characters: peter parker x michelle “mj”
setting: modern, ceo au ; main verse
prompt: Whoa whoa wait, Peter actually proposed to Michelle on TV in the spideychelle ceo au?!
prompt: I always wondered for Michelle and Peter in the CEO AU that since they are together in secret, if that would become a rumor within the office and then on the news. What would happen :0c
note: another chapter re-upload. in this one, all hell begins to break loose now. yes this is two prompts in one.
Peter’s proposal to Michelle is an admittingly late night idea, spur-of-the-moment, not-thought-out decision. It wasn’t backed by the amount of forethought and precision as Michelle’s fake-marriage plan, but instead possesses all of the spontaneous, adrenaline-driven bad habit that Peter still hadn’t been able to shake off after all these years, and now he thinks he’s made a nose-dive into one of the most controversial things made yet.
Well, of course after agreeing to Michelle’s fake-marriage. And then followed by the unforeseen and unpredictably thoroughly breeching their agreement of no feelings attached, ever.
Peter has never had the best track record in abiding rules.
The proposal doesn’t actually happen on purpose; it isn’t planned and hadn’t been a previous thought, consideration, or even an inkling in his mind before.
The proposal happens in front of cameras, broadcasted on television with zero editing to his words, his startled expression from being snuck up on while exiting a building, or his hesitation to answer. It literally happens because Peter opens his big mouth, and when he finds out that his recorded request for it to not hit the headlines is altered so that it is televised instead of printed, it feels like all of Hell is breaking loose.
And because there was no way to backtrack his declaration of love for Ms. Watson while on camera, he presumes the best guess decision is to just run with it.
The reports twist his words into a declaration for an attention-grabbing slash surprise proposal.
Michelle has no inkling of this, and when she finds out about it, she’s mostly furious because every move and answer to the press who dare to ask have been planned and calculated in a way to withhold as much detail and preserve privacy. And she sees this slip-up as the monumental mismanage that could have ever been made.
She feels angered. She feels betrayed. She feels backed into a corner and like a prey waiting for the predator to pounce at any given moment.
Besides this, Michelle also doesn’t know what to think about the proposal—because she has already begun having second thoughts about the fake-marriage, about her alarmingly rising emotions that were initially prohibited, and her own suspicions about Peter’s increasingly frequent absences on top of it all. And frankly, when she was first told about it—in person and as a warning, before she saw it televised—at first, she didn’t believe him.
Only to find out that he had actually been completely, one hundred percent serious.
And now Peter’s nervous because now he has to go through with it—not that he would oppose to it, if the opportunity would have presented itself naturally—and, this isn’t like the face-deep performance they have been parading around to sponsors and at functions; the audience has expanded to undesired occupants.
As Peter Parker watches the fruits of his hard-earned labor shrivel up and die, he’s fearfully dreading the choice words that his journalist boss back at The Bugle is going to shout at him.
As the seconds expand into days, Peter is definitely thinking about the proposal more than Michelle does. While she’s trying to control the damage by viewing it as another ploy and disguise to wear, he’s viewing it as the real deal.
And that’s when it all dies.
Also, as if things couldn’t escalade any more, she soon asks him to meet her parents. Peter gets a loud alert on his phone about The Black Cat Burglar and skips out to do Spider-Man business. He lies and says that he has to meet with his reporter colleagues. He ultimately forgets about her requested plans about meeting her parents—until too late.
— — — —
— — — —
The television is a blaring, bright distraction in the lunch break room—it serves as a plausible, believable excuse for attention as Peter tries to keep his gaze steady and focused on his pre-made Subway sandwich he ventured out to get just twenty minutes ago and now has half of that time left for break.
So far, it had been a rather good day—despite waking up two hours before his alarm due to continuing insomnia, ended up running late anyway, missed breakfast and forgetting to pack a lunch, Peter made the train on time and managed to notice en route between having whiplash to the headlines within newspaper stands and his boss emails him (his actual boss, the one who’s over his journalist career, Joe Robertson).
Then his cell phone chirps and a message blipping on screen before his phone rings rings rings for an incoming call as in ominous warning, as if in alarm, as J. Jonah Jameson calls him instead of Robertson. And Peter tries in vain to have a discreet conversation with Jameson’s booming voice in one ear as he sprints across the building’s lobby into a crowded elevator.
This day started off moderately well. Because as soon as he gets to his floor, Peter literally trips ten steps after exiting the elevator. His phone’s screen cracks and the cardboard back of his notebook bends.
He arrives two minutes late, with a slightly frazzled look, and is criticized by his temporary boss as she runs hands over his suit to smooth it, her eyes biting and nose turned. There’s a department meeting today that he’s to attend at her side to take notes on. Her office door is wide open. As her hands smooth over the collar of his simple navy suit, they stop at his shoulders. Squeezes lightly, barely noticed. Gives a friendly pat on his chest. Her eyes linger. A hand raises, lips press together. “Professional,” she iterates.
He nods. “Right.”
“And fix your hair.” It no longer styled smoothly.
That had been over three hours ago. And the meeting had gone fine, by the way, and had indeed been professional—even though this crowd talked very much, and among themselves more than Ms. Watson and her assistant. But Peter hadn’t thought much of it then, and he’s uncertain if Michelle is still pondering over it now.
But what really jumped out to him had been the slip of his name from one colleague: It hadn’t been a bother—he’s the relatively fresh meat, unforeseen to be working this high up as his first job within the company. (Peter always says that it’d just been luck that he got the job; he always tosses everything to luck.)
What really grabs his attention and raises his discomfort is the conversation he’s currently hearing from outside the break room.
Peter’s languid munching comes to a halt at hearing an indication about him spoken in a conversation just outside the door. It’s far enough where he shouldn’t hear, but Matt and Joanne (if he’s picking out the voices correctly) whisper so harshly and the small table he’s sitting at isn’t that far from the exit, and armed with his sensitive hearing, he couldn’t nothear. It’s shocking and a little hurtful because in the many, many months that he’s worked to integrate into the company and staff’s social circles, Peter has made some good companions, some rather good connections, and if it turns out to be Matt and Joanne, it would be disappointing to him because he thought he’d built a well-enough relationship with them at a bar after work some two years ago to not to be stabbed in the back by them.
Peter slows from eating his sandwich, swallows. With it still in his hands, he listens further, catching broken pieces of a conversation about “picking favorites” and how “everything just can’t be a coincidence.” His brows furrow as a woman—probably isn’t Joanne, he thinks—voices how “he’s always following around like a—I don’t know—a lost puppy or something.”
“Well that’s in the job description,” a man who’s definitely not Matt, as Peter concludes, speaks up.
“No, no, that’s not what I mean. It’s like…I don’t know…there’s something else. You didn’t see what I saw—”
“The way they were looking at each other…and touching. Like—you, you seen the movies, right?”
“If I was basing everything off of movies, I wouldn’t really believe it either.”
“Oh, shut up, Bret!”
Peter wrinkles his nose at the name.
“No man looks a lady that way and it’s only professional,” the woman continues. She’s countered with how, in the office, the two subjects always seem separate and have never dragged personal issues in to work. “Yeah,” she goes, “but I just know …I don’t want to assume, but…”
“That’s what we’ve all been doing this whole time,” Bret adds.
Another man speaks. “Yeah, but you have gotta admit that the timing when they were both absent, that was uncanny.”
“You all are just annoying buzzards,” Bret now rebukes.
“But it’s interesting though, isn’t it—?”
“And a breach of contract,” Bret butts. He sounds intent on bringing the conversation to an end.
At the table, Peter’s heart is racing.
“It’s risky, yeah, but I wouldn’t blame him. I mean, she does look rather nice on a good day, if you know what I mean.” The man’s smirk can be heard in his speech. “She’s pretty for a CEO. I’m still shocked.”
Peter’s pulse is a jackhammer. Oh no, he thinks. Oh no.
“And what’s that supposed to mean,” a different woman jumps in, shutting him up.
Sandwich forgotten, Peter’s vision spaces out as he looks toward the large flat screen television but doesn’t register anything it is playing, continuing to eavesdrop.
In the hall near the break room door, one set of footsteps walk away but not before its owner mentions something about money and a bet made that Peter doesn’t quite catch the details of.
A person asks another’s suspicions about “How long do you think it’s been?”
And then another person mentions how she once noticed both subjects of their conversation were wearing wedding rings one day but then never again.
Suspicions grew, Peter’s heart thumps in his ears, his stomach and chest runs cold, and then he doesn’t realize the last ten minutes of his lunch break is over until his wristwatch beeps, yanking him from his thoughts and he swears he jumps three inches in the air. Absentmindedly, he quickly cleans his area, crumpling up the wrapping paper, shoving it and his sandwich inside an already-stuffed trashcan, suddenly unable to stomach it any longer.
Oh no no no no no!!
He feels the panic worsening. He has tunnel vision. Doubles back for his cup that he forgot. Is rushing to the door, hearing the talking end and hoping to—he doesn’t really know what he’s hoping for but he has to get out of here. Now. He has to find out who it is. He has leave. He needs answers.
As he’s hurriedly approaching the doorway, two colleagues enter, all three stopping short, the two standing in Peter’s way of exit. The room is immediately embarrassed, immediately awkward.
Peter’s jaw sets. One of the two men in front of him clears his throat, greets Peter with a sheepish, “Parker! Hey—hey… I, uh, we didn’t see you there, buddy… Uh.” His hand raises, pauses in the air, awkwardly clasps Peter’s shoulder in departure. “See you ‘round.”
Peter’s head bobs in an automatic goodbye. Doesn’t say anything. Raises the straw from his cup to drink so he doesn’t have to speak. The men—Lenny and Simon, he remembers—step to the sides as Peter forcefully shoulders past them.
He doesn’t want to speak to anyone for the rest of the day.
And to add to it, Michelle is out of her office for the rest of the day, completely unaware and blindsided.
For the remaining hours at work, Peter forces a strained but content face and smiles politely to all that pass and he tries to act as if the biggest mistake of his life isn’t about to come out.
— — — —
Luckily, thankfully, he doesn’t hear about any more suspicions, but when Michelle returns, he makes sure to keep his distance—in words and actions—and it is done so uncharacteristically that she raises a brow.
Even though it isn’t spoken or explicitly indicated, he knows that she knows something is up and he’ll tell her eventually, he will, only when he’s for certain that the rumors floating low under the radar about an “affair in the office” are about him. Because while a few bits of gossip had mentioned the company’s CEO, Peter knows that he isn’t the only man she converses with or spends a good amount of time near. And he uses this as an alibi, a cover when he’s approached by Brett and Lenny.
For three days Peter basically ghosts Michelle, remaining strictly professional until a Wednesday afternoon on his day off. He’s managed to skip over to her apartment and there he explains everything: all he’s heard and who he suspects. It doesn’t go over well.
Her way of freaking out is shutting down, no longer talking, quietly standing and leaving the room to lean over a counter and just breathes. Michelle’s way of dealing with this is pouring herself a small portion of vodka and orange juice, and thanking him, indicating he could leave her be, takes another look at her glass and pours herself more when Peter closes the front door.
He doesn’t have to ask about how things are to be now. It’s obvious; he already knows.
— — — —
However, no one suspects to see the employee’s suspicions confirmed three weeks later in squeezed in the short recaps of last night’s news on local broadcast in the early morning. What is shown is a candid photograph of both Peter Parker and Michelle Watson entering a function held by other big wigs. The photo had obviously been taken without their knowledge, as neither show any indication that they noticed the camera and Peter is guzzling down a beer. Another photo shows on screen and it’s a closer, still secretly taken photo of them: they’re both laughing at a joke made by a speaker at the function, but of course the newscaster twists it to have a romantic undertone, and a hand of the two is zoomed into on screen. “And apparently Ms. Watson, a local CEO, attended the function with a new beau? Wedding rings on the two had been spotted weeks ago at—”
And to make it worse, Michelle had been conversing a rather important event with three other guests who hold high positions in partner branches when one notices her on the television high on the wall and who clicks off the mute.
To make it worse even more, one guest had been a woman Peter overheard speaking her suspicions about the rumor a week before, and who Michelle sat down and debunked the rumors to her face.
Michelle’s eyes are spinning so she closes them, not yet ready to see the expressions of her guests.
When Peter finds out by himself, he’s told by Gregory from the PR department gleefully approaching Peter’s desk.