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Wolf in Sheep's Clothing

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Day 1

„See you later, Uncle Ben” Peter shouted and closed the car door with a bang. Ben had given him a lift to the library since it was almost directly on the way to the big Walmart Center he was heading to and Peter was deeply grateful. Although it was November, it had been raining heavily throughout the whole day, leaving puddles of water on the street and sidewalks every few feet. Aunt May would have never let him take the bike in this weather.

“Hey Pete, back again?” asked Mrs. Hobbs with a big smile. Peter had grown fond of the warmhearted librarian ever since she had told him half of her life story one day a few weeks ago, complaining endlessly about her no-good husband and her shiftless son. “Yes, Mrs. Hobbs… the Theory of Relativity is actually more complex than I thought and I want to be done with these books before Thanksgiving.”

The older lady sighed and looked at Peter motherly. “I wished my son was only half as ambitious as you… then he wouldn’t have ended up as a waiter in that dirty old bar on 42nd street.” Peter blushed, murmured a ‘Thank you’ and was gone in an instant, not wanting to have to listen to her lamentations all over again. Mrs. Hobb’s heart ached a little when she watched him hurrying away. The little boy was a genius, no doubt, but still… he always seemed so shy and lonely and once again she asked herself whether she really wanted her son to be like the kid.

Peter bolted over to his usual spot and after putting down his jacket and bag, facing the long row of book shelves. He gathered three books and returned to his desk eagerly. He had actually already read two of them but the third one was so complex that every other paragraph he had to use the older, easier ones to look up some of the basic stuff again. Peter put on the glasses he had to wear for reading and doing school work and it didn’t take long for him to be completely absorbed in the matter. The boy loved the smell of books and cherished the quietness of the library, which was only occasionally disrupted by the turning of pages or restrained whispers from other visitors. In Peter’s eyes, the library was some kind of sacred place where he could do what he loved most without being bothered by anyone.

After about an hour a shadow fell over the page Peter was reading and he heard a gentle cough. Peter looked up, startled, and looked into the face of a teenager. The boy had blonde hair, so light it was almost white, and Peter spotted a few freckles around his nose. The young boy pressed back into the chair nervously, looking even smaller than he actually was. Had he done something wrong? It was only then that he noticed a friendly smile on the other boy’s face.

The teenager pointed to the chair next to Peter. “Excuse me, is this seat taken?”

Peter looked up and down the long tight row of tables and frowned. Apart from one older guy sitting far on the other end, every seat was unoccupied. “Uh…no” he answered shyly.

“Awesome” the young man said and let himself fall into the chair on Peter’s right. He ran his fingers through his hair and put a bag down on his desk. “Say… haven’t I seen you around here before? You’re the kid whose nose is always buried in a textbook, aren’t you?” He laughed and picked up one of Peter’s book placed on his desk. “Theory of Relativity? Seriously?”

The blonde boy glanced at Peter warily, who had started to sweat a little bit. What did that guy want from him? He almost sounded like the jerks from his school, who took every chance to make fun of him. Couldn’t everybody give him break for once? Since Peter hadn’t responded, the boy spoke on.

“Sorry, I haven’t introduced myself. My name is Steven Westscott, but you can call me Skip.”

“Uhm… hi Skip” Peter said and smiled at Skip cautiously. “I…uhm… I’m Peter.”

“Peter…who? Pan?”

The younger boy blushed. “Ehm… no, Peter Parker.”

“Nice to meet you, Peter Parker” Skip grinned and for a second Peter had the impression that the other boy’s eyes trailed up and down his body, checking him out strangely. It immediately made him feel uncomfortable, but just as he wanted to turn away, Skip looked back at the book in his hands. “Aren’t you a little too young for stuff like that?”

So that’s why Skip had been eying him curiously.

“I…uhm, I don’t think there is a minimum age for these books” Peter said sheepishly. “Also, age is just a number, isn’t it?”

Skip raised an eyebrow. “How old are you?” he asked baldly.

“Ehm… 11.”

Skip’s mouth twitched. “Wow, Peter, I have to say, I’m impressed. You are a little genius, aren’t you…like Einstein?”

Peter didn’t reply. He still wasn’t sure whether the older boy wanted to make fun of him or was being honest.

Skip put the book back down and started to unpack his bag. He took out some school books, a notebook and a pen. “I wished I was as smart as you. I’m in serious need of some more brain cells right now.”

Peter, who was slowly starting to hope that Skip hadn’t come over to aggravate him, gathered up his courage to try and make conversation like normal people without social anxiety would.

“Why? Are these for homework?” He pointed at Skip’s school books.

“More or less… midterm finals are coming up soon and I’m this close” – Skip held up his right hand, his index finger almost touching his thumb – “to fail not only one, but two of my classes, so I gotta get a move on. I come here because this place helps me focus and concentrate.”

“What grade are you in?” Peter asked and glanced eagerly at Skip’s science books.

“I’m a senior”, Skip said and grinned at the younger boy. “My mother is giving me a hard time about it. She’s already predicting that I’m gonna fail college.”

“What college will you go to?” Excitement flushed through Peter, who couldn’t wait until he was old enough to take college classes.

“Probably NYU.“

For a moment, Peter was fantasizing about perilous thrilling experiments in college science labs, but Skip’s somewhat despondent facial expression brought him back to the present. The young boy suddenly had a faint suspicion as to why Skip had sat down next to him and his excitement deadened.

“Uhm… if you… I mean… if you thought I could help you with these things… ehm… I don’t know, I mean… I could try but I would have to take a look at first to see if I’m able to understand anything of it… and….”

“Whoa, stop, stop!“ Skip laughed and put an arm around Peter’s slender body sociably. “No worries kid, you don’t need to help me. That’s really nice of you, but I’m afraid I gotta work through this on my own and like…get a hang of it or else I’d fail my exams anyways.”

Peter was tempted to ask the young man why else he would have sit down with him then, but he couldn’t bring himself to it. Instead he watched Skip pull back his arm, open up his books and flip through the pages, apparently intending to start studying. Somewhat bewildered Peter decided he should probably concentrate on his book again too, almost glad that Skip probably wouldn’t bother him anymore now.

After another hour Peter’s phone started to vibrate loudly on the wooden table, which startled not just him, but also Skip. “Sorry, my uncle” Peter explained hastily, his face red like a tomato, but Skip only smiled considerately. His gaze followed the younger boy, who had gotten up and scurried away from the table.

“Yes?” he whispered when he picked up.

„You ready? I’m gonna be here in… 5 minutes” Ben’s voice rang out the device.

“So soon?” Peter could hardly hide his disappointment. After all, he hadn’t exactly accomplished a lot so far.

Ben didn’t seem to listen; there was noisy honking blasting out the phone’s speaker. “Wha-…Hey! Dammit, look ahead, douchbag” his uncle bellowed, before coughing embarrassedly. “Ehm… sorry, Pete, I was talking to that… jerk right there in front of me.”

Peter chuckled silently. Nothing was more amusing than Uncle Ben losing his temper and all his boundaries while struggling to get through New York’s traffic. Aunt May wouldn’t be pleased. “Anyways, see you in five. It’d be best if you were already out by then, I’m not in the mood right now for a life or death fight over a stupid parking slot.”

Peter hung up with a sigh and went back to his desk. He gathered up the books and put them back into the shelves he had taken them out from and while doing so, he noticed Skip monitoring his movements.

“Aren’t you going to borrow these?” he asked when Peter returned, who put his glasses back into his case and grabbed his jacket.

“Uhm… no, I rather read them here, I’m too distracted at home” the young boy lied with flushed cheeks. Truth was that they had to count every penny after Ben had lost his job a few weeks ago.

Skip smiled fondly. “Well… Hope this means you’re coming back tomorrow?”

Peter stared at him in utter confusion; he wasn’t sure he had heard right. “Y-yeah, I-I guess…?”

“Great, then I’ll have some company.” Skip winked.

Why was the young man being so nice to him? If May and Ben were there, they would probably scold him for being so wary and uptight, so Peter tried to loosen up and smiled shyly.

“Alright… see you tomorrow.”

 

Day 2

It was still raining on Saturday, so Ben and May offered Peter another ride to the library, even though they had an appointment later on and wouldn’t be able to pick him up. Peter didn’t care too much, even by foot it would only take him about 20 minutes to get back home and a little bit of rain wouldn’t keep him away from pursuing his study on the Theory of Relativity. When he walked into the library shortly before 11 o’clock he immediately noticed Skip, already seated at the same desk as yesterday. Hopefully he would still be as nice to him today… Peter took a deep breath and walked slowly towards the older boy. He was overcome by a wave of relief as Skip beamed at him.

“Hey Einstein! I’ve been waiting for you!”

With a pounding heart, Peter pointed at his usual spot to Skip’s left. “Can I… can I sit here?”

Skip darted an irritated glance at Peter, though he was also smiling. “Kid, that’s your spot, isn’t it? I was the one obtruding, stop being silly.”

Peter blushed. “You weren’t… obtruding, really. I don’t mind if you sit here.”

“Awesome… I enjoy the company, you know.”

Smiling broadly, Peter put down his bag, his umbrella and his lunch box before getting his books. Just like yesterday, Skip was watching him gathering them and putting on his glasses, but as soon as Peter began reading, the older boy turned towards the formulas in his books too. For a while both boys were studying silently before the older one spoke up.

“Where do you go to school, by the way?”

“Louis Tucker Middle School”.

“Which grade?”

“Sixth.”

„So you’re gonna be 12 soon?”

“Uhm… no, my birthday is in August.”

“Mhm” Skip mumbled and turned his attention back to his book.

“How old are you?” Peter asked eventually.

“17… Turning 18 in March.”

Peter felt somewhat proud that an almost 18-year-old kid had set down next to him, an 11-year-old, and seemed to admire him for his knowledge. If only his schoolmates were as mature as Skip… Perhaps it was Peter’s fate to solely getting along with people older than him. Even back in elementary school Peter had had next to no friends, which Ben and May always ascribed to him being too shy and silent after the death of his parents. It was true, for a few months after their death Peter hadn’t really spoken more than he absolutely needed to and therefore his schoolmates simply stopped trying to talk to him at some point.

After spending more than a year in therapy it actually got better but by then it had been too late. May had been eager to help him find friends and even signed him up for a children ballet class, apparently trying to fulfill her childhood dream through her nephew, but the plan backfired. Peter had been the only boy in the class and the girls hadn’t been too eager to befriend a boy. Instead of finding friends it had quite the opposite effect when Peter’s schoolmates found out about him jumping around in tight leggings trying to dance on his toes without falling on his face. They started mocking him about it and Peter practically begged May to stop making him do ballet for almost a year until she finally resigned and let him stay at home from then on.

Middle School didn’t exactly turn out any better for Peter since most of his former schoolmates from elementary school started there with him. They immediately spread rumors that Peter wanted to be a girl or that he was “gay”, leading to him having to sit alone at lunch and always being the last one to get chosen whenever they had to form teams. Despite bawling his eyes out about it in his room, Peter knew better than to talk to Ben and May about it or to stand up against his bullies. The first and only time Peter had tried to defend himself had been last year not too long after it had all started. A group of boys had been teasing him again, resulting in Peter ultimately losing his temper and screaming at them to leave him alone. The boys had circled him, pushing him around a little bit, and before Peter had really thought it through, he had shoved one of them with such force that the boy had fallen to the ground. Less than ten seconds later they had recovered from their shock and beat him up for revenge.

Even today Peter still remembered the unpleasant interrogation by his enraged uncle and his upset, teary-eyed aunt, trying to force him to give up the names of those who had given him the black eye and the bleeding nose. However, Peter had stayed silent, too afraid of what his schoolmates would do to him if he ratted them out. Nevertheless, Peter didn’t care much about it at this moment. For as long as he lived, he would always remember the day that Skip had voluntarily sat down next to him and called him smart.

At lunch time Peter opened his lunch box and drew Skip’s attention back to him.

“I guess you’re an Iron Man fan?” Skip asked and pointed at Peter’s Tupperware box.

“He actually saved my life” Peter said eagerly, hoping to impress the older boy even more.

It seemed to work. “Saved your life? How?”

“Yeah, about two years ago… I was at the Stark Expo with my uncle and out of nowhere these weird drones started attacking. I was… well, I was wearing an Iron Man mask and I don’t know, I guess it made me feel brave or something, so I stood there like an idiot instead of running away like everybody else and… there was this big drone right in front of me and just when it was about to kill me, Mr. Stark landed right next to me and destroyed it his repulsor.”

“You’re kidding!” Skip seemed deeply impressed and looked at Peter with big eyes before picking up his bag, rummaging around for his bagel. “And ever since then you’ve been a fan?”

“No, I’ve been a fan before that, but ever since then I’m just… I don’t know, it was just really cool, you know?” Peter grinned and took a bite out of his sandwich. Of course, it had been a really traumatic experience too, but he would always remember getting saved by his big hero.

“I actually prefer Captain America, to be honest… I mean, the guy had been frozen for 70 years and he doesn’t really need weapons or suits to be a match for the bad guys… you know?”

“Sure” Peter said, chewing. “But think about all the things Mr. Stark has invented… he’s a genius!”

“Should have known you’d prefer the brains over the muscles… Einstein.” Skip laughed and stuffed the last big chunk of bagel in his mouth. “Bet you admire Hulk too then, right? What does he have, like 5 PhDs?”

“Seven” Peter corrected him, still chewing. “But it’s not Hulk who has them, it’s Mr. Benner.”

Skip rolled his eyes, evidently amused.

After Peter had finally finished his sandwich, he opened up a small bag of peanut M&Ms.

“I love M&Ms” Skip groaned yearningly, bringing a smile to Peter’s lips. “Me too… My aunt wanted me to take an apple instead, but I told her that studying burns a lot of calories and that I needed a lot of sugar to being able to concentrate.”

“Not bad”, Skip grinned.

“You want some?” Even though the small bag didn’t contain that many M&Ms, he still wanted to offer some to the other boy; after all, he had never really had an opportunity of sharing his lunch with somebody else before.

“Sure, but… I don’t want to take them from you, I mean… you’re so small, you could use some more calories.”

Skip’s gaze wandered over Peter’s tender body, just like yesterday, and it made the younger boy blush a little bit again.

“Ehm… I don’t mind, I’d love to share them with you.”

“Well, in that case… thank you very much.” Skip winked and cracked one of the candies loudly with his teeth.

“What is it you’re studying?” Peter asked after a while and let Skip show him his school books. “Physics is my most favorite subject” he explained and skimmed through the book interestedly.

“I’d have bet on Maths” Skip laughed, watching Peter closely.

“No, too many numbers” the younger boy explained, “also… like, in Maths you don’t really get to do research… whereas in Physics you have a lot of freedom to explore and discover… I’m also really excited for Chemics when I’m in high school.”

“Don’t let Einstein hear you don’t like Maths” Skip grinned and Peter frowned at him. “Einstein was a Physician.”

“Oh… well, told you, I’m bad at this. School’s much too theoretical for my taste.”

After Peter had finished skimming through the Physics book, he handed it back to its owner.

“It’s not all that theoretical… I mean, yeah you always need a theory and most schools don’t teach you a lot of interesting things, but… For example, I am working on a science project for school at the moment, due next Friday, but since I’m lacking the practical skills needed for it, I probably won’t get an A on it. You can’t be good at everything; everyone has some weakness.”

“You know what Einstein, you’re absolutely right. I might not be as smart as you, but I’m not too bad with my hands.”

“You see” Peter smiled. “Right now, we might actually be doing better if I had to study for your exam and if you had to work on my science project.”

“I could help you, though, if you want” Skip offered and Peter gaped at him.

Was he being serious? “Uhm… really?”

“Sure” Skip said and ruffled through Peter’s hair. “I’d be glad to help you out.”

“But…” Peter bit his bottom lip nervously. Had he been right about Skip after all? Did the young man expect a similar offer from him now? “I…I still don’t… know if I can really help you with your homework or exam…”

“No worries, Einstein, as I told you yesterday, I gotta to through this on my own, or else I’d fail my exams and probably wouldn’t be able to graduate and go to college… it’s different when I help you. I mean, you’re like the smartest person I’ve ever met and you’re just goddamn 11 years old. When I help you with your science project it’s just me assisting you with something you could do on your own regardless, you wouldn’t depend on me or anything. There’s a difference.”

Peter had stopped listening after Skip had said “you’re like the smartest person I’ve ever met”. His heart was racing, its strong beats almost hurting, and he couldn’t believe how lucky he was that he had met Skip. He was the first one outside of his family or his teachers to compliment him on anything. Skip wasn’t just older and far more mature than his stupid schoolmates, he certainly also wasn’t a lame loser like Peter was, but rather cool. After all, he was wearing labels Peter had only seen worn by “cool people” and on top of that, Skip’s hairstyle was actually trendy.

After a few moments, Peter gathered up all his courage. “I’d be happy if you helped me” he said shyly and Skip beamed at him. “Great, wanna give me your number so we can set a date whenever you want to work on it?”

Peter’s voice was a pinch higher than normal when he dictated Skip his number. “I’ll let it ring for a sec so you’ll have my number too” Skip said and after a few seconds Peter’s phone started vibrating. With trembling fingers, he saved the number to his contacts, getting overly excited at the fact that this was the first number he had put into his phone that didn’t belong to anybody of his family.

The two boys started chatting about some blockbusters playing in theaters at the moment before getting interrupted by an annoyed cough from one of the other visitors. Embarrassed, the boys mumbled an apology and, after grinning sheepishly at each other, opened up their books again to work in silence for the rest of the day.

Since it was Saturday, the library closed at 3 pm. Peter and Skip stayed until the end and left the building together.

“Isn’t somebody picking you up today?” Skip asked and Peter shook his head. “Which way do you live? I never walked Einstein home before” Skip joked and Peter couldn’t help blushing slightly once again. He didn’t want to bother the other boy.

“You don’t have to, Skip”, he said quickly, but Skip shook his head. “I want to! Einstein… This is the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

He smiled at Peter fondly, who felt a few inches taller at once.

“Th-thanks” he stuttered and had to pull himself together to walk normally. If only his horrid schoolmates could see him right now… strolling home with his cool, older friend… they might actually stop harassing him for once.

During their walk home Peter was chattering non-stop. Now that Skip had officially become his friend, there was nothing holding him back anymore. It seemed like he wanted to make up for years of silence in only 20 short minutes, but Skip didn’t seem to mind. He walked next to the boy with a smile on his face, every now and then interrupting Peter’s ramble by stating his opinion. For a while they jokingly argued about whether Thor was stronger than the Hulk and if Black Widow could win an arm-wrestling contest against Hawkeye. Peter laughed more than he had in the past year and when they finally arrived at his house, he even wished the way would have been longer.

“This is where you live? Looks nice.”

“It is a little small, but I love it here” Peter said, trying not to think about the conversation Ben and May had had last week. If Ben didn’t find a new job soon, they would have to sell and move into an apartment.

“Do you have any siblings?” Skip asked interestingly and Peter shook his head.

“No, do you?”

“Nope” he said, popping the ‘p’, “another thing we have in common.”

The older boy hadn’t made any move to leave, so Peter chanced his luck. “Do you want to come in for a while? I could show you my Lego collection.”

Skip beamed. “I’d love to, Einstein… I mean, if that’s fine with your parents?”

“I’m living with my uncle and aunt” Peter said quickly and unlocked the door. “And they won’t be back for another hour or so. But yeah, they’d probably be happy if you came in.”

After all, they had been nagging him so often to invite a school friend that Peter was actually excited for them to meet Skip. The young man hesitated for a second before nodding his head.

“Okay, fine, if you insist, I’ll come in for another hour.”

They stepped into the house and Peter led Skip up the stairs and into his room immediately. He was shaking with excitement when he fetched one of the three big boxes filled with different Lego sets. Meanwhile, Skip was inspecting his room.

“Gosh, you do have an insane amount of fan merchandise” Skip laughed and Peter blushed. Admittedly, almost everything in his room was from Star Wars, Harry Potters or Superheroes, mostly Iron Man.

“Have you never had stuff like that?” Peter asked, a little angry with himself. Why didn’t his room look a little bit more mature? He didn’t want Skip to think he was still a small child.

“I did but never…so much. Okay, I’ll admit I actually have a Captain America figure somewhere and I still love Star Wars but… the only thing I really care about in my room is my PlayStation.”

Skip grinned and Peter looked at him enviously. “I’ve always wanted a PlayStation.”

“You can come over and play some games with me if you want” Skip said nonchalantly.

“Really?” Peter’s voice shook with excitement. “When can I come over?”

Skip laughed and winked. “Anytime, Einstein.”

The young boy looked down onto the Legos in his hands. “Uhm… do you even wanna… I mean… I actually have an old Wii somewhere; if it still works, we could play video games instead…”

“It’s fine, I’ll gladly build this…” - Skip took a look at the box and seemed pleasantly surprised - “starfighter with you, holy shit, that’s cool.”

Peter could have screamed. Skip had called something that belonged to him cool. He spread the bricks all over the floor excitedly and because he had already built the starfighter a few times before, he let Skip do most of the work. They were chatting about Star Wars while they were building and barely heard the door slam shut downstairs.

It was May who first noticed the unfamiliar pair of shoes in the corridor. “Peter?” she called and a few seconds later her nephew appeared on top of the stairs, looking extremely happy. He jogged down and greeted aunt and uncle with a big smile. “Hey!”

“Who do these belong to?” May asked, gesturing down to the floor, and Ben frowned. The shoes were almost his size, even though he would never buy shoes from a brand this expensive, especially not sneakers.

“My friend Skip” Peter declared and his voice quavered with excitement.

Ben and May stared at him.

“Skip? Who is Skip?” Ben asked and May barely dared to hope… The only friend Peter had ever mentioned had been named “Liam” and he hadn’t existed. However, this had happened a few years ago and the shoes placed on the corridor carpet right now, definitely existed. Therefore, it couldn’t be an imaginary friend.

“He’s my friend from the library” Peter said proudly and suddenly another boy appeared on the top of the stairs, coming down casually. The closer he came the more baffled Ben and May became. The boy eventually stopped right next to Peter, who didn’t even reach up to his shoulder.

“Hi, I’m Steven Westscott, but everyone just calls me Skip” the boy introduced himself with a deep voice and reached out his hand to the two grown-ups. May and Ben exchanged a brief glance, but then May grasped Skip’s hand and shook it. “May Parker, Peter’s aunt… and this is Ben, my husband.”

Ben shook hands with Skip too, but not without shooting him a scrutinizing look.

“Ehm… are you staying for dinner?” May asked and Peter turned around to look at Skip anxiously.

“No, thank you, that’s really kind but my mom is probably already waiting for me, so… I’d rather go. But really, thank you again, I’d love to take you up on that another time.”

The three Parkers waited until Skip had put on his shoes and slipped into his jacket before saying good bye. “See you tomorrow, Einstein!” Skip winked and went out into the cold.

Peter excitedly waited for his aunt and uncle to say something, but to his disappointment they seemed rather bewildered than happy or proud.

“Where did you say you know him from?” May asked.

“I met him at the library” Peter answered impatiently. “Why?”

“How old is he?” Ben wanted to know.

“17… why?”

„Isn’t he like…. a little too old?” May asked carefully and Peter was starting to feel angry. “What do you mean, too old? Too old for what? I’m not a little kid anymore.”

“You’re 11” Ben said exhaustedly. “Normally, 17-year-olds don’t hold a lot of interest in children your age, that’s all.”

“But… he actually approached me and… he is really nice and we have a lot in common. He isn’t as immature and stupid as the people in my school, please, I-”

“Alright” May interrupted. “It’s fine, baby, we’re happy for you.” She smiled and seemed to be sincere about it. “We just don’t want you to be disappointed or hurt or being taken advantage of.”

“Why would he do any of that?”

May and Ben had to admit they didn’t even know themselves. It was just a weird gut feeling every parent or guardian most likely had when their child brought back home a much older friend. On the other hand, both of them knew that even though Peter was still very innocent and somewhat naïve, he was also a lot smarter and more mature than other children his age. Therefore, it might be a logical consequence that their precious baby boy had such a hard time finding friends in school. Also, they didn’t know anything about Skip yet, as far as they know he could be as lonely as Peter, either because he was too smart, too mature, or even too immature to find friends his age. The only thing that mattered to Aunt May and Uncle Ben was that Peter had finally found a friend. A friend who made him beam and laugh, a friend whom he could play with and talk to.

 

Day 3

Even though the library was only opened from 9 to 12 am on Sundays, Peter didn’t want to miss the opportunity to study and – he hardly wanted to admit it – particularly to talk to Skip again. At least it had finally stopped raining, so May let Peter take his bicycle again. He smiled, when Skip was once again already waiting in their usual spot.

“See what I brought” the older boy grinned and threw four big bags of M&Ms onto the desk. Peter’s mouth fell open.

“Holy… where did you get those?”

“From Walgreens, you moron” Skip snorted and gave Peter a playful smack on the head. “Thought you were a genius.”

Peter had gone tomato-red again and muttered something under his breath Skip couldn’t understand.

After a few minutes he ripped open one of the M&M bags. “Hope your folks were okay with me staying over yesterday?” he asked casually.

“Of course, why wouldn’t they be?”

“I don’t know, it’s just… they didn’t seem to be too happy to see me.”

“No, no… they… they were just surprised because I haven’t told him anything about you before” Peter said hastily.

“Do you often have friends over?” Skip asked and noticed Peter twisting uncomfortably.

“Not too often, no” he admitted silently and pretended to be highly concentrated on some formula in his book.

Skip didn’t let it go. “Don’t you have a lot of friends?”

Peter was uncomfortable, if not totally embarrassed, being directly confronted with a question like that, but he felt like he could confide in Skip and that he actually didn’t have to be ashamed of it in front of him.

“Not really.”

“Hard to imagine” Skip said flabbergasted. “I mean… you are super nice and so goddamn smart… who wouldn’t want to be friends with you?”

“P-people in my … in my school… they don’t understand me. Not like you…” Peter said and tried to hold back the tears that welled in corner of his eyes. He tried to concentrate on the variables in front of him, but then Skip grabbed him gently on his chin and forced the boy to look at him.

“Hey, you know what? They are idiots and you shouldn’t even care about what they think. They are probably just jealous of you because they know that one day, you’ll be rich and famous because you… healed cancer or something. Don’t let them get you down, alright?”

A silent tear left Peter’s right eye, rolling down his cheek slowly.

“I want you to tell me whenever those assholes give you a hard time, alright? I’ll come over in a sec and kick their ugly butts.”

Peter busted out laughing and dried his eyes quickly. “Thank you Skip” he said, completely choked up, and gladly accepting the M&Ms Skip offered him with a smile.

“Anytime, Einstein. I’m your friend now and friends help each other out.”

Just before the library closed the two boys had eaten up two of the M&M bags. Peter felt a little sick and with a queasy conscience thought about the lunch May was preparing right now. He doubted he would be able to eat anything for the rest of the day and told Skip about it.

Skip’s response seemed out of place. “Your aunt is really hot.”

Peter stared at him. “Uhm…thanks?”

“Don’t you think so too?”

The older boy’s grin widened when Peter blushed deeply. “She’s my… she’s my aunt, I don’t…”

“Relax, Einstein, I was just joking” he laughed and put an arm around Peter’s shoulders. “By the way, I mean… now that you mention it… what kind of girls do you like?”

“I-I…I don’t know”, Peter stuttered, slightly abashed. He had never really given it a lot of thought before. Sure, there were some girls in his school he considered pretty, but he felt way too young to fall in love or anything yet.

“Or do you like boys?”

“What? N-no… I…”

Peter felt Skip’s fingers around his shoulder tighten indistinguishably. “You sure? I wouldn’t judge you, nowadays it isn’t such a big deal anymore.”

The young boy shook his head quickly. “N-no, really, I… I mean, guess I like long brown hair… I guess? O-on girls.”

As subtle as it had tightened, the grip on Peter’s shoulder eased again and he didn’t know whether he said something good or bad.

“Sounds like you have a good taste” Skip said after a while and smiled softly. “I didn’t want to sound you out, I’m sorry. I just thought you might be pretty popular with girls.”

“Uhm… no, I told you, I don’t really… have a lot of friends.” Not a lot of equaling zero.

“Doesn’t have to mean that nobody has a crush on you.”

Peter gave a false, awkward laugh. “I highly doubt that. Why would anyone have a crush on me?”

“Because you’re pretty cute?”

At the same moment Mrs. Hobbs left the library and turned to lock the door.

“C-cute?” Peter’s face went redder than it had ever before and he shifted from foot to foot insecurely.

“Well, I meant from a girl’s point of view” Skip laughed, “you have to grow in confidence, Einstein.” The young man was suddenly speaking way more loudly than before. “If you really like a girl, just approach her and ask her out. If she declines… well, it will hurt at first but trust me, it had happened to me a bunch of times but I never lost my confidence, because one day I’ll be successful and find the girl I’m going to marry.”

Peter was utterly confused. What Skip had said was somewhat off the point, almost as if he had changed topics in the middle of a conversation. Peter shrugged it off though when Mrs. Hobbs went by them and smiled fondly. “Bye Pete, see you soon.”

She glanced at Skip before wishing him a nice day too.

“Sorry if I upset you or made you feel uncomfortable” Skip said in a normal volume again. “I just thought you might like boys and were too scared to talk about it. Happened to my stepbrother… But then he realized he could trust me.”

“No problem, thank you, I appreciate it… but, no, really, it’s not like that.” Peter still felt a little awkward and wanted to change topics permanently this time. “So… guess that means your parents are divorced?”

“They are.” Skip nodded and started walking down the road next to Peter. The young boy wheeled his bicycle so he wouldn’t be faster than his friend and could listen. “My dad remarried and she had kids, meaning I suddenly had an older stepbrother and a younger stepsister. Wasn’t that easy at first.”

“I’m sorry” Peter said quickly but then remembered their conversation from yesterday. “Yesterday you said that you didn’t have any siblings.”

“For me they aren’t siblings” Skip explained, sounding bitter. “I mean, I’ve grown fond of them, especially Mike, but it’s more of a friendship, you know? We never grew up together and I only see them and my father every three or four months. Mike is actually off to college now, so I see him even less.”

“I understand” Peter said silently and Skip noticed he seemed upset.

“Your aunt and uncle… why do you live with them? Are your parents… are they dead?”

“Yes”, the young boy whispered. “They died in an accident when I was 6.”

“Shit, really?” Skip had stopped walking and was watching Peter closely. “That’s terrible…I’m… I’m really sorry, Peter.”

The boy noticed that Skip had actually called him by his name for the first time since when they had met two days ago.

“It’s alright” Peter murmured and swallowed down a big lump in his throat. “I can’t remember them too well…”

Suddenly Skip was next to him and pulled him into a close embrace. He held him so tightly that the bike slipped out of Peter’s fingers and crashed to the ground with a loud bang. Skip didn’t seem to care and neither did Peter. Being held so tightly by his friend, the young boy could feel something inside him crumble. He started sobbing and pressed his face into Skip’s shirt. “You don’t always have to be strong, Einstein” Skip whispered and gently stroked Peter’s head, just like Aunt May often did when he was crying. Even though he had known Skip for only three days, he treated him like they’d been friends forever. He was everything Peter had always wanted… a big brother or a friend, who would be there for him and where he could be himself without having to fear getting rejected or made fun of.

Seconds after Peter had finally started to hug back, Skip suddenly pushed Peter away from him, gently, but firmly. “I, uh… I should probably go” the older boy said and took his bag off his shoulder, squeezing it between them awkwardly. Peter wiped the tears off his cheeks and started at the bag expectantly. The way Skip held it had made Peter think he would get out a tissue or anything else for the boy, but he didn’t make a move to even open it.

“I’m sorry” Peter finally said and let his shoulders drop. He sniffed and bent down to pick up his bike which gladly didn’t seem to have suffered any damage.

“For what?” Skip asked confusedly and looked at Peter oddly.

“For…for this. I d-didn’t want to cry… but y-you had said, that…”

“No, no, please, don’t apologize, everything is fine, I’m really glad you let it out, I’m just… I should really get going, my mom is waiting for me with lunch and your aunt is too and… well, see you, bye.”

Skip turned around and hurried away in the opposite direction with big, somewhat awkward steps. Peter watched him leave, feeling desperate and embarrassed. Why did he have to cry like a stupid child? Most certainty he had successfully scared Skip away now, but why did the older boy had to hug him and tell him to let go? Otherwise he might not have needed to start bawling his eyes out… New tears rolled down Peter’s cheeks and his legs were shaking. Good thing he had the bicycle, he wouldn’t have been able to walk home like that.

His eyes were still puffy and reddened when he slammed the door shot behind him. Gladly, both May and Ben were still busy in the kitchen, so Peter just shouted a quick “Hello” before darting up the stairs. His first went into the bathroom to wash his face, hoping the reddening would go down until lunch, before he stormed into his room and flung himself onto the bed, trying not to feel too upset anymore. After a few boring minutes of staring onto the ceiling, Peter fumbled for his phone in the pocket of his jeans and he almost couldn’t believe his eyes when the screen lit up. “1 new message” it said.

Peter’s heart was racing when he clicked on it and his stomach twisted unpleasantly as he realized it was a message from Skip. Would he forgive him?

“I’m really sry for leaving so abruptly, Einstein… Truth is, even tho my parents aren’t dead the divorce had been really hard for me and when I saw u crying like that, I almost couldn’t withhold my own tears anymore. I wanted to stay strong for u and almost failed.”

Peter sighed with relief and typed a quick answer, fingers slightly trembling.

“It’s fine, but you shouldn’t have felt that way. You’ve said it yourself: friends are there for each other and if you want to talk about it - anything - just tell me, please.”

Skip’s reply didn’t take long.

“U’r such a great friend, Einstein, ty! I just wished sb would’ve hold me like that when I’d been younger, y’know…”

The young boy was choked up with emotion.

“As I said, I really want to be there for you. I’m glad we are friends (:”

This time it took more than a minute until Peter’s phone vibrated again.

“Me 2, Einstein :) :) It sounds crazy but it’s been ages since I’ve had so much fun with anybody and I don’t think I’ve ever had a friend I feel so comfortable talking to. I always have to be strong and tough around my other friends but when I’m with u, I can be the real me. Do u know when we can hang again? I’m rather busy throughout the week with school and workout so I can’t go to the library, I hardly come home before 7pm.”

Peter sighed. Uncle Ben and aunt May wouldn’t let him go out to this late during the week, not in winter when the sun went down way earlier.

“I don’t think I can go out this late during the week ): “

“Np, if ur folk r ok with it I could come over maybe… and help u with ur science project. Can’t wait for the weekend tho, maybe we could hang out at my place then.”

“Alright, I’ll text you when I need help. Maybe on Thursday? Thank you Skip (: “

“Anytime, Einstein!”

Half an hour later May finally called Peter down to lunch. He beamed when he skipped into the dining room, bringing a blissful smile to Ben’s face and making May almost tear up. Any doubt had been forgotten, now that their nephew seemed so radiant with joy. Peter didn’t eat much, but they affiliated it to him rambling about the Theory of Relativity throughout the whole meal. Even though May and Ben didn’t understand a word, they let him speak on, awarding him with a nod every now and then, but silently thanking that Westscott boy for befriending their nephew. They hoped that Peter would become more confident now and maybe find a friend or two at school soon too.

Chapter Text

Day 7

Peter and Skip didn’t see each other again until Thursday evening when the older boy visited the Parker house for a second time. Since Ben had gone out with friends, May had invited a friend of her own, Anna, and they were eagerly chatting in the kitchen when the doorbell rang.

May beamed when she opened the door. “Hey… Skip was it, right?” She pulled the young man into a heartfelt hug.

“Yeah… Aunt May?” Skip tried and smiled mischievously.

She nodded approvingly, let him step inside and pointed upstairs. “Peter is in his room. I baked you some cookies, although I’m afraid they are slightly burned… I’m not the best cook in the world so uhm… it’s okay if you don’t want to eat them.”

“Thank you so much, I’m sure they’ll taste delicious,” Skip laughed, winked and marched upstairs.

Peter had waited excitedly for the doorbell to ring, fidgeting nervously, but when he heard his friend climbing up the stairs, he quickly grabbed a book, flung himself onto the bed and tried to look relaxed.

“Hi there.”

“Hi, Skip” the young boy said, still slightly edgy. Skip pretended he hadn’t noticed.

“Wow, is this your science project?” he pointed to three empty bottles, one dangerously balanced on a plastic cup, “What’re you trying to do?”

“I’m trying to build a heart pump model,” Peter explained and Skip snorted. “Should’ve known you wouldn’t just do a simple presentation or some shit.”

“Well the requirements said we actually had to show off an experiment and not just talk about it. That’s why I’m really glad you’re here, as I said, I’m not really good with my hands.”

“Then let’s get started, shall we?”

Peter was greatly relieved that Skip wasn’t acting awkwardly around him anymore and even seemed to enjoy working on the project with him. The older boy helped whenever Peter was too clumsy or impatient and they made rapid progress, only pausing to eat some of the – severely burned, but still somewhat tasty - cookies May had baked.

“You are way too… hyper, that’s your problem” Skip crackled when Peter spilled some of the liquid he had tried to pour into one of the bottles for the third time in a row.

“Sorry, Peter mumbled, feeling embarrassed, but Skip kept on laughing and ruffled through the younger one’s hair. Peter didn’t know if he liked it because it made him feel like a little boy, therefore he tried to flatten his little curls again with a slightly annoyed expression and Skip turned away grinning.

After a while they were done with the project and Skip slumped down on Peter’s desk chair. “Finally! That was… actually kind of fun, Einstein, we’re a good team.” He held up his hand and the young boy high-fived him happily.

Skip then turned around with the swivel armchair and grabbed one of the framed photographs on Peter’s desk. It was a picture of a young boy, tightly embraced by a man and a woman who were smiling happily into the camera lens.

“Are these your parents?” Skip asked and Peter nodded slowly. “Yeah… it was taken on my sixth birthday, actually.” He swallowed down the lump in this throat which had immediately started to build, and Skip looked at him with a sad expression in his eyes. He quickly put the photo back and grabbed another one placed right next to it. There were a bunch of people on there and it took him a few seconds to make out Peter’s face. He didn’t look that much younger than today.

“Who are all these people?”

Relieved that Skip hadn’t asked more about his parents, Peter came closer and glanced at the photograph over Skip’s shoulder.

“That’s my aunt’s family. Those are her sisters, their husbands and their children. Her parents immigrated from Italy when she was a child.”

The young man put the photo back down. “What about your uncle? Does he have siblings too?

“Uhm… my dad was his brother… he had no other siblings and his parents have already died too.”

“So… your uncle is your last living blood relative?”

Peter looked down on the floor. “Yeah.”

Skip didn’t respond and Peter promptly tried to lighten the mood a little bit, not wanting to mope around again. “But it’s okay, May’s family is really accepting and they are my family too. Her parents call me grandson and her nephew and nieces call me cousin.”

“You get on well with them?”

“Yeah… especially with Harrold, he’s my best friend, basically.”

Skip arched his eyebrows. „I thought you didn’t have any friends?”

His voice wasn’t as soft as earlier and he looked at Peter weirdly, causing the younger boy to wince. “Uhm… not in school, I mean… he is my family and I hardly ever see him, just once or twice every year, my other cousins even less… they don’t live in the city.”

Skip’s eyes sparkled resentfully. „To be honest… I actually thought I was your best friend.”

Peter was startled. How could he have been so stupid? No wonder Skip was upset with him.

“Y-yes, y-you are, but… I’m just not… I mean, we’ve only known each other for a week and Harrold… until last week he had been the only one who texted me every now and then… I didn’t mean… please, don’t be mad, you really are my best friend, I swear, I’m really sorry, I just…”

The young boy knew he was babbling, but he didn’t know what he could say to convince Skip that he had made a stupid mistake and that he was in fact his only “real” and his best friend. Fortunately, Peter’s desperate stuttering seemed to soothe Skip at least a little bit.

“It’s okay, but… y’know, it’s not nice to make someone believe that they’re their best friend, only to casually mention one day that it’s actually not true.”

“No, really, it’s not like that,” Peter lamented, his bottom lip trembling, “It’s all just new for me and I didn’t think, I’m truly sorry.”

Skip kept Peter on tenterhooks for a few more moments before finally holding up his hands reassuringly. “Okay, fine, I believe you, kid, don’t freak out about it, okay?”

Peter tried not to be upset that Skip had called him ‘kid’ but a tiny voice inside his head wondered what had happened to Einstein… His friend was most likely just trying to act as if he wasn’t too hurt about it, even though he was.

“I’m really sorry Skip, can I make it up to you somehow?”

All of a sudden, the older boy smiled curiously. “How do you want to make it up to me?”

“Uhm… I dunno, is there anything I can do?

Skip seemed to contemplate but after a while he just sighed deeply and looked at Peter graciously. “You don’t have to make amends, you didn’t do anything wrong, it was just a misunderstanding, wasn’t it? Friends forgive each other.”

Peter felt a great deal of relief and when Skip even started to ask questions about his family, he gladly told him anything he wanted to know.

Shortly thereafter Peter accompanied Skip downstairs and May and her friend Anna came out from the living room to say their goodbyes to the young man.

“Is it okay if I visited Skip tomorrow evening?” Peter asked May who smiled brightly. “Of course,” she said, “But I want you home at 9 and either I or Ben will pick you up.”

“Thank you!” Peter beamed and escorted Skip outside to see him off at the street. He was already shaking from excitement because they had planned to play a few games on Skip’s PlayStation.

“Thanks for helping me with my science project, Skip,” Peter said and Skip gave him a friendly nudge on his shoulder.

“No problem…See you tomorrow, Einstein!” He waved farewell and Peter was waiting until he vanished in the darkness.

May had been watching from the doorway, smiling happily. “I used to worry that he didn’t have any friends until that nice Wescott boy came along,” May said to her friend, “He seems like such a fine young man, Anna!”

After Peter had went back upstairs, the two women strolled back into the living room.

“I’m really happy for you, especially for Peter,” Anna said and smiled, “But… he is a little older than Pete, isn’t he?”

“He is, but you know Pete…. he isn’t like his schoolmates or any other children his age.”

“You’re probably right,” Anna sighed, “Still… it is a little weird, isn’t it? I’m not sure I’d allow my children to have a friend who’s that much older than them.”

“Well, you have two daughters, I guess it’s a little different then.”

“Good heavens, I didn’t mean it… like that,” Anna said hastily, going red in the face, “But… I mean, he’s an older teenager. Before you know it, this boy takes Peter to a party with him where everyone is drinking and smoking and doing drugs.”

May busted out laughing. “Neither me nor Ben will ever allow Peter to go to a high school before he’s at least in high school himself, trust me.”

“But what if that boy is throwing the party himself and invites Peter to it? His own birthday party, for instance?”

May considered this for a second. “We will think about that when it happens, but if Skip’s parents were there, I don’t think we would have a problem with it. Besides, Skip doesn’t really seem to be like that. Honestly, I’m aware that I hardly know him but… why would he befriend Peter if he… well… had enough friends his age?”

May was deeply ashamed to say something like that but she had already spoken about it with Ben before. They felt certain that Skip was just as lonely as Peter and, considering that they had met in the library, that he was probably just as much of an ambitious genius like their sweet baby boy.

 

Day 8

Ben gave Peter a ride in the afternoon of the following day to Skip’s apartment in Woodside, a western district of Queens and about 6 miles from the Parker residence. Peter took the elevator up to the third floor where Skip was already waiting for him.

“Hey Einstein!” he grinned and pulled Peter into a friendly embrace. The young boy entered the apartment and looked around curiously. He was quite anxious, having never been invited to anyone’s home before apart from a birthday party in second grade. The furniture looked comfortable and at the same time more modern and expensive than what May and Ben owned. There was even a pool table between the living and the dining room, but before Peter could take a closer look, Skip asked if he wanted to see his room.

The teenager’s room was very different to his own. It was big, stylishly furnished and even though Skip still had some posters on his walls they displayed more grown-up interests, like motorcycles and expensive cars. At the top of a cupboard Peter found the Captain America action figure Skip had told him about, a lonely remnant of his early teenage years. There was a big TV screen on the wall opposite the bed and attached to it was a PlayStation 3. Peter’s eyes gleamed and Skip grinned. “You want some Popcorn?”

If there was heaven, Peter knew this would be it. “Sure” he said and while Skip was busy working in the kitchen the young boy was checking out Skip’s DVD and Blu-ray collection. Some of the titles seemed familiar even though Peter hadn’t been allowed to watch them yet. Ben and May let him watch PG-13 rated movies sometimes, like Star Wars or other big blockbusters, but they wouldn’t even let him near films rated R.

A few minutes later Skip returned, balancing a big bowl of Popcorn.

“What do you wanna play?”

“Uhm… what do you have?” Peter asked and Skip recited a long list of game names, overwhelming Peter completely, “I… I don’t know, what do you like most?”

“That’s my favorite,” the older boy said and pulled a disc out of a case. Grand Theft Auto IV. Peter had heard that name before and he wouldn’t have needed to see the warning sign labeled NC-17 to know that it wasn’t exactly a game for children.

“Uh… I don’t think I should be playing that” he said.

“Why not?” Skip sneered, “Because you’re too young for it?” He laughed, but unlike than usual it didn’t really sound kind. “Please don’t tell me you’re a mama’s boy who’s afraid to do anything he’s not supposed to.”

“Uhm...n-no, I…” Peter stuttered, blushing deeply, “b-but…”

Skip looked at him poignantly. “You’re not a baby anymore, Peter. You’re so mature for your age and trust me, the game is amazing, you’ll love it. It even takes place in New York City.”

Peter gulped. If he didn’t give in now, Skip would effectively think he was an uptight whiny mama’s boy. “Okay,” he muttered feebly, “I guess I can at least… take a look.”

Skip smiled, obviously pleased, and started the game. He vaguely explained what buttons Peter had to press, but the young boy was hopelessly overchallenged.

“I guess I’ll sure you first,” Skip said eventually and gently took the gaming controller out of Peter’s hands While Skip was speeding through the virtual streets Peter was silently watching him, eating Popcorn. The game actually didn’t seem so bad, Peter thought, until his friend suddenly overran a pedestrian and blood splattered the windshield.

“Goddamn” Skip cursed, but he only seemed to be annoyed about the fact that a few police cars were chasing after him now. He evoked some spectacular crashes, killing even more pedestrians, before skidding into a back alley. Skip took out an automatic rifle and started firing ceaselessly, killing about twenty people before finally getting shot by an officer. Peter gulped, trying not to think about what Ben and May would say if they could see him now, but he didn’t dare to speak up, not even when Skip started a violent, horrifying in-game mission. Hopefully he wouldn’t get any nightmares from that.

Only reluctantly he took back the controller when Skip returned it to him after accomplishing the mission, but fortunately the older boy didn’t force him to shoot anyone and let Peter drive around town with a stolen car instead. Peter steered the car around slowly and carefully, but after a while it actually started to become fun and he acted more bravely, even laughing when he crashed a bunch of times. Before he knew it, they had been playing for hours, stopping only when his phone beeped.

“It’s my uncle,” Peter said, reading the message Ben had sent, “He’s gonna be here in 10 minutes.”

Skip didn’t seem pleased. “Too bad,” he said with a sigh, “Just when we were having so much fun… You can come back soon though, if you want.”

“Surem” Peter cheered, “I’d love to. Oh, by the way, May asks if you’re coming over to have lunch with us on Sunday. We could go see a movie later, if you want.”

Skip didn’t answer right away but eventually he agreed. “Sure, Einstein. Why not…”

 

Day 17

Unfortunately, Skip fell ill and canceled the appointment on Saturday evening. Peter didn’t hear a lot from him throughout the following week, starting to worry about having done something wrong, but at least Skip was still texting him back whenever Peter asked him how he was feeling.

Finally, Skip recovered, whereupon Peter invited him again for the following Sunday. This time his friend actually showed up, patiently answering every question about his family, school and hobbies May and Ben asked him. The more they got to know about Skip the more they thought he was the perfect friend for their nephew, even though their previous assumption - that the young man was a genius as well - turned out to be wrong. Skip seemed like an ordinary, down to earth guy, but they decided that this was actually an asset, hoping it would help Peter become more “normal” too.

After they had finished their meals, Ben and May drove the boys to the nearest theater where they bought them tickets for the new Superman movie. In contrary to real life superheroes Peter wasn’t a big fanboy of comic book champions, but he did enjoy the movies regardless and it’s not like he would have had much of a choice anyways if he didn’t want to take his teenager friend into a PG-rated film. Ben and May had actually had no objections, considering Peter had already seen the first Superman movie a few months ago and hadn’t gotten scared by it at all. Gladly the employees at the theater didn’t question Peter’s age, even though the boy looked even younger than he actually was, and so Skip and him were able to enjoy 120 minutes of blockbuster movie action. Afterwards, Ben and May picked them up again and provided Skip with a ride home.

When Skip entered his apartment, his mother was preparing dinner in the kitchen. She smiled when he walked over and gave her a quick peck on her cheek.

“How was the movie?” she asked and Skip shrugged.

“It was quite good actually,” he said, watching her chop some carrots.

“You’re spending a lot of time with Thomas at the moment,” she said casually and glanced at him.

Skip frowned. “So? Since when does that bother you?”

“It doesn’t,” she said and smiled mischievously, “I just thought you might have a girlfriend you’re not telling me about?”

Her son laughed but couldn’t prevent blushing slightly. “What makes you think that?”

“Because I met his mother at the store today and, strangely enough, she didn’t know anything about you eating lunch with her and her family and heading to the movies with her grounded son.

Mrs. Westscott winked and the red on Skip’s cheeks intensified.

“I uhm… well, if you really wanna know, I might be seeing someone but I won’t tell you anything about her before I don’t even know if I… really like her, y’know?”

“I knew it!” She laughed triumphantly, “Alright, I’m gonna wait, but I swear, if you’re not bringing her over because you’re ashamed of me or because you’re afraid I’m gonna embarrass you, then you will have a problem with me, young man.”

She playfully pointed at him with her knife and Skip laughed, reassuring her that it wasn’t like that at all.

The boy then went into his room to change into more comfortable clothes, cursing under his breath. He had to be more careful from now on if he didn’t want to be faced with stupid questions. The LED light on his phone was blinking and he smiled amusedly when he saw that Peter had already sent him new message. However, his face fell as soon as he read that Ben and May had invited him for lunch again next week. What was their problem anyways? How old was he, 10? He typed a quick reply.

“Sry, not sure if my mom is ok with it, she actually wants me to spend more time studying for my midterms… I’ll ask her in a sec and let u know, maybe it’d be better tho if u came over again.”

At dinner, Skip casually asked his mother if she had any appointments coming up this week. He groaned when it sounded like she would basically be home every evening for the next two weeks straight. Back in his room he walked around in a circle, feeling irritated. At last, he pulled out his phone.

“Guess we can’t see each other this week but she might let me come over on Sunday after all. I’ll keep u updated.”

 

Day 24 - Day 31

In the end, Skip spent not only the next but also the following Sunday at the Parker’s. The boys played some old children games on the Wii, talked about superheroes, movies, comics and Skip even endured every excited lecture about science Peter gave him. May baked (and burned) more cookies which they consumed while watching some episodes of Star Wars: Clone Wars. They built another Lego set and even had a snowball fight, which was observed by a smiling aunt and a proud uncle. They didn’t see each other during the week but constantly exchanged text messages. Peter had actually started to tell Skip whenever someone in school was bullying him and every time his older friend managed to cheer the boy up again, either by comforting him or by distracting him with stupid, but nevertheless very funny, jokes.

Eventually, Skip invited Peter over again for the following Friday afternoon, knowing his mother wouldn’t be home before 8 or 9 pm.

Chapter Text

Day 36

Skip seemed to be in a very good mood when he opened the door for Peter at three pm next Friday afternoon, beaming at his young friend. “Hey Einstein… glad you could make it, how are you?”

“Great!” Peter smiled happily and shook his head get snowflakes out of his wet, slightly curly hair.

“You haven’t taken the bike, have you?” Skip asked incredulously, remembering the thin layer of snow he had seen on his way home from school just an hour ago.

“Yeah, Uncle Ben and Aunt May are at some sort of get-together because Ben thinks he might be able to get a job there or something. They didn’t even want to let me go at first but I promised I’d be careful and I mean, it only takes me about twenty minutes to get here with the bike so they agreed”, Peter rambled on, “oh, but I gotta be at home at six, they threatened to call on the landline to make sure I’m actually there.”

The young man smiled, somewhat sourly all of a sudden. “Well… we better make good use of the time we have then, right?” He watched Peter take off his thick winter jacket and his boots before leading him further inside the apartment. “Wanna play some video games again?”

Peter hesitated, remembering the bad dream he had had after playing GTA for hours. “Ehm… sure, but… I’d actually rather try pool first, if that’s okay?”

Skip seemed to consider it for a moment but then nodded and cracked another smile. “Sure thing… though, you’re a virgin, right?”

Peter stared at him, flabbergasted. “W-what?”

“At playing pool…jackass,” Skip laughed and ruffled the blushing boy’s hair. “I’m kidding, but… you’ve never played it before, have you?”

“No,” Peter said and went over to the pool table, “but I know the rules. I’ve read that there are different ways to find the precise impact point, like… calculate the angle and needed speed to get the ball quite certainly into the hole you’re aiming for. Like…”

Skip interrupted him before he could elaborate any further, rolling his eyes slightly. “But where’s the fun in that, Einstein? Just relax, stay cool and trust your instincts. That’s way more fun than calculating everything all the time.”

He handed Peter a billiard cue and showed him how to hold it properly. After that, the older boy arranged the balls in the middle of the table and hit them with the cue ball full-force. Peter discovered that he wouldn’t get far relying only on his instincts. Usually, whenever he actually managed to hit another ball with the white cue ball, it never went into the direction he had intended. After a while, Skip started to mock him, but Peter knew it was more of a banter, with no intention of hurting or insulting him for real. Therefore, the young boy eventually joined in the laughter and after losing sublimely, he even challenged Skip to another round. They both had a lot of fun, but after about an hour, Peter noticed that his older friend was seemingly paying more attention to his wrist watch than to the game.

“This game reminds me of our solar system!” Peter said after a few more minutes, “The cue ball represents the sun, the other balls are planets, and…”

“Don’t you ever stop thinking, Einstein?” Skip interrupted with a somewhat forced smile. He put his billiard cue down on the table, even though they were still in the middle of a game, and sighed. “I’ve got some things to show you that are guaranteed to take your mind off science! Let’s stop playing, I’m getting bored.”

Curious, Peter also dropped his own cue onto the pool table and sat down on the living room sofa, waiting for Skip to return from his room. When the older boy came back with a magazine in his hand, Peter asked him if he should get his glasses, but Skip shook his head and came to stand behind him. “Nah… We’re not gonna read… Bet you’ve never seen pictures like those in your stuffy textbooks!” he said with a grin and hold out an open magazine in front of Peter, who cringed the second his sight fell on the picture. He might have expected many things, but not … this. The double page of the magazine showed a woman, who was naked. Not partly naked, like models in swimsuits or really short outfits sometimes shown on television and on advertisement billboards, but stark-naked.

The boy stared at the picture speechlessly, eyes fixed on the girl’s face since he didn’t really dare to look at her breasts or the slit between her legs. “Nice, isn’t it? The next one is even more interesting, though,” Skip said and turned the page over. Peter gulped and closed his eyes quickly, regretting not reacting even faster because what he had seen had sent a chill down his spine.

The boy could feel his friend sliding onto the couch right next to him. “What did I tell you… she’s quite hot, right?” he asked excitedly, but then seemed to get annoyed. “Hey, Einstein, open your eyes!”

Peter reluctantly obeyed and forced himself to look at the blonde woman in front of him, keeping silent. “Not your type of girl?“ Skip asked, clearly noticing his uneasiness, and laughed in a way that made Peter’s hair stand on end. “Right, I forgot, you’re into brown-haired sluts, right? Maybe you’ll like this one better then.”

He grabbed another magazine and Peter’s heart pounded in his chest when he spotted fragments of other repulsive photos showing even more naked women, while Skip was flipping through the pages. Eventually, the older boy showed him another double page and Peter clenched his fists. It wasn’t just a woman pictured on the page this time. Behind her was a man, who… Peter was starting to feel sick. The man was lying behind the woman and something that could only be his… really weird looking penis had been put into the girl’s spread vagina.

“Look at that lucky bastard fucking her,” Skip laughed with a weird, almost exciting, quiver in his voice and Peter wished he could vanish into thin air immediately. Why was his friend showing him these magazines? Even though he had yet to have sex education, he now knew that these pictures showed sexual intercourse between a man and a woman. Did teachers actually show horrifying pictures like these in class? Peter wasn’t even sure if the girl was supposed to be happy; in his opinion it kind of looked like she was in pain. He tensed visibly when Skip turned the page once again and the very sight of the new picture filled him with nausea. The woman was… she had a penis in her mouth. Despite Peter having heard the insult “cocksucker” before from older guys in school, he would have never thought that… why would the woman want to take it in her mouth?

Peter clenched trembling fists and turned his head in disgust. “Please, Skip… I don’t wanna see that.”

“Why not? Doesn’t it turn you on? Take another look, come on!” The older boy laughed, but it didn’t sound kind at all.

Peter didn’t know exactly what Skip was talking about, but what he did know was, that he would never look at those magazines ever again. Therefore, he shook his head and tried to hold back the tears welling in his eyes. He had thought Skip knew him… what gave him the idea that Peter would want to look at pornographic photos?

“Okay. Fine. Let’s do something else then,” Skip said defiantly and threw the magazines onto the coffee table. Peter sighed with relief, but suddenly, Skip’s right leg was pressing against his left thigh. “Come on, Einstein! Let’s conduct a little experiment of our own.” A shadow flashed over Skip’s eyes and he put his right arm tightly around Peter’s slender shoulders.

“W-what kind of e-experiment?” Peter asked and hardly noticed that his voice was shaking.

“Let’s see if we can touch each other like the people in that magazine!”

 

*** SKIP until the NEXT MARK if you don’t want to read about the explicit parts ***

 

Before Peter knew what was happening, Skip’s hand had slipped in between his thighs, moving upwards at a slow pace, his body leaning over slightly.

“W-what?” Peter stumbled in a high-pitched voice. “N-no, please Skip, don’t! I’ve got to go now!” He tried to get up but Skip’s arm around his shoulders secured him tightly in place.

“It’s only 4:45, you don’t have to go yet. We still have a lot of time to have some fun.” He grinned nastily and looked at the child like he had never before. It freaked him out.

“P-please S-Skip, I…I,” Peter stuttered, his whole body shaking with anxiety.

In one quick movement Skip leaned fully into him and before the Peter knew what hit him, he felt the older boy’s lips on his own. He yelped, but the sound was muffled by Skip’s mouth, and then there was something wet pressing against his lips. Peter shuttered with sheer horror when he realized it was Skip’s tongue demanding entrance into his mouth and he tried to push the stronger boy away from him with all his might. When Skip’s arm was lifted off his shoulder, Peter almost believed he had succeeded in a way, but suddenly there were fingers in his hair, giving it a slight yank. The boy gasped and Skip seized the opportunity to slip his tongue into Peter’s mouth.

Before even thinking about it for a second, Peter bit down instinctively and Skip cried out in pain. Startled by the scream and the taste of blood in his mouth, Peter let go, and a second later, the back of Skip’s hand connected with the left side of his face so hard it almost threw him off the sofa. The young boy screamed in pain and started to cry loudly.

“You little shit!” Skip yelled and grabbed Peter’s throat, furious with rage. The young man cursed when he noticed blood on Peter’s bottom lip; that wasn’t supposed to happen. The crying boy tugged on Skip’s fingers in a poor attempt to free himself, but it was to no avail. When he choked, desperately trying to breathe, Skip finally let go.

“P-please,“ Peter started again, but shrieked when he once again felt fingers yank at his hair, more violently this time.

“Now listen very closely, Einstein,” Skip hissed, only inches from the boy’s face, “I thought you were my friend?”

Peter gave a weak whimper, holding onto Skip’s hands to try and ease the pain on his scalp.

“ARE YOU?” Skip roared, when Peter didn’t answer immediately.

“Y-yes!” the boy wailed.

The young man smiled venomously. “Also, I thought that friends would have each other’s backs and be there for each other?”

“Y-yes” Peter sobbed again and at last, Skip let go of his hair. The older boy then slid back onto the sofa, looking pleased. “Then be a friend and do, what I’m telling you to do. Over the past few weeks we always did what you wanted, now is your time to repay me for it. Besides, you just made me bleed so you can fucking apologize for that, don’t you think?”

Peter slowly touched his bruised cheek, his whole body shaking from convulsive sobbing. He glanced at the door and then, slowly, to the boy sitting next to him, whom he didn’t recognize anymore. What the hell was happening? Everything had been wonderful and now, only ten minutes later, Peter wanted nothing more than to get out of here. Problem was, he couldn’t move his legs for some reason.

“Will you hurry up?” Skip interrupted his thoughts and even though he was still paralyzed by fear, Peter’s eyes once again darted to the front door. Unfortunately, it didn’t slip Skip’s attention and he grabbed the child’s arm threateningly. “You better not think about bolting, unless you want me to tell your uncle and your aunt that you’d been playing GTA for hours and that you’d begged me to show you to porn magazines.”

Peter shrank back in horror. It was Skip who had made him do both of these things, he never wanted any of it! However, a mean voice in his head reminded him that he did enjoy playing GTA at least a little bit. Skip grinned diabolically when Peter whimpered. “That’s what I thought. Now, I won’t repeat myself again, I told you to get a move on!“

He moved closer to the younger boy who tried to shrink back but couldn’t, since his thighs and butt were already pressing against the arm- and backrest.

“W-what sh-should I…” Peter stuttered and Skip snorted. “Touch me, you shithead!”

The young boy didn’t dare to ask where Skip wanted to be touched, but the older one had lost his patience anyway. He grabbed Peter’s hand and forced it onto his crotch. The boy whined and closed his eyes, not daring to look or move his hand. Impatiently, Skip took hold of his hand again and pressed it onto his crotch firmly. Underneath the denim, exactly where Skip’s penis had to be, Peter felt something hard.

“Move!” Skip spit, but Peter still didn’t understand what he wanted from him exactly. Suddenly, the young man put his own hand on Peter’s crotch and grabbed his penis through the denim. The boy yelped and tried to push the hand off him desperately, but once again he failed. “That’s how you do it!” hissed Skip and Peter blushed from embarrassment when the fingers wrapped around his penis as much as the denim allowed it, squeezing and moving. He had never been touched down there before, not even by himself, and he couldn’t believe this was happening. “P-please, I… I don’t w-want this!” He pleaded, new tears spilling down his cheeks.

Fortunately, Skip stopped, but apparently he had only done it to grab Peter’s hand again, moving it back onto his crotch. This time, he even opened his zipper and pulled his jeans down a few inches, revealing tight Nike boxers. When Peter glanced over, he almost started to panic. He was now sure, that the absurdly long and stiff-looking thing was indeed Skip’s penis.

“If you don’t start touching me immediately, our friendship will be over and I’ll tell everyone about the magazine you’ve drooled over before,” the young man threatened angrily.

“P-please, Skip…,” Peter whimpered but the older one just glared at him. Every inch of Peter’s body was shaking when he slowly touched Skip’s cock through the thin fabric and he quickly turned his head, not daring to look at what he was doing. After a few precautious squeezes he suddenly felt something wet and he pulled away, feeling terrified and confused. No matter how scared he was, he couldn’t take it anymore. He needed to leave, now! Peter tried to get up, but just like earlier Skip, was too fast, pressing his small body down forcefully.

“Now, now, where do you think you’re going?” Skip gave a false laugh and clutched Peter’s head firmly, holding it in place. “You can’t tease me like that and then leave, that’s not nice.”

Just like before, Peter had no idea what Skip was even talking about, but his mind went completely blank when the older boy went in for another, very sloppy kiss. More tears spilled from Peter’s eyes and gladly, Skip pulled back a little.

“Hey, stop crying, Einstein…you actually did very good just now. You’re a big boy, aren’t you? Big boys always do stuff like that with their friends, didn’t you know?”

Somehow, Peter had the feeling that the older boy was lying to him, and therefore, he shook his head. Skip most likely misread the gesture though because he smiled satisfied. “See, you can learn things from me too. I can teach you a lot, actually. Now be a good boy and take off your shirt.”

The boy shook his head again and Skip immediately dropped the nice act, grabbing Peter’s chin so tightly that he groaned with pain. The young man looked into Peter’s swollen, watery eyes provocatively. “Take off your shirt, or are you a little girl with tits?” He then moved his hand from side to side, forcing Peter’s head into a negative gesture. “See?” Skip grinned wickedly, “You’re not. Then you better be a good boy, or else I’ll come to your school and tell everyone you’re a sissy little cunt!”

Hearing this Peter sobbed even more violently. He couldn’t believe that the boy he had trusted and opened up to was so mean to him all of a sudden, hurting him worse than anyone else, not even his longtime bullies, had ever done. It was surreal, and the worst part was, that Peter had no idea what he had done wrong.

“Are you fucking deaf?” Skip yelled and eventually Peter complied, pulling his shirt off with shivering hands. The young man stared at Peter’s upper body hungrily and for a second, the boy thought he’d seen Skip’s cock twitch slightly in his tight boxers. “Now take off your jeans,” the older one ordered and started to strip too. Seconds later he already towered over Peter in only his underwear, glaring at the small boy who was too shocked to move another inch.

With an annoyed eye-roll, Skip gripped Peter’s ankles and pulled at his jeans forcefully. The jerk was so vehement, that Peter barely managed to hold onto the cushion to avert falling off the sofa and onto the ground. The tight jeans hardly budged, so Skip started to undue his buttons.

“P-please,” the boy begged again, but Skip still ignored him, finally yanking the jeans down with a few brutal hand movements, and if Peter hadn’t reacted so quickly, his boxer shorts would have been dragged down with them. “I should have known,” Skip laughed, looking down at the shivering boy fondly, “Of course you’d be wearing Star Wars boxers. You’re so goddamn cute… do you even know how long I’ve been waiting for this? Ever since I’ve seen you in that fucking library… Brushing your small fingers through your dainty curls while studying those god-awful books…So tempting, I couldn’t resist … For weeks I’ve been thinking about nothing else than what‘s about to happen. You don’t even know how perfect you are, do you?”

His lips curled, and suddenly Peter remembered their conversation from all those weeks ago when Skip had called him pretty. Back then it had just been confusing and a little awkward, but now it outright terrified him. He crouched on the sofa with his arms wrapped around his bent legs like a shield, sobbing pitifully and trying to block out Skip’s voice. Sadly, it didn’t work. Every word was ringing in his ears, cutting through him like a knife, and made his stomach turn over from fear. What was Skip up to? The older boy had come really close to him again and forced Peter’s bent legs apart as much as he needed to be able to squeeze his body in between. He leaned forward until his crotch was almost directly in front of Peter’s face.

“Now be a good boy and open your mouth, Einstein. Can you do that for me? Now! … I don’t want to hurt you.” It sounded so threatening that Peter eventually opened his mouth, which wasn’t exactly easy since he was sobbing so badly.

“That’s a good boy,” Skip whispered, sounding almost affectionate before looking at Peter more menacingly than ever. “If you bite me one more time, I’ll kill you.”

The boy wouldn’t have thought it possible to cry and shake even more violently than before, but the dry graveness and indifference in Skip’s voice and eyes made it possible. He closed his eyes and prepared for another kiss, but it didn’t come. Instead, the young man stirred slightly, and when Peter thought he heard the sound of fabric sliding over skin, he dared to take a glance.

What Peter then saw would haunt him in his nightmares for years to come. He was face to face with Skip’s penis, thick, big and pointed upwards in a weird angle, only inches from his mouth. It was so close that Peter could actually smell it and, remembering the horrifying photo in one of the magazines, he suddenly realized what Skip wanted from him. Panic engulfed him, his whole body convulsed in terror, and he knew, no matter what, he had to get out of here now. However, just like every other time, Skip was way too fast and strong for the young child.

“Oh no, you don’t!” he hissed and Peter screamed when he felt Skip’s cock poke him in the eye during their struggle. “Shut up!” Skip spit and fisted his left hand in the younger one’s hair again. He also grabbed him around his chin and throat with his other big hand, easily forcing Peter’s mouth open by pressing his thumb and index finger against his cheeks brutally. “Again, if I feel even a tiny weeny bit of teeth on my cock, I’ll fucking kill you and throw your body into the Hudson River,” Skip grunted and with one fast movement, he forced his penis into Peter’s open, drooling mouth.

As soon as Peter felt the head of Skip’s dick sliding in between his lips, he retched and it got even worse when a few drops of a bitter and salty liquid were smeared onto his tongue. His mouth didn’t seem big enough to take in the thickness of Skip’s penis and his jaw immediately started to ache from being stretched so widely. The boy desperately tried not to scratch the massive flesh with his teeth, but the young man was still pushing in even further. It was disgusting, it was embarrassing, but the worst part was, that Peter couldn’t breathe anymore. His nose was stuffy from the continuous crying and his mouth was filled with cock. The boy started to fight for air at the same moment that the head of Skip’s penis hit something in the back of his throat, making Peter choke so terribly that he knew he had to puke. Mercifully, Skip seemed to notice too, and pulled out only milliseconds before the young boy leaned over the arm rest and spewed on the carpeted floor.

“Fuck,” Skip cursed, eyeing the vomit wrathfully. How should he get this off the carpet without his mother noticing and asking stupid questions? That little bitch…

“You…!” he yelled and Peter desperately tried to swallow the gastric juice threatening to make him throw up a second time.

Skip was so furious with rage that he grabbed Peter’s hair and started to pull so violently that the boy was hoisted off the sofa. Peter shrieked and reached up, trying to loosen the hold, but Skip was too strong. Even when Peter tripped, Skip simply kept on dragged him into the kitchen with such force that the child could feel strands of hair being torn off his excruciatingly aching scalp, making him wail in pain. He thought his head would burst when Skip pulled him upwards, turned on the faucet in the kitchen sink and forced Peter’s mouth into the jet of water.

“I won’t let my cock be besmirched by a dirty little whore like you,” Skip muttered irritated but Peter hardly listened, feeling too grateful to be able to wash the taste of dick and vomit from his mouth. After only a few gulps, however, Skip snatched the boy away and, without losing the grip on his hair, manhandled him down on his knees.

“You get your shit together now or I’ll beat the living daylights out of you! Did I make myself clear?” Skip didn’t even wait for an answer and forced his cock back into Peter’s mouth. The young boy whined when his mouth was once again stretched excessively and couldn’t help gagging slightly, especially when Skip started to rock his hips back and forth. Trying to withhold the urge to throw up again, while attempting to find a way to breathe at the same time, was the hardest thing Peter had ever had to do, demanding all his concentration.

The child lost all track of time, and what seemed like forever, Skip started to moan loudly. “Oh, yes…yes…fuck!”

All of a sudden, the boy felt something spill deep inside his abused throat. Bewildered, he thought that Skip had pissed into his mouth for a moment, before he noticed that the liquid seemed stickier and rather slimy. It tasted weird, disgusting even, and once again he retched, barely managing to hold back vomit. At the sound Skip immediately pulled out and Peter took his chance to spit out what he hadn’t already swallowed by reflex.

Skip was breathing rapidly and leaned back against the kitchen counter, eyes closed. He was angry with himself; he hadn’t wanted to cum so fast, but it had felt too amazing. Never before had his cock been touched by anything other than his own hand and therefore, Skip was proud enough that he had been able to withhold his orgasm for at least a little while. When the waves of pleasure had ebbed away, Skip looked down at the child in front of him.

Peter was still kneeling on the ground with his head bowed, looking miserable. His sobs were less intense now and Skip sensed that the boy was tired and feeble. ‘Even better,’ the young man thought, but a glance at his watch told him there wouldn’t be enough time for a full-length round two. The last thing he needed was Ben and May asking stupid questions and getting on his nerves, just because Peter had gotten home late. He hadn’t made up his mind about what they would still have time for, when he caught sight of the small puddle of cum and spit on the kitchen tiles. In porn movies, the performers were always eager to swallow or lick up the men’s juices, but that little son of a bitch had spit it out like it was…something nasty? He needed to teach him a lesson.

The young man tucked his dick back inside his pants and kneeled down on the floor in front of the boy. He put one of his hands on Peter’s shoulders, who immediately flinched at the touch. With satisfaction, Skip noticed there were still a few drops of cum on Peter’s lips and chin after all, and couldn’t wait to enjoy a few more moments of fun before he had to let him go.

“That wasn’t so hard, was it, Einstein? However… you’ve made quite a mess. Should my poor mother be forced to clean up your dirt?” He pointed at the small puddle of cum on the floor and Peter’s body was outright shaking violently again, which intensified even more when Skip dipped his finger into the release and carefully moved it towards Peter’s mouth.

Peter sobbed with despair when Skip offered him drops of the white slimy substance, looking at him invitingly. He knew what the older boy wanted, but he felt horribly sick already and didn’t want to taste any more of the disgusting slime that had come out of Skip’s penis, so he didn’t open his mouth and avoided looking at the finger in front of this mouth. His evident rejection didn’t please Skip at all. With a grunt, the young man forced his finger into Peter’s mouth and smeared the bitter substance onto his tongue. Peter almost choked, but somehow managed to hold it together and eventually fake-swallowed. Although, when Skip repeated the action, Peter couldn’t keep up the act anymore and, out of panic, fear and disgust, retched once more, almost as vastly as before.

”Fuck!” Skip cursed, pulled the boy up and manhandled him back towards the sink just in time before Peter threw up. The young man was livid.

“You fucking cunt,” he hissed when Peter was barely done coughing and pushed him back to the floor harshly, towering over him, “next time you better swallow every last drop!” Peter started to breathe so heavily he almost hyperventilated. “What’s that, why are you looking at me like that? Unless…say, are you disgusted by me, Einstein? Maybe, after all, you don’t like me as much as you claim to? You’re despicable!” Skip spit. Peter was trembling violently and neither dared to answer, nor look into Skip’s eyes, who shook his fist threateningly. “I asked you a fucking question!”

“I-I’m…s-s-sorry,” Peter stuttered and had to swallow a few times before speaking further. “P-please, l-let-”

“You have to behave better next time, or you’ll be in big trouble, Einstein, you got me?”

Just like before, the boy’s eyes widened and he let out a few pathetic whimpers, clearly being scared shitless of their ‘next’ encounter already instead of looking forward to it. In lieu of beating him up for that right there and then, Skip took a few deep breaths, trying to calm down. Granted, he had only been thinking about his own pleasure so far, not caring whether or not Peter had fun too, but … He had made a fool of himself for weeks for the little shit, playing with his stupid toys, eating lousy meals with his dull guardians… He had waited so long for this and couldn’t have cared less about how it made Peter feel. If Skip was honest, he still didn’t really care, but he needed the boy to visit him more in the future and while scaring and threatening him would surely do the deed, he also wanted him to look forward to it. Furthermore, Skip wanted to touch him anyways, at least shortly… getting a foretaste of what was to come soon…

“Hey, calm down a little bit, will ya?” Skip said after a while in a somewhat soothing voice. He reached out to pet Peter’s hair, but the boy flinched, turned around and tried to struggle to his feet. Before he had gotten up though, Skip managed to grab onto his shoulder and pressed him down onto the kitchen tiles on his back once again. “Not so fast… I’ll make you feel good, okay?” he whispered into Peter’s ear and yanked the boy’s boxers down to his knees in a second. Peter cried and tried to hide his bareness, panic-stricken, but Skip grabbed both of his tiny wrists with his left hand and moved them over Peter’s hand where he pressed them down. The boy struggled frantically, but Skip held his hands firmly in place. The young one then tried to kick his legs, but Skip straddled him, rendering him almost immobile. The sounds coming out of Peter’s mouth were a mixture of sobs and screams; it was so loud, that Skip was afraid the neighbors might be able to hear him, and so he quickly put his free right hand over Peter’s mouth to muffle the sounds.

“Hush, be quiet,” Skip hissed with clenched teeth, though it only caused Peter to make even louder noises. At the same time, the boy tried to bite the fingers covering his mouth, forcing Skip to change his grip so his hand would also cover Peter’s nostrils. The boy realized in less than a second that he couldn’t breathe anymore, and started to thrash around so violently, that Skip had some difficulties taming him. After a few moments of frantic struggle, Skip had him pinned down completely, and snapped at him angrily. “Wanna breathe?”

Since Peter couldn’t talk, he stared at him with pleading, teary eyes and desperately tried to nod his head even though he could hardly move. “Then be quiet now,” Skip spit and, after glaring at the boy threateningly one last time, slowly loosened his grip on Peter’s mouth and nose. The child eagerly took a few deep and breaths and, to Skip’s delight, actually kept quiet. At least until another impatient glance at his wristwatch caught Peter’s attention.

“P-please, l-let me g-go, please,” the boy begged in a miserable, high-pitched voice, but Skip didn’t listen. “Don’t worry, you’ll love it, Einstein”, he whispered and without warning grabbed Peter’s penis with his right hand. The younger was scared stiff for a moment before closing his eyes, whimpering, while Skip was groping him, moving his hand up and down his small soft dick. No, Peter didn’t love it… it was weird, disgusting, and he wanted Skip to stop, but he didn’t dare to protest or plead again. Instead, he clenched his fists which were still pinned down painfully over his head, and silently prayed that it would all be over soon.

Skip huffed when the small cock in his hand didn’t really harden, not even after a few minutes of strokes and squeezes, whereas his own fresh erection pressed uncomfortably against his tight boxers once again. When he was Peter’s age, he was already jerking off every now and then and, when he was thirteen, ejaculated for the first time. Feeling both annoyed and exited, the young man stopped his pointless hand-job to move his hand further down, brushing against Peter’s small balls. Skip spread the boy’s legs apart as much as possible while still straddling him, before ultimately fumbling for his tight opening. Just when Peter tried to wrap his head around what Skip was doing, the young man firmly pressed his index finger against the closing muscle, and the child let out a terrified shriek. He screamed and yanked his wrists so suddenly and fiercely, that he actually managed to break them free for a second before Skip recovered from the shock of Peter’s outburst, restraining him once again.

“I told you to SHUT THE FUCK UP!” he screamed before giving Peter a second brutal blow to his left cheek and covered his mouth just like before. “One more word and I’ll fucking kill you, I swear to Thor, alright?” The boy’s cries were so severe and abrupt that they bore a resemblance to hiccups, but then, when Peter struggled to breathe, they became more silent, and finally, Skip dared to take his hand off the boy’s mouth.

After wetting his index finger with his tongue, Skip carefully massaged Peter’s opening muscle for a while before trying to press in a second time. After a few moments, his finger slipped past the clenched muscle into the tight, hot hole and when he managed to push it even further in, his cock twitched painfully in his boxers. Excitedly, Skip tried to add his middle and ring fingers at the same time, but as soon as he did, Peter couldn’t hold back anymore.

When Skip had forced his first finger in his butthole, he had tried to silence himself by biting down on his bottom lip so severely he had drawn blood, but now the pain and fear was too much, forcing an agonizing cry out of his mouth. Peter didn’t understand why Skip was doing something like that, he didn’t know what he had done to deserve all this, but he just couldn’t take it anymore. Never in his life had he ever been so ashamed, confused or scared, and his overstretched hole was on fire, hurting worse than anything Peter had experienced so far. Since Thor didn’t seem to hear his prayers, he had started to think of his parents, begging them to help him and make it stop.

Above him, Skip groaned grumpily and Peter saw him glancing at the watch again, before he finally felt the finger(s) leaving his painfully burning ass.

Hearing Peter’s recurring screams had enraged Skip, but he had to admit that the child seemed to be in actual pain now. Even though he had a lube somewhere in his bedroom, the clock revealed that it was too late already… he couldn’t risk stupid questions from Peter’s guardians and would have to postpone it to their next meeting. The problem was, that Skip was so hard at this point that it hurt, and he needed to get release. Without hesitating, he withdrew his fingers from Peter’s hole, pulled down his boxers, spit in his hand and started to jerk off. The spit and the leaked precum provided enough wetness; therefore, it wouldn’t take too long, especially when he could look at the trembling, beautiful boy beneath him.

Peter had stopped wailing when the finger(s) had pulled out of him, and had closed his eyes instead. He was too tired and too weak to scream, fight or even sob anymore, so he just laid there defeated, shivering and crying silently, waiting for Skip’s next assault. His butthole was still burning incredibly painfully, and his wrists, which were still entrapped in Skip’s right hand, were aching and numb at the same time, just like his legs.

When Skip moaned loudly, Peter semi-opened his eyes and looked at him wearily. The older boy had pulled down his boxers again and his free hand moved up and down his dick quickly. It had to make him feel good, because after a while, Skip moaned even louder before then his whole body shook, his penis leaking white substance once more. The boy whimpered when thick, creamy streaks and drops squirted onto his stomach and chest, but whatever Skip had been doing, it seemed to have weakened him as well, since he abruptly loosened his tight grip on the boy’s wrists and collapsed on Peter, panting. The child wanted nothing more than to pull up his boxers, but Skip’s heavy body nearly crushed him, his head buried somewhere beneath the taller man’s shoulder. Skip’s sticky, wet cock didn’t just touch his thighs, but also grazed against his own penis, and the child closed his eyes again disgustedly, shivering and crying more heavily than before. How many tears could a human body produce before it drained? Peter didn’t know.

After a little more than a minute, Skip slowly raised and eyed his plaything greedily. Peter’s breathing was ragged and uneven, his face was covered in tears, blood and snot, his stomach and chest were besmirched with sweat, bruises and cum. The very sight of the trembling, used, delicate body caused Skip’s cock to twitch excitedly again, and he wanted nothing more than to snap a picture to remember every single detail for all eternity, but he knew that that would be a very stupid thing to do. It could get him into a lot of trouble, and Skip wasn’t up for that. Speaking of getting in trouble… he had to come up with something to cover up Peter’s bruises.

Skip sighed and patted Peter’s cheek before tugging his dick back inside his pants with a smug grin. Afterwards, he got up, went over to the sink, wetted a towel and kneeled down. At first, Peter just stared ahead blankly, but when Skip wiped the slimy liquid off his stomach and chest with the cold, wet towel, he gave a jerk. The rug moved over his thighs, between his legs, and eventually brushed against his bottom crack, making Peter choke in fear. However, Skip thankfully didn’t touch him again; instead, he yanked up Peter’s boxers a few inches.

 

*** This marks the END of the explicit content ***

 

“Get dressed,” Skip said and pointed at the piece of clothing, “It’s gotten late.”

The child didn’t move, earning him an annoyed eye-roll from the older boy, chuckling sarcastically. “Come on, move… or do you want to stay the night?”

It took Peter a few moments to process what Skip had said, and with a snivel, he forced himself to move by grabbing onto the rim of his boxers with trembling hands, lifting his stinging butt a few inches and pulling the pants up carefully.

“Here’re your clothes.” Skip, who had apparently gone over to the sofa earlier, dropped his shirt and jeans into his lap. Peter tried to put on his shirt first, which wasn’t exactly easy considering every inch of his body was shaking violently. Standing up was an even bigger challenge, not to mention stuffing his wobbly legs and hurting ass into the tight jeans. Meanwhile, Skip had not only dressed fully, but also wiped away the blotch from the kitchen tiles and, at least meagerly, the vomit from the living room carpet.

When Peter had finally finished getting dressed, Skip glared at the shivering child and beckoned him over impatiently. “Get a move on!”

However, the boy didn’t move, so Skip snatched his arm, feeling irritated, and dragged him over to the front door. With every step, the light burning pain in Peter’s backside worsened slightly.

“Put on your jacket,” Skip urged and thrust Peter’s phone, which he had gotten from the coffee table, into the younger one’s hands. Peter swallowed and, praying that Skip would actually let him go now, put on his boots and jacket as fast as possible, sliding the phone into his pocket.

“I’ll accompany you for a few yards,” Skip explained when he put on street clothes as well, before grabbing Peter’s arm again to manhandle him into the corridor. Since the boy’s legs were shaking badly, Skip chose to use the elevator.

As soon as they were outside, Skip let Peter go, who immediately staggered up to his locked bike. He tried to open the combination lock, but his fingers were trembling so terribly, they prevented him from doing it promptly. Skip snorted, shoved Peter away, and ordered him to tell him the code.

“T-ten…z-zero, e-eight.”

As soon as the lock opened with a ‘click’, Peter wanted to mount the bike and get the hell away from Skip, but the young man withheld him from doing so.

“Let’s walk a few blocks,” he said, clutched the boy’s arm tightly, and led him down the street, wheeling the bike along with his free right hand. It was already pitch-dark outside and due to the time of day - too late for workers to get home only now and yet too early for night crawlers to rush to bars and parties – there were only a few other pedestrians and cars on the streets. Peter kept his eyes on the ground, not daring to look at anyone or anything, trying desperately not to think about what had happened during the last hour.

After three blocks, Skip turned into a barely lit alley, and when Peter hesitated, the young man tugged at his arm impatiently. The boy stumbled when he was dragged into the alley, and, after a few yards, he was smashed against a cold brick wall. Skip propped the bike against the opposite wall before he faced Peter and grabbed his neck.

“That was a lovely evening today, Einstein, don’t you think?” Skip hummed, ignoring the whiny sounds Peter made. “It wasn’t bad for a first time, but I’ll expect more discipline in the future, you got me?” When Peter didn’t answer, he yelled, “YOU GOT ME?”

Intimidated, the boy swiftly nodded his head, earning himself another pat on the cheek. “That’s a good boy… you’re an amazing friend, Einstein, thus I hope you know that this will have to stay between us. I mean, you don’t hear your aunt and uncle talking about their experiments with each other either, do you?” At the mention of May and Ben, silent tears spilled out of Peter’s eyes, but Skip kept going. “Trust me, whenever they lock their bedroom door, that’s what they do… parents, couples, friends… they all experiment with each other, but nobody talks about it. Also, Ben and May would be very disappointed in you if they heard how stupidly you’d behaved every so often.” The young man grinned smugly. “You don’t want that, do you?”

Excruciated, Peter shook his head and closed his eyes, wishing he could somehow close his ears too and block out Skip’s voice.

“Exactly…and don’t forget, Einstein, apart from me, they are the only ones you have, no-one else cares about you. In fact, last time I visited… remember when you went on the toilet? They told me how hard and costly it was to raise a boy that’s not even their own… They might act like they love you unconditionally, but in reality, you are a nuisance to them, having ruined their life plans when they were forced to take you in… They don’t even know you as well as I do, I mean… only I know what kind of magazines you looked at today and how much you loved getting touched by me…”

The grip on Peter’s neck loosened and the boy immediately buried his face in his hands, sobbing brokenly. “Practically, I’m everything you have left at this point,” was Skip’s closing statement and forced the child’s hands apart to get a better look at him. The red bruises on Peter’s face had darkened so much they could be spotted even in the grim alley, not to mention the bloody lip.

“Listen, it’s late already, so… I want you to tell your aunt and uncle that you had a bike accident, alright? I’m sure you can think of a witty story and be convincing.” Skip seemed to ponder for a moment, before the corners of his mouth turned upwards. “Try not to get them to take you to the hospital or a doctor though… you’re not really hurt anyways, and it would cost so much money… You don’t want them to have to sell the house, do you?”

Peter sniveled and shook his head vigorously.

“You’re a good boy, Einstein… and my best friend.” Skip couldn’t hold back, he just had to bend down and kiss the child one more time. First, he licked over the dried blood on Peter’s bottom lip, before let his tongue roam the tiny mouth. New sobs made Peter’s body jerk, but he was too frightened and weak to fight back anymore. Fortunately, Skip didn’t want to risk being seen by a noisy pedestrian anyways, so he broke the kiss shortly thereafter.

When the young man took a step backwards, Peter hardly dared to heave a sigh of relief. Would he finally leave him alone now? Please?

When Skip grabbed the bike, Peter reached out hopefully, but the young man only grinned venomously when he lifted it up. Peter stared, thunderstruck, as Skip threw the bike to the ground, and when the man started kicking it with brute strength, the boy winced. Uncle Ben and Aunt May had gifted the bike to him for his birthday only four months ago, but when Skip was done with it, Peter knew he wouldn’t be able to ride even one more yard with it.

“Why’re you crying? You had an accident, remember? I don’t want you to have to do a lot of persuading, in fact, you should thank me, don’t you think?” Skip laughed nastily, picked the broken bike up and thrust it into Peter’s hands. “The road is too slippery to be riding a bike anyways… If you behave and do what I tell you to, I’m gonna buy you a new one soon, okay?” The young man glanced at his watch. “You better get going now, it’s 5:45 already and I guess it’s quite a long walk, isn’t it? See you later, Einstein! Oh, and… remember what I told you!” He ruffled Peter’s hair, who was still staring into nothingness, paralyzed, before leaving the dark alley, whistling gleefully.

 

Chapter Text

Day 36

For a few minutes, Peter was just standing there, unmoving. Fresh tears were gathering in his eyes and eventually, the boy dropped down onto the ground, sobbing loudly, holding onto his destroyed bike for support. The pavement was cold and wet, but he couldn’t bring himself to move. He’d rather sit here forever and die, just so he wouldn’t have to think or feel anything anymore. What had he done wrong? He had just wanted to have a friend, someone who liked him for who he was and didn’t hate or hurt him for once… had that been too much to ask? Skip had always acted so caring towards him, how could he have changed so drastically over the course of a few days? But had he, really? Skip’s words were still ringing in his ears, mocking him in an endless loop of torment.

“You’re so goddamn cute” – “Do you even know how long I’ve been waiting for this?” – “Ever since I’ve seen you in that fucking library” – “So tempting, I couldn’t resist” - “For weeks I’ve been thinking about nothing else than what‘s about to happen.”

Peter wasn’t stupid. He might not be able to understand a lot of things that had went down today, but there was one thing he was quite certain of: Skip had planned to do all these horrible things from the beginning and – the boy sobbed brokenly – probably never really wanted to be his friend. Unless Skip had been telling the truth and all good friends experimented with each other like that? If that was the case, had Peter acted like an unthankful brat today?

He didn’t know how long he had already been crouching on the floor when his buzzing phone made him jump, jolting him out of his state of shock and making him painfully aware of the ruthless icy temperatures turning his checked breaths into cold smoke. His body was shivering worse than ever, both from cold and fear, and it took him a while to fetch his phone out of the tight pocket. When he saw that the caller was Aunt May, Peter desperately tried to swallow down a new stream of tears.

He pressed the green button, his teeth chattering. “H-hello?”

“Why aren’t you home yet?” May sounded reproachful. “It’s already 6:15, we have ringed the landline two times already. We had an agreement, Pete!”

The boy didn’t know what to say, so he kept silent, breathing heavily. It had to be loud, because May asked him if he was alright.

An then, Peter was not able to keep himself together anymore. “M-may,” he sobbed brokenly, not knowing what he could possibly tell her. He heard May drew a sharp breath and when she spoke, she sounded fearful. “Baby, what’s going on? Are you okay, where… where are you?”

“I’m… I’m…,” Peter stuttered, remembering Skip’s threat, “I had an accident… my… my bike is broken.”

“Good heavens, are you hurt? Can you walk? Isn’t there anybody you can ask for help?” May’s voice was shrill and he could hear her whispering something to Uncle Ben.

“I don’t know, w-wait”, Peter cried, forced himself to get up and stumbled back to the street, dragging the useless bike along with him. Gladly, he spotted a street sign a few yards away. “C-corona Avenue and Broadway…At W-walgreens.”

“Are you hurt?”, his aunt asked again and Peter lied. “N-no. B-but my bike…” He couldn’t speak on and sobbed instead. They would be so mad at him… it had cost a fortune, at least by their standards.

“Listen, honey… get inside Walgreens and wait for us, we’re leaving right now. We’ll get you, okay?”

“N-no,” Peter said hastily, because he didn’t know how he would possibly be able to face them… not after what had happened with Skip and what he had told him about being a nuisance to Ben and May.

“Of course, what do you think… we won’t let you walk home in this weather for an hour. We’ll be here in fifteen to twenty minutes, please wait inside.”

She hung up and Peter put the phone back in his pocket, leaning the broken bike against the shop’s wall before entering. Even though it was a lot warmer than outside, he was still shivering after a few minutes.

“Can I help you?” one of the sales assistants asked him after a while, eyeing him warily. Peter looked bashfully at the ground and hoped that the young man wouldn’t stare at him like that. Although, he had to appear fishy, loitering between the aisles like that without buying anything, but the sheer thought of food almost made him throw up.

“Is everything alright?” the man asked, his gaze fixed on Peter’s cheek worryingly, and he stepped forward, but the boy shrank back, nodding his head fearfully. “Y-yes, I…I’m waiting for… m-my uncle and my a-aunt.”

The sales assistant raised his eyebrows suspiciously and snorted. “Are you sure, son? Did they… did they beat or your something?”

Peter tugged at the collar of his jacket, trying to hide his face as much as possible. Did he have a bruise on his face? The part where Skip had hit and grabbed him had been aching for a while, especially his left cheek.

“N-no,” Peter lied anxiously but his actions only seemed to confirm the young man’s suspicions. “Maybe I should call the police,” he threatened and the boy whined. “N-no, please… I, I fell off m-my bike, it was an accident.”

The man didn’t seem to believe him, but didn’t press Peter on.

“Fine, you can wait here for your family, but you better not steal anything or you’ll be in big trouble, alright? You can take a look into our magazines” Peter nodded and, after hesitating for a few moments, did go over to the magazine rack. His eyes examined the different cover pages and eventually, he unenthusiastically grasped the new ScienceWeekly. Normally, he binge-read that magazine whenever he managed to get his fingers on it, but today, he couldn’t concentrate, staring at one short paragraph for over a minute without understanding anything about it. Instead, he kept hearing Skip’s voice, mocking and insulting him.

“Pete?”

The boy gave a start when, all of a sudden, he heard May’s voice behind him and he quickly stuffed the magazine back into the stack before turning around with a bowed head. “Oh baby, what did you do?” she asked tenderly and wanted to wrap his arms around him, but she had barely touched him when Peter was already wrenching himself from her soft grip.

Alarmed, May eyed her nephew up more closely, and when she saw his face, she threw her hands up in horror. His lip was bloody and the edge of Peter’s left eye was red and swollen, just like his cheek. What worried her the most, though, were round, weird-looking bruises on his jawbone, shaped vaguely like fingerprints.

“What… what happened?” May gasped, appalled, and when a single drop escaped Peter’s tear-filled eyes she could feel her own eyes getting wet too. Her nephew wasn’t looking at her; instead his head and gaze were lowered.

“I fell of my bike.” His voice was raspy from crying so much. “I a-already told y-you.”

Just when May wanted to respond, the sales assistant appeared next to her out of thin air, eyeing her warily. “Looks more like a blow to me,” he alluded subtly and May looked back and forth between the young lad and her nephew. What was the man insinuating? Sadly, he did have a point.

May kneeled down in front of Peter. “Are you… are you sure you fell?” Even though she was right in front of him, the boy turned slightly to the left to avoid having to look at her. When he didn’t respond, she tried again, even more attentively as before. “You can tell me anything, sweetheart.”

Once again, Peter shook his head. “I fell,” he insisted and May sighed. Maybe he didn’t want to talk in front of the sales assistant but… he had been with Skip, what could have possibly happened, other than getting into an accident? Unless…maybe he had encountered some of his schoolmates? May’s memory of the beating he had once received was still fresh; Ben had been so furious that he had screamed at the headmaster for an hour the next day. There was also the possibility that Peter could have been mugged, but she didn’t dare to even think about that or she’d be panicking.

“Okay, fine, we can talk when we’re home…let’s go, Ben is waiting in the car,” she said and gave the sales assistant a careful look. “Thanks for keeping an eye on him… I apologize for any inconveniences.”

The young man only shrugged his shoulders, obviously glad that the boy it wasn’t his responsibility anymore.

When May and Peter exited the shop, her gaze fell upon the bike propped against the wall. “Is that…?” she asked, aghast at the sight of the twisted handlebar, the broken lights, the dangling bike chain and the bent front wheel. Peter, who had scuffed along behind her with sagging shoulders, slowly nodded. “Yes,” he croaked and didn’t miss the groan coming from his aunt’s throat. The woman even felt a little angry for a second; the bike hadn’t exactly been cheap, why couldn’t Peter be more attentive every now and then? He had always had a habit of being clumsy but… what if he really had been attacked and it hadn’t been his fault? The bike really was the least of their problems at the moment… She snatched the bike and carried it over the car, which was parked in the “no standing area”, hazard lights flashing.

Peter followed her closely, thus being able to hear Ben moaning in annoyance when he got out of the car to open the trunk door and caught sight of the destroyed bike. “How did this happen?” he snapped at his nephew, who winced immediately, almost expecting a blow at this point even though he had never been hit by Ben or May ever before.

“I-I’m s-sorry,” he whispered and only then Ben noticed the bruised on his face. He exchanged a hasty glance with May, who shook her head indistinguishably, before hoisting the bike into the barely big enough trunk.

Afterwards, the three Parkers got inside the car and drove home silently. Peter was gazing out the window blankly and every now and then May glanced at him in the rearview mirror, noticing more tears running down his cheeks. She could sense that something was deeply wrong, but she didn’t want to hassle the boy.

As soon as the car came to a stop in the driveway, Peter got out and ran up to the front door. He had vanished inside before Ben and May had even retrieved the bike from the trunk. “What…?” Ben asked, baffled, while May shrugged her shoulders and pointed at the bike. „Can you fix it?“

Ben dragged the bicycle over to the nearest street lamp to get a better look. “No idea,” he mumbled and snorted. “What the fuck did he do with it? Doesn’t look like an ordinary accident to me.”

May told him about her concerns and immediately, Ben was seething with anger. “You… you think someone mugged him?”

“I don’t know,” his wife said, distraught, “but he doesn’t really like he did last time… I mean, it’s not the first time he was in a bike accident, but… I don’t know, we have to talk to him. Maybe it’s more likely that he encountered some of his schoolmates who have already… you know.”

“Beaten him up before, you mean?” Ben snorted, his eyes glowing dangerously. May just shrugged her shoulders and together, they went inside. They arched their eyebrows when they heard showering noises coming from upstairs. “Peter?” May shouted loudly, but there was no response, so the grown-ups went into the living room to wait until their nephew was finished.

Peter didn’t know how long he had been showering already, rinsing his mouth and scrubbing his skin with body wash over and over again, hoping to wash as much ‘Skip’ off him as possible. However, even though his skin was already red and stinging, he was still feeling dirty, and after a few more scrubs he gave up, plummeting to the shower tub in tears. He bent his legs, hugged them with his arms, and let his head rest on his knees, praying to his parents and Thor to let him vaporize in the hot shower steam. He sat there, until a loud knock on the door startled him.

“Peter?” May’s shrill voice rang through the door, “Everything okay?”

The boy tediously struggled to his feed in the slippery shower tub and turned off the faucet. “Yes!” he yelled as loudly as possible but it still bore more resemblance to a pathetic raw croak. Only now the boy realized how very hot he was, however, his body was still shaking when he stepped out of the tub and started to forcefully dry himself with a towel.

“Can I come in? You’ve been in there for thirty minutes,” May said, and Peter froze. “N-no, I… I’m not d-dressed yet,” he answered in a high-pitched voice. “Alright but… please come downstairs then, will you?”

“Mhm,” Peter squeezed out through chattering teeth, before daring to look into the mirror for the first time since he had brushed his teeth in the morning. He wheezed when he saw the bruises on his face, jaw and neck. Touching them made him flinch in pain, and with a shudder, he remembered Skip slapping, hitting and choking him. After a few seconds of staring at his miserable reflection, the image suddenly changed, resembling the photo from the magazine where the man had put his penis into the woman’s mouth. Though, instead of the girl’s face, he saw his own. 

Peter’s knees gave away and he fell down onto the floor, face buried in his hands once more. What should he do about all this? His gut instinct told him that Skip had done him wrong, that it had been cruel, maybe even tabooed, and that he should tell Uncle Ben and Aunt May about it. Though, a wicked voice inside his head pointed out that he hadn’t really done anything to stop Skip, he hadn’t even tried to fight him at first, had he? Had it been his own fault? Likewise, there was still a part of him that considered it possible that Skip had told him the truth about friends doing corporal experiments with each other; otherwise there wouldn’t be pictures of similar things in magazines, right?

In one way or another, Peter was ferociously ashamed of what had happened and even though his whole body hurt from scrubbing his skin in the hot water for so long, he could still feel, taste and even smell Skip on him.

Just in time, he managed to crawl over to the toilet before he retched for the fourth (or fifth?) time that evening, his body unable to cough up anything else than gastric juice at this point.

After he had finished, he looked down onto the tiles. When he had run up into the bathroom earlier, he had thrown his clothes to the floor carelessly, merely focused on getting into the cleansing hot water, but now he noticed two small, reddish-turning-into-brown-colored stains on his boxers. There were barely visible considering the imprinted Star Wars themed pattern, and for a moment Peter bewilderedly thought he might have pooped his pants a little bit, before realizing that it was drying blood. It made sense, given his hole was still burning painfully. However, the boy would have never thought it possible that Skip had actually made him bleed down there by thrusting his fingers inside his…

Another sob was ripped from his lips and he quickly grabbed the boxers, hurried over to the sink and tried to wash the stains away with a lot of hot water and soap. After a while they became brighter but didn’t fade away completely, and Peter had to give up. If May didn’t take a close look, she wouldn’t notice it due to the pattern, and so the boy stuffed the pants deep down into the dirty clothes basket, dropping his jeans and shirt on top of the rest of the pile. He’d rather throw it all away, but there was no way his aunt wouldn’t notice eventually.

Peter then grabbed the towel, wrapped it around his body, and stumbled inside his room, changed into his pajamas, and let himself drop onto the mattress, pulling the blankets up until his chin.

At 7:20 pm Ben glanced at the living room clock impatiently. “Where on earth is he?” he asked May, who frowned. “I’ll look after him again,” the woman said and went upstairs. Since the bathroom was empty, she entered Peter’s room after a short knock. “I told you-”

She broke off mid-sentence when she noticed all lights had been put out. “Pete?”

A squeak came from the bed and when she made out her nephew’s silhouettes under the thick blanket, May felt more confused and worried than ever. It was so early and Peter hadn’t even eaten yet, so she walked in and sat down on the edge of the bed. “Aren’t you feeling well, baby?”

Peter’s voice was badly muffled when he replied something that sounded vaguely like ‘I’m fine’, though he instantly contradicted his own statement by moving further away from May and pulling the blanket up even further until she could barely make out the wet, curly back of his head.

“Are you SURE you aren’t hurt?” May inquired, worrying he might in fact have injuries somewhere on his body they hadn’t seen or noticed due to his jacket and clothes.

“I’m just tired,” Peter mumbled, sounding so exhausted that May thought he might fall asleep any second. The shivering, the hot shower, the thick blanket, the tiredness… it let May jump to the easy conclusion that Peter might have a fever.

“How long have you been outside before I called?”

“Dunno,” was the weak response, “please just let me sleep.”

“Maybe it’ll be better if we got you to the hospital,” May said with a long sigh, “We want to make sure you’re not hurt or-“

“No!”, the boy interrupted her somewhat panicky, “please, I just… I just want to sleep, please.”

May knew that their baby boy hated hospitals and doctors so she could understand his displeasure of the thought of having to go there, especially at this time of day.

 “I’ll talk to your uncle about it, okay? I’ll also bring you a cup of tea, you should at least drink that.”

The woman went back downstairs to discuss the situation with her husband. They both felt awful, but after Ben had lost his job, they had had to reduce their health insurance drastically. In truth, neither of them wanted to go to the hospital for a simple cold, so they decided to measure Pete’s temperature first to see if it was bad. Thankfully, it wasn’t, for now the boy only had a light fever at about 100 degrees. When May took the thermometer back from Peter’s hand, she noticed a bruise on his wrist. The woman grabbed his hand, and when he flinched, she ascribed it to pain.

“Does that hurt?” she asked, moving his wrist back and forth before circling it.

“A… a little”, Peter hissed with clenched teeth, “I uh… it happened when I tried to break my fall.” He jerked his hand away roughly.

“Hm…I hope you didn’t sprain it… we gotta keep an eye on it.”  She wished him goodnight and reminded him to drink his tea and call them if he needed anything.

On her way downstairs, she made a small detour into the bathroom.

“Pete has a slight fever but for now, it’s nothing too bad,” May told Ben when she was back in the living room. His wrist might be sprained lightly and it’s a little bruised, I don’t know… He says it’s from him trying to break the fall, but there are no road burns… I also checked his jeans, it’s neither ripped, nor bloody. Did you check his jacket?”

Ben nodded. “Yeah, nothing. Not even dirt. Guess he didn’t really fall, unless he only fell on his face, which I hardly doubt.”

“Yeah, me too. It’s just… something is off, he left his phone in the back pocket of his jeans, which he had stuffed into the dirty laundry basket.”

“His specs case and wallet were in the inside pockets of his jacket, so at least that rules out him getting mugged.”

“So… you think someone actually beat him up and destroyed his bike?”

“I’m not sure… he doesn’t look as bad as that one time he came back from school, but it’s still possible. I swear, if I ever get my hands on those lousy jackasses…” Ben drew a dangerous-looking gesture into the air and May scolded him, even though she was as furious as he was about anyone hurting their baby boy.

 

Day 37

Peter’s night had been awful, torturing him with numerous nightmares, leading to him waking up with a start more than once, drenched in sweat. It had taken him a few minutes each time to calm down and remember that he was in his bed and – at least for now - safe from Skip. However, not only was he still feeling Skip’s fingers on his skin everywhere, his voice was also still inside his head, taunting him endlessly.

Uncle Ben paid him a visit later in the morning, balancing a tray with toast and fresh tea. Since Peter was facing him, the man could clearly see the bruises on his face.

“How are you feeling?” he asked his nephew and reached out to put his hand on Peter’s forehead, but the boy flinched, shooting him a quick, somewhat fearful glance, and rolled over to the other side, turning his back on his uncle. It was frustrating. There was something deeply wrong with Peter and he obviously didn’t think he could trust them, which irritated and disappointed Ben tremendously. He just hoped that Peter would speak to them as soon as he felt fetter, because the state of not knowing was had happened was driving him crazy. At least, the fever had dropped to 99.5 degrees.

“Drink your tea, please,” Ben said when he got up to leave; it hadn’t slipped his attention that the cup from yesterday had remained untouched. “It wouldn’t hurt to eat some of that toast either. The fever isn’t that bad, I’m sure you’ll be back to your old self again soon enough. Call us if you need anything.”

A few tears escaped over Peter’s lash line and started running down his cheeks as soon as Uncle Ben closed the door behind him. If there was one thing he knew, it was that he would never be back to his old self again. How could he, after everything that had happened? Until yesterday he would have loved to spend any free moment with Skip, but now, he never wanted to see the other boy ever again. In fact, he never wanted to have any friend ever again; after all, what if they wanted to do the same things to him that Skip had done?

The boy rolled over to the other side again and came face to face with the toast and tea on his nightstand. He couldn’t eat, he felt sick. Sick and… disgusting, besmirched, and Peter wished he could take another shower, but he felt too weak to get up. Also, his body was still aching all over, especially his butt and his thighs. Carefully, Peter slid the fabric of the pajama shorts up a tad to take a closer look, and his stomach turned when he spotted large bruises, the color a mixture of yellow, green and blue. When flashbacks of Skip’s crushing weight pinning him down flashed through him, he shuddered and buried his face deep into the pillow to muffle his cries.  

In the afternoon, it was once again his aunt who begged him to drink a cup of tea. She seemed to be on the verge of tears, but again, Peter ignored her, not even turning around to look at her.

His feigned unresponsiveness both scared and irritated his guardians incredibly, considering the fever was so low at this point it shouldn’t weaken him so much, let alone prevent him from speaking or responding. When the woman gently touched his head to stroke his hair, her nephew once again flinched and tensed visibly. “We’re so worried, baby… we know something is wrong but if you lock us out, we can’t help you.”

As soon as May heard a quiet sniffle, she pulled back, alarmed. She leaned over to see him better, and her heart sank when she saw that Peter’s face was distorted and red from, apparently, trying to hold back heavy sobs. She felt so helpless about the whole situation that tears welled up in her own eyes. “Petey, please… did…did somebody hurt you?”

Even though he still wept bitterly, he also vigorously shook his head. She didn’t believe him but also didn’t want to make him feel uncomfortable “Then please, tell me what is going on!”

Peter’s eyes widened, but he otherwise didn’t react in any way, basically telling her everything she needed to know.

As soon as May had left, he turned over and slowly forced himself into an upright position, feeling dizzy almost immediately. They were right, he really needed to drink and he couldn’t let them take him to the hospital or they’d have to sell the house or they’d find out about the bruises he had, as of yet, managed to hide from them. The tea was too hot still, but even the water burned slightly in his throat whenever he swallowed.

All of a sudden, he thought he felt and tasted Skip’s penis and the white substance in his mouth. Panic engulfed him when he realized he couldn’t breathe anymore and he desperately tried to pump air into his lungs by breathing faster, making it even worse. Dread crawled through his veins, spreading like ice, and when he put the glass of water back on his nightstand, his hands were shaking so badly he almost missing it. The boy was close to hyperventilating now and he knew, he had to calm down if he didn’t want to collapse. He had had panic attacks before, and even though it had been years, he gladly still remembered what his therapist had taught him.

Grounding had always helped himPeter had to think of five things he could see (glass of water, cup of tea, night stand, lamp, pillow), four things he could touch (glass of water, cup of tea, night stand, lamp), three things he could hear (music, birds, … what else? … voices!), two things he could smell (May’s burnt cookies, flowers) and one thing he could taste (Skip’s pe-… no, please, don’t let me think about it again… please, PLEASE, think of something else, anything!… TEA! Yes, tea, that’s something he could taste!).

Peter knew he had failed when his breaths still came in heavy sobs, and so he tried again. It wasn’t easy, since trying not to think about something made him think about it all the more, but after the third time of going through the process, he finally managed to calm down and focus enough to get to the Breathing techniques. Exhale, breathe in for four seconds and hold the breath for seven seconds. Exhale forcefully through the mouth for eight seconds. Repeat.

After a few iterations Peter wiped the sweat off his forehead, sighing in relief. Although his body was still shivering slightly (whether from the fever or constant anxiety, he didn’t know), he had overcome the most dangerous part, at least for now. He glared daggers at that stupid glass of water, knowing that he had to try it again if he didn’t want to die of thirst or risk having a panic attack for the rest of his life whenever he was drinking. Also, Peter wanted to stop feeling so dizzy, so he pulled himself together and took his time drinking not only the water, but also the cup of tea.

Ben and May were pleased when they found glass and cup empty half an hour later. Peter still n neither talked, nor genuinely looked at them, but they wanted to give him time. After he had been beaten up last year, he had also been rather quiet and jumpy for a few days, even though it probably hadn’t been as bad as it was now.

 

Day 38

Even though the fever was gone in the morning, Peter still felt sick, lost and empty inside. Nothing seemed appealing to him, not his books, comics, computer, Lego sets, nothing. When May chased him out of the bed to change the sweat-soaked sheets, he sat down on the windowsill, watching the neighbor’s daughters building a snowman without actually seeing them. The only things he did see were Skip’s cold, dark eyes and his penis twitching and leaking in front of his face.

Aunt May eventually persuaded him to join them for lunch, and Ben smiled when Peter scuffed into the dining room, sat down on the table and mumbled a faint “Hello”.

“How are you feeling?” Ben asked, beaming encouragingly.

“Dunno. B-better”, the boy replied, voice rough from disuse, staring intently at a crack in the table. Peter hated himself for still trembling a bit, but Ben seemed pleased nonetheless. “Good, that’s… good. Are you hungry?”

Peter shrugged, wishing he would have stayed in his room. When May served him chicken, rice and vegetables, he blankly stared at it for a while, feeling nauseated already. He picked at his food and forced himself to take at least a few bites, chewing rather listlessly. When he put fork and knife down, his plate was still more than half-full, but Ben and May seemed somewhat satisfied.

After the two adults were done, Peter wanted to get up straightaway, but Ben motioned him to stay seated. May shot a warning glance at her husband, but didn’t intervene.

“Pete… listen… your aunt and I… we don’t think you’ve been telling us the truth, neither your bruises, nor the damages to your bike fit your story.”

Peter’s heart raced at once, not daring to look either one of them in the eye, and tried to concentrate on breathing as steadily and calmly as possible.

Ben ignored the looming panic that was visibly starting to surge through his nephew, focusing on the goal he had set himself; getting a confession. “We think someone beat you,“ he stated straightforward.

Peter winced, feeling like his uncle had slapped him in the face, and bit down on his lip, although unable to suppress a whimper.

May leaned forward and, slowly, took Peter’s right hand in her own. The boy was still shaking, but didn’t jerk it away, drawing a sigh of relief from May’s lips. “We’re sorry, baby, but we need to know who did this to you,” she said, her voice breaking mid-sentence. Peter glanced at her and when he saw that she was crying, guilt spread through his body.

“Was it the same bunch like last time? Some guys from your school? Did you encounter them on your way home?” Ben asked impatiently, leaning forward too.

Peter tried to stay calm, thinking intensely. He could deny everything, but then again, Ben just might have provided him with an excuse. The grown-up tensed when Peter took a deep breath, tears rolling down his cheeks steadily. “N-no, “he finally said, “I… I don’t k-know who… who they were.”

Ben and May frowned. “You don’t? Are we supposed to believe that?” his uncle snorted irritated, earning himself a glare from his wife.

Peter nodded his head frantically. “Yeah, I…I really d-didn’t. They were… o-older, t-teenagers… it w-was three of t-them. T-they… they h-hauled me off the bike and…m-made fun of me. P-please, I… I didn’t know them, I h-hardly even s-saw them, it was d-dark and… t-they had s-scarves and caps… I was… I was s-scared, I d-didn’t even scream for help.” He was crying more heavily know, voice barely breaking through his sobs.

May and Ben didn’t know if they believed him, but what choice did they have? Even if it had indeed been kids from his school who had hurt him, they couldn’t prove it or force him to rat them out. Last time they hadn’t found out either, so maybe he was telling the truth or he could have easily said that he wouldn’t tell them any names.

“It’s fine, honey… Thank you for telling us,” May eventually said and gave Peter’s hand a careful squeeze. “If there’s anything else you remember or want to tell us, we are here for you, always. You know that, right?”

Peter forced himself to nod courteously, although he hadn’t forgotten what Skip had told him. He was a nuisance, a burden and they were just too nice to tell him. Utter relief rushed through him when they told him he could go back upstairs now and he shot up from his seat immediately.

Later at dinner, Peter ate as little as before, but at least Ben and May didn’t question him about what had happened again. When Ben asked him if he felt fit enough to go to school tomorrow, Peter shrugged his shoulders.

“Guess so,“ he muttered, unsure whether he’d rather stay at home, with nothing to distract him from his inner demons, or go to school where he had to face all those people who hated him. However, at least nobody would really want to talk to him there…

When Ben started to clear the table, the child got up and wished them a good night. His foot was on the first step, when May hurried after him. “Wait a second,” she yelled and thrust something in his hand. “I saved your phone from taking a bath in the washing machine”, she winked but then frowned when Peter stared at the phone like it was a bomb. “Something wrong?”

“N-no,“ he quickly pressed out and gulped. He had completely forgotten about his phone. “T-thanks.” The boy fake-smiled at his aunt before struggling to climb the stairs with wobbly legs. As soon as he was inside his room, he tried to lit the screen, but found that it had run out of battery. Trembling, Peter quickly plugged it in and waited for it to boot. The anxiousness was killing him, and his stomach twisted painfully when he discovered he had four unread messages.


Friday, 8:12 pm: “Hey Einstein, hope u got home alright? ;) It was a lovely evening, can’t wait to see u again soon. Don’t forget our agreement!”

Saturday, 09:31 am: “Txt me back asap.”

Sunday, 3:56 pm: “Why tf r u ignoring me??”

Sunday, 6:07 pm: “I s2g u better not have told some fucking shit about me””!”

Peter’s breath escaped him in heavy sobs and his phone almost slid out of his hands when he tried to calm down. The last thing he wanted to do was text him back, but Skip knew where he lived and where he went to school and if he ignored him… The boy whimpered and closed his eyes fearfully. This time it took him even longer to calm down from the panic taking over his mind and body, but eventually he coerced himself to send a short reply, although it took him a few minutes until his trembling fingers had typed a somewhat readable text.

“Sorry I was sivk and my bsttery was dead.”

When he returned from brushing his teeth and sat down on the bed, he noticed he had gotten another message. “Well I told u it was cold and that u better hurry up ;) Anyways, I want u to come over asap, how about Wednesday?”

Peter rolled onto his stomach, pressed his face into the pillow and screamed loudly, taking advantage of the fabric muffling his voice so nobody else would hear. What was he supposed to do? He didn’t want to, no, he couldn’t go through this ever again but how could he explain it to Ben and May and, especially, avoid Skip’s vengeance if he found out? Maybe, if he put a good face on the matter, Skip would ultimately give up… It was Peter’s only glimmer of hope, so he texted him back again.

“Dunno, still sick.”

Skip’s next reply made him fall asleep bawling his eyes out. “Ok but u better get well soon, can’t wait to c u.”

 

Days 39 - 51

Peter would never know how he survived the first days of school after Skip’s experiment. He hardly paid attention in class and didn’t talk to anyone. Since he never drew attention to himself anyways, no one really noticed. No one except Mrs. Hammers, who frowned when she had to ask the same question three times until Peter finally provided her with a sluggish answer, eyes fixed on the ground while he spoke. Even at home, the boy still felt absolutely whacked and hardly spoke or ate, avoiding his aunt and uncle as much as he could, claiming he had to do a lot of homework. His nights were short, still interrupted by horrible nightmares, and they provided him with dark rings under his eyes, making his complexion seem even paler than usually.

On Wednesday, Skip sent him another message, sounding even more impatient now. “U still sick?? Saturday, 2 pm, my place, get well until then.”

This time, Peter didn’t know what to answer. He was too afraid that Skip would find out he was lying, but what other choice did he have?

“Yeah still sick I’ll text you Friday.”

Problem was, Aunt May made it even worse.

On Friday during dinner, she asked him if he wanted to invite Skip for Sunday lunch. “I thought we could start our own little tradition,” she smiled, not noticing that Peter was shaking almost as badly as a week ago, “Hopefully his mother is okay with us kidnapping him every Sunday.” May laughed but broke off when she finally looked up and noticed that her nephew stared blankly ahead, seemingly petrified. She exchanged a quick, concerned glance with Ben, who just shrugged his shoulders. Peter had always had tremendous social anxiety and it probably worsened after getting beat up again. They still hoped that he would at least confine in Skip about what had happened and not chase his only friend away by avoiding him.

“Sweetheart?” May finally asked, giving Peter a start.

“I uh… I… I’m gonna a-ask him,” he mumbled under his breath, still not looking at anybody.

Later, when he had calmed down enough, Peter grabbed his phone, not to text Skip, but to look something up on Google. First, he was searching for things like “Is it normal for boys to kiss each other”, but when he saw the results, he knew it had been the wrong question to ask. He wasn’t homophobic, he just wanted to know if it was normal for two none gay boys (or was Skip gay? He probably was…) to kiss, or not. He tried “He touched me but I didn’t like it” but all that came up then, were discussions about whether you were into your date if you didn’t ‘feel’ anything or reports about sexual harassment. Although Peter had heard the term before, he had never really thought about what it meant. Unfortunately, most search results were blocked by the firewall’s sensitive child safety settings Ben had installed years ago, locking him out of any websites which excessively featured the words “sex”, “penis”, “vagina” and so on.

Therefore, Peter felt he didn’t have any other choice than to start a new off-topic threat in the Star Wars discussion board May and Ben had let him register a few months ago. Normally he wasn’t allowed to browse it on his phone or post without them knowing, but he didn’t know any other way.

[p.skywarker01] “If my friend kissed and touched me and made me touch him too, even though I didn’t want any of it, is this normal behavior between friends? My firewall might throw me out if you use s.e…u.a.l. words so please don’t use those, thanks.”

The forum was pretty popular, so, after 10 minutes, there were already two replies.

[jarjarsucks22] “No, it’s not normal and it’s not okay either if you told him you didn’t want it. That’s abuse, actually. Look it up in the Penal Code.”

[HolyDeathStar] “Kid, I don’t know how you define ‘touching’ since it says on your profile that you’re only 14, but you’re too young to touch or kiss anybody anywhere. Play with your dolls, action figures or whatever, will you? JMO.

Since users had to be at least fourteen years old to create an account on the discussion board, Peter had had to lie about his birth year, making him wonder what HolyDeathStar would say if he knew he was even younger than fourteen. Nonetheless the boy tried not to freak out. First he had read about sexual harassment, and now jarjarsucks22 threw the word abuse out there, referring to the Penal Code. Immediately, Peter looked up “New York Penal Law” on Google, but it took him a while to find the section the needed. Article 130 was titled “Sex Offenses”, but when he clicked on it, the firewall once again blocked him out and Peter groaned. Although he was sure he’d be able to hack into the firewall after only a few minutes of googling, he knew he wouldn’t have the guts to do it.

Feeling distressed, he took one last look into the thread he had created in the board, and saw there was one more reply.

[Padakin4ever] “Report him to the police! It’s punishable by law to touch someone without their consent, just like @jarjarsucks22 said (that is, as long as you didn’t EXPLICITLY say yes). Are you really only 14? Then make sure to talk to your parents or a teacher about it! The other guy isn’t really your friend if he made you do anything you didn’t want to do!”

Somehow, he didn’t feel relief. If anything, he was even more scared now.

As fast as he could, Peter deleted the thread and the replies he had gotten, and then stared at his phone as if it was a bomb, breaking out in a cold sweat. He needed more time to figure something out…

After calming down enough to type, he sent the following message: “Grounded because I got home late last time and broke the bike. I have to give them my phone too as punishment.”

Step one was done, now he only had to block Skip and hope that he’d never visit his house or school. He lay down onto the bed and cried in his pillow, just like he had done so often lately. What the other users had written echoed in his mind. How could Peter have been so stupid? First, he had trusted the older boy even though Ben and May had been somewhat wary about him, and then, he had let him do these embarrassing things to him, even partly believing him that doing stuff like that was normal. Peter had always thought he was highly talented and more intelligent than others, but then all this happened and… Hadn’t Skip even said that Peter had been tempting in a way? Was it his own fault Skip had touched him?

Uncle Ben and Aunt May would be so disappointed that he’d been so weak and stupid, and, which was even worse, might even feel sorry for him. Peter was done being the victim, he had thought he could finally put that behind with Skip by his side, but then he had let himself get abused – abused! Maybe it was good that his parents didn’t live to see what a despicable loser their son was… For the first time in many years, Peter wished that he could have died with them, or that he had never been born to begin with. After all, for now he had only caused pain and sorrow for himself and those he loved.

Peter struggled through the following (and last full) week of school before the Christmas holidays with the same attitude like the week before, trying not to get any attention on himself. Physics class was a different matter, though. Last week, he didn’t have to participate since Uncle Ben and Aunt May had agreed to excuse him for it for a week, considering the ‘weakened state’ the fever had left him with, but this week he didn’t dare to ask them again, not wanting to raise any suspicions.

Just the thought of having to undress in front of his classmates and giving them the opportunity of gawking at his half-naked body filled him with nausea, not to mention imagining what it would feel like if they touched him during an exercise or a game. Therefore, Peter stood in front of the locker room with shaking legs, frozen, until Josh and his group of pals wanted to get by him.

“What you’re staring at, Parker? Are you scared of doors now? Gosh, you’re so retarded!” Josh didn’t even try to pass him carefully, but barged into him deliberately, laughing dirtily. Peter flinched, but then heclosed his eyes and took a few deep breaths. He could do it. None of these boys had ever hurt him in the way that Skip had, they were all as old as he was, and he didn’t have to be scared of them. At least not like that. 

It took him a lot of effort to open the door, and as soon as he had entered the stifling room he went over to the bank and locker furthest away from the others. Even though nobody really paid him any attention, the room suddenly felt narrow and tiny. The laughter and chatter from the other boy’s sounded muffled and faint, and Peter found it hard to breathe again. He had to sit down, shielding his face with his trembling hands. Breathe in, breathe out, slowly. Repeat. Everything was fine; nothing (everything?) had changed. Maybe he should just wait until the others had changed and gone into the gym? The thought was soothing to Peter, and he eventually calmed down again. Nothing had changed.

Thankfully, Mr. Shaw had made them do circuit training, providing Peter with the opportunity to trail behind the others like he always did, being the weakest and tiniest of them all, without arousing any suspicions.

The next challenge waited for him on Friday, when Aunt May once again told him to invite Skip over for Sunday’s lunch. Last week he had ended up telling them that Skip was busy with school work, but sadly, this time they seemed to see through the lie, hardly managing to hide their frustration. “That’s a pity, we haven’t seen him in ages… and it’s been two weeks for you too, aren’t you disappointed about it?”

“Uhm… sure, but… it’s fine, really,” Peter said quickly, not missing the look the adults exchanged before Ben cleared his throat.

“Pete, do you want us to talk to his mom about it? After all, we’re leaving for New Haven next week. You won’t be able to see Skip for two more weeks then. I’m sure she wouldn’t mind.”

Peter gulped when he thought about visiting May’s family for the holidays. Normally, he always loved getting out of the city and meeting up with Harrold and his other cousins, but for some reason, he was scared to see them this time. Harrold belonged to his old self, the life he had had before Skip had taken it from him and turned him into this despicable creature. Everything had changed.

“N-no, really, it’s…it’s fine, w-we can meet up after the holidays.” Peter got up so fast he almost tripped. “I uh…I have to pee.”

Ben and May watched him storm out of the room, flabbergasted.

On Sunday, Ben and May started to talk about it again. The woman suggested inviting Skip over as a surprise next week, if only for five minutes, so they could wish him a Merry Christmas and give him the little present they had bought for him. Ben had been against purchasing a gift at first, because he didn’t want Skip to think that they were trying to bribe him into staying friends with Peter, but a box of chocolate couldn’t be wrong, could it?

“Do you have his number or do you want to drive over?” Ben asked May, who shook her head.

“No… I’m thinking… I’m thinking of looking into Peter’s phone, to be honest.”

Ben frowned. “Are you serious?”

“Just for the number, I’m not gonna look at anything else… Besides, it’s not like he uses it a lot, so I doubt I would be in danger of seeing anything he didn’t want me to see.”

Her husband couldn’t argue against that, so in the afternoon, he coaxed his unmotivated nephew into building a snowman in the backyard, giving May enough time to snuck into Peter’s room and find out Skip’s number. The phone was lying on the boy’s desk, turned on, and May breathed a sigh of relief when she saw that it wasn’t locked by any code. She quickly opened his contacts and her heart ached when she saw that her baby boy had only six contacts. Six. Ben, his cousin Emma, Harrold, herself, cousins Mel and Sebastian. May raised her eyebrows in confusion. Where was Skip’s number? May cursed under her breath and, even though she hated herself for it already, she opened Peter’s messages. She wouldn’t read anything, no, she would just… Her eyes widened when the very first chat didn’t show a name. Instead, it said ‘Blocked number’ and the few words of the last text message from nine days ago caught her attention. “Me: Grounded because I…”

The ‘Me’ told her that it was Peter who had sent the message, not the other person. What the heck…? For a few seconds, May hesitated, but she had to know who Peter was talking to, and, especially, why he had claimed to be grounded, which had never occurred even once in his life.

“Please forgive me, sweetheart,” the woman mumbled, knowing she would go to hell for this, before opening the chat. Peter actually lied about being grounded because he ‘had gotten home late’ and ‘had broken the bike’. He also claimed that he had to give up his phone. What the fuck was going on?

With every text May read, she became more confused and also, more scared. It had to be Skip Peter was talking to, but the young man clearly hadn’t been pushing him away. Quite the opposite, actually. He had asked Peter to meet up numerous times, and it had been her nephew who had made up numerous excuses why they wouldn’t be able to see each other. May didn’t like Skip’s tone though, it sounded very demanding, a little cold even. There was a text, that had May huff angrily.

“I s2g u better not have told some fucking shit about me!”

First of all, Skip should know better than to use ‘fucking shit’ when talking to an 11-year-old, but what was he implying? The message had been sent two days after Peter’s accident, and suddenly, May felt a shiver running down her spine. Did something happen with Skip that Peter was hiding from them? There was no way that the young man had been the one who had hurt him, no, but… Skip had also texted him on said Friday, telling Peter to now forget about their agreement. What god-damn agreement? May suddenly felt sick, even though she didn’t really know why. However, her gut feeling told her that something was deeply wrong. What was it she failed to see? Once again, her eyes focused on the message three down. “I s2g u better not have told some fucking shit about me.” Had Skip been afraid that Peter had not stood to their agreement, whatever it was about?

May put the phone back on the desk and walked back downstairs with slightly shaking legs, lost in thought. When Ben and Peter came back inside thirty minutes later, wet and freezing, she waited until the boy had gone upstairs before talking to Ben about what she had discovered. Her husband was so dumbfounded about the messages that he didn’t even scold May for invading Peter’s privacy so tremendously. Together, they racked their brains over what could have happened between the two, and eventually, May sighed, rubbing her aching head. “Maybe Skip showed him an R-rated movie or let him play a brutal game or… I don’t know, I’m sure his mom has alcohol at home, what if Skip let Peter take a sip, acting all cool and grown-up around him?”

“He better hasn’t done any of that, or I’d teach the boy a lesson he won’t ever forget,” Ben growled. “No matter what happened, we have to talk to Pete again. At least we now have evidence that he has been hiding something from us all this time, and it’s wearing me out.”

 

Day 52

They waited until the next day to confront Peter with their assumptions. It was the second to last day before the Christmas holidays, and they wanted to get it over with, so, after dinner, they sat down with him in the living room.

Peter immediately got a bad vibe when May and Ben looked at him gravely. “W-what’s going on?” he asked nervously.

“Pete…,” Ben started, sounding very serious, “you know that May and I… that we love you unconditionally, and that you can tell us anything, right?”

Peter didn’t dare to look his uncle in the eye. He knew they loved him, but he also knew that he was a nuisance to them because they never really wanted him. It felt like a slap in the face, yet he just nodded his head and bit down on his lip uneasily.

May, who was sitting down next to him, gently placed her hand on Peter’s knee, and even though his legs started to tremble slightly, he stayed calm and, for once, didn’t wince.

“Baby… I’m sorry, but… we wanted to talk to you about Skip.”

Peter’s heart skipped a beat and his head shot up in panic. “W-what?”

His aunt and uncle glanced at each other alarmingly, before May continued in a sad voice. “Well, you never mention him anymore and so we thought… maybe you two had a fight?”

They had agreed on giving him a chance to be honest with them, without having to unsettle him by admitting that they had looked into his phone. The adults didn’t miss that Peter clenched his fists, avoiding all eye contact, and when he spoke, he wasn’t able to prevent his voice from quivering.

“Oh, uhm… y-yeah, actually, w-we fought and… and I guess w-we aren’t friends anymore.”

The grown-ups let out an exhausted sigh. “I’m really sorry, baby, but we wanted to surprise you by asking Skip to come over before we left for New Haven, so…I looked into your phone to get his number.”

Even though it wasn’t that hot inside the house, Peter immediately started to sweat, despite only wearing a thin shirt, blushing deeply. He felt violated, betrayed, and scared, but when he opened his mouth to defend himself, nothing came out except from a pathetic whimper.

“We’re really sorry, Pete,” Ben said quickly, “but we don’t regret it, because we finally hope that you will tell us what’s been going on with you. You are… everything to us, I… I have always promised your dad that I would look after you if something happened to him and your mom and… How can I do that if you don’t even tell me what’s hurting you?”

Admittedly, it was a low blow to mention Peter’s parents, but Ben didn’t know any other way to get his nephew to talk.

“You… you,” Peter pressed out, vision blurred from tears welling in his eyes. He wanted nothing more than to get out of here, but since he was too scared to move, he just started to cry.

 “I… I… I just d-don’t want to s-see him e-ever again.”

“But… why?” Ben asked. “Did he… show you something you weren’t supposed to see?”

Peter almost choked when he looked at his uncle with wide eyes, completely aghast. Was he so easy to read? “I… he… yes,” he admitted eventually.

“What did he show you?” Ben asked, almost relieved.

“P-pictures.”

His aunt and uncle frowned. “Pictures? What kind of pictures?”

“From a m-magazine… I don’t know the n-name.”

“Doesn’t matter, but… what did you see? Did it show violence?”

“Uhm… I dunno, I don’t think so, but… there was one w-woman who might have been in p-pain.”

Both adults seemed utterly confused now.

“Why do you think she might have been in pain, what was she doing?”

Peter blushed even more, and his left fingers fidgeted with a loose thread of his shirt. “She… the man had… had his… in her…” When he pointed at his crotch, shaking with anxiety, it dawned on Ben and May. However, they didn’t dare to believe what their little boy was implying.

“You… you mean…” Ben broke off and looked at his wife, completely thunderstruck.

“Were… were they naked?” May asked carefully.

When Peter nodded tentatively, the adults exchanged a horrified glance.

“What else did you see in that magazine?” Ben snapped and Peter flinched.

“I…I’m s-sorry, I… I didn’t want to!”

He started to sob and Ben immediately felt guilty. “I’m not… this isn’t your fault, Pete, sorry, I… He shouldn’t have shown you something like this. Did you see… their private parts?”

The boy closed his eyes, gulped, and then nodded slowly.

For a while, Aunt May and Uncle Ben were both lost for words. However, with every second that passed, Ben found it more and more difficult to stay calm. That bastard had deliberately shown porn magazines to their innocent 11-year-old boy. He wanted to kill him.

Meanwhile, May was trying to think of something she could say to Peter. “Listen, we know that… you didn’t want to see that, we aren’t mad or anything, that really wasn’t your fault, honey. If you, uhm… have questions about it, fell free to ask us or just Ben, if you prefer that.”

Peter quickly shook his head. “N-no, it’s… it’s fine, can I… can I go now? Please?”

“Is there anything else you want to tell us?” Ben asked, and the boy shook his head even more vigorously before jumping up and fleeing the room. All in all, he was almost glad that they at least knew about the magazines now. Hopefully, they had been truthful about not being angry with him, but the look on Ben’s face… Peter shuttered.

 Downstairs, May had failed at calming Ben down. “I won’t put up with this, May!” the man hissed, “That bastard had traumatized our boy by showing him porn and you want to let him get away with it?”

“I never said that, stop twisting my words in my mouth! I’m just saying it will escalate if you go there now, and also, you can’t go behind Peter’s back like that. He’s obviously scared and he probably feels already betrayed by us reading his messages.”

“I don’t care,” Ben snapped, grabbing his car keys, “I’m going there, now. That little piece of shit can call himself lucky I’m not calling the cops on him, since I’m sure showing porn to children falls under child abuse.”

May turned white and hesitated for a second, before following her husband into the corridor. “Okay, I’ll… I’ll go with you.”

Chapter Text

Fortunately, Ben and May knew what apartment number Skip lived in. When a resident exited the building just as they arrived, they quickly slipped inside and went straight up to the third floor. May had difficulty keeping up with her raging husband, and when she arrived at the third floor, he was already knocking at the door impatiently.

After a few seconds, a blond-haired woman opened the door cautiously. “Yes?”

“Where’s Skip?” Ben snapped, and May pushed him aside quickly. “Sorry, uhm… are you Mrs. Westscott?”

“Yes,” the woman said, both confused and slightly anxious. “Who are you? What do you want from my son?”

While Ben huffed in the background, May forced her lips into a smile and shook Mrs. Westscott’s hand. “Nice to finally meet you, I’m May Parker, Peter’s aunt, and this is my husband Ben.”

Mrs. Westscott seemed slightly baffled. “Peter?”

“Uhm… yes. Surely, Skip has told you about Peter?”

Suddenly, Mrs. Westscott seemed to relax. Although she was still eyeing Ben suspiciously, she opened the door wider to let them in. “Steven?” the woman yelled, “Can you please come here for a second?”

A few moments later, Skip was dragging his feet into the living room, eyes fixed on the phone in his hands. “What?” he murmured, and when he finally looked up, the boy froze on the spot, presumably terrified by the sight of Ben and May in his living room. “Uhm…wow, what… what… are you guys… uhm,” he stuttered and May saw Ben clenching his fists.

“They say that you’re friends with their nephew Peter. Anything you wanna tell me?” Mrs. Westscott asked, grinning mischievously at her son before winking at the Parkers as if she knew anything they didn’t.

It was enough to send Ben over the edge. “What did you do to my boy?” he shouted furiously, and May grabbed his elbow warningly.

“W-what, I…n-nothing!” Skip shrank back until he hit the wall with his back. “M-Mom, please, I… I don’t know what they’re talking about.”

Gladly for him, his mother intervened immediately. “Excuse me? What makes you think you can scream at my son like this? I don’t even know you, and right now I’m not sure if I want to anymore.”

May, who desperately tried to keep her husband from doing something stupid, stepped forward, pushing Ben behind her. “Has… has Skip never told you about us?” Her voice had cracked mid-sentence, and now, Mrs. Westscott looked at her uneasily. “He uhm… n-no, but… what do you even want?” she asked, not taking her eyes off May.

“I’m sorry for intruding like this, but… Peter had just told us, that-”

“It’s all lies!” Skip interrupted, obviously panic-stricken, “I didn’t do anything!”

It was the icing on the cake; Ben exploded. “Stop lying, you little piece of shit!” he screamed, and once again, May tried to ease him. “Ben, please… this won’t help” she hissed, but Mrs. Westscott seemed to have lost her patience. “I won’t let you insult my son!” she yelled, “Get out, now, or I’ll call the police!”

“Good idea, actually!” Ben snapped, “Then I can tell them to arrest your pervert of a son!”

“Excuse me?! What did you just call him?” Mrs. Westscott was livid and May had problems trying to calm everyone down again.

“I’m so sorry, Mrs. Westscott, but… it’s not easy for us, please, hear us out,” she pleaded. “Maybe we can settle all of this without the police. We are just… we just found out that Skip had shown porn magazines to our nephew.”

For a while, there weren’t any sounds apart from Skip’s heavy, loud breathing, but then Mrs. Westscott snorted. “Okay, uhm…I get it that you’re angry, and I’m sorry if my son… did that, but… come on, don’t be so dramatic. Every boy their age has probably looked at porn already.”

Skip whimpered and Mrs. Westscott had barely turned around to shoot him a confused look when Ben started to scream louder than ever, making everyone jump.

“He’s ELEVEN years old, for fuck’s sake!”

Mrs. Westscott didn’t seem to understand. “Who’s eleven?”

“PETER!” Ben roared and finally, it seemed to dawn on her. She looked as if Ben had slapped her, before glancing at her son, who was hunched up against the wall with a pained expression in his eyes. When he noticed that his mother was looking at him, he shook his head vigorously. “I didn’t do that, mom, I swear, I… I hardly know that kid, I…”

It was by far the worst thing Skip could have said at this point. When Ben rushed past her, May felt tears welling up in her eyes, not even bothering to stop her husband anymore.

“YOU HARDLY KNOW HIM?” Ben screamed and planted himself in front of the young man threateningly, “If you don’t start telling the truth RIGHT NOW, your gonna be really sorry, boy!”

“Stay away from my son or I swear, I’ll call the police!” Mrs. Westscott wailed, which seemed to unsettle Skip even more. When May saw Ben raising his fist, she tried to reason with the boy they had both grown fond of over the last couple of weeks.

“Skip, please,” she said, and promptly, all eyes were on her. “You’ve been at our house five times, how come you never told your mother about it?” When Skip only gaped at her, May turned towards Mrs. Westscott again. “Has he never told you anything?”

“When… when did all this happen?”

“It started… I don’t know, like… six weeks ago? He had lunch with us three Sundays in a row, if I’m not mistaken. We also dropped Peter off twice, last time it was second to last Friday. We thought you knew about all this.”

Mrs. Westscott looked at her son, appalled, but Skip seemed to be done, choosing offense as his defense now. “You know what, May? You think Peter is your innocent little boy, but I’m sure he never told you about how he begged me to let him play GTA on my PlayStation last time he was here, did he? When I refused, he called me a philistine and said he never thought I’d be as uptight as you two. He also said, that he wished you were dead instead of his parents, and even asked me if I could adopt him after my birthday. That’s what your innocent boy thinks of you, and now he’s making up you some bullshit story because I threatened to tell you guys everything if he kept throwing my controller around.”

Ben and May stood silent for a while, trying to comprehend what Skip had said. It hurt, a lot, but if they thought about it with a clear mind, it didn’t make sense. In the bottom of their hearts, they knew that Peter would never say things like that, or at least, wouldn’t really mean it.

Before they had wrapped their minds about how to react, Mrs. Westscott spoke. “So… you haven’t been seeing your girlfriend all this time?”

“What?” Ben gasped and glared at the young man in front of him, who gulped. When he found his voice again, it was slightly high-pitched and shaky. “I…I never touched him! I swear!”

It took him a few moments to realize, that until now, neither Ben nor May had implied anything like that at all. Trembling, he was glancing at the three grown-ups, who were staring back at him with an utterly terrified expression. “I mean… if he… if he says I did.”

However, by then, it was too late; memories were already flashing through May’s and Ben’s minds unmercifully. Peter’s injuries, Peter flinching whenever they touched him, Peter picking at his food and becoming almost mute for days. The possibility that Skip had hurt him in more than one way, was suddenly more likely than anything else.

“You… you have…,” Ben stumbled, thunderstruck.

“I didn’t do anything, are you deaf? Your nephew is a fucking liar!” Skip hissed, though his voice was still shaking.

“It was you… the bruises, the bloody lip… you hit him, didn’t you? Because you tried to touch him.

“I didn’t want or do anything, I…”

Skip was interrupted by Ben lunging at him. He screamed when he dodged the older man’s punch, and fled into the bathroom, locking the door behind him. Ben went after him, raging, and tried to kick the door open by force.

“Ben, STOP!” May screamed hysterically and fumbled for her phone. “I’m…I’m calling the police now, let them handle this!”

Gladly, Ben stopped kicking the door then, but he was still furious. The police told May that they’d be there in a few minutes, and after she had hung up, she noticed that Mrs. Westscott had sunk to the floor, visibly shaken. When the woman saw that May was looking at her, she started to sob. “Please, don’t… my son is a good kid, he would never…”

“Didn’t you hear him?” Ben spit, and Mrs. Westscott slowly nodded her head. “I did. He said he didn’t do anything to your nephew. He is… he is my son, I…I believe him.”

“He had lied to you about being with his girlfriend instead of an eleven-year-old boy, and you still believe he didn’t hurt him?”

“What are you implying,” Mrs. Westscott hissed, “my son isn’t… Unlike you, I actually know him, and he wouldn’t… You know what, forget it, but you rather not tell the police about your nephew’s horrible lies, or I’ll have my lawyers bring you down.”

“Ben, just… stop,” May sighed tiredly when Ben opened his mouth to shoot back. “Let’s wait outside.”

“And give him a chance to destroy evidence? Not with me, I’ll stay right here.”

“What kind of ‘evidence’?” Mrs. Westscott snapped, “Even if my son had a magazine like that, your nephew could have seen it by accident.”

Even though Ben tried to calm down, he still didn’t want to leave the apartment, so they waited inside. After a few minutes that felt like forever, two officers, one male and one female, arrived, and questioned them separately.

“So… all in all, you claim that this young man over there,” Officer Madison, who had been talking to Ben and May for the last couple of minutes, said and pointed at Skip, who had come out from the bathroom a few minutes ago, “had shows porn to your eleven year old nephew, beat him up and might have molested him?”

The Parkers nodded and Ben asked the woman if they were gonna search Skip’s room now. “Sorry Sir, but we can’t do anything without a search warrant, unless Mr. Westscott lets us take a look around voluntarily.”

“Then get a search warrant!”

“I’m afraid we can’t. First, we need a testimony from your nephew.”

“But… he could get rid of everything, there’s gotta be something you can do?”

“Sorry, Sir,” Officer Madison said again, and while she was exchanging a few silent words with her colleague, Ben was glaring daggers at Skip, who tried to hide behind his mother as well as he could.

“Mr. Westscott, I need to ask you if we could take a look into your room?” Officer Banks eventually asked.

“N-no… you can’t,” Skip said immediately, failing to suppress the panic in his voice.

“I thought you didn’t have anything to hide?” Ben hissed with a smug grin, before turning to the officers. “You better put that down in your report.”

“No,” Mrs. Westscott suddenly intervened, “Steven is okay with it, I, however, am not. This is still my apartment and he’s a minor, so I’ll have a say in this too. Make sure to mention that Steven was okay with you searching his room.”

“I don’t fucking believe you,” Ben spit and this time, even May couldn’t understand how the woman could still defend her son after everything they had told her. If she was sure that Skip was innocent, she would let them take a look, wouldn’t she?

Ben turned to the officers again. “I can’t do this anymore. Can we go?”

“We got everything we need, but make sure to come down to the station tomorrow. We’ll make sure our colleague, who is… specialized in talking to children about difficult things, will be there.”

The Parkers nodded curtly and left, but just when they wanted to close the apartment door behind them, they could hear Skip whining: “Mom, please, if that little shit is going to tell lies tomorrow, I’m fucked. You know they always believe kids, I never fucking touched him, can you please call our lawyer and-“

May quickly closed the door shut, nudging her husband to get a move on. She didn’t want to hear anything anymore, and she certainly couldn’t risk Ben losing control in front of the police either.

All the way home they didn’t speak one word to each other. After Ben had parked the car into the driveway, they sat silent for a few more minutes, even though the cold it was quickly finding its way into the vehicle.

“Do you think it’s true? Did we let a monster into our home?” May’s voice broke.

“I don’t know,” Ben replied faintly, “But I’m afraid Skip at least…tried something. Think about it… The bruises on Peter’s jaw… It looked as if someone had brutally grabbed him.”

May began to sob violently. “Please tell me it’s not true, please, Ben… Please tell me he just showed him those photos and… and hit him, but that he didn’t…Oh god.”

Ben was crying too now, and they embraced, holding onto each other for comfort.

Day 53

When Peter joined Ben and May for breakfast the next morning, he was only greeted with two monotone “Mornings”, immediately noticing that both adults looked as tired as he felt. Had their night been as horrible as his, waking up drenched in sweat every other hour? Probably not.

It irritated him that Ben and May only stared at him without speaking even one word, and he could feel that he was blushing. Anxiety crawled through his veins when he came to the conclusion that they were probably mad at him after all.

He quickly grabbed the nearest box of cereal, but when he flakes dropped into the bowl in front of him, he realized that he wasn’t hungry. Instead, he felt rather sick. After a few minutes of not eating, May asked him with a very shaky voice if he wanted something else. Peter shook his head and bit down on his lip, trying not to cry. Why did they lie to him? They should have told him they were mad or disappointed, so he could have apologized more properly. “I’m s-sorry,” he eventually croaked and stared blankly at his untouched breakfast.

“W-what are you sorry for, baby?”

“For… yesterday.”

When Peter heard a broken sob, he looked up and flinched. May was crying, and even Ben’s eyes were watering. “There’s nothing you need to be sorry for, honey. The only one who is to blame is…who made you do things you didn’t want to do.”

“O-okay,” Peter muttered under his breath, still not really daring to trust his aunt. “I’ll… get ready for school.” He got up and left, taking his time to get all his stuff. When he came back downstairs, Ben and May said they would both drive him today, which made him frown. Normally, Aunt May couldn’t just take a day off so spontaneously, and his gut feeling told him that something was up.

At the first big conjunction, Ben turned right instead of left, and by then Peter was already shaking with anxiety. The boy was too scared to ask where they were going, so he kept quiet and slouched in his seat, feeling sick and miserable. After a few more minutes, they stopped in a street Peter had never been to before.

Both grown-ups seemed rather nervous when they turned around to their nephew. “Remember that we told you that we had to go to the store yesterday? Well… we didn’t,” May admitted, and immediately, Peter’s stomach twisted painfully. “We were…,” Ben continued, “at Skip’s.”

Panic surged through Peter’s whole body, heart skipping a beat, and he flinched as if Ben had slapped him across the face. “W-w-what?”

May was crying now. “We’re so sorry, baby, but we… we had to confront him with what you told us.”

“N-No,” Peter gasped, shaking more badly than ever, “Y-you…w-what…” He didn’t seem capable of composing a full sentence and gave up, burying his face in his hands instead.

Even Ben’s voice broke now. “Listen, P-Pete… we couldn’t let him get away with that. A lot… happened over there, and… we want you to know, that we believe and trust you completely. But… you have to tell us if there was more going on between you two.”

Peter acted as if he hadn’t heard him, silently crying into his hands. Why did they have to betray him like that? What did Skip think now, would he come and get him?

“Baby, please,” May whispered desperately, “if he hurt you, you have to tell us. Keeping silent only helps the offender, nobody else. If you let him get away with it, he might hurt another child soon.”

Peter lifted his head in horror and stared at his aunt tearfully. Was she being serious? He had never thought about that before…

“Please honey… it’s fine if you only answer with ‘yes’ or ‘no’, okay? Was he the one who… hit you and gave you those bruises?”

Once again, Peter buried his face in his hands, not daring to look at his aunt and uncle, but the idea of someone else getting hurt due to him staying quiet gave him a headache. Slowly, very slowly, he nodded his head.

“And did he… did he… touch you inappropriately?”

‘They know,’ Peter thought fearfully. There was no reason for May to ask like this if they didn’t. What if Skip had told them, like he had threatened to, but lied about Peter being the one who initiated and liking it?

He whimpered weakly, before finally nodding his head again. “Where?” He could hear Ben and May gasp loudly when he pointed to his crotch with his terribly shaking index finger. It took a few moments until May found her voice again. “Thank you for telling us baby, you’re so brave… Can you keep being brave for a little longer?”

Reluctantly, Peter nodded his head.

“We need you to tell the police what happened, or they can’t do anything against Skip. Can you do that?”

This was even worse what he had expected. “W-what? N-no, I…I c-can’t, please!” His voice broke through his sobs and he shook his head violently. “Please, no!”

May and Ben exchanged a desperate look; seemingly lost for words. They were both crying too and Peter had to turn away or he would break down completely. The car already seemed to shrink, his breathing became frantic, and he tried to calm down by concentrating on the outside world. Five things he could see… Lantern, house, window, door, man …

While Peter was staring at the man, his eyes focused on the newspaper he was holding. The partly visible title headline read “… thanks to Iron Man and War Machine!”, picturing Tony Stark and General James Rhodes at a press conference. Iron Mad would not keep quiet, he would do anything to help innocent children, even if he was scared or had to risk his life. But even though Iron Man had already helped Peter before, this wasn’t a state- or worldwide threat but something personal he would never find out about. He also wouldn’t even have the time to help Peter or make sure other children would be save from Skip, mainly because he was so busy saving thousands, no, millions of people from dying every now and then. Without him almost sacrificing his life, New York would have been destroyed a few months ago, and now he and War Machine seemed to have done another great deed for the general public.

It took Peter a few moments to realize that he had stopped hyperventilating, even though he hadn’t even finished the Grounding process. After a deep breath, he turned to face Uncle Ben and Aunt May. “O-okay…I’ll… I’ll try.”

Fifteen minutes later, the three Parkers entered the police station. It had taken them a little longer since Peter’s legs were so wobbly that he couldn’t walk fast, and every other step he had to stop, trying to resist the urge to turn around and flee. All the way over, Ben and May had been praising and telling him, how proud they were, and when they finally took a seat in the holding area, Peter desperately tried to stop his whole body from shaking.

It didn’t take long before a young, beautiful female officer came over to them. “Mr. and Mrs. Parker?” she asked sweetly and the adults stood up to shake her hand. “I’m Officer Hudges, but you can call me Theresa.” Then she actually kneeled in front of Peter. “You must be Peter, right?” He was still shaking, but her warm smile made him calm down a bit.

“Mhm,” he squeaked and her smile widened. “Will you come with me? Your aunt and uncle can come too and stay by your side, if you want.”

On the one hand, Peter wished they wouldn’t listen to anything he had to say, but on the other hand, he knew he wouldn’t be able to go through this alone, and therefore, he nodded timidly.

Theresa led them into an interrogation room, and while Ben and May sat down on either side of him, Theresa seated herself opposite of them.

“First, I want you to know that there’s a microphone recording the interrogation. Is that okay with you?”

When Peter nodded, she asked him to speak into the microphone.

“Y-yes.”

“Can you state your full name, please?”

“P-Peter Benjamin P-Parker.”

“Birthday?”

“August 10th, 2001.”

“And present are your aunt and uncle, who have full custody of you?”

“Yes.”

“Can you tell me their names?”

“May P-Parker and Ben Parker.”

“Are you okay with them being present during the interrogation?”

“Yes.”

Theresa then looked at the adults with a sad smile. “If you want to stay, I have to ask you not to interrupt Peter’s testimony and let him speak freely. This won’t be easy, but if you disturb the interrogation, you will have to leave and wait outside.”

Ben and May assured that they would be deathly quiet, and Theresa continued to ask Peter a few basic questions, before lecturing him about ‘telling the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth’. “If you can’t remember anything, say so honestly. Do you understand?”

Peter nodded, before remembering that he had to say it out loud. “Y-yes.”

“Fine”, she beamed before getting more serious all of a sudden. “We can always take a break if you feel like it, okay?”

Once again, Peter said yes, and took a nervous gulp from the glass of water she had handed him earlier. His hands were shaking so badly that he spilled few drops, but the adults acted like they hadn’t noticed.

In fact, Ben and May felt a nerve-wracking anxiety themselves and could hardly think straight. What had that monster done to their boy?

“Do you know why you’re here today?” Theresa asked and Ben and May could see Peter tense visibly.

“Because I n-need to testify a-about …S-Skip.”

“When you say Skip, do you mean Steven Westscott?”

“Y-yes.”

“Let’s start from the beginning. You’ve been… friends, right? Tell me how you met.”

Peter started to talk, although it was more of a stutter before he gained more confidence and told Theresa everything that he could remember from the first days in the library and Skip’s first two visits at his house.

“Had Mr. Westscott ever acted weirdly around you, or made you feel uncomfortable up to this point?”

“J-just once, I think,” Peter said and could feel his cheek heating up. “When he… called me cute.”

Ben and May took a few deep breaths and glanced at each other. Hopefully, Peter didn’t think any of this was his own fault.

Ben and May’s hands started to sweat when their nephew got to the point of his first visit to Skip’s apartment, and Peter even mentioned that Skip kind of forced him to play GTA.

“Yesterday, Skip told my colleague, Officer Banks, that you begged him to let you play GTA. Was he lying?”

“Y-yes,” Peter shakily said, “it was… the other way round, I swear.”

She nodded absentmindedly and asked him to continue on his own. Gladly, nothing else worth mentioning had happened that day and Ben and May breathed a sigh of relief.

The interrogation had already lasted an hour when Peter finally finished speaking about Skip’s last visit to his house. He had started to shake more badly again, and the uneasiness radiating from him had almost become unbearable.

Therefore, everyone was glad when Peter asked for a short break.

“You’re so brave, sweetheart,” May whispered and slowly moved her arm around him to pull him into a hug. She almost cried with joy when Peter leaned into the hug and let her hold him tight. After ten minutes, the boy felt strong enough to continue. Ben’s right arm was now resting on Peter’s shoulders and May’s left hand was on his thigh. They wanted him to feel them, and thankfully, he was okay with them showing him (physical) support. After another deep breath, May and Ben braced themselves for what was to come.

Theresa sighed and then looked at Peter gravely. “What happened on second to last Friday?”

“First… we played p-pool and then… Skip s-showed me those m-magazines.”

“What kind of magazines?”

“There were… n-naked women p-posing for photos.”

“Were the photos explicit?

“W-what does that m-mean?”

“Did you see their private parts?”

“Y-yes.”

“Can you describe it in more detail?”

Peter blushed. “Uhm… that one… that one picture… a guy, he… he had his…in her…”

Theresa sighed. “I’m sorry, but you need to tell me in your own words. But… if you are referring to their private parts, meaning penis and vagina, you can call it ‘thing’. Would that be okay? I’ll enquire about it and you can tell me ‘yes’ or ‘no’, is that okay?”

Peter seemed somewhat relieved. “Y-yes.”

“Then tell me what you saw.”

“The man had his… thing, in her thing.”

“His penis in her vagina?”

“Yes.”

“Do you know what they were doing on the picture?”

“Uhm… y-yeah, I think… t-they had sex, right?”

Once again, Theresa smiled, whereas Ben and May cursed Skip silently.

“Anything else you remember?”

Peter told her about seeing a picture of a woman sucking a man’s dick, and the adult Parkers felt rather sick. Their sweet boy shouldn’t have seen stuff like that while he was still so young.

“Did you want to look at those pictures?” Theresa asked.

“No, I e-even closed my e-eyes.”

“Did you tell Mr. Westscott that you didn’t want to look at them?”

“Y-yes, and… t-then he said t-that he… he wanted to conduct an… e-experiment of h-his own.”

“What kind of experiment?”

“He… he said he w-wanted to k-know if… if w-we c-could t-touch each other l-like… like the p-people in the m-magazines.”

Peter started to cry and both May’s hand on his thigh as well as Ben’s arm around his shoulders began to shake.

“What did he do after he had said that?”

“H-he put his… hand between my t-thighs and l-leaned over. I… I think I s-said ‘No, please’ o-or something and… s-said that I h-had to go, b-but he p-pressed me d-down and then… h-he… k-kissed me.”

“On the mouth?”

“Y-yes.”

“Sorry for asking but…did he use his tongue?”

Peter winced and took a few breaths before answering. “Y-yes. I…I bit him.”

“I bet he got mad then, didn’t he?”

“Yes… he… he s-slapped me.”

Ben and May exchanged a sad look. It really had been Skip all along and they had been too stupid and too naïve to suspect him. They listened to Peter telling her about the bruise and when he mentioned that there weren’t any pictures of it, they felt extremely guilty. Why didn’t they think of photographing it?

“What did Mr. Westscott do then?”

“He c-choked me and I… I couldn’t breathe. He threatened to tell Uncle Ben and Aunt May about me playing GTA if I d-didn’t stop f-fighting and… and he s-said that we w-were friends and that I s-should be there for him l-like he had b-been for m-me.” It was really hard to hear what a manipulative asshole Skip had been; it was even worse than they had imagined.

“He w-wanted me to t-touch him. At f-first I didn’t know what he m-meant, b-but then he g-grabbed my hand and p-put…put…it onto his… crotch.”

“Was he naked?”

“N-no he w-was wearing jeans but… h-he opened them later.”

“What did he want you to do?”

“T-to m-move m-my hand. He… he t-touched me too, a-and s-showed me w-what he w-wanted m-me to do.”

“Were you naked?”

“N-no but… he o-opened his jeans a-and… made me t-touch him through h-his b-boxers. S-suddenly…the f-fabric w-was wet and… h-he t-then told me to u-undress and I d-didn’t want to b-but he p-pulled down my j-jeans.”

“Boxers too?”

“No. He… he u-undressed too and…he… he…”

Peter was sobbing so badly now that it was impossible for him to speak further and it took him a few minutes to calm down enough to continue.

“He s-said I w-was… c-cute again and… that he h-had waited so l-long for t-this, f-for weeks. H-he said I was… tempting a-and that he c-couldn’t r-resist. He… he t-told me to… open my m-mouth a-again and s-said h-he would… k-kill me if I b-bit h-him again. H-he g-grabbed my chin a-and c-choked m-me again, f-forcing my m-mouth open.”

A few tears escaped May’s eyes when her heart ached for her poor, sweet boy. Skip had never wanted to be his friend, instead, he had played a sick game with him to gain his trust and eventually abuse him. How could they have been so fucking stupid? Why didn’t they trust their gut feeling about finding it weird that an almost grown-up kid befriended an 11-year-old child?

“Did he kiss you again?” Theresa asked.

“H-he… oh god.” Peter broke off, weeping bitterly. His next words were barely audible through his sobs. “H-he… p-put his… t-thing…into…m-my m-mouth.”

May let out a strangled cry, and in a swift motion, Ben took his arm off Peter’s shoulder to bury his face in his hands. He wished he could also cover his ears, because it was too horrible and too painful to hear, Then, he realized that Peter, who was clearly on the verge of breaking down, might have mistaken the action as a form of rejection, and so Ben quickly pulled him into an embrace. Unlike earlier when May had hugged him, Peter winced this time, but Ben’s continued muttering of ‘I’m so sorry’ seemed to soothe him after a while. When Ben pulled back, his shirt was drenched by Peter’s tears. “Sorry,” he croaked when he felt Theresa’s gaze, but she only tilted her head gracefully and waited until Peter was ready to continue.

“When you say that Mr. Westscott had put his thing into your mouth… do you mean his penis?”

Peter was shaking worse than ever. “Y-yeah. I… I c-couldn’t b-breathe since h-he was… c-choking me, and I w-was crying and… his t-thing… it w-was so big, I… it m-made me t-throw up. He… he got so m-mad… H-he d-dragged me o-over to the k-kitchen b-by h-holding onto my h-hair and m-made me w-wash my mouth, saying that… he w-wouldn’t l-let his t-thing be b-besmirched by a… w-whore l-like me and said t-that… if I didn’t p-pull myself t-together n-now, he w-would b-beat the living d-daylights out of m-me.”

“What did he do then?”

“H-he pushed me d-down on m-my knees and… he d-did it a-again. P-put his t-thing back i-into m-my mouth.”

“By ‘thing’ you mean his penis again?”

“Yes. He… he r-rocked his h-hips b-back and f-forth and… h-he… t-there was s-something s-spilling f-from his… t-thing, I think…it… it tasted kinda b-bitter.”

Beside him, Ben retched faintly, and May couldn’t blame him. The fact that this fucking pervert had ejaculated in her nephew’s mouth, who didn’t even have a clue what that even meant, was so outright despicable that she felt like throwing up herself. She couldn’t even imagine how hard it must be for Peter to sit here and talk about it, and she hoped, that he would forgive them one day for failing to protect him.

“Did he withdraw his penis from your mouth then?”

“Yes, and I… I spit the… the s-substance to t-the floor but… it m-made him r-really m-mad and… h-he d-dipped his f-finger into it and s-smeared it o-onto my t-tongue. I t-threw up again. Then h-he pushed me t-to the floor, and… he s-said I would h-have to s-swallow everything n-next time.”

“What happened after he had pushed you to the floor?”

Peter was sobbing even harder, taking his time to speak further. “H-he s-said… t-that he w-wanted to make me f-feel g-good and… he p-pulled d-down my… my b-boxers and t-touched me again. I t-tried to f-fight but… he c-caught my hands and… s-straddled me and w-when I s-screamed he… p-put his hand o-over my m-mouth and n-nose. I c-couldn’t breathe, but t-then he l-let go and… he t-touched me and it w-wasn’t good, I… I h-hated it.”

“Where did he touch you and how long did it last?”

“My… my thing. I… I d-don’t know f-for how l-long. He s-stopped after a w-while but… but…” Peter started to hyperventilate a little, and when May then took his sweaty hand into her own, the boy held onto it so tightly that it almost hurt. He squeezed it until he managed to calm down.

“So…you said that he stopped, but implied that he did something else. Can you elaborate on that?” Theresa asked.

“I f-felt… I t-think he… p-put his…his finger…” Peter closed his eyes and had to take a few more, slow and steady breaths.

“Did he put his finger inside you?”

Peter nodded his head, crying without restraint. At this point, Ben couldn’t even think straight anymore. He would kill that son of a bitch.

“I’m sorry, Peter, but you have to use your own words and tell me where he put it. You can’t say thing now or it will get confusing. You can think of an easy word, I’m sure we’ll figure it out. So, where did he put his finger?”

“I-Inside… m-my…b-bottom.”

“Did it hurt?”

“Y-yes… s-so much. It… felt like it s-split me o-open. He then… l-licked his finger and p-pushed it in again and… I t-think a s-second f-finger as well or m-more, I’m n-not s-sure but it f-felt d-different, b-bigger kinda.”

“You sure it was his fingers and not something else, like… an object or his penis?”

For a few seconds, Peter stared at her with wide, horrified eyes, before eventually shaking his head. “N-no, I…he c-couldn’t h-have, he… he w-wore his b-boxers at t-that point and… w-was too far a-away. I’m s-sure it was… a finger, b-but I d-don’t k-know how m-many.”

“It’s alright, thank you for telling me. How long did he do that?”

“I d-don’t know but I… I was s-screaming so m-much and… s-suddenly he w-withdrew the fingers. He s-stilled h-held me d-down t-though and then he opened his b-boxers again and… he t-touched himself, m-moaning and… after a w-while h-his thing s-spilled more of the s-substance.”

“Did he make you swallow parts of it again?”

“No, it… there were drops on my b-belly and c-chest, and… t-then he a-almost c-crushed me. H-he… he then cleaned me with a t-towel and… t-told me to get dressed.”

Under different circumstances, Ben and May would have probably felt relieved now, but everything Peter had told them today was ringing in their eyes over and over again, planting images in their head that almost made them throw up. They listened to Peter talking about getting dressed and out of the house, but sadly, Skip hadn’t let him go yet.

“Why did he take you into the alley?”

“He said… he said he wanted more discipline in the future and…,” Peter drawled, feeling now, that the worst part was over, less anxious but more tired and empty, “He told me to k-keep quiet since everyone conducted experiments with each other, e-even… Uncle Ben and Aunt May. He also said they w-would be d-disappointed if they heard how stupidly I had b-behaved. He also p-pointed out that he w-was my only f-friend and that he knew me better than B-Ben and May… and he…” Peter almost choked on his words and glanced fearfully at the two adults.

“Do you want to speak to me in private?” Theresa asked and Ben and May held their breaths. The boy didn’t respond, but instead, lowered his head, looking defeated. After a few more moments, Peter pulled himself together and spoke, but it wasn’t directed at the officer in front of him. “Do you… do you think I’m a nuisance?” His voice was so quiet it was almost inaudible.

For a few seconds, Ben and May were stunned and stared at him in horror? “What? Why… would you think that?”

“He… he s-said… he said you t-told him that y-you never h-had a chance to s-say no w-when they g-gave me to you and… that I r-ruined your l-life plans.”

Both Peter and Ben jumped, when May shot up from her seat, furious. “That fucking piece of shit!” she yelled, tears spilling from her eyes. Peter had certainly never heard her swear before, at least not this badly, and she almost felt the need to apologize when he stared at her in shock. Almost. She had never been so angry and desperate in her life.

“Peter… listen to me”, May said, sitting down again and cupping both of his shaking hands in hers. “When we… heard what happened to your mom and dad… It would be a lie to say that we were prepared for it, and it wasn’t easy the past few months. But you have to know… your uncle and I… we always wanted kids, but shortly after we got married, we found out that we would never have a biological child of our own. Our last hope was that one day, an adopting agency would eventually find us suited and let us adopt a child. Years went by and… we knew it was futile. But then this horrible accident happened and while it was the worst thing that could have ever happened, it also gave us you. We love you so much and there’s nothing in the world, nothing, that could ever make us stop loving you.”

All three Parkers were crying now, neither of them caring that they were at a police station with an officer right in front of them when they hugged. Peter was squashed between his aunt and uncle, but he hardly tensed for more than a few seconds. Ben gave him a kiss on the forehead and sobbed. “Skip only said those things to destroy and isolate you, trying to make you stay loyal and feel devoted to him.”

And finally, Peter believed them, despite a mean voice inside his head, sounding awfully familiar to Skip, was still whispering to him that they were lying.

“I uhm… I hate to disturb, but I’m not finished”, Theresa interrupted ruefully, and the Parkers gave a start.

“Oh gosh, I’m… I’m sorry,” May mumbled, going red in the face, but then she noticed that Theresa’s eyes were slightly wet too. Still, the woman somehow managed to keep up her professional demeanor. “It’s alright, I completely understand. Peter, can you tell me if there’s anything else that happened before Skip let you alone?”

Peter nodded and told her that Skip had kissed him one last time before destroying his bike and telling him to make up a story about getting into an accident. Lastly, he confirmed that he had been lying to Ben and May ever since, and recounted what happened yesterday when he told them about the porn magazines. Finally, Theresa closed the file on her table and smiled proudly. “Thank you, Peter, you’ve been very brave. I’m sure, your aunt and uncle are very proud of you.”

“Couldn’t be prouder”, Ben said quickly, and May, who nodded, added, “I could have never done what you did today, baby. You’ve been so strong and brave.”

They listened closely when Theresa told them about Rape Kits. She pointed out that it was highly doubtful to find usable DNA evidence more than 72 hours after an assault and considering that everything had occurred more than two weeks ago, it was as good as impossible. In the end, the boy didn’t consent to it since he didn’t want to have to endure the examination, and therefore, Ben and May didn’t want to force him either, especially if it was useless anyways.

They wanted to know what happened next, but Theresa could only assume at this point. “If you’re lucky, they will take Skip into custody as soon as possible, and keep him there until the trial.”

“Will I have to testify again?” Peter asked fearfully, and his eyes widened in horror when Theresa nodded. “I’m afraid you will, but…there are ways to make it easier for victims of sexual offenses, especially if they are children. It might be best if you talked to a lawyer about that.”

Peter didn’t miss the faint gasp coming from May and Ben at these words.

After a few more minutes, they were finally allowed to leave. The ride back home was quiet, but as soon as they were inside the house, May pulled Peter into a close hug again, sobbing even more violently than before.

“I’m so sorry baby,” she cried.

“W-what for?” Peter whimpered and buried his face in her shoulder.

“That we couldn’t protect you from him,” Ben answered in her place, “I promised your dad that I’d always keep you safe but… I failed.” He smashed his fist against the nearest wall, startling the other two. Peter couldn’t bear to see his uncle so broken and bit down on his lip in a feebly attempt to stop it from quivering.

“I’m sorry,” he whispered, and Ben wailed. “No, Pete… Fuck! There’s nothing you have to be sorry for, there’s nothing you could have done to prevent this monster from hurting you! This would have been our job! You were… you were so brave today; your mom and dad would be so proud... just like we are.”

The three went in for yet another tearful hug, and although some wounds would probably never heal fully, they knew that they would get through this. Somehow. Someday. Together.


They didn’t visit May’s family over the holidays to give Peter more time to heal and recover from everything. Two weeks later, he still didn’t seem to remember how to laugh or feel happy again, but after the first therapist session he got a little less jumpy and less scared at least. Eventually, the nightmares declined in frequency too, and Peter could focus back on school and the approaching trial.

After Peter’s testimony it had only taken a few hours for the local police chief to get a search warrant for Mrs. Westscott’s apartment. Sadly, they weren’t able to find any porn magazines, but they confiscated Skip’s phone and laptop, restoring everything he had deleted in a matter of days. There were deleted messages which hadn’t even gone through to Peter’s phone anymore, where Skip told Peter to “fuck off” while threatening to “skin him alive if he ever told anyone anything”. In addition, Skip had deleted a lot of pictures of young, half-naked, boys from his electronic devices, and while those didn’t count as child porn, it still indicated his interest in younger boys. Last but not least, Skip’s search and browser history revealed that he had tried to get his fingers on real child porn for months, and on his social media accounts, there were even three chat protocols with other minors whom he had tried to befriend or asked for nudes, which, gladly, had never worked out.

All in all, it had been enough to arrest Skip three days after the house search, though no matter what the officers confronted him with, he denied everything. Since Skip was still a minor and they didn’t have direct proof for Peter’s accusations, the judge set a bail his mother could actually afford, getting Skip out of pretrial imprisonment only a few days after his arrest. When she was confronted with the pictures, chat protocols and, especially, Peter’s testimony by their own lawyer, she pleaded with Skip to get psychological help and confess, so that their lawyer could make a deal with the state attorney. To her sorrow, her son refused, calling her the worst excuse of a mother for not believing him.

When Peter’s therapist told him, that Skip was actually sick and should go to therapy too, the boy felt almost bad and guilty for getting him into trouble, probably even ruining his life if he got convicted. He had had nightmare about that for two days, before he overheard their lawyer, Mrs. Shawn, telling his aunt and uncle about Skip trying to get naked pictures from other boys his age. Peter confined in Ben and May later that day, telling them about his conflicted feelings, and after a long talk, they assured him that he was doing the right thing and that his testimony could help save other children from getting harmed.

In June, the trial started. Peter would never know how he got through the day, but with Ben’s and May’s support and the presence of his therapist, he actually managed to testify in a separate room while his statement was being broadcasted into the courtroom for the jury. Peter knew that he would have never been able to talk about it while having to face Skip and the spectators, because even though the only people actually present in the room were Ben, May, his therapist and the judge, he needed a break every now and then, and sometimes, he could hardly speak due to his heavy sobbing. Mrs. Shawn and the state attorney, who were seated in the court room with Skip’s lawyer and the others, did an amazing job, successfully objecting every horrible, unreasonable question Skip’s lawyer tried to ask. All in all, the jury believed Peter over Skip and found him guilty of § 130.50 First Degree Criminal Sexual Act and § 130.67 Second Degree Aggravated Sexual Abuse. Given that Skip had still been a minor when the act was committed and that it was a ‘he-said-she-said-case’, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison, less than half of what he could have gotten.

It took Peter two more years and many, many therapist lessons until he wasn’t eyeing older men suspiciously anymore and stopped flinching at every sudden touch. Sadly, he was still as shy and introverted as ever, as well as horribly lonely. However, when Peter was in Eight Grade, a new boy named Edward transferred into his class. Since he was more than just a little chubby, he immediately became every bully’s newest victim. Peter was way too scared to intervene, but one day, when he was sitting at the lunch table alone, just like always, he noticed someone staring at him. He looked up and saw right into Edward’s eyes. “Uhm…sorry, but… is this seat taken?”

The flashback sent an instant shiver down Peter’s spine, but he tried to breathe steadily and, after a few seconds, he curtly nodded his head. Normally, Edward used to sit by himself too, but today it seemed more crowded for some reason, leaving the boy with no other choice than to join someone else’s table.

“Watch out, Parker, or Fat Ass will eat all your food,” Josh said when he was walking by, earning himself a High-Five from his mates. “And not just your food,” Kevin chuckled, “he’d probably devour you too.” The other kids laughed and in contrast to Peter, who had become a master in ignoring them, Edward couldn’t prevent some tears from running down his cheek, dropping into his mashed potatoes. It made Peter feel awful, and he decided to make an effort.

“Ignore them, they’ve always been idiots,” he said silently and Edward’s head jerked up. “Really?”

“Yeah… Jar-Jar-Binks is like Stephen Hawking, compared to them.”

“Do you like Star Wars?” Edward asked and suddenly, his eyes were gleaming with excitement.

“Uhm… yeah…a lot, actually.”

“I’ve been a complete nerd ever since I was born,” Edward beamed, “go on, ask me anything, I bet I know it.”

Peter tried, and Edward seemed to know the right answer to anything indeed.

“Not bad, Edward,” Peter finally said appreciatively, making the other boy smile with pride. “Told you I know everything. Oh, but… you can call me Ned if you want, it’s what… friends call me.”

Ever since then, the boy’s spent every free minute between their lessons to talk about movies, comics, superheroes and eventually, science, physics and technology. Ned was almost as highly talented as Peter was, even more so, actually, when it came to technology. Even though the trauma was still impending over the Parkers like a dark shadow, threatening to suffocate them someday, Ben and May eventually trusted Ned enough to let Peter visit him. Soon, the boys were inseparable, but Peter still never told Ned about Skip, not wanting him to think he was ‘damaged goods’.

Months later, the friends were beyond joy when they were both accepted into Midtown High School of Science and Technology and it was then, that Peter actually developed his first crush on a girl, filling him with relief that he, at least for the time being, didn’t seem to be gay. Not that he had anything against people who were, but he thought that it would probably be easier for him to get intimate with a girl rather than a boy. One day. When he was ready. Eventually, Ned sent him a link to an erotic video, and although it couldn’t quite be qualified as explicit porn, it still took Peter a few days to be confident enough to watch it. To his great relief, he wasn’t disgusted by the kisses and touches exchanged between the mostly naked actresses and actors, and he actually felt aroused for the first time in his life. After a few more weeks, he eventually touched himself, carefully and not without getting hit by the one or other flashback, but in the end, it made him feel amazing. It took him a little longer to stop being disgusted by cum, but at long last, he made his peace with it.

All in all, Peter was on his best way to overcome his trauma for real, and he was unbelievably thankful that he had May, Ben and Ned in his life. He knew that he’d always be able to rely on them, and that they would help him overcome any obstacle thrown in his way.

Epilogue – Day 3,913 (1,987)

Skip curses when his alarm wakes him up at 6:00 pm. He despises having to do the night shift in that god-awful sandwich shop, but with his criminal record and lack of high school diploma, he didn’t have a lot of options when he got out of prison a few months ago. Grumpy and tired, Skip drags his feet over to the fridge to grab an energy drink, before slouching on the sofa. He turns on the TV and switches to the local news channel, knowing the sports news would come on soon. When he sees that the news report is yet again showing recordings of the attack in London, Skip turns his attention to one of the sports magazines on the coffee table. He’s still on page one when he hears a name that makes him almost spill his drink.

“…until Peter Parker finally answers to the serious accusations against him.“

Aghast, Skip stares at the TV screen with wide eyes, cursing the studio for turning to a different report a second later. It’s probably a coincidence, but that name has been haunting him for more than 10 years now. There’s hardly a week that goes by without Skip thinking about the little asshole who not only ruined him, but also gifted him the prettiest memory in his miserable life. He has searched Social Media for the boy when he got out of prison, but there are more than one hundred “Peter Parkers” in New York alone, not counting those who doesn’t even use their real name on Social Media.

Still, he has to know for sure, so Skip fetches his phone and googles “QDTV Peter Parker”. He clicks on the very first article, titled “Peter Parker presumably in hiding!“, and gasps when he sees the big photo displayed in the right corner. He looks a lot older now, obviously, but there’s no doubt; smiling at him is the boy who made his life hell. He looks… cute, actually, somehow still not completely ridden of his innocence and naivety despite him being what… 21 or 22 by now, assuming he hadn’t blipped? But…why would he be in hiding? Is Peter’s life as messed up as his?

With a smug satisfaction, Skip starts to read the article.

“Earlier today, the NYPD and FBI have confirmed that the whole city is being thoroughly searched for high school student Peter Parker (16). The teenager was last seen three hours ago swinging around Madison Square Garden in a whole new Spiderman suit, where he was watching the first live broadcast of the shocking video in unison with hundreds of pedestrians.”

Ok, why the fuck would Peter be “swinging” around in a Spiderman suit?

“Eye witnesses report that Spiderman fled the scene only seconds later, which could classify as an act of guilt. The question remains, if it’s really a 16-year-old kid hiding behind the mask of our friendly neighborhood superhero, and if he’s capable of committing such horrid crimes after NYC media outlets considered him Iron Man’s successor and new leader of the Avengers. Neither S.H.I.E.L.D., nor the other Avengers or Stark Industries have issued any statements for now, staying as silent as Peter Parker/Spiderman himself.”

Skip is speechless for a while, not able to actually comprehend anything of it. Why are they wording it like…Peter is Spiderman, like… the real one?

He reads the article three more times, shaking his head bewilderedly. Peter Parker, the tiny, lonely nerd whom he forced to suck his dick all those years ago, should be fucking crime-fighting Spiderman, who’s part of the Avengers and who apparently fought side-by-side with Iron Man and Captain America against the guy who had killed half the universe? Skip even remembers Tony Stark stating that Spiderman died in the Blip, although not on Earth, but somewhere in fucking space.

Skip then watches the video linked to the article, but there was no way for him to tell if the voice is Peter’s or not. He couldn’t care less about the whole Is-Spiderman-A-Murderer debate, but he definitely wants to see more pictures of the boy.

After looking around for hours, his work shift long forgotten, a new article on TheDailyBugle.net catches his attention. They have already managed to dig deep, writing about his dead parents and, Skip raises both eyebrows, his deceased uncle Ben fucking Parker, who died when Peter was 14, leaving the boy without any other blood relatives. Apparently, Peter lives with May in an apartment in a rather poor district in Queens and, according to the records, both died in the Blip. In the early morning hours, photos from Peter’s private Instagram account start to spread, and Skip can’t help but think that the little fucker is still perfect, despite being a bit old for his taste… The pictures fill him with a longing so severely that it hurts, but Skip needs to keep a clear and cool head right now. The Dailybugle is shady enough to have contacts inside the NYPD, and if they pay enough, they will surely find out about the trial… So, if the story eventually got out anyways, he would be stupid if he didn’t try to make the best of it, right? A few minutes later, he’s already dealing a number.

“Dailybugle.net, Mariana Hobbs, how can I help you?”

“Hey. For now, I want to stay anonymous, but I know Peter Parker. That little shit ruined my life when he was only eleven years old. For a little… reward, I’d be willing to tell you an exclusive story that will make your hair stand on end.”