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Ghost Town

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Peter’s weekend goes… fine. The Avengers all spend time with him, keeping him company. Tony had privately told all of them that Peter was going through a rough patch. He hadn’t told them any specifics, and he had asked that they didn’t pry. He just wanted to make sure they could be there for Peter.

The team spends the weekend watching movies, eating take out, and observing Peter try to teach Steve how to play Minecraft. Peter gets his cast off on Saturday with no problems. The only time Peter is left alone is when he’s sleeping, or the four hours the Avengers spent fighting some random wannabe supervillain on Saturday. Otherwise, he was surrounded by laughs and smiles.

So why is it that when Peter wakes up on Monday he feels so empty? He had hoped his energy would make an appearance sometime during the weekend. Now that he thought about it, that was a really senseless wish. Peter debates just not going to school today, but he already missed Friday. He doesn’t want to fall behind in school, or worry Tony.

Peter struggles out of bed before heading towards the bathroom. He’s about to step into the shower before a sudden thought pops into his head. If I can’t feel emotions, I can feel pain. Peter’s foggy head figures this to be a very sensible idea, so he reaches under the sink for his razor. He makes quick cuts on his wrists. It’s January, so he can just wear a hoodie until his scars disappear by tomorrow night. Peter watches the blood bead on his pale arms for a while. Shit, I need to hurry up.

Peter hides his razor again, then steps into the shower. He quickly washes himself off, then throws on a hoodie and jeans. Peter brushes his teeth and rushes toward the kitchen, where he finds… nobody. No one is in the kitchen? It’s 7:00 am, there should be like six people in here.

“Hey, FRI? Where is everyone?” Peter glances up at the ceiling.

“The Avengers left about three hours ago. They were called on a mission very suddenly.” FRIDAY answers Peter’s question, but he’s just left with even more questions.

“Well, that’s nice. Was it to deal with the walking slushies? Why didn’t they take me? Where’s the mission?” Peter feels completely left out of the loop. Tony didn’t even leave him a text message this time. 

“No, Mr. Parker. They aren’t handling the enhanced ice individuals. Their mission is based just outside the city in Newark, New Jersey. I’m not sure why Boss didn’t take you.” FRIDAY’s answer leaves Peter feeling just slightly crushed. At least I’m feeling something. Peter rolls his eyes. Sure, he was technically supposed to be helping fight off the snowmen, but he had been hoping he would still help on other smaller missions. Guess I’m walking to school today.

The sun is barely rising as Peter steps out of the Tower’s front entrance. He pulls out a pack of cigarettes. None of the team will be around to see him. He isn’t entirely sure he would care if they did see him right now. Maybe that way he could experience some type of emotion. Peter lights the cigarette as he heads in the direction of his high school. The smoke he inhales provides a sharp relief, clearing his head a little.

The sun slowly climbs over the shorter buildings of Manhattan as Peter walks to school. After about five minutes, Peter realizes a few people stare at him and whisper to each other. This continues every once in a while the entire walk to school. Peter does his best to ignore the glances and hushed voices, but his ignorance is in vain. Why are people staring? Is it the cigarette? No, people don’t care about that here. And FRIDAY would have warned me if the world found out I was Spider-Man.

Peter’s mind is now buzzing with anxiety. He tosses the cigarette on the ground and steps on it as he gets closer to the school. Why do random people keep staring? He can’t take his mind off of it, it doesn’t make sense. 

Peter walks up the front steps of the school, trying to suppress the anxiety reeling in his mind. Peter puts his headphones in, but doesn’t play any music through them. He’s trying to keep down the opportunities for sensory overload on top of his nerves from the staring. The second Peter walks through the front steps, every head turns like a scene straight out of a movie. This would be comical if it wasn’t actually happening to Peter.

Peter keeps his head down, trying to push past people to get to his locker. He tries to focus on just getting to class. Peter opens his locker and puts some of his things inside of it. Peter’s pulling out a textbook when his face gets shoved inside of his locker. Peter freezes, not wanting to worsen whatever the hell kind of situation he’s in.

“Wanna explain yourself, Penis?” Oh, come the fuck on. Peter is not in the mood for Flash’s stupid antics today. Another shove forces Peter’s face to smash against his textbook that he had meant to pull out of his locker. Peter’s nose is on fire, but there’s no way Flash would cause Peter’s nose to bleed, right? Peter’s more durable than that.

“What do you want, Flash?” Peter asks, his head still half in his locker.

“The fucking videos, asshat! These have gotta be the funniest shit I’ve seen in a while!” Flash laughs. Peter knits his eyebrows together in confusion. Flash continues, “They were posted last night. What are you, a cry baby or something? You’re probably just looking for attention, you fucking pussy.” Flash shoves the back of Peter’s head hard one more time. Peter’s face crashes into his textbook once again. Flash walks away, apparently satisfied.

Peter, however, is left at a complete loss. He pulls his head out of his locker and grabs out the textbook before closing the locker door. He slings his backpack over his shoulder. What videos? What is he talking about?

Peter walks into his first class of the day, ignoring the hundreds of eyes that keep focusing on him. He keeps his headphones in, not wanting to hear every single word that whisper about him. Peter pulls out his phone, trying to find the videos Flash talked about. A notification from Ned sparks Peter’s interest. Sure enough, it’s a video. Of Peter. In Central Park.

Peter ignores Ned’s concerned texts and immediately opens the video. 

A group of girls walk up to Captain America, wanting to take selfies and get autographs. Steve, however, tries to politely get the girls to leave. Meanwhile, he’s also attempting to shield the face of the young teen that sits next to him on the park bench.

 He doesn’t manage to cover up the teen’s face very well, though. It’s obvious that it’s Peter. And not only is it Peter, but it’s Peter crying . He has a weird, empty look in his eyes. But the red puffiness and tear streaks make it clear that Peter’s crying.

Steve finally just decides to pick Peter up - like a baby- and quickly walk away from the girls. The girls follow from a distance, stopping when Steve stops about twenty feet away from them. The video zooms in and shows Tony freaking out before Peter hugs him. The only good thing about the girls being far away is that they can’t hear Tony freaking out.

The video ends, and Peter feels his entire face heat up in embarrassment. The entire city had been staring at him on his walk to school because they recognized him as the weird kid that freaked out with Iron man and Captain America. Peter has never felt so stupid and humiliated.

Peter buries his face in his arms, ignoring the bell that signifies the start of class. He wants nothing more than to sink away into a world where none of this shit had happened. A sharp tap on his desk causes Peter to jump. The entire class is laughing as Peter’s math teacher stands over him.

“No sleeping in my class, Mr. Parker. I don’t care how early it is. And take your headphones out.” The teacher walks back up to the front of the classroom. Thank God he didn’t give me detention or something. “Mr. Parker, are you paying attention?” Peter nods his head, but Mr. Reese doesn’t seem to believe him. “Stay after class, Mr. Parker.” Fuck.

The class hour is laboriously long, but finally the bell rings. Everyone gathers up their things and leaves the classroom. Peter waits at his desk as his teacher closes the door. Peter’s hands shake, he feels literal seconds from a complete meltdown. Today has gone so wrong so much and it’s barely 8:30 in the morning. It can’t get any worse, right? 

Peter’s teacher beckons him to walk up to the front desk. When Peter gets there, his teacher looks at him for a minute. Peter’s beginning to feel real uncomfortable in the awkward silence before his teacher finally speaks. “You know, I’ve had my eye on you for a while, Mr. Parker. I’ve just been waiting for you to cause trouble; it was bound to happen eventually.”

‘Cause trouble?’ What the hell is he doing about? “Respectfully, Mr. Reese… I don’t think I really was cau-”

“Careful, Mr. Parker. I don’t like your tone. I think you could do with learning a lesson or two about respecting adults. Lucky for you, my second hour class is my free hour.” Peter freezes. He doesn’t like his teacher’s tone. He doesn’t like the way his teacher’s eyes have started moving up and down Peter’s body. He most certainly doesn’t like it when his teacher grabs Peter’s arm and roughly pulls him closer to his teacher.

Peter knows where this is going. What do I do, what do I do, what do I do? Peter can’t think straight. He can’t move his limbs, they feel like they’re filled with jelly. Snap out of it. This can’t happen. But Peter can’t snap out of it. Peter feels his mind begin to feel fuzzy. He watches as his teacher takes off his own pants. 

“Have you ever been with another man, Peter?” His teacher whispers in Peter’s ear, his tone is filled with malice. Peter doesn’t respond to the question, he can’t even move his head side to side. How did this happen so fast? How is this happening again? Peter’s nose throbs from being hit twice in his locker earlier, and he can feel the hot wetness of tears streaming down his cheeks.

Peter’s teacher grabs his hair and pulls Peter’s head towards his teacher’s crotch. Peter can’t even struggle, he can’t move at all. He is completely and utterly defenseless, frozen in fear. Peter silently sobs as his teacher pushes himself into Peter’s mouth. Peter feels his mind drift away.

Peter becomes more aware of his surroundings again a few minutes later. He’s bent over his teacher’s desk. “N- no.” Peter feels nothing but shame and confusion and pain, his mind unable to even form coherent thoughts by now. Peter feels his pants come down before he tries to let his mind drift away again. He’s more aware of what’s happening now, though. Peter cries as he feels white hot pain. He can feel every single thing happening, and it’s just like Skip. It’s happening again, Skip is happening again-

And then Peter finds himself in the bathroom. He can’t breathe, tears are streaming down his face. He clutches a note that excuses him for being late to second hour in his hand. Peter’s hands are shaking, he’s gasping for air. How did he get to the bathroom? What the fuck just happened? Peter curls into himself, shame and anger and pain taking over his brain. He’s so fucking scared. What just happened? He can’t believe that just happened.

It feels like an eternity before Peter hears the bathroom door open. He immediately stops gasping and sobbing so loudly, afraid that Mr. Reese has come looking for him again. “Peter? Are you in here?” It’s Ned. Shit. Peter had completely forgotten he was in school. Of course Ned is looking for him, they share a second hour class.

Peter stays silent, waiting for Ned to leave. There’s no way he can see Peter like this. No one can know that Peter, aka Spider-Man , failed to stop this from happening. You’re so weak and disgusting. Peter hears Ned leave the bathroom, and Peter immediately leans over the toilet and throws up. He had skipped breakfast this morning, so there isn’t much in his stomach to cough up.

Peter waits a little while longer. His mind starts buzzing again, carrying away his thoughts. Peter still feels disgusting, and terrified. But he has to act fine. No one can know. No one can know. Peter picks himself up from the floor, grabs his bag, and leaves the restroom. 

The hallways are filled with students, which tells Peter that he missed the entirety of second hour. Peter makes his way to his third hour class, vehemently aware of the students staring, pointing, laughing. Peter’s eyes fill with tears, and he tries to hide his face.

Peter practically runs into his AP Chem classroom, before sitting down at his desk. MJ and Ned show up together a few minutes later, and visibly relax when their eyes land on Peter. As they get closer, they both begin growing concerned again. Peter’s eyes are red and puffy, and his face is pale and blotchy.

Peter offers his best smile, which looks like absolute shit. He doesn’t even try for a verbal greeting, knowing his voice will fail him. 

“Dude, you weren’t in Spanish. What the heck happened to you?” Ned sits down next to Peter. MJ takes her seat in front of Ned and Peter’s desk. Peter just shrugs his shoulders before facing the front of the classroom where their teacher has started teaching the day’s lesson. 

MJ narrows her eyes at Peter before turning back to the front of the classroom. She can’t tell if Peter is feeling bad enough for her to call Tony. MJ finally settles on keeping a very close eye on Peter. If she decides he is acting too weird, she’s calling Tony.

The class goes by slowly but easily. Everyone was busy taking notes of the lecture. Nothing bad happens until the end of class, when the students are packing up their belongings. MJ is stuffing her notebook into her already full binder, and Ned is looking at Instagram memes. He had tried talking to Peter, but it was clear Peter was not going to be talking back any time soon.

Peter is sitting in his seat, zoned out. His mind has drifted far away from where he sits in his chemistry class. The bell rings and the students file out of the classroom. Their chemistry teacher goes to monitor the behavior in the hallway outside. The only people left in the class are MJ and Ned, who are trying to zone Peter back in so they can get him to his fourth hour. 

Ned and MJ give up and turn around to come up with a plan. A hand lands on Peter’s shoulder and squeezes. A snarky remark would’ve followed, if the hand and the body it is attached to hadn’t been thrown across the classroom. Flash smashes into the wall and falls to the ground, unconscious. 

Peter is standing on the opposite side of the room, breathing heavily. His eyes are glazed over. Ned and MJ whip around and take in the scene. Ned runs to check on Flash while MJ grabs Peter’s free backpack strap and drags him out of the classroom. She tells her chemistry teacher that Flash had suddenly passed out before leading Peter downstairs towards the front entrance.

The two of them walk right past the front entrance, MJ ignoring the odd look from the school staff inside the office. Her only focus is getting Peter away from people that could either hurt him or be hurt. MJ pulls out her phone and pressed Tony Stark . His contact had magically shown up overnight after the incident with Peter’s panic attack last week. MJ tried not to find the phone hack to be an invasion of her privacy.

Tony doesn’t answer. “You gotta be shitting me.” MJ sits Peter down and tries to gingerly grab his phone out of his pocket. Peter flinches and grabs MJ’s wrist tightly. “Peter, stop. Please. I just want to help.” Peter loosens his hold on her wrist, but doesn’t let go. MJ grabs Peter’s phone and transfers it to her free hand. She scrolls through his contacts before she sees Steve Rogersss . She presses the dial button and waits. No answer.

MJ curses again before pressing the next Avenger name, which is Sam>:) This time, someone picks up. MJ lets out a breath she didn’t know she was holding.

“Hello? Pete, you there?” 

“Sir, it’s his friend from school. I uh.” MJ stops talking. Where does she even start? “I tried calling Steve and Tony, but they didn’t pick up, and you were next on the list and uh… Please come pick Peter up from school? Something’s wrong. I can’t explain. Just please hurry.” 

There’s a slight pause before Sam responds. “I’ll be there ASAP.” The line drops.

MJ waits beside Peter. On the outside, Peter looks almost calm. The only thing visibly off about him is the deep void of nothingness present in his eyes. Ned walks outside and joins them about two minutes later.

A car pulls up ten minutes after the phone call, and Sam Wilson steps out of the car. He spots MJ and Peter before running over to them. “What’s going on? Pete?”

“We can’t get him to talk, sir. He… he threw a classmate across the room. Flash Thompson. He bullies Peter all the time, but… Peter would never just do that. I don’t know. It happened so fast.” MJ is speaking quickly, trying not to panic. 

“Flash is going to the hospital right now. He probably wasn’t seriously injured, but he might have a broken leg.” Ned keeps his eyes trained on Peter as he speaks.

Sam moves to lift Peter up, but MJ and Ned both rush to tell him off. Sam freezes, then asks “Peter? Pete, can I touch you? I want to help get you home.” Peter suddenly stands up by himself and moves toward the passenger seat of the car, almost looking like a robot. Sam hurries after Peter. He opens Peter’s door and Peter gets inside the car. “I’ll have Tony update you guys!” Sam calls to MJ and Ned.

Sam gets into the car and starts the engine. He looks over at Peter and is startled to see that Peter has fresh tears in his eyes. Peter’s face starts to break down into a sob. His mind begins to clear ever so slightly. So much for acting fine, huh? Peter barely remembers getting into the car. He barely remembers throwing Flash like a ragdoll. He barely remembers anything happening since his teacher… since first hour. 

Sam decides the best thing to do is get Peter to the Tower as quickly as possible. Steve and Tony had been held up in the briefing, everyone had been back barely twenty minutes when Sam got the phone call. Sam hopes that Steve and Tony will be out of their meeting by the time he gets Peter home.

Peter tries to hold his grip on reality the entire car ride back to the Tower. But his mind keeps drifting back, trying to fill in what the fuck had happened that morning. How had everything gone so wrong so fast. Apparently, Peter’s mind had slipped away again, because suddenly he’s in the elevator. Peter notices Sam is only a few inches from him, and Peter slides away.

The elevator doors open to a long hallway. Peter recognizes this as where the Avengers hold their mission meetings. Sam calmly tells Peter to follow him, before leading Peter towards a set of double doors on the left side of the hallway. Sam peaks his head in before telling Peter to wait outside.

Peter expects Sam to return, maybe with another Avenger. Maybe with Tony. Instead, Nick Fury steps out, looking pretty angry. Peter registers that Fury starts yelling at him, but the buzzing in his mind returns. Fury steps closer to Peter, too close. Peter is about to shove Fury away out of instinct, but then Steve steps in front of Peter, facing Fury. Steve and Fury back away from Peter and get into a shouting match, and then Peter feels a hand on his elbow.

Peter whips around and sees Tony. Peter relaxes just slightly and lets Tony lead him away from the absolute chaos. Sam, Steve, and Fury’s screams die down as the elevators close. Tony expects Peter to lean into his side. Instead, Peter takes a step away from Tony, but still grabs onto the sleeve of Tony’s jacket. 

Peter and Tony are in Peter’s room in the penthouse a few minutes later. Peter’s ears are ringing, and he knows he’s on the edge of a sensory overload. “Petey? It’s not your fault Fury was yelling, okay? He had no right to do that. He was in a bad mood. Sam wasn’t expecting that when he took you down there; he just wanted to get you to me quick.”

Peter knows Tony is saying something, but he can’t process whatever Tony is talking about. Peter can only focus on the ringing in his ears. Tony is still talking when Peter suddenly covers his ears, squeezes his eyes shut, and starts crying. Tony immediately recognizes what’s happening, and grabs Peter’s special headphones from where they sit on his desk. Tony gently sets them over Peter’s ears, before asking FRIDAY to close the window blinds and dim the lights.

Tony gets Peter to lay down, wanting to get Peter to relax. Tony goes to sit in Peter’s desk chair, and then waits. He hopes Peter will just fall asleep for a while, he knows the kid needs sleep. He’s worried about Peter. What the fuck is going on with his kid?

Peter doesn’t fall asleep. He props himself up about half an hour after he laid down. He keeps his headphones on, but looks at Tony. Tony looks up from his phone when he realizes Peter is moving around. Peter opens his mouth to say something, but then his face crumbles. Peter reaches his arms out to Tony, who rushes over and hugs Peter gently. Peter squeezes.

“Kid, what the hell. What is going on? Please just talk to me.” Tony runs his fingers through the back of Peter’s hair. Peter shakes his head and buries his face in Tony’s shoulder. “Pete, is it the videos? I just saw them. It’s horrible, but we can talk about it if you want?”

Peter shakes his head before muttering “N-not just videos. Didn’t know wh- where you were this morning.” Peter’s voice is shaky.

“Oh, Pete. I’m sorry. It was early, I didn’t want to wake you up before school. I figured you would be okay with FRIDAY telling you.” Tony feels immense guilt wash over him. “But what happened at school today?”

Peter pulls away from Tony and leans back against his bed frame, crossing his arms over his chest. “Nothin’. Too many senses. Flash was bugging me.” Peter pauses before telling Tony “I- He touched me. And I threw him across the room. No one saw besides Ned and MJ, but… I didn’t mean to…” A fresh set of tears roll down Peter’s cheeks. 

“Peter, of course you didn’t mean to. I understand it was an accident. Flash will probably be okay, and I will keep you updated with what I hear if you want?” Peter nods. “And call me the next time your senses go off, Pete. You can’t just ignore a sensory overload, kiddo.” Tony tries to make eye contact with Peter, but Peter keeps his eyes focused on his blanket in front of him. 

“Pete? I’m gonna go call May, okay? She won’t be mad, I promise. Then I’ll be right back and you can take a nap, okay?” Tony tries to talk to Peter, but Peter acts like Tony didn’t say a word.

Tony leaves the room to call May, then comes back a few minutes later. Peter is curled into himself crying. Tony feels helpless. He doesn’t know how to help, he just wants to make Peter’s pain go away. Tony sits down in the desk chair next to Peter’s bed and gently combs his fingers through Peter’s hair.

Peter tries to focus on the feeling, but his mind is completely centered on Mr. Re- first hour. Peter feels disgusting and vile and- and he needs to calm down before he has another panic attack in front of Tony. He seriously needs to pull himself together. Peter focuses on controlling his breathing, eventually drifting off into a light sleep. Tony continues carding his fingers through Peter’s brown curls.

Tony makes a promise to himself, and to Peter, that he is going to do his damn best to get to the bottom of what’s going on with his kid. He’s going to make sure that Peter is safe.