Miles doesn’t worry at first, and why should he?
He’s patrolling with Peter and Gwen, two of his favorite people in the multiverse, and they’re kicking villain ass on the Brooklyn Bridge , another one of his favorite things in the multiverse, and for the most part, it’s actually going pretty good.
Or well, as good as it can be.
Gwen may have to get some stitches for that gash along her thigh, Miles himself is sporting more than a few bruises, and Peter just won’t stop whining about his dentist and the near skyrocket cost of replacing a tooth - especially in this ridiculously inflated universe of yours, kid! But all in all, it’s not a bad night, especially not in their line of work.
The thing is, Spiders are meant to be hit. The bite built them to withstand the occasional smack and explosion and a whole slew of people out to get them. While he doesn’t exactly enjoy it, taking a couple of blows is a part of the gig. For all of them. They’re used to it. Miles doesn’t exactly keep track of all the times he sees his partners go down. He notes the dangers and moves on. They’re Spiders. They get back up; it’s just what they do.
So, yes. He does see Peter get hit by that blast, he sees when the blast sends Peter flying, but none of it stands out in his mind. Miles dismisses it because he’ll just be back in a moment, complaining about one problem or another, and shaking off the hit like it’s nothing. Because after all, it’s Peter , Peter who’s the most experienced out of all of them, Peter who’s survived twenty-plus years of Spiderman, Peter who taught him, above all else , to always gets back up.
Except this time, he doesn’t.
Not that they notice it at first. They’re too caught up in their recent win. - And what a win it was, a challenge without so much as a single civilian hurt.- Miles can barely contain himself. He swings himself up to the bridge above them with a style that both is and isn’t his, drawing inspiration from Gwen’s grace and Peter’s sturdiness, until he allows it to morph into something more of his own. Gwen is laughing somewhere beside him -or is it above him?- swinging like she only does when she’s beyond overjoyed. She takes one side of the bridge, and he takes the other, and then they switch seamlessly, without a word. They bounce and twist and spin until all they know is each other and the hot clouds of their breath between them as they laugh in the frigid winter air. Miles catches Gwen in a hug that should send them both flying, but it only makes her laugh and twirl him wildly. Then they both turn to do the same for Peter (or have him twirl them?) and instead of his laughing eyes and teasing smirk, they’re met with nothing but empty space. That’s when the realization hits them.
They whip back around at the same time in this sort of desperate, searching haze. There’s nothing; absolutely nothing but still clear water and the beginnings of a late-night fog.
“Hey, Big Guy? Come on, this isn’t funny” Gwen calls, meticulously sounding out his code name. No matter how steady she sounds, there’s a distinct tremble in the hand that curls around his. No one answers her. They cling closely to each other, even tighter than before, but their eyes never stop roaming their surroundings.
“Come off it Pete! Battle’s over; let’s go home” She snaps, angry now. Nothing. In the silence, Miles finally finds his voice and adds it to hers, in that fragile tone that Peter can never refuse. “Pete, come on, you’re scaring us!”
When even that doesn’t work, they become frantic.
“Pete!” They scream louder, clearer. “Peter! PETER !” Still nothing. How can there be nothing but them and the freezing river below them...
Oh god. The river.
Miles’ breath catches in his throat. Beside him, Gwen must come to the same conclusion. Her entire body stiffens against his. They should try to think logically, get help, but Miles can’t think past the river.
When he took that hit, he must’ve...
Miles feels the panic begin to set in, and he can’t even find it in himself to try to negate it. There’s no use in trying to calm what can’t be calmed. They’re connected now, them and the rest of the Spiders. At this point, trying to live without one of them is… is unthinkable . Like cutting off a limb or ripping out his tongue. If Pete’s been in the water, this whole time… It’s not a choice whether they jump in and find him at that point. Not for either of them. It’s just a matter of who acts first.
Gwen lets up the pressure on his side for just a moment, likely to take the plunge herself, and Miles breaks for it. Lets go, slips off, and takes the dive.
He should have prepared himself. He couldn’t have prepared himself.
When he was six or seven, his Dad took him to learn dives at the pool every week over the summer. He had said it was to build up his stamina and to give him something to show off to his friends. Miles had hated it.
The pool smelled like too-strong chlorine and sweat, and no matter what he did, he could never get his strokes to work. He was always too wobbly or kept his knees too straight. But the worst part…the worst part was the cold. No matter how warm it was outside, no matter how much he swam, the water stayed a freezing, bone-chilling cold. Miles despised every second he spent there.
That is nothing compared to this.
The second he hits the water, his chest shudders, threatening to release the precious air he has stored there. The chill suffocates him, begging him to come up for just one simple breath, but he can’t submit. Peter’s down here, been down here for far too long. Miles won’t leave without him. So he dives, further and further, down as deep and as far as he can possibly go. His eyes don’t work as well in the murky water, and he has to squint into the depths, swimming towards anything that looks vaguely human-shaped.
And promptly finds nothing.
He swings around underwater, searching desperately. The river isn’t small, and Miles can only guess where Peter went in. What if he guessed wrong? What if they never find him? What if-
What if he’s right there.
Miles jerks to a stop at the sight of the familiar fed and blue, even muted as they were. Peter’s about ten feet away from him, floating face down, but Miles could care less about that. Because he found him, and he’s there, and immediately he starts swimming towards him as fast as he can.
Peter is quiet and far too still, and for a brief second, Miles is reminded vividly of the other Peter, his world’s Peter . He shakes off the thought just as quickly. As soon as he gets some air, everything will fall back into place. It’s different this time. This time, Miles can help; he won’t be running away. All he needs to do is bring them both up to surface, Peter will take in some air, and it’ll all be ok. The bite will take care of the rest, just as long as they get back to Gwen.
He hooks an arm around Peter’s middle and uses his other limbs to propel himself upwards as fast as he can manage. His lungs and legs burn with the effort, but it’ll be worth it, once they get Peter back.
It won’t be like last time.
Miles breaks the surface with Peter limp in his arms. He shudders in the chilly winter air, taking in lungfuls and panting heavily to clear the spots in his vision. From the corner of his eye, he spots Gwen, and she, him. Her relief is palpable, even from this far away, and Miles finds himself tugging Peter closer to him, tucking the man’s face further into his neck. He found him. It’ll be fine. They just need to get to shore and then back to May’s, where she’ll fret and fuss but find a way to make this whole thing better. And then he and Gwen are never letting Peter out of their sights again.
But that’s for later. For now, he just needs to force his body to actually get to shore, which is easier said than done. Pete has lost weight since their first meeting, and Miles does have the Spider-powers on his side, but he’s been swimming in the freezing cold for nearly two minutes now lugging around a grown man.
He’s tired and the shoreline isn’t exactly close.
Thankfully Gwen has the answer to that. And honestly, when does she not have the answer to everything? She swings over to the shoreline, lands on a docking port, and slings a web out to the two of them.
“Grab on!” She yells, and just like that, Miles is being tugged back to shore. He’d help, but all and swimming and freezing have sapped his strength, and right now he’s more concerned with keeping ahold of Peter than any perceived pride he has. He buries his face in Peter’s wet hair and kicks weakly with his legs if only to keep them both above water. There’s another minute of Gwen reeling them in before he’s close enough to see her face, and a couple more seconds after that when she releases the web and lets Miles latch onto the dock she’s standing on of his own free will.
The worry in her face lessens when she sees Peter, even as pale and blue as they must be, and she makes grabby hands for him. Miles is more than willing to hand Peter off to her, and then find the ladder and climb up himself, all too ready to be on dry land again. The air is frigid and chilly against his wet skin, but they can solve all of that at May’s, where there are blankets and movies and a couch that’ll fit all three of them without too much crowding - but Miles thinks they’ll crowd anyway, at least tonight.
He turns back towards Gwen and Peter, more than ready to get on with it and lug one or both of them to May’s, and Gwen isn’t smiling anymore. The worried grin she flashed him when they came on shore is frozen on her face, almost grotesquely twisting her features, as she kneels over Peter, halfway through ripping the mask off.
Miles thinks, God haven’t they had enough, and hurries over to figure out what’s wrong. After all, Peter should be cold and maybe a bit concussed, but he should be fine. They got him out and that should… that should be it right? This should be the moment when Peter gets them with a joke or a quip or a shitty one-liner that has Gwen rolling her eyes, when Peter’s hurt and tired but beats all odds and gets up to tell them that he’s alright, and that this entire nightmare is over, except… except, Peter doesn’t do anything.
Then Miles realizes he isn’t breathing.
There’s no ride and fall of his chest, no fogging of the air around his mouth. The only response to the outside air is the slight paling of his lips. The older man is suddenly and infuriatingly still. Terror rises in Miles' throat. He rips Peter’s mask completely off, ignoring the wet squelch it makes, and throws it somewhere on the dock. They can get it later or they can not get it later. Miles doesn’t care, as long as they get him breathing because the other option is non-negotiable.
They will not bury another Spiderman. They will not bury another Peter.
Miles steals himself against the possibility. Blinks back the tears he so rapidly wants to shed and begs himself to remember every detail of the CPR course his Mama forced on him. Anything and everything that could possibly save Peter’s life, bring him back to them.
Miles turns on Gwen with what little knowledge he has and starts to press his hands to B’s chest.
“We need to-” He says, and then stops. Because Gwen isn’t even looking at him, or even at Peter really. Yes, her eyes are locked somewhere in Peter’s face, but breathing too quick, too shallow. She's completely unresponsive to him.
“He‘s dead.” She whispers voice strangled in a way that lets Miles know she’s stuck in something, sometime he doesn’t have the ability to reach. “I have to watch him die again .”
Miles rapidly realizes that this isn’t a we situation anymore, and for a second, that cripples him, both metaphorically and literally knocking him flat on his ass. His hands ball into fists and he stutters through his next few breaths. The spider symbol blurs in front of his suddenly tear-filled eyes. Because this? He can’t go through this again.
He won’t go through this again. Miles Morales will not lose another member of his family, not like this. He scrambles up to his knees beside Peter, and while it kills him, shoves Gwen’s frantic whimpering to the back of his mind. He can’t help them both right now, and Peter’s the one who needs him the most.
God, he hopes Peter’s the one who needs him most.
He shoves one hand over the spider symbol on Peter’s chest, laces his other fingers overtop just like his Mama taught him, and begins his count.
“One, two-” He starts, thirty even compressions, back straight, ignoring the way his soaked body starts to acknowledge the freezing temperatures outside.“-twenty-nine, thirty.”
He tilts Peter’s chin back and seals his mouth over lips that are a horrible shade of blue. Two breaths, his Mama had said. Give time for your lungs to fill back with air or else you won’t give enough. He hopes its enough, and when it's not, he’s trying his best how can it not , he begins again. Compressions as even and steady as he can make them. While he’s supposed to be counting aloud, the words that come to his lips are not numbers but prayers, old forgotten verses that stem from years following his Mama around the church and the almost forgotten feel of a rosary between his fingers.
“Dios te salve-” Press. “Llena eres de gracia-” Press. “Ruega por nosotros pecadores-” Press. “Ahora y en la hora de nuestra muerte.”* Thirty compressions, an endless amount of prayers, a singular hope.
He grips Peter’s chin so tight he could leave bruises.
“Amen.” He finishes and gives one breath.
Peter answers with a resounding cough, and suddenly Miles is shooting back, as the older man shudders out a breath before coughing up more water. The sight is such a mix of gross and beautiful that it takes Miles a second to reach over and turn Peter on his side so that all his hard work isn’t undone. So that Peter doesn’t stop breathing again. Gracias Dios; he’s breathing again.
A shudder goes through Miles that has nothing to do with the freezing temperatures. He keeps one hand on Peter’s shoulder and revels in the uneven breaths for just a second, in the way his back rises and falls under his palm. It's far too cold to stay out here. They need to get back to May’s. He and Peter are soaking wet, and Peter just barely started breathing, and Gwen is probably so far in shock that she’ll need just as much warming as the two of them. But they’re all alive . Miles knows they're all alive.
That second of knowing grounds him. It lets him stagger to his feet, catch Gwen’s still distant gaze, and snatch her hand with the same ferocity he’s still gripping Peter.
“We got him.” He revels in the fact that she’s there enough to grip him back. “He’s not leaving us.”
Gwen doesn’t say anything back, but that’s alright. They’re not leaving her either.
(And maybe days later what happened will hit them, and Gwen will leave, just for a little bit, just to clear her head. Miles will worry anyway, and Peter will distract him the best he can from behind the haze of pneumonia and too many meds, and they'll both pretend they don't check the door relentlessly, just to see if she's back. She is, within the hour, and they won't draw attention to it, but they'll look at her dirt-stained knees and her red eyes, and ask if maybe next time she visits her Peter, she'll let them come. Just for a bit. And maybe Gwen will agree, and maybe they'll end up crowded together on that not-crowded couch, and maybe, just maybe that'll be alright.)
But that maybes a long way off. For now, Miles just breathes. Beside him, his friends do the same.
It's enough. Miles doesn't let go the whole way back.