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Ghost Town

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The next few days go by rather slowly. When May shows up, there’s lots of hugs and kisses and warmth added to the group; but there’s also an added amount of serious discussions and planning. Everyone spends their time either hanging out with Peter or coming up with plans for how to handle the situation back at the Tower. Many arguments ensue. 

One thing that is hardly argued over is May returning to Detroit. In fact, they hadn’t even gotten around to talking about what May planned to do until she brought up that she was planning on going back to Detroit. This surprises Tony tremendously, so he of course questions her as to why. May’s reasoning is essentially that Peter is in great hands and that her trust in Tony and the Avengers has grown substantially in the past six months. 

May doesn’t return to Detroit right away, though. She actually plans to stay an extra night in the Tower back in NYC. She now packs her bags in Peter’s hospital room. Peter is gathering up his own few belongings to pack into his suitcase. May offers to help Peter pack, but he quickly turns her down. No one has gone through his belongings yet, meaning no one has found his dab pen. Peter intends to keep things this way. 

Peter goes to the bathroom to change into his own clothes, leaving the door cracked open slightly. One new rule was “no closed doors” for Peter, not even the bathroom door. It’s so fucking stupid. Are they TRYING to make me more miserable? He re enters his hospital room, where May is just finishing up her packing. She turns and beams at her nephew, the sparkle in her eye mesmerizing. 

Peter knows the smile she wears is partly real, but he can also see where the authenticity ends. He knows she forces the grins on her face to be bigger and brighter. Maybe she hopes the smiles will rub off on me.  

Peter’s overly aware of the short sleeved t-shirt he wears. Tony had bought Peter this t-shirt at the Aquarium, and Peter decided to just throw it on. But now he realizes that the shirt does nothing to cover the white bandages on his arms. How did I not think of that? Seriously? But it’s too late now. His luggage no longer sits in the hospital room, presumably carried out to the waiting lobby. 

Peter sees May’s eyes dart to his wrists before looking away. “You know, you don’t have to wear the banda-” May starts, but Peter cuts her off. 

“I know they’re healed. It’s just… I don’t want to take them off yet.” His voice is soft, he’s hardly spoken since he told Tony about Reese. May nods, then offers an encouraging smile to Peter. He doesn’t smile back, instead walking out of the room. 

May hesitates before following Peter out of the room. She feels guilty; she hadn’t meant to upset her nephew. She had been trying to… empower him? To let him know that no one would judge him? Maybe it’s too soon for that…

The Avengers, Ned, and MJ all stand in the waiting room. Peter sees his suitcase and bag sitting next to the group. He shoulders his backpack and grabs his suitcase handle then waits for the group to depart. Everyone pretends not to notice Peter’s bandages. Or at least… it seems like they pretend not to notice. Maybe they just don’t want to make me uncomfortable? Or am I overreacting about myself…? Wait- what does that even mean? Peter’s shaken from his thoughts when everyone begins to make their way out of the hospital.

A few hours later, everyone sits on the private Stark Industries jet. Steve plays Sudoku, Tony sometimes offering his help when he glances over. Natasha and Clint are speaking in sign language, telling each other funny stories. May reads a book on her phone. Bruce isn’t on the jet, instead flying in the Quinjet with the medical team to discuss the beginning plans of what medicines they may need to modify for Peter. 

Thor sits with Ned, MJ, and Peter as the trio teach him how to play Mario Kart on Ned’s Switch. Ned and MJ are doing most of the talking, Peter preferring just to watch quietly. Thor is surprisingly good at Mario Kart considering he’s never actually touched a video game console, taking fourth place by his third race. 

By the time the jet is landing in Newark, New Jersey, Thor has beaten Ned and MJ about four times. The two teenagers are completely stunned by how well the god picked up the game, and congratulate his victory with the promise of a rematch. Everyone gathers their things and unloads themselves from the jet.

When they reach the main entrance of the airport there’s two large black SUVs waiting for them. Ned and MJ hug Peter goodbye, promising to text him later that evening, before entering an SUV that is ready to take them home. Everyone else piles into the other car, putting most of their luggage in the trunk. 

“Couldn’t have gotten a second car, Stark?” Thor jokes lightheartedly, barely managing to squeeze into the car.

“I figured we would be fine! I don’t know why I figured that, but I did!” Tony sighs exasperatedly. 

Peter smirks slightly, amused at the interaction.

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When the Tower comes into sight, Peter’s heart is flooded with relief at the safety and familiarity. It’s so good to be back. I didn’t think I missed it this much… A small voice in the back of his head also reminds him that he hadn’t exactly expected to ever see it again…

The relief only intensifies when Peter steps out of the elevator into the penthouse, the familiar smells and feelings of the large apartment washing over him. Peter’s prepared to take his bags to his room, but Tony stops him. 

“We can get these in a minute, buddy. I think you should go look in the kitchen.” Tony points towards the kitchen doorway. 

Peter frowns at Tony, but walks toward the direction Tony points in. A small yet genuine smile lights up Peter’s face when he sees what awaits him in the kitchen. Pepper, Wanda, Vision, Sam, and Bucky all surround the kitchen island, where a cake is sitting in the middle. No words sit on the desert, it’s simply decorated with blue and red flowers. 

“It’s themed after you, young Spider!” Thor says behind Peter.

Peter rolls his eyes and walks further into the kitchen. He now notices the red and blue streamers that hang around the kitchen. This… is a little weird? But also kinda fun and thoughtful I guess? Peter decides he likes what’s happening here, and goes along for the ride.

Everyone spends the next hour or so enjoying cake and spending time together. Bucky spends the majority of this hour catching up with Peter, focusing all of his attention on the teen. This only comes to an end when Wanda squeezes herself into the conversation to try and check up on Peter herself.

The whole event is fun, but exhausting. Peter quietly sneaks away to his room the second no one is talking to him. His bags are already sitting in his room when he enters. Peter looks about his bedroom, taking it all in. He really had forgotten how much he loves his room, his safe space. He jumps up onto the ceiling and hangs upside down, forgetting his worries to try and rest for a few minutes.

This is short lived when Tony all but runs into Peter’s room. Peter’s eyes snap open and he turns to face the door. “Something wrong, Tony?”

Tony’s eyes are filled with worry, and he takes a second to assess the situation before seemingly deciding that- What, that I’m not slitting open my wrists? Tony is opening his mouth to speak, but Peter speaks first.

“Wait, are you kidding me? I’m in here for two minutes and you just assume that I’m trying to off myself?” Peter knows he shouldn’t be angry at Tony for being concerned, seeing as Tony has good reason to be. But that doesn’t mean Peter doesn’t hate being treated like a child.

“I- what? No, Pete-”

“Oh my God! You do!” Peter drops down from the ceiling, easily landing on his feet. “You don’t need to treat me like I’m five years old, you know!” He glares at Tony, his voice slightly raised.

“Peter, let’s take a deep breath. I just wanted to quickly check on you, alright?” Tony says gently. Peter is about to speak again, but Tony interrupts him, putting a hand up. “Hey. My turn, kid. You snuck away from that party, and I just wanted to ask if you were tired or if you wanted to do movie night? Entirely up to you.”

Peter feels slightly guilty for yelling. Tony is still treating him like a child, but not as badly as Peter had automatically assumed he would. “Oh, um. I’m sorry.” 

“Nothing to be sorry for, Petey. So are we too tired for a movie tonight? We can always do it later.” Tony steps toward Peter, and raises his arms as a gesture for a hug.

Peter automatically steps into Tony’s comforting embrace. “Too tired. Maybe tomorrow night?” 

“Sure thing, kiddo.” Tony continues hugging his kid. “Oh, don’t worry about school for the next few weeks. You’ve been cleared for time off. No school work or anything.”

“Oh. Cool, I guess.” Peter steps away and sits on his bed. 

“Gee, don’t get too excited. Well, I guess the next few weeks won’t be exciting exactly. I’m telling you right now, they’re going to be hard. But we will get through this together. Always.” Tony sits next to Peter, but gives him space.

“What, um, should I expect the next few weeks.” Peter picks at his fingernails, trying to quell his anxiety at the coming topic.

Tony shifts his position on the bed. “Well, uh… We have you set up with our therapist and psychiatrist. That’s going to start in a few days. No alone time, at all. Well, you’ll kind of have alone time at night, but FRIDAY will be watching you the whole night. Oh, she’s in your bathroom now-” Peter goes to protest, but Tony quickly continues. “No cameras or anything, she just records your vitals and can speak in the bathroom. We were hoping this would give you more privacy than someone being with you 24/7.” 

Peter considers this before deciding it’s the best option for the shitty situation. “Okay. I guess.” Still don’t like it. “What else in the next few weeks?”

“When you’re ready, you and I are going to sit down to discuss legal things, legal actions. But not until you are sure you’re ready, Petey. We go at your pace.” Tony does his best to reassure the nervous teen. “We’re also going to have lots of fun, right? Movie nights, favorite dinners, lab time. Pretty much anything you want to do. I, for one, am really looking forward to the fun parts.”

Peter laughs lightly. “I guess I am, too… But, um…” Peter’s voice trails off. He’s unsure how to put his next thoughts into words.

“But what, kiddo?” Tony gently questions.

“I, uh. Just nervous about the harder parts, I guess. They’re really, really going to suck, yanno?” Peter keeps his gaze trained on his hands in his lap.

“I know, Petey. Which is why everything will go at your pace, and why we get to do extra fun stuff. Everyone will be here for you, and you can always let us know if you need a break from the tough shit. We’re all on your side, Pete.” Tony wraps an arm around Peter.

Peter leans his head against Tony’s shoulder. “I know…” A pause, followed by a quiet, “Thank you.”

Tony looks at the teen. “For what?”

“For saving me. For being there for me… for everything, I guess… I didn’t actually want to die, Mr. Stark. I just wanted the pain to stop. I just wanted to be free.” Peter’s voice fills with emotion, his vision blurs with tears.

“I know, Petey. I know… We’re going to do our absolute best for you to be happy and safe again, free from the pain. You deserve it, Pete.” Tony kisses the top of Peter’s forehead. “Now, get some sleep. We’ll plan the day tomorrow when you wake up, okay? It’ll be super fun.”

“Sure thing, Tony.” Peter says. “Um- can you stay, please? Until I fall asleep, at least.”

Tony smiles at the young boy. “Of course, kiddo.”

Peter falls into a light sleep, his nerves kicking up about the coming weeks. He’s only able to fall asleep because Tony watches over him, and Peter is grateful for that.