Faith In Humanity -Aftermath, part 2

Title: Faith In Humanity
Author: sarah531
Rating: PG13 bordering on R
Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse
Author’s Notes: A while back I attempted a Spider-Man movieverse fanfic called Everyone Has A Choice, and I never finished it. This is that fic mashed down and rebuilt. It has something bordering on a plot now. :p
Summary: After the Queensboro Bridge incident, everyone involved struggles through the aftermath. Ursula Ditkovich was not involved, but she struggles through the aftermath nonetheless. And an unhappy middle-aged woman, after taking a job at the Osborn manor, suddenly finds herself an unwilling participant in the battle for a young man’s soul.

Prologue
Aftermath part 1

FAITH IN HUMANITY
Aftermath, part 2

5th December 2002:

It was night- twenty past ten in the evening- when her daughter walked in, head hung. Madeline Watson breathed a deep sigh of relief, turned off the television and went to her, unsure whether to be furious or not.

“Where have you been?” she demanded.

MJ said nothing. Her eyes were red and there were thin mascara streaks down her face.

“Mary, what’s happened?”

“I was at a funeral, Mom, I cried.” MJ said darkly. She crossed the hall and went to the stairs. Madeline followed her, annoyed now.

“Why are you back so late? It’s after dark!”

“I just wandered downtown a bit,” she said numbly.

“Why? MJ, what’s the matter?”

“I…” she began, and then she shook her head. “Nothing, Mom. Just things.”

“What things? What were you doing downtown?”

“I don’t know. Just thinking, walking…looking for Spider-Man.” She rubbed her face. “Mom…I’m going to bed, alright? Sorry I made you worry.”

She went upstairs, head hung. Madeline watched, a dull fear taking hold of her. Maybe she should get therapy for her daughter- therapy, a doctor, anything. She’d nearly died. Oh Christ, she’d nearly died. And now she was wandering the streets looking for her saviour.

******

Light Up Broadway! magazine- Mary Jane Watson interview, November 2003:

Interviewer: So, is there a man in your life?
Watson: Yes, there is. [laughs] There’s almost always been a man in my life, really. But if it’s alright, I’d rather not discuss my personal life. There’s still…too many awkward things to work out, you know? So I tend to keep things to myself. I don’t want to hurt anyone.

******

19th December 2002:

It was snowing outside. The window, decorated with a MERRY CHRISTMAS banner and a wreath, was covered in the stuff. It looked like a Christmas card; Peter was almost tempted to take a picture.

He wished he could sit back and just appreciate the fact that New York City was covered in snow, giving it a softness not generally associated with it, but of course he couldn’t. He had a job to do.

It wasn’t always like this. The first Christmas after MJ’s family had moved in next door, when his uncle was still alive and his family still whole, it had snowed then. He’d run into the back yard to make a snowman, and MJ had done likewise, and they’d had a snowman-building contest. Even MJ’s father had been around and sober and enjoying himself on that day.

Yeah. It was a long time ago.

He plucked his Spider-Man outfit from the wardrobe and was about to put it on when the phone rang. It made him jump. He answered it.

“Hello?”

“Peter?” It was Harry.

“Hey, Harry.”

There was a rustling sound on the other end, and Peter couldn’t help but wonder if he was moving piles of newspaper clippings out of the way. “I know you’re almost definitely going to be busy, but I was wondering…do you want to come over to my house on Christmas Day?”

His house. Harry still had half of his pocessions at the apartment, but in the past few weeks he had all but moved out. Peter couldn’t fathom why. Maybe he wanted to keep company with his father’s ghost. “I’m sorry, Harry. I really am. But I’m going to my aunt’s house for Christmas.”

“Oh.” Peter knew Harry had phoned expecting to be disappointed.

“I could come on Christmas Eve,” he offered.

“Okay. You do that…thanks.”

“S’alright.”

He hung up the phone, got changed and jumped out of the window.

*****

Harry put the phone down and went back to the piles of newspapers. He had a sharp pair of scissors clutched in his hand…anything about Spider-Man he cut out and put in a drawer. There was a surprising amount of articles…well, he’d heard that the editor of the Bugle had some sort of grudge against him. And hell, he wasn’t the only one.

He found a report about the attack at the World Unity Festival. He’d been there for that one…but he’d been lying on the ground knocked out for a good percentage of it. He wasn’t sure exactly what he missed, except for Spider-Man saving Mary Jane…

Why had he done that, anyway? Was it because she was Harry’s girlfriend, or had been back then? That had to be it. The wallcrawler had been stalking him since day one.

He began to read the report. It began by listing the people who had died in the explosion…okay, the explosion had been the Goblin’s fault, hadn’t it? Something about a bomb. Two costumed murderers in one city…

Was the Goblin dead? There hadn’t been any sort of offical confirmation, and there probably would never be, but there were always rumors…people said they’d seen him in alleyways, or on roofs, and there were those who claimed he’d walked into their shops and stolen things…

What strange world were they all living in?

He kept on reading. “No-one knows where he came from, or what he wanted. This mysterious creature seemed to be neither monster nor man…

Maybe the answers to all his questions were staring him in the face, and he couldn’t see them.

He starting cutting things out.

*****

Christmas Eve, 2002:

Peter awoke early…he always did…and sat on the bed for a few minutes. The apartment was cold. It seemed more like a stranger’s home now, to be honest.

He put some toast on the toaster and got changed. The one good thing about Harry not living with him anymore (okay, there were quite a few good things about not having Harry living with him anymore, namely that he wouldn’t have to listen to his vows of revenge…or guiltily listen to him crying in the night) was that he could put his costume on underneath his clothes without the fear that he’d forgotten to lock the door and Harry, or even someone else, would come barging in and see him.

He pulled his jeans and t-shirt on over the costume, and attempted to plan his day. He knew he had to go and see Harry, he’d even picked out a Christmas present for him ahead of time, but in the morning at least he ought to patrol the streets, watch for anything happening…prevent it, no matter how much of the day it took up…

He gave up soon enough. He couldn’t plan his day.

The toast popped out of the toaster completely and utterly burnt. Peter could only sigh. He’d just go without breakfast today.

*****

The Daily Bugle, December 23rd 2002:

Spider-Man has lain low since the incident last month- after much discussion, this newspaper has decided to put out a call to all citizens. If you see the insect, CALL THE POLICE- this is the only way, it seems, that they will DO SOMETHING- when their lines are jammed with calls. Show them that New York City will not take this lying down- or do we want another incident where innocent lives are at risk?

*****

Christmas Eve, 2002:

Peter had been in two minds about wearing his costume underneath his regular clothes to go to Harry’s house. On the one hand, if Harry got even the tiniest hint that Peter was Spider-Man the consequences would be disasterous, but on the other hand, he was reasonably sure Harry wasn’t going to try and undress him. Eventually, he put on his costume…he had a funny feeling that whatever choice he’d made, he’d have regretted it later. As it was, nothing happened on his way to Harry’s house that required a costume change.

Harry’s house-formerly Norman’s house- made him feel inexplicably sad when he saw it. It was the kind of house that looked incredible in storms or hurricanes, but just looked just plainly desolate in the snow. It was the kind of house that always had ghosts in it, whether the ghosts were noticed or not.

He wished, for about five seconds, that Harry would move back in with him.

He knocked on the front door and it was Harry, as opposed to a servant, who opened it.

“Hey, Pete,” he said in a surprisingly warm tone. “I knew it’d be you.”

“Hi, Harry,” Peter said. “Merry Christmas,”

“It’s not Christmas yet.”

“Well,” Peter said, “It’s close enough.” He followed his best friend inside. “I got you a present.”

“Really?” Harry seemed surprised; maybe he’d been thinking Peter would forget. “I got you something, too. I was thinking we should have dinner first, though-”

“You made dinner?”

“Not quite,” Harry grinned sheepishly. “I had it made for me. But everything else she’s made tastes pretty good.”

“She?”

“New housekeeper,” Harry collapsed on a sofa. “So, how are things?”

“Oh…they’re okay. Still need a proper job.”

“Why, what are you doing now?”

Peter shrugged. “Just selling photos to the paper. You know…I’ve been doing it for a while. They don’t pay much.”

“Photos of Spider-Man, like you were doing before?”

“Erm…”

Harry was about to continue this line of conversation -Peter knew he was- but suddenly it was interupted. There was a loud noise…a sort of cracking, grinding sound…which came from the mirror. Yet the mirror remained as it had been before, not cracked, not shattered…and Peter thought the word Ghosts.

Maybe a specific ghost.

“I hear that noise a lot,” Harry said quietly. “It’s just the house, doing stuff…it sounds creepy at night, though.”

“Why don’t you move out?” Peter asked. “I mean…move back in with me?”

Harry shook his head. “Thanks, but…no. I can run Oscorp a lot better from here than from an attic.”

“Oh yeah, Oscorp…how’s that going?”

For the first time a dark look spread over Harry’s face. “I’ve been fighting to get any control of it at all. Now I know what my father went through. It wasn’t easy.”

Peter just waited.

“I should have realised…I should have listened.”

“Harry, you’ve got to stop beating youself up over…well, over everything.”

“But…”

“No buts.”

Harry actually smiled at him. “Shall we have dinner now?”

“Okay.”

*****

The food was indeed very good. Peter was almost envious about getting stuck with burnt toast while Harry had this everyday. Then again, Harry also had his grief to deal with, and Peter didn’t – at least, not such a recent grief.

Dinner itself -sitting and eating with Harry- was the first truely enjoyable experience Peter had had for days, if not weeks. Harry determinedly didn’t talk about whatever his feelings were surrounding Spider-Man and his father, and Peter was grateful- he could almost pretend Harry’s talk of revenge hadn’t happened. They discussed whatever happy memories they could find- not too many of them involved high school, unsurprisingly.

Proceedings then came to an adrupt halt.

“But I have to find Spider-Man,” Harry said, as their conversation about the futures both thought they were going to have veered off course. “I have to do that, and I have to run Oscorp- that’s all I’m focused on at the moment.”

Peter realised with some alarm that Harry’s speech sounded slightly slurred, and he’d certainly been drinking alcohol…Peter hadn’t kept track of how much. Maybe he should have.

“Why do you have to?” he asked.

Harry shrugged listlessly, and pushed his plate away. “I’m not hungry anymore,” he muttered. “D’ya want to go outside?”

Peter hadn’t finished, but he nodded anyway. He followed Harry outside onto the balcony. Night had fallen- he always thought New York looked best at night. Harry leaned against the railings in a depressed sort of way.

“I wish he was here right now,” he said. When Peter didn’t say anything, he gave him a rather sharp look and said, “Don’t you?”

“I wish he was here for your sake,” Peter said carefully.

Harry scowled. “He loved you. You owe him more than that. Wait.” He held up a hand as Peter began to speak. “I’m going to go and get another drink.” He went back into the house before Peter could stop him, and returned with a large glass of alcohol.

“You know, you’ve drunk an awful lot-”

Harry ignored this. “Like I was saying…oh, it doesn’t matter. He’s dead, we’re not, we didn’t choose this-do you want a drink, by the way?”

“No thanks.”

“D’ya want to sit down, then…here’s the seats…” He dragged two metal garden chairs over to where Peter was, and sat down in one himself. Peter took the other one.

“It doesn’t matter,” Harry said, as if there’d never been a break in the conversation. He took a long drink of alcohol…the most Peter had ever seen anyone drink in one go…and then suddenly said, very glumly, “Have you ever felt like you had nothing in the world left to lose?”

Yes, and I was wrong, Harry. And trying to destroy yourself just won’t work. Stop doing it. He didn’t get to say that, though. Harry looked straight at him. “Except…there’s you. And MJ. I haven’t lost you yet.”

Yet, Peter thought. Oh God, it’s just not fair. You lost me, Harry, before you even thought you might.

It was then that Harry began to cry. Peter hadn’t expected it. It wasn’t just a few tears, either- it was real, hysterical, gutwrenching crying. Peter had absolutely no idea what to do- he’d never cried like this, and he’d seen people cry like this less often then he thought most people had. Eventually, and rather awkwardly, he put his arm around Harry and let him rest his head on his shoulder. Harry kept crying without even looking at him, and Peter realised he wasn’t just crying for his father, he was crying for everything…the mother who he didn’t really remember; all the times his father ignored him or turned down innocent requests he made; all the times he’d been pushed around or mocked at school; the fact- oh God– that he would never know the identity of the person who killed his father. All those and probably more.

Eventually Harry stopped, lifted his arm and drew it across his face. “Sorry,” he whispered.

“Harry, it’s okay.”

“My father would think that was showing weakness,” Harry said gloomily. Peter didn’t answer that, he had known Norman Osborn better than his own son had- although he didn’t want to think about it- and it was true, he would have said that. Despite knowing it wouldn’t help….how could it?…he patted Harry’s shoulder. Harry managed to smile and then stood up.

“I won’t do that again,” he said. “He’s dead, and he’s not coming back.”

Of course, that was one of the worst things Peter could think of…the Green Goblin coming back…

“Thank you, Peter,” Harry said quietly. Then he glanced at the expensive watch on his wrist. “There’s only five hours til midnight…are you going to stay here til then?”

“It’s New Year’s Day you’re meant to do that,” Peter said, glad for a change of subject. “I would like to, Harry, but I need to be home before midnight…I’ve always got schoolwork, y’know?”

“Okay,” Harry said. He looked so horrendously disappointed that Peter looked away from him and stared at the cityscape instead. Harry finished the last of his drink. “Before you go,” he said, “I’ll give you your Christmas present.” He walked back into the house, Peter following him, and took an oddly-shaped package from a drawer. “Here.”

“Thanks,” Peter said. “Here’s yours.” He took it from his pocket. “It’s small, but…”

“Open yours first.”

Peter began to unwrap it. Harry had clearly wrapped it himself…Peter could work that out because he hadn’t done it especially well. It felt like it was clothing of some sort…something fluffy and green dropped into his hands.

“It’s a sweater. You always look like you’re a bit cold,” Harry said, sounding brighter now. “It’s one of the latest fashions.”

Grateful though he was, Peter couldn’t help but wish Harry hadn’t picked that exact shade of green. “Thanks. I’ll wear it right now…” He pulled it on over his shirt. It wasn’t as itchy as he’d thought it might be. “Now, you open your present.”

Harry opened it. “It’s…a video game.”

“Do you like it?” Peter asked. “Remember when we used to play games in the library? At school?”

“Yeah…well, thanks, Pete,” Harry said. “I’m just not sure I’ll have time for games, what with…everything.”

“Give it a try.” Peter said. There was a not-quite-awkward silence, then Harry said. “I guess you’re going home now.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No…I know how it is.” Peter’s heart jumped into his mouth, but then Harry said, “You have schoolwork.”

They went to the door. As they did they passed the mirror, and Peter couldn’t help but feel slightly sick- there was definately something going on with that mirror. He couldn’t exactly tell that to Harry, though.

When they opened the door, it was raining slightly. The snow had pretty much all been washed away.

“I could give you money for a taxi,” Harry offered, as if he knew without having to think about it that Peter was pretty much penniless.

“No. It’s okay. Walking is good for me,” Peter assured him. “I’ll see you…around, right?”

“Right.”

They looked at each other, then Peter turned to go.

“Peter,” Harry said.

He turned around again. “Yeah?”

“What I did back there…”

“Look, I’d have been surprised if you hadn’t cried by now, alright?”

“I drank too much.”

That was hard to disagree with. “You’re going through a bad time.” Oh God, that was stupid. And obvious.

“I know. Just…I’m sorry. And I’m sorry for…whatever it was I said about you and my dad.”

“I knew you didn’t mean it.”

The rain intensified all of a sudden, as if telling them to hurry up. “You sure you don’t want a taxi?” Harry asked, and when Peter shook his head he just said, “Thanks, Peter. I meant what I said last month…you are family to me.” And then he closed the door.

Peter paused in the rain for a second- I’m sorry too, I’m so very sorry– and then he started to walk. He walked faster and faster, trying to beat the rain somehow…and then he dodged down an alleyway and got changed, putting his new green sweater underneath a dustbin lid in order to keep it dry.