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Villain rehab

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May’s house had been halfway to falling down after the Spiders all fought inside, and temporary dimensional instability nearly finished the job. But there wasn’t a Spider Lair in the shed under her house by accident, and it would take a lot more than greedy supervillains to drive her out of her home.

Good thing that lair was there, though. Saved her from getting killed by falling roofing tiles.

She was in the process of bracing her support beams when there was a sound at the front. Bat in hand, she opened the door, and…

No one stood in front of her.

It wasn’t until her gaze dropped that she saw Liv.

“You look like you got hit by a bus,” May said, before she thought about it.

“Close enough,” Liv croaked.

May evaluated her quickly. The exoskeletal suit she’d constructed—despite octopuses not having any kind of skeletal structure, but when did someone who went by Doc Oc care about scientific accuracy—seemed to be holding her together, and seemed to have dragged her from…wherever she’d been. The tentacles were worse for wear, but those were fixable or replaceable. The woman they carried was another potential story.

“You helped kill my nephew,” May said, deliberately.

“Yeah.”

May sighed and put the bat down to free her hands. She was too old to help carry someone, but hopefully the tentacles could do most of the heavy lifting.

-

Liv was definitely a mess, but not as bad as May had expected. The head trauma was minimal, although there did seem to be concussion symptoms, and her suit had saved her from major breaks. It even crumpled in places to take impact and prevent internal bleeding.

But Liv wasn’t going to move much in the next few months. That much was clear.

She was small in May’s bed, her breath rattling as her chest moved. She’d inhaled particulates after an explosion, apparently. Not that May had needed to know that to know she’d been in the center of the action.

“You need to rest,” May said, after she’d tossed the remnants of the suit in the corner and left the woman on soft cushioning. Despite everything, Liv was conscious, somehow.

“Need to monitor my concussion,” Liv rasped. “Wake me every hour.”

May sighed heavily and took a chair in the corner. “You know, I want to get out of the house more. I didn’t want to take on remodeling and villain rehab.”

Liv’s breath had settled. She was asleep.

And she hadn’t even seemed to hear May’s quip. What a waste.

-

It was a long night, one where May felt every single second of the years she’d been alive.

Liv was improving. She took water the first three hours she woke, and a little oatmeal the fourth hour. May had always thought Liv’s power came from her suit design and general engineering prowess, but she obviously had something else going on because her wounds looked partially healed six hours in, and bruising had already advanced. It wasn’t as fast as Peter had healed, but it was definitely faster than May would.

How Ben and Peter were dead, and May and Liv were alive, she’d probably never know.

The edges of dawn were creeping through the plastic that covered May’s bedroom window when Liv stirred on her own.

“Bathroom,” she said, in almost a normal voice.

“How do you feel about outhouses?”

Liv was still too hurt to look unimpressed, especially since one of her eyes was swollen shut, but her quiet huff got the idea across.

“You’re lucky you and your friends didn’t completely wreck my indoor plumbing,” May said. She took some of Liv’s weight and helped her down the hall, which was actually easier without the weight of the suit involved.

“Why?” Liv asked.

“Why is my house trashed? You really need to ask that?”

“Why are you helping me?”

May wished she could sigh every feeling out of her body. Instead, she opened the bathroom door and propped Liv against the counter.

“Why do you think?” May asked.

Silence fell, and for an instant, the years after Ben’s death stretched between them. When May had gone back to work at a lab, and Liv had been doing her postdoc. How Liv was recruited by Fisk after they had made their little affair into something official, and how May had figured out Peter’s identity and Liv’s. How they had broken up, and May had gone to help Peter more intensively to distract herself from everything she was feeling.

May, being May, asked, “You need help peeing, or should I wait outside?”

Liv waved her off.

-

The sun was on its way to rising when May brought Liv back to the bedroom. Liv winced with every step and sighed gratefully when she got back into bed.

“I’m going to go have breakfast,” May said, once she’d tucked Liv in with more care than she probably needed. “I think you’re not in much danger from your brain swelling, so sleep yourself out.”

“May?”

She’d turned away, but she looked over her shoulder at the sound of her name.

“Thank you.”

May nodded once, shortly, and left the room. Coffee was calling her name, and something told her she’d need a lot of it in the future.