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No Other Way

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“Tony, there was no other way.” Doctor Strange said breathlessly. His eyes were somewhat vacant. And then he turned to dust. Peter, Tony and Nebula stood frozen, unsure whether to move or speak or neither.

"Um, Mister Stark, where are they ohmygodwhatishappening!?" Peter panicked. He panted as he spun on the spot, looking at where the antenna lady, the angry guy and the huge guy had just been standing. Nebula collapsed onto a rock, utterly drained.

"He did it." She said, bluntly. A painful roar of thunder grumbled and echoed over them.

"Kid, get over here right now." Tony barked.

Peter crossed the small distance between them without a second thought. Tony grabbed the young boy's arms and pulled him in towards him.

"Do you feel ok?" Tony asked. Peter's eyes were unfocused. He opened his mouth as if trying to speak, but the words would not form. His eyes trailed over to where Doctor Strange had just been, and where now lay a pile of dust.

"Pete! Do you feel ok?” Tony repeated, louder this time.

"Um, um yeah I'm fine... I.. think." Peter looked down at his and Tony's hands. "Mr Stark, is that gonna happen to us?" Peter gripped Tony's arm a little firmer as he asked.

"I dunno Pete, I'm sorry.. I don't know." Tony exhaled a shaky breath into his hands as Nebula stood up and joined them.

"We're safe. If it was going to happen, it would have already." Nebula told them. Her eyes were cold, but hidden deep inside Tony thought he saw a hint of sadness, guilt even. "This was my father's plan all along. He collected all of the infinity stones and snapped his fingers. We're the 50% that's left."

Tony succumbed to his exhaustion as he slumped down against a rock. Peter and Nebula did the same. Nobody spoke for the next hour. Tony sat for most of the time with his head in his hands. Tony was well aware he had just been impaled by a crazy alien from space. But he didn't feel anything. His body was numb but his mind was racing. If Thanos got the mind stone from Vision, does that mean Vision is gone? Oh god. Did Pepper survive? Did Rhodey? Did Happy? How could I have let this happen? 

Nebula barely moved. She stared into the distance. She didn't even blink. All she could think about was Gamora. Gamora really was gone, and she would never be able to see her again, talk to her again. Love her. 

Peter occasionally looked to Tony and Nebula. He didn't want to say it, but he was scared. He was so scared. He didn't want to be here. Not really. He did want to go to space. But not like this, not watching people die in front of his eyes. Not being strangled by a huge purple grape. If I had gone would I have been able to see Mom and Dad again? And Ben? Oh god.. May. Is May OK!?


--- One hour later ---


"We can't stay here." Nebula finally broke the silence.

"Yeah, no shit." Tony retorted. Nebula didn't react, but Tony apologised anyway.

"I'm sorry," he sighed, "I'm sorry, you're right."

"We can take shelter on Quill's ship, it will be dark soon." Nebula stated. 

Tony blinked away a wave of dizziness that hit him as he stood up. He turned to Peter who was still sat down next to a pile of rocks.

"Come on kid, up, we gotta move," Tony said. Peter didn't react. Tony's eyebrows formed a frown as he crouched down next to the boy. That's when he realised one of his hands was clutching at the top of his chest just under his neck.

"Hey, you ok?" Tony's expression changed from confused to worried within a matter of seconds. He studied his young mentee's face. 

"S-sorry, yeah I'm fine." Peter dropped his hand to his side and pushed himself up to his feet.

"You didn't get hurt right?" Tony quizzed.

"No, no." Peter shook his head. But to be honest, it was getting harder and harder for him to ignore the dull aching in his neck.

"Alright, let's go." Tony encouraged and the three slowly headed towards the Milano.