Her name, she told him, was Jennifer Walters and she was very tall and extremely, uh.
And Mr. Stark was freaking out.
He looked from Dr. Banner to Jennifer and then back and his lip twitched a little and before Peter knew what was happening, he was being bodily removed from his desk station and half-carried, half-dragged into the adjacent mini-wreck room Mr. Stark slept in when he could not bear to leave his work for more than four hours at a time.
Ms. Potts called it Time Out. For other reasons, she said.
Peter called it Time Out too because Mr. Stark and Colonel Rhodes always put him in there when there were things happening which were allegedly above Peter’s clearance level.
Peter hated Time Out. There was nothing to do in there but sleep, pout, and try to eavesdrop, and he always got in trouble for the latter. Mr. Stark knew nothing of psychology, Peter had decided. You can’t just throw a teenager into a room and tell them not to listen to the adults outside it. That was basically a guarantee that they would do exactly that. Anyways, he couldn’t be found at fault here because Mr. Stark was incapable of keeping his surprised/irritated voice to a normal decibel.
“Tony, no. It’s fine,” Dr. Banner intervened just as Peter voiced his protest at his sudden removal. Dr. Banner sighed. “Jenn actually came here to talk to him.”
Dead silence hung in the lab.
“I’m sorry, I thought I heard something in-fucking-sane escape your mouth just now,” Mr. Stark said. Peter ran through the last two weeks in his head on fast forward to figure out what dumbass thing he’d done to deserve a tall, hulk lady coming in to speak specifically to him.
Was it the cat? No, not the cat. The guy with the lost backpack? Probably not. Unless that guy had been a spy. Unless Miss Walters had sent him as a spy to see what Peter did as Spiderman.
“Are you a spy?” he asked Miss Walters. Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Mr. Stark cover his face with both hands. At least he wasn’t dragging him around anymore.
The corner of Dr. Banner’s mouth twitched and Miss Walters cocked her head slightly to think about it.
“Well, I guess maybe I am now,” she said.
Ah. Okay. Well if that was the case, Peter had some pointers for her. They started with not being huge and green wherever possible.
“Peter, Jenn is my cousin,” Dr. Banner said.
No fucking way.
“Peter,” Mr. Stark scolded.
Oh right. Interior voice.
Miss Walters started laughing hard.
Miss Walters was in fact Dr. Banner’s cousin and, after Mr. Stark had torn him a new one in front of the universe (also known as Dum-E and U and the rest of the lab bots) it came out that it had been kind of a dire situation they’d been in which had caused Miss Walters to become big, green, and mean like him. She would have died if Dr. Banner hadn’t given her a blood transfusion and they were close enough that he’d been more than willing to make that sacrifice.
In terms of origin stories, Peter rated it a 7.
Mr. Stark nearly put him in Time Out again, but Miss Walters laughed and said that it was fine, 7 was pretty good in her book. She herself thought it was more of a 3 or 4 situation, replete with damsel in distress.
Peter liked her.
“Oh no, you don’t,” Mr. Stark said, shoving Peter behind him. Peter peeked out around him to smile at Miss Walters because he was pretty sure they were friends now. Mr. Stark shoved him back without even looking.
“Peter is sixteen years old,” Mr. Stark continued, “He has more than enough on his plate right now. He does not need to be ally-ing up with She-Hulk and whatever band of mongrels you’re getting together to save the universe or the West Coast or whatever.”
Dr. Banner raised an eyebrow. Peter beamed at him to alert him that, despite what Mr. Stark said, he would happily make time for this hypothetical band of mongrels that was being put together. He’d never been to the West Coast anyways. Dr. Banner smiled a little bit back and Mr. Stark doubled down on his insistence that Peter was extremely busy. Miss Walters thought that that was funny, too.
“Mr. Stark,” she started.
“Call me Tony,” Mr. Stark said automatically.
“Mr. Stark,” Miss Walters continued, “I’m not actually here as She-Hulk, if you will. I’m here as Jennifer Walters, attorney at law.”
That sounded like trouble.
“I wanted to speak to Peter regarding his family lawyer, a man named Matt Murdock? I believe he’s a local attorney in the city?”
Mr. Stark’s eyebrows shot up.
“Mur—“ he rounded on Peter. “Murdock is your family lawyer?”
Fuck fuck fuck
Not good. Very not good. Lying was bad and hard and extremely, extremely difficult. And Matt and May had told him that their arrangement was none of Mr. Stark’s business. May because she didn’t want Mr. Stark to step in to provide them with a family lawyer and Matt because he wanted nothing more in the world than to see Mr. Stark drop dead or to drop him dead himself.
“No,” he squeaked and regretted immediately.
The peak of Mr. Stark’s eyebrow started hiking up to the first wrinkle in his forehead.
“Maybe,” he amended.
Dr. Banner looked away, embarrassed on Peter’s behalf. Mr. Stark did not drop his gaze. Peter didn’t want to look back at it because it made his hands sweat.
“Maybe a little—one time. A while back,” he admitted, then blurted out, “May said I wasn’t supposed to tell you. She said it’s a family thing.”
Mr. Stark’s eyebrow mercifully evened out and he stood up a little straighter. Relief felt like a bottle of water after a marathon. He didn’t know why this was always so hard—every time something like this came up, May told people that it was a ‘personal issue’ or a ‘family emergency’ and people zipped their lips and left her and Peter alone. He should have learned by now to execute the ‘none of your business’ clause.
Miss Walters kept up a pleasant smile and did not judge him. She waited until Mr. Stark turned away from him, grumbling about his firm of perfectly capable, non-showboating lawyers which Peter and May could have chosen from should they have asked. Peter’s hands were 100% sweating bullets.
“It’s nothing too big, I promise,” Miss Walters said. “I was just interested in him and his partner’s work. They’re bringing a case in a week or so here against a man who I attempted to bring charges against in California. I wanted to know if there was anything I could do to help them. He’s a real scumbag, this guy. And very slippery. I tried going to their office, but,” she looked a little sheepish, “Their, uh, secretary is a little intimidating.”
Secre--? Oh. Becky.
“Yeah, she’s scary,” Peter told her. “One time, I went to pick up my friend and she told me she wasn’t off work for two more minutes and that I needed to stand outside until then. She also makes Mr. Murdock take mandatory coffee breaks and if he doesn’t, she takes away privileges.”
“Uh-huh,” Miss Walters said, a little stupefied. “Um. What exactly is a ‘privilege?’”
“Desk nap-time. Shortened filing times in the afternoon. Wearing weird ties to court.”
Matt and Foggy had a competition going at the moment as to who could wear the worst tie to the courthouse without getting thrown out by a judge. Foggy had skirted that line hard the other day with an electric pink tie that he’d offset with a light blue shirt and gray jacket. Matt was furious at this victory, which came in the wake of what he liked to call his Independence Day ensemble and had attempted to drag Karen out of the office to go help him locate equally painful, yet subtle court attire. Karen passed the buck to MJ, which was how Peter heard of this tale to begin with.
Peter realized abruptly that both Mr. Stark and Dr. Banner were giving him Looks. Looks which suggested that they suspected that there was a little more going on here than a client-attorney relationship.
Matt would murder him if they found out what was actually going on. Murder, with a capital ‘M.’ Matt had told Peter once that he knew how to use thumbscrews.
His hands felt positively drenched.
“I see him every time I pick up MJ,” he tried to explain.
“Perfect,” Miss Walters said, “Do you think you could introduce us?”
Peter looked from Dr. Banner to Mr. Stark for this answer. Mr. Stark remained suspicious. Dr. Banner appeared to have no discernible interest either way.
Stress stress stress
“Yeah, okay, sure, why not?” he squeaked and regretted instantaneously.
Mr. Stark was displeased to the nth degree when Dr. Banner and Miss Walters left and he made this well known to Peter before threatening him with a ‘more competent’ and ‘less emotional’ lawyer and sending him home with a handful of cards he was supposed to give to May.
May trashed them all without even looking at them and told him that Matt and Foggy were perfectly functional for their needs. Not to mention, if Peter ever got arrested, Foggy was the man all vigilantes in the city went to for legal counsel.
“Tell him that Foggy is our main lawyer next time if he presses,” May instructed him. “He was trying to get him on his legal team while Foggy was working with Hogarth—he told me himself.”
“Oh my god, she’s green?”
“I’m scared Matt’s gonna get territorial. Like he does with, like, everyone else.”
May thought about this with her hand on her chin.
“Well, it’s usually DD who gets territorial, isn’t it? Maybe if she meets him as Matt Murdock, he’ll be better about keeping it under wraps.”
Yeah. Fat chance.
He met Miss Walters a few blocks over from the office, just far enough away that Matt wouldn’t be able to catch onto his voice and eavesdrop.
“Okay, so, Ma—Mr. Murdock’s a little uh. Strange. Sometimes. Not that he’d be strange with you specifically or anything, more like he’s just strange with people in general and he’s kind of grumpy and can get overly competitive so—”
“Yeah, most male lawyers are,” Miss Walters said breezily. “Don’t worry, I’m used to dealing with that.”
Are you, though?
Are you really?
He prayed to God that Matt wouldn’t bite her on contact. Please, just don’t let him bite her, Lord, God—anyone.
No one was in, which was new. Someone was always in Nelson, Murdock & Page, even if sometimes that person was trying to bomb the place. But no one was in. Peter stretched out his spidey sense but didn’t connect with anything. He could only shrug and apologize.
“Sorry, I guess they’re not—”
He leapt out of his skin and rounded on MJ with full intent to maim her for exactly one and half seconds. She was in her work clothes, that is, a collared white shirt and whatever else she happened to have on that day.
“What are you doing here?” she asked, somehow impervious to the giant green lady standing next to him. He gestured. She stubbornly did not look. Because only MJ would have the kind of steel nerves to ignore the great green giantess in all her glory.
“I’m looking to meet with Mr. Matt Murdock,” Miss Walters said smoothly over Peter’s head.
Only then did MJ look at her. Without a hair out of place.
“He’s not in right now,” she said. “He had to take a walk.”
Oh god. Yeah, see, this was exactly what he was talking about.
“A walk,” Miss Walters repeated. She looked back at the office door. “With the other two partners? And the secretary?”
MJ raised an eyebrow which acknowledged all of Miss Walters’s undoubtedly numerous qualifications and did not care.
“Yeah,” she said. “A walk.”
“A…deadly walk?” Peter tried, grasping for more information.
“No, just a walk, Parker, what’s the matter with you?”
“About sixteen things all at once, thanks for asking.”
MJ sighed from the very pit of her lungs and then threw up her hands, even the one holding the mail.
“Fine, you can come in but you’ve gotta stay in the waiting room until everyone gets back.”
Miss Walters was impressed and beamed back when Peter gave her a huge smile of triumph.
Miss Walters waited very patiently, charmed by Matt and Foggy’s collection of reading material in the waiting room. Fogs had found some books of comic strips written in Punjabi which made him laugh until he cried and had stuffed them lovingly into the side of one of the bookshelves. Apparently, several of his clients shared his sense of humor and the books were already well-worn.
Matthew, on the other hand, never to be outdone, had collected the entire Clifford the Big Red Dog series in Spanish, which he had also gone and had braille translations made for because he was so fond of it. Peter had caught him once, leaning halfway into Karen’s office declaring, “—in my soul, Karen. He’s with me in. My. Soul,” while she threw pens at him until he left.
The braille translations were stacked neatly in one of the toy boxes. The animals sitting on top of them had been recently joined by a few Easter bunnies, Peter saw. Someone small had also gotten a piece of blue masking tape from Becky which they had used to label the resident Pooh bear as ‘Mr. Foggy,’ which was adorable on every possible level.
Peter hoped that this bear conveyed effectively to Miss Walters just the level of professionalism she was dealing with here.
“Lot of kids?” she asked MJ who was busy rustling around through Becky’s drawers for a highlighter.
“Enough,” she said, as closed off as ever.
Peter watched her and then gave Miss Walters a little nod. She seemed to be enjoying this game of secret messages. Peter was glad because if Matt was in a mood, he was going to speak in solely cryptic proverbs for her entire visit.
“This is why I always say ‘no dogs,’” Matt’s voice snarled through the door after another forty minutes or so.
“Matty, I will say it one more time. It was an accident.”
“No, don’t you ‘it was an accident’ me. No dogs. None. Ever. Never again.”
“Dude, it’s not even that big of a bite,” Karen’s voice scolded.
So it had been a deadly walk.
“Not even—girl, look at it! With your eyes! The ones that work!”
“Wow, pulling the blind card, I would never have expected—”
“Guys, chill. Oh, did someone leave the door unlocked?”
The Daredevil trio all shut the fuck up and, Peter knew from experience, pulled themselves together in the case of another arsonist, murderer, or Ricky, the homeless guy from the station who was obsessed with Foggy and had a knack for picking locks.
They all collectively deflated when it was revealed to be just MJ and Peter and a guest.
It said something about their lives that they did not perceive a giant green lady as a threat. A quick glance told Peter that she was surprised by this. She stood up as they filed in and MJ dutifully reported that Becky’s youngest aunt had gone into labor and Becky just been screamed at over the phone to get her ass to the hospital.
“You guys might have passed her,” MJ said.
“We didn’t,” Matt reported immediately. Because he definitely would have known, dog bite or no. Speaking of which.
“Dude,” Peter said. It had to be four inches long. The gauze made it look bigger than it was.
“I know,” Matt groaned. “Someone,” he got up in Karen’s face and she pouted and looked away, grumbling, “Let a stone-cold beast in here without checking for rabies tags.”
“The only beast we let in here is you,” Karen snipped.
Matt shook his newly bandaged arm at her face.
“I. Do. Not. Bite.”
Karen arched an eyebrow. Foggy pressed a palm to his forehead. The silence hung.
“I bite rarely,” Matt corrected.
This technically was not untrue. Karen huffed and stalked away from the doorway towards her office. Matt glowered after her. Foggy grabbed the back of his jacket before he could follow her and directed him instead towards his own office. He gave him a little push to help him on his way.
“We will institute a stricter dog policy,” he said at Matt’s furious glare. They must have given him some drugs at the hospital because it was way, way off target.
“I want a no dogs policy,” he snapped.
Karen slammed her door open.
“That’s not fair, you bite people and we don’t have a no Matts policy.”
“Let another dog in here and you’ll have your No Matts policy, you can be damn sure of that,” Matt volleyed back. “What if it wasn’t me, Kare? What if it was a client? With no health insurance? What then, huh?”
“What about service dogs, dipshit?”
“When did I say anything about service dogs?”
“Children, there are guests present,” Foggy sighed.
It silenced the verbal part of the argument but did nothing to alleviate the cut eyes and wrinkled foreheads. Foggy extended a hand to Miss Walters as gracefully as possible given the circumstances.
“Franklin Nelson,” he said, “And you are?”
“Jennifer Walters,” Miss Walters said, taking his hand. She gave a teeny huff of amusement, “Although in my neck of the woods, people sometimes call me She-Hulk.”
“That’s rude,” Foggy noted.
“Well, in some ways,” Miss Walters said kindly. “But Dr. Bruce Banner is, in fact, my cousin. We just happen to have a little more in common than your average set.”
Matt made a quizzical noise.
“Degrees?” he tried like a champ.
Oh, Matt. Good job trying, buddy. Foggy cleared his throat a little awkwardly.
“She’s green, Matt,” he said with as much dignity as possible.
“Oh. Like, are we talking sick-green or nickel-reaction green or—”
“Like. Green-green. Hulk green. I am so sorry. He’s blind. ”
Miss Walter laughed when Matt made a soft ‘huh’ and walked right into his office door before remembering that it had a handle.
“I’ve heard as much,” she said.
“Oh my god, me too,” Matt’s voice reverberated from behind his door. Foggy held his forehead with both palms for breath or two. When he’d worked through whatever strong emotion he’d been feeling, he lifted it and invited Miss Walters into his office.
“Jenn says that your lawyer is absolutely lovely,” Dr. Banner informed Peter the following Tuesday. Peter thought of Matt banging a fist against Wade’s table while swearing at his bandages as Wade tried to unpeel them as delicately as possible, so as not to rip all the hair off Matt’s arm. It’s all fun and games to get doused with river water until someone’s got an open wound.
“Yeah, he’s uh. Great,” Peter said.
“She’s really looking forward to working with him and his team,” Dr. Banner continued. “Thanks for introducing them, Pete.”
What was Miss Walters doing in the lab? Maybe she’d come to see Dr. Banner. It was the only logical explanation. He downed tools to give her his full attention. She was wearing a skirt this time.
“Do you happen to know if Matthew is okay? I stopped by earlier and Ms. Page told me that he was in distress and unable to come into work.”
Matt’s version of distress was being told by a doc that he needed hella shots to combat his new found infection. He wasn’t distressed so much as displeased, with a bad case of nausea and some swollen arms. If they let him go into work, he’d just mope around and people would think Fogs and Karen had drugged and beaten him again.
“I dunno, I haven’t seen him since last week,” Peter lied.
“Oh,” Miss Walters said, sounding a little…disappointed?
“Well, if you do see him, please send him my thanks and sympathies.”
No, no, lady. You do not want to do this to yourself.
“Will…do,” he managed to eek out.
“Wade, She-Hulk is crushing on Red,” Peter blurted out because he could no longer keep this information to himself and Wade lived and thrived off gossip like it.
Alright, not the appropriate or anticipated response, but a reasonable one nonetheless.
He explained quickly who She-Hulk was and Wade was so blown away by this, he didn’t even need the second half of the story to be awed and concerned.
“Is she hot?” he asked.
“What? Wade, pay attention. She’s crushing on Red. Red. Hard. In like, a legal way.”
Wade gaped for a full three seconds before he shook his head in amazement.
“I mean, don’t mean to be all pedantic or nothing, but when we say ‘legal’ here, are we talking about like, insurance coverage, battery, or Legally Blonde.”
“Legally Blonde, big time,” Peter told him.
“Oh my god.”
“I know. He skipped work ‘cause of the infection and she dropped by the lab to have me send him her ‘thanks and sympathies.’”
“Oh my god, she barely knows him.”
Wade contemplated this while slowly bouncing his wad of cash on a string in the alley below. He was fishing for a very specific meth head, he’d explained earlier. Peter was not allowed to help. Said meth head was a serial rapist with a penchant for automatic weapons. He’d be armed to the teeth and was thus Wade-business, not Peter-business.
“We absolutely need to let this happen,” Wade decided. “Report back when something else happens.”
Something else happened which Peter learned of through MJ who was perturbed by the interest Miss Walters had taken in her employer.
“Matt’s mildly allergic to his antibiotics and keeps running into shit in the office, and like, laying all over Foggy in front of clients. You know, generally being slightly high for hours at a time, and she turned up yesterday with a blanket and told him that he should take a nap and she’d help Fogs handle his cases,” she said stiffly. “She’s either an angel in a green people suit or she’s got an ulterior motive. Fogs thinks she’s a government spy.”
“What does Mr. Murdock think?” Ned asked shoving the remnants of his fries onto Peter’s tray to keep his arm from obstructing his view of MJ. MJ chewed on the edge of a slice of peach thoughtfully.
“I don’t think he thinks anything,” she said, “Mostly, he didn’t want to take a nap or be separated from Foggy. It was kind of lucky we had the Hulk lady because she could just like, pick him up and put him back in his office while Fogs was trying to work.”
Peter thought of Matt trying to damage Wade’s internal organs the last time Wade picked him up for no good reason. Then he reconsidered because he’d personally watched Castle hike Matt up into his arms and then hurl him off the edge of a building twice now and both times, Matt had come scrambling right back up for more.
Mixed messages going on here.
“Maybe he likes it?” he tried. If Matt hadn’t tried to break Miss Walters’s arm, that had to be something.
“No, he definitely likes it,” he said.
“How do you know?” Peter agitated.
“Because he’s Red and he likes to be tall,” Wade said definitively.
That was horseshit. Matt liked to be up high. That wasn’t the same thing as being tall.
“You like to be tall, too, Petey-Pete,” Wade pointed out.
“Sure, alright. You go right ahead and think that. Anyways, nah. This gal is fuckin’ besotted. No one brings a fuckin’ blanket to work for their mildly intoxicated, one-time coworker. That’s weird shit. What do you think she wants to do with him?”
Well, Peter wasn’t quite sure. Miss Walters, he’d thought, came across as pretty career driven. She didn’t seem like the type who’d do things just to get into someone’s pants. Or maybe she was? Peter didn’t know shit about old people. They were like a whole other species.
“Maybe she’s a spy,” he tried.
“Oooh. Go on.”
“Like, maybe some bad guy hired her to find out all Matt’s weaknesses and she’s testing him to see how heavy he is and how easy he can be crushed and stuff. Maybe she’s working for Fisk!”
Wade clapped in excitement at this accusation.
Miss Walters, Dr. Banner said unflinchingly, was not a spy. Mr. Stark, in the meantime, was dying, laughing himself into choking on the other side of the table.
“She is too gentle. Too kind. And about two thousand times too noticeable to be a spy,” Dr. Banner expanded flatly.
“Right, but maybe hear me out,” Peter tried. Mr. Stark burst into a whole new peal of gasping and shaking.
Dr. Banner leaned his chin on his fist and gave Peter the flattest look in the history of mankind. It said, ‘go on.’
“So Mr. Murdock got bit by a dog the other day and he’s a little allergic to his meds, so he’s all loopy and your cousin, who’s literally only met him like, once, at this point, brought a blanket over to his office and offered to help Mr. Nelson work on his cases.”
Dr. Banner’s face didn’t change, but Mr. Stark finally stopped giggling. He sat up and cleared his throat a little bit.
“Kid’s got a point, Bruce,” he said a hint breathlessly. “I mean, not exactly spy-levels there, but that is pretty intimate. Sounds to me like your baby cuz has got a little crush.”
Dr. Banner considered this with his unmoving, flat face.
“She doesn’t,” he said evenly.
Mr. Stark stood up and patted his shoulder sympathetically.
“You keep telling yourself that, pal. C’mon Pete. I got a big job for you.”
The big job was definitely a roomba. A slimy, glitter-covered, broken Roomba which blew instead of sucked and which Peter decided, within ten seconds, that he hated more than anything Mr. Stark had ever given him or done to him.
Dr. Banner passed by his station an hour later and firmly told Peter, apropos of nothing, that Miss Walters definitely didn’t have a crush or anything like a crush on Matt.
“She doesn’t,” he said firmly.
“Dude, it’s getting weird,” MJ said over Friday lunch. “Walters absolutely asked Matt out on a date and because he’s an idiot, he totally agreed.”
Oh, Matt. He’d just gotten his new meds, too.
“Did Fogs freak?” Peter asked.
“No, he laughed his ass off and told Karen that they were going on a date, too.”
“Dude, what the hell?”
“Maybe he thought it was a joke,” Ned offered. He and Peter traded apples without even needing to ask. Peter didn’t know what it was about his face that made the lunch workers give him red apples every time, but as far as he was concerned, such monstrosities should be bred out of existence. Ned, on the other hand, apparently had a green apple face and while green apples were far from the most superior of their kind, they were at least tolerable.
“Obviously he thought it was a joke,” MJ said. “The issue here is that Miss Walters clearly didn’t mean it as a joke and now Matt’s going on a date with some lady he’s only met while he’s been high.”
They were gonna have a riveting conversation then. Matt would probably get nervous and start quoting Thurgood Marshall at her. That kind of thing charmed Foggy, but Peter could think of no other sane human who would enjoy this particular shower of praise.
“Dude, you have to tell us everything on Monday,” Peter made her promise.
“She did what?” Wade gasped.
“You heard right,” Peter told him.
“Oh my god, Redthew, you idiot. This is how people get murdered.”
“What, by going on a date with She-Hulk?”
“Well, yes. But no. I mean, by agreeing to romantic shit under the influence, but if She-Hulk’s a spy then this is problematic as fuck.”
Holy shit, he’d forgotten about the spy part.
“Dr. Banner says she’s not a spy,” he said. Wade scoffed.
“As if you’d tell your fucking cousin if you were a spy.”
Well, he had a point there.
“Bathroom. Now. This cannot wait.”
The kids at their school were the kind of goody-two-shoes brats who didn’t scramble off to the bathrooms in the middle of class for a smoke or a drink. No. That was purely gossip territory.
Peter waited outside the door of the men’s until MJ had waited the requisite time to ask to leave class too. He promised Ned over text that he’d bring him up to speed in Spanish.
“Oh. My. God. Peter.”
“Oh my god, tell me.”
“I think Miss Walters is trying to get in Matt’s pants. Foggy teased him for two million years yesterday about how well their date went. He keeps asking Matt if he’s gonna leave him and Matt blushed about it, Peter. I think he likes her back!”
“No way. He’s got Fogs.”
“Yeah, love knows no boundaries and all that shit—the point is that Walters is 110% courting him and like, succeeding. Succeeding, Peter. We need to stop this. Only Karen can do that shit.”
Right. Of course. Matt didn’t need to be wooed or courted, he already had Foggy and walked the fine line between being cool and charming and being a cheater.
“I cannot describe how much I hate it when you say that word,” Matt said, apparently glaring at Wade out of the corner of his eye. The effect was kind of lost with his mask.
“Redthew, this must stop,” Wade continued, unheeded. Peter nodded gravely beside him.
Matt’s mask twitched a little with his eyebrow’s journey upward.
“What must stop?” he asked.
Matt turned his whole face their way.
“My what now?”
“Your affair, dear child. Also known as you boinking the She-Hulk.”
Matt said nothing and after a moment, Peter realized that he’d gone stiff with shock and bright red from the cheeks down.
“We’re not fucking, Jesus Christ,” he said. “She’s just being friendly, it’s nothing more than that—how do you even know about that, anyways?”
Peter cleared his throat and got one of those nasty glares. This one successfully penetrated the mask.
“We are not fucking, alright?” Matt sighed, “Gal’s just moved here from the other coast and she does good work and she’s just a bit lonely is all. We’ve all been there. The firm she works for is kind of a mess, too. Fogs and I got into it for our internship, but all the rumors about it being stupidly unorganized were true, so we turned it down.”
“A likely story,” Wade said with a wagging finger. “I see this for what it is, don’t you think for a second I don’t. If you wanna be manhandled, Redthew, all you gotta do is ask your boo. I’m sure he’d love to—”
“Literally shut your mouth before I break all your teeth.”
Wade shut it and started typing furiously into his phone.
“—hold you down and give it to you,” the phone read robotically. Matt took aim with one of his clubs. Wade stuffed the phone into the front of his suit.
“No one’s holding anyone down,” Matt said. “It’s just friendship. That is all it is. We are colleagues.”
Wade ripped his phone out of his suit and started typing into it again. Peter opened his mouth to get Matt to promise that if things went any further, he’d put a stop to it, but was interrupted by the robotic voice saying,
“Okay. So we’re talking upward action. I see now. If you want someone to hold you up to fuck, Red, all you have to do is say the word—”
They all stared at Wade’s now-smashed phone on the roof’s tile thoughtfully.
“I’m going to say this one more time,” Matt said slowly. “We. Are not. Fucking. That is, having sex. In any way whatsoever. Is that clear enough? Or do you want to try on another phone? I can do this all night.”
Wade lifted his chin in challenge.
Peter was fairly certain that he was scarred in at least fourteen different ways by the time he got home. He had to be. No one could have gotten through what he’d just experienced and left with their dignity.
He could not describe how woefully unprepared he felt. Sex ed had taught him nothing. Porn had apparently taught him little.
Wade Wilson hurling a stunning array of different sex acts at Matt to see which one made him blush and protest the most was probably the most explicit thing Peter had ever experienced in real life. And he’d shielded his eyes from people fucking on the subway. One memorable time, he’d done the same because of a couple in the alley right outside his window.
The part that made it especially bad was when Matt got tired of being the only victim and started asking Wade if these were things he’d like to do to him.
“Huh, Wade? You’re the one bringing all this up, Wade. You still sweet on me, big guy? These some kind of fantasies rolling around that head of yours? You still wanna ride this?”
Dear god, just kill him now.
If he heard one more of Matt’s fake sex moans, he was going to crack and give up Spiderman altogether. No responsibility talk or police officer necessary. Enduring that was not worth it.
He dug out his phone and texted the others.
PP: can confirm. Not fucking. Also very much scarred. Pls send pictures of cats and other soft animals.
MJ: give us a scarred level
PP: Matt did fake sex noises for like ten minutes straight and then Wade claimed he popped a boner and I had to leave before fantasy became reality
MJ: that’s vivid
PP: ned you are the real mvp
Peter did not ask how the other two got on after he’d left the night before, although MJ sent a sick face to the group chat after school with the caption “Foggy’s got a huge hickey,” and that was more than enough information for him.
He almost didn’t want to go to internship the next day in case he saw Dr. Banner and was reminded of it all.
The universe was a hostile and uncaring place.
Dr. Banner sat down seriously across from Peter at his station and no amount of ignoring appeared to make him vanish in a cloud of smoke like Peter’s imagination desperately wanted him to.
“Can I have Mr. Murdock’s number?” he asked, looking just a hint green around the edges.
Fucking take it.
“Thanks, Pete.” He turned the piece of paper over in his hands a few times. “Peter, I just have to ask—”
“He’s got a boyfriend,” Peter said before that statement could go any further. “They are in stupid love. I’d put money on them getting married in less than two years. ”
The green tinge appeared to fade a little bit.
“Ah. Okay,” Dr. Banner said sheepishly, “Sorry. It’s probably a bit chauvinistic of me, but I just feel a kind of responsibility for her, you know?”
No, he didn’t. Please leave immediately.
“I mean, Jenn’s got a bad habit of sleeping with guys when she’s hulked out. And she doesn’t really think it through all the time.”
Literally unnecessary, unwarranted, and unwanted information, Doc.
“And I just worry. I know Matt Murdock’s kind of a shark, so.”
Who told him Matt was a shark?
Matt would be the worst shark. He’d bump into every type of coral and then get bitten by a dolphin or something.
Dr. Banner gave him a weird look.
“You guys are, uh, pretty close aren’t you?”
Goddamnit, interior thoughts. Come on.
“He’s not grooming you, is he, Peter?”
Peter’s brain got stuck on the image of a giant, blind orange cat with its barbed tongue stuck in his own imaginary scrawny tabby fur. Wade’s imaginary cat-sona had mange. He grimaced. Dr. Banner’s eyes darted around nervously.
“O-kay. Something is happening here which I think I’m not going to engage with,” he declared. “I’m off. Rotate that and you’ll have better luck.” He pointed at the angry, now less slimy Roomba.
DD: Peter, Dr. Bruce Banner just called me.
DP: holy shit, is it a hulk 3some?
DD: you can find a cave to die in anytime now, you know that?
SM: he asked for your number. He was turning green, what was I supposed to do??
DD: maybe NOT give him my number?
DP: what’d he want?
DD: to ask me not to have sex with his cousin. Sorry, was something I said the other night unclear?
DD: silence heathen
DD: for future reference, Peter. Don’t give out my number please.
SM: okay, I understand. Sorry
DD: [voice message] it’s okay. For the record, she is lovely and brilliant and 100% did ask me to have sex with her. I just panicked.
DP: OH MY GOD
SM: oh my god??? What did you do?
DD: [voice message] I don’t know! I guess something spectacularly dumb? I don’t remember in particular, but I guess it put her off, so like I said. Just friends.
DP: you remember, you little shit. Speak
DD: I really don’t
DP: SPEAK YOU HARLOT
DD: Oh my god
DD: Okay, whatever. I had like, six drinks
DP: oh my god you started talking about your dad didn’t you
DP: dude you probably cried for like four hours in her bosom
DD: [voice message] what the fuck is that supposed to mean? I had seven drinks with you that one time and cried in not one bosom.
SM: what’s a bosom
DP: tits, honey. They’re tits
DD: [voice message] the point is I got sloshed as fuck and put her off, okay? That’s all that matters.
DP: red did you puke on her shoes?
DD: no. I’m answering no more questions.
DP: did you attempt sexy times and fail?
DP: no? No answer to that? It’s alright kid, nothing to be ashamed of, happens to the best of us.
DP: still nothing?
SM: pretty sure he’s ignoring us now.
“He said he got drunk as hell and put her off,” Peter dutifully informed MJ and Ned.
“Thank god for that,” MJ said holding up her juice as though for a toast.
“What did he do that put her off?” Ned asked after the toast had been had. Peter shrugged.
“Wouldn’t say. Wade asked him if he started crying on her tits and he said he didn’t. It’s hard to tell when he’s lying when he’s not in front of you, though.”
MJ’s eyebrows went high and then way low.
“Oh, I’ll find out,” she promised.
NL: oh my god yes
MJ: so fogs can’t finish the story without crying but the gist of it is that Walters propositioned Matt after drink three and he got scared that he couldn’t back out ‘cause she’s obvs she-hulk, so he agreed but then had a few more drinks and called Fogs in the bathroom like crying?
MJ: And apologizing ‘cause he was so pissed he thought he’d already done it and when it turned out he hadn’t he freaked out and like, went through the panic all over again and by the time Walters found him, he’d worked himself into like, childhood trauma and was on the verge of a full blown panic attack and anyways, she helped him home and has been scared that this whole thing was her fault ever since. And now all they do is apologize to each other.
MJ: its super awkward
MJ: fogs said it wasn’t funny in the moment but now he’s dying
MJ: and matt’s so embarrassed cuz he def told Walters about his Tragic Backstory ™ without meaning to and he can’t remember if he told her about DD
MJ: so everything is hella awkward and everyone’s dying of it
PP: I dunno what I expected but sorry I gotta screenshot this cuz wade’s going to scream
DP: I KNEW IT
DP: I FCCKING KNEW IT
DD: what is happening I don’t like it
DP: you know EXACTLY what’s happening mister. You cried on her tits, bitch. I called that shit
DP: AHA Nothing to say now, huh, slugger?
DD: yeah, wade, my being abused as a kid and triggered is a funny fucking joke, ha ha
DP: fair point, I will shut up imminently
DP: but in the meantime I called it and I would like you to admit that I did. Go on.
DD: for fuck’s sake.
DD: [voice message] you called it. I had a meltdown in a bathroom. But, to be fair, I have had multiple meltdowns in multiple bathrooms and I can assure you that this was the nicest one yet.
SM: that is not comforting
DP: no shit? Me too. What’s the worst one you’ve had a breakdown in?
SM: guys. This is not a competition.
DD: That’s hard. You know FIVE on 53rd?
DP: holy shit, that’s nasty.
DD: yeah. go on. You next
DP: k, so I went back to Canada for this funeral right
SM: guys these are horrible stories we can stop any time now
DP: and my man lucky had just passed and he lived in this trailer right
DP: and he was a taxidermist
DD: oh god I hate it. keep going
SM: OH GOD I HATE IT SO MUCH WADE PLS STOP
DP: and this is right after I got back from Afghanistan and someone fires a rifle outside, right? So I go in this toilet and I mean, lucky ain’t never had decent plumbing but this was his personal bad boy and he smoked longer than I’d been alive that point and so I’m screaming in front of this crapper surrounded by cigarette butts older than me and putrid old man taxidermist shit and anyways, I almost ended it all right there.
DD: you know what wade? I think you win this one. Congrats on your fucking shitty early adulthood.
DP: thanks I do try
SM: WADE. You need therapy. Please, please, please go to therapy. I will call Mr. Wilson for you RIGHT NOW. I will call him for BOTH of you.
DP: nah, we’re good. Hey, what’s the worst bathroom you’ve had a break down in, pete?
SM: I haven’t? Broken down? In a bathroom?
DD: that’s okay, you can do kitchen or closet if that’s easier
DP: closets are hard because they’ve got shelves
DD: not they’re not. You can fit. You just age out of closets, that’s the main thing.
DP: oh shit, you’re right. I forgot. Fuck I’m old
SM: this is not normal. I have not broken down in any of those places. Just in my bedroom. And, I guess on the fire escape. And once under a building.
DD: yeah. That sucks pete. sorry you went through that
DP: yeah man, that’s a real bummer. Did you have someone with you at least?
SM: DO YOU HEAR YOURSELVES RIGHT NOW?
DD: hey cool, so do me a solid and delete that image would you?
DP: nah for real. I still called it tho
DD: yeah, whatever you called it
SM: GUYS WHAT IS HAPPENING
SM: What, are we just dropping this? This is a thing we are just leaving here?
SM: great. Perfect. Alright sure. This is a thing we are now dropping.
MJ was pleased to report back the following Friday that the weird sexual tension in the office had been replaced by the normal sexual tension in the office. Matt and Miss Walters had apparently made up and had a supremely awkward conversation over coffee wherein Matt explained both that he had a traumatic past and had kind of shacked up with Fogs for the moment and Miss Walters explained that she was just new in town and was a bit lonely and feeling like an outsider and had been really charmed by Nelson, Murdock & Page, the office and the work.
Obviously this stroked Matt’s ego in all the right ways and he extended the firm’s regards and support for future projects, in addition to some hopefully non-traumatic social drinks in the future.
Miss Walters—Jennifer, now, was very pleased to accept this offer. Even though Foggy declared that technically, this was war on their good Columbia name. Karen, ever on the hunt to antagonize her two besties, asked Jenn if Harvard colors were better, to which she naturally said ‘duh.’ And so Karen decided that she and Jenn were going to be best friends and there was nothing Fogs and Matt could do about it.
Dr. Banner, however, was in many ways just as distressed as before, even though Jenn had evidently told him that things with Matt hadn’t gone as he had feared.
He watched Peter unusually closely over the next few weeks. Peter didn’t know why.
Matt wasn’t that bad of an influence. Not compared to Wade who’d shown Peter how to dismantle a chair and then put it back together so the seat would fall in the second someone’s ass touched it.
Jenn would be fine. She had some great friends now. And really, the only way to go from here was up.