Pepper pulled out her phone and set it to record Morgan before asking, “Mo Mo, What do you think about Peter?”
“Petey? Is he coming over” Morgan asked. She jumped up in excitement smiling.
“Maybe later…Just tell me about him.” Pepper prompted.
“What do you want to know about Petey? He’s my favorite. My Petey pie. My partner in crime. Oops. I’m not supposed to tell you that. Pretend I didn’t…K, Mom? Peter helps me with writing my spelling words for school and coloring pictures. He cuddles with me on the couch when I’m sick. He plays princess tea party with me even though he hates it. Sometimes we’re pirates instead just for him…ARRGHH. That’s what Petey taught me a pirate says!” Morgan’s eyes danced with excitement.
“Petey sounds pretty great, Mo Mo. Anything else you love about him?” Pepper asked.
“Lots of stuff. Petey makes the best Mac N Cheese. You know his secret? Shh! I’ll tell you. Extra melty cheese before eating it. Petey is so nice. He’s even nice to mean people. You know why? Petey says that we don’t know what people are sad about and it’s our job to be extra kind when they are extra sad and sometimes mean people aren’t really mean, but they are extra sad instead. Makes sense, Right, Mama? Petey is super good at building stuff. He’s even better than Daddy at building stuff—“
“—HEY! I heard that!” Tony yelled from the kitchen.
“Ignore Daddy and continue…Why do you love Petey?” Pepper asked.
Morgan’s face scrunched up in thought, “I love Petey because he’s Petey and he loves me. That’s a silly question, Mama.”
“Now why do you love Spider-Man?” Pepper asked.
Morgan groaned, “Spider-Man…I don’t like that kid.”
Pepper laughed, “Why don’t you like Spider-Man?”
“He’s just not as great as Petey is when he’s just Petey. If he’s Spider-Man then he’s not here and then I miss him. He’s my Petey and if he’s Spider-Man then I have to share him with the people he’s saving. I hate sharing him, Mana. You hate sharing Petey too, right?”
“Well I think sharing has a purpose.” Pepper tried.
“I hate sharing Petey too, Mo Mo.” Tony yelled.
“See mama? We should just tell Petey Pie no more Spider-Man! Someone else can be Spider-Man!” Morgan answered as if that was the easiest thing in the world and honestly to a six year old it probably sounded like it was.
“Well if Peter isn’t Spider-Man then whose going to be Spider-Man?” Pepper asked.
Morgan frowned, “Umm. I think MJ can be Spider-Man? WE can just call her Spider-Woman or still Spider-Man. MJ doesn’t like labels.”
Pepper would have to remember to tell MJ that Morgan was listening to her and understanding more than they thought.“Why MJ?”
“Mama, MJ doesn’t like lots of people…Just me and Petey. If she doesn’t like people we won’t have to share her, right?” Morgan responded.
“Why won’t we have to share her because of this?” Pepper asked.
Morgan sighed, “Listen closer this time, Mama. I’ll tell you again though…”
“Oh. Thank you. You’re so kind.” Pepper smiled.
“—Petey says that he goes out as Spider-Man because people need him and Petey loves people. MJ does not love people like Petey does so she’ll stay here instead of going out as Spider-Man. THIS IS SIMPLE.”
“But then when would she go out as Spider-Man?” Pepper asked.
“If there is a big ‘mergency…Like when Daddy’s phone rings.” Morgan answered.
“Hmm. But Daddy’s phone doesn’t ring like that any longer.” Pepper reminded her daughter that Tony was retired.
“Nope. Now Petey’s does. You think we can make them stop calling Petey, Mama? I don’t want Petey to get hurt like Daddy.” Morgan asked her eyes filling with worry.
“I’m sure Petey will be extra careful so you don’t have to worry love.”
“Okay. I’m going to tell him to let MJ be Spider-Man? You think that’s a good plan, right?” Morgan just wanted to know her brother was safe. Pepper didn’t have it in her to say anything except, “Sure. It’s a good plan, Mo. Keep in mind that Peter may not want to quit.”
“Quit what?” Peter walked in and stomped his boots to get rid of the loose snow on the mat at the door before slipping the boots off so that he didn’t track snow into the cabin.
“PETEY!” Morgan jumped at him and he easily caught the six-year old.
“Morgan! How’s my favorite princess today?”
Morgan grabbed Peter’s cheeks with her hands and got a serious look on her, “Petey. Can you please let MJ be Spider-Man?”
Peter responded through squeezed cheeks, “MJ is too busy to be Spider-Man and she can’t stick to things like I can.”
“Well you can just build her sticky hands, Right? PLEASE, Petey!” Morgan begged.
“I’m sorry, Mo Mo. I can’t. I don’t want to stop being Spider-Man.” Peter answered softly. He wouldn’t lie to the six-year old.
“Then you can’t live with us no more and you can’t be my brother!” Morgan wiggled and Peter set her down.
“ANY LONGER NOT NO MORE, MO!” Peter yelled after her as she retreated.
She ran upstairs and they all heard her bedroom door slam shut.
“She hates me, right?” Peter sat down at the table.
“Oh no. She loves you, Peter.” Pepper said firmly.
“You saw that before, right? She doesn’t want me to be her brother any longer.”
“Yeah, but only because you won’t quit being Spider-Man and she hates sharing you. She doesn’t hate you right now. She hates Spider-Man and only because she misses you because you’ve been gone a lot.” Pepper squeezed his hand.
“I can’t just quit, Pepper.” Peter whined.
“Maybe you don’t need to quit…Maybe you just need to remind your partner in crime that you still have time for her.” Pepper suggested.
“HEY! That was our secret!” Peter said loudly.
“Yeah, what did you do to have to tell her that one?” Tony asked coming into the room.
“Nothing. I mean…Just nothing.” Peter looked down.
Tony just stared.
“Fine! We may have scratched one of your cars, but don’t worry…You can’t even tell. We fixed it.” Peter answered.
“I am going to refrain from getting super mad because I haven’t been able to tell so it must not look too bad, but please be more responsible!” Tony sighed.
“I was. Morgan opened her door into another car at the grocery store and I was trying to keep her out of trouble.”
“Well Morgan wouldn’t be in trouble because she’s adorable.” Tony teased.
“Then how come I get in trouble?”
“You’re not adorable.” Tony teased.
“I think you’re adorable.” Pepper laughed.
“That’s a pity compliment and it doesn’t count if it comes from a mom figure in your life.” Peter stood up.
“Where are you going?” Pepper asked.
“I need to talk to the Princess Pirate…Queen of the Mermaids.” Peter shook his head as he walked upstairs.
Peter knocked on Morgan’s bedroom door.
“What’s the password?” Morgan asked.
“Ahhh…Mac N Cheese?” Peter tried her favorite food of the week first.
“Dang it. How are you so smart?” Morgan opened the door.
“I go to school and eat all of my veggies.” Peter said he came in sitting by her on the bed.
“Even carrots?” Morgan asked scrunching up her face in disgust.
“No. Bad guys use them to make you weak. They suck the life right out of you.” Peter teased keeping a straight face.
“I knew it!’ Morgan whispered enthusiastically.
“Mo Mo? I’m sorry I haven’t been around a lot lately. You know I still love you, right?” Peter asked.
“Then how come you missed our tea party last week to be Spider-Man? You promised, Petey.” Morgan pointed out.
“I did promise, huh?” Peter said.
“Yep. You did. And you broke your promise and that’s mean.” Morgan told him.
“I’m sorry, Morgan. You’re right. I did break my promise. I didn’t mean to, but I did. How about I make it up to you with a tea party now?”
“Okay, but I get to be the Queen of the Mermaids. You have to be a fish.” Morgan shrugged.
“Just a fish?” Peter asked.
Morgan nodded and Peter laid down on the ground to flop around like a fish would out of water causing Morgan to burst into giggles.
Tony picked up Pepper’s phone from the table after everyone had gone to sleep. He opened up a new video in the area Pepper was saving videos for Peter for his birthday instead of a traditional birthday card.
He started a new one,
I honestly don’t know how we got to this point. Before I met you I was terrified to be a dad. BUT you came in my life with all of your happiness, enthusiasm, and desire to change the world and it was kind of contagious. You make people want to be a better person. You make me want to be a better person.
Fast forward to you snapping and I felt like for so long. I would stay awake to watch Morgan sleep because I couldn’t chance losing two kids. I don’t think my heart could take have taken it. Pepper kept trying to tell me you wouldn’t have blamed me, but I blamed me. I was trying to protect the universe and I forgot to protect my universe.
You know they came to me with this crazy idea to bring everyone back and I basically told them to get lost. I couldn’t lose what I had gained in Morgan. I didn’t want to chance losing even more, but I took one look at your picture and I knew you worth every risk I would have to take in order to get you back.
Peter, you’re still everything good in the world. You are kind, smart, the best big brother, loud, and chaos wrapped in an amazing package. You’re always so worried about being the best Spider-Man that you can be that I think you forget to see Peter Parker as the amazing person you are. Take Spider-Man out of the equation and you’re still one of my favorite people. You’re still my kid. I still love you because I don’t love you because you’re Spider-Man. I love you because you’re you.
Anyhow that’s enough of this for tonight. Happy Birthday, Kiddo. I love you 3000!”