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Entwined Destines – Episode Six Indecent Proposal
A Diner in Queens, morning
"I've missed seeing you, Aunt May," Peter said enjoying a rare meal with the woman who had raised him.
It was a cold mid-December day with clear blue skies. Both Peter and Aunt May were bundled up in their winter coats as were the other customers. The local meteorologists were advertising that a pre-Christmas blanket would fall over the metropolitan area by week's end. Everyone was hoping for a White Christmas even those who usually did not care for snow. Three days had passed since Captain Stacy had strong-armed Peter into joining the Police Academy. Peter's first class would be held the day after New Years.
"I've missed seeing you as well, Peter." Aunt May said smiling warmly. "How are things with you and Gwen?"
"Good as can be expected given our circumstances," Peter said. "I hate not being able to provide for us or continue my education. With this cloud of suspicion hanging over our heads, we can't even find decent jobs until we are cleared of any wrongdoing. I feel utterly useless, Aunt May."
"I'm sure in time things will work out for the best. Things always do in some fashion." Aunt May said. She reached across the table and gently patted Peter's hand reassuringly a gesture she had done since he was a small child. Peter noticed Aunt May appeared to become uncomfortable when she withdrew her hand.
"Aunt May are you okay?" Peter asked. He hoped nothing was wrong. Aunt May's health had been in decline for years.
"Peter I've been alone for five years ever since your Uncle Ben left us." Aunt May said. "I've recently met someone a gentleman of not dissimilar age. He's asked me to marry him, I said yes. You must understand Peter, I'm not a young woman. I know I won't have many more opportunities at happiness. This may even be my last such chance."
Although a bit shocked by his aunt's news Peter was still happy for her. Aunt May deserved to be loved. Truth be told it was a load off his mind. Ever since moving away from home a couple of years ago he had frequently worried about Aunt May being alone. Peter hoped he would like his future uncle.
"Do I know him?" Peter asked.
"Remember Dr. Otto Octavius?" Aunt May asked.
"The guy whose mansion you promised to mind outside of the city when he went away last year?" Peter said. Otto had indeed gone away, however, his trip had not been a voluntary one far from it.
"The same, Otto is my fiancee." Aunt May said beaming with pride.
Peter felt frozen in place. He opened his mouth to say something but could not form words. It was like his mind refused to work. Aunt Marry was marrying Dr. Otto Octavius. His Aunt May was marrying Doctor Octopus WTH!? This could not be happening! This had to be a dream, correction make that a nightmare!
"But, but, but Aunt May you can't marry Dr. Octopus!" Peter finally blurted out after nearly a solid minute of silence. He noticed everyone in the small eatery was staring at him not that he cared. He had to stop Aunt May from making the worst mistake of her life.
"Why ever not Peter?" Aunt Mat asked innocently.
"Why not, he's a convicted criminal that's why not!" Peter said. "What kind of life could you have together? Speaking of which isn't he in prison?"
"He's being released tomorrow." Aunt May said.
"How did this even happen? I mean you and him becoming affectionate. The guy's been locked up for over a year. When would he have had time to court you? Did he call you during meal hall or send you prison telegrams?" Peter ranted.
"Peter please calm down people are staring." Aunt May said.
"You tell me to calm down after you drop this bombshell on me!" Peter said. "No, Aunt just no! You can't marry that man! I forbid it!"
"How dare you forbid me from marrying my dear Otto. Peter, I'm a grown woman. I can make my own decisions." Aunt May said. Now it was her turn to become angry. "I'll call you tomorrow after I pick up Otto. Hopefully, you'll have seen reason by then. Good day, Peter." Aunt May got up and left leaving Peter to stew by himself.
"Tough break pal." A random guy seated at the table next to Peter said. "Doc Ock is a total creep from what I've heard. I hope he doesn't take your auntie to the cleaners. A nice older lady like her can really get taken advantage of if she ain't careful. My mother fell in with a bad apple who took her for everything she was worth then left her high and dry. Ya have my sympathy."
"Thanks," Peter said although he only heard about half of the heavyset middle-aged man's words.
"Yer welcome," The heavyset man said. "Name's Alex but my friends call me big Al or just plain ol' Al. What's your name pal?"
"Peter," Peter replied.
"Mind if I call ya Pete?" Al asked.
"Go ahead," Peter said he then sighed. "Wish I could convince my aunt that Dr. Octopus is dangerous."
Al was about to again speak when his smartphone buzzed. Checking the device he said. "Damn, it's work. I got to go. It was nice meeting you." He said.
"Same here," Peter said smiling at the large man.
Al got up from his seat. He was about to leave when he paused. He reached into the pocket of his long navy blue wool coat. Al removed a business card which he gave to Peter. The card read in bold letters- Aleksei Sytsevich independent contractor followed by contact information. The name was oddly familiar to Peter but he could not quite place it for some reason.
"Drop me a line if you want, Pete. I might be able to help you with your octopus problem." Al said.
"You really think so?" Peter said turning the card over in his hands.
"I sure do, no promises thought this sort of thing can be tricky," Al said. Peter thanked Al before Al left.
Condominium of Ned Leeds and Betty Brant, that evening
"Thanks for not rescinding my invitation. I know I'm technically no longer part of the Bugle staff or a friend of Mr. Jameson so I shouldn't really be here." Peter said to his hosts.
Next to Peter, Gwen wore a thoroughly annoyed expression on her face one which clashed with her festive green holiday shirt. Peter wore a red holiday shirt which was the mirror image of Gwen's own. The tips of Gwen's hair were dyed a bright green rather than their previous pink.
"Nonsense Peter," Ned Leeds said after taking a sip from a glass filled with eggnog. On his head was perched a Santa Clause hat."So what if Jonah fired you. As far as we're concerned you'll always be part of the Bugle Family, right Betty?"
"Right Ned," Betty said. "Peter, I want you and Gwen to know we vehemently disagreed with Jonah's decision to fire you before the university officials concluded their investigation. What he did was unfair."
"And another thing. I for one don't believe either you or Gwen blackmailed that professor Warren chap. You are good upstanding kids who would never be involved in anything shady." Ned said.
"I couldn't agree more," Betty said.
"I only wish everyone believed in our innocence as much as you guys do," Gwen said.
"They'll come around you'll see," Betty said.
"I hope you're right," Peter said his expression grim. "I can't help but feel we'll never get out of this mess. Then there is Aunt May marrying Otto Octavius. Some Merry Christmas or Happy Holiday Season this is shaping up to be."
"Jeez, Pete lighten up. No need to be such a debbie downer. It was a hell of a bad year for me to but I'm you don't see me constantly complaining. The way I see it this crazy world of ours will keep on spinning 'round regardless of our personal problems. We might as well enjoy the ride." Harry Osborn said on his arm was his fiancee Mary Jane Watson. Next to the couple stood Mary Jane's and Gwen's mutual friend Felicia Hardy. Like everyone else in attendance, the trio wore typical holiday outfits comprised of slacks and gaudy brightly colored shirts.
"Thank you, Harry," Gwen said. "Peter needed a verbal kick in the pants. He's been moping around for weeks."
"Hey I can't help how I feel," Peter said.
"Like my mother always says. Things could always be worse." Felicia offered in a vain attempt to cheer Peter up.
"How?" Peter said.
"I might not be here for one. Green Goblin almost killed me. I could have easily died on that bridge." Gwen offered shocking everyone with her morbid introspection.
"Gwen you shouldn't say such things." Mary Jane said.
"Why not it's true. I could literally be sleeping at the bottom of the Hudson River with the fishes this Christmas." Gwen said. She turned her attention to Peter. "I came here tonight to have a good time and I intend to. No more feeling sorry for yourself until we leave, okay?"
"Okay," Peter said smiling in spite of himself.
"Now then," Gwen said clapping her hands together in anticipation. "What sort of party games do you have for us?" She asked her hosts a mischievous glint in her eyes. Thanks to Gwen's rampant enthusiasm by the end of the night everyone had all but forgotten their problems even J. Jonah Jameson seemed to enjoy himself once he arrived (although he kept shooting Peter what Gwen called his "evil eye").
Rooftops of New York City, wee hours
Spider-Man and Ghost Spider had just enough time to squeeze in a quick patrol before dawn. "You know there is an upside to being both unemployed and out of school." Ghost Spider said as they web slung around the city moving in tandem.
"Which would be?" Spider-Man said.
"We can stay out as late as we want without worrying about getting up in the morning." Ghost Spider said.
"True," Spider-Man said smiling behind his mask. "And here I thought I was supposed to be the comedian of our duo."
"What can I say? I'm a versatile girl." Ghost Spider said. She felt a shiver run through her body when a cold wind gust blew passed our heroes. "Brrr, I think I'll need thermal undies if this weather gets much colder."
"Honey you ain't seen nothing yet." Spider-Man laughed.
"I don't see what's so funny about my freezing my butt off?" Ghost Spider asked.
"Remember that really cold winter we had five years ago?" Spider-Man said as the pair rounded a sharp corner.
"Yeah, it happened during our freshman year of high school," Ghost Spider said. "What about it?"
"Well, it was also my first winter being Spider-Man. The weather got so cold my web fluid actually froze up three times. I had to use Aunt May's hairdryer to thaw cartridges. One exploded from overheating the second time I heated them. What a mess it made. I was all night cleaning the bathroom afraid Aunt May would wake up before I finished." Spider-Man said.
"Didn't you fight a giant snowman your first winter?" Ghost Spider said. "I know I saw a clip on the internet about your battle with Mr. Frosty."
"Don't remind me," Spider-Man said. "Dealing with him eh it was a major headache."
"What was the deal with Mr. frosty anyway?" Ghost Spider said almost forgetting about the chill almost.
"Ugh, I told you not to remind me." Spider-Man groaned.
"Gee sue me. I'm curious." Ghost Spider said playfully. "So, what was up with that giant walking icicle?"
"I think he was animated by a combination of chemical runoff and electricity, maybe. I know I had to drain him of his charge to turn him back into normal non-killer snow. I couldn't stop him or even slow him down any other way. Web lines, punches, kicks, heated webbing, nothing worked. He was a toughie. " Spider-Man answered.
"Wow sounds challenging." Ghost Spider said.
"He was indeed," Spider-Man said. "I hope I never have to tangle with an opponent made of snow or ice again."
"Bet you could have beat him faster if I'd been around." Ghost Spider said.
"What makes you say that?" Spider-Man said.
"Because silly we make a heck of a team. Together we're unstoppable." Ghost Spider said.
"That we do and that we are." Spider-Man gladly conceded. "Speaking of which I want you to know how glad I am that you're here with me," Spider-Man said choking up slightly. "What you said earlier at the party made me realize how lucky I am."
"Aw, how sweet." Ghost Spider said. "Stop before you make me cry. I hate wearing a soaked mask especially in this sort of weather." She added with a chuckle. "Can you imagine me explaining to dad why I have a Ghost Spider hoodie mask stuff to my face?"
"I can and it would be hilarious," Spider-Man said laughing himself.
"It would," Ghost Spider admitted laughing. Spotting the house of her father in the distance Ghost Spider said. "Race you home." She sped off at an ungodly clip.
"No fair you cheated! I wasn't ready!" Spider-Man called out after her.
Tough," Ghost Spider called back. "All's fair in love and war!"
"Why you," Spider-Man called out. "Wait until I catch you! I'll show you!"
"Promises, promises, catch me if you can slowpoke!" Ghost Spider called back before she disappeared out of sight.
To Be Continued
Props to anyone who can name the adventure in which Spider-Man fought the Giant Killer Snowman.
Author's Note -
For those wondering where in the general timeline these events take place, we are at roughly issue 130 of Amazing Spider-Man (although I'm only loosely employing canon) thus Aunt May's impending marriage to Doc Ock.