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Entwined Destines – Episode Five Turning the Page

Stacy Residence Queens, evening

"Parker I nearly broke my neck tripping over more of your junk in the garage." Private Howard Stacy complained while entering into the dining room. He was a tall well-built young man. His sandy blonde hair was styled in a brush cut indicative of his military career. "You and Gwen have been living here with pops for what a month now? When are you going to properly organize your science stuff? It is strewn everywhere."

"Sorry, Howie I'll get right on that first thing tomorrow," Peter said between bites of pancakes an odd choice for supper, however, Peter enjoyed having them occasionally.

Howard winced at Peter's comment as if he had been physically struck. "Parker, how many times do I have to tell you before you understand? Don't call me 'Howie' my name is Howard," Howard grumbled. "I hate when people call me 'Howie'. I'm not a kid anymore."

"Sorry Howie, ah Howard," Peter said.

Howard shook his head in disbelief. "You just can't help yourself can you Parker? You're just like your idol Spider-Man always goofing around. Would it be too much to ask for you to take life seriously for a change?"

"Howard leave Peter alone. He's already having it hard enough with being expelled from Empire State and losing his job with the Bugle." Gwen said from her position seated across from Peter.

"What about yourself Gwen?" Howard asked his sister. "You've also been expelled, or have you forgotten? Don't you care about your own future? You were a good girl before you met Parker. Now your being accused by a dead professor of smear job blackmail. Just look at yourself. I don't know you anymore."

"So I'm not a 'good girl' because I cut my hair and dyed the ends pink? Or because I discovered I like heavy metal and alternative music or my bolder new fashion sense?" Gwen said tugging on her highlighted hair. Gwen's old outfits tended to be rather subdued her new look was anything but with her knee-high leather boots, cargo shorts, and trendy print t-shirts which usually sported the log of a band or something from pop culture.

"That's not what I meant Gwen, and you know it," Howard said.

"What do you mean then? Please enlighten me, Howard." Gwen said challenging her older brother.

"The old you would never have become embroiled in such a disgraceful scandal or moved back in with dad so her loser boyfriend could sponge of his kindness," Howard said. "How could you do this to our family, to dad?"

Gwen started ticking off points on the fingers of her left hand as she struggled to remain calm. "First, Peter is my fiancee, not my boyfriend. Get it right. Second, Professor Warren tried to rape me. I would have thought you'd be sympathetic considering your sister was almost sexually violated by an old perv, guess not. Third, if dad wants to help us out in our time of need that is his choice. We didn't pressure him in any way. In fact, Mary Jane and Harry had already offered to take us in before dad stepped forward. Fourth, just shut up I'm tired of hearing you bitch which is all you ever do when you visit. Call or text ahead next time so Peter and I can avoid you. I think all three of us will be much happier if we stayed away from each other in the future."

Howard looked fit to be tied. His jaw tightly set. His face red with anger He slowly opened his mouth as if he wanted to say something but thought better of it. A moment later he when he did speak he said the following. "Tell dad when he gets home I returned his wrench set." Without another word exchanged between the trio, Howard turned on his heels and marched out of the house.

"Gwen, should you really have antagonized him?" Peter asked.

"Maybe, maybe not," Gwen said with a shrug. "I'm just fed up with his bad attitude. Howard needs to remove that big old stick from his ass before it comes out his mouth. We didn't ask to be framed by the late Professor Warren and whomever else might be involved."

"I wish we could find a viable lead," Peter said slouching in his seat. "Two months have gone by and we don't know any more than we did the day of Warren's suicide assuming it was suicide. We've been kicked out of college pending an investigation of Warren's posthumous allegations. I lost my job working for Mr. Jameson because and I quote; 'I'm not having a criminal on my payroll, kid'. We've been evicted from our apartment because we can't accord rent. We have to live with your dad. Aunt May would have taken us in but there are problems with the insurance payout so she is stuck staying with Anna Watson until repairs on her house can be completed. Apparently, supervillain attacks are considered "acts of God" by the big insurance firms. Things are just terrible. I'm so sorry Gwen. I wanted our life together to be better than this."

"Things will work out," Gwen said leaning across the table. She brushed some stray syrup of Peter's face. "As long as we have each other we can face and conquer any challenge. I know we can." Gwen kissed Peter who reciprocated. She briefly pulled back licking her lips. "You taste like pancakes, yum." Gwen then planted a long kiss on his lips which only ended when the pair pulled apart upon hearing someone loudly clear their throat.

"Ahem," Captain George Stacy said. The mustache-wearing man blonde haired cop seemed none to please by what he saw.

"Oh, hi dad," Gwen said blushing a deep shade of red as did Peter.

"Hi Captain Stacy," Peter said awkwardly.

"When did you get home, dad?" Gwen asked.

"Just now," George Stacy said.

"We didn't see you there." Peter babbled.

"Obviously not," George Stacy said dryly.

"Howard dropped by a few minutes ago. He said he returned your wrench set." Gwen said changing the subject.

George Stacy pulled up a chair between Peter and Gwen. The strategic placement of his seat made his intentions clear. There was to be no hanky panky in his presence. He did not care if Gwen was an engaged woman or not as far as he was concerned she was still his little girl. Call him old-fashioned but he did not like the idea of her having sex under his roof before she was married. He knew her and Peter did indeed have sex in their own room still he would rather not have them enjoying each other in front of him.

George Stacy reached into the pocket of his tan trench coat. He retrieved a folded up piece of paper which he handed to Peter. Peter eyed it with curiosity.

"I got you an application for the police academy, Peter. I had to call in a few favors but I'm fairly sure you'll be accepted." George Stacy said.

"Yeah, uh being a police officer isn't really my thing," Peter said scratching the back of his head nervously. He quickly amended his statement. "Not that there is anything wrong with choosing law enforcement as a career path. Besides I'm under investigation for blackmail they surely won't let me in."

"You're not under criminal investigation only an internal university probe. They can only bare you from being admitted if you are under criminal investigation or have been previously convicted of a felony." George Stacy said. "Peter you need a reliable job if you are going to marry my daughter. I won't have Gwen's future jeopardized because you are too pigheaded to accept my help, and that's final."

Peter and Gwen exchanged looks. They knew there was no point arguing with Captain Stacy. When he made up his mind he could be even more stubborn than either of his children.

"When do I start?" Peter said weakly.

"A class will convene two weeks from Monday 8:00 am sharp at the 23rd Precinct building. I expect to be there." George Stacy said.

"With bells on," Peter said then added when George Stacy frown rather than laughed," Um, sorry."

Streets of New York City three days later, afternoon

Gwen was out shopping for groceries alone while Peter canvased the city trying to find a job any job other than joining the Police Academy. Her arms full of canvas bags brimming with foodstuffs Gwen rounded a corner when a hand grabbed her arm. This startled Gwen who nearly dropped her bags. Why had her spider sense not warned her?

"Know your future for a dollar miss." Urged the person who the hand belonged to. She was an elderly woman with shoulder-length grey hair who was clad in a navy blue robe peppered with yellow star designs like an old-timey wizard. She sat behind a stand draped in a navy blue cloth on which was perched a crystal ball. Sunglasses with red lenses indicted she was likely either blind or partially sighted.

"Why not," Gwen said with some difficulty she retrieved a dollar bill from her coat pocket which she handed to the old woman who quickly put it away.

The old woman stared or seemed to stare into the crystal ball. "I see terrible danger ahead but also great things if the danger can be avoided." She said in her raspy voice.

"How do I avoid the danger?" Gwen asked feeling silly for doing so. Fortune telling was an unproven art there was no scientific proof anyone could see the future. Gwen could not believe she was wasting her time with this foolishness.

"How you avoid the danger is not so clear." The old woman said.

"Ah I see," Gwen said smirking. "You want more money then you'll tell me right? Okay, how much? Name your price."

"Madame Web is no charlatan miss. I am a facilitator of fate. Money matters not to me. You should heed my words." Madame Web said obviously taking offense at Gwen's comments.

"I'm sorry I meant no offense. I'm used to looking at the world through scientific eyes. I want to be a doctor someday." Gwen said not sure why she was telling this complete stranger about her ambition or background.

"I'd advise you learn to examine the world through new eyes miss. It is never too late to improve oneself. The world is full of wondrous possibilities you must simply be open to them. Even a ghost can change her ways." Madame Web advised.

Gwen stared wide-eyed at Madame Web. She was about to ask the strange old woman how Web could possibly know her secret when her smartphone dinged with a notification. Gwen glanced away for a second when she looked back Madame Web and her stand were both gone! Gwen spent the next five minutes searching for any sign of Madame Web but to no avail. She asked several bystanders if they had seen where Madame Web disappeared to so quickly but they did not know what she was talking about. It seemed no one other than her noticed the elderly fortune teller. Gwen checked her coat pocket her dollar was back. It was as if Madame Web never existed. What was going on?

The Fisk Building later that day, night

"I pull off this heist my late father's debt is paid, correct?" Black Cat asked.

"Yes, child," The gargantuan businessman Wilson Fisk the secret Kingpin of Crime said from behind his equally gargantuan desk.

To outward observers, Fisk was a big-hearted industrialist and generous philanthropist the very stereotype of a jolly fat man. Other than his more shady employees only an unlucky few who crossed him knew differently. Fisk was in truth a sadistic monster who ruled over his criminal empire with an iron fist.

"I won't have to work for you anymore?" Black Cat said seeking clarification.

"Not if you so wish, child. However, my employment can prove exceedingly lucrative for those who perform their duties well." Fisk said. "Your father rather enjoyed working for me until he decided to try his hand as a freelancer. If only he hadn't made such a serious mistake he'd be here today and we'd have met under much different circumstances. Which reminds me. Give my regards to your mother. Lydia is such a dear."

"Forget about my mother. She stays out of this. That was our deal." Black Cat said bristling at the not so subtly implied threat.

"But of course, child," Fisk said steelping his thick fingers as his expression turned dark, ominous. "You have your assignment. If you fail our deal is off. Do I make myself clear?

"Crystal," Black Cat said. She had to struggle hard to maintain her composure. Although deathly afraid she refused to let Fisk see her flinch. "I've never failed yet and I won't this time either. You'll get your merchandise."

"For your shake child, I had better." Fisk said. "Remember, one week from today not a minute longer."

"I'll not forget the deadline. Make sure your don't forget what you've promised me in return when I deliver." Black Cat said.

"My mind is like a steel trap. Nothing that comes in ever gets out. We are done here. You may leave, child." Fisk said dismissing Black Cat who left via the door by which stood a pair of burly goons dressed in business suits and wearing black sunglasses.

"Do you think she'll succeed?" Spencer Smythe wheezed hobbling out of the shadows. The lab coat wearing grey haired haggard looking mad scientist had entered the office from a hidden entrance behind Fisk's desk.

"I'm unsure," Fisk admitted.

"But I require Oscorp weapons technology if I am to complete my masterpiece the Ultimate Spider-Slayer before time runs out. Everything depends upon obtaining the new Oscorp exosuit prototype." Spencer wheezed. A victim of radiation poisoning from his own robotic creations Spencer had been slowly dying for years. With only a few months left to live he had become increasingly obsessed with destroying Spider-Man and this new Ghost Spider so as to prove his life's work mattered.

"I am well aware of your difficulties Symthe," Fisk said. "Rest assured I'll get my hands on the Oscorp weapon, if not by way of Black Cat then by other means. Spider-Man alongside his partner Ghost Spider are thorns in my side that must be plucked free if my criminal enterprises are to properly flourish. I promise we'll have you prove your worth before the end comes."

"And I'll hold you to that promise." Spencer Smythe wheezed.

Visions of gory glory danced through the mind of the dying inventor. Spencer would make his son Alistair proud by leaving a legacy none could match let all own exceed. He would go down in history as the man whose creation slew Spider-Man and Ghost Spider.

To Be Continued