He doesn’t know where he is. It’s dark and there seems to be a heavy fog surrounding everything. There’s a strange scent in the air. It’s metallic, sort of coppery.
Tony turns, trying to find anything familiar that might tell him where he is. That’s when he sees him.
There’s someone laying on the ground, sprawled half on their side like they’d fallen with no control. The ever-widening pool of blood around them explains the smell. They’re a little blurry, like a picture that’s just slightly out of focus.
The fog seems to get worse. It thickens everywhere except where they’re laying. Tony starts to move closer. He wants to call out, to see if they’re awake, if they’re even alive, but his voice won’t seem to work. He’s got a bad feeling in his chest that only seems to get worse the closer he gets.
Suddenly, it’s like the camera focuses. Tony sees a blue flannel and under it a familiar AC/DC logo, a shirt that had been ‘stolen’ from him long ago. He sees brown curls, usually so soft and shiny, weighed down and dyed a dark red by blood. He sees a familiar silver and black ring glinting on a too still tattooed hand.
“No,” he whispers. The next thing he knows, he’s on his knees and pulling Peter into his arms.
His hand is shaking as he presses his fingers to a delicate neck. He feels a weak pulse fluttering like a damaged butterfly’s wings and almost sobs with relief.
It’s not too late. He’s alive. Tony can fix this. He has to fix this.
“Peter. Peter. Sweetheart, please. Please wake up.” His voice shakes as he cups a soft cheek and rubs his thumb over a bruise on his spider’s cheekbone. “Please.” His voice breaks. He feels a tear roll down his face even as he watches Peter’s beautiful brown eyes blink slowly open.
“Tony?” Peter’s voice is hoarse as if- as if he’d been screaming.
Tony pulls him impossibly closer. “Yeah. Yeah, I’m here. I’m here, sweetheart. I’ve got you.”
Peter reaches a weak and trembling hand up to cup Tony’s jaw. “It- it hurts, Tony. It hurts so much.”
Tony grabs his hand and brings it to his lips to press a soft kiss to the spider ring resting there. “I know. I know. Everything’s gonna be alright, okay? I’m- I’m gonna get you out of here. I’m gonna make everything okay. You’re gonna be okay.” His voice cracks.
A sad smile crosses Peter’s lips and a bit of blood trickles from the corner of his mouth. “Oh, honey. I don’t think even you can fix this.”
“I’m not gonna make it out of this one, Tony. This is it for me.”
Tony shakes his head and another tear rolls down his face. “No. No. Don’t say that. You can’t-” His voice breaks again. “You can’t leave me.”
“You know I wouldn’t if I had a choice, honey.” There’s an understanding and accepting look in Peter’s eyes that Tony doesn’t like at all.
“Sweetheart, please. I can’t do this without you.”
Tony Stark had never begged before in his life. He didn’t beg even when he was in that cave in Afghanistan. But if begging has any chance of keeping his Peter alive? He’ll hit his knees every day.
Big brown eyes start to close.
“Peter!” It comes out as a panicked cry.
They blink open again. Peter smiles softly as their eyes meet. “I love you,” he whispers, like it’s a secret meant only for Tony to hear.
The dam completely breaks as his tears fall steadily. “I love you, too,” he croaks out. “Always have.”
Peter’s eyes slip closed. “Kiss me.”
Tony swallows back a sob as he leans down and presses his lips gently against Peter’s.
It’s their first kiss and their last.
After a few seconds, Tony pulls away and sees how still Peter has become, how his eyes are closed and his features relaxed. He presses his face into a still chest and sobs.
“No. Please, sweetheart. Please.”
Tony jerks awake with a gasp, a desperate plead to a dead man’s ears still on his lips. He can feel the burn of tears in his eyes as he tries to calm his racing heart. He looks at his hands, almost surprised to see them clean and free of blood. They’re trembling.
He throws his blanket aside and stumbles out of bed. He makes his way into the hall and turns to the door right across from his room, breath still hitching in his chest. With a still shaking hand, Tony opens the door as quietly as he can.
His breathing finally starts to calm as he sees the familiar figure asleep in the large bed. Said figure stirs at the sound of the door opening. Peter sits up, gray blanket falling around his waist, and rubs sleepily at one eye as he turns to face the doorway.
“Tony?” he asks, voice rough with sleep.
“Hey,” Tony says quietly. “Sorry to- to wake you up. Just a bad dream.” He lets his eyes roam over the moving, breathing body of the man he- of Peter.
That seems to wake Peter up a little more. “Are you alright?” The concern in both his voice and big brown eyes is obvious.
Tony flinches. Everything’s gonna be alright, okay?
Of course, Peter notices his reaction.
He looks at him contemplatively before he holds out one tattooed hand. “Come here,” he says. “Come lay down.”
Tony barely hesitates as he closes the door behind him and makes his way to the bed. He climbs in beside Peter and notices absently how natural it feels.
Peter immediately rolls over so that he’s sprawled half on Tony’s bare chest. He presses his face into the crook of his neck and Tony wraps one arm securely around him. Peter grabs his free hand and laces their fingers together, pulling them close to the ink on his chest where Tony can feel his heart beating strong and steady.
“Better?” he murmurs. Tony can feel his warm breath on his neck. He can feel his beating heart. He can feel every bit of life that flows through this beautiful man in his arms.
“Yeah,” he whispers. He presses a kiss to shiny brown curls. Brown, not red. Dry and bouncy, not wet and sticky. “Better.”
Tony lays there and listens to Peter’s breathing slow to a steady rhythm as he falls back asleep. Tony feels his own eyelids get heavy.
“I love you,” he murmurs just before he lets sleep claim him.
He doesn’t wake up again until morning, Peter still in his arms.