Everything had finally calmed down since Mysterio had outed Peter as Spider-Man. It had taken the whole summer and into the middle of September, but it was finally done. After the Final Battle, and the deaths of Tony, Natasha and Steve, The Accords were null and void. With the help of the better Ross, who was now in charge of the Enhanced Division, Pepper, Rhody, Sam, Scott, and surprisingly Bucky, they were able to come up with a new set of laws surrounding the New Avengers and the government. Most important was the stipulation stating that any person with enhanced abilities, or individual weaponry (like the Iron Man armour), was not required to sign the document, or reveal their identity until age 21. During this time as long as they were under supervision from an official New Avenger, they were allowed to continue “Superheroing” as they did before.
Peter was ecstatic. Not because this meant he wasn’t a fugitive, or even because he could still be Spider-Man. No. He was ecstatic because this meant he could go back to school.
Well, he was ecstatic at first.
Then he remembered he would have to deal with Flash, and Brad, who was now also in the picture, and every single other student staring at him. He couldn’t go back to being Peter Parker, the nerd. A nice and friendly guy who mostly kept to himself. There would no longer be quiet lunches with his best friend Ned, and his recent girlfriend, MJ. He couldn’t even imagine what this would mean for Flash’s constant teasing or the decathlon team.
But most dreadfully, he had no idea what he was going to do about gym class.
Before his identity was revealed, he had carefully constructed a way in which to deal with it. Either change in the bathroom stall or wait until everyone left the locker room. Make sure to wear the long-sleeved uniform that’s at least two sizes too big. Put in just enough effort to maintain an “A” and not have to repeat any of the Presidential Fitness Exam. But not too much effort where he would stand out from his previous nerdy, clumsy, unathletic self, and be forced to sign up for teams because Coach Wilson saw “potential”. It had worked perfectly.
Now, everyone, including Coach Wilson knew that it was all bullshit. That he was holding back. No, he wasn’t just holding back. He wasn’t even trying.
All of this cumulated to now. Where he was currently standing in front of the gym doors of the school, staring blankly ahead, unable to move.
It wasn’t until Ned tapped on his shoulder that he even realized that he had been standing next to him for the past 5 minutes.
Peter had spent most of the day being bombarded with questions, or people trying to thank him because Spider-Man had saved them, or their uncle, or their uncle’s second cousin’s friend, all while he swerved to get to his next class. Where he would continue to act as if nothing had changed.
Thankfully, while the rest of the school had been pestering him with questions or staring at him in awe; his classmates weren’t doing any of that once inside the classroom. Apparently, they had enough respect for Spider-Man to give Peter a little sense of normalcy.
MJ had even scheduled a decathlon meeting during lunch so he wouldn’t be too overwhelmed on his first day back. Thank God for her. And it became all the more fun when he realized he was able to hit the buzzer using his reflexes without worrying if anyone thought it was too fast.
Flash and Brad still looked at him weirdly, but everyone else, Cindy, Betty, Charles, Sally, Abe and the others all just looked at him with a smile, silently giving him their support. Their own nerdy, overly excited, puppy-dog eyed, Peter Parker, was an actual Superhero with a capital ‘S’.
He looked around and realized how much he trusted these people. So, when MJ didn’t have anything else planned for the second half of the period, he stood up and allowed them to ask him questions.
There were the normal questions, “how did you get your powers?”, “what’s it like to be a superhero?”, “do the webs come from inside you?”
But then they started to ask questions like, “was it weird having to battle Liz’s dad?” or “we saw Spider-Man was on the ship that went to space, what was that like?”
What he didn’t expect is how quickly they backed down when they realized those topics were starting to make him really anxious. Or how they didn’t make a big deal of it, instead Sally opted to ask if he could summon spiders. Leading to a fun answer that ended up with him telling a story about Scott and some incidents involving ants literally in pants.
Feeling safe, he even allowed his Spider-Man persona to bleed through. Becoming a little bit of a snarky chatter-box, instead of his usual nervous chatter-box; and it was kind of fun. He started to think, for the first time since he was outed, that he might actually be able to handle this whole ‘public identity’ thing.
The rest of the day came a little easier with that in mind.
But now it was gym class.
And every positive feeling he had about his public identity went out the window. Suddenly wishing he could swing out the window too. He even briefly considered still changing in the bathroom stalls like he normally did, before remembering how gross they are.
He slowly took a step forward and walked into the ‘Lion’s Den’, otherwise known as the men’s locker room. He’s not ashamed of his body and he needed to get over the anxiety of people looking at him at some point. And now was as good a time as any. But as soon as he took off his shirt to change, he decided that this had been a bad idea. Like a really bad idea.
He wished he had a neuralyzer from Men in Black so he could make them all forget about seeing him. Screw the fact that the bathrooms are disgusting he would prefer that over this. If he thought the stares in the hallway or classroom were bad, this was a whole other level. It was as if no one had ever seen an 8 pack on a nerd before.
“Holy shit Parker!”
“Jesus Christ, are you kidding me?”
“We knew you were Spider-Man but what the hell?”
“Yeah, I'm definitely gay.”
Yeah. This was a bad idea.
Peter smiled sheepishly, put on his gym shirt as quickly as possible and speed-walked out of the locker room.
Ned had stayed behind, amused. He still had to change, having been too caught up with the hilarious reactions of his classmates to do so earlier. He had been standing beside Peter all day, giving him his support and pushing people out of the way so he could get through, making sure it never got to be too much.
But this. This was fun. And he was going to make sure Peter knew it too.
His classmates had turned to him, being Peter’s best friend, they were waiting for some sort of response. “You’ve seen what Spider-Man what can do; what did you think he was going to look like?” He shrugged his shoulders before changing himself and going to join Peter in the gym.
Everyone kind of nodded and looked down, still shocked, before changing themselves. They all exited the locker room realizing, ‘yeah we’ve seen what Spider-Man can do’ and coming to the same conclusion as Ned had. Gym class was going to be fun.
While everyone gathered in the middle of the gym waiting for Coach Wilson to start, Peter realized that every single girl (even Cindy who was an out and proud lesbian), and some of the guys still, were staring at him. Like more than they had been during the rest of the day.
At first, he thought that he might have accidentally walked out without a shirt on. Which let’s be honest, he wouldn’t put past himself. But then he remembered that instead of wearing one of the XXL long-sleeved gym shirts he usually wore, he had decided that he didn’t need to hide anymore and was wearing one of his old ones again.
Now, one wouldn’t think that this would be that big of a deal. But after the body transformation, he forgot that his old shirts would be just a little bit snug. Meaning that the outline of his abs could clearly be seen, and his biceps bulged against the arms of the shirt. And apparently, crossing them out of discomfort, only made it worse.
How had he not felt that the shirt was too tight? Well honestly, from the rush of trying to cover up in the locker room, having any type of clothing on felt a little tight. But he thought that was just his anxiety, not the fact that the shirt was actually tight.
So yeah. They were staring. Even MJ was eyeing him up and down looking at him like he was a whole snacc, biting her lip just a little… and well okay her staring he didn’t mind. The other boys, however, the ones who weren’t staring, refused to look him in the eyes. As for everyone else, well, he guessed if he saw a guy looking the way he did in this shirt, he probably would be staring too.
After what felt like an hour, but had probably only a minute, Coach Wilson came in. But something was off. Instead of Coach’s usual grumpiness, Peter realized he seemed a weird mix of pissed and pleased. It was only when he looked right at him that he realized why.
“So, Peter, you’ve been holding out on us.”
So that’s what it was. Peter took a big gulp, and grimaced, while the rest of the class just snickered. Save for Ned and MJ of course.
“I expect you to perform to your full capabilities today. Give it your all, I want to see you sweat.” He raised his eyebrows at Peter, who swore there was somehow more snickering. “Capiche?”
Coach Wilson turned back to the rest of the class. “Alright everyone, today is testing day.” Now, normally if they heard these words everyone would groan and be pissed off. But he guessed everyone was willing to go through it themselves, if only so that they could watch Peter, because everyone seemed to perk up.
He wanted to find a way to do this where Peter could do what he was capable of, everyone could watch, and Peter wouldn’t feel like he was on a stage. And these had to be able to happen all at once. Wow.
It was another moment before he came up with a plan, and to be honest it was fairly simple. “Okay, everyone come and make a circle. We’re starting with sit-ups which each person will do for one minute. Girls, the minimum average is 30 and excellent is 42 so stop there, no reason to do any more than that. For guys, the minimum is 38 and excellent is 50, stop there as well.” He looked at Peter again, “Peter you can go last and just do as many as you can until I call for everyone to stop. Go.”
MJ ended up joining Ned and Peter, and Coach Wilson didn’t even try to argue with her. He knew there was no point.
As they were walking over to the mats Ned looked at him with a realization. “You're not going to be able to sweat from this even if you put ‘your all’ into it, are you?”
Peter chuckled nervously. “No. I'm not. But the number of sit-ups I do will hopefully be enough to convince Coach Wilson that I ‘put my all’ into it.”
Ned had gone first, and when Coach called “switch”, MJ refused to go because it was ‘barbaric.’ So, now it was his turn. But when Ned went to put his hands onto his feet to hold him down, Peter stopped him telling him he didn’t have to do that.
Ned just looked at him quizzically before Peter explained, “I'm sticky. Remember?”
MJ, who was sitting on the mat next to them reading, huffed, which was as close to a real laugh as she was going to give while in public. She then looked at Peter with a small smile before turning back to her book.
Once Peter hit 50 sit-ups after only 30 seconds, Ned decided to keep counting in his head; he didn’t need to completely bruise his ego. And when Coach called the minute mark telling everyone to come to give him their scores, he also told Peter to keep going. So, while Ned went up to tell Coach his score, MJ took over counting. And when Coach called time for Peter about two minutes later, Peter hadn’t even needed to stop once, he had had no trouble breathing (proven by the fact that he had talked non-stop while doing said sit-ups), and not a drop of sweat was to be found on his forehead. Peter didn’t even know how many sit-ups he had done.
When they met back in the middle Coach looked to Peter asking him how many he had done so he could write it down, Peter had to look to Ned and MJ to answer for him. Peter didn’t like that he would have to announce to the whole class what his stats were, but what could he do?
Coach Wilson had told him, “I’m making a separate chart of how you test today as a basis for your gym routine, which we will probably have to make separate from the rest of the class. And I'm not going to wait for you to personally come up to me and whisper it in my ear so you’re just going to have to say it aloud.” It sounded like bullshit, but Peter was not in the mood to argue with a teacher.
Yeah what he told Peter was bullshit. The chart actually had nothing to do with the gym routine, Coach Wilson was just fascinated. And maybe wanted to knock a few people *cough* Flash and Brad *cough* down a peg. Sue him, he was a Spider-Man fan.
“Ned, how many did Peter do?” Coach Wilson asked as Peter had yet to answer.
“um…” Ned paused to look at Peter, waiting for his approval to tell him. MJ had told Ned how many Peter did. Peter looked at Ned and nodded slightly knowing that however many it was, it was going to be a high number, and he was going to be embarrassed no matter what. There was no point in making a fuss and trying to get out of it.
Ned turned back to the Coach to respond. “Peter did 327 sit-ups, sir.” He maintained a straight face as if it wasn’t a big deal. Which, Coach Wilson realized, that maybe to them it wasn’t.
But to everyone else, well there was a reason the room was so quiet you could hear a pin drop.
“I’m sorry you said 327?” (For 3 minutes of sit-ups that’s about two per second in case anyone was wondering). Coach Wilson whipped his head up from his notebook. He looked back at Ned. Then he looked at Peter, who he realized wasn’t even sweating. Jesus Christ, he knew the numbers were going to be different, but this was… he didn’t know what this was. Was 327 even hard for him? If he kept going until he was tired how many could he do? Or would they have to stop because he never got tired?
“Yes, sir. 327.” Ned replied, now with a smile. ‘Yeah suck on that!’ he thought, he was finally getting to show off that his best friend was Spider-Man.
Everyone was staring at Peter while whispering to each other in awe. They had all seen Spider-Man from far away. They knew that Spider-Man didn’t get his powers from the suit. And they now knew that Peter was Spider-Man. But it hadn’t truly hit any of them until now that that meant that Peter Parker, even without the suit, had powers.
Coach Wilson had to cough loudly, one to get the words that were caught in his throat out, and two to get everyone’s attention again. He was now all the more excited to continue with testing, and it looked like so was everyone else.
Except for Peter. Peter had already thought gym class would be bad but now he started to really resent it. He had thought that Coach Wilson’s reasoning for him having to say his score aloud was fishy enough, to begin with. But that, coupled with the fact that he made Peter keep going after everyone was done, and now, after seeing Coach Wilson’s reaction, he realized that “testing day” wasn’t a coincidence. He didn’t tell Peter to “give his all” just because he knew he could do more. They just wanted to watch him. He was a lab experiment.
Peter groaned quietly, and Ned could tell he was nervous and that something was off. He turned to face him fully and put his hands on his shoulders to steady him. He knew what Peter was going to say before he even had a chance to.
“Dude ignore everyone else in the room. Remember when the Avengers were testing what you could do? Because they were excited? Coach Wilson is a gym teacher, so having Spider-Man in his class is probably making him just as excited as they were, if not more. It’s basically a gym teacher’s wet dream.” Peter chuckled and was starting to calm down, so Ned kept going.
“You are not a lab experiment. Everyone in our class has been respectful. They’re excited but look around. No one is overwhelming you. Even when they’re overwhelmed because you just did 327 sit-ups without breaking a sweat. This might be a much smaller level of training, but it’s still training. So, do it because you love it, because you trust them, and because they respect you. Have a little fun.” Peter took a calming breath, looked at Ned, and he knew he got him.
“Okay, okay. Let’s have a little fun then.” Peter turned to Coach Wilson giving him a nod and a smile.
Coach Wilson had faltered a bit when he saw Peter’s reaction. He realized that doing “training day” just to see what Peter could do might have gone a little too far. If Peter was really uncomfortable with this, he wasn’t going to go through with it. He wasn’t going to put a student in a position like this if they were not on board with it. He’s not a monster.
But Peter’s nod after talking with Ned was all the go-ahead he needed. He continued right from where he left off, hopefully showing Peter that he was going to make this as normal for him as possible; even when the reasoning was abnormal.
“We are continuing testing with jumps, push-ups, pull-ups, and the sit and reach. We’re going to finish up the day with free weights, and the next class will be sprints and the mile.”
Next up is jumps. Line up along the side of the gym standing an arms-width away from the person next to you. You can take 3 steps back before jumping. Once either of your feet hit the ground, you must stay in the spot you landed, no cheating. 7-10 feet would give you excellent on the fitness exam.”
And well, Peter had decided to have fun, after all, so he interrupted with a cheeky grin,
“Excuse me, Coach?”
“Yes?” He thought Peter might be telling him that he was uncomfortable, but then he saw his grin.
“Are we allowed to do flips mid-jump? And what is the distance of the entire gym?”
Coach didn’t even dignify that with a response, but boy he was glad that Peter had decided to have fun, “1…2…3… go!”
Everyone jumped, someone even landing right underneath the basketball hoop. Peter, however, had stood still. He waited until everyone was done and their distance was measured. Then he closed his eyes.
Taking a second to get himself into “Spider-Man mode” as he liked to call it. Where this kind of stuff was just second nature.
A second later, without a running head-start, he jumped.
Well, you couldn’t even call it a jump. It was more like a catapult, as he soared across the gym, somersaulting mid-air before ending up at the opposite end of the room with a flawless landing. It was like watching some sort of acrobatic ballet. And as impressive as it was, it was even more so beautiful.
Peter loved it. He forgot where he was and was just focused on the freeing feeling he felt when he did stuff like this. No stress, no stiffness in his body, just gliding across the floor, weightless.
Peter may have been training with Sam and Bucky and improving his web fluids in the lab, but he had yet to go back out as Spider-Man. And training with Sam and Bucky was hard, they held onto him with a short leash. He hadn’t been able to do the “fun part” of having these enhancements since right before he was outed more than 3 months ago.
He landed, exhaling a big breath, letting go of all the stress of the past few months with it. Then he turned around to face the class with that blinding, contagious smile of his. When they looked at him, everyone understood that this kind of stuff is what Peter does on the daily. That it’s what brings him the most joy. Second maybe only to building Legos with Ned or being with MJ. They realized that as much as they missed having Spider-Man, Peter had missed being Spider-Man more.
It was at this point that everyone decided to give up pretending like they were training instead of wanting to see what Peter could do. They were still going to test beside him so he wouldn’t feel like he was on a stage as a performer. But without talking, they all collectively decided that they wanted to give Peter a safe space to be and feel like himself again. Abilities and all.
“Nice moves, Billy Elliot!” Flash shouted as Peter sauntered back to the group.
During decathlon practice, Flash had apologized privately for all the hurt he had caused Peter; even thanking him for what happened in D.C two years ago (well technically 7 even if they both ‘snapped’. Doesn’t matter). However, while he accepted that this safe space was what Peter needed, he had also decided that he would tease Parker again. Not like he used to, to the point where Peter would feel so put down that it was bullying. Nor to the point where Flash would feel guilty for treating his favourite Avenger with disrespect. But just enough teasing to give him a similar sense of normalcy like the one that they had given to him in the classroom.
Everyone turned to Flash with mixed faces of anger and annoyance. But Peter just made eye contact with him, nodded slightly and smiled, with Flash giving him a nod in return. Everyone then realized what Flash was doing for Peter. Not everything had to change.
MJ and Ned hugged him when he came back to the group. They were finally getting their friend back.
Coach Wilson gave them that moment before moving on. “Alright class,” he garnered their attention once again, “we’re moving onto the push-ups. Girls the minimum for passing is 12 and 35 is excellent, so once again stop at that point. For guys, the minimum is 20, excellent 56. After that, Peter, if you’re okay with it I can just call out different challenges to the push-ups?”
“Yeah, okay, sounds fun!” Peter responded, smiling, still riding a bit of the high from the jump. Plus, he loved training and had already decided to have fun. So yeah, it really did sound fun.
Peter finished his push-ups before anyone was even halfway done. They weren’t normally so slow; it was just taking everyone a little longer because they kept stopping to get a look at Peter. Whom they noticed still hadn’t broken a sweat.
Once they had all gone up to Coach Wilson to tell them how many they had done, everyone had come over to him. He thought that it would be too much, but they gave him just enough space where he didn’t feel trapped.
Coach Wilson didn’t actually know how many to make him do, or how long it would take him to do them, so he decided it was easier to just give him a time limit. He decided to tell him to do 30 seconds for each challenge.
“Inside shoulders.” 65 push-ups; done.
“Outside shoulders.” 63 push-ups; done
“Triangle.” 67 push-ups; done.
“Right arm only.” 60 push-ups; done.
“Left-arm only.” He had ‘only’ done 55 as Peter had put it ‘because he was a righty’; as if doing 55 left-arm only push-ups in 30 seconds needed an excuse.
“Handstand.” Peter smiled and Coach Wilson swore he heard him whisper “these are my favourite ones”, like what? 67 push-ups; done.
“Jesus Christ,” he exasperated.
Peter whispered “language” and chuckled to himself as if he had an inside joke with himself.
“You need a break Peter?” he shook his head. “Okay, everyone let’s sit down. Sit and reach. Let’s go.”
Everyone had waited until he came around with the measuring tape to do their reach so they would only have to hold it for as long as it took him to measure. But Peter just sat there with his arms looking like they were one foot in front of him, with no strain. In fact, he looked calm, it was kind of creepy.
Peter wasn’t elastic so it’s not like his arms didn’t have a limit to how far they could reach. But Spider-Man’s flexibility obviously came into play with the lower part of his torso leaning over his feet, and the entire length of his arms draped forward, while his butt was still on the floor. That part he was confused about.
“Peter, I understand you’re flexible but how are you keeping your butt on the floor?”
“Um… the walking on walls and buildings isn’t the suit, it’s me. At first, I thought it was just my arms and feet, but I slowly figured out that I could apply it to my entire body. I’m sticky, sir.” (I know this part is true in canon with the comics or movies, but I thought it would be cool/fun)
Everyone started to laugh, and Peter even ended up joining in.
He didn’t know what to respond with, so he just measured, “32 inches.” Coach Wilson thought that eventually during class he would stop being surprised with what Peter could do. Now he just accepted that every single test was going to surprise him.
“We’re moving onto pull-ups. We only have the one bar so we’re doing one at a time. For girls the minimum average is… okay, it’s only 1, and excellent is 3. For guys, the minimum average is 6, excellent is 13. Peter, your time limit is 1 minute.”
He had told himself that he wasn’t going to be surprised anymore. And yet, when Peter did 135 pull-ups, he was speechless. Even more unnerving was the fact that Peter barely looked tired and had maybe 3 drops of sweat on his forehead.
But they still had 10 minutes left of class and only free weights left, which meant testing was over. Hell, everyone knew that unless you really liked lifting weights, “free weights” meant hang around for 10 minutes.
Now everyone knew that Spider-Man was strong. They had all seen Spider-Man lift enormous things off of him and throw heavy items at villains/aliens or whatever the monster of the week was. But how much of that was adrenaline? What did he normally lift when training? The dumbbells went up to 150lb for each arm, and the bench press went up to 500lb (this was a science school he had NO idea why it was so much), but he also had no idea what that would mean for Peter.
Those who were lifting, needed to trade off the weights, as many of them lifted the same weight. Except for Peter who just went up and grabbed the 150lbs without question, as if there was no doubt that he would be able to lift them. And everyone dropped what they were holding as they saw Peter lift them like they were feathers.
It was at that moment that Coach Wilson gave up on trying to make him sweat. He wasn’t even sure that this was “his all” any more.
Peter put them down, turned to him and casually asked with a straight face, “if testing, is that considered 150lb each arm, or 300lb total?” Everyone laughed again, but they all still had that sparkle in their eyes.
Even Flash was impressed, and yes a little bit jealous. But as much as Flash liked to one-up Peter, he knew this was not an area he could do that in; because as strong as he was, he was not enhanced. Flash's common sense about the maximum amount of weight he could lift, and his desire to keep himself safe, outweighed any feelings of a bruised-ego or jealousy.
Brad's common sense, however, did not. He was done with pretending he was okay with the revelation that Peter was Spider-Man. Bitter, that after Peter was outed, the sketchy things he did got excused. Like when he reminded them about the strange woman Peter was naked with in the middle of Europe, everyone said it probably had to do with Spider-Man's new suit. Which he vehemently denied, even though it was probably true. Or when he told them that his picture of it on his phone mysteriously disappeared, which he was convinced that Peter had somehow gotten rid of using Stark tech, he disregarded everyone telling him that he had probably done it to protect his identity. But mostly, he was jealous that he had lost MJ to Peter, ignoring the fact that MJ isn’t a property he can “lose.”
Brad instead decided to act upon the feelings of his bruised ego, allowing them to outweigh his self-preservation instincts. He was done with everyone revering Peter. So, while everyone was distracted with Peter being cheeky, Brad set up the bench press to the maximum 500lb.
Peter then started to feel a tingle on the back of his neck. It wasn’t an 'alien invasion' warning or even a 'low-level villain' warning, but it was still big enough that he perked up to attention. He looked around trying to figure out what was happening and saw it when he looked at Brad.
“Seriously, guys these weights are here for a reason because normal people can lift them,” Brad announced, agitated, as he sat down and started to lift the bench press, that everyone, including Peter, quickly realized was set to the maximum weight.
Peter didn’t have enough time to run over to where Brad was to stop him or to grab the bar. There was only one thing he could do. He tapped his watch and hoped that his web-shooters would come out quickly enough so that he could pull the bench press that Brad was about to drop on himself towards him. He also needed to catch it without smashing it into the gym walls or hitting anyone else.
His heart was pounding. As much as he didn’t like Brad, no one deserved to have 500lb dropped on them, especially when they didn’t have enhanced healing. Just as Brad’s arms were in the midst of giving out, he webbed the bar and pulled it towards himself and upwards as he jumped and landed on the ceiling.
He held onto the bar with one hand as he jumped back to the floor and walked over towards Brad to put it back on the stand, and to yell at him about how stupid that was.
“Brad, what was that?! You could have seriously hurt yourself! Even if you could lift 500lb, which I know for a fact you can't and don't try to pretend you can; because no one who can lift that is stupid enough to do it without someone spotting them. If I hadn’t had my sense warning me what was about to happen, you would have had 500lb dropped on you! And all to what? Try and impress people? Somehow prove that you’re stronger than someone with enhanced abilities?”
Peter hadn’t realized that he was still holding onto the bar with one hand. But everyone else had. And looking at this kid, who didn’t even realize he was holding 500lb in one hand, Brad realized that without Peter he could have been seriously injured. His stupidity could have cost him dearly.
“You’re right,” he conceded. “Thank you for, ya know saving me. Also, you’re still holding onto the bar, if you want to put it down.” Peter looked down, and took a breath calming himself down and started to chuckle,
“Oh, didn’t even realize, oops,” he remarked as he casually placed it back on the stand.
"Oops?" he heard someone whisper in disbelief towards his attitude.
“And if you do want to work on bench pressing or increasing what you can lift, I can help you out, or at least spot you.” Peter hadn’t wanted to make Brad feel too bad or be too embarrassed.
“That would be great, thanks,” Brad replied. Grateful, even if a little pissed, as he realized that Peter didn’t get his kindness and need to help others from Spider-Man, but rather it was the other way around. Spider-Man had those qualities because that’s who Peter was.
Coach Wilson was looking on and felt immense guilt flood over him. He was so focused on Peter and what he could do that he wasn’t paying attention to all his other students, and one of them just almost hurt himself.
Flash was the one who took him out of his trance. “Peter, you just held onto 500lb with one hand and didn’t even realize it. You are also barely tired, but it looks like it is mostly because you were nervous about what just happened. And you have about 5 drops of sweat on your forehead.”
“Yeah… and?” Peter didn’t know where this was going.
“What do you normally lift in your regular training?”
Oh, so that’s where it was going. He should have known.
“Like my warm-up? Or when doing intense training?”
Everyone was back to being excited about learning more about what Peter could do. They were even more intrigued when Peter who had been happy and excited to participate in today’s gym class, suddenly went back to his sheepish, nerdy, self (or was that his alter ego?).
Peter rubbed the back of his neck with his hand, his nervous tick, and then MJ came over to him.
“Peter you know you don't have to answer if you don't want to. I mean everyone’s already impressed and you don't have to tell them your limits if you fear there could be some kind of negative repercussions.” Peter looked at her with a raised eyebrow, this honest open emotion thing from her was a little out of character. “But whatever, loser, it’s up to you.” There she is.
Her and Ned, his Spidey Protection Squad, as they had dubbed themselves, would be there for him always. And these were his classmates, there's no threat from them. Maybe he could even take them to the gym at the tower to teach them self defence. Since they’re going to be around him for long periods of time, he wants them to be protected. There was no reason to hide.
“Um… I usually start at around 10 and go up to my max of 25 on intense training days.”
Oh. He had figured that since 500lbs was obviously nothing, that if he said 25, they would understand. But apparently, they were in denial until he spoke the words aloud.
“Tons. 25 tons.”
For the third time that day you could hear a pin drop.
“Flash, do not finish that word.” Coach Wilson had finally found his voice again.
“So,” Coach Wilson started, “when it looked like 500lb was just a regular-sized rock in your hand, that’s because it was.”
“Um yes, sir.”
“And when I said I wanted you to give your all, and sweat today, you knew you would not actually be able to do that.”
“Um, yes sir. You don't have the correct equipment or combat partners for me to actually be able to do that,” he replied sheepishly.
“So that’s why your body looks like that,” Betty spoke up.
That broke the tension. It was easy to do that. They were some of the smartest teenagers in the city, meaning they were geniuses, but not too physically inclined. They were easily impressed and friends with a freaking superhero whose alter ego was their nerdy decathlon team member and classmate.
“Hahaha yeah, I guess. But I mean, after the accident that caused this to happen, I just woke up with this body and then found out I was able to do these things. The body came first, the abilities came with it.”
“And I thought I was as jealous as I could be.” Abe looked at him, a mix of seriousness and teasing. “Where can I sign up?”
Everyone laughed, thinking the exact same thing.