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Ghost Town

Chapter Text

Peter looks out the window at the dark, cloudy sky. The weather forecast Peter read earlier this morning had predicted cold weather, sure. It was early January after all. But his weather app hadn’t shown anything about a stormy, overcast sky. Peter is tempted to pull out his phone and quickly recheck the weather when the final bell rings, signifying the end of another sluggish school day.

The students in Peter’s Advanced Biology class begin collecting their belongings. Peter grabs his binder, his green Bio notebook, and his water bottle and begins rushing toward the door. He can hardly contain his excitement as he makes his way to his locker. Friday means staying overnight at Avengers Tower and working in the lab with Tony. This Friday was extra special. Peter would be staying with Tony for the next six weeks while May took a special nursing class in Detroit.

Peter haphazardly shoves his school supplies into his dark blue backpack. “Hey, Peter!” Ned exclaims as he walks up behind Peter. The duo perform their signature handshake before continuing their conversation.

“I was wondering if you’re gonna be back to your apartment tomorrow? I’ve been working on coding this new program on my laptop, and was just wondering if you wanted to check it out?” Ned asks.

“Oh, I’m gonna be with Mr. Stark for the next month or so. May’s got that nursing thing, remember? Sorry, dude.” Peter answers Ned, and then closes his locker. The boys start walking towards the front doors of their high school.

“Man, that’s totally fine! Hey, you still have to try and convince Mr. Stark to let me come over to the tower. Even just for a few hours!” Ned had been trying to get into the tower since Peter had started heading over there every weekend.

“Ned, I’m sure Mr. Stark will tell me to invite you over soon enough.” Peter laughs. Ned lets out a huff of impatience at Peter’s reluctance to ask Mr. Stark for any favors.

Ned and Peter say goodbye to each other at the front entrance of the school. Peter begins his walk to the tower. Happy picked Peter up from school for a while before Peter finally convinced him that the walk was no problem for a spiderling such as himself. Well, it wasn’t a problem except for Peter’s inability to thermoregulate as well as a non-enhanced person. Damn you, spider genes!

Despite being cold, Peter enjoys his weekly walks to the tower. The fifteen minutes it takes to walk from Midtown High to the Tower are spent in deep thought. Sometimes Peter thinks about homework, sometimes he thinks about a TikTok he saw four days ago. A downside of thinking about such captivating things was that Peter hardly paid attention to what was going on around him.

A shout to his right startles Peter. He snaps his head in the direction of the yell and starts running toward the source. Peering around a corner, Peter sees a disoriented young woman being shoved up against an alleyway by a very tall, very large middle aged man. The girl is crying while the man touches her. Inappropriately.

Peter’s vision tunnels. His knees grow weak, and he feels the air crush out of his lungs. He moves to go help, but feels like he’s frozen. A police officer rushes down the alley with his gun pointed at the young woman’s assaulter. Peter regains some semblance of reality and begins stumbling away from the commotion, towards the tower. He still has roughly ten minutes until he arrives at the front entrance.

Peter spends the rest of the walk trying to focus on anything but the scene he just witnessed. He’s barely managing to hold in his lunch when he walks through the doors of the Tower. The receptionist smiles at Peter, recognizing him as Tony Stark’s personal intern. Peter barely acknowledges her before turning down the hallway that leads to the private elevator. Peter doesn’t remember entering the elevator, but suddenly he’s on the Avengers’ communal floor.

The elevator doors open, revealing the spacious kitchen that THE Avengers use. Normally, Peter would feel proud of being a part of the domestic setting the kitchen has to offer. On a regular Friday, Peter would grab a snack and ask FRIDAY where Mr. Stark was. If he was lucky enough, Steve or Sam would be in the kitchen, ready to listen to whatever happened to Peter at school that day.

Today, however, Peter sidesteps the kitchen altogether. He instead rushes to the left, journeying to the end of the long hallway that leads to his private room. Peter shuts the door behind him and throws his backpack at the foot of his bed. Peter sits on the edge of his bed for a few minutes, attempting to take normal breaths. His head is cloudy and unfocussed. When it becomes clear that he isn’t going to naturally calm himself down, he heads to his private bathroom.

Peter feels underneath the inside of the bathroom sink and grabs what he’s searching for. He holds a small razor blade in between his fingers. Good thing FRIDAY isn’t programmed in the bathrooms, huh Parker? Peter thinks to himself. He takes off his thick jacket and rolls up the sleeve of his crew-neck before swiping the blade against his skin. He swipes more than once. Peter cuts his skin until he can breathe again, until he can think clearly.

A distant knock on Peter’s bedroom door startles him. The soft knocking could only be heard from the closed bathroom thanks to his enhanced hearing. Peter hides his razor and rolls down his sleeve before exiting the bathroom. He throws his jacket across his desk chair and slowly goes to open the bedroom door.

Tony stands on the other side of the door, his fist raised in anticipation of knocking on the door again. “Hey, Underoos! I was wondering why you hadn’t come down to the lab yet?”

Peter looks up at Tony and forces a smile. “I was just dropping off my winter coat so I didn’t have to take it down there with me.”

Tony gives Peter an odd look that he can’t quite place. “Well, get a snack and then come down when you’re ready, okay? And don’t forget that snack. I mean it! No spider-babies passing out in my lab with their super metabolisms!” Peter rolls his eyes and tells Mr. Stark he'll be down in a few minutes.

Tony walks away, leaving Peter by himself again. Peter makes his way back to the bathroom and looks in the mirror. Peter realizes his cheeks are blotchy and his eyes are slightly red. I was crying? No wonder he gave me a weird look. I look so weak and stupid-

Peter makes sure the bathroom is spotless before leaving his bedroom. He walks down the hallway into the kitchen. No one’s in there at the moment. Peter hesitates for a minute, considering what to grab for a snack. He realizes he isn’t hungry. Peter isn’t just not hungry, the thought of eating at the moment actually makes his stomach turn. Peter decides against grabbing a snack and makes his way to the elevator.

Once at the lab doors, Peter enters the passcode to Tony’s private lab. Tony is inside listening to AC/DC at seemingly full volume. He looks up when Peter is a decent way into the room and smiles. “Ready to get to work? I was thinking we could work on making the spidey-suit bulletproof. Lord knows May would kill me if you get shot. That’s not something I want on my agenda any time soon.” Tony jokes and gets up from where he’s sitting.

Peter makes an attempt at a smile, thinking it was good enough to throw Tony off of Peter’s behavior earlier. Wrong. Tony looks at Peter a second too long before asking “Hey, kiddo. You feeling okay? We can just go upstairs and watch a movie if you aren’t feeling in the zone to-”

“Mr. Stark, I’m just fine.” Peter interrupts, a false smile plastered on his face. He even lets out a chuckle for good measure.

“Well if you’re sure..” Mr. Stark claps Peter on the shoulder and squeezes before turning around towards an empty work space. Peter clutches the nearest table. He shuts his eyes and suddenly -Hands are on him and touching him and he’s crying but the hands don’t care. The hands say he’ll learn to like it. They’re only playing a game after all. Aren’t the hands Peter’s friend? Isn’t Skip Peter’s frie-

Peter breathes and realizes he had grabbed the metal table so hard there were finger-shaped dents in the table.

“Alright, Underoos. Hope you brought the su- Peter!? Pete, what’s wrong kiddo. Talk to me.” Tony walks towards Peter and squeezes Peter’s shoulders.

Peter flinches harshly at the touch before stepping away. “It’s nothing Mr. Stark. I just di-didn’t grab a snack, um, like I meant to. I forgot.”

Tony eyes the teenager. “Well, I think today is feeling like more of a movie day anyway. It’s only 4:00 right now so how about we go upstairs and decide on what restaurant to order in from tonight, alright? We can start Avengers movie night early tonight.” Tony leads Peter upstairs to the kitchen.

Sam and Bucky are seated at the large island in the kitchen arguing about… something weird and complicated. Steve is standing off to the side watching the argument from afar. Tony walks up to Steve and wraps an arm around Steve’s back. Steve presses a kiss to Tony’s head before turning around and seeing Peter. “Hey, Peter. How was school today?”

“It was okay. Had a test in Calc.” Peter keeps his eyes on the kitchen island.

Every adult in the room glances at each other, Bucky and Sam even bothering to pause in their bickering to notice the lack of enthusiasm in the normally energized teen. Usually, Peter would’ve talked their ears off about every single thing that had happened in the past week of school. Today, he summed up his week in two bland sentences.

Natasha, Rhodey, and Clint make their way into the kitchen from training a few minutes later. The assembled group begin discussing what movie they might want to watch later. Wanda and Vision enter the room after a while, Bruce trailing along just a minute later. Everyone decides on the Lego Movie, because Peter loved that movie and the team was worried about him.

Peter pays no attention to the conversation going on around him. He’s too engulfed in his own thoughts. He feels ashamed of himself for not doing more to help that girl earlier. Sure he was in Peter Parker mode, and the cop got there quickly. But Peter could’ve stopped it quicker. If it wasn’t for your stupid, broken brain, you would be acting fine around everyone instead of making them worry. Or maybe they don’t even notice at all. Maybe they don’t care-

“Peter!” Tony says. Peter can tell this isn’t the first time Tony has said his name to get his attention. “Hey, bud. We were wondering if Thai food sounded good for tonight? I’ll make sure to get your broccoli and that sauce. You’ve got that whole vegetarian thing goi-”

“Sure, Mr. Stark. Sounds great.” Peter cuts Tony off, knowing Tony rambles when he’s nervous. Peter tries to look enthused. The team doesn’t seem to give him any weird looks so he figures he succeeds.

Tony leaves the kitchen to call and order practically half the restaurant, considering he’s feeding Steve, Bucky, and Peter’s enhanced metabolisms. The team share a look before wandering over to the living room, leaving Sam and Peter alone in the kitchen.

“Hey, Pete. Just checking in to make sure today’s going okay?” Sam is of course pretty good at talking to people and getting them to open up. He was concerned about Peter’s hunched shoulders and the distant look in Peter’s eyes. It was like Peter was almost living in the past at the moment.

“Yeah, everything’s fine, Sam. I’m just hungry and tired after a long day of school.” Peter gets up from the island and starts walking over to where the team is sitting in the large living room.

The rest of the night goes by with everyone enjoying Thai food and laughing at the Lego Movie. Peter even manages to eat a decent amount of Thai food, his nerves having settled down. They watch a few more light hearted movies before everyone calls it a night around 11:00. The team gets up, everyone stretching and gathering their own pillows and blankets to head off to their own rooms. Peter says goodnight to everyone before walking with Tony down to Peter’s room.

“Hey, Pete. I’m just making sure you know that if anything’s ever goin’ on, or if you just wanna talk to somebody, that anyone on the team is willing to listen. Alright, bud.” Tony studies Peter’s face, searching for any sign of what’s going on in Peter’s head.

"Yeah, Mr. Stark. I know. I’m just really tired, so I’m gonna go to sleep. I promise.” Peter looks up at Tony and gives his best fake smile.

“Alright kiddo. Goodnight.” Tony ruffles Peter’s curly hair before heading off towards his own room.

Peter closes his bedroom door behind him and launches himself on to his bed. His flashbacks from earlier hadn’t entirely stopped. Peter could tell it was going to be a very rough night. He probably wouldn’t get any sleep at all. Peter changes into his pajamas before pulling out his phone and laying back on his bed. Peter starts to fall asleep, listening to the New York City traffic and the beginnings of a snow storm outside.

Chapter Text

A thunderstorm was blowing in on an August evening, 2009. Peter had turned eight years old just a few weeks prior. He was nervous about the thunderstorm, but his babysitter was there to keep him company. Ben and May had gone out for date night, leaving Peter with his older friend Skip.

Skip had promised last Wednesday to bring over his brand new Iron Man comics, and he hadn't disappointed Peter that evening. The two were currently sitting up against Peter’s twin sized bed, perusing the colorful pages of the comic book. Peter was so excited to be reading about Iron Man, the newer (and awesome) superhero.

Peter finished the second comic book and turned to Skip, expecting to be handed the third comic book Skip had brought over. Instead, Peter was handed a… well, it wasn’t a comic book. But it did have pictures. A shirtless man that looked nothing like Iron Man was on the cover of the book.

Peter looked up at Skip, a confused expression featured on Peter’s face. Skip smiled down at Peter. “Open it, Einstein. It has some really fun pictures in it that I would like you to look at.”

Peter was quite confused, but Skip was Skip, which meant he knew what he was doing. He must have known Peter would like this comic too, right? Peter opened the “comic” and turned the pages that contained pictures of naked people. Peter felt uncomfortable, but continued to look at the pictures per Skip’s words of encouragement. 

Peter finally stopped turning pages and looked up at Skip. “This isn’t Iron Man, Skip. I don’t know why you’re showing me this comic?”

Skip smiled and said “I want to play a game, Einstein. It’s a game friends play all the time. You and I are gonna try and be the people in the comic… kinda like we’re the superheroes. You wanna play with me?”

Peter didn’t want to play that game, but wanted to earn Skip’s approval. So Peter nodded his head, agreeing to play the odd game with Skip. 

It started with the two in separate poses, Skip helped Peter into the positions every once in a while. Skip would then take a picture or two of Peter on his Polaroid camera, and tucked the pictures into Skip’s backpack.

Peter grew more and more uncomfortable with the game. The longer it went on, the touchier Skip got. He started touching Peter in more private areas. Peter tried to tell Skip to stop a few times, but Skip would insist that all the older kids played the game. 

Skip touched Peter more and more inappropriately, the posing long forgotten. Peter was not happy, and he wanted to stop and go back to reading Iron Man comics. Peter tried to focus on anything else while Skip touched him.

A few hours later, Skip and Peter were sitting on the floor again. This time they were reading some old Captain America comics that Skip had brought over. Peter was intensely focused on the comics, trying to forget the phantom hands he still felt on his clothed skin. Peter felt the stains of tear tracks that had run down his face just a little while ago.

Peter woke with a start, his breathing shallow and his face wet with sweat… or is it tears? He looks out his bedroom window over Manhattan. A blizzard rages in the January night. Peter looks at his alarm clock, it reads 1:42am. Peter knows he isn’t going to fall asleep anytime soon, so he figures he should go warm up some tea to help calm down.

Peter gets up and opens his bedroom door, and flips the hallway light switch. Nothing happens. Peter flips the switch a few more times before turning around and grabbing his phone from his nightstand. “FRIDAY? Is the power working…?” Peter asks. No response.

Peter exits his room again, this time with his phone flashlight on. He checks the kitchen and the living room, expecting to find one or two of the adults hanging out. But no one’s there. Peter begins to feel a slight wave of anxiety creep up his neck. He walks down the long hallway, and pushes open each of the Avengers’ bedroom doors. No one is in their rooms.

Peter pushes down his panic and opens his phone to check the news. The only reason none of them would be home was because of some Avengers-level threat. Surely enough, a news article about a small battle in Times Square pops up.

Peter runs to his room and suits up, ready to swing to Times Square and help protect New York City. He can’t let down any other civilians, not after the girl from yesterday. He opens his bedroom window and releases a web to the nearest building.

When Peter arrives in Times Square, he’s only shivering slightly. The only thing giving him any sense of physical comfort against the cold is the heater in his suit. Peter takes in his surroundings. The Avengers seem to be fighting six people with some serious ice powers. Four women and two men. He doesn’t see Falcon or Black Widow. They must be on civilian duty. I guess tasers and mechanical wings won’t do well against snow and ice.

Peter also doesn’t see Captain America. He looks around in the thick assault of snow and sees a human-shaped block of ice. That- that’s Mr. Rogers! Peter sees Captain America frozen and sudden - The tears run down Peter’s face as Skip slides off the bed, pulling out a Captain America comic book-

Peter snaps back to reality and realizes someone is facing him. A tall blonde woman with blue eyes stands in front of Peter. He doesn’t recognize her, so she must be one of the ice queens.

“Hey, you’re in one of my favorite cartoons!” Peter tries to joke. His voice comes out slightly wobbly. The woman glares at him and yells something in German. She shoots a beam of ice at Peter, who tries to dodge before slipping on the thick layer of ice underneath his feet. Peter shoots a web at her, trying to make her fall so he can get back onto his own feet. The tall lady easily dodges What, so ice doesn’t affect you, huh?

Peter manages to stand back up and jumps onto the wall of the nearest building, quickly shooting a web at the woman and pulling her right into the wall below him. The woman doesn’t get back up. Peter jumps down and quickly checks for a pulse before webbing her up. -He can feel hands lightly caressing his chest-

Peter turns around, searching through the snowy haze for a certain red and gold suit. He catches a glimpse of Iron Man fighting one of the two snow men. Hehe, snowmen. Peter starts swinging through the howling wind toward Tony. “Hey, Mr. Stark! I’m here to help. What can I do?”

Tony blasts the ice man in his chest before whipping around to Peter. “What are you doing here, kid? You’re gonna freeze. FRIDAY, check Spider-Man’s vitals”

“I’m fine Tony, I promise.” Peter says, before shooting a web at the ice man. -Skip whispers things in Peter’s ears. Things Peter doesn’t understand- The man dodges him before shooting a jet of ice at the duo, who both avoid the beam.

“Kid, we have gotta talk about your bedtime curfew.” Tony jokes. The ice man hits Iron Man with an ice beam, knocking him a few blocks over.

Peter quickly turns to face the snowman and freezes. He almost slips, but quickly regains his balance. Tall. Blond hair. Blue eyes. The man standing in front of Peter is -Skip sliding his hands lower and lower down Peter’s body-

Peter’s knees give out under him, and Skip hits Peter with a blast of ice, knocking Peter backwards into the Disney store. Peter can’t breathe, he can’t breathe and he feels like he’s going to die. Peter rips off his mask, trying to catch his breath. He’s kneeling in the back of the store, and surely Skip has forgotten about Spider-Man and is fighting an actual Avenger right now, right?

Peter turns toward the store window and sees a tall figure standing about ten feet from him. Skip squints at Peter, and then his face contorts in shock. “Einstein?” Peter winces at the nickname. Skip walks toward Peter, who’s frozen where he stands. Skip has a twisted smile on his face. He grabs Peter’s arms and trails his hands up and down them.

“Look at us now Einstein, now WE are the superheroes. Just like in the comics we used to read together. The ones we read right after we had fun.” Peter is shaking violently, a reaction unrelated to the cold weather. He tries to swallow, but can hardly even blink.

Skip starts running his hands over Peter’s chest, pushing him down toward the floor. Peter is trying to move, why can’t he just move. Skip grabs Peter’s crotch and squeezes. Peter feels himself flinch. Skip is kissing his neck and grabbing Peter’s crotch and his hips are between Peter’s legs and it’s all too much, and then-

“NO!” Peter yells and pushes Skip with all his might. Skip flies through the store and out the front window, back into Times Square. Peter gets up and puts his mask back on. Wh- What just happened. Peter is shaking in disbelief and disgust. He’s trying to reign in his panicked thoughts. Peter’s making his way to the storefront when he sees Bucky lay Skip out. Skip falls to the ground unconscious.

Peter’s out of the store walking up to Bucky. He’s having trouble breathing. Suddenly the wind and snow pick up, creating a complete white-out. Peter can’t even see his own hand in front of his face. When the snow clears, all six of the villains are gone. Only light flurries fall. 

Peter sees Bucky and stumbles over to him, clutching onto his arm. “Bucky, I- I can’t breathe..” Peter’s eyes roll into the back of his head, and his knees give out. The last thing Peter feels is Bucky catching him as his world goes into complete darkness.

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

Peter wakes up with a thin sheet and blanket covering him. He’s no longer cold, and he seems to be breathing just fine. The lights are on in the tower again. Peter looks to his right and sees Mr. Rogers, no longer frozen. Steve does have a thick heating blanket on top of him, though. In between Peter and Steve’s beds sits Tony. Tony looks up when he notices Peter is awake.

“Jesus, kiddo. Are you okay? What happened. You gave Bucky a hell of a scare-” 

“Mr. Stark, it’s okay. I- I’m f-fine.” Peter smiles, hopefully convincing. “I was sti-still um, pretty cold and trying to pay attention to everything in battle was a- a little chaotic. Yanno, with everyone fighting a lot and the snow and the wind it got a little loud.. I think uh it was just uh sensory overload.”

Tony relaxes just a little bit. “Are you sure, kid? Bucky was pretty worried, and Lord knows I’m always worried about you.” Peter feels guilty about that tidbit. He doesn’t want Mr. Stark or the rest of the team constantly worrying about him. Which is why he can’t tell Mr. Stark about what really happened. If the team knew how weak and disgusting I am, they’d walk on eggshells around me. They wouldn’t let me help fight. They wouldn’t let me protect people.

“Mr. Stark, I’m sure. Maybe we can find a way to up the heater in my suit without burning my skin off.” Peter tries for a joke but it falls flat. “What time is it, anyway?” Peter asks.

“It’s about 10:00 am.” Tony answers. “You feelin hungry, kid? I know I am. Steve is fine, he was awake a while ago. He got under that heating blanket and *pop* out like a light.” Tony chuckles. 

Peter changes into some clothes that had been brought down for him while he was asleep in the med-bay bathroom. He comes out in a baggy MIT sweatshirt (aka Tony’s sweatshirt) and sweatpants. 

When Peter and Tony step out of the elevator doors into the Avengers common area, they’re greeted with a chorus of “Peter!” and “How’re you feeling?” Peter waves away the concern, just saying that he’s slightly hungry and ready for breakfast. They all meet in the kitchen, where pancakes and eggs sit, ready to be eaten.

Peter eats a few bites before pushing around the food on his plate, trying to make it look like he ate more than he did. His stomach is too upset to eat. Everyone else is indulging in their own breakfast and don’t notice that Peter hardly ate anything. Peter tells Bruce he’s going to lie down in his room for a little while.

Once in his room, Peter collapses onto his bed. He feels sick. He feels gross. He can’t believe the past 12 hours happened. He rushes to his en suite bathroom before throwing up what little breakfast he had. He then turns the shower on. Hot. Peter rips off his clothes and steps into the steaming water, scrubbing and scrubbing. He doesn’t know how long he’s in there, but it doesn’t feel like long enough to wash away the feeling of hands on his skin.

Peter steps out of the shower, anxiety only cut down slightly. He puts on his boxers and the baggy MIT sweatshirt. Peter runs into his room and searches his nightstand drawer before finding what he’s looking for. Peter returns to the bathroom and sits on the closed toilet seat. Peter takes his BIC lighter in his right hand and raises it to the inside of his left thigh. Peter feels a burning sensation against his skin. He flinches at first, before going right back to what he was doing. 

When the burning barely quenches Peter’s anxiety, he grabs for his razor under the sink. Peter makes cuts along the top of each of his thighs. This is not a new habit for him. Peter plans to only make a few cuts on each thigh, but before he realizes, there’s 10 or 12 cuts on each leg. But at least he can finally breathe again.

Peter waits for the bleeding to stop before pulling his black sweatpants back on, relishing the sting the pants’ pressure brings when he pulls them up. The cuts will be faded almost completely by tomorrow anyway. Peter cleans up the bathroom and leaves, going to lay on his bed. He puts his lighter back in the drawer and pulls out his phone.

[Missed call from Ned]

[Missed call from MJ]

[Two missed calls from May<3]

[To May<3]

hey, may. kinda tired rn, but wanted to let u know that im completely fine. times square went smoothly, i wasnt injured or anything. anyways love u and ttyl <3

Peter debated calling Ned and MJ before opening their group chat.

[Peter] hey guys, whats up

[Ned] DUDE are u okay??? What was with that whole snow crew? We haven’t seen them before right?

[MJ] Yo why did they all look like the same person lol

[Peter] haha yeah im completely fine. got some sensory overload from the battle, but i made it lol

Peter almost smiles at his friends’ texts. They’re definitely helping take his mind off the recent events.

A knock startles Peter out of his moment of calm. “Come in.” Peter states.

Tony appears in the doorway. “Hey, Underoos. Just wanted to make sure you were okay. We’re gonna have lunch in a couple of hours if you want to join. After that, I’m thinking you and me have some lab time?”

“It’s you and I , Mr. Stark. Anyways- uhm. Sure. Sounds good.” Peter looks back down at his phone. Ned and MJ were sending stupid gifs back and forth.

“Alright, kiddo. Take a quick rest and then come out to the kitchen when you’re ready.” Tony exits the bedroom and closes the door behind him.

Peter lets out a breath he didn’t even know he was holding. Mr. Stark had believed that Peter was just fine. He was getting better at this acting fine thing. Peter continues texting his friends for a while, relishing in the moment of peace and quiet. 

He must’ve fallen asleep, because when Peter comes to it’s 3:00pm. Peter gets up and sways for a second. His vision goes black at the edges. Peter waits for his vision to clear before heading out of his bedroom toward the kitchen.

When Peter arrives, he sees Steve, Rhodey, and Sam all seated at the island playing cards. Steve is wrapped in a smaller heating blanket, but seems to be completely fine. They look up when Peter enters the room. “Hey, Pete. Make sure you grab something to eat before you head down to the lab. Tony made it clear he won’t allow ‘fainting spider-kids’ in his lab.” Rhodey laughs.

Peter grabs an apple and a granola bar before heading to the elevator. He eats his apple with surprising ease, but struggles with his granola bar. The smell hits him and he realizes he isn’t going to be able to eat it. 

Peter enters the lab and throws the apple core and granola bar in the trash. He heads over to where Tony is sitting and the duo begin working on Peter’s heater in his suit. They also start bouncing ideas off of each other on how to make the suit more bulletproof. It’s nice, having Peter’s mind off of any negative thoughts. The pair work for hours together until finally

“Hey, Mr. Stark. The ADHD is definitely kicking in full swing.” Peter jokes. He’s had some serious trouble focusing and connecting his thoughts together for a few minutes now. Listening to anything Tony said went in one ear and out the other, causing Tony to repeat himself multiple times. His mind had probably gotten a little overloaded with information for the day. Peter and Tony call it a day and head to the elevator.

When they step out into the living room, the team is sitting on the couches. Buckets of popcorn are sitting around the room. Peter sits on one of the couches, Tony sitting next to him. Bucky sits on Peter’s other side. Wanda and Vision are in a blanket pile on the floor. Everyone else sits on some other couch or chair. The team agrees on watching the Alien movies. Peter quietly asks Tony if they can turn on subtitles so he can focus on the movie better, which Tony happily obliges. (Clint liked the subtitles anyway, but apparently Peter forgot the archer was deaf.)

The team spend the rest of the night eating popcorn and watching movies. Peter even manages to eat a decent amount of popcorn himself, his nerves having calmed down. In this moment, surrounded by people who consider themselves to be one big family, Peter feels safe. 

Chapter Text

Sunday morning had been going pretty well. The team had only seen Peter when he came out of his room around 10:00 am and grabbed a cup of fruit, before quickly retreating to his room. Some mumbles about “having a lot of homework due tomorrow” could be heard from the teen. The team found this only slightly unusual, quickly returning to their previous tasks.

Peter spends the next couple of hours finishing an essay for his Honors English class, and then beginning work on a notes packet for his next AP Calculus II unit. Peter makes it about halfway through his Calc notes before giving up. He had started rereading definitions and equations with no understanding about 15 minutes ago and was beginning to become seriously frustrated. He decides that a walk for fresh air to clear his head sounded like a good idea. 

Peter trades in his pajamas for a hoodie and baggy joggers. Peter slips on socks and his Vans, and then opens his nightstand drawer to grab a few things. He puts on his earbuds before making his way down the hallway towards the elevator. 

Peter considers telling the team he’s heading out, but FRIDAY had informed him earlier that the team was in the gym downstairs training. FRIDAY had informed Peter he was invited, but he was currently doing his best to avoid social interaction, the idea too draining to him. Peter steps out of the elevator and heads toward the front doors of the Tower.

Peter walks for about half an hour before stepping into an alley. Glancing around to make sure no one’s looking, Peter slings a web up to the rooftop of a shorter building. Once his feet are on the roof, Peter picks an edge and sits down on it. His phone begins playing “Youth” by Daughter.

Peter pulls out the contents he had grabbed from his nightstand earlier - his lighter, and half a pack of cigarettes. This hobby of Peter’s had begun a few months ago, when he found people who were willing to sell to underage teens. He figures it doesn’t matter if he smokes much, his metabolism and healing factor probably cause cigarettes to do no harm to him. Even if they don’t stop the harmful effects, he doesn’t honestly care.

Peter pulls out a cigarette and lights it, taking a long drag and staring out at the city of New York. He stares towards Queens, unable to see it, but knowing it’s there. He misses May, but he’s glad he doesn’t have to be completely alone in their apartment while she’s gone. Maybe it would be better that way. Then the Avengers wouldn’t have to deal with my sorry ass.

Peter takes another hit of his cigarette, letting his thoughts wander around. Unfortunately, those thoughts land on Skip. Peter’s mind has a list of questions that he contemplates.

  • How the HELL does Skip have powers?
  • WHY the hell does Skip have powers?
  • Who are the people he’s working with..
  • and why do they all look so similar to each other?
  • What do these people want?
  • Why does it have to be Skip...

Peter doesn’t know any of the answers to these questions, and he figures the Avengers don’t either. This scares him. The cigarette smoke burns his lungs, similar to the feeling of worry burning his mind. Will he have to confront Skip again? Will Skip reveal his identity? Peter doubts he will, because that might involve him explaining how he knows Peter, and Peter knows Skip is too cowardly to risk that.

What if Peter does have to face Skip again? What if he freezes up again? Peter considers what would happen if he really did tell the Avengers. Would they think he was weak? Disgusting? What if they didn’t want to be around him anymore. What if Tony didn’t want to be around him anymore?

Or would they all begin to worry about him. Would they begin to treat him like he’s a child? Peter doesn’t think he can handle any of these outcomes. So the thought of telling the Avengers is pushed to the very back of his mind.

Peter’s mind turns towards the girl he saw last Friday. He hadn’t seen Skip in years at that point and he still had been rendered useless and panicked. Peter feels immense guilt for his inability to help that girl. He had been extremely lucky the cop had shown up. But even with the cop showing up, Peter could have done something to stop it quicker instead of running away like a coward.

He feels so useless. First, he can’t stop Skip when he’s a child. Then… then he can’t save Uncle Ben, even with his powers. Then the poor girl. 

Peter’s thoughts snap back to the present when his phone begins ringing. Peter fishes it out of his pocket and sees the caller ID is Mr. Stark. Peter doesn’t answer his phone, letting it ring out. He looks up and sees the January sun is almost set, meaning it’s about 6:00 pm. He’s gone through the rest of his pack of cigarettes since he sat down. How had he not realized how long he’s been up here? Peter sneaks down to the ground of the alley before making his way back towards the Tower.

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

Peter steps out of the elevator, into the large penthouse. All of the Avengers are gathered in the living room, staring at Peter as he walks into the living room. Peter glances nervously toward where Mr. Stark is sitting. Tony stands up and walks toward Peter.

“Where… do you think you were, young man?” Tony doesn’t raise his voice, but Peter can hear anger in his tone.

Peter swallows before saying “I was just on a walk. Why are you so concerned?” Bruce raises an eyebrow at this. Peter back talking like that? Unheard of.

“You don’t show up to lunch, you don’t show up to team training. You don’t answer my call, and you miss dinner. ‘Why am I concerned?' You know, I called May. You have been gone for hours. You didn’t think to tell anyone? People get kidnapped in the hero business, Peter!” Tony’s voice slowly gets louder with every sentence. Peter does his best not to wince as Tony starts to yell. 

“God, I’m so sorry that I figured I was old enough to go on a walk by myself. Jesus, next time I’ll make sure to grab your hand and take you with me.” Peter rolls his eyes, but inside he doesn’t know why he’s saying this. Why is he being rude to Mr. Stark?

A few of the adults freeze, waiting with anticipation to see where this goes. 

“Alright, kid. You’re grounded. No Spider-Man, no friends for a week.” Tony’s voice is weirdly neutral. Peter almost wishes Tony had yelled. The corners of Peter’s eyes begin to prick with tears.

“You- you can’t do that! I didn’t even do anything wrong!” Peter yells.

Peter yells. Now THAT is not like Peter. The team watched the argument, all showing different levels of shocked expressions. Peter never yelled at Tony like that, especially not with an audience.

“I just did, kid. Suit. Now.” Peter goes to grab his suit from his room before roughly throwing it at Tony, who is knocked back a few steps by the force of the throw. “You’re really going to use your super strength with me, kid? Alright, two weeks, no suit.” The Avengers hear Peter’s door slam.

Tony looks at Peter’s suit in his hands before taking a deep breath. “Has anyone seen Peter eat anything today?” he asks the assorted group of heroes. No one answers with a yes, so Tony goes to heat up vegetarian nuggets for Peter. He doesn’t have to be happy with the kid, but he sure can’t let Peter go hungry.

When the food is ready, Tony takes it down to Peter’s room. He gently knocks on the door. When he hears no response, he opens the door anyway. Peter’s room is completely dark, and Peter lays completely covered by his bed covers. Tony tells Peter he isn’t too mad, he’s mostly concerned. Peter doesn’t answer. Tony sets the food on the nightstand before leaving the bedroom.

Peter pokes his head up from the covers, before eating some of his food. It’s the only thing he’s eaten all day besides the fruit cup for breakfast. He only manages to eat half his food before feeling too tired. Suddenly the urge to cut into his skin hits him out of nowhere. Peter tries to fight the urge for a few minutes, before getting up. He walks to his closet and pulls something out from the back of the closet.

Peter walks into his bathroom and closes the door. He turns the shower and the shower vent on. Peter pulls out his dab pen. He wants to self harm right now, but at the same time feels guilt and shame for it. He decides to try and get high instead. It doesn’t always work well, working best when he’s on a mostly empty stomach. He turns the pen up to the highest voltage, before taking a long hit. Peter does this for an hour, his metabolism making it hard to build up a high. Finally, Peter manages to feel the effects and continues hitting it every few minutes. 

He walks out to his room, pen still in hand. He decides he doesn’t really care if anyone walks in on him. They probably won’t anyway. Peter sits back down at his desk, deciding to stay up late and finish his homework. His alarm clock reads 9:30 pm. He still has hours of homework to do. 

Hitting his pen every few minutes, Peter struggles through some of his homework. He gets more done than he anticipated. Around 11:30, Peter gets up to get his water bottle. He realizes it’s empty, so he goes out to the kitchen to fill it. He doubts anyone will be awake right now, everyone has probably gone to bed early to start the week. 

Peter walks into the kitchen, swaying just a little bit. He likes the numb and tingly sensations he feels. Peter stands in the kitchen for a few minutes, trying to remember why he came to the kitchen in the first place. He looks down at his water bottle in his hand and laughs.

“Pete, what are you doing?” Peter snaps his head up to see Tony walk into the kitchen. “Kid, you have school in the morning. You should be getting some sleep.” Tony’s voice has a hint of concern in it.

“Yeah, well. I um was just refilling my water bottle. I’m trying to uh get some school done.” Peter does alright with that sentence structure, all things considered. 

Tony looks at Peter. “You sound really tired, kid. Make sure you get some sleep tonight.” Tony grabs an apple from the kitchen and is about to leave, before he hesitates. “And Peter… again, I’m not mad. I just… I’m always concerned about you, Pete. I just want what’s best for you. I- I love you, kid. Get some sleep.”

Peter watches as Mr. Stark heads toward the elevator, probably pulling a late night in the lab. Peter quickly refills his water bottle before heading back down to his bedroom. 

Peter decides he’s done with his homework for the night, and lays down on his bed. His mind swirls in a pleasant way, the high distracting from any pain. Peter pulls out his phone and begins scrolling through TikTok for a while. That damn app is always funnier when you’re high.

After about half an hour, Peter gets a text from his group chat with Ned and MJ.

[MJ] Hey losers just making sure everyone is asleep. Decathlon practice tomorrow

[Ned] You are literally texting us rn. Which means you yourself aren’t sleeping??

[MJ] Don’t question my ways I don’t sleep ofc

[Peter] u guys are whack, just sayin. anyways, i can be at practice tomorrow. but just a heads up that i wont be able to hang out for the next two weeks. i got grounded >:/

[Ned] WAIT. You got grounded??? By IRON MAN???

[Peter] *sigh* yes ned. :P

[Ned] That is SO. COOL.

[MJ] Hey losers go to sleep gn

[Ned] Goodnight guys, sweet dreams.

[Peter] gn.

Peter scrolls between Instagram, TikTok, and YouTube until about 12:45 before hitting his dab pen a few more times in the bathroom. He doesn’t feel connected, doesn’t feel real. Peter casually grabs his razor under his sink. With a blank look on his face, he spends the next ten minutes trying to feel. It doesn’t work. He feels numb. He doesn’t know why he’s suddenly doing this. He worked so hard today not to, yet here he is. Weak.

Peter puts The Office on his TV a few minutes later, hoping to fall asleep peacefully. He has to be up at 6:00 am for school. He doesn’t think he can handle nightmares tonight. He isn’t having any bad thoughts or memories, he just doesn’t feel. Peter finally shuts his eyes and feels sleep take him for the night. The alarm clock reads 1:30 am.

Chapter Text

Peter wakes up a few seconds before his alarm starts blaring. Thanks, ‘Peter Tingle.’ Peter hits his alarm before laying back down. He stares at the ceiling for a few minutes, going over the amount of basic tasks he has to do today along with every other day. It just seems overwhelming. It’ll be forever before he’s back in bed. 

Peter grabs his phone and checks all his notifications for a few minutes. He sees it's 6:20 am and decides it’s probably best to drag himself out of bed now. Peter shuffles into his bathroom and takes off his pajamas, ready to take a shower. He goes through the basic morning routine of his everyday life. Shower. Brush teeth. Get dressed. Pack backpack for school.

Peter walks out of his bedroom, backpack on his shoulder, and heads into the kitchen. It’s 7:00 and the only person in the kitchen is Steve. Weird… there’s usually a few more people in here. Peter walks up to the island, about to ask Steve where anyone else is. Steve sees Peter and asks if he wants any waffles before Peter can even get the first word of his sentence out. Peter considers saying no, but then decides waffles sound good.

Steve hands Peter a few Eggo waffles, and goes to hand Peter the syrup. “N- No thanks, Mr. Rogers.” Steve raises an eyebrow at this, but decides to just let it go. “Hey, uh, I bet Mr. Stark is still sleeping?” As Peter asks this, Tony walks into the kitchen. His hair is sticking up in every direction and he’s still wearing his pajamas.

“Hey, kid. You ready for school?” Tony asks Peter.

Peter looks at Tony. “Uh… are you?” Peter jokes, referencing Tony’s bedraggled appearance.

Tony makes a face at Peter before grabbing a mug of coffee from Steve. “Hey, kid. I’m driving you to school today. Ah ah ah! No arguments.” Tony cuts Peter off before he can protest. Tony and Peter say goodbye to Steve before heading to the elevator. Peter finishes his Eggos as the elevator doors open to the garage.

Peter sees Tony and wonders why he’s up this early. Tony doesn’t wake up before 8:30 in the morning if he can help it. Clearly he had woken up in a rush, apparently wanting to spend time with Peter before school. Tony and Peter pile into Tony’s black Audi.

Peter waits for Tony to start the car, but the engine remains silent. Peter looks at Tony, a curious expression on Peter’s face. Tony looks at Peter. “I’m sorry… about last night. I may have been a little… harsh? I should’ve been there for you instead of just yelling at you. Anyways, um, you’re still grounded. One week instead of two. I think that’s fair.” Tony looks at Peter.

“Uh, sure, Mr. Stark. It’s fair.” Peter mumbles. Internally, Peter’s only slightly upset at Tony still. Peter feels worse for being so rude to Mr. Stark last night. He apologized for being a little harsh, so maybe I should apologize for being so rude. “I’m sorry about last night too, Mr. Stark.” Peter apologizes quietly.

Tony nods and starts the car, then pulls out of the parking garage. The car ride is silent for a few minutes. Peter is contemplating asking Tony questions about the fight in Times Square last night, but is hesitant. He doesn’t want to accidentally reveal that he knows Skip.

Tony senses Peter’s nervousness and asks “Hey, Petey. What’s on your mind?” 

Peter looks at Tony. “I was, um, wondering if you guys figured anything out about the uh… the snow dudes?” Smooth, Peter. 

Tony glances at Peter before returning his eyes to the morning traffic of New York City. “FRIDAY could only identify four of the people. Couldn’t get a good look at the last two through the blizzard. Let’s see, there’s uh… the one you fought? Her name is Vreni Stein. She has a twin brother named Lothar Stein. Then there’s Clotilde Forst. All three are German. Then there’s Maxine Hawkins. She’s Canadian.” 

Peter looks down at his lap. “Do you know what they want? Or how they got their powers?” 

Tony stops the car at a red light. “No, and no. We can’t find any relation to them besides three of them being German, and everyone having light colored eyes and hair. The only motivation they seemed to have was destroying Times Square.”

Peter thinks about the information for a second before asking “Do you think they’re gonna attack anywhere again?”

Tony looks at Peter while waiting for the light to turn green. “I wanted to talk to you about that, actually. If they do attack again, I was thinking you could come on the mission and help us fight. I won’t even put you on civilian duty. But I have some ground rules.”

Peter looks up at Tony as the car starts moving again. “Oh, my god! Really? Are you serious!?” Peter feels excitement bubbling underneath his skin. This is my chance to really help people, and prove myself a real hero to the Avengers!

Tony laughs. “Yes, I’m serious. But the rules are as follows - 1) You have to be with one Avenger at all times . Even if you aren’t engaged in combat. I mean it. 2) If they take the battle outside of America, you don’t get to go. That isn’t exactly my rule, that’s more of a legal situation with the Accords. 3) Comms. Stay. On. 4) You immediately leave the fight if your heater breaks. And if you’re injured, you tell us. Is all this understood?” Tony finishes his rules.

Peter nods his head quickly, an excited smile on his face. But then he remembers… Skip. Peter’s smile falls and he turns to face out the car window. You idiot, you can’t say no now. You… you can do this. This is your chance to help people. 

Tony notices the extremely abrupt change in Peter’s mood. “You’re sure you wanna do this, Pete?” 

Peter looks at Tony and quietly says yes. Tony finds this strange, about to ask why the sudden change in Peter’s demeanor. But the car pulls up to Peter’s school, and Peter quickly gets out and slings his backpack over his shoulder.

“Hey, kiddo. I’m picking you up from school, okay? And then we’re going to have a fun day after school doing whatever you feel like.” Tony really wants Peter to go into school and have a good day. So he tries to give Peter something to look forward to after school.

Peter nods. “Bye, Mr. Stark.” 

“Bye, kid. Have a good day!” Tony says loudly. Some kids mingling outside the school turn around and see Peter shut the car door on Tony Stark. Tony thinks the looks on the kids’ faces are priceless. Tony watches as Peter walks into his school before driving away, heading back towards the Tower.

When the elevator doors open to reveal the penthouse, Tony steps out and heads toward the kitchen. He grabs a bottle of aspirin for the awesome headache he’s been nursing since he woke up this morning. “Stark.” Tony turns around and sees Wanda. The look on her face tells Tony his headache is about to get a hell of a lot worse.

Wanda is standing in the kitchen doorway, holding something small and thin. “I found this in Peter’s room.” Wanda holds out the small item for Tony to examine, before deciding to just set it on the counter instead. Tony doesn’t like to be handed things.

Tony doesn’t look at the device right away. He keeps his eyes on Wanda, and asks “What were you doing in Peter’s room?” 

Wanda looks back at Tony evenly. “I wanted to do something nice for everyone. I was gathering everyone’s bedding to wash. I never have anything to do all day, so… I decided to do something useful with my free time. When I grabbed Peter’s bedding, that fell out onto the floor.” 

Tony finally drops his gaze to the item on the kitchen counter. It’s… a dab pen? “You found weed… in Peter’s room? Peter’s room?” Tony’s anger is barely being kept in check.

“Look, I’m not trying to get Peter in trouble. I’m concerned for him, like you. I just thought you would like to know.” Wanda waits for Tony’s reaction.

“Yeah, I appreciate it. Thanks.” Tony walks out of the room. Tony can’t figure out what to do. He considers calling May for advice and to let her know, but she won’t be out of class until… 5:00? Somewhere around that time. Tony feels nothing but shock and anger. How could his Peter be getting high? 

Tony takes a moment to plan out what he should do. He realizes that getting mad and yelling at Peter won’t do any good, that much was proven last night. So… what do responsible parents do in this situation? Wait, parents? Anyways, Tony figures the best route would be to instead show concern for Peter. Yes, he should stay calm, make it clear that these actions are not okay, and then support Peter emotionally. How’s that for responsible?

Now how does he, Tony Stark, connect to and support a 15 year old teenager? Tony thinks back to his days of addiction. Sure, he was a lot older. And maybe the things he was doing were more… extreme. But why was he doing the things he did? At first it was seemingly out of young teen rebellion. That’s what all the news magazines spun his addiction as, anyways. But Tony’s actions continued far into adulthood. His addiction was to cover up all the pain and anxiety. Was Peter feeling these emotions, all bottled up?

Tony thinks about how Peter has seemed off the past few days. Peter’s been extra quiet, he’s been extremely quick to anger. Yes, Peter has been either subdued or angry, with hardly any in-betweens. Peter avoided training and meals with the team this weekend. He took off Sunday without letting anyone know. But he’s only been acting strange the past few days, right?

The more Tony thinks about it, the more he realizes that Peter’s had weekends like this since Tony met him. Sure, those weeks and weekends hadn’t been this extreme. Tony had figured it was the extreme mood swings caused by ADHD. Then Tony realizes that ADHD mood swings tend to happen more often than whole weekends. So… is something else going on with his kid?

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

Peter feels about ten seconds from a mental breakdown. He’s been sitting at the lunch table with Ned and MJ for the better part of twenty minutes, and still hasn’t managed to eat more than two bites. He should be hungry, right? His metabolism usually forces him to eat like twice as much as a regular person. But he just doesn’t feel like eating. He doesn’t even feel that nauseous right now.

MJ looks up from the book she’s reading. “Peter, for the last time, eat your lunch. Please. We don’t want you to faint, loser.” 

Peter decides to just force down a few bites, which he barely manages. MJ and Ned look at each other, but decide not to push their luck. 

Peter feels a hand ruffle his hair, and violently flinches. Flash appears in front of Peter, standing over the lunch table. “What gives, Penis? Lunch is almost over, and you’ve hardly eaten shit. Trying to be as ‘skinny’ as your friend Black Widow? Good luck with that, Parker.” 

MJ politely exclaims “Fuck off, Flash.” Ned moves to stand beside Peter. Flash snickers, grabs Peter’s lunch, and dumps it in the trash before walking away from the trio.

Ned looks at Peter. “Hey, man. You don’t need to listen to that crap. He’s just jealous you know Black Widow.”

Peter stands up and slings his bag over his shoulder, mumbling something about Flash not even believing Peter knows the Avengers. Peter leaves the cafeteria and heads toward 5th hour English class.

Peter’s English and Statistics classes go by slowly. Peter’s mind feels tired and foggy. He keeps thinking about the hurtful words Flash said to Peter. ‘Fat freak.’

The bell rings and Peter starts heading to his 7th hour class. Halfway there, Peter stops walking. Then he bolts into the nearest bathroom before seeing his lunch make a second appearance that day. After a few minutes of dry heaving, Peter gets up and cleans himself off. It’s just nerves. It’s just nerves. You’re fine.

Peter walks through the doorway into Advanced Biology. Peter sits in his seat and opens his Bio book. “Oh, my god. You look like dog shit, Penis.” Peter rolls his eyes at Flash, who sits right behind Peter. “Seriously, did no one tell you that making yourself throw up is unhealthy, Einstein?”

As MJ walks over from the other side of the classroom and sits beside Peter, Peter himself completely freezes. MJ looks over and sees Peter shaking. His breathing is laboured and his eyes have a far away look in them. MJ grabs Peter’s arm gently, before guiding him to the front of the class. “Mr. G, I think Peter needs to go to the nurse.” Their Bio teacher waves them away.

MJ has no plans to take Peter to the nurse, and instead gently leads him to the men’s bathroom. She doesn’t care about going in there, she just wants Peter to be in a more private place. She knows he hates having an audience.

“Can’t breathe. Stop. Please, don’t wanna.” MJ looks at Peter, trying to make sense of his strange mumbles. MJ grabs Peter’s phone out of his pocket, trying to ignore the violent flinch that follows. MJ opens Peter’s contacts and is about to call May, before remembering she’s in Detroit. MJ starts scrolling through Peter’s contacts before seeing ‘Mr. Stark :3 .’ MJ almost rolls her eyes at the stupid face next to the name before pressing Call.

MJ hears the line rings a few times before Tony picks up. “Peter? Hey, I’m on my way to pick you up, but I thought your school didn’t get out for like another half hour?”

“Not Peter, it’s MJ.” Her tone sounds worried.

“Peter’s friend? What’s wrong, why’re you calling?” And Tony’s voice sounds even more worried.

“Pe- Peter’s having a panic attack in the bathroom? I- I got him out of class before it got worse. I dunno why he’s having one. He’s saying things that I- I don’t understand.” MJ personally denies that her hands are shaking.

“I’m pulling up now. Give me a sec to get in the building.” Tony rushes up the steps and presses the button next to the front door, waiting for the office to buzz him in. Thank God he’s on Peter’s emergency contacts list. MJ directs Tony over the phone on how to get to the bathroom they’re in, which is a lot more difficult than anticipated. But eventually MJ hears the bathroom door open, and quick steps approach the stall. 

MJ opens the door and walks out, letting Tony trade places with her. She tells Tony she’s going to bring Peter’s stuff to the office, and walks out of the bathroom. Tony gets down on Peter’s level, ignoring the ache in his knees. Tony sets his hands on Peter’s shoulders, trying to comfort him.

“NO! No, no, no. Please. Please. Don’t touch me.” Peter finishes his pleading with a whine. Tony immediately lets go of Peter and tries to give Peter some space in the cramped bathroom stall. 

“Okay, kid. Okay. You make the calls here. No touching.” Tony doesn’t question Peter’s wishes, electing to blindly follow instead. His kid has got him seriously spooked. Tony spends the next ten minutes directing Peter to breathe with him. It takes a while, but they make enough progress that Peter’s eyes finally focus on Tony.

“T- Tony.” Peter cries before flinging himself into Tony’s arms. Tony hesitantly hugs Peter back, not wanting to upset the boy further, but also trying to provide comfort. They sit like this for a few minutes before Peter gets up and sniffles, dusting himself off. “”M sorry…” Peter mumbles.

“No, Pete. Nothing to be sorry about. It’ll be okay. Can I touch you?” Peter nods. Tony gently lays his hand on Peter before guiding him back towards the office. Tony checks Peter out of school, grabs Peter’s bag from the receptionist, and heads out the front doors with Peter.

Once they have arrived at Tony’s car, Tony opens the passenger door for Peter. As Peter’s getting in, Tony places Peter’s backpack in the backseat before walking to the driver’s door and getting in the car himself. “Alright kid, what do you want to eat?”

Peter looks at Tony, feeling very confused. But he answers anyway. “McDonald’s… but I only want a Medium Fry right now. I’ll eat m-more at dinner. Too nervous.” Peter fidgets with his fingers in his lap. 

“Sounds like a plan, kid.” A few minutes later, the duo is back in traffic, Peter eating fries and Tony eating a McDouble. As Peter’s finishing his fries, Tony pulls into the parking garage under the Tower. Tony and Peter get out of the car, Peter carrying his backpack. They head up the elevator, and arrive at the lab.

Peter drops his bag near the lab door. Tony gestures toward the couch that sits in the lab. “Sit, bud.” Peter does as he’s told.

“You wanna tell me what happened?” Tony looks at Peter expectantly.

Peter looks at Tony for a moment. He can’t just pretend that MJ and Mr. Stark brought him down from a panic attack in his high school bathroom. He goes for a half truth. “It was Flash. He was just- just bugging me. All day. That, on top of school… and- and not eating a lot today just… made me freak out, I guess?” 

“What do you mean ‘not eating a lot today,’ Pete?” Shit. Busted.

“I just wasn’t super hungry today I guess. I still ate, though. It’s just one of those days, I dunno.” Peter tries.

“Well, you’re eating a big dinner tonight, then. I’m making sure of it. You have to keep up with your metabolism, Underoos.” Tony sounds concerned. What else is new. “Now… we do have something else we need to talk about.” Peter snaps his head up. What is he talking about?

“Wanda was cleaning your room for you, and she found this.” Tony holds up- shit that’s my pen.

“Mr. Stark that- that’s not uh- heh- mine! I swear! I was- I was holding onto it for someone!” Peter loudly freaks out.

“Pete- Peter. Kid!” Tony tries to interrupt Peter’s rambling. “I’m… I’m not mad, Peter. You’re not in trouble. I know this is yours, like c’mon, kid. ” Tony pockets the pen. “Now, this- this is not acceptable. It’s not okay. And if it happens again, there will be consequences. But right now, Pete, I want you to talk to me. I get that Flash is bugging you, but it’s gotta be something more. You can talk to me, Peter.” Tony looks Peter in the eyes, wanting nothing more than to reassure Peter.

“Mr. Stark-” Peter begins.

“-Tony-” Tony interrupts.

Peter again decided to take the half truth approach. “T- Tony. It’s just… I’m just. Stressed. Stressed with school, with Spider-Man. Not stressed with balancing them!” Peter hurries to ensure. “I just… I feel this responsibility for everyone. Everyone I help, everyone I don’t help. And I know, I know it’s impossible to help everyone. But… I just can’t help feeling like this.” Peter feels tears at the corners of his eyes, and looks up at Tony sitting beside him.

Tony himself almost, almost looks like he has tears in his eyes. Does he? Good going, Peter. “C’mere, kid.” Tony wraps his arms around Peter. Peter immediately hugs right back, usually being a big fan of physical comfort with people he trusts. After a few moments, Peter pulls away. Don’t let yourself get too greedy, dumbass.

Tony looks at Peter again. “Peter. I get that you can’t help feeling like that. But I’m going to try and remind you that you can’t expect to be there for everyone at all times. Think about all the people you’ve helped, both as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. You’re doing a great job, kid. I’m really proud of you. And you shouldn’t forget that sometimes Peter Parker has to be there for himself, right?” 

Peter nods before Tony continues. “And, kid? If you can’t be there for yourself, you have May, Ned, MJ, the literal Avengers all backing you. You can talk to any of us, any time you want or need to. Don’t be afraid to ask for help, Underoos. We all care.”

Peter nods again, not really having a lot to say. After a short pause, Peter says “Mr. S-Tony? Can you help me with my Statistics homework?” 

Tony laughs at ‘Mr. Stony’ before agreeing to help Peter. Peter grabs his homework out of his backpack before setting it at an empty desk. The duo get to work solving equations.

Chapter Text

Since the ‘pep talk’ with Mr. Stark on Monday, Peter has been feeling… well not better, exactly. But he definitely could be feeling a lot worse. It’s Thursday now, and the week somehow seems to have slipped away from him. Nothing exciting has happened with Spider-Man, and the most exciting thing to happen to Peter was having Natasha help him practice for a Spanish test.

Peter arrives home from school, having walked by himself for the first time since last Friday. Don’t think about Friday right now. You’ll mess up your good streak. Peter walks into the living room and sees no one home. “Hey, FRIDAY. Where is everyone?”

“The Avengers have left for a mission, Mr. Parker.” Peter frowns at this, isn’t he supposed to be helping with Avengers missions? They didn’t even call me.

Peter pulls out his phone to double check that he hasn’t missed a super important phone call from Iron Man. Instead of a phone call, Peter sees a text notification from Tony.

[From Mr. Stark :3]

Hey, kid. Got called into Ixtenco, Mexico. One of the ice crew was reported in the area. We aren’t taking any chances. Anyways, Pepper will be hanging with you until we’re back. She’ll be up to the penthouse a little after 5:00. Stay safe, Underoos.

Well, at least he got a text. Peter doesn’t know if he’s disappointed or not about not being able to be a part of the mission. He feels guilty about not helping people, but on the other hand… he doesn’t have to deal with facing Skip. Peter decides that if he can’t protect the people in Mexico, he can protect the people of New York. He hasn’t been on patrol since Tuesday, anyways.

Peter suits up and is about to swing out of his window before he remembers he should text Pepper. 

[To Pepperrr] 

hey, pepper. it’s peter. i’m letting you know that i’m going on patrol for a little bit. i’ll be back by 5 pm tho :):) 

Peter pockets his phone - magic suit pocket hehe- before finally swinging out of his bedroom into the streets of New York. 

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

Peter’s been on patrol for about half an hour and not one interesting thing has happened. Well, that’s a lie. He returned a bearded dragon on a leash to a very upset teen girl. He also gave a touring family directions to the Empire State Building, but that’s definitely not a captivating story.

Peter’s perched on St. Patrick’s Cathedral, waiting for his suit’s AI, Karen, to report any suspicious activity to him. He’s only been sitting there for a few minutes before the world starts rumbling. Peter, not suspecting an earthquake in NYC, falls off the Cathedral before he can catch himself. Peter slings a web to the skyscraper across the street, and manages to safely land on the sidewalk below. 

The ground is shaking violently, people all around Peter trying and failing to maintain their balance. A woman holding her baby is stumbling as fast as she can toward Spider-Man, and falls to the ground a few feet from him. Peter rushes to help her to her feet, and she quickly points behind her. “The- there’s something over there. A monster. A monster!” she tells Peter frantically before running away from where she was pointing.

The ground is quaking less, and Peter starts running toward the danger. He’s nervous about swinging in case the tremors cause damage to the buildings. The closer Peter gets to the sound of commotion, the less the ground shakes. Peter finds this odd, he had been expecting the ground to rumble more the closer he got to the monster.

Finally, Peter spots the monster. It’s made of earth, and it’s big. Very big. The monster is in Rockefeller Center, causing damage to the buildings around it. Peter is about to face the creature, before he notices civilians trapped all around the monster. Peter swings in to start evacuating the civilians to safer areas.

Peter’s trying to come up with a plan to take down the elemental. He’s all by himself right now, there’s no backup coming from the Avengers. Peter’s strong, but he doesn’t know how strong his opponent is. Brute force might not work with this thing. Shit shit shit.

Peter grabs a couple of young kids and runs them away from Rockefeller. When Peter gets back, someone is hovering in the air, facing against the rocky creature. Peter can only see the back of the man. He has short brown hair and wears a long red cape. Green mist surrounds the man’s hands. He starts shooting thick green beams towards the monster, appearing to be doing damage to it.

Peter swings up and latches on to the side of a building, stopping around the man’s level. “Hey, uh, sir! What can I do to help?”

The man glances at Peter before shooting more green mist at the monster. “Stay back, kid! Help the civilians!”

Just as Peter’s about to protest, he hears a scream to his right. Peter looks over, but then his ‘Peter Tingle’ goes off. Peter turns back towards the fight right before being smashed into the building he’s on, knocked out cold. Peter’s limp form falls to the ground, thankfully not a very long drop. 

A black SUV pulls up to the scene. Nick Fury and Maria Hill exit the vehicle, their guns pointed at the moving rockpile. The mystery man notices them, and shouts “Get out of here! You don’t want any part of this!” before focusing his green energy back onto the monster.

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

Peter quickly sits up in bed before hands press against his chest. Peter starts panicking, pushing the hands away. “No, no!” Peter yells.

“Easy, Peter! Easy!” The hands stop pressing against him. “It’s Pepper, Peter! You need to lay back down, Pete! You’re in the medbay at the Tower!”

Peter’s vision swims before he can focus his eyes. When he’s able to see correctly, Peter sees that he is in fact in the medbay. Pepper stands over him, trying to calm him down. Peter lays back down, his heart still beating fast. He’d been having a nightmare about… about Skip. He tries to breathe, wanting to calm down before he freaks Pepper out more.

“Hey, Pete. Are you feeling okay? You have a mild concussion.” Pepper says to Peter, and Peter gently nods. “I’m glad. Are you hungry? Can I get you anything?” 

Peter actually feels hungry right now, so he nods again. “Broccoli cheddar soup?” 

Pepper laughs before ordering dinner on her phone. “It’ll be here in about half an hour. Also, the team will be back in about three hours. The people they were fighting ended up getting away again.”

Peter nods. Wow, is nodding becoming a habit now? “What time is it?”

Pepper looks up from an email she’s answering. “It’s about 7:00 pm. It’s still Thursday, don’t worry.”

Peter goes to sit up again before wincing, he hadn’t noticed his right arm was hurting until now. He looks down and sees it’s in a cast. “Ughhh, how long until this is off?”

Pepper almost laughs at Peter’s mildly annoyed reaction to breaking a bone. “For you? It’ll probably come off Saturday. And you’ll be out of here after you eat dinner. Hey, do you know the guy you were fighting with?”

Peter shakes his head. “No, I thought it was… what’s his name? Dr. Strange? But then he turned around and that definitely was NOT Dr. Strange.”

Pepper hums before looking back at her phone to finish her email. After a while, Pepper exits the room to go retrieve their dinner.

Peter sits in silence for a few minutes. Wait how did I even get here? I have to ask Pepper when she gets back. Peter sees his phone on the table next to his hospital bed and grabs it. The screen is even more cracked now than it was before. He has a LOT of text messages from May, Ned, and MJ.

Peter calls May, who is rightfully freaking out, and lets her know he’s alright. Then Peter goes to answer Ned and MJ’s texts. The last few texts read:

[Ned] PETER YOU BETTER BE OKAY I SWEAR TO GOD

[MJ] Ned Im sure hes fine But NEDS RIGHT YOU BETTER BE WITH THE LIVING RIGHT NOW PETER

[Ned] HOW CAN HE BE FINE WHEN THE LAST THING WE SAW WAS HIM GETTING KNOCKED OUT BY A WALKING PILE OF BOULDERS

Peter laughs, but also feels bad for worrying his friends. 

[Peter is typing...]

[Ned] HOLY SHIT HE’S ALIVE

[Peter] hey, guys. dw, im ‘with the living’

[MJ] Good observation skills Ned

[Ned] WHO WAS THAT GUY YOU WERE WITH? IS HE AN AVENGER? WHEN CAN I MEET HIM?

[Peter] no clue who he is :/ and i dont think hes an avenger? anyways i have a concussion so i should try to limit screen time. ttyl <3

Peter puts his phone down as Pepper returns with dinner. “I ordered you two orders of soup, I hope that will be enough?” Pepper sets Peter’s food on to the table next to him. 

“It’ll be great, thanks Pepper.” Peter smiles. “Oh, by the way. How did I get to the medbay from Rockefeller?”

“Fury called me and dropped you off in the parking garage. I had a medical team waiting for you by the time you got here.” Pepper smiles over at Peter before turning the TV in the medbay on. It’s playing footage from about an hour ago of the fight in Mexico.

The fight hadn’t lasted more than half an hour. And it seemed that only four of the ice villains had made an appearance, Skip not being one of them. Peter doesn’t even kind of know what to make of that.

After Peter and Pepper finish eating, Peter goes to the bathroom to get dressed in normal clothes. They check in with the medbay staff, and Peter gets the all clear to leave, as long as he rests the next few days. Woo, no school tomorrow. 

Peter and Pepper spend the next few hours playing board games, trying to limit Peter’s screen time since he had watched TV in the medbay. They’re sitting at the dining table playing checkers when the Avengers all walk in. Everyone looks fine, maybe just slightly tired. 

Sam and Natasha say hello to Peter and Pepper before heading off towards their bedrooms to take showers. Steve and Bucky immediately raid the kitchen. Wanda and Vision sit on the couch, talking to each other quietly. Bruce goes straight to bed, and Rhodey follows suit. 

Tony rushes over to Peter, and gently turns him to face Tony. Tony begins inspecting Peter’s face, fussing over his kid. Of course, he would never openly admit he was fussing. Seemingly satisfied, Tony takes a seat next to Peter.

“Hey, Pep. Thanks for hanging out with Peter. Did you guys have a good time?” Tony looks between Peter and Pepper.

“Yes, Tony. Peter kicked my butt in checkers a few times. Alright, I’m heading out. Make sure he gets to sleep soon.” Pepper looks pointedly at Tony. “Goodnight, boys.” Pepper calls as she heads toward the elevator. 

Peter and Tony say goodnight back before Tony focuses right back on Peter. “You’re sure you’re okay? You aren’t, like, hiding any injuries or anything?” Peter shakes his head. “Alright, good. God, I’m glad you’re okay.” Tony hugs Peter to him.

They stay like this for a few minutes, enjoying the comfort, before Peter tells Tony “Oh, you need to call the school tomorrow morning. The doctors in the medbay told me I have to stay home tomorrow because of my mild concussion.”

Tony freaks out for just a second about his spider-boy’s concussion, but quickly settles back down. “Will do, kiddo. Now, before you go to bed, do you need to eat anything?” Peter nods and the duo get up and head towards the kitchen. Peter grabs a few apples and sits at the kitchen island. Tony sits down as well. “Hey, Pete? You don’t know who the wizard was that was fighting the rock thing, right?”

“No clue. But I’m lucky he showed up when he did. How’d the mission in Mexico go?” Peter asks.

Tony rolls his eyes. “The whole team doesn’t even know what to think about Mexico. It was a hell of a legal battle to get there that quickly in the first place. Then the fight lasts like ten seconds, and the bad guys disappear for no reason. The only thing we really did was protect the people in the village.” 

Peter doesn’t know what to think about that either. He takes a bite of his apple. “Pepper said that only four of the six enhanced people were there?”

Tony hums. “She’s right. And all of them got away again. But enough hero chat, you need to get to bed. Don’t look at me like that, you know I’m right.” Tony gets up, and Peter follows.

They both begin walking down the hallway toward their bedrooms. 

“Night, kid.” Tony hugs Peter again.

“Night, Mr. Tony.” Peter hugs Tony back.

Once Tony is walking farther down the hall, Peter closes his bedroom door. Peter leans his head on his door for a moment, his head has been pounding for the last half hour. Not that Peter would tell anyone, of course. Then they would worry about him.

Peter turns around after a few seconds and sees his Spider-Man suit sitting neatly folded on his bed. Peter grabs it and puts it in his dresser drawer. He turns towards his bed and plops himself down on it, bundling up under the covers. Peter goes to open his phone, planning to watch TikToks. Then he remembers that he’s supposed to limit his screen time. His headache agrees with that idea, so Peter plugs his phone in to charge and puts it down for the night.

Peter thinks he’s going to have a hard time falling asleep, but the second he gets comfortable his eyes droop and he feels himself dozing off.

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

May and Ben knelt in front of Peter, trying to comfort him. Peter had been crying, begging May and Ben not to leave. He had come up with any excuse he could think of that didn’t involve complaining about Skip. He knew that Skip would be very, very mad if Peter told anyone about their ‘little secret.’

May and Ben promised Peter that it was only for a few days, they’d be back Sunday night. Peter cried, but gave in. He would have to spend the entire weekend with Skip. Peter hoped and wished that Skip would only want to read regular comics and play regular video games this time.

A few hours later, Peter and Skip were sitting on the couch. Skip had gotten them both pizza, using money that May and Ben had left for them. Peter was sitting extra still, staying extra quiet. He wanted to draw as little attention to himself as possible, hoping Skip would just forget about their secret game.

“Alright, Einstein. You ready to play?”

Peter feels his eyes grow wet with tears. Of course Skip wouldn’t forget. He really liked playing with Peter. Peter shook his head, he really didn’t want to play with Skip.

Skip ignored Peter, and grabbed his hand. Skip led Peter to Peter’s bedroom, and started doing things Peter didn’t like. Peter tried his best to pay attention to anything else, but it was nearly impossible not to feel what Skip was doing.

That was the first night Skip took their game farther than just touching. Peter cried and sobbed, but Skip ignored Peter’s pleas to stop.

“Pete, baby, wake up!” Peter is roughly shook awake, and flinches away from the person shaking him. “Pete, it’s just a nightmare. It’s okay. It’s okay.” The person in front of him backs up.

Peter blinks his eyes a few times, wondering why his vision is blurry. Then he realizes he was actually crying. Peter wipes his eyes and his vision clear a little bit. Tony is on the bed with Peter, watching Peter’s face closely. Steve and Bucky are also in the room, Steve standing at the foot of the bed and Bucky standing in the bedroom doorway.

“Bucky woke me and Steve up, Pete. He heard you yelling when he walked by your door.” Tony studies Peter, looking for any hints at what Peter was feeling. 

“N-nothing, it’s nothing.” Peter whispers. 

“Bullshit, Peter.” Only Tony could say that phrase so gently.

“Kid, you freaked me out when I heard you. Was it a nightmare? You can talk to us.” Bucky looks at Peter, then to Steve and Tony. Steve hums in agreement.

“Petey, please. Please talk to us.” Tony tries to catch Peter’s eye.

“J-just you, Tony. Please.” Peter glances up at Tony before looking back down at his lap. Steve and Bucky look at Tony and Peter one last time before leaving the room.

Tony sits on Peter’s bed, his back against the wall. He gives Peter space, wanting Peter to choose if he wants physical comfort or not. And then Tony waits.

Internally, Peter’s freaking out. He should tell Tony. He should. But he also doesn’t want Tony to know that Skip is one of the six enhanced villains, because then Peter can’t help fight. Peter wants to help, he has to. Peter decided he can tell Tony about his babysitter Skip. But he can’t tell Tony about the last week. Tony can’t know about the last week.

“It was- I was um having a nightmare.” Peter keeps his eyes trained on his lap. 

“About what, bud?” Tony asks Peter quietly. “You can talk to me if you want to.”

“I know. It was about my babysitter. Sk… Skip. He was my babysitter when I was eight. He was sixteen. He was my fr- friend. He watched me every Wednesday, and sometimes overnight on weekends.” Peter takes a deep breath before continuing. “He um… he did things with me. To me. Things that were our little secret. ” The last three words are laced with venom. 

Tony feels his heart drop. He knows exactly where this is going, and he hates it. He hates that Peter had to go through this at such a young age.

“He was a great friend at first. He showed me comic books and we played video games. But then he started showing me magazines. Ones that had pictures of naked people in them. He wanted me to… to act like the people in the magazines with him. He took things further and further.” Peter’s whispering the words, barely having the strength to speak. He feels tears falling down his cheeks again. But he can’t stop. 

“It continued for almost four months. I didn’t tell anyone, I was too scared. The only reason it stopped was that his family moved away. It took another month before I told Ben and May. They noticed something was wrong, obviously. But they couldn’t get me to talk. By the time I did, there wasn’t enough money or evi- evidence.” Peter looks up at Tony nervously. “But I don’t want you to look into this, Mr. Stark. I just want to forget about this for now. Please, Tony.” 

Tony looks back at Peter, looks into his chocolate brown eyes. Tony can feel his heart shattering. “I won’t, Peter. I promise. You call the shots, remember?” Peter nods. “Good, kid. And... I- I am so sorry this happened to you. You don't deserve the shit life has thrown at you. But... thank you, for talking to me... Now, I know this is abrupt, but I feel like I should know. Any triggers?” Peter nods again, a slightly confused look in his eye. Why would Tony immediately know to ask about triggers?

“Ein- Einstein. Comic books.” Peter’s answer is short, but effective.

“Got it, bud. And do you want the team to know the triggers? They don’t have to know the reasoning, and they won’t ask.” Peter mumbles an okay. 

“You know, Pete… I have PTSD.” Peter looks up at Tony. “Yeah, after the battle of New York. I have triggers, too. I’ve overcome a lot of anxiety. It helps to have people to talk to, people to support you. I know I couldn’t do it alone. So, if you’re ever wanting to talk to a professional or anyone, just say the words.” Tony tries to reassure Peter.

“I feel like we’ve talked about talking to people a lot.” Peter quietly jokes.

“Heh. Yeah, Underoos. We have. It’s an important reminder, though. Right?” 

Peter hums, agreeing. “Hey, um. Tony. Can you… can you stay the night? It’s okay if you don’t want to, it’s just. Yeah. I don’t know, nevermi-”

“Sure, kid. I’d be happy to. Do you want me on the bed or an air mattress?” Tony waits for Peter’s answer.

“Um… air mattress, please. I think I still want just a little space right now.” 

“Sure thing, Pete.” After a few minutes, Tony has a bed set up next to Peter’s. “Do you want a hug, kiddo?”

Peter’s answer is to get up and give Tony a hug. Peter hugs Tony tightly.

“Hey, Pete. I love your hugs, but you have super strength.” Tony reminds Peter jokingly.

Peter lightens up his grip. “Oops… Sorry, Mr. Stark.” 

Peter and Tony both climb into their beds a few minutes later.

“Hey, Tony?”

“Yes, Petey?” 

“Thank you.”

“Anytime, Peter.”

Chapter Text

Peter wakes up on Friday, feeling disoriented. His mind is heavy, foggy. He looks over his right shoulder and sees Tony’s bed is empty. Peter stretches before bundling back under the covers. He doesn’t feel up to existing today. No, he feels much more like sleeping for the rest of eternity. At least that way he would stop feeling pain.

Peter decides he hates his life, at least today. The thought of having to get up and function as a normal human feels overwhelming, not worth the trouble. Why does living have to be so very tiring? Peter’s logical response to these worries is to hide under his blankets. He feels himself drift back into blissful sleep.

When Peter wakes up again, he feels only slightly more alert. He turns onto his other side in bed, then checks the time on his alarm clock. 11:36 am. How has no one woken me up yet? Usually Steve’s old man instincts would kick in by 10:00 am at the latest. The team must’ve all agreed to let Peter sleep in.

Peter stretches, planning to just keep sleeping through the day. He’s almost fallen asleep again, until his sensitive hearing picks up distant commotion. Peter stays under the covers, straining his ears to hear more. Peter can hear slightly raised voices coming from the living room, as well as the sounds of fighting. For a split second, Peter’s mind panics. What if Skip has found me? 

Peter waves away the thought, of course Skip hasn’t found him. Even if he did, he wouldn’t get past a living room full of Avengers. Peter still feels nervous, unaware of what is actually going on down the hall. He decides to go investigate. He grabs his web-shooters and puts them on his wrists, anxious about fighting a supervillain in the same room he watches Star Wars.

Peter slowly opens his bedroom door before stepping into the hallway. He climbs up the wall and sticks his hands and feet to the ceiling. Peter crawls along the ceiling all  the way to the living room, the commotion becoming clearer. As Peter gets closer to the living room, he realizes that the sounds of fighting he heard in his room are in fact coming from the TV. The voices, however, come from the Avengers.

Peter peaks into the living room, still hanging from the hallway ceiling. The news channel on the TV is playing the fight from Rockefeller Center yesterday. The Avengers are all strewn about the room, a few occupying different seats. Peter notices that Tony and Steve aren’t in the living room. Clint and Rhodey are standing in the middle of the living room, and they are the obvious source of the raised voices. 

Clint gestures towards the TV, half-yelling “...clearly should not be! He got hurt yesterday! I don’t give a damn what Stark says, the kid needs to pull back from fighting!” 

Rhodey is facing Clint, an annoyed expression on his face. “Clint, you have kids. Don’t you think you might be kind of biased about Pe-”

“Biased? Are you serious? It doesn’t matter if I’m biased about this or not, the kid is still a kid! No kid should be fighting against that!” Clint points to the TV again.

Rhodey and Clint continue arguing over Peter and the Rockefeller fight. The rest of the people occupying the room add a small comment or hum of agreement every once in a while. Well, except for Natasha. She has been watching the bickering in complete silence. She faces away from Peter, but he is willing to bet she’s calculating the argument with no expression present on her face.

After a while, Natasha either decides the fighting has gone too far, or she’s bored. “Hey, boys. The juvenile quarreling is fun and all, but we’ve had a visitor for a while now.” Everyone looks at Natasha with a confused expression, so she points behind her towards the hallway ceiling. Busted.

Peter crawls up onto the higher ceiling of the living room and hangs in a comfortable position. The silence that spans the next few moments is deafening. Apparently no one is planning on talking, so Peter decides to break the silence. “Hey, I uh was just wondering where Mr. Stark is?”

“Stark is in his lab downstairs. I believe Captain Rogers is down there as well.” Vision is the only one that answers Peter.

“Thanks.” Peter quickly crawls across the ceiling to the elevator before hopping onto the floor and making a quick exit. The second the doors close, the tension lifts from Peter’s shoulders. That was the most awkward interaction he’d had with the Avengers in a while.

When Peter arrives at the lab, he sees that Tony and Steve are in fact there. Tony is drinking what is probably his eighth mug of coffee, and Steve is sketching. They’re both talking in hushed voices. Peter silently hangs at the doorway for a moment before Tony spots him.

“Hey, Pete. How’d you sleep?” Tony asks Peter, who mumbles an intelligible response. “Kid, why are you just standing there? Get in here, come hang out.” Peter walks over to the couch in the lab and plops down. Tony and Steve had been expecting Peter to tinker, so his actions catch them off guard. They look at each other and silently decide to brush it off. Maybe Peter just needs rest after yesterday.

Peter can use some rest, of course. But the tiredness that he feels sinks into his bones, weighs every single piece of him down. He doesn’t feel like spending an ounce of energy today. Peter grabs a blanket off the couch and covers himself with it, planning to take a nap. But apparently Tony has slightly different ideas.

Tony walks over and shakes Peter’s shoulder gently. “Hey, spider-kid. Are you feeling okay? You sure you aren’t hiding any injuries from us?” Peter shakes his head. “Okay, Pete. Well, uh. Before you take a nap, I need you to eat something. Even if it’s small, okay?” Tony’s voice is so filled with empathy and concern, so Peter decides to just nod his head. He doesn’t even feel like eating, much less arguing about eating. 

Tony hands Peter a special granola bar made for super soldier metabolisms. Steve and Bucky always took these on longer missions. They had yet to make one strong enough for Peter, but the super soldier ones worked decently for now. Peter forces down the granola bar, along with a glass of water. Tony takes the glass from Peter, and Peter immediately lays his head back down and starts dozing off.

Tony walks back towards Steve, an apprehensive look marring his features. They wait a few minutes for Peter to fall asleep, knowing they can’t have any form of conversation about Peter thanks to his super hearing. 

When they think Peter is asleep, Tony starts expressing his unease. “I’m really worried about him. He told me what’s bugging him. It’s not my place to say, so I won’t. But… I don’t know what to do. I don’t know how to help. And now he’s just gonna sleep all day, I guess.” Tony starts massaging his left wrist before continuing. “Do I let him sleep all day? Is that what I’m supposed to do? Or do I make him get up and… I don’t know.”

“Just let him sleep, hun. Let him sleep until dinner, and then maybe you and I can hang out with him and do something simple. Maybe we can go for a walk in Central Park later; it’ll get Pete out of the house, but it’s also not going to cause too much excitement. Unless you get him ice cream, of course.” Tony and Steve laugh at that, both knowing just how much Peter loves ice cream.

“Sounds like a plan, then. I just want to make sure he knows he’s loved and supported, yanno?” Tony looks at his coffee mug.

Steve nods. “I know, Tones.” A few moments of comfortable silence follow before Steve speaks again. “By the way, I know Peter is physically strong and capable. But… are you sure that it’s the best idea to let him fight alongside us?”

Tony nods. “I’m sure. He needs to stick with an Avenger at all times, obviously. But I think Peter will be alright. We can watch him while we fight. We do that with each other, anyway.”

“I’m not so convinced, Tony. He’s just a kid, and these fights can do some serious damage to our mental health, sometimes.” Steve’s tone is gentle, not wanting to upset Tony.

“I get where you’re coming from. I do. And we will set Peter up with a therapist if he is willing. But I think if we just let him be… an Avenger with training wheels…? I think it would actually help him to know that he is making a difference, using his power for good. I think Peter is actually safer helping us. Not all the time, of course. But on the smaller missions.” Tony sounds sure of himself. 

Steve nods. “We will watch out for him, Tones. And I don’t like this, but I don’t know Peter’s situation like you do. So, I’m with you. And if anyone has anything to say, I’ll come to Peter’s defense.” 

Tony smiles at Steve, and is about to say something but Peter starts whimpering. Tony rushes over to where Peter lays on the couch. He tries to gently wake Peter without touching him, but it doesn’t work. Tony softly lays his hand on Peter’s shoulder and shakes. Peter startles awake, but calms down surprisingly quickly.

“It’s okay, Petey. You were just having a nightmare. You’re in the Tower, you’re in the lab. Steve and I are here making sure you’re safe, okay.” Peter nods. “You can go back to sleep now, kiddo.” Peter turns over and starts drifting off again.

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

The team eats dinner together, everyone discussing overly cheery things. Peter found it odd that everyone was acting like they were getting along perfectly at the moment, but he decided it would be better not to ‘poke the bear.’ Peter manages to eat one small serving of dinner before he starts to feel tired again. Peter gets up to put his plate in the sink. He’s about to go back to his room, but suddenly Tony and Steve are blocking his way.

“Hey, Underoos. How do you feel about taking a walk in Central Park with us?” Tony’s face holds an unnaturally excited look. Steve also looks excited, but at least he doesn’t look like he’s… trying to look excited? Oh lord, what’s Tony up to?

“I- I dunno, Tony.” Peter looks down at his pajamas. Will I have to change out of these? Can I even walk around in public with Iron Man and Captain America in my pajamas?

“Peter, I think we could all do with some fresh air for just a little while.” Tony notices Peter staring at his pajamas. “You know, you don’t even have to change. ” Tony bribes Peter.

Peter feels the tiniest bubble of excitement. He can literally walk around Central Park in his pajamas. With Iron Man and Captain America. No other teenager gets to do that. Peter still doesn’t really feel like leaving the penthouse, though. But he wants to make Steve and Tony happy, so he decides to just agree.

“Alright, Pete. Get your shoes and we’ll get going in about five minutes, bud.” Steve’s voice takes on the Dad Voice™.

Five minutes later, the trio is ready to disembark. They make their way down to the garage. Walking to Central Park was an idea, but Steve and Tony were worried about Peter’s energy level. So they decided to save Peter’s energy for walking through the park.

The drive to the park is quick, and before Peter knows it he’s stepping out of the car. Steve, Tony, and Peter all take in the “fresh” city air before walking towards the park. Peter gets mildly excited about the horse carriages lined up. He’s seen them a hundred times, but he’s a huge animal lover. The three of them stroll through the park, Steve and Tony occasionally asking Peter about school.

Peter’s trying to enjoy his time with Steve and Tony, he really is. But it’s like he can’t get his mind to experience the present moment. He should be enjoying himself. Why can’t he think. Why are his thoughts all jumbled up, it’s so annoying to not be able to think. He should be-

“Pete?” Tony calls from where he and Steve stand about seven feet ahead of Peter. They start walking back toward him. “Why’d you stop walking, kiddo? Do you want to sit down for a little bit?” 

Peter had stopped walking? How are you so stupid that you can’t even walk forward. It is the most basic human function, you fucking idio-

“Pete? I asked if you wanted to sit down?” Peter jerks back to the present slightly, and nods his head. He can barely understand Tony over the buzzing in his head.

The trio move to one of the park benches, Steve and Peter sitting down. Tony offers to go buy ice cream in the hope that it will cheer up Peter, but Peter doesn’t even seem to hear him. 

Once Tony walks away, Steve focuses his full attention on Peter. “You okay, bud? You seem really out of it right now. Is there anything you wanna do?” 

Peter shakes his head, but doesn’t even realize he’s doing it. Out of nowhere, another wave of draining exhaustion hits him. Peter lays his head on Steve’s shoulder, and then his eyes unfocus. Nothing about today seems real. Nothing around him is real. Peter hates this feeling, but at the same time… it’s like he doesn’t even feel that he’s feeling it. What the hell is going on with me? 

Steve protectively, but gently, wraps his arm around Peter’s shoulders. Peter is barely aware of the action, but his mind freaks out anyway. He’s touching you. Touching is bad. Didn’t you touch him first, though? And suddenly images of Skip and the things he did to Peter are flashing through his mind. He tries to block them out, tries not to think of them. But the images feel more real than the present that Peter exists in. He can numbly feel his body panicking. How does that even work, you freak?

Steve feels Peter start shaking, and looks back at Peter. Peter’s face is void of expression, his eyes are empty of emotion. It freaks Steve out to see the normally energetic Peter like this. Steve is about to pull out his phone to call Tony, when a mob of teenage girls run up to him and Peter.

The girls are freaking out, Captain America is in Central Park. Steve tries not to look annoyed, but he knows he has to get the girls away quick. Them yelling and asking for autographs is not going to help whatever is wrong with Peter. Steve, still having one arm wrapped around Peter, tries to ask the girls to leave. They hardly seem to hear him, trying to take pictures with Captain America.

Steve decides that Peter’s mid-panic attack face doesn’t need to be on social media, so Steve picks Peter up and heads off to find Tony. He hears the girls loudly complaining behind him about how rude Captain America was being, but Steve doesn’t really care. Peter tightens his hold on Steve, which surprises both Peter and Steve. 

Steve finds Tony waiting in line for ice cream, who then sees Steve walking over with Peter in his arms. Tony closes the gap between him and Steve. “What happened? Why are you carrying him? Pete, why’re you crying?”

Peter doesn’t answer, he hadn't even realized he was crying. Instead, he just shuffles to get out of Steve’s hold before hugging Tony. Tony hugs Peter back, then looks at Steve. Tony is completely baffled. Steve shrugs his shoulders, then mouths “Panic attack?” Tony frowns, but keeps hugging Peter.

“Are you ready to go back to the Tower, Pete?” Tony asks. Peter doesn’t respond, but Tony decides to take that as a yes. The trio make their way back to the car. Steve gets in the driver’s seat while Tony sits with Peter in the back. Peter still clings to Tony. You should let go of Tony. You’re acting like a freak. Why do you feel like this?

Next thing Peter knows, he’s waking up, laying against Tony’s side on the couch in the penthouse. A blanket covers Peter, and The Office is playing on the TV. Peter still feels fuzzy, but his mind is slightly clearer. He also feels calmer. More grounded.

Tony notices Peter’s awake. “Hey, kiddo. You can sleep or watch The Office if you want. But I’m thinking the three of us sleep out here tonight. What do ya say?” Tony wants to try and protect Peter from any nightmares he may have tonight.

Peter still doesn’t feel up to speaking, so he shrugs before laying back against Tony. Steve is watching the TV contentedly, he loves The Office almost as much as Peter. “Do you need anything, bud?” Steve asks. Peter shakes his head, then turns his attention to the TV. Peter wants to be carried into the world of Dunder Mifflin and forget about his bad day.

They all sit like this late into the night. They manage to get Peter to eat some vegetable soup, which Peter actually enjoys. The longer the night goes on, the more grounded Peter feels. He feels comfortable and safe with Steve and Tony. 

At some point, Bucky comes out and joins them, having suffered a lovely nightmare. He sits in the armchair and watches the TV. Bucky hasn’t seen many episodes of The Office, but he doesn’t really care.

Peter starts quietly spitting out Office trivia every once in a while, telling the real-life backstory of a joke that would happen. Steve and Tony had fallen asleep a while ago, but Bucky listens with rapt attention. He loves listening to Peter’s trivia during movie nights. 

Eventually, everyone in the room has fallen asleep. The Office still quietly plays on the TV.

 

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

The bathroom tile is cold against Peter’s feet. He sits in his en suite bathroom, watching the blood pool from the deep slits on his thighs. Peter’s mind is numb and empty, simply taking in what he sees right in front of him. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing to Peter, seeing as he doesn’t wish to think at the moment. In fact, Peter is beginning to wish he would never have to think again. Oh, how easy it could be to make himself never think, or feel, again.

Peter sits on the cold bathroom floor a while longer, then mindlessly gets up and removes his clothing. The shower has been turned on for probably ten minutes by now, but it was the least of Peter’s problems. The water is boiling hot against Peter’s bare skin as he steps in. 

A slight feeling of relief comes over Peter as the searing water hits the fresh cuts on Peter’s thighs. Peter takes his razor and lashes his skin again, this time attacking his arms. Peter’s mind is fuzzy with giddy relief. He isn’t thinking about anything but the present. 

Peter puts his razor outside of the shower on the bathroom sink. When he’s back under the scalding water, he begins washing his hair. His hands burn, being so close to the source of the hot water. Peter rinses the shampoo out of his hair before grabbing his bar of soap. He roughly rubs his skin. Over and over. Scrubbing, scrubbing, scrubbing. He enjoys the pain as the soap drags over the cuts all over his skin. He scrubs until his skin is red, pain enveloping his body. But he can still feel his teacher’s hands. He can still feel Skip.

Peter violently shakes his head, attempting to clear his mind. Disgusting. Vile. Weak. Pitiful. Unlovable. Untouchable. How could you ever think you would be a hero? You’re pathetic. He reels in his thoughts, focusing on the physical pain. Peter doesn’t know how long he’s in the shower, but he turns the water off a long time later. 

Peter towels himself off, feeling the towel painfully rub over his thighs and wrists. He sees the cuts have stopped bleeding, and feels a twinge of disappointment. Peter puts his razor blade under the skin. His hands are shaking. He dresses himself, the task taking longer due to the tremor in his hands. The hoodie and sweatpants he now wears aren’t comforting enough.

The teen suddenly feels completely overwhelmed with different emotions. He feels so much, he can barely decide what he does feel. Sadness. Anger. Revulsion. Anxiety. Peter realizes he hates himself. He’s disgusting. He’s beginning to drown in his thoughts. Just moments ago, his head had seemed clear. But it was only one single moment of peace.

The knock on Peter’s bathroom door has him jumping so high, he ends up on the ceiling. “Uh- one- one second.” Peter’s voice wobbles out.

“Hey, you alright in there? Kiddo?” It’s Tony.

“Ye-yeah. Yep! I just need one second!”

Peter drops down from the ceiling and opens the door, but keeps his distance from Tony. He doesn’t deserve to be comforted by Mr. Stark. Tony notices Peter looks tired, but knows the kid has had a rough day. He had been hoping the nap would help, but evidently it hadn’t. He was so worried about his kid, and Tony wasn’t entirely sure that he knew exactly what had happened to Peter during school.

“Peter, look at me.” Peter keeps his eyes trained on Tony’s shoes for a moment, then drags his eyes up to Tony’s. “Pete, the team has been called on a mission. I know we just got back, but an attack from the enhanced ‘snowmen’ is anticipated. They’re expecting it about six hours from now in Venice, Italy.” Tony feels immense guilt. The team was never called away on missions this often. Peter would hardly be seeing him for so long. 

Peter looks back down to Tony’s shoes. “Oh.” Peter’s voice is small, and he fights back tears. 

“Petey, I am so sorry. I’ll do my best to take them down this time. I don’t want to leave, but I have to. The team has to.” Tony’s voice is strained, he’s clearly upset about leaving his kid. “But um Pepper will be here with you again. Just after 5:00 pm. It’ll be fun, kiddo. And if you go on patrol, curfew’s at 9:00 since no Avengers are around.” A pause. Peter doesn’t respond, so Tony clears his throat and carries on. “The team expects to be gone for roughly a full day; but the second I get back we will spend as much time together as you want. We can do all your favorite things, okay Pete?” Tony waits for Peter’s response.

“Okay, Mr. Stark.” Peter whispers, his voice shaking. He keeps his eyes on the ground, trying to hide the tears that threaten to spill out of his eyes.

“Come here, kid.” Tony wraps his arms around Peter, who violently flinches and pulls away. Tony immediately lets go of Peter and takes a step back. “Pete-?” Tony narrows his eyes.

Peter hesitates before deciding that he does want to hug Tony. He throws his arms around his father-figure, gripping him tightly. Tony hugs Peter back, his mind reeling. He doesn’t understand what had just happened. Nothing like that had happened between him and Peter.

“It's only for a day, Pete.” Tony’s voice finally breaks, still hugging Peter to him. “I promise I won’t leave for as long as possible after this.” Peter nods his head against Tony’s chest.

The two break apart a few moments later, Peter sniffling. He feels like a clingy little kid. “By the way, kid. You don’t have to go to school if you don’t want to. Entirely up to you. Pepper knows not to force you tomorrow. But make sure you stay on top of your schoolwork, okay?” Peter gives a tiny nod. “Okay, Pete. I love you, kid.” Rhodey calls Tony’s name at the end of the hallway, but Tony hesitates, then decides ‘fuck it’ and gives Peter a quick hug and kiss on the top of his head. 

As Tony is leaving Peter’s bedroom, Peter whispers, “Love you, too.”

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

Peter spends the next few hours trying to keep his mind occupied. He doesn’t feel like doing a single thing, but he can’t handle having an empty mind. So he does his homework and cleans up the entire penthouse instead, drowning his thoughts with one of Tony’s playlists. When he’s cleaned just about everything he can possibly think to clean, he decides to check his phone. He has a text from MJ.

[MJ] Hey Peter just wondering if you were gonna be with the decathlon team for dinner tonight at the mexican place just off of the river? Team building and stuff but I understand if you need to spend the night resting

[Peter] hey, sorry. i’m probably just gonna patrol for a few hours before staying home tonight. pepper is coming over. sorry mj :(

Peter closes the chat, suddenly too anxious about skipping Decathlon team bonding to read any response from MJ. He should go, but he just can’t face his friends right now. Not to mention that he does want to patrol and hang out with Pepper.

Pepper arrives at the penthouse around 5:30, her arms loaded with Chinese food. She has multiple helpings, wanting to make sure Peter has plenty to eat. Peter’s hungry, he hasn’t eaten today. The two of them sit at the dining table, eating their dinner. Pepper tells old, but age-appropriate, stories of Tony. She wants to cheer Peter up, knowing he had a bad day at school.

After dinner is cleaned up, Pepper and Peter sit in the living room. Pepper helps Peter study for his upcoming English test. Malcolm in the Middle plays on the TV, providing a fun yet familiar background noise. After about half an hour of studying, Pepper sets down the flashcards she’s holding. 

“Hey, Peter. I know you’re upset that Tony and the others left. And you’re allowed to be upset. Just… I know they don’t want to leave you. They hate it, actually. Especially Tony. They all wanted nothing more than to stay home with you and make tonight super fun. But they couldn’t. I just wanted to make sure you knew that.” She looks at Peter, trying to get a read on him.

Peter’s face barely betrays any emotion he’s feeling. He tries to keep himself composed on the outside. He understands that the team didn’t want to leave, but he can’t help but feel slightly bitter. He misses them, and he was looking forward to spending time with them. But they had barely been around the past few days. Maybe you’re just being selfish.

“I know, Ms. Potts.” Peter mutters, then stands up from the couch. “It’s about 6:45, so I think I’m going to go on patrol if that’s alright.”

“Okay, Pete. Stay safe, don’t do anything too dangerous. Curfew’s at 9:00, remember.” Pepper calls after Peter as he heads toward his bedroom to suit up.

Peter throws on his suit, places his web shooters on his wrists, and slings himself out his bedroom window. This is the moment where he can feel free. Peter Parker was left behind in his bedroom. He feels that he can focus on just Spider-Man for now.

Peter has barely been patrolling for twenty minutes before his sensitive hearing picks up noise. He’s sitting on the West Side YMCA, keeping an eye out for any trouble. His ears pick up trouble first, apparently. “Hey, Karen? Do you know what’s going on?” The sounds Peter is beginning to hear sound a little above Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man. 

“Something appears to be coming out of the Hudson River, Peter. It may be greatly disturbing the water, which could present itself a danger to civilians. I suggest you check it out with caution.” Karen informs Peter of the possible situation.

Peter begins swinging down 9th Ave before turning onto W 57th Street towards the Hudson River. When Peter lands on a building close to the river, he sees no sign of trouble. He looks to his left, toward Hell’s Kitchen. Oh, holy fuck.

Way down river, a creature made of water is crashing waves around in the Hudson. The monster is growing in size, and Peter realizes he doesn’t have much time before the waves begin to damage the city. He begins swinging as quickly as he can to where the monster is located. What the hell am I supposed to do to a liquid monster?

Peter lands on top of a building, then pauses to try and come up with a game plan. He hears screaming to his left, so he turns to see what’s going on. You’ve gotta be freaking kidding. MJ, Ned, and the rest of the Decathlon team are huddled together on the rooftop of a Mexican restaurant. Peter turns back around toward the river just in time to see a wave start crashing down onto 48th Street, which just has to be the street the restaurant is on. 

The wall of water dies down by the time it gets to the street below the restaurant, but Peter knows it’s only a matter of time before the waves are crashing down on top of his friends. Oh God, what do I do? Thankfully, Peter is saved from the trouble of a panic attack. 

A man in a deep red cape flies by Peter, towards the monster. It’s the same man from the Rockefeller fight! Mystery guy starts wrapping green mist around the monster, trying to keep the water at bay. Maybe he’s trying to shrink it? Peter has no clue, but the guy seems to know what he’s doing. Peter turns towards his frie- er, the Decathlon team that he definitely doesn’t know.

“Okay, everyone. Time to go!” Peter motions everyone toward the staircase, wanting to get them to the street level before evacuating them from the area. The Decathlon team hustle into the stairway entrance. Peter watches the stairway door close, then drops down to the street. He waits at the restaurant entrance as the team bursts through the doors. A few other patrons and the staff of the restaurant are now among the group.

Spider-Man instructs the group to head straight to 10th Ave and to keep away from any rivers or bodies of water. The group begin heading toward 10th Ave, but MJ and Ned stay behind.

“Peter, are you okay? This is dangerous.” MJ asks Peter, not entirely confident in the state of his mental health right now. 

“Yeah, Spider-Man. This doesn’t really seem like… like a thing you should be doing right now. Where’s Tony? Where’s the Avengers?” Ned’s speaking quickly, his voice at a slightly more elevated pitch than usual. 

“They’re in Venice right now, doing Avengers things.” Peter answers.

All of them!?” Ned nearly shrieks.

“Thanks for the confidence, Ned.” Peter rolls his eyes, which goes unnoticed thanks to his mask. 

“It’s just… Peter, you weren’t okay earlier today. Is it really a good idea to be dealing with that ?” MJ broadly gestures to where Mystery Man and the water monster are battling each other.

“Guys, it doesn’t matter how I feel. What matters is that I keep you, and everyone else in the city, from drowning.” The conversation is really starting to get heated. It’s a matter of seconds before a New Yorker™ screaming match begins. “It’ll be fine. Get to safety now. ” Peter ends the argument, and swings off toward the fight.

Red-cape guy and the monster are in a heated fight. Peter swings around, trying to find what he can help with. He really isn’t much good against something that isn’t at all solid. 

“Excuse me, sir! I c- I can help! Let me help! I’m really strong and I’m… sticky!” Peter calls out to the man. As Peter’s swinging, he notices he can’t see the man’s face this time. It’s covered in a foggy dome, almost like a dirty fish bowl. 

“I need you to lead it away from the docks!” Mystery man yells back without turning towards Spider-Man. The man flies high into the sky. Peter looks at the monster and slings a web to the next building as the monster smashes into the building he was just on. 

Peter’s about to ask how he can help again, when he hears a shout. He turns around just in time to see Ned, MJ, and about half the Decathlon team running from the wreckage of the building the monster smashed. So much for fucking running away. Good job, guys. Peter suppresses his anger and focuses his mind on Spider-Manning. 

Peter slings a web to the building, trying to keep it from falling even more onto his friends. The weight of the building causes Peter to really struggle, and he tightens his grip and plants his feet. Peter groans from the strain, but keeps the building from tumbling. 

One of Peter’s teammates yells “Seriously, who is that guy?”

Another shouts back “I don’t know, but he’s kicking that water’s ass!” 

Peter hears something going on in the river to his right, then a massive blast of energy that almost knocks Peter unbalanced. Peter sees his friends have gotten far away from the building, and sighs in relief that they’re safe. He keeps his hold on the building, until a massive spray of water knocks him off the roof. Peter hits the street below him with a thud. Ouch.

Peter quickly gets up, ready to combat whatever the hell is thrown at him next. But then he notices the creature is gone. He sees Mysterio floating in midair, who salutes to Spider-Man before flying away. Huh. Well that was weird. 

Peter runs over to where his Decathlon team had taken cover in the final moments of the fight. “What were you all thinking ? You could’ve been hurt! Why didn’t you run away?”

The students’ mouths hang open at being yelled at by Spider-Man. MJ quickly steps in front of Spider-Man. “We were trying to get footage of the fight for our fr- friend Flash’s vlog.” MJ holds her gaze steady and even, her voice full of confidence. 

Peter’s at a complete loss, but recognizes that MJ is trying to deal with this matter at a later time. Peter puts on his best ‘deep adult voice’ and responsibly says “Well, get yourselves home. We don’t know if this will happen again.” Before nodding at the group awkwardly and slinging away towards the Tower.

Peter climbs into his bedroom through his open window. He takes off his mask, and is about to take off his suit before he stops suddenly. Pepper stands in his doorway, her face a mess of anxiety and worry.

“Peter Benjamin Parker! That- that!? That is what I call unsafe. That is what I call dangerous. What were you thinking?” Her voice is high pitched and strained.

“I’m sorry Ms. Potts! And how do you even know about that already?”

“It’s New York City, Peter! It’s already all over the news! Are you okay? Are you hurt? I saw you fall from that building- and oh my God, you are so grounded!” Pepper tries to control her breathing, and starts fretting over the small cut on Peter’s forehead that she has just noticed.

“Ms. Potts, I promise I’m okay! This cut will be gone by tomorrow afternoon! And I couldn't just stay away from that fight. I had to help! My friends were there!” Peter tries to reassure Pepper. “Can you please calm down, Ms. Potts! Because otherwise I’m gonna start freaking out and I don’t think that would be good so-”

“Okay, Pete. Okay. I’m calm.” Pepper steps back a little, giving Peter his space. She doesn’t need a spider-enhanced teenager having a panic attack, she is hardly equipped to deal with that. “Look, it’s about 9:00 pm. How about we go watch something on TV and take a relaxing break. I don’t think you should go to school tomorrow, so it’s okay if we stay up a little late. I’ll take the day off of work tomorrow.” 

School. School. Peter suddenly feels like throwing up, his world is spinning. He had pushed school to the back of his mind, trying his best to forget about it. He decides that Pepper is right, he won’t be going to school tomorrow. And maybe hanging out with her for the night would be good. He can’t think about school, he can’t

“Okay, Ms. Potts. Sounds good.” Peter forces a smile, and adds a thumbs up for good measure.

“Alright, Pete. I’ll be in the living room. Take a warm shower, and change into some soft pajamas, okay? We are taking it easy tonight.” Pepper closes Peter’s bedroom door.

Peter’s shoulders droop, the tension he holds in them dropping as Pepper leaves the room. Peter strips out of his wet Spider-suit and leaves it on the floor. I’ll get it later . Peter gets in the shower. But he barely focuses on cleaning himself, because suddenly his mind is thrown back to earlier in the day, at school.

Peter shakes his head, desperately not wanting to think about it. How had that happened earlier this morning? It feels like so long ago yet… it also just happened. Peter’s so confused. His head is spinning, and he is doing his best to keep his mind in the present. Peter steps out of the shower and throws on dry clothes.

He looks in the slightly steamed mirror of his bathroom. Dark circles around red rimmed eyes stare back at Peter. He looks like absolute shit. His face is pale, his eyes empty. When did my face get that skinny? Peter wipes the tears off his cheeks, then makes his way into the living room.

Peter sits on the couch next to Pepper, and wraps himself in a blanket. Pepper turns on a show, but Peter doesn’t even pay attention to it. His mind is thinking about a million different things every second. 

He misses Tony, he misses the Avengers. Tony will probably yell at him the second the Avengers get back. He misses May. He should probably call her, but his energy has officially been zapped. Peter also doesn’t know who the Mystery Man is. He doesn’t know why monsters keep popping up when the Avengers leave, followed by the man in the fishbowl helmet. The ice crew are still out there… Skip is still out there. Those videos of him have the entirety of New York laughing at him. And his teacher- his teacher. Yeah. 

Peter’s also upset at Ned and MJ for not leaving the fight scene. Hopefully they have a good reason, but he doesn’t know the reason yet. So for now he’s mad. And now he’s missing another day of school tomorrow, and he definitely is going to have to catch up on homework. Just saying, it would be better if you just stopped existing. It would be so simple to end the pain. Peter shakes his head, wishing away his anxiety.

Sadly his wish doesn’t come true. Deep down, Peter agrees with the dark thought. He really is sick of the absolute bullshit he’s being dragged through in life. Peter cannot catch a break. Sometimes he just wants everything to stop. Really, Peter just wants to be completely and truly safe, but that's apparently too much to ask for. Peter spends the next couple of hours stuck in his head, dreading living, dreading the future.

Chapter Text

Mr. Reese stands over Peter, a condescending look on his face. Peter stares at Mr. Reese, trying not to panic. The pop quiz Mr. Reese has just sprung onto Peter is just about the last thing Peter wishes had happened. The entire class is waiting for Peter to answer some simple question about Calculus. Peter can’t focus, Mr. Reese is watching Peter hungrily. His eyes roam over Peter’s body as Peter tries to just think about the question. 

Behind Peter, Flash is taunting him. Since when is Flash in his Calc class? Peter’s beginning to feel confused, but Mr. Reese slams his hand down on Peter’s desk. Peter yelps then flinches so hard he almost falls out of his chair. Tears are beginning to run down his face. He can’t think, he can’t think.

“C’mon, Penis! The answer is obvious, how stupid are you ? God, you are disgusting. You know, Penis, you could stand to lose some weight. Nobody wants to date a fat freak. ” What is Flash even talking about? Peter’s brain is overloaded. He can’t be a… a fat freak. Mr. Reese wants him… Skip wants him. Why is Peter so awful that only creeps want him?

Peter’s vision is tunneling, but he’s painfully aware of Mr. Reese standing so close to him, Flash taunting him. Suddenly MJ and Ned are on either side of Peter. They aren’t even in my Calc class? Peter looks up at MJ standing over him. “You know, Peter? I think Flash is right. You are really stupid. And irresponsible. You’re such a mess, you can’t even show up to Decathlon practice. You’re an actual loser.” Why is MJ saying that?

Peter can’t even bear to look at Ned, but Ned doesn’t seem to care. He immediately begins spewing out awful things to Peter. “You are so weak and pathetic. You barely managed to save us last night. You’re losing your grip. You aren’t a real hero. And to think I call you my best friend. You’re so annoying and useless.”

Peter’s openly sobbing. Mr. Reese, Ned, MJ, Flash, the laughter of the class. It’s all too much, it’s too much. Peter can’t breathe, what the fuck is going on, where is he-

Peter jerks awake. He’s in the Tower, on the couch in the living room. Wh- what? Peter’s scrambled mind is completely disoriented. He takes a minute, trying to ease his harsh breathing. His mind slowly catches up with his body, his heart thumping. He begins to collect his thoughts in a slightly more ordered manner. It was a dream. It was just a dream. You’re not at school. You’re at the Tower with… with Pepper.

It must be about 7:00 in the morning. The sunrise is barely visible around the skyscrapers of the city. A light snow falls outside. If Peter were in a more stable mindset, he would take in the true beauty outside the window. The TV is on, the news quietly playing.

“Ms- Ms. Potts?” Peter calls softly, but his voice breaks. Peter repeats himself, slightly louder this time.

“In the kitchen, Peter.” Pepper’s warm voice can be heard in the other room. 

Peter stands up and heads to where the sound of Pepper’s voice comes from. She’s making eggs on toast. Peter shouldn’t eat that. He feels disgusting. He doesn’t deserve food. Don’t be stupid, you need to eat. Peter stands in the doorway of the kitchen. “Do you- do you need help with um anything, Ms. Potts?” 

“It’s Pepper, Peter. And breakfast is almost ready, you can sit.” Pepper jokingly rolls her eyes, but Peter’s jumbled head is too mixed up to catch that she’s joking.

“I’m sorry…” Peter takes a seat at the island.

“Why, Peter? There’s nothing to be sorry about.” Pepper sets a double helping of eggs on toast in front of Peter. “There’s more if you’re hungry.”

Peter swallows, slightly hesitant to eat. But it smells so good, and his stomach growls, so Peter gives in. After a few minutes, Pepper looks up from her own breakfast. “You’re not going to school today, right?” Peter shakes his head, he’s definitely not going to school. “Alright, Pete. Just double checking.”

Peter finishes his breakfast and puts his plate in the sink. He sits back down at the island, sipping on a glass of water. “Have you um heard anything from Tony or anyone?”

Pepper takes a drink of her coffee before shaking her head. “The team suddenly went radio silent a few hours ago. Fury thinks that they’ve gone ‘stealth mode’ or whatever, and that they’re trying to track the snow villains.” Pepper sees Peter’s anxious eyes and rushes to reassure him, “Peter, I bet they’re okay. My gut is telling me nothing bad has happened. They’ll be back before you know it.”

Peter isn’t entirely convinced, but he can’t do anything about the situation. A familiar repulsor blast coming from the TV catches Peter and Pepper’s attention. They both go into the living room, where the news is playing a phone recording of the Avengers in Venice. The poor quality makes it hard to follow what’s going on, but it seems the ice mutates are putting up a better fight than usual. The canals in Venice seem to be the perfect weapon for the powers of the villains. 

The video cuts out as Iron Man and Captain America knock out one of the villains. The news reports that the video is from a few hours ago, and no one had seen anything of the Avengers since. Peter hopes that Pepper is right about the situation. Peter jumps a few seconds before Pepper’s phone goes off, his ‘Peter Tingle’ is apparently extra cautious today.

“It’s your aunt..?” Pepper looks at Peter before answering the phone. “Hey, this is Pepper. What’s up?”

“Hey, I tried calling and texting Peter last night but he didn’t pick up. I saw the fight last night and I saw him fall with that building and I wanted to make sure he wasn’t hurt. Please tell me my baby’s okay!” May is definitely freaking out.

“Peter is completely fine. Here, you can talk to him.” Pepper hands the phone over to Peter, then goes to clean up the dishes.

“Hey, May. I’m fine, I only had a tiny scratch on my forehead. It’s already almost gone.” Peter tries to keep May calm, but epically fails. 

“Peter Parker! You know better than to do that! The Avengers weren’t in town! You need to be more careful, sweetheart. Why didn’t you pick up your phone? I’ve been freaking out all night!”

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry! I was really tired when I got home, I fell asleep on the couch. I’m so sorry, it won’t happen again.” Peter hears May huff in dismay.

“Peter, I swear to God. I don’t know what to do with you. Are you sure you’re okay, honey?” 

“Yes, May. I’m completely fine. I’m sorry for worrying you.”

“It’s okay, Peter. I’m just glad you’re safe, baby. Can you put me back on with Pepper? I have some stuff to talk to her about.”

Peter’s confused about this, but says sure. “Love you, May.”

“Love you too, Pete.”

Peter hands Pepper back her phone, then walks away toward his bedroom.

Pepper puts her phone to her ear. “Hey, you’re still here May?”

“Yeah, hey. I just wanted to ask you how you think Peter seems to be doing. I know he’s probably stressed about handling big monsters without the Avengers, and I know he probably misses Tony. Does he seem okay?” May frets.

“Yeah, yeah. He seems okay enough. He’s had some real trouble at school lately with Flash. That’s a whole other story you need to discuss with Tony when he gets back, though.” Pepper switches her phone to her other ear, then sits at the kitchen island. “But other than school, I think he’s okay. He’s tired. But we’re taking care of him, May.”

“I’m so grateful for you and Tony. And the rest of the team. I know Peter considers them to be family, and I almost do too. You’re all so helpful. I had something else to ask while I have you here.” 

Pepper knits her eyebrows. “Go on…?”

“I got a call from Mr. Harrington, one of Peter’s teachers. He runs the Decathlon team that Peter’s on. He says they have a school trip to Los Angeles on Friday. But… this is the first I’ve heard of it. Peter hasn’t told me anything. I was wondering if you or Tony might’ve heard about it…?”

Pepper is taken aback. “N- no. No, I hadn’t heard about this. Neither have Steve or Tony, I’m pretty sure. Maybe Peter doesn’t know? He’s missed quite a bit of school.”

“Maybe. Anyways, it’s such short notice. I don’t think he’ll be able to go. I’m not there, and I can’t cover the costs right now… I feel so bad. I hope he wasn’t too excited.”

“May, come on. Tony will gladly cover it. And he’s on Peter’s emergency contacts list at school. I bet he can sign for Peter to go on the trip. Tony wouldn’t want Peter to miss out on LA. Tony loves it there.”

“I don’t know, Pepper… If you’re sure… I really need to ask Tony about becoming Peter’s other legal guardian. I think it might save us a lot of trouble.”

Pepper laughs. “I think that’s a great idea. You should discuss it with Tony. I’ll find out more about the trip from Peter and then let you know, okay May?”

“Sounds great, Pepper. Thank you. Have Tony call me at some point when he’s back. I have some legal guardianship things to discuss.”

“Will do. Bye.” Pepper smiles and hangs up the phone. She walks down the hallway, looking for Peter.

Peter is sitting on his bed, his hair wet after a quick shower. Pepper quietly stands in the doorway, studying Peter’s face. He doesn’t even notice her there, a faraway look is present in his eyes. “Hey, Peter?”

Peter turns his head and sees Pepper standing in the doorway. Shit . He had just smoked wax from a second dab pen he had been hiding in his room. He… he really needed it after that nightmare. “Yeah?”

“May says you have a field trip on Friday? To Los Angeles? Why didn’t any of us hear about this?”

“Uh, because I didn’t even know about it until just now. Is it for Decathlon?”

“Yeah, it’s with your team. I’m going to have Tony sign your permission slips when he gets back from Italy. It’ll be really fun, you’ll love LA.” Pepper offers an encouraging smile. 

“Do you… um, do you know if we’ll need a chaperone?” Peter secretly hopes they will need chaperones. He would really like to have Tony go with him on the trip. 

“I know almost nothing about the trip. Maybe your friends will know? Aren’t they on Decathlon with you?”

Peter nods, then goes to check his phone. “Oh, one more thing Peter. I’m going to run some errands. So if you wanna come, be ready in about ten minutes.” Pepper walks out of the room.

Peter nods again, then opens his group chat with Ned and MJ.

[Peter] decathlon field trip???

[MJ] Yeah so like we suddenly got funding from a private source. I dont know the full details but it was basically we take the trip now or lose a shit ton of “free” money for a field trip to LA

[Peter] tf???

[Ned] Its so cool, dudes! We are so lucky omg

[Peter] so like what r the details

[MJ] Flying out to LA on Friday morning, 8:20 am EST.

        Arriving in LA, 11:30 am PST

        Need at least two more chaperones, along with two teachers

        Teachers will be Mr. Harrington and Mr. Reese

        Spend three full days in LA

        Fly back to NYC Monday night

        Show up to school the next day because the administration is a bunch of heathens 

‘Mr. Reese.’ Fuck, fuck, fuck. It’ll be fine. You can get Tony to go. He can chaperone. Ned and MJ will be there. You won’t ever be alone with him. You can’t not go, everyone will start asking questions.

[Peter] sounds great thx mj

Peter pockets his phone and puts his shoes on. He takes some more long drags from his pen before pocketing it and exiting his room. He hurries out to the living room to find Pepper. He’s battling his mind to stay grounded, the threat of dissociating almost suffocating him. Peter tries to focus on just being with Pepper. He wants to feel excited about going out with Pepper. It’ll be great. It’ll be fine. You’ll be fine. See, everything keeps being not fine. Shut up.

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

The next few hours spent with Pepper keep Peter’s mind completely occupied… in a really bad way. He’s too worried about the people that stare at him and take pictures. It doesn’t happen too much, but it’s happening often enough that Peter feels completely embarrassed. He had forgotten that half of New York City had watched a crying Peter be carried over to Iron Man by Captain Rogers. 

It probably doesn’t help that Peter is now strolling around Manhattan with the Pepper Potts, aka CEO of Stark Industries, and also Tony Stark’s best friend. Peter and Pepper are stopped a few times so young tourists can get pictures with Pepper. Peter wouldn’t normally mind this, but sometimes those same tourists then secretly take pictures of Peter. I dare my life to get worse. Bring it on, life. Peter steps into a side alley and hits his pen, enjoying the burning sensation. He’s waiting for Pepper, who just entered a store. Peter glances around often to make sure no one is taking pictures of him. He will be screwed if the Avengers catch him smoking again.

Peter and Pepper finish up all the errands Pepper needs to run. Pepper asks if Peter wants to stop and get something to eat, but Peter shakes his head. Pepper knows it’s because of the cruel people snapping photos, but she’s hesitant to try and comfort him right now. She doesn’t want people getting more pictures of an upset Peter Parker.

Pepper and Peter decide to just go home and make lunch themselves. When they arrive back home, they’re greeted with a full penthouse. The Avengers had apparently made it back. Peter’s surprised by this, it’s only 1:30 in the afternoon. He hadn’t expected them until evening.

Tony looks up and sees Peter, and his face melts into a happy and content mixture. Tony gets up and quickly walks to Peter, then stops suddenly. “Hey, Pete. Can I hug you?” Peter nods, and throws his arms around Tony. Tony hugs Peter right back. “I missed you, kid. I heard about the Hudson. Are you okay?” 

Peter pulls away and nods, trying to hide the glassy in his eyes from the mixture of being high, and being near tears. You are such a needy baby. “Yeah, yeah ‘m fine…”

Tony nods, then says a warm greeting to Pepper. Peter takes in the state of the Avengers. They all seem to be pretty banged up, but alive and walking. Peter notices that Thor is with them, and he feels his face heat up with blush. Peter turns away, and sees Tony looking at him with a knowing smirk plastered across his face.

“Don’t.” Peter points at Tony, who is fully aware of Peter’s small celebrity crush on the god of Thunder.

Tony looks around at the assorted group of heroes. “Alright, lunch is on me. Anyone in the mood for Shawarma?” Everyone grumbles some form of agreement, and Tony asks FRIDAY to order a “shit ton of food.”

Peter has a small smile on his face. He loves watching the interactions of the team, especially when everyone’s in a decent mood. Steve walks up and greets Peter with a smile, and goes to give Peter a quick hug. Before Steve has even moved in for the hug, Peter has stepped back. His spidey-sense had screamed at him to move away. He knew it was just Steve, but… Peter was on edge today. He can handle hugs from Tony and that’s about it right now.

Steve tilts his head, then glances at Tony. The two quickly have a silent conversation that Peter doesn’t even hope to fully understand. Steve nods at Peter before slinging an arm around Tony’s waist. 

“Peter, don’t you have something to talk to Tony about?” Pepper pipes up. 

“Uh… oh! Yeah uh. We have a Decathlon field trip on Friday in LA. We fly back Monday night… I was uhm… wondering if you wanted to be one of our two chaperones? We also have a few teachers going…” Peter looks at his feet. He hopes his eyes aren’t red from the high.

Tony hears a… a very pleading tone in Peter’s voice. He would’ve gone whether Peter wanted him to or not, but now he has to. Peter’s tone clues Tony in that Peter really wants Tony to go… maybe needs. Maybe the kid is having anxiety about travelling so far without a parent. Wait, not parent. Uh… familiar adult in charge… or maybe parent works, too. 

Tony nods enthusiastically. “Absolutely, Petey! I’d love to go! This’ll be so much fun, kiddo.” Tony turns to the Avengers gathered around the penthouse. “If anyone needs me Monday through Friday, kindly fuck off. I’m gonna be on vacation with Pete.” 

Steve gives Tony a thoroughly disapproving look. “Tony, language.” Steve gestures toward Peter with his head.

Peter laughs, “I’ve heard a lot worse at school.”

Steve rolls his eyes, gives Tony a kiss, then wanders into the living room. Tony turns his attention back onto Peter.

“Kid, seriously. You’re gonna love this. God, I’m so excited. I lived in Malibu for years. Your nerd friends better behave, though. No partying on my watch.” Tony’s speaking rapidly, his excitement for the trip showing.

“Sounds great, Mr. Stark.” Peter leans into Tony’s side, suddenly wanting physical comfort from Tony. Or maybe the room was spinning a tiny bit. How did he get so high this time? “Did you guys catch any of the walking fridges?”

Tony sighs. “...No. No, we did not. They just keep… disappearing. I don’t know how they’re doing it. We completely lost the trail, so we had to just give up. That’s why we’re back a little earlier than expected. But that just means more time I get to spend with you, right Petey?” Tony ruffles Peter’s hair, and Peter leans into the touch.

Tony makes a concerned face, then asks “You okay, Pete? You seem a little down. You can talk to me, bud.” Peter nods up and down. 

“I’m fine, Tony. Just happy that everyone is home.”  Tony smiles at what Peter has just said. “I’m happy to be home too, Peter.” 

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

Tony, Steve, and Pepper are sitting in the living room later that night. It was past midnight, and everyone else has just retired to bed. Pepper holds a stack of papers in front of her. Tony eyes the papers. “Tell me that isn’t company shit I need to sign, Pep. It’s 1:00 in the morning.” Tony’s joking, of course. Pepper rolls her eyes.

“No, but it is something you need to sign. If you want to, that is. May was going to talk to you about this, but she decided to just have me do it. Otherwise this won’t happen for at least another month.” Pepper has a soft smile on her face.

“What won’t happen?” Steve looks between Pepper and Tony.

Tony takes the papers from Pepper, then skims through them. Tony snaps his head up when he realizes what he’s looking at. “These… these are…”

Pepper nods her head. Excitement shines in her eyes.

“What? What are they?” Steve is completely lost, having been left out of the loop.

“Adoption papers.” Tony whispers.

Steve’s eyes widen. “ What?

“They’re adoption papers. May and I have thrown around the idea of legal guardianship a few times, but this… this is something else. I would have shared custody of Peter with May.” Tony’s hands are shaking.

“You don’t have to, Tony. It’s up to you, and Peter.” Pepper reminds Tony.

There’s a few moments of silence. Tony looks between Steve and Pepper. “What do you guys think? What if… what if I fuck up? I have to be perfect for him, he deserves it… What if I can’t be what Peter deserves?”

Steve grabs Tony’s hands in his. “Tones. Look at me. This is… this is an amazing thing. It was bound to happen at some point or another. The entire team sees how you look at him. He’s already your kid. And May's, of course. He adores you. I’m sure Peter will love to have you as his father. ” 

Tony gasps at the last word. Father. Sure, Peter would still be Peter Parker. He’s a Parker through and through. But… but he is Tony’s kid. Tony’s known Peter for nine months. The bond formed in those nine months is… it’s beyond words. 

Tony’s nervous, but decides this is the route to take. “I’ll talk to Peter about it in the morning. If he agrees, then… then I’ll do it. Absolutely. I’ll do the best I can.”

“And you can always ask for help with things, Tony.” Steve reassures his husband. “We’re all Peter’s family.”

Tony hums in agreement. “I think it’s time for bed, what about you guys? I have a lot of work to get done the next few days before vacation with my kid.” 

Pepper and Steve agree, and everyone gets up and heads to bed. Pepper heads to her guest room on the penthouse floor, and Steve and Tony head to their bedroom. Once in private, Tony lays his head against Steve’s chest. “You really think I can do this? That I can be the father he needs? He’s already fifteen…”

“Tones, you already are the father he needs. Him being fifteen doesn’t even matter. The papers will simply make it legally official.” Steve waits for an answer from Tony, but realizes that Tony has fallen asleep. Steve smiles to himself before closing his eyes and drifting off into his own peaceful sleep.

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

Peter sits alone in his room, unable to sleep. He’s smoked again. Oops. That was supposed to be a one time thing today. It’s around 12:30 am. He’s trying to fight off sleep. He doesn’t feel like having a nightmare tonight. He knows he should talk to someone. He knows he can tell Tony everything. He almost wants to… But at the same time, he’s scared. 

He’s ashamed, he’s embarrassed. This stuff doesn’t happen to superheroes. But he doesn’t want to… he doesn’t want to be touched by Mr. Reese again. Peter is confident that Mr. Reese is going to hold him after class again tomorrow. It would be so easy to tell someone, anyone on the team. But at the same time, it would be impossible to tell them. 

Peter wants to so badly, but he decides he can’t. He’ll just… he’ll have to stay if Mr. Reese holds him after. Hot tears flow down Peter’s cheeks. He isn’t strong enough to do this. But… but maybe if he just gets through the week to Friday… I don’t know. I don’t know what will happen if I get through to Friday. Then I’ll be on vacation with Mr. Reese. 

Peter stares at his bedroom ceiling as the tears stream down his face.

Chapter Text

Peter drags his feet into the school building the next morning. Tony had dropped him off, not seeming to notice how nervous Peter was. It’s Wednesday, he only has to get through today and Thursday before the trip. Then Tony will be there to protect him from Mr. Reese. After the trip… he’ll figure something out. 

The hallways of the school seem to stretch out for an eternity. Peter is dreading his first hour. He doesn’t know what’s going to happen, and it terrifies him. Peter isn’t sure how much longer he can deal with the anxiety and the pain of his life. Of Mr. Reese. Peter tries to be optimistic… Maybe he’ll get lucky and Mr. Reese won’t even be at school. He doubts he’s that lucky.

Sure enough, when Peter walks into his first hour he feels his heart stop and his stomach drop. Mr. Reese sits behind the teacher’s desk, studying some papers in front of him. Peter tries to get to his seat without drawing any ounce of attention to himself. But when Peter sits down and looks back towards Mr. Reese, he sees Mr. Reese watching him. The stare fixated on Peter causes Peter to squirm uncomfortably, and Mr. Reese smirks.

“All right, class. Let’s open our books to page 326.” Mr. Reese gets up from his desk to stand next to the whiteboard, preparing to teach the class. 

Peter has no idea what was taught in his first hour. His mind was too busy wondering what the fuck was going to happen after class. He’s trying to come up with every possible way to avoid the situation, but he just can’t think. The lesson ends too soon, and everyone is making their way towards the door. Peter is almost out of the classroom before Mr. Reese calls his name.

Peter flinches, grips his backpack strap tightly in his hand, and turns around. “Ye- yes, Mr. Reese?” 

Mr. Reese motions for Peter to walk over to him. “Close the door.” Shit. Peter shuts the door, fear forcing him to listen to his teacher. “Come here, Peter. I want to talk to you.”

Peter’s feet feel like lead. He doesn’t move. Mr. Reese glares at Peter. “Come here now , Mr. Parker.”

Peter slowly shuffles to Mr. Reese’s desk. His hands are shaking, and he feels sweat forming on his brow. His breathing is tight. Mr. Reese grabs Peter’s belt loop, and pulls roughly so that Peter trips and ends up sitting on his teacher’s lap. “I wanted to talk to you about… this little secret of ours, Peter. I wanted to make sure you won’t go telling anybody. I could make things very complicated, Mr. Parker.” Peter’s teacher is whispering right into his ear.

“You wouldn’t want our little secret to get out. Very bad things would happen. To your aunt… what’s her name? May, right? Or what about that Tony Stark? I have ways to hurt people, Peter. You wouldn’t want to hurt them, would you? Because if something bad happens to Tony or Aunt May, it will be all. Your. Fault.

Peter doesn’t know how Mr. Reese could possibly hurt them, but he sounds completely confident that he could. Not to mention how hard it is to think clearly when Peter feels his teacher’s hot breath on his skin, his hand gripping Peter’s inner thigh. He can’t risk telling them. Not only would they think Peter was weak and disgusting, they could also be hurt. Peter shuts his eyes tightly, then nods.

“Good boy, Peter. I’m glad to hear we’ve come to an agreement.” Peter keeps his eyes shut, then feels his teacher kiss his neck. Peter flinches away and stands up. “Peter, sit back down.” Mr. Reese commands. Peter obeys, terrified out of his mind. Peter feels unwanted kisses pressed against his neck, his cheek. He feels Mr. Reese’s hands grab his arms. Surely Mr. Reese can feel Peter shaking. But he doesn’t seem to care.

“Get on your knees, Peter.” Peter hesitates, then follows the command. Peter doesn’t know when he started crying, but Mr. Reese gently brushes the tears away. Peter does his best not to flinch away from the touch. “You’re so beautiful.” Peter starts crying harder. He doesn’t know how much more of this he can take before he breaks completely. 

Mr. Reese, still seated in his chair, unbuckles his pants. Peter still sits on his knees in front of his teacher. Mr. Reese grabs a fistful of Peter’s hair, and pulls him towards his crotch. 

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

Peter walks out of Mr. Reese’s classroom about twenty minutes later in misery and pain. His mouth and throat are sore. It hurts him to walk. Peter clutches a late pass for second hour in his left hand. He wipes the tears away from his face, and heads straight to his next class; he doesn’t bother to pause at the bathroom this time. He can’t afford to do that. He just has to pick himself up and be fine.

Peter walks into Spanish, about fifteen minutes late to class. The only sign of the last twenty minutes is the slightly red complexion in Peter’s face. Ned looks at him from the other side of the room and silently makes a “Where were you?” gesture. Peter shakes his head, then hands his pass to his teacher.

She takes it, gives him a judging side glance, before telling him to take his seat. Peter walks over to Ned and sits at his desk, keeping a good distance from Ned. He can’t handle being touched again. Not at all. Ned goes to say something, but Peter quietly shushes him and opens his Spanish binder. Ned rolls his eyes, but keeps quiet.

The rest of the day flies by. Flash is back in school, seemingly fine after Monday. He gives Peter dirty looks, but doesn’t approach him. Does he know I’m Spider-Man? He doesn’t get his answer that day. 

Peter is completely on edge. He’s so close to a sensory overload. Every single sound, scent, and touch almost sets him off. Peter grabs his books out of his locker before making his way to Decathlon. They were having an after school meeting about the trip today. Mr. Reese would be there.

Peter walks into the library, then looks around for Ned and MJ. He sees MJ sitting at a table, quietly sketching. There’s only a few other team members sitting in the library. Peter had gotten to the meeting surprisingly early. Peter goes to sit next to MJ, who glances up and gives Peter a smile before focusing back in on her sketchbook. 

Peter plays on his phone for a few minutes, waiting for the rest of the team to show up to the meeting. Suddenly his spidey-sense screams at him, his neck tingling painfully. Peter whips around with his arms raised to defend himself, then sees Tony standing there with his own arm raised to grip Peter’s shoulder.

“Easy there, Underoos.” Tony narrows his eyes at Peter’s defensive position, then takes a step back. 

“Mr. Stark?” Peter’s posture eases, then Peter stands up and gives Tony a hug. Tony silently brushes off the ‘Mr. Stark.’ He is surprised by Peter hugging him in public, but decides to hug back. Maybe the kid had a rough day at school and just needed a hug?

Peter steps back, realizing just how public of a place they were in. His cheeks heat up in embarrassment, and guilt. I hope I didn’t just embarrass Tony… Peter looks at Tony. “What- what’re you doing here, Tony?”

“I’m here for the trip info. The two chaperones were told to come to the meeting. We talked about this in the car this morning, Peter…” Tony is giving Peter a seriously weird look. 

Peter has no recollection of this conversation, he was probably too nervous about- about first hour. “Oh- oh right. Yeah. Cool.” Peter nods, then sits back down next to MJ. Peter sees Ned has arrived, and sits on the other side of MJ. A slight feeling of pride and satisfaction courses through Peter when he sees the look of disbelief and admiration on some of the students’, mainly Flash’s, faces. Tony takes a seat in the empty chair next to Peter.

Mr. Reese walks in as Tony is taking his seat. Mr. Reese waltzes over confidently to join Mr. Harrington. His eyes immediately land on Peter, and gives Peter a look that might as well say ‘I own you.’ Peter shivers, then subconsciously grips the sleeve of Tony’s fancy suit. Tony glances up at Peter, but Peter has his eyes focused on the front of the room where the teachers are beginning to go over the details of the trip. Tony directs his own attention to the front of the room.

The teachers discuss the details of the trip. They point out who the chaperones are, Mr. Stark and Mrs. Leeds. They talk about rooming situations. Peter is rooming with Mr. Stark, Abe, and… Flash. Seriously? He doesn’t even get to room with Ned since Ned is going to be in a room with his mother.

Tony and Mrs. Leeds wave their hands so everyone knows who exactly the chaperones are, which is kind of pointless for Tony. The rest of the meeting goes quickly enough, excitement growing in the air as the teachers discuss the loose itinerary of the trip. Mr. Harrington calls the meeting to a close after about half an hour, then collects everyone’s permission slips. 

Mr. Reese and Mr. Harrington call over Mrs. Leeds and Tony to go over some chaperoning details. Peter waits at the table he has been sitting at, saying goodbye to MJ. Flash walks over and gets close to Peter’s face. Too close. Peter leans back, doing his absolute best not to repeat the Monday incident.

“You think you’re tough, Parker? Huh? You’re a scrawny little child, Penis. You just got lucky in that fight. I would kick your ass if it happened again.” What fight? Peter opens his mouth to ask, but Flash cuts him off. “Hey, how’re you affording this trip? You’re loser aunt definitely isn’t paying for it.” Flash gets even closer to Peter. “Oh, I think I know how you’re paying for it. You’re Mr. Stark’s little boy toy , aren’t you, Penis? I always figured you’d be good for nothing but some fun. Does Mr. Stark have fun with his little Peter?” Flash taunts Peter, only inches from Peter’s face.

“N-no. No.” Peter barely manages to whisper. Mr. Stark would never do anything like that. He would never hurt Peter. That was one of the few things in Peter’s life he was confident about. 

“Get away from Peter, Flash.” Ned snaps. “Go home.”

Flash doesn’t even bother to look at Ned. He shoves Peter out of his chair and onto the ground before leaving the library.

“Hey!” Tony looks over to see Flash shove Peter, but before he can continue yelling at Flash, the kid is gone. Tony walks over to Peter and helps him up off the floor. “Petey, you okay?” 

Peter shrugs Tony off harshly. “I’m fine.” He snaps.

Tony is taken aback by Peter’s tone. “Hey, bud. No reason to snap at me. I just wanna help.”

“I said I’m fine.” Peter grabs his bag then walks toward the library exit. 

Tony turns around to Ned. “What was that about?”

Ned shrugs. “He’s been… moody lately. His mood swings have been way worse than usual. I hope he’s okay.”

Tony looks back towards where Peter is walking toward the exit. “I hope so, too.”

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

By the time Tony catches up to Peter, Peter is already sitting in the car. Tony climbs into the driver’s seat and starts the car. Just before he pulls out of the parking lot of the school, he looks over to Peter.

“Pete, you wanna talk to me?” Tony raises his eyebrows.

Peter looks out the window and shrugs. Tony mentally rolls his eyes before trying again. “Pete. I saw Flash messing with you. Do you want to talk about it?”

Peter shakes his head and continues staring out the window. Tony decides to give in for now, and begins driving back to the Tower. He would deal with this when Peter has cooled off a little.

Back at the Tower, Peter immediately storms off to his room. Natasha and Clint are sitting in the living room, and both of them look up when they hear Peter and Tony arrive. Nat raises an eyebrow as Peter stomps past. Clint frowns, not used to Peter behaving like this. Clint turns to Tony. “What’s up with him?”

“His school bully. That kid’s a real piece of work.” Tony replies.

“You mean the bully, right?” Clint tilts his head.

“What…? Yeah, yeah the bully’s the piece of work.” Tony seems distracted.

Nat closes the book she had been reading. “He’s upset about more than just a school bully. Something else happened during his school day that set him completely on edge. Something pretty bad. ”

Tony looks at Natasha for a few seconds. “How could you possibly know all that from glancing at him as he storms by.”

“A magician never reveals her secrets.” Nat deadpans.

Tony rolls his eyes before sitting on the couch. A few moments of silence before Tony says, “I’m adopting him, you know. His aunt had Pepper bring the paperwork in last night. It’s all signed, I’ve just gotta talk to him about it. Probably should wait until he’s calmed down.”

Clint and Natasha don’t look surprised at the news. Clint has a glint of amusement in his eyes. “Well, welcome to parenthood Tony. Prepare yourself for mood swings and sass.”

“I already deal with that shit, Clint.” Tony gestures towards Peter’s room. There’s a pause in the conversation before Tony continues, “I’m really getting worried about him. His mood swings are getting more extreme. He’s happy less and less often. He’s… it’s like he’s just less himself. And he won’t talk to me about what exactly is wrong. He’s talked to me about some stuff, but I don’t think he’s told me what’s truly going on right now.” Tony clasps his hands together and leans his elbows on his knees.

“We’re all here for the kid, Tony. We’re all watching out for him. It’ll be fine.” Natasha says before going back to her book. 

“Yeah, probably.” Tony gets up from the couch and heads towards Peter’s room, then knocks on the bedroom door. “Pete?”

Peter startles from where he sits on the bathroom floor. His thighs are covered in cuts and blood. The need had been itching at him for hours, so he tore his skin open the second he got home. He just kept cutting deeper and deeper. Oh, fuck. I’m so screwed. “One second!” Peter calls through the bathroom and bedroom doors.

Peter quickly hides his razor under the sink, then starts trying to clean up the small amounts of blood on the bathroom floor. His thighs are still bleeding. He can’t throw pants on, his thighs would bleed through. I’m dead, I’m so dead.

Peter opens the bathroom door and runs over to his clothes dresser. He tosses his clothes around in the drawer before finding a pair of black shorts. He quickly puts them on, then goes to open the bedroom door. “Yes, Tony?”

Tony decided not to comment on the slight commotion he had heard through the bedroom door. “I just wanted to check on you. How’re you feeling, Petey?” 

“I’m…” Peter was going to say ‘I’m fine.’ But he doubts that would go over well. “I’m tired, I guess. And upset about Flash. He… he said some things…”

“Do you want to talk about what he said?”

“Not right now… maybe later.” Peter looks at his feet.

“Alright, well. I’m all ears whenever you need to talk. Anyways, I have something else I want to talk to you about.” Tony goes to sit on Peter’s bed.

Peter is silently freaking out. He just wants Tony to leave before he notices Peter’s bleeding thighs. Peter moves to sit next to Tony. “Yeah, what’s up?” Keep yourself calm and casual, Peter.

“It’s… well, I’m really excited about it. Your aunt and I have been talking about doing something like this for a while, and now we’re looking to officially make it happen.” Tony smiles at Peter.

Apprehension pricks at Peter. “Well, what is it?”

“May and I… we want to have shared custody of you. I want to adopt you, Pete. It would help with signing things for school, and medical emergencies. Basically would make a lot of practical and legal things much easier. But, it would also make you my kid. Officially.” Tony looks down at his hands. “I- I think of you as my kid, Pete. I don’t know if you feel similar about me, but…” Tony trails off.

Peter’s mouth hangs open in shock. Tony Stark wants to adopt him? He’s all- messed up. Peter isn’t anything special. He’s practically a walking time bomb of poor mental health. But Tony sounded so sure, so confident… And Peter knows that he definitely thinks of Tony as his father-figure. And May even thought it was a good idea. “Yes. Yes, yes, yes! Oh my God, that would… that would be great. I love it.” Peter feels a small smile creep up onto his face.

“I love it too, Pete. I’m so excited. Everything’s signed, there’s just a few more little things to take care of. Nothing for you to worry about. God, I’m so happy about this Peter.” Tony has a big smile lighting up his face. He gets up from Peter’s bed and heads toward the bedroom door. “I think we should celebrate tonight. Order your Thai food you love so much, or something? You want Thai.” 

Peter stands up as well and nods. “Sure, sounds great!” Peter looks down at his hands. “Maybe we could, um, get the Avengers and watch a movie tonight?” His voice is suddenly small and shy.

Tony laughs. “Sure thing, bud.” Tony walks back over to Peter to give him a hug. Peter tries not to flinch as Tony wraps his arms around Peter. Peter’s tense at first, but melts back into the hug. It seems like Tony is the only person he wants hugs from lately.

Tony pulls away after a moment. “Alright, I’ll order the food in a couple of hours. Think of a movie you wanna watch, okay?”

Peter nods, then hesitates as Tony turns to leave. “Wait- Tony?” 

Tony turns back around. “Yes, Underoos?”

Peter fidgets for a moment. “About… about Flash.”

Tony knits his eyebrows together, then waits for Peter to continue.

“He… he said some stuff about you.” Peter glances up at Tony. Tony again waits for Peter to elaborate. “He said that, um, the only way I was affording the trip was because… because I’m your ‘boy toy.’ And I know it’s not true! Not at all. But he was saying some really mean stuff, and it… it just triggered memories about… about him.” Peter stares down at the ground.

Tony doesn’t have to ask who ‘he’ is, knowing Peter means his old babysitter. “Oh, bud. I’m so sorry. You shouldn’t have to deal with Flash at all. Do you want me to talk to the school about the bullying?” 

Peter quickly shakes his head. “No, he doesn’t understand. He doesn’t know. He’s just… like immature and stuff.”

Tony hums. “That isn’t an excuse to talk to you like that. Something should be done about it. But I won’t do anything if you don’t want me to. Just think about letting me handle it, okay?” Peter nods. “Do you want another hug, Petey?” Peter nods again before raising his arms to Tony.

Tony wraps his arms around Peter once again, running his fingers through Peter’s curly hair. Tony whispers comforting words to Peter, and Peter savors the moment. He feels safe and peaceful in this moment, feelings he doesn't often get to enjoy anymore. 

Tony steps away and tells Peter he’ll have the food to the penthouse by 6:00. Peter nods, then says he’s going to work on homework for a few hours. Tony smiles before shutting Peter’s door.

Peter looks down at his shorts and sees that the blood was starting to seep through. Peter pulls off his shorts, relieved that his thighs have mostly stopped bleeding. Peter keeps on just his boxers and a sweatshirt, and goes to lock his door.  Just one more day of school before vacation. You can handle that, right? The sting of Peter's thighs keep him more grounded than he's been the past few days. Peter sits at his desk before getting out his history homework and getting to work.

Chapter Text

Thursday is a good day. Peter’s extremely surprised about how well Thursday has gone. Mr. Reese wasn’t in school because he and Mr. Harrington were out preparing for the school trip. Flash wasn’t in school today, either. Peter has no clue where Flash was, though. Due to these circumstances, school went by smoothly. 

Another thing making Thursday so excellent was that Peter was having Ned and MJ over to the Tower after school. Peter had asked Tony last night if he would mind if Ned and MJ over to help get ready for the trip. MJ would be staying the night so they could get to school early tomorrow morning. Ned has to go home around 8:00 pm, though, since his mother is the other chaperone.

Peter’s practically vibrating with nerves and excitement at the thought of having Ned and MJ come over for the first time. The last bell of the school day rings, and Peter bounces out of his chair. He had packed his things into his backpack a few minutes before class ended, so he was out of the classroom door about five seconds after the bell rang.

Peter tightly grips his backpack straps, rushing to his locker. When he gets there, he grabs the things in his locker and shoves them into his backpack. Peter sees Ned a few lockers down from his. Peter turns around, searching the crowded hallway for MJ. He spots her a moment later and waves.

MJ catches Peter’s eye and gives him a small smile, walking towards him. Ned joins Peter at his locker just as MJ reaches them. “Sup, losers?”

“Hey, MJ. You guys ready to go?” Peter looks between his two friends.

Ned excitedly nods so quickly that he looks like he’s vibrating. Peter giggles and starts walking toward the school exit. Peter had planned on the three of them walking back to the Tower together, but then he spots Happy standing next to one of Tony’s black SUVs. “Change of plans, guys. Looks like we aren’t walking.” Ned and MJ give Peter confused looks, so he points towards Happy. “That’s one of Mr. Stark’s cars.”

Ned’s mouth drops open. “Does that mean he’s in there!?”

“Probably not, Ned. You’ll have to wait until we get to the Tower.” Peter laughs.

The trio reach Happy and the car. “Hey, Happy!” Peter exclaims.

Happy grunts, putting on his silent tough guy act around MJ and Ned. Peter rolls his eyes as Happy opens the car door so the teens can climb into the backseat. They clamber into the large car and Happy shuts the door before going around to the driver’s seat. The partition between the front and back seats is already up.

The teenagers buckle up as Happy begins driving off to the Tower. Ned asks Peter questions about the Tower the entire way there, and Peter repeatedly tells Ned, “You’ll have to wait and see.” MJ is mostly silent, simply thinking about what the Tower will be like to herself. When the Tower comes into sight, Ned begins asking Peter even more questions that he refuses to answer. The SUV enters the parking garage of the Tower, and Happy drives to the private upper levels before pulling into a parking spot.

Ned, MJ, and Peter grab their bags and get out of the car. Peter offers to carry MJ’s heavy luggage bags, and MJ politely declines. Happy leaves, too. But he says goodbye to Peter before walking towards the public elevator, presumably heading off towards the more public levels of the Tower.

“Come on, guys.” Peter begins walking toward the opposite direction of Happy, towards the private elevator that would take the trip up to the penthouse. The three of them pile into the elevator, which becomes slightly crowded with their school bags and MJ’s luggage. Peter presses the penthouse level and the elevator begins ascending. 

Ned is shaking with anticipation and excitement. MJ is silent, but amusement glimmers in her eyes. Peter, however, is really beginning to feel nervous. He’s taking his friends to meet the Avengers. He has no clue who will be there, or what they’ll do. Will the team embarrass Peter in front of his friends? Or what if they don’t like his friends? No, they’ll love Ned and MJ. My friends are amazing.

The elevator doors pull apart, revealing the penthouse. To Peter, it’s his home. (His apartment in Queens is home too, of course.) But to Ned and MJ, it’s where the Avengers live. The freaking Avengers. The teens walk out of the elevator, Ned and MJ staring in awe about the space. “Alright, let’s drop our stuff in my room.” Peter leads the way to his bedroom.

He had tidied up his bedroom before he left this morning, not really wanting Ned and MJ to find his secret shit hidden around his room. He had even made his bed. MJ and Ned set their stuff near the bedroom doorway. Peter leans his backpack against his desk and then turns to face MJ and Ned.

“Okay, so… who’s ready for an apartment tour?” Peter gives an awkward smile and thumbs up, trying to bury his nerves. Ned and MJ laugh, then the friends all walk back out into the hallway. “Okay, um. These are most of the Avengers bedrooms. Tony and Steve’s is farther down this hall, then to the right, though. And Wanda and Vision have a separate apartment on the floor above us, I think. Or maybe it’s the floor below…?” 

Ned’s hanging jaw resembles a fish out of water. “This is so. Cool. So where’s, like, Falcon’s room?” Peter points to a door a little farther down the hallway. Ned whispers, “ So cool…”

Peter leads his friends back out towards the main living area. “So this is the living room. We have movie nights together sometimes… um. One time Clint and I were in the middle of a prank war, and he jumped out of a vent. I was sitting-” Peter stops. He had lost his train of thought. What was I talking about? Telling stories was also so frustrating with ADHD, especially when he was nervous or excited. 

“You were talking about Hawkeye and pranks, Peter.” MJ provides helpfully, used to Peter blanking out during storytelling. 

“Oh, duh! So yeah I was sitting on the couch watching TV and Clint pops out of the vent. He scared me so bad that I jumped up high enough to hit the ceiling.” Peter points to the high vaulted ceiling of the living room. “Yeah, there used to be a different light fixture up there, but I kinda broke it when I landed on the ceiling.” Ned whistles, impressed at the story. MJ laughs lightly.

“Yeah, and then Stark made me pay for the light. He could’ve afforded it.” Peter whips around a few seconds before the other two, the tingling on the back of his neck sensing something behind him. “Anyways, are these your friends?” Clint stands next to the teenagers.

“Hey, Clint. Yeah, yeah these are my friends. This is uh Ned, and this is MJ.” Peter points to his friends in turn.

“Clint Barton.” Clint reaches out to shake Ned and MJ’s hands. Peter’s friends’ faces are both varying degrees of shock.

“You’re Hawkeye.” Ned bluntly states.

Clint laughs. “Yes, but please call me Clint.” He’s clearly used to being ogled at. 

So cool.”

Peter elbows Ned. “So who else is around the Tower today?”

“Uhh, I’m not entirely sure. I just got back from the NYC SHIELD HQ. Nat is still there until about 5:00 tonight. Um, I think Bruce is also at SHIELD today? Tony’s in a business meeting that Pepper made him go to. And Steve is walking out of the kitchen.” Clint looks to his right, where sure enough Captain America is walking out of the kitchen while biting a sandwich.

Steve’s eyes land on the group standing behind the couch. “Oh, Tony told me you guys were coming. Are you MJ and Ted?”

Peter rolls his eyes. “It’s Ned. Tony just can’t ever remember his name.”

Ned looks ready to keel over from a heart attack at any second. “Hello, uh, Cap’n… sir… America.”

Steve gives Ned an awkward smile. “Well, make yourselves at home. We’re having dinner at 6:00 tonight. I think Sam is making cheese Ravioli for dinner, since you two are vegetarian.” Steve points at Peter and MJ. 

“Heh, Thor won’t be thrilled about that.” Peter jokes.

THOR’S HERE!?” Ned shrieks. 

Peter and Steve snap their hands over their ears. “Ned, buddy. Super hearing, yeah?” Peter winces.

“Oh- right. Sorry.” Ned’s face turns tomato red.

“That’s alright, son.” Steve’s eyes glint with amusement. “Anyways, to answer your question: yes. Thor is here.” 

Ned and MJ look at each other excitedly. They were about to meet the same guy they study in Physics! Peter keeps his focus on Steve. “Thanks, Steve. Um, do you know when Tony will be back from his meeting?”

“Oh, go on down to the lab in about fifteen minutes. He wants to meet you guys there. But he also says Ned and MJ can’t touch anything because he ‘doesn’t want a lawsuit from their parents.’” The teenagers laugh, and promise not to touch anything in the lab. They say goodbye to Steve and Clint before Peter shows them where the bathroom is, a game room, the dining room, and then the kitchen.

The group of friends hang out in the kitchen for a few minutes. Ned and MJ are talking excitedly about meeting Steve and Clint. Peter pulls them out of their buzzing chatter to tell them it’s time to see the lab. They pile back into the elevator, and Peter presses the button for the lab. The doors open into the lab hallway. Peter punches in the code, and the lab doors slide open.

Tony isn’t there yet when they walk in, so Peter herds Ned and MJ over to the couch that sits in the lab. They hang out on the sofa, Peter telling Ned and MJ about different things he and Tony have worked on. The trio turn their heads when the lab doors open a few minutes later, and see Tony standing there in one of his business suits. 

Tony is typing away on his phone and doesn’t notice the teenagers sitting in his lab. Peter notices that Tony looks absolutely exhausted, which causes Peter to worry. “Um, hey Tony." 

Tony looks up from his phone and his face lights up with a bright smile. “Hey, Petey!” Tony hustles over to where Peter has stood up and gives him a hug. 

“Tonyyy…” Peter complains, embarrassed in front of his friends.

“Oh, like they care.” Tony pulls away, though. “So, Ted and MJ right?”

Ned and MJ.” Peter rolls his eyes. “And you saw them a little bit at the meeting yesterday. And you’ve met MJ before the meeting.”

“Yeah, I remember. I just have a hard time with names. Pepper loves that about me.” Tony jokes. “So did Steve go over the rough game plan for tonight?”

Ned and MJ nod. Tony smiles. “Alright, great! So, who wants to mess with some safe junk in the lab?” 

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

The teens have a field day with Tony in the lab. They all lose track of time, and are surprised when FRIDAY tells them it’s time for dinner. 

“Was that the AI you tell us about?” MJ nudges Peter.

“Yep, that would be FRIDAY.” Peter replies.

The group make their way back up to the penthouse. The smell of Italian food hangs in the air. Tony leads Peter and his friends over to the dining area. The table has been pulled out to make more room for the guests. Natasha, Clint, Steve, Thor, Wanda, Vision, Bucky, and Bruce all sit around the table. Tony and the teens take their seats, MJ and Ned’s faces are priceless . Tony sits with Steve on his left and Peter on his right. Ned and MJ sit to the left of Peter. Sam brings in the last thing he needs from the kitchen and sits down.

The conversation is cheerful and never dulls, MJ and Ned asking the Avengers a bunch of questions and the Avengers asking questions right back. Peter’s nerves and excitement jumble up his brain, and he keeps interrupting people or talking too much. In the back of his mind, he feels embarrassed, overly aware of what he’s doing. Could you shut the fuck up, you complete idiot? God, could you be more annoying? No wonder Mr. Reese wants to punish-

“You’re not being annoying, Peter.” Wanda narrows her eyes at Peter.

Peter widens his own eyes. “I- what? I didn’t say anything.”

Wanda frowns. “Oh, sorry. I must’ve misheard something.”

The table is completely silent, everyone looking back and forth between Peter and Wanda like it’s the world’s quietest tennis match. Peter quickly excuses himself to the bathroom.

When Peter reaches the hallway, he practically runs to his bedroom. He closes the door. Well that was embarrassing. Was Wanda in my head? What if she’s been in my head before? Peter jumps just before there’s a knock on his door. 

“Peter? Can I come in?” Wanda stands on the other side. Peter opens the door.

“Were you reading my thoughts? That’s… that’s not cool, man.” Peter feels anger bubbling up inside him.

“No… well, not on purpose. It was an accident. I didn’t mean to.” Wanda seems to speak with sincerity.

“Well you were. How… How much have you heard? Have you listened to my thoughts before?” Peter’s nearly panicking. Wanda can’t know about Mr. Reese, or anything else.

“I heard something about you thinking you are annoying? And something else. Your teacher punishes you?” Wanda studies Peter’s face. 

Peter tries to keep his mind off his teacher, but quick images of his time with Mr. Reese flashes through his head.

“Peter, what the fu-”

“Get out of my head!” Peter yells. He shoves Wanda out of his room, and she slams into the wall of the hallway. Peter locks himself into his bathroom. Why did you do that? What the fuck were you thinking? Ned and MJ are here! Wow, you’ve really fucked up this time.

Peter’s hearing detects the others running down the hallway to see Wanda laying on the ground. He hears Steve ask her if she’s okay, and she says she is. She explains that she accidentally read some of Peter’s thoughts, and that she had been having some trouble with her telepathy lately. She avoids saying exactly what she had heard from Peter’s head. 

Peter hears Tony telling FRIDAY to override the lock on Peter’s bedroom door, then his bathroom door when Tony notices that Peter is hiding in his bathroom. The door opens and Tony walks in before closing the door again. His eyes land on Peter.

“You wanna explain yourself?” Tony’s voice has a hint of anger in it. “I’ve been really patient lately, Pete. Okay? But you can’t throw your friend into the wall so hard that she breaks through the drywall. That’s not okay. Doesn’t fly here.”

Peter flinches when he hears how hard he threw Wanda. It had felt like a light shove to him… just how strong was he? You’re dangerous. You’re a monster. Peter doesn’t respond to Tony.

“Pete, you have to work with me. This is being dealt with before tomorrow morning. You’ve got Ned and MJ out there and they are extremely worried about you. Everyone is worried about you. We’ve all noticed how you’ve been acting… off recently. Pete, I’m begging you. Please, talk to me. What is going on ?” Tony’s eyes are pleading, boring into Peter.

Peter avoids Tony’s eyes. “Nothing is going on.”

“Peter, that’s bullshit. Do you need a break from Spider-Man?”

“No!”

“A break, Pete. Nothing long term, just something to help with your mental health?”

“The last thing I need is a break from Spider-Man!” Peter is yelling at Tony, forgetting the amount of people standing outside in the hall.

“Then tell me what you need, Pete! Why won’t you tell me what’s wrong?” Tony isn’t quite yelling, but he certainly isn’t using his indoor voice, either.

Peter remains silent this time. What he needs is for everything to just stop. But that isn’t something you can just say to someone. And he can’t tell Tony about Mr. Reese. There’s too much at stake on that. He can’t risk it, not at all. So Peter stays quiet.

“Peter. Look at me.” Tony’s voice quivers. Peter looks up at Tony. “Pete, you’re not okay. I just want to help you. Is… is someone hurting you? Is someone bullying you? You can tell me anything, bud. You’re safe. It’s just you and me. Just lay it out right now.”

Peter doesn’t say anything, opting to stay mute. Tony studies Peter for a few moments. “Fine.” Tony leaves the bathroom and shuts the door, leaving Peter by himself. Peter curls in on himself and starts crying. 

Tony walks into the hallway. Every set of eyes is on him. Tony tells the Avengers he’ll be back in a minute before pulling MJ and Ned aside. “Do you two have any idea what’s going on with Peter?” Ned and MJ shake their heads. “You don’t know of any like… extreme bullying or anything I should know about?” MJ and Ned both say no. “Well, just… just hang out in the living room. Ned, your mother will be here in like half an hour. MJ, you can go home if you want to. Or you can stay here for the night like we planned.”

“I’ll stay here, Mr. Stark. The least I can do is keep Peter company tonight. He doesn’t… he doesn’t seem okay anymore.” MJ whispers the last sentence. Both of the teens are clearly worried about their best friend. MJ and Ned head off towards the living room, and Tony heads back to the other Avengers.

“Wanda, Steve, Nat. Let’s talk somewhere the kid with enhanced hearing can’t hear us, yeah?” Everyone gives some sign of agreement. They all head into Tony and Steve’s room, figuring it should be far enough for Peter not to be able to hear them. The other Avengers had gone to join Ned and MJ in the living room.

Tony turns to Wanda. “What exactly just happened? What did you hear in his head?”

Wanda hesitates, then decides that it might be a good idea to tell the others in the room about what she saw. “It was dinner, and Peter thought to himself that he was annoying. And… and that he deserved to be punished by his teacher or something. And then he ran off to his room, and I followed him. He got angry at me for invading his privacy, which is valid. Then when I asked him about what happened at the dinner table, these- these images flashed through his mind. I didn’t mean to pick up on them again, but they were so powerful .”

“What images?” Nat asks Wanda.

Wanda looks at Tony. She hesitates before answering. “Images of… of someone touching him. Sexually assaulting him.” Tony’s breath catches. “I couldn’t see who it was, Peter was trying to block the memories from himself, and me.” Her breath shakes.

Tony figures she’s talking about Skip. She must be. “That… those are old memories. From his childhood. I’m not going to get into it, it’s not my place. He told me about some things from his past. But… but what triggered it? I don’t know how to help him. I don’t get it.”

Steve, Nat, and Wanda are horrified by the news they’d just been burdened with. Peter had been sexually assaulted as a child. That boy has been through so much, and he’s so young.

“How do I get him to talk to me? Or anyone? He refuses to open up.” Tony rubs his face with his hands.

“Just be patient, Tony. Continue to be there for him so he has you to talk to when he decides to open up.” Steve tells Tony.

“I know. It just sucks, watching him go through all of this. I’m going to keep an extra eye on him on the trip. He isn’t going to be leaving my sight.”

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

Little did Tony know, he wouldn’t have to keep an extra eye on Peter. Peter plans to stick to Tony like glue, and if he can’t be next to Tony then he’ll be with Ned and MJ. The only way he’s going to enjoy this trip is by staying as far away from Mr. Reese as possible. 

It’s about 9:00 pm now, and Peter and MJ are hanging out in Peter’s room. MJ was allowed to sleep on an air mattress in Peter’s room as long as they kept the bedroom door wide open. Peter and MJ were laying on their beds, both in deep thought. Peter’s stressing about how the trip is going to go. He just wants a break from Mr. Reese, and school, and maybe even a few days off of Spider-Man. He’s honestly looking forward to not having to save the city or the world for a few days.

MJ looks over at Peter. “Pete? You okay?”

Peter blankly nods, keeping his eyes focused on one certain spot. “‘M fine.”

MJ squints at Peter. “You sure? Because you look like you’re zoning wayyy out. How about we go through a checklist of everything you have packed for tomorrow?”

Peter nods again, barely registering what MJ said. He feels so tired and spacey right now. MJ gets up and grabs Peter’s suitcase, then sets it on her bed. “Hey, come here. Tell me if you have something as I read it off, okay?”

Peter hums, and does as she says. By the end of the list, his mind feels slightly sharper. He leans back against his bed frame. “MJ? I’m sorry about- about earlier. I’m not really having a great time right now.” Peter throws up a peace sign to try and break the tension, or cope with humor.

MJ sits down on her own bed. “I know, Pete. We all care about you. We just want you to be safe and happy, yanno? And besides, the rest of the day was super awesome. I just had dinner with the Avengers, man.”

Peter lets out a small laugh. “Yeah, you get used to it after a while though. At some point, they started seeming a little less like the Avengers, and more like… more like family? I don’t know, I’ve only ever really had May and… and Ben. But now I have this huge family of super powered heroes. It’s exhausting sometimes, but it’s also amazing. And you and Ned? You guys are my family, too.” Peter smiles at MJ.

“I concur, Peter.” MJ smirks. “Now, we have to be up at like 4:30 or some stupid shit. So goodnight, loser.”

“Goodnight.” 

Chapter Text

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.

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

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. 

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

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.

Chapter Text

Most of the Decathlon team somehow succeed in getting their correct luggage and assembling at the front lobby of Los Angeles International Airport. Peter’s noise cancelling headphones and sunglasses are back on, which he finds annoying. He had been able to take them off for the last few hours of the flight. But within five minutes of getting off the plane, his senses have resorted to attacking him again.

The group is waiting in the airport lobby for Mr. Reese, Mrs. Leeds, Ned, and Abe. Mr. Harrington is going around the group making sure everyone has all their luggage. For the fourth time. The longer the group waits, the worse Peter’s senses overload. Every laugh, every footstep pierces through Peter’s headphones. He begins fiddling with the sleeve of Tony’s shirt to try and focus on one single thing.

Tony is trying to balance taking care of Peter and watching at least ten other kids. He is definitely not used to this sort of thing, and Peter is making his job slightly more difficult since he is sticking to his mentor’s side like glue. Tony doesn’t really mind, he just has to try and keep up with everything. Tony’s glad they’re at least teenagers, so it’s not like they’re bickering over sharing toys or something. 

Flash walks by with his phone screen pointed toward himself, loudly live streaming the group of high schoolers inside the airport. MJ is sketching a tired looking man on a bench. A few students are grouped together looking at a large map of LA. 

Mr. Harrington walks around the group of students for what is probably the fifth time, this time asking about any specific allergies. When he gets to Peter and Tony, Tony has to answer for Peter since Peter is completely immersed in Tony’s jacket sleeve. Tony lists off Peter’s allergies, peppermint, vinegar, and turmeric. Mr. Harrington frowns at the oddly specific allergies, but doesn’t question it.

Tony remembers when they found out Peter was allergic to both of those things. The first time was when Peter, Steve, and Tony had gone out to eat at a restaurant. On their way out of the restaurant, they had been given small peppermints. Peter had excitedly popped one in his mouth, and about ten minutes later they were rushing to the medbay because Peter was breaking out in horrible hives.

They had found out about Peter’s allergies to turmeric and vinegar through experimenting. Red flags had gone off because of Peter’s sudden peppermint allergy, since he used to be able to eat peppermint all the time. Tony and Bruce had done some research, and found that certain substances were harmful to spiders. Not to get into the disastrous details, but they had successfully confirmed that Peter had a mild allergy to peppermint and turmeric, and a probably deadly allergy to vinegar.

Tony snaps himself out of the memory, remembering he has to watch a group of overexcited teenagers. He does a head count, and then relaxes. Everyone is accounted for. Mr. Reese, Mrs. Leeds, Ned, and Abe rejoin the group after finally retrieving Abe’s backpack. Tony begins to listen to instructions Mr. Reese is giving, not noticing Peter suddenly pressing against his side. 

Peter wants to listen to the instructions for the day, but it’s hard to focus when the man saying them is… him. Peter continues to fidget with Tony’s sleeve, trying to focus on keeping his breathing even. His sunglasses feel too tight, his headphones feel like tight pressure on his ears. He can feel his tag on his shirt. Peter closes his eyes, but then realizes his hands are stuck to Tony’s sleeve.

Mr. Reese finishes the instructions, and the group begin to head outside the airport lobby. Tony begins walking with the group, and Peter almost stumbles. He hadn’t noticed the team starting to move. Tony looks down to Peter, Tony’s expression mostly hidden by his own pair of sunglasses. “You okay, Pete?”

Peter nods, then looks up to make sure the group won’t hear him. “I’m kinda stuck to your sleeve. Just give me a sec.” 

Tony stops walking so Peter can focus on unsticking his fingers. He succeeds pretty easily, and Tony wraps an arm around Peter and begins walking toward the rest of the group again. “You’re doing really good with keeping calm right now, kid.”

Peter smiles, feeling proud of the compliment. I can do this. I can enjoy the trip.

The class all board a bus to head into downtown LA. They drive to Hollywood Blvd, the street their hotel is on. How expensive is this place? How did we get so much funding? The Decathlon students unload themselves and their luggage from the bus, and stand in a huddle. Everyone is looking around at the surrounding buildings. A theater sits on the other side of the street from them. Restaurants seem to be everywhere.

Mr. Harrington calls the class to attention before directing everyone into the W Hollywood Hotel. The students make their way into the building, and stare in awe at the hotel they’ll be staying at. A large staircase circles upwards to higher levels of the hotel. Exquisite furniture is strewn about the lobby. The teenagers and their chaperones sit down on the black couches while Mr. Harrington and Mr. Reese check the class into the hotel. 

Tony is busy dealing with Flash filming a few students who clearly do not want to be filmed. Peter tells Tony he is going to the bathroom and Tony mutters an okay to Peter before returning to the conflict.

Peter quickly walks to the bathroom, nervous about leaving his friends’ sides. He travels down a long hallway, the bathrooms sitting at the end of the hall. He passes a shorter passage leading to the right before finally making it to the bathroom. He pushes open the bathroom door and goes into one of the stalls. He doesn’t even have to use the bathroom, he just needs some peace and quiet to give his enhanced senses a break. Peter welcomes the complete silence the bathroom offers, until he hears the bathroom door open and footsteps approach his stall. 

Peter’s breathing stops, and he waits completely tensed until the footsteps pass his stall and enter another one. Peter unlocks his stall and immediately exits the bathroom, not wanting to be alone with anyone in the mostly empty room. Peter begins walking back down the hallway, but his spidey sense painfully erupts down his back before he’s pulled towards his left down the short corridor he had passed earlier.

Peter comes face to face with Mr. Reese. How did he know I was down here? Peter’s panicking, but he freezes. Maybe if he doesn’t move, Mr. Reese will just let him go. What a stupid idea. His teacher begins pulling him down the short passage towards a black door that sits on the left side of the hall. Peter doesn’t fight back, scared of what Mr. Reese will do if Peter upsets him.

Mr. Reese yanks Peter into the room at the end of the hall. Peter stumbles, barely managing to catch himself in the tiny room. Mr. Reese closes the door and it’s pitch black for a moment before Mr. Reese flips on a dim light. Peter realizes they’re in a janitors’ closet. How did he know this was here?

Peter can barely breathe, he’s pushing himself as far away from his teacher as possible and yet is still pressed up against him. Peter feels his hands beginning to shake already. Without thinking, he reaches for the door. Mr. Reese roughly grabs Peter’s wrist and wrenches it away from the exit. “What do you think you’re doing, Peter? We’re about to have fun, right?” Mr. Reese’s voice is filled with false sincerity.

Mr. Reese removes Peter’s headphones from his ears and his sunglasses from his face. He then pulls Peter’s chin up so that Peter is forced to look into his eyes. His head is being pulled up so high that he is forced to stand on his tiptoes. Mr. Reese pulls Peter so he’s further pressed against his teacher. “You don’t want to misbehave, right Peter? You know what would happen if you did.”

Peter quickly nods his head, fear controlling every cell of his body. He feels Mr. Reese grab his butt and push Peter’s groin so his entire body is pressed against his teacher’s. Peter feels revulsion encase himself. He wants nothing more than to be out of this tiny closet. Mr. Reese smirks before whispering in Peter’s ear. “I think you should apologize to me, Mr. Parker.”

Peter gulps, and quickly tries to get the words out. He can barely speak at all. “I said you should apologize, Mr. Parker!” Mr. Reese slaps Peter’s face, causing Peter to fall against the shelves of the closet.

Peter stutters out as much of an apology as he can manage. Mr. Reese is seemingly satisfied, and pulls Peter back up against himself. “Take your shirt off, Peter.” 

Peter struggles to take his shirt off, then drops it onto the ground. Mr. Reese hasn’t asked him to do anything like this yet. A new wave of fear rushes through Peter. His legs feel like jelly, he can hardly stand up. Mr. Reese takes his own shirt off, before pulling Peter against himself and beginning to kiss his lips, his neck, his collarbone. 

Peter tries to stay as still as possible, not wanting to upset his assaulter. He still squirms slightly under the unwanted touch. “Please- I- I want Mr. Stark. I don’t want to.” Peter whines quietly. 

Mr. Reese grabs Peter’s hair painfully before forcing him onto his knees. “Well Mr. Stark isn’t here, Peter.” Mr. Reese unbuckles his pants, and Peter knows the drill by now. He hates himself for this last fact. Tears stream down the teen’s face as his teacher abuses his mouth and throat. Peter’s head is pounding, and his teacher’s fingers tugging on his hair is not helping his headache. 

Peter tries to focus on anything else but the present. He tries to escape to his own world, but he can’t. Peter is stuck in the here and now. After a few minutes that feels like hours, his teacher pulls out of Peter’s mouth. He grips Peter’s hair tighter and hauls Peter to his feet. Mr. Reese roughly pushes Peter against the wall, and Peter feels his teacher’s hands unzip Peter’s pants. Peter’s pants and underwear slide down to his ankles.

“No- please…” Peter whispers. Peter tries to cover himself with his legs, but he feels his teacher’s hands grab his groin painfully and begin stroking. Peter wriggles under his teacher’s grip, tears blurring his vision entirely. Mr. Reese is kissing Peter again, and Peter tries to turn his head away, but Mr. Reese grabs his head and keeps it in place. 

Mr. Reese lets go of Peter’s face and runs his hand over Peter’s bare chest, his other hand still stroking. Peter is fidgeting, trying to keep still but failing. He wants everything to stop, he can’t do this. He wants Tony. He wants out of this closet.

A few minutes later, Peter’s teacher finishes the torture. He kisses Peter one last time before throwing him to the ground. “That was… lovely, Peter. I look forward to the next time we have fun. Remember, no telling anyone about how much fun we have. Our little secret. Now, you’ll stay in here for a few minutes before you leave. We wouldn’t want anyone seeing us walking around alone together, now would we?” Mr. Reese shuts off the closet light, leaving Peter mostly naked and shivering in complete darkness.

Staying in the closet a few extra minutes wasn’t really a problem. Peter probably couldn’t have moved on his own, anyway. He’s violently sobbing, his shoulders shaking. His breathing is quick and short, his headache is agonizing. Peter wraps his arms around himself and continues to cry into the black darkness.

After his sobs have quieted down, Peter begins struggling to pull his pants up. He sits in just his pants for a moment before grabbing his shirt and clumsily yanking it over his head. He finally puts his headphones in his pocket and places his sunglasses back over his eyes, despite the room being darkened. Peter sits up slightly, his back pressed against the wall. He grabs for something in his pocket, and pulls out his wax pen. Maybe a high is the last thing he needs, but he has to forget about what just happened… even if it’s temporary. Besides, the long drags of the pen and the burning sensation help him to calm down slightly.

 Peter’s probably been sitting in the closet for another ten minutes hitting his pen before he struggles to pull himself into a standing position. Peter takes a few more hits of his pen before repocketing it. Peter wipes his face with his hands and dusts himself off. He is barely holding it together, tears threatening to spill from his eyes again. Peter reaches for the door handle and opens the door.

He slowly walks into the main lobby of the hotel. Most of the students have disappeared, probably having headed to their rooms. The only people remaining from Midtown High are Tony, Ned, and Mrs. Leeds. The three of them are all looking around the lobby, probably searching for Peter. Tony’s eyes land on his teen, and relief floods through him before being replaced by anger.

Peter watches Tony march over to him, and Peter takes a step back. He’s still on edge from the last half hour, and his body can’t trust anyone right now, not even Mr. Stark.

“Peter! What the hell? Where were you?” Tony isn’t quite yelling, but he’s pretty close. Mrs. Leeds and Ned approach Peter and Tony, but Tony waves them away, saying he has it handled. Ned and his mother begin to head upstairs to their hotel room.

Peter doesn't answer, his mouth trying and failing to form any words. He can’t speak at all. Tony is unimpressed. “Well? Where the hell were you? Seriously, Peter. I’ve been looking for you for twenty minutes. You weren’t in the bathroom like you said you were!”

Peter’s eyes are widened, his heart is racing. Mr. Stark is standing too close, and thoughts of Mr. Reese are drilling into Peter’s brain. This is stupid. Tony isn’t Reese. But Peter’s body isn’t on the same wavelength as his conscious, so he’s simply frozen.

Tony knits his eyes together, noticing Peter’s odd behavior. “Kid? Hey, what happened? Did something happen? I’m sorry, Pete. I’m not mad anymore, I was just worried!” Tony goes to give Peter a hug, but Peter flinches away. Tony definitely notices that. “...Peter?”

Peter forces out a short sentence. “N- nothing happened.”

“Bullshit, kid. If nothing happened, then what’s wrong?”

Peter shakes his head, but then the tears begin again. Tony internally curses, he’s at a complete loss as to what to do. “Okay, Pete? How about we go up to the hotel room? Would that be okay? Good news! I managed to convince Mr. Reese to let you and me room separately from Flash and Abe as long as we have connecting rooms.”

Peter flinches again at the mention of his teacher, but Tony doesn’t pick up on whatever Peter flinched at. Tony hands Peter his backpack, and Peter grabs it. Tony notices that Peter does his best not to touch Tony at all. Tony grabs his and Peter’s suitcases, ready to take both up. Peter, however, takes his suitcase from Tony and wheels it himself.

Tony leads his kid up to their hotel room. He opens the door with his keycard into a room with two queen-sized beds. There’s a door in the room that Peter figures leads to Flash and Abe’s connected hotel room. Peter takes his stuff over to the bed farther from the front door and sets it down on the floor. Tony sets his stuff on his own bed before sitting down and patting the bed, indicating he wants Peter to sit down.

Peter doesn’t sit down next to Tony, but he does sit down in the middle of his own bed. Peter purposely keeps his eyes away from Tony. He is doing everything he can not to give away his… “secret” to Tony. He does his best not to flinch again when Tony begins speaking.

“Petey? Did you… was someone bugging you? Did something- um, did one of your triggers… yanno?”

“Y- yes.” Peter says this word so quietly that Tony barely hears him. Peter figures this isn’t technically a lie. His teacher assaulting him over and over is probably a trigger.

“What would you like me to do, Pete?” Tony figures that asking what trigger Peter ran into is just about the worst thing he could do right now. 

Peter considers this for a moment. Tony wants to help, and Peter wants Tony to stop feeling worried. So his best course of action is, well, to let Tony help. But how? 

“Petey? How can I help you to feel safe?” Tony asks gently.

Peter’s calming down just by being in the room with his mentor. “Just give me a moment, p-please.” Peter’s voice is small. Tony nods, and decides to check his phone for any important texts or emails.

Peter tries to collect himself. He needs to get his shit together. He needs to act fine. He needs to act like his teacher didn’t just fucking assault him again. Nope, don’t think about that. Think about good things. Peter turns his attention to the hotel room they’re in. It’s a very fancy hotel room. The walls are white, with one dark grey feature wall. There’s a plush window seat that looks out over Los Angeles. A large white desk and chair sit below the TV in front of the beds. Peter decided he thinks the lamps around the room are ugly, though.

He continues to judge the hotel room, taking his mind off the traumatic events of the day. He realizes his senses have calmed down, so he pulls his sunglasses off of his eyes. Tony notices Peter’s movement. “How are you feeling, buddy?”

“Better.” Peter answers shortly and quietly. He breathes for a minute. “Can we- can we watch a Disney movie?”

Tony checks the time on his watch. It’s about 1:00 pm. Everyone has free time until 3:00, when they are supposed to meet downstairs in the lobby. “Sure, Underoos. What movie?”

“I don’t care.” Peter lays down on his bed, still not feeling up to cuddling or anything. Tony turns on the TV and streams Rio . Peter chuckles a little, knowing Rio isn’t a Disney film. He doesn’t really care, though. It’s still a good movie.

Tony half watches the movie, but mostly answers emails. He texts May to let her know that Peter’s class landed in LA safely, and that Peter had some trouble with sensory overload. He also mentions that Peter might’ve gotten triggered. May doesn’t answer back, but Tony isn’t surprised. She’s still in class.

“So, Pete. I was thinking we could do something fun with Ned and MJ during our free time tomorrow afternoon? I know LA like the back of my hand, so I have some ideas.”

Peter gives a small, tired smile. “Sounds great.” His tone is flat.

Tony nods, and offers Peter an encouraging smile. Peter and Tony spend the next couple of hours hanging out in the hotel room, waiting until they have to head down to the lobby. Peter’s mind feels fuzzy, his high helping to distract him. But there’s another layer of fuzzy buzzing in his head. Peter welcomes it, a numb and dreamlike feeling washing over him. Right now, Peter would rather feel numb than revolting and panicked

Maybe it would be better if I never felt anything again.

Chapter Text

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.

Chapter Text

It’s about 4:30 am when Peter’s eyes snap open, Mr. Reese’s evil features burned into his mind. Peter doesn’t move at first when he wakes up from his nightmare. He’s all out of sorts. Peter realizes he’s laying on his back and slowly sits up, his entire body shaking. Why do I always end up on my back when I have nightmares? 

Peter looks to his right to see if he woke up Tony, and finds that the older man is still asleep. Peter sighs in relief, he’s glad that Mr. Stark is actually getting some sleep. Plus he doesn’t want to cause Tony any worry. 

Peter lays back down and grabs his phone. He doubts he’s going to fall asleep anytime soon. He spends a few minutes playing games on his phone, trying to beat the anxiety inside his chest. The anxiety is winning though, so Peter grabs his pencil sharpener and wax pen out of his backpack before softly walking across the hotel room into the bathroom.

Peter shuts the bathroom door and locks it, then pulls down his pajama pants and perches on the edge of the bathtub wearing only his t-shirt and boxers.. He spends a while just hitting his pen and scrolling through Instagram, looking forward to the relief the high and the pain of his razor will eventually bring.

 Peter sets his pen down and easily breaks his pencil sharpener in half, being careful not to drop it on the cold bathroom tile. The last thing he needs is to wake Tony up. It’s the first night in LA and I’m already cutting myself. What a pathetic moron. 

Peter holds the tiny silver blade in his hand before bringing it down to his thigh and quickly slicing. His body is tingling, and he swipes the razor across his skin repeatedly. Peter’s face holds no emotion, but inside he feels completely elevated. He leans his head back slightly, enjoying the tingly emotions he feels. He breathes in deeply and feels a tiny smile across his face. There’s something seriously wrong with me. Peter switches between his pen and his razor for the next half hour. His only other option would be to go back to bed and have more nightmares, and Peter is not interested in that idea whatsoever.

Peter’s now sitting on the bathroom floor with his back pressed up against the bathtub. He feels cold and shaky, but it’s better than being stuck in his mind with Mr. Reese. Peter’s mind is swimming in a numb-filled high, he doesn’t quite feel connected to his own life right now. Peter decides he’s completely fine with this. Who in their right mind would want to live Peter’s life anyways?

Peter watches the blood bead along the cuts on his thighs and smiles again. Seriously, who the fuck enjoys this? The stinging pain is a complete relief to Peter right now. He shuts his eyes and leans the back of his head against the top of the bathtub. 

He lifts his wax pen to his lips and takes a long drag, then forgets he’s even taking a drag. Peter lets out a tiny cough before realizing he’s just doomed himself. He begins coughing uncontrollably, the burning tightness in his lungs uncomfortable. But he’s dealt with worse. Peter tries to quiet down his coughing as quickly as possible, not wanting to wake Tony up. 

Too late, Peter hears footsteps slowly approaching the bathroom door. “Peter? Are you in there?” Peter’s heart is hammering in his chest. He’s sitting on the floor completely high, smoke filling the room. He’s bleeding all over from his thighs. He’s still coughing, albeit quietly. And now Tony is on the other side of the door trying to talk to him. 

“Petey? Kid, are you in here? You okay?”

“Yea-” cough “Yeah, I’m fine.” A small coughing fit follows.

“Uh, are you sure? You’re not sick, are you? You sound like you’re having a hairball in there.”

Peter doesn’t answer Tony, trying to stop his coughing entirely.

“Peter?” Tony is starting to sound extremely worried. “Peter, seriously kid. Do you need help?”

“No- Just- choking on my own spit.” Peter’s coughs have finally started to calm down, but he’s still sitting on the bathroom floor with blood all over the tops of his legs.

“Um. Okay, Pete. Come out when you’re ready, I guess. I need to take a shower.” 

Shower? It’s like… 5:30 am. I thought we didn’t need to be downstairs until 8:00? Nevertheless, Peter waits for his thighs to stop bleeding before hopping in the shower and quickly cleaning himself off. His legs sting under the hot water, and he can feel every single drop of water across his skin. He jumps back out of the shower before throwing his pajamas back on and leaving the bathroom.

Tony is sitting on the edge of his bed looking at his phone. He looks up when Peter enters the room. “Hey, Pete. You didn’t need to get up for another hour, kid.” He notices the dark circles under Peter’s eyes. “How- how long have you been awake?”

“Uh, I don’t know. I couldn’t sleep.” Peter shrugs his shoulders before pulling his suitcase onto his own bed to grab out a fresh change of clothes.

“Nervous about later today? You wanna talk?” Tony questions Peter, trying to keep his tone casual and welcoming.

“No, I had a nightmare about… stuff. I’m fine now. I got enough sleep.” Peter dismisses Tony’s concern and pivots his entire attention towards his suitcase, acting like he’s searching for something in his luggage.

“Okay, well I have to be downstairs by 7:00 am to meet with the other chaperones.” Tony picks up on Peter’s rather obvious hint that he doesn’t want to talk right now, and heads toward the bathroom. Tony dramatically rolls his eyes to himself. He doesn’t know what he’s going to do with this kid. 

Peter hears the bathroom door close behind him and feels his shoulders relax. He doesn’t even know why he was tensed up in the first place. Peter quickly changes into his clean clothes, throws on some deodorant, and tries to tame his curly brown hair. 

Tony walks out of the bathroom a few minutes later. Tony sees Peter laying on his bed playing on his phone, and Tony walks over to Peter before asking, “Can I hug you, Pete?” 

Peter nods absently, and Tony leans down to press a kiss to the top of Peter’s curls and then gives his shoulder a light pat of affection. “I’ll see you downstairs in the lobby at 8:00, okay Pete?”

“Sure thing, Tony.” Peter looks up from his phone to see Tony leave the hotel room. It’s about 6:30 now. He returns his gaze to his phone screen and continues to text Ned. 

[Ned] Seriously, dude. Come over to my room for a few minutes and hang out. Josh, Tyler, and I are streaming my Switch to the hotel TV. It’ll be fun, they’re cool. Plus everyone is taking turns getting ready, so it won’t be crowded for a while.

[Peter] idk ned. guess it couldn’t hurt :)

Peter puts his phone in his pocket and decides to head over to Ned’s hotel room. He gets up from where he lays on the bed and grabs his wallet and hotel keycard. Peter grabs his shoes in his hand and opens the door. I’ll put my shoes on when I leave with Ned and everyone.

Peter steps out into the hallway before someone accidentally runs into him. Peter looks up and lo and behold, there stands Mr. Reese. Mr. Reese realizes he ran into Peter, and a cruel smile grows across his face. Peter begins to back into his hotel room, his only option of escape. But Mr. Reese follows Peter into his room before he can shut the door.

Mr. Reese pushes Peter further into the hotel room before shutting the door. “Today seems to be our lucky day, huh Peter?”

Peter shakes his head, his lip quivering with distress. The absolute lack of luck in Peter’s life is truly beginning to feel unreal.

Mr. Reese checks his wrist watch. “Well, it seems we have just a few minutes before I must be downstairs. What do you say we have some fun?” Mr. Reese steps closer to Peter, standing about half a foot away from the panicked boy.

At this exact second, the door to the connecting hotel room opens. “Hey, Parker! I was-” Flash notices Mr. Reese standing in the hotel room with Peter. Peter feels a tiny shred of hope fluttering in his heart. Maybe he can’t tell someone, but maybe someone can just… happen to find Peter being fucking assaulted and needing help. “Oooh! Parker’s in trouble. ” Flash teases, clearly not realizing what is going on. He closes the door, shutting off Peter’s small hope for salvation.

Mr. Reese locks the door behind Flash and turns back to Peter. A look of apprehension flashes across Mr. Reese’s face, but is gone as quickly as it appeared. “Now where were we?” The fresh excitement in his teacher’s eyes makes Peter want to vomit. 

Peter doesn’t fight back as Mr. Reese pushes Peter onto his own bed, slowly pulling Peter’s shirt over his head. His teacher pulls off his own shirt and begins caressing Peter’s bare chest. Peter doesn’t even move this time, his fear and shock and the… familiarity… causing Peter to freeze up. 

Mr. Reese slides his hand down Peter’s pants, gripping and massaging Peter’s privates. He slides his tongue across Peter’s cheek before shoving it into Peter’s mouth. Peter’s lip still trembles, and hot tears fall down his face. But still, Peter remains motionless.

He stares at the ceiling as Mr. Reese violates his body. He barely blinks as his pants are pulled off of his legs. Mr. Reese stops and sees the new cuts on Peter’s thighs. “These are beautiful, Peter.” Mr. Reese licks Peter’s carved skin, and Peter shivers in disgust, his face pinching in discomfort.

 He barely breathes as Mr. Reese removes his own pants, and painfully grips Peter’s hips. Peter feels each fingertip against his skin. The tears run one after the other down the sides of Peter’s face into his hair. He begins quietly sobbing as he feels white hot pain between his legs. His fingers tangle in the bedsheets for support. Mr. Reese pushes into Peter harder and harder, and Peter feels sick from the rocking. 

Mr. Reese finishes his ‘fun’ with Peter, and pulls out. Peter turns on his side and sobs into his pillow. Mr. Reese licks Peter’s ear and whispers, “You are mine. I own you. Not Stark. Remember that. ” He stands up and pulls his clothes on. Just before Mr. Reese leaves the hotel room, Mr. Reese turns and faces Peter.

“Today was so much fun, Peter. I’m glad we were lucky enough to have this moment together. I’ll be thinking of you.” And with that, he walks out of the room.

Peter clutches his bedsheets in his hands. He whines quietly, not wanting Flash and Abe to hear him in the other room. His little secret. ‘I own you.’ Peter cries harder at this. It’s true. Mr. Reese does own me. I’m disgusting and filthy. Peter looks at the time on the alarm clock and sees it’s almost 7:00 am. He gets out of bed and heads back into the bathroom to shower again. 

Peter scrubs his entire body with soap three times before simply sitting in the scalding water. He hugs himself, whimpering in pain and embarrassment. He can still feel Mr. Reese’s tongue dragging across his cheek, across his thighs. He can feel the fingerprints his teacher left on his hips, can see the bruises they left behind. Peter buries his hands in his hair and pulls, his body racking with sobs and anger. Why does this keep happening? Why can’t it stop- I just want it to stop. 

But- but I CAN make it stop. I could make everything stop. It would be so easy. I can’t tell Tony or May, or Ned and MJ. No, but I could make everything stop so quickly. Peter turns the shower off, his mind suddenly numb. He changes into new clothes, not daring to wear the ones from earlier. Peter hits his pen, blowing large puffs of smoke around the room. He feels around in his backpack before retrieving his razor and pressing it to his wrist.

He hesitates. It would be so easy. Just right here, right now. He would never touch you again. But… but what about his friends? What about the Avengers, or May? What about Tony? Tony would be the one to find Peter if he… He can’t do that to Tony. Mr. Stark has already been through too much in his own life. Peter could stop the pain, but not here. Not now. 

He throws his blade back into his backpack, and paces the room while taking lengthy drags from his pen. Peter stays far away from his bed. He can’t bear to be anywhere near it. He can’t even look at it. Suddenly the hotel room feels suffocating, so Peter throws his shoes on and heads off to Ned’s hotel room. It’s about 7:40 now. Peter knocks on the door, and comes face to face with Tyler. 

“Oh, hey Pete. Come on in.” Tyler’s voice is welcoming, and he gestures into the hotel room.

Peter doesn’t smile or respond, which seems to catch Tyler off guard. If it does, Tyler doesn’t say anything. Peter walks over to where Ned sits on a bed. “Hey, dude! We’re playing Mario Kart if you want to join?” 

Peter sits on the floor in between the beds and slowly shakes his head, still not able to speak. Ned figures Peter is just tired, and shrugs before selecting the next Mario Kart level. Peter numbly watches the bright colors of the TV screen, flinching every time any of the boys make loud noises of excitement over the video game.

Five minutes to 8:00, the teens all begin to gather their belongings for the day. Everyone leaves the hotel room, Peter keeping his distance from the group. A few other Decathlon teens are leaving their own hotel rooms. Peter puts one foot in front of the other, simply following the flow of traffic to the elevator.

His thoughts are jumbled. There’s a ringing in his ears. Peter isn’t paying attention, and suddenly realizes he’s standing in the middle of the lobby at the edge of his class. His teachers and chaperones stand in front of the group of teenagers. Peter keeps his eyes on the ground, hardly listening to whatever Mr. Harrington is saying. Peter can feel Mr. Reese’s eyes on him, and his cheeks burn with shame. 

Peter shifts his weight back and forth from one foot to the other. He fiddles with the sleeve of his hoodie. It’s not as satisfying when it’s my own sleeve. Peter glances up and realizes the class has started walking away into a new part of the hotel. Peter begins walking forward quickly to catch up with everyone else. 

He’s trailing the back of the class when he notices Mr. Stark approaching him. “Hey, kiddo. You ready for today?”

Yeah, I guess. Peter doesn’t realize that those three words never actually left his mouth. Tony is confused when Peter doesn’t even show a sign of hearing his father figure. “Hey, earth to Peter?”

Peter slowly turns his head to look at Tony. Tony narrows his eyes and studies his kid’s face. “Are you sure you got enough sleep? You aren’t acting right.”

“I’m sure. Probably jet lag.” Peter’s tone is robotic.

“I mean, I guess? But like we have a big thing this afternoon. So are you ready for this or not?” Tony’s tempted to pull Peter out of the mission right now, but he remembers the last time he took Peter’s suit. Things hadn’t gone very well that time. Tony knows there’s nothing he can truly do to keep Peter out of the fight this afternoon.

“I’ll be fine.” Peter mumbles. He absentmindedly grabs Tony’s jacket sleeve, preferring it over his own. Tony walks with his arm outstretched towards Peter, used to the stance by now. Peter continues to fiddle with Tony’s sleeve the entire walk to the restaurant the class would be eating breakfast at.

Peter doesn’t even know the plans for today besides free time after lunch. And kicking the Fire Elemental’s ass at 3:00. He decides his best bet is to just go with the flow. He is simply existing at the most basic level right now anyways. Mentally, Peter has completely checked out. Should probably check back in around 2:00.

The Decathlon team arrives at the restaurant inside the hotel to eat breakfast. Peter sits with MJ and Tony, still fiddling with Tony’s right sleeve. Tony helps Peter pick out what he wants, realizing Peter isn’t even looking at the menu. He’s completely zoned out. MJ and Tony share a concerned look, having a silent conversation with their eyes and mouthing words that goes something like-

Is this an ADHD mood swing/zone out thing?

Maybe? Seems kind of drastic. He woke up like this, and it’s only gotten worse.

MJ frowns at the news, returning to her menu. The waiter comes by and takes their orders, Peter remaining silent. Tony looks over when the waiter leaves to see Peter laying against Tony’s shoulder with his eyes closed.

MJ sees Peter and asks, “Is he sleeping?”

Tony shrugs with his unencumbered shoulder. “Honestly, I hope so. He seems overtired. It could be all the sensory overloads, I guess.”

“Yeah, that would actually make sense. This is why he doesn’t travel much, huh?”

“Yeah, you combine super senses, ADHD, loud noise and bright lights, and unfamiliar places? You get one big stew of sensory disaster. It has to be hard to keep up with all that right now.”

Tony and MJ remain quiet after that, trying to let Peter sleep. When the food comes about half an hour later, Tony gently rouses Peter so that he can eat. “Hey, bud. Would you like your glasses and headphones?” Peter nods, and Tony hands them to him. Tony’s only slightly surprised that Peter said yes. This restaurant isn’t super noisy or bright. But maybe this whole trip would just be hard on his senses until they got home.

Peter has two helpings of food in front of him, and he numbly eats. He doesn’t even taste the food as he slowly chews and swallows. Hopefully the food will help him feel magically better. He really has to ground himself and focus on acting normal.

The class finishes breakfast around 9:30 and heads off to board their bus. Peter sticks himself in between Tony and MJ, grabbing a fistful of Tony’s sleeve to keep himself grounded and aware. Tony and Peter take their seats, Peter sitting on the window side. He once again leans his head against Tony’s shoulder and dozes off as they head off to their next destination.

Chapter Text

The Decathlon team arrive at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art around 9:45 am. Everyone gathers around Mr. Harrington as he tells them that they have about four hours to spend at the museum. 

“And everyone can eat lunch at any of the restaurants on this campus.” Mr. Harrington finishes his speech, clapping his hands together and setting off to check the group into the museum. 

The class disperses into smaller groups. Peter hangs out with Tony, Ned, and Ned’s friends Tyler and Josh. He looks around for MJ before seeing her travel off into a separate direction with Betty. 

The teens are all hanging out, joking and laughing, having a great time. Except Peter. He giggles every once in a while, and he is enjoying himself. But he stays pretty quiet for the most part. The only person Peter really has been speaking to is Tony. Tony is a much more calming presence than Ned’s friends. Every time they try to talk to Peter or joke around, he starts to feel nervous. But he’s glad that Ned is having fun with them and Peter.

Tony gets a phone call and steps away into a different room to answer. Peter, Ned, Tyler, and Josh all stay put in the room they’re in. It’s a large open space with paintings all along the walls. Ned walks off to find a bathroom a few minutes later, leaving just Peter, Josh, and Tyler.

Peter is staring at a painting that caught his interest, and doesn’t notice Josh and Tyler walking away from him at first. When he turns around, he sees them on the opposite side of the large room. His hearing begins picking up on their conversation, despite the distance. 

“...is up with him? He’s always been a bit awkward, sure. But now he’s just being completely weird.”

“Right!? I tried asking him a question earlier, trying to be nice. And it’s like he didn’t even hear me. He completely ignored me, even when I repeated myself.”

“Dude, he’s being a complete freak. It’s getting kind of annoying.”

“We could always just ditch him. If anyone asks why we left him, we’ll just say we got lost.”

“Anything’s better than hanging out with Peter for another second.”

Peter’s heart feels like it’s being weighed down. He knows he’s been acting weird. Doesn’t he kind of have a right to? No, of course he doesn’t. No one knows about his secret with Mr. Reese. So why should he get a pass to be a… a ‘freak.’

Peter stays in the large room. He hugs himself, trying not to cry. He doesn’t feel like having Tony or Ned come back and see they can’t leave him alone for five minutes without him becoming a whiny baby.

  It’s not like they were being mean to my face, like Flash. This is nothing I can’t handle. Well then why am I so fucking emotional right now? God, everyone probably thinks I’m a ‘freak.’ 

Ned, MJ, Tony. They all probably think I’m completely losing it. Maybe I am. Tony’s probably completely sick of me by now; I haven’t given him hardly a second to himself lately. He probably despises being with me.

I could fix that. Permanently. Make sure Tony never has to be sick of me ever again.

Shut up, me.

Peter’s fighting back tears to the best of his ability. He’s about to just go and hide in the museum to give his friends a break from the freak , when Ned enters the open space again. Peter throws a fake smile onto his face when he sees Ned walking up to him. Good thing you have sunglasses to hide your eyes, you crybaby.

“Where did Tyler and Josh go?” Ned looks around the room.

“Oh uh… not sure. I think they wanted to cover more ground quickly...” Why are you even lying for them? Or are you lying for you? So you don’t look like a loser that no one can stand to hang out with. Peter gives his head a light shake to clear his thoughts.

Peter and Ned spend the next few minutes taking pictures with the art in the room. Well, Peter takes pictures of Ned. Ned tries to take a few pictures of Peter, but Peter isn’t in the mood to pose and smile.

They hang out talking about one painting that catches Ned’s attention until Tony walks back into the room from his phone call. Tony notices he’s down two teenagers. “So where’d uh… the other two go?”

Peter shrugs and Tony frowns. Ned pipes up instead. “Peter says they wanted to cover more ground faster.”

“Well, okay. I guess we get to have all the fun to ourselves then.” Tony smiles at Ned and Peter. They continue on into the next art exhibit. As they’re walking, Tony unconsciously gravitates his arm toward Peter. He doesn’t even realize what he’s doing until he notices Peter hasn’t grabbed his sleeve. 

Tony looks at Peter, who is walking farther away from Tony than usual. Tony decides this is slightly odd, but maybe Peter just wants some personal space right now. Tony puts his arm back down to his side.

Tony couldn’t be more wrong, though. Peter wants nothing more than the physical comfort of Tony or his friends. He’s always been a very touchy kid with people he cares about and deeply trusts. But right now he’s keeping his distance so that he doesn’t annoy Tony. Because obviously Tony must be completely sick of Peter.

Tony, Ned, and Peter spend the next few hours examining the paintings and sculptures of the museum. Around 11:00, Tony makes Peter sit down and drink some water and eat a super soldier granola bar. “When I said I was going to force feed you these, I meant it.” 

Just before noon, Ned and Peter get a text from MJ. Ned opens it and reads aloud:

[MJ] Hey losers meet for lunch at “Ray’s and Stark Bar.”

[Ned] Sounds good. Thanks MJ

Tony rolls his eyes at the name of the restaurant. “For your information, I do not own that restaurant. Let’s go.” The trio make their way towards where they’ll be eating lunch. 

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Everyone’s digging into their food. Ned and MJ are talking excitedly about a few newer TV shows they and Peter had binge watched together. Peter has yet to join in on the conversation. He hasn’t said a word since Ned asked him where Tyler and Josh yet; he doesn’t want to be annoying or bothersome. 

Tony tries a few times to strike up a conversation, but Peter just gives short nonverbal responses. Ned and MJ finally share a look, coming to a silent agreement. They begin discussing Peter’s favorite theories about Star Wars, except they specifically cite facts incorrectly. This goes on long enough that Peter just can not take it any longer and quietly speaks up about them both being wrong about certain things.

They continue to talk about Star Wars theories, relieved that Peter has finally joined the conversation. Tony feels happy that Ned and MJ got the teen to talk. And not only did they get Peter to talk, but they got him to talk with enthusiasm . Peter is excitedly blurting out fact after fact about his favorite movie franchise, his hands waving as he speaks.

Tony smiles as he listens to Peter, Ned, and MJ talking nerd talk.

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

The class exit their bus, stepping back out onto Hollywood Boulevard. They stand in front of their hotel, gathered around Mr. Harrington. 

“You have the rest of the day for free time! You can go anywhere safely as long as you have at least two other people with you. You can not travel anywhere on public transportation. You have to stay within a walking distance. Everyone must be back in the hotel room by 8:00 pm. That gives you about… six and a half hours! After that, pool time until 10:00 and then lights out.” Mr. Harrington wraps it up, and everyone practically runs away to explore Los Angeles.

Tony, Peter, Ned, and MJ spend their time in shops on Hollywood Blvd, and finding the Avengers’ Walk of Fame stars. Peter poses for a picture next to each one, proud of his family’s accomplishments. Tony and Peter get down next to Tony’s star. After a few minutes, people realize that the Tony Stark is posing with teenagers next to his own Walk of Fame star.

Tony sees the paparazzi beginning to form. “Run!” The group of four begin running before a mob can form, and duck into a quiet shop. They look around in the shop for a few minutes, buy a few things, and walk back out onto Hollywood Blvd when they realize the coast is clear. 

Tony puts on the baseball cap and aviator sunglasses he bought inside the store, determined not to run from any more paparazzi. The rest of their time is spent in and out of shops, until about 2:30. 

Tony gathers up the teens. “Alright. You all know about the fight that is about to happen, right?” The friends all nod. “Okay, good. I got a phone call earlier. Mysterio is sure it’s going to happen in Griffith Park. So stay away from there. But be extra cautious. They haven’t picked up any tremors that indicate the Elemental will be in Griffith park, unlike the past two Elementals.”

Ned and MJ nod in understanding, and they say goodbye to Tony and Peter. Tony and Peter duck into an alleyway so Peter can change. Tony pulls Peter’s suit out of his backpack and hands it to Peter.

Peter goes to take off his shirt before realizing his heart is racing. He can’t change with Mr. Stark anywhere near him. This is stupid. Tony would never hurt me. Why am I freaking out? Nevertheless, Peter asks for some privacy and Tony steps back out of the alley. Peter quickly changes into his suit, and connects to Comms. 

He tells Tony he’s ready, and Tony double taps his nanotech unit. The Iron Man armor covers Tony, and he rises a few feet off the ground, grabs Spider-Man’s hand, and flies into the air. He drops Peter, who slings a web to the nearest building and begins swinging. Their teamwork is effortless, words unnecessary. 

They’re sitting in position in Griffith Park by 2:40. Peter is sitting in a tree, Tony flying above the park. They’re keeping watch, but seeing no signs so far of the Elemental. Peter sees Quentin zoom overhead.

“Hey, guys. Glad to have you here. Any sign of the Elemental?” Quentin asks into comms.

Peter shakes his head before realizing no one can see him. “No, sir. Nothing yet.”

“Oh so he’s ‘sir’ now?” Tony jokes into their voice channel.

Peter feels a small smile tug at his lips. 

No one speaks for a while. The longer they wait, the more uneasy they grow. Something should have happened by now, right?

“Shit.” Peter hears Tony curse.

“What’s wrong? Do you have eyes on the target?” Quentin asks.

“No, it’s-” Tony’s quiet for a short moment. “FRI says the Elemental is… attacking the Santa Monica Pier…?”

Peter frowns. “But that’s like… mostly water?”

“And metal. A good chunk of metal. We have to hurry, we can’t let the Fire Elemental consume metal, otherwise it will grow and become unstoppable. It will destroy this Earth entirely.” Quentin sounds nearly panicked.

Peter hears Tony scoff. “You really couldn’t have mentioned that last bit before now? On my way, Underoos. Get ready.”

“Got it.” Peter stands up and gets ready to shoot a web. He sees Tony flying towards him, and latches on before being pulled up into the sky. He lets Tony pull him towards Santa Monica, Tony putting on an extra burst of speed. Way faster than swinging sometimes.

“Beck, why isn’t the Elemental at Griffith Park? You were certain it would be there, we had the entire park evacuated.” Tony questions.

“I don’t know!? It attacked there on my world. I don’t know what’s going on now. But we can do this, we can stop it.” Quentin sounds determined.

The Pier and the Fire Elemental come into view. The Elemental is on the beach, slowly approaching the rides and the boardwalk. Peter drops off of Tony onto an oddly shaped white building. Now that he’s closer, he sees the Elemental is actually around the middle of a parking lot, heading onto the sand. 

“It’s already gotten a ton of cars. I’m pretty sure it’s bigger than it was when it arrived!” Quentin curses himself for causing the delay in reaching the Elemental.

Tony can’t do much in terms of fighting the Elemental, so he begins trying to simultaneously evacuate the civilians on the Pier while also moving any metal out of the path of the monster of fire. 

Peter surveys the area, trying to come up with a game plan. “Tony, focus on the metal. I can get the people!” 

Peter swings into the parking lot, and then from streetlight to streetlight. He reaches the pier and begins directing people onto the beach and away from the growing Elemental. “Come on, come on! Let’s move it people!” Could my New Yorker accent get ANY thicker right now?

Peter hears a helicopter and looks up to see the news stations have arrived. At least they’re staying far away from the Elemental. Wait- I really hope my class doesn’t realize I’m Spider-Man. I should’ve gotten a different suit… maybe something black. That could be cool. Peter focuses back on the people he’s saving.

Mysterio flies around the monster, shooting jets of water at it to try and slow it down. The monster is too large now to simply be put out with the water Mysterio throws at it. He casts a large spell of green mist towards the monster and it gets pushed back about twenty feet, gaining Quentin a few more minutes to take it down. 

Peter swings further down the Pier, searching for more people. Suddenly he hears screaming coming from the Ferris Wheel. Peter runs over to the end of the dock and shoots a web onto the roller coaster near the Ferris Wheel before pulling himself up.

Peter surveys the yellow and red gondolas of the Ferris Wheel for the source of the screaming. Peter sees… That’s it. I’m fucking retiring. Ned, MJ, and Betty all sit in a bright red gondola, holding onto the sides. The Ferris Wheel has stopped turning, either abandoned by the ride worker or somehow broken. Peter hops down to the controls and realizes he has no clue how this thing works. 

He slings up to the occupied gondola, tempted to ask how and why the fuck they were here. But Betty is here, so he decides that’s not a good idea. Peter deepens his voice before speaking. “Hey, kids. One at a time, I can lower you to the ground.”

 Betty goes down first, grabbing onto Peter who slowly lowers them both to the ground. Peter tries to squash the panic inside him when he feels her touching him. Peter quickly hops back up to Ned and MJ before turning to see where the Fire Elemental is. Shit, that’s a lot closer than I hoped. It’s halfway across the beach now, despite being slowed down by Mysterio and now Iron Man. 

Peter whips back around to Ned and MJ. “So much for not going anywhere if it wasn’t on foot, huh guys?”

“We figured it would be further and safer. Plus Ned is trying to win Betty’s heart.” MJ teases, but apprehension burrows into her tone. 

Peter rolls his eyes before lowering Ned to the ground. He climbs up the Ferris Wheel one last time and grabs MJ. Normally he wouldn’t mind her or Ned touching him, but their entire bodies are pressing against him and his body is racing with adrenaline. That’s a Peter Parker problem for later. Focus your ass up.

Peter and MJ reach the ground and Spider-Man begins leading the three teenagers across the Santa Monica Pier. He tries to stick to the southeast side of the Pier, but it’s too late. The group turn a corner and see the Fire Elemental practically on top of them, only about forty feet away. Forty feet is NOT very far when a massive mound of fire is right there. 

The group backpedal, and Spider-Man turns to face the teens. “Okay, I’m gonna lower you guys into the shallow water and you’re going to run to the south side of the beach as fast as you can. Got that?” The teens all nod their heads quickly in assent. 

Peter lowers Betty and MJ at the same time, having them grab a web together. They reach the beach and let go of the web. Peter does the same with Ned. Spider-Man salutes the teens and motions for them to start running away from the chaos. Ned and MJ take one last look at Peter before turning and sprinting alongside Betty.

Peter is considering jumping down to the beach and going to the beginning of the Pier to approach the Elemental from behind, when suddenly a wall of flames erupts between him and the beach. Peter is forced back into the middle of the Pier, where fire then begins to surround him. Peter’s eyes burn from the heat and the smoke, and it’s difficult to breathe. He keeps his mask on, though. 

Peter turns around in a circle, and begins to panic. There’s nothing for him to sling a web to, and he can’t run through the dense flames. “T- Tony. I’m stuck!” 

Tony’s heart stops for a second at the fear in Peter’s voice. “Where, Pete?”

“I don’t know- I can’t see through the smoke.” Peter tries to look through the black fog, tries to find anything that can tell him where he is. He can’t even see the Elemental. 

“FRI, can you find Peter?”

“I can’t find his heat signature through the blaze, boss!” 

“Shit.” 

Meanwhile, Peter continues slowly trying to navigate the Pier. If I can just somehow find the edge of the Pier… But his stupid spider powers are causing trouble to thermoregulate. It’s so- so hot… Peter stumbles, and his arm erupts in pain. He whips his gaze to his left arm to see it on fire. Peter pats out the flames as quickly as he can before shallowly breathing a sigh of relief.

Then the coughing starts. The smoke is so thick, and surrounds Peter entirely. He had hoped the mask would help filter the smoke somehow, and maybe it is. But it’s not enough. Peter is nearly engulfed in flames now. Maybe this is it. Maybe that’s okay.

A sharp pain bursts across Peter’s neck and back and suddenly he’s swatted across the Pier, landing in the water. His senses had been too out of it to dodge whatever hit him.

Tony sees Peter’s figure go flying across the Pier, probably having been smacked by the Fire Elemental. 

“Go, I have this handled! I can end this here and now!” Mysterio shouts, before summoning a large burst of green energy.

Tony doesn’t stay to watch what happens, instead immediately shooting towards where he saw Peter land in the water. “FRI, find him now!” An outline of Peter’s figure appears on Tony’s HUD, and he flies into the water. Tony sees Peter and grabs his unconscious form before flying back out of the water and playing Peter carefully on the beach.

Tony quickly makes sure no one is looking before removing Peter’s mask. “FRI, scan.”

A moment later, “Start CPR now!” Tony is thankfully trained in CPR, seeing as it can be quite useful when your full time job is being a superhero. The Iron Man suit retracts, and Tony starts compressions, pleading under his breath for Peter to be okay.

After painful minutes, Peter coughs. He spits out water, gagging for a moment. His breaths come out in wheezes.

“Oh, my God. Come here, baby.” Tony grabs Peter’s weak body to him, curling his fingers into Peter’s hair and gently rocking back and forth. Tony places his chin on the top of his head, muttering soothing words to Peter.

“Stark, the Elemental has been taken down. Where are you? Is Peter okay?” Beck’s voice sounds in Tony’s earpiece. 

Tony ignores him for a moment, focused solely on Peter. “We’re- don’t worry about it. We’re okay. Just report back to Fury. I don’t need him bothering Peter right now. We’re fine.”

“You’ve got it.” Mysterio replies before closing comms.

Tony looks down at Peter’s face against his chest. “Hey, Petey. You with me?”

Peter’s eyes are closed, but he weakly nods his head. Tony makes sure not to hug Peter too tightly, since Peter is probably having trouble breathing.

Tony puts on his sunglasses. “FRI?”

“Here, boss.”

“Scan Peter. I need to know how bad this is.”

After a quiet moment, FRIDAY answers. “With his healing factor, Peter should be fine with rest and care from you. I would advise against a hospital, he will recover on his own. The hospital would only question Peter’s enhanced body.”

Tony’s slightly surprised that Peter doesn’t need medical attention. How much has his healing factor grown? But he also knows that FRIDAY is right. A hospital would not be good for Peter if he can recover on his own.

“Can you move, Petey?” Tony asks.

Peter nods his head, and Tony moves to help Peter stand up. The teen leans his entire body weight on the older man, and Tony supports his kid. 

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

Somehow, with great struggle, Tony and Peter make it back to the hotel. They had stopped in the alley where Peter had changed, and Tony had thrown Peter’s clothes over his spider suit.

Peter is entirely out of it mentally, but he’s regaining his strength slowly. He no longer feels quite as dizzy or nauseous, and it has become much easier to breathe. But his mind is completely foggy and it’s hard to think or keep his eyes open.

Ned, MJ, and Betty are sitting in the lobby waiting for them. They both stand up when they see Tony and Peter enter. The teens rush over.

“Oh my God. Are you guys okay?” Ned sees Peter slumped against Tony, his eyes half closed.

“We’ve been better. Peter will be fine with rest. Don’t worry.” Tony himself has a nasty cut across his forehead.

At that moment, Mr. Harrington and Mr. Reese come rushing over.

“Mr. Stark, are you okay? Does Peter need a hospital?” Mr. Harrington is panicking.

“No, we’re fine. I had my AI scan him. He’s just… in shock. And covered in soot.”

“What were you and the other three teens doing over there? That was out of the boundaries we had set up. What were you thinking?” Mr. Reese is glaring at Tony.

Tony glares right back. “First of all, I had no clue a frickin’ monster was going to erupt out of the ground. Second of all, Ned, MJ, Peter, and uh… Becky? were all with me, but then paparazzi started swarming me. We hopped in a cab to get away from the mob, and ended up at the Pier. We were about to head right back but then the Elemental attacked and I had to deal with it. I got the kids to safety.” Tony doesn’t break eye contact with Reese. He definitely has bent the truth… a shit ton. But these kids have been through enough today, they don’t need to be in trouble.

“Now, I’m going to get all of these kids to their hotel rooms for the evening. I’ll make sure they get dinner and whatnot. You all can worry about the rest of the class.” Tony leads Peter and the other three teens toward the elevator.

Betty and MJ stop at their hotel room and say goodbye to Ned, Peter, and Tony. “I’ll have some cheese pizza sent up to you guys in an hour.” Tony promises.

Tony, Ned, and Peter continue down the hall before reaching Tony and Peter’s hotel room. The hotel maids have cleaned and straightened up the room since this morning. Tony goes to lay Peter down on his bed, but suddenly Peter flinches away from his bed.

“N-no!” Peter whines.

Tony and Ned are extremely confused at this. Tony lays Peter on Tony’s bed with no problem. Peter is covered in soot and ash, and is definitely too out of it for a shower. But Tony needs to get the kid cleaned up so he can comfortably rest. Tony turns to Ned. “Hey, go grab a change of clothes and take a shower. Come back here when you’re done and we can have pizza, okie dokie?” Ned nods and leaves the room.

Tony grabs out a clean pair of pajama pants and a sweatshirt for Peter, then moves to carefully take Peter’s shirt off so he can get him cleaned up. Peter’s eyes snap open and he grabs Tony’s wrists.

“No! Please, I don’t want to!” Peter cries out.

Tony immediately lets go and steps away. Holy shit. Peter thought- thinks-

“Petey, it’s just me. It’s Tony. I want to help you get cleaned up. Can I help you change?”

“No, no, no…” Peter whines again. His eyes are shut tight once more. His fists are in his hair.

“Can you change yourself, Pete? You- you need to rest.” Tony’s heart is shattering into pieces. He doesn’t if Peter’s having a flashback, or what. But it’s absolutely soul wrenching to watch his kid hurt so much. “I can go in the other room while you change, Petey.”

He thinks he sees Peter nod, so Tony goes into the bathroom. Peter’s mind isn’t thinking straight. He isn’t having a flashback… or is he? He doesn’t know why he’s acting like this. It’s like he saw his bed and just… lost it entirely. 

Peter slowly struggles to change clothes, taking about three times longer than he should. His entire body is shaking, and his vision is blurry with building tears. 

Tony asks if he can come out yet and Peter mumbles a yes. By some miracle, Tony hears it and walks over to Peter. He maintains a fair distance though.

“Pete? Can you look at me?”

Peter slowly swings his head up to look at Tony. There’s a haunting broken look in Peter’s eyes. Tony almost gasps at the startling numbness he sees. “Peter, I would never hurt you. You will always be safe with me. I will remind you this as many times as you need. I will never hurt you, baby.”

Peter shifts his gaze downwards and nods. It’s taking all of his energy and focus to partake in this conversation. 

“I know you need to rest, and you can sleep after we eat. But, I also need to know… what caused that reaction just now?”

Peter takes a moment to think before answering. “I woke up so early this morning because of nightmares. I just can’t go near that bed again, Mr. Stark. I’m sorry.” Tears slide through the grime on Peter’s face.

“Oh, Pete. It’s okay, there’s nothing to be sorry about.” Tony doesn’t entirely believe what Peter just said. Something else is going on with his kid… Something really bad. “Can I hug you Peter?”

Peter nods and latches himself onto Tony. They sit like that for a long time. At some point Ned comes in and sits down on Peter’s bed. Peter flinches when he sees where Ned is sitting, horrified that Ned doesn’t even realize what happened there. But Peter doesn’t dare to say anything about it.

Tony orders cheese pizza for them, and MJ and Becky- Betty. Tony is just awful with names. Peter stays curled into Tony’s side as he eats one piece of pizza. Tony doesn’t push the teen to eat more pizza, but does have him eat a granola bar. He needs his kid to heal, and eating will help that.

Disney movies are playing on the TV. Tony is texting May with an update, Ned is texting MJ with an update, and Peter is fast asleep on Tony’s chest. Ned leaves around 8:00, saying goodnight to Tony and hoping Peter gets better quickly. Tony mutters a goodnight back.

His fingers are carding through Peter’s curls. His thoughts are racing a million miles a second. What is going on with Peter? So many weird things happened today, it’s hard to keep track of them. Is Peter having flashbacks, or is something happening… And why was Peter’s teacher Mr. Reese being so weird today?

Tony feels like the answer is on the tip of his tongue, but he just can’t figure it out. He decides to let it go for the night. He has to keep himself calm and collected for Peter. Plus he could use some rest as well. Tony’s back is going to hate him in the morning for the position he lays in. Tony falls asleep with Peter nestled into him, Hercules playing on the TV.

Chapter Text

Peter manages to sleep through the night by some miracle. Not to say he had a peaceful sleep, though. His nightmares were plagued by his anxieties, both new and old. He barely remembers what the nightmares about, but he knows he dreamt of buildings collapsing on him, of Mr. Reese and Skip looming over him side by side, of fire surrounding him and black smoke suffocating his lungs.

But he must have been trapped inside of his own nightmares because Peter doesn’t wake up until Tony is gently shaking him awake. The deep sleep from the night has caused Peter’s mind to feel slow and heavy; he can barely keep his eyes open.

“It’s 7:00 in the morning, Pete. I can’t let you sleep in any longer. We have to be at breakfast by 8:00.” Tony’s standing on Peter’s left, in between the hotel beds. Peter mumbles an “okay,” his morning voice surprisingly deep. Woah, my voice sounds deeper than usual. 

Peter pushes himself into a sitting position, and Tony sits down on the opposite bed, which is technically Peter’s bed. The young teenager winces when he sees where Tony is sitting. Tony is casually scrolling through an app on his phone. He has no clue what happened right there-

Peter becomes more cognizant, and begins to understand why his voice is deeper than normal. He feels an ache in his chest, and his throat is sore. I’ll be fine by the end of the day. Peter grabs some clean clothes and his backpack before heading to the bathroom to get ready.

Peter takes off his pajamas, and realizes how filthy he still is from yesterday. Oh my God. Tony probably thinks I’m absolutely disgusting. He turns the shower on and grabs out his wax pen, going through the motions of the morning. Frankly it’s amazing that Tony hasn’t caught on to Peter being high again. Maybe he just doesn’t care anymore.

Peter grabs his razor from his backpack, numbly slicing into his skin. Morning routine. He just wants to focus on anything but his own emotions and thoughts. He sits in the shower, cutting again and again. Hitting his pen again and again. Scrubbing again and again. Scrubbing his skin until it’s raw and burning under the scalding shower water. 

Peter finally cleans the grime out of his thick hair before simply standing under the shower. He probably would have stood there all day if Tony hadn’t started knocking on the bathroom door. 

“Pete? You’ve been in there a while. We have to be downstairs in fifteen minutes, so let’s get a move on, bud!”

Peter feels a small weight in his chest. The few moments to himself are the only kind of “peace” he gets. He shuts off the water and dries himself off, careful not to get blood from his cuts on the white fluffy towel.

Peter walks out of the bathroom a few minutes later, his hair still soaking wet. Tony is sitting on Peter’s bed again, and Peter forces himself not to throw up in disgust. He wishes he could tell Tony not to sit there, but he knows he can’t. What if you did? What if you told Tony everything? What if he could help you-

“Tony?” Peter gasps out.

Tony looks up at his kid. “Yes, Peter?” He raises his eyebrows.

Shit. Peter hadn’t meant to say that. “I- I’m ready to go…”

Tony nods and stands up. “Alright, buddy. How are you feeling today by the way?”

Like shit. My head, throat, and chest hurt. I’m terrified my teacher is going to fucking rape me again. I just wanna tell you everythi-

“Better than yesterday!” The smile on Peter’s face doesn’t reach his eyes. Tony flashes Peter a mild look of disbelief before changing to a calmer look.

“Hey, Peter? You remember how we talked about how you can tell me anything ? Literally anything. I will never be mad at you. You can always talk to me about whatever’s going on in your life. And I will always help you.” Tony puts as much warmth and emotion as he can into his words, trying to get Peter to approach him.

Tony has been thinking more and more about what’s going on with Peter, and he’s started having some… suspicions. And Tony really does not like what those suspicions are. In fact, he loathes his ideas of what’s going on with Peter. Tony hopes beyond hope that he’s overthinking Peter’s situation, but he has a hard time believing that. 

The worst thing about it all is… Tony’s pretty sure he has to wait for Peter to tell him if anything’s going on. It’s really killing Tony not to just interrogate Peter right here, right now. But he’s mostly confident doing this would make everything so much worse. So, Tony waits.

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

Everyone’s in the middle of eating breakfast when Peter asks Tony for his headphones and sunglasses. Peter’s headache is doing nothing to help the clatter of dishes and voices all around him. 

“Oh, shit. I mean- crap. I forgot them in the hotel room. I can go get them if you want, Peter?”

“No! No, that’s okay. I can go get them. Don’t get up.” Peter gets up from his seat before Tony can argue. Peter is not about to interrupt Tony’s meal for his stupid headphones. Peter checks that Mr. Reese is in the restaurant and not watching Peter before he leaves.

Peter almost takes the elevator before deciding to just race up the large spiral staircase in the middle of the lobby. He doesn’t want to end up “stuck” on the elevator. Paranoid much?

Peter goes to pull out his keycard to his room, before realizing he left his wallet in the restaurant. Dammit. Peter turns back to go retrieve his wallet, but comes face to face with someone standing behind him. Peter backs up, hitting his door with his back.

“Woah, Parker. I knew you were a pussy, but come… on… Hey, are you good?” It’s Flash. 

Peter fidgets himself into what he thinks is a casual pose. (It’s not.) “What- yeah. Yeah I’m good. What are you, uh, doing up here?”

“I forgot my phone…” Flash is frowning at Peter.

“Oh, right. Uh bye.” Peter turns to leave, but Flash grabs Peter’s upper arm. Peter flinches, and pulls out of Flash’s grip.

“Wait, you didn’t even go into your room? Did you forget your keycard?”

Why is Flash being so nice…? Peter doesn’t trust this at all, but nods. “Uh- yeah…”

Flash goes to open his own hotel room door before gesturing to Peter to enter. “You can just go through our conjoined door thing.”

“Uh, thanks.” Peter is very confused, but walks through the door into his own hotel room before shutting it. He searches the room for a few minutes, trying to find his sunglasses and headphones. After a moment, Peter can hear Flash’s clunky footfall pass his room, heading towards the elevator. Peter can’t find his things anywhere. Where the hell are they? 

Peter hears a pair of footsteps approaching again, and figures Flash forgot something else and is coming back. But the footsteps stop outside Peter’s door, and his heart sinks. In his gut, he knows exactly who it is without even seeing him. What if I just don’t let him in? I could call Tony right now. Maybe- maybe I should. 

Peter gets out his phone, his thumb hovering over Tony’s contact. But he stops himself before pressing ‘call.’ The threats Mr. Reese had made loom above Peter’s head. But Tony said he can help me… That still doesn’t mean he can keep himself safe. Or May. I don’t actually know what Reese is capable of. 

Peter’s mind is at war with itself. He should call Tony, he should. He can’t do this again. I won’t be able to live with myself if this happens again. But Peter drops his phone onto the carpeted floor. A knock sounds at the door. Peter drags himself towards the door, which suddenly seems like it’s miles away.

Peter opens the door to find Mr. Reese standing there. He smiles down at Peter. As Peter looks up at the evil man, he almost thinks the smile could pass for kindness. But he knows it doesn’t. Peter’s already accepted this is going to happen again. He’s already accepted how powerless he truly is against it.

“I saw you sneak away during breakfast, Peter. You looked around for me, didn’t you? You wanted me to follow you. So, here I am. I’m so excited, baby boy.

Peter numbly walks into his room, hearing the door click shut behind him. He stands in the middle of the room, facing away from Mr. Reese.

“I want you to text Tony. Tell him you’ll be down in a few minutes. Make up some excuse. I’m going to watch you type it.” Mr. Reese grabs Peter’s phone off the floor, pressing it into his palms. Arms wrap around Peter’s waist, a body presses against Peter’s backside. Peter begins typing to Tony while kisses press against his neck, while hands run up his shirt.

[Peter] i’ll be down in a few minutes. couldn’t find my headphones. have to use the bathroom.

Peter gasps out a noise of discomfort as Mr. Reese sucks on Peter’s neck. He squeezes his eyes shut for a moment before adding a ‘:)’ to the end of the text and hitting send. 

“Good boy.” Mr. Reese bites Peter’s ear, and Peter flinches. 

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

The sheets are fisted into Peter’s hands as he stares up at the ceiling. Tears stream down his face. Grunts of pain and discomfort slip from his lips. 

“Please stop…” Peter whispers, begging for the misery to end. He stares at the ceiling above him.

After an eternal torture, Mr. Reese is pulling his clothes back on. Peter still lays in bed clutching the sheets in his fists. Mr. Reese looks down at Peter. “It may have been quick, but today was very enjoyable, baby boy. ” He kisses Peter’s forehead, and Peter doesn’t move. Mr. Reese leaves the hotel room.

Peter doesn’t even bother lying there a moment longer. He gets out of his bed, throws his clothes on. I’m disgusting. He doesn’t even have time to shower before he has to head out of the hotel room. Peter has to get back to Tony before he gets worried.

As he walks down the hallway, Peter rubs the tear stains from his face. He does his absolute best not to limp, despite the raging pain. Peter feels nothing at all right now. He’s simply in survival mode, trying to keep his life together. Keeping your life together isn’t going to matter very much longer.

Peter realizes he’s back at the restaurant, and heads to Tony and his friends. He sits back down next to Tony, as far away as possible. His sunglasses sit on his face. He pretends to be interested in his last few bites of food, but doesn’t eat. Peter notices Mr. Harrington and Mr. Reese aren’t there. He must have used some bullshit excuse to get away for a moment so no one would notice.

Peter’s beginning to wish someone would just notice. He’s running out of options. He won’t do this again. He refuses to. He completely drowns out the conversation happening at the table, uninterested in speaking or listening. This is unfortunate, because Tony happens to be attempting to talk to Peter directly.

After a few failed attempts at getting Peter’s attention, Tony goes to lay his hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Pete, baby” distortedly makes its way into Peter’s ears, and Peter snaps his hand up to catch Tony’s wrist before it even touches his shoulder, his spidey-sense flaring painfully.

Tony’s shocked at the look he sees in Peter’s eyes. Pure anger, fear, and hatred live in Peter’s brown eyes right now. Tony tries to keep his breathing even. “Peter.” He says quietly. “Peter, let go.” His tone is cool and calm.

Ned and MJ watch in complete shock and disbelief. They hadn’t even seen Peter’s hand move; it just went from the table to Tony’s wrist in a split second. They say nothing as Tony tries to calmly free his wrist from Peter’s powerful grip.

Peter is frozen; he isn’t aware of what he’s doing. He just keeps his fist on Tony’s wrist, unmoving.

Tony looks into Peter’s unfocused eyes. “Pete, baby. You’re really hurting me right now.” Tony still keeps his tone calm, but there is a painful strain to it. Peter’s grip is getting tighter by the second. 

Peter releases his grip when he hears the word “baby” a second time. Baby boy. Mr. Reese’s recent nickname rings in Peter’s ears. 

“I- I’m sorry, Tony. I don’t-” Peter doesn’t finish his sentence. He just sits on the bench motionless.

“Peter, let’s go somewhere quieter. Ned and MJ can come too, if you want?” Tony waits for Peter’s response, not terribly surprised when he doesn’t get one. 

“I think something triggered him.” Tony says. “We need to get him out of here.”

“What do you mean ‘triggered?’” Ned asks worriedly.

“Shut up , Ned. Questions later.” MJ gets up from the booth and begins reaching towards Peter.

“Don’t-” Tony starts, but MJ gently grabs Peter’s wrist. Peter only flinches slightly.

“Come on, Peter.” MJ says soothingly. 

She keeps talking to Peter, slowly leading him to a quiet section of the hotel lobby. Peter starts trying to wriggle his arm from MJ’s grip, and she immediately lets go. Tony and Ned stay a few feet further back from Peter and MJ.

MJ motions for them to leave. Tony is about to protest, but stops. Maybe MJ can get Peter to tell her something he won’t tell Tony. Tony hopes this is true, so he drags himself away. Ned follows Tony. 

MJ gives Peter space, but stays within arm’s reach. “Peter, do you feel up to talking yet?”

Peter slides against the wall onto the floor. MJ pauses for a second, then decides to follow suit. She sits about half a foot from Peter, glancing over one in a while. She figures she should do what she does best: listen and observe.

Peter’s mind is a messy haze. He was holding it together so well, then fell apart ten minutes later. That’s because I wasn’t holding ANYTHING together, dipshit.

“I’m good, MJ. I mean- I’m not good.” Peter starts. MJ sits silently, waiting for Peter to continue. “I don’t want to talk about it with you, but… Tony said a word that set me on edge. I froze up. My mind shut off completely. I didn’t know what I was doing, I couldn’t control what I was doing. It just- hurts so much.

MJ’s usually placid eyes sting with the beginning of tears. The raw pain she hears in Peter’s voice hurts. “I know, Peter.” Her tone, normally so neutral, comes out slightly thick with emotion.

“I just don’t know how much longer I can do this. It’s so hard, I feel so alone.” Peter’s tone is heavy, weighted with sadness.

MJ doesn’t know exactly what Peter’s talking about, but she doesn’t care. “You’re not alone, Peter. You’ll never be alone. I’m here, Peter. I can help you.

Both teenagers are nearly crying, and the wet emotion in their voices is clear. “I know you’re here. I know Tony’s here. But- I can’t explain it.”

MJ glances at Peter. “Would you like to try?”

“No. Definitely not.” Peter buries his face in his hands, his sunglasses pushing up into his hairline. “I just- I just need to calm my brain down. I’m okay for now. I want to enjoy the trip with you guys.”

“I know you do, Peter. I know. But you’re not ok- you’re not yourself. I know something’s going on with you. Something really bad. Or maybe it already happened. I don’t know. But I do know you’re not ready to talk about it.” MJ rubs her eyes. “I just- I hope you’re safe, Peter. I want you to be happy. I just want to help.”

“You can’t help me, MJ. I promise that- I promise that I will deal with everything after the trip.” Peter’s tone, so thick with hurt and pain only seconds ago, is now completely numb and empty. He stands up to go find Tony.

MJ remains sitting on the floor for a few moments. Her thoughts are collecting into a clean, straight path. She furrows her brow in concentration. The pieces begin clicking into place. Her heart beats loudly in her ear. Things she hadn’t picked up on, but had also noticed. Peter flinching, Peter disappearing, Peter being late to classes, Peter’s weird behavior.

 MJ lifts her eyes from the floor and her gaze lands on her class. Someone is hurting Peter. But who? She spots Mr. Reese, who catches her eye and smiles and waves. She squints her eyes, frowning. It wouldn’t be Mr. Reese. He’s an amazing person. He’s so kind and helpful, an all around amazing teacher. He’s one of MJ’s favorites. 

She spots Flash. It isn’t him, either. Flash is just an immature idiot. Maybe… maybe it happened recently. Only once. Maybe Peter isn’t ready to talk about a ‘one time thing.’ MJ hates how casual that sounds in her head. Nothing about this is casual. Peter is hurting, and she wants to help.

She should give it time. She doesn’t even know if what she thinks happened, happened. She should support Peter. She should observe and listen. Yeah, that’s it. Observe and listen. She can definitely help more if she silently finds out more. That’s how she helps people.

MJ gets up from the floor and joins her group of friends. Peter looks much calmer now, but is it an act? She realizes how well Peter can cover his emotions, how well he can lie. It took her forever to find out he is Spider-Man, she’s only known for about a month and a half. But with time, she thinks she can solve the puzzle that is Peter’s pain.

Tony looks at MJ, who nods at him. Tony takes that as a subtle ‘Peter will be okay.’ He only believes this because Peter looks so okay. What if Tony is wrong about everything he is thinking? What if Peter is just suffering PTSD from his childhood? (Mental note- he should talk to his kid about therapy.) Or maybe Tony is worsening Peter’s triggers and memories whenever he tries to force Peter to talk. He absolutely loathes how confusing this all is.

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

Tony hopes Peter can enjoy this next part of the class trip. They have travelled about an hour to Long Beach to visit the Aquarium of the Pacific. Peter had slept against the bus window the whole way over, mumbling quietly in his sleep a few times. 

Peter is awake now, his headphones and sunglasses already on. He seems completely calm now, almost happy. Tony notices Peter is already wearing his sunglasses and headphones. He hopes Peter doesn’t have a headache. He also hopes Peter isn’t faking being fine right now. He just wishes Peter could actually be fine. He can’t tell if it’s an act. It seems so true.

Peter is actually happy. He loves aquariums. He’s going to have a great time! He’s definitely not currently compartmentalizing the entire morning, tucking it deep into himself. He’s definitely not kidding himself about how fine he is. But dammit, Peter is fucking sick and tired of the pain. He’s sick of being used. So he has suddenly tucked everything away. It’s not his problem right now. Fuck the pain. Fuck your problems. Fuck it all. It’s going to end for good soon anyway.

It’s going to end soon because Peter has made up his mind. He’s decided that he won’t ever be hurt again. Not by anyone. He’s going to make sure of it. Peter can’t do it again. He isn’t strong enough. He feels broken now. He feels worthless. He feels absolutely disgusting. Peter doesn’t feel human. 

He keeps his distance from Tony, walking with a gap between himself and his father figure. Tony respects what he thinks is Peter’s wish for personal space. They spend the day together walking through the massive aquarium. Peter reads informational signs, stares at colorful sea life, smiles at an Octopus.

Tony finds it odd that Peter isn’t taking any pictures of the sea animals. Like… he hasn’t taken one single picture. When Tony had taken Peter to the aquarium in New York, Peter must’ve taken hundreds of pictures. Maybe it’s nothing, but Tony thinks it’s unusual.

The only pictures they take in the aquarium are when Tony takes a few selfies of him and Peter. He posts the pictures on his private Facebook, which is under a random name. He captions it with Glad to show my kid LA. He and this city are such big parts of my life. Love this kid. 

He smiles at the post for a moment before putting his phone away. He looks over to where Peter stands looking at a tank. His eyebrows are knitted together, and he seems deep in thought.

“Hey, Pete? What’s on your mind?” Tony asks.

Peter looks over at his father figure before finally hugging him. “I love you, Tony. You know?”

Tony hugs his kid back, relieved that Peter seems to be feeling a little better. “I love you so much, Peter.”

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

The day is almost done. They had spent the day in Long Beach at the aquarium, then at the surrounding shops. MJ had freaked out when she got to see the outside of the Queen Mary. Tony finds this amusing, and promises that he’ll take her, Ned, and Peter back here in the summer to stay at the haunted ship. MJ’s eyes light up in pure excitement, a big grin on her face.

But now Peter sits in the bathroom of his hotel room alone. He’s been in here for a while. Too long, he knows. He sits on the edge of the bathtub. Tony sits in the hotel room. But Peter tries not to think of Tony being so close. Tony will be better off after this.  You'll be doing him a huge favor in the long run.

Peter’s entire body trembles. He feels so cold. Maybe it’s your three bottles of prescription pills you just swallowed. What were they again? The Adderall that doesn’t work with your metabolism, and the headache meds Bruce made? He’s rambling to himself. He tries to push down his anxiety and loopy thoughts as he clutches his razor in his left hand and presses it to his wrist.

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

Tony realizes how long it’s been since Peter went to the bathroom to take a shower. Did he drown in there? Tony chuckles at his lame joke, then gets up to go check on his kid.

Tony is about to knock on the door, then realizes he doesn’t hear the shower. Peter must be getting out then. He still knocks, just to make sure. “Hey, Pete? You didn’t drown in the shower, did ya?” Tony still knows it’s a lame dad joke, he just can’t help it.

But then Peter doesn’t respond. Tony’s eyebrows lower, a confused expression settling on his face. He knocks and calls to Peter again, with no response. Tony’s gut is suddenly telling him something is very wrong. 

“Peter Benjamin Parker, if you don’t respond right now I’m going to break this door down!” 

No response. 

Tony kicks in the door and-

“Oh. Oh my God. Oh my- Peter. It’s okay. It’ll be okay.” 

There’s blood all over the floor. Blood all over Peter. All over his wrists. His half-lidded eyes are glazed over. Tony runs over to Peter and kneels down, pressing towels to Peter’s wrists. The crimson red stains the white linen. He doesn’t care about getting blood on his clothes. All that matters is Peter.

“FRIDAY, call 911!” Tony gasps out. “Scan Peter!”

“Vitals show he’s alive, but he needs immediate medical attention. They’re on their way.” FRIDAY answers from Tony’s phone.

Tony sees a razor on the ground to the right of Peter. He tries not to gag. Peter turns his eyes up to Tony.

“‘M sorry, Tone… had to. Couldn’t… anymore.” Peter’s head bobs. Tony sees how pale his baby is.

“Nope. It’s okay, Petey. You’ll be okay. Stay with me, Peter!” Tony taps his nanotech casing, and his suit wraps around him. He picks Peter up and flies down the hall, down the open spiral, and into the lobby. His armor retracts, he still holds Peter in his arms.

The medical team arrives seconds later. Tony absolutely refuses to let go of Peter’s hand until they board the ambulance. Tony sits there, trying to stay out of the way. He puts his earpiece in to speak to FRIDAY.

“Call- call Steve. Get the Avengers here. We need Bruce and our medical team here ASAP. Don’t- don’t call M-May, FRI. I’ll call her when I can.”

Guilt claws at Tony as the ambulance speeds to the hospital. He knew something was wrong, he should’ve pushed even harder. But he had thought he was doing what was best for Peter. This is all his fault. Peter had seemed so fine after this morning-

Tony can only watch as the paramedics try to save Peter.

Chapter Text

“...I don’t know. I haven’t heard...”

Music plays in the Emergency Room.

“...It’s been about three hours…”

Someone spills their coffee, the cup softly clunking to the ground.

“...I will, May. I promise…”

Tony hangs up the call, keeping his phone in his right hand. His elbows rest on his knees as he sits in the uncomfortable waiting room chair. He lifts his free hand up and rubs his face. 

Tony’s been sitting in the waiting room, mostly alone. The only time he has had company was the people who tried to get his autograph. Seriously, what were they thinking? He simply waved them off, clearly not in the mood to pose for stupid pictures.

His call with May had not gone very well. It’s about 3:00 in the morning where she is, and the heavy news was clearly not easy on her. May had wanted to leave Detroit to fly out to LA immediately, but a massive blizzard was hitting most of the Midwest right now.

May had tried to catch a flight, but the planes had been grounded about two hours ago. Instead, Tony promised to text or call her every hour with an update on Peter. Depending on Peter’s condition in the coming hours, May would either catch the first plane she could to Los Angeles, or would meet Peter and Tony in New York this weekend.

Tony hasn’t notified the other chaperones, or Ned and MJ. He isn’t sure that he should yet. Tony doesn’t trust Mr. Reese. And he thinks he knows why now…

But he can’t dwell on that at this moment. He needs to be focused and alert in case the doctors need him. Tony gets up to stretch his legs for a few minutes, grabbing himself a styrofoam cup of black coffee. When he sits back down, he realizes he’s covered in blood. It’s been two hours and he has just noticed the amount of blood on his clothes. Peter’s blood.

Tony feels like he’s going to be sick, but fights back the nausea. Tony looks up to keep any tears from falling down his face in time to see Nat, Clint, Thor, and Steve walking towards him. Tony stands up from his chair. Passersby stare as the Avengers quickly walk past them.

“Tony-” Steve wears a worried expression deeply into his face. He opens his arms and Tony collapses into them.

Tony weeps into Steve’s strong arms, only slightly embarrassed about crying in public. Steve rests his chin on the top of Tony’s head, swaying slowly back and forth. Steve mumbles words of comfort to Tony quietly. 

“Where’s Bruce?” Tony mutters.

“We made sure he got on the medical team staff the second we got here. He isn’t a medical doctor, but we figured he should still be in the room since… yanno.” Nat answers Tony gently.

“We brought you some clean clothes, in case…” Clint holds out fresh clothing for Tony.

“Thank you…” Tony goes to quickly change in a bathroom, throwing out the old clothes, before quickly returning.

After a while, the Avengers all take up a large portion of the waiting room. It’s been some time since Tony has heard more news. His knee bounces up and down with anxiety, his head rests on Steve’s shoulder. 

Natasha rubs circles on Tony’s back reassuringly. Her gaze hasn’t moved from the white wall she stares at since she sat down.

Thor hasn’t taken a seat, instead pacing back and forth. He doesn’t know Peter as well as the other Avengers, and he greatly regrets this. He knows Peter well enough to know how smart and kind and funny the young boy is.

Clint is a nervous wreck, but says nothing. He pinches the bridge of his nose, and his knee bounces up and down as well. He’s always had such a soft spot for kids, even before he had children of his own. He thinks of Peter as his own nephew, and cares deeply for the teenager.

Steve sits with his eyes closed, trying to imagine what had happened that caused this. Since Steve has known him, Peter has been such an enthusiastic and outgoing kid. The shock of hearing Peter had… had done that. Steve can hardly believe it.

No one speaks for a long time. People still stare in surprise at the Avengers sitting around the waiting room. It’s around 1:00 am now, 4:00 am in Detroit. Tony texts May to let her know that the Avengers are here, and that they’ve heard nothing new since he called her. 

“It’s my fault.” Tony’s head still leans against Steve’s right shoulder.

There’s a chorus of disagreement from everyone else, but Tony interrupts them to continue.

“I knew something was wrong with him. I’ve known for days, maybe even weeks. I chose not to press, hoping he would just talk to me. I didn’t- I didn’t think this would happen-” Tony chokes up, unable to speak anymore.

“Tony, two of us are literal spies and we didn’t even notice the signs. It’s no one’s fault here. We all were watching him, we all were trying to help.” Clint’s tone is surprisingly even, considering how guilty he feels himself.

“Well we should’ve done better.” Tony’s voice holds no bite, only sadness and worry. None of the Avengers exactly disagree with him.

No one speaks up again for a few more minutes. A nurse approaches the group after about ten minutes of silence.

“Is anyone here Peter Parker’s legal guardian?” She looks around the group nervously, intimidated by this specific audience.

Tony answers that he is, and the nurse continues.

“What’s your relation to the patient?”

“Uhm, like a ‘pseudo-guardian’ applying for adoption. He has an aunt who is his legal guardian. We’re both working towards shared custody of Peter. She’s in Detroit for nursing classes right now.” 

The nurse raises an eyebrow, but decides not to argue.

“Peter will be okay physically.”

Everyone breathes out one collective sigh of relief.

The nurse goes on, “This next part could be… quite disturbing. Would you like to speak in private or with the group?”

Tony frowns before looking around the room. Everyone seems to be at the edge of their seats. Tony realizes he can trust every single one of them with any information about Peter. He asks her to continue.

“Peter’s condition is stable. He’ll be okay.” She repeats. “But we did find signs of sexual assault.”

Tony doesn’t know why the room is spinning suddenly, doesn’t know why it’s difficult to catch his breath. He had suspected something… something like this. He wasn’t sure, and he may have been in partial denial. And now he wishes that he had spoken to the nurse privately. This is personal information to Peter, and now all the Avengers know. 

The nurse gives the group a moment before speaking again. “We found bruising on his thighs and hips, along with other evidence. We need to find out if you would be interested in doing a rape kit.”

Rape. His boy had been assaulted again. Tony needs to focus. “I- um. Can we wait until Peter’s awake so he can give his opinion on it?” 

The nurse nods her head. 

“When can we see him?” Steve asks.

“You can see him now, if you’d like. Just follow me.”

The nurse leads the group of superheroes to a different section of the hospital. She opens a door to a hospital room before gesturing inside. The Avengers move to enter the room.

Tony’s lungs deflate at the sight of Peter. The teen is so small and pale. He looks so sick. Peter doesn’t even look like he’s alive.

Tony sits in a chair next to Peter’s bed and grabs his hand gently. Peter’s hand is cold, but still holds enough warmth to comfort Tony. Peter doesn’t react to Tony’s touch, seeing as he’s unconscious. 

Tony doesn’t take his eyes off of Peter. He sits and stares at every detail in Peter’s face. His eyes move to Peter’s bandaged wrists and Tony winces. At least Peter’s alive.

The mutual guilt in every Avenger’s heart weighs down the room. Every single one of them feel completely helpless, only able to watch Peter’s chest lightly rise and fall.

Bruce walks in a few minutes later. “The medical team knows about Peter, but it’s been taken care of. You don’t need to worry about that, Tony.”

Tony hums as a response. He doesn’t trust himself to speak right now.

“Tony, you saved Peter. You found him in plenty of time. You called us in immediately, so I was able to be in the room and tell them what does and doesn’t work for Peter. You saved him.” Bruce tries to reassure Tony.

“I shouldn’t have had to save him, Bruce! I should have realized even sooner. You know what? Doesn’t matter right now.” Tony breathes for a moment before continuing. “He’s physically safe for now. What matters is that we’re there for him now, right? This can’t happen again.” 

“We know, Tony. And we will all always be right beside Peter. This won’t happen again. Not if we can help it.” Natasha sounds so sure of herself, her confidence washing over Tony.

Tony mutters an appreciative thanks to Natasha before turning back to Bruce. “They said there were signs of- of sexual assault?”

Bruce blinks slowly. “Yeah- um. It was bad, Tony. Really bad. The most recent it had happened was probably this morning. The medical team had said it was probably two or three mornings ago, but that’s because of his healing factor. And it almost definitely happened more than once… But it’s not your fault, Tony.”

Tony’s chest aches at the news. This morning. That’s why-

“That’s why Peter grabbed my wrist this morning.” Tony looks down to his wrist, bruised with Peter’s fingerprints.

Steve makes a face at Tony. “What do you mean, Tones?”

“I mean that Peter had a panic attack this morning, and grabbed my wrist when I went to touch his shoulder. I thought it was just a trigger… that’s a whole other story. Anyways, he’s been super antsy for a few weeks. It’s just gotten worse and worse. I blamed it on sensory overload, on triggers, on anything but…” Tony lowers his arm back down.

“He’s been avoiding touch sometimes, and you guys know that’s really weird for Peter. And- and oh my God. I let him fight the fucking Elemental in this state-” Tony hides his face in his hands.

“Tony you didn’t know .” Clint says forcefully.

Tony looks back up, his head facing Clint. “He didn’t take any pictures at the aquarium earlier.”

Clint knits his eyebrows together. “Uh- what? No, I saw your Facebook. You had pictures of him.”

“No- no. I mean he didn’t take any pictures himself of the aquarium. He always takes pictures. He loves photography. He didn’t take pictures because had already made up his mind about… about this. ” Tony looks back to Peter.

“Tony, you don’t know that.” Thor finally speaks up, his voice louder than anyone else’s. Everyone turns to Thor. “And even if it is true, you could not have even dreamt of knowing that was why Peter didn’t photograph the trip.”

Movement causes Tony’s head to snap back to Peter. The frail teenager is slowly pushing himself into a sitting position. His eyes are half open, and his skin is still so pale.

Peter blinks a few times before sluggishly turning his head, noticing the amount of people in the room. There’s almost no emotion on Peter’s face, but inside he feels confusion and… and anger? Fear? Where am I…?

Peter looks down towards his lap and sees- Oh. OH fuck. Both of his wrists are tightly bandaged. Of course you couldn't even manage to kill yourself. Anger directed at himself spreads through Peter. He sits in a hospital bed wearing a gown. These aren’t the clothes he was wearing earlier. That means- 

“You know.” Peter looks at Tony, his throat hoarse. “You know what happened.”

Tony’s eyes are filled with pain. “We don’t have to talk about it right now if you don’t want to, baby bo-”

“Don’t.” Peter says quietly.

“Don’t what, Peter?” Tony doesn’t understand.

“Don’t call me 'ba-baby boy.' That’s what he calls me…” Peter’s legs move up to his chest, his arms wrapping around his legs.

The Avengers all look at each other at this information.

“Peter, do you- do you want to talk about it? It’s up to you…” Nat tells Peter calmly, noticing his mild eagerness to talk.

“I- I don’t- I’m sorry…” Peter’s eyes overflow with tears that begin to run down his face. He reaches out to Tony, who gently hugs him. 

“It- he- So many times- It hurt so bad. I couldn’t take it anymore, I couldn’t do it again. I couldn’t tell anyone. I’m sorry.” Peter begins sobbing so hard that he’s gasping for air.

“Shhh, Petey. It’s okay. There’s nothing to be sorry about.” Tony rubs circles against Peter’s back soothingly. 

“I- I couldn’t fight back. It was like Sk-Skip. All over again. But it wasn’t-”

Tony keeps himself outwardly calm for Peter, but feels rage bubble up inside him. He pushes it down immediately. He needs to stay calm. He needs to be calm for Peter.

“It’s okay, honey. You’re safe now.” Tony says, and Peter buries his face in Tony’s chest. Tony’s grateful for his clean clothes.

“I’m sor- I couldn’t tell you. I was too scared. This seemed like the only way out. I couldn’t do it again…” Peter hiccups against Tony. Peter’s practically repeating himself but he doesn’t care. He struggles to put how he’s feeling right now into words.

“Everything will be okay, Petey. You’re safe now. You won’t have to worry about him again. Ever again. We’re here for you.” Tony makes small rocking motions, cradling Peter in his arms. 

Peter’s safe now.

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

Tony had fallen asleep curled up to Peter on the small hospital bed. In fact, all of the Avengers are curled up in various positions around the hospital room. Tony had sent May an update before falling asleep. It’s now around 7:00 in the morning in Los Angeles.

Clint wakes up first. He sees the time and decides to go grab coffee for everyone before they wake up. When he returns balancing a few drink carriers, he sees Steve is awake.

Steve sees the small cups of coffee. “You know that doesn’t work on me and Thor, right?”

“Shit. Forgot, sorry.” Clint hands Steve the cup anyways, and Steve sips on it. 

Tony wakes up a minute later. He blinks the sleep from his eyes before carefully sitting up so that he doesn’t wake Peter up. Clint hands Tony a styrofoam cup and Tony graciously accepts it.

Eventually everyone has woken up and drank a cup of terrible hospital coffee, excluding Peter. The young teenager still sleeps, wrapped in his hospital blankets. Tony can hardly take his eyes off of Peter for more than two minutes.

Thor, Steve, and Clint have gone to the cafeteria to get breakfast. They had agreed to take shifts getting breakfast this morning. Once Thor, Steve, and Clint return, Nat, Bruce, and Tony will go to eat breakfast. Well, more like Natasha and Bruce would drag Tony to go eat breakfast.

Tony lightly brushes Peter’s chocolate curls from his face. He looks so peaceful when he’s sleeping. He almost looks happy. Tony wishes Peter could just feel safe, and happy. He’s going to make sure this kid knows how damn loved he is. 

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

When Tony comes back from breakfast, which he ate faster than humanly possible, he sees Peter has a tray of food at his bed. Peter is picking at the food with his fork, and Steve is sitting next to Peter trying to encourage him to eat.

“Peter, you really do need to eat something. You look really pale, buddy-”

“Gee, I wonder why!” Peter pouts, suddenly angry. “It’s almost like I just slit my wrists last night!” 

Steve and Tony wince at this. Tony steps into the room towards Peter. “Hey, Pete. It’s okay to feel upset. We just want to help you. Can you at least eat one of your granola bars?”

Peter hesitates for a second, thinking. He finally nods, deciding that Tony and Steve are right. Steve gets a granola bar out of his bag and hands it to Peter. Tony smiles at the teen, and is about to sit down when he gets a phone call from… Mr. Harrington. “I’ll be right back, guys.”

Tony leaves the room and answers the call. 

“Mr. Stark? It’s about 8:00 right now, you and Peter should be here for breakfast. I was just wondering where you both are?” Mr. Harrington sounds nearly panicked, almost as if he’s had students not show up to where they needed to be during trips before…?

“Oh- right. Peter and I won’t be joining you today. We’re at the, um, hospital actually. Peter had a medical emergency last night. He’s okay right now, but I do think we will be flying home separately from everyone else. I’d like to keep this private for now if you don’t mind?”

“Of course, as long as everything is okay?” Mr. Harrington sounds like he wants to ask more, but doesn’t.

“Everything’s okay.” That’s basically a lie. “Can you have Ned and MJ call me together please?”

Mr. Harrington agrees, and the phone call ends. Tony waits in the hallway for Ned and MJ to call.

His phone rings and Tony immediately answers.

“Mr. Harrington told us to call?” MJ’s voice sounds in the phone, direct and to the point.

“Before you get too worried, Peter is okay. Are you guys sitting down? Are you in private?” Tony asks gently.

“Uhm, we can be.” Tony hears Ned through his phone speaker.

Tony gives them a few moments before continuing. “This is really serious news, so prepare yourselves, okay? Peter is okay now, but last night he… tried to kill himself. I will not be going into details with you, but I found him in time and he’s at the hospital now with me and the other Avengers. He’s okay , though. He’s awake and alert. We’ve just convinced him to eat a granola bar.” Tony knows he’s rambling slightly, but hardly cares.

The other end of the phone is silent for a long while. “Can we come see him?” MJ asks.

“If that's what you guys want, sure. Let me ask him first. Don’t hang up.” Tony mutes himself on the call before sticking his head into Peter’s room.

“Sure, Tony. They can come.” Peter is already looking at the door.

“How the hell-” Tony starts.

Peter points to his own ears before shrugging. 

Steve has the tiniest smirk on his face. “We both could hear that conversation, Tony. Super hearing.”

Tony rolls his eyes before exiting the room and walking farther down the hallway. He unmutes himself before speaking, “Peter would love to have you guys. You can pack all of your things up right now. I’ll have one of the Avengers come pick you up. You can fly home with us, too. Sound good?”

“Yes, thank you Mr. Stark.” Ned says. They both say goodbye to Tony before hanging up.

Tony notices how shaken the two friends had sounded on the phone. Even MJ, normally so stoic. They care so deeply for Peter.

Tony walks back down the hallway into Peter’s hospital room and sits in his chair next to Peter’s bed.

“They’ll be here in about an hour probably. And don’t worry about your class. I told them you had a medical emergency and that you would be flying home with us. Everything will be okay.”

Peter tenses at the mention of his class, but passes it off as forcing himself to swallow another bite of his ‘breakfast.’ What if Mr. Reese knows? He won’t know yet, right? Tony made it seem like- like allergies or something. He continues to try and eat his granola bar, the process slow going.

He feels bad for yelling at Steve earlier over a granola bar. Steve is just concerned for him, he knows that. But Peter's emotions are all over the place, he feels like he's on a never-ending rollercoaster. Still can't believe you fucked up this bad. You can't do one single thing right.

Peter finishes his breakfast, and lays back down in bed. Steve has been sitting on the bed with him while encouraging Peter to eat. Peter surprises himself slightly when he curls into Steve. Maybe it’s because he’s so safe-feeling.

 He realizes this is the safest he has felt in a long time. He’s sitting in his hospital room, surrounded by most of the Avengers, his family. He wishes May were here, but Steve had explained about the snow storm. But for now, Peter falls asleep cuddled against Steve with Tony running his fingers through Peter’s hair.

Chapter Text

MJ and Ned walk down the long, drab hallway of the hospital. They drag their suitcases behind them, carrying their smaller bags on their shoulders. Clint leads the teenagers towards Peter’s room. He shoulders Peter’s backpack, the young boy’s suitcase trailing behind him. The entire journey has been mostly silent. Ned and MJ don’t fully understand Peter’s situation, but they know it will be wiser to let Peter tell them what and when he wants to. For now, they will be the most supportive friends they can be. 

Ned and MJ pass a waiting room and a nurses’ station on their way to Peter’s room. A few more moments of walking and Tony finally comes into view of the group. He waits outside of a door, clearly stressed and exhausted. He’s on the phone, but finishes the call when he notices Clint, Ned, and MJ approaching.

The final few words of the conversation can be heard before Tony hangs up. “I will, May. Ned and MJ are here, I’ll call you back.” Tony pockets his phone.

“Where’s Peter?” Ned blurts out. He is not hiding his anxiety for his best friend at all. Ned’s eyebrows are creased, a fretful look fixed onto his face.

“He’s in his room.” Tony jerks a thumb behind him, towards the hall. “I have to walk away from the room when I take phone calls because he hears me otherwise. You can probably see him now. He was wide awake when I last left.” Tony swivels on his heel and leads everyone towards Peter’s room.

They reach a bland door and Tony opens it, revealing Peter. MJ notices how small Peter looks in his bed. He looks so much more vulnerable than usual. He sits up in the middle of his bed. Dark bags hang under Peter’s emotionless eyes. He hides his arms under the covers of his blankets. Steve sits in the room with Peter, getting up when the door opens. Steve nods to Ned and MJ before leaving the room.

“Hey, buddy. We’ll be right down the hall if you need anything. You okay?” Tony asks, and Peter nods. “Love you, Pete.”

Peter mumbles something, and Tony smiles at his boy before following Steve out of the room. Clint sets Peter’s stuff down next to his bed and gives a slightly awkward thumbs up. “Have fun, buddy.”

Peter lets out a light laugh at Clint’s odd sense of humor, and Clint grins before exiting the room and closing the door behind him.

Peter’s small smile falls from his lips a moment later. He closes his eyes, still sitting upright. Peter takes deep steadying breaths, trying to keep himself composed and tranquil. He knows MJ and Ned are worried about him, that they want an explanation. He also knows they won’t ever push him to give them an explanation. And frankly… Peter isn’t sure how much he wants to tell his friends about. The Avengers all know. That was super nerve racking but… wasn’t it also relieving to get it all off my chest? Even if I have more to tell them- about Mr. Re- about him. Maybe I want to tell MJ and Ned? Peter’s head is buzzing with confused and mixed feelings.

Ned and MJ are sitting on opposite sides of Peter’s bed when he focuses back on his surroundings. Ned shuffles through his bag, then pulls something out of his bag and holds it out to Peter. “MJ and I, um, got you this.” Ned has a soft reassuring smile placed on his face.

Peter takes the item from Ned, revealing his bandaged wrists, and examines it. He knows he should be smiling at it, but he feels too numb. He can’t bring himself to look happy. But he’s also grateful for the gift. It’s a little snow globe of Tony’s old Malibu house. The snow globe is labelled “Iron Man’s Malibu Mansion.” Catchy. 

“Thanks, guys.” Peter keeps his eyes on the snow globe.

Ned and MJ both notice Peter’s wrists, but try not to pay any attention to the bandages. MJ brushes a strand of hair out of her face. “Of course, dude.” The following silence is awkward.

Peter knows they’re both shocked by his wrists, that he’s the reason the room is filled with awkward silence. “You guys don’t have to pretend like I didn’t just try to slit my wrists.”

Ned and MJ both wince at Peter’s abrupt language, feeling guilty. Ned frowns. “I’m sorry, Peter. We were just trying to-”

“I know. It’s just…” Peter struggles to turn his thoughts into actual words. 

Ned and MJ wait patiently, not wanting to force Peter to talk but also not wanting to keep him from talking. They simply want Peter to lead whatever conversation they’re about to have.

“...I- I didn’t exactly want to die… Like, yeah I’ve thought about it a lot before but I never planned on acting on it. It was just thoughts. But then I felt completely trapped. It was the only way out anymore…” Peter trails off, glaring at his bedsheets.

“...Trapped from what, Peter? ...You don’t have to answer that if you don’t want to.” MJ asks Peter gently.

“From- from him - from-” Peter breathes deeply, pushing down his nerves. I want to talk about this. I want to tell them. I want to get it over with. I’m sick of holding everything in.

Peter closes his eyes, balling his bedsheets into his fists. “I was- um. When I was a kid I had a babysitter. His name was Skip. He would touch me… do things I didn’t want to do. But that was a long time ago, it’s a long story. I can’t talk about all of it right now if I want to continue.” Peter’s eyes remain closed. His eyebrows are knitted together. “It happened again. With someone different. The past few weeks. The last time was yesterday morning.” 

MJ studies Peter. “Peter- that means… Does that mean that it’s someone in our class? Do you wanna talk about-?”

“Reese-'' Peter spits out, then covers his mouth with his hand. His eyes widen in shock. He hadn’t exactly meant to say that. Why did I say that!? Secret’s out now…

MJ and Ned look at each other, their eyes the size of saucers. MJ turns back to her friend. “Peter- oh my God. Does anyone else know?” Good going, Peter. She looks totally freaked out now.

“Peter we should’ve known- we should’ve noticed. God, I am a complete idiot.” Ned rubs his face in his hands.

“What? No you aren’t! And- no… no one else knows.” Peter hesitates before saying, “But they should. Can you- can you get Tony, please? I wanna talk to him… I’m sorry guys; we can hang later… I have to get this over with.” 

“Okay, Peter. You can do this.” Ned says. “You’re super strong, and not just in a spider-strength way… Sorry, that was a lame joke.” 

“You really can do this, Peter. We love you.” MJ leads Ned out of the hospital room.

Peter lays back against his pillows. His heart is racing. He hadn’t wanted to rush things, but now that the secret is COMPLETELY out there he just wants to finish it. Well, not finish it. Your prize for “finishing it” is lifelong trauma and even spicier PTSD. Peter’s thoughts ramble along steadily until Tony walks into the room.

“Ned and MJ said you wanted to talk to me?” Tony walks towards Peter. “Can I sit on the bed, or do you want me in the chair? Either is fine, buddy.” 

Peter pats his bed, and Tony takes a seat right next to Peter on the small hospital bed. Tony waits patiently for Peter to begin talking.

He doesn’t have to wait long, because suddenly words are pouring out of Peter so fast that Tony can barely keep up. “It happened right after first hour. I got in trouble and had to stay after class. He- yanno… And then it happened after first hour again. And then- and then in a- a closet near the hotel lobby. It- and then-” Peter’s nearly hyperventilating, and Tony gently rests his hand against Peter’s back, relieved when Peter doesn’t flinch.

“Hey, Petey. You’re safe here. You can take a break if you want.” Tony rubs small circles in between Peter’s shoulders and hands him a glass of water. Inside, Tony is trying not to freak out. Someone on the trip, during the trip, has been hurting Peter. And Tony thinks he might know who...

Peter sips on the glass of water he holds before he begins to speak again. “He… he touched me in my hotel bed. More than once.” Peter’s shaking all over. Peter tightly shuts his eyes and brings his hands up to his head and begins lightly pulling his hair.

Tony moves his hands to gently grab Peter’s wrists. “Don’t do that, Petey. It isn’t good for you. Grab the bed sheets instead.” Tony leads Peter’s hands away from his head. 

Peter takes a few minutes to ground himself. He feels his breathing even out. His heart still races and his hands still shake, but Peter no longer feels so near to a panic attack. That’s a lie. You still feel like you could have a panic attack at any second. -Shut up, Peter-

Peter takes one final deep breath before, “It was Reese.”

Tony barely reacts outwardly to the news. After hearing Peter’s story, and connecting the rest of the dots… Tony can’t say he’s surprised.

Tony hugs Peter to him. “I’m sorry, honey. I’ll be here with you every step of the way. So will May. And everyone else.” Internally, Tony’s fighting back every single ounce of hatred and disgust he now harbors for Peter’s teacher. That man will regret what he’s done.

There’s a long silence that follows. Peter enjoys the comfort and warmth Tony provides. Tony adjusts his position on the bed so that he’s laying down, still holding Peter to his chest. “Speaking of, May is on her way. Weather permitting, she’ll be here tonight. Isn’t that exciting?” Tony asks.

Peter feels only a small flare of enthusiasm at the news. Better than feeling nothing at that news, I guess. “Yeah, that’s pretty cool.” He says quietly. He really is happy that May is coming. He hasn’t seen her in so long. He’s just so tired. He also feels guilty about how worried May probably is now. And her nursing classes- god dammit! You’ve really screwed up now, huh?

The silence stretches out again, and after a while Tony notices that Peter has fallen asleep. Tony is left to his own thoughts. 

Where does everyone go from here? Tony wonders this to himself.

Peter had an evaluation this morning, which cleared Peter to go home in two days. The doctors had made an agreement with Tony. The agreement included at least one person being with Peter every hour of the day, and Peter receiving care under the Avengers’ specialized therapists and psychiatrists. They’ll figure out a more detailed plan when they return to New York. 

Tony figures he and Bruce will have to come up with a spidey-enhanced version of whatever meds Peter’s psychiatrists will want him on. Tony almost likes this. It’s something he can fix, something he can control. The downside is that what he will be fixing is meds for his suicidal kid.

And what about May? She can only get a few days off her classes to be here without dropping out. And even if she did drop out, she would have to come stay at the Tower. She can’t be with Peter 24/7 and work. He can discuss that with May later.

Then there’s Peter’s schooling to consider. That is a problem for a later day. And what to do about Reese… the Avengers can come up with a plan for that evil man. Tony will make sure that man rots. 

There’s so many different things to worry about. Tony’s head is spinning. For now, he has to be here for Peter. He has to make sure his kid is safe, and maybe even happy. It’s okay if Peter takes a long time to be happy again, but Tony is going to do his best to make sure Peter is content.

Tony’s grateful for the Avengers, and for Steve. He couldn’t do any of this without them. Tony’s also slightly grateful for himself. He’s glad he found this kid. He’s glad that he can help May, who is such a great friend to Tony. He’s glad he can be there for her and Peter. 

Tony looks down to Peter and brushes some curls from his eyes. The young boy sleeps seemingly peacefully against Tony’s chest. God, he loves this kid. Peter changed Tony’s life when he entered it, adding new vivid brightness and color. Tony smiles down at Peter, his heart filling with warmth.

Tony’s life had been stressful before Peter. He had found the kid when Tony and Steve were going through… that rough patch for a few months. Peter and Tony’s relationship had started blooming about two months after that, right around Peter’s homecoming dance and the Vulture. ‘What was that… late September?’ Tony wonders to himself. Anyways, Peter had been there for Tony when Tony was at one of his lower points in life.

During that time, the Avengers had sat down together and began making amends. The Accords had been rewritten. Tony and Steve began working to fix their relationship. ‘A whole lot of couples therapy right there.’ It had taken months, but the Avengers were healed and whole again. There were still little things to work on, sure. But overall, everything was great.

Tony catches himself drifting off into his thoughts. He smiles at the memories of Peter that begin popping up. Of the movie nights, of the lab nights. Steve and Pepper yelling at Tony the first few times that Peter had stayed overnight… Tony may or may not have forgotten that teenagers need sleep. 

Tony relives his favorite memories of Peter, content to hold his kid safe to him for now.

Chapter Text

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.

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

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.

Chapter Text

Peter jerks into a sitting position in his bed, completely drenched in sweat. He’s shivering with anxiety, and hugs his knees to his chest. Peter’s eyes remain wide open while he attempts to calm down, the traumatic memories still flashing through his mind. He’s scared that he will dive into a full blown flashback if he so much as blinks.

Peter’s breathing eases slightly, now calm enough to glance over to his clock. The time reads 11:30 pm. Peter uncurls from himself and sets his feet down onto the carpeted floor of his bedroom. He sits on the edge of the bed for a moment, pushing down the memories that race across his eyes. Before he woke up, he had been having a nightmare about… Reese. Peter shakes his head in another attempt to clear his thoughts.

Peter stands up, swaying slightly. He feels completely exhausted, having hardly slept the past few nights. It’s now late Friday night, which is usually designated as movie night for the whole team. But Peter had gone to bed early, claiming to be tired. It’s true that Peter’s tired, but he also just… some part of him wants to be alone, closed off from everyone else. 

He had managed to fall asleep for about two hours, but of course woke up from a vivid nightmare. He feels frustrated at his inability to sleep, tears building in the corners of his eyes out of frustration. Peter wipes his eyes roughly, then ventures out of his bedroom. He pauses in the hallway, he hears multiple people watching a movie in the living room.

His feet drag slowly towards the living room. Peter’s hands are still shaking, and tears win over and begin to fall down his cheeks. He reaches the living room where a few people still watch movies. Peter stands quietly in the corner of the dark room, the TV playing Forrest Gump. 

Clint, Natasha, Wanda, and Bucky all sit on the couches, engrossed in the movie. On the TV, Forrest is getting fitted for his leg braces. Peter loves this movie, knows it by heart. He wishes he could enjoy it right now, but a second later Bucky looks over. He must’ve heard Peter’s breathing, because the kid still stands in the corner of the room, moving as much as a statue. 

Everyone else notices Bucky’s movement, and turns their heads to follow his gaze. Natasha is closest, and she gets up to move carefully toward Peter. Her eyebrows crease in concern, a frown on her lips. “Peter? Are you okay, honey?”

Peter nods his head, but his face crumbles. Natasha wants to hug him, but holds back. She knows the only person Peter is completely comfortable with right now is Tony, and she doesn’t want to risk causing Peter a flashback. So instead, she waits for Peter to make the first move.

Peter shuffles over to Natasha, sniffling and sobbing. He leans into her side, not wanting a full hug. Thankfully, Natasha understands and simply lifts one arm around Peter’s shoulders. She rubs his arm up and down soothingly. “Shhh, honey. It’s okay, Peter. You’re safe.” 

Natasha’s voice is so serene and sincere, and Peter locks onto her calming tones. He allows himself to be calmed by her. It slowly feels easier to breathe, his heart stops pounding in his chest. Everyone else is quiet, the movie paused, while Natasha calms Peter. They still stand in the corner of the living room.

“I wa- want Tony?” Peter mutters miserably, not really caring that he sounds like a child.

“I know, Pete. But he’s in D.C with Steve and Sam, remember? They’ll be back tomorrow night, and then Tony will give you all the cuddles in the world.” Natasha smiles at Peter, trying to add extra warmth to her tone.

“Ain’t that the truth, kid.” Clint adds with a positive and encouraging note in his voice.

A tiny laugh escapes Peter. “Yeah. Yeah, I guess.” Peter and Natasha move to sit on the couch that Nat had previously been sitting on.

“You wanna talk about it, Peter?” Natasha asks.

Peter curls into her side slightly. “Just a nightmare about stuff. I’ll be okay in a minute…” There’s a short pause before Peter adds, “I am kinda hungry though…”

Everyone laughs, and Wanda and Clint get up to go make some popcorn. The movie remains paused, and Bucky asks Peter if he would like to start at the beginning. Everyone knows how much Peter loves this movie. Peter shakes his head before turning it into a nod. “Actually, yeah. I really like this movie.”

So a few minutes later, Peter is sharing a bowl of popcorn with Natasha and watching Forrest Gump. Clint, Wanda, and Bucky all eat popcorn out of their own smaller bowls. Peter lets himself get lost in the movie, enjoying the time away from his thoughts and memories.

Everything is going well until young Forrest goes to find his friend Jenny at her house. Jenny runs to Forrest, grabbing his hand and running away from her father. Adult Forrest narrates the scene, talking about how Jenny’s father was always extra “touchy and loving” with his daughters.

The second it’s said, the movie is shut off. Everyone had forgotten about this part of the film, and they whip their heads over to Peter. He sits away from Natasha, his posture straight. Peter’s muscles are tensed, and his eyes are wide but unseeing. His breath comes in labored gasps. 

Natasha maneuvers herself in front of Peter, careful not to touch him. She speaks to him in calming, hushed tones. “Peter, you’re here. You’re in the tower. Clint, Wanda, Bucky, and I are all here with you. You’re safe, Peter.” She repeats her mantra, trying to calm Peter.

But Peter doesn’t even hear her. He doesn’t see her, or anyone else in the room. Instead, he hears his own grunts of pain, hears Reese panting in his ear. He sees the ceiling of the hotel room, sees the dark closet, sees the classroom as he’s bent over the desk. Peter feels painful fingertips on his hips, feels a hot breath on his ear. 

“St- stop- please- I don’t want to- I want Mr. Stark!”

The adults’ hearts break at Peter’s gasps and cries, unable to pull him out of his flashback. Peter now sits curled into a ball on the couch, flinching when anyone comes within three feet of him. Wanda gets out her phone and dials Tony’s contact, walking out of the room.

Tony picks up a few rings later. “Tony, Peter’s having a flashback. We were watching Forrest Gump and forgot about Jenny’s father-”

Tony understands immediately. “Shit- shit okay. It’s fine, you guys just forgot. Please be more careful next time. Anyways- um. Shit. Put me on video, maybe I can try talking to him?” Tony and Wanda are both doubtful this will help, but it’s worth a shot. 

Wanda walks back into the living room and sets her phone down near Peter. “Peter? It’s Tony, he’s on the phone. He wants to talk to you.” 

Peter feels his mind pull away slightly from the flashback. He can distantly hear Tony’s voice, and keeps his mind focused on it. Tony’s voice becomes clearer, and Peter can pick up on the words being said. He remains squished into a tight ball, but listens as Tony’s voice washes over him.

“...safe, Pete. You’re in the Tower with friends. They all love and care about you, and they’ll protect you. It’ll be okay, kiddo. You’re safe. I promise you’re safe, and I’ll be back home tomorrow. We can spend as much time as you want together. I promise, Petey.” Tony continues talking, and Peter remains completely engrossed in Tony’s words. Peter slowly begins uncurling himself, watching Tony on the phone screen. 

“Hey, buddy! You’re safe, Peter. You’re completely safe. Look at who all’s with you.” Tony waits as Peter notices the four Avengers. Peter closes his eyes, taking a shallow breath. “That’s right, Pete. Just breathe. Nat can help you breathe, just follow her.”

Natasha coaches Peter into breathing smoother and deeper, and he does his best to follow her. He’s completely exhausted from the nightmare and panic attack he’s endured in such a short amount of time.

“Good job, Pete. You’re doing great.” Tony’s voice comes from the phone. “Now how does watching Frozen for the night sound? Maybe you can get some sleep, too. I bet everyone else would love a sleepover in the living room.”

Nat, Clint, Wanda, and Bucky all nod encouragingly. They actually would love a sleepover, and they will make sure it’s super calm and relaxing. Peter nods back, completely spaced out but still listening. 

“Yeah, I bet that’ll be nice, right Pete? You okay, buddy?” Tony asks, and Peter’s head dips in a small nod. “Okay, Petey. Sam and Steve say hi, by the way.” The phone screen moves to show Steve and Sam waving to the camera. A small chorus of “Hey, Pete/Goodnight, buddy/Stay safe” can be heard from the phone’s speaker.

The screen shows Tony once again. “Alright, you okay Pete?” 

“Y-yes.” Peter whispers.

“Okay, bud. I’m gonna let the others take over for now since they’re there with you. If you need to call me again, do not hesitate to. I’ll answer right away, okay? I love you so much, Petey. Sleep well.”

“Love you too, Tony.” Peter’s voice is quiet. The call ends. 

“I- I’m sorry, guys.”

“Don’t be, Pete. This shi- stuff happens to all of us.” Bucky says with a gentle smile on his face. “I almost punched someone through a wall one time because a kid said a Russian word to his friend. One of the ones that triggers my ‘programming,’ yanno? But Steve was there, just like we’re here for you. And you didn’t try punching anyone through a wall.”

“Ye- yeah. You’re not wrong, I guess.” Peter says. “Can we watch Frozen now?”

Everyone laughs lightly, and Wanda logs into Disney+ to begin playing Frozen. Bucky sits where Natasha had sat early, and Natasha has taken Bucky’s old seat. Peter quietly hums along to a few of the songs. Eventually he falls asleep, pressed against Bucky’s side.

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

The adults all wake up around the same time the next morning. Everyone is careful to be quiet, not wanting to wake Peter. Wanda goes so far as to fly instead of walk, not wanting Peter’s enhanced hearing to detect her walk. 

Clint makes breakfast in the kitchen, a difficult task when the enhanced teen is in the next room over. He ends up burning the food slightly, but figures it’ll be good enough.

Around 9:00, Natasha wakes Peter up to eat breakfast. He’s gotten about seven hours of unbroken sleep, which is really good. But Nat knows that she can’t let Peter skip eating breakfast, hence why he is currently sitting at the dining table. 

“You can go back to sleep after this, Pete. I just needed you to eat something.” Natasha says apologetically.

“It’s fine. I’ll just watch The Office on the TV until I pass out.” Peter jokes in a low voice.

Everyone smiles at that. Bucky swallows his food before saying, “Sounds like a plan, kid.”

And once Peter has finished his breakfast, he does just that. He makes a nest of pillows and blankets and puts on The Office. Peter makes it through a few episodes before his eyes begin to droop. Peter lets himself fall asleep once more.

He doesn’t wake up again until noon, when Natasha lightly calls to him to wake up. Peter appreciates her not touching him to wake him up. Peter curls back into his nest, not wanting to wake up yet. Sure, he feels much more refreshed than he has in days. But it was nice to get so much sleep… and not have to mentally exist for a while. It would’ve been better if you just never woke up again , a small voice in Peter’s head sounds.

Peter frowns to himself. And there it is. The suicidal ideation returns! Now shut the fuck up.

“We ordered Thai for lunch, Pete. You’re favorite.” Natasha coaxes Peter out of his nest.

Peter’s head perks up at this. He lifts himself into a sitting position on the couch. “The broccoli?” He asks, and Nat laughs.

“Yes, Peter. I said it was your favorite. Now come on, before it gets cold.”

Everyone eats at the dining table again, this time joined by Vision and Thor. Well, except Vision doesn’t eat. But he talks and he’s funny so… 

Peter eats just about as many helpings as Thor, grateful for the amount of extra Thai that Natasha had thought to order. Thor watches in shock as Peter matches his pace.

“Wow, you really have an appetite for the ages, young spider!” Thor laughs, a huge smile plastered across his face, his blue eyes sparkling. 

Peter doesn’t respond, still enjoying his food. Natasha smiles as Peter eats. She had been hoping that Thai food would be able to get Peter to eat a lot and cheer him up. She prides herself in how right she was about that.

After lunch, Thor and Clint join Peter in the living room. Peter hooks in his Switch so that the three of them can play Mario Kart. Clint doesn’t know about Thor’s absolute skill at the game, and Peter cackles when Clint’s mouth drops open in sheer shock.

“What the FUCK, man? When did you learn that?” Clint yells, and Peter continues laughing.

“Language, Barton! Our young friend is present. And for your information, I learned that like two days ago.” 

Clint sputters at the new knowledge, not sure what to say. Peter and Thor laugh, enjoying how shocked Clint is. 

They continue playing Mario Kart throughout the entire afternoon, Peter only winning once and Clint not winning a single round. Clint and Thor are both amused at how much fun Peter is having, and they’re relieved that Peter seems to be happy and carefree. At least for the moment. 

The elevator dinging is what interrupts their current match of Mario Kart. Peter pauses the game and vaults himself over the couch onto a wall, running sideways towards the elevator.

“Hey! No running on… the… walls. He’s already gone. Oh well. And I was actually winning this time, too.” Clint sighs.

“Mmmh- no, you weren’t.” Thor retorts.

“I stopped counting you, so according to myself I was winning.” Clint says.

Meanwhile, Peter is still attached to the wall as the elevator doors open. Tony, Steve, and Sam walk out and see Peter’s sideways face grinning at them. Tony barely has time to set his luggage down before Peter is lunging onto Tony, sticking to him with his powers. Peter is positioned on Tony like a child, his legs around Tony’s middle and his arms around Tony’s neck.

“Woah, kiddo. I’m not as strong as Steve, let’s keep our feet on the ground.” 

Peter obliges, but keeps his arms wrapped around Tony. He buries his head into Tony’s shoulder. “I- I’m sorry… I missed you so much.”

“Hey, it’s okay Pete. I missed you a whole bunch, too.”

They enjoy the hug for a few long moments before Peter pulls away and starts excitedly talking about his day, telling Tony about the Thai food and Mario Kart. Tony laughs, silently aweing how excited his kid is.

“So I take it you had a good day?” Tony asks when Peter finishes his stories.

“Yeah, definitely!” Peter says, then hugs Tony again.

Tony pats Peter’s back, then asks, “What do you want to do about dinner? Also, I’m feeling like another movie night.”

“We could make some spaghetti…” Peter suggests hopefully, and Tony agrees.

The team spend the evening eating pasta and watching The Office. Peter quotes the show half the time, and no one minds. They actually enjoy his small voice piping up at funny lines and jokes every once in a while.

Peter doesn’t detach himself from Tony once, always sticking to his side like glue. So it’s no surprise when Peter falls asleep around midnight, head in Tony’s lap and legs in Steve’s. Tony and Steve fall asleep soon after. Tony’s fingers are buried in Peter’s chocolate curls.

And if Wanda snaps a ton of pictures of the adorable trio, no she doesn’t.

Chapter Text

this is a temporary chapter. i hate when people add updates that arent story but here we are.

just wanted to let you guys know that i will begin working on this story again tomorrow. i am so sorry for the wait. i have been extremely busy, and have been in a very bad spot mentally the past couple weeks. but i am beginning to feel better and really want to get back to updating this story.

this chapter will be taken down once the new update is out (which should be tomorrow night - aka june 1st)

again, so sorry for the wait. i feel super bad, but i needed a break. i am NOT abandoning this story. getting back to it tomorrow :)

thanks to anyone who has stuck around and i truly hope the wait will have been worth it. 

-hatt