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Self-Sacrifice

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Peter webbed the last of the Hydra agents to the floor after kicking them to the ground. A familiar  clang  sounded behind him, and he turned to see Mr. Stark looking over  him  carefully.  

 

“You good kid?” He asked, his helmet retracting so he could make eye contact.  

 

“All good,  they  didn’t put up much of a fight,” Peter said with a grin.  

 

The Avengers were all out on a mission to take down a Hydra base. As of recently, some sort of unknown substance kept on causing mass homicides in New York City, and the FBI was able to trace the source back to this base.  

 

A small park close to an elementary school had been the most recent crime scene, where the offender had dropped the substance into the wind and every person present at the park became infected.   

 

Normally they would leave these types of cases to the police and FBI, but when they realized that this could  possibly  be the work of Hydra, the case had been given to the Avengers.  

 

One night ago, twenty-five victims had checked into emergency rooms all around New York, and within three hours, the first victim had died. It had started with him coughing up blood, but soon lead to black lesions and lung failure. The FBI took over the case immediately, and soon discovered where the source was coming from.  

 

Hydra bases were no joke, so the Avengers were on top of the case the next morning, by which they had lost twelve more civilians.  

 

Their job was to get to the base and get as many Hydra agents out alive as possible so they could find a vaccine. Tony had been hesitant about letting Peter tag along, but they needed to get the civilians help as soon as possible, and after some convincing, the boy was sitting next to him on the Quinjet.  

 

Cap had given them instructions to either knock them out or web them up, but make no attempt to kill. If they weren’t able to find an antivirus, there was a chance one of the agents would let out a clue to where it was.  

 

Tony told Peter to stick close to him, and the boy had done a  surprisingly  well job of listening.  

 

“Alright kid, their lab should be down the hall a bit, lets head that way and see what we can find,” Tony said.  

 

Peter nodded and started walking in the direction Tony pointed him to.  

 

“Stark, is your building clear?” Steve asked through the comms.  

 

Tony stopped and put his helmet back on.  

 

“Fri, any  conscious  heat signatures left?” He asked while looking at all of the highlighted bodies in front of him.  

 

“None that are not restrained, boss,” Friday said, taking the scan off of Tony’s screen.  

 

Tony’s helmet fell back again so he could press his ear piece.  

 

“We’re all clear, capsicle. Spidey and I are just about to check out the lab.”  

 

“Good work,” Steve said before checking with the others.  

 

“Okay, let’s go look-” Tony turned around to where Peter had previously been, but all he saw was an empty hallway.  

 

“Kid?” Tony asked as he slowly started to walk forward. “Hey, kid? Spidey? Spider-Man?”  

 

Tony kept calling out for Peter as he walked down the empty hallway and turned the corner.  

 

“Spid-”  

 

“Mr. Stark, get- get back! Get back! Get out of here!” Peter shouted, interrupting Tony. The man turned with wide eyes to see Peter slamming the door shut to the room he was in, and from a quick glance Tony could tell it was the lab.  

 

“What’re you doing? What’s wrong?” Tony yelled back, panic seeping in as he slammed on the glass barrier between them.  

 

“No, don’t!” Peter screamed as he fumbled with the lock on the door. “Believe me, get back.”  

 

Tony pounded on the glass again, but it was breaking to no avail.  

 

“What’s wrong? Open the door!” Tony stared in horror as Peter successfully got the lock shut and looked up at him, fear gracing the boy’s features.  

 

“I’m sorry,” Peter whispered as he slowly backed away from the door.  

 

With his heart caught in his throat, Tony looked away from his kid and to the room behind him. A shattered vial was laying in the middle of the floor with a white powder spilled out of it. When he looked up, he spotted a vent that was visibly  circulating  air through the room because of the red tag tied to it.  

 

Peter just got infected, and they didn’t have a cure.  

 

000  

 

Shortly after hearing the news, the rest of the team  finished  their business and showed up outside of the room that Peter was locked in.  

 

The base had been cleared, so the boy’s mask was off, showing his face that looked like he was panicking but trying to hide it. He had started looking around the room while the other’s arrived so he wouldn’t be wasting any time.  

 

The team discussed their options, but Tony overruled all of them in saying getting Peter out was their first priority.  

 

Steve pointed to Peter’s mask, so the boy picked it back up and slipped it on so he could hear the other’s conversation.  

 

“Pete, we need to get you out and to the hospital,” Steve said through his earpiece.  

 

Peter looked at him like he had grown two heads.  

 

“No, I’m staying right here.”  

 

No  you’re not, kid!” Tony shouted from the other end of the hall.  

 

“Mr. Stark, I’m already exposed. It’s not going to do me any good to stop trying to find the vaccine,” Peter said as he walked away from the door.  

 

Natasha stepped towards where Steve and Tony were now standing by  each other .  

 

“He’s already infected. Now, if these guys created the substance in there, the cure should be in there too,” she said, calmer than ever.  

 

“My best chance is to stay here and see if there’s a cure,” Peter said as he started to search through the room's cabinets.  

 

“C’mon Rogers, say something to him.” Tony wanted to get his kid out, but he knew full well that whatever Steve decided on was what Peter was going with. There was no way the boy was going to listen to him.  

 

Steve sighed as his eyes followed all of Peter’s movements. They stood in silence for a few more moments before he made a decision.  

 

“He’s right. His best chance is inside,” Steve said quietly and looked up to Tony as if he would bite him.  

 

“Peter, we’re going to get a suit and mask in to you right away so you won’t keep breathing the strain,” Sam shouted as he turned to go back to the Quinjet.  

 

“Don’t bother. It’s not going to do me any good. I’m already infected.” Peter sounded out of breath, but before anyone could say anything, he pulled his mask off and continued looking.  

 

Steve watched in silence as Peter dropped his mask and ignored them. Tony took a deep breath and turned around, not knowing what to do with himself as he couldn’t do anything to help.  

 

“The first victims died within three hours,” the man said, eyes unfocused as they kept themselves anywhere but in the room.  

 

“Tones, don’t think of it that way,”  Rhodey  said as he placed his hand on his best  friend's  shoulder. “We’ve got a decontamination team from SHIELD on their way. All he has to do is find the cure and then we’ll be out of here.”  

 

Tony looked up at  Rhodey  and sighed.  

 

“I should have been right there with him.”  

 

Rhodey  could see the guilt written on his face, the look that said ‘ I wish it had been me’.  

 

“Hey, there’s no time for second guessing. Once the  decon  team gets here, we help them get set up as fast as possible. We won’t be doing him any good by worrying,”  Rhodey  said.  

 

As much as he didn’t want to admit it,  Rhodey  was right and Tony needed to help Peter in any way he could. He walked back over to the glass door and gave it a knock. Peter looked up from his search and hesitantly slipped his mask back on his face.  

 

“Kid, what do you see in there?”  

 

Peter seemed slightly surprised that Tony wasn’t yelling at him, but took it in stride and continued to look around the room.  

 

“I see cages filled with dead animals. Some equipment is missing, most likely the stuff that has been used in public. There’s a large desk with clutter all over the surface... but in the corner, there’s a small desk. It's organized, completely different from the other one.”  

 

So  there’s two different work spaces?” Bucky asked, everyone now gathered by the door.  

 

The FBI had said it looked like there was only one person that understood the science behind all of this, but if the person who made the substance had a partner, they might be able to help them get the cure.  

 

“Two sets of handwriting. I’m looking at instructions on how to boil lab-grade broth, sterilize lab equipment, and transfer spores,” Peter said, picking up the papers and walking back into the view of the door.  

 

“Well at least we have a genius in there,” Clint muttered under his breath.  

 

Everyone ignored the archer’s comment to talk to Peter.  

 

“The person that made this strain should have known all of that,” Natasha said, moving to type something into her phone.  

 

“So there is a partner,” Bucky said, the two ex-assassins being able to make the connection before everyone else.  

 

“I’m alerting the FBI  team,  we’ll give them everything we know and we can see if they can figure out who it is.” Natasha finished sending her message and put her phone away. “The  decon  team should be here any minute.”  

 

“Nice work, kid,” Tony said just before Peter pulled his mask back off.  

 

000  

 

Peter could start to feel a strain in his chest, and his thoughts kept going back to May.  

 

What would she do if he didn’t make it out of here? If he didn’t say goodbye?  

 

Peter sat down at the small desk in the corner where he was out of the view of the team. He slipped his mask back over his face and made sure that the others wouldn’t be able to hear him.  

 

“Karen, can you do something for me?” He asked, suddenly feeling tears pool in his eyes.  

 

“Anything, Peter,” she said, tone happier than ever.  

 

“Uh, I know I can’t call May about what’s going on,” he cleared his throat and blinked back the tears in his eyes. “I, uh, I need you to record a message for her... in case anything happens to me.”  

 

“Nothing’s going to happen to you, Peter. Mr. Stark believes so.”  

 

Peter sighed. He couldn’t think about Mr. Stark too or he was going to lose it.  

 

“I hope he’s right, but if he’s not, I just- I really want to be sure she hears my voice.”  

 

“Okay Peter. Whenever you are ready.”  

 

Peter stuttered for a few seconds before taking a deep breath.  

 

“Hi, May, this is Peter. I just, um... I just really want you to know that... I love you, and,” Peter’s voice caught in his throat, and his it became much weaker the next time he spoke. “I  need  you to know that I spend every day of my life, proud to be your nephew.”  

 

Peter pulled his mask off after that, not being able to continue. He furiously wiped his eyes before looking towards the door.  

 

Two people in hazmat suits were opening the door, the entrance now blocked off by a grey tent, the rest of the Avengers no longer in sight.  

 

The two SHIELD agents stepped into the room and quickly shut the door behind them. With a closer look, Peter realized that one of them he actually recognized who wasn’t an agent, Dr. Helen Cho who he had met in the medbay many times.  

 

“Hi, Peter,” she said while the other agent started searching the room.  

 

“You look nice,” Peter  gestured  to her suit while sweat dripped down his face.  

 

Helen huffed and stepped closer to Peter.  

 

“I’ve never been in this outfit before, I’m glad it’s working out.”  

 

“How are the patients doing?” Peter asked, remembering Helen was leading the medical team that was attempting to keep the victims comfortable and healthy.  

 

“Let’s just worry about you,” she said with a smile.  

 

“I actually- I feel fine.”  

 

If you considered feeling fine as if it felt like someone was sitting on your chest while you are also on fire, yeah, you could call him fine.  

 

“Okay, but if you’re feeling any pain, I could give you something,” she tried, but after all of the times he had been her patient, she knew it wasn’t likely he would take anything without someone familiar being present.  

 

“No. I- I'd rather not take any pain medication.”  

 

Helen sighed.  

 

“Okay, tell me how I can help.”  

 

“Well, the cure for the strain should be in here somewhere,” he said, not sure what to tell an  adult  to do.  

 

Helen looked around mindlessly.  

 

“Well, should I start here?” She asked and pointed to the small desk.  

 

“We’re talking about Hydra here, which means whoever made this is most likely secretive, and paranoid. They should have protected the cure and put it somewhere his partner wouldn’t think about.”  

 

Peter tried to think as out of the box as possible, remembering the run down the FBI had given them.  

 

So  look for something innocuous,” Peter lost his breath for a moment, so he stopped talking to gain it back. “Something their partner wouldn’t suspect.”  

 

“I thought you guys said there was only one person behind this. There’s a partner now?” Helen asked.  

 

“That would be correct, Ms. Cho,” Tony’s voice interrupted their conversation. “Turns out there was a partner. The FBI team got him but they can’t get him to talk. All we know is that he’s a college student, nothing out of the ordinary with him. Decent grades, only medical records being for asthma attacks, he’s got glasses, and basically nothing-”  

 

“Wait, did you say asthma?” Helen asked, turning away from Peter and towards the larger desk in the room. She picked up an inhaler off the desk and turned it over. “Is an expired inhaler innocuous enough?”  

 

Peter’s eyes widened as he raced froward and grabbed the inhaler from the doctor’s hand.  

 

“Karen, scan this.”  

 

The other SHIELD agent had seemed to stop looking around after hearing their conversation. Everyone waited in silence for the AI to respond.  

 

“There is an unknown substance inside, its products look to be similar to the strain.”  

 

“Mr. Stark!” Peter coughed. “We got it!”  

 

“Thank god. Now get your asses out of that room,” Tony ordered.  

 

000  

 

Peter was standing in the tent outside the door, getting hosed down by the SHIELD agent whose name he still didn’t know when Tony rushed into view.  

 

The man’s entire body was tense and his eyes looked Peter up and down carefully.  

 

“Yeah. They're hosing him down now, I’ll keep you updated,” Tony said into his ear piece before stepping closer to Peter. “The rest of the team left to get the inhaler to the lab.”  

 

“You should go help them,” Peter croaked. The water on his clothes was starting to weigh him down, and his now straight hair was sticking to his forehead.  

 

“They have plenty of people helping them-”  

 

“They need you more than I do,” Peter rushed.  

 

“Kid, I’m going to see you off to the  medbay ,” Tony said with the tone that normally stopped Peter from arguing.  

 

“I’m about to get naked so I can get scrubbed down. Is that something you really want to-” Peter’s words got caught in his dry throat again. “To see?”  

 

Tony’s eyebrows rose and he nodded.  

 

“Okay, I’ll wait outside. Take good care of him,” he said sternly to the agent.  

 

Peter started to pull off his shirt as the agent backed away.  

 

“Kid, did you cut yourself?” The man asked all of a sudden.  

 

Peter looked at the man in confusion, and followed his line of sight down to his hand. A black lesion was bleeding in between Peter’s knuckles.  

 

000  

 

After Peter was scrubbed down, he was quickly rushed into  Quinjet  the  decon  team had arrived in and put on oxygen.  

 

Tony was sat on Peter’s right while Helen held a stethoscope to Peter’s chest on his left. Peter coughed, shaking his entire body as Tony held his hand tightly.  

 

“How are you feeling Peter?” Helen asked.  

 

“My throats a little dry. But other than that, I feel... flee...  fleel  fin. I feel- I  fleel  fin. I--”  

 

“Okay, Peter. Okay,” Helen said as she glanced up at Tony, who looked like he was about to pass out. “Can we get this jet to go any faster?”  

 

000  

 

“Guys,” Bruce said, halting all conversation between the team. “Dr. Cho just called. Peter’s in trouble.” 
 

“What do you mean?” Steve asked, face falling.  

 

“He got way sicker on the way to the tower. He’s in  respiratory  distress.”  

 

Everyone looked around at the bustling agents running through the lab.  

 

“They don’t need us here, do they?”  Rhodey  asked.  

 

Bruce shook his head.  

 

000  

 

Peter slowly woke up. His eyes squeezed shut in an attempt to open them, and he smacked his lips together at the dryness of his mouth.  

 

After a few moments he was able to figure out how his eyes worked, and he slightly cracked them open. His head was tilted to the side where he got a perfect view of Mr. Stark leaning forward in a soft chair, tapping at something on a Stark-Pad as he ate something red from a plastic cup.  

 

“You’re eating  Jell-O ?” Peter asked as he sat up.  

 

Tony smiled at the boy and powered off whatever he was working on.  

 

“Hmm,” he huffed. “Hey, kid.”  

 

Tony turned towards the open door.  

 

“Hey doc,” he called, and Helen walked into the room moments later. “Look who’s back.”  

 

“Is there any more Jell-O?” Peter asked.  

 

“Hey,” Helen said with a smile. “Not so fast.”  

 

“What happened?” Peter looked down where an IV was in his wrist and a bandage was wrapped around his hand.  

 

“You’re  gonna  be alright, kid,” Tony  interrupted .  

 

Peter gave a weak smile and turned towards the doctor.  

 

“How are the other victims?” He asked.  

 

“They’re on the mend. You were right about where to look for the cure. They’re all going to make a full recovery.”  

 

Peter smiled and laid back down on the bed.  

 

“You did good, Pete,” Tony said as Peter heard Helen leave the room. “You just missed the team by a few minutes. They were pretty worried about you.”  

 

Peter hummed and shut his eyes.  

 

“Everyone’s okay?”  

 

Tony shook his head in exasperation even though Peter couldn’t see it.  

 

“Everyone’s okay. You can go back to sleep, kiddo.”  

 

Peter hummed and snuggled closer to his blanket.  

 

“But we’re going to have a talk about your self- sacrificial  skills once you wake up.”  

 

Oh, god.