Peter was late. At least an hour late. And by late that was taking into account Peter-time.
This wasn’t something that was unusual these days. Peter hadn’t been great in that regard before the bite, but now he was a million times worse. It didn’t even matter if Ned had seen him only five minutes before hand, Peter made arriving late an art form. Ned understood why that was of course. He was the guy-in-the-chair and he was going to support Spiderman as long as he had too. But it didn’t make waiting any more fun.
Ned glanced at the clock again. It had definitely been over an hour now. The new Lego set he’d gotten for his birthday was staring at him, taunting him, just begging to be opened. But Peter was just as excited about this set too, and Peter had promised he’d be here.
“Where are you Peter?” He muttered under his breath, the frustration pouring out of him.
Usually when he was going to be super late Peter would get his suit lady to at least message him. Well sometimes anyway, about six times out of ten. And that part sucked too, because it meant he didn’t know if the lack of message was because Peter had gotten distracted, was in the middle of saving someone, hurt, or had just plain forgotten. Maybe he needed to get his hands on the suit again and find a way to force Karen to update him a bit more often.
It was a better plan then trying to get Peter to see sense.
The credits rolled for Brooklyn 99 for the third superfluous time, as he’d only put it on while waiting for Peter to finally show up. He wasn’t really watching, and since this was at least the twentieth time he’d watched this show that was the exact purpose. The next episode was just auto-starting when there was a noise at his window. Ned considered pausing it, but he’d seen Peter crawl through his window enough times that he was desensitized to it.
The rustling on the other side of the window continued long enough that Ned wondered if it wasn’t in fact Peter, but a burglar or someone else seedy; a thought that was instantly dispelled once a familiar red spandex hand appeared underneath the window. Ned nonchalantly continued to shovel popcorn into his mouth as Spiderman tumbled into his room over the windowsill in the least graceful motion Ned had seen Spiderman perform. It was reminiscent of pre spider-bite Peter and that made Ned laugh a little.
“That was beautiful dude. 10/10. Graceful, just like a gazelle,” he said as Spiderman stood up.
The eyes of the mask narrowed a little as Peter flipped him off.
“I’d like to see you do better,” he replied, and the voice that came from the mask was odd in a way Ned couldn’t immediately place. It wasn’t the lowered voice Peter used as Spiderman or the faint muffling that came from wearing a mask.
Before Ned could figure it out Peter took the mask off. His face was flushed and weirdly pale but he turned away before Ned could get a good look. Ned reached for the remote to pause the show while Peter changed out of his suit and into the spare set of clothes he kept in Ned’s bedroom. After he’d lost his third backpack near Ned’s building, and a memorable two occasions when Peter had come straight over after leaving his place as Spiderman and Ned’s Mum had almost walked in on them, they had decided that it was best that Peter just leave a couple of changes with Ned in his spare backpack.
“So, what kept you?” Ned asked as he started scrolling through the Netflix movie options.
“Few robberies, had to get a cat out of a tree, uh, stuff like that that,” Peter responded. His voice was muffled by his shirt over his face and sounded gravelly.
“Oh,” Ned replied, not really satisfied with that answer but not really wanting to push it further either. Very exciting things Peter normally told him about, and dangerous things he was cagey about. This patrol sounded like it was neither.
“Hey Ned, why is it so cold in here?” Peter asked in the same odd voice once he was done changing, stuffing his suit into his spare backpack.
“Because it’s not?” Ned blinked. He’d been inside all day and had been fairly comfortable. “Why is it cold out or something?”
Peter shrugged. “Dunno, had the heater on in my suit.”
“Your suit has a heater? That’s so cool!” Ned replied.
Peter made a noncommittal noise as he joined Ned on the bed he was currently using as a couch and flopped down next to him, half lying down with his feet on the floor and an arm over his face. He looked exhausted, making Ned think his initial estimate was wrong.
“So, rough patrol huh?” Ned asked.
Peter shrugged again. “It wasn’t too bad,” he answered in a croak without elaborating any further.
“What’s up with you? You sick or something?” Ned asked in disbelief.
Peter lifted him arm up a bit and looked back at his friend.
“No, don’t think so,” he replied in the most unconvincing voice. “I’m fine.”
Ned didn’t believe him but he also wasn’t going to push it. Not yet anyway.
“Alright. You sound like you’re dying though,” he replied.
Peter frowned. “I just need some water or something.”
“Oh, ok. Well go grab some then and I’ll start unboxing this,” Ned said with a smile as he slipped off the bed and onto the floor next to the Lego sets.
A few moments later Peter got up and headed towards the kitchen. There was a pause before the tap turned on, and then a longer pause before Peter shuffled back in. Ned glanced back up and felt himself do a double-take. Now that it wasn’t covered by his mask or his arm, Peter’s face was completely white except for a deep flush across his cheeks. The exhausted air he was giving off was also more pronounced.
“Wow Pete, you really don’t look good. Are you sure you’re not dying, you look like you’re dying?” Ned asked in a rush, not even pausing for a breath.
“I’m fine Ned,” Peter responded, or at least tried too as he put the glass he was holding down on Ned’s desk. Only half of the sentence came out.
“You should probably sit down or something,” he continued, starting to stand up. “Why are you even here? You could have told me you were sick. In fact you probably shouldn’t have gone out today if you are sick. Do you want me to get my Mum? She’s not here but I can call her. Or May-”
Peter lazily held his hand up in a please-stop gesture when Ned didn’t give him time to answer any of his questions.
“Dude that’s not necessary,” Peter croaked out. He wanted to add that anything Ned’s Mother would give him would have the winning combination of tasting feral and likely not being helpful anyway, considering his super metabolism. But his throat hurt way too much to make that a good idea.
“Are you sure ok? Do you want some tea or something? What’s wrong?” Ned asked and finally paused.
“I’m ok Ned. My throats just kinda sore,” Peter replied huskily. Ned looked like he still didn’t believe him so Peter gestured towards the Lego sets as an act of distraction. “So which set did you want to start with?”
Ned just shook his head and sat back down reaching for one of the boxes. “Alright dude. Let’s start with this one.”
Peter tried to croak his way through a conversation for five minutes before giving up. Not too long after that Ned turned on Star Wars to fill the silence. Ned had completed most of his pile while Peter was sluggishly still going through most of his. The movie was almost over by the time the Lego set had been abandoned, and Ned was half convinced that Peter had fallen asleep on him.
“Hey, can we turn the heat on or something?” Peter asked when there was five minutes to go.
“Heat? You still cold?” Ned looked up. Now that he knew to look he could see Peter shivering slightly and hiding it only semi successfully. “I’ll go grab you a blanket. You alright?”
“I’m ok, just kinda cold,” Peter mumbled as he grabbed a few of the abandoned pieces halfheartedly.
Ned shot him a look of disbelief. “Dude, you’re throat has got to be bothering you. You’re never this quiet! You sure it’s just you’re throat?”
Peter shrugged, which was a distinctly unhelpful motion. Ned sighed and got up to grab the spare blanket off his bed and threw it at Peter. While Peter fumbled to get the blanket around him Ned went to his desk to get his laptop.
“Ok,” Ned said after he sat back down in a no nonsense tone, flipping the screen of his laptop up. “What’s wrong with you?”
“I’m-“ Peter started but was immediately cut off.
“Nope. I’m not convinced. Come on, let me do my guy-in-the-chair thing. Your throats sore yeah? You sound too much like your dying for it not too.”
Peter nodded as his shoulders slumped and he drew the blanket a little closer to him. “Head’s kinda sore too,” he admitted softly.
“Right, so sore throat, headache. Have you got a fever? You’re pretty pale, come here.” Ned asked as he leaned forward, his laptop pressed against him.
Ned ignored him and awkwardly placed his hand on Peter’s forehead. His eyes widened slightly.
“Whoa, you’re actually really warm. I think that’s a yes on the fever. Dude?!” Ned exclaimed as he went back to his computer. Peter started to say something but Ned cut him off saying, “And don’t just say you’re ok.”
Peter just crossed his arms, half in sulky protest, but mostly because he was still cold. Ned ignored his friend and typed the symptoms into google. It didn’t take much scrolling to get an idea of what was likely wrong with him.
“Well, going by your symptoms, according to the internet. You’re dying,” he announced as blandly as he could. Peter blinked back at him for a moment.
“Thanks Ned. Helpful,” he responded.
“Well at least your sense of humor is still somewhat intact.” Ned said as Peter half-heartedly swatted at him. “Ok but seriously. Were you feeling ok this morning?”
“I felt fine before patrolling,” Peter replied. It was mostly true. He certainly hadn’t felt as tired or sore as he did at that moment. His throat had stung a little and he had had a bit of a headache, but he’d brushed it off as nothing to be worried about.
Ned nodded as he scrolled though the google results again. “Right. Well. Dr Google seems to think you have the flu. Either that or its strep. Either way you should probably be in bed or something. And I should definitely call my Mum or May…”
“Ned. You don’t need too, I’ll be fine. My healing should take care of it no problem,” Peter croaked, not as convinced himself as he tried to make out to be. If he was honest, now that he’d been called out on it, he was starting to feel terrible. His head and throat were making his life the most miserable but he was starting to become aware of the general aches he’d passed off as normal post patrol fatigue that were becoming a lot more.
Ned just sighed, knowing which battles to pick.
“Alright. But if you still look like Casper later on I’ll be forced to call May. It’s not worth my life to let you web home like that,” Ned said.
“Fair,” Peter replied, his throat happy to let the matter drop.
“Cool. Well do you want some tea or something?”
He was going to have to call May.
His best friend had negative self-preservation and was a little unnecessarily worried about his aunt sometimes. It had been clear he was struggling when Ned had tried to diagnose him, and Peter seemed to be getting worse instead of better. Ned hadn’t thought it was possible but somehow as the afternoon went on Peter’s face got even paler, and the barely noticeable shivers became more pronounced. Rather than pressure his friend into confessing how bad he felt, Ned thought it was wiser to just put another movie on and let nature take its course. He did hold onto the hope that Peter wasn’t exaggerating and that his super powered healing factor would kick in, but as it currently stood that didn’t seem likely.
After calling him out on his shit Ned had insisted that if Peter was going to give his best dying impression that he should at least use his bed as a couch, or for its intended purpose. They had practically finished the first ship so Ned’s new-Lego-set craving had been satisfied for now and he was content to just watch movies.
“Don’t you want to finish this set?” Peter protested as Ned went to pack the remaining pieces away.
“We can do that later. I’m not convinced that you won’t pass out or something right now,” Ned replied.
Peter gave up after that and curled up on the foot of the bed. It wasn’t long before he fell asleep. That in itself was a worrying sign. Peter falling asleep during the day meant that he was injured, and not telling anyone; exhausted, and not telling anyone; or sick, and not admitting it. At least this time Ned knew which one it was.
Glancing at the clock Ned tried to calculate how much time he had before his Mother came home. Peter seemed adamant that she not be there when he was injured because that would be way too much to explain, and would likely give the game away that he was Spiderman. Ned could only assume that that sentiment extended to being sick too. It was getting late and Peter had been napping for a couple of hours. If Ned needed reinforcements he was going to have to decide soon.
“Hey, Peter,” Ned said without bothering to keep his voice down, shaking his friend gently. “You awake?”
The answer was obviously no. Peter didn’t even twitch at the gentle touch. That itself wasn’t too concerning, but it felt like he was a bit warmer then the last time Ned had checked. Which meant it was getting close to the point where he was officially out of his depth with adult guidance.
“Peter?” He gave his friend another firmer shake.
This got a response out of him. Without moving a muscle the lump on the bed mumbled “what Ned,” half intelligibly.
“It’s almost five-thirty. I think my Mum might be home soon. I just want to make sure you’re not actually dying on me,” he answered with a hint of fake cheeriness in his voice.
“Oh,” was all Ned got in response. After a moment it was clear that Peter wasn’t going to add any more.
“Cool,” Ned prompted. “Is that all you’ve got to say? You still ok?”
Peter shrugged, which was still not really an answer. He turned to face Ned and cracked one eye open, adding in a croak “I’m tired. Throats still sore.”
Ned, between being incredibly concerned by this, was somewhat proud that he was able to keep a straight and comforting face. “Ok, ok. Go back to sleep then. Sorry.”
Peter pressed his face back into the pillow he’d grabbed. Barely giving him any time to fall asleep again Ned reached over to his desk and grabbed his phone, his mind made up after that unhelpful and worrying conversation. Peter was going to kill him once he was better, he knew that. But that assumed that May didn’t kill him first for going out while sick so Ned was willing to take that chance.
Hey may. Are you able to pick peter up? I think he’s sick or something
Sick? What’s wrong with him?
And I can
Dr google tells me that its probably the flu so ????
Ok. I’ll be there in about 20
Sweet I’ll make sure he doesn’t die in the meantime
Satisfied for now Ned put his phone back in his pocket. His Mother probably wouldn’t be home till at least seven so he could appease Peter with that information at least. There wasn’t much else he could do in the meantime.
Ned was scrolling through his phone when he heard a knock on the door barely twenty minutes later.
“Hey Ned,” May greeted once he’d opened the door. “Where’s Peter?”
Pointing down the hall Ned replied, “My room still. I think he’s asleep.”
At Ned’s instruction May went down the hall and found her nephew as Ned had described, still curled up at the foot of the bed under the spare blanket. She went over and sat next to him, shaking him gently to wake him up. Ned appeared in the doorway, hovering uncertainly.
“Hey Peter, wake up.”
It took a bit of encouragement but eventually he sluggishly turned to face his aunt, opening his eyes in confusion.
“May?” he asked half asleep and with practically no voice. “When did you get here?”
May smiled at him, moving to help him up.
“Just now,” she replied. “Ned texted me. I don’t know how you were planning on getting home but I’m sure none of them were good ideas right now.”
Peter was still blinking owlishly in confusion, but sat up on his own with her prompting.
“How’re you feeling?” she asked, putting a hand on his forehead and frowning at the heat she found there. “Not so good huh?”
Peter shook his head, not wanting to use his voice anymore then he had too. Secretly he was relieved that Ned had called his aunt. Everything now feverishly ached and despite the solid nap he somehow felt more tired than before. There wasn’t much he wouldn’t give at that moment to be in his own bed, but having May there helped immensely.
Standing up for Peter was not a fun experience. He felt instantly light headed and the pounding in his head that’s he’d been ignoring sharpened. With a sixth sense all parents have May had braced him before he could fall and lead him towards to door. Ned got out of the way and went towards his closet to grab Peter’s spare backpack as May led her nephew to the door.
Ned caught up with May and Peter in the hallway and once they were at the front door he offered the backpack to Peter. Before Peter had a chance to register what Ned was holding, with the hand not supporting her nephew, May took the bag and slung it over her shoulder. It was far lighter then she expected, but she didn’t question it.
“Feel better soon dude.” Ned said as May opened the door.
“Thanks,” Peter replied softly, before stepping out of the apartment.
“Thanks for letting me know Ned,” May said as she walked pass, pausing in the doorway.
“No problem,” Ned replied. “And if he’s no in tomorrow I’ll bring his homework around.”
May let out a small laugh at that and briefly felt her nephew’s forehead again before ruffling his curls a bit. “Oh, I definitely expect he won’t be in school tomorrow. Thank you though.”
The glare Peter sent her as she messed with his hair was half-hearted at best and non-existent at worse, and any effect it might have had was instantly ruined by the shiver that went through him.
“Alright, let’s get you home then,” May said to him with a sympathetic look as she started to guide him towards the elevator. “Bye Ned.”
“See you tomorrow,” Peter added with a limp wave.
“See ya tomorrow then,” Ned replied, and shut the door.