He replayed it in his mind for the fifth time that night. He could’ve done something. He could’ve at least tried.
“Mr. Stark, hey. Mr. Stark? Can you hear me? It’s Peter. Hey. We won. Mr. Stark. We won, Mr. Stark. We - we did it, sir - you did it. I’m sorry… Tony...”
Maybe he could still do something.
“Peter, honey, can I come in?” Peter continued to gaze at the ceiling, listening to the squeak of the door as his Aunt entered. “Peter, I’m worried about you. I know this hasn’t been easy, and I know you’ve been through more than anyone deserves to have to deal with. But you haven’t eaten in three days. You’ve barely left your room for the past two. Can I help you?”
Her gaze bore into the size of his head, but Peter refused to let her see his eyes. Instead, he remained unmoving until he heard his door gently close.
May walked into his room wearing the concerned yet stubborn expression he had come to associate with a visitor. Peter was a little surprised that Ned had returned to try and talk after Peter turned him away his past three visits. Peter looked away from his Aunt, assuming she would understand and send Ned away again. “You aren’t getting out of this visit, Peter. It’s not Ned. Please try and be polite; Mrs. Potts has already been through so much.” Peter choked on his breath before carefully resetting his features to a practiced blank gaze. He sat up straight and pressed his back against the wall, only allowing the panic to enter his eyes and accelerate his breathing after hearing the latch of his door.
“I should’ve done something.” Peter’s throat felt too dry to talk. He realized these were the first words he had muttered since his initial reunion with his Aunt. Once he sorted everything out, he would really have to make that up to her.
“There was nothing you could have done,” Pepper whispered, reaching her hand up towards Peter’s shoulder before quickly tucking it back into her lap.
“Then I can get him back! I can figure it out - just let me-”
“No. Let him rest. He’s not coming back, and it’s OK.” Pepper spoke calmly and in a tone starkly contrasting Peter’s. He couldn’t believe it; he couldn’t fathom why she would accept this loss.
“How can you say that? Don’t you love him? You’re his wife!”
“Always. 3000 much and beyond,” she murmured, glancing towards the wall with deeply saddened eyes. She steeled her gaze before continuing. “Peter, listen to me. You have to let him go.”
“I can’t. I could’ve done more, I-”
“He was happy, leaving when he did. He’s been through so much, Peter. But the last five years of his life… He was happy. Trust me. He loved Morgan so, so much. And he finally got you back. He died in peace knowing you came back. You know, the first thing he said after getting home from Titan was, ‘I lost the kid.’ Then he moved out of the superhero world completely. Steve came by, five years later to tell Tony that they found a way - a microscopic chance - to undo Thanos’s work. Tony sent him away. Later that night, he told me he’d figured it out. On the table laid his work and that picture of you and him together. Even though he couldn’t risk losing the wonderful things he had gained, he looked at that picture and realized the world could never be right without you and the others who were lost. He decided it was worth the risk.” Peter couldn’t speak. He wasn’t even sure if he was breathing. “He cared for you. So much. But now he wants you to move on. He needs you to not put yourself at risk trying to do this for him. He is at peace; you have to leave him be. He needs you to leave it be. He saw so much good in you, Peter. Rediscover that good in yourself - rediscover it in the world. You can find it as Peter Parker or Spiderman; Tony would have respected your decision either way. Tony will be happy as long as you can move on and find peace. He has, and we must as well. He lived vivaciously, joyfully, boldly. Now it’s time for us to do the same.”
“Hey, Morgan. It’s nice to see you again.” Peter forced a smile onto his face, hoping he didn’t just look like he was cringing. She was so much like him, standing with her arms crossed and her eyebrows raised stubbornly.
“Um, who are you again?”
“I’m Peter. I knew your Dad.”
Peter went back the next week, and the week after that, and then the week after that. He even brought May and Ned along to meet his new little sister. Pepper was right; you can always find the good in the world with a little faith and the willingness to look. Morgan was the best of Tony; she was the best of them all. From her sarcasm to her love for hamburgers, and her quick mind to the hugs she eventually began to grace Peter with, she became Peter’s light. Tony lost his world to help everyone get goodness back into theirs. Tony gave them all a second chance to make the world the best it could be, and Peter decided he would not let Mr. Stark down.
Maybe the best something Peter could do was be the good in the world. Maybe the best Spiderman could do was lead others to do the same.
He started to realize that Pepper had been right all along; everyone really could find peace and happiness with a little direction and a reason to try.