Somehow, Peter knew he was different from everyone else even before going into the dumpster fire of humanity everyone calls high school. He’d always known something about the way he felt wasn’t quite right. (No, he thinks, reminding himself, not bad, just… different. Being like this doesn’t mean you’re broken.)
All of this started when he was fourteen, in his first year at Midtown. It was just the small things, people talking about which Avenger they would fuck, how yes, they did jerk off in the school bathrooms, who was hot. Peter just didn’t understand it. Sure, some people did look good, but he’d never really liked anyone because of that. He felt like maybe something inside of him was wrong, broken by the spider bite. It did happen around the same time, and he was nothing if not logical. It was the obvious conclusion.
Other people might have talked to someone, someone they trusted. But how could he? He couldn’t talk about Spider-Man, and if that was why he felt like this, then it would remain his secret. But on nights after he’d patrolled, when he was tired but still couldn’t sleep, or after the frequent nightmares, the forbidden thought enters his mind. What if this is just part of who I am? What if there’s something wrong with me just because I don’t want to have sex?
Eventually he breaks down to MJ, telling her after Aca Dec practice when she’s waiting for her ride. He’s waiting with her, just to feel less alone. And she listens. Throughout that entire time, she never calls him loser, never insults him, never does anything to say that he’s not valid. She’s the first one to throw out the name for this.
“Hey, maybe you’re asexual,” she says, matter of fact, sitting on the steps outside Midtown. Her ride comes to the steps. “Either way, Peter, you’re valid,” she calls out. It’s the first time she uses his first name. And the first time in a while the mental struggle of figuring out who he is stops.
It still takes him a year to finally accept that label, more of throwing around the term in his head thinking, oh hey, maybe that’s me. It takes a year of accidently reading about other aces problems, a year of avoiding it but craving the information he’s getting, each time making him more and more nervous until the dam finally breaks.
But during that year, another thing happens. There’s a guy in his grade, Abe. He’s also on Aca Dec, and Peter is constantly fascinated by him. And then one day, when he says nervously during a game of Fuck, Marry, Kill on a bus to a competition that he doesn’t want to fuck anyone, nervously saying “I think, maybe I’m ace?” that Peter realizes that he likes Abe.
In that moment where MJ says to Abe “Cool. You’re valid,” Peter dreams of dates, just holding his hand, just being with him. It’s what he wants after all. And maybe Abe would date him. He did say that he might date a guy.
So for the next few months, Peter slowly realizes that he’s bi. When May or Tony ask about his crush, he uses he or him. He accepts that he likes guys. He did know a lot of people who are bi or pan. His best friend’s a lesbian, and head over heels in love with Shuri. So he lets them think he’s bi. But eventually the dam bursts and what he’s been denying inevitably has to be dealt with. All it took was one google search, until he got to this website: https://www.asexuality.org/?q=general.html#ex3
He read it, the entire thing. He realized that this label fit him, that there was nothing wrong with this. So he went to talk to May.
“Aunt May? Um, so… “ He cringed, preparing for the worst. “I think I’m asexual?”
She looked at him, like there was nothing different about this.
“Ok. You do know that I’ll larb you no matter what, right? So, where are we going for dinner, I burnt the meatloaf.”
The total acceptance was just what he needed to hear.