Honestly, whenever Peter did something, it was all in, or nothing. It was either done so seamlessly and so well, you could mistake it as mastery or art. Or he failed so bad it was like a bard rolling a one on a stealth check. A complete failure.
He would stop a robbery, either coming out unscathed and looking amazing while doing it, or he barely managed to stop the robbery, limping awkwardly away with multiple bruises and sometimes if he got lucky enough, broken bones. Those were the nights he had to play doctor and set his own bones without telling Aunt May- there were only so many times you could claim you got mugged before people start wondering if everything’s alright at home- and then it would be rinse and repeat for the next crime he stopped.
School, he either was perfect. Grades all hundreds, nothing phasing him at all, gym going pretty well, and he was able to sneak under Flash’s radar and come out fine. Melting into the scenery and lockers like a ninja and making it out with not a hair out of place. Other times. He scraped by with nineties, gym kicking his ass, and Flash making him a public spectacle of humiliation. Multiple times per day.
And the most unpredictable and inconvenient give and take. Secrets. Either, his secrets stayed in the dark for many years. Never to see the light of day even to Aunt May. Or they stayed under loose wraps, slowly unraveling and choking Peter in a tight hold. The lies wrapping and shoving their toxic words down his throats and trying to expose as much of themselves as possible to the truth and light. Slowly gaining attention from the ones he cared about until he could get it under control again. Shove it into the dark. Nothing’s gotten away from him yet. But honestly. Things never stayed away forever. And that terrified Peter.
But through it all, Peter always had one. Consistent. Constant. Little thing.
That’s probably what true to god ended him up in this situation in the first place. Sitting in a hammock made of web on top of his apartment building and going through his head on how long he could make twenty dollars last on a New York City street.
Honestly, he didn’t blame Aunt May. Not at all. Not one single piece of him did. Her nephew was staying out at night, coming home rarely and at all hours. Usually acting suspicious and weird-from his hidden injuries-. Acting skittish and jumpy, as if something were coming to get him constantly, never explaining anything to her, and always waking up in the middle of the night clammy, shaky and pale. Mouth wide in a silent scream that never leaves his lips. It wasn’t a surprise to him that she’d think up theories to her beloved nephew’s behavior.
It was a surprise however when she accused him of being on drugs and kicking him out of the house until he proved her could “get clean” or explain himself to her; why he was going and doing this to her, their family. And Peter honest to god did want to tell her. More than anything. The secret itched and bubbled underneath his skin. Begging to be told. But guilt and worry kept it down. Now, Peter was sure that if he tried to explain himself it wouldn’t make things much better. After all, what Aunt/Mother figure would believe something that would go a little like this?
‘Hey Aunt May, the reason I’ve been lying to you for almost a year now is because I’m sneaking out to fight crime in the dead of night with inhuman abilities given to me by a spider bite on a school field trip and web slingers I made in chemistry class. I also have a multi-million-dollar suit from Tony Stark as part of the internship I got for doing this. Do you know Spider man?’
Yeah, that would go over well. It would more likely end him up locked away in some rehab recovery center or a mental health care facility than get him home. Which was not good his school work or the ‘internship’.
Though, it might be a little bit warmer in the rehab center right now. His body shuddered, curling his limbs closer to his chest and huddling into his little homemade hammock on the roof and him and May’s apartment building. At least it was only spring, May wouldn’t be mad forever, she would take him back in soon. She always did. When things got bad like this she only disappeared for a day or two. This time it was his turn to stay away he guessed. But she’d let him come home soon after she cooled off.
If she didn’t cool off soon though… Peter wasn’t going to think about that. May wouldn’t leave him out forever. She wouldn’t let him go hungry and cold on the streets. May was good to him, she’d let him come back in a day or two and everything would get sorted out. Right now, Peter just had to survive temperature sensitivity -along with his other enhanced senses-, a heightened metabolism, and twenty dollars.
Luck wasn’t a lady; she was the old lady that smacked you with her hand bag.
At least he had twenty dollars though. He’d gotten lucky to find it just blowing in the wind as he went on patrol. Otherwise he would have had to just pray May let him come home, beg if he had to. Though, begging might make it worse. Peter knew when he could press his boundaries. Now, he knew it was like the times before May and Ben. Stay at arm’s length and cross his fingers.
The anxiety and worry was melting away as the seconds ticked by though, sluggishly crawling into acceptance and drowsiness as the night sky and familiar sounds of traffic sunk into his body. Pulling his eyelids to droop, trying to make them shut tight on him. Urging his tired and overworked body and mind to take a breather, make a plan to sort things out in the morning. And it honestly sounded like a great idea. Peter giving into it and just praying for one night with a dreamless sleep. He was tired enough to not dream anyway.
He should have realized he couldn’t be that lucky.
Loudly blaring and vibrating against his chest, Peter felt like he’d been electrocuted as his body jolted him awake and alert at the stimuli. Slapping him awake with a shot of adrenaline, wiring him so any sleepiness danced away from even his farthest-reaching fingertips. Peter contemplated ignoring and rejecting the call. It was tempting.
But what if it was May calling him back?
It wasn’t very likely, but that didn’t mean Peter’s hands didn’t struggle getting his hands on the old flip phone to hit the answer button, desperately pulling it to his ear. Almost hearing her voice, the moment, he answered and his voice spilled out a few words before he could even stop them.
“Aunt May?” A deeper and rougher tone than her soft voice exited the phone speaker right after the words had been said. Making Peter internally curse at himself as the realization hit him that May wouldn’t call after only two hours. It was stupid of him to assume that.
“Nope. You disappointed kid? Either way, you’re supposed to be home by now, don’t you have a curfew? A curfew I’ve painstakingly made for you?” There was an amused tilt to his voice that made Peter’s lips quirk up and his chest to fill up with some warmth. A soft chuckle bubbling up in his chest. Tony Stark.
Oh shit. Tony Stark.
His nerves lit up like a firecracker in his body. Exploding and causing tingling worry all the way to his slightly numb toes. Perfect or a failure. Either he was going to be about as see through as a window, or he will be the door that blocks everything. Well, time to make up an excuse on the fly. Luckily, he had a little practice with that, maybe he had a chance with not looking like a stupid whiny kid on the phone with Mr. Stark.
“Am I hearing the silence right? Is Mr. Peter ‘Golden Boy’ Parker breaking the rules,” A sarcastic gasp. “I never thought the day could exist.” Peter snarked back.
“Haha, Mr. Stark, but I am home.” On the roof of May’s apartment building. So not a lie yet? Technically? The hammock would be his home for a small while anyway too. And the tracker couldn’t tell heights. It didn’t have an altitude check yet. Peter would have to make sure to get Ned to help him disable that if that ever became a thing. He was sure Ned would help him out without questioning it. Much. “I’m just waiting for May to get back, why? Do you need me?”
The excitement in his voice was fake to his own ears, but he forced it through his throat anyway. Forced himself to try and do his nervous word ramble, but a sentence was all that would come out. A bad try was better than nothing at all. Anything was better than nothing honestly at this point. But he was hoping that it really wasn’t anything. He was tired, confused, and definitely not stable enough or in the right mind set to be the wild, quipping, friendly neighborhood everyone knows and loves.
Spiderman was just not going to come out though. Not naturally at least. Peter just crossed his fingers that he wouldn’t have to force that out too. Forced wit was never as funny natural jibes. Not to mention Tony could read him like a book when he was Spiderman.
“Hold your enthusiasm, but yes, I may only slightly need your help in tuning up with suits with a few concept designs. So, are you free this Friday? Happy can come to pick you up, the subways are way too slow. And seriously? Does it really take two hours to get here from Midtown?” Peter nodded with a small laugh.
“Yeah it kinda does. But yeah! Friday will work, that work great!” He should be back with Aunt May by then. She never stayed angry or left him alone for longer than two days. And it was only Tuesday today. Yeah, he’d be fine. Nothing would happen to him in such a short amount of time.
“Good, see you then kid. Don’t die or do anything I would do until then.” And Tony hung up the phone after Peter bid his own farewell and Peter couldn’t put the phone down. His chest constricting and his breath hitching as the old anxiety crept back in. Surprising Peter when he realized just how much better even the short conversation had made him feel. And how easily the loneliness clawed back into his skin as the silence settled in. Peter shook the thoughts out of his head and just squirmed deeper into his hammock, phone pressed around his chest as his arms curled around it protectively.
He’d be fine. He could hold out for a day or two. May always left and she was always fine when she came back. And he was what? Fifteen? He could take care of himself for a couple days, it wouldn’t be that bad. Peter swallowed down the pit that sank into his stomach, it burned uncomfortably from his torso to his throat and chest. A stark contrast to his cold skin. His heart thrumming and threatening to leap out of his chest. It was almost painful. Peter took a deep breath. He’d be fine.