Peter washed his face in the bathroom sink, scrubbing ash and dirt and speckled blood from his cheeks as best he could while Aunt May rustled around in the kitchen.

He had explained as best he could what Dr. Strange's instructions to him had been, and to his relief she had wholeheartedly long as he at least sat down for a good meal first, and took her cell with him to keep in contact on his patrols.

Peter had done her one better, and offered her a direct com link to the suit.

After all, it wasn't like any of the others were trying to get in touch with him at the moment, so he didn't have to worry about clogging up the line.

Currently he could hear her humming to herself, the sound buzzing softly in his ear slightly out of synch to the gentle echo coming around the corner of the house from the kitchen.

It was...oddly reassuring to have her presence right there.

Almost like having an angel sitting on his shoulder, watching after him.

Despite the fact that they had technically lost the fight for the infinity stones, and that Thanos was still a lurking threat, he somehow felt more confident now than he had when first going into the battle.

Probably just the ease of being in familiar territory again.

Peter dried his face off, taking a moment to claw his hair back into something resembling order before making his way to the dining room, still in the Spiderman suit.

Already he could smell dinner cooking, his stomach practically screaming at him in reminder that he hadn't really eaten anything since the night before, and it was now well past five O'clock.

Aunt May was just coming out of the kitchen as he slid into his seat, two plates of stir-fry balanced on her arm waitress-style and two cups pinched in her opposite hand by the rims.

Peter relieved her of the glasses, filling them each from a pitcher of lemonade that she'd set out on the table as Aunt May set the food at each of their places, Peter's plate piled with almost twice the amount of food as hers.

"It smells amazing," he grinned, dropping back into his chair as she settled herself across from him.

"Go ahead, dig in," she chuckled. "I'm betting you haven't eaten anything all day."

"Is my stomach really growling that loud?" he asked sheepishly, the words muffled around a mouthful of stir-fry.

"No, I just know how you get when you're totally focused on something," she replied, spearing a mushroom with her fork and lifting it to her lips. "So what's tonight's plan?"

"Scan the city," Peter nodded, grabbing his glass and taking a few big gulps of lemonade to wash down the food before continuing. "See if there's any aliens creeping around here, and reassure people that the Avengers are on the case."

"Route?" she asked, turning in her chair to reach the cluttered little desk behind her so she could extract a notebook and pen.

"I figured I'd start with our neighborhood and circle out from there toward the train station."

"What did we figure for movement speed with the webs?" she asked as he stuffed another giant forkful of food in his mouth, his aunt clicking open her pen and sketching out a rough map of the area in little boxes.

"It's 'bout a block every two seconds if I'm going at a pretty steady pace."

"So if you're patrolling for the next couple hours, you can probably circle out as far as…" Aunt May paused, tapping her fingers on the paper to keep count as she ran mental calculations. "If you work in a grid pattern and move down, you can loop through Brooklyn and up through Manhattan, and circle back through the Bronx to hit the upper side of Queens on your way home, all in about two hours. Assuming that everything is clear."

"Yeah, all bets are off if I find one of those aliens," Peter grinned, scooping up another forkful of stir-fry. "They're nasty."

"What are you supposed to do if you find one, anyway?" his aunt asked, scribbling notes onto her paper.


Peter chewed hard, buying time as he wracked his brain. Had the strange Doctor-man given him any instructions for if he found an alien?

He couldn't recall anything specific, just that he was supposed to keep the peace and keep aliens out of the city. If he found one, was he supposed to kill it?

At that thought, Peter froze in horror.

Would he have to kill the aliens? He'd never killed anything least, nothing bigger than the occasional insect. And he'd even gotten more sensitive about that since the spider-bite.

He hadn't considered that he might be expected to take something's life...

"Peter?" Aunt May asked in vague concern, and he was quick to resume chewing so he could swallow, wincing a little as the food went down in a lump.

"Um...he didn't really...uh...specify."

"Well, I suppose we'll just have to take the same strategy as Spiderman does with criminals," she nodded, unfazed. "You subdue them and restrain them, and then we notify the proper authority to come pick them up. In this case I assume it would be the Avengers?"

"Y-yeah. Yeah, that sounds right," Peter nodded.

He slouched back into his chair in utter relief.

So he wouldn't have to kill them. Thank God.

He was desperately glad to have his aunt here to find him a solution so quickly, especially one that didn't involve leaving half a dozen unanswered voicemails for Mr. Stark to get.

"Now it is starting to get late," Aunt May murmured. "And I don't want you out too long after dusk if you can help it, so you're probably going to have to head out right after you finish eating. Dessert will just have to wait until you get back."

Peter nodded eagerly, shoveling another giant bite of stir-fry into his mouth.

"I'll get a map of the city pulled up on the computer, and you can keep me posted with your progress," she said, clicking the pen closed and setting it aside before starting back in on her own dinner. "We can flag any problem areas that might need further inspection tomorrow, once you've had a full night's sleep."

Peter blinked back at his aunt for a long moment, feeling something warm in his chest.

"Peter?" she asked with a little frown when she noticed him staring. "Is something wrong?"

"No!" he said quickly. "No, nothing's wrong. I just...I love you."

His aunt studied him for a second longer before shaking her head with a breathy laugh.

"I love you too, Peter."