It could have been a good day. It really could have.
Of course, all that flew out the window when Peter’s senses decided to go haywire... again.
It started on the way to school. He had been tired before, but the rattling of the old bus windows grates on his sensitive hearing like nails on a chalkboard. He manages to get through the hallways with minimal heckling from Flash and had gotten to the doorway of his class when he hears his classmates.
“Whoa, why’s the room smell so nice?”
Of course his teacher had chosen that specific day to bring a new air freshener to school. Really fantastic. No, by all means, don’t open the windows! I’ll just suffocate!
“Wow, I’m being dramatic,” Peter thinks, slumping into his seat. “It’s just some Glade. Not gonna hurt me. Were the lights in here always so bright?”
The day continued to spiral downward from there. Peter knows he’s screwed when he realizes he had been trying to read the same page in his textbook for nearly an hour. It should’ve been easy, but his classmates just wouldn’t shut up, and he couldn’t focus, shut up shut up shut up shut
The noise of the bell pierces his thoughts, and Peter jumps up and rushes from his last class, vaguely remembering that he was going to stay at the tower today.
Mr. Stark had said he’d be in a meeting when he got there, but that was fine. That meant Peter would have time to flip the fuck out by himself before Mr. Stark got there, and hopefully Peter could avoid worrying his d- mentor. Or avoid giving away the fact that he was an over-sensitive freak who couldn’t handle the sound of people talking. Hopefully both.
He quickens his pace when he sees the car waiting for him and hops in, for once not talking Happy’s ear off. Peter sees him glance at him in the mirror, apparently concerned at his uncharacteristic silence. He still doesn’t speak, opting to stew in his rapidly approaching meltdown.
The traffic is driving him crazy. Can’t people just move? Why are they going so slow? Would they lay off the FUCKING HORNS?!
Peter clenches his fists, glad when they (finally) pull up to the tower, and hops out of the the car, rushing towards the building. He’s greeted by FRIDAY as he enters, and mumbles a quick “Hey, Fri.” in return as he speedwalks to the bedroom that’s become unofficially his. Immediately upon crossing the threshold, Peter drops his backpack and sits down on his bed, emotions threatening to boil over and explode, and huffs out a breath.
And hears someone deciding it’s a nice day for flying a jet through Stark airspace.
And of course, Peter’s enhanced hearing decides that’s not enough, that he needs to have the sound amplified by 10.
It’s too much, he can’t handle it, everything is warped and too much.
Suddenly flooded with an unreasonable anger, Peter grabs at his hair, tugging at it with an almost convulsive movement. He screams, and the Peter of the future would be ashamed to admit it, but he bites his arm, maybe more than once. He’s started punching himself in the head when a pair of hands grabs Peter’s wrists and forces them away from his body. It’s only then that Peter realizes he’s been crying.
“Peter! Pete, can you hear me? Come on kid, say something.”
When did Mr. Stark get here? Did FRIDAY alert him? He didn’t hear her...
Peter swallows and yanks his wrists from Tony’s grip with a start, scrambling backwards. His wide eyes survey the wreckage he’s made of his room, and his hands immediately latch onto his hair again.
“Mr. St- I’m- Mr. Stark, I’m sorry, I know I’m being- being stupid-“
“Kid. You need to breathe” Tony says, and Peter’s eyes immediately lock onto his face. “Come on, copy me. In, out. Good job kid, you’re doing great. Just keep breathing for me, okay?” He moves closer to the teenager, careful not to touch him, no matter how much he wants to reach out and make the kid stop tearing out his own hair. Peter’s having a meltdown, and he’s not going to respond well to even more sensory input until he’s good and settled.
After a few ragged breaths, a small voice cuts through the air “Mr. Stark?”
“‘M sorry for messing up the room.”
“Don’t apologize Peter, I’ll just have someone clean it up later. You didn’t do it on purpose, okay?”
“...Yeah, okay.” Peter makes a move as if to stand, but stops. “You’re really not mad?”
“Kid, why would I be mad? You just went through the unholy lovechild of a meltdown and a panic attack.”
Shit, he’s crying again. “Whoa, kid, what’s wrong?” Tony says, the panic that he always feels when
his the kid is upset coming back in full force. Peter turns his face to the floor, his voice barely intelligible through his hiccups and sobs.
“I just thought, because you saw it, that you’d be mad ‘cause I’m- I’m being a baby and I’m crying on your floor after destroying your room and I don’t deserve you forgiving me ‘cause I’m just dumb anyways and I-
Jesus, this kid is on a roll. Tony waits for the rambling to taper off before he speaks. “Peter, you aren’t being a baby, you’re going through sensory overload. You didn’t break anything that couldn’t be fixed and even if you did I wouldn’t blame you. And kid, you definitely aren’t dumb. Have you even seen yourself? You’re a genius.” Peter looks at him with huge eyes and doesn’t reply. Welp. At least the crying seems to be stopping.
“D- Mr. Stark?”
“Um, I- Can I have a hug? Please?”
“Sure thing, kiddo,” Tony says, automatically holding his arms up for the Spider-Kid to scramble into. He cards his fingers through Peter’s hair for a moment, feeling his breathing finally begin to calm. “Hey, whaddya say we skip the labs for today and watch a movie? Your pick.”
Peter looks up. “On your couch?”
“And you’ll stay with me?”
Tony pauses, suddenly struck by the amount of caring he’s feeling for this kid. “Of course I will.”
“Good... I wanna watch Moana...” Peter says, already sounding tired. Having a meltdown will do that to you.
“Well, to the couch it is then.” Tony says, helping Peter off the floor and leading him to the lounge. As soon as they sit, Peter is scrambling back into his arms. Tony’s learned that the kid’s pretty tactile, especially when tired.
They’re about halfway through the movie when Peter stirs at his side, and mumbles something. “Mr. S’ark?”
“I love you too, kid.”