|peter parker (thespiderling) wrote in avengers_logs,|
@ 2019-07-29 17:18:00
Peter didn’t slow down until he got to the penthouse.
It was all kinds of stupid to swing through the city without a mask on (especially given the last memory replaying over and over in his head - Spider-man’s name is Peter Parker), but it was another bout of Parker luck - he’d carelessly left his backpack behind on the subway and his nerves were too fried to even think coherently, let alone smartly. He tugged his hoodie over his head and stumbled over Manhattan’s rooftops, not bothering to stop and breathe. As quiet as the city was tonight, a dream within a dream cut too close to Beck’s bullshit, and he half-expected the man to step out of every shadow he crossed.
But Quentin Beck was dead. And so was Tony, but that wasn’t right, was it? The last time Peter had seen him was last week, and he wasn’t crawling out of his own grave. He was alive with Pepper and Morgan, and things were different here.
Peter tried to remind himself of that, but he was caught in a storm of sensory overload. He blinked and saw his hand holding out the broken necklace for MJ; he blinked again and Beck was selling him out as a villain to the world, his own face plastered across screens for everyone to see.
Peter rubbed at his eyes to scrub the image out, finding himself crouched on the edge of the Penthouse’s observation deck. He heard Friday asking him something as if from very far away - Would you like me to tell Mr. Stark you’re here, Peter? - and he couldn’t breathe enough to get a single word out. He didn’t know if a brain could actually and literally combust, but it felt like his was about to.
He heard the door click open, the sound of it like nails to his spinning senses. Tony was there, and Peter wanted so badly to trust it.
“Sorry.” Of course the first thing that came out was an apology. “Is this - this is real, right?”
Tony blinked a few times before tilting his head to one side (eyes still on Peter's face) and he gave himself a pinch on the side.
"Yep, as real as real can be when you're stuck in an alternate you-know-what and know about it," Tony replied, opening the door more and stepping aside a little. "You look like someone rattled your cage by beating on it with a baseball bat. Which reminds me of a Ramones song. No brats involved. Come in and spill."
Just then, Happy wandered by the foyer with a half-eaten perfectly grilled cheese sandwich in one hand. He stopped short, chewing while giving Peter a look like WHAT HAPPENED NOW?
"Hey, what happened," Happy asked out loud after a hard swallow, pointing at Tony who waved him off, and then at Peter. "What's wrong. Does your aunt know? If she doesn't, I can go tell her."
"Thanks but no thanks, Captain Obvious," was Tony's retort, since Happy never shut up about those few times he saw Peter's aunt. "You know what's wrong? Crumbs on my floor. Use a plate."
"They're dirty. Morgan lined them up and melted popsicles on them. Because kids."
"Ok, well the work around is because napkin."
"How're we out of napkins?" an exasperated Tony asked, throwing up both hands in the air. "We eat a metric ton of take out."
"I had to wipe up the popsicle stuff after the kid put the dishes in the sink. It was sticky and I needed wet ones and dry ones," protested Happy.
"Oh my god. Use a small plate. For desserts or whores-devours or half a sandwich things. Things that don't leave crumbs. You know I'm anti-crumb. Now I have to program the Roombas to follow you around. You know what New York has lots of? Rats and cockroaches. You're rolling out the red carpet. Gross."
Happy looked between them both and shook his head, grumbling about eccentric billionaires and roombas as he disappeared into the kitchen for a 'dessert plate' that was 'too small' and he 'wasn't even eating dessert.'
Tony took that moment to turn back to Peter and talk under his breath very quickly, "Happy always thinks we're talking sciencey Doctor Who stuff, but doesn't know about being a Happy in another universe like at all, so ixnay the universe alktay. Now, are you ok? Because you don't look ok."
Peter watched the conversation before him, eyes darting between the two with paranoia clenching at his every muscle. Happy wanted to talk to his aunt? Of course he wanted to talk to May - they were dating. In a way that was totally weird and not cool but made all the sense in the world at the same time. Or no, no, that was in the other universe. That wasn’t here, but the line between both was chaotically blurred.
Tony was in front of him. He was talking about Morgan, about Morgan making a mess, about trivial little kid things that were so undeniably normal. The scene around him didn’t melt away into a thousand weaponized drones and illusion tech; it cleared, instead, to a very typical evening at the Stark penthouse.
Beck was good, but not that good. This wasn’t the kind of mass hallucination he’d stage, anyway. He’d go for the more sadistic image of a rusted and rotted metal suit.
“It’s real. You’re real,” Peter realized in a rush, sinking down into a chair in the foyer. He rested his elbows on his knees and briefly buried his face in his hands, letting himself breathe for the first time since bolting off the subway. “I just saw Happy - or I thought I did? He was talking about dating my aunt, and she was all ‘no it was just a summer fling,’ and I was like okay, they've got communication issues, but it wasn't any of my business so I went to meet MJ and - the video - that video was just - I don’t know how he did it. My stupid yearbook photo was everywhere and everyone knew who I was and Beck said I killed people and that I killed him but I didn't. I seriously seriously didn't, I never wanted that, but he had the Edith glasses, and-”
To an outsider, Peter might’ve sounded like he was on drugs or had hit his head, neither of which would be too bad of an excuse if Happy managed to overhear any of this from the kitchen. “I fell asleep on the train home? I think? I think it was a dream - I think it was one of those dreams.”
"Don't make me pinch myself again," Tony blurted out before he closed the door. He also shook his head as though fending off a dual case of the heebies and desperately needing a brain reboot.
"Wait, we'll get back to that summer fling and EDITH in a mo," Tony said, focusing on a tidbit that was familiar to him. "Do you mean Beck, as in Quentin Beck? I remember him. He came up with an idea for neural holographic projections, but he was so super sketchy on the applications for it that I had to step in for a project revamp. The shareholders were whining about funding or whatever. So I found a new way to spin his long winded kiddie game into B.A.R.F. before...god, that acronym really did need a rework. No wonder it didn't go anywhere."
As he sat down next to Peter, Tony realized he wasn't sure where the hell Beck even was anymore, ever since that guy rage quit. He shook that thought off too and focused back on Peter, since priority one was a distraught teenager now sitting in a chair in the foyer.
"EDITH's done but not needed since hi, I'm the hero while I'm alive. So yeah, I'm real. You got unmasked, right? And framed, too. So let's focus and brainstorm this, before there's a potential repeat performance of whatever nightmare fuel other you is dealing with right now. Sound good?"
“He said he was from another universe, and he had this legit looking armor and cape and…” Peter groaned and shook his head, trying to sort through the mess that was infiltrating his brain. “I can’t believe I thought he was telling the truth.” To be fair, Beck had made a briefly convincing case, and his Elemental tech was impressive, but maybe even more unbelievable was - “And Fury. Mr. Fury believed him too. He thought he’d make a good Avenger, and so did I, but…”
No way he could see the Fury of this world taking Beck’s act at face value for a single second. How had the other one slipped up so badly? “Beck really, really hated you. And me, by the end of it.”
Peter took a second to breathe, and the throbbing in his head eased up by the slightest bit. He was all right - maybe not over there, where he only wished he could help, but he was here - and Tony and Happy were, too. He could even hear Morgan down the hall, and he was so, so relieved she wasn’t without a father.
“Okay okay, focusing, right. You’re right. We can do that.” It was going to be hard to get his thoughts in order, but laying it all out in a way he could understand and make sense of would help. He looked over at Tony, feeling the full force of what the other-him had lost.
“I’m so glad you’re okay. Cause a world without you - without Cap and Ms. Romanoff and Vision, it’s…” Peter swallowed hard, rubbing at the back of his neck. The consistent prickle was receding, and he slowly began to trust that there wasn’t immediate danger here. “It’s not easy.”
Tony pulled Peter into a hug, including a few solid backpats, to let the knowledge that he was there really sink in. Whatever it was that happened over there really put a dent in the kid's psyche, and really, with the amount of industrial espionage and corporate backstabbing going on, it wasn't surprising that a former employee held a grudge.
"He probably looked convincing as hell to get past Fury, or desperate times called for desperate measures," he told Peter. "Whatever it is, you're here. And if you've got people here to back you up, no matter what you decide to do. But it's gonna get harder to keep yourself under wraps, and it's not gonna get easy when you're Mister Popularity either. There's people that will hate you. There's a lot of people that hate me."
He made eye contact so that it was clear how serious he was being, and how concerned he was for Peter.
"I'm okay here. We all are," Tony told him. "I dunno how long that'll last. And I think you know what you need to do, if you're worried someone might out you on their terms. Not on yours. That's a decision you'll have to talk out with your aunt."
Another back pat and he let go, saying, "It's late. I'll see if Happy can give you a lift home. And I'll check in on where Beck is, in this universe. Know your enemy blah blah blah, right?"
When Tony hugged him, Peter was painfully aware that this was a moment dream-him couldn’t have - and it was a moment that dream-him needed. While the support of Happy and his aunt and MJ and Ned meant everything, he’d never be ready to say goodbye to Tony. In this universe he was going to fight to make sure he’d never have to.
“Gotcha,” Peter said, wiping his eyes a little by the time he pulled away. “I think...I think maybe I need to start small.” And the best place for that would be the network, where everyone was in it together. Though he was sure most knew thanks to his less than stellar secret keeping skills, admitting it there would be a necessary baby step in the long road ahead. He wasn’t alone here, not at all, and it was time to actually put his trust in that.
“Thanks, Mr. Stark.” Peter had maybe said that a thousand times in his life, and he meant it especially now. “I’d say I don’t know what I’d do without you, but I kinda do.” The memories had - for better or for worse - shown him that. “Let’s not do that again.” And with any luck, they wouldn’t.