Through thick and thin
TW: Graphic depictions of violence; blood
Tony felt his heart leap in fear when he heard a certain spider-baby’s voice behind him. He whirled around in mid air, dropping a few feet in shock before he stabilized himself.
“Hi, Mr. Stark!” Peter chirped excitedly, skillfully swinging in a large arc and flipping onto his armor, the eyes of his mask almost comically wide. “What’s up?”
Tony struggled to see the boy who was perched on his back, twisting his neck back and forth. “What the hell are you doing here, Pete?”
“I just wanted to help,” he whined, his head hovering upside down in front of Tony’s face.
“No, you don’t,” he grumbled, trying to grab hold of his kid, who was crawling all over his back to avoid him. “You want to go back to school and learn about why the adults in your life are trying to keep you safe.”
Peter giggled. “I know, Tony, and I am safe. I have you!”
He said it so cheerfully, so matter-of-factly, as if Tony’s heart hadn’t melted and his brain hadn’t turned to mush at his precious kid’s words. He was grateful for the helmet shielding his face, otherwise Peter might have been soaked in his tears.
“Mr. Stark? You okay?”
He jerked out of his stupor. “Yeah.” He sniffed. “Yeah, buddy, I’m great.”
“Okay.” Peter sounded suspicious, but he let it drop. “Sure.”
“So, um… what’s going on?” He looked around, trying to find the other Avengers and their opponent(s).
Peter barely saw the blast in time.
He jumped up and aimed a web at the nearest skyscraper, pulling Tony with him, the man letting out a shout of surprise.
The spot where they had just been was now raining down ash and bright purple sparks.
Peter blinked the black spots out of his eyes, his ears ringing slightly. Gradually he realized that Tony was shouting; they were moving fast, Tony’s metal arms wrapped tight around him.
“Peter! Are you okay, Bug?” the man yelled frantically, masked face hovering in front of Peter’s.
“Arachnid,” he corrected. He heard Tony breathe a heavy sigh of relief. They landed on the roof of a towering skyscraper. Peter was sure that Mr. Stark was running over his vitals in the suit and checking for any injuries, no matter how minor they might be. Peter rolled his eyes.
“What was that?” he asked, looking around wildly. “Is Mister Doctor Strange here?”
“I am,” said a dry voice behind them. “But that wasn’t me.”
Tony jumped protectively in front of Peter as they spun around, then relaxed, just slightly, when he recognized the tall figure standing in front of the remnants of a glowing orange portal.
“Strange,” Tony greeted.
“Stark.” Stephen nodded.
Peter waved, grinning.
“What’s with the light show?” Tony asked, setting a hand on his kid’s shoulder.
“A wizard,” the doctor said shortly. “And a powerful one, too. Neoma Ambrosia. She’s fairly new to magic, but she’s dangerous.”
“I think Neoma means ‘new moon’ in Greek,” Peter mused quietly. Tony ruffled his hair proudly, nodding. My genius kid, he thought fondly.
“Tony! What’s going on?”
Natasha, Sam, Steve, and Bucky ran up. Peter couldn’t help but wonder how they had climbed up to the roof. He imagined Sam trying to lug two super soldiers and a heavily armed assassin up a one hundred seventy-five meter tall skyscraper; Peter was sure he could do it.
“There’s a crazy wizard trying to kill us!” the young spider said enthusiastically. “Her name’s Neoma Ambrosia, which I’m pretty sure means ‘new moon’ in Greek, which is like, a super cool name. And she shoots purple fire! We haven’t seen her in, like, fifteen minutes, though.”
Tony chuckled as the other four Avengers blinked. His kid was a whirlwind, and he loved to listen to him chatter.
“Everyone keep watch!” Steve yelled, making Peter flinch. Tony squeezed his neck gently and glared at the super soldier, who remained oblivious. “Eyes peeled like grapes!”
“Ew,” Peter muttered.
They spent the next ten minutes straining their eyes for any sight of Neoma.
Tony was about to turn to Steve and suggest they search the ground, when the edge of the roof exploded with a familiar purple fire, right where Peter was standing.
Tony screamed his child’s name, white, icy-hot terror running through his veins. Rubble tumbled off that building, falling with the small red and blue body.
“No,” he whispered, thrusters at full speed. “No. No. No no no no!”
He crashed to the concrete and sprinted to the rubble that covered his kid.
“Peter, Peter, Peter,” he muttered fervently, throwing the huge boulders with his iron hands as if they were pebbles. He was sure he could lift them just as easily without his suit with the fear and adrenaline coursing through his veins. All the while he yelled, over and over again, the name of the one reason he got out of bed in the morning, the one reason he was alive: his only child, his son, his baby.
At last, at last, he spotted delicate curls peeking out from a hole in a red mask. Tony sobbed and crumpled to his knees, clearing the last of the rocks off of the boy’s small body.
“Peter,” he gasped. He peeled off his mask as gently as he could, hands trembling. “Peter.”
Miraculously, he was somehow awake. Tony sobbed frantically and kissed his forehead. His face was bruised and bloody, with tears rolling slowly off his cheeks. Peter held out shaking arms and made grabby hands, whimpering like a wounded kitten.
Tony ever so gently maneuvered the boy into his lap, Peter slumping heavily against his chest. He cupped his cheeks and kissed both of them, stroking his forehead and smiling tremulously. “Petey. Oh Petey.”
He bit back another cry, trying to hold in for his kid, who was cradled in his arms, bleeding and broken. Peter coughed, and with tremendous effort, lifted his hand to Tony’s face.
The man grasped it instantly, squeezing his small hand tight and trying to rub some sense of warmth into his cold skin. He pressed light kisses to the back of his hand.
“Oh, baby, oh my god,” Tony whispered breathlessly, rocking his child back and forth in his arms. “You’re okay, you’re okay, sweetheart, shh.”
Tears flowed down both their faces. Tony rushed to comfort Peter, forcing what he hoped was a reassuring smile and wiping away the tears with the pad of his thumb. “We’re gonna fix you up, Petey, just hold on. Hold on for me, ‘kay? Doctor Strange and the rest are just making sure it’s safe, and Doctor Cho is coming right now- she’ll be here any second, okay? You just gotta hold on, Petey.”
He sniffed and snuggled Peter more tightly against his chest. “All you gotta do is focus on me. Just look at me, honey. I love you, baby, I love you so much. Stay with me, il mio bambino.”
Peter’s eyes drifted lazily up to meet his. He struggled to focus on Tony’s face, his vision blurry and his eyes glassy. “Mi-mis’ er St’rk,” he croaked. “‘Ony.” He coughed, struggling to form words with his bloody, scratched lips and his dry mouth.
“Shh, shh,” Tony soothed. “Shh, baby, I’m right here. You’re doing you great, Petey.” He tangled his fingers in Peter’s curls, smoothing his hair down comfortingly. “You’re doing so great, sweetheart, I’m so proud of you.” Tony hastily wiped away his tears, which had begun to fall down to Peter’s face. “Just hold on, please.”
He squeezed his hand tightly, looking away and blinking rapidly when he realized his façade of calmness was shattering.
Tony’s eyes snapped back to his kid in fear. “Petey-?” he asked worriedly, then followed his gaze.
The sounds of blasts and explosions and fighting that faded completely came back full force when he realized the wizard was just ten yards in front of them, standing tall on a hill rubble, her dark gray robes swirling around her.
Tony gasped. Time seemed to move in slow motion as he rushed to protect his kid. He wrapped his arms tightly around Peter’s head and curled around the small body, effectively shielding him from an inevitable spell or explosion.
He kicked off their pile of rubble and began to roll down, trying desperately to cushion Peter’s head as they gained momentum. Sharp stones slice at his skin but he favored protecting his kid far, far above his own safety.
There was an explosion, so bright that purple swam in front of Tony’s closed eyes. Shards of glass and rock rained down on them and Tony could do nothing but squeeze Peter tighter and press his lips to his forehead and hope this wouldn’t be the end.