Real blade-in-the-belly fear is tying me up with this question.
I’ve probably ruined the best friendships I’ve ever had within minutes. It’s been building up, apparently, but I broke it tonight. Me. All me.
Fuck. Fuck. Fuck. Why did I have to act like that? Fuck.
I’m shaking as I head up the stairs to our floor, chlorine fumes still clinging to my skin and towel. My limbs feel numb. I’m slightly nervous I might fumble over my feet and fall down the steps. I consider stopping to just let out a couple tears; the pressure is nearing unbearable. It’s not like anyone will find me. Everyone else will be taking the elevator. Unless, of course, they think avoiding hotel staff is important. Shit.
I keep moving.
All I can pray for now is that Michelle doesn’t hate me and she’ll tell me what’s been going on with everything, or at least some part of it. Any part of it. This invisible conflict is suffocating.
Out of breath, I reach the third floor and push the door open, ready to talk this through with her.
Peter’s banging on our door. Inside the partial moment before he realizes I’m here, a faint pinprick of hope thinks he might be there for me.
“Ned, MJ, I’m not messing around. This is the least funny thing you could do right now.”
The stairwell door clangs closed behind me. Peter looks over, sees me, and rolls his eyes as he knocks again, harder.
Nobody answers from my and Michelle’s room - a semi-serious inconvenience for me, seeing as she has my keycard. I notice a note on Peter and Ned’s door. Reluctant, given Peter’s proximity, I walk forward and pick it off, hands trembling.
“Work yourselves out - MJ & Ned.”
Under this, on the floor, are two keycards. Obviously to this room, or else Peter would have used them on my door.
“Have they answered at all?” I ask, biting the inside of my cheek.
Peter stares at the door. It’s evident, very evident, that he’s still upset, though now he appears to have anger reserved for Michelle and Ned, too.
Do you really hate me so much that you can’t stand to be in the same room as me?
My mouth tastes like metal. God, I want to cry. But I won’t, not in front of Peter, not like this.
“I’m going in before Mr. Harrington checks the hall or Flash shows up.”
Keeping a tight grasp on my towel, I bend down, grab a keycard from the floor, and use it. I open the door.
Now I understand Peter’s reaction.
Ned and Michelle have taken out one of the beds and moved the other to the center of the room. It stands alone between the door and window. The covers are suggestively pulled down halfway.
I pause in the doorway, a blush flaring in my cheeks.
For months, I’ve daydreamed about similar scenarios. A night in which Ned and Michelle fall asleep in the living room so I have to sleep in Peter’s. (Two beds, but still - a similar concept.) Or else Peter and I watch a movie on the couch and fall asleep cuddled up for the night, May placing a blanket over us like some form of blessing. (May’s approval is always critical to these imaginary scenarios.) Sometimes, I just daydream about falling asleep on his shoulder while we’re riding the subway, his sweater warm against my cheek.
Countless simple situations in which I share a tiny dose of intimacy with this best friend who rarely leaves my mind. For a split-second, I imagine things aren’t as they are tonight and there’s a tingle of excitement tickling under my jaw.
“You gonna move?”
Peter’s voice startles me. I didn’t hear him walk up.
I move, into the room. Just as I start to feel jittery and consider whether or not to text Ned or Michelle (I realize my clothes are in the other room), my phone dings.
“Ned: It’s MJ. Your clothes and makeup bag are in the bathroom. Toothbrush and charger included. Love you and see you in the morning. (Good luck.)”
Relief sweeps under my feet and fills me head to toe. Love you and see you in the morning. Thank God. Michelle and I good. We’re definitely good. It’s fine with her, things are going to be alright with her. Breathe. Breathe. Breathe. You haven’t lost MJ.
It dings again.
“Ned: it’s Ned. what MJ said. but from me too.”
God, I wish I could hug Ned through the wall separating us. His nine words are a monumental comfort, more than he likely realizes. Ned isn’t leaving either. You guys are okay, it’s going to be okay with him. Ned isn’t going anywhere. I really might cry now.
“Who’s messaging you?” Peter asks, arms crossed. Again, his voice startles me.
He’s standing by the door, opposite from my stance at the window.
“MJ and Ned.”
Peter shakes his head, hands digging into his hair as he looks to the ceiling while biting the inside of his cheek.
“Are you serious?”
“They were letting me know where my things were.” His attitude is pushing me to the edge of anger again. “It’s not a big deal.”
This, evidently, is the wrong thing to say.
“Yes, it is! Do you really not get why this bothers me?”
For once, he makes eye contact. He looks half furious and half hurt.
“Peter, what are you talking about?”
His frustration mounts. He glances at the floor with his hands clenched together before shaking his head again and looking me straight in the eye.
“You guys are constantly doing this shit,” he says, arms open. “You and MJ with these neverending side conversations. You know, it’s beyond frustrating that you two know everything about me, yet you guys have your own codes and your own stupid languages that you use to keep secrets from me and Ned. You guys are always having a private conversation. Passing notes to each other in class under the table, sending text messages during our freaking dinner, tapping your fingers on a chair to signal whatever. It’s irritating! I know what you guys are trying to hide. We’re all supposed to be friends, that means not keeping secrets like that. Why haven’t you guys just told me and Ned?”
Hiding what? God, please don’t let this mean Ned knows somehow.
“Told you and Ned what?” I ask. “Yes, we text each other sometimes when we’re all together but don’t act like you and Ned aren’t closer to each other too. You guys are less industrious about it, that’s all. There’s a reason May talks to him privately without me and MJ - it’s because you trust him more and May knows she can’t tell us everything like she does him. And I don’t blame anybody for that, but I don’t think it’s fair for you to hold me and MJ up to a double standard. Plus, you and her and Ned have been messaging each other without me all day! That’s a hell of a double standard, considering. What was all of it about, Peter?”
“We didn- I mean, one time is beside the point. And it’s not a double standard with me and Ned because it’s completely different!” Peter’s hands are in the air and his face is reddening. I start to protest but he doesn’t even hesitate. “I mean, Ned and I have been friends way longer while you!- you and MJ are dating and trying to hide it from us!”
My brain hits a cement wall.
“Wait, what? You think we’re -”
“Come on, this game is over! It’s been obvious for ages and I really don’t get why it’s even a secret in the first place. Did you think it would bother us? The only part of it that bothers me is the fact that I l- th-that you guys kept it a-a secret. From me.”
I stammer momentarily, lost in an attempt to unravel his train of thought.
“We aren’t - this isn’t - I mean, honestly? How long have you thought that MJ and I were dating?”
“I’ve known for months. You guys are not subtle.”
“Peter Benjamin Parker,” I say slowly, steadying my hands on the window sill behind my back. “Michelle Jones and I are not dating. Where-where did you even get that idea?”
Peter’s face is flipping through a catalog of expressions in his attempt to figure out if I’m lying or not. The rising and falling of his chest hasn’t slowed and his face is still red.
“Because every time you guys spend the night, I wake up and I find you guys t-together, you know, holding each other on the couch. And all the texting, the little codes you guys have, the looks you give each other. I mean, trying to play Uno with you guys is almost impossible! You’re always teaming up against me and Ned to get us out first. A-and all of your inside jokes, too! It’s so all the time. Not to mention that you guys touch each other way more than you touch me or Ned!”
“Peter, I promi-”
“Can you let me finish?” Despite his momentary pause, he’s getting worked up again. “And this stuff with Flash is another thing. Did you have to invite him to last night? I’ve put up with you talking to him and actually, like, hanging out with him in classes, but I was really excited about that dinner until I heard you tell MJ to invite him. Did you even consider how much I would hate him being there? Did you even think about me?”
That triggers a gut punch. No, a punch to my entire body.
“Peter,” I interject, my finger feeling a familiar, burning itch. “I think about you all the time, more than anyone else! I only invited him because I needed to stop thinking about you! Do you know what it’s like, waiting and waiting and waiting every single day? You’re almost always in danger and I- and I get why, trust me - I understand why you do what you do every day and I’ve never tried to interfere with that. But it leaves the rest of us on edge. Sometimes it’s exhausting, all the hours I spend thinking about you, waiting to hear from you, telling myself not to imagine all the awful, nightmarish reasons you might not be texting me back. So maybe once I made a call you didn’t like, but like most of the time, you weren’t there! And I didn’t like last year with you mooning over Liz and you never noticed that, ever. The- the point is: I figured you and Flash could sit on opposite sides of the fucking table for dinner. Or else you could get along for one night.”
I shouldn’t have mentioned Liz.
Peter barely breathes while I speak, until the end, when I think he might combust.
“Get along with Flash? Are you serious? I know you think I ‘shouldn’t let him get to me’ but frankly, I think that’s bullshit. He’s a bully. A bully you kissed, but a bully nonetheless, and you shouldn’t have tried to make sure I wouldn’t tell on him, or whatever, to Mr. Harrington.” On the word kissed, Peter looks at the wall in disgust, his balled up fists hitting the sides of his thighs impatiently. “I could handle you and MJ together, but if you’re telling me you guys aren’t, then it seems like Flash is next in line and I’m serious when I say I would not be able to handle that.”
My heart rate has been sky high since I admitted how often I think of Peter but that comment is a final straw. My chest is pounding like a rabbit is inside it with a jackhammer.
We’re both breathing too quickly with too much pent-up energy in the air. It doesn’t help that we’re still soaking in our swimsuits either.
“There is no line, Peter Parker. I am not some business for dating, so let me make this clear: I am not dating anyone, let alone Flash. I’ve tried explaining why I treat him the way I do, but you never listen, so why go over it now? I only asked you if I should tell Mr. Harrington because I wanted to do something about what he did to you, I wanted for him to face consequences for once! I tried to tell you that you shouldn’t have to ‘put up’ with the shit he does to you, but you wouldn’t listen! Next time you start counting up the reasons you’re angry with me, talk to me about it rather than waiting and pushing my buttons until I explode.”
Peter and I stare at each other. He’s lost for a moment, then shaking his head.
“That doesn’t address all the texts between you and MJ at dinner!”
“With me, MJ, and Ned, you moron!”
“Awesome, so you guys are all texting each other without me!”
“It was about you being such an ass! And you’ve been doing the exact same thing all of today! And locking me outside with Flash!”
“If you say ‘Flash’ one more time, I swear to God, I’m going to jump out that window.”
He points behind my back.
“Peter, please, will you just explain the calls and texts with MJ and Ned today?”
Peter’s eyes are red and flitting from the window to the bed to me to the carpet to the closet, half in guilt, half in exasperation and frustration.
“W-well what about the constant couch cuddling, huh? You didn’t answer that!”
Now I might jump out the window.
“Oh my God, Peter! It’s just something I-I do! It’s not on purpose and it doesn’t mean anything! It’s embarrassing, but it’s not an ‘MJ and me’ thing, it’s a ‘thing MJ puts up with because there’s only one couch’ thing! I am not dating my best friend!”
Peter’s face screws up like I’ve said something horrible. His head is still shaking slightly and his fists are knocking against his legs again. He stares at the ground near my feet.
“I-I’m just gonna go… um, somewhere, uh, else,” he says.
“Can you please explain why you guys have been texting all day?” I ask. “It’s been freaking me out; I mean, it’s really making me nervous. Peter, please?”
Peter doesn’t meet my eyes. He’s focused on the ceiling, fingers trembling.
“I’d rather not. I need to leave.”
Standing with my hands still clutching the window sill, Peter flings the door open and leaves without another word.
(Man, I wish I had enough material to update tomorrow like I usually would! I’m so excited to post the upcoming chapters!)
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Also, guys, thank you so, so, so, so, so much for the responses! I’ve gotten more after Part 7 than I have from the whole fic. It’s so crazy awesome to hear from you guys!
Honestly, even the shortest message completely changes my day and makes it a thousand times better. All week, I look forward to posting/updating, just to hear from you guys! It makes school stress worth it, finally getting to the weekend when I can interact with you guys.
Anyway, I’ll try to write as much as possible this week to make sure I never have to skip a weekend for updates.
I hope you guys enjoyed this chapter! Let me know what you think!
Ned and i sat on the edge of Peter’s bed, waiting for him to get home from whatever he was doing. Aunt May had let us in, and i adored her. sometimes, i wish she was my aunt.
soon the window opened and Ned and i looked at each other, confused. then, Spider-man came crawling in the window and was climbing on the walls from climbing on the ceiling. we sat there, in complete shock.
the person took off his mask and when they turned around i was met with a familiar pair of brown eyes. my jaw dropped slightly at the sight, not believing my eyes. his eyes grew large at the sight of Ned and i on the bed.
Ned’s lego figure crashed to the floor in pieces.
“you’re-you’re the spider-man.” Ned said and Peter pressed at the spider on his chest.
“no, no. no i’m not. i’m not.”
“you we’re climbing on the ceiling and the walls!” Ned exclaimed and i didn’t say anything.
“shut up.” Peter said as he covered Ned’s mouth. looking back at the door.
“how?” he asked once Peter’s hand left his mouth.
“i got bit by a radioactive spider.” he said.
there was a moment of silence.
“y/n, baby, say something, please. you’re scaring me.”
“i just don’t believe it’s you.” i said and he tugged on his sweater.
“trust me, it’s me.” he said coming over to me, crouching down.
“i’m gonna let you two talk, i’ll see you guys tomorrow.” Ned said before grabbing his things.
“bye, buddy.” Peter said and i gave Ned a hug from where i was sitting.
the door closed and Peter took my hands into his.
“tell me everything you’re thinking.” he said. he could tell i had a million things on my mind at the moment.
“i’m just-you.. you did all that.” i said and he nodded.
“yeah, it was me.”
“you could’ve died.” i said, thinking about it made tears brim my eyes.
“y/n, no, no don’t cry, baby.” he said and pulled me into his body. i let a few tears escape as he rubbed my back. i wrapped my arms around his torso and nuzzled my face into his neck.
“i’m okay, it’s okay. you’re not going to lose me anytime soon.” he said and i pulled away from his body as he wiped away the wetness from my cheeks.
“okay?” he said and i nodded. he kissed my cheek as he pushed the hair out of my face.
“Everything we do is a choice. Oatmeal or cereal. Highway or side streets. Kiss her or keep her. We make choices and we live with the consequences. If someone gets hurt along the way we ask for forgiveness. It’s the best anyone can do.”