Healing Takes Time
Chatacters: Tony Stark, Peter Parker
Mentioned: May Parker
Day Twenty-One: Infection
Sequel to Lost!
Tony woke up to the sound of whimpering and was confused at first, unsure of the noise. Then, as he became more alert, he remembered what had happened. Seven days ago, Peter has gone missing on his school trip. He had found him two days ago, and the boy had been taken into surgery immediately for compartment syndrome and severe osteomyelitis. While the former was fixed and his body was healing, the infection would take time to run its course and he was still at high risk for sepsis until the antibiotics they were giving him started to work.
Peter whimpered again in his sleep and Tony stood up, walking over to his bedside. May had left to return to New York the night before, her work not allowing her anymore days off, so he had promised to stay behind in Tennessee and watch over him until he was well enough to transfer. He knew that the boy would be better off at home with doctors who knew him, but they didn’t have much of a choice right now. With May’s permission, he had to make the decision to reveal his identity to the hospital so he would get proper treatment. He had made them sign off on it, of course, but they could never be sure that the law would be upheld.
“It’s okay, Kiddo,” he whispered, taking the boy’s hand and squeezing it. “You’re okay.”
He could feel the heat coming from Peter and knew he must be running a fever again. That was likely the cause of his discomfort, Tony guessed. The medicine he was on had helped keep it down for the most part, but it was early in the morning, and his last dose would be wearing off now.
Peter blinked up at him, his eyes only half-opened. “Hey, Buddy,” he said softly. “You’re running a fever again.”
“Ma’es sense,” Peter mumbled, struggling to try to push himself into a sitting position. He got halfway up before closing his eyes and flopping back down again with a huff that sounded like a mix of exhaustion and annoyance. “Don’ feel good, T’ny.”
“I know, Pete,” he said softly, squeezing his hand again. He looked up as he heard footsteps, relieved to see the nurse coming in. “He’s running a fever again.”
“This should help bring it down,” the nurse replied, walking over to the IV pole and changing the bag out and turning the drip up a bit. Once she was finished, she moved closer to Peter’s bed. “Peter?”
“Mhm?” Peter hummed, tilting his head to look up at her. “Yeah?”
“Do you want me to bring you a water and see if you can drink any?” she asked carefully. “You have plenty of fluids coming in right now, but it’s good to drink a little if you can.”
“Too ti’ed. Wanna sleep,” Peter mumbled.
“Okay,” she replied softly, glancing at Tony. “I’ll come check on him in an hour or so and see if his fever has gone down any. If he’s awake I’ll ask him again. If you need me, just press the call button.”
“I will, thank you.”
When Peter woke up again, his body was soaked with sweat. As gross as he felt, he knew that meant his fever had broke. He was a bit surprised that his head didn’t feel quite as fuzzy as before, but he noticed he could feel a slight pain in his leg. He guessed they had started to lower his pain medicine.
For a moment, Peter thought that he was alone. He was on his side, turned towards the side of his bed where May had been staying when she was there. He felt a hint of panic at the thought, trying to listen for a second heartbeat in the room but unable to get his senses to focus enough to do so. “Tony?” he called weakly, his voice shaking.
“I’m right here, Buddy.” Peter relaxed a bit at the voice. He heard footsteps and tilted his head as Tony came around to the other side of his bed. “Are you alright? Do I need to get the nurse?”
“Jus’ thought I was alone,” he admitted, giving him a weak smile. “I’m a’ight.”
Tony gave him a small smile and nodded, sitting down in the chair that was still pulled up to the side of his bed. “You look more awake,” he commented.
“Head’s not as fuzzy,” Peter told him. “‘S been fuzzy lately. You druggin’ me?” He gave a look that he hoped conveyed his joke, and he replaced it with a lopsided smile when Tony chuckled at him.
“Maybe I have,” he replied lightly. “Maybe you’re just going insane. Either sounds like a fair assumption in my opinion.”
“‘M not insane,” Peter mumbled, lowering his head to his pillow. “That’s you.”
“Hey now,” the man started, crossing his arms over his chest in mock offense. “I’m going to leave you here if you keep that up.”
“No you’re not,” Peter countered, closing his eyes for a moment. “May said… She said somethin’. I don’t remember what she said but you wouldn’ leave.”
“I’m just messing with you, Kiddo,” Tony assured him. Peter felt a hand in his hair and leaned into the touch. “May wanted me to tell you she only left because her boss is an *sshole, by the way. She told you herself before she left, but wasn’t sure if you would remember.”
“‘S okay,” Peter told him, looking up at him. “You can go too if you needa.”
“Wouldn’t even think about it, Pete. I’m going to stay as long as you’re here.”
Peter just smiled in reply. “I’mma sleep now.”
“Alright, Buddy,” Tony replied, taking his hand and squeezing it once. “I’ll be right here when you wake up.”
“You’re okay, you’re okay. I’ve got ya.”
Peter tilted his head back, taking shaky breaths. He was gripping onto Tony tightly, leaning most of his weight on him. “I think I’m gonna pass out,” he breathed.
“Alright. You want to sit in the chair?”
Peter nodded and let Tony lead him to the seat, carefully lowering him into it. He closed his eyes in an attempt to calm himself, breathing heavy. His leg was hurting terribly even after just standing for a minute, and he had felt sick the moment he tried to move.
“Your blood pressure tanked, Buddy,” Tony told him, sitting on the edge of the bed. “We’ll get you back in the bed once it levels out and try again tomorrow.”
Peter sighed and nodded, feeling tears in his eyes as he opened them again. He had been in the hospital for over a week now and he was ready to go home, but the doctors said that he couldn’t be transferred until he was able to make it to the bathroom and back with help. Then, even when he got back to New York, he would be stuck in the medbay at Avengers Tower until he was completely healed. This was not how he planned on spending his summer.
“Hey,” Tony started softly, standing up and coming to crouch next to Peter. He took his hand and held it in his own. “You’re doing great, Pete. You’ve come so far.”
“I’m just so tired,” Peter whispered, trying to keep his voice from breaking. “I’m tired and I miss May and I just want to go home.”
“I know, Kiddo,” Tony sighed. “I wish I could take you home, I really do, but we need to make sure you’re strong enough for the trip.”
“I know,” Peter breathed. “I know, I’m sorry.”
“It’s alright, Bud,” he replied. “You’re doing so good. You’ve been so brave through this, and I’m so proud of you for that, okay? Just stay strong for me a little longer.”
Peter nodded, unable to reply because of the knot in his throat. He felt a hand on either side of his face and then a kiss on the top of his head. “I’m not sure I told you this, but I’m so glad you’re okay,” Tony murmured.
“Yeah?” Peter asked.
“Yeah,” he replied. “It’s going to take time to heal, but what matters is that you’re here and you are healing. I know it sucks, and I’m so sorry that you’re hurting, but in the end it’s all going to be okay.”
Peter sighed and nodded, pushing himself to the edge of the chair and leaning forward. He was glad when he felt arms pulling him close, then heard the familiar beating sound in front of him. “Thanks, Tony.”
“Of course, Pete,” Tony replied, ruffling his hair a bit. “Anytime.”