“Hey, Penis Parker!” Flash shouted at Peter as he was making his way out of the building. Peter just tried to ignore him and kept heading towards the front doors of the school, he didn’t want anything spoiling his mood. Today was his lab day with Mr. Stark and he got to stay at the Tower all weekend since May is out of town. Nothing could diminish that, or so he thought.
“What, so now you’re ignoring me!” Flash yelled as he sprinted ahead, cutting him off.
“Just leave me alone Flash.” Peter sighed.
“Just leave me alone.” He repeated even though he knew that Flash had heard him. “ I have to get to my internship.” Flash suddenly grabbed Peter’s wrist. Peter could have easily gotten away, but he couldn’t have before the bite, so he just let Flash drag him back down the hallway. “Let me go Flash.”
“No, I am sick of you and I am even more sick of your lies!”
“What lies are you talking about?” Peter said as he was still being dragged, he lightly tugged to give a sense of struggle, but not enough to hurt Flash. He realized they were headed to the cafeteria. Everyone else seemed to already be gone for the day.
“Your stupid lies about the Stark internship!”
“They are not lies!”
“First off, Stark Industries does not take High School interns and second why would Tony Stark ever pick you. I mean your own parents and uncle died to get away from you”
Those words hurt. He always blamed himself for Ben’s death so those words cut into him more than a knife ever could. Peter was brought back from his self-deprecating thoughts when Flash came to an abrupt stop. Peter nearly ran into him; it was so sudden.
Peter looked around and realized they were standing in the school's kitchen. “What are we doing here? What do you want Flash?”
“I want you to admit you lied about the internship.”
“I want you to admit you are a liar and that Tony Stark would never waste his time with a loser like you!” Flash sneered.
“For the last time! I. Am. Not. Lying!” Peter had officially lost it, he just wanted to leave.
Flash still had a steel grip on Peter's wrist, but with his other hand he pried open a giant metal door to the right of them. A cold gust of air came out and Peter shivered. It was the school's walk-in freezer. “One more chance Parker! Admit your lying!”
“What the hell Flash?! I told you I am not lying, now let me go!”
Peter felt the hairs on the back of his neck stand up and then he was suddenly shoved into the freezer. He fell back hitting his head hard on the floor. Everything got fuzzy. He heard Flash speak, but it sounded like he was underwater.
“Fucking liar! Have fun Parker!” Then the door shut and Peter passed out.
Happy was waiting outside the school in Tony’s black Audi. He was getting grumpy since Peter was late. After waiting 10 minutes he sent Peter a text. 10 more minutes passed and he sent another text and kept waiting for a response. Still he got none.
It was now 3:30. It had now been 30 minutes, he was ready to just leave but decided to call Tony first.
Tony answered, “Where are you and the kid?”
“I’m at his school, but he has not come out.”
“What? Hold on.” Happy could hear some shuffling on the other end and then Tony’s voice was back on the line. “His phone is still in the school.”
“You want me to go look for him?” Happy said annoyingly.
“No, I’ll go.”
“You want me to come pick you up?”
“Nah, just stay where you are, I’ll grab a suit.”
“See you soon.” Happy hung up and settled in.
Peter woke up and his head felt like it was going to split open. He immediately felt the chill in his bones from the cold around him. It took him a moment to realize he was shivering. It was freezing and completely pitchback. He grabbed his phone in his pocket and pulled it out. It fell to the floor since he could not get a good grip on it because his fingers were beginning to go numb. He felt for it on the cold floor and picked it up trying to grasp it more firmly this time. The screen lit up and he squinted his eyes at the sudden change of light. The time said 3:15pm. He had been passed out for probably about 10 minutes.
He knew he had to get out of there now. He had learned last winter, when he almost got hypothermia from not wearing a warm enough jacket, that cold did not agree with him anymore since spiders can’t thermoregulate. It was spring, close to summer, at the moment and he had no jacket on at all. He used his phone as a light and got up, swaying a bit as his legs had fallen asleep. He moved along the shelves of food, grasping them for support and making his way forward. He caught a glimpse at the thermometer attached to the wall to his left, it said 0°F or 17.78°C. After last winter Peter had done research on hypothermia just in case. At 0°F early symptoms of hypothermia could set in a little bit after 30 mins if you have a lot of skin exposed. Peter knew this time would be shortened significantly because of his DNA and because he only had a short sleeved shirt on.
Peter finally made it to the door but there was no handle on the inside, “Who d-d-designed th-this th-th-thing” Peter stuttered out. He went on his phone to call for help but found he had no service, “J-J-Just G-Great.” He then put his phone back in his pocket and started banging on the ice cold door with his numbing fists. Although his strength was not at its full amount he still made some dents in the door. If his limbs weren’t numb or almost numb, he could have easily broken down the door. He tried to scream, “H-Hello?! A-A-Anyb-body?! I’m T-T-Trapped!!! P-Please is A-Anybody Out Th-Th-There?!!” His voice came out in stutters and sobs. Peter knew he was on the verge of a panic attack.
After a while the shivers wracked his body and his legs were losing movement. He could barely stand upright. Peter slid down the wall next to the door into a sitting position and pulled his knees up to his chest. He wrapped his arms around his knees and put his head on top, trying to keep whatever heat he had left. He cried and shivered and shivered and cried and then he stopped shivering.
Although Peter had done all that research on Hypothermia and knew not shivering anymore was a bad thing he did not seem to care. He could not even remember why he was there. He looked up at the door like it was the obvious way out, but then saw there was no door handle, ‘How did I forget that,’ Peter thought, he was mad at himself for forgetting, his thoughts coming slowly to him, ‘oh right confusion, irritability, sleepiness, stage two. Great.’ his mind supplied after a while. He really was getting sleepy. ‘Why am I here again? Maybe I’ll take a nap and this will all be over.’ He thought. He knew logically this was a bad Idea, but logic was being taken over by the frost. ‘Is it me or is it getting harder to breathe?’ Peter thought as exhaustion took over. Peter was just closing his eyes when the door came bursting open.
Tony touched down in front of the school, he retracted the suit. Happy got out of the car to greet him.
“Hey Boss, you need help getting him?”
“No, I’ll go find him. Wait out here for us.” Tony said as he sent his suit home since he saw no threat.
Tony walked through the double doors of the school following the app on his phone which was tracking Peter’s. He went down a few hallways and found himself at another set of double doors, these led into the cafeteria. He walked in but there was no sign of Peter. He looked at the screen and saw it was coming from the kitchen. He walked in and came to a halt, the tracker took him right in front of the huge metal door to the walk-in freezer. ‘This can’t be right.’ Tony thought yet worry was over taking his body. He grasped the door handle undid the latch and pried it open.
Darkness greeted him. He walked in and saw no one. He turned around to walk out and froze, bad choice of words, there was Peter right next to the door curled into a protective ball not moving. Not moving. Tony slid to his knees in front of Peter. He reached out and touched Peter’s arm. He pulled his hand back like he was burned, but in reality it was the shock of Peter’s arm being ice cold. “Peter?” He put his hands on Peter’s head and tipped it up from where it was resting on his knees. His eyes were closed, his face lax, dried frozen tear tracks remained. Tony couldn’t breathe, “Peter, I need you to open your eyes for me. Peter wake up!” His nerves overwhelmed him as he shook Peter by the shoulders.
To Tony’s great relief Peter stirred. His eyes opened in a drowsy squint. “Hey kiddo, there you are.” Tony tried to say gently but it came out in a strangled sob.
Peter turned his head to the side in confusion “Ben?” Tony’s relief was gone in a instant.
He had no words, what was he supposed to say to that? He took a deep breath, “No bud, it’s Tony, or Mr. Stark as you insist on calling me.” Peter showed no signs of comprehension. His eyes closed once again and his head lolled to the side. “No, no! No sleeping. Peter, open your eyes!” Peter’s eyes stayed closed. “Shit! Peter!! FRIDAY vitals now” He scanned Peter with his watch and then it projected the results: Body temp- 83°F or 28.3°C, Heart rate- 50bpm Blood pressure- 80
“Medical attention is needed urgently” FRIDAY's voice came through his watch, and if possible the AI sounded worried. He cursed and immediately scooped Peter up and ran back through the school. He burst through the front door heading to the car.
Happy spotted him holding a limp Peter. His eyes were wide with confusion and worry. He quickly opened the back seat door. “What happened?! Is he-”
“He’s alive.” Tony cut Happy off. “We need to get him to the tower now! Break as many speed limits and reds as you need, just be careful, I will deal with the fallout later. Call Helen and tell her we are on the way, have FRIDAY send her his vitals, I already took them, and blast the heat on high.”
As soon as Happy closed the back door he ran around to the front seat, got in, and zipped down the street. He blasted the heat in the back, put up the partition, instructed FRIDAY to send Peter’s vitals, and called Helen.
Tony held Peter, cradling him to his chest whispering reasuences even though he was unconscious. “You’re ok Peter. You’re going to be ok. I got you. I’m not going anywhere. Just hang in there.”
They made it to the tower in record time and Helen was waiting with a team and a gurney next to the elevator. Tony got out of the car with Peter in his arms. He walked two steps and then there were people grabbing him from Tony's arms putting him down on the gurney, Tony tried to hold on to Peter but couldn’t. He moved to be at Peter’s side but Helen stood between the gurney and Tony, blocking him. While her team checked Peter’s vitals again she asked Tony questions, “What happened?”
“I don't know really, he was late coming out of school, I tracked his phone and found him barely conscious locked in a freezer!” He alternated looking at Helen and Peter.
“Tony calm down. We will take care of him I promise. When did this happen?”
“Also not sure. Happy was supposed to pick him up at 3:00 outside his school but he never showed up.”
“Ok, we’re taking him up to the Med Bay, I will come talk to you when I know more.” She turned on her heels and stepped into the elevator with her team and Peter, leaving no room for Tony.
As soon as the elevator door closed and he lost sight of Peter his knees buckled. Happy caught him before his knees slammed on the ground and lowered him gently. Once agai he couldn’t breathe. “Tony, he will be okay. He is tougher than any kid, he will pull through.” Happy squeezed Tony's shoulder in a comforting manner.
Tony could not seem to make coherent words; he just stared at the closed elevator doors not caring that tears were streaming down his face.
Tony sat in the medbay waiting room tapping his foot nervously, Happy right beside him. Since May was out of town she was trying to get a flight back. Happy offered to fly the jet over but the jet was being repaired from their last mission. After about an hour a tired looking helen came out. Tony immediately stood up, “What’s happening? Is he ok?”
She got straight to the point, “When Peter came in he was nearing the end of stage 2 hypothermia. His body was going to shut down soon so it went into survival mode. He went into hibernation.”
Tony looked dumbfounded, ‘Did I hear that correctly?’ He thought. “Did you say hibernation?” Helen nodded. “Like a bear?”
“No, like a spider.” Helen said matter of factly, “Some spiders hibernate in winter.”
“‘What does this mean? When will he wake up?“
“We stabilized him and we are bringing up his temperature slowly so as to not shock his system. As for waking up, that's anyone’s guess. There is no exact science on spider human DNA hibernation yet. It could be as soon as his temp is back to normal, it could be longer.”
Tony did not like that answer, but knew it was the only one he would get. “Can I see him?”
Helen smiled softly at him, “We are just finishing setting him up in one of the rooms, follow me.”
Tony looked back at Happy. Happy gave him a nod, “Go see your kid, I’ll be here if you need me.”
“You always are, thank you.” Tony said sincerely and then followed Helen down the hallway.
They walked to nearly the end of the hall and came to a stop. There was a nurse inside checking vitals one more time. Tony just stood in the doorway staring. Peter looked unbelievably small in the bed. Pale and small. He had wires coming from his chest and arms, keeping track of his vitals and giving him nutrients from the IV. He also had an oxygen mask over his mouth and nose.
Finally, Tony found the strength to walk in just as the nurse was walking out. He basically fell into the chair beside Peter’s bed. He reached out for Peter’s hand which was lying limp at his side. It was cold but nearly as cold as it was when he found him. “Hey Pete.” Tony started talking without even realizing. His voice wavering with worry. “You're safe and you're ok, I just need you to wake up for me.” He knew his pleas were falling on deaf ears but he couldn't help trying. He sat there for hours refusing to move for anything.
After a few hours he had Happy grab his Starkpad and as he waited endlessly. He hacked into the school’s security cameras to figure out what happened and who was responsible. He saw some kid drag Peter to the cafeteria and saw them talking, but sadly the recordings did not have audio. “FRIDAY can you tell what they are saying?” FRIDAY added captions to the recording of what she believed they were saying, switching camera view as they walked through the school.
Tony’s blood boiled at few sentences uttered, all of them from the other kid, “First off, Stark Industries does not take High School interns and second why would Tony Stark ever pick you. I mean your own parents and uncle died to get away from you” and “I want you to admit you are a liar and that Tony Stark would never waste his time with a loser like you.” He was going to kill this kid.
He now knew the kid’s name was Flash, or at least nickname was, and he was having FRIDAY pull up his school file. He had heard Peter complaining about a guy in his class named Flash who was bullying him. He really wanted to go and kick this kids ass for hurting and almost killing Peter, but knew fighting a minor would not look good. He was first going to have this kid expelled and then decide whether or not to press charges. He knew logically that the kid probably did not mean to almost kill Peter. His Spider DNA was the only reason he was at death's door and Flash did not know about that. Maybe Flash was going to let Peter out soon after Tony got there, but still no matter what, any kid would have been hurt and/or traumatized from what he did. He would ask Peter, once he woke up, his preference in the end. Still he knew Peter would never press charges, he was too good.
May arrived in the early hours of the morning and went straight to the Med Bay. She ran through the door, “Oh god, by baby.” She said as she took Peter’s lax face in her hands and pressed a kiss to his forehead. She then looked at the state Tony was in. “How long have you been sitting here?” she asked as she looked him straight in the eyes.
“Since he got here. I haven't left his side.”
She smiled at him. “Thank you. Now go eat something and take a shower.” She said it like an order.
“I don’t want to leave him.”
“There is almost no chance he is waking up in the little time it will take you to take care of your basic needs. I talked to Helen and they are still bringing his temperature back to normal.”
Tony sighed, but knew she was right. He got up, stretched his stiff muscles and left the room looking back at Peter one more time before he turned the corner. He went and showered and grabbed a bowl of fruit. He ate it and grabbed a second one to bring down to May. When he stepped back into the room May was singing softly to Peter who was still asleep on the bed. She looked up and smiled at Tony, a sad smile. He handed her the bowl and took his place once again in the chair by Peter’s head, May sisting opposite him on the other side.
These became their regular positions everyday as they stayed with Peter. One always stayed the night while the other went to get some more comfortable sleep. It had been 4 days now and Peter still showed no signs of waking. His temperature had been back to normal since day two. The fifth day was like the rest. Tony and May talking to Peter, Tony and May talking to each other, and Happy coming to visit once during the day. Then night fell and it was Tony’s turn to stay with Peter. May kissed Peter goodnight and gave a gentle squeeze to Tony’s shoulder as she walked out.
Tony, like the other nights, mindlessly talked, hoping that if Peter heard his voice and knew it was safe, he would wake up. So far no luck. Tony talked about the new upgrades he was making to his and Peter’s suits. He just talked and talked and then abruptly stopped when he saw Peter’s hand twitch. He straightened his back and he leaned closer to the bed, eyes wide. He grabbed Peter’s hand, “Pete? Undroos you with me? Please wake up.” The last part came out desperate. Peter’s eyes began to open.
Peter came back to consciousness slowly. He heard the beeping of a heart monitor, he was probably in the med bay. ‘What did I do to get myself here again?’ Is all Peter could think. He also heard Mr. Stark's voice. He was saying something about the Iron Man suit, but he could not follow along well. His head hurt and he felt heavy, like there was a weight on his entire body. He tried to move but gave up pretty quickly. Then the voice stopped, everything was silent. ‘Is Mr. Stark ok?’ he thought.
Then he felt a weight on his hand and Mr. Stark spoke up again, “Pete? Undroos you with me? Please wake up.”
Tony sounded concerned and scared almost and Peter did not want to be the cause of his stress. He used all of his strength to peel his eyes open. He looked around and as he expected he was in the Med Bay. He rolled his head to the left on the pillow, lifting his head took too much strength right now, and met the eyes of his mentor. He smiled, but it came out wonky because he was still coming back into full consciousness.
“Hi,” Peter croaked out.
Tony let out a half laugh half sob, “Hey.” He replied as he grabbed a glass of water by the bed with a bendy straw. Tony held up the cup and placed the straw right at Peter's mouth. “Sip” he instructed. Peter opened his mouth and sacked on the straw, relishing in how the water felt on his dry mouth and throat.
When he had a few sips he stopped drinking to breathe for a second, “Thanks.”
Tony put down the glass and without even thinking reached up and pushed Peter's hair out of his face. Peter leaned into his mentor’s touch. “I’m happy to see you awake. How are you feeling?”
“Heavy,” Peter replied.
Tony laughed, “Yeah your body is probably still exhausted.”
“What happened?” Tony sobered up with concern apparent in his face.
“You don't remember?”
“I remember heading out of school, running into Flash, and then just cold.” and involuntary shiver from the memory wracked Peter’s body.
Tony looked at Peter with more concern, if that was even possible and then filled in the blacks for Peter, “That asshole Flash locked you in the school’s Freezer.” He spit out the words
“Yeah oh,” Tony repeated. Peter yawned, exhausted, already ready to take over again. Tony saw this, “We can discuss him more later, your body still needs rest, even after hibernation.”
“Hibernation?” Peter asked confusedly, too tired to show surprise.
“When you were in the freezer your body was about to shut down. Instead it went into hibernation mode to save you. Apparently some spiders hibernate.” He said with a shugof his shoulders.
Peter took a minute to let the information sink in. Then there was a mischievous glinto to his eyes, “You know dying of hypothermia would be a pretty ‘cool’ way to go though don't you think?” He emphasized the ‘cool.’
Tony looked at Peter in disbelief, “Did you really just make a pun after you almost died?”
“Maybe,” Peter smirked tiredly.
“I swear you will be the death of me Pete.” Tony said, rolling his eyes.
“Oh, you love me.” Peter retorted as his eyes began to close again.
“Yeah. Yeah I do. Now get some rest Kiddo, I’ll be here when you wake up.”
With that Peter was drifting back to sleep, lulled by Tony's hand brushing through his curls. He was safe with Mr. Stark beside him.