“Hey, Ned?” Peter started, looking to his best friend on his left. He couldn’t help the anxiety and self-doubt that was beginning to creep it’s way up his throat.
“Yeah Peter?” Ned replied. He started to grow worried as he saw Peter’s pale expression.
“I uh- I have something I want to tell you.” Peter stuttered out, no longer able to look his best friend in the eye. Ned couldn’t help but let his worry increase. Peter was never like this, only when he was really serious or upset.
“Okay, here goes nothing,” Peter took a deep breath and ran his hand through his curls before rushing out, “I’m not straight.”
“Like, um, I’m really sorry to spring this on you so early in the morning, but I’ve been thinking about it for a while and I’ve finally figured out that I am… bisexual…?” Peter quickly added, sounding slightly defensive in order to keep Ned from yelling at him and telling him he never wants to see him again.
“And I get it if you’re like grossed out by me, I know a lot of people online are like that, and I can’t help but feel like ‘great two weird things about me, I’m Spider-Man and I want to kiss boys—’”
“Peter!” Ned cut off his best friend in the middle of his rambling. Ned tugged on Peter’s shoulder to stop him from walking away. “Never in a million years would I think you’re disgusting or weird for not being straight. If I didn’t want to be your friend because I thought you were too weird, I’ve had a billion opportunities before this to stop hanging out with you!”
“Great, thanks! Real confidence booster, Ned! Especially after I just spilled my deepest darkest secret to you. Again , if I might add!” Peter quipped, rolling his eyes.
“Dude, you know what I mean,” Ned shoved Peter’s shoulder playfully, “you know you’re my best friend forever and that I love you no matter what.”
Peter smiled, overwhelmed that his first coming out experience was nothing but acceptance. He quickly pulled Ned into a bear hug. When they pulled apart, the pair immediately executed their best friend handshake perfectly before resuming their walk to school.
“Now that we’ve conquered our obligatory Deep Conversation, are you excited about our field trip today?” Ned exclaimed, bouncing from excitement.
“Dude, I’ve been looking forward to this all week! I’m less excited about having to sit in a cramped bus with a bunch of people first thing in the morning, but I guess I should be used to that by now.”
Peter and Ned sat on the bus, sitting in a comfortable silence, as there was already enough noise surrounding them. Suddenly, Peter felt the hairs on his arms stand up and he shot his head up, this was never a good sign. Swiveling his head around quickly, Peter’s eyes widened as he caught sight of what set off his Spider Sense.
Descending from the sky towards the city was an enormous flying ring. It was obvious it was alien and Peter immediately opened his backpack, making sure he brought his suit with him. In a split second decision, Peter tapped Ned to get his attention, ready to explain to him why he needed a distraction. Peter prepared for Ned’s words of warning to not do something extremely stupid, but he was shocked to hear Ned yelling.
“We’re all gonna die! There’s a spaceship!” Peter’s eyes widened as Ned leapt up to get a better look and all the other students followed his lead. Peter, not wanting to waste anymore time, hurriedly used his web shooters to open the window. He quickly pulled his mask on and jumped out of the bus in the direction of the ship.
Listen, it probably wasn’t Peter’s brightest moment when he directly disobeyed Mr. Stark’s orders (again). Yeah, it was dumb to sneak onto an alien ship that was heading away from Earth to who knows where, but one of the new additions to the suit Mr. Stark gave Peter was very intuitive. So, in actuality, it was probably Mr. Stark’s fault Peter was on the ship instead of the bus.
“ What did you just say to me?”
“Okay, I didn’t mean it like that! I just meant, I can help, you know, save the wizard .” Tony sighed as he realized there was no way to return Peter back to Earth in the foreseeable future, so he decided he’d better listen to the kid’s plan in case it offered a solution.
Peter did kind of feel bad for joining Mr. Stark on the flying donut, he was running on adrenaline and instinct in the moment, but as time passed he realized just how drastic his split second decision had been. Peter knew he was realistically millions of miles from Earth at this point, and he was beginning to understand how long he and Mr. Stark were going to be gone for.
Before Mr. Stark or the newly freed wizard, Doctor Strange, caught on to Peter’s growing anxiety he put on a brave face and tried to reminisce on the fact Tony Stark had just dubbed him an official member of the Avengers.
“—I’ll fry this little freak.” Peter’s eyes widened slightly in fear under his mask.
“Let’s do it! You shoot my guy, I’ll blast him!” Tony challenged, confident Peter would let him know if the threat from the strange invaders was genuine. Peter was paralyzed with fear as he could sense the anger and desperation radiating from the man who had a blaster to his temple. Time seemed to stop as Peter could only concentrate on the weapon pressed against his mask.
“What’re you hassling us for?” Tony’s demanding tone brought Peter back to the conversation.
“So you’re not with Thanos?” Peter questioned, regaining his voice as he sensed his attacker’s emotions changing from anger to confusion.
“I’m here to kill Thanos, he took my girl—wait who are you?” The man behind Peter asked in shock.
“We’re the Avengers, man.” Peter replied, removing his mask as he felt the others grip on his shoulders loosen as he realized they were not enemies. Peter quietly let out the breath he’d been holding, trying not to let Mr. Stark know he’d been absolutely terrified.
“You’re the ones Thor told us about!” Peter and Tony looked simultaneously in the direction of the alien woman’s voice, realizing they may have had more in common with the group of vigilantes than previously thought.
“You know Thor?” Tony inquired.
“Yeah,” Peter’s previous assailant answered sarcastically. “Tall guy, not that good looking, needed saving.”
Now Peter was confused. How could these people barge onto the spaceship, outright attack the three of them, then have the audacity to insult Thor, who is objectively the most attractive person ever , to his face? It was just downright insulting, and Peter couldn’t help his look of disdain as the words ‘not that good looking’ reached his ears. Thinking about the attractive (male) god and fellow Avenger, Peter realized he should probably come out to Mr. Stark eventually, but he was surprisingly nervous about how his mentor would react.
Now that Peter was officially out and accepted by his best friend, surely the thought of telling Mr. Stark or Aunt May should not induce as much anxiety as it previously had. Alas, he still felt that familiar pit in his stomach when he tried to imagine the conversation he’d have to have with arguably the two most important people in his life.
Unfortunately, Peter would have to dwell on the emotional journey of coming out to his parental figures another time as the newly formed team was preparing to fight their common enemy, Thanos.
Mr. Stark was injured, everyone on Titan felt defeated and miserable. Peter couldn’t imagine how their brutal defeat was part of a greater plan and he was honestly terrified. He had no idea how they were going to make it back to Earth or if they were even going to survive. To top it all off, Peter’s Spider Sense warning him that something ominous was approaching didn’t help quell the feeling of despair deep in his gut.
As if on cue everyone turned to Mantis as she stated, “something’s happening.”
Peter looked on in horror as he witnessed Mantis evaporate into thin air, leaving behind a cloud of ash. He began to feel a sharp tug at his arm but he fought to control the painful urge as he watched another member of the Guardians become dust.
The excruciating pull at his body, which he now recognized as the sensation of death produced by the snap, was starting to be too real. Peter realized he wouldn’t be able to fight his fate for much longer.
“Mr. Stark,” Peter started, limping towards his mentor, “I don’t feel so good.”
“You’re alright,” Tony reassured him, not knowing Peter could already guess he wasn’t going to make it.
“I—I don’t know what’s happening—“ Peter stuttered, collapsing into Tony’s arms, the fear of death starting to become overwhelming.
“I don’t wanna go! I don’t wanna go! Mr. Stark, please—“ Peter begged. He remembered how much he left behind in New York. Peter understood that if his family and friends survived the massacre, they might never know what happened to him.
Tony’s heart shattered as he felt the hands of the teenage boy in his arms clutch onto his shoulder for dear life. “Please! I don’t want to go, I don’t want to go!”
Peter collapsed to the ground, tears stinging his eyes from the combinations of pain; pain due to his body slowly turning to ashes and the pain of knowing how many people he was leaving behind without a chance to say goodbye.
He laid on the ground, concentrating on the hard surface digging into the part of his body that was still corporeal. Peter mentally checked off all his regrets; how he regretted not coming out to May or Mr. Stark, how he regretted not visiting his parents and Uncle Ben’s graves one last time, how he regretted having to leave Mr. Stark behind to deal with everything. Peter couldn’t explain to Tony that he shouldn’t feel guilty for Peter’s death, that he would never blame the other man for what happened.
“ I’m sorry ,” Peter choked out. He finally looked Tony in the eye, trying to convey everything he wanted to say to the man in a matter of seconds, finally the pain subsiding in his hand and midriff as they ceased to exist. Peter thought about how the last thing he wanted, Aunt May and Mr. Stark feeling liable for his reckless and idiotic behavior, was becoming a reality; and there was no way for him to prevent it.
The emotion showcased in Tony’s eyes was too much for Peter, and as he felt the pain creep up his chest and neck, he turned his face away from Tony and allowed the sensation to completely overcome him.
Tony watched as Peter’s body finished vaporizing, the dust slipping between his fingers. He sat down and brought his hands to his chin, trying to wrap his brain around how alone he was.
“No, I’m sorry,” Tony muttered to himself. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell you that you made me a better person , Peter.”