MJ doesn’t notice for a while. Her razor sharp observational skills have always had a slight blind spot when it comes to herself. Her period’s never been regular and New York is still basically a recovering rubble heap so, yeah, there are more important things to worry about.
She rationalizes that no matter what happens in the movies no one really gets pregnant the first time. And they were dumb, for a minute, desperate to be close, right after Peter got back from a battle in outer space that MJ still can't quite believe actually happened. She still can't quite believe that they actually happened-all clumsy hands and pure adrenaline-how in that moment she wanted Peter and he wanted her, needed her, too.
But she got Plan B and so they should be fine. Peter even paid for half of it.
Peter worries about it on and off for weeks but then figures if Michelle’s not freaking out he shouldn’t and he goes all the way to Brooklyn to buy condoms for next time, if there ever is a next time. The next couple of times he's around MJ he doesn't know how she can be so calm while he's over here trying to remember what normal people do with their hands. Sometimes when she's especially close his brain just sort of short circuits and his face heats up when he remembers he knows what it feels like inside her.
But they start hanging out more, with and without Ned. Peter's able to get a handle on his total creep-ness for MJ, so he's killin' it, he thinks.
Life starts to fall into a normal routine. Movie nights where MJ gets to call Ned and Peter losers but never forgets to bring cheap pizza or boxes of shitty tacos. The boys will stop by and keep her company in detention and draw awful stick figures they claim represent people, desks, and office supplies ‘in crisis’.
The whole Decathlon Team goes to Homecoming as a giant date-conglomerate. MJ drops off Betty and Hakeem on the way home and pulls the car over on a quiet side street.
“My place is just a couple blocks more west, if you take a right at the Wendy’s--”
“You don’t have a curfew, right?”
“Not really, not anymore.”
“Then, do you want to?” she raises her eyebrows.
“Yes. Yeah. Yes. Absolutely.” he says and bangs his head crawling into the backseat. He's been thinking about this ever since the first time. She snorts and rolls her eyes and walks out of the driver’s side to join him.
He pushes her tuxedo jacket back off of her shoulders as she kisses him silly and unbuttons his pants. She fumbles with her heels and her pants and he fumbles and drops the condom twice. He finally rolls it on and as MJ eases down onto him she thinks she finally really understands what all the fuss is about with sex.
Peter comes home with some of MJ’s lipstick still smeared on his cheek and Aunt May teases him about it for days.
Peter spends way too much time at school selecting the cutest pictures of baby animals to text her during the day, and he’s delighted in a way that baffles Ned when she sends back pictures of Things Full of Beans That Should Not Be Full of Beans and poems she’s written based on Craigslist missed connections.
Sometimes MJ decides she wants to play along with Spider-Man when Peter’s out patrolling. Peter privately thinks she’s a better Man-in-Chair than Ned is. She’s more strategic and less concerned with Peter looking badass in action, though Ned is definitely more dedicated to the job.
Peter takes MJ to the diner on 21st St. that Aunt May loves in a sort-of date. He introduces her to cannoli cheesecake, which she declares an insult to cheesecake and eats two pieces of anyway. Peter slips his hand into MJ’s on the walk home.
The day after Halloween they’re lounging on MJ’s bed in her parent’s newly restored 3-bedroom apartment. Peter’s resting his head in her lap and eating bag after bag of fun-size M&Ms and MJ keeps noticing him twitch like he’s listening for something.
“Parker, c’mon, what is it?” she says around a mouthful of Laffy Taffy “Are the petty criminals of Queens finally calling out for justice?”
“No,” he says “But can you hear that?”
“Hear what?” she unwraps a Tootsie Pop.
“I keep hearing this little thump-y sound. I could swear you have an alternate pulse or second heartbeat or something, it’s super weird. But it’s probably just farts. You’ve got weird sounding farts.” he says with a giggle and stretches over her legs to grab a left Twix.
“Shut up.” she says. She’s stuck on the phrase ‘second heartbeat’ and she counts back days and weeks in her head and curses Peter’s spidey-whatever and curses herself.
“You need to go. I’ve been meaning to, um, devise a protest theatre piece that represents the absence of human connection in the age of social media. And I’ve just...been inspired.” which is an excuse she’s sure isn’t good enough considering how much time she and Peter have spent discussing the social neutrality of technological interfaces, but he goes anyway and makes her promise to perform it for him at lunch on Friday.
As soon as she’s sure Peter’s out of the building, MJ starts to google. She looks up failure rates on Plan B. She looks up when fetal heartbeats are developed and swears out loud. She thinks it’s just not possible, he can’t possibly have heard, that’s insane. But Peter can crawl up walls, and stop buses with his bare hands, and that’s also insane. Shit. Fuck. She tries to think if she feels nauseous or bloated or maybe had a period she can’t remember. She looks up information about abortions, just in case. She has time to decide. If. She’s too young. Peter’s too young.
She’s just not the kind of girl who has a baby at 17. She might not be the kind of girl who has a baby ever. But yet. Here she is. She erases her search history and runs through what she would tell Peter and prays this is just a case of moderate to severe paranoia.
She should take a test, first she thinks. To be sure. She heads to the Duane Reed on the corner and as she’s cashing out in comes Flash.
“Michelle! Hey girl. Fancy running into you here.” Flash says as he swaggers up to lean on the display of gum and women’s magazines by the counter.
He sees what she’s buying and almost knocks the display over.“Oh my god, Michelle, is that a pregnancy test?” Flash whispers.
“Is it?” she says as she hands over a ten and walks out with waiting for change.
Peter finds out. Tony's in for a surprise.
(See the end of the chapter for notes.)
At Decathalon practice the next day, Flash is casting pointed looks at MJ and consequently Peter is casting pointed looks at Flash and MJ is pointedly not looking at anybody.
She’s firing off questions in a sudden death round and then when it’s down to Sally and Hakeem she abruptly hands over the her flashcards to Mr. Harrington and starts to walk out of the library.
“I gotta pee.” she says.
Peter watches as Flash says “uh, me too” and shuffles out of the library following MJ.
Mr. Harrington declares they might as well all take a ‘brain and bladder break’ and to be back in five. Peter steps out into the hallway just in time to see MJ whip around.
“I don’t know what you think you saw yesterday, but it’s none of your business” she hisses right into Flash’s face.
Flash takes a step back, and with a deep breath and smirk he says loud enough for the whole hallway to hear “I’m just curious, MJ, who’s the father?” and MJ slaps him in the face and turns on her heel and leaves without another word.
Peter’s head is ringing. He vaguely hears Ned whisper-gasp “What the fuck?!” but his mind just repeats “Who’s the father?” in Flash’s mocking tone over and over.
“Ned.” he says “We gotta get out of here.”
“Did you see that? MJ just bitch slapped Flash! That was insane!”
“Yeah, yeah, I saw it.” Peter says distractedly.
“Ned, listen” he grabs Ned’s shirt and yanks him in a little closer, his heart starting to pound furiously, and whispers “I think I’m the father. I think. MJ’s pregnant. Holy shit. I think, I think—“ and then he turns and vomits onto the floor of the school hallway.
Mr. Harrington calls off the rest of practice, mumbles something about brushing up on chemical classifications for next week and Ned takes Peter to the bathroom to wash the rest of the sick out his mouth.
“Dude! What was that about? Are you losing your mind? Is it a side effect of going to space? Like what just happened?!” Ned asks.
“Ned.” Peter tries again. “I think I might be the, the, father. Of MJ’s—“ and he barfs again, just bile coming up this time.
“Pete. Peter. If MJ is, um, preggo, like for real, why would you think you had anything to do with it? You know you do actually have to have sex with someone to get them pregnant, not just fantasize about it.”
“Um, well, see the thing is—“ Peter starts.
“No, you didn’t. You would’ve told me.” Ned says.
Peter just looks him and sort of pathetically half-shrugs.
“You lost your virginity and you didn’t even say anything?! Dude! I thought we were best friends!” Ned is more than a little hurt. Keeping Spiderman a secret was one thing, but this is, this is another.
“We are best friends.”
“Then tell me.”
“Tell you what?”
“Everything! Obviously.” Ned has a million questions.
Peter nods. “Okay.”
When they make it back to the library, Peter realizes MJ left her backpack behind and he takes it with him to Ned’s.
Ned starts to ask questions. “Do you know for sure? 100% that MJ’s officially with spawn?”
“Could you please not call it that? That sounds disgusting.”
“Maybe it’s an elaborate prank on Flash. Maybe this is MJ’s plan to get the school to update those ancient Captain America Sex Ed. videos. I mean, that would be just like her, right?”
“Yeah, I guess” Peter swallows hard.
“Maybe she’s faking because she knows you’re Spider-Man?”
“That doesn’t even make sense.”
Ned continues: “Will you have to quit being Spider-Man?”and “Will you have to get a job?” and “Do you think the baby will like Legos? Wait, no, Legos are a choking hazard, aren’t they?” and now none of these questions make Peter feel any better at all.
Ned finally suggests they take his mind off it but somehow even playing Civ. VI doesn’t help.
He leaves and wanders aimlessly for blocks and blocks, headphones in but he’s forgotten to put on music, when he hears a scream for help. He jumps into an alleyway, webs up his backpack and MJ’s and changes into Spider-Man. This is something he can do something about. This is something he knows. Something he can help.
He patrols out late into the night—stopping one car-jacking, breaking up two drug deals, and helping a very drunk frat boy with the keys to his own front door.
Said frat boy rewards him by insisting he take the rest of his bottle of Duggan’s Dry Gin “’s for you, Spider-Man, you’re saving my life right now man, you’re a hero, bro.”
Tony’s up late tinkering when FRIDAY alerts him to an incoming call being patched through from Happy. It turns out to be from a frantic May Parker who says: “Peter didn’t come home after school and hasn’t checked in and isn’t answering his phone and is there any chance he’s with you? He’s not with Ned, and Ned definitely sounded like he was hiding something.”
That puts Tony on high alert and he suits up to go find whatever disaster the kid has gotten himself into now.
Tony finds Peter sitting on the roof of the Jamaica Chamber of Commerce, mask off, with a bottle of something that smells cheap, even from inside the suit.
“Kid.” He says and his voice startles Peter.
“Mr. Stark! What’re, what, what’re you doing here?” he says.
“Are you drunk?”
“Maybe. I don’t know. I’m trying. It does not taste good.” Peter says, hanging his head.
“Look, Underoos. It’s late and I’m not your damn guidance counselor, so you want to tell me why you’re trying to get drunk, under age, on a school night?”
“Not really, no.” Peter says.
“Tough luck. Hand that over. Start talking.” Tony says, stepping out of the suit and staring Peter down.
After an excruciating two minutes of silence, Peter says “Well, you see Mr. Stark, there’s this girl.”
“And what, she didn’t ask you to the Sadie Hawkins?” Tony says.
“She’s pregnant.” Tony is speechless.
“At least, I think she’s pregnant. She’s probably pregnant. I had sex with her. I had sex with her, and now she’s pregnant. Probably. Almost for sure probably. Fuck.”
“Fuck is right. FRIDAY, call May Parker.”
“Please, Mr. Stark, please don’t call Aunt May-”
“Hi, May? It’s Tony. Yeah, I found him. He’s fine. He’s drunk. I know, I’m as surprised as you are. Yeah, well, how about you kill him in the morning? I’ll take him back to HQ to sleep it off. Yeah, yeah. Buh-bye.” He hangs up and looks at Peter.
“Pregnant? You’re sixteen. What the hell were you thinking?”
“Yeah, that’s the important thing here. I thought you were better than this.”
“I know.” Tony sighs and rubs a hand over his face “But not for sure?”
“No.” Peter says.
“Figure it out. And drink some water. You smell like a fucking distillery.” And he steps back into the suit and flies all the way back upstate and wonders what it is about Peter that makes him sound so much like his own Dad.
When he gets home, Pepper is waiting in a soft pink pajama jumpsuit with the kettle on the stove and her laptop open on the counter.
“How’s the Spiderling? Is he okay?” she asks, glancing up from the laptop.
“He’s in trouble. I just don’t know how much yet.”
“Yeah, Pepp. That bad. He got some girl pregnant.”
“Well, he thinks he got some girl pregnant. He told me he got some girl pregnant. He doesn’t know for sure.” Tony leans his forearms on the counter. “He’s supposed to be smart kid! Not having a, a, prom night dumpster baby.”
“Every time I think he’s learned a shred of responsibility-a shred-he goes and does something and blows it all to hell. He screwed it up this time. He screwed it up and if the thinks he’s ever going to be part of the Team again he’s got another thing com-”
“Tony.” Pepper says. “Smart. Doesn’t mean perfect. And it’s not like you’ve never had a scare.”
“That was different.” he says.
Pepper just levels her grey eyes at him.
“We were adults.”
“All the more reason.” She sighs. “He’s a tough kid, Tony. He’ll figure it out.”
Idk, I just feel like Peter would be a nervous barfer.
6:30 the next morning:
Peter climbs up to window on the fire escape and stands there like an idiot holding MJ's bag. He worries that maybe he should have just rung the buzzer like a normal, non-super person.
MJ knocks from inside the door before cracking it open and Peter jumps three feet in the air.
“Hey, loser. What do you want?”
“I um, I brought your backpack. You left it at school yesterday. After the, the thing with Flash. After Decathlon.”
“I remember.” She waits for a beat. “So, you wanna hand me my backpack or…?”
“Oh. Oh. yeah. Sure.” Peter passes her her backpack.
“You look like shit, Peter.”
“And you smell like a Ricola dissolved in Lysol.”
“I didn’t sleep much. I tried alcohol.”
She mimes finger guns “That explains it.”
“Um...MJ?” he asks, just as she’s turning back inside. “Yesterday...what I heard, what Flash said, I mean I thought..” he swallows hard “Are you…”
“I don’t know. Maybe.” she steps out and closes the door.
“You don’t know?” Peter says as she slides down to sit along the wall.
“I don’t know. I have a test, I just...haven’t taken it yet.” he sits down next to her and they look out as the sun rises over the city and the sanitation trucks slowly roll down the block.
“Maybe you should.”
“Maybe I should.”
They both cut school. Peter leaves a voicemail on Aunt May’s phone saying his phone is out of battery but Happy’s taking him straight to school. MJ sends Peter to go get them bagels and coffee while she waits for her parents to leave for work. “Coffee? Isn’t that bad for-” Peter asks.
“It might be nothing. So yes, coffee.” she replies.
Peter comes back up through the fire escape when they’re gone. MJ all but shoves him into the shower, because vigilantism-plus-gin is not a good scent on a teenage boy. She makes Peter promise the curtain is extra closed and she pees on the stick, and accidentally a little bit on her hand, and then she’s pacing back and forth in the steam as they wait.
For being two nationally ranked geniuses, neither of them can tell if the home test is negative or positive. They make an appointment online and hike over to the Planned Parenthood off the Court Square Metro because Peter doesn’t think he can go any longer without knowing.
MJ fills out paperwork with shaking hands and then the nurse, a tall woman whose name tag says ‘Dia’, calls MJ in and lets Peter come with her.
“Date of last menstrual period?”
MJ’s loathe to reveal this much about herself to a stranger. “August, I think. Maybe the 6th or so. For sure.”
“When did you become sexually active?”
Peter blushes scarlet from the tips of his ears to his chest, and MJ answers “August.”
The nurse has MJ go pee in a cup and she gets pee on her hand again, damnit. Peter is left alone with an army of pamphlets. She comes back in not long after MJ. She asks if MJ’s sure she’s sure she’s comfortable with Peter being present for the results of the test.
“Of course of I’m sure. If I didn’t want him here he wouldn’t be here.” she snaps.
“All right. Your test came back positive. You are pregnant, Miss Jones. Based on the last date of your menstrual period, you’re probably pretty close to 10 or 11 weeks along. That’s a little later than normal to be finding out, but not unheard of. You said you haven’t been noticing any symptoms? No nausea, breast tenderness, unusual tiredness?”
Peter turns even redder, if that’s possible. “No.” MJ answers.
“No? Lucky girl.” says the nurse.
“Lucky? There is nothing ‘lucky’ about this. At. All.” MJ says with murder in her eyes.
“So, I’d be happy to talk to you a little bit more about all of your options...” she says and Peter’s stopped listening. He thinks his heart has stopped beating.
Dia offers pamphlets and recommendations for OB-GYNs and prenatal vitamins and abortion counseling and adoption websites and Teen Success Parenting Groups, but MJ fumes about being condescended to and it’s all Peter can do to try and get them out quickly.
MJ and Peter head back to his apartment in silence.
MJ settles on the couch and Peter makes them grilled cheese sandwiches. She swears she can hear him thinking from all the way across the room and she decides she’ll just say it.
“Pete.” She says over the back of the couch. “Three options. What’s your vote?”
Peter stumbles with the plates in his hands. “I’ll, um, support whatever decision you-”
MJ rolls her eyes. “I’m asking for your opinion. Not a platitude.”
He nods and looks at her with bloodshot eyes. “I don’t know if I’d be okay. If we didn’t keep it. I don’t know if I’d be okay if we keep but, I don’t know that I can know, now and it’s real and - I just, I’ve spent so much time being Spider-Man and trying to help people, trying to keep people alive and, and, my parents are dead, MJ.”
“Wow. Way to play the superhero and the orphan card.”
“I didn’t mean it like that.” He doesn’t continue. Doesn’t talk any more about how for him, as unsure as he is about what any of the options might mean, what it comes down to is that inside of MJ right now there is a rapidly subdividing group of cells that is the sum total of his biological family. “I’ll, I’ll get over it. This is crazy. If you decide to, well, whatever, I guess.”
MJ swallows. It’s just so much. “I’m going for a walk.” she says. “Don’t follow me.”
Peter falls asleep on the couch, exhausted in more ways than one. He wakes up to a text from MJ linking to an article titled ‘Spider Babies Eat Their Mother from the Inside Out’ annotated with ‘this better not happen to me.’ which he figures is about as clear of an answer as he could ever have expected. He eats both sandwiches left on the coffee table and drifts back into uneasy dreams. He wakes again to Aunt May’s voice.
“Oh good, you’re up. You. Are in big trouble, mister. Big. Trouble. I understand that you are not a normal teenager but we have rules in this house. One of them is that you need to check in with me. You could’ve been dead, for all I know.”
She cracks open a Diet Coke and keeps talking. “And drinking? What the hell was that all about? What has gotten into you? We’ve talked about this. If you’re at a party, and you want to try it, I understand. It’s part of being a teenager. But you call me to come get you, okay? You don’t stay out all night God-knows-where. You scared the hell out of me, and you scared Mr. Stark, and I think you’re grounded from Spider-Man for a month.”
Peter refuses to meet her eyes.
“Sweetheart. Look at me. We have talked about accountability before. I need to make sure you’re safe.”
Peter stares at the couch cushions harder.
“Peter. Did you hear me?”
“Okay. Then don’t do this again. I love you.” She picks up the plates from the coffee table and notices that Peter’s making his trying-not-to-cry face. She sets the plates down and sits next to Peter. She reaches over his knees to touch his face.
“Peter. Is there something you’re not telling me? No secrets, remember?”
“‘m pregnant.” he says.
May taps her ear “What?”
“I mean, MJ’s pregnant. We seem to have, um, procreated?” Peter says. The dam breaks and Peter tells her everything. Tells her about seeing MJ after returning to Earth and how it seemed like having sex ‘just happened’ and hanging out with her at school and after school and how Flash saw her at the pharmacy and telling Ned and Mr. Stark and going with MJ to the Planned Parenthood and he’s sorry about lying to her about going to school today and he thinks he might’ve heard the baby’s heartbeat once, with his ear pressed to MJ’s abdomen.
May is too stunned to be angry. She never imagined, not in a million years, that her sweet dorky Peter would be so—, well, sexual. Or irresponsible. Or both.
Peter’s voice starts to crack.
“I’ve disappointed you. I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry” and she shifts on the couch and leans him over and holds his head to her chest and lets him cry.
After Peter’s gone to bed, May pours a slug of tequila into her Diet Coke. She thinks there’s enough room for a crib in Peter’s room if he gets rid of all his old computer junk.
It’s moments like this when she wishes Ben were still here, when she’s sure that if he were alive he would’ve known what to say. That he would’ve said something when she found that box of condoms in Peter’s room. She wonders why all this had to happen on her watch; the spider thing and now imminent teen parenthood. Why she’s still here and Ben, and Mary, and Richard are all gone.
Chapter 4: Chapter 4
Peter is up stupid early again the next day. He can’t seem to sleep when he’s anxious. It reminds him of the first couple of weeks after the spider bite, when he barely slept at all, too full of energy and too sensitive to the sounds of the city outside. He climbs out the window before the streetlights are off and he heads to that French bakery by the F train, swings back home to drop off an almond croissant for Aunt May, and leaves a note saying he’ll be back tonight.
MJ wakes up, insanely, ridiculously, unconscionably early for a Saturday, because her phone keeps buzzing and Peter’s name flashes across the screen.
“What?!” she grumbles.
“I’m outside. On the fire escape.” Peter says.
“You are the worst.” MJ hangs up and rolls out of bed, dragging her whole blanket wrapped around herself.
“What are you doing here?” She says as she steps out the back door, even though she’s pretty sure she already knows.
“I brought croissants?” he says and holds up an increasingly greasy paper bag. He’s wearing just a hoodie, even though it’s almost November. Since Friday’s revelation, he hasn’t had a spare thought for much of anything, not even the weather.
“That is neither a question nor an answer, Parker. You did bring croissants, but you are not here because you brought them.”
“You’re not wrong.” He says. “Are you always this sage before 7 a.m.?”
“Yes. That’s why they call me the Oracle of the Morning”
He wrinkles his eyebrow “I don’t think anyone calls you the ‘Oracle of the Morning’” he says.
“Whatever. So maybe they don’t.” She notices he’s shivering. “You’re cold. Come here.” she says.
“Come here.” she opens her blanket-cape and wraps her arms around him. He lets out the breath he didn’t realize he was holding and lowers his head.
“So I guess we’re gonna do this, huh?” he whispers into the base of her neck.
“Yeah, I guess we are.” she rests her cheek on the side of Peter’s face. She knows she’s letting herself be soft, and she doesn’t care. “Fuck.”
Peter goes to the nearest library and spends the entire day poring over books about pregnancy and childbirth until his eyes hurt. He gets the closest he’s ever been to maxing out his library card and a remarkably strange look from the librarian.
He’s anxious and so caught up in his thoughts on the walk home he just barely notices he’s being tailed.
Peter stops on the corner and sets his book bag down. “Did Mr. Stark send you to babysit me?”
Steve steps forward and pulls his hood down off his head.
“I was in the neighborhood. Thought you could use someone to talk to.” Steve says.
“Bullshit.” Peter says. “I’m sorry. I’m sorry. That was rude.”
Peter shakes his head “I just, whatever lecture you came here to give me, Mr. Captain, I know what you’re gonna say. I wasn’t thinking. I just did. And actions have consequences, I know. I’m not a kid.”
Peter’s voice pitches on ‘not’ and Steve tries not to visibly wince at how pubescent the kid sounds.
“I know you're not a kid. You've been through more than most people ever do," he says with a steady gaze. "But I heard Tony was giving you a hard time."
"Was giving me hard time. Now he won't talk to me." Peter says. He hasn't heard from Tony since their encounter on the rooftop.
"He'll come around. He was just a, little blindsided, I think." Steve says.
"So was I! I didn't think-, I mean, I guess I knew it was possible, technically, I just didn't-, I wasn't thinking about that at the time-"
"You don't have to justify yourself to me, Pete, I'm not here to crucify you. You might not believe me, but you’re not the first fella I’ve known who got in a gal in trouble.”
Steve’s thinking about the Brooklyn he used to know a million years ago. The number of times Bucky got yanked into Father Nordstrom’s office and chided for the deadly sin of lust, and the one time he himself got yanked in, literally by the collar, when Bucky told Father Nordstrom he'd been 'making eyes' at Nell O'Brien.
“Sometimes I forget you’re really old until you say things like that.” Peter says. Sometimes Peter wishes he had a filter.
“You’re a punk.”
“You’re calling me a punk? What kind of insult is that?"
"It's a classic. For smart-asses like you."
"I thought you were supposed to wholesome, Mr. Captain, and now you’re talking about getting ‘gals in trouble’ all over the place, swearing-”
“C'mon, I'm as wholesome as goddamn apple pie.” Steve says.
“Was it the USO Tour? I always wondered about the USO Tour.” Peter asks.
“None of your business with the USO Tour. Geez, that girl of yours must be real special to put up with you.” Steve says.
“She is.” Peter says “But I wouldn’t call her my girl, um, per se, she’s her own person, definitely.”
Steve raises an eyebrow “You gonna marry her?”
“People don’t really do that anymore, dude. And she told me once that marriage is just a socially acceptable way to perpetuate women’s wage slavery in a patriarchal system, so, um, yeah, no, I don’t think she’d let me. Even if we ...were old enough.” Wanted to, Peter thinks.
“Guess I shouldn't've asked.” Steve says. He doesn't usually feel out of place in this century, but he does feel ancient around Peter, sometimes.
He claps Peter on the shoulder, “Anyway, I would, uh, take you out for a whiskey, that's what we used to do, back in the Dark Ages, but you’re probably too young for that too, huh, Pops?” and he pulls him into a headlock and ruffles his hair “How about we take you out for a slice instead?”
Peter wiggles out of Steve's hold and picks up his bag again. “Yeah, I could eat. Where are we going, Mr. Captain?”
“Torrento’s. Best pie this side of town. And stop calling me Mr. Captain. It’s Steve.”
“Torrento’s? Mr. Steve, you gotta be kidding me.” Peter says as he struggles vainly to pat his hair back into place.
“What’s wrong with Torrento’s? Their pepperoni is top-notch.”
“The sauce is way too acidic. Quattro Gusto is where it’s at.”
“Quattro Gusto wouldn’t know a New York pizza if it landed on their front door. And seriously, it’s just Steve.”
Back in school, MJ’s pulled out of third period to face the music for slapping Flash. It sucks, but it’s also almost a relief. She’s exhausted from pretending she doesn’t notice the hard core side-eye she’s been getting all day.
Principal Morita says “I’ve heard Flash’s side of the story, and he only said he was pretty sure he wasn’t quote ‘bitch-slapped’ end quote, despite witnesses to the contrary, and if he were, he shouldn’t have provoked you.”
MJ nods “Yup. That sounds about right. I should go.” She slaps the armrests of the chair and starts to stand up.
“Not so fast.” Principal Morita says. Michelle’s always been one of his favorite students, sharp, wry, and fiercely opinionated. “Michelle, did this have anything to do with the rumor going around school that you’re pregnant?”
“Hmm, I thought principals of elite high schools had better things to do than listen to idle gossip.” MJ quips.
“Michelle. I’m serious.” Principal Morita has a sinking feeling that if she’s deflecting rather than denying it’s because the rumor’s true. He waits for a minute, trying to give her time. “If there’s anything Midtown can do to support you, anything I can do, we want you to graduate. On time, this spring, with your class.”
“If that’s all-” MJ starts and then the bell rings and she flies out into the hallway, the oversized hall pass falling off the seat and clanging on the floor behind her.
Principal Morita steps into the teachers lounge where Mr. Harrington and Ms. Warren ambush him immediately.
“So?” Mr. Harrington asks. He doesn’t usually like to admit that he succumbs to curiosity about his students’ personal lives, but this is an exception.
“She wouldn’t say anything.” Morita says.
“What do you think?” Ms. Warren asks as she unwraps a sandwich.
Principal Morita sighs “I think we need to update the Sex Ed. program, that’s what I think.” he replies.
Coach Wilson hollers from his repose on the couch “I said that years ago. Did anybody listen to me? No, man.”
“Do you think the father’s a student here? I didn’t think Michelle had a boyfriend.” Mr. Harrington says.
“It could be Flash. He was the one who got slapped.” Ms. Warren says.
Principal Morita corrects “Allegedly slapped.”
“It’s Parker.” Coach Wilson says as he pulls his arm over his eyes.
“Parker? Peter Parker? No way.” Mr. Harrington says. But, now, come to think of it, he’s had to snap Peter out of staring at MJ more than once. She doesn’t roast him nearly as much as she used to. And Peter did throw up after the whole slapping incident, he’d written that off as visceral reaction to violence, but....maybe? He definitely wouldn’t’ve put money on Michelle Jones and Peter Parker to be the first students in his decade of teaching at Midtown to produce a child.
“They’re always in detention together. And neither of them have detention. It’s Parker.” says Wilson.
Ms. Warren shakes her head “It’s always the quiet ones you have to look out for. They surprise you.”
Another week goes by. MJ stares at herself in the mirror, grateful that her belly still looks flat for now, though her boobs are getting bigger. She wonders how long it’ll be before her parents notice, and whether she should tell her parents before they notice. Peter picks up a job walking dogs in the neighborhood on Tuesdays and Thursdays and patrols out later the more stressed he is.
MJ aggressively manages her stock portfolios via app and preps Decathlon flashcards. She sets up a proper prenatal appointment with a community health center and adds it to a google calendar she’s made for her and Peter. Aunt May offers to drive them and puts the date on the dry-erase calendar in her kitchen.
MJ gets a call from an unknown number on Thursday after Robotics. She’s one of the few people she knows who will actually answer a call from an unknown number.
“Michelle, this is Pepper Potts.”
“Pepper Potts?” That was not at all what MJ had been expecting. A telemarketer, maybe.
“Like the CEO of Stark Industries, Pepper Potts?” MJ’s confused.
“The one and only.”
“Why are you calling me?” She adds to be polite: “um, may I ask?”
“I’d like you to come to the Avengers facility upstate this weekend.”
“The Avengers facility?” MJ asks stupidly. She hates to admit it, but she’s a little star-struck. She’s speaking to the CEO of the world’s largest technology company and the only woman in the top ten global net worth.
“It’s not far from Woodstock, actually. Lovely in the summer.” Pepper says. “Peter’s familiar with it, I’m assuming you know why.” She pauses for a second. “You’re also probably aware by now that I know you and Peter are involved.”
“Word travels fast.” Michelle mutters.
“That it does.” Pepper says. “So I think you should come. For two reasons. First, there has not, as far as we know, been a child born to any enhanced individual and there’s a chance that your pregnancy could be beyond what a community health center is prepared to handle.”
“How did you know about the-” MJ starts and then stops herself. Of course Pepper Potts would be able to access what’s supposed to private information. “Never mind.” she says.
“We can offer you state-of-the-art genetic testing and medical care with a specialty in, to put it frankly, superheroes. And second, Tony is very fond of Peter, and I think it would mean a lot to him to meet you.” Pepper states succinctly.
“O-kay” MJ clears her throat “I’ll clear my weekend.”
“Fantastic. There’ll be a car waiting to pick you up from school. Peter will know where to go.”
“You’re welcome.” Pepper says. “Oh! Do you need an excuse? For your parents? I was told they might not know.”
She mouths ‘by who?!’ at the phone before she says “They don’t. But I’ll handle it.”
“See you Friday.” and Pepper hangs up.
MJ doesn’t need Peter to show her where to go. There’s a black SUV with tinted windows parked across the street from the teacher’s side of the building. It’s glaringly obvious how inconspicuous it is.
Nevertheless, when Peter comes outside she says “Show me the way, dweeb. I hear this is your thing.”
Peter doesn’t take her hand but his fingers graze her wrist and squeeze gently. He looks as nervous as MJ feels. He walks her across the street. Peter trepidatiously introduces her to Happy, who greets her monosyllabically.
Peter insists on helping load their bags in the trunk, not that Happy needs any convincing. Happy points his head toward MJ when he thinks she can’t see.
“ Her ? Really? And you ? Pffff. Good for you, kid. I mean, not about the...kid, but the girl.” When Happy’d been told to go pick up Peter and his, as Tony’d called it ‘baby-mama’, he’d been expecting this ‘Michelle’ to be...mousier. Not tall and leggy and high-cheekboned. She doesn’t even look pregnant, he thinks.
They drive up to the facility mostly in silence. MJ offers Peter one of her earphones and they listen to 2 Dope Queens and try not to laugh out loud, based on Peter’s advice that “‘Happy’ is most definitely a misnomer.”
It’s almost dark by the time they pull up to the front drive. Peter watches MJ as her jaw inadvertently drops a little bit.
“Isn’t it awesome?” he says.
MJ pulls it together. She shrugs “They could’ve spent a little more money on it.”
Peter does a double take before he realizes she’s joking. He lets out a breathy laugh “Yeah, it, uh, looks a little cheap.”
“It’s by far the most rundown, outdated super secret superhero facility I’ve ever been to.” MJ says.
“Eh, I know a guy here. Maybe we can see if he can fix it up.” Peter says and bumps his shoulder into MJ’s affectionately.
Steve and Natasha come out of seemingly nowhere to greet them. MJ flinches but Peter doesn’t seem surprised. Super hearing, she thinks.
Steve claps Peter on the shoulder with an easy “Hey, kid.” before he turns and says “and you must be the famous MJ.” and reaches out to shake her hand.
“The slightly less famous MJ, but I’ll accept it.” She pauses, niceties are always tough for her. “It’s, um, nice to meet you? Mr….Captain.” she finishes lamely.
“Steve.” he says with a smirk.
“Natasha.” Natasha says as she shakes MJ’s hand.
Neither of them are quite what MJ expected. On second thought, she’s not sure what she expected. They’re both strikingly good-looking, clearly muscular, well-balanced, but they look like ordinary people. Not quite the politically divisive, city-destroying, world-saving megalomaniacs she envisions when she thinks of the Avengers. Though, she thinks, Peter must look ordinary too, to people who don’t know him like she does.
Natasha wraps an arm around Peter’s shoulders.
“Hey, Nat.” He says.
“Hi Petey. How’s school?” She asks.
“It’s okay.” He replies.
“How did you do on that project? The one with the song?” She asks in flawless Northeastern-Mexican Spanish. He responds in the same language and she gently corrects his conjugations as they stroll into the compound.
Steve and MJ follow behind. Steve asks her about her favorite books and she about his. She’s not at all surprised to learn that Catch-22 and A Tree Grows in Brooklyn are two of his favorites. Captain America seems to be a walking cliche and his literary selections are the same, but he genuinely doesn’t seem to care and despite herself, MJ’s a little charmed.
“We’ll let you get settled in your room, and then Peter, you’ll show MJ how to get to Medical?” Natasha says.
Peter nods. It’s strange to him that this ‘your’ refers to the plural. As in, a room that is both his and MJ’s; when it used to be just his.
“Isn’t it a little...late? For medical?” MJ says with a crinkled brow.
“These doctors don’t necessarily keep normal hours.” Natasha says. Well, if that isn’t a little ominous, MJ thinks.
The room, Peter’s room, is wide and spacious. There’s a bowl of legos on the desk and Erlenmeyer flasks in a drying rack in the attached bathroom.
“Did you pick all this out? It looks like a Pottery Barn Teen crashed into the Manhattan Children’s Museum.”
“Pepper’s assistant picked it mostly, I think? I don’t mind it.” he says. “I think we’ll have to...share the bed, tonight.” he blushes “ I, I, mean. Just, like, to sleep. I could, I can ask if there’s another room or sleep on the couch or the floor or something-I didn’t mean to presume-” Peter stutters.
“No, no, keep going. I’m enjoying watching you choke on your own Victorian awkwardness.” She pulls her books out her bag and drops them on the nightstand. “Share a bed? Good God, there’ll be sperm everywhere. What if you get me pregnant?”
Peter drops his head and presses his palms into his eyes.
MJ snorts. “C’mon. Show me to Medical. Let’s get the worst of this over.”
“Now, it’s been a while since my last ob-gyn rotation, but don’t worry, you’re in very good hands.” Dr. Helen Cho says as she directs MJ to hop up on an exam table that MJ thinks looks like it was borrowed from the set of The Fifth Element.
“I’m Dr. Bruce Banner, it’s nice to meet you.” Bruce says as he nods at MJ. She’s pretty sure he isn’t a medical doctor.
Peter sort of awkwardly hovers at the edge of the room as Helen asks the same kind of questions they answered at the Planned Parenthood: date of last missed period, symptoms, etc.
Helen draws her blood. She asks Peter for a blood sample too, and while Peter doesn’t seem to think anything of it, MJ has a sneaking suspicion it’s for a paternity test, which she would bet was requested by the billionaire playboy genius superhero who owns this absurd facility. Helen hands the vials over to Bruce who takes them to run through a series of tests. She tells MJ they’ll separate her DNA from the fetus’s in her blood sample.
Helen asks if they want to see it while waiting for the results.
“Yes . ” MJ and Peter say at the same time.
MJ pauses. “Should I…?”and she starts to reach for the hem of her shirt.
“No.” Helen laughs a little bit. “That’s a little old school, don’t you think?”
She has MJ lay back and flips out some kind of scanner bar over her and then: there it is in 3D projection. A little humanoid blob. A fetus. Their baby , Peter thinks.
Helen manipulates something on her keyboard and all the hairs on Peter’s body stand up when the quiet thrum he’s gotten used to listening for around MJ is amplified throughout the room.
MJ’s finding herself in a moment of crisis. She’s sure she’d draw herself right now if she could. She’s been compartmentalizing; thinking of ‘being pregnant’ as a concept, more or less, something she knows she is but doesn’t really feel . A disassociated, almost academic curiosity to follow to conclusion the chain of events that started without her knowing, with her and Peter fucking after what was almost the end of the world. And now there’s this. This terrifying realization that she is sharing her body with another creature; one that will grow in her, and need things from her.
She struggles to get control of her breathing again. Hears Helen saying something in the background about how the fetus is exactly on target for 13 weeks of growth, heartbeat toward the fast end of normal, but by all appearances perfectly healthy and typical. Helen adds “And I’m sure you’re glad to hear there’s only one.”
“Only one?” Peter says quizzically.
“Yes. We can confirm it’s not twins.”
Peter’s knees buckle. “I didn’t even think about twins.” he says. MJ is startled into a laugh. It’s such an earnest reaction. Peter is always so painfully earnest.
Bruce comes back in holding a tablet and Helen flips the scanner back into the table.
MJ sits up and Bruce pulls some DNA models onto the screen on the wall.
Helen manipulates one model carefully, then says “Hmmm, interesting.”
MJ and Peter look at each other. “Interesting?” MJ says.
Helen says “This genetic profile. The fetus’s. There’s certain genetic abnormalities-”
Bruce says, “I...wouldn’t say abnormalities, that sounds scary. And bad.” looking at the deer-in-headlights look that sprouted on Peter’s face.
“Right, Certain genetic” She pauses, “What should I call them, then? To not sound too scary?”
“Quirks?” Bruce suggests.
“Certain genetic ‘quirks’ that as far as we know, are unique to Peter, and unique to the changes in his DNA post spider-bite.”
“Okay. So. What does that mean for the...baby?” MJ says.
Bruce hesitates for a second “Honestly, we don’t know.”
Helen continues “We’ll have to wait and see how these mutations manifest. The good news is, the fetus so far has looked very ordinary and healthy. The bad news is, we don’t quite know what to expect from here. There’s still potential for an elevated risk of miscarriage. And without a prior case study, we don’t quite know how these genes will be expressed in her body, or how they’ll affect your body, Michelle. We’ll really just have to wait and see.”
“So, what you’re telling me is, I’m having a freaky mutant baby and you can’t tell me anything more about it?” MJ says. For all that she’s in the midst of her own crisis, she’s vaguely insulted and this is a very dissatisfying answer.
“Ah, well. Not quite. All we’re saying is there, there might be increased risks for-” Bruce says.
“Her.” Peter says. He turns to look at Helen. “Her body. You said...her body. It’s…” His throat is thick, “It’s a...girl?”
“Gender is a construct.” MJ replies automatically.
Bruce replies. “Sex, then. The..” he gestures awkwardly at MJ’s middle-ish section “has got two X chromosomes, so in most contexts ‘she’ would probably be appropriate.”
Peter looks like he’s been hit with Thor’s axe.
“We should go.” MJ says, glancing over her shoulder at Peter. “And since most everything seems normal, we’ll just go to a normal doctor and if shit gets weird I’ll call you, okay?” And she hops down off the table.
As they step into the elevator both of their phones ping. MJ looks at her screen and sees that Helen has sent them each a full email wrap-up; with vital stats, notes on particular genetic markers, her personal phone number, and 30 seconds of video that Peter quietly and immediately pulls a still from and sets as his phone background. MJ pretends not to notice, but does the same.
MJ steps into the bathroom and changes into her pajamas, brushes her teeth. As she’s coming back into the room Peter’s just sliding into an oversized T-shirt. He brushes his teeth, thinks about how surreal this feels, like playing house. MJ’s under the covers, reading Blood and Soil: A World History of Genocide and Extermination from Sparta to Darfur and he turns off the main light and climbs on the very edge of the other side of the bed and stares directly up at the ceiling.
MJ sets down her book. “Peter.” she says.
“What?” he replies.
“Don’t tell Ned.”
“Tell Ned what?” Peter says.
“What you were planning to tell him, dorkwad. That the baby is all mutant-y. He’ll get too excited.”
Peter stays quiet.
“I mean it, Parker.”
“Don’t tell him.”
“I won’t.” Peter says, too quickly.
“You already told him, didn’t you?”
“Yeah.” Ned had replied with a poster of the 1967 horror film Spider Baby with his and MJ’s faces horrifyingly photoshopped onto it. Immediately followed by a string of approximately 40 texts ranging from ‘Dude! That’s so much cooler than a normal baby’ to ‘will it have to sign the Accords when it’s born?’, ‘or should I say hatched???’ and several that are just strings of spider emojis.
“I can’t, with you, sometimes.” She says and shoots off a message to their three person group text that says ‘the important takeaway here is that p has a freaky mutant ball sac’.
Ned replies instantly: ‘my boi’s got a webslinger in his pants #ayooo’ and Peter begs them both to stop before he dies of embarrassment. They don’t, which is why Peter ends up curled over MJ’s phone as she tries in vain to roll him over.
She hollers “Phone thief! Give it back! You’re impinging on my right to free speech!”
“I’m...invoking the Patriot Act!”
“You’re saying this is terrorism? I’ll show you terrorism.” She says as she swings one of her legs over him and reaches with both hands to tickle his ribs.
He squirms but doesn’t budge. “Never! I am one of Earth’s...mightiest...heroes!”
She digs her fingers into his armpit.
He wheezes out between laughs “Okay! Okay. I give up! You can, you can, have it back.”
She nabs her phone back from under him and rolls back over to her side of the bed.
“Hey Peter.” She says, propping herself up on one elbow.
“Hey what?” He replies, mirroring her position.
“I can feel your boner from over here.” She says with a raised eyebrow.
“I, uh, I, um,” Peter sighs, “yeah.” he glances sheepishly at MJ.
“Sooo, you wanna do something about that?” she says.
“Mmmhmm.” He says and moves closer to her, closing the distance between their mouths and reaching his hand lightly over her ribcage. She inches her fingers under the stretchy waistband of his pajama pants and he slides his hand up over her breast.
She breaks the kiss, “Be gentle,” she says. “They’re, um, they’re sore.”
“Oh.” he says, blinking. “Oh.” So instead, he scoots himself down and takes her Soffe shorts with him and as he presses his mouth back up the inside of her bare thigh she threads her fingers through his soft hair and thinks it’s about damn time.
“Pee Wee’s definitely the father, that’s what you’re saying, Bruce?” Tony says, cutting Bruce off in the middle of a long, technical jargon-y run-on sentence.
“-yeah.” Bruce says, leaning back against the wall in one of the conference rooms on the public facing side of the compound.
“Tony, I still don’t think it was right of you to ask for the test, the kid trusts her-” Steve starts.
“The kid is naive.” Tony says.
“You ordered a paternity test without Peter’s consent?!” May Parker says. She turns to Bruce “And you thought that was okay?” She points her finger “Shame on both of you. That is not fucking okay.” She’s rapidly losing control of this meeting.
“Well, we didn’t actually run it, that’s the part I was getting to.” Bruce says.
“Could you get to it, please?” Natasha says, putting her feet up on the conference table.
“You just said Peter’s the father.” Tony says.
“Yes. I did. I’m getting to that. The fetus was showing genetic markers I’ve only ever seen in Peter, so unless, uh, unless Michelle had another partner that was bitten by a radioactive spider, it’s Peter’s.” Bruce says. He flips on the projected model to show everyone, but Tony shuts it off.
“That’s exactly why you should have done the paternity test. Like I asked.” Tony says.
“Look, Tony, the kid is having a kid.” Steve says.
“Babies having babies.” Sam chirps in.
“It is what it is, I’m sorry.” Bruce says with a contrite expression, “Or at least, I think it is. It’s not like these genes are exactly human.”
“Not human? What do you mean not human?” May exclaims.
Bruce looks at May’s face and immediately recognizes the expression from Peter’s earlier moment of panic. “I shouldn’t have said that. It’s human. Mostly human. It looks like normal so far, just, enhanced, we think.”
“I guess that means they can’t give it up for adoption, huh?” Sam says. “Not like you can give some super baby to a nice white couple in Kansas.”
“Shut up, Sam.” Steve says.
“The spider one is small but virile. He has been rewarded with fertility, this is good. Is it not?” Thor says.
“Not when he’s only seventeen, it’s not.” Natasha says.
“I’m surprised he could do it, I didn’t think his balls had dropped.” Sam says. Steve elbows him.
“I didn’t think he’d be that stupid.” Tony says.
“Hey!” May says, “He’s not stupid. Okay? Reckless? Yes. Very. But stupid, no. And I think it’s awfully hypocritical for you to be saying anything. I seem to remember a lot of tabloids about Tony Stark caught with some call girl or socialite or-”
“I didn’t get any of them pregnant .” Tony shoots back.
“Clearly not for lack of trying.” May says. “But you know what? This isn’t about you. This is about a kid. My kid. And he looks up to you.” She looks around the room. “He looks up to all of you. And he is gonna need some help.”
Thanks so much for your patience! And thanks for your comments and feedback, it really means the world to me <3
Ahhh, this is just one monster scene! It wasn't supposed to be this long and then it got away from me. I hope you enjoy it!
Peter can’t sleep. MJ is out cold; sated, naked and lightly snoring, when he slips out the door of his room.
He wanders down the stairs into the common space; no one’s up, it seems. The TV is off and there’s dishes drying in the kitchenette. That must be from Bucky, he thinks. Nobody else really handwashes dishes, but Bucky is under strict instructions from Shuri to keep practicing ‘delicate tasks’ with his artificial hand as a form of therapy.
He makes himself three peanut butter sandwiches and helps himself to a soda. Sex is awesome, he thinks, 10/10 would recommend, but he’s starving.
There’s a new handwritten sign beneath the plaque pointing to the gym that says ‘Absolutely NO WRESTLING outside gym’ and a sticky note on that sign that says ‘SAM, this means YOU’. It’s not particularly reassuring, he thinks, what the hell are they gonna do with a fragile little baby? Or a not-so-fragile little baby, given what Drs. Banner and Cho had been saying. What the hell are they going to do?
He wanders through the crossover into the conference center, turns a corner and slams into Tony.
“Mr. Stark? What’re, what are you doing up?” Peter asks, genuinely surprised.
“I could ask you the same thing.”
“I couldn’t sleep.”
Tony narrows his eyes. “Uh huh. That’s why your pants are on backwards?”
Peter blushes and un-subtly reaches down to check. Shit, they really are on backwards, he thinks. “Would you believe me if I said that’s how us kids are wearing them these days?” He says with what he hopes is a charming grin.
“No.” Tony says flatly.
Peter spots Aunt May over Tony’s shoulder as she’s stepping out of the conference room. “Wait, Aunt May? What are you doing here?” Peter says.
May freezes. “I’m, um, I’m, Tony and I were just having a little chat-wait, honey, why are your pants are on backwards?” May says, glancing at Tony.
“It’s not important. I just, I wasn’t looking when I, um, put them on.” Tony raises an eyebrow and Peter coughs. “But, uh, a little chat? You came all the way out from the city for a chat? With Tony ?” Peter says incredulously. May likes Tony, he thinks, but she doesn’t love Tony- His eyes go wide, “You’re not, like, you two aren’t, like, Pepper is-”
“No!” Tony says at the same time May exclaims “Ha!”
“Oh, no. No, no, no.” May laughs.
“Is it that funny? Really?” Tony says, “Cause you were into me. You were totally into me.”
May scoffs. Okay, yeah, there was a time when she was maybe a little dazzled by him, though that time has long since passed, she thinks.
Behind Aunt May, Peter sees Bruce and then Steve exit the conference room. Bruce looks at May, Tony, and Peter and turns abruptly, pushing a confused Steve back past the door frame.
“That was weird.” Peter says. “Why are they here? And…” he cocks his head, listening, “Thor? Dude, it’s so cool that Thor’s here. Wait, why is Thor here?”
“For our chat meeting. Grown-ups only. Now get yourself a glass of water and scamper back to bed, Raggedy-Ann.” Tony says.
“Oh my god.” Peter says, turning back to look at Aunt May. “Oh my god. Who else is in there? You’re meeting about me. You’re meeting about me, without me there.”
“Yeah. We are. Because you got yourself into yet another situation you can’t get yourself out of.” Tony says.
“That’s what you think this is?” Peter squeaks indignantly, “Something I can’t get out of? Maybe, Mr. Stark, maybe I want this. Maybe this is my decision.”
Tony squares his shoulders and looks down at Peter. At least, as much as he can. Peter’s almost as tall as he is, now.
Oh no, this is gonna be bad, May thinks.
“Decision? You decided? You decided to throw your whole future away. Between what, homeroom and band practice?”
“Not like that-”
“Like what then? You don’t want to go to college anymore? You seemed pretty excited about MIT a couple of weeks ago.”
“I am! I was, that’s not what I, I-” Peter stutters.
“What about finishing high school? You’re gonna sit in Algebra 2 with a newborn in your locker?”
“No, what, I’m not even in Algebra 2, and I would never, in a locker, geez, at least Steve was sorta happy for me.”
“Steve was, I don’t care what Steve thinks. Decision, Jesus. Have you thought any of this through? Where are you going to live? How are you going to pay the bills?”
“I don’t know! I don’t know any of it!” Peter can feel himself turning red, his eyes are prickling.
“You had such a bright future, Peter, and for you to just throw it all-”
“Can you lay off for, for, a minute?! You’re not my dad!” Peter is on the precipice of angry crying. “You’re not anyone’s dad!” And I am, holy shit, he thinks.
Tony looks like he’s been slapped.
“I’m so, so, sorry. I shouldn’t have said, any of that, Mr. Stark.” Peter says. “That was just, rude, and I’m sorry.” Peter breathes in, “I’m so sorry. I’m sorry I didn’t live up to your expectations. I’m sorry I’m not as good as you thought I was. I don’t have any idea, at all, what we’re gonna do. I just, I don’t ever want my,” his voice hitches, “daughter to think that she ruined my life, or that I got, I got stuck with her, or-” Peter’s throat is starting to get thick again.
“Peter, sweetheart, you know I didn’t feel stuck with you, right? Not ever. Not for a minute.” May reaches for his face. Peter nods, but doesn’t look at her. “No, really. Really, really. You don’t have to keep the baby to prove you’re not stuck with it. You don’t have to prove anything to anybody.”
“I’m not trying to prove anything. I just don’t think she should grow up wondering who her parents are. Or why she is the way she is and, this is probably selfish, but I don’t want her not to know me, to think that I don’t want to know her or have her exist even, and if she’s like me, like, with...powers and everything, I’m responsible for that.”
“Kid. You’re still a kid. Being a parent isn’t going to bring yours back.” Tony says.
“Tony-” May says.
“I know that. That’s not what this is about.” Peter says, eyes damp.
“Not everything in the whole world, and beyond, has to be your frickin’ burden.” Tony says.
“It’s not yours either." Peter shoots back. "This isn't a burden. Not to me. And I’m not a kid anymore. And you need to stop treating me like one.” I’m an Avenger, he thinks.
Jesus, Tony thinks, I need a drink.
“Not being a kid, that doesn’t mean you’re ready to be raise one.” May says gently.
“You don’t get it.” Peter shakes his head. “I, I love it. Already. Her. And I mean, it’s sort of like, a miracle. A really unlucky miracle. But,” He swallows. “I seem to be good at those.”
“Whoa, hold up. Can you rewind the tape, and tell me why you think your 16-and-pregnant-ness is a miracle?” Tony says.
Peter squirms, “Cause it was right after Thanos, and ‘cause...y’know, and...first time, and…”
Bruce has his ear pressed to the inside of the conference door, eavesdropping. He turns to Natasha and asks in an inadvertently loud whisper “Do you think he means first time together, or, first time ever, first time?”
He’s answered from the hallway.
“Both.” MJ says dryly, rolling her eyes. She raps her knuckles on the conference room door as she turns the corner, startling Bruce who jumps backward into Thor, who steps on Steve’s foot.
“Ow!” Steve winces. Natasha smothers a laugh.
Hmmm, there are more people in there than MJ originally thought, she thinks.
“Really? That’s…” Not statistically probable, Bruce thinks. He wonders if maybe the spider bite and Peter’s changed body chemistry had something to do with it. They’d noticed way back in Peter’s preliminary exams that he had preternaturally sticky snot, it hadn’t crossed Bruce’s mind to ask for a semen sample, but maybe that’s why.
“What’re you doing up? Not that you can’t be up. Of course you can be up. You don’t need me to, obviously, I was just, uh, wanted to know.” Peter says. “Just..wondering, how much did you hear?”
“Enough to wonder if I should be getting a Kleenex or a mop for your tears..” MJ answers.
She crosses her arms over the graphic on Peter’s t-shirt that reads ‘My Chemistry Jokes Hardly Ever Get a Reaction’ and turns to Tony, “You’re Tony Stark.”
“That’s obvious.” Tony retorts.
She looks younger in person than she did in her almost nonexistent online photos. It took some effort, even for him, but he’s done some digging on Michelle Jones.
Tony’s done some digging on all the girls in Peter’s class at school, actually. He’s a little ashamed to admit it, though, that he’d spent half a morning googling teenage girls and debating which one of them Peter’d knocked up.
He’d honed in on Michelle Jones (top of her class, Captain of the champion Decathlon team, only child of an investment banker and a medical supply executive, granddaughter of one the original members of New York’s Black Panther Party, winner of several notable teen art prizes, with two protest-related arrests on her record) as the top prospect for Peter’s baby mama on the basis of intuition and actually won $5 in a bet with Pepper about it; she’d thought it was the sweet-looking little blonde.
“I thought you’d be taller.” MJ says with narrowed eyes.
Tony gets the sense that she’s sizing him up, literally and figuratively.
“So. Let’s get everybody out here. Can you come out here?” She says, “Please?”
She’s not quite 100% sure she wants to confront a whole group of superhumans while wearing Peter’s ridiculous t-shirt and shorts still wet with their, uh, bodily fluids, but she’s starting to get into a mood.
Bruce, Steve, Sam, Natasha, Clint and Thor join them in the hallway, now absurdly crowded.
“Good to see you three again. Pleasure to meet you. And you. And you, I’m sure.” She says, dryly, nodding at Thor and Sam and Clint.
“When did you get here?” Tony says to Clint.
“I’ve been here this whole time. I’m just quiet.” Clint says.
MJ clears her throat, “I get it, okay. This is a horrible idea. It’s gonna be tremendously difficult.”
“If you agree, why would you keep it?” Tony says.
“Because I want to. And I don’t have to justify myself to you.” MJ says levelly.
“Oh, how did this even happen?” May interjects rhetorically.
“‘Cause emotional vulnerability is risky when paired with hormonal adolescents. Plan B didn’t work. Peter’s hot. Blah, blah, blah.” She shrugs, “Will that suffice?” She says directly to Tony.
She thinks I’m hot, Peter thinks.
Natasha’s eyes flick over from MJ to Peter and watch his pupils dilate when she says ‘hot’. It’d be a lot funnier, she thinks, how head-over-heels in puppy love the kid is with this girl if it weren’t for, well, accidents happen.
FRIDAY chimes in “Mr. Stark, Ms. Potts has just returned from Seattle. She has requested your presence.”
“Guess you should go, then.” Steve says to Tony.
“She can wait. We’re not done here.” Tony responds, looking at MJ.
“Nah, Tony, you should go, man. Get some space.” Clint says. “We should all go. Especially you, little lady. You’re gonna need the sleep in,” he looks at her with a sharp gaze, “six months or so.”
Clint looks at Tony and nods down the hallway. “C’mon. Teenagers are the worst. Smart teenagers are the worst of the worst.” Natasha says her goodbyes with a tight lipped grin and follows as the two of them bemoan until they’re out of sight.
“Well. Guess the show’s over. Goodnight then.” Sam says, “I like you, though. You are not what I expected, shit.” He says to MJ.
“Um, thanks?” MJ says.
Thor clasps MJ’s hand and says warmly, “Don’t worry. I’ll make sure to bring you a goat. Even if Stark doesn’t.”
MJ doesn’t have a good response for that.
“That’s...so kind, Thor. Thank you for, thinking of us.” Peter says, “...what would we need a goat for?”
Thor tips his head, “For the baby, of course. Can’t have a baby without a goat, that’s ridiculous. Isn’t that, ‘why would we need a goat’” he laughs, and then looks back at Peter and MJ’s confused faces.
“Why don’t you, uh, come with me?” Bruce says, “We’ll give them some time to think about...what kinda goat they want.”
May says “I’ll walk you back. If that’s okay.” to Peter and MJ.
“Yeah, sure.” Peter says tiredly, but not without attitude.
“Peter, I-” May starts.
“I thought, Aunt May, I thought you were supposed to be on my side.” Peter says.
“I am. Peter. I am. I just,” She breathes out, “You’re the most important person in my life, you know that. And it’s, I haven’t quite made enough room for the idea that there is going to be someone in your life who is more important to you than you. And I love you so much. And I don’t want you to have any regrets. Or to miss out on anything.”
“I don’t want to miss out on this.” Peter says, “I didn’t plan it. But I don’t want to regret any of it.”
“And I will do anything I can to help you. This was supposed to help.” She gestures with her hands up, “But it...got out of control.”
“Yeah, they’re awesome, but they’re so, unexpectedly dysfunctional.” Peter sniffs.
“So dysfunctional.” May laughs, and she pulls Peter in for a hug. “I love you. Always.” she says into his hair.
“Well. I’m going bed.” MJ says. She calls behind her as she strides toward the residential wing, “I think there’s a life preserver on one of the walls if this flood of tears gets any worse."
"Goodnight,” Peter calls, his arms still around May, "I'll be there just in a minute."
"Goodnight," May chokes out.
Weepy Parkers, she thinks. “Baby, don’t be a weeper,” she says, looking down at her belly, “Or we’ll all drown.”
Even more feelings. So much MJ.
I'm sorry! With the way I write, this is totally gonna be 10 chapters, maybe 11, but I really wanted to update for you guys. Thanks for bearing with me, and thanks for all your love and comments and constructive criticism and support :)
MJ’s lying in wait, or sitting in wait, really in Tony’s lab. Peter’s gone off to do some hand-to-hand sparring with Mr. America and company and she makes two cups of matcha tea and takes herself down to Tony’s lab. She hacks into Tony’s music and cues every track to play Madonna’s ‘Papa Don’t Preach’ instead and makes herself comfortable in the corner.
“Morning.” She says, when Tony walks in.
He startles. “Jesus! What the fuck.” He says as his coffee splashes out of the mug. “How did you get in here?”
“It’s really not that hard of an override.” MJ says, “You do know Ned and I play around in your software all the time, right?”
“How did you even find my lab? This is my private lab.” Tony says as he pulls up a command screen to summon drones to clean the mess.
MJ motions around the room with a finger, “I just asked Alexa and she told me.”
“I do not understand the request, Mr. Stark.” FRIDAY chimes.
“I wasn’t talking to you, FRIDAY.” Tony grumbles.
“Very well.” FRIDAY says.
“Have some matcha.” MJ says and hands the other mug to Tony. She’s trying to see if giving people things is an effective tactic for persuasion. So far the results are mixed; Peter is cautious, but Ned is a sucker for it every time. She maybe needs a bigger sample size.
Tony sniffs it, “This is disgusting.”
“That’s half the fun.” MJ says.
“Why are you here?” he asks.
“Pepper invited me.” she shrugs.
“No, why are you here here. In my lab. In the morning. Lurking.”
“It’s barely morning anymore. And this is hardly lurking. I greeted you.” She takes a long sip of her tea.
Tony pinches the bridge of his nose. “Get off of that. Do you have any idea how many millions of dollars of tech you’re sitting on?”
MJ doesn’t move. She’d guess she’s sitting on maybe a half million worth, give or take. “What’s your deal, man?”
“What’s my deal?” Tony asks.
She shrugs, “You know what I mean.”
Tony sighs and starts to pull his latest project onto the workbench. He’s working on modifying the impact absorbing fabric of Black Panther’s suit into something lighter and more flexible; he was thinking he would use it for a new suit for Peter, but who the hell knows now.
He hears the soft scratching of a pencil on paper and turns his head to see MJ sketching out his hands on the workbench.
She’s drawing his fingers as they stretch the fabric over the mold.
“You’ll make more money selling that if you focus on the tech.” Tony says.
“Too bad. We could’ve used it for the baby.” MJ replies.
“What do you want?” Tony says.
“I want to know. What’s it to you?” She’s shading the curved line of his wedding band, “‘Cuz really, it’s none of your business.”
“It is my business. Literally. This is my business.” Tony says.
“And being a member of the capitalist elite entitles you to make decisions about other people’s lives?” She says.
“It does when they...work for me.” He says. ‘Are Peter’ would be a more accurate statement, he thinks, but he’s not gonna get into that with her right now.
MJ looks at him skeptically. “So what, you don’t want to have to offer paternity leave for Peter’s unpaid internship?”
She shakes a piece of her hair out of her face. “I think it’s a fear thing,” she says, “I think you’ve got control issues.” She puts her pencil down and looks him directly in the eyes, “But maybe you’re a just a dick.”
“Okay. Okay? Fine. You want to do this? I’m a dick because I think you should go to college? Because I seem to be the only one who thinks this is fucked up?” So much for not getting into this, he thinks.
“No. You’re a dick because you could get over it and stop saying unproductive bullshit but you won’t. I know it’s fucked up. I still go to a pediatrician. Peter’s not allowed to watch HBO because of the boobs.”
“Then I just don’t get it.”
“What’s not to get? The universe is a mystery. This baby is another link in the chain of existing. Which is, like, the closest to a reason for anything. So.” She shrugs again.
“So...so what, Friedrich Nietzsche?” She’s awfully blase for being such a hell of an intense kid, he thinks.
“So I want to meet my kid. Regardless of whether it’s a fucked up situation. It’s not your problem. Don’t make it your problem unless you’re going to help. We’ve got enough without you adding your old-man baggage.”
“Really? Old man baggage?” Tony says, because that seems to be the level of comeback he’s at right now. Even though old man baggage doesn’t even begin to describe how deeply his feelings of guilt and responsibility and genuine affection are entwined when it comes to Peter Parker.
“That’s what I said.” She returns to shading.
He turns back to his work in silence and hears the scratch of her pencil start up again.
“I’m not old.” He says. She looks at him. “I’m not that old. And if you’re going to stay here you could at least make yourself useful.”
“That’s what an old man would say.”
He rolls his eyes. “Come hold this,” he says.
She stays for another hour, doing menial tasks at Tony’s request, holding this and that, passing tools, mostly just observing. He’s got bags under his eyes the size of Idaho and freckles she hadn’t realized were there. She notices how the tension slips out of his shoulders, though whether it’s because he’s getting absorbed in his work or just used to her is unclear. She wouldn’t say she likes him, per se, but he’s a lot less unbearable in ‘mechanic at work’ mode than ‘old rich white guy with a savior complex’ mode.
“Kid.” Tony calls as she leaves the lab. “If you, damnit, if you need anything, call me,” and he tosses her the upgraded phone he was planning to give to Happy. But whatever. Happy can wait.
MJ rolls her eyes. What a softie, she thinks, I knew it. And throws him a quick thumbs up over her shoulder.
Tony tells FRIDAY to start his favorite playlist. It doesn’t start with the usual guitar riff and as he recognizes this song’s bassline, he shakes his head. “That little shit.” he says.
Peter and MJ ride back to the city with May. They fall into a quasi-normal routine again; classes, Decathlon, walking dogs, and binge-watching Steven Universe. MJ and Ned are always with Peter now when he patrols; MJ taking over when Ned has family obligations and Ned and Peter going into full bro-out nerd mode when MJ decides she’d rather be elsewhere.
Pregnancy is becoming less fun for her, not that it was fun in the first place, she thinks, but she’s got new zits just about every other day and keeps having to run out of class with another bloody nose. She’s putting on weight but still doesn’t have a ‘bump’, so the rumors at school have mostly died down, true as they may be, and she’s pulled her most fashionably oversized sweaters to the front of her closet.
She’s also insanely horny. She texts Peter naughty quotes from literature and snapshots of sexy doodles and watches him turn red checking his phone at school. She offers to drive him home almost every day in the hopes that he’ll get her off in the car, and he’s happy to oblige. He spends a lot of time staring at her face, her chest, her hips, her hair, and consequently spends a good deal of time trying to figure out the most casual way to carry his books to hide his nearly omni-present boner.
He confesses to Ned that MJ’s jumping him almost every second they’re alone together, which is both awesome and kinda gross now that MJ has started eating cans of salmon slathered with hot sauce for lunch, and Ned helpfully a.) does a lot of research to make sure they won’t permanently scar the baby’s budding psyche or melt its brain with mercury poisoning and b.) starts leaving them alone together as much as he can with very un-subtle winks and terrible excuses and loads of chewing gum.
They go Christmas shopping together, which really means Peter goes Christmas shopping and MJ throws objects at him. He stops in his tracks outside The Children's Place.
"I don't know, Peter, doesn't May usually buy your big-boy clothes for you?" MJ says.
"Ha-ha." He replies and practically drags MJ inside.
He picks up a little onesie with an adorable cartoon cactus on it that says 'I'm a Hugger', “It’s so tiny, M. Isn’t that, just crazy, that we’re gonna have somebody this little in May.” His expression changes, “Oh my god. We’re gonna have somebody this little in May. We’re gonna be responsible for somebody this little in May. That’s so soon. We're gonna have to teach her how to write, and be a good person, and, what if I break her? Babies are so, so, squishy, and I don’t even know how to hold one, and-” he’s starting to hyperventilate and MJ throws the little bodysuit back down, wrangles him out onto a bench, and shoves his head between his knees.
“Breathe, dipshit. We’ve still got some time.”
He tries to sit up and MJ shoves his head back down. He keeps gasping for air and he turns his head to look at MJ with wild eyes. She keeps her hand on the back of his neck and crouches down. It must be exhausting, she thinks, to oscillate between utter conviction and this much insecurity all the time.
“I don’t know how to hold a baby either. I’ve never liked them. But other people are idiots and somehow the species marches on so I’m sure we’ll be fine. Get it together.” She says.
It takes a couple more minutes, but Peter gets control of his breathing and MJ gets herself a giant Jamba Juice and they go home.
May finds them holding sacks of flour and sugar watching YouTube videos on ‘how to hold a baby’ and she laughs and laughs until Peter tosses the flour sack at her and it breaks, covering the entire kitchen with white powder that echoes the snowfall outside.
The day after Christmas May is settled on the couch, wearing the Obi Wan Snuggie she got for Peter years ago that he still refuses to put on, when she hears a knock at the door.
She looks through the peephole and sees MJ standing in the apartment hallway. If she didn’t know any better, she’d think MJ looks like she’s been crying.
“Hi, May.” MJ says, “Is, um, is Peter here? He wasn’t texting me back.”
“Oh, he’s, he just left this morning. I thought he would’ve told you. He’s flying to Wisconsin.”
“Why?” She says incredulously.
“His grandmother lives up there. Well, his step-grandmother, technically. Peter spends a couple of days with her after Christmas; they go ice fishing with his step-cousins.” May over explains.
MJ sniffs, one of those big, sucking-snot-back-in sniffs, “For real? Are there pictures?” she asks.
“Yeah. Yeah, I think so. Do you want to come in for a minute? You look…” May trails off.
“Miserable?” MJ supplies.
“Yeah.” May agrees, as she swings open the door.
MJ shrugs out of her coat, “Why aren’t you in Wisconsin, then?”
“Um, well, it’s still...things changed. Between me and Darlene. After Ben died. I think it made her sad to have me...y’know, around. Just a reminder of...and I think it made me sad, too.” She looks at the oversized sweater MJ’s wearing, “That was Ben’s, you know. It’s cute on you.”
“I’m sorry.” MJ says.
“Me too.” May says.
MJ runs her hand under her nose and looks up and down at May’s Snuggie. She glances over to the tea and ice cream on the coffee table, “So this is like a little grief party, then?”
“Pretty much,” May says with an apologetic laugh, “It’s a wallow zone.”
“I can go. I should go. I’m interrupting.” MJ says. And I’m wearing a dead man’s sweater, she thinks.
“No, no, stay. It’s probably better if I’m not alone. I was just watching, um, Grey’s Anatomy, actually. But I can change it. Do you want some ice cream? I’ve got butter pecan and there’s chocolate in the freezer.”
“Yeah, actually. I’ll have some of that butter pecan.” MJ says.
May grabs a bowl for her and they sit down on the couch. May glances over and makes a face as MJ pulls a bag of Doritos out of her purse, crumbles a handful over her ice cream, and digs in.
On screen, Sloan is smirking at Callie from across the locker room. MJ steps back into the kitchen and pours balsamic vinegar over her Doritos in the ice cream bowl. “My parents found out.” She says looking straight ahead.
May swallows her spoonful too quickly, “You hadn’t told them?”
“Not yet.” MJ swirls one of the chips around in the vinegar.
May tries to rearrange her eyebrows into a more stoic expression, not only is this information surprising, but good god that girl is eating some really disgusting things. “How did it go?” she asks.
“Not good,” MJ bites her bottom lip, hard, “It was my grandma. We do this family breakfast thing every year. And she just looked at me. And she knew.”
“And she told everybody?”
“Oh dear. Are you okay?” May pauses the TV.
MJ leans her head back and blinks. She hates feeling this vulnerable. “Yeah. I’m okay.”
“Are you sure?”
“Yeah.” She chokes out. May wraps an arm around her. “Fuck.” MJ says as a hot tear runs down her face. “Fuck.”
“You can stay here, for a couple of days, if you want. Until things calm down with your parents.” May offers. MJ is stiff under her arm.
MJ nods, her voice high and thick, “That would, that would be great.” She brushes her eyes past her shoulder, “Yeah, thank you.”
“It’s okay, you know. To not be strong all the time. To let people in. They’re your parents. It’s okay to cry.” May says as she rubs MJ’s shoulder softly.
MJ starts to relax into May, goddamn it, this whole touchy-feely Parker thing must be catching. “They’re so mad.”
“They won’t be mad forever. Tony was mad.”
“Believe it or not, but I think my parents are going to be more difficult than Tony Stark.” MJ says.
“Don’t be ridiculous. Nobody’s more difficult than Tony Stark.”