Spiderman: Home Is Where The Heart Is
Peter Parker loved New York. It was the greatest city on Earth in his eyes (not that he'd really been anywhere else) but he knew in his heart that New York, would forever be his home, because there was nowhere quite like it. He was really enjoying the view from the Empire State building on what was an unusually quiet night on Patrol.
"Karen, no emergencies in the area?"
"I've not picked up any active crimes or deadly situations in the last seven minutes, since you last asked me Peter."
"Haha ok Karen." Peter replied to his female A.I., "It's a boring night tonight in the city."
"Crime is unusually inactive tonight indeed Peter. One would think you'd be glad about that."
"I am glad." Peter said rolling his eyes. He could never get over Tony Stark programming his A.I. system with so much sarcasm and humour.
"You sound disappointed."
"I'm not. I'm just bored."
"Perhaps you could finish patrol early tonight?" Karen suggested.
Peter looked down at the city, through the optics of his mask. It was tempting to finish his nightly patrol early, given how little action he'd had tonight.
"No, Karen." Peter decided, "With my luck, I’d finish early and there'd probably be an alien invasion while I’m sleeping. I'll finish at 1am like I usually do."
"Understood." Karen said.
"What's the time now Karen?" Peter asked.
"It is 11:16pm. You have one hour and forty-four minutes remaining on your patrol."
"Peter, you have an incoming call from Michelle Jones."
"Oh, accept call." Peter told his A.I., instantly having a smile on his face.
"Hey Loser." Was the greeting he got from his girlfriend.
"Ugh, damn you and your sweet pet names." Michelle hated whenever he called her beautiful or any other name implying affection.
"You literally just called me 'loser'. You call me that daily."
"I know. I also call you a dork and a dweeb daily."
"But I can't call you beautiful?"
"My names for you are different." M.J. told him stubbornly, "They’re not so sappy. Plus, you are a dork, a dweeb and a loser."
"You're dating this loser."
"Don't remind me." She answered but the smile an affection in her voice was obvious, making Peter smile himself.
Peter swung around on the tip of the building to face the opposite direction.
"What are you up to?" Peter asked.
"I'm reading 'Withering Heights' for the 50th time, waiting for my boyfriend to come over."
"I've still got awhile before I’ll be there."
"Who said I was talking about you?" Michelle replied, "Please don't even joke about that." Peter replied, a little too quick to pass off as sarcastic.
MJ laughed, "Finish your patrol and get over here dork. I'm cold without my human heater next to me. I haven't restocked the first-aid kit either so try to come back in one piece, please."
"Don't think you have to worry about that." Peter told her, "It's unusually quiet tonight. Stopped a mugging a few hours ago, but nothing big really. No fires, robberies or anything major tonight. It's like crime has taken the night off."
"Isn't that a good thing?"
"Yea, of course it is." Peter said, rolling his eyes, "It's just different. Now that I patrol the whole city, I’m not used to just helping old ladies cross the street or giving directions. But I appreciate a night like tonight a lot more now." "Yea, me too." MJ replied and Peter could hear the seriousness in her tone. He knew she was glad the night had been uneventful.
MJ and Peter had been dating for four months now. After the whole Mysterio situation in London, their relationship quickly grew strong and serious, as they realised their feelings for each other. It wasn't long after they returned home that Peter began spending every night at Michelle’s apartment, tucked under the covers, his arms wrapped around her. MJ wasn't very close with her parents, so surprisingly to Peter, they didn't care that a boy was with her in her room every night. May, of course knew, but trusted them not to do anything they weren't ready for.
Of course, one of the things about Peter spending every night with Michelle, after his patrol, was that MJ had come to see a lot more of what happens to him out in the city at night. Most nights when he showed up, she had ice packs, first-aid kit and even stitches ready on her desk for him.
After he had come over with a mild concussion one night, (courtesy of a crowbar to the side of his head) she had enrolled in and taken an advanced first-aid course without telling him. He'd been angry about it, but she told him off in true MJ fashion, "Listen dweeb, you're my boyfriend and you're a superhero. Unless you know a hospital that respects masked identity privacy and doesn't wanna use Spiderman as a lab rat, it's best I know how to fix you up when you need it." He had to admit she had a point there.
Peter loved how she was encouraging of him being Spiderman and was so grateful to her for it. He knew she worried about him, but not once had she complained about it and smacked him over the head when he panicked one day, telling her, "This is too much for you. We're done." Her reply was, "If you're not in my bed with me tonight, then I truly must mean nothing to you."
He was in her bed that night and every night since.
"You still their loser?” Her voice brought him out of his thought and back to reality.
"Yea sorry." He said, yawning, “I might actually call it a bit early tonight. Hopefully crime won’t notice if I knock of early.” MJ could hear the worry creeping into his voice as he said that.
“It’ll be fine, Peter.” MJ said, seriously, “You know, even you’re allowed a break once in a while. New York will survive if you take an early mark or even a full night off, you know.”
“It’s my responsibility.” Peter told her, a little defensive, “I'm Spiderman, this city depends on me.”
“I know.” MJ said, and Peter could tell she was rolling her eyes, “I love that you help people and New York loves you for it. I'm just saying, don’t beat yourself up for finishing patrol early tonight. You’re seventeen, you get to live as well. Also, your girlfriend is cold and waiting for you right now, so get over here loser.”
Peter looked out across the city, as bright as ever under the starry night and even from the top of the tallest building in New York, he could hear the sounds of cars driving, beeping their horns, people whistling and waving down taxis, millions of people living their lives, carrying on in the wake of what the world has went through in the last five years and Peter knew MJ was right. The city would be fine.
“I usually am.” MJ said, smugly.
“I'm on my way.” He said, rolling his eyes, “Don’t fall asleep on me.” “When have I ever fell asleep before you got here.” MJ laughed at him, “The windows unlocked. See you when you get here.”
“See you soon. Bye.”
“Karen, any active crimes going on now? Any emergencies at all?”
“Again, no active crimes picked up on my scans, Peter. No emergencies in progress or causes for fear of life. You can continue on to Michelle’s apartment.”
“Great, Karen. Continue scans until we get to MJ’s.” “Of course, Peter.”
Peter through himself of the peak of Empire State, enjoying the feeling of the air rushing through him as he fell before shooting a web out and swinging through the city, between buildings and skyscrapers, above the traffic and lives of the people of New York.
Peter wasn’t far from MJ’s apartment in their neighbourhood of Queens, he was looking forward to holding his girlfriend in his arms again and sleep peacefully once again, like he had every night since he had begun his relationship with MJ. She somehow made everything better.
MJ’s apartment was in his line of sight, as he was swinging, when Karen alerted him, “Peter, you have an incoming call from Pepper Potts-Stark.”
“What?” Peter blurted, without thinking and Karen began to repeat herself, “You have an incoming call from—” “Yea I heard you, Karen.” Peter cut her off, landing on the roof opposite MJ’s apartment.
“Do you wish to answer?”
Peter hesitated. It wasn’t that he didn’t like Pepper, he liked her very much and had gotten to know her and Morgan very well in the months after Tony sacrificed himself to defeat Thanos, saving the entire Universe with a click of his fingers, while knowing there was no way he was going to survive it. Pepper had become like family to Peter, he didn’t know if he would’ve been able to get past Tony’s death without her. She who was grieving for the loss of her husband, the father of her daughter, had been there for Peter while he was grieving for the loss of his mentor.
Morgan had also become like a little sister to Peter. She was so smart and adorable, she loved spending time with him, watching movies and sitting with him whenever he went over to work in Tony’s lab. Peter could tell she was Tony’s daughter and would be helping him build tech in a few years.
However, Peter still felt awkward around them. He felt like he was intruding on them as they were trying to rebuild their own lives after losing Tony, he had no right to share his own grief with them, as they had so much of their own. But Pepper was insistent that she be there for him and there was no way Peter wasn’t going to be there for her and Morgan.
Peter owed Tony that, at the very least.
“Yes, answer call.”
“Hey Pete.” Pepper Potts greeted him, before he had the chance to say anything.
“Hello Mrs Stark…. Uh…. I mean….” Peter fumbled over his words, awkward and dorky as ever.
“How many times have I told you to call me Pepper?”
“Right…. Sorry…. Hey Pepper.”
“One day you’ll have to get used to calling me by my first name.” Pepper told him, and Peter could tell she was rolling her eyes. “One day.” He replied, smiling.
“I would say sorry for calling you so late, but we both know you’re out on patrol right now, aren’t you?”
“I was actually just about to finish.” Peter said, sitting down on the edge of the building, looking across to the fire escape and window of MJ’s bedroom, “MJ convinced me to finish patrol early tonight. I'm a hell of a superhero, aren’t I?”
“You should be ashamed of yourself.” Pepper laughed, “No, really that’s good, you deserve an early night once in a while. Really, you deserve to be a normal kid and not have worry about putting on a multi-million-dollar suit, going out to fight crime. But there’s no point in me trying to convince you not to be Spiderman again is there?”
“Nah, sorry, it’s who I am.” Peter laughed, nervous. Pepper had tried repeatedly to convince him to not be Spiderman and just be a normal kid, but he couldn’t give it up. His Uncle Ben had told him, ‘With great power, comes great responsibility.’ The Spider bite had given him the power, he had to uphold the responsibility of it. When he’d explained it to MJ, she had told him, ‘You have an unhealthy hero-complex, loser.’
“You sound like Tony.” Pepper said, “He’d be proud of you and what you’ve been doing.”
“Me and Morgan are on our way to New York.” Pepper told him, and that made Peter notice the eerie sound in the background, and he guessed that they were on a plane right now.
“We’re gonna be staying at the compound for a while, now that’s it’s fully rebuilt. I wanted to see if you could come around for dinner tomorrow night?”
“Oh,” Peter said, surprised, “Um, yea sure, I'd love to. I’ll swing up there after school.”
“You should bring MJ.”
“Oh, um…. Peter hesitated. Since he and MJ had started dating after everything happened in London, he hadn’t gotten the chance to introduce MJ to Pepper and Morgan, as they had moved back to Malibu before his Europe ‘vacation’. He was suddenly nervous about it.
“Oh, come on Pete, I wanna meet the girl who could convince her superhero boyfriend to finish his patrol early. Maybe she could teach me what I was doing wrong every time I tried to talk Tony out of putting on the suit and running off into the fight.”
Peter laughed nervously, “I’ll ask her if she wants to come. I'm sure she will.”
“Great!” Pepper said, “I’ll talk to you tomorrow, I’ll see if Happy can pick you two up and bring you here after school. I'm not gonna make that poor girl swing with you all the way across the city.”
“That’s probably a good idea.” Peter laughed, “She doesn’t like swinging with me.”
“I don’t blame her.” Pepper laughed, “I’ll let you get home to bed now. I’ll see you tomorrow.”
“Okay. See you tomorrow.”
“Karen, please tell me there’s still nothing on our scans?” He asked his A.I., looking across to the window of MJ’s bedroom, dimly lit behind the curtain.
“No criminal or dangerous activity requiring your presence, Peter. You can move on to Michelle’s apartment.”
“Great. Goodnight Karen.”
Michelle Jones couldn’t believe how messed up she was right now. There was something seriously wrong with her and she couldn’t believe she had let herself become like this.
Months ago, everything was fine. She was fine. Michelle was generally a loner, who’s brutal honesty and sarcastic remarks made very few people like her, which she honestly didn’t care about. Michelle had been a loner for most of her life, having very few people who she’d call friends and that never bothered her. She was never close with her parents as they were as apathetic as anyone could possibly get. Michelle was used to being alone.
Until of course she became friends with the two biggest dorks she’d ever met. Michelle became friends with Peter and Ned during their sophomore year of high school, which for Michelle was only last year but with the so called ‘blip was actually about six years ago. ‘Fucking psychotic aliens screwing up my timeline.’ Michelle thought.
It was actually great to be friends with the two dweebs. She got to enjoy their nerdiest and most awkward conversations, make endless fun of them at their movie nights and internally laugh as they tried to keep the huge secret of Peter Parker being the ‘friendly neighbourhood’ Spiderman. She honestly didn’t get how she was the only one to figure that out, even if she was only 67% sure at the time.
Michelle could also deal with the feelings she had for Peter Parker when they were just friends. She could deal with the butterflies she got in her stomach whenever he was around, worrying about him getting hurt every night, how cute he was when he completely screwed up trying to sit next to her on the plane to Europe and the life threatening situations they had been in in London because of a fish bowl wearing psychopath.
She could deal with all that.
Michelle was really struggling to deal with her feelings for Peter, now they were together.
Since she had confessed, she liked Peter on that bridge in London, where he told her he liked her too, and they had started dating, Michelle’s feelings for Peter had only grown. Michelle had been internally freaking out for a while now, over how strong those feelings had become in the months they’d been together.
Michelle knew she and Peter became serious very quickly. Within weeks after they started dating, Peter was sleeping in her bed, every night with his arms wrapped around her and now she struggled to sleep without him with her. His Aunt trusted them alone together at night. She practically lived at their apartment every weekend, her fingers were intertwined with his whenever they were walking the halls at school. His arm was always wrapped around her as she read at lunch, while they were sitting with Ned and Betty and she treated whatever injuries he came back to her apartment with every night.
‘This guy has turned me into a complete sap.’ Michelle thought, biting her lip, frustrated and unable to focus on reading ‘Withering Height’s’ for the hundredth time. She sat up on her bed and locked at the clock that now read 12:22am. ‘Great, I finally convince him to finish patrol early for one night and he gets stopped on the way here. Fucking hero-complex.’
As soon as Michelle finished that thought, she heard a knock on her window at the end of her bed. “You better not be fucking bleeding, Parker.” She whispered to herself, as she unlocked her window and pulled it up to see her boyfriend smiling at her, mask already off, no injuries on that she could see.
“I'm not bleeding, MJ. I'm actually not hurt at all, no action tonight, whatsoever.”
“Took the mask off a bit early, loser. Someone could see you.”
“I should probably get inside than. I need to ask you something.”
“Yes, you’re an idiot. No, I don’t know why I'm dating you.”
“I know why but that doesn’t matter, right now. Can I come in please?”
MJ rolled her eyes, moving away from her window so Peter could climb in.
“So, what trouble did you find on the way here?” Michelle asked, folding her arms in front of her chest, “It took you a while to swing here.”
“Didn’t run into any trouble at all, just got a phone call before I got here.” Peter told her, pressing the Spider symbol on his chest, his suit deflating and falling to the ground like a blanket.
“Could you please start giving me a warning before you take the suit off please?” Michelle gasped, biting her lip and letting her arms fall to her sides, “It’s hard for me not to stare at your abs, you know.”
Peter smirked, “I know, that’s why I do it.” He reached for her hands and pulled her towards him, catching her in a kiss. It was passionate and slow, MJ letting go of his hand and wrapping them around his neck holding him close. Peter’s hands went to MJ’s waist, before she pulled away for air.
“You…. Need to finish patrol early more often.” She gasped running her hand down his chest. Peter smiled, “Definitely.” He kissed her again, before letting her go and stepping back. MJ composed herself before grabbing his clothes off her desk chair and throwing them at him.
“What’d you want to ask me, dork?” MJ asked, sitting back on her bed, watching Peter pull on pair sweatpants and t shirt.
“Uh…. Do you…. wanna have dinner tomorrow night?” Peter asked, suddenly nervous.
“Sure, as long as May’s not cooking.” MJ smiled, “I love that woman but I don’t think I can survive her chicken dumplings again.”
Peter laughed, sitting next to MJ on the bed, “Don’t worry, your safe there. It’ll probably be a world class chef cooking tomorrow night, knowing Pepper.”
“Mrs Stark…. Pepper…. She called me before I got here. She and Morgan are on their way to New York and she invited us over to the compound for dinner tomorrow night.” He explained, “They wanna meet you.”
Peter watched as MJ’s expression went from confused, to surprised and finally to nervous. It wasn’t an expression that he got to see often from MJ, she was always so strong and confident. He started to feel amused as MJ got of the bed and started nervously pacing but kept his face neutral when she began to glare at him.
“Tell me you said I couldn’t go.” MJ exclaimed, “You told her I wasn’t going to be able to come right?”
Peter gulps and runs his fingers through his hair, “Well, no, I told her you should be able to come---”
“---and that I would ask you.”
MJ balled her fists up and began pacing again. Her boyfriend could be so dense, he couldn’t just know her and how she would react to this. MJ was nervous when she had to meet his Aunt but she knew there was no way around that one. She had never even thought meeting Pepper and Morgan, in her Peter-relationship induced happiness, it hadn’t crossed her mind once, not even when Peter had told her about them.
Peter rubbed the back of his neck, self-consciously, “You don’t have to come, if you don’t want to MJ.”
MJ stood still and looked back at him. He spoke softly, she knew he was meant it to be a comfort but she could hear the slight disappointment in his voice and that made her annoyance disappear.
“Sorry.” She blurted out. ‘Really, that’s the best you got, Michelle’ She thought to herself.
“THE Pepper Potts-Stark invited me to her have dinner with her? Sorry, I just never thought that would happen.”
“You don’t have to come MJ.”
MJ appreciated him. She loved how considerate he was, offering the out of the awkward situation she found herself in. She was tempted to take it but looking at him and the cute, puppy dog eyes he didn’t realises he was giving her, she decided not to take it. As nervous as she was, it was important to Peter, so it was important to her.
Peter stood up, surprised, “Are you sure? If you don’t want to---”
“I want to.” MJ cut him off, placing her hands on his neck “They’re family to you and I want to meet them. It’s just a bit intimidating, the idea of meeting THE Pepper Potts. She’s so inspirational, a woman who started off as an executive assistant and became the CEO of a multi-national company. She’s such a philanthropist, helping basically rebuild the world after the blip and fighting for the rights of women everywhere. She’s leading the fight against reintroducing the Sokovia accords—”
“Woah, woah there, fangirl,” Peter cut her off, wrapping his arms around her waist, “You’re rambling like me right now.”
MJ leaned down and kissed him, passionately. It was so slow and loving and she hoped she hoped she was conveying all the feelings she had for him, all the passion and happiness that their relationship had brought her in the months they had been together and the realisation she had come to tonight, what she wasn’t ready to say and what he probably wasn’t ready to hear yet either.
Peter pulled away, his eyes closed and leaned his forehead on MJ’s, “We should get some sleep. You’re gonna need it if you’re gonna fangirl all over Pepper at dinner tomorrow night.”
“Shut up, loser.” MJ laughed, pushing him away from her, “Get the light.”
MJ turned around and climbed under the cover of her bed, putting ‘Withering Height’s’ on her bedside table, before settling down on her side. The light flicked off and Peter slid under the covers and wrapped his arms around her, nuzzling the back of her neck through her locks.
“Night loser.” She replied, snuggling back into him, feeling warm and safe. She was nervous about tomorrow and all that it could possibly bring but Peter was with her now and she felt like they could get through it all as long as they were together.