Hi guys! This was co-written with Clover-Rose back in the summer, and it's been sitting completed in my notes finished ever since.
And now, on with the story!
"Wow, Ned wasn't kidding when we said we needed to convince you to go home," Michelle observed, as Peter walked over to them with his lunch that he got (even though he had no appetite and felt like throwing up instead).
"Why did you tell him what our plan was?" Ned asked, as he took a seat beside his best friend.
"'Cause we don't need to sugar coat the fact that he looks like shit on his birthday." Michelle shrugged, before she went back to her book, only to be nudged by Ned.
"Michelle," he complained. "I need your help."
"No, you don't. Figure it out."
Peter groaned as he put his head on his arms and closed his eyes in an effort to block out the sound around him. Even though he didn't really like his birthday, he was usually fine with it. However, today, he really wasn't feeling good, as his stomachache had progressively gotten worse since last night, and all he wanted to do was to just go home and sleep.
"Hey," he heard, as he felt a tap on his shoulder. "Earth to Peter."
"Wh't?" The sick superhero croaked as he opened his tired eyes and glanced at the girl across from him. "I was trying to sleep."
"Cool." Michelle nodded. "I don't care. If you take Ned's advice, you can go home and do that. Or, at least, go to the nurse and take a nap on her cot. You look exhausted."
"I thought you told Ned to f'gure 't out..." he mumbled.
"I did," Michelle said, thoughtfully. "But then I changed my mind, 'cause you still look like shit, and I doubt anyone on the decathlon team or in any of our classes wants to be infected by you and your stupid cold. So, I'm giving you a free pass. Go home and rest, and I'll tell Mr. Harrington why you're missing out. God knows you need it."
"Please?" Ned pleaded. "You can always tell when I'm lying, man, and you know I'm being honest when I'm telling you that you look horrible."
Peter sighed and closed his eyes, as he rested his head back on his hand and wrapped an arm around his abdomen, the nausea coming back and taking over his senses again. "You two are just boosting my self-esteem today," he whispered, sarcasm evident in his voice, as he laid his head back on top of the table.
"It's called being honest," Michelle scoffed. Pushing her pile of books away from her mug so they didn't spill over her hot chocolate, she cast a look at Ned as she swung her legs over the bench. "Stay with him, okay? I'm gonna see if I can get him a note from the nurse. And maybe a barf bag or something while I'm at it, too."
"Alright." Ned smiled politely and watched as the brunette left, before turning to his best friend and placing a hand on his back. "Just breathe, Peter."
"Trying," the boy replied. His eyes were still closed, but his bangs were now blocking his expression from anyone who tried to get a clear look at it, so Ned took his chance and slid his hand under the teen's fringe to feel for a fever. "Stomach just... h'rts. Feel like I'm g'nna throw up."
"Yeah." Ned sighed, quietly. "Having a fever and stomach flu will probably do that to you, dude."
Opening his mouth, Ned had planned to talk about Star Wars, or Spider-Man, or just something so he could distract Peter from the pain he was feeling and hopefully get his mind off of it. But, before he could even start another conversation, Michelle came back and swung her legs over the bench, with a paper and plastic bag in her hands.
"The nurse had to deal with an emergency in the art room," she explained, as she slid the barf bag and paper over the table. "So I just wrote you a note myself, saying you had a fever and felt like you were gonna faint. And, before you even say anything, yes, forging someone's signature is illegal, but it's only for one day, so it's not a big deal."
"Wasn't g'nna say that," Peter stated, his eyes still closed and a light layer of sweat on his forehead.
"Yeah, you were. And, trust me, you look like you're gonna drop dead; it's for the best."
"How much is the bus back?" Ned asked, before Peter could even respond to Michelle's snarky remark. "I don't have enough for a taxi, but if you're too nauseous to walk home, I can give you some money for the bus.
"Nuh, it's f'ne," Peter replied. Opening his eyes now, he swung his legs over the bench and began to stand up when his surroundings started swaying, making him have to grab on to the table as he was dangerously dizzy. "Place's twenty minutes aw'y. I can walk."
"You're sure?" Ned looked doubtful.
"...Alright." Ned still looked concerned, but decided to drop it and, instead, helped his friend put on his jacket and backpack. "Just... text me when you get home, okay? The last thing I need is to hear you fainted in the street, and I'm pretty sure that's the last thing May wants as well."
"And, me too," Michelle muttered, from where her nose was buried in her book.
"And Michelle as well."
"M'kay," Peter muttered. "But, like... I'm only doing this 'cause MJ's letting skip decathlon practice. You—You know that, right?"
"Sure," Ned agreed, as he plastered a fake smile on his face. "Whatever you say."
"Now, get out of here," Michelle demanded, just before Peter began to leave. "I don't wanna catch your disease."
Peter got home forty five minutes later, and since his apartment complex was twenty minutes from the school, that was not good. He had to stop every five minutes to grab onto something so he wouldn't fall, or he had to be sick.
"May?" The boy asked, his steps heavy and his head hazy as he closed the apartment door behind him. Then, after dropping his keys on the kitchen table, he had slipped off his shoes, backpack and jacket, before wandering on over to the fridge. He hadn't had an appetite since a few days ago, but some water had to help his stomach, right? "You home?!"
"Peter?" As if to answer his question, May came around the corner with a basket of laundry and smiled before she set it on a chair nearby and brushed his hair away from his face. "What are you doing home? I thought you had a test to do this afternoon."
"Nah," The teenager replied, as he sighed, before bringing the water bottle up to his lips and drinking it. "Ned and MJ took me to the nurse. Said I was sick. She, uh... she wrote me a note."
Taking the paper from her nephew, May's eyes had scanned over it quickly, before depositing it on the kitchen counter and settling on a soft smile. "Well, your fever feels pretty low," she said, as she placed a hand on his forehead. "But, you look tired and sweaty, and you probably wanna rest, so why don't you head to bed? And, then, if you don't feel like celebrating your birthday tonight, we can always do it tomorrow."
"Thanks, May," the superhero stated as he screwed the cap back on his water bottle. "I'm just gonna grab my backpack, and then I might go take a nap."
"Alright, I'll be in the laundry room. I love you."
"Love you, too," Peter replied. And that was the last thing May heard the teenager say, before he turned on his heels and closed the door to his room.
It couldn't have been more than an hour later when there was a knock at the door.
"Ned?" May asked, as she opened up said door and came face to face with her nephew's best friend. "What are you doing here? Aren't any of you guys in school today?"
"I have a spare last period," Ned explained, as he shifted the strap of his backpack. "And Peter didn't text me when he got home, like he said he would, so I thought I'd come by before decathlon practice. See how he's doing, y'know?"
May smiled and stepped aside as she let the boy inside. "Of course," she said, as she closed the door behind her. "Just stay here and settle in, alright? I'm gonna go see if he's still asleep."
"Alright." Smiling politely, Ned nodded and watched as May disappeared down the hall, before taking a seat on the couch and starting his homework. It wasn't anything difficult; he just had to do the assigned reading their English teacher had given them for homework, and then work on some questions for social studies. At most, it'd take about half an hour. And, not only that, but he could catch Peter up on what he missed, as well.
However, those plans seemed to vanish as May came back into the room, her steps fast and frantic. "Ned," she called out, speaking before he could even turn to look at her. "I need you to call Tony. You have his number, right?"
"Not on me," The boy replied as he packed up his things and began to get up from his seat. "Why? What's wrong?"
May didn't respond, though. If anything, she just made a "follow me" gesture, held her index finger up to her lips and whispered "be quiet," before letting him trail in behind her, and that's when Ned started to panic.
Peter was lying in his bed, like someone usually did when they were sick, but that wasn't what concerned Ned at the moment. What did concern him, however, was how Peter was literally sweating through his sheets, with his eyes squeezed shut and an arm wrapped around his stomach. Not only that, but he was groaning under his breath and obviously trying not to worry them, even though he was sick, and in pain, and dying, and—
'Oh my God,' Ned thought. 'What if he was dying?!'
"Peter," May then called, snapping Ned out of his trance. She was brushing the superhero's hair back in an effort to try and make him feel a bit better, but it didn't really seem to be working. "Where's your phone, baby? We need to call someone."
Peter's breaths were coming faster now, and tears began to stream down his face. "Not an hosp'tal," he muttered. "Sc'ence exper'ments. M-M-Mutat'd DNA. C'n't have th't."
"I know." May nodded, and ran her thumb over Peter's cheeks, brushing his tears away from his face. "Trust me, baby, I'm not gonna call a hospital. I just need to know where your phone is so we can help you out. I'm not going to do anything, okay? I promise."
Peter took a deep breath, but still continued to cry, obviously not in his right mind. "D'sk," he muttered, before letting out another groan. "Was ch'rging it. Twenty p'rcent left..."
"That's okay," May replied. "Just close your eyes and try to get some rest, alright? And, Ned, will you—"
But Ned already seemed to have the same thought in mind, as he unplugged Peter's phone and let it scan his fingerprint, before going into his contacts and scrolling all the way down to the 'S' section. Then, once there, he tapped on 'Stark,' and held it up to his ear, before finally getting through on the fifth ring.
"What is it, kid?" He heard, eyes actually widening upon hearing Tony's voice. "And, before you even ask, no, I'm not coming to get your phone out from behind the dryer again. I smelled like laundry detergent for a week after that."
"No, Mr—Mr. Stark, it's not Peter," Ned spoke, finally finding his voice. "Well, I mean, like, it is, but it's actually not? It's Ned, his best friend." Then, after receiving silence, he decided to add, "You know, the guy who got Legos in your suit when I visited."
"Oh, Ted!" Tony exclaimed. "Yeah, I remember you now. So, what's up, kid? Why you calling?"
"It's Peter," Ned explained, deciding to hurry up once he saw the glare May was sending his way. "He's sick, and in pain, and we can't take him to a hospital because of his powers, so we don't know what to do, and—"
"—Where are you guys?"
"Where are you guys? What street are you on? I need to know if I'm gonna have Happy head over there."
"Oh! Fifteenth street."
"Annnd, what are his symptoms?" Tony asked, making sure to draw out the first word.
"Uh, he's pretty tired, felt like he was gonna barf at school, and I think his stomach hurts. He also might have a fever, too, but I'm not really too sure, since we haven't checked yet..."
"Alright, how's his appetite?"
"Uh..." Ned raised an eyebrow, caught off-guard by the question, but answered it anyway. "Probably not too good? I mean, he got lunch today, but he didn't even eat it, so MJ and I split it after he left; she had the sandwich and I had the banana. And he told me his stomach was hurting yesterday, but he didn't want to tell anyone and I didn't really think anything of it..."
"Idiots..." Ned heard Tony mutter, before he spoke up again. "Okay, kid, I think I know what this is, so here's what we're gonna do; I'm gonna have Happy head over there and drive you guys to the compound, but I want you to update me in case anything else happens. Otherwise, I hope Peter feels better, and I'll see you guys in a little bit."
"Alright. Thanks, Mr. Stark." Pressing the red 'end call' button on the iPhone, Ned had then set it down, before hurrying back on over to his friend's side. During the time he was on the phone, May seemed to have gotten a wet washcloth from the kitchen, as she was now pressing one against Peter's cheek, in hopes of cooling him down.
"The call's all done," he told her. "Happy should be here soon. What else can I do?"
"Go get the thermometer," May instructed. "I know he's not feeling too great right now, but it'll be better if we get an actual reading on how high his temperature actually is. It should be in the medicine cabinet."
"Got it." Ned nodded and ran into the bathroom, before opening up the mirror and finding the thermometer. Then, grabbing it, he didn't even bother to close the cabinet before he ran back into Peter's room and handed the packaged object to May, who pulled out the medical device and tapped her nephew on the cheek in order to wake him up.
"M'y?" Peter mumbled, his eyes glassy, and wet, and unfocused. "Wh't's goin' on?"
"I need you to hold this under your tongue," she told him, with a sad smile. "But, it's only for a minute, okay, sweetheart? And then you can go right back to sleep, baby. I promise."
"M'kay." Standing a few feet away, Ned was forced to watch with sad eyes as May turned the thermometer on before slipping it into Peter's mouth. He didn't have much time to dwell on it, though, because before he could, May turned back to him and gave him more directions.
"Can you go and let Happy in once he gets here?" she asked. "I would do it, but..." She cast an anxious glance at Peter, who remained oblivious to the whole thing, as it took all his strength not to gag on the metallic taste in his mouth. "...I don't really want to leave him alone right now."
"Of course." Running a hand through his hair, the other teenager had then exited the room just as the doorbell rang. Wincing, he imagined just how much that must've hurt Peter's senses, before he opened the door and came face to face with the forehead of security.
"Where's the kid?" Happy had no time for introductions, apparently.
"Alright, out of the way."
'And, wow,' Ned thought. 'Wasn't that rude?'
But, nonetheless, Ned did as he was told and moved out of the way so the man could get through; and, although it probably only took a couple of minutes, it felt like hours to Ned before Happy reappeared, carrying Peter down the stairs, bridal style.
Figuring that he could at least do something, Ned held the door open for them while they walked out, before meeting them at the Audi parked at the side of the street and positioning himself so Peter's feet were now placed on his knees. It wasn't much, but Peter had always been clingy when he was sick, and Ned figured it was better than nothing.
'Besides,' he thought, 'if Peter had to go to the tower or compound because he was this sick, then there wasn't any way Ned wasn't going with him.'
"...Peter? Are you awake, baby?"
"Mh'm." Letting a groan slip through his lips, Peter opened his eyes just enough to make out his aunt, while he felt himself nod. His vision was still blurry and was mostly a mess of fuzzy shapes and figures, but it cleared enough for him to see that he was in some sort of hospital room, so he counted that as something. "May?" he mumbled. "Wh't happened?" he asked. "A'nd where 'm I?"
May smiled, running her hand through his hair, and Peter immediately let himself relax against the cool touch of her fingertips. "You're at the tower," she explained, slowly. "We had to bring you here to get your appendix taken out, because, apparently, you had appendicitis and I didn't even know about it? Which we're definitely going to talk about later, but right now, I'm just glad you're okay."
"A'nd Ned?" Peter asked, his eyes beginning to close. "Is he st'll here?"
"No," May said, as she shook her head. "He saw you right after you got out, but you slept for awhile, and he had to get home to babysit his sister."
"Yeah. But, that being said, there is someone here to see you, so I'll just go and give you two a few minutes." Squeezing her nephew's shoulder, May had then placed a quick kiss on his forehead, before she left and was replaced by MJ.
"Hey, nerd," the curly-haired girl greeted as she sat down on the edge of his bed. In her hands was a red and blue stuffed spider, along with a card, and Peter couldn't help but give her a tired smile once he saw it. "How're you feeling?"
"Exha'sted," he muttered in response as he struggled to sit up, thanks to the IV in each of his elbows. "Stomach still really hurts. A'nd stitches are ann'ying."
"I'm not surprised." Michelle rolled her eyes. Then, casting a glance down at the objects she was holding, she had gently placed the card on his lap, before focusing her gaze on her feet. "Ned, uh, he told me what happened. I wasn't even going to give this to you till tomorrow, but I made the entire team sign it, and I figured you could use something to cheer you up. No one likes being stuck in bed on their birthday."
"Thank y'u. You didn't h've to do that," he told her as he opened the card, before seeing a hand-drawn picture of him fall out of it. Picking it up, he further inspected it, and realized it was a picture of him in a hospital bed, with a party hat on. "When did y'u draw this?"
Michelle shrugged, suddenly feeling nervous and vulnerable. "I, um, cut decathlon short today. Everyone was worried and felt bad, and we all agreed it was for the best so you and Ned didn't miss too much."
Peter nodded. "A'nd the sp'der?"
"I figured you wouldn't be having a party for a while," Michelle spoke, as she handed over the animal, while purposely avoiding his eyes, "so I stopped by some dollar store on the way here. It's nothing expensive, probably the cheapest one they had, in fact. Cindy, and Sally, and Flash even pitched in a bit, I think."
"I know it's probably really lame," she continued. "Ned said that when his cousin had to get their wisdom teeth removed, he got them a pillow pet, and that was my first choice, so I really tried to find one, but—"
"MJ?" Peter smiled.
Michelle looked up, hopefully. "Yeah?"
"I l've it."
Michelle laughed, amused at how sincere he sounded when his words were so slurred. "Good," she said, once she regained her composure, not even noticing how her hand gently gripped his. "I have to get going soon, since my dad wants me home, but I'll come by after school tomorrow and make sure to text you later. And, the—the receipt's in the bag, you know, in case you want to exchange it or return it."
Peter nodded. "Great. Thanks."
He had a feeling he wasn't going to, though.