The PPSSM preview reminded me that I was working on this, which I’m sticking up here because sometimes publicly shaming myself works as motivation. Starring Yuuhy and I’s Stormcast theory that the apartment pictured in PPSSM 2 that they say is Peter’s apartment is, well, Peter’s apartment, but Johnny’s been living in it. (He had a key, and I know Peter Parker can’t keep plants alive.) Set post-the recent Amazing Spider-Man #31.
Peter showed up on Johnny’s doorstep disheveled, tired, and belligerent. It was only two days after the fallout from Darkforce bubble finally dropping and Johnny was still bleary with much needed sleep, so of course he almost slammed the door in face as soon as Peter opened his mouth.
“I need to crash here for a couple of days,” Peter said, steely with determination.
“Oh, absolutely not,” Johnny said, as if Peter could be moved. “I’ve watched the news. I don’t need the most hated man in the tech world in my apartment.”
“Well, tough, because it’s my apartment, actually,” Peter said.
It was, actually, Peter’s apartment. His old apartment, from before he’d bought the Baxter Building. He’d never given up the lease, or moved out any of his furniture or anything. And it had just been sitting there, perfectly livable and not even infested with anything, which was more than Johnny could have said about the place he’d tried to rent after Medusa broke up with him and also left the planet, because there was a way to make a guy feel okay about the end of a relationship.
And maybe Peter had caught Johnny naked in his luxurious shower back at the Baxter Building, trying wash battle grit out of his hair when his place’s horrible water pressure wouldn’t do, and maybe there had been a lot of screaming from both parties and maybe Johnny had set a bottle of Peter’s combination shampoo-conditioner on fire.
Then after, when everyone had dressed and their tempers were mildly cooler, and Peter got the truth about his new digs out of Johnny, he’d offered up this place.
“Why not?” he’d said, shrugging. “Not like anyone’s living there at the moment. Just don’t trash the place, rock star.”
And now Peter was the messy-haired, plane-rumpled disaster who had, manic gleam in his eye, burned one of the biggest tech companies in the world to the ground, on live broadcast.
“Peter,” he whined. “I just got done fighting monsters in pitch darkness and thinking I was never going to be able to fly in foreign hair products again.”
“I’ll foreign hair product you,” Peter said, shoulder meeting the doorjamb with a thump. “Johnny, please. I am so tired. A pedestrian threw a Webware at me. A tween saw my face and started crying.”
“Ugh,” Johnny said, moving back. “Fine. Get inside before my neighbors see you.”
“My neighbors,” Peter muttered under his breath.
“Yeah, and do you know what I’ve learned living here? They all hate you,” Johnny said, slamming the door. He folded his arms as Peter dropped his briefcase and tugged off his tie, shoulders dropping like he’d let go of some immense weight.
“Right back at ‘em,” Peter muttered, shucking his jacket. Johnny averted his eyes as his shoulderblades flexed under the crisp white fabric of his shirt, which was just a smidge too small. Peter never could buy clothes. “Buncha TV Guide stealers.”
“Pete,” Johnny whined, both plaintive and pointless. “Spidey. Bro.”
“What?” Peter said, stretching his arms high above his head. “What, what?”
“Just…” Johnny said, giving up. “Don’t kill my fish, okay.”
“Your what now?” Peter said. He turned and spotted the tank by the couch. “You bought fish?”
“I told you I bought fish! I was on the phone with you in the PetCo!”
“How would I even kill your fish?” Peter asked, crouching down to get a better look.
“Staring at them too hard?” Johnny said. “Breathing on them? Catty ex-girlfriend dropping in? Don’t tap on the glass!”
Peter froze, hand held halfway up. Johnny glared at him. Peter huffed, and dramatically laid himself down on the couch, balling up his jacket and shoving it under his head.
“Whatever,” he said, closing his eyes. “I’m exhausted. Don’t wake me when it’s time for the Bachelorette or whatever.”
“I tell you one thing –” Johnny started, but Peter was already out and snoring. Typical.
Johnny just watched Peter sleep for a long moment, passive aggressively feeding his fish because they’d need their strength with Peter around. Peter’s hair was greasy, and his shirt was rumpled. He looked like he’d had the layover from hell. His mouth hung open in sleep.
Johnny wanted so unfairly for him to wake up and declare his eternal love. Instead, Peter didn’t even stir when Johnny threw a blanket over him.
“I hate you,” he told him, but quietly, so Peter could sleep. He grabbed his keys and headed out.
Johnny went stress shopping, because that was what he did when Peter Parker showed up out of nowhere to throw his life into a shambles, and also when he was bored. He went gourmet grocery shopping, specifically, because he didn’t need Peter waking up and discovering that Johnny only had pizza rolls in his fridge. Pizza rolls he’d been heating up himself, with his hands, or, occasionally, when he was feeling both depressed and lazy, simply popped them frozen into his mouth and let his powers do the rest of the work
(One time he’d just laid them in a line down his naked chest but that had been the anniversary of when Ben had fucked off to space, and Johnny thought he could have probably been forgiven for that in light of the circumstances.)
So yeah, he wasn’t in the mood for Peter to find out about any of that. He wanted to be Peter’s Johnny Storm again, affluent and carefree and more interested in his own hair than anything else, the crushing weight lifted off his shoulders for long enough to coax a really good argument out of him, something to laugh about and hold like a candle flame in the center of his chest.
Also, he wanted to buy soft shell crab.