Barbara (htbthomas) wrote,

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It Has Always Been You, 5/5

Title: It Has Always Been You, 5/5: Coffee and Sympathy
Author: htbthomas
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse
Pairing: Peter/MJ
Word Count: Ch. 5 - 2700 words
Summary: A series of vignettes about Peter and MJ’s first days together after Spider-Man 2, and the reactions of the people around them to their new relationship
Chapter Teaser: Aunt May leaned forward, eyes sparkling with interest. “So, Mary Jane, last I heard, you were about to marry that astronaut. You should have been on your honeymoon for another week! What happened to change your mind?”

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Chapter Links: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5

Chapter 5: Coffee and Sympathy

“Peter! Mary Jane!” Aunt May declared, opening the door of her new apartment with a joyful smile. She swept the two of them in turns into big hugs. Peter had to quickly set the plant he had brought for a housewarming gift out of the way to keep it from being crushed.

“Come in! Come in!” she waved them into the living room. “It's not my old place, but it'll do for an old girl like me. I think it's finally ready for visitors...”

Peter looked around as he stepped in - she had even found time to put up photographs and artwork.  “Aunt May, you just moved in here a week ago. Anyone else would still have boxes everywhere.” Peter smiled at the efficiency of his aunt.

“Yes,” Mary Jane agreed. “It's lovely. And you didn't have to cook Sunday lunch for us - we could have gone out.”

Aunt May ushered them to seats on the sofa. “It isn't a home until you can share it with family and friends. You are the perfect ones to start new traditions with.” She settled in the armchair, with an expectant look on her face. “Peter, you said you had news for me on the phone...”

“I wanted to wait to tell you in person,” Peter began, and reached for Mary Jane's hand. “MJ and I...we're a couple now.”

Aunt May clasped her hands together and positively beamed. “I knew I sensed something when you came in. It's the best I could have hoped for! Your mother and I have been secretly scheming for this for ages, you know,” she winked at Mary Jane.

“Maybe not so secretly,” Mary Jane winked back.

Aunt May leaned forward, eyes sparkling with interest. “So, Mary Jane, last I heard, you were about to marry that astronaut. You should have been on your honeymoon for another week! What happened to change your mind?” she asked, intrigued.

“Well,” Mary Jane blushed slightly, glancing briefly at her new boyfriend, “Peter happened. We finally were totally honest with each other. We let things get in the way, and now we're determined to be happy, whatever comes.” It was vague, but true. After all, Aunt May couldn't know all the particulars.

Aunt May's features took on a knowing expression. “Everyone deserves to be happy. No matter what their destiny in life.” She looked from one to the other significantly, then continued. “My dear Ben and I certainly were happy through it all.”

At that moment, a buzzer sounded from the kitchen. “Oh! That's the roast. You two make your way to the table, and I'll be right there.” Aunt May got to her feet with a push and she bustled away to the oven.

Mary Jane whispered to Peter urgently, “I thought you said she didn't know!”

“I don't think she does…” A strange look came over his face as he remembered something that had happened the week before. “But just before Dr. Octavius kidnapped you, I went to see her.  Her words that day helped me decide to put the suit on again. She told me that…” He paused, recalling the phrase exactly, “‘everyone has a hero inside them’. Those same words helped me convince Octavius to destroy his machine.” Peter looked toward the kitchen to make sure she wasn’t listening to their hushed conversation – but Aunt May was still busy getting plates filled.

“I think I remember what you said to him...something about doing what's right?” She looked upward, trying to recall.

“'Sometimes, to do the right thing, we have to have to be steady and give up the things we want the most...even our dreams.' Those words helped me, too.” Peter took her hand, and squeezed it gently, gazing into her eyes. “But in the end, I didn't have to give up all my dreams.”

Plates in hand, Aunt May came into the dining area, and called over to them fondly, “I remember when I used to whisper like that. It's wonderful to be young and in love.”

At seeing her staggering so heavy-laden toward the table, Peter felt a flash of embarrassment. “Oh, Aunt May, let us help you with those.” The two of them jumped up to help her set all the platters down.

During the meal, everyone talked happily about this and that. The food was delicious as always, and Peter felt at home in Aunt May's new place already. Near the end of the meal, he suddenly got quiet as he realized there was one more bit of news to break to his aunt.

“What's wrong, Peter?” Both she and Mary Jane looked at him worriedly, May with a glass halfway to her lips.

Nervously, he started, “I just realized I have some other news that I haven't told you.” He looked at Mary Jane again, and just the sight of her glowing face gave him a shot of confidence. “Mary Jane and I are moving in together.”

Aunt May set her glass down, seeming to stare at a random spot on the tablecloth. A beat passed. Peter jumped to fill the silence, “I am being evicted, anyway… and your new apartment only has one bedroom… so it made the most sense...” he finished awkwardly.

Aunt May's eyes closed for an instant, and then she put on a smile. “You know I'm old-fashioned, dear,” she said softly, patting his hand. “I'm sure you are only doing what you think is best.” She withdrew her hand and quickly changed the subject. “Who wants dessert?” she asked brightly.

Mary Jane tried to salvage the moment as well. “I'll help clear the dinner dishes and get the coffee.”

“Thank you so much, dear.” May told Mary Jane without a trace of disapproval.

Mary Jane’s nervousness evaporated at the welcome in the older woman’s voice. Thank goodness she is happy for us. I don’t know what I would have done… She rose and gave Aunt May a relieved smile.

The two women went into the kitchen, leaving Peter at the table. After a few trips between the table and the dishwasher, Mary Jane was searching the cabinets for the coffee and filters.

“In the lower left cupboard above the sink.” Aunt May brought a pie over to the countertop, and began to remove the plastic wrap. They busied themselves in companionable silence, until they both heard Peter's chair hurriedly scrape away from the table.

Mary Jane turned instantly at the sound, registering that May had turned as well. Peter came into the doorway, tension palpable in his stance. “MJ, Aunt May, I have to go. I, uh, just remembered that...”

Aunt May cut him off. “Go, dear! Mary Jane and I will have a visit together while you are gone.”

Peter tilted his head to look at Aunt May strangely, then shrugged and gave MJ a kiss on the cheek. “I'll be back as soon as I can.”

“Don't worry, if it's too late, you can just swin—uh, come by my place later,” Mary Jane kissed him back, and then shooed him off.

After the front door closed, Aunt May turned to Mary Jane. “Mary Jane,” she walked over to the younger woman, and placed a hand on her shoulder. “You know, I have already thought of you as my niece for years now.”

“Thanks,” she said, smiling over her shoulder. “I’ve always felt the same about you, especially with all my troubles at home. It's been nice to have someone to turn to.” She finished measuring the grounds and pouring the water, then pressed start.

“You don't know how much it means to me that you are going to be there for Peter,” she said, giving Mary Jane one last pat before moving back to serve the pie on two plates. “He needs a 'rock in the storm,' if you will. There's only so much an old lady can do. And if it gets to be too much, please, my shoulder is always here to cry on.” Aunt May gave her a warm smile.

This was getting to be too much innuendo. “Aunt May, I...” She was afraid to bring the subject of Peter's alter-ego out into the open. What if she was misreading her comments? “What do you mean?”

May nodded her head toward the table, and carried the pie that direction. Mary Jane followed her, worriedly.  She had only known about Peter’s secret for a little while – was she somehow giving him away already?

“I think you know what I mean,” she answered, not turning toward her as she placed the two places in front of their places.  “Peter's life is awfully complicated, isn't it? He's always busy, always tired, never has enough money.” She sat at the table, and then finally looked Mary Jane directly in the eyes. “And always in danger.”

She couldn't suppress a little gasp. Sitting heavily, Mary Jane said in a quiet voice, “How long have you known?”

“Oh, dear, give me credit,” she chuckled. “Why would not just one, but two super-villains have anything to do with little old me? Let alone you, Mary Jane. We only have one person in common. And Peter's behavior the last two years has been so different from the way he used to act growing up.” Aunt May placed a soft, wrinkled hand over hers to reassure her. “But I finally put it together the night after he confessed his part in Ben's death. When I got over my shock, the pieces seemed to fall into place.”

“Then you know he blames himself totally for what happened. He thinks the only way he can even partially atone for it, is by helping others.”

“I've told him I don't blame him for it, goodness knows.” May noticed the coffee had stopped brewing, and got up to fetch the carafe. “But I have a question for you. How long have you known?”

Mary Jane took the pot and poured for both of them. “For sure?  Only a few weeks… But honestly, it was like I’d always known. There were little hints here and there, but I couldn't let myself believe it. After he saved me from Doc Ock, I saw him without the mask. That's when I had to face the truth.”

“And the astronaut never stood a chance after that, did he?” May chuckled again.

“No,” she admitted. She took a sip of the coffee. “But still, Peter pushed me away again. He didn't want me to take the risk. I had to convince him that I had a right to decide for myself.”

“And I am so glad that you did! That dear boy never thinks of himself anymore.” She noticed Mary Jane's pie was untouched. “Go ahead, take a bite.”

Mary Jane lifted the fork to her mouth and tasted it. “Delicious. Just like everything you cook.”

“Thank you. Come and enjoy it any time. My home is your home, now. Don't forget that. And make sure my boy comes over here as often as he can manage. He needs some normalcy in his life.”

“I will try, Aunt May.” It was wonderful to be here – she felt so comfortable and accepted in a way she had never felt in her own home. They finished their dessert leisurely, talking for quite a while after.

- - - - -

Several hours later, Peter walked up the hallway to Aunt May's. Aunt May insisted that you go see her when you got finished, Mary Jane had said. She had had a secretive look about her, but he didn't argue. He had always felt guilty when he had to duck out like that.

He knocked on the door. “Come in,” he heard from inside.

Tentatively, he entered, looking into the living room from the entryway. “Aunt May, it's me.”

“Peter, you're back,” she called from her bedroom. “Take a seat, I'll be right there.”

He sat, and turned toward the sound of her voice. As she came toward him, she slipped something small into her pocket. “Everything taken care of?”

“Yes, everything's fine. My, um, errand, took longer than I thought it would.”

“Oh, don't you worry about that. Mary Jane and I had a nice long talk. Did she tell you anything about it?” She fussed with her skirt as she sat down next to him.

“The only thing she told me is that you wanted to see me.” Now they were both being secretive. He was starting to get a bad feeling about it.

“Peter,” she finally looked straight at him. “You've been keeping something from me. I understand why, you were worried about me. I just want you to know I am proud of you, and am glad that you have someone to share your troubles with.”

Peter sat straight up, every muscle tensed. “Did MJ… did she...?”

“No, of course not. She just got me to admit what I had already hinted at.” Aunt May gave Peter a stern look. “She would never betray you, Peter. She loves you too much.”

A pained expression came over his face. “I didn't want you to worry, or to put you in danger.”

“Even when we didn't know, we were being put in danger,” she chided him gently. “You had to save us anyway. Knowing will help us to deal with it better, dear.”

“I hope so, Aunt May.” He wasn't totally convinced of that, but there was probably no convincing them either. The women in his life were strong-willed, he'd give them that. You wouldn't have it any other way, Parker, he mused.

“But enough about that. I had a more pressing reason to talk to you.” She cleared her throat, suddenly uncomfortable. “I didn't want to say anything with Mary Jane here, but... you are moving in together, so...” He'd never seen Aunt May at such a loss for words.  After struggling a few moments more, she seemed to come to a decision. “There is no good way to say this... have you and Mary Jane... been... intimate?”

He blushed crimson. “I thought as much,” she stated knowingly. “The way you looked at each other, touched, kissed... a mother can tell, you know.” She put her hand on top of his, pierced him with a serious stare. “Peter, you had better be planning to marry her.”

“Marry her? I've never wanted anything else!” His dream of marrying her on a hilltop was bright in his mind. “But Aunt May, I'm broke. I can't afford a ring, let alone an expensive wedding. We're not the Jamesons.”

“A wedding doesn't have to be expensive, just filled with love. As for the other,” she pulled something from her pocket and pressed it into his hands.

It was a small jewelry box.  He opened it slowly, to find two simple gold bands. “These were your parents',” she explained. “Your mother put into her will that she wanted you to have them.”

“You've had these all this time?” he marveled.

“Yes, and I think the time has come to give them to you.” She leaned over and kissed him on the cheek. “Now make that sweet girl an honest woman.”

Peter wrapped her into a long hug, and whispered hoarsely, “I love you, Aunt May. I will do right by her, I promise.” When the hug ended, he stood up. “I should get back to her now. I will find the right time to give it to her. Soon, I swear.”

“Take care of each other. And don't be a stranger. Come as often as you can.”

“I will. See you later, Aunt May. And thank you again.” He gave her a goodbye kiss on the cheek, started for the door, then suddenly thought better of it. She’s ten floors up. It would be a lot quicker to… And faster than May could detect, he was standing at the window in his Spider-Man costume, small bundle in hand. She gave him an approving nod and proud smile. Peter saluted her silently, then sprang into the night.


Continued in Enquiring Minds, Part 2 of this post-Spider-Man 2 trilogy.

59 days until Spider-Man 3!! Don't forget the 7 1/2 minute preview on after Heroes tonight!
Tags: fanfiction, spider-man

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