I'm having a terrible time trying to get It's On Again going again. So here, since I started watching Daredevil and in light of the new Spider-Man reboot.
Peter's spider-senses allowed him to be aware of almost anything. The vague smell of blood in the air. A change in the direction of the wind. The near-imperceptible shiver that ran up his spine when a gun was pointed at him, milliseconds before it fired.
He knew and felt everything the instant it happened, but right now he couldn't even think. All he could think of was pain; the throb in his thigh, pulsing more intensely as he slowly woke; a stabbing in his ribs he could swear he could hear, cracking away with every breath. And his head- oh, that was the worst. Were his brains leaking out? There was warm liquid on the nape of his neck, and it wasn't water or sweat, so that left only brains or blood, and both were a lot worse than he had hoped for.
It took far too much effort to focus on something other than agony, so it was a long time before he realised that this wasn't home. Home smelled like Aunt May's cooking, good and bad, her meatloaf everyone ate with fixed smiles and gritted teeth, and the spaghetti bolognaise a man would kill to get the recipe for. The residual, distinct scent of Uncle Ben's horrible old cologne he had insisted was the bee's knees, while Aunt May had made faces at Peter from behind him. It smelled musty from when Uncle Ben (and now, just Aunt May) couldn't reach the top shelves with the duster, the shelves that were filled with crazy old relics no one really wanted but couldn't bring themselves to get rid of. And once, the light vanilla smell of Gwen's perfume, but it didn't smell like that anymore because Gwen was gone, wasn't she? Now, Em Jay's overpowering floral took control of the house, different from Gwen's but just as nice.
This wasn't home. It smelled too pristine, there wasn't anything interesting in the room, disgusting or otherwise, except the strong smell of chicken soup.
Half his face was being squashed into a sofa that wasn't his own. His eyes flicked open, but his stomach dropped down to about where his thighs were when he realised he couldn't see. He opened his mouth to verbally panic, but someone else's voice interrupted his just as he took breath.
"Relax. One of your eyes is swollen shut and the other is pressed into the couch."
Peter froze. Of course, the man had a point, but Peter was suspicious and perhaps-maybe-slightly-concerned-verging-of-petrified, and he would give no victory the stranger whose couch he was sprawled on and bleeding on.
He shifted his head, and was given a view of a very plain and boring room, set with only two couches and a coffee table planted in the middle. No pictures on the walls. He swivelled his head slowly to get a good view of the room, his peripheral vision failing him miserably with the absence of one eye. No wallpaper. Everything was just grey, or white, or black, or something; there were no lights on and the billboard outside, however bright it was, didn't exactly help him.
He had to shift his aching body into a sitting position to see the man talking, who was leaning over a kitchen bench-top, eyes a little blank like he was so exhausted he couldn't really focus on anything. The man looked as bad as Peter felt. There was a long cut that must have only just been stitched up across his chin, and his nose and eye were bruising quite spectacularly, even in the minimal light.
"Where am I?" Peter asked. Although croaked, rasped, or 'the-hacking-sound-a-dog-makes-before-it-throws-up' were probably better descriptions of how his words came out.
"My apartment," the man said unhelpfully, striding over, but not before stumbling a little on a corner of carpet that had been turned up. "Hell's Kitchen."
Peter's memory suddenly decided to return now that it was convenient. There was that fight, a long way from home, with that psycho who was after him for no reason other than the fact he was wearing a mask, who was beating on him pretty bad and threw him off a roof when he was only semi-conscious, and then-
"The Devil of Hell's Kitchen," Peter realised, and the man made an almost imperceptible face. "Sorry, Daredevil," he corrected, doing his best to smirk, but it was hard and a cut in the corner of his mouth just made it hurt more than it should.
"They're not good names, are they?" the man said mildly, sitting opposite him on the other sofa.
"I did better," Peter said. "Spider-Man is a great name. Came up with it myself."
The man huffed lightly out of his nose by way of laughter, and the corners of his mouth lifted slightly. "I can tell, surprisingly. The police don't do a better job."
Peter frowned with one eye, his sluggish brain wondering whether he had just been insulted, but the man pushed a bowl across the coffee table towards him, and he couldn't argue when there was chicken soup right there.
"You should eat," the Devil told him. Peter snatched the food from the table, but couldn't resist the urge for a bad joke.
"Is this when I should resist the urge to eat, so as to save my soul from damnation in Hell?" he asked.
Was it just him, or did the man's slight smile disappear? Or did it widen? "As a Catholic devil," Daredevil said pleasantly, "I can tell you another joke like that might get you planted in the ground somewhere."
Peter's eye bugged. "You're religious? Oh man, I'm sorry, I had no idea-"
Daredevil waved away his apology with a smirk rising on his face. "I'm fine with it, but you'll have to watch out for some of the nuts out there who might crucify you for something like that."
Peter shuddered and immediately regretted it when his rib gave a nasty jolt inside his chest. Daredevil's smile dropped, and he rose like some kind of guardian angel prepared to give an ass-whooping to whoever broke his rib.
"You don't have a bad break, just a light fracture," Daredevil told him, walking past, his fingers brushing the back of the couch like he wasn't really sure it was there. For half a second, Peter was sure he was getting a scalpel or something from the tone of his voice, but when he returned from the kitchen, he just handed Peter a spoon.
"I'm not going to let you drink straight from the bowl, that won't be good for your head." He made a vague gesture. "You got hit pretty badly just above the nape of your neck."
Peter shifted the spoon and bowl into the same hand and tentatively raised a hand to the back of his head. There was one of those huge white sticky bandages plastered over the area, and his hair poking up around the edges was soggy. Something about that puzzled him, but his brain couldn't quite process just what that was. He hissed when he prodded it, and pulled his hand away.
Daredevil was still watching him, or something behind him anyway. His eyes were looking just a little to the right of Peter's head. Peter made a face, and made to pull his mask just up s he could eat, but as he patted his face, he realised it wasn't there.
The absolute terror he had felt before when he first woke up reappeared, and he almost dropped the soup.
"You see my face," he whispered, and Daredevil, to his credit, didn't laugh.
"That was my reaction too, when I woke up in a stranger's apartment with my mask gone," he said seriously. "You don't have to worry about me giving away your identity."
"But you see me," Peter repeated, feeling more distraught.
The man seemed to ponder that. "To an extent," he said eventually. "To be very honest, it hasn't really made a difference. I wouldn't be able to anyone what you looked like if I were forced to."
"What? How? That doesn't make sense," Peter started, but the man's eyes were still staring a foot to the side of his head.
He blinked with his one eye, and stared.
Daredevil nodded, eyes still fixed whereabouts the kettle was. "That's right. You don't have to worry about me giving up your identity."
Peter looked down into his soup, and finally drank some.
"There's one thing I don't get," Peter said as Daredevil refilled his soup bowl. "Why did you take your mask off?"
Daredevil put the empty saucepan down on the table. "When you woke up, you mean?"
"Yeah. You could have just kept it on. Since you technically haven't seen my face."
Daredevil smiled mildly again. He seemed to do that a lot. He didn't really seem like the kind of person who would dress in a dumb costume at night and beat people up. More like a doctor, or someone with a nice, lawful profession. Of course, he couldn't be a doctor, since eyesight was probably extraordinarily valuable in such a career.
"I know you're a kid. And kids get scared. My rule is whenever I save a kid, I let them see my face. They should be able to see who I am. That I'm not a threat to them."
"I'm twenty," Peter said.
Daredevil tilted his head. "No, you're not."
Peter grumbled into his soup. "Seventeen, then. Old enough to not get scared."
"I have to disagree with that. You were terrified when you first woke up. You relaxed a little when you saw my face. Waking up in a stranger's home, and that stranger has a mask on… whatever you pretend it is, Spider-Man, it's frightening.
"Now, imagine you're a four-year-old who's been pulled into an alley, away from your parents, by some strange grown man with ill intent. And a man in a mask appears, beats him up. You'd be afraid he was going to continue what the first man started. That's why I show my face. It's hard to remember after that shock, but it slows their heart-rate a bit, lets them see reason."
"Are you comparing me to a four-year-old?" Peter asked, slightly offended.
"All minors are the same under the eyes of the law."
"And I suppose as a vigilante, you are the law?"
Daredevil's mouth quirked up in the corner. "In more ways than you think. Now for goodness sake, go to sleep. And call your parents, tell them you slipped and fell, and that some blind guy found you. Stop them worrying." A phone dropped itself into Peter's lap. "If you feel up to walking, you can take my bed. I still have more to do tonight."
Daredevil pulled the mask back over his face.
"Out to beat up more people?"
"Yeah. Speaking of which, the next time I catch you out super-heroing and beating on criminals, I will find out where you live and physically drag you back there."
"Hey! I can take care of myself!"
"Can you?" Daredevil stuck his billy clubs in some holster on his thigh. Then he stood up straight and folded his arms. "Here's a deal. You stay out of this until you turn eighteen. But I know you are underage, and as an adult I am legally obligated to prevent any possible harm that could be inflicted on a minor. I don't want to see you out there until you are an adult and are able to make your own decisions-"
"-In the eyes of the law," Daredevil finished. "Until then, stay out. You hear of anything, you contact the police or me. You don't get yourself involved." Then he vanished through the window.
Peter glared at the place where Daredevil had been four seconds ago, and wrapped the blanket around his shoulder more comfortably. He had a week until his eighteenth. Surely he could wait that long.
He sighed, and picked up the phone to call Aunt May.
Huh, sorry about It's On Again. I am still trying to get it started back again. I'm at one of those points where I'm not entirely certain where it's going.