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Ghost Town

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Tony walks back through the door connecting his hotel room to Flash and Abe’s. He has just made sure that Flash and Abe are all ready to meet in the lobby, and now it’s time to get Peter ready. Tony notices that his kid looks extra tired, his movements sluggish and his eyes kind of zoned out. “Pete, bud. Are you all set to go? We have ten minutes until we have to be downstairs, and I want to leave in five.” This ‘responsible adult’ thing is kicking Tony’s ass.

Peter looks up from his phone and mumbles some form of yes. He gets up from his comfortable bed and sways for a second before heading towards the bathroom. He turns the bathroom vent on and hits his pen. He isn’t going to make it through another minute of this day sober. Peter looks in the mirror and notices how glassy and red his eyes look from his high. I’ll just wear my sunglasses and blame it on my senses.

Peter uses the bathroom and washes his hands, then opens the door. Tony is standing with Peter’s jacket, ready to go. Peter takes his jacket from the man’s hands and slips it on. Tony and Peter exit their hotel room; Flash and Abe are waiting for them in the hallway. The group of four begin to walk in slightly awkward silence toward the elevator to the lobby. Just stick with Tony, or Ned and MJ. You’ll be fine. You just can NOT leave them. 

This entire situation feels like a sick fucking joke to Peter. It’s entirely unrealistic that he would be able to stay next to his friends for the next… seven-ish hours? This isn’t going to work, and he’s a fool for thinking it cou-

Flash sticks a foot out in front of Peter, and Peter suddenly trips and falls hard onto the grey hallway carpet. He pushes himself onto his knees, Tony turns around to offer Peter help. But Peter sees the smirk on Flash’s face and decides to get up on his own. Tony had been walking in front of the teenagers, so he has no idea that Flash tripped Peter. The group begin walking toward the elevator again, and Flash throws Peter a smug look over his shoulder. Peter glares daggers at Flash. I am so fucking sick of this shit.

The four of them board the slightly small elevator, and Peter does his best not to tense up. Everyone is slightly closer than Peter would like them to be, but he has to avoid showing any form of discomfort. He can’t give Mr. Stark any reason to be concerned, any way to figure out what is going on with Peter. Well, I’ve already failed that. He has PLENTY of hints as to what is going on with me. Cover your tracks better, you idiot.

Peter’s eyes are beginning to hurt, and he remembers he wanted to put his sunglasses on anyways. He pulls them out of his jacket pocket and slips them over his eyes. Flash rolls his eyes at Peter behind Tony’s shoulder, silently mocking Peter wearing sunglasses inside. Peter ignores him, and waits for the agonizing elevator ride to be over.

When the doors open, the group of four step out of the elevator into the lobby. They see the rest of their class, and head over to meet them. Mr. Harrington motions Tony over towards where he, Mrs. Leeds, and Mr. Reese are standing. Tony tells Peter he’ll be right back, and heads over towards the chaperones. Peter immediately walks over to where MJ and Ned are talking together.

“Peter! Where were you earlier? Did you go on a quick Spider-Man run?” Ned sounds excited.

“What? No? That’s ridiculous. I was just… in the bathroom for a long time.” Well that is just about the lamest excuse I have ever come up with.

“Uh huh.” MJ quirks an eyebrow at Peter’s story.

“Anyways, are you guys excited for the science museum?” Peter tries to change the topic, and Ned and MJ apparently decide to be merciful. The trio of best friends begin talking about what they’re going to do at the Natural History Museum. Mr. Harrington calls the class to attention, interrupting about eight different conversations.

“Alright, class! Let’s head out the front doors, and board our bus! We will be at the museum within half an hour!” Everyone begins making their way out to the bus. Mr. Harrington and Mr. Reese lead the front of the group, and Mrs. Leeds and Tony make up the back. Peter is stuck in the middle of the large group with Ned and MJ. He feels slightly nervous about not being right at Tony’s side. Seriously? You’re fifteen. Grow up. 

Little does Peter know, but Tony is still keeping an eye on Peter while he chats with Mrs. Leeds. He figures that since Peter is a teen, he may want some space and time with his friends. So Tony keeps his distance for a few minutes. That distance is cut short when Peter sits next to Tony on the bus, his desire to be close to Tony winning over his desire to be a ‘mature teenager.’

The bus drives the Decathlon team to the museum, the trip taking just about half an hour due to the packed Los Angeles traffic. Everyone steps down the bus staircase, Mr. Reese doing a headcount of everyone. Tony walks down the staircase before Peter. When Peter walks passed Mr. Reese, he feels his teacher’s hand briefly touching his shoulder; Mr. Reese had pretended to simply be counting Peter for his headcount. 

Peter violently flinches away, and all but runs toward Tony. Tony doesn’t notice because he’s quickly texting May back that Peter had calmed down and that Tony would keep a super close eye on the teen. Peter reaches Tony, and quickly glances toward Mr. Reese. Mr. Reese throws Peter an evil smirk before turning his attention back to the last few students leaving the bus. 

Peter looks down at his feet. His heart is racing and his hands are shaking. Ned and MJ join Peter and Tony, and Peter hides his shaking hands in his jacket pockets. Tony finishes texting May just as Mr. Harrington begins leading everyone into the museum. The class walk into the main entrance of the museum, everyone looking around enthusiastically. 

MJ notices Peter looking slightly fidgety and offers him her hand. He instead grabs her jacket sleeve with both hands, appreciating the small gesture. Mr. Harrington stops everyone before they break up into groups. He tells them to be on their best behavior, and that they can go about the museum at their own pace. They have to be in groups of at least two, and to meet back in the lobby at 6:30 pm to head to dinner.

The class breaks up, heading off to explore the museum with their friends. Peter begins to walk away with Ned and MJ before realizing that Tony isn’t following them. He turns to see Tony talking to Mrs. Leeds. Tony notices Peter watching him, and Tony waves at Peter and motions for him to go explore the museum and have fun with Ned and MJ. Peter isn’t really keen to do this, but he doesn’t want to act weird and needy. So Peter walks away with Ned and MJ, still fidgeting with MJ’s sleeve.

The trio spend a lot of their time looking at all the dinosaur bones and fossils. MJ sits in the middle of a room filled with dinosaur skeletons and begins sketching. Peter and Ned walk around the room reading informational plaques while MJ draws. Peter is actually having a lot of fun studying the fossils with his friends. His anxiety is at an all time low right now, and his mind is completely zoned in on the museum and spending time with Ned and MJ.

Peter and Ned pose with a few different skeletons, taking goofy selfies of themselves. They laugh at a few of their pictures before resetting each other’s phone contact pictures with the new selfies. Maybe it’s the extreme high fogging up Peter’s mind, but he isn’t worried about a single thing right now. And he loves it.

MJ closes up her sketchbook, finished with drawing her “dinosaurs in crisis.” The friends move on to other exhibits in the museum. Peter’s phone begins vibrating in his pocket, so he pulls it out of his pocket to see… Blocked Caller ID . What?

Peter doesn’t answer his phone since he doesn’t know who’s calling. He doesn’t think anything of the call, so the next few minutes are spent enjoying the museum. Peter eventually feels his phone buzzing again, so he grabs it and sees that Tony is calling. Ned and MJ notice Peter has stopped walking, so they head back towards him to wait with their friend. Peter picks up the phone, curious about why Tony is calling him.

“Hey, kid. Checking in on you to make sure you’re okay.”

“Yeah, I’m actually doing great Mr. Stark! Glad the museum isn’t packed, it isn’t too loud for my hearing.”

“That’s great, Pete. Now, uh, where are you? I have something I need to talk to you about in private.” Peter’s anxiety shoots through the roof. Did I do something wrong? Is Mr. Stark mad at me?

“Uh- okay, Tony.” Peter tells Tony where he and his friends are in the museum. 

“Sounds good, Pete. Stay put. I’ll see you in a minute.”

Sure enough, Peter sees Tony about two minutes after the phone call. Tony doesn’t look overly happy, but he doesn’t look mad or anything.

“Hey Ned, MJ. Peter and I have some stuff to talk about, so we’ll catch up to you guys later, okay?” Tony doesn’t wait for a response, instead leading Peter off to a part of the museum that is empty of other people.

Peter immediately looks at Tony with worried eyes. “What’s wrong? Did I do something? I’m sorry-”

“What? No, Pete. You didn’t do anything. Did you just get a phone call from a blocked caller ID?”

“Uh- yeah…? I hung up, though.” Peter’s eyebrows knit together.

“So that was Fury. You just hung up on Nick Fury.” Tony chuckles. “We have a mission briefing tonight after everyone heads to bed. You and I have to meet Fury and some of his team at a location. Don’t worry about it, I know where to go. I don’t know the exact details, and I’m kind of annoyed about this since we’re on vacation.” Tony pauses, studying Peter’s face before continuing. “Anyways, I just wanted to make sure you’re up for this before dragging you into it?”

“Yeah, sure. I’m down for whatever.” Peter’s honestly surprised that Tony is even letting him do this. Whatever the mission is, it must be super important for Tony to be letting Peter help out on vacation. “Do you have any details you can share?”

“Not really. We’ll find out more when we meet with Fury. Now how about we go spend the last few minutes of the museum together before heading to dinner?” 

Peter nods his head excitedly at this. He and Tony find MJ and Ned rather quickly, and the group of four spend the next twenty minutes touring the museum before heading back toward the main entrance to meet the rest of the group.

Mrs. Leeds does a head count to make sure everyone is there, and then the group sets off for the bus. Everyone is feeling pretty hungry, especially Peter. Well of course I’m feeling hungry. I completely forgot to eat my granola bars.

Everyone takes their seats on the bus, and Tony laughs when Peter’s stomach rumbles. “What, did you not eat your snacks, Pete?” Tony jokes before frowning. Peter gives Tony a look that confirms Tony’s joke to be true. “Pete, come on. You know better than this. What if you had fainted or something? Next time I’m force feeding you your snacks.” Tony makes another joke, and this time Peter laughs.

Peter spends the next half hour on the bus showing Tony TikToks that Tony pretends to understand. He knows how much Peter loves TikTok, but Tony just does not get what is so funny about this sarcastic girl and her cat named “Pot Roast.” It doesn’t matter if Tony understands it, he’s just glad that Peter is happy.

The bus arrives at the restaurant and everyone lines up outside the front doors before being seated. The class are all sitting at tables on a large black outdoor patio. Peter sits down with Tony, MJ, Ned, Mrs. Leeds, and Betty. Ned and Betty are talking about… like ten different things. Peter decides he doesn’t even want to try and keep up with that conversation, so he instead talks about Star Wars trivia with MJ. 

Half an hour later, everyone is enjoying their dinner. Peter and MJ have changed topics to Disney villains, and Ned and Betty have joined the discussion. Tony and Mrs. Leeds watch the group talking so passionately about fake characters. 

Peter’s almost finished with his food. Everyone else is about halfway done, and struggling to eat any more than that. Suddenly a painful buzz shoots down Peter’s spine, and he turns around to see Mr. Reese staring at him. Mr. Reese quickly looks away, pretending not to notice Peter looking at him. Peter now feels sincerely creeped out, but turns around to try and forget about it. 

He sees Mr. Stark raise an eyebrow at him and mouth “Peter tingle?” Peter rolls his eyes at the stupid term, and shakes his head to let Tony know it’s nothing to worry about. Yeah, right. ‘Nothing to worry about.’

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter’s in the bathroom of his hotel room changing into his bathing suit. It’s about 9:00 pm and the class all have an until 10:00 pm to hang out at the pool. Peter’s tempted to hit his pen, his high having been gone for the past three hours. But he figures that Spider-Man probably shouldn’t be high during a mission briefing, especially in an unfamiliar city.

Peter walks out of the bathroom and throws on a t-shirt. Mr. Stark is ready to go, and he and Peter head up to the pool. When Peter gets there, he’s relieved to see Mr. Reese isn’t there. He notices Mr. Harrington isn’t either, and figures they’re probably in the hotel going over tomorrow’s plans. Mrs. Leeds sits in a lounge chair on her phone. 

Peter looks around for Ned and MJ before spotting them at the far end of the pool. Peter debates taking off his shirt before pulling it off. He’s always swam without his shirt, and he doesn’t feel like having Ned or Mr. Stark questioning him. He feels nervous with his shirt off around so many people, and pushes down the images of Mr. Reese threatening to fill his mind. 

Peter sets his shirt down on a chair along with his towel before walking over to MJ and Ned. He sits on the edge of the pool, his feet dangling in the water. The three friends simply discuss their favorite shows, enjoying the calmness of their little section of the pool. Peter points out the view of the city from the rooftop pool, and Ned and MJ swim across the pool toward the steps to get out of the pool and look.

Peter’s spidey-sense goes off and he whips around and grabs whatever is behind him before falling into the pool. Peter’s head emerges from the water, rapidly blinking the water from his eyes. He sees Flash right in front of him smirking. Peter realizes his hands are still on Flash’s arms and Peter lets go of Flash. Or, well, he tries to let go of Flash.

Peter realizes his fingers are stuck to Flash’s arms and begins to panic slightly. Normal people don’t get stuck to other people! Peter tries to focus on letting go of Flash, but his mind is also panicking at the feeling of someone so close to him, touching him.

“Parker, what the fuck? Let go of me, I was just joking! You’re being creepy!” Flash is glaring at Peter.

“I- I’m sorry, I’m trying!” 

“What the fuck do you mean you’re trying, Penis?”

Tony had looked up when Flash had pushed Peter into the pool. Then he noticed something was wrong when Peter and Flash came up from the water, and Tony ran over to where Peter and Flash were before jumping in.

Peter sees Tony appear next to him. Oh, thank God. 

Tony sets his hands on Peter’s shoulders to try and calm him, and speaks to Peter in a soft tone, gently telling Peter to let go. Tony ignores Flash’s confused looks, trying to get Peter to unstick as quickly as possible. Finally, Peter unsticks from Flash, and Flash swims away mumbling something about Peter being weird and touchy.

Tony gently grabs Peter’s wrists to ground him. Peter’s breathing is controlled for the most part, so Tony figures he got to Peter before a full blown panic attack.

“Hey, Tony. I’m okay.” Peter blinks more water from his eyes, his damp hair sticking to his forehead.

“You sure, Pete? We have a- yanno - in like an hour. I wanna make sure you’re okay to go. Are you feeling alright?” Tony looks into Peter’s eyes, searching for a sign of how Peter is feeling.

“Yeah, I’m actually okay. He just startled me. I really need to get my stickiness under control.” Peter laughs at how stupid that sentence sounds. 

Tony decides his kid is alright, and pats him on the shoulder before going back to his lounge chair. Peter is not alright, but he’s also been much worse. He swims to the edge of the pool and easily pulls himself out of the water, before going to stand with MJ and Ned to look out over the city lights.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Peter’s all suited up and ready to head out. He stands in the middle of his hotel room, waiting to leave. It’s just after 10:00 pm, so students are supposed to stay inside their own rooms now. Peter is bouncing on the balls of his feet, excited to swing through Los Angeles with Iron Man.

Tony stands next to Peter. “Hey, kid. Watch this.” 

Peter watches as Tony double taps on his fake arc reactor. An Iron Man suit encases Tony’s entire body. Tony reaches out his hands, testing out the feeling of the suit. 

“Well, let’s hope I don’t fall out of the sky or anything.” Tony jokes.

Peter doesn’t like this joke, and glares at Tony before realizing Tony can’t see his face. “Where to, Iron Man.” 

“Follow me, Spidey. Try to keep up.” Tony opens their hotel window- thank God it opens - and flies out the window. Peter slings a web to the nearest building and jumps out of the hotel room. He follows Tony through Los Angeles, swinging from building to building. This is so different from New York. People stop and point below as they see Spider-Man and Iron Man travelling through LA. 

About ten minutes later, Tony stops on a roof. Peter lands next to him. “What’s up, Mr. Stark?”

“I’m gonna have to carry you from here on out. Unless you wanna run across the desert hills?” Tony jerks a thumb in the northeast direction. Peter shakes his head, and runs across the roof and jumps, grabbing Tony’s metal hand as he flies right above Peter.

Peter’s arms are just beginning to ache when Tony slows down and begins to lower himself and Peter to the ground. They stand in the middle of… an empty desert. Tony’s Iron Man helmet disappears, revealing his face.

“Uh, Mr. Stark? There’s nothing here.”

Peter spoke too soon, because suddenly the ground is shaking. A building rises from the hard dirt ground about thirty feet away from Peter and Tony. The building is only one story, and it isn’t very big. Not to say the building is small, but Peter had been expecting some top notch massive base.

The door of the building opens, and Nick Fury materializes in the doorway. “Stark, Spider-Man. Come on.”

Tony and Peter walk into the building. Peter looks around the area. It’s about the size of a one story house, but it’s only made up of one room. A large table stands in the middle of the space. Six or seven people, probably agents working for Fury, are working on things around the room. Fury looks at Spider-Man. “You can lose the mask. You’re with allies. You’ll only be breathing through spandex for no good reason, kid.”

Peter looks at Tony, who nods at Peter, giving him permission to take it off. Peter pulls off his mask and grips it in his right hand.

Fury begins pointing at people around the room, quickly introducing them to Peter and Tony. Tony only recognizes Maria Hill from the bunch of agents. “And this is Mr. Beck.” Fury steps aside to reveal… holy shit. Red cape guy. 

“Mysterio?”

The man looks at Peter confused. “Uh, what?”

“Oh- uh. My class calls you that.” 

“Well, you can call me Quentin.” Quentin shakes Peter’s and then Tony’s hands. 

“You handled yourself well the other day with the water elemental, Peter. I saw you save your friends. We could use someone like you on my world.”

“Uh, thanks-”

Peter is cut off by Tony. “I’m sorry. Did you say your world?”

“Mr. Beck is from Earth. Just not ours. ” Fury answers. 

“There are multiple realities, Peter. This is Earth, Dimension 413. I’m from Earth 833.”

Peter feels the gears begin to rapidly spin in his head. “I’m sorry- are you actually saying there’s a multiverse!? Cause, like, I thought that was all just theoretical. That completely changes how we understand the initial singularity. We’re talking about an eternal inflation system and how does that even work with all the quantum-”

“Kid.” Tony breaks Peter from his train of thought. “Focus up.” Tony’s tone is strict, but his eyes twinkle with pride and amusement.

“S-sorry. It’s really cool.” Peter feels his cheeks heat up.

Quentin looks at Peter. “Don’t ever apologize for being the smartest in the room.” 

Peter smiles at the compliment, no longer feeling too embarrassed about his little quantum theory rant. 

“Anyway…” Maria Hill walks into the middle of the room toward the large table everyone is standing around. She hits a button and a hologram flickers to life above the table. The two monsters Peter had previously fought, along with a third one that Peter doesn’t recognize, are pictured. 

Quentin begins to explain about the monsters. “They were born in stable orbits within black holes. Creatures formed from the primary elements.” Quentin points at each one as he lists them off. “Earth, Water, and the last one… Fire. The Science Division had a technical name, but we just called them the Elementals.”

“Versions of them exist across our mythologies.” Hill provides.

“Well, it looks like the myths are real.” Tony states.

“Like Thor. Thor was a myth, and now I study him in school.” Peter says, studying the holographic images.

Fury looks around the group. “These myths are a threat.

Quentin continues to explain the Elementals. “They first materialized on my Earth many years ago. We mobilized and fought them, but with each battle they grew stronger. I was part of the last battalion left trying to stop them. All we did… was delay the inevitable.” He explains, deep sadness leaking into his voice.

Hill speaks up, “The Elementals are here now, attacking the same coordinates. Our satellites confirm it.”

“So thank Mr. Beck for destroying the first two. There’s only one left: fire.” Fury announces dramatically.

Quentin glares at the hologram. “The strongest of them all. The one that destroyed my Earth. It’s the one that took my family…”

Peter’s heart aches for the man’s loss. “I’m sorry.”

Hill looks at a tablet she’s holding. “It will be here in approximately sixteen hours.”

Fury looks at Peter and Tony. “And we have one mission: to kill it. We need your help.”

Tony looks slightly alarmed. “I’m sorry. Did you say sixteen hours? Right here? In Los Angeles?”

Peter looks at Tony. “My aunt is going to kill us. Should we call in the other Avengers?”

“They’re in Europe again, Pete. Our favorite gang of ice cream makers are possibly going to attack Prague tomorrow. They flew out two hours ago. I didn’t tell you because I didn’t want to worry you.” 

“We’re on our own, here. That’s why we need your help.” Fury says.

“What about my friends?” Peter worries. They could end up in the middle of the battle. 

Fury smirks. “We’ll take care of that. For now, get some rest. Prepare for tomorrow.”

Tony nods before grabbing Peter’s shoulder. “Mask up, kid. Say goodbye to your new friends.” Tony’s faceplate reappears over his head.

“Uh- bye, Mr. Beck! Bye everyone!” Peter calls before being pulled out the door by Tony.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Back at their hotel room, Peter is sitting on his bed in his pajamas. He’s being uncharacteristically quiet.

“What’re you thinking, kid? You up for this tomorrow?”

Peter nods, but doesn’t say anything.

Tony tries to reassure his kid. “I don’t think it’s anything you can’t handle, Petey. Otherwise you’d be on the next flight home to New York City. You’ll be safe with Me and Beck and you’ll be saving the world. ” 

“I know. I’m just worried about my friends. Plus, it’s a lot of pressure to try and save the entire world.”

“I know, Pete. God, do I know. But you can do this. And I’ll be right there with you. And Fury probably has an amazing plan for your friends. Anyways, try to get some sleep Pete.”

“I love you, Tony. Goodnight.”

Tony smiles. “I love you too, Pete.” He turns the light off.