“Peter, listen, as your man in the chair I promised to always be honest with you so-”
“When did you ever say that?” Peter asked, cutting off Ned while he tinkered with a screwdriver and connected some small metal wires to tiny, flat sticky pads.
“It may have been more of a mental promise but still, this is me telling you that this doesn't sound like a good idea.” Ned said, Peter was surprised to see that he genuinely seemed worried, his face was tense and he kept worrying his lower lip between his teeth.
“But Ned, come on man, how many times have we imagined making the tech that they always show in that series?” Peter asked. “For once we’re actually close, like this is going to be ready for a test run in a matter of minutes, imagine if it works and we’ve succeeded?”
“Yeah, it would be awesome in theory, but the point of that series is why this tech is bad, we’re dancing with the devil here.”
“You worry too much,” Peter said with a snort. “Let’s just try it out and if it goes wrong, there's always the small flash drive here that we can insert into the system to safely shut everything down without causing the test subject to become trapped in their memories.”
“The fact that we had to plan that contingency proves that this is dumb,” Ned said, “why did you involve me in this? I can't even plead ignorance when the police haul me in to accuse me of some elaborate murder consiracy.”
“Dude, chill, we’ve written everything down while we’ve gone so even if that did happen then you have proof that I was an active participant in this experiment, and I needed someone capable of programming the system from scratch incase something happens.”
“Do you even hear what you're saying?” Ned said.
“Come on, help me attach these, the ones on my scalp are going to be tricky,” Peter ignored Ned’s warnings.
“If I refuse?”
“Come on, you're just as curious as me to see if this works.”
“I am!” Ned shouted. “That’s what makes this so much worse, I want to know how it turns out, but is it worth potentially becoming trapped in your own memories?”
“I have faith in our skills,” Peter mumbled.
“So put it on me.”
“Ok, I have faith in your skills, not mine, which is why we need you if this goes horrifically wrong.” Peter said, hoping that the flattery would help get his best friend on board.
It turned out that he was right, and Ned made a move to help put the sensors in place.
“You sure May won’t be mad about us doing this in here?” Ned asked.
“You need to stop worrying,” Peter rolled his eyes, “it’s either use the TV or the crappy computer monitor in my room. Besides, she’s still gonna be at work for another two hours.”
“I don't understand how you’re still using that monitor, you know Tony Stark, can't you get some high tech 6D monitor or something?”
“That’s- that’s not a thing,” Peter said slowly, but maybe it could be, that could be his next project after he successfully pulled off his memory sensor.
“Not yet.” Ned said with a small shrug.
“Right, ok, le’ts do this.”
Peter lay down in front of the TV. “Ok, we’re going to do a real short trial run first, I’m just gonna think about tonight and hooking all of this up. Give me about thirty seconds and then stick the flash drive in and pull me out of there.”
“Got it,” Ned said and plugged the sensors into the box that connected to the TV.
For a moment nothing happened and Ned sighed in disappointment as he watched the blank screen. Slowly, a picture started to form, faint at first but then gradually developing more colour and noise started to filter through.
“Holy fu- Peter!” Ned shouted jumping up in excitement. “It worked, it really worked. I can see you and me on the screen. Is that really what my head looks like from the back?”
Ned looked down at where Peter was lying, he looked as though he was just asleep, every now and then he would twitch or move slightly in a way that mirrored his actions on the screen.
“Peter? Can you hear me?” Ned asked.
There was no answer, not that he’d really expected one, but Peter’s nose did twitch slightly. Ned needed to write everything down so they would be able to review it once he pulled Peter from his memories.
Oh no was a bit of an understatement, but it was all Ned could say as he looked at the crumpled remains of the flash drive that they had so stupidly left on the floor rather than on a table or literally anywhere else that would have been safer.
“Oh no, oh shit, oh heck, oh my god, Peter?” Ned mumbled frantically as he waved his arms around. “Peter c’mon, I need a reaction or something, I stood on the flash drive and smashed it to pieces!”
A small furrow of Peter’s brow was all he got in return.
“Ok, ok, ok,” Ned said, “it seems like you can hear me so I’m gonna try to stop freaking out.”
He took a deep, shaky breath, “it’s not working I’m freaking out. Shit, May will be home soon and she’ll kill me and then you! I’m gonna get murdered and then arrested for manslaughter and then my mom will ground me for life.”
Ned paced back and forth a few times. “Oh my god, my mom . She’s gonna be so pissed.”
Peter snorted slightly.
“Yeah, you’re right,” Ned muttered, “I gotta prioritise.”
The problem was it would take days for Ned to programme another flash drive, if not longer because he would be doing all the work on his own. How could he do that and keep Peter’s situation a secret from May and his mom? He wouldn't be able to take Peter to his house. How would he even move him without accidentally disconnecting part of the system and risking leaving Peter trapped in his memories.
“Peter, I have an idea, you’re not gonna like it though.”
Ned fished through Peter’s pocket for his phone.
“Sorry, mate,” Ned said as he flicked through Peter’s contacts until he found the name he needed to call, but didn't really want to.
“Hey, Mr. Stark, don't hang up, Peter needs help.”