Peter Parker is a decently reasonable person.
When cars cut him off in the crosswalk, he reasons that whoever it was must have some really important place to be. When they forget to include the chopsticks when he and May are feeling “larby,” he reasons that it’s better for the environment anyway.
When Flash is feeling particularly ruthless with his teasing during Decathlon practice...well...that gets to him a little, but after overhearing his conversation with his driver at the airport he’s learned that there’s more going on there than any of them truly know.
So basically, Peter likes to think he’s an overall good person, even outside of the whole vigilante justice schtick he has going on.
And he would be right, if it weren’t for MJ and Brad Davis. Them. The two of them together bring out a side of Peter that he would rather pretend did not exist.
To call it his #pettyqueen side would be just a bit of an exaggeration...but only just.
There is the small comfort that MJ has still been sitting with her two losers at lunch time, and though it is only a small comfort, Peter cherishes these moments.
He had felt so close to something seriously awesome with MJ in Prague, but after she confronted him about his secret and basically shot down any hope he had that she felt the same, seeing her anywhere near Brad Davis stings just that little bit more.
And speaking of, Peter is doing his best not to seethe as he watches Brad and MJ in the lunch line. He knows that they have the period before lunch together and that’s how they always end up in the line beside each other.
He knows this and yet, he can’t help the voice that whispers in his ear that MJ likes Brad and that’s why she walks into the cafeteria sidled up to him.
Every day he can feel his blood boiling as he watches Brad playfully nudge at MJ’s arm and as he watches MJ look like she doesn’t totally hate it. The smallest (it’s a really small one, okay) smirk pulls at her lips before she has time to school her face into it’s default indifference and maybe Peter’s imagining it, but MJ always seems to glance in his direction when it happens.
Okay, he’s completely imagining it, but these tiny glances are like fresh water to a dying man in a desert and Peter is thirsty, okay?
“I’m not saying that the election is rigged, but it’s literally impossible to deny that gerrymandering hasn’t completely skewed the results in favor of the republicans and that’s all I’m saying,” is the first sentence he hears when her tray hits the table across from him and next to one Ned Leeds.
Ned, who’s become used to his best friend’s ridiculous behavior, is kicking Peter’s leg under the table to get his attention because he’s been so distracted by his own thoughts since he spotted Brad and MJ.
It isn’t until another tray lands right next to his and he hears “Classic, MJ. Amirite???” that Peter realizes he’s smack dab in the middle of his own personal nightmare.
Actually... even his subconscious doesn’t hate him enough to dream this up.
He looks at Ned, maybe a little frantically, and all Ned can do is shrug. He’d been trying to tell Peter for the last 2 minutes since he’d seen the two of them walking over.
Brad, ever oblivious to the fiery look Peter is shooting from his periphery, forges on, “MJ is so woke, yeah? I totally agree!”
“Of course you do.”
It’s a comment that’s meant for no one’s ears and Peter’s almost certain that no one’s heard until he feels a swift kick to his shin. He raises his eyebrows at Ned in a silent question, and his confusion only grows when Ned’s perplexed face mirrors his own. Another (harder) kick hits his other leg, and he turns his attention forward only to see MJ facing away from him with a blank look on her face.
“Nedward,” she nods in greeting as she munches the fries on her tray,“what do you think?”
Peter would almost believe he’d hallucinated the kicking if not for that same barely there smirk on her face.
Ned for his part can only chuckle nervously, “Bold of you to assume I’d have an opinion on…” he glances quickly across the table at the two boys, “...this.”
MJ gives a closed lipped smile and breathes “Nice,” but continues to look at him expectantly.
“Well,” he begins, looking helplessly between MJ and Peter and Brad before swallowing thickly.
“You know actually, I’ve always heard it’s better for your health to say out of…” he pauses with another weighted look between Peter and Brad, “politics.”
MJ hums noncommittally,"Neutrality is at times a graver sin than belligerence."
She’s still talking to Ned (he thinks?) when her eyes slide over to meet his and she continues, casually dipping her fries into Peter’s ketchup.
“You’ve got to be willing to put yourself out there no matter the risks.”
And maybe in that moment, Peter falls deeper in love with her and he seriously didn’t think that was possible. But what’s worse is that he’s not the only one.
“Beauty and the Brains right here, you guys. I love how MJ is always challenging social norms. Our generation is lucky to have her.”
And maybe it’s hearing the words “beauty” and “love” and “Mj” in the same sentence that sets him over, but Peter sits up straighter. Turns his body to face Brad fully and Ned shrinks in his seat.
“So Brad, what brings you over to our table today?”
If MJ is at all interested in where this line of conversation is headed, she hides it well and if Brad is at all intimidated, it doesn’t show and he answers boldy.
“Just couldn’t get enough of MJ today. Didn’t know I needed to make a reservation.” He’s facing Peter head on now, barely bothering to pretend he doesn’t know what this is really about.
Brad had his own plans in Europe too.
“Oh, no. No reservation needed,” Peter starts, drawing on some of that confidence he feels when he’s wearing the suit and standing high above the city, “I’ve just been eating lunch with MJ for the better part of a year and you’ve, like...never sat with us before.”
(And maybe Peter flexes his muscles a little...because he can).
(And maybe Peter misses MJ appreciating him flexing his muscles).
Brad is gaping at a bluntness he’s never seen from Peter, fully prepared to argue until his friends call his name from a few tables over as if by cosmic intervention. He begrudgingly gathers his tray with one last longing look at MJ, who now seems purposefully disinterested in this line of conversation.
It’s quiet after that. That is until the tension bubble bursts as Ned helpfully provides around laugh, “If you can call that eating lunch with MJ when we spent the majority of that time staring at Li- OW!”
He receives a kick in the shins and smack to the arm simultaneously and grouches under his breath something that sounds acutely familiar to “sort out your shit” and another mumble about “bruising easily,” but Peter and MJ are too wrapped up in their own heads to try to make out the words. They continue the rest of the lunch in a tense silence.
Peter thinks he’s maybe 20 seconds away from passing out from holding his breath when MJ inhales like she intends to say something.
She always was the fearless one. Spider-man be damned.
“So,” she hedges, finally looking up to meet Peter’s eyes, “for a second there, I thought the two of you might ask to borrow my ruler and excuse yourselves to the bathroom…”
The furious butterflies in her stomach were definitely worth being the cause of the sweeping blush currently blooming across Peter Parker’s face.
The next time he sees MJ, she’s leaned (though Peter would prefer to say trapped) at her locker with none other than Brad fucking Davis.
MJ is facing him with her back to the lockers and her books hugged protectively to her chest as he leans a possessive hand against the lockers above her left shoulder.
It’s an intimate position and when he actually hears Brad complimenting MJ’s eyes (her eyes), Peter has had enough. Sure, he’d had his chance to tell MJ the truth on that bridge and he sort of (completely) chickened out, but Peter cannot spend the rest of the year watching this… this disaster unfold.
He’s lost a lot at his young age and if anything, it should have taught him to live for each moment. And to tell people how you feel. And this is exactly what he’s thinking when he walks up to the pair and stops just at MJ’s right side.
Peter’s ready to do this. To wage some epic duel for his lady’s hand and is all set to throw his hat into the ring when MJ looks over at him and everything suddenly doesn’t matter.
Because the look in her eyes, her perfectly brown (seriously??) eyes, is well...screaming. She’s clearly uncomfortable and now that Peter’s really looking, it’s obvious.
Her knuckles are clenched too tightly around the spines of the books she’s holding and she’s pressing herself as far back into the cold metal as she can manage and Brad cannot take a fucking hint.
And that, if anything, makes Peter stop. He softens the confrontational stance he’d taken up when he’d walked over and quirks and eyebrow at MJ. When she quickly rolls her eyes up, he grins at her.
MJ is first and foremost, his friend. One of his only friends. One of his best friends and all she needs is his help right now.
(Later it’ll seem so obvious that she didn’t need anything. This is MJ we’re talking about and maybe just maybe she simply wanted his help).
Whatever the reason, Peter turns his attention to Brad, who’s been standing there glaring at Peter the entire time. Neither Peter or MJ had really noticed (or cared).
“Hey, man!” Peter smiles. “You mind if I steal MJ for a second? There’s something in the library I really need her help with…” he finishes with wide urgent eyes.
Before Brad can even protest, MJ is sliding out from under his arm. “Am I a 15th century housewife? Need my old man’s permission to go out to market, Parker?”
Peter is straight up cheesing at her now, ready to let her pull him away, but not before turning back to Brad.
“Thanks, man. Hey, enjoy your afternoon!” is all he says clapping a friendly hand onto Brad’s shoulder, and then MJ is wrapping her fingers around Peter’s wrist and tugging.
If Brad buckles a little under the force of it and if MJ smirks a little at Peter as she watches, that’s unimportant. Completely irrelevant. Wouldn’t even make the papers on a slow day.
Peter sometimes forgets how nice it is that she now shares his secret. It’s what makes these secret moments possible.
When he finally recovers from the fact that MJ is touching him, he realizes that she actually took him to the library. He stops walking and it causes her to stop too, the two of them now facing each other.
They’d been just wandering through the stacks and as MJ meets his eyes, Peter is acutely aware that she still hasn’t let go of his wrist. It says more than he could ever hope for.
“Hey, uh MJ? I...I really need to talk to you about something,” He’s looking down at her fingers still gently holding onto him and once he starts talking he finds he can’t stop.
“...and I know you probably weren’t actually talking to me but at lunch you said something about putting yourself out there and I realized that we haven’t been totally honest with each other.”
She squeezes twice to get his attention and quirks an eyebrow. Peter sees the question she’s asking and maybe he starts to panic.
“Um...I mean I’m not saying you’re a liar I just mean that I’ve been thinking about you and oh, wow that sounds like a line and I-”
She shoots forward suddenly, interrupting his ramble with a kiss. It’s barely a brush of lips but it’s enough to send Peter’s entire body off kilter.
“And...you kissed me. What..?” Peter’s chuckling lightly in disbelief as he gazes at her like he’s never seen her before. And maybe he hasn’t really, until now.
“I don’t really have much luck when it comes to getting close to people…”
This look of vulnerability is new for her and Peter slides his wrist free to tangle their fingers together. She seems to draw strength from it as she inhales shakily but keeps her eyes steady on his.
“So, I lied.” They both know this moment is important. It’s the most important. “I wasn’t just watching you because I thought you were Spider-man…”
And there it is. Just like that it’s a whole new world for them. Their skin is warm and tingling where Peter’s still got his fingers tangled up with hers.
There’s so much he wants to say, to tell her. He’s buzzing now knowing that she feels even a fraction of what he’s been feeling the past few months.
His body is drawn to hers subconsciously, him moving forward until MJ gasps lightly when she feels her back hit one of the shelves.
They’re so so close now. Peter could count her eyelashes when he exhales, “That’s great.”
His hands have graduated to resting lightly on MJ’s hips. He doesn’t want to shatter whatever spell they’re under so he moves slowly and carefully. Always watching MJ’s face for any signs that this isn’t what she wants.
“I don’t want us to break.” It’s a confession, breathed so quietly between them that MJ feels more than she hears it. It’s his last admission before they truly change what they are to each other. It’s not too late, but Peter can feel the time to turn back running out.
MJ is so important to him. She’s team Spider-man and he needs her. Needs that. This thing that’s been growing between them. It’s not more important than that.
Almost as if she can hear his brain over thinking she reaches up (finally) and laces her fingers at the back of Peter’s neck. She smiles at him and it’s a smile he’s never seen. One just for him.
“I think I’ll like it better broken.”
And then they’re kissing. They’re kissing in the school library, between the stacks like every fucking cliche high school romance movie ever made.
The kiss is new and exciting, but it’s not shy. They’re both a little desperate as their mouths mold together for the first time. MJ’s fingers have threaded into Peter’s hair and Peter has a solid grip around her waist.
The only thing Peter can hope for is that no one needs any books from down this aisle. He never wants this to stop, and Peter knows now that he has never truly taken a breath until he was breathing in MJ’s tiny satisfied sighs.
She breaks away as she tilts her head back against the books to gasp, and Peter obviously takes that as an invitation to explore the long column of her neck.
The taste of her skin is making him dizzy, but the way MJ clutches at his shoulders when he introduces his tongue into the mix keeps him grounded and focused, okay? He’s almost in a trance as he mumbles between sucking kisses, “I really like you.”
MJ’s beginning to pant lightly as she laughs and the fingers still wrapped up in his hair tug until he meets her gaze. “I really like you too.”
Her eyes are bright and she’s smiling and her face is attractively flushed and fuck Peter loves her.
When they walk into school holding hands the next morning, as fate would have it, they end up walking right past Brad at his locker. Peter tries (tries) not to be smug, but he can’t stop himself from pausing to press his free hand to Brad’s shoulder with a profound, “Thanks, man.”
It’s totally worth it when they turn the corner and MJ smacks him across the back of his head.
“You idiot…” she scoffs, but it’s all affection and she’s blushing and Peter can’t help but push her into the nearest wall, leaning up to kiss her.
MJ whispers a breathless, “don’t get used to pushing me around, Parker. That was a one time deal,” against his mouth. He actually fucking smirks right in her face, pressing closer if that’s possible and challenges, “ Tell me you don’t like it, Michelle.”
For all his boy scout charm and puppy energy, she just...simply could not have seen this coming. MJ is all ready to argue but then she takes in the dark confidence, the hands sliding lower down her back, the steady gaze and fuck...she can’t.
(And maybe she’s fucked.)
(And maybe she loves him.)