Everyone Has A Choice
5. 21st-23rd January
Peter awoke on the 21st of Jauary feeling sick. He got up and went to the mirror and he looked like the walking dead. He groaned and went off to the shower. He had a cold. And quite a bad one, by the feel of it.
After he’d showered and dressed he wondered what to do. He could do what he did every day- save people as Spider-Man, or he could stay inside and do schoolwork. Or he could go to his aunt’s house, he hadn’t seen her since Christmas -nothing but a few phone calls- and he felt so guilty about it. They’d been sitting around talking when Peter heard the noise of sirens outside. He tried to ignore them, he really tried, but it didn’t work. He’d left her…left her all alone on Christmas Day with nothing but some feeble excuses…and he couldn’t even come back on Boxing Day, because the police cars had been heading towards a gunfight between rival gangs, and most of them had been arrested, but the next day he’d hardly got a few yards from the apartment (in costume of course) when one of them who’d avoided capture had taken a shot at him….
The shot had grazed his arm. It hurt quite a lot. That was both his arms cut up now, he thought dryly. He’d be lucky if he kept all his limbs into old age.
Anyway, he’d finally knocked out the guy and dragged him to the police station, and there they had tried to take him in for questioning. They’d demanded he take the mask off, he’d been lucky to get out without being shot, all things considered…
And now it was a few weeks later and he had a cold. His life seemed like a blur sometimes…
He suddenly really, really wanted to go and see MJ. Really wanted. How could he have not seen her since Christmas? Was she angry that he didn’t care?
I care. I care. I care very much. I hope you’re okay…wherever you are.
Maybe one day she would leave town and not tell him…
No, that was ridiculous.
He sneezed, and got a jolt of pain in his arm to go with it. He went downstairs to get his post…one letter. It was about the apartment. The apartment had belonged, pretty much, to Norman, but now, thanks to Harry and some paperwork, it belonged to him…and he couldn’t afford it.
He knew in the back of his mind that soon he’d have to move somewhere else, and probably somewhere distinctly cheaper- but he wanted to hold onto the apartment for as long as possible. It was a decent place to live, even if it wasn’t home. He supposed he could ask Harry to lend him money…
Or he could earn it himself. Why shouldn’t he? After all, his friends -and his aunt- were going to think he was utterly useless and lazy if he turned up at their houses unemployed and asking for money. He made a note at the back of his mind: get job, then get new apartment.
He had breakfast…he’d bought some milk and cereal, now- and then he went to get changed. He was Spider-Man for the rest of the day, and felt guilty when he got back because hey, still no job or money.
That evening, Mary Jane was watching television. That was pretty much the only thing to do in the house if you didn’t feel like talking to its other occupants, and tonight she didn’t. Her mother had gone out visiting friends and her father wasn’t speaking to her. He was prevented from going to the pub because she’d been kidnapped and now couldn’t be left alone. He had yelled at her mother about it, loudly and crudely. Nice to get more proof of where his priorities lay.
Although, he could just leave if he really wanted to…
She turned her attention back to the television. News was on. It was the usual stuff. Debates raging about this, that and the other, celebrities doing this, that and the other, Spider-Man had saved three people from a burning building and then pulled an injured man from the wreckage of a car, all in one day-
There wasn’t much footage of them, though. There never was. He was usually too fast for anyone to get him on video.
She thought, slightly inexplicably, of Peter. What was he doing, right now?
Peter realised at exactly 2:07 in the morning that he’d gone to sleep still with most of his costume on. The mask and the gloves were lying on the floor readily available for anyone with a pair of binoculars and a tendancy to disrespect other people’s privacy to see.
He groaned, got up, shut the curtains, changed into his pyjamas, put the suit away and got back into bed. He couldn’t get back to sleep, though. He cursed himself: he had to get up and go to school tomorrow. He’d be falling asleep in Dr Connor’s class…
He finally slept at about 4:46 am, after it occured to him that it was almost -now even more almost- his twentieth birthday.
MJ got up early that day and went to the card shop. Her mother hadn’t come back yet, but she wasn’t worried, sometimes she stayed away until late afternoon. After browsing for a while, she eventually picked out an elaborately decorated one with hearts all over it. She didn’t regret it, although she was honestly expecting to. When it came to Peter, she wasn’t surprised when her own feelings started messing her around.
A present, next. She wasn’t very good at picking out presents for him, she was sure. Nothing she thought of giving him seemed to say anything.
Then again, she didn’t know what she wanted to say to him.
Eventually, she bought him a notebook and pen. She wrote on the first page of the notebook herself:
HAPPY BIRTHDAY! Love, Me.
She wrapped it carefully up in silver wrapping paper. She would go to his apartment and give it to him tomorrow. Assuming he was there…but if he wasn’t, there were really only two other places he’d be likely to be; his aunt’s house or Harry’s house.
Her mother eventually showed up after lunch. She looked rather preoccupied, and spoke to her husband before she said hello to her daughter.
“I need to talk to you. It’s rather urgent.”
“What is it?” he asked, on his guard right away.
Mary Jane got up and hurried to her bedroom. Her mother was a soft-spoken woman, but she could hear her words “I want a divorce.” ringing out all over the house. And then her father started yelling, so she ran downstairs again. But he had gone, slamming the door behind him so loud it could have been heard on the other side of the world. Her mother stood in the doorway to the living room, staring after him.
“I thought,” she said with a sigh, “that he would at least answer. Yes or no would have done.”
“Perhaps I should have waited.”
“No, you shouldn’t,” she said, amazed at the tone of her voice. “I don’t…mind…if he goes, okay?”
“You don’t sound certain, dear.”
She attempted to work it out in her brain. On the one hand he was her father, but on the other hand he was a drunken, loutish, ignorant oaf…and dammit, this didn’t seem in the least bit fair.
“If I wake up the next day and he’s gone, I don’t think I’ll mind,” she managed to say, and assumed she meant it. Her mother just smiled weakily, and murmured “I’ll wait till he gets back.”
She woke up the next day and he was gone.
Peter kicked off the bedcovers and walked to the window. The sun had risen. January the twenty-third.
So…it was his birthday. He planned to enjoy himself. He sneezed again. He picked up his costume and placed it firmly in the wardobe, even though he felt not quite right doing so.
The phone rang.
“Hello?” he said groggily.
“Peter? S’me, Harrry,” came Harry’s voice on the other end. “Happy birthday, good buddy.”
“Thanks, Harry. Are you coming over?” he asked. “My aunt’s bringing cake, and Mary Jane will be here…I think. He could almost hear Harry wince on the other end, because he was doing the same thing himself…that was all of the people who’d gotten together to celebrate Thanksgiving, with one notable exception.
“I’m going to try, Pete,” Harry said. “I have an important meeting today, but I will try and get there.”
“Okay,” Peter said. “I’ll see you then.”
“I promise,” Harry added, before hanging up.
Peter glanced around his -the- apartment. Since Harry had left, it had become rather messy. He ought to clean it up. He’d do that today. The city would survive.
Of course the city would survive…but would individual people? A strange and inexplicable image popped into his head, and after that they kept coming: grieving parents, friends and lovers being told their children or soulmates had died because Spider-Man was out to lunch, or celebrating his birthday, or tidying his room…
He tried to tidy up, he really did. It looked fairly presentable by the time he couldn’t take it anymore and went to the wardobe to retrieve his costume.
Harry heard the whispers, he always did. Members of the company there from the start, particularly those not favoured by his father…on top of the whispering, they always gave him filthy looks when he walked past. He never met any of their gazes. No-one in the company had offered him sympathy, not a soul- and he told himself he didn’t want it, not from them, but what had he ever done to deserve nothing but nasty looks? Only be his father’s son.
It reminded him of high school, despite the fact that most of the Oscorp employees were twice his age at least. It depressed him: maybe there was hardly any distinction between children and adults at all.
At least the meeting had gone well. He had been speaking to a man called Otto Octavius -even Harry had heard of him, he had heard Peter talking about him once- he was a brilliant scientist, apparently. He was working on a big project, something involving fusion, Harry wasn’t sure of the specifics. He seemed pleasant enough, but he hadn’t said sorry for your loss, or anything of the sort, either.
Why did he have to have people apologize to him about it, for heaven’s sake? It wasn’t like it was their fault- it wasn’t anyone‘s fault, apart from Spider-Man’s. Why should people be expected to make him feel better, he wasn’t the center of their universe, or indeed anyone’s universe, he was being stupid-
He just wanted people to acknowledge- what? That their ruthless employer had meant something to someone? That he was hurting, hurting a lot–
Someone tapped him on the shoulder. He turned around, and it was a woman. She wasn’t young, but she didn’t look especially old either- she was very pretty, with smiling eyes and brown hair. He was rather taken aback for a second.
“Hello?” he said.
“Mr Osborn?” she asked. Harry almost sighed, like he’d once said, he looked around for his father whenever he heard that name.
“What can I do for you?” he asked.
“I just wanted to say, I’m sorry for your loss,” she said. When Harry didn’t say anything -he was too, well, surprised– she went on “I didn’t know your father, but I read that he had died.”
Harry didn’t correct her with been murdered, and he had no idea why. “Thank you,” he said quietly. “That…means quite a lot.”
“I saw your picture in the paper,” she said, waving his gratitude away. “That’s how I was fairly sure of who you were. Oh,” she went on. “My name is Rosie-I’m Otto’s wife,”
“You are?” he said. “I just came from a meeting with him…”
“I know. What do you think? He’s been working with fusion…all his life,” she said. “It would be his dream come true, to be provided with the resources to create something…I assume you haven’t made a decision yet, though…”
“Well, I’d have to speak with a board of directors, and everything, but…I would like for it to happen, Mrs Octavius,” he said. She beamed in response.
“In fact- you know what? I’d be optimistic,” he said brightly. “I hope you’ll excuse me…I ought to be somewhere else right now. I’m sorry.”
“No, Mr Osborn, thanks for your help,” she said, still grinning at what was clearly fantastic news to her. “Goodbye.”
“Goodbye,” he said, and he smiled once more…this was odd, surely he hadn’t smiled purely for the sake of smiling for such a long time…and hurried away; he had a birthday to go to.
Aunt May arrived at the apartment first. She was carrying a birthday cake. “Happy birthday, dear,” she said, and gave him a peck on the cheek. “I made this myself. More than enough for four people.”
“You’re welcome, dear,” she said. “Where are they? MJ and Harry? Harry is coming, I take it?”
“Oh yes, he’s coming,” Peter said. “He might be a little late…he’s got a meeting…but MJ should be here any time now…”
As if on cue, and rather amusingly, the doorbell rang at just that moment. Peter bounded to the door and flung it open -it was her.
She looked gorgeous, and she was holding a present and a card. She also was holding a balloon in her other hand, which she handed to him.
“It’s cool, isn’t it?” she said. “I bought it on the way here- I thought you’d like it.”
“I love it,” he said sincerely. “Here….” He tied it to the banister, where it bobbed about in the air. “Thank you, MJ-” He was about to kiss her on the cheek- about to kiss her– but suddenly he realised, and there was an incredibly awkward moment.
She’d looked like she wanted to kiss him, whether it was a simple kiss between friends or not. It didn’t matter, they just needed each other. Of course, he’d known that for years and years and years.
His aunt’s voice interupted his thoughts. “I,” she annouced, “will make you a birthday feast. Don’t even think about it,” she said, when Peter opened his mouth, “it’s your birthday.” She vanished into the kitchen.
Peter and MJ sat down on the sofa.
“So…” Peter said, “so, how’s things?”
MJ looked at him, looked at the floor, looked at him again and said “My dad left today.”
About a hundred thoughts shot through Peter’s head like bullets. “Oh,” he said in shock. “Oh…”
“Don’t apologize,” she said. “Admittedly he’s been gone less than twenty-four hours, but I’m not missing him much.”
“Do you know where he’s gone?”
“My mother said that at midnight, he woke her up with his bags all packed and told her he was moving in with friends,” she said, shaking her head. “He didn’t bother waking me up.”
“Do you know why he did it?”
“They’re blaming each other for me being kidnapped,” she answered simply. “My dad blames my mum for going out to see friends and my mum blames my dad for being at the pub.”
“And who do you blame?”
She blinked. “My dad, I suppose. He…” She just shook her head – her relationship with her father could be reduced to just that one gesture, really. “Let’s not talk about it.”
“Gotcha,” Peter said. “What do you want to talk about? I’m an expert in anything…”
She grinned. “You’re good at making me feel better, you know that? Hmmm…how’s life? Jobs, school, the rest?”
“School is good. Jobs…I haven’t got one,” He grinned sheepishly. “I’m gonna look, don’t worry. I could use the money. I’m getting a smaller apartment, for one thing- this one’s a bit out of my league now…”
“I didn’t know things were that desperate,” MJ said in a concerned tone. “Surely there’s something you can do? I mean- I thought you and Harry were going to keep living together.”
“I guess not,” Peter said with a shrug. “Although, well, I haven’t asked. Not yet.”
“Come to think of it,” MJ said, “how come Harry isn’t here?”
“He’s at a meeting. He said he’s coming.”
MJ was silent for a few seconds. “Were you…” she said thoughtfully, “…were you really jealous when we started dating? Me and Harry?”
“Erm…” Peter thought about it. It was hard to tell. And rather hard to think about. “Well, yes, I was…but…I just wanted you to be happy,” he said very quietly. “That’s all I ever wanted, for you to be happy.”
MJ looked at him, just looked at him for a few moments…and then she sighed. “I was happy. I think. Just maybe…not happy enough.” And that was how she looked: not happy enough. No sooner had he noticed this, though, then she smiled at him.
“He wasn’t – a bad boyfriend,” she said. “At least he cared about me. More then I can say for a lot of guys I went out with,” She gave a cross between a snort and a bitter laugh. “Let’s face it, though, we weren’t meant for each other. But at least we’re still friends, right? That doesn’t happen often…”
Peter mulled this over. “Did he ever apologize to you, about what he said at Thanksgiving?” He wasn’t sure why he was bringing this up now, seeing as it was so long ago…but it seemed worth asking.
“He tried to. I sort of…ignored everything he said,” MJ admitted. “My father was furious. Said that ‘the Osborn kid’ was ‘the best move I ever made’ and I had to ‘damn well see him – and his money – through to the end.'” She shook her head. “I seem to split up with any guy my father approves of, whether he approves of them for good reasons or not. I suppose it wasn’t Harry’s fault…not really…it just wouldn’t have worked…”
This was awkward, it was so, so awkward. Why couldn’t they be together? Why, why, why?
“I…” Peter began, but he trailed off.
“You know…” MJ said. “I kissed Spider-Man once.”
This of course wasn’t news to him- oh no, it was on his mind every single day-but he had to pretend. “Seriously?” he said, widening his eyes. “Why?”
“I told you once that I nearly got mugged and Spider-Man saved me,” she said. “But what I didn’t tell you was that afterwards…I kissed him. In the rain.”
Upside down, Peter added in his head. But out loud he said “Wow. But you didn’t…you didn’t find out who he really was.”
She shook her head. “That must have been why I was taken to the bridge that night.” she said with a sigh. “Because I kissed him. And I thought I loved him. And I suppose he must have loved me…although now I don’t know.”
“And now you…” Why were all conversations so difficult now?
“And now, I guess…” But she trailed off hopelessly. This was far too hard on both of them, and Peter was about to very quickly change the subject when the doorbell rang and saved him the trouble. He opened the door. “Harry! Hey.”
“Hey, Pete. Hi, MJ…” Harry looked at the ground and not at her as he said her name. “Happy birthday, Peter.” He handed over his present. “I like the balloon.”
“MJ brought it,” Peter said. “Come on in…pull up a sofa.”
Harry sat down. “I kinda miss this place,” he said quietly. He looked at MJ properly. “Thanks for coming round on Boxing Day.”
Peter hadn’t known about this. Of course not, he’d been getting shot at the time.
“Well, I’d got you a present and everything.” MJ said. “And I thought…I should have stayed longer, really. You shouldn’t work straight after Christmas, you should be resting…eating turkey…whatever…”
And of course things were still awkward, between all of them. It really wasn’t fair.
Harry looked at Peter.
“Friends now,” he said. “And remaining that way- I guess.”
MJ nodded. “Friends,” she said, without the I guess.
May called them all in for dinner then.
Harry left the apartment first, then May did. Peter and MJ were left alone. And there was so much unspoken that neither of them could say. Eventually, MJ put her arm around him, and then walked to the door.
“Happy birthday,” she said quietly. They exchanged a long, long look.
“It’s better like this,” she said. “With all of us just friends…when I went to see Harry on Boxing Day he said much the same thing. I should have had a proper conversation with him sooner, I really should…maybe this should be a new beginning, Peter. For us all.”
“MJ…” But he had no idea what to say. Words came into his head only to vanish moments later. “MJ…I will always be your friend, okay? No matter what happens. I want you to remember that. Always,.”
She nodded. Peter became aware of the clock on the wall in the kitchen, ticking away. Minutes. Hours. Years. They’d known each other for so long…
“I know,” she said. “Same here.” And then she moved quickly forward and kissed him on the cheek. “See you later,” she said, and she walked away.
Peter closed the door after her. He seemed to spend a lifetime doing so. He returned to the sofa and looked at the present she had given him…the notebook.
Everyone Has A Choice
6. 29th January
Harry didn’t like waking up in the mornings, but then again he didn’t much like sleep, either. He had nightmares. Come to think of it, he’d always done. They’d just gotten worse- much worse.
He went downstairs and put some toast in the toaster. He ate toast every morning- and there was a good reason why, although he wouldn’t admit it to anyone. The only memory of his mother that he’d ever, ever had in his mind was of her standing in the kitchen- they’d had a smaller house at some point, he was certain- and making toast for him. Whenever he smelled toast he thought of her, this woman who he’d never even known.
He went into the living room to eat it. He’d get crumbs everywhere, but the servants would take care of that- that was what he paid them for, after all.
His mother’s painting hung on the wall behind him, facing the mirror. He looked at it every day, whether he knew he was doing so or not. “Morning, Mom,” he said under his breath.
His father hadn’t liked the painting, and Harry knew he kept it around only for it’s practical value. There was a safe behind it, where his father kept any valuable things he might be entrusted with. Occasionally, that meant chemicals- and whenever it was chemicals in there, Harry was forbidden from going near the painting, or into the room at all. When he was only seven years old, he’d cried out loud about it for hours- and eventually, a few days later, he woke up and discovered next to his bed a tiny copy of the painting, small enough for him to carry around with him. He thanked his father for that, many times, but the only answer he got was. “I want you to be careful with that. Keep it in your bedroom. I know how careless you are, you’ll lose it within days.”
He’d never seen his father look at the painting. Maybe there were photographs somewhere, but he’d never seen them.
Rosie loved the view from the apartment. She could quite happily stand there and look out at the city all day, but there was work to do.
Otto came in. His goggles were round his neck and he was grinning like a madman. “Oh, it’s going well, Rosie,” he said to her. “It’s going very well indeed.”
“That’s great, dear, but you ought to eat breakfast, you know.” This was a conversation repeated almost every day, and neither of them ever tired of it. “You can’t save the universe on an empty stomach.”
“As you wish,” he said, and took some cereal from a nearby cupboard. “You seem preoccupied, dear. Are you thinking of how best to join me in the saving-the-world scheme?”
She smiled. “You’re doing well on your own, and I’m no scientist. I was thinking about college.”
“The day we met?”
“That, and a few other things. Otto…do you remember a girl called Emily, who we both had a passing acquaintance with? I can’t remember her last name-”
Otto thought. “Did she have brown hair?”
“I think so, yes.”
He shook his head. “I know she married -people were talking about it for ages. How lucky she was and all that. Didn’t she used to work in a cafeteria before, or something?”
“Yeah…that would be her then…I remember, she used to make a great meal of beans on toast, I’d eat there a lot while working- why’d you ask, though, Rosie?”
“I believe she’s related to Harry- the young man you had a meeting with.”
“Norman Osborn’s son?” He frowned. “It could have been Osborn she married, now I think about it- didn’t she die? Of a illness?”
“Yes, she did.”
Otto clearly couldn’t think of anything really to say to that. “It’s a pity. Anyway, Rosie, I must be going- I’ll see you later.”
“I’ll come to the lab at some point and give you a hand,” she said. Otto had finished his breakfast, and came over to give her a kiss. “I’ll bring you lunch, as well.”
“That would be wonderful,” he said. “I’ll see you later.”
Harry had invited Peter to a restaurant for dinner. Peter had decided that just for once, he would be early for an appointment, and he managed it. It took work, of course- running all the way to school, for one thing- but he’d made it.
Harry turned up five minutes later. He was walking, instead of being driven. This struck Peter as odd, and Harry probably noticed, because he said. “I told my driver I’d walk today. I mean, it’s a nice day and everything,”
“Of course,” Peter said. “I’m hungry. Let’s eat.”
The restaurant was a nice one- it wasn’t as high-class as some of the places Harry had taken him to, but the food was good, and Harry seemed to be cheering up…maybe he was starting to get over his father’s death, maybe he was going to survive this- but then the conversation, after only a few minutes, went to Spider-Man, as Peter perhaps secretly knew it would.
“I’ve been reading all the papers,” Harry said. “Seems like he’s enjoying himself- zipping about the place like…like…” But he coudn’t think of anything. “It doesn’t make any sense,” he muttered. “He keeps saving people’s lives…”
Peter made a noise which was both neutral and hopeful. Harry didn’t pay much attention to that.
“Don’t you know anything about him?” Harry asked. “Any tiny little detail? Does he have a girlfriend, or a boyfriend, or a best friend? Someone else who knows where he is?”
Peter felt like he was jumping down a chasm. “I think what he does makes relationships like that….very difficult,” he managed to say. “I think I’m his only friend- and I’m not much of one, to him. Just his photographer.”
Harry just nodded slowly.
“He’s not a bad guy, Harry,” Peter went on. “I know he isn’t…”
“I saw him,” Harry said, not even paying attention to him anymore. “I saw him standing there…I should have seen what he looked like, then I might not be in this mess…he was white, I’m sure of that, and almost definately male, but…” He shrugged helplessly. “That’s it.”
Peter said nothing.
“I should have seen him…” Harry said again. “He’s a murderer…what if he kills more people? It’ll be partly my fault, because I wouldn’t have done anything!” Peter’s heart went out to him, at this.
“I don’t think he will kill anyone else,” he said, but very quietly. Then he decided to say something else- and he mentally steeled himself for Harry’s reaction. “What if…he didn’t kill your dad? What if…well, supposing it was something else? Supposing someone else killed him, or he…or he killed…himself, and Spider-Man was just returning his body, not knowing anything about it…”
Harry stared at him like he was just seeing him for the first time. Peter didn’t dare look at his eyes- he knew there’d be horror and anger in them. When Harry spoke, it was in a low voice. “My father would not kill himself.”
“I know, Harry,” Peter said gently. “But you…ought to consider all the possibilities…”
“He wouldn’t have,” Harry repeated furiously. “Damn it, Peter. You know he wouldn’t.”
Peter could only nod.
Harry sighed and ran his hand through his hair. “Anyway…I was going to ask you, before we got sidetracked…d’ya want to move in with me?”
Peter hadn’t expected that. He had always figured that Harry was so frustrated with him he wouldn’t want to share a house. He figured Harry wouldn’t do anything for him until he gave him at least a little information on Spider-Man…
“Er..” Peter said.
“I know you’re not staying in the apartment,” Harry went on, “And I…well, I wouldn’t mind some company.”
True…Peter himself would hate to be all alone in that big house, with nothing but masks and echoes around him. He wouldn’t want to do it, even if Harry was there. Wait…especially if Harry was there. Conversations like these every day…he wouldn’t be able to handle it.
And that was it, really.
“Er…I’m sorry, Harry, but…no thank you.” He sought around for a plausible excuse. “I…well, I want to try and make it on my own, you know? I appreciate it, but…no thanks.”
Harry clearly didn’t buy it. “Okay…” he said slowly. “Okay…if that’s what you want…” He leaned back in his chair, as if trying to put distance between them. Peter figured he knew the real reason. He had to.
Well, not the real real reason, but…oh, it was getting too complicated for him.
As soon as he got home, Peter collapsed on the bed. He had plans for the night: firstly; phone MJ, then sleep for about a hour, then go out and apprehend jewel thieves or muggers or whoever oughtn’t to be on the streets, then come back and sleep for a few more hours, then finish his homework.
He wasn’t sure if it would work. He’d try, though. He reached for the phone, dialled the number he had keep in his memory for years…and it rang and rang. No-one picked up. He heard her voice- “Sing your song at the beep!” and so after the beep started talking.
“Hey, MJ. It’s me. Peter. Er, I hope you’re okay. I was just…wondering how things were going. I hope you’re okay…” Damn, said it twice… “Phone me back, okay? Then we can talk properly. I’ll try and come to see you sometime, okay? Bye..” He hung up. He remembered the last time he’d left a message on her machine. Maybe he should forget about the sleep for now, and go over to her house, see if she was okay…
No, she’s fine, you nutcase, she’s just out somewhere enjoying her life, you have no reason to be worried-
But before he knew it, he was Spider-Man again, heading for her house.
He reached their street in only a few minutes. He stopped in the branches of a tree, and looked out over the two houses- her house and his aunt’s house. Two people vitally important to him, in one place…it worried him, a lot…
There she was! She was walking towards her house, walking quickly, her head down….but then she looked up and saw him. She stopped dead in her tracks.
Utter fear shot through Peter. He couldn’t move and he didn’t know what to do. She walked towards him, smiling, and he ought to run, he ought to-
“Hello,” she said, and walked towards him. “Come down! I want to talk to you.”
Well, there was no chance of escape now. He was careful to disguise his voice. “No thank you, Miss Watson- if you don’t mind, I’ll stay here.”
“Well, suit yourself,” she said. “I- I’m sorry that I don’t know your name.”
Oh MJ, you do. “I got your name from the paper,” he said. “It’s a pretty name.”
“Thank you. Thank you for many, many things.” she said. “You saved my life three times. There will always be a place in my heart for you, remember that.”
“Okay,” he said, nearly choking on his false voice.
“Please come down,” she said. “I can barely see you, up there.”
“No, I can’t,” he answered. “I guess…you’re going to move on with your life now, huh?”
“I am,” she said quietly. “I’m in love with someone else. Or…” She sighed. “Or I should be, you know?”
“Are you or aren’t you?” he asked, and keeping his voice lighthearted was one of the hardest things he’d ever done.
“I…am,” she said. “Goodbye, then. I’ll never forget you.”
“Same here,” he said. She looked hesitant, as if there were many more things she wanted to say…but then she walked away, looking back only once.
Peter stayed where he was and watched her enter her house. He felt like crying.
At least you haven’t really lost her…
Yes, but how long until you do?