrifying question running through his head was: Will Jen want to even see me anymore, in any kind of way?

Peter sagged in the seat, while the cabbie took a glance at him. “What’s on your mind, pal?”

Peter sighed. “Just thinking about how bad I’ve messed up. I was gonna... gonna go out with someone really close to me, but as usual, I’ve messed it up entirely and missed our date. She’ll probably never want to see me again, or at least not for my sake.”

There was silence for a few moments until the cabbie spoke again. “Tell me kid, how much do you care for this person?”

Peter sighed again. “A lot. More than most people.”

“And when you proposed this get together- you did do that right?- how did this person react?”

“Yeah, I asked her out. And she was pretty excited I’m pretty sure.”

“Then in my opinion kid, I think if you apologise, you just might get a second chance. Or maybe do something grand. Like show up on a horse.”

Peter laughed at the suggestion. “My daughter literally suggested the same thing.”

“Smart girl.”

“You bet.”

Again, the cab was in a short silence until the cabbie spoke again. “Listen kid, you don’t have to listen to an old man like me, but if I were you I’d just be honest. Tell this girl the truth of why you couldn’t make it, and I’m sure she’ll understand. But the apology, do that too. Always a smart move.”

Peter gave the man a smile. “Thanks. It’s some pretty good advice.”

The rest of the journey was covered in mostly silence, the biggest sound the radio. About three-quarters through the ride while Peter was looking through the window he just caught some unfriendly looking guys start trailing a woman, and knew he was about to make an even bigger mistake.

The Devil had already ruined his night, and now the Devil was going to make it worse.

“Hey pal, this is a good spot here”, Peter stated, getting the cab driver to stop. “Thanks for the ride. How much do I owe you?”

The cab driver waved his hand. “For you kid, we’ll say it’s free. Go get your girl.”

Despite doing quite the opposite of that, Peter couldn’t help but grin. “Thanks sir, that’s really kind. Can I at least have your name.”

The cab driver turned around and offered Peter a smile, letting him get a good look at the guy. Grey hair, moustache and some really good looking glasses if Peter could say so. “The name’s Stan, kid. Stan Lee.”

Peter got out of the cab and stopped at Stan’s window for a moment. “Well thanks for the ride, Stan. Maybe we’ll meet again.”

Stan stuck his hand out of the window before speaking, which Peter happily shook. “I think it’s likely, kid. Crazier things happen in this world all the time!”

With that, the cabbie drove away, and Peter quickly refocused, running down the backstreet he just spied the men going into.

Going down, Peter got himself up higher until he was running across the roofs of the small buildings, and put his mask back on as he looked down to see where they’d all gone. He found them easily, and went down the fire escape silently, now right above them.

“Listen lady, this is how this is gonna work”, one of the guys said as he pushed the woman against the wall and pulled out his knife. “You give us all your cash, and you’re free to go.”

“And if you don’t”, another added, then after a pretty ominous pause said: “I’ll let you picture it yourself.”

Peter grimaced in anger, his hands turning into fists at his sides. He’d lived in the Kitchen long enough to know what these kinds of guys would do to helpless women, and he wouldn’t let it happen here.

Now these boys had to face the Devil. 

Just as the men were about to advance, he jumped down, bringing his knee colliding straight into the first thug’s face. He instantly passed out, dropping his knife in the process.

Registering what just happened, the other two men moved forwards, bringing their fists down on the vigilante. He took the brunt of both hits, and then replied with his own, sending both fists back and throwing the thugs off balance. 

He tackled the one on his left first, slamming him into a wall, then smashing his head into it. The moment he let go the guy slid down, and then the Devil kicked him right across the face, definitely breaking the man’s nose and spraying blood everywhere.

The last guy started running, abandoning his partners and completely forgetting the woman. The Devil wouldn’t have this though, and charged after the guy, easily catching up the few metres that had been run and landed a clean drop kick on the guy’s back. 

He fell over, and the Devil advanced. He raised his fist to knock out the guy, but what he hadn’t seen coming was that he’d grab his friend’s knife. That’s exactly what had been done, and before the Devil’s fist could be lowered, the thug jammed the weapon into his thigh.

The Devil cried out in pain. This just fuelled his anger though, as instead of letting it get to him he finished what he had set out to do, and slammed his fist straight into the guy’s face, dropping him instantly. 

With that done, the vigilante calmed down. Before his adrenaline fully wore off, he quickly pulled the knife out of his leg, a gasp escaping as he did. He threw it in the trash and walked over to the woman.

“Are you okay?” Peter asked, then hissed, the pain of his leg wound catching up to him now.

“I-I-I’m oka-okay”, the woman shakily answered. Peter realised after a moment that she had started crying, and the next thing he knew she was holding onto him, sobbing into his chest. Peter slowly wrapped his arms around the woman.

After a few more minutes of that, she had stopped crying, and looked up at the vigilante. And Peter froze, the only thought in his head being: Oh. Shit.

The woman was Jen.

Jen.

Oh God, the woman was Jen! He’d just stopped Jen from being... being-

“A-are y-y-you okay?” Jen asked him. But she wasn’t asking if the shocked look and his frozen body was bad for Peter’s sake no, she was asking the man in black.

Peter couldn’t help but cringe. This was his fault. If he had just left Stark for later, he would’ve been with Jen tonight, and this wouldn’t have happened. If he had just been normal, none of this would have happened! “I’m... fine, lady.”

She calmed down a little at that, and Peter barely noticed that they were slowly edging closer to the other. “How c-can I thank yo-you?”

“It’s not necessary”, Peter replied, trying to not freak out any worse than he already was.

“O-of course it-it is. You sav-saved me”, Jen urged with a small smile. But on the inside, Jen wasn’t exactly beaming.

She’d been stood up by someone she really cared about, someone she actually wanted to try and have something with, but it seemed like it was pretty one-sided right now. She’d waited an hour for Peter, and nothing. And to top that off, she’d just got jumped. So maybe, just maybe, it was the mix adrenaline, shock and negative emotions fuelling her in what she did next. 

“And I kn-know just th-the thing.”

With that said, Jen slightly moved up a little, and Peter couldn’t stop himself from tilting his head down, and before either could catch a better sense of themselves, they were pressing their lips together in a kiss that slowly grew more passionate until they pulled apart, catching their breath.

“There. N-now we’re even”, Jen breathed out. Peter gave a meagre nod, and then the two fully parted, letting go of each other.

Peter was quiet for a few moments, trying to register what he’d just done. “Uh, okay, okay. C-call the police, Miss. I can’t be seen here.”

Peter then left, back up the fire escape and across buildings, all the way until he was right back in the centre of Hell’s Kitchen, not caring he was nowhere near home, not caring that he was screaming off the top of a roof, all his anger and pain from multiple places coming out, both physical and emotional.

Because Peter had made the biggest mistake of his life. You see, it wasn’t Jen kissing Peter, like he’d been dreaming of for so long, no. Instead, it was something sick, something that was used and taken advantage of. Because in truth, Peter had been stuck on the sidelines, a spectator of his own deeds. 

Peter had just watched Jen kiss the man in black.

The man in black, not Peter Parker.

And there was nothing he could do to change that...

Chapter Text

Peter groaned as he pulled the police tape up and went over it. The knife wound he received the night before had decided to rear it's head in, and he'd woken up to a very painful limp. Nothing aspirin couldn't fix he figured.

"What've we got, Brett", he asked, giving his partner a pat on the arm as he reached him. Brett turned away from the scene to look at Peter and frowned.

"Jesus Parker, what happened? You look like shit."

Peter chuckled, a strained smile on his face. "Just had a rough night." 

Brett peered at him for a moment, then sighed. Peter wasn't going to elaborate. Never had, never will. "If you say so... Alright, onto business though, we've got a double homicide."

Before Brett continued, Peter circled in, slowly spinning around and taking in the whole scene. "Damn Mahoney. You ever think we'd end up solving some murders in a TV show's filming room? I didn't, and I think it's awesome."

"You think a double homicide is awesome?" Brett asked, making sure he'd heard that properly. Peter shrugged.

"I mean, that part isn't awesome, but look where we are! This is where TV magic happens!"

Brett sighed. "If you say so. Anyways, the victims were Mel Daly and Jasper Dumont. As I'm sure you can see, Ms. Daly had been shot point blank in the head with what was most definitely a shotgun, while Mr. Dumont was gutted."

"Pretty f***ing gross", Peter commented, trying not to gag at the sight of the open stomach of the dead man. "It's gotta be someone on the crew, right?"

"That's what I think", Brett agreed, "I've called most of them in for questioning this afternoon. For now, we just have to find some form of evidence."

Peter limped his way around the scene, observing each part. "Mahoney, what was this show about anyways?"

Brett chuckled. "Had a small talk to the creator of the show earlier actually. It was, and maybe still is, going to be a police show, the lead, Ms. Daly here, was also going be a masked vigilante. Sound familiar?"

Peter couldn't help but laugh. "Wow. It hasn't even been a full month yet and they're already making a man in black- well actually woman in black- ripoff TV show?"

"Seems that way", Brett chuckled. "Bet they thought it was funny to have a cop also be a vigilante."

Peter gave a more nervous laugh at that. "Pretty ironic, isn't it?" Brett didn’t notice his nervous behaviour though, just humming an agreement. 

They searched the place a bit more, but not finding anything, decided to wrap it up, and started to head down to the station to prepare for their questioning.

 

...

 

 

Sitting at her desk in the Nelson, Murdock and Walters office, Jen let out a hard sigh. She couldn’t believe- or get over- what she had done the night before.

She’d kissed the man in black!

Why had she done that?! The guy was actually a criminal if you get over the ‘helping innocents’ part. And she’d done that. 

She groaned again. It was stuck in her mind, as was the embarrassment of being stood up by Peter. Why were all her immediate problems because of guys?

“Hey, you okay Jen?” Foggy asked, popping his head around the corner. “I couldn’t help but hear your sighs of despair.”

Jen groaned some more. “Leave me alone, F-Foggy.”

He put is hands up in defence. “Okay, I’m sorry, not the time for jokes. Seriously though, what’s the matter? Matt’s acting like he knows what’s up, but totally doesn’t and isn’t telling me anything.”

Jen sighed, then raised her head off the desk. “I got st-stood up last n-night.”

A sympathetic look crossed Foggy’s face. “Ah, I see. One of the worst things that could happen to a person. I still rank it below stubbing your toe though.”

Jen chuckled. “Th-That’s some bad ra-ranking, man. But i-it sucked. Big time.”

Foggy gave a nod. He’d been in the same situation once or twice before and it was horrible. “Who’s the sucker I gotta go teach a lesson to then?”

Jen grinned at her friend, then shook her head. “N-Not necessary, Foggy. I’ll f-figure it out my-myself. And I-I don’t think y-you’re the ‘teach so-someone a lesson’ guy.”

“That hurts Jen. You sure though?”

“Yeah.”

Foggy put his hands on his hips and sighed, and after a few moments walked out of the room, saying on his way out: “Just know we’re here for you if you need us, Jen; Matt and I. And I’m sure Pete would be there too if you even seemed a little bit down near him.”

Jen let out a small laugh, but didn’t feel like going down the hole which would lead to talking about Peter right now. “I k-know. Thanks, Foggy.”

“You’re welcome.”

When Foggy was clearly gone, and there was no trace of Matt coming to give a similar talk, Jen sighed.

She really needed to figure out her situation. Sooner rather than later. She’d call Peter soon.

 

...

 

“Alright, detective time! Who’s first Mahoney?”

Brett turned to look at Peter and scoffed to show how unamused he was with the theatrics. “First suspect is Kurt Gerhardt. He’s the one who did the special effects for the show.”

“Ah, a fireworks guy!”

Brett sighed. “Parker, can you take this seriously please?”

Peter was silent for a moment, and then after making a large sigh, simply nodded. “Let’s talk to him.”

Moving into the room, it was instantly seen that Mr. Gerhardt was already there, set up and sitting opposite where the two officers would. Once they sat down, the questioning began.

“Alright Mr. Gerhardt, let’s get straight to it, huh?” Brett began. Kurt offered him a smile.

“Of course, officer.”

“Alright, first off, where were you around...”

It was around that time Peter lost attention to the questioning, instead roaming into his own mind. All he could think about was what he had done the night before.

Letting the man in black kiss Jen.

Why had he done that? He had control of the situation, he had his head on straight, he- he-

He didn’t know. 

Peter didn’t understand. Why had he let it happen in the first place? He should have moved away- or said something at least. Instead he let himself be influenced by the moment and his adrenaline.

But then he also thought: did it happen because Jen would rather some mystery man over him? Probably, after what he pulled. 

He should’ve left it alone yesterday. He shouldn’t have gone to Stark Tower. Should’ve just got ready, gone out with Jen and seen what could’ve happened.

But no, he’d rather be the Devil. 

“-and then I walked onto the set, just like everyone else to find the bodies there. Most disgusting thing I’ve ever seen.”

Brett finished writing in his note pad just a little after Gerhardt stopped talking, then flipped it around so the cover flung over the top. Fancy trick of his, even if it was basic. “And there was nothing out of the ordinary at the scene? Besides the bodies of course.”

Kurt thought on it, scratching at his chin lightly. “Hmm, actually... there was one thing that seemed a little off.”

“Yeah?”

“Yeah. The uh, one of the props were missing. Shotgun.”

At that Brett and the recently refocused Peter leant forward, looking intently at Gerhardt. “A shotgun. You’re sure?” Peter asked. Gerhardt nodded.

“Excuse us.”

With that, Peter and Brett both exited the room, closing the door and instantly getting on their train of thought.

“The perp kept the murder weapon”, Peter stated.

“One of them at least”, Mahoney reminded. “Dumont was stabbed remember?”

“O’ course I do”, Peter slightly snapped, running a hand through his hair. “Maybe we missed it. Or maybe the killer brought it them self.”

“Maybe”, Brett agreed, and then a few moments after: “I don’t think it was Gerhardt though.”

“Me neither”, Peter replied. “Next suspect?”

“Next suspect.”

 

...

 

A few suspects later, and the two officers were gaining more information. 

Adding on to the missing prop- which had turned out to be a real one with blanks they found out after speaking to the weapons/props guy- they’d also been informed that there had been a few legal problems from loosely basing it off the man in black by one of the producers, that most of the leads didn’t get along by the stylist, and that a few of the extras that had come on set were petty criminals looking for some easy money by the casting director.

All in all, this was actually useful to Parker and Mahoney. Legal problems always meant money problems, and that could lead to pay problems for the crew. This was just one idea they had, but it was a point they could look into nonetheless.

The ‘criminals as extras’ parts had been a little concerning, but they’d been able to get the names of the extras from the distributing company. Not that either Peter or Brett would jump the gun and blame a criminal instantly, but just in case.

That brings everything up to now, and with a lull in the questioning from things ranging to getting a hold of the actors or director, the two were stuck to passing on the time. 

“Maybe we should survey the crime scene again?” Peter suggested, pacing back and forth in a small circle.

“And what would have magically changed?” Brett replied. Peter gave a sigh, deciding not to answer. Suddenly, Peter stopped his pacing, going to sit at his desk and turning on the computer. Brett gave him a weird look, saying: “What’s on your mind now, Parker?”

Peter grinned. “Just you wait.”

A few minutes later and Peter was onto his idea, and Brett leaned over to have a look. “Wait, is that-

“It’s the premise thingy. Here, it reads: ‘When beat cop Jean Dewolff’- Daly- ‘Is suddenly forced to fight a costumed villain, Sin Eater’- Stan Carter- ‘Who terrorises the city, Jean is forced to become the very thing she is against: a vigilante.’” 

The two simply sat there for a moment, going over the premise before breaking into a bunch of chuckles. “That sounds... I feel like horrible is too harsh, but it’s pretty bad”, Brett commented.

“I know right?” Peter agreed, but quickly returning to business mode said: “We haven’t actually talked to Mr. Carter yet. We should bring him in. He’s the ‘villain’ after all, he might know something.”

“Maybe”, Brett said. “But it’s gonna take a while to get in contact with him at all. We might just have to call it a day for now. The list of extras arrives tomorrow as well.”

Peter let out a sigh before nodding. “Yeah, guess we’ll do that for now. But I’ll be on this straight away tomorrow.”

“Wouldn’t doubt it”, Brett replied. With that, they went over a few small theories about the case, but eventually packed it up and headed home.

Peter had other plans first though.

 

...

 

Back at the scene of the murders, Peter slipped in through the roof access, already fully dressed in his man in black outfit.

He was back of course- in less than legal and very impulsive and impatient ways- to have a double check of the crime scene. Even though Brett had probably been right when he said nothing would’ve changed, Peter couldn’t help but feel the opposite.

Going down just one flight of stairs in the stairwell, he dropped over the railing, landing on the walkway for the lighting. 

Looking down below, he saw that the bodies had finally been moved at least, definitely to the morgue for the medical examiners. Maybe they’d find something on their end. Maybe.

Seeing no guards of any kind, Peter jumped down to the floor below, his landing silent, as usual. 

Moving over to where the bodies had been, Peter first re-examined that area. Besides the yellow tape and the small numbered plates scattered around the place, nothing was out of the ordinary at first glance.

Going to the couch the bodies has originally been placed on, Peter tightened his gloves. just in case, he figured. Don't want to leave prints. Adding onto that, he also rubbed his hands along his sweater to hopefully get any remaining prints off, then got to work.

Kneeling down, he carefully pulled off the first of the two cushions on the couch. Besides some dust and lint, nothing. The second one though...

“You’ve gotta be shitting me”, Peter breathed out with a tiny chuckle.

They’d stashed the murder weapon, on the scene.

Without touching it, he got a look at it. It was definitely one of the two murder weapons alright. Blood covered the blade, already getting to that crusty stage.

Lowering the cushion again, Peter got up and walked around the scene. Surely there had been a plastic bag or something left around. 

It didn’t take long for him to luckily find what he was looking for, and grabbing a bag, went back to the couch. Lifting the cushion up, he paused.

Someone was here. 

Of course it wasn’t that easy.

The next moment he felt a pressure against his head, then a click. Slowly turning his head, Peter looked up right into the barrel of a shotgun, and just catching a glance of the shooter showed he seemed to be wearing a costume of his own. 

“Get up”, the man said. “Slowly.”

Peter complied, slowing getting out of his kneeling position. Once fully standing he could properly look at the mysterious man, who seemed to be wearing a bright green ski mask and a dark purple bodysuit, as well as some generic branded gloves. Wait, Peter thought, I've seen that suit before.

“The man in black”, the man commented with a slightly impressed tone. “In my place. They tried to cheaply replicate you, the sinners. Did you see the punishment they received?”

“You’re the one who killed them?” Peter asked. There was a silence and a small hesitation, but the weapon stayed glued to his head. 

“Yes. I taught them a lesson. Plagiarism is a crime. I stopped them.”

“Let me get this straight”, Peter started, starting to feel annoyed. “Because these guys wanted to create a show similar to me, you went and killed them all? And plagiarism is only a crime of it goes over a copyright or trademark by the way.”

“I punished two!” the man snapped, ignoring the second sentence, slamming the shotgun against Peter’s head. He stumbled, but managed to stay upright. 

“What are you even called?” Peter asked.

“I’m Sin Eater.” That was the reply, and suddenly it clicked in Peter’s head. 

The villain of the show was going to be Sin Eater. Sin Eater would have been a murderer. So this guy made it real? By punishing the ‘sinners’, the people who were trying to make the show, who were imitating the man in black?

Peter realised he was dealing with a fanatic. The ‘Sin Eater’ was probably sick in the head. 

“Why’d you come back, Sin Eater?” Peter decided to ask, waiting for just the right moment to get this gun out of his face.

“I left my weapon”, Sin Eater admitted. “There wasn’t enough time this morning after I punished the sinners. I hid it, and wiped the cameras. I was going to come back for it later, once all the police left.”

Peter frowned. This guy had been here the whole time. But WHO is he? He also mentally slapped himself for entirely missing the cameras.

“You did a good job, pal”, Peter congratulated. “The police never found your weapon.”

“I know”, Sin Eater replied, reaching under the couch and grabbing the knife. The moment his gun hand wavered, right as his other was buried in the couch, Peter attacked.

Swinging around he hit Sin Eater in the wrist, making him drop the shotgun. He then kicked it out of the way, just as the murderer realised what was happening. 

Right as Peter went in to punch the costumed killer, Sin Eater turned around, just dodging the hit and countering with one of his own. Peter stumbled, but almost instantly recovered. 

Remembering he had a weapon, Sin Eater lunged at the vigilante, slicing at him with his knife hand. The man in black just missed getting hit, but Sin Eater was fast, already coming back with another slash.

Peter ducked, just in time too as he felt the rush of air just above his head. Before Sin Eater could make another comeback, he pushed his fist upwards, slamming the killer right in the jaw.

Sin Eater flew backwards, colliding with the floor and losing his weapon. He shook his head,  trying to get back into the fight. That uppercut had nearly taken him out. The man in black was quite the fighter it seemed.

Getting back to his feet, Sin Eater tackled Peter, ramming him against a wall. The pain arched through his back, and the moment it wasn’t excruciating, the vigilante brought his elbow down, right into the costumed murderer’s head.

Sin Eater dropped, and just before hitting the floor rolled backwards. Before he was fully out of the roll, Peter ran forward, sliding and nailing the man with both feet mid roll. Sin Eater toppled to the floor, and before he could recover found an arm around his neck, legs stopping his hips from moving and a hand holding his head back.

As the killer gasped, Peter applied more pressure to the hold, and after a minute or two of struggle, it ceased, Sin Eater finally unconscious. Peter let out a sigh of relief, untangling himself from the murderer.

Grabbing the shotgun, Peter went over and took the plastic bag he had attempted to earlier, and going over to the knife, put it in the bag. With that finally done, he went back over to the unconscious killer and made sure he was completely out. He definitely was.

After a moment, Peter went over to the crudely made and obviously cheap corner that housed the props, and grabbing some rope and tape, wound those materials around Sin Eater’s limbs, restraining and locking him in place.

Putting the shotgun and knife in an obvious place, Peter exited the building, and finding a payphone nearby, made a call. Paying the relatively cheap price for use, he called up the only logical number.

“Ugh... Hello?” Brett Mahoney’s voice asked over the phone. Peter felt a grin run across his face at the voice; even without him knowing Peter’s the one calling he still feels like he can rely on Brett.

Putting on his best harsh and gravelly voice, disguising it with the volume of rain impossible right now, he spoke up. “Officer, come to the Daly and Dumont murder scene. The killer has been apprehended.”

“Wait, wh-who the hell is this?” Peter heard Brett asked.

“The man in black.”

He heard a cough in surprise, but hung up before anything more could be said. Going across the street he climbed up the building’s fire escape, and once at the top settled himself in. 

He’d at least make sure the police got here before leaving. 

 

...

 

Around thirty minutes later, three squad cars pulled up out front of the building, and another five later had two of the officers pulling the restrained Sin Eater out of the building sans his mask, and two others holding a murder weapon each. Peter could just make out Brett talking with the officer holding the shotgun.

Once the cars had pulled away, Peter heard his phone start blaring ‘Bad Boys’, so he quickly answered. “Brett? What’s up man? It’s like, two or something.”

“It’s just past eleven, Parker”, Brett stated just after. “And I need you down at the Precinct. We just might have the killer of Ms. Daly and Mr. Dumont.”

Peter pushed surprise into his words, saying: “Seriously?! How’d we manage that?”

There was a pause, and he just knew Brett didn’t want to admit it was the man in black, not that he’d hold it against his partner. “It was a uh... anonymous tip?”

“You don’t sound too sure, Mahoney.”

“I am sure. Of course I am. Anonymous tip.”

“Sure... I’ll be there soon.”

And then Peter was running across the rooftops, over to the 15th Precinct.

 

...

 

“Here we go. Perp’s name is Stan Carter, the man who is Sin Eater, now both figuratively and literally.”

Peter nodded along, looking across the table at Carter. “What’ve you got to say for yourself, Mr. Carter?”

“Nothing that hasn’t already”, he answered, putting his palms flat on the table. It was unnerving, for some reason.

“Okay, then I’m gonna ask: why’d you do it? Why’d you kill Dumont and Daly?”

Carter stared at Peter with an empty gaze. “Because they were sinners. They copied someone else’s life without a thought, greedily taking the money and fighting each other like all the other sinners in this world.”

“So because they wanted a payday you killed them? You were going to be a leading actor on the show as well, Mr. Carter. You were Sin Eater”, Brett added, trying to get a simple answer. 

“You’re right, officer. I am Sin Eater. And I was never in it for the money. I knew what had to be done the moment those- those ‘people’ came along, leaving their ugly sins for all to see. It was disgusting. They needed to be punished.”

The room lapsed into silence, until Peter let out a sigh. “So you killed them, plain and simple. You admit it?”

Carter leant forward, pouring more of his eerie attention right into Peter’s eyes. “Yes officer. I am guilty. Guilty of murder to your ideas of justice, but to the people like me, like the man in black who take down the sinners, I will never be the guilty one. I feel no guilt either. So lock me up if that’s what you need to do, but know, my message is already out there. People will inevitably listen.”

“Alright, I think that’s enough”, Brett stated, getting out of his chair and already halfway out the room. “I’ll inform the Captain. You get this guy ready for a cell, Parker.”

Peter gave an unseen nod as he watched Brett go, and the moment the door closed, Carter spoke up again. “You’re like me, aren’t you officer?”

“Ex-excuse me?” Peter asked. 

“You feel the need to punish the sinners, don’t you? Even when the law doesn’t allow you to. I can feel it”, Carter continued, as if he never heard Peter speak.

“Well unless you’re on something pal, you’ll see I’m perfectly in the sights of proper law procedure right now”, Peter said, pulling Carter up after adjusting his cuffs.

“Of course, officer. But I wonder. The other police showed up without you, and it seems awfully convenient the man in black knew where the crime scene was. I paid attention you know; there hasn’t been a statement yet about the murders, so the public doesn’t know about them quite yet. Maybe the show would gave been quite on the mark- excluding the vigilante’s gender of course.”

Peter started pulling the killer along faster, closing in on the cells. He wasn’t going to think about how fast his heart was beating, or how hard his grip on Carter’s arm was. “I don’t know what you’re trying to imply, Carter, but I’m pretty sure someone would know if the man in black was a cop.”

Peter close to shoved Carter in his cell, just remembering to uncuff him. “Tell me, officer Parker, how long do you think the charade will last in a building full of detectives and intelligent police men and women? But don’t worry, I won’t tell, not with the good work you’ve done. I just suggest adjusting your voice in your next fight. Not all criminals are dim-witted you know.”

Peter said nothing as he walked away. It's a bluff, he told himself, nothing but a bluff. Nothing but a bluff. He doesn't really know. Nothing but a bluff.

 

...

 

The next day Peter was watching the news, and when it came to the topic of the double homicide, he felt unnaturally nervous. 

"The killer, actor Stan Carter, has been proven guilty of committing two counts of murder: both his co-stars Ms. Daly, and Mr. Jasper Dumont. While specifics are still confined to the 15th Precinct, the station’s officers responsible for the arrest, and the further NYPD, Captain Frank Castle had this to say..."

Peter changed the channel after that, much to the apparent annoyance of Annie.

Peter just went back up to his room, closing the door behind him. The lock had stopped working about a year ago, and ever since then Peter had sworn Annie to a ‘knock before entering’ policy. It had worked perfectly so far. 

Immediately going over to the cabinet, he pulled out his man in black box and checked his outfit. There were no rips or marks that could’ve left identifying marks, so how the hell had Carter made a connection. Did he seriously go off voices? Or was it all a massive bluff like he hoped.

The answer was a mystery, and he doubted he’d get the answer soon.

Just after putting the box back, he heard his phone beep, and getting off the floor and looking at it, he felt a small flash of panic. 

It was Jen.

Staring at the message intently, he double checked every word, just to make sure he didn’t mistake any part of it. Hey, I think we should meet up soon. Discuss the other night.

Peter pushed his back against the side of the bed, and let out sigh. It was going to happen sooner or later, but he’d just hoped he’d have more time to figure out what to say. But he was going to do this. He wasn’t going to let Jen down again.

Sounds like a good idea. When and where?

 

...

 

"That's right Jo, up-and-coming actor Stan Carter brutally murdered his co-stars, and with the information we have at hand, it sure didn't sound pretty!"

Carter chuckled at the news. Scott, he’s pretty sure the reporter’s name is. The man is obviously hiding some very ugly sins, he can see it.

Suddenly there was a bang on his door, and Carter can admit he jumped a little. “Lucky you, Sin Gobbler, you got a visitor.”

Carter raised an eyebrow, but when there was no more explaining, he simply followed. Walking past the other inmates at the prison was irritating though. They didn’t try to hide their sins, and it both impressed and enraged him.

Finally the guard stopped walking, and simply gestured to a room. Carter walked in, and sat down in front of the man there. Whoever he was wore an empty smile, and Carter knew this man was a sinful one.

“Hello, Mr. Carter”, the man greeted. “It’s nice to meet you.”

Carter slowly took the man’s outstretched man and shook it, a suspicious look on his face. “Sure, Mr...?”

“Kingpin. Call me Kingpin. Everyone else does. The people that are smart at least.”

“Okay Kingpin, why are you here to see me?”

“I was just curious, is all”, Kingpin answered, leaning back in his chair. “I heard it was the man in black that sent you here.”

“It was actually the police I believe”, Carter corrected, getting a laugh out of Kingpin.

“Please, Mr. Carter, there’s no need for jokes! You and I both know what the man did. I just wanted to know, what did you think of him?”

Carter breathed, not feeling the need to chuckle. “He was... exceptional. His offensive attacks were perfect to counteract mine, and his defensive moves were good enough to avoid getting stabbed. He... he knows what he’s doing too. Always the sinful he attacks, never the innocent.”

“So he’s, what? God’s perfect warrior? Sin-free?” Kingpin asked. 

“Oh no, of course not! He’s got sins- everyone does- but if I had to choose between him and anyone else, he’d be the one left standing. He is... a force, if you understand my thinking.”

“I think I do”, Kingpin replied after a quiet stretch.

“It’s time sir”, a man said to Kingpin. Carter watched impassively as the man flashed that unnatural smile again.

“It was a pleasure, Mr. Carter. Perhaps we’ll meet again someday”, Kingpin said as he started walking away. Carter didn’t watch though, more interested on when he would return to his cell.

Once the man was gone, the guard came up to him and escorted him back. 

It was interesting, all in all, this Kingpin man. Maybe they would meet again. Maybe they wouldn’t. 

Carter didn’t particularly care which way it went. He just wondered what the Kingpin wanted with the man in black...

Chapter Text

"So uh, how you- how have you been?"

Peter mentally slapped himself at asking that. Oh, I wonder how the woman you stood up the last time you were supposed to meet up is feeling- especially towards YOU!

Jen gave him a severely unamused look, but answered since he was at least trying. "I'm fine, I guess. What a-about you?"

“Good enough.”

The two entered a stretch of awkward silence. Whether that was because of annoyance towards the other or just not knowing what to say was anyone’s guess. But either way, both Jen and Peter tried to at least make eye contact, even if it was only in brief periods, before their eyes would start darting around again, not looking at the other person.

Eventually the silence was broken when one of the waitresses of the small diner- their chosen meeting place- came over. “Hi. What would you like?” The waitress gave them both a once over, and then a look of recognition and a small smile crossed her face. “Oh, hey Jen. Almost didn’t recognise ya without the business getup.”

Jen chuckled lightly, returning the smile. “I’ll just ha-have the usual if that’s alright, T-Tracy.”

The waitress nodded. “Of course. And you, sir?”

Peter threw a quick glance to Jen that said: you're on a first name basis with these people? before answering. “Uh, I’ll- I’ll just have the same as Jen.”

There was another nod, and then the waitress was gone. When she was completely gone, Peter returned to his bewildered look. Jen simply shrugged. “I’m a r-regular. Come here i-if it’s late after wo-work, and eat and review a few things.”

“Oh, that makes sense. I’m not a regular anywhere.”

“You could be.”

Peter shrugged. Again, there was a period of silence, until finally, after a lot of fidgeting and mental work, Peter spoke up again. “Okay, I think it’s time for me to stop stalling and get to what I want to say. I’m really, really sorry for standing you up the other day. It wasn’t cool- at all- and I’d understand if you didn’t want to associate with me anymore.”

There was a quiet beat, Jen processing all that until she let out a sigh. “That’s kinda o-over the top, Pete. I mean, I-I am annoyed, and em-embarrassed and disappointed that y-you did that, but it doesn’t mean I never want t-to see you ag-again. I do a-accept your apology though.”
Peter let out a relieved sigh once he heard that, a small grin on his face. “Alright. If- if you’re sure.”

“I am, Pete.”

For a small number of moments they entered a finally comfortable silence, until Peter couldn’t help but ask: “So what is your regular order anyways?”

Jen close to imitated his grin. “You’ll just h-have to wait and see.”

 

...

 

The five associates, four men and a woman- all stood around the room, waiting for the final member of their ‘team’. While three of them wore their regular attires, the other two wore a similar getup: black sweater, gloves with combat boots and pants as well. One also had a mask covering the top half of his face, while the other clasped it in his hands. 

“You look comfy there, Poindexter”, Tony commented to the fully suited assassin, trying to at least pretend he wasn’t nervous being there. Bullseye turned and grinned at the billionaire. 

“It is, Richy Rich. I can see why the man in black wears it.”

“When is Kingpin here?” Kraven demanded, marching circles around the room.

“He’ll be here soon, brother”, Dmitri answered, looking down at the mask he would soon wear. He wouldn’t say it out loud, but he felt honoured to act as the man in black along with Bullseye. He’d been aching to use his acting skills for a long while now, as there weren’t much opportunities running a gang.

A few moments later, the door to the room was opened, and out came the leader of the group. The Kingpin moved to the centre of the room, and grinned to all its temporary inhabitants. “It is so good to see you all.”

“What are we doing?” Viper instantly asked. “The assassin and Russian, dressed as the man in black. What is this game?”

Kingpin kept up his eerie grin. “Well Madame, if I told you now, the beauty would be ruined.” Viper gave him a suspicious look, but quietened anyways, so he continued. “Alright, what we’re about to do my friends, is big. The beginning of my plan. It will be amazing. Viper, Sergei, you have your men in the right places?”

“Of course”, they both replied.

“Good. All the weapons are in working order, Mr. Stark?”

Tony gave the Kingpin a furious look, then gave in, sighing. He just had to remember: this was all to keep Pepper safe. “Yes. All the guns I made are ready.”

“Excellent!” Kingpin cheered. “Alright then. Poindexter, Dmitri, it’s time to embrace your roles and get out there!”

Those two gave nods, then exited the room, Dmitri putting his mask on as he went. With them gone, the Kingpin turned back to the other three and clapped his hands.

“This is going to be wonderful.”

 

...

 

“Jen, I’m stealing your spot as this place’s regular customer.”

Jen laughed as Peter took another bite of his pie. It was a fruit one surprisingly, and usually he wasn’t one to eat a pie period, but this place did it good. Peter would definitely come with Annie eventually.

“I didn’t r-realise there could on-only be one”, Jen remarked as she had some of her own food. 

“Well since my word is totally final, that’s how it’s gonna be”, Peter joked, leaning back on his seat. “Unless you there is room for the two of us.”

Jen grinned. “I’m sure w-we can figure so-something out, cowboy.”

Peter just smiled, and the two finished eating in silence, Peter sort of listening in to the other conversations around them for a moment. Nothing interesting though. Eventually he turned back to Jen, and after taking a breath said: “Hey, I’m... I’m really glad we did this. Met up and sorted things out.”

Jen shrugged. “It only to-took like, f-five minutes to figure everything ou-out. But I agree, this is n-nice. We should do it again soon.”

Peter perked up at that comment, but tried not to let himself get too excited. “Again? Like, a ‘solo, just us get together’ again?”

Jen let out an awkward cough and ducked her head. “Yeah. B-But only i-if you wanted- wanted to?”

Peter directed a warm smile to his friend, and carefully put his hand over hers. She didn’t pull away. “I’d love that, as long as you do too. And I promise I won’t stand you up again.”

At that, Jen fully raised her head to look at Peter, also turning her hand and taking a light hold of Peter’s. “Can’t wait.”
The two finally made proper eye contact with each other with all that said, genuine and vibrant smiles inevitably ended on their faces, and a warm feeling in their chests both knew was definitely much more than friendly affection. But of course, the moment was- even if accidentally- ruined.

“Here’s the bill”, the waitress informed, basically startling both Jen and Peter. Peter instantly grabbed it and looked it over.

“Huh, not that had actually. I’ll pay it- not that I wouldn’t have before”, he stated. He looked over to see Jen giving him a strained look. “It’s fine, Jen. Plus, it makes me feel a little better about how I messed up last time we were supposed to get together.”

Jen was quiet for a few moments, but she knew it would be pointless to try and change Peter’s mind, she simply let out a sigh. “Alright. But I’m p-paying next time.”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “We’ll see.” With that said, Peter quickly and easily paid the bill, and the two left the diner. Peter let out a sigh once he exited the place, and after checking the time and seeing it wasn’t actually that late, turned to Jen. “Hey, want some company on the way back?” 

Jen thought it over, and remembering how walking home alone had ended up with a confrontation with thugs and the man in black last time decided to make a hopefully smart choice. “I’d love it.”

 

...

 

Meanwhile, back in Hell’s Kitchen, a ‘man in black’ stalked across a rooftop in the northern part of the area, while another went around the southern parts. These two were of course Dmitri and Poindexter.

“Alright boss”, Poindexter started. “I’m ready.”

“Dmitri?”

“I am ready as well, sir.”

“Alright. You know what to do, you two. Do it.”

Both black-clad men gave an unseen nod, then got to work. First off, Dmitri sent a call out to his men, telling them to start their assignments. Bullseye simply jumped down to the streets below.

“Hello. Is this yours?” Poindexter asked an unassuming man, right before shoving a blade straight through his gut. The man cried out in pain, collapsing to the floor as he bled out. Some onlookers screamed, either calling for help, actually filming the horror, or straight up frozen in fear. 

He moved on them first.

Yanking the blade out of the dead man, the assassin then threw it at an elderly man, who of course suffered a familiar fate. Poindexter then pulled two other objects, a card and another blade. He threw one at a woman who had been filming and the other at another shocked man. 

Poindexter grinned as the people’s senses started kicking in, sending them running all in different directions. “Awesome. Let the reign of the man in black begin”, he said to himself, cackling just after then running down the streets.

Meanwhile, Dmitri jumped across the rooftops to his destination. In that moment he was glad he’d done so much physical training so he could do his own stunts back when he was an actor. It was a talent he was steadily getting back into, all the jumps feeling surprisingly natural.

He finally made it to his destination, and was almost immediately shot down by his own men. “Hey, stop! It is me, Dmitri, you idiots!” he berated. That shut them down. The Russian then dropped down, right between his men. “Alright men, is everything in place?”

One of the men nodded. Dmitri flicked a hand and another man ran off, coming back a few minutes later with a large device. He handed it to his leader who gave a nod as thanks, and then he was back in the rafters and quickly the roofs again, already gone.

“Are we sure boss is not man in black?” one asked the others. He got shrugs and one slap to the head for asking.

 

...

 

“-and the guy was wearing full on spandex! Bright red and blue! No self-respect I said.”

Jen couldn’t help but laugh at the story, unconsciously leaning onto Peter to keep her up, not that either of them noticed. “And y-you get the one Sp-Spider-Man knockoff at the station a-all the time?”

“All the time”, Peter confirmed, waving his hands in the air. “I’m telling you, some guys shouldn’t be allowed to read those comics- well actually, only that guy.”

“Definitely an interesting l-life.”

Peter nodded along as they kept walking. A few minutes later and the two had made it back to Jen’s house, the woman only slightly lagging behind as she grabbed her keys. Once those were grabbed, Jen closed the distance and unlocked the door, standing just inside her house while Peter simply stood in a spot outside.

“So... I guess this is goodbye for now”, Peter said as he gave one last smile. “I’ll see you soon Jen.”

She gave a small nod, watching Peter go a few steps before she couldn’t help herself and call out. “Pete, hey, w-wait a second!” He stopped walking after hearing that, backtracking a few- but not- all the steps he took. Jen took a breath before continuing. “I uh, I jus-just wanted to th-thank you for tonight. It was really n-nice.”

Peter raised an eyebrow. “Well, I guess you’re welcome, but if I remember correctly you told me where we should go. So thank you, too.”

Jen chuckled, walking up in front of Peter. “You c-could’ve just taken it, you know?”

Peter gave a joking shrug, deciding not to comment on the arms around his shoulders and the hands on the back of his neck. “You could’ve just taken it as well.”

“Maybe we both could”, Jen replied, leaning up the slightest bit. Neither joked or commented as they inched closer, finishing the distance with a light and brief kiss. Peter let out a small hum during the move, putting his hands on Jen’s waist. During the moment, a tiny thought about this situation played in his head, involving some thugs and the man in black, but he almost instantly banished that thought. This wasn’t about those people, this moment was about Peter and Jen.

And then it was over, and they pushed their faces apart. Jen made a small sigh as she pulled away, noting the surprised look on Peter’s face. She felt a small moment of nerves, but that ended quickly when a smile flashed across his face. “W-was that okay? That wasn’t t-too much, right?” Jen asked.

Peter shook his head, still holding on to her, as she did the same to him. “It wasn’t too much. But are you... are you sure you want to do this, even after I-”

He didn’t get to finish that thought, as Jen kissed him again, and this time he contributed himself. This time it was longer, and a surprised moan from Jen let Peter know he was definitely doing things right.

When they pulled away again, both had to take a moment to catch their breath, and had very obvious red faces. “Does that answer y-your question? Because I do w-want this. Just t-try not to stand me u-up again.”

Peter grinned. “You got it, Miss. Walters.”

Jen let out a small laugh, and after a few quick seconds of silence she leant up a little, quietly and a little nervously saying: “If-if you want, y-you can come in?”

A thoughtful look crossed Peter’s face. He did want to, really, but knew it wasn’t quite time. “I- I would but... I don’t- I don’t want to rush this, if I can call it ‘this’. It’s not quite time to me, if that makes sense? I want it to be natural, when we’re one hundred percent sure.”

“That makes sense”, Jen agreed.

“And I wanna make sure Annie’s okay, spend a little time with her- not that I don’t want to spend time with you, I just-”

“It’s okay, Pete”, Jen cut in, silencing him. “I want this t-to work too, and maybe th-that was a rushed move. Go see Annie, and know you c-can come here whenever you want.”

“Okay”, Peter replied. “I’ll see you... tomorrow? Would that be good? Maybe I could stop in after work.”

“That sounds perfect”, Jen agreed. “I’ll s-see you tomorrow. Unless you stand m-me up!”

Peter raised up for a moment, but seeing the grin on Jen’s face deflated and chuckled. “Hey, I thought you accepted my apology? And I said I won’t do it again.”

Jen laughed as she leant on Peter. “I know. I d-did accept, but that doesn’t me-mean I’ll leave it alone forever. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

Peter nodded, then gave Jen another quick kiss before a final goodbye. As he walked away, he glanced back briefly just in time to see Jen re-enter her house and close the door. As he called a taxi and got in, a huge grin crossed his face, realisation finally sinking in.

He was with Jen. It was actually, really happening.

Peter stayed like that, in his own little wide grinned, blissful world until he heard the taxi driver gasp out: “Holy shit!”

Hearing that a frown crossed Peter’s face. Taking a look out himself, Peter had a similar reaction. “Holy shit!”

Hell’s Kitchen was littered in debris and bodies. The city was on fire...