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daybreak

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When Beck releases Peter’s name for all the world to see, Peter thinks that everyone will be against him.

 

He looks down at MJ in a crowd of shocked New Yorkers. The crowd is shouting something, but all the everything turns into too much everything that he can’t hear any words from the noise.

 

Peter launches himself into the sky and webs as fast as he can. He starts to go back home before he realizes that they know his name, so that won’t be safe, and he ends up on a roof a block or so away.

 

Peter’s still there, curled into a ball, when Karen somehow breaks through and gets his attention. He barely remembers installing her into the suit, but he must have, because here she is.

 

“Peter,” she says, over and over again, until he replies.

 

“Karen?” He asks, and his voice is unsteady. “What are you— what?”

 

“It’s okay, Peter,” Karen says, which is insane because nothing is fine how can anything be fine when the whole world knows who he is? May’s going to be targeted, Ned and MJ are going to be targeted, how can anything be okay?

 

“Peter,” Karen says gently, and he realizes that he’s zoned out again. “You need to look at this.”

 

Without waiting for his confirmation, Karen pulls up Twitter.

 

His worst fear is confirmed right away: #PeterParker is trending, which is insane because it hasn’t even been that long—

 

Before Peter can spiral again, Karen shows him the rest of the trending hashtags: #StandWithSpidey, #NotAKiller, #FuckMysterio.

 

The last one is what gets him.

 

“Karen, what?”

 

AI’s can’t have emotions, but somehow, there is pride in Karen’s voice. “The battle in London was messy. More than a few of Mysterio’s projectors were found, clearly showing that the entire attack was faked. In addition, multiple security cameras caught Quintin Beck in his green screen costume, further proving that every element of Mysterio’s identity was faked.”

 

“Karen, what?” Peter asks, his voice cracking with relief, but before she can answer someone calls his name.

 

Well, not his name name.

 

Someone calls for Spider-Man.

 

When Peter looks, there’s an old woman leaning on the railing of the fire escape directly across from him.

 

Shit, Peter thinks. Normally he can actually hide, but he didn’t even realize the building right next to where he was was taller, how could he not—

 

“Spider-Man,” The woman says again, and her voice is kind.

 

More than that, he recognizes her. He helped her with her groceries once when her son was out of town and her elevator was broken.

 

“Ms. Rosa?” He asks.

 

The woman had told him to call her Rosa. He compromised.

 

“Peter,” she says, and he freezes. “Your life isn’t over.”

 

“What?” He gasps. He thinks he might suffocate in his mask.

 

“Many of us already knew at least a little, Peter,” and though her words are harsh her tone is so, so, kind. “We knew that you were young. We knew that you were trying your best. And we know that you would not kill a man, Peter.”

 

“Someone has to be looking for me,” Peter says, and he can’t breathe.

 

Fuck it. Peter tears off his mask and clutches it against his chest. He takes a couple deep breaths but it doesn’t feel like it’s working, and Ms. Rosa’s face is doing something that he does not like and—

 

“If the police come for you then they won’t be from the City, Peter. The people of New York City have more faith in you than that man,” she practically spits the word, “thinks they do.”

 

Peter looks at Ms. Rosa, at the gentle smile she’s giving him, and somehow, what she’s saying sets in a little. His lungs start working again.

 

“You’ll be safe here,” she says. Peter knows that she doesn’t mean just the building. “We will protect you.”

 

Peter thinks that he believes her. He takes his hands away from his chest, and uncrumples the mask.

 

“Do you mind,” he starts, and he hates how weak his voice sounds. “Do you mind if I stay here while I call my aunt?”

 

Ms. Rosa smiles.

 

“Not at all.”