Peter Parker's spider sense has been going off all day.
He can't, for the life of him, pinpoint where the possible danger is supposed to be. He doesn't know what it is, either, which does not help him in the slightest bit. Whatever it is, it's apparently not close enough to send red alarm bells ringing in his head. Maybe that means something.
His spider sense, as mentioned, has been going off, but it's been more like background noise as opposed to the unavoidable buzzing that it is when he's patrolling or when an armed to the teeth criminal is heading his way. So, mostly, he's just trying to just ignore the way his brain is trying to give him a heads up for what's to come.
With special instances such as patrols and important missions like fighting a group of his favorite heroes in the middle of some random airport in Germany, this sixth sense is extremely helpful. When he's just chilling out in the middle of lunch hour, nodding along as Ned babbles about his crush on Betty, it's more annoying than anything else.
He doesn't even suspect that the issue at hand could be bigger than a spit wad hurled at his head (via Flash, or an even more bored than usual MJ,) until classes let out for the day and he finds Happy, of all people, waiting in a suspiciously low-key car parked along side the Midtown School of Science and Technology's building.
Ned's eyes are wide with excitement. At this point, several months after that whole Homecoming fiasco, he should probably be used to seeing Happy by now. It's not like this is the first time that the man has showed up unannounced, since he's been doing it often recently, after all- however, this is the first time that Tony Stark is sitting in the passenger seat, frowning as he peers down at his state-of-the-art cell phone.
The first thing that enters Peter's thoughts when he sees his mentor figure is that something, somewhere, is going horribly wrong and that he needs to suit up, get in the car, and help out the best that he can. That requires two things, however, and he doesn't have either of those- he needs to have some semblance of an explanation, and he needs the suit itself. Naturally, the one day he actually needs the thing while he's on school grounds, he doesn't have it. It's entirely his own fault, too. He had been in a big hurry to get to school on time that morning, and he was so freaking sleep deprived that he didn't even stop to think about how he could just swing to school and get there on time, (possibly even a few minutes early,) so he completely forgot to stuff the thing into his bag- yes, because shoving a multi million dollar suit into a twenty-dollar, frequently missing backpack is what a busy fifteen-year old classifies as a smart decision- so, now he doesn't have it.
"You gonna get in, or are you just gonna stand there gawking at me? I know I'm amazing, but I kind of have places to be right now, so... chop chop kiddie."
"Oh!" Peter snaps out of it with a shake of his head. "What, uh-" He glances around at all the other kids that are flooding out of the hallways and onto the grass outside. He notices that almost all of them, (MJ being the exception, of course. She has an amazing talent of acting like abnormal events aren't even a blip on her radar,) are standing around with the same familiar slack jawed face of awe that Ned, standing in stunned silence, is still expressing. Peter notices this, registers it all as something that's to be expected, and turns his focus back onto the car in front of him. "Hi. What's... going on here?" Are you calling me in for another mission? he thinks but doesn't say. Please don't tell me it's another alien invasion... not that I don't want to help fight it, because you know that I do, but MJ is staring at me like she knows all of my secrets, and if I leave here with you now and Spider-Man is helping Iron Man save New York ten minutes later, she's going to bust me. I'll be dead. Deader than dead.
"Get in the car."
He doesn't. Or, at least he doesn't right away. "That's... pretty cryptic, Mr. Stark. I thought we passed the whole 'I don't trust you at all' phase." Then, because he's determined to both put on a show and act at least halfway like the sassy little shit they both know he is, he says, "Is this a body snatchers situation? Did they replace you with the pod person version of Tony Stark that doesn't think I'm even worth looking at his shoe? Oh. Oh! No, I know what this is!" Nobody asks what he thinks 'this' is. He tells them anyway, because he's on a roll now. He points at the very unimpressed looking Tony, which is odd all on its own. Usually he's snarking back by now. "Time travel!"
Tony doesn't get the chance to unpack all of that.
"Peter," says Happy, addressing the boy for the first time that day. His face looks as bored as it usually is, mostly, but his eyes are wide. When he speaks up again, though, he sounds concerned. But why? "Have you heard from May at all today?" Never mind. That's why.
When Peter, who's confused and unsure why he's being asked just this question in particular, only blinks, MJ takes over for him.
"His phone's been off all day." She slides up to the boy's side. She's squinting at Happy, clearly suspicious as she drops her backpack off of her shoulder and onto the concrete slab below. She keeps talking as she rummages around for her own phone. She taps at the device, waits until it turns on, and searches it for any new texts. (The others deliberately do not tease her about or coo at the fact the fact that her lock screen is her alongside the two people that she calls "idiots" or "losers" on a near daily basis.) "She didn't message me, either."
"Why would she message you?" questions the short boy standing behind her.
"We talk." It's only two words, but it gets the point across pretty well.
"Not getting into that," Ned, who finally seems to be getting over his fangirling, (fanboying?Geek out session?) looks down at his phone, too. He has no messages. He shuts the thing off with a click. "Nothing on my end, either."
"Or mine." Happy is scowling now, his impassive expression from earlier decidedly gone now.
"Why are you asking about May in the first place?" Peter can't help but wonder as he eyes the two men that are making no move to leave the school. One of them stares right back at him, not concerning himself with answering the teenager's questions, but the other man is visibly hesitating. The other, though, is exiting the car.
That one is Tony, who at this point has attracted so much attention and accidentally resulted in so many teenagers videoing him that the whole group just knows on some level that by tomorrow, there will be articles with headlines such as: Tony Stark Visits Midtown, Corners Three High Schoolers, one that is only slightly less problematic, Tony Stark Does Indeed Have a High School Intern- And Here's Proof! Or, much more likely, they'll see something very inaccurate entitled: Tony Stark: Secret Father?
"Kid, really, we should get going."
Peter turns to look at him. He has half a mind to tell the man to stay put and not let anyone else realize that he's here in the first place, but that probably wouldn't do anything. Tony Stark does what he wants. Wincing as a bright camera flash ambushes his eyes, the fluffy haired teenager manages to repeat his question. He points at the man that's still sitting firmly in the drivers seat, impatiently tapping his foot. "Why are you asking about May in the first place?"
The two adults shoot one another an unidentifiable look. As indecipherable as it is, it's still not very subtle. The other three are still staring at the two half-way grown up superheroes, exasperated. (Sure, Happy does not have powers, nor is he technically a hero at all, but he makes due well enough. He works for an eccentric billionaire and his many, many friends. He always ends up in the line of trouble one way or another... so he probably counts.)
"Well. Happy here has been trying to get a hold of your Aunt Hottie all day. When that didn't instantly work as well as he hoped- the man has absolutely no patience, I swear- I got involved."
He frowns. Is this what his Spider sense was warning him about? He remains silent for a few seconds, trying to figure out if that's the case, but nothing changes. The low, humming buzz does not pick up and get louder or slow down and get quieter. Nothing happens.
That doesn't put him at ease much, (the whole knowing that nothing is about to blindside him right away,) even though it probably should.
"Okay, Mr. Stark. You know," Peter says, in a tone so desperately casual that it reminds them all of how deathly calm this kid is right before cheerfully announcing something totally horrifying about how he was just recently stabbed and he may or may not be bleeding out in a dark alleyway in the middle of the night. "May is just at work. She has the late shift today. She isn't supposed to get off for another few hours."
Unfortunately, nobody's expressions change any. Tony and Happy are still frowning at each other, Peter is passive and calm, Ned is slowly becoming concerned, and MJ still sports her usual bored look. Her voice, too, is just as unamused as her face is. This is proven when she speaks.
"You know," she begins dully. She ignores the way that two grown men, her two not grown dorks, five students behind her that she doesn't even know, and approximately seventeen cameras shift to face her. At least most of the phones and various other devices, (she could have sworn that she's already spotted at least three laptops of all things- are these people trying to do things the hard way?) are still zoomed in on the oddly quiet Tony Stark, so its not like everyone on the property are staring directly at her. Thank goodness for small mercies. She also ignores the fact that people staring at Tony when he very clearly wants to get the hell out of Dodge is not exactly a good thing. Anyway. "I know you idiots said that you've tried your best to call May and all that Jazz, but is she even allowed to have her phone on during her working hours?" She then impatiently waits the three seconds it takes for the men and boys to look at one another and shake their heads, unsure of where, exactly, she's going with this.
A reality check of epic proportions that will hopefully calm them all the fuck down is where this is going, she thinks but doesn't say. She figures it'll be obvious soon enough anyway with or without her additional verbal input.
"If she can't check her phone during work," MJ drawls slowly, in a very I think you all are idiots sort of tone, "Then why are you all calling the cell phone she isn't allowed to have right now? And why are you expecting her to actually answer the thing? You of all people, Mr. Scientist or Engineer or whatever the fuck you're supposed to be-" she points over at Tony then, and she swears that at least half of the phones that were previously aimed on him shoot over to her direction. Fuck.
The poor girl has one Tony Stark, famous and untouchable and usually as calm as a freaking cucumber in front of the press, (keyword: usually. Him discarding the very carefully articulated notes drawn up to throw everyone off his back about being a superhero then led to the whole "I am Iron Man" thing, and here they are now,) trying his best to smile, wave, and not accidentally kidnap his "intern" from school. (Yes, "intern." The air quotes are totally necessary. She knows that Peter Parker is Spider-Man, because really. Come on. She's not stupid, and he's not subtle.) Then there's Happy, who's not even trying to remain collected as to not freak anybody out. He's approximately two steps away ditching them all and racing out of here guns a' blazing, which is exactly what he shouldn't do, for more reasons than one. (In the last few months he's had... quite a fixed interest on May that usually leaves her pretending that nothing is going on while the normal trio- MJ herself, then Peter, then Ned- sitting on the floor, staring at her. She's a worse liar than Peter, for crying out loud. Maybe this is where he got it from.)
With a smile so sweet and innocent that Ned turns his attention away from the congregation at hand to shoot a suspicion filled glare at her, because he knows better than to just think that she's not up to no good, MJ picks up where she trailed off a few minutes back. "What's the definition of insanity? Doing the same thing over and over and over again and expecting the same result every time?"
Before the others around her can fully process the fact that she's sassing a superhero to his face on multiple live streams and platforms, Peter accidentally-on-purpose interrupts them all.
"Hello? Hi. This is Peter Parker. I'm May Parker's nephew. I was just wondering if she made it to work today? None of us... er, well... I haven't seen her since yesterday morning."
The unexpected word 'yesterday' more than catches the group of four's attention. They're all ready to hound in on Peter like he's blood in the water and all the rest of them are is sharks.
"He didn't mention that part to me," Ned is quietly hissing out. He actually looks mad. He's never usually that mad in front of any of them, unless it's at Flash. Even that, though, is more of a heavy irritation than anything. This, over shrouded by his heavy, sincere worry for May, is not that.
(They're all distracted enough that they don't quite pick up on the fact that Peter, known for being an elusive Stark Industries intern that the media has almost no information on, has just said both his and May's full name in a public place. MJ, who's concerned about May,
but not as much as the other three are, is able to pay more attention to the small but not exactly insignificant details such as this one.)
"Guys," she whispers, but nobody hears her. She tries again, a bit louder this time. "You guys."
Nobody acknowledges her.
"Okay," Peter says to the person on the other end of the line, nodding. They all notice how he grips his phone a bit tighter, looks around at the the area and the people that are surrounding him, and frowns. "Okay. Thank you."
He hangs up.
"Well?" says a still irritated (but mostly worried) Ned.
Peter frowns harder. He looks troubled for the first time, now. It's as if he feels like he didn't have a reason to be bothered by his aunt going incognito until right this second. "She's not at work. Apparently, the hospital gave her the day off. Don't know why."
"Does she go home on her days off?" asks Tony, who has ended up somewhat separated from the others within the last few minutes, judging by the way that his fifteen-year-old and the other mini menaces can, apparently, barely see even the top of his head. It doesn't escape any of their notices how he very specifically does not mention where home is- nor does he offer to take Peter back to his apartment building in Queens. Tony is currently plenty busy dealing with paparazzi, curious teenagers, and reporters alike- damn it, when did the paps get here?- and he knows well enough by now to not give anything away that could possibly put any of them in any sort of danger. (He's used to putting himself in danger, of course, look at his former Malibu mansion for just one major example of that, but he wouldn't risk pulling anything that stupid when any of the chaos trio are with him. Especially not her, Ned, or Peter, MJ notes. He's especially careful with them. Probably more cautious than he's ever really been in his life. She's not quite sure how to feel about that. Ned, who only blinks when he realizes that Tony Stark, Iron Man himself, is shielding and watching over them and only them, when they aren't even in need of any actual protecting, seems to have the same mindset as she does.)
Peter is distracted. For a second or two, he makes no indication that he even heard the question.
So, MJ just answers it for him and ignores his confused gaze as she does so. "Yes."
"Do we need to warn her not to go home?" She aims her attention on Happy, now. She'd just ask Tony, since he grew up in the spotlight and therefore knows best in this situation, but he's pretty preoccupied at the moment. She kinda does wish that he wasn't so busy, though. Even if she isn't nearly as fond of the man as her Spider-Dork over there, she can acknowledge the very rare times when someone does, for once, know more than her.
(Especially when it can be used to her advantage.)
"It's probably a good idea, but we can't get a hold of her and all. If she does go home, she's going to get swarmed."
"They'd really do that?" Peter innocently wonders. He squints into the wild crowd around them, mumbles a low 'fuck it' and begins to wade his way through them all. It's as if he suddenly entered the world's worst, most crowded rock and roll concert. Even that probably wouldn't compare much to this. Rock and roll artists usually aren't billionaires who save the state and/or world on a yearly basis, after all. On that note, they could probably all use some more security than just Happy. He's great and all, but jeez. There has to be at least a couple hundred people around now. "How could they even find her? Everyone else that I can possibly think of are all right here, anyway."
"The paps can be cruel, heartless motherfuckers." Tony casually calls out, ad if this is something he usually says in front of some members of the aforementioned, generalized profession. The man is fully aware that everyone is hooked on his every word, and that those very words in particular could potentially come back and bite him in the ass, but he still says it anyway. That's a pretty common occurrence in his life, so much so that Happy, now typing away at his phone, only sighs. "They're undoubtably going to get your address, kid."
To his credit, the brown haired boy connects the dots almost as soon as Tony is done laying them out. His shoulders slump. "I can't go home, can I?"
He doesn't try to sugarcoat it. "No, you can't."
"For how long?"
Tony wishes he could tell him. "I don't know."
"So if I can't go home and we can't warn May that everyone and their mothers are heading her way, then what can we do?"
"She's smart. The second she sees a camera flash, she's going to be calling one of us. Or all of us," Ned says in a matter of fact tone. He's still freaked out a little, but he seems to have pushed it aside for the moment in an attempt to calm down the other boy before his panic can really go full force and try to choke him or both of them.
"If she's at home, then why didn't she just do that already?" Peter is now gripping onto Tony's arm tightly as he whips his head around, searching for his best friend whom he can still hear, just not really see. He doesn't comment when Tony squeezes his shoulder and spins them back around in the right direction, but he does shoot him a grateful smile.
"Maybe her phone died?" suggests the shorter of the two the second that they're reunited.
"I don't know, but I think we should really get out of here now."
Tony seems to agree with Peter's idea, because he quickly starts ushering them all off to the car, pushing them all ahead of him. An unfamiliar looking, sleek black car rolls up beside the neutral one that had been brought around what must have been an hour ago now. Time flies when you're really heavily distracted, maybe. "Some of us have to separate from each other now."
When nobody moves any further, he starts pushing them along once more.
"I'll text you!" Ned shouts out as he, along with MJ, shuffle away. Peter shoots them each a thumbs up as he leaps into the seat beside Tony.
Finally safe from the vultures surrounding them, they all take off.
The second they start driving, before they can all even form a single file line as the exit the parking lot, Peter's Spidey sense flares up.
It's bad. It's frightening, the way it only kicks up once they're all away from the perceived danger. The back of his neck tingles, his senses go from one to five almost instantly, his anxiety, (the one not bred from a spider, anyway,) suddenly gets worse, and his heartbeat thumps in his chest hard enough that he swears the other occupants of the boring, beige colored car can hear it just as well as he can, enhanced hearing or not.
Turns out, that is not the case. Since he knows very well that beating around the bush is not Tony's specialty, and the man makes absolutely no indication that anything is off now that they're far enough away from Midtown's building, Peter quickly concludes that the man can not, in fact, hear his hyperactive heartbeat.
Trying to take his mind off of his rapidly beating heart, his twitching fingers, and his slightly ringing ears, he throws his bag onto his lap and starts digging through it. "So, uh, Mr. Stark. Where are we going, exactly?"
"The Compound. Wait for May to call, and we'll go from there. Until then, you're sticking with me."
Peter nods once, sharply, before turning away to look out the window. He doesn't say much after that, which promptly spooks the other two so much that both of them try to drag words out of him. He does not have the energy or patience for this. He longs to be back with MJ, who he only left a few minutes ago. She would understand this better, would understand that he just needs to get his internal panicking over with before he can rejoin society.
You know, if society only includes himself, a concerned "Happy" man that is certainly not in a good mood, and a billionaire that uses his words just as often as he spends his money.
"So. You and I can just think of this as an extra lab day for now, how does that sound? Maybe you can even stay the night," Tony is saying, looking at Peter expectantly. He's probably waiting for the teenager to start babbling and shouting and tripping over his own tongue because he's trying to get his words out of his mouth almost as soon as he can think of them- but he can hear everything within miles of their current position, hears cars honking and horns buzzing and people shrieking and chatting and street vendors screeching about whatever product they're selling and he hears his phone vibrating and- it's just too much.
Despite all of that oh so fun stuff, it isn't until he can feel goosebumps start to prickle their way through his skin when he realizes that he can't stay silent about his ominous feeling of dread anymore.
"My Spidey sense," he says. The non-sequitur comes tumbling out. It sounds raspy to his own ears. The motion of opening his mouth to let the words out, for no real reason that he can perceive- but hasn't that been a running theme for the day- scratches at his throat. He can already hear everything as his senses do a kick flip from zero to five to seven in what feels like seconds (but was really at least ten minutes, if not more than that,) and he just knows that whatever it is that his senses have been bothering him about all day is coming his way- their way, because of course he can't be alone when danger comes his way, of course it can't just be him in harm's way- is going to hurtle at them at full speed, coming at them like a wrecking ball.
Even if it isn't actually there yet, he knows that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
He has to act fast... but he doesn't even know what the problem is. He can't tell if it's going to be something as insignificant as a minor injury or something as fatal as a building crashing down on top of him, debris falling all around him as pieces of metal come tumbling down, looking not unlike snowflakes finding its way down to the ground.
It's hard to protect yourself and others from something when you can't even pinpoint what that something is.
When he sees Happy and Tony peer at him from either their peripheral vision or the side mirrors that are hanging around outside, he chalks up the courage to warn them about what's to come.
He barely has seconds to alert them before disaster strikes.
The zero to five to seven increase of his hearing couldn't just be that, though, because his brain suddenly decides to fill in his sense of touch, too. His seatbelt feels course and rough in his clenched fist; his cell phone, which is sitting on his lap, annoys him, and the hand that he has placed on the cold window earlier makes him jerk back slowly from the shock of it all... it's all so much so spontaneously that he knows, due to all of the signs previously shown alongside his own intuition, that something is about to get about a hundred times worse.
The goosebumps on his arms strengthen and multiply in number. Then, as if emboldened by this, his senses all kick in simultaneously, and they all seem to decide that they want to smack him upside the head.
The hairs on his arm stand up at all once.
He's hardly even able to force out the two necessary little words before it all goes downhill... literally.
And then, it begins.
Everything he could possibly feel- all of his senses all at once, are dialed up to eleven. He hears some sort of muffled discussion from the front seat, he feels the vibrations as the radio's music turns up, he hears Tony force out something that sounds like, "Brace yourself!"
There's a loud and booming crash.
Peter's hands fly up to cover and protect his sore but not quite bleeding ears. Windows break and pieces of the car start flying, despite the fact that it's a vehicle that Tony trusts one of best friends in driving- which means that it should- keyword: should be damn near invincible in normal day-to-day situations. Maybe that's just the thing, though. This isn't normal, not for any of them. Sure, Peter has seen and been involved in some rather shitty things as both himself and his web slinging alter ego, but he still has yet to get involved in a car crash until today.
Great. Another new trauma. Whoop-de-do. Add another one to the collection.
He tries to catch Tony's eye and fails. He winces hard as a sharp shard of glass heads in the man's direction, crashing into his arm with enough force that it's going to be quite a bother to remove later on. He doesn't check to see if Happy's injured, but that's mainly because he doesn't get the chance to. The airbags up front go off with a loud, startling pop as they slam into the men's faces so abruptly and so roughly that there's absolutely no way that their noses aren't dangerously bruised, if not broken. Many spaces behind them, he vaguely registers that the sleek, black car from earlier is all safe and sound as it gently rolls up to a stop light. The others have no idea what's happening to their friends just a few miles away- or maybe they do. He doesn't know. He doesn't quite care. They'll see it all soon enough anyway, he's sure.
Before Peter can even attempt to process whatever's going on, or whatever's just finished going on, he's been shaken awake. Awake. Awake? When did he even fall asleep in the first place? Did he ever fall asleep at all? Maybe the pain of it all knocked him unconscious.
That would be a reasonable conclusion to make if he could even feel any pain. Why can't he feel anything? Just seconds ago every single movement felt like torture as he got flung and jerked around, slamming into doors and face planting onto the back of Tony's seat.
When half of his senses go haywire while the other half try to shut down completely, he becomes certain that this is what sent his warning bells ringing.
The first thing he hears when he slowly starts regaining consciousness again is his father figure's voice.
"Kid," he hears the man himself say. Tony shakes him again, quicker this time. More frantic. "Kid. Can you hear me? Blink once for yes." He doesn't wait to get any acknowledgement before he's snapping his fingers in front of Peter's face and slowly waving a hand in front of his eyes. It makes him look more like he's trying to hypnotize the teenager instead of trying to check for a concussion, but hey. Whatever works. "Open your eyes."
He does not. He sluggishly tosses a hand to wrap around his stomach instead. Oddly enough, it feels wet. Why does it feel wet? He didn't spill any drinks... oh. As he forces his eyes open, just a little, he can see that he got a cut on his stomach somewhere along the line. Probably within the last few minutes, if we're being realistic here.
"Peter," says Happy, in a far cry from his usual gruff tone of voice. His voice is highly pitched and he's shaking Peter, too. The fifteen-year old is really starting to get fed up with people flinging him up and down and all around as if he's nothing more than a rag doll. "I need you to open your eyes. I know you can do it. I saw you try a few seconds ago. Just... do that again."
He doesn't. He does manage to say something, but it's barely audible. He's not even sure what he said, and he's the one that said it. In hindsight, that's probably not the greatest thing in the world. Nothing right now is for him, though, so that sounds about right.
"Do we just pry his eyes open?"
"Tony," sighs Happy, sounding tired, "In what world is that a good idea?"
"I don't know!" He can imagine that Tony's throwing his arms up in pure exasperation. Maybe he does actually do that. It's definitely possible, judging by the hiss the man lets out as his arms presumably lower. "All ideas are good ideas right about now! Our car just fucking crashed and I have a fucking kid who won't fucking open his eyes and I can't figure out if he has a concussion or not and I'm not even fully convinced that he's still alive, what the-"
"We can feel his pulse and his heartbeat-"
"And I don't know what to do and I'm honestly just running on fumes here and yes I know that most of my show-stopping, one-of-a-kind ideas are almost always bred out of necessity,
sleep deprivation, and my stubborn ass refusing to die, but this is not the time for that and one of us has to figure out how to get the kid responsive and fast because I don't know what to do and I feel like it's a miracle that I'm even alert right now and you're hurt and he's hurt and I'm hurt but that's much less important and-"
That's it. Peter isn't going to stand here, (sure, he's not standing at all, but he'll worry about that later,) and let his mentor- the man who's saved his and hundreds or thousands or hundreds of thousands of other people's lives before- say that his own life his in comparison is just not that important.
"Tony," he manages to croak out. Determination can apparently make one do what was assumed to be impossible, even especially when he was the one doubting himself all along. Mr. Stark, I don't feel so good, he wants to yell. Mr. Stark, I really need your help, is what he wants to say, but the words won't come out.
They don't need to, apparently. When he's finally able to slowly, grudgingly, blink, he's rewarded to quite a sight.
He doesn't get the full picture immediately. The first thing he sees when he seems to come to full consciousness is Tony leaping forward so fast that he would put a freaking ballerina on steroids to shame.
All he does is wrap Peter up in a gentle, loving hug.
A hug? A hug. They're hugging now. This is a thing that's happening in his real life, right now. Okay then.
Distantly, he thinks that he should probably be freaking out a whole lot more over whatever his, Tony's, and Happy's possible injuries are, but at the moment it doesn't seem as pressing as it did mere seconds beforehand. He's just glad to be awake. He'll process some of it all later.
"Ned," he gasps out as he remembers that his best friend, only a few cars back, is probably blissfully unaware of the event at hand and is almost undoubtably on his way to the compound as planned. Oh, wait. That leads to another problem. "MJ. May." He fruitlessly tries to make himself get up and exit the damaged car. He gets as far as pushing himself up into a sitting position before someone's trying to restrain him.
But they aren't. He can't see them anywhere.
"They're almost here," Tony's voice amends. His words come across as near frantic while he looks off into the distance. Sure enough, they can both spot an unusually expressive Michelle Jones waving them over. She, along with Ned, are standing along beside the no longer sleek, black car that they possibly arrived in. The vehicle is littered with spots of red, brown, darker brown, and beige. Sand. Dirt. Mud. Blood. Blood? Tons upon tons of other cars and trucks and taxis and the like are surrounding the frowning friendship duo. People are single filing out onto the streets, cell phones and laptops and cameras aimed on the mess in front of them. Then, just like earlier, they're all zoomed in on the barely functioning adults; the celebrities especially.
Even if the batshit crazy reporters want to get this on film, the more reasonable people there don't wish to see Tony Stark have what looks to be a panic attack. Unfortunately enough, though, that looks pretty damn close to happening. The man is sprawled out alongside the rough, dirty looking sidewalk, with a hand pressing against his side. The other one is flying up to his chest. His eyes are wild as he scans the quickly multiplying crowd, as he looks over at the bruised looking Ned, (what happened?) MJ with the short, shallow cuts on her face, (thank goodness that seems to be all that's wrong with her, but also- what HAPPENED?) and the bloody, but still awake driver. Then his eyes flutter somewhat unseeingly at each of the kids a second time. All of them are sporting cuts and bumps and bruises and scratches and blood along their bodies. The one good thing that's coming out of all of this is that it's pretty easy to tell none of them require immediate medical attention. None of them are going to die if they just sit here, hold on tight to one another, and breathe in silence for a few minutes.
But of course, things can't just happen that way, now can they?
"Peter!" Ned is calling out, waving with his unblemished hand. He brings the other one up to his mouth, cups them together, and tries to yell out an explanation. His voice doesn't really carry as much as it should, due to the hundreds of talkative, confused people, but Peter's enhanced hearing picks it up anyway. Thank goodness for that, at least. "Our car crashed," he says as if that part wasn't at least a little bit obvious.
"Get over here!" snaps out MJ, who's sitting on the concrete and staring somewhere away from her friends, her eyes wide with worry. Nobody's sure what she's looking at, until Peter catches her tap at her head. When he tilts his head- hey, at least that doesn't hurt unbearably- at her, throughly confused, she sighs, grabs a piece of paper that she just has, apparently, and quickly scribbles out a picture of the Iron Man helmet.
Peter, at that, finally seems to snap back into full awareness. He kind of wishes that he didn't, though, or that he did a bit later, for more reasons than one. One: He's hurt, and he's starting to feel it now. The numbness is almost completely faded away, and it kind of sucks. A lot. Two: Everyone else is faring the same that he is, and that's decidedly worse. Three: He still doesn't know what's going on with Aunt May. And, for the time being, at least, there's the big ol' number four, last but probably not least: Tony Stark, clutching at his chest in visible pain as he grips onto the sidewalk beside him as if it's a lifeline, as if it's the only thing holding and grounding him here to this Earth.
Peter, taking notice of this, does the first thing that he can think of- he fumbles around for his phone, which is miraculously unharmed, pulls it out, and dials a contact aptly named Mr. Rhodey. He's only had Rhodey's contact information for a few weeks. (He only received it once he gave a sincere promise to try and only call during emergencies, but this whole entire mess probably classifies as one.) He's never actually had to get a hold of the military man before, so he's not even sure if he'll even answer the call.
The phone rings once. Twice. Three times. Four.
"I need your help." Despite the fact that all he wants to do is babble on and on and on like he tends to do when he's nervous, he still feels half out of it and he's still hurt and he's just barely made his way over to Tony, who's maybe three seconds away from losing his grip on reality and panicking entirely. Nobody wants to see their mentor panicking, and definitely not when there's a large possibility it'll end up on live TV, despite everyone and anyone's best interest.
To his credit, Rhodey doesn't just brush this phone call off, deem it unimportant, ask a million questions to get all the information that he can, or something equally unhelpful like that. "With what? Where are you?"
"We're at uh-" Peter pauses, at a loss. Where are they, exactly? New York, he knows that much. They never made it to the compound, though. They're pulled off somewhere, essentially stranded by the side of the road.
He knows that, too. "Just- I need you to talk to Mr. Stark now."
He hands the phone off, totally does not think about the fact that Tony just accepts it without even thinking about it when he's positive he remembers Pepper telling him something along the lines of, "It's a trust thing, I suspect. He won't take anything anyone hands him. He'll only do it if it's from me, Happy, or Rhodey."
That short list now includes Peter, apparently. Because he knows it's very much not the time for this, he tries his best not to feel touched. Then, he goes on a quick manhunt for his two best friends. It's apparently incredibly easy to lose two people in New York.
When they desperately want to be found, and want to find you, it's also not all that impossible to find them. Considering the fact that they're both now barreling into him at full speed, the search doesn't have to last all that long.
If the brown haired boy didn't have almost all- if not all- awareness back by now, MJ throwing her arms tightly over him in her attempt of a hug would surely shock his system enough to get the deed done. They're so wrapped up in each other, (and Ned, too, of course,) that they all barely notice Rhodey pulling up and accidentally (or maybe purposely, what do they know?) throwing everybody he can out of his way as he tries to glide through the crowd and get to Tony as soon as he physically can.
"You guys," says Ned, effectively bringing the other two's attention back on him again. He looks at one, then the other, then frowns. He then wraps one arm around MJ's waist, (she's now standing on Ned's right side,) as he slings one arm haphazardly around Peter's shoulders. With both of his best friends staring at him, silently waiting for him to speak, he continues on.
"What are we going to do?"
The answer to 'what are we going to do?' is, apparently, grab everyone together and slowly, but surely, finally make their way up to the compound. It takes them a long time, after being in the hospital that it's already the next morning when they all get out, and trudging their way through innocent bystanders and blood thirsty reporters alike, but they make it.
"I'm fine, Rhodey." Tony, who's in Rhodey's arms as they stumble and fumble their way into a slowly moving elevator, says. He'd probably be more convincing if he wasn't still shaking. "You can let go of me now."
Rhodey hums, looking as calm as could be. He's probably at least a little bit used to this. "I understand that logically." He points up toward his head before lowering his hand and wrapping it back to its original position around the younger man's shoulders. "But my heart says I don't give a fuck."
"You're sappy. Stop it, you're going to give me hives." Despite his words, Tony doesn't make any indication that he truly doesn't want the attention that's being freely given to him. Instead, he burrows in closer.
"Nah. If anything's going to kill you, it's sure as shit not going to be affection from me. I'm not so convinced that you'll ever get enough of it."
"What do you mean if? That's some really specific wording right there, Honeybear. If, you say. What, a man goes through one car crash and suddenly he lives forever? That's a really small price to pay for immortality."
"Honestly, when it comes to you... it probably wouldn't even surprise me at this point. If you lived forever, you'd probably destroy the whole damned world, or you'd just do something stupid like taking it over completely. You damn menace." His words are dry, but he's smiling. It's a sure fire sign that he's not actually annoyed.
"Who's a menace?" questions Peter, who somehow only caught the last part of their quick back and forth. Maybe he just wasn't paying attention. Judging by the way that he has yet to physically detach from either of the other teenagers that are with him, it very well could be that.
"You are. A true menace to society." Tony tells him, despite the fact that he hadn't been talking about him at all. Maybe he'd be a bit more able of convincing Peter of this if he wasn't leaning forward to ruffle the kid's hair. "Anyway... how about I get all of you ragamuffins home?"
He doesn't fail to notice how the teenagers shoot one another quick, barely decipherable looks. Apprehensive. That's what they are.
"Or not. What's wrong with taking you home? I don't feel like it's a smart idea to send you all home in a taxi right about now."
With another anxious gaze shared between the little trio, MJ speaks up for them all. She's like that one kid who does most of the work in a group project, or the kid that everyone unanimously decides should go up front and present it. "Uh... can we like. Not take one of your fancy cars home?" She looks understandably rattled. It's probably one of the only notable times that she doesn't sound totally level and in control. (Distantly, Tony realizes that she's clinging to Peter's hand. If it was any other situation, he'd probably be making fun of them to the point where MJ is only mere seconds away from slapping him. Today is not the day for that, though, so he holds off on it.)
Peter seems to quickly pick up on his best friend/girlfriend/crush isn't doing so hot right now. He squeezes her hand tightly and looks up at her. She's got quite a few inches on him still, and the baggy clothes that he's sporting only serves to make him look even smaller and shrunken than he actually is. "If you want, I can just swing you back to your house-"
"I do not want," she cuts him off firmly. His mouth shuts with an almost audible click. "Your Spider-Man escapades and all that freak me out on a good day," she elaborates, frowning. "And today sure as shit isn't a good day."
He nods. It's a fair point. If he wasn't him, he probably wouldn't be all that ready for it either. Some days, he still isn't. "Okay. That's okay. I'm guessing that means anything else Spider or Iron Man related is out of the picture, too?"
Tony squints at his protégée at that. He points a finger at him, and looks like he's going to start up on a rant, but in the end he silently vows against it. All he ends up saying is, "Don't even think about it, Underoos."
"Noted. So, if we aren't going to swing her or Ned home, then what about the subway?"
When nobody seems to have an adverse reaction to that, Peter nods to himself. Better a subway than a car. Nobody wants to be in a car right about now.
"Uh," Ned begins, mumbling. "Do we... do we have to leave right now?" He frowns. "And, this is off topic and all, but what do I tell my parents? They've been calling me for hours, apparently. My phone's stopped showing me how many notifications I have from them."
"Do you think they know about our car accidents?" questions MJ, her disinterested tone still a far cry from the caution on her face and in her voice right now. She grabs for Ned's hand, too. Extra comfort and security is sure not something that any of them are planning on avoiding right about now.
"There's no way that they don't know. My phone is blowing up."
"The Decathlon team keeps texting me," the brunette reports as she frowns down at her phone. Notifications. Social interaction. Yuck. Well... she momentarily glances up and over at the two that she's still clinging on to. Maybe not all social interaction is horrible.
"May finally answered her phone," chimes in Peter, who looks very much like someone who just got a huge weight lifted off his shoulders. "I guess I can go home now. Subway it is, then?"
The others nod. When Peter stands up, he briefly notices how every last one of them are gripping the life out of one another as they all peer out the nearby windows, and out at the cloudy gray sky, the (not Thor approved) rolling thunder, the occasional, distant lightning blast, and the (probably) cold, wet rain. The last thing that any of them truthfully want at the moment is to go out and rejoin the world... but they're going to do it anyway. Glancing at one another, they all silently communicate- we're going to go and take a little leap of faith now.
Boldened by the warmth and security that one another brings, they all take a breath and they shake out some of their nerves.
With no words needing to be said, they all head out into the unknown.