The bullet only grazed the kid.
Sam Wilson's head jerked to the side at the cry of pain in the comms, immediately searching for Peter. It was maybe his second mission with both Bucky and the kid, now that Steve was gone and the kid's pseudo father was retired. It had been almost a year since they'd been back...since they'd returned to life after one battle only to be thrown into another, and for the kid to be thrown into another right after. Thankfully, Bucky and Sam had been able to get to Europe in time to help the kid out, and Tony had torn Fury a new one for messing with the kid on his school field trip right before taking the kid straight home and making him take a few months off.
The kid hadn't even seemed to mind. And Sam didn't blame him. For all his swinging around and building crazy new things, the kid was...well, he was a kid. And coming back to life, nearly losing the third in a line of father figures, and nearly dying on a field trip would take a toll on anyone. So Peter had spent those months catching up on school, apparently getting a girlfriend, and going over to Tony's lake house every other weekend or so, sometimes staying for a full week.
Sam only knew all this because the kid didn't seem to be capable of shutting up. Not that Sam minded. Not really. He'd even come to appreciate the constant background chatter, and Bucky like having the kid around too. Sam suspected it had something to do with an ironclad moral code and a tendency to get himself into trouble that rivaled Steve's. On their first mission, an easy one, so Tony had relented pretty quickly when Peter had asked to tag along, the kid had been a little quiet at first. Seemingly nervous. But all it had taken was one question from Sam about school to get the boy's whole life story, and from then on, the kid had been his usual chatterbox self.
Their second mission was a bit harder. If you could even call it a mission, that is. Some asshole calling himself 'Doc Ock' was wreaking havoc on Manhattan, and Peter had been the first on the scene. Apparently this guy was a nemesis of Spiderman's, which Sam knew because, like his nemesis, Octavius didn't seem to be capable of shutting up. The kid had been holding his own against this guy, for the most part, when Sam and Bucky had shown up, wondering aloud when supervillains had decided to go with themed costumes. Were Octopuses supposed to be evil, Sam had asked under his breath, making Peter laugh into the comms as he'd dodged a stray tentacle that had shot out to grab him.
"The Hydra logo kind of looked like an Octopus." Peter had pointed out, shooting a web and swinging around, trying to wrap the guy in his webs without much luck.
"No, it looked like a hydra. Geez, kid, don't they teach mythology at your fancy school?" Bucky had asked with a snort.
"I mean, we take US history, so…"
"Will you focus!" Sam had snapped with no real heat in his voice when a tentacle had nearly gotten him. The kid dodged like it was second nature, though, so he hadn't been in any real trouble. Or so Sam had assumed.
They'd both been circling the guy when the gun had gone off, and that's when Sam heard the cry of pain, and jerked his head up to watch the kid start to go limp, shooting a web at the last second to catch himself, a hand gripping his side. "Kid!" Sam called into the comms, taking a step toward him as Bucky moved to cover him, his eyes shooting worried looks Peter's way too. "Kid, you good?"
He hoped Peter was good, or else Stark was going to straight up murder them. He had a whole lake to hide bodies in now!
No, Sam thought a little ruefully. He didn't just hope Peter was okay for Stark's sake. He liked the kid. He was a hell of a superhero and a good kid and for god's sake he was only seventeen. How had they thought letting a seventeen year old become an Avenger was a good idea? "Spiderman!" He demanded when there was no answer, but then Peter jumped, landing on a rooftop and gripping the ledge for a moment.
"I'm good...just grazed me."
"You sure?" Bucky asked.
"Yeah...just...just need to sit."
"Alright. You hang tight, Spidey. We've got this."
To Sam's unending surprise, Peter did just that, although he did answer their occasional question about him being alright, assuring them that he was fine. That it had just grazed him. So they did their best to focus and bring him down, and then Sam flew up to the rooftop only to find the kid sitting against the ledge, legs out straight in front of him, mask off. "Kid? Hey, Peter? You good?"
"It grazed me…" Peter muttered, his hand still pressing on his side.
"Yeah, you said. Let me take a look." Sam knelt at his side, wings retracting, shield strapped to his back as Peter moved his hand out of the way and Sam got a look. It was bloody, but it looked like Peter was right. Just a graze. But that didn't explain the deathly pale pallor of the way Peter seemed to sway a little. No way the kid got sick at the sight of blood. "Peter? What's going on? You hurt somewhere else?"
"No…" He blinked up at Sam, flinching when he shifted on the ground. "Hurts. Hurts a lot...more than…" He gritted his teeth, biting back a grunt of pain and pressing his hand to his side, blood staining his fingers red. "Sam?"
"Alright, we need to get you to the Compound. Bucky? Can you get the car?"
"Kind of busy with Doc Asshole down here."
"Let the police get him. The kid's down."
"I thought the bullet just grazed him!" Bucky cried, sounding focused now. "What's wrong?"
"I don't know. Something's off. We need to get him to the Compound."
"We've got to get Stark to buy the tower back if we're going to be fighting crime in the city all the time." He grumbled, but Sam knew he was getting the car as asked.
"Mask back on, kid." He ordered, helping Peter pull the thing back over his face, then scooped him up. Peter placed a sticky hand onto his back, flinching a little when Sam stood.
"Hey, can I throw the shield?"
Sam snorted, jumping off the building as his wings unfurled. "No."
"Steve let me."
"He did not." At least the kid was talking. If he was talking, he was okay.
"Well he would have if I'd asked."
"Have you ever played frisbee with the shield?"
"No," Sam lied. He and Bucky had played frisbee with the shield at least twice.
"Have too...Mr. Stark…" Peter took in a pained breath, dropping his head and taking deep breaths for a moment.
"He told me you...you'd…"
"Talk to me, Peter. What's going on?" As he landed beside the car that Bucky had waiting for them, Peter's eyes fluttered, seeming to lose focus for a moment. "Peter!"
"He told...told me…". Peter blinked a few times up at Sam, jaw clenching in pain as Bucky yanked the back door open.
And then the boy went rigid in his arms, eyes rolling back, his whole body shaking as his limbs jerked, and Sam was frozen in place for a solid two seconds before he knelt down, doing his best to lay him down. Bucky yanked off his jacket and shoved it under Peter's head while Sam's hands hovered over the boy's jerking body, hesitating for only a moment before getting him on his side as best he could. Dragging his eyes away, he looked at his watch, trying to time the seizure and force his mind away from the boy seizing on the floor.
"You're alright, kid. Hang on...just...hang on…". He muttered, meeting Bucky's eyes.
"How long?" Bucky demanded as the seconds seemed to drag on, Sam doing his best to keep the kid on his side and keep the jacket under his head.
"Almost a minute."
"How long until…"
Sam activated his comm again. "Connect to the Spider suit." He ordered, spitting out an override code that Tony had forced him to memorize. "Karen?" He asked, feeling kind of dumb. Why had the kid named his AI Karen?
The voice that greeted him was female and more lifelike than he would have expected. "Captain. Peter has been seizing for a minute and 10 seconds and counting. A lethal toxin has been introduced to his bloodstream and he requires immediate medical intervention, as well as an antidote to the toxin."
"Okay, how long do we have to get that?"
"Approximately two hours."
Sam swore, feeling his heart race. No...two hours wasn't long enough! It was a forty minute drive to the compound, even if they sped the whole way. How were they supposed to get an antidote?
Bucky stood then, racing away from them, and Sam put a bracing hand on Peter's shoulder. They had to get him to the compound. "Bucky?" He asked his comm.
"Get him to the compound! I'm gonna get what I can from Doc whatever."
The boy continued to grunt and shake, his limbs jerking and making it nearly impossible for him to wrestle him into the backseat. "Karen? Keep timing it! Tell me if we get past five minutes."
He had no idea what he could do if they got past five minutes. Laying him in the backseat and pulling his mask off once more, Sam slammed the door, then jumped into the driver's seat. "Call Tony!" He ordered, pressing his foot on the gas. If Bucky got anything, he'd have to find his own way to the compound. They couldn't just leave the kid out on the street. They had to get help!
"Hey, Sam, how did…"
"I'm on my way to the compound with the kid. Bullet laced with some kind of toxin. We've only got two hours. Bucky's trying to get Doc Ock to talk."
Tony was silent for a moment, and Sam hated being the bearer of bad news...especially when it had to do with this kid. But Tony needed to know. He would want to be there…Sam didn't even want to finish that sentence but his brain did anyway.
Just in case.
"I'll meet you there. Can I talk to him?"
"Karen?" Sam asked, glancing into the rear view mirror, knowing that Tony would hear. The boy still convulsed, but it was slowing down.
"Nearing four minutes."
"Four minutes?" Tony barked.
"He's seizing. I couldn't wait…". There was an apology in his voice, but Tony didn't acknowledge it.
Then, mercifully, the boy was still. "The seizure appears to have ended." She announced then.
"Peter? Kid?" Tony called over the Bluetooth sound system, but the boy didn't move or even seem to breathe. "Peter? Sam, is he conscious?"
"Karen? Vitals?" Sam tried to keep his eyes on the road but he couldn't help himself...the kid was too still.
"His heart rate and blood pressure are dropping," she informed him, almost sounding afraid. As if an AI could be afraid.
"Stay with me, Peter!" Sam ordered, forgetting about stony for a moment. "Come on, kid. Just keep breathing for us!"
"Peter!" Tony called again, voice breaking, and Sam closed his eyes, clenching his fist on top of the steering wheel.
There was no reaction from the back seat.
"Just get to the compound," Sam ground out, teeth clenched so tightly his jaw hurt. He couldn't lose this kid. Not on their second mission. Hell, not ever.
They were almost to the compound when Peter made a noise in the back seat, muttering under his breath and starting to roll over, only to find himself lodged between the front seat and the back. Sam had driven the whole way in tense silence, not daring to even turn on the radio. He hadn't heard anything from Bucky...had no idea if he'd been able to get an antidote...or at least the poison for Helen to work with. "Peter?" He called just as the compound came into view through the trees. "Pete? You with me?"
"Hang on, Peter. Come on, buddy...come on..." He glanced in the rearview mirror again, but he couldn't even see the kid's face. "Peter? Karen? How's he doing?"
"His temperature is 104 and climbing." She told him softly through the commas. He bit back a curse and slammed on the breaks as they reached the medbay doors, jumping out of the car just as the door opened and a gurney was being wheeled out by Helen.
"Peter?" He yanked the back door open, touching Peter's arm and trying to wrestle him into a position where he could pick him up. The boy's eyes were shut, face pale, lips almost blue, and Sam forgot about being gentle, just yanked him upright and pulled him out of the backseat to get him onto the gurney. "He...he got hit...he was grazed by a bullet and..."
"We know." Helen's voice was gentle as she gave him a brief smile, then she was pulling back Peter's eyelid, shining a light into the whites of his eyes. "Karen sent us all of his information." And then they were rolling him away, leaving Sam out in the parking lot.
Tony was waiting for him in the hallway on one of the benches, his hands clasped in his lap. As soon as Sam entered, however, he jumped to his feet. "Helen just took him back."
"Do you have the bullet?"
"It just grazed him. He was in the air when Octavius shot him. He was fine for a minute...we were getting Ock restrained and he was on the roof…" Sam trailed off, shaking his head. The boy had spent most of the ride in and out of consciousness, sometimes muttering words he couldn't catch, but occasionally he would call out. For Sam. For Bucky. For his aunt...and for Tony. Usually for Tony. "Bucky was trying to find out something from Octavius when we left. I couldn't leave the kid on the street."
Tony gave a short nod, jaw tight as he sat back down, obviously resigning himself to wait. He was all tension, with hunched shoulders and hands clenched into fists. Sam wanted to try and comfort him...wanted to assure him that Helen was the best and that Bucky would get the antidote if it killed him because he loved that kid just as much as the rest of them and that Tony could take the kid back to the lake house with May and Pepper and Morgan and…
Sam could have kicked himself. "Have you called May?"
Tony nodded. "She and Happy are on their way up."
He let himself sit then, grabbing his phone and staring at it. Nothing from Bucky.
Nearly an hour had passed since Peter had been shot. Sam was counting every minute as Helen came out and led them back to his room. As Tony took a seat by Peter's side, gripping his hand and staring down at the bloodless face as if just staring might wake him up. The tube in his throat breathed for him, and an IV ran from his arm. The little monitor at his side told him that his heart rate was high, his temperature higher. He counted the seconds as May raced past where he'd stationed himself by the door and took her nephew's other hand.
He thought about advising them to say goodbye. Just in case. It was a thought that had him wiping his eyes and looking away, then glaring at his phone. Where was Bucky?
Helen came in and whispered to Tony and May, both of whom shook their heads almost angrily, but not at Helen. Not even at Sam. But he was still responsible, he thought. He hadn't been keeping a close enough eye on the boy.
They had twenty minutes left when Bucky raced through the door, hands covered with blood, chest heaving. Without a word, he held out a little plastic baggie with a bullet inside, and Helen all but snatched it from him, shoving past him to get out of the room. Tony and May just stared as Bucky gasped for air, then grinned a little. "I got one of his bullets. He'd stashed the gun…"
Sam could have hugged him.
May did hug him.
It was forty five minutes later when Peter woke, eyes fluttering as he groaned under his breath. Sam and Bucky hung back by the door and let May and Tony sit at his side, touching his cheek and brushing his hair back. Telling him that everything was okay. That he was going to be fine. That they'd have more pain medicine for him soon.
And then, the kid spoke his first coherent sentence. "Are Bucky and Sam okay?"
"Yeah, bud. They're just fine." Tony assured him, then shot the two of them a look so grateful that Sam wasn't sure how to receive it.