Peter is asexual. He knows it, it’s who he is, and he is confident that this word perfectly explains why he feels so different from everyone else.
However, there is one slight hiccup:
Tony is the only other person who knows.
May doesn’t know, Ned, not even his girlfriend, MJ, has a clue that he is so different. The biggest reason why his hero, of all people, knows is because the man asexual himself.
So Tony gets it...but the teen knows no one else will.
Peter could tell them, he’s thought about telling them so many times...but the timing never feels right. He’s already awkward, and bringing this up would just make things even more awkward.
But honestly, is him coming out to his best friend any more awkward and uncomfortable than hearing said best friend go on and on and on about his newfound love life with Betty?
Probably not, but the spiderling still can’t work up the courage to say it.
The two friends are sitting at a table in an ice cream shop and just finished the last of their cones. Ned continues his conversation in thankfully not a lot of detail about how “wonderful” sex is, “Seriously, Peter, I don’t know how I went my whole life without it, it’s like paradise.”
Peter finds himself fidgeting with one of his sleeves, “Uh-huh...that’s-that’s great, Ned, that’s really great.” He manages to smile with his mouth closed as a form of silent support. He then asks with curiosity, “And Betty, she, uh-she likes it too?”
“Oh yeah, dude,” Ned pauses to seductively wiggle his eyebrows, “Oh yeah.”
Oh my God, why the eyebrow wiggling?
The other teen’s voice unconsciously goes up a couple of octaves, “Oh…awesome.”
They’re both consenting, non-asexual teenagers, get a grip, Parker.
Ned seems to sense that his friend isn’t “checked in” to the conversation but he takes it the wrong way, “Oh sorry, didn’t mean to bore you, you probably know all about this stuff already.”
Peter’s eyes start to widen in surprise but he immediately gets them back to normal to keep from showing how shocked he is, “Well, um...uh...well -”
The other seventeen-year-old’s eyebrows raise in surprise, “Wait, you and MJ haven’t done anything?”
The young hero’s fidgeting on his sleeve increases, “Well, no, we’re just...taking it slow.”
“You guys have been dating for like what, a year? More than a year? That’s not slow, that’s like the speed of an actual sloth, what gives?”
How ‘bout mind your own damn business, Ned?!
Peter shrugs, “Nothing, we’re just...we like things the way they are, we’re having fun. MJ’s great and we’re just...not in a hurry.” He concludes with a short but nervous giggle.
He’s not lying about that; they are having fun and she has been great. He has lived for their movie dates, holding hands while walking to class, watching the sunset while sitting on the roof of a building, surprising her at the food court she works at, and those study dates that always turn into makeout dates.
Oh, those makeout dates.
Peter smiles almost serenely at the memories. Man has the kissing been awesome.
But the thought of doing anything beyond that sounds...not awesome.
They’ve only discussed sex once and it was just a couple months ago. MJ brought up the idea of it and Peter stammered for what feels like five years until he finally said, “I’m just, um...not ready yet.”
Her response was simply, “Okay” and with a shrug, she turned back to the TV and snuggled more into the crook of her boyfriend’s shoulder. Said boyfriend had his jaw open for about a full minute before he turned back to the TV as well.
Peter has come close to telling her on several occasions but every time he starts to, he freezes up, or rambles about something else, or asks MJ something that will keep her talking until he calms down.
He has this feeling in his gut that thinks she would be okay with not having sex, especially with the nonchalant way she responded to his half-true confession.
But what if she’s not okay with it?
The spiderling’s thoughts are then interrupted by Ned’s fingers snapping in his face, “Earth to Peter,” said friend blinks to come back to reality and the other teen continues, “You good, man?”
Peter crosses his arms on the table, “Yeah, yeah, sorry I was just, uh….”
Ned smiles at his friend and seductively wiggles his eyebrows again, “Thinking about MJ?”
The other teen rolls his eyes, “Shut up, not like that.”
“Are you like, waiting till marriage or something?”
Waiting until marriage...that’s fucking brilliant, why didn’t I think of that?
Peter nods his head determinedly, “Yep, I am...waiting until marriage.”
Ned smiles good-naturedly, “I didn’t know you were that religious, but I respect that, that’s cool.”
The young hero smiles back, hoping that he doesn’t look as guilty as he feels for lying.
The other genius then lowers his voice, “Just wanna let you know, though: on your wedding night, it’s gonna suck.”
Peter can feel the ice cream churning in his stomach and he resists the urge to slam his head on the table, “Ned, please -”
“Dude, I know it’s awkward to hear it from me, but it’s for your own good. You’re gonna be terrible at it, but that’s okay, everyone’s first time is terrible, my first time was terrible. You’re not gonna know what to do or know where...things go. And you can watch all the porn and read all the smutty fanfics in the world, but nothing’s gonna really prepare you for it, man.”
Y’know what, maybe I do need Jesus. Jesus, save me from this hell.
The spiderling takes a deep breath in an attempt to settle his stomach. He then says, “Ned...thanks for that, I really appreciate it, but considering that I’m only seventeen and not planning on getting married anytime soon, I don’t think I need to know the details right this second...but thanks, man, seriously.”
“Of course, you know I’m here for you, dude...you sure you wanna wait till marriage, though? ‘Cuz I’m telling ya, once you do it, you’re gonna be like -”
“I’m sure. I’m just...so full of faith.” Peter smiles with his mouth closed again before asking, “Can you just...not tell May or-or anybody, really? This isn’t something that I just kinda broadcast, y’know?”
“Oh yeah, no sweat. Does MJ know?”
Peter’s voice gets higher again as he lies, “Yeah,” he quickly clears his throat a makes sure his voice is at a normal frequency, “Yeah-yeah, she’s, uh, she’s cool with it.”
The young hero’s eyes squint in uncertainty, “What?”
“Look, don’t take this the wrong way but...are you sure MJ’s cool with it?”
The other teen’s heart rate skyrockets with anxiety and he tightens his grip on his crossed arms, “Why-why-why wouldn’t she be cool with it?”
Be cool, Spider-Man, be cool.
“I mean, I can’t speak for her but like...you’re not the only one who has the hots for her, dude.”
Peter’s anxiety increases and his right knee starts uncontrollably bouncing from underneath the table, “Huh?”
Don’t get jealous, don’t get jealous, she chose you as her boyfriend for a reason, you idiot.
Ned looks at his friend incredulously, “Are you blind? Have you not seen the way Brad looks at her in English class? He literally looks like he’s taking off her clothes in his mind.”
Now Peter is offended, “What the fuck?! Who does that?”
“Douchebags, Peter, calm down, dude.”
“Okay, okay, sorry...I’m fine.”
Memo to me: put “Kill Brad” on my to-do list.
Ned continues, “My point is: if MJ’s not cool with your abstinence...she has other options.”
“You really think she’d dump me for Brad the ‘douchebaggy asshole’, no way, man.”
“Not Brad, specifically, but I mean, if she’s not cool with...this,” the young genius gestures to his friend, “And if it comes down to it...you might just have to bite the bullet...not many people are willing to stay abstinent anymore, bruh.”
Peter’s expression turns from anger to worry, “What?”
Ned gives his best friend a guilty look, “Look, I’m sorry, I don’t mean to freak you out, your abstinence is valid...but some people might not think the same way….”
The other teenager hesitates before asking his next question, tone lower than before, “And you think MJ’s one of those people?”
“Well, since you said she’s cool with it, probably not, but...just think about what she’s signing up for, and what society dumps on us.”
That did little to lessen the young hero’s anxiety and wonders if it’s possible to ruin his knee joints with the excessive bouncing, “Well...good thing MJ doesn’t care about what other people think or, uh, about society in general.”
Ned half-smiles, “Yeah, good thing. Look, you guys are good together, I just...I just don’t wanna see you get hurt, okay, you’re too awesome of a person.”
Peter’s cheeks flush and he can’t help but smile. Despite this embarrassing and worrisome conversation, he knows Ned means well, “Thanks, man...I’ll be careful, I promise.”
As the two friends leave the ice cream parlor, there is only one thing on the web-slinger’s mind.
Damn, I gotta tell MJ.
The following afternoon, Peter is tinkering with Tony in the lab and decides that now is as good a time as any to ask for some advice, “Mr. Stark...um, can I ask you something?”
The older hero’s gaze doesn’t stray from his suit, “Yeah, kid, what’s up?”
Peter can feel his hands start to tremble with anxiety - God, he really needs to work on that - and drops the parts he was holding, causing his father figure to flinch.
Tony looks over and takes notice of the apprehension seeping out of his kid, “Pete, whatever you tell me, it won’t leave this room, you know that.”
The intern sits in a chair and briefly closes his eyes in frustration, “I know, I know, it’s just...it’s awkward...and embarrassing….”
The billionaire fondly rolls his eyes, “I peed myself in my suit in front of a few hundred people while I was drunk. I don’t care what it is, nothing you say will top that.”
Peter busts out laughing, snorting while doing so, “Seriously?”
Tony cracks a smile himself and waves his hand uncaringly in his protege’s direction, “Yeah, yeah, yeah, so what is it, kid?”
The teenager soon stops laughing and anxiety quickly takes its place again, “Um...uh, how did you...how’d you tell Pepper about you, uh...um….”
The older genius walks to the table where his kid is at and sits in a chair across from him. He then gives the tyke a knowing look, “How did I tell her I’m ace?”
Peter is taken aback, “Yeah...how’d you know, are you psychic or something?”
“Nah, you’re just predictable.” Tony ignores the not at all intimidating glare from his intern and snickers, “Why do you wanna know?”
“Um…” Peter shyly scratches the back of his neck, “No reason.”
Tony gives him a look of skepticism but he answers the question anyway, “Well, it wasn’t easy, I put it off for a while, actually. I was scared she wouldn’t take it well…” his tone turns slightly more serious, “I was scared I was gonna lose her.”
That’s exactly how I feel.
The man now has Peter’s undivided attention. The kid crosses his arms atop the work table and slightly leans forward, making sure to hear every word his mentor is saying, “But she-she took it well, right? Since you’re married to her now and stuff?”
The hero takes notice of how his mentee is acting but decides not to bring it up just yet, “She was shocked, for sure. It was a few months into our relationship and I can tell that she was interested in...taking the next step. So finally, I had her over for a romantic dinner and...I told her.”
Peter’s eyebrows raise to his hairline, “Just like that?”
Tony half-smiles, “Just like that.”
The kid then starts to ramble, “How-how shocked was she? Did she like, take some time to process it, or was she immediately accepting, or did she like shrug her shoulders and say something like ‘Okay, cool’ and just continued dinner or -”
Tony holds up a hand to calm his intern down, “Whoa, whoa, whoa, one thing at a time, kiddo. Why do you wanna know so bad, anyway?”
“I…” Peter takes in a breath and puts his head in his hands, “I wanna tell MJ.”
The older man’s eyes widen in bewilderment, “You haven’t told her yet?! And you’ve been with her how long?”
“I know! I know, I’m an idiot, I just...I’m scared, okay?” The teenager lifts his head from his hands and crosses them on the table again, “I’m scared that she’ll see me differently or won’t take me seriously or...break up with me...I don’t wanna lose her, Mr. Stark, I love her.”
The way Peter is staring at Tony, with so much worry and despair and fear, it’s impossible for the man to not feel empathetic towards him. He reaches across the table and gently grabs ahold of one of his kid’s arms. He then uses his thumb to start rubbing that arm in comfort, “I know you do and I know how scary this is. But if you don’t do this, it could be worse for you down the line, bud. Has she said anything?”
The spiderling shrugs, trying and failing to be nonchalant, “Once. I-I told her I wasn’t ready yet. She didn’t ask any questions or anything, she just said ‘Okay.’”
Tony gives him a reassuring smile, “Hey, that’s a good sign.”
The kid groans in response, “I thought so too but like...she’s expecting to have sex sometime, right? I-I just, I just don’t wanna disappoint her, y’know? Maybe I should just….”
The hero squeezes his grip on his mentee’s arm, scared for what the guy is going to say next, “Maybe you should just what?”
Afraid to look at his mentor, Peter lays his head on Tony’s hand and faces away from him. His tone turns to barely above a whisper, “Y’know...bite the bullet. I mean...it can’t be that bad, right? Since everyone else likes it?”
Tony’s jaw drops, completely baffled, “Peter, look at me.”
When Peter does, his mentor lets go of him and crosses his own arms on the table, “Who put those words in your head?”
The boy deeply sighs, “Ned didn’t mean to, he doesn’t know...he thinks I’m waiting until marriage.” He briefly pauses when his father figure snorts, “But he’s got a point...most people aren’t staying abstinent anymore, if people can’t wait until marriage...why should I expect them to give it up completely, why should I expect MJ to give it up completely? It wouldn’t be fair to her….”
Tony takes in a breath, “Do you think I’m being unfair to Pepper for giving up sex for me?”
The teenager’s widen with guilt, “No! No way, you didn’t make her do it, she did that because she loves you -”
“Exactly, so what makes you think MJ doesn’t love you?”
“Well, nothing, I mean, she says the word a lot. And she’s put up with me for this long.”
The mechanic grunts, “Kid, you’re not as high maintenance as I tease you for being.” He then locks eyes with his kid, “I was worried with Pepper at first too. But a couple days after I dropped that bombshell, she said something that I still think about to this day. Wanna know what she said?”
Peter swiftly nods his head.
Tony continues, “She said ‘Just because I like sex, it doesn’t mean that I have to have it.’ Pete, just because most people have a sex drive, it doesn’t mean they mate like bunnies all the time. For some people, sex is needed in a relationship, for other people, it’s not. The only way to find out where your girlfriend lies is if you tell her, damn it.”
The young hero smiles bashfully, “I know...but what if she does break up with me? What if she falls with that first group you said?”
Tony comfortingly grabs his kid’s arm again, “If she needs sex in a relationship, then you guys just aren’t compatible, she isn’t the one for you, bud. I know that sounds harsh, but it’s true.”
Peter feels his skin prickle with goosebumps and tries to look like he’s not completely freaking out, “Okay...she’s coming over tomorrow to watch movies...I’ll tell her then.”
Another smile escapes the mechanic, “Good, you better keep me updated.” His smile falls, “And as far as ‘biting the bullet’, don’t ever put yourself through something that you don’t wanna do, understand? You’re worth so much more than that.”
The teenager lays his hand on top of Tony’s still grasping one and silently gushes at the protective warmth that filters through him, “Okay I won’t, I promise…” he squeezes his father figure’s hand, “Thank you.”
The genius’s smile returns, “Anytime. Now, I’ve met MJ several times and also from what you’ve told me about her...she seems like a nice kid.”
Peter unconsciously blushes, “She’s the best.”
The man tightens his grip on his mentee’s arm as a way to really get his attention, “But if something happens...if she tries to do something or if things start to go south, for the love of God, let me know.”
The tyke hastily nods his head, “I will, but I don’t think anything like that will happen, honestly. If she doesn’t like who I am, I think she’s just gonna break up with me.”
Tony shrugs, “You can’t blame me for being worried. So, you done with the mushy stuff?”
Peter half-smiles, “Yeah.”
The duo lets go of their grip and get up to do some more tinkering. Peter then asks out of curiosity, “What even is a sex drive, anyway, like how does a person...feel like that?”
The older man shrugs his shoulders again, “Damned if I know.”
Peter still can’t say it.
It is Friday night and the young couple have the Parkers’ apartment to themselves. They’re watching a movie that is over halfway finished but the spiderling hasn’t paid a lick of attention to it. How can he when his heartbeats are louder than the volume on the TV?
Peter and MJ are sitting on the couch, with the web-slinger’s arm wrapped around her shoulders and the other teen’s head resting comfortably on his chest. If the guy wasn’t filled with so much anxiety, this would’ve been a perfect night.
So he does what he can to savor it.
He sniffs her hair, soothingly rubs her shoulder, listens to her heartbeat, takes in her whole “essence”, if that’s even a thing.
Because he’s mentally preparing himself for the worst...what if this is the last time he's with the woman he loves?
He wants her to live in ignorant bliss, he wants this to last forever so. Damn. Badly.
But he has to tell her...it wouldn’t be fair to her if he doesn’t.
I’ll tell her at the end of the movie...I mean I can’t tell her mid-movie, who does that?
So he waits and tries to focus on whatever-the-fuck movie they’re watching. After a few minutes, though, he finds himself mentally rehearsing what he’s about to tell her.
“I am asexual...yep, it is a thing, and...I am that thing.”
Oh fuck no, I even cringed at that.
“I am asexual.” Maybe she won’t need more than that?
Nah, she’s gonna probably want an explanation.
“I am asexual. I am part of the one percent of people who aren’t sexually attracted to anyone. In other news, I have no interest in having sex. Ever.”
You might as well just push her out the door, Parker, for God's sake.
Peter leans his head against the couch cushion and sighs, making sure the sound is soft enough for MJ not to hear.
Oh, fuck me...heh, no pun intended.
Only a stupid sex pun that he can’t even relate to could make the boy smile in a situation like this.
“I am asexual...I completely understand if you wanna break up with me.” Okay, ease off the self-deprecation, Mr. Stark says I’m worth more than that and, well, he’s never wrong.
His thoughts are then interrupted by his girlfriend, “Babe, you look constipated.”
The other teenager snaps back to the present, “Huh?”
MJ half-smiles, “Are you okay?”
Her boyfriend tries to smile nonchalantly, “Yeah, yeah, I’m good, just y’know...watching the movie.”
The girl raises an eyebrow and points at the television, “The movie’s over, ya dingus.”
“Huh?” The young hero looks at the TV and sees the rolling end credits, “Oh….”
MJ adds, “Yeah, ‘oh’...seriously, are you okay, you’re being weirder than normal.”
Peter shrugs, “Yeah...never better….” He then sighs defeatedly.
C'mon, Spider-Man, you gotta bite that bullet.
The spiderling suddenly gets up from the couch, startling his girlfriend, “Peter -”
He starts pacing in front of the TV, “Sorry, I’m sorry, I’m not...ugh.” Peter wrings his fingers through his hair in frustration.
“Not what, what the hell is going on?”
“I’m not…” the other teen stops pacing and turns his back to her, “Fine.”
MJ sits straight up on the couch with worry, “Wait, are you hurt or something, is it a ‘Spider-Man’ thing or -”
“No.” Peter takes in a breath, “No, it’s not a Spider-Man thing, it’s a…‘me’ thing….”
Now MJ is really confused, “Oooookay...um, do you wanna try and take your mind off of it...whatever it is? We can watch another movie or listen to music and make out or -”
“I’m asexual!” The hero only blurted it out because he was scared of what suggestion she was going to make next. Now, he instantly regrets it and turns around to face her, even though he's not looking directly at her, “Sorry! I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to shout it like that, um, but yeah, um...I am asexual, and...yeah...yeah….” He tries to smile but he can’t work up the energy.
Welp, those rehearsals were a complete waste of my time.
The room is so silent that one could hear a pin drop.
Peter’s heart beats even faster. Is it possible for a seventeen-year-old to get a heart attack?
MJ looks shocked at the confession, but not as shocked as her boyfriend thought she’d be. She takes him even more by surprise when she casually says, “I know.”
Wait, what the fuck?
Peter looks at her as if she just grew a third head, “What? You-you-you-you...you know?”
MJ gives him a supportive smile, “Yeah, but thanks for telling me, I was wondering when you were going to.”
The web-slinger feels like he’s about to faint, so he plops back onto the couch, “How...how...how?! Do I give off some kinda ‘ace vibe’ or something?”
The other teenager turns to directly face him, with one of her legs folded in front of her but her foot is hanging off the couch cushion, “No, but when I asked you about sex, you froze up like a popsicle.”
“You figured me out from that?”
“Actually no, I just thought you weren't ready. But then a week later, I saw a keychain of the ace of spades with your car keys, and you've never expressed an interest in cards, so...I put two and two together.”
Peter smiles despite himself, “Mr. Stark gave it to me. He meant it as a joke, but I thought it was clever and no one would notice...guess I was wrong.”
MJ shakes her head and bites her lip, “You’re not wrong, I’m just...observant...especially with people I really like...or love...um, yeah….” She then looks down in slight embarrassment and stares at her lap.
Peter’s eyes go wide and his stomach fills with butterflies.
She still loves me...shestilllovesmeshestilllovesmeshestilllovesme….
But once the initial impact dissipates, an aftershock takes its place. The hero thinks about what she said.
She saw the keychain a week after their brief sex talk.
And that sex talk happened a couple of months ago.
So that means -
“You stayed with me? Even after you found out?”
MJ looks back at him and casually shrugs her shoulders, "Yeah...why wouldn't I?"
The only thing Peter can think to do is stammer his attempt at forming words.
How is she so cool about it? Like...am I dreaming right now?
He then finds his voice, “I mean...I can think of a coupla reasons….”
MJ tilts her head to the side and hums in mock curiosity, “Really? ‘Cuz I can’t think of any.”
Peter turns and faces her directly with his legs crossed between them, still completely astounded, “Wow, um…” he timidly scratches the back of his neck, “Really?”
The other teen scoots a little closer to her boyfriend and copies his position by crossing her own legs in front of her, “Really.”
The spiderling swallows a lump in his throat, still in disbelief, “Wow, that’s-that’s awesome, that’s really awesome, you’re really awesome.”
MJ scoots even closer and butts her knees against his. She smiles softly at him, “You’re not so bad, yourself, dingus.”
Peter blurts out without even thinking, “I love you.”
She starts laughing at the hero’s awkwardness, “I love you too.” MJ moves her head closer to his face with the intent on kissing him, but he beats her to it and gives her a peck on the lips. She returns the gesture with one of her own. Those pecks soon turn into drawn-out, passionate kisses.
Peter gets lost in those kisses, gets lost in the euphoria of her. Nothing in this world could possibly be better than this.
Biting the bullet? Best decision ever made.