I finally decided to make another James and the Giant Peach one-shot. I know some stories in this section did have James sort of getting into a romance, but I wanted to do one where he's sort of having problems with that department and getting some helpful advice from some of his family. Anyway, enjoy!
Centipede had his trademark cigar in his mouth while he lazily stood against the counter in the kitchen. He had just gotten back home after another exhausting day at his job. Being major was great and all, but sometimes the insect just had one of those days where he was the pretty agitated by the many city demands - hence why he was smoking; it helped him with cooping with stress.
He wasn't too surprised to find most of the other insects (besides Miss Spider) missing from the residence at this time; they were at their own jobs and usually always came back a little later than he did. Though, he was pretty sure that James would be getting back from school any second now, even if his timing was a little off today (which made him think... when exactly did he start keeping track of the kid's time like some overly-protective parent?).
"I see that you're still in that same spot."
Not having to think twice about whose voice that was, Centipede turned his head in the direction of the doorway, grinning a tiny bit as he tapped the end of his cigar on the edge of the counter. "And you're still in one of your moods again, Spidey."
The female Spider rolled her eyes, walking in. "Hmph, and not to mention you're like your usual insolent self."
"Aw, you know I was only teasing ya." He stretched out his many arms, some in each wrapped themselves around the spider as she approached. "Imagine would it would be like for you if I wasn't 'round."
"It would be a lot more quiet," muttered Miss Spider.
"I consider that a compliment from you, Angel Fangs," Centipede said, causing the spider to smirk.
Not even a moment after he said that did the sound of the front door opening made them come to attention.
"Ah, that must be James," Miss Spider stated as she got out of Centipede's embrace (somewhat to his despite) and left the kitchen to go greet the boy in the foyer. "Hello, James; how was school today?"
James smiled at seeing the female insect, but his smile still look a bit forced. "It was good, but kind of long. I might just sit in the living room for a little while to do some homework if that's okay."
"Are you sure you're not hungry at the moment?" she asked.
"I'll have something later. Thank you anyway."
Miss Spider watched the eleven-year-old head out into the other room. She felt something was off by James's enthusiasm today. They had been living together for a little over three years now and the insects knew instantly when something was troubling the boy.
Centipede came out of the kitchen himself to see what was going on after hearing the conversation from there. "What's biting Jimmy?" he asked, trying to make it sound like he wasn't as concerned.
"I'm not sure," admitted the spider, still looking worried. "Perhaps a bad day at school."
The many-legged arthropod idly lit his cigar again after it had gone out. "Hey, this is Jimmy we're talking about. It's probably nothin'."
"I believe you should go talk to him."
Choking on his cigar, Centipede coughed several times to catch his breath before asking, "Me?"
Miss Spider's multiple pair of eyes locked onto him. "Yes, you. He didn't wish to talk to me about it; I could tell. Maybe he'll say something to you if you ask him."
"Ehh... Can't ol' Hopper do it when he gets back?" He hesitated, seeing the look been given to him and immediately shot all his hands up defensively. "Okay, okay, I'll go talk to him. Don't bite my head off, Angel Fangs."
"Hmm... that would be an interesting thought," Miss Spider pretended to muse.
"Oh, haha," Centipede said indignantly as he went off into the other room. Although, he really did hope that she wasn't partially serious about it.
But honestly... why did it have to be him trying to counsel the kid? He did care about James as much as the other insects since the human was something like a little brother to him. No, it was simply because Centipede wasn't too comfortable with giving the boy the kind of, well, meaningful advice that Mr. Grasshopper had a speciality at; even if he wouldn't admit it to the latter or anyone else in that manner.
He sighed. There wasn't really any point in beating around the bush now. He supposed he could give James a good male-to-male talk...
Peeking his head into the other room, it didn't take Centipede long to spot the eleven-year-old sitting in the living room with books and papers spread apart on the coffee table, working with that still slightly sulking look on his face.
Again, concern risen in Centipede. This time he didn't waste a moment to stroll casually into the room, making it look like he just got there. "Hey, Jimmy! Finally got back, eh?"
James lifted his head, having not seen the tall insect until then and quickly brightened up a little. "Hello, Mr. Centipede. How was your day?"
"Good as any other time, I guess," replied Centipede, going over and leaning against the side of the couch the boy was sitting on. "So how 'bout you, Jimmy?"
"Pretty much the same," James said, glancing down at his work again.
"What? The same ol' boring homework they give you?" Centipede gave a light-hearted chuckle, which quickly trailed off when he saw that his joke didn't even bring the human boy's head up again; that sullen look expression returning. He paused in his smoking and blew a couple puffs in silence for about a minute or so. Wow, this felt really awkward.
"Ya know you could always talk to one of us, right, Jimmy?"
"Then why aren't ya saying anything, kid? Spider's worried about you havin' some kind of problem."
James knew well that by him saying "Spider's worried" also meant that the insect next to him was worried.
"Well," he slowly began, "there's someone at school..."
Suddenly, Centipede became alert. "Somebody's pickin' on ya? Knew it! Who is the buster?" He clenched several of his hands into fists and threw "punches" in front of him at the air. "I show 'em the reason why I'm from Brooklyn when they mess with our boy!"
"Oh, no, it's not a bully!" James quickly assured, calming the insect. "It's actually, well... this girl..."
Centipede stared in stunned silence, making sure that he heard the human's words right. Then he broke out in a wide grin.
"A girl? Why didn't ya say so before, Jimmy?" he exclaimed, patting the embarrassed boy on the back. "What's this lucky gal's name? Where is she from?" Suspicion crossed his face. "She's not from New Jersey, is she?"
"No," the eleven-year-old assured again. "Her name is Alice and she moved from Virginia about a month ago. She's really nice, smart... and..."
The Centipede blew another smoke ring, his knowing grin still spreading. "And ya like her."
James flushed, suddenly becoming interested in reading his textbook really close to his face. "Well, um, she's just a friend."
"Can't fool this insect fella, kid," Centipede said, putting some of his arms across the human's shoulders. "I knew this day was comin'! Wait 'til ol' Hopper and Mrs. Ladybug finds out, 'cause they're going to be all over ya with questions about yer girlfriend!"
"Actually... she's not my girlfriend. I found out today... that she likes someone else."
Centipede blinked, his grin disappearing when he saw the eleven-year-old's expression turn downcast again.
"So... she doesn't know?"
James shook his head.
Argh, that's just what Centipede needed; another major guilt trip. He mentally gave himself a facepalm. He should not have said that. "Uh, sorry about that, kid..." he apologized, adjusting his hat. "So that's what's been botherin' ya?"
James only nodded.
The insect said nothing for a while (a kind of rare occurrence really). "Well... it's her loss, right? As my Pops always said; there are plenty of bugs in the earth. 'Sides, what kind of gal wouldn't want the guy who flew across the Atlantic on an overgrown peach to escape his abusive aunts?" He took his hat off and placed it on the boy's head, who peered up at him again. This in turn made the older insect smirk and wink at the boy. "That's A-class material in my book."
The eleven-year-old smiled a tiny bit, thankful for his friend's consideration.
"I didn't know you even had a book to begin with, Centipede."
Centipede nearly jumped out of his skin when he heard the voice of Miss Spider as she somehow gotten into the room without them noticing. How does she do that?
"How long have ya been there?" he questioned; a little more defensively after her small insult.
"Long enough to hear everything," Miss Spider replied, going on the other side of James's. "For once though, I agree with Centipede, James. You could have talked to any of us about that. There is no need to be embarrassed."
"You agree with me, Angel Fangs?" Centipede grinned cheekily. "I must be dreamin'."
"Oh, shush." Miss Spider placed a hand gently under James's chin so they would look directly into each other's eyes. "James, you are a very kind, clever, and handsome young man. I'm certain that even if this Alice doesn't return your feelings that you will find that special someone out there."
"Preferably someone who doesn't mind giant talking insects," added Centipede, promptly earning himself a small smack from the glaring spider. "Ow! What? You don't want another Spiker or Sponge, do ya?"
James laughed at their exchange, handing Centipede's hat back in the process. "Don't worry, it would be anyone like my aunts."
Miss Spider smiled, giving him a small kiss on the crown of his head. "Now that's all settled, why don't you take a small break from your assignments and have some dinner in a couple minutes? The others will surely be home by the time we sit down and we can all enjoy another family meal together."
"Alright, I'll be there as soon as I finish getting these last two math problems done."
The female spider nodded in understanding, turning around to head out the room.
Knowing well that this was a clear signal to leave too, Centipede started leaving himself. "I better get going too, so I could let you do what ya need, Jimmy."
He stopped, glancing back over his shoulder at the boy.
To avoid looking a little sappy, Centipede positioned his hat in a cool manner. "No problem, kid. But if ya ever need advice on girls, don't listen to anything the others say, and come to me 'bout it; I know all there is to know!"
James chuckled, looking back down to work on his math. He was really glad to have such unique, yet caring family. "I will."
I kind of felt like I didn't do James and Centipede well enough while still keeping them in-character, but I guess that's up to you readers about if I did or not. Although, I still think that I did a good job on some of the playful banter between Centipede and Miss Spider (I do actually support that pairing too, mind you). I always appreciate thoughts in reviews, so do kindly drop one by, please.