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Entwined Destines – Episode One Road To Recovery Part II
The Coffee Bean, afternoon
"I had an ulterior motive when I invited you to coffee today." Captain George Stacy sitting down his cup of Joe on the table that separated him from the boyfriend of his only daughter. "It has been more than two months since, that night. Gwen isn't getting better. I think she needs professional help. I've brought up the subject with her multiple times but she always becomes upset and refuses to hear me out. Unlike me, I think she just might listen to you." He reached into the pocket of his ever-present grey trench coat and retrieved a business card which he handed to Peter. It read Dr. Bart Hamilton psychiatrist specializing in traumatic psychological disorders. "Dr. Hamilton comes highly recommended. Please, help me help her Peter."
"No promises, but I'll see what I can do," Peter said taking the card.
"Thank you, Peter." George Stacy said with a weak smile.
Peter's Apartment, later that day
"I don't need a shrink. I'm not crazy Peter." Gwen said throwing Dr. Bart Hamilton's business card in the waste paper basket.
"No one is saying you are Gwen," Peter said. "Your dad is only worried about you, as am I."
"God I'm fine," Gwen said. "How many times to I have to tell people there is nothing wrong with me?"
"Really," Gwen, Peter said skeptically. "Other than attending classes you hardly ever leave the apartment. What happened to the Gwen who was spontaneous? The Gwen who enjoyed long walks in the park, days at the museum or nights at the movies?"
"She grew up, saw the world for what it is," Gwen said.
"And what exactly is the world?" Peter asked.
"A dark place full of nasty, dangerous, liars," Gwen said surprised with her own vitriol. "A place without pity. Where no one is safe. Where the guilty can escape punishment if they are powerful enough."
"Gwen I know Norman Osborn hurt you badly. But, you can't let that destroy your faith in Humanity." Peter said.
"Easy for you to say, Peter," Gwen said. "You have superpowers. You can make a difference in this world, unlike me. What could I ever do? I'm just a victim." At her last words, her expression changed from one of anger to one of sadness.
"Ordinary people without powers of any kind can make a major difference Gwen, even in our world. There are plenty of charitable causes that could use a helping hand. They would be grateful for anything you can do for them." Peter said.
"I know," Gwen conceded. "I hate feeling this way, so helpless, so hopeless."
"Gwen, go see Dr. Hamilton. If you think he can't help you that's okay, just let him try. Do it for me, please." Peter pleaded. He fished the card out of the trash then handed to Gwen.
"Alright, I'll go see him for you," Gwen said accepting the card. She looked down at the card then up again at Peter she frowned. "One question before I make an appointment."
"Shoot," Peter said.
"What do I tell him about, you know, why Green Goblin abducted me?" Gwen asked. "I can't tell Dr. Hamilton the truth. That it was because Green Goblin, who's real name was Norman Osborn yes that Norman Osborn, held a grudge against Spider-Man who just happens to be my boyfriend Peter Parker."
Good point," Peter said with a frown of his own. "You could just tell him what we've told everyone else. Green Goblin randomly targeted you for unknown reasons."
"I suppose," Gwen said staring at the card in her hand. "I hope this isn't a mistake."
The Quad of Empire State University the next day, late afternoon
"Get up," Harry Osborn snarled his hands clenched into fists.
Peter struggled to his feet. With the back of his left hand, he wiped drool and blood from his busted lip. A moment ago his best friend had sucker punched him after feigning to turn away. While his spider sense afforded him the option to easily evade the attack if he so desired Peter choose not to, lest his behavior appear suspicious.
"I'm sorry Harry," Peter said. "I shouldn't have said what I did. I was out of line."
"Damn right you shouldn't have! My father was a saint! How dare you say otherwise!" Harry said.
Seconds before while discussing the late elder Osborn, who had supposedly died at the hands of the dastardly Green Goblin (an ironic statement if there ever was one Peter thought), Peter let slip that Harry might not have known his father as well as he thought. This was in response to Harry wondering why reports from Oscorp staff placed his father present on the top floor of Oscorp Tower that fateful night. The suggestion caused Harry to exploded with rage and he lashed out at his longtime friend with shocking speed & viciousness.
"First Gwen caused a scene at my dad's funeral for no apparent reason, now you think he was in league with the Goblin or doing something else shady! I don't believe this! It's bad enough Oscorp is in legal limbo along with my inheritance because without a body the courts won't declare dad officially dead, but my best friend stabs me in the back! I can't believe this!" Harry ranted.
"I know what I said was inappropriate. I don't know why I even said it. I hope you can forgive me, Harry. Still friends, to the end?" Peter said being as genuinely contrite as he could manage given the circumstances.
Peter extended his hand to Harry. At first, Harry looked like he was going to swat Peter's hand away and refuse his offer of reconciliation. "Still, friends, till the end," Harry said taking Peter's hand in a tight grip. Harry pulled Peter close. The pair patted each other on their backs with their free hands before pulling apart their secret sign of frienship.
"How's Gwen doing? And what about your Aunt May's house?" Harry asked a few moments later.
"The house will be finished in another month or two, would be sooner if it wasn't winter. Gwen is more or less the same," Peter said. "She still wakes up screaming at times in the night and doesn't want to leave the apartment much. I hope she'll improved now that she's agreed to see a therapist. Don't tell her I told you that last bit. She's kind of sensitive about it."
"That's too bad," Harry said. "Is there anything I can do?"
"Not that I can think of," Peter said. "Thanks for the offer though."
"Anytime Pete," Harry said.
"I hear you and Mary Jane are getting rather serious," Peter said with a knowing smile.
"Oh, where did you hear that?" Harry asked.
"A good reporter never reveals his sources," Peter said with a wink.
"I thought you were a part time photographer?" Harry said with a chuckle.
"Same difference," Peter said with mock offense.
"Whatever," Harry said. "MJ and I are doing great. Don't tell anyone, especially Gwen as she'll run straight to MJ, but I'm actually thinking of popping the question come spring when I graduate."
"Good for you Harry. You guys make a great couple." Peter said happy for both his friends. "It'll be nice to have something to celebrate for a change."
"I can't argue with that, Pete," Harry said.
Peter glanced down at his smartwatch. He did a double take. Was it really that late already? Where did the time go.
"Sorry to cut our conversation short, but I've got to go. My shift as one of Dr. Connors' lab assistants started ten minutes ago." Peter said a note of panic in his voice.
"Pete, Pete, Pete," Harry said shaking his head. "You're the smartest yet most disorganized person I know."
"Bye Harry," Peter waved running off.
"Bye Pete," Harry called after him. "I hope Dr. Connors isn't to upset that you're late. If he is tell him I held you up."
"Thanks Harry," Peter said before he disappeared out of sight.
Laboratory of Dr. Curt Connors, five minutes later
"Sorry I was late Dr. Connors. I bumped into a friend and we lost track of time." Peter said bursting through the door. "I'd say it would never happen again, but that would be lying."
"Indeed, it would," Dr. Connors said with a sigh. "Peter, when are you going to buckle down and take life seriously son?" The good natured, even tempered scientist with the missing arm was one of Peter's idols. He had also been until recently, through no fault of his own, the villainous Lizard, although only a select few including Spider-Man were aware of this fact. Dr. Connors unfortunate metamorphosis was inadvertently brought about by the regenerative serum he developed using reptilian DNA to regrow his lost limb.
"Soon I hope," Peter said. Dr. Connors did not laugh nor did his other student lab assistant a stocky young man with a crew cut named Eddie Brock who Peter knew from several of his classes.
"Get to work son. We're already behind evaluating today's consignment of samples from NASA." Dr. Connors said.
"What's this stuff? A crude oil sample?" Peter half joked picking up a large tube half filled with a viscous black fluid that sat among a dozen other smaller containers.
"We don't know what it is. Only that it was found by a recent expedition to Mars," Eddie said from the microscope he was manning.
"Quite right, Eddie," Dr. Connors said smoothing out the wrinkles in his lab coat.
Suddenly Peter's spider sense went haywire. Peter dropped the jar. "Careful," Dr. Connors said barely catching the jar with his one hand before it hit the ground. He gently placed it back on the countertop.
"Way to go, Peter," Eddie said with a snicker.
"Oopsie," Peter laughed awkwardly.
"That's enough excitement for one day. I suggest we get back to work boys. There is much to do." Dr. Connors said.
Peter put on his lab coat and went to work. In spite of himself, he could not help but steal a glance every so often at the mysterious black liquid. What was it really? Why had it set off his spider sense? Was it dangerous? By the time his shift ended hours of hard work had pushed those thoughts from his mind. When he left Empire State University that evening little did he know his involvement with the black goo was only beginning.
To Be Continued
Author's Note One -
This version of Eddie Brock is heavily inspired by the Ultimate Spider-Man comic books and the Spectacular Spider Man animated series.
Author's Note – Sorry for another short chapter. I promise the next one will not only be longer and contain some good, old fashioned Spidey action.