This is set after the film, though for purposes of the story Peter, Gwen, Flash and all their classmates are only now in their final year. First chapter is an introduction to our protagonist and resident OC, but Peter obviously does come into it and remains a permanent fixture in future installments. If you like it, please let me know in a review so I can decide whether or not to post more. Enjoy (hopefully)!
"Miss Hatcher, please see me after class."
I nodded my acknowledgement, leaned further back in my seat and flipped open my textbook.
I like Mr Bay, but math was just not my friend. Up until this year, I'd managed to struggle through the basic levels, but now that we were moving on, I was falling behind and though my mom had offered to pay, I knew we couldn't really afford tuition. It was no mystery to me why Mr Bay wanted to see me after the bell.
I spent the rest of the period staring at the page of my textbook with my eyebrows furrowed, listening to the sounds of pencils scratching paper around me. I caught the kid across from my left glancing my way, and quickly pretended to write in some numbers.
When the bell rang I shoved my things into my bag and hitched it up my shoulder, ready for Mr Bay to try vainly to explain these numerical mysteries in a way that I'd understand. He was sitting at his desk at the front of the room, and looked at me with an almost pitying smile when I approached.
"I take it you know why I asked you to stay," he said.
I shrugged one shoulder and gave him an awkward smile. "I think I have an idea, Sir."
"I won't waste your time, then." His expression turned serious, he folded both hands in front of him and met my eyes. "What is it that you were hoping to do, when you graduate?" he asked.
"Veterinary science," I replied cautiously. "I know I need to pass math for that – I am trying."
He waved a hand and shook his head. "No, no. You misunderstand me, Alex. I'm not here to threaten your future with bad grades – not at all."
I waited for him to go on, and when he didn't I shifted my weight from one foot to the other awkwardly. There's nothing quite like that strange feeling of being in a room on your own with a teacher, just the ticking of the clock on the wall between you and silence. "I can't really afford tuition, Sir. My mom is already working two shifts and -"
"Again, you have misread what I'm trying to say." Mr Bay smiled kindly when I blushed and looked away. "I have two students in my other classes that are attempting to tackle a higher level of math, and I believe one of them may be just the ticket to helping you along with your studies."
Frowning, I replied, "I don't think that would be a good idea."
"Oh? I've already asked the boy in question. He's showed me his study plan, I think you could work rather well together. What, if you don't mind my asking, would be the problem?"
My mind jumped automatically to my home – a stuffy two bedroom apartment that I shared with my mom and sister, stacked to the ceiling with books, videos, toys, clothes, and clutter – and I shrugged my shoulders.
"There's nowhere for us to study – my mom doesn't like me bringing people home," I lied.
"I'm sure Mister Parker will let you into his home," Mr Bay insisted. "If not, the library is open all day."
I couldn't disagree, but my mind was suffocating with reasons that I did not want this to be a thing. I nodded at Mr Bay, faked a smile when he beamed at me, and cursed myself all the way home.
"Mom, I'm home!" I tossed my bag inside the door and headed straight for the kitchen, where my little sister, Taylor, sat at the table. She still wore her uniform, and was busy colouring when I walked in. She barely glanced at me.
"Mom's next door," she said. "She said to tell you dinner's in the microwave."
"Great," I said, already tugging open the microwave door. "How was school?" I asked.
Taylor shrugged. "It was okay."
I raised an eyebrow as I sat across from her, setting down my plate of cold macaroni and picking at it absently. "Just okay?"
"I was in school," she said. "It wasn't the greatest thing that's ever happened to me."
I smiled at that. She may have been just nine years old, but my sister had clearly grasped the art of sarcasm. "My day was great, by the way. Thanks for asking," I said.
She rolled her eyes as she stood up, gathering her colouring sheet and crayons. "I have to get dressed, I'm going to Lisa's birthday later."
"Lisa's birthday?" I repeated. "Weren't you already at her birthday, like two weeks ago?"
Taylor scoffed. "That was Sherry's party."
I stared after her, bemused at the idea that my nine year old sister had a more active and exciting social life than me.
There wasn't much left for me to do, other than attempt homework and fall into a coma-like sleep to the soundtrack of Jersey Shore, but I still felt like delaying the inevitable. A solid hour was spent sitting with my feet on the kitchen table, chair tipped back on two-legs, pretending that one of Taylor's rubber pencil toppers was a cigarette and I was the Godfather.
The sound of the front door slamming shut startled me. The front legs of my chair crashed the floor and I righted myself, leaning one elbow on the table and glancing toward the door just as my mom entered.
"S'up?" I attemped casually. By my mom's raised eyebrow and skeptical once-over, I had failed casual. Ouch.
"Were you mauled by a hippy?" she said as she threw her coat over the back of the chair. "Because if not there's no excuse for smashing those two words together."
I put my hand in front of my mouth and faked a cough to hide my laughter, because no matter how blassé my mom might be, she did not need to know I found it amusing.
"Where are you going?" She asked over her shoulder, ruining my sneaky getaway into my bedroom. Damn.
"Um, homework," I replied. "Then bed, probably."
"Don't fall asleep with your TV on again, you know it wakes Taylor."
"Maybe if you'd let me have my own room -"
I was having one of those mornings.
My alarm didn't wake me, so I missed my bus. It rained while I walked to school; by the time I actually got there my socks were wet and I was late.
I took the opportunity of a free period to hurry into the empty cafeteria and take a seat by the radiator, which I hung my socks on. I had English after lunch, so decided to get a start on Macbeth before everyone arrived in for lunch and I couldn't concentrate.
It was there, barefoot and slouched in a plastic chair with a book in front of my face, that I was interrupted by my new math buddy.
I jumped, banged my elbow off the radiator, dropped my book face down on the table and swiftly looked up at the voice that had caught me off guard.
I recognized him only vaguely, had passed him in corridors a few times over the years. I think he sat next to me in biology once.
He was taller than me, had messy brown hair and a nice smile. I tilted my head, then smiled back and gestured toward the seat across from me, deciding to ignore the fact that he had caught me in my bare feet in the cafeteria. If he questioned it, I wasn't sure I'd care.
"Sorry, I didn't mean to scare you," he said as he sat down. "I'm Peter. Peter Parker."
I nodded, shaking his offered hand. "Alex." I was going to let him speak next, but one look at his unsure gaze told me he was the inept type and would only let our decent beginnings descend into awkward silence hell. "Did Mr Bay send you?" I asked instead.
He looked startled, as if he'd been expecting the silence and had already begun falling into his own thoughts. He nodded as my question slowly registered. "Yes, yeah, he did. He, uh, told me you were having trouble with math."
I nodded, one corner of my mouth turning up into a smile. "You might just have your work cut out for you, Parker. To say I have trouble with math is like saying the Pope is a bit religious."
Peter let out a surprised laugh, and instantly the limbo that hung over us seemed to shatter; we were going to get along fine.
As the bell went and the cafeteria started filling up, Peter showed me his plan for helping me. The kid was organised as hell, I had to give him that. Between us we managed to arrange our free periods for study, which was beyond a relief as it meant that there was no after-school meet ups.
I had expected to not really like whoever Mr Bay set me up with for tuition. Our school wasn't cliché in the sense that we had cliques, but we were in no way free of the stereotypical jocks and nerds either. I'd had run-ins with both, and was glad to say that Peter Parker and the nerds I was used to seeing were two very different beasts.
It seemed like this might just work out.