Hey! Next chapter is up, but it's only a short one... Sorry, complete exhausted from a busy day!
I hope you enjoy!
The next day, Peter met Morgan Stark for the second time. Tony still slept in his bed, and Pepper continued to float in and out of the room all afternoon, but not without the motherly guard in her eyes as she glanced at Morgan. But the little girl seemed pretty happy.
She sat with her legs crossed on the floor at the foot of the hospital bed. Peter sat opposite her, and the pair stared daringly at each other, almost to the point of glaring. Ridiculous; a sixteen-year-old boy having a glaring match with a five-year-old girl. Yet there they sat, with a pile of cards between them face up. They both gripped their packs of cards, face down, and Peter slammed down another card facing up, revealing its identity.
A six of diamonds, matching the six of hearts beneath it.
"SNAP!" they both screamed, but Morgan was faster. She slammed her tiny hand on the pile, which was a substantial amount, and grinned wickedly at Peter.
Peter shook his head in defeat, but was grinning despite himself.
"Don't let her win, Pete," Pepper cautioned, touching his shoulder and smiling as she glided past. "She'll become as big headed as her dad."
"It's not my fault I'm better than him, mommy." The child huffed, pushing the pile towards Peter. He smiled. She was so much like Tony it was almost unreal. She was so confident in the way she spoke, so sure of everything, it was admirable. He remembered being her age. He remembered believing how he thought he knew everything, and that one day he would conquer any problem that got in his way no matter what. Only, with Morgan, he actually believed that she could, and would, conquer everything.
"Watch your tone, young lady." Her mother murmured, but her tone had ice laced within it. The child before him cringed, and, to his own surprise, he cringed with her.
"She's okay," Peter reassured, offering a sheepish smile over his shoulder. He then turned back to Morgan. "Hey, you hungry?" he asked.
"Yes!" she jumped up in a flash, the cards scattering at their feet in the process. Peter quickly gathered them and packaged them away, but she was already out of the door, running out of sight.
"Morgan!" Pepper shouted.
"I got it, Miss Potts!" Peter called, already running after her. He nearly bumped into a nurse on the way and clumsily apologised, only to race down the corridor so as not to lose sight of Morgan Stark. Damn, she was fast. She weaved and ducked through doctors, nurses and surgeons alike, most of which barely noticed her, for they were too busy getting out of Peter's way. He apologised profusely, desperate to not hit anyone or send paper work flying. It was all he could do to not lose track of something so small, and he was beginning to wonder if he too had been so nimble at her age.
But where she was fast, she did not have a sixth sense, unlike Peter. She collided head long into the legs of none other that Happy Hogan, and it was evident that he bit back a curse in his surprise.
"Miss Stark!" he cried, and quickly lifted her to her feet.
"I'm fine!" she cheered, and her big eyes landed on Peter when he finally caught up.
"You okay?" he asked, chucking her chin. She beamed at him, and he grinned back.
"You have to be careful," Happy cautioned her, kneeling down to meet her level. "If your dad finds so much as a bruise on you, do you know who will be in trouble?"
"Me?" Morgan relied, looking worried.
"No, me.Stay out of trouble." He stood, and he caught Peter's eye. "Watch her, she's a fast one."
"Got it." Peter replied, and gently clutched the child's shoulder. Happy left them, heading in the direction they had come from, and Peter guided Morgan towards the hospital's cafeteria. She obliged to his every movement, stepping in line with him and careful to not get in anybody's way. When she remained quiet, Peter looked down at her as they joined the queue for the dinner line. He nudged her, offering her a smile, but her eyes looked troubled.
"Will he wake up?" she asked him, and suddenly Peter's heart ached. Oh, how he wished he knew the answer to that. All he had wanted over the last few weeks was to hear him call him "kid" again, just one more time. He just wanted to hear his voice, for him to promise that everything would be fine and that everything would go back to normal.
He wanted to speak to Tony about everything. He wanted to talk about what he had missed in the five years that he was gone. He wanted to understand what had happened to him. Sometimes, Peter woke up in a hot flush, calling out to no one, and he would pat himself down to be sure that he was still there, and not ash to the wind. Other times, he couldn't get to grips with how may of his classmates had moved on from high school and coming towards the end of college. Some of them he hasn't seen since he had come back.
He missed his old life, and Tony seemed to be the only person he currently wanted to talk about it with. But Tony wasn't well, and he wouldn't be for a long time.
But he wasn't going to tell Morgan that. "Of course he will, and in no time you'll be beating him at 'Snap' too." He ruffled her hair, and she smiled, nodding to herself. Over the next hour, Peter bought himself and her some bacon sandwiches, which they ate in silence in the cafeteria. He watched as Morgan gazed upon those around her, reading everyone around them. It was like she was trying to find the words to their stories, or trying to understand who they were without talking to them. She was fascinating to watch, for he could tell that her mind never switched off for even a moment, just like Tony's.
When she had finished, her eyes finally met Peter's. "Can we go back to daddy now?"
"Sure," he said, standing. "Lead the way."
She took his hand without a word and moved back in the direction they came from, but the excitement seemed to have left her. Peter was beginning to learn that, despite her age, she wasn't daft. She knew where she was and the severity of it, but she was being incredibly brave in keeping it together. It was then that Peter realised that this was much harder on her than it was on him, and she was only a child. He couldn't bare the idea of her having to say goodbye to Tony, let alone himself.
Peter knew that Morgan would be the number one person in his life. He knew that, once he woke up, the first thing he would say would be Morgan's name. And he was okay with it. Tony deserved far more happiness that he ever allowed himself to believe, and to have both Pepper and Morgan in his life was a far greater achievement than any amount of money that came his way. Peter knew that these two people were Tony's world. And, until he woke up to show them just how important they were, to protect them and to love them, Peter would do everything in his power to keep them safe in the time that he couldn't.
He owed him that much, at least.
Later, when Happy took Morgan home, Peter allowed himself to sit beside Tony's beside. He rested his elbows on the mattress, just above Tony's elbow, and he stare furiously at the healing billionaire. They said that people in comas could hear those around them, and he wondering if he had been listening all this time. He hoped that could, just so that he could be reassured that everyone was okay, for if anything he would be torturing himself with the unknown.
But as he watched him, alone in his hospital room, he found himself talking to him without even realising it.
"I need you to wake up, Mr Stark." He said quietly, resting his chin in his palms. "We all do. Your daughter is amazing, truly she is. She asked me today whether you would wake up, and I told her you would. I intend for that to be the truth, Mr Stark, because… because she needs her dad to come back and take her home. She's a good kid, sir, very much like you. She tormented me with games of 'Snap' all day, and damn, she's a fast one. Did you teach her how to play so violently?"
The question hung in the air, and it was met with nothing but silence. Peter sighed into his palms, shaking a little. "Please, just… just make sure you wake up. I don't expect you to wake up for my benefit, not at all… but you have to wake up for them." The stillness of the room was thick, almost suffocating. "But, until you do, I'll do what I can to make sure they're okay."
But when Peter left for him and eventually fell into his mattress, nothing but nightmares consumed him, and all of them were in a world where Tony never woke up again.