I wanted you to be better
Happy runs through the ruins on the beach, pieces of plane and fire and boxes thrown all around him. His heart is pounding in his ears and his breath catches at the sight. There’s shield agents buzzing around him, working without him having to give a single order. He can’t focus on them, eyes zeroing in on the red and blue mess lying motionless in the sand. Face down, matted hair moving with the silent wind, he looks nothing like the kid he’s secretly so fond of.
Oh my God.
Pepper runs into her and Tony’s bedroom at the compound, she’s not sure what happened, but the loud crash got her up from the couch faster than lightning.
Tony is standing in the middle of the room, his desk is flipped and all his little projects is carelessly lying all around him.
He’s gripping his hair and heaving for air, eyes flickering around in a frantic pace, and Pepper just knows. Something has happened. Something so bad that even Tony Stark doesn’t know what to do.
He doesn’t acknowledge her, and when she screams at him, there’s no indication he’s even heard her. She tries to grab his shoulder, ground him. Get him back to the reality, but he just shrugs her off, mumbling something about a plane crash and a kid and runs out of the room.
Before she’s even able to piece the words together she can see the iron man suit taking off outside the window.
May had been worried for a while, that her nephew was maybe getting into the wrong crowd or something, even though he’s always been this sweet, innocent little boy.
She didn’t understand all the sneaking around, skipping classes and secrets he suddenly felt the need to keep from her.
They had always been close, and after her husband died they had only gotten closer. They were all each other had. So she didn’t understand.
She doesn’t understand much more when Tony Stark shows up at her door for the second time in less than six months. But this time he looks like a wreck. His pristine suit is wrinkled, and the trademark sunglasses don’t do anything to hide his red brimmed, puffy eyes.
She doesn’t hear what he’s saying, everything around her reduced to white noise. She doesn’t really need to. That look she understands. It’s the same one the police officers wore when they came knocking on the door not even a year ago, with her nephew, shaking and bloody and traumatized behind them.
Ned can feel it. He’s not sure what it means, but somehow he just knows. Like something inside him just left, leaving a gaping hole he can’t place.
When May calls him, he swipes with shaking fingers, and he has to swallow the fear steadily growing in his throat, pressing wet tears behind his closed eyes as he takes a deep breath, and the world crashes around him when he hears her choked voice on the other end.
He doesn’t know what to do. The phone slips from his fingers and his feet starts moving. He’s not even sure where he’s going. But he needs to get out. Away from the noise coming from all the cheery teens and music around him.
The outside air is warm on his skin, and his cheeks are stinging from tears. He needs to get to Peter. He needs to see him. Hear his laugh, do their handshake. He needs… him.
He’s pale where he’s not covered in cuts and bruises. His eyes are closed, and Ned wants to yell at him. Open your eyes, damnit!
He needs to see those honey eyes open and smiling. Crinkling in the light. He needs it just as much as the air around him. He can't… He can’t lose him.
I wanted you to be better.
Why did he have to take the suit? He could have helped! He should have been there! He should have known the kid wouldn’t just back down. He should… this is all his fault.
If you’re nothing without this suit, then you shouldn’t have it.
He made the damn thing to keep him safe! Fuck!
Some mentor he is. Punishing the young hero for doing everything he could. Stomping on him, making him doubt himself. Making him think he had to prove himself.
You were so much better than me, kid.
“We lost one of our own last week. I’m sure you’ve heard about the plane crash already.” He takes a deep breath, blinking away tears threatening to spill as he looks over the crowd in front of him. “Spider-Man was the best of us. No doubt about it. He was a fiery ball of energy, never backing down and always ready to jump in front of danger to save anyone who might need it.
"He didn’t care, if the person in need was friend or foe. He lost his life saving his enemy. He was a true hero, a true protector of New York. He will be dearly missed.”
He’s clutching Pepper’s hand when they cross the green grass to where Peter’s family and friends are gathered for one last goodbye.
May doesn’t look at him. He doesn’t blame her. I’m so sorry.
Happy is standing alone, jaw clenched and hands fisted at his side. His eyes are trained on the coffin, slowly sinking down in the ground. They haven’t talked since that horrible phone call, and Tony knows Happy blames him for what happened. He does to. I’m so sorry.
Peter’s friend is crying, openly and loud. He’s shaking and it looks like he’s just a moment from joining his companion in the ground. Like the world isn’t worth living in without the energetic boy. I’m so sorry.
You were so much better than me, kid. I’m so sorry.
It’s also on ao3, here. Where I have a bunch of tragic Spidey stories for you to cry over.