Fighting Thanos alone was probably one of the dumbest decisions he’s ever made. But it’s not like he really has a choice. Everyone else had dispersed after they’d failed to get the gauntlet off Thanos.
He needed to find the kid, but he couldn’t take his focus off Thanos.
His suit is damaged, his whole helmet is gone. He needs help. There’s no one to help him.
A sword materializes out of the arm of his suit and he lunges forward to stab Thanos.
But Thanos is faster. He catches the sword and snaps it off Tony’s suit who stumbles backwards with the momentum.
Tony sees it coming, sees the sword being turned on him, but there’s nowhere to go, Thanos has a tight grip on him. This is it, he squeezes his eyes shut and then-
Nothing. No pain.
His eyes snap open just as Peter falls to the ground, hands clutching his stomach with a cry of pain.
“Peter!” Tony shouts, dropping to the ground beside the kid. (Blood, fuck there’s so much blood-) A strangled cry escapes his throat as he grips Peter’s shoulders and lifts the kid gently, tugging him up to his chest.
He wraps one arm around Peter’s shoulders, tucking the limp kid into his front, curling over him, and lifting his free arm over them as a very pathetic form of protection.
He hears Doctor Strange speaking to Thanos, he can’t hear what they’re saying but all he can hope is that Strange has a little bit of empathy. Enough that he’ll keep Peter safe… Alive.
“Mis’er S’ar’,” Peter slurs, glazed eyes struggling to focus on his mentor’s face. “I- I-”
“I’m here, kiddo. I’m right here. We’re going to get you all fixed up, okay? It’s all going to be just fine,” he rambles, but there’s so much blood. Too much blood.
Peter’s face is pale, helmet retracted, lips already bluing with the blood that seeps out of his body and stains his hands as he tries to put pressure on his own wound.
The blood blends in with the red of the planet beneath them, but stands out bright against the pale white of his skin.
Tony presses his hands over Peter’s, helping to try to put pressure on the wound and stop the blood, but there’s so much of it- Never ending blood. It makes an awful squelching noise, the warm liquid seeping between his fingers and coating his hands in it.
“No, no, no,” Tony murmurs, panic beginning to engulf his body. His stained hands are shaking, struggling to keep up the pressure on the wound. Heart pounding hard against his chest and in his head, and the only thing he can think is that Peter’s heart will never beat again.
Peter’s eyes are watery and glazed over, barely able to focus his attention on Tony, blood staining his bluing lips.
(Dying. He’s dying. He’s dying. He’s dying.
He’s too young to die. So young. Seventeen and young and life draining from his eyes-
And there’s nothing Tony can do to stop it.)
He wants to scream. He wants to cry. He wants to turn back time and swap places with Peter, stop the kid from throwing himself between the knife and him, stop Peter from carrying out the most self-sacrificial act.
“Kid?” Tony swallows down his tears, gently settling Peter on the dirt to put more pressure on the wound. “Kid, I need- I need you to focus, okay? I need you to keep your eyes on me, alright? I’m going to- I’m going to fix this, okay? I will. I have to. You’re going to be okay. I’m going to keep you safe.”
A tear falls from Peter’s eye and traces its way into his hairline. Begging, silently, for Tony to do something, anything, to save him. He’s just a kid. Just a scared kid who would do anything to protect his family.
Tony’s doing everything in his power not to cry as well, he needs to stay calm for Peter’s sake, but his hands are stained in Peter’s blood, and Peter’s so pale and losing blood faster than Tony knows how to deal with.
And then he hears it.
His head snaps up, away from Peter, watching as Quill stumbles forward and then he’s gone. Nothing but dust left in his wake.
“Wha-” Peter chokes out, coughing blood up. He was stabbed through and through, and Tony doesn’t even have the mental capacity to think about internal bleeding. “Wha’s happ’ning?”
“He did it,” Tony breathes. He feels useless, kneeling beside the kid who’s bleeding out and watching everyone around him disappear. “Half the population…”
(Peter’s dying. But everybody’s dying. They failed. They failed. They failed. Thanos won. They lost. Peter’s dying and somehow that’s more important than half the population.)
Peter’s free hand, the one that isn’t pressed underneath Tony’s, wraps around Tony’s wrist, smearing blood on his skin. The young superhero’s hand is shaking, pale, weak, but he hangs on.
Turning his attention back to his kid, Tony finally lets a few tears fall. “It’s going to be okay, kid. It’ll be okay. I’ve got you.”
He knows it’s mostly denial. Half means there’s a good chance one of them will disappear. And as much as he hates himself for it, he almost wishes it’ll be Peter. At least that way, the kid won’t have to be in pain any longer.
But a smaller part, the selfish part of him, wishes it’ll be him. So he doesn’t have to be the one alone on this planet. So he doesn’t have to be the one to try to get home and have to tell everyone he lost the kid.
Either way, there’s a good chance this ends the same.
“T’ny,” Peter sobs, smaller hand clutching Tony’s desperately. “Please. I- I don’t wanna- I don’t wanna go, T’ny, please- Don’t leave me-”
Tony lets his head fall, pressing his mouth against his kid’s forehead.
“It’s okay, kid. It’s okay-”
Nobody returns from Titan.