It was just your average everyday sort of night in New York. The sky above was clear and might have been good for some swinging if he had brought his suit. But he wouldn't be doing anything like that because all his stuff was still at Ned's. He had forgotten it there after school when they went to work on a project, and he still hadn't gone to get it yet. Maybe tomorrow. Peter walked past a grocery store, pausing for a moment as he debated whether or not to pop inside to get some Cheetos as a late night snack. He only had five bucks on him right now.
His hungry thoughts were interrupted by screaming. Peter turned around to see the source of the noise, and his eyes widened as he took in the building in flames down the block. Well, that wasn't good at all. He took a step forward. Peter decisively reached for his backpack strap. His hand met empty air, and he blinked. Oh. Right. Still no stuff. This is what he got for procrastinating. Peter let his hand fall back to his side and winced at the sound of breaking glass. A woman shouted, and the flames roared out of the windows with a whoosh.
"Fire! Fire! Somebody help!" one of the people screamed as they ran further from the scene.
Panic was clear in their voice. Another chunk of the building fell down, crashing to the cement, mangled and bubbling with heat. Peter felt dread coil in his stomach, but he knew that he couldn't really do anything without revealing himself out of the mask. The boy started to step back to walk away when he saw a Latina woman try to run back into the building. One of the men caught her and held her back.
"No! No, my daughter's still in there! ¡Déjame ir!" the woman yelled.
"Somebody call the fire department. Help!" someone else said.
Peter felt his feet start to carry him closer to the burning building without really consciously making the decision. Apparently he was doing this. He ran up next to the people congregated at the bottom of it. The woman was still struggling against the man who held her back, hissing obscenities in Spanish.
"Is there anybody still in that building?" Peter asked.
"We think there's a kid stuck on the third floor," the man said.
"Got it. Thanks," Peter told him. He ran toward the building and gingerly leapt over an alight piece of the ceiling that had fallen in the still open doorway.
"Hey! Hey, where're you going?" the man yelled. "Don't be stupid, kid!"
Peter made his way through the wreckage that littered the ground floor, darting up the wooden steps. He gasped as a beam detached from the ceiling and nearly smacked into his back. His Spider sense was going off like crazy, screaming at him to get out of there. Peter did his best to ignore it unless it spiked, meaning there was something that would probably hit him in the next ten seconds or less. Old wood creaked and fell all around him. Peter whipped his head around when he heard screaming. High pitched screaming.
"Where are you?" Peter shouted.
There was no verbal response. The boy followed the young voice to a door at the end of the hallway on the right. The screaming turned to sobbing hiccups after a moment before it went back to screaming again. Peter looked at the doorknob. Not a great idea. He would probably just end up burning his hand, and that wouldn't help anyone. Peter cupped his hands over his mouth and leaned a little closer to the door to warn her.
"I'm coming in!" he called out.
Peter turned to the side and rammed his shoulder into the door. He grunted in pain and stepped back, rubbing at his shoulder. The door hadn't gave way. The angle was all wrong. Peter reared back to plant his foot in the middle of the door, and it was knocked off its hinges, thudding to the floor. He darted over the fallen door into the room and jumped a burst of flame tried to lick his shoe. He heard cracking from not too far above. It was followed by the scream of old wood, frying unpleasantly under the harsh heat of the flames, tearing away the reliability of the cut up trees, until three floors worth of flames, charred shards of wooden planks, fell down.
His Spider senses warned him just in time, sparking angrily in the back of his head like he had a sudden migraine, and he fell to his knees, rolling out of the way. Peter gasped in another lungful of smoke, hacking out a cough. He heard another soft cry. Peter pushed himself back up to his feet and glanced in the direction of the closet. Flames crackled loudly, popping in his ears as he walked over there. He quickly yanked open the doors of the closet, pushing away the jackets and pants hung up that were in the way. A small girl with wet brown eyes and a braided ponytail whimpered, huddling closer to the wall.
"It's okay. Hey, it's okay. I'm gonna get you out of here," Peter said. He reached out to her, and she flinched back. Well, if this was the same kid as that woman's, then maybe... "Veamos a tu mamá. ¿Si?"
She frowned at him for a few seconds.
"Mamá," the girl repeated. She let Peter pick her up, and he clutched her against his chest tightly.
"Yeah, let's get you out of here. Come on," Peter said.
He ran out of the room, ducking under some of the more persistent flames. Peter jumped back as the floor part to the stairs collapsed, and he ducked against one of the not on fire walls. The gap was about ten feet, but he could probably make it. Maybe. Peter took a deep breath, tightening his grip on the girl, and he ran forward, leaping. He landed a good foot past the gap, but that part of the floor decided to implode under his feet just at that moment. Peter yelped as he fell, and the girl screamed in his ear. His hand caught on the edge of the floor.
His fingers ached from the harsh jolt they had received, but he managed to swing up the little girl onto the ledge. Peter kicked uselessly at the air for a moment, feeling his hand throb. Heat from below leaked up into his jeans. Peter lifted his other hand up to get a better grip, pushing himself up to his elbows with a grunt of exertion. Some of his webs would be nice right about now. A small tanned hand landed on his, and he glanced up, panting. The little girl tugged at him, looking determined in spite of the tear tracts on her soot blackened cheeks.
Peter forced himself to get back up on the ledge, the little girl holding onto his hand the entire time as if she were the one pulling him up. There was an ominous creak above them again, and Peter scooped the girl into his arms, running for the exit. He could barely breathe, and his vision was so blurry he nearly walked into a wall twice. Peter finally made it outside, staggering a little as he walked toward the woman he had seen earlier. The little girl coughed against his neck.
"Ma'am," Peter said.
"Ellie!" the woman exclaimed. She ran over to him and pulled her daughter from his arms. "Oh, thank you. Thank you." She cradled her daughter close. "Ellie..."