"Don't move, Peter."

Peter froze upon hearing Mr. Stark speak. The man was quiet for a long time after they got the gauntlet and he killed Thanos. Peter thought it was a moment of reflection for their victory, taking a moment to revel in saving all of the universe. But the cold order trickled down from Peter's ears to the rest of his body, chilling his bones until it reached his feet, rooting him to the ground. Frightened enough to not move another muscle.

Strange moved his hands and fantastic lights emitted from his palms. "Let go of the gauntlet, Stark," he commanded. "It needs to be destroyed."

Peter watched Mr. Stark look flabbergasted by the notion. "Destroyed?" he breathed. "Why should we destroy it? This—this—we can use this."

Mr. Stark lifted the gauntlet. The stones glistened in the red light from the red skies above them. The gold plated gauntlet paled red, almost blending in with his Iron Man suit.

"This is what we need! These stones… We can end the fight. Forever!" Mr. Stark argued, brows furrowed in severity. "Isn't that the objective? To end all wars before the wars end mankind?"

"How do you intend to do that, hmm?" Strange challenged, his eyes unflinchingly narrowed on Mr. Stark. "You dare assign yourself as our morality compass?"

"I dare to save lives!" Mr. Stark sharply inhaled, glancing away as he pinched his mouth in frustration at hearing any challenges against him. "What are you not getting? This is our salvation! This is how we can preserve the future!"

"The best way to do so is to scatter the stones, far away from one another," Strange countered, not at all moved by Mr. Stark's argument.

"Yeah man," Quill piped up, drawing up to the group. His teammates behind him, darting concerned looks between everyone. "I agree with the goatee wizard over there. Those stones... they're dangerous."

Mr. Stark gritted. "Only in the wrong hands."

Quill shared a feared look with Strange. Star-Lord rested his hands close to his blasters. "Yeah, about that, you see," he began, "everyone in the galaxy is the wrong pair of hands. No one should have any of those stones together. I mean, they were separated for a reason, right?"

"So, what? You want to throw them into the wind? Let someone else go treasure hunting and start this whole thing over again?" snapped Mr. Stark, his voice clipped with venom that Peter's flinched. "Is that what you want?"

"We won't let that happen," Quill said, his voice deeper than before, his fellow Guardians backing him up.

"Oh—so you're going to be our protectors? You and your band of misfit toys?" Mr. Stark scoffed, shaking his head as he grinned. It wasn't warm or friendly. It was biting and incredulous. "Yeah, like I would trust you with my life let alone the galaxy."

He jabbed his finger in Quill's direction. "If you've forgotten, you nearly fucking cost us this round!" he hissed before nudging in Peter's direction. "You're damn lucky that my kid is strong enough to have pulled the gauntlet off that titan! Or else, we would all be dead because of your stupidity."

Quill didn't bat an eye. He gave a long, hard look at Mr. Stark before he slid hand over his blaster. An intense scowl forming at the bottom lip as the muscles around his jaw hardened in determined execution.

Strange, thankfully, cut in between them. "Quill's concerns are valid," he interjected. "They are dangerous. No one should possess all the stones."

"Yeah—so are guns, but we still let everyone have one," Mr. Stark remarked in a clipped tone. "The safest hands are still our own, right? We have to protect ourselves, our future!"

And right when he said that, Mr. Stark's eyes flickered to Peter. They stared at one another. One with desperation and riddled with anxiety. The other, Peter's, trembling, blinking repeatedly, uncertainty clouding the scene before him.


Mr. Stark was calling to him. He registered it, but for some reason, he couldn't speak out. That was fine with Mr. Stark. He only wanted the boy to listen.

"You agree with me on this, right?" Mr. Stark said, his stare drilling into Peter as if he could sink his thoughts into Peter's mind. "You want to go home. Live with Aunt May without worrying what will happen to her? Without her worrying about losing you?"

Aunt May. His brave aunt who squatted in the tunnels for him, her life ripped away because of him. He would do anything for her. Anything to keep her safe and happy.

It must have shown on his face because Mr. Stark snapped his fingers in merriment. "There! My kid gets it," he boasted. "He agrees with me. We need this to bring peace of our time."

"You lie! The Spider-kid did not say a word!" Drax countered and the half-naked Guardian was right. Peter didn't say anything.

Mr. Stark, however, disregarded that minor detail. "Whatever Dave Bautista," he brushed Drax off as he sauntered toward Peter, closing the distance between them as he addressed everyone. "Point is that the gauntlet is our chance to end the reign of terror. If we have the power to save people, shouldn't we do that? Shouldn't we stop bad things from happening to good people?"

Peter's heart quickened in a panic, but Mr. Stark carried on. "You think Thanos is the only big bad? No—there's more," he listed off with his fingers. "We got titans, gods, celestials, witches, tricksters, elves… I can keep going. There's a whole galaxy filled with unknown power that we don't even know about! And… what can we do?"

He looked at everyone. "What can we do to stop them from attacking?" he posed to the group. "What can man do to save itself against that type of power?"

"The Avengers."

It slipped from Peter's mouth. It didn't even register in his mind. His response was quick and sudden that it drew all eyes to him. Peter fidgeted at the attention, instinctively scooting back.

"Um… I mean, we have the Avengers," Peter said again, swallowing uncomfortably. "You stopped the Chitauri's invasion—"

"Barely!" Mr. Stark spat in aghast. "Barely—kid. We got lucky. Lucky in the fact that our nation's leaders decided to shoot a nuclear bomb in NYC. If they hadn't done that, New York would be done. Earth would have been compromised. More people would be dead! Maybe even you!"

"Yeah, but… y-you stopped it."

"Again—barely!" There was growing heat in Mr. Stark's voice. "Peter—you were there! In New York when aliens attacked. You lived in that chaos. Do you really want another repeat? Want to put Aunt May in that kind of danger?"

Peter nervously shook his head. He wouldn't want anyone to go through another New York. He was too young to remember 9/11, but he remembered New York. The aliens dropping from the sky, tearing the greatest city in the world apart, he watched hordes of people stampede down the streets. Their panicked screams climbed to a crescendo, reaching his bedroom window where Peter stood on top of his bed, watching the nightmare unfold.

Until Aunt May rushed in and grabbed him around his waist, carrying him out as she hurried from the bedroom. He remembered May pressing him close to her chest, hand covering his head as she ran out of the apartment. There were others in the hallway, running and screaming, but May held him, running fast down the stairs. She repeatedly told him everything was fine, but Peter knew it wasn't true. But, he knew he was safe with her as they reached the basement, snuggled close up against the dryers to wait out the terror above them.

Peter never forgot the look on his aunt's face. The wide eyes that only stared at the entryway or at him. When those eyes turned to him, she put on a brave face for him, but Peter still saw fear. He hated how her eyes got so large and her mouth stretched thin, and the way her forehead wrinkled, making her a lot older than necessary. He remembered putting his hand on her face, trying to rub away those lines. His hands got wet from the tears falling from May's eyes. She was so scared. Her limbs trembling as she squeezed Peter to her, shushing him even though he didn't make a noise.

He hated that she was so scared and he was not. Peter wiggled up and draped his arms around her like she did for him. He squeezed too, keeping her safe like she kept him.

The sound of machine winding up brought Peter back to Titan, looking up to see Star-Lord aiming his blaster at Mr. Stark.

"Stop it!" Quill yelled, and his teammates also brought out their weapons. "I don't know who the fuck you are and I don't give a damn, but stop scaring the shit out of the kid."

Peter blinked. Was he scared? He glanced down at himself. Arms were wrapped around him, holding him as he stood awkwardly between Mr. Stark and Strange. Even in the heat and beads of sweat lining along the crown of his head, shivers ran through him. But what was he scared of? Of the past? Present? Future?

Mr. Stark drew his chin down, eyes dark and piercing as he looked at Quill with newfound abhorrence. "You want to know why he's fucking scared? Because he knows what I am saying is true!" he stated. "These stones… it will be like having a suit of armor around the galaxy. Keep people safe and secured.

"No more need for Avengers! We don't have to wait for people to get hurt before we do something about it," Mr. Stark reiterated, sounding more frustrated by the lack of acceptance. He dropped his gaze back down to the gauntlet, his eyes lighting up like it was the answer. "Peace… how could any of you not want peace?"

"We do," Strange's measured voice replied, stepping forward to meet Mr. Stark. "Though not at the cost of personal freedoms."

"No freedoms are being jeopardized."

"As long as they don't cross you," Strange challenged. "If you use that gauntlet, that's exactly what you will be doing. You and you alone decide the fate of the galaxy and its inhabitants. Many call that dictatorship."

Peter whipped his head to Strange, brows wrangled at the absurdity of what Strange said. Peter knew Mr. Stark liked control. He liked being his own boss and preferred to be above authority, but to extend that to such level, it didn't seem right. Mr. Stark didn't want to be a dictator. He only wanted to stop people from dying. Stop them from being afraid.

And like Peter, Mr. Stark huffed incredulously at the insinuation. "I'm offering peace."

"You're offering oppression."

Peter thought back to his conversation with Steve Rogers. Captain America knew Mr. Stark wanted to protect people, keep the world safe, but disagreed with Iron Man's way to achieve it: "But putting a gun to every head and saying it's for security… it's not freedom."

A chill pierced Peter's heart. Mr. Stark wouldn't…

"I have spent the last ten years of my life fighting to end all this and when I have the opportunity to do so, I'm going to take it," Mr. Stark said, his mouth thin. "So, disagree with me all you want, but you have no idea—no idea!—of what losing is like. To watch people you love get hurt or die and knowing you could have done something. Could have said things or done things differently that would have kept them alive!"

Mr. Stark's words struck Peter, forcing the repressed memories back into his conscious. Faint wheezes were heard in his head, images of a body on a sidewalk and when Peter looked down at his hands, the shimmering metal of his suit turned blood red.

No… no… no…

"I don't answer to you," Mr. Stark continued to glare at Strange. "And I don't need your approval."

Mr. Stark turned to Peter and firmly gestured. "Underoos—come here."

Peter didn't know what to do. His mind conflicted. His heart twisted and guts knotted. He wanted to protect the world. He wanted to help people, save people… so no one else had to experience what he had.

And yet, Captain America's reasoning rang true. To give up freedom for security was no security at all. Even with Iron Man, the man who saved the galaxy from Thanos, leading the charge… it wasn't right. It wasn't freedom or liberty or true peace. It would be a lie. It would be wrong.


Peter jumped at Mr. Stark's snap. Mr. Stark's eyes were dark in the red light. Almost black. "Get over here right now!"

The whirling sounds of blaster fire grew and Strange's magic intensified. "Stay away, kid!" ordered Quill.

Peter looked around. Everyone was in position. Everyone had their weapons drawn, ready to fight. There was no need to fight. They were allies. They're on the same side!

Peter looked back to Mr. Stark, still holding the gauntlet. The object that got everyone into this tense dilemma. If he got that away from Mr. Stark, it may calm everyone down. "I-I… please, Mr. Stark," he said, pleading with the man. "Maybe… maybe I should hold the gauntlet? Just until we come to a decision. Let's just go back to Earth, talk it over—"

Mr. Stark gave a long, disappointing sigh. "You too, huh?"

Peter swallowed. "No, no, no… I just think… a lot has happen and we could all use some time to cool down. Think and figure things out with cooler heads—"

Mr. Stark's look quickly became annoyance. "I had this talk far too many times. I know every opinion, every debate," he said, wiping a hand down his jawline. "And that's fine because, if I have to, I'll do it myself."

A prickle of fear stabbed in the back of Peter's mind. "Do what?"

"You'll see," Mr. Stark said, sounding more determined than ever that even the stones hummed louder from where they were placed on the gauntlet. "Now… get over here."

Strange grabbed Peter's arm. It shocked Peter how the wizard snuck up on him. He must have floated with the cloak's assistance. "Don't," the wizard whispered. "Get behind me right now."

"But—" He wanted to say he could talk Mr. Stark down. He only needed more time.

Mr. Stark's cheeks grew red, his temper flaring the eyes as he growled, "Get your hands off him!"

Quill moved forward, weapon still aimed at him. "One more step closer to the kid and I shoot," he warned. "Nebula? Get the gauntlet."

The blue woman gritted her teeth as she drew her weapons up and ready to strike. Mr. Stark's armor lit up, the nanites roaming over his body at command. Strange tugged on Peter's arm to get him away from Mr. Stark.

"Stay behind me," Strange directed as he pulled Peter behind him. "Whatever happens—"

Peter resisted a little. "I can help—"


"Peter isn't going anywhere!" Tony's voice thundered and a bright, purple light blasted across Titan's landscape.

The planet cracked and the dirt of Titan molted around Peter until it sucked on his ankles. Peter yelped and tried to jump out, but the ground hardened and he became trapped, locked in place.

"Mr. Stark!" Peter yelped.

"Stay," was all Mr. Stark ordered before he whipped out his palm and shot a plasma bolt right at Star-Lord.

Peter gasped, thinking it was going to collide with the man, but the Guardian jumped out of harm's way, rolling around the dirt as Strange brought up a magical barrier around himself, absorbing the blasts Iron Man sent at him. Drax, Mantis and the blue woman named Nebula all joined the fray.

Peter, trapped by the dirt, watched in horror. "Stop!" he screamed at everyone. "Stop! Guys—stop it! Stop shooting!"

No one listened to him. Why would they? He was only a kid. No one ever took kids seriously.

Strange used all sorts of magic tricks to prevent Mr. Stark from hurting him, while Quill and the other Guardians used tactic maneuvers to hit or dodge. Nebula drew swords, running and jumping in hopes to stab him. Drax joined her, but neither of them were able to get close enough to hit him. Too many blasts bolts firing for them to get close. Mantis, sweet innocent Mantis, hopped around with her antennas glowing, afraid and unsure how to help.

Peter needed to put an end to this. He couldn't watch someone get seriously hurt or worse, dead, before they cease fire. Using his superior strength and his suit's capabilities, Peter hacked at the dirt trapping his feet, scratching furiously to dig himself out. His pinchers shot out, stabbing the ground around his ankles to assist him. He jostled his feet, trying to loosen the ground's constricted grip on him. Upon a tug of his right leg, he felt the dirt loosened, giving him room to wiggle his toes.

Peter smiled at his success. No one noticed how close Peter was to freeing himself. Too busy shooting each other to notice.

One more pull, Peter thought to himself. That should get one leg free.

A painful cry pierced through the firefight. Peter whipped his head up and saw Mantis crumble off a rock and fall in a heap.

"Mantis!" screamed Drax.

Quill stopped flying. His mask deactivated, eyes large and fearful as he stared at his fallen friend. His lower lip trembled as he waited for her to get up. To shake off whatever hit her. When she didn't, Quill bolted for her, but a blast in front distracted him, forcing Quill to abandon her and fight again.

The girl laid still, unmoving. Almost like Peter. He gaped at where Mantis fell, silently begging her to get up. To stand back onto her feet. She couldn't be dead. It wasn't possible. She was alive and… and…

Drax roared in outrage, charging at Mr. Stark. "I will destroy you!"

Peter, frantic, yanked hard on his other leg and freed his feet from the ground. It hurt like hell though. All the jagged pieces of the ground bruised him, leaving grooves and imprints into his skin. Minor aches that he dulled to bury the pain in order to focus on one thing.

He bolted toward where Mantis laid lifeless.

Arms pumping, Peter raced past Strange as he hung on the outskirts of the fight to reach Mantis. He kept his head down, avoiding missed blasts as he hurried over to her, praying that Mantis was only unconscious and not dead. Mantis didn't deserve to die like this. She was sweet and innocent. Not a fighter. An innocent.

Peter was almost near when a ring of fire flared up, rushing right at him and encompassing him instantly. He attempted to stop, but tripped into the flaming circle. He entered somewhere dark and dank, and collided into a hard chest.

"Whoa!" came the reaction and sturdy hands gripped Peter's shoulders. "What the—Peter? Where did you come from?"

Peter jerked his head back.

It was Captain America.

Captain America steadied Peter, pushing him into the light to get a better visual. The look of concern was embedded in the man's eyes as he knelt to Peter's level. Shadows moved behind him, slashes of light revealing little of who Captain America was meeting prior to Peter's sudden interruption.

Peter sharply scanned his surroundings. He was not on Titan. The red dirt morphed into old, slimy stone, and the fiery sky was replaced with an arched stoned passage and speckled lanterns. Peter looked at the faces around him, seeing Nat, Sam and someone else with red hair running alongside their face.

Voices flowed around him too. Questions about his reappearance, what he was wearing and why he looked freaked out. But only one voice broke through to him and it was the legendary hero was close to Peter's face to get his attention.

"Peter? Are you okay?" Captain America said again. "Where were you? Your aunt was looking—"

Peter blinked back to Captain America. "I... I-I was... I went out. I met with Dr. Strange and... I-I mean, I was on the ship! They took Dr. Strange and I... and Mr. Stark..."

"You were with Stark?" Sam said, his tone accusatory.

"He just came—"

"Give the kid a break," Nat snapped at Sam. "Can't you tell he's petrified?"

Was he? Peter didn't even realized he was shaking. Was that why Captain America gripped him tight? Was he going to pass out?

"You're all right, Peter," Nat said, her voice less agitated than it was with Sam. "You're safe. We're going to take you to May."

Peter didn't feel safe. He was on the edge of a very steep cliff, with fire circling around him and blasts ringing in his ears. "They're in trouble!"

"Who're in trouble?"

Mantis. Quill. Dr. Strange. Drax. The blue girl Quill dubbed Nebula.

Even Mr. Stark.

"All of them," Peter said and he could now feel himself vibrating into a fit.

Everyone around him looked concerned. Nat nodded in Captain America's direction and turned down one of the tunnels. Captain America looked back to him.

"We're going to take you to your aunt," Captain America explained, straightening up. "Do you think you can walk?"

He must be shaking so bad if Captain America was asking that question. Peter nodded despite his ankles throbbing from being entrenched in the ground. They walked through the tunnels, Peter a bit unsteady, but Captain America stayed close to support him. He always helped Peter over the steps and ledges. They finally got to the main room of their camp base and Peter spotted Aunt May, fraught with nerves, sitting on one of the rundown couches with Hawkeye.

She saw him too and rushed to his side. "Peter! Oh my god!" she gasped, pulling him to her side to plant a kiss on top of his dusty head. "Where did you go? Why did you leave?" She gave him a tight hug and for that brief moment, Peter actually felt safe and his quivering stopped.

When they parted, May got a better look at him. Her nose scrunched up. "What are you wearing?"

He had forgotten that he wore a new suit, with advanced technology by Mr. Stark. Something he should have mentioned right away, considering it most definitely has a tracker, pinpointing his location to their secret headquarters. But Mr. Stark was thousands of light years away. He couldn't hurt them now. Only the others who were stranded on Titan.

"Here—" Nat led him and his aunt to the couch again. Hawkeye promptly got up to make room. "Sit and tell us what happened. From the beginning."

Peter told them what happened when he went to Dr. Strange's headquarters. He spoke of an alien squid coming to steal the Time Stone from Strange. There was a fight that went from the Village to Washington Square Park and Mr. Stark arrived to help. The alien knocked Strange out and kidnapped him on his flying donut ship. Peter explained how he and Mr. Stark saved Strange's life, but ended up getting stuck in space before crashing on Titan. He introduced the Guardians of the Galaxy, who arrived on Titan to kill the big bad. Then, the big bad showed up.

"Thanos," Peter told the group. "They called him the Mad Titan. He wanted to destroy the universe. Wipe everyone out or... or something."

Peter claimed they only had a one chance of winning. One in fourteen million. So, they came up with a plan and it worked. They got the weapon off Thanos and then Stark killed the Mad Titan when he tried to smash Peter dead. He heard his aunt's suck in a sharp breath before she squeezed his arm tight. He hadn't even gotten to the worse part yet.

"And... that's when it went crazy," Peter said, remembering Strange's and Star-Lord's reservations. How they confronted Mr. Stark. Mr. Stark's disagreements. "A-And they started to-to fight."

"Who?" Captain America asked, but his tone told Peter enough that the man already knew. He already knew the participants. Only wanted the confirmation.

"Everyone! Mr. Stark... Dr. Strange... Star-Lord and... a-and..." Peter swallowed hard to not cry. He could still see Mantis laying on the dirt, unmoving. "I-I... I t-tried to get them to stop, but... no one listened to me."

"Why were they fighting?" Clint asked.

"Over this gauntlet, I presume," Nat answered looking at Peter for confirmation. "My guess is Stark wanted it. The others didn't want him to have it."

Peter numbly nodded. That was the basis of it.

Captain America sighed heavily, running a hand down his face in complete exhaustion. "That doesn't explain how you got here though, son," he said. "Did Dr. Strange send you? To warn us?"

"No," Peter whispered, shaking his head. He remembered the fearful look in the man's eyes when he ran past him. "He did it to protect me."

May squeezed his hand right then. Probably more in fear than comfort. After all, he just came back from an alien planet, fighting for the universe, nearly getting killed in the process, and then straight into another skirmish between allies where his savior sent him back to Earth. Back to Captain America.

Maybe it was to warn them. Maybe Strange thought Mr. Stark would kill them all and Peter became the best chance to warn the others of what was occurring. What was happening and find a way to stop Mr. Stark from achieving whatever he planned to do with the gauntlet.

Peter's gut ached and he roped an arm around himself. He wished it didn't have to be him to tell everyone the bad news.

"So—that's it?" Falcon inquired. "You got shot through a portal and back here."

Peter nodded, but it hurt to nod. His head was buzzing, prickling him. The adrenaline must be wearing off. All his bruises and sores reminded him that even with his powers, he was very much human. His head hurt the most though. Thanos's slap and punch left him winded during the battle, but Peter began to think it also gave him a concussion.

Falcon frowned at him. "You okay? You look ready to pass out?"

"I think I got a concussion," he muttered, leaning his head against his aunt. "From... from fighting."

Clint walked away and returned with an ice pack. Peter thanked him and placed it against his scalp, drumming in pain as his stomach did repeated flips. He kept picturing the fighting. Mantis falling. Drax roaring. Quill flipping through the air, shooting blast after blast. Nebula screaming and slashing her weapons. And Strange, throwing the ring of fire at him and sending him back to Earth. Sending him away from the firefight.

He hoped they survived. It was childish to hope everyone lived. That the fighting stopped the second he was gone, but Peter clung to that belief because... the truth was harder to deal with.

Peter cringed under another wave of searing pain across his forehead. Thanos's blow was worse than he thought. May noticed and rubbed his back, gently as she soothed him. "Hey... hey," she comforted. "Everything's okay."

No, it wasn't. None of it was okay.

The Avengers huddled, talking amongst themselves on what to do with this newfound information. Peter tried to eavesdrop, but the blinding pain in his head diluted his hearing, making it all sound garbled. His skin got hot too. The new spider-man suit really contained his body heat within him. He hung his head down, looking at the embossed spider on his chest, trying to figure out how to get out of it. It wasn't exactly a hoodie and sweatpants. How could he command the nanites to get off his body?

He picked at the suit, watching the nanites ruffle at his touch, but none peeled back. It was like they were glued to him, a part of him now. Was that the point? Peter shook his head. No, Mr. Stark's nanites disappeared at command, but what command? Was Mr. Stark the only person who could get him out of the suit?

A hand touched Peter's arm, redirecting his eyes back to those pale blue of Captain America. The hero kneeled next to the couch, expression soft and calming that Peter believed that everything was okay. That Captain America had a plan to fix the mess. Except, the pounding in his head wouldn't go away. No matter how many times he blinked and rubbed his face, the intensity didn't die down.

"Peter? I know you've been through a lot, but we need to know where Tony is right now," Steve said, keeping his tone even and not forceful. Nevertheless, Peter heard the urgency in his words.

"T-Titan... I think," Peter garbled out, wincing underneath the drumming of his head. "In outer space. Not here."

"Okay, good, good," Steve said, his hand holding Peter's, gently rubbing it as a pressure. Maybe to help him focus? "Are you okay? Clint? Do we have anything for—"

Peter heard shuffling and something came up in his vision. A pill. Two pills.

"Take these," Steve said, handing the pills to Peter. "May help with the headache."

"Shouldn't we get the kid to the hospital or something?" Falcon questioned. "If it's a concussion—"

"And let the government seize him again?" Nat said, shaking her head. "Can't go to a hospital."

"He doesn't look good," came Scarlet Witch's concerned voice.

He didn't feel good either. Peter leaned helplessly against his aunt, who started trembling with nerves of her own as he got weaker and weaker.

"Is this normal?" May panicked. "Is it from being in space or-"

"Don't know," Steve replied, trying to press a bottle of water into Peter's hands. "Never been to space."

Definitely not from space. The symptoms would have started a lot sooner. No, they were happening now and increasing. Pulsing more and more to the point Peter wanted to scream it out of him. Run away from it. Run as fast as he could, but he was crippled by it. Something bad was happening.


Peter blinked. Steve was looking at him again. His brows drawn together, concerned as he tilted his head. "What's happening?"

"I-I... I don't..."

Something. Something was happening. It invaded every sense of his, overpowering and demanding its full attention, curdling his stomach and trembling his heart. Peter didn't know what though. He was with the Avengers. He was with his aunt. Nothing bad was going to happen to him. There shouldn't be any reason for feeling broken or lost.


Natasha's voice rang out, drawing everyone's attention to her in an instant. Her voice was frantic and scared, and her eyes rounded right at Captain America. Slowly, everyone looked back to their leader. Captain America stayed kneeling in front of Peter, bizarre by Nat's shout when he noticed what she spotted. What everyone else noticed too.

He was... dissolving!

Steve's hand slowly disintegrated. First his fingers, then his hands, trailing down to his arms. Inch by inch, his body dissolved in front of their eyes. Everyone fell in shock, unable to comprehend what the hell was occurring. Didn't know what to do or how to stop it. All they could do was watch, horror-stricken, as Captain America slowly dissipated.

But Steve knew. He sadly looked on as his body disappeared. "Oh, Tony..."

Captain America's words drifted out as the last visage of him disintegrated into ash.

Panic ensued.

Not because Captain America vanished, but because everyone else started to crumble too. Natasha Romanoff was the next one to go.

She looked up, fear crossing her face for the first time. "Clint?"

Hawkeye raced to her, grabbing her arm as if to keep her there with him, to tug her back to life.

Like Steve, she turned to dust, and Hawkeye was holding nothing but leftover ash and air.

Falcon followed shortly after. His was quicker. He didn't get the chance to say anything before he became nothing but wisps of dark grey dust. Wanda backed into a wall, eyes wide, terrified, as she looked wildly around her. Then in a blink, she was gone too. Pieces splintered off Hawkeye and in a panic, he rushed to the door.

"Laura! Kids!"

He never got to the door. His body burst into ash, fluttering in the air where he was last seen.

Through it all, Peter's head pounded, heart bleeding as he watched the Avengers dissipate to nonexistence one by one. He sat, scrunched into himself as he took in the terror occurring before him. His mind whirled. Questions, fears and dread swirled, paralyzing him in the unknown chaos.


Aunt May's voice sounded weak and scared.

No. The word blared and burned in his mind. He turned to his aunt. Flakes of her were flying off, crumbling onto the cushion and fluttering to the floor.

No. Please... not her.

Aunt May wrapped her arms tightly around Peter, pressed closed, her voice in his ear. "I lov—"

Peter suddenly choked. Ash coated his lips, filled his mouth and clogged his nostrils as he breathed. He coughed, hacked and sobbed as his aunt dissolved into nothingness. Only a pile of scattered ash remained where she sat, where she once existed. His hands were dusted of his aunt, cover in the soot she left behind of herself.

Chest shaking, Peter stared hard at his hands. He willed it to be untrue. Willed for her to come back. Willed for another chance to stop her from disintegrating.

Please... please... no.

Both nothing happened. She didn't come back. Neither did Captain America. Or Black Widow. Or Hawkeye. Or Falcon. Or Wanda. Any of them. The tunnels, once filled with life and commotion, darkened and quieted.

Peter sat alone amongst the piles of ash, tucked underground in the secret headquarters now turned crypts. He was left with the dead. The missing. The lost.

And when that struck him, pain erupted in the center of his body. He convulsed, his heart shredding to pieces as he dropped his head in his stained palms. His face paled and body deflated onto itself. He wept, muttering incoherent pleas and sorries. But all he heard in response were ghosted words.

From Luke Cage – "Death is inevitable. People die. People live."

From hallucinated younger self – "You don't win. It's inevitable."

From Dr. Strange – "Are you ready to face the inevitable?"

Even from Thanos – "I am inevitable."

Peter balled into himself, hugging his legs and dropping his head on his knees to contain the agony wrecking him. A loud sob escaped Peter's lips, reverberating through him, drowning and tearing him apart as he begged for them to come back. All of them to come back. But the dust didn't reform. It stayed as it was, secluding Peter to the dim, dingy tunnels alone.

He looked back at all the ashes around him, at the final resting place of all the heroes.

It wasn't supposed to end like this.