If Spider-Man was known for one thing, it was his willingness to spend his time doing little things like giving people directions and helping someone carry grocery bags (That, and his ability to stick to walls. That was also a pretty notable characteristic). No task was too big or too small for Queen’s local superhero.
Tonight, Peter was helping an old woman find her lost cat. Apparently, he was an orange tabby, liked chicken, and was named Pumpkin. Peter spent nearly an hour looking for him before finding the little guy in tree.
“Hey there, Pumpkin,” he said as he started climbing up. “Don’t worry. You’re alright. I’m coming to take you to your-”
“Peter, you’re getting a call from Michelle Jones,” Karen interrupted.
“Hang up. I’m almost done here. I’ll call her back when I’m done.” Miraculously, he made it to the cat without scaring him off. “Come here, little guy.” Peter gently picked Pumpkin up before jumping down.
“She is calling again.”
Peter sighed. “Text her and say I’m doing something right now and I’ll get back to her in a minute.” He made his way back over to the old woman as quickly as possible without scaring the cat.
“Oh, thank you so much, Spider-Man,” she said, taking her cat back and giving Peter a hug.
“It was no problem. Glad I could help.” He waved before jumping onto the roof of the nearest building. “Alright, call MJ back.”
She picked up almost immediately. “Peter?” Her voice cracked, making Peter freeze.
“You okay?” He started pacing.
“Can you come get me?”
“Yeah.” He waited a moment. “Where are you?”
“Oh, right… um…”
“I have her location.” A map appeared in Peter vision with a dot where he assumed MJ was.
“I’ve got it, MJ,” he told her. “Be there in a second.”
He almost hung up when MJ stopped him. “Wait, don’t hang up, please.” He’d never heard her sound so afraid before.
“Okay, don’t worry. I won’t.” He raced off in MJ’s direction. “I’m a couple of minutes away. Just keep talking so I know you’re okay.”
“I’m… I can’t think right now. I… I just…”
“It’s alright. Just try to breathe, okay?.” He could hear her deep breaths as he jumped from roof to roof in her direction. “Only a minute now. You’re okay.”
“Right, yeah, I’m okay. I just need to stay calm.”
“Good, you’re doing good.” About 40 seconds later, Peter could see her in an alleyway. As he got closer, he could also see a man face down on the ground next to her. A gun layed near his hand. “Hey, I’m here. Is he…?”
“He’s alive.” She looked pretty shaken up. Peter knew he shouldn’t have been surprised based on the phone call, but he’d never seen her like this before.
“Want me to…?” He pointed at his web shooters. She nodded. He webbed the man to the ground. “What happened?”
“I was walking home and he pulled me into this alley. He pulled out a gun and tried to rob me.” Peter’s eyes widened. Come on, Peter. You can’t freak out. She’s right here. She’s alright. “I panicked and pretended I saw Spider-Man. He looked up to see if you were there. Then I pepper sprayed him and punched him in the face and...” She gestured at the ground.
“MJ, I’m so, so sorry I didn’t get here faster. I was-” He cut himself off. I was rescuing a cat. Oh my God. I am the worst friend ever. I-
“It’s okay. I, um… I called the cops. They told be they were on their way and to get somewhere safe nearby, but I didn’t want to risk him getting away, so I stayed here and called you.”
He had to fight to keep his breathing under control. “Do you wanna wait for the cops, or-”
“I want to go home. I-I can’t...”
“Right. Cool. Karen?”
“Yes, Peter?” she said.
“Send a message to NYPD about this and tell them I’m making sure she gets home safe.”
“They won’t like you taking away a witness.”
“I don’t care. I need to get here out of here.” He looked back up at MJ. “Ready to go?” She nodded. He picked her up and swung her back to her place. Don’t panic. You can’t panic. She’s freaked out enough. Just get her home. She’s alright.
He put her down right outside her apartment building. “I can make it from here,” she said. “Thank you.”
“Are you sure? Is someone else home?”
“Yeah, my dad should be up there.” She did a quick wave and hurried inside. Peter just as quickly took off in a random direction before ending up on the roof of a building he didn’t recognize. He ripped his mask off and started crying. She could’ve died. He could’ve taken all her money, shot her, and then she would’ve died while I was out saving a dumb cat. What kind of superhero am I? How could I-
His thoughts were cut off by the sound of the Iron Man suit. What the- The next thing he knew, Mr. Stark was in front of him. “Hey, Pete.”
He scrambled to stand up and put his mask back on to cover his tears. “H-How did you know I was here? Do you need me? Is there a mission?”
Mr. Stark stepped out of his suit. “Nope. May has a strict policy against missions on school nights, anyway.” He sighed. “Karen told me what happened with your friend. Thought you might have a meltdown or something.”
“Peter, take your mask back off.” His words didn’t leave much room for argument. Even so, Peter could tell he was worried about him. He took it off. “I talked to May. She’s cool with you coming to the tower for a bit to cool off or-”
“I don’t need to cool off! Did Karen tell you what I was doing when my friend almost died!?”
He nodded. “It’s not your fault. She was all the way across Queens. Plus, she ended up being able to take care of herself.”
“She…” His eyes started to water again as he sat back down. “She shouldn’t have to. I should’ve been there to help. I’m the one with these powers.”
“Yeah, but she was the one with pepper spray. Very effective against assholes, I hear.” He sat down next to Peter and put his arm around his shoulders. “Think about it this way. MJ’s fine. She’s home and safe. That cat is also home and safe. Who knows? Maybe if you’d been there with MJ, that cat would’ve been hit by the bus and the lady would be mourning right now. Things are okay right now. Thinking about better possible outcomes isn’t gonna help you right now.”
Peter thought for a moment. “If I go to the tower with you, I wanna make buttons for MJ, Ned, and Aunt May. Something they can press when they’re in danger and need me.”
Mr. Stark smiled. “Maybe not a button, cause they could press it by accident, but that’d be good. See? This is a learning experience. Everything’s gonna be okay.”
Peter gave him a hug and got up. “Alright, time to get to work.”