Faith In Humanity- Cinderella, part 1

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
Aftermath part 5
Aftermath part 6
Emily part 1
Emily part 2
Emily part 3
Emily part 4
Emily part 5
Emily part 6
Emily part 7

FAITH IN HUMANITY
Cinderella, part one

19th July 1983:

Rosie Octavius sat in the hospital waiting room, waiting for her husband to pick her up. It was white, brightly lit, sterile and cold, with no other human within reaching distance. She had never wanted to cry more in her entire life.

I’m so sorry, Mrs Octavius, but the facts must be made clear: giving birth to a child will kill you.

It was dark outside. It was midnight, after all. Rose stared out of the window, watching for a car, and then turned her attention back to the room. Otto probably had a good few more miles to drive. He wouldn’t show up for a while yet.

She picked up a magazine from a coffee table, and used it to hide her face. She was certain she would soon burst into tears in the waiting room, and she wasn’t sure what she would hate more: everybody noticing or nobody noticing.

A name caught her eye. She had just been scanning the magazine, taking nothing in at all, but at the sight of that name, her memory had given a jolt. She stared, trying to locate a time and place in her mind. She suceeded.

Emily Osborn, formerly Emily David. Rosie had gone to school with her. Been in the drama club with her, even. They hadn’t been friends, only the vaguest of acquaintances- the last time Rosie had spoken to her, she had been engaged, apparently to somebody incredibly rich, who had bought her a diamond ring. Rosie thought she could remember that ring, somewhere in the back of her mind, and Emily’s half-cheerful, half-wary expression.

And now she was dead. She’d left behind her husband and a two-year-old son.

It was odd and unpleasant reading about the death of somebody she had known, but the thought of the two-year-old son upset her the most. Poor kid would never even remember his mother. For one split second, her sorrow over that eclipsed the sorrow she felt for herself.

She put the magazine down. She remained on her seat, her destroyed plans for her future still flashing through her brain, until her husband came to take her home. She sat in the passenger seat, oblivious to his attempts to comfort her.

“Rosie,” Otto said gently. “It’ll be fine. We’ll get through this.”

“Yeah,” Rosie said. Somehow, his trying to cheer her up was making things worse. “It’s just…oh god…I really hoped…”

“I know.”

Rosie was not religious: she hadn’t been to church for years. And yet as the car rumbled on, she thought about the things she had learned as a child, and half prayed and half cursed, if such a thing was even possible.

Otto passed her a tissue. “It’ll be alright, Rosie,” he whispered.

“I know,” she said wretchedly. “I know it will be. It’s just…Otto…this sounds so horrible, but…I’ve got no faith in God, anymore.”

*****

31st December 1971:

Around seven o’ clock on the last day of 1971, Norman Osborn was dragged to the theatre by his elderly father, who had been demanding for weeks that his son learn to behave in a social manner. The play was Cinderella, it was performed by students, and it was largely terrible. The only good thing about it was the girl playing Cinderella herself: she seemed by far the youngest in the cast, but she was incredibly pretty, and outacting her peers by a mile. By the time the second act started, she was the only thing Norman was watching at all.

His father poked him in the shoulder.

“You’re watching that girl,” he said. “When this is over, go and talk to her.”

“Of course I’m watching her, she’s the lead actress.”

“You go backstage and find her afterwards. Ask her out to dinner.”

Norman wanted to refuse, but after a few seconds he figured, why not? The girl was pretty, after all, and if he didn’t like her he would never have to see her again afterwards. “Alright,” he said. And after the play finished, to thin applause, he left the theatre and went backstage. No-one stopped him, they knew who he was.

He saw the girl by a mirror, taking off her makeup, and he approached her.

“Hi,” he said.

“Hi,” she answered. She gave him only the vaguest of glances; she didn’t seem particularly happy.

“You were really good on stage,” Norman said confidently. “I thought you were the best thing in the play.”

“I was terrible,” she answered flatly. She looked up at him. “Do I know you?”

“You might have seen me in the papers. My family gets mentioned there often.”

A tiny little smile played on the girl’s face, although Norman couldn’t tell if it was amused or contemptious. “You all criminals?”

“No,” Norman answered, somehow not feeling annoyed with her. “We’re rich.”

“That’s nice,” she answered, seemingly not particularly impressed.

“I came to ask you out to dinner,” Norman added.

She stared at him, and dropped the tissue she was holding. “Oh,” she said. She looked him up and down. “Well. Alright. Do you even know my name?”

“No.”

“Then you didn’t read the program you got,” she answered effortlessly. She looked at herself in the mirror, and then seemed to make a decision- she stood up and offered her hand. “Emily David, actress.”

“Norman Osborn, scientist,” Norman answered in kind, shaking her hand. “By the way, apart from you, the play was awful. You need a better writer.”

“Thanks,” she said dryily. “How do you know I wasn’t the writer?”

“A wild guess.”

“You’re lucky you guessed right. Although I am a writer as well, you know.” She checked her reflection in the mirror.

“They should have let you write this play.”

“Maybe, but they didn’t.” She started clearing things off her dressing table and into her bag. “So. Where and when do you intend to take me for dinner?”

“I haven’t decided yet. Give me your phone number, and I’ll phone and tell you.”

She fished a piece of paper from her bag, wrote her number on it, folded it neatly and handed it to him. “It better be somewhere nice.”

“It will be.”

Neither of them could think of anything else to say. They looked at each other, and Norman realised to his surprise that he was almost nervous- not a feeling he usually experienced when asking a girl out.

“Well,” he said. “See you soon.”

*****

25th February 2003:

Around midday on the 25th of February it rained harder than it had all year, and John Jameson- son of Jonah- left his broken-down car and hurried to the nearest cafe. He grabbed a seat, picked up a menu, and glanced around. It was not a pleasant place, and not the place anyone would expect to find the astronaut son of a nationally-reowned newspaper editor. It was packed with truckers, the windows were gungy, and his table was smeared with tomato sauce. And he was beginning to attract aggressive stares: this was not his kind of place.

He ordered a cup of coffee, and stared out of the window as the rain began to cease. He hoped the repair truck wouldn’t be too long in coming: he didn’t want to hang around. And the coffee was disgusting.

Turning away from the window, he noticed that one of the truckers was still staring at him- and he also noticed that an incredibly pretty redhead was standing at the trucker’s table, attempting to take his order. He found he couldn’t help looking at her: she looked exhausted. Beautful but exhausted. What was a girl like that doing in such a thoroughly awful job?

As she walked away the trucker pinched her backside, roared with laughter, and then promptly continued to stare at John. John came tremendously close to leaving his table, going to his, and asking what his problem was- but he wasn’t the confrontional sort, and, ashamed though he was to admit it, the trucker was a hell of a lot bigger than him.

The pretty waitress came out again, carrying a plate of spaghetti and looking irritated. John made an attempt to catch her eye, but it didn’t work. She marched past the trucker’s table, the trucker pinched her again- and then she snapped. She whirled round, emptied the plate of spaghetti into his lap, and flung the plate to the table.

The trucker yelped, the cafe went silent, and John had to struggle to hold back laughter. The waitress remained rooted where she was, fury still on her face, and a small fat man came bursting out of the kitchen doors, a dirty spatula in his hand, heading straight for her.

“You did that on purpose!” he yelled.

“It slipped,” the waitress said, in a deadpan voice which made John suddenly fall utterly in love with her.

“You apologize to the man right now,” the fat man shrieked, his mouth only a few inches from her nose. “Do it! Or you’re outta here.”

“Don’t do it,” said a voice John only half-recognized as his own. He couldn’t take his eyes off the girl now. “Don’t apologize. He had it coming.” He frantically searched for something else to say. “If you say you’re sorry when you’re really not, you’ll only regret it,” was the best he could come up with.

The girl stared at him.

“How’d you like a big piece of regret?” the trucker slurred. “This ain’t your business.”

John’s mind went blank for a second, and then he remembered a trick his father had shown him once. A way of avoiding trouble, his father had said, assuming you can lie convincingly. His father, being a newspaperman, could lie with the best of them, but John himself wasn’t so good.

Neverless, he slid his pilot’s license from his pocket. “Threatening an agent of the FBI is a federal offence, my friend,” he said. He hoped he sounded confident: in truth he probably sounded like a moron. Still, worth a try.

But the trucker stepped back. “Yeahwellwhatever,” he mumbled, making three words into one. “Forget the apology.”

The girl snapped back into action. “And you can forget this, too.” She pulled off her apron, threw it to the floor, and kicked it for good measure. “Take this job and shove it, Enrique.” She marched to the door without a backward glance, despite her boss shouting furiously after her, and vanished from view.

John wasn’t about to let such an opportunity get away. He raced out of the door, slamming it behind him, and within seconds had caught up with her.

Say hi! Go on, say hi and ask her out.

“You did the right thing,” he somehow said instead. It came out in a deep and gravelly tone and made him sound like Yoda.

“Yeah, well, we’ll see how right it is when I don’t have any money for the rent,” the girl said, talking fast and crossly. “Nice of you to jump in, though.” She slowed down. “What were you doing in there? You’re a lot classier than the guys we usually get.”

John could see the tow truck making it’s way down the road. “Actually, I was just killing time waiting for the Auto Club. My car battery died.” He grinned at her, suddenly very nervous. “I can give you a lift as soon as the car’s up and running…”

“That’d be great, actually,” she said. She suddenly seemed a little shy as well. “So…being a Fed must pay pretty well, if you can afford such a nice car…”

John felt ridiciously proud of himself all of a sudden. “Oh lord, no, I’m not a Fed. I just asked him if he knew threatening a FBI agent was a federal offence. I never said I was one.”

The girl gaped at him, and then burst into lovely clear laughter. “Then what did you flash at him?” she asked.

“My pilot’s license.”

“You’re a pilot?”

“Occasionally. Actually,” John said, trying not to sound pompous, “I’m an astronaut.”

“Wow,” the girl said, seemingly extremely impressed. “That’s even cooler than being a Fed.”

“I’ve always thought so,” John said, feeling suddenly on top of the world. He held out a hand. “John Jameson.”

“Mary Jane Watson,” she said, and they shook hands.

*******

26th February 2003:

Harry was standing on the balcony, out in the rain. His birthday present from Peter had finally come in the mail: a small miniture globe which lit up if you pushed the top down. It was pretty but utterly useless, and he’d thrown it in a drawer.

He wandered back inside again, past the mirror and his mother’s picture, to his father’s desk. He picked up the answering machine: he had recently developed an unhealthy obsession with it. He added this to his ever-growing list of unhealthy obsessions, and started playing the messages again.

Hey, Harry. Um. Sorry I wasn’t at the party. Um. I am really sorry…I was sick, I could hardly get out of bed even though I really wanted to. I really wanted to come, I swear-“

He turned it off again. He was fairly sure Peter hadn’t really wanted to come. Heck, even afterwards he hadn’t properly heard from him since then.

He put the answering machine away and went to lie on the sofa, even though he had work to do. Christine wasn’t around, and he figured no-one else was either. He slept for about five minutes, then he got up, wandered to his bedroom, and as if moving automatically, crawled under the bed and lifted up the third floorboard from the wall. The one bit of shoddy workmanship in the whole house, and the one bit of the house that he actually felt was in any way his.

Inside was a dark green notebook, some pens and a chewed pencil- and inside the notebook was some writings, which he had never ever showed to anybody. He knew most of it was extremely bad- he had failed English twice after all- but it was all his, all his own work, and that was all that mattered.

He thought he might write a play. He’d written plays before- plays, poetry, scripts, the lot. He liked to mess around with words- he was sure his father wouldn’t have approved, but if his father could mess about with dangerous chemicals and weaponry, then Harry could mess about with words. At least, that was what he had thought once. Things were somewhat different now.

He started writing randomly, but it wasn’t working. He looked at the useless scrawls across the page, gave up, and put the book back where he had found it.

Once upon a time, he had written on the page, there was a woman, and she had just done something terrible.

He would never pick the book up again.

*****

The Daily Bugle, 25th February 2003:

THE HUMAN COST

Behind the headlines there are real people. It is something we so often forget. In the terrible chaos last year involving Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, the innocents caught up in the disaster were almost forgotten. Of the fifteen young children in the cable car on 29th November 2002, ten of them are now undergoing counselling. The young woman taken hostage has dropped out of the public eye entirely- clearly a sign that her near-death experience left her unwilling to interact with the outside world. And after that- what about the only child of Spider-Man’s most high-profile victim, Norman Osborn? To this day he can express nothing but grief and anger whenever interviewed, and sources at Oscorp report that he drinks a great deal. And why shouldn’t he? His mother, Emily Osborn, died when he was two years old, and after that, along came a spider…

When will the people of New York wake up to all this?

*****

29th February 2003:

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. There was something in the newspaper the other day that jolted my memory. 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?”

“You’re right!”

“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.”

*****

1st March 2003:

Every time John walked MJ to her house to see her parents after one of their informal dates, she had to go past Peter’s house. It was wearing on her. Even though she knew he had his own apartment and wasn’t likely to be in there, she kept almost expecting him to run out and demand to know exactly what John was doing with her, didn’t he know she was in love with him

How utterly, utterly stupid, she thought wearily. He’d never act like that in a million years. Not Peter.

It would go more like this: he’d come walking down the street towards them, and she’d recognize him from a distance. He’d walk right up to her, smiling, he’d say “Hi, Mary Jane,” and then look questionably at John, and she’d say, “Hi, Peter, this is John, he’s my…”

And she could think of nothing else.

“I’ve been thinking,” John said.

She smiled. It was too close to being a fake smile for her comfort.

“About what?”

He took a deep breath. “I like you as a friend. I like you very much. I think you’re one of the most incredible people I’ve ever met, and I haven’t even known you that long, a few weeks…you’re that good…”

She grinned, and meant it this time. “Ah, I see…you want something, John?”

“Be serious,” he said, trying not to smile. “My friends are convinced we’re dating…dating properly, I mean, not just going out as friends.”

“And what does ‘dating properly’ consititute?” she asked, still grinning.

“MJ,” he said seriously, “I think we…look, I know how cliche this sounds, but I can’t think of a better way to put it…can we be more than friends?”

Mary Jane stopped looking at him, just for a minute, and looked at their surroundings. It was as she had feared: they were standing exactly outside Peter’s house.

“I…” She fixed her eyes determinedly on him. “I just don’t know. I think I need some time. I just…remember what I told you, that I found someone who I thought I…could be with, and it turned out…”

“I know that must hurt,” he said gently. “You can have all the time you want.”

She really did love him then, but she wasn’t sure if it was how she was supposed to love him.

“Thanks,” she said. He didn’t kiss her then, he just let her walk to her door and wave goodbye to him.

She felt ever so guilty.

*****

12th January 1972

Norman drove a car down to pick Emily up from her house, and when she came out, dressed in an attractive but very cheap black dress, she was embarrassed.

“This place is a dump,” she muttered. “Not what you’re used to.”

“I like it,” Norman answered, although he didn’t really. He had barely dared leave his car for fear it would be stolen. “You look lovely.”

“You mean that?” she said, adjusting her earrings.

“Yeah,” he said, and he did. They drove on. “You’ll fit right in.”

“Good,” she said, in a tone of voice that was impossible to read. “I’m not your type, am I?” she suddenly added.

“What do you mean?”

“I’m from the wrong side of town. And I know nothing about high society or anything like that, and you’re probably regretting asking me out because I’ll make a fool of myself.”

“No you won’t! You won’t, all right?” He then said something he certainly hadn’t expected to say: “If you don’t like it, we can go somewhere else, all right?”

“Really?”

“I mean it.”

“Well…good.” Emily gave him a hard look, and then she sighed and stared out of the window. “Thank you.”

“S’alright.”

“Have me back before midnight,” she said glumly, “or the car’ll turn into a pumpkin, or something.”

The streetlights ahead of them snapped on. They continued to speed down the road.

“I thought you were going to say, ‘or I’ll turn back into me’.”

“What, like Cinderella? Huh. The princess was the real her, remember?”

Norman would later pinpoint that as the moment he fell in love with her. The princess was the real her was a line that could have come straight out of the mouth of an Osborn. “Yeah,” he said. “Yeah, you’re right.”

They looked at each other with sudden geniune affection.

It was the beginning of something exceedingly complicated.