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they were just there. on the counter. the end of the world and the beginning of it. there was a note tacked onto the donuts. a note. from tony. 

 

“you got this, kid.” 

 

the donuts taunted him in their sugary goodness, their empty calories and their jam. the private kitchen provided to him was usually stocked, now. not with binge-purge-empty-control-agony-power foods, but with fresh produce and low-calorie-low-carb bread. there were some things peter didn’t think he’d unlearn. nevertheless, the kitchen was usually stocked, peter hadn’t purged in a while (two months, maybe) and he hadn’t felt the god-forsaken itch for it in three days, maybe, which was better than usual, when he came to think about it. 

 

but the donuts were there, sitting proudly between the pantry and the toaster. he could still remember them, like golf balls in his throat, the last time he ate them. all at once, he can feel his stomach distending as he’s sat on the shower floor, and he’s sobbing so hard he could throw up but he can't because the fucking donuts just would not come out. 

 

he hadn’t eaten donuts since then. he felt sick whenever he looked at them or even thought about them for too long, which was something peter kept meaning to bring up with his therapist but never really did. 

 

the silence rang in peter’s ears, so shrill that he could’ve sworn his ears would turn themselves inside out. he could usually hear everything going on in the tower, except- well. except in fight or flight. 

 

peter coughed, cleared his throat. when he dissociated it was easier for him to process his thoughts if he spoke them out loud. 

 

“i have a couple options,” he started, voice shaking so hard he was startled at the intensity of it, “i throw them away and tell tony never to give me donuts ever again, or i give them to may the next time i see her, or i call tony up here because i reallyreallyneedahug - fuck.” his voice crept higher and higher in pitch, and tears ran down his face faster than he could wipe them up with his sleeve. 

 

“or-” peter started, a thought so scandalous and wrong forming in his head that he didn’t know if he could dare to even speak it, “or, i could eat one.”

 

there is nothing more terrifying and viscerally haunting than bulimic hunger. it’s not hunger, really, not in the traditional sense. peter knew that his mind worked in such a way that his brain thought that if he ate enough pop tarts and pot noodles, he could feel loved. it’s not hunger, has nothing to do with it, but it simultaneously is the only real hunger he could feel whenever he lost control over his body and mind. 

 

peter’s internal compass was pointing dead south. if he ate a donut, he would surely die, but he wanted one so badly everything in him was itching to take one. he could smash it in his hand and squeeze until the sugar grains rubbed his hands raw and then he could stuff the mess into his mouth until the jam made a halo around his mouth, like he’d eaten something alive, like he’d gone feral. 

 

he shook his head, like a dog shaking off water droplets after being out in the rain. there wasn’t any use making the issue bigger than it was, except his arms were numb and he couldn’t feel his body in the context of space anymore. 

 

at best, he would eat tony’s donuts and he wouldn't have an anxiety attack and he’d have another small victory to share with doctor zelah. at worst, he’d cry, maybe. scream, probably. definitely try and fail to throw it up. the possibility of it scared him, made his teeth feel cold inside of his mouth, but he wanted a donut. he missed them. he vaguely remembered they were nice, especially the custard filled ones, but he couldn't quite remember how they tasted. 

 

like a tension filled cord had been cut, peter jerked awake, realising he’d been staring at the note for far too long. “you got this, kid.” tony had far too much faith in peter, if he was honest. he looked at the paper bag and saw the word “custard” and it pierced his brain so deeply it rang through the memory of him on the shower floor, and he knew he had to do this. 

 

the bag made a loud crumpling sound as it opened, and sugar scattered onto the counter. peter needed to clean that up later, or ants would come. there were five donuts in the bag. 

 

with shaking hands and bated breath, peter selected the smallest one out of the bag and held it up to his face, half a foot away from his eyes, and just looked.  

 

and then the unthinkable happened. 

 

he took a bite.