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Ghost Town

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Peter wakes up on his ceiling. He’d made it through most of the night with no nightmares, but now here he is: stuck on the ceiling, heart racing, sweating. Luckily, the alarm clock reads 5:25 and is going to go off in five minutes anyways. Thank God MJ didn’t make us get up at 4:30. MJ is sitting up in her bed searching for her phone for light. She shines her flashlight on Peter and squints.

“The fuck are you doing up there?” MJ asks quietly. She shines her light slightly away from Peter so that it isn’t directly in his eyes.

“I- I had a nightmare. I’m uhm..” Peter mumbles something that MJ can’t understand.

“You’re what, Peter?”

“I’m stuck. It happens sometimes when I’m nervous.” 

A head pokes into the bedroom doorway. “What is going on in here?” The head seems to belong to Steve, judging by the voice. Steve always gets up around 5:30 am, so Peter isn’t that surprised that he’s awake.

MJ points to Peter on the ceiling, and Steve’s gaze turns upwards. “Oh. Are you stuck again?”

“Wait, this has, like, happened before?” MJ snorts.  

Peter scowls down at MJ and Steve. “Thanks, Cap’n. And, yes. I am stuck again. Can you get Mr. Stark?”

Steve laughs before going to get Tony. Peter looks at MJ. “Can you, like, go get ready or something? Please?”

MJ assents, turning the lights on in the bedroom. Then she grabs her clothes for the day and goes to take a shower in Peter’s bathroom. Peter waits on the ceiling above his bed, trying to calm down from his nightmare. Maybe I can unstick myself before Tony gets here?

No luck, because Tony and Steve walk through the door a moment later. Tony blinks blearily, trying to become more alert. He follows Steve’s gaze to Peter on the ceiling. Tony smiles, but doesn’t laugh. He figures Peter’s embarrassed enough. He does, however, silently think that it’s adorable that Peter is pouting while stuck on the ceiling. Steve presses a kiss to Tony’s head before going to cook breakfast.

“Good morning, spiderling. Nightmare?” Peter nods. “Alright, kid. Can I touch you?” Peter says yes, and Tony gets onto Peter’s bed. He reaches up and starts massaging Peter’s shoulders, trying to ground Peter while also relaxing him. Thank God I sent MJ into the bathroom. I forgot how embarrassing this looks.

Peter does begin to relax, though. He focuses on Tony’s soothing voice telling Peter about how much fun they’re going to have in LA. Peter knows Tony is trying to distract him enough for him to let go of the ceiling, and it’s working. After a few minutes, Peter falls and Tony jumps off the bed to avoid being hit. Peter softly lands on his bed.

Peter lays still where he fell for a moment, keeping his eyes trained on the ceiling. His hands stick to his blankets, but this time he only struggles for a few seconds before unsticking himself. Tony watches, and raises an eyebrow at Peter. “So, real bad nightmare, then?”

Peter nods, but doesn’t elaborate. Tony wants to ask Peter about the nightmare, but decides against it. Pushing Peter to talk hasn’t worked so far. Maybe Steve is right, and Tony needs to wait for Peter to come to him. Patience is not one of Tony’s strong suits, but he’ll do his best for Peter. Tony pats the top of the teen’s head before walking out of the room to get ready.

Peter gets up from his bed and quickly grabs his wax pen as MJ walks out of the bathroom, fully dressed for the day. Peter gathers his own clothes and walks into the bathroom. Peter turns the shower on and pulls out his pen from where it sits in his pocket. He switches on the bathroom fan for better circulation, just to ensure that there’s no smell of marijuana. 

Once in the shower, he begins drawing long hits, centering in on the burn in his lungs. This continues for a few minutes before Peter closes his eyes. He takes another hit, holding it in and then breathing out. He sways back and forth, the early morning high washing over him. He hadn’t been planning on waltzing around LA while high with his high school Decathlon team and Tony, but here he was. Peter decides he won’t ever make it through this trip sober. 

Peter stays in the shower as long as he possibly can before getting out. He gets dressed and ready for the trip, continuing to hit his pen. Sometimes he really hates how hard he has to try to get a high. Stupid fucking metabolism.

Peter finally has to put his pen back in his pocket and leave the safety of his bathroom. He opens the door and throws his dirty laundry in his clothes hamper. MJ isn’t in the room, so Peter goes back to the bathroom to grab his razor and hide it in his luggage. But then he realizes it will set off the airport security. You’ve gotta be shitting me. Peter goes to his desk and grabs out a small handheld pencil sharpener.

He finishes packing up everything, then double checks that nothing sketchy will be found if the Avengers decide to snoop through his room while he’s gone. Satisfied with the results of his room, Peter places his suitcase on the ground, grabs his backpack, and heads out to the kitchen. 

Peter sets down his luggage outside the elevator before heading into the kitchen. MJ is helping Steve finish making breakfast, and Tony is hogging the coffee pot for himself. Tony getting up this early is usually unheard of. Definitely not a morning person.   

Peter sits at the kitchen island, and Tony hands him a cup of coffee. Peter is confused for a second, before he realizes this is Bucky and Steve’s ‘super soldier’ coffee. Peter forces down the coffee, he’s never been overly fond of the drink. But this is going to be a long day filled with activities and jet lag, so he finishes his mug. Tony pours him another mug as Steve and MJ sit down at the table with breakfast. Tony and Peter grab their own plates of food from the buffet-style setup on the kitchen counter.

Everyone eats their food in relative silence, but Tony has FRIDAY playing the news on a holographic screen above the kitchen island. Peter notices it’s the news for the LA area, rather than NYC. Probably trying to make sure we aren’t going to have to go superhero mode.

Peter’s suspicions are confirmed when Tony looks over at him and asks, “Hey, kid. Did you pack your suit?”

“Uh, no? This is kind of a vacation, yanno?”

“I realize that, Pete. But just in case something happens, I want you to pack your suit. It’s for your own safety, bud.” Tony takes a bite of his breakfast.

Peter frowns at his father figure. “Well then where’s your suit?”

Tony unzips his jacket and taps a- is that an arc reactor? Peter gives Tony a look of confusion. “Um, what’s that?”

Tony smirks before answering. “This is a prototype suit. Nanotech. It isn’t actually an arc reactor, it’s just a housing unit for the nanotech.” 

Peter and MJ look at each other in shock. “That’s pretty cool, sir.” MJ says.

“Thanks. It’s definitely not a finished suit, though. Just seemed like the easiest suit to take on the trip, and it’s only a backup for if something does go wrong.” Tony stands up from the kitchen island, his plate empty. “Are we all almost ready to go? Pete, go get your suit.” 

Peter rolls his eyes, but complies. He returns with his suit in his hand and stuffs it into his suitcase. The group gather their luggage, except for Steve who is driving them to the airport. They try to pile into the elevator, but don’t manage to fit. Peter’s mind comes up with the brilliant idea of him and his backpack sticking to the elevator ceiling. So, with Peter squished above everyone else, they barely manage to fit.

 “Jesus, I really need to make this thing bigger.” Tony sighs. Peter’s drugged mind finds this quite funny, and he giggles.

Steve looks over to his husband. “Do you remember that time when we all piled into the elevator but Hulk didn’t fit?” Tony smirks at the memory.

The elevator doors open and Steve, MJ, and Tony maneuver themselves out of the elevator. Peter drops down, sways on the spot from the world suddenly spinning, then grabs his suitcase handle before following everyone else. The group of four fit more comfortably in the large SUV, and Steve begins driving off toward Newark Liberty National Airport.

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About thirty minutes into entering the airport, Peter had come close to a sensory overload. Tony is really beginning to regret giving Peter four mugs of super-coffee, since it probably hadn’t helped Peter deal with the bright lights and loud noises. Peter is now lightly dozing on Tony’s shoulder, sunglasses over his eyes and his noise-cancelling headphones playing soft Lofi music.

Tony sees Flash glancing over jealously every once in a while. At one point, Tony’s pettiness wins over and he waves at Flash before wrapping an arm around Peter’s shoulder. Peter snuggles in closer to Tony, falling into a deeper sleep. MJ and Ned sit on the opposite side of Tony from Peter, both of them talking about things they want to see in LA in their free time.

Ten minutes to departure, Mr. Harrington gathers everyone to lead them to the airplane. Tony gently wakes Peter up, and realizes Peter is pretty out of it. Sensory overload is a real bitch sometimes. Peter stands up but continues to lean against Tony, letting the older man guide him. 

Peter doesn’t remember boarding the plane, so suddenly he’s sitting in the window seat next to Tony, with Ned on the opposite side of Tony. MJ sits with Betty and another girl across the aisle. She sees Peter’s sunglasses pointed towards her and waves. Peter gives a small smile back. 

Tony sees that Peter’s more alert. “Hey, kid. How are you doing?” 

Peter shrugs his shoulders. “Still feel like shit. The lights are still bright, but the noise is better.”

“You can just keep resting then, Petey.”

Peter agrees with this idea, and leans his head back against Tony. Peter feels Tony’s warmth against him and realizes how content he feels right now. The only reason he feels this safe is probably because he has managed to avoid Mr. Reese entirely so far. Peter snuggles deeper into Tony’s side, and falls asleep. 

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Kisses press against his neck, his collarbone, his chest. Peter doesn’t like it, he doesn’t want this. He feels hands tug at his hair before trailing down across his chest. The hands pin his wrists down- wait. Hands are actually pinning Peter’s wrists down.

Peter flinches awake to someone quietly whispering to Peter. Peter winces away from the person before his brain catches up to the situation. Tony sits next to him, holding his wrists down against the seat.

“Peter? Bud, you were having a nightmare. It’s okay, Pete.” Tony’s voice is soothing, and Peter tries to focus on it. Tony lets go of Peter’s wrists, noticing how uncomfortable the teen looks. His heart hurts knowing he’s the one that made Peter feel uncomfortable. “Hey, kiddo. I didn’t want you ending up on the ceiling again, I’m sorry.” Tony whispers. 

Peter glances around the plane, then curls into his seat. A few of his team members and other plane members were throwing weird looks in his direction. “Was I being super obvious?”

“Well, not super obvious, Pete. But yeah, a few people noticed you panicking in your sleep a little. Don’t worry about it, it’s not your fault.” Tony keeps his distance from Peter in his own seat, not wanting to upset the young teen. “You okay, Petey?”

Peter’s answer is to reach out his arms to Tony like a toddler. Tony laughs lightly before trying to hug Peter in the small airplane seats. Peter settles back against Tony’s side, but doesn’t go to sleep this time. Instead, he and Tony watch a movie on the little TV. Tony makes sure the movie is playing quietly in their headphones, not wanting to hurt Peter’s fragile senses.

And that’s how the rest of the flight goes- Tony, Peter, and eventually Ned watching a few lighthearted Disney movies. Peter smiles at the small warm feeling in his chest.