1963-08-11 - Sunday Fun Day
Summary: Aunt May vs. She-Hulk. Peter hides in a basement.
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
jennifer peter 


"You're going to do fine," Peter says as they walk along the sidewalk on a warm Sunday summer evening. His hand holds hers and he smiles sidelong towards her as they walk past all of those homes that had been built in the 1930s, those small single family homes with one hundred square feet of font lawn, and a garage in the back connected to an alley that everyone shares. It's like they're little Fisher Price homes all with the same architecture and porches and rooftops, though by now one or two have been re-roofed and a few people have taken liberty with the materials. Yet they still have that uniform look.

"She's going to be pretty happy to meet you, and she's going to ask a million questions. Oh and, there will be knick-knacks. Also a chance of brick-a-bracks."

As they turn up the small sidewalk that leads the few feet towards the front porch, a small light limns the area in a halo of illumination, he squeezes her hand and murmurs. "I didn't tell her about our various extra-curricular duties. But… she's pretty sharp so. Just saying." His lip twitches.

*

A bag containing a fresh pie lends the scent of apple and cinnamon on the air. She went with the crumbled crust and several burnt fingers later, the joy emerged from the oven. A bunch of flowers wrapped in paper pokes out of a smaller bag nestled within, the necessary burden. What does one bring in, a glass bottle of milk or wine but wine might be too forward, and the toil upon the mental resources of a girl capable of fighting down segregationists are fully taxed. The best she can muster is a weak smile, having given up on her usual skirt suits for another blouse, those capris that nearly got destroyed on the Natural History Museum lawn, and a pretty striped scarf. Again.

Never mind that the city wants to know why she stopped a great big van yesterday in the middle of Central Park. No shame to be found in the comfort of the normal, and Jen Walters so wants to be normal for a day. Her gaze floats among the streets as orderly and tidy as any. Queens is the essence of normal, as much as Brooklyn aspires to be the other side of Manhattan's ragged skyline, the squat to the soaring, the earthy to the temporal.

"I can do bric-a-brac and knick-knacks but I draw the line at spackling." A little nod follows. "I shall also cross my heart and hope to die that we are perfectly nice to one another. Nothing about bruises on your throat."

Her cheeks are already flaming pink. Let's just add to that, why not? "Promise if I cannot make it through this alive, you get to run out the door first. My heroic sacrifice, Mr. Peter Parker."

*

"I shall praise your name forevermore for your heroic action." Peter grins and then starts up the steps, releasing her hand long enough to bring his hand up to knock on the door. He never gets a chance to.

The door opens inside, and there stands an older woman in her blue house dress and her hair recently done and… to be fair she doesn't seem that old, not quite a grandmother one could imagine with her lovely features and that smile is a smile that must have dropped them dead when she was younger. She gives a loving scream of greeting, not loud, just that feigned sound one reserves for airports and bus terminals when loved ones come home.

"Peter, oh it's so wonderful to see you." She has wisps of grey in her hair and her features are perhaps a touch tired, but the animation in her expression shaves years off of her. "And this must be the lovely Jennifer." She turns towards Jen and extends her arm in a half hug around her even as she accepts the pie and whatever else she might be carrying. "Let me help you with that, dear."

She steps back, "Come in, come in. Peter, wipe your feet."

"Yes, ma'am." Peter smiles sidelong at Jen as he does so, then steps into the room.

And indeed. Brick-a-brack. Knick knacks. There are end tables, and a buffet, and a piano, and some other seats with lamp tables and… almost every flat surface has mementos and small porcelain figures and pictures and little memorabilia from life. Though no small part of the decor is devoted to a young Peter Parker. There he is in a baseball uniform at 5 years old. There's him in a red plastic toy car during winter trying to push it through the snow. There he is in the rain jumping through puddles. And there he is at graduation with a very pretty young blonde woman smiling happily at the camera.

"I hope you both brought your appetites, I made several extra dishes. I was going to ask Peter if you were one of those vegetarians I've been reading so much about. But I couldn't get a hold of him."

Stepping into the room, Peter smiles and steps to his Aunt, kissing her brow as he moves past. "Things are just busy, Aunt May. You know how it is."

*

The door opens, as doors are wont to do, and opening doors reveal an entire wealth of unexpected graces behind them. Sometimes it will be a prize and sometimes a hungry dragon with an open maw, others a pile of clothes and an unmitigated disaster to be cleaned. Empty barren walls and a dusty floor; a heap of skulls tumbling down from the plague canteen. Let the imagination relent, for Jen's sparks to brilliance when Peter finishes reaching for a door handle.

Busted.

A loud squawk piercing the veil of normalcy only reinforces how utterly normal a domestic scene this is: the prodigal son come home after a week of worrying and fretting, not calling, striving to let the man have his moment and not be the boy returned home effectively to Mother.

She ought to be able to appreciate that battle, taming her smile to something small and bright-eyed through her glasses. Unassuming isn't exactly in Jen's nature anymore, though she does still favour fading into the background. Being pulled into a motherly hug is not uncomfortable. She had a mother, once. A close relationship, a fierce one, full of pride and subtle battles one for a figure who smiled just as soft and fully as this one must for him. There is a kinship on that front, as much as it could possibly paint them as enemies for the same attention in another sort.

Her arms wrap around May's back and pat lightly, a mere wisp of what her other self does. O enemies of this household, be oh so afraid for what sets roots here. The Banners are a ferocious clan about their own, small as that clan is.

"I insist, I can carry it! Though the flowers - I hope they won't be crushed. If you would take them… well, I think we can manage the rest. If this gets into Peter's hands, he'll eat every last crumb." Jennifer gives a flustered little grin at him. Sorry, he's on the rack. She can take in all the rest with a lawyer's eye for evidence later. /Puddles?/

Oh. They're doing puddles. And a water tower. Gasping for breath, draining a warehouse, pelted and pounded as they do the same.

"Vegetarian? Oh no. I'm a Californian, that means we are blessed with our fruits and veggies year-round, but Mom and Dad taught me to eat everything put on my plate when I am a guest," she adds merrily. "I may not look it, but I can be a bottomless pit sometimes."

Especially when her other side burns 5,000 calories with a jump.

*

When she enters, Jen is directed by May to set the pie down, "Over here, Jen, if you please." She clears off a space and to be fair she's prepared a decent spread but nothing compared to the one that Jen made when her cousin came a'calling. There's the smell of a meatloaf in the air, and some mashed potatoes and corn sit on the stove top. Three dishes are set aside with a small salad already prepared and now with the dessert from Jen they're all set for foodstuffs.

"Would you care for some coffee, dear? Peter would you like a soda or something?"

"Sure thing, Aunt May." He steps past them towards a closet that lies right underneath the stairs that lead upwards. Peter kneels and pulls open the door, starting to shuffle around inside there. "Hey, Aunt May? Is Uncle Ben's screw driver out and about somewhere?"

"Oh, yes Peter, I used it to give the furnace a good whack." Aunt May starts to go about getting things ready and she gives Jen a small wink. "Oh and if you could look at the generator in the garage, I would appreciate it, dear."

As he passes near her Peter smiles and leans in to touch a small kiss to Jennifer's cheek as he murmurs, "Have to take care of a few things real quick, Jen. I'll be right back." But then he looks over to Aunt May, "Be nice to her, ok?"

Of course May feigns indignation but she smiles teasingly at Jennifer.

*

In all honesty, Bruce bankrupts anyone without a federal agency backing them. A matter of simple fact and genetics there, since he probably ate half the food by himself and then carried off the rest — sans the pie that Jen insisted Peter take home, along with any favourite dishes.

She proves capable of producing the apple crumble-top pie without smashing it on the floor. A win! On the other hand, a heap of napkins go tumbling out of the bottom of the bag and spill all over, so the mixed results cause a sigh from her. First the fragile substance simmering in its own holy cinnamon void is placed down. Then she stoops to start cleaning up, dreadfully cautious not to knock the sideboard.

That means bumping a chair instead. It squawks loudly.

In the meantime, Peter has gone and /abandoned/ her on the pretense of doing some handiwork of a handyman variety, requiring the girl on her knees to gather up handfuls of paper towelettes, and stuffing them back into the bag before anyone is the wiser. Surely no one will fail to notice.

"I promise to be on my best behaviour, Peter. I know how to behave as a guest," the lawyer sighs, breathing out. When she can get back up to her feet, dusting off her knees, her expression is mildly mollified and embarrassed. "Pardon me for that. Sometimes things… well, slip." Might as well introduce the family to her destructive capability right there.

*

The screen door in the back opens and closes behind him, past the kitchen and out the breezeway. But it's Aunt May's voice she hears as she smiles and gestures for Jen to take a seat with her at the side of the table. "Have a seat, dear. We have some time yet. But I believe he was speaking to me…" She smiles and then her face turns stern and severe as she asks with a sharply condemning tone. "Now what are your intentions with my nephew?"

A moment passes. Long enough for panic to start to set in.

But then the moment is broken as she laughs, a light fluttering sound so gentle and yet so happy. And now Jen knows where Peter gets his sense of humour from.

"I'm just kidding you, Jen. I'm sorry. It's an old joke Peter's uncle would trot out each time he brought a little girlfriend over…" She looks a touch wistful and Jen can see the older woman's eyes distancing gently as nostalgia takes her, but then she shakes her head slightly and looks back to her.

And as if magic, should Jen take that seat, she might notice a warm cup of coffee had been set down upon the table before her while she was getting those napkins. Cream and sugar are available on the table too, thoughtful. "But please, I'm so curious. How did you and Peter meet?"

*

The condemning tone is not something that would cow Jennifer under usual circumstances. Her time at UCLA, and the subsequent time in New York, prepared her for the withering judgments shot by prosecutors and judges, unwilling witnesses and angry law enforcement. She has learned how to handle a recalcitrant client or a turncoat informant.

Does it much matter if the person is a forty nine year-old Italian mobster or a spritely woman entering her late autumn years? Does it matter if she takes a case for someone she loathes or appeals the future of someone she cares for?

Her chin comes up. Steel moves behind her narrowing eyes. An intake of breath. Panic is not the response. No, she is not a wilting daisy. She opens her mouth to rebut the claim, and defend no one less than herself.

Then simply it stops. "I assure you they are nothing except completely and utterly dishonourable, untoward, and terrible. I may encourage him towards eating /two/ hotdogs." A shudder runs through her.

She settles upon the chair she knocked back, and tucks her feet behind her. "He was working and I was at lunch trying to determine why that square over by the Olympia Building gathered a crowd. A rude man had some opinions I disagreed with. He took a photograph of the altercation."

*

The older woman chuckles softly, "I don't see what he sees in those things, but kids will be kids… we figured he'd grow out of them. But no," She takes up her cup of coffee and takes a sip, then leans forward for the sugar and adds some to her cup before stirring it with her spoon. She looks over the rim of her cup and saucer as she listens to Jen's retelling of the brief encounter.

"Oh dear, I hope everything turned out alright?" She does actually seem a touch concerned, "Peter told me you are working as a lawyer. That must be very exciting. I bet your parents are so very proud of you."

Meanwhile, outside, they'll occasionally hear a faint clank or the sound of a motor revving and failing to turn over. Sometimes there's a series of metallic clicks, then that revving again. Still not turning over, and then a distant expletive of a sort, 'Horse sense!'

"Oh, did he tell you I used to work for a law firm as well? Though I was just a clerk at the time. Earnest and Brown, have you heard of them?"

*

The coffee will be appreciated black, half milk and half sugar, or scalding hot and foaming with poison. Jen does not typically adulterate her beverages much, just a splash of cream for her to leverage the colour to the shade of brown that will be all the rage in a few years. The spin of her teaspoon attempts not to clink overly much, but still it happens.

"The man wandered off though I hardly changed his opinion. If only talking about such things would make it possible!" She tucks her brown hair behind her ear. "Though the deepest convictions are the hardest to change. We still have to try, though." Noble ideas, idealistic nobility, thou art a bane of youth. She blows over the coffee, then takes a sip.

She snickers into her cup at the chosen expletive. Her own, 'Speckles,' is equally unconventional. "My parents always supported my choice of career. Easy, Dad's a cop." Okay, he's the sheriff of the largest county in California but that is neither here nor there. Modesty sometimes does become a lady. "As for Ernest and Brown, I've heard of them, certainly. You had a job? Any kind? That is remarkable. They seem to be rather a tough nut to crack." The understatement of the day, there.

*

"Oh one of them knew Ben in the service," She smiles again gently even as in the distance there's the sound of a motor kicking over and finally catching. It hums distantly and whirs, only to peter out as someone hits the choke. Shortly after that, Peter will emerge from the garage in the back, wiping at his hands with an old white rag.

Yet there are still a few moments before the young Parker makes it back inside and May takes advantage by smiling towards her, "You seem like a lovely young woman, Jennifer, with her head on straight. I'm glad he's met you."

But then as Peter steps into the breezeway, Aunt May raises her voice loud enough for him to hear, "And if he doesn't treat you right you let me know and I'll box his ears."

"Aunt May." Peter's voice is that sort of lilt that comes when someone feigns indignation but is cushioned with love and affection. "I'm not twelve, you know."

"No, Peter, you certainly not." May smiles to Jennifer and then gains her feet, her chair squeaking upon the linoleum floor as she rises. "I'll get you your soda,"

"Thanks Aunt May," He says even as he slips into the dining room and pauses to touch his lips to the top of Jen's head as he passes by and tells her, "One sec, I'm going to wash my hands."

*

"Then you cleared the way for those who followed after, in your fashion," Jennifer says without any saccharine trace to the admission. Her hands curl around the circumference of the cup, protecting it as one would brood on an egg, assuring heat and comfort stir the little chick therein.

Praise be high indeed. Her cheeks go pink because her natural complexion is -mean- and unlikely to hide what green shadings of nephrite conceal. "He makes it very easy to appreciate his better qualities. He was well-raised, as Dad would say. Makes all the difference in the world." The kindness of her tone lingers a touch brighter, savouring the moment of appreciation. Perhaps he can claim she turns into mush when no one is looking.

Peter's return warrants a little grin out of her, the soft salute of her raised coffee cup. "You would be the next in line if he behaves badly. My cousin — basically my big brother — and Dad would be trying to elbow him out of the way. There's a chance to run then."

The delicate tilt of her head dares them all to try. Really. Fight and see what happens.

*

From in the little side bathroom that is near the stairway and the front door, Peter's voice is heard above the sound of pouring water. "I can hear you guys, you know." But his tone is amused, though he affects a certain indignation again especially as he comes out of the room after having washed his hands.

"Well you two get settled, I'll dish you up some plates, we'll eat dinner, and then I'll break out the scrap book and Peter's baby pictures." May says with a smile in her words as she walks into the room, but then her tone of voice shifts slightly, "Jennifer, dear, do you enjoy ketchup with your meatloaf?" Some people in this world would turn their nose up at such an offer, would consider the very fact she's serving 'meatloaf' on a special occasion as so horrid. But May seems entirely at ease with her, either ignorant of what other people might think, or just so comfortable with her little family and with Peter's choice in people he lets close to him.

"I got the generator working, Aunt May. Should be good for the winter, but I'll check it in a month just to make sure."

"Thank you, Peter." May is busy cutting up portions and then applying them to her plates, they're white with little blue lace around the edges.

*

Indignation will never supplant an aunt, a mother, or a grandmother. The best one can do is earn a grin from the unexpected joke, the gesture of tenderness unlocking their resolute hearts. For her part, the youngest woman in the house knows something of the pecking order and rules of her feminine elders.

"May I help? I would be happy to serve or carry anything you might wish me to. At your service." She snaps to attention in her fashion, back straight and shoulders graceful, as much as her slim frame can offer up without the least hint of military experience. "I do quite enjoy ketchup, as it happens. Probably too thick to be entirely good." She pats her stomach and winks again at Peter, as though she has the least bit to worry about. Her metabolism eats up everything it can find, including the kitchen sink, given the chance. "Did you know I once baked a meatloaf in salsa? Wrong jar, in it went, and I wasn't about to let it go to waste. Poor Dad, I think he drank about six glasses of milk afterward. We make it quite spicy." The snub of her nose hidden in her sleeve, the memory brings up a flicker of laughter.

And all the world help her if those are the nice plates… Sunday dinner just went up a notch.

*

"Don't be silly, Jennifer." Aunt May's voice calls out, "You just sit and relax, I'll be back in directly." Then she adds perhaps more for Peter's sake, "And no footsies you kids,"

Though that comment makes Peter laugh even as his cheeks flush a bit as in that moment he did reach out with the toe of his shoe to lightly touch Jen's. He leans closer to his girlfriend and tells her, "See, told you she was psychic."

But it's only a few moments later that May returns with two plates, one for each of them that she sets down in the middle of their place settings. "Bon apetit'." She offers with a smile, "Eat up, we don't stand on ceremony in this house."

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