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Peter Parker is just a kid. He knows that—he just likes to deny it, is all. It's not like he deliberately forgets the fact that he's just fifteen, he just doesn't want to admit that he is. Besides, nobody else knows Spider-Man is fifteen right, so nobody else has to make a big deal about it. Plus, he doesn't like being a kid, or being treated like one—he's going to turn into an adult real soon, he knows it! He doesn't like it at all because kids have curfews, they have deadlines, and most of all—they have limitations. He's fucking Spider-Man for god sakes, he doesn't need to be reminded that he's not really all that cool and immortal. There's a lot of things kids can't do, things Peter Parker can't do. And to admit to that—goddamn he'll never do it.

That is why, his shoulders bear more than his stomach can handle. He knows it himself. Sometimes, there are bad guys who aim guns at him that don't just not pull the trigger because he says something witty, and other times, there are wounds he can't fix with just a quick wash of sweat and adrenaline, and maybe even soap and water – if he ever has the time, which, in reality, he never really does. Sometimes, there'll be villains with big weapons that would put the Vulture to shame – because let's face it, New York is a big city, Queens in itself is big enough to house more murderers with eyes for high tech and hunger for money, than it can ever handle – and then other times, there are weird mutated aliens, maybe sometimes humans—whatever—who have no sense of moral or self that can and will actually kill him in a heartbeat. He's only one man—no, not kid—he tries to tell his self as a form of boundary to at least prevent that brave heart of his from doing something too stupid – for the sake of Aunt May of course – but it never works. He'll hesitate for literally two seconds, and then he's off.

Every night, he tumbles into his bedroom with some kind of scar or bruise, and it gets worse every time. From rough cuts in alley corners from beating up rapist thugs, to bullet holes on his shoulder with bullets he has to take out himself, to broken bones that sometimes don't heal for a full day so he has to limp in, out, and around the apartment with hopes of getting past Aunt May and her sharp, worried eyes. There's something inside Peter that's slowing him down—his healing—and he thinks it could be the self-destructive behavior he has recently started to put up, but he can't make himself admit it out loud. Because, god—he'll sound like a kid in tantrum. And that's what he's not, of all things—a kid. At least, Spider-Man isn't, as far as other people know.

So he hides it all. He doesn't have to hide the scratches because they heal before he can even blink, but he stitches the bullet holes himself, and wears three dark shirts to hide the bleeding. He stands straight when Aunt May is around, but limps in school with the excuse of accidentally tripping somewhere—somehow. Michelle gives him strange looks, but her lips are tight, and no words come out—yet, for some reason, her eyes speak more than the brush of their shoulders. Ned knows something is up, but when Peter pleads, he pleads silence, and talks of things that don't involve his superhero life – if he can even call it that. So, being the understanding best friend that he is, Ned simply obliges, and continues on bragging about the new Lego set collection he's been saving up for. Peter thanks him with wry smiles, and somehow, that routinely agreement turns into a habit for both boys.

And Peter really, really does try his best to hide it, to be the man that he should be—because he's Spider-Man for god sakes, and he has to grow up faster than everybody else or they'll all be in trouble. So the story goes on like that, for as long as Peter can keep it up. Until the moment that he no longer can.

Breathe, Peter—just breathe.

It starts to unravel with May.

One long night, he gets shot four times—five if you count the bare scrape off the skin when he near-miss dodges a bullet that was aiming for his right leg. One bullet shot to the shoulder that stays, another one through his right arm, a third right on the side of his stomach, and the last just barely above his heart. He should be dead—god fucking knows he really should be—but for some weird reason, he's not. So he takes what he can get, cleans up after the fifteen bad guys, the ones that pointed their guns straight at him, as quickly as he can – he wraps the thugs up real nice in the tangle of his web – and then leaves before any blood spills to the streets, and swings for home to take care of his situation.

He curses as soon as he crash lands onto the roof of his apartment complex, and stays there. He nit picks at the exposed flesh on his chest area just below his right shoulder blade, and bites back a scream as he tries to pull out the bullet that's cozy and stuck right in there. There's more blood than he anticipates, but most of it comes bleeding from his bottom lip which he bites a little too hard, because the pain is just a little too much. His phone on the side rings, a desperate call from Aunt May, but he's too blinded by the pulling to check it. Instead, he swerves to the side as he finally gets the bullet out, accidentally sitting on his phone as the call is picked up by his backside.

"Peter?" May calls, his tiny moan setting her off. "Peter Benjamin Parker, where the fuck are you right now?!"

Just breathe, Parker—come on, breathe.

"M'm fine Aunt May." He breathes out, leaning hard on his elbow as his other hand pulls up the bullet for him to stare at. "I'm fine."

"I don't believe you." She snaps at him, but her tone of voice is clearly laced with undoubting worry. "What's going on, sweetie?"

"Do—don't worry Aunt M—May, I'm okay."

Even though he says that, his head still spins in a dizzy ache. He's counting down every drop of blood that trickles from above his heart—the hole in his suit small, but it speaks volumes to his confused mind.

"Peter, where are you?"

He processes the question, but forgets that he's not supposed to tell her.


He rasps, blocked ears and choked throat. May ends the call across her end, and he tries to stand up. Waiting for her feels like waiting for a million years to come, and his head dulls and lulls further into unforgiving pain. Streaks of memories flash before him – of Uncle Ben and his sweet smile, and broken glasses, of mother and father that never came home, and Mr Stark staring him down with nothing but unfiltered disappointment written across his dark eyes. Peter resents that, so he cries. Because denial is an incredibly powerful thing, but not when he's all banged up and bleeding, with the pain all over, and his heart a little bit broken. He can no longer keep up the façade of being anything but a child who wants nothing more than to run straight into the arms of his mom—or mother-figure, or whatever.

"Oh my god!"

May opens the rooftop door with a big clang and sees him, a crumpled pile on the floor, heavy breathing, endless crying, and a flood of blood. She kneels in hurry beside him, checks for his eyes to ensure he's conscious, and lets out a small sigh of relief as she sees him staring back at her—albeit, a little absently.

"Oh Peter." She shakes, not even having it in herself to scream at him for doing this—whatever this is—to himself. "Peter, stay awake for me, sweetie."

"Everything hurts May." He cries out, more tears, more blood. "I'm sorry."

"It's okay Peter." She hums to him, a shaky hand taking in his own, and eyes that quiver with her own tears. "You're going to be okay."

He knows he's a long shot away from being okay. He knows that sometimes, and this could be one of those times, where he may never get better. He knows he'd be a pretty shitty person if he died right then because, who was going to clean up after his mess – like who will carry the decathlon team if Ned and MJ can't anymore, or who will take care of Aunt May who only has himself left in her world, or who will protect Mr Stark when those traitors of rogue Avengers come for him in the near future? But he feels like it, feels like—letting go. And so he does.

Just, breathe.