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Always Done What You Say

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Chapter 1

Tony wandered what is it about New York that seemed to attract an attack – an invasion, an experimentation gone wrong – that happened every couple of months. Perhaps Vision was right – their very strength invites a challenge.

It wasn’t any different this time – the siren had blared and the Avengers had assembled only for them to realise that there were giant alien species here.

Cap had called in Ant-Man and activated the Hulk and Tony… Well, Tony had called in Spider-Man.

“On my way, Mr. Stark,” the kid had answered. “I’m around the corner, just finished a movie with May…”

He made a mental note to apologise to May later for calling in her nephew when he had previously assured her that unless it was absolutely necessary, he would not call Spider-Man to deal with anything major. The consensus was that until he turned eighteen, Spider-Man belonged in the little leagues back in Queens.

But since this was all hands on deck kind of situation, the Avengers needed all the help they could get.

“FRIDAY, remind me to speak to May about this.”

So far, the destruction had been contained within a six block radius and there was only one remaining alien left for them to handle. All in all, Tony thought it wasn’t so bad until the thing opened its mouth and let out some kind of electromagnetic wave that frizzled out the system in Iron Man’s suit. He plunged down from the air, all the while knocking his helmet to try and get the system back online, but he was still falling. He flailed, trying to right himself and the ground seemed closer now. And he was sure he would crash before FRIDAY could activate the thruster until he felt a sharp tug around his midsection.

He let out a breath the moment Spider-Man came into his field of vision.

“I got you,” Spider-Man said and set him down on the roof. “Are you okay, Mr. Stark?”

“S-Sir,” FRIDAY’s voice filled the space in the suit.

“Ugly there isn’t allowed to open its mouth again, kid, can you make sure of that?” he muttered.

Once Iron Man was up, spiraling into the air again, Spider-Man had already webbed the thing’s mouth shut and was animatedly talking through their linked comm about a show that mostly none of the rest of them understood.

“Tony, we talked about this,” he heard Rhodey complained. “You gotta teach the kid to focus.”

“At least one of us is having fun,” Scott remarked as he was flung through the air.

“I’m serious, guys, it’s like a vampire but…. alien, obviously. Hey, maybe, they have their own kind of vampire alien up there!”

He tried to give it a minute because from experience, when Peter Parker started referencing a show or a movie, he tended to come up with some pretty amazing ideas. Then it clicked as Peter shot a web right to Ugly’s neck and started spinning around it.

“Spidey’s got a point. Go to my left, Rhodey,” Tony instructed. “Clear out, Parker. Hulk … Hulk, you’re getting this?”

He heard a roar and a flash of green as Hulk made the leap from where he was perched and landed on the back of Ugly, pulling its head back to give Tony and Rhodey clear shot to its throat. They pointed their lasers, slicing cleanly through the alien’s head.

It was pretty graphic and he sure as hell hoped no children out there would be watching the news this evening.

“Yes!” Peter whooped. “That’s amazing!”

“Great work, kid,” he said.

“Alright, let’s wrap it up. Back to the Quinjet for debrief,” Cap announced.

Natasha’s voice cut through their line, “Not yet, we’ve got casualties.”

They haven’t had any casualties since the last three attacks. Granted the last three had not seen the big bad like today but they had gotten good had pushing civilians back and evacuating them.

So much for keeping a clean sheet, Tony sighed.

He surveyed the ground, saw Cap running down the street towards where Nat said she was and Spider-Man scaling down the building he was on to get to the streets.

“Kid, if you’re not too winded, help Cap,” he directed, taking a jibe at their youngest team member and smirked when a petulant ‘of course I’m not’ came back at him. “Nat, they’ve got it. You need to go for Banner and bring him back.”

The Iron Man suit flew towards where the emergency medical team was waiting.

“Status,” Tony requested over the comm. He needed the information to relay to the responders and incase more medical team is required. “What’s the status? How many injured?”

“May?” Peter’s voice cackled over the line. “Oh my god, May? Please… Don’t – “

Tony came to an abrupt halt – his boots hitting the asphalt with a loud thud. The sheer panic on Peter’s voice was difficult to miss. It was the voice of someone facing their worst nightmare.

“Parker?” Tony called out. “What’s happening, kid? Talk to me.”

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 2

“Kid?”

He struggled to keep his voice calm, no sense escalating the situation, even when Peter had failed to answer him.

“Standby,” he informed the medical responders on scene, engaging his thrusters and hovering a few feet off the ground. “There are casualties.”

With that, he shot off, flying towards where Natasha had identified her location earlier before Tony sent her off after the Hulk. The kid was there, on his knees, clutching a hand so tightly. On his viewfinder, the image of a familiar bracelet was magnified – a bracelet that Pepper had helped the kid picked out for May’s birthday two months before Squidward & Co paid a visit, two months before Thanos. With everything that had happened – losing Peter and half of the universe, and bringing them back – that felt like a lifetime ago.

May had never taken the bracelet off, especially after she thought Peter was lost to her, and that bracelet on that hand Peter was holding tight right now told Tony all he needed to know.

May was trapped beneath that gigantic, fallen billboard that Steve, Scott and Clint were trying to lift without causing any further damage to those pinned under it.

On his comms, he could hear their grunts and Peter’s pleas.

Tony landed, palms out. He activated heat scanners, identifying four people beneath it.

“Rhodes, four identified,” he informed so the information could be relayed to the medical responders. “Injuries unknown yet…”

Steve glanced up at the sound of his voice and gave Tony a nod, giving him the all clear to cut through the billboard with his lasers.

“One here, here and there,” Tony gestured at his team members.

With that information in mind, Steve lifted and pushed his portion away, allowing Clint to immediately scoop a little boy, his arm stuck at an odd angle, out from under. Tony’s breath hitched, his fingers clenched. The boy was so young and while Tony wasn’t an expert on children, he was sure the kid couldn’t be more than ten.

“Oh God,” Scott heaved, pressing a fist to his mouth.

Tony remembered then. Scott has a young daughter and the image of that boy… It was a parent’s worst nightmare.

There was a woman, face covered with dirt, looking at them with panic in her eyes. She struggled to speak, her legs pinned beneath a scaffold from the billboard.

“My – My baby,” she managed.

“He’s alright,” the words slipped before Tony could stop himself and her eyes fluttered shut, her breathing coming out in short, sharp wheezes. In his ears, Rhodey informed that he had dispatched medical teams over to their location.

From his peripheral vision, Clint was performing CPR – pressing on the boy’s chest and muttering a series of ‘come on, boy’ to himself.

“Okay, kid, you pull her out once I lift this alright?”

Steve’s voice brought him back to the scene in front of him.

He saw Peter nod once and with a grunt, Steve lifted the remaining portion of the billboard. Peter moved into action, reaching his hand under and curling it over her midsection before pulling her out and the howl that escaped his throat was a sound that Tony didn’t think he could ever forget.

By then, the medical units had arrived and Tony was vaguely aware of them pronouncing the boy dead despite Clint’s effort to save the child. The boy’s mother was loaded on a stretcher and quickly whisked away towards a waiting ambulance.

“Get me out of this, F.R.I.D.A.Y.,” Tony commanded. “Now.”

Once freed from his suit, he dropped on his knees next to Peter, two fingers pressing the side of May’s neck trying to find a pulse.

Please, please, he thought feverishly.

He felt it, faint and weak, but still there.

“She’s alive, kid,” Tony reported with a hand on Peter’s shoulder to … comfort him, provide him some strength… He didn’t know. There was no protocol for this that he could fall back on. “She’ll be alright.”

“Tony,” Clint called for his attention, nodding to the team of paramedics rushing towards them before directly addressing Peter. “Kid, you gotta let them take your aunt now, okay? People will start to make connections between Peter Parker and Spiderman if you don’t let your aunt go. Spiderman wouldn’t be this visibly upset about – “

That was cold. Even if Clint had a point, that was still cold.

“I don’t care,” Peter shot back, trying to hide the sniffles but they could still hear him inhale a shaky breath through their comms. “She’s – May’s – Look at her – oh God.”

How did she end up here in the first place?

Tony looked up briefly, wondering for a second if the electromagnetic wave that had disrupted his suit which he also assume must have toppled the billboard could have travelled this far out of the perimeter they had set up. There were civilians here – May, the boy and his mother – just on the fringes. They didn’t do enough.

He didn’t do enough. He had called on Spiderman. The kid’s phone had alerted him to Peter’s location – three minutes away from where the attack was taking place – and he had activated the kid. Of course May wouldn’t have gone home. Of course she would have stayed around, nearby, especially since her nephew was in the fight.

He should have never –

“Sir,” one of the paramedics jostled him slightly to get to May.

“We’re taking her upstate,” Tony announced, forcing his attention back on his young protégé and his aunt. “F.R.I.D.A.Y, alert the medical team at the compound. Run scans once we’re in the jet and send it to them.”

The medical teams on standby at the Headquarters had treated some of the worst injuries the Avengers sustained and it would be far better to have May close by for Peter’s sake. Clint managed to haul Peter up, holding him firmly by the shoulders to keep him upright and steady, moving him towards where Nat had flown the jet down. Bruce was there and he took one look at the unconscious woman being wheeled in before his gaze snapped to Spiderman.

Clint sat the kid down and the moment the jet took off, Peter’s fingers grappled the seam of his mask and pulled it off, revealing a horror-stricken, paled face teenager. He inched forward to take May’s hand into his own, holding on to her like a life-line.

“Scan complete,” F.R.I.D.A.Y announced into his personal channel.

“Report,” Tony requested as he watched Bruce administer a shot on May’s arm causing her entire body to slacken a minute later.

“Survival odds – 34%,” F.R.I.D.A.Y reported. It took all of his effort to school his features, to not let the sudden jolt in his heart or the sinking feeling in his stomach play across his face. “Spinal fracture detected. Cerebral hematoma noted. Broken ribs identified. Lungs are punctured. Comminuted humerus fracture of the right arm. Multiple contusions and abrasions.”

Tony reached out, holding on to the hand rail above him to collect himself. His gaze flickered to Peter sitting with his head bowed as if in a silent prayer, May’s hands held between his own, all the while unaware of his aunt’s chances.

“Do you think she’s in pain?”

Peter’s voice was small and worried. Gone was the abundance of energy and enthusiasm that usually accompanied his words.

Tony clasped his shoulder, squeezing it gently. His mind ran a mile a minute trying to think of something comforting to say, anything at all that could ease Peter’s worries but the words were stuck in his throat.

“We’re two minutes out,” Natasha announced.

 

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 3

The familiar soft hum of the Quinjet's engine as it made the descend down into the Compound usually filled Tony with relief – another mission in which he made it back alive to Pepper, another mission where the Avengers saw through together – but not today.

Today was filled with gnawing impatience for Nat to quickly land the jet so they could get May the medical assistance she desperately needed. Peter seemed to be oblivious to it all, his attention focused solely on his unconscious aunt.

Once the hatched was lowered, medical personnel flooded the jet, unintentionally pushing Peter out of the way. His face crumpled in anguish, looking helplessly towards May. Tony's hand fluttered to the nape of Peter's neck, squeezing it gently to let the kid know that he was there, that he wouldn't let Peter go through this alone.

They watched Bruce, a hand gripping the metal bar of the stretcher as he jogged next to it, giving updates and instructions.

"Come on," Tony said, guiding the kid towards the med bay with a hand between his shoulder blades. "One foot forward, that's it," he murmured softly when Peter stumble in his haste to follow.

Through gritted teeth, Peter said his first words since they arrived at the Compound, "it's not fair."

His fist was clenched at his side, his eyes watered but it was clear he was fighting to hold back the tears.

"It's not fair what happened to her," he repeated, dropping heavily on one of the arm chairs in the waiting room.

It wasn't, Tony agreed.

May Parker had survived Thanos' genocide. She, without any enhanced powers or armour had insisted on being at the Compound to assist them in any way she can against their fight with Thanos – to avenge Peter. She didn't possess genius-level intellect or superhuman strength but she had been a pillar of support even in her own grief.

She had been there when Natasha worked herself to exhaustion training and training and training; she had been there to support Clint into the Compound when he stumbled in, face streaked with black soot after losing his children and wife. She had once chewed Steve's ears off when he pushed Tony too hard and from then on, had won the respect of America's most hailed hero. She had mourned the loss of Peter with Tony, shared anecdotes of Peter's life to remind themselves of what they were fighting for. She had been firm with Tony when he faltered and on particularly bad days, she had allowed Pepper to give her strength to get up and face the day.

She had made her presence very difficult to miss and this tragedy was difficult to swallow for each of them as it was for Peter.

Peter and May was supposed to lead the rest of their lives together. She was supposed to see her kid graduate high school and into college. Then something banal like a falling billboard had happened… It was just so senseless.

It wasn't fair. It really wasn't, and Tony agreed wholeheartedly.

Just outside the med bay, at the waiting room, the rest of the team lingered, all unwilling to leave Peter alone. As much as Tony appreciated their presence, a part of him wished they would give Peter and him some privacy. He knew the boy was holding himself together by the seams, pushing the fear and the anxiety in, so he wouldn't break in front of the team.

Tony did the only thing that he could in case something of that nature were to happen. He remained closed by, keeping an eye on Peter and another on the door, half expecting either Bruce or one of their doctors to walk in with news.

The hours stretched until something orange and glowing caught his attention from the corner of his eyes. He turned sharply to see Stephen Strange stepping out of a portal.

"Watch him," he nodded to Peter as he hurried past Nat out of the waiting room and into the hallway.

"Dr. Strange," Tony called out.

"Tony," the man bowed his head slightly in greeting. "Where is Peter? How is your ward holding up?"

"He's in there," Tony thumbed over his shoulder. "He's tough but that's his aunt, you know? Who called?"

"Dr. Banner did. I would love to sit around and chat but – "

"Yeah," Tony moved back, showing Strange the way to where May was being treated. "Right through that door… And Stephen, do your best, please."

Tony heaved a breath, pinching the bridge of his nose. F.R.I.D.A.Y had reported head injury and spinal fracture, so it made sense that Bruce would have called a known neurosurgeon in. Strange's presence was just making him jittery because Tony was still in the dark about May's condition, wondering if there were any progress or if she was still unconscious and if the medical team had managed to fix anything at, and God knows Tony hated anything he couldn't compute.

You do know, a quiet voice in his head that strangely after all these years still sounded like J.A.R.V.I.S said, 34%.

Chapter Text

 

Chapter 4

The hours stretched, long and arduous, broken intermittently by an Avenger getting up to refill coffee or pass Peter a can of soda.

"Here," Nat stood in front of them, holding out two plates of sandwiches. "You have to eat something – both of you."

Tony turned from where he had been standing in front of the glass window, staring in the direction of the medical bay. His stomach grumbled, reminding him painfully that the last meal he had was for breakfast this morning just a few hours before the attack occurred.

"Not hungry," Peter muttered as he paced the floor anxiously. "Thanks, Nat," he added because his aunt had raised him with impeccable manners.

Exchanging a look with Nat, Tony took the plates from her with a quiet thank you and set it down on the table to his left.

As Peter walked in front of him for the umpteenth time in the last hour, he grabbed the kid's elbow gently, stopping him from wearing the carpet thin.

"Hey, Pete, you gotta eat something, alright? Your body can't keep this up."

"I can't, Mr. Stark," he raised his gaze to meet his mentor's. "I'm too – You have them."

He wound his hands together, trying to find the right words.

Tony rubbed his forehead, swallowing the sigh threatening to escape his lips. He wasn't equipped to deal with this. His responsibility centered around making sure Peter remained safe and alive each time he put on the Spider-Man suit while occasionally helping the kid with his physics homework or telling him all about MIT in the hopes the that the kid would be interested and allowing him to work on his web shooters down in the workshop. May's job was to deal with the others … the rest that made Peter, well… Peter.

But May was comatose in another room and he was the only other adult to really ever know Peter so the burden fell on him.

"I know, kid," Tony maneuvered him back to the sofa he had vacated. "I don't think I can keep anything down but we got to try. I'm worried about her too, buddy. Can you just have a sandwich at least – you'll hurt Nat's feelings."

Peter turned his head, fixing Tony with a look. Then something inside him deflate, as if he had only just realised that May and Tony had gone through something harrowing together – shared the same loss and grief – when he was taken into the soul world and wiped out momentarily from this earth.

With a weariness that Tony hated seeing on the usually energetic kid, Peter took a sandwich from his plate, wrinkling his nose slightly when he realised it was tuna. Still, he was a good kid and made no complains, munching on the food slowly.

"What – uh – what movie did you and May caught earlier today?" Tony asked, thinking that if he could get the kid to talk it might distract him just enough to eat without the worry hanging over his head.

Peter blinked.

"Solo; A Star Wars Story," he answered after a beat. "You know the new Star Wars movie I was telling you about?"

"Of course, yes," Tony nodded. "Was it any good? You liked it?"

"It wasn't bad, I enjoyed it. Didn't think May did though," Peter laughed lightly.

"Still, it was cool of her to catch that movie with you when she's not that big of a Star – oh shit, was it something I said, kid?"

He watched in mild panic as Peter abruptly pulled his gaze away to stare at his shoes, his lips trembling. He knew he wasn't cut out for this. He was bound to say something wrong and he did, and couldn't even offer the kid the kind of emotional support he needed because God knows how well Tony Stark fared in matters concerning the heart.

"No, no, sorry, Mr. Stark," the teenager took in a shaky breath. "It's just – What if that's the last movie she'll ever watch with me? I – I can't stop thinking – What if she's never going to be able to just do things with me again?"

"Nothing to apologise for," Tony said with a calming, apologetic hand on Peter's back. "My fault. I shouldn't have said that. Put thoughts in your head."

Peter leaned back in his seat, his empty plate discarded next to him.

He pulled out his phone and with a glance towards Tony, he explained, "I should text Ned. Tell him what happened. He probably saw the news of the attack and I haven't check in yet. He – He always makes me check in," Peter explained. Tony didn't tell him that it was something that he had personally asked Peter's guy in the chair to do – to come up with a system where Peter would drop a text to say he was fine at the end of his patrol every night. "He – He'd want to know."

"Of course," Tony nodded.

The sunlight dwindled away and with the darkness forming a blanket around them, Steve moved away from the window to settle on one of the sofas, his arms crossed with his head resting on the back of it, his posture a stark contrast to Peter's hunch. The exhaustion was already creeping in and without being asked, F.R.I.D.A.Y dimmed the lights slightly in the waiting room.

The television was on but the volume kept low. Clint sat in front of it, watching the reported news of the attack. Nat next to him, brows furrowed.

"How – How long has it been?" Peter asked.

"F.R.I.D.A.Y…?" Tony prompted.

"Four hours and thirteen minutes, Mr. Parker," F.R.I.D.A.Y answered.

Tony would have suggested that Peter retired to his room and he would have promised the kid to get him as soon as there was any news but he knew that would be futile. Peter would sit there until the next morning if that was what it took and Tony would be right there along with him.

He clenched and unclenched his fingers, trying to ease the ache in his left wrist. He was tired and he was beginning to feel it.

He must have nodded off without meaning to because when his eyes fluttered open, it was to the sound of quiet sniffles coming from next to him. He let his gaze wandered to Peter to see him with his back hunched and head bowed.

Had he waited until most of them had drifting off before he broke down?

The kid was too tough for his own good.

Tony sighed, pushing himself up to a sitting position. He put an arm around the kid's shoulder without saying a word. He didn't think Peter would want him to say anything and it was evident from the way he roughly wiped the tears away as if he was angry that Tony caught him in this moment of weakness, not that Tony would ever think it was weak. Peter wouldn't know that in his desperate need to constantly prove himself.

"I'm okay, Mr. Stark," Peter hiccupped.

But Tony kept his arm firmly around him.

"It's alright, Peter," Tony said. "Look, kid, you don't – you don't have to be strong all the time. Let the rest of us do that for you today."

Peter leaned back in his seat, staring at his fingers as he picked on the loose thread of his shirt, an old shirt from Tony's wardrobe that he had given him earlier when it was clear that they were going to be there for a while and Peter needed to be in something other than his Spider-Man suit.

"I can't lose her, Mr. Stark," he whispered so quietly Tony had to strain his ears to catch it. "And I'm afraid I might. She didn't look too good."

Chapter Text

Chapter 5

Tony touched his left wrist, rotating it in circles as he was prone to do when he was faced with something he felt inept to deal with.

He could be charming and talk his way out of a situation. Easy. But this – dealing with feelings made him feel as if he was floundering. All his life, he had learnt to suppress it, to simply not address it because people either fell asleep on him or couldn't understand that a billionaire, despite all the money in his pocket, could still struggle emotionally.

But he didn't want that for Peter. He wanted Peter to grow into a wholesome individual. He wanted Peter to be able to go to May to talk about anything and everything without fear of judgment or to him, if there was something he couldn't discuss with May about.

That was only possible if Tony try, now.

He tried to think of something to say, something helpful, something that could ease Peter's worry but nothing came to mind.

What do you say to a boy who had lost his parents at a young? A boy who saw his Uncle Ben died in front of him? And now, his only living relative was fighting for her life.

Like he said earlier, it wasn't fair. Peter deserved none of this and yet, life kept throwing curveballs his way.

"Peter -" Tony started.

"I – I don't know what I'd do without her, Mr. Stark," he admitted, his fingers running in an agitated manner through the curls in his hair. "I don't know what'll happen to me."

This was easy. Tony could give Peter an answer to this half awake because when it came to keeping Peter safe, his conviction would never waver.

"I'll never let anything happen to you, kid," Tony patted his knee. "You gotta trust me on that."

"I – Thank you," Peter mumbled.

"Listen, Stephen and Bruce… They'll do whatever is required to save her, alright? She'll be - "

Tony stopped, swallowing the lump in his throat.

He would never lie to the kid. He wouldn't patronize him that way. Peter was too smart and he cared too much about the kid to treat him that way.

F.R.I.D.A.Y's report echoed in his mind – survival odds: 34%

"Kid," he adjusted himself, bending his knee at an angle on the sofa so he could face Peter. He had kept it long enough. "There's something in F.R.I.D.A.Y's analysis that – "

The door slid open, pulling their attention away from each other. Bruce walked in quietly, holding his glasses tightly between two fingers. He looked exhausted. Stephen brought up the rear with his cloak floating loyally behind him, looking a little out of place in the Compound.

Peter jumped to his feet, crossing the distance with two large strides to get to the doctor.

"Dr. Banner," Peter stopped in front of the man. "Dr. Strange, sir. Is she okay? Is May awake?

Bruce's gaze briefly flickered to Tony before looking at Peter again. He gave him a tight smile.

"There was – is – some swelling in her brain," Bruce touched Peter's arm gently, as if to comfort him. Tony had spent enough time with Bruce over the years to know when he was carefully choosing his words. He tended to shift his weight from one foot to another unconsciously. "She's… stable, Peter."

Peter didn't know the signs, though. Sure, he hung out with the Avengers post-Thanos every other weekend but he didn't spend enough time to read the signs. So when Peter let out a relieved breath, Tony was still standing behind him, tensed.

Stable meant that there was no improvement.

Survival odds: 34%

XxX

"Give it to me straight, Bruce," Tony said, keeping his voice low.

On the sofa, Peter had finally given in to the exhaustion, twitching in his sleep. Tony was inclined to let him catch a few hours of sleep.

Bruce accepted the coffee that Tony handed him a grateful nod, downing it in two gulps. He placed the empty cup in the sink before turning around to face the other man. Stephen Strange stood stiffly at the corner of the kitchen, arms crossed as he watched the two men.

"She's suffered two cardiac arrests. We managed to bring her back each time but it's not – it's not looking good. Her blood pressure fluctuates every now and then. I – I don't think her body can take it," Bruce admitted, looking away. "And we haven't even gone into the spinal fracture which might likely leave her paralysed when she wakes up from this – if she wakes up."

"Oh God," Tony ran a hand down his face, trying to take in the news. "F.R.I.D.A.Y reported survival odds at 34% back in the hovercraft, Bruce."

Bruce blinked, staring at him in surprise.

"We can only speculate the damage the subdural hematoma has done," Stephen piped in. "About 50% of patients suffer long term neurological problems. I am afraid that we would not be able to know for sure until – "

"Until she wakes up," Tony finished.

"Yes," nodded the sorcerer. "We have done surgical drainage to relieve the pressure on her brain. All we can do now is to monitor. This next 24 hours is critical."

"We are doing everything we can, Tony, to ensure that she is not in much pain."

Tony nodded wearily as he muttered a grateful thank you in their direction. He felt as if he had aged ten years during the past several hours.

"What will you tell him?"

He heard Bruce speaking but it sounded disenchanted.

"Tony?" Bruce called out.

"I – I don't know," he admitted because he hadn't thought that far. His head is filled with all the medical information Bruce and Stephen had just told him about May.

"If I may make a suggestion…? The truth while painful is still the only way, Tony," Stephen added and Tony is trying really hard to focus on what the man was saying. "To do otherwise will be detrimental. May Parker is his blood relative. He deserves to know – "

"I know," Tony answered, gritting his teeth.

He wished they would go away. He needed to think. His gaze strayed towards Peter at the adjoining room, still knocked out.

"- should he need to make the necessary decision."

"What?" Tony's head snapped up at that, glaring at Stephen. "Decision?"

They looked at each other before Stephen glanced briefly towards Bruce.

Tony was trying to think back to the conversations, if he had missed a vital piece of information.

"Tony," Bruce said carefully and patiently, removing his glasses. "May sustained terrible head trauma. She is on a ventilator. We are hoping for this to be temporary while she's comatose, to assist her in breathing as she heals, but if she doesn't wake up…. If she's not able to breathe on her own again…"

He stared at the small tremors now starting to be visible in his left hand. Tony covered it with his right hastily.

"But she could, right? Wake up and breathe… It's all a big 'if' right now."

"Yes," Bruce agreed. "We have to think of all the ways this could play out but I do agree with Stephen. Transparency is best. You should tell Peter the truth so he knows how dire the situation is and if it goes downhill, he will be prepared."

"Yeah, yeah, of course," Tony muttered.

"Another thing," Stephen added, "it might be best as well that you apply for temporary guardianship for young Peter. If Mrs. Parker recovers from this -"

"When she recovers," Tony interrupted.

"When she recovers," Stephen amended without so much as a snarky comment, "the road to recovery will be a long and arduous process. Peter Parker cannot and should not be left on his own."

"He's not alone. He's got us."

Tony gestured vaguely at the Avenger's in various positions at the waiting room with Peter.

But once again, Stephen had a point and the very thought that Peter might even need guardianship other than his aunt was making his throat constrict. He cared about the kid but he had never thought he would need to step up like this – not that he minded because he would do anything for him but he just wished the circumstances had been different.

"He trusts you more than anyone else," Bruce spoke.

He knew that.

But right now, his anxiety was off the charts – there was a heavy pressure on his chest, a paralyzing dread had begun to creep up from his stomach towards his throat and oh god, not again.

He grappled the edge of the kitchen counter, could hear Bruce talking to him and then slowly feel the warmth of his friend's hand on his back.

"Breathe, Tony, in and out – just follow my voice."

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 6

Tony popped his head in, surveying the room.

Peter’s allocated room in the Avenger’s compound was empty. The bed remained untouched since he had fallen asleep on the sofa in the waiting area, there was a bag pack on the floor from where Happy must have left it when Tony sent him to Peter’s apartment to get the kid new change of clothes but the water in the shower was running.

Tony stepped in and took a seat on the chair by the study table, scrolling through the messages on his phone that he had neglected as he waited for the kid. Peter stepped out of the shower about a minute later, his curls wet and matted to his forehead.

“Hey, Pete,” he smiled.

“Hi, Mr. Stark,” Peter said, his hands twisting and rolling the damp towel. “Any word from the medical wing yet? Is May allowed visitors already? Can we go?”

“In a while,” Tony said. “There’s something I gotta talk to you about, kid. Do it over breakfast?”

He stood up, gesturing towards the door. Peter remained, a contemplative look settled over his face.

“Maybe we should talk first,” he suggested. “I – uh – I don’t think I’ll be able to have breakfast if it’s gonna be anything – “

He waved his hand vaguely, unable to complete his sentence but Tony understood.

“Sure,” he clasped the kid’s shoulder in a reassuring manner before settling back on the chair he just vacated.

Peter sat at the edge of his bed, hands clasped anxiously together and the scene was so achingly familiar that Tony had to blink the memory of their first meeting in Queen’s away.

“I had a – I had a chat with Bruce and Stephen. Yesterday night. Got the full report,” Tony began. He rubbed the back of his neck uncomfortably, the gears in his mind turning a mile a minute as he tried to work this out as best as he could, as gently as he could for Peter’s sake. “We know May’s stable at the moment but she’s sustained terrible injuries. No sugar coating it, Pete. Her injuries are serious.”

The kid was listening to him with rapt attention.

“Her spine’s fracture,” Tony traced his finger on the back of his own spine to show Peter the site of the injury. “Several other broken bones in her ribs and arm, she’s got severe head injury – swelling and bleeding in the brain,” Tony went on. “And she’s not… Not breathing on her own, which I know, sounds alarming but – but it happens when patients are in a coma. Bruce is saying that she might breathe on her own again when she wakes up.”

Peter took in a shuddering breath, his gaze flitting from his hands in his lap to Tony.

“She might also not breathe again,” Peter said. “I heard, Mr. Stark.”

“I’m sorry?”

Peter raised his head.

“I heard you talking to Dr. Banner and Dr. Strange,” he explained, tapping his right ear. “Enhanced. I was asleep, I really was but I – I heard voices. I thought I was dreaming but I wasn’t, and I heard you talking to them about May. I didn’t – I didn’t mean to eavesdrop, Mr. Stark, but it’s May. It’s about May and I had to know.”

The first thing Tony realised was that Peter, who was prone to apologise for the smallest and littlest of things, did not apologise for this. A part of him was proud. It was something that Peter needed to learn, something Tony had been trying to teach him, that there are things he didn’t have to apologise for.

“It’s fine, kid, it’s alright. We’ll let it pass this time. You heard everything?”

He shook his head. “Don’t think so. Only the tail end, I guess. Dr. Strange – he wants you to prepare me in case something bad happens.”

“Yeah, that’s what he thinks I should be doing. You deserve the truth, underoos, and I want to make sure you have them. We – “

Tony broke off, wondering now if Peter had heard the part where Stephen had suggested he took up interim guardianship…. Was it something they should talk about now or should he let it rest? Peter had too much on his plate as it is.

“She’s gonna be okay,” Peter jumped in with a note of finality. “You’ll see. She’s going to open her eyes, she’s going to breathe and she’s going to talk my ear off about missing school.”

Tony blinked.

School.

School was still in session. Sure it would be term break in two weeks’ time but he was still supposed to be at school and Tony sure as hell had not informed his school the reason for his absence. May would have known to do this, he sighed.

Peter stood up abruptly.

“We should get breakfast. Then we’ll see May,” he said.

Tony wanted to hold him back. There was still something he needed to talk about – like the fact that Peter shouldn’t use that obvious denial as a cloak to shield himself against the painful truth.

But he let the kid go, closing the door behind him as they both left Peter’s room. Tony was quite aware that he was not in control of the situation when he should be. He spent half his time worrying about how Peter would react to whatever news Tony brought to him.

XxX

Peter stood frozen by the doorway.

Tony hovered behind him, torn between wanting to give the boy space and giving him the strength he needed. In the end, Peter made the decision for him. He glanced behind his shoulder at Tony and that pair of brown eyes searching helplessly for him was his undoing.

“You’re alright,” Tony said quietly, placing a hand between the kid’s shoulder blades as he nudged him forward.

The teenager took a step forward and that was when Tony noticed the way his fingers bend inwards towards his wrist, tapping the place where his web shooters cartridge would be. Peter tended to do that unconsciously when he was anxious or nervous.

“Come on in, Peter,” Bruce beckoned, giving him a warm smile.

Tony followed, taking in the sight of May Parker buried beneath the multiple sterile white blankets. She looked small and helpless with the ventilator strapped on her face and multiple tubes and wires running in and out of her hospital gown. Her head was wrapped in a bandage, her right arm was already set in a cast and there were multiple cuts and scrapes all over her body.

Next to him, Peter made a choking noise. He rushed towards his aunt, touching her gingerly as if she might break. He ran his hand from her left fingers up to her arm, his gaze never leaving her face.

“Hi, May,” he managed, his voice thick with emotion. “I’m here with Tony and Dr. Banner. I’m – Can she hear me?”

“Yes, I believe she can. You should talk to her. It helps. Studies of brain scans of a comatose patient show that there are increased activities when hearing the voice of a loved one…” Bruce encouraged.

“So – So you’re saying that she’s aware that I’m here?”

Bruce gave Tony a cursory look before answering, “I don’t know for sure how her consciousness works while she’s in this state but -”

“Hey, Peter’s hot aunt,” Tony chimed in. He wasn’t trying to be rude on purpose but he knew Peter and he would have more questions and the question he didn’t want Peter to be asking is if May was in pain and if she was aware of it.

It worked as a distraction though. Peter sent him a glare, like he often did each time Tony referred to May that way.

“I will be telling Ms. Potts,” Peter muttered darkly.  

Bruce watched them in amusement before excusing himself from the room. Peter settled down on the armchair, his hand still gripping tight May’s own.

“Mr. Stark,” he spoke up. “She looks like she’s just sleeping.”

“Yeah, she does,” Tony agreed, watching May.

“Is it okay if – if I can be alone with her?” Peter asked. “Dr. Banner says I should talk to her and uh – I mean no offense, Mr. Stark but I – you know, maybe if I can talk – “

“Of course, kid,” he interjected the boy’s painful rambling. “Private time – I get it.”

“Yeah.”

“Yeah, so I’ll be down at my workshop. If you need anything – anything – at all, you get F.R.I.D.A.Y to alert me and I’ll come right away. Okay?”

“Okay.”

“I’ll get someone to send lunch over to you when it’s time.”

“Thanks, Mr. Stark,” Peter told him gratefully.

“Sure,” Tony smiled.

With a parting squeeze of Peter’s shoulder, Tony left the room, closing the door quietly behind him.

First things first, he would need to call Midtown High School and hoped his previous generous contributions to their school labs would overshadow the fact that Tony Stark was calling with regards to one Peter Parker.

Chapter Text

Chapter 7

Peter shot up from his bed with both his hands clasped tightly on his ears. The wailing of the siren was loud but with his enhanced hearing, it became terribly unbearable.

"Make it stop, F.R.I.D.A.Y," he gritted his teeth.

"You do not have the authorization, Peter."

"What is this? Where is it coming from?"

"This is the alarm for a medical emergency. The source of the emergency has been identified to stem from the medical wing," F.R.I.D.A.Y informed.

Peter's head snapped up to the ceiling where, strangely, he had assumed the AI was located. Medical wing, Peter blinked as his brain processed the information, where May is right now.

He couldn't explain the sudden coldness he felt or the way his hand flew to the base of his neck as his mind screamed for him to breathe, just breathe. The sleep and exhaustion was gone as the bone chilling fear replaced itself like a poisonous tendril.

Barely realizing what he was even doing, Peter moved, yanking the door to this bedroom open and he sprinted down the hallway, barreling into Tony who had just stepped out of his own room.

He heard Tony called out his name but he didn't stop. He couldn't. There was no time to waste. He was vaguely aware of Nat stepping out of her room, looking down the hallway in confusion, but he darted passed her.

"Peter!"

He ran down hallways and corridors, climbed up stairs and shouted at F.R.I.D.A.Y in the elevator to bring him down to the medical wing without stopping on any other floors.

Faster, faster, faster, he willed and when the elevator doors opened he dashed out.

The tension and chaos was palpable. It was suffocating; the air was heavy and it was pressing down on him. Breathe, he reminded himself harshly.

He saw Bruce by May's bed, holding her down as she thrashed and convulsed. Dr. Strange was there as well, holding a needle, and Peter couldn't watch it. He couldn't see May suffer like that.

"May," he screamed. "Make it stop!"

Bruce turned, their eyes making brief contact before he focused his attention back on May, completely ignoring the teenager shaking in fear by the door. His feet moved by itself – all he wanted to do was to make it stop but he didn't even make it past the door before he felt someone's arms wrapped around him from the back.

His instinct kicked in and he struggled against the grip.

"Calm down, kid," Tony grunted. "Hey, hey, you're stronger than me, alright? I'm no match for you like this so stop struggling. You have to let Bruce do his work – no interference."

"Let me go," Peter snapped. His eye sight was bleary by the tears that had begun to spring to his eyes. "I gotta get to May."

But Tony was relentless and Peter was frustrated. He elbowed the older man in his ribs, strong enough to make Tony slacken his grip but not strong enough to cause any real harm. He tried once more to make it through the door until someone's hand grabbed his arms and tugged, and Peter, unprepared for the strength coming from that person, stumbled backwards.

Steve held him against his chest, his hand on the back of Peter's head as he let the kid let out his frustration and his fear, until eventually out of energy, he leaned his entire weight on Steve.

He felt himself being maneuvered to the waiting area, let down slowly to the sofa and then the hold around him loosened.

Tony replaced Steve, crouching in front of Peter and staring at him, concern and worry etched on the lines creasing his forehead.

"You're okay," he said, resting a palm against Peter's cheeks. The calloused feel of the engineer's hand and the warmth radiating from it seemed to ground Peter back. He took in a shuddering breath as his gaze locked with Tony's. "Are you calm?"

"Y – Yes. I'm sorry, Mr. Stark. I -"

."It's fine," Tony cut him off. "No hard feelings."

"What's happening to her?"

"From the looks of it, seizure," Tony answered. "Might have been from a stroke."

Steve made a guttural noise at the back where he hovered over the pair, as if had it been his way, he would have shielded Peter a little longer from that truth.

"What's that mean? Will she be okay? Is she getting worse?"

"We'll have to wait for what Bruce has got to say. I can't tell you anything about what just happened but – God, kid," he ran a hand down his face and that act, that resignation made Peter pay attention. "This is probably the worst time to tell you but there's something you should know."

"What is it?"

"Tony," Steve warned. "Consider his emotional state before you do anything."

"I got it from here, Steve, thank you."

Peter's eyes widened at that curt dismissal but Steve didn't seem to take offense.

"Call me if you need me," he said before leaving the pair alone.

The room was quiet and a little tense, and Peter waited for Tony to say something but his mentor seemed to be struggling with an inner turmoil.

"I can't believe I just cried on Captain America..." Peter remarked. "Is he going to be – "

"No, kid, he won't look at you at different for that," Tony cracked a smile. "Listen, no changing the topic, it's going to be hard and difficult but we need to have a talk, Peter."

"Okay."

"I know you're expecting a miracle."

"N- Not, really, Mr. Stark. I don't know to believe in it or not," Peter told him bitterly, crossing his arms. "I'm willing to be convinced, if that's what you're trying to do here."

"Not a miracle if you have to be convinced," Tony pointed out. "Sorry – that's beside…" he sighed. "That's not the point."

Peter looked at him. He couldn't explain why the sight of Tony Stark on his knees in front of him trying so hard to hold Peter together by the thread made him feel a lot worse. The emotion bubbled inside of him. The sadness, fear, grief and gratitude all roiled together and his lips trembled.

"I just want her to be better, Mr. Stark? I want her to open her eyes and talk to me. I want to be able to talk to her again."

"I know, kid," Tony nodded. "I want that for you too but her odds are stacked against her, Pete. I should have told you earlier."

Peter frowned, "What are you talking about?"

"Don't think you heard this part of the conversation I had with Bruce and Stephen then," Tony muttered. "Peter, on our way back to the compound, in the jet, F.R.I.D.A.Y made some calculations after scanning her vitals and injuries."

"About May's odds? If May's gonna make it or not?" Peter shot to his feet, rounding up on Tony.

"Yes," Tony answered.

A fire danced behind Peter's brown eyes, he took in the sight of the man he idolized. Tony's jaw was clenched tight, his left hand was closed in a fist and his right rested over his left wrist to keep it steady. His shoulder was tensed and taut, likely preparing himself for Peter's angry outburst the way he did when Peter had confronted him after the State Island Ferry incident, but he couldn't find the energy to be angry.

He was so tired. He just wanted to wake up from this nightmare; wake up to find himself back at his apartment in Queens to May flipping pancakes because it was her day off. They would be sitting across each other on their small but cosy kitchen, catching up on May's work and Peter's school, and his Spider-Man activities.

"You had no right," Peter collapsed on the chair. Too exhausted to argue, he asked, "What are her odds then?"

"It was 34%," Tony answered, taking a seat next to him.

"Can F.R.I.D.A.Y run it again? After that seizure can she run the scans on her again?"

There was a pause, a beat of silence.

"Are you sure?" Tony asked with an unreadable expression on his face.

"Yes," Peter ground out. "Dr. Strange wanted you to have me prepared. So prepare me," he lashed out.

Tony leveled his gaze with Peter, assessing him. Peter crossed his arms, staring at Tony until the older man gave the command to F.R.I.D.A.Y.

Her voice rang out a minute later, loud and swift like an executioner's blade.

"Odds of survival 25%, boss."

Peter choked, his hands clenched on his sides. The noises coming out from his mouth was that of despair and disbelief. He pitched forward and he would have fallen face first from the sofa to the floor if Tony had not moved and caught him. He pressed his face on Tony's stomach, his fingers clutching the back of Tony's shirt.

"She was – She was supposed to get better," he whimpered. "Please, Mr. Stark. You have to fix this. Please, please."

"Peter," Tony's fingers was stroking his hair. "I – This is not something – "

"F.R.I.D.A.Y's wrong," he shook his head, probably wiping snot on Tony's expensive shirt and Peter reeled back in horror at that thought. "Oh my god."

It was so stupid, so irrelevant but his mind latched on that problem – that he had ruined Tony's shirt – instead of May. He lurched forward, grappling to reach the box of tissues and then he pressed them on Tony's shirt.

"I'm sorry. I'm sorry," he muttered, trying to dry the shirt frantically.

Tony caught his wrist.

"Stop. Stop it now," he commanded, harsher than he intended. "Look at me."

Peter did. He looked up, soaked tissues crumpled in his fist.

"She is in pain," a voice said.

They both turned towards the door. Peter peered at the new comer, wiping his hands across his eyes to focus clearly.

"Wanda, when did you arrive?" Tony asked.

Wanda, oh, Peter blinked. What does she mean?

"I came as soon as I saw the news of the attack. Natasha filled me up. I am so sorry, Peter," she came forward, sitting next to him and took his hand in hers.

"How – How do you know?" Peter asked, trying to steady his voice. "About May being in pain. How do you know?"

"I'm a telepath," Wanda answered. "Sometimes it is difficult to block out people's thoughts, especially when they are so loud, and hers is loud. She's not conscious enough to control it."

"You can hear her thoughts?"

"Yes," she cocked her head to the side. "Her memories and her thoughts are all about you."

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 8

Wanda’s sudden, unexpected presence was enough to pull Peter’s attention away from F.R.I.D.A.Y’s analysis. The shocked silence on Peter’s face was also marred by obvious confusion at her remark. Tony gestured for the girl to take seat, aware of Peter’s gaze watching her every move.

“She’s holding on for you.”

Peter’s frown mimicked Tony’s own.

“What’s that mean?” the kid asked.

“Peter, she’s… I know you know this already,” she wrung her hands together before folding them in her lap. “I heard Tony’s machine calculate her odds and it’s … It’s not wrong. I can feel her. Your aunt is dying, Peter. I’m – I’m so sorry.”

She slid from the armchair, kneeling in front of Peter as she enveloped him in a hug. Tony stood over them, watching Peter pressed his eyes on Wanda’s shoulder as his fingers gripped tight the back of her blouse.

After a while, he pulled him away. He stared at the floor; every muscle in his body was taut

“How – How long before she’s gone?”

“I do not know,” Wanda answered truthfully. “She’s fighting. It’s like…. It is as if she is trying to hold on for you.”

“Wanda…” Tony spoke for the first time.

“Her body is weak and it is weakening as the days stretched. You know this, Tony, you’ve run the scans. You’ve heard it too from Bruce and Stephen,” she said and Tony pulled his gaze away, torn between wanting to reprimand her for skimming the thoughts at the top of his head and not wanting to make a scene in front of Peter. “There is a heavy worry plaguing her.”

Before he could say anything, Nat walked in to the room. If she was surprised to see Wanda, she didn’t show. She smiled warmly at Peter before turning to Tony.

“Is your phone turned off?” she asked, slightly irked.

“Yeah, it is. Why?”

“Pepper has been trying to reach you,” Nat huffed, motioning for him to join her by the window and away from the two youngsters. “When she couldn’t, she got in contact with me.”

“Everything alright? What – What does Pep wants?” Tony asked, feeling a twinge of guilt because with everything that was going on, he had been neglecting Pepper. Apart from updating her on May’s condition last night, he hadn’t actually been in contact with her. It was difficult especially when they were both in different states. “Is it about Stark Industries?”

“Nothing about that – you know your girl has got that all under control.”

In another circumstance, Tony would have preened and made a comment to that effect but not today.

“Ross wants a briefing on the attack and the casualties. He wants a press conference.”

“He needs me there for this, I assume?”

“He would prefer it, yes,” Nat confirmed, “but I have informed him that you are otherwise engaged in a personal matter. Press conference is in an hour. Popping by to run this by you and let you know that I will take point.”

“Right, yeah, go ahead.”

Nat gave a curt nod.

“Nat,” Tony called out. “Thanks. Owe you one. Get Happy to drive you out, yeah?”

“Think I might bring Steve along.”

“We all know how much he’ll love that,” Tony chuckled as Nat left the room.

Behind him, he could hear hurried footsteps so he turned to come face to face with Peter, his brown eyes were wide and staring at him. Wanda trailed after him.

“Mr. Stark,” Peter stopped right in front of him, a little breathless from excitement. This sudden change in his demeanor was a little startling for Tony and he wanted to know what the root cause of it was. “Wanda said that I can talk to May.”

“Bruce said the same, kid, and you’ve been talking to her. You’ve been doing it every day and every night before I send you to bed.”

“No, no,” Peter shook his head. “Not like that. Wanda told me that she’ll help to sort of be… you know, like a bridge for May and I to converse. Cause right now, it’s pretty one sided, Mr. Stark, and May can’t tell me things but Wanda told me that – “

“Hold up. Just wait one second,” Tony interrupted. He turned to Wanda. “What does he mean by ‘a bridge’?”

“I can tap into her mind. That way I will be able to listen and convey the – “

 “No,” Tony shot it down. “No way, kiddo. There’s no way I’m letting you meddle with her mind or his.”

Wanda took a step back, reeling from Tony’s words as if he had just shot his blaster at her. “You do not trust me.”

Tony could only stare at her. He didn’t understand the hurt written all over her face.

“I’m not that person anymore,” Wanda told him. “I’ve come a long way.”

Oh.

She had tampered with all of their minds at one time, a lifetime ago. Clearly, she thought he was referring to that incident but it was the last thing on his mind.

“I know you have but it’s not about that, Wanda. The mind is a delicate thing.”

“I know that better than most.”

“Sure you do so tell me how do we know if this will work? Have you done this before? She’s already physically weak and right now,” Tony fixed her with a look, “maybe her mind’s all she’s got left. We can’t tamper with that.”

“I am not going to tamper. I am going to listen in and I – I really do not know how to explain to you how my powers work. If you like, I can try it on you and Peter when you are both in deep sleep. It will be like you are dreaming. I can show you.”

“Wanda…” Tony started although her suggestion to try it on him first had its merit and he was willing to give it a go. The only problem was that he was not willing to jeopardize Peter. “The science behind this is – “

“The first time you built a suit of armour was the first time you ever did. It saved your life,” Wanda shot back. “You did not know if it will work but you took the chance. I am trying to give Peter this chance. I am trying to bring him closure if it comes down to it and right now, I am the only one with the ability to do that.”

That stung.

All Tony had wanted to do was to protect Peter. He couldn’t fix this for the kid. He couldn’t fix May.

But he wouldn’t let his ego get the better of him. Not in this situation.

“I’m trying to help her,” Wanda said. “She is trapped and she can’t speak. You do not understand what it is like to walk in here and feel her helplessness. I can. Let me help, please. I can be her mouthpiece.”

Peter stepped forward, literally crowding his space, to plead.

“Mr. Stark, I need to talk to her. Please, Mr. Stark.”

How was he supposed to deny this kid this request? May’s odds had just dropped drastically, Wanda had all but said that May was holding on for Peter and what if there was something she needed to get across to him before she could let go? It would be cruel to leave her in this state of continuous pain and it had been three days, May was still in a coma. It wasn’t looking good and Stephan had warned him to prepare Peter. Doctors would not have made such comment lightly.

If Peter could have this chance to communicate with his aunt for what could possibly be the last time, then Tony really didn’t want to be that person to stand in his way. The kid would never forgive him.

How long had he himself stayed awake at night wishing he could talk to his mother for the last time? He would have told her he loved her. He would have told her that he was sorry for all the troubles he got into in his youth, he was sorry that she always had to be the one to come between him and Howard when they were in a loud shouting match.

He would have wanted one last chance to talk to Howard even; to ask the man if there was anything, anything, at all he did that Howard was proud of.

Peter is being given the chance.

“Okay,” Tony acquiesced. “But we have to run this by her doctors. I want Bruce’s and Stephen’s opinion on this. She just had a stroke, Pete, so we don’t want to cause more harm, okay?”

“Alright,” Peter nodded, relieved, “but it also means that there’s no time to waste, Mr. Stark. The next stroke could be fatal and -” he choked, unable to finish his sentence.

“Let me talk to them,” Tony squeezed his shoulder. “Wanda, there should be lunch in the kitchen. If there’s none, Clint should be able to whip something up. Go get him. He should be happy you’re here. Take Peter and get him something to eat, will you?”

“Mr. Stark – “

“I’ll come and get you, underoos,” Tony assured him. “Let me talk to them.”

Chapter Text

Chapter 9

A nurse smiled at him, sad and sympathetic. Peter tried to return the smile but it felt forced. He tried to muster some courage except his insides felt like ice and the courage required a fiery strength he couldn’t find right now.

It’s this room, he concluded.

The room was sterile, functional, cold. It was all cream walls, white blankets, stiff chairs and machines whirling with statistics devoid of sentiments, spewing numbers without caring if the person was living or dying. They were just reports and facts – functional and cold.

Peter shifted, bumping his shoulder against Mr. Stark. The man glanced at him, his face creased with worry and concern. Peter ignored him. He didn’t need the uneasiness, even if he was grateful for his mentor’s presence and for the warmth he felt radiating off the man.

Standing at the foot of May’s bed, his gaze flickered to one of the machines. He didn’t understand what the numbers meant but he had overheard a conversation from earlier – May’s heart rate had slowed down.

He shuffled closer, wanting to be able to see her face but as it had been for the past days, it was partially covered by the ventilator.

At Dr. Banner’s signal, Wanda crossed the room, moving to stand at the head of the bed, positioning herself behind May.

“Mr. Parker,” Dr. Strange approached, nudging Peter forward.

“Peter,” he muttered for the umpteenth time, wishing Dr. Strange would just call him by his name.

“Peter. Talk to your aunt. Inform her once more that it’s time. Let her know what you and Ms. Maximoff will be doing so it will not come as a shock should your aunt feel her … presence.”

“O – Okay. Yeah, yeah that’s a good idea,” Peter nodded nervously.

“Banner, Strange, stay close,” Mr. Stark directed. “This could go any which way…”

Settling down on the chair next to the bed, Peter held May’s hand. He ran a finger soothingly over the knuckles, tracing the veins running to her wrist.

“Hi, May,” he began. He managed to keep his voice steady. “It’s me again – Peter. It’s ten in the morning right now and the sun is out. You’d – You’d love it. I imagine you’d want to take a walk around the Compound, soak it all up.”

He glanced behind his shoulder at Mr. Stark who gave him an encouraging nod. Usually, when he talked to May, it was only just them in the room. Once or twice, Mr. Stark would be there, too. He never had a room filled with so many people. It was making him a little nervous.

“Anyway, remember the talk Mr. Stark and I had with you yesterday night? Well… Wanda is here, May.”

“You’re doing good, kid,” Mr. Stark laid a hand on his shoulder when Peter paused a little too long.

“Wanda… Her powers are super cool, Aunt May. So – so like I said, she’s offered to help,” Peter squeezed his aunt’s hand gently. “I know you’re in there listening to me. Well, at least I hope you are. If – If you’re aware and conscious, I know you’d want to speak to me too. I’m sure you’ve got things to tell me. You – You can now. It’s possible with Wanda’s help. That’s awesome, right?”

By force of habit, he paused waiting to hear a reply. A minute later, Peter started speaking again.

“It won’t hurt. I promise,” he assured, looking at Wanda for confirmation. She nodded with a smile. “We’ll get to talk. We’ll get to talk, May.”

He drew a breath.

It felt too much suddenly.

When he had jumped at this chance the moment Wanda presented it, he never thought it would feel as if he was at the end of the line but that was exactly how it felt right now – as if he was preparing himself to bid his aunt goodbye the moment he walked into this room.

He had all the facts before him - F.R.I.D.A.Y’s analysis, Dr. Banner’s and Dr. Strange’s diagnosis, he had seen the seizure and the stroke, he could feel Mr. Stark’s agitation as if he was standing at the edge of a cliff himself – so he knew May was dying.

He knew.

Except, subconsciously, he had been trying to bury it, hoping that if he didn’t acknowledge it then it would never happen but it was happening. May was growing weaker and worst of it all, she was in pain.

In one corner of the room, Dr. Strange stood tall and serious, cutting an imposing figure. His gaze was fixed on the machines. He was observing and charting May’s responses to Peter’s words and later on, her responses once Wanda made contact. Dr. Banner fidgeted, anxious and curious as he watched May for any signs of distress.

“Okay, Wanda, I’m ready,” Peter gave the clearance.

He was quite aware of Mr. Stark’s knee jerk response to Wanda raising both her hands; of him taking a sudden step forward to both May and Peter and of him laying a protective hand on Peter’s shoulder.

“Sorry,” Mr. Stark whispered, dropping his hand suddenly, but he remained close.

Peter didn’t know exactly what happened between Mr. Stark and Wanda but it was clear something happened. He had asked, of course, the night Mr. Stark had sat with him on his bed to let him know that they could give this a shot. All Mr. Stark had said was Wanda had once, a lifetime ago, played on his fears and showed him things. It wasn’t as illuminating as Peter had hoped it to be but he didn’t have the time to probe further where there were more pressing matters on hand.

“I won’t hurt her. I promise you that,” Wanda said, looking at Mr. Stark.

He took a breath before giving her a curt nod.

“I know you won’t,” Mr. Stark muttered. “Still, be gentle with her.”

Wanda’s fingers hovered on each side of May’s temples.

 

Chapter Text

Chapter 10

The first indication that it worked was the sudden spike in May's heartbeat, from shock or excitement, he couldn't tell.

Peter scooted in his seat, sitting at the edge in anticipation.

"May," he probed, "are you alright?"

"She's alright," Dr. Strange chimed.

Peter took comfort in that statement, not thinking twice about it but if he had turned to look at Mr. Stark, he would have seen the older man staring at the magician, a curious frown on his face.

"Peter," Wanda called for his attention. She smiled, warm and bright, and a flash of hope bloomed in his chest. "I have her with me. She's… She says, hello, chiquitita."

If the circumstances had been different, Peter would have turned red in embarrassment at having that pet name uttered out loud but not today. It was his pet name, something that May would call him by when he was upset or unwell or needed comfort in general. Chiquitita, tell me what's wrong, she would croon and it would always crack a smile on his face. It was a joke between them, something that started after they had spent an afternoon when Peter was younger staying indoors during a storm watching that movie.

"Chi – what?" he heard Mr. Stark whispered, caught off guard. "That's ABBA, right?"

"Yeah," Peter nodded, swallowing the lump in his throat. "It's really her. She's – She's in there."

"She is," Wanda confirmed.

Peter made a choking noise and lurched forward, hugging May to him tightly.

"Easy," Dr. Strange spoke. "Careful there, Mr. Parker."

"Sorry, I – I miss you," he muttered. His voice was muffled, pressed against May's shoulder. "I miss you so much, May."

"Oh, Peter. She misses you too," Wanda's soft voice floated to him. "She tells me that she heard you each time you came to visit. She was listening each time you spoke to her at night, you and Tony, both."

"How – How are you, Aunt May?" Peter asked before he shook his head. "Stupid question, sorry. Sorry. I – I'm so … I'm so scared for you."

"Don't be," Wanda replied. "She says don't be. She doesn't want you to worry about her. She wants to know how you are doing…"

"I'm – I'm okay, I guess," he shrugged. He was far from fine. His chest ached. He was afraid most of the time. He was tired and exhausted from being awake at night thinking about May, wishing there was something he could do. He craved sleep but it eluded him on most nights, lulling him to oblivion for a few hours before he startled awake and then dozing off again for another hour or two. It was tiring. "I'm holding myself together. I – I've got Mr. Stark and the others looking out for me but… but they're not you," he said the last part quietly. "I want you back."

"She's …" Wanda trailed off. "She's sorry, she says. She knows you're brave and strong, and she says she knows this is difficult for you. She has never wanted you to be in this position, to have to watch her like this."

"Mr. Parker," Dr. Strange came forward. "Would it be alright if Bruce and I have a moment with her?"

"You don't have to leave," Dr. Banner added quickly. "It's just … We were not sure if she was aware and conscious but she is. She was simply not capable of responding to us physically until now… Until Wanda and as her doctors, we need to talk to her about her condition."

"Can I still talk to her after?"

"Sure thing, kid," Mr. Stark assured. "If she's up for it…"

With a sigh, Peter stood up, moving to the back of the room with Mr. Stark who puts his arm around Peter, a gesture meant to comfort and Peter leaned in unconsciously for the support.

"You're alright," Mr. Stark said.

He nodded. "What are they telling her?"

"Same thing they told me," his mentor answered. "Some of which you already overheard."

"They're telling her she's dying?"

Mr. Stark took a moment to answer, as if for once, weighing his words carefully.

"I think she knows that, Pete. She would have felt her own body going weaker, same way you'd know you're about to have flu or fall sick. All the signs would be there. And she's been aware all these while. She probably knows more than you and I combine from all the conversations she picked up from the nurses and doctors."

"I guess," he muttered. "I – I just… I feel…"

"I know," Mr. Stark said.

He grounded his teeth, tempering down the need to flare at that statement. He didn't think Mr. Stark knew or truly understood. May was the only one he had left and he was about to lose her. What would he know about that?

He stepped away from his mentor, ignoring the man's surprised glance. Leaning against the wall instead, Peter listened in to the conversation.

"Is there a way you can wake up, May?" Dr. Banner asked. "I'm sorry the question might sound insensitive but this is a medical field with very little information. There are studies on patients in a coma but none of them could get conclusive data and information on the way the consciousness and awareness works. How is it like…"

Wanda answered, "It feels like a labyrinth with no way out. She can hear and at times she can feel, she says, but it's … decay."

"Decay?" Dr. Strange asked. "How so?"

"She is surrounded by it… in her mind. It's like being in a house that is falling apart each day. Something is always broken. She is struggling to put it into words. I can't really…."

"Perhaps the physical deterioration has an impact on her mind…" Dr. Strange hypothesized. "Mrs. Parker, all that we know we have now told you. Your prognosis is not – "

"She knows, she says. She wants to speak to Peter."

If he was nervous before, it was worse now.

"Hey, May."

"I can feel how much she loves you," Wanda remarked, smiling in wonderment. "It is such an amazing feeling, Peter."

"Yeah," Peter nodded, clenching and unclenching his fist. He tapped his foot anxiously.

"She wants to you listen carefully to her," Wanda said with a frown. "She loves you. She's telling me that. She doesn't need Dr. Strange's or Dr. Banner's diagnosis or for them to list out her injuries for her to know that her body is failing. She is aware. She says she is hurting and she is in pain, and there's only so much the drugs can do. I am not even breathing on my own, is what she said. She can't command any part of her body to move at all. It – It used to be easy, something one does without ever thinking twice and yet now… She doesn't think…" Wanda trailed off.

"Please don't," he begged, gripping the sheets tightly.

"You – You are the best thing to happen to her and Benjie."

It was odd, Peter thought to himself, to hear the words and the names his aunt would use in her every day speech and to recognise her speech pattern only to hear it from someone else's voice. Wanda was beginning to lose some of her accent but it was still there in May's words and it was unsettling especially when she was lying there motionless, her lips unmoving.

"She's very, very proud of you, Peter. You're her pride and joy. She's raised you to the best of her abilities and she's so proud. She hoped that you have had a happy childhood, if not a good one."

"I do," Peter nodded even if she couldn't see it. "I do, Aunt May. You & Uncle Ben gave me so much."

He wiped away the tears hastily, not wanting May to know that he was upset. But she could probably tell. She always could, like a sixth sense.

"She knows that she's the only one you have but she says that you are not alone. You have… You have Ned," Wanda looked at him curiously.

"He's my best friend."

"You have Tony by your side too, she says. She knows you are scared, Peter. She knows you are afraid of losing her but she wants you to let her go. She's been holding on for this. She never thought she would ever get to speak to you again but we're here now. Please know that this is her decision. She is in too much pain – her chest, her back, her head are all hurting her. She is describing them to me but I – I do not think it is something you'd want to hear."

"No," he choked back a sob. "No, please. Please. There – There must be something."

"She is not waking up, Peter. She can't. She says that she's tried to find ways out of this. She will likely remain this way for the rest of her life and it is not a burden she wants to put on your shoulders."

"I – I don't understand… Where is she?"

"She's trapped in her mind," Wanda answered. "Where she is, Peter, it is dark and desolate. It is a terrible place."

"That makes no sense. I don't understand. She's -"

"She's dying," Dr. Strange said. "Her mind is decaying as her body is shutting down."

Shut up, shut up, shut up, Peter wanted to scream.

"Seriously Strange, exercise a little tact," Mr. Stark snapped.

"She needs you to let her go, Peter. She doesn't want you to hold on to this as she lay here broken. May says that she wants to know… She needs to know that you will be okay. Will you promise her?"

"I -" He felt so helpless. "I promise. I'll try. I love her. Please tell her I love her."

He was crying now, openly crying in front of everyone.

"I'm sorry, May. I'm so – so sorry. If I – I hadn't insisted we went to the movies that day if we – "

"That was my fault," Mr. Stark cut in, his voice firm and steady and determined, refusing to let Peter shoulder this blame. "I called on your nephew. I roped him into the fight. That was my fault. That's on me."

Wanda turned to him.

"She says you will have your turn."

Mr. Stark blinked and Peter could hear May's voice in his head giving Mr. Stark that reprimand. It reminded him of that time when she found out exactly who had given Peter the suit. Mr. Stark and May's relationship had progressed better since then with Ms. Potts joking about them co-parenting him but May was still a force to be reckoned with.

"Right, sorry," Mr. Stark said, "as you were, Peter."

"I – I just want to say I'm really sorry, May. I should have protected you better."

"It is not your job to protect me," Wanda said, quoting her directly, shocking Peter. Her eyes were closed but her lips were moving as she relayed verbatim. "I didn't blame you. I have never blamed you for what happened to me and while we are on that, I don't blame Tony either. I'm sorry I won't be able to watch you grow up, Petey, but I know you will do me and Ben proud. Promise me you will live your life. That's all I need."

"May, please," he sobbed. "I love you so much. What – What am I going to do?"

"You are so strong, baby. Please be brave for me now."

It was all wrong. It should have been May's voice. He wanted to her that said to him in May's own voice. Peter shut his eyes.

"I love you, my little Peter."

Peter sat there, head bowed in defeat.

"Tony," Wanda turned to Mr. Stark. "She wants to talk to you now."

Mr. Stark approached them, standing next to Peter before he took a seat at the edge of the bed. His rested his hand on May's knee.

"I'm right here, May."

"She is saying that there is no will and that she has never written one. She doesn't have much to give away. She only has Peter. That's the only precious thing she has and she says she should have thought about making guardianship official, something on paper while she still could, it's too late now. After Ben passed, she had given it some thought but had never acted on it. She never knew what or who before but lately it has always circled back to you."

The entire room was silent. Nobody needed Peter's enhance hearing to be able to hear a pin drop.

"What are you… What are you saying exactly?"

"She wants you to look after him like he is your own. Take care of her boy and love him like she would have."

Peter's head snapped up at that. He was sure he had just given himself whiplash. If he thought May's request was shocking, Mr. Stark's answer to that rendered him speechless.

"Always," Mr. Stark reached forward, brushing May's hair away from her face. "I'm always in his corner, you know that. I don't want you to worry about this. He's got me."

"She's a little relieved now. She just wants to know that Peter will be taken care of."

I'm here, he wanted to interject. I'm here. Stop talking about me like I'm not here.

"Let me go, chiquitita," Wanda's voice was shaky and when Peter looked at her, he realised she was crying too. "Give me a kiss and then let me go to sleep."

Peter wiped his face and obliged, leaning forward to kiss May's forehead. It wasn't even his decision to make. May had made it. She had just been holding on, waiting for him to come to terms with the truth through his daily visits to her hospital room. He couldn't let her suffer anymore. It would be cruel.

"I promise I will live my life to make you proud. I love you, Aunt May. Please say hello to Uncle Ben for me," he whispered quietly.

"I'll look after the kid. Rest now," Mr. Stark said softly, holding on to her hand.

Peter glanced behind him towards Dr. Banner and nodded. The ventilator was removed but May's heart was still beating.

Then the strangest thing happened. Dr. Strange jerked backwards, eyes closed. It startled him but the man seemed relatively unharmed.

Peter watched the rise and fall of May's chest until it eventually stopped. The machine showed a continuous single line with a loud, uninterrupted beep.

It felt so quick, so final.

"She's gone. I watched her soul leave," Dr. Strange said suddenly. Dr. Banner had a steadying hand on his back as the man righted himself up. "If it is any comfort to you, Mr. Parker, in the astral plane, her soul looks far better and healthier than her physical form."

Peter turned on his heels and all but ran from the room.

Chapter Text

Chapter 11

For five days after, Peter spent it in bed, sleeping.

He had no desire to leave and was only vaguely aware of Tony’s comings and goings, and Dr. Banner dropping by at Tony’s request to ensure that he was still alive, he supposed. He thought he must have given Tony a scare and would have felt guilty on any other day but his heart was filled with enough guilt over May.

May didn’t blame him. She didn’t blame Tony.

But he couldn’t stop the guilt in any case. He had been too eager to prove to the Avengers that he could be relied on when called to fight, and he had not stopped to make sure May was safe.

He was so stupid.

And May had paid for it.

Spiderman was supposed to keep Queens safe and the irony… Peter scoffed, turning on his sides to bury his face in the pillow.

“It’s time to get up, kid,” Tony announced, pulling back the covers as he did so. “It’s seven in the morning.”

Peter thought it was kind of Tony to wake him up personally instead of getting F.R.I.D.A.Y to do it, but he didn’t voice it out loud.

He hadn’t been talking for three days now. Tony had called a therapist in his blind panic and desperation. Peter had heard it through the walls but he had tuned out the rest of the conversation. He had nothing to talk about, not yet at least. He was just tired of grieving. All his life, that was all he had done.

Swinging his legs over, Peter sat at the edge of the bed.

“Ready?” Tony peered at him with a hand on his shoulder.

He nodded mutely.

Tony’s voice filled the room as he recited facts about Peter; the unshakeable absolute truth about his life.

“You are Peter Parker. You’re seventeen, raised in Queens. You’re currently studying at Midtown High. Your best friend is Ned Leeds. You are an Avenger.”

Peter raised his head, waiting. He had come to rely on this, something that Tony had done each morning for four days.

His mentor’s gaze softened. Peter sat up straighter.  

“You lost your aunt five days ago. Her funeral is today.”

Peter exhaled.

Those facts grounded him.

He had felt so overwhelmed by everything that had happened. When Steve finally found him after he ran out of May’s room, he was hanging upside down from the ceiling in an empty bedroom.

It had been Natasha’s idea to break down his life into manageable sections, something that he had known all his life and could hold on to; his name, the place he lived, his social circle, something he loves. The last part to their morning exercise had been Tony’s which would always compromise of something that he would have to accomplish for that particular day or something painful and heavy that he needed to learn to accept.

It was working so far.

He could deal with being Peter Parker. He knew how old he was, it was not something he could change. He knew where he grew up in and where he went to school. It reminded him that he still has a best friend who would never turn his back on him. Those were things he could deal with.

“Okay,” he croaked out, his voice sounding harsh and grating to his ears.

If Tony was surprised, he hid it well.

“Alright,” Tony said slowly. “Get dressed. Pepper’s picked out a suit for you. I’ll see you at breakfast.”

“Okay,” he tried again, trying to get used to the sound of his voice.

At the door, Tony hesitated. Peter noticed but he raised his head with a steely determination and walked straight for the bathroom. He didn’t need Tony Stark to hover. He was capable of looking after himself.

He heard his bedroom door close shut and Tony’s footsteps retreating away.

Alone once more, Peter choked back a sob.

He wanted to cry. He had been wanting to let it all out since he walked out of May’s room. But he couldn’t. He had cried when talking to May and now the tears wouldn’t come. He wondered if he had used it all up because he stopped crying the moment he ran off from May’s room after she flat lined, the tears had long dried on his face when Steve tried to get him to come down from the ceiling and by the time Tony came to him that night just to sit with him in his room, he had already felt numb inside.

He felt empty and lost.

 

Peter gripped the edges of the marble sink as he tried to get his breathing under control only to hear a crack a second later. Gasping, he took a step back. The sink didn’t collapse but he supposed he shouldn’t lean all of his weight on it, not with that kind of strength.

He dressed methodically. His mind was elsewhere trying to picture the funeral. He put on an undershirt and then the shirt. He had to do the buttons twice because he kept messing it up. He put on his pants and then the jacket only to fumble with the tie so he stashed in his pocket.

The hallway was quiet and Peter was glad that Tony had moved him into one of the bedrooms on his private floor. He didn’t think he could deal with sitting in a room for breakfast with the other Avengers. It was already difficult enough to keep it together in front of Tony. As much as he was grateful for what Wanda had done, he could do without having her look at him with pity.

Peter dragged his feet all the way to the dining area. Pepper and Tony were already there, talking in hushed, strained whispers.

“It’s a private funeral, Tony.”

“I get that Peps, but you’re sure that the media – Hey, kid,” Tony turned towards him.

“Morning,” he muttered.

Wordlessly, he went over to Pepper and held out the tie. She gave him a smile as she wound the tie around his collar. He opened his mouth to say more than just a word but it got stuck on his throat.

Peter frowned.

Had he forgotten how to cry as well as speak?

Pepper righted his collar and smoothed out the lapels.

He tried again.

“T - Thanks for coming back for the funeral, Miss Potts.”

There, that wasn’t so bad.

“Of course, Peter,” Pepper said. “May’s my friend and I want to be here for you.”

When it first happened, it had been odd. May had come home one night looking happier than she had in a while and Peter found out that Pepper had invited her for drinks when Tony invited Peter to the workshop. It struck him then that Aunt May had been so busy working and raising him that she had little to no social life outside of Uncle Ben and him.

Pepper tried to flatten the curls on his head but gave up with a sigh, ushering him instead to take a seat so they could get started on breakfast. She poured orange juice for him and heaped his plate with pancakes and banana slices.

Peter blinked, staring at it.

May always pour milk, for the bones.

Except May wasn’t here right now and this was a different household now.

He ate silently.

He was also painfully aware of Tony leaning against the counter with a cup of coffee, watching him and Pepper sitting next to him munching on a piece of toast.

For an outsider looking in, it would be just another domestic scene but in less than two hours, they would be burying Aunt May and his life would be going down a different direction.

The funeral was held at the same church as Uncle Ben’s. Peter wasn’t sure how Tony knew that but he was Tony Stark, he would find out these kinds of information.

All of the Avengers were there. Wanda had given him a hug when he stepped out of Tony’s car. Dr. Strange had patted his shoulder.

Some of May’s colleagues were there as well. Peter only knew one or two of them, and nodded politely when they came to offer their condolences before he strayed over to where Happy was standing, seeking his company.

He was anxious and strung out, and wanted this to end.

Halfway through the ceremony, it started to rain. If May was here, she would have rolled her eyes at that as if it was something out of a movie. It made him smile a little.

When the coffin was lowered into the ground, Peter stood frozen. He was squeezing his fist so hard he could feel his nails digging into the flesh of his palm.

This would be the last time, he figured. He had no more family left. This would be the last one he buried. At least there was that, he thought bitterly.

No more funerals unless it was for his own.

Behind him, Ned and MJ stood quietly, heads bowed. Ned was crying. He had loved May too. At least one of us had tears to shed, he sighed.

When it ended, Peter was glad. He didn’t think he could stand on his feet a minute longer. He was exhausted.

He nearly stumbled on his feet when Ned tugged him forward to embrace him in a bear hug.

“Thanks for coming, Ned,” he muttered.

“You’ll call me if you need to talk, right?”

He nodded, of course, as was expected of him before he turned to MJ. She looked at him, as if she was studying him under a microscope before she smiled and punched his arm lightly.

“You will be okay, Parker,” she said. “I know you will.”

“Still trying to process that you’re here,” Peter chuckled. “Sorry. I – I mean I appreciate you coming.”

“Of course I’d come after Ned told me. We’re friends.”

“Yeah,” he agreed. Friendship with MJ was actually a blur. He and Ned were just minding their own business one day and had sat on the table she was occupying to get as far away from Flash as possible and since she didn’t object, had continued to seat on the same table for lunch. Before they knew it, she just declared that they were her friends and that was that, no argument. “Guess I’ll see you around.”

“Take care of yourself, Parker.”

The car ride back was spent in relative silence.

Peter sat across from Tony and Pepper, abusing and shredding the paper on the bottle of water Pepper had given him. When he glanced over at them, he noticed that Pepper was holding on to Tony’s hand on her lap. It reminded him of Ben and May in train and bus rides.  

As much as he knew that his aunt and uncle were now together, it still hurt because he was alone.

He stared out of the window, losing himself to the sceneries outside. It was all a blur, very much the same way he felt now.

When they returned, Peter headed straight to his room. He slept for hours. In his sleep, May was still there, making sure he wasn’t alone.

He was woken up the next morning by F.R.I.D.A.Y but Tony came in a few seconds later.

“How are you holding up?”

“Alright, I guess.”

“You skipped dinner yesterday. I didn’t want to wake you up.”

Peter had nothing to say to that.

He heard Tony sigh and watched him pressed a few buttons on his watch. The blinds rolled up as sunlight streamed into the room.

“I’ll have the housekeeper clean your room today,” Tony remarked as his gaze roamed around the room, taking in the mess. “I’ve been telling her to stay away for the past couple of days.”

“You gotta do it,” he reminded his mentor.  “What you’ve always done.”

“Alright, alright,” Tony acquiesced. “You are Peter Parker.”

Peter began to feel his muscles relaxing. He let out a breath.

“You’re seventeen. You used to live in Queens.”

There was a pause as if Tony was waiting for him to internalise that. Peter blinked but otherwise didn’t correct him. It wasn’t wrong. He used to live in Queens. He didn’t now.  

“You’re currently studying at Midtown High. Your best friend is Ned Leeds. You are an Avenger.”

Maybe he didn’t want to be one anymore but he figured that would be a conversation for another day.

Peter inhaled and counted to five, preparing himself for what was in store today.

“You have to give your consent. For the guardianship.”

“Okay.”