"My husband is - was - a good man, I don't understand why this Recluse thinks he wasn't," Came the distressed cry as the Avengers got near the house. Each one of them hid a silent groan as they approached, not looking forward to the conversation they were about to have...
Rounding the corner, the team was faced with police tape and officers galore. Two of the officers were standing with a woman that had tears in her eyes as she spoke to them, obviously the grieving widow...
"Why has no one stopped him yet?" She cried, "Why haven't the Avengers done something about him yet?"
"That's what we're here to fix," Steve announced as he strode over to them. "I am deeply sorry for the loss of your husband. But we will do everything in our power to catch the Recluse, you have my word."
The woman was shocked to say the least, her eyes wide as she gazed at the small group in front of her. "Y-Yes, thank you. I'll trust you to take care of it then..."
They all gave a small nod to her just as Clint stepped forward and looked around at all the people in the area before looking back to the woman. "I'm sorry, but we're going to need to see... what he left for you."
Her eyes averted as she gazed at the ground, tears building in her eyes as she hesitantly nodded. "Of... Of course. One of the officers has it; I don't remember which one..."
Clint and Nat both started walking off to where a group of police were, no doubt going to inquire about the note and leaving Tony and Steve to deal with the emotional widow.
"I hope that Recluse dies just as painfully as my husband," She muttered, looking back up at the two Avengers. "Is it wrong of me to wish that? To wish for some kind of justice to come from this? My husband didn't deserve what happened to him..." Tears started to fill her eyes as her voice cracked, "He was out last night because our daughter wanted ice cream and he had eaten it all earlier that day. He was... he was killed because of ice cream."
Neither of the men could look at her, their own emotions getting in the way. Both felt a sense of guilt, but Tony was definitely blaming himself for all that had happened. If only he could have found Peter sooner... If only he hadn't of startled Peter that night, then he would be getting the help he truly needed. If only he had done more...
Steve didn't blame himself as much as Tony, but he did feel the same - albeit smaller - guilt. He was supposed to have picked Peter up from school that day to bring to the Compound; he was supposed to have been there when Peter was kidnapped... He could have saved Peter if he had gone. But he didn't; all because some kids stopped him in the park on his evening run and he lost track of the time.
So many things that could have been done differently, leaving them all with the problem at hand: a grieving widow demanding Peter's death.
"I knew he shouldn't have gone! I told him that it could have waited until morning! But he spoils Rachel so much and couldn't handle her crying! I knew immediately that something was wrong... the store was only a fifteen minute walk, but he didn't come home - and then I opened my door this morning to get the paper and I saw that package...! And that note!"
She continued on for a while, ranting and crying and blaming the world for her problems... Tony would have tuned out by now but that damned guilt wouldn't let him. So his phone ringing was almost like a gift from God.
"Wait, hold on," Tony stopped her, his voice quiet as he pulled out his phone, "I need to take this call."
The man stepped away from them, looking closely at the ID before sighing as he tapped the green button and held the device to his ear. "Ned Leeds, I presume? This is a private number, should I be concerned with how you got it?"
"Oh my God, Tony Stark knows my name..." The voice of a young boy muttered on the other end of the phone, a small smile quirking Tony's lips before Ned seemed to get control of his inner fanboy. "Y-Yes, sir- I mean no, sir! You don't have to worry, Peter... He gave me your number with a strict 'emergencies only' rule."
"Peter did?" Tony's brows shot up, his eyes widening, "When?"
"A week or so after our Homecoming party, sir..."
Disappointment filled Tony as he sighed again. He really should have known. "Yes, of course... Well, what can I do for you, Mr. Leeds? Is this an emergency? Because I'm kind of in the middle of something now."
"I understand, sir... It's just... I was wondering... You know that Recluse villain that everyone's so scared of? Is that... Is that Peter?"
It took Tony a while to respond, his mouth opening and closing as he tried to comprehend what Ned just said. Did he believe that the Recluse really was Peter when even some of his team members still had their doubts?
"What makes you say that?" He asked quickly, trying to cover up his momentary hesitance.
"I know that Peter is Spider-Man - I'm his guy-in-the-chair after all. But Peter stopped coming to school and doing Spidey things around the same time that the Recluse started making himself known. And I'm not the only one that's starting to put things together, there are a couple others that are saying Peter and the Recluse in the same sentences now too! Well... MJ isn't really saying it... but she is thinking it! And Flash is just saying that Peter was one of the Recluse's victims that haven't been found yet. But people are starting to talk! And I have to know, is it true? Is Peter really the Recluse?"
Taking a deep breath, Tony ran a hand down his face. He could really use a drink right now...
But that would come after the more pressing issue. Should he tell him? How would Ned handle it? Tony hadn't even told May about Peter yet! The woman only knew that Peter was missing! What was he even supposed to say?
"Sir?" Ned hesitantly asked when the silence continued for more than a moment.
"...Yes." Tony heaved out a sigh, his shoulders sagging a bit. "It's true."
Over the line, Ned's breath audibly hitched as they both fell into silence once again. It was more than a minute later when the boy finally spoke again, "You'll get him back... right?"
"Definitely," Tony claimed, and with every fiber of his being, Tony believed that was true.
He would definitely get Peter back.
A/N: Yay this story isn't dead (yet)! I'm going to try focusing on finishing this story before I start anymore. I have a few Spider-Man stories stirring in my mind that I really want to get out, but if I start them now I won't finish this and it'll all be a huge mess... And I still need to finish that Thor story too... Preferably before Thor 4 comes out because I think I know a few things that are going to happen in that movie that I plan to put in my story... Ughhh too many stories I need to finish before I can start working on the 50 others I want T^T (This A/N probably makes no sense... It's 3:27am and I don't think I have enough energy to write anymore. I still have to proof everything too... Ugh. Wish me luck! Sorry for any misspellings)