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Peter woke up coughing. He opened his eyes to a strange sky. He looked down at his hands and found them… fine. Solid. 

 

Why wouldn’t his hands be solid?

 

It all came rushing back. Thanos, Titan, Mr. Stark- 

 

Peter looked around, but Mr. Stark wasn’t there. Peter stood up, panicked. “Mr. Stark!” He shouted to no reply.  The weird guardian people were here, all looking confused themselves, and Dr. Strange. 

 

Dr. Strange was making his magic circle things. He didn’t explain much before he told Peter to jump through one - they had to help save the universe. 

 

--

 

Everything got really blurry after that. 

 

He fought. He fought as hard as he could, even when everything hurt and he was actually pretty scared. He got to hug Mr. Stark, which was nice, but then he lost track of him again. 

 

He met a glowing lady. 

 

He saw the end before half of the people fighting knew the end was coming. He saw the glowing woman fight, saw Mr. Stark take the stones. He tried to run, tried to get there in time before Mr. Stark raised his hand to snap his fingers - but he didn’t. 

 

Some old guy did though. 

 

Mr. Stark and this gray haired man held hands and snapped their fingers, ending the battle and saving them all. The bad guys turned to dust in the same way Peter remembered turning to dust. 

 

Peter kept running. Mr. Stark and the man fell to their knees, both of them obviously hurt. Peter saw Ms. Potts and Colonel Rhodes doing the same thing as him - trying to get to Mr. Stark as soon as possible. 

 

None of them were the first to make it. The glowing woman flew in and grabbed them both, flying them off the battlefield as quickly as she had arrived. Ms. Potts was up and flying after her a second later. Peter and Colonel Rhodes stopped running, both of them watching Ms. Potts fly away. Both of them panting. 

 

The Falcon flew over head, following after them. Peter watched as everyone else started to check in on each other, started to help the wounded. 

 

A hand landed on his shoulder, “you okay, kid?” 

 

Peter blinked up at Colonel Rhodes. “What?” 

 

“Are you alright? You hurt?” 

 

Peter shook his head, he was fine. Compared to Mr. Stark, he was great. Colonel Rhodes patted his back. “Want me to take you home?” 

 

Peter looked around. He didn’t know what had been here before, but this would be one hell of a clean up job. Everything had been destroyed. 

 

“Don’t worry about this, come on. Tony would be pissed if I didn’t make sure you were okay before I checked in on him.” Colonel Rhodes hooked his arms around Peter, and they were off. Peter watched everything fly past underneath them. 

 

They weren’t that far from New York. Colonel Rhodes, somehow, knew where his apartment was. Peter didn’t have his keys though, and May didn’t answer the buzzer. 

 

“I could climb in the window.” 

 

Colonel Rhodes shook his head, “probably a bad idea, I’m not actually sure she lives here anymore. Here let me… I’ll make a few calls.” 

 

His face plant closed, and Peter couldn’t hear who he was calling. He didn’t seem to notice the look of confusion on Peter’s face. 

 

Where else would May live? 

 

Colonel Rhodes didn’t lift up his face plant again, and Peter leaned against the side of the building. Exhausted and confused. He wanted to see May. He wanted to make sure Mr. Stark was okay. 

 

He just wanted to go home. 

 

--

 

Peter was sitting against the wall, he didn’t know how long they’d been here. Colonel Rhodes hadn’t lifted his faceplate again, so Peter didn’t have an update on his aunt or Mr. Stark. He hoped Mr. Stark was okay, he hadn’t looked that great when he’d been flown off by the glowing lady. Peter’s suit was full of holes from fighting, and his mask barely covered his face. He hoped no one noticed them here, because his identity was practically out in the open. 

 

That, and he was cold. 

 

A cab drove up to the curb and Peter finally stood up again. May climbed out of the cab, and all those worries melted away as soon as Peter fell into her arms. 

 

“Oh baby,” May whispered into his ear, “my baby.” 

 

Peter held her back just as tight, his face in the curve of her neck. He heard Colonel Rhodes say something he didn’t catch, and then take off. Peter probably should have thanked him for waiting with him. 

 

May gently pulled away first, her hands cupped Peter’s face. She looked older, tired. She had gray hair at her temples where her hair was pulled back in a ponytail. May pulled him into a cab before he could fully process any of this. 

 

“Where are we going?” Peter asked, turning to watch as the cab drove away from their home for the last 7 years. 

 

May squeezed his hand, and he turned back to see her giving him a teary smile. 

 

“A lot can happen in 5 years, baby.” 

 

-- 

 

Tony woke up to the sound of beeping. The smell of disinfectant. The feeling of course sheets. 

 

Pepper would never allow such low-quality sheets in their bed. So hospital it was. 

 

Tony peeled his eyes opened and yep, there was the white room. The heart monitor. Pepper, her head resting on Tony’s bed. He tried to lift his hand to stroke fingers through her hair, but found he couldn’t. 

 

Huh. 

 

“My arms missing.” 

 

Pepper’s head shot up, her eyes crinkled from sleep. “Tony, sweetheart-” She frowned when Tony started to laugh, “Tony?” 

 

“Sorry, sorry Pep,” Tony grinned, “didn’t mean to scare you, but my arms missing.” 

 

“Yeah,” Pepper nodded, “sweetheart, it’s understandable to be in shock.” 

 

“Shock? Nah, my arm missing means it wasn’t a dream! I actually did it!” Tony laughed again, “I got my kid back!” 

 

Pepper’s face softened, and she let out a small laugh too. “You did, you got them all back.” 

 

Tony nodded, “good.” His laughter trailed off, but the smile was still on his face. “That’s good.” 

 

He passed out again before he got the chance to ask Pepper how she was doing. 

 

-- 

 

Pepper was still there when Tony woke up again, and Tony figured out how to squeeze her fingers with his good hand. It made her cry, which had not been his intention at all. 

 

“You okay?” He asked, when most of the tears had dried up. 

 

She nodded, “I’m fine, Tony. Barely got a scratch on me.” 

 

Tony smiled, “good. How’s our little miss?” 

 

Pepper rolled her eyes, “spoiled. Happy gave her an entire carton of ice cream last night right before our good night call. I’m sure he regretted that soon after.” 

 

Tony huffed out a laugh, but his smile faded quickly. “Does she… know I’m here?” 

 

Pepper squeezed his hand, “she knows something is wrong, but I thought it would be better to explain in person. Happy will bring her down when you’re feeling a bit better.” 

 

“Okay,” Tony blinked, his eyes were getting heavy again. “And how’s Pete?” 

 

Pepper sighed, she brushed his hair off his forehead, “May won’t return my calls. Rhodey said he was fine though, after the fight. He made sure Peter got to May in one piece.”

 

That wasn’t that surprising. May wasn’t his biggest fan. Hadn’t been in years. The last time Tony has tried to talk to her, it had ended in him being screamed at. 

 

He was glad the kid was back home though. 

 

“Good,” he tried to say, but he didn’t think he managed it before he fell asleep again. 

 

-- 

 

The next time Tony woke up, he got a few answers he hadn’t known he was asking the questions for. 

 

The man who had grabbed his hand, the second before Tony had snapped his fingers against Thanos? Yeah, that man had been none other than Steve Rogers. 

 

Tony had thought he looked familiar. 

 

Steve, the old, gray haired, Steve, had a little heart to heart with Sam when he woke up, before he passed away. Everyone was pretty sure Tony would have died too, if Steve hadn’t been there to grab his hand. 

 

Tony didn’t like to think about that. 

 

And Steve, blonde and blue eyed as ever, had left Tony a letter and gone back in time to return all the stones. No one was surprised when he didn’t come back. No one had to guess where he had gone either. 

 

So, it was a bit of a complicated, timey wimey mess, but… they’d both gotten their happy ending after all. 

 

Tony fell back to sleep, a long recovery ahead of him but alive. 

 

--

 

Peter was having a hard time adjusting to ‘Life After the Snap’. 

 

When he’d left his room the morning of ‘The Snap’, he hadn’t really been expecting… this. He’d had his room. His bed unmade, his laptop downloading music, his clothes haphazardly shoved in his closet. He’d had plans to meet his friends that afternoon. He’d had May calling after him to be back by dinner. 

 

And now… he didn’t even have a bedroom anymore. 

 

Peter now lived in what used to be the den of May’s new husbands apartment. It wasn’t that much smaller than his old room, so he probably shouldn’t mind that much, but it felt… weird. May had also only kept a few of his things. Like, he only had a box of his stuff left, and most of it was pictures and awards and crap that he’d had on his shelves. Most of it stayed in that box even now, because there was no where to put any of it. 

 

His laptop wasn’t in this box, and his phone wasn’t either. 

 

His back-up Spider suit, that Mr. Stark had only finally gotten for him because he broke his suit all the time, was also missing. And he couldn’t wear the one he’d had on Titan, it was ripped to shit. 

 

“I don’t know what happened to your suit,” May said when he asked. But she hadn’t even really looked at him when she said it, so he wasn’t sure if he believed her. 

 

But that wasn’t even the worst of it. The worst thing about this new room was that he was currently sleeping on a pull out couch. A pull out couch that poked springs in his spine, and smelled like mildew. 

 

“We’ll sort you out in no time, baby,” May told him his first night back, “this will just take some getting used to.” 

 

Some getting used to was an understatement. 

 

Peter didn’t know if he was ever going to get used to the fact that May now had a husband , and they were living in his apartment. 

 

The husband, Skip, was from New Jersey. He worked some boring office job. He and May had met at grief counselling, because his wife had died a year before the Snap, and May had been mourning Peter. 

 

Peter thought he was weird. He made him feel weird. Skip had done nothing but be nice to him, had only given him smiles and ‘it’s good to see you back, buddy’s’ but… it felt off. It made the hairs on the back of his neck rise, and made his skin itch. 

Peter thought it might be because, to him, Peter and May had been a team only a week ago. It had been the two of them, and they’d lived their lives around just the two of them. And now… now Peter had to learn how to live with a stranger. 

 

So, yeah, it was weird. 

 

Peter would go so far to say ‘Life After the Snap’ full on sucked. 

 

-- 

 

After everyone came back from the Snap, the world spent a few days on pause, trying to figure life out again. May didn’t have to go to work, and Peter didn’t have to worry about school. Skip    still went to work, because he was weird, but he always came back around 4, smiling and giving May a kiss on the cheek. 

 

Peter liked it better when he was at work. 

 

The two of them spent most of that time together on the couch, hugging, eating junk food, watching movies. May didn’t seem to want to talk much about what happened in the last 5 years, no matter how much Peter asked. She also didn’t want to talk about Mr. Stark, or what happened to his suit. 

 

So Peter stopped asking questions. He figured it was still too fresh. May had spent 5 years thinking she would never see Peter again, it was fair to want to spend a few days huddled together, pretending the world didn’t exist. He was sure she would calm down and talk to him later. 

 

They went out two days later to get Peter a phone, and replace some of the things he had… lost in the Snap. It was strange picking out things he had the memory of having. Strange that he had to wear Skip’s clothes, because May had only kept one pair of pants for him, and they were sweatpants he had been wearing for the past two days. 

 

It was announced, on the fourth day, that schools would be back the next day. Employees were also expected to return to their jobs. 

 

May and Peter spent one last night together on the couch.  Peter eating a ridiculous number of chocolate bars, and May sipping her red wine. 

 

Peter didn’t know why he felt like this was the last night before the end of the world. But it did. 

 

--

 

School was… a mess. Flash, the person he had not wanted to see, was one of the only people he recognized. There were a few other people from decathlon, but apparently, life didn’t go on hold just because you were gone for 5 years. 

 

Social media was still a thing though, so it wasn’t hard to find out what had happened to everyone. MJ’s family adopted two kids who had been orphaned from the Snap and they all moved to Colorado, MJ now lived there with them, after coming back from the Snap herself. Peter wondered what life would be like for them all, now that the other kids parents were back. 

 

Ned hadn’t been snapped. He graduated, and was in his Junior year at NYU. Peter had a message from him when he logged into everything on his new phone. 

 

Nedderman (261 weeks ago): Peter?

 

Nedderman (259 weeks ago): Fuck

 

Nedderman (200 weeks ago): Wish you were here man

 

Nedderman (150 weeks ago): I miss you dude

 

Ned (2 days ago): Peter?! 

 

Peter (now): Ned! 

 

Ned: omg! I’m so happy to see your name pop up on my phone dude! 

 

Ned: we need to meet up! Asap!! 

 

Peter: Yes! Name a time and a place dude, I’m there

 

Peter sighed down at his phone as he messaged Ned through lunch. It wasn’t the same as when Ned had been here, sitting across the table from him. 

 

It wasn’t the same as having MJ scowling down at a book beside him. 

 

School after the Snap sucked too. 

 

-- 

 

Skip was watching the news when Peter got home. The reporter was talking about how Mr. Stark had barely survived what he did to save the world. They said he was recovering in a private facility, with his wife and his daughter at his side. 

 

Peter knew all of this, because it was one of the first things he looked into when he got his phone. 

 

Mr. Stark had a kid now. Peter was happy for him. He couldn’t believe that even after having a kid, Mr. Stark had risked his life to save half the universe. Mr. Stark was still the hero Peter remembered him being. 

 

At least that hadn’t changed.  

 

“There’s a rumor that Tony Stark did everything he did for one person,” Skip said, turning around on the couch to look at him, “whoever was on that planet with him when he got stranded there. All of this, life as we know it returned, for one person. That’s amazing, huh?” 

 

“Yeah,” Peter said, “amazing.” He went to his ‘room’ and shut the door. Mr. Stark had saved half the universe, he hadn’t done it for him. That would be ridiculous. 

 

Peter felt sick. He curled up on the stupid springy mattress, and stared at his phone. He wished May were here, but May was working. 

 

He wished he could go visit Mr. Stark, but he didn’t know if he would be welcome. He didn’t know where he was, and he lost all the numbers in his contacts because he didn’t have his old phone. 

 

This new phone was useless. He dropped it and closed his eyes. 

 

--

 

When May finally came home, Peter was sitting at the kitchen table doing homework.  He watched as Skip immediately stood up to pour her a giant glass of wine. He watched May accept it greedily. 

 

He watched, a sliver of unease going through him, as she made dinner while drinking glass after glass of wine. By the time they ate dinner, she was onto her second bottle. Skip wasn’t fazed by this, and Peter felt super uncomfortable. 

 

Peter went to his bedroom after he helped clean up, and May gave him a really weird hug on his way. Skip also gave him an arm squeeze that felt weird. 

 

Everything felt weird in this house. 

 

Peter lay on his shitty pull out bed and tried to remember the last week. He had noticed May sipping wine, but she had done that sometimes during movie nights before. And… it hadn’t been that much. Or he hadn’t noticed it was that much? 

 

Maybe this wasn’t as bad as he thought. Maybe he just didn’t like it because Skip was the one who initiated it. 

 

He could hear the two of them in the living room as he packed away his homework and got ready for bed. May’s words were slurring, and Skip kept offering her more wine. Peter frowned when May blindly accepted it. 

 

May passed out on the couch that night, and Peter heard Skip throw a blanket over her like this was normal. 

 

Yeah, no. This was not normal. 

 

-- 

 

The weeks passed by in a blur. School didn’t really get better. Peter still went to decathlon, but it was not nearly as fun without his friends there. Flash kept giving Peter looks, and Peter wondered if he felt the same. 

 

Every night, Skip was home right before Peter, and every night, Skip talked about the updates on Tony Stark, and all the heroes that fought in the last battle for earth, and would insist that Peter sit with him and watch too. 

 

“Bonding time,” he said, giving Peter’s arm a squeeze, “we need to bond, we live together now. If we are going to be roommates, we need to learn how to get along. For May, at least. I gave you two your first week back together, but it’s time you and I got to know each other. Man to man. I’m going to be in your life now too, after all.” 

 

Peter agreed to it, but only for May. He stayed at his end of the couch and watched the stupid news shows Skip was obsessed with. 

 

Every night, May came home and started drinking… every single night. Skip drank sometimes too, and he even offered some to Peter, most nights. 

 

“Technically,” he said, holding a beer out to Peter, “you’re almost 21, according to your ID.” 

 

Peter turned him down, shaking his head. He didn’t think it was funny. 

 

May never commented on it. 

 

-- 

 

“And I am the champion,” Tony said, lifting his arm in celebration. 

 

Pepper pushed his arm down, “congratulations, honey, but maybe save the celebration for when you can walk for longer than the length of one hallway.” 

 

“Hey,” Tony said, offended, “this is a big deal. I couldn’t even lift my arm last week, now look at me,” he motioned to himself, “I’m practically Usain Bolt.” 

 

“I wouldn’t go that far,” Rhodey said, pushing the wheelchair up behind Tony. “But congrats, man, this is a big deal.” 

 

Tony sat down with a smile, happy someone agreed with him. 

 

“Whose Usain Bolt?” Morgan asked, climbing into Tony’s lap as soon as he sat down. He wrapped his arm around her happily, not minding at all. 

 

“A very fast man. Not like your father at all,” Pepper replied. 

 

Tony gasped in mock outrage, they all shook their heads at him. Even Morgan. Tony didn’t care though, he knew he wasn’t going to be winning any Olympic medals in his life, but he was happy. He could walk again. He could hold Morgan again. He was scheduled to try out his prosthetic arm next week. 

 

Things were looking up. 

 

“Alright, well, I might not be Usain Bolt, but at least I’ve still got my rugged good looks. Didn’t lose those to Thanos.” 

 

“I don’t know,” Pepper smirked, traced a finger down his cheek, “you’ve got some lines here I don’t remember being there before.”

 

“Hey, now,” Tony turned to her, but Pepper was already bending down to kiss his cheek. 

 

He didn’t have much to be mad about. Not right now. 

 

They wheeled back into his room, and Rhodey helped him back in bed. Pepper left to grab them all lunch, Morgan trailing after her to help choose for all of them. Ever the tyrant, their little Morgan. He was looking forward to the days she chose his outfits for him too. 

 

After they left, Tony turned to Rhodey. “Hey, uh,” Tony picked at his blanket, “have you heard any Spider Man news, lately? Pepper said she would let me know when he went out for the first time again but, you know, we’ve been a bit busy.” He waved a hand around the room. 

 

Rhodey sighed, “sorry man, there haven’t been any Spidey sightings.” 

 

“Oh.” Tony frowned, “what’s taking the kid so long? Do you think- do you think something-” 

 

“I think he’s fine, and settling in to life after the snap,” Rhodes said, placing a hand on Tony’s shoulder. “May probably has him on a tight leash right now, that’s all. He’ll probably be out there swinging in no time.” 

 

“Right.” 

 

“And when he does, I bet he’ll swing right over here.” Rhodey shook his shoulder, “come to visit his crippled ol’ man in the hospital.” 

 

Tony laughed, shoved Rhodes hand off his shoulder, “I’m sure the kid has bigger things to worry about. I’ll, uh, see him when I see him.” 

 

Rhodey nodded, though he could see the worry in his eyes. There was always worry in his eyes though, so Tony paid it no mind. 

 

If the kid didn’t want to see him, there wasn’t anything he could do about it. If the kid blamed him for losing 5 years, well… there wasn’t much he could do about that either. It was true. 

 

--

 

On the weekend, Peter met up with Ned. Ned wanted to meet up at a coffee shop near Midtown that Peter had never heard of before. When Peter got there, he thought it looked like hipster place, and wondered if that’s who Ned was now… an NYU hipster. 

 

Peter stood awkwardly in the doorway before he realized Ned was already there , waving at him, Peter just hadn’t recognized him. Ned looked… different. His hair was buzzed. He was taller. He walked with the confidence of- of an adult. It was like he had finally grown into himself. 

 

Peter was happy for his friend, but it left a bitter taste in his mouth. A taste he couldn’t swallow down before they even started talking. 

 

Ned hugged him tight,  and said the exact opposite of what Peter was feeling. “You look exactly the same man,” he said. “Exactly how I remembered you.”

 

They sat down at the table Ned had picked out. Ned had already ordered him a hot chocolate, which was nice, because Peter had no idea what he would have gotten here. 

 

Peter didn’t have much to say. 

 

He talked about how May was with Skip now, but Ned knew that already. He and May used to talk, a bit, before Ned started going to university.  It was too hard for her after that, to keep up with Peter’s friends. 

 

“Schools not the same without you, man,” Peter said. 

 

Ned nodded in sympathy, “I know. It was rough without you and MJ there,” Peter internally winced, he forgot that Ned had gone through the same thing, just in reverse, “but at least I didn’t have Flash.” 

 

Peter shrugged, “he hasn’t been so bad. MJ’s in Colorado now.” 

 

Ned laughed, “I can’t wait until winter, she’s going to post the best shit of her hating the snow.” 

 

“Yeah,” Peter laughed too, even if he didn’t really feel it. He ran out of things to say after that. 

 

Ned… had a lot more to talk about. 

 

University was apparently amazing. He was really close to the people who weren’t snapped from Midtown. He had a girlfriend and boyfriend. He lived in an apartment with three other guys, who were all super chill. 

 

Peter was really happy for his friend, even if it made his heart ache for the Ned he knew… the Ned he would never see again. 

 

The Ned he missed the chance of growing up with. 

 

They parted ways saying they would meet up again, but… Peter didn’t know if they would. Ned was old and cool now. Peter… was just a memory of the past for him. 

 

-- 

 

On Sunday, May insisted they all went out for a picnic. She grabbed their old, giant, picnic basket. She filled it with blankets and sandwiches and snacks. Peter rolled his eyes, but went along with it. 

 

It reminded him of his May. He was happy to see she was still there. 

 

He wasn’t happy for long. 

 

They went to the park, and the first thing she took out of the basket was a bottle of wine. 

 

“It’s the middle of the day,” Peter whispered, glancing around, “there’s families here.” 

 

May laughed, “no one cares, Peter. Calm down, it’s the weekend.” She poured her wine into a water bottle, drank the red liquid through a silicone straw. 

 

“Yeah, Pete, relax. Here,” Skip offered Peter a can wrapped in a paper bag. “Have a beer, it’ll calm you down.” 

 

“No thanks,” Peter said, inching away from the man. Skip shrugged and opened it for himself. May, as usual, didn’t say anything. She handed Peter a sandwich, and didn’t eat one herself. 

 

Peter sat in silence as the two of them drank their way through the afternoon. 

 

“Peter, honey, why don’t you and Skip play catch?” May brought out a tennis ball she’d packed, “it’ll give you something to do.” 

 

Before Peter could reply, Skip grabbed the ball from her and tossed it back in the basket. “Peter doesn’t want to play catch, May. He’s not a kid.” Skip turned to smile at Peter, and Peter felt his stomach flip. 

 

May just shrugged and went back to her wine. 

 

“I’m going to… wander around for a bit,” Peter said, standing up. 

 

“Okay, have a nice time,” May said. She didn’t tell him to stay close. She didn’t tell him not to be back by a certain time. She didn’t even watch to see what direction he walked away in. 

 

Peter didn’t know why it hurt.

 

Peter spent the next two hours wandering around Central Park by himself. It was the best part of the picnic. 

 

-- 

 

That night Peter woke up to the sound of crying. He had gone to his bedroom early, because he wanted to avoid his drunken aunt as much as possible. Now that he’d noticed the drinking, he couldn’t really think about anything else. And it hurt him, to see her like that. 

 

He didn’t think happy people drank as much as May was drinking. 

 

When he stepped into the living room, Skip was holding May, her body racking with sobs. 

 

“My baby’s gone,” she whimpered into his shoulder. “My Peter is gone, there’s nothing left. I failed him.”

 

Her words were slurred, but they were loud in his ears. 

 

Peter stepped forward, wanting to help her, but Skip shook his head. He understood why a minute later when he lifted May up and took her to the room. May stumbled, and slurred her words. She was too drunk to understand what was happening. 

 

She even looked right at Peter as they walked past him to their bedroom, and her eyes slid right past him. Like he wasn’t even there. 

 

Skip came back out a few minutes later, and moved to clean up May’s wine glass. He waved Peter to the couch, and Peter, for the first time, didn’t hesitate to join him. 

 

“She’s been like that since I met her,” Skip said, leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. He looked like a tired husband of a sick spouse. “Not that bad, she was actually… she was doing a lot better, for a while there. Making a lot of progress. She cleaned out her old place, moved in with me. Moved on. Uh,” he glanced at Peter, “she never forgot about you though, don’t worry about that. She still brought you up every day. We celebrated your birthday every year. For your twentieth we went away, traveled a bit, cause she said you always wanted to travel.” 

 

Peter swallowed. He didn’t like this story. 

 

“I guess… I guess having you back has got her spiraling again,” Skip said, and Peter felt horrible. 

 

He was the one causing this? The drinking? The- the crying? He felt sick. 

 

Skip put his hand on Peter’s leg, he rubbed his thigh in what was probably supposed to be a comfort, but just made Peter feel worse. 

 

“It’s nothing you’ve done, Peter, it’s just… you being here, that’s setting her off.” Skip said. 

 

It did not sound like a reassurance. 

 

-- 

 

Monday morning, Peter woke up to shouting. He blinked in confusion, stumbling out of bed. 

May was already gone when he made it out of his room. She had slammed the door behind her. 

 

Skip saw him standing there and he waved a hand, “don’t worry about it. She gets like that sometimes.”

 

He ran a hand over Peter’s shoulders as he walked past. It wasn’t a pat, or a shoulder squeeze, like Mr. Stark sometimes did it was… like a caress. 

 

Peter felt the hand on his back all morning. 

 

-- 

 

After school, May was, for once, sitting on the living room couch with no Skip in sight. 

 

“May,” Peter dropped his bag by the door, rushed to sit beside her. “Are you okay?” 

 

May looked up from her book and gave him a confused smile, “Of course I’m okay, why wouldn’t I be?” 

 

“You… last night, you were like… sick.” 

 

“Oh, sweetie,” May leaned forward to pat his knee. “I just drank a little too much, but don’t worry, I'm fine. Nothing to worry about.” 

 

Peter felt something tighten around his chest. May last night had not be ‘a little too much’. It had been… it had been a lot. 

 

“May, I think… I feel like you’re drinking a lot more now, than you used to.” 

 

May shrugged, “maybe. I have someone to drink with now, I guess.” 

 

Peter bit his lip, “but… you’re drinking a lot .” 

 

May waved him off, “I would hardly call it a lot, Peter, it’s just a bit of wine.” 

 

“May-“ 

 

“How about we go bed shopping, hmm? I know the mattress in there isn’t comfortable. Let’s go now, so it can be delivered before the weekend.” 

 

May was up and off the couch before Peter could speak. 

 

Peter didn’t get a chance to talk to her about anything else. 

 

 

They didn’t go bed shopping. 

 

May walked them through the mall, picking Peter up a few more pieces of clothes along the way, before she pulled Peter into a restaurant for dinner. 

 

Unsurprisingly, she ordered wine with her pasta. 

 

Afterwards, May started walking out of the mall. 

 

“May? What about my bed?” 

 

“Sorry, honey, I’m too tired now. We’ll go tomorrow.” She said, though he didn’t really believe her. 

 

When they got home, May slipped out of her shoes and immediately went to the kitchen for another glass of wine. 

 

“Where were you two?” Skip asked.

 

May waved a hand, “none of your business.” 

 

Peter went to his room when they started shouting. 

 

--

 

Peter did not like his life after the snap. He did not like school, he did not like living in this weird apartment, and he did not like what his ‘family’ was turning into. 

 

Skip was home first again today. 

 

“Hey, Pete,” Skip called to him from the couch. “Come sit down. They’ve moved Stark to a different facility, he’d improved a lot.” 

 

Peter sighed. He didn’t want to sit down on the couch. He wanted to go to his room, hide under his homework. He wanted to go visit Mr. Stark, or at least talk to him. 

 

He didn’t want to sit on the stupid couch with creepy Skip. 

 

They watched the news in silence, Peter’s arms crossed over his chest. It switched to a commercial and Peter internally sighed when Skip turned to him, he preferred it when they sat there in silence. 

 

“So, when are you done with school?” Skip asked, “it must feel weird to still be there, right? After everything?” 

 

“Uh,” Peter looked at Skip, confused, “I’m a sophomore, I have two years left after this one.” 

 

Skip rolled his eyes, “they really keep you in there forever, don’t they? I mean look at you, you’re an adult by now.” 

 

Peter squirremed, “I’m 15.” 

 

Skip shook his head, but he lost interest when his show came back on. Peter sunk farther into the couch cushions. 

 

He wished he were anywhere but here. 

 

-- 

 

That night after dinner, when Skip went to the kitchen to refill their glasses, Peter leaned over to May. He couldn’t wait to talk to her without Skip anymore, he was out of patience. 

 

“Do you have Mr. Stark’s number? Or Happy’s? I lost them with my old phone, I can’t find any way to contact them.” 

 

May looked at him like he’d grown two heads, “why do you need either of their numbers?” 

 

Peter leaned back, surprised, “cause… I want to check on Mr. Stark? See if he’s okay, after the fight? And maybe he has my suit, since we can’t find it. It’s been weeks, I need to go -” 

 

“You are not going anywhere ,” May hissed. Peter was so surprised, he shut his mouth with a click. “I never want to hear you talking about that bastard again. Tony Stark ruined our lives . He took you away from me. You’re Stark internship is done , you got that? No more Spider Man either. Not after what happened. Do you understand me, Peter?” 

 

“I-” Peter gapped, “May-” 

 

“Do you understand me?” 

 

“Yeah- yes.” 

 

“Good. We’re not talking about this again, then.” 

 

Peter felt his eyes sting, felt his chest tighten. Spider Man… Spider Man was who he was . He couldn’t just… not do that. 

 

May couldn’t just take that away from him. 

 

Could she? 

 

May was turning away from him though, taking the glass Skip handed to her. That was the end of it, in her mind. 

 

And Peter didn’t get a say. 

 

-- 

 

Peter tried to google a phone number for Mr. Stark, or Happy, but there was nothing. The one number he did find for Stark Industries, the receptionist told him that the Stark’s were recovering and wanted privacy. 

 

Peter felt shitty for even calling. 

 

-- 

 

Peter tried to think of ways to spend more time away from home, but it wasn’t really working. School wasn’t the same without his friends, he didn’t want to spend more time during extracurriculars there. 

 

And Spider Manning wasn’t the same without the suit. He wandered around the streets a few times a week now, offered to help people. He helped old ladies cross the street. He helped a kid look for her mom. He tripped a robber. 

 

He had to stop, though, when he got home late one night, and May was in tears on the couch. She clung to Peter until Skip gave her a pill and took her to bed. 

 

“Where have you been going?” Skip asked when he came back to the living room. “May was worried sick, you can’t do that to her. Wherever you go, you need to stop. You need to be here, right after school, so that you’re home before May. Then she won’t have to worry unnecessarily.” 

 

“Okay,” Peter whispered. His shirt was stained with May’s tears. “I’m sorry.” 

 

Skip smiled at him, he pulled Peter into a hug and called him a good man, rubbed his back. 

 

Peter didn’t like it. He didn’t like any of this. 

 

-- 

 

Peter was starting to feel trapped in this house. May couldn’t handle it if he went out, and Skip was constantly making him sit in the living room with him to ‘bond.’ 

 

Peter did not like their ‘bonding’ time. 

 

Skip told Peter about his work life. He told Peter about what he and May did when Peter wasn’t here. He asked Peter if he ever had a girlfriend. 

 

Peter blushed, thought of his failed attempt at homecoming last year. Thought of MJ. He shook his head, “no.” 

 

“Have you ever had a boyfriend?”

 

“Uh, no.” 

 

“It’s okay if you did, you know. Nothing wrong with liking men.” 

 

Peter frowned, “yeah, I know that…” 

 

“I’ve been with a man before,” Skip said. Peter didn’t care, he didn’t want to hear about this. “Back when I was younger. It was a wild experience, I recommend it.” 

 

“Umm…” 

 

“Seriously, Pete, let me tell you-” keys in the door, May was home. 

 

Thank God. 

 

Skip turned back to the TV and stopped talking. Peter got up to help May with her groceries. 

 

-- 

 

May had to go away to a nursing conference. Peter did not want her to go, but she said he would be fine. It would give him and Skip a good chance to connect. 

 

Peter honestly thought they had bonded enough. He said so, and May frowned. 

 

“Skip is, technically, your uncle now, Peter. You need to understand that.” She said. 

 

A flash of annoyance ran through him, “Skip is nothing like Uncle Ben.”

 

May sighed, “no one could ever replace your Uncle Ben, sweetie, but Ben died a long time ago. We have to move forward.” 

 

“It hasn’t even been 2 years!” 

 

“Peter, for me it’s been almost 7. And I’ve been remarried for the last 2.” 

 

Peter didn’t say anything else. May gave him a hug, “I’m sorry, honey. When I get back, we’ll go visit Uncle Ben, okay? Just the 2 of us.” 

 

Peter hugged her back. He wanted to believe her. 

 

-- 

 

Tony was, finally , back at home. Back at the lake house. He was walking again, moving his arm again, playing with his kid. He still got tired, but he was good. It was good. 

 

He stared at the pictures he had on his nightstand, though. The two he had framed beside him while he slept. One was of Morgan, two years old and wrapped in her favorite blanket, peeking out at the camera with a smile on her face. 

 

The other was of Pete, his head thrown back, laughing at something while they worked in the lab together. It wasn’t even a picture he had meant to take, it was a shot of a recording Friday had managed to save for him. 

 

He just wished he could have both his kids with him. 

 

--

 

The weekend May was away, Peter tried to leave too. But the problem was, he had nowhere to go. He tried again to contact Mr. Stark, but it didn’t work. The receptionist told him to stop calling. 

 

He asked around, but decathlon people were busy. They all had practices even during the weekend. He even, in his desperation, asked Flash. Who surprisingly turned him down gently. 

 

Friday night, he hung out with Ned, but he could only hang out until 7 before he had to go to a party his partners were throwing. 

 

“I would invite you but, I don’t think you’d like hanging out with a bunch of college students. And there’s going to be drinking, May wouldn’t want you around that.” 

 

Peter almost laughed. He bit his tongue before he could. “It’s fine,” he said instead. “Have fun at your party.” 

 

Then Peter had two straight days with Skip. He was not looking forward to it. 

 

-- 

 

When Peter walked in around 8, there were already a few beer cans on the coffee table. Skip    waved him over and, reluctantly, Peter went. 

 

Do it for May - he thought to himself. 

 

Skip was watching some movie about fast cars, which was better than the news, in Peter’s opinion. He mostly stopped watching, however, when Peter sat down with him. 

“Hey Pete, I’ve been wondering,” Skip said. Peter closed his eyes. Do it for May. 

 

“What?” 

 

“How does it feel to be like, a grown man living a teenagers lifestyle?” Peter looked at him in confusion. “I mean, technically, with the year you were born, you’re an adult now.” 

 

“I’m… not an adult,” Peter said. 

 

Skip laughed, “you don’t even have a teenage body, you look like a man.” Skip reached forward, put a hand on Peter’s arm. Peter froze. “Look at these muscles, these are not the muscles of a teenager.” Skip moved, ran his hand down Peter’s arm, over his chest. Peter finally snapped out of it when Skip started to squeeze. 

 

He stood up, shoving Skip’s hand off of him. 

 

“Relax, Peter, I’m just fooling around.” 

 

“That wasn’t funny.” Peter said, backing away from the couch. 

 

Skip shrugged, he had a grin on his face. 

 

Peter shook his head and went to his room. For the first time, he noticed he didn’t have any locks on his door. 

 

-- 

 

The next morning, Skip apologized for his behavior. “I had too much to drink, and I obviously made you uncomfortable. I’m sorry, Peter. Won’t happen again.”

 

“Okay,” Peter said. He didn’t believe him, but he didn’t know what else to do about it. 

 

They spent the day apart. Peter mostly in his room, Skip in the living room. At dinner, Skip    called Peter out and they ate in silence. Peter sat as far away from the man as he could. 

 

He noticed Skip was drinking beer again. 

 

After dinner, Peter tried to escape back to his room, but Skip caught his arm, pulled him forward and patted his chest. “You have to clean up, Pete, it’s the rules. I did the cooking.”

 

“Right,” Peter tugged out of Skip’s grip and grabbed the plates off the table. He relaxed when he realized Skip wasn’t following him, he was going to the living room instead.

 

He finished in the kitchen quickly, and tried to escape to his room again. He twisted around last minute though and grabbed a can of beer before it hit the back of his head. 

 

Skip whistled from the couch. 

 

“What the- did you just throw a can of beer at me?” Peter asked, dumbfounded. 

 

Skip laughed, “you know, your aunt told me about the Spider Man thing, but I didn’t believe her. I thought she was a bit delusional in her grief. I thought maybe you were a fan of Spider Man? I don’t know, but now… now I believe her. Wait here, Pete, I’ve got something you might want back.” 

 

Peter stood in the hallway, confused. He put the can down on the table. 

 

Skip was back a second later, the Spider Man mask in his hand. Peter took it, his breath in his throat. 

 

“She burned the rest of it. I thought it was just a costume, so it wasn’t that big of a deal, but I saved this bit. Thought it looked cool.” 

 

Peter took the mask, feeling gutted.  May had burned his suit. May had told Skip is biggest secret, and then burned his fucking suit. The mask trembled in his hand.  

 

“Put it on.” 

 

Peter looked up at him, confused. Skip shoved his shoulder, “put it on, let me see how it looks.”

 

Peter hesitated, but he put the mask on. There was a flicker, but nothing else happened. Karen didn’t say anything, and the visual was shit, he could barely see out of it. 

 

May probably broke it when she burned the rest of the suit. 

 

Hands were on his shoulder, and Skip was suddenly pushing him back. Peter stumbled, and then hit the wall. He hadn’t realized how close they were to it before he was against it. 

 

“What are you doing-”

 

“You look hot like this, Parker,” Skip said. A weight pushed against him, and Peter knew it meant Skip was putting his entire body against Peter’s. He could feel… he could feel Skip’s entire body. 

 

He didn’t know what to do, so he just… stood there. 

 

Skip started to rub against him. “Jesus, look at you. You’re so strong, Peter. So muscular. What I wouldn’t give to have a strong man like you, on your knees with my cock in your mouth.” 

 

Peter’s brain wasn’t working properly. He wanted to move. He wanted to shove Skip off of him, but he didn’t- he wasn’t doing anything. 

 

“Please stop-” he finally managed to say. Skip shushed him. 

 

“You know, when I saw Spider Man, I knew he was a hot man like you. I fantasized about shoving him against a wall. Pinning him down and fucking his brains out. Wouldn’t that be fun, Peter? Wouldn’t you enjoy it if I fucked you?” 

 

“N-No. Stop.” 

 

“Sshh, it’s fine. You’ll enjoy it. You’re a grown man, and you’ll take it like a grown man.” 

 

“I don’t-” but his voice muffled out when Skip put a hand over his mouth. Skip pushed against him harder, rubbed faster and faster until he stiffened, moaned into Peter’s ear. 

 

Then he backed away, and left Peter there. Broken on the wall. 

 

Peter tore off the mask and made it to the bathroom in time to throw up. 

 

-- 

 

The next day, neither of them talked about it. Peter took food to his room, and hid there. On his pull out couch with his blank walls and no space. 

 

He wanted to leave. He wanted to run away and never come back, but where would he go? MJ was gone. Mr. Stark was hurt, because of him. Ned… might take him, but Peter would have to tell him why. 

 

Peter didn’t want to tell him why. 

 

And.. and what would happen when May got back? Peter couldn’t leave her alone with him. 

 

Peter couldn’t concentrate on anything. He tried to do homework, but stared at the pages for so long it was useless. He stared at his phone until the screen went black too. 

 

He couldn’t think clearly. He couldn’t think at all. 

 

This was proven when Skip came into his room after the sunset. Peter should have at least figured out a way to keep him out. But he hadn’t. 

 

And now the man was here, with him, throwing Peter’s mask at him and telling him to put it on. 

 

“No,” Peter said, staring down at the mask beside him. He knew what happened when he put that mask on now. It didn’t make him strong, it just… it just made him freeze. 

 

That was never happening again. 

 

Peter was still staring down at the mask when Skip came at him, grabbed Peter’s hair and tried to shove him onto the bed. Peter pushed back this time, shoved Skip so hard he hit the wall. 

 

Skip didn’t stay back though, this time when he came at Peter, he came at him slowly.

“What do you think you’re doing, Peter?”

 

Peter blinked. “Just- stay away from me.” His voice cracked. He sounded pathetic in his own ears.

 

“Do you want that? Do you want me to stay away? What do you think will happen, Peter, if I left? What do you think will happen to May?” 

 

Peter shook his head, but Skip kept talking. 

 

“May is a mess. She works, sure, but she barely makes any money. This is my house you’re both living in. My stuff you both use. May can’t function like a normal person, Peter, she needs me. She needs me to hold her as she cries herself to sleep every time. She needs me to calm her down when she has an attack. She needs me to fund her wine every night. How selfish could you be, Peter, to take me away from her? Because of what? This little thing? We aren’t doing anything bad. You’re almost 21. You’re an adult, with an adult body. And I’ll make it good for you, Pete. I’ll make it feel good for both of us.”

 

This time, when Skip pushed on Peter’s chest, pushed him down against the bed, Peter didn’t fight it. 

 

He lay there, confused, as Skip did the same thing he did last night. As he rubbed himself against Peter’s body, and whispered words into Peter’s ear. Though this time, Skip pushed his hand under Peter’s shirt. He squeezed his muscles there, ran his fingers over his abs. 

 

After he was finished, he moved his hand lower. Groped Peter through his jeans. 

 

“Shame,” he said. “We’ll work on that. Next time I’ll get you off too.” 

 

He left. The Spider Man mask stayed on the bed. 

 

Peter curled up, and stared at the wall. 

 

-- 

 

Peter left the house before Skip woke up the next morning. He was the first person at the school. 

He sat, his leg bouncing, through all his classes, thinking of what he could do. 

 

He didn’t come up with much. 

 

Flash asked him if he was okay in last block. Distracted, Peter told him he was fine. He left the school late, after most of the students were already gone. Peter wandered around a lot after. He didn’t want to go back. But… he couldn’t leave May. 

 

May was crying when Peter got home. Skip was helping her calm down, the pill bottle already behind him. 

 

May, drowsy from whatever Skip gave her, saw him as he walked her to their bedroom. She stroked a hand down his face, “I miss you so much, honey. I wish you would come back to me,” she turned to Skip, not noticing the flash of hurt on Peter’s face. “What would I do without you Skip? You take such good care of me.”

 

Skip gave Peter a smug look over May’s shoulder. Peter felt disgusted. 

 

He grabbed some food while Skip was busy, and shut himself in his room. He moved the dresser in front of the door this time so Skip couldn’t get in. 

 

He tried to. He tried to push past the dresser, but Peter pushed it back into place. 

 

“I thought we’d been through this, Peter,” Skip said through the door. “Stop being so selfish.”

 

Peter shut his eyes, “go away.” 

 

Skip pushed against the door some more, but he did leave eventually. Peter listened, but Skip  just went and watched TV. 

 

Peter lay in the stupid shitty bed, and didnt get any sleep. 

 

-- 

 

The next day he did the same thing. Got up before Skip, failed to focus in class, wracked his brain for a way to get out of there without hurting May. 

 

He called Stark Industries again and asked if he could just get a message for Mr. Stark, Ms. Potts, Colonel Rhodes, Happy, anyone,  but they told him no. They told him not to call again, they were blocking his number. 

 

He tried to find another phone number. He failed. 

 

-- 

 

He wandered the streets again after school, but not as long as yesterday. He waited outside the building though, until May got there. 

 

May pulled him into a hug at the sight of him. “What nice timing,” she said. 

 

Peter held her back when she moved to get into the door. She gave him a confused look. 

 

“I don’t - May, can we go somewhere else? Somewhere… not here?” He asked, “I don’t… Skip isn’t-” he shook his head, “I need to go somewhere else. Can you please, please, come stay somewhere else with me?” His voice quivered with every word. He was begging. He knew he was begging, but he’d run out of ideas. 

 

And now May, to Peter’s utter dismay, rolled her eyes. “Not this again, I know he isn’t Ben, Peter, but he isn’t a bad guy. Did you guys fight, while I was away?”

 

Peter hesitated, “kind of.” 

 

May looked sad, “was it really so bad?”

 

Peter didn’t know what to say, “I don’t want to go in there, May.”

 

May sighed, brushed his hair off his forehand with a shaking hand. “I know that it’s weird. I know you came back from the Snap and I had a whole new life, but it will be okay, Peter. It will just take some more time. You’ll get used to it eventually, I promise.” 

 

Then she left, she walked inside and barely waited for him at the door.

 

“May, please,” Peter followed after her into the elevator. “Maybe we could- maybe we could go somewhere where they can get you some help too. Maybe Mr. Stark can-”

 

“Peter, we have talked about Tony Stark,” May turned on him, her eyes narrowed. “You aren’t going anywhere near that man, I made myself very clear.” 

 

Peter sucked in a breath. “But May-” 

 

The elevators doors dinged open, and May walked out. She didn’t look back again. She walked into the apartment, into the kitchen, and into a wine bottle. 

 

Peter shouldn’t have expected differently. He went to his room. 

 

-- 

 

Dinner was tense. He didn’t look at Skip, but he could feel Skip looking at him. 

May’s eyes were only on her wine glass. 

 

Skip cornered Peter in the kitchen, while May, who had cooked, went to the living room. He ran a hand down Peter’s back, lower, “everythings fine, Pete, you don’t have to look so sad.” 

 

Peter pushed him away and walked out, leaving the clean up to Skip. 

 

He moved the dresser in front of his door again. 

 

He needed a plan.

 

-- 

 

Peter woke up to the sound of a door closing. His eyes snapped open, panicked when he realized he had fallen asleep. 

 

It was too late though, Skip was on him a second later. 

 

He shoved Peter down, like the second time, but this time face first. This time, he pulled Peter’s pants down. He pushed down his boxers too. Peter was too stunned to do anything. 

 

“Good boy,” Skip said above him, “good boy. You’ve learned not to fight it. You’ve learned I’ll be good for you.” 

 

A hand was on his back. A hand that moved down and down and down, until there was something pushing against him. Pushing inside of him. It hurt, it hurt, it hurt- 

 

He shoved Skip back, and Skip fell, hard. He pulled up his pants, and ran. He locked himself in the bathroom. 

 

He was shaking. 

 

He heard Skip knock on the door, “let me in, Peter.” 

 

Peter didn’t say anything. 

 

“Peter, open the door right now.”

 

Peter didn’t move. Skip tried to open the door a few more times before he cursed and walked away. 

 

He didn’t know how long he sat there. He heard the front door close, and then he threw up everything in his stomach. 

 

--

 

Peter stood in the middle of the apartment, and thought about what he really cared about here. 

 

Nothing. 

 

May hadn’t listened to him. May got rid of all his stuff. May told Skip his secret. 

 

And Skip…  

 

Peter grabbed his backpack and dumped the schoolwork out. He shoved a few pairs of clothes in, the mask, and his toothbrush. 

 

He also grabbed a bottle of wine. Something May might actually miss. 

 

Because as much as she said it… he wasn't sure if she actually cared about him anymore. Peter had turned into someone she mourned, not someone she cared about. 

 

-- 

 

Peter didn’t know where to go. He sat on a bench for a while, just… breathing. He felt lighter, now that he knew what he wasn’t going back into that apartment again. He felt a bit of guilt, for leaving May, but whenever he tried to think about going back he thought about- 

 

He didn’t want to think about it. He was fine. It was fine. Nothing had actually… happened. 

 

Nothing had happened. 

 

He was fine. 

 

He stood up and wandered the streets. 

 

He was fine. 

 

-- 

 

Peter ended up at a park, that night. He opened the bottle of wine and drank the whole thing. It left an awful taste in his mouth, and he only felt kind of fuzzy for a second before it all went away. 

 

High metabolism. Useless. 

 

He climbed up to the top of the jungle gym, curled up with his knees to his chest. He could sleep in here tonight, probably. It was shelter-ish. He didn’t think anyone would look for him here. 

It was better than where he had been sleeping. 

 

He rested his head on his knees. He felt the tears start, and let them run. He didn’t have to hide from anyone. 

 

Or he didn’t think he did. 

 

“I hear you’ve been asking for me.”

 

Peters head shot up, his eyes widened in surprise because there was Mr. Stark, hovering beside him. 

 

“You okay, kid?” Mr. Stark asked, his face plant lifting. “Your aunt called, and I gotta say I didn’t understand half of what she said, but I got the gist of it. You’ve run away to join the circus, Spider Man is your main act. Somehow it’s my fault. That was it, right?” 

 

“What?” Peter looked around, worried, but it was just Mr. Stark. May and Skip weren’t with him. “How did you…” 

 

“Tracked your phone. For someone running away, you didn’t actually make it very far… or make it all that hard to find you.” Mr. Stark was looking him over, his face creased with concern. “Are you okay, Pete?” 

 

Peter shook his head, and then thought better of it. “I’m fine.” 

 

“Alright, that was a mixed message, why don’t you come down to the ground. Talk to me.” Mr. Stark lowered himself to the ground, gestured for Peter to follow him. 

 

Peter climbed down. “Are you okay, Mr. Stark?” He asked when he reached the ground. “I thought you were still in recovery, should you be flying around like this?” 

 

Mr Stark scoffed, “don’t listen to the media, kid. I’m great. It’s you I’m worried about, what’s going on? Why are you crying on a playground?” 

 

Peter sniffed, he didn’t say anything. 

 

Mr. Stark sighed, he reached a hand out, like he’d done a hundred times, to squeeze Peter’s neck, or wrap an arm around his shoulder, but this time was different. This time Peter flinched back, stepped out of reach. 

 

Mr. Stark raised his brows but didn’t comment on it. “Okay, kid, how about this. If you don’t want to talk, let’s get you home. We can talk this through in the morning.”

 

Terrified, Peter shook his head. “I’m not going back there,” he said, his voice barely a whisper. 

 

Mr. Stark’s brow furrowed with concerned, “why not?”  

 

“I don’t - I’ll go anywhere but there.” He said, wiping his nose with the back of his hand. “I don’t… Skip-” he couldn’t say it. He couldn’t fucking do anything anymore. “Please, Mr. Stark, don’t make me go back.” His voice cracked at the end. He couldn’t stop it, he was too weak. 

 

Mr. Stark seemed to get it more than May had though. His eyes got dark, and he just nodded. He didn’t comment on the fact that Peter was really embarrassingly still crying in the middle of a playground, and he appreciated that. 

 

“Okay, Pete, it’s okay. You don’t have to go back.” Peter felt himself relax at the words. Until Mr. Stark started stepping towards him. 

 

He stopped about a foot away, his arms up, “can I pick you up? I’m just going to wrap my arms under yours, okay? That’s it. And then we’ll fly to my place, not May’s.” 

 

Peter stared at Mr. Stark’s hands. He took a deep breath and nodded, “okay.” 

 

“Okay,” Mr. Stark was slow when he put his arms around Peter, like he was scared Peter was a wounded animal that was going to try to run away. 

 

When his arms were securely around him though, they were up and away in seconds, and Mr. Stark carried him out of New York. 

 

Peter felt safer with every mile. 

 

-- 

 

It was late by the time they got to wherever Mr. Stark was taking him. The trip took a lot longer than Peter had expected, and he hung limply from Mr. Stark’s arms when they landed on the grass. 

 

He was exhausted. 

 

They landed beside a lake, and Mr. Stark immediately stepped out of his suit. Peter tried not to stare when he realized that one of the arms from the Iron Man suit was one of Mr. Stark’s arms now. The media had been right about something, Mr. Stark had lost an arm to save the world. 

 

Because of him. 

 

Peter followed him up a narrow path and into a cabin. Inside it was dark, but he could tell it was nice. Homey. Nothing like Mr. Stark’s apartment had been like in New York. He was surprised when he was led up a set up stairs, and then led to a bedroom a few doors down.

 

A room, with a real bed and everything. 

 

“Get some rest, okay?” Mr. Stark said, hovering beside Peter. “I’ll call May, don’t worry about that, just… get some sleep. We’ll talk in the morning.”

 

Mr. Stark raised a hand, and then immediately dropped it. He stepped out, and closed the door behind him with a tight smile. 

 

Peter nodded as he left. He felt awkward. He locked the door as soon as he heard Mr. Stark’s footsteps retreat, and tried not to feel bad about doing it. He knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep in here without it locked. He doubted he would be able to sleep in here with it locked, but at least now he could relax. 

 

He could breath. 

 

Peter walked around the room, dropping his backpack on the foot of the bed. There were a few paintings on the walls, and a bookshelf with random books on it. There was an empty dresser, and a full queen size bed with two matching nightstands. 

 

This room was better than anywhere Peter had been imagining himself sleeping tonight. 

 

Peter found the washroom next. It was simple, no weird electronic jets or heat racks that had been in Mr. Stark’s old apartment. Peter appreciated that. He made sure to lock the bathroom door before he took his clothes off to shower. 

 

He hadn’t meant to, but he found himself staring at the mirror. He looked fine. Tired, but fine. He didn't have any bruises. If he had had them, they had probably healed during the day when Peter had been wandering around the city. 

 

It was like Skip hadn’t… done anything at all.

 

That thought made him feel sick. It was his word against Skip’s, Peter didn’t have any other evidence, and who would believe him? 

 

May hadn’t. 

 

He shoved the thoughts away and got in the shower. He ignored the fact that he was shaking.  

 

He was on edge the whole time he was in the shower, constantly checking to make sure the door was closed and locked. He felt ridiculous, checking, but last time he’d let his guard down, Skip had- 

 

Peter shoved that thought away too. He showered as quickly as he could and got out, even though he still felt dirty.  Hendressing as fast as he could as well. He felt a bit more comfortable having another layer on. 

 

Not that that had done much- 

 

Nope. Not thinking about it. Don’t think- don’t think- don’t think- it’s fine. 

 

Nothing even happened. He was fine. 

 

He finished getting ready and climbed into the bed. 

 

As soon as his head hit the pillow he knew he wouldn’t be able to sleep like this. He kept remembering a hand over his mouth, a body on top of him. He was up and out of the bed an instant later, his eyes locked on the door.

 

It stayed closed. Stayed locked. 

 

He was fine .  

 

He grabbed the blanket at the bottom of the bed, and one of the pillows. He curled up in the corner of the room, facing the door, and tried to calm down. He was in Tony Stark’s house. Being with Iron Man was one of the safest places anyone could be.

 

Peter was safe

 

He finally closed his eyes and fell asleep as sunlight started to filter through the windows. 

 

-- 

 

Peter woke up to the sound of someone trying to open the door. He bolted up, pressed his back against the wall, cursed himself for falling asleep. He should have let himself put his guard down again. He was such an idiot, he was going to-

 

“Hello?” A voice whispered, “ is Peter Parker in there?” 

 

A small voice, a kids voice. Confused, Peter stepped forward and opened the door. A tiny bundle of energy came pouring into the room, and wrapped around his leg. 

 

“I’m so excited to meet you!” The ball of energy said. “Daddy told me all about you!” 

 

Daddy told her… Peter blinked, this was Mr Stark’s daughter. This was Morgan. 

 

Peter gently pried her off his leg so he could crouch down to her level. 

 

“Hey, you’re Morgan, right?” Morgan nodded enthusiastically. “I’m Peter. I’m excited you too.” 

 

That earned him a blinding smile. “I’m so happy you’re back, Peter! I had to wait for years and years, but Daddy said one day I was going to meet my big brother! And now, you’re here!” 

 

“Uh,” Peter blinked, he hadn’t been expecting that. 

 

I wanted to come see you as soon as you were back, but Daddy said you needed some time with your other family first, and we had to wait til you were ready.” She leaned forward, so close that Peter had to move back. “I didn’t like that, but Mommy said I couldn’t argue with Daddy because he got hurt and he needed all his energy to get better. Which he did, but I still couldn’t argue because she said he wanted to see you too, and it was up to you to come see us, so I’m so glad you’ve finally come to see us! Do you like legos ? Daddy said you like legos, want to play legos with me?!” 

 

Peter didn’t know what to say to a lot of that. Mr Stark thankfully walked into his room next, saving him from having to answer. 

 

“What did I say not even 10 minutes ago, little miss? You were supposed to leave Peter alone.” He was grinning down at them, though. Like the sight of Morgan practically climbing into Peter’s lap was the best sight in the world. 

 

 His smile faded a bit, when Mr. Stark’s eyes looked behind him, but it came back, if a little forced, a second later, “how are you feeling Pete? Up for some pancakes?” 

 

“We’re not having pancakes, Daddy, we’re having french toast. Right Peter?” 

 

“Uh, sure.” 

 

“See?” 

 

Mr. Stark rolled his eyes, “alright, come with me then madam, let’s give Pete a few minutes to wake up before you have him running around the house playing. He was probably asleep when you barged in here.” 

 

“I didn’t barge in, I knocked,” Morgan turned around then, heading out of the room and dragging her dad with her. “The door was locked!” 

 

Mr. Stark’s brows furrowed, and his eyes flickered between Peter and whatever he was looking at behind Peter. Peter blinked and the look was gone though. It was just Mr. Stark smiling again, “come down whenever you’re ready, kid. No rush.” 

 

He closed the door behind him, and it was only after Peter had locked it and leaned against it that he realized what Mr. Stark had been frowning at. 

 

The pillow and blanket in the corner of the room. The unmade bed. Mr. Stark knew Peter had slept on the floor last night. 

 

Peter felt his face burn with shame, and he let his head fall back with a thunk. He allowed himself a few moments of embarrassment before he stood up to get ready. He didn’t want to give Mr. Stark any more reasons to worry about him. He had enough already. 

 

-- 

 

Peter walked down the stairs, fully dressed, and worried. He didn’t know what he was getting himself into. He didn’t know who lived here. 

 

He was surprised when he was greeted with laughter. 

 

It was like a breath of fresh air that Peter hadn’t realized he was missing. After two months with… with May and Skip, Peter hadn’t noticed that none of them ever laughed. Not unless May was drunk, at least.  

 

He hadn’t noticed how tense everything had been, even… even before everything with Skip, until he was finally away from it. 

 

Mr Stark and Pepper laughed a lot . They moved around the kitchen like it was a dance, and even when Pepper told him to get out of her way and let her do it, it wasn’t out of anger. There were no hidden barbs behind her words. It was… a joke. Teasing. 

 

Peter had to look away from it when his eyes started to sting. 

 

Morgan grabbed and dragged him outside a moment later, shouting for her father to follow them. They were feeding Gerald. 

 

Peter didn’t have to wonder who (or what) Gerald was for very long. The alpaca lived right outside the backdoor, and it happily accepted the apple Morgan expertly held out to him.

 

“Keep your fingers flat,” Mr Stark said behind them, as he dumped something into a bucket, probably Geralds actual breakfast, and then turned on a hose to fill up the water beside it. 

 

“I know , Daddy,” Morgan said, with all the sarcasm of a full grown teenager. Peter didn't even think he had ever sounded like that, and he was a teenag- 

 

You’re technically 20 now, according to your ID Skip’s words flowed through his head, and Peter took a step back.

 

“You okay, Pete?” Mr. Stark asked.

 

“I’m fine,” Peter said, crossing his arms. 

 

Mr Stark looked like he didn’t believe him, but he didn’t press. Morgan grabbed onto Peter’s sleeve, pulled him forward to introduce him to Gerald. “Gerald, this is Peter. Remember I told you about him?” She said to the alpaca. “Peter, this is Gerald.”

 

The alpaca didn’t even look at him, but Morgan smiled, “Gerald likes you, Peter!” 

 

“He sure does,” Mr. Stark agreed. 

 

Peter didn’t know how they knew that. Pepper called them in for breakfast before he could ask. 

 

-- 

 

Breakfast was nice. Peter only realized he hadn’t eaten anything yesterday after he’d had 5 pieces of french toast and half the bacon. He felt embarrassed, because he was still hungry, but Mr. Stark shoved three more pieces towards and no one mentioned it. 

 

Morgan and Pepper left soon after, to get Morgan ready for her dance lesson at eleven in town. Peter didn’t know what town it was. 

 

“Help me with the dishes, bud?” Mr Stark asked. 

 

Peter felt a chill run down his spine. Which was ridiculous. This was Mr. Stark, this wasn’t Skip. Mr. Stark would never do anything. 

 

“Sure.” He said, gathering the dishes on the table. 

 

Peter was tense the whole time. He kept feeling a hand on his back that wasn’t there. A whisper in his ear that wasn’t going to come. He knew Mr. Stark was shooting him worried glances, but he couldn’t get his shoulders to relax. He was freaking out.

 

“Kid-“ a voice, right beside his ear. 

 

Peter dropped the last plate he was drying, his hands shook so hard. Mr. Stark grabbed it before it hit the ground. 

 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to scare you,” Mr. Stark put the plate on the counter, his eyes on Peter. Peter couldn’t look at him. “I think it’s time we have that talk.”

 

Peter nodded, too worried his voice would shake if he said anything. 

 

Mr. Stark led them outside. They sat in a few chairs set up beside the lake. Peter fiddled with the string on his hoodie. Mr. Stark gave him a few minutes to get his breath back under control. He leaned back, his hands really obviously resting on the arms of the chair. 

 

Peter felt pathetic. He knew Mr. Stark was doing all of this on purpose. 

 

“Listen, Pete, I’m sorry,” Mr. Stark started with. Peter looked up in confusion, he didn’t have anything to be sorry for. 

 

“You don’t -” 

 

“No, I do . I knew your aunt was having a hard time, right after the snap. And everything. But we were all having a hard time,” Mr Stark sighed, ran a hand over his chin, “I kept tabs on her. Made sure she went to her group sessions. Made sure the drinking didn’t get too bad… I tried to talk to her a few times, but she didn’t want to hear anything from me. I only need to get slapped in the face a few times before I learn my lesson. I haven’t talked to her in years. It was a mutual break, I like to think. She blamed me for what happened to you and I didn’t fault her for thinking it. I blame me too.” 

 

“Mr Stark, it wasn’t your-” 

 

“No, kid, it’s true,” Mr Stark looked at him, his eyes sad, “I shouldn’t have let you stay on that ship. You shouldn’t have been on Titan, you shouldn’t have fought Thanos, you… that wasn’t your fight. You’re just a kid . I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you from it. I’m sorry I couldn’t protect you from being snapped at all.”

 

Peter looked down the strings on his hoodie, “it’s okay.” 

 

“It’s not, but thank you for saying that,” Peter looked up again and Mr Stark was staring out at the lake, his mouth twisted in a grimace. “I’m also sorry for not calling you sooner, kiddo. I called your aunt and I thought… well, I stupidly thought that since you were back, she’d let go of the anger. Let things go back to the way they were. I didn’t want to swoop in and take you away again, so I was waiting to hear back from you first.” Mr Stark looked at him, and there was too much understanding in his eyes. “I can see now that that was a mistake. Something is going on, and I wasn’t around to notice. Is it May? Is it her drinking? You’ve gotta tell me what’s going on, kid, ‘cause you’re scaring me here.” 

 

Peter looked down again, he didn’t know what to say. He couldn’t… he couldn’t tell Mr. Stark- he couldn’t tell anyone about Skip. It was… pathetic. It was… he shook his head.  It was too much. 

 

“Peter,” Mr Stark’s voice was soft, gentle. Peter opened his eyes to look at him. He didn’t know when he closed them in the first place. “You’re scared, I can see that, but… I can’t help you unless you talk to me. And by the way this whole not talking thing? Yeah, that’s freaking me out. So why don’t you tell me what’s going on, and I’ll help fix it.” 

 

Peter bit his lip, he could tell Mr Stark… some things. “May drinks… a lot.” He said. His voice was quiet, but Mr Stark nodded. Peter took a breath. “She doesn’t… she’s not around. And… I don’t like Skip.” 

 

“Yeah, I can understand that,” Mr Stark said. Peter spent one heart-jolting moment thinking Mr Stark knew something before he continued, “first you have to deal with a Flash and now Skip ? What is with people these days? I thought Happy was bad.” 

 

“Right, yeah…”

 

“Okay,” Mr Stark’s voice was back to gentle again. It was weird, Peter had never heard him sound gentle before. Not when Peter had known him. “So you don’t like Skip, May’s not around, and when she is she’s drinking?” Peter nodded. “Is she… does she get mean? When she drinks?” 

 

“No,” Peter whispered, “she gets sad.” 

 

“Ah, she’s a cryer, okay. I can see why that would be hard to deal with.” Mr Stark was looking at him though, like he didn’t see at all. Like he knew there was more, more Peter wasn’t saying. A reason why Peter was so scared other than May crying every night. 

 

He had to tell him something else before Mr Stark asked any more questions. 

 

“May burned my suit.” 

 

Mr Stark blinked, surprise blooming across his face, “I’m sorry, what? May burned my multi-million dollar Spider Man suit?!” 

 

“Um,” Peter fidgeted, “she burned my back up one? That you gave me, a few months- or I guess, 5 years ago… the one I was wearing on Titan got all ripped up, so… I don’t have a suit to wear at all, anymore. And May wants me home every night before 5 anyway.” 

 

Mr Stark scratched his chin, “May won’t let you be Spider Man?” 

 

“No.” 

 

“And May’s drinking, every night? Do you know how much?” 

 

Peter shrugged, “two bottles? Sometimes more?” 

 

“Two bottles ? Jesus, alright,” Mr. Stark shook his head, “okay, anything else, kid? And I mean anything. Does May yell at all? Does Skip? Any specific reason you don’t like Skip?” 

 

Peter felt his eyes sting, his breath hitch. He didn’t want to talk about this. 

 

“Pete, hey, it’s okay,” Mr Stark leaned forward, “I’m just trying to… you can’t just stay here, May’s going to try to get you back. I’m just trying to build a case for us, okay? So I can have my lawyers find a way for you to stay with us for a bit.” 

 

Peter sniffed, “you’re letting me stay here?” 

 

Mr Stark frowned, “of course. What else was I going to do? You said you didn’t want to go back there, right? Unless you’ve changed your-” 

 

“No,” Peter said, probably too quickly, judging by the concerned frown on Mr Stark’s face. “I don’t want to go back there.” 

 

“Alright, so you’re staying here. I’ll work it out, okay? You don’t need to worry about it.” Peter nodded, he turned back to his string. “And if you think of anything else to tell me, I’m all ears, got it? No judgement here, you can tell me anything.” 

 

They sat in silence for a few minutes. Peter didn’t know if Mr Stark was giving him a chance to talk, or giving him a minute to collect himself. Either way wasn’t working. The tears were building in his eyes, and his throat was tightening with every breath.

Finally, Mr Stark stood up, and Peter let out a breath. That was the end of it, that was- Peter flinched back when a hand landed on his shoulder. 

 

“Shit, I’m sorry,” Mr Stark took a step back, raised his hands. “You’re okay, kid, I didn’t mean to startle you.” 

 

Mr Stark had only tried to squeeze his shoulder, like he always did when Peter looked sad. He used to love those casual touches from the man, but now… no Skip had ruined those for him. 

 

He felt sick. 

 

“Alright, kid, it’s okay. You’re okay. You’re safe here,” Mr Stark was speaking in a calm, gentle, voice. Peter hated that it was working. He looked up to see Mr Stark really slowly walking towards him again, his hand outstretched. “I’m not going to touch you, alright, I’m just handing you a tissue you.”

 

“Oh,” Peter took the offered tissue, wiping the tears off his face as he gave Mr Stark a confused look. 

 

“Don’t look at me like that, I had a toddler running around here not too long ago, I carry around tissues a lot more than just tissues now.” He reached into his back pocket and pulled out a mini packet of wet wipes, which he offered to Peter. 

 

Peter, to his own surprise, let out a laugh. “I’m good with the kleenex, thanks.” 

 

“Suit yourself,” Mr Stark shrugged. “Want to head back in? See what they’ve got playing on daytime television these days?” 

 

Peter grinned, “okay.” 

 

He ignored the fact that Mr Stark purposefully stayed at least two steps away from him the whole way back. He also ignored the fact that Mr Stark sat as far away from him as he could once they got to the living room. 

 

Mr Stark was trying, and it was all Peter could ask for. 

 

-- 

 

After their talk, the day went by with surprisingly little drama. Morgan came back from her dance practice, and went straight into her afternoon nap. Afterwards, they all had lunch outside by the lake. 

 

It was quite, kind of peaceful. When Peter pushed all thoughts of May and Skip out of his head, he even found he was enjoying himself. 

 

After lunch, Morgan finally dragged him into her room to play legos. It wasn’t exactly the lego’s Peter was used to. Morgan didn’t have a set, or anything to really build, she just had a pile of legos that she would build little animals out of to play with. 

 

It wasn’t like the Star Wars legos Peter would build with Ned, but it was fun all the same. Peter would build buildings that Morgan’s characters would either destroy, or live in, depending on her mood. 

 

He didn’t know how long they were at it until Mr Stark knocked on the door, “dinner time, kiddos, put the toys away.” 

 

Peter wrinkled his nose at the word ‘toys’ though he supposed Morgan’s version of legos, they really were playing with toys… 

 

But… Peter wasn’t a kid anymore. He didn’t play with toys- 

 

“Peter, you have to help me clean up!” Morgan said, throwing all the bits back into the bin. Peter blinked, he hadn’t even noticed her pulling that back out from under her bed. 

 

“Right, sorry…” 

 

“You okay, Pete?” Mr Stark asked, watching him carefully from where he was leaning against the doorframe. 

 

“I’m fine.” 

 

Mr Stark nodded, but he didn’t look like he believed him. He was fine though. He was fine

 

Nothing had happened. 

 

Peter was quiet at dinner. He ate his food while watching the Stark’s laugh together. He felt bad for intruding on their life like this. He didn’t want to bring them down. 

He eyes stayed on Mr Stark’s knew shiny arm. The Stark’s had done enough for them all, they didn’t need Peter ruining this. 

 

Peter went up to his room after, closing and locking the door behind him. He sat down on the bed, and stared at his sad bundle that his life was now. Everything he had fit in a backpack, and was now on the bed. He’d already worn one of his two pairs of clothes he had, he didn’t have anything else.

 

He couldn’t stay here much longer. 

 

Peter peered into the bag, just to make sure, but dropped it when nothing but the Spider Man mask looked back at him. 

 

He shoved the bag to the floor, and ignored it. He didn’t need to think about the mask. 

 

He didn’t need to think- 

 

He made it to the bathroom before he threw up everything from dinner, but it was close. Peter showered again. He felt like there was something on his skin, something he couldn't get rid of. It was under his skin, it was inside of him. 

 

He couldn't scrub it off. 

 

-- 

 

Morgan knocked on his door again in the morning. Peter was up and dressed already. The blanket and the pillow back on the bed, so no one had to know he was still sleeping on the floor. 

 

He helped Morgan feed Gerald, and he helped clean up the dishes after breakfast. Mr Stark and Mrs Stark both gave him worried looks when Peter was quiet throughout the whole morning, but he didn’t know what else to say to them. 

 

He didn’t want them to worry, but… he didn’t want to drag them down with him either. 

 

And he couldn’t put on an act. He wasn’t a good enough liar. 

 

He was relieved when Morgan dragged him outside to play. Morgan was easy. She didn’t know what he was usually like, and she was just… happy to have him there. No matter how much or little he talked. 

And besides, Morgan liked to be the boss, in anyway possible. Peter didn’t have to think too much with her calling all the shots. 

 

They spent the morning playing a game Morgan had made up. She was the prime minister, in a game she called ‘house’. Peter wasn’t sure how that worked, but he was put on secret service duty. He put on sunglasses, and made sure everything was safe before she walked down a path. 

 

It was actually kind of fun. 

 

They had moved on, and were played a game where Morgan was the leader of the whole world, and Peter was, still, her secret service, when Mr Stark came out to find them. He stood by the back door and smiled at them in amusement, not interrupting yet. 

 

Morgan was still halfway through her important meeting with Gerald, the appointed leader of South America. Peter held Morgan on his shoulders as she had an important discussion with Gerald about environmental resources, and what they should do to save them. 

 

“The Amazon Rainforest is important to all of us,” she told Gerald very seriously. “Right, Mr Parker?” 

 

“Uh, right.” 

 

Mr Stark snorted. 

 

“So, next time they’re on fire -” 

 

“On fire?”

 

“Okay, that’s enough sneaking into Mom’s office and watching the news for you,” Mr Stark said, coming in to grab Morgan off of Peter’s shoulders. “It’s lunch time.” 

 

“Wait,” Peter felt lost, “was the Amazon actually on fire?” 

 

“Happened last year, it’s out now. They’re replanting, it’s a whole mess, but it should be getting better. Morgan watched an entire hour of coverage for it before we realized she wasn’t in her room having a nap. I had to buy a huge chunk of the rainforest before she would calm down.” 

 

Peter frowned, following the two of them inside. What else had happened in the last 5 years that he had missed? 

 

-- 

 

That night, Peter spent a lot of time swiping through his phone, looking at what had happened in the last five years. It helped that there were buzzfeed articles with a lot of links: Everything You Missed During The Snap! 

 

The oceans were doing better. The bee population was back up. The Amazon had burned, but that was doing better now. The president of the United States was a woman. 

 

Huh. 

 

Peter kept scrolling. 

 

There were two more Star Wars movies?! Peter felt a little betrayed that Ned hadn’t mentioned that. He went to google the movies, but then he dropped his phone in alarm when it started to ring. 

 

May’s name flashed across his screen. Peter knew he shouldn’t be surprised, he had had other missed calls from her, but… 

 

He wasn’t planning on calling her back. 

 

Peter let it ring out, before he turned it off and put it on the nightstand. Maybe she would get the hint and stop calling when it went straight to voicemail. Although… did he want her to?

 

A knock on the door pulled Peter out of those swirling thoughts. “Hey, kid, it’s me,” Mr Stark said through the door. Peter got up and opened it, and Mr Stark smiled at him. “I’m heading to bed, just checking if you need anything.” 

 

Peter shook his head, “I’m fine, Mr Stark.” 

 

“Okay,” Mr Stark stayed leaning against his doorway for another minute though, watching him. Peter tried not to squirm. “I’m just down the hall, okay? If you need anything. Even… even just to talk.” 

 

“I’m okay.” 

 

Mr Stark watched him for a moment more, before he nodded and left. Peter let out a sigh, closing the door, and then moved to lock it again, before he hesitated. 

 

He was in Tony Stark’s home, he was fine. He didn’t need to lock the door. 

 

He was fine. 

 

Peter got ready for bed, his entire attention on the door. He jumped when he thought he heard it open, but when he looked, it hadn’t moved. 

 

He was fine. 

 

He lay facing the door, his usual pillow and blanket blocking him from the cold floor. 

 

His eyes stayed on the door until they fell shut. 

 

-- 

 

Tony was worried. The kid was thin, thinner than anytime Tony had seen him. He had bags under his eyes, and he jumped at the smallest sounds, any touch. Something had happened… something Peter didn’t want to tell him. 

 

He should have gone to Peter first, he shouldn’t have waited for the kid to come to him. He was an idiot. 

 

“I’m worried, Pep,” Tony sighed, falling into bed. “I’m pretty sure he’s sleeping on the floor in there, right now. I don’t know what to do.”

 

Pepper shut her book, nodding, “he was quiet again today.” Tony ran a hand over his face. “And you’re sure it’s because of this… Skip? Skip Westcott?” 

 

“If it’s not him, I don’t know what it is,” Tony said. “He told me about May, and her drinking and not being around, but he won’t- he’ll barely say the man’s name. He looks terrified saying the man’s name. I just wish he would tell me what it was the bastard did, so I could fix it.” 

 

Pepper grabbed his hand and gave it a squeeze, at least Tony had her. He wasn’t in this alone. 

 

“Maybe we could talk to him tomorrow, when Morgan’s down for her nap.” 

 

Tony shook his head, “I tried, Pep, but… he won’t tell me. He’s scared. I’ve fought aliens with the kid, and I haven’t seen him this scared.” 

 

“James said we should have enough to get temporary custody for now, he’ll let us know tomorrow.” Pepper said, sitting up in bed, “we don’t have to push him, if he’s not ready.”

 

Tony nodded. “He’s not going back to that house, Pep, not if… not after whatever happened there.” 

 

“And he won’t. If Peter wants to live here, he’s staying here. I’ll make sure of it,” she let out a sigh. “I just can’t believe this is happening, May has always been so protective, how could anything have happened?” 

 

“Yeah, well... Addiction ruins all parts of your life.” Tony said. “I’m going to order him some more clothes, he’s already re-wearing the same pants. And I'm getting him a new phone. The one he has is shit.” 

 

Pepper kissed his cheek. “You’re a good man, Tony Stark.” 

 

“Let’s see what happens with this Skip Westcott, then you can tell me if I’m a good man or not.” 

 

Pepper smirked, “worst comes, we’ll bury the body in Gerald’s pen. No one would think to look there.” 

 

Tony raised his brows, “why Mrs Stark, I didn’t know you had it in you.” 

 

Pepper raised her brows back at him, “no one comes after this family and lives to tell the tale, Mr Potts,” she tapped his arm, “we have proof of that right here.” 

 

Tony grinned at her, leaning down for a kiss, but reared back when he heard shouting. 

 

“That’s Peter. Go,” Pepper said, already pushing him off the bed. Tony didn’t need to be told twice. 

 

--

 

Peter was in his old apartment, with May. But he wasn’t really. May kept crying and asking where he was, and Peter kept saying he was here. He was right here. 

 

May never saw him. But Skip did. 

 

Skip pushed Peter to the ground. He put a hand over his mouth, he whispered horrible things into his ear. He rubbed against him and- 

 

“Peter!”

 

Peter lashed out, but a metal hand grabbed his arm. It released him just as quickly, but Peter was already trying to pull away - he hit a wall behind him in his attempt to escape. There was nowhere to go - he was trapped - he was trapped again- 

 

“It’s me, it’s Tony! It’s Mr Stark!” A familiar voice shouted. “You’re okay, kid, you’re safe.” 

 

Peter looked around. It was just the two of them in here, sitting on the floor in the corner of the room. He was fine. Skip wasn’t… Skip wasn’t anywhere near here. He stood up, feeling his face flush with embarrassment. He tried to turn away, but Mr Stark held something out to him, 

 

He was confused to see it was a tissue box. 

 

He hadn’t realized he was crying. 

 

Peter wiped his face, blew his nose. Mr Stark stood there, saying gentle words Peter couldn’t hear. Until a hand was waving in front of his face, “can you hear me kid? You need to breathe.” 

 

Peter sucked in a breath, he hadn’t realized he wasn’t breathing either. 

 

He was a fucking mess. 

 

“You’re okay, Pete, that’s it. Just breathe.” 

 

Peter closed his eyes and tried to focus. He could hear Tony counting the breaths with him.  He could hear Morgan down the hall asking if Peter was okay, and Pepper reply that Daddy was helping him. He could hear the crickets outside, chirping like they did every night. 

 

“Good, that’s good,” Mr Stark said. “Come on, let’s go downstairs. Get some hot chocolate in you.” 

 

Peter followed after him without a word. 

 

--

 

Mr Stark filled his mug with marshmallows. He smiled when Peter also put whipped cream on top. 

 

“Don’t show Morgan that,” he said. “She’ll want to do it too, I can only handle one hyped up sugar kid at a time.”

 

Peter faltered, his eyes started to string. Mr Stark frowned, “hey, its okay, you can do whatever you want to your hot chocolate.” 

 

“I’m not a kid,” Peter said. 

 

“Of course you are.” Mr Stark scoffed. “Jesus, you’re 15, I had to call your school yesterday to tell them you would be away sick for the week. You’re practically a baby.”

 

The tears slipped out, and he wiped them away quickly. “My ID says I’m 20.” 

 

Tony raised a brow, “you were supposed to get a special snapped ID, so that next year...or I guess, in a few months, you can't go out and try to buy alcohol. Your new ID should have a note on the bottom explain you were gone for 5 years, so you’re still underage. Not that I ever thought you would buy alcohol, but I’m sure a lot of teens would and, I don’t know, it’s the best they can think of doing… didn’t May do all this? Everyone who was snapped should have gotten a letter about it.” 

 

More tears. Peter felt pathetic, but he couldn’t get them to stop. “May… she was- she was too busy to really… do anything, after I got back.” 

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“She got rid of all my things, and she said she would replace them but… I still don’t have a laptop, and I need that for school.” Peter wiped the tears away, “and I still only have the pull out couch to sleep on. And - and - she never wanted to talk, about anything…”

 

Mr Stark nodded, his face didn’t really have an expression, but he wasn’t saying anything. It made Peter feel like he could keep talking. He felt safe here. 

 

“She was drinking a lot, Mr Stark.” Peter sniffed. “I’m worried about her. All she does is drink, and then she freaks out if I’m home late, and like, has a panic attack or something.  Skip feeds her pills that make her pass out, but I don’t know what they are. I don’t think they got them from a doctor. It doesn’t… it doesn’t seem normal.” 

 

Mr Stark nodded, his eyes soft, “what else did Skip do?” 

 

“He… he kept offering me beer, and wine, too. He said I was almost 21, it would be okay.

But I… I didn’t want to, Mr Stark. I didn’t.” Peter sniffed. “But I did, I drank one of May’s bottles of wine, but I didn’t like it. I shouldn’t have done that, I’m sorry-”

 

“It’s okay, buddy. You have nothing to be sorry for.” Mr Stark said, nudging Peter’s hand with his gently on the table. Peter felt himself relax a bit. He was safe here, with Tony.“What did May say, when Skip offered you alcohol?” 

 

Peter shrugged, “May didn’t say anything.” 

 

Tony’s brow furrowed, but he didn’t comment. “Did Skip do anything else, that made you feel uncomfortable?”

 

“He…” Peter licked his lips, looked down. “He made me sit on the couch with him a lot, didn’t let me go to my room. He… he..”

 

Peter couldn’t say it. He looked at his drink, he wiped the tears away again. 

 

Tony sighed across the table. “It’s okay, kid, you did good. Thanks for trusting me.” 

 

Peter frowned down at his drink, he’d barely told Tony anything. 

 

“Drink you’re hot chocolate before it gets cold, okay?”

 

Peter nodded. Neither of them said anything else, but Tony stayed with him the whole night. He walked over to the living room, when Peter was done. He sat on one of the armchairs, turned on a movie. 

 

Peter sank into the other armchair. He purposefully didn’t think about the fact that Tony had very obviously left the couch untouched. 

 

He fell asleep halfway through the movie. 

--

 

Peter woke up to the sound of little feet running around the house. He heard whispered voices behind him, Tony and Pepper sounded worried. Morgan was laughing upstairs though, he didn’t know why they were worried. 

 

“James said the temporary custody went through,” Pepper whispered, “May was apparently smashed when social services went to investigate. And Peter doesn’t even have a bed there, Tony, only a pull out couch.” 

 

“I know he mentioned that last night-” 

 

Peter wanted to listen in more, but his ears were ringing. 

 

Temporary custody? Away from May? Peter didn’t know how he felt about that. On one hand, it was May. She was his… she was practically his mom. 

 

But Peter had tried to tell her about Skip, and she hadn’t listened. She had cared more about her wine than about him. Tony had listened but Tony… he’d already lost so much, for Peter. He’d lost his arm. Peter had… Peter was just in the way. 

 

He closed his eyes and pulled the blanket over his head. 

 

He wished he hadn’t come back from the snap at all. 

 

-- 

 

Tony checked on Peter, but the kid was still asleep curled up on the chair. It looked more comfortable than the floor though, so Tony was letting it slide. He went upstairs with only a little bit of guilt. He wanted to double check Peter actually didn’t have any more clothes before he ordered more. Mostly because Peter was the type of kid who wouldn’t wear them if he didn't think he needed them. The kid was weird like that. 

 

Peter’s room was almost as bare as when Peter had arrived a few days ago. Tony made a mental note to change that, maybe add some of those Star Wars posters Peter likes to his ordering list. 

 

As he suspected, Tony only found a small pile of clothes on Peter’s bed. The only things Pete had brought with him was a pair of pajamas, sweatpants, jeans, and three t-shirts. None of them even had puns on them. Unacceptable. 

 

He found the backpack shoved under the bed, but there wasn’t much more in there. He was surprised, however, to find something unexpected at the bottom of the bag. The Spider Man mask. Supposedly the last piece of the suit May had destroyed. 

 

Tony brought it with him to his lab. It might have some answers. 

 

-- 

 

It was broken, unsurprisingly. May had broken his multi-million dollar suit. 

 

Tony didn’t care though, he cared more about the fact that there was one baby monitor clip on here, and it was dated after the snap. 

 

Tony sat in his chair, tapped his fingers on the desk. It could be nothing. It could be the kid trying on the mask, and then pulling it off immediatly. 

 

Or it could be the answers Peter isn’t wanting to give him. 

 

Should he watch? Tony sighed, grabbed his mug of coffee. It wasn’t like he hadn’t watched the baby monitor videos without Peter’s permission before. 

 

“Friday,” Tony said, mind made up, “play it.” 

 

They visial was bad, blurry. There was something really close to Peter, though, something moving. Was that a person? The audio cued in a second later. 

 

“-ouldn’t that be fun, Peter? Wouldn’t you enjoy it if I fucked you?” 

 

“N-No. Stop.” 

 

Tony dropped his coffee. 

 

“Sshh, it’s fine. You’ll enjoy it. You’re a grown man, and you’ll take it like a grown man.” 

 

“I don’t-” 

 

A muffled shout. A grunt.



“Friday, stop it. Stop!”

 

The audio stopped. The image paused. 

 

Tony sat, staring in horror at the screen. 

 

--

 

Peter must have fallen asleep again, because he woke up to the sound of something shattering. He sat bolt upright, terrified that something was here - or that Skip was- 

 

“It’s okay Peter,” Pepper said, “Tony drops things sometimes in his lab.” 

 

Peter looked around, confused. Pepper and Morgan were curled up on the couch together, watching a cartoon. The clock beside the TV said it was 3. He had slept most of the day. 

 

“We let you sleep, you looked tired,” Pepper said gently. Peter nodded. He tried to calm his breaths, his heart. 

 

“Are you okay, Peter?” Morgan asked. Peter nodded. 

 

“I’m fine.” 

 

“I made you a sandwich for lunch, but Mommy said not to wake you. I put it beside you!” Peter looked to the small side table beside him. A plate with a peanut butter and jam sandwich sat on it, with a few carrots on the side. An juicebox sat beside the plate. 

 

“Thanks, Morgan. This looks great.” He picked up a carrot first, even though they were looking a little dry from sitting out for a few hours. Morgan beamed at him. 

 

Pepper also gave him a soft smile, “are you alright?” 

 

Peter nodded, letting out a shaky breath. 

 

“This episode is almost done, want to watch Finding Marlin with us?” Pepper asked  

 

“Finding… Marlin?” 

 

“Oh, right. Yes, Find Marlin. It came out a few years ago. The snap ruined a lot of Disney’s plans for upcoming movies, but Ellen Degenerous was still around, and she got her way to get a trilogy for the Finding Nemo franchize,” Pepper grinned. 

 

“Okay,” Peter said as snuggled back down into his blanket, picking up the plate as he was at it. Morgan grinned at him as he took his first bite. 

 

-- 

 

Peter was dragged outside of the house by Morgan after the movie was over, which was probably for the best. He’d slept so much, he doubted he would be able to sleep tonight without at least some exercise.

 

The two of them went swimming. It was was still spring, and the lake wasn’t very warm, but Morgan wanted to, and Peter wasn’t about to tell her no. She wore a wetsuit, and a life jacket. Peter wore a borrowed pair of Mr. Starks swim trunks. 

 

He kept his shirt on. 

 

Pepper, wearing a sweater, a scarf, and slippers, sat on the dock and worked on her tablet, looking up whenever one of them decided to do a particularly exciting jump into the water. 

 

Mr Stark came sauntering down after they’d been swimming for long enough that Morgan had invented a new game - Peter jumping off while holding her, because he could jump a lot higher than she could. 

 

He still didn’t jump as high as he could. He didn’t want her to get hurt. 

 

Mr Stark laughed at the two of them, and when Peter turned around again, he’d pulled out his phone to take pictures. Peter rolled his eyes, but Morgan instantly started posing. 

 

“Daddy! Take a picture of me flying! Peter, do the flying thing!” 

 

Peter huffed, but he complied. He got a hold of Morgan’s life jacket and lifted her up, out of the water. He waved her around a few times, before gently tossing her back in again. 

 

Morgan giggled like mad through the whole thing. 

 

“Again, again!” 

 

“Alright, I think that’s enough taking advantage of Peter’s strong arms, eh?” Tony said. “Besides, you two are going to be blue if you stay in any longer, it’s too cold. Out you get.” 

 

They both climbed out. Tony helped Morgan out of her lifejacket and wrapped her in a towel. Peter wrapped himself up. They went back inside, Peter went to shower off. 

 

The panic attack came out of nowhere. 

 

He was clean. He had his sweatpants from before the snap on, and he was heading out to get a shirt when he realized he hadn’t locked the door to his bedroom- hadn’t closed the door to the bathroom.

 

He hadn’t even thought about it, but now that he had, he felt the fear climb into his throat and grab on tight. 

 

Anyone could have gotten in, anyone could have- Skip could have- 

 

Why hadn’t he closed the door? 

 

“Pete? You okay?” Tony was crouched in front of him, Peter didn’t know when he got there. He flinched back when he felt something touch his arm. 

 

“Don’t- don’t touch me,” Peter said. His back hit the wall, and his panic grew. Fuck it was happening again- it was happening all over again, because he was so stupid. He was so stupid how was he letting this happen again?!  

 

But Mr Stark didn’t pin him to the wall. Mr Stark didn’t do anything but hold his hands up, move a few steps away. 

 

“I’m not going to touch you, bud, but you have to breath, okay? You’re having a panic attack, you’re breathing is all over the place, can you follow mine?” Tony took an exaggerated breath, Peter copied it. “That’s great, buddy, can you do it again?” They did it again, at the same time. 

 

Peter was already starting to feel better. 

 

“Hey, you were in the decathlon team, who was the 16th president of the United States?” 

 

“Uh, Abraham Lincoln.” 

 

“Oh, really?” Tony grinned at him. “I didn’t actually know that.” 

 

Peter let out a laugh, let his head fall back against the wall. 

 

He couldn’t believe that, for a second there, he actually thought Tony would do what Skip had done. He was an idiot. 

 

They sat in silence for a minute, before Tony spoke again, his voice quiet. “Can you tell me what set you off?” 

 

Peter swallowed. “I don’t know, I… I didn’t close the door, I guess. I felt… I felt-” 

 

“Vulnerable.” Tony nodded, his eyes thoughtful. 

 

Peter swallowed. “Yeah.” 

 

“Okay, do you… do you want a different lock, on this?” Tony turned around. “One that closes your door automatically? I could make that happen.”

 

“No, that’s okay. Its stupid.” 

 

“It’s not stupid,” Tony said firmly. “Nothing that makes you feel better is stupid.”

 

“… thanks, Mr Stark.” 

 

“Anytime, kiddo.” Tony said, before stepping forward to offer Peter a hand up.  

 

-- 

 

Pepper made chili, with garlic bread. It was delicious. 

 

Pepper took Morgan upstairs for bath time after, and Peter and Tony cleaned up the kitchen. There wasn’t much, which was nice. And Peter noticed Tony was staying at least a foot away from him at all times. 

 

Peter wanted to tell him that it wasn’t necessary, that Peter could handle Tony standing behind him. Tony was safe, after all. But he didn’t. Because he didn’t know how to talk about anything, anymore. 

 

Besides, there was a chance that if Tony touched his arm, Peter would have another panic attack. If a fucking door could set him off, touch probably would too. He hated it. He felt fragile, like paper that had been left in the rain. He could tear at any moment. 

 

It fucking sucked

 

Peter took a steadying breath, as he moved to place the last plate on the drying rack, and then he froze. 

 

He was staring at his own face. 

 

“You okay, kid?” 

 

“That’s… me.” Peter said dumbly, pointing at the picture on the wall.  

 

Tony snorted, “yeah, and me. You’ve been here how many days and you haven’t noticed that?” 

 

“You have a picture of me in your kitchen.” 

 

“Yeah,” Tony side eyed him. “And in my office, and in my bedroom. That’s it though, cause I only had so many pictures of you…” Tony smiled, “I’m going to print out a few from today though, frame one beside my bed instead. It’ll be nice to have one with both you and Morgan in it. Give me more room on my nightstand for sure.”  

 

“You have a picture of me… beside your bed .” Peter felt lost, like he’d missed something really important. 

 

Tony was looking at him like he had definitely missed something. “Peter, you’re my kid. Of course I have a picture of you beside my bed. That’s what parents do.”  

 

Peter blinked. He didn’t know that, he didn’t think May had a picture of him beside her bed. May had said tears were too triggering, there hadn’t been any pictures of them around the house. Peter took a breath, but it was too late. The tears were back. 

 

“… so, you. You think of me as...” 

 

Tony smiled at him, it looked sad. “Pete, even before the snap you were my kid. I didn’t… know exactly, how to show it, but the love was there. Why do you think I invited you over all the time? You were at my house every Monday and Thursday, and every other Saturday. I was practically your co-parent.”

 

“But, that was all for,” Peter waved a hand. “Spider Man stuff. We worked on Spider Man stuff and- and…”

 

“We worked in the lab, and the gym, and we watched movies, and I even bought a Playstation for you so you could kick my ass at Halo . We were just spending time together, kid.” 

 

That was true, in the year before the snap, him and Tony had gotten really close. Did that mean Skip had been right? Did that mean... 

 

Peter sniffed, “did you do everything, reversing the snap and everything you did… for me?” 

 

“Yes,” Tony laughed. “I mean, the rest of the universe was great to get back too but, 100%, if it wasn’t for you, I would not have done it.” 

 

Peter sniffed again, he wiped the tears off his face, and then he stepped forward and smashed himself into Tony’s shoulder. Tony wrapped his arms around him immediately, shushing him when Peter started to cry. 

 

“Tony,” he said his voice a wreck. 

 

“Yeah, bud?” 

 

“I love you.” 

 

“I love you too.” 

 

“I want to live here with you.” 

 

“Good,” Tony squeezed the back of his neck. It felt secure, safe. It didn’t make his skin crawl anymore. “You’re not going anywhere.” 

 

-- 

 

The kids were safe downstairs, huddled in the living room watching yet another Disney movie, when Tony finally had the chance to talk to Pepper about what he’d found. 

 

“I only watched the whole thing because someone had to edit out the Spider Man references for the police.” Tony said, staring at the frozen blurry image projected on the screen in his lab.  

 

Pepper nodded beside him, her hand over her eyes, “I can’t believe what that bastard did to our kid.”

 

Tony pulled her close. “We’re going to get him,” he promised. 

 

“He got himself,” Pepper said, sounding disgusted. “Forcing Peter to wear that mask. He took away all his safe places at once- his home, his suit . I can’t believe-” Pepper sucked in a breath. “I’m going to… set up a plan. For Peter. A recovery plan. First step is going to be making him feel safe again in his own home.” 

 

“I have an idea for that, actually,” Tony said, rolling his chair over to grab some tech, “I’ve been tinkering with some security cameras, I think I can make them shoot out webs, like Pete’s shooters. So if anyone he doesn’t around comes into his room, they get stuck and can’t get anywhere near him.” 

 

Pepper nodded, “good. Get those in his room as soon as possible, because step 2 is going to be getting him to actually sleep in a real bed. 3 will be getting some more weight on him.” 

 

Tony grinned at her, “you already have a plan, and you’ve known about this for barely ten minutes. I panicked for like an hour, and then started deconstructing security cameras.” 

 

Pepper smiled, though it was sad, “we all have our strengths. I’ll finish the plan up tonight, after the kids are in bed. I want to join them for the movie now though. I need to… I need to see them both happy right now.” 

 

“I get that,” they held hands for a second, Tony kissed her fingers. “I’m going to call James. Tell him what I found, what he thinks we should do. I don’t know if the police will arrest someone before they actually see any evidence, but I don’t think we should send this to them before we tell Peter about it. I want the bastard locked away, but I don’t want Peter to have to… talk about it. Not until he’s ready.” 

 

“Tony… he might never be ready.” 

 

Tony sighed, “I know.” 

 

--

 

Tony tucked Peter into bed that night. He pushed his hair off his forehead and smiled at him gently. Peter didn’t have the heart to tell him he wouldn’t be able to sleep in the bed, would be climbing out as soon as Tony left. Tony was being so nice. 

 

“I set up some security,” Tony said, leaning back. “Obviously the whole house has an alarm system, and has triggered defenses - obviously - but your room in particular. If anyone comes through that door that isn’t you, me, Morgan or Pepper? They’re getting a web net shot at them, and they’re getting stuck to the wall, Spider Man style.”

 

Peter blinked. “Wait, really?”

 

“Yep,” Tony leaned back, pointed at three separate black cases stuck to the walls that hadn’t been there before. “Same with the windows. No one is getting in here, okay? You’re safe. And if Pepper or I come in here, and you shout, um, anything, same thing happens. Morgan’s exempt though, I have no power over her and I can’t be expected to.” 

 

Peter grinned, “you didn’t have to do that.” 

 

“Course I did, my kid hasn’t been sleeping.” Tony tousled his hair and then stood up. He twisted the lock on the doorknob before he left, winking at Peter before he closed it behind him. 

 

Peter was safe here. Safest he’d ever been, probably. 

 

He fell asleep within minutes. 

 

--

 

Peter was sitting on a couch, watching TV. He didn’t really want to be sitting here watching TV, but he had to. Though he didn’t remember why. 

 

He glanced around, but there was no one there. 

 

“Hello?” He called out. No answer. It felt like he was the… only one left. 

 

Ever. 

 

“Hello?” He tried again, to no reply. 

 

The channel changed. More news about Iron Man. More news about how Tony Stark had died saving the world. Peter stared at it in shock. 

 

“No,” he whispered. This was wrong. Tony wasn’t- he wasn’t- 

 

“I can’t believe he did all of that, for you,” someone said beside him. He turned, but no one was there. “We lost the smartest man the world’s ever known, for you. A pathetic spider who isn’t even strong enough to defend himself.” 

 

A hand was suddenly on his chest, the smell of beer in his nose- 

 

“No, get off-” 

 

“Pathetic, but strong.” The hand moved down. “I’ve always wanted to-” 

 

“No!” 

 

“Peter!” 

 

Peter sat up, panting. There was a knock on his door. 

 

“Pete, wake up, it’s just a dream. Can you- I can’t get to you, kid, you need to open the door.” Tony said on the other side. Peter looked around wildly, but no one else was in the room. He was safe. “Damnit,” he heard Tony whisper to himself, “I probably should have thought this locked door thing through.” 

 

Peter stood up on shaky legs to twist the knob open - Tony did the rest. He hesitated for a second, both of them standing there, Tony’s eyes wide open, before Peter nodded and found himself engulfed in Tony’s arms. 

 

He closed his eyes and leaned into it. Safe. 

 

-- 

 

The week went by in a spring haze. Peter spent his days with Morgan, playing outside when it was sunny, playing games in the living room whenever it rained. Sometimes Tony and Pepper joined them, usually for the board games, but mostly it was just the two of them. 

 

It was nice. Peter had always wanted a sister. 

 

At some point Tony must have gotten a concerned call from his school, because halfway through his second week he started getting school work emailed to him by his teachers. He didn’t mind, most of it was pretty easy. And no one was asking him to go back. 

 

He couldn’t… he couldn’t think about going back there. 

 

During the nights, Peter always tried to sleep in his bed, he really did. On the good nights, he got a solid 6 hours before a nightmare work him up. On the bad ones, he barely got two. 

 

Tony was always there, no matter the time, when Peter opened his door. Tony never asked questions. He would bundle Peter up, and lead him downstairs. They would make hot chocolate, or chamomile tea, and gather up snacks.  They would curl up into the armchairs and put on a show or a movie. Peter usually fell asleep again halfway through whatever they were watching. 

 

Tony sometimes fell asleep again at the beginning of what they were watching, based on the snores floating from the other side of the room. 

 

It didn’t matter though. Tony was there, and Peter was safe. 

 

He was safe here. 

 

Until he wasn’t. 

 

-- 

 

Peter was cozy in his chair when there was a knock on the front door. He twisted his head in confusion, but didn’t get up. Morgan was on the couch, watching a few post-dinner cartoons before she had to go to bed. She climbed up on her knees, peering over the couch cushions. 

 

Tony opened the door, and that’s when the screaming started. 

 

Full custody ?” May shouted, “you’re suing for full custody ? Who are you to sue for any custody? I’m his aunt, I’m his family !” 

 

Morgan’s eyes were wide, “Peter, there’s a crazy woman at the door!” She whispered to him. 

 

Peter had Morgan in his arms and was halfway up the stairs before he really thought about it. 

Get her somewhere safe . That had been his first instinct. 

 

He wondered when May had stopped being somewhere safe to him. 

 

He gently placed Morgan on her bed, “stay here, okay?” He said, “lock the door behind me. Only open it for your mom or dad.” He closed the door behind him, he didn’t know if she would listen, but he had to hope she did. Pepper was out meeting a friend in town. Tony was dealing with May and Peter… 

 

Peter didn’t know if May had brought Skip with her. He didn’t want Skip even looking at Morgan. 

 

He sat at the top of the stairs and listened. May was still shouting. 

 

“You can’t keep taking everything away from me, Tony! First- first you have Skip fucking arrested , and now you’re- you’re making sure Peter won’t ever see me again? Why?! Why do you hate me so much?” 

 

“May,” Tony’s voice was quiet, calm. “Have a seat, okay? I don’t know how you managed to drive here in this state, but you look one small breeze away from falling over-” 

 

“I didn’t drive here, Skip drove me,” May said, indignant. Peter’s blood ran cold. “You tried- you tried to take him, but I got him out. It was all lies anyway. All lies, so you could take Peter away, but you can’t have him! He’s mine!” 

 

“You brought Skip here ?” Tony asked, his voice cold. “Are you out of your fucking mind, May? Peter is barely holding it together, after what the sick fuck did to him, and you brought him here ?” 

 

Peter’s breath caught, his heart stopped. That sounded like… like Tony knew what Skip had done. But- but he couldn’t have. Peter hadn’t said anything. Skip wouldn’t have said anything, so how did- 

 

“You don’t have any proof, Tony.” May said. “Your fabricated story is full of holes. I would never let anything happen to Peter-” 

 

“I have proof,” Tony hissed, “I have proof, I’ve been waiting until I got a chance to talk to Peter before I send it to the cops. You weren’t supposed to post his bail!” 

 

“Peter won’t talk though, will he? Because he’s a good person, he won’t lie for you-” 

 

“Peter is a traumatized child who is scared out of his mind, I was giving him some time to breath before I threw this at him again!” 

 

“Knock, knock,” the voice from Peter’s nightmares said, “sorry to barge in, but we don’t have much time. Where’s Pete?”

 

Peter couldn’t breath- he couldn’t- 

 

“The kid is not going anywhere near you, get the fuck out of here.” Tony said, he sounded furious. 

 

“I’m not leaving without Peter,” May said. 

 

“Yeah come on, Tony,” Skip said, “we’re his aunt and uncle. He belongs with us-” 

 

A shuffle, a shout- tiny feet hitting the floorboard behind him. 

 

“Peter, is Daddy okay?” Morgan was behind him. Morgan was out of the safety of her room and- 

 

“Peter!” May was at the bottom of the staircase. There was still shouts coming from the front hall, but May was at the bottom of the staircase and she was starting to climb them. To get closer to him. “Peter, come on, let’s go-” 

 

May reached out a hand, Peter stood up. 

 

“Peter-” 

 

“Peter?” A tiny hand clutched the bottom of his shirt. 

 

Get her somewhere safe .

 

Peter scooped Morgan up and ran. He ignored May’s shout behind him. He pushed open Morgan’s window and climbed out, “hold on tight,” he whispered. 

 

He jumped off the roof, and ran. 

 

-- 

 

“Peter!” 

 

Shit. In his distraction of finally getting the chance to deck Skip, May had slipped past him. Skip    was leaning against the wall now, a hand cupped his bleeding nose. Tony left him there to get May - who was making her way up the stairs. 

 

“Peter, where are you going?!” May cried. Tony grabbed her arm, dragged her back down the stairs. May didn’t stop him. “He just… jumped out the window. Instead of talking to me.” May turned to him, her face pale. “He looked terrified.” 

 

“Yeah, you just drove his rapist to our house. I wonder what scared him off?” Tony grabbed Skip’s arm on the way to the door, dragged him along with him. He ignored the man’s whining about a broken nose. 

 

“Tony, Skip would never-” 

 

“Yeah, this whole not believing your own nephew thing? It’s gotten old, real fast. Now both of you get the fuck off my property or I’m calling the cops.” Tony gave them both one last shove towards their car. 

 

Skip got in without complaint, his sleeve over his nose. May stood, her eyes towards the woods. 

 

“It’s getting dark,” May said, turning to Tony. “He’s not used to the woods at night.” 

 

“I’ll go get them, after he’s gone,” Tony nodded toward the car. “Don’t worry, May, I’ll look after him. Better than you did.” 

 

May’s jaw clenched. Skip honked the horn before she could say anything else though, and she got in the car a second later. 

 

Tony let out a breath. “What a shit show.” He turned towards the woods, “Peter? Morgan?” No answer. He wondered how far Peter had run. 

 

He tapped his watch, “Friday, bring me up the location of Morgan’s bracelet tracker.” A hologram popped up. “Huh.” Peter had run two miles and then climbed a tree. 

 

“Always with the heights, eh kid?” Tony shook his head. They were safe, that’s all that mattered. 

It wouldn’t take too long to get to them. 

 

Pepper’s car drove up as Tony was getting into his suit. She got out fast, her face pinched with worry at the sight of him in the suit again. 

 

“May and Skip showed up for a nice chat. I broke his nose.” 

 

“Where’s Peter?” 

 

Tony nodded towards the woods, “grabbed Morgan and ran. Currently hiding in a tree.” 

 

Pepper sagged in relief, “good.” She hit her watch, her blue suit unfolding around her. “I’ll come with you.” 

 

--

 

“Peter,” a voice called to him. Peter frowned, confused. “Peter, come on, kid, you gotta open your eyes.” 

 

Open his eyes? He didn’t remember falling asleep. He didn’t remember… 

 

Peter’s eyes snapped open. His arms tightened around the warm bundle in his arms. He’d run from Skip and May, he’d run until he couldn’t hear anything behind him and then he’d climbed a tree. 

 

Morgan had fallen asleep at some point, he wasn’t sure when. He’d only meant to rest his eyes for a second, he hadn’t meant to fall asleep in a tree with his little sister. He hadn’t meant- 

 

“Pete, look at me. You’re fine.” Tony was hovering in the Iron Man suit a foot away from him, the face plate was down, and he was watching him with concern. Peter didn’t know how he hadn’t heard him flying here. He didn’t know when it had gotten dark outside.“Can you hand me Morgan?” 

 

Peter nodded, he gently lifted Morgan off his chest, her sleepy face scrunching up as she was passed over to her father. Tony took her gently and then floated down, Peter could hear Pepper whisper soft words to her. 

 

Then Tony was back, and Peter could hear another set of jets setting off back in the direction of the house. 

 

“I’m sorry,” Peter said, stupid, traiturous tears filling his eyes, “I’m sorry, I just wanted her to be safe-” 

 

“I know, Pete, it’s okay,” Tony held out his arms. “Come on down, now.” 

 

Peter hesitated, “are- is May still..?” 

 

“They’re gone. You really gave May a lot to think about when you chose to jump out a window over talking to her.” 

 

“Oh.” Peter swallowed, “I can, uh, climb down.” 

 

Tony raised an eyebrow, his arms still outstretched. “It’s okay, Pete, I’m just going to fly you back to the house. You can trust me.” 

 

Peter nodded, and then Tony shot forward and grabbed him from under his arms. Peter found himself flying over the trees, just for a few minutes, before landing down on the grass in front of the house. 

 

Tony’s suit melted away, forming back into a watch on his wrist. He raised a hand like he was going to put it on Peter’s shoulder, but he stopped himself. He pulled it back and gave Peter a tight smile, “come on, kid, let’s get you warmed up.” 

 

Peter hated it. He hated that he was grateful Tony hadn’t touched him, because it would have just made him flinch. He hated that Skip had taken those casual touches away from him. 

 

He wanted them back. 

 

But he didn’t know how to get them back. 

 

He followed Tony inside. He heard Pepper and Morgan upstairs, having a bath. He sighed in relief when Morgan laughed. Tony sent him a look. 

 

“Morgan’s laughing,” he explained, tapping his ears. 

 

“She’ll be fine, kid. Morgan’s a tough cookie, and she trusts you. We all know you would never do anything to hurt her.” 

 

Peter bit his lip, “is Pepper mad-” 

 

“Nope, Pepper is glad you got her out when you saw a threat. I am too. Those are good instincts to have, especially when you’re protecting your little sister.” 

 

Peter’s throat felt tight, so he nodded but didn’t say anything else. He let Tony lead him to his chair. Let him drape a blanket over him, and turn on the fire. But Tony didn’t sit in his chair and turn on the TV, like he usually did. Tony sat on the coffee table, facing him. His face looked resigned. 

 

Peter knew what was coming. 

 

“Kid, we need to talk.” 

 

Peter curled the blanket around him. “How did you find out?” 

 

Tony sighed, he didn’t need to clarify what Peter meant. They both knew what they had to talk about. “You were wearing the mask.” 

 

Peter closed his eyes. “I thought it was broken.” His voice sounded raw, to his own ears. Wrecked. Broken, cracked, and frayed. Just like he felt. “Did you… did you see him-” 

 

“No. The image isn’t clear, but the audio is fine. I couldn’t see, but… it’s not hard to figure out what was happening.” 

 

Bile rose up in his throat, but Peter swallowed it down. He kept his eyes on his blanket. “So you know that I… I didn’t push him away.” 

 

“I know that a grown man assaulted my kid. I know you said no, and he didn’t listen.” Tony sounded mad, and Peter risked a glance up. Tony’s eyes were burning with rage. “I know that with some editing to take the references of Spider Man out, and we can send this to the police and have him put in jail for a long time for assaulting a minor.” 

 

“He said I was an adult, because technically-” 

 

“Alright well, technically , that’s bullshit . You’re 15, Pete. 15 . He’s 43 . And even if that were true, even if you were 20 years old, you said no . It doesn’t matter how old you are. No means no, got it? This is on him. And he’s going to pay for it, I’ll make sure of that.” 

 

Peter shifted in the seat. He knew all of this, knew that if it had happened to anyone else, he would agree with Tony with everything he just said, but right now he felt... Confused. 

 

“But… I’m stronger than him.” 

 

“That doesn’t matter. Peter, you were in shock. Someone you are supposed to trust hurt you in your own home. It’s okay that you didn’t fight back. It’s not your job to fight back, it’s his job not to fucking do it in the first place.” Tony leaned forward, caught Peter’s eye. “None of this is on you, got that?” 

 

“Okay, but,” Peter sniffed, “is that even enough evidence? I was only wearing the mask the first time.” 

 

“What?” Tony’s voice was cold, hard. His face blank. Peter suddenly realized Tony didn't know everything after all. “How many times did it happen?” 

 

“Um,” Peter looked down again. 

 

“I’m not mad at you,” Tony took a breath. “But I’m going to need you to tell me how many times.” 

 

“Three.”

 

“Three,” Tony leaned back, ran a hand down his face. “Three, Jesus Christ, okay.” He took a steadying breath. “Did he- Pete, did he…escalate?” 

 

“No… he tried, the last time, to… but I pushed him away. He didn’t really do anything.” Peter brought his knees up, curled the blanket around them too. 

 

“He assaulted you, Peter.” Tony’s voice was firm again. “It doesn’t matter if he… if he didn’t -  fuck - even if he didn’t penetrate you in anyway, it’s still assault . He still hurt you. You know that, right?” 

 

Peter nodded. Tony sighed. 

 

“Okay, you don’t know, we’re going to work on that later.” Tony ran a hand down his face again, “Jesus... are you, how are you doing now? Are you okay? What am I saying, of course you’re not okay.” 

 

“I’m okay, Tony.” 

 

“No, you’re not. Just another minute and we can stop, okay kid? We’ll put on a stupid movie and not think for the rest of the night. Just… This doesn’t change anything. The recording is… it should be enough.  But, um, to make sure he really goes down Peter, you might have to make a statement. To the police. But only if you want to.” 

 

Peter fiddled with the blanket, “you’ll come with me?” 

 

“Of course, bud. Every step of the way.” 

 

Peter thought about it, he bit his lip, “and he won’t be able to see May anymore?” 

 

“... I can’t control May, kid, she’s a grown woman. But if he’s in prison, he can’t get to her. He won’t be able to do what he did to you to anyone else.” 

 

Peter took a breath, but his voice still shook when he spoke. “Okay. I’ll do it.” 

 

“I’m proud of you, kiddo. You could back out at any time, and I’d still be proud of you, okay?” Tony stood up, he hesitated beside Peter’s chair. “Can I give you a hug?” 

 

Peter barely nodded before Tony’s arms were around him. He relaxed into it, feeling safe for the first time since May started shouting at their front door. 

 

-- 

 

Tony took Peter to the police station the next day. They all figured it was better to get it over with than to wait, draw it out.  Tony took the sound clip with him on a USB. 

 

Peter couldn’t eat anything before they left. 

 

“I’m so proud of you,” Pepper whispered in his ear at the door. “You’re so brave.” 

 

“Thanks Pepper,” the kid whispered back. Tony didn’t know when he’d switched to Tony and Pepper, honestly hadn’t noticed it happen, but he liked it. 

 

He put on music in the car. Made sure to keep his hands on the steering wheel where Peter could see him. Not that it mattered, since Peter looked out the window the entire time. 

 

When they got to the station, Peter looked like he was going to puke. 

 

“You don’t have to do this,” Tony said, aching to reach out and squeeze his shoulder, reassure him in anyway. “We can drive away right now, if you don’t want to do this.” 

 

But Peter, always too fucking brave for his own good, shook his head. “I’m doing it.” 

 

“Okay.” He was proud of the kid. Truth was, he was kind of hoping for the out himself. 

 

Tony didn’t want to be here anymore than Pete did. 

 

They had called ahead, so they didn’t have to wait long. Which was lucky, because the longer they sat in the green plastic chairs of the stations waiting room, the paler the kid got. 

 

“Mr Stark? Can you and Peter come with us?” A woman in uniform called them from hallway, read their name off a clipboard. Tony nodded and started to stand. 

 

He stopped when Peter grabbed his arm. 

 

“You okay?” 

 

Peter nodded, then he shook his head. 

 

“Pete, we don’t have to do this.” 

 

“I’m doing this.” 

 

“Okay,” Tony sank back down into the chair. “Okay, but we have to go in there to do it.” 

 

Peter swallowed. Tony worried he was going to puke. “Pete-” 

 

“You’re coming with me?” 

 

“Every step.” 

 

Peter took in a shaky breath, “and you’re not- you’re not going to think less of me, right? After, after you hear everything?” 

 

“Kid, look at me,” Tony waited until Peter’s eyes were on him, both of them full of fear. “I will never think any less of you. You’re my favorite superhero, champ. Nothing you ever do or say is going to change my mind on that.” 

 

Peter’s lip quivered, but then Peter closed his eyes and nodded. When he opened them again, the fear was still there, but he had it under control. 

 

His kid really was the bravest. 

 

“Okay. Let’s do this.” 

 

-- 

 

Making his statement to the police was hard. They were put into a room that looked like an interrogation room from TV. There was a giant mirror on one wall, and a shitty fluorescent light above them. Peter had a headache within the first half an hour of being there. 

 

The two people taking his statement were both women, probably because they knew what he was making a statement for. One of them had a tape recorded out and was asking the questions, the other was writing everything he said down. 

 

Tony sat beside him and didn’t say anything. Peter was glad he was there. 

 

The women were nice, and they didn’t say they didn’t believe him or anything, but they asked a lot of questions. They wanted a lot of details. 

 

By the time it was over, he was exhausted and his head was pounding. 

 

“Mr Stark,” the two officers turned to Tony for the first time in two hours. “We understand you have an audio recording of one of the incidents?” 

 

“Yes,” Tony said, putting the USB on the table. 

 

“What was this recorded with?” 

 

“I give both my kids tech, to make sure their safe. This was recorded with a watch that Peter was wearing. Neither he nor Skip knew it could record audio.” 

 

The women looked at Tony like he was insane, but he was Tony Stark, so he got away with it. They were allowed to go soon after. 

 

“You did great, kid,” Tony said, giving him a tight smile. “That was rough, but you did great.” 

 

“Thanks, Tony,” Peter said, climbing into the car. He was exhausted, and starving. 

 

Peter fell asleep on the car ride home. 

 

--

 

“Pete,” a soft voice broke through the blackness, “we’re home”

 

Peter blinked his eyes open, he startled back when two eyes peered back at him. 

 

“Yeah, sorry, Morgan’s worried about you, she doesn’t really know what’s going on, but she can tell you’re upset about something.” Tony said beside him. Morgan started to jump on the other side of the window. “I locked the door though, so she couldn’t come barreling in.” 

 

Peter rubbed his eyes and snorted. He was relieved to find his headache was gone. “It’s okay.” 

 

“Peter, I made you a cake!” Morgan yelled through the glass. 

 

“Does she know she doesn’t have to yell?” Peter said with a grimace. 

 

“She never knows not to yell,” Tony said opening his car door. “Morgan, come on, let Pete get out of the car.” 

 

Morgan moved back just enough for Peter to get out. She was back a second later, her arms around his waist. Peter noticed she had flour in her hair. “I made you a chocolate cake! Because you’re sad!” 

 

“Thanks, Morgie.” 

 

“Come eat it!” She grabbed his hand, started pulling him inside. He didn’t stop her. 

 

The slightly lopsided cake sat in the middle of a suspiciously shiny kitchen. Pepper was sitting on one of the bar stools, looking tired, but spreading out sandwich ingredients in front of her nonetheless. 

 

“Lunch first, Morgan, remember our deal?” 

 

“But I made Peter a cake!” Morgan was back to jumping, Peter wondered how much of the batter she had swiped while making the cake. 

 

“I would love a sandwich,” Peter said, sitting down beside Pepper to help, “don’t you love sandwiches, Morgie? You were just telling me yesterday how much you love sandwiches!” 

 

“I said I love peanut butter sandwiches,” Morgan pouted. “These are ham.” 

 

Tony snorted, ruffling her hair as he walked in the kitchen. “You just love sugar.” 

 

“Daddy!” Morgan was back to jumping again, Pepper and Peter both rolled their eyes. “I made Peter a cake!” 

 

“Yeah, I heard!” 

 

“Let’s eat it!” 

 

“Oh, you’re trying to be tricky,” Tony grabbed her around the middle and tickled her. “Think you can fool your old man?”

 

“Nooo!” 

 

Morgan was all giggles now though, and she didn’t protest when Pepper pushed two sandwiches down the counter toward them. 

 

Peter bit into his own, relieved to find the nerves had gone away, and he didn’t feel too nauseous to eat anymore. He smiled at Pepper gratefully when she pushed a second sandwich his way, and was already working on making him a third. 

 

“You don’t have to, you can make your own,” Peter said, his mouth full. 

 

Pepper rolled her eyes again, “I’m making sure my kids are fed first. You’re only getting three though, because I’m pretty sure Morgan is planning on feeding you half that cake.” 

 

Peter froze mid bite, his eyes locked on the woman beside him. He watched as she finished making his sandwich, and then also got up to pour him a glass of ice tea from the fridge. She gave him a confused smile when she noticed him watching her. “You okay?” 

 

“Yeah,” Peter coughed out, “yeah, I was just… surprised, sorry.” 

 

“Surprised?” 

 

Peter placed his sandwich down. He glanced at Tony and Morgan, who were having a serious discussion about different types of cakes. Those two he thought of as family, those two had claimed him as family. 

 

He hadn’t… he hadn’t thought Pepper was claiming him too. 

 

“I… I thought maybe you were just putting up with me?” He looked down at his sandwich, his face burning, “because of Tony and… everything that happened with May. I don’t know, I thought maybe you pitied me. It’s stupid-” 

 

“Hey,” a finger brushed under his chin, and when Peter looked up, Pepper cupped his face. “Don’t go calling my kid stupid, he’s the smartest boy I know.” 

 

Peter grinned at her, even as his eyes got misty, “even smarter than Tony?” 

 

“Oh, way smarter than Tony,” Pepper smiled, she leaned forward and pressed a kiss to his cheek, before rubbing her thumb over the mark and leaning back. “Tony’s not the only one fighting for custody, you know. You’re part of this family. You’re my kid too, got it?” 

 

Peter swallowed the lump in his throat, he looked between Pepper, Morgan and Tony, and then felt a smile stretch across his face. His family. 

 

“Yeah, I got it.” 

 

--

 

The call came the next day, when Peter and Morgan were outside talking to Gerald. Tony and Pepper came out, their faces serious, and Peter felt his heart sink. 

 

He knew it. He knew if it was his word against Skip’s, it would mean -  

 

“They got him,” Tony said, before Peter’s thoughts could spiral and further. “He’s in custody.” 

 

Peter stood there, shocked, “what?” 

 

Pepper laughed, even as she had tears in her eyes.  She moved forward to lift Morgan off his shoulders, “he’s in jail, Peter. You don’t have to worry about Skip anymore.” 

 

Peter just kept standing there. 

 

“Can we hug you, bud?” Tony asked. Peter nodded. He felt the arms circle around him from all sides, Morgan’s arms even circled around his legs. He didn’t feel trapped though, he felt loved. 

 

He felt safe. 

 

--

 

Two days after Skip was arrested, Tony went to May’s apartment. He knocked, but there was no answer. He lets himself in with Peter’s key. 

 

May was asleep in her room, though there was half a glass of wine on the nightstand, so maybe she was passed out in her room. There were wine bottles all around the apartment. 

 

Tony sighed, picked them all up off the floor to place them on the coffee table. At least nothing would spill out and stain the carpet. He knew he wasn’t one who could judge. He had his own addictions, his own battles with alcohol, but… he never drank in front of kids. He hasn’t had a drink since the day Morgan was born. 

 

He didn’t know how a parent could do it to their own child. 

 

Tony moved to the other bedroom, and then shook his head as soon as he entered it.  This was not a bedroom. This was barely a spare room. It was small, with barely anything in it. He was able to pack everything Peter had in here into one box that was already half full. 

 

He took it down to the car, shaking his head the whole way. 

 

When he got back, May was awake. She watched him over her coffee, standing hungover in the kitchen. 

 

Tony waited for her to break the silence. 

 

“I blamed you, you know. For him being gone all those years.” 

 

“I know.” 

 

“But you’re the one who saved him, after he came back,” Tears slipped down her face, she didn’t seem to notice. “He tried to tell me and I didn’t listen. I was still so wrapped up in the fact that he wasn’t here for 5 years, I didn’t… I didn’t realize I wasn’t here for him when he was back.” 

 

Tony sighed, he pulled out a pamphlet and pushed it across the counter to her. She looked down at it, her face crinkled in resignation. 

 

“Rehab.” 

 

“Yep.” 

 

“I can’t afford-” 

 

“I’ll pay.” 

 

May set her mug down, her hands shaking. “I’m never getting full custody back, am I?” 

 

Tony looked at her, he looked around the apartment. He didn’t see any of Peter here, not even a single picture on the walls. The empty bottles stacked on the coffee table. The couch and the wall that haunted Peter’s memories took up half the room. “Do you really think living here, living like this, would be best for him?” 

 

“Tony,” May’s voice sounded choked, like her emotions were strangling her, “I’m his family.” 

 

“So am I.” 

 

May covered her mouth with her hand, her eyes closed. Tony gave her a moment before he spoke again. “I’m not saying you can’t see him, May. You’re always going to be his aunt, he’s always going to want you there, but… you hurt him. A lot. And not in a way I’m willing to forgive. I’m not going to let you do it again, even if he gives you a second chance. I’m sorry. You can fight for full custody, but I’m fighting you for it too.” 

 

“They would never choose me over you,” May said. Tony shrugged, that wasn’t his problem. “What about school? What about- what about his friends?” 

 

“His friends aren’t at his school anymore, May, Ned’s not even in high school anymore. And honestly, it’s not really our priority. He’s starting therapy next week, that’s step number 5 in the getting Peter back on track plan. Step 6 is getting his friends in his life again. Step 7 is school. Step 8 is setting up visits with you, if you go to rehab.” 

 

May took in a shaky breath, she didn’t mention the rehab. “What were steps 1 through 4?” 

 

Tony counted them off on his fingers, “get him feeling safe, get him sleeping, get him to gain some weight, get rid of the piece of shit who did this to him so Peter never has to see him again.” 

 

May nodded, though she looked sad, “you’re actually good at this.” 

 

“You don’t have to sound so surprised,” Tony said. 

 

“Sorry.” 

 

Tony waved a hand, “I’m kidding. Pepper made the plan.” 

 

To both of their surprise, May laughed. But then the smile faded just as quickly as it came. “You and Pepper… and you have a daughter now?” Tony nodded. “A family. Peter’s always wanted a family. A little sister.” 

 

“He’s good with her.” May nodded, she looked away and Tony pretended not to see the tears she wiped off. “You can be a part of it too, you know. You can come to the Christmases, birthdays… it’s up to you.” He knocked on the pamphlet. “A driver will be downstairs at 9 am Monday morning, should give you enough time to get everything in order. He’ll wait for you for half an hour, I hope you’re in that car when it drives away.” 

 

May nodded, and Tony left. There wasn’t anything else to say. 

 

-- 

 

3 Months Later 

 

Peter floated, smiling up at the blue sky and sighing in contentment now that it was finally summer. 

 

Peter had dropped out of Midtown for the rest of the year, and finished his Sophomore courses online. It hadn’t been decided yet, but next year he would probably go back. Morgan was supposed to be starting preschool, and Tony and Pepper were talking about renovating the tower. 

 

Tony had started hinting at Peter being Spider Man again too. He wanted to be, he really wanted to be, and Tony had shown him a few options other than the mask he could use. Because the one time Peter had tried to put the mask back on, he’d thrown up and had a panic attack, so… best to find other options. 

 

Tony was on it though. He said he would have at least three for him to look at by next week. 

 

They were all excited to head back to the city, but for now, they had the summer months of what would now be considered their vacation home. 

 

A wave rose up and splashed over his face, Peter sat up, coughing. Morgan laughed. 

 

“Sorry Peter!” Ned yelled from the dock, “she wanted to be thrown in, I tried to aim farther away.” 

 

“You can’t aim for shit, Ned,” Peter said. 

 

“Shit’s Mommy’s word,” Morgan said, bobbing beside him. 

 

“Whoops, sorry Morgie,” he picked her up, threw her farther into the lake. She was all giggles again, swear word forgotten. Peter loved 5 year olds. 

 

“You two getting out soon?” Tony called from the house, “I need help moving the barbecue.” 

 

Peter laughed, “coming! Keep an eye on her, okay?” He asked as he walked past, grabbing a towel to dry himself off as he ran up the path. 

 

“She’s wearing a life jacket.” Ned said. 

 

“I’m watching her,” MJ said, though she was looking down at a book as she said it. Peter trusted her more than Ned though. MJ actually knew how to swim. 

 

Tony was standing by the shed in the backyard, his arms crossed as he stared at the barbecue that was halfway out the shed door. 

 

“What, you couldn’t lift this with your fancy new arm?” Peter asked. He picked it up easily, lifting it above his head so he could look at Tony. “Where do you want it?” 

 

Tony huffed at him, “by the fire pit, there’s more chairs there. And when you’re done, get Morgan out of the water. And put a shirt on! The guests are arriving any minute.” 

 

“The guests are Rhodey, Happy and May. They’ve all seen Morgan and I swimming before.” 

 

“Kid, it’s July 4th, you know how patriotic Rhodey is. And Happy will want to swim if he sees you two swimming, no one wants that. The man almost drowns in a bathtub.” 

 

“True,” Peter laughed. He grabbed the propane tank sitting beside the door and headed towards the fire pit. 

 

“Alright, now you’re just showing off.”

 

Peter turned around, grinning at him as he walked backward, “this is hardly the weight of a bus, Tony, and I’ve lifted like three of those.”

 

“Yeah, yeah, go get your sister.” 

 

Peter laughed. He set the barbecue down and headed back to the dock. “Time to get out, squirt!” 

 

“Noo!” 

 

“Happy’s going to be here soon!” 

 

“Oh, okay!” Morgan started to swim for the ladder and Peter shook his head. Morgan loved Happy. None of them could figure out why, but Peter thought it probably had something to do with all the fast food he fed her when he was babysitting. 

 

That and the fact that Happy treated her like royalty. 

 

“Does Pepper need any help in the kitchen?” Ned asked. Peter smiled at his friend, he may be five years older, but he was still the same old Ned. It had taken him a while to figure that out, but he got it now. He hadn’t lost his friends in the snap. Things had just changed a bit. 

 

“No, she doesn’t like anyone in her kitchen. Rhodey is usually allowed to help though, so she should be good, once he gets here.”  

 

--

 

Peter and Morgan are dressed and ready to go by the time the cars start to drive in. Rhodey arrived first, much to Pepper’s delight, and gave them all hugs before disappearing into the kitchen. 

 

Happy and May arrive together. Which should have been normal, but they were laughing together in the car as they drove up, and didn’t get out immediately. Tony watched as Peter stared at the car, his face scrunching up in confusion. 

 

“Hey, I’d rather May with Happy than her ex,” Tony said, crossing his arms and tilting his head at the pair. “Although they can’t do anything yet. Addicts should be single for at least a year before they jump into a new relationship.” 

 

“Didn’t you and Pepper get married, like, within the year you stopped drinking?” 

 

No, Tony hadn’t stopped drinking until a year later when Morgan was born. The kid didn’t need to know that. 

 

New relationship.” 

 

“You guys had broken up-” 

 

“It’s different,” he swatted the kids arm, “go greet your aunt, you brat.” 

 

Peter laughed at him, but he went to meet May as she stepped out of the car anyway. He was glad the two of them were able to fall into each other's arms like they used to. He was glad Peter hadn’t lost his aunt along with everything else he’d lost. 

 

Although, it hadn’t been easy to get to this point. 

 

May had gotten into the car Tony had sent, and she’d spend a month in rehab before Tony and Pepper had allowed visitation rights. They’d won full custody pretty easily after everything with Skip, and May being in rehab. May still had the chance to fight it, but Tony had a feeling she wasn’t going to. 

 

Especially considering the fact that Peter had walked out the first time May had tried to talk to him. 

 

Pepper had been the one to convince him to give May another chance. 

 

The second time they met up, Tony had made sure it was at a place Peter was comfortable, and only a planned one hour visit. Peter had sat, and said what he needed to say to his aunt. And May had taken it all without a word of protest. 

 

The third visit had them both crying and hugging each other not even ten minutes in. 

 

The fourth and fifth had gone even more smoothly, and now here they were, the two last Parker’s hugging it out, as they should be. 

 

“Haapppyyy!!” Morgan shouted, running out the front door and into Happy’s outstretched arms. 

 

“How’s my Princess doing?” Happy asked, hoisting her onto his hip. 

 

Morgan beamed at him, “great! I made cupcakes!” 

 

Yep, his daughter was going to grow up to be a baker. 

 

“No way!” 

 

“Yeah! I even let Peter help!” 

 

“Well, I’m sure he felt honoured to be helping you.” 

 

“It was a great privilege,” Peter said, bowing to Morgan. Morgan giggled. 

 

Yep, his daughter was going to grow up to be extremely spoiled. 

 

“Does Pepper need any help in the kitchen?” May asked as they made their way to the backyard. 

 

“No!” They all said, possibly too quickly. 

 

May just rolled her eyes though, and shoved Peter’s shoulder, “you love my pasta.” 

 

“You literally burnt spaghetti, May, and not even one time. Multiple times you literally burnt spaghetti.” 

 

May called him a liar, but Tony didn’t doubt it. He watched his kid laugh with his aunt and his sister. He watched his family all gather around the firepit as Tony lit up the barbecue. 

 

He watched in particular as Peter spent the rest of the night accepting hugs and touches from Happy, Rhodey, Ned, MJ and May, without even flinching once. 

 

He was a proud Dad. 

 

And he was sure his kid was going to be okay. 

 

--

 

That night was one of the happiest of Peter’s life. Ned and MJ were his friends again, and the three of them were camping out in his room together for the rest of the weekend. 

 

Happy and Rhodey were added bonuses he hadn’t even thought of when he’d joined his new family. Rhodey kept insisting Peter call him Uncle Rhodey now, like Morgan did, but Peter couldn’t do it. It would be weird, to start doing it now. 

 

But most of all, he had his Aunt May back. The Aunt May he remembered. The Aunt May who stroked his hair just cause she felt like it. Or threw her head back and laughed at her own jokes. His Aunt May.

 

She wasn’t sleeping over that night, and got a ride back into the city with Happy after the fireworks, but Peter didn’t feel sad hugging her goodbye. He had his life with the Stark’s now, and he was just happy that she could be in it still. 

 

He was looking forward to living in the city again though, so they could see each other more often. 

 

Rhodey left next, messing up both Morgan’s and Peter’s hair on the way out. Morgan thought it was funny. Peter thought it was rude. 

 

Pepper took Morgan up to bed next, who had already fallen asleep in her lap sitting at the fire. Ned and MJ went up soon after, both of them tired from making the trip up early that morning. 

 

Then it was just him and Tony. 

 

Peter looked over at Tony, sitting beside him and watching the fire with a smile on his face, and he couldn’t help but smile back. 

 

“Hey, Tony?” 

 

“Yeah, kid?” 

 

“Thank you.” 

 

Tony dragged his eyes away from the fire, confused, “for what?” 

 

“You know,” Peter shrugged, “everything.” 

 

“Jesus, kid,” Tony reached an arm over Peter’s shoulder to pull him into his side. A move that made Peter feel warm and soft inside. “You don’t have to thank me for anything, you get all of my love and support for free, you got it?” 

 

“Yeah,” Peter laughed, leaning his head against his new father’s shoulder. “I got it.” 

 

--