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Never Be the Same

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If his Papa saw the way he was dragging his feet against the pavement, he’d surely have something to say to the tired nineteen-year-old. As it was, Peter was exhausted. He had been patrolling too late last night, only remembering last minute about a big English test, and raced home to cram. Tony was always telling him to develop better study habits, and focus more on school than Spider-Man. And it really had worked for a while. Rhino had put a bit of a dent in that (pun unintended). 

The first thing he did when he got home was head to the kitchen. Steve insisted on having a fruit bowl set out on the counter because Peter inherited Tony’s poor eating habits when his mind was elsewhere. Having it there was rather convenient, however, and Peter wasted no time taking a large bite out of an apple. All Peter planned for the rest of the afternoon was to sleep. Do his homework after, of course, and then head out to patrol for the night. 

Things settled into a comfortable routine in the years following him getting bitten by a radioactive spider. Neither Steve nor Tony had taken the news well that their teenage son was the one swinging around New York City in spandex. In fact, Tony had taken Peter’s suit away once they learned. It didn’t stop him, though, and he snuck out of the house later that night and took down Vulture without either of them knowing until after the fact. The beach catching on fire because of a downed plane wasn’t as easy to hide. 

Peter remembered fondly of his Dad giving him his first Spider-Man suit. He didn’t wear it anymore, so Tony hung it up in the same room as all his old Iron Man suits. With that suit came his lovely AI Karen. Even now, when Peter made his own suits, he always made sure to add her. Peter didn’t upgrade her as often as Tony did with JARVIS, and later FRIDAY, but she was always nice to have around. If the incident with Rhino was anything to go by, Peter was thankful for her emergency protocols. 

He’d only stepped one foot into his bedroom when his phone suddenly buzzed in his pocket. Patting at his pockets, it took him a minute to realise it was his self-dubbed Spidey Phone ringing. Him and Yuri had only been working together a few months, and she was still, understandably, a bit wary of him yet. But even she knew he wouldn’t be out in his suit until later. If she was calling this early in the afternoon, it had to be for an emergency. 

“Hey, Yuri. Where’s the fire?” Peter answered, taking another bite of his apple as he dropped his backpack onto his bed. 

“We finally have enough evidence to lock up Fisk for a long time,” Yuri answered. Peter choked a little on his apple at her blunt statement. “If you want to help, I suggest you head to Fisk Tower now.”  

“Thank you, Yuri! I’m on my way now.” 

Throwing his apple in the trash, Peter struggled a minute with getting his suit on quickly and heading out the door. He passed by Steve and Tony in the living room, who both look surprised by Peter rushing by in his suit. Tony opened his mouth to ask, but the front door was slammed close before he could even get anything out. 

Peter didn’t waste any time and quickly swung his way in the direction of Fisk Tower. Excitement ran through his veins at the prospect of finally getting Fisk off the streets. Spider-Man and Fisk have been enemies since roughly a year after Peter first donned the suit. At first, his dads had been hesitant to let their young son handle such a big New York presence. Although, if the Vulture takedown had proven anything, it was that he could easily hold his own. Fisk was a big challenge, and he always escaped whatever plan Peter had come up for his capture. Both legally and physically (Fisk ended up being a big reason that Peter made his webbing stronger, not that he would admit it). 

Police sirens increased in volume as Peter swung closer. Yuri herself was even on scene, shooting whatever of Fisk’s crew stood around the outside shooting at the cops. Yuri looked up and saw Spider-Man swinging towards the building, and since she wasn’t yelling at him to do otherwise, Peter made his way inside. 

As to be expected, the inside was a disaster. Debris laid everywhere and Peter couldn’t help but silently mourn the lost decor of the lavish building. The tall white pillars didn’t look as glamorous when they were littered with bullet holes. There were a few policemen inside, fighting off whatever enemy was closest to them. Fisk’s men were brutal, shooting anything on sight that wasn’t their own crew and making it next to impossible to pass to any of the upper floors. 

“For a bunch of overpaid babysitters, you sure are loyal,” Peter spoke up, alerting to people nearby that Spider-Man was now on scene. It wouldn’t be long before Fisk himself knew, now. He had to make this quick. 

There weren’t as many men on the ground floor as Peter had initially thought. It didn’t take him too long to web them up before making his way up a few floors using the elevator shaft. Explosions shook the building around him, but with Karen’s help, he was able to navigate most of the damage and head straight into Fisk’s private office. Fisk sat at his desk, the sound of the chaos on the floors below him doing little to deter him. 

“If you’re finally doing something right with all your money, I know a few organizations that you can donate to,” Peter quipped, sticking him to one of the walls. Fisk didn’t even grace him with looking up. “You know it’s rude to ignore someone, right? Figured with all the other stuff you do, ignoring someone would be at the bottom of your list. Guess not!” 

Finally putting his pen down and standing up, Fisk shot a nasty look at Spider-Man. “You’re as annoying as you are crafty. You aren’t the only one who’s updated their toys since meeting.” 

Peter’s spider sense rang out in warning, and he was quickly jumping from the wall as a gun shot out towards him. It was built into one of the stone pillars, and seemed to have a heat sensor because it followed Peter’s every move. Fisk was walking away calmly, like he was certain the gun would stop Spider-Man in his tracks. Unfortunately for Fisk, Peter was a lot smarter than his enemies gave him credit for. Without even blinking, Peter coated it in a layer of webs before throwing it so it blocked Fisk’s exit. 

“Where are you going, Willy? We were having fun!” 

Fisk threw his whole body at Peter; whose only warning was a growl coming from the much larger man. Peter prided himself on being able to take a few hits, but the power behind Fisk’s were a lot stronger than the petty criminals he fought every night. With each hit and throw, Peter felt himself go through walls or floors, free falling for a few minutes at a time before he caught himself. Fisk was fighting like he was desperate, which he probably was. He wouldn’t be fighting this hard if he knew he would come out as the winner. 

In the end, Peter was able to secure Fisk in a tight enough web, leaving him hanging upside down in the lobby of Fisk Tower. Peter was covered in scrapes and bruises, his right leg failing him the first time he put any pressure on it. The street in front of the tower was full of news crews, fire and rescue, and police cruisers. Only sparing Yuri a quick look and weak thumbs up, Peter swung himself away, able to avoid putting any weight on his certainly broken leg. 

“Did he use you as a punching bag?” Tony questioned as Bruce worked on casting his leg. It healed some on the swing over to the Avengers Tower, but luckily, he got there before it had to be rebroken to be set properly. Peter already experienced that nightmare once; he’d really rather not have to repeat it. 

“He has remarkably strong walls,” Peter commented instead of properly answering his dad. He knew Tony was just worried, but Peter wanted to focus on the victory of it all rather than the beating he took to accomplish that. “Look—Fisk is locked away now. He can’t hurt anybody else anymore. I know Yuri will tell me about all the loose ends that need to be taken care of, but for now...can we please count this as a win for me?” 

Tony just sighed. “Alright, kid. But it was terrifying for both Steve and I to have to watch on TV our kid limping out of Fisk Tower looking like a slightly better version of a crash test dummy.” Looking over him once more, he just sighed and stood up. “Thank you, Bruce.” 

“Yeah, thank you, Uncle Bruce,” Peter parroted with a grin. Bruce only tended to work on his injuries if they weren’t severe enough to call in the big guns (aka Dr. Cho), and the amount of times he’s had to work on his nephew were far too often to be considered comfortable. 

Not long after, the small family headed back to their home. It was on the edge of the city, but still close enough for Peter to be able to swing quickly when going on patrol or for any sort of emergency. Steve had joked he finally got the white picket fence dream when they first moved into the house as a family, but the two older Stark-Rogers had easily settled into a nice pace of domesticity. Peter didn’t remember anything before Steve and Tony got married, but based on stories from Uncle Rhodey, his dad had been a bit of a partier. Peter knew he was an accident from one of these occasions, and he always thought it was funny when Rhodey told him those stories. His dad didn’t think as much. 

Peter instantly sat himself on the couch, already cursing the classes he’d have to miss so his quickly healing leg wouldn’t be suspicious. The fight with Fisk had taken longer than Peter anticipated, causing him to pout at his missed napping opportunity. 

“What’s got you all pouty?” Tony asked with a chuckle, sitting next to Peter on the couch. Steve sat in the recliner, a small smile on his face as he looked at his family. “You were just begging me to be happy about your victory against Fisk.” 

“I was going to take a nap before Yuri called,” Peter replied, causing both of his dads to laugh. He couldn’t help the smile that filled his own face at hearing the laughter. It didn’t last too long, however, and he was sitting up straighter with a frown. “Something Fisk said bothered me a bit. I don’t really know what he was trying to get at, but...it stuck with me.” 

“You know Fisk was likely just trying to scare you, Peter,” Steve said, gently squeezing Peter’s uninjured knee. “Men like that...when they finally get caught, they try anything to rile you up before they’re locked away.” 

“I know that.” Peter sighed softly. “He said he was the one who ‘kept order in the city’. I’m not sure what he meant because I thought that was the Avengers’ jobs.” 

“A lot of stuff happens behind the scenes,” Tony stated carefully. “The Avengers...we don’t necessarily keep the order. We try to keep the peace.” 

“Plus, even with as many of us there are here in New York City, men like Fisk still get away with a lot,” Steve added. “We try to keep that from happening, but I have no doubt Fisk has something going on we don’t know about yet.” 

“Let’s talk about something else tonight, shall we?” Tony suggested. “Peter still had a big win, so let’s focus on that for the time being. Is there anything you’d like to do to celebrate?” 

Peter shook his head. “I can’t do much anyway with my leg. I’d be more than happy just having a night in with you two.” 

Tony wrapped an arm around Peter and kissed the top of his head. Peter sunk into his dad’s embrace, never embarrassed by the show of affection from either of his parents. “I’m certain I can speak for both of us when I say we’d be more than happy to do that.” 

~*~  

The following morning, Peter stumbled into the kitchen where Steve was already cooking breakfast. When he saw his son sitting at the island, Steve grinned and slid Peter a cup of coffee already made. 

“Thanks, Papa. Where’s Dad?” 

“In the shower. I let him sleep in today since he stayed up worrying,” Steve answered, flipping the omelette he was making. 

“What was he worrying about?” Peter asked, eyebrows furrowed as he tried waking up more for the conversation he was having. He was like his dad—wasn't fully awake until he had at least a cup or two of coffee. “Not about me, I hope.” 

Steve shot him an amused look. “You and I both know the answer to that.” 

Peter groaned. “I hate when you guys lose sleep over me.” 

“Get used to it, that’s just what parents do. Especially if our kid has powers that led him to getting a suit of his own and swinging around the city,” Steve said, chuckling as he set down a plate of breakfast for Peter. “You tend to worry extra with that.” 

Thanking his papa for the food, Peter sat there in silence while Steve finished making breakfast for him and Tony. Peter briefly wondered what they were both up to today that allowed them to have a family breakfast in the middle of the week. 

“Peter! Great, you’re up.” Tony walked into the kitchen and greeted Steve with a quick kiss to the cheek before sitting next to Peter at the island. “I know how much you love being Spider-Man, but since Fisk is locked up now, I can’t imagine your patrols will get too eventful. So, I asked around a bit after you turned in for the night, and I came across an opening for an internship at Octavius Industries. Obviously, you won’t be able to go in until your leg is fully healed to avoid suspicion, but I talked with him this morning already and he said he’d be willing to see you sometime next week if you’re interested.” 

“Octavius Industries?” Peter asked in disbelief. He was now much more awake. “He said he’d meet with me? Oh my God, Dad! Otto Octavius is a genius! I love reading his work on prosthetics and all the advancements he’s made and how it’s impacted medical research. He’s the reason I was so invested with helping you design Uncle Bucky’s newest arm.” He quickly pulled Tony into a hug. “Thank you, Dad!” 

Laughing a bit, Tony hugged Peter back before pulling back with an amused smile. “So, you only helped me with Bucky’s arm because of Otto, huh? And here I thought it was because you wanted to spend time with me?” 

Snorting, Peter sat back on his chair. “Can’t it be both? Anyway, how did you hear about the internship? I thought it was, like, next to impossible to get in there?” 

“Pete, Octavius Industries isn’t the sprawling hub of science that it used to be. Otto recently lost most of his funding for his research and had to let his staff go. He’s got one grant committee still funding him, which is why he’s able to get an intern.” 

“Well I would still love to help him. Maybe we can create something that brings attention to his work once more. Or even gets him more funding,” Peter suggested hopefully. “I’ll head in there as soon as my leg is healed. Thanks again for this, Dad.” 

True to his word, Peter soon found himself being buzzed into a large building the following Tuesday afternoon. He found Otto standing over a work desk with goggles on and tinkering with something in front of him. As soon as the door shut behind Peter, Otto was looking up to see who walked in. Seeing Peter standing there looking only slightly disheveled, he smiled and walked over. 

“Hi, you must be Peter Stark-Rogers. It’s a pleasure to meet you,” he greeted, shaking Peter’s hand. 

“Hi, Dr. Octavius. Sorry I’m late, traffic was a nightmare,” Peter apologized. In truth, he stopped a mugging on the way in, but some things were better to keep to himself than others. 

“Oh, that’s completely understandable,” Otto replied easily. “My office is right over here.” 

“Thank you so much for letting me come in, Dr. Octavius. I’ve admired your work for years now, so when my dad told me about this internship, I was over the moon at the opportunity,” Peter rambled as they walked into Otto’s office. 

“It’s always nice knowing I still have admirers after all this time,” Otto joked. “And please, call me Otto, Peter. If you’re going to be my intern here, formalities won’t be necessary.” 

“You’re letting me intern?” Peter asked in shock. 

“Of course. Your father went on and on about your accomplishments and even shared all the work you’ve created alongside him in his lab. I must say, I’m rather impressed with how bright you are, even from an early age.” 

Peter beamed. He knew Tony kept out all his Spider-Man work from Otto (because while he and Steve didn’t care about secret identities, he knew how much Peter wanted his own to be kept under wraps), but to hear his dad wanted him to do this made something warm blossom in his chest. Granted, Tony did all, if not most, of the talking to get Peter in, but it was Peter’s work that landed him the internship. 

“Thank you so much, sir. I promise you that you won’t regret letting me help,” Peter said, shaking Otto’s hand once more. 

Otto chuckled. “Of course, I must warn you, with the limited grants I have coming in, work may be a bit slow at times. But I can assure you, your time will be worth it.” 

“Yeah, I get it. Still, thank you so much for this opportunity. Are there any specific times you’d need me to come in? Because I’m still in school...” 

“Don’t worry too much about keeping a strict schedule while interning here,” Otto replied easily. “I’m not going to be too strict about it. Like I said, work will often be slow. As long as you come in about four to five times a week for a few hours, I don’t care when it is. Just make sure to record when you are here.” 

“Thank you! I promise you, Otto, I’ll help you with whatever you need.” 

Chapter Text

Peter loved interning at Octavius Industries. Otto was a brilliant mind to work with. While Peter practically grew up in Tony’s lab, it was always nice to see work from someone else’s perspective. Uncle Bruce was always nice to talk to about things, but Peter felt more independent whenever he worked with Otto. It wasn’t like his dad didn’t let him do his own stuff in his lab (which had turned into their shared lab as Peter grew older), but it had a different feel to be working in a lab not authorized by someone who raised him, or helped raise. 

Otto and him had quickly became a solid team together. Whether it be the more meticulous stuff that Peter (quite often) found himself doing, or testing new things with Otto, Peter was enjoying himself. Steve and Tony seemed relieved that Peter was filling his time with different things as opposed to throwing himself into Spider-Man duties at every moment he could. 

Peter was working in his own office when Otto popped his head in suddenly. He had a habit of showing up unannounced often when they worked together. It caused Peter to quickly learn to make sure he had nothing incriminating out. 

“Hey, Peter. I’m heading out for dinner for a couple hours. Figured I should get out of the lab for a bit. Would you like me to pick anything up for you?” Otto asked. 

Shaking his head, Peter shot him a polite grin. “No, thank you. My Papa is bringing something for me in a bit. Says he’d rather run something for me to eat than starve or eat junk.” 

Otto just chuckled. “Alright, then. I shouldn’t be too long, but in case you leave before I get back, don’t forget to lock up.” 

“I will. Enjoy your dinner, Otto.” 

As soon as Peter heard the door click behind Otto, he was quick to pull his suit out of his backpack. Since he had the time and equipment at his hands, he figured it wouldn’t hurt to work on it for a bit. A particularly aggressive mugger tore up the arm of his suit the previous night, and he hadn’t had a chance to fix it quite yet. It was a simple fix. He wanted to do a quick patrol before heading home for the night, so now would be the best time to work on it. 

“Peter? What project is that?” 

With a yelp, Peter spun around and faced Otto hovering in the doorway. “Dr. Octavius?” he blurted out, slipping back into formalities at the shock. “I, uh. I thought you left.” 

“I realised I left my wallet on my desk on my way to the door.” Otto tried peeking around Peter, who was doing his best to block the view of the Spider-Man suit. “Saw you in here working on something.” 

Swallowing thickly, Peter couldn’t stop Otto from finally seeing the suit laying on the desk behind him. He opened his mouth to speak, but Otto quickly spoke up before he could think of any excuses. 

“Well I can’t say I’m surprised,” Otto stated, surprising Peter. “Your fathers are both part of the Avengers. I’m sure your dad has taught you how to repair suits after a battle. You’re assigned to handle Spider-Man's suit, aren’t you?” 

“Yes,” Peter answered, perhaps a bit too quickly. “I’ve worked on Papa’s suit before, so Dad thinks I’ll be okay handling the material of Spider-Man's.” 

Otto nodded, stepping closer to look at the suit. Peter was still hesitant, but allowed him to anyway. “You know, if you really wanted to minimize damage, you could always do this...” 

~*~  

Swinging around on his webs, Peter adored the freeing feeling he had. Tony had nearly had a heart attack the first time he saw Peter swinging, knowing the man under the mask was his own son. Granted, Peter was still a bit angry at his secret being blown, and probably did more tricks through the air than necessary. At least Clint and Natasha had been amused by his antics that night. 

The trip to FEAST from Octavius Industries wasn’t long. By bus, it would’ve been at least ten to fifteen minutes. By web, he was there in five. It helped that he knew all the shortcuts from numerous nights swinging through. Especially after May started working there. 

Landing on the roof of FEAST, Peter walked over to where he had a backpack stashed behind a planting box and pulled out a pair of jeans and a random light blue t-shirt. It was getting colder out, so before he slipped inside, he pulled on one of his Papa’s hoodies that hung loose on him a bit to keep warm. Steve didn’t know Peter was in possession of this particular hoodie, but both Tony and Peter had a habit of grabbing them anyway, so he stopped trying to remember where they went. 

Once making his way in, Peter headed towards where he assumed May would be at this time—the kitchen. True to his prediction, May was working on lunch to serve while chatting away with the founder of FEAST. 

“Hey, Martin. Didn’t think I’d catch you here this early,” Peter teased, moving further into the room. 

“Oh, ha ha,” Martin replied good naturedly. “I just came down to the kitchen to lend a hand. It’s a colder day out, and preparing soup takes a few people.” 

Peter hummed softly, staring at Martin a moment. “But that’s not all, is it?” 

“Mr. Li here just gave me a promotion,” May announced. “I’ll have more control over things.” 

“Which, honestly, you already do. You’re a great worker, May. You’ve done what’s required of you plus some, which is why you’re getting the new title.” 

“Congrats, Aunt May,” Peter said, pulling May into a hug. “I told you that they love you here.” 

“That we do. Would you like to help?” 

“That’s why I’m here. Just tell me what you need me to do.” 

Roughly a couple hours later, May led Peter into her office. Martin had to step out for a bit to do something, so he left shortly after lunch was served. Closing the door behind him, Peter let out a soft sigh and sat on the couch in May’s office. 

“What’s on your mind?” May asked gently, giving him an encouraging smile as she sat at her desk. 

Peter played with his fingers a moment before letting out another sigh. “How did you and Uncle Ben get together?” he finally asked. 

May looked over at her nephew in surprise before smiling. Getting up from her desk, she sat next to Peter and grabbed one of his hands. “Ben and I met shortly after you were born. He’s Richard Parker’s—your mom’s husband—brother. Richard himself didn’t want much to do with our family since you weren’t his. Mary was upset, but didn’t push him. Ben and I grew close, so he was able to tell her everything about you growing up before she and Richard died. 

“After their deaths, it felt only natural to be there for him. He told me that he didn’t want to ‘intrude’ now that Mary was gone. Of course, I told him he was still welcome to see you. Tony didn’t care for him much at first, you know how he is.” 

“Very overprotective?” Peter mumbled, blushing a little when May just cast him a look. “Sorry. Please continue.” 

“As I was saying, Tony was being, well, himself and didn’t want Ben to use me to get know to you. We were all aware Ben told Mary, at the very least, everything about you after Tony got full custody. So, it took us a few years, and a lot of beating around the bush before we eventually got together. And even then, we didn’t make a big of it. He asked me to dinner one night and we went from there.” May gently tucked a loose curl behind Peter’s ear. “Is there any particular reason you’re asking?” 

Peter sat back on the couch, absentmindedly playing with his aunt’s fingers. “I want to ask MJ out, but I'm not sure how,” he finally confessed. “I’m not even sure she likes me like that anyway.” 

“Well you won’t know for sure until you try. Besides, I’ve seen the way she is around you. I guarantee, whatever you do, she’ll say yes.” 

“You really think so?” 

“Sweetie, I know so. You’re both knuckleheads about it, so it doesn’t surprise me that you haven’t gotten together yet.” May just grinned as Peter gave her a look. “What? Don’t look at me like that, you know I’m right.” 

Peter opened his mouth to reply, but his Spider-Man phone rang, Yuri’s name flashing on the screen. “Hello?” 

“Hey, I got a silent alert from the auction house holding Fisk’s stuff. Do you think you could check it out? Quietly, maybe? I don’t want to get the troops ready if it ends up being nothing,” Yuri said. 

“Yeah, sure. I’m nearby anyway. I’ll give you a call once I know.” 

“Thank you.”  

Peter shot May an apologetic look. “Spidey duty calls. Can we continue this conversation later, maybe?” 

“Of course. Go be a hero.” 

With a chuckle, Peter hurried out of FEAST and suited back up once he was back on the roof. True to what he told Yuri, it didn’t take him very long to get to the auction house. There wasn’t any glaring outside appearance of there being a break-in, but zooming in on the front door, Peter noticed that the lock had been broken, and the door couldn’t fully close. 

Karen picked up on a few heat signatures inside, one of them being on the floor and held at what he assumed was gunpoint. The longer he watched, the more people he noticed were inside. Cursing under his breath, he had Karen scan the outside for the quietest way in, and slunk in through the vents. He was able to take a couple out without any notice, nor leaving the vent system, before hopping down when the coast was clear. The hostage was in the next room, being blocked by a large display of artifacts from Fisk’s collection. 

A nearby door was opened slightly, leading to a private office. Double checking that he wasn’t being watched in any way, Peter slipped inside to look around. Karen was running through security footage to keep tabs on the other people and the hostage while Peter did a quick look around. None of the men seemed intent on killing her, more than likely just wanting to frighten her while they searched for what they came for. 

Right in front of the door was a large statue. Peter could remember seeing it before, but the name of it escaped him. To the right of him was a display of different spears, varying in size and shape. After spotting a nearby pamphlet, Peter let his curiosity guide him as he gently moved the pieces of the statue and set one of the spears in its outstretched hand. When a soft ‘ click ’ sounded, he looked down to see a drawer open. 

“Karen, are you filming this?” he asked softly, flipping through the file that was in the drawer. 

“I always record everything you see,” she responded routinely. “Would you like me to send the video to your fathers?” 

“No, no. I just wanted back-up evidence of this in case anything happens between here and the door,” he said. 

“Peter, I would advise if you don’t want the hostage to be hurt, you’d leave now. It appears the men are making their way to the office to find out what happened to their co-workers,” Karen advised. 

“Oh, shit. Okay.” Peter quickly webbed himself to the ceiling and crawled across it to head out. As he was crawling towards the woman to make sure she was okay, one of the men in masks happened to look up at see him. The man shouted something in Chinese before suddenly, there were multiple guns shooting at him. 

In his haste to wrap up the criminals, Peter dropped the file he was holding. One of the men got loose and grabbed it before running off, not daring to turn around and check if the rest of his buddies were alright. 

“Are you alright, ma’am?” he asked the woman, who looked shaken up, but over alright. “Other than the file, was anything taken?” 

“The file? No, just—” she took a shaky breath. “I’m alright, thank you.” 

Nodding, Peter gave her a quick once over before calling Yuri as he made his way towards home. Taking care of the robbery had taken the rest of the night, and even though he was still hyped up on adrenaline, he had to show Tony and Steve what he found. 

“Dad? Papa?” Peter called out, taking off his mask and turning it inside out so he could hook up to the TV. 

“Both sirs are in the lab downstairs. Would you like me to call them up?” FRIDAY asked. 

“No, that’s alright, I’ll just head down there and do it. Thank you, FRI.” 

Tony was hunched over working on something, more than likely a piece of tech to go into his newest suit, with Steve standing near him. Steve had a smile on his face and the tail end of a laugh leaving his lips when Peter walked in. He must’ve been heard walking in, because both of his dads looked up. 

“Hey. Would’ve figured you’d be out of suit before you met us down here,” Tony said, gesturing to the Spider-Man suit with a screwdriver. 

“I haven’t gone on patrol yet. Yuri called me to check out the auction house holding all Fisk’s things because some silent alarm got tripped,” Peter explained, walking closer to his parents. He winced a little when Steve gently checked out the bruising on his face. “I’m fine, Papa. Nothing more than some bruising. Anyway, there were a lot of guys wearing weird masks. I was on my way to get the hostage out of there when I came across some office type of area.” 

Quickly saving his dad’s work, Peter closed out of the schematics that Tony had up and plugged his mask in to bring up the footage. He fast forwarded a bit until he paused on a clear shot of a mask. 

“I don’t recognize them from anywhere, but they seemed really organized. I think they’re bigger than all the guys that were there tonight.” He fast forwarded again until he got to the file. “I’m already fully aware I have a horrible habit of losing things, so I made sure Karen got this on film. I don’t know what Devil’s Breath is, and there wasn’t a whole lot I read about it within the file. I had to read it quickly, too, so I figured I’d show it to you guys to look over while I go on patrol for the night.” 

“If this is some big organized crime, your best bet is to probably bring it into Fury and let SHEILD handle it,” Tony said, already turning back to what he was doing. 

“Why?” Peter asked, confused. “I took down Fisk, and he was one of, if not the biggest, crime lord in New York.” 

“Because.” Tony sighed. “Pete, look how long Fisk took you to take down. Do you really want to take on something that big so soon?” 

Peter searched his dad’s eyes when he looked up. “I can handle this, Dad.” 

“Pete, please.” 

Sighing, Peter unplugged his mask from the screen. “Alright,” he said, still staring down at his mask. 

“Peter—” 

“I’m going to skip patrol tonight, if that’s alright. I haven’t seen MJ or Ned in a couple days,” Peter interrupted, giving Steve and Tony a small smile. “I’ll give Fury the video tomorrow.” 

Quickly leaving the lab, Peter headed up to his bedroom. It used to be the attic before Tony and Steve bought the house, and Peter had moved up there shortly before the spider bite, and having the privacy made things easier when he was still hiding his powers from his parents. Changing out of his suit and into regular clothes, he sent a text in the group chat with MJ and Ned to meet him at Mick’s for dinner. 

~*~  

“I thought your parents were alright with your vigilante lifestyle,” MJ commented, popping a fry into her mouth. “Isn’t your dad the one who created Karen?” 

“Yeah. I’m not sure what’s going on this time.” Peter sighed. “I can’t help but feel like there’s something bigger here.” 

“Dude, this could be huge. Imagine: you stop Devil’s Breath, whatever it is, and there’s no way your dad can stop you from becoming an official Avenger,” Ned said excitedly. 

“Ned, if stopping Fisk did nothing to sway him, I doubt anything will at this point,” Peter pointed out. “Besides, I’m happy not being an official Avenger at this point anyway. Sure, it would really cool, but look how much pressure they’ve been under lately. I’m happier with the vigilante shtick for now.” 

“Plus, we don’t have much to go off of right now.” MJ scrunched her nose as Ned coated his fries in ketchup. “I hate when you do that. It makes them all soggy.” 

Peter chuckled softly. “MJ’s right, there’s really nothing we can do right now anyway.” 

“Are you going to give Fury the footage, then?” Ned asked. 

“Probably not. I can’t do that knowing I can do something to prevent this. I just have to look more at the footage of the file and see if I can get anything out of this. If this does turn out to be something big, I need to stop it before it can get out of control.” Peter sat back in his seat. “Anyway, let’s talk about something else. How’s Betty, Ned?” 

“Didn’t you two get back together?” MJ asked. 

“Yeah, we did. And she’s great. She’s finishing up her last year in college for journalism and hoping to go into reporting like she was when we were all still at Midtown.” 

“She’d be a great reporter,” MJ replied. “Maybe I can get her a job at the Bugle once she’s finished.” 

“Oh, yeah, how’s that going? Didn’t Jameson leave to do some podcast or something?” Peter asked, remembering the day Jameson announced he was leaving the paper. He always liked slandering Spider-Man, so he may have celebrated at hearing the news. 

“Yeah, he did. They did a lot of rearranging since he left. Big bosses didn’t want to be a gossip magazine like the Bugle ended up being over the years. They actually hired me full time there.” 

“Congrats! I told you they loved you there.” 

A small smile crossed MJ’s face, along with a light blush across her cheeks. “Thanks, Pete. You know, they’re still looking for a photographer...” 

“I can’t right now. My internship is taking up most of my time now, combined with my other job . Thank you, though.” 

“How’s your internship going?” Ned loved the fact that Peter worked at Octavius Industries. The two of them would talk about Otto’s papers for ages whenever they’d first get published. 

“Great, actually. We’re working on new prosthetics and we’ll hopefully have them up and running soon. We’re making great progress so far. If we continue with this, we could change millions of lives,” Peter rambled happily. “Not even my dad has thought of the technology we have put in our latest model. Uncle Bucky even said if we a good up and running product, he’d be more than willing to try it out. I don’t want to do that until later down the line once we work out all the bugs and get ready for testing, but can you believe that? Uncle Bucky is wearing one of dad’s models, and he’s willing to switch to something I’ve made. I helped my dad, of course, but this is different!” 

MJ chuckled. “I’ve never heard you talk this passionately before. Are you sure you don’t love it more than your other job?” 

Peter blushed hotly, but he was smiling anyway. “Any way I can make a difference.” 

They ate in silence for a bit, finishing up their meals and people watching out the window at all the late-night New Yorkers out and about. Or even people watching within the restaurant itself. 

“Hey, have any of you heard from Harry?” MJ asked, looking through her phone. “I haven’t heard from him since his plane took off for Europe. I was hoping for at least a text saying he made it alright, but nothing.” 

Both boys shook their head. “How long’s he supposed to be there anyway?” Ned asked. 

“I don’t know. Few months, I think?” Peter answered. “He said it was some last-minute trip, I believe. Norman wanted him to check out the labs there and see how they’re running.” 

MJ and Ned started talking about something else, and Peter’s mind wandered. He knew, realistically, that Norman was the one who was keeping his place of work open. Otto didn’t say as much, but Peter was clever enough to figure it out. He was also aware Harry had no interest in taking over Oscorp. Harry just wasn’t a businessman like his dad. Norman could be pretty convincing when he wanted to be, so Peter only hoped Harry was alright. 

Chapter Text

Peter loved New York City. Even though it didn’t always love him back, Peter would do anything in his power to protect those who lived within the city limits. Doing patrols was a nightly routine for him. One that he couldn’t ever see himself stopping in any foreseeable future. 

Swinging around the edge of a building while keeping an ear out for any crime, Karen suddenly chimed up with a message. “There’s a bank robbery in progress on fifth. Based on past experiences, I believe it’s Shocker.” 

“Shocker? I thought he just got out of jail,” Peter muttered to himself as he quickly swung his way over to the bank. In the distance, Peter could hear cop cars on their way, but he was faster. “Herman! Glad to see you again, buddy. Is that a suit upgrade?” 

“Silence!” Herman yelled, throwing energy waves at Peter, who easily dodged. 

“Oh, c’mon, Herman. You should know that request will never be fulfilled by me.” Snickering a little to himself, Peter swung over and shut the vault’s door again. He needed to keep Shocker distracted so he wouldn’t get back into it. “I’m telling you, buddy, it isn’t a good idea to get right back into being bad when you just got released.” 

“I’m not doing this for me,” Shocker admitted, using both hands to throw an energy blast at Peter. It hit the pillar behind him and part of the ceiling came down. He cursed and shot another one at the ever-moving Spider-Man. “Stop moving so I can kill you!” 

“Oh, sure, I’ll get right on that.” 

Growling, Shocker aimed at the ceiling, causing a huge chunk of it to fall straight down at Peter. Jumping out of the way, Peter couldn’t help but cough at all the debris in the air. When he looked up, Shocker was running through the front door. 

“C’mon,” he muttered, chasing after him. “Where are you going? We were having a great talk!” 

Shocker didn’t reply as he bounced past the cops waiting in front of the bank and down the road. Peter cursed under his breath and hurried along to keep up with him. Even with all the prodding, Peter wasn’t able to get much more information out of him. When Shocker was finally webbed up and waiting to be picked up, Peter headed up to the top of a nearby building to wait for Yuri to call him. 

“Hey,” she said once she did. “Shocker isn’t doing much talking. Were you able to get anything out of him?”  

“Just that he’s working for someone. Said he wasn’t doing it for himself.” Peter sat on the edge of the building with his feet over the edge. He peered down and watched the cops drag Shocker back to jail. “He just got out today. Who’s visited him recently?” 

“No one. Or at least, no one we can talk to. Everybody’s who come in to see him have died within the past few weeks.”  

“Hmm, that’s weird. Is there any significant pattern?” 

“Not really. Although, the guards all say the visitors’ eye glow a weird shade of blue.”  

“Glowing eyes? That doesn’t sound like anybody I know,” Peter said, confused. “Keep me updated if anybody mentions any glowing eyes.” 

“Will do.”  

After she hung up, Peter continued to sit on the roof. Prior to what Yuri had mentioned, he never recalled seeing anybody with glowing eyes. However, he couldn’t help but think back to the auction house when the masked men were fighting with him. Most of them were holding glowing swords that looked like they were conducting some sort of weird electricity. As he sat there trying to figure it out, he got a text from Steve asking him to come home for dinner if he planned on patrolling any later. Grinning, he sent back a reply and slid off the building to head home. 

“I heard Shocker made an appearance tonight,” Tony commented once they were all sat at the table. “How’d that go?” 

“About as you’d expect,” Peter answered with a bit of a snort. “Took little over an hour ‘cause he was running.” He then sighed. “It seems weird to me the sudden increase in crime lately. Matt was telling me he was having the same problem over in his area. Maybe...maybe Fisk was right. Maybe he was keeping order in the city.” 

“Peter, you can’t think like that,” Steve said easily. “You were dealing with a lot of crime before his arrest as well. There can’t be much of a difference.” 

“No, I know. It’s just...Yuri mentioned her guards have been seeing people with glowing eyes visiting Herman in jail. And all of them have ended up dead. I’m just worried. The last time I saw something glowing, it was the people trying to kill me at the auction house.” 

“What do you mean?” 

Peter set down his utensils and looked at Tony. “I wasn’t thinking much about it when I was showing you the footage a week or so ago, but a lot of them were trying to kill me with swords. And they were glowing with some sort of weird electricity. And it was blue and white.” 

“Coincidence, maybe?” Steve suggested. 

“No, that would be a bit too weird, even for everything we’ve seen,” Tony muttered. He ran a hand down his face. “Let me guess, you never gave the footage to Fury.” 

“No,” Peter admitted quietly. “But I’ve been scanning over it nonstop since I recorded it. I can’t find anything that might suggest an illusion of any kind. Their swords...it's weird. I don’t know where it’s coming from.” 

“I was talking to Matt the other day, and he said something similar. Apparently, the police have been calling them Demons because of their masks.” Steve looked at Tony. “You know—” 

“Yeah, I know. Dinner’s delicious, babe, it really is, but I need to look at that footage before it drives me nuts. Is the file still in your mask, kid?” 

“No, I uploaded it onto a thumb drive." 

“Then c’mon.” 

Tony and Peter quickly made their way into Tony’s home office and the elder plugged the offered thumb drive into his computer. They didn’t have to wait long for the clip to start playing. 

“You said you couldn’t find anything on Devil’s Breath?” Tony asked. 

“Nothing. It’s like it doesn’t exist.” Peter rubbed the back of his neck. “If it’s being held anywhere, it’s secure.” 

Tony nodded and took a screenshot of one of the masks and ran it through FRIDAY’s recognition system to see if there’d be a match of any kind. “Well, according to this, it’s from some sort of children’s book? Something about the balance of power.” 

“Well at least the nickname makes more sense,” Peter commented, sitting on the edge of Tony’s desk. “What are we going to do?” 

“Well, for now, I’ll have FRIDAY running scans to see if anything about Devil’s Breath. For you, on the other hand, just keep doing what you’ve been doing. We won’t be able to do anything until we have more stuff to work with.” 

Peter ran a hand over his face. “Alright, well. Thanks.” 

~*~  

“Morning, Otto,” Peter greeted as he walked into Octavius Industries the following morning. “I come with coffee.” 

“Thank you, Peter. I came in extra early today to make sure the last of the fine tuning was complete before we ran the human test trial today,” Otto explained, gesturing to the arm in front of him in excitement. “If things go well today, we’ll be able to do lots more! This could change everything we’ve been working on.” 

“I’m sure it’ll go great, Otto. Your work on this has been great.” 

“Don’t cut yourself short, Peter. If it weren’t for you, I’m not even sure this would be running as smoothly as it is. You’re a genius in mechanics.” 

Peter blushed at the praise. “I learned most of it from my dad, to be honest.” 

“Either way, I’m confident this will work. It has to, anyway.” 

Furrowing his eyebrows, Peter looked at Otto. “What do you mean? You work off grants, right?” 

“Yeah, but I haven’t had the best track record with successes lately. If this doesn’t work, they’ll pull my funding.” 

Peter looked down at the model, wondering then why exactly he was brought onto the project then. Granted, not much time had passed since he started working there, but the timing of it all seemed suspicious. 

“Don’t worry, Peter, I didn’t hire you to try and get your dad to fund this,” Otto said, as if he was reading Peter’s mind. “I was being honest with you when I said I found your work brilliant. I hired you for your intellect, not your name.” 

A few hours later and the veteran who volunteered to be their test subject was sitting at a table with their prosthetic on. Peter couldn’t help the grin he had on his face as the man slowly reached towards the plastic cup sitting on the table. He and Otto exchanged a happy glance as the cup was able to be picked up. 

The doors suddenly opened and a few people holding bags were walking in. Confused, Peter attempted to stop a couple before his eyes widened as Norman came walking in. Distracted, Peter turned to the veteran and told one of the nearby people if they could at least take the prototype off before sending him to Oscorp. By the time everything was said and done, Otto looked furious and a good amount of their equipment had been taken out. 

Before he could leave, Peter called out, “Hey, Norman? How’s Harry doing? He hasn’t been returning anybody’s calls.” 

“He’s good. Been busy over in Europe with different business functions.” He took a look at Otto before pulling Peter to the side. “You know, if you wanted to work at Oscorp, you’d be more than welcome to. I know Stark and I have that rivalry going, but our doors are always open for you.” 

“I know, thank you. I’ll, uh. I’ll think about it.” 

Satisfied with that answer, Norman left the lab. Letting out a shaky sigh, Peter turned to Otto, who’s sitting at the table where the veteran had been sitting during the testing. 

“I was able to get the prosthetic before they took him to Oscorp to be fitted there,” Peter said lamely. 

“Thank you, Peter.” He sat up with a sigh. “You know, if you want to work elsewhere, I can’t blame you. You can’t exactly do much here. They pulled my funding like I had expected. Wouldn’t even allow me to show them the progress we’ve made.” 

“Is there anything I can do?” Peter asked softly. “I know you said you weren’t using me for my name, but I have a large fund—” 

“I couldn’t ask you to do that, Peter,” Otto quickly cut him off. “Why don’t you just go home?” 

Not wanting to push the matter further and risk upsetting Otto, Peter just silently nodded. 

When he got home, it was just Steve there. He wasn’t scheduled for another mission until the weekend, so he spent his free time either working around the house or doing something art related. Today was the latter. 

“Hey, you’re home early. I thought today was a lab day?” he asked, furrowing his eyebrows. 

“It was.” Peter sat on the couch next to Steve. “I got there and things were going great with the testing. The prosthetic arm was working wonderfully in this stage of programming. We had amazing results, Papa!” 

“So why the long face?” 

Peter's smile fell as quickly as it appeared. He practically melted back into the couch as he relaxed back. “Mayor Osborn pulled Otto’s funding. I didn’t catch what exactly the reasoning was for, but I think I caught something about safety regulations. Anyway, most of our equipment was taken out, including all the necessary stuff we needed to further our research.” 

Steve wrapped an arm around Peter and pulled him close. Peter couldn’t help but lay his head on his Papa’s shoulder. “I’m sorry to hear that, bud. I know how happy working there made you.” 

“Norman even had the audacity to offer me a job right in front of Otto, too. I felt so bad.” 

“What’d you tell him?” 

“That I would think about it. I don’t really want to work at Oscorp, Papa. They made the spider that bit me. Who knows what else they have going on in there.” Peter got more comfortable as he snuggled into Steve’s side. Cuddling with his Papa always made him feel better. He wouldn’t admit it, but he was glad Steve was home today. “Besides, I think Dad would be upset if I did.” 

Steve chuckled softly. “He would, but if he knew if it was making you happy, he wouldn’t say anything. Your happiness comes first to us, you know that.” 

Peter smiled into Steve’s shoulder. “I love you, Papa.” 

“I love you, too, bud,” Steve replied, pressing a kiss to the top of Peter’s head. 

~*~  

Throwing the stress ball into the air before catching it again, Peter let himself fall into the rhythmic motions of making sure the ball didn’t fall anywhere in the area where his dad was working. Steve was off doing something for SHIELD, though he would be back shortly. It was coming up to a short break period for the Avengers, and all Steve had to basically do was help with some wrapping up and head home with the others. 

“Get your feet off the table,” Tony said absentmindedly as he stared at the screen in front of him. Peter caught a hint of a smirk from his dad as he overdramatically groaned and sat up on the couch and took his feet off the coffee table in front of him. “Don’t get mouthy just yet, I have something for you.” 

Quirking an eyebrow, Peter got up and walked towards Tony’s desk. “What do you mean?” 

“FRIDAY caught some footage from one of the warehouses down by the water. There aren't really any consistent patterns that I can see, but some of Fisk’s men seem to go there often enough.” Tony zoomed in closer and pointed to a van that was already leaving. “I’m guessing that it’s some sort of weapon storage? But if these demons are trying to take over, they might hit it at some point. Wouldn’t hurt to take a look.” 

“Alright, I’ll get suited up and swing on over there.” 

“That pun will never be funny,” Tony called towards a snickering Peter as he was leaving. “I’ll let your cop friend know about it.” 

“You’re the best!” 

Once making sure the location was saved onto his suit, Peter took off in the direction of it. On the way, he got a call from Yuri mentioning something about back-up from a guy who knew Fisk’s case inside and out. Apparently with Fisk now in jail, he wanted to help get the next big guy off the street. Which Peter could respect. 

There weren’t many guys guarding the place, so it didn’t take Peter too long to web them up. By the time the officer got there, Peter was waiting for him in front of the building. 

Peter jokingly tapped his wrist. “What took you so long? I did all the hard work.” 

The officer laughed. “My son says the same thing all the time whenever we work on something together.” He offered his hand for Peter to shake, which he did. “Nice grip. I’m Jefferson Davis. I was one of the detectives working the Fisk case. You can call me Jeff.” 

“Spider-Man. I mean you already knew that,” Peter said, smiling when Jeff just laughed. “Anyway, Yuri told me you’re a pretty good cop and she trusted you to help me scope this place out.” 

“That’s a high praise, coming from her,” Jeff said, scanning the outside of the building. “I don’t like the thought of another Fisk out here already. I need to keep my family safe; I hope you understand that.” 

“I do, too, sir,” Peter responded. “It’s why I dress in spandex every night.” 

Jeff nodded in approval before walking to the front door and testing it. “It’s locked. Old building like this probably has other ways in.” 

Peter groaned good-naturedly. “I know what that means,” he stated. “People can just ask me to climb walls, it’s not like I’ll say no.” Behind him, Jeff was laughing. 

After going through a vent on the roof, Peter overrode the lock and opened the door to let Jeff in. With some minor investigation, they were able to find a storage area in the back filled with different weapons and machinery. Jeff was looking at the crates of guns while Peter peered through some fencing at the stuff hidden behind it. Suddenly, there was a loud ‘ bang ’ at the back entrance and a large group of Demons came through. Upon seeing Jeff and Spider-Man, they instantly started shooting. With the two heroes distracted, a small few of them grabbed as many of the weapons as they could before hurrying back out. 

“I’ll get the ones leaving,” he shouted towards Jeff before running out the door. There was a van already hightailing it out of there, and he was quick to go after it. A part of him felt guilty for leaving Jeff back at the warehouse, but if Yuri trusted him, then he was one of the best at his job. He’d be able to handle whoever they hadn’t taken out, even if only for a short period. 

Chasing the van took longer than he would like to admit, skirting around the apartment complex that MJ’s was in. Surely that’d be a conversation she wouldn’t let go of until Peter told her the truth. When he was finally able to get to the truck, he was having a bit of difficulty in getting it to stop. In his haste, he forgot to take out one of the men in the cab, and was currently fighting against the forward motion. Peter held his ground in front of the truck, feeling the concrete giving way under his feet as the driver continued to press down on the gas pedal. 

His muscles were screaming in protest, but at that point, it was too late to try and figure out another course of action. In short: he was stuck. Just as he was about to just let go and let it run over him to try and stop it from the back, there was a loud siren suddenly coming up on him. Peter looked up in time to see a cop car coming down a nearby intersection and hit the side of the truck and jostling it enough so Peter was no longer being run down by it. 

Cursing under his breath, Peter went to check to see if Jeff was alright, forgetting about the Demon momentarily. Just as he was about to head there, a shot rang out, Peter only moving last minute and getting a shot through his arm. Yelling out in surprise, Peter gripped his arm, staring at the Demon in fear. Before he could react, however, Jeff was coming up behind the Demon and hitting him with the butt of the gun and knocking him out. 

“Thank you,” he told Jeff, grinning behind his mask. “How’s everything at the warehouse?” 

“I called in back-up and raced to meet up with you once I knew they were on their way,” Jeff answered. “Only had to take out a couple after you left, so I secured what I could. I think another van took off, though.” 

“Crud.” Peter blows out a frustrated breath. “Are you alright?” 

“Some scrapes, but I’ll be alright.” 

Over Jeff’s shoulder, he could see an ambulance coming and started backing away. “Sirens. That’s my cue. I’ll catch you later.” 

After making sure Jeff would be taken care of, Peter quickly made his way to the Avengers Tower to be patched up. Karen more than likely contacted Tony already about the bullet wound, so Peter would be surprised if his Uncle Bruce wasn’t all ready to patch him up. He already had a headache from the inevitable lecture from his dad. 

“It’s a bit startling how often I find you here,” Tony said dryly as Peter’s sitting on the edge of the hospital bed. Bruce was finishing up his stitching and getting ready to wrap his arm after. “I already told Steve about it, by the way. He won’t give you a lecture, but I will. What the hell?” 

“Look, I really didn’t mean it this time, alright?” Peter was quick to say. “I didn’t see him.” 

“You didn’t—” Tony pinched the bridge of his nose. “Which instance are we referring to? You being shot in the arm, or you trying to stop a large van with someone in the driver’s seat?” 

“Both?” Peter admitted, shrinking a little. “I thought there was only one person in the cab. And I was trying to see if Officer Davis was okay after he hit the side of the van. I wasn’t exactly listening to my spidey sense in either occasion.” 

Tony let out a sigh before pulling Peter into a hug. “I’m sorry for getting angry,” he murmured into Peter’s dark curls. 

“I know you were worried. I’m sorry,” Peter replied, hugging his dad back and burying his face into his dad’s chest. It reminded him a lot of when he was younger and would get scraped up trying to do different things. Like the time he tried climbing a tree and fell out of it and broke his arm. His dad had carried him into the hospital, but he remembered finding comfort in his dad’s embrace. 

Tony pulled back and gently pushed some hair out of his son’s eyes. “You need to find something to do, Pete. You were doing a lot better when you were working for Otto.” 

“I want to go back there, Dad, but you know I can’t.” 

“Last I heard, he was still in the same building,” Bruce piped up. Peter felt bad for momentarily forgetting about him. “He doesn’t have any funding, I don’t think, but the building still belongs to him.” 

“Try seeing if you can help him out or something. Please, kid? All this overwork you’ve been doing chasing after the Demons and finding the last of Fisk’s men have run you ragged. Do something for yourself again.” 

Peter sighed softly. “I’ll head in tomorrow after my classes and see what I can do. If anything, I could maybe suggest a dononation?” 

Tony playfully rolled his eyes. “Don’t push it, kid.” 

Grinning, Peter pressed a kiss to Tony’s cheek, who feigned disgust and shooed Peter out of the room. Peter just laughed, getting the reaction from his dad that he was aiming for and went out to head home. 

~*~  

Even though he had been there numerous times, Peter never quite got over how loud the door was when it closed behind him. It never failed to startle him, even when he was trying to close it quietly. 

“Peter? What are you doing here?” 

Peter turned from where he was glaring at the door to see Otto walking up to him from his workbench. “Hi, Dr. Octavius. I, um. I still want to work for you here. To help, you know, with the prosthetics and making a difference.” 

“I don’t have any funding—” 

“I know that,” Peter cut him off, wincing as he did so. May would be hitting him upside the head if she knew he had cut off his boss. “And I know you don’t have much to really work with at the current moment, but I’m still willing to help you to the best of my abilities.” 

Otto chuckled softly, shaking his head. “I knew I hired you for a reason.” He sighed softly. “Alright, I can’t say no to you anyway. And remember what I said about calling me Otto.” 

“Of course. Thank you, Dr— thank you, Otto.” Peter shook Otto’s hand before following him to see what he was currently working on. 

The TV nearby was playing the news, currently reporting about a string of break-ins that Spider-Man stopped. Smiling to himself, Peter reconfigured the circuits for Otto’s newest design of arms he had started. Peter had to admit— they were great. Based on Otto’s notes, he was trying to steer their work towards neural interface. 

“This just in: Osborn has announced that during Saturday’s Osborn rally, they will be rewarding Officer Jefferson Davis with a medal of honor for his bravery during last night’s events. Last night, Spider-Man gave chase to a van containing multiple stolen weapons with a Demon behind the wheel. After failing to succeed in stopping it, Officer Davis took matters into his own hands and was able to stop the Demon from making off with the weaponry,” a woman reported. Peter briefly wondered if Betty was wanting to do that type of reporting professionally again, or if she wanted to join MJ with writing articles. 

“I can’t believe he’s using what Officer Davis did to promote his campaign,” Otto commented, shaking his head in disbelief. 

Peter tuned the rest of the segment out as he focused on the older man in front of him. “I’m sure if last night didn’t happen, he’d find something else to use,” he joked. 

“Sad part about that, Peter, is he probably would.” Otto let out a tired sigh. “I think I’m going to take a bit of a break, if you don’t mind. Feel free to keep working if you’d like.” 

His phone went off in his pocket, and Peter pulled it out, seeing the time before reading the text he had gotten. “I should probably head home anyway. I think Papa is supposed to be home tonight, anyway. I want to be there when his plane lands.” 

“Have a good night, Peter.” 

“You too, Otto.” 

Hanging his lab coat up quickly, Peter grabbed the backpack he brought along with him and left. As he rode the bus home, he remembered he had gotten a text from someone and forgot to answer. 

[From: MJ]  
hey, loser. they assigned me to cover osborn’s rally tomorrow. wanna join?  

[From: Peter]  
sure (: we can invite ned and make a day of it?  

[From: MJ]  
yeah, sure. i'll let him know  

“You know, she was trying to ask you out,” a voice spoke up from over Peter’s shoulder. 

Peter yelped, looking up to see Wade sitting the seat next to his, smirking in amusement. “Wade? What are you doing here? And why are you reading my texts?” 

"Well, Petey, on the rare occasions it happens, I do leave my house. Out of suit, anyway. And I’m nosey. Saw you sitting here and decided to make myself comfortable.” Wade stretched an arm out and laid it on the chair behind Peter’s head. “Now, I know you don’t know how to resist my charm, but—” Peter snorted. “ But you are totally oblivious. Even white and yellow are mocking you.” 

“Well if they’re in on the action, then I’m totally hopeless,” he stated dryly. “Seriously, though. How did you even know?” 

“For one, I’ve met her. I’ve seen with my own eyes how she looks at you when you’re not looking.” Wade playfully poked Peter’s nose, causing him to grin. “Secondly, because I know her, I know this was her way of trying to ask you out.” 

“Shit,” Peter cursed. Just his luck. “I basically turned her down. What if when I do try to ask her out, she turns me down because she thinks it’s a joke or something?” 

Wade let out an overdramatic sigh. “Oh, Pete. Self-deprecation is not your thing. Stop stealing my things. I have so little to my name anyway.” 

“That’s your own fault, Wade. If you learned how to pick up after yourself, your stuff wouldn’t go to shit.” Peter poked Wade back. “We should hang out later, when I’ve got the free time.” 

“Shit, baby boy, I’ll patrol with you, if you want.” Wade grinned. “I promise I’ll be on my best behavior.” 

Peter laughed. “You know what? That sounds like fun. I miss our patrols anyway.” He pulled his phone back out of his pocket. “Speaking of! You’ve changed your number again, haven’t you? I’ve been trying to text you, but the last time I did, it said the number was disconnected.” 

"Yeah, Weasel gave my personal to a client.” Wade grabbed Peter’s phone and snorted again at the texts to MJ before exiting out of them and updating his contact. “I still can’t believe you turned down the girl you’ve been mooning over since high school.” 

“I’m a mess.” 

“A cute mess.” 

Peter blushed, grinning up at Wade. “Why Wade Wilson, are you flirting with me?” 

“Have been since we met, sweet cheeks. Glad to know you’re finally catching up there.” Wade winked. 

"You and I met just after I turned eighteen,” Peter pointed out. 

“I know,” Wade said happily, bouncing his legs as he did so. “White and I were so happy to find out you’re legal.” 

“Wade, you’re in your mid-thirties. I wouldn’t even—” There was a sudden finger to his lips, stopping him mid-sentence. He playfully glared at the merc. 

“Don’t ruin the illusion, bubble butt. You and I both know you’d tap this if you weren’t so googly-eyed over that girl of yours.” 

“Aren’t you married?” Peter asked, slapping Wade’s hand away. 

“Not in this fic.” 

Wade was quite the character, that much was certain. Peter used to hang out with him all the time as he was finishing up high school. He had turned eighteen the summer before his senior year, but Wade had a slight freak-out when he learned Spider-Man was still a high school student. Thankfully, he calmed down once Peter told him his age and grade. 

“Anyway, MJ will totally take it in stride,” Wade told him honestly. “She went to school with you for how many years? She totally knows how oblivious you can be.” 

“Still hurts.” 

“Still true.” 

Chapter Text

“Hey, Pete, can you bring this box up to my office, please?” May asked, sliding a box across the kitchen counter to Peter. 

Peter nodded, lifting it up and pretending to groan under the weight. “What’s in this? Rocks?” 

May shot him an unimpressed look. “Paperwork.” 

Grinning, Peter turned to head up to May’s office at FEAST when he nearly ran into Martin. “Oh, oops! Sorry, Martin.” 

“No worries, Peter.” Martin gave him a small smile before walking around him and heading to May. Curious, Peter turned to face them while hovering in the doorway. “May? I’m heading out of town for some time for some personal time. In the meantime, you’ll be in charge of both centers.” 

“Is everything okay?” Peter asked, concerned by Martin’s words. He hadn’t ever taken personal time away long enough to need to temporarily appoint someone to his position. 

“And how long will you be gone?” May added. 

“Yes, everything is alright, I promise. And I’m not sure, yet, how long I’ll be gone.” He paused speaking a moment and looked into the nearby cafeteria. “Take care of it, will you? I have faith in you to do it well.” 

“Of course, Martin,” May reassured. “Take care of yourself.” 

A low buzz at the base of his skull alerted Peter at Martin’s words. Something wasn’t sitting well with him. “Will you be going to the ceremony on Saturday, then?” he couldn’t help but ask, catching Martin’s attention. “They’re honoring Officer Davis.” 

Martin’s mouth quirked up into a hint of a smirk, but it quickly transformed into a smile. If Peter hadn’t been paying attention, he would’ve easily missed it. The difference was a subtle one. “I wouldn’t miss it. I hear it’s going to be quite memorable.” 

The phrasing sounded a little weird to Peter, but he simply brushed it off. Instead, he nodded in response and moved to the side so Martin could leave the way he came. He watched Martin walk away for a moment before letting out a sigh and bringing the box still in his arms up to May’s office. 

Once he got home for the day, he went down straight to the lab and pulled up the footage from any fights he had been in with the Demons since he first met them. He wasn’t quite sure why, but Martin’s words from earlier left a weird feeling in his stomach that he couldn’t quite explain. 

“Master Stark has been running the footage through every database he can over the past week. Would you like me to pull up the results he’s found?” FRIDAY’s voice rang out, startling Peter a bit. 

“Uh, yes, please.” Peter ran a hand over his face. “Narrow it down to anything on Devil’s Breath will you, FRI?” 

“Of course.” 

The footage from his mask was replaced with a nearly completely empty list of information in front of him. Groaning, he closed the list after reading the only information they had was from the footage he caught when he initially found the file. 

“Hey, squirt.” 

Peter turned, seeing Tony walking into the lab. “Hey, Dad. What’s up?” 

“Well, most of the team is in town for the week. Figured we’d have a dinner night at the tower and hang out and whatnot afterwards.” Tony furrowed his eyebrows as he walked closer and saw nothing on the workspace in front of Peter. “What are you doing down here anyway?” 

“Checking to see if you found anything yet.” Peter sighed and played with the sleeves of the hoodie he was wearing. “It’s just...I don’t know, I have this feeling that something’s going to happen soon, but I can’t figure out what.” 

“C’mon, kid. Let’s get our minds off any of that for the night. You’re going to get grey hair from the stress.” 

“Stress? Is that why you’ve gone so grey?” Peter asked with a grin. 

“Yeah, from stress named Peter,” Tony replied, messing up Peter’s hair as they walked out of the lab. “Life was so much easier when you were just a mouthy toddler.” 

Peter just snickered. 

When they got to the tower, they saw that most of the team was already there waiting. Steve went straight to the kitchen to help Bruce with cooking while Tony and Peter joined the others in the living room. 

“Congrats on getting Fisk, punk,” Sam said, slapping Peter on the shoulder. 

“Thank, Uncle Sam,” Peter replied with a grin. 

“You’ve gotten rusty since I helped with your training,” Natasha commented from where she sat. “After dinner, why don’t you and I head to the training room for a bit?” 

Peter groaned. “I haven’t seen any of you in months and you’re already insulting me,” he said, plopping down on the couch next to her. “And I’ve kept all your advice in mind, I swear.” 

“Yeah, but just like with everything else, that doesn’t mean you followed through with it,” Tony teased, sitting on the arm rest next to Peter. “This genius over here has been too worried about wooing his friend to keep the proper form when patrolling.” 

“Dad!” Peter protested, face turning bright red. 

“As your dad, it’s my job to embarrass you,” Tony stated matter-of-factly. “Besides, I haven’t mentioned about MJ asking you out and you not realising as you turned her down.” 

Sam let out a loud laugh at that and Peter wanted to disappear into the couch cushions. “Only you can accidentally turn down the girl you like,” he said between giggles. 

“I hate this family,” Peter muttered, but he couldn’t help the small smile on his face as he sat with everybody. It had been a while since he saw most of them. Out of all of them, he’s seen Rhodey and Bucky the most, since they were his parents’ closest friends and popped in the most. Peter didn’t mind that much; they always told the best stories about his dads when they were younger. 

“Dinner’s nearly ready.” Steve popped his head out of the kitchen as he spoke. “Peter, why don’t you set the table?” 

“I’ll help,” Natasha offered, standing up with Peter. 

“You know you don’t have to help me, Aunt Nat,” Peter told her quietly while they set the table. 

“I know. I just wanted to check in with you and see how you were doing.” 

Peter let out a soft sigh. “I’m just worried, is all. About the city after Fisk. He was such a big presence, and he left such a big space for anyone to take. I don’t know.” 

“Well keep an eye out. It could be nothing, or it could be something.” She let her eyes linger a moment on Peter. “Seriously, though, kid. Are you okay?” 

Looking up, he met her curious gaze. Natasha’s most caring moments were never big things. Growing up, he had a lot of similar talks with her throughout the years. She was his biggest confidant. “I’ll be okay,” he finally answered. “Fisk fought hard, but I fought harder. Learn from past battles and all that, you know?” 

Natasha gave him a small smile. “Well I’ll help you out before your next big battle, you know that. Plus, you get a lot of practice when you’re getting those Demons off the street. You’re a hell of a fighter. You just need some more practice.” 

“Thanks, Aunt Nat.” 

“Also, between you and me,” Natasha said, leaning closer. There was a hint of a smirk on her face. “If MJ was really upset about you turning her down, she would’ve said something about it to you.” 

Blushing a little, Peter finished setting the table with a smile on his face. 

~*~  

A knock on Peter’s bedroom startled him from the thoughts he was having about the following afternoon. It was Friday, and he hadn’t spoken to MJ too much since they arranged to go to the award ceremony together. Both Wade and Natasha assured Peter over and over again that things would be okay. However, he couldn’t help but worry. 

“Hey, kid, are you alright?” Tony asked, leaning on the doorframe of Peter’s room. 

“Yeah, sorry. Did you need me for anything?” 

Tony ran his eyes over Peter for a second before sighing. “Steve and I have to go out of town for a bit. We’ll be back by tomorrow, but you’re on your own tonight. No wild parties, alright?” 

“Oh, totally. Me and my two friends will have the biggest party ever and completely trash the house,” Peter drawled, smirking when Tony just snorted. 

“Such a smartass,” he muttered under his breath. “Alright, well. Take care, alright? If you get seriously injured, again , you’ll be on your own.” 

“I’m always careful, aren’t I? It’s practically my middle name.” 

“Okay, Peter Careful Stark-Rogers .” Tony walked over and kissed the top of Peter’s head. “Love you, squirt.” 

“Love you, too, Dad.” 

Not long after his parents left, Peter got a call on the phone he used for Spider-Man purposes. The caller ID said it was Jeff Davis, making Peter curious as to why he’d call. Not that he wasn’t welcoming the call; he just hadn’t heard much from him since the incident with the warehouse. 

“Hello?” 

“Hey, Spider-Man. It’s Jeff. I’ve got a lead to a possible Fisk base that the Demons might be planning to hit today. I’d go check it out myself, but I’m fairly certain my wife wouldn’t be too happy, considering the ceremony is tomorrow. Check it out for me, will you?”  

“Sure thing, Jeff. Send me the address and I’ll head over there now.” 

“Thank you.”  

While waiting for the address, Peter quickly suited up. He loved the white accents on the newest suit. His dad was impressed with the upgrade suggestions from Otto, and filed away the ones Peter didn’t implement into the suit. He once made a joke that he finally had a color on the suit that didn’t match either Steve or Tony’s suits. And he laughed until Tony pointed out there was white on Steve’s shield. 

Peter ended up pouting while Steve and Tony teased him. 

His phone chimed with a text, which showed up on his lenses. Karen quickly plugged the address into the GPS for him to follow. It led him to one of the taller buildings in the area, with Fisk’s name half constructed onto the side. Peter wanted to make a joke about wealthy people putting their names on the sides of buildings, but with no one to hear the cleverness of it (other than Karen), he simply just snickered to himself. 

With a quick ‘you were right’ text to Jeff, Peter snunk inside and stuck to the higher beams as he looked below for any Demons. Not too far in, he noticed a Fisk worker on the ground with at least four Demons standing over him, guns pointing directly at him. 

“Don’t you think it’s a bit unfair to be four-to-one?” he asked, startling all the men there. “I mean, I can handle you all, but he’s just a regular criminal.” 

Dodging a shot, Peter leapt off the beam he was crouching on and easily took out the first two men. One of the other men had a radio in his hand and was speaking fast in Chinese to whomever was listening. 

“Tattletale,” Peter playfully scolded, taking the radio out of the man’s hand with a web before hitting him unconscious. “Can’t a man sneak into a criminal’s base anymore? No respect.” 

He noticed the Fisk man was still cowering on the floor, so he approached him. “I ain’t telling you shit,” are the first words out of his mouth as Peter gets closer. 

Peter pursed his lips as he put his hands on his hips. The man still looked shaken from the encounter with the Demons. He knew from personal experience that while Fisk’s men were loyal to Fisk, it didn’t mean they couldn’t get scared from time to time. 

Taking a step closer, he smirked as the man blurted out. “Fisk knows who the leader is, okay? But he isn’t telling us anything.” 

Peter frowned. “Fisk knows? Why doesn’t that surprise me?  Did Fisk meet up with them at all?” 

“Like I said, he isn’t telling us anything.” A thought then came to man. “By me helping, does that mean I’ll get less jailtime?” 

“I’m not a cop, buddy,” was Peter’s reply, webbing the man to the spot. “I won’t knock you out, but I’m still leaving you here.” 

There was a commotion from a nearby area, and Peter quickly followed it. After the Demon radioed to the others about him being there, they had all gotten desperate. Trying to take out Fisk’s men quicker before they could be stopped. 

“Hey, you started the party without me,” he quipped, jumping in quickly and taking out the men in there. “How many of you are there?” 

It ended up taking Peter roughly an hour to get everybody there accounted for. The building itself was one of Fisk’s more constructed buildings, hiding levels of people that took time for Peter to find. There were a few dead Fisk men that Peter wasn’t able to get to in time, but he was able to get all the Demons before they could leave the property. As he’s about to leave, a loud bang rang out, making Peter’s senses go wild as he headed towards an outer layer to see what was going on. Outside, there was a helicopter hovering around the building in search of Spider-Man. 

“Seriously?” he groaned to himself, quickly webbing himself up to it. He kicked out one of the Demons inside and made sure he landed on the roof of the building before focusing back on the task at hand. 

Whoever was piloting the helicopter didn’t stop from taking off just because Peter was in there. In fact, he seemed to be going faster than normal. Momentarily distracted, Peter didn’t notice the other Demon in the cab. He swung his sword at Peter, who dodged out of the way when his spider sense went off, but still managed to get a decent sized cut on his leg. 

“Annoying bug,” the Demon said, swiping at Peter once more. 

“Yeah, I get that a lot,” Peter said, trying to maneuver in the small cab. “Which is totally incorrect, for the record, spiders aren’t even—” 

He was cut off when the helicopter skidded across the side of a building, causing him to lose his footing and tumble out of the aircraft. Cursing under his breath, Peter webbed himself up and stunk on the outside. Yuri was calling him to see what was going on, but Peter was only focused on getting the helicopter to stop. Deciding to just work on the outside, Peter pulled on the cover to a panel on the outside. 

The Demon not driving continued to attack Peter. Additionally to that, he was constantly breaking out of the webs whenever Peter just webbed his hands to the helicopter in frustration. Finally, Peter was able to get the helicopter’s propellers to stop with some quick rewiring. As soon as they started falling, Peter created a large web between two buildings to slow their decent before anyone could get hurt. 

The minute he got a breather, he called Yuri, who picked up immediately. “What the hell was that?”  

“I got a lead from Jeff about Demons moving in on a Fisk construction site. Turns out, not a lot of building was happening there. Ton of Demons and some of Fisk’s crew are tied up and waiting,” Peter answered. “As for the loud noises in the city, well. I kinda got a little messy trying to stop a fleeing helicopter.” 

“Do I even want to know?”  

“I hope you aren’t scared of large cobwebs.” 

A long sigh sounded from Yuri. “I’m starting a fund for all the clean-up we have to do because of you and your webs.”  

“Hey, I recently made a dissolving web,” Peter replied. “They should be gone within a few hours.” 

“Yeah, yeah. Thanks for checking it out.”  

~*~  

Cursing under his breath, Peter picked up the pace so he could meet up with Ned and MJ before the ceremony was set to start. He spotted them standing near the fence bordering the standing area, breathing out a slight breath of relief that they didn’t appear to be too frustrated with him for being late. 

“Hey, sorry I’m–” 

“Don't worry, Stark, we’re used to you being late,” MJ said, a teasing smile playing on her lips. “Luckily for you, we’ve still got enough time to get decent spots before the ceremony starts.” 

“Are your dads here?” Ned asked, a bit too excitedly. Even after being friends with Peter for years and having met his parents multiple times, the hero worship still had yet to wear off of his friend. Both Tony and Steve found it endearing, more than anything. Ned was too in awe to really pick up on anything different, as it was. 

“Yeah, they’re going to be somewhere else, though. I didn’t have a chance to catch up with them before I had to leave to make it here at a decent time,” Peter answered. He looked around a moment and sighed. “Knowing Dad, though, they’ll more than likely be a bit closer. Papa hates it, but Dad still gets a bit of leeway to getting good seats at stuff like this.” 

“Is Steve going to be in uniform?” MJ asked. 

“Not today, I don’t think.” 

“I still think it’s cool they’re honoring someone you worked with,” Ned commented. “I mean, it’s a bit of a bummer you aren’t getting more recognition for it, but it’s still pretty cool.” 

“Oh, trust me, I’d much rather him get the deserved praise for the take down than me.” Peter shrugged. “I just chased down a van. Officer Davis was the one to both secure the location and save my ass.” 

Ned opened his mouth to add something else, but he was cut off when his phone lit up with a call from Betty. With him occupied with the call, Peter turned to MJ. She was staring down at the camera in her hands, but turned to look at him when she felt eyes on her. “What?” 

“So, um. I realised a little late what you were, uh, you know trying to do. With inviting me along with you,” Peter rambled, cheeks turning a bit pink. “Well, it actually had to be pointed out to me, but all the same.” 

“Peter, it’s fine,” MJ was quick to brush off. “Seriously. I don’t mind Ned being here or whatever. We’re all friends.” 

“Yeah, I know. I just...” Peter ran a hand nervously through his hair. “Why don’t, uh...why don’t you and I do something together? Later, that is. Unless you don’t want to, of course.” 

MJ’s own cheeks had turned slightly pink as she watched Peter fumble over his words. “I’d like that,” was all she said. 

Peter grinned, feeling his heart race a little as MJ smiled back. The ceremony started shortly after, and Ned asked why both MJ and Peter were smiling shyly. With the ceremony starting, he wasn’t able to push the subject, but Peter noticed the familiar glint in his eye letting him know he wouldn’t let it drop until he knew. Ned was the first person Peter told in regards to his crush on MJ. Or, rather, Ned had easily figured it out and asked Peter about it. When it came to crushes, Peter knew he had never been particularly subtle about them. 

Blinking away those trains of thoughts, Peter looked over to where he knew Officer Davis’ family would be sitting. Sitting proudly in one of the front row chairs was a kid not much younger than Peter himself. He had a wide grin on his face as he proudly watched on as his dad accepted the award. 

“His name is Miles,” MJ said softly to him, startling Peter a bit. She must’ve noticed him staring. “He’s fifteen. Goes to this super smart school. Sound familiar?” 

Peter shot a weak glare at MJ, who only smirked as she continued working. Lifting his camera, he began taking pictures of the ceremony like he promised MJ he would. MJ knew her way around a camera, but always claimed Peter’s pictures came out better. MJ herself had a camera of her own that she used to record the ceremony. Not all of it was article worthy, especially now that Jameson wasn’t breathing down everyone’s necks, but it did help to have it on footage for any specifics. 

There was a buzzing from his pocket, and Peter fumbled for it a moment before pulling it out, seeing a text from Steve. 

[From: Papa] 
I have a weird feeling. Tony told me to ignore it, but I’m telling you to be careful anyway. I love you. 

[To: Papa] 
i will (: love you too! 

Pocketing his phone once more, Peter lifted his camera to take more photos of the event when a sudden buzzing at the base of his neck nearly caused a yelp to escape with its intensity. Letting his camera hang around his neck, Peter quickly looked around, desperate to find the cause of his spidey sense to act up so strongly. Distantly, he could hear Ned and MJ ask him what was wrong as he looked for the cause of his distress. As he gets closer to one of the barriers, he suddenly turns his head and meets Steve’s curious gaze. With what Peter assumed was a fearful look on his own face, Steve turned to Tony and ushered him to a further spot, much to the dismay of those around them. His sense suddenly spiked again, and Peter spotted a large white van not far away from the nearest barrier. Out of the back, Martin Li stepped out, a phone held to his ear and a displeased look on his face. 

Peter quickly looked back to where MJ and Ned were still watching him nervously. Over their heads onstage, the man standing behind Jeff suddenly opened his coat, revealing a bomb strapped to him. Without thinking, Peter quickly moved to shield MJ from most of the incoming blast. The last thing he remembered was hearing multiple bombs followed by a lot of screaming. 

When he came to a few hours later, Peter was sitting in the medbay of the tower. Playing on the TV on the wall in front of him was the news covering the explosions. Just trying to recall those memories of what happened made Peter’s head ache. To his right sat Steve, who was absentmindedly doodling something into his sketchbook. On his left was Tony, holding a StarkPad and most likely trying to work. If Peter had to guess, they were both trying to keep their minds busy so they wouldn’t worry too much while Peter lay in the hospital bed. 

“Dad?” Peter rasped out, his throat feeling sore. Both Tony and Steve’s heads snapped up at the sound, and Steve was easily giving Peter a cup with water in it for him. 

“God, Pete. The doctors weren’t sure when you’d wake up,” Tony said, running a gentle hand through his son’s curls. “I thought we told you to stop ending up here.” 

Peter chuckled softly. “M’sorry, Dad. I didn’t want MJ getting hurt.” 

Tony let out a soft sigh. “Both her and Ned are alright. Minor injuries, if anything. They’re both worried sick about you, though. You were the closest to the blast, and took the majority of it. They’re waiting for you in the living room. Refused to leave until they saw you were okay.” 

“I’m fine. Just tired,” Peter answered. “Think my healing ability is working overtime for everything.” 

“That’s what the doctors thought, too,” Steve spoke up, gently squeezing Peter's arm. “Thought I told you to be careful.” 

“When have you known me to listen?” Peter asked cheekily, grinning up at his Papa, who seemed to loosen up at knowing Peter would be alright. “Where's Aunt May?” 

“She's down at FEAST right now helping the injured. There were...a lot happened, Pete. Whoever did this knew what they were doing.” Tony grabbed Peter’s hand. “Peter...Jeff Davis didn’t make it. There was a bomber on stage that he pushed back before trying to take cover, but...he was too close.” 

Peter’s blood suddenly felt like ice. “Can I go sit in the living room, please?” he asked instead of replying right away. 

Tony and Steve exchanged a look a minute before Tony nodded and called the doctor in first. When he was cleared to be able to rest elsewhere, he gingerly walked into the large open room. MJ was the first to notice him. She hurried over and pulled him into a gentle, but tight, hug. 

“Holy shit, Peter. I was terrified something happened to you,” she said, either unaware or uncaring to whoever else was in the room. “You weren’t waking up. I kept calling your name.” 

“I’m okay. I’m okay,” Peter reassured her, feeling guilty with the way she shook in his embrace. “I’m right here, MJ.” 

His parents sat next to Ned on the couch, giving them the illusion of a moment alone, and made small talk with his friend so they wouldn’t listen in. Peter smiled at that before pulling back just enough to look at MJ. 

“I'm right here,” he repeated, giving her a small smile. “I didn’t want you getting hurt.” 

MJ lightly punched his shoulder. “Didn’t mean you needed to go and get hurt.” She looked vulnerable a minute before sobering up. “I’m glad you’re okay.” Before Peter could reply, she gave him a quick kiss on the cheek before joining the others on the couch. 

Blinking a moment in surprise, Peter felt his cheeks color slightly before he could move and sit down on the chair next to the couch. His whole body felt sore and achy, like he had just gone through a fight with Vulture again. He felt eyes on him as he moved, but he allowed himself to sink into the cushions without comment. 

“Does anybody know what happened?” Ned asked, breaking the silence. “Like, more than the police?” 

“We have the whole available team working on it,” Steve answered. “FRIDAY’s running through camera footage now.” 

“It was Martin Li,” Peter said, eyes opening without him knowing when they closed. “I saw him on the phone coming out of the van before the blast.” He let out a sigh and sat up. He couldn’t help but wince as the movement jostled his injuries. “I had a weird feeling about him from earlier this week, but I couldn’t figure out what. Now I guess I know.” 

“Was he strapped with a bomb?” Steve asked carefully. 

“No, but...I felt an explosion coming from where he was.” 

“I did, too,” MJ added. “Peter shielded me mostly from the one onstage, but there was another one near the barrier. It’s where Ned got most of his injuries from.” 

“Another person, maybe?” Peter ran a hand through his hair in frustration. “Either way, Martin might be dead. Between the time I saw him and the time the blast went off wasn’t enough time for him to get enough safe distance away. Does, uh...do you think May would know?” 

“Probably not,” Tony said. “If anything, I’d guess that Martin wanted to keep her in the dark the most. He needs someone to keep watch over FEAST. And not, like, any evil way.” 

“He was always saying FEAST was the best part of him,” Peter replied. “I don’t know. I say we keep May in the dark for now until we know more what’s happening with the bombers. I don’t want her worrying herself too much over this if she doesn’t need to be.” With a wince, he stood up off the chair and started walking to his room. Tony stood up to help, but Steve was pulling him back down with a shake of his head. 

When he got to his room, he shed the clothes he was wearing and hopped into the shower, letting the near boiling water wash over his skin and letting it grow red under the heat. As he washed off the day’s events, he couldn’t help but wonder if everything that was happening was connected. He hadn’t been able to connect the Demons to anything else so far, but if Martin was their leader, then some things would make sense. Especially if all the petty crimes and robberies they’ve been doing lately added up to that. 

After stepping out of the shower, he dressed quickly to help down at the shelter. Sending his dads a quick text what he was doing, he didn’t bother with putting on his full suit, only slipping on his mask and webshooters to swing quickly to FEAST. There were people everywhere there, most in beds recovering or helping those in the beds. He spotted Rio helping in the kitchen, and started towards her. May had mentioned shortly before the ceremony that Rio was Jeff’s wife, and had been working at FEAST for some time. After being told that, he felt a bit guilty for not recognizing her sooner, but May waved a hand and assured him it was fine. Rio helped mostly in the background, anyway. 

Now, however, she looked to be in the thick of it. There weren’t many people helping make the food as there were people helping the injured or doing other miscellaneous things around the center. 

“Hello, Ms. Morales?” Peter greeted, giving her a smile. “Hi, I’m Peter. My aunt mentioned you volunteered here. I, uh. I’m so sorry about your husband.” 

“Thank you,” Rio replied, giving him a gentle smile in return. “Please, call me Rio. How well do you know your way around a kitchen?” 

“Uh, honestly? Not very, but I’m willing to help.” 

“That’s all I need.” 

Peter quickly washed up before sliding up next to her and helping her chop the vegetables for the soup she was making. Beside him, Rio rolled out the dough to the thickness she wanted before cutting out the noodles to boil in the pot on the stove. They worked in silence for a minute before Peter spoke again. 

“Um. I don’t mean to overstep or anything, but how is Miles handling all this?” he asked politely. 

“Not very,” Rio admitted. “Keeps himself locked away in his room whenever he isn’t at school. The boy used to go to the arcade all the time with his friends, or sit in the kitchen or dining room taking some technology thing apart.” She sighed softly. “I’ve tried everything short of therapy for him, but nothing seems to be helping.” 

Staring back down at the counter, Peter couldn’t help but mull over her words. While the doctor was giving him his final once over, Tony mentioned a bit offhand that Peter had been out for a couple days. A part of him wished he could’ve attended Jeff’s funeral that was held the night prior, but he didn’t want to overstep. Especially considering it wasn’t  Peter  who met him. 

“I wasn’t old enough to remember when my mother died,” Peter said softly. He was focused intensely on the task at hand. “But I still remember the night my Uncle Ben died like it just happened last night. I, uh. What always helped me was to keep my hands busy. I was in my dad’s lab almost as much as he was. Drove Papa crazy because now he had two lab rats to shoo out every night.” He shared a smile with Rio before continuing. “I know May’s always going on about needing more hands here at the shelter. Plus, with Martin out for a while, she could really use the extra help.” 

“I’ll bring it up with him when he comes home from school today. Thank you, Peter,” she told him sincerely. 

“Of course. If you or Miles ever need help, don’t be afraid to ask, alright?” 

Rio nodded once more, a smile on her face as she finished up with the noodles. 

Laying across the couch in May’s office, Peter lightly tapped a leg onto the floor while his other laid on the armrest. May was typing away at something on her computer, ignoring her nephew in favor of playing catch up for everything she didn’t get to earlier in the day. 

“Aunt May, is it bad if I’m a bit scared with everything that’s going on?" he asked out of the blue. The clicking of the keyboard stopped as May focused on Peter. “Like, Dad and I can’t find any more solid evidence on the Demons, and Papa’s saying they weren’t able to find any usual traces of bombs at City Hall. They could be connected, and we don’t even know.” 

“I suspect that isn’t all that’s bothering you.” May stood up from her desk and walked over to the couch, sitting so Peter could put his head in her lap. He instantly melted into her touch as she ran a gentle hand through his hair. “You have my full attention.” 

“We don’t have any funding coming in at my internship, either. And since there’s no funding, Otto doesn’t think it’s worth my time coming in. Of course, I still go in when I can, but I can tell it bothers him that we have no way of progressing any of our research,” Peter ranted. “I almost offered to pay for stuff, but he declined before I could even make the offer.” 

“You know Tony would hire you in a heartbeat,” May pointed out, smiling as Peter gave her a look. “Oh, don’t look at me like that, young man. I know perfectly well why you don’t want to work at SI.” 

Peter laughed under his breath before relaxing in his position. “I know Dad would. That’s why I’m still keeping that offer on the back burner. It doesn’t hurt to keep it in mind, you know? It just feels like the easy way out. People have to work hard to get these opportunities, and because I’m a Stark, I can easily go there. It isn’t fair.” 

“Too humble for your own good,” May muttered fondly. “How about this: instead of worrying all night about something that would better be saved for when you’re more rested, you go do something fun? Go see a movie with Ned, or finally ask MJ out.” 

Blushing hotly, Peter sat up. “I can’t just do that.” 

“Pete, sweetie, I love you dearly, but you need to grow a backbone when it comes to dating.” May laughed, ignoring Peter’s squawk of protest. “You told me you thought she was asking you out when she invited you to City Hall, so you don’t have a good excuse as to why you can’t.” 

Biting his bottom lip roughly, Peter let out a sigh when he realised his aunt was right. “Okay, okay. I’ll give her a call.” 

“Good. Now get out of my office before your teenage angst stinks it up.” May shooed him out, but was smiling as Peter laughed the whole time. 

MJ easily agreed, and met him at their usual booth in Mick’s. It felt slightly weird not having their other mutual friend there, but it was also nice. Peter admitted he could be quite dense on his best days, but spending time with MJ was always a highlight. 

“So. Your parents figure anything out?” MJ asked, munching on some fries they were given when they sat down. 

“There was no usual bomb residue,” Peter answered, repeating what he told May earlier. “So they aren’t quite sure yet.” 

MJ pursed her lips a minute before sitting up a bit. “So, the Bugle’s got me on this story since the bombing pretty much took away my story. And it’s...kind of weird.” 

“Weird how?” 

“Well, one of the leads led me to some recycling center with Martin Li’s name as the owner. I wasn’t sure if it was relevant at all to anything with the case, but I didn’t think Li needed a recycling center for FEAST?” MJ said. 

Peter furrowed his eyebrows. “Well, not exactly...” 

MJ quirked an eyebrow. “Stark, what aren’t you telling me?” 

“I’m not sure where Martin fits in exactly with everything, but his timing at the City Hall bombing couldn’t have been a coincidence. I didn’t want to bother my parents with it, but combined with everything else that’s been going on lately, it has to be connected.” 

“You mean with the Demons?” 

“Yeah. The night of the auction house robbery, they were looking for a file named Devil’s Breath. Dad and I haven’t been able to find anything on it.” 

“Hmm,” MJ hummed. “I’ll see if I can find anything. I have a few favors I can call in on.” 

Peter let out a laugh. “Alright, well, enough about all that. I asked you here to get away from all that talk.” 

MJ blushed, smiling herself. “Right, sorry. I just...really like talking to you. It’s so easy.” 

“I really like talking to you, too.” 

Chapter Text

Swinging through the air, Peter kept his eye out for the recycling center that MJ had told him about. According to Karen, he was coming up to it soon, and there would be a few guards standing guard outside. When he got there, there was only a handful of Demons to web up before slipping inside the building. Once in, he went straight to the office, passing large crates on unknown material on the way. 

“Karen, record everything I’m seeing, please,” he instructed, not knowing what he’d see yet, but he wanted to get stuff on video anyway. 

“Of course, Peter.” 

There was a clipboard on the desk in front of him with a charge to some repair shop he was unfamiliar with. With how large of a charge it was, Peter couldn’t help but wonder what was big enough to need to be fixed with a sum that high. Setting it back down, Peter looked around the rest of the office, spotting a large map on the wall to the left of the desk, multiple locations circled in bright red ink. 

“What is this?” Peter murmured to himself, looking closer at the map at the locations. “Why are these locations circled? What are they being used for?” 

After finding everything he could in the office, Peter decided to walk back out to the room where all the crates were at. He shimmied one open and froze when he saw all the bombs sitting inside. Setting the lid of the crate down on the floor, he gently picked one up and carefully examined it. 

“This doesn’t look like a normal bomb,” he said to himself. “I wonder if these were the same ones used at City Hall. Karen, scan the bombs and send the schematics to my dad.” 

“Right away.” 

He poked around for a bit more, but didn’t see much else. Outside, he could distantly hear what sounded like a helicopter, so he made his way out to investigate. As he did so, a couple metal discs dropped to the ground surrounding him. He opened his mouth to wonder aloud what was happening, but before he could say anything, red cords shot out of the discs and surrounded him. They tightened and shot off high voltages of electricity, jolting through him so bad he dropped to his knees out of sheer pain. The tech in his suit was going wild, a bunch of different things happening at once due to the immense power surge. A couple strangers coated in white armor surrounded him, pointing strange looking guns at him. 

“Stop! He’s with us.” 

If Peter was ever thankful to hear Yuri Wantanabe’s voice, it was now. The shocking thankfully stopped as she got closer, an angry look on her face that grew until the strange guards lowered their guns. 

“Yuri...” Peter said, albeit a bit weakly, standing up and shaking off the weird power cords. “What’s going on?” 

“Sable International,” she explained. “Mayor Osborn hired them as a security for the city after the explosion.” 

“They move fast,” he commented, still feeling a slight buzzing thrumming under his skin. 

“Sable herself is still in a meeting with Osborn at the moment, but they’ve already got a crew strolling through the city. There was a report of gunfire coming from here, so they sent a crew,” she explained. 

“Why’d they target me?” 

“Vigilantes are illegal,” one of the Sable guards spoke up. 

“They’ve got permission from the mayor himself to take you in, so be careful. I won’t always be around to save your ass.” Yuri sighed as the Sable guards slowly started filtering out once they realised nothing was going to happen there. “Sable is good at what she does. Don’t anger her if you know what’s good for you.” 

“Aye aye, captain,” Peter replied, grinning as Yuri just rolled her eyes and walked away. 

Peter checked if his webshooters were still able to work, considering they had been close to being fried. Just as he was about to swing away, the familiar sounds of the Iron Man suit’s repulsors sounded. 

“Iron Man?” 

“Are you okay?” Tony asked worriedly, stepping out of the Iron Man suit. “Karen sent me an emergency alert and a location before shorting out.” 

“I’m fine, Dad, I promise,” Peter reassured. Thankfully, everybody had already cleared out, and they were alone. Even the Demons he had webbed up had been hauled away by Sable’s troops. “Sable International apparently has it out for me from Norman’s orders. They got me with some sort of electrical cables. Nearly fried my suit.” 

“Are you able to swing home?” 

“I’m not sure, I was just about to check when you landed.” 

“Alright, well. Let us at least check you over when we get back home. Steve is probably pacing a hole in the floor right now.” 

Peter snorted. “Alright. I’ll meet you there, then.” 

Swinging home that day was a bit of a weird experience. His webshooters worked enough to allow him to swing home, but they were acting wonky and he nearly hit the ground multiple times because of short circuiting. All in all, he nearly cried in relief when he saw the house. 

“Never repeating that again,” Peter announced, pulling his mask off as he walked through the house. “FRIDAY, make a note to remind me to work on tweaking my webshooters to work in case of another electrical surge.” 

“Duly noted.” 

Suddenly, Peter was wrapped in the arms of his papa, who smelled faintly of oil paint and his own fading cologne. Peter fell into the hug, letting out a soft sigh as he hugged Steve. “You’re going to make me go grey if you keep this up,” he murmured into Peter's curls. 

Snorting, Peter pulled back and grinned up at the man. “I’m pretty sure Dad’s grey enough for the both of you.” 

“Watch it, pipsqueak, you still live under our roof,” Tony commented dryly as he passed. “C’mon, kid, let me look you over. Karen was shorted out during the power surge, so she wasn’t able to get a reading on your vitals. Nearly gave Steve a heart attack when it showed your heart stopping because of your suit temporarily going offline.” 

“You act like you weren’t running to a suit the minute Karen called the emergency,” Steve replied, smirking a little. He still looked a bit tense from the situation, but seemed to be calmer now that Peter was standing in the room with them. 

Tony waved a hand. “Yeah, yeah.” 

FRIDAY did a quick scan while they were all piled into the lab in the basement. Other than some leftover small twitches of his fingers here and there, Peter was alright. While the voltage had been high enough to stun him, it seemed even Sable wasn’t willing to damage a person too much in order to detain them. Peter had changed into a pair of sweats and one of Steve’s shirts (Steve always complained that both Tony and Peter kept taking all his t-shirts, but Peter knew he didn’t mind seeing his family wearing his clothes), and laid his suit out on one of the tables. 

“Oh!” Peter said suddenly after repairing his suit for roughly an hour. Neither Steve nor Tony had left the lab, even though they both knew their son was fine. “Dad, did you get anything out of the footage I sent you?” 

“I was looking over it when I got called out.” Tony shot him a playful glare. “They seem to match the ones from City Hall, but I don’t know what’s in them. They’re full of this weird energy that seems to be the cause of the explosion. I won’t be able to fully tell unless I have one to take apart.” 

“Why were you there anyway?” Steve asked. 

“MJ found a lead for a story. I told her everything, by the way. Since she and Ned already know I’m Spider-Man, I figured it’d be nice to have someone with news sources. Anyway, Martin Li owns the center. MJ told me mainly because she wasn’t sure why Li would own a recycling center.” Peter shrugged. “Walked in and saw the bombs. There was even a map with a bunch of circles on it. If I had to take a wild guess, I’d say they were other Demon bases.” 

“If this is true, that means Li is a part of everything that’s going on,” Tony pointed out. 

“Most likely, but since we aren’t sure if he even survived the explosion or not, he could’ve easily just been a helping hand. Like someone else ran the show, and Martin was the right-hand man.” 

Tony tapped a screwdriver to the table. Steve made a face and reached over and grabbed his husband’s hand to stop the banging. “Is there anything in his office at FEAST that could give us any clues?” 

“He and May are the only ones with keys to get into it,” Peter answered, running a hand over his face. "Martin hasn’t been in there in a while, and May hasn’t needed any reason to pry. I really don’t want to rope May into this if Martin has any part of the whole Demons fiasco. The less she knows about all this, the better.” 

“Well I’m alright with that,” Tony said, sharing a look with Steve. “Is May down at FEAST now?” 

“She should be. With Martin not there, her workload's doubled.” Peter rubbed the back of his neck. “Why do I feel like we’re about to do something dumb?” 

“It’s not dumb when we have a key.” Tony playfully wiggled his eyebrows. “I’ve done enough stupid shit over the years, that May doesn’t ask questions anymore. For the most part, at least. C’mon, kid. Steve and I haven’t been there in a while, anyway.” 

Peter sighed, but followed behind his dads anyway. When they got to the shelter, it wasn’t nearly as packed as before. With most of the City Hall bombing simmering down, most of the injured were already healed or healing, so volunteering went down drastically. It made Peter sad to see so many people stop willing to help after a big event died down, but he supposed that’s always how people would act. Still, Peter went down to FEAST whenever he could, and even then, he felt like it wasn't enough. 

“Hello dear sister of mine,” Tony said as soon as he spotted May. 

“What do you want?” she said in greeting, not even looking up from what she was doing. 

“Why do you always assume I want something?” Tony asked, breaking the façade for a moment. 

Looking up, May merely quirked an eyebrow at that. “I’m not going to dignify that with an answer. Although, if you boys are willing to help me with something, I’ll do whatever you came down here for.” 

Peter snorted, earning a look from Tony. “I actually came here for something else, but I’m sure Dad and Papa are more than willing to help.” 

May grinned, shooting Peter a wink as he walked past them, ignoring the mirrored looks of betrayal from his parents. “Oh, don’t look like kicked puppies. I only need help moving some stuff around,” Peter heard May tell Tony and Steve as he headed up the stairs. 

Looking around a moment, Peter tried the doorknob on Martin’s office door before trying for another way in. He spotted a vent on the ceiling and quickly jumped up and worked his way in. Just as he closed the vent, he heard a couple people walking through the hallway below him. Letting out a relieved breath at the timing, Peter crawled through the vents before dropping down into Martin’s office. The cleanliness of the room left Peter reeling a bit before he started snooping. A part of him felt guilty for being nosey, but he needed to know if Martin was connected to the Demon issue. Realistically, Peter was fairly certain Martin was. All the leads they had so far pointed to Martin’s involvement. Still, though. Peter always tried seeing the best in people, and he wanted to believe the man he admired for starting the homeless shelter was nothing more than the kind man Peter knew him to be. 

During his snooping, Peter stumbled across a familiar children’s book. Startled, Peter set the book down when he realised it was the same one him and his dad had found when looking up the Demon masks. Seeing the book lying so casually in Martin’s office sent a chill down his spine. To his right sat an altar of Martin’s parents. For as long as he could remember, it’s always sat there in the office. Peter actually thought it was rather sweet, but something in him thought it suddenly felt off. Approaching it carefully, Peter shifted it just so, managing to open it and slip through before anyone would peek through the slots of the curtains that were hung up on the office’s windows and see him in there. Especially if May caught him. 

The room on the other side caught Peter’s breath. The floor was grated with a couple of mats laying in front of the two tables in the room. One sat to the right with a couple of Demon masks and a glowing sword. In front of him was another one covered in various papers and the same photo of Martin’s parents that sat on the altar in his office, only the colors were inverted. On the wall in front of the desk was a large cork board full of multiple news articles on Norman Osborn. The other walls were bare, and had different wires running along the concrete walls, leading to two different circuit breaker boxes. Not questioning them much, and wishing he had his own mask so he could record everything he saw, he walked over to the table with the masks and sword. 

“This is incredible,” he muttered to himself, picking up the sword. “How is he able to infuse this with the energy? And where is it coming from? I’ve never seen this anywhere else. It’s kind of impressive, if I’m being honest. Somehow, he created a new source of energy. If only he wasn’t using it to destroy the city...” 

The masks didn’t give him any other answers to the questions he had, but it at least solidified Martin’s involvement. The other desk had a bunch of paperwork, including a familiar looking file. 

“Devil’s Breath?” he asked in astonishment, picking it up. He flipped through it, seeing a few more added pages of information in the folder. “I’ll hold onto this. Looking through this will be a lot easier than flipping through my mask’s footage.” 

He spotted a journal just to the side of him, and his overwhelming curiosity got the better of him. He flipped through it for a bit before coming across a page with darker ink than the rest, like it had been written in an angry rage than a casual entry. Peter’s eyes widened when he recognized Martin’s tone throughout the entry, going on and on about how Norman was ruining the city with his greed. Looking up once he read through it, he realised it was Martin all along who was trying to go after Norman. Whatever Devil’s Breath was, Martin was trying to use it to ruin Norman, no matter the cost. He dropped the journal onto the table in shock and took a step back to collect his thoughts. His spider sense went off and Peter found himself sticking to the ceiling, electricity sparking throughout the wire lined room. After quickly disabling it, Peter dropped down another vent to the floor below him and slipped out of the supply closet. 

“Oh, Peter, there you are!” 

Peter turned and froze a little when he saw May and Martin talking at the bottom of the stairs. May looked a little confused to see Peter coming out of the supply closet of all things, and Martin’s eyes went straight to the folder still in Peter’s hand. “Uh, hey,” he said, walking slightly closer. “Thought that was a bathroom. Turns out the only thing in there is mops.” 

May fondly rolled her eyes. “Steve and Tony already left. Said they’d meet you back at the house. Tony ended up forgetting why he came here, but you didn’t?” 

“Oh, yeah. It’s something for Octavius. I left it in your office when I was in there earlier. Swung by to pick it up.” Peter felt guilty for lying to May. She already knew about Spider-Man, but Peter didn’t want her knowing that it was Martin orchestrating all the Demons. He couldn’t do that to her. 

“Oh, well. I was just telling Martin about what happened at City Hall. He wasn’t in town when it happened,” May continued on. 

“Yeah, I’m glad to see you’re alright, Peter. It would be a shame if anything happened to you,” Martin said, eye seemingly boring right through Peter. “We wouldn’t want that, now would we?” 

“Of course not.” Peter's polite smile felt tight, and he needed to get out of there. “I’m sorry for not staying longer, Aunt May, but I have to get ready yet before I head to the lab.” 

“Oh, that’s no problem.” She kissed his cheek. “Be safe, alright?” 

“Always am.” He grinned at May, who just rolled her eyes again. After another quick glance at the watching Martin, Peter slipped out the front door. 

“Martin’s alive,” he announced, heading straight into the dining room where his parents were waiting. “I don’t quite know how, but I do know it’s Martin behind all of this. He has a secret room at FEAST where he must’ve done all of his planning.” He handed Tony the file he found. “I also found this. It's the same one I saw at the auction house.” 

“Did he give any indication as to why he’s doing this?” Steve asked. Tony was busy pouring over all the notes like Peter figured he would. Despite Karen's camera quality being top of the line, many of the smaller notes weren’t readable. 

“He has a personal vendetta against Norman. I wasn’t able to figure out why, though. I’m assuming Martin’s going to keep going after big public events like the one at City Hall if Norman’s going to be there.” Peter’s phone went off, and he hastily pulled it out to look at it. “Shit, I lost track of time. That was Otto asking me where I am.” 

“We’ll keep looking into this. Just go to work. We’ll call you if there’s an emergency,” Tony assured, still looking at the file. 

Peter hurried over to Octavius Industries as fast as he could. When he stepped inside, he froze a little when he noticed all the new equipment that wasn’t there the last time he was in. “Um, Otto? Where did you get all this?” he asked in lieu of greeting. 

“I called in some favors!” Otto rounded the corner with a large smile on his face. “I, apparently, had more favors I could use than I thought. With this equipment, we can keep doing our research.” 

“That’s great, Otto.” Otto's smile was infectious; Peter easily found himself grinning along. He looked around a minute and peeked in a couple boxes. “Um, a lot of this doesn’t look like stuff we can use for making prosthetics. What exactly did you have in mind?” 

“It never hurts to have spare parts lying around, Peter,” Otto answered. “But that doesn’t matter. I’ve made a great breakthrough on the prosthetic we’ve been working on.” He gestured for Peter to follow him, and showed him the arms propped up on the workbench. 

“I’m sorry I haven’t been in in a bit, Otto,” Peter suddenly said, feeling guilt curling in his gut. With everything going on around them, he had honestly forgotten about his internship. 

“It’s alright, Peter. Your brilliant mind trumps your tardiness.” Otto smirked as he grabbed a controller and turned it on. In front of him, the arms started moving, attempting to pick up a mug sitting in front of them. The arm shook a little before dropping the mug completely, the teal ceramic shattering on the ground. “Dammit! Norman, if you hadn’t cut funding, we'd be further!” 

“Hey, hey, hey. It's alright. This progress is still amazing, Otto,” Peter reassured, giving him a comforting smile. “It’s just the response time. It’s an easy fix. You’ve been working so hard lately, Otto, just...please, rest. I’ve got this.” 

Otto sighed a minute before nodding in defeat and slumping down on the computer chair sitting just off to the side. “Thank you, Peter.” 

“Of course.” Sweeping up the mug quickly and dumping the remains into the trash, Peter set to work on fixing the errors in the coding. It didn’t take too long, and Otto appeared more relaxed than before. “It was just a simple fix. Should run a lot smoother now.” 

“I knew I hired you for a reason,” Otto joked before sighing. “I’m sorry for my, well, explosion there.” 

“It happens to the best of us,” Peter replied, hoping his smile came off as reassuring. 

“I appreciate that Peter, but mine...well.” He took a deep breath. “If you couldn’t tell, Norman and I don’t exactly have the best of relationships. I guess it started back in college. We were close throughout, and thought starting a business together would be a good idea, only it ended up destroying our friendship.” 

“You don't have to tell me this, if you don’t want to, you know,” Peter said quickly. 

Otto let out a huff of a laugh. “I know. Figured it’d be best if you knew why I’d have my moments if you’re planning on sticking with me through this.” 

Peter pushed himself onto the table to sit to listen to Otto. The man in front of him reminded him a lot of his dad whenever he felt like an invention wasn’t going the way he thought it would. Hopefully, like his dad, he’d figured out a way and push through it. 

“Norman started working on this...project. I considered it unethical, and we ended up getting into it a bit. I left with a settlement, and grants have been keeping afloat since.” Otto looked sadly at the arms. “This project means a lot to me, and I really appreciate all the work you’ve done on this, Peter.” 

Peter smiled at him before looking at the arms. “I understand wanting to do something good for people. My Uncle Bucky has a prosthetic, and I helped my dad on working on one for him. I’ve always wanted to do more for others like him, so working on this means a lot to me, too.” 

They were both quiet a minute before Otto spoke up again. “I, uh. I have a degenerative neurological disorder. I was hoping if I made a big scientific breakthrough, I could use it for myself,” he stated sadly. “Unfortunately, with the progress we’ve made already and how long it’s taken, I’m not entirely sure if I'll be able to use it on myself.” 

“Otto–” 

Said man held up a hand, cutting him off. “It’s no use getting too upset, Peter. We’ll keep working. Keep making progress.” 

“I have no issues coming in more often if you need me to,” Peter offered. 

“Don’t mess up your studies worrying about me,” Otto said firmly. “I appreciate the offer, but education comes above all else.” 

Peter nodded, unable to meet Otto’s eyes. “Still, though. If you need me, I’m a call away.” 

Chapter Text

“You look like shit.” 

Peter looked up from where he was picking at the chicken wrap in front of him to weakly glare at MJ. “You really know how to make a guy feel special, don't you?” he remarked dryly. 

MJ shrugged nonchalantly, but there was a smirk playing on her lips. “Well, you do. What's up?” 

Running a hand over his face, Peter sat up straigher with a sigh. “All this shit going on with the Demons,” he admitted. “Li’s their leader.” 

MJ raised an eyebrow. “Seriously? Is that what you found at the recycling center, then?” 

“Well, part of.” He looked around before leaning closer to both Ned and MJ. “There were a bunch of bombs in there. Infused with some kind of weird energy.” 

“Like the ones at City Hall?” Ned asked, eyes wide. 

Peter nodded. “Dad suggested we check out Martin’s office. May pulled them both away, but I found a secret room. He's got some giant grudge against Norman. He's doing this all to get back at him.” 

“But why?” MJ asked, eyebrows furrowed. “Does May know?” 

Peter quickly shook his head. “I don’t want May learning about this. She thinks the world of Li; it would crush her.” 

“Peter, you have to tell her. She hates being left out of your Spidey shit,” MJ insisted. “Last time you left her out of it, a building fell on you.” 

“I know what I’m doing, MJ.” Peter met MJ’s eyes, a silent plea for the topic to be dropped. MJ didn’t look all too happy, but, thankfully, didn’t press it any further. 

“So, how’s the internship going?” Ned asked, trying to change the subject. “Otto still letting you work?” 

“Yeah. He called in a bunch of favors, I guess, so there’s a lot of different new equipment lying around. I’m not sure what he plans on doing with most of it, but he’s pretty happy about it.” Peter bit his bottom lip roughly. “We’re making great progress on prosthetics, but I can’t help but worry. Otto seems pretty desperate to see this project he’s been working on through to the end. I honestly think a part of him wants to prove Norman wrong. Or prove something to himself.” 

“What’s Norman have to do with this?” MJ asked. 

“They used to be friends back in college. Started a business together, but then something happened and things have been dicey since,” Peter answered. “I hope he isn’t working on these out of spite. I'm all for trying new things to make them work, but even I have a line in the sand.” 

“I wouldn’t worry about it too much.” MJ shrugged, stealing one of Peter’s fries. “Like you said, he probably just wants to see it through. Considering everything Octavius Industries has gone through in recent years, it doesn’t really surprise me.” 

“Yeah, you’re probably right. And keep your hands off my fries, woman.” 

“What? You’re not eating them, and fries this good shouldn’t get cold.” 

Peter laughed, pushing his basket closer to her anyway. He didn’t have much of an appetite. There was a ball of stress and worry tangled together into a tight ball in the pit of his stomach. The three of them were able to eat lunch together nearly every day, but with Peter’s mind constantly elsewhere, they hadn’t been able to meet up much recently. 

“I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA recently, by the way,” he told them honestly. “I feel bad.” 

“Don’t,” MJ said firmly. “We more than understand everything going on.” 

Ned nodded in agreement. “Seriously, dude. You have nothing to worry about. You already have classes and an internship to worry about alongside all the city's problems. We’ll still be here regardless.” 

Peter grinned. “Thanks, guys.” 

After lunch, he only had one more class for the day before heading home. Just as he was about to catch a bus, his phone went off. It was from his dad telling him to swing by his office at Stark Industries for something important. Feeling a weird sense from the tone, Peter slipped into a nearby alley to change into his Spider-Man suit and swung his way towards SI. When he got there, he found Tony, Steve, and Rhodey all crowded around Tony’s computer. 

“Hey,” he greeted, pulling off his mask and standing next to his uncle. “What are you doing here?” 

“Am I not allowed to see my favorite nephew?” Rhodey joked before pulling Peter into a hug, who happily reciprocated. “Tony told me what was going on, so I decided to drop in and help.” 

“Cool.” Peter grinned before turning to his dad. “So, why’d you call me in?” 

“We got a lead,” Tony answered, turning the monitor towards Peter. “Apparently, Devil’s Breath is something that was created at Oscorp, which could be why Li wants to get his hands on it so bad. Oscorp’s CFO, Charles Standish, is one of the few people whose name is on the project.” 

“Oscorp? They really need to be exposed for all the weird tests they do there,” Peter said, referring to his spider bite. “If this gets out, Norman could be ruined.” 

“Which is another reason why I think Li wants ahold of it. You said he hates Norman, right? Expose what Norman does, and Li gets what he wants. It’s flawless, actually.” 

“I don’t think you should be complimenting the man, Tony,” Steve said, amused. 

“What? I see a smart move when I see a smart move.” 

Peter’s phone vibrated in his pocket. There was a text from Yuri about a break-in with the address of Charles' penthouse. “Speak of the devil. There’s a break-in at his CFO’s penthouse. Keep me updated if you find anything else.” 

Slipping his mask back on, Peter opened a window in Tony’s office before hurrying towards the address. When he got there, the entire building was surrounded by multiple police cars with officers fighting off various Demons. After taking out the few that remained outside, Peter went inside where a few hostages remained scared in the tower’s parking garage. They were all shaken, but relatively unscathed and safe. One of them directed Peter to Charles’ office, and he was off. 

Not wanting to make the situation worse by announcing his presence to the Demons still inside, Peter climbed up the elevator shaft until he reached the top floor. There were only a couple Demons in there, and it didn’t take long to take them out. 

“Are you alright?” he asked Charles, who looked shaken up, but unharmed. 

“Yeah, yeah. Thank you.” 

“Why were they after you?” Peter asked, wanting to get information out of him before anything else. 

“Something about Devil’s Breath. I-I don't really know what it’s for, just that Norman was making it for some personal project,” Charles answered. “I’m the only one who has any record of it.” 

Peter looked closer at the screen. “Payroll information? Why’d they want that? And who’s Isaac Delaney?” 

“Step away from him, Spider-Man,” a woman’s voice rang out, words thick with an unfamiliar accent. “We don’t need your help.” 

Peter turned and saw a woman clad in black pants and a white shirt, with a long white coat overtop. Her hair was cut short and was about as silver as Felicia’s the last time he saw her. Based on the guards following her in, he had to guess this woman was Sable. 

“Hey, I saved him from the Demons,” he defended himself, backing away from Charles nonetheless. He really didn’t want a repeat of the last time he had bumped into a Sable agent. His suit was still twitchy every now and again. 

“He’s in our custody now,” she said, gesturing to the guards to lead Charles away. “I’ve still got my eye on you, Spider-Man, so don't think you can get away so easily.” 

Peter clenched his jaw as the best lead of the case walked away in the hands of an unknown mercenary. “God, where is Wade when you need him?” he muttered to himself. "He’s the one mercenary I actually tolerate.” 

Letting out a sigh, Peter climbed onto the outside of the building and head down that way. When he got closer to the ground, he spotted Yuri, who gestured for him to meet her away from Sable’s watching eyes. Changing course, Peter dropped down into a nearby alley where Yuri was waiting for him. 

“She doesn’t like me, does she?” he asked, amused. 

“She was complaining the whole way down,” Yuri answered, smirking a little. “I got your text about the recycling center, by the way. Sable’s pretty angry you're helping out, but since you’re the one who found the location first, she had to keep quiet. Were you able to find any more proof against Martin Li?” 

“He has a secret room in his office at FEAST. It was filled with articles against Norman Osborn. There was even a journal filled with angry rants against him. Whatever he’s planning, it’s against Norman,” Peter told her. “I also got my hands on the Devil’s Breath file again. It’s an Oscorp manufactured drug.” 

“Well that explains why the Demons were after Standish.” Yuri looked over at where Sable was questioning said CFO. “I shouldn’t even be talking to you, you know.” 

“I know, but I appreciate you keeping me in the loop,” Peter told her honestly. “I’ll keep you updated if I find out anything else.” 

“I’ll do the same. Now get out of here before Sable spots you again. You're already on her shit list.” 

“Ooh, Yuri. Such a filthy mouth,” Peter joked, swinging up before Yuri could hit him with her usual glare whenever they met in person. “You love me, Yuri!” 

“You test my patience,” she replied, shaking her head fondly. 

~*~  

“I can’t believe they’re still going through with the campus wide Halloween party,” Peter said in slight disbelief, looking at the posters hung up around the school. 

“After what happened, they probably just want to forget for a night,” Ned offered. “Do either of you plan on going?” 

“I hate parties. All they do is encourage the underage to drink, and the possibility of driving drunk increases,” MJ said, opening up her notebook. “But like Ned said, I wouldn’t mind ignoring shit for a night, so I’m going.” 

Peter and Ned met each other’s gazes before shrugging. “I wouldn’t mind acting like a regular nineteen-year-old for the night,” he admitted. “With everything going on, I need a night to just let loose.” 

“Hey, you already have a costume and everything,” Ned said, excitedly. “You could probably use one of your old suits.” 

“Well...there is a stealth suit I’ve been working on in any free time I have. I could wear it for the night and see how people react to it before wearing it for missions.” Peter smiled wide. “I’ve been wanting to wear it for a while now.” 

“Then do it!” 

The night of the party left Peter pretty excited. The last one he went to had been at Liz’s, and that didn’t go over very well. Ned made a joke that he hoped Peter didn’t ditch him at this one, even though there were no hard feelings between them from that night. Ned understood Spider-Man responsibilities came above high school or college parties. 

“Sick suit, dude!” Ned said excitedly, spotting Peter as he got closer. 

Peter took his mask off and did a playful turn in front of his friends. “Thanks, man. Papa said the large red spider was a little overkill, but Dad thinks it’s awesome.” 

“Why all black?” 

“Better for sticking to the shadows.” Peter shrugged. “It’s weird being able to unmask in public and not get second looks.” 

“It’s weird that you have people dressing up as you,” MJ said, pointing towards a group of drunk guys in different tacky cheap rip-offs of the Spider-Man suit. “Or your villains.” 

“Yeah, that’s something I’ll probably never get used to,” Peter admitted. “But, let’s have some fun tonight. I actually called in a favor with Wade to cover for me so I could have the night off for patrol.” 

“Can’t wait to see what people say to that,” MJ joked. “C’mon, I wanna get something to drink before all the good shit is gone.” 

Ned had wandered off at some point, getting lost in a sea of cheap costumes and intoxicated college students. MJ stuck close to him for a good portion of the night, cheeks growing flushed over the course of their time there. She seemed to be enjoying herself, which Peter was happy for as they danced together. Due to his own metabolism, he wasn’t ever tipsy for long enough to really enjoy it, and he wasn’t drinking fast enough to get to the affects quicker. As they were walking over to an open space to get some air, Peter overheard a mention of Isaac Delaney’s name from a passing student. 

“Hey, MJ, how much have you had to drink?” he asked her, sitting down with her on an open bench. 

“I’m definitely feeling it, but I’m still mostly coherent. Why?” she answered, pulling a little at the collar of her costume. 

“I need to do something for Spider-Man,” he answered, glad for the loud music and people so he didn’t have to worry too much about being overheard by other students. “Have you seen Ned at all since we got here?” 

“Yeah. He’s dancing with Betty right now.” MJ pointed to a spot on the designated dance floor, where Peter could easily spot both Ned and Betty dancing close together. 

“Stay here and keep an eye out for anything suspicious, please?” he asked her. “I’m going to get Ned.” 

MJ nodded, and watched as Peter went over to where they saw Ned. Ned seemed unwilling to part from Betty, but easily went over and sat with MJ once Peter explained what was going on. Peter saw a man in a lizard costume suddenly being dragged by a couple of Demons. The students around them watched on as it happened, but either didn't care, or had too much alcohol in their system. Either way, Peter followed behind them and stealthily entered the building they went into. 

He was led into a large room where Martin himself was standing, surrounded by a bunch of Demons. He was glowing in a way that reminded Peter of negative film, colors inverted and not looking quite right. Issac was led to stand right in front of Martin, the lizard mask torn off and revealing a terrified expression. 

“Who led the Devil’s Breath project?” Martin demanded. “I need a name.” 

“No, you don’t,” Peter said, leaping off the wall where he was hiding and crouched on top of a pile of old equipment. “It’s over for you, Martin.” 

Martin sucked the energy out of two of the nearest Demons, making Peter’s eyes widen behind his mask. Before he could comment, Martin shot two beams of the strange energy at Peter, who easily dodged the blast. 

“Well that explains a lot,” he muttered to himself. 

Martin turned to Isaac and his eyes flashed a minute before Isaac's own eyes turned blue, like he was under a daze. Something clicked in Peter’s head, and he quickly realised that the cause of the zombie-like individuals roaming around town causing havoc were due to Martin himself. 

“A name.” 

“Doctor Morgan Michaels,” Isaac replied dutifully, accepting the gun handed to him from one of the Demons. 

“No!” Peter shouted, leaping off from his position to stop Isaac from doing anything. He was suddenly hit with another wave of energy, causing him to fly back into the wall, momentarily getting dizzy and having to regain his senses before continuing on. It didn’t take too long, but by the time he was able to move again, he watched as Isaac put the gun to his own head and shoot. 

Martin smirked, and sent the Demons with him to attack Peter as he slunk out the door during the distraction. Cursing, Peter wasn’t able to follow him out as the Demons swarmed him, intent on taking him down by any means necessary. Knowing how the Demons got their powers now didn’t settle well with Peter, but he was able to leave the fight with only minor injuries. His suit was torn in a couple places, and he felt the usual dull throb of oncoming bruises. They’d never stay for too long, but they still sucked. 

Not wanting to cause attention from his state, Peter texted MJ, who he knew would relay the message to Ned, about having to leave and head home. MJ wished him luck before letting him know they were both heading home, as well. 

As soon as stepped foot into his house, he tore his suit’s mask off, already feeling like he was about to cry. Walking past the living room, he suddenly froze when he saw his dads plus a few other avengers sitting around the living room watching a movie. 

“Hey, kid,” Tony said, having to do a double take when he saw the upset look on Peter’s face. He got up and pulled his son into a hug. “What happened, Pete?” 

Peter clung to his dad. “I failed, Dad. Martin killed Isaac Delaney right in front of me, and I couldn’t do anything to stop him.” 

“I thought you were just going to the Halloween party?” Steve asked from next to Tony. Peter felt another hand on his back, offering his own form of comfort, and Peter leaned into it. 

“I was. I was with MJ when I overheard that Delaney was there. I thought I could talk to him quick about Devil’s Breath, but the Demons got to him before I could.” Peter pulled back, still looking upset, but not like he had been before. “I watched him die, Dad, and I couldn’t do anything to stop it.” 

“Hey, that wasn’t your fault. Knowing you, you still did the best you could, kiddo,” Tony said, running a comforting hand through Peter’s hair. “Any one of us in this room has accidentally let people die on our watch. But what is it that I’m always telling you?” 

“Heroes always get back up,” Peter recited, smiling a little. “No matter what.” 

“That’s right, squirt.” Tony kissed his forehead while Steve rubbed his back. "Did you learn anything?” 

Peter nodded. “Yeah, a name: Morgan Michaels. He was the lead for the Devil’s Breath project. Martin’s going after him.” 

“FRIDAY, did you catch that?” Tony asked. 

“Of course, sir. Running a city-wide search of Morgan Michaels,” FRIDAY replied promptly. 

“If you don’t get anything in city, go countrywide and then worldwide,” Tony ordered. “I wanna know where he is.” 

“Right away, boss.” 

“Uh, not that I don’t love seeing the others, but why are they here?” Peter asked, peeking over his dad’s shoulder to see the other avengers watching them. 

“Oh! It’s movie night, and since most of them were in town, we figured why not?” Tony grinned. 

“And you didn’t invite me?” Peter exaggerated a pout, causing Steve to snicker from next to Tony. 

“You were being a normal teenager for once,” Tony replied, lightly flicking the tip of Peter’s nose. Peter scrunched it and batted his dad’s hand away. “You’re welcome to join us now, though. After you shower, of course. You reek of blood, sweat, and alcohol.” 

“Aw, Dad, does that mean you want a big hug?” Peter asked, opening his arms wide. Even though Tony had already given him a hug, he acted repulsed. “You don’t wanna hug your only child? C’mon, Dad!” 

“Begone stinky child,” Tony said, messing up Peter’s hair and pushing him towards the bathroom. “I will love you more when you don’t reek.” 

Playfully rolling his eyes, Peter did as he was told and took a quick shower. Throwing on some random pajama pants and a graphic tee, he went back out to the living room where Tony was sat on the arm of the couch with a Starkpad in his hands. 

“Anything?” he asked, standing behind his dad to look at the screen. 

“Not since you gave the name,” Tony replied. 

“I’ve located Dr. Morgan Michaels, boss,” FRIDAY spoke up just then, causing Peter to smirk and Tony to sigh at the timing. 

“Alright, FRI, send the results to my tablet,” Tony instructed, closing out of what he was working on. 

A ping of Michaels was seen on the map on the tablet, singling he was still at an Oscorp lab. Tony quickly closed out of that before opening any information on him that FRIDAY was able to find. 

“Looks like he was assigned the lead after an accident killed the last one,” Peter read off, eyes widening a little. “Fisk funded the project? No wonder Norman wasn't in any hurry to get him locked away. He was the one funding all this.” 

“Looks like Norman also went through great lengths to get it covered up, too. If something like this got out, he wouldn’t win re-election,” Tony added. “Let's see if I can access any more of Norman’s files on this.” 

“Here, let me,” Peter said, accepting the tablet. “Harry told me a back way of getting into Oscorp’s servers. Said it was stupid that our dads were rivals, so we taught each other ways to hack into both servers.” 

“Harry Osborn knows how to–” Tony stopped and let out a breath. “Kid, I really don’t need to be greyer than I already am.” 

“Don’t worry, that was, like, five updates ago. You change it so often; I doubt he could get in now. You’re just lucky Norman doesn’t update his own nearly as often,” Peter explained with a wave of his hand. Once he was in, he handed the tablet back to Tony. “Don’t give me the ‘I should lecture you but I’m too proud of what you’ve done’ look. I’ve seen it too many times.” 

Tony grumbled under his breath as the others in the room just laughed. Steve himself was grinning in pride, and even squeezed Peter’s shoulder. 

“Hmm. Looks like it was a cure of some sorts that went wrong,” Tony read, scrolling through the information. “Norman was trying to use it to cure diseases that haven’t been able to get nicked yet. Instead, though, it looks like it destroys the immune system instead of trying to save it.” 

“So, if Martin gets his hands on it, we could have a bioweapon problem?” Peter asked, shifting from foot to foot in nervousness. 

Tony suddenly looked pale. “Unless we stop him beforehand...yeah.” 

“That seems like a lot of work just to get back at Norman. Wouldn’t it be easier just to kill him?” Clint asked. 

Peter thought back to the journal. “He just doesn’t want to kill Norman; he wants to completely ruin him . If this gets out, Norman could very easily find himself with a lot of lawsuits. Oscorp would be ruined. It seems, to Martin, that’s the better option.” 

“Christ.” Tony ran a hand over his face. 

“I think I finally know what Fisk meant when he got arrested,” Peter stated quietly. “He was funding Devil’s Breath, so he obviously knew about it. Maybe Martin has someone else helping him, too. Dad...this could be bigger than a petty grudge against Norman. And we don’t have much information to go off of, if this is true.” 

“I’ll keep going through Norman’s records of Devil’s Breath. See if I can find anything else.” He turned to Peter. “Why don’t you go get some sleep, kiddo. You look dead on your feet.” 

Peter blinked at the change in topic, but found himself nodding. "Yeah, alright. Let me know–” 

“If I find anything. I know the drill, kid. Now shoo.” 

Snickering quietly, Peter headed to his room where he fell asleep the minute his head hit the pillow. 

Chapter Text

Peter’s eyes slowly grew sore the longer he stared at the work in front of him. Rubbing his eyes, Peter let out a soft groan as he sat up straight to stretch his back. He was nearly finished with the work— a series of wiring programming that needed to be tweaked that Otto sent to his Starkpad that he used for work. 

“Peter, I’ve made a wonderful breakthrough.” 

Looking up, Peter blinked a minute as the world around him took a moment to focus. He couldn’t help but blush a little at the thought he must've been sitting at his desk for longer than he realised. Following Otto and being silently thankful for the excuse to stretch his legs, Peter’s curiosity slowly became the best of him. Quirking an eyebrow when he saw two mechanical arms sitting on the table, with an odd-looking helmet sitting on the table next to them, he turned to his boss. 

“How do you control them?” he asked, impressed with the sleek look and design Otto had made with the newest update. 

“With the mind,” Otto answered, tapping his temple. 

“Neural interface? I thought all that was still in theories and testing.” There was a hint of a smile on Peter’s face as he said this. “Would you mind if I took a look at the programming?” 

“Go right ahead. Tweak anything if you see fit.” 

Peter grabbed Otto’s tablet and opened up the programming Otto had set up for the mechanical arms. There were a few adjustments that needed to be made to make it faster, but otherwise worked flawlessly. “Doc, this is incredible. How long did this take you?” 

“A couple sleepless nights.” Otto shrugged. “What’s losing some sleep when you can be making medical miracles?” 

Otto grabbed the helmet sitting on the table and slipped it onto his head. He flipped some sort of switch on the back of his neck and it lit up in different colored lights. In front of them, the arms moved as if on their own, filling two mugs with coffee before handing them to each man standing in the room. 

“That’s amazing,” Peter said with a wide smile. “You know, my dad would be more than willing to fund this if it proves beneficial. With funding like that, there’s so much more we could do.” 

“Men like Stark aren’t good for this city, either, Peter,” Otto said, his words firm as he directed them at the nineteen-year-old. “They act like they’re better than everyone just because their tech is so successful and well received.” 

“Um, I don’t mean to interrupt, but that is my dad you’re talking about, sir. And I’m a Stark as well, in case you’ve forgotten. I don’t appreciate you speaking about my family like that,” Peter said, setting the tablet back onto the table. 

“Sorry, I didn’t mean to offend you,” Otto stated truthfully. “Norman’s ruined a lot of great names of science for me, I suppose. The two of us used to pour over your grandfather’s tech all the time, trying to learn from it.” He sighed and turned off the machine for the arms and sat the helmet down. “Like I keep telling you, Peter, I appreciate the offer, but it’s unnecessary. You can home for the day, if you’d like. I caught you nodding off earlier. Get some rest.” 

Peter pursed his lips together and nodded, not wanting to push the subject any further. As he turned to head back, he noticed a green welding suit hanging up on a nearby shelf. “Never thought I’d catch you in green, Doc,” he joked, laughing a little as he collected his things from his desk. 

~*~ 

“I don’t know if he’ll even like this,” Peter said, staring at the notepad in front of him. He was trying to plan out something to build to give Tony for Christmas, but most of his ideas fell through. “God, why can’t I think of anything?” 

Steve chuckled softly, walking over to peek over Peter's shoulder. “I think you’re thinking about this too hard, bud. You know he’ll like anything you make him.” 

“I know that, Papa.” Peter looked up at Steve with a knowing look. “You and Dad have only been telling me that since I was old enough to make you guys stuff.” 

“So, when you were one?” Steve teased with a smile. “Rhodey was telling me about the time when the two of you conspired together to make him something ‘big and bootiful’, as you so eloquently put it at the time.” 

Peter blushed, but smiled anyway. “And then the following year, I was making you both stuff for Christmas.” 

Steve kissed the top of Peter’s head. “Don’t overthink it, alright? I know it’s a parent’s typical response to say, but your dad will honestly like anything you give him. Remember that robot you made that could only spin in circles for about five minutes before dying?” 

“The one that Dad was so proud of me making that he started using it as a paperweight just so he’d have an excuse to keep it on his desk? Yeah, I remember. He still uses it.” Peter smiled at the memory. Flipping to another clean page in his notebook, Peter let out a sigh and started sketching out something else. 

His pencil suddenly skewed across the page when a loud explosion sounded, startling out of his intense concentration. He and Steve exchanged a look before quickly suiting up. 

“Sable was transferring Michaels to a safe house today,” Peter informed Steve. “I’m guessing it probably didn’t go so well.” 

“I’ll meet you there with anybody I can round up. Be safe, Peter.” 

“Always am,” Peter replied with a grin, although it went unseen under his mask as he quickly took off towards the scene of the explosion. 

When he got there, there were cars upturned and Demons firing at Sable guards from the back of a large black tank. Peter scanned the crowd for Morgan Michaels and went after the Demons hauling him towards the tank, a briefcase clutched tightly in his arms. 

“Let him go!” Peter shouted, webbing up one of the Demons. He had to dodge an onslaught of bullets as one of the Demons tried distracting him so Michaels could be taken. “Geez, guys. You really know how to make a lady feel special.” 

After knocking a few more unconscious, Peter quickly chased after the retreating tank. Cursing under his breath, he struggled to stay on top of it as more Demons seemed to pour out of nowhere to take him down. In his comms, he could hear his dad tell him the situation where they were had calmed, but Sable was on a warpath to chase the tank. With that in mind, Peter attempted to stop the moving vehicle. Attaching two of his strongest webs to nearby buildings, Peter dug his heels into the side of the tank, putting his all into slowing down the tank enough to get it to stop. The muscles in his arms burned in the effort, and he didn't have the mental capacity at the moment to worry about everything around them. In the back of his mind, he hoped everybody was moving out of the way so nobody got injured. 

The tank ran into the corner of a building, effectively tipping it over on its side and getting it to stop. Peter jumped out of the way before it could squish him and hurried towards the cab. 

“This isn’t the way to go, Martin,” he told the man, who looked incredibly angry about being stopped. “There are other ways to get back at Norman without killing a mass amount of people.” 

“You will never understand!” he yelled, taking the energy out of two of his men before hitting Peter with a beam of energy. Peter wasn’t able to dodge it in time, and got knocked unconscious long enough for Martin to slip away with Devil’s Breath. 

“This is all your fault,” Sable said, poking Peter roughly in the chest. Peter still didn’t quite understand what he did to get on her bad side. “I told you to hang back and let us deal with Michaels today.” 

“Because that obviously went so well, huh?” Peter couldn’t help but snark. He immediately felt bad, but Sable was interrupted by Michaels. 

“I’ll go with you, Sable,” he told her, obviously trying to calm the tension. “I’ll tell you everything you want to know about what happened.” He then turned to Peter. “Thank you, Spider-Man, for saving me.” 

Letting out a breath, Peter looked once more at Sable before heading towards the Avengers Tower. Knowing how Sable could get when she was angry (usually at him), he didn’t want to stay on the scene for longer than necessary. Everybody else was already there, looking unharmed, save for a scratch or two. 

“Hey, kid. How are you holding up?” Tony asked, spotting his son walking into the main area. 

“Fine. Martin was able to take off with Devil’s Breath, though. And Sable is blaming me because I didn’t let her completely handle it,” Peter answered. He plopped onto the couch next to Sam, letting out a long sigh. “Shit, I’m sore. I’ve never tried stopping a tank that big before.” 

“Well, we’re proud that you were able to,” Steve said, hints of his authority voice slipping through. It usually took about ten minutes for it to fully slip away after a mission, no matter how long it was. 

“What are we going to do about Devil’s Breath?” Bruce asked. He looked spotless yet; he must’ve stayed back at the tower. “Martin has it and, according to Peter, plans on using it.” 

“Wouldn’t he have to go somewhere super populated for it to really work?” Peter asked. “I mean, looking at it from his perspective, he’d have to in order to maximize damage.” 

“Like at Grand Central Station?” Steve asked. 

“Isn’t there an Oscorp Expo being held there tonight?” Sam looked at Peter questionably. “I remember you mentioning something about MJ covering the event.” 

Peter’s eyes widened. “I wouldn’t doubt it. It’d be a double bonus that it’s an Oscorp event, alongside being a big train hub.” 

“Either way, it wouldn’t hurt to split up and check other populated areas,” Steve pointed out. “We can’t base everything on a guess.” 

“Even if there’s a lot of reason to believe it?” 

Steve gave Peter a look, but it dropped quickly. “It doesn’t hurt to be cautious.” 

“Right, right.” He stood up and pulled his mask back on. “Well, I’m not going to sit around. Especially if my friend is at the place where Martin could possibly be.” 

“Girlfriend,” Sam muttered, causing the others to smirk. 

Peter flipped Sam off before heading out of the tower. As he left, he could still hear the others snickering, causing him to smile a little as he swung towards GCS. Erring on the side of caution, Peter rang up MJ to warn her of the Martin possibly being there. 

“Hey, loser,” was what he was greeted with. 

“Hey, MJ. Be careful working the Oscorp Expo piece, alright? I think Martin might be headed that way with Devil’s Breath.” 

“Devils Breath? Isn t that the same stuff from the file you found at Fisk’s auction house?”  

“The very same one. Turns out, Fisk was funding the project. He must’ve been keeping the file as blackmail in case Norman ever tried something. Anyway, Martin got his hands on it and might be heading to the Expo,” Peter explained. “Please get out of there if he gets there.” 

“Im not going to save my own ass when I can help the others, too,” MJ said stubbornly. 

“Please MJ?” 

“Well see. You keep safe, too, nerd.”  

“I’ll do my best.” 

After hanging up, Peter swung onto the top of the building. Not wanting to make a scene in case Martin had decided to make an entrance in the meantime, he slipped in through the vents and crawled towards the nearest one to peek through the cracks. The sound of screaming floated up to his ears, and he saw a bunch of Demons holding people hostage. Peter spotted MJ sitting by a small girl who was crying. Unable to help himself, Peter smiled a little before silently slipping out of the vent and sticking close to the ceiling. 

“Karen, zoom in on Martin,” he told his AI softly. 

Karen did as he asked, focusing in on the bright red tube held in his hand. He inserted it into some sort of device, accenting it with a soft ‘click’ when it settled in. After he walked away, he quickly called MJ. 

“MJ, can you do me a favor? I can’t do two things at once, so I’m going to need you to do something big for me,” he told her in a quiet voice. “Do you see the machine that Martin put Devil’s Breath in? I need you to go over to it and try turning it off.” 

“Are you crazy?”  

“I’ll walk you through it. You’ll be fine.” 

Peter watched in tense anticipation as MJ crawled over to the table where it sat. As she did so, Peter managed to quietly take out the guards surrounding her and webbing them up. He continued doing that as he talked her through the process, a collective breath of relief when MJ told him the timer stopped, and the machine was off. 

“Where is everyone?” Martin’s voice boomed. “I want you to find whatever hero is responsible and end them.” 

“Gotta go,” Peter told MJ, hanging up quickly and dropping down off the ceiling. “Hey, Martin! I was just hanging around and decided to drop in for a chat.” 

“Spider-Man. You are a very persistent pest,” Martin said, gesturing to his men. “Get him. And make sure he’s dead.” 

“I never liked parties,” Peter said, groaning a little as one of the Demons got a good hit to his gut. “If you wanted me doubled over in pain, you should’ve let my dad tell a joke.” 

The Demons were persistent, and there were a lot even after all the ones Peter had managed to take out before. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see MJ leading the others out. A surge of pride filled Peter, but he had to focus on the fight in front of him. Once he was done, he ran down the way he saw Martin heading, confident the police had already been called, and were waiting outside. Jumping onto one of the trains, Peter crawled along the top before jumping down in the car Martin was in. 

“I’m surprised you were able to catch a train running on time, Martin. Not a very solid getaway to fall back on,” he quipped, dodging a beam of the negative energy. “Damn. I knew some of my jokes were bad, but that’s no reason to kill me.” 

When Martin quickly tired out, Peter swung and hit Martin hard, sending him tumbling back into the next car. There was blood on Martin’s face, which judging by the crunch as Peter landed the hit, he had a broken nose. Peter chased after him and kept dodging most hits from Martin. He repeated the same thing as in the other car, hitting him as hard as he’d allow and sending Martin into the front of the train. This time, though, Martin was rendered unconscious, leaving Peter to scramble to stop the train before anybody could get hurt. 

Martin was toted away by Sable, much to Peter’s slight irritation, along with Devil’s Breath still in the dispersal machine. Peter was glaring at the Sable truck when a hand landed on his shoulder, startling him out of his thoughts. 

“As far as a villain takedown goes, that was pretty lackluster,” Steve admitted, drawing a snort from Peter. “You did well, son. Your dad and I are proud of you.” 

“And there’s one less nut job off the streets and heading to the Raft,” Tony added, landing next to the two of them in the Iron Man suit. “How many you got in there, kid? Five?” 

“Six, with Martin. I hear the press is calling him Mr. Negative. Seems fitting, all things considered.” Peter sighed. “How’s MJ?” 

“She’s a little shaken up, but she’s alright. Police said she’s the one who led everybody out.” Tony gently squeezed Peter’s shoulder. “I like her.” 

Shaking his head with a laugh, Peter turned away from the scene. “I’m gonna head to FEAST and see how May’s holding up.” 

“Let her know I’ll call her later,” Tony added, lifting the mask up to look at Peter. “She’ll probably want to yell at me anyway for not telling her.” 

Peter laughed. “Will do.” 

Hurrying towards the shelter, Peter couldn’t help but worry about his aunt. She had always put so much faith into Martin, especially when it concerned the shelter. Over the years, Martin had done a number of great deeds around the city—the shining beacon of them all being the two FEAST centers. 

Landing quietly on the roof, Peter quickly changed out of his suit and into regular clothes before heading down to May’s office. Both Miles and May were watching the news play on the small TV May kept in her office. The sound of the office door opening causing both of their gazes to snap to Peter. 

“Oh, Peter.” May quickly pulled her nephew into a hug. “I’m so glad you’re alright. I was so worried.” 

“I’m fine, May, I promise.” He pulled back just enough to see her face. “How are you?” 

“In shock. That’s not the Martin I know,” she answered firmly. “He’s not the same man as the one who started all this.” 

“What are you going to do?” 

“Continue on, obviously. It isn’t these people’s faults that Martin went off the deep end.” May pulled her arms away and wiped the tears off her face. She turned back to Miles. “If you don’t want to volunteer here anymore, I’d understand.” 

Miles was quick to shake his head. “Like you said, it isn’t their fault Martin did what he did. They still need help.” 

Peter grinned. “You're a great kid, Miles.” 

“You’re only four years older than me, Stark,” Miles said, grinning back. 

“Stark-Rogers,” he playfully corrected. 

May pulled Peter in for another hug. “Tell your dad to call me. I want to talk to him.” 

“Oh, trust me, he’s already preparing for it,” Peter said with a laugh. 

On his way out, he couldn’t help but overhear one of the other volunteers commenting about the events of Martin Li going evil. He froze when he heard, “May better not be the next one, or else we’re all screwed.” 

“My Aunt May would never do anything malicious,” he told them firmly, both of whom were startled out of their conversation. “Don’t you dare speak of word of her negatively. She spends all her free time here when she doesn’t have to. FEAST means a lot to her, more than either of you could even think. So, don’t speak badly of her when she isn’t even here to defend herself.” With that, he marched out of FEAST. 

Chapter Text

His professor was droning on and on about the essay that’s due by the end of the week. Peter couldn’t seem to find it in himself to follow along for too long before the pounding in his head prevented him from concentrating too hard on the lecture. He’s already halfway done with the essay that his professor was talking about. Despite Martin being off the streets, there was still quite a few Demons still wreaking havoc. Peter would’ve been done with his essay long before the due date if it wasn't for them. Steve always made sure to remind Peter of his homework before every patrol, and for the most part, he was able to get it done. Tony wasn’t quite as strict about it, but their biggest rule was homework before hero work. 

His phone is sitting face down on the desk in front of him. A habit still left over from his high school days when the teachers wanted to see it laying on the desk instead of in students’ hands. Peter’s professors didn’t care as much as long as their grades were decent and they were still getting assignments done. Suddenly, a loud buzzing went through the classroom, causing Peter’s face to turn bright red once he realised it was his phone making all the noise. He hurriedly snatched it off the desk and shoved it into his hoodie’s front pocket, not missing the way his professor glared over at him for the interruption. 

Thankfully, she turned back to going back to what she was talking about. Peter's phone stopped buzzing, and he peeked down to see he missed a call from Otto. Furrowing his eyebrows, he waited for either a voicemail notification or a text to come through. He didn’t have to wait long– Otto was pretty good at leaving Peter a message if he didn’t answer a call. Unfortunately, he still had about twenty minutes left of his English lecture before he could listen to it. 

Peter was one of the first ones out once they were dismissed. All of his things were hastily shoved into his school backpack, papers no doubt crunching and folding. Pulling up the voicemail Otto left, Peter already started heading in that direction. 

“Hey, Peter! Sorry for calling you while youre in class, but I have big news! Come by the lab as soon as you can.”  

Smiling a little, Peter shot MJ a text apologizing for missing their lunch date before catching a bus to Octavius Industries. While he rode, Peter decided to text both Ned and Wade and check how they were doing. He wasn’t able to see much of Wade lately because he lived on the other side of the city, but Ned had been running himself ragged with his new job. Peter felt a little bad for not talking to either of them much lately, but both assured they were doing alright. Wade usually sent him a text if he was ever leaving for a job. Not that he did them much anymore, but he always let Peter know if he was heading out of the city. With nothing from Wade, he could only assume the man was keeping busy doing other things. 

Stepping into Otto’s lab, Peter immediately started looking around for his boss. “Otto?” he called out. “Hey, sorry I’m here a little late. Traffic was awful.” 

“No worries, Peter,” Otto said, appearing almost out of the blue. He was wearing the green welding suit Peter saw the other day. “Look.” 

Two large mechanical arms came out of Otto’s back. Instead of hands on the ends, four claws on each opened before settling on the ground and lifting him up. Peter blinked, staring at them in awe. “Holy shit, Otto. Those look incredible. How are you able to make them move so fluidly?” 

“I upgraded the neural interface. Go ahead and take a look.” 

Peter scrolled through everything Otto had upgraded, making little fixes here and there. The more errors that popped up, the more Peter’s heart sank into his stomach. “Doc, this doesn’t seem very stable. Maybe we should run more tests before we get much further with it.” 

“But this is incredible work already, Peter!” Otto said quickly, two more arms coming out of his back. “I mean, look at this! Norman will be shaking where he stands once he sees them.” 

“I get that, I really do. But, Otto, this tech is unstable. I don’t want you hurting yourself,” Peter told him quickly. “Please.” 

Otto’s face fell, but he nodded anyway. Lowering himself to the floor, Otto reached behind and turned the arms off, extracting them back into his suit. “I’ll work on it some more, then.” 

“I can stay and help. Today’s my short day.” Peter gave him an encouraging smile. “We’re on the right path, Otto. We can do this.” 

“No. I’ll be alright. Just go on home,” Otto told him, tone glum. Peter didn’t want to leave, but he also didn’t want to push Otto anymore. 

On his way home, Peter sent both Steve and MJ a text. One to MJ asking her to come over so they can make up for their missed date; to Steve to ask to make the lasagna of his that MJ liked so much. Both agreed, which made Peter pretty happy. When he got home, he quickly finished his homework, which included the essay hanging over his head. He sent it to Ned for editing before shutting off his laptop and going to help Steve in the kitchen. 

“So...any particular reason MJ is coming over?” Steve asked, smirking a little. 

“We were going to get lunch together, but Otto called me in early to show me something. I’m just making it up to her,” he explained, ignoring the burn in his cheeks. 

“Hmm. No other reason, then?” 

“Papa,” Peter whined, pouting when Steve just bumped shoulders with him. “It’s not like it’s a meet the parents thing when she knows both of you already. Besides, we’re still taking this whole dating thing slow.” 

“When did that all start, anyway?” 

“Not long after Martin was captured. That whole incident scared us a bit into action.” Peter chuckled a little. “Guess we needed a life and death situation to kick our asses in gear, huh?” 

Steve laughed with him. “The team was making bets about when you two would get together. Not that you’re surprised, I imagine.” 

“Nah. I’d be more surprised if they didn’t.” 

The two of them finished up and Steve put it in the oven. After washing his hands, Peter waited for MJ in the living room, working on the Christmas present to Tony some more. 

Dinner ended up being full of teasing from both Tony and Steve. Peter both loved in and wanted to hide away in complete embarrassment. At least MJ seemed to be enjoying herself. He remembered a conversation they had one time that MJ admitted she was jealous of his home life. Her own wasn’t quite as filled with laugher and light as his was. It made Peter glad she liked coming over, then, even if was only for a short time. 

The two of them quietly washed dishes together in the kitchen. Even though Tony mocked him and Steve, Peter always saw the calming way of washing them by hand. MJ never made a comment about the way he did them, instead pushing up her sleeves and drying them before putting them away. 

“Thank you for inviting me over,” she said softly. “I always enjoy spending time with your family.” 

“They love you, too, you know,” he replied. “Honestly, you can come over whenever you want to, even if I’m not home. Honestly, I think they like having you here more than me sometimes.” He chuckled softly. 

MJ looked like she didn’t know what to say to that. He always thought she looked pretty whenever she blushed. She was always pretty in general, but seeing the way her cheeks colored a slight pink he couldn’t help but find adorable. MJ didn’t blush too often, though Peter remembered that most of the time, it came from something he did. 

A large explosion rang out suddenly, causing them to both jump and nearly break the dishes in their hands. It was much like the one that happened when Martin attacked Sable. Peter was scrambling for his phone at the same time Yuri was calling him. 

“What was that?” he asked, directing MJ to sit in the living room. “Please tell me that wasn’t a new guy trying to take over.” 

“Worse,” Yuri said. “ It was from Ryker s. There’s a huge break-out going on right now.”  

“I’m on my way.” He quickly hung up before looking at MJ. “Please stay here in case May’s on her way. There’s a break-out happening at Ryker’s.” 

MJ’s eyes widened as she nodded. Suiting up quickly, Peter didn’t wait for his parents to be caught up to speed before running out of the house. Besides, MJ will let them know and Tony will most likely tell May to head there if she wasn’t already. As soon as he spotted the police helicopter, he webbed his way up, spotting Yuri in the pilot seat. 

“What’s the situation?” he asked, yelling to be heard over the rain. 

“Every prisoner has escaped. Most of them are heading into the city and causing damage. I want to secure the prison first before going after them,” Yuri told him. 

“What about the Raft?” 

“Different power grid. It’s still on lockdown.” 

“I hope you’re right,” Peter muttered to himself. 

The prison quickly came into view, and Peter jumped down to get started on handling the prisoners. Overhead, Yuri quickly flew towards the control room to see what’s going on there. In his ear, Peter heard the click of the comms connecting as the rest of the team hurried over. 

“Hey, Uncle Rhodey!” Peter said cheerfully, seeing his uncle land next to him. Swiftly kicking the last prisoner in the small area unconscious, he then turned to Rhodey. “Where are the others?” 

“Split up. Some are on the mainland handling the ones who made it that far, and the others are dealing with the rest of the yard,” he answered. 

“I’m going inside, then.” 

"Be careful!" 

Inside wasn’t much better. Prisoners were either fighting each other or the brave guards trying to stop them. “Hey!” he yelled, catching their attention. “Yikes, not all at once, boys. I don’t give it all out on the first date.” 

There were so many prisoners. Peter felt his knuckles and feet growing more and more sore than normal due to all the fighting. Thankfully, none of the prisoners seemed to have anything too sharp to fight with, but many of them were grabbing random objects scattered around to use as weapons. 

“Can I get some help inside?’ he asked into his comms. “There’s too many for just me.” 

“On my way, kid,” Rhodey answered quickly, flying into the room where Peter was shortly after. “Have you heard anything from Yuri since you got here?” 

“No. Last I knew, she was heading towards the control room.” Peter grunted as a prisoner gave him a hard hit to his abdomen due to his distraction. A large spark filled the room, and Electro hovered in the break in the wall. There was a wide smirk on his face as he watched all the chaos. 

“We meet again, Spider-Man. Let’s play a little game, shall we?” He laughed as he suddenly took off, electrical things going wild around them. 

“I thought the Raft was secure!” Peter protested. 

“So did I.” Rhodey fought a couple more prisoners before turning to Peter. “Go after him. I’ll be fine.” 

Hesitating a moment, Peter watched in slight fascination before taking off after Electro. Electro was always one step ahead of him as he’s led outside, much to Peter’s dismay. Frustrated, Peter called Yuri. 

“Yuri, I thought you said the Raft was still on lockdown,” he said in greeting. 

“It was. The same thing happened over there, too. An electrical surge. Electro, Rhino, Negative, and Scorpion all escaped. That s five of your worst enemies.”  

A slightly hysterical laugh bubbled out of Peter’s mouth. “That’s a funny joke, Yuri.” 

“I wish I was joking. Me and another cop are working on repairing the damage. For now, try to keep as much as you can under control.” With that, Yuri hung up to concentrate on what she was doing. 

“What a wonderful night! Five of my biggest headaches are out of the Raft! What more could go wrong?” he asked himself sarcastically. He landed on the top of the Raft where Electro was waiting. “I’m not in a partying mood right now, Max.” 

“But I am.” Electro smirked. “Like my new suit? Got it made specifically for me. A new club initiative.” 

“A new club?” Peter asked. He shook his head. “It doesn’t matter. You’re going back into your cell.” 

“I don’t think so, Spider." Scorpion slithered onto the roof. “We’ve got a new boss and we don't want to disappoint him.” 

Panicking a bit, Peter lunged for Scorpion, managing to get a good kick to his jaw. The ground beneath him shook as Rhino stomped closer, already charging him. Peter was able to dodge him, feeling his hands start to shake. It wasn’t long before Martin joined in as well. 

“Is this club of yours a fan club by any chance? I’m more than willing to sign any autographs for you. Gotta ask nicely, though.” Peter lunged again at Scorpion, yelping when he barely managed to dodge the villain’s tail. “That’s not asking nicely.” 

Much to his dismay, Peter was growing fatigued. Still, he kept pushing through until Rhino managed to smack him onto the ground. Feeling the fatigue hit full force then, he tried in vain to crawl away, screaming loudly as Electro hit him full force with a large wave of his electricity. Laying there, barely conscious, Peter almost missed when someone else joined them on the roof. It wasn’t until he noticed the large metal arms when he figured out who it was. 

“Otto?” he asked weakly, not feeling any fight left in him when he was picked up upside by his feet. 

“Stay out of our way,” Otto said, flinging him off the roof and into the lake below. 

When he came to a few hours later, Steve and Tony were once more sitting in the chairs next to his bed. They both looked older than they did before the fight. Exhaustion filled every pore of their face. Looking up, Peter realised why. On the news was the announcement of an outbreak of a nasty disease. 

“He released Devil’s Breath,” he rasped, already feeling the tears in his eyes. “God, I can’t believe it.” 

“Hey, hey.” Tony grabbed the hand closest to him and pressed a kiss to the back of Peter’s hand. “This isn’t anybody’s fault, okay?” 

“Dad, I helped Otto create those arms. I’m part of the reason he’s terrorizing the city.” Peter’s cheeks felt wet, and he hastily rubbed at his face with his free hand. 

“Pete, you didn’t know,” Steve spoke up, sitting on the other side of Peter. “Okay? So, you can’t blame yourself.” 

“Besides, Norman’s the reason the city is getting so sick. Not yours,” Tony added. 

Norman suddenly came onto the TV, like he knew the small family was talking about him. “ These are unfortunate circumstances happening in our city right now,” he started . “Sable International will be the highest form of protection in this city, and all forms of vigilantism is illegal. If anybody sees one of these masked crusaders, report them immediately. The biggest example of this lawlessness is Spider-Man. Sable has given special orders to obtain this fugitive at all costs. If it wasn t for his careless actions, we wouldn ' t have prisoners running free on our streets. We wouldn’t have the city polluted with sickness.”  

Tony quickly turned off the TV before Norman could go any further. “Sorry. Meant to turn that off sooner.” 

“Dad, I was doing my best,” Peter said, looking desperately up at his father. “I thought I was doing good things at my internship. I would’ve never continued on had I known.” 

“I know, bambino.” Tony kissed Peter’s forehead. “Please rest? Your healing factor has already healed most of your wounds, but you still need sleep.” 

“How are the others?” Peter asked, ignoring his dad’s instructions. “Is anyone sick?” 

Tony and Steve exchange a look before Tony let out a sad sigh. “May, Natasha, Clint, and Ned are all sick,” he said quietly. “Natasha and Clint got the worst of when they were helping clear out civilians.” 

Tears filled Peter’s eyes once more. “What?” he asked breathlessly, feeling like the wind got knocked out of him. “Are they okay?” 

“May’s still running FEAST, you know how stubborn she is. I’m not sure about Ned, but MJ went over to check on him. Clint and Natasha are in the med bay right now.” 

“This is all my fault,” Peter whispered, sitting up. “I can’t sit around. I need to fix this.” 

“No, what you need is rest.” Tony put his hands on Peter’s shoulders. “Kid, I know you’re upset. But running yourself ragged isn’t the answer. No offense, but you just got your ass handed to you.” 

Peter ran a hand through his hair, managing to snag a few on some wild knots. “I know, Dad. I just...I can’t sit by and do nothing when the city is in chaos. I know there’s the Avengers who are helping, and I know you and Papa, but...I need to help.” 

“Peter, you can’t help if you’re exhausted.” Based on Tony’s tone, he was pretty serious about this, which made Peter’s heart sink. “I know you want to help, bud, but you can’t if you’re only running on four hours of sleep. Which you got, may I remind you, because you passed out from pain.” 

Peter clenched his jaw. He knew where his dad was coming from, but he was still upset about not getting to help. “Alright,” he muttered. Unable to help himself, he smiled a little when Tony kissed the top of his head, followed by Steve, before they both left the room. 

Glancing over at the window, Peter already knew what he was going to do. Making sure his dads weren’t waiting on the other side of the door, he grabbed the spare suit he kept in the closet in his room in the tower. After slipping it on, he quickly swung into the night. 

~*~  

Usually, Peter was accustomed to all the light in the city, even during the darkest parts of night. Seeing how it was lit up now was something else entirely. Police sirens ringing through the air everywhere made Peter's senses go wild. City lights felt too bright, and prisoners were causing too much mayhem and destruction. Fires roared from different places throughout the city; screams pierced the calm air. 

His body ached as it still recovered from the beating he took earlier in the night. If he took a break, however, he would never forgive himself. The city was in chaos, and he needed to be there to help fix it. Plus, he still couldn't get over the overwhelming sense of dread whenever he thought about Otto. Maybe if he had even stayed there longer at the lab... 

Shaking his head to clear the train of thoughts, Peter sent a quick text to MJ and Ned to check up on them. He even sent one to Miles, making sure both he and Rio were alright amongst the fury. Landing quickly on a random rooftop, Peter let his eyes scan over the city, trying to decide where to head to first. He’s saved from figuring it out by a call from Yuri. 

“Spider-Man, I need your help down at the upper east and upper west precincts,” Yuri said quickly. “ Both Rhino and Electro are wreaking havoc here.”  

“Okay. I’m on my way.” 

“Where are we going?” 

Letting out a yelp, Peter turned quickly to see Deadpool clambering up on the roof. “Wade?” he asked in disbelief. “What are you doing here?” 

“Hey Petey Pie,” Wade greeted, walking over. “Daddy Stark sent me to help you.” 

“My dad sent you?” Peter blinked, confused. “You know what? We don’t have time. I’ll give you a ride and explain once we’re there.” 

“Oh, fuck yeah.” Wade climbed onto Peter’s back, holding on tight as Peter swung to the upper west precinct. “Holy shit, Webs.” 

“Let’s make quick work. We still have one more precinct to cover.” Peter hopped down to the street and quickly started taking out the inmates that were in front of the building. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Wade doing to same, making Peter a bit proud that he was doing it in a non-lethal way like he had promised Peter a year ago. 

“I don’t see either Rhino or Electro,” Wade said, looking around the street. “Although considering the damage, I’d guess Rhino was just here.” 

“Yeah, I got that feeling, too. C’mon, we still have one more to get to.” 

The situation at the other precinct was a lot more complicated than either of them initially thought. There was live electricity coating the exterior of the precinct with different transformers powering the surge. 

“No sparky man here,” Wade pointed out. “He must’ve charged it up before taking off.” 

“I’ll handle the transformers if you wanna get a start on the Demons,” Peter instructed before running off towards the first one. He could feel the heat radiating off the building, and he managed to jolt himself with the shock from webbing up the transformers to power them off. Once he was finished, and the building was no longer lighting up, he went off to help Wade. 

“What I don’t understand,” Wade suddenly said, shooting a Demon in the leg, “is why your villains are running off.” 

“I don’t know, Wade.” Peter webbed one to a newspaper stand. “I think Otto has something else planned. By the way, where is everybody else?” 

“Trying to round up more prisoners. If you ask me, it’s just the author wanting to insert me into here and gave me a random purpose.” 

Peter laughed, not sure what Wade was even talking about. It was the stressful times like these that Wade always seemed to have a knack for cheering Peter up regardless. Tony may not be overly fond of the mercenary, but Peter would always consider him a close friend. 

“Incoming call from May Parker.” 

“Peter? Where are you?”  

Startled, Peter looked at Wade as he answered the call. “May? What’s wrong? Where are you?” 

“Miles and I are at the FEAST shelter in Harlem. Some prisoners were demanding food and whatnot, so we went over to help keep it safe. Some of the prisoners got angry and set it on fire. Neither of us can find a way out.”  

Peter blinked at the word vomit and froze. “Wade and I will be right there. Stay safe.” He quickly gestured to Wade. “Hop on, we need to save some people from a burning building.” 

“Ooh, how perfectly cliché. Reminds me of Tobey McGuire’s first Spider-Man movie,” Wade prattled on as Peter swung as fast as he could. “Is Green Goblin an enemy of yours yet? Probably not. The game set that up for the sequel.” 

Ignoring Wade, Peter dropped him off on the street. “Look for any civilians inside. I’m going to look for my aunt and Miles.” 

“Aye aye, cap’s son.” 

Peter swung into a random window, head whipping all around as he called out for May and Miles. 

“In here!” May’s voice called out. 

Quickly making his way over, he cursed when he was faced with a fallen down beam in front of the room where he heard May’s voice come from. “Hang on, I have to clear the blockage.” 

Grunting under the strain, Peter put his all into moving the large slab of concrete. He could feel the ground under him shake unsteadily as he did so, making his heart race quicker than it already was. 

“Heat levels rising,” Karen informed him ever so helpfully. “I’d recommend leaving the area as soon as possible.” 

“I know, Karen,” he grunted out, finally getting the stupid beam out of the way. Thankful for the padding in his suit, he opened the door as gestured for May and Miles to make their way out. 

“Hello Miss. May. We’re meeting again under terrible circumstances, aren’t we?” Wade spoke up from a nearby window. He was half inside and half out yet, ready to help the two out. 

Peter helped lead them towards where Wade was waiting to help at the window. As soon as May made it out, the ground under Peter shook. “Miles, go,” he shouted before it collapsed and he found himself falling. In an act of desperation, he shot a web up towards where the window was, and startled when he was suddenly stopped. Looking up, he saw Miles leaning out the window holding onto the string of web. “Oh, thank God it worked.” 

It took the effort of Miles and Wade to pull him up. He would’ve cracked a joke about being too heavy, but Peter knew Miles was just trying to help. Also, he had a feeling Wade couldn’t tell him no, either. Either way, Peter was still feeling slightly claustrophobic from the crumbling building and couldn’t focus on much else. Making it to an alleyway nearby away from the fire took more effort than he was willing to admit. Even though he wasn’t crushed in any buildings this time around, seeing falling debris always seemed to trigger the bad memories. 

“Spidey?” Wade’s voice broke through the fog in his head. “You okay, Webs?” 

“Bad memories resurfacing,” he answered, pulling off his mask without thinking. He needed air, and his mask tended to feel restrictive whenever he thought about Vulture dropping the building on him. 

“Um.” 

Head whipping to the side, Peter’s eyes widened when he suddenly remembered Miles was with them. Dumbly, Peter put a hand over his face, as if Miles would magically forget who was under the mask. From next to him, Wade just snorted. 

“Great tactic there, Spidey,” he said, poking Peter in the side to get him to at least smile. 

“I promise I won’t say anything,” Miles said quickly. He looked at May before looking back at Peter. “I admire you too much, man. I wouldn’t do that to you.” 

Peter let out a sigh of relief and let his hand drop. “Thank you. Can you and May please keep an eye on FEAST? Take care of any sick patients— yes that includes you Aunt May— and let me know if anything happens? Wade, can you let my dads know what happened and see if they can find an anti-serum?” 

“What are you going to do, then?” Wade asked. 

“They’re my villains on the loose.” Peter stated it so easily, as if it was obvious. “I have to catch them.” 

“Pete.” May put a hand on his shoulder, catching his attention. “Sweetie, you don’t have to do this alone. We’re all willing to help in whatever ways we can.” 

“You already are, Aunt May. By helping the civilians.” He smirked. “I can’t do everything, right?” 

“Brat.” May pulled him into a hug. “Please be careful.” 

“Always am.” He winked before pulling his mask back on. Quickly shooting a web towards the nearest building, he shot off into the night. 

In the end, he found himself at the Avengers Tower and hurried to Tony’s lab. His dad was able to retrieve a sample from the site of the Devil’s Breath release and was running as many scans as possible of it. Slipping part of it into his own suit’s database, he ran a scan to be able to possibly trace it to wherever Otto was hiding. With that information, he left the tower as quickly as he came and followed the trail Karen provided for him. 

An all too familiar surge of electricity jolted him off course and threw him into an empty courtyard. Gasping for air, he looked up to see Electro and Vulture hovering in the sky above him. 

“Well, well. Looks like a certain little bug doesn’t know how to listen,” Vulture drawled, smirking. “We didn’t want to have to hurt you, but you’re ruining our plans.” 

“Karen, send an alert for any nearby Avengers,” he quickly instructs his AI before leaping towards Vulture. 

“Not so fast.” Vulture grabbed his ankle and threw him towards Electro, who caught him in a bright field of power. Peter screamed before falling to the ground and landing hard enough to get the wind knocked out of him; he was struggling to catch his breath. “Now you know how it feels when you heroes gang up on us.” 

“Like we’re doing now, bird brain?” 

Peter never felt more thankful to hear Wade’s voice than he did in that moment. 

“Hey, Spidey. I was in the neighborhood,” he said, mask stretching as he grinned under it. “Don’t worry, Daddy Stark and Papa America know what’s happening.” 

“Get Electro,” Peter told him, voice feeling rough as he stood up. “I can’t keep taking hits from him in my current state.” 

“On it, bubble butt.” 

Peter watched a moment as Wade ran towards Electro before finding the courage to go after Vulture. “And here I thought you’d hung up the wings for good, Adrian. What would Liz say if she knew you were up to no good?” 

“Leave my daughter out of this!” he roared, charging at Peter. 

Peter easily dodged, grabbing a loose ‘feather’ off of Vulture’s wing and swinging it back at the villain. “I bet she doesn’t know, huh? She’s brilliant, so I’m sure she’ll figure it out soon enough.” 

Vulture roared, charging at him once more, suddenly stopping and screaming when Electro shot off electricity wildly throughout the air. “Electro!” 

“Keep it going, DP!” Peter yelled out in the general direction of where he assumed Wade to be. “You know, Adrian, Liz would be willing to talk to you if you stopped doing this.” 

“I said stop bringing her up!” Vulture released his own mechanical feathers off his wings, shooting them all at Peter at once. Peter managed to dodge most of them, but cried out when a few of them sliced up his side. “Finally! You annoying little bug.” 

“I keep telling all of you guys that spiders aren’t bugs,” Peter said, ignoring the pain as blood seeped through the wounds. “But just like everything else I say, you guys don’t listen.” 

Peter led Vulture on a trail that got intercepted by Electro’s shocks once more, finally getting the bird themed hero to drop to the ground and stay there. Vulture looked exhausted, though he still managed a glare when Peter walked over to him. 

“I know Liz is your whole world, Adrian. Give this act up once and for all, and she may actually talk to you again.” Peter stared at the fallen villain for a moment more before going to help Wade wrap up his own fight. 

Thankfully, Electro had grown tired from overusing his own powers. It didn’t take much longer after Peter joined for the villain to fall to a heap. The police arrived on scene not long after, causing both Peter and Wade to flee before they could possibly be seen. After all, Peter was still considered a fugitive and the police never liked Wade. 

“God, I’m so tired.” Peter put a hand on his torn up side. “Vulture’s definitely improved his costume.” 

“Didn’t you say Otto is helping all them? Maybe he made them all new costumes.” 

Peter paused, eyebrows furrowing in thought. “When would he have gotten the time to make them, though? He didn’t....become that until he had made his arms.” 

“Pete...maybe this has been going on behind the scenes for longer than even you know about," Wade said gently. “Look, kid, you’ve got a heart of gold. Which me and the boxes love about you, but...sometimes the world is a lot crueler than you want it to be.” 

“When did you become all poetic?” Peter snarked, immediately feeling bad. “Sorry, I just...I wish I saw it sooner. Otto would always have these little outbursts every so often, but I never thought twice about them.” 

“What were they about?” 

“Norman, mostly. Even my dad at one point.” Peter let out a shaky sigh. “I should’ve seen the signs, Wade. All of this...it’s my fault.” 

“Peter,” Wade said firmly. Peter blinked at hearing his actual name coming from Wade. “It’s not your fault. I’m sure your parents told you the same thing. The self-doubt ain’t cute. Trust me, I would know." 

Peter bit his bottom lip, looking down at the courtyard where they just were. Vulture and Electro were being hauled back to the Raft, each of their costumes being taken off of them and transported elsewhere. 

“I should really get some rest,” he said, rubbing at his wounds once more. “I feel a little better knowing the city is slightly more under control.” 

“What were you on your way to when they found you?” 

“Heading to Otto’s hideout. Seems a bit pointless now.” Peter sighed again. “Why don’t you go do the same? Thanks for all the help tonight, Wade. I appreciate it.” 

Wade looked at Peter a moment before nodding. “Alright, Petey. And I love working with your cute bubble butt. Call me if you need help with anything. And I mean anything.” Wade wiggled his eyebrows, causing Peter to laugh. He still couldn’t figure out how Wade was able to make the mask so expressive. 

“Goodnight, Wade.” 

“Night, Spidey.” 

Peter waited until Wade was down the street some before heading towards Octavius Industries. A burning sort of curiosity had settled in his stomach, and he couldn’t help but want to extinguish the urge. So, he headed towards where he knew Otto had been in recent days. On the outside, it still appeared quite normal. Any other day, and Peter would be heading inside to work. But the minute he opened the door, he knew he was in trouble. 

Every monitor that was hung up on the walls were completely smashed. Glass was littered everywhere, and one TV was still flickering on the last channel it was playing. On their whiteboards, new plans were drawn overtop of the old ones in angry red lines. Otto’s normal scrawl was replaced with angrily rushed notes. 

“Holy shit,” he breathed out, letting his eyes roam over the complete disarray of the lab. Equipment was broken, laying in pieces over the concrete floor. Even Peter’s desk wasn’t safe from whatever rampage Otto had apparently gone on. His Starkpad lay crunched on the ground, his monitors beaten. “Otto...what happened to you?” 

Otto’s tablet lay untouched on his work desk. There were deep carvings in the metal surface, but was otherwise mostly salvageable. Like he was destroying everything but his own work. Quickly flipping through Otto’s notes, Peter froze when he read the latest readings on Otto’s arms. Whatever was controlling them wasn’t isolating the correct parts of the brain properly. His moods and thoughts were being affected or ramped up. 

“His rage must be at least ten times higher than normal,” he muttered to himself. “How did I not notice this the last time I was in?” With a shaky hand, Peter set the tablet back down on the table. He felt dizzy and nauseous, and he needed to get out of there quickly. 

He didn’t remember the trip back to his house. Steve was there waiting for him in the living room, and if he listened closely, he could hear his dad’s music in his lab. Peter simply passed by Steve and headed to his room. Not bothering to do much more than take off his mask, Peter collapsed into his bed. He fell asleep nearly instantly. 

Chapter Text

“Hey, squirt.” There’s a hand on his shoulder to accompany the voice. It shook him gently, slowly rousing him out of sleep. “C’mon, Pete, get up.” 

Peter grumbled into his pillow, shoving his face further into the cool material. At some point in the night, the covers had been pulled over him. While he was still in his suit, he didn’t particularly care as he pulled his blankets tighter around his shoulder. “Five more minutes.” 

Chuckling softly, Tony sat on the edge of Peter’s bed. “We were able to get all the Ryker’s inmates.” Oh, right. In his barely awake state, Peter had completely forgotten. “Took most of the night. We weren’t able to locate Scorpion, Rhino, Martin, or Otto, though.” 

Turning his head towards his dad, Peter slowly blinked awake. Tony looked like he had barely slept. Peter felt much the same. “I got Electro and Vulture last night.” 

“I saw. We patched up your side last night. Seems you’ve inherited my ability to sleep like the dead.” Tony chuckled softly, running a hand through Peter’s morning nest of hair. “Go get ready and join us for breakfast. We’ve got some news for you.” He stood up and hovered in the doorway for a moment. “By the way, your school is closed until this Devil’s Breath thing passes. They don’t want it spreading any more than it already has.” 

Peter managed a thumbs up towards his dad before hauling himself out of bed. In the bathroom, he peeled off the old bandages and tossed them in the trash. The wounds were still tender to the touch, but were mostly healed enough that they shouldn’t bother him too badly, nor need new dressings. The shower helped the ache in his body that never seemed to fully go away. 

Steve pushed a full plate of eggs, bacon, and toast towards him the second he sat down at the kitchen island. More awake now, he practically inhaled the food. 

“When’s the last time you ate?” Steve asked, concerned. 

“Can’t remember, honestly.” He turned to Tony. “What’s the news you were going to tell me?” 

“Michaels called me this morning and told me they’re working on an anti-serum down at Oscorp. Now if you ask me, that’s a risky move–” 

“Tony.” 

“Right, anyway. He said he wasn’t sure when it’d be fully ready, but they’re making good progress.” Tony tapped on the counter in front of him. “I just hope it’s soon.” 

Peter nodded in agreement before finishing up the last of his breakfast. “Thanks for the food, Papa. I’m going to check on Ned and see how he’s doing. Maybe get some patrolling in while I’m out there.” 

Without waiting for a response, Peter dashed into his room and slipped on a back-up suit. Thankful for having spares for when his others got too torn to wear, Peter booted up Karen in his current suit. Only downside of multiple suits was that he had to manually load Karen into the new one. Tony offered to change it, but it wasn’t anything that bothered Peter enough to want to mess with it. 

Getting to Ned’s didn’t take too long, but he was surprised to see MJ there before him. She was wearing a medical mask over her nose and mouth, typing away at something on her laptop. “Hey,” he greeted, slipping in through the window in Ned’s room. “How’re you feeling?” 

“Could be better.” Ned’s words were followed by a wet sounding cough. Peter’s heart dropped when MJ handed him a tissue to clean the blood off his hand. “MJ has to wear a mask so she doesn’t get sick. I’d keep yours on.” 

“What are you guys working on?” Peter sat on the other side of MJ on the bed and peeked at the screen. “Whose blog is that?” 

“Ours. The Bugle is still letting me publish stories, but we wanted to get information out there without having to edit shit out. I’m using the pen name Mary Jane. Ned’s using Ganke.” MJ looked up just enough to look at Peter. “Any news on an anti-serum?” 

“There’s one in the works, but Michaels isn’t sure how long it’ll take. With that being handled, I’m worried about finding the other guys still somewhere in the city.” Peter shook his head. “Vulture and Electro didn’t really tell us anything. My dad’s running all systems he can to get a read on them, but Otto must’ve made some sort of cloaking system. FRIDAY can’t get a read on them anywhere.” 

“That sucks. Anything from Yuri?” 

“Not today. I’m still waiting for an update call.” Peter’s mask suddenly started ringing. “Speak of the devil. Hey, Yuri.” 

“Electro and Vulture are both secured at the Raft,” she stated. “Toomes actually talked and gave us a lead on where Rhino and Scorpion might be hitting next. I’m sending you the address.”  

“On my way, Yuri. Thanks for the head’s up.” He turned to the other two. “I gotta run. Adrian actually gave us a lead.” He kissed MJ’s cheek before heading to the window. “Stay hydrated, you two.” 

MJ lazily saluted him before going back to what she was doing when he got there. Happy that they were keeping busy, Peter jumped out and started swinging towards the address Karen programmed from the text Yuri sent. When he got close, he landed on a nearby roof to see if he could get eyes on what was happening before jumping into the situation. 

“Hmm. Where are they?” he murmured to himself. His spidey sense suddenly rang out strongly, but he wasn’t able to dodge in time before Scorpion’s tail sliced him hard against his upper arm. 

“Have fun, little Spider,” Scorpion said, smirking wickedly before dropping down into the shipping yard that Peter was just spying on. 

“Peter, I’ve informed your father of your condition. I would advise you to stay put until he arrives,” Karen spoke into his ear. 

Peter plopped down onto the roof hard. Leaning against the lip of the roof, his head spun. It was like being on a Tilt-A-Whirl without any of the fun. His vision felt like it was slowly warping, twisting his reality into something new. A neon colored Iron Man landed in front of him, the bright green of the armor momentarily blinding Peter. Narrowing his eyes, Peter couldn’t be entirely sure if what he was seeing was really there. 

“Well this really brings me back,” Tony said, stepping out of the armor. “Another failure, kid? Seems like I'm always saving your ass.” 

“Dad, I’m so sorry,” Peter sobbed, his head pounding. What did Scorpion hit him with? “I didn’t mean to, I’m sorry.” 

“Sorry doesn’t cut it. You’ve failed me, Peter. You failed Otto. It’s your fault he’s gone evil.” Tony’s voice was harsh, and it only made Peter cry harder. “You’re a failure!” 

Peter felt himself being dragged, and he weakly swung at whoever was holding his arm. His head hurt, and his heart was racing in his chest. Tony hated him, and threw in his face all his failures. It was like a nightmare come to life. All Peter could do was try and push through the pain. A sharp prick in the crook of his arm got him yelping. It was the same arm Scorpion hit him with, and all he wanted to do was sleep. Sobs were still shaking through Peter’s body, but the spinning in his head was slowly stopping. 

He wasn’t quite sure how long it had taken, but Peter’s vision soon cleared and his whole body wasn't thrumming anymore. Tony really was standing in front of him, but the Iron Man suit was back to the iconic red and gold, not neon green and yellow. 

“God, my head,” Peter groaned, clutching his head. “I can’t believe I was stupid enough to fall for that.” 

“It happens to the best of, squirt. Are you alright?” Tony rubbed Peter’s other arm, bringing a sense of comfort to the teenager. “I kept trying to talk to you, but you kept crying harder.” 

“I thought you were calling me a failure and telling me it’s all my fault,” Peter told him honestly. “That, and your suit looked like a walking highlighter.” 

Tony snorted and pulled his son into a tight hug. “You’re not a failure, Pete. I think you’re just feeling overwhelmed right now. Let me handle Scorpion, alright? His tail and poison can’t penetrate my armor.” 

“Alright.” Peter pulled back and looked up at his dad. “Thank you.” 

“What are dads for?” he joked. 

Scorpion and Rhino hadn’t moved from the shipping yard. Rhino looked angry, and punched a few random shipping containers. Even from a distance, Peter could see a smug look on Scorpion’s face. Like he figured Peter would be drugged long enough to not stop them before they went through with what they were planning. 

“Have any plans, kiddo?” Tony asked him through the comms. “I can’t exactly stealth like you can in my suit.” 

“Keep Scorpion distracted,” Peter answered. “He’s pretty harmless if he doesn’t have his tail. Can’t fight well.” 

“Alright. Give me the signal and I’ll go after him.” 

Peter watched the two a minute and waited until Rhino had stormed away before nodding to Tony. They both took off from the roof and headed towards their respective villain. 

“Bug!” Rhino yelled, swinging his massive fists at Peter. 

“Hey, buddy! How ya doing?” Peter asked with a grin, dodging every one of Rhino’s wide hits. His head still felt foggy, but despite Rhino's new suit, he was still much the same. “Nice upgrade. I wasn’t able to properly inspect it last time.” 

“Must squash bug.” Rhino charged at Peter, who only barely dodged it. The shipping container that was behind him nearly dented fully in half from the hit. 

“Oh, updates. Of course, there are updates.” Peter rolled quickly to avoid a burst of poison coming from Scorpion. He grunted as he ended up hitting another container. 

For a brief moment, Peter wished he had repulsor beams like his dad. He quickly dashed the idea when he noticed one of the stray beams cut through a metal chain like it was nothing. Rhino happened to be standing under a hanging concrete pipe that was hanging up on one of the machines. When the metal was cut, the pipe landed right on Rhino, who stumbled under the sudden weight. 

“I’ve got an idea,” Peter said happily, grinning as he ran towards the other side of the yard. “Hey, Rhino! I’m open if you wanna play catch.” 

The flying container coming at him wasn’t exactly what he had in mind, and he screamed a little as he jumped to the side. He opened his mouth to say just that when Rhino was suddenly a lot closer than he was a minute ago. Scrambling up, he wasn’t able to completely dodge Rhino’s charging, and ended up getting flung backwards into the wall. He groaned and peeled himself off as best he could. 

“I forgot how painful fighting you can be,” he muttered, shaking the clouds out of his head. Thankfully, Rhino was momentarily distracted, so Peter carefully positioned himself in a way he’d be able to yank one of the shipping containers down onto Rhino. “Hey, big guy! Peek-a-boo!” 

Growling, Rhino started charging him once more. This time, however, Peter was able to get the upper hand and shot out two webs towards the container and yanked it down onto the charging villain. 

Another bout of poison shot towards Peter, and he nearly got hit. Rhino was able to get back up and threw the container back at Peter. He swayed a little on his feet, looking near down for the count. 

“One more should do it,” Peter told himself before running towards another opportune spot. Rhino kept throwing stuff at him, seeming to increase in speed the more frustrated he became. 

“Stand still!” he roared. Peter couldn’t help it: he laughed. 

“Missed me, missed me, now you gotta– uh, never mind.” Peter blushed a little before skidding to a stop. He spun on his heels and watched as Rhino ran towards him. Shooting his webs towards another overhanging concrete pipe, he pulled it down to land right on top of Rhino, knocking him out completely. “Iron Man, how are you holding up?” 

“Nearly got him. Going to blast off his tail. Think you could web him up?” 

“On it.” 

Peter ran towards where his dad was fighting, almost feeling bad at the screech Scorpion let out when his mechanical tail was blasted off. As quickly as he could, Peter shot a web towards the villain, sticking him to the ground. The two heroes watched as he struggled under the sticky web. 

“Four down, two more to go,” Peter told Tony. “God, I hope they never team up again.” 

“The media’s taken to calling them the Sinister Six,” Tony added helpfully, the two of them heading off as the sound of sirens grew closer. 

Peter couldn’t help but snort. “Seems appropriate. Although, considering most of them are animal themed, I would’ve gone with a barnyard joke.” 

“Which is why we’re all glad when you stuck with photography when it comes to news.” Tony gently squeezed Peter’s shoulder. “You did well, kid. How you feeling?” 

“Like a bulldozer hit me.” Peter chuckled. “Just glad two more are off the streets. I’m not sure how I’m going to be able taking on Otto, though.” 

“When it comes down to it, I’m sure you can handle it.”  

Biting his bottom lip roughly, Peter mulled over his thoughts about Otto. He suddenly stopped on the other side of the street to look at his dad. “When should I give up on believing he can come back from this?” 

Tony sighed, leading Peter into a nearby alley and letting his helmet drop down. “That’s ultimately up to you, Pete. I can’t make this decision for you.” 

Peter kicked at a loose rock. “I know, I just...I want to believe the Otto I know is still in there.” 

“I know you do. That’s one of the things I love about you. But, sadly, not everybody is able to come back from their darkest days. Not everybody is strong enough to handle that.” 

“What about you?” 

Tony was startled, but he quickly schooled his expression back. “I had you, Peter. When I was out there, not sure if I would make it out alive, the thought of you kept me going.” 

“What about Papa?” 

“He helped, but...there’s something different between fighting for a lover and fighting for your kid. Steve would even agree with me on this.” Tony smiled sadly. “Otto doesn’t have that luxury of having someone to go back to. His wife died a few years ago.” 

“Oh. I didn’t know that.” Peter roughly bit his bottom lip. “I love you, Dad.” 

“I love you, too, kiddo. Now, c’mon. I’ll give you a lift back.” 

~*~  

“Peter, buddy, you gotta eat something,” Tony told his son, who was quickly scanning through all his work notes on his StarkPad. 

“I’m not hungry.” 

“Yeah, but you’re healing . Your body needs the sustenance. Plus, with your accelerated metabolism, you need something in your system.” Tony sighed and took the tablet out of Peter’s hand, ignoring the cry of protest. “I’m serious, Pete. I’ll give this back after you go eat something. I don’t care if it’s a ham sandwich.” 

“Fine,” Peter muttered before heading into the kitchen. With everything going on, he felt nothing but stressed. Otto went back into hiding, and Martin hasn’t made a peep since the prison escape. Whatever Otto was planning, it had to be big if he was keeping so quiet. “Any word from Michaels yet?” 

“Nothing. Though, he must be working overtime to get this done.” Tony sat at the island and drummed his fingers on the counter. “I’m tempted to go down there and help.” 

“You hate Oscorp,” Peter pointed out. 

“I’m willing to ignore that considering the circumstances.” Tony shrugged. “The city needs help, Pete, and I feel useless letting someone else do all the work. It isn’t...natural.” 

Steve walked into the room then, snorting. “Heaven forbid someone else be bossy,” he joked, kissing the top of Tony’s head. “Michaels knows what he’s doing. He’s the one who made it, so he’s going to be the best option to make the anti-serum.” 

“I know. Doesn’t mean I like waiting, though," Tony replied, leaning into his husband’s embrace. “What have you been up to, Wonderboy?” 

“Working with Sam on getting the last of the stragglers back to Ryker’s. Or catching any Demons. The team’s been working overtime since the outbreak,” Steve answered. “Nat’s been pouting for not being on the field, but she’s been a big help back at the tower.” 

“Her and Clint are resting up, right?” 

“They should be. If not, Bruce is there to yell at them.” 

Tony chuckled, sliding Peter’s tablet back to him as soon as he finished devouring the ham and cheese sandwich he had quickly thrown together. Peter went back to whatever he had been doing a minute ago. 

“Hey, Spider-baby. Mind sharing with the class what you’re doing?” Tony asked, getting up to make himself something for lunch. 

“Looking through all my notes from working with Otto,” Peter answered absentmindedly. “I’m trying to see if there’s some way I can remotely turn off his arms.” 

“Anything yet?” 

“Not yet. Otto destroyed all his research, which would’ve helped me the most. My only saving grace right now is that I backed up all my notes onto your server. He trashed my part of the lab in his rage the other day." Peter flicked through a few more pages. “Should’ve sent his notes to myself when I had the chance.” 

Steve opened his mouth to say something, but Ned and MJ were soon bursting through the front door. Both were wearing face masks yet, but MJ pushed hers down so she could be heard clearly. “You’ll never believe what we just found." 

Peter quickly locked his tablet and gestured for the two to sit down at the island. The two of them were both sweating and panting from exertion. “Did you two run here?” 

“Yes, but that’s not the point.” MJ took her phone out and pulled up her photos. “Ned and I might’ve snuck into Norman’s penthouse.” 

“You what ?!” 

“In my defense, Harry gave me his key before he left for Europe.” 

“Norman has a secret lab,” Ned spoke up, postponing the bickering for later. “All his research for Devil’s Breath was stored there.” 

“Norman’s trying to genetically modify spiders to repeat your powers. Not only that, but there’s also a video damming both him and Otto for being the reason Martin Li got his powers,” MJ explained. 

“It was an experiment gone wrong,” Ned added. “He ended up indirectly killing his parents because of it.” 

Tony held up his hands in a ‘time out’ pose. “Okay, wait. Rewind. He has his research yet on Devil’s Breath? Did any of it say why he made it?” 

MJ and Ned shared a sad look. “He...” MJ started before sighing. “Harry got diagnosed with the same thing his mother died from.” 

Peter felt like the floor was falling out from under him. “What?” he breathed out, gripping the countertop a little too hard. 

“There was a journal in his room,” MJ continued. “He left a note for us.” She pulled a journal out of her bag and slid it towards Peter. “It’s the last entry. He wrote it that day he left.” 

Picking it up hesitantly, Peter flipped to the latest entry, reading through it. He couldn’t help but cover his mouth his hand in shock, feeling tears coming to his eyes. “Where is he, then? If he isn’t in Europe.” 

“We don't know. Norman was on his way up and we had to leave before we were found out. We barely managed to escape Sable as it was.” MJ accepted the journal again and slipped it back into her bag. “Norman made Devil’s Breath in hopes to cure Harry. Obviously, it didn’t work.” 

Steve’s hand landed on Peter’s back, gently rubbing it. “You two can stay the night, if you’d like. Pete, can I talk to you for a minute?” 

Peter nodded blankly while following Steve into his bedroom. The two of them sat on the bed, and Peter instantly turned into Steve’s embrace. 

“God, I feel so guilty,” Peter muttered into his shoulder. “I feel like everything keeps happening because of me.” 

“Hey. That’s not a healthy way to think, Pete,” Steve murmured, running a hand gently through Peter’s hair. It always calmed him down whenever he was stressed. “You’ve done all you could.” 

“Papa, I saw the signs before I even knew what was happening,” he admitted. “I was reading through my notes and I had noticed Otto’s sudden health decline, but I didn’t think it was anything to worry about.” 

“So why are you worrying about it now?” 

Peter sat up so he could look up at Steve. “Because I could’ve stopped it before it got worse. But I didn’t.” 

“So how is that your fault?” 

Peter huffed. “Because–” 

“I hope you and I both realise that whatever comes out of your mouth is a bunch of bull,” Steve interrupted, pulling a small smile from Peter. “You can never predict these things, Peter. Like you said, you didn’t even know what was going to happen.” 

“Otto’s brain scans every time he put on the arms kept getting worse and worse.” Peter swallowed thickly. “I didn’t think about it at the time, but I went back to the lab, after the outbreak, and found his tablet. The arms...they aren’t isolating what they need to. They’re affecting everything; his mood included.” 

“And?” 

“And I could’ve stopped it had I been in the lab more.” Peter laid his forehead on Steve’s shoulder. “And now Harry’s sick and it feels like everything’s falling apart.” 

Steve wrapped his arm around his son and pulled him close. Sighing, Peter cuddled close, enjoying cuddling into his papa. “Everything will be fine, bud. I know life sucks right now, but there’s going to be better days ahead.” 

“It doesn’t feel like it, though.” 

“Who says it’s supposed to?” Steve brushed the hair off Peter’s forehead and pressed a kiss to it. “I promise you we’ll all be here for you. Your dad and I, all your aunts and uncles, and your friends sitting in the other room.” 

Peter just sighed, cuddling further into Steve’s side. Steve seemed content with holding Peter close as he looked around Peter’s bedroom. 

“I still remember the first day you spent the night here,” he commented suddenly, looking at one of Peter’s Star Wars posters. “You couldn’t sleep well. Even said something about it ‘feeling funny’. You ended up spending the night in bed with Tony and I. Neither of us ended up sleeping well because you’re a little bed hog, but it was worth it to see the smile on your face.” 

“If I remember right, I just wanted to snuggle with you guys and came up with whatever reason I could,” Peter said with a laugh. 

“Yeah, we both figured.” Steve sighed and laid his head on Peter’s. “You’re a sweet kid, Peter. If you ask me, I think your heart is too big for your body. You can’t take what’s happening personally or else you’ll never be able to get over it.” 

“Do you think...I should just try letting go of trying to get Otto back?” Peter asked, his voice small. 

“It wouldn’t hurt to consider.” Steve pulled back and smiled at Peter. “In the end, it's your decision. But I trust you to make the right one.” 

“Thanks, Papa.” 

Peter wrapped his arms around Steve, more than happy to receive one of his hugs. He always gave the best hugs, and Peter always went to him for a cuddle whenever he was feeling particularly down. 

“C’mon, let’s head back out into the living room.” 

The two of them made their way back into the main room where the others were already waiting. Tony looked up and made eye contact with Steve, a silent conversation passing between them. Peter took a seat between MJ and the armrest, picking up his StarkPad once more. 

“Tell me what you know about Otto, squirt,” Tony said, shifting some so Steve could sit next to him. 

“Well, the arms are made out of titanium steel. I specifically remember running the tests on the durability of the material before we tried molding it into a prosthetic.” He folded up his legs on the couch and leaned the tablet against them. Continuing to flick through his notes, his eyebrows drew together in concentration. “Otto has a degenerative neurologic disorder. He was hoping to make a big breakthrough and help himself in the process. Obviously, I never thought he’d go to the lengths he has, but.” 

“Do the arms have any weaknesses?” MJ asked. “Surely, even something as durable as Otto’s arms has a kill switch.” 

Peter paused in his reading, mind racing as he tried to remember. “When it was still in its testing phase, Otto wore a helmet of sorts to control the arms. He was able to convert into something smaller that sits on the back of his neck. I think he mentioned something about needles pricking into his skin to get to, like, the top of his spine. I don’t exactly know how it works, but I’ve seen him turn the arms off and on that way.” 

“Can’t you take it off of him?” 

“If he’s been wearing it for as long as he has, I imagine it’s probably fused somehow.” Peter drummed his nails on his tablet’s screen. “I kept telling him not to wear it for long periods since we don’t know how it’ll react to the human body.” 

“It sounds like he was desperate to get it working, and cut corners,” Tony theorized. “Because if he has that neurological disorder, I imagine he wanted to get it done before anything happened.” 

“He told me as much, too,” Peter admitted. “But...I’ve been admiring his work for so long, I never thought he’d be the type to cut corners.” 

MJ reached over and grabbed his hand. She gave him a small smile and gently squeezed his hand. Peter smiled back and ran his thumb over the back of her hand. “Well...you’re the one who helped make them. I say you’re the best bet in stopping him, too. You built them, so you know all their weakest points.” 

“She has a point, Underoos.” Tony smiled at him. “If there’s anything good to come out of this, it’s that you know exactly how to take him down.” 

Peter bit his bottom lip, absentmindedly playing with MJ’s fingers. 

“Pete,” MJ said softly, getting his attention. “I believe in you. We all do.” 

“Plus, I fixed that fancy suit you made,” Tony spoke up. “Unless you want to continue wearing the spare you leave at the tower.” 

Laughing a little, Peter shook his head. “No, no. Thank you, Dad.” 

“Message from Dr. Michaels,” FRIDAY announced. “He says that the anti-serum is finished, and waiting for pick-up at Oscorp. Sending the address to your tablet.” 

“Send it to Karen, FRI. I’m going to go pick it up,” Peter said, standing up. 

“Of course, Peter.” 

“I’m going to bring it to the tower for safe keeping until we can produce more.” Peter stretched before heading to his room. “I’ll be quick!” 

Chapter Text

The whole lab was a madhouse when he got there. Martin was holding one of his swords to Norman’s neck, pressing the energy surrounded sword to the bare skin, letting it slowly cut into the man’s neck. Without thinking much of it, Peter shot a web onto the sword and threw it off to the side, effectively getting the attention of everyone in the room. 

“This isn’t you, Martin,” he yelled, flipping down onto the ground in a slight crouch. 

“You don’t know me!” Martin yelled back, shooting energy at the hero. Peter easily dodged. “Take Osborn elsewhere. I must deal with this first.” 

The Demons led Norman into another room, continuing to hold a gun to the man’s head. Once they were secure, Martin turned towards Peter, eyes narrowed. His hands glowed with negative energy, eyes glowing a bright white. 

“You’ve done so much good for the city, Martin. Don’t waste it on a grudge.” Peter attempted to web Martin to the wall, but he quickly sidestepped. Before he could comprehend how Martin was able to move so quickly, Martin summoned a bunch of strange creatures out of the ground. They were made of a black mist, and they dissolved after one kick or punch, but they hit hard. 

Peter was struggling to fight against the creatures while trying to get to Martin. He wasn’t making it easy. Every time Peter thought he had defeated a wave, more came out of the ground. And, worst of all, with Peter so distracted, Martin was able to land more hits to his already battered body. Ever since Fisk got put away, Peter felt like his body was constantly in a state of healing. Briefly, he wondered if that was how Wade felt all the time. 

“Martin! Stop! What good will torturing Norman do?” Peter asked, dodging another hit from one of the strange creatures. “I know how you became Mr. Negative. I know it’s his fault that your parents died, but don’t act on anger.” 

“I’ll act however I want.” Suddenly, the army of mist creatures doubled and Peter had trouble keeping up. Every time one disappeared, another took its place. “Norman needs to pay for what he’s done.” 

“And he will, Martin. Just not this way.” 

“Enough!” Martin summoned a large shadow demon, easily towering the entirety of the room. Peter gasped, and jumped out of the way of the spinning hand. As soon as it disappeared and a lethargic Martin was revealed, Peter jumped at the chance, kicking him to the far side of the room and knocking him back into the Martin that Peter easily recognized. 

“You’ve done so much good for this city. You’ve created FEAST! Is this really what you want your legacy to be?” Peter winced, clutching his side. “Is this how you want May to remember you?” 

Martin faltered just then, stopping just enough for Peter to web him to a nearby beam. He huffed, but didn’t even bother to struggle. Walking closer, Peter could see a mixture of conflicting emotions cross across Martin’s face. Anger, mostly, but also hurt. 

“Do the right thing, Martin.” 

Martin looked into the eyes of the Spider-Man mask, slowly losing whatever fight he had. He squirmed for a minute before producing a small blue bottle and handing it to Peter. “Tell May I’m sorry. She’ll run FEAST better than I could ever hope to.” 

Peter nodded, hand clutching the anti-serum. The grip he had was tight so he wouldn’t drop it, but not enough to accidentally crack it. Neither of which wouldn’t be good. 

“You fool!” an angry voice shouted out. The ceiling above them tore open, an angry Otto climbing down off the ceiling. “You’re worthless, Martin. I thought you were a better ally.” Before Peter could stop him, Otto used one of his claws to kill him right in front of the teenager. “Spider-Man, you are an annoyance . I’ll do what the others never could and kill you once and for all.” 

One claw yanked the anti-serum right out of Peter’s hand while two others picked him up like he was nothing. He squirmed for a minute, not sure what Otto would do. Chuckling darkly, Otto suddenly flung Peter into the opposite wall, nearly going all the way through the concrete. Peter was struggling to breathe with the onslaught of going through the thick wall. The teen wasn't able to catch his breath before Otto was grabbing his ankle and slamming him down into the floor. Peter’s whole body ached from the abuse, old and new injuries popping up throughout his entire body. 

“Otto, please,” he begged, though it went unheard. He was slammed into various walls and the floor multiple times before he was dropped uncaring onto the floor when Otto spotted Norman in the next room. 

Peter hurt. Badly. If he didn’t get help soon, he could name at least one bone that would heal improperly. Air became a luxury as he gasped in pain. Distantly, he could hear the sound of Otto’s arms grab Norman before heading out. His head was pounding way too much to hear specific details. He knew from experience that Karen had already alerted Tony and Steve of his state, properly sending Tony into a panic when he received the list of injuries. Peter could feel blood in his mouth, and it hurt to swallow it down. Michaels was kneeling on the floor next to him, more than likely telling him words of encouragement to hang on. Both of them knew it fell on deaf ears, however. Then the familiar sound of the Iron Man suit walking closer broke through all the muffled noise, like a beacon of hope through the pain. He wasn’t sure if he had ever felt as grateful to hear the suit as he did in that moment. 

“Dad,” he whimpered, head slowly facing the noise where he heard the suit. He felt himself quickly dissolve into tears. He was only nineteen, and he was scared. “Dad, I hurt so bad.” 

“I know, buddy. We’re going to bring you back to the tower and get you all fixed up, okay? Just hang in there.” There was a shifting sound of metal. “Steve, make sure Michaels gets to the tower safely. I’m going to fly Pete back.” 

It took longer than Peter would’ve liked to wake up. The sound of quiet chatter filled the room, and the familiar scent of Dr. Cho’s perfume wafted over to him. In trying to subtly shift into a more comfortable position, he aggravated one of his injuries, causing him to groan out at the pain. 

“Pete?” his dad’s voice was something that never failed to calm him down, despite his age. 

Peter opened his eyes, seeing his dad in an all too familiar spot. “I keep ending up here lately,” he commented. “I think I have an addiction.” 

Tony let out a wet laugh. “You really scared us, kid. The list of injuries Karen sent to FRIDAY was so long. A good majority of them were fixed with your healing factor within a few hours. You’ve got a broken arm, though. Dr. Cho was able to set it before it got too healed. With your healing ability, it should be completely healed within a week.” 

“I can’t wait a week, Dad,” he told him, sitting up. He groaned in pain, but he was already feeling marginally better than he did back at the Oscorp lab. “Otto has the anti-serum. We need to get back if we want to save everybody. I know how to do that.” 

Tony looked at Peter a minute before sighing. “Peter, I’ve got some bad news.” He grabbed his son’s hand and held it tight. It was then that he noticed it was shaking. “May and Nat...they took a turn for the worse. They’re both in other room hooked up to machines. So many machines.” Tony sniffled, holding Peter’s hand to his forehead as he leaned over Peter's bed. Peter was frozen as he stared down at his dad. “I was just talking to Cho, when you woke up. She isn’t sure how long they have left. She promised she’d do all she could to see if they could at least hold on until we got the anti-serum, but...nothing’s guaranteed.” 

Peter broke out of his trance and stumbled out of the bed. Tony was calling for him behind him, but all Peter could do was stumble to the window of the room across the hall, where May and Natasha were both laying. It was unnatural to see how pale they both were. A feeling of dread welled up into a ball and stuck in his throat. 

“I’m so sorry,” a quiet voice said from next to him. Peter was too exhausted to jump at the sound, but grabbed MJ’s hand absentmindedly. “Look...both you and I know your injuries aren’t going to stop you.” She swallowed thickly, like she wasn't sure how to tell Peter what exactly was on her mind. “So...I want you to think this through. As Peter Parker. Spider-Man's great, yes, but I meant what I said earlier. Peter Parker knows exactly how to stop Otto. Go be a hero, but be the hero I know Peter Parker is.” 

Peter turned and looked at MJ in shock. Admittedly, she looked a bit uncomfortable being so vulnerable, but there was a fire in her eyes that Peter understood to be pure determination. She truly believed in Peter. “Okay,” he breathed out. He looked back at his aunts. “Okay.” 

“Go get him, tiger.” 

Peter grinned, kissing her cheek quickly before hurrying towards the lab. Tony tried to stop him once more, but he simply shot his dad an apologetic look and kept going. Once there, he quickly opened up all the newest upgrades he’s made from Otto’s suggestions onto a screen in front of him. His broken arm burned in pain from being used, but he shoved it down in order to focus on the task at hand. It’s through sheer force of will and stubbornness that he was able to get through the task at all. Tony had given up on trying to get him to stop, and jokingly played his music throughout the lab. It brought a smile to Peter’s face as he worked quickly on new upgrades to his suit, and especially, his webshooters. Once making sure his cartridges were full, Peter slipped on the black suit, the yellow spider glowing brightly. 

He walked into the living room, where everybody was waiting. They spotted him in the new suit, and paused. On the TV screen in front of them all was a news story about a strange new villain holding Norman over the edge of the Oscorp building. 

“Do you need any help?” Tony asked seriously. 

Peter let out a tense breath before shaking his head. “I’m the reason Otto is out there. I need to finish what I started.” 

Tony nodded, like he was expecting that response. “Be careful.” 

The corners of Peter’s mouth twitched a little. “Always am,” he replied. 

Making his way quickly to Oscorp, Peter saw all the news vans and a lone helicopter hovering in the dark sky. The bright purple of the Oscorp sign on the side of the building was lit up brightly, looking otherwise cheery in the macabre circumstances. Panic filled Peter when he saw Norman suddenly falling down the side of Oscorp. He free fell for a few seconds before Peter caught him and tossed him to safety on the top of another building. Running up the side of Oscorp, Peter pumped his legs as fast as he could to get up to the roof where Otto was waiting for him. 

“Otto!” he yelled out, getting into a defensive position. Otto was strolling across the roof of the building without a care in the world. Held tightly in his hand was the anti-serum, and the thought of helping all the sick people fueled Peter’s anger more. “Why are you doing this?” 

“Because Osborn deserves to pay.” A claw slapped down onto the roof near Peter, but he didn’t let it scare him. “This whole city practically worships at his feet like a dog for food. He doesn’t deserve it. Not after what he did to me.” 

“You brought this on yourself, Otto. You helped in making Martin Li into the criminal he was,” Peter replied. “I saw the tape, Otto. Norman wasn’t the only one in there that day.” 

Otto’s face contorted in anger, and an arm shot out at Peter. “It was Norman’s idea to run the test in the first place. I said it wasn’t ready yet, but he never listened to me. And now Norman is the reason this city is falling over itself in disease. I did it to show New York who their mayor really is.” 

Using his web bombs, Peter shot two at Otto’s arms, encasing them completely in sticky web. “Letting your anger rule you isn’t the way to do things.” Peter got a good kick in at Otto, who was struggling at pulling the web off his metal arms. “There are other ways to expose Norman.” 

“This is the most effective!” Otto yanked the webbing off and tore up a chunk of metal off the roof. He threw it at Peter, who quickly jumped out of the way. Otto continued throwing pieces at him, and Peter was able to grab one and throw it back. “This city will burn under Norman’s rule.” 

Peter shot another web bomb at Otto, once more covering him in webbing. Peter kicked him towards the large antenna on top of Oscorp. “I don’t like doing this, Otto, but you leave me no choice.” He punched Otto before reaching around the man’s neck to tear at the switch for the arms. One of the claws grabbed Peter's arm and yanked it out of the way, throwing Peter to the side. He rolled for a bit, nearly falling off the side of the roof before catching himself. 

“You won’t ruin this for me,” Otto yelled, throwing more metal chunks at the teen. 

Peter flung himself onto the roof and rolled to avoid the oncoming debris. He kicked Otto towards the antenna again, hearing it creak under the rough treatment. Otto started climbing it to get away from Peter, but Peter was quick to follow. He would’ve made a joke about King Kong, but he was too busy trying to avoid the wrath of Otto’s arms. 

“Please, Otto. This isn’t the man I know you to be. You’re a genius.” Peter barely dodged an attack. It was harder when there wasn’t much room to work with. 

“That man is no more.” An arm shot out, punching Peter hard enough that he felt his metal suit get torn, chunks of his mask falling off. There was a stinging sensation as a cut across his cheek bloomed. Peter couldn’t help but panic. “Give it up, Peter. You’ll never get me to stop what I’m meant to do.” 

Freezing, Peter turned to look at Otto. “You knew,” he said, his voice void of emotion. 

“Did you think me a fool, child? I saw your suit and instantly put two and two together.” Otto grinned. It looked more predatory than Peter had ever seen on him before. “You helped me become who I am, Peter. I could never thank you enough.” 

Growling, Peter lunged at him, knocking the tower completely off its hinges and sending it towering off the side of the roof. Peter clung onto the man’s shoulders, tearing once more at the power switch at the back of Otto’s neck. He managed to get part of it off before he was flung off of him and tumbling down the side. Thankfully, Peter was able to catch himself and steady enough to glare up at Otto. “You knew this whole time!” 

“Men like us have a duty. I was making sure you helped me fulfill mine.” Otto shot an arm at Peter, who dodged it and countered it with a punch of his own. This time, he didn’t feel as bad when Otto’s nose cracked under the pressure. 

They continued fighting, slowly sliding down the tall tower. Peter hopped up, just outside Otto’s reach without the arms stretching, clutching at his already broken arm. 

“You look tired, Peter,” Otto said, fake sympathy dripping from every word. 

“M’not tired,” Peter replied. “Just hurt.” 

After catching his breath, Peter went back into the fight, but was caught under the heavy weight of a metal claw. He screamed out as it tightened around his bruised ribs, pinning him to the side of the building. Another claw shot out, snapping its pinchers as it tried penetrating into Peter’s chest. He only barely was able to catch it and stop it from happening. 

Otto inched closer, his once friendly face filled with nothing but resentment and bitterness. The claw was able to slip past Peter in his distraction and pierce his skin. He stopped it before it went any further in. 

“If you want to change the world, Peter,” he said. “You must be able to make the hardest decisions.” 

Peter swallowed thickly. His whole body was thrumming in pain. Through it all, he met Otto’s eyes with steely determination. “I am.” He let the claw pierce him fully. Even screaming in pain, he still managed to lean forward and tear the switch out completely. The arms dropped uselessly and Otto was quickly falling. 

Following him, Peter made sure to angle his fall so he would land safely in one of the lower labs. Otto is laying sprawled across the ground, a layer of sweat covering his forehead in a light sheen. The man in front of him now was completely different from the one Peter had grown to admire over his time spent at Octavius Industries. 

“I used to think the world of you,” he spit out. “Your mind. Your innovations.” He shook his head in disgust as he looked at the metal arms. “You used your knowledge for evil, and I blindly went along with it. No more, Otto. You can’t manipulate me anymore.” 

He grabbed the anti-serum from Otto’s lax hand and stormed out. Behind him, the screams from his newest enemy got lost in the night. 

~*~  

Michaels was waiting for him in the med bay when Peter got there. He didn’t even bother hiding his face anymore at that point, the broken mask the least of his worries. Behind him, Tony was hovering a bit, unsure of whether it was okay to approach him or not. 

“Is it still usable?” he asked, his voice still rough from his battle with Otto. 

“Yeah, but we’ll need all of it to create a bigger dose for the rest of the city.” Michaels sat up, his eyes flickering to the room across the hall. “I’m sorry.” 

Peter’s shoulders slumped at what was left unsaid. “Thank you.” 

“Pete...” Tony put his hands on his son’s shoulders, not surprised when Peter just shook them off. “They’re waiting for you.” 

His whole body felt numb, but he trudged into his aunts’ room and sat down on the available chair between the two beds. He retracted what was left of his mask and let out a shaky breath. “Did you guys catch the news?” 

“Tony wouldn’t let us.” May chuckled weakly. She gently cupped his cheek. “I’m so proud of the man you’ve become, you know. When Tony told me that he got some random woman pregnant, I was so disappointed in him. But then you came like a ray of sunshine into our lives. And through Mary, I got to meet Ben. How could I be so angry when I was brought so much happiness?” 

Peter let out a wet laugh. “You’re just saying that because you don't wanna hurt my feelings.” 

May lightly tapped Peter’s cheek. “You’re wrong. I’m saying it because it’s true.” 

“I was thinking the same thing," Natasha spoke up, catching Peter’s attention. “I thought you would become a distraction for Tony. I was right, of course.” She smiled. “But you became a cute little mascot for the team. Before you were even a year, you had all of us wrapped around your little finger.” She pointed a finger at him. “I trust you will keep representing us spiders.” 

“Of course, Auntie Nat. I could never disappoint Mama Spider.” 

Natasha smiled at the nicknames. Tony came in just then, looking like a mess as he sat on the edge of May’s bed. “Hey,” he said softly. 

May removed her hand from Peter’s cheek to grab Tony’s hand. “I always did tell you that family life suited you,” she said softly. 

“Guess I should’ve listened to you more, then,” Tony replied. He sounded tired. 

May managed another weak smile before closing her eyes. Her grip soon went lax in Tony’s. 

“I’m thankful for the family I’ve gotten in this team,” Natasha told them both. “I used to have nothing. I thought I wasn’t meant for a family.” She swallowed thickly, managing a smile. “Thank you for proving me wrong.” 

Peter reached over and grabbed her hand. Natasha gave it a gentle squeeze before it, too, went lax. Letting out a sob, he curled over the edge of Natasha’s bed, body shaking. Tony rubbed his back, crying silently as he continued to hold onto May’s hand. 

~*~ 

“The fries here suck now.” MJ made a face, flicking one over at her boyfriend. “Think they got a new cook or something.” 

Peter scrunched his nose, grabbing the fry and eating it. He made a face afterwards. “Oh, God. You’re right. They taste like they got a new seasoning on them.” 

“Right? Disappointing.” MJ popped another fry into her mouth anyway. “Ned and I still have the blog. We were thinking of turning it into a Spidey blog.” 

“Another one?” Peter laughed, looking between MJ and Ned. “I think I have enough of those as it is.” 

“Yeah, but we’re running it. Which automatically makes it better.” MJ smirked. “I’m kidding. We don’t know what to do with it.” 

“It’s gotten so many hits and followers,” Ned said excitedly. “It’s like when Iris had her Flash blog during season one.” 

Peter snorted. “With how many are already out there, I doubt people would find much interest in one more.” 

“What are you guys doing over break?” MJ asked. “I was thinking of visiting my grandma in North Virginia. Get out of the city for a week.” 

“I’m staying here,” Peter answered. “There’s still a lot of clean-up to do, unfortunately. Thugs are getting bold with so many recovering and weak people. Thinking about asking Wade for help with some of it.” 

“I’m also probably staying.” Ned pouted a little. “I tried asking any relatives outside of the city if they wanted a visit, but nearly all of them are doing something.” 

The door to the diner chimed from behind them. Usually, they would ignore it, but Miles was suddenly standing at the end of the table staring right at Peter. “Can I talk to you? Outside, please?” 

“Oh, sure. I’ll be right back.” 

Miles led Peter to a nearby alleyway and triple checked to make sure it was clear. Peter opened his mouth to ask what Miles was doing when he suddenly started climbing up one of the walls. 

“Holy shit,” Peter breathed out, grinning widely. “How...” 

“I don’t know.” Miles jumped down. “MJ and I were moving boxes at FEAST when a spider suddenly bit me. Neither MJ nor I thought of anything at the time, but suddenly I can do everything you can.” 

“That’s awesome, Miles. Have you told anyone?” 

Miles quickly shook his head. “You’re the only person I could think to turn to. Since, you know, you’re Spider-Man and all that.” 

“I could train you,” Peter offered, smiling when Miles stared at him in awe. “ As long as you make sure to get your schoolwork done beforehand. Trust me, I still get yelled at for not doing that. Best to get you in the habit before it becomes a problem.” 

“Yeah, yeah, yeah, of course.” Miles couldn’t stop smiling. “Don’t tell my mom, though. I don’t think she'd handle it well.” 

“Yeah, of course. Just...you know, keep your identity a secret.” 

“Thanks so much, Peter.” Miles gave him a quick hug before dashing off. 

Shaking his head fondly, Peter walked back into the diner. MJ quirked an eyebrow at him as he slid back down into the booth next to her, but didn’t comment. 

“So, nerd. What are you going to do for work now that Octavius’ lab is completely shut down?” she asked. 

“Dad ended up hiring me at SI.” Peter sighed, stirring his straw around absentmindedly in his Coke. “I didn’t really want to, but I’m already itching to get back into the lab.” 

“Well I think this’ll still be a good opportunity for you.” MJ gently bumped her shoulder with his. “Working for your dad or not, I still think you’ll do great work.” 

“Thanks, MJ.” Peter turned to Ned. “How are things with Betty?” 

“Great, actually. Her and a couple of her friends are moving into an apartment together to save money. It’s near the campus, so they’re able to walk to class.” Ned looked more relaxed than he had in a while. While he was still recovering from the bout of Devil’s Breath he had been infected with, he looked happier. 

“That doesn’t sound like a bad idea, actually," MJ said, smirking a little. “We all have jobs. We could easily get a place together near the school, or whatever.” 

“Haven’t we been planning on doing that since junior year of high school?” Peter asked, laughing a little. 

“Well, yeah, but now we can actually do it.” MJ shrugged. “If you don’t want to, though, that’s fine.” 

“No, no. I do. It’s just...going to be really weird not living with my dads.” He chuckled softly. “Not sure my dad will let me leave.” 

“Your dad won’t let you, or you won’t let you?” MJ quirked an eyebrow, causing Peter to blush hotly. 

“I came here to have a good time, and I'm honestly feeling so attacked right now.” 

“Old meme.” MJ threw another fry at him. “I know Steve is, like, really old, but you don’t have to be behind on the memes like him.” 

Peter threw the fry back. “Excuse you. I am hip with the times.” 

MJ snorted. “Right. Anyway, we don’t have to decide anything now. We can always wait until the end of the school year and see how we're feeling still.” 

“Either way sounds fine with me,” Ned added. “Pretty sure my mom wants me out either way.” 

Peter smirked. “I keep telling you, man. If your mom wants you out, we have the room at the house.” 

“Don’t encourage him.” MJ poked Peter’s cheek. “He still nerds out whenever your parents are mentioned.” 

“They’re Iron Man and Captain America. What isn’t there to nerd out about?” 

“After you’ve seen them numerous times in the morning before they’re able to have coffee, the awe wears off.” Peter laughed. “Papa only drinks one cup, but he’s still a bit grumpy. Dad’s a downright nightmare until he’s had, like, three.” 

“It’s a miracle you’re both able to tolerate him in the morning.” MJ pushed the half-eaten basket of fries away from her. “God, I can’t stomach these anymore. I suggest we try finding a new place to eat. If Mick’s doesn’t have their awesome fries, then I don’t want to keep going here.” 

“Fine with me. Papa’s always saying we need to stop eating here so often.” Peter shrugged. 

MJ fondly rolled her eyes. She then looked at her watch with a sigh. “I should head home. I still have a history assignment to work on before starting on some nonsense Bugle piece.” 

“I’ll walk you home,” Peter offered. He threw down a couple bills, enough to cover the meal plus a generous tip. 

“Peter, stop paying for our meals,” MJ protested, glaring at said man. 

“I like doing it, though.” Peter shrank a little under her glare. “Sorry.” 

MJ huffed, but let it drop. “Yeah, whatever. See you later, Ned.” 

“Bye, Ned.” 

Ned gave them a wave before pulling out his phone to more than likely text Betty. Peter grabbed MJ’s hand and laced their fingers together. 

“I’m sorry if I’m overstepping,” Peter said quietly. “From, you know, paying and all that.” 

“You’re not,” MJ replied quickly. “Sorry, I just...Betty thinks you do that to flaunt your cash or something.” 

“I don’t.” Peter’s eyes were wide. 

“No, I know that. If anybody were to do that, it’d be Tony,” she joked. “I don’t mind, Pete, but...just let me pay for myself every once in a while, alright.” 

Peter grinned, squeezing MJ’s hand. “I think I could handle doing that.” 

“You think? Stark, you better .” 

“Stark-Rogers.” 

“Stark is quicker to say.” 

Peter rolled his eyes. “Alright, I’ll give you that one.” He was quiet for a moment. “Um. Thank you for helping during the whole crisis. Both you and Ned, really.” 

“We wanted to,” MJ said honestly. “Personally, I hate feeling useless, so it was my suggestion to make the blog and go into Norman’s penthouse.” 

“Never do that again, by the way. I know you have a key, but with Sable still lurking around, I don’t want you getting hurt.” 

“I think she’s warming up to you,” MJ joked. “You’re no longer a priority target." 

“Dad told me to still be careful anyway. I may not be a fugitive anymore, but I'm still a vigilante.” 

MJ hummed softly. “That’s true. You still do a lot of good, though, so I highly doubt the police will take you in.” 

“Eh, we’ll see. I’m sure if I keep working with Wade, they’ll have something to say. Especially Jameson on his podcasts.” 

“He’s been smearing you this entire time,” MJ pointed out. “I’ve been keeping up on his podcasts. He still hates you, for the record. Determined to find out who you are under the mask. He’s actually pretty angry that the Avengers don’t go after you ‘like the menace you are’.” 

“Doesn’t he have a book about me?” Peter asked with a laugh. “He’s my number one fan.” 

“Hey, it’s good publicity.” 

MJ smiled. “At least the Bugle doesn’t run those pieces anymore. Even Eddie was starting to get bothered by them and he doesn’t care for Spider-Man either way.” 

“I’ve always liked Eddie.” 

“Hey, MJ! Pete! Wait up!” 

Stopping on the sidewalk, both Peter and MJ turned towards the direction their names were called. To their surprise, Harry Osborn was quickly jogging to catch up to them.