Then Again, P13 Peter Parker x Reader
Hello, everyone! I know I said this chapter was going to be super short, but I had a chance to write for a whole hour this week (a miracle!) so it turned out longer than I originally thought :) It’s pretty consistent with the usual word count now. On that note, huge thank you to @girl-tips-from-satan for listening to me ramble and helping me enormously with this chapter.
Also, I tipped 300 followers! That’s insane. If you guys ever want to talk about anything, feel free to send me a message! I would love to get to know you guys better. 💞💞💞 (Plus, if you guys have any questions about this fic, ask away! I’ll answer anything I can without spoiling too much 😉)
Without further ado,
Then Again, Part 13:
He came back?
A hard crash in the bathroom slaps me awake. The consequent groan confirms it’s Peter who’s likely just tripped over his own feet. My eyes snap open on impact and my heart leaps.
The light from the bathroom is outlining the door in harsh gold, a shadow darkening the left floor corner. I close my eyes again, unable to handle the sudden light, and focus on keeping my body completely still. I’d rather he doesn’t know I’m awake. I’m not ready for what we might say to each other.
I just can’t believe he came back.
This thought swims the perimeter of my brain again and again, almost endlessly alongside my concentration to stay still until, of course, the door eventually opens. There’s a burst of light popping red against my eyelids. Don’t move. Don’t move. Don’t move. It’s only a second though before it goes black once more. If I could make a sound, I’d sigh.
The moment the door closes though, the silent air freezes. If I could see anything, I’m certain I would be able to pick out every particle of dust in the room halted, standing like statues in their assigned places. Everything around me - and me - feels trapped in this tiny timeframe. At once I’m far too warm.
He really came back?
Peter’s trying to be quiet, I can tell. Maybe that’s why I’m too aware of myself. My breathing shifts from an involuntary function to a mess of trying to regulate it consciously. I hate it. Breathe in. One, two, three, four. And out for five, four, three-
I hear something creak near the window. Is he really-? But then I realize it’s only the closet. He’s staying, then? I wish I were facing the other way so I could try to peek and see what he’s doing.
Without warning the blanket pulls.
The bed dips behind me, the springs compressing enough that I can sense exactly where Peter’s weight is centered. He’s inches from my back.
His head must be close to mine on the pillow because something is tickling my scalp. What else is it, if not his breathing near my hair?
God, I’m still thinking about my own breathing.
Peter adjusts slightly.
Focus. In for one, two, three, four. And out for five, four, three, two, one. Shut up, brain, please. The heaviness in my lungs is making it difficult though. I need to turn over to relieve the pressure on my ribcage.
Slowly, steadily, and as convincingly as possible, I roll my shoulders over and push my legs to follow. It’s awkward and disjointed. As it would be, probably, if I were asleep. For good measure, I place my arm over my eyes. That should keep me from trying to sneak a glance. I really shouldn’t risk him knowing I’m not asleep particularly because I should be. The competition. I need to be ready. If I let Michelle down-
He’s touching me. What is he doing? His fingers are brushing mine as if - but now they’re gone. What?
One, two, three, four. Five, four, three two one. One two three four. Five four three-
Peter’s voice nearly makes me jolt.
“I’m serious about what I said before.” He pauses. My mind sprints through too many of things he said tonight and my stomach drops. “I’m really, really sorry.” What? “Anything you decide is suitable, I’ll do whatever you want if it helps you forgive me. I swear, I never meant to be such a jerk and I’ll never act like that again. Just tell me what you want me to do.”
He’s apologizing… and for the second time tonight, apparently.
That’s Peter. That’s the person I’ve been friends with for so long. He’s really back.
It’s unbelievable, I realize, how much I’ve missed him this week.
All I want is for us to be on the same side again.
My hand feels cold now, my fingers itching to have his back for a moment. I think I get the gesture now. Coming from Peter, it might’ve been a question, a mini request for compromise, a hint at truce in case I was awake. The shock of the initial contact made it weird in the moment, but in hindsight, it is uniquely Peter. Almost weird, but oddly perfect in context. I can’t believe he’s back.
Come tomorrow, the two of us are going to have a lot to work through and I know that. Yet… I almost want to say something, to signal back that it’s okay. If his apology is genuine, as it sounds and I trust it is, I should do something too, right?
God, I’m just going to do stupid things until I die. With that in mind, I ignore the protests forming in my head and let my who cares? side have control for once.
I roll over onto his side of the bed and, quite frankly, onto him. Sort of. My hand fumbles across his shoulder before awkwardly reaching across his middle to latch on, as Michelle is well familiar with. He half-jumps. By instinct, I immediately pull myself closer, my fingers pressing themselves against his bare ribcage.
Why didn’t you change into pajamas? Damn you, Peter.
I really thought he would at least have a t-shirt.
Although I’ve seen him shirtless a handful of times before, like an hour ago, it’s suddenly a very different thing to physically feel him this way.
“Uh, um. Y/N? Are… are you awake?”
Don’t move a muscle, definitely don’t answer.
“I don’t want to be weird or anything….” He hesitates. “But my arm is going to go numb if- if I stay like this. So it’s, you know, logical I guess, if I move a bit? But if it’s weird you can, you know, just hit me or something. Or maybe I should sleep on the floor? I was going to once I-”
I force a fake, drawn-out exhale and for some stupid, idiotic reason, I pull myself up a bit more, my leg by habit (I’ll pretend) following the overall motion to slide between his knees. Why am I like this? I can picture how this must look: Peter on his back, his arm crushed under me as I cling to him like a koala bear or tree frog. Our ankles knock against each other slightly. That itself gives me a sense of security, like being locked into a safe place.
“So you’re not awake?”
Only Peter would ask this right now. The question tickles the top of my head. I can tell from the quick intake of breath that he’s about to keep talking - but given the situation, I think my heart might combust if he whispers another apology.
“Peter,” I mumble. “Please, shut up.”
His chest freezes under my head. He definitely knows I’m awake now. He nods.
Why did I have to say something?
My face is burning and his skin seems more like a furnace than a human body. I could play it off tomorrow as if I had been still asleep… but he knows, he has to know. That really wasn’t a convincing still-sleeping voice. Just as I consider rolling off the bed, rolling under it, and staying there for the next twenty years, Peter moves.
He slides his arm from under my own and wraps it around my shoulders. His right hand brushes my hair away from my face.
I’ll be surprised if he can’t feel the heat from my forehead. God, why are we always so awkward?
I expect him to stop there, but he combs through, rather hesitantly, twice more. The second time, one of his fingers catches on a tangle. He accidentally tugs it (I bite my cheek to keep from jumping) before he pauses and half-pats my head like sorry, my bad. He drops his hand to his side and sighs. His breathing begins to deepen. Admittedly, I wish he hadn’t stopped.
Peter shifts slightly.
He starts to say something, but hesitates - a half-formed sound trailing off.
Then, there’s a long pause. We both seem to be waiting for the other.
What are we going to do after tomorrow, Peter?
This time, I don’t say anything back.
Instead, I kick the corner of the blanket bunched around my foot - the one that isn’t between his legs - until I can tell it’s finally covering both of his feet too. Once I’m certain he has enough of the blanket, I settle in a bit more and hope he doesn’t think it’s weird.
This is such a stupid idea.
Still, it’s better than I imagined. And how many times have I imagined this? An embarrassing amount and honestly -
His arms tighten around me. The knots in the back of my neck relax.
It’s a thousand times better than I imagined.
Next update: November 24*
*I really, really want to avoid skipping updates at all costs, but I am worried that my next chapter won’t be ready in time. If not, I’ll update as soon as it’s ready! Hopefully, though, I can catch a break this week and keep to Nov. 24. I’ll do everything I can, I promise!
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