Faith In Humanity -Aftermath, part 5

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
Aftermath part 2
Aftermath part 3
Aftermath part 4

FAITH IN HUMANITY
Aftermath, part five

29th January 2003:

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 really 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.

*****

30th January 2003:

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 college, 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. 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.

*****

An email, 30th January 2003:

<j_jameson@dailybugle.com> to <r_robertson@dailybugle.com>

I’VE BEEN THINKING. THAT REDHEAD CHICK THROWN OFF THE BRIDGE, IT’S HIGH TIME SHE STOPPED HIDING AWAY. GET HOLD OF HER. EMAIL THAT MAN WHO SENT IN THAT PHOTOGRAPH, IT’S PRETTY OBVIOUS HE’S HER FATHER. MAKE SURE SHE AGREES TO LET US USE HER DETAILS- NAME, AGE, ADDRESS, BRA SIZE IF POSSIBLE. GET HER TO GIVE AN INTERVIEW. WE NEED TO FIND OUT WHAT HER CONNECTION TO SPIDERMAN IS.

*****

30th January 2003:

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?

******

An email, 31st January 2003:

<phil_t_watson@hotmail.com> to <r_robertson@dailybugle.com>

Tell your boss to leave my daughter alone. Kid’s been through a hell of a lot and the last thing she needs is a bunch of hacks bothering her for a story. You ever consider she might not want to live it all over again? It’s done, she’s put it behind her. Stick it up your ass.

******

30th January 2003:

MJ stood at her window, thinking. Something was bugging her, but she couldn’t quite put her finger on it.

I’m sorry that I don’t know your name-

The words ‘the victim’ were still flickering in her mind…

I got your name from the paper-

Ah.

Her name had never been in the papers.