Ladies and Gentlemen, and Variations Thereupon, it's been a long trek but we're finally here. The end. This was my first multi-chapter fic and I learned a lot from it and from you, my fans. I can't express how grateful I am that you stayed with this story. Thank You All and Enjoy.
Peter balanced on the balcony railing and stared out at the sea of city lights. It had been two weeks since the bridge; it felt like eight years. It was overwhelming to say the least. He and Aunt May moved into the Avenger's Tower; they had a whole floor to themselves with all luxuries that Tony Stark could afford. And when overwhelmed the two Parkers fell back one what they did best. Peter brooded and Aunt May cooked. Lucky for his waistline she had a whole team of hyper metabolic superhumans to feed.
Inside the apartment, dishes clattered and the other Avengers shouted and laughed. The smell of rich stew and homemade bread were wafting through the door. It was the kind of overbearing chaos that he always wanted in his family. He didn't want to go in. Aunt May had made a near full recovery and had accepted him as Spider-Man more than he ever hoped. She was happy. The other Avengers were happy.
Things were great.
It was hard to be around all that when you felt like someone had ripped out your guts.
Soft footsteps came up behind him on the balcony.
Nat stood just outside the door. Other than the metric ton of paperwork she'd helped him with, she avoided him. And he avoided her right back. There was a thousand ton weight hanging over their heads and neither of them wanted to be the one to start poking it.
"Yeah." He answered.
He didn't look at her. She didn't move or say anything, just waited for him. Rocks were dropping into his stomach one by one. He didn't want to do this. But Nat only wanted to help. The letter had been in his pocket for twelve days, fourteen hours and thirty-six minutes. Out of the corner of his eye, he could see Nat skimming the contents. He knew every single one by heart.
I know this is probably the worst way I could tell you this. You'll read this over and over for days. Every time you see this, it will cut you open again. Years from now, you'll still wonder if you could have been better, more understanding, more involved. All I can say is the truth: It's not you.
I love everything about you, Peter. You are the greatest man I could ever met. There is no one, not even Captain America, with your strength and bravery. Only you can make my head spin with just a few sentences. You made me feel safe and happy when my world was falling apart. Even when you were being torn apart inside, you didn't let it slow you done. You held yourself together. Just because people needed you. If it were just you, I could honestly imagine spending the rest of my life by your side.
It's not just you. There will always be that other side, your other side. When I see what you do, the lives you save, I should feel proud of what you do. But I can only think of my mother. My mother, who would stay home, make us our lunch, and kept the home fires burning. She would stare into space, beautiful eyes dull. Lock herself in the bathroom just to cry. The strong, beautiful woman who broke when That Day came; when she found out the man she loved won't be coming home again. I can't be that woman Peter. I can't sit at home and wait for the day if you move one moment too slow.
My family is moving. I won't tell you where. I will never love anyone the way I love you Peter. Know that.
He heard the letter close when she finished, "I loved her."
He still did; he would probably always. Nat came up to his side. She leaned against the railing; her face was that blank pale expression it always was.
"That's not enough."
It was a simple sentence but it devastated him. Peter wanted to kick himself. He wanted to break the world and tear his hair out. He wanted Gwen back.
"Did you lose him?" The words almost choked him.
It was the first question he'd asked about him. His father. The words sounded strange even in his head.
He waited for anything else before saying what he really wanted to know. "You still love him?"
Did you ever? He wanted to ask. There were a hundred ways it could have happen. ninety-nine were not good. Nat smiled gently at him.
"Always." There was something on her face, in her cool green eyes; a maelstrom of pain, worry, joy, hope. "It's a hard life. You have to really want it."
He turned his back to her. "I don't want this." he grumbled.
"Neither did I." Nat stated.
Peter turned back to her. His mouth twisted into a half-smile. "But you do now?"
"Yes and No" She shrugged, her tone growing disgusted, "I didn't grow up wanting to fight insane gods…."
"But…" he pressed
She thought about it, head tilting.
"But I love the costume."
Peter stared at her. It was a joke, a lame ass joke. Nat glanced back at the door and grinned.
"Don't tell the others I'm not a robot." She whispered, "They might freak out."
This woman is just like me.
The thought hit Peter like a ton of bricks. There was something comforting in that. Nat's smile softened. One of her small pale hands covered his and squeezed. After a moment's hesitation, he squeezed back.
"Either get inside or I'm eating your share of dinner."
Peter loved Mr. Stark with the fire of a thousand rabid fangirls but there was no doubt he could really kill a mood. Nat rolled her eyes and gestured to the dining room. The Avengers were seated around the large
table, conversations flowing around them. Peter sat next to Nat and Aunt May. Warmth settled into his stomach as the men and women around him argued and laughed. Maybe this wouldn't be so bad after all.