May never saw it coming.
It happened when she was in the living room, phone pressed to her ear with shaking hands, getting Peter's voicemail for the hundredth time while watching the news on TV. Heart in her throat, she worried that he had somehow gotten mixed up with all of the aliens or monsters or whatever else was going on downtown even though he was supposed to be on a nice, safe field trip to the MoMA.
Then all at once, everything changed.
One moment she was watching the latest alien invasion play out on TV and then in the next, she blinked and suddenly she was in a different room.
A woman screamed and something broke as it crashed ot the floor, May spun around to find an older, short and squat woman behind her. The two women stared at each other in shock for a heartbeat but then the older woman started in on May, berating her in Spanish.
It took a moment or five of May being verbally abused in another language to realize that something very, very weird had just happened.
The woman was still shouting at her as she realized that the living room she had been standing in two seconds earlier was still her living room, but at the same time, not her living room.
The structure of the room was the same. The windows and doors were where they were supposed to be, but the furniture was different. The pictures on the walls had been changed and the paint behind them was now an off-putting shade of yellow and not the powder blue that she had struggled for so long to choose when she and Peter first moved to this new apartment a few months after Ben died.
What the ever-living fuck? She thought.
“Que Carajo?” The woman shouted and May finally tore her eyes away from her surroundings and looked down at the diminutive woman’s shocked and wary face.
May held up her hands, feeling suddenly like an intruder even though she was 50% sure she hadn’t slept-walked her way into a stranger’s home. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry. I don’t speak Spanish! I don’t know what’s happening!”
“Are you a ghost?” The woman asked, switching to perfect English.
“What?” May returned, flummoxed by the weird question.
“You appeared out of no where. Like … poof! And then you were here in my apartment.”
“Your apartment? But this is ... I don’t –” May never got to finish her thought as sounds of crying erupted from the hall outside the apartment’s front door. May and the other woman raced for the door and opened it to find May’s long-time neighbor, Katie on her knees holding her little boy tight to her chest and weeping loudly. May knew Katie and Danny well. Her son had been born prematurely three years ago, but was now a vibrant and thriving boy. She and Peter had even babysat him a few times when Katie and her husband had a date night.
“Oh my boy, my boy!” She repeated as she held the toddler close and kissed his face over and over again. She rocked him back and forth as May approached and touched Katie’s shoulder.
“What happened? Is Danny okay?” May asked.
Katie’s head snapped up and she took in May with shocked, wide eyes, “Oh my God! May! You’re back too! I can’t believe this.” Katie was nearly hysterical, but joyous at the same time. She turned back to Danny and held him at arm’s length, as if she was just drinking in the sight of him, “Look at him! He’s just the same!” She pulled the boy back into her arms and cried again,
“He’s back, he’s back.”
“Dios mio.” The woman beside her breathed with wonder, taking hold of May’s arm as if she needed it to keep her upright, “You’re one of the dusted, aren’t you? And you’re back … you’re all back.”
“Dusted?” May shook her head, feeling like she was more lost than ever, “I don’t know what you’re talking about. What is happening?”
“You and half the people in the world …” she explained, “you all disappeared five years ago.”
May’s first thought was of Peter.
She was still having a hard time believing that she had been dead for the last five years, but what about her nephew? Had he been taken by this ‘dusting’ too or had he been left alone to fend for himself these last five years? He mind was a whirl of worry, edging on panic.
The woman she had popped back into existence in front of had gathered her wits enough to lead May back into the apartment and had turned on the TV to watch the news and find out what was happening.
She allowed May to borrow her cell phone and she wasted no time trying Peter’s number.
Network busy, a robotic woman’s voice told her.
She tried again, but still couldn’t get through.
The woman, Jacinda, May had learned, was transfixed on the TV news and May too was pulled in by the images coming from the screen. The picture was a distant shot of what used to be the Avenger's compund. She could see smoke billowing from the ruins, a giant alien ship hovering above it and hoards of fighters on both sides battling it out. May couldn't make any individuals out since the picture was too far away, but she knew that all of the Avengers had to be there, including Peter.
“We are still getting reports from all over the world of sudden appearances of millions, perhaps even billions of people all over the world.” The anchorwoman announced, “And now we are hearing from the US Air Force that explosions have been detected at the Avenger’s Compound in upstate New York where fighting between an unknown enemy and the Avengers is ongoing ...”
May handed Jacinda her phone back, giving up hope that she'd be able to get in touch with Peter by phone any time soon. At least she was pretty certain of where he was now, knowing how he would have found a way to insert himself into the fighting even if it was the last place on Earth she wanted him to be.
He was really good at scaring her to death like that.
Whether he was five years older, hurt, or worse, she’d find out soon because she wasn't going to just sit there watching TV. She was going there to find him and nothing was going to stop her.
May would never, ever tell Peter this, but in her teens she had been a bit of a juvenile delinquent. When she was sixteen, a boy she had gone out with a few times had decided once that a great date night was showing her how to hot-wire a car and taking it around town for a joy-ride. Thankfully, they hadn’t been caught, but the incident had scared her enough that she broke up with the boy soon after and vowed to never fall for the ‘bad boy’ ever again.
Thankfully, she had wised up in her choices in men, but now, as she touched two wires together and heard the engine of the car she was attempting to steal come to life, she was thankful she had briefly paid attention to that douche-bag all those years ago.
She felt a little guilty to be taking a car like this, but her own car was long gone now and she had little choice. Peter needed her to get to him. This she knew without a doubt and little things like grand theft auto weren’t going to hold her back.
Looking at the gas gauge, she was relieved to see that the car was had about ¾ of a tank, which was hopefully enough to at least get her close to the compound. Slamming the gear shifter into drive, she tore off at top speed, the balding tires of the little Ford Fiesta squealing underneath her.
May was familiar with the route, having taken Peter there and back several times to meet with Stark and upgrade his suit over the past year … no, scratch that … that had been five years ago now.
God ... this was all so fucked up. She tried not to think about as she focused on driving.
The roads were chaotic as everyone it seemed was desperate to find their lost loved ones. Driving more aggressively than she ever had before, May dodged slower cars, tail-gated, honked, and sped her way out of New York City. She didn’t relax her speed even as the expressways and interstates gave way to two-lane highways and country roads.
As darkness fell, May’s heart picked up speed the closer she got to the compound. Even several miles away, she could see a glow on the horizon and plumes of dark smoke rising into the air. Two miles from the compound, she felt like screaming in frustration as she was forced to come to a stop behind a long line of cars and news vans.
A barrier had been hastily constructed across the road and was manned by heavily armed soldiers. Clearly their intent was to keep the general population and news crews away from the smoldering compound and getting too close to the scene. However, this meant that she too, was blocked from going any further.
She slammed her hand against the steering wheel in frustration and fear as she thought of Peter in or even near the fiery ruins of the compound.
God, she was so close to Peter that she could almost feel him and she couldn’t just sit there while he was over there scared or hurt.
For a moment, she was tempted to just stomp on the gas and make a break for it, but chances were pretty good that those heavily armed soldiers would stop her with impunity and she’d never find Peter if she was arrested or worse, dead. So, she did what so many others were doing, she stopped the car along the side of the road and got out.
There was a line of reporters and photographers gathered along the side of the road, their cameras trained on the glowing embers of the compound in the distance while the reporters held microphones and talked. Another group of people were standing in a crowd behind a military humvee. A young soldier was standing on the top of the vehicle addressing the crowd with a bullhorn so he could be heard above the noise of the din. He read from a piece of paper in his hand in a clipped tone as May crossed the road and joined in the fray.
“No one without proper authorization will be allowed past this point. Anyone who needs information on family stationed at the compound will need to proceed to the civilian staging point located at the Marriot hotel in Syracuse.”
There were shouts of displeasure and cries of those in the same boat as May. She felt her heart sink. People who just wanted to find their family members were being turned away and no one there was going quietly.
“ Please … everyone!” The soldier shouted, “This is for your own safety so that first responders can do their work without interference. You will be informed of when you will be permitted to see your family members. You will all need to disperse –”
The words only seemed to rile the crown up further and May feared things might get violent, she felt herself get pushed from behind as a man raised a fist up and yelled, “My wife works there and if you think I’m leaving, you can kiss my ass!” several voices joined him and May was jostled from all sides as the people grew more and more disgruntled.
This was getting her nowhere fast and chances were looking pretty good that many people in this crowd were going to be under arrest soon if they didn’t calm down.
May tired to push her way out of the mass of people. Maybe if she could get back to the car she could find another way in.
She made to turn around and leave the crowd, but she was pushed again and this time, lost her footing. She stumbled and landed on her hands and knees just as she heard the shouting escalate with anger and then panic in the people’s voices.
She looked up to see that several soldiers had pressed forward towards the crowd in an attempt to reign them in. The angry man who had pushed her earlier was not having it and he was the first to rush foolishly at the soldiers. He threw a punch at the nearest guard and then chaos took over.
May tried to crawl out of the way, but feet were everywhere, boxing her in. She cried out as foot connected with her chin and another stomped on her left hand, pinning her to the blacktop. She felt bones crunch as her fingers were ground into the earth. She screamed as she tried to pull her hand away, but the roar of the crowd was too loud for her to be heard above. Finally, with a mighty yank and a scream of pain, she managed to pull her broken hand out from under the heel keeping her down and she barrel rolled, attempting to get away from the legs and feet pummeling her.
She was almost free when a woman yelped in panic, tripping over May and landing hard beside her. Without a thought, May grabbed the woman’s arm with her right hand and pulled them both up from the press of the scrum. She and the woman managed to wrench themselves away from the fight, but were both stopped by the barrel of a M-4 pointed at them by a young and clearly scared soldier.
“Stop!” the kid yelled. He didn’t look any older than Peter and his gun was unsteady as it wavered between May and the other woman. May raised her hands, adrenaline pumping so hard in her veins that she couldn’t even feel the visibly broken bones in her fingers.
The woman beside her was crying and sobbing loudly. The soldier shouted at her to be quiet and ordered them to get down on the ground. May did as she was told, going to her knees before lying down on her stomach. The woman beside her continued to cry as May felt her hands being grabbed and her arms pulled up behind her. She cried out, feeling all of the pain in her broken hand rush through her all at once as her wrists were zip-tied together. She tried to regulate her breathing to control the pain, but tears leaked out of her eyes without her permission.
After she was roughly hauled to her feet, she was led over to a group of people all with their hands zip tied just like her. May could see now that the fight was over, the civilians having been subdued rather easily by the soldiers and few of the people around her were sporting bloody noses, cuts and bruises, but it didn’t look like anyone had been seriously hurt.
There was still shouting, but most of it was coming from the soldiers as they rounded them all up and formed a kind of human fence around them. May closed her eyes and felt her heart sink.
She would never make it to the compound now.
The pain in May’s hand had nothing against the pain in her soul. Peter was probably already wondering where she was and why she hadn’t come for him. Did he think that she had abandoned him? He wouldn’t even know if she had survived the dusting or not. The pain of not being able to find him, to hold him, to tell him that everything would be okay, even when everything was falling down around their ears was worse than any physical injury could cause.
May let the tears fall, her head bowing, throat burning. She had failed Peter.
A large, green, Army transport truck with a cloth roof rumbled up to the crowd and came to a stop, its brakes squeaking loudly as it halted. It reminded May of a covered wagon taking pioneers across the Oregon trail, but this one she knew was there to take them away from anywhere near the compound and consequently for her, from Peter.
The soldiers began to shout and ordered them all to board the vehicle from the rear. May was herded forward and watched as person after person was loaded inside. May had just reached the back of the truck and was ready to accept her fate and the fact that she was about to leave Peter behind when a single voice bellowed above the din.
“May Parker!” A deep, man’s voice called out with all the confidence that only a high rank and authority could produce. “Is there a May Parker here?!”
May swiveled her head and looked across the sea of people which seemed to part for a man in a black, heavy leather jacket and an eye patch. May gaped as the man approached her with a purpose. She didn’t have a clue who he was, but she knew as soon as he made one-eyed contact with her, that he knew who she was.
“May Parker?” He asked as he stopped in front of her. Something about the guy made her nervous and she swallowed thickly.
“Yes. That’s me.”
“You’re coming with me.” He said firmly, allowing no arguments.
Oh shit. Now what had she done? Why was she being singled out? How did this guy even know her? She hesitated to followed, worried that she was being led even further away from Peter.
The man reached out and put a hand on her shoulder, “Please.” He said, seeming to sense her misgivings.
She started forward, hoping that she wasn’t making a huge mistake, but she really didn’t think she had a choice. It was either follow this guy or get in the truck to who knows where. She had only taken a single step when the man stopped her and pointed at the nearest soldier. He pointed at her tied hands behind her back, “Get her out of these. Now!”
The soldier jumped to obey, gulping visibly. Clearly the man was someone who was not one to be denied anything he ordered. The soldier quickly took out a pocket knife and snipped her bonds. She winced as the pain in her hand and fingers flared.
“You okay?” The man with the eye patch asked.
“Yeah.” She replied, but he took one look at her hand and snapped his fingers at the soldier again, “You! Get a med kit and bring it to my car.”
“Yessir!” The soldier took off and May found herself being led through the crowd over to a large, black SUV that screamed ‘Secret Government Agency’ all over it. The back passenger door was opened for her and the man with the eye patch motioned for her to get inside.
May really hoped this was not the stupidest thing she had ever done as she climbed inside.
Upon entering, she was nearly bowled over with surprise to see that there were two other passengers already inside and one of them she was over-joyed to find.
“Happy!” She exclaimed, meeting the eyes of the man who kept tabs on Peter’s excursions as Spider-Man and who often drove her nephew to the compound when she was unable to get away from work to do it herself. She had to admit that she really liked Happy. He tried to pretend that Peter didn’t have him wrapped around his finger, but May knew better. She saw how proud he was of Peter and she could tell that Peter liked him just as much. In her book, that made him a friend.
“May! Oh thank God Fury found you! I was starting to worry.” Happy said with relief clear in his voice, “I told him that if you weren’t at home, then you’d be here trying to get to Peter.”
May sat down in the seat next to the door. In between her and Happy in the middle seat was a little girl, maybe four or five years old with dark hair and wearing footed pajamas decorated with My Little Ponies. She wanted to ask who she was and why there was a child in the car with them, but Happy kept talking.
“That’s Nick Fury, by the way. He’s the director of SHIELD and he’s gonna get us all to the compound, or rather, the staging area by the compound. I guess that’s where they’ve got everyone for the time being.”
“Is that where Mommy and Daddy are?” the little girl asked Happy.
Happy’s expression grew soft and sad, “Yeah, Morg. That’s where your mommy will be.” May could tell that there was more here going on that he wasn’t saying to the little girl, but she didn’t ask.
“What’s your name, sweetie?” May asked her.
“Morgan.” Came the quiet reply, she eyed May a little warily and May could understand. She had to look a little frightening. She could feel dried blood on her chin where she had been kicked in the face and her clothes were dirty and torn in places from the scuffle. Not only that, but Morgan was staring at her swollen hand and fingers which had to be a scary sight for someone so young. She buried her face in Happy’s side.
“She’s Tony and Pepper’s daughter.” Happy explained, rubbing the little girl’s shoulder.
“Tony has a kid?” Man, her day just kept getting weirder and weirder, she thought. The last time she had seen Tony, he was still planning his wedding to Pepper. To May, that had just been last night. But now, seeing Tony’s little girl only brought home the fact that five whole freaking years had past and so much was going to be different now.
“Yeah.” Happy sighed and his eyes welled.
Shit. Something bad had happened. She could read it in Happy’s face. Dread pooled in her stomach and she could only keep praying that Peter was okay.
Seconds later the soldier who had been ordered to get a med kit ran up to May’s door and passed the kit inside to Happy before shutting the door. Nick Fury climbed into the front passenger seat next and then a dark-haired woman got behind the wheel and started the engine before getting them moving.
Happy opened the med kit and got the work, asking to take a look at May’s hand. She held it up for him and he gently took it. His hand was cool as he held it and examined the injury. She really hadn’t had much physical contact with men since Ben and she had to admit with a pang of guilt to his memory that it felt kinda nice to have her hand held, even if it was to just get it fixed up.
Happy smiled at her warmly as he wrapped her hand carefully in an ace bandage and then grabbed an instant cold pack for her to apply to it. The cold helped soothe her discomfort and she thanked Happy for his help. He really was a much nicer man than he tried to let on.
It wasn’t a very long drive to the staging area by the compound, but with the road leading to it destroyed, the SUV had to off-road it most of the way. It was full dark when they arrived, but massive flood lights and the glow coming from inside the many different tents hastily erected across the field made it clear as day.
After they all exited the vehicle, Nick Fury and the dark-haired woman took off in one direction without so much as a backwards glance at May, Happy and Morgan. The scene around them was chaotic with soldiers, medical personnel, and people hurrying from one place to another.
She saw African warriors and a group of folks that looked like Vikings talking together animatedly outside of one tent and across the way she thought she even caught sight of a raccoon and a walking tree at one point, but after the day she had had, she figured anything is possible.
But what she did not see was Peter or Stark or anyone she recognized besides Happy.
She turned to him and he looked just as lost.
“Let’s see if we can find the medical tent. At least we can get your hand looked at and maybe someone will know where we can find everyone.” Happy suggested and May nodded. They walked across the field and then caught sight of a huge tent with a red cross flag hanging by its entrance and they both assumed it was where the medical facilities were.
Entering the tent, they found more controlled chaos within. Cots were lined up and down the length of the tent in four long rows. It reminded May of a scene from MASH with doctors and nurses bustling about tending to patients. Most of the beds were occupied with people with various degrees of injuries. Some patients slept or were unconscious while some waited for their cuts and broken bones to be seen to. May scanned the rows of people, seeking the unmistakable red and blue of Peter’s suit, but he wasn’t there.
She wasn’t sure if that was a good thing or not and she felt her throat begin to tighten.
And then she heard a little voice beside her burst with excitement.
“Mommy!” Morgan cried out, seeing her mother from across the room coming out from behind a curtained off area. She broke free from Happy’s hand and raced across the tent before either of them could stop her.
May saw Pepper turn at the sound of her child’s voice and she took in the sight of the other woman’s red, puffy eyes and grief-filled features. Pepper went to her knees and caught her daughter as she ran into her arms. Pepper immediately burst into sobs and buried her face in her daughter’s hair as she held her tight and rocked her back and forth.
All at once, May knew what must have happened.
“Oh no …” She breathed.
Tony Stark was dead.
She knew what losing a husband felt like and how it looked. She knew what it felt like to have a part of your soul ripped away and she knew what trying to comfort a grieving child was like while you yourself were unravelling.
Happy rushed over to Pepper’s side and May was left standing by herself, an outsider looking in on their family tragedy.
Tears gathered in May’s eyes. Despite his many all too human flaws, she had liked him and she felt his loss keenly, but as sad as she felt for Pepper and Morgan and Happy, she couldn’t help but selfishly want to find Peter more than ever. Peter had loved Tony Stark and she could only imagine what he was feeling right then. While he hadn’t been the most attentive mentor to her nephew at first, after May discovered that Peter was moonlighting as Spider-Man and she had given the billionaire a piece of her mind, Tony had agreed that Peter needed additional training if he was going to continue on as a teenage superhero.
At first, Peter was to come to the compound once a week on Sundays where he would spend the day training, but after a while she learned that Tony had taken to showing Peter how to program and upgrade his suits and then somehow that evolved into spending most of his Sundays with Tony not just learning new technology, but just hanging out with the man, watching cheesy sci-fi movies or playing video games. It seemed that Peter had wormed his way into the great, aloof Tony Stark’s heart and she hadn’t really been all that surprised. Anyone who knew Peter, loved him. He was just that good of a kid.
It seemed like Peter finally had a male role-model he could look up to and it was so nice to see him happy again since Ben died.
And now Peter had lost another father figure and her heart wept for him.
May turned, more determined than ever to find her boy.
She hurried from the tent and looked in all directions. She tried to think of where Peter might go. Whenever he was upset back at home, May knew that she could almost always find him on the roof of their building. He liked heights, he had told her once. He liked being up high where he could be alone but still keep a watchful eye on the world below.
There were no roofs or buildings other than the tents in the field, but off to her right, she caught sight of a small copse of trees tall enough and sturdy enough to attract Peter’s attention.
She hurried to them at a jog.
The small woods were far enough away from the lights of the tents that it was hard to see in the dark and as she entered, she found herself often tripping on unseen roots and fallen branches. She really didn’t care though, her mind was fixed only on finding Peter, on making sure he was at least physically okay. After that, she would help him with the fall-out of yet another death and yet another upheaval in his short life.
As she searched, her mind wondered at the fact that she was even there at all. If anyone had told her 30 year old self that she'd be frantically searching the woods for a boy she loved as a son, who had superpowers, and lacked any sort of self-preservation instincts, she would have laughed in their face. She and Ben had been happy without children. She hadn't felt the need to have kids in order to validate her as a whole woman and when it came to Peter, she had been happy with just being an aunt that occasionally saw the boy when Richard and Mary visited at Christmas or Thanksgiving.
But then Richard and Mary had died and she and Ben really had no choice but to take that sad, grieving five year-old into their lives. She would admit that at first, she hadn't really felt like a mom. Sure, she fed and clothed and gave Peter had all that he needed, but it was really Ben that had taken on the parent role those first few weeks. He was the one that went to Peter when he woke up at night with a bad dream and he was the one that Peter sought when he cried that he missed his mom and dad. When Ben wasn't around and it was just her and Peter, May had only felt like a glorified babysitter and she wasn't sure if she was ever going to bond with him the way Ben had.
But then one night, Ben had to work late and she had been left alone with Peter when he developed a pretty bad case of the stomach flu.
When he first started vomiting, May felt completely out of her element. She was a sympathetic puker herself, but somehow she had managed to get through several bouts of upheavals without losing her own dinner. And when the worst had finally passed and the poor boy had curled into her lap, seeking her out for comfort, she felt something inside of her shift. Without a thought, her hand found its way into his soft curls and as Peter fell asleep in her lap, May felt a warmth she hadn't experienced before. She didn't even care anymore that he had puked on her and all over the floor, leaving a horrible, smelly mess for her to clean up. All she cared about then was making him feel better and it hit her all at once that she would do anything for this boy; that he was her kid and that he needed her too.
It was an amazing feeling and since then, Peter was her world and always would be.
She trained her eyes upward, trying to catch a glimpse of her nephew somewhere up in the branches. She kept moving forward as she searched above and as a consequence, she failed to see the glint of a red leg sticking out until she nearly tripped over it. She caught herself just in time though to see that the leg was attached to her nephew, sitting on the ground, his back against a tree.
It looked like Peter had given up on trying to get in tree and had instead just plopped down beside it. And May could see why. Peter looked wretched. His eyes were swollen and red from crying and his nose was crusted with dried blood around his nostrils. His pale face stood out in contrast in the dark and his sweaty, hair was matted with dirt, soot and possibly more blood. He looked more exhausted than he had ever seen him, but what worried her most was his long stare out into nothing.
She had seen that stare before.
The night Ben had died and she had come to pick up Peter from the police precinct. She remembered how still he had been as he waited on a bench with an emergency blanket around his shoulders, clutching it tight with blood stained hands. He had stared off into nothing then, eyes dull and so unlike her Peter that she hardly recognized him.
It was something she would never forget. It was the stare of someone who had seen far too much far too soon in life and seeing that same stare in Peter’s eyes now made her heart clench with fear.
Peter’s hearing was incredibly sensitive and the fact that she was walking up to him, snapping what seemed like every twig in the forest as she went without getting any sort of reaction from him was very worrying.
She came up to him slowly, fighting all of her instincts to rush him, grab him and hold him tight. She knew that would only scare him, so she took her time, just like one would a wounded animal.
Up close, Peter looked even worse. He was filthy and his trembling hands were clasped tight together in his lap.
“Peter? Sweetie?” She spoke gently.
He said nothing as if he didn’t hear her, likely so far into his own head that he really hadn’t.
Once she was beside him, she lowered herself carefully down to the ground and sat in front of him. Peter was still looking off into the distance, but the moment May said his name again and lightly touched his hands, he flinched like he had been burned and he jerked back in surprise, his eyes coming to life with fear.
“It’s okay. Pete. It’s me. It’s me, sweetie.” She hurried to reassure him and in the next second, his wide eyes landed on hers and relief took over his features.
“May! Oh my God, May!” he breathed heavy with relief, lunging for her and pulling her in for a frantic hug. “You’re here. You’re okay!”
“I’m here. I’m here.” She repeated as she felt his face bury into her shoulder, “It’s okay. I’m here.”
“Mr. Stark … he’s--” She felt Peter’s shoulders begin to shake as he choked on the words, unable to continue. Sobs tore out of him and tears soaked through the shoulder of her shirt.
She held him tighter.
“I know, I know.” She rubbed his back, not liking how the metal suit he was wearing was keeping her from giving him the comfort he needed.
“I tried to get to him, I wanted to help Mr. Stark fight Thanos, but there were too many of them.” He sobbed again, stuttering over his words. She didn’t know what he had been through the last few hours or who Thanos was, but she knew he had seen some things today that were going to haunt him for a long time and all she could do for now was listen. “I tried, but I wasn’t good enough.”
“I know you did everything that you could.” She said, rocking him, her good hand going into his hair and rubbing calming circles into his scalp. “And you are good enough, Peter. I know that and so did Tony.”
“I can’t believe he’s gone.” Peter whispered, his voice hoarse from the tightness in his throat, “He saved us all, May.”
For a long time they just sat there on the floor of the woods until slowly, Peter’s sobs turned into hiccups and she soon could feel him growing heavier in her arms. She was bone tired but she knew that Peter had to be beyond that. But they couldn’t stay out there in the woods all night. It was already getting chilly and sleeping on the ground did not appeal to her in any way. Besides, Peter needed real sleep in a real bed, or at least a cot in the med tent. She was pretty sure he hadn’t seen a doctor yet and while his healing factor was pretty good at doing its job, he had enough blood on him to make her want to demand at least a quick exam by a professional. He might complain, but she was going to put her foot down on this.
“Okay, bud. I think we need to head on in, okay?”
“Are we going home?” he asked, mumbling into her shoulder as she helped him to stand. He was dead on his feet and swayed with palpable exhaustion and she had to keep her arm around him to hold him steady.
“Not tonight. It’s late and we both need sleep.” May swallowed thickly, her arm around Peter's waist as she lead him back towards the tents. She didn’t have the heart to tell him yet that they had no home to go to anymore. She also had to block out the other thoughts in her own head about how they would get by now. She probably had no job after all this time and everything that they had ever possessed was long gone. All that they owned now was what they were wearing.
They would have to start over quite literally from scratch.
But those were worries for tommorrow, she decided.
For tonight, they had all that they needed in each other’s arms and that was more than enough.