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Birthday Fic: Learning Together, 1/1

Title: Learning Together
Author: htbthomas
Fandom: Spider-Man
Characters: May Parker (Aunt May), young Peter Parker

Rating: G
Word Count: 839 words
Summary: A week after Peter comes to live with them, May and Peter do a little bonding. 

Author's Notes: A birthday ficlet for fairfax_verde. Thanks to van_el for the advice and mark_clark for the beta.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

May had only barely lifted the flaps on the old box when her hands froze.  An unexpected trembling took over her limbs as she stared for long minutes at the lone scrap of fabric visible inside.

 

Finally breaking her inertia, she tucked a wispy strand of graying hair back behind one ear.  Don’t be silly, May Reilly Parker. It’s only a box full of old clothes, she chided herself.

 

But it was more than that.  The no-nonsense side of her personality was sure she’d gotten over it years ago…

 

Slowly, May sat beside the box on the twin bed, and opened the flaps wide.  She placed her hand on the soft yellow fleece and traced the outlines of the embroidered duck on the breast, before eventually lifting it out and settling it in her lap.

 

She had forgotten about these old baby clothes, hand-me-downs that a friend had given to her after her own son had outgrown them.  May had placed them high atop the guest room closet, saved in hopes that one day this room would become a nursery.

 

But that had been decades ago, and season after season of cleaning hadn’t turned up the lone little box.  Not when the room had seen little use, even by the few guests they had entertained.

 

That changed a week ago.  This room was now occupied by a timid little boy with sad eyes, a boy who missed his parents so much.  May wasn’t sure how best to raise him – she had no experience with children at all – but he had no one else.  And he was family.  That was all that mattered.

 

He needed a space of his own, too.  And this closet full of an old woman’s forgotten treasures was not the best way for a young boy to start a new life.

 

Suddenly, May heard a creaking on the floorboards outside the room.  She looked up to see Peter’s small face poking into the doorframe.  Her hands stilled, she hadn’t realized that she had been stroking the fabric, lost in thought.  How long had she been sitting there?

 

She shook her head to clear the cobwebs, placed the fuzzy sleeper to the side, and beckoned for Peter to enter the room. “Come here, honey.”  He still didn’t feel very comfortable in this new house – she wondered idly how much of that was awkwardness in his new situation, and how much was natural shyness.

 

He walked tentatively toward her, holding his place in a book that looked much too large for his hands.  “Um, Au—aunt May, could you help me with this word?”

 

“Of course, dear,” she assured, taking the book from him.  Her eyes widened when she saw the page and its title: Radioactivity.  She flipped the book briefly closed to read the cover.  Even though the cover featured many colorful illustrations, the title was surprising: Science Encyclopedia.  She didn’t think it was really the kind of book most six year olds would read. “Did you get this from the library today, Peter?”

 

“Yes, ma’am.  I got five books, as many as they would let me…” He suddenly looked concerned.  “Was that okay?”

 

“Oh, no problem at all!” His face softened in relief.  May decided not to question his choice of reading material, after all, his father Richard had been quite brilliant. Gently, she continued, “What did you want to know?”

 

He pointed to a word in the second paragraph.  “I think it says…” He squinted, leaning closer to the page, “…ra-di-o-i-so-topes… is that what it says?”

 

She looked at the context: There are three types of radiation given out by radioisotopes: alpha, beta and gamma.  “That’s exactly what it says.”

 

“I read that an isotope is a different form of an atom…” he continued with growing strength, to May’s astonishment, “but why ‘radio’…? Does it have something to do with sound?”

 

Brilliant is an understatement, she thought.  “I think it has something to do with radioactivity.  But I’m no expert, mind you.”

 

A flash of a smile appeared on his face, the first she remembered seeing since they had first met at the funeral.  “Oh, yeah!  That makes sense!  Thanks, Aunt May.” He hopped up and started to leave the room, book in hand.

 

“Peter?” she called impulsively, not wanting this moment of bonding to end.  “Wait a moment, would you?”

 

He turned around puzzled but expectant.  “Yes?”

 

“I have a few boxes I need to take to Goodwill.” She quickly folded the sleeper, placed it back in the box and shut the lid. “Could you help me carry them to the front porch?”

 

“Sure!” He set the book down carefully to lean against the wall, and eagerly held his hands out to take a box.

 

She watched him walk toward the front door with a fresh sense of purpose. Just before she hefted the larger of the boxes to follow him, she spared a quick glance for the now empty shelves.  It’s time for some new memories, she thought, and shut the closet door.

 

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

 

Original prompt: I don't know why she and Ben never had children. I think it would be nice to have something about May from the time when Peter first came to live with them.

Is your birthday soon? Request a ficlet!

Comments

( 17 comments — Leave a comment )
earlgrayhot
Oct. 21st, 2007 01:13 pm (UTC)
That was lovely :) You really do have quite a talent for story-telling!
htbthomas
Oct. 21st, 2007 10:12 pm (UTC)
Thank you, Anya! What a sweet comment! I do enjoy writing parent-child scenes. :)
liliaeth
Oct. 21st, 2007 01:48 pm (UTC)
awww, just such a wonderful look at May and little Peter.
htbthomas
Oct. 21st, 2007 10:13 pm (UTC)
Thanks! I wasn't sure what to do with this one, and I'm so glad it turned out!
stolenpostit
Oct. 21st, 2007 06:24 pm (UTC)
I saw this request in the birthday post and I have been waiting for it. It is so adorable and sad. It's such a sweet beginning to their great relationship.

Great job.
htbthomas
Oct. 21st, 2007 10:14 pm (UTC)
Ah, that's cool! I wonder how many others have done the same? Some of the requests have been in other venues, but the bulk of them are in the request thread. :)
taro_twist
Oct. 22nd, 2007 01:14 am (UTC)
Eee, this was adorable! Little Peter was so cute with his crazy advanced reading and worrying that he'd checked out too many library books and asking Aunt May for help with the words. *hugs him* And May was so sweet, too ... although now I'm curious, too, as to why she and Ben never had any children.

Anyway, I love kid!fic, and this was definitely kid!fic at its best. :D
htbthomas
Oct. 22nd, 2007 01:26 am (UTC)
Re May and Ben never having kids: It was hard to work into the story and strive to keep the same tone, but the Marvel Encyclopedia entry I read said that her own mother resented having kids, and so she was worried it would ruin her own marriage.

But I think the May of the movies always seemed a bit different, and so I'm not sure what background Raimi gives her.

Thanks - I love writing these stories, and I don't really have a good excuse most of the time. :)
skalja
Oct. 22nd, 2007 06:29 am (UTC)
D'awwwww! They're so sweet! And Peter's so smart!

Flashbacks of the Parker family when Peter was growing up have this balance of deep happiness and melancholy to them, and you've hit that perfectly.
htbthomas
Oct. 22nd, 2007 09:48 am (UTC)
That was just the balance I was going for, so I'm really glad! Thanks for the review!
spiletta42
Oct. 22nd, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
That was lovely and oh so real. Well done!
htbthomas
Oct. 22nd, 2007 04:14 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I was striving to make it feel real, so I appreciate you taking the time to comment! ♥
fairfax_verde
Oct. 22nd, 2007 08:34 pm (UTC)
Oh! This is just wonderful! I had wondered what you would do with the prompt I gave you, and you have created something truly beautiful.

My heart aches for both Aunt May with her forgotten treasures and young Peter with his sad eyes, and then the ending has such a hopeful feeling.

This is the most amazing birthday gift, and it really took the sting out of the first day back from vacation. Thank you thank you thank you!!
htbthomas
Oct. 22nd, 2007 11:00 pm (UTC)
I'm soooo glad you liked it! It was really a wonderful prompt, and I was very inspired. I hope you had a great birthday - I know your trip was amazing!
fairfax_verde
Oct. 23rd, 2007 01:06 pm (UTC)
We had a wonderful time! I took over 500 pictures. My kids really enjoyed themselves and it was nice to have my parents with us, too.

You are the best writer of kidfic! I'm glad my prompt inspired you.
mark_clark
Oct. 30th, 2007 04:42 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful. It's interesting to see that May had wanted kids before Peter came to live with his aunt and uncle. That doesn't get explored much. I've read a story once that May didn't want kids until Peter came into her life. He grew on her and changed her mind.

Loved the reference to what will happen to Peter in the future.

The ending was sweet. Good job.
htbthomas
Oct. 30th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Yes, in the comics May didn't want kids, it's true, but I decided that movieverse May was different enough to want them.

I thought you might like that reference. ;)
( 17 comments — Leave a comment )

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