Thank you all so much for following this story, but this is where it ends... for now :P Read and enjoy, there's a couple of surprises in store...
Five months later
Peter was just about dead inside. His heart, once stronger than his abnormal abilities, was shattered into tiny fragments in his chest. Five months hadn't eased the pain, not even a little bit. It was like he was drowning, yet it took forever for his lungs to fill up. It was an endless torture. Grief was cruel, but grieving for two people at the same time only doubled the pain.
He spent most of his time at Gwen's grave. He couldn't tell her just how sorry he was. He told her that simple word over and over, yet somehow it didn't mean anything anymore. Sorry was just a word, it didn't change anything. It didn't bring her back. It didn't tell him where Claudia was. It was just an empty word that would never bring him closure.
Claudia had gone missing on the night of Gwen's death. The only evidence of her existence was the pool of blood where Peter had left her on that fateful night. Police guessed that, judging by the smears of blood and red footprints, Claudia had gotten up on her own accord. Peter knew why. She'd gotten up to try and help, even when she was dying. She would have wanted to help Peter in that fight with Harry, or to help Gwen get out of that situation, but he never told this to the police. As a result, they believed that Claudia had gotten up to go and die in peace. They still searched for her nonetheless, but it wouldn't be long because the case went cold.
Peter never stopped searching, though. He looked for Claudia every night. He went back to her home, which was now cold and empty. Her bed was still unmade from when she had last slept in it, the answer phone still shone a red number one which was the last message Martha ever left; there was still the pizza in the freezer that Martha had mentioned. Peter could often feel them there, still bickering, still watching TV together or eating together. It was cold without them, yet their ghosts still remained. It just got harder and harder to go back to a home that he had spent the last year spending his time in.
He refused to let the landlord sell it. He refused to let anything in the place be touched. This was the Thatcher's home, no one else's. Peter Parker firmly believed that Claudia would be coming home, and he would make sure she had a home to come back to.
He knew that most believed she was dead; even his Aunt May, who had grieved and grieved until she was out of tears, had given up on any hope of Claudia's return. She never told Peter this but he knew she had given up. Five months was too long. If she hadn't died on that night, what chance was there of being alive now? He knew the odds. He knew the doubts outweighed the hopes. Yet he felt it in his heart that she was still okay, that her little heart was stronger than ever in her chest. He knew that her huge personality was one of the toughest things for anyone to break, and there was no way she had given up this easily. She was alive, he was sure of it.
Peter wanted to blame Harry Osborn for all of this. He wanted it to be his fault, wanted it to be him that paid for his actions. Yet, much to his own annoyance, he couldn't blame Harry any more than he could blame Max Dillon. His best friend had been unstable even when he was a kid, so his actions were beyond anyone's control on that night. He was an angry, hateful, lost soul that had given in to the bad. At least now he was locked away in Ravencroft Institute, where he couldn't even be of harm to himself, let alone others.
As he sat at Gwen's grave, he couldn't help but think how annoyed at him she'd be. He'd let go of being Spiderman since it happened. He couldn't face it. He needed time to grieve and move on, so being his alter ego was not going to aid him in that. Gwen would have hit him for that.
It sucks, she would say, but people need you, so grow a pair, get out there and be the man people need you to be. What hurt though was that he could no longer remember her voice. He couldn't remember Claudia's voice, either. He wanted to hate himself for it, but then again, wasn't that a sign of moving on?
No. He couldn't move on from Claudia. How could he give up on her? She needed him more than ever, and here he was forgetting what her voice sounded like!
"God," he groaned, running his hands through his un-kept hair. "What do I do? Tell me what to do!"
Of course, no one answered him. Not Gwen, not Claudia, no one.
The clouds rolled over, thick and a miserable grey. The sudden gusts of wind tousled his hair and chilled his skin, but it hardly mattered. Peter stayed there all afternoon, even when the rain began to pour down on him without mercy.
And then his phone rang. When he answered, he couldn't believe his ears. He thought it was all just a dream. But, for a moment, hope was restored.
Five months and still nothing.
Her legs and wrist had healed, there was no brain damage, and everything was healthy. But she hadn't woken up. She'd been in a coma for five months with no sign of waking up. Martha Thatcher might never wake up, and It was killing him.
Connor Young had promised to help her, and look where that had gotten her? Alone in a hospital bed, unaware of her sister's disappearance, with only him to wake up to should she ever wake up. She'd hate him. Claudia Thatcher had very little chance at being alive now, and Martha would surely loathe him for it. The one thing she had ever wanted was for her sister to be safe, and Connor had only gone and failed in doing just that. He could only do the next best thing for her.
She needed a familiar, friendly face for when she did wake up.
He dreaded that day, though. Not only was her sister gone, but he had also given her a new identity to ensure her safety. According to the hospital charts, she was no longer Martha Thatcher. No, she was Amelia Turner, the lucky survivor of a car accident that was not linked to the night of Max Dillon's rampage or Gwen Stacy's murder. She was a complete innocent who had hit unfortunate events.
He doubted Claudia was alive; he'd watched her stumble when that bullet had pierced her skin. If only she had run sooner. He couldn't help but think that it was his fault, from the car crash to the vanishing of Claudia. He'd only wanted to help, and somehow things had only gotten worse. The least he could do was sister with Martha and talk to her, just so that she didn't feel so alone in her endless sleep. A part of him wished she would just die to save her the agony of waking up. He didn't want that, though, not really; he liked her too much. After months of analysing, months of watched the Thatchers grow stronger even though life had pulled them down, he couldn't help but want to get to know them, especially Martha.
Pulling her out of that car had been the most sickening thing he had ever had to do. She'd moaned with pain, but she was so far gone that the sound was as quiet as a heartbeat. It had been enough to urge him to ring an ambulance, who had told him she was supposed to be dead after a crash like that. But she wasn't dead. She was alive because she was a fighter, nothing more and nothing less. Fighters never gave up.
So, as he had waited for the ambulance to arrive, punching the bastard who had shot Claudia had seemed more than acceptable. He had stumbled over to him, cursing wildly while demanding that he hand Martha over, so of course he was just about done by that point. He'd stood up and hung over the young woman protectively, levelling his gaze with the man who had caused this, and punched him so hard that he had broken the man's jaw; that was more than satisfying.
But it hardly mattered now. It hadn't aided Martha or Claudia, but satisfied his hatred. There was only so much violence that could calm Connor's nerves.
The knock at the door pulled Connor out of his thoughts. The boy standing there prompted him to rise from his seat beside Martha's bed, cautious in his movements. The boy looked exhausted with grief, the shadows under his eyes dark, his skin pale and his brown hair un-kept. It was a pitiful sight. But, as those tired eyes took in the scene before him, from Connor's face to the young woman lying unconscious in the bed, Connor's heart began to thud loudly with unease.
"All this time and… and she was alive?" Peter Parker whispered.
"Yes." Connor said, his voice thick. "She's been unconscious ever since she was brought in."
"Why didn't I know sooner?"
"To protect her. Five months seemed like long enough." Connor took in a deep breath. "She's not Martha anymore. Amelia is her name now."
"Because as far as Oscorp knows, Martha died that night." Connor looked down at Martha, who still slept soundly, oblivious to the tension in the room. "No sign of Claudia?"
It took Peter a full minute to answer. "No."
"She could be alive."
"She is alive," Peter snarled. "I know she is." Connor could only nod respectfully. He watched as the boy moved into the room, his eyes faithfully on Martha. Connor hastily moved out of the way, giving him room to sit in the seat provided. Peter carefully took Martha's pale hand in his, the little tubes embedded under her skin making the boy swallow hard. The room was filled with the electronic beep of Martha's heart, the only sound to bring any kind of comfort.
"Will she ever wake up?" Peter whispered.
"I don't know." Connor whispered back. "But if what they say about coma patients is true, I thought she'd want a friend to talk to rather than a stranger."
A few minutes passed, and Connor prepared to take his leave.
"Who are you?" Peter asked.
"Connor Young." he answered automatically. Another few moments went by.
"Thank you for protecting her."
"It was the least I could do." Connor said. "Let me know if she wakes; you have my number."
With a final nod from an incredibly sad young man, Connor left. The only thing he could do now was wait for a call that he would probably never receive. He thought that the only thing that would bring her out of her coma was her sister, and the hope of her coming back was next to none.
Harry Osborn grinned at his distorted reflection. It amused him. After months of being trapped in a tiny cell while being trapped in a straightjacket, it was hard not to be amused by the littlest things. It was maddening in here, but everyone was already convinced of him being insane. What was better was that they were encouraging it. They wanted to study him when he had an outbreak, when his other side surfaced with deadly ferocity. He let them write down notes and provoke him, because when it came down to it, it only told him just what he was capable of.
But there was something else on his mind.
Claudia Thatcher was presumed dead by the rest of the world. For a while, after being found beside the body of Gwen Stacy, she did die. Her fiery heart had stopped beating and her breath was trapped in her bleeding lungs. The blood had stopped flowing through her body, her eyes had stopped seeing. For a few minutes, she had been a corpse. It had infuriated him. She needed to live. She had to survive because she belonged to him now. She'd betrayed him, and the only way to make her pay was to claim her as his own. If she was his, she would do whatever he said. If she belonged to him, he could cause even more pain on the people who deserved it. If Claudia finally let go on her good nature, she would be Peter Parker's worst nightmare.
They had managed to revive her long enough to inject her. They'd had to lie her down on a metal slab, as well as restrain her because they knew what the injection would do to her. They'd poked the needle into her throat, but it had taken five injections to get her heart going strongly again. Once that happened, her body had begun to spasm, and her mouth opened to release the agonised screams that she was probably unaware of. The procedure had been messy, bloody and loud, but it had saved her life.
What had she been injected with? Harry smiled. His blood, of course. His rotten, poisoned blood was what saved her life.
He hadn't heard anything from her for months, but she was still in the building. But that was about to change. Maybe it wasn't his reflection that made him grin. Maybe it was the idea of reuniting with Claudia that had him smiling.
The door behind him opened, but he didn't bother turning; he could see in the reflection. The shadow man, he called him. A man whose face he had never seen, hidden by the shadow cast over his face because of the hat he always wore. Identity didn't matter. It was the news that he had to bring that mattered.
"How ready?" Harry asked. The shadow man chuckled darkly.
"She hates you, that's for sure."
"I feel like there's more to it."
"But she's demanding to see you." he said. "She screams for you in her sleep. At first it used to be her loved ones that she screamed for, but now it's just you."
"Bring her to me."
The door closed. It took ten minutes before opened again, and Harry found himself giddy with excitement.
He turned around the second time the door opened. The shadow man lingered behind her, but he no longer mattered. Claudia, grasped by two guards on each arm while her wrists were bound together, stood with her head down. She wore inmate clothes that were too big, her feet were bare, and her hair was shorter than he remembered, barely reaching the curve between her neck and her shoulders. She was shaking, her breathing coming hard and laboured. Was it anger, or did it hurt to stand? He smiled either way.
"Hello, Claudia." He said pleasantly. At his voice, the girl's head shot up. It took him aback. Her eyes, once a brilliant blue, were glittered with glowing green flecks. A scar damaged the skin of her cheek, and sweat glistened on her skin and ran down her temples like tears.
And, when she lunged forward while dragging the two guards off their feet, she was no longer frail.
They managed to restrain her before she could reach him, and Harry could only laugh. Loudly, he demanded to be freed of the straightjacket. It took a moment of hesitance before the shadow man pushed his way into the cell, avoiding Claudia as much as possible. The girl's glowing eyes never left Harry while the straightjacket was taken off him, and her breathing never eased. She didn't even look human anymore.
"Leave us." Harry ordered. The shadow man stiffened.
"I don't think that's–"
"Do as I say." Harry snapped. The shadow man nodded, taking the straightjacket with him as he left. Harry prepared himself. The moment the guards released the girl, they didn't need to push her into the cell; she threw herself inside, shrieking in rage. The door slammed shut just before she reached him.
Harry was silent but efficient, grabbing the metal chain between her cuffs. He stood in the same moment, spinning her until her back slammed against the wall. She cried out in frustration rather than pain. Thrashing, she did all she could to try and bite, scratch, kick and punch, but Harry was too fast and her bound wrists prevented her from doing much. She slung her to the cold ground, her shrieks and the rattling of the chains loud in his ears. A hand around her throat, his knee in her gut and his other hand tight on her hair, he had her pinned down hard enough that it was a struggle for her to breathe.
"You'll get better." he promised her in her ear. She was panting, giving the odd struggle here and there as he spoke to her. She was like a rabbit at the mercy of a fox. "You should be a little bit grateful, Claudia; I saved your life, even though you did betray me." He got a growl in response. "Ah, I suppose what happened to Gwen is what had you hating me so much. My bad."
He smiled. "And I bet that you're pretty pissed that Peter hasn't come to save you yet, aren't you? Your dashing hero won't be coming for you. The whole of New York thinks you're as dead as the rest of your family; it won't be long before they give you a memorial service. But who will remember you? Peter's given up, Gwen's gone, your whole family is dead; who will come to say their goodbyes to you?"
She went still. He looked over, and while her shining green eyes were still wild, they leaked tears that dripped onto the concrete floor.
"Even if you were to go home, you won't be the same girl everyone remembers you as. You're stronger, cleverer, and faster. You have my blood in your veins. There's no telling what more secrets your body has for us. You can't go home; you'll be a danger to others. Besides, you need me. We're connected now, you and me." He tenderly stroked her cheek, following her cheekbone before teasing the scared tissue of her cheek. "Together, we could be unstoppable."
"What else do you have to lose?" he whispered. "Peter doesn't care anymore; he thinks you're dead. Spiderman's gone, Gwen's gone, Martha's gone. You have nothing left." He grinned. "Nothing but me."
He released her. Harry half expected her to lunge for him again, but instead she just lay there for a while. Then, still panting and shaking madly, she stumbled to her feet and moved to the other side of the cell, as far away from Harry as she could get. She huddled herself into the corner, legs drawn to her chest while her chained hands gripped her bare feet. She never stopped shaking. Her eyes stayed as wide as a traumatized cat. She was slowly but surely losing her mind.
Harry moved himself to sit opposite her. He stared endlessly, watching her gnaw on her lip until it bled. Given time, she would be his. She hated him now, she would probably hate him forever, but he could tame her. He could poison her mind. He could give her abilities beyond her imagination. Greed was stronger than love, power was the undoing of every human. He would give her everything, and she would fall into the palm of his hand.
Spiderman would die.
Claudia Thatcher was Harry Osborn's deadliest weapon.
People were going to pay.
I will probably do a follow up when the next film comes out, but until then you can all come up with your own ideas ;) Thanks again for supporting me, has meant a lot and its been a pleasure to write for you all :D