A/N: Over a year ago, I had no intention of publishing Caught In A Web. I never even thought of writing a sequel. But you folks have spoken, and you have made Caught In A Web what it is today. This is for you. I'm happy to present to you the very first chapter of Caught In A Web's sequel: Radioactive.

{ Peter }

Peter tears into a sprint. He rips his arm from the man's grasp and races down the hallway to Julia's room. Even over his thudding heartbeat, he can hear the man's cackle echoing down the hall, chasing after him —

And Peter's just running.

Running until he gets to her and makes sure she's safe, and she's —

She's —

She's gone.

"No," Peter breathes, already backing out of her empty room. "No." He takes off down another corridor and checking every waiting room, patient room, operating room, and she's —

She's not here. She's not there. She's not anywhere.

She's —

She's gone.

Peter enters another hall, his insides churning and twisting into knots. "No, no, no, no, no, no, no," he whispers, desperately searching every possible place she could be.

But she's gone.

He took her and she's gone —

Gone gone gone —

A nurse rolls a hospital bed into the elevator and —

It's her.


Peter knows it is. He feels it.

Peter hurries after that nurse but the silver doors glide shut before he gets there. He groans in frustration, slamming his fist against the door as he pushes himself toward the staircase. He rushes open the door, slapping on a web-shooter, and jumps over the railing. A web fires from his wrist and he swings his way down each flight of stairs to the parking garage.

He kicks through the door, swinging into the concrete room, and —

And he fumbles to a halt. The nurse loads the hospital bed into the back of a van and Julia's just laying there, unconscious, letting these men take her —

Peter screams for them to stop, but they don't. He fires webs at them but they ricochet off, a shield of energy bursting and fading at the impact just like at the warehouse.

Peter yells for Julia as the van doors slam shut. He begs, pleads for her captors to stop. His voice tears at his throat but he keeps screaming, needing some sort of release from this pain.

The details of the garage have become difficult to see. The grey walls blur together and sounds are muffled like his head is submerged in water but the squeal of tires speeding out of the garage echoes through him and she's gone and there aren't even license plates to memorize, there's nothing to prove she was even here, she's gone, she's gone, it's over, they have her, she's gone —

Peter falls to his knees as a pit of despair opens inside him —

Widening and consuming him—

Devouring him whole —

Peter opens his eyes.

It's still there. The whole thing. Right at the front of his memory like it was yesterday.

He wishes he could forget it. Just forget her, forget all of it.

(is that bad?)

If he forgot, then he wouldn't have this hole in his chest. This hole she left. But that's just the thing: She didn't leave. She was taken.

Of course, it's bad to want to forget. (shut up, that was dumb — ) Remembering gives purpose. Remembering makes people who they are. No matter how much it hurts, it's worth the pain.

There's a soft knock at Peter's bedroom door and it creaks open, letting in a small stream of light. "Peter?" May softly asks.

He lays still.

"You okay?"

He sighs and slowly sits up right, rubbing his tired eyes that he wishes would close forever.

"Rough day?" May asks, moving and sitting on the edge of his bed.

He nods mechanically. "Something like that," he mumbles.

"You just have to get through it. That's all any of us have to do. Just stay alive and get through it."

Peter looks at his aunt in the faint light. He doesn't understand how someone can go through so much, have the world take everything from them, and still have so much to give.

May kisses his head. "Get some sleep." She walks out of his room, closing the door behind her and cloaking the room in darkness once more. Peter lays down and stares up at the top bunk.

There's nothing he can do. Not while he's got her. Not while he could still hurt her.

Just stay alive and get through it.

Peter thinks of her out there.

He whispers it, whispers it to her, wherever she is. "Stay alive and get through it."

Stay alive.

Stay alive.

{ Julia }


Julia bursts upright, gasping for air.


Where is Peter?

Julia blinks through the haze of white.

(where am I?)

She lifts her head to the vacant room. This isn't the same hospital room she was in before —

Before she was taken. Before Stephen was tazed and he could magic them to safety or magic the bad guy away —

Before —

Julia touches her neck. He gave her something. That man injected her with something that rendered her virtually dead. That's why she can't breathe. Her nose hurts. It's practically raw to the touch from the oxygen tubes feeding into her nostrils. She pulls it out and takes a breath on her own.

Who was that guy?

What did he want?

Why did he take her?

What happened to Stephen?

Julia sits up and instantly regrets the movement as she remembers the burn along her side. She winces, waiting for a wave of pain to hit but it never comes. Julia lifts her pristine, white shirt (she doesn't remember changing out of the hospital gown) to see the area her skin was burned only to find it pink and fleshy and healthy as ever.

How long has she been here?

What is this place?

Julia rolls her shirt down and surveys the room, but this room isn't even a room. There's nothing on the walls, the one window is barred (probably with Hulk-proof glass), and there's not even a door. It's just her in these white clothes in this white bed hooked up to a white multi-parameter monitor that's now beeping at her annoyingly —

Julia rips the cords from her chest and throws the wires to the floor.

There has to be a way out of here, there is, and she's going to find it. She stands from the bed, placing her feet on the cold tile, and shuffles forward. She's unsteady for a moment but finds her balance.

(how long have I been laying in that damn bed?)

She moves along the walls, her fingertips searching for some sort of crack or seal signaling a door. There has to be one if she is inside a seemingly inescapable room.

Julia's escaped an inescapable room before. It was during Halloween last year with Ned and Peter. They set the record for the fastest escape of the season.

(Peter — )

(where are you?)

A series of chirps echo outside the room like buttons on a keypad and Julia's heart nearly jumps out of her chest. She hurries for the bed and lays back down, closing her eyes, just as the door opens with a mechanical hiss.

Footsteps cross the room to her and Julia feigns sleep as much as she can, despite her racing heart.

The figure sighs loudly. "I know you're awake."

Julia's brow furrows. She knows that voice.

"That's why I'm here," he continues.

She hates that voice.

"You've taken the wires off."

Julia opens her eyes and glares at the man standing over her. Simon Marshall's mouth curls into a smile, his scar twisting his face into something truly awful. Julia thought she'd never see his face again yet here they are.

"So much for Queens' golden girl. You really are a pain in the ass, aren't you?" He says. Julia can't help the grin rolling over her lips. Simon looks her over and scoffs, disgust etched into his already marred features. "I should have killed you when I had the chance," he seethes.

Julia lifts her head toward him, ready to make him feel what she felt, what she felt in that warehouse: the pit in her stomach, the fear in her chest, the tears burning her eyes, the screams tearing at her throat —

"Here's your chance," she says.

Simon clenches his jaw, his arrogant smile turning angry. He lunges for her neck —

And Julia rolls off the bed, kicking it toward him as she lands on the floor. Simon flings himself over the mattress and she scrambles to her feet. He reaches for something along his hip and —

Julia shoves the vitals monitor in his direction and ducks to the floor —

And a bang explodes —

And a gust of wind rushes past her head —

(he tried to shoot her — )

(he almost shot her — )

(he almost —)

The gun flies from Simon's hand as he's smacked to the floor by the machine, glass shattering across the tile, and Julia eyes the free weapon. She pushes herself to her feet, running toward the gun —

And she's almost there —

She almost has it —

She can end this —

All of this —

She can —

Simon's thick arms slide around her and jerk her down —

And she slams onto the tiled floor, groaning at his weight on top of her. Simon clutches her down but she screams, kicks, yells, claws at him, working her way out of his hold —

But he clenches his thighs and her arms compress to her sides and she can't move, she can't break free, she can't do anything, she can't —

Simon throws his fist into her face —

Julia chokes at the impact, her head whipping back —

He grabs her by her hair, forcing her head up and punches her. Again and again, her head rocking this way and that as the air is stripped from her lungs —

Simon brings his hands to her throat —

And Julia gasps for what little breath she can —

And he squeezes. He squeezes and squeezes until veins bulge along his neck and his hair falls into his face that contorts with exertion. Julia squirms under him, trying in vain to break his grasp, and he only grips her tighter, harder, pressing, crushing her neck —

And the room dims —

And her eyes flutter shut —

And her lungs burn —

And she wants to welcome the darkness —

But she fights it. As if by sheer determination alone, she can stay awake. She will not die, she —

She feels something.

Cold brushes against her fingertips —

Julia reaches for the gun, (grabbing hold of something thin and sharp instead) and jerks her arm upward with everything she has left. Her arm breaks free and Simon cries out, falling backwards —

Julia rolls onto her side, coughing and gasping for air as quick as she can inhale it. She looks at her hand, dripping in red, and realizes she holds a shard of glass from the monitor she threw. She looks to Simon clutching his face as blood seeps between his fingers.

She sliced his other cheek.


She staggers to her feet, moving toward him, and drags him to his. She slams him against the wall, barring her arm across his chest —

And she stops.

She not only cut his face —

She cut his eye. Blood pours from the socket and Julia sees tears streaking through the bright red and it's so gross, she can hardly look at him but —

He almost killed her.

He almost killed him.

(Peter — )

(where are you?)

Julia presses the shard of glass to his throat. "Where is he?" She demands.

Simon laughs through his sobs of pain.

Julia jostles him, screaming, "Where is he?!"

The door hisses open again and Julia turns, throwing an arm around Simon, holding him against her while keeping the shiv to his throat. And there's that man. The tall, pale one, the one from the warehouse, the one who punched her so hard she threw up. He steps toward her and she steps back. "Don't," she warns, pressing the blade along Simon's neck. Her eyes dart to the doorway.

The other one — an older man — stands in the entrance resting his hands over a black cane. His thin fingers grab hold of the silver skull atop the cane and sift through the wreckage scattered through the room. "Simon, Simon, Simon," he chides, disapprovingly. "What have you done this time?"

"She attacked me, sir." Simon leans over, spitting blood from his mouth, and Julia rolls her eyes as she forces him back against her. She watches the older man carefully even though he looks as if he were making his grocery list in his head.

"Kill him, if you like," he speaks out. "Honestly, you would be doing me a favor."

Julia looks at him, puzzled. But not for long. Not knowing when she'll have the chance again, she turns Simon around.

"Where is he?" She repeats.

"You'll never see him again."

"Last chance."

"If you kill me, you'll never see him again."

Julia presses the glass into his skin and brings herself closer to his bloodied face. "What the hell does that mean?" She growls, ignoring the smell of blood wafting into her nose.

Simon chuckles, his teeth coated in red. "It means you've lost your leverage," he whispers, his voice breezy and light.

Julia's chest heaves with furious breaths. He's got her. He's got her right where he wants her. She should have known she can't get what she wants. She never does.

She just wants to know if Peter's safe.

If he's even alive…

Julia throws the shard of glass to the floor and turns around slowly, showing her hands in surrender. Simon grunts with satisfaction, or pain, as he steps around her, kicks the glass away, and grabs his gun from the floor. He aims at her head but Julia doesn't care. Her eyes are fixed on the doorway where two more men in lab coats hurry into the room. They move toward her and Julia reels back, her hands balling into fists —

"Easy, Julia," the old man exhorts. She looks at him. "They are here to help. We all are."

"I don't need anything from you," she snaps.

"We are not your enemy, Julia."

"Well, we're definitely not going to hold hands and sing Kumbaya around the campfire! Not after what he did to me," she adds, her cold glare lingering on Simon. "To all those people! To — "

Julia stops herself.

She can't even say his name aloud. She can't betray him like that again. She won't let them use her against him.

But Simon seems to know exactly what she was going to say without her having to even speak his name. A smirk snarls at the corner of his mouth, his one eye swollen shut, and Julia shifts her gaze to the floor. She can't bear to look at him. What she did to him pales in comparison what he's done to her. He's the one who's hurt yet she is in more pain.

It's not fair.

"Mr. Lincoln," the old man says. "Would you be so kind as to remove Doctor Marshall?"

Julia lifts her head.

Simon stares at him. "Are you kidding?"

"Now, Mr. Lincoln," the man continues.

Simon scoffs as the tall one, Lincoln — Lonnie, if Julia remembers right — grabs Simon by his upper arm and escorts him out of the room.

The old man inhales deeply. "There," he remarks, a smile stretching his leathered face. "That is better. More room to breathe now that his ego is not taking up the whole room."

Julia looks him over. She has to really listen through his thick Italian accent. And there's something else. There's a calmness in his voice that relaxes her tense muscles, but maybe that's just from Simon being out of the room.

"I understand your hesitancy, Julia," he says. "I expect it. This must all be very overwhelming. But trust is a two way street. You seek answers, I am sure, and I am happy to give them to you so long as you allow Doctor Harrow and Doctor Connors to ensure you are healthy." He gestures to the two men who retreated in fear upon realizing her instability.

Julia relaxes her shoulders even more, and nods.

The man flicks his head toward her and one doctor brings her to the bed as the other readies it for her. She sits on the mattress as the men listen to her heartbeat, measure her pulse, and check her pupils for dilation. Julia glances at the old man just watching her.

"I was with a boy," she tells him. "Where is he?"

The man gives her a smile. "Safe."

Julia heaves a sigh of relief. That's all she wanted to hear.

(even if it's a lie — )

"As is his identity," he adds. "Our community knows of him as Spider-man but the public remains unaware."

Julia nods. She can work with that. All these men are probably criminals like Simon and Lonnie and Mr. Thompson.

"But you must know," the man adds, worriedly, "he tried to stop us from helping you."

Julia's brow furrows. "Helping me?"

"That Stark technology in your belly," he says, pointing to her shirt with his cane. "Who do you think got it out and healed you to near perfection?"

"Doctor Strange was gonna do that," she defends.

"He could not have healed you."

"You don't know what he's capable of."

"You do not know what I am capable of."

Julia swallows thickly. Something inside of her shrinks but at least it's not her courage.

"So you drug me?" She accuses. "Put me on lock down? It's no wonder Peter tried to stop you."

"He tried to stop us from saving you. He did not want to see you healed otherwise you would not need him. You have always been a fighter, a warrior. This proves that." He points to the wreckage they sit in. Julia follows his gaze to the knocked over machines, shattered glass, and blood spattered floor.

She looks away.

"You would be better than him," he says. "And that boy could not have that."

Julia immediately shakes her head. "No. No, Peter's not like that. He wouldn't do that."

The man sighs deeply and takes a seat next to her on the bed. "The truth is ugly to hear but beautiful as it frees the soul."

Julia sits with him in silence as the doctors continue their inspection.

It can't be true. She knows Peter, she was with him. She was with him in the hallway and then —

And then it all happened so fast —

And —

And he was gone —

And she was here.

There's a blank in her memory where she doesn't know what happened. She doesn't know the truth. But the man sitting beside her does.

"Why go through all the trouble for me?" She says, angrily wiping her wet eyes.

"Because we look after our own, giovanotta. You helped build Simon's Juvenator — "

"No," she interrupts. "No, that was an accident — "

"And we did not want that wound Simon created to hinder your abilities," he says, speaking over her. She wishes she could do the same but a sentence like that is hard to ignore.

"What abilities?" She asks.

He pats her knee. "Everything in it's time." He stands from the bed, chuckling to himself as he slowly stands. "Time," he quietly repeats. "What an odd concept. What do you know of time, Julia?"

She stares at him.

"Come now. What are they teaching you at school? Or have you already surpassed your peers to NYU?"

Julia opens her mouth, ready to call him out for insulting her friends at Midtown Tech, but she stops herself before saying something she'll regret. This man she's never met before just happens to know everything about her. He ordered his people to save her, his people are checking her now. He obviously has more power than he knows what to do with and she does not want to piss him off.

"Time isn't relative," she answers, not meeting his gaze. "Motion is. The passing of time is interconnected to the concept of space, like how a bowling ball effects a trampoline."

He sighs. "That is a standard, textbook explanation of Einstein's Theory of Relativity, giovanotta. What do you know about time?"

Julia looks at him, at this man who knows what happened to Peter, the last person she really remembers, the person she didn't even get to tell goodbye —

She didn't get to tell a lot of people goodbye. And the one person she did tell is gone forever.

Julia stares at her hands stained with blood.

"There's never enough of it," she says, and her voice is small, more fragile than she would like. But the old man doesn't mind.

"There's never enough," he repeats. His voice is small too. "My daughter, Lucrezia… She was the most beautiful dancer in all of Italia. She truly had a gift for the stage." A smile tugs at the corner of Julia's lips as she watches the man's reminiscent smile. She can feel his love for her, but her smile fades as his smile falls, and Julia knows how this story ends.

"Her life was taken by the harsh betrayal of her own body," he says sadly. "Stage four melanoma."

Julia nods knowingly. "My mother suffered cerebral death, and now she's…"

Julia clears the lump rising in her throat. She can't bring herself to say it. She thought if she said it, she could lessen his pain. But the pain never goes away. She simply forgets it from time to time.

"I am so sorry for your loss," the man says. "A daughter needs her mother."

"She needs her father too," Julia says, tears welling in her eyes, blurring her vision together. An ache shoots through her as a hole opens in Julia's chest, a hole that was closed when she made her peace her mother was gone and now it's opening again at the loss of her father. He's not dead —

(maybe — )

(she hopes — )

(but she doesn't know, not really — )

That hole is widening within her, cracking open and draining her of all hope.

Large drops fall from her eyes, rolling off her cheeks and onto her lap.

She just wants to go home.

"Oh, there, there," the man says, sitting with her again on the bed and placing a weathered hand on hers. "I know you want to see him, and soon, I promise. I simply have a favor to ask."

Julia sniffles back her tears and looks up at him. "What is it?"

"Something was taken from me," he says, tucking a strand of hair behind her ear. "Just like my darling Lucrezia, just like your mother, and you're going to find it."

Julia inhales a shaky breath. "The Juvenator."

He nods, expectant, but she quickly shakes her head.

"I don't remember what happened to it. I — I'm sorry. I don't."

He laughs and squeezes her hand tighter. "You are not hearing me, Julia. You are going to find it. You do want to see your mother again, no? Not just alive but living?"

Something tugs in Julia's heart. She would give anything to see her mother again like she once was.

"Think of that boy," he adds, and Julia's heart skips a beat. "He lost his parents, his uncle. You can bring them back. Think how happy he would be if he lived a normal life with his family again. Find the Juvenator. Do this for him. All you have to do is let us heal you."

Julia looks at the man, thinking of her no longer burned stomach. "You said you had."

He waves his hand and one of the doctors produces a silver case for him. He unlocks it with him thumbprint, the case opening with a hiss, and Julia peers at the vials laying in swirling mist. "We will make you stronger, unstoppable, unbreakable. We will make you…"

Julia's heart pounds in her chest.