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Push You Out (Pull You Back In)

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Chinese Translation

 

 

Peter Parker tried not to hate Mondays.

He always thought it was a little harsh to hate a whole day out of the week. Don’t get him wrong, Peter understood the universal distaste for Mondays. After spending two days sleeping in and not having to go to work or school, and then being forced to wake up early and expected to function, well sure, that could be unsettling. But Peter couldn’t get over the numbers. Mondays made up one seventh of his life. If he lived to be 84, he would have spent 12 years of just Mondays, and he couldn’t go about hating them just because they were inconvenient. Because if it wasn’t Monday getting hate, it would have been Tuesday or Wednesday or maybe even Thursday. Monday was just in the wrong place at the wrong time.

And sure, maybe it was a little silly to feel such sympathy for a certain day of the week. Hell, to even put much thought at all into the notion was overdoing it, and personifying Monday definitely wasn’t helping his exhausted mental state. Peter was aware of all of this…and yet, all he could do was shake his head and frown when he read tweets carefully articulated by his peers, ones like “Fml monday sucksss”, or even worse, “realizing tomorrow is Monday” with a GIF of Dwight from The Office screaming.

So, Peter tried not to hate Mondays. And, to be honest, he did alright for the most part. He went about making the most of them.  He liked that he could get organized and write everything out for the upcoming week that he had to do and color-code his calendar accordingly. But this particular Monday…Peter didn’t stand a chance. He had two tests, one in math, the other in English, and a quiz in chemistry, which he did not prepare enough for. His regular Study Hall teacher was MIA, and the sub, Mrs. Meyer, actually made him do work, and definitely didn’t let Peter take a nap with his head against his desk. Maybe it wouldn’t have been so bad if he had gotten more sleep the night before. He was thinking about that when the final bell rang, making a mental note to research insomnia more deeply, but mostly, looking forward to going home and nuzzling under his covers, where he would finally be able to close his eyes and shut down for a little while. He was so sick of the school’s fluorescent lights; Peter couldn’t wait to be in the darkness of his room.

“Peter?” A hand grazed his shoulder, causing Peter to turn around.

“Oh, hey.” Despite his exhaustive state, he didn’t have to fake a smile for his best friend. Ned gestured to the side and they scooted by the lockers to avoid blocking traffic from antsy students shuffling to escape the building.

“You’re not leaving, are you?” Ned asked, eyebrows furrowed.

“Yeah, I was…oh, no.” He groaned. Decathlon practice. Peter got the email for the reschedule during first period, but he was too tired to remember the date change. “I completely forgot.”

“I covered for you last time! Peter, you cannot bail again.”

He tried to think up some excuse that could get him out of going, anything he could tell Ned that would allow him to sleep as soon as possible without having his best friend mad at him. And then he sighed in defeat and followed Ned to the gym. As much as he wanted to, he really couldn’t skip a second practice in a row. Peter loved Decathlon. He liked knowing random facts he could mull over or bring into conversations. He enjoyed pushing himself, but there was a point when it became more self-destructive than anything. As Peter trudged home an hour and a half later, he feared he was nearing that line.

 *

            When Peter finally made it to his apartment (which took him about six years to get there), he whipped out his key and unlocked the door. He had mentally planned to get a glass of water and head straight for his bed, but as he turned for the kitchen, he noticed something that made him freeze.

There, draped on his couch, was a man.

“Oh.” Peter said without meaning to. His first instinct was to wonder if this man was a robber, but a quick glance at his expensive-looking suit answered his question for him. Tan skin, dark chocolate eyes, and brown, slightly rough-edged styled hair were his first impressions of the man.

“Peter?” The man made a casual hand gesture towards him. “Of course, you must be Peter.”

            There were some people, Peter believed, who had the ability to make him uncomfortable through eye contact. No, that wasn’t right. There were some people who could see into other people. One look and damn, they knew everything you were thinking or feeling. He had only stumbled upon it a few times and he didn’t come close to understanding it, but he was certain this man possessed the ability.   

 “Uh, yeah.” Peter fumbled awkwardly, beginning to raise his hand to offer it out to shake before quickly deciding against it and folding his arms over his chest instead. Smooth, Parker. “I’m Peter.” Fuck, the man already said that. Peter watched as he chuckled before standing up and sauntered towards him.

“I’m Tony.” He outstretched his hand with a knowing smile, like he was amused by Peter’s clumsiness. Peter shook his hand politely. Tony’s grip was warm and firm.  

“So, you’re probably wondering what I’m doing in your home.”

Nope, Peter was not actually wondering that. He should have been, but he was too busy hoping his hand wasn’t sweaty or cold during their handshake to be concerned if the man he was fraternizing with was a murderer. But he couldn’t just say that, so Peter nodded along.

“Well, I wasn’t supposed to meet you like this, without your mom. She thought she could take a fast shower and be ready before you got home. Said something about going to a sandwich shop with your friend after your debate club or something.” Tony offered a sympathetic smile. “Guess you beat her.”

“I guess I did.” Peter felt his awkwardness start to fade away the more Tony talked. “So…you two are dating?”

He thought he recalled Mary mentioning meeting someone new recently, but he didn’t picture anyone like Tony.  

“I promise, Mr. Parker, my intentions are of utmost purity.” Tony raised his hands up in defense. “I’ll have her home by ten and not a minute later. I’m sure you’ll be waiting here with a shotgun in your lap.”

Peter giggled at that. Tony’s smile widened.

“So, how was debate?” Tony asked, not missing a beat. “Do you guys talk about global warming, Trump, or the first amendment?”

“I wouldn’t know. I’m not in debate club.” Peter explained. “It’s called Decathlon and it’s basically trivia.”

He was going to continue because surprisingly, Tony actually looked interested, but a clattering sound drew his attention.

“Oh, honey!” Peter’s mom emerged from her room wearing jeans and a black top. She ruffled a towel against her wet hair. “I see you’ve met Mr. Stark.”  

*

 “My mom has a new boyfriend.” Peter whispered into the phone before closing his bedroom door. The past hour Peter spent with his mom, eating leftover pasta and helping her with the dishes. Tony left way earlier before that, soon after she emerged from the shower. He promised he’d see her soon and told Peter it was nice to meet him.  

“What?” This got Ned’s attention. “No, what happened to Derek?” Ned sighed. “I really liked Derek.”

Derek really liked Derek, too.  Peter’s mom found Derek at an art gallery, that he co-owned with his friend. He was in his late fifties, wore glasses, was cursed with a receding hairline, and talked too much about wine. He and Peter’s mom dated for six months.

Sure, Derek had his redeeming qualities. He had a sweet French bulldog named Lewis that he often brought over. Peter would let sleep with him in his bed and feed him scraps under the table. Derek also stocked the pantry with sophisticated snacks like artisan crackers and quinoa. Peter never took the time to actually cook the quinoa, but he would sometimes opt out his typical go-to bag of Doritos and reach for the cheesy sourdough squared imported from Belgium. Despite the welcomed presence of a dog and the expansion of his taste palette, Peter wasn’t a fan of Derek. He always seemed uncomfortable when Peter was around for more than five minutes.

He wasn’t mean to him or anything like that, so Peter had no real reason to hate him, but he could have been subtler when he pushed a leash into Peter’s hands and asked him to take Lewis on a long walk. Let’s just say Peter wasn’t devastated when his mom broke up with him a few weeks ago.

“You only liked Derek because he told you that you looked like some famous artist.”

Peter did not miss Derek, but he would be lying if he said he didn’t miss Lewis and waking up in the mornings to his cute snores.

 “You make a good argument.” Peter could hear Ned’s smile in his voice, and just behind that, a familiar creaking sound Peter knew that meant Ned was spinning in his desk chair. “So, what’s this new guy like?”  

“He seems nice.” Peter said after too long of a pause.

“That’s all you’re going to tell me? Come on, Peter. What’s his job? What does he look like?”

 “Something business-y, I think.” That suit was impressive, but it wasn’t just for show. “I don’t know specifics, maybe banking or insurance? I can ask my mom later. He has brown hair and brown eyes-I don’t know. I’m terrible at physical descriptions.” Peter unconsciously turned his right hand over in his lap and with his left hand, ran his fingers over his palm where Tony had shaken his hand. Peter took a breath before speaking, “He seems really sure of himself. Like he knows what he’s doing. He’s confident and charismatic. You can just kind of tell that he’s smart just by talking to him. It sounds weird, but the way he looks at you, it’s like he can see through you. Do you know what I mean?”

“What, like he doesn’t see you?”

The opposite, actually.

“Yeah, something like that.” Peter mumbled back. “Hey, Ned, can we talk tomorrow? If I don’t get some rest tonight, I might actually start hallucinating.”

Ned agreed and they ended their phone call.

 

Peter turned on his back and stared up at the dark ceiling. He shut his eyes, trying to focus on letting go of the loudness in his head. Then he thought about Tony Stark.

 

And suddenly, Peter wasn’t so tired anymore.