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Truth is...

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Peter was swinging as fast as he could. He could hear people calling him from the street, some were calling his actual name, other were just throwing insults at him.

After Mysterio’s video was shown on big screen in NYC, he had glanced at MJ who was pressing her hands to her mouth in horror, eyes fixed on his picture openly displayed. Without saying anything, Peter had got up and jumped over the civilians who were gaping and pointing fingers at him.

Peter wanted just one thing. To find Mr Stark. No, Tony. His Tony. He would help him deal with all this mess. As Spider-Man, swinging from building to building, he then started to head for the Stark Tower that Tony and Pepper had bought back during the 5-years before the Blip. Peter could hear his phone ringing in the pocket of his suit. He already knew who was calling him, the news must be everywhere. Everybody was going to know. Everybody knows.

Stark Tower in sight, Peter started to go faster and as he took a bigger jump, he felt the beginning of a panic attack. Felt it in his bones, in his brain and in his heart.

Tony.

He was going to fix it.

Everything would be alright.

No taking to being discrete, Peter landed on the platform outside the Tower. He ran in the building, doors opening when FRIDAY detected him. Peter did not pay attention to the AI’s greeting, instead he ripped off his mask from his head and threw it away. Like a maniac, the teenager started to frantically look around, searching for something that was not here.

“MR STARK!”

Peter ran to the kitchen, almost tripping on his own feet.

“TONY!” Peter yelled before falling to the ground, curling himself in a ball. His body was starting to tremble with each sob he tried to hold back. His eyes were red, puffy and painful, Peter just wanted to fall asleep right here and wake up five years ago, before Thanos ever came to destroy his life.

Peter raised his head when he heard quick and heavy footsteps. Stumbling a little when he got up, Peter launched itself at Happy who barged in the room.

“Happy! Everybody knows!”

Happy hold Peter against him, feeling that the kid was as physically exhausted as he was mentally.

“Peter, Peter, listen to me.” Happy spread Peter from his body to look into his eyes. “Listen to me. You. Are not alone, okay? I’m here with you, for the big ride kiddo and May is here too, and Ned and MJ. We will fix this. I’m sure Pepper is already contacting her lawyers. You understand ? We will help you. You are not alone.”

Pepper.

Pepper Stark.

Stark widow.

Tony Stark was dead.

Tony Stark couldn’t help him.

Tears began to fall on Peter’s cheeks, and he lowered his gaze on the ground. He tried to open his mouth to say something, but nothing other than sloppy sobs were coming out of his mouth.

“Pe- Pepper. I want to-” Peter lifted his eyes. “I want to see her. I need to see her, Happy.”

“She’s on her way here, bud. Why don’t we wait for her on the couch, hm? I’ll bring you a wet towel, so you can clean your face a bit, okay? How does that sound?”

“Great. Thanks Hap'.”

The man smiled and helped Peter sit on the couch by guiding him, a hand on his back.

“Stay here and don’t think too much, okay? I’ll be quick.”

Peter nodded once, and sat up straight, hands on his knees. When Happy left, Peter slumped down and took his head between his hands. He couldn’t cry. There were far more serious things in the world than him being outed as Spider-Man. It sucked, but he was strong and not alone, he will survive it.

When his phone began to play May’s ringtone, Peter took it out of his pocket and quickly answered.

“Peter! Oh my god, are you okay? Happy called me to let me know you were with him! I was so worried Pete…”

“I’m sorry May… I- I fucked up…” Peter head fell backward against the couch and he closed his eyes, hard.

“Stop that. You did nothing wrong. Never. You are hero Peter. You listen to me okay? You. Are. A. Hero. You saved I don’t know how much people thousands of times. Pepper will get you through this okay? Happy and I will do everything we can to be sure you are safe. We are not going anywhere Pete, and we know the truth, we know who you are.”

Peter bit his bottom lip and smiled, eyes glistening.

“I love you May.”

“I love you too Pete. More than anything.”

Hearing another pair of quick footsteps, the one he knew to be Pepper, Peter stood up.

“Pepper is here, May.”

“Okay, I’m coming to the Tower okay? Don’t go anywhere. I’ll call Ned and MJ and bring them, so don’t worry. Fix your problem first.”

Peter hung up and started to walk toward the kitchen to pour himself a glass of well-deserved water.

“Peter!”

He didn’t even have time to react that a pale pair of arms were wrapped around his shoulders and he was pressed against a warm chest, a strong heartbeat beating underneath it.

“Hey, Pep'.”

Pepper moved aside and took his face between her hands.

“How are you feeling?”

“I’m fine don’t worry, I think I went over the shock of being outed.”

“I will fucking sue this shitty newspaper.”

Peter smirked. “I don’t doubt it a second.”

“Hey Pep'. Here you go Peter” Happy said, handing him a fresh towel so he could wipe his face.

“Sorry Pepper, I may have got your shirt dirty.” Pepper shook her hand as if to say it didn’t matter.

All three of them sat around the kitchen island. For a few seconds, everyone was silent, before

Peter opened his mouth.

“I’m sorry.”

Pepper extended her hand to place it on Peter’s.

“For what?”

“It’s my fault if everyone knows who I am. I should have seen that Mysterio was recording everything. I should have prevented it! I have EDITH! I would have been easy.”

“Peter. Sweetie. You didn’t do anything wrong. You can’t guess what people are going to do in the future, that’s not how it works. And mope around thinking of what you could have done better won’t help you as well. We need to take action and reply to this video. My team is already searching how to prove that it is a fake and was edited. Now, it’s up to you to decide how will answer the accusation of you being Spider-Man. Whatever you choose, we will all stand behind you.” Pepper pressed his hand with a smile.

“Thank you. I think. I think it’s for the best if I refute it. People won’t ever trust a sixteen-year old boy with their safety.”

“Whatever you want, kid. It’s up to you. We won’t answer now, take some time to think about it okay?” Happy said with an encouraging smile. His pone vibrated, and his smile grew wider. “Your aunt is almost there, and she’s bringing Ned and your girl.”

“Stop calling her that.” Peter muttered.

*

Fifteen minutes later, when Peter got out of his shower he found MJ sitting on his bed in the bedroom he had in the Tower.

“MJ.”

Hearing her name, the young girl raised her head and leaped on Peter. She buried her head in the crook of his neck and squeezed him hard. Peter didn’t waste a second and wrapped his arms around her, scenting the perfume of her hair.

“I’m here. Everything is going to be alright. Pepper will help me.”

“You dumbass, I was so scared!” MJ slapped his arm making him smile. “You just disappeared, and you didn’t even answer your phone!”

“I’m sorry, I panicked. I haven't even looked at my phone yet.”

MJ pushed back a strand of hair from his face, and gently kissed him on the lips.

“I’m just so glad you’re alright. You don’t deserve all this mess Peter. You are the greatest man I know.”

Peter closed his eyes and leaned his forehead against MJ’s. “Thank you. I really like you.”

MJ laughed “I like you too. Dork.”

Peter laughed as well and kissed her with more fervor. Her hands got tangled in her hair as she gently pushed him onto his bed. Peter sat down, and MJ climbed on his lap while continuing to kiss him. After a few more seconds MJ broke the kiss.

“What are you going to do?”

“I will lie. And say that no, Spider-Man is not Peter Parker. There is nothing else I can do.”

“Is that what you want?”

“I don’t know.” Peter fondled her chin from the tip of his fingers. “But that’s what the world wants. They don’t want a teenager.”

“People want what they can’t have Peter. You need to take this decision for you. Not for me, not for May, not for Pepper. For you.”

“I’ll- I’ll think about it. I promise.”

“That’s all I ask.”

MJ smiled and kissed him on the lips.

*

Peter had always been a big fan of social media. Twitter being his favorite.

He wiped his sweaty hands on his pajama pants and settled more comfortably in his bed. Ned, May and MJ just left after eating with the Stark family and Happy. Morgan had been overjoyed to see her almost brother and to learn that he was staying the night. Of course, none of them told her that it was because it may be too dangerous for him to go outside right now. After playing with her for a bit, MJ’s mom called her asking her to come home. Peter saw her out and after a last kiss finally went back to the living room where Pepper, May, Happy and Ned were discussing of the best way to handle the Mysterio issue.

Exhausted, Peter decided to head to bed after May left with Ned and Happy. Pepper hugged him and kissed him on the head before smiling down at him.

“He would be so proud of you, sweetie. I know he is.”

A ball in his throat, Peter tried to smile. “I hope so.”

Finally, in his bed, Peter had decided to see what was being said about him on Twitter.

Flash @SpideyNo1Fan

What. The. Fuck

Flash @SpideyNo1Fan

Stop saying shit about Spider-Man, young or not he fucking saved all of your asses #SpideyIsTheHero

my friend call me @blackmurder

@TheDailyB can’t wait to see your asses being sued by SI (:

my friend call me @blackmurder

#SpideyIsTheHero

guy in the mf chair @nedislit

#SpideyIsTheHero forever

The Daily Bugle @TheDailyB

After the shocking revelation of this afternoon, nobody saw Spider-Man or even his alter ego Peter Parker! If he had nothing to blame himself for he wouldn’t hide! #RIPMysterio

my friend call me @blackmurder

@TheDailyB fuck you

Billy @icebear

I agree with @TheDailyB if Spider-Man was innocent he would have said so.

S @slaytherin

Peter Parker or whoever Spider-Man is saved your lives. Multiple times. He fought during the Infinity War and –

S @slaytherin

even after The Blip he directly fought against Thanos to save you all. Have some respect #SpideyIsTheHero

Cole @aNYCdude

I don’t know how confident I am in being protected by a teen.

Trends

Peter Parker

#SpideyIsTheHero

Mysterio

fake video

#RIPMysterio

Closing his app, Peter sighed. That didn’t help him at all. As he was expecting, half was okay with him being Spider-Man (even Flash although a bit shocked) and the other half agreed with The Daily Bugle and wanted him to stop being Spider-Man. To stop being who he was.

But as Michelle said people want what they can’t have.

*

“Pepper?”

Pepper turned around and smiled at Peter. Morgan who was sitting next to her run and held up her arms, so Peter could lift her.

“Hey Morgan.” He kissed her on the cheek. “Would it be possible to hold a press conference here? To address the um- the problem?”

“Yes, of course, sweetie. Say when and I’m on it?”

“As soon as possible?”

Pepper nodded and grabbed her phone already calling someone.

*

“You’re sure you want to do this? I can handle it if you don’t.”

“Thank you Pep, but it’s okay. I need to speak with them.” Peter looked at his reflection in the mirror and put the mask on his face.

“If you need to step off at whatever moment, just look at me and walk off the stage, understood?”

“Yes Ma’am.”

“You’re being really brave Peter, I’m really proud of you. I wish Tony could be there.”

Peter tilted his head up, trying to contain his tear, thinking about his mentor. “He is. He’s always near us.”

Pepper smiled sadly and hugged him one last time. “If you need them, PR wrote some alibi cards for you.” She said while handing him a small packet of pink cards.

“Thank you… Ok. Let’s go.”

Pepper took Peter hand in hers and squeezed it gently before walking to the side of the stage. The curtain before Peter opened, and he took a sharp inhale at the number of journalists in front of him. Peter walked to the micro and cleared his throat awkwardly.

“Hello everyone. You all know why we are here. Firstly, I would like to address the subject of Mysterio. I understand why anyone could think why what he said was true. I would like to make the statement that I, Spider-Man, did not kill the person who was called Mysterio. As some of you know, there were several attacks in Europe last week. At first, when the SHIELD contacted me, they thought it was something called “The Elementals” that were originally born in a different universe. After helping Mysterio fight them, we discovered that all of it was a big scam organized by Mysterio and his team to take the place of Iron Man. It is true that I fought him in London, but his bullet wound was made by one of the drones he was controlling at that time. In no way, I would ever harm an innocent person. After 2 years of fighting for this city, even this universe, I would have hoped that more people would have faith in me. I-”

“Excuse me! What do you have to say to the accusation of wanting to replace Iron Man?”

Peter frowned and licked his lips.

“I- I-… It’s not a surprise to say that Iron Man and Spider-Man were working together. We were together on Titan fighting Thanos when The Snap happened. Mr Sta- I mean, Tony held me while I was being dusted. And when I came back and after we fought together after The Blip, I was there when he died. Tony was my mentor, yes. But he was so more than that. I’m sad for all of you because you will never have the chance to see who he really was. Tony was the most wonderful being on this planet who sacrificed everything to get us back and save us. Even Dead He’s The Hero. Even dead he is the biggest hero this universe will never see. To answer your question, no. I don’t want to take Iron Man place. I can’t even imagine how could someone think that. Tony is irreplaceable, and I wish I could be as good as him. But nobody can. When Tony saved us, we lost the greatest hero of all time, and it’s my job to make sure nothing will disturb the peace he created.”

“And what do you answer to the accusation of your supposed real identity?”

“Erm- I wish I could say that I’m a brave teenager but-”

“I never said that.”

“Oh.” Peter frowned. “Okay.”

Peter quickly glanced at Pepper who showed him his note cards. He took them in his hands and began to absently read them in his head. Peter couldn’t focus, his senses were all over the place, everything was too loud but too quiet, to bright but to dark. He needed to focus.

“Do what you want Peter. You’re not alone.” Peter heard MJ whispered. He raised his head and looked at his girlfriend. Michelle was smiling at him and quietly encouraging him.

“I-” Peter looked back at the cards in his hand and threw them up in the air.

“Oh god, they’re the same.” He heard Pepper whisper and the quiet laugh of Happy.

Peter reached the top of his head and began to lift his mask, revealing his face to everyone watching.

“Truth is… I am Peter Parker.”