Chapter Two, yay! Please tell me if you spot any mistakes or have suggestions (writing style, logic of plot, characterization, etc). While I try to remain canon up until where this story starts, I'm making Jarvis an AI like in the movie "Iron Man." Because he's sexier as a computer than an old man.
Invent to Control
"Oh my god, what happened to him?!" Mary-Jane exclaimed. Her flaming red hair frizzed out from the force of her head whipping back and forth to take in both Stark's rapid movement and Peter's unconscious form. Peter was a collage of tattered fabric and bruises, his passed out form slumped on the bed in a parody of sleep.
Stark continued ransacking Peter and Mary-Jane's shared bedroom, grabbing clothes and other necessities. Basically, he packed all of Peter's belongings that were relatively harmless when taken in the light of 'how could this be used to kill Tony?' He spied a stack of books on the desk and recognized them as the ones Peter had been complaining about wanting to read, but never having enough time to. Well, that was about to change. He shoved them into the quickly filling duffle bag.
Mary-Jane's accusing finger dug into his still-armored chest and broke his contemplation. "Anthony Edward Stark, you are going to tell me what happened to my husband, now." Here he was, 6'6" and 425 pounds in full body combat armor, getting bullied by 5'8" and 120 pounds of pure fire-spit. In a mid-riff baring green tank top and tight jeans pressed flush against him.
In that moment Stark felt the most fear and respect for a woman he had ever felt (excluding Pepper, who didn't count because he had learned his lesson from his previous secretary's sexual-harassment suit), and wondered if this fire was what got Peter riled up at night and why he married her. Because hot damn—as if his overheating high-tech equipment didn't raise his body temperature enough!
"There was a fight," Stark muttered, avoiding her penetrating green gaze and feeling like a naughty schoolboy caught in the act the entire time.
Her burgundy lipsticked lips thinned into a grimace, and she planted her fists firmly on her wide to-die-for hips. Tony wanted to put his own paws on those inviting handles and squeeze—but he needed to stop being distracted, she was a tiger and any overtly false move would get him verbally slaughtered. "Don't be an idiot who states the obvious," Mary-Jane retorted sharply, "Now tell me who and if it's serious."
Quick thinking had the inventor grasping at straws. "Some anti-registration 'heroes' roughed him up a bit before I could step in."
Mary-Jane surveyed the disheveled room before returning her cool, unimpressed gaze to Stark. "That doesn't explain the rearranging of our room, Mr. Stark."
"Er, sorry, probably should have explained that first," he said to stall for time. "You see, one of the rogues was—was a mutant with mild radioactive abilities. He got a solid hit on Peter, so we have to keep him quarantined to learn the extent of his damage and the potential for fallout."
Mary-Jane's proud face, everything from her pursed lips to disbelieving eyebrows, crumbled into an acute expression of worry; Stark knew he had finally gained control of the situation. She started towards Peter's undignified, sprawled form but never made it. Stark's outstretched arm blocked her, and he said gravely, "I'm sorry, Mary-Jane, but I can't risk you being contaminated."
"This is Peter we're talking about! My health comes second!" she argued, pushing at the unmovable gold and red appendage. Her eyes never left Peter, as if blinking would dissolve him.
"Not in Peter's mind. He would never forgive me if something happened to you when I could have prevented it."
He could see the conflicting emotions warring in her jeweled eyes—the love and worry and pride—until the internal fight died down and left them colored a dull green of resignation. She deflated and threatened tiredly, "You better treat him the best you can, or I don't care what Stark protocol calls for, I'm charging in there and taking him to a real hospital."
"I promise, I'll treat him with more love than my mother."
Who had been distant with him and vice versa for all of his childhood, but that was beyond the point. The point was that he meant what he said, he truly did. Stark was jaded, not heartless for chrissake.
The room was aesthetically simple to the point of beautifully bland, small enough to feel cozy but large enough contain everything with plenty of leftover walking space. Various soothing oil paintings of landscapes (all original masterpieces picked out by Jarvis because even an AI had better art taste than Stark) hung strategically on golden cream-colored walls. Stark's iron boots crushed the plush burgundy carpet, sinking down maybe half an inch into what he knew from personal experience was barefoot heaven. The bulletproof glass overlooked the sprawling city, its high perspective erasing the dirty, desperate streets and leaving a scenic view of skyscrapers and success. If not the best choice, the room would certainly serve its purpose; although he was would have to discreetly replace the glass with something a little…sturdier. Also, reinforce the doors, amp up the surveillance equipment, install a heat-detection system and seal all the vents and possible escape routes. Nothing too drastic, just a simple superhero-proofing overhaul. Considering good old Project Forty-Two, his and Reed's jointly built anti-hero detention area, he had plenty of experience in the department.
This room was one of the many unoccupied rooms on the highest level of Stark Tower, which Stark reserved for himself. The layout comprised of his personal bedroom, the 'guest rooms' (such as the one now deemed unceremoniously Peter's) where he entertained his ever-revolving circle of female companionships, a games and bar room, a personal surveillance room, and one of his many cherished labs. He'd been trying to add an in-ground pool for weeks now, chicks in bikinis always a fun pastime, but the damn contractor kept jabbering on and on about the consequences of leakage, something trite like potentially washing away the entire floor underneath.
But that was a more easily solved dilemma (fire the man and hire someone willing) and not his main focus today.
He figured, if he was putting Peter into one of his private guest rooms, the burgundy-gold one was the tamest. Considering that he built the room themes from the perspective of 'what kind of message would I like to send my lady-friend tonight?' and that most of his companions consisted of blonde bimbos in bikinis, Stark thanked his lucky star that he had at least one formal and austere-looking room. Thank god he had designed that room when he had wanted to impress—okay, okay, fuck—that one senator's wife years ago (which never panned out, by the way, she was a wily old fox and played him like a fiddle).
He dumped the duffel bag on the floor and scanned the room one last time. "Jarvis?" he called out to get his artificial intelligence butler program's attention, knowing Jarvis inhabited every room through the surveillance system but could only concentrate on fifty-three of the ninety-three stories at any time. As Jarvis randomly switched his attention every few nanoseconds, probability favored Stark that the AI picked up part if not all of his summoning.
"Yes, sir?" the disembodied voice asked politely.
He loved being right.
"I want this room superhero-proofed in the next five hours; use the plans and contacts for Number Forty-Two if you need inspiration. Cost is not an issue, but discretion is. I know that even for a super computer this task tests the limits of what can be realistically done, but let's just say that I didn't program you to cope with failure. Five hours, and then our new guest settles in!" Stark repeated the time again to emphasize its importance, fully confident that magically in the next five hours Jarvis would complete what would take others weeks to begin.
"Very good, sir, please leave the task to me. Do you require my assistance for anything else?"
"That is all," Stark dismissed the AI to let him work his digital wonders.
If a machine's programming could not surpass the programmer's skills, then Stark understood Jarvis' extreme resourcefulness and cunning intelligence. But where the hell did the politeness come from? It was an unsolvable mystery, one that eluded the multiple scans Stark did of Jarvis' programming while updating the software.
Satisfied with the room preparations, Stark headed towards the exit. On his way out he snatched the expensive glass vase from the table and threw it in a hallway trashcan. It broke with a beautiful cry, more a twinkle than a shatter, and Stark shrugged and philosophized, Better the garbageman's hands than my head.
Stark walked to his lab with determined steps. When he entered his work zone, he donned more than a lab coat and goggles. All his roguish qualities smoothed out into professionalism. He was no longer an alcoholic or womanizer, or rather, the influence of those traits diminished. He became the billionaire inventor Tony Stark, unstoppable owner of the unrivaled Stark Industries.
He snapped on a pair of white gloves, flexed his hands to get used to the latex feeling, and psyched himself for his next task by saying, "Step one of Spiderman's rehabilitation: reduce the runaway risk factor."
Such a banal way to justify Stark's next actions.
He hauled the unconscious body to the waiting steel examination table, checked to make sure the sedatives pumping through Peter hadn't worn off during his talk with MJ, and got to work.