She was falling, her red hair whipping past her face as she plummeted towards the ground. Her eyes were wide, not quite panicked but...surprised. Natasha Romanoff had not been expecting the fall, she'd never expected to die that day.

Peter saw her and his thought processing tripled giving him ample time to take in his surroundings. Steve was slamming his shield into the face of his foe, knocking the supervillain unconscious but the damage had already been done. Tony's suit was a wreck, Clint was unconscious and Steve was on the other side of the roof.

Nobody would blame him for not saving her. His web shooters were still sparking from the shockwaves their foe had produced…The shockwaves that had sent Natasha stumbling.

Nobody would blame him if she fell but the thought of letting her die never even crossed Peter's mind as he threw himself off the roof after her, making himself as streamline as possible.

Natasha was lying flat as she fell, arms outstretched as she hopelessly tried to grasp onto anything around her. She was trying to slow down her descent but Peter was trying to speed his up.

He had the advantage. In an instant he'd closed the gap between them.

Peter grabbed her outstretched arm and pulled her towards him. The ground was rushing up to meet them, he didn't have much time...But Peter was experienced with falling.

He flipped them over in the air so he was facing upwards and hugged her close so he would be the one hitting the ground, not her. The building was tall...but he didn't take damage easily. He had a chance of surviving this, it was admittedly a slim chance but he was infinitely more likely to walk away from this than Natasha.

In those last precious moments the world was still traveling at a fraction of its normal speed. Peter wanted nothing more than to turn over in the air and see how close the ground was to hitting him but he couldn't risk it. He had to save her. It didn't matter that it was Natasha or that she was a master assassin with flaming red hair...His first thought had been of Gwen. Sweet Gwen who's blonde hair had spread out through the air and whipped past her as he watched her fall, helpless to stop it.

It didn't matter who it was, Peter knew he wouldn't be able to live with himself if he let somebody else fall to their death when he could do something…When he could be fast enough.

He was distracted from thoughts of his lost love by a hint of fear in the pit of his stomach. Fear of the unknown, of what death might bring. He'd never really considered himself to be a religious person. He'd always assumed that death was it, the ultimate game over. In that case, nothingness was what awaited him. Like an endless, dreamless sleep.

Or perhaps, he would find himself in the place that Thor called Valhalla. The Norse Gods' equivalent of heaven but one that only welcomed people who had died a warriors death.

Peter wasn't sure if dying in an attempt to save somebody else counted as a warrior's death but nothingness didn't sound so bad either. It was difficult to imagine a place that was void pain or betrayal.

Somewhere he could exist without carrying his crushing guilt or the burden of his overwhelming responsibility.…

But no, responsibility was something he believed in so deeply...He couldn't give up on that belief. He owed it to his Uncle Ben who'd died trying to do the right thing, to Captain Stacey who'd set aside the rules of the law in order to save countless lives...He owed it to Gwen...

He'd failed her by being too weak to stay away when he knew it was for the best...And when it truly counted he'd been too slow to catch her limp and falling form.

And he owed it to Aunt May who'd died tryin-

His back hit something hard and he felt metal bend around him. There was a sound like...Shattering glass? Then a shrill sound like- Ohhhh, he'd fallen on some poor civilian's car. Peter hoped the insurance would cover it.

Something hot and sticky ran down his chin. It was probably blood. That was bad right? Bleeding from the mouth...

There was no 'white light' or shining spotlight or whatever, instead black spots began to cloud Peter's vision.

"Forgive me, Gwen," he slurred.

xxx

It all happened so...fast. In the span of a few short seconds she'd gone from feeling unstoppable to being certain that she was going to die.

She knew she was going to fall before she actually did and immediately started to reach for one of her gadgets but the dull zap that the still sparking device gave off was enough to remind her that she was on her own.

She fell backwards through the air and reached out desperately for something, anything that might slow her descent. There was a brief blur of movement before something grabbed her arm and she felt herself flip over in the air so she was looking down instead of up. She'd barely had time to register the fact that somebody was holding onto her before they collided with the car on the street below.

Light exploded in front of her eyes but she fought through the disorientation and didn't give into unconsciousness. She couldn't be alive, how was she-

"Forgive me Gwen," somebody said in a hoarse voice that sounded far too familiar.

"Suddenly Natasha was overly aware of the fact that she wasn't lying on the car that the alarm piercing the air suggested. She wasn't even lying on the cold harsh cement of a city sidewalk.

She was lying on something warm and solid and unmistakably human.

She was almost scared to open her eyes. Whose face would she find staring back at her? Steve seemed like the likely answer, always the good and self-sacrificing soldier. He would be more than willing to throw himself off a building if it meant there was even the smallest possibility of somebody else surviving...But he'd been on the other side of the roof.

Please say Thor showed up at the last moment instead, she silently pleaded. Please say Clint didn't wake up.

Natasha opened her eyes and found herself staring at a masked face...Oh god, no...no, no, no, no...It couldn't be...He had no reason to...

"Spidey?" she croaked. Her throat was dry all of a sudden.

"NATASHA?!" Steve shouted as he reached the edge of the building far above them.

"Too far above them…She should be dead instead of-

"I'm okay," she shouted back hoarsely. "Get Banner on the line. Tell him we've got a patient coming in. Now!"

Should she move? If he had internal damage then moving could easily make it ten times worse and how could he NOT have internal damage after a fall like that?

Oh, who was she kidding? He was dead, plain and herself Natasha felt tears prick up in the corners of her eyes.

They hadn't known each other especially well, they'd always had fun sparring but they never really TALKED. Not about anything important anyway...What could have POSSIBLY made him do THIS?! Had he not realised his web shooters were affected by the blast? Or...or was it possible that he had knowingly thrown himself off a roof to save her life?

Natasha raised her head but the world spun around her. She'd hit her head up on the roof, she probably had a concussion. She couldn't complain about that though, Spider-Man had given his life in the hopes of saving hers. How could she complain about a concussion when he was dead?

The assassin's head throbbed painfully, the world seemed too bright and too loud. Spider-Man had been so...good, he'd inspired people. No matter what he seemed capable of lightening the mood. He didn't even kill people, it was something he adamantly refused to do. No matter what. Even with his super strength and lightning fast reflexes he'd found a way. He pulled his punches almost instinctively, he hit people in the right places, he developed his webbing. Not only did he leave people alive but relatively unharmed. It was a skill that few respected or even understood. She'd never been one of those few.

Natasha wondered briefly if Spider-Man had a family, if he'd thought of them when he'd thrown himself off that rooftop. Maybe that had been his lightning fast reflexes, always working so hard to save the lives of others. Maybe he'd barely been aware of what he'd been doing.

Maybe, just maybe, he didn't even have the time to realise that he was going to die.

Natasha very carefully rested her aching head back on Spider-Man's chest. His arms were still draped over her but they felt limp. The embrace was empty.

Then she felt the movement throughout her entire body, the slightest rise and fall of Spider-Man's chest. This time instead of wallowing she LISTENED, and in his chest she heard a steady heartbeat.

Spider-Man was alive.

xxx

Sometimes the darkness crept forwards and transformed the sharp colours and flashing lights into a smooth black slate. Sometimes a soothing humming like white noise drowned out the shouts and echoes.

Sometimes he didn't have to feel the pain that coursed through him like wild fire.

Other times sound blasted his eardrums, changing pitch so frequently it hurt his head to listen. Other times the colours burned his retinas and when he closed his eyes the light burrowed through his eyelids and images played out in front of him.

Sometimes when he slept he dreamt that he was sitting in a grassy field and next to him was an angel with blonde hair and a dead girl's face. She would ask him to wake up with a sad, soft voice that didn't match her expression.

Other times the angel would be flying and she'd be yanked back by an invisible force, her wings torn straight from her back with a sickening crack and she was left to plummet towards the ground while she screamed that they needed him.

Whenever the 'other times' occurred he would sink back into oblivion. It was peaceful there. He didn't have to feel sad and lonely and afraid there.

He could be with the angel there.

xxx

Spider-Man was like a dandelion. Natasha decided it was a fitting comparison. Many people insult them and try to destroy them but the little yellow flowers never disappear completely for long and while many people wish they would disappear off the face of the Earth they had a beauty about them.

Spider-Man was a dandelion, grown in a warzone and that was what made him all the more special.

Natasha came to this conclusion as she sat in the medical bay, holding the vigilante's mask in her hands.

Bruce had reluctantly tugged it off his face when they'd brought him in. She didn't know what she'd been expecting…But not a young face that couldn't belong to someone older than eighteen.

Her own face was blank as she stared at the young man laid out on the table, still dressed in his spandex costume although Bruce who had wasted no time gawking was already cutting open Spidey's shirt.

Beside her Steve wore a mournful expression. Natasha knew he blamed himself for not being close enough, for not making sure Natasha was alright after she banged her head. For immediately moving to take out the enemy instead of moving to help his friend.

On her other side Clint looked sick but that may have had something to do with the fact that he'd been thrown head first into a concrete wall. He probably needed treatment but there was no way in hell anybody was going to step up and ask for it while the life of their teammate hung in the balance.

Tony stood back by the door and watched with a stony expression. If Natasha hadn't been a trained spy she would have said his face was unreadable but his eyes told her everything she needed to know. They held guilt.

But then again, wasn't everybody on the team watching with a guilty expression?

She wasn't. She was Natasha Romanoff, a weapon forged in fire, the Black Widow, the girl with a past that had a way of catching up to her an nipping at her heels no matter how fast she ran. She couldn't just switch that off…

She couldn't let her emotions control her

But now she was alone in the medical bay with only a broken spider to keep her company. He was hooked up to a heartbeat monitor but the steady rhythm was easily blanked out by her deep thoughts and heavy heart. His condition was stable…for now.

Every now and then his eyes would flutter open and he'd squint upwards before going limp once more and settling back into his comatose state. Bruce said that he just wasn't ready to wake up yet and when Natasha read his file she understood why.

Peter Parker: Age 17. Dead parents by the age of six, dead father figure by the age of sixteen, dead mother figure by the end of that year. To top it all off his school therapist said he was suffering from 'survivor's guilt' and blamed himself for the death of both his uncle and girlfriend Gwen Stacey

Peter Parker disappeared a few days after his Aunt's death so the school therapist never got the chance to diagnose him again.

Tony looked up Gwen Stacey's file and discovered that she'd died in the clock tower the night Spider-Man fought Electro. She had a web still attached to her midsection and broken bones from where she'd hit the floor. How she'd died was fairly clear.

Spider-Man had been too slow to catch her.

"Wake up Peter," Natasha said softly. Bruce had said using his name might help and calling him Spider-Man just seemed…wrong. Not when he looked so fragile and helpless.

"I know things have been hard for you these…For pretty much your whole life. I know that it's easier to sink into the darkness and let it consume you. I'm not going to lie you've been dealt a pretty crappy hand but…Please, Peter. Just wake up."

"She stood up and put the mask down on the table next to him and turned to leave but a wrenching feeling in her gut held her in place. She glanced at her watch.

3:15am…

She could stay a while longer. So Natasha sat down again and picked up the mask.

"A dandelion in a warzone…Amazing how something can flourish despite the unimaginable circumstances," she whispered to herself.

xxx

It was a 'Sometimes' moment and Peter sat in the field with his angel. Sometimes she would just sit beside him in silence but other times she would whisper to him. He never focused long enough to dwell on her words but her voice was soothing. Over and over again she told him to wake up but he never gave the words much thought.

His numb mind never realised that his angel spoke with the voice of a Russian Spy.

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