She knows the logical choice would be to tell someone else first. To not tell her aunt unless she has an escape plan ready in case she needs it, but she doesn’t feel comfortable telling anyone else. She doesn’t want them to know, not yet at least. And fuck it, if she needs to run away, well she is spider-man, she will figure it out somehow.
“What do you think of this?” May says holding out a black t-shirt with a smiley emoticon.
Peter shrugs before saying “I don’t know, can I just look around myself a bit?”
“Yeah sure, I’ll just look around for things for myself then” May says walking of to a different section of the store
That went easier than she expected. She doesn’t want to buy anything from here, but maybe she can convince May to buy her some girl clothes. Nothing obvious, but just a t-shirt that comes from the girl’s section. Something she can wear and no one but her has to know where it is from, it would just be for herself.
She is terrified at the thought of her aunt realising where she is shopping, but at the same time she is almost hoping May will find out, so that she won’t have to work up to courage to tell her.
Peter looks over at where her aunt is standing, and feels some relief at noticing she is looking the other way and not focused on her at all. She quickly looks over to where she saw some shirts earlier, when they entered the store. It is close enough to the end of the women’s section, that Peter can pretend she is accidentally standing there if someone looks her way.
She scans through the t-shirts frantically for something she wants. She can feel her heart racing from anxiety at what she is doing. She keeps repeating the lie that she will tell someone if they ask, her sister asked her to pick up a t-shirt, and that is all that she is doing, this isn’t for herself at all.
She finds a grey t-shirt with a picture of some birds on it, it seems similar enough to the things she normally wears to not immediately raise suspicions, but it is still different and more girly, and just knowing that it comes from this section already fills peter’s heart with warmth. Makes her feel more okay.
She looked up online what clothing size she would need in typical girl’s clothing, so she feels fairly confident she has grabbed the right size, and only holds it in front of herself for a moment to check whether it seems like it would fit.
She cannot try this out in a changing room, and even with holding it in front of herself she is terrified someone will catch onto what she is doing.
With a pounding heart she quickly goes back to the boy’s section, she has the urge to just leave the shirt and run out of the store. She does not know how long she stands there staring at a rack of clothing without really moving, before suddenly she realises May standing next to her and trying to talk to her.
“Are you okay?” May sounds concerned.
She quickly nods and does her best to look casual when saying that she was just thinking about school.
“Did you want to get that shirt you are holding?” May says, reaching out to take it from her.
Peter does her best to appear normal, and forces out a quiet yes.
“Peter, this is a girl’s shirt” May says with a small chuckle.
Peter feels her cheeks turning red. She could laugh along and pretend it was a stupid mistake and act embarrassed, but she is so tired of pretending around everyone.
“I know” the words come out shaky.
“Peter?” May sounds concerned and confused “sweetie what is wrong?”
“I’m sorry” she starts to say, before she cuts herself of. She feels tears in her eyes, and if she keeps talking she knows she is going to start crying. She closes her eyes and tries to focus on just breathing and the smell of new clothing that is all around her.
Suddenly she feels May’s arms around her. Peter instantly hugs her back tightly.
Far too quickly May is pulling away and forcing Peter to look her in the eyes.
“How about we pay for this shirt and then we go home and watch a movie together?”
Peter’s only reply is a shrug. She doesn’t know what to say or feel. It is as she is watching everything happening from the outside.
At peter’s lack of response, May gently touches her shoulder before asking “Peter, do you want me to buy this shirt for you?”
“Yes,” Peter whispers, and then almost as an afterthought adds “please”.
The ride back to their apartment is quiet. Neither of them seem quite sure what to say. When they arrive back home May tells Peter to go change for take-out and movie night.
Peter hastily makes a retreat to her room and heavily sits down on her bed. She is tempted to climb out the window, because she knows that May will have questions and she isn't sure how to answer them. She barely understands it herself.
And what if May will reject her. Sure she hasn't freaked out yet, but maybe it's because she doesn't understand what is going on. What if she thinks this is something that needs to be fixed, that there is something wrong with Peter.
She decides to put on her new shirt, because it won't change whether May accepts her anyway, and at least this way if she has to leave she will have it.
She puts the backpack she has packed with clothes in case she gets kicked out by the window, so she can easily climb in to pick it up.
She tells herself that regardless of what happens, she is spider-man and can handle anything.
When Peter walks into the living room May looks up from where she is sitting on the couch in sweats.
“The shirt looks good” May says with a smile.
Peter can't help but smile at that.
She nervously goes to sit on the other end of the couch and in a stuttering voice asks “what did you want to watch?”
“I thought we could talk first” May pauses for a moment “Peter... sweetie… can you tell me what's going on?”
Peter closes her eyes and looks away. She knew they were going to have this talk and a part of her has wanted to have it for a long time, but now that it is here she feels sick to her stomach with anxiety.
“It's just you and me. Just tell me what's going on.”
“I don't know how” she admits, before changing her mind and uttering “I'm scared.”
“What are you scared of?” May says with concern evident in her voice.
When Peter's only response to this is to shrink even further into herself, May reaches out to put a hand on Peter's shoulder.
When Peter finally dares to look at her she says “how about I ask you yes or no questions about what is going on, just like we did when you were a child and didn't know how to explain something to us?”
“Okay…” Peter says in a small voice
“Are you scared of how I am going to react when I know what is going on?”
Peter looks down in shame before nodding.
“Did you want the shirt specifically because of it being a girl’s shirt?”
“Do you want to be a girl?”
Her heart skips several beats. May says it so casually as if that wouldn't be a huge deal.
Suddenly May is holding her in her arms, and rubbing her back and telling her that it is okay. Without even fully realising it she had started crying. She needs to explain that it isn't that exactly. Or maybe it is, but that she isn't sure.
“I… I don't know.” She hiccups
“It's okay, no matter what you decide it is okay.” May murmurs.
“I don’t want anyone to know”
“okay. I won’t tell anybody”
An awkward quiet arises in which neither one of them knows what to say, both lost in their own anxiety about wanting to say the right thing.
And then May speaks up asking “do you want me to start calling you something else, when it is just the two of us?”
“I don’t know” Peter says agitated.
“is there anything I can do to make things easier?”
“I don’t know! I don't know anything except that I don't feel like a boy, and everything is awful! I don't want to decide anything!" She bursts out.
“Okay, that’s fine” after a pause she continues with “do you want us to try out things, to figure out what makes you most comfortable.”
“Its fine if you don’t know right away, we can just take it easy, and do whatever you feel comfortable with, and when you find out what you prefer, then we will do that.” May kisses her forehead.
"Okay," Peter says with a smile while moving to hug May again.