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Coffee and Consolation

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A way to explain this is—

Fuck it. There’s no good way to explain it. Especially with his hands reaching, groping, clinging like she’s the last thing anchoring him here, like she’s the last reminder that everything’s real. And his breath is coming out fast, gets caught in his throat and it feels like his chest is being constricted. The air is cold from her box fan whirling at high speed, but it’s also thick and congested with lornful wishes and confessions whispered into bedsheets.

A memory flickers of the past few hours ago: of him and everything going wrong—of his timing off just a little too soon, his reflexes acting a millisecond too late, and Peter—he regrets it. It had been something that was supposed to be minimal—a simple night patrol that went really wrong, really quickly. It involved masked robbers, a loaded gun, and a hold-up. Luckily no person waskilled, but there was a dog that wouldn’t be walking again and a woman with a grazed bullet wound had unknowingly been pregnant. He finds out later on the nightly news that five people were killed once he left the scene, one perpetrator still hidden among the crowd. And Peter had beat himself up about it.

Though that had been seven months ago, the memory along with others similar haunt him until he’s standing at Michelle’s front door. He tries to give an explanation, mouth opening and words escaping still. She welcomes him with open arms.

That too, had been three days ago. Peter had come in a moment of weakness, he knows. He should continue his distance, lest her life becomes the next that’s purposely threatened.

There’s a sharp, quick pain on the soft tissue of his ear that makes the memory flee. It’s autumn. The weather never one he’s ever particularly favored.

She sighs, wrapped in the bedsheets along with him. He squeezes his eyes shut as she kisses him softly and comforting. She’s still murmuring reassurances, tells that everything is going to be alright, her fingers in his hair; her full lips flutter across his as she sighs praises, repeats that her house is a safe place, that he’s a good man.

Three weeks ago, a child had nearly been squashed by Rhino in front of Peter.

His bottom lip quivers against Michelle’s. She kisses his cheek. They fall asleep wrapped in each other’s arms, the covers pulled up to their chin.

Peter wakes up feeling good.

It’s early, the warm autumn orange and gold of the sun rays peeking through he window blinds. His head aches a little, and the burning in his eyes have subsided; a faint echo of pain throbs through his muscles, but he has energy, so much of it. His head is clear, his hair is a mess, and he squints as he sits up to survey the room. He’s only in his boxers and the sheets beside him are rumpled, cold, empty.

Of course they are.

The girl who had been in bed with him, left him the comfort of an abandoned space. It’s a bitter thought that’s more cynicism than something he believes.

He trudges to her bathroom and finds his toothbrush in the ceramic cup beside the sink—it’s an adult Spider-Man embroidered toothbrush she bought for him as a joke; hers is a plain purple, hard bristled. Swooping curls fall in front of his eyes and he contemplates whether the pay for a barber’s cut is worth it as he returns to the empty bed to curl up with a lone pillow. The door swings open suddenly. The remnants of her lipstick has been smeared across the rim of her paper coffee cup, her knitted sweater oversized no longer pass for a dress around her widened hips. (A result from a slow metabolism and accessible food in college.) She’d gone to the small coffee shop downstairs, she tells, handing him a cup, and she untucks a loose lock of hair for her bra strap. She’d ordered him a French mocha, herself a hot chocolate with two shots of espresso. She questions about the wide-eyed are he’s giving, informs that his clothes should be done in the dryer in the next forty-five minutes.

Then, she’s running a hand through his hair, asks him if he’s ok today.

He nods, enjoying her nails dragging down to the nape of his neck and back up again. Michelle agrees with his answer. And then she’s sitting across his legs and kissing his forehead, her cup left on a dresser. Peter’s is abandoned as well before she sits.

His eyes are squeezed shut, tight, as if he’s straining. “MJ, I—”

“If you say I’m too fat I will kick you.” It’s a joke, knowing he would never, but then it’s not quite.

Peter chuckles and assures that he hadn’t been going to say that. Instead, he thanks her for allowing him to stay over.

“Of course.” Her fingers run across his scalp. She adjusts so she’s sitting backwards in his lap, facing him. “Just...don’t think I’m going to settle seeing you only when you’re stressed the hell out. You’re mine first, don’t forget that.” She’s staring so intently in his eyes that he almost doesn’t want to believe anything else.

“MJ, you know I can't—”

“Mine,” she insists. Wraps her arms around him, careful to avoid the dressed wounds across his upper chest, rests her head on his shoulder. The loose hairs from her sleepy bun tickles his face. “You’re mine first, Parker. No exceptions. No excuses.”

They’ve had this discussion before and neither wants to repeat it during this nice morning. So, he decides to lie, if just for today. He lies and says that he is hers. This lie is spoken between haste, desperate kisses. It’s whispered as as a binding contract from her lips pressed against his. He whispers it as an agreement as her long, model legs wrap around him, her arms pulling him closer, and she inquires, “then show me.”

And then that lie is repeated more over—as lips press and slide, searching across skin and pulling, biting, wrenching out tiny gasps and tantalizing moans. And then she’s lying across her faded dark blue bed sheets as he mouths over her skin he exposes with each removal of her clothes; it’s mumbled into her collar bone, leaving behind loving, redding ellipses in her brown skin; it’s hummed across the mounds of her breasts, down her stomach, kissed down her thighs and calves. It’s in the harsh grabbing, the fingertip bruises he leaves in her hips and thighs and ass from force; of how desperately close he’s pulled against her as if it would prevent him from eventually leaving; it’s in the way they gasp each other’s name, and him pulling her hips closer, keeping her there, and her arching spine. It’s in the comforting restriction of her legs around his waist and the way she embraces him so fully and completely.

Michelle’s hugged to him in his lap, the soft brushing of her sheets and creaking of her bed the only sound besides them and the city ambience. Outside, a man loses his pen down a rain gutter, a cat cries, and a trashcan topples.

Inside, Peter lies, his handprints leaving promises that he wouldn’t fill and would be the only evidence by tomorrow. Peter lies, and though Michelle doesn’t believe him, she allows herself to for today.