Summary: Regardless of the fact that Peter insists their relationship is consensual and safe and not creepy, when she finds out, May is still really, really not okay with her seventeen-year-old nephew dating a man literally old enough to be his father.
A/N:Written for this prompt on spiderkink. It's spell-checked so I hope it won't be too bad.
At first she thinks it’s Gwen, the lovely blonde girl on Peter’s computer. Peter still comes home late and sometimes not at all but there are fewer days where he comes home bruised but instead with bright eyes and giddy, private smiles. His faces lights up when he checks his phone and he goes to his room to take calls.
He’s in love. She can read the signs easily enough. After all she has been in love too. She hopes that in time, he will come home without any bruises at all. She’s met Gwen once or twice and she doesn’t seem to be the kind of girl that likes her boyfriend to fight and to be hurt.
Then one day she sees the display on his phone: Curt and she sees the look on Peter’s face when he sees she’s seen the name too.
It’s not Gwen.
She tells him that it doesn’t matter, tries to be as supportive as she can.
It’s okay Peter, I can see he makes you happy. That’s what matters.
He changes the topic as quickly as he can.
She asks about Curt, if he goes to the same school as Peter and what he does in his spare time. She tells him to bring him over one day.
Peter evades all her questions.
Later she’ll know why but for now she tries to make him open up. He’s already keeping so many things secret from her. She at least wants to know who’s making her nephew smile like that and thank him for it.
Peter tells her a month before his graduation. He makes her a cup of coffee on a sunny Saturday afternoon, sits down with her at the kitchen table and tells her about Curt.
Who he is.
Peter reassures her through all of it that he wants this. That it’s consensual. That it’s safe. That they’re happy together.
He goes beet red when he tells her about the first kiss and puts emphasis on the fact that Curt tried his best to convince him that a relationship between them wouldn’t be prudent.
May feels like crying. As if she’s made some horrible mistake and Ben would never forgive her for this. Peter’s parents will never forgive her for this.
And yet Peter promises that their relationship is a good one, that Curt does not take advantage of him. That he’s happy.
And she tries. She does. But she can never see past the fact that Dr. Connors is old enough to be Peter’s father. In the back of her mind she’ll always doubt that their relationship is build on equality and mutual interest, she’ll always suspect that he did something inappropriate to Peter, coerced him into this.
Not that she sees much of Dr. Connors. Peter noticed early on how uncomfortable their relationship makes her and rarely asks him to come over. If he does it’s only because he has dropped Peter off at home and he never comes in. She’s asked him to one time and they drank a highly awkward cup of tea in the kitchen before he left.
But she’s more aware of the times Peter comes home with bruises or doesn’t come home at all.
Every time she has tried to speak out against their relationship Peter has repeated his promises and once when he was angry reminded her that the age of consent in New York is 17.
“I’ll go and see Mr. Harris about the college recommendation tomorrow. He likes me so it should be okay.” She can hear Peter’s voice drifting in from the open windows.
“I could write you a college recommendation”, Curt offers.
Peter laughs and kisses him. “That I’m the best boyfriend you ever had? Thanks but I don’t want to share that with anyone.”
Curt opens his mouth to argue but Peter only kisses him again and shakes his head. They don’t know she’s there or this wouldn’t be happening. When they know she’s around they behave more like friends than lovers. Through the curtains she can see them, Curt’s arm around Peter’s waist and Peter’s hands cupping Curt’s face as they kiss.
They look so much in love and it makes her sick because it’s wrong. She wants to yell and scream and hit him until he leaves Peter alone but she knows that Peter would never forgive her. So instead she turns around and goes into the kitchen.
When Peter finally opens the door 20 long seconds later she greets him with a fake smile while his eyes shine with happiness.
He’s at Peter’s graduation ceremony and when she sees him talking to Gwen, she wonders, unbidden, if he did something with Gwen too. Just as she wonders if Gwen’s father knows about him and Peter, Peter joins them.
Captain Stacy doesn’t even blink when Peter takes Curt’s hand after congratulating Gwen. Instead he thanks Curt once more for writing Gwen such a glowing recommendation and then asks Peter about his plans and Peter tells him that he has applied to Columbia for physics.
She doesn’t understand how Gwen’s father can take it so calmly but maybe he’s glad that it’s Peter and not Gwen. She was Curt’s intern after all.
When another boy, Flash she knows because he’s one of Peter’s friends, joins them she takes a heart and walks over as well. But she cannot understand how Gwen and Flash could have let this happen. As Peter’s friends they should have done something instead of acting like Peter’s relationship is nothing out of the ordinary. Gwen even has Curt recount the story about a failed experiment involving mice and lizards.
She stays civil throughout the conversation and accepts Captain Stacy’s invitation for dinner but she carefully looks away from Peter and Curt’s joined hands.
She has clung to the hope that it will end eventually. Peter will go to college and meet someone else, someone suitable. A nice boy his age who she can look at without disgust and anger curling in her stomach.
It doesn’t happen.
Peter makes new friends at work and at uni; a drama student named Mary Jane and Harry, who studies management, Gwen and Flash still come over as well but it is Curt who drops him off at home, who makes Peter smile.
She’s so relieved that when he moves out he gets his own place but then she overhears him talking to Gwen.
“You’re not moving in with Curt?” She sounds surprised.
“He thinks it’s better for me if I live on my own first”, Peter rolls his eyes. “He still believes I’m going to change my mind on him.”
“You’re so lucky.” And May cannot understand how Gwen can sound so envious.
“Yeah, well”, Peter laughs like he’s embarrassed at how happy he is.
One day she visits Peter’s flat unannounced and has Curt opening the door.
“Mrs. Parker, good evening. Please come in.” He’s barefoot, she notices, and there’s a half unpacked grocery bag on the counter.
“Good evening”, she replies politely. “Is Peter here?”
Curt shakes his head. “He’s on his way home from work. Should be here soon. Would you like to stay for dinner?” Curt’s tone is a lot friendlier than hers but then she hasn’t seduced his underage nephew, has she?
She hesitates for a moment but then she agrees to stay.
Fortunately Peter comes home soon. Curt tries to make small talk but she barely finds the politeness within her to respond. At the same time he’s preparing dinner and moves around Peter’s place like he lives here too.
He does, she realises. Or at least he spends a significant amount of time here. There are clothes of two different sizes lying in the laundry hamper, two laptops, two phone chargers, two hooks for keys next to the door.
Neither of them are all that subtle in hiding their relief when the door opens and reveals Peter. He doesn’t see her at first, instead wrapping his arms around Curt’s waist and kisses him as a greeting. It reminds her of herself and Ben apart from the fact that Ben wasn’t twice her age.
She clears her throat.
“Oh, hey, Aunt May”, Peter looks faintly embarrassed. “I didn’t know you where coming.”
“You would if you’d read your texts”, Curt says while Peter greets her.
Peter rolls his eyes. “I read the one this morning since I bought...” he opens his backpack theatrically, “milk.”
“Well done”, Curt says dryly. “But unless you also have the mushrooms I asked for in there you might want to start using your phone a little more often.”
She tries not to hear it as Curt controlling Peter and fails. The words aren’t so different from many similar situations between her and Ben, even the tone isn’t but all May can hear is Curt trying to mould Peter into something he isn’t.
Peter peers into the fridge. “You didn’t remember them either.”
“But if you, a renowned doctor of genetics, can forget mushrooms so easily, what chance do I as a simple physics major stand?” Peter asks mockingly.
“Touche”, Curt laughs.
It’s almost like they’ve forgotten she’s here.
Shortly before his graduation she talks with Peter about his father and asks him where he wants to work for his PhD. Peter tells her he wants to be a teacher instead. She sits there, stunned for a moment, while Peter lists the reasons for his decision. It’s not that she’s against him being a teacher but she always assumed he would follow his father’s footsteps.
For the first time she goes to Curt. If anyone can change Peter’s mind it would be him. She feels dirty for thinking it.
To say he’s surprised to find her on his doorstep would be an understatement. “Good evening, Mrs Parker. Please come in.”
Compared to the comfortableness he displayed in Peter’s apartment, his own house seems empty and unlived. She notices he’s wearing shoes.
“Would you like a cup of coffee?”
She declines his offer. She’s not here for smalltalk. “Peter says he wants to become a teacher instead of going into research.”
“And you let him?”
“Let him? It’s Peter’s choice. It’s not what I thought where he’d end up when I met him but he thinks it’s the right thing to do and I support him.”
“But he’s so much smarter than this.”
“I know”, he says with kindness in his voice. “But it’s Peter’s choice where to apply himself. And if he changes his mind later on he can still continue his studies. “
She still feels dissatisfied. As if she’s disappointing Ben, disappointing Peter’s parents once more. “Teaching is not a prestigious job. Will it be enough for you?”
“For me?” Curt laughs disbelievingly. “Mrs. Parker, Peter all by himself is more than enough for me. That’ll never change.”
“How can know that?” She demands to know.
There’s a soft, complicated expression on Curt’s face when he says, “He saved my life.”
When Peter tells her that he and Curt are going to move in together, she’s mostly resigned to it. The guilt, the anger, the disgust are still there but they are muted by time and the obvious devotion she can see in Curt’s eyes whenever he looks at Peter.
She’ll never be comfortable with their relationship but as long as Peter is happy, she can learn to endure it.