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Bruised Heart

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“Michelle nice of you to finally join us” Flash called across the room from where he was sat.

 

From the same table that was filled with the whole decathlon team Ned said “Shut up Flash”

 

Michelle rolled her eyes as she seemed to carefully sit down in the spare seat beside Abe. “As I was saying…” Mr Harrington continued to tell them about the next competition and new meeting schedule as per Michelle’s request, from afternoons to mornings.

 

Michelle was sat in the seat across from Peter, and he noticed the way she winced whenever she moved her right arm to write things down, right up until she just stopped writing because the pain was obviously too much. It was becoming an unusual occurrence, that only Peter had picked up on. He’d mentioned it to Ned one time, but apparently he didn’t think any different of the usual Michelle. Maybe it was his senses that brought it more to his focus, noticing little changes to people was something he was still getting used to. Like the way Ned parted his hair slightly more to the left every three days after he washes his hair, and the way Flash chews his gum in class swallowing after every fourth chew, the way May would smell after she had a secret cry in the dark of her room every now and then. The way MJ’s eye slightly twitched when she thought something was funny in a book she was reading.

 

This was a whole new feeling of change though, nothing like the day his senses became overloaded after the bite, but still something was definitely wrong. Something in the way her recent absences have become more frequent or the way she dresses, it was the beginning of summer and sure not every day was warm, but it was beginning to heat up and just about everyone has put aside the winter wardrobe by now. One day she even wore makeup.

 

She’d just taken a seat in her usual place at the other end of the table to lean up against the wall and read as her tea bag diffused in the hot water of her mug.

 

“You’re wearing makeup?” Peter said as he moved closer to observe it. He could see that it was applied much heavier in around one eye than the rest of her face, but he never said anything about that.

 

“mhmm” she hummed as she turned a page

 

“Why?” He wearily asked, she looked up from the book “I thought you said makeup was-”

 

“Drop it Parker, I know what I said” She looked back to her book.

 

He tried to push her for an explanation. “yeah, but-”

 

She dropped the book to the table in frustration “Can’t you just say ‘it looks great’ like everyone else and go back to talking nerd over there with Ned” She was becoming angry.

 

“No” he says stopping her from picking her book up again

 

She glares at him “What?”

 

“I don’t like it” he says with a complete serious expression.

 

She gives him a curious look not knowing where he is going with this.

 

“You shouldn’t have to think you need to wear makeup MJ, you already look great without it.” Then Peter gets up and walks back over to his seat.

 

Oh 

 

About a week and a half after the makeup disappeared Michelle had come into the gymnasium from the girls locker rooms still wearing her long sleeve black shirt under the mandatory gym shirt, which hadn’t gone unnoticed by the teacher. Being the middle of summer with a broken air conditioner the teacher had to basically threaten her with a suspension if she didn’t take it off. Apparently he’d had enough students pass out on him throughout this week.

 

The rest of the class got started on their given tasks as she went to change, a few minutes later she came back out. The long sleeve was gone and instantly Peter noticed the multiple bruises running up and down both of her arms, one in the perfect pattern of what seemed to be a hand, five long fingers and a wide palm. Peter swallowed, unsure of what to make of his new discovery.

 

He tried to talk to her about it, he wanted badly to know everything that was going on, wanted to help. Every time he managed to go over to her he’d look into her eye’s and saw the instant betrayal she would throw at him if he spoke the truth. He didn’t want her to run away and never speak to him again because he pointed out her worst fears like it’s a simple conversation. He’d written essays in texts and deleted them right after, he was Spider-man and could fight off a grown man wielding a knife but couldn’t confront his friend just to offer by the least a shoulder to cry on.

 

Then she disappeared from school for three days. The first day she didn’t turn up, he sent her a text in the afternoon to let her know about how they had a substitute teacher for Chemistry and she called out Flash by his first name and the whole class laughed. He thought about her laughing in that moment he’d sent the text. He missed her laugh, it had been too long since he had heard it.

 

The second day he became anxious and worried, he hadn’t received a text back the night before and there was no usual daily motivating quote plastered to the confines of her instagram story like every other morning. It had become a part of his daily routine, before he brushed his teeth and after he had eaten his cereal he would open his Instagram and always the first bubble by the top of the screen to be seen was hers, the purple and orange glow plastered around her profile picture drew him in to find his new meaning for the day. And when it wasn’t there his heart skipped a beat and his brows met each other in the middle. He’d refreshed his page every few hours just to check, but it never came.

 

Day three and even Flash came to noticed his sour, depressing mood. He couldn’t focus in class, barely spoke a word the whole day, ignored teachers when they called him out to answer questions, didn’t retaliate once to Flash, or swap over any of his food with Ned’s during lunch. Eventually whilst stopping a purse thief he got the answer he was waiting for all day

 

“I don’t know what’s going on with you dude, but call her” the guy said as he was attempting to free himself from the webbing.

 

Peter shot out another lot of webbing and thanked the guy before swinging away back to his apartment. He showered and had dinner with May, then he climbed out onto the fire escape by his window and pulled out his phone. Peter’s finger hovered over the call button for three whole minutes before it began to ring. On the third she answered.

 

“Peter?” her voice sounded small and quiet

 

He was so shocked that she actually answered he forgot to speak

 

“Peter, are you there? Is this a but dial?”

 

“no, no it’s me. I-I’m here, don’t hang up” he said quickly

 

“hang on, I’ll go out side” she practically whispered and Peter didn’t talk. He could hear the latch to her window open and as her feet hit the metal on the surface of her own fire escape. “Okay whats up?” her voice was louder than before.

 

“You haven’t been at school for three day’s… Are you okay?” He could hear the breath catch in her throat, and the lie that followed.

 

“y-yeah I’m fine, Peter” he squeezed his eyes shut and lent his head on his hand as he heard her voice come out too well practiced.

 

“Are you sure?” his voice was filled with concern “Cause if you’re not, MJ, you can talk to me. I’m not going to tell anyone anything. You don’t need to lie to me. I don’t want you to feel like you have no one to talk to, just know that when you feel you’re ready, or if you are ever ready… I’ll be there for you and I’ll listen.”

 

It took a while for a response but the one he received was worth it “okay” she let out a breath “not tonight though, I’m okay. Thank you though” her words were slow and he didn’t push it feeling the tension of the touchy subject arise

 

“Don’t thank me, MJ.” the silence didn’t last as he asked another question, changing the topic just so he could hear her voice for a while longer. To know she is… not okay, but there. “What have you been doing?”

 

“Today I went to visit that Homeless shelter, the kids are so nice Peter. This one little girl, Jessie, made a drawing of spider-man holding her hand in the park. I told her I’d get it signed for her.” MJ giggled, actually giggled.

 

“Oh really, and how are you going to get that?” Peter teased, a smile wide on his face that was hidden in the dark of the street.

 

“I know a guy” He pictured her shrugging a shoulder and making that face she always made when she said that.

 

“you sure do” he laughed. “Hey maybe I should come down there with you one day, you know, in the suit”

 

“I’d like that” his heart swelled hearing those words, he was expecting a quip about being a show off or a tease about loving the attention, but this was much more tender and if Ned ever saw the look he had on his face right now, he would never live it down.

 

“Okay well, it’s a date” he said as he heard her faint giggle.

 

“Cool” she said quietly

 

“Cool” he matched her tone.

 

The next day she was back at school, and Peter actually hugged her. The second he saw her in the hall standing by his locker with Ned, just like every morning. He didn’t even think before he had called out her name, ran over and wrapped his arms around her form with the biggest cheesiest smile anyone could show.

 

After a few months, Peter and MJ had started to hang around each other a lot more often than before. She sat opposite him at lunch and they played footsies under the table, after school she’d sometimes come over to his apartment to study. It still took a long time for Michelle to trust him, even if she knew his biggest secret she just couldn’t find the will to tell hers.

 

That was until one night there was no escaping it. It was 3 o’clock in the morning when Peter’s phone rang. He had a moment where he didn’t want to move, didn’t want to open his eyes. But it was Michelle’s ring tone she had put to her contact as a joke, the Nancy Drew theme song. In that moment until the end of forever would he be thankful she had.

 

“hello?” Peter rasped out in his sleepy morning voice

 

There were no words, just cries, sobs and haggard breathes.

 

“Hey, hey, hey calm down, just breathe okay.” Peter had never even heard himself talk like that before. So soft, but still controlling.

 

He jumped out of bed and threw a hoodie over his sleep shirt, then added a jacket on top of that. “I’m on my way MJ, are you at home?” she replied threw a loud sob, louder than the others had been.

 

“It’s going to be alright” he found a piece of paper and scribbled down a note for May “I just need to know where you are”

 

Through a struggle of tears he heard “at home” and that’s just where he headed.

 

He put on his mask and web shooters, as that was the quickest way he would reach her house. He stayed on the phone with her the whole time as he swung through the streets of Queens, not leaving her to be alone for a second.

 

He continued to encourage her to calm down, working on her breathing. Soon her cries had buffered down and her breathes had evened out to a steady pace, words were the next thing to work on.

 

He landed on the building beside hers and told her he was there “Can I come inside?”

 

“No!” her answer was fast and sharp

 

“okay, okay. That’s fine, what about if I come to your window? Is that alright?” he asked careful not force her to say anything she didn’t want to happen.

 

“Yeah” her voice was so quiet and shallow, like she was broken.

 

A few seconds later and he was knocking on the glass, they hung up the phones and MJ opened the window as he shoved his mask into his pocket. The moment he planted his feet on her carpet she crashed into him with a hug, he wrapped his arms around her tightly. Using one hand on the back of her head he pulled her closer as he felt the wet patch forming on his shoulder from her tears.

 

“Hey, I’m here. You’re okay now. Nothing is going to happen. I’ve got you” he rested his head on hers and just waited for her tears to stop, they stood there for six minutes before she eventually eased up the grip on the back of his jacket.

 

She pulled back slightly and looked at him with her sad eyes “Can we go somewhere, anywhere else”

 

He nodded his head, and that’s what lead them to running out the window and down the fire escape before the footsteps they heard reached Michelle’s door. They walked for twenty minutes in silence, skimming their hands past one another every now and then. They made it to the park, and found a seat out by the lake.

 

Peter sat down, Michelle next to him. He pulled his jacket off and wrapped it around her bare bruised arms, she pulled it around her further then laid down resting her head in Peter’s lap. She often done this on their movie nights, after Ned’s fallen asleep and May’s left for her night shift. Peter will play with her hair running his fingers through it softly just above her ear and she’ll close her eyes and drift off.

 

Without even thinking his fingers made for the action they were so used to. He looked down to notice how this time was so different, how she was broken and completely shattered. He didn’t say a word, he didn’t know what to say.

 

“He doesn’t mean to do it…at least that’s what mom says.” She says out of the blue

 

“Who?” Peter asks quietly after a pregnant pause

 

“My step dad Justin, he get’s angry sometimes.” Her words sound like scratching nails on a chalkboard

 

“Is that where all those bruises come from?” Peter said stopping his movements in her hair. She moved her arms on instinct to cover them, even if they were already hidden under Peter’s jacket.

 

She nodded her head, then turned and laid on her back to look up at him. Her eyes began to glisten with new tears, not so much of the pain of the memories but the pain of telling her best friend. She took her time to explain all he had ever done to her, to her mother, the reasons she has those absences and the reason she hasn’t left. Her mother told her to stay, told her she loved her every day as a task to prove herself worthy of keeping Michelle there. Michelle is the daughter who she had dragged into the mess and never gave a chance to leave, be safe and free from the monster who unleashes his fury to who ever is in reach.

 

Her stories went on for hours and they didn’t stop as the stars disappeared, as the sun came up over the trees, as the dew on the grass evaporated in the morning light and the early joggers ran past with dirty looks to the two teens on the park bench in their pyjamas. They continued through the multiple texts from Ned asking why they weren’t at school, and the one from May telling Peter she found his note and would see him for dinner. Michelle received none from her mother, curious to where she fled to and never made it home from and that most of all what pushed Peter to the edge.

 

He wanted so badly to fix it, to fix everything, to take her away from the mess and press reset. But he couldn’t because she didn’t want him too, she asked and he shook his head, then she said please in such away that somehow he broke too, so he bit his tongue and he agreed. He walked her back to her apartment, they hugged before he left.

 

“Thank you” She said ever so sincerely as she closed her eyes laying her head to his chest. Then he kissed her hair.

 

He lent his chin on top of her head “Anytime, MJ. I mean it”

 

She squeezed him tighter “I know” then she let go and walked away.

 

After the weekend she returned to school, she was smiling when he found her by his locker. She had summer clothes on and had made flash cards for the decathlon team. When Cindy walked past she complimented her skirt, then Betty on her new head band. And Peter knew something had changed.

 

As the two girls walked away she encouraged Ned to go ask Betty to sit with them at lunch and that was enough for his confidence to sky rocket. Peter looked over to her with a devious look as he made a gesture with his thumb in the direction his friend made off too. She gave off a closed lip grin and shrugged her shoulders, and that was enough for Peter to grab her hand and drag her to the nearest empty class room.

 

He tilted his head with a small unbelieving smile “What just happened?” he said as he crossed his arms, tucking his hands under his armpits.

 

Michelle bit her bottom lip and looked around to make sure no one was around “Mom kicked Justin out” she looked giddy as she held her bag straps in either hand and bounced as she spoke.

 

“What, no way! That’s amazing. What did it though” he asked in pure curiosity.

 

“She thought I finally ran away, and she blamed him” she shrugged on shoulder and looked at her shoes.

 

“That’s really great MJ, I’m happy for you” He stepped forward and opened his arms to give her a hug, but she had already sealed the gab between them leaving a quick chaste kiss to Peter’s lips. He pulled away in shock and she instantly looked as though she had regretted her decision, until Peter lifted her chin half way through her stuttered out apology and kissed her, this time long and lingering. A feeling of not just want but need rushing over him, he moved one hand to her hip and the other too her hair.

 

“Oh, finally” An unexpected and relieved comment came from behind them. Mr Harrington had just walked in the door to prepare for his morning class, and apparently Peter had been too busy to be thinking of his senses at that moment and he got a punch in the arm for that.

 

“ow” he said as he rubbed his arm

 

“shut up, loser” she squinted at him, knowing well enough that would’ve felt like a brush of a feather.

 

Three weeks.

 

Over the course of three weeks, the school, May, MJ’s mom, Tony and even Mr Delmar at the sandwich shop had come to know of the budding relationship that was becoming more admirable than any romance novel by the day. They went on dates, cuddled on the couch watching movies, kissed each other with hunger and lust any chance they got, Peter played with Michelle’s hair, Michelle patched Peter up after unfortunate fights, they went on walks through the park on the full moon, Spider-man snatched her from the street one day and took her to see the views of the city from the top of Bronx-Whitestone Bridge at Dusk.

 

They were inseparable and anyone could see how deeply they have both fallen for each other, in the way they finish each others sentences or how the concept of personal space had defied them. They had their inside jokes and they knew each other’s weaknesses.

 

Looking in through to the depiction of their affinity was completely different from being there. Because being on the inside of their newly found conform and seeing it blossom from their perspective was something unreal and fantasizing. They were indulged in the daydream and it was something they desired. Every touch was starved and every laugh was a weakness, until endearment overruled them and there was nothing less than fondness, tenderness, warmth and intimacy. He was all puppy love and she was pure infatuation.

 

That was until one afternoon when the two had walked back to MJ’s place after school for a short study session before Peter would retreat through her window in his skin tight suit and return after dark to slide in to bed behind her and place a kiss on her cheek before falling asleep. That was until they rounded the corner of the fence to find a car parked in a car space of the apartments parking lot. Of all the cars that were there this one stood out most of all, not to Peter though, only to her, only to MJ.

 

She froze in her tracks and her breath hitched just the same, her palms were clammy and her heart pounded through her chest.

 

She turned to look to Peter her eyes wide in fear. “Peter, you have to go” She said quietly like someone would hear.

 

She checked over her shoulder then his, looking for her known destined fate. Then there was a voice, a voice Peter didn’t know though he did instantly and to add to Michelle’s panic his face contorted to anger.

 

“Michelle I’m so glad you’re home, I’ve been so worried” His voice was malicious and threatening.

 

“MJ” Peter reached out to touch her, but she flinched away. Her eyes were glued to the ground like she was in a trance filled with pain and fear.

 

Peter immediately pulled his hand away with a look of confusion.

 

“Michelle come up here” Justin’s charred voice sounded through her, becoming frustrated in a second.

 

She didn’t answer, she didn’t move.

 

“We can go back to mine” Peter looked from the balcony of the call to her shaky form. He wanted to do something, he wanted to pick her up and take her away from there.

 

She shook her head, with an obvious hesitation.

 

Justin called out again, this time with more force “Now, Michelle”

 

“I can’t let you go up there, MJ. I wont” He stepped forward.

 

She stepped back. She looked from the floor to Peter and his heart almost broke at the sight of her. “You will… you have to” her voice was small and unsure, but her look was determined and strong.

 

“MJ” Peter Practically whined

 

“Peter, just go okay. I’ll call you in a bit.” She turns and heads for the front doors of the building. “I’ll call you” she says before the doors close behind her.

 

Peter stood there looking up to the man on the balcony of Michelle’s apartment. He didn’t falter to leave until the man and his devilish smile deviated back inside.

 

He wanted to stay, god he wanted to stay. But if he had done that, the trust that MJ had for him would be well and truly forgotten. So he left, he went straight home because there was no way he would be able to focus out on his patrol. There was no way he could go out and save a life of some stranger and not go and save the one he would give everything for. So he waited, there was nothing more he could do except wait for her to call. Because she said she would, and all he had was her word and his own trust and for him that was enough.

 

Until it wasn’t, until she never called.

 

He sends her texts and voice messages until her phone wouldn’t take anymore. The first day was the most tiresome, his head was so out of sorts he went to school with his shirt on inside out, he never changed it. The second day he went out on patrol, stuck around her streets waiting to see the light in her bedroom to turn on, to brighten his hope. It never did. The third he had Ned hack the school database and get him her moms phone number, he took it home with him that afternoon.

 

He calls the second he walks into his apartment, no answer. He tried two more times before dinner, still nothing. As he took the first bite of his dinner that night with May staring anxiously at him from across the table his phone finally rang and he nearly choked on his pasta. He sprung up from his seat, May doing the same.

 

“h-hello Mrs Jones?” Peter sounded weak and tired

 

“Yes, who’s this?” She asks through the phone

 

“uh Peter, Peter Parker. I was just calling because-”

 

“Peter?” She cut him off with a quiet realisation

 

“that’s what I said ma’am.” he assured, hearing a remorseful exhale of breath he quickly asked “Where is Michelle?” he sounded so young, and scared.

 

“Michelle’s… Michelle is” Michelle’s mom let out a shaky breath before a muffled sob sounded through the phone. Peter couldn’t breathe he didn’t know if he wanted to hear the woman’s next words, but when he did a lonely tear made it to his cheek.

 

“She’s in the hospital” the other end of the line is filled with strangled cries.

 

Peter talks over them though “What? Which one?” his shallow voice turned panicked in an instant.

 

“The one here in Queens” Mrs Jones voice was strangled, quiet and hard to understand.

 

Peter took in a few breathes to calm him self down, though his words were still shaken as he spoke “Was it him?”

 

Peter heard through the line as the air was snatched from the woman’s latest cry.

 

“Mrs Jones please I- I need to know” A sudden dark tone took over Peter’s gentle demeanour, it was desperate and raw and no one could deny the boy his answer.

 

“yes” She said with no emotion before hanging up.

 

May called out his name as she watched pieces of his phone fall to the floor as he squeezed it so tightly in his hand it shattered.

 

The chicken and pasta sat cold on the table at home, they arrived at the hospital as quickly as they could. Peter didn’t even wait for the car to come to a stop as he opened his door and ran to the hospital entrance. He came to a sliding halt at the reception desk looking flustered.

 

“MJ, um, Michelle Jones… I-I-is she here?” He stuttered out in dismay.

 

The woman sitting at the desk looked angered at the order before looking up and seeing they frazzled young boy before her, her eyes turned to him in sorrow as she quickly got typing to find her name in the system.

 

“Ward 2, Bed 5.” She said with a sorry smile.

 

As Peter made to leave he was quickly stopped by the woman who had skimmed over her file. “Wait!”

 

He almost tripped at the sudden change of direction, he looked at her with pleading eyes. He just needed to go and find her.

 

Just as the woman was about to speak May had caught up “Peter, honey is she here?” May looked lost as she remembered the last time she had stepped foot inside a hospital being when her late husband had a broken foot. Though she repressed that for now.

 

“Hi, are you Michelle’s family?” the woman asked as she stood and made her way around the front of the desk.

 

“n-no, not immediate family” May said honestly

 

“Her mother hasn’t come in?” Peter asked

 

The receptionist looked between the two questioning faces before her “no… not yet” she said sadly.

 

“How long has she been here?” May sounded curious, picking up on the not yet the woman was exposing.

 

“Three days” Peters ears rung hearing the words, the rest of the conversation between the two women was something he would never know. All he heard was the loud buzz from the florescent lights above them, the echoing of his steps as they were directed down the hall. His mind filling with thoughts he knows he shouldn’t be thinking because how would he have known.

 

He thinks it doesn’t matter how he would have known he just should have. He should’ve known, he should’ve pushed her to let him stay or ignored her and gone up anyway. Because this was his fault she was here because he did nothing except watch her walk away, up those steps and into her apartment. How many stories had she told him, how many times had he held her in his arms as she cried to him over the past. Over the torment, the abuse, the hatred.

 

He trusted her, more than he had trusted anyone in his whole life. He trusted she knew what she was doing because she had told him as much. What he regrets most is thinking the trust he had for MJ travelled through her the moment she stepped into that apartment. Because it didn’t, it might have glowed a bright orb around her, but it didn’t illuminate the room.

 

And that is what he is paying for as his heart constricts, and his lungs shrivel up, and the contents of his stomach tries to push to the surface. Because there she is, there she is in the room decorated with teal green walls and a mural of a stuffed bear with a patched heart. Three days he remembers as he sees the discoloration in her skin and the heaviness of her sleep. Large white tubes are situated in her mouth and there are too many machines for just regulating the rhythm of her heart. He finds the one that does just that, he follows the line on the monitor.

 

“That’s not how her heart beats” He says so innocently as his brows furrow together in confusion and his head tilts to the side.

 

The muffled voices around him become still at his words, and no one speaks. He turns to the direction he had heard them a moment ago, May is there and so is a nurse, a doctor and the young receptionist from before with her hand covering her mouth looking heavyhearted and in shock at his statement.

 

May takes in a deep breath and places her warm hand on his shoulder. “Peter, this is Doctor Parfitt.”

 

Before she could say anymore Peter said “What’s wrong with MJ?” His eyes were so lost. Everything is so confusing. And MJ is laying on her back with her arms by her sides, and that is strange because she always sleeps on her left side curled up as small as she can be.

 

“Hi Peter. Did you not hear what I said?” The doctor asked in a slow and understanding voice.

 

Peter shook his head.

 

“Okay, that’s okay. Well I just told May here everything we know. You can go inside if you want to, Peter.” Dr Parfiit said in a calm manor.

 

“Why is she laying like that? She likes to sleep on her side” Peter sounded so small, like a curious four year old asking why the sun was hot.

 

The doctor let out a sad and heavy breath “Come on, I’ll let you inside” he directed Peter to the door and let him inside.

 

When the man came back over to May by the window she asked “Why’s he acting like that?”

 

“He’s in shock, but he’ll understand soon. Maybe leave out some of what I told you when he’s ready to know what happened”

 

“That won’t matter” May looked up to Dr Parfiit “She’ll tell him everything anyway” she had a small smile on her face as she looked back through the glass.

 

Peter was holding Michelle’s hand, looking over her. They all watched as he lifted his other hand and pushed her hair behind her ear.

Chapter Text

Peter couldn’t look away, the cuts and lacerations that faded together with the raised bruises that covered her face and arms, probably more of her body too that was hidden away under the blinding white blanket tucked too neatly under her arms.  

 

His free hand hovers over her, as if his fingers wield a blade that could cut her life line at any moment, that could take away her chance of survival in a split second. Just by a touch, a gesture of comfort that could break her.

 

The young woman laying on the bed, hand clasped with his own looked nothing of the strong minded and well tempered girl he knows. Her skin is coloured with deep purples and browns, her fingernails are torn and still traced with blood around the edges, her left eye is larger than should be naturally possible and a line of twelve stitches hold together the skin to her arm. Though in all the visible torture and pain she has been through, she looks… peaceful.

 

Though it is unsettling to see, Peter can’t help but feel the sorrow in his own heart soften just a little. To see her in a state that she isn’t in worry or pain or fear. She just… is.

 

The longer he thinks, left in the room on his own with the beaten body of Michelle Jones. the longer his mind trails back to those thoughts of regret and remorse.

 

His chin dropped to his chest and his hand squeezed hers tighter “What has he done to you?” Peter lifts his head to look up to the ceiling as the tears begin to fill in his eyes “What have I done to you?” he says so quiet it was almost a whisper.

 

By 10:37pm a nurse has collected the forms they had May fill out, although every question was answered by Peter. He knew everything there was to know, some things May wondered if he even knew about himself. Then another woman came in to let them know that visiting hours were closing shortly.

 

Peter practically jumped out of his chair at the woman talking a mile a minute “No, we have to stay, you have to let us stay. What if she wakes up and she thinks she’s alone. Because she’s not, she can’t be left alone. What if- if he comes back, what if-”

 

“whoa, whoa. Calm down, come sit back down boy” The woman helped Peter back into the chair he had launched him self from. “Take in a deep breath, ready” She had knelt down beside him now, and was motioning him to follow her breaths.

 

She made him take in three large breaths before letting him speak again “okay, now what’s going on?” she asks

 

“I-I can’t” his eye’s began to water “I can’t leave her again” He says as he looks to Michelle.

 

The woman looks over to May, who was biting her own lip to hold herself together.

 

“Is there a way he can stay with her? Even if it’s just for tonight?” May asked, guilt ridden by Peters words.

 

The woman looks back to Peter “Are you eighteen?”

 

Peter shakes his head

 

“Okay, then the only way you can legally stay here is if you can somehow manage to get approval for special consideration from the secretary of health and human services and I have no idea how you will get that tonight considering it takes three days to find a decent lawyer to help.” She runs a hand over her face “So what if you go home tonight, and I promise that we will keep a close eye on Miss Jones, whilst you try and figure a way to get that and visiting hours open back up at 8am so you will only be away for nine hours” She tried to persuade him.

 

“Can I borrow a phone?” Peter asks her as if what she had just said didn’t mean a thing.

 

The woman flailed an arm and shook her head “Sure, follow me” She said standing up.

 

Peter and May followed the woman out to the reception desk where Peter was handed the phone after the woman had ordered the receptionist to give it to him.

 

“What’s going on?” the receptionist asked curious to her new crowd.

 

May answered as Peter dialled a number. “To be honest Jess, we have no idea” She giggled.

 

Peters heart raced as he heard the voice on the other end of the line after the eight drawn out rings.

 

“Hello, who’s this?” Tony sounded demanding, and maybe a little tired

 

“Mr Stark… it’s Peter” Peters voice spoke quietly not to attract attention, though it didn’t work according to the looks on each of the women’s faces.

 

“Oh, Underoos. You’re up a little late for a Thursday night kid? Everything okay?” Tony asked, patient as always.

 

“I uh” Peter choked up as he let out a strangled “no” ending with a cry

 

“Hey, hey what’s wrong?” Tony cooed

 

“We’re at the hospital, Mr Stark.” Peter seemed to find his words again, before he lost them after the next statement “It’s MJ, she- she got hurt” a consignment of sobs followed.

 

May took the phone from the boy “Tony, it’s May”

 

“May, what’s going on? What does he mean she got hurt?” Tony asked sounding much more concerned than she thought he would.

 

“It’s a long story Tony, one I’d rather not bring up at the moment” She said looking to the crying boy in her arms.

 

“Okay, that’s okay” Tony said still able to hear Peter in the background “Is there anything I can do?”

 

“We have a really big favour to ask, Stark” She said shamefully as she knew this was a task she couldn’t handle to provide for her boy.

 

Tony didn’t hesitate when he answered “I’m listening”

 

Thirty minutes later and May was reading a magazine she had found in the visitors lounge with Peter curled up beside her, head resting on her lap fast asleep. Just as she flipped the page to read a new celebrity fashion meltdown article the receptionist, Jess, poked her head into the room.

“May” She whispered seeing the sleeping Peter on the woman’s lap.

 

May looked up with a small smile on her lips “Hey Jess, any news?”

 

Jess stepped inside the room and closed the door behind her “He can stay” She sounded so cheerfully with a small fist pump into the air.

 

“Really?” May said hopeful as her smile grew “Stark is too good to you kiddo” May said as she looked down to Peter, moving his hair from his face.

 

“I guess the saying goes” Jess crossed her arms, her large smile never depleting for a moment. May looked back to her to continue “It pays to know people in high places.” Jess shrugged a shoulder.

 

May chuckled “I guess it does”

 

“I think it will be good for her you know. For Peter to be here” Jess sat in a chair, making her self at home.

 

May looked at her curiously and Jess continued “I mean, he loves her so much. That is obvious just in the way he looks at her, but I feel like it’s so much more than that.” Jess looked to the boy on May’s lap.

 

“What do you mean?” May asked with a soft expression.

 

“Okay, there was this couple they were old, in their late seventies. Eve, the wife, she fell ill in the winter. Her husband, his name was Joe, he was on a fishing trip with an old business associate the weekend Eve came in. There are a lot of people who rush in here, asking for a name all flustered and dependant on me to find where they need to go. Joe, when he rushed in on the second afternoon Eve was here there was this look in his eyes, a look that with just one glance from my screen to his eyes I could see the sorrow he had for not being there sooner. He looked so lost and confused, because his wife was in the hospital, the love of his life was sick and he hadn’t been there when she needed him most.

 

I led him to the room Eve was warded too, he froze when he seen her sitting on the bed watching some cooking show if I remember correctly, but the way he looked at her, then the look he gave me before walking inside. I-I can’t explain the emotion he had in that moment May, I watched them for a while. They held hands and he pushed her hair behind her ear, she called him Jonathan and he called her Evie. He was here for every moment from which he arrived, brushed her hair every morning and braided it to the side. He ate every meal with her, read her books and painted her nails.

 

He never left, until the next spring when she did. It was amazing to see, I felt so lucky to witness such a bond between two people, to be able to laugh at their jokes or cry with them when they received bad news. I never thought I would live to see anyone have that much love for another person, to want to care for them at their lowest point, to keep them safe. That was until the moment I looked into Peter’s eyes.

 

It was like I was reliving that moment over again, but so much more intensely. I cant even describe the way I felt when I watched him come to realisation looking through that window to her. How the way he realised there was something wrong about her heart beat. They’re so young, but it’s there… that same connection. The one so many of us will never find, but they, they would find it anywhere. In any universe, any alternate reality or quantum realm it’ll be there.

 

I haven’t even seen more than a few hours of Peter just looking at her, and I’m so emotional over how strong their bond is. I cant wait for Michelle to wake up, to see her side of it as well. Just to see her look at him, the way I already have seen him look at her. It gives me sense of what Eve and Joe were like when they were young at the beginning of their own relationship, that time where everyone pronounces it as puppy love and nothing more, just something to pass the time.”

 

“They’ve only been together for three weeks, though I know exactly what you mean Jess” May speaks in Jess’ moment of thought “He was so lost for those three days he didn’t hear from her, I didn’t have a clue what to do. He could barely speak a sentence, went to school with his shirt inside out the first day.” they both laughed.

 

“He even waited out on the street by her apartment until 11pm the second night, waiting to see her bedroom light on” Jess looked so pained as she looked to Peter listening to May “I missed having her around, seeing them together every afternoon. Laying on the couch after doing their homework, she would sketch little drawings on a post it note using his hand as an isle as she laid her head back on his chest. And he would just lay there and watch her with so much fascination and awe that I sometimes had to stop my self from just sitting there staring at them.” May ran her fingers through Peters hair.

 

Jess let out a long breath “I hope she wakes up soon, I’d love to see some of what you have” Jess smiled.

 

“I’m sure you will, they bring colour to a room those two” May returned a grin. “Okay, I better get home, our dinner is currently sitting abandoned and cold on the table and off chicken is not the best house perfume.” May slid Peters head off her lap and onto a spare pillow that Jess passed over to her.

 

“We will have a pull out bed for him by the morning, but for now I’ll go fetch him a blanket.” The two women left the room together after May left a kiss to Peters temple and gave Michelles hand a squeeze.

 

“Will you be back tomorrow with some breakfast for him? Or would you like me to sneak him in a cart meal?” Jess gave a smirk.

 

“Tony is coming in the morning, I’ll text him to bring Pete something. Which will probably end up being waffles, I swear that all those two eat when they’re together” May looks at Jess with a fond smile.

 

Jess has her eyebrows reaching for the sky “Tony? As in Tony Stark, is coming here tomorrow?”

 

May chuckled at her “Yes” another laugh “I’ll be on the dinner run, I hope I get this much of a reaction too”

 

Jess closed her gaping mouth and laughed with May “Don’t worry, I’ll make sure of it. Goodnight May”

 

“Goodnight Jess, take care of those two” May said as she walked down the hall.

 

“I will!” Jess called out just as May turned the corner.

 

When Jess returned in the room, to place a blanket over Peter she was surprised to see him awake.

 

“Peter, are you okay?” She asked breaking his concerned look towards the still girl in the bed.

 

“Um, y-yeah I’m okay. Where’s Aunt May?” He asked sleepily.

 

Jess handed over the blanket “She just left about five minutes ago, your letter was approved so you can stay for as long as you want”

 

Peter wrapped the blanket around his shoulders “Thank you” he said in a small voice.

 

“You can thank Tony Stark tomorrow morning, I didn’t do anything” She gave him a warm smile.

 

“You handed me the phone” Peter countered.

 

“I suppose I did do that” Jess laughed softly and Peter smiled for the first time that night. It wasn’t much of a smile, it wasn’t big, but it was there.

 

“Okay, well I will just be out at the reception desk if you need anything” Jess made to leave and Peter nodded, she stopped at the door

 

 “And Peter” he looked up at Jess “She’s going to be okay… especially now that you’re here” This time he gave her a genuine smile, one that she would remember for the rest of her life.

 

 

 

Peter was awake by 5am when the nurse came in to check MJ’s vitals. When she left he didn’t go back to sleep, but instead sat in the chair staring at MJ trying to get used to the odd sound in her chest.

 

He didn’t know how long he was sat there, but when his stare was finally broken he was happy to see Tony’s face.

 

“Hey kiddo” Tony said softly as he stepped through the door. “oof” he wheezed out as the air was squeezed out of him by Peters arms wrapping around him the instant he was up.

 

Tony looked over to Jess “thank you” he said as she began to walk away.

 

“Breathing is fun” Tony chuckled as Peter loosened his grip.

 

“sorry, I’m just… thank you” Peter looked up to him with those sore eyes he’d only seen on bad nights when Peter felt responsible for not being able to save a civilian from an inevitable death. And Tony knew instantly that Peter was bearing the weight of what happened to Michelle on his shoulders, blaming himself.

 

Tony looked up to see her, he instantly regretted it. That poor child, what kind of sick human being could do that. Especially to a beautiful young soul like Michelle who would always fight for her own beliefs and done as much as she possibly could to help anyone in need.

 

The world is a cruel place filled with bully’s and morons who always find the wrong people to pick on, to push down and hurt. They always find the ones with the best ideas and the biggest hearts, the ones you find leading the world to a brighter future, the ones who fight for the right cause, the natural born heroes.

 

“Don’t put this on yourself Pete, I know that look so don’t tell me you aren’t” Tony stared down on him hoping that was enough to break him.

 

Peter took in and released a heavy breath “Are they waffles?” He looked hopeful to dodge the accusing glare.

 

Tony rolled his eyes and nodded, ushering Peter back into the room.

 

Peter finished his food incredibly quickly considering he had eaten one spoonful of pasta off his plate last night before rushing off in his madness to end up where he is now.

 

“You still hungry?” Tony reached into the shopping bag he brought with him.

 

“No, I’m fine thank you Mr Stark” Peter said but caught the muesli bar and continued to open and eat it after Tony threw it at him. “thanks”

 

Tony waited until the boy was finished to begin his questioning “So, I’m guessing you know who done this right?”

 

Peter looked to his feet as he nodded his head “Yeah, I do”

 

Tony gave him a nudge with his foot to Peters own as an urge for more information. “It was her Step Dad” Peter clenched his jaw as he saw the mans face in his thoughts walking inside from the balcony.

 

“Okay, do you have a name?” Tony asked casually

 

Peter looked at Tony squinting his eyes “Why?”

 

“So we can put him in jail, so he can pay for what he’s done” Tony leaned forward resting his elbows on his knees as he looked to Peter speaking his words “My lawyers are already on standby, just waiting for my call Pete. All I need is a name”

 

Peter began to look angry, which Tony hadn’t expected. “You want to put him in jail? Just like that? That’s not a punishment Mr Stark, that’s a getaway, a free ticket to a secluded life with free food and a place to sleep every night. He deserves more than that, Michelle deserves more than that. He deserves what he’s given, and I can’t count the number of stories she’s told me. I can’t tell you the number of times she’s cried her self to sleep in my arms after waking up in the middle of the night because she was woken up by a nightmare kicking and screaming thinking he was about to walk through the door, or worse, thinking that I was him and that I was going to hurt her. She flinches when a teacher points to her in class to answer a question from across the room, she cant walk to the bathroom alone Mr Stark. So I’m sorry but I already have a plan in place for him, he already has what’s coming to him. Me”

 

Tony sucked in a lung full of air before letting it out slowly “Okay, I get it. You want to hurt the guy, you want him to suffer through everything he’s put her through, you want him to know what’s coming for him.” Tony stood up, his hands reaching behind his back.

 

“Do you know the statistics for how often child abusers are in the medbay in prison? Or how many a brutally tortured for weeks on end before guards even bat an eyelid to put them in there? Or maybe the average life expectancy for those types of people?” Tony stopped pacing to look at Peter who shook his head.

 

“No? Well let’s just say the people in there, most of them have their own children who’d they do anything to protect. And I am telling you right now that if we are to put this guy away, make it a public case and have it out in the open where people will see it, where those prisoners will hear about what that man has done, he isn’t going to have a nice vacation Pete. And that way, you don’t have to break your morals for the sake of a man who doesn’t deserve your time. Don’t let him take your sanity, because that is something you will never forget, something you will always hold close to your soul until the day you die Peter. Don’t put your self through that, please. Being here with her is enough, I know you’re hurting because you think it’s your fault. But it’s not Peter I promise you it’s not. So let us help you, let us help Michelle.” Tony spoke with so much determination.

 

Peter walked over to MJ to hold her hand. He run his thumb back and forth over her knuckles. “I left her there Mr Stark, I have a responsibility to keep her safe, and I just let her walk in there.” Peter turned around and Tony’s heart sank seeing the tear roll down his cheek. “I could’ve gone up with her, I could’ve fixed the problem then and there. I’m weak Mr Stark, I did nothing to help.”

 

“Peter-”

 

“No, you should’ve seen how scared she was” He let out a sob “You should’ve heard how fast her heart was beating” he turned to face her, his cheeks were wet with his tears “I’m so sorry”

 

Tony pulled Peter in his arms not caring if the snot and tears left a stain on his expensive suit, not caring that people could look in and see his tenderness for the kid through the window.

 

“You don’t have to worry about looking weak Peter, if anything what you done was plenty strong. A weaker person might have killed that man by now, even weaker if they had your powers. It takes strength to show restraint, it takes courage to walk away, you did that. You might not have saved her in that moment, but you still can. Sometimes bad things have to happen before the good things come along. Sometimes you need to make a sacrifice for a bigger cause. You’re doing all you need to do Peter, you’re here.” Tony kissed the top of his hair and held him tight.

 

“Justin Hale, his name is Justin Hale”

 

 

 

Ned sat with Betty at lunch, he was worried about Peter because his best friend was worried about Michelle.

 

“Neddy, what’s wrong you’ve got that thinking face again” Betty asked as she scooted closer to his side.

 

Ned pursed his lips “I don’t know, I’m worried about Peter. I don’t know if you noticed how out of it he’s been for the past few days” he took a swing of drink from his can.

 

“I’m sure he’s fine. Where is he anyway?” Betty asked looking around

 

“I don’t know, he asked me to hack into the school network yesterday to get Michelle’s mum’s number. That’s the last I’ve seen or heard from him” Ned pushed his food tray away.

 

“You hacked the school? Ned you could get in so much trouble for that!” Betty sounded worried

 

“No, it’s fine I know what I’m doing.” Ned smiled at her “I might try calling him, I was waiting for him to call me but he never did, and he hasn’t replied to my texts” Ned pulled out his phone

 

“You know they’re probably just skipping school today like they did that time a few weeks ago, I’m pretty sure it’s a month to the day today isn’t it? Maybe they’re off having a romantic little one month anniversary thing” Betty tried to reason with Ned’s worry.

 

He let out a puff of air “Okay, I suppose you’re right. I wont disturb them now, but I am going to call him after school.” Ned decided.

 

Betty let out a sweet laugh “okay, you wouldn’t have had much time anyway”

 

“What do you mean?” he asked. Betty pointed up to the roof and the bell rang as if it was commanded too by her finger.

 

“You never cease to amaze me” Ned smiled at her before planting a kiss on her cheek and walking her to class.

 

 

 

Peter watched Tony from the window as he paced around in the hallway, nearly knocking into a doctor once or twice. After Peter had said the name of Michelle’s worst nightmares, finally understanding what Tony was trying to do and calming down after his little melt down Tony stepped out to call his lawyers.

 

For what felt live an eternity to Peter, 10 minutes for reality, Tony finally hung up the phone and walked back in the room with a grin on his face.

 

“We have a case” Tony said with a smaller smile than a few seconds ago

 

“There’s a but coming I can feel it” Peter said with a straight face.

 

“...but, she has to be awake to testify. Her words are what will put him in his tiny rotting box” Tony said sitting in the seat beside Peter.

 

“Are you kidding me? She’s in a coma, did you tell them that? Can’t they just come down here and take a look at her, this is stupid” Peter deflated into his seat.

 

“I know kiddo, but it has to be done that way. He’ll be picked up by some officers soon, and will be held until when Miss Jones wakes and when that happens everything will get better. It’s going to be hard for her though, hard to talk about what happened in a room full of strangers. So don’t you pork out on her Parker, she’s going to need you. From start to finish.” Tony placed a hand on his shoulder

 

Peter nodded his head with certainty “I know, I’m not going anywhere.”

 

“Okay, good.” Tony squeezed the boys shoulder before removing his hand “Now, because she is going to testify they will place her under protective custody. So there will be a police officer stationed outside the door. It’s only a precaution, just to be safe. Not that you aren’t the safest possible person she could have here with her, but no one else really knows that” Tony ruffled Peters hair which he in received a smile for in return.

 

“Thank you Mr Stark, it really means a lot” Peter leaned into Tony’s side and Tony placed his arm over the boys shoulder.

 

“Anything for you kiddo” Tony said so fondly.

 

Peters eyes found Michelle again. “Do you think it will take long for her to wake up?”

 

“You know that’s Michelle Jones right, what do you think?” Tony nudged Peter a little with his shoulder then pocked a finger at his ribs making Peter chuckle.

 

“I-I really don’t know” Peter said sounding a little scared

 

“Me either buddy, but I know for a fact that you’ll know before anyone else does. And that you’ll be right by her side when it happens, the first face she’ll see is the person that loves her most, the person who takes away her pain and replaces it with something much more powerful. You will see in that moment just how much you mean to her, how much pain you take away, how much she loves you too” Tony spoke with passion, because he knew just how true his words were.

 

“We’ve never said that to each other before” Peter looked up to Tony from where he was.

 

Tony looked down at the kid, he looked so small tucked under his arm like that. “That’s okay” he said “They’re only words Pete. Love is shown through so much more than eight letters.”

Chapter Text

Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday… Nothing. Not a whisper in the wind, not an answered call, not a read text, not a viewed snap chat… nothing. Ned was scared, scared like that time Peters comms went dead on a mission as Ned was leading him through a secured building to find some giant Lizard thing.

 

Ned’s phone wouldn’t even let him leave a message on either of their phones, Michelle’s voice message box was full and Peters didn’t even ring. He’d called May once, she didn’t answer though he couldn’t remember what shifts she was working lately. He even called Happy Hogan, he’d saved that number for emergencies after homecoming… it went to voice box too.

 

He was stumped because surly someone would have told him if there was some secret mission, or a trip or literally anything so he wouldn’t be sat here in his home room on a Monday morning freaking out over where his friends had disappeared to for four days now.

 

“Hey Flash” Ned whispered before his mind could catch up to his mouth and stop it from moving before it had.

 

Flash whipped his head around to see Ned sitting in the chair opposite him “What?” he snarled out

 

“You haven’t seen Peter or Michelle around have you?” Ned asked shyly

 

Flash rolled his eye’s before shaking his head and looking in the other direction.

 

Ned looked to his desk, thumbs fiddling. He reached an arm out and tapped Flash on the shoulder.

 

Flash stiffened as he straightened in his chair then slowly turned around to face Ned again. “What, Ned?” Flash said through his teeth.

 

“Not even out of school?” Ned squinted as he asked the question, looking to the floor. His voice wobbled in worry and fear.

 

“Ned!” Flash yelled in frustration at his unwanted interruption.

 

Ned coward down with a small “sorry”

 

Flash looked over at Ned as the class went on, not paying attention to anything the teacher had said, and honestly the boy just looked lost, then Flash remembered something and internally cursed himself for not figuring it out sooner.

 

As the bell rang and the room emptied, Ned sat looking aimlessly at his desk until the teacher called out to him bringing his attention back to reality. Flash rolled his eyes before waiting at the door for Ned.

 

“Ned” he called out as Ned walked passed without an ounce of notice as Flash stood there waiting for him. Ned stopped, looking frazzled and turned around to meet Flash’s concerned gaze. “I think I might know where Michelle and Peter are” he said

 

Ned quickly dragged his feet over to Flash looking excited. “Come on, I’ll take you.” Flash started walking off.

 

“We have a math quiz” Ned pointed his thumb behind him.

 

Flash walked back over to where Ned stood in the hallway, dodging the few rushing students in his way “Ned, I think this is more important than a quiz” he seemed serious.

 

“What do you know?” Ned’s light demeanour dropped.

 

“Not that I really care, but my dad did say something about seeing two of my Decathalon team mates in the hospital the other night. I hadn’t thought anything of it, but when you mentioned Peter and Michelle I realised I hadn’t seen them for a while either.” Flash pulled the straps on his bag awkwardly. “I don’t know if it’s them, but…” his words trailed off.

 

Ned stared at him, like he was waiting for more. Flash could see he was scared, he could see how much anxiety was running through him the second Flash had said the word ‘Hospital’. Then, Ned walked passed Flash and out the door. Flash ran after him.

 

The car ride was weird, a strange tension floated through the air and around the hum of the soft instrumental music Flash had playing as he drove them to the hospital not thinking to change it in their rush. It was interesting to Ned to see Flash, the schools go to DJ for house parties who makes crazy upbeat mashups, showing himself in this raw moment of concern for his peers not bothering to hide behind a persona of some douche with no feelings for others. Listening to classical piano music, it was unreal, It was a nice thing to see, to be there to witness such an act of boldness.

 

“Did your dad say anything else?” Ned said as he began to focus his thoughts back to his friends.

 

Flash furrowed his brows and shook his head.

 

Another long moment of silence, covering a whole piano symphony. “Why are you doing this?” Ned asked, hoping it hadn’t sounded too rude.

 

Flash turned down the music volume before looking to Ned as they pulled up to a stop light “Because, we are all apart of a team are we not.” Ned nodded “And I’m really not as heartless as everyone thinks, I don’t want to be classed as the ‘bully’ any more Ned.” He fell back in to his seat looking at the lights “There’s so much more worth to being ‘the nice guy’.” He looked Ned in the eye “I want friends who actually care, like you do for Peter and Michelle.” Flash’s shoulders relaxed as he finally was rid of that notion from his mind. For so long he has wanted someone to tell, and who better than the friendliest guy in school.

 

“Thank you.” Ned smiled at him, even in his own time of crisis “And, I think that’s pretty cool”

 

Flash smiled back “T-that actually… means a lot”

 

After the ten minutes it took for Flash to find a car park, they finally went inside the hospital already lost in their own thoughts as they looked around for any clue as to where they might need to go.

 

Flash called out to Ned as he found the way to the reception desk. “Hello boy’s, My name is Jess. What can I do for you?” the young woman asked with a sweet smile on her lips.

 

“um, where looking for” Ned paused to think as he looked to Flash. Because they had no idea who was actually in the hospital, was it Michelle or was it Peter, both? Were they sick or injured? They had no idea.

 

Jess licked her lips and squinted her eyes looking to Ned in her own thought “You wouldn’t by any chance be Ned would you?” she asked surprising them both.

 

Ned began to bob his head up and down “I-I, yes, I, that’s me. Ma’am” Ned said in a fumble fight with his tongue

 

“Come with me” Jess stood from her desk and started walking with the two teens following her every step.

 

She rounded a corner as they walked down the corridore. It was eerie and the harsh smell filled their noses. Ned’s anxiety picked up as they walked passed the general care ward he was hoping to stop at, where people were admitted for minor illnesses or injuries. It got worse and he started to sweat as they walked passed the surgical ward, then again as they passed critical care unit. His heart skipped a beat as they walked through the doors of the intensive car unit, he looked over to Flash and instantly knew the boy meant what he said about his father telling him nothing more. Flash’s face was scrunched as he read the sign, knowing exactly what this ward was used for.

 

“Okay” Jess stopped them before going any further “Now, I have a feeling you have no idea what you are about to see” she asked and Ned swallowed as Flash nodded his head.

 

Jess let out a breath “You’re friend Michelle was admitted last Sunday night” she offered

 

“What?” Flash said

 

“Why what happened?” Ned asked at the same time, a little louder than Flash.

 

“That, I can’t directly expose to you” she gave them both a small sorry smile “but,” she started walking again. “I can tell you she is jumping milestones in her recovery” they stopped by a police officer. “especially since Peters first night here on Thursday”

 

“No coffee this time?” the officer joked with the receptionist

 

“No, but I did bring you two teenage boys who have come to see their friend” Jess smiled at the man.

 

The officer, who’s name tag read Greggs looked over Ned and Flash curiously. “Okay, bags please boys” he asked kindly.

 

Flash and Ned looked to each other confused “Um, Jess… why is there an officer stationed outside the ward?” Ned asked slowly as his mind tried to find a valid answer that wouldn’t give him a heart attack.

 

“Just a precaution” Greggs said as he looked through the boys bags.

 

“for what though?” Flash asked a little annoyed at the non answers they were receiving.

 

“We can’t disclose that information either.” Jess again spoke with a sorrow tone to her voice.

 

“Can Peter?” Ned asked after a short moment of thought

 

Jess smiled at him “He said you would catch on quickly, yes. Come now, I’ll take you to them” Jess looked to the boys as they retrieved their bags.

 

They followed her to one of the few occupied rooms in the ward. It was the last and had a large window to look through, like all the others they had passed. They tried to avert their gaze to the other two people in rooms, it churned Ned’s stomach to see. The people were hooked up to cords and machines and the rooms were full of equipment he wouldn’t have a clue how to name.

 

They made it to the end of the hall, and Ned’s heart dropped at the sight that was placed before him. Two of his best friends, Michelle Jones, splayed on a hospital bed looking beaten and taken by an unwelcome haze of sleep. And Peter Parker, sitting on the end of her bed with his legs crossed, book open in hand as he reads to her.

 

“He’s reading her one of her favourite books; Anne of Green Gables” Jess says leaning on the ledge of the window, tilting her head. Her words became softer as she spoke.

 

“The doctors all thought he was crazy” She continued with a laugh. “He told them about the research he’d done, how he found an article on some study called ‘is any body there’ and how it showed that hearing the voices of a coma patients loved ones exercises circuits in the brain which can trigger the first glimpses of awareness.”

 

“A coma?” Ned looked shocked.

 

Jess pursed her lips as she nodded, she looked back through the window.

 

“Why did they think he was crazy?” Flash asked following Jess’ gaze.

 

“When her results came back, after they done her brain scan this morning they finally saw what I’ve been looking at the whole time.” Jess says in an almost fascinated way

 

“And what’s that?” Ned asked as he too looked into the window.

 

“How strong their bond is” she said with awe.

 

Inside that room, they all take a moment to relish in the way he reads to her in her sleep to fill the blank pages of her mind. A mind that hasn’t rested this well in a while. Because it’s always running, from bad memories, and hate and neglect.

 

There was a moment of peace though, like a sudden breath of air soon to be swallowed by a wave of unwanted emotion, a breath that was beginning to grow and overtake the fear of being captured. It was the happy future she thought of before she went to sleep in his arms, it was the unknown feeling of love that came in so many more ways then she knew what to do with, the wanted feeling of acceptance into his world, the needed presence of Peter Parker who with nothing more than a look could tear her fears to pieces.

 

“Pete” Ned says quietly as he and Flash enter the room. Flash more awkward, not looking away from Michelle.

 

Peter turns around, placing the book in his lap closed over his thumb. “Hey Ned” Peter looked curiously to Flash and swallowed “Flash” his voice was more accusatory.

 

“h-hey” Flash said quickly looking to his feet

 

“What are you doing here?” Peter seemed cross shifting his position to look at Flash better.  

 

“I- uh”

 

“He brought me here” Ned cut Flash off catching Peters attention “His dad told him two of his decathalon team mates were here, and when I was asking around if anyone had seen either of you well…” Ned’s sentence died off.

 

Peter didn’t say anything, instead looked to the floor. Ned walked over to the bed unsure of what that meant.

 

“Peter, what happened to Michelle? Why… why didn’t you call? Or answer any of my calls, or texts, or anything. Dude don’t you think I would have liked to know that Michelle is in hospital?” Ned’s voice was raising louder, Flash noticing the hurt on Peter’s face put a hand on Ned’s shoulder to get him to stop.

 

“Don’t you think I would have liked to know that Michelle is in a fricken coma?!” Ned gestured to her with his hand.

 

“Ned” Flash said making Ned look to him. Flash nodded his head in Peter’s direction and Ned looked to his best friend. He had two fresh tears rolling down his cheeks and he had a look of fear on his face.

 

Ned put a hand on his friends shoulder and Peter looked up to him, that is when Ned noticed the pain Peter was going through. He had the same look on his face he had worn around for weeks after Ben had passed away, the same lost eyes looked at him and the same exhausted breaths deflated his appearance.

 

“Oh Peter” Ned shook his head as he moved in to hug him, the moment Ned wrapped his arms around Peter the room filled with sadness. Peter’s shoulders shook as his staggered breaths and elated cries left wet spots on Ned’s shirt and Flash looked away to give the two some privacy.

 

Ned could feel his own tears pricking at the surface he had to hold them in though, he had to stand strong for Peter. Because his friend needed him right now, he needed him more then he ever has before. Because this was something unpredictable and no one knew what the end result was going to hold.

 

It was a waiting game, a waiting game with no timed ending and no rules to follow. It just was as it is, a good day where a brain scan showed extravagant measures of stimulation, but tomorrow… tomorrow Michelle might need the breathing tubes back that had been removed the second night Peter was there. Or her heart rate might spike at some random time for yet another unknown reason. They might yet find a bleed on the brain they missed before hand, or a random tumour that grew from thin air. There was nothing to do except wait, and waiting for something you can’t help is the hardest thing Peter has ever done.

 

To just sit there all day and all night counting her breathes for any abnormality that might be a sign, to brush her hair and cut her nails and rub circles into her palm for any stimulation to trigger a memory of normalcy. To read to her for hours her favourite books and tell her his favourite memories of being with her so she could hear his voice, so a memory could be a trigger to the circuits in her brain. He held her hand when they took her blood or changed over a cannula, he smiled and cooed her when her face flinched as they did the latter.

 

He tried all he could think of and stayed for every moment he could, went with her to every MRI holding her hand as she was wheeled down the halls. The only time he left was when they would do her personal care, he’d go down to get a coffee and people watch. Filling in the blanks of each of their own morbid, earth crushing situations. He would tell each story he made up to Michelle after he returned, laughing at the funny parts he put in he thought she’d like.

 

He would give her a kiss on the cheek as he said good morning and he would give her a kiss on the temple as he said goodnight. But everyday that’s all he could do, and until the day she wakes he wont even know if it helps.

 

After Peter had settled, thanked Flash for helping Ned, and told the long story of what had happened including about the court case Stark was setting up all three boys found themselves snaking on the chocolate bar May had snuck in for Peter last night. Flash and Ned had filled Peter in on the latest school gossip and Ned told Peter him and Betty were still doing well, although they had their first fight over the weekend.

 

“So, how can I keep you entertained if you don’t have a phone?” Ned asked with a friendly roll of his eyes.

 

“Mr Stark is bringing me a new one this afternoon. Flash why don’t you leave your number and I can update you as well if you want?” Peter asked with a kind smile. He had tried to include him in his and Ned’s conversations all morning, considering how awkward Flash looked when Peter had finally found him there again after his much needed hug from his best friend.

 

“um, sure. I’d like that” Flash returned the grin “When I get home I’ll ask my dad to have a look over Michelle’s file. He has a reputation for picking out things other people miss... if you want of course.”

 

“Yeah, that’d be great. Thank-” Peter stops mid sentence, whipping his head around to look at Michelle “Ned, press the nurse button.” he says calmly.

 

Flash turns to look at Michelle, she looks fine to him. Ned furrows his brows at the statement as well.

 

Peter stands abruptly from his seat, he can feel it. There’s a sudden change in the atmosphere, like the vibrations of Michelle’s own frequency had changed and his spider senses are all pointing to her. LOOK LOOK LOOK, SOMETHINGS GOING TO HAPPEN, GET UP, GET UP. They had screamed at him, so he listened.

 

As he gets to the bedside he says again louder and more desperate “Press the button!”

 

A nurse comes in and tuns off the beep “Peter, is everything okay?” She asks the small smile dropping from her lips as she looks over at him.

 

“Something is wrong” he looks up to the nurse a perplexed look on his face.

 

The nurse quickly does a quick check over everything, finding nothing wrong she looks to him “She’s okay Peter, nothing is wrong” his face is in a concerned state as he looks at Michelle so she adds “Why don’t you and your friends go and get something for lunch and we’ll change her sheets and I’ll do a thorough check”

 

“Okay” he nods his head “Come on, May gave me enough to share” Peter said to Ned and Flash as they walked out, he looked over his shoulder once again before he left.

 

In the visitors lounge Ned watched as Peter deflated into a seat, him and Flash began eating glancing between each other before looking back to Peter. He was flicking a piece of lettuce back and forth with his fork and hadn’t eaten a bite.

 

He dropped his fork and leaned his head on his hand with a grunt “There was something wrong, I just don’t know how to explain it” Peter closed his eyes.

 

“I trust you” Ned said casually as he forked a piece of feta from his salad.

 

“Yeah, I know Ned, But your not a nurse or a doctor. This isn’t the first time that has happened, I just I don’t know what it is, but it lasts for like ten minutes every time” Peter said looking up to his friend.’’

 

“What does?” Flash asked curiously

 

Peter flailed his arms around as he tried to find words to describe it “It’s… like a feeling, the room feels different” noticing how crazy he must sound he adds “don’t worry, it’s probably just me being paranoid”

 

Peter and Ned were both surprised when Flash spoke again “I’m going to call dad. You know her better than anyone else does and dad always says gut feelings count” then he left the table and called his father.

 

An hour had passed before Flash’s dad, Dr Thompson, arrived.

“Eugene” his voice was gentle and kind

 

“Hey Dad” Flash said and the two hugged.

 

“Peter, I’m Dr Thompson, Eugenes dad. It’s an honour to finally meet you, my son has mentioned great things about you” Dr Thompson had one of those perfect teethy white smiles you see on billboards, but his eyes were kind and full of a type of comfort that eased Peter and his anxiety the slightest bit.

 

Ned and Peter both looked to Flash curiously hearing that statement and he shied away trying to bury his head in his neck like a turtle.

 

Peter shook the man’s hand with an awkward “Thanks, I think”

 

“Eugene tells me you think there’s something going on with Michelle, is that right?” Dr Thompson asked

 

“Um, yeah. It’s kind of hard to explain, Sir.” Peter leaned on the side of Michelle’s bed

 

“Well, give it your best shot. I’m all ears” The Doctor took a seat next to his son.

 

Peter explained best he could how he fells the room’s energy shift, like Michelle’s vibration frequency is off skew at times, but she looks no different and all her vitals seem to be fine. He tried his best to convince the man he knew there was something wrong, that it wasn’t just a gut feeling. Because his spidey sense picks it up too, and it is never wrong. And that was a challenge in itself, trying to convince everyone without blurting out that he has a literal sixth sense that confirms his concerns.

 

“Okay” the doctor squinted his eye’s as he thought for a moment “Has she done any EEG tests yet?”

 

Peter purses his lips “No, I don’t think so why?” he asks

 

“Really? What doctor doesn’t give a patient in comatose an Electroencephalography exam?” Dr Thompson shakes his head “Right” he says sitting up straighter “I’m taking over her case. I’ll be back” the man stands ruffling Flash’s hair. “I think you two should probably head off, I’m sure your mother isn’t going to be too happy when she finds out you skipped a day of school” he says pointing to Flash from the door.

 

“Okay, see you at home Dad” Flash smiles.

 

Flash and Ned stand from their chairs, readying themselves to depart as Peter stands by Michelle’s bed running his finger along her arm.

 

Peter, Ned and Flash all turn to the door as a new voice enters their ears,the man is completely unknowing to the two latter boys in the room as his hand digs deep into a tote bag on his shoulder. “Okay Underoos, here you go. Only the highest quality, newest aged technology for the-”

 

“Mr Stark” Peter called out cutting off Tony’s words while simultaneously getting the man’s attention to stop his ramble.

 

“Oh” Tony was caught off guard, he cleared his throat at the two star struck faces gaping at him

 

The man chuckled as he walked over to Peter standing beside him. He cleared his throat pulling out a phone and handing it to Peter with a smirk. “Try not to squeeze the life out of this one” he joked nudging Peter’s shoulder with his own.

 

“Thanks” Peter looked up to Stark with a grateful smile. “Um, this is Ned and Flash by the way… I think you broke them” Peter huffed out a laugh.

 

“H-h-h-hi” Ned said between hyperventilated breaths with a little wave, Flash just stared.

 

“Ahh, this is the famous guy in the chair I hear of constantly” Tony said making Ned come out with some inhuman sound.

 

Tony looks to Flash “Flash?” he says curiously “As in the boy that calls you Penis Parker, Flash?” Tony raises his eyebrows

 

Flash looks as if he is about to wet his pants “Mr Stark, I told you that is just a joke. And besides Flash’s dad is MJ’s new doctor” Peter sends a small smile Flash’s way, then a suggestive shut up, his dad is michelle’s doctor now so don’t ruin it face back to Tony.

 

“I um, we better get going before he comes back” Flash says quickly grabbing Ned by the shirt collar and pulling him away out the door with a shout to Peter “Bye, text us!”

 

Tony looks to Peter and the boy lets out a sheepish giggle “New doctor? What’d you do to the other one?” Tony asks taking a step back from Peter with a cautious, playful look on his face

 

Peter squinted his eyes and smirked “That’s classified” making Tony laugh.

 

It was 10:30pm by the time Peter put down his new phone from texting Ned, Flash, May and Tony ‘goodnight’. The afternoon was painfully slow, even with Tony making as many puns as he could with the hospital jargon in his attempt to make Peter laugh, which honestly just turned out to be a lot of eye roll situations.

 

He showed Peter some special features he had added to his phone, specifically spider affiliated features. So they messed around a lot with that before Dr Thompson came back in by 3pm, with a whole new team of specialists. They were all introduced to Peter, who introduced them all to Tony. And soon they were all filled in on the court case that would take place.

 

Michelle was then hooked up to the EEG machine that was brought up from another part of the hospital. They were informed that the test would take around an hour or two to complete, so Tony decided to take Peter out for dinner. They went to a sushi restaurant that was close by to the hospital and Tony talked about the latest sightings of the Rouge Avengers and how he was trying to get Ross out of the picture, then about how Pepper had to fire her personal assistant due to some illegal dog fighting bets she found amongst the paper work he had given her.

 

Peter mentioned how May was considering a career change, but just didn’t know how to go about it. Tony thought that was a perfect idea and texted Pepper straight away. When they had returned to the hospital the test had been finished up ten minutes prior and Jess was extremely confused at all the new faces as she returned for her shift, but was pleased that they were there just because Peter looked the most relaxed he has since last Thursday night. Tony left by 7pm, earlier than he had the last few times he’d been, due to a phone call he received.

 

Then by 8pm Dr Thompson came back with the test results after Peter had showered and started reading to Michelle again.

 

“Hey Doc” Peter said folding the corner of the page and closing the book as the man entered the room.

 

“Peter” he nodded pulling a chair over to the end of the bed Peter was sat at by Michelle’s feet. “Have a good feed?”

 

“Yeah, we went to the sushi restaurant down the road” He turned to face Dr Thompson

 

“ahh, love that place” he smiled at Peter who returned the gesture.

 

“Are those the results?” Peter asked looking at the file sitting in Thompson’s lap, wanting to know what the hell is happening to his MJ.

 

He looked down as he opened it and lifted it to sit on the bed between them. On the page there was a sheet of paper covered in rows of configured wavy lines. Peter had no idea what he was looking at, seeing this Dr Thompson began to explain.

 

“Okay so see all these letters” he points along the side of the graphed sheet “These are alphabetical abbreviations that identify the lobe or area of the brain where an electrode records from, so F is for frontal, Fp is frontalpolar and so on” he looked up to Peter to see if he understood, then continued.

 

“The numbers that are shown next to them are the localization of the brainwaves within each lobe. The even numbers refer to the right side of the brain and the odd numbers refer to the left side. And the label ‘z’ points to the electrode sites in the mid line of the head.” he stops again to let the information seep in.

 

“You with me?” he asks after a short while of Peter trying to dissect the EEG results before him.

 

Peter looks up and nods his head “Alright see here?” The doctor points to one of the spikes on a recorded data line “This shows features of focal inter-ictal epileptiform activity in the form of sharp waves which are localised to the right anterior to the mid temporal lobe.” He points to the places on his own head to where the lobe is as he explains.

 

Peter furrows his brows together, and Dr Thompson continues “This inter-ictal epileptiform tells us that Michelle has damage to her subcortical white matter which results in functional disturbances in the cortex.”

 

“What does that mean?” Peter asks

 

“Broadly speaking, Michelle has a lesion on her brain which is a type of abnormal tissue damage.” Dr Thompson lets out a breath “Peter, because this damage also affects the cortex, the rhythms have become epileptiform.”

 

“So she has epilepsy?” Peter looks over to Michelle, his heart racing.

 

“Nonconvulsive status epilepticus to be precise, but in a way… Yes, she has epilepsy.” Dr Thompson leans back in his chair pushing his hair back.

 

Peter turns back to the doctor, his mind is doing 360 degree flips trying to understand. He does understand but “Why can’t we see it though? Aren’t seizures like something you can see happening, convulsions and all that?”

 

“That’s the difference with NCSE, most seizures will end quite quickly lasting for just a few moments or a few minutes, but these are prolonged seizures that will manifest primarily as an altered mental status as opposed to the dramatic convulsions of a tonic-clonic status of epilepticus.”

 

“So, we wont even know they’re happening?” Peter closed his eyes taking in a deep breath to calm himself. Rethinking the words in his head. So only I will know they’re happening.

 

“Unfortunately no, not without her wearing the EEG because of the lack of prominent motor symptoms. But I have booked her in for a test every two days until she wakes up and we can do an ambulatory EEG test” at the creased line that formed between Peter eyebrows Dr Thompson informed him “It’s pretty much the same thing, just over a 24hour period to get better results”

 

Peter nodded again, his heart was having it’s own convulsions as the doctor made his leave.

 

He ditched the book for his phone, and got straight to researching anything he could find. Climbing into his own bed after leaving his routine kiss to her temple and a whispered goodnight. After a few hours of intensive reading into this new found diagnosis, he has a small glimmer of hope that it will fade and wont have any affect on her prolonged status when she wakes up. He has read bits and pieces about post traumatic epilepsy and temporal lobe epilepsy, which both have studies and real life cases proving that in some circumstances it can resolve it self.

 

But finding the statistics of that actually happening, taking into account that Michelle has a lesion on the cortex of her brain is ripping his insides apart with fear that she will end up with a permanent diagnosis of Epilepsy. Because the further he got along in his research the worse his fears became, finding the lesions on the brain can cause more than one problem at a time. Sure some people’s healed thanks to medication and rehabilitation, but some just aren’t that lucky and find themselves possessing more problems.

 

And the further he looked along that list, the higher his anxiety spiked. Brain aneurysms, strokes, multiple sclerosis, tumours the list just kept growing and his heart just kept racing. He kept reading seeing memory loss, tinnitus, then the last one that made him lock his phone and put it away and out of reach… death.

 

He was so frightened, Michelle didn’t deserve this. She has a long way to come before anything is going to be remotely better for her. Peter made a promise though, too himself and too Michelle. A promise he is going to keep no matter how hard things get, no matter how MJ will be from this moment and into their future. A promise to be there, to never leave, not in this life or the next no matter what. And he knows that Michelle would do the same, he knows she would be there every step of the way, just as he will be there through everything.

 

As he closes his eyes thinking of how their future has been shaped to something new and different to how they have imagined it all those times before, he whispers to himself, to the room, to MJ

 

“Please wake up, please wake up, please wake up”  

 

Because that is the only thing Michelle needs to do on her own, no one else can do this part for her. It is the last step from her normal life, it is the first step to her recovery. The only way she can turn, the only path she can take because there is no other option and Peter will keep wishing, keep praying and asking her for the simple task that is just a breath from death.

 

To wake up.

 

 

 

I’m coming, I’m trying. I promise I’m trying my hardest. It’s hard, everything is heavy… my arms, my eyes, my breaths.

 

Peter, where are we? Why do I have to wake up?

 

The sounds are unfamiliar, the smell is intense and air is cold. I am so tired, but I don’t really remember falling asleep.

 

Peter, how long have I been asleep?

 

Your voice sounds so… blight and jaded, yet feels so desperate and importune.

 

Peter, why is that?

 

Why is it I can remember the feel of your lips to my skin, but I cannot see that look of need in your eyes? Why is it that I hear you speak to me the words of my favourite books, yet the way your chin quivers when you cry with the story is no longer in my sight?

 

Why can’t I see your eyes, your chin, your tears… you?

 

Why can I still hear your cry? Even when the story is done, and they lived a happily ever after.

 

Happily ever after, I’d like that. The resolution that seems to restore any problem, in any fairytale. Too bad we don’t live in one of those, one where we’d fall in love in a day and that was that. But then again if I had too chose one, our fairy tail would probably be the story of The Beauty and the Beast. I could be Belle, the strangest girl in the village reading all the books I could find. And you, I’d like to say the Beast… But I can’t because I’ve never found any hatred in your heart. You’d be charted as someone more like Lumière, a heroic candlestick who makes means to an end who’s destined love is for a feather duster. Our story wouldn’t be ours, and i wouldn’t like that.

 

So I’ll stick with our reality, no matter how close it matches to a psychological drama instead. Characterised with an orphaned super hero and a domestic violence victim, who go through so much shit that their love is bonded with every part of themselves, caring more for each other than anything they ever have, their trust is more than ‘I’ll catch you when you fall’, and ‘us’ is no longer just a pronoun, where the story isn’t complete without the iconic ‘I love you’ to make it real and final and forever, what a plot huh.

 

I don’t feel so tired, my fingers feel the jaggered pattern of the blanket beneath them, there’s a constant beep that’s already on my nerves, the cool air raises the hairs on my arms and send a shiver down my spine, are you still here?

 

Peter, there’s something I need to tell you to complete our story, to make it real and final and forever… Peter?

 

Peter?” …

Chapter Text

A tingle by the nape of his neck, like a calling for his consciousness screaming for him. Peter kept his eye’s closed wondering if Michelle was about to have another absence seizure, he laid there waiting for the air to shift. It never did, which he was extremely grateful for and after a few minutes he settled his heart rate back down to a reasonable pace and began to drift off back to sleep.   

 

… “Peter?”  

 

The voice was quiet, the word was whispered, yet the sound rung through the room like an echo travelling through a dark tunnel. Peters body vibrated with the call of his name, a chill set over him throwing his eye’s open wide in a millisecond. His blanket flew to the floor and his feet hit the ground as he practically bounded from one side of the room to the other.

 

Peters heart was in his throat as he finally made it to her, to see Michelle looking up at him. A small smile made it to her lips and she looked doe eyed as she took him in. His smile grew exponentially, making those adorable creases by the corners of his eyes.

 

“Hi” was all he could manage for the time being. He scooped her up into his arms and held her close sitting on the bed beside her. Her head fell to the crease in his neck and she listened as he sobbed out a cry, why she did not know but the sound broke her heart in an instant.

 

She pulled away as far as he would enable her too and looked up to him cupping his cheek with her hand. “Hey, hey” her voice was rasp from the lack of use, though the emotion in her tone still showed as she tried to comfort him.

 

He sniffled opening his eyes to see her pressing her forehead to his and she wiped away a tear as it fell with her thumb. He closed his eyes again as she pressed a gentle kiss to his lips.

 

As she pulled away again and looked into his eyes, hand still gently caressing his jaw she spoke “Peter, what’s wrong?”

 

He looked at her then, really looked at her. He could see how much she had healed since he first arrived, he could see the confusion in her eyes and how her lips are chapped from the circulated air. The way her skin had faded from her natural glow, but her cheeks were flushed from the sudden movement and affection. How her hair is falling over her face as it always has, with the natural curl bouncing with her movements.

 

He lifted his hand and pushed the hair behind her ear as he smiled at her, his eyes still filled with tears. “Nothing” he said shaking his head “Nothing is wrong” he finished with a wet huff of a laugh.

 

Michelle tilted her head to lean into the palm of his hand that was still hovering by her face.

 

“Michelle” She looked up from the kiss she laid in his hand with an awareness of the use of her name, because Peter hasn’t called her Michelle once since that afternoon she was pronounced the captain of the decathlon team.

 

She held her gaze on him as he spoke “I am so sorry” she furrowed her brows at his words “I never should have…” Peter looks away from her for a moment, leaving the statement open.

 

He looks back to her “I’m sorry”

 

“Hey” she gives him a soft smile “it’s okay, I forgive you. Whatever it is… I forgive you”

 

Peter takes the hand he had holding her face to pull down her own from his cheek looking at her intensely “You don’t remember what happened?”

 

Michelle looks a little caught off guard as she shakes her head softly

 

“Then how could you forgive me if you don’t even remember what I done?” he can feel her hand squeeze his tighter as he asks.

 

Michelle runs her bottom lip through her teeth looking down to their linked fingers. “Because I will always forgive the people I love” she looks up too him and swallows.

 

She watches as his eyes dance over her face, and the realisation of her words finally take a place to settle in his mind. Then she feels the rush of her blood filling her cheeks to blush as his lips take residence to her own and she is lost in an ocean of an endless forever as he shows his consensus.

 

As he breaks their kiss he leaves the seal of his accord in four simple words that have become a constant and obvious perception for the passed few days. With his arms wrapped around her and an uneven breath he proclaims “I love you too”

 

Jess was carrying a file back to her desk when she noticed the movement in the room, she stopped and peered in through the window seeing the silhouettes folded around each other. A smile tugged at her lips and her heart emitted a flutter as Peter pulled Michelle close to his chest running his fingers through her hair and leaving a kiss on the top of her head. Michelle had her arms wrapped around his neck as her own fingers danced through the tangles of his brown curls.

 

Jess felt the brash air hit the tears in her eyes, she wiped them away profusely before any could make it passed her cheek bones. She shook her head as she walked away trying to rid the many emotions running through her as she made it to the nurses desk.

 

It had been twenty seven days since Michelle had woken up from her coma. Twenty one days since she had been released from the hospital, there had been many ups and downs throughout this time. She had eventually retained her memories of what had happened, Flash and Ned came to visit frequently and Jess’ phone number had now been added to her contact list. They had hit it off immediately as Jess brought Michelle a new book she had never heard of before. On the second day in the new ward she was admitted too, the worst of Peter’s fears came true when Michelle dropped from where she was as she walked to the lavatory. Her first authentic seizure, all too real and true bringing many tests and trepidation for the future.

 

Peter found and attended a training course shortly after so he would know how to manage them in the future, he was so afraid because he had no idea what to do and all he could do was stand there and watch calling out for help. It was a true moment of verity showing him the real exertion of the situation at hand, it was terrifying and everything he read about found a new daunting exposition on any circumstances that could possibly become a new threat.

 

Along with his new investigations he also requested that anyone he might leave MJ alone with on any occasion would also receive some seizure management training as well. Not to the extent he had endured wanting to be as thorough as possible with one on one training asking dozens of questions causing Michelle to have a good laugh at him shaking her head. It was one of the many qualities she loved about him, he just couldn’t help it he was naturally solicitous. Always conscious of the unforeseen path ahead and ready to tackle any problem thrown their way. Because he wasn’t letting her do any of this on her own, he had made a promise and he isn’t going to break it.

 

In the passed 23 days after the first seizure she had had only 12 others which to Doctor Thompson was a fair amount, but not exponential enough for any more worry than they initially had. Though they had increased slightly as the last 4 of those were within the passed week.

 

After being released from the hospital and Jess’ long and loving hug Michelle had resided to living with Peter and May back in their apartment. May even signed for guardianship with Tony’s help when child services tried to take her away as she was released. It wasn’t even weird being together at Peters apartment all the time, it wasn’t really any different from before when she stayed over four of the seven nights a week anyway.

 

Neither of them had initially returned to school yet as Michelle was still under Police protection from the man she once had the will to call her step father. And Peter wasn’t letting her out of his sights as he was still extremely on edge about her seizures. Ned and Flash had brought them homework over a few afternoons, but the teachers weren’t too worried considering the circumstances.

 

She can’t not admit that it is adorable how much he is fretting over her, because really it is just that. The only problem is Michelle is beginning to worry about him and how much stress he seems to be under, all it takes is for her to sneeze and he has launched himself from where ever he was to her in under a heartbeat of a second. Not to mention it is a little irritating to have someone constantly watching you and waiting for your tragedy to strike just so they can pick up the pieces for you.

 

She sits up from her place on their bed carefully maneuvering her body from his arms that lay over her torso stopping to gaze down at his sleeping form for a moment. He seems so calm and peaceful in this moment as she watches the content rise and fall of his chest before looking over the soft curls of his fringe that are settled over his forehead. She runs her fingers through them pushing them back to see the entirety of his face placing a light kiss in their wake. As she wriggles her self off the edge of the bed out from the comfort of Peters grasp she hears his shuffle of discontent before he pulls his hands under his chin and he relaxes again.

 

She stands in the dark room for a moment letting her eyes adjust to the bleakness of morning light pushing its way through the folds of the blinds. She scratches her hair and heads out to the bathroom returning a moment later with washed hands smelling of lavender to see Peter perched up on some pillows looking at his phone. Michelle crawls her way up the bed until she can slide her head and shoulders under Peters arms and lays on his chest.

 

Peter stops scrolling through his twitter account long enough to run a hand over Michelle’s hair and kiss the top of her head.

 

“Morning” Peter says softly to not ruin the quiet mood

 

Michelle whispers her own “morning” moving her head to look up at Peter and peck him on the lips before turning back to look at his phone.

 

“What’s that?” she asks seeing an article named Tony Stark’s Charitable Court Case.

 

Peter looks to his phone seeing the article dropping the phone face down on his chest and pushing him self a little higher up the headboard to look at Michelle properly

 

“That’s what I was trying to tell you yesterday” he sighs rubbing his face.

 

It’s Michelle’s turn to shift her position “You mean when you were distracted by the cookie dough ice-cream May came home with” she raises an eye brow.

 

Peter squints his eyes at her “Okay, cookie dough ice cream saved you from a restless night of sleep, you should be thanking the cookie dough ice cream” he says smugly.

 

Michelle raised her other eyebrow

 

“MJ, it’s the court case. Someone leaked the details to the press about Tony’s personal lawyers being point on a case and well, they pushed for information and got what they wanted” Peter says regretfully

 

Michelle looks at her hands thinking to her self for a silent minute before looking back to Peter “Show me”

 

Peter finds the article again on his feed that had been re-tweeted over 24thousand times and passes the phone to Michelle who takes it with a sigh as she reads

 

TONY STARK’S CHARITABLE COURSE CASE

 

 

Tony Stark our saviour in hot-rod red flying armour is at it again saving the hopes of the next generation, this time for someone a little more close to home. Michelle Jones is a 17 year old with a passion for protest, standing righteous and true to her self according to students at one of the NYC STEM school’s ; Midtown School of Science and Technology. On our visit we received an abundance of gorgeous messages and her locker wasn’t hard to spot walking through the hall decorated with heartfelt letters of well wishes, flowers and post it notes. Speaking to a handful of teachers we came to the conclusion that Miss Jones was one for future redemption and cause of effect to the likes of saving this world from not just the stupor of many problems with human rights but also her ideas on climate change are some that need to be heard. Even a statement from Tony Stark himself has put a great pinnacle of respect on Jones’ repertoire stating that he has “gone toe to toe with her on multiple occasions, but she always comes out with the last word that has me thinking for hours until I realise her argument was ten times stronger than my own”. Unfortunately for this young and upcoming leader of change her educating of sorts on these issues to the face of politicians has been postponed for the time being as she is about to fight for her own much more personal cause with the help of Stark and his Lawyers. Recently Michelle Jones has been fighting for her life in a coma after she was brutally attacked in a case of domestic violence at her family home by her step father. According to sources within the hospital she was admitted to she had many visits by Stark, though we have been told that initially he came to comfort another. Peter Parker, a young and upcoming protege who Stark Industries employees have described as “more than an intern” as he “hangs around in Mr Stark’s personal lab more often than not” and “Is fussed over” by Stark himself which the other interns and some SI employee’s say is “cute to watch, it gives a sense of Stark’s soft side when Peter is around”. This is the first of any reports that Tony Stark has been seen taking on any of his interns personally and we will touch base on this in the future. We have reason to believe that Stark and his personal lawyers have attended to this case due to the close relationship with Peter Parker who is also a student at Midtown School of Science and Technology and is the boyfriend of Michelle Jones. A source who has said to have been close to the couple through Miss Jones’ recovery at the hospital spoke very fondly of the pairs relationship “They were always together, even when she was still in her coma he never left her side. And now that she is awake you can see every ounce of affection between the two and it is everything anyone could ever hope for, they’re lucky to have each other”. Michelle Jones has been released from the hospital, but is yet to return to school as her police protection detail is still in place until the initial date of the hearing in four days time.

 

 

“So…” Michelle puts Peters phone on the bed beside her

 

“So…” Peter repeated her word, quieter waiting patiently for her response

 

MJ looked at him, and his smile grew as he saw a certain look in her eye’s he knew all too well. “Let’s go to school”

 

His grin faded, that wasn’t exactly what he thought she was about to say. “School?” he asked

 

Michelle’s hair fell over her eyes a little as she nodded her head.

 

Peter pushed it behind her ear as he answered slowly trying to figure her motive “Why exactly are we going to school?”

 

“Because dummy” she laid a quick kiss to his lips “I miss my friends” she smiled softly.

 

By lunch it took only an argument with May, then one with Tony, another with the chief of police and even one with Happy plus all of Peter’s freak outs about what might happen if word got out and her step dad came to find her as he was released after his 2 week hold in community jail. And all of Peters frantic running around the apartment making sure he had rescue drugs ready in both of their bags not to mention the seizure management plans and training manuscript he had printed off for all of her teachers, the cafeteria, janitorial and office staff. She would have called him an idiot if he wasn’t so stressed out running hundreds of scenarios through his head about what could happen.

 

“Peter” She called out for the third time from the seat beside him in the back of Happy’s car.

 

He looked at her with wide eyes like he was just caught doing something he shouldn’t have been “Relax, please.” she pleaded

 

“But what if-” he started but was interrupted by her hand linking with his

 

“It’s going to be fine” she looked him in the eye as she spoke “Peter” she said when he sighed and scratched his head “It will be” she gave him a warm smile she knew he couldn’t say no too.

 

Peter leaned his head back on the seat and turned to face her “It better be”

 

Michelle rested her head on his shoulder with a kiss to his hand.

 

Walking into the school was strange, her heart started to race as everyone they passed in the halls stared at her as they made their way to the cafeteria where all of their friends would be sitting for lunch. Peter squeezed her hand tighter as he heard her heart pumping harder and harder.

 

“We can go, you don’t have to do this” he whispered to her as they headed for the cafeteria doors.

 

She turned to him and for a quiet second as she considered it, just turning back and going home to finish the last season of Stranger Things snuggled up on the couch with Peter. In the same moment she though back to the article and how people had talked about her like she was dead, like she was incapable of continuing on with her life, like all that mattered was her pain and not her future because she got pushed down. Michelle is a fighter, she is ready to stand back up again and the first step is to show people, to show her people that she is the same Michelle she was before, maybe even stronger. And she is ready to fight for that, fight for her way through this society and prove to everyone that she can do everything she could before with an even deeper passion to push herself. Everyone knew now, they know what happened to her, they know that her step father is a monster, they know that he broke her down until there was nothing left. She wants to show them that she is still there and that she can keep going.

 

“No, I do” She said and she walked through the doors.

 

The commotion in the room died down quickly and a thousand eyes burned through her skin. She watched as people began to lean into one another to whisper, her attention was turned to excited yells of the decathlon team table. Even Mr Harrington was there with a wide smile on his face.

 

They walked over and were bombarded in tight hugs from Cindy, Betty and Ned even though he had only seen them just yesterday they each accepted their hugs with open arms.

 

“Good to see you Jones” Harrington said over one of the girls second hugs and she smiled at him.

 

“What are you doing here?” Cindy said excitedly to Michelle “I thought the news said you were under police protection or something?” everyone seemed to turn to their conversation in anticipation for an answer

 

Peter stepped up to answer as he stood next to Flash. “Do you really think MJ is going to do the one thing she is told she has too?”

 

Michelle rolled her eyes “oh, shut up” she said fondly and the small group laughed at their banter they all missed so much.

 

“What are you doing in the cafeteria anyway Mr H?” Michelle asked

 

The teacher rubbed the back of his neck “Well when I got Peters email I thought I’d come say hi”

 

She turned and faced Peter with a deadpan expression “You emailed the teachers we were coming, when did you even have time to do that?”

 

“When you were in the shower” he answered shyly as he had just been caught

 

“I thought you were printing all that stuff out when I was in the shower?” She asked

 

Peter crossed his arms “Just because I’m a guy doesn’t mean I can’t multi task” he teased

 

“Oh god, not this again” Michelle ran her hand over her face as she giggle at him making the rest of them laugh even harder than before.

 

After the copious catch up stories and gossip that they had missed out on all through lunch and half way through Harrington’s class that he hadn’t bothered to make anyone do work in as they were all in that session anyway and he was cornered by Peter with the seizure management plans he was now obliged to give to the rest of the teachers as well. Harrington decided to have everyone sit down for the last five minutes of the session to tell them about the decathlon news he was going to share next week when Peter and Michelle had officially returned, but decided now was as good a time as any.

 

Halfway through his announcement Michelle looked over to Peter who was already making his way out of his seat to her from the row behind. His arm reached out just in time to stop her head from hitting the ground as she fell from her chair. Peter lowered Michelle down to the floor pushing her chair off of her feet as she began to start with small convulsions with her arms and legs.

 

“Cindy move that desk out of the way, Flash you too” Peter called out as everyone had now noticed what was happening. Flash and Cindy immediately did what Peter said.

 

“Time?” Peter called out and Ned answered right away with “1.14”

 

Mr Harrington came over quickly asking what he could do “Take off your jacket” Peter said as an answer and he did just that and handed it too him.

 

Peter quickly rolled it up and slid it under Michelle’s head that was flicking from one side to the other, her eyes were rolled right back and Peter moved her carefully into the recovery position.

 

“1.15” Ned said as the first minute passed.

 

“Shit” Peter whispered “Come on MJ, you have to stop now” he said to her as he stopped her hand from hitting the ground every time her arm pushed it out harshly.

 

A whimper emitted from her throat “I know, it’s okay. You’re alright” he coos her as he pulls the hair from her face

 

“1.16” Ned says this time

 

“Okay” Peter says looking around for his bag which is right next to Betty “Betty, in my front pocket of my bag” She quickly bends down to open it “there’s a small case type thing, I need it” he says quickly

 

Betty finds the small black case and hands it to Peter and she steps back as she watches him open it.

 

“Can someone call the ambulance please, give them the address then put it on speaker.” Peter says calmly as he pulls out a small plastic bubble like medication package holding one milligram of Midazolam. He gets out a packeted syringe that can hold the same volume and pulls the packaging off. He then pulls the tab off the top of the medicine package and fits the syringe in the top to draw up the whole milligram of Michelle’s rescue drug.

 

The class watches intensely as the scene unfolds before them as Peter places the syringe in Michelles mouth and releases the medication on the inside of her cheek.

 

“no, no come on. I know, you don’t like it. I’m sorry Em I know” Peter tells her as she tries to spit it out.

 

Within seconds her chaotic movements cease and she looks up to Peter as she focuses on her breathing. Her head is pounding and her mouth tastes like metal and sandpaper. But Peter is there holding her hand and running his fingers through her hair gently. She can hear him talking to someone who must be on the phone with how many questions their asking about where to go to get to the classroom. She thinks how the room is pretty quiet which is nice and her eyes start to droop because they feel so heavy.

 

The next time Michelle opens them she’s in Peters bed back at the apartment, her head still hurts a little but it’s nothing compared to before she fell asleep. She pushes herself up onto her elbow and wipes the sleep from her eyes, it’s dark so it must be night time now. Michelle pulls the blanket off her and sits up letting her body catch up to her thoughts before she makes way for the door which is slightly open. She walks out to the lounge room where she can hear the television playing to see Peter on the couch with May. Peter turns around giving him the classic puppy eyes, head tilt and all.

 

She doesn’t know why he looks at her like that sometimes, like now for example where she doesn’t just feel like shit, she looks like it too. Her hair is a mess and she can feel how dopey she looks from the drug she had to be given.

 

“Hey sweetheart, how are you feeling?” May asks as she lifts herself off the couch to look her over.

 

Michelle does the same looking over her own arms and legs at a few new bruises that she has collected. “I’ll survive” She says to May.

 

May gave her a side hug as she said “Okay, let me get you something, you slept through dinner” before leaving to the kitchen.

 

Michelle walked over to where Peter was sitting, he lifted both his hands up to her waist and pulled her down to sit in his lap. She instinctively curled into a tiny ball and wrapped her arms around his waist as he leaned his chin on the top of her head.

 

“You feel like shit?” He asked and she nodded her head on his chest closing her eyes again. Peter didn’t say anything more, just pulled her closer to him and gently rubbed her hand with his thumb.

 

A few minutes had passed after May came back with a tea and left again to get some food when Michelle began to cry.

 

Peter helped her sit up so he could look at her with his worry “What’s wrong?” he asked

 

Michelle dropped her head so Peter couldn’t see her face before she answered “I thought I was strong enough” she sniffled “I’m not, I can’t do it. I can’t smile and say it’s okay because it’s not. I’m so scared to see him, Peter, I-I don’t know if I can” she sobbed between her words.

 

Peter lifted her face by her chin and wiped away the few stray tears that were making their way down her cheeks. “You can, you can do anything MJ. This will be like walking through hot coals, but it’s not impossible. You know how I know that, because I’ve already seen your impossible.” there was a small almost non-existent smile on her lips “This man- this monster has drilled such a rift in your heart and you are doing so incredibly well to defy what he’s done, to overcome it. And you wont be there alone, you will never be alone with him again. I’m going to be there this time MJ, I’m always going to be there.”

 

Michelle looked at Peters face and how there was such determination and a subtle promise in his eyes. She knows how bad he feels for letting this happen to her, even though she knows it is not his fault, no where near it. He had told her his regret a few days after she had woken up and finally remembered why she was in this predicament. He cried such a hollow and regretful sorry that it broke her even more knowing Peter had been living with this regret for as long as he had. She had to reassure him more than she’d like to that there was no way this wouldn’t have happened anyway if it hadn’t been on that day, that he had done enough by just being there with her now.

 

She nodded her head and sunk her body into his laying her head back to his chest as he run a hand up and down her arm.

 

“We’re in this together Em” a kissed her hair “Don’t ever forget that”

 

 

After three days of lawyers coming and going to get there case where they wanted it to be, Phone calls and texts to their friends at school to reassure them she really was okay and admittedly a few more tears and second thoughts as the days went on. It was the official day of the hearing. The hearing that had received so much publication that it was to be live streamed from inside the court room. Where not just their whole nation was waiting in anticipation on the outcome, but the world.

 

Iron Man is a figure of hope in more than just America, that’s what the lawyers had told her anyway. It’s the reason everyone was so intrigued in the first place, but now it all came down to her and her stepfather. There were arguments all around the globe on social media, in the comments sections of their Instagram pages stating how she was just a liar and looking for attention, others sending her prayers and beautiful sorrowful messages. The case had brought a light to the domestic violence scene and people were more invested than ever, that was the only benefit she could think of.

 

Reading through article upon article that had been posted in the past three days had made her laugh and cry, throwing some odd emotions throughout. Peter did the same and defended her as much as possible in social media and in real life.

 

They went out for lunch the day before, just to get out of the apartment, stretch their legs and breathe some fresh New York air. They decided on Delmar’s because obviously he had the best sandwiches in Queens, they sat and ate in a park then walked back to the apartment. On their way home they were stopped on the street by a small group of five, all girls bar one. They had screamed their names from across the street, it was odd as they had never met them before. The five ran across the road and blocked their path, phones out and cameras ready.

 

Peter looked instantly confused the second he turned to Michelle though that was turned quickly to anger. She had looked terrified, the kids turning around shouting random things at them as they raised their phones to take photos of themselves with the couple. Peter stepped in front of Michelle pushing her behind him, they protested the action and tried to step around him but what he did next was not exactly how Michelle had thought he was about to handle the situation. She was happy she was there to witness it though.

 

Peter had stepped forward and offered a hand to take one of the girls phones and take a picture, she handed it too him. He put his hand on the phone in girl 1’s and put his other hand under hers, she tried to remove it and he made a funny face, pretending to do the same as she was pulling harshly to un-stick them from each other.

 

He used his sticky spider fingers to stick the the girl. “Hm that’s weird” He said innocently before pulling one hand away quickly off the phone pretending it was an effort and into the crouch of the boy as the group had come in close to see the commotion it was an easy target.

The boy instantly fell to his knees holding his crotch in pain, Peter winced “Oh, I am so sorry” He knelt down beside the man, one had still stretched up stuck to girl 1’s hand.

 

Girl 2 stepped forward then closer to Michelle and Peter stretched on leg out behind him tripping her “Oh no” he turned from the boy to girl 2 catching her before she fell, at the same time swinging girl 1 around to run into girl 3 as he unstuck his hand from hers. Girl 1 and 3 tripped over the boy and the three were now in a tangle of limbs.

 

Peter made his effort to help girl 2 back up “you okay?” he muttered a hint of his sarcasm hitting Michelle’s ears making her bite her lip so she wouldn’t laugh. Girl 4 then made her move to snap a picture of Michelle, Peter quickly intervened as he grabbed her phone from her hand pulling girl 2 with him saying “Say Cheese” as he lifted the phone up above their heads to take a photo, dropping the phone just before he did. Girl 2 and 4 both bent down together at the same time to catch it, Peter pretended to do the same with another “Sorry” bumping into them making the two girls smash heads.  

 

The two quickly held their hands to where they had each hit, bending over a little in pain and squinting their eyes shut. Peter stepped around them all and pulled Michelle with him around the corner yelling out “So sorry! I seem to be all thumbs today!” and with that they were gone leaving a very confused pile of teens with not a single picture.

 

It was the most she had smiled all week, even getting a genuine laugh for the whole walk home. It was just like the way he had made her feel whenever they were together before anything had happened. Before their new life had started, full of I don’t knows and incapabilities. It wasn’t the same, nothing was the same and she felt helpless.

 

The car ride to the court house was more daunting as the closer they came the more people were standing on the street, news vans and cameras were everywhere. People had signs and she couldn’t bare to look any more. They were in a limo filled with Peter, Michelle, Tony, May and a bunch of body guards. May sat beside her and Tony him, the bodyguards filling every last seat around them.

 

“Hey” Everyone turned to the boy’s word, but Peter was resting his elbows on his knees waiting for her to look up at him. As she did she let out a shaky breath so he reached forward and put his hand on her knee. “It’s okay” he nodded softly.

 

She looked at him and swallowed, his eyes were always full of so much emotion it was like a rush of warmth flowed through her body as she stared into the brown of his eyes, wrapping her in a blanket of his comfort and pushing them into there own bubble of solitude. She placed her own hand on his and everything was amended. He wrapped his fingers around her and it was like he took away her fears, her heart stopped racing and her ears stopped hearing, there was no screams from outside and all her senses had dawned to him. Peter Parker forever her savior in any universe she was sure.

 

The car came to a halt and the driver opened to door letting the world see them for the first time, ready to fight for more than just requital retribution. It wasn’t about that, it wasn’t about revenge or redemption for a some what normal life without the fear of that man’s pain on the world. It’s about love, it’s about the love of a teenage boy and a broken soul he would do anything for, anything. It’s because of Peter Parker, a boy she wouldn’t have been alive without. She wouldn’t have tried to come back from that haven of peace and eternity of just being… without him. She wouldn’t care for this world any more, she wouldn’t have cared for herself. This broken and shattered shell of a who she was, she just wouldn’t have done it without him. And now here she is, fighting for her self. Fighting for herself to be let free from the past of being thrown around for the sake of nothing more than satisfying the likes of her mother, her mother who didn’t even ask if she was okay, didn’t even ask if she was alive. Because her mother is nothing but a bad taste in her mouth, a taste of betrayal and unforgiving hatred. She thought her mother was the world once, but that all changed the day she met a boy who took better care of her than her own mother ever had. Who showed her a way through the dark out into the light to phosphor into the woman she could become. A woman she never thought would make it out into the world, but as she steps out of the car and into that very place, showing her self as not a girl with a broken mind, but as a saviour of her own story. A girl who who will do everything to be a better version of who she was before. Rising up from her ashes and going forth to break down any obstacle that is placed in her path with nothing more than a smile on her face. Because that way, that way is the only way to show them all that she can do anything. Anything she wants, anything at all. Because she owes at least that to him, she owes a debt to Peter that can never be wrapped in paper and tied with a bow. She owes her life to that boy and she will always do everything in her power to make sure it wasn’t for nothing.

Chapter Text

Peter held tightly to Michelle’s shaking hand, being pushed through the crowd to the front doors of the courthouse. Reporters shoved their microphones and tape recorders through the arms of the guards towards them, shouting questions over the boisterous crowds.

 

How do you feel going to see your step father for the first time, Michelle?

Michelle, have you spoken to your mother?

Michelle, are you going to live at your home again?

Have you seen your step father recently, Michelle, Michelle?

Is it true you had a seizure at your school the other day?

 

As the camera’s started flashing Peter pulled Michelle’s hood over her head and shielded her eyes from the strobe lights by pulling her close to him, her head rested on his shoulder and her eyes were squinted shut as he lead her up the steps. The second they entered the doors closed behind them before anyone could follow them inside.

 

“You okay?” He asked as she straightened up out of his arms pulling the hood from her head.

 

He pushed a few loose strands of hair from her face as she answered “That was crazy” She spoke quietly, just to him. She hadn’t said a word to a single other soul that day so far.

 

Peters hand dropped to his side after giving her shoulder a reassuring squeeze “Mhmm” he hummed with a small grin “You’re famous now” He huffed a laugh receiving a quick twitch of Michelle’s lips “Don’t forget us when you’re rolling around in you’re riches in a giant house with a pool and expensive cars” her smile grew as he continued to tease.

 

“Oh shut up” She laughed this time, that’s what he was aiming for. “Besides I wouldn’t have expensive cars.” He raised an eyebrow at her addition, she gave him a smug look “I would have a library full of expensive limited edition books” She hummed.

 

Peter crossed his arms looking her up and down in mock shock “Well, glad to know you’ve given this some thought” She rolled her eyes and went to speak again, but they were interrupted by a group of Lawyers. Five of them dressed in expensive suits and briefcases at the ready. Not one of the four old men had a hair on their head between them and they stood a beat behind the leader of the lot, Rebekah Fox. She was dresses in a dark blue pant suit her hair twisted swiftly up into a bun by the nape of her neck.

 

“Good morning every one, hope you all had a good nights sleep” She greeted them with a sweet smile, the one Tony had told them always wins her the case.

 

A murmur and a head nod from the teens followed by a loud charming hello from Stark, an eye roll at that from May before her own sweet good morning. They followed Miss Fox into a room and they went over what they had for the past three days, making sure everything was in order the way she wanted it.

 

By 9:57am the group were making their way into the room her step fathers fate would be decided in. They walked up the centre of the aisle between rows of filled seats, Peter watched as the initial fear he had been feeling in Michelle’s slightly trembling hands finally make its way to her face. Her eye’s opened slightly wider, she swallowed three times as they stopped at the seat Peter, Tony and May would be sitting in behind her. He heard her breaths grow shorter and faster and his ears picked up the erratic thumping in her chest.

 

He grabbed her arm before she walked past, stopping her at the waist height gate. She turned to face him, her lip was turning white from where it sat between her teeth. He smiled at her and placed a hand on the side of her face using his thumb to gently console her.

 

“I’m right behind you, I’m not going anywhere” He said and her head tilted more into the soft touch of his hand as she nodded, released the hold of her lip from her teeth and took a deep breath. His hand fell to his side and she quickly squeezed it before turning and walking two more steps to her seat.

 

After five minutes of the low murmurs of the surrounding reporters and observers filling their ears with light conversation the man they had been dreading to see walked into the room with his own small team of state lawyers following him closely. Peter instantly tensed, his hands clutching shut on his lap and his jaw set tight as he eye balled Justin from across the room. He felt like a heaving bull ready to stamp his foot and run full force at the smug look on the monsters face, he was seeing red and he was ready to attack.

 

A heavy hand laid sternly on his shoulder, he looked to his left to see Tony practically holding him in place. “Hey kiddo, you can’t do anything alright” He said quietly. Peter let out a long breath and nodded his head, his eyes never leaving Justin Hale from where he sat.

 

 

 

“Okay put your notes away everyone” checking his watch Mr Harrington’s drab voice carried over the room of his 24 students. The shuffle of papers and pens clicking shut was heard as he pulled down the projector screen over the board of notes at the front of the room.

 

“Uh, you know we have forty minutes of class left Sir?” Betty called out respectfully

 

Harrington hummed in response before turning around and opening his laptop “I thought we could watch this instead” He clicked a few buttons and up on the projector screen was the live broadcast of their fellow classmates hearing.

 

A light mummer of agreement and a shuffling of desks and chairs was present under Mr Harrington's voice “So hearings usually only last about thirty minutes, but that all depends on how many witnesses are brought to the stand. If it goes longer than this lesson I have a free period next and I know most of you do too so you’re welcome to stay and watch of you want”

 

He took a chair from behind a desk and brought it over to sit amongst the class, the mood was odd some of the students who hadn’t known Michelle too well were the ones sat further away and not taking to much interest in the endeavor. Others that were more acquainted on a usual basis were looking intrigued and somewhat excited. The small few that knew not just her but Peter too who was going through almost as much as she was as this point looked more on edge and nervous to watch. Ned, Flash, Betty and Cindy all sat up close where they would hear every word and see every expression.

 

“Is your dad testifying?” Cindy asked Flash which caught Mr Harrington’s attention. He had chosen to sit closest to their lightly huddled group knowing they would have the best information to go along with what was happening.

 

Flash looked over to her and nodded his head “Yeah, he uh, he didn’t tell me much though” This was the first time Harrington had noticed Flash in this suppressed state, usually he would take any opportunity to show off that he knew something like this. Yet there he was looking to the floor, his hands fumbling in knots and his leg bouncing up and down.

 

“What did he say?” Betty asked, always one for needing to know, today though it feels less like she’s asking from a reporters view her voice was cautious of the question she asked and her eyebrows scrunched to the middle.

 

Flash shrugged his shoulders and for the first time Betty didn’t push for an answer. Mr Harrington was quickly realising how much this whole ordeal was effecting his students, seeing their friend in class the other day having a seizure on the floor before them all was what really showed them how much Michelle had gone through. Gave them a small glimpse into her future, and by the looks of things Peters too.

 

In a way it seemed to humanise them from their usual career driven or money hungry attitudes though, maybe they are all seeing how quickly their lives can change. How life has more meaning to it than before, seeing that it really could have gone in a different direction for Michelle has really woken them up and in a way Justin Hale has broken them too. In a way Michelle has given them a sense of strength showing them that they too can do anything. In a way the way their own compassion has grown just by watching Peter be there for her. You never know what’s around the corner and that has been their biggest lesson to learn in the past few weeks.

 

As they sit there and watch the screen showing the distraught images of what was done to Michelle as Flash’s father speaks his testimony, Mr Harrington watches as Ned’s eyes fill with water and Betty holds his hand to comfort him. Then The police and ambulance first responders tell their stories of finding a young beaten child in an empty apartment barley breathing on the floor. That received more interest from the students at the back of the room.

 

The next person called to the stand was the neighbour who had called it in, telling the jury what she had heard that night as she came home from work, how she heard the cracks of bone and the cries of the girl who once babysat her children.

 

They all were quietly discussing what they thought to each other around the room until Ned spoke up for the first time shocking everyone “holy shit!” He cried getting the attention of the room to fall back to the screen.

 

A woman entered the courtroom, her frame thin and weathered with dark hair greying at its roots.

 

“What? Who is that?” Cindy asked Ned who’s mouth hung open in shock.

 

The camera shot turned to Michelle who’s eyes began to fill with water, her breath caught in her throat and she was frozen in her place with one arm still reaching out towards the glass of water in front of her staring unbelievingly at the woman who was escorted the the stand looking over Michelle with sad eyes.

 

Peter was seen behind her fury in his eyes, Tony Stark whispering to him.

 

“That’s her Mom” Ned says quietly making everyone gasp and gape and turn angry themselves. Because anyone who had been keeping up on what was happening in the news, and through reports knows that not once did she even call on anyone to find out about Michelle. How she left her by the brink of death in her apartment without even a call to anyone for help. No one even knew where she was the past few weeks.

 

“Mrs Jones” The TV was turned up as she swore her testimony on the bible and everyone settled closer to the device.

 

The room was silent through every word spoken, every answer to every question until she was leaving the room. They all watched as Michelle didn’t look up once, not acknowledging a word her mother spoke. Michelle sat still through every lie that came out of her mothers mouth stating her and Justin hadn’t been at the apartment at all that day, how her daughter must have been attacked by a bugler, shrugging her shoulders when asked why nothing had been taken, stating Michelle had run away once before and that’s why she didn’t go looking for her, denying how one time sneaking out for a few hours was not classed as sufficient evidence that she would run away for weeks without needing to be reported missing to the police.

 

Her mothers lies were infuriating, her reasoning behind her acts were exasperating though the jury looked to show a form of sympathy with her which was the most concerning thing of all.

 

Justin testified his alibi next, confirming his whereabouts with her mothers before a short break was implemented as Stark’s lawyers hadn’t expected Michelle’s mother. When they returned they were surprised to see Peter up on the stand.

 

“He saw Justin, that’s why he’s up there. It must have been a last minute decision” Ned said before Peters testimony came.

 

“You dropped Michelle off that afternoon correct?”

“Yes”

“And was Mr Hale there?”

“Yes ma’am”

“You saw him?”

“Yes ma’am he was calling for her from the balcony”

“I see, what did he call out from the balcony Mr Parker?”

“He called for Em-Michelle to go up stairs”

“And was his asking polite?”

“No ma’am”

“No, he wasn’t polite?”

“No”

“How would you say he sounded?”

“um, Demanding and Angered”

“And looking over at the man sitting there you can confidently say he was the face you saw that day”

“Yes, it was”

“Okay, thank you Peter”

 

“Peter you are the boyfriend of Michelle Jones yes?”

“I, yes”

“How long were you together before Michelle’s accident”

“It wasn’t an accident, She was beaten and abus-”

“Just answer the question Mr Parker”

“Officially… around three weeks”

“Three weeks, okay, and did you at any time in those three weeks see my client Mr Hale?”

“No”

“Had you ever met Mr Hale before?”

“No”

“Have you ever seen him before this day? Other than the time you say he was on the balcony?”

“No, I have in a picture though”

“An old picture”

“Well”

“Well, not a recent picture. How could you get a recent picture if Mr Hale hadn’t been around for three weeks? A lot can change in three weeks, my own husband dyed his hair only two days ago he certainly looks different than he did one week ago let alone three”

“Objection!”

“Reasoning relevant to the case, Sustained”

“Mr Parker, you said earlier the man you saw called Michelle from her balcony correct?”

“Yes”

“Miss Jones’ apartment is on the seventh floor of her building, so how is it that you saw Mr Hale from where you were standing in the parking lot?”

“I looked up ma’am”

“Okay, let me rephrase the question. You just two years ago wore glasses did you not?”

“I… yes”

“And is it safe to presume you wear contact lenses now?”

“i-it it, yes but I-”

“So how is it that a young man with your eye sight could see that man seven stories above you, not to mention looking into the late afternoon sun”

“It was him, it was-”

“No further questions your honor”

 

Not even Mr Harrington had anything to say, for a state lawyer they certainly weren’t going down without a fight. The last person to be called to the stand was Michelle everyone quietened down as she pledged her honesty to the bible.

 

“Michelle this isn’t the easiest thing to do, so just take your time and tell us your story when you’re ready okay.”

“Okay”

The court room looked motionless as Michelle took in a deep shaky breath, all eyes on her as she spoke her first words. The classroom was much the same, filled with dread to hearing what they thought they had been waiting to hear when in fact hearing it was regrettable.

“Justin called me up from the balcony that afternoon, I told Peter to go home because I didn’t want him to be dragged into it. He doesn’t deserve that. So I walked up stairs where I found Mom already passed out on the couch, there was an empty bottle of wine on the table beside her and some um drugs too, p-probably ice again I don’t know I try not to take much notice. Justin was coming inside as I put my school bag down, he looked angry and he closed the door and walked over to me.

 

He just started asking me questions about why, why mum told him to leave and who Peter was and just little questions but I didn’t say anything so he… he grabbed my shoulder and pulled me close to his face and he just stated yelling about how I was nothing, how my Mom said she wished I was never born and I pushed him to get away and he tripped over the coffee table and fell to the floor. Mom woke up then and she got up to help Justin up asking what was going on. I tried to walk away to my room, but Justin caught up with me before I made it and yanked my arm, that’s when he grabbed me by the throat and pushed me back into the wall.

 

Mom hit him with the empty bottle on the table to stop him, he let go to push her back onto the couch, and yelled at her to get in their room.” Michelle looked up from her hands for the first time, looking directly at the very woman who gave her littlest effort to protect her. Her mother who was sitting at the back of the courtroom.

 

Michelle bore her eyes into her mother as she spoke “She got off the couch, looked at me chocking on the floor. She looked at me then turned around and walked into the bedroom and closed the door. She left me, knowing what he was going to do.” Michelle let her first tear fall down her cheek

 

“Justin tuned back to me when the door closed and he smiled. I tried to push my self back through my door to my room, to close the door and try and escape out the window. I was too slow. I got half way through my door and he slammed it closed on my ribs, laughing when they cracked and calling out “one, two, three” as he heard my ribs break.” Michelle wiped her eyes

 

“I was laying on the floor and he kicked me over and over, then he wrapped his arm around me and pulled me up walking me over to the middle of the lounge room when he threw me on the floor. He sat over the top of me holding my arms down above my head and told me what he was going to do to my Mom when he was finished with me.”

 

“And what was that, Michelle?” Rebakah the lawyer had to encourage her to continue as she started to cry

 

“He said um how he was going to take her away some place I would never see her again, how he was going to rape her until she can’t walk any more. Then when he had no more use for her he would shoot her in the head and throw her into the bottom of a lake where she belongs.” Michelle took a few moments to catch her breath

 

“Do you want to continue?” Fox asked and Michelle nodded her head, at this point there was not a dry eye in either the courtroom or the classroom.

 

“He um, he got up after that and started yelling about how he was going to kill me. He found a candle holder and started hitting me over the face with it, I tried to get away but I couldn’t move. I was scared and he just kept hitting me until I couldn’t see, my eye had swelled up and I could taste the blood as it ran down my face and over my lips. I couldn’t move, I- I couldn’t get away and he hit me one more time and then I woke up with Peter by my bed side in a hospital. I didn’t know what he had done with my mother, and when she hadn’t tried to contact me I thought she was dead.”

 

There was an unsettling shift in the room as she finished up her tale on her traumatic experience, back in the classroom tissues had been handed around and no one had the care to be seen the way they were right now, not even Mr Harrington who’s glasses had fogged up from his abdicable tears and in all honesty was blubbering. No one had words to share, they had all just learned the pain she experienced, the horrors of her life. They know this person, they feel a connection to the story that no one else in the world does and that is the hardest thing to realise. The fact that she was sat there with them for a majority of the year with them showing nothing of the distress she has just admitted to the world.

 

The feeling that they should have known, that they should have or could have done something to prevent that from happening is sickening. Knowing that they did nothing, that they knew nothing is something they will never forgive them selves for.

 

Back in the courtroom, Michelle had found her way back to her seat after a few more questions from both sides of the room. The Jury had set off to decide on the fate of Justin and Michelle turned around to speak to Peter, but he was already there his arms stretched out for a hug.

 

His eyes were as red and as wet as her own and she crashed into his embrace with relief. The moment was short lived as the lawyers wanted to briefly overview the outcomes with her though. A law student who Peter hadn’t even notice accompanying them handed a sheet over to Rebekah, a calculation of how the student believed each juror would pass judgement and according to her Michelle story won her majority of the vote.

 

Just seven minutes later the courtroom was silenced as the jury entered the room once again, a woman amongst them stood and began to answer the judge with the verdict.

 

“The Jury have decided that the defendant is Guilty” the room burst into an array of cheers.

 

Michelle instantly turned to her lawyer with a look of complete solace, Fox smiled and nodded her head before Michelle got out of her seat and leaned over the rail separating her from her boyfriend a laugh emitting from her lips as she did so.

 

“The defendant has been accused as guilty, all previously stated charges will be appointed including that of attempted murder, Justin Hale will be serving a life sentence with no chances of early release of parole. Good day everyone.” The judges words phased through her as the gavel was plastered to its mast.

 

Peter put his palm on both sides of her face smiling at her grin, squishing her cheeks in his excitement he placed a kiss to her forehead knowing they were still on camera. “I knew you could beat him” He said as his face was concealed with hers beneath her hair. They hugged until the room was practically emptied.

 

Justin was detained there on the spot by an officer in the court and ushered away, as he walked past he called out catching the attention of the few left behind. “I should have finished you while I had the chance” He seethed

 

Michelle tried, Tony tried, even May tried to stop Peter. Not this time, he used his strength to push through them like a breeze striding right up to Justin and before another word could escape his lips the man was out cold on the floor. Not this time, he wouldn’t let him hurt her for another second not when he can help it.

 

Peter walked back to Michelle who had a smug smirk on her lips “Fell better now?” She asked amused

 

Peter draped his arm around her waist and guided her out of the court room “Don’t you?” He said with the same playful tone leaning down and kissing her shoulder.