Spider-Man sees the moment Nova falls unconscious. It is visible not only in the way the eye whites of his helmet grow dark, but also in the way that his glowing blue silhouette fades completely. Only a fraction of a second passes before gravity takes hold over the slender body defying its grasp.
Peter’s mind screams at him to react, to do something, as Sam begins his plummet to the unrelenting concrete below.
"Nova!" He yells, hoping that someone closer than he would hear the cry for help. He glances around at the others - all locked in their own battles, each too busy to even notice what is about to happen, let alone attempt to save the falling hero.
He has no remaining options; he has to save Sam himself.
Shooting his web-slingers at the nearest tall object, he swings himself fluidly through the air. Wind whips through his suit and mask, cutting off his breath with how fast he is flying. He pants harshly, trying to bring enough air to his lungs and expel it outwards, but it just isn’t working. Not that he cares, as long as he gets Sam to safety.
Time seems to slow down exponentially in the last few feet of Sam's freefall. Adrenaline pumps through Peter's body, not making him feel the rush of excitement he usually experiences, but rather a cold fear, bringing with it a wave of doubt. He doubts the Nova Corps helmet's ability to keep its owner secure, he doubts his own abilities, both as friend and as leader, and he doubts his feelings towards Sam are merely platonic.
At the final second, he reaches out for Sam, and the tips of his fingers connect with the edge of his helmet. He knows right then that a moment later his world would crash down around him. Sam's helmet slips off his head, and his body continues its descent, none-the-wiser to what is about to transpire.
Peter closes his eyes in defeat, waiting for the inevitable.
He hears it a second later, the deafening yet far-away crack of bones against hard asphalt, and the screams and yells of his teammates. Another second passes, and he hears the clatter of the helmet bounce off the ground below him.
He dares to open his eyes, and glances cautiously down at his friend and teammate. Sam’s body is sprawled face-up on the sidewalk, and blood seeps from below his head, forming a deep crimson halo. His face is peaceful despite the tragedy that just occurred.
Ava reaches him first, followed by Danny and Luke not far behind. Peter is still dangling from his web, limp and languid, watching the scene from above. He feels nothing but guilt and despair.
He’s failed Sam; nothing would ever be the same.
Down below, Ava places her hand to Sam’s neck, feeling for a pulse. Other than that careful contact, nobody dares to touch him, aware of the possibility of a spinal cord injury. Her face displays an open look of hope and affection toward the boy.
Peter's world is looking up after all as Ava screams, "Spider-Man, call the helicarrier for an immediate evac!"
Peter wastes no time in dropping in beside his team, quickly taking control of the situation. Outwardly, he seems undeterred by the deep guilt brewing within him; inwardly, he is slowly losing his mind to the guilt.
He turns on his communicator, immediately getting a hold of Director Fury.
“Medical EVAC is on its way.” Fury grumbles, all-knowing as always. They watch as he turns around and yells something at the command center behind him, knowing full-well that he is spewing expletives and vulgar terms as he demands they move faster.
“Make it fast, we don't know his condition nor how long he will last. Spider-Man out.” Peter mutters, turning back to the body lying limply on the sidewalk. He knows what his teammates are thinking, they blame Peter for screwing up. If only he had gotten there sooner, or had not knocked the helmet off his head, Sam may have been conscious by now, taunting and jiving him for worrying so much; instead Sam lies on the ground, unconscious, bleeding out, and without help.
What happens next surprises them all. Sam startles into consciousness, crying out in pain. His eyes open wide, glazed over in agony, as he starts writhing in pain on the ground.
Peter is the first to react, collapsing to his knees and holding Sam down by the shoulders.
“Sam, stop struggling! You’ll only injure yourself further!” At this, Sam’s eyes focus and land on Peter’s face. Peter frowns deeply at the unbridled panic Sam seems to be exuding.
Sam opens his mouth as if attempting to speak, when his muscles suddenly contract and seize severely. Peter watches in horror, and looks to his friends for help. Nobody knows what to do in the situation and he is secretly glad when Fury pushes his way into the crowd.
“Spider-Man, you need to move! Fury is here, he will help Nova. You just need to get out of the paramedic’s way.” Ava speaks calmly, not daring to use real names in front of so many onlookers. Peter dejectedly walks to his team’s side, observing the way the paramedics maneuver Sam’s body so that he doesn’t hurt himself in the throes of his seizure.
“Stay calm. This isn’t my first rodeo, and it sure as hell isn’t the first seizure i’ve witnessed either.” Fury reassures. Peter almost laughs hysterically at the use of his phrase. He holds himself back, barely.
His seizure lasts a full minute and a half; time felt as if it were crawling at a snail’s pace.
As soon as Sam’s seizure ends, only about 5 minutes have passed since the whole ordeal started. It sure felt like hours, however. The paramedics quickly throw a C-collar around Sam’s neck and place him on the stretcher. They get him onto the helicarrier and his team follows as far as the med staff allow.
“Parker, how did this happen?” Fury inquires as soon as they breach the med bay waiting area.
“Sam and I were taking on Taskmaster together. Ava and Danny were fighting Doctor Doom, and Luke fought the Goblin. Sam and I were close to finishing off Taskie when he took a cheap shot and knocked Sam unconscious with some kind of ray gun. I kind of let him go when I tried to save Sam. I’m sorry.” Peter explains, giving the brief overview. “Anyways, when I tried to catch Sam, I wasn’t fast enough and my fingertips grazed his helmet and caused it to fall off. Oh God, it’s all my fault. I should have been faster. I - I was so - so close…” He breaks off, attempting to reign in his strong feelings of guilt and keep his voice from breaking.
“Peter, it’s not your fault. None of us blame you. It was all Taskmaster’s doing.” Danny guarantees. His comrades nod in agreement.
“Yeah, dude. You tried to save him from falling. The fact that his helmet fell off was not your fault, no matter how much you think it is. Nobody will blame you, least of all Sam.” Luke’s comment really cheers Peter up, particularly the point he made about Sam not blaming him.
They settle in for a long night of waiting.
3 hours pass without so much as a word of news. They sit in a comfortable silence, nobody speaking unless telling the others they would be back after a bathroom break. Peter is the only one to not leave his spot, staring at the wall opposite of him for hours, contemplating his feelings. He contemplates how long he’s had feelings for his teammate, and whether or not he should attempt to act upon them. He just doesn’t know if they would be reciprocated or if Sam would be repulsed by him and never want to speak with him again. The possibility of either of these situations would only lead to pain and misery for Peter; he decides not to risk it.
Luke breaks the silence first, trying to ease the tension of being left out of the loop of Sam’s condition for so long, "Parker, you need to stop thinking so much. We can feel your guilt from over here." Nobody laughs--it's not like Luke was expecting a reaction anyway.
After that’s said, a balding man bearing the SHIELD insignia and a white lab coat appears at the door, Fury by his side. “Fury! What’s the news?” Peter questions. Fury has a stark expression adorning his face, making it nearly impossible to read neither his thoughts nor his feelings.
The man in the white lab coat speaks up first, “If you would follow me, please. I would like to speak with you all in a more comfortable manner.” The mention of going to the doctor’s office regarding a friend’s health was never a good sign. Nevertheless, they follow him to his nondescript, brightly lit office, sitting straight-backed in the chairs offered.
“My name is Doctor Fletcher. Now, before I get into it, I’d like the remind you all that what I am telling you in a second here is not etched in stone. There is always the chance that everything will be perfectly fine.” The doctor starts out, taking a stab at reassuring the teenagers. “The fact that he was not conscious when he fell may have even saved his life, due to the fact that he was rather lax at the time.
“On the other side of the spectrum, however, Sam Alexander’s fall took a major toll on his body. Thankfully, there was only minor bruising and swelling around his spine, and we are optimistic that the swelling will go down in a few days to as much as a weeks time. Furthermore, he suffered a fractured pelvis, a rather painful and not easily ignored injury. When he wakes, expect that he will be in major pain until the bone heals and will have to undergo a month or two of physical therapy to be able to walk without a limp.
“Now onto the most complex injury his body sustained. His impact with the ground caused a TBI--otherwise known as a traumatic brain injury--and swelling to the back of his brain, which is ultimately what brought on the seizure you witnessed. I know what you all are thinking, and contrary to many other cases i’ve seen much like this one, Sam did not fall into a coma; he is merely unconscious and will likely remain that way for another day or two to allow his body to heal. We have put him on a ventilator to help with the shallow breathing--another side effect of the TBI. When he wakes, don’t be alarmed if he seems dazed or confused and doesn’t remember anything leading up to the accident; it is a common thing amongst TBI victims. Do any of you have any questions for me regarding Alexander’s injuries?” Doctor Fletcher wrapped up his long-winded monologue.
The team, still trying to wrap their heads around what they were told, shook their heads at the Doctor. Doctor Fletcher nodded along in acknowledgment, motioning the teens to follow him to Sam’s hospital room.
“Normally I don’t allow this, but as per Fury’s orders, you all may stay with him. Just don’t disregard yourselves, I really wouldn’t enjoy another patient this late at night.” At the mention of being late at night, the teens look at the clock in the corridor, hardly realizing it’s nearing 11 O’clock. Peter is glad he told Aunt May he’d be at a sleepover with Sam that night. The thought of Sam lying there in the hospital room alone spurs him into action, bursting into the room--quietly. What he sees both scares him and relieves him, scares him because he was so close to losing him, and relieves him because he’s still there and alive.
On that note, all feeling relieved to be in the presence of Nova once again, they settle in for another long wait--this one less tense and nerve-wracking than the last.
The day and a half leading up to Sam’s awakening were peaceful yet restless, with everyone taking turns reminiscing and telling stories of memories with Sam. Occasionally the doctor would walk in and check Sam’s vitals, at the same time encouraging the teens that their friend would be waking very soon and to be patient with him when he does. A nurse eventually came in and took Sam off the ventilator. They were looking forward to seeing Sam open his green eyes for the first time in a long time.
A few more hours pass and there is still no change in consciousness.
Finally, nearing the 2 day mark, the heart monitor hooked up to Sam sped up minutely. Peter and Danny--the only boys present in the room at the time--expectantly looked towards the prone teen on the bed. Moments crawl by, little by little, and Sam’s eyes inch open slowly, only to scrunch closed again when the full intensity of the lighting assaults his sensitive retinas. Sam moans as he opens them once again, keeping them open on this attempt. The look on his face was one of disorientation, one that stayed even when Peter and Danny leaned over him, hoping to spark some recognition.
It took Sam a few moments to overcome the haze drifting across his consciousness, and when he does, he sees the concerned faces of his teammates Peter and Danny looming over him. “P-Peter? Danny?” Sam stutters, “What am I doing in the hospital?”
"Sam, we had a little accident when we were fighting Taskmaster, to be honest, we all thought you were dead. Please don't do that to me--I mean, to any of us--again." Peter explained, barely managing to cover his little slip up.
Saved from making a further fool of himself, Ava and Luke stride back into the room, carrying food from the cafeteria for Peter and Danny.
"Sam! You're awake!" Ava shouts, running to give Sam a kiss on the forehead out of relief.
"Hi, Ava, good to see you too, I guess? Now could somebody tell me what is going on here? Seriously what happened Webs."
"I already told you, there was an accident with Taskmaster." Skirting around the real problem with the basic information.
"No, I mean why did you think I was dead?"
"Oh, that. Well, Taskmaster knocked you out with a ray gun of some sort and when I tried to save you from falling, I-I kinda knocked off y-your helmet. You were bleeding s-so much, Sam. I thought I accidentally killed you!" Peter chokes out, stuttering and stammering a little with the intense emotion. He stares down at his feet, no longer able to look at Sam's face, no doubt displaying anger and accusation upon it. Tears stream from his eyes, eventually dripping from the tip of his nose to pool on the ground.
Sam stares up at him, an emotionless expression on his face. After a minute, he looks over to Ava, Danny, and Luke and silently asks them to leave Peter and him alone for a moment. They oblige and saunter out to the hallway.
"Peter, look at me." Sam demands. After Peter refuses, Sam pulls his face by the chin until they are looking each other in the eyes. "Peter, I do not, nor will I ever, blame you for something like this. It was not in your control, and the fact that you tried to save me is all that matters. Didn't Danny preach that to you already? Now get down here and kiss me before I have to get up and do it myself."
Peter stares in disbelief, not comprehending what was just said until Sam sighs in exasperation and pulls him down by the neck of his shirt. Peter's lips land on Sam's and for a brief moment, everything is sunshine and rainbows, until Sam pulls away to gauge Peter's reaction. Peter must have been incoherent for a minute or two because he finally comes back to himself when Sam slaps him across the face.
"I'm going to assume you liked it by the way you went into shock right there? Wow, I must be a really good kisser."
"In your dreams, Bucket-Head, you just caught me off guard?" It comes out of Peter's mouth more as a question than a statement though, telling Sam all he really needs to hear.
"Sure, you keep telling yourself that Webs. Hey, guys you can come back in now!"
The team comes back in the room and know exactly what happened, according to the smug looks on their faces. Ava winks at Sam. She told Sam that if he kissed Peter, the idiotic genius would realize his feelings towards him. She was right, as always.
"Okay, now could somebody please tell me why the fuck my nether regions hurt so badly?" They all laugh at the words used by their teammate, and they know that everything will be okay in the end.
They also know they will have to put up with Sam and Peter being that sappy couple you see in the movies, because let's face it, they would so end up being that cliche couple in a Nicolas Sparks movie.