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It's An Emergency (Don't Call the Police)

Chapter Text

Peter woke up to an alert on his phone.

BREAKING: NYPD PUTS OUT APB ON LOCAL VIGILANTE, "SPIDER-MAN"

He immediately opened the article, mumbling "what the heck" under his breath.

AP- This morning Chief of New York Police Department Jeff Lindholm put out an APB on the vigilante known as Spider-Man. After months of growing tensions, Lindholm commented that this action was "the end of an era of chaos". Spider-Man is categorized as 'armed and dangerous'. Should you encounter this individual do not interact, and do not hesitate to call the helpline, 800-HELP-NPD.

Peter wasn't sure about that chaos thing, but the tensions he felt. For weeks he'd web up a guy, only to have police arrive on the scene minutes later and point guns at him. Nothing had happened yet, but the morning's news was not a surprise to him.

He wondered if Tony had heard of the news yet. He was off on a mission with Captain America, and had told Peter to call Happy if there was an emergency. Did this even count as an emergency? Did Happy hear the news yet? It didn't seem very dire. He had to get dressed for school, finish up a few projects. He would just have to be extra careful on patrol for the next week or two. He could avoid the cops for a while until Tony got back.

Right?
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"This is bullshit".

Flash was upset about something or other, making him particularly insufferable.

"All he does is save people. Armed and dangerous my asshole. Spider-Man only exists because they can't do their jobs in the first place." Flash was sitting on a desk in the corner of the room, a few other kids sitting by him and nodding their heads in solemn agreement. They were supposed to be working on their projects, but the TA was shoe shopping online so the period turned into gossip hour.

"What about that woman that died last week?" Some one spoke up from across the room.

Peter remembered her. The building was burning down, and Karen's systems had melted early in the night. He'd spent hours clearing room by room, swinging from the frames of the building when the floor started to crumble under his feet. It had been a 15 story building with no fire escapes, and the sound of people screaming for help haunted his dreams since it happened.

He was so close to finishing, just one woman left on the very top floor. His suit was burnt all to hell, and was swinging in tatters around his roasted and burnt skin, but his mask was intact and there was still someone else in the building so he wouldn't entertain the thought of stopping.

Peter remembered reaching out to take her hand, trying to get her up and over the inferno raging between them. She was so scared, but she looked nice. She was wearing a sweater that looked exactly like one of May's, and Peter wondered if they got them at the same place.

"It'll be okay, just grab my hand and I'll get you out of here, okay?"

She nodded and reached out, and in that split second the ground collapsed and she fell.

Peter still remembered the choked gasp she made as she fell to her death.

"What about the 56 other people he saved that night? Don't be a douchebag." MJ sounded off from the other end of the room. Her expression didn't change, and she was still buried in her book. If she hadn't been so loud Peter would've questioned whether or not she'd said anything at all.

She glanced at him for a moment, and he carefully schooled his features away from the memory of the woman. MJ nodded at him imperceptibly, leading Peter to think she definitely knew more than she let on.

Flash continued on his pro-Spider-Man spiel in the corner of the room, and Ned crowded closer to Peter.

"For real dude, what are you going to do? You're not patrolling tonight right?"

Peter looked over at Ned, taking in his concern.

"I don't see why not. I can't just let people get hurt just because I'm scared of the police. Besides, I hardly even see them half the time anyway. It'll be fine."

Ned gave up on trying to convince him to stop patrolling about twenty minutes later, and Peter tried to stop sounding like he was convincing himself rather than Ned that everything would be ok.

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The night started off on a good foot. He saved a cat from a tree, and the grateful elderly woman told him he was a 'credit to his generation'. A couple college students shouted "Go spidey!!" as he pulled a kid back from the street, where a car was about to hit him. Small time do-gooding. It made him feel exponentially better, his anxiety leaking out with each public encounter.

But, much like most things in Peter's life, that went to hell rather quickly.

A couple goons were robbing a young woman in an alley, and he swooped down to lend a hand.

"I always hate it when I don't get invited to alley parties. It's just not good for my self esteem." he said as he webbed up the two guys to the wall. They were easy, and once they were secured against the wall he turned around to talk to the woman.

"You ok?"

She nodded her head frantically. He was just about to make a joke about picking on people their own size when a searing pain jabbed into his side. He looked over to see a third assailant grinning like the devil, with a chunk of dirty glass clutched in his hand, twisting in Peter's side.

"Not cool." He gasped and punched the guy in the nose. The action dragged the glass farther in his side, up near his arm pit. Only once the guy was webbed up against the grimy asphalt did he notice the woman had run away. He couldn't blame her, but he was now leaking blood faster than he'd like and he still had to pull out the glass.

 

"NYPD put your hands up! Now! Put em up!"

Peter looked down the alley to see two of New York's finest with their service weapons raised and trained on him.

"Oh, come on." Peter said, slightly louder than he intended, "Give me a break. I'm bleeding."

"Hands up! Put em up or we shoot!" the officers walked carefully until they were about 10 feet away from him. Peter was still clutching his side, trying to keep the blood from pouring out. He looked at the two officers and sighed. Of course, that was the perfect timing for one of the robbers to break free from his webbing and tackle Peter down.

He hit the ground hard, forehead knocking against the asphalt. The pressure of the guy on his back made it difficult to breathe, and his vision went white for a minute. A second later the weight was pushed off, and Peter could vaguely hear the police reading him his Miranda rights. Now there was a new person sitting on top of him, and he could feel his arms being tugged behind his back, and the sound of hand cuffs clinking.

In a panic, Peter bucked the police man off of him, and stumbled back to his feet.

One of the officers was restraining the errant crook, the one that had just been sitting on him mumbled something indistinct into their radio. Peter heaved a sigh and jerked out the glass before it could be jostled again, and then crawled against the wall to get past the whole scene and ran out of the alley.

For a few minutes he wasn't sure where he was running, just that he had to get away. Then he remembered the defunct old warehouse a few blocks away where he'd stashed a spare first aid kit in case he got injured and was too far from home.

He swung there in record time, trying to ignore the pull from where the blood was trying and failing to clot.

He thought about when he'd looked down the alley at the cops, and saw the young woman standing nervously by the car. It occurred to him that she'd tried to turn him in to the police. After he'd saved her, she thought she'd just grab some cops real quick and leave him to the mercies of the NYPD, who were not known for their compassion.

Peter sighed as he reached the warehouse, climbing in through a window near the roof and collapsing on the old mattress. A plume of dust poofed around him, making him cough. Great. First he gets stabbed with alley glass, known for being sterile, then he goes ahead and rubs some good old warehouse dirt in the wound.

Peter hoped that super healing applied to infections.

He shakily applied a few butterfly bandages, once again wishing Tony had let him learn how to stitch himself up. Exhausted from the blood loss, he lay down on the mattress and asked Karen to wake him up in two hours.
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Karen woke him gently just as the sun was going down. Peter hardly felt like he'd slept at all, but upon checking his phone he looked at a number of missed calls from Ned and MJ.

"You ok???? Text me back!!!!!!"

"Ned told me about your extra curriculars. You should answer your friends texts."

"PETER?!?!?!?!!?!?"

"Ned is worried. He heard something about you on the police scanner. Answer us."

"I'M GOING TO CALL MAY IN AN HOUR IF YOU DONT RESPOND RIGHT NOW!!!!!!"

The last text he'd received half an hour ago, and Peter heaved a sigh before calling Ned.

"Hey Ned, sorry for worrying you."

The voice that came across the phone was distinctly not-Ned.

"Ned is busy checking hospitals for John Doe. NYPD said they found a sizable amount of your blood at 3rd and N street. What's your excuse, Parker?"

He scanned the area where he was stabbed, checking to see if it had healed yet. To his infinite disappointment, it had hardly even closed, and he picked at the dry blood.

"My blood? That's weird, I've been at the library all day."

"The jig is up Houdini. Your boy told me."

Peter ran a hand through his hair and started packing up the first aid kit to leave.

"Told you what? I'm really stressed out about that History project, the rubric doesn't make any-"

"Spider-Man, shut up. You worried us. Apologize."

"I'm sorry. I just- I just took a nap, is all. Nothing a good nap can't help."

He could hear her sigh on the other end.

"Tell that to the sundance kid."

Ned's voice came booming through the phone, demanding details. Peter avoiding all mention of his stab and the police encounter, only explaining that there was a mugging stopped and a surprise third goon.

He swung home tired and eased May's worries with the same library excuse. After a night of tv reruns and research for history, Peter stumbled to his room to fall asleep.

That night his dreams featured the rattle of handcuffs, sharp pains, and the woman's outstretched hand as she fell.

Chapter Text

Peter woke up to the sound of police sirens right outside his window. With his hyper senstive hearing, the noise blared straight through to his brain, feeling like jackhammers against his ears. He shot up out of bed, adrenaline coursing through his veins as he lunged for his spidey suit, only to hear the sirens pass by his complex and speed away down the street.

He slouched onto his bed, clutching his heart to quel the anxiety there. Peter took a moment to hold his free hand out in front of him and will the shaking to stop. He heaved a deep breath, slowly exhaling and then clenching his hands by his sides.

He looked over at the clock.

Already late for school, naturally.

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Suffice to say, Peter was not on his game. Not only had he arrived at school late, but he'd forgotten his book for english class and the wound on his side still had yet to heal. Sometimes he'd forget about it and reach to grab something, only to feel the tenderness there. He thought he had it handled, but then gym happened.

"Only bitches can't climb the rope."

Peter refused to look behind him at Flash. He stared up at the rope in front of him, roughly 20 feet and hung vertically from the ceiling. On an ordinary day he'd be able to easily scale the thing, but with his side aching like it did he dreaded the action.

"You fell last year right?" MJ droned from further behind him, and Peter fought to suppress a smile. He could imagine the look Flash would give her, half embaressed and half indignant.

Peter rubbed his hands together and stepped forward to clutch the rope. It was incredibly sturdy, despite it's 15 year career in the New York public school physical education system. Years of sweat and grime were embedded in the twine, and it was smooth with the wear. He wrapped his legs around it and carefully started inching upwards.

Everytime he pulled himself up another couple inches he felt it in his side. At one point, near the top, he blacked out for a second. Sparks danced into the center of his vision, and a pressure right behind his eyes made him feel like he was floating. A second later, he was back in his body and still hanging on the rope, and he could hear murmurs coming from the ground.

"Is he ok?"

"Wait what's going on? I wasn't paying attention."

"Why hasn't he come down yet?"

"Is that blood?"

Peter spared a hand to press to his side, which he discovered to be soaked. With blood. His blood. Which was now dripping down onto the ground. He looked down to where everyone was staring up at him, including an uncharacteristically silent Flash.

Jolted back into action, Peter steeled himself for his descent. Still holding onto the rope, he loosened his grip with his feet and slowly slid to the ground. By the time he got to the bottom, his hands were red and skinned raw, but what was important was that he hadn't fell, and he'd managed to look like a badass in front of MJ.

"Shows over." He mumbled to himself before stumbling away from the small crowd and over to the bench to sit down. The hard plastic was grounding, and gave him a reprieve from the soreness in his muscles.

"Why did you climb the rope."

He looked up past his sweaty hair to see MJ standing in front of him, with her arms crossed over her chest.

"What?" He asked through pants.

"You didn't have to climb the rope. You know Coach wouldn't have cared either way. And you're hurt, and probably sick too. Why'd you climb it?"

He caught his breath and struggled to maintain his confidence under Michelle's gaze.

"Flash was pissing me off is all. You know, he can't just talk to people like that. I just- I wanted to prove I could."

He peeled his shirt up and covertly inspected the blood underneath it.

"You're an idiot. You need to see the nurse." She turned around and walked away, and Peter tried to ignore the flutter he felt when she called him an idiot. Maybe he was. But she was an idiot too for talking to him, then, and he wouldn't mind being an idiot if she was too.

The logic of the thing made him dizzy. Or maybe it was the blood loss. He was thankful the gym shirts were already maroon, so it was difficult to tell that he was bleeding through his.

After gym, he changed in the bathroom so he could blot away the blood with toilet paper before his next class. Right before he left the locker room, the doorway was blocked by Flash. He looked uncomfortable, some of his normal swagger gone.

"You ok?"

Peter studied his face, looking for a smug smile. Finding none, he brushed his hand against the wound on his side subconsciously.

"Yeah, thanks."

Flash looked him up and down, then fixated on his side.

"Fine."

And then Flash left the locker room.

Peter was definitely off his game.

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His day didn't get any better from there. Since a warrant for his arrest was posted, hundreds of articles started flooding the internet. Some of them were nice, defending his cause and listing cases where he'd saved people. Those ones made Peter smile to himself, they restored his belief in the power of the little people.

But some of the articles were mean. They called him a 'danger to society', an 'ungovernable monstrosity".

The worst ones were scary though. Writers with too much time on their hands, imagining the possibilities of 'capturing' the infamous Spider-Man. The thinkpieces were killing him.

Why Science Needs Spider-Man's DNA: 10 Reasons

Best Ways to Contain the Spider

What To Do With The Spider-Man

Wanted: Dead or Dead, The Spider-Man Predicament

Is Spider-Man Technically Human?

Does Spider-Man Have Civil Rights? (4 Reasons Why NOT!)

One article proposed that he be held in five point restraints made of vibranium until he died, kept for medical testing until he had nothing else to give. Another insisted that he be euthanized as soon as police could get to him, claiming that there was no feasible way to contain him and so death was the only option.

Ohers just questioned whether or not he was a real person, and if he could even have a warrant out on him if he wasn't human. They talked about him like he was property. Peter shuddered at the thought of being kept by some laboratory in permanent restraints, never allowed to talk to anyone again because they never saw him as human.

They could hurt him, silence him, keep him locked away in some dark corner of a basement just because he dared to go out and help people.

After school he donned the suit in a desperate attempt to get an escape from the thoughts circling around his head. Peter never thought he'd have to question his validity as a human being, but if there was ever such a time it had to be then.

But his night only got worse.

He sat on the roof top after hours of swinging around the city, waiting to help people. At one point he'd tried to pick up an old woman's purse for her, but when he handed it to her she'd swung it into his head, knocking him down in shock.

"Don't you touch that!" She'd snarled down at him, hobbling away. He'd gotten up and walked away, rubbing the side of his head while listening to her call the helpline from an increasing distance. He picked up his pace after that.

It seemed no matter where he went, someone was always calling the helpline on him. It didn't matter who he helped, joked with, or even just looked at, the people of New York were not kind to him.

After a few fruitless hours, he sat on a roof and considered his evening. Peter couldn't help but chuckle at the thought of the cops racing all around the city at the some odd 20 phone calls sent in, only to find he'd already moved on to a different burough. Wild goose chase.

Sweat was beading on his forehead despite feeling cold, and Peter felt like his limbs weighed a million pounds. He layed back on the roof and stared up at the sky, where he could watch the clouds crawl above him.

"NYPD don't move or I shoot! Don't move motherfucker!"

Tears sprung into his eyes. Of course he couldn't catch a break.

"I wasn't even doing anything! C'mon!" He couldn't keep the whine out of his voice, bemoaning the loss of his moment of relaxation.

"Put your hands up! Slowly! Now!"

Peter sighed, and considered his options. He could fight the officer, only reinforcing what they already thought of him. He could put his hands up, be taken in, and let them do whatever they wanted to him until kingdom come. Or he could escape.

He knew what he was going to do before he'd even really thought through the other two options. He clenched his eyes shut for a last moment before opening them wide again, and hurled his body off the side of the building.

He threw out a web, feeling it grow taut against the building and he jolted as his body swung in an arc away from the cop behind him. Distantly, he heard two shots ring out in quick succession, then a blinding pain in his thigh. He looked down for a second, noting the wound quickly wetting against his suit, before throwing another web and swinging away.

He spared a thought to the other bullet that didn't hit him, but he barely had time to think hard about it between the pain leeching from his leg and side. He just needed to get home, bandage himself up, and take a nap.
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BREAKING: SPIDER-MAN USES BABY AS HUMAN SHIELD

Peter blinked at the headline. The other bullet had almost hit somebody. It had almost hit a baby. The article outlined the whole encounter, from when the police had received an anonymous tip of a man dressed in red and blue laying on the roof across their apartment, to how the brave officers attempted to bring in the dangerous Spider-Man, and one of their bullets had embedded itself in a baby carrier.

Peter gulped at the notion that he almost could've killed a child. Sure, he hadn't thought that things had gotten THAT bad between him and the NYPD, but he knew they wanted to catch him, and he'd chosen that particular roof top, and he'd made the decision to swing away.

It was because of his presence that the officer had ever fired their gun. It was because of him that a baby almost died.

Peter choked down the bile inching up his throat in favor of wrapping another layer of gauze over the wound. Luckily, it had gone through and through, and he hadn't died yet so he knew it hadn't hit anything important.

An hour later he was laying still on his bed, staring up at the ceiling and trying to ignore the shivers creeping up his back. He felt so tired, so worn out, despite not having done much on patrol outside of getting shot.

A tear welled up in his eye, and Peter rubbed it away with his fist before closing his eyes to go to sleep.
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"Human shield? This has to be joke. They straight up just fired a service weapon at an infant and want to blame Spider-Man. This is pathetic!"

Flash had his normal mob of kids crowded around him. Peter was half listening to what he was saying, one earbud in. He felt a little better knowing someone was on his side, and the sound of agreement coming from various of his classmates helped ease the anxiety seated in his heart.

"Why are you here?"

He looked up to see MJ situated on the seat in front of him, sitting backwards to lean on the backrest of the chair.

"Don't bullshit me, Parker. I see through it."

He sighed. Peter barely had the energy to bullshit anyone on that particular day. He'd woken up with a disgusting infection in his side, and painfully applied a generous layer of neosporin before rebandaging for school. The smell of his rotting tissue would not be soon forgotten.

"If I didn't come people would get suspicious." He might have to tell her the truth, but he would be damned to make eye contact. Peter focused his eyes just past her shoulder, too ashamed to look directly at her.

"No they wouldn't. No one would notice but Ned and I."

Peter looked closer at her, but she wasn't being mean, just honest.

"I'm a popular guy, Michelle, you don't even know. Way popular."

She lifted a single eyebrow, and Peter decided to opt out of the conversation altogether. He went to stand up, but collapsed again at the burning in his thigh. Tears sprung to his eyes at the pain, and he felt shame rising in his throat, hot and thick.

"Take it easy boy-man." Michelle said before launching off the chair and returning to her corner to read her book.

Peter let the pain pass through him in a wave, grateful for the privacy granted by Michelle leaving. He let out a huff of air as soon as the pain had fully passed, and looked up just in time to see Flash's eyes fixated on him.

Great. He probably thought Peter was part of some kind of fight club and wanted in, but knew better than talk about it.

After all, you really can't talk about fight club.

Chapter Text

Peter was just about ready to go home and go to bed the minute school ended. His entire body ached and he was ninety percent sure he'd lost more blood in the past week than even he could healthily handle. Was healthily a word? Peter didn't have the energy to spare to consider it.

So naturally he donned the suit on his way home. He figured it would take five minutes to get home by swinging, versus the twenty to thirty minutes of walking, and the sooner he could get to his bed the better. It was a great plan, but his stomach lurched with every swing, and the movement stretched his various healing wounds.

On the street below him he could hear a viscious "get the hell away from me", and spared a glance downwards.

MJ was backed up against an alley wall, some creep looming over her with a knife in one hand. He dropped the web he was holding onto, falling straight into the alley and doing a tuck and roll to break his fall. Wasting no time, he shot out a web to knock out the guy standing over MJ. Then he blacked out.

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"You weigh more than a gorilla. Wake the fuck up."

Peter woke up to the sensation of something poking his stomach. His head was burning up, and everything ached and was too hot and too cold and too much. He squinted up at MJ's concerned face.

"Yeah we're going to my apartment. It's closer. Here's your clothes, loser, get changed."

Peter took a second to process what she'd said. Normally he'd refuse and insist he go to his house and nurse his wounds, but he desperately wanted to lay down and if her house was closer then that was that.

He leaned against the alley wall while he changed, hoping to ground himself from the way the ground was tilting under his feet.

He mustered up the rest of his energy to tell MJ when he was done, and she wrapped his arm around her shoulder to help him walk. She smelled like coconut.

The walk felt long, but in reality Peter knew it couldn't have lasted longer than a few minutes. When they'd gotten inside MJ's apartment, she dropped him on her couch and he went completely limp. Peter curled his arms against his chest, burrowing into the depths of the couch and closing his eyes against the throbbing of his skull.

A minute later she returned with two white pills, a glass of water, and a first aid kit.

"First things first, take these."

She shoved the pills into his hand, and he took them with no question, only considering Mr. Starks advice to not do anything he would do. Would this qualify as something Mr. Stark would do?

Michelle then commanded that he sit up, and Peter did so reluctantly.

Leaning against the back of the couch, she draped a cold washcloth over his forehead and it felt amazing. Then she tugged up his shirt and gently peeled away the bandages covering his side from the other day.

"How have you even survived this long?" She mumbled under her breath, and Peter attempted a shrug through his feverish haze.

She made quick work of replacing the bandages on his leg and side, rubbing some kind of nice cream on both of them before laying new gauze and taping them up. She worked quietly, and her hands were cold but Peter really didn't mind. He had watched her at first but she said it was creepy so he just closed his eyes for the rest of her ministrations. He still couldn't help but notice the worried look she'd give him every few minutes, and he realized that despite her demeanor, she might just like him.

Once she was done she let him sleep for a few hours, and when he woke up, Peter felt blissfully... human.

 

His eyes shot open, and he started looking around for Michelle. She was sat at a kitchen table a few feet away from him, headphones in and blaring her famous study playlist, a combo of classical music and 70's punk. He stared at her for a moment, taking in how her head bobbed in time with the blare of the music, and the way she chewed on the insides of her cheeks when she got caught on something.

It only lasted a second before she whipped around to look at him.

"I told you to stop staring, you're being creepy Peter."

He sat up gingerly, expecting pain but feeling none.

"What did you do? I feel great!"

She stood up and walked over to where he was sitting, again inspecting the bandages.

"You have super healing, doofus. Normal people need to change their bandages every day. You need them changed every hour to keep up with the rate of healing."

She lifted up the gauze and Peter looked at the stab site, only to see a scar and some neosporin.

 

"Huh." He hummed, poking at his skin like he was expecting it to crack and split back open. Then he looked back up at her, and she did the same. Sunset streamed in through the living room windows, bathing the room in an orange-pink glow. There was a single strand of her hair that had fallen out of her ponytail at some point in the afternoon, and Peter thought of tucking it behind her ear, just like he'd seen in Zombieland.

She beat him to the chase, and then she stepped away to pack up some of her homework. It was then that his stomach growled, and he clutched at it to shush the sound.

"I'm starving. Wanna go get sandwiches? I know a great place. I'm buying." He offered, staring at her back where she was moving around pens and papers.

"Sure, why not. If it's that corner shop by your place it's not nearly as secret as you think it is."

Peter laughed and sheepishly admitted that yes, it was the corner shop by his place. And MJ admitted that she knew it would be, and that was just fine by her.

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After sandwiches, he was walking her home when he heard a radio in one of the shops.

"Hostage situation at Lou's, the sports bar. Traffic may be difficult there, police urge commuters to use a different route at least until tomorrow morning."

Peter looked at the radio, then at MJ for permission.

"Get the hell out of here." she shoved his back, and he spared a grateful smile her direction before taking off in the direction of the bar. He changed into his suit in an alley, and was at the bar not long after. He went in through the back, webbing up the guy standing the door and confiscating his rather large, rather alien made gun.

He took small steps, sneaking through the back of the bar and knocking out a total of 6 other guys with alien technology before one of the bad guys came walking in the back and took notice of him. They got him while he was distracted, and Peter cursed himself for being so careless.

"Todd we have a visitor here!" They hit him with a bolt of something just when he was finishing up with webbing up a guy in the back. The bolt froze all of his muscles and held him in suspended air as they moved him up to the front of the bar. He struggled, fruitlessly trying to will his muscles to move.

Entering the front area of the bar, he could see some odd 30 people sitting crosslegged, with their hands zip tied behind them on the floor. There were only three other goons with guns up here, but Peter had lost the element of suprise, as well as the use of his body.

"How about that." The ringleader sauntered up to where Peter was being held. He was stocky build, probaby ex-military, with a clean cut hair cut. He squinted at Peter, studying where he was being held.

"Ladies and gentlemen, it appears we have our entertainment for the evening! Put your hands together for the one, the only, the Spider-Man!"

They released the beam, dropping him to the floor in a boneless heap. He still couldn't seem to move anything, despite being out of the ray. One of the henchmen chuckled darkly and Peter desperately tried moving something, anything. His fingers twitched minutely, but at that rate it would take far too long to gain full mobility.

The beam encapsulated solely his right arm this time, and Peter looked up at the ring leaders crooked smile just in time to feel the bones pulverize. The beam dropped his arm immediately, and he now had enough movement to clutch it to his chest desperately, his mouth open in a scream that just wouldn't let out.

One of the other henchment strolled over and kicked him in the gut. Then the others pitched in, digging steel toed boots into his (very soft, very breakble) body over and over again. He curled around his middle, trying to minimize the damage and protect his already injured arm.

"St-stop. Stop!" He begged under the assault, but they kept going. His middle felt like mush, but upon experimentation he could definitely move his uninjured arm again. The men above him were getting sweaty with exertion, and Peter knew his time was limitted before they resorted to using the alien tech again.

He caught one of their feet, single handedly flinging them across the room, realizing in passing that it was the boss of the crew. Then he shot out a web to the far wall and used it to pull his body away from the other two. Cradling his poor, painful arm, he webbed up the two henchmen with no hesitation, and turned around to see the ring leader holding one of the hostages in one arm and the alien gun in the other.

"You're gonna be my ticket out of here or he is, your choice Bug-Man" the leader snarled, and Peter's muscles went slack.

"Okay, okay, just let him go. Let them all go and I'll go with you."

The boss looked pleased, and shot a beam at Peter before dropping the hostage to the floor. The beam pulled Peter closer and closer to the leader, before the guy started walking towards the back with Peter positioned directly in front of him.

Of course, that had to be the exact moment when SWAT bust through the front door, and promptly shot the guy to kingdom come.

Peter landed on his arm, and couldn't help but scream in pain this time around. He did his best to stand, muscles weighing him down. Only to be promptly tackled down by SWAT. His bad arm was tugged behind his back, and Peter's entire body bucked at the pain, sending the agent flying across the room.

He scrambled up, stumbling into the back of the bar and running out, then scaling the wall to get to the rooftops. Peter ran for several blocks, only stopping once he couldn't hear sirens even with his enhanced hearing. He peeled the shoulder of his suit down, studying the dark bruises and mottled skin stretching down his arm and prodding at the painful appendage. He didn't even want to know how fucked up his arm was. He just wanted to go back to sleeping on MJ's couch and getting sandwiches.

Why couldn't anything go his way?

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When he showed up at school the next day with a sling, MJ gave him an exasperated look, and he'd shrugged as if to say, 'what can you do?'. It took his arm a full two days to heal, which passed rather quickly. Peter kept his head down, working on school projects and hanging out with Ned. Of course, the media had their own opinion about what had happened at the bar.

SPIDER-MAN RUNS AWAY FROM SWAT: GUILTY PEOPLE DON'T RUN

VIGILANTE WRECKS COP BAR, FLEES INTO NIGHT

SPIDER-MAN ASSAULTS LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICAL

THE SPIDER BREAKS INTO COP BAR IN FIT OF RAGE

To be fair, he'd had no idea at the time that it was a cop bar he'd been in, but with his luck he just wasn't surprised. He'd long accepted that he just couldn't win, and after a certain point opted to stop checking the news related to his alter identity. Once his arm was healed, Ned had picked up some 'chatter' on the dark web. They were sitting in Ned's room, Peter working on homework and thinking Ned was doing the same.

"Dude what are you doing on the dark web?"

Ned shrugged, but Peter wasn't fooled.

"I heard you can hire hit-men on there Ned! Hit-men! What the heck?" Peter lightly pushed Ned's shoulder to emphasize his last point.

Ned looked at him and grinned a little.

"All the good conspiracy theories are on there. Don't be a hypocrite Peter you do some crazy stuff in your free time."

"Touche. What did you find?"

Ned hunkered down, typing quickly. The screen was completely black, with greeen coputer script wizzing by at the speed of light as Ned typed code. Finally, Ned settled after opening a page and pointedly stared at Peter.

"What am I looking at?"

Ned pointed at a line of code, which read as gibberish to Peter. Peter shrugged and Ned sighed heavily.

"Coordinates, a date and time, initials, and a ransom amount. Someone's ordering a kidnapping."

Peter's brow furrowed and he looked at Ned for further specifications.

"Right outside the parking lot at school, tomorrow after school ends, F.T., and 2.5 million."

Realization dawned on Peter.

"Flash."

"You know for someone as smart as you are you can be really slow on the uptake sometimes Peter."

"Hey!"
................................................................................................................................................

Peter slipped out of his last class early to survey the area where someone was scheduled to snatch up Flash. Peter saw Flash leave the school and start down the street, and he watched a black SUV also crawl up the perpendicular street timed to arrive at the crosswalk just as Flash was crossing. As the side doors of the SUV opened up and guys with guns came pouring out, Peter swung down and grabbed Flash, then swung away, leaving roughly 4 gunmen surprised on the street below.

"No fucking way." He could hear Flash murmur after he'd been dropped off at his home, safe and sound.

............................................................................................................................................................................

SPIDER-MAN SAVES TEENAGER FROM BLACK MARKET PIRATES

Peter read and re-read the newest headline over and over. In the article, Flash described how Spider-Man had gotten him 'just in time', and how without him Flash would certainly be in grave danger. Then Flash talked about how Spider-Man was the heart of the city, and he would've probably continued to go on if it weren't for the reporter snatching the microphone back.

Peter grinned as he fell asleep. After the past week, he desperately needed this win.

Chapter Text

Peter felt like he was being pulled apart. Come to think of it, Peter was literally being pulled apart. He'd somehow come to find himself in a situation much to similar to the ferry boat, where he was suspended mid-air, with each arm outstretched and webbing the two sides of a bridge together. Cars were piled in disarray, debris scattered along the bridge where people had left everything behind. Peter's webs were the only things keeping the two sides of the bridge from dropping into the water, and he'd watched at least 50 people scramble to safety.

His arms burned, but he could see the last few stragglers tripping and stumbling off the unstable bridge, and he knew he just had to hold out a little longer. As soon as everyone was safe, he'd swing away and tend to his overextended appendages.

And that was exactly what he was about to do when the police finally made their way to the scene. Peter had been in excruciating pain for 20 minutes, so of course the police WOULD show up at the last possible minute.

"Police! Freeze!" an officer shouted as they ran onto the bridge. Peter wildly moved his head, trying to put all his frustration into a single movement. Where exactly did they think he was going?

"You have to get off the bridge! Please! It's about to collapse!" He shouted, only to see another handful of officers run onto the bridge, all pointing tasers at him.

"Get down! Get down on the ground!" One shouted.

"You don't understand! You have to get off the bridge!" Peter shouted at them again, but they didn't seem to be listening.

"You have until the count of three to get down on the ground!"

Tears of frustration started welling up in Peter's eyes. A couple of things were about to happen. Either they were going to kill him, they were gonna hurt him real bad, or he would let go and they would all die.

They didn't finish their countdown before 2 tasers embedded themselves in his person. Peter shook, still shouting that the officers got off the bridge. He could hear them yelling something to each other, or at him. Then another 10 tasers hit him and he dropped like a rock into the water.

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Peter woke up on a rocky bank a few miles away from the bridge. From where he'd woken up, he could see the remains in the distance. Looking down the bank at the setting sun, he could vaguely make shape of a pair of footprints leading away from him.

Everything burned, but he ignored the deep-seated ache and stood up to go home.

 

............................................................................................................................................................

SPIDER-MAN DROPS BRIDGE FULL OF POLICE

COP-HATING VIGILANTE STRIKES NYPD

IS THE NYPD CAPABLE OF CAPTURING THE SPIDER-MAN?

Peter shut off his phone and looked up at the classroom. After yesterday's stunt he was still sore, and had already decided to skip patrol and actually go to decathlon. He looked up to see MJ verbally berating some kid for forgetting an obscure detail about the Schlieffen Plan. Peter shook his head minutely in sympathy.

"Oh, you wanna talk, Parker?"

Peter had faced multiple supervillains, crazed scientists, and the full brunt of the NYPD. But an irate MJ scared him more than all three combined. Flash snickered somewhere behind him, and Peter repressed the urge to

"No ma'am. You're a great- a great leader."

She nodded her head, satisfied. Peter threw himself into the rest of the decathlon practice, and the following two hours released a tension he hadn't realised he was carrying. By the end, he was smiling with the team as MJ ripped apart Flash's arguments. Before he knew it, the practice was over and he was shoving books back into his backpack. Most of his classmates had already left, and it was just him, Ned, MJ, and Flash left in the room.

"The bridge was already collapsing! It was never even his fault!" Flash was arguing, but no one in the room was disagreeing with him, so he was really just arguing with the media at large.

"We know, genius." MJ droned as she rolled up the screen in front of the projector. Flash opened up his mouth to (probably unsuccessfully) defend himself when the classroom doors bust open. Two burly guys dressed all in black rushed into the room toting enormous guns. All four teenagers froze, and Peter hurried to put on his web-slingers under his hoodie sleeves while his hands were still in his backpack.

"Get against the wall of the classroom, now!" One of them shouted, and Peter shot MJ a look before slowly walking to the wall. He started formulating a plan, maybe have Ned get Flash down and then Peter could tackle the guys. No collateral damage, everyone would be safe. Of course, things would never be so easy.

"If you're going to kill me you'll have to be making eye contact."

Peter whipped around to see MJ staring down a gunman. The guy was clearly already agitated, pent up on adrenaline and nerves, and getting trouble from a random teenage girl was the last thing the guy probably needed in his current state. Peter saw him curl his finger around the trigger and lift up the gun in slow motion. Before he could take aim Peter shot out a web, covering the guys face.

"Joe!" shouted the other guy, flinging his gun up. Peter jumped on him, tackling him down. As soon as the guy hit the ground, Ned pulled the fire alarm. The regular flourescent lighting shut off, replaced by red emergency lighting. Once Peter was sure his guy was out for the count, he turned around to see the first guy with a vice grip on MJ's throat. The web Peter had thrown onto his face was hanging limply off the guy's discarded ski mask.

"This one for that one." He said, pointing at Flash. Peter stood, looking between Flash and MJ and the gunman. His mouth hung open, unsure of what to do. Mr. Stark never prepared him to make a choice like this. He couldn't just give Flash to these guys, no matter how terrible he was sometimes.

"Oh fuck that, you're not getting anybody!" Flash whined from where he was standing, and MJ took the spare moment to elbow the gunman in his crotch, then she twirled and punched him square in the throat. Peter pushed his friends behind him and webbed the guy up in the corner of the room, then taking all their weapons and webbing them square in the middle of the ceiling.

When he was finished, he turned around to see Flash holding his Spider-Man mask, mouth hanging wide open. Peter's stomach dropped.

Flash knew.

There was no way he could cover this up.

Flash knew and Flash didn't give a shit about him.

Flash was for sure going to turn him in.

Peter thought about the cops. The articles calling for different and terrifying ways of 'containing' him. He thought about the Scarlet Witch being held in a straight jacket and collared in a prison in the middle of the ocean, but he knew there wouldn't be a break out for him. They'd probably never even tell Tony he'd been taken.

Peter looked at Flash, then at the mask again. Tears sprung to his eyes, and he opened and shut his mouth looking for the words to get Flash to help him, but fear was choking him. No words came out.

............................................................................................................................................................

Flash's week was not going well. First he'd almost gotten kidnapped, then MJ had shouted at him, and now someone had tried to take him again, and none other than Peter fucking Parker had saved the day.

Oh, and his hero was also Peter fucking Parker, in the worst possible turn of events.

He ran his thumb over the fabric of the mask in his hands, and so much of the past few months clicked into place. Why Peter was always limping or with a sling or sweating. Why he had started blowing off decathalon. Why Peter always perked up when Flash was discussing the newest bullshit headline.

Peter Parker had a gift handed down to him. Superpowers. And while Flash knew he'd used them well he was still racked with jealousy. This guy acted all innocent when he was really a snake, he got everything without even trying, got Liz without even trying, took Flash's seat at decathalon just because he wanted to take a quick trip to D.C.

Flash Thompson was so... angry. He was furious at Peter Parker constantly. Peter had gotten everything Flash wanted, and never once given Flash the opportunity to cut his own slice of the pie. And now, if Flash just made a single phone call he'd come out on top too. He could easily take Parker down a peg, hell, a few pegs with a sentence. Show him what real consequences for once.

But then he looked up at Peter, and saw the look on his face.

The guy was utterly bereft. He looked terrified. And while Flash liked picking on him for kicks, he hadn't anticipated this look on Peter's face, and it made him uncomfortable. He felt like one of the villains from a Disney movie. Flash felt cruel for entertaining the possibility of turning Peter in.

"Flash. You read those articles. You can't say anything. You know that right?" MJ stated calmly. Flash studied Peter's face further. The friendly, neighborhood spider-man was standing right in front of him, and he was shaking in fear. Maybe he was a little like a Disney villain. He felt so powerful with Parker sitting in front of him like that.

"We don't have much time until the fire department gets here. Flash you need to give us that mask or put it away now." She said. Ned made a swipe for the mask but Flash jerked it out of reach just in time. Peter finally broke eye contact and stared at the ground. His jaw was tight, fists clenching at his sides, and if Flash focused he could see a tear or two dropping onto the floor.

"They'll kill him Flash. They'll cut him up and harvest him and kill him. What kind of fucking person are you?" MJ continued to bore into him, but it just made him clutch the mask tighter. He could hear boots down the hall, as well as the principal stating that there was 'no such fire in my high school'. MJ scoffed at him and pulled an arm around Peter, who curled into her shoulder. He looked so fucking fragile. Flash knew better than to fall for it though.

"Hey Flash he saved you. Twice. Doesn't that mean anything?" Ned probed.

Flash remembered that. Spider-man had saved him. Peter had saved him, even though Flash was such an asshole to him on a regular basis. He looked at Peter again, who was now sitting on the floor with his hands fisted in his hair, breathing harshly. The boots drew even closer.

Just as the door began to creak open, Flash stuffed the mask back in Peter's backpack. Peter flinched as the boots hit the floor, skittering back a little. The principal strolled in, immediately losing all swagger as he took in the two mercenaries and four teenagers, one of which was in a distressed emotional state.

"This is going to be so much paperwork." He mumbled to himself.

Chapter Text

Once the emergency services personnel had left and they were all waiting outside for their parents to come get them, Peter turned to Flash, face still pale and bloodless. The night had turned cold, October winds chilling their cheeks and their hands were all curled up in their sleeves. Flash could see the desperation written plain on Peter's face, and it made him both angry and sad.

"I'll do anything, Flash, just- please. May can't take it if they take me." His voice broke on the 'please', and Flash wanted to comfort him for a second, but then was overcome with contempt for him. Of course he'd bring his aunt into this, as though this was about anything but Flash's resentment for Peter.

He looked so pathetic, it took all the fun out of the thing. Finally having some leverage on Parker was supposed to feel good, but Flash just felt like a monster, and he hated Peter for making him feel like the bad guy in this situation. Instead of saying anything he just nodded to Peter as his father's limousine rolled up into the school parking lot.

In the rearview mirror, he could see Peter's face dropping in his hands, and Ned and MJ standing next to him in support. Anger roiled in Flash's gut.

........................................................................................................................

The next morning, Flash's crew were all over him. Asking questions about the night before, prying for any details they could scoop up. He felt so claustrophobic with them all circling around him like flies. He wanted nothing more than to shove them away and sit down to work on his project, and after a few minutes he did exactly that. As the bell rang Flash looked up to see Peter dragging his feet into the classroom, staring at the ground.

His eyes were fixed downwards, but Flash could still see the bags pronounced under his eyes. His hands were jammed deep in his pockets, and he sat down heavily at his desk, not looking up or saying anything. Peter looked absolutely terrible, and Flash might even be worried if he didn't know about the super healing.

MJ was whispering something to him, and Ned was just staring, concerned. Flash hated that Peter's friends were so there for him when Flash's just wanted a good story. Then class started, and even though everyone had started taking notes and asking questions, Parker just kept staring at the ground. It was like he was putting on some kind of performance of misery, just for Flash. He really thought if he made himself look pathetic enough that Flash would concede? That made him angrier than ever.

When lunch came around Flash had realized that his maid had forgotten to pack his. It was understandable, she had spent so much time fussing about him after everything that had happened last night, and Flash thought fondly to earlier in the morning, when she'd sat him down next to her to say a prayer for his safety. But now he was hungry. And still fairly angry.

............................................................................................................................................................................

"You know, Parker, I'm kind of peckish. Since we're such good friends, would you mind sharing some of your lunch?"

The sound of Flash's voice brought Peter out of his trance. He looked up to see Flash standing above him, and wordlessly pushed his lunch across the table until it was sitting in front of him.

"Stealing his lunch, Flash? Really? Is this the 90's? What's next? You going to shake him down for milk money?"

While Peter appreciated MJ standing up for him, he shrunk further into himself at her challenge. Who knew how close Flash was to exposing him, and any comment could be the thing to push him over the edge.

"Hey now, that's no way to talk to your friends. Friends stick up for each other. Friends keep each other's secrets, right Peter?"

Peter begrudgingly made eye contact, nodding minutely. He felt sick to his stomach.

Peter had spent the better part of the night watching Flash. After two attempted kidnap attempts, he didn't like the idea of a third being pulled off without Spider-Man around. Between that and the ever-looming threat of the end of everything Peter knew, he felt the need to stand watch over one Flash Thompson, only stopping at home a few minutes before school to make May think he'd just woken up.

The newest article to hit the internet that night had insinuated that Spider-Man's DNA could be manipulated to heal cancer, and if he was captured the NYPD was morally obligated to surrender him to a lab in upstate New York. Peter remembered about reading about that very lab the year before, in an article where it had been shut down for animal cruelty, and only just re opened. In the article had been an image of the crate that they wanted Spider-Man to be held in. It reminded him of the one he'd helped Ned wrangle his old dog into.

Flash had sat down across from Peter, and was now happily munching on the sandwich May had made for him that morning.

"You see that article from last night, Parker? Amazing what science is capable of, huh?"

Peter promptly grabbed the nearest garbage can and upchucked.

............................................................................................................................................................................

"You can't keep doing this, Peter. You need to sleep. You need to eat."

It had been three days since Flash had found out. Peter had followed him day and night for three days.

"I can't, you know that. They'll come for him again, MJ." He rubbed his face roughly, hoping it would wake him up for the long evening ahead of him. Peter wished that someone would just make a move already so he could save Flash and get the whole thing over with. Frustrated, MJ sighed loudly next to him.

"You know he'd never do this for you. Does he even know you're doing it right now?"

Flash actually didn't have any idea that Peter had been following him for days. If he wasn't in grave danger, Peter would have thought there had to be a joke somewhere in there about Flash's oblivioiusness. But as it was, the previous night the police had shown up to Flash's door once to get a second statement about the other night, and Peter had spent the subsequent two hours in full blown panic attack. He just wasn't in a laughing mood.

"Maybe you can take a nap now? I don't think anyone would notice."

Ned was right, it was the middle of a block period and the TA looked like she had fallen asleep herself. And the sound of closing his eyes was so enticing. Somewhere around the second day a buzzing kind of feeling had manifested in his skull, and he had a feeling it had to do with the sleep deprivation.

Peter nodded sedatedly, and then looked over at Flash. He was staring straight at him, no real expression on his face. Adrenaline poured into Peter's veins as Flash stood up and started walking towards him. Was this it? Had he made a decision on whether or not he was going to turn Peter in?

"You look like shit. Take a nap, Parker." He bit out as he passed, turning his assignment in at the front of the room. Tears flooded Peter's eyes at what he had felt was a narrow escape. He clenched his jaw, trying to keep his distress as contained as possible. Peter closed his eyes, finding it much easier to keep them closed rather than open them.

He folded his arms on the desk in front of him, and fell almost immediately into a deep sleep.

He dreamt of the woman again, forever falling, watching Peter like he could possibly help her. Then he dreamed about being the dog, being shepherded into a cage and poked and hurt and not being able to get away.

When Ned had nudged him awake at the end of the period, Peter almost felt worse than when he'd fallen asleep.

............................................................................................................................................................................

That night he'd fallen asleep while watching Flash. Flash was asleep, he was at home, and Peter was perched on a fire escape where he could see Flash. The night was unseasonably warm, and the week had taken it's toll on Peter's body. He closed his eyes for just a second.

They shot open again when he heard a strangled 'help!' coming from Flash's room. Peter wasted no time swinging in through the window. He took in the scene in front of him. Four mercenaries, two of which were carrying Flash out the door. Another two occupied the front and the back of the procession, armed with enormous guns.

The greatest thing about enormous guns, Peter thought, is that they're exceedingly unwieldy in small rooms. He wasted no time grabbing the guns with his webs, yanking them out the window, then webbing the two lookouts to the wall. Then he focused on the ones that were now rushing, with Flash in their arms, down the long and luxuriant hallway.

Flash was bucking wildly, trying to get out of their grip, but he was just a teenager and these guys were hardcore. Peter ran and tackled one to the ground, letting go of Flash's legs. With the extra leverage, Flash was able to forcefully head butt the guy left holding him. The mercenary stumbled backwards, pawing at his bleeding nose.

"You bitch!" He shouted before hunkering down and running full speed at Flash. At the last possible second, Flash stepped to the side, leaving the guy to trip over his partners splayed legs and land face first on the carpet.

Peter finally managed to web the guy on the ground's hands together. He looked up at Flash, both of them panting. Flash laughed a little, and Peter couldn't help but join in.

"You see that move?" Flash asked.

"Yeah I didn't realize you were half matador!"

Flash laughed even more

"We all have a little matador in us, Parker. C'mon."

The two sat on the ground, backs propped up against the wall. They were still breathing heavily, and Peter started to pick the pieces of glass from Flash's window off his suit.

"Thanks. You know- for coming."

"Course. I was just- I was around. You know."

Flash had a feeling that it wasn't just a coincidence that Peter was there at just the right time, but he didn't say anything.Then the NYPD came storming down the hall. Peter was up in a second, scrambling back and away.

"Woah, what? I thought- I thought we were good! What?"

Flash gaped at them, standing up and in front of Peter.

"It must have been the alarm system. You broke the glass! Oh my god I completely forgot!"

"Flash Thompson, step away from the Spider-Man." An officer called out from behind a sea of riot gear. Peter felt like the riot gear was kind of overkill, but he could also understand why they felt it necessary.

Flash looked behind the officers, at some kind of weird set of cuffs one was holding. It was oval shaped, like those hand muffs people use in Russia, except made of metal. Flash cautiously stepped closer to the officers until he was in front of their shields.

"What's that?" he asked. Before they answered, an arm jutted through the wall, grabbing Flash and tugging him into their 'safety'. Once he was past the officers, he could get a better look at the device.

"What is that thing?"

The officer holding it looked from Flash to his supervising officer, who nodded the okay to explain.

"These are the special handcuffs for the suspect. On last Wednesday it was determined that the suspect is weakened by electricity. As such, these cuffs deliver a constant stream of electric shocks to subdue the suspect until a better solution can be reached."

Flash gulped, staring at them, then looking at Peter, who must've heard that.

"How strong is the electricity?"

The officer looked to his supervisor for permission again before answering.

"To you or me it would be near deadly, son. But to the enhanced, it should be just enough to keep him docile."

Flash looked back to where the riot wall had started advancing on Peter. He was literally backed into a corner, no windows or doors left to run out of. Flash thought about the past few days, the fear he'd seen in Peter's eyes. This is exactly what the guy had been afraid of. And even though he knew it was a possibility, he'd risked everything to save Flash.

Flash needed to do something, and soon. He looked over at where the unconcsious mercenaries were laying, cursing Peter for having disposed of their guns. Flash delivered a kick to the side of one he'd beeen dealing with earlier, waking him up. The guy rubbed his face, then contorted into an expression of rage and lunged for Flash.

"Help! Immediate danger! AAAAAHHH!!" Flash shouted, and all the officers spun around to look at him, now training their various weapons on the mercenary. Flash jerked his head when Peter looked at him, indicating it was time for Peter to make his getaway. Flash caught a minute nod of Peter's head before he was gone, and the officers had converged on the lone mercenary.

Chapter Text

Peter didn't need much encouragement to get the hell out of there. He knew Flash would have his back, at least for now, in terms of talking to the cops, and the image of those cuffs was seared into his brain.

It seemed sadistic to him. Why would they go so far? It wasn't as though he'd ever hurt somebody. He wasn't dangerous. He was just the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. Peter stopped on a fire escape to check the news, because of course the internet had flooded with even more anti-Spider-Man articles in the past several hours. One particular headline took his attention though.

ENHANCED INDIVIDUALS RULED INHUMAN BY AREA JUDGE

Clicking through the article, Peter read the exact thing he'd been scared of. Some old coot had decided earlier that day that 'enhanced individuals' were not ruled as human after a mind-controlled mutant had killed a woman in New Hampshire. Since it wasn't the mutant's fault (they were mind-controlled!) the judge had ruled that mutants as a whole had no control over their actions, and were now a kind of property.

Seeing as there was a total of probably 5 mutants worldwide, no one seemed to care.

There were no more thinkpieces arguing for his right to be a human, in fact, there were no thinkpieces on the ruling at all. It was like the media had just decided to skip the judgement. Peter gulped as he considered the consequences for himself.

Now if he got caught, he could be sold off in a police auction. Like they did for seized cars. He felt sick for the rest of the night.
................................................................................................................................................

"Peter, you should see this." Ned shoved his laptop in Peter's face. He'd just sat down at his desk, and had yet to even rub the sleep from his eyes. After the night before, Peter decided to stay in the apartment with May to calm the deep seated anxiety rampaging through his chest.

"For the last time, Ned, I don't know what that is."

Ned sighed, and delved into even more jargon far too advanced for Peter to understand. Computer sciences were not one of his strong suits. Just as a cluster headache started forming, MJ stepped in.

"Someone put out a contract on you last night doofus." She was sitting several chairs ahead, and didn't so much as turn around to tell them. But they knew all the same she was talking to them.

"What?" Peter squinted at the laptop, trying to see any details he could possibly understand.

"She's right, Peter. A hundred thousand dollars for you dead or alive, turned into the cops. Well, Spider-Man, so kind of you." Ned emphatically gestured at a line in the code, which still didn't quite translate to Peter.

"Why? Like why now?"

MJ sighed again and turned around to talk.

"You've been getting in the way of Flash's hit. Probably pissed somebody off. Third times the charm, genius."

Ned nodded in her direction to indicate he thought similarly. Peter gulped, looking up at where Flash was sat a few feet away, listening in on the conversation. Flash stared back at him, frowning.

"Ned can you find out who's putting this stuff out there?"

Ned chewed on the inside of his cheek, manically hitting the keys and scrolling through pages on pages of information. Eventually the screen went completely black, and a single line of green code wrote itself across the page.

"This is where the computer is that put out the contract, but I can't find the owner. Peter this seems like a trap, it should've taken longer to find."

"He's right, Parker, most professional criminals don't send out their addresses on their criminal fucking craigslist ads." Flash droned, now standing next to the group.

Peter looked at MJ, then Ned, then Flash. As much as he didn't want to go stumbling into a vipers nest, there were no other clues and he couldn't be on Flash's tail for the rest of his life. The address was just a few miles away from the school, close enough that he could just pop in during lunch while the others could watch Flash.

Peter gulped. He didn't see any other option. A clue was a clue, and even if they were trying to ambush him at least he might be able to gleam some information from them before slipping out.

"I'll check it out at lunch. Don't worry, ok? I'll be careful."

MJ gave him The Look, and he shrunk into his seat but didn't back down from the plan.

"Stay on the line with us the whole time. If you get in trouble get out of the suit and I'll call the cops, Parker, don't think I won't."

He nodded, accepting the compromise, before turning to his classwork and ignoring the worried glances from various members of Team Spidey.

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Lunch came faster than any of them could have liked. They said nothing as Peter slipped out the gym door, nodded to them as the door shut behind him. They acted like he was going to his death, which Peter considered to be mighty melodramatic, but he was also literally walking into what was most likely a trap to kill him so he couldn't blame them.

He was a mile out from the place when his suit phone started ringing.

"What's up?"

"God you're an idiot. I hate knowing you."

"Hey MJ. I'm almost there."

As he closed in on the property, he could see a decrepit old warehouse with all the windows boarded up. Years of growth and grime coated the structure, and Peter's spider sense started tingling against his neck at a low frequency.

He walked closer to the building, finding give in one of the boards before slipping in. It was incredibly dark, but also incredibly dirty. And empty. Trash and old leaves littered the floor, a few rusty old industrial machines piled on top of each other in a corner. He could hear the pitter patter of rats running around as he stepped, sending chills up his back.

"Hey guys, I don't see anything here. Are you sure you got the address right?"

"No. Let me check with Ned-" and then, "Yeah, that's definitely the place."

Peter scowled at the room around him, the place was empty. Kind of creepy, yeah, but no supervillains to be found.

"Alright, well this was a bust. I'm coming back."

Of course, as soon as he'd cut off the call the floor under him collapsed, sending him down into a dark pit. He landed flat on his ass, which was sure to bruise pretty bad later, but just hurt like a bitch in the moment. With one hand clutching his aching butt and the other feeling around the pit, Peter looked up to see a grate that had opened where he had been standing. The grate was completely pristine in contrast to the rest of the building, and as Peter explored the area he realized it too was completely clean.

This was definitely a trap.

These morons must not have done their research, and Peter chuckled to himself for a second before attaching his hands to the sides of the pit and climbing up and out. As soon as his feet were planted on ground, he called MJ back while making his way back out of the warehouse.

"You were totally right! They tried like a pitfall kind of trap? I don't know if they think I'm like a rabbit or something but you should've seen it! I swear-"

His spider-sense ramped up, and he spun around just in time to see an enormous sheet of metal flying at his head.

His vision went black before he even had time to react.

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"Peter? Peter?!" MJ shouted into the receiver.

"God damnit! I knew this would happen!" She forcefully hit the end call button. Ned and Flash were both crowded around the phone.

"What did he say" "What happened?"

MJ looked at the two of them. God, they stood no chance.

"Did you drive today?" She asked Flash, who nodded.

"Good. We're going on a trip."

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By the time they'd arrived MJ had dispersed her limitted supply of weapons retrieved from her locker. When it came down to it, they were three teenagers, armed with pepper spray, a taser, and a particularly heavy Advanced Calculus text book. The warehouse looked every bit as abandoned as Peter had described it.

"Why are we doing this again?" Flash asked, clutching the textbook in both hands like it could have any effect in soothing him. MJ rolled her eyes and turned around to lay him out when Ned interrupted her.

"He's been risking himself for you all week, Flash. You know how high the stakes have been for him. He's our friend."

Flash pursed his lips and carried on, not responding to the accusation that Penis Parker was his friend. MJ took up the lead, with Flash and Ned flanking her. They were like an unstoppable, teenage triangle of rescue. The unstoppable bit might have been a little bold, but Flash wasn't about to ruminate on just how stoppable they really were.

"This must be where they got him." MJ gestured at the ground in front of them, where the debris was particularly scattered, and fresh drops of blood sat.

"My lucky day. Would you look at that, boys, two birds with one stone."

Some skinny guy came climbing up a staircase in the corner that none of them had noticed. Behind him was several burly mercenaries, dressed in combat uniform. Two of them were clutching Peter's arms up by the shoulders, carrying his limp body between them. His hands met behind his back, and Flash saw (and heard) those cuffs buzzing with electricity.

"I guess my problem this whole time has been trying to hire people to do my dirty work. After all, if you want something done right, you gotta do it yourself."

"What the fuck is even happening right now." Ned murmured from behind Flash.

"This generation really has suffered from technology." The guy sighed, and sauntered forward until he was closer to Flash, who stumbled back a step, directly into MJ.

"Your father is going to pay so much to get you back." He leaned forward, squinting at Flash before gripping his jaw and moving his head around as if to examine merchandise.

Flash looked past him at where Peter was hanging limp. He had to be awake, no way could someone remain unconscious with that much electric current running through them. Anger surged through him at the entire situation.

Flash would probably get out just fine. His dad would pay whatever, then give him a lecture, then the maid would make his favorite foods for a week and pretend it was just coincidence. But Peter would die. Or worse, spend the rest of his life in the dark, experimented on and inhumanized. And god only knew what these guys would do to MJ and Ned, who Flash had to admit he begrudgingly liked. Sometimes it was just nice to have someone call him out on his bullshit.

The villain, who had most likely introduced himself while Flash was caught up in his own thoughts, kept rambling on about money and justice and philosophy, and he let his grip on Flash's jaw loose.

"Anyway, I'm getting off topic. Kill the other two, bring that one and our little hero back home."

The mercenaries surged forward towards MJ, Ned, and Flash. Panic clawed up into Flash's throat, his heart beating faster and wilder than ever before.

"Go fuck yourself" he snarled before raising the textbook in both hands and then jackhammering it down on top of the guys head. He went down like a puppet with it's strings cut, and the rest of the mercenaries surged forward. Flash focused on the guy in front of him, bashing him over and over again with the textbook, but from the corners of his eyes he could see MJ macing like a mofo, and Ned tazing someone into a new dimension.

For all their efforts, they were still just three teenagers against a group of highly trained fighters. In minutes each of them was being held by the arms by a different mercenary. They were panting from the effort, still struggling against the steely grips holding them back.

"Jesus, what the hell are they teaching you?" The leader asked, standing up and rubbing his head where Flash had hit him.

"Let them go" Peter weakly mumbled from where he was being held.

"Keep me, just let them go."

The leader scoffed, pointing a finger and giving Ned, Flash, and MJ an incredulous look, as if to say 'look at this guy'.

"I would love nothing more, bug boy, but there's money to be had in this room. Now, I've wasted enough time. I do have a business to run, afterall." With that the leader left the warehouse, opening a door that none of them had quite noticed was there. The guy holding Flash started following, as well as the ones holding Peter.

Ned and MJ were being lead in a different direction though, and Flash kicked out, trying to get back to them.

"Stop! Don't hurt them! Motherfucker enough!" He was screaming, desperately trying to get out of the gun-for-hire's grip. He could see Peter bucking a little, but it was weak even to Flash. Flash could hear a gun cocking, and what must've been Ned crying from the other end of the warehouse.

Of course, true to fashion, that's just when the NYPD showed up.

"Put your hands up! Drop the weapons! Drop them!"

Everything moved so fast. In what seemed like seconds police officers were all over, one of them pulling a shock blanket around Flash and guiding him over to an ambulance to be checked. Flash whipped his head around, trying to figure out what was happening. The mercenaries were all being lead away in handcuffs, Ned and MJ equally as shell shocked as Flash. He whipped around, looking for Peter.

Flash's eyes found him just as he was being roughly shoved into the back of a police car.

Chapter Text

Peter couldn't feel anything. Well. Correction: Peter wished he couldn't feel anything. Electricity was coursing through him, shorting out his brain whenever he'd gotten a sense of the situation. He felt sick. He felt like he should be dead. He felt like he was floating, but also dying too. When he'd woken up, there were two men carrying him, and that ginger guy rambling on and on. Peter couldn't bring himself to focus past the pulsing electricity, but if he really tried he could see Ned and Flash and MJ standing a few feet away.

At some point it devolved to sheer chaos. Peter wished he could figure out what was happening, but all he could see was the world spinning around and around and shouting. Flash was screaming something, and Peter tried to struggle against the hands holding him. It didn't work at all, and then the noise just got worse. At some point he hit the ground. He dug his head into the cold floor in an attempt to ground himself, but he still felt like he was burning to death. A strong pulse hit him and his vision went completely white, and for a moment he could feel his skin literally crawling with the electric current.

When he could see again he was in the back of a car. Maybe a moving car? He couldn't figure out if his vision was supposed to be spinning or if the car was actually moving. Peter tried to sit up, but his muscles felt like jello. He couldn't do anything, he didn't know where he was, and he was completely alone in the back seat.

"Where- where 'm I?" He mumbled into the seat of where he was slouched.

"We- route- station- arrest- buddy."

Peter wasn't sure if the guy driving the car was speaking in sentence fragments or if he just couldn't hear.

"I can't- I don't- what?" Peter's head hurt so much, and his wrists felt like they were encased in boiling metal. It was like his blood was being replaced with bolts of electricity.

"You're being seized by the NYPD. We are en route to the station" A voice shouted from the front. Fear gripped Peter's heart.

"No- I can't- It- hurts" Peter couldn't even stand up for himself. He felt sick. This was the end. He would've tried to figure out how to get out, but his entire body was shaking and burning.

"Suck it up, butter cup, that's your new normal." A voice said from the front of the car, followed by the distinct sound of rude chuckling. Peter ground his face into the seat, trying to ignore the hot tears that were pooling around his eyes. Eventually they came to a stop and someone opened the door to pull him out. He tried his best to inch to the other side of the backseat, but he couln't get very far before a hand enclosed around his ankle and he was yanked away.

They didn't have a very good grip on him, and he couldn't exactly move on his own, and Peter just wound up kind of slumping onto the ground. Gravity was not kind, and while it was nothing on top of the rest of his wounds, Peter gasped when he hit the ground.

"He's uncooperative, Mick." He could hear from somewhere above him, and then a boot swung into his side. Then another. Peter tried to curl up but the hits kept raining down.

"Stop- I can't-" Peter felt worse than he'd ever felt in his life. He felt so low, he wanted to sink into the ground. While he'd never admit it, he hoped on a small level that he had died earlier, just so he could escape the current pain raining down on him.

"Jesus stop what the hell is wrong with you? You'll kill him! Get the hell away from him! Get out!"

Peter looked up again to see an officer standing over him, verbally berating his colleagues. He squinted through the pain and tears, and he vaguely recognized the guy. Before he could really figure out where he knew the officer from, a stronger pulse wracked his body. He flopped a little on the floor, losing control over his body parts.

"Hey pal, remember me?" The officer asked as he set a hand on Peter's shoulder. Peter couldn't help but flinch back from the touch, and electric pulses erased whatever train of thought he'd had going. Again.

"C'mon, how bout you get up. I got you. There we go." The officer gently lifted Peter up until he had an arm wrapped around the officer's shoulder, and the guy was practically carrying him. Then it struck Peter. This was the guy in the bar who he'd traded places with. He wanted to say something, acknowledge that he knew the guy, but the pain was too much and he could barely breathe through it.

Peter had no idea how long they 'walked' like that. He didn't pay attention to his surroundings, or the floor under his feet, or much of anything. At some point he realized he was sitting, and then there was a clang.

Peter opened his eyes to see a jail cell. He was sat on the ground, alone, locked in. Someone was standing outside of it spitting vitriol, but he couldn't bother paying attention. He just slumped to his side and tried to remember what if felt like to be human again.

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Tony was so tired. He was ready to be home. It had been a long couple of weeks out in space, and while no one on the team had been seriously injured there had been many of heart-stopping close calls. The time away from his home planet hadn't been easy, not on any of them. He missed burritos. He missed the sky. He especially missed gravity.

Tony was exhausted on landing back on the surface of the planet. There was nothing he wanted more than to lay down in his own bed and shut his eyes for a good nap. And the sky was still blue and the grass was still green, and Tony just assumed that everything was just fine. So he was more than a little surprised to hear of the recent news involving his protege.

"They what?!"

"He's been doing just fine, you know the kid. Normal stuff. Burning buildings, falling bridges. It's not like they actually arrested him or anything."

Tony sighed and pinched the bridge of his nose. As it turns out, when you leave for two weeks to go fight an alien army it's almost guarenteed that everything will go to hell.

"Okay, FRIDAY, call the kid."

Voicemail. Anxiety started pooling in his stomach. Peter always answered his calls.

"Suit-feed."

A projection of the inside of the suit played against the wall. Tony liked to call it Peter-vision. The current Peter-vision was the inside of a jail cell, moaning in pain, while someone shouted obscenities about him.

Tony was out of his chair in seconds.

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"What the fuck is wrong with you? Get those off him. Now."

Peter squinted at the bars. Was that Tony? Could he be there? No way. Tony was still on mission, Peter must've been hearing things. The bars opened up and someone grabbed him. Peter flinched back, trying his best to scramble away.

"Stop- stop- please- stop"

He started crying again, hot tears burning down his face. Everything hurt so much, he couldn't imagine it could get any worse. Peter wanted nothing more than to shrink into himself until he was nothing.

"Kid, hey, it's me buddy. Can you see me, Peter?"

He looked up. It was definitely Tony standing over him now. Was it real? Was Mr. Stark back? Peter found he couldn't care if it was real or not, because he needed it to be so he'd believe anyway.

"Mr. Stark, help me." His voice sounded pathetic even to his own ears, but everything hurt and Mr. Stark was there and maybe he could fix it. He bucked against the ground a second later as a stronger pulse wracked his body. Peter wanted to reach up and hug Mr. Stark, but his limbs felt like they were made of lead and he couldn't move at all.

Then, all at once, it stopped. A residual shiver of pain ran through him, and Peter sighed out the last vestiges of electricity. He looked at his wrists to see that Mr. Stark had removed the cuff, and then slumped back onto the ground before promptly passing out.

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Tony inspected the device. It had a few prongs on the inside of the cuffs, and he could see where they'd drilled into the kids' hands and wrists. It looked like they'd been delivering a consant electrical current, one far stronger than Peter should've been able to sustain for very long.

It occurred to him that Peter most likely would've gone into cardiac arrest within an hour if he hadn't been there to help. He stared down at the kid, who was still in his Spider-suit and all but dead on a grimy jail cell floor. Another surge of anger ripped through his body, and he gently lifted Peter up and started carrying him out. The image of Peter flinching back and then begging him would remain etched into his eye lids for decades to come.

The only thing that stopped him from leaving immediately was a man standing between him and the door of the cell.

"Sir, you can't do that, the Spider-Man is official property of the NYPD."

To think Tony had been angry before that. Property. A 15 year old, painfully good child was being referred to as property. How could things have gone so wrong in his absence?

"Excuse me? What was that?" Tony growled out, clutching Peter even closer to his chest.

The officer in front of him at least had the moral gall to look sheepish. But he was still confident enough to not back off, and that was still too much on Tony. He wanted to knock this guys' teeth out.

"You can't leave with it."

Tony's vision went red. They called Peter 'it'. All he could think about was pulverizing the man standing in front of him, who had clearly bought into some kind of mentality that allowed the torture of his child. They were just lucky that Tony's hands were full of roughly 120 lbs of bruised and bloody teenager or they would've had a much bigger problem.

"Just try fucking stopping me."

Tony would never remember the walk out of the police station, or the drive back to the tower, or the walk inside. In fact, the entire time was a blur of anger and guilt and fear until he was back at the tower, laying the kid down on a medbay bed. The fact that Peter hadn't so much as stirred didn't occur to Tony until Banner rushed into the room, armed to the nines with medical equipment.

Chapter Text

Peter was always a deep sleeper. When he woke up, he usually did so slowly. He had been that way his whole life, since he could remember. That being said, after the past several weeks' ordeal, when consciousness came calling he woke up in seconds.

Panic gripped his throat. The last thing he remembered was jail and pain and a cold concree floor and oh god, this was it, they had him. He looked up at the ceiling and tried gasping down breaths but the terror clawing at him didn't allow for it.

"Peter? Jesus, he's awake!" He could hear distantly

Peter looked up to see none other than Tony Stark leaning over him, hand reaching for Peter's.

"Hey, kiddo. Keep breathing now, you got it."

Peter kept looking up at Tony, gaping like a fish out of water. Nothing was making sense, and he was still so scared. All his senses felt like they were ramped way the hell up, and his hand clenched in an incredibly soft blanket, that he was now aware of being draped over him.

Air snaked it's way into his lungs, and the pressure in his chest lightened if only a little. Peter felt at his wrists. Nothing there. He wasn't really hurting, come to think of it, just scared. But Mr. Stark was here so it had to be ok?

"Mr. Stark? What?" He gasped out, trying to make his last memory come to terms with the present. Eloquency was never his strong suit.

Tony leaned down until their foreheads were touching, and patted Peter on the cheek before withdrawing. Now that Peter was really looking, Tony looked worse than he could ever remember. Peter had to wonder what had happened.

"You're at the tower kid, you're alright."

"Peter? Honey?" May came whirling into the room like a tornado of motherly fussing. Tony slipped out right as she started in on him, arranging blankets and pouring him water and checking his temperature over and over. Peter laid there for several minutes as she cried and hugged him and cried some more and wagged her finger to try and 'talk some sense into him'.

Eventually she stopped when Peter's eyes started growing heavy again, and he scooted over on the bed so she could crawl in and hug him. He never felt so safe, laying next to May in Mr. Stark's tower. He vaguely wondered how long he'd been out for.

"About a week, kid."

Peter looked up at Tony, who was watching him sadly. Peter wanted to say something, a week was a long time to be asleep, but the tides pulled him under and he was out again.

................................................................................................................................................

After he'd woken up again, this time after a normal amount of time, Peter was determined to go home. Tony said he'd 'handled' everything with the police, and Peter didn't want to have to think about what that meant, so he just nodded and curled his arms around his knees and put his head on top to rest.

He didn't really want to talk about any of it. To Peter, it had happened and it was over and maybe he could forget it had ever happened someday. Maybe someday he'd be able to sleep a full night again.

That was another something he wasn't telling May and Tony. He couldn't sleep more than a few hours. It was always one thing or another that woke him up. One night it was Ned and MJ and Flash screaming as they were killed in that warehouse. The next he was stuck in a cage in a lab and Tony had never come back, never saved him. Some nights it was just the actual memories, played in vivid detail over and over. He didn't know which ones he hated the most.

Once Mr. Banner had declared him healthy enough to walk and talk (simultaneously), Peter went back to his normal life and opted to never ever talk about it ever again.

The first day back at school didn't make it easy, though.

"Peter! You're back!" Ned barrelled into him with a hug, threatening to send both of them to the ground. Peter winced as the pressure pushed on his bruised ribs. He looked up to see Flash and MJ sitting next to each other, Ned's stuff in an adjacent seat, and one open by that one. He ambled over and sat down, wheezing at how the motions had pulled at his various injuries.

Ned was talking about something, going a mile a minute, but Flash and MJ were just watching him, and he stared back at them when he realized he didn't have anything else to do. He was still so tired, his energy drained despite it still being the first class of the day. Peter already regretted coming to school. He wished he could just be in his bed at home, or laying on the couch with May.

"Anyway, you HAVE to watch this video."

Ned shoved his phone in Peter's hands, and Peter looked to see a youtube video of Tony at a press conference. There were a million microphones positioned on a stand, and Tony looked awful. He had bags under his eyes, his hair was a mess. Nothing like the billionaire Peter knew.

"Do any of you have any idea of the damage you've done? Spider-man is almost dead. He is a real person, with a real family, his pain is real, and you've almost killed him. All he does-" Tony took a deep breath, as if to calm himself, " All he does is help people. I swear, he lives for it. Always looking for a cat to rescue from a tree, or someone in trouble that could use a hand. Would you like to know how I found him? He was beaten and electrocuted to within an inch of his life by New York's finest, and thrown in a cell. He thought he'd spend the rest of his life there, or somewhere even worse. Did he commit a crime? No. But he was an easy target for all of you and apparently that was enough." Tony sighed again.

"I can't believe this city let him down like this. I can't believe the people he works to protect would hurt him like this." Tony centered himself and looked back at the reporters.

"Do better, NYC."

The video ended.

Peter looked at Ned and Flash and MJ, who were all staring back at him. He felt gross. Tony had defended his honor or something to the entire city. And everyone had seen it and Peter didn't know anything about it. Peter wanted to hide under a rock.

"Why- why'd you show me that?" He wheezed out, this time his breathing having nothing to do with injury.

"Why'd you have to show me that?" It finally hit him how close he'd come to dying. All he ever wanted to do was use his powers for good, and they shot him and hit him and tortured him. He hurt so bad. Tears sprung to his eyes but they were shut so tight they couldn't escape.

An arm snaked around his shoulder, and even though somewhere in the back of his mind Peter knew it was meant to be comforting, he flinched back and brought his arms to his chest as if to protect it in an attack.

He remembered that stranger carrying him with an arm around his shoulder, the pain radiating through his body, and the fear that the rest of his life was going to be no different.

"Peter. Look at me."

He squinted up at MJ.

"I'm going to hug you, alright? When I do, try to feel my breaths and match them."

He nodded minutely, feeling her arms wrap around him a moment later. She still smelled like coconut, and he struggled to match her exaggerated deep breathing until he could finally get air again. By now everyone in the room was staring, and blood rushed to Peter's cheeks.

"Shows over. Find something interesting to watch." Flash snarled at the class, who gradually turned their backs again and went back to whatever it was they had been doing before. Peter shot Flash a grateful look, and he nodded in return.

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Things slowly got their rhythm back. Peter got in the habit of going to school, going home, sometimes going to the Tower, hanging out with Ned and Flash and MJ, and eventually going on patrol again. He avoided the cops as best he could, just in case old habits died hard.

But he could only keep it up so long.

It was supposed to be an easy patrol. For whatever reasons, criminals almost always stayed in on Tuesday nights. So when Peter got word that there was an alarm going off in a bank a few miles away, he was mildly surprised but all the same swung over to handle the situation. Inside, three guys dressed all in black were hurriedly stuffing money into backpacks, and they didn't notice when Peter landed inside.

"You know, usually I'm all for sharing is caring. But I don't think this applies." He said before webbing one of the guys to the wall. The second robber grabbed for a gun on his hip, while the third took off, zipping up his backpack as he went.

"Aw, geez." Peter said, mostly to himself, before swinging down and knocking the gun out of robber #2's hands, and then webbing him to the wall as well. He turned around to run after #3, but had barely seen the guy when he got hit with something distinctly alien.

His vision went white when he flew back with the force. All he could hear was a ringing in his ears, and then the pain hit. It slammed into him all at once, like the power of a full freight train. Peter couldn't help but scream at the searing burn in his abdomen. He writhed on the ground, desperately trying to escape the pain.

"Spider-Man down, I repeat, Spider-Man down. Requesting immediate medical services."

Peter hazily looked up to see a harried member of the NYPD leaning over him. Immediately he tried scrambling back, his elbows carrying him a good three feet before giving out.

"No- don't- please-" He gasped out, right before a wave of pain wiped any thoughts from his brain. The officer looked young, and her hands ghosted over the surface of the wound like she didn't know what to do.

"Hey, I'm- I'm Susan. People call me Suzy. You're going to be okay, Spider-man, okay? We'll help you."

Peter shuddered a breath into his lungs, trying to gather the strength to maybe run away. He had to get away. If they pulled up his mask... if they pulled up his mask they'd surely leak his identity. They didn't care, didn't know the risk.

"You need to stop moving, okay? Uh- yeah- uh- just- stop moving?" She stammered, lifting up one of his hands and clutching it in hers.

"Don't- don't let them take off my mask. Please. Do- do whatever. Don't let them take- my mask." He gasped out, eyes begging Suzy.

"Okay, okay, you got it. They won't take off the mask. I promise."

Peter nodded once, and promptly passed out.

................................................................................................................................................

He woke up in a hospital. Like a for-real hospital. The beeping of the heart monitor woke him up all at once, and he jolted up before wrapping a hand around his middle at the way the motion pulled at the new skin there.

He felt at his face desperately with one hand, calming when he felt the mask still on.

Peter looked over to see Suzy, sitting in a chair next to his bed, staring at him with impossibly wide eyes.

"Hi." He scratched out.

Her mouth gaped open, most likely trying to find words, and a moment later she settled on,

"It's my first day on the streets."

Peter cocked his head in question.

"I'm going to be the rookie that saved Spider-Man for the rest of my career."

Peter immediately felt guilty.

"Sorry."

She looked at him quizzically now.

"For what? I'm going to be a legend! This is so crazy cool!"

Peter couldn't help but laugh, and she laughed with him, and that's exactly how Tony Stark found them minutes later.