I’ve been going through a rough time lately, and I was wondering if you would be willing to write me the saddest fic imaginable to cheer me up? weird request I know but sometimes reading sad fics cheers me up. If not that’s okay. Thx
Peter is warm.
His body feels weird, but not uncomfortable. Separate, apart—but not bad.
He drifts for a bit, just enjoying the feeling of lazing about, nearly falling back to sleep again when he hears it. A noise of distress.
No, not just distress—the sound of someone sobbing.
Well, Spider-Man can’t ignore that, he thinks.
“Y’okay?” he says, but even to his own ears it sounds muffled, garbled—not quite right. He tries to open his eyes but they feel oddly sticky, stuck shut. Too heavy. He must have been sleeping really deeply then.
Peter? a voice asks in the distance. Pete, kid, wake up.
The words take a moment to register, and the identity of who is speaking them even longer, but Peter instantly relaxes. Tony’s there, and if he’s here, he’ll take care of whoever is crying. Peter can keep resting.
“Five minutes, T’ny,” Peter mumbles, or thinks he does. “Jus’ five more minutes’n I’ll get up. Promise.”
There’s a huff of wet laughter nearby, some grumbled reply, but already Peter is drifting away again, settling back into the warmth.
The next time he wakes up it’s to the sound and feeling of something clicking in his head. He tries to go back to the warmth but finds it’s too noisy now, only to realize that the sound he hears are his own teeth chattering. Reflexively he clenches his jaw, the sound stopping momentarily as he breathes through his nose.
The warm place is gone now, replaced by a deep, shattering cold, one that wraps around his cheeks and nose. The frigid bitterness pulls at the tears gathering in the corners of his eyes, and along the thin tissue of his eyelids.
Far too late, Peter realizes through the haze of his mind that he’s not in his bed.
“Peter,” Tony says, sounding raspy. “You b-back with me?”
A finger strokes along his cheek, Peter barely feeling it for how numb they are. “Tony?”
Another caress, this time pushing his bangs back off his forehead. It’s meant to soothe, but Peter knows from experience that it also means Tony doesn’t want to reply—or is stalling for time—and instantly he feels worry rush through him. Something’s wrong, he knows now. Something’s very, very wrong.
“Can you look at m-me, Peter?”
Peter opens his eyes, but it’s all still dark.
“Tony, I can’t, I c-can’t see—“
“That’s ‘cause your peepers are still closed, kid. Try again.”
“Oh,” Peter says, and this time he puts all his attention toward the action—blinking them open only to be assaulted by a bright, blazing sun overheard. He groans, eyes shutting tight again, only to open them once more when he feels a shadow lean over him—Tony, blocking out the rays.
When he looks again, it’s to a blurry image of Tony grinning down at him—but it’s all crooked, more of a grimace.
He blinks a few times again, trying to clear his sight, and when he finally does he realizes the pained look wasn’t because he couldn’t see right. Tony is smiling but he looks terribly sad, eyes and nose red like he’s been crying. Peter is about to comment on it when he sees a slash of blood across the man’s cheek—the earlier concern coming back to the forefront of his mind.
“Tony,” he says, only to cough on cold air, little puffs floating out from his lips and disappearing into nothing. “You’re bleeding, your face, you’re—“
Tony’s brow furrows, bringing a hand up from Peter’s cheek to his face, then pulling it away and shaking his head. “Not my b-blood, kid. Yours. God a nice gash on your noggin’.”
“M-mine?” Peter says, fear tinging the edges of the word. “What happened?”
Tony bites his lip, sniffling, and Peter notices he can see the man’s breaths now too—glancing around only to realize that they’re in the middle of a forest of pine trees, and beneath that snow, in every direction. He tries to get up but that heavy feeling is back in his limbs, holding him down. He can’t so much as lift a finger.
“Tony,” he tries again, voice even shakier, teeth chattering. “What h-happened?”
“The plane, it—it blew up,” Tony grunts out. He scrubs a hand roughly over his face, streaking the blood there some more, a manic-sounding laugh escaping him. “Bomb, missile, I don’t know, but they blew us to smithereens, Pete. I thought I had us covered, but…”
Peter blinks again, trying to remember. They’d been taking a Stark Jet up to Alaska. Tony had to go for business—the unveiling of SI’s newest renewable energy testing facility—and had asked May if Peter could tag along, since it was going to be a short overnight trip. It had taken a bit of convincing but not much—the two of them long past the days of mistrust—and soon enough Peter was packing his bags.
The last thing Peter remembered of the plane was looking out his window in awe at the endless expanse of Canadian wilderness, only for Tony to toss him a plastic-wrapped sandwich that smacked him right in the nose. Peter had glared grumpily in embarrassment, and from the look on Tony’s face the man had been about to make a joke—no doubt at Peter’s expense—when out of nowhere he’d felt his danger sense start to scream at him.
There’d been no time though, not even a chance to speak a warning as suddenly there’d been a bright flash and an unimaginably loud noise—Peter’s senses nearly shattering as the impact of the blast hit him. Then he’d been hurtling through cold, open air, plummeting to the ground, surely screaming although he couldn’t hear it through the rushing in his ears only for his freefall to come to an abrupt stop when metal arms wrapped tight around him.
“I got you, Pete,” Tony had yelled through the mask, the two of them flying through the air, Peter looking back to see the wreckage of the plane falling in a smoky mess toward the forest floor below.
He remembers thinking then they were safe, laughing at the thought that whoever had done this had been an idiot not to think Tony wouldn’t have a suit with him.
But then. Then.
Then the repulsors had sputtered and gone out completely—Tony yelling for FRIDAY only for his pleas to go unanswered, the entire suit gone dark. They’d started to fall again, this time in an arc. Peter’s breaths came hard and fast as he buried his face into the cold metal of Iron Man’s shoulder, Tony clutching desperately at him even as he continued barking out orders for various systems checks and reboots that went unheeded.
The suit was dead, there was no denying it, and as they kept falling Tony had eventually gone silent, just held Peter all the closer as they were tossed about through the air, flipping head over feet over and over and over and over until there’d been a sudden stop, Peter hearing a sharp crack ring in his ears and then–
That’s where Peter’s memories ended. He must have blacked out on impact.
He remembers all this in just a few seconds, licking his lips—cracked now, he realizes—as he finishes Tony’s sentence for him. “B-but they rigged the Iron Man s-suit, too.”
Tony takes in a shaky breath, before nodding down at him. “Sure did, the b-bastards. When I find out who d-did this, they’re not gonna know what h-hit ‘em.” Tony looks away then, up and out into the trees, Peter glancing up as well and seeing the angle of the sun is a bit longer, the afternoon waning.
Tony’s still not looking at him when he adds wetly, “And we’re gonna be just fine, you h-hear me? Rhodey will come save our asses just like he did for me b-back in ’08. He’ll be here any minute, and soon enough this will all just be a bad memory. Mark my words, kid.”
Peter would believe him were it not for the tiny sob that comes out on kid, warping and twisting the word into something it was never meant to be, broken like it should never sound coming from Tony and directed toward him. For a moment Peter is viciously angry—just as furious as Tony is at whoever did this, whoever hurt the hero Peter has looked up to since he was nearly seven years old. Whoever they are, they sullied something they had no right to, and Peter is certain he will be right alongside Tony when the punch-back comes.
But then Peter feels the metal beneath his head moving just slightly as Tony adjusts his hips only for his breath to hitch, the man leaning his head sharply back against the bare tree he’s settled against, smacking it roughly as his breaths go short. And just like that, the anger is gone, replaced once more with a deep, undeniable worry.
“Tony?” Peter asks. He tries to get up again but his body still won’t listen, and he only manages to slightly twist his head the metal at Tony’s belly With the man’s head tipped back like it is Peter can’t see his expression, and somehow losing that scares him more than anything else. “T-Tony?”
“M’alright,” the man stutters out, but it’s clear he’s in a great deal of pain. “M’okay, Pete. J-just… had a bit of a rougher landing than usual, s’all.”
“Th-that’s bullshit,” Peter replies, slowly twisting his head—pain clanging throughout his brain at the movement—to look the other way, only to nearly gag as he takes in what Tony had been purposely omitting from his self-assessment.
Peter doesn’t know much more about anatomy than what he learned in his eight grade health class, but he’s pretty positive that legs aren’t supposed to bend the way Tony’s are, splayed out at wide angles—the de-powered suit’s joints having busted open at both knees, revealing a mess of blood and bone and tissue all leaking out into the newly fallen snow.
The sight is enough to make Peter lose what little denial he has left as he realizes just how bad their situation is. They’re in the middle of the Canadian wilderness, miles from where the plane went down, Tony in a dead ice-cold suit with shattered limbs, and Peter in just a sweatshirt and jeans and—and—
He doesn’t want to admit it, but he has to. Tony needs to know, and anyway—pretending it’s not real won’t change the truth, just like the rest of this.
“I can’t,” Peter starts, only to go silent as his teeth chatter again—whether from the cold or shock or his terror, he’s not sure—feeling like he’s breaking his mentor’s world apart with his own bare hands. But he has to say it. There’s no ignoring it anymore.
Closing his eyes, he steels himself. The next words come out as barely more than a whisper. “I can’t feel anything b-below my neck.”
The declaration hangs in the air, and he closes his eyes before turning his head back toward Tony, not wanting to see the look on his mentor’s face—the loss of his last bit of hope when he realizes Peter can’t save them, can’t carry Tony out of this freezing hell, can’t even try to find them a place to use as shelter from the elements.
He doesn’t expect the softest of touches to smooth across his brow then, and even though the fingers are metal, Peter swears he can feel the warmth of love and pride through them when Tony whispers, “I know, Pete. I saw when… when I c-crawled over here to you. I—I know it’s scary, kid. I’m just so d-damn glad you’re s-still alive. I thought… when I saw your neck I th-thought—“
Tony’s fingers stall, only to start up with more vigor, moving to run through the hair at the top of Peter’s head.
You thought you were alone, Peter thinks.
Another tear escapes, falling down his cheek and into the dome of his ear.
“I’m still here, Tony,” Peter says, as calm and reassuring as he can be in this moment. “I’m s-still here.”
“Damn straight you are,” Tony replies, but this time there’s no back-up reassurance, no promise that things will work out. Peter feels Tony shiver violently then, and he doesn’t have to ask why. He knows. He knows what’s going to happen if Rhodey doesn’t find them soon.
Peter closes his eyes, feeling the tug of sleep pulling at the edges of his mind, the enticing oblivion of it a warmth all its own.
Peter feels fingers tap at his cheek, but his eyelids feel just as heavy now as the rest of him, and he doesn’t respond even when Tony desperately begs, “Stay with m-me, kid. Don’t g-go yet. Peter? Peter.”
But Peter doesn’t stay. Instead he dreams, though not of cold or blood or explosions or pain. No, he dreams of something much older than the last few hours, held much deeper and cherished in his bones. It’s a memory from when he was about nine, maybe ten. Ben had taken him to Coney Island for an afternoon, just the two of them.
Peter remembers that day as being overcast but in his dream it’s perfectly sunny, and just like that day they go on all sorts of rides, only Peter doesn’t get sick on the Tilt-A-Whirl like he did in real life, and so they don’t go home where May feeds him crackers and they watch movies on the couch. No, instead he and Ben stay at the park, playing games as the afternoon starts to slowly turn over into night. Only when the sun has just set does Ben turn to him, saying, “Do you want to stay here, bud? We could stay forever, you know.”
Peter is just about to reply when it suddenly starts to rain, Peter glancing up at the sky but seeing no clouds above—just stars. But then the droplets increase, landing on his forehead and before he can answer Ben, he’s–
He’s blinking his eyes open to see Tony. Tony, who is staring down at him, his face a wreck and his eyes leaking tears.
“K-kid,” he breathes out like a prayer when he sees Peter is awake, and he doesn’t even bother to try to hide the evidence of his despair anymore, either too tired, too cold, too hopeless or all the above. Still he somehow manages to find the energy to give Peter a small smile, swiping his robot-like fingers against the teen’s forehead, Peter feeling a freezing tear that must have landed there smoothed away. “I thought…”
“Still here, Tony,” Peter says, but it’s a struggle to get the words out. He blinks again, looking about and seeing it’s much darker out now, the shadows of the trees stark and lengthy against the orange glow of the sun. It must be time for sunset, Peter realizes. “How l-long?”
“Not too long,” Tony says gruffly after a beat, and Peter knows it’s a lie because even if it was only a few minutes, it was still too long to leave his mentor by himself. Now he’s had some more rest he can concentrate enough to hear Tony’s heartbeat, how it is going far too fast while Peter’s own is starting to lag behind, stuttering as if it’s running short sprints before slowing down again.
With what little energy he has he turns his head again to check Tony’s legs, sees now the puddle of blood below them is larger than before, the brilliant red staining the snow, crimson glistening in the falling light of day.
He turns back to look at Tony. “H-how much longer? The t-truth.”
Tony closes his eyes, another tear escaping only to freeze halfway down his pale cheek. “I don’t know, kid,” he whispers, and he sounds so tired. “Hours, p-probably. For both of us.”
Peter opens his mouth to respond but all that comes out is a deep hitch, and Tony doesn’t hesitate to place his palm over Peter’s forehead, leaving it there—no longer having the strength to keep soothing Peter with movements, only touch.
“Could be worse,” Peter says, and he smiles up at Tony’s watery features. “You gotta a-admit, it’s a n-nice evening.”
Tony just stares at him incredulously for a moment before he barks out a laugh. “Yeah, kid. I guess it is. Be a lot nicer if it w-was about fifty degrees warmer and we were enjoying it on a b-beach somewhere, but yeah. For where we are, it’s p-pretty damn nice.”
Peter doesn’t reply, mind growing foggy as time turns slippery once more. He turns his head away, back toward the mess that are Tony’s lower legs. But this time he pays them no mind, instead looking beyond, toward the west where the sun must be just hitting the horizon. The colors of the sky and snow have gone from orange to purple, and Peter thinks Tony was wrong.
They don’t have hours left.
But at least they get to see the sun set.
“P-pretty damn nice,” Peter says seconds or minutes later, repeating Tony’s words.
“Pretty d-damn nice,” Tony echoes, voice barely a sigh on his lips.
Peter doesn’t feel scared anymore.
Neither of them speak after that, Tony staring down at Peter with a reverent, thoughtful look on his face, keeping his palm on Peter’s brow as Peter stares up at the sky. Just like in his dream it’s cloudless, the stars already coming out even before the sun has even fully set.
Peter’s never seen so many stars at once. It’s beautiful, stealing his breath in a way the frigid cold can’t even begin to touch. Peter stares and stares and stares and thinks about everything and nothing, letting memories flit in and out of his head like he’s glancing through one of May’s photo albums on the couch back at the apartment.
May. He hopes May gets to see this many stars at once some day. She’s never liked leaving the city very much, but he thinks she’d like this.
Ned would like it too, though he’d want a telescope to get a closer look.
He doesn’t think MJ would need a telescope though—she seems like a person who would be more interested in the constellations, in the myths of the universe rather than its mysteries.
He might be wrong about that, but if he is that’s okay. Peter just hopes they all get to see the stars like this—stretched out as far as the trees below, as far as memories go, as far as love reaches. Endless and encompassing.
Distantly he feels the palm of the hand on his forehead grow heavier, and he wonders who Tony would choose to share the stars with.
“Who, Mister Star’?” he whispers to the sky, and he doesn’t even notice that he’s no longer shivering. When Tony doesn’t answer he slowly shifts his gaze, only for a corner of his mouth to turn up when he sees his mentor is asleep, the chin of his suit resting on the chest plate, mouth parted slightly as if he could speak at any moment.
That’s good he’s getting some rest, Peter thinks.
He’s not sure why his eyes are so wet at the sight. Tony’s just sleeping, after all.
“Still here, Tony,” he says reassuringly, just in case the man can still hear him, wherever he’s gone. He goes back to admiring the night sky.
He doesn’t know if it’s seconds or minutes later when his own eyes droop closed. Peter can’t see the stars anymore, but that’s alright. He still knows they’re there, even if they’ve moved past his sight.
What do you think, bud? Ben asks again some time later, from somewhere close by.
“I’ll stay,” he replies. “I’ll stay forever.”
Peter drifts along the stars.