Instead of writing the new Febuwhump, I wrote this. I'm sorry...I couldn't help myself.
A Quick Dip
1. Halfway Across the World
Tony Stark received the notification as he stepped into the courtyard, Friday speaking softly to him through the earpiece he wore at all times. "Sir, Spiderman's parachute has deployed."
Tony wasn't sure why Peter Parker, the overly earnest and energetic kid from Queens, was high enough in the air to deploy his parachute, but he mostly stuck to the small stuff anyway, at least according to Happy. Muggings and giving directions and the occasional break in. Maybe he'd slipped while doing backflips on the Empire State Building. Either way, the kid could take care of himself. He'd been doing just fine on his own...the last thing he needed was for Tony to butt in.
Tony had enough to deal with. And he liked the kid, sure. Peter seemed like a good kid, and maybe when he was older, he might be an Avengers candidate. But for now, Tony would let him help give old ladies directions and do his nerd clubs. He was a testament to what happened when you took kids out of their element and you pushed them too hard...the thought of what had happened to him happening to Peter Parker made his heart twist a little. He wasn't his father. He wasn't the kid's father either.
Honestly, he hadn't really wanted to go on this trip, but Pepper had insisted that this meeting could not be missed. There were talks of mergers with Mr. Patal's company...not exactly a tech giant but getting there. And Stark Industries didn't have a presence in India, so Pepper had wanted him to come along to give reassurances. No, they wouldn't be firing anyone. Actually, he had plans for expanding...hopefully opening up more jobs, too, although that was a work in progress. So he'd done as she'd asked, considering she did run his company for him...and cover for the many meetings he missed.
So he'd agreed to go on the trip, chuckling at Happy's whining in the background. "The kid has left me thirteen voicemails this week, Tony. Thirteen!"
"Hey, you're my point man. If you want to call and crush the kid's spirit, be my guest. Tell him to stop giving you reports."
"I didn't ask him to give daily reports in the first place, Tony!"
"On second thought, don't do that. I like those. I play them when I can't sleep."
"Then give him your number!" Tony had placed a neatly folded shirt in his suitcase, zipping it up and sliding his sunglasses on, grinning at Happy through yellow lenses.
"You're doing great, Hap. I'll be back in a week. Make sure the kid sticks to the ground. And maybe take him out to lunch or something. Get to know him. You might like him!"
"Tony…". Happy had started, his voice a growl, but Tony had already been on his way out.
Now he flinched a little at the hot, Indian sun after being in a boardroom all day. It would be about 1 am in New York, a little past the Spiderling's usual patrol time, but the kid was probably just messing around...maybe he'd made another web tightrope. That had been pretty cool.
Tony would need to reinstall that parachute, though.
"Friday, be a dear and remind me to get the Spiderling up to the Compound so I can fix his parachute?"
"Yes, sir." It might be nice to see the kid again. Maybe gently suggest that Peter stop leaving Happy so many voicemails. Just….cut it down to a few times a week. The kid was eager, that was for sure. A good kid. And Tony liked him. But the kid needed to stick close to the ground for a while.
Tony smiled at one of the ladies from the meeting, dressed in a business suit and a sari, trying to remember what she was the regional director of. Sales? Finance? It was on the tip of his tongue. His eyes strayed to a drink tray, and he followed the man, hoping to snag one. Even in his white suit, the heat was stifling.
"Sir? Spiderman's vitals are dropping."
Tony paused, freezing in place as he started to reach for a drink. "What?" He asked the earpiece, tapping the side of his sunglasses to bring up the display of the kid's suit, drink forgotten. His stats were dropping...the kid's body temp, oxygen levels...all dropping.
"His vitals are dropping and he doesn't appear to be breathing."
"What?! Where is he?" Tony asked, a sharp spike of panic going straight to his heart as he tried to keep his voice down a little.
"He is currently 29 feet below the surface of the Hudson River and dropping." Icy cold terror spread to every part of him as he clenched a fist at his side.
"Deploy a suit. Now!" He hissed.
Peter was in the river. He was...he was drowning. Could the kid not swim? The kid hadn't mentioned it, but they hadn't exactly gotten that far in their relationship. It was possible!
"Of course, sir. The suit is sixty seconds out."
"His parachute deployed. However the angle at which he was falling meant that he was tangled in the parachute, and he fell into the river."
Tony opened his mouth, but it was suddenly too dry to speak as he watched Peter's vitals drop further and further. Instead, he just shook his head. No. No way. This couldn't be happening. This kid was fourteen years old. No. Peter wasn't going to drown in the Hudson River at 1 in the morning while Tony was on the other side of the world.
"The suit is approaching the water." The earpiece informed him. He touched a button on the sunglasses and the display switched to that of his suit's. He touched a finger to his watch then, taking control as he remotely looked for Peter, staring around the depths of the almost black water in search of the boy. It was too dark...he switched on a headlamp, nausea turning his stomach. He didn't see the kid. He couldn't see him!
It took him another ten seconds to spot the kid, and he practically had to sit down, directing the suit to grab him under his arms, extracting the motionless figure from the parachute where he was tangled and then shooting back into the sky. He wanted to be there...wanted to actually feel the kid in his arms. But he couldn't...according to his vitals, Peter still hadn't taken a breath.
The suit lay Peter on the ground of a playground right on the shore, and he desperately scanned the readout.
"Sir, he isn't breathing," Friday informed him as if Tony didn't already know that!
"Start chest compressions. Now." Tony ordered the suit, and it began to follow his directions. "How far out is Happy?"
"Nearly an hour and a half."
Tony swore, left arm shaking as he stared through the display at the boy's mask, eye lenses open. He didn't want to pull the mask off...didn't want to risk seeing his slack face...couldn't bear to think of his open, unseeing eyes...the kid wasn't breathing and he was on the other side of the world, a suit pressing down on his chest to keep his heart beating hard enough with enough pressure that Friday informed him a rib had broken.
"Call him! Send him the coordinates. Who else is close?" Tony barked, moving into a separate room altogether away from the group mingling in the unbearable sun. On the other side of the world, Peter Parker wasn't breathing. He caught Pepper's eye and she frowned, going from somewhat annoyed to immediately concerned. Tony stepped out of the courtyard and into a cooler, darker space off to the side. He couldn't deal with onlookers at the moment.
"Steve Rogers is currently a mile away." Tony felt his throat close up. Steve.
He would know Peter's identity.
The boy wasn't breathing.
It was no contest.
"Call him. Now!" He stared at the display in his sunglasses, ignoring the little window that popped up and showing the outgoing call to Steve who answered on the first ring. Under the suit's hands, Peter didn't even shiver. His temp was still dropping. And he was bleeding from his shoulders but Tony couldn't bring himself to care about that at the moment.
"Tony?" Came Steve's hesitant, sleepy reply.
"I need help." He all but snapped, knowing that he should pull the boy's mask off but unable to let the suit stop the compressions.
He'd been out of the water for almost a minute and still wasn't breathing.
"I'm sending you coordinates. It's Spiderman. He was drowning...I have a suit doing compressions but…"
"I'm on my way."
Tony wanted to thank him but all he could do was watch the child's body jerk with each compression, trying not to focus on the dropping vitals or Friday's warning that he was going without oxygen for too long.
He knew what happened when people went for oxygen for too long.
Tony wasn't there. He couldn't help the kid.
He'd kept this kid at arm's length...hell, arm's length from Happy. And now...he was fourteen and he wasn't breathing and Tony couldn't give him rescue breaths because he wasn't. Fucking. There.
His heart felt like it was going to explode as he gripped a column, his entire sunglasses display filled with stats as the suit continued to keep the boy's heart beating. But what would that matter if he wasn't breathing?
Steve barely took a full minute to get there, leaping off of a motorcycle practically without stopping and dropped to his knees beside the boy, the motorcycle dropping to the ground by the bank. Tony moved the suit back a step, voice weak when he finally spoke.
"He needs rescue breaths." He croaked.
Steve ripped the mask off, not even pausing when he caught sight of the boy's face, tilting Peter's head back and pressing his mouth to his, then blowing into his lungs.
"Alright, kid. Stay with me, Spiderman." Steve muttered as he pressed his hands against the kid's chest, definitely breaking at least two more ribs. The boy had never looked smaller. "Come on, Queens. Come on." He put his mouth to the boy's again and Tony just watched, ignoring a call from Happy.
He was a continent away.
The kid was dying. Peter Parker wasn't breathing.
This couldn't be happening. Peter couldn't be dying.
Tony stood there, useless, as Steve continued compressions, giving Peter several more rescue breaths. The kid was on his academic decathlon team and had designed his own web fluid and he was so freaking good. "Come on, Spiderman," Steve muttered.
"Why did he fall! What happened? Why was he even out here?" Tony demanded, not caring that he was yelling. Steve didn't even glance up as he frantically pushed on Peter's chest.
"According to the baby monitor footage, Peter stumbled upon an illegal arms deal and attempted to stop it, but was captured by a man calling himself the Vulture. This man carried Peter over the river and dropped him in."
The Vulture. Right. So that was who was responsible for this...the one who'd...who'd...he couldn't even think it. This kid couldn't die. Not Peter. Not the kid who'd grinned and stammered and had the nerve to suggest that Tony couldn't tell when footage on Youtube was altered. Not the kid who had grinned up at him with those bright eyes, so anxious and excited.
The kid who'd hugged him in the back seat of Tony's car.
Tony would deal with this 'Vulture' guy himself.
"There you go, Queens." Steve murmured, and Tony snapped back to attention, jerking his head down to watch the boy cough, barely able to lift his head. Cap did it for him, helping him turn over so he could throw up the water. "There you go, kid. Just breathe."
The kid gasped for air and Tony squeezed his hand in a fist so tight he was surprised his fingers didn't break. "I'm on my way back." He croaked, forcing his eyes away from the shaking child on the ground who looked seconds away from unconsciousness, and way too small in Steve's arms.
He needed to get home.
Thank you for reading!