This is the last part, folks! Thank you so much for following, favoriting, and reviewing this short story. I'm so happy that you enjoyed it!
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Marvel characters or any rights to anything Marvel.
Peter instantly recognized the voice. It belonged to one of his biggest idols. It belonged to his mentor: Tony Stark. A part of him wanted to turn around instantly and ramble on about something exciting to the billionaire but a larger part new there was nothing to even say. What could he even say?
"Kid, you alright?" Tony asked again, remaining in his spot.
Peter could feel the worried eyes on him but he still didn't budge. He did, however, manage to say something. "Hey, Mr. Stark," he said with a quiet voice, head lowered as he traced the lines across his arm on the suit. He didn't mean for his voice to come off that weak and he grimaced once it did.
Slowly, Tony approached the young hero. His metal boots of his suit clanged against the cement roof that masked his racing heart that hadn't settled down since FRIDAY sent him an alert. "I got an alert from FRIDAY about your suit. Your vitals went haywire for a bit."
Crap, Peter thought. Maybe the suit wasn't the greatest idea when he had those nightmares and tried to cool off. "Oh," he replied. "I'm alright now."
"Something like that." He didn't give his mentor any more than that.
Tony sighed and stepped out of the suit before standing beside Peter. "I noticed you haven't your suit in quite a while. That's uncharacteristic of you."
"Maybe I'm getting bored of it," Peter mumbled. Bored? He could never get bored. He mentally cursed at himself. Maybe it's because he doesn't know whether he should continue to be Spider-Man or not and if the world really needs him. Of course, he couldn't say that to Mr. Stark. Not yet anyway.
"Bored?" Tony said in disbelief. "I never thought I would hear those words come out of your mouth." He waited for Peter get defensive, but the kid remained silent. Tony sighed and sat down next to Peter. He needed some way to get the kid to talk. That night wasn't the right moment especially in the mood he was in and didn't want to make Peter feel worse. "You should come up to the compound tomorrow. I can show you some more tricks with your suit that you haven't used before. How does that sound?"
Inside, all Peter could feel was his heart racing, a panic surging through him but he kept his composure calm. He made sure to make his eyes widen in excitement. "Really? Because- because that would be so cool and I have been working on some new web formulas I wanted to show you!" Keeping his eyes wide and his voice high, he turned to Tony who looked somewhat…confused? Was it confusion?
Tony had his eyes narrowed, mostly planning on how he would approach a sensitive topic about some things the kid might experience as being a vigilante (at least from what he assumed because why else would Peter acted the way he was?). "Alright. I'll have Happy pick you up tomorrow at noon. You better be awake when he gets there," he said.
"I will!" Peter nodded eagerly as best as he could. One thing he knew that Tony hopefully didn't was that hardly ever slept anymore so sleeping in was the least of his worries. Inside his insides were twisting at the thought of Tony knowing about his sleeping habits and passing the information onto Aunt May.
God, she did not need to know that. She did not have to put even more stress on herself by worrying even more than she does as he goes out as Spider-Man. And if she knew what some of the nightmares were, and that he had actually experienced them in real life, that would be the end of it. It would be game-over as Spider-Man and he would probably never see Tony ever again.
After Aunt May had a long discussion over the phone outlining the day's plans at the Avengers compound with Tony, Peter left the apartment. Happy picked him up exactly at noon and Peter rushed down the stairs of the apartment building to meet him.
It wasn't long before they arrived at the compound. The sight of the main building and the others sprinkled across the grassy area still took Peter's breath away as it had the first time. No quinjets took off this time. It was pretty quiet for a Saturday afternoon. Tony stood outside of the main doors at the bottom of the stairs. He was fixing the sleeves on the jacket he wore as Happy pulled up and parked. Pushing up his signature glasses, Tony gave them both a smile as they exited the car.
"Hey, Spider-boy," Tony greeted as Peter approached him.
Peter gave him a tight smile. "You mean Spider-Man."
"I said that, didn't I?" Tony turned to Happy.
Happy looked between the two. "You sure did, boss."
"See? I said it right. Now c'mon inside to see these new additions for your suit and you can show me that new web formula."
The three headed up the stairs and inside the building. Despite it being fairly cool outside, Peter felt the relief of the cold air inside hitting him. He didn't feel the light coat of sweat on his forehead until then. Whether it's from his anxiety or the weather he didn't know.
None of the Avengers were around as far as Peter could tell. Before he could ask, Tony mentioned how they were all in the training facility next door kicking each other's asses (his words) after they had some trouble on some minor mission a few days prior that he sat out on. Tony left out the part that he sat out because of how much he was worried about Peter.
Once they entered the workshop, Tony paused at the table covered in scrap metal that he had yet to use his new suit and for Peter's. The doors closed behind Peter as he took in the entire room, his eyes lighting up at all the suits on one wall and scrap everywhere else. He could imagine all the things that could be built and that he could mess with to create something that he would be able to use whether for personal or superhero life.
"This is amazing," Peter said.
Tony took a deep breath and turned around. He leaned on the table and crossed his arms. "Peter, I want to talk to you about something."
Peter narrowed his eyebrows. "Is this about the whole Avengers thing with me turning it down because I can- "
Tony waved his hand. "No, it's not about that. It's about the fact you haven't worn your suit much within the last few weeks. Also, it's about how you never messaged Happy, and not only hung up on me once but ignored one of my calls not long after. Look, I don't care about you not answering but you never did message me anything either. You left us in the dark, Peter."
In that moment Peter's heart dropped into his stomach. He could feel his intestines twisting around the heart and constricting it as it tried to pump blood. It began to feel hot in the room and he no longer liked being in there. 'Um – I'm – "
"Is something going on, Peter? Is there a bully at school tormenting you again? Family troubles? I know you're enhanced but maybe sick?"
"No, no it's none of those," Peter choked out. His lips were pressed in a thin line and he avoided Tony's eyes. "It's none of those." Oh god oh god oh god oh god. This is why he wanted to bring him to the compound to corner and ask questions about what happened on the roof.
"I even called Aunt May," Tony continued. "She said you wanted to focus more on your homework and social life which isn't a bad thing at all because if it is that, you could have mentioned it. I want to make sure you're alright, kid, and if you need a break from Spider-Man to focus on school more, which I advise, you can say that."
He has to tell Tony. If he agreed to wanting to focus more on school and his grades end up slipping it could lead into a large web of lies he wouldn't know how to untangle himself from. "It's not that either," Peter began. He took a few more steps toward Tony, now standing in the middle of the space between the billionaire and the door. "Something – something happened one night."
Tony's face fell at Peter's words. The kid looked close to tears as he stared at him. "What happened?"
"There was a group of guys and they were circling around this woman and her kid. It was getting pretty scary so when things got violent I tried to intervene but – but –" the next few words wouldn't come out of his mouth. They sat there on his tongue mocking him.
A few tears slipped down Peter's face and he quickly wiped them away, turning away from Tony ashamed. "I couldn't save them. Things got messy and – and – then the woman was on the ground so I tried to protect the kid but it was too late. I don't know what happened. I should have been able to take them out with no problem. Why didn't I? Why didn't I take them all out to where the two walked away safely and went back home or something?" He sucked in some air. "And now I can't sleep because I have these nightmares of that night repeating over and over again and sometimes they change into Ned, Aunt May, you, MJ, Uncle Ben, Liz, just everyone. And all I can do is just watch and let it happen.
And then there was one night where I stopped some fight between some guys around my age and guess who was one of them? The son of the mother I couldn't save."
As Peter rambled on, Tony was at a loss for words. Peter was so closed off but he just broke open and spilling all the thoughts on his conscience into the room. It clicked though as he went through all of the data from Peter's suit and what he was saying. How did he not think of this? Why did he think of every possibility except something happening while the kid was out on patrol? Peter was a smart and strong kid. Maybe that's why Tony never thought of it because he would know what he should not get into. Or at least that's what he hoped after the past year.
When Peter was done, he was crying. The tears he had been trying to hold back just fell and fell down his face. He pressed the palms of his hands on his eyes to try to stop any more from forming but it wouldn't work. He felt Tony embrace him into a hug to help calm him. Prying his hands away from his eyes, Peter returned the embrace and cried more.
God, he was crying in front of Iron Man. And Iron Man had to comfort him. He was so pathetic.
But maybe he wasn't pathetic. He was just stressed and in pain because of how not only how traumatic the incident was, but of how it closely mirrored Uncle Ben's death. "You don't have to bottle this all up, kid. We all experience stuff like this and we understand what it's like. You don't have to face it alone. The Avengers are here for you."
Peter backed up and looked at Tony. He felt so small with telling Tony everything but after what his mentor said, he felt better.
The Avengers are here for you.
The Avengers are a team and he was technically an Avenger, right? Teammates have each other's backs. They have his back. He will get through this and cope. He will accept it and tuck it in a safe place.
After a few moments of silence, Tony cleared his throat. "So, who's going to tell Aunt May about all of this?"