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Light catches on her hair and Peter wonders if he didn’t actually die that day during senior year, because there’s no way his life right now is real.

“Hey, MJ?”

“Yeah, Pete?”

“I’m your ride-or-die, right?”

MJ rolls over on their bed, hair tangled and brows furrowed. “Dude,” she deadpans as she lifts up her left hand, flipping him off with her ring finger. “We’re married.”

“But like, that’s not a yes.”

She frowns, annoyed. “I chose to break my own personal promise and took your name.”

“Dodging.”

“I—y’know what?” she says, tilting her head contemplatively. “Actually, now that I think about it, Ned’s my ride-or-die. But I’m not interested in him romantically, so hey! Be happy you were second place.”

“Ha. Ha,” Peter says, pursing his lips.

She leans in and kisses him very, very slowly.

He returns to normal, dorky, Stark Industries employee Peter Parker, smiling at his wife (woo!), as the morning sun reminds him that he has a meeting with Shuri at 10, and if he’s late again she’s going to remove his energy absorption, so don’t you dare make a pitstop at McDonald’s, you food heathen.

“You know you gotta go, right?” MJ whispers, pulling away.

“But it’s a technical meeting.”

“You like those, nerd.”

“That’s unimportant—it means I have to leave the bed, and it’s cold out there, okay?”

“Peter,” she says, shoving him with her ice-cold feet, “you’re a heater. And your suit has a heater. And the car also has a—wait for it—a heater.”

He watches the snow falling outside and frowns at the prospect of slush. “I prefer my MJ heater, thanks.”

“I’m getting up in ten; I gotta meet with Ned and Pepper, remember?” she says, successfully getting one of his feet to thump onto the floor.

“We should’ve married earlier, being a working adult cuts into cuddle time way too much,” Peter groans, lazily climbing off the bed.

“We got married before we could legally drink, how much earlier are we talking, here?”

“Dude. Neither of us even drink.”

“The option exists, that’s the important part.”

Michelle Parker,” Peter faux-gasps, “are you saying you’d down a bottle if given the opportunity?”

MJ laughs, enjoying hearing her name said aloud even though it’s been five years. Peter made her happy, and it made him happy to make her happy.

It was a nice cycle.

I wouldn’t,” she replies finally, “but full disclosure? The idea of setting up a drinking game between you and Bucky has crossed my mind many times during team meetings.”

Peter frowns. “He’s ex-military! He probably has tolerance just for that.”

“Oh, def, actually. He’s told me stories.”

“So you’re setting me up to lose.”

“You, theoretically, have a faster metabolism,” MJ blanks. “It’s for science, Peter.”

“...How much is Shuri getting if I lose?”

MJ grins, proud he’s caught on. “Probably enough to set up three more schools.”

“Am I allowed to lose on purpose?” Peter asks, begrudgingly making his way to the bathroom.

“Might put you back in her good graces for always being late, but if she finds out you cheated then you’re permanently in the Banned From The Lab-zone.”

Peter says something, but it’s muffled, and MJ’s pretty sure he’s gotten his head stuck in a shirt again.

She laughs. “Say again, shirt-eater?”

Running water is her reply.

“Don’t use up the hot water!” she yells, returning to her Fortress of Blankets. Peter’s mask lays on the nightstand on his side of the bed, and she puts it on.

“Hey, Karen.”

Hello, MJ.”

“Can you regulate the heat in the house?”

Of course.

“Nice. Could you please set the shower to Frozen Siberia?”

Sure thing.

MJ counts down the seconds in her head.

Beep. Settings changed.

“You’re the best, K.”

Thank you, MJ, you are also the best. Peter thinks you have nice eyes.

“So I’m told. Peace,” she says, taking off the mask and starting a video on her phone. “And three, two, one…”

A screech enters the bedroom, and MJ snickers, peeking from below the sheets.

MJ!

“Yeah, Pete?”

WHY.

“A reminder of how much I love you!”

“LIKE THE TRENCHES OF THE COLD WAR?

“Yeah! Deeper!” she howls with laughter, flipping the camera to her face.

(Peter keeps yelping in the back, but the shower must continue.)

MJ flips off the camera, grinning. “Morning, Ned! Daily reminder that Peter’s a loser. Also, tell Tony the mask needs a lock, or something. Pete's had it for nine years, man—he should be the only one able to access it.”


“‘Sup, Shuri?” Peter says, walking into the lab with thirty seconds to spare.

“On-time?” Shuri replies, quirking a brow. “Bast bless MJ.”

“Why do you assume I’m only on time because of my wife?”

Shuri meddles with a piece of metal on his backup suit. “Because Ned sent me the video, and because it’s usually true.”

Peter’s lips form a tight line.

“C’mon, I’ve got to show you how to run this,” she continues, zipping it back up. “In case you get stuck without the shooters again.”

“What is it?”

Shuri grins.

The one she usually gives her brother, when she’s had a brilliant, devious idea.

“I’m scared,” Peter squeaks.

Shuri waves the suit in his face, still grinning. “You should be.”


Pepper hands MJ a stack of files that makes her regret skipping push-ups all through high school.

And college.

And the two-year (accelerated) JD course after that.

“So, know where I can find a good chiro?” she asks, only half-joking.

Pepper smiles apologetically. “F.R.I.D.A.Y.’s got a list.”

“Within our price range?”

(Saying ‘our’ instead of ‘my’ was one of the easiest transitions she’d ever gone through.)

Pepper nods. “Of course.”

“Sweet,” MJ says, adjusting the files. “I’ll just—oof—get these over to Matt, then.”

“Ned’s coming to help you, right?”

“Yes ma’am.”

The CEO frowns. “Am I that old?”

“Don’t worry, Pepper, I say it to everyone,” MJ smirks. “Law school habit.”

“I’ve never heard you call Wanda that.”

“Yeah, but she’s not that old.”

Hey,” Pepper calls, but the lawyer’s already out the door.


Ned helps her lug the files over to Matt’s office in Hell’s Kitchen, then helps her bring back a different set to Tony’s office upstate.

“Pro tip, bro?” she sighs, downing expensive tea brought back from faraway dimensions. “Don’t intern for Matt. Foggy almost makes it worth, but don’t do it.”

He scrunches up his face. “Aren’t you technically on the Avengers’ legal team?”

You’re technically on Shuri’s lab squad, but look at where we both are this fine winter day,” she says, lying on the couch in the common room. Huff. “Couple more weeks and I’m back to outreach programs and UN visits full-time.”

“Busy bee.”

“You?”

“Testing out the new AIs with Shuri,” he says, sipping his water. “They still talk kinda stilted when switching languages. Then back to suit duty.”

“Lucky.”

“Dude,” Ned squints, “you live with the guy.”

“You forget, I’m helping deal with a new proposal for underaged superheroes and he’s an international one,” MJ says, pushing back her bangs. “I see him as much as you do, plus a few extra hours when my body’s voluntarily unconscious.”

“That’s called sleep.”

She raises her mug like a tipsy pirate. “It’s called Not Enough.


Кошмар,” Peter says.

“Accent on the ‘а’, kid,” Nat corrects.

“Кошмар,” he repeats. “Got it.”

“Good. Keep it up, we’ll stick with accusative all week.”

“Boo.”

Ah-ah, you have a word now,” Nat says, motioning for him to continue.

“Это кошмар,” Peter complies, enjoying the added vocab. He grins. “Отлично?”

“Да,” Nat replies, patting his shoulder. “You’re free—Clint and Wanda should be training upstairs after lunch.”

“He still mad about the last mission?” Peter asks meekly.

She smirks.

He bobs his head repeatedly. “Aight, aight—tell MJ I’ll be dying today and she’s inheriting everything.”

“She already is.”

“Right, but I like to have witnesses, just in case the justice system decides her rights don’t matter.”

“She taught you well.”

“Every-freakin’-day, Nat,” Peter salutes with toothy grin, picking up his notebook as he exits the room. “Every. Freakin’. Day.”


Peter finds them passed out in the common room, Ned on the couch and MJ on the floor by him. Shuri’s sipping from a thermos, taking videos of them with her beads.

“How long?” Peter asks simply, rummaging in his backpack for a hoodie.

“I’ve been here fifteen minutes, so maybe double,” Shuri replies, turning the camera to him. “Any words for the folks at home?”

He waves at it after draping the MIT hoodie on his wife. “My name is Peter and the pretty one’s taken. Oh, and MJ, too,” he says, making a heart shape with his hands. “Larb you, wifey!”

MJ makes a grunting noise, and Shuri gets ready to shut off the video.

Peter tries not to laugh, jumping up to the ceiling with a low, almost-silent snort.

MJ fidgets, leaning on Ned’s leg, her messy curls escaping her loosely-tied bun. Ned snorts, but his leg stays in place.

Shuri giggles, devolving into silent laughter, and the video shakes as she moves to sit on the counter. She zooms in on her friends’ sleeping faces, snorting as Peter slides down on a web and lays a thin sheet of webbing over their bodies.

He grins madly, makes an OK gesture at the camera, blows a kiss at MJ, and slides back up on the thin line of military-grade silk.

“They’re gonna kill us,” Shuri whispers to the feed, moving to hide on the other side of the counter.

Peter joins her, crouching. “Do we let them sleep or should I run an alarm?”

“She’s gonna kill you.”

He’s gonna be the one calling murder.”

“I think they’ve earned a nap.”

“Just realized if I had my mask on we could’ve posted this online. Man.”

“No?” Shuri says incredulously, scrunching up her face. “No, we couldn’t have? Dude?”

“I can dream, Shuri.”

“Those two seem to be.”

MJ wrinkles her nose, the webbing tickling it. She adjusts, barely able to drag some silk down under the hood as she hides from the lights.

Ned’s mouth drops open, webbing keeping it from forming a full ‘O’. He wiggles, furrowing his brows when he can’t get far, and exhales, slumping back into the couch.

“They’re gonna be out for blood, Parker,” Shuri grins.

“I’ll go make dinner,” Peter chuckles quietly, waving goodbye to the video feed. “You guys are the MVPs!” he whispers, exaggerating his mouth movements.


“Aw, man,” Ned says, waking up. “Tsk. MJ, wake up.”

“I’m awake, I just can’t move.”

Ned feels his left leg falling asleep. “I need that limb.”

“I need my nose, too, but guess what’s webbed?”

“I bet Shuri just watched.”

“I smell food.”

Ned tries to crane his neck, thankful Peter uses a thin dose for pranks. “There’s lunch on the table.”

Dude,” Shuri says, peeking from behind the counter. “Lunch?”

“MJ, did you skip again?” Peter asks, crawling over them.

Of course.

MJ is thankful her face is mostly hidden by a dark-colored jacket. “I did no such thing.”

If Ned could squint at her, he would.

He settles for twitching his barely-functioning leg, as a friendly gesture of You liar, if I’m caught I’m dragging you down with me!

A grunt escapes her. “...I did no such thing with an intent to do such a thing.”

“Don’t lawyer us, Jones,” Shuri says, shaking her head.

Which, in retrospect? Kinda stupid.

Because MJ can’t see.

So.

Shuri moves closer, leaning over Ned. “You were driving.”

“I was.”

“You didn’t think lunch was an option?”

“I had Skyflakes?”

“Crackers don’t equal lunch, Ned,” Peter chastises, jumping down. He crosses his arms. “Karen, deactivate webbing, please,” he speaks into one of his web-shooters, and the material dissipates.

Best upgrade you’ve ever gotten, Boo-Man,” MJ says, stretching.

Squint. “Eat.”

Her stomach growls before she can make a retort, so she settles for motioning for her husband to pick her up.

(Which he does. Bridal-style. The goober.)

“Me next,” Ned says, free but happy to continue laying on the couch.

“Spider-Man taxi service?” Shuri asks, watching Peter pick Ned up the same way.

“‘The only acceptable one’, his words,” MJ says, digging into the quiche. “This is good, who cooked?”

Shuri quirks a brow. Seriously?

“Good job, O great freak of nature,” MJ says, turning to Peter as he plops Ned down beside her. “Can we have this for dinner tomorrow?”

“Sure thing,” Peter replies, kissing the top of her head. “I gotta get groceries, though.”

“I can get ‘em for you guys,” Ned says, chugging a glass of water. “I’m free tomorrow, unless my boss…”

“No, you’re good,” Shuri nods. “Parker and I have training the whole day with Bruce. Happy might be free to help if Tony’s hanging around to watch.”

MJ nudges her husband. “If you come home with a black eye, you’re icing yourself. We’re on full cram.”

“I know,” he smiles, getting a kettle ready.

She smiles back.

“Hey, Ned,” Shuri calls.

“Yeah?”

This is true love,” she says, making a frame with her hands and catching her friends in it.

MJ and Peter laugh, posing—her with The Bird, him with a toothy grin.

Ned smiles warmly. “Yeah. Yeah, it is.”


They’ve got May scheduled to visit every week, which means on Sundays she walks the two blocks from her apartment to their house and hugs her family for an indeterminate amount of time.

“How was it this week?” she asks, leaning on the kitchen counter.

“Peter survived Hulk training the other day,” MJ says proudly from the couch. She’s laying on the armrest, legs draped across Peter’s. “Hulk training with Shuri.”

“No black eye?”

“Black tailbone, and I think his ego got bruised.”

“No, but my butt did,” Peter says, wincing at the memory of getting thrown into the floor.

“Shame,” MJ blanks.

“MJ got four papercuts. From foam core,” he says, equally blank.

MJ,” May says, and MJ’s back to being nineteen and afraid to admit that eating hasn’t been a top priority lately, but uh, don’t worry about it, May, seriously.

“It’s winter,” comes MJ’s weak reply.

“Lotion, hon.”

Peter dodges the incoming kick from his wife. “Salty, MJ?”

“Snitch,” she glares.

“I have no secrets with my aunt.”

May coughs.

“...A-Anymore.”

“Those new Accords did you in, huh?” May teases.

“Only a handful of people outside of the team and family knowing my real identity isn’t that bad,” Peter shrugs.

MJ pokes his face with her toe. “You only gave in when they allotted special security for your place, dweeb.”

“I have needs,” he whines. “Which include keeping my family safe. So.”

“Peter, you asked Shuri to make me, Ned, and MJ special suits,” May says, laughing.

“I was nineteen! Living in a different city! I needed to make sure you were safe.”

“Ah, yes,” MJ starts, looking off into the distance. “The ever-terrifying wasteland that is Apley Court. Where one can find not one, not two, but more than three marble tubs.” She pauses, smirking at Peter, “Also, we lived in the same city.”

Ned appreciated the gesture,” Peter mumbles.

“Sweetie, it’s Ned,” May replies, patting his head.

“You’re lucky Shuri didn’t make a prank suit, he would’ve tried to save your ass again,” his wife adds, resting back on the armrest.

“We don’t talk about the Blaze of Sophomore Year,” Peter replies stoically, lowering his voice in pitch.

“Yeah we do!” Ned calls from the front door. He makes his way over, shoes discarded by the door. “Cindy still thinks we should’ve died.”

“Cindy would be correct, if my loser here didn’t have weird, heightened senses,” MJ replies, crossing her arms.

“‘My loser’? Aw, babe,” Peter coos.

MJ squints at him, trying not to laugh. “Married, Peter. Five years. Almost six.”

“I’m more concerned that that’s all he picked up on,” May says, furrowing her brows.

“Your nephew,” Ned squints, stealing bread from the fridge like 24601, “is whipped.”

“I’d hope so,” May and MJ say simultaneously, laughing.


MJ is an open book who has been gift-wrapped to look like a closed one.

So when, on Saturday, three days before she’s officially freed from being Matt Murdock’s part-time intern, having finished all her work two days prior (because she’s still Michelle Jones, just not on paper), she arrives home at 2PM, trudging and pouting, and immediately asks her husband to call in the cavalry, by which I mean Ned, because Shuri’s in Wakanda, Peter has every reason to think she’s Not Okay™️.

She leaves to change to sweats, and he grabs all her favorite blankets, trips down the stairs like a champ, and builds a comfortable Valley of Smoosh in their living room. He gives her a piggyback ride down from the bedroom (because he can, but mostly because he loves her), and sets her down right in the middle, before clicking on the TV.

“So are you gonna tell me what’s wrong, or do I have to bribe you with those paint pens you’ve been eyeing on Amazon?” Peter asks, slumping down perpendicularly behind her.

MJ lays on him, splaying out on the blanket-covered ground. “Know how I checked on the kids this morning?”

“Yeah?”

“It’s Miles.” A beat. “Caught him watching Spidey vids.”

“What, isn’t that like the fiftieth time now?” Peter says, content at being used as a human pillow. “Was it a meme, or something?”

Inhale. “I caught him watching Spidey vids.” Exhale. “On the ceiling.”

Peter sits up abruptly. “On the what?”

Ack—Peter, that’s my back you’re bending,” MJ seethes in pain, rolling off her husband’s legs.

“Oops, sorry. You okay?” he winces, carefully helping her off.

She flops down on her belly, bemoaning her existence. “I will recover.”

“Good.”

“And if I don’t, Matt’s gonna blame you for losing the case.”

Peter frowns. “Didn’t you finish your part already?”

“Irrelevant, he’ll find a loophole. He’s a lawyer, you know.”

Gulp. “...Matt’s version of ‘blame’ or like, everyone else’s?”

MJ tilts her head. “Wouldn’t you like to know?”

“Yes, I would, that’s why I asked.”

“Fun fact: I still don’t know.”

Peter laughs, rolling over to her side. “So, Miles?”

“Ceiling Miles,” she nods.

“Miles on the ceiling.”

“Yup.”

“Anything else?”

“He, uh,” MJ starts, squinting at the TV. “He may have. Disappeared.”

Peter leans closer, brows furrowed. “What.”

“Like a chameleon, not like, actually disappeared.”

“Not like Strange.”

She nods.

“Okay.” Inhale. “What. The. Hell.”

“That’s what I said,” MJ deadpans, bumping shoulders out of habit. “But then he just...scurried out. Like a spider.”

Peter flops on his back, stunned.

“A freakin’ arachnid, babe,” she continues, eyes still on the seemingly endless stream of commercials on screen. “Like you. That’s messed up.”

Peter has a thought. “Do you think he got bit?”

MJ shrugs, eyes widening with the motion.

Peter hopes he didn’t get bit.

That bite hurt, and he felt like he was gonna die.

Oh. Extra thought: “Wait, but—but he doesn’t know, right?”

She turns and frowns at him. “I’m not an idiot.”

“I wanna remind you that you married me. Freely. Your choice. Some people would call it idiotic.”

“Some people are wrong,” she argues pointedly, letting a long groan escape. “Man, where’s Ned when you need him?”

“Entering the house with perfect timing,” Ned quips, entering the living room with pizza. “What’s up, ketchup?”

“Miles is my son,” Peter says with a slack jaw, the news just now sinking in.

MJ turns to him slowly, half her face scrunched up as her only reply.

“That’s a little young to start, dude. Isn’t he sixteen?” Ned asks, confused.

A beat.

“He’s got powers,” MJ explains.

“Wh—like, like—” Ned stammers, looking between them.

“Like Spider-Man powers.”

How.”

“Wait, he’s also like, part chameleon,” Peter adds, jaw still somewhere on the floor.

MJ nods. “Yes. That. Spider-meleon.”

“Silmarillion?”

She shoves her husband. “Serious topic.”

“I’m serious, that’s a cool name.”

“I think it’s lit,” Ned says.

“There will be no coup in this household,” MJ says, pointing at him. “I can still have your room remodeled.”

“That would require you to have actual, non-family guests over.”

“Shuri exists.”

“Shuri has a palace. And like, thirty mansions, probably.”

“Thirty-two,” Peter says, “but most of them are for the schools.”

“The rest are orphanages,” MJ adds, before Ned can make another comment. She re-splays out on the floor. “Two Spider-Boys in my life. How is this statistically possible.”

Ned pulls out his phone, typing. “Well—”

“—finish that sentence and I’m calling the contractor.”

Ned puts his phone away.

“Does he…” Peter starts, before ducking his head. “Does he want to be a hero?”

MJ shrugs. “I’d tell you to talk him out of it, but that would require finding him to ask, and again—” she makes a zoom motion with her hand, “—disappeared.”

“Um,” Ned blinks, opening the box of pizza. “Five cheese?”

Peter takes two.

MJ bites from his, because what’s yours is mine, suckah.

“I now see this is a societal crisis summons, not a movie night one,” Ned says, once they go for their second helping.

“‘ere ‘ey separa’e?” MJ quips, chomping down on crust.

“Point.”

She nods.

Peter tosses Ned the remote. “All yours.”

“Can I charge rentals to Tony?”

“He owns enough films on his account for you not to.”

“So...yes, but conditionally?”

Peter frowns.

MJ snickers, getting up. “Soda? Water? Questionable non-alcoholic drink Wanda got me from her trip to Sokovia last week?”

“Bring on the mystery liquid!” Ned cheers, plopping down on the couch.


(It’s some weirdly good Sokovian lemonade that makes them a) want more and 2) wonder what else Wanda’s got in her drink fridge upstate.)


Miles calls her up to ask to meet the day after her part-time with Matt and Foggy comes to a close, and Peter has to calm her with hot chocolate and their entire inventory of mozzarella sticks.

(It’s a weird combination, but she’s weird, and it’s always worked, so.)

“I’m not gonna stop him, if he wants to,” MJ tells him, downing another cup of hot chocolate. “That would be hypocritical—you were fifteen, and I didn’t do jack to stop you.”

“You were also fifteen,” Peter whispers, an arm slung around her shoulders.

“You were doing the right thing.”

“I almost died. A lot.”

“You wanted to do it, Peter,” she sighs, pouting at her mug. “If he wants to do it, I’m gonna help him.”

“He’s gonna have to sign.”

“...Yeah.”

“Are you gonna keep him from signing?”

“I...can’t,” she groans, slumping her head back on his arm. “I agree with the new rules. I helped make the new rules. I can’t let him skip on them.”

Peter kisses her temple, lingering. “You’ll figure it out.”

“I’ll flip him off ‘til he signs?”

“He’s just gonna flip you off.”

Ha. I’d like to see him try.”

“...Please don’t threaten the kids of our nation, MJ.”

“I don’t have to, I can just call Shuri and she’ll do it for me.”

“Please don’t start an international fiasco by having our friend, a royal from a neutral country, threaten the kids of our nation, MJ.”

“You’re no fun,” she laughs, pecking his lips.

He wrinkles his nose, smiling.

MJ shrugs off the fear. “Aight, let’s do this.”

Peter moves to her back, massaging her shoulders like a boxing coach. “Whatchu gonna do?”

“Talk to Miles.”

“Whatchu gonna tell him?”

“That it’s cool if he wants to be a superhero.”

“What else?”

“That he has to sign the Accords.”

“And?”

“And if he doesn’t agree, I’m stealing his pop tarts.”

Peter snorts. “That’s harsh, dude.”

“I’ll return them if he signs,” MJ says, in the way that Peter’s sure she means: They’ll be in my belly by then, but I’ll buy out a grocery to apologize.

 

Chapter Text

MJ does none of those things, because she knows how to read a room, and Miles is more afraid of her than she is of destroying his dreams.

“Hey, MJ? You, um—you work with Spider-Man, right?” Miles asks finally, and there it is.

She’s prepared to lose her mind. “Yeah.”

“Do you, um—do you know him?”

Hope so, unless there was a switcheroo at the wedding. “Yup.”

“Is he one of your clients?”

“This is all starting to sound like fishing, Miles.”

“I just wanna be a regular kid,” he blurts out, hands wringing.

MJ breathes, relaxing. “Oh, good—”

“But uh,” Miles cuts in, “if...if say, I decide to—you know—do you think I could? Meet him? Maybe?”

MJ quirks a brow. “Like a mentor?”

“I...yeah. Like a mentor.”

If you try to go superhero.”

“If.”

“I’d have you sign the Accords,” she starts slowly, “and then...yeah. I could arrange that.”

Miles winces. “I was hoping we could keep it on the DL, like, maybe—”

“I’m not letting you go run around breaking things and punching people—yes, even if they deserve it—without you signing, Miles.”

“How...how bad would it be to not sign?”

MJ pushes her hair back. “Currently? Jail time. Adult jail time. Everyone would know who you were, instead of the select few if you signed. No Raft, sure, but you’re likely to get stuck in the same prison as the guys you—hypothetically—put away.”

Miles exhales, shaking.

“You don’t have to do it,” MJ says. “Save people, I mean. You don’t need to. You can just be a regular kid.”

“Who climbs walls.”

“We could send you to the X-Men, honestly. Everyone’s weird there. You’d fit right in.”

“I can sting people,” Miles blurts out.

MJ squints. “Uh. ‘scuse me?”

“It’s like a blast of energy, I think. I call it the venom blast!” he says, excitement temporarily overriding fear.

“Oh, you’ve named them,” she deadpans, pursing her lips. “Might as well sign, Miles, you’re already screwed.”

“Be blunter, it’ll hurt less.”

She shrugs. “Sure: you’re likely to experience guilt at knowing you could’ve stopped something if you’d just used your powers. You’re gonna regret a lot of stuff, and you’re gonna lie a lot to your loved ones if you don’t tell them. And your school schedule is gonna suck times fifty.”

Miles frowns. “...You suck.”

MJ’s face says, You asked for this. She continues. “You’ll make a difference, though, if you go for it. Save a lotta lives, probably. But: Miles, you’re sixteen. And I’ll be real with you,” she says, holding his shoulders. “You could die.”

“I know,” he rasps, staring at the floor. “I don’t want to.”

“So don’t do it.”

“You said I’d feel guilty—”

“You’ll feel guilty either way.”

“Does—does Spider-Man feel guilty?”

“He…” Has nightmares, and sometimes has to let me sleep first so he can watch me and make sure I’m real.

Miles gulps.

“...He’s got baggage,” MJ treads carefully. “But he’s been better the last few—” Not years, he doesn’t know I’ve known him that long. “—months. Therapy. Getting rest. Vacations.”

“Spider-Man goes on vacation?”

(MJ has an idea.

It’s terrible.

But.

The potential?)

She smiles sweetly. “Yeah, I’ve gone with him the last few times. He likes to cuddle.”

Miles chokes on air. “Aren’t you—I mean, Peter—

“Our secret, right, champ?” MJ winks, and oh, this is going to be fun.

Miles flounders, Distress™️ written all over his face. “I—that’s—you—”

It’s his own fault for being a steel trap when it comes to secrets, because MJ knows even Ganke isn’t going to hear a word of this. “Remember, bud, I know you’re Spider-Boy.”

“I was thinking more man, but maybe lose the dash—”

MJ shrugs. “We’ll workshop it.”

Miles stares off into the distance, taking deep breaths.

MJ already knows what he’s decided.

“I think...I think I wanna get trained, at least,” Miles says, exhaling. “Do I have to sign to do that? I just wanna control my powers better.”

“Nope. There are provisions for that. ‘Underage tutelage’, something or other.”

“Cool,” he smiles slowly. “Awesome.”

MJ looks at him knowingly. “You’re gonna end up signing, huh?”

He sags, glancing at her sheepishly. “Busted.”

“Hey. I’ll have your back, Miles.”

“Hopefully better than Peter’s.”

MJ smirks. “What can I say? Got saved a few times myself.”

Miles eyes her, trying to figure out if it’s all a joke, because it’s still MJ he’s talking to, Princess Shuri’s co-conspirator for house pranks, but she’s not lying about it, technically, so he fails to read her and just leaves Confused™️ and Concerned™️.


MJ, you are terrible.”

“It’s funny though. You laughed.”

Shuri laughs like a maniac. “Oh, it’s hilarious—I wish I was there. But Peter’s going to be a mess when he realizes what’s going on.

“He’ll figure it out.”

Pause. “Is he gonna sign?

“Miles? Yeah. But training first. Let him have his regular high school drama for a little longer.”

Got it. I’ll get Ned started on a suit. Oh, speaking of—he and Happy dropped off the new comms earlier, at your place. Peter’s still in...Glasgow?

MJ checks her “special” StarkPhone. “Glasgow, yeah.”

Glasgow. Just make sure they work properly; we’ve tested them, but you never know.

“Got it, thanks Shu.”

Pity the spiders, MJ,” Shuri laughs. “See you next week.

“Peace.”

Click.


“M, have you seen the new comms?” Peter asks, checking a crevice on the molding by the kitchen cabinets, because that makes sense.

“Nope, but get down here; I need help,” MJ replies, waving her phone.

Down he goes. “What’s it?”

“Kiss me,” she deadpans, pulling him up to her lips.

Click.

Peter hums as she pulls away. “G’mornin’.”

“Morning, sapling,” she says, patting his cheek as she turns to check her phone. She clicks her tongue. “Redo. Can you tilt up a bit more?”

He hugs her waist, leaning on her shoulder. “You realize I’ll just keep messing up on purpose, right?”

“I’ve accounted for it.”

“Oh?”

“You get three more tries, then I’m locking you outside for four hours.”

Peter snuggles by her neck. “How will you get your perfect shot?”

MJ shrugs in his grasp, moving her free arm to his neck. “I’ll work with the imperfections.”

Cold.”

“Tough.” She holds the phone up by his face. “You gonna comply?”

He wrinkles his nose and pecks hers. “Fiiine.”

“That’s one,” MJ quips, holding out her phone. “Tilt up, an—mmph? Mrrph, mmph...”

Click.

“...Good?” Peter asks, leaning his forehead on hers.

She peeks at her phone. “Ah, gorgeous.”

“Us?”

“Me,” she winks, kissing his forehead and shimmying away from his hold. She makes her way to the stairs, stopping midway to look back at him. “Do not disturb—five hours—please don’t order pizza for lunch.”

“Make that three, lunch is at noon, and I'm cooking,” Peter replies, both hands on his hips. “I’m dragging you out kicking and screaming if I have to.”

MJ flips him off. “Let me live my reclusive life in peace, spandex-face.”

“If you married me and live here, I’m making sure you don’t do something stupid, like skip meals, or forget to sleep,” he replies, squinting. Challenging.

MJ purses her lips, cursing being a double major for worsening her habits. She squints back. “...How the tables have turned.”

“Sucks when it’s you, doesn’t it?!” Peter hollers as she disappears into the second floor. He hears the door to the second bedroom open and close, and returns to looking for the missing co—

“Ah,” he grins, crouching down by the coffee table. “Gotcha.”


Spider-Man “meets” Miles the same day MJ unveils her latest portrait to him: Half-life, the title reads, and it’s a stylistic reimagining of their kiss in the kitchen.

Reds and blues and golds drip down the page in bold strokes, making it look like a quick piece instead of the five-hour (with a break for lunch) manic artist period she’d set for herself. Both people look like they’re breaking apart at the edges, but where they kiss is solid, and Peter likes to think his track record for staying alive the last seven years helped with that.

And Miles? He’s at Peter’s height, now, bursting with charm and easy confidence.

And confusion.

And...why does he keep looking at him funny?

Is it the suit? I clean the suit! Daily!

It can’t be the suit.

...It’s the suit, isn’t it?

“Hey, dude!” Peter says, the voice modulator lowering him in pitch. “What’s up?”

“Uh,” Miles gulps, clinging to the straps of his backpack as he enters the facility. “Hi. You—uh, you know MJ?”

“MJ Parker, right?”

“Yeah.”

Peter nods, trying to be casual. “Yeah, she’s on my legal team. Saved her a few times in the city, actually. And once a long time ago, at a school trip—the D.C. thing?”

He hopes it makes him sound cool, being able to remember the people he saves and whatnot. Being the Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man.

But, it has the opposite effect; Miles keeps eyeing him up and down, in a very glare-y way.

“You, uh—you know Peter?” Miles asks, pulling his Tough Teen voice. “Peter Parker?”

Peter should shake his head, but he’s already three-fourth’s through a nod, so.

Miles squints at him with a fire he’s not used to seeing. “You’re a cool guy, you know?” he starts, but there’s a quiet rage present. “But if you’re gonna be my mentor, you should know what you’re doing with MJ is super messed up.”

Peter’s mask articulates into a confused face. “Uh?”

“She’s married, dude. That’s low.”

What? “What?”

“To Peter,” Miles says, low and intimidating. “Parker? They have the same surname, dude.”

Peter notes that Miles may not need a voice modifier in case he has to run an interrogation. “I’m...sorry?” he says, frowning behind the mask. “I’m kinda lost.”

“Peter’s super nice, and I’ve known MJ since before Princess Shuri’s program—you must’ve done some weird, like, spider-hypnosis or something to her, ‘cause she’s not the type to cheat. Even with a superhero.”

Well.

That explains a lot.

Why did I marry a prankster?

Oh, rightbecause she’s brilliant, and I love her.

He clears his throat. “I’m—I don’t know what she told you, but we’re not—”

Sure, Spidey 1,” Miles nods, scaring him. “Sure. And I’m actually white.”

Peter purses his lips, squinting.

We’re gonna have words, MJ.

So. many. words.

“Let’s...table that conversation,” Peter says, handing him training shooters as they enter the gym. “For now, I wanna see your aim.”


He brings it up when they get home, and MJ smiles proudly because it’s priceless, the way he’s actually started feeling guilty about stealing her from himself.

“Isn’t the point of the program to be a good role model?” Peter asks from the ceiling, frowning.

MJ sips from a juicebox, unperturbed. “I mean, I’ve been with you, what, seven years now? Almost eight? That’s a good role model right there. Long haul.”

“...He thinks you’re cheating on me.”

She salutes with the juicebox. “With you.”

Peter pouts.

“You realize, Pete, when he signs? He’ll know who you are.”

“That could take months.”

MJ quirks a brow. “You think he’ll last that long?”

“You did.”

“Yeah, well, I didn’t know what he looked like when he was fighting. And it’s stressed, but happy,” she says, recalling the training session videos Ned had sent over. “He looks like you.”

Peter shakes his head. “He’s calmer.”

“Fact.” MJ motions for him to come closer.

He crawls above her, dropping down to the floor, and rests his head on her knees.

“He says he wants to be a normal kid, but he’s probably signing next month,” she says, absentmindedly playing with his hair. “But hey, seriously, if you don’t think it’s fun, I can end it.”

Peter sticks his tongue in his cheek, forcing a frown on his face.

Because he does, in his heart of hearts, think it’s a Prime Prank™️.

And he doesn’t want to smile.

Or laugh.

Or let her think she’s one-upped him for Prank of the Year.

For the third year in a row.

“...One more month,” he says tightly, because he’s a sucker, and he knows it.

MJ grins down at him. “Oh, man. This? The greatest moment of my life.”

“The wedding wasn’t that bad.”

“It was amazing, Pete, but if I can’t pull an elaborate prank with my husband, then what’s the point?”

He frowns at her. “You and Ned are a disaster duo and need to take a break.”

“Heh,” she grins, “and you’re stuck with us both.”


They get the rest of the team in on it, because this is the closest they can get to being evil, which makes it cathartic, and Happy even proposes he drive them from place to place to make it even more obvious.

“Good plan, Hap,” MJ says, “but we’re not gonna go that far.” She juts a thumb in Peter’s direction. “He still has a public image, and I still like privacy.”

“The offer’s always on the table,” Happy says, nodding at her. “I’m heading out. I’ll see you two for the conference next week?”

“Just come by for dinner, Happy,” Peter laughs. “We love having you over.”

Happy smiles, chuckling. “Alright, kid. I’ll take you up on that. But no carbs, got it? I’m on Paleo.”

“Happy, that’s like, 99% of my diet,” MJ deadpans, frowning.

“I’ll handle his order,” Peter shrugs, kissing her on the cheek. “I also gotta go, though. Bucky’s got me on dodge training today.”

“Don’t get shot,” MJ says pointedly, watching him climb up to the second floor because he’s extra.

Happy shakes his head, checking his watch. “Thursday good?”

MJ nods. “So all carbs, right?”

“Never change, Jones,” he laughs, nodding goodbye.

“It’s Parker, Hap!” she calls (jokingly) after him. “Like the pasty white dude who climbs things!”


Miles calls MJ a week later while she’s at lunch and asks if he can sign early.

“What happened?” she asks immediately, because there’s something wrong in his voice.

My dad—Uncle Aaron’s trying to get me to do runs,” he replies, voice shaking. “I don’t wanna go back, MJ. I don’t wanna do it again. He’s...he’s threatening my parents this time.

MJ rushes out of the common room, jogging to Shuri’s lab. “Where are you?”

Park Ave, on an apartment complex.

“Roof?”

Yeah.

“Good,” she says, entering the lab. “Stay with me, little man.”

Okay. Okay. Thanks, MJ.

Shuri’s got Nakia trying on new armor; Ned’s at the far side of the room, soldering something onto Peter's Spider-Man suit’s circuit board as one of the robots serves as a vacuum for the fumes.

“Emergency,” MJ announces with harried breath, lowering the phone from her ear. “We need to move Miles.”

“His uncle?” Ned says, furrowing his brows.

She nods.

“T’Challa is at the embassy,” Nakia says, shrugging off her beta-arm guard. “Or is the boy nearby?”

“You hear that, Miles?” MJ asks, bringing the phone back up.

Yeah—at 5th?

“Yeah. You need me to send Spidey?”

No, I’m—I’m good. I can get there. Um. But…

“I’ll take care of your parents. Don’t worry about it,” MJ says, sharing glances with everyone in the room.

Shuri’s already messing with the holograms coming from her bracelet, arranging and rearranging shapes and text MJ can barely make out from her position.

Thanks, Sis,” Miles says, and she hears a door unlocking.

“Swing there, if you have to,” MJ says.

I still only have my uh, ski mask.”

“So drop in an alley.”

What if someone sees—

“Miles, you’re smart. And careful. You can get there without anyone noticing.”

“Michelle,” Nakia says, hand up and asking for the phone. “There’s a back way to the embassy.”

MJ squints. “...Of course there is,” she says, shaking her head. “Miles?”

A door closes. “Yeah?

“I’m putting the Queen of Wakanda on the phone, don’t embarrass me.”

What? Wh—

“Hello, Spider-Boy,” Nakia says, taking the device and walking out of the lab. “When you get to the building to the right of the embassy, on 5th Ave facing south, you’ll see a manhole…”

Shuri moves to MJ’s side, showing her the holograms. “There’s space in the new wing at the far side of the compound, but if they want to stay off-site I can get them a place near Matt,” she says, pointing at the different locations as she talks.

“I can’t believe this,” MJ breathes.

“What? My generosity?”

“No,” she laughs, nudging her friend. “You’re turning into Tony.”

“We were on the same trajectory when we met,” Shuri shrugs. “I’m just skipping the weapons dealer phase.”

“Straight to surrogate billionaire parental unit?”

“Shuri’s net worth is way past billionaire,” Ned says, walking up. He’s wiping his hands, grime covering the cloth. “He gonna be okay?”

“Hope so,” MJ says, staring out the door. “Kid’s strong. Talks about his feelings." Blink. "Usually.”

“He called to sign, didn’t he?” Shuri asks, shutting off the projections.

MJ nods. She can hear Nakia’s footsteps returning, echoing through the hallway.

“Poor kid,” Ned says, shaking his head. “I’ll go finalize his shooters.”

“I’ll get back to the suit,” Shuri says, patting MJ’s shoulder. “You should tell Peter.”

Oh. “Oops.”

Shuri quirks a brow.

“That’s probably why he didn’t want Spider-Man there,” MJ says, laughing awkwardly. “I forgot about the prank.”

“You’re traumatizing that kid,” Ned calls from his station.

“Heh. Heheheh.”

“Your ability to keep a joke up is commendable,” Shuri nods solemnly, clasping MJ’s shoulder like they’re two soldiers in a battlefield.

“I’ll go call his parents,” MJ says, collecting herself. “Who can pick ‘em up?”

“I’ll do it,” Nakia smiles from the hallway. She passes MJ back her phone, grabbing her keys from a nearby table. “He’s with T’Challa.”

“He’s probably having a heart attack,” MJ blanks, remembering the boy’s adoration of the king of Wakanda.

“Oh, it sounded like it,” Nakia laughs, saluting her sister-in-law. “I’ll be backthe forearms feel a little loose, but I like the shoulder pads.”

“Noted,” Shuri nods, saluting back. “Should I tell my brother you’re coming?”

“Let’s keep it as a surprise,” Nakia smiles slyly. “He’s not going to appreciate my speeding.”

“I don’t do traffic violations,” MJ quips.

Ned snorts in the background, the sound of soldering starting up again.

She flips him off. “One time, Leeds, and I wasn’t even in grad school yet. Let it go.”

“Heh,” Ned chuckles, grinning at the women. “Don’t let MJ drive a truck.”

“You don’t want to know,” MJ says, turning to the royals. “You really. You don’t.” Blink. “Go. Miles’ parents. I’ll text the address.”

“Always a pleasure, Michelle,” Nakia laughs lightly, walking off with grace fit for a spy-queen.

“Your sister-in-law could kill me and I’d somehow still find a way to thank her,” MJ deadpans once she’s out the door.

Ned uses the solder to say Same in Morse code.

“Mood,” Shuri nods, already leaning over the armor. “She says if anything happens to T’Challa, she’s making me take the mantle.”

“That’s nice.”

Shuri grins. “That’s loyalty.”


“How was practice?” MJ asks from the couch, leaning to his direction and receiving the expected head kiss.

“Let’s see,” Peter thinks, jumping over to join her. He slides over to the opposite end, feet landing on her lap. “He stung me, disappeared, stung me again, kicked Nat in the face, apologized, then stung me. Again.”

“Say the word and I’ll free you,” MJ says, laughing as he rubs his shoulders.

“I’m in too deep,” Peter smiles sheepishly. “I forgot the thing, actually, and I told him we went to that chocolate factory in Brooklyn the other day.”

MJ guffaws, tapping his knee. “You’re worse than me! He knows I’ve wanted to check that place out, and that I’ve been annoying you to go.”

“I forgot I was in the suit!” Peter laughs, arms up. “Everyone else in that building knows who I am, so I forget sometimes!”

“Dude, I love you so much,” MJ says, eyes crinkling. “You’re such a loser.”

Peter smiles proudly at her, hands out and gesturing for her to move closer.

“What now, Clone Casanova?” she asks warily, taking his hands and letting him pull her over.

“You’re weird,” he laughs, kissing her cheek.

“Okay?”

“I love you.”

She kisses his temple. “I know.”

“...Can you put Neosporin on my back?” Peter ekes out, wincing. “I’m starting to really feel the venom blasts.”

MJ squints at him. “Did the suit not absorb the hits?”

“Well yeah, partly, but the upgrades are still ehhh.”

“Did you tell Ned?”

Peter nods. “He’s working on it, but they’re cramming Miles’ suit so I’ve gotta tough it out ‘til...next week?” he frowns, thinking. “Something like that. Tony hasn’t been sleeping, last I heard.”

“That idiot,” MJ blanks, uncurling from Peter.

He tilts his head. “Where ya goin’?”

“Getting the tablet, so I can yell at Iron Man,” she replies from the stairs.

Peter lies back down, closing his eyes. “R.I.P. Tony Stark, Survived the Infinity War, died to his friends yelling at him to go to sleep.”


Venom, it turns out, likes to golf.

Or, really, his host likes to sneak in to (aggressively) interview multi-millionaires who decide to meet at a venue they can’t even play at yet, because it’s barely spring, why are we going to the country club? Or can money buy good weather now, too?

The same day MJ has to accompany Pepper and Nat to a meeting with some of those millionaires.

The same time Peter—as Spider-Man—is at a nearby top-secret meeting with some heads of government, accompanying Miles to his signing.

Always fun to have their work days collide like that.

Serendipity, if you will.

(But like, stressful, and kinda harrowing.)

Eddie Brock transforms before her eyes into a black, bubbling mass with elongated spike-teeth, an Inception-style mouth, and a knock-off version of the Spider-Man logo on his chest.

“Hey, Eddie,” Nat says calmly, shielding her and some of the other guests. “We don’t have to do this today. There are a lot of innocent people here.”

Venom,” the symbiote responds in a deep, garbled voice. “My name is Venom, Black Widow.”

MJ knows the protocol.

MJ knows, because Venom’s been a pain the past couple years, and she saw what the alien symbiote did to Peter the first time they came in contact.

It was the first time she’d been afraid of him.

“Pepper, we need to go,” MJ whispers, ushering out her boss and the other attendees as Nat circles Venom, stalling.

“C’mon, Eddie, we had a good talk last time, right?” Nat says, pointedly talking to the reporter. “You were doing so well, Eddie.”

“Stop calling for him, Widow,” Venom hisses, “he’s clocked out.”

Thwick!

Venom dodges, the white silk missing his form by an inch. “Welcome, Spider-Man!” he roars, symbiote reaching out behind him into the ceiling. “Your aim needs work.”

“Check again, tarpit!” Peter quips, and the webbing by the villain’s feet explodes, coating him in white.

“Everybody out!” another voice says.

Miles’ voice.

MJ’s gonna have a very long, very annoyed conversation with whomever vetoed the voice modulation in his suit, because this is just ridiculous.

At least his suit looks cool, she thinks, shoving the last old, white male out of the room, and pulls the door until only a sliver of the room is visible to her.

Nat’s started moving to the back exit on the other side, and MJ sees her pull out a heavily-modified taser.

“Eddie, bud—what say you and me take this outside, huh?” Peter calls, bouncing around the hall to the exit. “Talk about those potato chips you love so much, yeah? Fair trade stuff, right?”

Spider-Man,” Venom seethes from his outer mouth. “Your time is up.”

The symbiote-man combination rips through the webbing and lunges after the hero, bounding past Nat and leaving Miles in the dust.

“You ready, kid?” Nat calls to Miles, black-and-red suit and all.

“Nope,” Miles squeaks. “I just signed, I don’t even have a real name yet!”

Nat starts running. “C’mon, Spidey 2, you can earn one later!”

Miles looks like he’s about to protest, but his feet seem to have decided that Help Spider-Man, Freak Out Later is the proper course of action, because he starts running to join the fray, too.

Attaboy, MJ thinks, shutting the door.  

Behind her, the hallway is in chaos—everyone from the dining rooms to the lockers are rushing out of the country club, too busy trying to survive to notice her slip in the opposite direction: the golf course.

(She turns back once, and finds Pepper, who nods.

Go.)


She steals a golf cart somewhere by the putting green and follows the track of mowed-down trees and no-longer-flat grass. By the time she reaches the twelfth hole, Eddie’s got a metallic bracket slung around his torso, passed out under Nat’s foot.

“Nat!” MJ calls, and there’s a crack to it.

Because the only reasons Peter wouldn’t be by a supervillain, or a mugger, or a purse-snatcher are because he’s webbed them, or he’s out cold.

There are no webs on Eddie Brock’s body.

“Over the hill,” Nat says, breathing heavily. She checks around her waist, and curses in Russian. “I’m out, Jones. He needed some in the fight.”

The serum.

For Peter.

The one that accelerates his healing.

Miles clambers up the curve of the hill, carrying her husband’s limp body in his arms. Both their suits are redder than usual.

“MJ!” he yells, mask articulating surprise. He runs over, a hop in his step becoming more visible as he lays Spider-Man on the ground. “MJ, he’s—”

Chill, dude,” she commands, crouching over Peter’s bloodied body, suit ripped and glitching at coming together where Venom had managed to push through. “C’mon, wake up, babe,” she whispers urgently, checking his pulse.

Weak.

Weak, but there.

“Shuri, we’re gonna need the jet,” MJ speaks into the comms on her wrist, hands covered in red. “It’s bad—don’t let May in.”

“I can—I can carry him, if—” Miles sputters, already moving to scoop up his mentor.

(He’s too busy freaking out to catch her slip.)

MJ takes off her blazer and sweater, handing it to him. “Rip these into strips.”

(She’s freezing and wishes she had her coat, but priorities.)

He does as instructed, passing them back to her as he goes.

“He clots fast,” she says calmly, wrapping around the larger, more disastrous-looking wounds. “The only problem will be shards, if any, but the med team can fix him.”

Ned’s nearby and can get you halfway,” Shuri’s voice says, cutting the tension. “How’s the kid?

“Freaking out.”

Miles paces behind her, not refuting the comments. I should’ve dodged, I could’ve, I should’ve

You should be doing that, too,” Shuri replies, and the sound of an engine roars in the background.

“I’m used to it.”

So, on the inside?

MJ feels Nat’s quiet stare on her as she finishes with the makeshift triage. She laughs, low and hollow. “As usual.”

Shuri stays silent, and MJ assumes she’s prepping the med bay.

“How many times have you patched up Spider-Man?” Miles asks, concerned.

“Too many,” she replies with a low voice, caressing Peter’s mask-covered jaw.

Miles’ feet are digging another ditch, but he’ll apologize to the country club later. “I thought you only hung out and stuff?”

MJ raises her eyebrows, remembering her little prank.

And that, if he’d just signed, he probably doesn’t know Peter’s identity yet.

“Ah,” she blanks. “Yeah. That was a half-lie. Or a half-truth, depending on how you look at it.”

(Peter’s already clotted, and his pulse gains some strength.)

Yo, I’m swerving into the employee parking lot in twoget ready,” Ned’s voice comes in, and she moves to let Miles carry Peter.

“Copy. Nat, you good with Eddie?” she asks, turning to the spy.

Nat clicks a button on the bracket, and Eddie’s body hovers slightly off the ground. She picks him up like he’s a pillow. “Yup.”

“You only got one of those?”

“Two, but if his suit’s glitching I doubt it’ll work right,” Nat replies.

Tch. “Sorry, Miles,” MJ says, walking beside him and keeping a hand by Peter’s head and neck.

Checking.

Constantly.


“He kept taking the hit,” Miles blurts out as they reach the Stark Industries van.

Nat snorts. “He does that.” She plops Eddie down in a built-in cot, messing with a computer to keep him secure.

MJ sees Ned in the driver seat in her peripheral, and moves to block his view of Peter as they haul him into a similar cot, and just.

Wait.

“I guess I see why you like him,” Miles whispers to MJ.

“That’s not it,” she says softly, not looking up once.

She hopes there’s nothing alien in Peter again. Nothing to remove, with great pain and worse mental exertion.

Nothing that evil, twisting his thoughts.

Just him—sweet, kind, lovable him.

The guy who smiles at her in disbelief every morning he wakes up.

The guy who texts her science jokes and math memes when he knows she’s in a meeting.

The guy who gives her hugs and tells her she’s weird and awesome and that he loves her.

That guy.

Just Peter.

No symbiote.

Please.

“MJ?” Miles whispers, taking off his mask. “What’s wrong?”

She looks up.

His face is scot-free.

She laughs, and it reaches her eyes. “Man, he loves you a lot, you know that? You’re what he was to Tony, but worse, ‘cause you’ve been family.”

Miles furrows his brows. “Who? Spider-Man?”

MJ looks over his shoulder. “Hey Nat, can you pass me one of the first-aid kits?”

“Catch,” Nat smirks, and Miles surprises himself by doing just that.

“Here,” he says, passing it to MJ.

“Thanks,” she replies, moving to clean the dried blood and replace the makeshift bandages with real ones. “And yeah, Spidey 1. Ish.”

Miles looks between her and his mentor, confused. “Ish?”

“It was a fun run,” MJ laughs softly, moving to remove Peter’s mask.

Miles catches her hands. “Uhhh, I don’t think we should—”

“Chill, Spiderling,” MJ says pointedly. “You signed.”

“But he’s—he’s out—”

Peter groans.

“Perfect timing,” MJ says, raising her eyebrows briefly. She turns to her husband, watching his mask blink back to life. “Wakey-wakey, Spidey-Prime.”

“Everything hurts,” he complains, eye shields squinting and unsquinting.

“Do you feel any rage?” Nat asks, taser ready.

Uh,” Peter replies, settling on a squint. “No? I just really want water. Did we get him?”

“Yeah,” MJ whispers, pulling his mask halfway up and kissing him.

Right there.

In front of Miles.

“I feel very uncomfortable,” the young hero says with a strained voice.

Peter laughs into the kiss, and MJ snorts, pulling away.

“Mind saying a sentence there, Spider-Man?” she smirks, watching Miles.

“What’s up, dude?” he complies, the mask no longer modifying his voice. “Great job out there, Spiderling.”

“That’s—” Miles frowns, pointing.

Peter has the audacity to grin.

(Nat pockets her taser.)

MJ pulls the mask off her husband’s face, cackling. “Miles, meet Spider-Man. Peter, I believe you’ve met.”

YOU!” Miles yells, jabbing his pointer into the air in his direction. “I THOUGHT YOU WERE—AND YOU—”

It’s loud enough for Ned to tap the (supposedly) sound-and-bulletproof glass behind the driver’s seat.

The group turns, and he uses his free hand to hold up a (handwritten) sign that reads: I’m sorry they messed with you + CONGRATS ON JOINING!

Miles sits down in disbelief for the rest of the ride, eyeing Peter and MJ like they’d just melted his brain and put it back together.

Which, to be fair?

True.

Chapter Text

“Congratulations, you’re not gonna be evil,” Shuri says, handing him the test results on a doodle-covered clipboard.

Peter breathes a sigh of relief; he’s patched up and bruised beyond belief, but the symbiote isn’t in his system and that’s all that matters.

Also, May brought him cake.

So.

“Figure out why the suit glitched?” he asks.

Shuri nods. “Remember when he tried to take you as host?”

“I think forgetting is the problem.”

“Don’t sass me, Parker—he must’ve absorbed some of the suit’s properties along the way. Evolved. We were working on adjusting the systems, anyway. Miles’ suit runs differently, for instance—if Venom tried that with him, it wouldn’t have gotten through.”

“So you’re saying he didn’t have to be a meat shield?” MJ blanks, walking in. “Imagine that.”

Peter frowns. “No way I could’ve known.”

“I’m not saying you shouldn’t have done that,” MJ says, taking his hand. “But uh, maybe we don’t tell Miles? Or, not yet. He’s beating himself up about you.”

“Wow, even after finding out we messed with him for almost a month?”

“You saved his life, dork, I think that counts for something.”

“Also, he loves Peter,” Shuri adds, giving him an approving nod.

Peter quirks a brow.

(Like, he knows that, but there’s a story there.)

“He kept trying to talk you up when ‘Spider-Man’ wasn’t around, trying to get people to shove other-you in relationship jail or something,” she says, shrugging. “It was very amusing.”

Aw, he’s like a little you,” MJ coos teasingly. “Except the same height.” Squint. “How does that happen? You’re both Spider-Man—Men? Man and Child?—You’re both the same height, and you’re both in my life.”

“You forgot they’re nerds,” Shuri says, rubbing her chin. “They must have some differences.”

MJ snaps her fingers. “Miles isn’t a loser!”

“Remind me, why do you love me?” Peter asks, frowning.

“You’ve got a big ol’ heart and you cook better than your aunt.” Pause. “And you smell nice.”

“Get your nose checked, Jones,” Shuri quips, laughing as she takes back the clipboard from Peter.

Peter hums. “You jus’ jelly.”

“Boy, of what?”

“MJ likes me more.”

“So?” she scoffs. “She likes Ned most.”

Peter frowns again, and Shuri walks out with MJ’s snickering as her theme song.


Ned steals the pizza box from under Peter’s feet, passing it to Shuri.

“Eat better food, Parker,” Shuri says, smacking his head with the box.

Er.

Trying to.

Stupid spider-sense.

“Didn’t have time to cook yesterday,” he grins, looking up at the ceiling. “MJ’s been eating out, too.”

“At least she gets Thai, not pizza.”

“I’m a New Yorker! I have needs!”

“No‍, yeah, I feel that,” Ned says, nodding.

Shuri glares. “You do know that he’s been on leave as of yesterday, right?”

Ned furrows his brows. Peter always prep cooks. His schedule is On-Call, Basically Forever, sure, and he still works in the lab, but MJ hasn’t had a breather since the Matt case and the whole Miles thing, so he’s been doing pretty much all the cooking the last few months.

Skipping was unlike him.

Ned frowns. “Wait, so why—”

Peter raises his left hand at them, ring glinting. “Gentle reminder: married. Almost died last week. Wife’s schedule only fixed up the other day.”

“Oh,” Ned says, eyes widening in fractions. “Ohhhh.

Shuri shakes her head, and throws the box at Peter.

(He catches it without even turning his head, the freak.)

“Have fun with Honeymoon 28.0,” she says, “but dang, Peter, eat something healthy.”

“We’re going to Costco later. Gonna get all those nuts and berries you keep yelling at us to make snack bars out of.”

“Good.”

“Can I Venmo you?” Ned says, walking up behind him.

Peter nods. “Same amount, or?”

“Eh, if the expiration’s gonna take a while, go ham. I’m entering Busy and Dying zone, so.”

“Please don’t work our Ned like a dog,” Peter pouts, turning to Shuri. “He’s important and we love him.”

“Dug his own grave,” she replies, walking to the door. “House security seems in order—I’ve got a meeting with the Guardians soon, so I’m out.”

“Oh, whoops,” Ned says, following her to the door. “Gotta show Rocket the new...rocket.” Blink. “Later, dude! Love you!”

Peter laughs, raising a heart-shape with his hands. “See ya, guys! Love you!”

Shuri turns briefly, saluting him. “Love you, Parker. Tell MJ we stopped by.”

“Knowing her?” he says, dreamily looking back up at the ceiling. “Probably had the indoor cameras up on her phone.”

Shuri puts up two Birds briefly, grinning as she slips into her shoes. “Cheers, Jones!”

Ned waves at the aether. “Hi MJ! Peter’s still alive! I’m gonna call before I stop by tomorrow, promise.”

Shuri guffaws, stepping out. “C’mon, Leeds.”

Ned throws finger guns at Peter, hastily puts his boots on, and closes his coat as he walks out.


MJ sits with his mask on, drawing him.

“How long before I can move?” he asks, eyes closed on the bed.

“When I initiate the next make out session, you may move,” she deadpans, the sound of a pencil overtaking the silence.

“Time frame, babe.”

“I’m shading.”

Nice.

“If you mess me up, I’m redoing the drawing.”

“...From scratch?”

“Keep talking and you’ll find out.”

Peter shuts up, concentrating his hearing on her breathing.

Her pulse.

It’s always nice to hear her pulse.

He keeps still until the pencil finally ceases moving, and he hears her plop the sketchbook on the nightstand. “Don—mmph!”

Peter doesn’t need to open his eyes to know MJ’s rolling hers. “What I say?” she asks, pulling away from his lips.

“Something something, initiate, something, make out session, something,” Peter replies casually, holding her waist loosely from the side. He peeks, finding her hair in Full Floof, mask nowhere in sight. “Hi.”

“Hello,” she grins. “It’s on the floor, in case you gotta run.”

“Swing?”

“You…”

“Are awesome?”

“No.” Pause. “Well, yes, but no.”

“Amazing?”

She leans in, stopping a breath away. “Are talking too much.”

“Your fault, you made me shut up for too long,” he deadpans. “You know I have a limit.”

MJ sits up, frowning. “You wanna have a limit on time with your wife? ‘Cause I got places to be, Spidey-Prime.”

“Oh?” Peter asks, waggling his brows. “Really?”

“Ye—screw you, stop making that face—I have friends, you know.”

“It’s Saturday. They’re all busy.” Pause. “Also yes, feel free to.”

Squint. “I hate you,” MJ mumbles, rolling around to face away from him.

Heh,” Peter says, leaning over her shoulder. “You blushing, MJ? You blushin’! Look at that! Adorable.”

She goes and huddles under the blankets, face red and laughter bubbling. “Scram.”

He nuzzles his face by the crook of her neck, mumbling, “But you love me!”

“Scraaaaam, Peter.”

“That was a little weak.”

“You’re tickling me with your dumb hair, of course it’s a little weak.”

Mwah,” he says, kissing her cheek. “You like my hair. You think it’s nice to draw.”

“Excuse you,” she mumbles, dragging the blankets farther up her face, taking her husband down into the shade with her. “I love your hair. You have a funny cowlick thing going on, but in the front. Also it’s soft, and blah blah blah—all that good stuff—etcetera.”

“I skipped on shampoo one summer,” Peter says sagely, resting his jaw on her cheek and ignoring the unamused frown he feels her make. “Only used conditioner, ‘cause I didn’t think I needed both. That’s why it’s so soft.”

MJ turns her face enough to shrug him off. “You’re a weirdo.”

“Yup.”

“Like, super weird.”

“I’m kinda super.”

Wooow.”

“I don’t know if you heard,” he says, dropping his voice to a whisper, “but I’m Spider-Man.”

“Which one?” she quips, smirking. “The one that looks like a buff ant, or the one that looks like a stick bug ate an ant?”

“The one that looks like a buff ant.”

“Good, he’s my favorite.”

“Really? Well, you’re my favorite,” Peter says, right by her cheek. “Wanna go out sometime?”

MJ clicks her tongue. “Shoot, can’t.” She shuffles, rolling to face him, and shows him her ring. “Married.”

Tch. “Tough luck.”

“Yeah. He’s really smart though. Works with Tony Stark. Directly,” she says, staring blankly at his face.

He copies her expression. “That’s good. So he likes math?”

“Oh, tons. He’s got math and science jokes on half his wardrobe.”

“Wow, what a loser.”

“That’s what I said.”

“But?”

She shrugs. “He aight. He’s got great hair.”

“So do you.”

“Obviously. I have high standards.”

“Sure, he’s gotta be something to hang with you.”

“Jealous?”

“Kinda.”

“Good,” she says, moving closer. “He’s special.”

“More special than Buff-Ant-Spider-Man?”

“Equally, but I got invested early.”

He moves closer, tilting his head and quirking a brow. “Really?”

“He talked to me in high school,” she says, a soft look overtaking her features. “First person to try.”

“Wait, really?” Peter frowns, leaning up on his arm. “Me?”

“Yeah, dude,” MJ laughs, eyes crinkling. “You were the first, in algebra. And then Ned, in English, second period.”

Blink. “You had a crush on me in freshman year?”

MJ snorts. “Hell no. I just thought you’d be a nice person to have around.”

Peter knows the rest, nodding, “That’s why you sat by us at lunch.”

“Uh-huh. Good friends.”

“You didn’t have friends.”

You know what I mean.”

He kisses her hand while making a funny face. “Freshman-MJ made a good call.”

“Freshman-MJ was named Michelle,” she corrects, quirking a brow.

“Oh, yeah, Michelle.” He lies on his back, face mostly masked by the blanket. “I knew her well.”

“You make it sound like I died.”

“Nah, that was just me.”

She squints, lips pressing together. “Peter.”

“Eight years ago!” he laughs, turning his head to face her. “C’mon, that was funny!”

“You suck,” she deadpans, laying on his chest lazily. “You suck because that joke is funny.”

He rubs her back, chuckling. “You can laugh, babe.”

“I’m protesting.”

“By laying on me like an iguana?”

She pecks his nose. “That’s specific.”

“We were watching Nat Geo at the lab last week. Tony said Dum-E was like the baboon, then Dum-E like, ‘accidentally’ started up the fire extinguisher.”

“Ah. Nerds.”

“...You went to Harvard Law.”

“So I’m a nerd, too. A cool nerd.”

“Very cool,” he blanks, hugging her in place.

“...Was that a dig at me? Wow. Hurtful.”

It was not.”

“I felt that in my bones.”

MJ.

“I think I need to stage an intervention with Ned. You’ve gotten mean.”

Michelle,” he whispers, tugging her up by his face. “Did you know I’m in love with you?”

“I had a feeling,” she says, wrinkling her nose. “Are you aware that you stare at me a lot?”

“Yeah.”

“And try to serenade me?”

“Yup.”

“And have the dumbe—sorry, sweetest smile?”

“Uh-huh.”

“Cool. So am I.”

“What, aware?”

“Yeah. And I’m freakishly in love with you, too,” she deadpans, kissing him steadily.

Peter smiles as she pulls away. “I was just thinking about doing that.”

“We’ve got the whole day,” MJ smirks, diving back in.

Chapter Text

Miles gets handed off to train with the other (local, on-world) Avengers every few days, worming his way to their hearts the same way Peter did. Ganke hangs around sometimes on the weekends, and Miles and Peter accidentally find themselves reviving The Prank.

Because they both keep forgetting that Ganke doesn’t know Peter’s Spider-Man.

And forget to tell him, ‘cause they assume he knows.

And one time, the kid doesn’t knock when he opens MJ’s office door.

And she’s lip-locked with the famed costume-clad hero for a brief moment—a quick, ‘Kay, I’m off to lunch moment.

“Oh, hey, G, M,” MJ nods, walking past him and Miles.

“Did—she and—” Ganke flounders, looking between her and Spidey 1.

“Yeah, that’s pretty normal,” Miles says casually, waving at Peter. “We up for training on Thursday?”

Peter rolls his mask back down, it and the rest of his suit looking a little grimy, likely from training. “Yeah. Hey, Ganke! How ya been, man?”

“He...knows my name?” Ganke squints.

Miles nudges him, laughing. “Dude, duh. It’s just Peter.”

Peter waves.

Ganke blinks. “Ohhhh.”

“...I forgot to tell you, didn’t I?” Miles winces.

“Yup.”

“We were worse,” Peter laughs, high-fiving them. “We made Miles think something was going on. On purpose.”

Ganke keeps staring at him.

“You okay, G?” Miles asks.

“Peter, your voice is weirding me out,” Ganke says.

“Oh, one sec,” Peter says, removing the mask. “Better?”

“Your voice modulator makes you seem tougher.”

“I’m gonna pretend that didn’t hurt me in my soul.”

“Even though it did?” Miles asks.

So much, dude,” Peter pouts at Ganke. “But hey, now that that’s cleared up—wanna go watch Ned and Shuri make Miles run tests?”

Ganke raises a brow. “What kind of tests?”

Spidey 1 takes him under his not-currently-there-so-it’s-mostly-metaphorical-wing. “The greatest kind.”

“Is she gonna make me stick to the ceiling in one spot while Vision blasts me again?” Miles asks, cowering.

“I have no idea,” Peter says slowly, “but I’m also not saying she didn’t make me do that a little while ago.”

“I’m gonna die.”

“Nah.”

“I shouldn’t have signed.”

“You can quit whenever you want, Miles.”

“I…” Blink. “That wouldn’t be...right. I think. To me. To quit when I could be helping people.”

Peter turns to the boy under his arm. “Ganke, how old are you?”

“Sixteen?”

“Sixteen,” Peter echoes, turning back to Miles. “Same as you. I started at fifteen. It sucks on the brain, and it makes dating a pain bigger than the Hulkbuster.”

Miles frowns, thinking. “You already sucked at talking to girls tho—”

—Okay, wow, I’m gonna have a talk with your Big Sis about not telling people that,” Peter cuts in. “My point is, it’s hard to live a normal life. So keep that in mind.”

“I’d feel worse if someone got hurt because I couldn’t save them,” Miles whispers, looking at his feet.

Peter smiles. “Yeah. That’s why I did it.”

“You ever regret it?”

“I regretted...going too all-in,” Peter says, tilting his head. “Too early. Almost died from it, too. It’s about finding the balance, y’know? You can’t save everyone, even if you really, really want to. You’re gonna fail sometimes—or a lot, if you’re like me, but you fight better already so I doubt it—and again. Dating? Sucks.”

“You and MJ dated, though.”

Peter quirks a brow at him.

“...She knew, didn’t she?”

“MJ knows everything,” Ganke says, beating Peter to it. “She’s like an oracle or something.”

“Nah, just an obsessive researcher,” Peter snorts, slinging his free arm over Miles’ shoulders. “And we really gotta go. Shuri likes to add five minutes to the timer for every ten seconds you’re late.”

Miles gulps. “I’m gonna die.


They hang out a lot, the mentor/protégé/mentor trio.

Usually in the park, now that spring has decided to finally arrive.

MJ still helps Miles with math and English homework, and Peter still tries to sneakily throw rolled-up paper bits at her, because he’s five.

“Remember when you asked me why I don’t teach kids?” MJ asks, dodging another tiny napkin ball with her own version of spidey-sense.

(She likes to call it her Dumbass Doing Dumbass Things-sense, which Peter thinks is both mean and true.)

Dodge. “You know, and ignore the fact that my second major is in mathematics?”

“This is why, isn’t it?” Miles asks, looking over his shoulder to watch Peter roll up another piece of paper.

“Actually, I was gonna say it’s ‘cause I’d have to go back to school for a license, and I don’t have time right now.”

Squint.

“Heh. Yeah, it’s ‘cause I live with one.” She grins, dodging the latest in the barrage.

“You still help out at the rec centers, though,” Miles says.

“You can pry outreach work from my cold, dead hands,” MJ says, lowering her voice. “Seriously. Tell your friends.”

“You’re insane.”

“Can confirm.”

“Thanks for sticking with me,” Miles says, smiling lopsidedly.

MJ gives him a side hug, her pen poking his cheek. “You’re my brother, you know that?”

“Yeah. And you’re my Big Sis.”

“No, Miles,” MJ says slowly. “You’re my brother, okay? Screw anyone who says otherwise. You’re blood to me, got it? And to Peter. Even if that doesn’t make sense.”

“Because he’s white.”

“Because he’s Jewish.”

Hella,” Peter says, tossing another scrap through the wind.

MJ turns, catching it like a pro. “Hey Kobe, you’re aware that you’re littering, right?”

“MJ, it’s like you don’t even know me,” he replies, gesturing ahead of them.

There, neatly arranged into a tiny, webbed version of a tumbleweed, are the paper bits.

“That’s so extra,” Miles says, wide-eyed.

MJ puffs up her cheeks, loosing air and mumbling to herself. “Three, two…”

Miles jumps up from his seat. “Can you teach me?”

“...Predictable.”

“When you’re eighteen,” Peter grins. “It’s tricky, and got upvoted to official use only.”

“Of which this is not,” MJ says, not turning back around. “Also, we’re in public.”

“We’re in the back corner of the park that everyone assumes is a body dumping site.”

“Everyone has a point, and several witnesses to prove it.”

“...Why am I getting tutored in math at a crime scene,” Miles asks, looking between them.

“And English,” MJ and Peter say together.

“...That isn’t helping how creepy this is starting to feel.”

They stare at him, exchanging secrets glances that make him wonder why he trusts them so much.

MJ could write this off and stow it away as a freak accident.

Peter was stronger than him. More skilled. Had a better suit and shooters.

Silence, as the breeze cuts through the bushes.

Silence, as MJ tilts her head up a fraction, staring him down with empty, emotionless eyes.

Silence, as Peter leans forward, hands behind his back, a ghost of a smirk on his lips.

Miles wonders if this is all a dreama ploy, a deception sent by his uncle, somehow, to end

Click.

“Oh, man, your face, Miles,” Peter laughs, falling forward. “MJ, didja get it?”

“Got and sent,” MJ says, smirking.

Peter’s phone buzzes, and he grins like a dope, all teethy and lopsided.

MJ pats Miles’ shoulder. “My dude. My bro. You’re stupid.”

“I hate you,” he says, half-frozen.

“So no pasta for you?”

Miles frowns tightly. “...I dislike...one part of your personality…”

“Coward,” she laughs, giving him a noogie. “C’mon, I think you’ve got functions down pat. Grammar needs work, though.”

“Spelling?”

“Spelling’s aces.”

Sweet.”

“Good job, Same-Height-Man!” Peter says, giving him a high-five. “Race you?”

MJ squints at them. “Really?”

“Cardio, I swear,” Peter says, raising his web-shooter-less hands defensively.

MJ squints harder.

Miles pouts. “C’mon, MJ! You said you needed some exercise.”

“Racing two mutants is not the exercise I had in mind.”

“Bench pressing the entire Harry Potter series,” Peter says with a snap of his fingers. “Your ideal exercise regimen.”

Percy Jackson, too, B1,” MJ adds.

“What’s ‘B1’?” Miles asks, furrowing his brows.

Bananas in Pajamas,” the couple answer together.

MJ blinks. “On a roll today, Peter.”

“Is it happening?” her husband asks, looking around dramatically. “Are we finally turning into one mega-organism?”

“I guess so. Is Mercury in retrograde?”

“No idea, but if it’s a good thing, shouldn’t we want it to not be?”

“Y’all are dorks,” Miles laughs. “Let’s just walk it, it’s like ten blocks tops.”

MJ cooks dinner back at the house, mostly because she misses it, but a little bit because Peter’s gotten good, sure, but his bolognese is still weak, even with an Italian aunt.

(Like, May’s baking and Jewish cuisine is choppy at best, but her pasta?

Amazing, world-ending, heaven sent.)

They sit and talk and swap mundane stories of extraordinary people until the conversation settles to a calm silence, with MJ back to sketching them and Peter absentmindedly flipping through channels.

He lands on a children’s show, the old footage of two walking bananas finally educating Miles on the earlier joke.

They sit there, half-talking, half-watching. Someone makes a joke about a costume and a jump cut that leaves the room laughing, and the day goes on with them enjoying each other’s company.


Next time Miles comes over, he’s had time to think, and strikes right after Peter starts laughing at a Spider-Man meme he shows him.

“Do you think your kids are gonna have, like, weird powers, too?” Miles asks, taking a bite out of a (stolen, from Sam) sandwich. “I mean, you’ll def be great parents. Like, MJ—you’ve been taking care of me since forever, and you handle the other kids better than Shuri sometimes. And Peter, you’re like, king of spoiling. But with love. It’s awesome.”

Peter stops laughing. He sneaks a glance at his wife before he speaks: “She—she didn’t tell you, huh?”

Miles tilts his head. “Tell me what?”

“It was never brought up,” MJ cuts in calmly. She glances up from her binder, giving him a tight, one-sided smile. “It’s uh—I—” She shakes her head, a small, awkward laugh escaping her lips. “I can’t have kids.”

(Peter smiles at her like she’s the world, and the world’s gonna be okay.)

“Oh,” Miles says, dumbfounded. “I didn’t—I’m sorry—”

“It’s cool, man,” MJ says softly, more for his benefit than hers. “We’re gonna adopt when we’re a little older.”

“Still.”

“Miles,” Peter says, patting his shoulder. “It’s cool. We found out a few years ago. MJ took it like a boss.”

“Peter cried like an actual baby,” MJ blanks, a pen balancing on her nose. “May and my mom have video evidence.”

“...Thanks.”

“You’re welcome.”

“Point is, we’re good,” Peter says, turning back to Spider-Man 2.0. “More than one way to have a family. You just focus on training, so we don’t have to freak out every time you’re out kickin’ butt, aight?”

“I’m not that bad!” Miles protests. “I didn’t get cut last week!”

MJ snorts. “Out of…several weeks’ worth of fights? Yeah, okay,” she says. “Take training seriously if you’re staying in the game, Miles. If you didn’t heal so fast or had a good suit you’d be dead by now.”

“Blunt.”

“It’s not getting to you like it should; maybe I should be blunter.”

Peter grins.

Evilly.

It’s not a thing one would ever want to see on Peter Parker’s face, and yet there it is.

“Uh…” Miles says, volume decreasing. “You...you okay there, Peter?”

“MJ,” Peter says, tilting his head. “When’s Bruce back in town?”

“We’re not letting him train with Bruce,” she says, eyes back on her binder.

“We’re not,” he argues. “He’ll be training with the other guy.”

“Uh. Are. Are we talking about. Bruce Banner…?” Miles asks, looking between them rapidly. “The, uh, the Hulk?”

Peter shrugs. “Common misconception, they’re not really the same person.”

“But. The Hulk.”

“Miles isn’t training with the Hulk,” MJ says again, a little less deadpan. “Underage heroes aren’t allowed to train with the Hulk.”

“I believe the rules were ‘train alone with’ the Hulk,” Peter says with a sing-song voice.

“You did this to him,” Miles says to MJ, pointing at his mentor. “You made him an evil genius.”

“Well, if he’s training with you I don’t think it’s that evil,” she replies, closing her binder. “That’s one of the things we edited in the new proposal, but you’ll likely be eighteen or almost eighteen by the time those pass, so off to Hulk training it is, I guess.”

Miles pouts. “You’re putting up a big fight for your baby bro here, MJ.”

“Might make you realize what you’re in for.”

“I know what I’m in for!” he half-yells, exasperated. “I know, okay? I have nightmares about it, and—”

“Idiot,” MJ says, getting up to hug him. “You see how hard that was? Or wasn’t? You can talk to us, dude.”

“I know what it’s like, Miles,” Peter says quietly, and there’s a tone he’s never heard before.

Something broken.

Something scarred.

“You talk to Ganke, at least?” Peter asks carefully.

Miles nods.

“Good. But you gotta talk to us, too, okay?” Peter says, joining the hug. “It’s not good to be distracted when you’re out there.”

“You could get hurt,” MJ whispers. “You could get someone else hurt.”

“I don’t want someone else to get hurt,” Miles whispers back.

“I know you don’t, little man. That’s why I give you crap about it.”

“Thanks, MJ. Thanks, Peter.”

“No prob, B2,” MJ says, freeing him.

Peter follows. “Anytime, dude.”

“So...no Hulk training, right?” Miles asks, smiling. “That was just a jo—why are you still making that face, Pete? Dude? Sir? MJ? Why?”


Bruce wrecks them.

Ned is starting to understand why Shuri makes them do tests that last stupidly-long, because the stamina required to fight the Hulk and survive, even with enhanced arachnid-style abilities, is ridiculous.

“Dude, MJ’s gonna kill you,” he tells Peter, who’s currently nursing a sprained shoulder on a bench.

“Sorry, kid,” Bruce says, sipping from a water bottle like he didn’t just throw two Spider-Folk around the training room like they were twigs.

For an hour.

With glee.

Peter shakes his head. “Nah, my fault—I should’ve caught myself.”

“While catching Miles?”

“...Maybe.”

“Take your own advice, Pete,” Ned says, going to pat him on his shoulder, stopping because duh, then pats his head instead. “Can’t catch everyone.”

“Fine, fine. But he didn’t see that first one coming.”

“True.”

Peter turns, looking to the other end of the gym. “Hey, Miles, how you feelin’?”

“Like...guacamole...” the boy groans, still in his mini-crater on the ground.

Bruce winces. “Sorry! I was told to go as full-blast as possible, within safety parameters.”

“I...know,” Miles replies, weakly raising a thumbs up.

“You think his parents will notice?” Peter grimaces.

“Dude, seriously, MJ’s the bigger problem,” Ned says.

“It was her idea!”

“It was yours.”

“She agreed!”

“She’s still gonna kill you.”

“...How many hours on the couch, ya think?”

Ned hums, pursing his lips. “Fifteen if you’re off that day and nobody attacks Queens. But she’s gonna let you back in for regular sleeping hours, as usual.”

“I’m screwed,” Peter mumbles, lying on his side on the bench. “Is Shuri here today?”

“Uh, yes,” Ned says, smiling tightly. “But she’s with Clint and Bucky at the field, and I don’t wanna disturb her.”

“Dodge drills?”

“Yeaaaah.”

“Full contact?”

“Yeeeeaaaaaaah…”

“Brutal,” Bruce says, chugging down the last of his water. “I’ll go check on the kid. Get better, huh?” he adds, nodding at Peter.

“Yessir,” Peter mutters, feeling his body weave itself back to normal.

Ned sits on the floor by his head. “So we doin’ movie night on Tuesday?”

“Yep.”

Star Trek?”

Alien, I think.”

Nice.”

Peter grins. “Right? MJ’s making tacos for us, too, and we’re restocked on ice cream.”

“You’re assuming she won’t eat all the ice cream before Tuesday, though,” Ned says, squinting.

Peter shrugs. “I can hope.”

Miles groans again in the back, and they turn to find Bruce carrying him carefully.

“‘s okay, kid,” the scientist says, voice soft. “I gotcha.”

“You...got me...a few times…” Miles says, evidently dying inside.

And out.

All over, really.

“...Yeah, she’s gonna yell at us,” Peter says, wincing.

“I hope you mean you and Miles, ‘cause I was on official stat-compiling duty,” Ned says, a look of terror only briefly flashing on his face.

“Shuri’s lucky to have you as an assistant.”

“You say that like you don’t technically work for her.”

“I’m still technically only a Stark Industries employee,” Peter shrugs. “Who happens to work in the Avengers facility. You’re the Avengers employee.”

“And yet,” Ned says, dramatically looking at the ceiling, “I spend more time watching you get kicked around in practice than building things.”

“That’s not true.”

“...Except during crunch time.”

“That’s a lil’ true.”

“Not complaining,” Ned smirks. “I get to take some great vids.”

“Wow, great. Nice. Awesome.”

“Heh.”

“How many have you sent to MJ?”

Heh.”

“Yup,” Peter nods, laying his head back down. “Shouldn’t have even asked.”

“Heheheh.”


“I love you?”

You’re lucky I’m in Oakland today and I miss your sorry ass.”

“I love you a lot?”

You should know that I’m flipping you off.

“I love you soooo much.”

You’re banned from Star Wars for a week, got it?

“...Yes. I’m sorry. I love you.”

Silence.

“MJ?”

I love you, too. Get Miles in an ice bath. And just. Don’t. Be stupid. For five seconds.

“Doable.”

“...And next time let him take it. He heals faster than you, he’ll be fine. You can worry about yourself, you know.

“What if I worry about you instead?”

That’s also acceptable. Or worry about May.”

“Now that’s a cycle that won’t end.”

Are you saying I don’t worry about you?”

“Well, you’re better about it.”

Wow, okay, bye.”

“Wait! MJ!”

Byeee. I really gotta go. Okoye’s waving me over to start the seminar.

“Okay. Later. Love you.”

Love you, nerd-lord. See ya when I get home.

Click.

Chapter Text

MJ stares the man down, daring him to try anything.

Ned watches, wishing he had popcorn.

Not every day your best bud enters a staring match with the god of thunder.

Thor laughs. “I concede. May I?”

MJ smirks, tossing the box of chocolates at him. “Have at it, my man. Good effort.”

“Thank you, Michelle,” Thor grins, gingerly picking out a dark ball of amazing taste, I would like to procure more of this specific one, Lady Parker.

“Told you MJ’s fine, god of thunder,” MJ grins, taking back the chocolates and taking two for herself. “Been ‘ike, se’en yurs.”

“I am not on this planet much, I feel I need to earn—”

“Mr. Thor, dude, just do it, she’s gonna try to convince you next time anyway,” Ned says, walking over and taking the sole white chocolate piece. “Wew. This is good. How expensive was it?”

“Costco had a sale,” MJ says, sucking on her thumb. “This was like fifteen bucks.”

“Did you—”

“You’ve got two boxes waiting at our house.”

“I love you!” Ned exclaims, hugging her tightly. “You da bes!”

Beso?”

Ned kisses her cheek.

“Good man,” MJ says, patting his head. “Don’t pay for it—consider it part of your super early birthday gift.”

“Free chocolate? Heck yeah.”

“May I have another?” Thor asks, wide-eyed with hope.

Or a chocolate craving.

Same thing.

“Go ham,” MJ says, passing him the box. “But don’t tell Quill I gave you some. He’s gonna be all jealous again.”

“My lips are sealed,” Thor says, nodding solemnly and taking the box with both of his hands.

As if he were in court.

Wild, man.

“Oh, MJ, it’s almost three,” Ned says, checking his beads. He waves at the god. “We gotta go, Mr. Thor. Enjoy the chocolate!”

“I most certainly will, Ned!” Thor booms as they walk away, sharing a secret nod with the engineer.


Ned deserts her as they enter the hallway leading to the common area on the third floor under guise of Baaaaaathroom, sorry, I’ll meet you there! which should’ve tipped her off to begin with, considering the common room had a bathroom.

But hey! She was busy looking out for Peter—who shows up on the opposite end and runs to her with arms open, because he’s funny like that.

“My love!” he stage-whispers dramatically, catching her in his arms and pecking her lips.

Squint. “Were you watching dramas today?”

“Black and white.”

“Like—”

“Films, MJ. Films.”

“Easy. So easy.”

They move, entering the common room, hand-in-hand, to find it…

Dark.

Like, shut-out curtains, could be a fraternity initiation ritual dark.

The door to the hallway closes quickly.

They’re trapped.

Peter’s grip on her tightens, and he tugs her behind him as he pulls out his mask from a back pocket. He raises his wrist, speaking into the shooter comms. “Karen, scan—”

HAPPY ANNIVERSARY!” Ned yells as the lights blink on, chucking a pie at Peter’s face.

“What th—” Peter manages to get out, before cream and (soft!) crust makes contact with his face.

MJ peeks from behind him, staring at Ned incredulously. “How’d you—” Squint. “—Side door. Right.”

“GET ‘EM!” Clint yells, throwing two more at the couple.

MJ curses as one lands on her shoulder, before twisting Peter’s form to take the second hit.

“Who’s appreciating my meatshielding now, MJ?” Peter quips, ducking from a shot from Carol.

“I never said I didn’t!” Dodge, dodgitty-dodge. “Head out of ass, el marido—get some ammo!”

“You try—” Duck. “—dodging—” Twirl. “—forty—careful, MJ—” Jump. “—Avengers & Company!” Peter says, leaving MJ to fend for herself by a table as he slides under Bucky’s feet, tripping him and taking his pies. He shoves one in the aforementioned Captain’s face, sliding the second over to his wife.

MJ picks it up, searching for the instigator.

There.

Between Shuri and Miles.

Right in front of May.

“NED!” she yells, running over.

(If Peter feels his heart grow three times over in size because she manages to dodge four of the six pies thrown at her, it is completely obvious, have you met the guy?)

MJ jumps over the table, thanking Nat mentally for teaching her basic parkour.

Splat!

“Ooh, chocolate,” Ned says, clearing the food from his face. “I almost thought this was gonna be a lame party.”

“You’re gonna die,” Miles deadpans, watching MJ stand on the table, victoriously looking down at Ned.

“I accept death,” MJ smirks, feeling a barrage of cream and tinfoil hit her from everywhere.

“Yo, take that back!” Peter yells, laughing as he swings over. “No dying on my watch,” he whispers to her sweetly, ducking her head into his chest as he covers her from the second and third (and fourth) rounds of barraging pies.

MJ swipes a finger over his cheek once it’s over and the crowd takes to high-fiving and cheering for the two.

She grins. “Oh snap, someone threw in cash for cinnamon.”

“We have enough billionaires in this room to cover…” Peter starts, furrowing his brows. “...A lot. Of things.”

“Smart.”

“Pretty sure Thor hit me on the head, let me have this.”

“Speech! Speech! Speech!” Ned chants, cupping his hands over his mouth.

“Speech! Speech! Speech!” everyone else echoes, most notably: Okoye and Matt.

MJ flips them all off. “You guys owe me a new shirt.”

“Thanks,” Peter laughs, pulling his wife up for a kiss.

(Shuri and Ned cover Miles’ eyes. For fun.

May laughs.)

“That’s not a speech!” Clint heckles. “That’s eight words and spit-swapping!”

Peter laughs, pulling away from the kiss. He hugs MJ close, looking around the room with biggest, dumbest smile. “Alright, alright!” he says, sneaking a wink to his wife. “Thank you for blasting us with what I’m hoping was almost-expired pie, ‘cause if not this was a huge waste of food—but! Very fun. You guys rock.”

“Thanks, psychos!” MJ laughs, gracing them all with another Bird. “I am suing all of you!” Pause. “Except May—love you, May.”

“Love you, sweetie,” May laughs, eyes shining as she picks at a pie, chomping away.

Peter tugs at MJ’s waist, dipping her. “Happy anniversary, MJ,” Peter smiles.

“Happy anniversary, Pete,” MJ whispers, kissing him again. “Present’s with Ned, but now I think he might’ve pawned it off to pay for the pies.”

“Tragic.”

“That I bought you a gift, or that Ned might’ve sold it?”

“That you bought me a gift, and you dared to think that Ned would’ve sold it.”

“Joke’s on you,” MJ smirks, sticking her tongue out him. “Didn’t pay a dime for it.”


(It’s the drawing of him from a while back, on his last vacation. He’s peaceful and sleeping, and he looks…free.

Free from everything.

Light shines on his form, and there’s the barest trace of MJ’s left arm and hand laying idly by him, her ring glinting.

He cries about it.)


The party continues with them all carving into a (new, not near expiring) cake and a buffet, music blaring whatever Ned has on his phone.

“Peter, you didn’t have to get me anything,” MJ laughs as he hands her a medium-sized box, no longer than her arm. “Like, literally, we’ve talked about this.”

(They have. Several times. He ignores it anyway.)

“Didn’t buy it,” he whispers, and huh.

She opens the box.

She almost drops the box. “Yo!

“Heh. Thought you’d like it,” Peter says, leaning up to kiss her temple.

“For real?” she gasps, looking between him and the tablet.

He smiles, pressing the grey triangle on-screen.

Hi, honey,” her mother says, waving. Sun and surf are behind her. “Hope you and Peter are well. California’s hot, but it’s better than Floridamaybe you can visit sometime? Love you. Congrats! Six years, look at you. I’m so proud of you two.

The video cuts.

Hey kid,” her father says, grinning. He’s in a white room, a large window behind him displaying tropical tree. “Read your latest. Doing good work out there, Michelle. Proud of you. And Peter, too—you got a good one. Congrats on the six—keep at it, okay? I love you both. I’ll see you soon, when I’m stateside.

She’s crying.

It’s two tears, but they’ve already left her eyes, so by The Rules, she’s crying.

“I miss them,” she says, hugging her husband tightly. “They sucked at being there, but I miss ‘em.”

“I know,” Peter whispers, kissing the side of her head.

She doesn’t ask him how he’d managed to get them to do it.

She doesn’t care.

“I love you,” she mumbles into his shoulder, knowing he hears the unspoken: You’re amazing, and I don’t mean because you can stick to walls or punch the Hulk, but because you listen and you remember.

“I love you, too,” he says, rubbing her back. “Want cake?”

MJ squints, watching the line of people going after said cake, completely ignoring them.

(Well-known fact: the Avengers?

Vultures when sweets are involved.)

“I doubt it’ll reach us.”

“Shun the non-believer,” Ned says with a squeaky voice, coming up behind her. He passes them a plate stacked high with red velvet.

Peter grins. “Shuuuuuunnn.”

No,” MJ says, carefully tucking the tablet under her arm as she shoves a fistful of cake into Peter’s gaping mouth. “None of that.”

“It’s a classic, MJ!” Ned protests, only to be greeted with the same fate.

“You two are not getting that stupid song stuck in my head again,” she says, taking some cake for herself.

“Ruh-ruh, ruh, ruhruh,” Ned says, shrugging.

“I won’t even pretend to understand that.”

“Ruhruh!”

“Uh-huh. Ruh. Indeed.”

RUHRUH!” Ned spins her around, pointing aggressively at Shuri.

Who happens to be sneaking up.

With more pie in hand.

MJ tchs, two seconds too late.

SPLAT!


“How’d you know MJ was The One?” Miles asks Peter later on, when the fifth round of pies are all but gone. He wipes at his sleeves, icing on near-everything, watching as his Big Sis tries to sneak up on Shuri with already-thrown leftovers.

“I liked a lot of people growing up,” Peter says, frowning as he picks out apple and pecan from his hair. “They were all lightning bolts, you know? The best-looking, friendliest. The ones everyone had a crush on. Quick hits, and I’d go crazy for a while.”

Miles watches MJ succeed, toppling the princess onto the floor as Ned chants her name like a one-man tribe. “And MJ?”

The corner of Peter’s lips twitch up, and he smiles lopsidedly, watching his wife with Heart Eyes™️. He laughs softly, eyes never leaving her, and Miles wonders if he remembers he’s talking to someone else.

“She snuck up on me,” he whispers, smile varying in size as he speaks, unsure how to explain it. “Didn’t notice how bad until senior year, but...I don’t think…” He shakes his head, silent laughter crinkling his eyes. “I don’t think I could handle not having her around.”

Shuri bows to MJ exaggeratedly, dipping far enough to grab a nearby pile of whipped cream. She jumps, shoving it into the younger lady’s hair before running and ducking behind her brother.

MJ gives chase, Ned following and chanting with increasing intensity.

“She used to talk about you without really noticing,” Miles says plainly.

Peter blinks, turning his gaze to the boy.

When?

“Freshman year a little—she didn’t name drop, but I figured it out later on. Stuff about a nice kid in her algebra and bio classes, and on AcaDec. Someone getting sick at a school trip.”

Peter holds his breath for the inevitable mention of his uncle’s death, but it doesn’t come.

With the way Miles was talking, he didn’t know.

Thank you, MJ, he thinks sincerely.

Miles stretches his arms. “Summer before sophomore year and the start of it was a lot. Kept complaining about a guy ditching practice and school. Big flake. Then...not a flake.”

Peter remembers that.

“She said your name for the first time in the spring—I remember, ‘cause she took me over to Brooklyn Botanical, and it was such a nice day.”

She came to school the next day with allergies, Peter remembers fondly, eyes making their way back MJ’s form—huddled with Ned and Wanda now, no doubt strategizing how to push through the king and Dora Milaje’s defenses.

“She kept sneezing,” Miles laughs, “but then she said, ‘Man, if Peter could see me now,’ and it was the first guy she’d ever mentioned to me outside of her dad and Ned.”

“I skipped AcaDec a lot before she was captain,” Peter explains. “She’d give me hell about it. Probs thought she was gonna be too sick to go to the mandatory meeting.”

“Yeah, every time she brought you up at the start of the year she was annoyed or disappointed. But later...it was like this old friend. But different from Ned. Some guy she thought was really smart, and reminded her of me, but less cool.”

“And then you and me—we met that fall.”

Miles nods. “Yeah. And dude, full offense, I did not expect a white guy. Or a white guy shorter than her.”

Peter shrugs, unperturbed. “Nobody really expects me.”

Wanda’s snuck around a wall, and Tony’s recording the scene from his perch on one of the tables.

Ned’s got MJ on his shoulders, whipped cream now smeared like war paint.

“Yeah, but, like—she didn’t notice, I think, but me and Ned did—when she talked about you, it didn’t matter if she said your name or not. She had this look, and all you wanted to do was sit there and listen,” Miles says, gesticulating with his hands.

“Like when she talks about Van Gogh’s linework?” Peter asks, tilting his head.

“Yeah, but…” Miles furrows his brows, trying to piece together a mental image. “But like, more, y’know? Like if you blinked you would think you missed the reveal of the Crabby Patty formula.”

“Good to know the youth still know Spongebob.”

“It’s a way of life.”

Wanda trips Shuri as she tries to climb up T’Challa’s shoulders, and Peter spots Clint starting a betting pool with Nat and Bucky.

MJ turns her head, finding her husband’s gaze. She winks, a laughing smirk on her lips.

Ned yells another battle cry, charging ahead.

Miles chuckles. “But. Yeah. When we started hanging out, y’know, together, I knew she was gone.”

Peter’s a little unbalanced from the wink, butterflies swarming his gut, but he manages to register his words. “What do you mean?”

“I’d met Ned,” Miles shrugs. “But it was like meeting someone she was also momming over. You? Dude. Whipped.”

“Oh, cool, I wasn’t imagining it,” Peter exhales.

Miles squints at him. “You’re—”

Peter frowns. “Yeah, yeah. Married. I know. Sixteen-year-old me did not. Next topic.”

“Should we help?” Miles asks, nodding at the growing faction-run, chicken-gladiator-esque pie fight.

“Oh, hell no,” Peter laughs, leaning back with his arms crossed. “This a great view.”

Chapter Text

Tony’s the one who shows up at their door, boxes of multivitamins under one arm and tea under the other.

Smirking.

Smug.

My turn,” he says to MJ, ignoring Peter’s form blocking the door.

“Thanks, Tony,” Peter says, giving him a quick hug. “She already took meds for the morning, just make sure she—”

“I got it, kid.”

Peter smiles sheepishly, walking out as he walks in. “You know me.”

“Yup. And I know Miles,” Tony says, removing his shades. “Which is why I’m the one staying home, not you. Get going.”

Peter nods, peeking over one last time to mouth an apologetic I love you! Don’t infect Tony! I’ll be back in two hours! at his wife.

MJ responds with a pout and an agonized groan, curling into herself and the blankets in protest.

(Can she read lips? Yes.

Did she learn how to because Peter once failed to alert her and May to a disaster scenario happening around the block? Also yes.

Was this related to the truck driving incident? Dingdingding, we have a winner!)

Tony smiles, watching Peter run off with that energy of his, before closing the door.

“Try to coddle me and you lose your limbs, Tones,” MJ yells with waning energy from the couch.

“Worth the risk, MJ,” he throws back easily, setting up at the kitchen counter. “Let’s try the new blend from Punjab, shall we?”

She flips him off.

“I’ve got a present from France, too, if that’s more your style.”

“Anything from Asgard?”

“Loki sent something, but I doubt you’ll wanna tr—”

“Hit me.”

Tony looks up and over the counter, watching her peek from below three layers of blankets. “How delusional are you, currently?”

“Left-Tony is fuzzy,” she says, squinting.

Tony's brows knit together. “...Uh. Are you sure this is just the flu?”

“I’m never sure of anything.”

“That’s a lie.”

“Oh.” Blink. “You’re right. That’s a lie.”

Tony puts the kettle on the stove, walking over to her side with heightened concern. “Did you do anything stupid lately?”

MJ glares at him.

“Peter went off-world the other day,” he continues, crouching on the ground to get at eye-level. “Came back a little wonky.”

“He was released,” she says weakly, sniffling.

“...Did you visit him in the med bay?”

MJ blinks unevenly, trying to remember. “Well...I don’t...know?”

“That’s not an answer.”

“If I said something in response, it’s an answer.”

Snort. “Lawyering suits you.”

“Was that a pun? On my dress code? Because I don’t have a real dress code apart from the blazer, you know. I’ve worn sweatpants to the office.”

“Nevermind,” Tony says, standing. “You’re fine.”

“Still want tea.”

“I was joking about the Loki thing.”

“You shouldn’t have—I was actually excited.”

Tony squints. “Hey, F.R.I.? Can you run me a quick scan of this kid?”

MJ grunts. “I’m 25, Tones.”

“Comparatively still a child.”

F.R.I.D.A.Y.'s voice fills the room. “Boss, scanners are picking up anomalies.”

“What kind?”

Inconclusive.

“Well that’s not helpful,” Tony says, frowning slightly at MJ. “F.R.I., call Happy.”

"Calling 'Happy Hogan'."

MJ frowns back, forcing herself to sit up. It takes a bit of time. “What? Why?”

Ring. Ring. Ring.

Tony’s lips form a tight line, but his eyes are soft. “Listen. I said I’ll take care of you, right?”

“You don’t look okay, T,” she says, furrowing her brows.

Ring. Ring.

Her eyes look unfocused.

Too unfocused.

Ring.

“MJ,” Tony says carefully, crouching again. “I think we need to run some tests.”


What do you mean she’s at the med bay?

“Exactly what I said.”

For the flu?

“People have died from the flu, kid, show some respect.”

She’s DYING?!

Tony winces. “Poor choice of sentence structure. She’s not dying. In the immediate sense, anyway.”

So why does she need to be there?

“I’m under the impression that this isn’t the flu.”

I’m coming, Miles and I just wrapped up—

“Take your time, your aunt and third third are here.”

You told May and Ned before you told me?!

“You would’ve left the kid on solo patrol.”

He can handle it!

“Sure, sure. Like he handled Captain Marvel last month at training. Sure.”

You’re assuming he’ll face Carol-esque powers if I leave him for one second.

“Look it’s fine, nothin’ to worry about. Even Happy isn’t worried, and he drove us!”

THEN WHY DOES SHE HAVE TO BE IN THE MED BAY.”

“Alright, I think you need a timeout. I’m hanging up.”

Tony—Tony do not—Mr. Sta—”

Click.

“How’d he take it?” MJ asks when he walks back into the med bay.

Your husband, you tell me,” Tony says with feigned ease, hands in pockets.

“Screaming?”

“Bingo.”

“Ned, can you tell him it’s okay?” MJ says weakly, turning to her friend.

“Yeah, sure,” Ned nods, taking out his phone. “You wanna flip him off? Show some proof?”

She lies her head back down on the pillow, wincing. “One sec.”

One of her monitors beep semi-menacingly, making May sit up. “Are you okay, sweetheart?”

“My head hurts.”

“Scale of one to ten?”

“Solid...twelve...” MJ seethes, trying to push away all feelings by scrunching up her face.

“Maybe don’t send a picture,” May says quietly, turning to Ned. “She’s pale.”

“Can I sleep?” MJ asks, eyes drooping. “It’s freezing.”

(It’s not.

It’s a steady, sunny 75 degrees.

Perfect weather.)

“Dude, you’re shaking,” Ned says, hitting send on a text. He steals the blanket from the next cot, draping it over her. “You’re gonna be okay, okay?”

“If it is what Peter had, doesn’t that mean it’s contagious?” May asks Tony, brows knitting together.

(She doesn’t lift her hand from MJ’s bedside.)

“From the information the Asgardians sent us, the virus only transfers once over—Peter got it firsthand, so MJ’s the second in line,” Tony says, rubbing his chin. “She must’ve stopped by before we started administering the vaccines to visitors.”

“Or before we even knew about the vaccines,” Ned says, rubbing his chin. “She was on break when they brought Peter in. We can check the security footage later.”

“He’s going to blame himself,” MJ cuts in, coughing. Her friends and family look like a small, fuzzy crowd, and she shuts her eyes. “So again: can I sleep?”

“Not the best choice,” Dr. Cho announces, entering the room.

MJ raises a brow.

Dr. Cho checks her monitors and IVs, periodically turning to address her. “Peter has super-healing, which is why we let him nap so quickly. Now, a civilian…”

“Aw, man,” MJ frowns, clicking her tongue. “I don’t wanna die from an alien flu. That’s lame.”

“Not dying in general is also preferable,” Tony says.

(Ned nods aggressively.)

MJ shrugs. Sort of. “Everybody dies, Tony, get over it.”

“Hurtful, MJ.”

“...Everybody dies, Tones, get over it.”

“Much better,” he says, smiling. He turns to the doctor. “So—fixable? Or do I need to ready my own grave because Peter will kill me if his wife dies on my watch.”

“Can we stop making death jokes, please,” May says, rubbing her temples.

MJ squeezes her hand. “Sorry.”

“My bad,” Tony says, still glancing at the doctor.

“...We’re gonna need you to stay awake, MJ,” Dr. Cho says, checking the monitors. “Bruce is trying to get in contact with Thor, see if we can get an antidote that works faster. For now, we’re stuck with what we have, which works, thankfully, but you’ll be here for a few—”

“Please don’t say ‘weeks’,” MJ winces.

“—days.”

Curse.

“I didn’t say ‘weeks’!”

“I know, I was still hoping for ‘hours’ at most,” MJ groans, lying back and closing her eyes. “Why is this bed so comfy.”

“Sorry,” Tony says, clicking his tongue. “I can get you a rock.”

“For my gravestone?”

May squeezes her hand a little forcefully.

“...Sorry, last one, I promise,” MJ smiles weakly, opening her eyes a crack.

“I say this because I love you: your coping mechanism sucks,” May says.

“Yup.”

May clasps MJ’s hand between both of hers. “Stay awake, okay?”

“Yes ma’am.”

“Gimme the pillow,” Tony says, already going for it.

May and Ned help MJ move to the side, taking out the offensively comfortable fluff-piece. Tony takes it from their hands and tosses it onto the next cot, thinking.

“Better,” MJ says, opening her eyes slightly. “This is gonna suck, isn’t it?” she asks Dr. Cho.

The doctor smiles sadly. “Yes.”

“Thanks for the honesty.”

“I’ve learned that you take it quite well.”

(MJ wants to laugh because she remembers every med bay visit since being allowed to enter the facility.

Every phone call that went something like: Hey, MJ? Areare you home? I’m—I need, um, I can’t—I can’t make it back to my place, I’m sorry—

Every text that said, Hey uh thanks? Again? Im sry for bleeding all over ur floor, ill help clean it promise <3

Yeah. She can take it pretty well.)

“He’s going to be a mess,” MJ says weakly. “Ned, can you—”

“Already on it,” he says, nodding. “Just rest, okay, bud? But no sleeping.”

“Okay,” MJ says, trying to focus on the ceiling.

It’s very plain.

May’s holding her hand and the ceiling is plain.

Tony’s face is scrunched up.

The ceiling is plain.

Ned’s kissing her forehead and walking away.

Away, there he goes, tapping on his phone.

The ceiling is gray and plain and boring and plain.

She swallows, because it doesn’t take a lot of thinking. “Okay.”


Miles is on the bench, silently staring at his sister, his sister, his sister.

His sister he should’ve been there for.

"Breathe," Ned says, handing him water.

"I was supposed to come over tonight," Miles rasps.

Ned hugs him quickly. "Breathe, dude."


“She’s pale,” Peter whispers, touching the glass.

I’ve never seen her this pale.

(There’s a cut on his jaw and it stings from tears.)

Ned places a hand on his shoulder—partly for reassurance, partly to keep him from breaking the glass. “She’s okay, Pete. Tony got her here before it got bad.”

Peter swallows. “She’s…”

May looks up from MJ’s bedside, smiling at her nephew. She waves him over.

“Go on, dude,” Ned says softly, guiding him to the med bay doors. “I’ll stay with Miles.”


The sound of his feet hitting the floor is too loud. The low hum of monitors tracking everything essential isn’t enough to cover it.

He hears her heartbeat.

He zones in, trying to keep steady.

MJ’s eyes are open, barely—her breathing is slow and slightly labored, but at least she’s awake.

Peter doesn’t remember May moving for him, letting him take the hand she was holding.

He does remember kissing it; watching his wife blink slowly at him, eyes crinkling, attempting to stay awake.


 "Normally, we’d want to let her rest—but Asgardian medicine applied to regular humans is experimental at best. That, plus the nature of the Midnight Illness—it’s safer that we keep her awake until her color returns. Bruce just got back to me, too, and with all our rounds of treatment the last couple hours, she’ll be able to sleep by this evening, bar any problems."


“I love you,” Peter whispers to MJ’s hand.

She squeezes it, and oh.

She’s that tired?

He puts a hand on her jaw, thumb gently caressing her cheek. “Stay awake, okay?”

MJ blinks twice. Okay.

(They’d used it for civilians they had to communicate silently with since their teen years, still holed up in Peter’s room with Ned and fully dependent on each other, not having Backup People in Chairs or Fancy Avengers Surveillance Equipment.)

Peter moves his hand up to her forehead, feeling for the familiar heat of the flu, but being greeted with cold.

(He should’ve known.

Thor and Loki told him it started off warm.

He should’ve known.)

“I’m here, MJ,” he whispers, snuggling by her armside. “Does my heater help?”

Blink. Blink.

“Good.”

Her eyes trail down to his cut, and her hand moves slowly towards it.

“This?” Peter asks, bringing her hand up to his jaw.

MJ’s eyes flicker with concern; her hand rests on the clotted cut.

(Figures.

She's the one fighting for her life and she's still worried about him.

Peter will fight anyone who tells him that MJ has no heart, superhuman or no.)

“‘s nothin’,” he laughs, kissing her palm. “I took off my mask before I landed and—the fire escape out back? Yeah.”

(It’s the truth.

He got distracted.

No one was telling him about what exactly MJ caught, and he got distracted and grazed the sharp end of a fire escape railing behind the main building.)

MJ eyes shine with laughter, and her lips twitch up for a brief moment before returning to neutral.

“Thought you would find that funny,” he says, smiling and kissing her palm again.

Her hand drops into his, energy waning.

He holds it carefully, gaze back to her face. “I’m right here, MJ. Right here. Stay awake for me, okay?”


“Hey, Pete, you look terrible. I’ll be right here, okay? Dr. Cho said you can sleep in ten minutes, but you need to stay awake for a lil’ bit first. Deal?”

Nod.

“Okay, good,” she says, kissing his temple. “Stay awake for me, okay?”


MJ squeezes his hand again, weaker than all the rest.

It’s not meant to be strong.

It’s meant to be a familiar gesture.

Thank you.


Peter stays there for four hours.

Miles walks in with Ned and May at Hour 0.5, and takes her other hand. Ned and May stay at her perimeter, periodically taking turns to check her neck or forehead, and using gentle words to keep her from zoning out.

Tony comes in intermittently between Hour 0.7 and Hour 2.9, then stays at the back of the room until the end of it, his finger-tapping becoming a surprisingly helpful constant in the quiet.

Pepper stops by a few times between meetings, bringing tea and coffee for them.


She’s finally greenlit to sleep after the fourth hour, having gained enough color back.

“Your heat helps,” Dr. Cho says to the Spider-Men, checking MJ’s charts again. “But Miles, I think you need to get home.”

Miles frowns. “But—”

“You’re tired,” Tony blanks, red-eyed behind his shades. “I’ll take you home.”

“But MJ—

“—will be asleep,” May finishes. “You have school tomorrow, Miles.”

“But what if—” —what if we’re wrong?

What if she doesn’t wake up?

“It’s okay, Miles,” Peter says as moves himself into the cot with MJ, keeping her warm. “I’ll be here. I’ll keep you posted.”

The boy winces, regretting his words.

He follows Tony out.


Shuri returns from Wakanda and rotates with Dr. Cho to take care of her friend, and takes turns with Ned and Happy to bring Miles over after his classes.


She wakes up on Thursday morning—Day 3.8.

Peter is curled around her, and Ned’s sleeping on her leg.

“Surprise...surprise…” she croaks out, throat dry.

Peter shoots up, wide-eyed.

Ned groans. “Dude, careful, MJ’s aslee—wait. That voice was too deep to be yours.”

Hey,” Peter glares at him.

“Welcome back, Jones!” Shuri laughs by her side, beads already recording.

MJ grins. “Hey...Shu.”

“MJ!” Ned yells, hugging her leg. “MJ, you’re awake!”

“Buddy,” she replies. Her eyes move to Peter. "Fave."

“Wifey!” Peter grins, kissing all around her face obsessively.

“Remember when you wouldn’t even let him kiss you at Midtown?” Ned snorts, releasing her limb to take a picture with his bracelet.

MJ’s nose wrinkles with laughter and delight as Peter continues being sappy and happy and oh man, I was so scared, did you know that? I love you, you know? I love you a lot, MJ.

“Love...you, too...Peter-Man,” MJ smiles, eyes still drooping.

“F.R.I.D.A.Y., please alert Tony,” Shuri says, quickly going over MJ’s vitals.

Got it, boss-princess.

“Thanks.” Shuri writes something on MJ’s papers, returning the clipboard to its pocket at the end of her bed.

Peter settles for alternating kissing his wife’s nose, left cheek, and the side of her lips.

“...Commit, coward,” MJ says slowly, clearing her throat.

(She’s smiling.

Content.

Alive.

Not freezing.)

He laughs, kissing her properly on the lips. “I thought you might have trouble breathing.”

Ned guffaws, clapping Peter’s back lightly. “Around you? No. You don’t say.”

“I meant—”

“No, Ned’s right,” MJ croaks out, a little smoother. “Your smothering makes it hard to breathe.”

Ned throws his head back, laughing.

Peter pouts.

“Worth it,” MJ smiles, patting her husband’s face. “Sooo worth it.”

“...Are the meds supposed to make her loopy?” Peter squints, asking Shuri.

“Nope, she’s just being weird,” Shuri shrugs. “What’s new?”

“Oh, good, I’m not going to be the reason Spider-Man and Spiderling turn into supervillains,” Tony breathes, speed-walking into the med bay with Pepper.

“I told you there was nothing to worry about,” Pepper says, looking over at MJ. “Take a month, kid. Doctor’s orders.”

MJ squints. “Shuri or Cho?”

“Helen,” Shuri says.

“Both,” Pepper says.

MJ stares at her friend.

Shuri clears her throat. “...Both. Sorry.”

“But you’ll be home!” Tony says cheerfully.

MJ frowns at him. “But my work—”

Take a break,” Ned sings, leaning over her bed frame, “run away with us to your house, we’re already upstate—”

“Wow, wait, pause—no one told me Leeds could sing,” Tony says with his hands up. He looks between Ned and Peter. “What’s the deal, Peter? I thought—”

“—focus, Tones,” MJ frowns.

“Right. Sorry. We have other lawyers, you know. In perfect health. And your boy here has a good track record of not consciously destroying public property, so it’ll be fine. Probably.”

“‘Probably.’”

“Don’t quote me on that.”

Pepper mouths, You can quote him on that.

Shuri places an arm on MJ’s shoulder. “It’s either home rest or staying here.”

“I’ll be there either way,” Peter says with finality, holding her hand securely.

Right here.

Always.

MJ purses her lips.

The facility has her files...and every Avenger imaginable to keep her from her files.

The house has her sketchbook, and has nowhere near the same sterile smell of the med bay.

And is close to both Delmar’s and May.

And is an easier commute for Miles.

“Home is good,” she says, closing her eyes again. She squeezes Peter’s hand.

Peter smiles at her, kissing her cheek. “Yeah. Home is good.”

Chapter Text

Peter cradle-carries MJ up and down the stairs for almost a month, determined to annoy her to death.

“I’m fine,” she whines for nth time that day, not at all fine.

Her body’s still weak, but it’s not like she’s dying, aight?

She’s just kind of.

Frail.

Kinda lightheaded a lot.

In need of nutrients and vitamins and those prescription meds from Asgard that Peter insists on picking up himself, much to Heimdall’s annoyance.

“Sure, MJ,” Peter blanks, carrying her down to the couch and setting the kettle. “And I won the 300 million Powerball yesterday.”

“Comparatively speaking, I am worth more than that pot.”

“Yes, you are. That’s why I’m home taking care of you instead of buying lottery tickets.”

MJ recognizes that she’s got butterflies from his affirmative response, but she wants to pretend she’s still got some control in this conversation, so:

“I know you texted Ned to buy some scratch-offs.”

“...Let me be romantic.”

MJ chuckles. “This isn’t romance, Peter, it’s domesticity.”

Peter turns, hands raised like: What? Seriously? “Are you saying being domestic can’t be romantic?”

“I’m saying…” she blinks. Fair point. “I’m not really sure what I’m saying, but I’m definitely disagreeing with at least one part of that sentence.”

“This is why you’re on leave,” Peter frowns, brows furrowed. “You can’t even argue properly. What kind of lawyer can’t even argue?”

“The diplomatic kind?”

“Take a nap,” he says pointedly, watching the kettle.

“Shoulda left me upstairs, the bed’s better for napping.”

“You like the couch.”

“Not a lie, but the bed thing is a fact.”

“You like being around me.”

Well. I would never resent the view.”

Peter snorts. “I wonder if you’d still like me if I never got buff, sometimes.”

“Peter, you doofus—I’d love you even if you were crippled or dying from an unknown illness or broke,” MJ says with blatant, fiery honesty. “I’ve told you this.”

Peter frowns, but his eyes shine with fondness. “You know I’m not testing you, right? Like, that was a joke?”

“Yeah,” she laughs, settling into the couch. “I just like repeating certain things because I know you get anxiety.”

“...You’re the best, MJ.”

(Stupid! Butterflies!)

“You’re second place.”

“Honestly, I thought you’d make me third.”

“Ned has very few things on you,” MJ blanks. “I joke about it, but you’re second. In a completely biased way.”

Peter laughs. “Is that why you let me propose?”

Snort. “No, I just knew you really wanted to do it. You…you like the little things.” She smiles fondly, catching his gaze as he turns to look at her. “Like holding hands. Cuddling. Telling me you love me.”

“I made you sappy,” Peter beams. Pause. Squint. “Hey, proposing isn’t ‘little’! Those pictures took a lot of work!”

“The actual saying of the question, you dork,” MJ laughs weakly. “I was already gonna ask you like, a year before or something, but dang, boy, you slow.”

Pictures, M—you were?” Peter blinks, stumbling a bit as the kettle whistles.

MJ hides under the blanket. “I’m not in the mood to repeat myself.”

“How—why—

Bless his hearing; the mumbled words she speaks under the cotton square reaches his ears: “Because you didn’t leave.”

Because you won’t.

Peter keeps silent as he prepares her tea and brings it over. He puts the tea down on the coffee tablethey need to rename that thingthen perches like a gargoyle on the couch-back, gently pulling the blanket away from MJ’s face. “Hey, grumpy.”

(She’s got her lips pressed together, determined to look straight at the couch and not at him.)

“I heard that,” he whispers, crawling over the cushions.

MJ squints at the couch.

(She’s weak and tired and being invaded by those dumb butterflies.)

“Neither will you,” Peter continues, tucking away straying strands from her face.

MJ caves, looking up at him with steel in her eyes. “We’re better.”

We’re better than them.

We’re not a mistake.

Peter nods.

“You’re it,” MJ says, ducking her head only slightly. “You’re it for me, Peter. It didn’t take long to figure that out.”

“It didn’t take long for me, either,” he says, because he knows she’s wondering if his brain went in the same direction as hers all those years ago.

There is a clearness to his voice and an honesty to his eyes that makes MJ laugh.

Peter frowns. “What’s so funny?”

“You—haha—you reallyHA—you really took over a year to figure out how to propose to me?”

Nap,” Peter says firmly, draping the blanket over her laughing mug. Pause. “Tea, then nap,” he corrects, hopping over and pulling the coffee table closer to the couch.

MJ peeks, eyeing him mischievously. “You okay, Pete? You good? You need a year or two to figure out your gameplan?”

Aughhhhhh,” Peter groans, dragging his hands down his face as he falls back on the armrest opposite her.

MJ snickers all the way through the tea, then intermittently until she falls asleep.

Peter kisses her forehead and leaves to use the bathroom, only to check his phone to find a single text from her:

it was worth the wait.


May’s the only one allowed to visit when Peter’s off working—Spider-Man, not lab; he’s on leave until his wife is cleared to work, too—and chats with MJ in the bedroom, or helps her walk down the stairs to enjoy the couch.

(It’s because May’s the most conscious about keeping herself not contagious whenever she comes over.

...Also, Dr. Cho said the less people over the better, so they had to pick her over Ned.)

They talk about everything and nothing—the hot weather, the effects of humidity on curly hair, Kamala finally training with Miles, Ned’s raise, May’s newest ER stories, Kamala wrecking Miles at training, etc.

They talk or they don’t, enjoying the comfortable silence before MJ predictably ends up taking a nap, and May starts up the stove to make pasta.

Two days before MJ’s freed from house rest, May brings her letters from some of the kids at the rec center in Kew Gardens.

“They miss you,” May smiles, passing her a five-inch high stack of envelopes.

Whoa,” MJ says, eyes widening. “So this is what validation feels like.”

May laughs, watching her sift through the envelopes. “I’m sure they’ve been open about being attached to you.”

“A little tough with the younger kids,” MJ says, squinting at a particularly thick envelope. She puts the others down on her side, opening the large file. “Either they accidentally call me mom or they pretend to hate my guts.”

“Sounds about right.”

“Yeah, but I only have a couple really young ones, so it’s not a big de—” Curse.

“MJ?” May says, brows knitting in concern.

“I gotta make a call—can you give me a sec?”

“Is it anything…?”

...I can help with?

“It’s…” Pause. Her brows knit together as she stares at the papers. “...I got it, I just...I need to make a quick call.”

“I’ll be upstairs,” May says, kissing her forehead. “Ring me whenever.”

“Thanks, it won’t take long,” MJ says, offering a half-smile.

May thinks of when MJ had told her her parents were officially done, and again of when she’d told her they were moving away, out of state.

How she’d sagged in her seat, face emotionless—a steel trap to keep feelings from coming out or in.

Her face today?

Worse.

Open.

Pained.


Shuri picks up on the fifth ring.

“Shu, I just got mail from—”

“—It’s true,” Shuri cuts in.

“Are you—what? Since when?”

Yesterday.

“No one told me?”

Late last night, and I didn’t call because I knew Peter was out with Clint and Wanda taking care of something in Brooklyn.

I didn’t want you to find out alone.

“And what, you weren’t going to tell me until I got back?” MJ frowns, tone quickly going downhill. “Who knows what wo—”

I was going to wait until Peter got home. Today. I didn’t want you to find out from a letter. I wasn’t even aware USPS did same-day delivery?

“May brought it.”

Ah.”

MJ swallows thickly.

It’s a gutsy request, but she has to try.

“Can you—”

Yes.”

“You didn’t let me finish.”

I know how you think, Jones. It’s why I trust you. You trust me?

“Yeah.”

Good. Get rest, get better—everything is taken care of. There’s always room with me.”

Pause. “Last thing, Shu...”

“...I’m already getting them prepped.”

“Psychic.”

No, but close.”

“I’m visiting the second I’m off work.”

Wouldn’t expect anything less. And I won’t say anything. Later.”

“Thank you. Peace.”

Click.


“All good?” May asks, trekking back down the stairs.

MJ sighs. “Some good.”

“You wanna talk about it?”

MJ shakes her head. “Not really. Not yet.”

“Want tea?”

“Yes, please.”

May passes by her, making a point to give her a quick hug. “I hope it turns out okay.”

MJ bites the inside of her cheek. “Yeah. Me too.”


(MJ visits with Shuri three days later, and she personally hands the child a reply letter, and a box of personal belongings.

She acts mostly the same in the weeks following, except for hugging Peter a little tighter.

She says nothing.

He knows to wait.)


“Ned, my dude,” MJ says, welcoming him into the house by clasping his shoulder. “Congrats on surviving to 26, plus nine months.”

“I was a premie,” Ned replies, giving her a hug.

She hugs him back. “Plus seven?”

“Six.”

“And you were never early again,” MJ quips.

“Hey! I have good time management!”

“Yeah, but ‘and you continued to be early’ isn’t funny.”

Ned pouts.

Fiiine,” MJ says, mussing his hair. “And you continued to be early.”

“Thanks!”

“Want your gift now or later?”

Ned squints at her. “Is it a split gift?”

Nod. “With Peter.”

“Are you lying to me?”

“No.”

“Are you lying about lying to me?”

No.

“Is it gonna make me cry?”

“Hmm. Not sure.”

“I’ll take it now,” Ned says warily, looking around. “Where’s ya boy?”

“Picking up Shuri—Miles is still grounded for the sandwich fiasco,” MJ replies, offering a half-smile.

He looks solemn. “Rest in provolone, Spiderling.”

Anyway. They should be here any second,” she continues, releasing him and heading for the guest room. “Count to twenty, then follow.”

“What happens if I get there before twenty?”

“You get shot,” MJ deadpans, facing him as she slowly closes the guest room door, an eerily blank look on her face.

H-hoy! Don’t joke, there are lasers in this house!” Ned yells, distractedly looking around the living room. “MJ! MJ, are you serious? It’s my birthday! MJ!

“Is she serious about what?” Shuri asks, walking up behind him.

He jumps.

Shuri quirks a brow, and Ned sees Peter walk in after her.

“MJ said to count to twenty,” Ned says simply, controlled fear in his eyes.

“Oh, good,” Peter says, walking past his friends to plop down a cake on the kitchen counter. “How long ago was that?”

“Uh...twenty ago?”

“Are you sure? If I walk in there and get shot…”

“Is that serious?” Ned half-yells. “Did you rig it?

Peter snickers, gesturing for him to follow. “Nah, dude. C’mon, you’ll love it!”

Shuri shoves Ned forward. “Let’s go, I want to see their arts and crafts project.”

“You know about it?” Ned asks, slowly walking forward.

“I have eyes and ears everywhere, I’m a princess.”

“That’s creepy.”

“I’m still alive, aren’t I?” she says, shoving him again.

Peter has a hand on the door knob, and shares his secret handshake with Ned with the other. He nods. “Ready?”

“I said count to twenty, not twenty thousand!” MJ yells from inside the room.

Ned puffs up his cheeks, exhaling. “Let’s do it.”

Peter opens the door for his friend, motioning for him and Shuri to go ahead.

Two matte black, metal squares about half a centimeter high with a square-inch surface area lay in a cushioned box on the bed. Closer inspection shows both to be engraved with NED 4.8 on the lower left and right corners respectively, with baybayin script continuously wrapping around the middle.

“What are they?” Ned asks, gingery picking them up to read the script. “Talino ay Lakasaw, you guys.”

“Thought you’d like it,” MJ grins.

“We asked your parents for help,” Peter says, slinging an arm over Ned’s shoulders. “In case we messed up.”

“Camerawoman coming through,” Shuri says, shoving her wrist over Peter’s head. She whistles, nudging Peter and nodding at MJ. “Yo, you two made it sound like you were making a specialized Lego set! This is tech!

Ned furrows his brows, lifting and twisting the squares. “Where’s the power button?”

“Say, ‘liwanag’,” Peter says with a perfect accent.

Liwanag,” Ned echoes.

The squares whir, hidden light trails making themselves known. They float, then each square splits in half; light beams and cables extend from the center to form a tablet shape. Once they reach their maximum dimensions, the cables stiffen, and the holo-tablet lands gently onto Ned’s hands.

Shuri’s jaw drops, and she moves to the bed, hopping on to film from a higher view. “Dude.

Whoa,” Ned says, watching the tablet project a top screen, becoming a full holo-computer. “How—?”

“What, you think I build weapons all day?” Peter asks, guiding him to the table.

“No, but who coded—

“Felt good to dust off the ol’ coding chops,” MJ smirks, leaning an elbow on Peter’s shoulder. Pause. “Well. Not old. I still have hackathons with Tony when I’m not severely ill and on death’s door.”

“So that’s what they really pay you for,” Shuri says, following Ned and zooming at the computer. “What materials?”

“Trade secret,” MJ blanks.

“Vibranium and nano-tech,” Peter says immediately after.

“Never become a businessman,” Shuri laughs, shutting off the video to watch Ned mess around with the computer.

Peter shrugs, a hand automatically reaching for MJ’s waist. She leans in, one arm slung over his shoulders.

“Nice work, Mr. Genius,” MJ grins, tilting her head onto his shoulder while she watches Ned and Shuri swoon over the new tech.

“Thanks, Mrs. Genius,” Peter replies, kissing her cheek. “Nice programming.”

“Thanks.”

It’s a little lackluster.

A little off.

Peter quirks a brow.

MJ shakes her head.

Not now.

Not yet.

Ned taps in a series of keystrokes, and the computer pops up a mini-3D model of Shuri’s lab. He cheers, and Shuri nudges for him to zoom-in the projection.

Peter squeezes her side lightly, both arms now around her waist.

“Sorry,” she whispers into his ear.

“‘s okay,” he whispers back.

Ned taps something else, and a long list of pictures and videos projects by his head.

“It’s a kid,” MJ whispers, turning their bodies so she could get a better view of Ned’s tinkering. “Something happened.”

Her husband nods.

It happens sometimes.

He’s learned to wait.

Ned pauses, as if having a thought.

Then: “Bakit ngayon ka lang—

A female voice sings back. “—dumating sa buhay ko?”

“You can’t bring this to the lab,” Shuri cuts in.

Too bad,” Ned breathes, turning to the couple with shining eyes. “I love you guys.”

MJ smirks. “It changes depending on the song. We got most of your favorites coded in, but don’t try it with a Top 20 at the end of the year.”

“Not a true AI,” Peter shrugs.

“You made a singing AI,” Shuri deadpans. “For karaoke. A karaoke-singing AI, for a multi-functional, self-transforming computer. Karaoke.”

Peter raises his hands defensively. “It’s Ned!”

“If you try to sneak that thing in to work tomorrow, I’m having F.R.I.D.A.Y. hide it in the vault,” Shuri says to her employee.

Ned gulps. “Yes, princess.”

“Now what are you waiting for?” she asks, restarting the video recorder from her beads. She smirks. “I want to see how many songs Jones managed to get in there.”


“Miles, if you slam into a wall because you weren’t paying attention again, I’m going to check your room for illegal substances that you shouldn’t be sniffing,” MJ says, glaring at the boy.

A beat.

“Or shampoo. Maybe detergent.” Squint. “You don’t have a detergent addiction, do you?”

Miles tilts back on the counter, kept in place by Shuri’s Do not move, I will not apologize if the robots slice you instead of the shooters you managed to smoosh into your arm stare. Ned works away, toggling the arms from the holo-console beside the princess.

Shuri frowns. “Didn’t Peter do that before?”

MJ quirks a brow. “Hmm?”

“Sniff shampoo.”

“Oh, yeah,” MJ shrugs, like it’s normal. “He couldn’t remember the brand I used, so he went around CVS and Rite-Aid and sniffed them all one by one.”

Miles balks. “Seriously?

“Sure,” Ned nods, dismissing the console and walking over to take off the boy’s shooters. “I was there. I sent her Snaps.”

“The best show to wake up to, honestly,” MJ says, turning back to Miles. “I was napping from cramps and he didn’t want to call me up to ask,” she explains with a blank stare.

“Getcha a dude,” Shuri whistles, before returning to glaring at Miles. “What have we learned?”

“That...I should get vibranium-laced shooters?” Miles asks, voice rising in pitch.

MJ frowns. “Not until the provisions get passed, you don’t.”

“Isn’t it kinda dumb that kids don’t get the best stuff if they’re at risk of dying?”

“Well, duh, that’s what Matt and I are trying to fix, Spiderling.”

Hey,” Shuri says, insulted. “You do get the best stuff for armor. You just want fancier shooters.”

“I’m just saying, training wheels against Big Bads kinda suck,” Miles replies, rubbing his wrists.

“So learn to be more careful, or don’t go out there without backup,” MJ says, rolling her eyes. “Not that hard.”

“Stick to Peter,” Ned says, inspecting the shooters. “Not literally.” Pause. “A little literally? Just. You know what I mean.”

“You didn’t even want to be a superhero,” MJ reminds him. “Or were on the fence, at least.”

“Well…” Miles says, voice fading.

"I’m not saying quit, Miles, I’m saying you didn’t want the full brunt of the job before, and even with Hulk training…”

“...I could be doing better. Yeah.”

“Focus up or take a break, got it?” she says, hand on his shoulder. “If you need to, you can.”

“But what about Peter?” he asks, and well.

There it is.

He’s gone off the deep end.

“You can’t be everywhere,” MJ says softly. “He knows how to call for help now. He’ll be okay.”

“What about you?”

“I’m going to pretend you didn’t just ask that.”

(Shuri snorts.)

“You—” Miles starts, dropping his voice. “—you looked really scared. Before. With Venom.”

(Ned ducks his head, focusing on trying to salvage the shooters.)

MJ’s lips twitch up. “Listen, I wasn’t worried he wouldn’t wake up, if that’s what you mean. He always does, even when he legally dies.”

What.

“...We’ll talk about it later. Point is, Venom’s half-alien, and the alien half takes hosts.”

“Peter said.”

“Right. He almost got Pete,” MJ says, clearing her throat. “Bleeding, getting bruised—that’s whatever, man. Me and Ned, we’ve dealt with that since we were kids. Him longer than me. But that symbiote?” Her eyes drop to the floor, along with her voice. “That thing…it’s wrong.

Miles gulps.

“Peter’s not the big loser he used to be when he was younger,” MJ continues. “He can take a hit.”

“With my help,” Shuri coughs.

“I am ever grateful.”

“Don’t get fancy with me.”

“Sorry, HRH, She Who Builds, The Roaring Panther, Princess of Wak—”

“I hate you,” Shuri squints, snatching the web-shooters from Ned’s hands. “Take a break, and get these children out of my lab.”

“Shuri, you’re my favorite princess,” MJ promises, pulling Miles off the counter.

“She’s the only one you know,” Ned quips, initiating their secret handshake.

Details.”

Shuri flips them off.

“Thanks again, Shuri,” Miles says shyly.

“Don’t come back with broken shooters,” Shuri replies, not turning around. “Learn to take care of what’s given to you.”

Miles gulps as they step into the hallway, eyeing MJ and Ned carefully.

MJ quirks a brow at him.

“Um…” Miles starts nervously. “Ganke’s wondering…”

“No,” Ned says, crossing his arms. “Not to be the Uncool Uncle, but no, dude. You don’t need a Guy in the Chair, you have a whole team.”

“But you—”

“Got detained, almost went to prison,” MJ cuts in, copying Ned’s posture. “If Tony didn’t have a good system wipe, we would’ve been accessories.”

“What about an internship?” Miles half-begs.

“Eighteen,” Ned says with finality. “That’s less than two years. Tell him to take programming boot camps next summer.”

“You’re a big softie,” MJ blanks.

“Yup.”

“Stupid loophole.”

“Also a good investment,” Ned shrugs. “If he doesn’t cut it, he can still get a good job.”

“Is this what adults talk about all the time?” Miles cringes.

“Oh, yeah. It sucks. But sometimes you get a new cooking pan, and all is well in the world,” MJ blanks, uncrossing her arms to check her watch. “Speaking of—lunch?”

Ned quirks a brow, bringing up the clock on his bracelet. “...It’s barely 11.”

“I’m always hungry. It’s my superpower.”

“Same,” Miles says, raising a hand.

“Dude, you have—that’s not—nevermind, whatever,” MJ says, shaking her head. “Ned, you in or nah?”

“I gotta stay, help un-smoosh the shooters,” Ned shrugs. “Shuri’s gonna be happy you didn’t forget to eat, though.”

“She didn’t have to run errands today,” Miles snorts.

“Wow, just for that, you’re cleaning up,” MJ deadpans, already walking off. She waves back to Ned. “Call when we can release Spiderling back into the wild.”

Salute. “Got it.”

“You’re why the tabloids call me that,” Miles frowns as they enter the common room.

“I am indeed,” MJ smirks. “And because my husband, assistant to Tony Stark, insists he has met ‘the Spiderling’ at every mixer that invites journalists.”

“I hate you two.”

“Heh.”

“And you hog the ketchup.”

“Heheh.”


(Somewhere between chopping salad and popping soda, MJ asks him for his opinion on something.

All he does is hug her.)


Happy comes over, finally, sometime in July.

Sorry it’s last minute—”

“Dude, it’s fine,” MJ laughs, phone tucked between her ear and shoulder. “We just came from the grocery, too, so perfect timing.”

(Peter mouths This? Or this? to her every now and then, showing meats and vegetables to ask which to cook.

She nods or ehhh’s silently, and he sets to prep for their tag-team cooking marathon.)

Didn’t think I’d have a free day for another five months.

“You still on that lame-o diet?”

Funny.

“So…?”

Yes, Jones, I’m still on Paleo.

“Boo. Aight. We’ll get you all hopped up on protein. Seven-ish?”

Seven-ish sounds good. I’ll see you then.

“Later, Hap.”

Click.

“I expect pizza tomorrow,” MJ jokes, nudging Peter as she slides to his side by the counter, picking up the spices.

“You got it,” he replies, kissing her hair. “How are you so good at cooking meat, by the way? You don’t even taste test.”

“My husband’s basically a carnivore.”

“Must suck.”

“Not so bad,” she says, reaching over his arm to grab a knife.

He makes space before returning to cleaning the greens and carrots. “Well, if it makes you feel any better, my wife’s vegetarian, too.”

“Oh?”

“Mhmm. She prefers pasta over salad. I think it’s ‘cause I make some boss garlic bread and meatless carbonara.”

“You gotta let me try sometime,”she says, slicing the beef into long strips and tossing them into a mixing bowl.

“Sure, I’ll send a care package,” he says, chopping the vegetables.

“What, no invite?”

“I don’t think she’d appreciate that.”

She nudges him. “I’m sure she trusts you.”

He shrugs. “Yeah, but you’re trouble.”

“How so?”

“You’ve got a knife, for one.”

MJ guffaws, leaving the knife on the counter as she ducks her head, laughing. “Loser.”

Peter smiles wide, falling into a similar laughing pit. “C’mon, c’mon—we’ve got like an hour tops.”

“Oh, so now you’re the responsible one?” she grins, poking him with her elbow. “Sure.”

He sticks his tongue out at her.

Hahaha,” MJ laughs softly, kissing his nose.

He scrunches up his face, then kisses her lips slowly. “C’mon, MJ,” he murmurs as he pulls away, still smiling.

“Okay, chef,” she says, still leaning into him. Blink. “Why’s it always like this when we cook together?”

“Something science, blah blah, ‘camaraderie’, yadda—you know.”

“Eloquent.”

“Thanks!”

Nudge. “Pass the towel.”

“Magic word?” Peter says, waggling his brows.

“Uh. Pass the towel, please?

“Wrong word,” he blanks, turning back to the vegetables.

MJ squints at him, tilting her head. “...Is it a literal magic word?”

“Maybe. Two words, actually.”

“Um. Wingardium leviosa?

“Eh, close enough,” Peter shrugs, tossing her the towel.

“What was it?”

“‘Carrot cake’.”

What the hell?” she laughs, eyes crinkling. “Where’d you even get that? Strange?”

No,” he snorts, entering a giggle fit. “I was just thinking about buying you carrot cake tomorrow.”

“That’s freakin’ sweet, weirdo.”

“The carrot cake or the gesture?”

Both,” she says, trying to stop her laughter as she seasons the beef. “I think I’m about to get emotional diabetes.”

“I think those are just called ‘feelings’.”

“Well screw you, I’m calling ‘em emotional diabetes.” Pause. Snicker. “‘Cause I feel like I’m dying if I have too much or too little.”

“Two different kinds of dying, I hope?” Peter asks, that lopsided smile of his making her grin like a lovesick teenager.

“Oh, for sure.”

He hums.

“Like, too little makes me feel like I’m about to be freed from humanity, and too much is—”

“Mood killer,” Peter squints, but he’s trying not to laugh.

“Smile, Pete, it’s not illegal,” MJ jokes, looking smug.

“The worst.” Pause. “The best. But the worst.”

She kisses his cheek softly. “I love my title.”


Happy gets there at 7:15, carrying a box of cake.

“Is this carrot cake?” Peter asks with the blankest face he can muster.

“No, chocolate. For you guys. Why?” Happy asks, raising a brow.

“No reason,” he replies, coughing quietly as MJ laughs from behind him. “Dinner’s on the table.”

“I’ll take it,” MJ says, puffing up her cheeks to stopper the laughter. She takes the box, shoving it in the fridge.

Happy squints. “I know you guys don’t do any weird stuff, but...are you high?”

“Literally impossible,” Peter says, hands raised.

“After all those meds I had to take last month?” MJ frowns. “Hell no.”

“Oh, right, you almost died,” Peter frowns, turning slowly to Happy. He crosses his arms. “And you wouldn’t tell me anything.”

“She looked fine!” Happy says.

MJ gives him a look that says, And I’m the one who’s high?

“Not my best judgment call,” Happy relents, shoulders sagging. “But you’re still up, so everything’s good, right?”

MJ snorts. She claps his back, showing him to the table. “Yeah, Hap. Everything’s good.”

(Peter sees a flash of sadness in her eyes, but it’s gone in a millisecond.)


They reminisce, because Happy’s at that age.

“Hey MJ, what was that thing you said when you consoled me because Peter was trying to?” Happy asks at some point before main dish but after the salads.

“It was…” Peter starts, frowning. He turns to MJ. “What was it again?”

“‘It’s ‘cause Peter puts the ‘pathetic’ in ‘empathetic’, I believe,” she replies, chomping on a carrot.

“That’s it,” Happy says, snapping his fingers. “Knew you’d be fun.”

Heh, thanks,” MJ smirks.

“How do you even remember that?” Peter asks, quirking a brow.

Shrug. “It was around the time I was actively trying to get rid of my big, fat crush on you.”

“Hey, I love you,” he grins.

“Sap.”

“True.”

“Eight years,” Happy laughs, watching them. “Wouldn’t know it.”

“We’re disgusting,” MJ deadpans, slinging an arm over her husband’s shoulder.

Blech,” Peter agrees, tugging at her waist.

Happy looks, for once, actually happy. “You’re the real deal.”

“Signed, sealed, delivered,” Peter says, winking at MJ.

She snorts, hip-checking him. “Aight, Stevie, c’mon—time for the carnivores to eat.”


It takes a lazy Sunday afternoon for the world to come crashing down.

MJ’s reading on the couch, Peter nodding off to sleep on her lap.

And then.

The Moment™️.

She raises the book, slowly moving it closer then farther from her face. “I think I’m gonna need...glasses.” Curse. “Thought I almost got away.”

Peter pokes her side, and she yelps.

She glares down at his grinning face on her lap, his bed head still intact. “What the hell, dude.”

He shrugs. “Seemed like something you’d do.”

“I mean...yeah, but why would you do it?”

“Dunno, felt right.”

“...Weirdo.”

“You’re one to talk.”

“I am, actually,” MJ says with a dignified look.

Peter nods, a small laugh escaping his lips as he looks at her with familiar pride. “You wanna go look for frames on Saturday?”

“Why not tomorrow?”

“Gotta watch Kate.”

MJ quirks a brow. “Clint didn’t bring her with him?”

“Nope,” Peter pouts. “And Hope’s been messing with her arrows, so I’m gonna have to make sure she doesn’t pull a trick on Miles at training.”

“Oh man,” MJ breathes. “Can I come watch?”

“Would you be able to see?” he jokes.

“Listen, I’m not blind. Yet.”

“No meetings?”

“Two meetings in the morning, one in the afternoon—her slot’s usually one-ish, right?”

“Yup.”

“Cool, I can steal half an hour.”

“Nothing to do?” Peter asks, brow raised.

“You guys have been on your best behavior, so no,” MJ blanks. “But I’ve gotta visit some centers with Shuri this week, so you’re stuck on kitchen duty again. Sorry.”

“‘s cool,” he laughs. “I love cooking for you. Means you don’t skip meals.”

“Are we on that again?”

“You skipped breakfast today.”

She quirks a brow, staring him down. “And whose fault was that?”

Zzzzzzz,” Peter says, feigning sleep.

“...Wanna skip dinner?”

Zzzz...not gonna work...zzZZzzz…

MJ clicks her tongue. “Can I have cake, at least?”

Zz...carrot...zzzz...or chocolate...zZZzzZZZzz…?”

“Carrot, I may have downed the last of the chocolate around midnight.”

Peter frowns tightly.

“Pete?”

ZZZZzzzzzz...glutton...zzzZZzz…

“Nearing my period, babe, get over it.”

ZZzzzzZZzzz…

MJ snorts. “C’mon, I’m hungry.”

Peter hops up, eyes still closed. He flips up to the ceiling, pressing a button on the thin bracelet on his wrist. It grows into his web-shooter, and he thwicks MJ, pulling her up to him.

“This is a new level of extra, Pete. Kinda impressed,” she nods, allowing him to carry her to the kitchen.

Upside down.

Because why not.

Beep-beep,” Peter says, dropping her down to the island-side. “Last stop, last stop—everybody off at the last stop!”

“Wow. I love you. You’re ridiculous,” MJ laughs, getting the plates ready.

“It’s my real superpower.”

“Wouldn’t doubt it.”

Peter drops down by the fridge. “Hmm...what do we have—”

“Do you want to come with me to the rec center on Friday?” MJ blurts out.

He turns to find her leaning over the counter, a fork balanced on her pointer finger.

Her face is blank, but her eyes carry the weight of ten worlds.

“‘Course,” Peter says softly, walking over to her. He stays beside her, watching the fork wiggle. “What time?”

“Ten.”

“Okay.” He kisses her temple. “Want cheese?”

“Yeah,” she says, smiling a little.


It’s a whisper before bed, when the lights are out and Peter’s done patrolling with Miles.

It’s quiet reassurance.

It’s love.

“Thanks, Pete.”

Chapter Text

“So what are we doing for Peter’s birthday? Six Flags? Medieval Times? Star Wars marathon?” Ned asks, plopping down on the couch beside her. “May’s free that Saturday, so we could do the full weekend.”

“What about Shuri?” MJ asks, chewing on a pencil. “Or Tones?”

“She can holo in, T’Challa’s got a big trip to Sweden and she has to come with. Tony’s free, Pepper isn’t, Rhodey is, Happy has to check, uhhh—” he says, looking up at the ceiling and counting. “Wanda, Viz, Nat are free, Clint’s a maybe, Scott’s an If I don’t do anything illegal, Kamala’s free, Carol’s a maybe, and everyone else hasn’t gotten back to me yet.”

“...So surprise party’s out.”

Ned slumps back. “Yup.”

“Kamala was coming?” Miles asks from the ceiling.

“If you date and break up and I have to deal with it—” MJ starts, deadpan.

“—It’s not like that,” Miles cuts in, frowning.

“Heh. Heheh.”

He frowns harder.

“You know, when you’re upside down, frowning looks like a smile,” she smirks, content with her place in the world.

That is, as a nudge-nudge-wink-wink kind of person.

“You kinda walked into that, dude,” Ned says, pausing. “Crawled? Crawled into that.”

Miles pouts. “Why are you two allowed to be in the same room?”

“We’re excellent planners,” MJ says, stealing Ned’s holoputer.

“Good work ethic,” Ned adds, reaching over to tap projections and open a file.

“Kaiju-killing buddies.”

“The chosen ones.”

“Nightmare to all Spider-Men.”

“Nightmare to all, in general.”

Something growls.

“Yeah, okay, but—did you guys skip lunch again?” Miles asks after the sound dies away.

“That’s exactly why we’re nightmares,” MJ says with an agreeing point. She looks up. “Can you grab a veggie sub and—”

“—I’ll take the leftover pasta,” Ned says, glancing up briefly before returning to Peter’s Non-Parkour Birthday Plans.

“Veggie sub and leftover pasta, got it,” Miles repeats, scurrying over to the kitchen. “You think Peter wants to go out or chill at home?”

“Small get-together might be best this year,” MJ says, exhaling as she leans back on the couch. “He’s been tired lately.”

Ned quirks a brow. “Insomnia’s back?”

She nods.

“Anything I can help with?”

“Nah, I got it. It’s not that bad, he just...y’know.”

“Needs to be near breathing?”

“Uh-huh.”

Miles shoves the sandwich into the toaster and the pasta into the microwave. “He got shaky last night on patrol,” he says slowly.

“Told you not to tell me?” MJ blanks.

“Yeah.”

“Can’t blame him,” she sighs, pushing her hair back. “He doesn’t want me worrying.”

“Weird that he won’t bring it up, though,” Ned says, eyeing the microwave. “Thought he was over the whole ‘keep a secret from my loved ones’ phase.”

“It’s my fault,” MJ says, half-frowning.

Beep! Beep! Beep!

Miles furrows his brows at her.

Silence, until:

Ding!

He plates their food, still looking at his Big Sis. 

MJ rubs her temples, staring at the floor. “I took him to the rec center with me.”

MJ,” Ned says, frowning. “You didn’t tell me.”

“You didn’t tell Ned?” Miles blinks, handing them their orders.

“I wanted to be sure of something first,” MJ sighs. “And yeah, now I am, but Peter’s been feeling really guilty about what happened, so I didn’t get around to telling you.”

“He always gets like this, even if it’s not his fault,” Ned tells Miles. “Sometimes it’s quick, but sometimes you gotta wait it out. Usually he wants a hug, but one time he almost pushed me into oncoming traffic so uh, ask before you do.”

“And you should understand the sound thing, but keep it in mind anyway,” MJ adds, picking at the edge of her sub. She glances at Ned, clearing her throat. “But that...that’s not what Miles was surprised about.”

Ned tilts his head. “Whatchu mean? That you brought Pete to the center?”

“Yeah, uh—the reason I brought him.”

“Uh? Different from a kid going through trauma?”

MJ inhales, and Miles sits by her feet, leaning back on her legs as silent support. He reaches up, and she grabs his hand, squeezing.

She turns, staring Ned dead in the eye.

Ned furrows his brows, but says nothing.

MJ exhales. “You can’t tell Pete.”


(She gets a hug and promises for dried mangoes.)


“Did I ever tell you why I fell in love with the wonder that is Peter Parker?” MJ says out of the blue, at the end of another day spent entirely at one of Shuri’s schools in the Bronx.

Miles blinks. “No?”

“Listen up,” she says, stretching. “I’m feeling sappy today.”

“Is this because you almost died the other month?”

“Hey, hey—I did not ‘almost die’, that is a false perception of what was a…” she starts, fading. She scrunches up her face and puffs up her cheeks. “...Yeah, screw it, I almost died. But. No.”

Miles watches her scan the building, watching children and teens build and create unreservedly. Shuri’s program has the backing of millions, and she has the money to keep it running even without them.

It’s a shade of a utopia, but here?

It’s enough to be paradise on steroids.

“I just see all these kids, sometimes, and—like, a buncha orphans, foster kids, the underprivileged—look at ‘em, Miles. They’re doing great things, and they’re gonna have the world at their feet.”

“Um. What does this have to do with Peter?”

“He used to dumpster dive for computer parts,” she says, the side of her lips twitching up. “Didn’t ask May for anything if he could help it.”

“That sounds like him.”

“I mean other than that and being an orphan, there’s really no relation to our current hangout,” MJ blanks. “My brain's jumping though. Whatever. Anyway. Peter was a skinny little white boy doing experiments and trying to become Tony Stark.”

“But Tony’s...Tony.”

“Trying—he met him at an expo before, when he was a kid. I am...thoroughly convinced that if he didn’t get bitten by a radioactive spider, he would’ve ended up building himself his own Iron Man suit post-MIT.”

“I could see that.”

“Right? So, yeah, that stuff goes on, etcetera—you know the freshman-sophomore year lowdown, and junior year was all standardized tests and late nights, but senior year...senior year was MJ-is-dead-ville,” she says with a resolute nod.

Pause.

“...I mean, to be fair, it was also Peter-is-dead-ville, but we like to pretend that didn’t happen.”

“Was that a jo—”

“Yes.”

“—Okay. Go on.”

“So senior year starts and I have instant regret about not asking him out junior year, or over summer, because of the world almost ending and all that. He comes back. I kiss him—Ned has a video—I kiss him, and it’s super screwy in the head, I think, when you kiss someone you’re meant to be with for the first time.”

“Why?”

“It…” Squint. “It feels like coming home. During winter. And the heat’s perfect and there’s tea and food on the table and blankets. I don’t know. If you ask Peter, he tells you it’s like that scene in Tarzan where they touch hands and Tarzan realizes what humans are for the first time.”

Snort. “Man, I love Peter.”

“Mood.”

Miles frowns then, putting a hand up. “But—wait a sec—but that was September? You guys weren’t dating in September.”

“We weren’t official in September,” MJ corrects. “He was dealing with stuff, and I kissed him on a whim.”

“And then you waited three months.”

“I waited one for him to ask me out—or accept my invite depending on how you look at it.”

Miles’ jaw drops.

MJ smirks. “I just didn’t tell you jack until the third month, because that’s when we actually went out for the first time.”

“Yo, I thought I was family,” Miles balks, nudging her shoulder. “That’s low.”

“Suck it up, little man, my privacy over your knowing any day.”

Bruh.”

MJ shrugs. “But yeah. October, stuff happens. December we go out. January we get snowed-in at Midtown, and I realize, like, this sucker’s the best human being I’m ever going to meet, and won’t ever try to hurt me, and won’t stop being my friend.”

Miles watches her; her eyes stare off into the distance, at a tree on the other side of the schoolyard.

Peter helped plant the sapling there when Shuri had opened the new space.

“And I already knew those things, but—man, Miles, never settle.”

Miles blinks.

MJ smiles fondly, her eyes crinkling at a memory he can’t see. “He made everything clear on his end, at the start of it. Let me say my piece. He waited for me—every stubborn second—to talk to him about things I wouldn’t even tell Ned. Or you. Big things. Small things. Stuff I thought no one would care about.”

A kid gets picked up by the gates, happily showing her parents a mostly-plastic robo-cat. Miles watches her father carry her on his shoulders, her mother presumably asking questions about the device as they walk away.

MJ closes her eyes, tilting her head up. “Wanna know a secret?”

Miles quirks a brow. “...You’re bi?”

“In what universe is that a secret?”

“True. Hit me.”

“I was already in love with him,” MJ laughs softly. “I just didn’t know it.”

Geez, MJ,” Miles laughs, “anyone coulda told you that.”

“Smartass.”

“Yeah, I am.”

“And yet, barely passing physics.”

“You said you wouldn’t bring up physics today!" he frowns, crossing his arms. "Get back to your story.”

“What’s to get back on?" she squints. "I fell for the biggest nerd-geek-jock-but-only-in-build combo in Midtown Tech because he’s genuinely nice, and is prone to eternal loyalty. Simple.”

Miles squints at her. “...Your brain is all over the place today, you know that?”

“Someone gave me caffeinated tea accidentally, and it’s doing wonders for my non-Adderall-taking body.”

“How buzzed are you right now?”

“Enough to want Adderall.”

“Are you driving home? Want me to bring you instead? I got my license yesterday.”

“That’s not reassuring.”

Miles laughs, watching the family as they walk to the subway station.

All smiles.

Okoye steps out from the school building, following a group of kids with remote controls in their hands.

“You never told me why you took his name,” he says after a minute.

“On paper,” MJ says.

“Still.”

“My parents were good at paying for my existence,” she blanks, voice lowering. “Not so much being actual parents.”

Miles hangs on the edge of the bench, waiting.

“I can change the course of my family, with my own name. I still can. I still do. But I wanted to be part of what he and May have. That’s family. And it was like, a big deal for Peter, which was a bonus.” MJ shrugs. “It made sense. Makes sense.” Pause. “I’m hella buzzed right now.”

“Nah, forreal?”

“Screw you.”

“Hey, but seriously,” Miles says, smiling. “I’m really happy you found each other.”

MJ snorts, watching Okoye test a kid’s drone.

It sputters a bit at the start, then flies high and true.

MJ smiles. “I’m really happy, too.”


2AM.

Wednesday.

Peter breathes slowly, evenly.

The curtains are drawn, but light seeps through the bottom and sides of the fabric, casting a low glow on the metals in the room.

His voice comes out in a whisper. “MJ?”

“...Right here, Pete.”

“You should sleep.”

Yawn. “You should, too. Long day tomorrow.”

“I know. Can I turn on a light?”

“Yeah, ‘course.”

He reaches for the lamp, eyes smarting as he readjusts to look at her face.

A beat.

Blood pumping.

“It wasn’t your fault,” she whispers, touching his cheek.

“I know,” he mumbles, the dark circles under his eyes protesting.

“They were home. In Egypt. That’s another country.”

“Yeah.”

“You gonna tell Uncle Ben tomorrow?”

“I’ve been visiting. Been talking.”

“I know. It’s good,” she says, thumb caressing his cheek.

"You always know."

"Mhm."

Silence, as they watch each other in the golden light.

Peter looks her over with eyes and hands, searching.

Searching for injuries.

The small scar on her arm from two years ago—a bullet graze from a protest in Sokovia.

The one by her hip—five years, the rocky outcrop of a waterfall.

An indent on her knee—high school, senior year. Minor surgery for a torn ligament.

She was running for her life.

MJ feels his hand still on her knee. She looks at him dead-on, a swipe of her thumb forcing him to look back up. “You’re pretty great.”

“Thanks,” he rasps.

She moves closer, forehead on his. “You want to feel it, right?”

He rests a hand on her neck, right where her pulse is. He nods silently, feeling the thrumming rhythm.

She blinks twice, settling in there. She keeps her hand on his cheek, and a leg hooked over his.


(“Thank you,” Peter breathes at four in the morning, when she’s out solid and he’s about to be.)


Peter sleeps his first full night on his birthday, three weeks after the insomnia picks up. He and MJ are over at Ned’s for a movie night, fresh off dinner with May and afternoon chill time with Tony.

“Careful—don’t wake him up,” MJ whispers, watching Ned drape a blanket over Peter’s curled form on the floor.

Ned shoots her an Obviously, dude look.

No need to be snappy, she shoots back.

Grease continues to play in the background, the snappy music only lulling the part-time insomniac further into dreamland.

MJ taps at her phone:

you think he’ll dream of being in a flying car?

he might want 2 get a leather jacket after this, Ned texts back.

didnt work the first three times, isnt gonna work tonight

u ruin dreams u know that

just yours

Ned snorts loudly, then slaps a hand over his face, also loudly.

Peter keeps on sleeping.

Ned's phone buzzes.

how do you manage to build machines that require high levels of being like, not a hot mess

ha. ha.

no I’m serious it baffles me

MJ springs a hand up, catching the pillow Ned throws to her face.

Careful, she glares, frowning tightly.

Ned sticks his tongue out at her, grinning playfully. He sits back down on the floor beside her, and she leans on him.

Ned takes to his phone.

heres 2 more quiet nights n pete gettin to sleep

[cheering crowd.gif]

u didnt even attach an actual gif

feelin lazy

lol. night night

if you pass out I’m claiming you as my pillow

u??? already??? have?????

double claim

...ok

night Ned

Ned leans back on the foot of the couch, MJ still on his side.

Ten minutes in, and they’re both snoring.


They wake up to a layer of webbing on their forms. Again.

“I’ma kick his ass,” MJ grumbles.

“Only if you can knock him out,” Ned pouts, looking for Peter.

There's a note in front of them that reads: 

Thanks for the blanket, I wanted to return the favor <3

"I'ma kick his ass," MJ repeats, teeth grinding.

Ned groans. "...I'ma join you."


May not-so-subtly nudges her the next weekend she and Peter come over. “MJ, hon, you’re staring.”

MJ coughs. “Right.”

Peter smirks from across the counter, resting his chin on his hand. His jaw is jutting to showcase his growing 3-day stubble. “Still staring, babe.”

Inhale. “Admiring.”

“Jaw, sweetie,” May says, closing her in-law’s mouth.

“Yes. That. Exactly. Jaw.”

May snorts, humorously rolling her eyes. “Peter, couldn’t you have unveiled your masterpiece at your own place?”

“Sorry—I haven’t seen MJ in almost a week,” Peter replies, still smirking. He throws in an eyebrow waggle for good measure, and MJ pffffs an exhale, slowly and appreciatively, eyes ever-trained on his jaw.

(Huzzah for week-long missions with Nat, Bucky, and Carol teaching him the art of facial hair during off-hours:

“Whoa, Parker’s got stubble,” Nat had said, trapping him in a headlock. “The kid’s grown. Does MJ know?”

“I kinda just assumed she liked me clean-shaven?” Peter’d replied.

“Oh no,” Carol had said, stopping a punch midway to Bucky’s face to turn to him. “You fool.”

Bucky'd facepalmed. “Kid, we have half a week left—grow that.”

“O...kay?”)

“Save it til you get home,” May laughs, putting down their plates on the counter with a soft clink.

“I’m gonna draw you,” MJ breathes. “I’m gonna draw you, and you’re not allowed to move, and you’re growing a proper beard. Non-negotiable.”

Peter winks. “Anything for you, MJ.”

“Free advice: eat quick,” May says to them both, lips pursed to keep herself together.

MJ sticks her tongue in her cheek, squinting. “I love your nephew.”

“Mhm.”

“Have I told you that?”

“Yes.”

“Cool. You should be reminded.”

“Uh-huh.”

“That was my weekly reminder.”

“Eat, sweetheart,” May says, politely sliding MJ’s plate closer to her.

“Yes, May.”

“Fork, MJ,” she coaches, lifting MJ’s hand. “Spin the pasta with your fork—that’s it. All the way to your mouth. Lil’ higher. Keeeeep goin’. Liiiittle more.”

“‘his goo’?”

Chew.

Mrrhmm,” MJ hums, chewing.

“Good job,” May says, patting her head. She turns to Peter, laughter glinting in her eyes. “Eat, or I’m trapping you here after dinner.”

“Oh, I’m fine with that,” he replies, playfully twirling his fork in the pasta. “I can wait. I’m patient, see.”

“Lie,” MJ blurts out between mouthfuls, momentarily back to normal.

“Oh, good, she’s still in there,” May nods.

“Barely,” MJ blanks, shaking her head slightly. “Somewhere between 80% and 20%.”

Peter winks again, giving her a toothy grin.

“...15. 15%. Decreasing.”

“Peter, stop it,” May says, frowning to keep the grin off. She covers his face with her hand, turning him to the couch. “Go, get over there. Go finish your food.”

“Whoawhoawhoa—why punish me with his sentence?” MJ says, dropping her fork.

“Eat, I worked hard on the new sauce,” May says pointedly, blocking Peter from view.

MJ has a silent, two-minute debate with herself before begrudgingly picking her fork back up, eating as quickly as possible with a brain that’s been turned to mush.

“Done, babe?” Peter calls from the couch, food scraped off his plate.

(May’s still between them, hands up and laughing quietly whenever Peter “tries” to look over.)

“Yuh,” MJ replies, mouth full and grabbing her phone. “‘anks, Muh, ‘ee yuh nex’ wee’!”

Peter quirks a brow at his aunt.

May steps to the side. “Be free, little one,” she says solemnly.

I’m not short,” Peter frowns, getting up to give her a kiss, but is remedied by MJ’s Still Staring face.

He picks up her plate on his way to the sink, and once they clink to the bottom of the basin, MJ drags him by the arm out the door.

“Love you, May!” she says with a two-fingered salute, offering a smile gained from either winning every prize at a Six Flags booth (off of free games), or having knowledge of your superhuman husband having a new, very aesthetically pleasing superpower.

Peter waves like he’s twelve. “Love you, May! See you ne—wow, have you been lifting, MJ?—See you next week!”


“I don’t think May thought you were actually gonna draw me.”

Scritch, scritch-scratch. “Nobody ever does, and yet here are.”

Whine. “Can you draw faster?”

“Oh? You think you can mess with me at dinner and expect me to not throw that back at you?”

Curse.

Snort. “Suck it up, I had to.”

“...This is gonna be like, an hour, isn’t it?”

“If you’re lucky.”


Spider-Miles, Spider-Miles, does whatever a Spider-Miles does!” Ned croons, carrying the cake over Miles’ head and setting it on the table.

“I have my own theme song?” Miles asks, watching the one and seven candles with glee.

“No,” MJ says, steadying her phone.

“I’ve never been this far out of Jersey,” Kamala says, awe in her eyes as she surveys the Parker household.

“Yes you have,” Ganke says from beside her, furrowing his brows.

She nudges him.

Oh. No. You haven’t.”

“Haha,” Peter says, turning to Ned and MJ. He juts a thumb at the teens. “It’s us!”

“Yeah, sure, because being tall equals stretchy, morphing powers,” MJ deadpans.

Ned squints. “It’s ‘cause we’re both Asian, isn’t it?”

“I hate you both,” Peter mutters, taking MJ’s phone and taking a downshot from the ceiling.

“That’s still weird outside of the costume,” Kamala says.

“You’ve been training with him longer than he’s been training Miles,” MJ says, scrunching up her face.

Kamala turns to her briefly. “It’s still weird.”

“K, you’re Mr. Fantastic plus Mystique plus Wolverine.”

“...That would make a great NPC in my D&D game.”

“Chaotic Neutral,” Ned says, rubbing his chin.

“Ooh, brilliant,” Kamala says, taking her phone out to jot down the idea.

“Cake, kids,” Peter says from above them. “You know, for the birthday boy?”

“Sorry,” Kamala says.

MJ shrugs.

Ned grins sheepishly, turning on the video on his bracelet. “Rollin’!”

Happy birthday to you, dear Spider-Man 2! Happy birthday—on a workday, hope you don’t turn to goo!” the group sings in union.

“That’s a weird version,” Miles snorts, blowing out the candles.

“You can thank Shuri,” MJ says, stealing icing and drawing a line down the middle of Miles’ face.

“...Thanks, sis.”

“Ya welcome, bro.”

“Presents?” Ganke says, chucking Miles an envelope.

“That looks sketchy,” MJ says, quirking a brow. “You pulling something, Ganke?”

He shakes his head vigorously.

“You sure?”

He sweats.

“Karen, eyes on this one, please,” she says clearly, and something in the walls beeps.

Kamala sits up. “Karen’s here?”

“Only when we want her to be,” Peter says, dropping down. He nods at Miles. “Open it, dude.”

“I feel like I’m doing something illegal,” Miles pouts, opening the envelope.

He drops it, eyes widening.

Ganke grins.

“How’d you pull for Hamilton tickets?!” Miles yells, jumping out of his seat in disbelief.

“Won ‘em in the lottery,” Ganke grins. “We got like, an hour and a half before we gotta head to the city.”

“What were you gonna give me if you didn’t win?”

Kamala mumbles something, and Peter snorts involuntarily when he picks up the words “make me” and “ask out”.

Miles, distracted and on the other side of the island, thankfully doesn’t hear it.

Peter nudges her, grinning. “You good?”

“Yeah, but your face fuzz is weird,” she says, making a face.

“Wait 'til you’re 25,” MJ blanks, exhaling.

“There are children,” Ned says, covering Miles and Ganke’s ears.

(The boys balk, furrowing their brows in unison.)

Kamala looks between all of them, unsure of what’s happening. “Uh…?”

Peter shakes his head, patting her shoulder. “Nope. Nooope.” He turns to Miles. “How many tickets?”

Tres.”

“Thought they only went to two?”

“Oh, I bought one, like eight months ago,” Ganke says. “That was my backup.”

“Your what,” Kamala glares, leaning over the counter.

He leans back, hands raised.

Miles looks between them, confused. “Wait, what?”

“Ew, it is us,” MJ grimaces, pulling away from the counter. “Hard pass on the déjà vu.”

“What?” Miles repeats, confused. “What is?”

Ned pats his shoulder. “Have fun at Hamilton,” he says in an upbeat voice, trying not to laugh. “Have a—oh man—have a great, great time, my dude.”

Miles raises a brow at Peter.

Peter glances at Ned.

Ned snorts at MJ.

MJ winks at Kamala.

Kamala frowns at Ganke.

Ganke squeaks. “We will!”

Yeah you will,” MJ says, sipping from her tea.

“Flip a coin for the front seats,” Peter laughs.

“Or don’t,” Ned guffaws.

Miles wrinkles his nose. “I’m super confused.”

“Happy birthday, Spidey 2,” MJ smirks, chin up. “I think you guys should go, make a day of it. We’ll watch the cake.”

“Take a nice stroll,” Ned adds smugly, tongue in cheek (literally).

“In the sunset,” Peter finishes, drinking water.

Miles raises a brow. “Uh. Okay.”

“Ithinkweshouldgo,” Ganke chokes out, grabbing his friends and the tickets. “Thanks,we’llbebackforthecake.”

Kamala facepalms.

“Wait, but—” Miles protests, halfway out the door.

Ganke shakes his head aggressively, refusing to turn around.

Laughter follows them out the door, Ned the loudest of them all.


“Happy birthday, MJ!” Peter hollers, hopping into the bedroom at twelve past midnight. Gifts are tied around him like a mish-mashed chest piece: small and big, envelopes and boxes. He may or may not look like a really weird Christmas tree topped with a Spider-Man mask, but hey, maybe that’s his costume and this was a one-man costume party, okay?

His wife closes the book she’s reading too fast, and Peter spots loose pages hanging off, a shade or two off with the rest of the tome.

Huh.

Weird.

“You look like Santa ambushed you and decided to make you his red-and-blue pack-mule-slash-jousting-champion,” MJ blanks, hastily tucking the book away.

“Yes, that’s the point.”

“That’s a very specific look to go for.”

“I have the final beard under here, just FYI.”

MJ’s eyebrows raise. “Get rid of the mask.”

“Unlockable by opening everyone else’s presents,” Peter says smugly.

Squint. “When I told Tony to put a lock on that thing, this is not what I had in mind.”

“C’mon, MJ—I know for a fact that May got you something super cool.”

“...Toss it.”

“...Cool and untossable.”

“Not a word.”

“You make up words all the time.”

“I’m believable.”

Hey.”

MJ grins. “Fine, c’mere,” she says, waving him over.

“This is May’s,” he says, pointing to something on his back. “I think. I don’t know what I’m pointing at.”

“Royal blue?”

“Yeah!”

He hears the crumpling of paper, smiling like a child under the mask.

MJ whistles. “Jane Austen? First edition? 

“Someone at work told her about this non-profit bookstore uptown,” Peter says, turning around. “Everything's super cheap and they get some cool finds all the time. I can take you whenever you’re free.”

“I love May.”

“Same.”

She hugs him.

Uncomfortably.

“...How many presents are on you?”

“Not sure—I think at least ten from some kids in Oakland, probably twenty from in-state. Then like, the Avengers. Legal team. Dora Milaje. Mr. Delmar. That old guy from 3rd Ave you saved from a falling AC unit last time we went to Shake Shack.”

“Aw, how is Mr. Vasechkin?”

“Rich. Very rich,” Peter says with raised brows, pointing at a shoulder piece. “This thing is worth more than our cars.”

“Many things are worth more than our cars,” MJ says, taking the black box. She chuckles, opening it slowly. “Like, what could possi—holy.”

Peter nods.

And nods.

And nods.

“This is Patek Philippe.”

“Uh-huh.”

“This is like. Luxury-wear.”

“Yeah.”

“This is Patek Philippe.”

“Yeah-yuh, and I don’t know if it’s even like, safe to take it out of the box,” Peter stage whispers.

MJ puts it on. Carefully. “You think I can get kidnapped with this?” she asks, turning her wrist.

Peter shrugs exaggeratedly.

“I think this...might be worth more than our house. Tech not included.”

“Well, technically, we got the house for free, so—”

Ha-ha, smartass.”

“Is this one old?” Peter asks, leaning over to look.

“Looks it,” she says, furrowing her brows. “Why would he give it to me?”

“It’s gonna ruin the whole like, mystery of his niceness, but he said he had too many watches in storage and he hates that his grandson spends too much, so ‘I give to your wife, she will take care, yes?’” Peter says, managing a good Russian-speaking-English accent.

“Hey, your lessons are paying off,” MJ nods appreciatively.

“Thanks, Nat threatened to make me do dodge drills if I messed up more than twice in an hour,” Peter says, his mask squinting. “Yeah, not, not recommended.”

“I’ll take your word for it.”

Peter spins. “Which one you want next?”

“It’s almost one,” MJ whines.

“Then open ‘em faster,” he teases, leaning over.

She puts her arms around his neck, pulling him closer. “What if I don’t want to?”

“Then wait ‘til the morning,” he shrugs, unperturbed.

“Jerk,” she squints, lips forming a thin line.

(She speeds through the gifts.

Someone calls an emergency exactly three seconds before he pulls off the mask, and she throws no less than eight half-ripped boxes at him as he waves sweetly from the windowsill, before he turns to swing into the night sky.)


(He went for a circle beard and it looks good and MJ draws it several times during her meetings, and plans for at least four paintings in the coming weeks.)


May picks them and Ned up from work, stealing them away from co-workers to watch a movie before dropping the couple off at home.

(It’s a predictably bad film, and the sit in the back row of an otherwise empty theater, laughing and making bad lip-readings as a unit.)


“Think they’ll actually call?” MJ asks, scratching at the edge of her plate.

“I hope so,” Peter whispers, kissing her cheek. “How bummed you gonna be?”

“Three cakes’ worth.”

“You get three ice cream sandwiches, I can’t do much more than that,” Peter says, lips forming a tight line. “Unhealthy, you know.”

“It’s my birthday,” MJ faux-gasps. “I’m the love of your life, and you’re keeping my one wish from me?”

He snorts. “Uh. Yeah. I don’t want you getting diabetes, Sugar, Spice, and Everything Sarcastic.”

“I feel blessed to have lived long enough to hear you come up with that,” MJ nods approvingly.

They eat in silence, MJ periodically looking over her phone.

Miles drops by for a quick visit, and she puts on airs, Peter by her side the entire time.

Her smile falters as the night goes on.


No one calls.


Peter kisses her forehead and asks Wanda to cover patrol with Miles.

“Sorry,” he whispers, holding her tightly. “Couldn’t get in contact this time.”

“‘s okay,” she whispers, curled into his chest. “At least your beard exists.”

Peter laughs softly. “I love you.”

“Mm. Love you.”

“Happy birthday.”

She smiles, leaning up to kiss him softly. “Still is.”


Ten days later, Peter opens a random drawer in his search for his wallet, and finds half-written letters (mostly) scratched out with a black marker.

They’re addressed to him.


He shoves them back and makes a list of things he’s willing to lose.


MJ finds the dumbest, most cliché’d looking cake, and has the bakery put an extra-stupid message on it.

It’s tradition, see.

May had made an offhand comment once, about receiving something cheesy and stupid for her birthday, and she’d decided to take it literally, as a joke.

Except May’s sense of humor and sense of sentimentality are intertwined, so instead MJ ends up buying a dumb cake every year, separate from her gift and from whatever fancy piece of baked goods Ned and Peter decide to bring over.

“Chocolate mousse,” MJ announces, unveiling the cake at May’s apartment. “I went for a classic.”

“‘Happy birthday! There’s a letter-limit, but you should know tha—’ oh, I like that,” May laughs, reading the icing. “That’s a nice one! And look, it’s got little ribbons on the side! Thank you, MJ.”

“No prob, May,” MJ grins, giving her a hug. “What’d the boys bring?”

“Sokovian pastries from Peter,” May says with an approving nod at her nephew.

Peter grins. “Made ‘em myself.”

“Do you ever work?” MJ laughs.

“Hey!”

“Heh.”

“And Ned provided today’s dinner,” May smiles, gesturing to the tin foil-packaged goods on the countertop.

“Half by me, half by my mom,” Ned nods. “Vegetarian-friendly, of course.”

“Bless up,” MJ says, taking a seat by May. “Presents now, presents later?”

May frowns. “You didn’t have to get me—”

The trio tilt their head at her in unison.

“Oh—hiveminds—okay,” May says, pursing her lips. “But I will only take one.”

“It’s only one, May,” Peter grins, handing her a small box.

She quirks a brow. “Ominous.”

The three of them share a look, half-smiling.

Oh,” May breathes, pulling out the necklace. “This is—I thought I’d lost—

“We found it,” Ned says softly.

A gift from Ben, etched with their names. Clean, now.

There’s a new charm addition.

“‘For our mother’,” May reads in a low voice.

MJ leans her head on May’s shoulder, hugging her in-law from the side.

Peter and Ned walk around the counter, joining in as she wipes the tears from her eyes.

May kisses each of them: on the head, on the cheek.

It’s snows briefly that night, between a mini-dance party and tossing popcorn at each others’ mouths.

“November snow, look at that,” May breathes.

“Happy birthday, May,” Peter says, clinging to her side on the couch, much like when he was younger.

“Make space, I wanna cuddle her, too,” MJ says, trying to step over her husband. She fails, and opts to half-sit, half-lie above him. “Happy day-of-birth, May.”

Ned’s smart.

He sits on the armrest to May’s side, corralling them all in a group hug. “Happy birthday, May!”

“Thanks, kids,” she smiles, leaning back into their hugs. “Thanks so much.”

(She leaves a hand on the necklace as they watch the snow.)

Chapter Text

“Did you know Kamala writes fanfics?” Miles asks after patrol, plopping down onto Ned’s couch beside Peter.

“Oh, yeah,” MJ says from the floor, stealing pancit from the plate by her face.

(Ned’s.

It’s Ned’s.

It’s always Ned’s.)

Chomp. “Have you read the one with the parents who like, had a prenup about villainy?”

“The one where Mr. McLaren can’t divorce his wife unless she turns into a supervillain?” Miles asks, pulling off his mask.

Peter snorts, watching Ned take MJ’s roll of pandesal as revenge.

“That’s the one,” MJ blanks. “Not fiction.” She points at her husband. “I made him sign that.”

Miles’ attention snaps to Peter. “She made you sign a prenup?”

“It said, and I quote,” Peter starts, taking a moment to wipe all emotion from his face, “‘I, Peter Parker, hereby agree to NEVER, under any circumstancesbar supervillainy, abuse, or like offensesdivorce or separate from Michelle Jones, under penalty of death, and banishment from one Ned Leeds.’”

Miles slowly turns his head to MJ, raising a brow.

“Yeah, and I’m still not sure if it’s legally binding,” MJ deadpans, stealing more food from Ned.

“Can you please—” Ned seethes, raising his plate, “—there’s more on the counter, like. I don’t understand. Get up, ya bum giraffe.”

“Ned, I’m offended. I thought you knew how much I loved you,” MJ says, looking up. “And how much better food tastes when it is stolen from you.”

“Leech.”

Opportunist.”

Ned turns to Peter. “Your wife.”

Peter shrugs, leaning over to take a forkful of pancit for himself. He slowly, deliberately shoves it into his mouth, chewing once per second with a rounded grin plastered on his face.

You.”

“She righ’,” Peter says, speeding up his chewing by a fraction, only to tag-team with MJ to finish off Ned’s plate. “It’s be’er whe’ it’s fro’ you.”

“I hate you both,” Ned mutters, getting up and shoving the last of the pandesal into his mouth.

Hurhur,” MJ taunt-chuckles, delightedly eating in his view.

“I’ll get more,” Miles laughs, already up. He points at each of them in succession. “Pancit? That all?”

“Get the lumpia, too, and a couple more pandesals,” Ned says, curled over his plate like an armadillo. “There are vultures afoot.”

“Food-sharing builds trust,” MJ counters, poking at the open spaces in his defenses with her fork. “Trust is very important in the superhero biz.”

“I trust you.”

“Really?”

“I trust you to be a scavenger in my own home.”

“You’re a scavenger in ours, it’s only fair.”

“I don’t steal off your plates!”

“You took her bread in retaliation, dude,” Peter says, quirking a brow. “Like right there. I saw it.”

“In retaliation,” Ned reemphasizes. “As in like, self-defense.”

“Those aren’t the same,” MJ squints.

“They are when it comes to food.”

Peter tilts his head. “They’re...not.”

MJ opens her mouth to add a quip, but finds herself shutting it in a frown when she spots the clock. “Oops.”

“What’s wrong?” Peter says, following her gaze.

“Forgot to make a call,” she grimaces, watching the clock tick. She gets up and pecks his lips, passing him her plate. “I’ll be in the hall, no snooping. It’s a case.”

He pouts. “I don’t snoop.”

She juts a thumb at Ned. “Yeah, that was for Stealing Is Self-Defense over there.”

Hey,” Ned says, but she’s out the door before he can say anything else.


It’s all settled here. Let me know.

“Okay, cool. I’ll get back to you after the trip.”

Breathe, MJ.”

Exhale. “I finished writing it down.”

And?

“...I’m a coward.”

You have some time.

“This should be easier.”

Should it?

“...Ya got me there, Shuri.”

I’m sure he will understand.

“That’s not what I’m afraid of.”

...It will be fine.

“You don’t know that.”

I know several languages and more science than Tony Stark and Bruce Banner combined. I’m the closest you will get to a fully-human Asgardian.

“Ha. Fine. Thanks.”

Rip it like a band-aid, Jones.

Inhale. “I’ll try.”

Click.


(She comes back and they pick up right where they left off: stealing every piece of food from Ned’s plate like the terrible friends they are.

Miles even dares to join in.)


“Hey Miles, yeah—no, not tomorrow—yeah, me and MJ are flying to London. No, not official business, just a vacay. Aight. See ya.”

Click.

“That’s not entirely true,” MJ squints, sitting on her suitcase. “It’s still a business meeting. Sort of.”

“With the Prime Minister, for like twenty minutes, tops,” Peter says, quirking a brow. “We’ll be hanging for a week.”

“Looking forward to the cabbage,” MJ blanks, watching him move from the cabinet to his suitcase, dropping in science shirt after science shirt.

“Anything you wanna do, specifically?”

She smiles slyly.

“...Okay, anything you wanna do that’s out of the norm?” Peter says, ears reddening.

“I was thinking of strolling parks, Pete, why are you red all of a sudden?” she asks evenly, crossing her legs ala The Thinker.

He throws a pillow at her. “I love you very much.”

She blocks it. “Heheheh.”

“Okay, seriously—you have any protests lined up?” he asks, sitting cross-legged on the floor in front of her. He takes her legs, draping them over his.

“Not that week,” she says, leaning back on her suitcase. “Wanna be touristy?”

“Like one of those bus things?”

“Yeah. And museums.”

“Wouldn’t be a trip with you without a museum visit,” he grins, gazing at her with adoration.

Squint. “...Please don’t ask security how I managed to get out of the exhibit without an alarm going off. Again.”

“Once was enough.”

“They thought I stole something.”

My heart, MJ,” he says dramatically, getting up and leaning closer. “You stole my heart.”

“Ah, bought that thing,” she laughs, wrinkling her nose.

He leans on his arm, sitting beside her. “With?”

“Kisses,” she whispers, tilting her head as her eyes flutter shut.

He uses his free hand to pull her by the waist, kissing her slowly. She leans into him, moving her arms to his neck, hanging on.

Ring! Ring! Riiiiiing!

“...What lame, lame timing,” MJ frowns, pulling away.

“We have a week,” Peter reminds her, kissing her nose. “And. Like. Forever.”

“Assuming you don’t die.”

“I like to assume that, yes.”

“That’s fair, I do too,” she says, pecking his lips once more.

Riiiiiing!

Click.

“Peter Parker, Lab Tech. How may I help you?”

Pause.

He stands, going for the notepad by the bed. “Sure, Miles, we can get you a mug.” 

MJ chortles, doubling over. She throws a closed fist over her mouth to keep herself together, watching Peter jot down a souvenir list.

Peter presses his lips into a thin, thin line, sticking a tongue out at her while he waits for a reply.

I love him! MJ mouths, sprawled on the floor and wracked with silent laughter.

Peter rolls his eyes, turning around to focus on the list. “—UK flag, got it. Your parents want anything? Shirts? Okay, what sizes?”


(Turns out London got rain a lot more than they’d remembered, and they settle for sock-sliding, eating, and other such indoor activities for five out of their seven-day stay.)


“Rough day?” Ned asks from the recliner, watching his zombie-eyed friends enter the living room.

(Was he house-sitting today? No.

Did he come over to use their toaster because he’d been too lazy to order a new one/fix his? Possibly.

Did he stay because he saw MJ did, in fact, buy those new Star Wars comics for Peter, and decided to spend the rest of his lazy Friday reading them? Oh, hell yeah.)

“Had to join Shuri in reminding several senators that gun violence mortality rates have dropped significantly in our ‘great country’ because Wakanda reintegrated into global society and sent medical help—not because gun violence is dropping,” MJ sighs, sinking into the couch.

“And Kamala and I had to go as extra bodyguards,” Peter says, grabbing two glasses from one of the cabinets. “Good news: they’re scared enough of Shuri to listen. Bad news: they’re not fond of Kamala when she’s in her normal Ms. Marvel getup.”

“I heard at least one person say the T-word,” MJ says, eyes closed and palms digging at her eyes.

“I’ma fight ‘em,” Ned frowns, glaring. “That’s not right.”

“MJ did,” Peter says simply. Proudly.

“Did you wreck ‘em?” Ned asks, voice entering hype-zone.

“I wrecked ‘em,” MJ nods tiredly.

Peter kneels, gesturing to her like a human spotlight. “Hell yeah, she wrecked ‘em! Das my wife!

MJ smiles, eyes crinkling. “C’mere, Bug-Boy.”

“Whoa, haven’t heard that one in years,” Ned says, turning to stare at her. “Did we just time travel? Quick, do I look 20?”

“You look 14, Ned,” MJ says, flipping him off playfully as Peter plops down beside her, handing her a glass of water. “Mwah,” she exaggerates, kissing his cheek. She keeps an arm around his shoulders, hugging him tightly. “You’re edging off the loser category, you know that?”

“Only took me ten years,” Peter nods, taking it.

Ned blinks. “Oh. You’re right. Ten years.”

“Hmm?”

“We’ve been friends for more than ten years,” Ned explains, blinking again. “Weird.”

“Cool,” MJ corrects.

“You? Yes,” Peter says, resting his head on her shoulder.

“We’re getting old,” Ned chuckles disbelievingly.

“That’s a natural part of life, yes,” MJ snorts.

“I’m glad it’s with you guys,” Ned says, smiling softly. “Growing up with you two has been the best.”

Peter beams. “Same.”

MJ smiles sheepishly, ducking her head. “Yeah.”

“You okay, MJ?” Ned asks, moving to crouch by her feet.

“Yeah, Ned,” she says, raising her head to look him in the eye. “And we’re still gonna eat your food.”

Curse.

“You didn’t really think that would work, right?”

“I have dreams, too, y’know,” he hisses, returning to the recliner. He sits curled up, huddled on his side and blocking them from the view of the comic book.

C’mooon, we love you, man,” Peter coos, releasing MJ to kneel like a Shakespearean actor by his side. “Returneth to us!”

Ned turns briefly to stick his tongue out at them, then resumes The Huddle.

“I got this,” MJ says, chugging the last of her water. She stands, placing the glass resolutely on the coffee table.

Peter hears Ned’s heartbeat quicken and moves to the ceiling.

“Hey, buddy,” MJ says sweetly, moving to sit by the armrest of the recliner. “Remember when we went to the Ren Faire?”

Ned’s lip quivers, but he manages to freeze it in place.

“Y’know, and that jester came up? With the ol’ feather?”

“I was a different person back then,” he says with a low voice, trying to channel any Movie Tough Guy he can think of.

MJ grins, a hand floating by his side. “Are you sure?”

Ned makes the mistake of looking.

She moves to poke him.

OKAY! Okay, I love you guys, too, get that—finger—away—from—me,” he hisses, swatting at it and scampering up to the already fully-leaning seat-back.

“Your level of ticklish is concerning,” MJ squints, hand up to her chin.

“I know your spots,” Ned reminds her, glaring.

“Yes, but at least I have no risk of spilling government secrets.”

Peter snorts from above them.

MJ purses her lips, trying not to crack. “...Babe, I hate you.”

Ned quirks a brow. “Uh—”

Nope, next topic,” MJ says, speed-walking to the kitchen as if she wasn’t just flat-out exhausted on the couch a full minute prior. “You want dinner? I’ll make dinner. Anything you want.”

Ned looks between them, then stares open-mouthed at Peter. “What secret have you unlocked?

“So many, my dude,” Peter says ominously, dropping down. He leans toward his friend. “So, her right shoulder—”

“Peter,I’mgoingtomurderyou,” MJ threatens quickly, eyes at full Crime, I Have Seen It, I Have Done It-mode.

He smiles sweetly, winking at her.

“It’s the beard, isn’t it?” Ned says, looking between them again. “It’s making Pete confident.”

Peter frowns. “Wow, thanks, man.”

“You’re welcome,” Ned says, turning to MJ. “Should we shave it?”

“It’s a blessing and a curse,” she squints.

“So, you’re attached.”

“Dinner?” she asks again, ignoring his smirk in favor of opening the fridge. “We have ingredients for kare-kare.”

“This is one of the greatest days of my life,” Ned blanks, nodding at MJ.

She nods back, taking out an array of foods.

He claps Peter’s shoulder. “You’ve done well, young padawan.”

“Thanks!” Peter grins, throwing an arm around him. “To the counter?”

“To the counter!” Ned says, pointing upwards.


“Kid, you sure everything’s okay?” Tony says, pulling up his welder’s mask.

Peter quirks a brow. “Uh, yeah, why?”

“‘Cause you’ve built and dismantled that thing at least five times in the last ten minutes,” Tony replies, pointing at the tracker.

“Oh. Oops. It’s uh, it’s for Miles.” He puts it down before he starts picking at it again.

“Trouble in paradise?”

“No.”

Squint.

“No, I’m serious, Tony,” Peter says tiredly. “Just—I found some letters.”

Tony gives a low whistle. “Oh, that’s never good.”

“You’ve...gotten letters?”

“Yeah, but I don’t think you’ve been passed out drunk and, to my knowledge, have ever been with anyone but MJ, so people claiming to be your child is out of the question.”

Peter is trying to not look mortified.

He is trying very hard.

“What, too much?” Tony asks, eyebrows raising.

Peter stares at him.

Silent.

Looking like he wants to throw up.

“Too much,” Tony concludes, nodding. “Okay, talk to me kid. We could always talk.”

“You talk to her, though.”

“I know when to keep off other peoples’ business.”

Peter quirks a brow.

“I’ve learned, let’s put it that way.”

“Fair, okay,” Peter says, taking a deep breath.

“Okay,” Tony echoes.

Exhale. “Okay. So I found these letters…”


(Tony sees MJ at their coding meeting that afternoon and says, “You suck at hiding things.”

MJ laughs. “I guess the finished one’s gonna be funnier than intended.”

She goes and beats him at debugging a test virus.

He counters by telling Dum-E to blow straight air at her frizz.)


“Halal Guys!” Peter cheers, for the sixth time.

MJ laughs. “Yes, talking stomach, we are getting Halal Guys.”

Peter fist pumps. Again. “Woo!”

“Did I ever tell you that your food habits are sus?” MJ asks, quirking a brow.

“Yup.”

“Okay. Cool. At least you’re aware,” she says, fixing his beanie.

“At least I eat,” he throws back, still grinning.

“I can’t even argue that today,” she mumbles, her stomach growling against her will.

“Love you.”

“Love you, too.”

She feels Peter’s stare on her and tries to even out her breathing.

“All good, MJ?” he asks.

“All good, Pete,” she lies.

It’s been a busy week.

She’s been procrastinating The Talk.

It’s eating at her a lot.

Peter hugs her from behind, twirling her in the air, much to the annoyance of several businessmen-looking folks who have to move aside.

“You dork,” MJ laughs as he places her back on the ground.

Your dork,” he grins, kissing her, arms around her waist.

GET A ROOM!” someone yells, predictably.

MJ snorts, pulling away. “Mmk, that’s fair.”

“We’ve turned into those gross couples you hated in high school,” he says, intertwining their hands.

“Oh, no. We’re worse. By far.”

“Why’s that?”

“We’re not faking it.”

Does his heart do a little flip?

Does his stomach?

Does he?

Again, to the annoyance of another set of suit-clad fellows, the answer to all three is yes.

“We’re gonna be banned from walking around in public at this rate,” MJ blanks, watching him land back on the sidewalk.

“Who says we aren’t already?”

“Point.”

Growl.

“Was that the maltese?” Peter asks, eyeing the white-furred, coat-wearing animal walking past.

MJ raises her chin. “Nope, that was me—c’mon, it’s the next corner.”


On Thursday, Ned suggests they go around after work to the closest “downtown” area and taste-test every ice cream shoppe—ah, upstate—they can find.

Because winter is for downing frozen foods.

“Hey, what do you like most about me?” MJ asks them while they sit at a back table in so far the largest creamery they’ve found.

“You’re weird and it’s off-putting to almost everyone,” Peter says, pursing his lips.

“Hmm. You managed to make that sound sweet, but I’m not sure if it’s the prepubescent voice or just ‘cause you’re you.”

“I’m Peter Parker, have you not met me?”

“Ah,” MJ says, twirling her ice cream cone slightly as she stares off into the distance. “Yes. Once, under the cover of darkness.”

Ned snorts, almost dropping a piece of his ice cream bar. “I like that you’re insane.”

“I’m being praised so well today,” MJ grins smugly, nudging both of them.

Ned offers her his bar. “Half.”

They trade; Ned chomps away on the remainder of her cone and MJ makes quick work of the last of the bar.

Peter smiles, taking a picture.

“What’s that for?” Ned asks.

“Memories,” Peter shrugs, pocketing his phone. “My turn?”

“Shoot,” Ned says.

MJ nods, a napkin to her lips.

“What’s your favorite platonic memory of me?”

“Easy,” Ned says. “Freshman year, AcaDec tryouts.”

“First meeting, I like it,” Peter says, reaching over. They do their handshake as MJ purses her lips.

“Hmm,” she says, squinting. “Toss up between AcaDec spreadsheet help or our late night talks after finals during junior year.”

“Does that count?” Ned laughs. “You guys were basically flirting.”

“Nah, it was like, future reassurance stuff,” Peter says, shrugging. “Y’know, quarter-life crisis.”

“Your turn, Ned,” MJ says, leaning back in her chair.

Ned taps his chin. “Hmm…” He glances at MJ. “I’ll steal your Q, I think.”

“What do we like most about you?”

“Yeah.”

“Your idea of a chill day is Mario Kart,” MJ says immediately. “With friends.”

“I like to spice things up,” Ned says casually. “Keep ya on your toes.”

“You’re the world’s best hugger,” Peter says, nodding resolutely. “And you’re the best wingman on the planet.”

“Universe,” MJ coughs.

“Oh, yeah, universe,” Peter agrees, asking for a fist bump.

Ned bumps it, saluting them both. “Always a pleasure. My methods have yet to fail.”

“Are we counting Liz as a success?” MJ asks, quirking a brow.

“She said yes to homecoming, it’s a success,” Ned says, chin raised proudly.

“Eh, I’ll give it.”

Peter watches her fondly as she enters a nudge-match with Ned, bellies filled with too much sugar for them to fight the hijinks.

The ice cream reminds him of her birthday.

Of a book.

MJ glances at him, smiling.

He smiles back.


Tony badgers her during lunch on Friday, begging in Peter’s behalf. “Let me give the kid a hint at least. You’re already running slow on the program.”

MJ sips her tea. “I did, this morning.”

(She offhandedly complained about losing her book somewhere in the living room.

Good enough.)

“Was it spelled out in large font? On a tarp? With bright colors?”

Huff. “Give him some credit, man, he’s basically a genius.”

“Protective.”

“Very.”

“Good,” Tony smirks, returning to his wrap. “And quit worrying, that’s my job.”

“Not healthy at your age,” she deadpans, getting up from the table.

“Not he—wow, okay. Okay. I see how it is. Gift someone a house and six years later they bite you in the tush. Alright.”

“Don’t blow an arm off in the lab, Tones,” MJ waves, leaving the common room.

Huff. “Have a good set of meetings, kid.”


(Peter finds the book’s new hiding spot: under the couch.

There’s another letter, but it’s not redacted and it’s finished.

And, of course, The Papers.

He finalizes his list, rushing out of the house in full gear.)


“You’re scared you’ll suck at it,” Ned tells MJ, while they wait in the hall for their next meeting.

She sketches Sharon and Daisy conversing. “It’s different when it’s just visiting.”

“You’re an idiot.”

“Sometimes.”

“C’mon, bring it in,” Ned says, opening his arms.

MJ gives in, closing her sketchbook. “Thanks, nerd-son.”

Snort. “Flashbacks all week long, look at that.”


“Anyone seen MJ?” Peter asks breathlessly, hair mussed from being in the mask.

Shuri’s the only one in the lab.

“Don’t you have the day off, Parker?” she asks, eyebrow raised.

“Yup.”

“Was there an emergency nearby?”

“Nope.”

“Then why—ah.”

“Yeah.”

“She’s in a meeting,” Shuri says, eyes and hands returning to work on the Black Panther helmet in front of her.

“Oh,” Peter breathes.

“She’ll be out in two minutes,” she smirks. “Maybe wait in her office.”

He smiles lopsidedly. “Thanks, Shuri,” he rasps.

“Save the tears for later, Parker—much to be had.”

Sniffle. “Yeah, I guess so. I’ll talk to you later.”

Snort. “Bye, pajama-face,” Shuri says to an empty lab, Peter’s hop-running echoing in the distance.


Peter’s addicted to fighting crime.

He knows this.

Everyone knows this.

So MJ’s reaction of, Who are you and what have you done with my favorite human pillow? to him saying something about retirement was expected, if not welcomed.

“Not yet,” Peter clarifies, hands raised as his wife stares at him like he'd just told her the world was flat. “And not permanently. Just—just less hours, maybe, now that Miles is doing well. In a year or so.”

MJ tilts her head, squinting.

She spots the truth beneath a lopsided smile and shining eyes.

“...You saw the papers?”

Of course you did.

You’re brilliant.

You found them.

“I thought you wanted to wait,” Peter shrugs, smiling softly. “If you still do, it’s not a big deal. I can wait.”

“The kid they call Mayday,” MJ laughs lightly, gaze on his eyes. “You’ve met, remember? She’s four.”

Something in Peter bursts, and it feels like the first day she’d said I love you.

He moves forward, taking her hands and kissing her palms, before holding them at either side of his face.

Something in MJ forgets to function, and she’s back at a day to eighteen, listening to Peter tell her about his dreams and his future.

About getting married, having kids.

Growing old together.

And asking, carefully, fearfully, if she still wanted to be part of it.

If she saw a point in still dating him, knowing that.


“I know you’re the type, loser.”

“And…?”

“And I don’t have any reason to think you’ll be a terrible life partner.”

“Even with the whole—”

“You heard me, Peter.”


Peter’s nose wrinkles as he tries to keep from crying. He holds her, the sunset filling the office with reds, purples, and golds.

It’s surreal, and she holds his face, gentle and shaking slightly.

He kisses her softly, leaving his forehead on hers. His words come out in a whisper:

“I never found out—what’s her real name?”

“Maysa,” MJ breathes, the smile on her lips rising all the way to her eyes. “It means ‘she who walks with confidence’.”


Peter,

 

Don’t freak out.

You’re probably already freaking out, but take a deep breath. Sit down. Maybe drink some tea.

This isn’t bad news.

I’m not leaving you, or anything stupid like that.

I love you, and you’re it—remember that.

 

I know I said I wanted to wait. And I’m stubborn, so that wasn’t going to change, and you know that.

But stuff happened.

So I brought you with me to meet Mayday, that one time. To see if you’d get along.

To see if she’d like you.

Which, expected, but adopting a kid is a big step, so I needed to be sure.

 

(Shuri has most of the paperwork ready—she got it down before I could even ask. Even got the kid transferred to her nearest orphanage right after the accident. I think she might be telepathic, but don’t quote me on that. T’Challa’s screwed.)

 

Anyway.

She adores you, you know that?

She met you once, Pete. Once. And she already asks about you every time I come over to check on her, which, you know, is a lot.

 

I’ve written maybe seventy letters trying to get this out. Written, not typed, because it feels kind of too important.

And because Tony or Ned might hack my computer and forward the file to you, because they think I’m taking too long, so.

Y’know, covering my tracks.

Sort of.

I’ve shredded more than half of those letters, but then you tried to put too many credit cards through the shredder that one time and broke the thing, so I settled for redacting the others manually. Maybe you’ve found them, maybe you haven’t.

(Too bad if not, ‘cause I’m not showing them to you.)

 

So. Back to the point of this thing.

You ready for this?

 

Just kidding. I know you’re not.

Chill, Pete.

Okay?

Ready?

Here goes.

 

This is my formal invite:

 

I would like to adopt—or to try to—that little Egyptian fireball. With you.

Start a family.

Drown in student loans one day, maybe, if she doesn’t go for scholarships.

Drown in crayons on the wall and a helluva lot of paint on weird places, because I know for a fact that she’s a splatter artist.

Stay up late worrying about who she’s hanging out with if/when she gets into her rebellious teenage stage.

Execute grounding punishments that will probably last half as long as intended, because you’re gonna cave.

Birthdays. Vacations. Together.

Maybe some superhero training, if she gets bitten by a radioactive spider.

(Honestly, at this rate, I wouldn’t be surprised.)

But most importantly: sleep in tents in the living room, or the backyard. Build pillow forts. Go out for ice cream. Find out she’s developed lactose intolerance, but still go out for ice cream.

Give her weird, awkward, grown-up advice.

Take her to school.

Pick her up, and bring her home.

Have May babysit, so we can be gross.

(Or Ned. Shuri. Miles.)

Tell her we love her.

Daily. Hourly. Every second we can.

Tell her she matters.

Protect her.

Equip her.

And, my personal favorite (read: greatest fear):

Be there for her.

 

So. If all goes to plan, you’re reading this in front of me, and I can answer any questions about the adoption papers this letter comes with. Or just stuff, in general.

But since you’re you and I’m me, I’m pretty sure the plan got messed up somewhere along the way, and you’re reading this alone.

 

That’s fine.

Come find me.

 

I’ll wait.

 

Love (non-refundable),

MJ

 

Chapter Text

 

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.

“…Fine.”

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.

“Heh.”

“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.”

A beat.

“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!”

(They don’t.)


Dude! Guess what happened today?

“You broke your leg.”

“…How.

“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.

“Dude!”

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.

“Aw, dude!”

“…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.

“Buuuuusted.”

Pause.

“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?

Yup.

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?”

Noneya bizniz.

“Grouchy.”

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.”

Click.


(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.

“Dork.”

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!”

“Sure, objectively.”

And subjectively?”

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.

Heehee.”

“…Laugh it up, see where that gets you.”

“You’re smiling.”

“Am not.”

“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.”

Grin. “Bro?”

“I love you, bro.”

“You aight.”

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.”

“Like Ned.”

“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.

“Hmm?”

“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?”

“Yeah.”

“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.

6:12 PM.

“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 am!”

“I’ll believe it when I see it, Spidey.”

“…Semi-retirement.”

“Uh-huh.”

“…Temporary semi-retirement.”

“There it is,” MJ smirks, pointing at him with her book. “The truth shall set you free.”

Peter pouts.

“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.”

Hey.”

“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.”

“Dark.”

“Me?”

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.”

Chuckle. “Why?”

“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.”

A beat.

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.”

“Details.”

“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.”

“Okay!”

(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.

“Yeah, why?”

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.

“The wills?”

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.”

“Peter’s worse.”

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.

Lighter, too.


(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.”

Pause.

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?”

Peter.”

“Heheh.”

“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.

“PETER.”

“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.

They stand.

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.

And wait.

And wait.

And w—

“Hey, Mayday, you ready?” Shuri’s voice says from behind the closed door.

A beat.

“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?”

Nod.

“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 think:

Yeah.

She is.


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?”

“Mhm.”

“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.

“Just ‘cause?”

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.”

Peter giggles.

“…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.”

“We’re parents.”

“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.

Peter blinks.

Once.

Twice.

He clears his throat. “…Spider-Man?”

“Don’t tell me you won’t tell her,” she says, brow raised. “You’re past that.”

“She’s five.”

“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.

“Yeah.”

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.”

MJ frowns.

“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.

It’s nice.

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.”

MJ facepalms.

“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.

Failing.

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.

Likely both.

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.

Peter nods.

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.

Peter’s crying.

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.”

Maysa blinks.

(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.

“YES!”

“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.

MJ smiles.

(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.

And just.

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.”

Trust. Me.

“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.”

Click.


(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.

“Mama?”

“Yeah, Mayday?”

“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?”

Knock, knock.

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.”

“Uh-huh.”

“Thanks, Dad.”

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?”

“You’re pretty.”

“Thanks—you’re still not hot.”

“MJ.”

“PBJ.”

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.

“Хорошо, Петр.”

“Спасибо, Нат!”

“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!”

Click.


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.

At all.

Ever.

…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.

So.

“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?”

“Yeah!”

“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.

Typical.

“You’re already breaking hearts, Bib,” Peter says, crouching down and squinting at his daughter.

“Cool!”

“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.

A lot.

“‘Really, really hot’?”

“Uh-huh!”

“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.”

“I knuh’.”

“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.

“Heh.”


(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.”

“It’s not!”

“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.”

“Heh. Heheh.”

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.”

Uggghhhhhhh.”

“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.”

Sleep, boy.”

“Man.”

“Boy-Man.”

Ugh.”

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?”

“Dork.”

“Heh.”

“Where’s Ned?”

“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.”

“Yes.”

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.”

“Sounds fair.”

She flips him off.

Maysa turns.

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.”

She grins.

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.

Definitely.


“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?”

“Mr. Thor.”

“Oh.”

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.

Squint.

“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.

“Which station?”

Literally any.

Silence.

Crack!

I know.

“Is that—”

Yup.

“But how—”

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.

“…Fair. But—”

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.”

No prob.

“How’s Cali?”

Not bad.

“Are you visiting…?”

Not…not this time, I think. I’m booked, and…

“It’s okay.”

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.”

“…Deal.”

“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.

“Love you!”

Click.


“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.”

Ugh.”

“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?”

“No.”

Squint.

“Not…completely…”

“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!”

“Let’s!”

(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.

“Aw—”

“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.

But.

It is.

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.

Alive.

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.”

Yes.”

“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.

His.

Hers.

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?”

“Permanently?”

A small, barely-there nod.

“No.”

“No?”

“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 know.”

“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.”

“Ohhh, okay.”

“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?”

Maysa nods.

“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.

Torch passed.)


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?”

“Done.”

MJ turns her attention to the princess. “…Are you taking my five-year-old wall-climbing?”

“Possibly.”

“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.

“Thank you.”

“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.

Being civil.

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.

Slide? Check.

Trampoline? Check.

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?”

Funny.”

“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.”

“Again, hence—”

“—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?”

“Yeah!”

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.

Snort. “Demanding.”

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?”

Nod.

“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.”

“Oh? Interesting.”

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?”

“Yes!”

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?”

Exactly.”

Pause.

Blink.

“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.

MJ facepalms.

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?”

“…And…Auntie Shuri let me use…someone’s shooters…”

Maysa.

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.

“Specific.”

I’m well-traveled.

“Not even gonna ask.”

I promise not to let your little genius shoot webs at my brother.

“And?”

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?”

Nothing close.”

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—”

RIIIIIIIIIING!

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?”

“Hmm?”

“Have I told you that I love you?”

“Mhm.”

“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.”

“You’re welcome.”

“…”

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.”

“Yeah?”

“I always knew.”

“Funny,” MJ smiles, weaving her hand through his. “I did, too.”