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Entwined Destines – Episode Fifteen Fangs of Dracula Part One: Bitten

An Ocean Linear in the Atlantic Ocean roughly two hundred miles East-Northeast of New York City, night

Ghost Spider left her plane being careful not to lose her footing. Even with her power of adhesion surfaces were extremely slippery because of all the rain. A lightning bolt split the sky overhead the thunder that followed caused her to jump and spin around. She almost lost her footing.

'Get a hold of yourself, Gwen. It's just a storm, nothing more. Find the Doc, convince her to come with you to help Aunt May, and get the heck back to dry land.' Ghost Spider thought. She hoped her ride was secure enough so it would not blow off the deck while she was away. The ship was constantly washed by crashing waves that licked the deck.

Struggling against the ferocious gale, Ghost Spider made her away inside. An eerie sight greeted her. There was no one around. The place was completely deserted. Ghost Spider spent the next hour or so searching the ship without luck. She failed to locate either a single passenger or a crew member, how strange. Left with no other choice our dejected heroine made her way back to her own vehicle after her search of the command deck likewise turned up no clues. How could two hundred people simply vanish without a trace in the middle of the Atlantic Ocean?

Unnerved by her macabre discovery, Ghost Spider was about to climb into her plane when a strong, almost painful in its intensity, buzzing wracked her skull. She suddenly knew she was in danger, mortal danger. She whirled around in time to clearly see the source of that danger illuminated by yet another lightning bolt - a tall man clad in what looked like a black & white tuxedo with a black & red cape that flapped in the ceaseless wind.

Ghost Spider froze as terror gripped her heart. There was something about this man who grinned at her that sent shivers down her spine. His eyes seemed to glow red in the dim light. Despite the seriousness of her situation, the longer he gazed at her the calmer she became. She felt drawn towards him. Her feet moving of their own accord. It was only when his right hand encircled her neck in an iron grip that the spell he had cast upon her was broken.

Ghost Spider kneed the tall man in his stomach then kneed him a second time with even greater force. He would not relinquish his grip on her throat. She gripped his arm with her hands and squeezed but still nothing. The man reached out with his other hand violently pulling aside Gwen's hood followed by her face mask. He laughed showing her his shockingly sharp pearly white teeth. He brushed aside several strands of Gwen's wet hair.

"A lovely and strong specimen. You'll make a fine addition to my harem, masked girl. Feel the bite of Count Dracula." He said before sinking his fangs into Gwen's neck.

Gwen screamed in pain as she felt her skin being punctured then her blood being sucked from her body. Thankfully, Gwen endured this horrid situation for less than five seconds. With a scowl, Dracula spat out her blood. He then struck Gwen across his face with a smashing blow that would have broken her neck if not for her superhuman durability. He tossed Gwen aside. She hit the deck with a thump loud enough to be clearly heard over the relentless storm.

Gwen knew she had to get up or she would soon be dead. She seriously doubted she would survive around assault by this monstrous man, Count Dracula, or not. Gwen struggled to feet. She barely got back up in time to dodge a punch from her fearsome foe. She dodged another strike followed by a third on the fourth dodge, however, Dracula changed direction at the last moment flooring her. The clubbing blow to her back hurt, it hurt a lot.

Dracula pulled Gwen to her feet. His hand once again reached for her neck. Gwen knew she could not allow another attack if she wanted to live to see tomorrow. She fired her web-shooters into Dracula's face. Due to the rain, much of the webbing slid away but enough clung so Dracula was blinded. He released her immediately, Gwen sprinted toward her plane while Dracula pulled at the sticky mess covering his eyes.

Gwen was inside the cockpit readying the plane for takeoff when an arm smashed through the transparent bubble protecting her from the outside. Thinking fast, Gwen engaged the autopilot and the plane sped off before Dracula could pull her free. Once airborne, Gwen breathed a shuddering sigh of relief. She would find another way to help Aunt May, she had no other choice. Gwen knew without doubt everyone down there except her attacker was dead. She was battered, bruised, and felt half-dead herself but at least she was safe from whoever, whatever that was back there, or so she thought. She was gravely mistaken.

With a wave of his hand, Dracula changed the ship's course. He had been intent on a return to Europe after dealing with the good doctor's research (it had posed a potential threat to vampires everywhere) now Dracula decided he would instead pursue his prey. Although he found her mutated and slightly radioactive blood most unpleasant he would not allow her to escape from his clutches, it was a matter of pride. No one had ever eluded him for long he vowed she would not be the first. While he had not made her drink his blood after all but draining her of her own and thus could not turn her, the masked girl bore his mark. There was no escape.

"We'll soon meet again, masked girl," Dracula said. With a flourish of his cape, he headed inside. He might be immune to the adverse effects of the elements but that did not mean he enjoyed getting wet. He would sleep until his ship reached the shore. "By then my recently sired children should be ready to serve their master. Together we'll teach the masked girl and her friends the true meaning of darkness," He laughed waking away.

Not far from the Bar With No Name New York City, sometime later

Big Al offered to drive Peter home after they had a few drinks but Peter declined he insisted he could find his own way home. Peter thought drowning his sorrow would make him feel better, it had not. Peter felt lucky to have a friend like Al. The guy was always there when he needed him. Al was a good person.

Try as he might Peter could not shake the feeling Gwen was in danger. This intuition was only made stronger by the fact she either could not or would not return his texts or calls. Peter chuckled at that, their situations were now reversed. She was the one not speaking to him. He knew he had to find her and perhaps just as importantly apologize. He knew they could get through any crisis if they stuck together. They had beaten Norman Osborn and his plot to destroy them from beyond the grave. Nothing was stronger than their love.

Peter found himself in a dead-end alleyway after taking a wrong turn. He was about to turn around and leave when his warning sense buzzed. Three male figures emerged from the gloom behind him. Peter recognized them almost immediately: Shocker, Beetle, and Speed Demon. Great, exactly what he needed right now these goons.

"I don't want any trouble. Also, I don't have any cash on me." Peter said putting up his hands.

"Chill kid, this isn't a mugging." Shocker said.

"We want to talk, that's all." Beetle said.

"About what?" Peter said not letting down his guard. He was ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble.

"We know you and the big guy are hatching some sort of scheme, we want in." Speed Demon said.

"Big Al?" Peter said furrowing his brow in confusion. What did Al have to do with any of this?

"Yeah, Rhino," Speed Demon said.

"Wait, Big Al is Rhino?"

"Well, duh," Shocker said. "Now are you going to cooperate or do we need to get rough?"

Peter backed away. He was about to scale the wall behind him despite that such a feat would give away his metahuman nature when he was saved, by the Rhino! Big Al in his Rhino suit arrived. He attacked from behind making short work of the trio especially once help arrived in the personage of Black Cat! Their intimidation plans thwarted, Beetle, Speed Demon, and Shocker ran off like the cowards they were.

'What is she doing here?' Peter could not help but wonder spotting Black Cat.

"Thanks for the help, Cat," Rhino said. "Even though I could have taken 'em just fine alone."

"Sure you could have." Black Cat said.

Rhino turned his attention to Peter. "Sorry about that, Pete. Those guys can be dicks." Rhino said.

"You guys are working together, cool," Black Cat said jumping to conclusions. "Between the four of us Kingpin and company don't stand a chance. Surely you remember your promise to help me bring them down, Spidey? You aren't going to bail on me because your aunt is sick, right?"

"Wait, why are you calling Pete 'Spidey'?" Rhino asked looking back and forth between the two.

"Because Peter Parker is Spider-Man and his girlfriend Gwen Stacy is Ghost Spider, but you already knew that, right?" Black Cat said.

Peter facepalmed, oh boy. "Um, I can explain everything, Al," Peter said running his hands through his hair.

"Okay, let's hear it," Rhino said narrowing his eyes.

"Wait, you guys didn't know each other's secret identities until right this minute. Ha, this is too rich. You guys became friends even though you are bitter enemies." Black Cat said laughing until her sides hurt.

"This isn't funny, Cat," Peter said.

"I agree, Spider-Man. I never thought I'd say that." Rhino grumbled.

"Hey, not so loud where everyone can hear you. Unlike you two I'm not in costume." Peter protested. "Besides, this involves Gwen too she should be here, now the cat is out of the bag." He glared at Black Cat who finally stopped laughing. "Are we good, Felicia? Have you laughed enough or do you still need a moment to compose yourself, Felicia?"

"Hey, no real names." Black Cat said.

"Yeah, no real names," Peter said still glaring at Black Cat.

"Point taken," Black Cat conceded.

"Where should we met and when to discuss things?" Rhino asked after a long awkward pause between the three.

"We'll meet at my new place tomorrow at noon, that will give me enough time to brief Gwen on what's happened. Black Cat knows the address." Peter said.

"Are you sure Gwen will talk to you, considering?" Rhino said a note of sympathy in his voice.

"Rhino's got a point, besides the one on and in his head." Black Cat said earning herself a glare from Rhino. "You guys have no sense of humor tonight."

"As I told you earlier Al, er, Rhino I'm going to make a real effort to patch things up with her," Peter said.

"And so you should. If you don't mind me saying so, she's a hell of a catch beauty, compassion, and brains. You shouldn't let her get away." Rhino said.

"You're right," Peter said. He tilted his head slightly. "You are taking this well. I thought you'd be angry because of all our past run-ins. I made you look like a total bozo during most of them, no offense."

"None taken, but who says I ain't angry," Rhino said. "But there are more important things right now, like bringin' down Kingpin's criminal empire. And hey the guy behind the mask ain't so bad, once ya get to know him." He smiled at Peter for the first time since Black Cat spilled the beans.

"Same goes for you, big guy," Peter said smiling back. "Before we part company, I have to ask. How do you two know each other?"

"We travel in the same circles. We discovered we both hate Kingpin." Black Cat said.

"Pretty much," Rhino said. "I once saved Black Cat here from getting her pretty little ass whooped by some guys she stiffed on stolen merch."

"And I've saved you since then, three times." Black Cat said.

"Hey now, we agreed that business in Hong Kong doesn't count," Rhino said.

"Whatever," Black Cat said.

"See you guys tomorrow," Peter said with a giggle he could not contain. He hoped everything would work out and that Gwen would forgive him for being so pigheaded.

Townhouse of Peter and Gwen, later that night

J. Jonah Jameson's generous salary allowed Peter to lease a townhouse. Peter and Gwen decided they needed the extra space a townhouse provided given their unique "hobby". When Peter arrived home he noticed the floor was covered in muddy water and Gwen's costume was in the laundry home. It was soaked. He found Gwen in her underwear collapsed on the living room floor. He was right, something was indeed terribly wrong.

"Gwen!" Peter called out rushing to her side. He noted the deep bruises on her face and puncture wounds on her neck."What happened to you!? Speak to me, please!?"

"I, I, tried, I, I, I failed," Was the only thing Gwen said before she lost consciousness.

Peter gathered up Gwen in his arms. He rushed her to the bathroom. After he removed her soddened underwear and dried off he took her to their bed where they remained until well after sunrise. She was cold as ice and it took hours for his body heat and the heavy blankets to warm her.

Late Morning

Once Gwen awoke she related her harrowing ordeal to Peter up to and including how she crashed the plane in the Hudson. "I doubt Reed will ever lend me one of his inventions again," Gwen said with a weak smile.

"You shouldn't have gone off on your own like you did," Peter said bringing her breakfast in bed.

"I had to make things right, or at least try to," Gwen said.

Peter kissed her forehead. "I'm sorry." He said softly.

"Why are you sorry? I'm the one who screwed up." Gwen said.

"I overreacted, what happened to Aunt May wasn't your fault or anyone's fault. I hope you can forgive me." Peter said.

"There is nothing to forgive," Gwen assured him.

"Promise me you won't go off half-cocked again and almost get yourself killed," Peter said.

"Hey, now, I went off fully cocked." Gwen said.

"My mistake," Peter said. "Do you think that guy was the real Count Dracula the infamous vampire?"

"Maybe, who knows," Gwen said.

"Either way I want you to get that bite checked out by the Fantastic Four. It looks nasty." Peter said.

"I don't think Reed will be happy to see me after I ruined his plane." Gwen laughed.

"I'll say I did it. It's the least I can do." Peter said.

"My hero," Gwen said putting her hand over her heart.

"My heroine," Peter said doing the same after pointing at her.

The front doorbell rang. "Who could that be? Most people don't know our new address yet." Gwen said.

"Yeah, you see, I have something to tell you," Peter said struggling for the right words.

To Be Continued