Peter could have been woken up by a lot of things. He could have been woken up by the bright light above his medical bed, the beeping of the heart monitor beside his medical bed, the light hiss of the oxygen mask on his face, or even his aunt's voice. But, what he didn't expect to be woken up by was the tight restraint that was clenched around his left ankle.
Well, that, and the sound of Director Hayward yelling at Doctor Lewis and Agent Woo from outside his room.
"Are you two out of your damn minds?!" Peter heard and, in response, he shifted uncomfortably on his bed. Even though the two had asked him to come to the SWORD base so he could talk Wanda down, he still didn't like that they were getting in trouble because of him.
Doctor Lewis spoke next and Peter remembered her voice from when she spoke to him outside his cell in the Raft. "We were just trying to right a wrong, Director Hayward," she said, her voice steady. However, it seemed as if Hayward didn't even want to listen to what she had to say, as he cut her off as soon as she spoke.
"By blackmailing a government official?!" The man raised his voice.
"With all due respect, Director, New York law specifically states that a minor can't be held in custody for more than twelve hours until after their sentencing. Peter's seventeen, which means he's still considered a minor, and he hasn't even had his trial yet; and he's been held in the Raft for three weeks. It's not fair to him." He heard Agent Woo explain. But, with zero context and a probable concussion, Peter was scrambling to try and figure out what the three were talking about.
"Well," Director Hayward snapped, "since you feel so strongly about this topic, Agent Woo, then you can join Captain Rambeau and Dr. Lewis in being suspended for a week from any SWORD operations."
"But-" Dr. Lewis tried to cut in.
"And, since you two dragged Mr. Parker into this mess, without having him sign a physical contract, that means SWORD can be held legally liable for any action he decides to take against us. So, you two can spend the duration of your suspension keeping him company with Captain Rambeau while he rests in our med bay. And, if you two ever pull some shit like this again, I can personally assure you that you will never work in another high ranking position like this one. Is that understood?"
"Yes, sir," the two SWORD members said in unison.
"Good." The sound of Director Hayward's footsteps retreating reached his ears, and Peter immediately felt the guilt hit him. Both Agent Woo and Dr. Lewis seemed really nice, and he didn't mean to get any of them in trouble.
'I still would've saved Hayward though,' he thought to himself, ''if I had the chance to go back.' If he hadn't and he'd let Hayward get hurt, he'd probably be even more upset with them.
Seeing as that conversation had ended and that there was no one who'd be coming into his room for the time being, Peter decided to turn his attention to the next pressing issue; the restraint on his ankle. He wasn't the type to sit still for long periods of time, and he wanted out of this bed now.
Placing both his hands beside him, Peter pushed himself up and slipped the oxygen mask up and over his head. Then, once he had set it beside him, he had thrown the blankets off his body and tugged at the restraint harshly with his right hand, while using his left to hold his burning chest. Despite how much he pulled, though, the restraint wouldn't break, with or without his super strength.
"Come on!" He groaned, starting to get frustrated. "Why won't you break?"
"Because it's vibranium, courtesy of Wakanda." A voice startled him, and Peter nearly jumped out of his skin before he looked up and saw Captain Monica Rambeau standing at the entrance of the room, with an IV bag in her hands. "And, even if you do break it, you'll probably set an alarm off and get gunned down." She walked over and sat in the empty chair beside his bed, before setting the IV bag on the foldable table nearby and pushing a button the remote that was hanging off the bed's handle to elevate the cot he was on. "You're already indirectly in hot water with Hayward, so I wouldn't push it. It's for the best."
Peter nodded and relaxed against the bed, stopping abruptly to where she adjusted it into a forty-five degree angle, so his head and chest were slightly raised. Then, he asked the question he was dreading. "Are Agent Woo and Dr. Lewis mad at me? Are you mad at me?"
Monica's eyes softened and she shook her head. "Not at all," she replied, leaning forward with her hands clasped together and her elbows resting on her knees. "The only people they're upset with are Hayward and Secretary Ross, though it's more so Ross than anyone else. We know you were just trying to do some good. And Hayward's a pain in the ass, so let's just say I'd much rather spend my suspension around you than him."
Peter chuckled when she did, but it was more of a formality than him thinking her comment was funny. "Did they get Wanda out to negotiate?" he asked, hopefully.
Having started to hang up the recently-developed IV bag of pain meds on to the pole as soon as she finished her sentence, Monica stopped and paused when she heard the question. Briefly, Peter turned around and met her eyes, a look of regret and longing in them. "No," she spoke, though Peter already knew that from the expression in her eyes. "No, Peter, they didn't."
Peter nodded as Monica sat across from him again and sprayed some cold spray on his left hand this time, before inserting the IV needle and connecting it to the syringe attached to the bag hanging above them. A feeling of failure lingered at the back of his consciousness, threatening to take over and overwhelm him, but the sense of sleep, that was probably caused by the IV Monica had just inserted, was stronger; and, now that he thought about it, the burning in his chest had subsided as well.
"Normal medication doesn't work with your metabolism, " he remembered Tony saying, when he was in the compound's med bay one night, after breaking his leg on patrol. "Unfortunately, the big guy's tone missing, but luckily, he always has some stored away somewhere."
Peter nodded, the familiar sensation of sleep getting the better of him. "Thanks, Mr. Stark." He mumbled.
Tony gave a curt nod, and pulled the blankets up and over the bot he thought of as a son. "Go to sleep," he replied, "and I'll see you in the morning. Your aunt's gonna be here at ten a.m."
"Where did you guys get my pain meds?" Peter questioned. Tony had sold the tower seven years ago and moved everything to the compound and cabin, but the cabin was a good three, maybe four, hours away, and the compound was blown up back when they fought Thanos. "I thought Dr. Banner was missing."
"He is," Monica confirmed, as she grabbed the blankets up off the floor and set them back on top of his body. "After you got injured, it was chaos, but one of the EMTs managed to reach Dr. Cho. She's in Seoul right now, but she told us how to synthesize your medication."
Peter nodded, and felt his eyelids droop, as Monica reached over to the side of the bed for the oxygen mask and placed it back over his face. The mask blew a cool, steady stream of air at him, and Peter had to admit that it felt nice.
"Now, get some rest," Monica said from somewhere far away. "You still have a fever and a head injury and you need your sleep, Peter."
And with that, he allowed his eyes to fully close and fell into a deep sleep.
"Stand." Peter flashed a smile as he laid down his two tens, compared to Agent Woo's four and five, officially putting Peter on top, and winning four out of the seven games they had played in the past hour.
"Okay, no more Blackjack for you. From now on, we're playing Go Fish."
"For the record, I am a master at Go Fish." Peter shrugged, handing Agent Woo the cards, and watching as he filed them up and began shuffling. "If you really want to beat me, I'm notoriously bad at Uno."
"How can someone be notoriously bad at Uno?" Dr. Lewis questioned, as she opened the door and handed Jimmy his coffee. Placing the tray of hot drinks down on the table nearby, she had then opened the bag of Subway sandwiches and began handing them out. "It's one of the easier games."
Peter took his oxygen mask off and set it aside while he drank the apple juice Dr. Lewis got him. "See, you'd think that," he replied, "and then you go on a two hour bus ride on a field trip and get creamed." Peter smirked, recounting just how much Ned had beat him on the bus to Oscorp, before he got bitten by that stupid spider just a little after lunch and his day had went to shit.
Not wanting to focus on that, though, he snapped himself out of it. The last thing he needed was to start thinking about how if Ben and May hadn't relented from four days of begging and let him go on that field trip, he wouldn't even be in this mess; so, he distracted himself by focusing on the absence in the room. "Where's Captain Rambeau?" he asked.
At this, Darcy and Jimmy shot each other a concerned look, before Jimmy stood up and bolted away from the med bay and ran towards the exit. "What is it?" Peter questioned, worriedly. "Is she hurt?"
"No." Dr. Lewis shook her head and set her coffee down. "But she could get hurt. She's been trying to figure out how to get back inside."
"Inside the hex?" Peter asked, and when Dr. Lewis nodded, he threw off the blankets and pulled out his IV, before eying the vibranium restraint. Captain Rambeau had been thrown out of the hex, and Wanda didn't even mean to hit him.
"Peter, no-" Dr. Lewis started, but he cut her off, pleading.
"Dr. Lewis, help me out. Please." 'No one else can get hurt 'cause of me. I need to help Wanda and Captain Rambeau.'
"Peter, I can't."
"But I got through to her the first time! I can do it again, with more time, if you just let me out!"
"I'm not taking it off, Peter." Darcy refused, but before he could get upset with her, she added: "If they see you walking around, they'll probably shoot you on site. I can't believe I'm saying this, but it's probably safer if Monica goes in than if you go out there. She knows what she's doing, and you're already hurt. We can't let you get anymore injured."
'If we do,' Darcy thought, 'Hayward will have our ass.'
Peter let out a sigh and felt his shoulders drop. "But I just want to help," he protested.
Darcy couldn't help but feel bad for the boy and feel like she could relate to him. She wanted to help, too- that was the whole reason she took this job, after all (well, that, and she read that Monica would be on it). But the three of them were suspended, tasked with keeping Peter company, and they couldn't risk interfering or endangering themselves or anyone else.
"I know you do," she stated. "But, you're going back home in four days, Peter, and there's nothing you can do; and, as much as I don't like what Monica's doing, she's smart and if anyone's going to find a safe way back inside the hex, it's her."
"Okay." Peter relented, even though there was still a part of him wanting to go stop what was most likely taking place, but he ended up just leaning against the bed and letting Darcy put the IV back in his hand. "It sucks, not being able to do anything though. I was brought here to help..." he trailed off, trying to keep his tears at bay with everything crashing down on him. Europe, losing Tony, Beck... "And I can't even do that."
Darcy swallowed, pulling the blankets back over him, and he could feel the effects of the medication start to take him over, replacing his sadness with extreme tiredness. "You should get some rest." She told him, pulling the oxygen mask over his face. "Jimmy and I will handle the Monica situation."
Peter ended up drifting off really quickly after that.
Peter felt both relief and shame as he was put under house arrest and was being driven home. Familiarity and some sense of freedom? Good. Arrested for something he didn't even do? Bad.
"It's not too tight, right?" Agent Woo asked, as he adjusted the ankle monitor on Peter's left foot, which had taken the place of the restraint. "Because it's gonna stay there for twelve months before your case is reviewed, and I can adjust it if you need to."
Peter shook his head, as Dr. Lewis started to parallel park and, soon enough, the van came to a stop. "It's okay," he replied, as he held his hands out and, in response, Jimmy began to take off his handcuffs. "I'm sorry I wasn't able to help you guys with Wanda, though, and I'm sorry I got you and Dr. Lewis in trouble." 'And I'm sorry about Monica,' he added in his head. She'd disappeared just before Darcy came back with the Subway sandwiches, and he hadn't seen her since. He had a feeling she went back into the hex again.
"It's okay," Jimmy said, as he tucked the key into his pocket and held on to Peter's elbow, before leading him out of the van. "My biggest goal right now is getting you home, and…" The two stood on the sidewalk leading up to the stairs outside of the apartment building. "...Here we are."
Making their way inside the building and elevator, Peter pushed the button that was simply labelled "3" before asking one of the questions that was lingering on his mind. "You told her, right?" he asked. "About me coming home?"
"Yeah, I told her." Agent Woo nodded as the elevator stopped and let go of Peter's elbow so they could walk over to May's unit. Peter took his time and relished in the little things, like sticking his key in the lock and opening it, and inhaling the smell of Thai food that May must've ordered for his return.
That's when he saw her. She had walked out of the small study, with her hair pulled into a ponytail and glasses perched on her nose, but stopped when she saw them. "Peter!" She gasped, her hands moving to her mouth, and Peter just offered her a small before taking in the embrace of her hug. "Baby, I- Where have you been? I've been looking for you! I can't believe you're finally home."
"Hey, May," he stated, as he buried his nose in her shoulder and took in the scent of her shampoo. She smelled like cinnamon and strawberries, and Peter had to admit that it was a nice change of pace from the smell of medicine and antiseptic. "And I know, I'm so sorry. It's been crazy."
"That's okay." May squeezed him once more before letting go of him, and Peter winced at the too-hard touch. Though the burn he had had been more or less taken care of, his chest and abdomen were still sore and he still had bandages wrapped around it. "Are you okay?" she asked, upon seeing the pinch of pain on his face. "You're not hurt, are you? I was so worried."
Peter opened his mouth to respond, but Jimmy beat him to it. "He's still a little bit injured," the agent spoke up. "Mostly healed now, but there was an accident at the base and he got caught in the crossfire. Peter will have to take it easy for the next few days."
May nodded in understanding, and turned back to her nephew. "Okay... go shave, okay?" she instructed, placing her hands on his shoulders. "I ordered some Thai food and bought some shampoo and body wash, so I wanna see you with wet hair and clean clothes when you come back out here."
"I know." Peter chuckled, taking in the sense of normalcy, before he turned back to Agent Woo. "Can I go get settled in?"
"Yeah." The man nodded. "I just need to discuss the terms of your house arrest with your aunt, and then I'll be on my way."
And with that, Peter practically dashed to his room, but that's when the pang hit him of how he had left it. His stuff was still packed up from The Blip, the light switch was still taped over, and the small post-it note with 'don't turn off the light' scrawled on it was still hanging over it; May hadn't touched his room.
He peeled off the loosely-fitting S.W.O.R.D shirt and pants and slid into a pair of sweats and his Midtown sweatshirt, before taking a breath; despite the room having a thick layer of dust on it, from both the trip and then the arrest, it smelled like his room. It smelled like home.
He was home.