Bang Goes The (Firework)
The bang shouldn’t have taken Peter by surprise. He had known this was coming. Had known what was going to happen. Curling up in a ball he took deep breaths, clutching his blanket in his hands. He was in his room, he tried to remind himself. He was in his bedroom in the new apartment where Ben had never lived which a small part of him suspected that they’d only been able to afford because of a certain billionaire, but according to May, it was because she’d gotten a raise.
The sounds came one after the other and he held his breath, trying not to see it. Trying not to remember. The bang…it was too familiar. All he could see was the gun…his uncle, laying so still on the ground. The way the blood had stained his blue t-shirt, the one he’d bought along with five others in different colors when there had been a sale. But he wasn’t in that alley and he wasn’t even outside and those weren’t gunshots! Fireworks, he reminded himself over and over. They were fireworks.
He wanted to reach for his phone…maybe call Ned and get his friend to talk to him for a little while. Or he could text MJ about the real origins of their country and read her essay length response, one of his favorite things to do. But his hands were pressed to his ears and even that offered too little protection from the explosions outside.
Bang. Bang. Bang.
Bang go the fireworks. Bang goes the gun.
He could call Mr. Stark. Make up a problem with the suit and have the man walk him through fixing it. He could break something…tear the tracker out again and claim it was an accident. And then Mr. Stark would have him come by…maybe send Happy for him. But Peter didn’t want to leave the apartment. Didn’t want to venture outside where the noise would only be louder and where people, including Happy, might see the tear tracks on his face.
Why was he crying? They were fireworks!
But Ben was lying in the alley, his breaths sounding weaker and weaker, a sickening gurgling noise that Peter would never be able to unhear. He’d been crying too hard to even try to comfort him. Instead, Peter had dropped to his knees at his side, clutching for his hand, and whispering his name over and over.
He had called an ambulance, he remembered as another firework went off. Had held the phone with a bloody hand as the operator had answered. “911 what is your emergency?”
“My uncle….someone shot him…please…”
He’d stammered out a location, and then he’d been gripping his uncle’s hands and sobbing out his name and the blood had soaked into his skin and no matter how much he had scrubbed that night…
“Peter?” He jumped when a hand touched his shoulder, another firework exploding into a gunshot in his mane, and then May was there, a gentle hand pressed to his cheek and wiping away a tear. “Hey, baby, what’s wrong?” she asked, taking a seat on his bed beside him.
Peter took a shuddering breath, flinching when another firework went off. And he was there. He was in the alley and his heart was racing and someone was holding him so tightly, one hand holding the back of his head to a soft shoulder, the other wrapped around him.
“Oh Peter….you’re safe. You’re safe, baby. You’re safe. It’s okay. You’re safe.”
“Ben…the gun, he…”
“You’re not there,” she whispered, her voice catching. “You’re not there, baby. You’re safe. You’re home.”
“It’s my fault,”
“No,” she told him firmly before he could start to spiral. “Not at all. Not even a little. Ben loved you so much, baby. He’d never want you to think that. Neither do I.” Her arms tightened when he flinched again, and this time it sounded like the fireworks were right outside their window.”
“I had my powers…”
“I don’t care. It wasn’t your fault. You were his everything, Peter. He loved you more than life itself. None of it was your fault.”
Another firework went off and Peter could barely hear her words. Could barely focus on her arms wrapped tight around him as he shook.
She shifted, just a little, and Peter pinned his hands over his ears as she tapped at her phone.
Bang went the firework and bang went the gun and he couldn’t get out of that alley. He couldn’t stop shaking as he held his uncle’s hand and whispered his name over and over, choking on his words and sobbing and begging as May held him and rocked him back and forth, promising over and over again that he was safe. That he was okay. That he was home.
Another person stepped into the room at some point. May didn’t let him go, nor did her heartbeat speed up. Peter’s spider senses were fried, but they didn’t feel like a threat and he wasn’t in his room anyway. He was in the alley and the gun went off and his uncle was dying and all around him was the sound of the gun until…until it was quiet.
The silence made him jump, and he brought a hand up to his head, fingers finding thick plastic. When he looked up, he saw Mr. Stark kneeling beside him, a slight, sad smile on his face as he rested a hand on Peter’s shoulder. “Better?” he mouthed.
Peter swallowed hard, the tension draining from his body as he gave a weak nod, and the man patted his shoulder a little awkwardly, nodding and stepping back as May pulled him back into a firm embrace, her arms helping to soothe the shaking that he couldn’t control. A blanket was draped over him, probably by Mr. Stark, and then the man was stepping out of the room, shutting the door behind him as he tried to fight the embarrassment. What must the man think of him. How could he expect Mr. Stark to take him seriously as a hero when he was afraid of fireworks? When just the sounds sent him back to that alley where his dead uncle died over and over?
Mr. Stark left his room, and Peter didn’t know if he went into the living room or left the apartment altogether, but May stayed right where she was, her arms around him like another blanket keeping him warm and safe until the shaking finally, finally stopped, leaving him too exhausted for words.
He could feel her talking to him…could feel the soft, soothing words that he couldn’t hear. But he knew what she was saying.
“You’re safe. You’re safe. You’re safe.”
(I literally just wrote this in bed because all of my neighbors are shooting off fireworks and one neighbor is shooting his gun and my poor tiny dog is terrified.)