*Insert Disclaimer Here*


Chapter 6: An Unlikely Duo


*Hell's Kitchen. Manhattan, New York City, USA. Later that evening.*

Wanda was always amazed at the simple fact that Manhattan had changed so much, the city she had once know nothing compared to what it had become.

Since her children's Crusade to find her, Wanda had returned to Manhattan in only two other instances. The first time was when Carol and Jessica had brought her from DC to the Mansion, to let her see her friends again, only encounter the Vision. That moment still hurt Wanda, and was a constant reminder that nothing would ever be the same again, that even her now former husband could no longer stand her.

She had remained in Manhattan with the Avengers since the Phoenix crisis ended. Enlisted into the Avengers Unity Squad, she had slowly begun reintegrating herself into the life she had left behind. It was no easy task, of course, due to many of her friends, teammates and kind being anywhere between hesitant and hateful of her. She couldn't even begin to think about her species. Her Unity teammates were a roller coaster of emotion and feeling towards her. Rogue and Steve were the worst of it, hatred and guilt-induced sense of obligation.

Unwilling to deal with Rogue's hate and Steve's guilt-driven efforts on such a constant basis, Wanda had taken to spending her evenings walking around Manhattan. It had become a habit of hers, observing Manhattan and the people she had dedicated herself to protecting. Wearing a pair of faded jeans, a scarlet jacket over her shirt and open toe sandals, she easily blended into the New York crowds. It almost felt like home.

Tonight, after she and Pietro had parted ways earlier, Wanda had gone walking through the lower Upper West Side before wandering into Hell's Kitchen. Her mind, though, was wandering on the conversation she and Pietro had earlier, particularly about the Amazing Spider-Man. It still amazed her that her brother thought well of the Webhead, and that he thought he would be a friend for her.

Spider-Man was definitely friendly to her, and gave off the impression that he wanted to be a friend to her, and be there for her. He took the time to talk to her, but what he told her in K'un-Lun was what stuck out the most. Hearing that despite everything, she still mattered was something she truly needed to hear; Wanda was definitely grateful to Spider-Man for that moment. The Amazing Avenger had been open and honest with her, willing to speak and be friendly to her. In a way that was completely different from Steve, or Carol and Jessica. She appreciated it, him treating like an actual person instead of a glass cannon or a freak, waiting to go off at any moment. To him, she was another human being: emotions, insecurities, hopes and all.

Spider-Man wouldn't judge her based on what she had done, and told her that he was certain that she was doing all that she could to try and atone for her actions. Their conversation the other day, in all honesty, gave her the impression that he actually understood what she was going through, the pain and hurt and guilt that she felt. It was clearly not on the same level or scale as hers, of course, but it was relatable enough. She couldn't help but wonder: what kind of guilt plagued a hero like Spider-Man?

It suddenly occurred to Wanda that despite remembering his face after all this time, she didn't remember his real name.

Lost in her thoughts, she barely registered as she turned into a less lit street, and who was in it.

"Hey, babe."

Wanda stopped in her tracks, arching an eyebrow at the voice from behind her. Frowning slightly, she turned around to see several men approaching her, about eight of them, from the steps of one of the apartment buildings around the street.

"How ya doing, sweetheart?" one the thugs said with a grin, eying her with desire. "You know, those jewels you got there are really nice," he continued, pointing out her ruby necklace, silver earrings and gold bracelets.

"You look pretty lonely out here, too," another said, he and two others circling around the Scarlet Avenger. Wanda noticed that they were forming a circle around her, cutting her escape and keeping her to the wall of the building next to them. "We're happy to give you some company."

"...is...are you robbing me?" Wanda asked with mild surprise.

"Well, no shit," another thug replied, taking out a knife. "Yeah, we're robbing you, babe. Maybe something else, too; night's still pretty young."

"Let me make this easy for you, babe," another thug added, the leader of the group. "Give us the jewels, and we go easy on you. Well...maybe not easy."

Wanda kept staring at the men in front of her, then turning to the ones behind her. So that was what they wanted, it seemed. They thought they had caught some easy prey, a fun night for themselves. After another moment, she turned to face the leader, disinterest and boredom on her face. "No."

The men looked at each other for a few moments, surprised looks on their faces. All at once, they burst into laughter. "That's-that's really funny, sweetheart," the lead thug answered, cracking his knuckles. "Look, I don't think you know what you're dealing with-"

"You don't know what you're dealing," Wanda interrupted with narrowed eyes, taking on a threatening tone. "Do you really think you can gang up on an Avenger?"

"Oh, an Avenger?" the leader replied in a mocking tone. "You here that, boys? We got ourselves an Avenger!" At that, the whole group laughed, unaware of how deep a hole they were digging themselves.

"Right, and I'm Thor," another thug mocked from behind Wanda, lustfully eying her rear form. "Except my hammer is way better."

"Alright, we're through playing nice, bitch," the leader of the thugs sneered, taking out a gun. "Hand over all your jewelry. Then we're gonna have some fun with that fine-"

"Move!"

The thug turned around, looking up in surprise at the sound of the new voice, his goons following suite. "Wha-?!"

KAPOW!

"Your choice!" the Amazing Spider-Man yelled out as he kicked the thug into the ground, the hero seemingly coming out of nowhere. As the thug screamed in pain, blood gushing from his nose, Peter leapt over the rest and landed gracefully in front of Wanda. He aimed his web shooters at the thugs, standing protectively between her and them.

"Still the best at Chicken!"

Wanda gasped in mild surprise. "Spider-Man?"

"Don't worry, miss, everything's going to be alright," Peter said immediately, keeping his gaze on the thugs. He didn't know that the woman he was protecting was actually a fellow Avenger.

"Auutth, my fucking nosth!" the lead thug yelled furiously as he got back to his feet, clutching his nose. It was clearly broken, blood gushing out and seeping down his hand and through his fingers. "Fucking freak broke my nosth! I'll kill you, Weth Freak, I'll fucking murder your ath if ith-!"

THWIP! SPLAT!

"MMPTH?!" The thug never finished, a glob of webbing covering his mouth.

"Dude, language!" Peter retorted with a mocking hiss. "There's a lady present! What would your mother say?!"

At that, Wanda found herself giggling, much to her own surprise.

"Get him!" another thug yelled. With that, four of them ran at the Webhead, bats and crowbars in hand.

"Oh, wow, how original," Peter sighed with exaggeration, shooting web lines at two of the thugs. He pulled them forward with minimal effort, greeting them with fists to the face. Leaping over their falling and unconscious bodies, he easily dodged their swings before grabbing their bat and crowbars. "Again with crowbars? I mean, seriously, these things aren't even fun anymore! I can't even open any more crates at Avengers Tower anymore because I hate seeing them so much now! It's like you guys are trying to make crime fighting less and less enjoyable!"

Ripping them out of their hands, Peter then avoided the two thugs trying to punch him, grabbing one and throwing him into the other, both landing in front of the other remaining thugs.

"...so, anyone want to rethink their life choices and consider going on the straight and narrow? I mean, there's only six of you, and one of me."

The leader grabbed his knife and ran at the Amazing Avenger, only to find himself thrown into a pile of garbage bags several yards away.

"Well, I tried," Peter shrugged, sidestepping and tripping another thug, webbing his legs together as he fell. One tried to jump him from behind and dig his knife in, but Peter was quick to sense the danger. "Oops, you dropped this, guy," he quipped as he crouched down, grabbing the thug's arm as he leapt over him. "Here you go, I found it!" Peter spun him around twice before throwing him into two of his buddies, all three crashing into the building wall.

"And he's outta here!"

As Peter wrestled with the last two thugs, the leader managed to get back to his feet. Making to rush back into the fight, he then noticed his gun lying on the sidewalk, only a few feet away between him and Peter. Seeing Spider-Man knocking out the last of his boys, he impulsively made a mad dash for his gun and successfully reached it, intent on dropping the Webhead if it was the last thing he did.

Unfortunately, he had forgotten all about Wanda.

SCREEEEEAAAAAAOOOOWWWW!

"MMMMRRRMMMM!"

Peter snapped around quickly just in time to see the last thug slamming into the building behind them. His gun clattered on the floor before glowing with scarlet energy, its cartridge sliding out. The thug himself slid slowly off the wall and onto the sidewalk, moaning weakly before going unconscious.

Wanda simply stood there, remnants of scarlet hex energy dispersing around her now lowered hand. "You looked like you needed some help," the Scarlet Avenger said simply, a small half-smile on her face as she turned to the Webhead.

Peter blinked, suddenly recognizing the woman. "...wait, Wanda?"

"Hello, Spider-Man."

"Uh, yeah, hey. Wow, uh...wow, I wasn't expecting...Didn't think I'd have to be saving you, of all people." Peter chuckled to himself, rubbing the back of his neck as he came over the mutant sorceress. "So, um, are you alright?"

"Yes, I am fine," Wanda nodded, sparing a half-glance at the thugs on the floor. "These men just surprised me, is all. I could've handled them easily, given the chance."

"I'm sure you could've," Peter agreed with a smile and shrug. "You know me, though, always swinging around and interfering with everyone's hopes and dreams. Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man, at your service, after all."

Wanda chuckled at that. "Well, thank you regardless. Although, I'm surprised to see you in Hell's Kitchen; from what I understand, everyone leaves here to Daredevil unless it's absolutely necessary."

"After the Phoenix thing, Daredevil decided to head out west to California. Me, Luke, Iron Fist and some kids they're training up are taking up the slack." With that, Peter quickly gathered the thugs and webbed them up, stringing them up onto two lamp posts for the police to find.

"...you always leave criminals like this?" Wanda asked. "On the lamp posts?"

"It's the small things that make my nights enjoyable," Peter shrugged. "Call it tradition; can't just quit the classics, you know. So, what about you? What're you doing out around here?"

"Well, before the obvious, I was enjoying a nice walk. I've been doing so since I returned to the Avengers, see what I've missed after all this time. I've come to enjoy them, seeing the people and buildings. Remembering New York from the old days, and seeing what's changed."

"Alone?"

"Well, it's not like I can ask Rogue to come along with me for a friendly night out," Wanda sighed halfheartedly with a shrug. "And I don't feel comfortable being alone with Steve. There's still some...unresolved issues between us."

"I see," Peter nodded in understanding. "Well...I'm here. I'll walk around with you."

Wanda blinked in surprise. "What?"

"Yeah, I don't mind. I know Manhattan like the back of my hand, what with swinging around the island since I was 15. I can show you where the best hot dogs are, the best halal, coffee shops…" Peter trailed off, seeing Wanda's surprised expression. "I-I mean, of course, if you don't mind," he added quickly, raising his hands. "You don't have to yes, or anything, I-I just thought, y-you know, you wou-"

"No, no, it's ok," Wanda interrupted, chuckling at Peter's stammering. She didn't know why, but seeing him act like this was a nice contrast to the Spider-Man that she was used to: an unapologetic chatterbox who seemed to always know what to do with a resolute air about him. This was a new side to him, probably an aspect of the real Spider-Man she knew nothing about. If she were to be honest, she found it rather endearing and sweet. "I-well honestly, I would really appreciate that, actually."

"You sure?"

"Positive. If it's no problem for you, of course."

"It's no problem at all," Peter replied with a smile. The Amazing Avenger quickly realized something, though, and he looked down at his uniform. "Although...it'd be a bit weird if people saw Spider-Man walking around with a random woman."

"Well, where are your regular clothes?" Wanda asked.

"Well, back at my apartment. Which is all the way in Tribeca; I stopped off there after work on my way to Avengers Tower."

"Hmm...well, what are the chances of that, right? Then again…" Wanda smirked as her eyes began glowing, hex energy forming around her hand. "What are the chances of your clothes appearing out of nowhere?"

With that, the Scarlet Avenger placed her hand on Peter's shoulder, and Peter began to feel a slight tingling around himself. Looking down, he noticed his costume taking on the color of Wanda's hex energy. To his surprise, a set of jeans, socks & sneakers, a shirt and a jacket began materializing over his costume, a backpack materializing over his back. Within moments, Peter found himself in one of his usual outfits, his mask and gloves the only hint that he was wearing his costume underneath.

Peter looked at his clothes, blinked once and chuckled. "Ok, that works nice, too." With that, he took off gloves and then his mask, revealing his face to the Scarlet Avenger.

Wanda remembered Peter's face, of course, but to see it in front of her in person was a different matter. Peter had a kind face, lively brown eyes and a mess of brown hair going in all different directions, no doubt thanks to his mask. His eyes spoke a lot to her in just those first moments: there was a tiredness in them, and something that told her that he had endured many trials, and yet they shone with life and hope, a unique optimism that she rarely ever saw. His facial expression said even more; a man who was kind and caring, willing to be there for other people when needed. A friend.

"Well, since you've seen the face," Peter grinned, "I guess it's only fair you get the name, too. Peter Parker; nice to meet you, Wanda."

Wanda smiled. "The pleasure is mine, Peter."

"Well then, now that that's out of the way, shall we? In fact...you feeling hungry?"


"Mmm! Oh my God, this is delicious!

"What'd I tell you? Best dogs on in the city."

"You weren't lying," Wanda hummed, licking mustard from her finger. "I can't believe I've been here this long and never found this stand."

"My wife makes the chili from scratch every morning," the vendor, Jake, smiled as Peter paid for their chili dogs. "Only her best for the island, after all."

"Tell your wife she does a fantastic job," Wanda replied, holding her chili dog like a lifeline. "These are the best hot dogs I've ever had. I assure you, I'll definitely be returning here at the first chance I get."

Peter and Wanda had spent the last half hour walking in the Upper West Side, the Webhead taking them to what he said were the best hot dogs in the city. Wanda was initially surprised and, honestly, somewhat incredulous that they had to go such a long way to a particular cart while passing dozens along the way. But after her first bite, she was convinced that it had been worth her while.

"So was I right, or was I right?" Peter grinned as he and Wanda continued walking down Amsterdam Avenue, hot dogs in hand.

"You were right," Wanda laughed, taking another bite. "And to think, I thought you were crazy taking me to get them blocks away. This was definitely worth it."

"Hey, hey, I resent that; I'm perfectly crazy! You can't get crazier than me. I mean, who else would willingly leap off buildings in red and blue spandex and fights crime? Plus, I talk to myself."

"But that's normal. Everyone talks to themselves. But you're right on the first part. You're basically certifiably insane, Peter Parker."

"Well, someone's got to do it," Peter shrugged with a grin.

"Well, if you insist," Wanda replied with a chuckle. "Don't say I didn't try, though."

The two continued on for several minutes in comfortable silence, enjoying their hot dogs and enjoying the scenery. Wanda had to admit, her night was already better, not being alone and enjoying the company of a friend.

"That was the best hot dog I've ever had," she soon sighed in content as she finished, tossing the wrapper into a nearby trash bin. "What other Manhattan secrets are you hiding, Peter?"

"Oh, don't worry," Peter smiled. "I have a bunch more in this noggin. Stick with me, Wanda, and you'll be an expert at everything Manhattan offers in no time. You don't spend almost 15 years doing what I do without learning a few tricks of the trade."

"That's definitely helpful. Speaking of which, I guess that explains how the Daily Bugle's formerly best photographer was famous for getting the best pictures of Spider-Man."

"Best kept secret of the world," Peter chuckled. The two came to a corner, at which Peter realized something. "Wait, this is 61st Street...oh, there's something that I want to show you; it's down 61st." With that, Peter guided Wanda down 61st, going three blocks before arriving next to a large, fancy restaurant. What Peter wanted to show, though, was on the wall of the building.

"My god," Wanda gasped in surprise.

"A few street artists put this up sometime after the Siege of Asgard," Peter said. "Like an honor to the team."

A mural of the Avengers, the true Avengers that dedicated themselves to fighting the foes no single hero could withstand. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor were at the forefront, with heroes such as Luke Cage, Carol as Ms. Marvel, Hawkeye, Valkyrie and Thing all around them, seemingly running into battle. What really got Wanda were the heroes that were painted at the top, as if watching after the modern Avengers in their glory. Avengers from the golden days, from the height of the team before she went insane. From the likes of Photon, She-Hulk and Black Knight; to Silver Claw, Justice and Lionheart. Her own image was on there as well, the painted Wanda standing ready for battle with her hand glowing with hex energy.

"It's beautiful," Wanda finally said after a moment. "But I'm honestly surprised I'm in this painting."

"Well, you were one of the greatest Avengers ever; you still are. You helped set the gold standard for all the rest of us. You're one of the reasons that the Avengers are what we are."

Wanda smiled. "Thank you, Peter, and I'm glad you showed me this mural. I love it."

Peter wasn't done yet, though. By the time an hour had passed, he had showed Wanda a pair of guitarists that always played on weeknights on 8th Avenue and 68th; an old Korean woman who drew portraits outside her son's restaurant; a small bookstore on Amsterdam Avenue that turned out to have some of Wanda's favorite books; and a soup kitchen for disenfranchised veterans and other needy on 8th Avenue and 77th run by several nuns that Peter had befriended in the early days of Osborn's Reign. Wanda was amazed by all the little things she learned of her city, glad to have been shown them.

All the while in between, Peter and Wanda talked, or rather, Peter did most of the talking with Wanda jumping in every so often. Peter learned a bit of Wanda's gypsy past while Wanda learned a bit of his early years as Spider-Man as well as how Peter became Spider-Man. Peter found that he enjoyed Wanda's company, while Wanda found herself more at ease and comfortable with herself with Peter. A feeling she was slowly getting more used to.

The two Avengers eventually found themselves in one of Peter's favorite coffee shops in the Upper West side, close to Central Park. The two had an outside table, enjoying the scenery around them. They had been sitting there for ten minutes, just talking and enjoying each other's company.

"Peter, I have to say," Wanda said after a while. "You really made walking around Manhattan a new experience for me, a lively one at that. I appreciate you joining me tonight, and making it more enjoyable; thank you."

"It's no problem," Peter replied. "I'm happy I could help you out there, make it more enjoyable for you." After a few moments, the Webhead added, "Hey Wanda, how about we make this a thing, our thing?"

Wanda turned to Peter in surprise. "Our thing?"

"Well, yeah. I mean, it's like you said, Rogue isn't exactly lining up to be your BFF. Logan's Logan, Jess is always busy with SHIELD nowadays, and Carol's still dealing with her tumor. I don't know what's between you and Cap, so I won't pry. I mean, I don't want to overstep any boundaries or anything but...well, you've had it rough since you came back, with mostly everyone giving you a wide berth. No one should have to go through what you're dealing with alone, with all that weight on your shoulders. It's like I told you: you matter, Wanda, and you're not alone. You could use a friend and, well, here I am, I guess is what I'm saying."

Wanda couldn't help but smile at Peter's words. They were simple, and yet the meaning behind them touched her profoundly. He truly cared about here to be concerned for her well-being, and wanted to be there for her. He was willing to take time out of his day to spend with her, make sure she was alright and doing well.

He was offering her his friendship, and it meant the world to her.

But, for some reason she couldn't explain, she couldn't help but poke a little teasing fun at his expense. "...Peter Parker, is this your way of asking me on a date?"

"What? No, nonono, of course not, not at all. I wouldn't do that." Peter's eyes widened at that. "I mean, you're a very beautiful woman and all, I'm not saying that. I mean, I-I don't want you to think I'm taking advantage of you or anything, you're a really nice girl and sure we just started getting along and-but I-I...I just…" Seeing Wanda trying to hold her composure and keep from laughing, Peter sighed and smiled sheepishly, running his hand through his hair. "I'm not helping myself here, am I?"

"Maybe, maybe not," Wanda replied, unable to contain her smile. "It's funny to watch, nonetheless."

"Well, if nothing else, I got you to smile, right?"

"Yes, I believe you did," Wanda replied honestly, glancing to the side. She hadn't smiled like this in a long time. It was a soothing feeling, and Peter helped it come out so easily. He made her feel calm and comfortable the entire time they spent together, and he made her feel like she mattered, that someone truly cared about her. She didn't want to lose this feeling. "Peter, I...I would very much like that, making evening walks like this our thing."

"Then it's settled," Peter grinned. "So, same time tomorrow, I'm guessing. There's this great halal cart down on 34th and Madison. Their gyros are like a little roll of heaven."

"The way this is going, I'm going to end up a food junkie myself before long"

"Hey, don't knock it 'til you try it." The two shared a laugh at that, but before Wanda could reply, she caught sight of a news broadcast shown on the TV just inside the coffee shop. Seeing Wanda's surprised look and that she had stopped walking, Peter followed her gaze and saw what had grabbed her attention.

"-are attempting to contain a robbery at Horizon Labs, initial responding officers currently pinned down by several masked criminals with assault weapons. The real threat, though, is the villain Mysterio, famous for his constant tussles with Spider-Man. We don't have any more information now, but police have contact CEO Max Modell, and we have confirmed-"

"Oh, crap…" Peter sighed in exasperation. "Another one…"

"What do you mean, 'another one?'" Wanda asked. "Is he one of yours?"

"Yeah and no. Mysterio and I go waaaay back. Loves his illusionist persona, and messing with people. Me, particularly. Problem is, Mysterio is actually trapped in another universe right now, after trying to kill the Spider-Man over there. Nice kid, by the way, good times; remind me to tell you the story someday. Anyways, Mysterio left a few androids of himself around the city in his wake. Some were activated since, which I had to deal with since before the whole Phoenix thing, and it looks like those thugs somehow found one of them. I'm guessing this one thinks it's the real Mysterio, too."

"Hmm...he, or it, doesn't look like much."

"Each of the androids so far have been just like him to the letter. Gear, speech and everything in between. And some of the other Avengers said that very same thing when the real one was with the Sinister Six a few months back. Next thing I know, Doc Ock almost takes over the world and…" Peter trailed off, memories of Rhino, Sable and himself in that tunnel coming to mind. Memories that he didn't want to remember now, if ever, and especially in front of Wanda. Quickly forcing them away, he continued, "Anyways, he's more of a threat than he looks, trust me, and so should this android."

"Well, then," Wanda noted, a smile forming on her face. "In that case...Avengers, Assemble."


*Horizon Labs. South Street Seaport, Manhattan, New York City. Just over five minutes later*

"We need back-up, now!"

"Who the fuck you think I've been calling for this whole time?! Santa Claus?!"

"Stopping yelling and shoot, dumbasses!"

The officers began returning fire, only to crouch back down safety, their squad cars victims to another bombardment of bullets. Holding their position behind their two getaway vans, seven men with black face masks were holding the police at bay, each armed with an AK-47 and enough firepower to hold off an even bigger response force. The street had been cordoned off, other officers diverting civilians away behind barricades.

All the while, the android believed to be Quentin Beck, known to the world as Mysterio, laughed as hits victory seemed imminent. The seven criminals had unexpectedly found this android in Little Italy, and were surprised to see it fully functional. Initially confused as to what a robot of a known villain was doing in Little Italy, the ringleader figured using it would be the perfect tool for crime. That was, until it activated and thought it was the real Mysterio, thus getting the group to work for him.

"Shoot all you want, attack dogs! There's nothing you can do to stop me!" With that, the android villain activated one of its hidden wrist-mounted weapons and fired a glowing blast at the squad cars. One immediately exploded in flames, several officers send flying back. "This is my playground, my world, my home field. Technology galore, some of the greatest minds in the world making beautiful contraptions. I will shape this city in my image with them! You can't stop me! So swears...MYSTERIO!"

"Hey, boss, this was one hell of an idea!" one of the thugs yelled sarcastically to the leader of the criminals. "Using a robot villain to get some scores-that wasn't bound to go wrong at all!"

"We should get outta here, like now!" another one added. "We already grabbed a buncha tech from this place for this thing. Let's go before the SWAT arrives, or a bunch of heroes!"

"No shit, Sherlock," the ringleader agreed. "Mysterio, we gotta split now, before any capes show up or something!"

"They can send whoever they want, I'll send them packing! I've stood with the Sinister Six against the Avengers themselves and won! I almost stood on top of the world!"

"Almost, but not quite! And here you are, reduced to mere robbery?!"

"Spider-Man!" the Mysterio android angrily yelled, turning to the skies to its enemy.

"Fish Bowl!" Peter yelled back, swinging down onto the pavement, the Scarlet Witch landing down next to him in a flurry of hex energy. "Why are we yelling at each other?! Wait, is this a shouting match?! I would've brought my outside voice if I'd known!"

"And you've brought an ally with you," the android noted, seeing Wanda. "An Avenger, no less." At that, the villain began laughing. "What, our last battle against your allies wasn't enough of a warning to you? That not even 'Earth's Mightiest Heroes' are a match for the Master of Illusion, that all shall fall before the might of Mysterio?!"

Wanda raised an eyebrow. "It talks too much. Is the original Mysterio always this annoying?"

"Pretty much, yeah," Peter replied. "That's Fishbowl Head for you."

"I can see why he's one of yours."

"...Was that another joke, Scarlet?"

"Perhaps," Wanda replied with a smirk, firing a barrage of hex spheres at the criminals. They quickly sought shelter behind their vans, some returning fire while others kept the police pinned down. Wanda easily took the upper hand, though, willing chaos fields in front of both the police, and herself and Peter, the bullets simply bouncing off.

"Dammit, boss, Robbie told you!" one of the thugs yelled. "Now we got Spidey and an Avenger to deal with!"

"I can see that, so shut up!" the ringleader shot back. "It's not my fault the robot talks too much! Besides, the thing said it could pay us in cash!"

"The bot was grandstanding again?" Peter called over. "Don't worry; on the very off chance you guys walk away, you'll get used to it. Granted, it's been more than 15 years and I still find the real Mysterio annoying…is this how you guys feel like when I go on and on?" Turning to Wanda, he continued, "I'll take care of Fishbowl, you handle it goons!"

Not giving Wanda any chance to respond, Peter leapt over her shields and shot a web line at one of the criminals' vans, reeling himself in right for the android Mysterio. "FORE!"

"NOT THIS TIIIIAAAAAAAHHH!" the android yelled as it tried to shoot the Webhead with smoke bombs, only for the two of them to crash through the glass entrance doors of Horizon Labs behind them.

"Well, alright then," Wanda shrugged as she began channeling more of her hex energy. The thugs desperately kept shooting at the Scarlet Avenger as she began heading their way, her hex shields protecting her from their bullets. With a wave of her hand, Wanda sent their vans skidding aside, leaving the criminals unprotected.

Stunned at what just happened, they desperately aimed their AKs at Wanda, attempting to overwhelm her with fear.

Wanda arched an eyebrow.

"S-Stay away, Avenger! Befo-!"

Wanda raised her glowing palm.

The guns flew out of the criminals' hands instantly, before they even realize what was happening. Their arrogance and confidence was immediately replaced with sheer horror and fear as the guns floated in front of them, all ready to fire.

"L-look, wait! We-we were j-just-!"

Wanda closed her glowing hand.

The guns spins in the air, slamming their butts into the heads of the criminals with sickening cracks. As the seven thugs fell to the ground unconscious, the guns followed suit with their mag clips popping out.

Wanda looked at the unconscious thugs with a mixture of indifference, disinterest and boredom. "Hmm." Without a second thought, she hurried off to Spider-Man's aid.

The police were shocked, to say the least. Watching the Scarlet Avenger head off to where Spider-Man and Mysterio were duking it out, they stayed in place for several moments before heading to the seven thugs, handcuffing them and securing their discarded weapons. "Um...so, that happened," one of them said.

"We had nothing like this in Sioux Falls," another mused, still amazed by what he saw.

"Welcome to New York City, newbie," answered a third.

Meanwhile, the android Mysterio and Spider-Man continued to duke it out, taking their fight back outside Horizon Labs. "I mean, seriously, Fishbowl," Peter rambled, blocking several of the villain's punches. "I mean, I've faced five of you guys already in the last few months. People are starting to say things, get suspicious! I can't have my city thinking I'm condoning hero-villain relations! What would the kids say?!"

"Shut up, for the love of God!" the android shot back, throwing several small discs at the hero, each exploding as the Webhead evaded them.

"And don't even get me started on the cliché robbery! Stealing new tech inventions?! That's like the plot of every corny spy movie every!"

"Show's how much you know, Spider-Man! Octavius reminded me of what tech can really offer last time! I mean, I'm tech-savvy myself, but there are countless possibilities they offer, and I never truly appreciated it! Otto managed to do one thing right, if anything, and that was remind me of how to really use tech like this! I can shape this city like my own playground, plunder this city, and that's exactly what I plan to do!"

"Uh-huh, right. You do realize you're only a robot version of-you know what, it doesn't even matter. So how about we skip the humiliating moment where I knock that bowl off your head, again mind you, and you just surrender?

"Surrender?! You have no idea what you gotten yourself into this time!" With a cackle and swish of its cape, the android Mysterio threw numerous smoke bombs onto the ground. Peter leapt away, ready to act at the first sign of whatever his opponent had planned this time. His Spider Sense suddenly going into overdrive, Peter was shocked as dozens of small, flying objects shot out of the smoke and bombarded him from seemingly all directions, striking and slashing at him while obscuring his vision. It was all he could do to cover his face, the assailant's slashing his back and arms and torso. It was several moments before Peter realized what he was facing.

Mechanical purple bats, each the size of owls.

"You can't stop me if you can't see me!" the android laughed, the smoke disappearing around them.

"Oh, come on, I just got this costume fixed!" Peter yelled, trying to fight off the mechanical swarm and locate his opponent. It wasn't long, though, before he realized that he recognized them. "Wait, are these the bats from-?!"

"That show they made about you a while back?!" Mysterio laughed triumphantly. "I'm glad you recognized them; they were a classic of the cartoon's interpretation of me! And so intricate and well made! One of the best things of the show! I don't exactly like how they portrayed me, though, or made me sound…"

"Are you-I knew that would come back to haunt me!" the hero fumed. "I mean, didn't anyone see this coming?!"

"You think this is the worst of it, Webhead?! I have a whole bunch of tricks to test-!" The android began but never finished.

The swarm of bats bombarding Peter began glowing with pink energy as they were pulled away from him by an unseen force. Peter breathed a sigh of relief and gratitude as the Scarlet Witch forced the bats together into a sphere, her hex powers rewriting the probability of their spontaneous combustions. The swarm exploded violently, but Wanda easily contained it in a hex field. The Scarlet Avenger then turned to the Mysterio android, the remains of the mechanized bats crashing into the pavement in smolders.

"You have one chance to surrender, android," Wanda said resolutely, raising her hand towards it, pulsating with hex energy. "This is my only warning to you."

The android laughed in response, unafraid. "You think you can scare me, Avenger? I've faced your teammates before and came out on top. I'm not your run-of-the-mill supervillain, I'm Mysterio! I've beaten the Avengers, stood on top of the world, had glory at my fingertips! I'm one of the greats, a prodigy in villainy!"

"Which is why you have been successful all these years against Spider-Man." Wanda then gasped in a mocking tone, bringing her other hand to her now smirking lips. "Oh, wait…"

"Sure, laugh it up now, witch...you won't be laughing when this is over."

"Are you alright, Spider-Man?" Wanda called out to her teammate several feet behind her, her eyes never leaving the villainous android.

"Sticks and stones, my butt," Peter replied, checking all his wounds. "But I'm good here."

"Don't worry about that, bug," the Mysterio android chuckled. "I'll be taking care of you same as I take care of your girlfriend here."

Ignoring the jab, Wanda replied, "I think you're seriously overconfident in your own capabilities, android. You face two of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, one who has defeated you continuously in the past 17 years. You're outnumbered two to one, and your men have been stopped. You've lost. Surrender."

"I'll tell you the same thing I told Spidey: you have no idea what you stepped into. In fact, I've already won."

Wanda couldn't help but smirk, amused at the android's arrogance. "Is that so?"

"Oh, yeah. Because for the past three minutes, you've been breathing in a full dose of my brand new hallucinogenic gas."

That caught the two Avengers off-guard. "What?" Wanda asked.

"What, you thought I thought I'd be clear for this run?" the android replied. "I figured at least Spider-Man over there would show up. I've been itching to test the new gas on him, ever since the last time we Six tussled with him. But then you came along and, well, two birds and all that." Raising its gauntlet, it revealed a series of blinking buttons before continuing, "It's a new fear hallucinogen I cooked up, made to make you see some of your greatest fears, go crazy and attack anyone around you while you see enemies all around you."

At that, Peter realized that he needed to get Wanda away from the android before it's gas took full hold of the Scarlet Avenger. "Wanda, I think you should back away from the robot; like, right now."

Wanda turned to Peter, her eyes widening in shock and horror, a fearful expression appearing on her face. "No...nonono, stay away. Stay away from me!"

Peter's eyes widened in alarm at that. "Wanda? Wanda, are you alright?! Wanda!" But he got no response from the Scarlet Avenger.

In Wanda's eyes, standing were Peter should have been was instead the Scarlet Witch of the Avengers, wearing the full body suit and cape of her days before she decimated the team. Only her eyes were glowing a dead red color, her cape torn and tattered, her costume ripped, her pale face wearing a hateful frown.

'You did it,' the Witch spit in hatred, glaring at Wanda as she began to approach her. 'You did this to them, to me. You turned against your friends, your family. You killed your husband. And you think you could go unpunished?'

"No, stay back!" Wanda yelled in fear, her hands glowing with vibrant hex energy. "Don't come any closer, stay away!"

"Wanda!" Peter tried to get to Wanda, quickly approaching her. "Wanda, it's me, Spidey! Whatever you're seeing, it's not real! You gotta listen-!"

"NO!" Wanda screamed, thrusting her hand at Peter. A barrage of hex spheres shot forth and slammed into Peter, sending flying back towards the police line, crashing loudly and painfully into one of the squad cars. The impact was enough to send the car skidding several meters back.

"AAARRRGHH!" Peter felt burning pain, Wanda's hexes having explode all over him. His skin screamed in pain, his costume burnt over his chest and a large tear over the spider insignia.

'Destroying everything you touch!' the Witch yelled, her hands glowing. 'You did this to me! YOU DESTROYED ME WHEN YOU USED ME TO DESTROY THE AVENGERS, YOU VILE BITCH!"

"Get away from me!" Wanda yelled in extreme fear as her body began glowing with hex energy, desperately trying to fend of her phantom opponent. "It wasn't my fault, please! IT WASN'T MY FAULT!"

'LIES!'

All the while, the Mysterio android laughed at the sight before him. "Well, look at that! That's even better than I imagined!" Seeing Spider-Man painfully getting back to his feet, it added, "Well, looks like you'll be having your hands full, Web Freak! I'll just take my things and move along! Take care of my thugs for me!"

With that, it ran for one of the vans its team of criminals had brought for their escape, throwing smoke bombs at the police to keep them from going after him. They fired in an attempt to stop the android, but they were all wild and blind shots, the smoke bombs the android threw at them obscuring their sight.

The android was just an arm's length away from one of the vans, only for a web shot to land on its arm. The villainous android looked up in time to see Spider-Man catapult right into it. The two crashed in a city trash can and then a nearby car several meters away, the android's glass dome cracking brutally.

"Sorry, you gotta pay before leaving with the merchandise," Peter groaned, still in pain from being struck by Wanda's hexes. He wasn't about to leave the android unattended, though. With a yell, he punched its chest with all his strength, shattering the metal. The android's arms began flailing, but Peter pinned them down with webbing before ripping the newly made hole wider. Peter quickly spotted the CPU unit and immediately ripped it out.

Crushing it in his hand, Peter watched as the android became lifeless. "I hate robots…"

His Spider Sense suddenly screaming, Peter barely ducked out of the way of a stray hex blast. It flew over him, exploding upon hitting a nearby abandoned van. Peter turned to see that Wanda was still trying to fight off her phantom opponent. She kept shooting her spheres and hex blasts left and right, hitting the surrounding buildings, cars and the street, trying to hit opponents that weren't there. The NYPD was working frantically to get the civilians away, yelling at them to evacuate away from the barricades, several hex blasts having struck dangerously close.

"Spidey!" one of the officers yelled to the Amazing Avenger, he and several others running over to him. Behind the police line, three SWAT trucks had just arrived. "SWAT's looking to get involved and stop your teammate themselves. She's becoming more and more dangerous!"

Seeing what Wanda was doing, and how terrified she appeared, Peter knew he had to do something. "Keep them back; I'll take care of her, trust me, officer."

"You better, because the Sarge ain't wrong. Avenger or not, if she ends up threatening the public, we'll be forced to put her down. You got five minutes before we intervene."

"...yeah, I'll keep that in mind."

'YOU made me snap into insanity!' the Witch yelled. 'YOU made me turn on my friends and family! They all hate me because of YOU!'

"SHUT UP!" Wanda screamed back, firing another he's blast at her. Being that she was only hallucinating, the blast simply exploded violently on the sidewalk. Turning to try and run, Wanda instead froze in place at who glared back at her now.

Her hands glowing with hex energy, there stood the elegant Wanda Maximoff, daughter of Lord Magnus, draped in the scarlet royal dress of the House of M, only it was ripped and tattered. Her eyes glowed with tears, hatred and pink color, tears slowly trailing down her cheeks.

'It's your fault,' Maximoff hissed hatefully, pointing her finger at Wanda. 'You did it, you caused all of this, all of it. You made me damn our kind to extinction, to hatred like we've never seen before! You turned me into a weapon, made me destroy my people! My father and brother!'

"No, it-it wasn't," Wanda desperately shot back, tears now burning her eyes. "It wasn't me...it was Doom-"

'You lie and don't even believe your own lies!' Maximoff yelled with rage, shooting hex blasts at Wanda. The Scarlet Avenger leapt away, trying to avoid the phantom blows, only to feel the hands of the Witch's hand grab her hair and throw her into the ground.

'You think you can blame Doom for your failures!?' the Witch screamed with hatred. 'It was your hand, your powers that destroyed everything! That ruined our lives, and their lives!'

'Destroyed any chance of redemption!' Maximoff yelled as well, the two women slowly circling around Wanda. 'One catastrophe after another! Each of them, your fault! Everything since then has been your fault!'

"Nonono," Wanda cried in vain, trying to block out their voices. "No, I'm not guilty! I had nothing to do with-!"

'You still think you can keep lying to yourself, Wanda?!' the Witch sneered, grabbing Wanda by the hair and pulling her head up. Screaming in pain, Wanda desperately grabbed at the Witch's hands, trying to pull her off. 'You can't escape your own guilt, Wanda! And you can't escape yourself!'

'You know, Cyclops was right,' Maximoff cried in rage, grabbing her by the face. 'You should've been killed when we had the chance! You don't deserve to live after what you've done! To your species, your husband, your children, the Avengers! TO US! YOU DESTROYED OUR LIVES AND DESERVE TO DIE!"

"No, please, you can't...you don't mean…!"

"Wanda! Wanda!"

Through the haze, through the fear and panic, through the desperation and guilt, Wanda managed to hear the voice calling out to her. One belonging to someone she had forgotten all about when she first saw the Witch. And in an act of desperation, she tried to grab onto his voice, clinging to it. "Spider-Man! Peter! Help me, please!"

"Wanda, it's me, Spidey!" Peter said, grabbing Wanda's shoulders. He could see the fear and horror in her tearing eyes, her hands clutching at the top of her head, gripping her hair. "Wanda, listen to me, what you're seeing isn't real! Listen to my voice, hold onto it! Focus on me!"

"Peter, please," Wanda cried. "I-I can't-!"

'You think HE'S going to help you?!' Maximoff laughed mockingly. 'You destroyed him worst that the rest! You're nothing to him! He'll abandon you just like the rest of them! He hates you just as much as the rest, probably more, and rightly so!'

"N-no!" Wanda whimpered. "Peter doesn't-he's my friend-"

"Wanda, whatever it is you're hearing, don't listen to them!" Peter implored, shaking her. "You're right, I'm your friend, and I'm right here! I'm not leaving you, do you hear me? I'm right here!"

'He's lying,' the Witch hissed. 'His life is as it is now because he's an Avenger, because you destroying the Avengers forced him to become one. You caused all his misery, all his pain!'

"I'm here, Wanda, I'm here! I'm real, what you're seeing isn't!" Peter grabbed her face and arm, trying to get through to her. "You feel that?" he implored, tightening his grip. "I'm the real thing! You can fight this, Scarlet, you can beat it!"

"P-Peter," Wanda gasped, feeling his grip on her. She could feel it. He was there. She couldn't see him, but he was there; he was real. "Peter, they-they're trying to kill me-!"

"Fight it, Wanda! I'm here, you can fight it!"

Wanda struggled to fight through the hallucinations, feeling Peter's grip and clinging to his voice. The Witch and Maximoff only yelled louder, accused her more and more viciously. But it was already too late for the phantom women; Wanda had already regained a sense of reality. She refused to listen to them anymore, and she wanted out.

Gathering all her energy and determination, Wanda's eyes began glowing vibrantly as she gathered a large amount of hex energy. Channeling it right into her body, the Scarlet Avenger began yelling in a mix of pain and raging resolution. Despite his Spider Sense blaring like a foghorn (probably because her hex energy was unpredictable, he figured) Peter refused to release his hold on Wanda, resolved on being there for her as best he could.

And then, almost a dozen seconds later, Wanda's eyes dimmed until they returned to their natural green color. Breathing heavily, she lowered her hands from her head, seeing that Peter was still holding her, his body language screaming with concern. Wanda had used her hexes to force the hallucinations out of her mind and the gas out of her body, the action taking a toll on her.

"Scarlet," Peter breathed in relief, gripping her shoulders. "Hey, it's ok, it's ok. You're ok now, alright? Everything's ok, now." Turning towards where the police were standing in wait, SWAT at the ready to storm the site, he yelled, "It's all good, guys! Everything's good now!" At that, the NYPD radioed in the all clear, SWAT standing down. Peter could hear several people behind the barricades clapping for his actions.

"Spider-Man…" she said softly, the adrenaline racing through her body thundering in her ears, looking down at her heaving chest. "You...you're here…"

"Yeah, of course. I'm not going anywhere, I told you." Seeing that Wanda still seemed somewhat exhausted, and concerned about any residual gas still possibly affecting her, he continued, "Hey, I think maybe you should see one of the paramedics, ok?"

Panting, Wanda slowly looked up to Peter's ripped mask before turning towards the direction that the android Mysterio lay unmoving on the sidewalk. Several officers and SWAT were standing around it, discussing whether to leave it for Spidey or contact SHIELD, shocked that it was a robot."

After several moments of catching her breath, she finally and quietly responded, "...if this was only a robot, I'd hate to meet the real Mysterio. You were right, it was...much more than I expected."

"Hey, don't beat yourself up," Peter replied as he helped her back to her feet. "This kind of thing happens; I can't tell you how many times Beck's gotten the jump on me since I first fought him. You snapped out of it, and that's what matters. You managed to fight it off, and you're alright."

The Scarlet Avenger then took note of Peter's appearance, seeing not just the rips caused by the mechanical bats, but also the large tear on his costume's torso. Several bruises colored his exposed flesh, no doubt caused by her hex attacks. Guilt immediately began washing over her. "Are you alright?" she asked in concern.

"Yeah, I'm good," Peter assured her. "I mean, I did fix the costume a week ago, but what can you do? I mean, mechanical bats?" He then saw that that Wanda was looking worriedly at the large tear her hex blast had made over his insignia. "You mean this?" Poking at the tear, he continued, "Nothing a good sewing won't fix. Although, if you want to shoot another one of those hex spells at it, I won't mind at all."

To his surprise, his quip gained no response from Wanda. She instead looked away from him, her gaze instead sweeping over the scene around them. The police, the street and Horizon Labs, the people behind the NYPD barricades looking at them in interest and curiosity, they and the media taking pictures. The destruction she had caused in her hallucinations.

"Wanda? Hey...talk to me. Are you ok?"

"I…," Wanda began but wasn't able to finish. After several moments of looking at the scene before her, she finally sighed and said, "I think I just want to head back to the Mansion."

Peter was surprised at Wanda's tone. Her voice sounded guilt-ridden and ashamed, as if she had done something unforgivable, or been accused of something devastating. She looked completely different from the Wanda he had spent the evening with less than an hour ago. Whatever she had seen under the influence of the Mysterio android's hallucinogen had obviously rattled her, and it was clear that Wanda sought to retreat away into the only comfort zone she knew to get away from that. Peter understood, and would respect that.

"Yeah. Yeah, ok. Don't worry, I'll take you back to the Mansion. I'll...let me just have the cops leave the robot in my lab here inside Horizon and I'll take you back."

Wanda barely nodded in response. Peter couldn't help but wonder what she had seen to make her like this.


*Avengers Mansion. Upper East Side, Manhattan, NYC. 20 minutes later*

"This is Avengers Mansion. Connections are available to Avengers Tower, the Baxter Building and the New Jean Grey School. This is the last stop of this line. Remember to gather all your belonging, and thank you for riding your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Train."

Except for a small and empty half chuckle, Peter got no reaction from Wanda. With a graceful swing, the Amazing Avenger landed onto the lawn of the Mansion grounds without a sound, Wanda holding onto him. The windows were all dark, save for a light here and there from several of them. Wanda slowly eased out of Peter's grip, still shaken from what had happened earlier, what she had seen and heard. She had been silent since voicing her desire to return home.

Home? After what she had done to the Avengers?

"Ya know," Peter said, "that wasn't a bad first team up at all. We should do this kind of thing more often. I mean, imagine the two of us taking on Sandman? We should make it another thing of ours, eh?"

Despite Peter's effort, he couldn't get anything out of Wanda. He could only assume that her mood and rattled form were a result of whatever she had seen because of the Mysterio android's hallucinogenic gas. He could practically feel the shame and guilt from her since they left Horizon Labs. He wouldn't try to force her to talk about it if she didn't want to, but he wanted to show Wanda that he was there for her nonetheless.

"Wanda? Are you alright?"

Wanda lowered her head, unable to look Peter in the eye. The hateful words of the Witch and Maximoff of the House of M still rang in her mind, both women's screams still in her ears, their hateful looks still in her eyes. "It's my fault."

Peter blinked. "Wait, what?"

"The Scarlet Witch from the Avengers' prime, and Lady Maximoff of the House of M." Wanda slowly gripped her elbow, her eyes beginning to sting with unshed tears. "I saw them when I was under the gas' influence. The woman I was when I...when Doom used me to destroy the Avengers and mutantkind. They said it was all my fault, that I'm to blame for the Decimation of mutantkind….that I...I made those women do what they did, that it was my own fault for what I did. I corrupted who I was."

"Wanda" Peter said calmly, placing both his hands on Wanda's shoulders. "Wanda, look at me." He got no answer at first, but Wanda then hesitantly raised her head up to look at him. "You know that that's not true."

"...what if it is?" Wanda whispered in guilt, tears beginning to slowly fall. "Every time something like this happened, the enemy comes for me. Doom, the Red Skull...what if it's my fault for letting it happen to me?"

Taking his mask off, Peter looked directly at Wanda. "Wanda, I want you to listen to me. What happened wasn't your fault. What they did to you wasn't your fault. You were controlled, manipulated, and that doesn't make you weak or anything like that. It's happened to the best of us; it's happened to me more than a few occasions. You can't let those things define you, though. That was then, but this is now. What happened, it's already done, but have something most don't: a chance to fix it, make it right again. You can fix what happened, like how you helped restore mutantkind. Wanda, it's not our worst moments that define us, but how we rise up from them."

Peter sighed, glancing off at the distance with his own words reflecting his own life and trials, how he lived and acted as Spider-Man. More than ever, he could see just how similar they were in this aspect.

"You can't let yourself be defined by what happened in the past. I mean, you used to be Brotherhood, but people remember you as one of the greatest of Avengers. You overcame it then, and you can do the same now. You're Wanda Maximoff, the Scarlet Witch. One of the greatest heroes alive, one of the greatest Avengers to be on the team."

Peter slowly wiped Wanda's tears from her cheeks, an encouraging smile on his face. "And Avengers always stand tall and strong against all odds, no matter what."

Hearing Peter's words, Wanda couldn't help but feel encouraged by them. He had said almost the same thing when they had spoken in that elevator in Avengers Tower days ago, but it seemed to mean so much more in this moment. Wanda felt uplifted and supported. And Peter was right: she couldn't let these tragedies take hold of her, define her. They were not who she was; she was what she made of herself in spite of them. She was an Avenger, after all, mighty in not just power but in spirit, will and mind.

Taking several deep breaths to soothe herself, Wanda nodded, a small but real smile forming. "...Ok," she sighed. "You're right, Peter. I'm sorry. You...you're right."

"But hey, that doesn't mean you have to face this all on your own, ok? I meant what I said earlier, Wanda. Whenever you need, I'll be there to assemble with you; count on it."

And that, Wanda couldn't help but laugh softly. Nonetheless, she truly was grateful for Peter's friendship and support. It meant the world to her to have someone who was so willing to be there for her when she needed it. It was a simple statement, yet so profound. "I would really appreciate that, Peter. Thank you for that, and thank you for the support."

Then, to the surprise of Peter and even herself, the Scarlet Avenger wrapped her arms around him, burying her face into his shoulder. Though momentarily surprised, Peter met the action in full, wrapping her in his own hug. To her own surprise, Wanda found herself comfortable in Peter's arms, safe and cared for.

She mattered.

"Thank you, Peter, for everything," Wanda said softly.

"You're welcome, Wanda," Peter replied with a smile.

The two Avengers stayed that way for a while, content with their actions. It seemed right, and they were reluctant to let go. But of course, they eventually did.

"I suppose I should be heading inside," Wanda sighed. "Thank you again for a wonderful evening. Goodnight, Peter."

"Goodnight, Wanda," Peter replied with a smile, putting his mask back on. "I'll see you around...tomorrow, actually. I'll pass by the Mansion after work; see you then." With that, Peter turned and leapt up over the Mansion grounds wall, swinging off into Manhattan, off to do what he did best. A change of costume probably wouldn't hurt, either. What would criminals say?

And Wanda simply stood there, watching as he swung off to protect his city, a smile on her face and gratitude in her heart.

"See you then, Peter."


This was supposed to come out much earlier, so sorry, guys. In all honesty, the dialogue between Peter and Wanda was the most difficult to get onto the page. They're unique characters, and even after all this time, I'm not sure I really did it right. Getting the scenes down was also a bitch, but not as much as the dialogue.

...finally getting into the Contest of Champion game may or may not have contributed as well.

So a few of you suggested that when Peter and Wanda team up, they should face Mysterio. And it made sense, so I figured, why not? I wholeheartedly agreed with the idea. The problem was that canonically, Spider-Men had already happened and since Mysterio was still stuck in the Ultimate-verse, I figured I'd borrow an idea from the Spectacular Spider-Man show and use the robot duplicate idea.

Regarding the fight, I figured most would expect Wanda to help Spidey get a difficult but well-earned win against Mysterio. I was initially going to do so, but I ultimately decided that this was actually the better idea. Wanda exposed to his hallucinogenic gases would really force her to face her demons like never before, after all. I think this was the right way to go.

Alright, so there's that. Remember to leave those reviews and stuff. I really want to know what you all thought of this one, because I'm doubtful if I did Wanda and Peter justice.

Until next time, readers.