This is a 'what if' fic set in the Marvel Civil War universe, and will eventually be slash between Tony/Peter (Iron Man/Spider-Man). I always thought they had such great chemistry in the Civil War comics. The 'what if' is how would the Civil War be impacted if Tony had a second override and kept Spider-Man from switching sides. I'm using the Marvel Civil War comics Civil War (my baby!), The Amazing Spider-Man Civil War, and Peter Parker, Spider-Man Civil War as direct references and Wikipedia for all other information.
In case you aren't familiar with the Civil War comics (as I was when I read my first Civil War fic), here's a brief summary up to where my fic starts:
Four upstart superheroes fight crime for a television series and face off some dangerous supercriminals just for the ratings—and in the process get themselves and 600 civilians blown up. A Stamford Elementary School with the children inside gets destroyed also, which became the rallying cry of civilians that superheroes should unmask and be personally responsible for their actions. This Superhero Registration Act would make superheroes paid government employees who would have to be screened before allowed to fight crime. After talking to the president and getting verbally abused by a grieving mother whose child had been killed, Tony Stark decides to become the main champion of the Superhero Registration Act. While Stark is backed by the public, Captain America and those opposed to the act form an anti-registration group and continue to fight crime masked. Stark convinces Peter, a good friend and protégé who lives with MJ and Aunt May in the Avengers Tower/Stark Tower, to unmask in public to encourage other superheroes. After all, Spider-Man more than anyone else has desperately tried to keep his identity secret. Although reluctant, Peter unmasks on public television and becomes a poster boy for registration. A huge face-off between Iron Man and Captain America's two groups leads to the accidental death of Goliath (Bill Foster) at the hands of the out-of-control cyborg Thor created by the Hank Pym, Reed Richards and Tony Stark. While some of Captain America's troops join Iron Man in fear of what could happen to them, most of the once neutral superheroes join Captain America to protest Iron Man's brutal methods. Spider-Man too rethinks his decision and decides to run away with MJ and Aunt May to join the rebels. Iron Man stops Peter before he can leave, and a fight ensues. Peter looks down for the count, having Stark's Iron Spider armor freeze up on him at Stark's secret code (passcode omega omega epsilon nine), but then Spider-Man overrides his suit with his own code (passcode surprise).
And now for what happens next…
PS, disclaimer: I do not own anything affiliated with Marvel comics.
Invent to Control
Stark learned at an early age that the world was cold. To shield himself from the elements, man made clothes and then invented armor. Stark had been born naïve and naked like everyone else, but his sharp analytical mind separated him from the masses. His mind made him understand the need for armor at an age when other children still chafed at the feel of silk socks—his mind made him better than all of them. He had discovered this epiphany at the bottom of a very deep bourbon glass many years ago, during what he curtly labeled his 'coulda been better years.' He had had many epiphanies during those regrettably unforgettable years, as he drowned pathetically in liquid fire, seeking both oblivion and answers in the same gulping breath.
As a child, his parents thought raising him—'grooming' they called it—meant tossing him like a limp ragdoll between pretentious private tutors, unattached nannies and playground bullies. Out of these three, young Stark embraced most passionately the playground and its childish brutality. While his nanny sat on a bench reading a trashy romance novel, Stark discovered a world away from adults, one he could finally control. His extraordinary intelligence and eerie maturity, which unnerved adults and isolated Stark, finally gave him a sense of power. While mothers viewed the slides and sandboxes from a distance with approving smiles and quiet exclamations of "look how well they're getting along," young Stark systematically dissected the breathing, tumultuous jungle that made up his then small world. He observed and catalogued and maneuvered and dominated the playground with sophisticated savagery.
He learned that there were only two laws that gave any semblance of order to the sandbox chaos: the boy with the biggest shovel had control, and secondly, that when you had control, you kept it at all cost.
You built the tools that defined you, thus molding your abstract self into a material form. However, if you didn't have the power to retain possession of those tools, what was stopping the next big brute from bringing you back down to ground zero? It took ingenuity to build a machine, but it only took muscle to steal it. Granted, muscle could not fix a machine once broken, but hooligans never bothered trying to fix their stolen instruments of precision. Like locust, they would instead mob and devour the next pushover intellect.
Young Stark felt nothing but disdain for the unthinking bully. To rule absolutely, a mind had to control the muscle and tools. You could have the best sand-making tools, the bucket and shovel and sniveling sidekick, but without the skill—the hell with the rest of it. You were still going to have only a lump of sand and failure in the end.
Stark had witnessed playground dictatorships topple firsthand—hell, he had been the invisible hand moving the mob—and resolved to never be one of those children with the skinned knees and flayed hearts.
Hence, the two personal codes he faithfully conducted his life by: build the best machines, and have absolute control over them.
It was simple and brutal, and more than his magnetic chest plate, it kept his heart beating and his head above water.
Take his present predicament.
"You have no right to toy with people's lives in your power play, Iron Man. I hope you know how to subtract by three, because count me and my family out!" Spider-Man snapped out as he rose from the ground in one fluid motion, regaining control of the Iron Spider suit with his patched programming. In the general present and immediate future, Iron Man seemed in a bind. With cyborg Thor's malfunction (an admittedly unethical venture in itself) causing the death of Goliath, Spider-Man's turning only hinted at the changing winds of the wavering superhero community. Feeling his command slip between his metal fingers as desertion increased and villains replaced friends in his ranks, Stark clenched his fist more tightly around his remaining tools. Mercy belonged to times of prosperity.
Just as Iron Man felt no guilt layering an override into Spider-Man's suit, he felt no surprise at Parker's counter program, proving once again his intuitive intelligence and usefulness to Stark's cause. Unfortunately for Parker, Stark never left a variable unaccounted for.
Stark's mask hid his smile as Spider-Man charged full throttle towards him in his personally designed suit, a work of hand-crafted genius if he did say so himself, and whose lethality he was very, very familiar with. What Spider-Man didn't know was that Stark's iron rules once again trumped all, and Spidey's elation of overriding Stark's override was an empty victory.
Control—he had control of his emotions, of his surroundings, of the unwitting Spider-Man.
Calmly, he said to the Iron Spider suit barreling towards him, "Passcode fucked."
Instantly the contortionist's liquid movements froze stiff, his momentum bringing him to a skidding halt in front of Stark's ironclad feet. Iron Man looked down impassively, objectively studying the wreck of his protégé, confidant and friend. And realized he wasn't really that impassive, that he was angry and disappointed and insulted and goddammit—even hurt—that Spider-Man's actions forced this to happen.
"And I thought I was a paranoid double-checker with my front door. How many nights did that fear of an override overriding your override keep you up, Tin Man?" That was pure Peter, treating a crisis flippantly. All that anger surged down into his foot, like lightning seeking ground, and he impulsively planted it on the small of Spider-Man's back. The force expelled an audible amount of air from the slender young man.
Stark leaned down to Spider-Man, grounding that foot in good, and whispered into his ear, "Peter, do not test my nonexistent patience right now."
"So—you gonna," Spiderman wheezed out, his gasping heaves jostling but not dislodging Stark's heavy iron boot, "gonna ship me out to—to your negative zone—detention with love and—a fond farewell?"
"Hardly," Stark snorted, his suit's microphone distorting the noise into a harsh metallic rasp. "As far as the public is concerned, you are still an officially registered, law-abiding superhero."
"Somehow, I don't think that—I'm going to be let off—with a slap to the wrist. But by all means, don't let my—my disbelief convince you otherwise."
Stark hauled up Spider-Man's immobilized form by the scruff of his neck, like an angry lion with a disobedient cub. He even gave him a good shake just for the hell of it. "Good guess, you didn't even need to use your 50-50. I am running you through rehabilitation once we get you a new Stark Tower suite—you've certainly trashed this one."
"As a professional alcoholic, shouldn't that be my line to you?"
Set on an impenetrable faceplate, Stark's empty yellow eyes glowed impassively at Spider-Man. The stiff straightness and stillness of his body suggested a restrained violence. "How can you joke at a time like this?"
The beaten super hero gave him one of his most charming, teeth-baring grins ever. It was an unsettling sight. The lower half of the mask had torn during his ungainly tumble, revealing thin lips quirked to show teeth. The two large, blank golden eyes of Peter's suit reflected Iron Man's distorted figure. Those thin, expressive lips began moving, and Stark had to draw himself away from the image to focus on the words: "I need something to occupy my time, because I can't move my hands to throttle your neck."
Despite having control of Spider-Man's suit, a shiver crawled up his spine at the wrongness of Peter's murderous tone. The brilliant red and gold suit revealed nothing of its owner's misgivings. Come on, Tony, get a hold of yourself: who's in the working suit? he thought to himself. Nonchalantly, or rather hopefully with all the appearance of nonchalance, he said to Spider-Man, "Whatever you say, Webhead. You're going to thank me for this in the long run."
Still contorted in his mid-run pose, Spider-Man was the most awkward luggage Stark ever had the displeasure of lugging around in his Iron Man armor. Not in the mood for any questions or looks from servants, superheroes or SHIELD agents, Iron Man opted to fly Spider-Man up several stories of the Stark Tower rather than take the elevator. Spider-Man's unyielding metal and synthetic fabric body pressed harshly into his chest as he powered up the repulsor rays for takeoff. Air whistled in his ears as they skimmed past windows of the towering metal and glass skyscraper known as Stark Tower. For a long time, it had been known as the Avengers Tower, but those glory days died with six hundred civilians and four irresponsible superheroes. With the Civil War tearing the superhero community to tatters, Stark had buried any hope of the Avengers reassembling and now called the tower by its old name.
Stark Tower: the name felt barren now, like the metal skeleton of a structure without walls to protect it from rain or wind.
Despite the screaming airstream and leftover adrenaline pounding in his ears, the armor's highly effective hearing system picked up Spider-Man's muttered, "Oh, you just wait until I show you my appreciation, boss."
The way Spider-Man said it, Stark didn't think he was going to get a kiss on the cheek.