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MCU: Come Morning (Fanfiction)

Come Morning

Series: Lights To Guide You Home
Word Count: ~5.400
Summary: When May suffers a stroke, Tony is called to the hospital to take Peter home for the night. He isn't prepared for this in the least and Peter has difficulties accepting help. One night of trying to find boundaries, middle-ground and sleep might just change that.
”I don't need help!” Peter said angrily. “Aunt May and I have been taking care of each other since Uncle Ben died and we managed just fine.”
Tony shook his head. ”This is different, Peter. This is huge. Your aunt will be sick for a very long time to come. She might never recover fully. You're a minor. You can't do this alone.”
Characters: Tony Stark, Peter Parker, OCs
Rating: PG-13
Spoilers: Captain America - Civil War
Setting: a little while after Captain America - Civil War
Warnings: discussion of a serious medical condition (stroke), possible character death, open end, language
Author's Note: This wouldn't leave me alone after I overdosed on Civil War.
Disclaimer: I’m not making money with this fanfic. The Marvel Cinematic Universe and the characters appearing within it belong to their producers and creators. Any similarities to living or dead persons are purely coincidental and not intended.

Complete Fanfiction Masterlist
Masterlist: Lights To Guide You Home

***
***


“Tony Stark,” he said, giving the nurse manning the reception desk in front of the Intensive Care Unit a tight smile. “I received a phone call regarding Peter Parker?”

Her dark eyes widened and she consulted a post-it note stuck to her screen. ”Dr. Manning called you,” she said and picked up the phone. “Just a moment, sir, I'll get her for you.”

“Just give me the room number,” Tony replied, looking at the sliding doors leading into the depths of the ward.

“Access to the ICU is restricted, Mr. Stark.” She tilted her head towards the end of the corridor a few steps away, where a couple of chairs and worn couches were crowded together near a vending machine and a payphone. “Please take a seat, sir.”

Tony sighed and picked the couch offering him the best view of the reception desk. It didn't feel overly comfortable and he wondered passingly how many people had been sitting right here in this spot over the course of the years, waiting for news.

He checked his phone for messages, the display informing him that he didn't have any, that it was just after eleven in the evening and that it was raining heavily outside. He dropped the phone on the seat beside him and sighed deeply, rubbing his eyes tiredly. He'd been on the road for two hours to get here from the Avengers Facility and he still wasn't entirely clear on what had happened. He just knew that it wasn't Peter in that hospital bed, it was his aunt. He also knew that he hadn't been called here because of her, but because Peter had asked to call him. Tony had found himself in his car and on the road shortly after.

He'd last seen Peter a few days ago at Avengers Tower to repair some damage that his web-shooters had taken, and everything had seemed fine. Peter had been his usual, slightly annoying, energetic self, talking without taking a breath while eating everything Tony placed within reach.

Tony had driven back to the Avengers Facility after he'd dropped Peter off, spending two days in his workshop and with Rhodey and Vision. He hadn't appeared as Iron Man since Siberia, which wasn't only down to the new feeling of claustrophobia and nausea that caught him unawares whenever he so much as thought about stepping into his suit. Secretary Ross had informed the remaining Avengers in no uncertain terms that they were to stand down until further decisions regarding their future would be made. However, with Rhodey out for the count, Vision's strangely maudlin mood and his own aversion to the Iron Man suit, Tony didn't think that they would be able to take on a mission anyway.

His life had become quiet ... and then the phone call had come.

“Mr. Stark?”

He looked up at the young doctor standing before him.

She wore her brown hair strictly tied back and had the serious but confident and distant air about her that many doctors exuded. Her blue eyes, though, were compassionate and friendly, as was the small smile she gave him. “Dr. Eva Manning,” she said, holding out a hand.

He stood to accept, noticing Peter standing behind her. He was huddled into his blue hoodie jacket, his hands buried deep in the pockets of his worn jeans. Tony narrowed his eyes, trying to make out any kind of injuries, but Peter seemed to be fine, if uncharacteristically withdrawn. It usually took him less than three seconds to start a conversation with Tony. He didn't even look at him now.

Manning followed Tony's eyes and her smile turned sad. ”Thank you for coming so quickly. As I understood, you weren't exactly in the neighborhood.”

”That's alright,” Tony replied.

Peter looked at him then. The harsh lights in the hospital's corridor probably didn't help, but he seemed pale, his expression pinched and his dark eyes tired. Tony gave a him a greeting nod … and received nothing in return.

”I would like to speak to you for a moment,” Manning said gently and then turned to Peter. “Why don't you take a seat for a few minutes, Peter? We'll be right back.”

A flash of something crossed Peter's face. Something like anger or indignation. Tony had already noticed that Peter didn't like being treated his age. Sure, he looked for approval and guidance a lot, but he wanted to be treated like an adult. It wasn't just because he was Spider-Man, Tony assumed, it probably also had a lot to do with his intelligence. Peter was bright, thriving under pressure and faced with a challenge. He reminded Tony of himself at that age, with one big difference: Where Tony had loved to provoke, Peter was almost painfully polite, which was probably why he now just nodded and went to the waiting area without protesting.

Manning led Tony further away and finally stopped almost at the opposite end of the corridor. ”Mr. Stark, I'd like to thank you for coming so quickly. I know you're a busy man, but yours is the only number Peter would give us and I wanted to avoid calling the authorities.” She glanced at Peter. ”I think he would benefit more from being around someone he knows.”

”What's the situation?”

Manning hugged her clipboard to her chest. ”Mrs. Parker suffered a severe stroke last night.”

Tony felt his chest tighten in response to the words and put his hands on his hips, letting out a breath. “Isn't she too young for something like this?”

“I'm afraid that strokes don't care about age, Mr. Stark. From what I've been able to piece together, Peter found her in the kitchen at around three in the morning. He called an ambulance, but the stroke was already over at that time and she'd slipped into a coma.”

Manning paused until he nodded his understanding. If he looked anything like he felt, it was no wonder she was making sure he was listening.

”Peter hasn't left the hospital since. It's been almost twenty hours now and I have to insist that he goes home. At least for a little while. I can't send him alone, though, due to his age. He's also not entirely happy about having to leave.”

Tony sighed and rubbed his forehead. ”He wouldn't be. His aunt is all he has left.”

”I understand that, Mr. Stark, but his aunt isn't the only one who needs care.” She cleared her throat and stepped closer. ”You have to understand that Peter is a minor. There are rules. Rules that I'm trying to bend a bit, okay? I have to send him home with someone. I'd prefer it to be a friend of the family that Peter chose instead of some government official.”

Tony ducked his head. ”Right. You want me to take him home.”

”Take him home, feed him ...”

”Tuck him into bed?”

Manning smiled. ”He's fifteen, Mr. Stark, not five.”

”Sorry,” he said, huffing a disbelieving laugh. ”Sorry, I'm just … I'm not really … prepared.” It wasn't so much the thought of taking Peter home and staying there that scared Tony just a little bit. It was the fear of not knowing what to say or how to act. He was scared of making it worse instead of better. The bitter truth was that he'd inherited more from Howard than he had from his mother where dealing with emotional situations was involved. He didn't think of himself as the ideal company for Peter right now.

Manning touched his arm. ”He asked me to call you, Mr. Stark. Apparently, you did something right.”

Tony looked over at Peter again, who was very pointedly not paying attention to them, fiddling with the sleeves of his hoodie instead. Tony nodded at Manning and she squeezed his arm before letting go. Tony cleared his throat and lowered his voice. ”May ... is she going to be alright?”

”We had to put her on a ventilator. It's too soon to say anything for sure.” She sighed. ”Mr. Stark, do you happen to know whether Mrs. Parker arranged for a guardian for Peter?”

Tony scoffed. ”She isn't dead, Dr. Manning.”

”She had a stroke,” Manning replied calmly. ”She might survive, but it's extremely unlikely she is going to come out of this unscathed and if she doesn't, a long road is ahead of her. She might not be able to make any decisions regarding Peter for a long time to come.”

“Does he know?”

”Actually, he asked a lot of questions,” Manning answered. ”He knows all I could tell him at this point in time.”

”Of course,” Tony muttered.

”You should get him home. Give him the night. Some sleep will do him good.”

”Everything will be better come morning?” Tony asked with a sad smile. ”My mother used to say that.”

Manning just smiled back and he pretended not to notice the lack of an answer.

”You'll call,” he said instead. ”In case something changes.”

”Of course. He gave me his cell number.”

”And in case …” He swallowed, lowering his voice as much as he could. ”Okay, in case of bad news … any kind of bad news, you'll call me, alright? Would you do that?”

Manning nodded earnestly. ”Okay.”

”Okay,” Tony said, straightening. ”Thanks, Dr. Manning.”

”You're welcome, Mr. Stark.” She smiled at him and then strode back towards the ICU, giving Peter a small wave goodbye as she went.

Tony took a couple of deep breaths while he walked over to Peter, steeling himself. ”Hey,” he said, coming to stand in front of him.

Peter looked up, still fiddling with his sleeves. “Hey.”

“How are you holding up?”

Peter hunched his shoulders. “I'm fine.” He cleared his throat. “Sorry. They weren't supposed to reach you.”

“You gave them my number.”

“I thought it'd buy me time.” He ducked his head. “I figured you wouldn't pick up.”

Tony didn't know why that hurt, but he kept the flinch off his face and pulled one of the chairs closer, perching on the edge of it to lean towards Peter. “A hospital calls, I pick up. I happen to know a masked someone who seeks out trouble every night.” It didn't make Peter smile, however shortly, like Tony had hoped. Instead, Peter turned his head away, grief etched into his face. Tony heaved a sigh. “Let's get you out of here for a little while.” He tugged Peter to his feet gently and pulled him closer, looping one arm around his shoulders as he steered him towards the elevators.

Peter didn't look at him while they waited, keeping his eyes fixed on the doors and their blurry shadows mirrored in the metal. He seemed to dread leaving, looking as if it physically pained him to do so and Tony felt the need to say something, as hollow as it would sound. He settled his hand on the nape of Peter's neck and squeezed reassuringly. ”You'll see, it's going to be fine.”

The doors dinged open and Tony wanted to move forward, but Peter stood rooted to the spot. Holding out a hand to stop the elevator doors from closing, Tony shot Peter a questioning look.

”I really don't want to leave, Mr. Stark.”

”Peter-”

”Please.” He exhaled shakily, closing his eyes. ”I don't feel so good.”

”You're exhausted,” Tony replied, ”and hungry.” He leaned closer, softly adding, ”Your metabolism works twice as fast as any ordinary human's, kid, and you haven't eaten in how long?”

Peter didn't answer.

”That's right,” Tony said, using his hand on Peter's back to gently push him into the cabin. This time, Peter let him. Tony gave a silent sigh of relief. ”It's gonna be fine,” he repeated, but it sounded patronizing even to his own ears.

***

Peter dozed off in the car before they'd even left the hospital's parking garage and Tony used the chance to place a short phone call to Rhodey to inform him that he would stay at Avengers Tower overnight to work on a project. He felt a bit guilty for the lie, but Rhodey and Vision had no idea that Peter was even a part of Tony's life. He'd intended to introduce them more than once, but it hadn't happened. Peter was worried Tony's friends would make the connection to Spider-Man and with Ross breathing down Tony's neck in regards to having Spider-Man sign the Sokovia Accords, which – thanks to the newest updates – would force him to reveal his identity, Tony had agreed to wait for a bit.

They arrived at the apartment just before midnight. When Peter tried to unlock the door, his hand shook so much he could barely get the key into the lock.

"Okay," Tony said, taking the key from him. "Food just made the top item on my priority list."

The lights in the apartment were still switched on and the tv was showing the news. It seemed as if May and Peter had only stepped out for five minutes. Everything looked so … normal.

Unaffected.

Peter had stopped near the kitchen, his hands buried in the pockets of his jeans again. “I'll be fine, Mr. Stark.”

Tony raised his eyebrows and shrugged out of his jacket. “That sounded suspiciously like a dismissal.”

”I can make myself something to eat.”

”I'm sure you can,” Tony answered, passing him by to open the fridge. ”I'm not sure you would, though. I think you'd be on the road to the hospital before I could even back out of the driveway. I don't want to get a phone call from Dr. Manning in an hour to inform me that you have sneaked back into your aunt's room. Besides, I didn't drive two hours to get here just to be sent back home.”

”Nobody forced you to come!” The harsh tone was unusual and Peter looked just about as startled to have used it as Tony felt to be on the receiving end. Just for a moment, though, then Peter's dark eyes hardened and he tilted his chin up defiantly. “You could have said no. I certainly don't need you take me home and feed me and tuck me into bed if it makes you that uncomfortable. It's not as if you're prepared for this!”

“Okay, that's enough!” Tony interrupted the rant, slamming the fridge shut. “First of all, watch your tone, and secondly, you had no right eavesdropping on that conversation.”

“It was about me!”

“It's my turn!” Tony snapped. ”You were the one who gave my number to Dr. Manning, so you'll have to deal with me. Yes, if you must know, it was inconvenient tonight, but I came! I'm trying to help!”

”I don't need help! Aunt May and I have been taking care of each other since Uncle Ben died and we managed just fine.”

”This is different, Peter. This is huge. Your aunt will be sick for a very long time to come. She might never recover fully.”

Peter shook his his head, trying to push past Tony to his room.

Tony grabbed his arm, determined to get his point across, and didn't let go even as Peter tried to shrug him off. ”Listen to me!”

Peter didn't look at him, but he stopped struggling.

”You're a minor,” Tony said. ”You need to accept one thing: You can't do this alone.”

Peter pressed his lips together. “Let me go.” Tony released his grip and Peter went into his room, closing the door.

“Great,” Tony muttered. “Good job.” He sighed deeply. “You're starting to sound just like Howard.” He yanked the fridge open ... then paused. Taking a deep breath, he felt guilt fighting its way through the annoyance to the forefront of his mind, then insecurity.

He felt guilty about their fight already. Peter wasn't in a good place right now and Tony shouldn't have provoked him. He didn't even quite know where his own anger had been coming from, it was just … he was worried about May as well and Peter had pushed buttons. In hindsight, he probably had done it on purpose, however subconsciously, to vent some frustration. Tony knew how good it could feel to strike out in anger instead of seeming weak or in need of help.

He groaned and closed the fridge, leaning against it tiredly.

'Everything will be better come morning.' His mother used to say that after especially vicious fights with his father. He remembered her consoling voice, her lips pressed against his cheek or temple, her perfume calming his frayed nerves and hurt feelings. 'Just wait and you'll see. Nights heal the wounds.'

He'd never been quite willing to believe it. Not just because his father's words had cut too deep too often, but also because Steve's actions had proven her wrong again. Many nights had gone by since that had happened. It barely hurt any less. Just the fury was gone, replaced by suffocating grief for something that, just a few years ago, he'd thought he would never miss.

Now, though, May's life depended on it being true. Peter's life depended on it. So did the tentative friendship that had developed between him and Tony, the unexpected joy Tony had found in teaching and sharing experiences.

Tony couldn't fix May and he wasn't able to be as important to Peter as she was, but he could fix the damage that had been done a few minutes ago.

He wouldn't let something like Siberia happen again.

And for that, he was willing to believe.

***

Pizza was the most obvious choice and the delivery at this time of night was fast. Tony busied himself with setting the boxes down on the coffee table, considering cutlery, dismissing the thought, looking for water glasses and then lowering the volume of the tv before he realized that he was quite possibly stalling and that there was nothing more to do but get Peter.

He hovered in front of the door for a moment, thinking. He would have called through the wood (he would have preferred that, actually), but Peter could have fallen asleep and Tony didn't want to wake him. Also, calling through the door seemed a bit like … not enough.

He rapped on the door softly and waited for an answer. It was quiet for a long moment and Tony would have almost turned away when Peter answered, “Yes?”

Tony found Peter sitting at his desk, taking apart a DVD player. He'd changed into pajama trousers and a t-shirt too big on his small frame, his dark hair tousled. He looked younger than Tony had ever seen him. Giving Tony only a short glance, he pried the casing of the DVD player open with a screwdriver. He was obviously not going to start the conversation.

So Tony asked hesitantly, ”Looking for spare parts?”

Peter shrugged. ”Calms me,” he answered softly, angling the desk lamp closer.

Tony nodded. ”It does, doesn't it?” He shoved his hands in his pockets and cleared his throat. ”I've got pizza. Hungry?”

Peter paused as if considering, then he looked at Tony out of the corner of his eye. ”Yeah.” Then, as if the small amount of energy that still somehow had been keeping him on his feet was draining out of him all of a sudden, he dropped the screwdriver and rubbed his eyes. “I have a headache.”

”I've got painkillers,” Tony offered.

Peter nodded slowly and got up. He would have walked past Tony and it would have been okay. Tony knew that. They were speaking and the fight – even if it wasn't forgotten – had been shoved to background for the moment.

They would have been alright.

But Tony found himself unable not to do it. He grabbed Peter's shoulder as he passed and turned him, pulling him into an awkward hug. Hesitating much shorter than Tony thought he would, Peter looped his arms up around Tony's back to press closer almost immediately, burying his face in Tony's shoulder.

”Okay,” Tony said, suddenly not sure anymore what to do.

It occurred to him that Peter might have been afraid to ask. He might not have asked for a hug because he'd feared it would make him weak in Tony's eyes. He wondered how often May hugged Peter, whether he felt weak when she comforted him. He doubted it. Whenever Tony had seen them together, the relationship between May and Peter had been open and easy. May was uncomplicated and relaxed in a way Tony's parents had never been and … he hoped with all his heart she would be alright.

His hand found the back of Peter's head, tangling in the short strands of hair. ”It's okay,” he said.

Peter released a shuddering breath, his weight sagging forwards into Tony some more.

”You're okay.”

***

It was quarter to two by the time Peter's pizza was gone. He sat there while Tony finished his, one arm on the back of the couch, biting his thumb nail while his eyes were looking towards the kitchen, though his gaze had become unfocused a while ago … deep in thought.

The atmosphere had changed since they'd sat down for dinner, had become quiet, earnest and unusually honest. They were both exhausted, but Peter was starting to show it more prominently, his fingers clumsy and his gaze becoming blurry-eyed. Tony figured it wouldn't take long now before he would have to give in and fall asleep.

The way he stared at the kitchen, though, wasn't just exhaustion. Tony had seen the look on Peter's face plenty of times in the mirror. Guilt was one of the easiest emotions to identify for him.

”You were out on patrol, weren't you?” he asked, setting his plate aside. “While it happened, I mean.”

Peter closed his eyes, pulling his legs up onto the seat and backing into the corner of the couch with his knees drawn up to his chest.

Tony shook his head. “Don't blame yourself.”

”I'll stop.”

Tony raised his eyebrows in surprise. “Okay, I thought ...”

”Patrolling,” Peter added then and heaved a breath. ”Being Spider-Man.”

”Come on, now ...” Tony shook his head. ”That's not the consequence.”

”I wasn't here.”

”If you had been, you would have been asleep. So what would you have done then? Stop sleeping?”

Peter looked pained, his face showing lines it was way too young for. ”I wasn't here and I thought this through.” His dark eyes found Tony's. “I did.”

Tony sighed deeply. He felt tired, downright exhausted. He needed sleep, which meant that Peter – who had been through so much in the last twenty-four hours – needed it even more. ”You thought this through while sitting at your aunt's bed in hospital?”

”Yes.”

”That's no foundation for a cool-headed decision, Peter. It's emotional. Take a break from Spider-Man, if you think you need it. Think it through properly. Then decide.”

Peter shook his head. ”Becoming Spider-Man wasn't a cool-headed decision. I didn't think about it before doing it. Why should I not just stop because I feel it's the right thing to do?”

”'Cause it isn't and you'll regret the decision,” Tony replied. ”Spider-Man is a part of you. He's the result of decisions you've made. Right and wrong ones. Don't disregard him as if he doesn't mean a thing. He means a lot to many people.”

Peter ducked his head, raising one hand to rub its heel over his forehead.

Tony frowned. ”Do you still have a headache?”

”It's getting worse.”

”You need sleep.”

Peter squeezed his eyes shut, taking a deep breath. It looked like he was about to protest … but then he nodded and unfolded himself from the couch.

It slipped out before Tony could stop himself. ”Everything will be better come morning.”

Peter paused. ”Aunt May used to say that,” he whispered. ”I cried for three weeks every night after … my parents ...” He shook his head, dismissing the rest of the sentence. ”And she would come to my room and say exactly that. Again and again.”

Tony couldn't help his curiosity. ”Was it true for you?”

Peter gave an embarrassed smile. ”The days weren't so bad, actually. I had school and my friends … only the nights were really hard.” He shrugged. ”So I guess it was true.” His eyes found Tony's. ”Do you believe it?”

”Not really,” Tony answered and shrugged. ”It didn't work for me, I guess.”

Peter crossed his arms, staring at the muted tv for a moment. ”Wake me at six?” he asked softly.

”Yeah,” Tony replied. ”Six sounds good.”

***

Tony didn't know when he'd finally managed to fall asleep, but he woke to the sound of a door falling shut.

He sat up on the couch, blinking into the dimmed light of the lamp in the corner, tangled in the blanket he'd found in one of cupboards, gasping for air. He faintly remembered a nightmare of some kind: Steve, Barnes, Wanda ... he wasn't sure anymore. The pictures faded too quickly for him to remember what had happened but the feeling of betrayal, grief and fear remained. He swallowed and brushed a hand through his hair, taking a calming breath.

”Peter?” he asked.

He didn't get an answer.

”Kid?”

Still nothing.

He stumbled to his feet and groaned when his back complained. ”God, that thing is 500 years old,” he muttered, stretching.

His watch showed five in the morning. The last time he'd checked, it had been just before three.

”Peter?!” he asked again, louder. The sound of retching led him towards the bathroom. He heard the toilet being flushed and waited outside the door, but Peter didn't appear. Worried, Tony knocked. ”Kid, are you alright?” He tried the doorknob. To his relief, it turned easily. ”I'm coming in.”

Peter was huddled into the small space between the toilet and the shower, looking pale and unwell as he shivered and kept his eyes closed against the harsh lights in the tiny room.

”Shit,” Tony said and crouched in front of him, pressing a hand against his clammy temple. He felt cool to the touch. ”Peter, what's wrong?”

Peter shook his head, pulling his knees closer to his chest.

”Come on,” Tony said.

”I don't know.” Peter swallowed, his hands balling into fists. ”Woke up and my head was hurting. Like … a lot. I got ...” He looked at the toilet. “I don't know. Never happened before.”

”Migraine?” Tony asked.

Peter shrugged. Tony stared at him, unsure what to do … feeling helpless. Peter leaned his head back against the tiles and closed his eyes. “It's getting better.”

”We should probably get you checked out when we're at the hospital.”

”Can't.” Peter winced and shifted, sitting up straighter. “Blood tests. I don't know for sure but ... it could show. That's why I've avoided doctors since it happened.”

Tony shook his head. ”I know people.”

”No.” Peter shook his head, staring at him pleadingly. ”Mr. Stark, I can't. I can't risk it.”

Tony sighed. “Kid, you're stopping muggers, bullies, your average next-door criminal. They wouldn't find out.”

“I'm not worried about them.” It wasn't the first time that Peter hinted at being scared of someone big and bad in the shadows finding out about him. But no matter how deep Tony dug into Peter's activities as Spider-Man, nobody of that kind turned up on his radar. Looking at Peter's earnest expression now, though, he wondered whether he had missed something. “Kid, are you in trouble?”

Peter shook his head. “I'm just careful, Mr. Stark. It's good to be careful, isn't it?” He rubbed the back of his neck. ”It's getting better.”

Tony frowned. ”For now. It could be a symptom. A warning sign. I don't like it one bit.”

”I'm fine, Mr. Stark.” He flinched.

”What?” Tony asked, worried.

Peter rubbed the back of his neck. ”It's itching.”

Tony sighed deeply and straightened, offering Peter a hand to pull him up. ”Are you sure you're okay?”

”Yeah, it's fine.”

Tony clapped Peter's shoulder, deciding to let it go … for now. ”Breakfast?”

Peter nodded, his eyes catching Tony's. ”Then you'll take me to the hospital?”

”I said I would.”

Peter nodded. He scuffed his bare feet against the tiles. ”I need a shower.”

”Okay. I'll do ...” Tony sighed. ”... something with eggs and toast.”

Peter gave a smile, tentative and faded, but there it was. Tony finally felt like he'd been doing something right since he'd arrived at the hospital.

While Peter went to his room for fresh clothes, Tony switched on the coffee machine. He leaned against the kitchen counter, checking his phone for messages and sending Pepper a text saying that he wouldn't be able to make the eight o'clock telephone conference with their branch in Philadelphia. ”I still would like to have you checked out by a doctor, you know?” he called through the apartment.

”I still don't want to,” came Peter's muffled answer.

”If I would get someone in I trust, would you consider it?”

Peter stopped on his way back to the bathroom, jeans and a sweatshirt hugged to his chest. ”Maybe.” Then he vanished around the corner.

Tony sighed. ”Maybe,” he echoed. ”That's a 'no' if I ever heard one.”

While butter melted in a pan and the clock on Tony's cellphone changed to 6:07, the first rays of sunlight peaked through the windows.

And Tony had a plan.

First of all, he would make sure that the hospital billed any costs to him, then he would do some research to get in the best possible help for May, while he'd get Pepper to make sure that Peter could stay with him, at least for now. At least until they knew whether a more permanent solution was needed while May recovered. He'd have to talk to Peter about this, maybe after picking him up in the afternoon.

The list went on, still steadily growing. It was terrifying. At the same time, though, Tony thought that, all things considered, they were alright. The night had been rocky and the foreseeable future would very likely be just as difficult, but Tony dared to feel vaguely positive.

His mother had been right after all. Everything was better come morning.

While splitting the eggs between two plates, his phone started to ring. He leaned over slightly to see the software kicking in and identifying the caller just seconds later.

Queens Memorial Hospital, Intensive Care Unit

Tony froze, his heart skipping a beat. ”You shouldn't be calling me,” he muttered. Only in case of bad news. He'd told Manning … only in case of bad news.

The phone kept ringing.

Tony set the pan down with a loud clatter and grabbed the phone off the kitchen counter. ”No, no, no,” he said softly, his finger hovering over the green button to pick up. ”Please.” He took a deep breath. ”Please.” He pressed the button, holding the phone to his ear. ”Stark?”

”Mr. Stark, this is Dr. Manning from Queens Memorial.” She sounded exhausted.

Or maybe he was projecting. Maybe he was reading too much into this … it had to be wrong. He was mistaken, tired and paranoid. His chest felt tight. 'Please,' Tony mouthed, leaning back against the kitchen counter. 'Please.'

”Mr. Stark?”

His throat closed up and he swallowed against the feeling, forcing it down. No words would come, though.

”Mr. Stark, are you still there?”

Tony nodded, his eyes finding a picture of Peter, May and a kind-looking man he assumed to be Peter's uncle pinned to the fridge, right next to take-out menus and a post-it informing Peter that lunch was in the oven, he just had to switch it on and wait 20 minutes ... this was Peter's life Tony was staring at. He was surrounded by it, by family pictures and useless clutter and shopping lists and ... it couldn't be true. Maybe it was just a set-back. Her vitals dropping, but she was still breathing. Or her heart had stopped, but they had intervened and brought her back.

He whispered the word one last time, barely loud enough to be heard even by himself, 'Please.'

Then he took a deep breath, pushed off the counter and straightened, squaring his shoulders. ”Yes, Dr. Manning,” he said. ”I'm here.”


END
06/16

Part 2: Trial and Error
Masterlist: Lights To Guide You Home
Complete Fanfiction Masterlist

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Comments

( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
cynicale
Jun. 16th, 2016 09:53 pm (UTC)
A nice read, enjoyed it:)
jolinarjackson
Jun. 18th, 2016 05:18 pm (UTC)
Thank you! :)
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )