Peter couldn't believe his ears as Connors told him what had happened.
In fact, that reaction itself didn't seem to have the ability to describe what he was really feeling at that moment. It was strange really. Strange and unreal and just so god damn ridiculous, yeah- now that came a little closer to summing everything up.
In fact, if he had to describe every single emotion that pumped through his veins, mingled and entwined itself with his blood, flooded and crashed against his heart and mind in large, messy waves, he wouldn't have been able to come up with the words to express the pure, raging something that had his head reeling and his mind spinning.
In fact, it seemed that it was more than one emotion altogether. Like disbelief and anger and something he really couldn't identify at the moment. Honestly, it was slightly overwhelming. Right, okay, so maybe more than slightly. Because seriously, who does that? Who would even do something like that? Who would risk the lives of millions, the lives of men, women and children?
Well, Doctor Connors apparently would, and the one clear emotion that Peter could comprehend was anger.
It quickly washed away the relief and gratefulness of escaping his own personal hell, it scrubbed away the ebbing confusion and drowned the evident dread that had crawled into his veins as he had realised Connors must have paid big to have him freed.
He just hadn't realised how big.
But right now, that didn't matter. Not to him, not at the moment at least. No, right now, all he had to worry about was keeping himself in check and forcing his fists to clench and unclench as to not lunge at the men before him- exactly unsure at which one he was most frustrated at.
The bastard who probably had a hand in orchestrating the whole bloody thing, his sidekick who had tried to tear Peter's mind in half, or Connors himself who seemed to think that Peter's safety was valued above the lives of thousands and more.
Instead, he managed to compose himself for a few seconds and spoke with his voice low and dangerously on edge.
"Could I have a word with you Doctor Connors? In private."
The way Peter's tone of voice seemed low, higher than a whisper but not by much, coupled with something far more perilous than rage, made Connors suck in a breath then sigh. And suddenly he wished Peter would yell or scream at him, to just be angry and frustrated. Anything but this, when the teenager seemed composed and calm- because it was obvious to Connors that he was anything but.
Connors hadn't really ever seen Peter angry, but even though- he knew this surpassed even that.
He braced himself for what he knew was going to come. He stood up from his rather comfortable chair and felt his knees ache- realising just how much this entire 'adventure' was starting to take out of him. He could already feel the sore muscles of his arms shifting tiredly beneath his skin and the weight of the thick, shining metal representing his hand and forearm began to feel heavier than it should.
Connors watched as the 'Master' sitting in the main seat smiled, a smile that seemed to cold and calculating that it was so out of so out of place. Connors knew what he was going to propose before he even spoke.
"Simon and I have business to attend to downstairs. When you are finished, meet with us, and we will discuss this situation further."
He and Simon then left, but not before the Master himself tilted his head slightly and offered Peter a short, deceptive smile. Peter took a deep breath as the sound of the tall, wooden door reverberated around the massive room- announcing the leave of the two men.
He stood still for a moment, and watched Doctor Connors. He was out of his seat and staring intently at Peter, with something deep and meaningful shimmering behind his orbs- something echoing darkness and sadness yet relief, all mingling into one foreboding conclusion, all stationed firm and ready behind his eyes- reflecting where he stood and how he stood in those few seconds that ticked by. Peter gazed into those eyes until he couldn't anymore. Until he couldn't hold onto the forced calmness and the dangerous fear fuelled anger simmering beneath the hard bite of his lips and the tightness that was his clenched fist. He couldn't hold onto to the pretence that had been the initial gratitude. He couldn't hold onto the one factor revelling normalcy.
So he let go.
He let down the guarded anger and rage intensifying in his glare, the barriers of fear and terror streaming through his veins, the foreboding imminence that brought this hell to relativity. He let down and he let go, and he asked the one question that had the ability to venture to the dark, dangerous depths of his meaning.
"How could you?"
And perhaps, somewhere deep and dark and buried inside, he knew the answer.
"How dare you?"
He should've known. The answer, so simple and straightforward and so painfully obvious, and he should've known it. He should've realised, and he should've understood.
And as his knees weakened and his head spun, he knew it. He knew it.
He should've known.
"You know how, Peter."
It was so simple and easy that it might as well have been the hardest, most complex puzzle in the entire world. It laughed at him and mocked him and made him want to cringe.
"Then why? Why would you do it? Why?"
But that didn't change it much, did it? That didn't straighten the curves or perfect the lines. That didn't make everything so parallel it hurt to follow. That didn't make it as easy as writing one, two and three. That didn't make it any easier.
"I couldn't let you go."
He should've known.
"I couldn't watch you die-"
"You wouldn't have watched me die!" He tried to protest, to argue, to prove how wrong and twisted and ruined this was-
"And you think that would've been any better?" Peter could tell he was furious now, maybe even more so than him. He could hear the fear in the threat underlining his words. "Do you honestly think I could have let them kill you?" He was yelling know, sharpness highlighting his every phrase. "How could you believe I could have done otherwise?" His voice softened slightly. "How could you, for one bloody moment, think that I would have let you die?" And it broke. "I couldn't do it. I couldn't take that away from you. I couldn't let them do it." And he slowed, his haunted orbs never flickering, his voice so low and broken yet never stammering. "It would have been like killing you myself."
There. He'd said it.
"Then you should have."
Without another second. Without another beat, without another breath, without another flicker of the eyes, Connors lunged.
Without another moment to understand and revel and hate, Peter was slammed up against the wall so fast it took his breath away and made his limbs shake and his fingers tremble as he pushed against the desperate hold of the metal arm pinning him across the wall. Though feebly, because right now he didn't have the energy to push away. And neither did Connors, who leaned in ever so slightly and had his eyes gleam in the light as moisture built in his lashes.
Connor's metal forearm pressed against Peter's chest; not hard enough hurt but firm enough to make sure he felt Connor's frustration. His other hand pushing against the wall beside the young man, with enough strength to turn his knuckles white.
"You can't have asked me to do that, Peter. And you damn well couldn't have expected me to do it!" He towered slightly over the younger man, who didn't seem fazed at all.
"You know what? I had the right to, but I didn't because I thought you wouldn't," Peter's eyes shone as he braced a hand onto Connor's forearm, "I thought you knew one life wasn't worth millions!" His voice rose and Connors subconsciously pressed his arm harder against Peter's ribs to the point of it being painful. But neither of them seemed to notice.
"Well you thought wrong! I'm a selfish man, Peter. You think when their holding me hostage telling me you're somewhere being tortured to death by monsters because of something I'd done, that I'd honestly think twice before agreeing to what they wanted?" He was just passed the point of desperation now, doing his best to get Peter to understand. Begging him to understand.
And apparently he did. Or maybe he didn't- Connors couldn't really tell as the young man let all his anger and hate and fear flow away, draining him and forcing him to all but slump against the arm holding him upright. It was as if the fight had suddenly been yanked out of him- his skin immediately seeming paler, the darkness beneath his eyes more prominent, the bruises along his skin brighter, almost glowing morbidly like beacons of hurt and pain.
Connors moved away from Peter, releasing the arm from his chest. He took a step back and watched as the boy slumped against the wall, fatigue crawling onto his limbs as they seemed to weigh him down. Peter's head had tilted downwards and his eyes seemed to be tracing strange and random patterns on the floor, before he waited another beat and looked up, meeting Connor's tired stare.
"We have to make sure they don't get actual weapon, we need a plan." Peter spoke softly, forcing himself to push back every emotion he wanted to act upon. "We need a plan."
Connors scanned the room suspiciously, his orbs moving a mile a minute and scanning every surface he could see.
He nodded just as smoothly and quietly, motioning with his head to the general area of the space, as if attempting to mention that someone else might be listening.
They couldn't trust anyone but themselves, and even that honesty was tight and foreboding. Neither of them believed that the Master let them speak in what Peter was beginning to dub his 'throne room' out of the goodness of his heart. They were suspicious- and they certainly had a right to be- that the room was bugged. At the moment, they couldn't afford the type of naiveté that had them believing their enemy's every word.
Peter nodded, but made no move for the door. Instead he walked to the large window behind the antique wooden desk and large, majestic chair. He placed his palm flat against the clear, tough surface of the window and stared intently outside.
It would be too high up for him to jump down, and two low down for him to swing up, especially whilst getting Doctor Connors across. He could balance himself on the slippery surface of the glass, he mused, but he didn't have any of his equipment and he was injured. It would be a highly dangerous risk to take for himself, let alone Connors, who he wasn't willing to put in that unnecessary- okay maybe it kind of was a little bit necessary- danger. He thought for a moment further how they just happened to be in the perfect position that made it almost impossible for them to escape, and realised that this entire intricate web of lies and destruction was extremely well thought through.
Doctor Connors hesitated and could almost swear he could see the gears turning in Peter's head. He took a breath and spoke-
"You could always…" He trailed of slightly, implying what Peter had just been thinking, except extracting the factor of himself from the operation.
"No. We need a proper plan, we need something to work. We can't just be pulling strings or wondering who's going to get the short straw next." He turned back around to face the older man he saw as a father, "We'll fix this. We can fix this." He said, his voice echoing with a sense of strong-willed determination and strength.
Connors nodded and tilted his head slightly, and moved to where he saw a pen and paper lying on a nearby cabinet. He picked them up and double-checked that there were no small, almost-unnoticeable cameras and couldn't help but smile when he saw something flickering on the edge of his vision.
"I've got just the plan."
Simon watched the small screen. The quality wasn't perfect, it wasn't even excellent. But he supposed they had to do for the moment, and he sighed inwardly as he attempted to concentrate on the grainy image.
The camera was positioned between a large stack of books. It was almost impossible to spot, and he smiled at that thought. There were several listening bugs placed strategically around the room, in the forms of such things as pens and pencils. He knew that Connors and Peter probably wouldn't talk too explicitly about their plans, but he knew they would surely reveal something.
He watched intently with interest as Connor's arm forced Peter against the wall, though without enough pressure to actually cause any pain or harm.
They spoke soft words, and Simon was actually very surprised at how well Peter took the news. It was slightly emotional, and left Simon wondering about the familial extent of their relationship. Before it seemed as if Connors simply wanted to use the boy, but now it was more as if he actually cared- seemingly, and perhaps even subconsciously, filling the role of Peter's absent father.
It was quite infatuating, Simon mused. The entire situation was, as it had begun, as it will end. Initially, he had not believed that someone as young and inexperienced as Peter could be someone was skilled and mysterious as Spider-Man- but somehow everything had begun to add up in its own, twisted way. He was aware that his master had always had the strange nagging feeling, ever since he had met the boy anyway, that there was more to him than meets the eye. But he doubted that even somehow such as him could have figured out the truth about Young Peter Parker. Peter Parker without parents, supposedly ordinary Peter Parker, Peter Parker who was only slightly smarter than the average person.
He didn't think anyone would have expected this, Peter Parker with loving parental figures, extremely extra-ordinary Peter Parker, Peter Parker who was a complete genius when compared to an average person or otherwise.
Yes, the boy was quite the mystery.
And perhaps, in another life, in an alternate dimension, he would have felt something akin to pity for the boy. Maybe even something bordering the edges of wonder.
He now understood his Master's interest, extreme interest, in the young man. He had even realised that his Lord seemed almost… annoyed and angry when he had heard that he had been taken. He wouldn't outwardly show it of course, but Simon had been present enough to notice the sudden clenching of the fist, the tightness of the nails breaking the hard skin ever so slightly.
Throughout the time Peter was missing, he knew the fury that had built up in his Master wasn't because he was worried about the boy. It was because he had found enough interest in Peter- more than anything he had so in a very long time- and he had wanted nothing and no one interfering and getting in the middle of his entertainment.
Despite this, the situation presented itself a golden opportunity. Since no one that the Master had sent out in his initial mission to disarm Peter Parker, he found that it made him smile slightly to think that he had been captured, and he could always be taken back.
A morbid game of tug a war- where it had been at first, of utmost importance to find the device, but as soon as Spider-Man entered the picture, he was willing to put aside his act of terrorism in order to revel his interest in the boy. And then he had found the perfect scenario in which he could have the boy and the weapon simultaneously.
His attention was recollected again as the two men on the screen moved apart and exchanged a strange glace, though he was unable to decipher the meaning exactly as more grains flickered and collected across the image, making it seem more pixelated.
And then they began to talk.
Connors looked at Peter and made sure he got the message. They were taking a chance here, a really, really dangerous chance. And Connors hoped to whatever god was out there that it would work. So many things could go wrong, but he was determined now more than ever not to fail this.
They were going to lie.
"We're going to lie to them." Just go with it Peter, "We're going to give the correct location, but there will be two devices. One will be the fake, and one the real. I'm going to give them the fake- it's an earlier far less complex looking contraption. They'll think that it's the real thing because there are only records of one existing device. The other one will be locked away- they'll never suspect it's even there."
Peter tried to force the nervousness out of him. He began nodding before licking his lips and speaking.
"What if they suspect something? What then? We can't just go half-minded into this and expect everything to go perfectly as planned." He motioned with his hand as if the plan was doomed to fail.
"They won't suspect anything- they'll-"
"And what if they decide they don't need us afterwards?" The younger man interrupted.
"Oh they'll need us. The device, regardless of it being real or fake, it'll need somehow to program it. Somehow who knows what they're doing." Connors implied, his heart beating a hundred miles a minute.
"So they'll need you." Peter concluded with another nod. "We can work out what to do from then."
"Let's not keep our hosts waiting, then, shall we?"
Spoken with such conviction, on the other side of the screen, watching the exchange, Simon suspected nothing.