Chapter three: Lost Family
Tony and Peter worked on the Spider-Man suit well into the night, fixing a few of the small tears in the sturdy fabric. Tony noted that some of the internal wirings had been damaged by Peter's numerous falls. He'd have to figure out a way to reinforce the wiring so Peter's suit's internal functions wouldn't just go out on him one day. "It seems like after all this time you'd be better at the web-swinging thing." Tony turned towards the young man to find him sound asleep, his arms acting as pillows under his head. Tony smiled slightly, he'd never seen Peter sleep before, and according to Happy, he had been awake for the entire flight to Germany.
"I guess everyone runs out of energy at some point," Tony whispered to himself as he slipped his black suit jacket off and draped it over Peter's shoulders. Deciding they could finish in the morning since they were giving Peter the day off school, the kid needed a day actually to relax.
"You have an incoming call, boss." Friday's heavy Irish accent rang out in the workshop.
"SHHHH!" Tony hissed, spinning towards Peter, who was still sleeping. Letting out a sigh of relief, Tony left the workshop. "Who the hell is calling me at 4 in the morning?" Tony questioned as he tapped the holographic screen to view the caller. "Flushing Hospital Medical Center?" Pepper was at the Avengers Facility upstate, which had a medical center on it, so who could be calling him from there? "Stark speaking," Tony answered the call with a confused tone.
"Yes, Mr. Stark, this is Dr. Palmer at Metro-general hospital, I'm looking for Peter Parker, and I was told he was most likely with you." The doctor spoke quickly.
"Uh," Tony hesitated. "He's here. What can I do for you?" Now he was baffled. What could they need from Peter?
"May Parker was brought here by ambulance, and-" Tony immediately cut her off.
"We'll be there in 20 minutes. Make sure your landing pad is clear." And with that, Tony ended the call and rushed back into the workshop. "Peter, Peter, wake up. We gotta go." Tony shook the teen awake.
"Wha-" Peter's head popped up off his arms, wiping the drool from his chin. "Oh, I'm sorry, Mr. Stark, I didn't mean to fall asleep." He began apologizing.
"Peter, your Aunt is in the hospital. We need to go. Now." Tony practically dragged Peter out of the chair and to the elevator, taking them to the roof. Peter insisted he could get there faster by himself, but Tony assured him that would blow his cover. "We can get there the fastest flying." He promised him as the two scrambled into the helicopter.
The flight was short but tense and silent aside from Peter's feet tapping on the floor. Usually, Tony probably would have snapped at him and told him to knock it off, but this was different. May was the only family Peter had, and if something happened to her... Tony didn't want to think about how devastated the kid would be.
The helicopter reached the hospital in 20 minutes, and as the helicopter began its descent towards the roof, Peter lost his patience and forced the door open. The metal squealed and bent. "Peter, wait!" Tony tried to stop him as Peter jumped 15 feet to the platform below.
Peter made his way through the hospital as fast as his legs would carry him until he made it to the emergency room. "I'm looking for May Parker?" He questioned the nurse frantically, his desperation and fear apparent to anyone who looked at him.
"Mr. Parker?" A woman called to him before the confused nurse could answer. Peter turned towards the woman and nodded anxiously. "Mr. Parker, I'm Doctor Christine Palmer. We need to have a word in private." The doctor directed Peter to an exam room and closed the curtain, only to have Tony yank it back open and waltz into the room. "Uh, Mr. Stark, I need a moment alone with Mr. Parker." Dr. Palmer placed a hand on his chest to try and push him from the room. Peter let a low growl escape his throat.
"Just tell me what's going on with my Aunt May!" Peter yelled. He was having an anxiety attack, putting his already heightened senses on alert.
The doctor sighed, running her hand through her light red hair. "Your Aunt fainted, and a neighbor heard her yelling for you." Peter felt sick when he heard that. He should have been home with her. "We did an MRI when she arrived here, and we discovered a tumor in her brain." Tony gasped slightly, but he kept his face strong as he gripped Peter's shoulder when the boy stumbled back and leaned against the exam table, having the wind taken from his lungs. "I know this is a lot to take in. Just remember that people beat this every day." Peter stayed quiet, his hands visibly trembling. "When you're ready, she's in room 616." Dr. Palmer gave Peter a consolation sigh as she left him in the small room.
The two stayed in silence for a long time, Tony never releasing his hold on Peter's shoulder. "I need to make a call, Pete; take a minute before you go see her." Peter turned to his mentor, tears threatening to spill out onto his reddened cheeks. "She needs your strength now." Tony left the small room. "Friday, get me a list of the best hospitals for Neurology, and find me one with an open space," Tony ordered the AI he carried with him on his phone.
Peter made his way to May's room, praying to wake up from this and have it all be some horrible nightmare. "Hey, Pete." May's sweet voice called out. Peter hadn't even realized he'd walked into the room. Her head had white bandaging around it, and she looked exhausted, but she had a warm smile as she extended her hand to Peter. Peter pulled a chair up to the bed and took her hand.
Peter felt like he was six years old again, finding out his parents had been killed in an accident. He felt alone and afraid. But this was different before he'd had his Uncle Ben and his Aunt May to lean on. If something happened to May, he'd be all alone. He was the last Parker. "Pete, I need to tell you something," She paused, closing her eyes as tight as possible. Ben had promised Richard never to tell Peter this, but she didn't want Peter to think he was alone if something happened to her. "I don't know how to say this. I was never SUPPOSED to say this," Again, she stopped, wishing it was an easier thing to say.
The longer she took to speak, the more anxious Peter got. The boy's mouth dried out, and he could feel his hands getting clammy. "What is it?" Peter asked, squeezing her hand tighter.
"How ya holding up?" Tony's voice broke the somber silence when he entered the room, sitting near the door.
May sighed, slightly annoyed by his intrusion but smiled warmly at the man. "I'm okay. Just tired." She lied, trying to be strong for the boy she'd raised.
"We're having you transferred to the Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore tomorrow morning." May raised an eyebrow, a tad confused. "They're one the best in the country when it comes to handling brain tumors." Peter turned towards Tony.
"I can't afford that." Which was true, May could barely afford medication when she got colds, let alone go to one of the best hospitals in the country.
Tony shrugged. "That's okay. You're not paying for it." Peter gasped and released May's hand, jumping to his feet, he threw his arms around Tony's neck. Tony wasn't the most affectionate man on the planet but allowed his arm to wrap around the teen.
"Mr. Stark," May spoke up. "Can I have a minute alone with Peter, please?" She was anxious, and it showed in her tone and in her eyes.
"Of course." Tony released Peter and quietly exited the room.
May exhaled thankfully and gestured for Peter to retake the seat next to her bed. "What I'm about to say will probably be really confusing and hard to hear, and I wasn't supposed to tell you, but I think you have a right to know." With one more deep breath, she went for it. "You were adopted, Peter." It was surreal to speak the words out loud; May never thought she would.
The teen sat back in his seat. It felt like someone had punched him in the stomach. "W-what? When? How?" Peter asked, stunned by the sudden revelation.
"I don't know the circumstances, honey. I never asked." May wished she had now.
"So," Peter paused, a hand unconsciously gripping the side of his head. "Where are my real parents?" A million questions were swirling around his brain. If they'd kept this from him for so long, what else could they be hiding?
"I don't know," May spoke honestly. "They never said anything about your real Father, and all I know about your real Mother is that they were afraid of her." May watched Peter as his brilliant, but young mind tried to make sense of all of this.
"You said you weren't supposed to tell me. Why?" Peter's eyes finally met May's. They showed his confusion and his pain; this was a lot for anyone to take in, let alone a 15-year-old kid who thought his parents had been dead for nearly ten years.
"Your Uncle Ben and I promised your parents that if anything ever happened to them, we would take care of and protect you. They didn't want you to know you were adopted because they were afraid you'd find out who your true Mother was." She paused, a feeling of guilt rushing over her, but she pushed that feeling to the back of her mind. "I don't want to think you're all alone in the world if I don't beat this." May found herself choking on the words as they came pouring out.
Peter moved from his seat and sat on the bed next to May, who instinctively began rubbing his back. The look of hurt and confusion on his young face made May cringe. She just wanted to give him all the answers that she didn't have. "Should I try to find her?" Peter asked, knowing she wouldn't know what to tell him. "There must be a reason they were so afraid of her, right?" Peter tried to rationalize why they'd lied to him.
"I don't know, Pete." May again realized how out of her depth she was. "I want to believe their fear was backed with a rational explanation, but I don't know. Just know that whatever you decide to do I will always support you." She spoke kindly, knowing his heart must be breaking in his chest. Having the truth kept from him was hard enough on her to have spent so many years. She couldn't imagine how he must have felt.
Another wave of anxiety rushed over the teen. "What if she doesn't want me?" Peter asked with a quivering breath. If his real Mom was alive, did she give him up because she didn't want him?
May reached her hand across Peter's chest and gripped his chin with her fingers, forcing him to look at her. "If she doesn't want you, it's her loss, not yours." She assured him in the sweetest voice she could, brushing the tears on his cheeks away with the back of her hand. "I can't tell you what to do, but if you decide to look for her your Uncle Ben kept a box of your Dad's research journals in the attic in my room. There might be something in it that could help." Peter let out a quivering breath. "Come here," May ordered softly, pulling him into her and allowing him to sob softly into her chest. Peter could figure everything out later, right now he needed to be a kid for a minute.
The Hammer Industries warehouse was impressive. They even had a room set up for him hidden in the back of the facility. "Georges Batroc!" A slim, eccentric man exclaimed as he came into the small white room. "I have to say I'm a huge fan!" Hammer was wealthy, that was obvious and obviously knew who he was, but why did he break him out of prison? Batroc chose to stay quiet but did flash a small smile. "I mean 36 kill missions and then to go toe-to-toe with Captain freaking America?" Hammer looked to the two guards, who stood shoulder to shoulder just behind him. Batroc took note of the file tucked under one the men's arm and the hand guns they both carried. "Where are my manners? I'm Justin Hammer, but please call me Justin!" He extended his slim hands, which were stained with spray tanner he used.
Batroc took Hammer's hand and with one swift motion yanked him forward and tossed him onto the twin bed. The guards both went for their guns but Batroc was faster and better trained than them. He pulled the first into a headlock and snapped his neck, before front kicking the other off his feet and into the wall. Leaping forward he drove his knee into the man's head, crushing his skull between it and the concrete wall with a Splat!
Batroc turned his attention to Justin. "Tell me, little man, what is it you want?" Batroc spoke with a heavy accent but his English was good. With one hand he pull the Browning 9mm pistol out of the holster on the now dead man's hip and chambered a round.
"I-I-I-" Hammer couldn't get his eyes off his dead guard.
"You freed me, why?" Batroc wrapped a hand around Hammer's neck and pressed him against the wall. He could have choked the life from the trembling man's body if he'd wanted to. "I won't ask again." With that, he pressed the barrel of the gun to Hammer's head.
"Because I need someone like you to kill Tony Stark for me!" Batroc loosened his grip and lowered the gun, ever so slightly.
"You want me to kill the Iron Man for you?" Batroc scoffed. "What interest would I have in that?" Hammer smiled, though his face was turning red and his eyes bulged slightly.
"Attacking the remaining Avengers will draw Captain America out of hiding, I'm sure of it." Hammer began tapping frantically on the hand around his neck, his vision was tunneling from the lack of oxygen in his brain.
Batroc knew he was right, Cap loved his friends, even now. "So that's what you released me for? To kill your enemies and to take your revenge?" Hammer nodded quickly, sucking in a relieved breath when the grip loosened. "Ugh, vengeance is boring..." Batroc sighed and walked away from the chicken hawk that had freed him.
Justin was confused. Didn't he want to take revenge against the man that'd got him locked up in a federal penitentiary? "You don't want to kill Captain Rogers?" He questioned the killer in a disappointed tone. Using that to mask his terror.
"Of course, I want to kill him. But not for vengeance, or money. I want to kill him to be known as the man that killed the famous Captain America." Batroc wrapped an arm around Justin's thin shoulders and pulled him closer. "Okay, little man, I'll kill them for your enemies for you. Just know, little man, that if you betray me I will gut you like a fish and string you up for the world to see. Yeah?" Batroc spoke into the man who'd freed his ear. His tone was hushed but menacing. The mercenary waited for him to respond but all he got was a quick nod of his head, Hammer was too afraid to speak.
"I need a team, and I need weapons," Batroc said as he slapped Justin on his back, causing him to whimper slightly. "You can get me weapons easily enough, but I need killers," Batroc noted that not all mercenaries were like him. If they were going to kill the Avengers they needed to be ruthless, they needed to kill with hesitation. "And Captain Rogers and Agent Romanoff are mine to kill." Justin nodded quickly, adjusting his tie nervously.
"Anything you need." Batroc was quiet after that, busying himself with collecting the papers from the file that had been strewn across the small room. "So, I'm-I'm just gonna go." Justin quickly left the room, exhaling heavily and struggling not to sob. The adrenaline wearing off and the emotions of having his life threatened and two men killed in front of him catching up to him.
Georges Batroc was far more unpredictable than he'd anticipated and wasn't interested in money. He was a mercenary because he liked killing, and wanted to kill Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanoff for the sport. Georges wasn't motivated by a need for revenge.
"Ya know, Romanoff, I realize you like being vague and it's part of your mystique. But it's a long drive up here for an old man like me." Nick Fury announced his entrance to the medical center on the Avengers facility. Natasha chuckled, noting he had traded in his black leather coat for a grey colored pea coat. Less intimidating, and more appropriate considering he wasn't the director of SHIELD anymore.
"Yeah well, I don't need anyone hearing our conversation," Natasha spoke through a grimace as the nurse finished casting her wrist. She'd be healed in a few weeks but it was an inconvenience she didn't need right now.
"So what can I do for you?" Nick asked, helping Natasha off the gurney and onto her uneasy legs and following her outside.
"Do you remember 13 years ago, after Clint brought me in when you sent a team in to eliminate the Red Room?" Natasha asked, knowing he'd remember.
"Yes, I do." Nick eyed her curiously. "And you begged me to send you in with Clint and the Strike team." Natasha chuckled at that. There were few times in her life she'd begged for anything but that was one she wasn't ashamed of.
"But you said no because you were worried about where my allegiance lied." Nick enjoyed trips down memory lane just as much as the next guy. But Natasha was beginning to make the man nervous.
"Natasha," Nick called to her by her first name, something he rarely did, as they entered the main building. "What's this about?" Natasha, who Nick had known for a long time was uncharacteristically quiet. Her movements were ridged and it wasn't being caused by her injuries.
"Was there a little boy being kept at the Red Room?" She asked outright.
Nick nodded slowly, watching her pace back and forth. "There was, why?" He asked, eyes still following her as she turned to look at him.
Natasha ignored his question. Nick Fury was a smart man, he'd put the pieces together on his own. "Where is he now?" Natasha tried not to demand answers from him. "SHIELD must have kept records on who had him, right?" There was a good chance they didn't, but Natasha couldn't think about that.
"Why the sudden interest in this, Romanoff?" Nick's stern voice carried a hint of concern, though his eye showed suspicion.
"Please," Begrudgingly, Natasha began to plead with him. "I need to know what happened to my baby." The word came out of her mouth without her realizing she'd said it. "Shit." She swore, turning away from him, and rubbing her forehead.
"Your BABY?" Nick gasped slightly. "You never thought of telling me your son was there when you begged me to send you in?" Nick was disappointed and slightly hurt that she hadn't told him about her motherhood until now.
"I thought I was doing the right thing, Nick!" Natasha could feel his disappointment. "I thought he'd be better off with someone else, but I wanted to decide who got him. Maybe-" Natasha stopped, fighting back the lump that jumped up into her throat. "I know this sounds stupid, and a waste of time but I need to see him. I can't continue to only acknowledge his existence when I'm alone." Nick took a minute to process everything and tried to think back on the boy he'd met only once.
"If you'd told me about him, I would have let you go." Nick sighed, thinking back on Natasha's pleas to be sent out on the mission. She'd been just a 19-year-old child back then, and he'd assumed she was just out for revenge. "I don't know where he is, I know he was taken in by two SHIELD scientists who lived in Queens, but any other info on him would have been boxed up and taken to the Damage Control Facility in New York City." Nick watched the spy intently.
"God-" Natasha began cursing under her breath, racking her emotionally exhausted brain. Those records were sealed and totally off-limits without permission from the Director Anne Hoag or Tony. Anne Hoag would demand an explanation that Natasha wouldn't be willing to provide and Tony would cite her betrayal and refuse. Regardless of her explanation.
Nick took the opportunity to stroll up to her side while she was distracted. "This might come as a surprise, but I care about you." He wasn't the most approachable person on the planet, but he did care about her. He cared about every member of the team he'd put together and would do anything he could to protect and help them. "I'd bet my last dollar that you could swipe an access card from Tony if you put your mind to it." Natasha giggled at his suggestion. Of course she could steal an ID card from Tony.
"If I get caught, it'll confirm everything Tony already thinks about me." Natasha turned towards him, hoping silently for any kind of reassurance. The light reflected off the deep blue bruises that spotted her pale skin.
That was true, and they both knew it. Tony was far from forgiving and was constantly waiting for Natasha to slip up so he could kick her off the team. "This is different. When it comes to your kids," Nick paused, looking down at the young woman he'd truly watched grow up. He didn't have any children of his own, he'd lost his youth to his work, and by the time he wanted to settle down, it was too late. Though all the ones he'd recruited were adults, the Avengers were as close as he'd get. "You do what you gotta do."
Author's Note: So I'll end chapter 3 here. I was going to make it longer but I'm on 60-hour work weeks right now and I wanted to get this posted. And if you're wondering about Batroc, I found the whole vengeance thing overused and I wanted to take his character in a different direction. Same goes for Aunt May being sick. I wanted to avoid the someone hurts her, and Peter seeks revenge storyline. Anyway, please read and review! I'll update asap!