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the only room with a view

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"I need your help," Peter says, standing in front of her with all that jittery energy of his, like it isn't a Tuesday morning.

"Then perish," she says and waits for him to remove himself from the front of her locker. He steps aside but doesn't leave. Fantastic.

"Okay, so I was thinking about... well, basically, Aunt May told me I could redecorate my room and I was thinking about adding some like new posters and stuff, classing it up," he explains, tapping his fingers against the locker next to hers while she exchanges the book she finished on the train with the one she plans to start in history.

"And you came to me of course, your friend best suited to give interior design advice," she says.

"No," he says. "Well not exactly. And that's not to say you don't have... incredibly discerning taste."

"Of course not," she says, shutting the locker and walking off. He follows along after her, swerving back and forth to avoid the traffic in the hall. "Who would even suggest something like that?"

"So I was thinking about getting some new things, like pictures and stuff, but then I remembered I'm, like, super broke," he continues. "And I'm, like, thinking about all these things and then I was at the student art show."

"So am I being treated to your full life story, Parker, or are we gonna get somewhere before I'm saved by the bell?" she asks.

"Alright, point is, I saw some of your work and it was like super cool," he says.

Well, shit. "What work?" she asks.

"Your work at the art show," he says. "It was really good. Great stuff."

"I don't know what you're talking about," she says.

"The oil paintings? The ones with your name on them," he says.

"Must be a different Michelle," she says. The bell rings and she stops outside of her history class, not to wait for him or anything, but because she needs to make an entrance.

"Look, as my extremely talented art friend, I was just wondering if I could pay you like fifteen dollars and around forty-three cents for a Michelle Jones original," he says, smiling and looking at her all hopeful with those stupid puppy dog eyes. It's cheating, a dirty move.

"I don't work for anything less than fifteen fifty-seven," she says and walks into class, making a beeline for her seat in the corner before anyone gets ideas.

"Thanks," he calls after her and the dumb thing is she can picture the happy, beaming smile he has pointed at her.

 

"So this painting," she says, because it's been a day and a half and he hasn't brought it up at all.

"Yeah?" he says, perking up immediately, shooting that violently happy grin at her. He sets aside his notebook, all of his attention zeroed in on her.

"Well, I need something to work with, Peter," she says. "Sizes, styles, themes. Unless you just want a giant butt."

"While that would be incredible, I feel like May wouldn't like it," he says, shrugging.

"Haven't answered my question. C'mon dude. Deadlines? Anything?"

"Well..."

"Goddamn it," she says.

"It's nothing, like, weird," he says. "Just... there's this view of the city in downtown Astoria. It's... breathtaking and I... I dunno, I've been trying to get a good picture of it for years and, well, maybe that could work."

"Alright, sure," she says. She doesn't do landscapes often. Or ever really. Kinda hates them. They're just so boring compared to people and the weird things they do with their faces. "A cityscape. Got it. You have a picture I can work from?"

"Well, I mean, yeah, a few but pictures don't really... capture it, you know?" he says, eyebrows scrunching together.

"Alright, then just show me," she says, rolling her eyes.

"Show you?" he echoes, like his brain is still loading.

"Yes, Peter, take me to the place where you see this incredible view with your eyeballs so I can see the view with my eyeballs," she says, shaking her head.

"Show you," he repeats. "Right."

"I kinda have a very busy, very important schedule, but I can pencil you in... Saturday night?" she says. "That work for you? Of course, it does, what are you doing on a Saturday night?"

"Right," he says slowly. "Saturday night."

"Saturday night," she repeats.

"I'll show you," he says.

"Yep," she says. "Now stop being weird, I have a test to study for."

 

She's 95% sure Peter will flake on her. She's been trying not to let the cute things about him, like his eyes and his smile and his hair and just kinda the general Peter-ness, fool her, because he's pretty shady. Always disappearing and ditching practices and flaking on meetings.

So when he actually shows up, she's a little surprised. Not that she'll let him know.

She's rarely caught off guard. It's almost nice, refreshing encounter the unexpected.

"Hey," he says, smiling at her a little nervously.

This is gonna be an interesting night, she can tell. Unexpected. Surprising.

"Hey," she replies. "You're late."

"What?" he says, checking his watch. It's also ridiculous he has a watch, in 2018, with a StarkPhone in his pocket. (She has one too but that'sbeside the point.) "We said 6, right?"

"I said 5:55," she says. "It's now 5:58."

"Oh," he says. "Sorry?"

She waits but he doesn't say anything else, just shift back and forth on his feet, and taps his fingers against his thighs.

"Great view of the city," she says, glancing at the dumpster behind her and the dead pigeon three feet away.

"Do you trust me?" he asks.

"Absolutely not," she replies.

He sighs, raising his eyebrows.

"Alright, could you trust me? For the next five minutes," he asks.

"Hmmm, don't think so," she says. "I need details, Parker. What's up? Am I about to see a dead body? Because I have a contingency plan for things like this if you had given me a little heads up."

"No! Nothing like that!"

"Bummer."

"Michelle," he says, a little whine in the back of his throat. Interesting.

"Yes?"

"Look, just... the view is from the roof of that apartment building over there," he says, pointing to a building across the street that's maybe ten stories tall.

"Yep? And, how exactly do you know what the view from the roof of that apartment building looks like?" she asks. Because again, cute as a button, but super shady.

"Just... I climb up there," he says. "And I was wondering if... well, we would have to climb up there. To see the view."

"Interesting," she says, because yeah, it's pretty interesting. She knew Peter got those muscles from somewhere, but her guess was a science experiment gone wrong not Parkour. "You know I didn't expect this from you, Parker. You're full of little surprises, aren't you?"

"Is that good or bad?" he asks.

"Wouldn't you like to know?" she replies. She shifts her backpack up her back. "Alright."

"Alright?" he repeats.

"Yep. How do we get up there?" she asks.

"Really?" he asks.

"What? You want me to change my mind?" she asks. "Let's go."

"Oh, okay," he says. "Okay, yeah. Let's go."

 

There's just one small issue with climbing to the top of this ten-story building.

"No," she says.

"It's not that bad," he says. "And I promise, it's totally safe."

"What about that looks safe, Peter?" she hisses, crossing her arms over he chest.

"You're not going to fall," he says. "Promise."

"You said there was a fire escape," she says.

"There is," he replies. Yeah, three stories up. Three stories he expects her to climb via windowsills.

"This is a terrible idea," she says. "Like you've had some atrociously bad ideas and this is really up there."

"You're not going to fall," he says, eyes all wide and reassuring like this is something a simple reassurance will cover.

"Where is your proof?" she says. "Because citing movies or TV or what you are able to do with your freakish biceps does not count as credible sources and I'm not going to just take your word for this when I could very well become a smudge on this disgusting sidewalk."

"You're not going to fall because you are awesome and can do anything you want," he says.

"Alright, sound logic but also me being awesome does not change gravity," she says.

"Michelle," he says and leans in a little and whoa.

"What?"

"You're not going to fall," he says. "And if you do, I'm going to be right here to catch you. Promise."

"I thought we established that I don't trust you," she says. Her chest feels tight and her mind is racing and she doesn't know what to do with her hands. He's looking at her again, with that all-consuming urgency and intensity. Peter Parker is the kind of weird enigma of a person who makes a lot of promises and always keeps them.

She thinks it's called being a good person.

"What if I pinkie promise to catch you?" he asks, sticking out his finger. She bats his hand away and steps towards the wall.

"Alright, how do you do this?" she asks.

"I'll give you a boost up and you can climb up to the first window," he says. "And then you can grab onto the second and then just up to the fire escape."

"Jesus," she says.

"It sounds a lot harder than it actually is," he says. "And looks a lot harder. Promise."

"You make a lot of promises, Parker," she says. "You know if I fall and die, I will return from the grave and tell everybody you pushed me."

"Look, if you really don't want to do this, it's cool okay? You don't have to. I know it's a lot," he says, all earnest and gentle.

She reaches up to grab the top of the window. "Alright," she says. "Boost away."

 

It is easier than it looked and sounded, but mostly because Peter is ripped and somehow gets the both of them up to the fire escape while barely breaking a sweat.

It's chill from there on, fast moving too, just scrambling up staircase after staircase until they're at the top. And then he boosts her up over the top of the roof and she climbs up and over and sprawls out on the roof, face down on the warm concrete.

Peter lands next to her and stands up and it's quiet enough up here without all of the city noise that she hears the little hitch in his breath.

It's interesting enough to pull her off the ground. She sits, up, glancing up at Peter, whose hair is all floppy in the wind and whose eyes are all wide and awestruck.

She looks out off the roof where he's looking and almost gasps herself.

Surprises. She didn't expect this many surprises.

But the sun is setting behind the skyline, casting it in shadows, highlighting it in gold. Something in her chest catches, something in her center calming, and going quiet, taking in half of Queens below them and the city in the distance.

It's beautiful, not just the site, but everything beneath it too, everything it says, the million lives and million stories, the metropolis, the all-consuming alure of New York.

It's not like she's never seen the skyline before. But it's never been like this, all quiet and still and majestic.

She finally understands landscapes. Because for a moment the city isn't just a collection of buildings. It's a living, breathing thing, pulsing with energy, radiating confidence and power and so much more.

She glances over at him but he's looking at her, smiling with this energy, this excited joy. She finally understands what tonight is about. It's not really a painting, it's him and what it means to be friends with Peter Parker. She feels like she understands something more about him, another piece to his ever-evolving puzzle.

They're friends.

"I guess I could make this work," she says.

"Yeah?" he asks, grinning.

She shrugs but grabs her backpack from him to get to her sketchbook.

For a while, she just stares at the blank page and then back up at the view. The beautiful flawless breathtaking view. She gets why a picture couldn't do it, because there's so much, too much to possibly capture in a single JPEG. Not to mention a painting.

Peter sits down next to her, letting out a long peaceful sigh. His knees are up against his chest and his chin hooks over his knees and for a second she sees Peter Parker, the little skinny nerd from freshman year who just tried so hard and never gave up and screamed of innocence and goodness and hope.

He looks a lot like that now, small and hopeful and happy.

She takes a breath and starts sketching, tracing out the skyline in careful deliberate strokes.

 

She doesn't really think about it before she's walking up to him at lunch and flicking him on the head and saying, "I need to go back up to the roof."

"Huh?" he asks, rubbing his temple. And good point because really, what is she thinking? She barely survived one trip up to the roof, with all of its weird emotional energy and the view that made her feel things when she's not really supposed to feel things let along sweeping awe-inspired feelings around one Peter Parker and the things floating around in the air when he looked at her and all the subtext she spent too long reading into.

"I need to go back to the roof to finish your stupid painting for your stupid room," she elaborates and then takes her seat over at the table adjacent to his.

"Oh," he says. "I thought you-"

"I got a reference, a sketch. I need more references, for the coloring and stuff," she says, and opens her book and starts reading.

"Oh, okay, cool," he says. "Cool."

"Cool," she echoes.

"So... you free today? After school?" he asks.

"You'll see."

 

"I think this is my third favorite view of the city," he says.

And full-on record scratch, she stops drawing. Gone is the peace and serenity, gone is the reverent silence that always settles over them up here.

"I'm sorry, what?" she asks.

"This is like my third favorite view of the city," he repeats, raising an eyebrow.

"So what you're saying is I risk life and limb every time I come up here, illegally climbing a ten story building because you wanted a painting of your third favorite view of the city?" she asks.

"Um..." he says. "I feel like this is the wrong response from how you're looking at me but... yes."

She throws her pencil at him.

He ducks out of the way and there it goes, over the edge of the roof.

"To be fair I think this was the best option," he says.

She raises an eyebrow.

"Well number two is the Staten Island Ferry but then we'd have to go to Staten Island and I figured you would-"

"Hate that," she says.

"Yep," he says, nodding. "Plus there's only a good view for like fifteen minutes and then you have to wait like a half hour for the next boat back."

"Thirty minutes in Staten Island," she says, shaking her head.

"Yeah, so objectively, climbing up a building is better than that," he says, and he's not wrong.

"What were you doing in Staten Island anyway?" she asks, returning to the picture. She's almost done with the outline of the skyline.

"Um..." he says, suddenly not looking at her, choosing instead to look at anything but.

Filed away as another clue about Peter's shadiness. It makes sense, everything about Staten Island is shady.

"We- I was- Ned and I went to the Staten Island Mall," he says. "To... check out their, uh, comic shop. It has a really cool Star Wars merch collection."

"Really?" she asks.

"Yeah, we never really buy anything though, because it's all so expensive, but... we like to look at it," he explains, smiling stiffly.

"Sure," she says, squinting.

"Yeah," he says, nodding very quickly.

One day, she decides, one day soon she'll fully invest herself into figuring out this whole Peter Parker thing.

Today she turns back to her canvas and ignores the fact that his eyes look extra sparkly in the sunset.

"So what's your favorite?" she asks.

"Huh?" he asks. "Oh, my favorite view."

"Yeah, Peter, your favorite view of the city," she says.

"Top of the Rock," he says.

She snorts. "Really?"

"What?" He gets so defensive so quickly, his voice pitching upwards, his cheeks going red.

"Kinda basic, Peter," she says.

"What? It's really pretty," he says, frowning at her. "And yeah it's kinda crowded sometimes because of all the tourists and it's super expensive so it's not like I can go... ever. But one time I went with May and... Ben, and it was just really amazing and beautiful and you can see all of Central Park and it's really great."

"Alright," she says. "Still basic, but fair enough."

"How about you?" he asks. "What's your favorite view?"

She almost says this one, but nope, no way that's gonna happen.

"There's this one street corner in Greenwich," she says instead. "I think it's one of the weird Broadway intersections downtown. And if you stand on one of the corners you're almost in the middle of the road and you can just look up and down the avenue and see... everything."

"That doesn't count," he says.

"Excuse me?"

"That's a place in the city, not a view of the city," he says.

"Okay, Parker, I'm gonna argue that my view of the city is better than your view of the city because, oh, I dunno, it's actually in the city and not staring at it from a distance."

"The whole point is being from a distance to see everything, see the whole picture," he argues.

"From a distance, you can't see the details," she says. "You can't see the people or hear how alive the city is or feel the ground shaking beneath your feet. You might as well stare at a postcard. Up here, top of the rock, whatever, it's not actually being in New York. You're not actually seeing the city."

"I think you can see just as well from a distance," he says.

"Well, you'd be wrong," she says, tilting her head. His pout wiggles a little and she sees the smile he's fighting back.

"I think the difference is being an actual New Yorker," he says, voice calmer and slower and softer. "Like when all of the tourists are up on the Empire State Building or the Rock and looking down, they aren't seeing New York. They can't see New York, but for me... I know all the details, the people and the sounds and the smell. I know the good and the bad, so sometimes it's nice to just see it from a distance, take it all in."

She rolls her eyes, bumps her elbow into his side. "Sure."

"You know, you can try to sound all sarcastic, but I can see you've been swayed," he says, a small smug grin pulling at his face.

"Whatever," she says, shaking her head. "While you may have validated your argument a little, I'm still not convinced."

"Okay," he says. "Sure, MJ."

The wind picks up a little, throwing her hair into her face. She pushes her bangs back with the back of her hand and shadows in Rock Center.

He kicks his legs out in front of him, leans back on his hands.

"Guess I'll have to prove it to you," he says.

"Yeah, good luck with that."

 

"So basically Kant argues that actions themselves are not morally right or wrong but rather how it contributes to our duty-"

And Peter yawns.

"Sorry!" he yelps. "Sorry, I'm not bored. I'm so completely interested in everything you're saying about... um..."

"Moral imperatives in the age of the internet," she says.

"Right," he agrees, nodding enthusiastically. "Yes! That."

He's blinking super fast and the bags beneath his eyes are looking particularly weighty today. He's paler than usual, his shoulders tense and his arms shaking like he's actually struggling to keep himself upright.

"Continue," he says, waving a hand that's twitching.

"Did you sleep at all last night, Parker?" she asks, shaking her head. She's had self-destructive tendencies filed away next to Peter in her ever-expanding analysis on him since halfway through freshman year.

"Yes," he says, a little indignant, obviously fighting another yawn.

"For more than one REM cycle?"

"Sure," he says. "Yes."

"You know you don't have to come up here with me, right?" she says. "Especially not when you're about to collapse from sleep deprivation."

"'M not about to collapse," he protests, blinking hard. "I'm fine. And besides, I want to be here. You're doing me a huge favor and I don't want you to just... And I need to give you a boost to the fire escape anyway, and I like it up here. With you."

Well, that was almost romantic.

This was terrible.

"Take a nap, Parker," she says.

"But I was listening to you talk about... um, imperatives," he protests.

"I'd much rather save my breath for when you can actually appreciate my incredibly nuanced opinions," she says. "Take a nap."

"Yeah?" He's yawning again, rubbing a hand down his face.

"Yeah," she says. "I'll wake you when I'm packing up."

"Okay," he says, lowering himself slowly to the roof. "Okay. I'll just..."

He curls around himself, into a tight little ball, burrowing his head against his backpack.

"That can't be comfortable," she says, but he doesn't respond just lays there, still as a statue, while his breathing evens out.

She decides it's better like this, maybe without the constant conversations Peter initiates since he can't stand the silence, she can focus all her energy on this painting and make some progress. Because she isn't milking this project for private time with Peter, that's ridiculous, she's just trying to make fifteen dollars.

She even works hard for almost a full half hour before she glances over to look at him.

He's still asleep. His hair sticks up all over the place and his hands are curled in loose fists by his chest. It's weird seeing him calm, quiet, not moving, just a steady, cyclical rise and fall of his chest.

It's kind of nice, just getting to observe Peter for a few minutes without it having to be weird or mean something, get interpreted correctly or incorrectly.

It only takes a few minutes to decide that she doesn't like it. Peter is usually so full of life, always moving or talking, that the absence of that jittery energy making him seem un-Peter.

She turns back to the painting, glancing up at the skyline, the way it stands proud and tall, and gets back to work.

 

Later when she decides to wake him up because the sun has fully set and the streetlights below are flickering on, she pokes at his shoulder until he jolts awake.

He blinks at her a few times, eyes narrowing, runs his hand through his hair like it needs to be messed up any more.

"Michelle," he says, tilting his head towards her.

"Hey, loser," she says. Hopefully she doesn't seem too fond, or hopefully he'll just forget it, write it off as a trick of the eyes. "Rise and shine, it's time to go home."

"Oh," he says. He nods slowly, rubs his knuckles deep into his eye. She rolls her eyes because he's smart enough to know how unhealthy that is. "Okay."

He holds onto her shoulder when he struggles his way up to his feet.

She watches him out of the corner of her eye while he walks over to the edge of the roof, stumbling and stretching out as he wakes back up. For a moment it's just his silhouette against the skyline and something clicks, in her brain and in her chest.

She takes a sweeping look at the city and follows him back down to the ground.

 

He sits down next to her in the library, which is a bold move. She decides to dignify him with a look.

"Hey are you doing anything today?" he asks. “Many incomprehensibly important things I’m guessing. Sorry, I forgot who I was talking to for a second.”

“Don’t let it happen again,” she says, lifting her chin.

“Won’t,” he promises. “Anyway, would you like an additional thing to do today? Because Ned is busy after school and we don’t have decathlon practice. And it’s a Friday, so...”

“So?”

His fingers drum against her table, a complicated rhythm with not rhyme or reason. “Well, we could do something.”

“I’m going to need something more to work with here, Peter,” she says. “It sounds like you’re going to murder me or you’re propositioning me.”

His face goes red in a single second and he splutters, trying desperately to form a sentence.

“It’s neither of those,” he settles on. Which is almost a disappointment since she wouldn’t be opposed to being propositioned, it’s kind of what she’s working towards

“Alright so what is it?” she asks because this is being drawn out enough and she has things to do.

“Well, it’s a surprise,” he says.

“No,” she says. “It’s not. I don’t do surprises.”

“But-“

“Nope,” she says.

"Fine," he says with a sigh, pulling out a brochure from the bottom of his backpack. "May has this Empire Pass thing. She was using it for parking and stuff but it has this discount for the Empire State Buiding. It's not the Top of the Rock but I figure I could still use it as compelling evidence for my argument."

She squints at him for a second, until he starts to fidget in his seat awkwardly.

"So, um, are you free after school?" he asks and flashes her a nervous smile.

 

"I regret everything," she decides, standing a few feet back from the glass wall. Peter doesn't hesitate, just full on leans against it, staring down at the city.

"Don't tell me you're afraid of heights?" he asks, glancing back at her. "You should have said something 86 floors ago."

"First of all, I fear nothing," she says, stepping towards him. "Secondly, my ears are popping and it sucks ass."

"Apologies," he says, not sounding too apologetic. "So... Look at it."

She does, peering down at downtown and midtown and the southern tip of Manhatten. It's a weird angle, the buildings seeming to rise out of the ground towards her. She takes another step closer to the wall, rests her elbow against the railing.

"Hey, I think I can see the Staten Island Mall from here," she says, kicking the side of Peter's foot.

The next wave of tourists are released from the elevators and she gets pressed more firmly against the railing, her shoulder shoved up against Peter's. His hand wraps around her wrist. She thinks it might be so that they don't get separated in the crowd, or maybe it's to comfort her because he has it in his head somewhere that she's afraid of heights, or maybe he's afraid of heights, or maybe he's preemptively holding onto her like she could fall right off the side of the building.

She glances over at him, gathering more information to narrow down her theories, but he's just looking out, eyes sweeping over the metropolis sprawled below.

Something tells her he'd stay here all day if he could.

She clears her throat and he looks over at her, something soft and hopeful written across his face.

"Oh," he says. "C'mon, Central Park is on the other side."

 

"But, like has anyone actually seen Sophie's Choice, because I hear everybody reference it but I've never seen it and I don't even really know what the choice is, just that it was a really hard decision-"

"Peter," she says, narrowing her eyes at him until he shuts up. "This is ridiculous. I just asked you what your favorite building is."

"Which is an impossible choice," he says. "Ridiculous. Like asking me to choose between children. Isn't that Sophie's Choice?"

"You have an unhealthy relationship with the city," she decides, wiping off one of her paintbrushes.

"I have a deep passion for my hometown," he says, bumping his shoulder into hers.

"No, Frank Sinatra has a deep passion for his hometown," she says. "You are obsessed."

"Frank Sinatra was from New Jersey," he says like that's a good enough defense.

"Disgusting," she replies. "But still, obsessed."

"I just... It's my city, you know," he says. "I mean, it's not just mine, but it's still mine. It's home. And it's the greatest city in the world."

"You know, it's far from perfect, Peter," she says. "Corruption, gentrification, all the other -tions."

"I know," he says with a sigh. "I know that it's not perfect, but what is. Besides you of course."

"Gross," she mutters. Because more and more it sounds like he's flirting with her which is just the worst because he never really is.

"It's not perfect," he says softly. "But there're still people like us who care enough to try to make it better. And there's more good out there than bad, I think."

"You're infuriatingly optimistic," she says. "And you still haven't answered my question."

"It's a ridiculous question!" he says. "What's your favorite building?"

"Flatiron," she replies.

"What?" he demands, gaping at her.

"It's so aggressively stubborn," she says. "Somebody was like, hey we have this dumb block that's literally just a weird triangle, let's just building a triangle building. I respect that."

"You're so weird," he says, staring at her with a goofy smile, shaking his head.

"Sure, I'm weird," she says, rolling her eyes. "Are we going to circle back to your inability to decide between hunks of concrete?"

 

"Done," she says, rolling her shoulders out.

"Huh?" he asks.

"I'm done," she says. "With the painting."

"Oh," he says. "Really?"

"I mean, yeah," she says, standing up, brushing her hands off on her pants. "I dunno, it's not my best work. The perspective is all off and I'm usually better at shadowing."

"Whoa," he says, glancing over at the canvas. "It's amazing."

It's really not. Doesn't even come close to capturing the skyline the way it is in front of her.

"It's okay," she decides. A part of her wants to try again. A part of her just wants more excuses to come up here.

"It's... Michelle, it's incredible. I..." He's gaping just a little, eyes darting between the painting and her like he can't decide what he'd rather be looking at. "Thank you."

She shrugs.

"I literally have never seen anything so amazing ever," he says. He jumps to his feet, digging a hand in his pocket and pulling out a bunch of crumpled bills. "Jeez, I only have like twelve bucks right now, but... do you want my debit card because... Jesus, I don't think fifteen bucks covers it."

"Keep it," she says, stepping back when he tries to place the money in her hand.

"But-" he starts, stepping forward again.

"Really. Don't worry about it," she says, shaking her head. "Just don't expect anything for your birthday."

"MJ," he protests, holding out the cash instantly.

She steps back again, jolting a little when her ankles hit the edge of the roof. She teeters for a moment, pinwheeling her arms in an attempt to keep her balance, not fall off this roof and die. She's not doing a particularly good job, feels a lurch in her stomach and sees the absolute mess she's gonna make on the street and the terrible trauma Peter will have to deal with.

Just as she starts to tip though something sticky closes around her wrist and she's yanked forward, crashing into Peter.

His arms go around her immediately, crushing her into a tight hug that's surprisingly soft for how goddamn muscular he is.

She hugs him back without thinking and examines the white web connecting her wrist to a science-y contraption on Peter's.

Oh.

Yeah, that checks out. That actually explains a lot, everything pretty much.

"Oh my God," he breathes. "Oh my God, are you okay?"

She buries her nose against his shoulder.

"Well I didn't fall, so yeah," she says. His heart is pounding against her chest. Or maybe her heart is pounding inside her chest. Something is pounding for sure in the vicinity of her chest.

Peter has one hand on the small of her back and one buried in her hair and she feels very warm.

"Michelle," he says, breathless, right in her ear.

"Jesus, Parker, do you have those things on you all the time because you're just asking to be caught," she says, shaking her head.

"I promised I wouldn't let you fall," he says, staring at her, his eyes wide with fear and relief and something more. His face is so close to hers.

She nods, answering the questions he’s not asking.

It takes almost no effort to lean forward and brush her mouth against his. And then they’re kissing and she really feels like she’s falling, the pit of her stomach jumping up to her throat, immediately drowning in soft slide of his mouth against hers, the way he keeps pulling back and moving back in.

She digs her fingers into his shoulders, trying to keep him in place. His arm slips fully around her waist, pulling her in tight.

She keeps forgetting how to breathe so pulling away becomes an imperative as disappointing as it is. She keeps her eyes closed for an extra moment, her forehead pressed against his, because holy crap, that was something.

“You’re doing a terrible job of discouraging me from falling off rooftops,” she says. “By the way. If this is the kind of reaction I get.”

She opens her eyes and he’s just staring at her in something like disbelief.

He’s kissing her again, after a moment, his nose digging into her cheek, his hand running circles on the back of her neck.

“Please don’t fall off any more rooftops,” he mutters against her lips.

“I think you’re gonna have to be a little more convincing, Parker,” she says, raising an eyebrow.

“You’re the worst,” he says, but kisses her again. And again. And again. The sunset and the skyline behind them like this is some ridiculous rom com.

She’s surprisingly okay with it.