Peter’s hands shook as he dusted the rubble from the elderly man’s jacket. He had already taken off the bigger pieces and was now working on the stubborn smaller ones that refused to dislodge from the cloth.
Ignoring the voice that tried to get his attention, Peter focused on the still form of the elderly man. Alan, according to the licence Peter had found in his wallet. Alan who wasn’t breathing, his eyes having long turned glassy and vacant.
“Peter,” another voice, different and softer but thick with heavy emotion that Peter could feel it creeping along his skin. “Peter, he is gone. You need to move away now.”
“No,” Peter said firmly. He couldn’t just leave Alan on the ground, surrounded by the carnage they had created and all alone just because Wanda told him to. It was his fault that Alan was no longer breathing because he hadn’t been fast enough.
White hot anger flared through Peter, making his hand curl into a fist on the ground where he balanced himself over Alan.
“Kid, we have to go,” Tony said quietly.
Peter whirled around, feeling the eyes of the suit narrow along with his as he glared at Tony. “This is all your fault,” he hissed.
Tony reared back, face pale and confused. “Kid?”
“He’s dead and it’s because of me and you want me to go?” Peter snapped. He glared at the Avengers who were congregating around him. “He’s dead! How many more are dead because of us?”
“Kid-“ Tony tried to soothe but Peter cut him off.
“I’m not leaving him,” Peter yelled. “He died because of me. Because of you. How can you just walk away?”
Tony’s jaw clenched and he sucked in a deep breath through his nose. “We aren’t walking away, Kid. We have a job to do and yeah, we can’t save everyone and no, it’s not easy.”
“Leave me alone,” Peter said, turning away.
“Peter, we have to go,” Natasha said. “This man will be cared for with the respect he deserves.”
Peter heard the wail of the sirens and he sniffed. From the lining of his suit he withdrew his sharpie pen and a piece of paper and quickly scribbled a note. He left it on Alan’s chest and without looking at the Avengers he webbed away from the as fast as he could.
Tony sighed, hanging his head. The first loss was always the hardest and he wasn’t sure how Peter would react. He had tried to prepare for this moment, feeling sick as he did because this shouldn’t have been an eventuality, but he still felt widely out of his depth.
“Tony,” Natasha warned.
Tony lifted his head and looked at the note Peter had written.
I’m so sorry – Spiderman.
Tony’s heart sunk in his chest and he felt as if he had aged a hundred years in the blink of an eye.
“Are you heading out to patrol?” May asked as Peter strode through the living room to the door, backpack thrown over one shoulder.
“No, I’m going to Ned’s,” Peter said. “There’s a new Lego project we are working on.”
“Oh,” May said, surprised. “Oh, well have fun. Are you still going to Tony’s tomorrow?”
“No,” Peter shook his head. “He’s-uh-he’s busy.”
“We could do dinner tomorrow night then,” May said brightly. “How about Thai?”
“Sounds good,” Peter smiled softly. “Bye Aunt May. See you tomorrow.”
“Bye,” Aunt May said to a closing door and she sighed when it clicked shut. “That boy isn’t telling me something.” She clicked her tongue and moved to her phone.
“Dude, Captain America is standing in my door way,” Ned gushed, staring wide eyed at Steve Rogers.
“Hello,” Steve greeted with a semi awkward smile.
“Dude, Captain America is standing in my door way,” Ned repeated.
“Yeah, Ned. I can see that,” Peter said.
“Why is he here?” Ned asked. “Is it my birthday?”
“It’s not your birthday,” Peter said. “Why are you giving my friend a mini heart attack? How do you even know where Ned lives?”
“We know about your guy in the chair,” Steve nodded at Ned.
“He knows I’m your guy in the chair,” Ned gasped.
“Ned, do you mind if I talk to Peter for a moment?” Steve asked.
“Dude, he knows my name!” Ned said to Peter.
Peter patted his shoulder. “Ned, can you give us a second?”
“Yeah, no worries,” Ned said, standing up. He edged around the room, staring at Steve until he was out of the room, shutting the door with a quiet click.
“Mind if I sit?” Steve asked.
“Go ahead,” Peter said, indicating to Ned’s computer chair.
Steve did so, placing his hands on his thighs and sighed. “You’ve haven’t been patrolling.”
“How come?” Steve asked.
“Queens deserves someone better than me,” Peter said, looking at his lap.
“Why do you say that?” Steve asked patiently.
“Because I wasn’t good enough,” Peter shrugged his shoulder. “Tony told me to be better and I wasn’t. He died because of me.”
“We can’t save everyone, Peter,” Steve said softly. He sighed and leant back in his chair. “I wish I could tell you it gets easier but it doesn’t. The choices we have to make are impossible and we will lose people but we can’t save everyone. You’re doing an amazing job, Peter. Especially at your age.”
Peter shook his head. “I have to be better.”
“Peter-“ Steve begun.
“You don’t understand,” Peter interrupted. “I have to be better. I could have saved them both.”
Steve frowned. “Saved them both?”
Peter nodded. “I chose to save Tony first.”
Steve shook his head. “I don’t understand.”
“There was a critter going for Tony and the building was collapsing on the man. Karen did the calculations. While Tony most likely would have survived...,” Peter sniffed. “I didn’t want to take that chance. I chose Tony over Alan.”
“Does Tony know?” Steve asked.
“I don’t know,” Peter said.
“We do things so save the people we love,” Steve said. “They may not seem right in the eyes of others but to us it is. Sometimes those decisions cost us people we love and call family and sometimes is costs us the lives of strangers. We can’t always be right.”
“I was being selfish,” Peter said.
“You were being a fifteen-year-old kid with an impossible choice,” Steve corrected firmly. “You’re not the only one whose going through this.”
Peter finally looked up.
“We all lost someone,” Steve said. “And we will all lose someone again but we don’t give up. We keep fighting to save the ones we can.”
Silence filled the room as Peter mulled over the Captains words.
“Could you tell Ned I’ll see him tomorrow?” Peter asked.
Steve smiled. “Yeah, I’ll let him know.”
“Tony,” Pepper called softly. “You should come to bed now.”
Taking a long sip from his drink Tony smacked his lips. “Maybe later.”
“No, I think now is a good time,” Pepper said firmly.
At her tone Tony gently placed his drink on the kitchen counter and licked his lips. “Pep?”
“Come to bed,” Pepper repeated and without waiting for him she headed for the bedroom.
Taking one last look at his glass, Tony reluctantly followed his fiancés path to the bedroom. He took his time, his heart heavy in his chest. He walked into the room and frowned when he saw Pepper simply standing by the edge of the bed.
“Shhh,” Pepper scolded quietly. She smiled and jerked her head to bed.
Following her gaze, Tony heart stopped for a beat before picking up. There, tangled in the sheets, curls a mess and lips parted ever so slightly was Peter.
In his bed.
“Good thing I sprung for the big bed,” Tony snorted quietly. “How long has he been here?”
Pepper shrugged. “I was about to get ready for bed and he was already asleep.”
“Okay,” Tony nodded. “Okay, let’s get ready for bed then.”
Moving quietly, the two quickly changed, brushed their teeth and navigated getting into bed. Tony slipped in first, Pepper climbing in afterwards.
FRIDAY killed the lights, plunging them into darkness.
“Why are you so…clenched?” Pepper voice whispered through the darkness.
“I’m not clenched,” Tony huffed. “I’m trying not to crush the kid.”
“Then cuddle him and relax,” Pepper said.
Tony froze even further.
“It’s clearly what he’s after otherwise he wouldn’t be in our bed,” Pepper said. “So, hurry up and relax because I think we are both going to need our rest for tomorrow.”
Huffing at his bossy (but clearly right) fiancé Tony scooped the kid into his arms, manoeuvring them both until they were comfortable.
“Dad?” Peter mumbled groggily.
“Shhhh, go back to sleep, kid,” Tony whispered, kissing the top of his curls.
“M’ sorry,” Peter yawned.
“Me too,” Tony murmured. “We can talk in the morning.”
Peter’s soft snored filled the room and Pepper curled into his other side.
Tony closed his eyes and hugged his family close.