Disclaimer: Marvel owns them. No money is being made from this.

Notes: Just something that popped into my head, then meandered for a while. I think it was the Smith Brothers at fault. Jim, especially, as I recall. I don't know, it's 4:40am, and my mind is going. The title is the title of a Dave Dobbyn song.

Rating: PG

Belle of the Ball
by Ana Lyssie Cotton

It was an unassuming house in a normal neighborhood. The trash was put to the curb every Wednesday night, and the kids played safely in the streets.

The sight of the tall muscular man who approached that house startled a few, but most were more worried about putting dinner on the table, or bandaging a scraped knee. He knocked at the door, shifting absently from foot to foot as if the absolute *normality* around him bothered him in a way. Scrabbling under his skin and shrieking "this is wrong!"

An older, mature woman opened the door. Mature if you were being generous. Elderly, if you were really trying to be correct. She studied the man, vague amusement in her gaze. "May I help you?"

Polite to a fault. A left-over value from a different age.

He shifted, "Um. I was looking for, um. Peter Parker."

The look she bestowed was remeniscent of teachers scolding recalcitrant children. "And why would you want my nephew?"

Nathan Dayspring fought against the compulsion to feel like an erring child for being on this woman's doorstep. He was the Askani'Son, flonq it all, he answered to only the sisters! "I wished to dis--"

"You're that Cable lad, aren't you." She made a tsking sound, "Well, you'd best come in and have some tea while we wait for Peter." She opened the door, letting him in.


"Come, come, can't have you standing on the porch all night. The neighbors would talk too much." May Parker chuckled as she led the large man into her kitchen. It was ahomey place, bright colours on the walls and dark wood on the cabinets. "Have a seat, I'll get you a cup. Would you like something to eat?"

"Uh, no--"

"You look like you haven't eaten in centuries," She interrupted him reprovingly. "I've got some leftovers that'll do you real good. Peter won't be upset, he got pot roast last night."

"I..." He bowed to the inevitable. "Thank you."

"Should eat more. I can tell from the way your skin hangs, lad." She tsked again. "Bet you don't have a wife to help you stay fit, either."

He started, a flash of pain searing through his mind at the thought of Aliya. "That--"

"Ah. Lost her." May gave a slight nod, "I know how that feels, lad. Like you're ripped apart inside and you'll never get yourself back."

"I--" He felt as if he should say something, maybe leave. This was not going as he had planned it. Just a simple meeting, to arrange a time and a place for some specific cargo. But, this-- He stood, "I should leave you to your life."

"Sit down."

He sat, then blinked.

She faced him, all softness gone from her face. "I've heard of you, Mr. Cable. You and your children running amok and creating havoc." Her tongue clicked. "It's simply ridiculous. You should try other things--maybe some diplomacy."

Bemused, he just stared at her, wondering what she would say next. What other conversational rabbit she'd retrieve from thin air.

"At least take time for yourselves." A snort, "But my Peter's the same way, in the end. All that hard dedication and Responsibility."

"With great power, Aunt May." A gentle voice said reprovingly from the doorway.

She turned, smiled. "Peter. You've a guest."

Nathan stood, "Parker. I needed..." He glanced at May, and shrugged, "To arrange a pickup point for that delivery we talked about."

"Well, you boys can wait to discuss business until after you've eaten." May waved the ladle in her hand at Peter. "Go show him where to wash up, and you make sure you both get behind your ears now, hear?"

"Yes, ma'am."


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