A Soul for a Soul
There was a split second of silence after the words fell from Red Skull’s mouth. A split second was all it took for Tony and Steve to realize what exactly was at risk here. They knew what had to be done.
After that split second, they were arguing, which is what they’re best at these days. Arguing is all they really do. To be fair, it’s what they’ve always done.
“You have a child.” Steve was the first to speak.
“I have to,” Tony said, breathless. “You know I do.”
Peter’s mind was still racing. He knew what had to be done, but he really didn’t want to accept it.
He didn’t really want anyone to die.
First of all, it’s Captain America. The poster boy he’s seen all throughout elementary school, middle school, and the two years he’s been in High-School. A dissapointed look from him would devastate Peter.
Technically he did try and kill Peter during Civil War by dropping a bus on him, but that’s in the past. That was before the snap.
That was before he lost Aunt May. Ned. MJ. Pepper.
Peter can’t help smiling to himself. Pepper.
It’s been a while since Tony’s smiled, a real genuine smile, the one only Pepper can bring out. Imagining the grin he’ll have when she’s back… Peter would die for that.
“I can’t let you do this,” Tony said, heart breaking with every word.
“You won’t,” Steve said, and he was already running. Tony already had his suit forming around him, and he quickly flew to grab his arm.
Steve had a legendary sprint, but it wasn’t any match for Tony. He could fly. It’s not really a fair game.
It doesn’t stop there, however. They’re fighting, dangerously close to the cliff.
“Captain Rogers, stop! Mr. Stark!” Peter cried, running to them. “Stop fighting!”
Oblivious to his shouting, the two rolled on the ground.
It was Civil War all over again.
“You have to be there for Morgan when Pepper is back,” Steve said through gritted teeth.
“Get off of each other!” Peter yelled, running to grab on to Tony’s raised arm. He shot a web and tried to pull, and Steve threw him off of them.
“Stay out of this, Queens.” Steve rose to his feet and stepped towards Tony.
“Mr. Stark, please, listen--” When Tony pushed him away, he fell to his knees.
The two continued arguing, shouting at each other. Peter wanted to cover his ears.
He knew what he had to do.
He walks to the edge of the cliff. Giving a careful look to them, he gulps. “Uh, Karen?” He clears his voice.
“Can you tell May that I love her? I mean, I’ve already left her, like, a thousand messages, but I never thought she’d actually… hear them. It was just a therapy thing, you know.” Peter grinned to himself. “The others, too. Can you make sure they get them? After all this?”
“Of course, Peter.”
Peter sighs heavily. “And tell Mr. Stark… Tell him good luck with it all. Send Thanos my regards. Oh, and, ask him when he brings the Doctor back, tell him to say ‘no shit, Sherlock’ because he looks suspiciously similar to him. It’d be pretty funny. Oh, and tell Morgan I’ll miss her too. She’s going to be a genius when she grows up. She’s probably gonna be a better hero than all of us.” He slipped off his mask. “Tell Mr. Stark that it’s okay.”
He sniffled suddenly, wiping at his eyes. He looked over to Steve and Tony, who were rolling around by the stones. He choked out a sob with a small chuckle. “I really don’t want to go,” he whispered, under his breath.
He stood up, wiped the dust off his knees and looked to the steep drop.
This was going to hurt.
When he jumped, his eyes were closed.
Steve is the first to sit up. He’s kneeling down in the water. Next to him is Tony, who is slowly sitting up.
Tony slowly brings his hand out of the water, unfolds his fist, and examines the gently glowing stone in his hand.
“Pete,” he whispered, voice breaking. His eyes widened, and he took in a sharp inhale of breath, “Oh my god, Peter.”
Steve froze. He went to put a hand against his back, but Tony pushed him away.
“What the fuck?” Tony exclaimed. “No, bring him back! Bring him back now!”
“He’s twenty. He is a twenty year old boy, and he’s dead, ” Tony screeched, hand over his heart. “It should’ve been me. It should’ve been me.”
“Get away from me.”
There isn’t a word spoken the rest of the way home.
It’s been five years since Tony’s seen her.
The snap only happened a year after the wedding, not long after she was pregnant. Morgan had only been two months when Pepper faded to dust.
It was hard. Tony, not only ran Stark Industries, was now a single parent. It wasn’t all that bad, not with Happy, Rhodey, and Peter there to help.
Every chance he got, Peter would fly down from MIT to visit him. He’d visit everytime Tony needed a babysitter and the others weren’t available. (Though, sometimes they were available, and Tony only said so because he missed him. Tony wasn’t the only one who did that, however. Peter once flew down because of a “homework problem,” but Tony saw right through him. There was no way he was struggling with his Physics homework. No way.)
Those five years had been rough without the love of his life.
But, now? Standing just a few feet away from him?
He’d dreamt of this. He imagined holding her again, pressing a kiss to her temple. He’s ran this scenario through his mind countless times, but now his heart sits heavy.
When he holds her, she’s dazed. She doesn’t understand. But she’s comforting, she doesn’t know what happened, but she knows it’s wrong.
“Pep,” he breathes, burying his face into her neck.
“Tony, I--” She stops. She doesn’t know what to say. She has a million questions, but now’s not the time.
Not with the burden on his chest.
“He died…” he said, grabbing the hem of her shirt to hold on to. “Pep, he’s gone. I lost him. I lost the kid.”
“Tony,” she sighs, and it’s not enough. It’s not enough to make him all better, but fuck it helps. He can’t help but crumble in her arms.
It’s hard, but Pepper does everything she can to piece him back together.
“We have to win this. For him,” Tony says, faceplate sliding over his face. He tucks a strand of her hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry.”
He flies off.
The gauntlet is shoved around a lot. It’s hard to keep track of it, really.
Of course, Tony fights his way to put it on his hand.
When he snaps his fingers, he feels like he’s going to die.
He’s felt pain before, sure. He has more near death experiences than the average Joe.
However, this pain of the Infinity Stones power coursing through him is unbearable. “Tony!”
His eyes are closed. He waits for it, he waits for him to die, pass out maybe, but instead he feels warmth wrap around his hand. And, then, his other, someone else is grabbing on, and the pain lessens.
When he opens his eyes, Steve is to his left. Pepper to his right. Before he can rip her grip off of him, someone else is grabbing her hand. Natasha. Clint. Hulk.
The burning lessens.
Then it stops.
After the battle, the world is in chaos. Half of the population has just been ressurected after five years. It was to be expected.
Everyone around them is celebrating.
Then, Tony’s phone starts ringing.
“Oh, thank Heavens, you picked up.” Tony’s heart stops. “I’ve been trying to get ahold of Happy, but his line’s busy, I guess. Can I speak to Peter? The street’s are super busy; I’m not sure what’s happening. Is he okay?”
Tony does everything he can to stop from hyperventilating.
How does one tell a woman who has lost her husband, her sister, that her nephew has died? How is he supposed to tell her he is the reason he’s dead?
Tony doesn’t know what the hell he’s supposed to do.
He flies out, as soon as he can, and with a heavy heart, he gives her the news.
Aunt May takes a while to take it in, and she cries when she gets the news. She falls to her knees and she cries, and she cries, because he was all she had left.
May wanted a small funeral. She figured it’d be friends and family, which is small enough as it is. They really didn’t have much.
However, when the majority of New York shows up, she doesn’t complain. She doesn’t complain when strangers send her flowers, care packages. She doesn’t complain of the endless “thank you” letters piled on his grave.
Ned and MJ find her at the funeral. Ned’s sobbing, and MJ’s eyes are red.
Ned doesn’t even find the energy to be excited when Tony Stark comes up to him.
After the beautiful ceremony at the lake, May, Ned, and MJ are ushered inside. If MJ is uncomfortable being surrounded by the Avengers, she doesn’t show it.
Peter’s messages play out (most of them sent privately, especially May’s).
Tony sits on the couch with Morgan on his lap. Pepper’s beside him, stroking circles into his back.
“I get it.”
May’s sudden speaking brought them out of their trance. “Sorry?” Pepper asked. “What?”
“Why Peter… why he jumped.” She sniffled, then smiled. “He really loved you, you know.” Ned handed her a tissue so she could blow her nose. “That’s my Peter.”
And, that? May, living, breathing, as well as Ned, MJ, the others. To have Tony in his cabin with his child and his wife?
Well, that made it all worth it.