They file the papers with Shuri’s help the next week, just as the temperature drops to a true wintry freeze.
“You sure?” Peter asks MJ, before they hand over the final folder.
She just reaches over and hugs his neck. “Dude, we’re gonna be parents.”
“Hey, wait ‘til the papers go through,” Shuri reminds them.
MJ quirks a brow at her, a rising Are you serious? smirk on her lips.
Peter grins, looking between them. “Parents!”
“Of a live human child,” Shuri says evenly. “So no tossing stunts, eh?”
Peter frowns. “It was a flour bag.”
“Three,” MJ deadpans. “And you still failed the assignment.”
“But! I passed the class.”
“Bartering is a sign of desperation,” Shuri snickers.
“So that’s why you do that so much,” MJ smirks at her husband.
Peter sticks his tongue out at her.
“And…here,” Shuri says, inserting one more paper and passing them a thick folder.
MJ takes it. “And an Arabic teacher?”
“An Egyptian-American professor at NYU, and all the accolades and honors that come with that.”
“Willing to teach two knuckleheads and a kid?” Peter asks, a brow raised.
“She’s had to deal with worse.”
“That’s where you were supposed to tell us we’re not knuckleheads,” MJ blanks.
Shuri smiles innocently. “Oh. Well. Too bad.”
MJ flips her off.
“I control the paperwork, Jones.”
MJ continues flipping her off.
“Dedication,” Shuri nods. “Respectable.”
“Mood,” Peter says, leaning forward. “So how long before we hear anything?”
“A couple months,” Shuri says, fixing up some things in a drawer. “You’re all set with the home requirements, so I can expedite everything else.”
“We’re really doing this,” MJ blanks.
Shuri puts a hand out, right by the folder. “If you’re having second thoughts…”
“No,” MJ replies immediately, flinching back. Her eyes are a barricade. “Maysa’s…no. No second thoughts.”
Peter squeezes her hand, smiling softly. “In it?”
MJ smiles back, nodding. “In it.”
“Let’s do this,” Shuri grins, standing. “Welcome to parenthood, Parkers!”
“I thought you said to wait for the papers?”
“We’ve settled this, Jones.”
“I know, annoying you is just funny.”
Shuri frowns. “Leave. Don’t you have a meeting?”
MJ stands, cheeks rising with her smirk. “Naw, but I’m game to pretend.” She tugs a snickering Peter along with one hand and grips the folder tightly in the other. “Bye, Shuri.”
Shuri flips them off as they walk out. “And close the door!”
“Dude! Guess what happened today?”
“You broke your leg.”
“MJ sent me the video of you trying to use the shooters.”
“So…wanna help get me home?”
“I can’t believe a day off basically means I’m everyone’s Uber,” Peter laughs, hopping off the couch.
“Yeah, you can.”
“I should start charging.”
“Sure, dude. And I’m gonna run for president.”
“Hey. I could force you to pay.”
“Uhhh, yeah, okay.”
“What? Like, half the time you’re staring at MJ like you’re seventeen again, and the other half you’re obsessively checking your adoption status. You’re the least threatening superhero in existence.”
“I’m not gonna argue ‘cause you didn’t use my voice against me.”
“Nah, dude. Doesn’t even matter. You’re literally too nice. It’s awesome.”
“Are you just saying that because I’m going to pick you up?”
“No, you’re my bro, and I love you.”
“…But MJ’s glaring at me, so yeah, it’s also ‘cause you’re picking me up.”
“Do her glasses add that much power?”
“She only uses them when she’s super tired which means she’s also cranky, so—OW—it’s the truth! It’s the TRUTH, MJ!”
“Doesn’t mean you should say it, nerdhead!” MJ’s voice goes in the background.
“Hey, wait, if MJ’s there how come she can’t bring you home?”
“She has a surprise meeting with Pepper and T’Challa to fix something about a…water tank, right? MJ?”
“A water tank.”
“Who blew it up?”
Peter can hear the smirk in Ned’s voice. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”
“You know, when me and MJ have kids, you’ll have to wait ‘til they’re grown for me to do this kinda stuff again.”
“That’s a lie, you’ll just take Maysa and whoever else with you,” MJ quips.
“…Did you put me on speaker?”
“It was easier,” Ned says.
“Fair. Which wing are you at?”
“Main. I’ll be by the staircase.”
“Got it. Hey, M, where’s the meeting at?”
“I told you!” Ned exclaims, “The glasses—”
“Here’s good, Hap.” A door opening. “Later, Pete. Don’t fall off the bridge.”
“Wait, Happy’s there? Why—”
“Wow, love you, too.”
“Love you, MJ!” Pause.
Steps. A door closing.
“…But Happy’s there.”
“I have a job, you know,” Happy says. “I’m not a shuttle service.”
Ned uhhhs. “But Happy, you dropped off Wanda and Hope before MJ—”
“Parker, get your butt over here before I break Leeds’ other leg.”
“On it, Hap,” Peter laughs, swinging at new speeds. “Karen, activate GPS, please.”
(Ned sleeps over the entire week, and Week Two starts with Shuri getting back from an embassy trip and fixing him up, much to his annoyance at losing “sick guest privileges” in the Parker household, i.e. Peter and MJ bringing him food and drinks in his room.
“You say that like those aren’t your regular guest privileges,” MJ says, frowning.
“The aesthetic, MJ,” Ned says, dramatically sighing.
“Listen, if you want another broken leg that bad, my car’s parked out front.”
“…Aesthetics are for losers anyway…”)
“Good to know I’d have to clear out a Stew Leonard’s before you can get tipsy,” MJ says, watching Peter walk straight down toward the hall like a boss.
Bucky’s passed out on the table in the common room, surrounded by phone-wielding Avengers & Friends taking selfies and filtered videos of the supersoldier.
Ned’s standing on the table, collecting and distributing bet charges like an auctioneer, Kamala by his feet acting as the collector. Ned salutes Peter as he leaves, and the rest of the crowd cheers in good humor.
“Happy?” Peter asks MJ, flexing when he reaches the doorway.
He flexes again, emulating Hercules.
“You’re not buff enough to pull off that pose,” MJ snorts, taking a picture.
“Accept that I’m hot, MJ!”
MJ walks up, poking his side. “Buddy, you already won me money—don’t push your luck.”
“But just between us?” Peter asks waggling his brows.
“Bye,” MJ deadpans, pushing him back with her pointer finger and walking away.
“Nooo!” he laughs, reaching for her dramatically, “MJ! Come back!”
She throws back The Finger as she makes her way to her office.
Baby, come back! rings through the hall behind Peter, and he turns to find Shuri blasting music from her beads, like the excellent wingman she is.
MJ pointedly covers her ears, elbows up and head shaking as she lets out a long, annoyed, “Auuuuuuughhhh…”
“I love you!” Peter yells with a laugh, hands cupped over his mouth.
“Go away!” MJ yells back, speed-walking to the elevator. “You, too, Shuri!”
“This isn’t how those 80s films ended,” Shuri muses, watching MJ aggressively press the Close Door button in the elevator and sending death glares their way.
“It’s ‘cause you didn’t use a boombox,” Peter shrugs, hands shoved in his pockets.
The elevator closes, and the last thing they see is an annoyed, middle-finger-wielding MJ.
Shuri clicks her tongue. “You’re right. I’ll work on that next.” She pats his shoulder. “Congrats on getting Barnes in a blackout.”
“Congrats on the new schools.”
“The only bet I’m glad I switched sides on, and a worthy cause to drink to.”
“I feel like that needs a disclaimer, considering all your kids are…kids,” Peter says, scrunching up his face.
“It’s going to be listed as a donation from my brother,” Shuri grins mischievously. “Only the people present today and wild internet conspiracists will think otherwise.”
“I thought you had a transparency rule?”
“I never said I wasn’t part of the wild internet conspiracist community.”
“I’m,” Peter squints, walking backwards, “I’m gonna. Go. Plausible deniability.”
Shuri guffaws. “Your remedial law classes are going well, eh?”
Peter scrunches up his face. “I wouldn’t call them classes—”
“MJ’s running commentary and fact-checking when you watch Law & Order, then.”
Peter grins and starts walking off, arms crossed in a salute. “You know it. Later, Shuri.”
She nods at him, reentering the common room.
Peter laughs, hearing her voice echo in the hallway:
“Hey, White Wolf! Come on, wake up! I need to see how well you can bob and weave while heavily intoxicated! It’s for science!”
Snow keeps them inside and criminals second-guessing.
Snow keeps them huddled under blankets, and Peter taking pictures and videos of MJ while she draws, lying on her belly, headphones and glasses on and ignoring his dumb, beautiful, bearded face, because I haven’t drawn in a week and I’ll just end up making out with you.
“I don’t see the problem there,” he grins, zooming in and out in the video and making random sound effects.
MJ frowns at him and his phone, but her cheeks are puffed and he sees the tint.
“…Laugh it up, see where that gets you.”
“You are,” he says, poking at her cheek gleefully.
Her nostrils twitch a flare, losing the battle.
“You a-aa-aaare,” Peter sing-songs, planting a loud, messy smooch on her cheek.
MJ uses her pencil’s eraser to push him back. She’s shaking her head, the laughter fighting to escape her barely-frowning lips. “Bro.”
“I love you, bro.”
“Wow,” MJ half-gawks, half-smiles, scoffing lightly. “You’re mean now.”
Peter buries his head into her side, hugging her there. “Sassy, like you.”
“Oh, yeah, like Ned.”
MJ reaches back, hooking her arm over his shoulders and tugging him up.
“Hello,” Peter says, smiling.
“Hiya,” MJ smiles back, her other hand resting on her ignored sketchbook.
“You draw nice,” he says dumbly, a goofy, dazed grin on his face.
“Thanks,” she says, smiling wider. Her pencil finds itself lying in the fold, discarded. She releases his shoulders.
“Aw, MJ, it’s so cold,” Peter pouts, catching her arm and returning it to her position on his shoulders.
“The heater’s at 70°F, boo.”
“So explain why your feet are ice.”
“My feet are always ice. I’m like the Hulk but for cold feet.”
“I knew you were chickening out at the wedding.”
“Rude, I had a fever the day before and you know it.”
“Hey,” Peter says abruptly, turning to lie on his back to look up at her, her arm held steady across his chest. “It’s our last winter alone for the next…twelve? Years? At least.”
“Thanks,” MJ mumbles to him, closing her sketchbook absentmindedly.
“You’re the best.”
Peter shrugs, but his face reddens.
MJ puts the sketchbook on her side table and curls up next to him, tugging him closer. “Thank you,” she mumbles again, by his heart.
“I’ll always wait for you,” he whispers into her hair, smiling softly. “You have better timing, anyway.”
“Mhmm. Hug me.”
(He hugs her.)
They stay there, cuddled and huddled under the covers, the only sound being their steady breathing. They stay there, in peace, until Karen’s voice rings:
“Emergency alert at Queens Center Mall. Reports of two armed masked suspects. Emergency alert at—”
“Be back in a bit,” Peter says, kissing MJ’s forehead and lips.
“Mmk,” she mumbles, sitting up as he changes into his suit. She blinks back the drowsiness. “Did Ned get the upgrades in?”
“You gotta shut it off if you’re going to the mall—you don’t want any bullets ricocheting.”
“Yes ma’am,” he says, hands already working on a hologram coming from his shooters. “And—there.”
MJ grabs her tablet from a bedside drawer, opening up the holograms. “You think Ned got the alert?”
Peter checks the clock.
“He might be on the road,” Peter says, the frown visible through his mask. “I can call him on the way?”
“Nah, I got it.” Blue light reflects off her skin and the comforter as MJ opens up security camera footage from the mall and presses a logo with Ned’s face on it. She picks up her comms, waving briefly at Peter as he jumps out the window.
Sound crackles; Karen’s voice and sounds from the mall filling MJ’s ears. “Sound off,” she says with a yawn.
“Spidey-Prime, check—let’s hit it!”
“Ew, I’m not playing background music for you.”
“Spiderling, present—did you just wake up?”
“Sounds it—it’s Ya Boi, reportin’ for duty!”
“Not gonna lie, Ned—I miss when you were just, like, Eagle One.”
“Focus,” a familiar voice says.
“Whoa, what?” MJ says, straightening. “Cap? You’re here this week?”
“Kamala’s off with Clint, and with all the team news, I thought it would be good to get a hang of everyone’s system,” Carol replies with a lilt.
“Haha!” Ned laughs, the distant sound of cars honking heard from his end, “Miles is getting vetted!”
“I will neither confirm nor deny.”
An anguished groan—MJ’s screen reads it as coming from Miles’ suit.
Snickering. “Hey, little man—you dyin’ already? It says here you aren’t even at Queens Boulevard yet—”
“Ha. Ha,” Miles says, annoyed. “Funny.”
“Alright, I’m near the parking building,” Peter says, voice echoing with the modified version.
“Spiderling, you shut off the ricochet, right?” Ned asks, suddenly serious.
“Yessir, Ya Boi Eagle One.”
“We’ve got one guy with a gun and another with an unidentified blaster,” Carol says. Something on her end rattles.
“You in a car, Cap?” MJ asks, opening up another screen and trying to find the masked men.
“Bruce is training with T’Challa downstairs.”
“Ah.” Swipe. “Oh, hey. Got ‘em. Apple store.”
Carol hums, thinking. “Miles, ETA?”
“Here,” he responds, huffing lightly. “Which side is the Apple store?”
“I’m sending you the map,” Ned says. “The mall’s been cleared out, Pete. Your EMP should take care of the blaster.”
“Got it,” Peter replies. His dot on MJ’s screen moves back and forth—probably swinging people away from the building. “Karen, what’s the quickest route?” the team hears him say, but ignore the question.
“Miles, you’re on gun duty,” MJ says, eyeing the screen with the robbers. They’re jumpy, aimlessly threatening the remaining shoppers in the store. “They look new, so don’t swing in.”
“Right!” Miles says, his dot edging closer to the store.
“Alright, team,” Carol says over another rattle.
Peter’s dot stops around a corner from the store, and Miles’ dot continues on inside, his form not showing up on the video feed.
MJ hears the smile in Carol’s voice. “Let’s get this done clean and quick, copy?”
She grins, too, joining the chorus:
“Aye, aye, Cap’n!”
(They’re two new, young guys with too much fear in their eyes and a mountain of debt in their bank accounts.
Nobody gets hurt, and it’s over in seconds because they’re too scared to fight back.
Spider-Man hands them a business card for one of MJ’s old Harvard roommates, and tells them to, “Tell her you need help with your bank stuff,” as they get escorted out of the mall and into police cars.
Spiderling gives them a pat on the shoulder each, and wishes them goodluck.)
Peter’s quiet when he gets home, going through the motions of cleaning up and eating dinner.
MJ quirks a brow at him, but respects his silence, keeping herself nearby as he lazes about the living room ceiling.
Exhale. “…So if everything goes well, I’m retiring,” Peter says finally, after an hour of waiting. His leg bounces, but there’s a small smile on his face.
“Okay,” MJ replies with a disbelieving snort. She flips the page on her book, feet dangling off the back of the couch as she reads upside down.
“I’ll believe it when I see it, Spidey.”
“There it is,” MJ smirks, pointing at him with her book. “The truth shall set you free.”
“And I think they just call that paternity leave,” she jokes. “At least, in Europe.”
He flips down, standing on the seat beside her with his hands on his hips. “I’m serious.”
“Peter,” MJ says, something shining in her eyes, “babe, half-arachnid, love of my teenage to adult life—you don’t have to quit being Spider-Man for me. I never wanted you to, and I’m not going to ask you to just because we’re having a kid.”
“I’m not doing it for you.”
MJ raises a brow at him, slowly.
“…Okay, I’m mostly doing it for you,” Peter says, wrinkling his nose. “But also for Maysa.”
“You’re not gonna last,” MJ deadpans, returning to her book. “Like, I believe in you and whatever, but you’re garbage at sitting still.”
“Tough love, Boo-Man.”
“I just wanna make sure she’s gonna grow up with both parents,” Peter sighs, slumping down on the seat.
“I am far more likely to die in a car accident than you are from saving people.”
“…I feel like those statistics are super wrong.”
“They are,” MJ blanks, peeking over her book. “It was a joke.”
Peter rolls his eyes.
MJ smirks briefly, but moves to sit right side up. She leans her head on his shoulder, lacing her fingers with his. “You’re not gonna die.”
“You don’t know that.”
“I know. But I don’t think you will.”
“You…you’re, um,” she starts, swallowing. She scrunches up her face, briefly checking the ceiling for a coherent answer. “You’re like, steady, you know? Like the sun. You can’t kill the sun.”
She feels Peter scrunch up his face. “I’ve legally died at least four times, dude.”
“But not permanently.”
“…Or have I?”
“That would be very, very awkward,” MJ says, turning to face him.
“My real name is Peter Boonjamin Poltergeister,” Peter says, puckering his lips. “Pleased tah meetcha.”
She shoves a hand in his face, pushing him away. “Loser.”
He kisses the palm of her hand. “Yours.”
(There are several fluttering sensations overtaking MJ’s gut, and she’s not about to fight them.)
“C’mere,” she laughs softly, leaning in to kiss him. She wraps her arms around his neck, holding him close as she pulls away. “You’re gonna be a great dad,” she whispers, a hard honesty in her eyes and voice. “And you’re gonna keep being a great superhero. And you’re not gonna die, because you’re too cool for that.”
Peter gasps. “Did you just say I was cool?”
She frowns at him. “We’re having a moment.”
“Yeah, and in that moment, you said I was cool.”
“I just, you know, the confirmation—it would be nice,” Peter says casually, but there’s a smirk hiding as he holds her in place.
“Fine, you’re officially upgraded to Borderline Cool,” MJ says evenly. “Until further notice.”
He shrugs, grinning dopily. “I’ll take it. Continue.”
“That was it, that was the end of the moment,” she deadpans, shrugging as she releases him.
“Aw, lame,” Peter pouts, taking hold of one of her hands and intertwining his fingers with hers. “Can I bother you while you read?”
MJ snorts, returning to her upside down position. “You can try.”
(He stays upside down with her on the couch, fingers woven and arms crossed over the other.
They fall asleep to a story about flowers on a hill and coming home.)
They start on the Arabic lessons early, learning some basic terms of endearment and completely butchering the formal version of the language.
“Too phlegmy,” Professor Rania Seddik says. “But good try.”
Peter clears his throat a couple times. “Should I go more hacksaw?”
“Learning pronunciation is always so weird,” MJ says, squinting at the Arabic script in her book.
“Just wait—Egyptian Arabic will be the death of you, I guarantee,” Rania says, smiling widely. “You’ll be glad I’m teaching you the formal first.”
“I hear it’s all slang.”
“You hear right, Mrs. Parker.”
MJ fights back her smile. “You know you can call me Michelle.”
“Peter may have paid me to keep it up for a couple of weeks, seeing as you get giddy every time I call you Mrs. Parker.”
MJ glares at Peter, but the frown does not win, and her cheeks go hot.
“Heehee. You’re blushing,” Peter says from his perch on the professor’s desk, looking like a smug raccoon from a Disney movie.
Rania quirks a brow, looking at MJ in confusion. “Is she?”
“It’s subtle,” MJ grinds out, nostrils flaring slightly as she cools off, “but he’s known me long enough to tell.”
“I love my wife very much, professor,” Peter says matter-of-factly, swinging his legs.
Rania smiles, shuffling around some papers. She passes them a worksheet each. “I can tell. Habibi and habibti, then—shall we see them used in a sentence?”
“Yo, you there?”
“Yeah, Shuri. It’s me and Pete. Go.”
“Hope you’re sitting down.”
“You’re all cleared! Congrats, nerds!”
(Peter accidentally dents the car roof in his excitement.)
“…What was that?”
“Nothing important—when can we take her home?”
“Few more weeks, gotta settle some stuff on her end. Nothing that can change the status, so don’t worry about it.”
“Yeah. I’m going to streamline this bank business, get it all set up before she moves in.”
(Peter starts sniffling.)
“…Uh, are you sure everything’s okay?”
“Yup. Yes. It’s—Peter, I need that hand, babe—it’s all good, Shu. Thanks again, dude.”
“You’re surprisingly calm.”
“I’m literally only keeping it together because I’m driving.”
“How many squirrels have you almost run over?”
“So, so many.”
Whistle. “You are freaking out.”
“Yeah, but he’s always worse.”
“I can hear you, you know,” Peter whines.
“I know, it would be irresponsible for MJ to not be on speakerphone in the car. Wassup, noob?”
“He almost broke the roof,” MJ snorts.
“I definitely broke the roof!” Peter yells, ecstatic. “I’m gonna be a dad! I’M GONNA BE A DAD!”
“My ears, O Loud One,” MJ winces, frowning.
“Same,” Shuri says, sounding pained.
“Serves you right, keeping that comm in your ear all day long!” Peter continues in his loud, cheery voice. “I’m gonna be a dad!” He turns to his wife, who is currently driving them into the highway and attempting to not freak out. “You’re gonna be a mom! May’s gonna be a grandma!”
“I have dibs on godmother,” Shuri says.
(It doesn’t sound up for debate.)
“Our friends are gonna be godparents!” Peter cheers again, face alight. His hands dance around the car, moving rapidly as his excitement rises. He moves to open the window, but MJ clicks on the lock, so he settles for yelling: “WOOOOOOOOOOO!”
“I’m going to die here,” MJ chuckles, half-deadpan and unable to stop smiling. “Aight, Shuri, see you tomorrow—I gotta try to get us home safe now.”
“Peace, Parkers—and congratulations, my friends.”
(They only almost get into an accident eight times, which is impressive in a Bad, Nope, Never Again way.)
MJ visits Maysa at the rec center, and now Peter stops by more and more to pick her up after work, and they hang around with their soon-to-be child.
Sometimes Ned’s there instead of Peter.
Sometimes it’s May.
“Ms. May!” Maysa cheers, every time the elder Parker lady arrives on the scene, long hair flying as she picks up the little girl.
“Hey, sweetie,” May grins, giving the child a peck on the cheek. “You excited?”
Maysa nods fervently, arms tight around May’s neck. “Princess Shuri said two more weeks!”
MJ smiles, watching them interact.
It’s easier than thinking.
(MJ keeps feeling a tug in her gut to try harder at getting in touch with her parents, but that doesn’t work out too well, so she lets it go.
At least May’s the greatest parental unit to live on this fine planet, and is therefore also the greatest grandparental unit she has ever crossed paths with, bar none, by default.)
“MJ…are you…stress cleaning?” Peter asks, watching her roam the house, vacuum in hand, back turned to him.
She freezes. “…No.”
“You are,” Peter says, a wide smile creeping onto his face. “You’re stress cleaning! Because Maysa’s coming next week!”
“I am not, I am just,” she huffs, facing him. “Fulfilling my New Year’s resolution. Of being tidier.”
“We have a mostly self-cleaning house.”
“Robots can’t catch everything.”
“I think it’s hot,” Peter says casually, but his cheeks are red.
“You think me, in my entirety, is hot.”
MJ furrows her brows. “‘Am’? ‘Am hot’?” She tilts her head, scrunching up her face. “…I’m forgetting basic grammar.”
Peter smirks. “That’s hot, too.”
“I will use this vacuum to end you,” MJ glares, tilting the machine in his direction. “I hear it’s hot in Hell.”
Peter throws his hands up, the blush dissipating as he laughs smugly. “Sure, yeah, you wanna go clean up over there, too?”
“Not a word,” MJ hisses. “Not a single word to Ned, got it?”
Peter’s already got his phone out. “Didn’t say anythin’ ‘bout Shuri…” he says, hopping around the room as he dodges his wife’s swipes.
“Buh-bye, now, MJ,” Peter snickers, sneaking out a window, “—oh, and you missed a spot!”
(He comes back with hot chocolate and an extra large pack mozzarella sticks and she doesn’t try to test the vacuum’s ability to suck in a human being.)
The entire process started a snowball the second it started, and by the end of the waiting period Maysa’s room is stocked with paints and clays of all textures (care of Tony), and several language books (care of Nat and Wanda).
Shuri and Ned, ever the insane godparents, have the room lined with so many security features that Peter and MJ wonder if they’re really the ones adopting the kid.
(“We…we’re the only ones who can access these cameras, right?” Peter had asked, fear maxed and looking it.
“Unless you die,” Ned had deadpanned.
Peter had stared at MJ.
MJ had cleared her throat, still as a statue. “…Don’t make any sudden movements.”
Ned had frowned. “We’re not gonna kill you.”
Shuri had scoffed. “Speak for yourself.”
MJ had turned her head slowly, enough to flick her eyes at her husband. “Aight. In my professional opinion, it’s constitutional to web these two.”
And that’s how Ned and Shuri really got webbed together by the elevator at the Avengers’ East Wing.)
“Oof,” Peter breathes, moving the last bit of furniture into place. For all his teasing of MJ’s stress cleaning, he’d been arranging and rearranging Maysa’s room any chance he got for the past week. “That should do it.”
MJ squints at him. “You said that the last four times you moved something. This morning.”
“Well…well, we have to leave…so…” Peter fails at arguing, a pout barely masking his embarrassment.
“Mmk.” She chucks him the car keys.
He quirks a brow.
“You're calm enough, have better reflexes, and I’m shaky,” MJ explains matter-of-factly, shrugging on a jacket.
Peter takes a deep breath, nodding. “Okay. Woo. Let’s…” he starts, grinning widely. He nods erratically. “Let’s go pick up our kid.”
A breeze flits into the hall, the windows redirecting the cool air this way and that.
(It was a joint collaboration between Shuri and a group of older kids at her original school, and it became a staple in all her buildings.)
They sit again, start tapping everything around them, and go back to standing.
“Spring,” MJ laughs disbelievingly as they wait outside Shuri’s office.
“What about it?” Peter asks, tilting his head, an arm around her waist.
Her eyes shine when she glances at him. “New life.”
Peter thinks, Poetic, but all he does is smile at her proudly, tugging her closer. His arms move around her waist as he puts his hands into her jacket pockets, intertwining fingers with hers. He rests his chin on her shoulder, humming quietly to no set tune as they wait.
“Hey, Mayday, you ready?” Shuri’s voice says from behind the closed door.
“Okay, come on, yeah?”
The door opens quietly, and Maysa steps on ahead, a hand barely holding Shuri’s. “MJ!”
MJ grins at the child by her feet, and Peter peels away quietly, watching them.
“Hey, Maysa,” MJ says, going down to eye level. She opens her arms. “You ready?”
The child jumps in, and MJ feels the breath knocked out of her by sheer feelings.
“Thank you,” Maysa whispers, digging her face into MJ’s shoulder.
MJ hugs her tightly. “Love you, kid. Wanna say hi to your new dad?”
Maysa looks up abruptly, grinning. “Mr. Peter!”
Peter crouches behind MJ, eyes and nose already red. He reaches an arm over both of them, never breaking eye contact with his daughter. “Hey, sweetie. You excited?”
Maysa nods fervently.
“Good,” Peter says, forming a group hug. “We are, too.”
(Shuri doesn’t bother asking them to move from their spot by her door.
She closes the door with a soft click, sending Ned the same video she’ll be sending the couple when they’re home and settled.
Man, she loves her job.)
They don’t take her home right away.
Their first stop as a family is May’s hospital, and their second is Ben’s grave.
“This is Mr. Peter’s Ben?” Maysa asks, tugging MJ’s hand.
Peter and May say their hellos, placing flowers and turning back to the child.
“Yeah,” MJ smiles softly, squatting to her eye level. “You wanna say hi?”
Maysa nods excitedly and turns to the stone, clean and flanked by flowers. She waves. “Hi, Mr. Peter’s Ben! Thank you for my new dad!” She lets go of MJ to pat it up top, grinning. “Mom says you were a superhero. I wanna be one, too!” she continues, hugging it. “Help me, okay?” she whispers, the way she knows MJ can only barely hear.
“‘Mom’, huh?” Peter whispers after he steps back from the gravestone, hand now in MJ’s.
“She’s testing it out,” MJ whispers back, smiling. “She’s gone through like, three different ones already.”
“At the center?”
“She’s going to be just fine,” May smiles sagely, standing beside them.
“She is, isn’t she?” Peter grins.
Maysa turns to wave at them.
They let her get a feel for the house the first couple weeks, but Maysa’s crazy adaptive and she’d already known MJ, so it’s a surprisingly quick process.
She makes her inevitable first piece of splatter art on Day Six.
They find out she’s a morning person.
She thinks her bathroom is a mansion.
They buy her a roll of paper that goes on for what feels like forever. She covers her room with drawings, multicolored masterpieces of superheroes and her friends at the center.
She finally settles on their new parent names after Day Seventeen:
Mama and Dad.
“Mismatched?” Peter laughs, pulling his wife close after tucking in their daughter.
“One could say the same about us,” MJ monotones, but her eyebrow’s raised and there’s a smirk fighting to show up.
“Maybe we’re like those Vans socks.”
“The ones that don’t have pairs in case the washer eats one?”
“I think you’re onto something, Mr. Parker,” MJ nods, cheeks high.
Peter grins, twirling her randomly.
She chortles, wrinkling her nose down at him. “What was that for?”
“Nothing,” he says, kissing her sweetly.
Nod. “Just ‘cause.”
Peter’s “retirement”—post-adoption—lasts about three months, which was two and a half longer than MJ thought possible.
“Sorry,” Peter says one day, coming home with a black eye.
MJ snorts. “For what? Saving people?”
“I said I’d take a year off if we got Maysa.”
“Yeah, and I thought you’d cave two weeks in, dork supreme,” she laughs, kissing him softly. “You’re fine, spandex. Live your life.”
“She’s gonna hate me.”
“I’d say don’t miss any big social events if possible, but I think even doing that wouldn’t do much to curb her wild adoration of her father.”
“…You’re really happy, huh?” MJ whispers, grinning hugging his side.
“She calls me Dad. She calls you Mama.”
“She adjusted pretty quickly.”
“She already liked you before.”
“I taught her a lot.”
“Good thing your hours are flexible.”
“Good thing the compound’s kid-friendly.”
“Now, that’s debatable.”
Peter laughs, “I still can’t believe we cut through so much red tape.”
“We did the pre-placement stuff ages ago,” MJ reminds him. “Plus, it helps when you know who runs the adoption agency.”
“I think we owe Shuri something.”
“She’s stacking up on favors from us, that’s for sure.”
“So where’s my girl?” Peter asks, scanning the living room.
“It’s quiet, Pete,” MJ says, quirking a brow. “She’s napping.”
“Fun to be five years old and worry-free.”
“Speaking of—when are we going to tell her?” MJ asks, sitting on the couch armrest.
He clears his throat. “…Spider-Man?”
“Don’t tell me you won’t tell her,” she says, brow raised. “You’re past that.”
“So no filter yet, yeah—but eventually. Plus, she already knows Iron Man and…most of the Avengers.”
“Who’s her favorite?” Peter asks, trying not to betray any preemptive jealousy.
“The one she hasn’t seen yet,” MJ smirks.
Don’t cry, don’t cry, don’t cry—
“Peter, blinking rapidly isn’t going to stop your tear ducts from opening the floodgates if you’re already emotional.”
“She likes Spider-Man?” he chokes out between shaky breaths.
Peter buckles, slumping into the recliner.
“The black one.”
He snaps his attention to MJ, glaring.
She grins. “Kidding. She’s met Miles.” MJ walks over, hopping over the armrest to sit cradled on his lap. She wraps her arms around his neck, kissing his cheek. “Congrats, you’ve won over every female in this household in under two years.”
“My real superpower.”
“It’s your nerd charm, accentuated by your amazing beard.”
“…I might need to shave it.”
“Maysa doesn’t like it,” Peter explains, smiling apologetically. “She thinks it’s too close to Tony’s.”
“It is a completely different look. For one, it’s brown.”
Peter presses his lips together, holding in laughter.
“…Two more days, I have one last painting to finish,” MJ blanks, caving. “Grow it back every few months. When she’s older and used to it, it’s back permanently, got it?”
“You’re so attached,” Peter giggles into her neck, his beard tickling her.
“Oh man, I’m going to miss you,” she says when he pulls back, caressing his jaw. “What will I do when my husband looks more like a baby than my actual baby?”
“…Are you talking to my beard?” Peter frowns.
“Shh, the grownups are talking.”
“You’re so weird.”
“And who’s the one who fell in love with me? Hmm? Who’s that idiot?”
Peter raises his hand. “Это я.”
MJ nods. “Eres tú.”
They sit there, snuggled together in tangled limbs, the fan managing to combat most of the humidity.
A peaceful moment.
“…So how long ago did her nap start?”
“Five minutes before you got in.”
“Race or carry?”
“Carry,” MJ blanks, tightening her grip around his neck.
“And off we go!” Peter cheers quietly, flipping up to the ceiling.
They learn just how well Maysa’s observation skills have gotten later that afternoon, when she comes downstairs with the most impossible of questions.
“Mama, how come, um, how come Dad crawls on the ceiling?” Maysa asks, rubbing the sleep out of her eyes.
MJ’s lips go from a thin line to being pursed, then back to a line. She and Peter both squint.
“So much for waiting,” MJ grinds out, only loud enough for someone with enhanced ears to hear. She pushes her hair back, scooching over to one side of the couch to make space.
“C’mere, sweetie,” Peter says, hoisting her barely-awake form onto his lap and hugging her tightly. “When did you see me crawling?”
Yawn. “Just now, before you went down. And you were carrying Mama.”
“Oh. Okay,” Peter nods, not sure if he wants to laugh or lie.
“Sweetie, you wanna show Dad that drawing you made?” MJ says, between chortles.
Maysa lights up like firecracker, tapping her father’s arms. “Yeah! Down! Down!”
MJ frowns. “Hey.”
“…Please! Down, please!”
“There you go, Mayday,” Peter says, plopping her down.
They watch her run back upstairs, and hear her bedroom door open.
“I give us a minute and a half,” MJ says in her What’s the plan, Spider-Man? voice.
Peter looks between her and the stairs rapidly. “Suit? Just. Just straight to the suit?”
“Man, I don’t know!” MJ hisses. “That should work, right? That should be fine?”
“We didn’t think this through. We should’ve talked about this.”
“We were, but then—”
“I’m aware, I was also in the room, MJ,” Peter hisses back, frantically waving his arms around.
Shuffling, and the sound of feet.
MJ grabs his wrist, clicking his bracelet. “Do it.”
Peter yelps, clicking another button after the bracelet turns into a web-shooter. His suit grows out, up til his neck. He presses the spider on his chest, releasing his mask from its compartment.
“Dad?” Maysa says from the top of the stairs.
“He’s still here, sweetie!” MJ calls, trying to casually lie on the couch.
Thinking, Screw it, and staying in her awkward position of lying half on her side and half on her back.
Peter flails, drops the mask, picks it up, and flails again. He makes a weird whine-groan-squeak sound, and flops back down on the couch in his original position.
MJ kicks him.
Idon’tknowwhatI’mdoing! his face says.
She motions, Act cool!
I’m not cool! You’ve been telling me that since I met you! You even took back my Borderline Coolness last week!
Act, not be!
“I got it, see!” Maysa says, stepping into view and waving a piece of paper.
“Come show me, kiddo,” Peter squeaks.
MJ kicks him again, and he turns to find her smiling tightly, uncomfortable either from their current predicament or from her current position on the armrest.
“I mean—come show me, kiddo!” Peter says, in a vaguely deeper voice.
MJ closes her eyes, exhaling as she knocks her head back.
“Yeah, I’d quit, too,” Peter whispers apologetically.
Kick, again, but lighter.
Sorry, you’re trying.
Maysa hops over to his side of the couch, drawing in front of her. “Look, I dre—Dad,” she gasps. “Is it Halloween?”
Snickering, from MJ’s side of the couch.
“Uhhhh,” Peter replies eloquently. He coughs. “Actually. There’s something you should know, Maysa.”
She stares up at him, watching him don the mask.
“Karen, shut off voice modulation, please,” he says in the media’s known Spider-Man voice.
Maysa’s eyes widen progressively, her head tipping back as she looks up at her father. Peter feels MJ shift beside him and assumes she’s sat up.
“Hey, sweetie,” he says, mask on and in his usual voice. “Surprise?”
“I—” Maysa gasps, staring.
The mask’s eyes articulate confusion. “Honey, you okay?”
“I—I KNEW IT!” she yells, jumping up and down. Her drawing flaps along beside her as she does so.
MJ snorts, sliding up to her husband. She leans over the edge of the couch, smiling at her daughter. “Figures. Smarty-pants.”
“Yeah!” Maysa yells, throwing her arms around her mother’s neck. “I knew it, Mama! Mr. Stark said um, said—”
“You can’t curse yet.”
“No, he said, um, he said—” she stops, furrowing her brows to concentrate, attempting to regain her train of thought. “That uhhh, that Dad wasn’t the one swinging in the video, but I saw it! F.R.I.D.A.Y. zoomed and I saw Dad there—I knew it!”
MJ opens and closes her mouth, silent, incredulous laughter written on her face. “I. I got nothin’. Pete?” she says finally, nudging her husband.
“I’m gonna have a talk with Mr. Stark about letting F.R.I.D.A.Y. listen to you,” he squints.
“Can I try on the mask?” Maysa says, ignoring his statement.
“You…” he starts, turning to his wife.
MJ shrugs. There’s a lock now, right? she mouths.
Go for it.
“Okay Mayday,” Peter says, picking her up. “How ‘bout we trade?”
“Okay!” Maysa grins, handing him the drawing.
It Peter and MJ’s faces, with a scrawl that says I LOVE YOU!!!
Surrounded by hearts.
“Daaaad, you said trade!” she pouts, staring up at him.
“Uh-huh,” he chokes out, trying not to sniffle too loudly. “Here.” He helps her put the mask on, laughing as the eyes try to articulate correctly even though the eye shields take up most of her face.
“How do I look?” she asks, arms up and hands in the web-shooting pose. Her voice pitches lower, and Peter giggles a little bit.
“I think you should ask your godmother for your own mask,” MJ snorts, but she takes a picture anyway. “Dad’s looks like it’s eating your face.”
(Probably. The mask like, twitched, so.)
“That’s. SO. COOL!”
MJ grins. “Right? But I’m sure one that fits will be even cooler.”
“I can match with Dad?”
“You betcha,” Peter grins widely, eyes crinkling.
“We can go talk to her when she gets back on Thursday, okay?”
Maysa latches onto Peter, arms around his neck. “Bahiback!”
“Bahibick,” Peter whispers, kissing her forehead. “Bahibick, habibti.”
(She takes a picture.)
Maysa breaks through MJ faster than Ned or Peter or May or Miles, and no one is surprised.
Granted, they’d already done a lot of bonding since the child was a toddler, what with her parents dropping her off at Shuri’s rec centers for those daycare services they had, and MJ being a senior summer volunteer.
MJ’s glad for the time they’d known each other, ‘cause at least now she’s sure of her bribing methods and doesn’t have to deal with feeling out her daughter’s specific weaknesses.
(And, like, they’re pretty similar in some ways.
Ice cream addicts, for instance.
Being terrible at taking medicine.)
“Okay, sweetie, you gotta take your meds,” MJ coos, a hand on Maysa’s forehead. “I’ll be honest: it’s gonna suck. I think this is the kind that tastes like fake berries. But the sooner you get better the sooner we can go out for ice cream. How’s that sound?”
Maysa groans, rolling over slightly and trying to push MJ—and the Evil, No Good, Fake-colored medicine—away.
“C’mon, ‘bibti. I’ll take you to Marvel,” MJ tries again, gently wiping away Maysa’s stray hairs. “Soft serve. Your favorite.”
(She knows she’s won the second Maysa stops squirming, one eye peeking curiously.)
“MJ, seriously, just rub some Vicks on her feet, put some socks on, and she’ll be fine in a day.”
“…You say that with enough confidence that I’m willing to try it.”
“If it doesn’t work, I’ll buy you dinner.”
“Big words, Leeds.”
“Fine, but I expect to be fed some A-grade, Hollywood celebrity-status, pseudo-hipster vegetarian meal when this blows over.”
“Too bad—get your cash ready, I want Peter Luger’s.”
“Oho. It’s on, Ned.”
(It works, and while she still doesn’t believe in Ned’s medical methods—or lack thereof—she still treats him to dinner and Maysa gleefully hugs her Ninong Ned repeatedly throughout the evening as thanks.)
MJ tucks Maysa in, the warm glow of the constellations on her ceiling casting shadows over them.
“I love you.”
MJ is this close to turning into a puddle. “I love you, too, ‘bibti,” she says, kissing her daughter’s forehead. “Dad’s gonna be home soon, okay?”
Squint. “…Or now, apparently.”
Peter sticks his head into the room, beaming. “Phew. Thought I’d miss you,” he says in a half-whisper, eyes on his daughter. He walks in, clean-shaven and decked out in Stark Industries sweats. He kisses the top of MJ’s head before crouching down by Maysa’s side and kissing her forehead.
Maysa sleepily reaches over, hugging his neck.
“Hey, sweetie,” he whispers, one hand wiping back her baby hairs and the other finding MJ’s hand. “Sorry I wasn’t here the last two days. You feelin’ better?”
“Mhm,” Maysa hums. “Mama said you were saving the world.”
Peter kisses her cheek. “I love you, Maysa,” he says hoarsely.
MJ squeezes his hand.
He squeezes back.
“Night, Maysa,” MJ whispers, kissing her daughter’s nose. “Love you.”
“Love you,” Maysa mumbles, eyes closing. She yawns, digging herself under her blanket.
Peter picks MJ up gently after whispering one more Love you, habibti, to their child.
“I can walk, hotshot,” MJ snorts once they’re outside and the door’s closed.
“Mm, and yet—you’re not letting go,” Peter grins smugly, eyes crinkling.
She kisses him, laughing silently. “Thanks for coming back.”
He smiles into it. “Thanks for waiting.”
“No problemo, Peteroos.”
“…Is Tony trying to bring back ‘Underoos’?”
MJ smirks. “Oh, he has. No trying about it. I think retirement will be him calling you every possible old nickname until Pepper can make him take a nap.”
“Still can’t believe he finally put the suits away,” Peter sighs, plopping her down on their bed.
“He hasn’t been at 100% since Cap…” MJ trails off, half-frowning. “It’s been almost nine years. Old man’s tired.”
Snort. “Steve used to be the old man.”
“Buck is, now,” MJ smirks. She lays on her back, hands clasped behind her head. “Still wondering why Sam wouldn’t take it. It’s not like he couldn’t keep the wings.”
Peter slides up beside her, hugging her middle. “Yeah, well, Tony was readying the bald eagle jokes, so…”
“That’ll do it.”
He smiles. “Hey.”
She unclasps her hands. “Hmm?”
“Thanks—you’re still not hot.”
Peter rolls his eyes. “I’ll get you one day.”
“You can try,” MJ snorts, eyelids closing. “Love you,” she mumbles.
“Mhm. Love you,” he yawns back.
It’s a clear night.
“Муж,” Nat says.
“Муж,” Peter repeats.
“You gonna get Mayday on this?” Nat asks as he packs his notebooks away.
“Yeah, why not?” Peter shrugs. “She’s already beating me and MJ at Arabic and Egyptian slang. Better to know a buncha languages, anyway.”
“Did you start her on Spanish yet?”
“She caught up so fast, Nat,” Peter says, wide-eyed. “Like, she can carry a pretty good convo with Miles—it’s insane.”
“Good, that’s good for the future,” Nat smiles. “She can go with you on cruises and you’ll have a personal translator.”
“Please don’t talk about my daughter like an employee.”
“Remember this moment when she’s yelling at you for not letting her go out to the party you know will have illegal substances and you’re ten seconds to sending her to boarding school,” Nat smirks, walking out the door.
“Hey! We’re never sending Maysa to boarding school!” Peter yells after her, half-frowning. “MJ and I can’t afford it!”
They learn early on that she doesn’t scream in her sleep when she has a nightmare—she mumbles.
Incoherent, mostly, except for the few words in Arabic she’d already learned from her biological parents.
Peter’s a little better at understanding spoken words and catches enough repetitions to memorize Don’t go, please, who will take care of me?
He’s also the one who hears the change in Maysa’s breathing from the other room, but they go over together every time, carrying her back with them to their bed.
MJ’s the one who hums her back to sleep, tells her It’s okay, it’s not your fault, lets her cry into her shoulder if she wants to.
She’s also the one who memorizes the pattern of breathing Maysa gets when she’s out-out, and gives Peter a tiny nod to let him know it’s all clear, and they can sleep.
It’s them, together, who hug their child in a protective cocoon, under blankets and strong but soft limbs.
“Hey, someone wants to say hi!” MJ grins into the camera.
Maysa’s curly mop of hair covers the screen at the announcement. “Setu!”
“There’s my girl! How’s Disney World?”
“It’s so nice, May. I gotta bring you with us next time,” Peter says, adjusting the camera. “ASAP, okay?”
Laugh. “Okay, sweetie. Give me the dates and I’ll call in all those favors my bosses owe me.”
“Setu, is that blood on your shirt?”
May looks down, checking her scrubs. “Oh, uh—the night shift—”
MJ coughs, tapping his daughter’s shoulder. “Hey, champ, let’s go that ride before the line gets too long, huh?”
“Okay!” Maysa grins, waving quick goodbye to May. “Bye, Setu! Te amo!”
“Show off,” MJ laughs. “Love you, May. Tell Ned we got him a hoodie.”
“Love you, May!” Peter waves, grinning. “We’ll call again later!”
Laughing, and the adjusting of a camera. “Have fun, kids! I love you!”
Maysa starts worming her way into their room more often than not, sleeping between them with her head curled into the chest of whoever lay down first, then waking up in…not her original position.
…Fortunately, they love the tyke.
Unfortunately, they also eventually find out that she’s a pillow thief, who wakes up huddled over the expensive memory foam wedding gifts bequeathed to the couple by one Pepper Potts.
(“You’ll thank me later,” Pepper had said, in an oddly menacing tone.
“Very ominous, Pep,” MJ had squinted.
“I don’t even care, these are like a hundred bucks a piece,” Peter had shrugged, already carrying the pillows.)
Normally, this would be fine.
But MJ’s got very specific needs.
I.e., satin pillowcase-covered pillows.
Which, apparently, her daughter has declared as her own.
“Who’s the pushover now?” Peter smirks, watching Maysa outwit his half-asleep wife into letting loose her pillow for the fifth night in a row.
MJ sticks her tongue out at him groggily. “You. Go buy more.”
He holds up his phone. “Already ordered ‘em yesterday.”
“…I sense we’re at a stalemate.”
“Mama, are we playing chess?” Maysa asks, tilting her head and now very awake.
Peter quirks a brow. “You like chess?”
“Since when?” MJ asks, furrowing her brows.
“Mr. Strange lets me play with him,” Maysa grins. “He says I’m good at it.”
MJ glances at her husband. “We’re raising a nerd.”
Peter frowns. “You didn’t figure that out when she started learning, like, five languages?”
“Ha. Ha,” MJ deadpans, turning back to Maysa. “Did you beat Mr. Strange?”
“Yeah! Twice!” Maysa grins wider, propped up on her arms. “Then Mr. Vision let me play, too, and I beat him after uhhh,” she says, counting on her fingers, “fourteen games!”
“MJ,” Peter whispers, brows rising in sync with hers as he leans over to her ear, “I don’t think they let her win.”
MJ nods silently.
“Is it normal for a five-year-old to beat an AI at chess?”
She shakes her head.
“…We’re raising a nerd,” Peter breathes, staring at his daughter. “Maysa, you’re a nerd, Bib.”
“I know,” Maysa says brightly, hopping up a bit. “Auntie Shuri said that, too!”
“Do you want public school or Auntie Shuri school, Bib?” MJ asks, still frozen in place.
Maysa’s eyes widen. “Auntie Shuri school!”
MJ turns to Peter.
Peter turns to MJ.
“Better than a messed up genius school with too much pressure on her shoulders,” she says.
“She could get lessons done at the compound while we’re at work—won’t have to worry about missing pickups,” Peter says.
They turn to their daughter.
“If you ever change your mind, you just tell us, okay, Bib?” Peter says, scooping Maysa up and placing her on his shoulder.
“And no going into the lab,” MJ says pointedly. “Not until you’re, like, eleven. Tentatively. Maybe twelve.”
Maysa claps her hands quickly, then hugs Peter’s neck, kissing his cheek. “Thanks, Dad!” She puts out an arm for MJ and her mother moves closer for her cheek kiss. “Thanks, Mama!”
Peter raises Maysa and blows a raspberry on her tummy. She giggles loudly, pitch rising.
“Bahibick, Bib,” Peter grins when she’s calmed down. He kisses her temple. “Love you always, champ.”
“Love you, Dad.”
MJ tussles Maysa’s hair, smiling softly. “I love you, little nerd,” she laughs, moving her hand to Maysa’s cheek. “I believe in you.”
Maysa smiles back, bright and charming. “Love you, Mama,” she sniffs, hands outstretched to her.
Peter passes her.
Maysa clings to MJ’s neck, causing a light Oof, to escape her mother’s lips. MJ shuts down the lump in her throat temporarily. “Love you.”
Peter’s eyes crinkle, and he crawls over to topple them both onto the bed, arms secure around them. “Love my girls,” he mumbles into Maysa’s hair, kissing each of the top of their heads exaggeratedly. “Ah, I’m happy.”
“Same,” MJ says, wrinkling her nose as she smiles.
Maysa’s quiet, for once, but her grip is tighter than usual, and there’s a smile that’s a little different on her face.
A little comfier.
A little more at home.
Peter’s the one who takes her to work the first few times, on account of Tony being the World’s Laxest Boss, and also because the World’s Laxest Boss loves Maysa above and beyond him.
“You’re already breaking hearts, Bib,” Peter says, crouching down and squinting at his daughter.
“Just like your mom.”
“Yes!” Maysa cheers. “Mama’s cool.”
“Heck yea she is,” Peter says, hoisting her up to his shoulders. “But you’re cooler. Our secret, right?”
“Mama says you’re hot.”
“She is definitely MJ’s daughter,” Tony says, snickering behind his welder’s mask.
“She—she says that, huh?” Peter stammers, a foot hanging mid-air.
“Yeah!” Maysa grins, wrapping her arms around his neck. “She said you’re really, really hot, and if I feel cold I should just hug you.”
Peter’s not laughing.
He’s just, like, floundering.
“‘Really, really hot’?”
“Adjectives maketh the child,” Tony says, tightening a bolt.
“I’ma talk to your mom about her vocab use,” Peter squints, playing horse.
“Why?” Maysa asks after a yell, hands up as Peter jumps around.
“Nothing important, Bib,” Peter laughs, shaking his head. He crouches low, turning to face her. “You ready? Big one comin’!”
“Don’t hit the ceiling,” Tony reminds him, glancing to them briefly as Peter hops up into the air.
Tony rolls his eyes, creases betraying a hidden smile.
(Dum-E teases him.)
“Maysa says you think I’m ‘really, really hot.’”
“Before you start,” MJ says, lowering her book and toast. “You should know that I’m extremely aware of how I said that.”
“She said it in front of Tony.”
“Oh, man—I gotta ask F.R.I.D.A.Y. for the video,” MJ blanks, eyes wide and crinkling. “Around what time was this?”
Peter’s lips press together into a thin, thin line.
“You asked for this,” MJ smirks, chomping into the slice of bread.
“This isn’t what I meaaant.”
“You’re enjoying this, aren’t you?”
MJ smiles smugly, still chewing.
Peter narrows his eyes at her, quickly mock-mouthing a jumbled mess in annoyance.
(Ned sends her the video.)
(She sends back a remixed meme version.)
Shuri tells them the news after dropping off Maysa and making sure the kid’s knocked out sleeping in her room.
MJ’s the one still silently laughing after their friend leaves, nudging Peter before returning to her seat on the couch.
Peter rolls his eyes. “It’s not funny.”
“It’s pretty funny.”
“My dude, it is excessively funny.”
“Why is our daughter being afraid of spiders funny to you?” Peter huffs, hands on his hips.
MJ grins, cheeks high. “Because her superhero name is gonna be Not-A-Spider-Woman or something, because there’s no way she’s not gonna have spider powers, if any.”
“That would mean she’d get bitten by a radioactive spider,” Peter frowns.
“There are other ways,” MJ muses. “She can just train and then we’ll give her a suit that lets her swing around, or Shuri could work some magic.”
“I’m so glad you’re enjoying this.”
“It’s so fun.”
“I really. It’s. It’s really endearing. To me. That you think this is funny.”
Peter pouts, sighing as he slinks away to their room. “I need a nap.”
“Aren’t you on spider duty right now?”
“I have an alarm—”
“Spider-killing, Peter. For our daughter. The one who hates spiders.”
“Just kidding,” MJ says, cracking a grin. “Go sleep, babe, you need the rest.”
Peter bows exaggeratedly, mouthing Thank you, and makes his way up with lazy steps. He stops midway, turning. “Oh, I haven’t—”
“I got dinner, don’t worry about it.”
Peter throws her finger guns, grinning. “You da best.”
“Go, bro,” MJ snorts, waving him away. “Seriously, the bags under your eyes could carry my library.”
Peter blows her a kiss—because he can—and sloppily makes his way to their room. MJ hears him plop down, the door probably left ajar.
She chortles, returning to her phone and the various Best Grilled Cheese Recipes found therein.
Tony lets Maysa test the new drones in the compound’s open field, under Carol’s watchful eye and heavy aura of Don’t Screw This Up.
They’re only the non-lethal versions, of course, but new drones nonetheless.
“This is a terrible idea,” MJ squints from ten yards back, watching Tony haul Maysa up to his shoulders. MJ pushes up her glasses as Maysa cheers, controller in hand.
“I mean, probably, but so was dating me, so,” Peter counters, shrugging. “Like, that worked out okay, I think?”
“Delivering pizza,” Ned says, sliding into the field with three boxes of pizza in his arms.
On Shuri’s not-yet-legal, Actually Hovers, Not Those Wheeled Things hoverboard.
“How’s that workin’?” MJ asks, eyeing the machine.
“Hasn’t blown up, so I give it a ten-outta-ten,” Ned shrugs, powering it down. He holds it out to them. “Wanna try?”
“I think one Parker beta-testing today is a good number.”
“So, you’re a coward.”
Peter gives his wife a quick glance, before moving towards the device. “I’ll—”
“One Parker,” MJ groans, pivoting back to watch her daughter pilot a metallic discus around a stack of boxes. “If you explode, I’m not cleaning you up.”
She flips him off.
MJ turns it into a peace sign, smiling at her.
“Really thought you’d teach her that by now,” Ned muses, stepping off the hoverboard. “Especially now that she’s like, homeschooled.”
“Not til she’s seven, at least,” MJ replies.
“I had to bargain for that,” Peter adds, hopping onto the board. He slides around, arms up at his sides. “Yooo! I’m Marty McFly!”
MJ snorts. “You do know what happens in that movie, right? Like, your mom—”
Peter hops off; the board goes on for a few yards, wobbling to a soft halt. He frowns at MJ. “Seriously.”
“You’re just repeating a statement.”
“1) I am an orphan, 2) you couldn’t give me that?”
MJ’s face contorts, and Peter puffs up his cheeks because he knows he’s just dug his own grave.
“That’s, uh—you know, Pete, that kinda—that makes it worse,” MJ pffts, stifling laughter between phrases.
Ned howls, doubling over and rolling onto the grass.
Peter keeps his cheeks puffed and his arms crossed and his eyes decidedly not on either of his best friends.
“Ahem—some respect for the testing process, please?” Tony calls, tilting his head in Maysa’s direction.
MJ chortles one last time, and Ned clears his throat, rolling to lie on his belly on the ground.
He gives a thumbs up. “Let it rip, Bib!”
If the drone lands in Tony’s hair, no one says anything about it.
“Why’s Mama not okay?”
“Just cramps, sweetheart,” Peter says, bringing over a stack of dark chocolates, a bottle of painkillers, and a heating pad.
“Killer cramps this month, apparently,” MJ groans, head in her arms as she lies stomach-down on one of Peter’s pillows. “I feel like The Rock punched me in the gut. Thrice.”
“Which rock?” Maysa asks, hands on MJ’s arms. “I’m gonna punch the rock, Mama, even if it hurts. I’m gonna punch it for you, so it leaves you alone!”
“Use your words, champ,” MJ says weakly, rolling to her side as Peter replaces the pillow with a heating pad. “I don’t want you punching anything, got it?” Pause. “Unless, like, it needs to be punched.”
“You’re making a bad case, Ms. Lawyer,” Peter squints.
“You gotta sign the Accords so you can legally punch bad people,” MJ blanks.
Maysa’s eyes widen, and she turns excitedly to her father. “I can sign the Accords?!”
Groan. “Can we not have our kid thinking about superheroics?”
“Caught Tony trying to sneak out a mini-suit for her the other day, it’s a liiiil’ late for that,” MJ says, slumping back onto her belly.
“Dad, can I be a superhero?” Maysa asks, hopping a bit. “Can I?”
“You sure can,” Peter says, switching to a smile. He picks her up, holding her on one of his shoulders. “And you can start right now—how ‘bout we go make Mama some more hot chocolate, huh?”
“Yes!” Maysa cheers, saluting. She gives her mother a thumbs up with one hand, and keeps the other on her hip. “Don’t worry, Mama! I’ll save you! To the kitchen!”
Cough, from Peter.
“To the kitchen! Please!”
Peter nods resolutely, throwing a quick wink to an amused MJ. They lock eyes, and he grins. “We’ll be back in no time, ma’am!” he says, in an old, familiar fake voice.
MJ snorts, hiding under her arms. “I’ll be here. Probably.”
Maysa tugs at Peter’s shirt, frowning. “Psst, Dad, we gotta go or the Evil Rock will get Mama!”
“Oh, right—” he flounders, finally looking away from MJ, a dumb smile still stuck on his face. He straightens, putting on his best I’m A Superhero-face “Away we go!”
MJ peeks, catching Peter’s eye as they turn.
She winks, then tilts her head and raises a brow.
Best life choice? it asks.
Peter smiles softly, eyes crinkling.
“Hey, there, Maysa!” May smiles, high-fiving her (pretty much) grandchild. “You ready to go, sweetie?”
Maysa tiptoes, hugging her waist. “Yeah!”
“Museum today, huh?” Peter asks his aunt after getting a goodbye kiss from his daughter.
“The Museum of Natural History, then Central Park for a bit if she’s still got energy,” May smiles knowingly. “And if all else fails, a movie.”
“Long day,” MJ blanks, a brow raised. She turns to Peter. “Are we doing anything today?”
“Sleeping?” Peter yawns. “That’s an adult thing, right? Finding nap times?”
“Sound good to me,” MJ shrugs, stretching out on the couch. She throws an arm over her eyes, relaxing. “Be good, Bib.”
“Yes, Mama!” Maysa says, tugging at her backpack. “I’m gonna draw all the dinosaurs! And the, uh, the smilodons!”
Peter squints, squatting down. “Where’d you learn the scientific name of a saber-tooth?”
“Neeerd,” comes MJ’s voice from the couch. She laughs lightly, rolling to her side to wave her and May off. “‘kay, you guys have a lot to do—love you, May, love you, champ.”
“Love you guys,” Peter says, ruffling Maysa’s hair. He looks her in the eye, feigning seriousness. “Be good.”
Maysa crosses her heart, smiling sweetly.
“I’m sure I can deal with a five-year-old, Peter,” May says, tugging Maysa back through the door. “Love you both!” she adds as they exit the home, pulling the door closed.
May brings her almost-sleepwalking grandchild home and uses her own key to enter the house. She lays the child by her parents, holding down laughter as she takes a photo of Peter foot propping up MJ’s arm. He’s half on the recliner—now moved to right by the couch—and half on the couch, head lolled back and jaw hanging.
MJ’s lying on her stomach, arms crossed over her pillow and hair loose. Maysa climbs over her, lying on the armrest so she can get between her parents in any possible way.
May laughs to herself once she’s back outside, thinking, They’re going to have a good life.
“Did you see the news?”
“…And hello to you, too, my lovely wife.”
“Yeah, yeah, whatever—turn on world news, dork.”
“Dunno, but Tony says it’s not our problem, and I’m taking him up on that.”
“…Since when do you listen to Tony?”
“Since I had a kid to raise and can’t afford frequent trips to India with my husband to train another spider mutant.”
“Oho, no. No. He said Carol’s gonna handle it, and if she can’t, he or Shuri will. Don’t you dare try to take the world on your shoulders, literally.”
Chuckle. “Okay, yeah. You’re right. Thanks.”
“Are you visiting…?”
“Not…not this time, I think. I’m booked, and…”
Sigh. “Is it? Kind of a jerk move to ignore my parents if they’re alive, right?”
“I won’t carry the world if you won’t feel guilty about something you shouldn’t be feeling guilty about.”
“I’ll see you soon?”
“Yeah. I’m flying in at 10, don’t forget.”
“Got it. Love you.”
“Love you. Tell Maysa I miss her.”
“I will. Don’t forget to eat, okay?”
Laugh. “Yeah, don’t worry. Nakia’s been strong-arming me into trying more local eats this trip. I’m comin’ back with a new freshman fifteen.”
“Ha! Nice. Can’t wait. Love you, again.”
“Okay, sapling, we’re never gonna get off this call—later, love you.”
“Miles, don’t drop her,” MJ says, watching the boy toss her daughter into the air.
“Dude, trust me!” Miles complains, catching Maysa effortlessly. He thwips out a web, swinging with the child tucked into his chest.
“I trust you with my life,” MJ blanks, watching them land on one of the padded ledges of the training room. Maysa climbs onto Miles’ back and up to his neck, holding tightly as he swings again, lower to the ground.
“Aw,” Miles coos, passing MJ.
Smirk. “But not with my daughter’s.”
“You already knew how protective I get with kids, Miles.”
Maysa waves at her, arms outstretched above her head. “Mama, look—no hands!”
“Great job, Bib!” MJ cheers, then shifts back to frowning at Miles. “You drop her, you’re dead.”
“Uh-huh,” Miles sighs, rolling his eyes. “I’ma go be the coolest uncle ever now, okay? Okay.”
“Is this because Ganke and Kamala took her out last time and she completely bypassed you for a week?”
“Cheer up, Spiderling, at least you’re more famous,” MJ blanks. “I mean, K’s def got more pull in Jersey, but that’s just a home team kinda thing.”
“Gee, thanks!” Miles calls, heavy on the sarcasm. “I love you, too, Big Sis.”
Maysa makes whooshing sounds as Miles makes her ‘fly’ across the room, running and jumping with superhuman agility. He hops up to a wall, running with the world sideways, and Maysa laughs loudly, arms out and moving as if she were running, too.
“Having fun, kiddo?” Miles asks when he sets up another swing, passing through a padded box midair.
“YEAH!” Maysa yells, fist pumping as they land on the opposite wall. “This is so cool! You’re so cool!”
“I am, I am, thanks, Mayday,” Miles smiles softly. “You cool, too.”
She puts on her serious face. “Yeah! Let’s go!”
(MJ plays back the video with Ned when he’s out of his meeting, and Maysa excitedly points out all the cool, small stuff Uncle Miles was doing to keep they airborne and on-trajectory.)
“Ladies and gents—and AIs, I see you Viz—” Shuri starts, wielding the mic like a boxing announcer. She points to a few others in the bleachers, skip-hopping around the mat-covered ground to amp up the audience. “Welcome to the fight of the century! In the green corner, wearing red and blue and black, we have—the Spider-Boys!”
Cheering, as said Spider-Men swing into the gym, their—unnecessary, extremely flashy—somersaults hyping up the crowd.
“In the black corner, wearing almost the same but with—funnily enough—no black, we have—the Ms. Marvels!”
Cheering, as Carol and Kamala fly in, waving like the Queen of Genovia. They take up their spot, stretching casually.
“Oh nice, Peter’s gonna get his— behind kicked,” MJ catches herself, tossing popcorn into her mouth as she glances at her daughter.
Ned laughs from his spot beside Maysa. “Why are we letting her watch this?”
“She likes watching her dad show her what not to do,” MJ replies, turning to the Spider-Man-memorabilia-clad five-year-old between them. “Right, sweetie?”
Maysa bounces around in her seat, arms up in double fistpumps.“Dad’s gonna kick butt!”
“Let’s not get ahead of ourselves,” Clint says from behind her.
“Don’t douse my child’s positivity, you grumpy old man,” MJ frowns at him for a second, challenging. She turns back to Maysa. “We’re gonna hope he does, right, champ?”
“Yeah!” Maysa yells, jumping up. “KICK BUTT, DAD!”
“Would not need hearing aids to hear that,” Clint winces, turning to MJ. “But good parenting.”
“Thanks, I got some tips from a spy once,” MJ grins knowingly.
“She means Nat,” Ned says, eyes on the fight.
“Let’s! Get! Ready! To! RUUUUUUMBLE!” Shuri yells, running off the mats as Vision makes a ding noise, and the fight begins.
“LET’S GO, LADIES!” Ned screams, clapping loudly and hopping to his feet.
“Wow,” MJ says, twisting to look up at him. “Betrayal.”
“If Maysa weren’t here, you’d be on the same side, ‘cause you smart,” Ned sasses, leaning over. “I play to win, MJ.”
Peter ducks, dodging a wide swing from Kamala. Miles leaps from behind him, up and over her elongated arm, and shoots a web up to the ceiling. He tugs, catapulting himself up to where Carol is.
SLAM, as Miles collides with the ceiling, followed by a blast from Carol.
The crowd OOOOOOH’s, many if not all of them wincing. MJ, Clint, and Ned all cover Maysa eyes, watching as Miles groans, sticking to the ceiling.
Ned clears his throat, making a eugh sound. “…And so does Carol.”
“Hey, sweetie,” MJ says, grimacing, hand still over her child’s face. “If Dad loses, we’ll go get ice cream, ‘kay?”
“Okay, but Dad’s gonna win!” Maysa says, not arguing about the hands blocking her view.
Another loud, quick OOH escapes from the crowd, as Peter gets wrapped and tossed to the opposite end of the room by Kamala and Carol.
“Uhhh,” MJ says tightly, pitch rising. “I can promise he’s gonna try?”
“‘ey, bunso,” Ned says, crouching down to Maysa’s ear. “Start thinking of your fave ice cream flavors, okay? I’m payin’.”
Maysa tilts her head. “Okay? But—”
“Lesson for the day, Bib,” MJ says, watching Miles and Peter get simultaneously flung around the room by Carol, “Learn when to quit.”
A final, damning wave of concerned OOOOOH’s rings out as the Spider-Men lay on the floor in accepted defeat. Kamala rubs at the spots where they’d manage to land throws, but Carol hovers off the floor slightly, squeaky clean.
Clint’s the first to pull his hand away from Maysa’s eyes. “Pro tip? If you’re going against someone with ‘Marvel’ in their name? Probably quit. Like immediately.”
Maysa winces, looking for her father and uncle. “Um…how much ice cream can I get?”
“As much as you want,” Ned says, frowning at his fallen friend. “M’yikes.”
“Well, he’s gonna need an ice pack,” MJ blanks.
“Hey, can I get some peeps to get these two to the infirmary?” Shuri says into the mic, returning to mat-center. “My goddaughter made me promise her dad wouldn’t become slush, so.”
Bucky stands, shrugging as he walks over and hauls both of them off the mat effortlessly.
“That’s showing off, White Wolf,” Shuri tells him with an eye roll and a tongue click. She shakes her head, then turns back to the crowd, gesturing to Carol and Kamala. “But more importantly! Our winners! Don’t mess with them, you will lose!”
Peter gets shot.
And it’s not like, new.
Because this time, he sees more.
This time, there’s a flash of remembering how he’d grown up.
How he’d lost his parents.
How he’d lost Ben.
He sees May and Ned and Tony and Shuri yelling at him or crying or both.
He sees MJ curled up, alone, on her side of the bed.
And he keeps seeing Maysa, his little girl, his champion Lego builder, his daughter.
And then it’s dark, and he hope she knows he loves her, and her, and them.
“Peter, wake up,” MJ whispers desperately, hands covered in blood as she tries to keep him awake.
Tony’s yelling over the comms—something about surgery and Shuri and picking up May and Maysa.
Ned swerves, and MJ loses hold for a second, cursing.
“Stay awake, Pete, c’mon,” Miles says, strapped down in the bunk behind him, bleeding from his own wounds.
“C’mon, Pete,” MJ breathes, patting his cheek with one hand as another wound clots. “Not today, you dramatic-ass fake-Tarzan—Maysa wanted to see that new movie tomorrow, remember? You can’t back out on a five-year-old, man. That’s a jerk move.”
His arm stays limp off the side of the cot, hand lax and hanging.
“Listen, Spidey,” MJ continues, half-smiling. “Nice of you to stop by the convention to stop another baddie from like, murdering me and half the UN. Really. Much nicer if you woke up right about now, though. Miles is crying and it ain’t pretty.”
“That’s you,” Miles hisses, crying.
“It’s a lot more snotty than it sounds, I promise.”
Miles curses, frowning at MJ.
“Hear that? Straight nasty.”
“Stop telling him I’m crying!”
“Crying’s manly, Miles, don’t worry about it.”
“I don’t care about that, I’m just not crying!”
“Don’t listen to him,” MJ stage whispers to Peter. “He’s trying to be overly accommodating. Like you. There are tears in his eyes, husband dearest.”
The van makes a quick turn, rattling the back slightly.
Miles curses again. “How are you even joking around right now?”
“His vitals are steadying up,” MJ says, gritting her teeth only slightly. “I can afford the breather.”
“You know I hate your coping mechanisms?”
“Yes. Everybody does.”
“At least you’re aware,” Miles winces, clutching his side. “This is gonna bruise for days.”
MJ snorts, hands clasped around Peter’s non-bandaged one. “No it won’t.”
Blink. “Oh. Right.”
MJ smiles briefly, her face turning neutral as she and Miles wait in silence as they speed back to the compound.
He doesn’t wake up.
She knows he will.
It’s Shuri distracting their daughter with crayons and an empty wall by Tony’s room. It’s Ned and MJ by Peter’s side as he lies with limp limbs, monitors beeping steadily. It’s May giving Tony another talking-to while Carol assesses the situation and tells F.R.I.D.A.Y. to inform her when Peter wakes up.
It’s two more hours of waiting and the currently-present Avengers making sure to visit and the rest of them sending words of encouragement.
It’s Ned checking the monitors and the tubes and the sensors and just generally being a mom friend as he watches Peter’s wounds heal.
It’s MJ rolling her eyes when Peter’s eyes crack open and he asks if she can kiss his boo-boo better?
“Your boo-boo’s already better.”
“Awww,” he mutters.
“I’ll still kiss you.”
“Not right now,” she frowns. “I’ma make you wait, like you made me.”
Peter lets out a muffled whine.
Ned pats his head. “I’ll go tell May and Shuri,” he laughs. “Get some rest man. I love you.”
Peter grins weakly. “Love you, Ned.”
Breathing is all that’s heard above the monitors.
Peter reaches up, his thumb caresses her cheek; his eyes dig into hers.
“You get it?” he asks hoarsely, a sad smile on his lips.
“Yeah,” she says quietly, holding his hand there, on her face.
“You think I should do it?”
A small, barely-there nod.
“I don’t want you to torture yourself over what if’s, okay?” MJ says, leaning closer. She tucks back stray strands from his hair, gentle and careful. “And I know you’re looking for a scapegoat.”
Peter swallows thickly, watching her.
(She’s right and he knows it and he knows her and she’s right because she gets it.)
“I think you need a break,” she says quietly.
(His hand on her cheek feels nice and warm and his pulse—his pulse reminds her he’s still there.
Still undefeated, if you count coming back as winning, which she does.)
“I can do that,” Peter rasps finally.
“I love you.”
“I know that, too,” MJ whispers, leaning down to kiss him softly.
(It’s an I trust you and an I love you and a Welcome back, dingus.)
“Whoa, kiddo, don’t hop up on your dad yet,” Ned laughs, catching his goddaughter. He raises her up, resting her on his shoulders. “Dad’s got lots of boo-boos, okay? We gotta be gentle. Like with Mr. Hawkeye’s puppy.”
“Alright,” Ned smiles, then winces as he looks at his friend. “Feelin’ better?”
“Feelin’ somethin’,” Peter grimaces, looking up at the familiar, circular machine. “Never fun to be in this thing.” He twists a bit, smiling at Maysa. “Hey, Bib. Miss me?”
Maysa nods quickly, a frown growing on her face.
“You wanna cry, sweetheart?”
She shakes her head.
Peter smiles softly. “You can cry, Maysa. It’s okay.”
A small sniffle echoes in the room, and Ned squeezing her leg gently, looking up at her with a reassuring smile.
“Mama doesn’t cry,” Maysa says, tear trickling down her cheeks.
“Aw, sweetie,” Peter half-grins, eyes crinkling. “She does. Only when it’s really bad. And she didn’t right?”
“So that means…?”
Her voice is tiny. Far. “You’re gonna be okay?”
Ned pats her side, smiling. “That’s right, kiddo.”
Peter nods. “Still here. Gonna be real hard to get rid of me, you know. I’m sticky.”
Maysa snorts a laugh, sniffling still. Her tears take a pause, and she wipes at her cheeks. “That’s good, Dad.”
He smiles. “Yep. Definitely is.”
MJ nudges her husband while Miles attempts to reach over Kamala for the last slice of pizza. “Go.”
Peter stands, tapping Miles’ shoulder and gesturing to the guest room.
Miles quirks a brow, but follows as MJ distracts Kamala and Ganke with a game of Jenga.
Peter locks the door once they make it inside, turning and facing the younger hero with a neutral face and wringing hands.
“Miles, I gotta talk to you about something.”
Miles starts crawling up the wall by the bookshelf, distracted by the new comics.“Yeah?”
Peter swallows, inhaling deeply. “…I think it’s time you officially get upgraded to Spider-Man.”
Miles stumbles, almost falling off the wall
Except that’s impossible, so:
“Are you…are you quitting?”
“I’m…no, no I’m not. But I wanna, um, I wanna take some time, y’know? Off. Take Maysa around with MJ. With May. With Ned. With you. Just hang out, be a family.”
“…So two months.”
“I’ll try for three this time.”
“You can join the pool,” MJ yells lazily. “F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s keeping live updates on the board in the common room. Shuri and I are leaning to two weeks, but Ned thinks it’s one.”
“Your faith in me—I can feel it,” Peter says, clutching his heart dramatically.
“Last time was a fluke,” she smirks. “You’re still not good at sitting still.”
“I’m trying to be a good parent!”
“You are one, spandex-face.”
(Peter does not turn to mush.
He is better than that.
…He turns into a puddle.)
Miles inhales sharply, calling back his attention. “…Wow. That’s…wow.” He gulps, looking at Peter timidly. “Big shoes.”
“Eh,” Peter says, shrugging. “Size ten.”
Miles laughs disbelievingly. He stares at the floor for a time, before: “…You really think I could do it?”
“Dude,” Peter laughs, clasping his shoulder. “You’ve been doing it. You don’t need me there 24/7. You’ve got teammates, and a lot of backup. Just…promise me you won’t try to do it alone, okay?” he says urgently, a hand up to keep his attention. “You’re not me. You don’t need to, and you shouldn’t.”
Miles looks at him, at his friends, at MJ. He fidgets with his shooter-bracelet, gulping.
Peter quirks a brow.
Miles smiles. “Yeah. Yeah, I promise.”
(MJ laughs to herself.
Shuri knocks on her office door, grinning. “Hey MJ, can I take Maysa out with me to the city tomorrow?”
“Did you ask Pete?” MJ asks, not looking up from the computer.
“Yeah, he said it’s fine and to ask you.”
“As long as she doesn’t climb any walls,” MJ blanks, flipping through her files.
“…I can’t promise that.”
“Stick to them?”
MJ turns her attention to the princess. “…Are you taking my five-year-old wall-climbing?”
“One scratch and you’re dead to me, Shu.”
“Hah,” Shuri laughs, flipping her off playfully. “If I’m Tony, you’re May!”
MJ grins. “That’s a great compliment.”
“Cheers, Jones!” Shuri says, stepping away. “No harm shall come to your child, I promise.”
MJ waves her away, chortling. “Later, Shu.”
Tony’s the biggest sobber out of all of them.
“I’m gonna miss…nothing about the stress of this job,” he cries happily, a hand clamped onto Carol’s shoulder. He faces her, smiling consolingly. “Good luck, Cap. It’s gonna suck fifty years offa you, and you can’t sue ‘cause you volunteered.”
“Hear, hear,” MJ cheers, lazily. “It’s all legally-binding—I hope you don’t care about looking your age or older.”
(Peter snickers, the arm around her waist squeezing gently.)
“I think I’ll be fine,” Carol smirks, shaking hands with the other Avengers. “Glad to be of service, everyone.”
“Does this mean we’re kind of S.H.I.E.L.D. property again?” Clint asks, squinting. “‘Cause they owe me a company car if yes.”
“They never owed you a company car,” Nat says, passing by him. She high-fives Carol. “I don’t envy you.”
“You never did like the limelight,” Carol laughs. She turns to everyone else. “Well. I didn’t plan anything, ‘cause we all knew this was happening, so I guess…shawarma?”
“Oh, gods be praised,” Thor says, clenching his fist.
“He’s been craving,” Bruce explains, making for the door. “Shall we?”
“Hell yes,” Shuri says, stepping out first. She throws them all The Bird. “Last one there has to help keep Tony in retirement!”
“Ned, c’mon, go easy on her,” Peter says, nudging his friend with his foot.
“Let her learn,” MJ deadpans, controller in hand.
“It’s a game.”
“Mario Kart is a necessary part of life, and she needs to learn that not even her godfather is going to let her win.”
“Ninong,” Ned corrects, tossing a banana. “My house, my language.”
“Ninong,” MJ repeats, palm up in Ned’s direction.
“You’re welcome,” Maysa replies, face scrunched, as she causes Ned’s Yoshi to spin off a ramp.
Peter’s eyes widen, and he leans back, a fist covering his mouth as he lets out a low, “Oooooooh!”
“There’s a reason we call her ‘champ’, Leeds,” MJ says, shaking her head. Bowser sits, stunned, as Toad races away to victory.
“Did you practice?” Ned says incredulously, turning to Maysa.
“Nope,” Maysa replies, smiling. “Can we go again, ninong?”
“You’re on, bunso,” Ned squints, squaring up his shoulders. “No more training wheels.”
“Social experiment: will Ned be the kind of adult who passes the torch, or tries to hang on to his own prestige long after his prime?” MJ says with a tilt of her head.
“Or,” Peter snickers, dodging a backhand from Ned. He leans over, patting Maysa’s head. “Go kick his butt, sweetheart!”
Maysa grins toothily. “Okay!”
It happens on the brink of autumn.
MJ goes for it.
On a whim, because she’s already in the area for business, so why not?
It happens, and she is stunned, because, for some weird-ass reason, both her parents are standing outside, conversing.
With each other.
(MJ thinks she’s dead and hopes Peter will be okay when he finds out.)
“Hey,” she says, walking up, hands in her pockets.
“Michelle?” her mother blinks, turning. “Hi, honey! You didn’t tell me you were coming!”
“I didn’t—um, wasn’t really planned.” Blink. “Dad’s here?” MJ says, furrowing her brows. “Hi?”
“Hey, kiddo!” he says, walking over with open arms.
“You’re grandparents,” she blurts out when he’s a foot away.
“We’re—you got pregnant? You gave birth?”
“No, we adopted,” MJ starts, watching the two of them with measured eyes. “This girl I would take care of at the rec center. I was cool with her parents—they got in a car accident in Egypt.”
I don’t know why I’m telling you this.
“I don’t know why I’m telling you this.”
“Kiddo, that’s great!” her father cheers. “The adopting part, I mean.”
MJ blinks. “Oh. Yeah, I mean—yeah, it is, but. Um.” She stares at them, mouth open. “You guys are chilling.”
“Some time apart did us good,” Maddie says, smiling softly.
“So when can we meet her?” Philip asks, tilting his head.
“Uh,” MJ blanks, “when…whenever you’re in town?” She calculates dates in her head, of when Peter’s in town and May is, too. “Thanksgiving? Maybe? If—if you’re free?”
Maddie turns to her ex. “Good to me.”
Philip nods. “I’ll put it on my calendar,” he says, already opening his phone.
MJ stares at the some more, hella confused, then: “I—did you guys have lunch? I was gonna go get some. If you, uh, wanted to come with, or something.”
Philip grins, a familiar smile jogging a young memory. “Of course, honey. I’ve missed spending time with you.”
“I’ll lock up—we can take my car,” Maddie says excitedly, rushing off to get her keys. “This is great, isn’t it?”
“Yeah, it’s—yeah,” MJ exhales lightly, “it is. It is pretty great.”
“Hey, Pete. Weird day. Um, you’re at that meeting with Bruce, but I got some time so uh…so my parents are coming. Together. For Thanksgiving. Just FYI. I told them about Maysa. And I think it’s…gonna be good? Might be your crazy optimism, but…wow. I dunno. Thank you? I guess? I—yeah, Mom, I’ll be back in in a sec—I’ll see you and Maysa soon. Love you.”
Kamala becomes her personal playground.
Swing? Less effective than her Uncle Miles and father, but check.
“How come you don’t yell at her to not drop Mayday?” Miles asks from the sidelines of the training hall, nursing a sprained knee.
“She can become a human car seat, it’s kind of impossible,” MJ says, shrugging. She purses her lips, keeping a pen balanced on top as she reads through paperwork.
“Also we have bad track records with carrying people,” Peter adds, leaning back in his seat to sneak a glance at the documents. He frowns, pointing at a line. “I didn’t do that. You can check the video feed.”
MJ waves a hand at him lazily. “Yeah, yeah, I know. Yeesh, the complaints these guys come up with just for a few bucks…”
“I still think you should be yelling at her to not drop Mayday,” Miles frowns, hopping up to the ceiling above them. He squints. “And I didn’t do that.”
“Can you both—” MJ sighs, looking at the Spider-Men, “—I know you two. Pretty well. And I have to run point with Ned on some of these, so yeah, I think I know when something sounds extremely off for both of you.”
Peter ducks his chin and clasps his hands together.
Miles opens his mouth, but abandons the attempt at the last second.
“Thank you,” MJ says, pulling the binder closer to herself. “And, you’re wrong, I don’t need to yell at her,” she adds after a beat, not sparing Miles a glance. “She didn’t have five guinea pigs die in her care.”
“Are you always gonna have that on me?” Miles asks, rolling his eyes. “I was a child.”
MJ scoffs. “You had one last year. For a week. Like, you’re the Grim Reaper of guinea pigs, dude.”
“She has a point,” Peter mutters, head still ducked.
“Auuuugh,” Miles whines, crawling around in circles as best he can with only three limbs.
“Dude, you gotta rest that,” Peter says, looking up at him.
Miles whines again, landing on the ground in a handstand and taking a seat, watching Kamala Baby’s Cradle Maysa. “Unfair. You pass me Spider-Man, but still don’t trust me with your child. Unbelievable.”
“Suck it up,” MJ smirks.
He sticks his tongue out at her.
Peter comes back to Spidey work because 1) Miles has finals and 2) Maysa thinks his engineering work is, quote, “Boring, Dad.”
Thor wins the pot, which is unfair, because he’s a literal royal god, so he donates most of it to a charity and asks MJ if Maysa will need funding for future schooling?
“Is this extortion? It feels like extortion,” Peter asks, tilting his head.
“Take it before he changes his mind,” Ned blanks, eyes glancing between Peter, MJ, and Thor.
“Donation,” Thor says solemnly. “For your daughter.” He smiles, a glint in his eye. “Reminds me of someone else. Hopefully she’ll have an easier start.”
Peter opens his mouth to ask something, but MJ elbows him discreetly.
“In some ways, she already has,” she says, nodding once. “Thanks for the green, Thunder-Man. Much appreciated.”
“Never a problem, MJ,” he grins, bowing slightly to all of them. “I must take my leave. Good day.”
“Peace, Mr. Thor,” Ned says, half-saluting.
“Thanks, Thor!” Peter calls, waving. He turns to his wife. “What was that for?”
“He was talking about Loki,” MJ whispers pointedly.
“Yeah, I know,” he says, brows raising quickly. “I was just gonna ask if he had tips for if Maysa wanted to like, become an interdimensional villain.”
“…I’ll see you at dinner,” she says, kissing his cheek quickly and walking backward. “Ned, can you make sure he’s thinking straight before he goes save Ms. Khan’s cat?”
“Heh,” Ned grins, putting him in a headlock and ruffling his hair. “Good to have you back, bro.”
Peter smiles, catching a wink from his wife before she rounds a corner. “Good to be back, dude.”
MJ takes Maysa with her to the hidden Broadway store with the secret library at the back that she’d discovered the day she, Peter, and Ned had scrounged enough cash to watch Anastasia on the other side of the street.
(It was cold and they were too early and they ended up learning that they could sit/stand in there and read up on more-or-less unknown plays until their show was on, and it was just...cozy.)
Some days they chat with the owner, other days they have a marathon (silent) reading session, picking out a play together in the back room and staying until the next mealtime, then head across the street for tacos or sushi.
Peter takes Maysa with him to all the high places she’s not afraid of looking down from, like the top of the apartment complex in Astoria, or the Empire State Building.
(It’s the first time he has to pay to be up there, and it’s a little weird to be inside the fences, but it’s nice, hauling her up on his shoulders to catch the best view of the city.)
It’s their little time together, and sometimes when they go to a high spot Maysa sits and asks to have her now-long hair braided, and Peter complies happily every time.
And every night, bar world-saving, they all meet back home and talk, and laugh, and share.
“Hey, Pete, can I get a massage?” she asks, hand squeezing her neck muscles.
“Sure, one sec,” he replies, flipping down, careful not to shake the couch as Maysa sleeps. He looks between his wife and daughter, raising a brow. “Should we be doing this right now?”
“I’ve got knots, smart—” MJ stops herself, “—butt. Smartbutt,” she finishes in a whisper.
Peter shrugs, jumping to the back of the couch. He stands behind her seat, silently pulling her hair up. MJ passes him a scrunchy and he ties it in place, their movements synced.
Peter presses down on the spot she points at with his thumb, immediately going: “A knot? This is a block, MJ, what’ve you been doing—”
She looks up, a tight, unamused frown on her lips. “Yes. I know. Hence, massage.”
He pecks her lips. “Aw, this must’ve been killing you.”
“—massage, yup,” Peter finishes, tipping her head back forward gently. “Okidoki, tiiiime for my magic hands!”
MJ hums, arms out and calling Maysa to herself. The little girl clambers over, hugging her mother around her waist.
“Hey, Bib,” MJ smiles, patting her daughter’s head. “How was your day?”
“I made a castle!” Maysa grins, moving to sit on MJ’s lap. “I put, um—I put little flags, and a big moat, and Dad helped me make catapults!”
“Do they work?”
MJ tilts her head back again, narrowing her eyes at Peter. “Do they?”
“Let’s just say dinner’s gonna be boss tonight,” Peter replies cryptically, gently pushing her head back forward. “Now stop interrupting my showing off, I’ma make it like this weird…ew, seriously, why is this like this, MJ? Nasty.” He scrunches up his face, digging in with a knuckle. “But I’ma make it like this was never here, just watch.”
“I can’t, you keep pushing my head forward. And. That’s not possible. Even for a contortionist.”
“Ha. Ha. Mama’s funny, right, Bib?” Peter says, leaning over and sharing a look with Maysa.
MJ catches the little flare in Maysa’s eyes and flinches.
“Everything good, M?” Peter asks, voice low.
“Maysa Mayday Parker,” she says carefully, holding Maysa firmly. “Don’t. You. Dare.”
Maysa grins, hands up in a flash.
“Te…rrib…le,” MJ grinds out as she bites down on her lip, shaky laughter escaping her. She falls sideways into the couch, double-teamed by her traitorous family.
“I got her foot!” Peter laughs, hooking an arm around MJ’s ankle.
Maysa throws herself over MJ’s stomach, hands digging into her sides.
“You—HAHAHA—super—HA—villains—PETER, STOP—” MJ chokes out, breathless. She kicks him unrepentantly, foot finally colliding with face.
Peter pffs, grunting a meager, “Hey!” as he falls back onto the armrest.
MJ’s arms regain strength, catching Maysa and tickling her back.
“Mama!” she laughs, high-pitched giggles filling the room. “I’m sor—HAHA—Dad said—HEEheeHEE—”
“It’s good to listen to your father,” MJ deadpans, fingers still wiggling along on her sides, “but—a tip, for the future: I’m real good at payback.” She keeps at it for another few seconds, then releases the child and pulls her over to her lap.
“Sleepy,” Maysa blinks slowly, hair sticking up and still wheezing lightly. She leans back on her mother, tugging MJ’s arms over her waist.
Peter scoots closer, lying over Maysa’s legs. “Can I join?”
MJ quirks a brow. “That’s real male of you Peter, just doing something and then asking for permission.”
He raises his head an inch. “…Can I join?”
“Sure, McWeirdo,” MJ nods, leaning back on the couch. “Happy naps, nerds.”
“Mm, same, babe,” Peter mutters, nodding off.
Maysa responds with a light, little snore.
It’s a small voice in the middle of the night, when there are heaving breaths and a man crumpled on the floorboards.
Maysa creeps up behind MJ, eyes wide as she hides by her door. “Is Dad okay?”
“We have to get out—we have to leave—they’re coming, Mr. Stark, they’re coming, I need to get home, I need—” Peter says fearfully, eyes wide and holding MJ’s sides tightly.
MJ turns her head slightly, enough to make eye contact with her daughter. “Stay back, Maysa. Don’t move, okay? Statues, remember?” she says steadily.
(Sometimes she wishes they didn’t have to make up a game for her to get subconsciously trained to know what to do, but realistically…)
She turns back to Peter, hands on either side of his face. “It’s okay, Peter. It’s okay, shh…You’re home. You’re home with me. MJ, see? It’s okay, Pete, I got you. You’re safe. I promise, you’re safe.”
It’s a break in the gasps and the haunted eyes, a crack in the glassy fear.
“MJ?” Peter whispers, brows knitting. His chest rises and falls, slowing down from its erratic pattern. “Home?”
“Home, Peter,” she whispers again, a thumbs caressing his cheeks. “You remember where home is?”
Blink. “…Two blocks from May?”
“Attaboy,” MJ smiles, kissing his forehead slowly. “You’re safe, Peter. I’m right here.”
She feels him tense up again, his voice a little shaky. “What—where’s Maysa?”
MJ turns her head, calling Maysa over with a nod of her head.
The child walks slowly. Cautiously.
Peter turns his head, noticing her as if for the first time.
“Hi, Dad,” Maysa says, clutching her mother’s shirt.
Peter sighs, relief washing over him. He loosens up, the hands on MJ’s sides moving to hug her and Maysa instead. He digs his head into MJ’s stomach, breathing evenly.
MJ hugs his neck, kissing the top of his head. “It’s okay, Peter. We’re okay.”
“Sorry,” he says in a whisper.
She laughs lightly. “You dork. It’s not your fault.”
Maysa lets go of MJ’s shirt, fully clinging to her father. “It’s okay, Dad. I get scared sometimes, too. You said it was okay.”
Peter’s laugh is shaky, but his smile stands firm. “I did, didn’t I?”
“Sorry if I scared you, Bib,” he says quietly.
“Wasn’t scared,” Maysa says resolutely, looking at him. “I jus’ wanted to see if you were okay.”
MJ smiles, rubbing his back. “See? Selfless and brave. Just like her old man.”
Peter laughs. “Finds loopholes, hyper-observant, a genius,” he lists, looking up at her. “Just like her ol’ lady.”
“Dang, Maysa, you’re a real mix, aren’t ya?” MJ grins, ruffling her daughter’s hair.
Maysa smiles up at them, eyes crinkling.
She says nothing, just hugs them each tightly, and gives them cheek kisses until they make their way back to bed.
Peter sleeps a dreamless sleep.
Their weekends and off-days are peaceful (usually), living up to the hype of a semi-normal, only partly-superpowered family, with all the little moments and inside jokes that come with it.
“A flower crown for my favorite boy,” MJ grins, crowning Peter’s sleepy head with the twined forget-me-nots and yellow tulips. She moves to their side, kissing Maysa’s cheek and crowning her with the yellow zinnias, tea roses, and moss. “And one for my favorite girl.”
“Do I look awesome?” Maysa asks, grinning toothily. She sits up, hands on Peter’s calves as she looks up at her mother. “Do I look like you?”
(Peter wakes up then, eyes watching MJ’s carefully.
He smiles when her lips twitch up.
His chest constricts when she blinks back in surprise.
He wonders, maybe, if this is what it was like for May and Ben, all those years ago.)
“You wanna look like me, huh?” MJ laughs lightly, opening her arms. (It comes out a little breathless, a little shocked, a little over the moon.)
Maysa hops over, hugging her around her neck and smooching her cheek appreciatively. “Uh-huh!”
“What about your dad? You don’t wanna look like your dad?”
“He has weird eyebrows.”
MJ snorts. “Oh—well—yeah,” she says dumbly, staggering laughter. “That’s true.”
“And Auntie Shuri said he looks like he’s too pale to be alive.”
“Mm,” MJ hums, adjusting Maysa in her arms. “Yeah, a little.”
“I’m right here, ladies,” Peter pouts, but it melts back into a smile as he watches them devolve into laughter.
“Good, Dad!” Maysa says, grinning wide.
Peter tilts his head. “Good?”
“Yeah, you’re always right here!” Maysa says cheerfully. She pats her heart. “And here!”
MJ bites her lip, smiling. “That’s right.”
Peter shakes his head, a dopey grin on his face. “Yeah. Yeah, that’s right.”
“Dance with me!” Peter grins, pulling MJ up.
“That’s not a question,” she laughs, following him into position.
“You stood up, though!”
“You’re excitability is persuasive in and of itself.”
Peter tilts his head, smirking. “Is that why you went to junior prom with me?”
MJ shrugs after he spins her, easily leading him back to the middle of the living room. “Nah, dude—I went to prom ‘cause Ned bribed me with Bruno Mars tickets.”
“Wow. Wow. I see how it is,” Peter says, playfully squinting at her.
She sticks her tongue out in response, and he stumbles, missing a step.
“You did that on purpose,” MJ glares, wiggling her toes.
“I would never hurt you on purpose and you know that,” Peter says matter-of-factly.
“Which is why I know you did it—nothing’s broken.”
MJ rolls her eyes, moving her arms to his neck as the music switches to a relaxed jazz number.
In the span of a quick chorus and a verse, Peter manages to nearly destroy both of her feet and the coffee table.
Maysa watches them with wide eyes and a wider grin, entranced. “Dad’s bad at dancing!”
“Extremely,” MJ snorts, head on Peter’s shoulder as they sway lazily to the music. “Wanna hop in, Bib?”
They make space between them, Peter letting her clamp onto his leg as he awkwardly shuffles around.
“Just don’t leave the top of his foot, okay kiddo? He might step on you,” MJ says, watching her keep her grip.
“Yup, okay,” Maysa replies, hugging her father’s leg tighter.
Peter glances at his wife. “Was this a tactic to get one of my disaster feet off your toes?”
MJ shrugs. “I will neither confirm nor deny.”
Maysa looks up. “Whassat mean, Mama?”
“It means I’m probably right, but she wants to keep me guessing,” Peter says.
“Oh,” Maysa says, furrowing her brows at him, “like when Auntie Shuri makes King T’Challa all scared about his new suit when he visits the lab?”
“Hey, wait—Auntie Shuri let you in the lab?” Peter asks, halting the dance.
“Oops,” Maysa blanks, hopping off his leg. “Bye, Dad! Bye, Mama!”
“Whoa, no-no, come here, Mayday,” MJ says, reaching for her shirt at the last second. “Try that again.”
Maysa grins innocently.
Peter crosses his arms. “What did your godmother let you use?”
“Umm…not the shooters?” Maysa says, pitch rising.
Peter’s jaw drops, and he blinks a few times, unable to start a sentence.
“Definitely not Dad’s shooters,” Maysa adds, hands clasped behind her back as she rocks back and forth on her heels.
“I’m gonna need some tea,” MJ groans, tossing Peter her phone. “All yours.”
“We made a deal about secrets, didn’t we, Maysa?” Peter says, frowning slightly.
“Yes…” Maysa replies, wincing as she looks up at him.
“…And…Auntie Shuri let me use…someone’s shooters…”
She pouts, brows knitting as she stares down at the floor. “…Your shooters…”
Peter sighs heavily, picking her up. “Do you know why I don’t want you to use those?”
“…Because they don’t go away for four hours?”
“Well, yeah, but because, Bib, if you use them wrong, you could hurt someone,” Peter says softly, a finger poking gently at her heart. “And I know you wanna be a superhero, so you don’t wanna go around hurting people accidentally, right?”
Maysa shakes her head.
“Okay, so no more using Dad’s shooters, right?”
“No more, I promise,” Maysa says, hugging his neck. “I wanna be a good guy.”
“You will be,” he says, patting her back. “And I’m gonna go talk to your Auntie Shuri and make sure she helps you keep your promise.”
“Okay,” she mumbles. “Bahiback.”
Peter smiles. “Bahibick.”
“I didn’t know Peter could get so mad.”
“You got off easy.”
“I don’t know, he’s kind of on a different level when he’s mad—like with you, it’s a regular quiet rage, but Papa Parker’s like those cute marsupials that suddenly kick you in the face.”
“Not even gonna ask.”
“I promise not to let your little genius shoot webs at my brother.”
“And…I promise to babyproof the lab.”
“…Eh. Better than lying to my face, I guess.”
Cough. “Your voice.”
“Semantics, wow, leave me alone, I have a kid and a full time job and a superhero for a husband. What do you do?”
Snort. “See ya next week, Shu.”
Laugh. “Later, Jones.”
“I feel like the tallest person should be the one outside the cart, ‘cause height advantage,” Miles says, narrowing his eyes at MJ.
“You’ve really never gone grocery shopping with them, huh?” Ned says, dumping a sack of rice on the underside of the cart.
Maysa points out something to their right, and MJ cheers along with her, legs hanging off the side of the cart.
“All arms and legs inside the vehicle, ma’am,” Peter chastises, carefully placing the ice cream Maysa’d picked out by her side.
“Whatchu gonna do about it, sir?” MJ throws back easily, flipping him off with a downturned hand, subtly blocked from her daughter’s view.
“Nothing, really, but the security guys are giving me the stink eye,” Peter says with a raise of his brows. “Please?”
“Well, because you asked nicely and since I have to be a good role model…” MJ sighs, climbing out of the cart. “Ta-da.”
Peter gives her a quick peck. “Thank you, I love you—”
“No way,” Ned says, looking around the building. “At a Costco?” He shakes his head. “The world is a big garbage dump.”
Miles shares a look with Peter. “You hear it?”
“Entrance,” Peter says gravely. He turns to Ned and MJ. “Head for the backdoor, try to get as many peo—”
“We know the drill,” they say in lazy unison.
Ned picks up Maysa from the cart, and he and MJ start speed walking to the back loading bay, guiding passerby to follow them.
“Okay,” Peter says, rolling his shoulders as he faces Miles. “Ready?”
Miles brings up his hand, the bracelet on his wrist glinting. “Hell yeah.”
(It’s three gunmen and a large truck.
It’s Peter and Miles in perfect tandem, clearing them out by the end of ten minutes.
It’s Maysa cheering loudly the entire ride home, and MJ teasing Peter about her having a new favorite Spider-Man.
It’s dinner that evening with May and Maddie and Philip, and a lot less disappointment with a lot more love.)
Christmas Eve rolls ‘round with appropriate levels of excited yelling and running care of their five-year-old and their similarly-aged hacker friend.
It finds MJ and Peter lounging on their couch as Maysa finishes up her masterpiece—to be unveiled at dinner, with all three grandparents present, and again the next morning at Ben’s grave—talking with their limbs entangled, lying on the couch.
MJ sticks her tongue out at Peter, head resting on his chest. “I can’t wait ‘til we’re old and grey, ‘cause you’ll still be buff and I’ll be a sturdy, heavyset old lady with a human forklift to carry me around town like a queen.”
Snort. “MJ, I already do that.”
“Right, but the aesthetic.”
“Got me there,” Peter says, rubbing her back. “Hey, MJ?”
“Have I told you that I love you?”
“Like a lot?”
“Hmm. How much is ‘a lot’?”
“Like a lot-a lot.”
MJ crawls up, kissing him slowly. “Yep,” she says after pulling away.
“Cool, just checking,” Peter grins, leaning up and kissing her again. “Thanks for existing.”
She pokes his cheek. “Sucker.”
He rolls his eyes. “You said yes to me. Who’s the sucker?”
“Point,” she concedes with a tilt of her head. She lies back down on him, sighing. “But now, you are my human pillow. So. Still you.”
Peter laughs lightly, wrapping his arms around her waist and holding her close until their guests arrive.
(Maysa made a family portrait.
A full family portrait, with godparents and superheroes and robot friends.
Peter catches MJ’s eye.
They laugh lightly, happily, contentedly.)
Light captures them in the moment, their daughter falling quickly into dreamland.
MJ tucks Maysa’s curls, head turned to her husband as she whispers, “So, still wondering if you’re my ride-or-die?”
Peter grins, leaning forward to give Maysa quick kiss at the top of her head as she wiggles in her sleep. He turns to his wife, arms linked with his, head on his shoulder, a hand on their daughter’s cheek.
They stay quiet for a moment, Maysa’s light breathing keeping a constant rhythm. Outside, MJ notes the fall of white—early snowflakes, coming for Christmas Day. Inside, she notes the warmth—a different kind, not borne of an electrical system or a superhuman heater.
The kind of warmth that envelops a broken heart and heals, and gives, and comforts.
Peter smiles, eyes crinkling as he contemplates the same. “Nah.”
“I always knew.”
“Funny,” MJ smiles, weaving her hand through his. “I did, too.”