Disclaimer: I don't own, I have not owned, and I never will own any of the stuff in this story...but after all this it kinda feels like I do :)
*A single tear traces down my cheek* Yep. It is finished. The last chapter! YAAAAAAAAAY! But also, not yay. Cuz it's kinda sad. I've been working on this since July last summer, so it's crazy to think that it's over finally. I really hope you all have enjoyed it as much as I have. I have so much to rant about that I'm saving for the end, so for now, please read the final chappie of my story. I hope it satisfies :)
The elderly woman held out the plate for him expectantly.
"Oh, come on, dearie! Just one bite?"
"No," he repeated, fuming in his chair.
"But they're good for you! They make your eyes healthy, and your body strong! You do want to grow up to be a big, strong, healthy young man, don't you?"
The little boy pouted furiously. "No! I'm already strong! What I want is for you to leave, so my real babysitter can come!"
Ms. Carrie sighed exasperatedly. "Dawson, honey, we've been over this—"
The weary lady rolled her eyes. "Spider-Dawson. I told you already, Spider-Man is not coming to watch you. He's far too busy running around the city, causing a mayhem, and being the usual menace to society that he always is." She shook her head disappointedly. "I can't imagine why your parents would fill your head with the idea of that masked hooligan being some kind of hero, but trust me, dearie—he's not a good guy. He's just like any other crook off the street who hides behind a mask. I do hope the police catch him soon."
Dawson sprang from his chair. "No! You're wrong! Spider-Man is a hero, the best one! I know it, because I met him!"
Ms. Carrie let out a laugh. "Oh, of course you did, dearie. Well, if Spider-Man was a good guy, he would definitely want you to eat your carrots so you can grow up to be big and strong. All good little heroes eat their vegetables, and you're no exception." She picked up one of the hideously orange roots and held it up to Dawson's lips, which were pursed firmly shut. "Come now, dearie. Open wide."
Dawson kept his mouth closed a moment longer, and his eyes wandered wistfully to stare out on the roof as the sun slowly began to sink behind the industrial skyline. It had been almost a month since Spider-Man had saved he and his family from the giant alligator chimera during the monster invasion, followed by them having to rescue Spidey from drowning and tend to his many injuries, yet the memory still felt painfully fresh in his mind. Ever since he had left in a hurry, Dawson had hoped with all his heart that he would return so they could play and have fun together like before. Spider-Man had been like the older brother he'd always wanted, even if he had only spent less than an hour with him, and he missed him terribly. And the fact that his parents had to resort back to calling over the wretched Ms. Carrie to watch him made his loneliness sting all the more. He glanced down at the disheveled action figure lying on the floor and the crumpled Spider-Man costume overflowing out of his toy box, then sighed miserably. With a look of defeat, Dawson finally opened his mouth, and Ms. Carrie, smiling in triumph, leaned forwards jubilantly.
The sudden chime of the doorbell startled her from her diligence, and she glanced up in surprise. With a huff, Ms. Carrie placed the carrot in his hand and rose to her feet.
"One moment, dearie. By the time I get back, that whole thing better be in your tummy!"
As the elderly woman shuffled across the room, Dawson stared at the vegetable in his palm, stuck out his tongue, then dropped it back onto his plate in disgust. He knew Spider-Man would never force him to eat carrots. He was far too cool for that: if he was still around, anyway.
Composing herself, Ms. Carrie swiped a silver hair out of her face, unlocked the door, and carefully cracked it open. What she found on the other side surprised her.
A young man stood in the hallway that she did not recognize. He was relatively tall and lanky, and had brunette hair that sprouted from his head in a charmingly unkept way. His brown eyes were soft and welcoming, yet seemed to be shadowed by a haunted weariness, despite the fact that he looked only to be in his late teens. He still, however, maintained a quirky sort of awkwardness as he offered her a nervous smile and shouldered his shabby backpack. He, too, appeared slightly surprised by her appearance.
"Well hello, dearie," Ms. Carrie finally greeted him, curling up the sides of her crinkled lips into a ghost of a smile. "And what is it that you might be needing?"
The boy glanced at the room number distractedly before speaking. "Uh, hello ma'am. How's it going?" She gave him a weird sort of nod, so he just continued. "You see, I was in the neighborhood, and I was just thinking that I might—" He checked the room number again, as if it had magically changed in the last four seconds, then looked back at her in puzzled defeat. "I'm sorry, is this the Stevens' apartment? Or am I just completely off my whack right now?"
Ms. Carrie nodded. "Why, yes it is. I'm afraid Mr. and Mrs. Stevens are out at the moment, however." She glanced over her shoulder, a slight irritation entering her voice. "I'm here watching Dawson in their absence. He's quite the little…well, you know how children are." She smiled back at him cheerlessly. "How do you know the Stevenses?"
He let out a skittish laugh, trying to find the right words. "Well…I'm a family friend. I, uh, I bumped into them a while back, and we all hit it off really well. Especially Dawson and I."
At this she raised her eyebrows. "You and Dawson, hmm? You like spending time with him? You two are close?"
He shrugged his shoulders. "Well, yeah. Of course. Who doesn't enjoy the little tike? I mean, uh, I haven't seen him in a while, so we aren't super close, but that's why I was coming over today—to see him and his family." He retreated a bit. "But, um, if his parents aren't here and you're busy and all, then I could just come back later and—"
Ms. Carrie suddenly let out a painfully jubilant laugh, which sort of startled him, and grasped his hands in her own gnarled ones. "Oh, certainly not! I'm sure he'd love to see you, probably so much more so than me. I'm quite old and tired, as you can see, and he's such a rambunctious little brat. It's hard for me to keep up with for four hours straight."
He chuckled nervously, knowing well where she was going with this and knowing he couldn't comply, but was a little off-set by the fact that she wouldn't let go of his hands, like she was afraid he'd scurry away if she gave him an inch. "Well, uh, I wouldn't want to cause you any more trouble—"
"Nonsense!" she insisted, pulling him closer to the doorway. "If you're a family friend, I'm sure they wouldn't mind you sticking around for a while." A wily sparkle seemed to flash in her eyes. "In fact, I'm very much due for a nap, and I'm sure my babies next door are missing their mama so much. I hate to be so curt, but would it be too much trouble, dearie, if I asked you to takeover babysitting him so that this weary old soul could rest for the remainder of the afternoon?"
The two of them both knew that she had him trapped now, although it wasn't that that bothered him. He was more than happy to watch Dawson and spend some time with him. The only problem was that Dawson didn't know who he was without his mask on, and he didn't want to freak him out by just waltzing in as some stranger to watch him as his parents were out. Except now, he was beginning to run out of other available options. He forced a smile to spread across his face, masking his inner anxiety, and tried to formulate in his mind some polite way to refuse the old woman's proposal, when out of nowhere she dragged him inside the apartment.
"Come on now, dearie! You look like a young, lively, compassionate young man with time on his hands! You can just tell his parents that I was feeling under the weather and that you offered to cover for me. I'll even let you take the pay for the job."
He swallowed hastily. "Uh, well, I'm not sure if—"
"Oh, don't be so shy!" she exclaimed rather rudely, then glanced over her shoulder at the little blonde boy sitting at the table. "Dawson, dearie, listen to me. This kind friend of yours will be watching you for the rest of the day. Behave for him, alright? Your parents will be home by four."
Before Dawson could even lift his eyes, Ms. Carrie had already turned back to face the stranger, beaming up at him almost evilly. "Thank you for your help, and I do hope this can become a regular thing!" With that, she grabbed up her purse, slipped into the hallway, and slammed the door shut behind herself. With his enhanced hearing, he listened to her mumble excitedly about watching soap operas with her cats before she shuffled down the corner and out of range. He blinked in shock, wondering how he had scored himself in this situation so suddenly, then turned back around with hesitance.
Peter Parker faced the young kid from across the room. Plopped down in his seat at the table, Dawson stared back at him with a puzzled expression spread across his innocent face. He looked as adorable as he remembered, with his gently rounded face and big, curious eyes, although he swore he had grown a little bit in the past month since he'd seen him. He had no idea what to do. Peter's original plan for visiting the Stevenses had been to simply speak to them with his stake as Spider-Man's personal photographer for the Daily Bugle, seeing that Jameson had somehow had enough kindness in his shallow heart to let him keep his job, to deliver a message of gratitude on behalf of the wall-crawler for everything they'd done for him, as well as to check to make sure that they were all alright after the chimera invasion. As much as he'd love to pop in and say hi dressed in his familiar red and blue spidey suit, he was troubled by the fact that repeated visitations from their friendly neighborhood superhero might draw some dangerous attention to the family. He felt it was cruel of him to endanger them in any way, especially after all that they'd done for him. But he just couldn't keep himself from coming over to see them, even if they didn't know who he was. Only now, he had gotten himself into quite a pickle, and he began to question if this had been such a good idea.
"I don't know you," Dawson said all of sudden, his voice surprisingly calm. His eyes were dreary and downcast, and his shoulders were slumped. He rolled the carrots around on his place absentmindedly. Peter recognized this disappointment from the last time they'd met.
Peter offered him his friendliest of smiles. "Don't worry. I met you and your family a while ago. It was kinda far back, though, so that's probably why you don't remember.
Seeming to have accepted this, Dawson continued to mess with his vegetables. After rubbing his palms together restlessly, Peter scratched the back of his head and strolled up to stand beside him, watching his small hands work. He stared around the room, and quickly took notice of the large stockpile of Spider-Man stuff that had been accumulated by the boy in his absence, including toys, clothes, coloring books, and even a plethora of hand-drawn pictures that covered almost the entire surface area of the refrigerator. He blinked slowly, rubbing the back of his neck.
"You like Spider-Man, huh?"
Dawson immediately dropped what he was doing and beamed up at him.
"Yeah! He's awesome! He's my absolute favorite superhero ever!" His excitement disintegrated just as quickly as it had arisen, however. "I met him. I met Spider-Man. No one believes me, but I did. And he was really nice. But…Mommy and Daddy say that he's too busy right now to come back. So I've been waiting really, really, really patiently. But he still hasn't come back, and I really miss him."
Peter was instantly struck with a sickening guilt. It was so unfair of him to neglect the little tike like this, and he hated seeing his innocuous eyes look so sad. It hit him suddenly how very bizarre all of this was—how fond he had become of the kid after just one meeting. Although he viewed him mostly like the little brother he'd never had, this weird necessity to make Dawson happy and to protect him however he could made him vaguely question in the back of his mind if this was what it would be like to have a kid of his own. He remembered Mrs. Stevens asking him about having children before, and how he had quickly shot it down with hastened embarrassment. And yet, although he was only seventeen years old, he realized that the possibility wasn't exactly as far off as he'd imagined. He wondered for a moment if his Spidey powers could be transferred genetically. Then he realized what exactly he was pondering right now, and what that would require between him and Gwen. The idea made his face flush slightly, and he quickly pushed the thoughts out of his mind. He had more pressing matters to deal with.
Revealing Peter Parker as Spider-Man to the entire Stevenses family was probably not a very good idea. Although he trusted them to keep his secret, he just felt in his heart that that was too much of a burden to place on them. But revealing the amazing Spider-Man to be just a regular, nerdy guy to one little kid who idolized him so fondly didn't sound like such a bad thing…
It hadn't done any harm that night with Jack on the bridge, anyway.
"Spider-Man is pretty cool," he finally stated, casually slipping off his backpack and kneeling down to the ground. "But, uh, yeah. He has been really busy lately. Being a superhero and all."
Dawson eyed him curiously. "Do you know Spider-Man?"
Peter couldn't stifle a chuckle. For such a young kid, he was awfully perceptive. "Well…yeah. I guess. You could say that."
His expression brightened vibrantly. "Really? Wow! You know then, right? You know that he's good? Because Ms. Carrie told me he was a bad guy, and so have my friends. But we know he's a good guy, right?"
Peter smiled softly, his head hung low. "Well, he tries to be. But Spider-Man—he's just like you and I, you know. He tries to do the right thing and be a good person. He tries to help people. But sometimes…things just don't work out, and he ends up doing more harm than good." Then he laughed at how ridiculous he was being. "Sorry. I guess it's kinda hard for me to explain, and hard for you to understand."
But Dawson perked up. "No, I get it. It's just like—like when I tried to help Mommy bake a cake for Daddy's birthday. I wanted to help by cracking the eggs into a bowl while she was gone, but you aren't supposed to leave the shells in the bowl, or use all of the eggs in the carton. So I made the cake all gross, and we had to buy one instead." He blinked up at him sheepishly. "Is that what you mean about Spider-Man?"
Peter chuckled softly, and raised his eyes to smile at him genuinely. "Yeah. Exactly." He unzipped his backpack. "Like when Spider-Man tried to help Curt Connors get his arm back, and ended up giving him the equation that turned him into the Lizard, who hurt lots of people. Or when he tried to help the Avengers a while back with the corruption in S.H.I.E.L.D. and Oscorp but ended up being the source of the entire problem." He smiled apologetically. "And…you know, when he met an awesome kid and his family who helped save his life, but made them all sad when he couldn't keep his promise to them. Well, until now, anyway."
Dawson stared back at him with a strong inquisitiveness in his eyes. His lower lip stuck out slightly, and his brow was narrowed as it always was whenever his mind was hard at work. He tilted his head to the side a bit.
"How…how do you know Spider-Man?"
Now grinning, Peter reached far inside his backpack. "How about you close your eyes, and I'll show you."
Dawson blinked in surprise, eyeing Peter's opened backpack down on the floor beside him. Then a confused sort of smile spread across his face, and he covered his eyes with his hands.
Still wondering if this was really a wise decision, Peter took off his over-clothing to reveal his Spider-Man costume underneath, and slipped on his gloves and mask.
"Okay. Open 'em."
Dawson moved his hands, and found himself in an empty room. Again, he blinked his big blue eyes in stunned silence, then glanced left and right, puzzled. Just when he was sure his makeshift babysitter had abandoned him, he felt something stick against his back, and was suddenly lifted high into the air, which incited a cry of surprise to spring from his throat.
"Why, I didn't scare the great Dr. Spider-Dawson, did I?"
When Dawson lifted his wide eyes to stare at Spider-Man kneeling upside-down on the ceiling, after going steady himself, Peter immediately concluded that this had been the right choice. This versus not visiting Dawson as Spider-Man was the decision he knew he wouldn't regret. Because the unsurpassed excitement and joy that consumed Dawson's expression, the brilliant sparkle of hope it lit in his eyes—that was worth any number of problems that this could cause him in the future. He was sure of it.
All afternoon long, the two of them played every sort of childish game imaginable. One being a very difficult version of upside-down catch, another being a contest to see who could spin on their web the longest without laughing (Dawson lost almost every time), and another being extreme four-wall hide-and-seek, to name a few. Dawson was exceptionally pleased when Spider-Man "accidentally" bumped into the table and spilled the carrots all onto the floor so that they obviously had to be thrown away. It was all so very simple and seemingly pointless, but every silly and hysterical moment couldn't have felt more substantial to Peter, because he knew how much it meant to Dawson. The time came around for him to leave, however, and he had to make sure Dawson understood his situation.
"Very few people have seen what I look like without my mask on. I need you to keep it a secret for me that you know. Even from your parents, because it's that important. Can you do that for me?"
"Of course, Spider-Man! I promise! I won't tell anybody."
"Awesome. I'm glad I got to play with you again."
"Me too! It was so fun! Will you—will you be able to come back again sometime? Sometime soon?"
Peter smiled sadly. "I'll do my best, bud. I'll visit you as often as possible. I promise." After today, he had decided that he'd come by to see him more often than he had over the last month, whether by the elevator in his street clothes or via web in his spandex suit, because that's what Dawson deserved, and what both of them wanted. Screw the press—he would just have to be sneaky about it. Looking thoughtful for a moment, he snatched up a pen and notepad from the countertop and scribbled something down on it. Then he placed them back where he'd found them and turned back to Dawson. With a whoop of excitement, Spider-Man scooped him off the floor and threw him into the air, making him squeal with surprise and laughter. When he caught as he fell back down, Dawson wrapped his small arms around him in a fierce hug, which took him by surprise.
"I'll miss you while you're gone, but have fun beating up bad guys!"
Peter chuckled. "Thanks, bud. Maybe the next time I see you, I'll bring a little surprise. Alright?"
"Awesome! See you later!"
Peter could hear Dawson's parents coming down the hallway towards the room, and so with a silly wave to his enthusiastic friend, he slipped out onto the roof, fired a bio-cable at the neighboring flagpole, and went swinging down the street with a cheerful holler. Dawson watched him vanish behind the buildings, his face pressed up against the window, before he heard the door behind him unlock, and he turned around.
The two parents burst in with multiple bags of groceries hanging from their arms, flustered and bedraggled but otherwise warmed by the sight of their son smiling back at them from across the room.
"Hey, darling," his mother said to him, shuffling with effort over to the kitchen and lugging her load onto the counter with a huff of exhaustion. "How was your day?"
Dawson held his hands together behind his back and smiled innocently. "Fine."
His dad dropped off his bounty, then stared around the room in confusion. "Wait—where's Ms. Carrie?"
The young boy picked up his cheaply-made mask from off the floor. "I don't know. She left."
"She left?" Mrs. Stevens repeated, appalled. "You mean, she just left you here all by yourself? Without telling us?"
Dawson shrugged his shoulders carelessly. "Yep!" Then he turned around in one swift movement, snatching up the rest of his Spider-Man costume and marching across the room. "I'm going to go play with my toys now. Bye!"
When their son had gone into his room, the couple shared a look of disbelief.
"Well, guess we're never asking her to watch him again," Mrs. Stevens growled, walking into the kitchen and placing some fruit in the bowl in the refrigerator. Mr. Stevens began sorting through the purchases at the counter.
"I suppose she's getting too old to know how to care for children properly."
"Still, how terrible of her!" she exclaimed, setting a box of Pop Tarts in the pantry. "How could she just leave him like that, without even telling us? She's lucky I'm above filing a lawsuit against someone over eighty years old. Just think of what could've happened to him."
Mr. Stevens snorted. "He seemed pretty happy about it, though."
Judith rolled her eyes. "This isn't funny, Mark. Now we have no one to call to watch him when we're both called in like that. What are we going to do?"
Marcus shrugged his shoulders helplessly and moved one of the bags to the floor. Underneath he discovered a small notepad, the one his wife took notes in to remind herself of what she had to do each day. He was surprised to find that there was a note written on it in handwriting he did not recognize. He picked it up off the counter and read over it intently. He read it again, just to make sure he hadn't somehow imagined the words scribbled across the paper in crisp, swirly cursive. Then he smiled.
"Judith, dear," he grinned, holding out the notepad. "I think I just found the answer to all of our questions."
Mrs. Stevens turned towards her husband, blinking in surprise. She took the book from him, shooting him a puzzled look, and read over the letter. When she had taken a moment to absorb the words, she let out a soft laugh, shaking her head and grinning hysterically.
"I suppose you're right."
She laid the notepad back on the counter, and the two walked across the apartment to Dawson's room. There their son laid flat on his bed, staring up at the ceiling, which all his toys were hanging from on individual web strands, swaying gently in the breeze of the fan. The entire family shared in a bout of laughter, and Dawson timidly explained how Spider-Man had come to watch him instead of Ms. Carrie. He didn't mention seeing Spider-Man's face, though—just as he had promised.
Beside a phone number, in sharp, curly letters, it was written:
Shoot me a call if I'm needed again
~Your Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man
"So, this one's called the Sukhasana pose. It's probably the most basic and well-known, but it really helps to put your body in a state of total relaxation."
"And the scent I'm burning is agarbatti. They're incense sticks from India, and their smell is very soothing, especially after a long and stressful day. Worked wonders for me while I was working in Calcutta. What do you think?"
"Uh...Spider-Man? Are you awake?"
Bruce Banner chuckled softly and gave him a nudge. "Peter?"
Immediately, Peter jolted awake with a start. "Ah! Wha—what? Oh…oh, crap. Did I…?"
Bruce laughed again, patting him lightly on the shoulder. "It's fine, Peter. If you're so relaxed that you're falling asleep, then it's pretty obvious that this is helping to de-stressify you."
Peter chuckled embarrassedly, rubbing at his eyes. "I'm sorry. I didn't—I've never done this kind thing, this yoga meditation or whatever it is stuff before. I've always thought it was kind of…I don't know…something that only old ladies did…?"
Banner snorted amusedly. "Well, it's not exactly the most manly thing in the world. But after developing my little tick of turning into a giant green rage monster at the slightest emotional imbalance, I thought it wouldn't hurt to give it a try. Although keeping myself busy with my science and research and Avengers stuff helps keep my mind off things for the most part, a little bit of relaxation on the side helps me stay cool. And since you're sort of dealing with a similar issue after that fight with Scorpion, I figured it could help you, too."
Peter coughed a little on the pungent aroma that blanketed the room in a heavy lull. "Yeah, no, I gotcha. Thanks for trying, haha. I'm just not so sure if this sort of thing is really…my style." He laid back against the wall, combing his fingers through his hair. Although having The Other still inside of him was kind of scary, Peter had grown pretty well accustomed to it, even without the help of Bruce Banner's silly yoga stuff. Keeping the beast's wrath contained within himself had almost become second-nature, so long as something didn't anger him enough to bring him to the point of completely losing it, and that certainly wasn't happening on a regular basis. His will over its fury was powerful, and he had learned to accept it with some helpful tips from his fellow two-sided science geek, including how to remain calm and in control. Bruce had tried to explain to him that he could also remain in a constant state of anger in order to never allow his anger to take him by surprise, thus keeping him from turning as easily, but that sounded very undesirable. Besides, the residence of The Other inside of him as it was now granted him an enhancement in his spidey powers which made him more capable of protecting people, and he figured that was fair trade in exchange for a little paranoia. He had developed a strange acceptance for his savage spider side, one that made him confident that he could keep it at bay, although he knew he would always feel the itch of its presence residing inside of himself—a constant reminder that he had to contain its beastly wrath, yet at the same time a memento to the adversity he had overcome, and a reminder to hold true to the responsibility bestowed upon him.
Banner shrugged and pressed his palms together, closing his eyes and narrowing his brow. "Hm. Teenagers. Think they're too cool for anything these days."
Peter chuckled as he slowly rose to his feet, stretching his arms over his head. "My free track is up now, anyway. Gotta head back to school."
"Oh, sucks to be you," Bruce said with a laugh. "Well, you should stop by again later this week. Stark and I have been working on some pretty fun stuff recently: redeveloping Avengers Tower's arc reactor to work on a broader scale, studying designs for some new suits Tony has envisioned, and some other sciencey stuff that I'm sure you'd be interested in. We could definitely use your input."
Peter grinned. "Sounds cool. I'll have to come whenever I have the time. Gwen would kill me if I didn't let her tag along, though, so sorry if she invades the man cave."
Banner smirked. "I thought that was implied at this point."
After slipping on his backpack, Peter opened the door with a grin. "Guess so. See you around, then."
Once across the room, Tony waved him off with a quirky salute as he downed a cup of over-embellished coffee. Since the chimera attack had been resolved, the Avengers had gone back to whatever it was they did outside of their super secret boy band business, all in waiting for the tip-off from Fury for their next Earth-defying mission. So minus the occasional drop in from one of the other teammates, Tony and Bruce were really the only two Avengers left in Avengers Tower. Banner had decided to stick around and work with Tony on science stuff after everyone had left, and Peter joined the two geniuses in their lab whenever he had the chance. On their best days their productivity was radical—they designed reflector panels for Tony's armor to make it become nearly invisible, invented spider-tracer gadgets to be placed around the city that Bruce wired to trigger Peter's spidey sense when there was danger in different areas, created a heart monitor for Banner to wear on his wrist that would inject sedatives into his blood whenever his heart rate reached dangerously high levels, sparred with one another to keep their fighting skills refined (well, mainly Stark and Peter, seeing that the Hulk didn't need nor want to practice), and on their "best" days the trio stayed up until four binge-watching Doctor Who or The Big Bang Theory while shoveling candy and Doritos down their throats. Seeing that he'd spent the majority of his free time with his two favorite women before now, it was fun for Peter to have guys to hang with for a change.
After rolling his eyes and shaking his head, Peter strolled onto the balcony, slipped on his Spider-Man mask, then hopped over the edge and web-zipped back towards his school, which squatted amongst the crowded buildings like a glorious monument to the misery of Midtown's adolescent population.
The final bell of the day tolled, and Peter was quick to slip out of class and into the stream of teens flooding through the hallway. While following the hurried flow, Peter eyed his old history classroom that was still under repairs after having a truck crash through it and the walls completely cave in on themselves. The rest of the school after Hulk's little mishap had only suffered minor damages, so class had finally resumed after a three-week cancellation period. Peter couldn't help but smirk as he passed by the room, remembering all the trouble that day had caused him, and what it had led him into.
After emptying a mountain of books into his backpack, Peter shut his locker, more than ready to get home, when he suddenly found himself facing a familiar blonde jockey, and halted in surprise.
"Oh, uh, hey Flash," Peter stuttered, not really sure if he was still sick with the weirdly-nice bug or if he had descended back to his usual jerky self. But after examining the very serious expression on his face, he wondered if neither was the case.
"Hey Parker," Flash finally answered, dropping his gaze distractedly to the floor. He glanced around for a moment, heaved a sigh, then continued. "I just wanted to…I never thanked you for before. You know, for…saving my life and all. That truck would've squished me if you hadn't pushed me out of the way. Thank you for that."
Peter shouldered his backpack a bit awkwardly. "Yeah, no, sure. No problem. Glad I was quick enough."
Flash chuckled slightly and rubbed the back of his neck. "I gotta admit, that was a pretty solid tackle. Never seen anybody move that fast before in my life. Ever consider trying out for football next year?"
Peter laughed out loud. "Uh, thanks, but I think I'll stick with what I'm good at, which doesn't involve my spine being snapped in half by two-hundred pound gorillas."
He snorted at that, but the sharp serious still lingered in the back of his eyes. He stared down at the t-shirt he was wearing with the Spider-Man emblem on it, rubbing his palms together absentmindedly. "I, uh, I met Spider-Man. On the day the Hulk attacked the school. He was here after everyone had cleared out."
Peter forced a smile to spread across his face, trying to mask his kindling anxiety, and injected his voice with feigned excitement. "Really? In the school? Again? Wow, um, that's awesome! Uh, too bad I wasn't there with my camera. Would've made for a cool front-page photo."
"He's a lot smaller than I thought he'd be," Flash continued without acknowledging Peter's reply, "and his voice doesn't sound how I thought it would. And it was weird, the way he just showed up out of nowhere after everyone had gone."
A lump had formed in his throat that Peter felt he couldn't swallow, and he ran his fingers through his hair while avoiding eye contact. "Y-yeah. I've heard that too. I mean, about him. Spider-Man. That he's not what people expect in person. Pictures really don't do the guy any justice, but hey, I get paid for them nonetheless."
"He's definitely not what I was expecting," Flash admitted, hinting a grin, "but he's still really cool. He fought the Hulk, that green armor thing, and all of those freaky monsters, and now he's right back to doing his regular crime-fighting. I heard he's even on the Avengers now. And he must have to do something else to earn money in order to, like, eat and live and whatnot. And I'm sure he's got a life outside of being a hero, since he wears a mask and all. Even for a guy who's got freaky spider powers or whatever, the dude must be wiped. Don't you think?"
Peter noticed that Flash was eyeing the dark bruises abounding his neck and face that he'd procured the night before from a squabble with a robber, who had been startlingly quick and ninja-like and had managed to land a few good ones on him before meeting his match, and Peter pulled up at his collar in a not-so-subtle fashion. "Yeah. Sure. I don't know." He narrowed his eyes slightly. "What's this about, anyway?"
Flash stayed quiet for a terrifyingly long moment, seeming to analyze every little detail of his rigid face as Peter stood anxiously before him. Then Flash grinned and shook his head.
"Nothing. It's nothing. Just trying to make conversation is all." He stepped to the side with a laugh. "Geez, don't be so uptight, Parker. We're cool now, alright? I'm not the guy I used to be."
Peter tried not to show how relieved he was as he released a slow breath between his lips. "Oh, yeah. That's uh—that's what I was—no, that's good. Great. Thanks. I'm glad."
"Yeah. See yah."
With Flash finally out of his way, Peter began to make his way down the now half-empty hallway, his hands stiff at his sides. Just before reaching the doors, however, a yell from behind made him stop in dismay and turn back around.
"Peter!" Flash hollered, jogging up beside him as he swung his backpack off his shoulder. "Forgot about this. I tried to stop by your house and drop it off before now, but every time I went your aunt said you weren't home." He dug through the messy contents for a while before producing a plastic bag, which he handed to Peter. Feeling a bit wary, Peter accepted the bag and opened it. Bundled up inside was a jacket, a T-shirt, a pair of jeans, and some worn gray Converse. He blinked in confused surprise, and glanced back up at Flash.
"The janitor found that in the guy's washroom and thought it was all mine for some reason. Probably because the football team leaves crap in there all the time," he explained with a snort. "I made it very clear to him that I would never wear anything so puny and dorky, but I thought it looked familiar. Then I remembered seeing you with that on the last time I saw you, and told him I'd return it to you. It is yours, right?"
Peter's mouth had gone dry. He remembered the day the Hulk had attacked the school, and how he had stripped off his street clothes in the bathroom to don his Spider-Man costume before heading off to fight the beast. He had forgotten that he'd left them in there, and was really paying for it now. Dust and debris still clung to the fabric from when the classroom had nearly caved in on top of them. He tried to laugh his nervousness off, but it came out more like a cough.
"I'll just let you have that without asking any questions," he laughed, "because I don't think I want to know."
Peter shoved the clothes into his backpack recklessly, combed his fingers through his hair, then turned back to face Flash again, his jaw tight. "Thanks."
A seemingly knowing smile spread across Flash's face. He scratched the back of his head, glanced behind himself, and, after a moment of hesitation, laid his hand on Peter's shoulder.
"Just so you know, if you got anything you need to vent about or whatever, I got your back. I wouldn't go telling anybody. I'm not the guy I was before. I'm better now. I've changed." He lowered his gaze slightly. "I was a real jerk before, but someone showed me a better path to take—what kind of person I should try to be instead, and so that's who I am now. Just know that you can trust me, alright?"
Peter blinked up at the calm sincerity in Flash's expression. While he couldn't be sure if he truly, actually knew just from the shrewd glint in his eyes, it was at least comforting to know that his little spidery secret would be safe if he did. He chuckled under his breath and rubbed at his chin before lifting his gaze to look him directly in the eye.
"Thanks, Flash. Seriously."
Flash grinned enthusiastically. "No problem, man. Take care of yourself, 'kay?"
Peter nodded back earnestly, and after slapping his shoulder a few solid times, Flash walked past him and out of the school into the crowd of students huddled under the awning, leaving Peter standing alone in the empty hallway. The rain pattered against the sidewalk outside, and the sky was dark and foreboding. After shooting a glance over his shoulder, Peter pulled out his collar and stared down at the red and blue costume he was wearing underneath his clothes, and the iconic spider insignia stretched across his chest. A quiet laugh escaped him.
If only they knew.
Icy droplets poured from the black sky, and thunder rolled overhead. It was going to be one of those nights.
Damn. I'm freezing. I seriously need to invest in some thermals. Waterproof, if they're on sale.
A bio-cable from his wrist latched onto the crown of a skyscraper, and he swung high above the bustling, damp city.
Hope my camera isn't ruined. Can't risk waltzing into the Bugle up to jolly Jonah Jameson's office empty-handed again. Although it would be kinda funny to watch that throbbing vein on his forehead finally pop.
He flipped through the air and landed atop a pinnacle extending out from a building's rooftop, feeling the rain bead down his back and drip off his mask. He crouched low against its surface as he traipsed his gaze across the urban landscape below. Spider-Man released a soft sigh.
Sure looks peaceful. The rain sounds so gentle and soothing. Wouldn't it be nice if nothing happened tonight? Maybe all the baddies saw the weather and decided to take a day off. I could just go home, finish up my homework, eat some of Aunt May's famous cream pie, then maybe even—
A crash to his left suddenly startled him, followed by a shrill alarm and a torrent of flashing lights. A pair of men dressed in all black were sprinting down the street away from a jewelry store with bags slung over their shoulders as a man on the sidewalk shouted at them furiously. Peter grinned behind his mask.
Ah, that Parker luck never ceases to amaze. Quit kidding yourself, Spidey. You know you'd die of boredom without your late-night fix of action.
He rose to his feet, flexing his fingers inside his gloves, then leapt off the rooftop.
"C'mon, man, we gotta hurry. Cops are gonna be here any minute."
"The car's back in that alley, dude. Chillax. What I'm worried about is where we're gonna find somebody willing to buy all these stolen jewels. We're really needing a big score to make up for last time."
"Big Man's already got a fix. Let's just get these to him so we can—"
In that moment, a dark figure suddenly dropped in front of them down the road aways, causing the pair to freeze in surprise. Its form was thin and athletic, and the low illumination from the flickering streetlights made its features shadowed. As the figure slowly rose to its feet, the two men took a careful step back, clutching tightly to the satchels hanging over their shoulders.
"H-hey, what gives?" one of them muttered, glancing over at his partner. "What's going on here?"
"Don't look at me, man. I've got nothing."
The air was tense. The sound of raindrops pattering along the pavement dulled the noise of the city around them, and a low growl of thunder echoed from above. He narrowed his eyes at the dark form standing before them, licking at his lips a bit. "M-maybe he was sent as our extraction man."
The thief slung the bag back over his shoulder and waved his free hand at the dark silhouette. "Hey, whoever you are! Did the Big Man send you?"
But the figure was silent. His body was firm and rigid, as if he was poised to strike at any moment. The hands at his sides coiled into fists, and the burglars began to grow fearful.
"The hell is this?" one of them sputtered out. "What are you, a cop?"
"Ain't no cop I ever seen," the other breathed, feeling his forehead began to perspire. His fingers coiled instinctively around the gun on his hip, and he locked his eyes on the shadowy figure standing before them. Anger burned inside of him as he realized how much of their time this guy was wasting, and he took a dominant step forwards. He jabbed his pointer finger straight at the figure, and yelled out at him in a deep, furious voice.
"Hey, assface! I don't know what your deal is, but you better not try anything funny! Ain't nothing's going to be getting in the way of us scoring big tonight, you hear? So scram!"
"Our boss ain't a patient guy, and I'm sure he'd be happy to know who's keeping him from his take. A whole bunch of pain is headed your way unless you know what's good for yah. Are you listening to us?"
When the figure stood silently once again, the thieves cursed under their breath, then whipped out their handguns and aimed them at his skinny form.
"That's it, freak, you're getting it! Who are you working for, huh? Who are you?"
"Who am I?" the ghostly silhouette finally replied, making both men go stiff. He began to stroll forwards, his feet padding soundlessly along the damp pavement. Cold droplets slipped down the burglars' faces, and their icy fingers shivered against the triggers of their guns.
"Y-yeah! Tell us, or we'll pump you full of lead!"
The figure stopped suddenly, his shoulders broad and his arms flexed at his sides. The men stood frozen in fear. He raised his head, and a fiercely sinister tone entered the shadow's voice.
"Oh, I'll tell you who I am," he growled through his teeth, leering across the way at the two thugs cowering before him. He bent low to the ground, his movements agonizingly slow and threatening. A flash of lightning snaked across the sky from behind him, illuminating his menacing form and casting his hostile shadow across the the men's pale faces, followed by a bone-chilling roar of thunder.
"I am vengeance. I am the night. I'm—pffftt—I am—"
Out of nowhere, the figure standing before them suddenly burst out laughing, hugging himself around the stomach and leaning far back on his heels. All of the intimidation factor his voice had carried moments before had vanished entirely, and the two thieves stood instantly dumbfounded, blinking in absolute confusion.
"Wha—what the hell?" one of them finally asked, watching the figure hug his aching ribs and laugh hysterically at nothing in particular. "The hell is your problem, man? You mental or something?"
"H-hey! What's so funny?" the other guy shouted, aiming his gun at his giggly form. Peter held up his hand feebly.
"I'm sorry—I'm sorry, really!" he laughed helplessly, clutching his forehead in his palm. "I tried to keep it together, but I literally could not do it any longer! The look—on your faces—I couldn't—I can't! Ahahahaha!"
The duo of burglars shared a puzzled look with each other, shrugging cluelessly as his ridiculous laughing carried on, before both glared back at their giggly foe. "We don't have time to deal with you, toothpick. Get out of our way."
"Just—just give me a second," he pleaded, grasping his chest as he tried to gather his composure. "Oh man. That was good. Wasn't that good? Come on, one of ya'll had to get my reference. Huh? Anyone? Who here is the brains of this joint?"
"Let's just kill him and go," the left thug muttered, staring down the barrel of his gun. His buddy nodded in agreement and aimed his own weapon at the skinny figure standing before them. Now feeling a little insulted, Peter sighed miserably.
"Man, you guys suck all the fun out of everything," he pouted, then lifted his gaze. Raising his hand forwards, Peter held his wrist out in front of himself, pressed down on the center of his palm, and fired a short spurt of webbing from his web-shooter. The fluid zipped across the street in an instant and splattered across the left burglar's hand, trapping his fingers to his gun. The man let out a gasp, and shook his limb about spastically.
"What the? Hey! What is this? G-get it off! What the hell is—?"
"—Here I am, executing a perfectly planned out one-man show for your entertainment—" Peter continued to whine as he shot another glob of web-fluid from his wrist, which encased the second man's weapon and caused him to cry out in surprise.
"—Aah! It's stuck! My hand's stuck! Help me, man! Help me—!"
"—and you two won't even pay me the courtesy of playing along, or even faking a laugh! It's just rude, honestly, terribly rude."
The thief on the right spun on his heels. "Yo, O'Hirn, this guy's nuts! Let's get out of here!"
"R-right!" he hollered back, and Peter watched with his hands on his hips as the two thugs began hauling it clumsily down the road.
"And now you're ditching me! Wow, I think I better telephone Mommy and Daddy Baddie and tell them what a couple of mannerless children they raised. Could I get a number from one of you fleet-footed gentlemen?"
When neither of the thieves paid him any attention as they scrambled down the road, Peter released a huff of disappointment. "Thugs these days. Just don't appreciate good quippage like they used to."
After a good spurt of uncoordinated jogging, O'Hirn glanced over his shoulder. "Did we lose him?"
His partner did the same, breathing raggedly. "Y-yeah. I think he's gone."
He whipped his head back forwards, releasing a throaty laugh. "Ha! Skinny little creep must have—Aaack!"
O'Hirn suddenly collapsed to the ground, grabbing his face in his hands and screaming like a girl. The second thief froze in fear, his bag of jewels slipping from his grip.
"W-what the?" he stammered, staring down at his fallen wingman. "What the hell just—Gaaah!"
Like a phantom, Peter materialized out of the darkness as he flipped off the side of a building and stood over the two men, who were rolling along the ground and blubbering miserably as the clawed at the webbing now slapped across both of their eyes. He crossed his arms over his chest, smirking beneath his mask.
"Know who I am now?" he inquired cheerfully, watching them squirm like worms in the dirt.
"N-no! We don't know you!" one of them wept, kicking his legs about and pulling uselessly at the webbing over his face.
"We didn't sign up for this freak show! Just let us go, and we'll let you keep the jewels. We swear!"
Peter sighed irritably, shaking his head back and forth. "Wow. You really still don't get it, do you? I mean, I've met some dense criminals in my vast experience of flipping and flying all around NYC, but I think you two have just claimed first prize. Congratulations."
With that, he coated their entire bodies in web-fluid and hung them both upside-down from a lamppost, where they dangled like two gigantic, wriggling caterpillar cocoons in a concrete jungle. As he took a step back to admire his work, the sound of police sirens whirled in the distance, and he offered the pair of whimpering burglars a flouncy little wave.
"Well, it's been a treat, but I'd best be off to deal with more astute affairs. Send me a postcard from prison, won't you? I just know you'll both look ravishing in jailbird orange."
He began to make his merry way down the road, ready to make one last score of the city before calling in for the night, but stopped just before rounding the corner. After a moment, he turned back around, then marched right up to the two thug tortillas swinging side to side in the icy breeze. In one quick motion, he tore the webbing off their eyes, causing them to screech in muffled surprise.
"There. Now you see who I am?" he asked impatiently, his mask now in full view from the light of the lamppost. The men took a minute to recover before staring into the face of their enemy. When they had finally absorbed who it was, both of their eyes grew wide, and they murmured incoherently through the webbing over their lips. Peter scooped the bags of jewels off the ground.
"Yeah. That's right. Now listen here, you two. I don't know who your boss thinks he is—this Big Man guy you were talking about—but if you ever get a chance to speak with him while you're wallowing in your cells, I'd like you to deliver him a little message for me." The rain had calmed to a cool drizzle, which blanketed the city in a veil of mist, thickening the atmosphere and chilling its inhabitants to the bone. "My name is Spider-Man. I am a certified Avenger, and the self-proclaimed protector of this city. To you and every other low-life punk who thinks they can mess with my city—don't even try it. I will find you, wherever you're hiding, and I will beat your ass and the asses of all of your cronies until none of you can sit properly for the rest of your miserable lives." Then Peter shrugged. "That, or he has to promise that he'll hire better henchmen, because fighting idiots who don't get my humor is just no fun. Got it?"
Both men nodded vigorously, and Peter smiled with satisfaction behind his mask. He then webbed the bags of jewels shut and hung them from the lamppost as well, so that they dangled just in front of the burglars' upside-down faced, then turned away from their pathetic forms. With a tap on his wrist, Peter leapt high into the air, flying like an acrobat as he swung down the street and feeling his veins saturate with adrenaline as he zipped around the corner.
When the police finally arrived, they couldn't help but chuckle at the scene laid before them. As they began plucking the thugs from their perch, one of the policemen thought that they heard someone yelling from far away, and glanced across the vast urban landscape. Although they couldn't tell for sure, as the night was dark and the clouds blotted out the light of the moon, he swore he saw a tiny red and blue figure far in the distance, bobbing between the towering skyscrapers and whooping with joy as he soared through the frigid night sky. He grinned amusedly, and glanced over at his partner.
"I guess we all know who to credit this to."
Who am I? Well, isn't that a funny little question. Guess I didn't take it too seriously back there. Kinda hard to when you're too busy laughing at a couple of numbskull baddies. Their faces, though—priceless!
I am Peter Parker, and I'm honestly just a regular guy. I worry about things everyone else my age does, and I still have to do chores and homework and maintain a job (ugh). The only difference really is that I have these powers, and that I run around my city in a red and blue spider-themed onesie on a regular basis. Ha. But even that doesn't really make me all that special.
Okay, bad verbiage. Here's what I'm trying to say: I don't think it's really the powers and the suit and all that that make Spider-Man seem so special, make him seem like a beacon of hope to the city or whatever. I think it's because he's so relatable, since he is so much like everybody else. It's hard for people to be inspired by those who haven't had to overcome problems that they themselves have had to overcome in their lives. If I could punch, kick, or web-zip my way out of any problem, trust me, I would. But that wouldn't make anything I did inspirational or admirable. All I'm trying to get around to is that I think people prefer a little humanity in things—grounded and understandable heroes, not intangible, cryptic super-beings. The humanity of Spider-Man: I think that's what makes him so special.
Alright, so who am I? I'm Peter Parker. I'm a boyfriend, a student, a nerd, and a teenager. I'm a nephew, but more like a son. I'm a smartass. I'm a friend to many, but an enemy to more. I am a cross-species, a chimera, a freak scientific accident, but I'm also a human being. I am a symbol. I am a babysitter. I am a teammate. I am an Avenger.
Oh yeah, and I'm Spider-Man.
:,,,,,,( Ha I'm so over dramatic. Okay, so I'm gonna go ahead and say THANK YOU TO EVERYONE who has supported my story and given me such good advice all through its completion. You have no idea how much of my story was formulated through fan suggestion! I'm truly truly so grateful, and I wish I could jump through my computer and give every single one of a you a hug. If it is not emphasized enough, here it is again, short and sweet - thank you. So. Much.
Are you ready
If you somehow haven't heard about it yet, I gotta tell you right now, because I literally almost cried when I discovered that it was true. Here it goes:
SPIDER-MAN IS NOW A PART OF THE MARVEL CINEMATIC UNIVERSE
DID U READ THAT PROPERLY YES U FREAKIN DID OKAY BECAUSE IT'S TRUE THATS RIGHT LADIES AND GENTS SPIDER-MAN IS NOW GOING TO BE IN THE SAME FREAKIN MOVIES AS THE AVENGERS IN THE UPCOMING PHASE 3 MARVEL MOVIES.
SONY AND MARVEL SHARE HIS RIGHTS NOW.
I'M NOT GOING TO GO THROUGH ALL THE DETAILS RIGHT HERE CUZ THAT'S JUST STUPID BUT PLEASE IF YOU DO NOT KNOW GO LOOK IT UP!
It's literally like my fanfic has come true :,D except that they getting a new actor and basically trashing TASM universe lol. But honestly, I've been waiting for this for so long, that I really don't care. I just want to see Spidey with Avengers. I'M JUST SO HAPPY!
Anyhoo, UPDATE: I started writing the a sequel to this story! It's called THE INSANITY OF SPIDER-MAN (Har har I made it rhyme aren't I clever) and you should totesies read that one toosies if you want maybe idk :) Anyways, maybe write a final review? :D
Thank you. Love u all. Peace out.