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what do I need?

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Why won't Happy just pick up? I know I'm a nuisance and he doesn't like me and I'm annoying and obnoxious but I really need him right now. Please, please pick up.

 

I am stupid. That is not a thought or a feeling but a fact.

 

We had a stupid depression test in health and I even lied on it but my counselor still had a meeting with me about my mental health. He just asked so many questions and I was terrified and I didn't know what to do and I just couldn't lie. And then he found out that I cut and now he's going to call May and she's going to cry. I can't handle it when she cries. She's going to be so disappointed and she's going to blame herself and wonder what she did wrong.

 

I had to actively hold my tears back when I saw that Happy read my texts and didn't respond. I know I'm not supposed to go Upstate today but maybe if I can just go there for a little bit and prepare myself it'll be easier.

 

He's not coming. If I wasn't such a burden to him before maybe he would have helped me now. Maybe he would come pick me up and everything would be okay. But everything's not okay because I ruined everything. I should have lied more. I shouldn't have talked to my counselor. This. Shouldn't. Be. Happening.

 

But it is. And it's my fault.

 

The bell rang. I can't text him again until the day is over. Until I have to go back to the apartment.

 

 

To Happy from Peter:

Happy, please pick me up. I know I'm a pain and I'm annoying you but I really need to be picked up. Please?

 

He read it. And he didn't respond.

 

I could just leave now. Just go and no one would need to know. I could be free. This is my chance. This is it. I can go.

 

To Peter from May:

Peter, come home. We need to talk.

 

I started to walk to the apartment. But I knew I would regret it.

 

 

When I opened the door, she just stood there, not looking at me, not saying anything. I didn’t dare to say a word, wishing that this would all go away, regretting coming here.

 

“We need to talk,” her voice just sounded sad when she finally broke the silence. She walked to my room, but didn’t enter. I followed her and went in, I sat on my bed. She followed suit, sitting right in front of me. I couldn’t help feeling blocked in.

 

“I got a call from your counselor,” she started, looking at me with those same eyes she had the day Uncle Ben died.

 

“What did they tell you?” How much do you know?

 

“He told me about the depression test…” she took a breath, “and that he asked you if you have ever self-harmed. He told me what you said.”

 

A numbness consumed me. Maybe it’s better that way. I can’t get hurt if I can’t feel.

 

“Did I cause this?” She looked me in the eye, I quickly averted my eyes.

 

“I-it’s just that-I-well-” I didn’t get to even finish a thought.

 

“So it’s my fault,” it wasn’t a question. A tear fell from her eye.

 

“Peter, you broke my trust,” What? “And you hurt me, you need to ask me for forgiveness.”

 

I was wrong, even when you’re numb you can get hurt, you bleed and then you bleed out and you get to die. You just get all the pain amplified after the numbness fades off.

 

What? Why on earth would I apologize to her? How can this seem right to her?

 

“I’m sorry,” I tried with all my might to not let my seething anger into my voice.

 

“I forgive you,” there was no emotion in her voice.

 

“How did you do it?”

 

I shouldn’t have come here.

 

“A blade...from a pencil sharpener,” I whispered. I don’t know if I’d rather cry or scream, but one thing I know is that I have to get out . But she’s blocking the way. I can’t escape.

 

“Give it to me,” she ordered. Knowing there was no other option, I got up and got my little box in the back of my dresser drawer. The only thing in it was the blade. “I don’t even know how you got that idea,” I heard her whisper.

 

“You’re not allowed to have hand sharpeners anymore. If you need to sharpen a pencil you’ll use an electric one.” When I sat back down on the bed, she took my blade and put it in her pocket.

 

There’s other ways I can do it. That’s what I didn’t say.

 

“I also scratched myself…” I honestly don’t know why I told her that.

 

“You have to keep your nails short from now on,” she responded immediately, staring at my hands. “Did you do it on your arms?”

 

“Sorta,” I mumbled, barley understandably. She roughly grabbed my arm and pulled up my sleeve. She inspected it, luckily those scars have faded more than the others.

 

“Where else did you do it?” She was still holding my arm too tightly. I wanted nothing more than to rip my arm away from her and run away.

 

I answered honestly, knowing there was no way out of it, “Mostly my thigh.”

 

“Take your clothes off,” she demanded, standing up.

 

What? No. You can’t make me show you my body, you can’t, you can’t do that!

 

“Come on, Peter,” she held no room for anything other than unquestioning obedience.

 

I slowly stood up, I looked at her once, just to make sure this is what she really wants.

 

“Take your pants off,” she was losing her patience. I slowly slipped my pants off. “Now the shirt.” I obeyed.

 

She stood there staring at my almost naked body. She made me turn around. She didn’t ask before she lifted up my underwear to see if there were any scars underneath. I couldn’t fight back. That’s where most of the scars are.

 

“When was the last time you did it?” She was still staring at my body.

 

“About a week.” Luckily. You could see the new ones when she lifted up my underwear. The red lines were a contrast to the many white scars scattered there.

 

“From now on, periodically we will have checks to make sure you’re not doing this anymore. Promise me if you find any other pencil sharpeners you will give them to me. If I find any, I’m getting rid of them.”

 

“I promise,” I whispered. I lied.

 

Then she dared to pull me into a hug, me with my clothes off, after she dared to touch me against my will and look at my body. Then she finally left the room. I quickly put my clothes back on.

 

I remembered I still have one more blade hidden.

 

I went into the bathroom, without my extra blade. I didn’t turn on the lights. I drowned in the darkness around me. And I let out a sob. I quickly covered my mouth to keep myself quiet.

 

I can’t breathe, I can’t breathe, I can’t-I can’t-

 

My breaths quickened too fast and not enough oxygen was coming in. It only caused me to cry harder. Which made it harder to breathe. It’s an endless cycle. Nausea hit me but nothing would come up.

 

After who knows how long, she knocked on the door. She asked me if I was okay. I cleared my throat and said yes. I wiped my tears away and took a few deep breaths. I flushed the toilet to at least pretend I wasn’t just sobbing my guts out.

 

“I’m going to call Tony and ask him to have dinner with you. I have some friends I need to talk to.”

 

“Are you going to tell him?” Hesitance filled my voice.

 

“Of course,” she answered as if the answer is obvious.

 

 

I can’t even have normalcy with Mr. Stark anymore. She didn’t even ask me, she just told him. Now he’ll hate me, he won’t want me around anymore. I disappointed him. He already goes through so much, I can’t add this to his plate. Add me to his already full plate.

 

“Hey Peter,” though his tone was happy when he greeted me, it was forced. He came, and he’s driving himself. It’ll just be me and him. Aunt May didn’t even say goodbye, but the thought of talking to her again just brings back that dread and that need to escape.

 

I noticed when Mr. Stark purposely put on my favorite band, even though he hates it.

 

We drove without talking for a while. Then he spoke, “We can have a casual dinner if you want, or we can talk. Whatever you need.”

 

What do I need?

Chapter Text

We ended up at a fast food restaurant. The place was empty so we didn’t really worry about him getting seen.

 

We got our food fairly quickly, and we just started eating. No talking. I realized pretty quickly that he was not going to talk about everything unless I brought it up.

 

I wasn’t going to bring it up. I really wasn’t. But…

 

I just I don’t understand-I can’t understand why she would make me apologize to her. What- how could that ever seem right for her to do? I don’t get it, I don’t understand, why is that right? Why should I apologize for what I did?

 

“She made me apologize to her,” I murmured.

 

“She did what?” He was clearly trying very hard not to sound mad.

 

“She said I broke her trust and that I hurt her and made me apologize to her.”

 

I just...I don’t understand…

 

“That’s not okay. That is wrong and the worst thing she could have made you do,” he looked determine to try to fix things. But he can’t fix something like this.

 

“When she asked me if I did it on my arms, and I said sorta, she grabbed my wrist and she held it too tightly and she pulled my sleeve up,” a few tears leaked from my eyes as I opened up, “and then she made me promise if I found I blade I would give it to her.” I didn’t tell him that I was lying. “But then…” my tears wouldn’t stop coming, “she made me take my clothes off and she looked at me and she touched me.” I tried to keep going but I was crying too hard.

 

“Can I give you a hug?” I nodded. I need it.

 

He came around the table and pulled me into a tight hug. But in this one I don’t have that desperation to escape but a need to hold him tighter. I’m not trapped with him.

 

“I’m going to talk to her. What she did was wrong on every level and she needs to know that. You don’t deserve that, okay? You don’t deserve for her to treat you like that,” he looked me in the eye, and I held his gaze.

 

“Can I stay with you tonight?”

 

“Of course, I want you to stay with me. But I’m worried May will say no.”

 

I didn’t mean for another tear to drop at his answer.

 

But he continued, “I’ll fight for you. I’ll always fight for you.”

 

 

He had brought me to his car, helped me in it but he stayed outside to call Aunt May.

 

I didn’t mean to eavesdrop but it's so easy with my enhanced hearing.

 

“Hey May...no, he's not okay,” Mr. Stark was trying really hard to keep his voice even. “I think he should stay with me, May… He is crying in my car and you have the audacity to say what he deserves! It’s not like he’s grounded, you can’t keep him in the apartment forever!...Yeah well we will be talking about this further on another day.”

 

I wiped my tears away when he came back into the car, “she said you can stay with me.” I didn’t mind that he lied to me for my benefit.

 

“What about school?” Please don't make me go…

 

“Screw school. We’re going Upstate,” I almost let out a laugh.

 

 

He told me on the ride up that he didn’t and wouldn’t tell anyone else what happened today, or that I cut, without talking to me first. But May already talked to her friends, and Mays the one that told Mr. Stark. Just because it’s okay that she told Mr. Stark doesn’t mean she gets to tell anyone. Even if she’s doing it to get advice on how to deal with me, she doesn’t have the right.

 

It’s impossible to not be mad at her. What she did...that’s not okay. But she doesn’t know better. She’s never dealt with this before, and that’s good. No one else she cares about has done what I’ve done. But she still hurt me. And I can’t get past that. Every time I think of her all I see is her sitting in front of me, blocking me in. I just feel her grabbing me. I hear her telling me to take my clothes off. It’s all too much…

 

“Pete, how about we watch a movie?” I nodded to his suggestion, rubbing my eyes. He picked out a few options for me to make the final decision, I noticed how they were all happy and funny movies.

 

We started the movie I picked, but I couldn’t bring myself to even smile.

 

Then I broke. I let out a gross, loud, sob. I tried to cover my mouth so that I wouldn’t bother him, but he immediately pulled me close.

 

“It’s okay to cry, let it out if you have to,” and I did. I sobbed even harder than I did in the bathroom earlier that day. But this time I have someone to allow me to cry, to hold me close without me feeling suffocated, to help me. “I need you to know, Underoos, that I’m not mad at you. I’m not going to ask you to show me, I’m not going to even ask you to stop. This is your decision, but I will be here with you every step of the way.”

 

That. That was the right thing to say.

 

“Dad?”

 

After a breath he responded, “yeah, Pete?”

 

“I want to stay here with you.”

Chapter Text

“Tony! You can’t just take my child just because he’s your new shiny thing! He’s mine!” May screamed at him. Tony purposely had Peter stay in the car with Happy in case a scenario like this went down.

 

“First of all, he’s not yours. You have been taking care of him, yes, but he’s not your object. You do not own him. You can’t just do whatever you want to him,” Tony managed to keep his voice somewhat level.

 

“What are you implying, Stark?” Her voice was dangerously low.

 

“He’s upset May, he feels betrayed and-”

 

“Betrayed?! He’s betrayed?! He hurt himself, he didn’t come to me, the woman that took care of him since his parents died! He betrayed me!” She yelled, tears in her eyes.

 

“How could you possibly…” he trailed off, biting back any other remarks he was dying to shoot back at her, knowing he’ll never do what needs to be done like this. “I’m doing what’s best for Peter. I know you are angry and upset and don’t understand, but I’m helping him.”

 

“So you get to just take my kid now?” Her voice was quieter now.

 

“I’m not saying it’s for forever, but until he’s doing better,” his voice softened too.

 

“This is kidnapping,” she was still trying to stop him.

 

“Not if he wants it. Getting away, being able to escape for a little while, it’ll help him.”

 

“It’s not my fault if what he perceives as reality isn’t what’s actually happening,” she sounded so fricken sure of herself.

 

“You think you have a right to say what he feels? To say if it’s real or not?” It was getting increasingly harder for him to stay calm.

 

“It’s not my fault Satan is in his head.”

 

That. That right there was too far.

 

“I’m taking his stuff, and we are leaving.”

 

 

Mr. Stark told me to stay here, he didn’t say why, but I know he doesn’t want me to hear him and Aunt May fighting. Happy hasn’t even said anything, he’ll barely look at me.

 

He’s disappointed. Now he’ll never care about me. He’ll never want me around again.

 

“Look kid…” he let out a breath, finally breaking the awkward quietness, “I’m sorry I didn’t come pick you up yesterday. I should have. I wish I had.”

 

I want to say that it’s okay. But it’s not. I want to say that it was fine. But it wasn’t. None of this would have happened if he had come and got me. But if he had gotten me and May called, Mr. Stark probably would have made me leave. Then I wouldn’t have been Upstate last night.

 

“It’s because that you didn’t pick me up that I’m here now,” I told him, after a moment.

 

“Is that good?” He asked, genuinely.

 

“Maybe it’s better this way.”

 

That was when Mr. Stark came outside, carrying my stuff.

 

“Mr. Stark? Wha-what are you doing? I thought you were just going to talk to May.” What’s going on?

 

“You said you want to stay with me. Is that still true?” He asked me straight up, looking me in the eye.

 

“Yes,” I answered truthfully.

 

“Then you’re staying with me. Is there anything else you want, I can go get it.” He put my stuff in the trunk, as I followed close behind him.

 

“No, no it’s fine. It’s good. Thank you,” he turned to face me.

 

His gaze was sad, but also hopeful, “Come on kid, let’s go home.”

Chapter Text

To Peter from May

 

Peter, you know what I realized? I could have lost you. I could have lost you too. When you did those bad things, you could have died.

 

But I didn’t care. She says that as if I had cared whether I died or not.

 

“Who are you texting?” Mr. Stark questioned as he came back into the common room from the bathroom.

 

“Oh, uh, no one. It’s nothing,” I quickly turned my phone off and put it in my pocket.

 

“How many times has May texted you?” He sat down next to me.

 

I couldn't meet his eyes, “that-that was the first one.”

 

“Now the real answer?” He gently prodded.

 

“A few times…” he put his arm around me.

 

“Do you want her to stop?” It wasn’t mean, the way he said it, but caring… and maybe, protective? I nodded slowly.

 

Even when I’m not there, I can’t get away…

 

“I’ll help you, alright? I’ll always help you,” he sounded so sure, so confident, as if I'm not the worthless piece of trash that I am.

 

“Why? Why, no how can you care so much about me?” I'm worthless. “I've always had issues! Always! Since second grade I've had self-esteem issues. Most people don't even realize that kids that young can hate who they are. Since third grade I've hated how I look. Since fifth I realized that I'm different than everyone else, in the worst ways. In sixth was when I started having abandonment issues, or at least more severe. And then I'm eighth everything got so much worse. And since then I've only hated myself more and more!”

 

I didn't mean to start crying again...

 

“I care about you because you are what I wish I was, you are genuinely good, you are selfless and caring. If I had half the courage and selflessness you have when I was a kid, I could have done a lot better. But even more than that, I love you, Peter Parker. Not just Spider-Man, but Peter Parker. The adorable and dorky kid that can talk anyone's ear off.”

 

Did he just tell me he loves me?

Chapter Text

Sometimes it could be the best day ever, it could be a good day, but then suddenly everything is just wrong. Every sound is just deafening, everything touching your skin feels suffocating, just, everything is wrong. But your mind is the worst part. It takes every good thing about your day, any nice thing people may have said, and it turns it all around. Everything you did was wrong. Anything that went wrong was your fault. Anything nice someone said they said because they felt bad for you. And anything you said they think was for attention.

 

It sucks.

 

This sucks.

 

What happened with May just won’t leave my mind. I can’t escape it. I need it out. I need the pain to go away. I need the thoughts to end. I need everything to just stop.

 

Earlier today I had snuck into Mr. Starks room and stole one of his razors, I lied to Friday saying it was to shave.

 

I couldn’t sing more praises with how thankful I am for the new blade. And it’s sharp, it’ll be easier than the one at the apartment.

 

With me, it’s weird, most people, from what I know, don’t cut as many times but they go deep. I don’t go deep but I do it many times. The blood has never even dripped, just bubbled up. I counted once, how many scars and new cuts I had, it was over eighty. That was a while ago, it must be well over a hundred now. But it’s not dangerous, I don't go deep.

 

The lingering pain is the biggest nuisance. You get used to the sting on your thigh when you walk, even the mild burn of water against fresh cuts in the shower. But the worst is when sweat gets into the cuts, it feels like taking a torch to your leg. But it’s just a reminder of the pain that caused it. It’s worth it.

 

When I got into the bathroom attached to the room I always stay in when I’m here, I could not rip my clothes off fast enough. I’m surprised I didn’t rip them. The itchy feeling they left across my skin made me want to scream.

 

I need to think clearly. I need to focus. I need to do this.

 

The first one was quick, just a swift swipe across my thigh. I guess the razor was sharper than I thought, it was deeper than normal. But still not bleeding too much. It’s fine.

 

The next one wasn’t quite as deep. It wasn’t enough.

 

So I kept going. More and more littered my already scar covered thigh. I always do the same thigh, I guess it’s just easier that way.

 

I always keep most of the cuts up high enough were my underwear will cover it enough. It’s safer that way.

 

“Hey Pete, you okay?” Tony was right outside the bathroom.

 

No. Go, please, go. You can’t be here, you can’t, you have to go. Leave, please, please go, you have to go. You aren’t supposed to be here, you have to leave. No one's supposed to come, no one ever comes. Everyone just leaves. Why won’t you?

 

“Yeah,” my voice cracked, I’m so stupid, “my-my stomach just hurts.”

 

“Peter, I’m here for you. If you need to talk, or to cry, or to just do nothing, I would never dare judge you.”

 

He doesn’t believe me.

 

“I’m fine,” my voice was stronger that time, you can’t hear the tears in it. When did I start crying, I usually cut to stop the crying.

 

“Pete, you didn’t sound fine, can I come in?” His voice quivered.

 

“No!” I quickly clamped my hand over my mouth, breathing too hard, trying to just calm down before I continued, “I’m alright, I’ll be out in a minute.”

 

“Kid, it’s okay to need help, it’s alright if you’re not okay. But I want to help you,” the desperation was clear in his tone.

 

Go, go, leave please. I don’t-I can’t do this! Don’t come in here!

 

“Peter…” he let out a deep breath, “I’ll have to come in there if you don’t open the door. You can cry, you can scream, we can sit in silence if you need it, but you need to open the door.”

 

No! No, he-he can’t do this! He’s, he’s acting like...he’s acting like May.

 

“Go away,” I let out a sob, quickly covering my mouth again. Too late.

 

“Please let me help you, Underoos,” he sounded like he himself was on the verge of tears.

 

“You can’t- you can’t fix me! I’m broken!”

 

Stupid. I’m so stupid. I shouldn’t have said that. I’m such an idiot.

 

“Well can I try?” He sounds so scared, I made Tony Stark scared.

 

“How?” I sound like such a stupid child.

 

“Let’s start by opening the door.”

 

There’s not enough, I don’t have enough time. There’s not enough.

 

I quickly grabbed a tissue and wiped my leg of the blood. I figured my thigh isn’t bleeding enough to need a bandaid. I just shoved my clothes back on, stuffing my blade into my pocket. I flushed the bloody tissue down the toilet, washing my hands before finally opening the stupid door.

 

“Peter…” he almost jumped forward before asking for consent first, “Can I hug you?” I nodded immediately. The hug was tight but not confining. But when he shifted it jostled my leg, causing me to yelp in pain and flinch back.


“Oh kid…” he knows .

Chapter Text

I disappointed him. I just disappointed him again…

 

No, no, no, no, no…I ruined everything.

 

I quickly stepped back from him, escaping into the bathroom before slamming the door.

 

“Pete, Peter, I'm not mad. I'm not disappointed. I just...I just want to help you,” he was still right there, just on the other side of the door.

 

“You keep saying that but you can't help someone like me. You can't fix me, I'm broken and you can't fix that!” I collapsed on the floor in a pathetic mess.

 

I had my back against the door as I laid, curled up, on the bathroom floor.

 

I heard his voice, it sounded like he was sitting right next to me.

 

“Kid, do you know that I get panic attacks?” He continued before I could think of a response, “I used to get them all the time. All the time. I still get them, but not as often. I still have PTSD though, that, I don't think will ever go away. I used to stay up all night, every night, to protect myself from the nightmares.”

 

He's like me?

 

But he can't be, I'm just Peter Parker the worthless loser, and he's The Tony Stark.

 

“It's okay, normal even in this line of business, to get panic attacks, to have PTSD, to cry, to need help.”

 

But that's different...I mean I get all that stuff, but they don't hurt themselves over it.

 

“How did you stop the nightmares?” I decided to ask that instead of voicing my other thoughts.

 

“I personally go to therapy, it's really good to talk things out with someone. I will always be here to talk and to listen. But if you want to try therapy, I can help you with that too, I'll make sure you get the right therapist. If that's what you want.”

 

I have thought multiple times that I need therapy. But maybe I just need someone to listen.

 

“What are you going to do if I open the door?” My voice was still quiet, but not quivering anymore.

 

“If you want me to, I'll hug you. I'll tell you that no matter what you do, I'll always be here for you. If you want, you can cry for as long as you need, you can talk, or we can just do nothing. I’ll do anything for you. But I need to make sure you're okay,” he answered truthfully.

 

“Will...will you make me take off my clothes?” I couldn't keep the fear out of my voice.

Chapter Text

Then my phone buzzed. I forgot I had thrown it across the floor when I ripped my clothes off to cut.

 

It’s not the time for this. I can’t do this right now.

 

But the phone buzzed again. And the only way to stop that insistent nuisance is to get it. I dragged myself across the cold floor to that stupid thing that refused to just please shut up!

 

To Peter from May

 

I think you should know, I never believed you were depressed. You’re way too happy.

 

This time, when I threw my phone, I meant to break it.

 

“What was that?!” Mr. Stark frantically shouted, “Peter, what happened?!”

 

“Why won’t she just leave me alone?” My voice broke as I reached up and tugged at my hair in desperation.

 

“I told her to stop,” I heard him, his voice low, not meant for me to hear. A need came over me, and I opened the door. I actually opened the door. This time I initiated the hug. It was tight, and warm, and good. After a few blissful moments of content silence, I pulled back.

 

“Now what?” I heard myself ask him.

 

“How about, I have Friday scan you to see if you are in dire need of medical attention? And from there, we’ll figure it out together.”

 

No option he could give would be ideal but this could work. I get a say.

 

“Master Parker has multiple, small, tears in his skin, but is not in ‘dire need of medical attention’.” Friday informed him.

 

“Well, then we can deal with the emotional aspect of this. What do you need?”

 

To escape. To be free. For the thoughts to end. To disappear. For everything to stop. I need someone to believe me. I need a way out.

 

“I need a way out,” I answered without lying, for once.

 

After a moment of pondering, he smirked “I have an idea.”

 

After many answerless questions and him grabbing all the bedding from both of our rooms, we went up to the roof. Then, after telling me to wait there, he went and came back with two full tubs of ice cream and two spoons. He motioned for me to sit down, and we cocooned ourselves in the softest blankets I had ever felt.

 

It was quiet, and it was peaceful. Everything was quieter. The softness felt safe against my skin, the ice cream wasn't too cold in my hands. And it was comfortable with him lying next to me, staring at the stars. You could never see this many in the city.

 

“I broke my phone…” I whispered after a long while.

 

“I can get you a new one if you want,” he offered, looking over at me with those caring eyes. I still don't understand how he could care about me . How he could...no. That had to have been a lie.

 

“I don't want one,” he looked at me understandingly after I voiced my decision. But I continued, “she never believed me. I… the thought just didn't occur to me that she just wouldn't believe me.”

 

“It's not your fault that she just doesn't understand,” his voice was soothing as he pulled me close. I let out a hum of contentment when he started running his fingers through my hair.

 

“Do you believe me?” My voice small.

 

“Always.”

 

“Did you mean what you said when you said you love me?”

 

“I would never lie to you.”

Chapter Text

May wants me to go back. But May wants me. Yet, I want to stay here. The thought of leaving...it’s enough to make me spiral. And after what she did…

 

Everything she said and did was wrong. It just made everything worse. Her ways to get me stop just made me need to cut more. That day, crying in the bathroom...I never wanted to die more. If I had had the energy to, I might have. I might have been dead right now, and I would have been content.

 

But then Tony wouldn’t love me.

 

And he’s the closest thing, since Ben, to being like…

 

But May won’t stop. She’s angrier. But that’ll just destroy me more. She says she’ll call the police. And tell them what? That I ran away to be with Iron Man? That he kidnapped me?

 

She raised me. Yes. But I have had so many issues with my mental health, my self-esteem, my self-worth, my body image, everything, since elementary school. It’s not like I’m suddenly like this, it’s just that you are suddenly seeing me like this.

 

But is it my fault? If I had spoken up about my issues earlier, would I have gotten the help I need? If I had been stronger and just not cut, would I still be with May? If I had just left the day I talked to my counselor, I would be free. I wouldn’t be trapped. But I probably would have died out there. And maybe I would have been okay with that.

 

“Peter, this is your decision. Not mine, not May’s, yours. Do you want to stay here, or go back to May’s? You are always welcome here, if you ever change your mind, even at four in the morning, call me. Call Happy. Use Karen, she’ll help you. Call us and we will come get you, no questions, no anger, we will come,” he was looking me dead in the eye, “And if you want to stay there, I understand. We can still stick with your weekly visits if you want. Alright? You get to decide what is best for you and your mental health.”

 

I get to decide?

 

For once, I do get a say in what happens in my life. May can’t take this away.

 

I don’t want to go back...I can’t go back...but I have to, don’t I?

 

“Can I just see her?” Maybe things have changed.

 

“Of course, bud,” though he smiled, it didn’t reach his eyes.

 

 

The second I opened the apartment door, I was immediately yanked into a suffocating hug.

 

“Oh Peter, are you okay?” She cupped my cheek in her hand and it took all my willpower not to slap her hand away.

 

“I’m fine,” it came out emotionless, almost cold. Her small smile withered, but she did not move away. I had told Tony that I needed to do this on my own, that I could do it. But I’m weak. But I need him.

 

“Come on, we have to talk,” and she led me to my own room. It’s crazy how different something can seem when you haven’t seen it in a while. But maybe it’s not the room that’s different.

 

She sat me down on my bed, to which I moved back until I was leaning against the wall, and she sat on the end of the bed. Between me and the door.

 

“What you did was not okay.” How could she have started that sentence any worse? “And I have no idea why you would do such a thing? Do you not think you’re good enough?” Since when have I ever been enough? “Why didn’t you just talk to me?” Did you never notice how broken I am? “Why didn’t you just tell me that you’re struggling?” As if it’s so easy.

 

She looked at me expectantly. She actually thinks I can come up with a calm response to that crap?

 

“I don’t know…” I do know.

 

“Am I not enough for you?” That’s when the tears started. “Did I do this to you?”

 

Is it bad that my first thought was yes.

 

She took a few calming breaths, before getting herself able enough to keep talking at me.

 

“Okay, get up,” my eyes widened, “take your clothes off. I have to check.” That's when my breath fled my lungs. I was frozen. Then she grabbed my wrist and it felt like it did that day. And I flinched, and she didn’t let go. Let go. Let me go! Let me leave! Let me-please, let me go! No! Don’t make me get up! Don’t pull me! Stop!

 

But she didn’t stop.

 

I was standing in front of her then. I should have ran right there, but I couldn’t even find the strength to breathe.

 

“Take them off,” she left no room for argument. Stiffly, I pulled my clothes off again. And she was looking at my body. And she was looking at the cuts.

 

All she sees is cuts, not the broken boy under them.

 

“Why did you do that, Peter?” She almost sounded angry.

 

“I-I don’t, I couldn't…” I couldn’t finish my sentence. There was no more air in my lungs.

 

“Answer me,” she scolded sharply.

 

“I’m sorry…” But I’m not.

 

There was nothing left in me to stop myself from crying.

 

But then I finally got to run out that stupid door. It was like my body got a mind of its own, and it brought me to my only safe place in this stupid apartment. Where else could I run to? I locked myself in the bathroom.

 

“Peter, come out now,” her voice was firm, but I heard her sniffle.

 

I didn’t bring my suit with me in here, I don’t have Karen. I can’t call Mr. Stark.

 

There’s no way to escape.

 

Maybe I’m not so different after all.

Chapter Text

I want to scream. I want to cry. I want to do anything but I can't. I'm trapped and I can't breathe, I- I can't breathe!

 

Knocking. The noises won't stop.

 

Banging. She just won't leave me alone.

 

Yelling. I can't get away.

 

There's no way out.

 

The one time I want to cry, the tears won't come. I want to scream, break everything in this stupid little room, but I can't get myself to get up.

 

Screaming. She won't leave me alone.

 

Banging. The noises surround me, they choke out what little air I have left.

 

I need a way out.

 

I didn't bring my blade with me. I didn't bring my suit into the bathroom with me, so there's so way to get to Karen. So there's no way to get to Tony.

 

But my nails are long enough.

 

I used my thumb nail, not even caring that I was doing it on my wrist, dragging it across my skin. Back and forth. Back and forth, back and forth, again and again. Over the same spot again and again. Going deeper each time.

 

The skin scratched away so easy, it turned red, but not red enough. Not blood red, yet. But the skin around the scratches started turning paler and began to puff up. I stopped for only a second, to feel the skin. It burned at my touch, but it was good. The pale skin felt almost hard, it was bizarre. But I kept going, in a new spot now, about an inch down on my wrist.

 

The pain makes me focus, it helps me breathe. Like when you fly too high and need an oxygen mask. Now I’m just waiting to fall back down. It’ll come.

 

She continued banging on the door, but it was like I could hear it, but it wasn’t killing me anymore.

 

If you scratch yourself enough, will you bleed?

 

I should call Tony, I know I should. But to do that, I have to leave the bathroom. I have to face her. Even the idea of standing up makes me want to throw up, but that won’t come either.

 

I’m trapped, but at least I can breathe.

 

 

“He said he wanted to do this alone,” Tony defended himself as Happy, much slower than usual, drove away from May’s apartment. They had been driving in silence before Tony blurted that out.

 

“And you believed him?” Happy scoffed, incredulously. “And he’s been saying that he’s fine for months and look where that got him.”

 

“Go back.” Happy did not argue the order. Making an extremely illegal u-turn, they went back, very clearly breaking the speed limit.

 

 

Then I could hear another voice yelling. And another. I recognized the two new voices, but I couldn't stop. I haven’t even bled yet.

 

“You can’t just take him again!” She screeched. I dug my nail even harder into my wrist.

 

“He needs help!” Mr. Stark yelled back, and I paused for a moment, listening for his voice again.

 

But May spoke, or rather screamed, next, “and you can give him what he needs?! I raised him! You can’t just swoop in and steal him from me! He’s mine!”

 

“He said he wanted to stay with me. He asked to see you, not to stay with you. Now he’s locked himself in the bathroom and I’m here to take him home,” before she could shoot back an argument, he was at the door.

 

“Hey buddy, do you wanna go home? If you open the door, we can go home. Okay?”

 

“You’ll never be his dad,” venom dripped from her words, knowing that was what would hurt him.

 

“Well you’re not his mom,” he was quick to bite back. “Happy can you…?” He didn't have to finish the sentence.

 

After more shouting, he spoke, voice softened, “okay Underoos, it’s just you and me. Whatever happened, this is not your fault. I won’t be mad at you for anything that happened. I promise.”

 

But he’ll be disappointed. He’ll leave me. But better than him dying.

 

But there’s no other way out. The only way out is to lose the only person I have left.

 

I opened the door.

Chapter Text

The profanities filling my head luckily did not spill out my mouth as I realized that I just chose me over him. Peter fricken Parker over The Tony Stark. I made the wrong decision, again.

 

He let out a breath of relief the second he saw me. Before I let my guard down, I quickly flit my eyes around the room.

 

“She’s not here, buddy,” he attempted to sooth me.

 

She hates me. She’s pissed. She couldn't stand being near me. I messed everything up. She’s right, it is my fault. It’s always my fault. Every time. Why do I always have to ruin everything good?

 

Does that mean I’ll mess everything up with Mr. Stark too?

 

I already did…

 

“I’ll go,” I already started to back away from him.

 

“Kid, where are you going? What do you mean you’ll ‘go’?” He did not even try to mask his concern.

 

“I shouldn't be here. I shouldn’t be anywhere…” the second part was whispered to myself, but by his widened eyes he had to have heard me. I’m just that stupid.

 

“You...where do you need to go? We can get out of here, we can go back to the compound if you want. But I don’t think you should be left alone right now.”

 

I’m scaring him. He’s scared of me? For me? For my well being? But...I’m scaring him. This isn’t right.

 

My head was shaking ‘no’ before my mouth could get the word out. I quickly turned around and ran into my room, straight to the window. I threw it open and launched myself out of it before any fears could stop me. Not even Mr. Starks voice calling after me was enough to stop me.

 

I leaped away from my building and scaled the wall of the building next to it. Part of me hoped Mr. Stark would follow me. Part of me was terrified he wouldn’t. 

 

Where can I even go? I’ll die out here on my own. But if I’ll die anyway…

 

I’ve thought about it more times than I care to admit. I quickly realized that overdosing just wouldn’t work, there’s way to big a chance that I’ll mess it up somehow. Same with trying to cut myself to death. When I cut before, I was never trying to die. But no one understands that. If I was trying to die, I would have gone on my wrist, it’s easier to hit the vein that way. I would have gone so much deeper, and I would have gone vertical. Vertical is suicide, horizontal is cutting. I only ever went horizontal. I wanted to try to live. Maybe that was stupid.

 

Being quick about it is probably right. It’s stupid, but I don’t remember how to tie a noose. I don’t really feel like trying to get a gun, stabbing myself is just messy and I don’t want that. So jumping then...yeah. That’s easier. But I have to get high enough.

 

There’s not too many buildings were I am certain that would kill me with my enhancements. The one building I know I could die from is the Avengers building...but that would be idiotic. Not even I am that stupid.

 

A bridge could work. Even if I survive the fall, the water should do it. I’ve always been afraid of drowning, it’s how I’ve always felt. Like my mind is trying to drown me. That it is filling my lungs with the weight of my flaws, choking me. Suffocating me.

 

That day I first went after the Vulture, and he dropped me in the lake, for a moment I didn’t fight it. I let the water fill me, and it almost felt right. But Mr. Stark saved me...wait, no. It wasn’t him. It was a robot. He wasn’t there. Will he be here this time?

 

The optimistic part of me, that tiny little part, it thinks Mr. Stark is coming after me. And if that part is right, then I have to move faster. I have to get to the bridge. Because if he gets to me first...that’ll be so much worse…

 

I didn’t write a note…

 

A small part of my mind reminded me. But who would even care anyway?

 

Mr. Stark would.

 

No. He wouldn’t. He’s a superhero, he’s everything and I am nothing. I’m just a broken little kid from Queens. He’ll forget about me soon enough. It’s better that way.

 

I thought I heard thrusters in the distance, but it was probably just that little part of me that still had hope somehow.

 

 

Every single curse Tony knew escaped his mouth as Peter flung himself out his bedroom window. He cursed himself for not bringing a suit as he called one, trying to run after Peter. Even when he screamed Peter’s name, his kid never turned around.

 

His suit could not have come slower, even when it in reality only took a few minutes.

 

 

The bridge was shorter than I had hoped. But if I let myself, it’ll work. And everything will be over. And I can’t hurt anyone anymore.

 

If I jump, I won’t fly. I’ll fall. And if the fall won’t kill me, the drowning will. It just works out so well.

 

I am just Peter Parker. Nothing more, everything less. I am just a broken little boy from Queens. A boy in which everyone he loved left. Either by death, or they just couldn’t handle him anymore.

 

I am just Peter Parker. I am broken. I am stupid. I am ugly. I am ruinous. I am a mistake. I am nothing.

 

I am just Peter Parker. I do not belong here.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And the wind just feels so good on my face. There’s a slight bite of cold and maybe I’ll freeze down there.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And stepping out to the very edge of the bride was not enough. One more inch and I would fall, and that sounds right.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And I closed my eyes.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And I jumped.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And I didn’t fly.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And the pain hit me. I felt my broken self crack.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And the impact did not kill me. So I will wait for everything else to.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And I am going to drown here. Finally.

 

I am just Peter Parker.

 

I am just nothing.

 

 

Even at its max, his suit just would not fly fast enough. Even while flying after his kid, all Tony could see was the fear in his eyes, all he could hear was his kids last words to him running through his head again and again like a broken record, all he could think about was how could he have failed his kid this much?

 

No matter how many nightmares Tony has had about losing Peter, nothing could have prepared him for the sight before him. He never slowed down, but he couldn't stop Peter from jumping. He couldn’t catch him. There will never be a sound that could ever haunt him more than the sickening shatter the kids body made when he hit the water. Like glass hitting concrete.

 

And even when the boy hit the water, he didn’t move. He didn’t try to swim. Everything felt in slow motion.

 

Diving into the water. Getting his metal covered hands around the boy which he loves like his own son. Pulling his kid out of the freezing water. He tried to move then, fight him off. But his limbs wouldn’t work. Flying faster. Flying up. Flying as fast as his suit would go to the Compound, knowing that was the only place that could save him. Cursing himself for selling the tower with such a close by medbay. Praying to whatever God that would listen to please just save him.

 

 

I heard myself break again, but it wasn’t enough. It’s never enough. I allowed myself to stay still as I sunk beneath the surface. Then the water, god the water.

 

The first breath in made me choke. I tried to cough but under the waves, it only pulled more inside me. I could feel myself suffocating. Every breath burning me alive. But my body started to freeze. My limbed ached and why won’t the pain just stop?

 

I could feel the darkness taking over. Pulling me, asking me to go deeper. So I did. I let myself fall. And as I started to feel blissfully numb, I faintly heard something. And then there were cold arms around my waist. They were pulling me away from the eternal sleep I crave so deeply. I tried to push them away but my limbs wouldn’t obey. My mind got slower, and it was like it was finally stopping. So I stopped trying. And I felt that darkness come back.

 

 

He didn’t put a single thought into damage control as he burst into the medbay upstate. He already wasted too much time.

 

“Help! Help! He needs help!” The screams teared from his raw throat as he landed. It took every spec of his self-control to not blast the doctors trying to pry Peter from his fingers.

 

“Stark, I’m sorry, but you need to let him go,” and at that statement he was ready to kill every other person in that room. But he needed them to save the kid he failed. The kid he let fall. The kid he didn’t catch. The kid he needed.

 

The doctors and nurses immediately got to work. There was just too much to be done and too little time. Tony had to will himself not to throw up when the doctors started noting everything wrong with the kid. Then they took him. He needed surgery and he couldn’t get in their way. But that didn’t stop him from trying to follow them anyway.

 

“Mr. Stark-” a nurse began only for Tony to cut her off.

 

“Don’t you dare call me that!” He seethed.

 

“You need to stay back, you can’t get in their way. If you want what’s best for the kid, then you’ll leave it to us,” she tried her best to hold him back.

 

“Fine,” the rage in his voice was enough to shake her to her core. The second the nurse went into the operating room, he demanded Friday to call Dr. Cho and Dr. Strange. If he couldn't do anything for his kid at that second he would make sure that he got the best doctors there are to help him in the meantime.

 

Dr. Strange was first to arrive, coming through a portal, immediately going into the operating room too, not bothering a word to Tony. The only thing he did before he went in was opening another portal for Dr. Cho to come through, as Friday had told him it was necessary. Even with the two best doctors Tony knew trying to put his kid back together, it did almost nothing to comfort him.

 

 

“Where’s the kid?!” Happy’s voice was more frantic than Tony had ever heard it before. But he was not surprised that Friday had called and informed him on what happened.

 

“Still in surgery,” though his voice was void of emotion, the tears on Tony’s cheeks threw any doubts away.

 

“What happened?” He demanded, going over to stand in front of his boss.

 

“He jumped,” it just sounded wrong to hear Tony Stark’s voice crack. But it did. And he put his hands over his face, pressing his fingers into his eyes attempting to force the tears to stay in. He just could not cry here, not in front of Happy.

 

“He did what?” There was a sickening hollowness to Happy's voice.

 

“He-he just-I-oh god ,” he couldn’t say it again. Just once was too much for one lifetime. He scrubbed a hand over his face, wiping any stray tears away. “I failed him. He jumped and I wasn’t in time to catch him.”

 

“You couldn't have-” Happy tried.

 

“What? What, Happy? He needed me, and I wasn’t there. I was the one he got past to get out the window. I was the one who didn’t think to bring a suit with me. I was the one who wasn’t fast enough.”

 

Happy could not come up with a counter argument. And so they sat. They waited and no one came to tell them everything would be okay because it wouldn’t.

 

After who knows how long, Happy asked a very important question, “should we tell May? She has a right to know.”

 

“What the kid doesn’t need is more drama to go down with May the second he wakes up. We’ll ask. Once he’s awake. We’ll ask what he needs.” He couldn't dare say the word if. He couldn't dare let himself think like that.

 

Chapter Text

“He’s really lucky-” that was the wrong way for Dr. Strange to start the sentence.

 

“Lucky?! He’s lucky?! He jumped off a bridge, Strange!” It did not take much for Tony to snap.

 

“What I was about to say,” he did not even try to hide his annoyance, “is that he is lucky he landed in the position he did. By some miracle he did not rupture any internal organs or shatter his skull. But both of his legs are completely shattered, and he has a severe concussion. But with a body like his he should have the concussion healed up in at most a week, and the legs should be out of the casts in less than a month.”

 

Tony had to sit down, running a hand through his already tangled hair, taking in everything he just heard. “But, but he’ll be okay, right?”

 

At hearing Tony’s terrified tone, Stephen took a softer voice with hw response, “physically yes. But you’re the one that has to help him mentally and emotionally.” When Tony’s eyes widened up at him, he continued, “he only wants you, Tony.”

 

“He’s awake?” Tony stood up then, already moving towards the door to Peter’s hospital room.

 

“No, not yet. What I mean, is…I just know. And so do you. It’s clear how you feel about him,” reaching a hand out and stopping Tony from going in.

 

“And how is that?” He scoffed, still staring at the door.

 

“Like a son,” Stephen said it plain and simple, just an obvious fact to him.

 

He did not confirm or deny the statement, but they both knew the answer, “Can I go in now, or what?”

 

Knowing he would go in regardless of his answer, the doctor just stepped out of his way, with only a quick warning, “just don’t talk above a low whisper.”

 

After grumbling an ‘obviously’ under his breath, he finally got to see his kid.

 

 

Darkness. An abyss of blackness…it’s beautiful. Wait, no. It’s not blackness or even darkness, it’s nothingness. It is bliss. I could float off into it for eternity and everything would be okay.

 

But then the noises started coming back. But they sounded like I was still underwater. But, didn’t he take me out of the water? But after that...I closed my eyes. All that came was the nothingness surrounding me. Am I dead? Did I finally do something right?

 

The sounds were foggy and unclear, I tried to zone them out, get lost into the perfect abyss. But they insisted on annoying me. They were trying to bring me back. But I don’t want to come back. Please don’t make me.

 

Then it was a voice. I know that voice. It’s a good voice. Would my spidey sense still work in the nothingness? Either way, it’s not sounding. But that voice won’t stop.

 

In a place so perfectly silent, it makes all these sound so amplified. It’s like that voice is screaming at me. I want it to go away, I need it to go away, but it won’t.

 

It’s not so much nothingness anymore, and I hate myself for it. Did I ruin this too?

 

But then the voice started to become less blurred and foggy.

 

“Peter.”

 

The voice is saying my name. They’re calling me. I tried to go back into my abyss. But they wouldn’t just quit it.

 

“Come back.”

 

What will happen if I do? Will they hate me too? Will they leave me? Why would someone want me back?

 

“I need you.”

 

Someone...needs me? Me? Why would anyone need me?

 

“Pete…”

 

That voice. It’s so familiar…

 

“Kid...I love you...come back to me.”

 

That's when I tried to open my eyes. It came as more as a twitch, but it was something.

 

“Come on Pete, you got it. Give it another try, please.”

 

Tony Stark never says please.

 

Then my eyes twitched, but I could see the amount of light through my eyelids. Too much. Not dark enough.

 

I didn’t mean to let the whine that came out of my mouth to actually sound, but…

 

“Friday, turn the lights to Sensory Overload Mode. One more try, buddy, come on. I want to see your big puppy eyes.

 

My eyelids lifted slowly, carefully. I couldn’t make anything out at first.

 

“Dad…” I whispered, when his face came into focus.

 

Then everything else hit me at once. The memories, the pain, the realizations. And I clenched my eyes shut the second after, trying to raise my hands to cover them.

 

I finally attempted suicide. And I failed.

 

Even with my eyes closed as tight as I can, the tears leaked out anyway. That insistent beeping that somehow I didn't register until now began picking up speed.

 

“Hey, buddy, you're going to be alright,” he tried and failed to calm me down. And that beeping would not just shut up, it's like little daggers stabbing me repeatedly in the head.

 

But I'm not alright. I never have been and I never will be. I'm so messed up and broken and ruinous and worthless and...and I failed. I couldn't even get it right, I couldn't even kill myself right. How stupid do I have to be to fail that?

 

Why won't all these noises go away?

 

I kept my eyes tightly shut, but my breathing became quicker. I just need to stop breathing and then I can go back. I can go back into the nothingness where I belong and everything will be okay.

 

“Kid, breathe with me, in...out...in, come on kid, out, in...you have to breathe Peter,” his voice is getting more frantic but it needs to go away. He needs to go away.

 

I know what he's doing. He's trying to make me live, that thought alone made me release a sob. I can't stop crying and I should, I need to.

 

But then I felt his arms around me. He was hugging me. He initiated a hug with me and that's all I ever wanted.

 

But now what do I want?

 

I want the nothingness, I want everything to stop, I want the noises to go away. I want to not be me, I want to go back.

Chapter Text

I tried everything I could sitting in that stupid hospital bed, but I can’t just stop feeling. I’ve trained myself to go numb, it’s better that way. I can’t upset May that way. But May’s not here, is she?

 

I shouldn’t feel relieved at that fact.

 

I tried to find my voice but he probably wouldn’t hear me anyway, as my tears would not stop and we were still in the tight embrace.

 

“Where-where’s May?” My voice sounded way too small and scared to be my own.

 

“Do you want her here?” He asked back, trying to pull back in order to look my in the eye. But I held him close, not yet ready to let him go.

 

I let a few more tears fall as I shook my head into his chest.

 

I just...I can’t do it.. I can’t see her again. Not now. I can’t. She’ll be so upset and mad and-and disappointed. She’s already been upset enough. I broke her trust. Again. She’ll never trust me again and it’s my fault. It’s my fault. It’s always my fault. My fault. My fault. My fault.

 

“That’s okay,” he moved one of his hands up to run his fingers through my hair, “that’s okay, Pete. You don’t have to want to see her. You have the right to not want to be with her.”

 

I’m awful. I’m a horrible person. I need to stop crying. I need to stop feeling. But it’s not working. Too much of me wants to soak in his warmth. To never let go again.

 

After what felt like forever, my tears dried and we pulled back. And I was alright with it. Mostly.

 

I didn’t tell him, but the longer I was awake, and especially after my breakdown, the pain in my head was only increasing. But I couldn't hide it much longer as a bullet of pain shot through my skull, causing an involuntary whine to escape my lips.

 

He immediately softened his volume to almost inaudible, “you in pain, Underoos?” I went to nod my head, but it only amplified my hurt.

 

Without getting off my bed, he leaned over and hit the call nurse button. While he was distracted I took the time to actually look over my body and see the damage I caused. Though there was a blanket over my legs, I felt the stiff casts over them. Thankfully they must have put me on something insanely strong in order to numb my legs that much.

 

Numbness. I need the numbness. If I’m numb maybe then I won’t hurt anyone anymore. Then I won’t be hurt anymore.

 

Every time I let myself feel, something happens. I hurt people, I get in trouble, I get yelled at, I get hurt. My stupid feelings caused that. If I just numbed myself, maybe I wouldn’t have jumped.

 

If I’m numb enough maybe I can go back to the nothingness.

 

I’m losing my mind, aren’t I?

 

“Hello, Peter. How are you feeling?” It was Dr. Strange that addressed me first, even though both him and Dr. Cho came into the room.

 

Like death. But I'm not that lucky.

 

“Fine,” I mumbled, looking at my lap.

 

“Now the real answer?” Dr. Cho prodded. “We are only trying to help you, Peter. But that'll be a lot harder if you don't tell us the truth.

 

What am I supposed to say?

 

“It hurts…” even at a whisper, my voice still broke.

 

“What exactly hurts?” Dr. Strange stepped forward, I didn't mean to shrink back in on myself. But I couldn't help it.

 

I take up too much space. I don't deserve to take up so much room. How can I be such a nothing but take up so much space?

 

“Head,” I answered simply, still refusing to meet their eyes.

 

“Okay, we can fix that,” he sounded so confident.

 

But they can't fix the rest of me. I'm too much of a mess. I'm too broken.

 

They upped my dose, and they must have gave me something to make me sleep again because the next thing I knew I was yawning. And then my eyes refused to stay open and I didn't try to force them to.

 

I relished in the fact that I would be submerged back into my nothingness.

 

 

“How do I help him?” As soon as Peter was asleep, though painfully, Tony stepped out into the hall with the doctors. He quickly motioned Happy over from the waiting area to sit with the kid while they talked. Even if he's asleep, it would be cruel to leave him alone.

 

“Physically, make sure he rests and actually tells someone if he's in pain. But mentally… he needs to get help. As in professional help,” Dr. Cho answered, not saying anything Tony didn't already know.

 

“That would imply Peter would actually talk to a therapist. The kid barely even talks to me,” he ran another hand down his face, trying so hard to not break his confident mask again.

 

“So start there. Help him get more comfortable with you. And then talk to him about seeing a therapist. Take this one step at a time,” Dr. Cho put a comforting hand on his shoulder.

 

“Listening and being there for him can go a long way. I know you'll do what's right, Tony,” Dr. Strange finally added to the conversation.

 

Though he didn't say it, Tony could not get the fears out of his head. The fears on if they will have enough time to take it only one step at a time. All the what if’s would not stop storming through his head, tearing away his sanity.

 

“Thank you,” he let out a breath before turning back to sit next to Peter again. But he paused when he saw Happy sitting there, apologizing to the kid.

 

“Kid...I'm-I’m so sorry I didn't listen to you. That I ignored the signs. That I didn't try to help you more,” he let out a shakier breath, “but I'll do better now. I'll listen to you no matter how annoyed I may get. And I'll be there for you. Whenever you need me.”

 

Tony had never seen Happy cry before.

Chapter Text

The next time consciousness started to steal me back, I refused to open my eyes. I refused to let it win.

 

But I could still hear the heart monitor, and the beeping was picking up its pace.

 

“Kid, I know you're awake. You can open your eyes, no one's gonna hurt you,” Tony's soft voice barely sounded over the unending beeping.

 

I groaned as I opened my eyes. I let consciousness win.

 

“Hey buddy, how do you feel?” He looked so genuine. How?

 

I had to bite my lip to keep from saying ‘fine’. “It doesn't hurt as much,” I decided on saying. At least physically it hurts less. Will the emotional pain ever cease? Will it ever even improve? It would be a surprise to me if it could.

 

“That's good. That's really good,” and he smiled so big. I couldn't stand looking at him so happy when I'm so...like me.

 

“What happens now?” I asked, my voice taking that same quietness it’s adopted recently.

 

He took a breath, “well, we wait for your legs and head to heal. The head should be good in a few days. The legs, however, will take a little longer.”

 

What about everything else? That's what really matters.

 

But I don't matter. So does my mental health and stability?

 

The fact that I question it should be my answer.

 

But should it?

 

Yes.

 

I...I really am going to lose my mind, aren't I?

 

“What are you thinking, Underoos?” He asked gently, his eyes too soft to look at the likes of me.

 

I shrugged.

 

“Kid…” he took on a more somber tone, “you do know that you can always talk to me, about anything. Anything and everything ranging from how your day was, to what you're thinking, to how to do something. Literally anything and I won't be upset.”

 

But how do I tell him that I crave the nothingness? That I only know how to cope in the ‘least healthy’ ways? That I comfort myself in the fact that I could just end it? That I'm terrified that if I try, I'll just fail again? I'll hurt everyone again and again and I don't deserve them and this sucks but there's no way out. There's no way to escape and I need to, I need to but there's no way. How can I escape when everyone is standing in front of the door? When everyone won't let me do what I need to survive? What am I supposed to do next? Tell me. I need to know. I need to-

 

“Hey, hey, breathe with me. In and out. Here, feel my heartbeat. Yeah, that's it, listen to that. Follow what I do, in...out...in, yeah that's it, out...come on Pete, in...out, perfect...in….out...just a few more...in...out...in...out. There.”

 

How can he stay through my panics? How can he not see me as I am? As a worthless piece of crap that doesn't even deserve to be hated by him, let alone…

 

No. That had to have been a lie. It has to. There's no way…

 

But he said he would never lie to me.

 

But...he said a lot of things.

 

“Hey kid,” I recognized the voice at the first word. But I was not prepared to look up at Happy and see his eyes all red and puffy.

 

Did...did I cause that?

 

But he never seemed to...he never seemed to like me. He apologized, yeah, but this… crying over me ? That's...that's impossible.

 

But then I looked back at my Da-Mr. Stark, and I noticed his eyes matched Happy’s. How did I not notice that before?

 

“Hey-hi, Happy,” I didn't dare look back at his puffy eyes. My eyes belong looking down.

 

He opened and closed his mouth a couple times, seemingly unsure what to say next. And it's not like I should start up another conversation. I've already said too much.

 

Luckily we were saved by Dr. Strange walking into the room.

 

“Hello, Peter, I’m just here to check back over everything and make sure it's all how it should be.”

 

And how is that?

 

He gently lifted the blanket covering my broken body and looked at my legs. This is when I finally got a chance to see the damage. They looked so... fragile. And I hate them for it.

 

I didn't bother paying attention to everything else he did. But it could not be over quick enough. He said something about everything looking good, which I took as a lie, and I asked no questions before he left.

 

What happens next? That question kept echoing through my head again and again. What do you do once you've ruined your entire life?

 

And what about May? I mean, I would love to just not tell her about everything. About what I did. Or, rather, attempted to do. But is that right?

 

But after everything she did to me...I should be allowed to keep this from her. She doesn't deserve to see that part of me too. Not after she reacted to everything else. That would just be stupid of me. I'm stupid. So, so, stupid. But I know a little better now.

 

But what am I supposed to do? Just suffer more? Let my mental stability completely diminish? Try to kill myself again? That… that just...I don't even know. I'm not allowed to cut anymore, which just, that takes away yet another of my ways to cope. And going numb, it's wonderful when I'm feeling all the bad things. But those rare times when I could feel the good things, the numbness can take it away. But what else is there to do?

 

I can't just talk to Mr. Stark. No. I can't put this on him. I can't do that to him. It's not like I can talk to Happy either. And talking to May?… I'd rather run away and starve to death.

Chapter Text

Tony never told Peter that he made sure that someone was always at his bedside. He never told Peter that he has not cried so much in...has he ever cried this much? He didn’t tell Peter that when he is unconscious he holds his hand and begs him to hold on. He never told him that that was the first time he’s ever seen Happy cry. That’s he’s never seen Happy beg for forgiveness before.

 

Happy never told Peter that for the first time, he didn’t care that someone saw him cry. He never told Peter that he’s been having nightmares about him committing suicide. That he makes Tony give him daily updates if he’s not there. And that he’s rarely ever not there.

 

Steven Strange never told Peter that he’s never seen Stark so scared. He’s never seen Stark like this. So terrified for his child. That he, if he did not know better, would think that Peter is Tony’s biological son. That they practically are father and son.

 

Helen Cho never told Peter that she has to check on Tony to make sure he isn’t passing out. That she found out from Friday that Tony’s heart actually fluttered when he found out what happened to Peter. That she was worried she would have to knock out Tony to make him sleep.

 

Tony never told Peter that he brags about him to Pepper every time they talk. That the way he talks about him is like a proud father talking about his son. That he doesn't mind when Pepper jokes about Peter being his son. That Peter being his son… just sounds right.

 

Peter will never know how many nights Tony can’t sleep because he’s either too desperate to stay by his side or too terrified to. Peter will never know that Tony has been having nightmares of Peter dying since the battle at the airport.

 

He never heard any of that.

 

They never told Peter the specifics.

 

He’ll never know how much he is loved.

 

And maybe that’s the problem.

 

 

“Tony,” she let out a breath of relief once seeing him.

 

“Pepper? What? What are you doing here?” He stood up, not bothering to let go of Peter’s hand while he slept.

 

“I heard what happened,” once seeing his face pale, she quickly amended her statement, “I heard that Peter is in the hospital and that you refuse to take care of yourself.”

 

“So you don't know what...what happened to cause him to be in the hospital?” He couldn't help but look over at Peter and think how he would react if he knew Pepper found out. He’s never even met Pepper in person before.

 

“No,” she answered simply.

 

“It's not my story to tell. But I appreciate you coming, Pep,” he reluctantly let go of Peter’s hand in order to go over and hug his fiancé. “But I'll talk to him,” he added on after embracing.

 

 

It's really weird. It's like a dream, that's the best way I can think of to explain it. Like I'm watching myself going through the motions. I’m not really living if it feels like this, right? It's like I have some idea on what is happening, but I'm not really living it.

 

It's different than being numb, this is a whole other level. I'm not even sure what caused it. My body doesn't feel real. Like I try to make it do something and it tries, but it doesn't work out the way I thought it would. And it's not like the numbness in the fact were, yes I can't feel, but this is like an unusual calmness. In every way I think of it, it is like I'm dreaming.

 

But this is real life? Maybe? Mr. Stark is here. And he's talking, but it sounds like he's talking through water.

 

“I want to talk to you about something.”

 

I know I should be panicking. If I wasn't so gone I would be panicking. But I tried to nod, I'm not sure if I did. I know that this isn't right, but I don't know how to stop it.

 

Do I want to?

 

My body feels like it's floating, kind of like in the blissful nothingness. But my body is here. Tony is still talking. Something about Pepper. I should be terrified. But all I feel is my body floating and my mind in that eerie calmness.

 

I vaguely remembered something I read about coming back when you're floating off. It was about the senses, noting everything you see, touch, hear and so on.

 

I see Tony. I see my hands. My hand is scratching at my arm but I can't feel it. I know I should, it's a weird sensation. I see Tony’s hand grabbing my hand. I try to think about how it should feel. But that's not what I feel. I see him frown. I hear him talking but his words are not really making sense to me.

 

I know this isn't right but I don't really feel like trying to come back.

 

He was still talking, and talking, and talking, but I wasn't sure how to respond. How do I talk to him? What facial expressions am I supposed to make? I'm not even sure what expression I am making.

 

Then I saw him grab me by the shoulders. Speaking. Speaking. Speaking. I should be able to understand it.

 

“Can you feel?” What is his tone?

 

No. Not really. I should be trying to not float off. But I don’t know how? Maybe this will just fade away?

 

Then I saw Pepper Potts in the doorway. She was smiling. I tried to tell my brain to tell my mouth to smile back, but I don't think it worked. I know I know she is strong and an icon and beautiful but no real thoughts are coming to my brain, let alone words.

 

I should be scared. But I'm not. I know I should be though. But just because I know something doesn't mean I feel it. Maybe I'm confused. I'm just...curious I guess. As to why I feel like this. And why it is happening.

 

“Hi, Peter,” her muddled voice came through.

 

“Hi,” I got out somehow. I don’t know if I said that right, how loud I was, or what tone I had.

 

“Pepper, can I talk to you for a sec?” He got up, but he looked back at me before he left. I should be upset. I should be scared. But I'm not.

 

And I don't know how to stop it.

Chapter Text

It's a strange feeling, to say the least. It's kind of like my body is filled with balloons. They grow so big and take up so much room that there's not enough room for anything else. It's just the voids that the balloons make. They are colorful and bright and they look so harmless. But they keep growing until I just float away.

 

But then they shrunk. They became smaller, slowly, more room for emotion and thoughts and feelings. They did not pop. I'm glad the balloons did not pop because it would be like being thrown into freezing water. I wouldn't be ready for it.

 

It would be like when the Vulture dropped me in the lake. It was so cold and even if I wanted to I wouldn't have even able to swim. It hurt so bad before I even got close to being numb.

 

 

What?” Though they both knew that Tony would never hurt Pepper, that did not stop how dangerous his voice sounded.

 

“I’m sorry Tony but-” but he didn’t let her finish.

 

“No. Pepper, no. I’m not leaving him,” he left no room for argument, yet she continued.

 

“It’s just a night Tony,” she softened her voice.

 

That did not lesson his defiance, “And the last time I wasn’t there for him he tried to...I’m not leaving him.”

 

She placed her hands on his shoulders, “You can’t always be here…”

 

“I will for as long as I can.”

 

“Fine, Tony. But there will be a time, sooner than you’ll like, that you’ll have to go.”

 

“I know.”

 

 

That was the moment in which I felt all the balloons pop. All the pain and fear and anxiety and pain and pain and pain and I can’t escape I can’t I can’t I can’t.

 

With my stupid legs I can’t get up. Though my head doesn’t hurt at all anymore. I physically can’t even escape. There’s no way out. There never was, was there?

 

Even in a ‘safe place’ I'm not safe. I never am. There's nothing I can do.

 

I'm trapped. I can't do anything.

 

Well...one thing.

 

“Friday?” I asked, meekly.

 

“Yes, Master Parker?” Her voice was so calm and I hated her for it.

 

“Where's Tony?”

 

“He is talking to Miss Potts. Would you like me to alert him?”

 

Now or never, right?

 

“Yeah…”

 

 

“Master Stark,” Friday interrupted Tony and Pepper’s talk.

 

“Yeah Fri?” He couldn't keep the frustration out of his words.

 

“Master Parker requests your presence.”

 

That's all she had to say for him to start running down the hall.

 

 

Waiting. Waiting. Waiting. It felt like an eternity. But he came. He came.

 

I almost broke out into a smile. But I think I’m too broken to do that. If I push it, I’ll shatter again.

 

“Hey, Pete, how are you feeling?” He tries not to ask yes or no questions anymore because he already knows the answer.

 

“I’m fine.” I’m doing a little better since you’re here.

 

“How are you really feeling?” He lowered his voice, as he sat on the bed next to me. I had been moved to my bedroom to help me ‘be more comfortable’, but I still can’t get up on my own yet.

 

I shrugged, even though I know I’m not supposed to.

 

“What do you want to do?” He asked in such a gentle voice.

 

“Can we just...sit here?” I probably look like a scared puppy.

 

“Of course, kid,” he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me close. And it was nice.

 

But then his phone buzzed. And reality reminded me that I don’t deserve comfort. But he didn’t pick it up. I watched him. But he didn’t even twitch. But then it buzzed again, and he did open it. But he quickly put it away. It’s Pepper. She needs him. He’ll choose her. He’ll always choose her. That’s how it’s meant to be. That’s reality.

 

I looked up at him, and he answered my unsaid question.

 

“I’m here. I’m staying here, this is our time.” But I know that’s not reality.

 

His phone buzzed again. And he didn’t open it. Then again. And he didn’t open it.

 

Then Friday spoke up, “Miss Potts requests you, Boss.”

 

He looked apologetic and maybe that’s what hurt me even more, “I’m sorry Pete. She’s scaring me, I have to check on her.”

 

I watched him leave. I waited until I couldn’t hear his footsteps anymore.

 

That’s when I broke. Again. Always again. That’s reality. I let out a sob. It was ugly and broken and messed up and so... me.

 

I let my tears fall freely as I laid down. And I didn’t plan on getting up.

 

Never.

 

The answer is always never and I am an idiot to think differently.

Chapter Text

I don’t care how long I laid there. I don't care how long I cried for. But he came back. And I wiped my tears and I smiled at him. It wasn’t real. It’s never real. I can’t remember the last time it was real.

 

He said he would always be here for me. He said he would never leave me. But he chose her. He should. That’s how it’s meant to be. But that doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt.

 

“Hey kid, sorry about that,” he smiled back at me. He doesn’t even notice that I’ve been crying.

 

Though it tasted like acid in my mouth, I asked, “is Miss Potts okay?”

 

“Just call her Pepper,” he rolled his eyes fondly at me, “and yeah. She just needed some help with something.” But I needed you too.

 

But that’s selfish. I’m selfish.

 

I need to leave.

 

“When can I get up?” That took him by surprise.

 

“Soon. Stephen-Dr. Strange said in about a week you should bet your casts off.” But that’s not enough.

 

“Then what? I haven’t been to school in...I’m not even sure how long. And I can’t stay here, and-“ he was quick to stop me.

 

“Who says you can’t stay here?” He looked so genuinely confused and it made me want to scream, or maybe cry. It’s so obvious.

 

“I’m not your kid,” I was about to continue but the look of horrifying pain that crossed his face made me shut up. Though it’s a fact we both know, he looked like I just hit him across the face. I hurt him again. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry I shouldn't have said that. This is why I have to go. I can’t stay here. I just mess everything up and I hurt you and I hurt you and I cause way more trouble than I’m worth.”

 

“Kid, you are worth more than I could ever give you.” You could let me die.

 

“I don’t belong here,” I just wouldn’t shut up even though I know it’s better to talk less because it’s better to not say anything than to say too much and hurt people or worse, to say something I’ll regret.

 

“Where do you belong?” He asked, his voice just above a whisper. He wouldn’t look at me. I don’t deserve his gaze.

 

I don’t really deserve to die, do I? I deserve to suffer.

 

I don’t belong here, I don’t belong at Aunt May’s, I don’t belong anywhere. I belong dead in a grave, but he won’t let that happen. Why won’t he let that happen?

 

Wait. He has to leave? Doesn’t he? Is to why he’s here?

 

“You’re going to leave me. And I’m going to be alone again. I-” I had to look up to keep the tears from falling. I’m so weak. “It’s better for me to not get so attached when I’m just going to lose you.”

 

 

There was nothing that could prepare Tony for Peter’s words. Any of them.

 

“Okay, Peter, I need to know you're listening. Come on, can you make eye contact with me?” he sat right next to him, and put his fingers under his chin to lift his head to finally meet Tony’s eyes, “yes, it is true that I have to leave sometimes. But I always come back. Always. And when I’m gone, I promise that you will never be alone again. The team, they’re my family, and now they’re yours. I know you met most of them back at the airport, but you don’t really know any of them but me and Happy. But I can help you start to. Okay, before you start to worry, we can start small. Just meet one of them if you want to. Is there anyone on the team you want to meet?”

 

After a moment of pondering he finally answered with that tiny voice, “I’d like to meet Captain America again.”

 

“Of course you would,” though I rolled my eyes at him I couldn't help but to smile.

 

But of course his mind has to put doubts in everything, “but I don’t think Mr. Wilson or Sergeant Barnes like me.”

 

“They just don’t know you. But I promise you everyone will love you. It’s not like they’re scary, well Nat is but that’s a different kind of scary. And Wanda’s not even that much older than you.” He tried to assure the boy. “And Kid? Can you quit it with all these formal titles. My name is Tony, just call me that.”

 

“Okay Mr...Tony…” somehow he managed to smile and wince at the same time. That was the first real smile Tony had seen out of his kid in way too long.

 

“How about when you're out of the casts I’ll help you meet Steve?”

 

“Okay, Tony.” And Tony ruffled his hair in response to that.

 

Chapter Text

It was a relatively quick recovery, to the surprise of the doctors. Even when they finally took the casts off, they expected to have to do physical therapy, but my legs look like nothing had happened to them. As if I never jumped. Though I was a bit wobbly on my legs at first, and needed some support from Mr. St-from Tony, I got it. I’m on my feet again. My body is finally fine.

 

But the one good thing about the broken legs is that if I jostled them a little, they would hurt. It was a lot easier to get that pain. It’ll be a lot more difficult now.

 

Now I get to meet Captain America. I mean, I didn’t have a terrible first impression. But I did steal his shield. But he punched me in the face. That hurt. But I think I impressed him. A little. Maybe.

 

 

“Okay Steve, the thing about Peter is...he gets really scared and insecure. So just be you’re kind, heroic, self to him. We can’t let him get the idea that you don’t like him,” Tony was being more serious than Steve had ever seen him.

 

“Why wouldn't I like him?” Steve asked, genuinely wondering.

 

“Well after the airport-” Steve cut him off to Tony’s frustration.

 

“Wait, he's Spider-Man right?” At Tony’s nod, he continued, “Why would he think I don't like him, I'm the one that punched him.”

 

Tony stopped abruptly, turning to stand in front of Steve, “wait. You punched my kid?” Even Steve had to take a double take when he heard the fierce protectiveness in Tony’s voice.

 

“It was just enough to knock him down, he wasn't hurt,” he raised his hands in submission.

 

“If you hurt him I would kill you,” the scary thing was, was that he sounded serious. But he quickly whipped back around and marched straight to Peter's room, not bothering to wait for the Captain.

Chapter Text

I’m about to meet Captain America. I’m about to meet The Captain America. I mean, I’ve already met him once, but that was at the airport and I stole his shield. And what if he hates me for fighting him, for taking Tony’s side? What if-

 

But my thoughts got cut short when Tony barged into my room. Though he smiled at me when he came in, I could see how tense he is. But then I heard the other footsteps coming. Captain America is coming to my room. Captain America is coming here right now!

 

“Kid I would like to introduce you to Steve,” Tony announced as soon as The Captain America entered my room, though it did sound like forced enthusiasm.

 

“Hey-Hi Mr Captain America, sir! I-I’m a big fan! Oh-I-I already told you that last time didn’t I? Sorry, I’m sorry, I’ll shut up now.” I’m so stupid.

 

“Hello Peter,” he greeted me with a kind smile, “but just call me Steve.”

 

“Yes sir-Steve. Yes, Steve,” I rapidly nodded my head.

 

“Oh come on!” Tony exclaimed exasperatedly. “It took a year to get you to call me Tony but Steve only has to ask you once!”

 

Stupid, stupid, stupid, I’m so stupid!

 

“He likes me better,” Steve smirked, trying to dissolve any left over awkwardness. As if I’m not already a super awkward person. Yet, there’s definitely some tension between the two heroes. 

 

“Yeah whatever, I’ll leave you to it,” Tony pointedly looked at Steve, something was being said in that glare and I couldn’t figure out what, “tell Friday to get me if you need anything,” that time he looked at me, his voice softening.

 

 

I nodded, watching Tony walk out of the room. Just me and Steve left. What am I supposed to say to The Steve Rogers?

 

He took his time sitting down in my desk chair and settling himself. I quickly cast my eyes down before he could feel my stare, that would be so awkward.

 

“-ter? Peter? Hey, are you alright?” I just zoned out in front of Captain America.

 

“I’m sorry, I’m sorry I zoned out, I didn’t mean to, I’m sorry,” I’m always so quick to apologize.

 

“It’s alright, are you okay?” He seemed so worried and I don’t understand.

 

“I’m fine!” I responded too strongly. Always too much yet always never enough.

 

“Peter, you don’t have to worry about me not liking you. I already like you,” he tried to assure me. How does he know what I’m scared about? Did...did Tony tell him? He wouldn’t...no, he knows that’s what May did. She told people about my life without my consent.

 

“I just didn’t think that after what happened at the airport that you would want to see me,” I mumbled, truthfully. There was no way Tony told him, right?

 

“I’m the one that punched you, why would I be mad at you?” He seemed so confused and how am I supposed to respond to that?

 

“But I sided with Tony and Sergeant Barnes didn’t like me and-” he looked so shocked and I don’t understand why.

 

“When did you interact with Bucky?” He asked, leaning forward a little.

 

“When I was at the airport I was supposed to slow you guys down and so I started fighting Sergeant Barnes and Mr. Wilson. But Sergeant Barnes tried to punch me and I caught it but he seemed really freaked out that I caught his punch,” I finally succeeded in cutting my rambling shorter.

 

“Wait you caught one of Bucky’s punches?” He let out a laugh, startling me. He seemed quite assumed at the idea of a kid catching one of the ex-Winter Soldiers punches.

 

“Yeah, I did! And I told him that his metal arm is awesome! But he seemed even more freaked out…” I shouldn’t have said that last part.

 

“Yeah,” he rubbed the back of his neck, “that makes sense,” he smiled sheepishly, looking strange on such a heroic man.

 

“Hey my voice is not that high!” I really wish my voice hadn’t cracked right then.

 

 

“He’s talking to Steve, Pep!” Tony ran a hand down his face while he complained to his fiancée.

 

“But you and Steve already worked everything out. After the fight, you guys talked it through. Things were getting better,” she ran her fingers through his hair.

 

“I know, Pep. But that was before I knew that Steve had punched Peter!” Fury still raced through his veins.

 

She allowed herself a moment of shock and a moment to recollect herself before talking again, still in that calming tone, “it was a fight, Tony. He didn’t know that Peter’s a kid.”

 

“He’s my kid,” he murmured back.

 

“I know Tony, I know,” she continued running her fingers through his hair.

Chapter Text

Even a good day can turn around in just seconds. A good day can quickly turn to a bad one. And a bad day can turn to a couple bad days, which can turn to a bad week. Does it ever end?

 

I met Captain America. No. I met Steve Rogers. I should be glowing with joy. I should be radiating happiness. But I’m just not. And not all the kind words in the universe can seem to change the way my mind thinks. No matter what anyone in the world says, my mind always screams louder. Yet all the bad words, everything that I know I shouldn’t listen to, that’s all that sticks in my mind. My mind agrees with them. And shouldn’t I listen to my mind?

 

“Kid, you okay?” Tony tried to cut my thoughts off. It just doesn’t work like that. Reality says differently. Reality. How do I know what reality is?

 

My mind says reality is what it says. That I’m a burden, that I don’t deserve to get help because other people need it more. That calling a hotline would be selfish because there’s other people who need it more urgently. That I just add weight to anyone I confide in.

 

But that’s true, isn’t it? The bags under Tony’s eyes are so much deeper than they used to be. Even Steve Rogers seemed concerned for me. That isn’t right.

 

But Tony says that I am loved. But if I’m loved, why don’t I feel it? That’s selfish, isn’t it? If I’m lucky enough to be loved I should feel it. But if I can’t even feel it, I don’t deserve to have it. But that’s assuming I have love in the first place.

 

Assumptions. Life is made of assumptions. It’s like everything people assume about me is wrong. If they assume I’m fine, I’m not. If they assume the worst...is that right? Is this the worst it could be? No. There’s always someone that has it worse off.  

 

 

Tony ran a hand over his face, every instinct in his body to just get a drink and forget for a little bit. But he still didn’t.

 

“He’s getting worse again, and I don’t know why,” his voice sounded so broken. That voice didn’t belong coming from the Tony Stark, yet it did.

 

“I know, Tony. But you’re doing everything you can,” Pepper tried to comfort him.

 

“Am I? Because it feels like we are back to where we started and I don’t know why?” He didn’t mean to raise his voice. Yet it happened.

 

“Tony, don’t yell at me,” that stern, get pained, remark from Pepper is what snapped him back.

 

“I’m sorry, Pep,” he held her hand, “I didn’t...I can’t keep going through the motions with him. He just keeps getting worse.”

 

Her answer was simple, “then don’t. Don’t go through the motions. Change something.”

 

“What do you mean,” he shook his head in confusion.

 

“Come on genius, there has to be something you can think of,” she smiled at him. The smile still looked sad though.

 

“What if Wanda came and tried to help figure this out?” He suggested.

 

“Would he go for that?” Pepper asked.

 

“Probably not, but what else can we do?”

 

 

“Pete, you didn’t answer the question. How are you feeling?” Tony asked me again. He’s mad. I ignored him. I’m wasting his time.

 

I’m not okay. When was the last time I was okay?

 

I shrugged, knowing better than that but also not knowing how else to respond.

 

“Okay. Okay kid...so I have something I want to ask you?” He sounded so hesitant.

 

He’s mad. I knew he would be. He’ll want me to leave. But-but I can’t go back to May. I can’t. I just can’t go back there with her. I can’t be left alone with her again. That can’t happen.

 

“Pete, hey. It’s not anything bad, alright. Do you remember Wanda, she was on Cap’s team at the airport. She’s not too much older than you. But… I think she can help. Would you like to meet her?” Wait, what?

 

“What do you mean ‘help’?” I asked, my voice doing that shaking thing again. As usual. I guess that’s just how I speak now.

 

“She…we can get into that later. But first I’d like you to meet her. Just meet her. Then from there we can figure out what to do next,” he avoided my question. Why won’t he tell me? Why won’t he tell me what’s going on?


Chapter Text

I’m meeting Wanda today. I should be open minded, I know. It’s not like I’m scared of her at all, I’m not. We barely even interacted at the airport. But Tony wouldn’t even tell me why he wants me to talk to her. Talking to Steve was my choice. This isn’t. He’s making me talk to her and he won’t even tell me why.

 

But I have to admit, she is really cool. She can do like, anything and it’s insanely amazing.

 

Wait, she can mess with minds. Does Tony want her to mess with my mind? What does he want her to do to me?

 

“Hey Pete, you ready to meet Wanda?” Tony knocked on my door before entering and speaking. But do I really have a choice?

 

“I guess…” I breathed out.

 

He put a hand on my back, I didn’t mind, and he led me to a common room. And she was sitting there. Even though she was just wearing normal clothes and her hair was kinda messy, I was still taken aback by her beauty.

 

“Hey, Peter. It’s nice to meet you,” it took a second to register her strong accent, but I quickly shook her outstretched hand.

 

“I’ll leave you to it,” Tony seemed surprisingly calm about leaving me alone with her. Though the team is together and most of the tension is gone, it was still surprising.

 

We both watched him walk away, both of us waiting for the other to speak up. She broke the silence, “you don’t have to be scared, Peter.”

 

I didn’t mean for my eyes to widen so much, “I-I’m not scared, I mean I’m not scared of you, oh god that sounded horrible. What I mean is Tony just suddenly told me to meet you and I don’t know why and it’s scary because I don’t know what he wants and I’m sorry. I’m sorry.” I’m so so stupid.

 

“I understand,” she smiled at me. And for the first time recently, when I saw a smile it wasn't filled with that pity or sadness, but understanding. And I smiled back. And it was real. “So what do you like to do, Peter?” She plopped down on the overly plush couch.

 

That’s not what I was expecting her first question to be. I thought it would be about...everything. Or about my powers or the airport. But it’s just about me, Peter Parker. She wants to know Peter Parker.

 

“Um, I like Legos?” That came out too much like a question. I sat down next to her.

 

“Oh, I’ve never used Legos before,” she laughed lightly.

 

“Really?” I asked incredulously, “Well they are amazing and you need to try it,” I told her matter of factly. I haven’t talked like this in so long...so normally. So free. It’s nice. It’s easy with her. To be so normal. It’s like I actually have a friend.

 

“We should,” she agreed, still smiling at me. It wasn’t even a forced smile, she made it look so easy.

 

“Oh!” I remembered suddenly, “Tony had gotten me some Legos a little while ago, I think they’re in my room. We can go do that, if you want of course.”

 

“Yeah, that sounds wonderful,” and we stood up and went to my room.

 

 

“Where’s Peter?”

 

“Good Afternoon to you too, Cap,” Tony halfheartedly remarked. It was clear that Steve was surprised to see Tony not glued to Peter’s side.

 

“Good afternoon,” Steve almost smiled but worry was too evident on his features. “But where is Peter?”

 

“I’m not with him all the time,” Tony went so far as to roll his eyes, “He’s with Wanda right now.”

 

Steve’s eyebrows raised, “he knows Wanda? What are they doing?”

 

“They’re allowed to be friends. I thought she could...help him,” even he struggled to hide the awkwardness at his own vagueness.  

 

“Help him how?” Now the Captain was beginning to sound challenging, a strange protectiveness coming into his tone.

 

“The kid needs a friend around his age. Someone else on the team he can just hang out with,” Tony was quick to come back with. Because why would he tell all his reasons to Steve?

 

 

“Am I doing this right?” Wanda laughed as she struggled to piece the Lego starship together.

 

“Yeah! You’re doing great!” I encouraged as I laughed too, though I did reach out and replace one of the pieces she had done incorrectly.

 

“I am doing it wrong!” She accused, failing to hide her further laughter. It’s weird to be so happy. I know it won’t last, but I’m allowed to relish in it while I can, right? It’s like I’m a normal kid for once. Maybe that’s why Tony wants us to talk. But I have to admit...this is nice.

Chapter Text

If I cut again, what would Tony do? Would he be angry? Disappointed? Would he send me back to May? If I cut would that be betraying him? I don’t want to hurt him but I also know I can’t keep on surviving without my blade. Even just knowing I have it can be enough to calm me down. Having the choice, that helps. Just knowing I can, can be enough.

 

“Hi,” it was simple, but hearing his voice caused my head to snap up.

 

“Happy?” Why is he here?

 

“It’s not like I don’t visit you, why are you so surprised?” Though he chuckled I know I must have offended him. I always just annoy him. That’s why he didn’t pick me up the day May found out...

 

“It-it’s just that I haven’t seen you in a little while,” and that is what caused his gaze to turn sad. I made him sad. I don’t deserve him to be here.

 

If I keep hanging out with Wanda, will I make her sad too? Will I upset her too? Anger her? Annoy her? I have with everyone else, why would she be any different?

 

“I know kid, I wish I could come visit you more but I just...it’s busy,” he sighed. I couldn't help but think of a quote I read once, it was something like it’s not a matter of business but of priority. I’m not Happy’s priority. Why would I be? “So kid, me and the boss were thinking that it would be good for you to get out of here and get some fresh air.”

 

“You want me to leave?” My voice quivered. This is it. This is when they kick me out...I knew it would happen soon.

 

“No, kid, we mean to just go and have some fun. We aren’t making you leave here, just to go to a restaurant or a park or something. Boss, um Tony, said that Wanda can come too if you want her to.” Would Wanda even want to come? “How does that sound?”

 

“Good, that sounds good.” But why do we have to go? Why doesn’t he want me to stay here? Well I mean I know why he doesn’t want me, but I didn’t even really do anything so why does he suddenly want me out?

 

 

“So how did it go with Peter?” Tony could not wait to talk to Wanda about how it went.

 

“It went good,” she smiled, “he’s very nice and very funny.”

 

“But does he trust you?” Tony pressed.

 

“Stark, you make it sound like you want me to do something bad. We did not talk about anything of too much depth, but he does seem to see me as a friend. I’m not going to hurt him. You’re the one to ask me to look through his mind, anyway,” she noted.

 

“I know, I know. I just don’t want him to feel like we don’t trust him or that we want to hurt him,” he sighed.

 

“Are you going to tell him what you plan on me doing?” She asked.

 

“Maybe. I don’t know. Probably not. Will he wake up if you do it while he’s asleep?” He questioned back.

 

“I don’t think that’s best. If he does wake up, or it he finds out I went into his mind without his consent he could lose all trust in us,” she concluded.

 

He sighed again, “you’re right. We can’t do that. Maybe today, whether or not if he asks for you to come to the city, we can talk to him about it,” it came out almost as a question.

 

“Asking is the best way to go about this,” she agreed, putting a hand on his shoulder.

 

Chapter Text

The city lights are so much brighter than I remembered. And it’s so loud. I’ve lived here my entire life and it feels like I’m not the same person that lived here. It’s like the last few weeks have erased the Peter that lived here for fifteen years. But I don’t like that old Peter.

 

Wanda’s here. I know Tony said she could come but what if he’s upset I wanted her here too? That it’s not just an us thing? But then again Happy is here too, but that’s kind of a given. I didn’t think Tony was close with Wanda but I can’t feel any tension between them like with Tony and Steve.

 

“Where are we going, Stark?” Wanda asked again after the long ride to the city was finally ending.

 

I hate how my chest tightens every foot we get closer to this place.

 

“I already told you it’s a surprise,” he laughed. He tried to hide his worry, but it was there. Am I worrying him?

 

I mean I know he worries about me but what about this is putting him on edge?

 

That thought only made my chest tighten even more, making it even harder to breathe.

 

“Peter, are you okay?” Wanda whispered at a volume she knew only I could hear. But even if she said it a bit louder Tony and Happy probably wouldn’t have heard us anyway since we’re in the back row.

 

I just nodded vaguely, knowing she’d see it. I know she didn’t believe me, but she stayed quiet.

 

I’ve already ruined everything. She was the one person that treated me normally and now I ruined it. I ruin everything. She’ll see how broken I am. I knew it was just a matter of time but I hoped it wouldn’t happen so soon.

 

I hoped. That’s the problem. I actually let myself hope for something I knew wouldn’t go well. Every single time I hope I get hurt and disappointed. Every time. And yet I never learn. I’m so stupid…

 

“We’re here!” Tony announced with that classic Tony Stark confidence the whole world knows. But I know it’s just a cover up for his real emotions. I hoped we were past that. Hoped.

 

“Where is here?” Wanda asked, clearly trying to keep the conversations casual. I almost smiled for that.

 

“Only the best shawarma in the universe,” Tony marched straight up to the restaurant like he owns it, I wouldn’t be surprised if he does.

 

I didn’t miss how Happy rolled his eyes so hard they should have got stuck. Wanda just laughed lightly. I kept silent. It’s better that way.

 

As soon as Tony walked in all the people in the restaurant all the people working their immediately shooed the other customers out. After pleading for pictures and autographs the customers finally left. I just moved off to the side, pretending I don’t exist because they don’t want me, they didn’t ask for me. But Wanda came over and stood next to me. She made sure I wasn’t alone. I would have smiled if my anxiety wasn’t spiking.

 

“Get us all my usual,” Tony told the cooks, or rather ordered with that Stark charm.

 

“Classy, Boss,” Happy muttered as we all sat down as a table by the counter.

 

I discreetly, at least I think so, tried to deepen my breaths to make my heart rate slow more. It’ll be a lot harder to pretend to be okay in a public, sort of, sitting surrounded by Tony, Happy, and Wanda.

 

Wanda was able to make comfortable small talk as we waited for the food, which came out impressively quickly. I did contribute a little but as to just not worry them more than I clearly already did.

 

You know that feeling? That one when you have so so many strong emotions and you feel them inside you. You see them. You know they are there. But you don't feel them. You know you should be screaming and crying but you're just not. But it's not the same as being numb and it's not the same as dissociation, I know because I've felt those. Multiple times. But this, but this is like you see the emotions, you're reaching out and they graze your fingertips but they won't come into your grasp. And you just can't get them. But they are like acid inside you, tearing you apart and you just need to grab them and pull them out and let it all out. But you can't get them. And your chest is tight and you feel the panic setting in and you see it and you know it's there but you don't feel it. That. That's what kills me even more than just being numb or just feeling too much. Because it's not the bliss of numbness where I get to escape, but it's not the release of emotions that comes with feeling too much. It's in the middle. And it sucks. And there's no way out.

Chapter Text

I am not okay. I am not fine. This won’t go away. You may say it will but you don’t have my life, you don’t know how broken I am. I thought...no I hoped it would get better. But that’s just another one of my problems. I hoped and I hoped and I hoped and I know better. I know I know better. But I’m just that stupid. I’m so so stupid. I’m an idiot and no one can tell me otherwise. I can’t even do something as simple as feel right.

 

I can’t even feel...how pathetic do I have to be to not even be able to either grasp my feelings and let them out, or to to just push them down and feel nothing. I can’t do either. I can’t even do that. I can’t do anything right…

 

“-eter? Peter?” Tony’s voice sounded, but it didn’t register in me.

 

It shouldn’t be this hard. Nothing should be this hard. Life shouldn’t be impossible, but it is. It is impossible. I can’t even survive, let alone really live. That’s why... that’s why I jumped.

 

“Peter?” I think that was Wanda. But it still didn’t really come through.

 

But if I tried again, I can’t do it the same way. But I won’t really ever get the chance to do it… That makes me weak, doesn’t it?

 

Does that ever happen...when you are thinking and thinking and then all the stupid things you’ve ever done flood back in and you’re drowning, drowning, drowning. But at least it’s better than that middle ground. At least I’m feeling. But maybe this was too much and I’m drowning, drowning, drowning and I’ll never breathe again.

 

“Peter!” Who’s voice is that?

 

Drowning. That’s all that’s left to do.

 

I didn’t even try to swim. I didn’t even try. I deserve to drown. I’ve messed up too much. I hurt too many people. I’m too broken. Too... too broken.

 

When glass shatters in the ocean, the pieces spread. They move around and never come back together. The water may smooth the edges of every broken piece, but doesn’t that make them weaker? They go and they spread far away. And then they may end up on the beach. And maybe someone will pick up a piece. Maybe it’ll end up in the trash, maybe they’ll treasure it. But that’s only because it's broken, and that piece looks pretty by itself, and it’s smoothed down by all the waves crashing against it. I have to lose all my pieces...and then maybe someone will want me. An empty, shattered, thing. That’s all I am.

 

That didn’t even make any sense. And even that is enough to make me feel like crying.

 

“Peter!” Another voice.

 

Voices, voices, voices. So many voices all screaming at me. Or maybe they’re not screaming. Then why is it so loud? Loud.

 

This isn’t how this was supposed to go.

 

“Peter! Peter, come back!” Am I gone?

 

I guess I am. Haven’t I always been gone?

 

Wait. Tony wants me to be friends with Wanda. He insisted it. He wants something. It can’t just be another friend because he said it was my choice who and when I talk to other people on the team. This wasn't my choice. He took away my choice. My control. Just like May.

 

No. It’s not like that, right? I mean…

 

“Peter! Kid!” I ignored the noise. It’s too loud. It’s always too loud.

 

I mean, he’s different. He’s not May. But that doesn’t mean he can’t hurt me too.

 

Why Wanda? It can’t just be an age thing? No? She, she has weird but cool powers. Her powers...she can mess with the mind. She can make people see things. And she can see things. She can look into the mind. Does he want her to mess with my mind? I know I’m messed up but mind manipulation? Manipulation.

 

Is it like May?

 

I tried to speak but the words wouldn’t come. This. This is how everything ends. It starts with a crack and ends with me shattering.

 

“You-you-” I gasped for breath, “you want-wanted this.” That came out wrong. I’m not blaming him, he’ll think I’m blaming him and he’ll be upset and if he’s upset then I ruined everything. I always ruin everything. It’s how it goes. I knew it would happen but I hoped it wouldn’t be so soon. It’s always hope. That’s what kills me. Everything else breaks me, but hope is what kills me.

 

“Wanted what?” His voice cracked. I did that.

 

“You want-wanted us-you wanted her to-” I can’t do it. I shouldn’t blame him. It’s not his fault how I am. I can’t blame him that I’m like this. It’s no ones fault but mine. It’s always mine. Mine. Mine.

 

Always my fault.

 

“Kid, breathe with me, in...out...in...out. Come on, Pete I know you can do it.”

 

“Happy go start the car we’re leaving.”

 

“Will he be okay?”

 

“In...out...in...out. Pete, come on. In...out...in, kid feel my heartbeat. Yeah, listen to that. Feel it?”

 

Too many voices. Too loud. Too much. Too loud. Too much. Too much.

 

Chapter Text

I didn’t wake up with a start. It was slow. I still crave that nothingness. I know I shouldn’t, but I do. I always do.

 

“Pete, buddy, come back to me,” I heard him whisper. But he’s the one that caused it. I know, I know, I shouldn’t blame him for my own mental issues but it’s so much easier. And I need the easy route right now.

 

I managed to pry my eyes open only to see the hopeful eyes of Mr. Stark grow even more worried. I did that.

 

“Mr-Mr. Stark.”

 

That made his smile turn even sadder, “yeah kid.”

 

“Was Wanda here?” The smile slipped off his face.

 

Though his brows furrowed he did answer me, “she was here earlier. Do… do you want her here?”

 

“No!” I took a second to try to take deeper breaths, “no, I don’t want her to be here right now…”

 

Do I ask? Do I say that I know what he wants to do? But what if I’m wrong? What if that’s not what his intentions are?

 

No. No. I know what he wants. He wants her inside my head. I know I’m messed up but it’s my head. Do I not have the right to my own mind either?

 

“What’s on your mind, kid?” He put his hand on my knee. I flinched away. I haven’t seen him this sad since I…

 

I’m so stupid.

 

“You want Wanda inside my head…” I meant to be calm, “you-you want her inside my mind,” my breathing increased rapidly, “you want her to mess with my mind! You’re using her against me!”

 

“Kid, calm down,” he tried.

 

“Don’t tell me to calm down! I can’t just calm down! Saying that doesn’t help, I know I have to calm down but it doesn’t just work like that!” I reached up and yanked at my hair in frustration.

 

He reached over to grab my hands and stop me from hurting myself.

 

“No…” I started crying. That’s all I ever do nowadays.

 

 

“I don’t think this was a good idea, Stark,” Wanda told him, crossing her arms. He didn’t miss her slight tremble. She’s still haunted by what she saw...

 

“I know,” he ran his fingers through his hair, not caring about messing up his classic hairstyle, “I know.”

Chapter Text

Wanda’s POV

 

I’ve gone into many minds, even Ultron’s, but nothing prepared me for what was happening in Peter’s.

 

At first it was just darkness. Then I heard screaming. Then crying. Not soft tears but full on ugly sobs, gasping for breath. Gasping. Gasping. There’s not enough air, even I can hardly breathe. It’s like even if he wasn’t sobbing he still wouldn’t be able to breathe.

 

A whisper.

 

Once my eyes adjusted to the darkness I could finally see the floor. Stained red. I reached down to touch it and my hand came up dripping in the blood. Blood on the hands.

 

I went searching, searching for him. All around me echoed different voices. One, I recognized as Stark. There was a woman’s voice, and another man. I didn't recognize them.

 

More screaming.

 

A whisper.

 

Gun shots. Ricocheting again and again.

 

I kept walking. I kept going and going until I saw something in the distance. The voices were louder there. I finally reached the destination.

 

Tombs. Hundreds of them. Each of them dripping with blood. Each of them had a voice screaming from it.

 

I thought I heard the horn of a ferry.

 

A whisper.

 

“You did this!”

 

“You didn’t save me!”

 

“You killed me!”

 

“It’s your fault!”

 

It’s so loud, so loud, I had to cover my ears. The blood on my hands got in my hair and on my head but I didn’t care.

 

I kept walking until I reached the middle of the graveyard.

 

Ben Parker

 

May Parker

 

Tony Stark

 

A whisper.

 

There sat their tombstones. Dripping with blood. Screaming. Screaming so much louder than the others.

 

It’s like they sucked all the oxygen out. Suddenly it is impossible to breathe. Gasping. Sobbing. Gasping. But there’s no air. No way to breathe. No way to live.

 

I heard something else. Something different. It started off low and gradually grew in volume. A low hiss. It seemed to coil around everything. Wrapping and squeezing. Going tighter and tighter, it ached.

 

The snake seemed endless. And impossibly strong. It completely wrapped around everything. Squeezing any hope of life away.

 

I could finally hear what that whisper was saying. But I wish I hadn’t. Every fear, every insecurity, everything it broke down. It destroyed. Like a fire unable to be quenched. Burning and burning but giving off no light, no warmth. Just chaos and destruction and no way to stop it. Every dark thought, every awful idea, it whispers, it’s voice like honey.

 

The snake never did stop.

 

The whispers only grew louder.

 

The screams never ceased.

 

And I still thought I could hear the ferry’s horn.

 

A whisper.

 

I looked up. And I saw balloons. White balloons. Growing in size. Filling up with nothing but air. They kept growing, forcing the snake to loosen its hold.

 

But the balloons gave off no light, they didn’t help the darkness. They just filled up room with empty space. Empty.

 

A whisper.

 

Then the red started to rise. Filling up every gap, every space left. Stealing any air left. The blood never stopped. It’s too thick to swim in. It just weighs you down. Endless weight. Pulling and grabbing. Suffocating you. But it’s not like there was much air to begin with.

 

A whisper.

 

I couldn’t handle it anymore and I left his mind as quick as I could. Then I started gasping. Sobbing. Gasping. But I couldn’t get any air. I couldn't breathe. No way to live.

 

 

Tony could tell that whatever was in Peter’s mind was so much worse than what they were expecting. He could tell whenever Wanda thought of it because she would shudder.

 

He had never seen her cry before. But the second she came out of his mind she broke down. Full on sobbing, uncontrollably. He held her as she cried. It was a sad miracle that Peter had stayed unconscious during that whole ordeal. Tony figured it would be best to just get it over with since he was already knocked out from the panic attack at the restaurant.

 

When he tried to get her to talk about it... god he’d never seen her more terrified. He wasn’t sure if she’d ever tell him. He never thought it could be that bad.

 

“Is there any way to help him?” He asked.

 

“I don’t know Tony...I don’t know…” she shuddered.

 

 

I ruined it. I ruin everything. That’s why Tony hates me. That’s why everyone hates me. I yelled at him. I said I didn’t want Wanda.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And I will never be anything more.

 

He was the only one I thought...I hoped, god I let myself hope, I hoped he would stay. I knew he would leave eventually. Everyone does. But I hoped it would last longer.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And no one wants me.

 

He was the one person that I thought maybe just maybe he would last. Even just a little longer than the others. That maybe I wouldn’t be alone again so soon. That maybe everything would be okay. But I was wrong. I’m always wrong.

 

I am just Peter Parker. And the pain will be gone soon.

 

Chapter Text

“I feel awful about this, Stark. I never should have gone into his head without permission,” she stopped him in the hall, her arms crossed.

 

“We needed to see what caused the panic attack,” he defended, hands balled up in fists at his side.

 

“You mean you needed to see what was happening. But you didn’t see it, I did and it...it is so much worse than either of us expected,” her eyes grew distant as she was reminded of all that pain, all the darkness, all the blood.

 

“You said you would do it,” he reminded her.

 

You could see the fire light behind her eyes, behind all the sadness, “I said I would do it if we talked to him first! But you made me feel like we had no choice! Like if I didn’t find out the cause of his panic attack it would be my fault for whatever happens next!”

 

He actually took a step back, “I...I didn’t mean to put that pressure on you.”

 

“He deserves consent, Stark. When he finds out, yes when because he is a smart boy and will figure it out if he hasn’t already, he will feel betrayed. Because he was just starting to trust us and now he doesn’t get a say in this. It’s about control, Stark. If he loses all his control, he will find a way to find his own.”

 

It took him a second to realize what she was insinuating, “you think he’ll...go back to old habits, to get that control.” It wasn’t a question because they both knew the answer.

 

 

I made Mr. Stark leave. Tony. He’s...he’s all I had. In reality, he is all I had because Wanda was going to leave, and Happy never liked me. Wanda saw me have a panic attack. She saw how helpless I really am. She’s too strong to want to be friends with someone like me. And Happy...I’m surprised he didn’t leave earlier. I bet it was just because he works for Tony and he had to.

 

Me and Tony never did talk about when I called him Dad. That was such a big thing but it was brushed off like it was nothing. As if I actually had a dad that was alive and there for me. As if I haven’t been searching for a father figure ever since I caused Uncle Ben to die.

 

But that doesn’t matter.

 

I wrote a note this time. It was hard, yet easy at the same time.

 

I never thought I would want Tony to leave…

 

I should be sorry. I should feel bad for leaving. But no one ever felt bad about leaving me. Because I’m toxic, I’m not good for them, I’m me. I spent too much time just trying to figure out how to address the note. It’s not like I haven’t thought about it before, how many notes I would write, who they would be for, how long they would be, etc. But a lot has changed.

 

Now, the only person I can think to address is Tony. He almost...I actually let myself believe that he could be like a dad to me.

 

But this is real. This is my reality.

 

But what if I fail? Again? I mean, I fail everything else. I failed last time. Then I would be stuck in the same place again. Repeating the same things again and again. You can’t run away by running in circles.

 

But what else is there to do? My note...well I guess it’s not quite finished. I just have to sign my name. Sign my life away…

 

Tony and Wanda betrayed me. They went in my head without my consent...but if I’m always wrong…

 

Maybe I jumped to conclusions too fast. Maybe I was wrong...and then I made Tony leave out of my own foolishness.

 

I reread my note.

 

Dear Mr. Stark,

 

I wanted you to be more than just Tony. I called you Dad once...and I meant it. But I can’t live when everyone hurts me. I’m not living. I am barely surviving. This is what’s best. I should say that I’m sorry but I’m not. I know I should be, but I just can’t. I’m sorry for that. I know you’ll move on, you’re stronger than I ever could be. That’s why I looked up to you.

 

Goodbye,



“Friday?”

 

“Yes, Master Parker?”

 

“Call Tony.”

Chapter Text

What am I supposed to say to him? Like, oh hey Tony by the way I was gonna kill myself but I’m too scared and weak and I couldn't even finish the suicide note and now I don’t know what to do next. No. No that’s stupid and it’ll freak him out and I didn’t hide the note!

 

I quickly lunged over and snatched up my note, but I didn’t have the heart to crumple it up. I swiftly shoved the the paper into a drawer in my nightstand. I had just sat back down when Tony came rushing into my room.

 

“Tony, I-I-” I couldn’t finish my sentence. He pulled me into a hug before I started crying. Crying again because that’s all I ever do.

 

But he didn’t let go. He didn’t leave. He didn’t even seem annoyed, somehow.

 

“I’m here, Pete,” he mumbled into my hair as he hugged me, tight and… and safe .

 

“Da-Dad?” I hid my face in his shoulder.

 

“Yeah, Pete?” He let out a breath, holding me tighter.

 

“I-I was gonna-I was gonna leave,” it came out in more of a broken whisper than a real sentence. But based on his sharp intake of breath he probably understood what I meant.

 

He tried to speak several times, but couldn’t find the words. But he didn’t me go. He didn’t. He never did. Can I hope that he never will?

 

“I’m here, kid, I’m here,” was what he finally said. And it was good.

 

 

It’s like the snake loosened its hold on me. Not let go, no I’m not sure of the snake will ever be gone. It would be news to me if the snake could ever leave.  But it’s not wrapped so tightly anymore. I can finally breathe.

Chapter Text

I guess I fell asleep.

 

And all was relatively normal until Tony decided to break the silence we had fallen into, “so, Pete, I absolutely love when you talk to me,” Where is he going with this? “but you also need to get some professional help. And before you argue that it won’t work, I already know we need someone...special because of your particular circumstances being Spider-Man and all.”

 

What does that mean? What kind of ‘special’ person can deal with me?

 

But he continued, “and this has to be someone that I also trust, because I would never want you to try to open up to someone that I don’t trust. And so I wanted to see how you feel about talking to Sam.”

 

Wait what? Sam as in Sam Wilson? The Falcon?

 

“You want me to talk to the Falcon?” My voice too filled with shock to be upset.

 

“Yes. He has a lot of experience and he can help with PTSD...and he’s really good. I’m not saying you do or do not have PTSD, but he knows how to help with that to. I trust him.”

 

I came up with the only argument I could think of, “he doesn’t like me…” It’s not a lie. He doesn’t like me. Even though I haven't actually talked to him, at the airport we fought and he was upset with me and then he hit me with a drone. He probably hates me, I don’t blame him.

 

“What do you mean?” His eyebrows furrowed. Well I guess that makes sense that he doesn’t understand, because it’s not like I ever told him what happened at the airport. I didn’t think it was a big deal. I mean he doesn’t even know about everything that happened at homecoming.

 

“At the airport-” he cut me off.

 

“At the airport? Kid-” that time he cut himself off with a huff of breath, “the airport was a mistake. That is not an accurate representation of how we all feel about each other.”

 

“Well-he just he didn’t like me and I’m scared and I don’t want to, I can’t just-” I can’t even form a full sentence.

 

He put his hands on my shoulders, “Pete, Peter hey it’s okay. It can just be like with Steve, you just meet and it doesn’t have to be anything deep. Just starting to get to know each other.”

 

“But I’m scared…” it came out in a whimper. God I’m a child.

 

“It’s okay to be scared. I can go with you, or even Wanda, Steve, or Happy.” At my frown he continued, “Hey, what’s on your mind, kid?”

 

“But Happy doesn’t like me, he never did,” my frown deepened at the thought.

 

“Why the hell would you think that Happy doesn’t like you?” I would like to think Tony didn’t mean for his voice to come out so harsh.

 

“I-I’m sorry, I’m sorry I just, I just thought that, I just thought-” again he cut off my ramble.

 

“Peter, look at me. Happy does not hate you, he doesn’t even dislike you. He just...has a hard time showing his real emotions. He is here for you. I promise he is.”

 

“You promise?” I still sound so so young.

 

“I promise. Now what do you think about meeting Sam?” He asked, gently.

 

I nodded.

Chapter Text

“Sam, I’m gonna talk to you now,” Tony announced, interrupting Steve and Sam’s conversation.

 

“Okay?” He walked over, “What’s up?”

 

“So you’re like a therapist?” he continued on, not waiting for Sam to answer, “Well Peter needs to talk to someone and you’re the only professional I trust for him to confide in.”

 

His eyebrows raised, “wow, Tony that’s actually really kind of you that you think so highly of me.”

 

“Yeah whatever,” though he brushed it off, they both knew the weight of his words, “but he’s nervous, respectively, and so I want you two to just meet and get more comfortable with each other.”

 

“Yeah, yeah that sounds great. I’d love to,” his smile was so big, Tony wasn’t expecting it.

 

“There’s just one problem,” that sobered him up.

 

“Besides him being scared?” Sam asked, fearing the worst.

 

“He is convinced that you hate him.” He said it plain and simple, though it did not lessen the blow.

 

“What? What would he think that? We haven’t even talked,” he could not comprehend.

 

Tony sighed before explaining further, “I know. I don’t know what happened between you two at the airport but Peter said it was bad and you hate him because of it”

 

“I mean yeah he annoyed me,” seeing the protective Stark’s glare, he quickly finished his sentence, “but I don’t even dislike him, let alone hate him.”

 

“Okay, well he won’t listen to me, and I don’t even know what happened. But he will not believe me when I say that what happened at the airport… it…” Tony huffed out another breath.

 

“Yeah I get what you’re saying. I’ll talk to him. Thank you for coming to me.”

 

 

I don’t know. I don’t even know how I feel. I don’t know anything.

 

“So Pete, what do you think about talking to Sam tomorrow?” Tony suddenly asked. We had been in a comfortable silence watching a movie. He gives me options and lets me pick from them, he always does funny, happy, movies to try to get me to laugh. It works sometimes.

 

“What would that mean?” I asked, voice so small.

 

“Just meeting and getting to know each other. No pressure, no expectations.” But that is pressure. I have to make a good impression. But I already ruined that. I already sort of met him and he hates me because I fought him and annoyed him and I already ruined it because I ruin everything every time.

 

“Okay…” I mumbled.

 

Chapter Text

I know this will sound stupid, but my biggest reason for not cutting isn’t what you think it would be. It’s not because I’m better, it’s not for the people that seem to care about me, it’s not because it’s a big secret. No. I’m not better, I can hide it from everyone, it’s not hard. No, it’s the hindrance of it. When I cut, it’s different than being numb and it’s completely different than dissociation. Though cutting can lead to numbness, it’s a different kind. It’s like a distraction from the emotional pain. Okay well that depends on why you’re cutting.

 

You can cut to punish yourself, and therefore the nuisance the after effects are actually aren’t as bad because it’s a reminder of why you had to punish yourself. But if you do it to escape the pain for even a moment, then the stinging of the fresh cuts is just annoying. Every time you shower, it burns. But when sweat gets on the cuts, that’s the worst. That’s even worse than actually touching the cuts or when clothes rub against them. And it’s awful when you want to sleep but the burning keeps you awake. That’s why I haven’t tarnished this little clean streak. It’s so stupid.

 

“You ready, kid?” Tony asked as he led me to a common area, the same one I met Wanda at. I haven’t seen Wanda since the restaurant. She’s probably disgusted with how weak I am. I don’t blame her.

 

“I guess,” I mumbled as I followed his lead. I already know it won’t go well.

 

Sam stood up to greet us as soon as we walked in. Tony gave him a nod then waited for me to greet him. Not knowing what to do I just gave a little wave with a pathetic ‘hi’.

 

“Hi, it’s great to finally meet you, Peter,” he smiled. It looked real but he probably just learned how to fake smiles too. It’s not hard.

 

“Well have fun, kid,” and after placing a comforting hand on my shoulder Tony left the room. He left me alone with Sam. Left.

 

Realizing I never responded to him I quickly stated, “oh um, it’s nice to meet you too.”

 

He chuckled softly, but you could hear something else behind it, “you don’t have to be nervous with me. There’s no pressure. This is just so we can start getting to know each other.”

 

“That’s what Tony said…” I didn’t mean to say that out loud.

 

“Yeah, you and him seem really close.” I know what he’s doing, he’s trying to get me to keep talking. But what other choice do I have?

 

“He’s everything…” Wow that was stupid.

 

But it’s true. He is everything I ever wanted. Someone that wants me. Someone that understands that I don’t wanna be like this, this messed up, this broken. That it’s not my choice to have anxiety and depression. Someone that stays. That even if he may leave me sometimes he’ll always come back. He won’t leave me. Someone that I can actually have hope for. Hope that I can believe in them. Believe that they really do care, believe that they really will stay. He’s everything I ever needed. Everything I ever wanted.

 

And I know that’s dangerous. Putting so much on one person. So much hope, so much weight, so much burden. But I don’t have anyone else. Wanda left, Happy doesn’t understand, and May...I can’t go back to May.

 

“Is that a good thing?” Sam asked.

 

Is it? Yes and no.

 

And that’s what I said, “both. Both good and bad. I need him. But I shouldn't need him.”

 

“Why shouldn’t you need him?” He asked, gently.

 

“Because when he leaves I’ll be left in a worse place than when I started because I'll know what I lost, what I’ll be missing again.” That, that was a lot. I’m saying too much. I always say too much.

 

I just want this to go well. I just want it to be good but it can’t because it just never can go well because that’s my life. Or maybe it’s my death. I don't know anymore. I know I’m the one putting this pressure on myself but this is supposed to be good. This is supposed to help me. But it’s just freaking me out more. But I can’t back out. No. I can’t do that. Tony wants me to talk to Sam and so I will. I can’t keep disappointing him.

 

Before Sam could come up with a response to my overflow of depressing information I asked a stupid question, “so what do you like to do?”

 

How the frick can I be such a stupid person? Can someone please tell me?

 

That took him by surprise, “Well when I can I like to fly in my falcon suit for fun. I also enjoy jogging when Steve isn’t running laps around me,” he ended in a chuckle. That one sounded real. Maybe he is real.

 

“I miss swinging around when I was Spider-Man.” Was.

 

I was Spider-Man but I ruined that too because I ruin everything because that’s my reality. My reality is that everything has to fall apart because I’m falling apart and no matter how much I try to put myself together it will never be enough to fix me when I can’t stop everything from being destroyed. I don’t even make sense anymore. I never make sense. I’m just running in circles.

 

If this sounds repetitive it’s because it is. It is it is it is because I’m repetitive because when my anxiety is high I repeat myself over and over and over. And at least I understand that. I’m just going in circles circles circles and there’s no way out. There’s never any way out because that’s my mind. That’s just how my mind works. That’s my reality and my reality doesn’t make any sense but it’s reality so it should make sense but it doesn’t because that’s how messed up I am. I don’t even make sense. But did I ever?

 

Will it ever end?

 

I mean it could.

 

“I’m sure you’ll be able to go out as Spider-Man again soon. Have you asked Tony about it?” I forgot I had been talking to Sam.

 

“No, no I haven’t asked. It never really came up.”

 

“Well if you want that can be something to ask him about. He cares and he’ll listen to your side.”

 

Unlike May.

 

No. No I can’t talk bad about her. Or think bad. Whatever, she cares and she doesn’t deserve that. She cares. She does.

 

But I keep pushing everyone away, yet I get so upset when they don’t stay.

 

But I guess I just want someone to show me that even when my mind is Hell and I push everyone away they’ll still come back because that’s how much they care. But that’s too much to ask.

 

But Tony keeps coming back…

 

He always came back, didn’t he?

Chapter Text

I hate this, I hate being like this. I’ve really been trying, trying to be happier, to be better, to be a better person. I know it takes time but I can’t keep doing this. I’m selfish and stupid and I’m asking for too much and I know that. But I can’t keep living like this. My mind is relentless and I’m not strong enough. This has literally been years. And I’m still like this. And my mind still won’t shut up. I’m not getting stronger, I’m just getting weaker. I’m running in circles and what’s the point?

 

I know this sounds worse than it is. It’s Hell but I’m not planning on doing ‘anything I’d regret’. If I was, I wouldn’t be here right now, that would be inhumane to put that weight on...on anyone. But I guess this already is too much. Because I’m this horrible.

 

But this is something I have to deal with on my own, right? Because I have to be able to save myself otherwise I’m not worth saving. I mean why not? Yeah there’s hindrance but I have a blade still. I have multiple.

 

I’m sorry but my mind won’t be quiet.

 

It’s getting louder and louder and I can’t stop it.

 

It hasn’t been this loud since I had that really really bad panic attack… when was that? I can’t remember. It all blurs together.

 

The only reason I haven’t cut shouldn’t be because of the hindrance of it. It’s shouldn’t be like this. It’s stupid.

 

But scratching doesn’t have that effects. It’s a lot harder to heal but it doesn’t burn like fire in my skin. That...that could work. I mean I may regret that but that’s not suicide, that’s not so definite. It, it could work.

 

I wish my nails were longer.

 

I should text someone. I should call someone. I don’t even have to tell them what’s happening but just to talk. Just to distract myself.

 

But that’s too much. They need to worry about their own mental health, not mine. It’s cruel to ask so much of them.

 

I should just go to the bathroom and cry. I shouldn’t bring my blade with me.

 

But I'm already in the bathroom. And my blade is in my hand. And I feel my heart beating against me.

 

Just holding it is comforting. Just knowing that I can is almost enough to make me not want to. It's so little but it's so big at the same time.

 

No one knows I have it. No one. Because they can't take it away from me. Not again. It's mine. I control it.

 

Or maybe it controls me.

 

But it's better than anyone else controlling me. It's so easy, so easy to give in. I would love to think I'm too strong, but that's not true. I know better. I know that I didn't bring bandaids with and I can't get blood everywhere because that's a big mess and just too much of a hassle. And just tracing the blade over my skin, not enough to break through but enough to know I can is almost enough. Almost.

 

I didn't tell anyone that I started digging my nails into my skin again. Nice little half crescents etched into my flesh. It's barely self-harm.

 

I can see the blue of my veins. I see it. There's blood in it. I know I sound so stupid.

 

I remember reading quotes about stardust in our blood. That we were made by the destruction of stars. But doesn't that mean we were meant to be destroyed too?

 

Maybe not. I remember once, I didn't cut because of that very quote. Because I have to keep my star dust.

 

But I want the star dust out, I want to see the scarlet red. I want to watch it drip.

 

I'm horrible. No one should still be listening, but who is listening? The voices in my head? Anxiety and depression telling me to just do it.

 

But the nice thing about anxiety is sometimes it thinks ahead. It'll be distracting to have these cuts. I know it will be. I've done this a hundred times.

 

But the scratching, that's so easy. Easy, easy, easy, I always wanted the easy way out.

 

I just raked my nails across my arm. It felt good. I need help. I should call someone right now. I should go find someone to talk to. But who's left? Who would stay through this.

 

Sometimes a panic attack isn't crying and rocking back and forth on the floor. Sometimes it's this and this is so much worse.

 

I need help. But I have to help myself because that's the only right thing to do. I've made every wrong decision and I can't keep hurting people. I've hurt enough people.

 

I would always use my thumb nail, it's the strongest. But it's so short right now and it's really annoying.

 

I'm so fragile it's insane.

 

I see the lines, red and white from when I scratched myself a few moments ago. It was deeper than I expected. But I'm not upset. I don't regret it.

 

I hate that the scars on my thigh are fading. I want them back. They're comforting. They aren't bad. Everyone else thinks they're bad but I'm not them.

 

I'm insane. I'm losing my mind. I can't keep doing this.

 

I wonder if there's still those expired pills under the sink.

 

I checked my phone. I did get a new phone after all. Part of me regrets it but part of me is glad to have access to people.

 

I have new messages. I can feel the tears pushing at the back of my eyes, but they won't fall. I want them too. People actually texted me. But I can't tell them.

 

I already put them through too much I can't do this too. That's too much.

 

I have to remember my blade.

 

I checked. I texted them back, ten minutes late and they didn't read my text. I mean they have no idea what is happening right now. It's not their fault. No. It's never their fault and if I ever cause them to think is their fault then...I'm scared to say.

 

I'm scared. I'm scared. I'm always scared.

 

Holy frick it's circles. Everything is always in circles and I feel the snake wrapping tighter and tighter and I can't breathe and I want to cry.

 

Please let me cry.

 

I have a song stuck in my head, it's from a musical. I don't want it to leave me. Not it too.

 

I put my blade in my pocket so I don't forget it.

 

No new messages.

 

No reasons not to.

 

But it's not their fault. I know it isn't. It's mine for pinning all my hope on people who don't even know what's happening. Because I make all the wrong decisions.

 

My mind won't be quiet.

 

But I still feel the stinging from when I scratched myself. And that was nothing.

 

I started. Scraping my nail back and forth over the same spot. Ripping away skin and going deeper and deeper.

 

But I paused for a moment because doing it on my wrist is so obvious. It takes at least a week to heal fully. I've tried other places on my body before but nothing is as satisfying as the wrist.

 

And now that I feel the sting I need more. I need to keep going. But will I regret it?

 

Probably not.

 

I haven't done it yet. It's been a few minutes. But if I leave this bathroom life will go on. And I don't mean that in the hopeful way. I mean no one knows what happened, everyone thinks I'm okay. But I'm not. I'm not okay and I know I need help and I want to talk to someone. I need to talk to someone but I can't.

 

I want to cut. I need to cut. But I haven't. Only out of necessity because I can't deal with the physical after effects of it. Because I'm that weak. This, this right here isn't strength. I don't know what it is.

 

I wish I cut. I want to. So bad. I miss it. I know I saw a quote once that said something like, ‘even when you stop you'll only miss it’ and I understand that on every level. I wish I knew the real quote.

 

I am messed up. And you can't say that I'm not because of everything that just happened.

 

But no ones here. No one's listening.

 

I wish I could be hopeful. I wish I could say that everything is looking up, that I'm glad that I didn't cut or keep scratching. But I can't.

 

Don't be like me. This is Hell. And I made it. I made my own Hell and I am suffering for it. I decided to start cutting however long ago that was. This is my fault. And May was right, it's my fault. I can't argue that. And I am stuck with the after effects. It's always the after effects that hurt the most.

 

I know about grounding and I know breathing exercises and I know it all. But I’m still not okay. Will I ever be okay?

 

I am still not okay. Nothing is working and I am falling apart so so quickly. I am alone and no one's coming to save me. But I can’t save myself. Not me. I'm not strong enough. I should be but I’m not. It’s so easy to let go but why haven’t I?

 

I’m scared. It may not seem like it but I do have hope for the future and I have dreams. But I’m not there yet. And I don’t know how to get there. Will I ever?

 

The ironic thing is after all that I'm still not okay.

 

Not yet. Yet. Am I just saying that at this point or do I still have hope? I don’t know. I don’t know anything.

 

I’m supposed to be getting better. But I’m just getting worse. For a little while I actually thought I was getting better, but no. I was just getting numb more often and I was mistaking not feeling the pain with no pain. But I’m still stuck like this, so so messed up. That doesn’t even do it justice. But what does it matter?

 

I want to give a hopeful message. To whoever is listening, if there is a God or something out there. If someone is really there...as if someone really cares. But if someone was listening why would they still be here after all that?

 

The most I can give is I'm still here. I don't know how. I'm still trying even if no one notices or cares. That's all I got. That’s all I got...

Chapter Text

I'm so scared because I have so much weight pulling me down but no one else deserves to be weighed down by my burdens. I can't handle it but they don't deserve it.

 

It feels like I'm still trapped in the building. More and more presses against me, trapping me against the floor. I can’t escape. Screaming and crying but no one’s there. But more and more weight is added and I can't lift it. I can't. Not even with the strength I do have I can’t lift it on my own.

 

But I would rather take all the weight than put it on someone else. Even putting some of it on them is too much. They have their own burdens pushing them down, they don’t deserve mine too. No one does.

 

 

“So how did it go with Sam?” Tony asked as I helped him make lunch. He’s been making an effort to spend more casual time with me. To just hang out.

 

Apparently Tony actually makes good sandwiches. I mean it’ll never be Delmar’s but he’s trying.

 

“It was good,” I answered non descriptively. He waited a whole day to ask me about it. I honestly would have been more up to talking to him about it if I didn’t have that panic attack last night. It really did go okay with Sam, not as informal as I would have wanted, but he doesn’t seem to hate me somehow.

 

“Care to elaborate?” He laughed as he was finishing up dressing the sandwiches. It sounded so easy and natural, no strain or sadness. That’s how I like it.

 

“We just talked. It was kinda nice. Um..but he did mention that I should ask you about something,” I ended in a murmur and he handed me my food.

 

“And what is that?” He asked, trying to be causal.

 

“When can I be Spider-Man again?” I just asked. So plain and simple it’s like the anxiety isn’t trying to choke me out.

 

Always choking, squeezing all the air out, killing me so painfully.

 

That took him aback, and it took him a second to recollect before he responded, “oh, um kid I didn’t realize you were thinking about that.”

 

“I wasn’t really,” I tried to fix the mess I was starting, “I was just wondering, but I don’t have to. It’ll be fine. I’ll be fine.”

 

“No, kid we can figure this out together. If you want to go out as Spider-Man again then we’ll figure it out,” he told me, obviously just trying to make me happy. But it’s nice to have someone that wants me happy.

 

“I don’t know...can we just relax for right now?” I really don’t know. I don’t know how that would work and it’s not like I can help anyone anymore anyway. But I do miss it. I miss swinging around, I miss being helpful, I miss the people wanting me.

 

“Yeah, of course,” he finally picked up his plate and led me to the couch. I followed, sitting right next to him and he went through the movie options. All comedies.

 

It’s hard to eat. Like, when my anxiety is so high I just can’t do it. But then I don’t eat anything for possibly days at a time and I can’t do that. But when I do eat I feel like I’m going to throw up, and sometimes I do. Most days I only eat dinner because I mentally can’t handle breakfast and lunch doesn’t typically work out. But with my metabolism then it always feels like my stomach is trying to eat itself, but then I try to eat and it still hurts. I can’t win.

 

But Tony keeps worrying. He keeps trying to get me to eat more often and in bigger amounts when I do eat. I appreciate him trying but I just don’t work like that. I can’t just eat three meals a day anymore. Even just eating two makes me feel nauseous. And I know that’s probably not good but I don’t have a choice.

 

I was able to take a few bites before I started to feel sick. So that’s good, there are some days that a single bite will make me feel horrible. I tried to casually watch the movie, but I knew Tony was watching to see if I’d eat more.

 

I dared to take another bite. But it was too much. I literally can’t eat anymore without losing it all. I feel bad though, I don’t mean to waste food. I don’t want to. I wouldn’t even be eating now if he hadn’t already been making it for me.

 

But he didn’t say anything and we just watched the movie. It was nice to just be able to relax. My mind was a bit quieter, and though that may not seem like much it really is. Any moment were my mind is not screaming at me is a pretty good one.

 

Chapter Text

Wanda still hasn’t talked to me. She must hate me. I’m not surprised, everyone does eventually. Even the people who say they’ll stay never do. They never will. I guess...I still like to hope they will, even for a little while.

 

I believed Tony. He’s leaving. He says it’ll only be for a night, that he’ll be back by the time I wake up tomorrow.

 

But I’m scared. I didn’t tell him that I’ve been having nightmares. They keep getting worse. It’s terrifying.

 

But knowing Tony is there if I need him, it helps. But he won’t be here. He’s leaving. He’s a billionaire he could be all the way across the world and never come back and I would never be able to find him.

 

But wouldn’t it be easier for him to just kick me out? I don’t know, I don’t know what he has in mind. And that’s scary too.

 

I had a nightmare last night that Tony hurt me. Physically hurt me. And I didn’t even try to stop him. Because I knew that if Tony...if Tony thought I deserve to be hit then I must deserve it. So I took it. All of it. But he wouldn't stop. He wouldn’t stop.

 

I woke up crying. Terrified. I haven’t felt that scared since May found out about the self-harm. But I just stayed curled up in bed crying. But I had to keep my eyes open because every time, every time I closed my eyes I would just see him hurting me. Again and again. An inescapable nightmare.

 

But he really is leaving this time. I want to hope he’ll come back, but that would be stupid, wouldn’t it?

 

 

“What do you mean you’ll be gone?” Tony demanded.

 

“Woah, I’m sorry I never would have made plans if I knew you needed someone to stay with Peter,” Sam explained.

 

Tony huffed out a breath, “and Steve is going too?”

 

“Yeah...what about Happy?” Sam suggested.

 

“He’s with Pepper in China right now. Wanda’s here...but that won’t work out,” he thought aloud. “What is it? I know you’re thinking something.”

 

“Bucky will be here.”

 

The anger and protectiveness that flared in Tony’s eyes was frightening to say the least.

 

“Hey, I know things are...tense between you two but...I do trust him. Don’t tell him I said that though,” Sam dared to end with a small smile.

 

“If anything, anything, goes wrong…” Tony didn’t need to end the sentence for Sam to know what he means.

 

 

I sat with him as he packed. I couldn't find it in me to help him. I’m just that selfish.

 

As he zipped up his suitcase, he broke the silence, “so Pete, I don’t want to leave you alone while I’m gone. So how would you feel about meeting Bucky?” There was something behind his eyes, a kind of strain I haven’t seen before.

 

“But I thought…” I didn’t dare finish my sentence, knowing it’ll only upset him. “Okay.”

 

“I’ll be back soon,” he put a reassuring hand on my shoulder. It was nice. But then he quickly broke off in a swear and snatched up his bag, saying he was running late.

 

 

Tony left a few minutes ago. And I already feel that snake tightening its hold on my chest, squeezing and squeezing all the air out of my lungs.

 

He told me he’ll be back. But I didn’t want him to go in the first place. He didn’t even wait long enough for me to actually meet Bucky.

 

I’m not planning on leaving my room. I just stayed sitting on my bed, waiting for time to pass but it goes so slow when I’m alone. I can’t leave my room, I’ll just fall apart. The snake won’t let me breathe, but I’m not hyperventilating yet.

 

It’s almost dinner time. I don’t need to eat though. I won’t starve, one meal won’t kill me so what’s the harm?

 

“Master Parker, Sergeant Barnes requests your presence for dinner,” Friday announced, only for the snake to coil tighter around me. Tighter and tighter.

 

“No-no I can’t Friday,” I barely managed to get out while my breathing increased.

 

“Sergeant Barnes asks if are in need of assistance,” she won’t just shut up!

 

I couldn't even respond as I rocked back and forth on my bed, it won’t stop. It never stops.

 

Why can’t I just get better? I never get better. If anything I’m just getting worse and worse and worse and I’m just running in circles and more circles and there’s no way out there’s no way-

 

Knocking.

 

No. No! Go away! Go away!

 

Knocking.

 

“Peter? Are you okay?” No. Never okay, never okay. I never will be okay.

 

I clutched the sides of my head, but nothing ever works. My mind won’t just shut up already and the thoughts won’t stop. The snake is stealing all the air left in me.

 

“I’m coming in, Peter,” it has to be Sergeant Barnes. Everyone else left.

 

He opened the door and immediately upon seeing my state he seemed to go into a different state. Somehow a sort of calm seemed to overcome him, and he slowly approached me.

 

“Hi, Peter. My name is Bucky. Tony asked for me to stay with you. I’m here to help,” the way he spoke...I didn’t mind that noise.

 

My breathing was too uneven for me to form a response.

 

He carefully stepped closer to my bed. “Can I sit with you, Peter?”

 

I barely managed to nod as my stomach lurched. That doesn’t even make any sense, I haven’t even eaten anything in a day. There’s nothing in my stomach to throw up. But if there were I know I would have gotten sick all over my bed. Tony would be so mad.

 

“Can you try to breathe with me?” He asked, sitting next to me. Not in front of me, not blocking the exit.

 

That’s what Tony would always tell me.

 

I rapidly shook my head no, before I gagged.

 

Dry heaving sucks, I almost wish there was something in me to let out.

 

“Can I touch you?” He asked carefully, calmly. It almost makes me mad that he can be so calm when I’m just not.

 

I barely nodded as a few tears strayed out of my eyes. I didn’t mean to cry.

 

He gently maneuvered himself and me so that I’m practically in his lap as he holds me. One of his arms is metal, as I remember, but it didn’t feel so hard and cold like I would expect. He made it so my head was against his chest, it was warm. Comforting.

 

I could hear his heart. It reminds me of Tony. But this is different. But can it still be good?

 

I hiccuped as I tried not to cry anymore.

 

“Let yourself cry,” his voice came out softer than I ever would have thought possible.

 

And I did. I let out a sob, quickly covering my mouth to mask the atrocious noise.

 

He used his flesh hand to gently take mine away from my face.

 

The sobs that escaped me are so ugly and awful and I need to stop but I can’t. But he didn’t let me go. He didn’t let me go.

 

He stayed with me for what must have been at least an hour as I cried myself into exhaustion. I tried to fight off sleep as much as I could but I just couldn’t. I’m weak.

 

But he stayed.

 

Chapter Text

I woke up with a cry. And I felt something, no someone, confining me, holding me down. I screamed and thrashed and that should have pushed them away from me but I must be even weaker because they only held me tighter. I could hear a voice but I couldn't make out what it was saying but I just want to get away.

 

And tears fell from my eyes and I kept screaming and crying and begging to be let go. And they did. But they stayed there. And I tried to push them away but they wouldn't budge. I knew I'm weak. I can't even get this person away from me. I can't even fight back. I can't even protect myself.

 

“Peter?” The voice was calm when it finally came through. It was nice.

 

“It's Bucky.” I-I think I like Bucky.

 

“It's just me, I'm here.” Here.

 

“I'm not going to hurt you.” I'm safe?

 

I finally relaxed a little, slumping back down. My breathing finally evening out as I calmed down.

 

“I'm sorry I scared you,” he apologized. I tried to mumble something but I'm so desperate for comfort I just crawled over and leaned against him. He wrapped his protective arms around me and I almost felt safe.

 

It's strange how when one person sees you vulnerable, they leave, and one panics, but one may stay. One may stay, and maybe that's enough.

 

“You had a nightmare,” he stated the obvious but I didn't mind. I mumbled in agreement and waited to see if he would continue.

 

I had a nightmare. Because why would I get a break when I'm sleeping? Why would I think that my mind would ever give me a break?

 

“Do you want to talk about it?” He asked, not pressing or forcing, it actually felt like I had the option.

 

“It was scary,” I whispered.

 

“They all are,” he agreed.

 

“Do you get nightmares?” I asked, before quickly realizing how rude that was.

 

Before I was able to retract my stupid question he answered honestly, “almost every night.”

 

“How do you deal with them?” I can't handle them anymore.

 

“Steve is almost always there. He stays with me through them and talks me down when I'm freaking out,” his voice filled with so much deep emotion it's surprising he didn't get lost in it.

 

“Is he your constant?” I asked. Wait will he even understand what I mean?

 

I need constants to survive. Something I can depend on, not worry if it'll be there, something I can pin my hope on. Spider-Man was one of mine, but that got taken away too. I really love photography but the only reason it's not really a constant is because no one knows how much I love it.

 

But if you're someone's constant, or if someone is yours...that is something special, to say the least. I need that. Someone that I don't have to worry about if they'll leave, if I'll be too much for them. Someone that would listen and hold me as I cried, that would take the time to talk me down from a panic attack...or from…

 

But that's not something I can or should ever ask of anyone.

 

“Yeah. Yeah he is. Is Tony yours?”

 

“I want him to be.” But he can't.

 

“But is he?” He pressed, gently.

 

“He's trying, but I can't ask any more of him. He already does so much more than I could ever expect of him.” I just can't do that.

 

“I'll try to be your constant.” What? Wait what? There's...there's no way, I must have misheard him. It must have been wishful thinking.

 

“What did you say?” I questioned, not believing that he really said what I hoped with all my heart that he said.

 

“I want to be your constant.”

Chapter Text

Tony said he would be back by the time I wake up, but I guess he didn’t expect me to be waking up in the middle of the night with a...horrific nightmare. But Bucky is here. Even when I thrashed and tried to get away he still stayed.

 

“Do you want to try to eat?” Bucky asked after a while. He actually asked if I want to try, he’s not forcing me into it.

 

“I dunno if I can,” I actually answered honestly.

 

“That’s okay, maybe you can drink some water if you’re up to it,” he so calm, it’s nice. He actually is leaving it up to me? It’s my choice? How is he not mad or disappointed? Probably because we don’t know each other well enough for him to be disappointed in me.

 

“I’m sorry I tried to fight you when I woke up,” I murmured, shrinking in on myself. What is wrong with me?

 

“Don’t worry about it, you were scared and trying to defend yourself,” he reasoned for me. I don’t understand how he can be so casual about it.

 

“I felt trapped.” I don’t know why I told him that.

 

“It’s a horrible feeling to feel trapped,” he agreed.

 

But he doesn’t know what I mean. I always feel like I’m back at Homecoming. That the building is crashing down and I’m underneath, pressed against the ground. More and more weight pressing against me, pushing all the air out of my lungs. I’m screaming, screaming but I know no one is coming to save me. I have to save my myself but I can’t. I just can’t.

 

“Can I ask what happened to make you feel trapped?” He asked, but not pressed. How does he know something happened? But I guess if he understands the feeling, he could figure it out. But he shouldn’t have had to know the feeling.

 

I shrugged, knowing he knew that I do know. I didn’t even tell Tony what really happened at Homecoming.

 

“I won’t judge you,” he assured me.

 

“It was my fault,” I meant to just start there but my thoughts all decided to voice themselves aloud, “if I wasn’t just so stupid it wouldn’t have happened. Tony told me not to go after the Vulture but he was there. He’s Liz’s dad and I thought I could stop him because if I just let him go and he hurt people that would be my fault. I have to do something because I can do something but I was alone. Ned tried to talk me through it but he had to go and Happy wouldn't come because he doesn’t like me. Or maybe didn’t like me.”

 

I finally took a breath but I still kept going, not giving him time to respond, I didn’t realize how much I needed to let this out, “he, Tony, said that Happy likes me but he never came. He never came and he apologized but if he just came then maybe I could have been okay.” Am I talking about Homecoming or the day May found out? “But I’m not okay, I just keep getting worse. I’m supposed to be getting better but I’m not. I’m trapped and it feels like I let the building crash down on me again. And that’s my fault because I’m stupid and I didn’t even think that he was trying to collapse the building. But he’s smart and he trapped me under. And I couldn't breathe. I couldn’t breathe. And I screamed and I screamed and I was so scared, so so scared but I knew no one would come.”

 

I tried to even out my breathing but I can’t, I can’t, but I kept going, “I was crying and screaming but I knew I had to save myself because if I can’t save myself then I’m not worth saving. But it hurt. So so much and I tried to lift it but so much weight was on me. It was crushing me and I should have died but why-why didn’t I just let myself die? I could have just let myself die and no one could blame me because I should have died. I should have. But I couldn't just let him go and so I lifted all the rubble and rocks and metal and all that weight off me. But I don’t think it ever really left me. I still can’t breathe and I’m still screaming for help but no one's coming and I know they aren’t, because why would they?”

 

I would think it would take him a few minutes to process everything I just spewed out of the depths of my mind, but it didn’t.

 

“Why do you think you don’t deserve to be saved?”

 

Why would I? So many people could have died because of me. I let Ben die, and that’s my fault. I could have stopped that shooter but I didn’t. I didn’t. And then at the ferry I almost killed hundreds of people. Hundreds. And then my stupidity and arrogance almost let the Vulture hurt who knows how many people. I’m no better than the criminals I claim to try to stop.

 

“I hurt people.” I hurt May, I hurt Tony, I killed Uncle Ben, I hurt Bucky, I hurt Happy. I can’t stop hurting people.

 

But I’m hurt too.

 

“But you’re trying, and that’s all you can do,” on some level I know he makes sense but my mind can’t accept that. I didn’t even try to stop Uncle Ben’s killer and that’s why Uncle Ben is dead. Because I didn't try. I’m no better than the man that killed him.

 

“I could have done more.” I should have done more.

 

“You don’t know the future, you couldn't have known what happened. But all you can do right now is trying to do the best to help yourself. And before you say that’s selfish, it’s not. Talking to people, getting help, it’s not selfish. It’s doing what’s best for you and that’s important.” How can he care so much about me?

 

“I’m scared,” my small voice sounds so lame and weak.

 

I’m always scared.

 

“I’m with you, every step of the way.”

Chapter Text

Though he displayed a air of confidence and calm, anyone that actually knew him, not just the persona he plays, could tell he was panicking inside. After a long day of meetings with people who only care about his money, Tony finally was able to get away long enough to call Pepper.

 

It was strange for anyone to see a Stark shaking, his breathing too fast, his eyes so distant and scared.

 

The phone rang three times before she finally answered, just long enough for him to be set deeper into his anxiety.

 

“Pep,” he breathed out, his facade chipping away more and more.

 

“Tony, hey, it’ll be okay,” without him even saying anything she knew exactly what he needed to hear, “you’ll be back with him soon.”

 

“I left him, Pep,” he ran a hand over his tired face, not caring how he looks.

 

“You didn’t leave him forever, you’re coming back. You’ll be back with Peter and it’ll all be fine again. And he’s not alone, he’s safe,” she knew that the fear of Peter...doing something was strong in Tony’s mind.

 

“He’s with Bucky,” Tony didn’t bring himself to say more, he knows Pepper is smart enough to read between the lines.

 

“Things were doing better between you guys. And I know you would never let Peter stay with someone that you think might hurt him,” her soothing voice did wonders.

 

Tony sighed, knowing she’s right, as if she isn't always right.

 

 

Bucky stayed with me the whole time. Maybe he was telling the truth about wanting to be my constant. I hope so. Maybe I can actually let myself hope for this.

 

It was nice, curled up on the couch next to Bucky. Maybe he would stay.

 

Then Friday announced that Tony has arrived. Tony actually came back.

 

I had just gotten up from the couch when he walked in with such a big smile on his face. I actually hugged him first this time. I just lunged forward, wrapping my arms around him. Just as I realized that I touched The Tony Stark without consent he wrapped his arms around me.

 

He actually came back.

 

 

It was only after Peter had gone to sleep that Tony confronted Bucky.

 

“How did it go?” He asked, knowing Bucky would know what he’s referring to.

 

“It went well, I think. We talked a lot,” Bucky was so casual about the fact that Peter actually talked to someone.

 

“What do you mean by ‘talked a lot’, he opened up to you?” Tony couldn’t help the jealousy burning up in him because if Peter was supposed to open up to someone it was supposed to be him or even Sam. Not Bucky.

 

But he knew what the Stark was feeling, “I know you wanted him to talk to you, but isn’t the fact that he opened up at all a really good thing? Sometimes it’s easier to open up to a stranger than someone who you actually really care how they see you.”

 

“I hate that you’re right,” was all Tony’s response was. He wanted to ask what Peter told him so badly, but he knew Bucky wouldn’t betray Peter’s trust like that. “How can I help him?”

 

“He’s holding in a lot, a lot more than you or I even know about. You can talk to Sam about it more, since he’s actually a professional, but the kid really does need help. I’m not sure the extent of what he needs, I don’t even think any medications would be strong enough for him,” Bucky explained. “And I’m saying that in the most caring way,” he clarified.

 

“Helen Cho said she was working on some medications for him, but it’s taking a long time since his metabolism is so different than anything she’s ever seen before.” He hadn’t told Peter that yet.

 

“You know, me and Steve are always here for both you and Peter,” he was so dead serious, it was almost scary.

 

“Yeah,” Tony didn’t meet his eye.

 

 

“Sam,” Tony once again just barged into a conversation and stole Sam away.

 

“Yeah?” He asked, though he had a pretty good idea of where the conversation was heading.

 

“What is the best way to help Peter?” He didn’t have time to dance around the issue, he’s a fixer and he hasn’t fixed anything yet.

 

“Well, it’s a long process, Tony. It takes time,” Sam began.

 

“Yeah, I know that. But he is still suffering and I don’t know what to do to help him,” if you listened closely you could almost hear the pleading in his voice.

 

Sam only took a second to think, “Well he definitely needs to be talking to a professional, if I’m that professional then that’s perfect. If he wants someone else that works too, but he needs to be talking to someone trained to do this.”

 

“I haven’t talked to him about talking to you again yet,” Tony admitted.

 

“Okay, well that needs to happen soon. These are very serious issues and we don’t even know all of it. I do think it’s best for him to stay here, it doesn’t seem like being with May was a good environment for him,” he continued.

 

“It wasn’t,” he agreed, waiting for Sam to say more.

 

“If you can figure out medications for him that would be great. But most importantly we have to make sure there’s always someone around. Not like a babysitter, that would makes him feel trapped. But always someone in the building that he can go to. And we have to make sure there are protocols for Friday that he can’t change.”

 

“I’ve already been working on that in my free time, he’s a smart kid though. I’m still trying to figure out how he got past the protocols I already have,” Tony ran his hand their his hair in frustration. He just wants his kid safe, but that’s a lot harder than it should be.

 

“Okay, well then it’s just being there for him and listening. Don’t judge, express disappointment, or try to make him guilty. That would just cause everything to escalate in a way you don’t want it to. Make sure he’s safe but don’t try to force him into anything, like saying something he’s not comfortable with or showing you his scars are anything,” Sam explained.

 

“Yeah, that makes sense,” he agreed, already thinking of ways to talk to Peter.



Chapter Text

Tony came back this time. But he’s just gonna leave again. That’s how it works. But when he leaves again, he might not come back. And even if he does, he won’t want me anymore.

 

He’s going to marry Miss Potts in the summer. In the summer he is going to leave me. He’s going to choose her over me, but that’s how it’s supposed to be. I can’t be upset with him for being with her. I can’t be upset with him for leaving me.

 

But I am upset. I’m scared. I’m scared because he will leave again and I’ll be alone and then I’ll just fall back into that person before he came.

 

I thought I was getting a little better, inching and inching towards improvement. But he’ll leave and I’ll fall back a million miles.

 

I thought I was getting better, but in so many ways I am just getting worse. If I am already getting worse what will be left by the time he’s married? How am I supposed to live like this?

 

I can’t.

 

Before Tony saved me, I was in...such a horrible place, the word horrible doesn’t even do it justice. I wasn’t living. But he came and he stayed with me and he helped me. He was my reason to hold on. But I’m going to lose him, I’m going to lose that. And I’ll be left in an even worse place than I was in before because now I know what I’m losing. I know what I’m missing. And it hurts.

 

This is the first time I’ve let myself cry over his wedding.

 

I should be happy. And I am. I am happy he is happy. I am happy he found his love. But I’m so scared.

 

But I just have to keep up the facade another few months and then I can break.

 

I can’t stand living without him here, without him with me. God, I’m so selfish.

 

It hurts to try to keep my crying quiet.

 

When I got depression, that is when my life stopped. That is when I began drowning in emotions and numbness and pain and tears and so much pain. And I’m scared that when he leaves again I’ll just fall back into that hole and maybe when the waves crash harder again, he won’t be there to help pull me out of the water. And maybe I’ll finally drown. Finally.

 

It’s already hard to swim when someone is trying to help you fight against all the merciless waves crashing and crashing against you. It’s already hard to swim with the water is pulling you down, grabbing you and pulling you deeper and deeper. It’s already hard to swim when you’ve been swimming for so long, so long. I can’t keep trying to swim. I’m too weak. I’ve never had the strength to go forever, so why not stop now? Why not stop when I know I’ll end?

 

I used to let myself hope that I would be able to live with Tony. Not just stay a little while, but really life here. To really belong here. But I know better than that. I know better. And I still did it anyway. Because that’s how stupid I am.

 

Just a few months and my life will fall apart. Just a few months and I’ll finally drown. Just a few months and my life will end.

 

I always knew I would live a short life.

 

But it’s not like I was really living before.

 

I’ll have to go back. Back to her. I'll have to be left alone with her again. Alone with all the things she says and all the things she does. I can’t keep doing that. I can’t go back to that. Back to her. I’m too weak.

 

I’m always too weak.

Chapter Text

Maybe it’s better if I don’t talk at all. Not like never speak, but never really talk. Never open up. Never put my weight on anyone else.

 

Every time I try to open up, talk about how I feel, say my thoughts, I only hurt people. Every every time. I add weight to them. Even if they say I don’t, I know I do. You can’t just not add weight to someone when you talk to them. They don’t deserve to take any of my weight, it’s mine for a reason.

 

No matter how hard I try not to hurt anyone, I still do. I always do. Even if they say I’m not hurting them, that it’s okay to open up, its not. If I haven’t hurt them already, I will. That’s my reality. I want to be able to talk, to release, but I can’t. I can’t ever do that to anyone.

 

But the selfish part of me already has. I actually believe people when they say I’m not hurting them, that I’m not making it harder for them, that I’m not adding weight. But I know I am. I have to stop. But I’m so desperate for people, to be listened to. I need to shut that off. I need to or I’ll only hurt more people that I care about. I would rather do this alone than hurt anyone else.

 

That’s my reality.

 

I have to stay numb, that’s the easiest way. If I could control my dissociation I would do that, but I can’t. And I can only make myself go to that middle ground when I force myself to stop crying, but I can never get myself out.

 

I have to stop. Stop talking to people, stop shoving my weight on them, stop justifying my actions. I can’t keep playing the victim when I’m the one hurting them. I keep putting myself first and I shouldn’t. I shouldn’t be so selfish. I have to stop.

 

But part of me doesn’t want to. Part of me is too scared to do this on my own.

 

But I’m more scared to lose everyone. And that’s how I keep losing people. And I’ll lose everyone else. The best way to keep them is to keep them at a distance. Maybe they won’t leave that way. Maybe they’ll stay.

 

People can say they’ll stay. People can promise they’ll stay but that’s not a promise anyone can make. You can want them to promise, you can think that they should, but they can’t do that.

 

People have the right to leave. Just as much as I have the right to leave. I don’t know if it applies to everyone, or only to certain situations, but with everyone that left me...yeah it hurt, but they have to right to. I have no right to stop them from doing what’s best for them. And if what is best for them is to leave me, then that's what they should do. I can be hurt for a little while. But I can’t be upset, that’s not fair to them. I can't be upset for them putting themselves first.

 

And they should be put first, they’re important. And my cruel need to release is not enough to overthrow their need to be okay. And so the best way to help them do that is to stop hurting them. It should be easy. I just have to make myself.

 

I used to cut to punish myself for every person I hurt. And the stinging after reminded me why I had to cut, and reminded me to stop hurting them. It was effective and I actually stopped putting weight on people, it was good. I need that back. I know I can find a way to be effective again.

 

Chapter Text

I'm really confused.

 

I don't understand and I don't think I can. I don't think my mind will let me.

 

I understand why people leave, but why would they come back?

 

I don’t understand.

 

But I don’t think I can understand, I don’t think my mind will let me. My mind never lets me.

 

That sounds stupid. I know it does, but that’s how it is. My mind is so so loud and I try to see logic and reasoning but my emotions are so much stronger. Sometimes I even understand the logical point of view, but my emotions scream so much more and so I don’t have a choice but to listen to that instead. Sometimes I really hate my reality.

 

But I still want to feel real. Sometimes when I dissociate, before I really float away I just don’t feel alive. I don’t feel real. I need to feel real.

 

Sometimes I would cut so I could see myself bleed. Because if I bled, that would have to mean I’m real, right? I have to be real because if I’m not real then I’m not valid. And if I’m not valid I can’t be helped and I need help. God, do I need help.

 

Sometimes I wonder if it’s okay to put a little bit of weight on people, on those that seem to care. Is anyone strong enough to do this on their own? Even Tony has Colonel Rhodes, Miss Potts, and Happy. But they care about him. Tony says he cares about me.

 

But doesn’t that have to be true? Why else would he stay? I don’t benefit him at all so there’s no other reason for him to let me stay here. Wouldn’t he have left by now if he didn’t care a little bit about me?

 

Am I just Peter Parker?

 

Am I nothing more?

 

 

It...it was actually a good day.

 

Nothing horrific happened. I didn't have a panic attack. I didn't have a mental breakdown. My mind wasn't even too loud.

 

I just relaxed all day and it was nice. I can't remember the last time I just had a good day.

 

I never told Tony, or anyone really, but I do like to draw. Nothing special or good just little doodles for fun. It actually calms me down a lot.

 

It distracts me, but it doesn't even hurt me. Which is weird. It helps my mind quiet down a lot. Sometimes I'll even draw on my skin, having the sensation of doing something to my skin really really helps. It's even kept me from cutting a few times.

 

But I'm scared to draw on my skin now because what if someone sees? If I get sent back to May she'll make me take off my clothes and she'll see and she won't understand. But here, I know Friday is watching me. And she'll probably tell Tony and I don't want to have to explain to him. And so I just don't anymore.

 

But drawing on paper still helps. I have a small notebook filled with little drawings I've done. Pretty much all day today I've been doodling and it's been really really nice.

 

I was drawing still when I heard a knock at the door.

 

“Peter?” I let out a sigh of relief when it was Bucky’s voice that came through.

 

It's not like I don't want to see Tony it's just it's harder to explain stuff like this to him.

 

“You can come in,” I called out, knowing he wouldn't enter without permission.

 

He opened the door slowly, as to not startle me. And he always leaves it open when he comes in. Giving me an escape. It's like he knows all my triggers without me telling him.

 

Though I did close my notebook he still knew somehow, “you like to draw?” He asked, sitting down next to me on my bed.

 

I nodded, holding the drawings close to my chest. This is one thing that is mine.

 

“Steve draws a lot, it helps him calm down,” Bucky continued. He didn't even press to see my drawings.

 

I loosened my hold on them, “Really?”

 

“Yeah, he actually draws a lot. And they're really good,” he chuckled “I'm sure he would love to draw with you sometime if you're up to it.”

 

I opened my notebook again, “that sounds nice.”


I didn't even think it was possible for me to have a good day.

Chapter Text

Do you ever get in one of those moods where you just need to cry? But you can’t? Yeah...that’s me right now.

 

I'm not really sure what’s wrong with my mind right now. I don’t feel myself. Maybe I should be freaked out. It’s almost like the middle ground, but I don’t have that panic that always comes with that. I feel the tears pressing at the back of my eyes but I can’t let them out. I want to...for once. But they won’t come.

 

I feel like I should talk to someone. Maybe they can help. But who would understand? I’m not sure if this is dissociation. It seems like there are different kinds and ways of dissociation. Maybe this is just another way. I’m not sure.

 

I feel like I should do something. Like I should be feeling something.

 

I don’t really feel real.

 

No. No, I can’t do this again.

 

But there are not a lot of ways to feel real. Cutting, crying, throwing up, scratching, talking to someone, someone being here with me. But no one’s here. And no one’s coming.

 

Maybe if I asked for Tony he would come. Or maybe Bucky.

 

But they have so much weight on them already…

 

I have to be careful with Bucky. He knows so much but that doesn’t mean he still doesn’t carry so so much weight. More than I’ll ever know. I can’t treat him like he’s invincible. Because he’s not. He’s strong. Undoubtedly.

 

But my weight might be too much. It’s too much for me so why not for him?

 

But I need to feel real. Why can’t I feel real?

 

It’s like my body doesn’t know how to cry anymore.

 

Why do I have to struggle through every day?

 

When two people are drowning one can save themself by pushing off the other one to reach the surface and finally breathe. But that’s not right.

 

But if one isn’t drowning and the other is? Don’t you have to go into the water to save them? That’s weight. That’s not right.

 

But they aren’t here to save me. No. They are just here to help me along, to help teach me to swim.

 

I can't even cry. I cry all the time and I can't even cry right now.

 

They aren’t meant to save me. I can’t put that on anyone. Not even Iron Man. Because past all that ‘iron’ is a man that’s really tired, but he’s still holding on somehow. He isn’t unbreakable and I can’t put more on him.

 

I can’t push him deeper into the water when we are both struggling to swim.

 

I feel like my mind is inside trying to break its way out. But my body is so far away and is watching my mind go insane but it doesn't feel it.

 

I’m probably dissociating, but I don’t know why it’s happening so much more often nowadays. I’m not even sure why it’s happening right this second.

 

This is just one of those things that happens sometimes, but it’s so hard to do on my own.

 

If I draw on myself will I feel more real?

 

I haven’t drawn on myself in so long…I miss it.

 

I finally got myself up from being curled up on my bed and grabbed some markers. I quickly made my way into the bathroom and prepared myself. It's been too long since I've done this.

 

It only took a moment of thought to know what I would draw first. In the safety of the bathroom I rolled down my pants, exposing my scar covered thigh. I grabbed the red marker and began tracing over every scar I could see.

 

They're so faded. They're not supposed to fade away. I don't want them to.

 

I guess I never went deep enough.

 

I used to be able to see over eighty cuts on the one thigh. Now you can only twenty four scars, and that is when you are trying to look for them. Only twenty four.

 

That's not enough.

 

I had designated my right thigh for cuts, and my left thigh for drawings.

 

I then took every color except for red and made line after horizontal line on my left thigh. It looked pretty, all the colorful lines overlapping and blending in with each other.

 

But my right thigh isn't beautiful. Cutting isn't beautiful. It isn't pretty. It is blood and stinging and pain and numbness and being trapped trying to find freedom. It's a cage that looks like an open door. It's a hole you can't dig your way out of. But it looks so inviting.

 

Not enough people realize the amount of emotional suffering one has to go through that physical pain is the only way out.

 

My left thigh is so colorful. So bright.

 

The right one is so bare. Only a twenty four lines. Maybe less, maybe it was just wishful thinking for some of those scars to still be visible.

 

I should be happy, relieved, that my scars are fading. But I'm not. I don't want them to fade away. I don't want them to disappear. To leave. I can't lose them too.

 

I don't want to forget. I don't want to pretend this didn't happen. It's a part of me whether anyone wants it to be or not. Maybe the worst part of me...I don't know. But it is real. That is real.

 

My mind is starting to sync back up with my body. Like before I just watched my body move and now I'm starting to feel it more.

 

As I start to feel more real again, my mind only grows louder.

 

I had to take a second to clutch my head and breathe for a moment, not having been prepared for such an increase in volume from my brain.

 

After a moment I ran one of my hands over my left thigh, tracing my fingers over the lines.

 

There's this design I used to do, it did a good job distracting me. It was just a bunch of curved and squiggly lines and circles in a big mess. But I would color them in, in every color but red, and it would look pretty. I could make it as big or small as I wanted and either way it distracted me. It was a constant.

 

I began that again. Random circles and curves and squiggles. And I filled it all in. It's good. I can't leave until it's completely filled in. Until it's complete.

 

It's pretty. It's not large but not small either, it kind of looks like a flower. It's weird how the colors look different on my skin than on paper.

 

My mind isn't so loud right now.

 

 

Tony came into the room, purpose etched into his features, “Wanda, do you know where Sam is?”

 

“Um..I do not recall seeing him today. Is everything okay?” She immediately rose from the couch she was on, previously reading a book.

 

“I need to talk to him,” he walked right out of the room, still on a mission. She followed.

 

“Peter,” she didn't have to read his mind to know what the worry was about. “Is he okay?”

 

He huffed out a breath, “I just need to find Sam. Friday, I thought you said he was in there.”

After a small apology, Friday led him to the right room, Wanda right on his tail.

 

He didn't bother to excuse his interruption, yet again, “Sam, I need to ask you something.”

 

That quickly got him from his casual posture to full on therapist mode.

 

Not caring that Wanda was right there, Tony went on and asked anyway, “is there any reason that Peter would be bringing markers into the bathroom with him? Friday alerted me that he did that, and is still in the bathroom but has no physical harm.”

 

Sam let out a sigh of relief, “oh, that's a common coping technique for people who struggle with self-harm. It's a good thing, Tony.”

 

“Good,” he scoffed, “good that he needs to cope with something and isn't coming to anyone?”

 

“It's good that he's looking for other ways to help himself,” Sam reasoned.

 

“Should I go check on him?” He asked, so clearly out of his domain of knowledge.

 

“If he comes to you then that's great, but give him some space right now. The last thing you want is for him to feel like he doesn't have privacy. That's one of the things May took from him. If he feels that way here it'll be a lot harder to have trust,” Sam explained further.

 

“He's right, Stark,” Wanda voiced in, cautiously.

 

Tony then turned to her for the first time in that conversation, “have you talked to him, since…”

 

“Since what?” Sam asked, only to be ignored.

 

“No, I can't face him,” she couldn't face Stark either, with her eyes drawn down.

 

Sam repeated his question.

 

“It...I don't know what it was,” for once Tony Stark did not have the words to describe a situation.

 

“Whatever it is,” he addressed both of them, “if you are avoiding Peter it has to be clear that it is not his fault. And even if you say it isn't he probably will take the blame anyway.

 

Tony sucked in a breath, that very plausible reality settling even more fear in him. You could see the tears brimming in Wanda’s eyes.

 

“I messed up,” Tony breathed out.

 

 

I decided that maybe taking up Bucky’s offer to draw with Steve may not be a terrible idea.

 

After who even knows how long, I finally exited the bathroom, fresh drawings on my leg. It was nice.

Chapter Text

I shouldn’t ask. I know better. I know I know better. But it’s just really hard to stay calm when my notebooks are all filled to the brim and my markers are drying out. It’s not even like I can use the markers on the paper anyway because I decided they are for my skin and therefore they have to be for my skin because that ruins them anyway.

 

My mind needs to stop being so loud loud loud loud LOUD!

 

My hands are shaking and there’s nothing I can do to stop it.

 

I’m ready to smash my head open just to get it to be quiet quiet it won’t be quiet…

 

I could ask Tony for a new notebook but it’s not a necessity and I don’t need to do that to him. And yeah I know he has the money but it’s still not a necessity. But it’s necessary for my mental state.

 

I’m probably pinning too much on just some bad drawings.

 

I hate myself for…

 

I mean I know better, I should be better than this. I know it’s not May’s fault that we didn’t have as much money. But I shouldn't be relieved that Tony does have money just because I miss being able to…

 

I need to stop. Stop worrying about money. I need to stay quiet, I know better than to say anything. Anytime I ever said anything to May I knew she would say no, but I still asked anyway because I’m an idiot. I know better than to ask because she’ll just feel bad and she’ll just be reminded even more that I’m a burden. She would be so much better off without me.

 

But if I...died, a funeral costs a lot of money. But in the long run it would help.

 

But I’m not there anymore. I don’t have to worry about that anymore because she doesn’t want me.

 

Has she called? Does she still want to talk to me?

 

Loud. Loud. Loud loud loud loud loud loud loud loud loud!

 

It won’t stop.

 

Tony said he can get May to leave me alone, but does that mean he blocked her, or she just stopped trying? I can ask but then he’ll think I want to go back to her and I don’t want to go back to her. I can’t go back to her. I can’t I can’t please don’t make me go back I can’t do that I can’t make it I’m so weak and I won’t be able to survive and it’ll get so so much worse and I can’t do that I’m supposed to be getting better but I can’t get better there.

 

I always hated it when I would hear May talk about money. It’s not like she actively tried to hide or show it to me but I would still hear it. And the snake always tightens so so much harder and I know that she doesn’t deserve to have to take care of me.

 

If I just ran away, everything would be so much easier.

 

But I never considered that they would find me. I could hide from the police, but if Tony had come after me...he would be able to find me. And I would be in an even worse place than I started.

 

I just want to cry. I need to do something I can’t deal with this loud loud loud loud all alone.

 

I want Tony here, but I already put him through so much. I need someone here, but the thought just makes the snake so much tighter. The thought that I’ll add more weight to them. That even when they say I’m not adding weight, I really am because I always am. But they say I don’t because they don’t want to upset me but I know better. I know better. But I need someone here.

 

The tears are pressing at the backs of my eyes and I desperately need them to fall. I need something if I can’t have someone.

 

I haven’t cried in a few days. It’s nice to cry again. But I still wish someone was here. But no one's coming. No one ever is.

 

Why can’t anyone ever be here?

 

What did I do to be like this? So so messed up? That everyone leaves? That in the end...I’ll always be alone?

 

The tears don’t want to come out and my mind is only getting louder and louder and louder.

 

Sometimes...I think I’m okay...and then I remember all the reasons that I’m not...

 

I’m so so tired. But then again, when am I not?

 

 

“Tony?” I asked. I shouldn’t have though because we are watching a movie and it’s calm and nice and I shouldn’t ruin it but I already did because I ruin everything. “Nevermind.”

 

“Kid, you can ask me anything. What’s on your mind?” He comforted me after telling Friday to mute the movie.

 

“It’s stupid, I shouldn’t ask. I know better and-” he cut me off before I could really get into my ramble.

 

He turned to face me more, “no question you have is stupid. I’m open to answer your questions, okay?”

 

But this will just hurt him. I shouldn’t have said anything, silence is better than saying too much.

 

“I just-I was just wondering about May.” I wish my voice didn’t crack when I said her name.

 

After a moment, he came up with a question of his own, “do you want to see her again?”

 

“No!” I immediately regretted shouting because that’s too loud, too much.

 

But he said ‘see’ not stay, but seeing her may just lead to staying with her. And I can’t stay with her I can’t I can’t do that.

 

“Hey, hey, Pete?” He waited until I was looking at him again. Even though I pulled my sleeves over my hands, I doubt he missed that they are shaking. “You don’t have to go back to her, and you don’t have to see her, okay?”

 

“But I’m not yours,” and I immediately regretted saying that once I saw the sadness in his eyes. “I-I mean you don’t have custody over me, May does.”

 

Wow, that was a brilliant recovery.

 

Okay so even my inner monologue is drenched in sarcasm.

 

“Yeah, my lawyers and I have been working on that,” he said it so casually as if that wasn’t the biggest news ever.

 

“What do you mean?” Is he saying what I think he’s saying? Or is my mind just being too hopeful?

 

He smiled, “I’m working on the papers to transfer your custody to me. And then from there, if you want me to, the papers to adopt you.”

 

He-he wants me? He actually wants me? That...there’s no way that can be true, there’s no way he could ever want someone like me as his...as his son.

 

“You actually want me?” My voice was so so small.

 

He actually let out a soft laugh, “of course, kid. Why do you think you’ve been staying here if I didn’t want you? Okay don’t answer that, but I do in fact, undoubtedly, want you.”

 

I don’t think I’ve ever smiled so big before, “I just-I never thought you would actually want me. I know I’ve kind of always thought of you as a dad since I met you, but like in the best way because since I lost Uncle Ben I needed someone and you came. And somehow, for some reason, you stayed. And I’ve always had that stupid dream that I would be able to stay here permanently but I never thought it would actually be a reality because I didn’t think you would ever think of me or want me as your kid.”

 

I just went on a long ramble, I said way way too much...but he doesn’t seem to mind?

 

“Peter, I’ve always thought of you as my kid. I know we never really talked about the whole you calling me Dad thing, but...I really like it,” he admitted with another smile. Not his typical Tony Stark smile that he flashes to all the cameras. No, this one is softer and genuine. I like it a lot more.

 

I know he noticed that I moved to lean against him, my head on his shoulder, but I don’t mind that he noticed. He didn’t seem to mind either as he wrapped an arm around me.

 

“I can call you Dad?” I asked, timidly.

 

“Absolutely,” he answered so unwavering, so unafraid, so honest.

 

“Thank you...Dad.” I could feel the happiness radiating off of him.

 

I haven’t smiled that much in a long, long, time.

 

Chapter Text

Wait. What about May? She would never let Tony have custody over me. This could never work. I actually let myself believe that he would adopt me but that could never happen. I let myself really, truly, hope for something and I just get even more destroyed…

 

Tony said he was working on it, and I do believe he has the best lawyers out there but she would never cooperate.

 

“Peter, you okay?” Bucky asked gently. “You stopped drawing.”

 

It really is nice to just relax and draw with Steve and Bucky. Even though Bucky doesn’t actually draw, he reads, but he’s still here with us and it’s nice. But I’m supposed to relax but I just can’t because Tony will never get custody and I’ll have to go back.

 

“We can take a break if you want,” Steve offered. He has this certain tone of voice he uses whenever anyone is upset, it’s really is comforting.

 

“I don’t know,” I mumbled, not really in focus. I don’t know what I want. I don’t want them to leave, but I can’t fall apart if they stay. I don’t want to stop drawing because that’s calming, but I also can’t focus. I really don’t know.

 

“Peter, whatever you’re feeling, it is valid,” Bucky’s voice was soft.

 

It’s taken me a long time to realize...but my feelings are valid. Even if they make no sense, are not logical, are not set in reality, they are still my feelings. And my feelings are valid because that’s how I feel. Maybe I don’t always see and understand reality, maybe I overreact, but it’s still how I feel. My reality is still my viewpoint on life even if it isn’t the same reality as everyone else. But it’s still valid. And I’m glad that I finally realized it.

 

But does that mean I can fall apart with them in the room?

 

“I’m scared.” I know that. That is one thing I do know because that is what I feel despite how stupid or illogical it may be.

 

After the two super soldiers made eye contact Bucky gently asked,  “What are you scared about?”

 

“May,” I couldn't get anything more than just her name out, though it did come out in more of a whimper than a real word. God, I’m so weak. I’m supposed to be Spider-Man, strong and brave and smart and fearless and better than this. Tony wants me to be better than this but I’m not, I’m not better and I never will be.

 

“It’s okay to be scared,” Steve tried to assure me but that only made the snake tighten more.

 

“It’s not, though. It’s not okay because I’m Spider-Man and I’m supposed to be better. But I’m just Peter Parker. I’m weak and scared and stupid and worthless and a burden to everyone and-” he didn’t let me finish.

 

“Peter,” Bucky said my name with such seriousness I was too scared to not make eye contact with him, “I do not ever want you to say those lies about yourself ever again. I can’t stop you from thinking it, and you can’t stop your mind from thinking it, but you do not have to say it. Saying it makes it seem more real and true but it’s not. You are not just Peter Parker, you are Peter Parker. Which means you are brave and clever and funny and brilliant and so so strong.”

 

It was quiet as they allowed me time to process his words.

 

“May won’t let Tony have custody,” it came out in a whisper.

 

I shouldn’t refer to him as my Dad, that gives too much false hope.

 

“Have you talked to him about this?” Steve asked.

 

“I’m scared to.” He’s so happy and excited and I’ll just ruin it. I can’t ruin another thing, I can’t be that cruel.

 

“He cares about you, more than I think I’ve ever seen him care about anything. Whatever happens, he’s not going to go down without a fight.” Steve has a point. Tony is a fighter, he will not stop until he gets what he wants. He’s also a fixer, he can fix this. Yeah...this, this may be something he can fix.

 

 

“So...Pep?”

 

“What did you do, Tony?” She immediately accused, looking up at him from her work.

 

“I told Peter that I’m working on getting the custody papers,” he kept his calm.

 

Before reacting she asked, “and how did he respond?”

 

He smiled so big, “I have never seen him more happy.”

 

“That’s wonderful Tony!” She finally let her excitement free as she jumped into his arms. “You’ve been working on this since he came and it’s finally all coming together!”

 

“Yeah,” he chuckled, “It’s finally coming together.”

 

 

“T-Tony?” I didn’t miss the disappointment in his eyes when I didn’t call him Dad.

 

“Yeah, kid?” He tried to hide it with a smile, but I know what his real smiles look like, “what’s on your mind?”

 

I cast my eyes down, “um…” If I don’t just say it now I never will, “I just, I don’t...I’m scared about the custody papers.” And that is when I realized how bad that sounds, “it’s not that I don’t want you to adopt me! No, it's not like that, it’s not. But I know May would never just let you have custody and I don’t know what she’ll do but it’ll be so hard and I don’t want you to be burdened with so much only for it to not work.”

 

“Okay, Pete, hey. Can you try to take a deep breath?” What? No, no, he’s just worrying about me but he’s supposed to be worrying about May!

 

“No, no, Tony you don’t understand!” I know better than to raise my voice, “She won’t let you have me! And then I’ll be trapped again and I can’t be trapped!” I know better than to show how upset I am, “Please?” What am I asking? “Dad…” But he’s not May…

 

I was desperately clutching and pulling at my hair, trying to get my head to stop being so loud loud loud. He placed his hands over mine, knowing better than to grab the wrists, and tried to gently pull my hands away from my head. “I’m here, Pete. And I won’t let you be trapped again, okay?”

 

But he can’t promise that. That’s not a promise anyone can make.

 

I couldn’t keep myself from shaking as my mind just kept screaming over and over again how I’ll have to go back to May, how I’ll be alone with her again, how I won’t be strong enough to last with her. I won’t be able to survive.

 

“Peter, I will fight as hard as I can to make sure you never have to go back if you don’t want to,” there was not a hint of doubt in his voice.

 

I finally got my breathing to even out, I didn’t even notice until then that he was still holding my hands, preventing me from digging my nails into my head or ripping out my hair.

 

“It’s so hard…” everything. Everything is hard nowadays.

 

“I know Pete, but I’m with you. Every step of the way.”

Chapter Text

Peter had just gone to sleep when Wanda approached Tony.

 

“Stark?” Though Peter was in a different room, her voice was still soft.

 

Running a hand through his messy hair he yawned, “Yeah?”

 

“Do you think Peter thinks I’m upset with him? Because I haven’t been around him?” Worry was etched into her features.

 

He paused to look at her before answering honestly, “he hasn’t said anything about it. But I know him and he most likely does blame himself.”

 

With her arms crossed over her chest she took a breath, “it’s not his fault.”

 

“I know it isn’t,” before he could say anything more he was cut off by his phone ringing. He was about to decline the call when he saw who it was from and quickly excused himself with a small apology.

 

“Do you have anything?” He asked the second the accepted the call.

 

“Stark, you know this takes time-” the man on the phone began before Tony cut him off.

 

“I did not hire the best lawyers in the country just for you to say it takes time. He is my kid and I’m not letting him go back to her,” he seethed.

 

“The best way to help us move this faster is to have evidence of her being an unfit guardian,” he reasoned.

 

Tony’s knuckles turned white as he clutched the phone even harder, “she emotionally abused and manipulated him his whole life. There’s no physical evidence of it.”

 

“Then he’s the evidence-” once again the lawyer was quickly cut short.

 

“No,” he left no room for argument, “Peter is not going to be evidence in a case against his Aunt. That will only destroy all the progress we’ve been making.”

 

The man sighed, “having him testify is the best way to prove what she’s done. I can see if I can work something out so he doesn’t have to see her, but I'm not sure how else to go about this.”

 

“What about Sam Wilson?” The thought suddenly popped into his head, “He’s Peter’s therapist.”

 

“I’ll see what I can do.”

 

And with that he hung up the phone.

 

 

I’m supposed to be asleep, I know I am. He would be so angry if Friday told him that I woke back up only minutes after falling asleep.

 

I didn’t mean to listen in on Tony’s conversations but I couldn’t help it. I still don’t understand what happened with Wanda, but that man on the phone…that lawyer, he wants me to go against May. Tony said I’m not going back there, but he wouldn’t lie, right? He said I didn’t have to see May but the man said I need to.

 

Is he just saying things to make me trust him? He...he wouldn’t lie, right?

 

He said if I see her it will destroy all my ‘progress’. He doesn’t think I can handle it. I know I can’t. And he knows it. He knows just how weak I am. They all know.

 

He-he isn’t her. He isn’t. He isn’t! I know he isn’t but the way he said it sounded just like her. But he said it in a good way and her...hers was supposed to be a good way but it was just so wrong. It felt like acid hitting my ears when she said it but when he said it I only heard her voice and I don’t want to hear her voice. He’s not going to hurt me though, not like her, but it’s what she would say and I can’t do that again. But he didn’t mean to. But she didn’t either.

 

I don’t want to hear her voice when Tony speaks…

 

“Master Parker, would you like me to inform Boss that you have woken up?” Friday’s voice made me flinch so hard it hurt.

 

“No!” I quickly lowered my volume after that shout, “no, no, Friday please don’t tell him.”

 

“As part of a new protocol Boss made, I am required to inform him,” she announced.

 

“Wait what? What new protocol?” Tony made more protocols for me? What does that mean, he’s having Friday monitor me even more? Do I not even have privacy here?

 

Before Friday could answer, there was a knock at the bedroom door. Even though I knew Friday told him I’m awake, I still figured pretending to sleep couldn’t hurt. I don’t really feel like talking to him anyway.

 

He didn’t open the door, just spoke through it, “Pete? I know you’re awake, can I come in?” At least he asked before barging in.

 

“Okay…” I mumbled, barely loud enough for him to hear, still refusing to open my eyes.

 

“Hey kid...did you have another nightmare?” I know it’s childish and stupid but I’m exhausted and upset and don’t really feel like being mature, so I ignored him and kept my eyes closed. “Kid, what’s wrong?”

 

If he’s making new protocols for me that means he doesn’t trust me either. So now May and Tony don’t trust me. I...I don’t know what to do about that. I don’t blame them, but I can’t make them trust me. There’s nothing I can do about it...I’m just trapped again.

 

I finally opened my eyes, I guess there was a look in them he was not prepared for as his frown deepened even further, “you don’t trust me.” It didn’t come out as a question and I didn’t mean it to.

 

“Why would you say that?” He looked genuinely confused and that just made my snake tighten a lot harder.

 

“Friday said you made more protocols for me,” saying it out loud just made it sound even more stupid but I know how I feel.

 

He sat down next to me, I didn’t bother sitting up, “Kid...that’s for your safety. The protocols are just so I know if you need help.”

 

But how far does that go?  That could mean so many things...for when I can’t sleep? Nightmares? Self-harm? Panic attacks? Dissociation? Crying? Not eating? What does he mean?

 

“How far does that go?” Will he even be honest with me? If he doesn’t trust me anyway then he has no reason to tell me the truth.

 

“It tells me your vitals and symptoms and so I can decide if I think you may need me,” he explained. But what if I don’t want him? I know that sounds horrible but sometimes I want to just let myself fall apart and let myself hurt for a while.

 

I don’t always want to be fixed. But he’s a fixer.

 

“But can’t I call for you when I need you?” I asked.

 

With the sad look he gave me I know what he wanted to ask but didn't have to. Would I really call him? Probably not…

 

But I did call for him a few times. And that isn’t nothing. It isn’t.

Chapter Text

I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to feel, I don’t want to feel I don’t want to feel I don’t want to feel idon’twanttofeelidon’twanttofeelidon’twanttofeel…

 

But I do.

 

I used to be able to force myself numb, and it was really helpful. I could numb out panic attacks at school and I could numb myself out of crying when May was around. But I’ve been getting worse at it. I can’t force myself numb like I was able to for so long and that’s terrifying.

 

But I have been dissociating a lot more often which is kind of nice because then I can float away and floating away is good. But I can’t control when it happens and I can’t make myself really get in or out of it.

 

How I think of dissociation, I think of it, at least for me, as having different levels of extremes. Like for me it starts as me not feeling real, not feeling alive. And then I started to float away. And my mind isn’t in sync with my body anymore. The farthest gone I’ve ever been is were it felt exactly like I was dreaming. I couldn’t see clearly, I watched my body move but my mind felt separate from it. Like I was watching my body but it’s like a strange calmness over me. Part of me knows I should be panicking but I’m just not.

 

I just want to float away. I don’t want to panic, I don’t want to be hurting, I don’t want to cry. I don’t want to feel right now. I want to be numb for a while but it’s not really working. The most I’m getting is apathetic and that’s not really helpful. I kind of feel myself going to that middle ground which is better than panicking right now but it still hurts.

 

 

It was only after Tony’s frustrating phone call with his lead lawyer, and his worrisome conversation with Peter that he realized that he does in fact have evidence. Because of course Tony Stark records everything for moments like this.

 

Friday does most of the recording, she has everything that happened within the compound and everything through his Iron Man suit. So, he has proof of every panic attack, every nightmare, every time he begged Tony not to take him back. And with the suit…he has the recording of Peter jumping…

 

But it’s not like The Tony Stark would ever leave home without a little something more.

 

“Friday, show me the recordings from my watch, the ones before...” he demanded, finally haven gotten to the lab to get some work done. He didn’t need to finish the sentence for Friday to catch on.

 

“Of course Boss,” and she began displaying all the video and audio the watch he always wears had recorded.

 

And the video displayed May Parker’s apartment. Her yelling was so clear it was like he was back there...and it was like he was back, waiting outside the bathroom door Peter had locked himself in while May screeched at them.

 

“Does the video show all of it?” He wanted to turn his eyes away, but he couldn’t.

 

“Yes, Boss,” Friday answered, as remorseful as an AI is capable of.

 

“Stop the video,” he finally looked away, not quite ready to relive all of that.

 

But he has the evidence of the abuse.

 

 

He called it abuse. When he talked to that man on the phone he called everything May did abuse. I know what she did wasn’t okay, but I don’t know if it’s actually abuse.

 

I mean, I’ve read a lot about it and I relate to all the signs and I have some of the symptoms of being abused but maybe I’m wrong. I’m probably overreacting.

 

I’m scared though that maybe May is right and it’s just my perception of reality is wrong. I know it isn’t reality set but I can’t help the way my mind is but maybe it’s not as bad as it feels and maybe they aren’t actually abusive I’m just over sensitive and feel too much and don’t understand reality.

 

It’s scary that I’m more scared that it isn’t abuse than that it is.

 

If it is, then I was right all along and I saw the signs correctly. But if i'm wrong then I messed up everything and I really am just over sensitive and I’m freaking out for nothing.

 

My entire life people have always told me that I am so lucky to have her. How blessed I am that she is my Aunt. And I know I’m lucky, more than I’ll ever be able to comprehend. She took me in, she put a roof over my head, clothes on my back, sent me to a good school, put food on the table, and even would give me gifts. She gave me more than I deserve. She wouldn’t do that unless she cared, right? It’s so confusing…

 

But I never felt safe with her. I was always looking over my shoulder, always terrified to upset her. I couldn't stand being around her, and it’s not the stereotypical teenage angst or whatever. My mental health dies when I’m around her, I’m terrified all the time. It’s not okay.

 

Chapter Text

I didn’t do anything. But I wanted to. I needed to. I needed to physically do anything but I didn’t. Not because I didn’t want to, I couldn’t. With Friday monitoring me all the time I can’t get away with anything. And even if I could my nails are too short and there’s no way I would be able to get to a blade.

 

I drew though. Just small little drawings, filling up any tiny gap in my notebook. I know I could ask Tony for a new notebook but I haven’t. I shouldn’t…

 

I don’t know how to do this. I don’t know how to talk to people without seeming manipulative and controlling and needy and cruel. If I talk, I just add weight to them, and if I don’t they get worried. I hurt them either way.

 

I feel bad when I have good days. It makes it feel like maybe I’m actually okay and I’ve just been playing the victim of my mind but I actually have no excuse to not be better.

 

I feel bad when I have bad days. I only hurt everyone. I hurt myself, which doesn’t really matter. But I hurt the people I care about, and that’s not okay. That matters.

 

I feel bad for existing.

 

I often wish I could disappear. Not die. No, that could hurt the people around me. But just disappear. Fade away into that nothingness I relished in after I failed my attempt to escape. If I just disappeared I couldn’t hurt anyone anymore.

 

But Tony would come after me. He came after me last time. But that…that was different. No one can keep me from fading away.

 

But then again, if I could just float away that would work better. My body would be here but my mind would be long long gone. But I can’t control that. If I could I would dissociate almost all the time.

 

There really is nothing I can do. No way to escape.

 

Drawing just isn’t enough. I can’t control floating away. I can’t seem to be able to disappear. I can’t just die because I would only fail at that again. Shutting everyone out just seems to hurt them. But letting them in is too much. I hurt them too much. There’s no way for me to be free without everyone else being hurt.

 

I know cutting doesn’t actually fix anything, but it helps me breathe. And that’s good. It distracts me from everything else. It cuts away at the snake holding so so tightly. It doesn’t even really hurt that much, my healing gets rid of the cuts really really quickly. So there really isn’t any harm.

 

But that would hurt Tony.

 

I think he would care.

 

Bucky too. Maybe Happy. Possibly Steve. There’s a small chance that Wanda could possibly care.

 

I care about all of them.

 

So if I can’t cut, then what else can I do?

 

There are only so many things that help me feel real.

 

But when I think about it...talking to people, someone being here, that helps like no other.

 

But that’s too much to ask of anyone. No one will hold me as I cry. No one will rub my back as I throw up. No one will talk me down from each panic attack. No one will listen to me at 3am when I just woke up from a nightmare. No one will stay with me when I’m too scared to be alone. No one will be here when I want to cut. No one will stop me.

 

But if I say that, that will only hurt them more.

 

I know they are trying. And I know it seems like I don’t appreciate it, but I do more than I can ever be able to explain. I wish I could explain it. I know it could seem like they only make me worse but it’s not them. It’s not their fault. It’s mine. It’s my mind that makes everything so dark, so bad. My mind does it, not them. I know it seems like I’m not getting better. Maybe I’m not. I know it seems like I never will. Maybe I won’t.

 

But there’s no way to be able to ask people to stay. Because they have every right to leave. They have no obligation to me. At all. And it is not their fault whatever happens to me. It’s mine. It’s my decision. I can’t even blame my mind because I’m the one that chooses it.

 

Blame me. I can’t let anyone else have the blame.

 

Maybe I’ll be okay. One day. There is stuff I want to look forward to, stuff I want to do. But I don’t know how I’ll get there.

Chapter Text

Tony asked me last night if I would want to go out to dinner with Bucky and Steve. He said they asked if they could take me out to hang out. But I can’t help thinking that this is just a way for Tony to be free from me for a while so he can actually get some work done. Since I’ve been here he put all other issues and work related things on hold for the mst part. He’s probably so behind.

 

“You ready, kid?” Tony asked, he had been helping me get ready.

 

“Where am I going?” I questioned, fixing my sweater. He said I didn’t have to wear anything really fancy so I, or really Tony picked, a nicer sweater. But the only reason Tony picked is because he knows the stress of trying to decide myself when I don’t even know where I’m going would freak me out and he wants me calm.

 

“I already told you, Underoos, it’s a surprise,” he chuckled.

 

I really want to have fun. I really shouldn't be worrying. But I am.

 

I don’t know where I’m going and even though Tony helped me pick out my outfit I don’t know if it’s too much or not enough. And we are going out to eat and eating around people is so hard. I know I’m supposed to eat but it just makes me feel worse. Food is a bad thing. If I don’t eat I get really lightheaded but when I eat, I get super nauseous and I don’t want that. Usually the lightheadedness goes away after a couple hours of being awake. But the nausea just gets worse over time and then my mind gets louder, berating me for eating because I don’t really need to eat. It’s not like I’m starving it’s just better if I don’t eat a lot.

 

Usually I do eat dinner. Because I never have breakfast and I don’t have lunch half the time so dinner is usually my sole meal. But normally my mind is calm enough to let me eat but I can’t now because it’s too loud and too much and I’ll just feel nauseous and that’s too much.

 

“You okay, Pete?” Tony’s voice was gentle, but it still startled me.

 

“Yeah, yeah I’m fine, I’m okay,” I guess I’m trying to convince myself more than him. But I should be okay. I’ll be okay. I think so. I’m supposed to be fine. No, I’m supposed to be good. But good is a lot to ask for but okay is fine. I’m fine. I’m fine.

 

Is being okay too much to ask for?

 

I really wanted tonight to go well. But it’s already falling apart and I’m not even there yet. It’s supposed to be fun and relaxing and good. But it’s just freaking me out more.

 

Why can’t I just be happy?

 

 

“Did he leave already?” Tony didn’t even see Happy walk in before he spoke.

 

“Yeah, Steve and Bucky just took him.” Tony was collapsed on the couch, not bothering to sit up to greet Happy.

 

“You sound a little bitter,” he noted, still standing.

 

“I am not bitter,” he defended, “I just have a lot to do.”

 

“For custody?” He asked.

 

After a sigh he admitted, “Yeah. I have more evidence than I thought but...it’s just hard going through all of that.”

 

Happy sat next to his friend, “that makes sense. It’s really hard to relive it. But you don’t have to do it alone.”

 

To that, Happy was just met with silence. It is not often that The Tony Stark can not come up with a response.

 

Chapter Text

Do you ever just have one of those days? One where nothing really goes wrong, maybe even some stuff goes right, but you still feel horrible? You’re mind is too loud and nothing is right. The snake is trying to murder you, it’s too tight, too tight. There’s no reason for you to feel this way. It isn’t logical, it doesn’t make sense, but that’s just how you feel. And it’s hard to explain because you should have a reason, you should, but you just don’t. How can anyone help you when there’s no reason for you to not be okay? Yeah...it’s one of those days.

 

Part of me wonders if it’s okay for me to blame anxiety and depression for making what would have been okay days horrible. I don’t know if that’s right. There has to be a point in which blaming my mental health just isn’t right and I don’t know where that line is

 

It’s just one of those days. And it sucks.

 

I don’t understand it. It doesn’t make sense. I should be okay, I should be happy. But I’m just not. I want to be, but I don’t know if I can.

 

But it’s real. It’s real. I’m real. I’m real. Right? I’m real. I’m alive. I’m valid. I think…


I mean I have to be real. I feel. Mostly. And I have to be real to feel so I must be real. When I can’t feel does that make me not real? No. No that doesn’t make sense. But since when do I make sense? I’m illogical and everyone struggles to understand me and how I feel because it doesn’t make sense.

 

... 

 

It was a quaint little diner that they took me to. It was quiet and had a calming atmosphere. It looked like it had been around since the 40’s. Maybe it had, I wouldn’t be surprised.

 

They already had their orders memorized, how many times have they been here? And they ordered food for me too, assuring me it would be the best sandwich I’ve ever had.

 

And we sat down.

Chapter Text

Though the diner was empty of other customers, I would have thought the owners would have said something about two super soldiers in their restaurant. Though it was clearly family owned it’s still not really a normal thing, I would think.

 

The food came out quicker than I thought it would, but I guess it answered my unasked questions when Steve thanked the waitress by name. She wasn’t wearing a name tag so I guess they must come here a lot.

 

Once they started to eat I took a bite of what they insisted ‘the best sandwich in the city’. Okay, I have to admit it’s good. But I don’t know how much of it I’ll be able to eat.

 

It was relative silence while we all had our sandwiches. It was kind of nice.

 

I could only get through half and I guess Bucky could tell I was done because he whispered “it’s okay if you can’t finish.” Maybe it could be okay.

 

“So, was that the best sandwich ever?” Steve asked, smiling big and real.

 

“Uh, yeah it was,” I tried to smile.

 

“It’s okay if it wasn’t, Peter,” Steve still smiled even though I know he must be dissapointed.

 

“No, no it was!” I tried to assure them. It was good, it was, I just can’t eat that much. It’s not their fault that I’m the way I am.

 

They just let out a laugh. It’s so casual with them, so calm, so comfortable.

 

I didn’t miss how close Bucky and Steve sat next to each other, but they didn’t hide that they were holding hands. It was nice to see them so comfortable, no stress, no agitation. I can’t let myself ruin it. They are so happy. I’ll only mess it up…

 

“Hey, Peter?” Bucky got my attention. I didn't mean to zone out.

 

When I looked up at him he continued, “this can go however you want.” Before I could ask what he meant, he kept talking, “if you want to talk then we’ll listen for as long as you need. If you want just a casual night then we can just relax and have fun.”

 

“There’s no pressure,” Steve added on.

 

But I don’t know what I want.

 

As if he could read my thoughts Bucky assured me, “it’s okay if you don’t know, we can just enjoy the night and if you want to talk then you can talk.”

 

He makes it sound so easy. It’s easy to talk about the stupid stuff, I can ramble on and on about the ‘geeky’ stuff, but anything real is just too much. I don’t want to be too much…

 

 

“Tony?”

 

“Pep, what are you doing here?” He quickly stood up as she walked towards him.

 

“Happy called, he said you needed some support,” as he started to protest she stopped him, “needing help doesn't make you weak, Tony.”

 

“Happy is just making a big deal out of nothing,” he turned back to his work, only for his fiancé to turn him back around.

 

“What is going on? We are in this together,” she put her hands on his shoulders, looking him straight in the eye.

 

He huffed out a breath, knowing better than to continue arguing with her, “I have recordings proving what May has done to Peter, but I don’t know what I can use unless I actually watch them.”

 

Pepper sucked in a breath, knowing what that means for Tony to have to go through everything again. “Friday, call Happy and Rhodey. We are doing this together,” she left no room for argument and he didn’t even try to fight her on it.

 

It wasn’t long before the reinforcements came and they all mentally prepared themselves for what they were about to watch.

 

Tony knew he needed to just get the day of the attempt over with, if he didn’t, he may never.

 

He had Friday project the recordings from their watch in the middle of the room as the four of them sat and watched. There really is no way to truly be prepared for something like this.

 

Before they could really see anything, they could hear the screaming, the banging of a door. The cameras movement was rapid, they could only assume that was because Tony was breaking into the apartment when the video began. Then they could hear Tony in the recording screaming at May. She screamed louder.

 

Happy joined in and it was them against May.

 

Pepper grabbed Tony’s hand the second she heard his breath catch in his throat next to her. Even as he desperately tried to keep his breaths even it didn’t work. But he didn’t stop the video.

 

“You can’t just take him again!” May in the recording screeched at him as he tried to push past her. Tony’s other hand was clenching and unclenching as he watched himself try to get to his kid.

 

“He needs help!” He had yelled back. Tony was now breathing through his mouth in an effort to keep the oxygen going in.

 

There was more yelling back and forth between the two before the Tony in the video finally got to the door. It took too long for him to reach Peter. Though it was clearly killing Tony to watch the recording, he couldn’t pull his eyes away.

 

Tony didn’t see the tears in Peppers eyes as she watched what happened. She knew the general events of that day, but this, this was on a whole other level.

 

Happy was the only one who didn’t directly watch the video, he was watching everyone else’s reactions. He already lived it once, he didn’t need to watch it again, listening to it again was already almost too much.

 

“You’ll never be his dad.” Hearing that again was enough for Tony to stop breathing for a moment. It’s not like he could ever forget that May said that to him, but actually hearing it a second time…

 

“Pause it, Friday,” Pepper called out. “Tony, hey, Tony,” her voice softened, “Peter is safe. He is safe and soon he will be officially your son. He’s been calling you Dad for a while now, because you really are his dad. He is not going back to her, he is safe.”

 

He couldn’t get out any words past his labored breathing, but she kept talking, pulling him into a comforting hug, “he is improving. It’s slow, but it’s happening. And that’s what matters. She can’t get to him anymore. You are already his Dad, it’ll just be legal now.”

 

“Tones, you got him out of there. You brought him to a real home, and he’s safe now,” Rhodey spoke with a softness he rarely displays.

 

“We have so much farther to go, though. He’s still hurting so much,” Tony was able to finally get out.

 

“And that’s okay. Progress takes time. What matters is he’s here and he’s safe,” it only showed her pure strength that even with tears in her eyes she could still hold steady.

 

“We don’t have to continue now, we can take a break. This already is a lot of proof,” Rhodes reasoned.  

 

But Tony just shook his head, “no, I have to get through it.”

 

“Okay,” Pepper ran her fingers through his hair, “we’re with you.”

 

 

After the diner we decided to go for a walk through the park before driving back to the compound.

 

Part of me knows that I should take the opportunity to talk to them, but they’re doing so well and I shouldn’t ruin that.

 

“Bucky?” I have no idea why I would possibly try to talk now, what is wrong with me?

 

“Yeah?” I need to stop before I say anything stupid it’s not the time.

 

But I really should talk to someone...about anything really, there's so much I haven’t said.

 

“I never told Tony about Homecoming.” Why is that what came out? Bucky and Steve weren’t even there, it doesn't matter to them.

 

But it still matters to me…

 

“Do you want to tell him?” Steve asked. The three of us kept walking, it’s easier to talk when we don’t have to look each other in the eye.

 

“I’m scared to. I know it was a little while ago but I still think about it.” About the building. About how stupid I was. How I knew no one would come. That all I wanted was Tony to come and save me, but he didn’t.

 

“It’s okay to think about it. There’s stuff that happened several years ago that I still think about,” when Bucky said that Steve held his hand tighter.

 

“I was trapped,” I should stop talking. I should. I need to. But I don’t want to…

 

“I understand that,” Bucky agreed. But I don’t think he understands what I mean.

 

“I was actually trapped. The building-it came down on me and I know it was my fault but-” that’s when both of them came to a stop and faced me.

 

“Did you just say a building?” Steve asked, complete horror etched on his face.

 

“Peter, did a building collapse on you?” Bucky's voice was even but I could tell that inside he was anything but calm.

 

“I-I mean…” I messed up, they’re angry, I shouldn’t have said anything, I didn’t tell Mr. Stark for a reason, “Yeah it did fall on me, but it was my fault.”

 

That did not help my cause.

 

“What do you mean your fault?” Bucky was desperately trying to stay calm.

 

“I should have known what he was doing, it was so obvious but I was too stupid to see that he was knocking down the support beams on purpose,” Before I could really explain they kept asking questions. Too many questions.

 

“Wait who knocked down the beams?”

 

“Okay, Peter, you’re not stupid. But why would he knock the building down on you? When was this?”

 

“It’s okay!” I really just need to end this conversation I’m ruining everything.

 

“It’s not okay, Peter,” I’ve never seen Bucky so deadly serious.

 

“It was a little while ago. It was the Vulture, I was trying to stop him from stealing from Tony and to try to stop me he collapsed a building on me. I got out though, and I stopped him,” I tried to fix this whole mess but I don’t think I can.

 

They exchanged a look but didn’t say anything for a moment, which only caused my chest to tighten more.

 

When Bucky finally did speak it was not what I expected, “Can I give you a hug?” I sputtered out a yeah and he pulled me into a tight hug, but it didn’t hurt. It felt safe.

 

“What he did was not okay. But it’s not your fault, you’re a kid. You did more than what anyone should expect of you,” I just relished in the comfort.

 

After a few minutes I realized he wouldn’t let go unless I did first. After a few more seconds of safe comfort I made myself let go.

 

“Do you want to head home now?” Steve asked me. I nodded.

 

“Will you tell Tony?” I asked as we started walking back towards the car.

 

Bucky let out a sigh, “that’s something that should come from you. I’m not going to make you, but if it’s something that important it should be talked about.”

 

That makes sense. But that doesn’t make it any less scary.

 

 

It was when the recording showed Tony desperately flying after Peter that it seemed like everyone in the room stopped breathing. They all knew what was about to happen. No one could take their eyes away from the projection.

 

Tony’s breathing matched the borderline hyperventilation as the Tony in the recording. They could hear every labored breath, every word he begged to himself, every plea for Peter to please live.

 

They watched Peter on the bridge. And even though they all knew what was about to happen, none of them were prepared.

Chapter Text

The drive back to the compound was actually pretty casual given the circumstances. Bucky had somehow found the one radio station that played music from back in their days. I know they were probably trying to make the drive more of a lighter experience, but I really didn’t mind.

 

They knew I didn’t really want to talk anymore, but they still left their conversations open for my opinion. It was nice to see them just joking around and having fun. I’m so used to just thinking of them as Captain America and Sergeant Barnes.

 

But this, this is Steve and Bucky. Not two soldiers, not two superheroes, but two guys in love. Maybe it’s better like this, they’re happy.

 

 

None of them made a sound as they watched the recording. Their silence only made it more tense as they could hear every ragged breath, every swear, every prayer that came from the video. Though the thrusters were loud, that didn’t mask the sound of the crack Peter’s body made once he hit the water. It’s a sound that would haunt them all forever.

 

Pepper held Tony’s hand even tighter when he flinched at the sound, but she didn’t take her eyes away from the projection. It all happened so fast, but it felt so so slow, watching Tony dive into the water and pull his kid out.

 

Pepper had to choke back a sob when she saw how still the kid had been, no attempt to swim, no attempt to live. None of them had ever seen a suit fly as quickly as it had that day.

 

Though they all knew Peter is alive and well, a heartbreaking worry still filled all their expressions. It took way too long for them to get to the medbay. Tony flinched again when he heard himself break into his own medbay. The sound of breaking is just too familiar.

 

“Help! Help! He needs help!” They heard Tony plead, screams ripping from his throat. Tony Stark isn’t supposed to beg. Tony Stark isn’t supposed to plead. To be desperate. But he had lost every ounce of that patented Tony Stark confidence the second Peter jumped out the window.

 

“Friday stop the video,” Rhodey ordered, but his voice came out as more of a whisper. For a moment all they did was breathe, taking in what they just watched. And for Tony, what he just relived.

 

“Boss-” Friday began to announce, before Tony could yell at her to shut up she quickly finished her sentence, “Master Parker is on his way back upstate. He will be here in approximately 42 minutes.”

 

They all knew he was alive, but actually hearing that Peter would actually physically be there with him caused everyone to let out a sigh of relief.

 

It took every bit of energy for Tony to not break down. It’s miraculous that he didn’t have an attack while the video played.

 

“He’s alive, Tony,” Pepper reminded him once again, though her voice was shaky, “he’s safe.”

 

But they all knew Tony really wouldn’t be okay until Peter was home.

 

 

I’m depending on people now more than ever. I used to be able to do this on my own. I mean, I didn’t do it well but I did it. Now it terrifies me when I can’t talk to anyone, I’m terrified to be alone for even a moment. I used to be alone all the time. I know what I’m missing now. But I should be able to do this on my own. Does that mean I’m getting weaker?

 

We got back to the compound, and even though it wasn’t very late I still was struggling to keep my eyes open. I guess not sleeping much at night is catching up to me.

 

When we walked in, not only was Tony there to greet us, but Happy, Rhodey, and Pepper. It shouldn’t, but that made my chest tighten more with such dread.

 

“Hey kid,” and when he got up I guess I could just tell he wanted a hug and so I did. He held on so tight, it didn’t hurt, it was secure. It was at least a full minute before he let go.

 

What happened while we were gone? He only does that when I have a panic attack? I mean it was really nice but why?

 

“How was it?” He asked, a smile on his face. Though it did reach his eyes there was still a lot of pain behind them. When I glanced over at Pepper I couldn't help but notice how red her eyes were.

 

Did I cause that? I mean, he offered for me to go with them but now they are all here and they’re upset. I don’t think I did anything? I probably did and didn’t notice, but how can I try to fix it if I don't know what happened.

 

I guess Steve and Bucky noticed the same things as I did, because the next thing I knew the two of them were leaving the room with Rhodey and Happy. They’re gonna talk, I know they are, but what about?

 

“It was..good. Is something going on?” I couldn't help but ask.

 

His smile only wilted a little bit before he responded, “we were just going through some work.”

 

“Is it about me?” When I asked that, my voice probably too quiet, that was when he really faltered.

 

“What? Pete, no. You didn’t do anything. What we were going through just brought back some memories, that’s all. We are just glad you’re back.” I shouldn’t doubt him. I should just believe he’s telling the truth, he’s never lied to me before. But with how they are acting it seems like it was about me.

 

But I also need to try to be happy. If I just make myself believe him then I can be happy.

 

“Okay, are you alright now?” He wasn’t expecting that. Though the snake is still tight, Tony is here and so everything will be okay. It will. It will all be okay.

 

“Yeah, Yeah kid I am,” and that was genuine. I even smiled. I want him to be okay. I need him to be okay, because he is a person that deserves to be happy.

 

Chapter Text

I don’t know what to say. I don’t know what to do. I don’t even know if being happy is possible, at least not for a while. Sometimes I get happy moments but I don’t think a happy life will really happen.

 

I’m supposed to just push through. To just keep fighting. But it sounds like that implies that I’m not putting my all in to fight through or that I’m not already pushing so so hard.

 

I just wanted to be happy. To be able to relish in the good days, even just the good moments. To be satisfied with those few happy moments. I thought that maybe things could change, that I could be okay. I let myself think I could be okay.

 

Maybe if I was actually different, or in a different situation, if I was someone else I could be happy.

 

No one can take away that I did have a good time at the diner. But it’s easy for all the negatives to overpower that one positive. One good moment doesn’t erase all the bad days. I wish it could.

 

I bet it bothers people that I’m not better. I bet it’s annoying. Excessive. Illogical. But as much as I’m trying, I’m not changing. Even if no one sees it, I am trying. So hard. I want to be better. I didn’t used to, but I want to now. I want to be happy and to live life to the fullest.

 

How much is too much? How long before everyone gets tired of this, of me?

 

Shorter than I can prepare myself for, shorter than I want. But I know that no one has any obligation to me. Not even Tony, at least not yet. I not his kid, I probably never will be. I thought May had obligation to me, but she’s not my mom. She didn’t ask to raise me. She didn’t ask for me. I never should have expected so much from her. That’s too much weight to put on someone. I didn’t know better before but I know better now.

 

I know better than to tell the truth, than to speak, than to hope, than to expect anything more.

 

But there is a possibility I could be happy one day. One day I’ll live on my own, and I won’t pretend anyone has any obligation to me. One day I’ll be out of school and I won’t have to pretend to be okay. One day I’ll be away from everyone and I won’t hurt them anymore. One day I’ll buy the groceries for myself and I’ll be able to decide for myself if I really need food. One day I’ll be by myself and I can cry as loud as I want because there won’t be anyone to hear me.

 

I don’t know if that’s hope, but maybe it’s a reason to hold on. That one day I’ll be able to make my own choices. There won’t be anyone to bang on the door, force me to talk, make me eat, guilt me out of feeling.

 

But I don’t want to be alone. I want someone to care. I want someone to encourage me. To care whether I get up in the morning or not. To care if I slept or not. To help me because they just care. But no one will ever stay that long.

 

The only people who stay a while are those who I pretend the most with. If I’m ‘happy’ there’s less weight on them, if I’m ‘just tired’ they aren’t burdened as much.

 

I’m just going in circles. I have a high and then a low too much to take. I think I can be better but everything just proves to me I’m not. I think maybe I could be happy but I’m just reminded all the reasons why I can’t. Will I ever be out of this cycle?

 

 

“Did you send the recordings to your lawyers?” Happy asked his friend. Peter was in his room so they didn’t have to worry about him overhearing.

 

“I did. They’re going through them themselves now,” Tony answered, not looking at Happy.

 

Though neither of them ever said it, they could both see their relationship growing closer through all this.

 

“What did you send?” He spoke carefully. He had to be sure he wouldn’t set the Stark into another panic by bringing it up.

 

Tony let out a small sigh as he answered, “everything from the day he jumped. Him saying he wants to stay here. Every conversation I’ve had with May through all of this. His panic attacks.”

 

“That’s a lot of evidence. That should really help,” Tony knew Happy was trying to help him but the effects of watching those videos was still very present.

 

“It better help.”

 

Though Tony didn’t admit it, and tried not to show it, he was still scared. Scared that the evidence wouldn’t be enough, that Peter would have to testify, that Peter would find out and be betrayed that Tony sent some lawyers videos of Peter at his most vulnerable.

 

Before Happy could come up with a response a different voice cut in, “Tony, can I talk to you?”

 

It was clear that both men were surprised to see Sam approaching Tony for once. It only caused the worry in Tony’s face to deepen.

 

“Of course,” he breathed out. Happy took the cue and left the two other men to talk.

 

“I really think Peter needs to keep doing therapy. If not with me, I have connections, I will help find him someone else. But he still very much needs to talk to a professional,” there was no beating around the bush.

 

“Do you think he’s making progress?” Tony asked genuinely.

 

“He is. It’s slow, but it’s there. And I want to help make sure he keeps making progress,” he answered honestly.

 

“I’ll talk to him,” he decided.

Chapter Text

Sometimes I wonder if I’m really here. I know that can only really make sense if you have felt that yourself, but it’s a real feeling. Not feeling real is real. Usually it’s with dissociation, but sometimes it’s with that middle ground. And sometimes it’s with the emptiness. The emptiness can feel a lot like numbness or dissociation but it’s different. It’s different than the middle ground because with the middle ground I see the emotions and the panic inside me, but with this, with this it’s not like I don’t feel, it’s like I don’t have any emotions at all. Like there is nothing in me that could feel, that I’m just a hollowed out shell.

 

Whatever I’m going through, the full force of my emotions, dissociation, panic attacks, numbness, emptiness, the middle ground, it always feels like the worst one when it happens. But I don’t know if there is a worst one. There are actually positives to all of them, maybe not healthy positives but positives nonetheless. But there’s so so many negatives.

 

I guess it just depends on the day and what I want in that moment, what I need. But that’s confusing because it changes, sometimes what I need is different between each day and that’s hard to understand. I get confused too.

 

Some days…all I want to do is cry. Just let it all out. Let myself break.

 

But then I feel so weak.

 

Some days…all I want to do is float away and not come back.

 

But then I can’t come back.

 

Some days…all I want to do is panic on my own, feel on my own.

 

But then I can’t get out.

 

Some days…all I want to do is not feel anything at all, no emotions, no pain, no anything.

 

But then I can’t release anything.

 

Some days…all I want to do is know that I have emotions and that they are there but not actually feel them.

 

But then the emotions won’t come when I want them.

 

Some days…all I want to do is be nothing, feel nothing, have nothing, be invisible to everyone.

 

But then I still want people to stay, to see me, to be here.

 

Any way you put it, I can never win.

 

 

It took a bit of time for Tony to know how to approach Peter. He knew he had to make sure whatever he said did not come off as he thinks Peter is crazy, is too much to handle, is getting worse, or anything of that sort.

 

“Hey, Pete?” He caught the boy’s attention as they were building Legos together. He knew that Legos helped calm him and he wanted him as calm as possible.

 

“Yeah?” Though he tried to hide his sudden fear, Tony could see right through it. He’s gotten good at seeing through his kids masks.

 

“What do you think about talking with Sam again. It could be like last time of you want, where it’s just casual. Or we can see about you meeting a different person to talk to, if that would make you more comfortable,” after dropping all that on him all of a sudden, he gave him some time to process.

 

“I don’t know,” was all he mumbled, his eyes cast down as he was still lost in thought.

 

“It’s okay to not know right now,” he assured him, “but it is something I think you should think about.”

 

But that was when the kid asked a question that even genius Tony Stark was not expecting, “What would you do?” But quickly realizing how blunt and rude it seemed he added on, “if I may ask?”

 

“Oh,” Tony let out a breath, quickly trying to come up with an answer. “Well either way would work, there’s positives to both. Talking to Sam is good because we know and trust him, and he knows what it’s like to be a superhero. But talking to someone new is also good because as a stranger they have no opinion of you already, you can say whatever you want. But the important part is that they are both professionals.”

 

“That makes sense,” Peter agreed, still pondering an answer of his own.

 

“I’m glad it does,” he smiled at his kid. He would do anything to make sure his kid is healthy.

 

Chapter Text

I’m sorry I ruin everything around me.

 

I don’t try to. But it still happens. It always happens.

 

I’m sorry I just can’t get better.

 

I don’t think I can get better.

 

I’m sorry I hurt everyone.

 

No matter what I do everyone always ends up hurt. I was smarter before, not talking is the only way to protect everyone. Yes, it hurts me. But if the choice is between hurting me and hurting everyone around me, then there really isn’t a choice.

 

I’m sorry I’m so selfish.

 

I need to stop. It’s wrong and I know it’s wrong and I need to stop.

 

I’m sorry I keep making all the wrong decisions.

 

I’m trying so hard to do what’s right, to make the right decisions, but I just can’t. No matter what I do, it’s always wrong.

 

I’m sorry I keep talking.

 

Being silent is better. You can’t say too much if you say nothing at all. I always say too much. It was better before, when I never talked, because no one got hurt. Except for me, but I’m always hurt. I don’t think I’ll ever not be hurt.

 

I’m sorry I keep playing the victim.

 

I make my own choices. I can’t pretend my mind controls me. I can’t pretend I’m not the monster that I am. I can’t pretend that I don’t deserve this. Deserve everything that happened. I’m the one that made all the wrong decisions, I put this on myself. I ruined my own life. And therefore that means I have to deserve it.

 

I’m sorry I’m manipulative.

 

But even just apologizing for it may be manipulative. Everything I say could be and maybe I know it on some level. I don’t know how to stop. I need to stop.

 

I’m sorry I cry so much.

 

I’m weak. But I feel like I can’t help it. But I just have to numb myself and then I’ll be fine. I need to be fine.

 

I’m sorry I’m so weak.

 

I’m pathetic. I’ll never be anything more. Yet I’m still too much.

 

I’m sorry I’m too much.

 

I need to become smaller. More invisible. Silent. As if I don’t even exist at all. Maybe I don’t…

 

I’m sorry I’m here.

 

If I was stronger maybe I wouldn’t be here.

 

I’m sorry I don’t make sense.

 

I don’t think I can. Nothing ever makes sense. It’s not logical. And it confuses me too.

 

I’m sorry I haven’t left yet.

 

The only way to really be free is to just leave. Then everything will be on my terms. Then I can decide how and if I want to keep going. And it will only be my fault because I’ll be alone.

 

I’m sorry I thought I knew what I need.

 

I was wrong. I don’t know anything. May was right.

 

I’m sorry I’m so needy.

 

I hold on too tight. I put too much weight on everyone. I’m a burden.

 

I’m sorry I have so much weight.

 

I wish I didn’t.

 

I’m sorry I couldn’t fix this.

 

I don’t think anyone can fix this. Fix me. Fix my life. Fix everything I’ve broken. I’m broken. Can broken people be fixed? Most can, I think. But I think I’m too shattered to even find all the pieces of who I used to be. I’ll never be the same. I’ll only be worse and worse.

 

I’m so sorry…

 

So so sorry.

 

But sorry isn’t enough. It doesn’t fix it. I can’t fix anything.

 

I wish I knew what to do. The best thing for everyone is for me to just leave. To just go. Go where no one can find me. Being isolated is better than burdening everyone. Being too little is better than being too much. At least for me.

 

But I don’t think I’m strong enough to leave.

 

I’m weak. And I’m scared. I’m sorry I’m so scared. I need to just suck it up and push through. Just push through. It should be that easy. But I make everything so hard.

 

I put too much on everyone. I put too much pressure, too much weight, too much. I’m too much. I know no one can be my savior. I know no one has the responsibility to save my life. I know I’m no one’s obligation. I know. So I need to stop. Because it is not fair for me to pretend it’s okay. It’s not okay for me to put that weight on anyone. It is my responsibility to save myself. It’s my job to be my own savior. If I can’t save myself then no one could save me.

 

But that’s just a me thing I guess. It’s my fault that I’m weak. I know some people can do it. They’re strong. What happened to me to make me so weak?

 

I need to just man up. Suck it up and stop being so weak. I need to just push through. I’m supposed to push through.

 

I need to just hold it in. The nice thing about living with May was that I could just wait until she fell asleep and then I’d be able to cry myself to sleep. But I can’t do that here. I just need to numb myself, then I’ll be okay.

 

I want to be okay. I need to be okay. I’ll be okay. I will. I will? Right? Yeah… I mean I’m supposed to be. But that doesn’t mean I am… but I will be. Yeah…

 

I could talk to Tony. I could. But I know I shouldn’t. It’s not fair to put that pressure on him. It’s not fair at all. He doesn’t need my weight too.

 

But if he didn’t want me wouldn’t he have gotten rid of me by now?

 

Unless he’s more like me than I thought. That he too would stay in a bad situation. That he puts others before himself so much he would take everyone’s weight even when he can’t handle his own. That he would be too scared to leave because of the fear of what I would do without him here.

 

But he’s not like me. He’s so so much stronger. He’s so much better than me.

 

But he wanted me to be better.

 

But I just can’t. How can anyone be better than Tony? Not just because he’s Iron Man or a billionaire or a genius, no behind all that is the hero he really is. There are a lot of enhanced people, there’s plenty of billionaires, there are more geniuses, but not all of them are heros. Tony is. Undoubtedly.

 

It’s become my first instinct to go to him. I don’t know if that’s a good thing, it most likely isn’t. It’s selfish. I’m selfish. I should apologize to him for putting all this weight on him. But if I do that I’ll just be bothering him again. No, silence. Silence is better. Silence is what’s best.

 

But I still want to go to him. Maybe not even to really talk but to just be with him. Maybe he would hug me. Maybe he’d stay with me even if I started crying. He’s stayed through the most. He has every right to leave, but he hasn’t. Is that just the hero in him? Maybe it could be because he really does want to be my dad.

 

Maybe.

 

Hopefully.

Chapter Text

What do you do when your mind is screaming and you’re too weak to drown out the noise? What do you do when there’s no one else around to help muffle the never ceasing screams? What do you do when you’re alone?

 

I know the noise won’t ever stop but it’s getting louder and louder and louder and louder louder louder louder louder!

 

It won’t stop!

 

I can’t even pretend to be okay. I know I’m just working myself up, that it’s my fault. But I can’t stop. My mind won’t stop.

 

Every fear, every insecurity, every doubt stains every every part of my thoughts. Like ink on paper, it won’t ever be stainless again. It won’t stop.

 

What do you do when there’s no one you can go to?

 

I want to go to Tony, the only possibly healthy instincts left are to go to him. But I don’t want him to think that I only need and want him to help me through panic attacks.

 

Every sound, every single thing. The air vents, the doors opening and closing, the footsteps on the ground, it’s all too much. It’s too loud. I don’t want loud.

 

The snake is so tight I don’t think I’ll ever be able to breathe fully again.

 

Somehow I can hear every single miniscule sound in this building but my mind is still screaming to deafening decibels.

 

The only other instincts left are the unhealthy ones, but what other choice do I have?

 

I don’t necessarily want to cut right now, but I need to. I need to feel something. I need physical evidence of the emotional suffering inside. I need a distraction from everything. I need to be able to breathe even if only for a moment

 

I just want Tony though…

 

But he’s not coming. I’m alone. That’s how I always ends up.

 

I...I just always find a way to mess up every relationship I ever get. No matter what everything always gets messed up and it’s almost always my fault. I have to just accept that, right? That it’s on me. Because I am the one messing up my own life. But I need to figure out how to stop. But I don’t think I can.

 

I don’t want to be alone.

 

What do you do when you know no one's coming? What do you do when you know no one will save you? What do you do when you know you can’t save yourself?

 

You die…

 

A small part of my mind whispered, finally whispering for once, but it’s never sounded louder.

 

Everything’s falling apart. Everything. And I can’t fix it. I can’t put it back together. I can’t even put myself back together.

 

But Tony is a fixer.

 

But he can’t fix this. He can’t. It’s too much, too broken. Too shattered.

 

I can’t let myself cry. And I can't go numb. I can’t control dissociation. I don’t feel empty. I think I’m here but I don’t want to be.

 

If I cry then I won’t stop. If I go numb then I can’t let out all these stupid emotions. I want to dissociate but it won't come. I just don’t feel empty. If I’m real, then reality sucks.

 

I don’t understand. I don’t understand. Am I just stupid?

 

It’s surreal to watch yourself crack. But it’s inevitable. Like you’re standing in front of a train. You watch it coming and you know it’ll hit you but actually being hit is just nothing you can ever really prepare yourself for. But it’s like I can’t ever stop getting hit. And somehow I haven’t died yet.

 

What do you do when you know you can’t be saved?

 

I can’t cry though. I can’t. I can’t. I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t.

 

I know he’s not coming. I need to stop lying to myself, saying he’ll come when I know he won’t.

 

He said he’d be right back. That he’ll be back soon. That I’ll be okay. That he’ll be right back. That I won’t be alone, that they’re be people here with me.

 

But I never wanted him to go in the first place.

 

But I knew this would happen. And I was stupid enough to hope it wouldn’t.

 

Stupid stupid stupid.

 

What do you do when your mind just won’t stop?

 

What do you do when you know your mind is right? About everything?

Chapter Text

As tears slipped down my face, my voice choked up to the point where every breath hurt, the words “I’m sorry,” broke out.

 

I didn’t mean to cry. I really didn’t.

 

But Bucky is here now. Somewhere in between my ruthless thoughts screaming and my tears finally falling, Bucky came.

 

It hurts, god it hurts so bad…

 

Will I ever be out of pain?

 

I wish I was strong enough to put myself back together. I wish I was the hero of my own story. I wish this could be a story of the hero learning to fix themselves. But I’m just not in that place. I don’t know if I ever will be. I could hope I will be, that one day I’ll learn to put my broken pieces back together. But I don’t know if that will ever happen.  

 

Tony was right, I guess, I’m not alone. It’s just, he’s not here.

 

Most people are only here for a chapter and that has to be okay.

 

But I hoped Tony would be here longer. But maybe, maybe it’s just not his chapter. Maybe he’ll be back soon.

 

The only person who really is here for the whole book, is yourself. No one else will be there, and that has to just be accepted.

 

I didn’t think anyone would come. No, I knew no one would come. But maybe I don’t know the right things. I really am trying to see reality.

 

“You have nothing to be sorry about,” Bucky told me as he hugged me. It’s the same way he held me that night he helped me through a nightmare. It’s nice.

 

I have everything to be sorry about. Everything. I shouldn’t even be freaking out. He has his own issues, his health is supposed to be the priority not mine.

 

“Yes I do,” I protested, weakly but still I tried.

 

“What do you have to be sorry about?” He asked, gently. And with the way he said it, he really did seem to want to know the answer.

 

“I’m sorry that I keep doing this to you, and to Tony, and Steve and Happy and Wanda. I’m sorry that I keep putting so much weight on everyone, that I’m such a burden. I’m sorry that I’m still here, it would be so much better if I wasn’t,” I knew I should stop, that I should just shut up and be silent, but the words refused to stop coming out, “I’m sorry that I’m so needy, that I can’t handle anything, that I cry so much. I’m sorry that I can’t get better, that I can’t just fix myself,” I would have kept going if I wasn’t cut off by a big sob. I just can’t stop crying. I didn’t mean to cry.

 

“Peter…” was all he said at first, and I stopped breathing for a moment, “we don’t expect you to be able to just ‘fix yourself’, okay?” At seeing my failing gasps for air he addressed that next, his voice still calm and low, “Hey, you feel my heartbeat? You feel my breathing? Can you try to breathe with me.”

 

I like that he doesn’t make me count my breaths, count how long I keep them in and out. Counting makes me panic more because when I can’t go that deep then I’m failing and I don’t want to keep failing.

 

It took longer than it should have, but I was eventually able to breathe somewhat normally. And then he continued, “you are not doing anything to us. We are here because we want to be. You are not forcing, guilting us into, or manipulating us into being here. We are here because we want to help you.”

 

But that can’t be true. There’s no reason why they would want to help me.

 

He kept talking, and it was really calming, “you are not burdening any of us. No one is able to hold all weight, that’s why we share it.”

 

He let those words sink in for a few breaths before he continued, “I am so so happy you are here. No one, no one, would think it’s better without you. Not even for a second. You are not ‘needy’, you need help but that does not make you needy. And Peter? Peter you handle so much. You’ve been through more than anyone ever should, especially at your age. When I was your age, I never would have been able to go through what you have. There is no way I ever would have come out as kind, as caring, as genuinely heroic you are.”

 

How could that be true?

 

“You can get better. And you will. We are all with you, through whatever happens. It’s our choice and we want to. We wouldn’t still be here if we didn’t believe you will get better and want to help you get there.”

 

I...I don’t have an argument against that.

 

 

Tony never would have left if he didn’t know it was absolutely necessary. And it is.

 

He decided it would be best to deal with himself.

 

They decided to meet at a quiet little café. She refused to go anywhere private with him. As if he was the one that would try to hurt him.

 

At this point there was no facade, no fake pleasantries, just a cold “May,” when she finally arrived. She was seventeen minutes late. He stood up when she walked in, not to be polite but to hold as much dominance as he could muster.

 

“Stark,” her voice came out as more venomous than cold. “Where’s my kid?”

 

And that already pissed him off, “I didn’t bring him with me.”

 

Flames burned behind her eyes, she hadn’t even bothered to sit down yet, “you can’t hide behind your lawyers forever.”

 

The only reason he was ‘hiding’ behind his lawyers is because his priority was to be there for Peter. She did call the cops on him, and thankfully his lawyers were somehow able to get them to back off for the time being. He didn’t bother questioning how they managed that. All he cared about was making sure Peter was safe and happy.

 

“I’m doing what’s best for Peter,” he meant every word.

 

That’s when the screaming started, “what’s best for Peter?! You kidnapped him from me and you have the audacity to say you’re doing what’s best?!”

 

Though he kept his voice at a normal talking level, it did not keep any fire from his tone, “he chose to come with me. He wants to stay with me, May.”

 

“He doesn’t know what he wants! He’s a child! He’s my child and only I know what’s best for him!” She refused to back down.

 

His voice became dangerously low, “you have no idea how to help him. You just made everything worse for him.”

 

Her pure shock and anger was almost enough to throw him off, but not enough “I was keeping him safe!”

 

He could list every single example of how she destroyed his mental health, but he knew that wouldn’t get them anywhere. It took every ounce of self-control but he tried to mend what he could, “I didn’t come here to scream at each other,” before she could protest he quickly continued, “I’m here to talk about custody.”

 

For the next minute only profanities flooded out of May, and he took it all. He would take anything for his kid. “You kidnapped my kid now you want custody over him?!”

 

He didn’t bother fighting her on the whole kidnapping thing again, “yes.”

 

“You can’t have him!” She was beyond hysterical at this point.

 

“I have more evidence than you would think possible. I have the best lawyers in the country. And Peter wants me to have custody.” He knew there was no way she could beat that.

 

Instead she growled, “what evidence?”

 

“For starters, him saying he wants to stay with me, him jumping, his panic attacks-” she cut him off.

 

“He has panic attacks?” Instead of anger, there was just pure confusion.

 

“Yes,” he answered simply. He knew Peter would be upset if he found out that Tony revealed more to May without his knowledge.

 

That was when she sat down. He knew he had a long discussion ahead of him.

 

 

Bucky said he would stay as long as I needed and wanted him. And he did. He talked to me until I fell asleep, and stayed until I woke up. I didn’t have a nightmare. I actually slept restfully which was shocking given the mental state I had just been in.

 

But he stayed.

Chapter Text

“What else am I not aware of?” Was the first thing May asked after she sat down.

 

It took a lot of self control for Tony to not be snarky and say something along the lines of ‘oh, do you want to hear the whole list?’ But he bit his tongue.

 

“I’m not here to talk about that, I’m here to talk about his custody,” he responded with a straining calmness.

 

Though it was clear that she was seething inside she had the audacity to ask, “and what about it?”

 

“Look May, we both know that we need to do what’s best for Peter. This is about him. And he wants and has asked is to stay with me,” it again took immense self control to not have a smug smile at the end of his statement.

 

“We both?” She scoffed, “You know nothing about him, Stark.” Says her of all people.

 

And that is what got him to lose his calm mask, “I’m the one who has held him as he cried. I’m the one that sits with him until he falls asleep again after a nightmare. I’m the one that helps him breathe during a panic attack. I’m the one he went to after you hurt him. I’m the one that he wants to stay with.”

 

“I’m the one that raised him!” She shot back.

 

“And look who he chose,” his voice alone was deadly.

 

That was when the tears finally came into her eyes, “you can’t have him,” her voice cracking was almost enough to get him to back off a little.

 

But all he did was lower his voice more, “look May, we both know how this will turn out. It’ll be easier on everyone if we stop fighting. Fighting doesn’t help Peter.”

 

She sniffed but didn’t say anything.

 

“My lawyers will contact you about the papers,” and he left with that, knowing she was not in a place to keep talking.

 

 

Tony came back.

 

I know he said he would, that he’s not gonna really leave me, that he would be back soon. But I was scared. It would be so easy for him to just leave and never come back. It would be so easy for me to be alone again.

 

But I will be alone again.

 

I know it’s in several months, but there are still nights that I stay up terrified of Tony and Peppers wedding. I’m excited of course, I’m so happy for them, so happy. They deserve it. They deserve to be happy together.

 

But I’ll be alone again.

 

Tony had asked me to be a part of the wedding, and of course I accepted. The gesture is kind. Rhodey is the best men. I only know one groomsman, which is Happy, I have no idea who or if he has any other groomsmen. The only bridesmaid I know Pepper has so far is Natasha.

 

I don't want to be alone again.

 

Part of me wants to think that nothing will really change, but I know that’s not true. Yeah I know Pepper already lives here so that will be the same, but it’ll be really real now. More than ever their priority will be each other, and that’s how it should be. It’s not meant to be any other way. I’m lucky enough if I’m even an afterthought to Tony.

 

But I don’t want to be an afterthought. But that’s selfish. I know it is. Why would Tony Stark think anything of me?

 

As the wedding approaches, all their thoughts and energy will be on planning it. I know Pepper is ecstatic to finally pull her dream wedding together. She deserves it. She deserves to be happy and to find joy in the wedding planning.

 

How will custody work with the wedding coming?

 

No, no that’s selfish. The wedding is the priority. Tony and Pepper are the priority.

 

There are times where I lock myself in the bathroom and just cry.

 

Sometimes I wonder if it’ll be like before, like when I was with May.

 

I should be happy. I need to be happy for them. And I am. On some level. But on another level I am absolutely terrified. I’m terrified to lose him…

 

It really won’t be the same after the wedding. But this is how it’s supposed to be, I guess.

 

I’m even scared about the honeymoon, which is just stupid and I know it is. He’ll come back, he will. I’ll just have to be without him for some time. They are undecided on how long the honeymoon will be. I mean, I know I have Bucky and Steve, and maybe Happy, but they can’t replace Tony. No one can.

 

When you lose someone, you begin looking for them in everyone else, but you never find them.

 

Chapter Text

Sometimes I wonder if I can get better. That even if I put in all the effort I can muster, it won’t change anything. I do believe there can be improvement, I’ve already seen some. But I don’t know if I can ever fully be better. Is it possible to be happy and not be better?

 

Tony says I’ll be better.

 

Bucky says that it just takes time.

 

Steve says that I will be happy.

 

But I just don’t know.

 

I know I physically heard a voice, but it didn’t register in my mind.

 

Should I just be satisfied that I have improvement? Or am I supposed to keep striving to be better? If I do that then I’ll never be happy because I’ll just keep wanting more and more and more. I need to just be happy with where I’m at, I guess. I don't know.

 

“Peter?”

 

Should I know? Am I supposed to have the answers? Even if I ask someone that doesn’t mean they’ll know either. So then what? I don’t know. I just don’t know.

 

Do you ever have those moments that you just realIze that that is how fragile you are? Where everything is fine and then something happens and then I’m like oh yeah I’m not fine. I’m never fine.

 

“Peter!”

 

It’s frustrating. So so frustrating because I’m tired of this. I’m sick of being like this. I know I should be better. Not every little thing should break me. I’m supposed to be doing better. I’m supposed to be better than this. But I’m not, I’m just not.

 

Peter!

 

I feel like I’ve already spent so much time trying to get better but I’m not getting anywhere. I know it just takes time, everything takes time, it’ll be worth it in the end. But how long do I have to wait? Is it really just a matter of time or am I just not fighting hard enough? Is this my fault?

 

It could very well be my fault. Maybe I’m not trying hard enough, fighting hard enough. Maybe it is possible to be better but I’m just not enough to get there. I know other people can get it, but maybe it’s just me that can’t.

 

“Kid!”

 

I need to try to come back. I need to try not to float away. But it’s so nice to float off.

 

“Underoos…”

 

It was the sound of crying that caught my attention. It’s like I just pulled myself out of water. Everything so foggy and unclear, but now reality is here.

 

“Dad?” I asked. How long has he been here? Am I in the common room? I floated away in the common room? That was so stupid I should have held on tighter, I know I can’t really control my mind floating away but if I held on tighter maybe I wouldn’t have scared Tony so much.

 

At hearing my voice he quickly pulled me into a hug. I didn’t mind that he didn’t ask permission first, not this time, not with him. I like his hugs, they feel safe.

 

 

There is nothing more terrifying than not being able to help your kid.

 

Tony had just gone to the bathroom and came back to find Peter sitting completely still. It’s like he was hardly breathing. Even when Tony moved in front of the kid, his eyes stared right through him. As if he wasn’t even there.

 

Even saying his name didn’t seem to register at all in him. The pure fear that struck him was enough to make his heart stop for a second. He kept saying his name, over and over, trying to pull his kid out of whatever was pulling him away.

 

He couldn't help it, he started crying. Because his kid was sitting directly in front of him, but it’s like he wasn’t there. Tony had read about dissociation before but he wasn’t sure if this was it or not.

 

The crying, that was what seemed to bring Peter back, even if only a little bit. And the second his eyes focused and he called him ‘Dad’ he couldn't help but to pull the kid into a hug.

 

 

I scared Tony. I’m not even sure what that was but either way it scared him. I didn’t mean to scare him.

 

I floated away like with dissociation, but I still was able to think too too much like with a panic attack. It’s happened before but I don’t understand it. How can I explain something I don’t understand?

 

“Kid, you’re back,” I couldn’t tell if it was a question or a statement with how he said it. I’m not sure.

 

“I’m sorry I scared you,” I whispered. I sound so pathetic.

 

“Peter,” he pulled back just enough to be able to look me in the eye, “I just want to make sure you’re okay.”

 

Am I okay though? No matter what I do I still have panic attacks, I still dissociate. I still just can’t get better. Is that okay?

 

“I’m sorry,” I said again. And I meant it. I know I apologize a lot but I mean it every time. Because I keep screwing up, I keep hurting people, I keep scaring people, I can’t stop messing everything up. And so I’m sorry. To everyone.

Chapter Text

It would be so much easier if he was a stranger. It’s a lot easier to talk to someone you don’t know at all. Because then there’s no pressure, no judgement. It doesn’t matter what they think of you, it doesn’t matter if you screw it up.

 

I like Sam, he’s nice and patient. But he’s an Avenger, and he lives in the Compound with us. It matters what he thinks. It matters if I screw up, if I say too much.  

 

I know I’m supposed to talk to someone, I know Tony wants me to, but it’s so hard. It’s so hard to just show all my broken pieces and be like here, here’s everything dark and wrong about me. I can’t do that. I’m supposed to be better, stronger. But I’m not.

 

All day today our…meeting, I guess, has been at the back of my mind pestering me. I’m so scared.

 

I know I should just lay it all out, tell him what’s really going on, but I don’t know if I can do that.

 

Tony is happy that I’m seeing Sam, and I’m glad that he’s happy, but I’m not happy. But that’s the point, isn’t it?

 

It started like before, Tony coming to see if I was ready, then him taking me to see Sam. It’s supposed to be like last time, because that worked I guess, where it’s just casual as to make me less uncomfortable.

 

“Hi Peter,” Sam greeted me cheerfully.

 

“Hi,” I managed to match his enthusiasm. In stuff like this, it’s easier to put on that persona of happiness because then it seems more like I’m okay and I need to be okay.

 

“I'll leave you to it,” and with that, Tony left. But I can call him if I need him. We just sat down on the couches. This room I guess is technically a common room but it’s not used very often since it’s not as big as the main one. But I also think Tony probably informed the others to stay away from here to give us privacy. I think he had us come here rather than a meeting room to try to make me as comfortable as possible. It’s a kind gesture.

 

“How are you doing?” Though it sounds like small talk I know he seriously wants to know.

 

“I’m okay,” the words fell from my lips before I even thought about it. It’s just so automatic.

 

“You don’t need to say that if you’re not okay,” he told me calmly but seriously.

 

I nodded, not really knowing what to say. There’s so much I could say but I don’t know if I should. I could tell him about how my depression seems a bit better but my anxiety seems worse. I could tell him about my panic attacks or my dissociation. Or about how terrified I am to see May. How much I miss Wanda but I know I screwed it up and she hates me. How I really love spending time with Bucky but I’m scared that’ll cause me to become less close with Tony. How utterly scared I am for the wedding.

 

There’s so much I could say but I don’t know how. I never know how.

 

“Would you like to say what you’re thinking about?” He asked, gently. No.

 

“I don’t know…” I mumbled, even though we both knew the answer.

 

How am I supposed to just say everything? Or anything? How am I supposed to just blurt out everything wrong with me?

 

“It’s okay, Peter. We can just talk, it doesn’t have to be heavy stuff right now,” he tried to assure me.

 

‘Right now’, but later it will. It will have to be and I can’t do that. I can’t. I don't know how.

 

The only thing I can maybe talk about is Wanda. I’ve accepted that. I’ve accepted that I ruined everything and she hates me now.

 

“I miss Wanda,” I whispered. And it’s true. I miss her. I miss talking to her. But I burned that bridge. She hates me. I think it was the café that I last saw her, and I had a panic attack. She saw how weak I am. She must hate me. I know she hates me.

 

“Have you talked to her?” He asked, but not pressed.

 

“No. She doesn’t want to talk to me. We haven’t talked in a long time and so much has happened but she doesn’t want to talk to me.” I said too much, I know I did.

 

“Why do you think she doesn't want to talk to you?” It’s a valid question but for some reason it frustrated me.

 

“If she wanted to talk to me, wouldn’t she have?” But then again, I want to talk to her but I haven’t. But I’m the one that ruined everything. I'm the one that messed it up, I don’t have the right to approach her and bother her. “Are you going to tell her?” I asked.

 

“No, no whatever we talk about stays between us,” Sam assured me.

 

“Even from Tony?” I asked after a moment of thought.

 

“Yes. Even from Tony.”

Chapter Text

I feel like it shouldn’t feel freeing to know Tony won’t know what I say to Sam, that there are things I can keep between us. It’s not like I’m necessarily keeping secrets, I just have some things I don’t think he needs to hear about. No, no that sounds bad.

 

“What are you afraid of?” He asked, which I absolutely did not expect, but he continued, “You don’t have to answer but it’s something to think about. To see if you know.”

 

Being left. Being left with May again. That it really is my fault, all of it. That I really am the one that ruined my own life. That I’ll drive everyone away. That I’ll never get better. That I’ll make the wrong decision and it’ll ruin everything. That I’ll relapse, and that I’ll be happier if I do. That if I relapse, it won’t help and I’ll be trapped again but I won’t get the satisfaction anymore. That I’ll say too much and scare everyone away. That I’ll never learn the balance between being too little and being too much. That everyone will give up on me. That I’m not valid. That maybe I was right originally, before. That it was good that I didn’t swim, that if I was faster it would have been better. That Tony will hate me. That May was right. That I’m just overreacting and oversensitive. That I don’t actually have any mental illnesses and I have no excuses and no reasons not to be happy. That my mind is right, about everything.

 

I’m so scared…

 

After letting me think for a few moments, he spoke again, “Do you want to keep talking about Wanda?”

 

I don’t know. I know this is supposed to be for me but I don’t know the answers. I don’t know anything.

 

I shrugged, still not having an answer. I should just talk to him. Open up. But that’s a lot easier said than done. I know he’s here to help. I know I am more lucky than I’ll ever be able to understand to be able to see a therapist whenever I need to.

 

I’m so ungrateful, I should take the opportunity I’ve been given and actually use it to help me. What right do I have to see a therapist if I don’t let myself be helped?

 

“How did it go talking to Tony about being Spider-Man?” I forgot about that. So much has been going on that kind of fell off my priority list.

 

“He said we can work something out. But neither of us really think it’ll be really good for me to do right now,” that’s true, it really wouldn’t help me.

 

“Do you have an idea of when you might want to try being Spider-Man again?” That’s a valid question but I still can’t come up with an answer.

 

“I-I don’t know. I’m just not ready yet.” I can’t handle the responsibility. I can’t even handle the responsibility of trying to keep my mind okay, how can I do anything more?

 

Tony does though. He fights through and he’s still a hero. But I’m not as strong as him.

 

 

“How did it go with May?” Pepper asked once Tony came back from dropping Peter off with Sam.

 

Tony let out a heavy sigh as he sat down. “We really didn’t talk much since she was mostly just yelling at me. In the end, I realized we really wouldn’t get much done and said my lawyers would contact her.”

 

“You expected that though, that she wouldn’t cooperate,” Pepper held his hand as she sat next to him.

 

He huffed out another breath, “yeah but I still hoped she would. She knows she can’t win and it would be easier on everyone if she just signed the papers.”

 

“It’s not going to be easy Tony. She probably sees this as fighting for Peter.”

 

“Fighting for Peter?” He snapped, “she’s fighting against him! She’s keeping him from being happy, being free. All she ever does is hurt him!”

 

“Tony…” Peppers voice was soft.

 

He leaned back, “I’m sorry Pep,” his voice just as soft, “I’m not mad at you. I’m mad at her.”

 

“I know, I know. It’s so hard to watch someone you love hurting,” they both knew she knew from experience. He was never very good at opening up to what is hurting inside.

 

 

“I can sense you’re holding back, Peter. But that’s one thing we are here to work on, I don’t expect you to just completely open up right away.

 

I’m always holding back, aren’t I? The-the only times I’m not holding back is when...is when I’m having a panic attack…

 

Maybe I could talk about May? Maybe? What she did…it wasn’t okay. It wasn’t. But, but what if she was right?

Chapter Text

It was right when Peter’s talk with Tony that his phone went off. He was about to ignore it when he realized it was his lawyer.

 

“I’ll get Peter, you need to take that,” Pepper told him firmly, knowing that he wouldn’t want to not get Peter.

 

After a moment of consideration he answered his phone, not bothering to put on his patented Tony Stark persona, “what’s going on?”

 

Pepper took that as her cue to leave, waiting until she was in the hall to ask Friday if Peter was done talking with Sam. When Friday said they weren’t done yet she started walking towards the main common room to wait. Not knowing how much longer Tony or Peter would take she figured getting a bit of work done would be most beneficial.

 

To her surprise when she entered the common room she came face to face with Wanda. Though Pepper and Wanda are two of the three women that live in the compound they still do not interact too much. Wanda keeps to herself more, and Pepper is much closer with Natasha.

 

But of course Pepper put on a smile and gave a friendly “hello” to the avenger.

 

“Hi,” Wanda’s smile back seemed almost relieved.

 

Even when Pepper dropped down onto the couch she still looks so more put together than seemingly possible.

 

It was after Pepper had responded back to a few emails on her Stark tablet that Wanda finally spoke up again, “how’s Peter doing?”

 

Pepper closed the tablet and turned to face her, “It’s a long journey. He’s had improvements and setbacks, but we don’t really know how deep it goes since he still isn’t very comfortable talking to anyone.”

 

Wanda nodded, eyes growing distant. When she didn’t respond Pepper continued, “but you know that more than most of us. You actually saw what we…don’t see.”

 

“He’s holding more pain in him than anyone ever should,” her eyes stayed distant as she sat down next to Pepper.

 

“He misses you though, we all noticed how much he loved spending time with you,” she told her.

 

Wanda nodded again, “Tony and Sam think I should talk with Peter again. Maybe not even about me going into his head, but to be friends again.”

 

Pepper smiled again, “I think that’s a really good idea.”

 

“I’ll talk to him,” she decided.

 

 

Steve was drawing as Bucky sat with him, content to just watch the artist work. They spend many days like this, just relishing in each other’s presence.

 

But Steve could see that there was something on Bucky’s mind, “what’re you thinking about Buck?”

 

There was no surprise when he answered with ‘Peter’.

 

“When Tony had left to go meet May and I was here with Peter, he had a panic attack. But he actually did open up more,” he revealed, putting his head on Steve’s shoulder.

 

“Isn’t that a good thing?” He asked, putting his pencil and notebook down.

 

“It’s good that he trusted me with what he said, but what he said…I’m not going to go against his trust and say what he told me, that wouldn’t help anyone. But he does need help.” He meant it in the most caring way and Steve understood that.

 

“Do you think him talking with Sam is helping?” Steve asked, genuinely wanting to know.

 

“I think it has the possibility to really help. But it all depends on how much Peter opens up. It’s not easy, in any way, but it’s necessary to get better,” they both knew he was talking from experience. It took a long time just for Bucky to be comfortable with Steve even just being in the skate room as him when he has a nightmare, let alone actually try to help him.

 

“It’s really good that he trusts you though,” he tried to make the conversation a bit more positive.

 

“Yeah, I’m thankful for that.”

 

 

“What did May say?” Tony demanded more than asked.

 

“She fought back a lot-” Tony quickly cut his lawyer off:

 

“Is she cooroportaing or not?”

 

“She’s willing to make a compromise.”

Chapter Text

“What does she mean by compromise?” Tony seethed, any thought of being composed out the window.

 

His fury did not faze his lawyer, “she means that she will only give you custody if she meets with Peter herself and he tells her he wants to stay with you.”

 

“Absolutely not, she will not be anywhere near Peter, let alone talk with him,” he decided without a second thought.

 

“I know you want to protect him, but in the long run one conversation will be a lot less harmful than a full out custody battle. And if she does say or do something you’ll be there to step in and stop her,” it may have been the mans overly composed tone that infuriated him the most.

 

Tony sighed, knowing he was right, “there’s no other way?”

 

“No,” though his lawyer was a man known to reveal no emotion he let some remorse seep through, “you should talk this through with Peter, he deserves to have a choice in the matter. If he decides not to see her then we have enough evidence to win, this would just be quicker and quieter.

 

Tony ran his fingers through his hair, already knowing how Peter will respond, “yeah, I’ll let you know.”

 

 

I was seriously considering talking to Sam about May but that was when I noticed the hour was almost over. Tony and Sam had figured that putting a general time limit on the talks would make it less suffocating knowing that it’ll be over soon.

 

I guess Sam picked up that I wasn’t really gonna talk anymore and he spoke up, “this was a good talk. I think it’s good to end it here,” he waited for me to nod in agreement before he continued, “thank you for talking.”

 

It was strange to be thanked for talking, I guess I still used to people wanting me to stay quiet. I learned early on in life that it’s better to stay silent than to speak at all. It’s difficult trying to teach myself to speak up.

 

Sam led me out to the main common room, but it took us both by surprise to not see Tony but to see Pepper and Wanda.

 

After a nervous glance around the room I asked, “where’s Dad?” It took me less than a second to realize what I said but I tried my best to not react because if I did they are more likely to and I’m much too tired for that. Then again I’m always tired but whatever.

 

“He had to take a phone call, but he’ll be back as soon as he can,” Pepper assured me.

 

But-but he’s supposed to be here! He said he’d be here!

 

I know it’s not right for me to be angry or upset but I still am.

 

“Okay,” was all I managed to get out. Yep that was extremely convincing, I am just so great at concealing my hurt.

 

As composed as ever Pepper filled the momentary silence we fell into after my pathetic response, “how was the talk?”

 

I haven’t missed that they have been avoiding calling these ‘talks’ as sessions or therapy or counseling. It’s not like I don’t know what’s going on.

 

“Fine,” I mumbled. I’m so childish I need to just shut up already.

 

Quickly picking up that I didn’t want to elaborate anymore Sam continued for me, “it went well. Is there another time that would work well for another talk?”

 

“I’ll have to check definitively with Tony but next week should work well,” I didn’t miss the pain in Peppers eyes as I knew she saw the pain in mine. But I’m the one that’s hurting her just because I’m so weak that even Tony just not being here for me after a ‘talk’ hurts me. I’m such a moron.

 

Maybe I haven’t changed at all. It’s crazy how much things can change in so so little time. Less than an hour ago I was feeling okay opening up more to Sam but now I’m back in this hole. Will I ever stop digging myself deeper?

 

“Alright, just let me know,” and with that Sam took his leave. It’s strange how with two other people still in the room I’m still being suffocated with loneliness.

 

I’m not even sure why Wanda is here, she clearly wants nothing to do with me. But I can’t and don’t blame her.

 

“I’m gonna go to my room if that’s okay,” I didn’t make eye contact with either of them.

 

“Okay honey, I’ll send Tony over when he’s done,” Pepper thankfully allowed me to leave. I tried to walk out as quick as I could, without seeming too suspicious of course. It took way too much willpower than it should to force myself to breathe properly.

 

I hate this so much. Tony has the right to take a phone call, he has the right to not be here. I shouldn’t be upset. I shouldn’t. I-I can’t even breathe right what is wrong with me?!

 

“Wait Peter,” I didn’t stop even though part of me desperately wanted to hear what she was going to say, “Peter!” Wanda called out again.

 

That time I did stop, but did not turn around. I stayed silent, waiting for her to speak before I fled again.

 

“I just wanted to apologize,” her voice came out so timid, it sounded wrong coming from such a strong strong woman.

 

I knew that if I stayed any longer I would start hyperventilating, I hardly got out “you don’t need to apologize,” before I ran out.

 

Guilt only caused the snake to grip me tighter but I just needed to get out of there. I just need to calm down and breathe .

 

I didn’t mean to sprint down the halls.

 

I didn’t mean to slam my bedroom door.

 

I didn’t mean to collapse on the floor.

 

I didn’t mean to start hyperventilating.

 

But I couldn't help it…

 

 

The second Pepper saw Peter ran away she went to action.

 

First off, consoling Wanda, “it’s not your fault, he’s in a bad mindset right now. He will want to talk to you, just not right now.”

 

Though she didn’t look convinced, Pepper made her own getaway to find her fiancé.

 

It was quite convenient that she ran into Tony right as he was walking into the hallway.

 

“Hey, Pep, you okay?” Concern immediately washed over him.

 

“I’m okay, it’s just when you weren’t there when Peter got out of his session with Sam he seemed really upset that you weren’t there. He ran off to his room, I’m not sure if it would be better for you to go check on him or for him to cool off first,” she quickly explained, her normally put together self crumbling with worry.

 

“I’ll go check on him,” after giving her a quick peck on the cheek he went to Peter's room.

 

 

It was a knock on my door that pulled me away from my thoughts, even if just for a moment. On instinct I quickly wiped at the stray tears on my face and by pure will forced myself to seem somewhat okay.

 

After forcing a deep breath I said, “yeah?” knowing it was most likely Pepper, Wanda, or Tony.

 

“It’s me kid,” Tony couldn't hide the worry in his voice.

 

It was strange, suddenly it was like I didn’t want him there. Not that I didn’t want him to come, but that I didn’t want him to stay. Like, I want to know he cares enough to come, but I don’t actually want him here.

 

But I always want him here? I don’t know what’s happening.

 

I don’t want Pepper or even Wanda either though. I don’t want Happy, I don’t want Steve. That just leaves Bucky. But I can’t put this on him, it’s stupid.

 

“Can I come in Pete?” I almost forgot he was at the door.

 

“No-no I mean I’m fine,” wow okay that was just the perfect answer, shouldn’t I be better under pressure when I’m a superhero? Or was a superhero…

 

There isn’t anyone left, is there? I’m lonely but there’s no one that I want to go to that I can go to, and that’s…that’s more lonely than ever. It’s one thing to not have people, it’s another to technically have people around but no one to actually go to.

 

“Oh…okay Pete.”

 

It’s like the snake snapped me in half, all the air left my lungs at once and I couldn't even try to bring it back in.

 

“Dad,” I heard the word fall from my lips. I didn’t mean to say it aloud.

 

“I’m here, Pete,” he didn’t open the door, but I knew he was right there on the other side.

 

I didn’t know what to say.

Chapter Text

Dissociation can feel like balloons. Like I’m just floating up and away, higher and higher. I’m weightless.

 

But sometimes those balloons pop. And I go plummeting to the earth, I smack against the ground with a crack. I shatter. It hurts so so badly and everything hits me at once and it hurts more than before I floated away.

 

Sometimes the balloons just deflate, just get smaller and smaller until they can’t carry me anymore. It’s so draining.

 

But sometimes the balloons never come. I want them to come. I wish I could control them, if I could I would make them come now. But I can’t.

 

I can’t help but see the parallel between right now and the day I jumped from the bridge. I locked myself in the bathroom that day, and right now I locked myself in my room. I didn’t have a lock in my room at Mays apartment.

 

Tony is on the other side of the door. He was then too. But that time, I was too scared to let him in. Now? Now I just…I don’t want him in here. Maybe it’s not that I don’t want him to stay at all, but that I don’t want him to come in the room. I don’t want him to leave either though.

 

I don’t know. My confusion is almost enough to overpower the panic still gripping my chest. I still can only take in the most shallow of breaths to try to get any air in.

 

I heard him lower himself to the floor and lean against the door. Maybe he is staying.

 

I don’t want to be alone. I know that. Nothing good ever comes from me being alone when I’m like this. But there’s also no one I can go to.

 

Normally I always want Tony, normally he’s my first choice, but right now? Right now I don’t think he can help me. He’s not my savior, I know that. But I still don’t know how to save myself.

 

Maybe I was right before, that I just need a stranger. Someone I have no obligation to, someone who it doesn’t matter what they think of me. If I tell that to Tony will he even understand what I mean?

 

I crawled over to the door, I heard his breath catch in his throat. I know he’ll be disappointed when I don’t open it.

 

“Dad?” I whispered into the door.

 

“I’m here, kid,” he assured me.

 

“I’m sorry,” I didn’t mean for that to be the first thing out of my mouth but it’s so natural.

 

“Kid, it’s not your fault you panicked,” he sighed. I could hear the disappointment in his voice, but I can’t tell if it was directed towards me or him.

 

“I-I think I need…no nevermind, it’s stupid nevermind.” I almost was stupid enough to actually say it.

 

“I’m sure it’s not stupid. I’m here to try to help you Pete, I can’t do that unless I know what you need.” I still wonder how he has so much patience for me.

 

I tried my best to take a deep breath, “I just…I think I need someone here who I don’t really know. Someone who it doesn’t matter what they think of me, who we have no obligation to each other. Does that make sense?”

 

He took a breath, “yeah, it does Pete. Do you want someone else from the team who you haven’t met yet?”

 

I shrugged even though I know he can’t see me. “Sure…”

 

I heard him get up. I heard him whisper, “I’ll be back soon.” I heard him walk away.

 

I know that I’m the one that asked him to find someone else, but it still hurt when he walked away. But I have no right to be hurt. I hurt him first. I hurt him again.

 

 

When he was out of Peter’s enhanced earshot he asked Friday, “where’s Natasha?”

 

“In her room with Sergeant Barnes,” upon hearing where she is he broke out into a light jog.

 

The only reason he bothered to knock on the door is because he knows Natasha might actually kill him if he doesn’t.

 

“It’s Tony,” he announced, not willing to waste any more time.

 

“Come in,” and he finally opened the door. He tried to keep a straight face upon seeing Natasha Romanoff braiding Bucky Barnes’ hair.

 

“Natasha, I need to talk to you,” he went straight to the point.

 

“Do you want me to leave?” Bucky already started to get up.

 

“No, just…” he sighed, not bothering to hide his clear frustration, “after me you’re the one Peter trusts most.” It still left a bitter taste in his mouth to say. That of all people, Peter connected with Bucky Barnes the most.

 

“Is it about your son?” Natasha smirked.

 

“Yeah, yeah it is,” he was not willing to play games at that moment, “he’s panicking in his room and he doesn’t want to be alone,” before either of them could ask any questions he continued, “he wants someone that ‘it doesn’t matter what they think of him’, someone he hasn’t met yet. Nat…can you please come sit with him?” It is not in his nature to sound so vulnerable, especially in front of not only Natasha but Bucky.

 

“Of course,” all playfulness left and she got up, somehow finishing Bucky’s braid in those few seconds.

 

With that, the boys dad and the assassin made their way to Peter’s room.

 

 

It was only after Tony walked away that I realized what I just did.

 

I made Tony leave. My idiocy and desperation caused him to leave.

 

And now he’s trying to find someone else to be here with me. I basically just told my dad that I don’t want him. I’m going to have to meet someone new now. The snake stole what was left of my breath.

 

I actually made Tony leave. That thought alone makes me want to cry.

 

A knock at the door sounded. I couldn’t help the momentary panic when my mind flashed back to May banging on my door and I was trapped and I’ll always trapped I’ll always be trapped-

 

“Hey Underoos, I brought Natasha, I think you’ll like her,” Tony’s voice was soft, I like when he makes his voice soft.

 

“Can I come in Peter?” Natasha asked.

 

“...yeah,” I just have to hope it didn’t hurt Tony too much when I let her in but not him. I quickly crawled away from the door, as I was still leaning against it.

 

She opened the door slowly, I appreciated that. It took her less than a second to notice me on the ground. She smiled, and gestures to the floor next to me, I knew what she was asking and I made a small nod. After closing the door she sat down next to me.

 

It was was when I saw the closed door that I wondered if Tony would stay or leave. I’m not sure which I preferred, but I knew which was most likely.

 

“Hi Peter, I’m Natasha.”

 

I quickly tried to remember if she was on Tony’s side at the airport, if she has a grudge against me. Black Widow was there, she fought on our side, so maybe she doesn’t dislike me yet.

 

“Hi Ms. Romanoff,” I didn’t make eye contact, I just stayed sitting there with my knees pulled against my chest. I must look so small.

 

“It’s Natasha,” she smiled at me. I never thought someone who’s known to be so scary could seem so…comforting.

 

“I’m sorry,” I still didn’t dare meet her gaze.

 

“Not a problem,” she answered so easily, as if sitting with some strange teenager on the floor of his room is normal.

 

I took a second to try to hear if Tony was still outside the door or not, but I couldn’t tell. I guess I’m too out of it.

 

“Do you want to do something, or talk, or just sit here? I’m completely comfortable with whatever,” she spoke softly but kindly.

 

I shrugged, really not knowing.

 

“Okay well how about we do something,” she decided, my eyes widened, I’m not ready to leave my room, as if she read my mind she continued, “we’ll stay in here but what is it you like to do?”

 

“Um…I like to draw?” She nodded, waiting to see if I would continue, “and I like Legos and photography.”

 

“Well that’s settled then, we can draw,” she stood up, asking if I had any pencils and paper.

 

Getting up on my shaky legs was a bit of a struggle, but I ignored it and grabbed my notebook and pencils. I don’t have a pencil sharpener anymore.

 

“Have you ever drawn with Steve? He’s an amazing artist,” she said as she sat down on my bed, I sat down next to her.

 

As I ripped out a blank page of the notebook for her, I answered, “I did, yeah. It was nice…”

 

Not really sure what to draw I just did some little sketches of the Spider-Man emblem. I couldn’t really tell but it looked like she was drawing a bow and arrows.

 

We just drew for a few minutes, it was nice to be doing something with my hands. And it was nice to have someone here. For someone who honestly I would think would be really judgemental as a spy, she really doesn’t seem like it. I like her presence.

 

I know what she’s doing. She’s trying to distract me…but I don’t mind.

 

Chapter Text

It was while we sat there just drawing that I realized that this isn’t what I want with my life.

 

I don’t want to just distract myself until my next panic attack. I don’t want to just go through the motions hoping I won’t have another breakdown. I don’t want to keep wasting all my time.

 

I need to change something. I’ve said that before and maybe I’ll keep saying it. I need to do something, not soon, right now. I need to do something that will change things.

 

I could see May again. No no that would be stupid. That would probably ruin everything.

 

I could run away. But then I’ll lose everyone, I can't do that.

 

But the premise of running away? Being free and living how I want? Yeah I need to do that, be that.

 

I could talk to Wanda. Yeah, I need to do that.

 

I could be Spider-Man again.

 

Yeah, that that would change things.

But first I should probably talk to Wanda...and to Tony…

 

“Natasha?” She looked up at me expectantly, but patiently, “um…so before I-I ran in here, Wanda wanted to talk to me. I’ve been waiting so so long to talk to her but like, I wasn’t in a good mindset. And I’m still not I guess…but like I do want to talk to her. Do you think it’s too late?”

 

She only took a second to think about it, “I don’t think it’s too late. If you think you’re in a good enough mindset to talk to her then you should go for it.”

 

“Can you…um, would you mind coming with me?” My voice came out sounding so pathetic.

 

“Of course,” she smiled at me, already standing up. If I had her confidence maybe I would be in a better place.

 

 

“He didn’t want me,” Tony buried his head in his hands.

 

Pepper put a hand on her fiancés back, “he needs his space.”

 

A bitter laugh fell from Tony’s lips, “he didn’t need space from Natasha, who he doesn’t even know.”

 

“You said he told you that he needed someone he doesn’t know,” Pepper reasoned, “It kind of makes sense. He doesn’t want to disappoint you, he can’t disappoint someone he doesn’t know.”

 

“Him panicking doesn’t disappoint me,” his voice completely serious.

 

“Does Peter know that?” Pepper retorted.

 

Tony’s quick remark swiftly died out when he actually thought about the answer. Does Peter actually know that?

 

 

After asking Friday where Wanda is, we walked back to the common room we originally saw her at. She didn’t leave.

 

Upon seeing me she immediately started apologizing, “Peter I am so sorry I just-” but I didn’t let her finish.

 

“It’s not your fault, it’s mine. I shouldn’t have ran out like that I’m sorry. Do you still want to talk?”

 

It looked as if a small weight left her shoulders, “yes, I would love to talk.”

 

With that we sat down on the couch. Natasha made eye contact with me, a silent question, I nodded and with that she left me and Wanda to talk.

 

She started, “I know it’s been a while and a lot has happened, but… I don’t want to lose our friendship. I know I’ve made mistakes and I really am sorry, I hope you can forgive me one day.”

 

“Forgive…?” It took me a second. “There’s nothing I have to forgive you for.”

 

I mean, there’s really not. Yeah I figured that she may have done something with my mind but it’s not like I actually know. I need to give her benefit of the doubt, right?

 

Instead of relieved she only seemed to grow more worried.

 

“Peter…” she took a deep breath, “do you remember around the time we went to the city together?”

 

“I remember…I had a panic attack at the shawarma place.” I don’t want to remember that.

 

“You had passed out. While you were unconscious…Tony had me… I went into your mind.”

 

For a moment, everything stopped. This feels like it was so long, but I remember my pain and anger so clearly. I thought he was acting like May.

 

I couldn’t find any words for her.

 

I knew that, well at least I thought I knew that he wanted her to go into my mind, but she really did it. She did it without my permission, she went in while I was unconscious. That-that’s a violation of my privacy! No, it’s my mind, part of me, that’s a violation of me!

 

“Peter?”

 

But, she said that ‘Tony had her’, he’s the one that wanted us to be friends, he pushed for it. He’s the one that said he would protect me, he’s the one that said he was there for me. He’s not supposed to be like May.

 

“Did you want to do it?” Did Tony make you?

 

“No, not without your permission,” she looked heartbroken. But so am I.

 

Tony is the only one who could have gotten her to do it, he’s the only one who has any say in my rights.

 

Isn’t this like May? I know I shouldn’t compare them, they aren’t the same people, but that’s the experience I have. She would have gone into my mind, she would have without asking. But they didn’t get my permission, they didn’t get my consent.

 

“Tony had you do it?” I need to know.

 

She stayed silent. I knew the answer.

 

He…why would he do that?

 

Do I even have the right to be upset? I already was upset about this when it happened, I didn’t know for sure but I had a pretty good idea. This was a little while ago, shouldn’t I just accept it? I mean, he hasn’t done anything like it again, but would he?

 

“I need to talk to Tony,” I stood up and already started going towards the door.

 

“Peter wait,” she called out, “it was my choice. I chose to do it, it’s my fault.”

 

Then a new question formed in my head, “what did you see?”

 

“Peter-” she started, but I turned back around.

 

“It’s my head, I want to know what you saw,” I normally would never be so demanding.

 

She took a deep breath, her eyes beginning to grow distant, my snake held tighter.

 

“A lot of blood,” was what she started with, “there was a…a big snake coiling around everything.”

 

But I knew there was more, I waited for her to continue. I sat down next to her again.

 

“Graves. With names etched in,” she breathed out.

 

My own breath caught in my throat, “who’s names?”

 

“Peter-” she tried again.

 

“Whose names?” It would have sounded more demanding if my voice didn’t crack.

 

“Your aunt and uncle…and Tony,” she finally revealed.

 

“Was there anything else,” I whispered.

 

“There was a ferry horn that kept ringing. And a lot of voices, some screaming and some whispering. At the end white balloons floated around before blood filled everything,” she looked past exhausted by the time she finished recalling it all.

 

She saw it all…

 

With how haunted she looks…there’s no way she would ever come back in my mind. At least, I don’t think she would.

 

Does she know what it all means?

 

I thought she was done but she spoke again, “he wanted to know why you had that panic attack.”

 

I nodded.

 

There wasn’t as much anger left in me for the moment, just the drained feeling.

 

“Did you two get what you wanted?” I managed to ask, not meeting her eye.

 

“I don’t know,” she seemed honest, her eyes were still distant though.

 

I-I still need to apologize to Tony though.

 

“Thank you for telling me,” neither of us expected me to say that.

 

That caught her attention, “why are you thanking me?”

 

“At least I know for sure now,” I shrugged. “I have one last question though. Did you ever tell Tony what you saw?”

 

“Not very much,” I couldn't tell what emotions she was feeling at that.

 

“I’m going to go talk to Tony. I won’t blame you, and I’ll try to make sure he won’t either,” I tried to assure her before I walked out of the room.

 

 

As soon as I saw him all remnants of the anger I had just melted into regret.

 

“Dad,” he looked at me, a soft but pained smile on his face. With that I just ran forward and wrapped my arms around him, hoping with everything in me that he would hug me back. And he did, his strong arms wrapped around me and held me tight. “I’m sorry,” I tried hard to not choke on my words, “I’m so sorry.”

 

About everything.

 

Without loosening his hold on me he responded, “Pete, how about we make a new rule?” It wasn’t really a question, “no more apologizing.”

 

“Wait what?” I still stayed in the hug but moved my head to look at him. How can I just not apologize?

 

“Kid, you apologize about everything, and I know it’s because you really are sorry but you don’t need to be.” I couldn't find it in me to argue him at the moment. “And kid…I am not ever, and will never be disappointed in you for panicking about something, okay.”

 

I nodded.

 

I need to just say it’ll or I never will , “Dad, I want to be Spider-Man again.”

 

Chapter Text

That was when I realized how abrupt I was. I quickly pulled back from the hug and tried to fix it, “I know we kinda talked about it before, but then I just brushed it off again. You said we could talk through it but we never really did, and I miss being Spider-Man and being helpful and having a purpose.”

 

“Kid you do know you have a purpose outside of Spider-Man, right?” That’s what he chose to respond to.

 

“Yeah I know,” no I don’t. What other purpose could I possibly have? “So would we maybe be able to talk about being Spider-Man again?”

 

He just looked at me for a second, looking for something but I don’t know what, “sure, Underoos. Do you wanna talk about it right now?”

 

“If we can?” I’m pushing him I really don’t mean to push but this is important and I don’t want to just brush it off again.

 

With that he sat down on the nearest couch and I followed suit.

 

“It’s not going to be the same as with May, okay? Since I actually know what you’re doing out there, there needs to be some ground rules,” he was completely serious when he said it.

 

“Like what?” I can’t help but feel like he’s taking away the freedom of Spider-Man.

 

By now not only have I gotten better at seeing his emotions but he’s also taken down some of his walls. I could see the care and worry and pride and…and I want to say love, when he looks at me. But I’m probably wrong.

 

“If anything happens, whether it be you…you get hurt or you need help, anything, call me,” the amount of worry in him was more than I ever thought I’d see, “You can’t just say your fine and move on, if you need help I will come.”

 

“Okay,” I know it’s a bad response but I don’t know what else to say.

 

“I know when you were with May I tried to make sure you had a curfew, but I also know you didn't follow it,” I felt my cheeks blush red, he chuckled a bit before continuing, serious again, “but now you’ll have a definite curfew. You need to get your sleep, and I know I’m not good with getting sleep myself, but that’s not a habit I want you to get.”

 

But it’s better if I don't sleep. I can’t have nightmares if I don’t sleep.

 

“Anything else?” I asked.

 

“Well not at the top of my head, but we do need to figure out now how this will actually work since we’re Upstate.”

 

“Yeah, that’s true.” I have no idea how that’ll work…

 

He sighed, “well, after the whole incident with…during homecoming, I didn’t end up selling the tower,” he took another deep breath, “If you wanted, we would be able to stay there.”

 

By the look of his face I knew that going back to that tower, his old home, was the last thing he wanted.

 

If we went back though, I would be able to go back to school. I haven’t been to school since the stuff with May went down, I don’t even know if I would be able to catch up if I went back. Tony told me before not to worry about it, but like I can’t just never go to school again.

 

Ned is there…

 

I’ve successfully avoided talking about Ned for months now. He was my best friend. And I ruined it.

 

He found out that I cut. I didn’t mean for it to happen, I never wanted him to know, to have that weight. One time, I cut a bit deeper than usual but still the same quantity. It hurt. Walking hurt, showering hurt, my clothes rubbing against them hurt.

 

I had been at his house, we were doing homework together when I got up to go to the bathroom. While I was walking back I hit my hip on the kitchen table, which was were Ned had been sitting. I let out a yelp of pain to which Ned jumped up and ran over to see if I was okay. I tried to play it off, saying it was an injury I got while being Spider-Man but that only worried him more. I know he just wanted to help.

 

He offered to help bandage me up, he asked what happened and how it happened. It was too many questions and I couldn’t come up with so many convincing lies on the spot. I tried to get him to back off, saying it was nothing, but he knew me better than that. He knew something was seriously wrong.

 

Well I guess he knew that for a little while, he was the one person to be able to see through my mask of ‘I’m fine’. He had approached me multiple times asking what was wrong, saying he was there for me, that I could tell him anything. But I knew if I told him he would leave. Everyone leaves. That’s just how this works.

 

I didn’t know a good lie to explain why my thigh and hip hurt so badly. I floundered and that only escalated his worry.

 

That was when he seemed to realize what actually happened. His voice was so careful, so heartbroken when he asked if I did it to myself. No one had ever asked me so straightforward before, well no one had asked at all. That was before I let it slip to my counselor and he told May.

 

I didn’t know how to lie about it. I had lied about so many injuries being Spider-Man, but I couldn’t come up with a lie for my self-harm. I tried to answer, to come up with something, anything, but I didn’t have the words. But I guess that was answer enough.

 

I’m so stupid.

 

He quickly ran forward and pulled me into a tight hug, I heard him sniffle. I made him cry. That was when I realized just how bad this was, I made Ned cry. I pulled back and stepped away from him. I told, or rather begged, for him not to tell anyone as tears dripped from my own eyes. Then I mumbled something about needing to go, and with that I ran out of his house. I didn’t bother to grab my homework or even my backpack, I didn’t care enough.

 

He tried to run after me, he tried to stop me, but he just wasn’t fast enough. Even with my thigh on fire I didn’t stop running until I was at May’s apartment.

 

I never stopped running.

 

He called me, I ignored it. He texted me, I didn’t open it. He called again, I let it go to voicemail. I never listened to the voicemails. I know he must hate me, I put that insufferable weight on him then just ran away. I blocked his number that night, I didn’t even know how I could talk to him.

 

I’m so cruel.

 

At school he tried to talk to me but I brushed it off. I had to work harder than ever to keep up my mask, to seem okay. I deflected all his questions and came up with excuses to get out of really talking to him. I didn’t want to hurt him, god no I never wanted to hurt him, but I knew in the long run it would help him. Because if I ended it then he wouldn’t have to carry my weight anymore, then I couldn’t hurt him any further. I didn’t want to hurt him at all but it was necessary to help him later. To help him now.

 

Like when you break a bone and it heals wrong, you need to break it again to make it heal correctly. I had to break it so that he would be better later.

 

It took weeks before he left me alone. I don’t even want to go into the amount of panic attacks I had over this whole ordeal. I had to come up with lies to May and to Happy, to May about why I wasn’t spending time with Ned, and to Happy why I wasn’t talking about him.

 

He left.

 

I waited everyday for someone to approach me about the self-harm, for Ned to tell someone. He never did. I don’t blame him in any way, it’s what I asked. I’m sure he was scared, he was in way over his head. He didn’t deserve it. He never deserved what I did to him, the pain I caused him.

 

I punished myself for it. For being stupid. For letting Ned find out. But most of all, for hurting him. I wanted him to stay. I almost thought he would, but I don’t blame him for leaving. Well I guess, I left him first. Yeah, I did, I left him. It was to protect him, it was necessary. If the only way to help him is to leave then I’ll do it. And I did.

 

After a while it seemed like life moved on. But I didn’t. Maybe I should have. I still think about him all the time. I still need to punish myself for hurting him. That’s not something I can just do once and think it’s enough. It’s only fair.

 

I need to punish myself. It’s overdue. It’s how I learn.

 

I didn’t realize just how much time had passed during my whole flashback thing, whatever that was. It was only when Tony touched me, putting his hand on my arm, that was when I flinched back to reality. Well, the present reality.

 

After trying to remember what we were talking about I answered, “No, we don’t need to go back to the tower.”

 

I can’t go back there.

 

Though relief seemed to fill him, for both me seeming okay, at least I hope so, and for my answer, he still asked, “are you sure?”

 

“Yeah, I’m sure.”

 

I need to get away, I need to cut. It’s been too long and I need to, I deserve to.

 

But Friday will tell Tony. Well, I bet I can find a way to work around it, I need to.

 

“Kid, what’s going on? You keep spacing out.” How am I this stupid?

 

“I’m fine,” it’s such an automatic response, but it was the wrong one.

 

“Peter, we really need new responses to that, ‘I’m fine’ doesn’t work anymore,” I know he didn’t mean to but that only made my heartbeat quicken, “You can tell me anything,” he sounded so sincere. But he’s just wrong.

 

How am I supposed to tell him that I need to cut to punish myself? He would never understand…

 

“I’m just tired,” again just an automatic response.

 

He still didn’t seem convinced, “why don’t you go rest then.”

 

“Okay.” This is my chance. I need to do it. If I don’t do it now I may never.

 

I had to actively try to walk at a normal pace, I just need to get it over with. Once I made it to my room I quickly grabbed the blade I still have. It was then that I realized that I really don’t know what kind of protocols Tony has set up.

 

“Friday, I’m going to go for a walk. I need some fresh air,” I hope my voice sounded normal. Maybe Friday can’t watch me if I’m outside, or at least maybe I’ll have more time.

 

“I need to inform Boss of your departure,” she responded.

 

I held the blade tighter, “it’s okay Fri, I’ll be back soon, I’m just tired of being stuck in here so long.”

 

There was a pause, it was like she was thinking, “I will inform Boss in ten minutes.” How did that even work?

 

It’ll be enough time I think. I hope.

 

I made my way outside and just ran. I ran into the woods to make sure there was no chance Friday could see what I’m doing and tell Tony. I can’t let him find out.

 

I ran until I couldn’t see the compound anymore, with that I collapsed against a tree.

 

The blade is so familiar in my hand. I know its edges and curves, I know how it feels.

 

Just to keep up with my old routine, I dragged the blade over my left wrist. Light enough so that it doesn’t pierce the skin, but hard enough that I know I can if I wanted to. I want to, but that’s too risky to hide.

 

I just need to do it, or I never will.

 

I forgot to bring bandaids. It’ll be fine, it’s not like I ever go too deep. Quantity over depth.

 

I figured I had some time, so I pulled down my pants just enough to see my thigh, to see my scars. They’re mostly faded by now. I don’t want them to fade. They’re a constant.

 

I did the first one quick. It wasn’t deep enough. I waited a moment but it didn’t bleed. I tried again, over the same spot, a bit harder. I saw blood but it didn’t drip out. I tried again.

 

Again and again and again and again and again.

 

It only made my breathing increase more rapidly and my chest tighten even more when my leg wouldn’t just bleed already. That’s all I need, for it to bleed. It doesn’t need to be a lot but enough to see it. To see that it’s real, that I’m real. To see my pain manifest itself physically.

 

It hurts, but that’s the point. It doesn’t even hurt as much as I thought it would, that realization only upset me further. I deserve the pain. I deserve it all.

 

I kept going, overlapping them, trying to go deeper with each quick swipe across my leg but they still refused to bleed. I saw them open, I saw the blood in them, but it wouldn’t drip out. I just want the blood.

 

Ned wouldn’t want this.

 

But it’s not for him, not necessarily, it’s for me. It’s punishment. I deserve the pain.

 

I know I’ve felt physical pain much much worse than this, but for some reason it felt too much. I had to take a few moments to compose myself before cutting again. I had to do that multiple times. Every time I stopped, I told myself that I need to, that I deserve it. And it worked, I kept going. And going.

 

I must have gotten around forty cuts when I realized that only one was bleeding, yet even that one was barely letting loose any blood.

 

The problem is not that I don’t have coping skills, it’s that I don’t care to use them. It’s that there are no other good ways to punish myself. I need to be punished. I need to be able to press my hand against my thigh and feel the burn to remind myself to be more careful. I need to be able to see the blood and know that I deserve it.

 

Usually cutting helps me level out, forces me into that strange numb state unlike anything else. Not this time. Not this time.

 

Every cut only seemed to make me panic more. It was only when I was shaking so much that I couldn’t hold the blade right that I had to stop. I almost wanted to stop with how much panic was choking me.

 

I pushed myself into a panic attack.

 

But I deserve this too.

 

I pulled my pants back up to hide what I just did, the cuts burned against the cloth rubbing against them. I relished in the burning, but it didn’t calm me down. It only seemed to make my chest tighten unbearably more. My breaths refused to be even. That’s when the tears came. I used to cut sometimes to keep me from crying, now it’s doing the opposite.

 

That was when I heard the thrusters. That was when I knew just how much I screwed this up.

 

I quickly shoved the blade into my pocket, wiped my tears away, and forced myself to take a deep breath. It’s so natural to pretend to be okay.

 

But Tony doesn’t want me to pretend…he would be so disappointed though. I don’t want him to be disappointed. I can’t tell him. I can’t tell anyone.

 

It’ll be like before. No one needs to know.

 

It took him only a few minutes to find me, maybe he thought it would take longer. The look of rage on his face was enough to make me want to run away and never come back. I deserve this though.

 

I stood up as he got out of his suit.

 

It was some angry curses that left his mouth before he could make a complete sentence, “what-why-” he had to stop to try to compose himself better, “why did you decide to just leave the compound and run to the woods?!” But it still came out in a shout. I felt the tears press against my eyes, I pushed them back.

 

Before I could even try to answer he kept yelling, I tried to back up but my back was already against the tree, “Do you understand how utterly terrified I was to find out that you left?! That you convinced Friday to just let you leave?! Do you understand how scared I was?” His shouting was starting to quiet, “do you realize the last time you ran off like this was the day…I thought you were trying to leave again.”

 

He thought I was going to attempt again. I didn’t think about that.

 

I didn’t understand. I didn’t think about how this would affect him. I hurt him again.

 

It took a lot of will to not press my hand against my cuts.

 

I didn’t know the words to say. I don’t think there are words to fix it. Maybe it would have been better if he was right.

 

“I thought I lost you,” I’m not sure if I’ve heard him more broken. I did that. I deserve every ounce of pain I just inflicted myself and so so much more.

 

It took all that was left of my strength to not cry right there.

 

There is no apology that could suffice for this. There is nothing I can say to fix it. I broke his trust. Just that sentence alone made me want to…do bad things.

 

In that moment I wanted nothing more than for him to hold and hug me and tell me he’s here and that he’s not leaving and that it’ll be okay that he’ll be with me through this. But I don’t deserve that.

 

“Do you have anything to say?” I’m not sure if there was more hurt or anger in his voice. I don’t think there is anything I can say.

 

That was when I had no strength left. That was when I broke.

 

It started with a small choking noise, I quickly tried to cover my mouth. The tears slipped down my face blinding me with blurriness. I tried to take a breath in but the oxygen wouldn’t come.

 

I felt him try to wrap his arms around me, but I flinched back.

 

A weak “no…” was all I was able to whimper as I tried to back away from him. Though every fiber of my being knows I need him, I need his comfort, I need his love, but that I don’t deserve it.

 

In a pathetic sob I couldn't get any air in at all. All I did was cry out, tears and snot dripping off my face into the grass. My next attempt to breathe was about the same efficiency as hyperventilating, just a quick gasp for air, but another long sob took over before more air could come in. There was just no possible way for me to force myself to stop crying. With how much cutting failed to level me out just minutes before, even if I could cut again it wouldn’t help.

 

I didn’t mean to break down in front of him. If anything, he’s the one that should be breaking down, not me. I’m the one that hurt him and I can’t even stay somewhat composed.

 

I couldn’t even see him with all my tears blocking my sight. I couldn’t hear him over my gross sobs. More tears and snot poured down my face and even in my panic I was still disgusted with myself.

 

I began to wonder if he was still there as I cried, I couldn’t blame him if he left.

 

Sometimes when I cry too hard I throw up. That’s what happened. I couldn’t remember when I last got a sufficient amount of oxygen in and then the nausea hit. I didn’t have any strength to stop it. As my food came up my knees gave out. I felt him wrap his arms around me again, sitting down with me next to the mess I just created. He made sure I didn’t fall into it. I didn’t have enough strength or air to try to tell him ‘no’ again, let alone push him away.

 

He held me in his lap as I just sobbed. Loud, gross sobs. He held me close, I could feel his chest rising and falling but I still couldn’t breathe. I thought I felt something drip on my head.

 

I made him cry too.

 

I knew I should pull away, end his torture, but I physically couldn’t. I felt another round of nausea hit me and that gave me enough adrenaline to pull away from him enough to not get sick on him. He ran his hand up and down my back as I let out what was left of the food in me. As soon as I was done he pulled me back to his chest.

 

I don’t understand why he’s staying. I don’t deserve this. I deserve to be left. I deserve pain and more pain. I don’t understand.

 

He held me through every loud sob, his strong arms never faltering. Even as he cried softly he kept his breaths even enough for me to try to follow. He’s just strong like that.

 

With the way I was curled up against him my cuts were being pressed against and they burned. I tried to focus on the pain to calm myself but it didn’t work. It only seemed to make matters worse. It’s not a constant anymore…

 

I think he could tell I was in physical discomfort, and not just because I spewed my guts out a few minutes prior.

 

He tried to talk to me but I couldn’t even make sense of his words, let alone calm down enough to respond. He knows what I did.

 

He wasn’t supposed to know. This was supposed to be like before, no one finds out, it’s my secret. It’s supposed to be my burden to bare. He doesn’t need it, he doesn’t deserve it. He doesn’t deserve any of this. He never did.

 

I guess it was my utter exhaustion that finally got me to stop crying, and with my crying slowed to a stop, breathing became a bit easier. I tried to follow his, now, exaggerated breaths to force mine to even out.

 

I’m still a mess though.

 

But he didn’t let me go, he just shifted us further away from where I vomited. Even with my tears stopped and my breaths deeper he still held me.

 

He spoke then, “Peter…please tell me what’s going on.” There was no more anger in his voice, but still just as much pain and heartbreak. Maybe even more.

 

“I’m sorry,” was the first thing out of my mouth. My voice came out so weak and small with how completely exhausted I am.

 

“Kid-” he tried but I cut him off.

 

“I’m so so sorry,” if I hadn’t just run out of tears I would have started crying again. “I didn’t mean for it to be like this.” I never mean for it to be like this.

 

“You can’t control panic attacks,” he tried to reason.

 

I frantically shook my head ‘no’, “I pushed myself into it, it’s my fault.”

 

It’s all my fault.

 

I think I make progress, they say I do, but then comes days like this. Days were I cut again, I relapsed. I was clean for a while and I just threw that all away. Days were I have another panic attack. Days were I show everyone that I’m still that same weak, broken kid that jumped off a bridge.

 

Then the realization hit me, “you can’t adopt me.”

 

There were so many emotions that crossed his face, so much shock and pain and hurt and…and I’m not sure what else.

 

“You need to leave me,” I need him to understand, “I hurt you. I keep hurting you. This will be better for you, you can’t adopt me.”

 

“Peter-” that, that is the most heartbroken I’ve ever heard his voice. He couldn’t find anymore words.

 

Again I frantically shook my head, he doesn’t get it, “no, no you don’t understand. I’m trying to help you,” my breathing increased with each sentence, “I keep hurting you. I’m not getting better. I can’t get better. I can’t keep hurting you. I’m trying to help.”

 

I didn’t mean to start hyperventilating.

 

“Shh,” he hushed me, pulling me against his chest again, taking more exaggerated breaths, “I’m here.” But you shouldn’t be.

 

“Why?” I choked out.

 

He didn’t need any time to think about the answer, “because I love you, Peter.”

 

He let the words sink in before he continued, “I’m staying because I love you. I’m adopting you because I love you. And you can not and will not ever be able to convince me to leave you. Do you still want me to adopt you?”

 

“I don’t want to hurt you,” my weak voice responded.

 

“That wasn’t the question,” I don’t understand how he still has patience for me.

 

“...yes…” I want with every fiber of my being to be his son. But I care more about not hurting him, I can’t keep hurting him.

 

I sniffed and somehow managed to sit closer against him, to soak in all the comfort I can. He kept his arms wrapped around my body.

 

I could feel that with my answer, he breathed a little easier.

 

We stayed there, me curled up against him as he held me, for a few more minutes before he spoke again.

 

“I’m sorry I yelled at you,” I could tell he wasn’t finished so I just listened, “I was so scared, so scared, to lose you. I was terrified and when I saw you here, my fear came out as anger. I shouldn’t have yelled at you.”

 

“It’s okay.” I deserved it.

 

It’s like he read my thoughts, “You don’t deserve for me to yell at you.”

 

I don’t know how to respond to that.

 

But I thought of a question, “are you disappointed in me?”

 

“I already told you Pete, I’ll never be disappointed in you for having a panic attack.”

 

“But what about…?” I couldn't get myself to say it but I know he knows.

 

He sighed, he’s disappointed, “I’m not disappointed in you for cutting again.” I knew he figured it out. I couldn't detect any lie in his voice, it doesn't make sense. “But I need to have Friday scan you when we go back to the compound.”

 

Will he make me take my clothes off? If Friday says I’m fine can I not?

 

I didn’t mean to hold onto him tighter and let out a whimper as he shifted to stand up. He hugged me close one more time before saying it was time to get up. He helped me stand, my legs still shaky. I didn’t question him as he got into his suit and picked me up, one arm under my knees the other around my back. It was a very quick flight to get back to the compound as I had not ran too far away. Immediately upon arriving he had me sit down and told Friday to scan me.”

 

“There are several lacerations on his thigh, but none need stitches. A large band aid will suffice,” she concluded. But my chest still stayed tight as I waited to see what Tony would do.

 

He turned to me, “kid, if I give you a bandaid do you promise to put it on your leg?”

 

I nodded, the amount of relief flooding over me was kind of sad. He went into the closest bathroom and found a bandage in a first aid kit, he handed it to me before exiting the bathroom and letting me do it myself. When I pulled down my pants again I really took in the damage I did. By then the cuts had really set it, each one a dark red, there were a few spots of blood but really not a lot. I had to refrain from running my fingers over them. First I used a tissue to wipe away the blood before I quickly placed the bandaid, pulled up my pants, and exited the bathroom. He was right there when I came out.

 

He hugged me again. It felt safe. When he pulled away he still kept an arm around me and led me back to my room.

 

“Do you want me to stay with you until you fall asleep?” I immediately answered ‘yes’ not caring at the moment how desperate I sound for him to stay.

 

We walked to my bed, I waited for him to settle himself and I laid down next to where he sat, my head in his lap. For the moment, I didn’t care how clingy I seemed, I just wanted to soak in all the comfort he was willing to give.

 

Again, we fell into a silence. But it was comfortable, us taking in each other’s presence.

 

He broke the silence again, “Peter…” he took another second to make sure he was wording his sentence correctly, “can I ask why you cut today?”

 

The answer was easy, “to punish myself.”

 

His breath caught in his throat.

 

“Why do you need to punish yourself,” he managed to ask. Why wouldn’t I need to?

 

How am I even supposed to answer that? I’ve avoided these topics for a reason.

 

“So that I stop hurting people,” I finally answered. But it wasn’t a good answer as that only seemed to upset him more.

 

“Who are you hurting?” His voice was softer now.

 

“Everyone,” he waited for me to continue, “you, May, Bucky, Steve, Happy, Wanda, Pepper, Natasha, Ned-” am I really that stupid that I actually listed his name?

 

“Ned? What-”

 

“Nothing!” Wow can I be any more suspicious. “Can we just…can we please not talk about it now?”

 

He stopped and looked at me, “okay. We’ll talk about it later.” I think the only reason he let it drop is because he knows how completely exhausting, mentally, emotionally, and physically, it is to have a panic attack.

 

With that he let me rest. It wasn’t long before I fell asleep.

 

 

Chapter Text

I didn’t sleep well but I didn’t expect to. I wish I did. I felt myself wake up before I actually opened my eyes, it was while I was just laying there that I realized there was another presence in the bed next to me. Immediately I tensed, it took all my willpower not to jump up and get away from whoever was there. But I knew it would be better to pretend to sleep and give myself time to figure out what’s happening rather than act rash.

 

Then it hit me. Tony stayed.

 

He said he would stay until I fell asleep, I guess he fell asleep too. But he actually stayed.

 

He shouldn’t have though. He shouldn’t have needed to stay, it’s my fault.

 

I know I should just be happy that he’s here with me, but I can’t help but hate why he’s here. It’s not that I don’t want him here, I don’t want him to feel that he needs to be here or I’ll die if he’s gone. I want him to be here because he wants to be, not out of obligation or guilt.

 

I gave him a way out yesterday. I gave him an out and he didn’t take it, he said he still wants me. I-I don’t understand. How could he want me?

 

Part of me just wants to pretend that none of that really happened. To be sure, I slowly reached my hand down and ran my fingers over my thigh. Through my pants I could feel the bandaid underneath.

 

It’s real. It really happened. I actually relapsed. And had a panic attack. And I told Tony not to adopt me. In one day I ruined everything. Less than a day, in a few hours I threw away everything. Not just my clean streak, but being Spider-Man-there’s no way he’ll let me be Spider-Man now-and I destroyed Tony’s trust.

 

I broke his trust.

 

Once again that thought makes me want to…nevermind.

 

He thought I was going to kill myself. I didn’t, I cut. Again. If I was with May still and she found out, she…oh god that would be the worst thing that could happen. She would cry and be so so mad and she would make me take my clothes off again and-

 

Wait. Will Tony make me take my clothes off to check me? He didn’t yesterday but he still could. I ruined this too. Here, Upstate, this is supposed to be my safe place. And I ruined it.

 

I quickly covered my mouth to make sure I didn’t make any noise. Thankfully I actually succeeded in making myself quiet. I can’t wake up Tony. But I couldn’t keep myself from shaking.

 

I felt Tony shift in bed, forced myself as best I could to stop moving, to not even breathe. I felt him wrap an arm around me. I wanted nothing more than to just relish in his comfort but I can’t. I can’t wake him up, I can’t let him hear me, I need to just stop. I know how I can make myself stop…

 

Yesterday it didn’t work though. It only made me panic more. I can’t risk giving myself another panic attack.

 

So I just layed there, my hand still clasped over my mouth.

 

I guess it didn’t work. I felt the bed shift again, and heard a groan. I woke him up.

 

I tried to discreetly move my hand away from my mouth, pretending to sleep. If he asks, I can say I had a nightmare again…

 

I heard him move a bit before I felt his hand in my hair, him running his fingers through. It felt nice. Even now, I could feel a bit of the tenseness leaving my body. I’m just glad I got myself to stop shaking before he noticed.

 

I think he thought I was asleep, at least I hoped so, so I just layed there not wanting the moment to end. But I know eventually I’ll need to get up and we’ll have to talk…

 

I let it slip about Ned. He knows now, at least he knows something happened. I screwed it up again. As always.

 

The moment just can’t last, if he hasn’t figured it out already I need to ‘wake up’. I shifted a bit, and rolled over to face him. I need to just face him.

 

I opened my eyes to see him…smiling? He had a soft smile on his face, he reached forward and brushed back the hair on my face.

 

“Hey Pete,” he murmured as I closed my eyes again, taking in his comfort one last time. I don’t know what will happen next. “You want breakfast?”

 

I shrugged, already knowing it would not end well if I tried to eat, but I can’t just disappoint him again.

 

I don’t understand why he’s so calm and being so nice. I don’t deserve it, I scared him half to death yesterday. I don’t understand.

 

“Okay kid, how about I make some pancakes while you get ready for the day?” He sat up as he spoke, already getting ready to get up. I just hummed in response, not really a yes, but not a no either. I’m not ready to speak yet.

 

I felt the bed shift and I heard him walk across the room. He paused for a second before he exited. I listened as far a I could, hearing him go to his own room to get ready. With that I sat up.

 

 

Upon walking into his room Tony sat down at the nearest chair, putting his head into his hands. He took a moment just to breathe to try to calm his nerves.

 

“Boss, your blood pressure is elevated, would you like me to contact Doctor Banner?” Friday asked.

 

“No, no I’m fine,” he responded tiredly. Crazy how the phrase he’s trying to get Peter to stop saying is his excuse too. That was when he decided to just get up and be productive. He did say he would make Peter breakfast afterall. Though Tony’s not foolish enough to not know that the kid might not eat it, but just having the option to eat is enough.

 

He took a quick shower, figuring Peter would need some time to collect his thoughts and mentally prepare to talk about the day prior. After getting out and throwing on an old band t-shirt and jeans, he made his way to the kitchen. Peter still wasn't there yet, but that was expected.

 

Though Tony is not known to be the best cook, he still tries. Often the team jokes that he’ll burn the compound down, but no one will say no to some home cooked food. It does help though that he’s been cooking more often for Peter.

 

The batter was quick and before he knew it he had the pancakes on the pan. Still no Peter.

 

He took those quiet moments to collect his own thoughts. So so much happened the day before, so much was said. Just the thought of everything that went down made his heart skip a beat.

 

Finally letting everything hit him he needed to stop for a moment, he quickly gripped the countertop to physically ground himself, “god…” he muttered. He took a few deep breaths in, forcing himself to try to calm down, “god, how am I going to do this?”

 

He glanced up, just to be sure Peter didn’t happen to be standing there as he tried to fight off his own panic. Still no Peter.

 

After he felt his heartbeat fall to a more healthy pace he continued the pancakes, taking off the ones that got slightly burnt in that moment of panic, replacing them with fresh batter.

 

Once taking those off the pan he told Friday, “Fri, tell Peter there’s pancakes ready.” He didn’t mean to rush the kid, but he also knew the longer they drew it out the more panicked they both will be.

 

It was a few more minutes before Peter shuffled down the hall freshly showered, yet still looking just as exhausted as the day before. Tony flipped the pancakes and greeted his kid, “Hey Pete.”

 

“Hi,” he yawned, sitting down on barstool at the counter. “Did you sleep okay?”

 

Of course the kid be concerned about Tony, after everything.

 

“Yeah I slept well. Did you?” He tried hard to keep his voice casual, though knowing they both were filled with the anticipation and fear of the inevitable conversation to come.

 

He nodded, watching his dad make the food. Neither knew what else to say, so Tony took off that batch and handed the kid a plate. He didn’t say anything when Peter only took one pancake. Once he sat down next to him Peter started to cut up his food. Tony also took one pancake to match the kid, hoping that would help him not feel so bad about eating less.

 

Tony didn’t say anything when his kid just shifted the food around the plate rather than taking a bite. He didn’t blame him.

 

 

God god god I’m so stupid he’s probably pissed at me god…

 

I didn’t even try to retort my screaming thoughts, knowing they’re right.

 

He’s gonna get rid of me. I straight up told him to get rid of me! I’m so so stupid…but this, this is best right? He-now he can stop being hurt by me.

 

But I’ll still be hurt…

 

Better than him though. It’s better for me to be the one hurt, not him. Not him. Never him.

 

I didn’t dare take a bite of breakfast, knowing it would only make me feel more sick. Guilt didn’t grip me any less though.

 

I need to just say something, I can’t just sit here waiting any longer.

 

“I’m sorry,” I know I’m not supposed to apologize but I am so so sorry.

 

“Kid,” he sighed.

 

“I know, I know. I’m sor-” I snapped my mouth shut before I could disobey him twice in ten seconds. “Yesterday…yesterday was a mess, it shouldn’t have happened.”

 

I placed my fork down, knowing if I kept holding it I would probably accidentally snap it in half.

 

“I’m not mad.” I don’t understand.

 

“I am,” my voice cracked. “I’m mad at me, no no I’m pissed, I screwed everything up again.”

 

I didn’t realize what was happening when Tony reached forward and grabbed my hand. It was only then I noticed that I was scratching my wrist, pretty deep too.

 

“I didn’t mean to,” I whispered. God I swear I didn’t mean to do that, not in front of Tony. It’s so natural I didn’t notice I didn’t mean to I didn’t.

 

“Hey,” his voice was shockingly calm, “Hey, I’m here. I’m not leaving, and I’m not getting rid of you. Pete, look at me,” he waited until I made eye contact, though I quickly looked back down he continued, “I’m not mad at you. I’m not disappointed. I just want to talk about what happened.”

 

“I’m sorry…” I can’t help it.

 

“I know,” he pulled me into a hug. He mumbled something about moving to the couch, and with that he sat us there so it would be more comfortable.

 

I’m so pathetic. I can’t get through one conversation without needing him to comfort me,  what is wrong with me?

 

“You okay to keep talking?” He asked once my breathing evened out. I nodded into his chest. He didn’t let me go. “Yesterday…a lot happened.” That’s one way to put it. “Before you fell asleep you mentioned Ned. You haven’t talked about him in a long time, I think since before everything happened. Yet you said you’re hurting him?”

 

Even though I knew he would ask I still wasn’t prepared.

 

“Yeah…” I mumbled, trying to come up with a real answer. Can I just tell him the truth? I don’t want to make him more upset or disappointed.

 

I’ve disappointed him so much already though…

 

“What happened with him?” His voice was almost careful, like he didn't want to set me off again. I want to say that he doesn’t need to be so hesitant but with how often I cry he’s probably right.

 

“I screwed it up,” I answered simply, knowing it was vague, but I just can’t figure out how to word it. How can I just say that Ned found out and I begged him to stay quiet then ran away? That I put so so much weight on him then just ran? How am I supposed to tell Tony that I shoved away my best friend to protect him from me hurting him?

 

That’s what I was trying to do yesterday. I told Tony not to adopt me in order to protect him.

 

I continued, “I needed to protect him, so I pushed him away. I put him at a safe distance.”

 

It only took a second for him too to connect the pieces, “a safe distance from you. Like what you were saying yesterday.” It wasn't a question.

 

“I hurt him.” I’ve accepted that. I’ve accepted that I hurt him. But I’m still so so mad at myself for it. If I wasn’t so stupid-

 

“You keep saying that but I don’t know what you mean. I don’t know what happened, kid,” somehow he still has some patience left for me.

 

“I-he…I let something-something slip and he figured it out…and that was too much. I put too much weight on him. I had to stop putting weight on him, I had to try to take it away,” I tried to explain without sounding completely idiotic and selfish.

 

“You stopped talking with him so that you wouldn’t put more weight on him?” He really is trying to understand.

 

“Yeah,” I waited to see how he would react.

 

He reacted with a question, “isn’t it on Ned to say when it’s too much weight? Isn’t that his responsibility to protect himself?”

 

I shook my head, he still doesn’t understand. “The thing is he wouldn’t say anything. I’m scared that he would say it’s okay but it would be hurting him. He assured me again and again that he was here, that he would listen, that he would stay. I would be stupid to believe him.”

 

“Do you think you’re stupid to believe me?”

 

Yes.

 

“I-I don’t know. I know with Ned, I know how selfless he is. He always put me first. It’s not a good thing. He shouldn’t be selfless. It’s not fair. It hurts him. He can’t just take all my burdens and pretend it’s not weighing him down. He can’t just say he’s okay when eventually he’ll realize just how much I’m hurting him, and he’ll see that it’s not worth it, and he’ll leave,” then I realized another option, “Or he’d stay silent. He would take it all, say he’s okay, and he’d be destroyed. I would destroy him. And he’d just take it. Because that’s the selfless thing to do.”

 

“Do you think you’re being selfless for protecting him?” He’s asking so many questions.

 

“I’m just being a decent human being. I saw that I was hurting him so I stopped.” But now I’m just hurting Tony. I need to stop. I made him cry yesterday and now I’m just putting more weight on him.

 

I made Tony cry.

 

I made Tony Stark cry.

 

That’s just what I do. I ruin everything I touch.

 

“What did Ned do? After you stopped talking to him?” Why won’t he stop asking questions I can’t do this.

 

My voice was quieter this time. “He tried to talk to me several times. It lasted for weeks before he gave up.”

 

Ned has always been a persistent one, and when he really set his mind on something he wouldn’t change it. If I could make someone so determined, someone who cared about me that much, I mean he had to have cared right? No one would stay that long if they didn’t care, right? If I could get someone like that to leave, I can get anyone to leave.

 

“How did you feel after he gave up?” Please stop asking questions.

 

It took me a second before I could find the right answer, “I’m proud of him for putting himself first and moving on.”

 

“Oh kid…” Did I say something wrong? I didn’t, right? I was trying to be so careful so he wouldn’t be even more disappointed in me, but I guess I screwed this up too. “Pete I-” he was cut off by his phone ringing. I didn’t mean to flinch when the phone went off. Normally he ignores it but this time he opened it and read the text.

 

But that’s okay, it’s important. I’m not the priority and I shouldn’t be. That’s not how this is supposed to work. He need to put what’s important first and that’s what he’s doing, it’s good.

 

I sat up as he looked as his phone, but I couldn’t find it in me to actually move away from him.

 

“Peter, this is absolutely an important conversation and we will definitely be continuing it,” he has to go, I should have known this wouldn’t have lasted, “I was going to talk to you about this earlier but clearly that didn’t happen.” Talk about what? “My lawyers found a compromise with May. But I need to clear it with you. It’s completely up to you, if you don't want to or are uncomfortable we can work around it.”

 

I don’t understand, “what compromise?”

 

He took a deep breath, “May said that she will sign custody over to me if she meets with you in person and if you tell her yourself that you want to stay with me.”

 

It took me a moment to organize my thoughts enough to even just come up with a response to that.

 

I don’t want to see her. Absolutely not.

 

But I need to, don’t I? I don’t really have a choice. This is the way to finally get Tony custody so I need to do it.

 

I’ll probably panic but that’s just something I’ll have to deal with I guess.

 

“I need to do it,” I decided.

 

“I knew you’d say that,” I couldn't actually tell what emotion he seemed to be feeling when he said that.

 

“When do I have to see her?” I asked, knowing any time would be too soon.

 

He hesitated, “she said she can meet tomorrow.” I didn't mean for my breath to catch in my throat. “But we can change the time, it doesn’t need to be so soon.” So soon after everything that happened yesterday.

 

“No,” I heard myself say, “I need to get it over with.” If I don't I’ll just have more time to panic and worry, “I need to go tomorrow.”

 

Maybe it was sympathy, or maybe regret in his eyes? “Are you sure?”

 

“Yes.”

 

No.

 

Chapter Text

 

It was while Tony texted back his lawyer my answer that I really took in what I just agreed it. I just agreed to see May again. I just agreed to see May.

 

She probably hates me. I hurt her like that, broke her trust, and just ran off to live with Tony. I made her cry. I made her upset and worried and now she’s willing to give me up. Does this mean she officially gave up on me?

 

I know I want Tony to adopt me, absolutely, and I know it’s selfish but I don’t want her to give up on me. I know it’s too much to ask but I wanted her to sign over custody because she knows that’s best for me, because she cares about what I want, not because I upset her so much she wants me out of her life.

 

My life with her had been…I mean I have no right to say it was bad. I am more blessed than I’ll ever be able to even comprehend. Was it not normal, my life with May before everything? Ignoring the fact that my parents died and my aunt raised me, was it not normal?

 

Is it not normal to be terrified of parental figure? Is it not normal to be constantly worried about upsetting them? Is it not normal to barely be able to handle being in a room alone with them? To have a panic attack about it? To be scared every single day? To avoid talking about certain things to try to not upset them? To feel like no matter what I do I’ll never do anything right, I’ll never make them proud?

 

Is it not normal to think I deserve it? Everything that happened? To think I deserve to be hurt? That I still deserve to be hurt?

 

Is it not normal to think that maybe I’m the problem? That I just don’t see reality and I’m just over sensitive and weak? That my opinions are never valid? That I can’t actually say what I think without worrying about upsetting them? That every everything is my fault? Even if they hurt me it’s still my fault, is that not normal?

 

Is it not normal to not feel like a real person? To feel like I’m just an object? That I have no human rights? To feel isolated and alone? Isn’t it normal for them to be possessive and control what I do and where I go? For them to prevent me from seeing other people I trust because they want me to talk to them instead? For me to have been paranoid all the time that they’ll take my phone and go through it? For them to really take my phone and read every text and go through all my tabs?

 

Aren’t these normal? Are these not just parent things?

 

I’ve looked up emotional abuse before, I’ve read about it and the signs. I think I’m more scared that this isn’t, or wasn’t, abuse than if it was. Because if it was, then nothing really changes, then I just know that there’s a word for what she did. But if it wasn’t…if it wasn’t abuse then I’m the problem. Then I’m just over sensitive and weak and can’t handle anything. Then I just made a big deal over nothing, over normal parent stuff. Then I hurt her because that’s just how horrible I am. Then I left because I couldn’t just be satisfied with the life she gave me.

 

I don’t want to have wasted all this. I don’t want to have come to Tony for nothing. I don’t want to think of her as abusive either… but I can’t have it both ways, can I?

 

It’s not like she ever hit me, she never physically hurt me. Is it really abuse if she never physically did anything?

 

From the research I did, emotional abuse is just as bad and serious as physical abuse. But maybe she wasn’t even abusive, it’s probably just me looking for justification for my actions. It’s probably just my fault. Everything is always my fault.

 

She loved me, didn’t she? Why else would she have taken me in and raised me? She kept a roof over my head, she kept food on the table  she bought me clothes. She made sure I had school supplies and a backpack, she even bought me toys and art materials. She didn’t need to buy me toys when I was younger or art materials. It wasn’t necessary but she still did, isn’t that love?

 

But aren’t these normal parent things?

 

When someone tells you ‘I love you’ is it normal to doubt it? To not feel it? To question and wonder if that’s true.

 

I question why Tony would love me, but I do believe he’s genuine when he says it.

 

I don’t know why May would love me and all I’ve done is try to figure out if she’s genuine or not. Is that just a me thing? That it’s my fault for not feeling her love?

 

And even if it was maybe possibly abuse then is it my fault for taking it? For not telling anyone? For not just leaving and running away?

 

Then again, I’m a minor. I don’t have money or a job, and if I left I wouldn’t have had anywhere to go.

 

Who am I to even say if it’s abuse? It’s not fair. It’s not right. I’m probably wrong, I have to be wrong I’m always wrong. Ned said May loved me. Ned was almost always right. Tony said…well, doesn’t Tony think it was abuse? Then again, he’s just going off of what I said. If my reality is incorrect then what I told him was wrong. So really that’s my fault too.

 

So I guess…it wasn’t abuse. And if it wasn’t abuse then how can Tony adopt me?

 

I looked up at Tony, I guess it was more complicated than just texting his lawyer that I agreed to the ‘compromise’. I waited until he was done.

 

“I’m sorry about that Petey, I need to make sure everything is in order for tomorrow,” he explained. I’m really going to see her. After everything I need to face her again. Maybe this'll be the last time I see her.

 

“It’s okay,” I responded automatically.

 

“Where did we leave off…” he mumbled to himself. Ned.

 

“I dunno…” I mumbled back, not actually sure if I was supposed to respond or not.

 

“Oh, oh kid…” that’s totally not a terrifying way to start a conversation, “you’re proud of Ned for leaving you?”

 

I don’t know if he can understand, “I’m proud of him for choosing himself, that’s how it’s meant to be.”

 

He took a second to think of how to word his next question, too many questions, “maybe I’m misinterpreting, but do you think you chose to do what you thought was best for him rather than what he thought was best for him?”

 

That makes me sound selfish. It sounds like…I mean yeah, I just sound selfish and stupid and self-centered. Maybe he’s right…that makes sense.

 

“Kid?” He asked when I didn’t respond. How am I even supposed to respond to that?

 

“Maybe you’re right,” I uttered.

 

Will there ever be anything that isn’t my fault?

 

“No, we’re not going to leave this like this,” he decided.

 

“What?” I asked, not meeting his eye.

 

“You are upset and I want to know why. We are not going to just sit here and pretend there’s no tension. I know I’m not very good with this whole… feelings thing, but I’m trying. I’m trying Pete,” he sounded so so tired at the end, but…but he’s not giving up yet.

 

“Thank you, for not giving up on me,” I didn’t know what else to say.

 

“Kid I’m never giving up on you,” he shifted me over so I was leaning against him again before continuing, “what did I say that upset you?”

 

“Nothing,” it came out more like a whine than I intended. I didn’t mean to whine.

 

There was almost a desperation to his tone, it didn’t sound right, “Nope, kid we can’t do this if we aren’t in communication. I can’t make you tell me and I won’t, but I don’t know how else to help you.”

 

He’s right, I think.

 

“I just, it makes me sound selfish and self-centered. I was only trying to help him,” I murmured.

 

He sighed, “I know. I know you were trying to help… kid that’s his job though, to decide for himself what’s too much. Just like it’s my job to know what’s too much for me. And you, Peter Parker, has never been and will never be too much.”

 

“I’m sorry,” my voice was barely audible.

 

“Why are you apologizing?” He asked, instead of reprimanding me, like I expected, for breaking his rule.

 

“I keep screwing up…” I answered.

 

I don’t think he knew how to respond at first. “We’ll get through this, okay?”

 

God I hope so.

 

We fell into a silence, not quite comfortable but not uncomfortable. We sat there, me soaking in everything that's been said, I let my eyes close for a moment exhaustion suddenly hitting me. I guess no matter how many days I go with little sleep I still end up so utterly tired.

 

He didn’t say anything, but I think the conversation was over by now when he started running his hand up and down my back. My consciousness started to slip as I sat there, Tony by my side.


Chapter Text

I miss when sleeping actually meant getting rest. I miss when the thought of sleeping didn’t absolutely terrify me. Because why should I be able to sleep well when being awake is so hard? Why should I ever get a break? I don’t. That’s just how this works.

 

I didn’t scream or cry or even move, like I would have expected. No. No, it was like I was paralyzed. I didn’t even wake up with a jump or a gasp, I just quickly opened my eyes. A little too late than I would have wanted. But if I got what I wanted, I wouldn’t have any nightmares to deal with.

 

I was only asleep for about an hour, since it’s still daytime, yet exhaustion is gripping me even more than before. I know better than to let myself sleep. Now I not only have to deal with the after effects of what I told Tony, the fear of seeing May, but now the effects of my latest nightmare. I can’t ever get a break…

 

“You awake, bud?” His voice was soft, fingers still carding through my hair. I just let out a hum, not yet ready to speak. “Today has already been…a lot. How about we just relax now, watch some movies?” I hummed again, hoping he knew that was a ‘yes’.

 

It was shockingly easy to pick out the movie lineup for the day, though there are only so many happy Disney movies. Or at least mostly happy. I have too many triggers we are trying to avoid.

 

It was around lunchtime that members of the team started showing up. I actually let out a laugh upon seeing Bucky and Steve’s reactions to seeing the movie we were watching. It was actually quite hilarious seeing the two of them race over and all but punch each other to get the open seat next to me. Part of me wonders if they really are such big Disney fans, or if they were just over dramatising themselves for my benefit.

 

Soon after that Natasha practically gave us all heart attacks when she snuck up on us. It was nice to see her laugh, even if she was laughing at us. I didn’t mind.

 

I think everyone’s commentary of the movie was more entertaining than anything happening on the screen. All the exclaims of “what are you doing” and “it’s so obvious” and “how could you be that dumb” brought a small smile to my face.

 

It was a few more minutes before another voice joined into the commentary, “oh I love this movie.” I didn't mean to tense at Pepper’s voice.

 

“Hey hun,” Tony greeted. I listened to her heels clicking against the floor as she walked over to us. How did I not hear her walk in the room?

 

“Hi Tony, hello Peter,” she addressed us before giving Tony a quick peck on the cheek.

 

I didn’t mean to shrink in on myself when she tried to talk to me. “Hi,” I whispered.

 

Based on the silence that followed I figured they were probably having a silent conversation, maybe with just their eyes or even mouthing. Without another word I heard her heels click out of the room.

 

“Where did she go?” I let the guilt choke me, I deserve it. I caused her to leave. I hurt her before and now I’m doing it again. She didn’t deserve it when I panicked and ran away after my last ‘talk’ with Sam. And she doesn’t deserve this. Will I ever stop hurting everyone?

 

“She has a lot of work to do, she was just stopping in to say hi.” I just couldn’t bring myself to believe him.

 

I stayed there, curled in on myself. I faced the screen but I didn’t really watch the movie. Or the next one. Or the next.

 

I guess it was a good thing? I mean it wasn’t good, but it helped keep me from thinking of May. Eventually it was time to go to bed. I couldn’t help but be terrified of the thought of sleep. But it’s not like I can do anything about it so it doesn’t even matter.

 

Even after wishing the Avengers a good night and getting ready for bed, sleep just refused to come.

 

So I laid there, and waited.

 

 

“Pep,” Tony called out once finding her in her office.

 

“Hi,” though she gave him a smile he could see the worry behind it.

 

He hopped up and sat on her desk, ignoring her eye roll, “Peter just went to bed. I thought we should talk about earlier, during the movie.”

 

She leaned back in her chair, “I didn’t mean to…upset him,” she worded her sentence carefully.

 

“I know,” he sighed, “I know. I really am not sure why he reacted like that.”

 

“I’ve been trying to figure it out too,” she confessed, “the last time me and him interacted was the last time he met with Sam.”

 

“And I wasn’t there for him,” he took a deep breath.

 

She took his hand, “you needed to work through everything with May. You two worked it out.”

 

“And now he-oh maybe he isn’t mad at you,” when her eyebrows raised he continued, “the kid, he feels guilty about, well everything, maybe he just feels guilty for running off and panicking while you were there.”

 

She considered it for a moment, “you think that could be a possibility?”

 

“I think so. The only way to really know is talk with him,” he huffed out a breath, “but tomorrow we meet May.”

 

“I know you won’t let her take him,” she assured him.

 

“There’s been setbacks, but he has been making progress. He’s been opening up more. I don’t want her to undo all the work we’ve done to make him better.”

 

She stood up, pulling him into a hug, “you’ll be there with him. If anything happens you can get him out of there. We will work this out.” She sounded so sure, so confident.

 

He nodded, hoping and praying to whatever god that may listen that she was right.

 

 

Once again I woke up from a nightmare. You know, I thought my nightmares wouldn’t get any scarier, but I was wrong. I’m always wrong.

 

Of course I woke up two hours before I needed to, with no chance of being able to fall back asleep. I just get to sit here and fight both the fear from the nightmare and the fear of seeing May again.

 

May is real. I’m really gonna see her. I really need to face her and tell her that I’m choosing Tony over her.

 

I can’t do this. I can’t. There’s no way I am face her. I just can’t do that. I can’t tell her:

 

But I can’t get out of it. She said she’d give Tony custody if I told her. But she could be lying, she could just not sign the papers and there’s nothing we can do about it.

 

Tony wouldn’t let that happen though. He wouldn’t.

 

I spoke before even thinking it over, “Friday, where’s Tony?”

 

“Boss is in his lab. Would you like me to call him up?”

 

Once again, I spoke without thinking, “yeah.”

 

Why isn’t Tony sleeping? Maybe he couldn't too, but Pepper is here wouldn’t he want to be with her? I mean I know he doesn’t have the best sleeping habits, but I thought he was starting to get better about it. Did I make it worse?

 

It wasn’t long before Tony was at my door, asking to come in. The second he walked in, though he tried to hide it, I could see just how tired he is. I should have just left him alone.

 

“What’s going on Pete? Why are you awake?” He sat down next to me on my bed.

 

“Nothing,” he doesn’t need this, he needs sleep, I shouldn’t have reached out , “are you tired?” I asked already knowing the answer.

 

“Kid, you asked me to come. First of all, I’m proud of you for reaching out, and second, I’m here because I want to be.” That doesn’t mean you’re not tired.

 

“I can’t sleep,” I murmured.

 

“Did you have a nightmare?” I did not mean for my eyes to shoot up so panicked. “I get nightmares too, that’s actually why I was up. It’s nothing to be ashamed of. Actually, all of us Avengers get nightmares, it comes with the job,” I didn’t miss the sadness slipping into his voice at the last sentence.

 

“It was scary,” god I sound like a child.

 

“I know bud, I know,” he pulled me into a hug, running his fingers through my hair. Who would have thought Tony Stark would become so normalized about physical comfort?

 

I didn’t fall back asleep, and neither did he. But he didn’t leave. Eventually it was time to get up and get ready. I didn’t even try to eat, knowing it would make me sick, and Tony didn’t try to force me any food.

 

It was too soon that we had to get in the car and drive down to see her. Tony mentioned that we are meeting her at some small café. I don’t know why we’re meeting there and I didn’t ask.

 

It’s just me, Tony, and Happy in the car. Though Tony also said that Bucky would be there when we got back.

 

Maybe I don’t need to be alone.

 

“I’ll be with you the whole time,” he assured me, as we entered the city.

 

“Won’t that make her mad?” I questioned, already scared of the thought of an angry May.

 

“I don’t care if she’s mad, I care about you. If you want me there she won’t stop me,” his confidence was contagious. It helped take some of the tightness from my chest.

 

It was when Happy parked outside the café that my hands turned from a light trembling to really shaking.

 

“Happy, stay here and keep the car on,” he told him before explaining to me, “if you need to leave, we’ll leave. No questions asked, we’ll drive away the second you need to, okay?” I nodded.

 

I’m really doing this. I’m gonna face May.

 

Tony walked next to me up to the door, his hand on my back helping to ground me.

 

The second we walked in the door she was there.

 

“Peter!” She exclaimed, not angry like I expected, but relieved? She was coming towards me, I didn’t speak, I didn’t move, I didn’t breathe. Before she could get too close Tony stopped her.

 

He stepped in between us, “May, nice to see you,” though he spoke pleasantries his voice was icy cold. May stood the furthest into the café, me right by the door, Tony inbetween.

 

Then came the anger as I expected, “oh so now I can’t even hug my kid without you stopping me?!”

 

Tony glanced back at me, a silent question, I shook my head ‘no’ as subtly as I could, my eyes still open too wide. I know if she touches me, I’ll suffocate.

 

“He’s not yours,” his voice stayed professionally even, but that didn’t keep the coldness from his tone.

 

“Yes he is, he’s coming home with me,” I didn’t think my eyes could open any wider. I couldn’t speak, couldn’t scream no.

 

“That’s not up to you,” he didn’t raise his voice, but that didn’t make him any less powerful.

 

She tried to come towards me again, but Tony kept himself between me and her, “I’m his guardian! You’re the one that kidnapped him!” She accused.

 

I don’t want this, I can’t do this. She’s going to take me. I’m not strong enough to tell her no. I don’t want to go with her. I want to stay with Tony.

 

I couldn’t get my words to come out.

 

“Peter, come with me,” she commanded, “we are going home.”

 

I didn’t step towards or away from her.

 

But I did bring myself to shake my head. Please don’t make me go with her.

 

“Peter…” she didn’t yell that time, no it was small and broken. I watched the tears fill her eyes and roll down her cheeks. I made her cry.

 

Though guilt choked me, I know I still can’t go with her. That’s not what I want. I want to stay with Tony. I need to.

 

Even with tears on her face she reverted back to her anger, “Peter Benjamin Parker you are coming home with me.”

 

I need to just say it, it’s the only way. It’s the only way out. This, this, is my escape.

 

“I-I want to stay with Tony,” though my voice was small I know she heard me based on her reaction. A mix of shock and anger and pain and sadness all crossed her face.

 

“You are coming with me,” she didn’t sound so commanding that time.

 

“I want Tony to have custody,” I told her again, proving that this is what I want. Once I said that, though she was protesting, Tony turned around and faced me, another silent question. This time I nodded. He turned me around and walked me back out the door, staying between me and May. I heard her screaming, I couldn't help myself from covering my ears. But I couldn't hear her coming after us. After me.

 

Tony got me into the car, and as promised Happy drove as soon as we sat down.

 

“You did it kid,” it was strange to hear pride in the man’s voice. “You did it.”

 

That was when my own tears came. I don’t even know why I cried. Whether it be from seeing May, making her cry, her yelling at me, the relief that it's over, or the happiness that maybe I get to stay with Tony.

 

He immediately pulled me into a tight hug, it’s easier to breathe in his embrace.

 

“It’s over?” I asked.

 

Relief filled his voice, “Yeah kid, it’s over.”

 

“I’m going to be your son?”

 

“Yeah Pete, you’re gonna officially be my son.”

 

Despite the tears, despite the fears, despite everything, I smiled.

Chapter Text

Of course it wasn’t quite as simple as May signing the papers and suddenly Peter is a Stark now, but it definitely accelerated the process. Plus, Tony had lawyers to deal with the rest anyway. But however you put it, Peter did it, he told May, and Tony could not be prouder. You’d think he’d hurt himself from smiling so much.

 

Not even Tony Stark, a man who is never at a loss for words, could think of anything that could express just how proud he is of his kid.

 

 

I am mad at May.

 

For everything she’s said and done. Yesterday, that was how I could fight back. By showing her that she can’t hurt me anymore.

 

But the thing is, she can. It still hurts.

 

I want to seem stronger than I feel. I want to seem more confident than I am. I want to seem more self-assured than I’ve ever been. Because the truth is, I’m not, I’m weak and terrified but I don’t want her to see that. That would be like she won.

 

Except this isn’t a game. We are real people with real emotions. And the truth is both of us are hurt. But all I can do is try to protect myself and try not to hurt her any further.

 

I want to let myself be angry though. Part of me wishes I had said everything I wanted to say to her. I wanted to scream. To tell her everything I can’t let go of, all the ways she’s hurt me. Part of me wanted to hurt her back. To make it even.

 

I’m glad I didn’t. It’s not right for me to hurt her anymore than I already did.

 

I know it was stupid, I know it was my fault. But you know what? No one can hate me as much as I hate myself. No one can hurt me as much as I hurt myself. There are few things people have told me that I aren’t already told myself, at least insult wise.

 

I know I’m stupid. I tell myself that every day. I know I screw up. I ruin everything. I know I’m childish. I just need to grow up. I know I’m immature. I need to think before I speak. I know I’m weak. I know I’ll never be strong. I know I talk too much. I just need to shut up. I know I’m an attention seeker. I should just stay invisible. I know I’m a mistake. I just need to stop. I know no one really cares. They have no reason to. I know everyone will leave eventually. They have the right to.

 

But you know what? No, I will not try to offend you. Yes, you can hurt me. You can. No matter how much I’ve been hurt I can keep getting hurt, that’s one of my weaknesses. But maybe it means I’m still feeling.

 

I will not try to hurt you back. Why? Because I’m trying to have self-control. Because no matter how much you may hurt me that does not mean I have any right to hurt you back.

 

Believe me, I’m pissed. You may see me angry, you may see me really mad, but I know how to hide how pissed I am. I know better than to let myself show everything. Because if I did, well I would destroy everything that’s left. I try to not be mean, because no matter how hard I want to retaliate, I know better. I know what it’s like to hurt and I don’t want to cause anyone else that kind of pain.

 

Maybe your actions or words make it seem like you deserve for me to fight back, but you know what? You are a human being. So am I. And humans don’t deserve to be hurt. I will try to not hurt you because I want to be the bigger person. Even if I’m terrified and self-conscious and pissed, I know better. I’m trying to be better.

 

People have said before that they’ve never seen me fight back, be angry, retaliate. Is that something to be proud of? That I have enough self-control to not act rashly and hurt people?

 

I do try to fight back, but not with yelling and screaming and insults. No, that’s the easy way, and it’s not the right way. I try to stay calmer, or at least seem calmer, I try to choose my words more carefully. To explain my side, explain my hurt, say my feelings, rather than hurt you back. I know I’m not hurting you, at least not as much as you hurt me. I hope. That’s the point, I’m not trying to hurt you. I’m trying to get my point across without causing harm.

 

And yeah, I’m sick of taking it. I’m tired of everything thrown at me. But I need to keep holding back. Because if I let myself, I can do a lot more damage than anyone would see coming. Anyone but me. I know I’m angry. I hold more anger than anyone would ever expect. But I push it down, and I let it out quietly. So that you can’t see how much is there. I don’t know if it’s strength or weakness, but all I know is I don’t want to hurt anyone.

 

Sometimes I do though. I want to scream. I want to fight back. Scream every word I bite back. Yell every thought I keep to myself. Truly show the fire burning inside me. But I don’t. I don’t do it. Because in the end, everyone is hurting. I don’t need to add onto that. I do not want to be the reason someone cries. I do not want to be the reason someone is pushed over the edge. I do not want to add any weight to anyone else. They don’t deserve that.

 

It’s hard, it hurts. It would be so much easier to just let myself be angry. But like a fire, it would burn everything it touches, and I wouldn’t be able to stop it. I would just watch everything around me turn to ash. The bad and the good. I can’t risk destroying what little good I have left. I can’t risk harming those few people who haven’t left yet

 

I’m not saying I don’t hurt people. I know, I know I hurt people. I do way too often. I could never repay the damage I’ve done. I’m trying so so hard to stop causing people more pain. I’m failing, but I’m still trying. 

 

Sometimes I do let my anger show, I try to cut it off as quickly as I can.

 

You want me to be angry? You don’t know what you’re getting yourself into. And so I shouldn’t. I’m going to try not to. Because I think that’s the right thing to do.

 

I wish I could be resilient, brush it all off and say it doesn’t matter. It does matter though, to me. Because words hurt. Like knives tearing me apart piece by piece and I don’t want those cuts. I soak it all in. Every every word, I let in and I can’t let it go. It just simmers in me, burning me from the inside out. But I don’t let it out. No, I just let myself burn. Because it protects everyone else.




Chapter Text

By the time we got home I was ready to just pass out, hoping my utter exhaustion was enough to keep me from nightmares.

 

Though even after something like that, my thoughts during the car ride were just way too loud, it still did not take away the fact that Tony was looking at me, smiling, with pride in his eyes. Who would have thought Tony could look so proud of me?

 

And he was right, the second we walked in the door Bucky was right there. I think he could tell by the smile still on Tony’s face and the relief on mine that we got it done. With a look at me I nodded and with that he pulled me into a hug.

 

“How’d it go?” I pulled back from the hug to see Steve walk up behind us.

 

“He did it,” you could hear the satisfaction in Tony’s voice.

 

“That’s amazing,” Steve smiled so big and put a hand on my shoulder.

 

It’s strange, so many people actually being proud of me. No one's ever proud of me. It felt like May never was. I know Tony has said he is before, but this, this is like a whole new level. I want to say it was nothing, that it’s not a big deal, that I don’t deserve it. Maybe I don’t, but not even my mind can refute just how hard it was to face May, to tell her that I want to stay with Tony. I didn’t think I would be able to do it.

 

Maybe that’s why it could be okay to just be happy right now, that I got through it and that finally people are happy with me.

 

“I think we need some celebratory ice cream,” Tony announced, leading the way to the kitchen.

 

I hadn’t even thought of food since before we left to see May. Maybe a little bit would be okay? Maybe?

 

Part of me just wants to relish in the ’celebration’ but there’s always that part of me that just needs to doubt everything.

 

Steve helped Tony raid the freezer while Bucky sat down with me at the couches. I didn’t even know we just had ice cream here, then again I don’t really go exploring the food options.

 

They placed a row of full ice cream tubs on the coffee table before me, saying I should pick a flavor. I just picked the chocolate as it was right in front of me.

 

When Tony handed me the whole tub with a spoon I asked, “aren’t we putting it in a bowl?”

 

He chuckled, “Kid, it’s a victory just eat as much as you want, we can put your name on the tub after so no one eats it.”

 

“You mean so Clint doesn’t eat it,” Steve joked. It’s nice hearing them joke.

 

Wait, wait Clint. I haven’t met him yet.

 

But wasn’t he on Steve’s side in the airport? Then again, I didn’t really interact with him so maybe he doesn’t hate me? Maybe?

 

It doesn’t matter anyway, it’s not like I’ll probably meet him if I haven’t even seen him all the time I’ve been living here.

 

Looking around, I noticed the other three already digging into their ice cream. Maybe just a little bit is okay. I didn’t eat anything else yet today so these are my only calories.

 

I quietly stabbed my spoon into the dessert, taking a small bite. Part of me hates just how good it tastes.

 

“You did it,” I shouldn’t have even been surprised that Natasha snuck up on us again. When she said it, she smiled at me.

 

It was almost as if Tony and Steve knew she would show up, as there was an extra ice cream on the table. She snatched it up and joined us on the couches.

 

“What happened while you were there?” She asked, I guess that was the question everyone wanted answered, as each they took a break from their dessert to wait for my response.

 

“She was mad,” I said. I hate how small my voice is, even after it’s over.

 

“Yeah?” Steve asked, gently pressing me to continue.

 

“She yelled a lot,” I put my spoon down, but kept my eyes on my ice cream, “she told me to go with her. I told her that I want to stay with Tony. And I do, I want to stay here,” it was at the last part that I looked up at all of them.

 

“And we want you here,” Bucky told me, to which every other person in the room nodded in agreement.

 

I never even thought Tony would want me. But them…they all want me too?

 

I smiled, small but genuine. I took another bite.

 

“Hey, Peter, Tony you’re back,” it was Sam that walked into the room. Do they all know what happened today? I can’t really bring myself to mind though. No, actually the thought that Tony thought this was important enough to inform the team, that is meaningful.

 

“Yep,” Tony popped the ‘p’, “Kid was great.”

 

“I’m so happy for you, you did it,” Sam smiled at me.

 

It feels kind of strange everyone saying that ‘I did it’, that it was a victory, a cause for celebration. That telling the woman who raised me that I don’t want to stay with her anymore is a good thing. But I think it is. Because I can’t stay there, and I finally did something about it.

 

“Anymore ice cream?” He asked before making his way to the freezer and getting himself his own carton.

 

I noticed myself repeatedly peering over into Tony and Bucky’s ice cream tubs. I know I shouldn’t compare how much I’ve eaten to them but I can’t help him. I can’t eat too much.

 

Though Tony had already eaten a third of his, and Bucky was almost done with his own, the small indent in mine just looked like too much. I know in reality I only had a few spoonfuls but is that too much?

 

“Pete, if it’s okay Pepper would like to come join us,” Tony said.

 

I nodded, “yeah of course.”

 

Though guilt still holds me tight.

 

He looked like he wanted to say something but he didn’t, he just got up and got a second spoon. It only took a few minutes and a few more small spoonfuls of my dessert for Pepper to arrive.

 

“Peter, I’m so proud of you,” she said the second she walked in. She looked almost as if she wanted to hug me, but she settled for a pat on my shoulder before sitting between Tony and Bucky. Tony handed her the second spoon he got and she took a few bites of his ice cream.

 

So many people all here together..for me, it..it almost feels like a family. A real family.

Chapter Text

“Hey Petey?” Tony got my attention. It’s not like I was really doing anything, I was just drawing. I quickly closed my notebook, not quite ready for anyone to see it yet.

 

“Yeah?” I watched as he came around the couch and sat next to me.

 

Did I do something? Did he find out something? I haven’t done anything, I don’t think. I haven’t even cut since that day I ran out. Is he mad? Maybe-maybe he changed his mind about wanting me and now and now it’s over and he doesn’t want me. Why would he ever ever want me? I-

 

“Hey, hey it’s okay. You’re not in trouble,” he put his hands on my shoulders, trying to ground me.

 

I hate the snake. I hate how it chokes me, steals my air, hurts me even when I’m already hurt. I won’t ever let me go. I want it to go.

 

“I just wanted to ask you about something,” he continued, “the other day, before we saw May, you seemed really tense when Pepper came in the room. I just want to know if something happened, or if you are uncomfortable with her or…?”

 

Oh god.

 

I didn’t mean for him to notice that. Pepper’s important, she’s his fiancé and now I’m making him think I don’t like her. What happens if he thinks I don’t like his fiancé?

 

“It’s nothing,” please just drop it.

 

He sighed, I disappointed him, “Kid, I can’t help you if I don’t know what’s wrong. I’m not mad, I just want to know so I can try to help.”

 

He’s mad, how could he not be? He’s just saying that so I don’t panic. I’d be mad too, I don’t blame him.

 

“I like Pepper, she’s really nice,” it’s true, she is a wonderful woman.

 

That’s not what he wanted to hear. “Kiddo, I’m not saying you don’t like her,” he took a second to collect his thoughts, “I’ve come to know you a lot better since you’ve been living here, and I think I’ve gotten a pretty good idea how your mind works. So I do have an idea on what’s going on. Stop me if I’m wrong.”

 

He waited for me to nod before continuing, “the last time you really interacted with Pepper was your last talk with Sam, when I wasn’t there. None of us blame you for panicking, but I think you blame yourself,” am I this obvious? “I think that maybe since you panicked when Pepper was there you think she’s upset with you, that you hurt her.” But I did hurt her. I hurt everyone.

 

The snake was holding me so tight I could hardly breathe.

 

Sometimes I want to kill the snake.

 

Before I could think of a response he kept talking, “Peter you did not hurt her. She is not mad at you. She is not upset. She is just worried, she wants to have a relationship with you but only if you want one.”

 

“I want to have a relationship with her too.” How could I ever have one though?

 

“Was anything I said wrong?” He asked.

 

“No,” it came out quieter than I expected.

 

He gave me a sad smile, I don’t like those kinds of smiles, “do you think we can talk to Pepper? I’m sure she’d love to get this all figured out.”

 

“Sure.”

 

Would he be angry if he knew the only reason I said yes was to not disappoint him?

 

With that he led me down to a part of the compound I’ve never been in. It was more lavish than homey like the parts I’m usually in. It looked almost too professional for Tony’s taste. At the end of the hall was a wall of windows looking into a large office. In the back, a big desk with Pepper sitting at it.

 

I guess this is where she works when she’s not out at meetings.

 

He barely bothered knocking before barging in. She didn’t even look surprised to see him. She did though, seem surprised to see me following behind him.

 

“Hello Miss Potts,” he smiled at her. It’s still kind of strange to see this side of him. But it’s nice.

 

“Hello Tony, to what do I owe the pleasure?” She smiled at him.

 

“Actually this isn’t about me,” he responded as he hopped on her desk, sitting amongst her piles of papers.

 

“Hi Pepper,” I finally spoke up.

 

Her eyes softened when she looked at me, “Hi.”

 

“Um, hey,” wow I repeated myself, what a great start , “so me and Tony were talking. About the other day,” god is he really going to make me have to say it, “before-um before May. And…” I looked up at Tony. I can’t do this.

 

He seemed to get what I meant and took over, “we talked about how things seemed a bit tense between you two. We figured it was because of after the last talk with Sam, Petey here feels bad for panicking and running off while you were there.”

 

“It wasn’t your fault,” I added on.

 

“Oh Peter, you don’t have to feel guilty, it’s not your fault for panicking,” she stood up and put a hand on my shoulder.

 

I hope she’s right.

 

And it’s not like I’d ever dare refute her.

 

It was then that she gave Tony a look and before I could even try to decipher it Tony already knew.

 

“Oh, kid. There was something else I wanted to ask you,” he actually seemed a bit nervous. It’s not often that Tony is ever nervous for anything. “Would you like to be a groomsman at my wedding?”

 

“Wait what?” I gaped at him.

 

He chuckled, “you know how I’m getting married? Yeah, and I need groomsmen. I couldn't think of a better one than you.”

 

“You want me?” Can he really mean it?

 

He seemed smiled at me, “of course I want you kid. What do you say?”

 

I smiled back, “Yes, of course.”

 

Chapter Text

Tony Stark wants me to be one of his groomsmen. Tony. Stark. Wants me to be one of his groomsmen. Me.

 

Of all people he says that he couldn’t think of anyone better. A man that knows Steve Rogers, Bucky Barnes, Thor, Colonel Rhodes, Clint Barton, and Bruce Banner thinks I should be in his wedding.

 

Tony continued talking, interrupting my thoughts, “Rhodey is my best man,” that makes sense, it’s right, “The other groomsmen I have so far are Happy and Bruce.”

 

I almost asked if any other avengers would be groomsmen, but thankfully I’m not that stupid.

 

“What about you Pepper? Who are your bridesmaids? If I may ask,” I quickly added on the last part.

 

She smiled at me kindly, “of course you can ask. My maid of honor is Natasha. My bridesmaids, unless we add more groomsmen,” she looked pointedly at Tony, “are Wanda, Maria, and Hope.”

 

Is it bad that I don’t know who half those people are?

 

I guess they saw my confusion and Tony explained, “we’ve known Maria a long time, she works with Nick Fury.” The Nick Fury? He’s in charge of Shield, well I guess that makes sense since they worked with Shield. “If you remember Ant-Man from the airport-”

 

I didn’t mean to cut him off, “the little guy who turned super big?”

 

“Yeah, he works with Hope. She has a similar suit but she has wings, she’s called The Wasp.”

 

“She has wings,” I couldn't keep my mind from trying to come up with all the possibilities that wings could provide.

 

But not like the Vulture, Hope must be different. Why else would Pepper have her as a bridesmaid?

 

“You’ll love them Pete,” he decided.

 

I smiled, “they sound amazing.”

 

“They are,” Pepper agreed, “I’m still shocked everyone is able to make it. All the avengers are coming, along with many others Tony’s met along the way.”

 

Everyone.

 

But that means I’ll have to talk to then, I’m not good at talking to people.

 

But with a whole wedding full of Avengers and other strong amazing people I’ll have to talk so much and I’ll screw it up and they’ll all hate me and-

 

“Kid, hey, hey, what’s wrong?” He’s gotten better at seeing my panic before I get too far gone.

 

“Nothing,” I forced myself to take a breath. “I’m just excited for you two. Do you have a date?”

 

He didn’t look convinced but didn’t press the matter. Part of me was relieved that he let it drop, part of me wishes he didn’t. “Well, it’ll either be June or July, we still need to figure that out.”

 

How long have they been planning this? Have I just been completely oblivious this entire time? I’m just that self-centered…

 

“We’re still getting details together, we have general ideas for everything we just need to pull it all together,” though she sounded confident she looked a bit nervous. I can’t blame her it must be a lot of stress to have to run a company and try to plan a wedding.

 

Is that my fault? Because Tony’s helping me rather than helping her. He should be planning his wedding but instead he’s worrying about me. That’s not fair to him.

 

No, no I need to stop. I need to be happy, I have to be happy for them. This is their time, I can’t ruin this too. I have to be happy.

 

“I’m sure it’ll all work out,” I hope my smile was reassuring.

 

“It will,” Tony agreed, “I think we need to let her keep working,” he told me before turning back to his fiancé, “I’ll see you later.” After giving her a kiss on the cheek he led me out of the office.

 

While we walked back to the common area he spoke up again, “you sure you’re okay?”

 

I nodded as I spoke, “yeah, yeah of course.” I’m really not that convincing am I? I thought I got pretty good at making my smiles seem real, but he only seems to be getting better at figuring my real from my forced smiles. Is that a good thing?

 

“Bud, we talked about this, I can only help you if I know what’s wrong.” I thought we dropped the subject.

 

It’s not even a big deal, we still have time before the wedding I can worry about it later. It’s my own fault anyway for being so scared to talk to people, Tony shouldn’t be worrying about it.

 

“It really is nothing, I’m just tired.” I’ve already put so much on him, especially recently, he doesn’t need anymore.

 

He needs to focus on Pepper, he’s marrying her for a reason. I’m just the kid he’s adopting, that doesn’t mean I have the right to take his time away from Pepper.

 

Wait.

 

“Pete, what’s wrong?” I didn’t mean to stop walking, and I definitely didn’t mean to worry him more.

 

“You’re adopting me, and you’re marrying Pepper,” I began, trying to think it through myself.

 

“Yeah?” Now there was as much confusion as there was concern on his face.

 

“So you’re gonna be my dad. Does…does that mean when you marry Pepper, that she-that she’ll be my mom?” My voice ended up quieter than I expected. Upon seeing his wide eyes and realizing the weight of my words, I tried to fix it, “nevermind, nevermind I’m sorry for misinterpreting it’s my fault nevermind.”

 

He stopped me before I could continue down the hall, “no kid, you’re not wrong. She will be your mom, is that what you want?”

 

I really never thought about that, that not only could I get a dad but I could get a mom. May was like a mom, I think, but I didn’t like how that turned out. But Pepper is different. This will be different.

 

But she didn’t ask for this, for me.

 

Instead of answering I asked, “Is that what she wants?”

 

“Yeah kid,” he smiled, “I talked with her about it, she not only encouraged me to adopt you but she wants you too.” She wants me? “If you want it, she could be your mom.”

 

I could have a dad and a mom.

Chapter Text

Sometime I wonder if Tony thinks I’m selfish. I know I am. I’m selfish and self-centered and ruinous and I hate it, god I hate it.

 

Yet it’s always the selfish part of me that wins, that part of me which so desperately needs to talk to people. I should be able to do this on my own. Right?

 

It’s always that selfish part of me that ruins everything.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I wasn’t so selfish if I would still be able to be friends with Ned.

 

Sometimes I want to kill that selfish part of me. Murder it. Cut it out of me piece by piece. Even if it’s just a hole left…it’s better than my ruinous selfishness.

 

I’m still running in circles. No matter what I do I end up in the same pattern. I say I’m going to stop, I try to stop, I’m trying so hard, but it’s just the same cycle. It’s always the same cycle. I’m still trapped. I’m tired of being trapped. I don’t think I ever will find my way out.

 

Well there’s one way.

 

But Tony won’t let me. He’ll never let me.

 

Maybe May would.

 

No, no, she wouldn’t. It’s stupid to even think she could.

 

It’s always the same insults that my mind provides, usually that I’m stupid. And I always believe it. But sometimes I wonder how someone so stupid could do the things I do. There must be a reason.

 

Even in days that are supposed to be good, my mind still never relents.

 

Maybe Tony could help…

 

But it’s always that selfish part of me that wins. If I talk to him it’ll only make everything worse.

 

How can I kill a part of me? Sometimes I wonder if it’s not just part of me, if I’m just a selfish person and that’s why I always act like this. How can I destroy it if it’s all of me?

 

Today was supposed to be a good day, I thought it was. And my mind ruined it, it ruins everything. Well everything that I don’t already ruin by just being me. I need to be happy. I’m supposed to be happy. I want to. I want to be happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy happy…

 

I’m not happy.

 

But I’m supposed to be.

 

I need to be happy happy happy happy…

 

Well that’s not the only thing I need, but I can’t do that anymore.

 

It makes me want to do it more, not having the option. When I lived with May, I used to have these moments, I used to think they were moments of strength, were I would decide to stop. I would throw out my blade. But knowing I didn’t have the option, knowing I couldn’t do it only made me spiral. I knew I needed it so I would always find a new one. Eventually I stopped throwing them out, keeping them even if I didn’t cut, just to know I had the option.

 

I can’t blame Tony for trying to stop me, he wants me to be safe. But how can I explain that I need the option? That being able to do it makes me less desperate to actually do it? I can’t tell him that. I can’t be that selfish.

 

I’ve always been selfish. I used to keep a list of all the ways I was burdening May. It was a long list. I would write down every single thing I was wasting her money on. That’s one thing I don’t have to worry about here, or at least not as much. It’s harder to waste a billionaires money.

 

May would tell me almost every day how I’m wasting her money, as if I needed a reminder at how much of a burden I am.

 

I should have known better than to ask to go out with Ned on the weekends, I should have not gone if I didn’t have my own money. I should have known better than to ask again the next week, we didn’t have the money for that. I shouldn’t have asked for more pencils, I was fine with one. I shouldn’t have asked for new paper, I could have scribbled in the corners. I shouldn’t have asked for food for breakfast, I didn't need to eat in the morning. I shouldn’t have said when I was out of lunch money, I only needed one meal a day. I shouldn’t have asked for a fish, I didn’t need a pet. I shouldn’t have asked for juice, water was fine. I shouldn’t have asked for a book, I could have walked to the library. I shouldn’t have asked for a therapist, I know now it doesn’t help me. I should have just gotten a job, then maybe I could have started paying for myself. I shouldn’t have spoken up, I know better than to speak.

 

I need to stop being selfish, I’m too much of a burden already.

 

Sometimes I wonder if a funeral and burial would be less money than keeping me alive. Sometimes I think the cost of the funeral would be worth it. Then again, how many people would actually show up?

 

I had a list for that too, a list of people who I thought might actually care if I died. The saddest part wasn’t that I felt the need to make that list, or that it was very short, but it was when I started crossing names off because I realized they probably wouldn’t care after all.

 

The list used to be Tony, Ned, Happy, and MJ.

 

The second I had wrote Happy’s name I had scribbled it back out. It was soon after that that I crossed MJ’s name out. I stopped bothering her even before I stopped bothering Ned. I never expected her to make much of an effort to talk to me after I stopped talking to her, but she did for a little while before she gave up too. After I stopped talking to Ned I crossed his name out too.

 

I never wrote May’s name.

 

I don’t remember if I ever crossed Tony’s name out, I’m not sure if I should have.

 

Maybe it was the realistic part of me that scribbled the names out, or maybe the hopeless part. But aren’t they the same thing?

 

I’m supposed to be happy right now. But I’m not.

 

I’m happy for Tony and Pepper, of course. I’m happy he wants me to be a groomsman.

 

But I’m not happy. I don’t make any sense, I never do.

 

Today was supposed to be a good day. I wanted it to be. I should have known better than to actually think I could have a good day. I’m running in circles and good days aren’t part of that cycle, they don’t belong.

 

Sometimes I want to smash my head on the floor if that means that my mind would be quiet for even a moment. It’s a very convincing idea, but I’m yet to do it. I guess I’m too scared.

 

I can’t tell Tony that either. Either he would freak out or just dismiss me, saying I would never do such a thing. Maybe I wouldn’t, I probably wouldn’t. But then again, I’ve surprised even myself with how far I’ll go to calm down and quiet my mind.

 

It seems like the only way my mind will shut up is when I’m in physical pain. It’s worth it. No physical pain could ever compare to what my mind puts me through.

 

Is it my fault? That my mind hurts me so much? May seemed to think it was my fault…

 

I shouldn’t need Tony as much as I do. Yet part of me wants to just let myself need him, need the support and comfort and having someone here for me. Is that selfish?

 

I want to know what’s true, what’s real. Because whenever I think somethings true someone always says it’s not. Maybe I need a new list.

 

After the conversation with Tony and Pepper earlier today I had decided to come to my room to try to process, maybe that was a mistake.

 

I went over to the desk and grabbed my drawing notebook and a pencil. I tuned to a blank page as I sat back down on my bed. I quickly draw three columns before labeling them: Things I know are trueThings I want to be true, and Things I don’t know if they are true or not.

 

Then I got to writing.

 

Things I know are true:

 

  • I am messed up.
  • I am ruinous.
  • I am selfish.
  • I talk too much.
  • I made May give me up.
  • Tony thinks he’s going to stay.
  • Uncle Ben’s death was my fault.
  • The ferry was my fault.
  • I made Ned leave.
  • I made MJ leave.
  • I can’t control my nightmares.
  • I hurt people.
  • My mind is too loud.
  • I put too much weight on everyone.
  • I’m weak.
  • I cry too much.
  • I hate myself.

 

 

I wish I didn’t have to hold back tears as I wrote the list. Though I did leave room for more if I thought of anything. I probably will.

 

Things I want to be true:

 

  • Tony loves me.
  • Tony isn’t going to leave me.
  • I’m could be his son.
  • Pepper wants me.
  • She could be my mom.
  • It’s not my fault.
  • There is a reason I am the way I am.
  • There is a reason May acted the way she did.
  • It is not my fault how May treated me.

 

 

I’m sure there’s more things I could list, but I couldn’t bring myself to write more.

 

Things I don’t know if they are true or not:

 

 

  • I have a mental illness.
  • May was abusive.
  • Tony loves me.
  • The Avengers hate me.
  • I would be better off gone.

 

 

Once again, I couldn’t bring myself to write more.

 

It’s one thing to think these things, but actually seeing them written out, that makes them see more real.

 

It was a knock at the door that pulled me from my thoughts. Before answering I quickly stuffed my notebook under my pillow, asking who’s at the door.

 

Chapter Text

“It’s Bucky,” he answered.

 

“Come in,” I called out. Why would he be coming to my room?

 

Of course it was only once he was entering my room that I glanced down to see my notebook peeking out from under my pillow. Because I’m just that smart.

 

Would it be more obvious to cover it up or to just leave it and hope he doesn’t ask? Either way he’ll probably know it’s there, but maybe if I leave it alone he will too.

 

“Can I sit down?” Was the first thing he asked. I can’t help but wonder if it’s just for politeness or something else.

 

“Sure?” I didn’t mean for it to come out as a question.

 

I waited for him to settle himself, a million possibilities of why he’s here racing through my head.

 

“Me and you haven’t really spent much time together recently, I wanted to see how you’re doing.” Though he seems genuine, could that really be it? Could he just be here just because…he cares? Maybe that belongs on my list too, of things I want to be true.

 

“I’m okay,” it’s just so natural to say, I didn’t even have to think about it.

 

He looked at me for a second before seeming to decide something, “how about we exclude some words from our vocabulary.”

 

“What?” Is this like with Tony? He doesn’t want me to say I’m fine anymore.

 

“Okay, fine, alright, words like that. They don’t say anything about how you’re really doing,” he looked so serious.

 

“That makes sense.” How else can I respond? It’s not like I can say no.

 

I can’t ever say no. Even if I did no one would listen.

 

He turned to face me better, “How are you actually doing?”

 

When Bucky talks with you, you can tell his full attention is on you. It’s as if I could I actually matter to him.

 

“I’m just tired,” again, a natural response.

 

That wasn’t the answer he wanted.

 

What does he want me to say?

 

The truth, a small part of my mind supplied. But I can’t do that.

 

“How about we take that one out too, tired is too common of an excuse. How about I go first, maybe that’ll be easier. Things are actually going pretty well, me and Steve haven’t had any fights recently, I haven’t had a panic attack in a few weeks, my nightmares aren’t as frequent. I can take some of your weight, okay? I have the room, you won’t hurt me.”

 

He gets panic attacks and nightmares too?

 

What right do I have to add anymore weight to him? He’s clearly already dealing with enough, and even if he is in a good place right now that doesn’t mean I should risk ruining it.

 

I decided it’s best not to press him for more information, I’m lucky enough he trusted me with that much.

 

“I am tired, I’m so exhausted, physically and mentally,” he nodded for me to continue, “I really am trying to get better. I’m trying so hard. Today, I thought today could be a good day but my mind ruined it again. I’m so stupid, I know I don’t get good days, I don’t deserve that. My mind keeps me in check.” I said too much.

 

But he didn’t look surprised, concerned yes, but not shocked or upset or angry like I expected.

 

“What do you do when you’re so exhausted?” I watched to see where his gaze went, to see where he’d look. He looked me in the eye. I let my own gaze drop though, keeping eye contact is hard during conversations like this.

 

Part of me expected him to look at the notebook, I can only assume he saw it sticking out from under my pillow, or to my arms or legs, even though they’re covered it could just be natural to look where the damage was done. But he didn’t look anywhere but my eyes, but at me.

 

I don’t necessarily want conversations like these to end either. Because if they end, then I lose Bucky too. I'm already losing Tony, and probably the possibility of Pepper too.

 

I’m losing everyone again.

 

That’s when I noticed Bucky stare. What even was his question?

 

“Sorry…” I mumbled.

 

He didn’t seem fazed, “what’s on your mind?”

 

“I’m scared,” I answered before realizing how stupid of a response it is.

 

Once again, he looked concerned but not surprised, “what are you scared about?”

 

“I’m going to lose Tony,” it wasn’t a question.

 

He nodded, “because of the wedding?”

 

It’s easier to talk to Bucky than even Sam.

 

“Yeah…” I pretending to not notice my own voice cracking, “once he’s married he’ll be gone. He’ll just be with Pepper, but that’s how it’s meant to be, it’s right.” Though I may have sounded accepting of this fact, even I can't deny the intense force of the tears pressing against my eyes.

 

“You’re his kid, you won’t lose him.” He doesn’t understand.

 

“No, no you don’t get it,” I know I shouldn’t have said that, yet I kept talking, “everything will change. It’ll just be Tony and Pepper. And that’s great, I’m happy for him. Absolutely. But I’m also sad. And I know, I know, I have no right to be upset. But I’m still scared.”

 

“Scared to be without him?”

 

“Scared to be alone.” Again, I know I need to just shut up already, but that selfish part of me still wins, “I’ll be alone again. I know it won’t be the same as before, but this time…this time I know what I’m missing. And when Tony’s gone, I don’t really have anyone else left. I know you’ll leave too, I don’t know when but that’ll happen.”

 

He looked like he wanted to say something but I didn’t give him the chance, “I pushed everyone else away. Therapy isn’t even helping. When I was with May I used to think that if I could get a therapist maybe I could get better but now I know that not even a professional can help me. I just don't get better, that’s not how this works.”

 

Now I know, Tony is leaving goes under Things I know are true.

 

I didn't even take a full breath before I continued, it’s like Bucky caused my floodgates to open. No don’t blame him it’s my fault. I hadn’t even noticed my tears leaking from my eyes until now. I didn’t bother wiping them away.

 

“I-I’m terrified, so so terrified. When my Uncle Ben died when I was 14, that was the first time I was really alone. I had May, but that’s…complicated. I was 14 when I think I first got depression, I had all the signs. I know I won’t be with May again, but I’ll still be alone. But this time it’s like I can see Tony but he’s always out of reach. Before it was just a far off hope, a useless dream. Now I know it could be possible for me to be Tony’s son and to have a family and to be happy. But that’s just not how this works…” I covered my mouth just as sob wracked my body, instinctively trying to quiet myself.

“Come here,” Bucky whispered before pulled me into a hug.

 

“I'm scared,” I cried into his chest. The more I hear about the wedding more scared I am, because that only makes it more real. It means it really is happening soon.

 

“I know, I know,” he rubbed my back. “Listen to me okay?” I couldn't get any words out to respond but he continued anyway, “I promise you that the wedding will not make you lose Tony. And you are definitely not losing Pepper. Or me. You still have me and Steve and the rest of the team. I won’t let you be alone.”

 

For a moment, I didn’t care how childish I sounded, “You promise?”

 

“I promise?”

 

Though I know that that’s not a promise anyone can make, everyone leaves eventually, it was still comforting.

 

Chapter Text

Sometimes I want to kill the snake. But I don’t know how. I can’t cut it out of me, it’s too deep. It doesn’t drown. I don’t even know if it can die. But I want to try.

 

I’m tired of suffocating. Of the constant pressure, of it’s hold on me. I’m tired of it snapping me in half, cracking and breaking me apart. I want, I need to be able to breathe freely again.

 

Sometimes I wonder if medicine could kill it, but I also know that with my metabolism meds don’t work on me.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I was better if the snake would just fade away. But maybe it’s one of the things that keeps me from being better.

 

It wants me to die. I know that’s true.

 

But I don’t know if it’s actually capable of killing me itself. Or if the snake is just trying to make me suffer so much that I do the job for it.

 

But I know one thing, I can’t let it win. I can’t give it the satisfaction.

 

Sometimes I wonder if I can ask someone if they know how to kill the snake, but they’ll just think I’m insane.

 

I don’t even know if I’ve mentioned the snake to anyone before, or if it’s just something in my head.

 

Maybe Wanda knows.

 

Wanda was in my head, maybe she saw it?

 

If I ask, that could really backfire though. But I can’t just keep on letting it hurt me either.

 

How could I even ask? Like oh hey Wanda remember when you went in my head? Did you happen to see a snake trying to kill me? No? Well thanks, don’t tell Tony.

 

Yeah nope.

 

There are times that the snake sometimes quiets though. It’s quieter when I’m in the shower and I turn the water a little too hot and don’t bother making it cooler. It’s quieter when I ‘trip’ and get a bruise or two. It would get quieter when I would go out as Spider-Man and the criminals got a few good shots on me. It’s quieter when I cut.

 

It likes when I’m in pain.

 

But it never shuts up. It’s always telling me horrible horrible things, sometimes whispers, sometimes screams but it’s never silent. The only times it seems like it could be silent is when I cut. When I’m bleeding. When the metal quickly slices over my skin. When the red oozes out. When the sting hits me a few seconds after.

 

Though sometimes it feels almost silent when I’m with Tony or with Bucky. Mostly Tony.

 

I think the snake is Anxiety. And Anxiety wants me to die.

 

So does Depression. But I’m not sure what that is, what form it is in my mind.

 

I’m not sure if Dissociation wants me to die. I know it’s balloons but balloons aren’t bad.

 

I need something to stop them, the snake mostly, it’s the most active at the moment. Always choking me, reminding me of its presence as if I could ever forget.

 

I need something that can break the snake, tear it apart, rip it piece by piece until it can’t hurt me anymore. I need something strong, fierce, brave, resilient, but also nice for me. I need something like…like a tiger. It may be soft to my touch but that doesn’t take away how sharp it’s teeth are when it stabs it’s fangs into the flesh of the evil snake.

 

I’m not sure if I have a tiger. If I have something to refute the thoughts always berating me, something to keep me from suffocating.

 

Tony tries, he tells me my thoughts are lies and he tries to help me breathe in and out with him in and out.

 

He’s not in my head though. He doesn’t know just how loud it is. No headphones can drown out the blaring screams of my mind. No matter how much pain I may be in it’s never enough for the snake. Never.

 

Sometimes I wonder if everyone has a snake, or maybe just people like me, people whose minds try to kill them every second of every day. Or maybe it’s just a me thing, maybe it’s just one of those things.

 

I’ve thought about asking, but I don’t think that’s right. If they don’t have a snake in their head they’ll think I’m utterly insane, and if they do…well that’s too personal of a question to ask.

 

I need to figure out how to get a tiger, how to get it to protect me. Because if I have one, I don’t think it’s protecting me. The thoughts aren’t any quieter and the ideas it suggests to me are still too too tempting.

 

Maybe I do have one, and maybe it is trying to protect me. And maybe it’s just too overwhelmed. I don’t know how to help it though. In one of our ‘talks’ Sam told me that I need to try to refute the thoughts. That I don’t have to believe it yet, it doesn’t even have to be something good about me that I say back.

 

It’s really hard though. Because honestly I do believe the snake, so really it just feels like I’m feeding myself lies. Even if it’s something neutral about me that I’m trying to refute the thoughts with it still feels like a lie. I don’t know how I can ever believe it if I’m just lying to myself.

 

Tony says they aren’t lies though. That I’m not stupid, that I’m not useless, or worthless, or pathetic, or weak, broken, or a monster. I think it makes him sad that I think these things about myself. I don’t want to make Tony sad anymore.

 

I am trying though. It’s hard and slow. It’s a never ending war and I lose a lot of the battles. But I’m trying. So hard. Even if no one sees it, I’m still trying.

 

Sometimes I wonder why I’m trying, after everything. And sometimes I don’t know why. Maybe it’s for Tony, to not disappoint him. Maybe it’s for Sam, so he doesn’t think he failed me. Maybe it’s for May, to show that after everything I’m not broken. Maybe it’s for Bucky, to make him proud. Maybe it’s for me, to show that I am stronger than I ever thought possible.

 

I know I can’t kill the snake in a day, or a week, or a month, maybe not even a year, maybe not even a lifetime. But if I don’t give up, maybe it’ll at least lessen it’s hold on me.

 

Maybe it’s okay that I can’t kill the snake yet, but just knowing that I can fight it, I think that’s enough for now.

 

Chapter Text

Sometimes…the snake wins.

 

Most of the time…the snake wins.

 

But normally not like this, not this bad.

 

Normally I am able to fight back, even if it’s just a little bit. Sometimes it feels like I may actually have a tiger trying to protect me. Like I may have a chance, like it’s not just a suicide fight. In more ways than one.

 

Not this time though, god not this time.

 

I thought I was making progress. The urges have been strong still but I’ve been keeping them at bay for the most part. Well, I’ve been trying to.

 

Not this time.

 

I don’t even know why, I don’t understand. Nothing big happened. There was no huge tragic event that happened to have caused it. No, it was just the little things. Every little thing adding more and more weight to me piece by piece. I was bound to crumble eventually. I always crumble.

 

Like a sandcastle, built so high only meant to fall back apart. Only to be walked upon and smashed back into the ground, just to be built back up. Never lasting, never permanent. Just for show. Just to look good for a while, but everyone knows the water will wash it away. It will drown.

 

Normally it’s quiet, my broken pieces shattering even smaller and smaller. Smaller and smaller. Smaller and smaller. Until there’s only dust left to be washed away.

 

Not this time.

 

No, not this time. It wasn’t quiet, but it wasn’t screaming. Well…

 

It started with a nightmare. I thought my nightmares were finally getting better. No, I didn’t wake up screaming or crying, I don’t usually cry in my sleep, and I never scream. I’d like to say I know better, but rather it’s like I just can’t make a sound.

 

I know the nightmare wasn’t real, but it won’t leave my mind. It won’t just leave me alone.

 

The really bad ones never leave me alone. Every time I close my eyes it’s back, I see myself trapped again. There is no escape, no rest, you can’t get a break from your own mind.

 

And maybe the worst part is that I know it’s not real, I know it shouldn't scare me this much. It shouldn't be able to hurt me. Not this much at least.

 

In the nightmare was unusual, it wasn’t like a first person point of view, it was like I was watching myself through a camera. I didn’t have any control over my actions, I was just a bystander observing with no say in what happened. I was helpless.

 

Part of me wishes it was in first person. There are few things more helpless and powerless than watching yourself go through something horrific and not being able to do anything about it.

 

I saw a clear box, it looked as though it was made of glass. Inside the box I saw myself, or rather my body, presumably unconscious on the floor of it. The box itself wasn’t very wide, not even enough for my body to stretch out, I just laid curled in a ball. This other me, my double, my dream self, whoever he was… I didn't see a way out for him.

 

The box was tall, so very tall, with the top open. Like a tower with no roof. False hope. There was no physical harm from what I could see on my double. That doesn’t mean he’s okay. The most alarming thing about this predicament being large chains attached to each of his limbs. Yet the other end of each chain was not attached to the floor, just laying there next to the limp body.

 

Oh god the chains…

 

Slowly I started to see my dream body stir, appearing to wake up. His eyes widened upon seeing his surroundings. He attempted to uncurl himself only to feel the weights against his limbs. Even with the super strength I assume my dream self possessed, I could only watch as his muscles strained at the weight of the chains. He desperately grabbed at the chains and pulled with all his might.

 

I watched his mouth open, I can only assume he was speaking, or rather screaming, yet I couldn’t hear a sound. Again and again I watched his face and throat strain as he appeared to scream. I couldn't hear a sound.

 

There was nothing I could do but just watch my dream self struggle, panting with each pull against the binds. Even when he strained every muscle in his body the chains never even seemed to give the slightest bit. His eyes widened even more when he finally realized he couldn't pull them off himself. It was upon that realization that the metal seemed to grow thicker. His hands fell at the sudden added weight.

 

I desperately wanted to help him, but I couldn’t move, I just had to see it all happen like a horror movie.

 

Before he tried to move again he finally took the time to actually look around more. When his gaze went up he finally noticed the open ceiling.

 

I almost wish he hadn’t.

 

Even when he painstakingly forced himself into a sitting position he still tried to make himself stand. His muscles seemed to almost give out yet he kept pushing and pushing until he was standing.

 

Once he was stable, albeit leaning most of his weight against a wall, he started to try to climb up. Even though I was only watching it hurt me to see him slowly lift each limb and try to force it to stick to the walls. Each movement straining his already burning muscles even more.

 

Before his weak grasp on the walls started to waver he seemed to brace himself to fall.

 

He knows he can’t climb out.

 

The chains crashed into the ground when he fell down, he only haven reached a few feet higher than his own height, no where close to the top of the box.

 

Even when his chains appeared somehow thicker, he wasted no time to get to his next plan of escape. He started to bang on the box walls with all his strength. They did not budge. They didn’t even smudge at all. I guess they weren’t glass.

 

He has to know it won’t work.

 

It didn’t start with a drip or a small stream, no it was like a waterfall started pouring into the box. Even though part of me knew it was a dream I still felt my heart hurt upon seeing my dream version flinch when the water hit him. When I looked up there was no source in sight for where the water could be pouring from. Quicker than even I expected the liquid began to pool around his feet, already starting to succumb him.

 

Even in the depths of my nightmare I knew this didn’t make sense. Yet there was nothing me nor my double could do about it.

 

I watched his hands form fists and punch the walls with all his might, they didn’t even crack. His mouth opened again, screaming, pleading, yet I still heard no sounds.

 

It looked as though the chains were starting to get thicker, weighing even more on his body. His hands actually fell that time with the added weight.

 

I can’t blame him.

 

Then I watched my dream version start to try to climb up the box once again. No matter how many times he tried to raise his feet to place on the wall he couldn't lift them. The water already surpassed his ankles.

 

I had to stop watching him, watching me in a way, for a moment. Even when I took a deep breath I couldn’t breathe right. He shouldn’t be trapped like this.

 

It’s not fair.

 

I watched the water level rise even more. It seemed to be rising even faster. My body tried and tried to even just lift his arms to hit the wall again.

 

He’s still trying so hard.

 

The chains splashed the water each time his arms fell. With each splash, waves of water poured over his body, soaking him. Each wave of water beating him down. He fell.

 

That only weighed him down more.

 

When I watched my double struggle to even get on his hands and knees I felt my chest tighten. Before he fell, the water was already reaching his thighs, he would have to stand up quickly to get air. Guilt gnawed at me as I greedily took in deep breaths as he held his own.

 

By some miracle he once again rose to his feet. I watched his mouth open, saw the strain in his face, he must be screaming again. I couldn't hear anything.

 

Should I have expected to?

 

It was as if he was on mute. I did not hear his desperate yells, I did not hear the splashing of water or the chains scraping the bottom of the box. Not a sound.

 

The water would not cease. Every single time another waved smashed down it landed on his head, even when he moved to lean against the wall for support. Every single time he was hit he was pushed back under the water. Every single time he sunk it took him longer to rise back up.

 

I felt my chest tighten impossibly when the reality of the situation really hit me.

 

I’m going to have to watch myself die.

 

I watched my dream version pull his head out of the water with a gasp, I didn’t hear that either. The chains looked even longer than they were originally, yet they still did not appear to be attached to anything but my double.

 

The water was definitely coming in faster, already surpassing his chest. At this point he wasn’t screaming anymore, just trying to hold onto any air he could.

 

I could only watch as the water reached his neck, then his ears, his nose. I watched him take a final breath as the water covered his body completely. His movements appeared in slow motion as his weighed down limbs started to try to swim. I have no idea how his body was able to reach the surface again. It didn’t last long.

 

It never lasts long.

 

Before he could take a breath a wave of water hit him in the head, shoving him back under.

 

The water never slowed.

 

Despite the chains still on his limbs and the water still rising, he still tried to swim. Each stroke clearly draining him of whatever energy he still had.

 

Suddenly I saw people appearing around the box. They were all facing the clear box, all facing his struggling body. I watched my double try to get help, attempting to bang on the walls to catch their attention. He was trying to get them to really see him, to see his situation. I still could not see their faces.

 

They didn’t say anything, they didn’t move. They just watched.

 

One by one I saw each person turn away from the box. They did not step away, but they would not turn back around either.

 

The first person to turn their back on my dream self was May.

 

She couldn’t bare to look at him any longer.

 

The chains on his limbs appeared longer.

 

Then it was MJ. After that, Ned.

 

The chains looked thicker.

 

The weight is too much to bare.

 

The water by now had filled the box, yet did not stop pouring in, only to spill out the open top of the box.

 

Then I watched Happy turn around, away from my double in the box.

 

He still tried to swim up, but couldn't even get higher than a standing position. I watched him frantically move, unable to hit the walls anymore with the unbearable weights on him, but still trying to get them to see. He still was trying to get help. If they only could really see him, then they could see the deadly trouble he was in. Then maybe they could help him. He was practically pleading.

 

They’re all letting him drown.

 

It was Natasha to turn then. Only five people left facing him.

 

The chains grew bigger to the point where his body completely collapsed.

 

Pepper turned away that time. He tried and failed to even sit up.

 

Next it was Steve. He couldn't lift a single limb.

 

Then Sam. He lifted his head just to watch.

 

Then Bucky. He managed to lift one hand only enough to place against the wall. One last plea to be saved.

 

The last person to turn away was Tony. His hand dropped.

 

I watched the strain in his muscles. I watched how red his eyes were, if he was crying you wouldn’t see the tears as they just mix with the water around him.

 

How has he not drowned yet?

 

His head couldn't even lift from the floor. He just looked around for a moment, seeing every back turned away.

 

I watched my double open his mouth and breathe in the water. I watched him close his eyes.

 

Only then did the water start to drain. As if the bottom of the box was open the water poured out, soaking the feet of everyone surrounding the box. Only once the water was completely out of the box did everyone turn back towards it.

 

I heard them gasp his name. My name.

 

I watched them reach forward, their hands passing through the walls of the box as if they weren’t even there. They did not touch his body.

 

I heard them ask what happened. They asked why he didn’t just get out of the box. Why didn’t he just take off the chains? Why didn’t he just swim out? Why didn’t he just scream for help? Why didn’t he just keep trying to escape? Why would he just let himself drown? Why would he give up when there’s clearly so many people there to help? How could he be so selfish when they cared so much? How could he be so weak as to throw his whole life away? Why didn’t he try harder? Why did he let himself die?

 

Why did he kill himself?

 

I wish I woke up screaming, maybe then someone would hear me. I woke up with a gasp, taking in every breath like I may never be able to again. You never know when that privileged may be stolen from you.

 

I think that may just be one of those nightmares that I can never forget.




Chapter Text

I wish it was just the nightmare that screwed up my day. I’m just not that lucky.

 

Nightmares are not a new thing in any way, I’ve been getting them since I was five, but this one was so surreal…

 

I didn’t miss Tony’s worried glances he tried to hide during breakfast. I know he knows I’m not okay. Part of me just wants to break and pour it all out to him. Part of me just wants him to hold me and comfort me and tell me he’s staying. Part of me thinks I need to be like before, be silent, don’t add any more weight to him. Part of me just wants to believe Tony, that it’s okay to trust him and open up more. Part of me is too terrified.

 

People talk about the recovery. The war, the journey, how long and hard it is. But what people don’t usually talk about is not wanting to recover, and the fear of recovery.

 

I didn’t used to want to get better. It was only recently that I realized that I really do want to get better. Well, for the most part.

 

There’s a million reasons why recovery can be so terrifying.

 

Because I deserve it, I deserve the pain and suffering.

 

It’s easier. It’s so much easier to give in and drown than it is to try to swim.

 

I knew I would fail. I can’t do this on my own.

 

If I ever recover, I would be irrelevant. No one would care anymore. They wouldn’t be here for me to listen or talk or anything. I wouldn’t technically need them anymore. But I do need them. I need them so badly it aches.

 

It seemed pointless. Because even if I recovered how could I ever last without at least one relapse?

 

There is no certainty that it’s even possible. I could try so so hard and never be better. That’s what’s happening now.

 

And if I’m better, if all the screwed up parts of me were gone, were healed then what’s left? Is there anything other than the monster that I am? Who even am I if I’m not depressed and anxious and suicidal and self-destructive? Will I be better or just a few parts trying to fill in the gaping holes of who I was? Who even was I before everything happened? I’m definitely not the same person and I don’t think I want to be.

 

If I’m ‘better’ and I have a bad day, who will believe me? It’ll just look like I made this whole thing up. I didn’t. I didn’t make this up, it’s real. It’s real and it’s so scary.

 

I’m still scared.

 

The idea that everyone actually thinks I’m faking everything still takes the breath from my lungs sometimes. I can’t tell if the snake loves or hates that idea.

 

It may have been my nightmare that started my day horribly but it was a sentence that really pushed me into the no returns area. Sometimes it’s not just one thing to shoot me down, sometimes it’s just a million little things tearing me apart. Not this time. No, I have the little things and the one big thing. I’m just that lucky.

 

I not only get a god awful nightmare but I also woke up to the realization that Tony and Pepper’s wedding is only in a month now and then of course is that stupid sentence. I should have just stayed in bed.

 

“Oh Underoos, I forgot to tell you, we gotta go get your suit fitted for the wedding,” he said it so casually between bites of our waffle breakfast.

 

His casual tone did nothing to soothe my anxiety. A fitting means taking off my clothes and being trapped in a room with a stranger and being touched and oh god I can’t do this. I can’t. I just can’t.

 

“Kid, talk to me, I can see you’re upset,” his voice got quieter even though no one else was around.

 

“I don’t wanna go,” I didn’t mean for the words to come out in a whimper.

 

“Okay,” just by his tone I could tell he didn’t understand.

 

I took a shaky breath, staring down at my breakfast rather than at him, “I don’t want to take my clothes off…”

 

I watched the blood drain from his face. Before he could find a response I continued, “I know it’s stupid, I know it shouldn’t freak me out so much but like I just-I just can’t do it.”

 

“Hey, hey, it’s not stupid. It’s a trigger, you can’t control that. I’m sorry I didn’t think about how the fitting would affect you.

 

I shook my head as I said “no, that’s not your job to have to deal with my triggers.”

 

He gave me a sad smile, “Kid I’m your dad, it is my job. I am here to support you and help you work through this kind of stuff.”

 

I finally looked up at him, “I’m so scared.”

 

I watched as he stood up, made his way around the table, and pulled me into a hug, “I know Pete, I know. I’m here.”

 

If it were not but me biting down on my lip I would have cried right there. I’ve cried in front of him enough already.

 

Without letting go of me he broke the comfortable silence we fell into, “we’ll figure this out, okay?” I nodded into his chest. “Would you rather have the fitting here in the compound rather than at the shop?”

 

I-I don’t know. I don’t want to associate my home with something so so triggering. But being in an unknown place would just put me on edge even more.

 

“I don’t know,” I mumbled. If I don’t tell him what I'm thinking he can’t help, can he? “I don’t want it to happen here, I don’t want to feel unsafe here. But being at a seamstress or whatever would be so uncomfortable too.”

 

He nodded, “that makes sense.” It does? “Why don’t we go there then, to the tailor? I’ll stay with you the whole time if you want.”

 

I managed a nod, attempting at a deep breath. God I don’t want to do this.

 

 

Oh god oh god oh god oh god oh god-

 

“It’s over Pete.”

 

No it’s not. It’s not it’s not it’s not it’s never over I have to come again the suit didn’t fit.

 

“I’m so sorry kid…”

 

I didn’t mean to flinch away when he touched my hand. Oh god my hands are shaking.

 

She touched me. She touched me so much I didn’t-I don’t want her touching me, I don’t want anyone I don’t trust touching me. Please don’t touch me, please please please.

 

“I’m here. I’m here, I’m not leaving.”

 

She saw, I know she saw.

 

The tailor place didn’t have doors they just had curtains. Which was good and horrific at the same time. I guess Pepper had ordered me a suit already and we just had to get it altered but-but oh god.

 

Tony said he’d be there. He said he'd stay.

 

I tried to be so careful. I closed the curtain as much as I could and I even made sure to dress as close to the wall as possible so that no one could see me through the curtains. But she-the tailor, she walked in on me. She just opened the curtains wide and saw me when I was just in my underwear about to put on the pants. When she walked in, all I saw was May locking me in the bathroom with her as she checked my cuts.

 

The tailor had to have seen my scars, she looked right at me.

 

“It’s over now.”

 

I’m going to have to go through it again. And if it doesn’t fit that time I’ll have to go again. It will never end, will it?

 

“How are you feeling, Peter?” Tony asked, desperate to get any kind of response from me.

 

It was such a simple question. All I had to say was ‘I’m okay’. I say it all the time even though I know it’s not true. I never believe it. It’s just such an easy way out, it hides a million emotions in just two words. A lie.

 

It was like I didn’t have control of my mouth. It was like I wasn’t me for a moment.

 

“I want to smash my head on the floor.”

 

It’s a thought I never dare to say aloud. At least, not aloud again. I didn’t even realize I had even said it until I heard Tony’s breath catch in his throat.

 

“Pete-” he took a shaky breath, never taking his eyes off me.

 

It’s a thought I have quite often. One time I said it to Ned but he thought I was joking. Just one of those self-hating jokes so common nowadays. But it’s not a joke.

 

It’s not funny just how often I think about the sound of my head cracking against the floor. I think about how much it would hurt, how much blood would drip out of my head, how many times it would take to bleed. I think if I would give up with just one hit, if it would only take once. I think about how loud it would be, if the smack would echo through my head. I think about how long it would take for me to pass out, that if I break my head maybe my mind will finally break along with it. Maybe the thoughts would crash to a stop. Maybe I can finally have some silence.

 

I see it all so vividly. I think about how easy it would be, how quick it could be.

 

I promise I didn’t mean to say it aloud.

 

Tony just sat there for a second, gaping at me.

 

Oh god oh god oh god oh god did I really just say that?

 

Before I could start spewing desperate apologies his voice sounded, “god Peter.” He’s mad at me, I ruined it, I knew I would. He’s so upset and disappointed and disguised and- he pulled me into a hug. Which was awkward since we were already in the car, but a hug is a hug.

 

“I’m here and I’m not letting you go.”

 

I vigorously shook my head ‘no’, “let me go. Just let me go,” I begged.

 

“Peter-”

 

“No, please, I’m not worth it, I’m too much. You’d be happier if I wasn’t here.”

 

“No, no , kid. I would not be happier without you, how-” he took another shaky breath, “I would never and could never be happier without you. I know it’s hard for you to believe but it’s true. I promise it’s true.”

 

“I’m sorry…” the tears finally came.

 

“Please, please don’t be sorry. I’m proud of you.”

 

I actually choked on my own sob. The shock of his statement sent me into a coughing fit. Red faced and out of breath after the fit subsided I asked, “what?”

 

He watched for a second to make sure I wouldn’t choke again before answering, “you were honest. You told me you were scared to come and you told me that you’re feeling self-destructive. I’m proud of you for coming to me instead of bottling it up.

 

I don’t understand how he could be proud of me. I’m sitting here crying because I had a suit fitting, I’m pathetic.

 

“We’ll work through this, together. I’m not leaving.”

 

He hasn’t left yet, even though he has every reason to. He has no reason to stay, to keep me, to listen, yet he does. So could that mean he’s right, that he’s staying?

 

I want to believe it.

 

Chapter Text

“The truth will set you free.”

 

I don’t know why but the quote suddenly popped into my head, and it refuses to just pop back out.

 

The truth didn’t set me free, did it? It all started with the truth, after months of lie after lie after lie after lie after lie… I never thought they would end.

 

Everything started when, for some reason that I still wonder why about, I decided to tell the truth on that mandatory depression test in health. Well it was mostly the truth, I lied on a few questions. The last question asked if you needed to talk to someone. I said no. I lied. My counselor talked with me anyway. He took me out of class, I can still feel everyone’s eyes burning into the back of my head as I walked to the door where he stood, waiting. I never spoke in that class, that wasn’t my place.

 

My place was the back, silent and obedient. My classmates knew I never broke a rule. Sometimes I wonder if they knew why he called me out of class.

 

He didn’t bring me down to his office at first. He just closed the classroom door, my depression test results printed out in his hand. He went through every question, saying that with the answers I gave, there’s a chance I have depression. But I already knew that. I’ve read about the signs and symptoms of depression more than I would like to admit. I have taken every single free online depression test I could get my hands on, multiple times. I watched as the results all said moderate depression, to, a few months later, severe depression and to get help immediately. I never listened to that last part.

 

That’s when I lied. Again. I lied straight to my school counselors face as he read my answers back to me. I denied them all, knowing they were painfully, suffocatingly true.

 

Then it was that one question, that one god awful question… no one, at that point, had ever asked me it so directly before.

 

It wasn’t even on the test, he just decided to ask. I wasn’t ready.

 

I just…I couldn’t, I just couldn’t lie.

 

“You’ve never self-harmed, right?” He smiled a bit as he said it, even laughed a little, I knew it was just part of the routine. It was mandatory to ask. He never thought I wouldn’t be able to deny it.

 

I couldn’t really tell the truth either. “Sorta.”

 

“Sorta? What does that mean?” He immediately sobered up, not a hint of lightheartedness left in his features.

 

That’s when my answer started to sink into us both, “a little? Not much, it’s not bad, really.” I was practically pleading with the man, staring up at him. He was at least a foot taller than me, but in that moment he seemed a hundred feet taller.

 

“Let’s go down to my office.”

 

My instincts screamed to keep talking, fix it, try to downplay it as much as I could. But the damage was already done. He knew the truth.

 

Sometimes I wonder what would have happened if I just lied on that depression test. I knew the right answers. No I have not lost interest in things I used to love, no I have not been constantly tired no matter how much I may rest, etc.

 

All I had to do was keep lying. I had been doing it for months, it would have been so easy.

 

I think part of me wanted someone to see. Part of me didn't want to stay invisible. Part of me wanted to matter. Part of me wanted someone to save me.

 

I know better now, no one’s coming to save me. It’s my job to save myself, others may try to help along the way but that’s not their job. I am the only one obligated to save me. Is it even an obligation or is it a courtesy to myself?

 

In the lobby of the counselors office was a boy from my English class, I refused to meet his eyes as I walked past him.

 

I did not sit down right away upon walking in, I lingered, as if there was any possibility of escape left.

 

He closed the door and all I could do was try to breathe like a normal person. I’m just not normal though, for a plethora of reasons.

 

He gifted me a few seconds to breathe, in and out, in and out, in and out, in, in and-and I can’t do it, in and oh my god I’m so stupid, I need out I can’t get out I can’t I can’t I can’t I can’t-

 

He broke the crushing silence, “What did you mean ‘sorta’?”

 

“It’s not bad, I haven’t done it much,” lie, lie, lie, wrong answer, that’s not what he wants to hear.

 

“What do you mean? Like cutting?” He really was trying to understand and I was not doing him any favors.

 

I didn’t dare meet his gaze, I couldn't, “yeah…”

 

Then the realization hit me. “Please don’t tell my aunt,” I didn’t care that it came out as a pathetic beg.

 

He appeared almost sympathetic, almost, “you can’t ask me to do that.” I did not really understand that statement until later on.

 

That was when I finally looked him in the eye, “Please don’t tell her…”

 

“I need to.” I vaguely remembered a boringly long slideshow at the beginning of the school year about the school counselors. How they legally must tell a parent or guardian if the student is a danger to themself, others, or is someone is a danger to them. I think the only reason I remembered was because I considered reaching out to my counselor for help, but immediately decided against it upon realizing he would tell May.

 

“Please don’t tell her, please. Can you call my family friend Tony instead, he would be a lot better.” I really was not above begging.

 

He looked more confused than anything, “since Tony does not have guardianship over you I can not tell him instead of your aunt.”

 

“It won’t go well…” I had no idea then just how horrific it would be.

 

My counselor did not have a response to that.

 

“What are you going to tell her?” I asked, knowing he wouldn’t change his mind no matter how much I begged.

 

“Just about the test, that we talked about it, and what you told me about the cutting.” He made it sound so simple. Like it would not destroy everything I knew.

 

I did not find out until later that he also told May that I didn't want him to call her, that I asked him to call Tony instead.

 

By the time he let me out of his office I had missed the rest of my class and lunch was already almost over. The conversation seemed to last an eternity yet the rest of life moved forward like nothing happened.

 

As soon as I walked into the cafeteria I knew I needed to get a hold of Happy. He was my only chance. If he could pick me up after school then I would have time before seeing May, I would have time to gather my thoughts and mentally prepare myself.

 

No amount of time could have prepared me.

 

I started off trying to be polite, even though I so desperately wanted to just cry.

 

Hey Happy, is it possible for you to be able to pick me up after school today?

 

I added a Please for good measure.

 

I waited a minute before I typed more.

 

Please Happy, I really need to be picked up.

 

He read my texts. Or at least he saw them, he opened up my messages.

 

He did not respond.

 

I watched the minutes pass, the precious few minutes left of lunch before I had to go to class and put my phone away. I did not even bother to go sit at my table, I just paced up and down the lunch room. No one paid me any mind, as if I didn’t even exist. In that moment, I wished I didn’t.

 

Happy would you be able to just call after school?

 

I mean like, if you can’t pick me up can I call you? Please? I really need to talk.

 

I knew how desperate I sounded, I just couldn’t find it in me to care.

 

Happy I really need to talk.

 

Please.

 

Please.

 

I’m not okay.

 

The bell sounded, the official end of the speck of hope I clung to.

 

The rest of the day could not go slow down even if you shot it with a horse tranquilizer. I checked my phone between every class. Nothing from Happy.

 

Nothing from May.

 

By the time the end of the day passed and I was walking down the front steps of the school I was just hoping the snake would just end me right there. That I wouldn’t have to face May, watch her cry. That I wouldn’t be in pain any longer, it would be better off for everyone.

 

The snake did not end me there.

 

Happy, please pick me up. I know I'm a pain and I'm annoying you but I really need to be picked up. Please?

 

He finally read my texts. I held my breath, not that it made much of a difference, but no reply came.

 

As I tried to think of other options for how to not go to May’s apartment my phone buzzed.

 

It was May. She wanted me home.

 

The entire walk home I listened for my phone, praying for Happy to text back. He never did.

 

The truth did not set me free.

 

I told the truth and I had a meeting about my mental health.

 

I told the truth and my counselor called May.

 

I told the truth and I’m alone now.

 

The truth did not set me free.

 

The truth got me locked in a room with my clothes off with a woman I do not trust.

 

The truth got me pissed at my school counselor for not listening to me when I said it would not go well with May.

 

The truth got me locked in a bathroom trying to cut the snake out of me.

 

The truth got me jumping off a bridge.

 

The truth locked me in a room.

 

The truth made me more trapped than I have ever been.

 

But then… but then Tony came. He came and picked me up.

 

The truth got me to Tony.

 

The truth got me to be adopted by someone who truly loves me.

 

The truth is a key. A key that can either lock you in or unlock the door to free you. My key did both.

Chapter Text

I do not remember my biological mother. That’s just how it is.

 

I used to actually think May was like a mother to me.

 

I believe that’s one of the biggest lies she ever taught me. Yes, she raised me. But she is not my mother. She raised me to be afraid. To be afraid of her. Of her words. Her touches. Her screams. Her crying. Her everything. She taught me to be guilty. Guilty for spending too much money. Guilty for eating too much food. Guilty for wasting too much of her time. Guilty for being too much.

 

She taught me to hate myself. She never told me so blatantly. She said it how she used to refuse to buy me clothes of the correct size. She claimed I could never really be that size. She said it in how she would yell at me for being angry. She would yell at me for being scared. She would yell at me for being sad. She would yell at me for being happy. She said it in how I couldn’t leave my room in fear of her yelling at me for bothering her. She would say it in how she never listened, never. She would say it in how she would make me take my clothes off. I never want anyone to see my body again.

 

Except I know she would never admit any of these facts are true.

 

Sometimes I think of Pepper as like my mom.

 

It’s in the little things, like how she remembers that I only like sweatshirts with drawstrings, and that I find brown with green undertones the most useless color to draw with. It’s in how she remembers I love the flavor of French onion soup but I don’t like the actual onions, she remembers that the only kind of chips I like are tortilla chips.

 

It is in how she is not embarrassed or angry to order for me at restaurants if I am too anxious. In how she knows just the right things to say, and not to say. In how I never had to tell her I hate the phrases ‘calm down’, ‘get over it’, ‘be happy’, ‘cheer up’, she just knows never to say them. It’s in how even when I can tell she’s exhausted and overworking herself, she still makes time to ask how I’m doing, how I’m really doing.

 

It is in how even with the wedding coming up and running Stark Industries, she still makes time for me. In how she offers to do special outings, just the two of us, and still understands when I just can’t do it mentally. It’s in how she’s willing to do anything for me, everything from making food I like, to being here whenever I need her.

 

It’s in how she looks at me, eyes so full of love, compassion, and care. It’s in that sweet smile, I haven’t even seen her give a smile like that to Tony. It’s a look I can only really describe as like a mother looking at her child.

 

Today is one of those outings, and today..I think today will be an okay day. I hope. Of course the snake is here, it’s always here, but he’s not worse than normal today. My thoughts are more of a nagging whisper than the intolerable screams they’ve been.

 

I’m not even sure where we are going, though I know both Tony and Pepper can in fact keep a secret when they really want to. Not everything is the whole “I am Iron Man” loose lips ordeal.

 

Except, the thought of not knowing where I’m going is not eating me alive this time. I know better now, I know Pepper is not going to bring me to a suffocatingly crowded place without telling me.

 

I would think that with the wedding being so so soon she would dedicate all her time to the final details of that, but it seems more than ever she is fighting to be here with Tony and I. Will this be what it’s like when they’re married? If it is, maybe I don’t have as much to worry about then.

 

I do not want to worry. I do not want to be panicked about the unknown, and the known. I want to just enjoy the moment. Every moment. But for now, I’ll just focus on trying to live in this moment right now, me and Pepper.

 

It is still almost strange to see Pepper wearing clothes that are not dress clothes and shoes that are not heels. Though, she still looks just as put together with her hair in a neat ponytail and shoes, clearly warn in yet still clean and shiny.

 

“I bet we’re going to a disco club.” Sometimes I have no idea where my stupid thoughts come from, but Pepper laughed at my dumb joke and that’s what matters.

 

“It’s definitely a disco club,” Pepper laughed, to which I smiled back.

 

Moments like this make me want to smile forever. Moments were I’m just like a normal teen, with a great family and can go out and joke and laugh and be happy. It's moments like this I wonder if this is what it’s like to be healed, to just live life not weighed down by a snake trying to strangle you and thoughts not trying to drown you.

 

It was only once Pepper parked the car that I questioned where we were.

 

“Why are we at an art store?”

 

She shrugged, “I figured you could use some new supplies.” Her shrug did nothing to hide her somehow simultaneously mischievous and deeply caring smile.

 

“But this, this is the most expensive store in New York?” My eyes must have looked as big as frisbees looking through the windows to see the endless rows of markers and pencils and paper.

 

“Don’t worry about prices, just pick out what you want,” she said it like it’s no big deal. Though I’ve been living with Tony for a while I really have tried not to take advantage of his wealth. I have been eating two, occasionally three, meals a day which is more than I ever ate at Mays, but besides that I really have tried not to ask for much. I never expected something like this.

 

“I don’t even know where to start.” I’ve just been using a school notebook and some pencils for my art, nothing fancy like any of this. “Can I just look around first?”

 

She laughed lightly, “That’s why we came Pete,” I smiled back.

 

First I walked down the paper section, Pepper following, browsing the different textures and thicknesses. I tried to refrain from running my fingers over every pad of paper, not wanting to tarnish the expensive material. The only item that really stood out was the pad of black paper, ideas already buzzing through my head of all the unique possibilities. I didn’t pick it up though.

 

The paint section was next, I never really got into liquid watercolors though so it was just a quick look around before moving to the pencil aisle. Or should I say, aisles.

 

The greedy part of me wanted to take one of every single pencil, but I only gingerly picked up a few and tested them on the provided tester papers.

 

“You like the pencils do you?” Just by her tone I could tell she was genuinely curious.

 

It was almost hard to pry my eyes away from the glorious selection of utensils to look at my mom. I mean Pepper. To look at Pepper.

 

“I do yeah, it’s easy to get nice gradients and values. I have always wanted to try nice alcohol based markers though. They’re so expensive though.” I shouldn’t have said that.

 

I could tell she didn’t know what I meant by ‘alcohol based markers’ but she asked, “do they have those here?”

 

Only the biggest selection I have ever seen.

 

“Yeah, yeah they do.”

 

“Do you want to go look at those then?”

 

I nodded, starting to put the pencils I picked up back in their respective holders before she stopped me, “we can get those if you want, you don’t have to put them away.”

 

My eyebrows furrowed, “are you sure? It’s okay, I know it’s a lot of money and-”

 

I didn’t mind that she cut me off, “Pete, it’s okay, that’s why we came, so you can pick out the supplies you want.”

 

“But why? I mean, it’s not like I’m not grateful, I am. I am so so grateful, thank you, but I just don’t understand why. It’s not my birthday and I’m okay with the pencils I have, why are you bringing me here now?” I still sometimes fail at cutting my rambles short.

 

“Well firstly, I thought it would be good to get you out of the house for a bit,” she joked a little before turning more serious, “and I figured it would be good for you to be more encouraged with something you love to do. If you enjoy art then Tony and I want to help you improve and if new supplies are what it takes then we’re happy to. It’s not like you ask for much anyway.” I try so hard not to ask for too much.

 

“Plus I love you and I want to help you be happier.” She said it like it did not make my world stop for a moment.

 

“You love me?” I didn’t dare breath, not risking breaking the moment.

 

I’ve been able to see for a while how she looks at me, that she looks at me with love but it’s so much more real to hear her say the words.

 

“Of course I love you Peter. I’ve only loved you more and more as we’ve spent more time together,” truth bled through her words.

 

I blinked back the happy and relieved tears, “is-is it okay if I..if I um..may I hug you?”

 

She laughed, she had tears in her eyes too, “yes of course, you can always hug me.”

 

She pulled me into a warm hug.

 

I said it in a whisper only she could hear, “I love you too.”

 

She gave me one last squeeze before we parted.

 

Wiping her eyes, “ready to get some markers?”

 

“Yeah,” I couldn’t keep the smile out of my voice.

 

Pepper actually loves me.

 

The thought alone kept the smile on my face.

 

I only got lost once trying to remember where the markers were kept.

 

Wow.

 

Yeah I knew the store was huge with an even bigger selection but wow. Row after row after rack after rack just filled with markers. I just started testing any and every color that stood out to me, mostly reds and blues. Some yellows to go with the red too.  

 

“What about these?” Pepper picked up a pack of brush tipped markers.

 

“Those are good quality but I prefer alcohol based over water based. I used to have a few cheap alcohol based markers but they dried out and I couldn’t afford the high quality ones.”

 

She put the pack back, “why do you like the alcohol based better?”

 

I’ve gotten better at answering simple questions like these, “they’re better for layering I think. They don’t make the paper bead up like water based markers do, which is good for blending because blending with markers, depending on your technique, can take a lot of layers of ink.”

 

She actually looked impressed, “you know a lot about these.”

 

“I mean, yeah I guess. I used to watch marker reviews online a lot.”

 

Pepper picked out a few colors and tested them on the paper pads, “wait does that say seven dollars for a marker? A single marker?”

 

“Yeah,” I laughed, “It’s seven dollars each. That’s why I could never get any.”

 

“How could a marker be that much?” her eyes were so wide, it’s kinda strange to see her being so loose and expressive. It’s nice.

 

“Well I think for these in particular it’s thanks to the nibs. Brush tipped markers in general are more expensive than a bullet nib, but these are really high quality. And with this brand you can buy replacement ink cartridges so you don’t have to buy an entire new maker every time”

 

“What’s a bullet nib?” She asked.

 

“Oh,” I grabbed a different marker, and opened it revealing the bullet nib, “it’s small, good for details. Most double sided markers come with a chisel nib,” I capped that end and opened the other side to reveal the chisel nib, “which is good for filling larger areas.”

 

Her eyebrows still raised, “I never knew there was so much to learn about markers.”

 

“Oh I could stop if you don’t want me to keep rambling,” I’m talking too much.

 

“No, no, Pete it’s okay. I like hearing you talk.” How can she be so sweet?

 

I can’t remember the last time I’ve smiled this much for so long, “Thank you.”

 

“Absolutely,” she tested out a deep blue color. “What do you think of this one?”

 

“It’s nice,” I answered as I tested a yellow, a similar shade to my decathlon jacket.

 

She held onto the marker, “it’s a similar color to a dress I wore once. Tony said that’s the night he really fell for me.” Now that smile, that’s the smile she saves for Tony.

 

“I didn’t know that. I do love the color,” it’s fascinating watching people talk about the people they love, watching their eyes grow distant, almost in a trance. For a moment they’re floating in memories and emotions, they’re somehow both weightless and weighed down by the longing of wanting to be with them. It’s a beautiful kind of contradiction. The small smile that graces their lips is the kind you hardly ever have the privilege to see but oh is it precious.

 

“So,” she changed topics, “would you rather get a set or just pick out what colors you want? Or some of both?”

 

How on earth can she be so generous?

 

“I mean…” do I be greedy or just get the pencils and go?

 

“What did I say about worrying about money? You don’t need to worry about it right now.” She wasn’t actually mad, more of a playful chide.

 

“A set would be good, if that's okay. Would I also be able to get one of those blue markers? The one that’s the color of the dress?” I decided.

 

She nodded, “yes of course. Pick out whatever set you want then we can circle back and get some pads of paper, I saw you eyeing them earlier,” she winked.

 

Yep, this is the woman Tony fell in love with. And I love her like a mom. And she loves me too.

Chapter Text

Even after knowing each other for so long, Tony still unceremoniously flinched away when the portal suddenly appeared in his lab.

 

“What was that for! You couldn’t have notified me before infiltrating my home?” More than a few colorful words made their way between his shouts.

 

Stephen Strange dared to chuckle as he waltzed right in, as if he owned the place, “calm down Stark, I’m here to check on Peter.”

 

Tony’s annoyance quickly turned to concern, “why?”

 

“It’s routine, I am a doctor you know,” Stephen made it sound like a doctor just trespassing into your house is a normal occurrence. Not even for Tony Stark is it normal. “It’s been a few months, I wanted to see how Peter’s been doing with his legs and concussion.

 

Tony shook his head, “you already cleared him, you said he’d be fine.”

 

Stephen sighed, “I also came with a message from Helen. She never forgot about Peter, neither of us did.” He actually had a small smile on his face when he said it. For a moment, Stephen didn’t sound like the cold doctor most saw, but as a man who really does care.

 

Though that made Tony smile, he couldn’t get sidetracked, “You portled here to say he made an impact on you guys? That can’t be all.”

 

“It isn’t,” he sighed again, “she requested my help in trying to make medications that can work for Peter. Specifically for physical pain, anxiety, and depression.”

 

Tony’s eyebrows raised, “did you get any results?”

 

“Nothing that’s strong enough to help him without risking him accidentally overdosing. We’re still trying though.”

 

It was Tony’s turn to sigh, “nothing about the kid makes it easy, does it?” There was still a clear fondness in his tone, past the exhaustion.

 

Then a thought occurred to him, “you don’t have to make up excuses just to see Peter, you know,” Tony smiled.

 

“I didn’t make anything up,” though the doctors tone was believable, he still smiled. “Will I be able to see Peter?”

 

“Yeah, yeah he’s just hanging out with Barnes. He hasn’t had too much time with him though lately, but they should be done in a bit.”

 

 

Since getting my markers the inspiration just seemed to grow with each sketch. It’s a feeling I haven’t had in…well I’m not sure how long. Normally I either have inspiration but no motivation or motivation but no inspiration. It’s a relieving change to be able to just draw .

 

The peak of my creativity, I deemed, was scrolling through my phone and finding some of the more aesthetically pleasing photos I’ve taken, I had been able to get my old photos onto this phone from my old one, and then attempting to draw them.

 

Bucky’s here. And it’s nice. We aren’t talking, but just doing our own things. He’s reading and I’m drawing, and it’s the most comfortable kind of silence I could think of. Though none of my drawings turn out well it’s still fun, surprisingly. That small part of me that ironically usually hides, that little confident part, decided to show Bucky the drawing I was working on.

 

“Keep going,” he would say, “do the things you enjoy while you have the energy to do it.”

 

It’s an outline of the city with a sunset shooting out behind it. Well a cartoony and abstract attempt at it. I’ve never understood at all how people can draw anything realistic. My art style, I guess, isn’t even really like animation, it’s just cartoony and abstract and kind of weird. The only somewhat realistic things I can draw is suit design ideas and even that is not proportional whatsoever.

 

I don’t mind though, that my art style is more abstract. It actually makes my chest feel a little less tight to have something that it’s okay to not be perfect. Something that it’s okay if it’s messy and weird and imperfect and maybe not what people want and like me.

 

I couldn’t help but shoot my head up at the sudden knocking at my bedroom door.

 

“It’s Tony,” he answered my unasked question, “I’m here with a friend.”

 

A friend? Why does he always have to be so vague, who is that supposed to be? Pepper? No she’s more my mom than a friend. Steve? Steve would just come here on his own though, wouldn't he? He wouldn’t need Tony to chaperone. Happy? Why would be come visit me though? Wanda? I haven’t talked to her in a little while, I should.

 

Oh my god.

 

I have multiple friends, I actually have multiple friends now. Right? Yeah, yeah they stayed so they likely care. That makes sense, right? Yeah it does, it does, I actually have multiple friends. Wow.

 

That thought actually succeeded in making me smile, even despite my slight nervousness of not knowing who’s behind the door.

 

Bucky stood up behind me as I got up to go open the door. I did not succeed in hiding my shock upon seeing who was there, “Doctor Strange? Wha-what are you doing here?” I quickly backed up to let him in my room.

 

“Just wanted to check in with you,” he smiled at me.

 

“Oh?” I really was not expecting that , “that’s nice of you,” I tried to smile back at him but I just, I really don’t understand.

 

Why would he want to see me? We barely know each other. Our only real interaction was when he took care of me after I attempted. What reason would be have to see me when I’m physically fine?

 

My dad peered over Doctor Strange’s shoulder, “he missed you kiddo.” He missed me?

 

“You say that as if it’s some horrible concept,” Strange retorted.

 

To which Tony chuckled back, “you missing someone isn’t horrible but it's an unusual concept.”

 

Rolling his eyes, Doctor Strange turned back to me, “so how are you doing, Peter?”

 

“I’m okay,” I responded automatically, ignoring the gazes from Bucky and my dad, I know better than to just say ‘I’m okay’ , “I’m pretty good, I was just drawing with Bucky.”

 

What am I supposed to do? Are the four of us supposed to just stand here? Are we supposed to sit down? I have my bed and a desk chair but three people on a bed is kinda a lot but two people on the bed and one in the chair and one standing is just weird and I don’t want to make this any more weird. Why am I so weird?

 

“You like to draw?” I almost forgot I was actively trying to talk to Doctor Strange.

 

I nodded as I responded, “yeah, yeah I love drawing. I’m not very good at it but it’s fun.” It’s all or nothing with me isn’t it, I say nothing at all our I shoot out my jumble of words like a garden hose. It seems I do more of the talking too much rather than the talking too little nowadays. I don’t know which is worse anymore.

 

He kept the conversation going, “what do you like to draw?” The practically-a-wizard asked me.

 

“Just sketches I guess, not really anything in particular.” I really suck at continuing on conversations.

 

“I’m glad you found something you enjoy,” then he turned to business, “have you had any problems with pain in your head or legs since I cleared you?”

 

I shook my head, “no, no nothing.”

 

His look he gave me was almost calculating, I tried not to squirm, “please feel free to let me know if anything occurs. Even if it’s not about your head or legs, you can always reach out,” though his words were actually very generous. “I apologize, I should be heading out. Thank you for letting me step in.”

 

“As if you asked for an invitation,” Tony joked, surprisingly getting one last smile from the Doctor.

 

With that he gave a last goodbye and turned around. Though when he turned he didn’t walk through the door but through a golden portal to who knows where.