If Peter Parker had been offered the choice of going on the final day of school, and staying home, he would have without a doubt picked the latter. He had stayed up all night swinging and clearing his mind, or at least, trying to clear his mind. He hadn't had a day's easy work since he saved the city from the Green Goblin.
Sure, the city was safe... but Spider-man wasn't safe from the city.
With all the news up ever since the 'Green Goblin's Downfall', (both literally and figuratively) Jameson was milking whatever the story was worth. After all, who wouldn't? The perfect piece of news to incriminate the 'Spider freak' once and for all. The monster who he was sure was responsible for what happened to his son, the astronaut with a bright future ahead of him. Even the news outlets that cared nothing for 'superheroes' and 'masked vigilantes' were drawn to the story like a moth to a flame once they heard Norman Osborn had been the one behind the Goblin mask.
The insanely successful head of Oscorp, an insane man? Of course, they interviewed the remainder of the Osborn family. With Emily Osborn grieving for her husband and Harry's testimony on Donald Menken and Globulin Green's effects on someone's mental state, the newspapers were convinced that this was all just a science experiment gone horribly wrong.
And how did Spider-man tie in all this? Well, he was insensitive to mental state, and responsible for Norman Osborn's death, obviously.
Who wouldn't want to talk about that? Who wouldn't pay for the paper? The blood of a rich, successful man on Spider-man's hands was the perfect headline.
"Spider-Freak kills a Mentally Unstable man!"
"Masked Vigilante murders the Head of Oscorp Industries!"
While reading too far into things that the hero did, or hyping things up to be more than they were, was what The Daily Bugle was known for, this was different. This, was a murder. A death. The public was convinced that Spider-man was nothing more than a criminal. Most of the public at any rate. There were still those adamant that the death was either justified, or that Spider-man couldn't have possibly killed someone. But then again, it's one thing to be known in the public eye for helping save people, but another to kill someone- especially one who 'was clearly not in the best state of mind'. People who had relatives or friends who had been reformed criminals started asking questions, speaking up.
Just how far would the masked vigilante go? It could have been anyone's friend, parent, sibling, lover who could be next.
Hardly anyone was willing to risk it. So they didn't.
And this, of course, was the reason why every attempt Peter made to swing outside was short-lived. Soon as anyone saw the web-slinger, or even caught the smallest glimpse of red and blue, along came phone call and the wailing of a police siren just waiting to chase him down. After they were set on his tail, Peter would be stuck spending the majority of the night just trying to find a safe, subtle way to sneak back to his window without waking up Aunt May. And each time when he finally reached his bed, he knocked out cold. It was probably about time he got the message to stop, but he couldn't seem to find it in him to. Not yet. After all, the city still needs a hero... Didn't it?
Peter had been through this rodeo enough times to know that waking up was a rough ride, and then staying awake was the next. Now, he was sitting in the second last row of a half-filled class, at the last period of the last day of school. Most students didn't even bother to come, leaving the classroom empty, and any seat free to be taken. He rested his head on his desk, sighing. Thirty minutes left and he would be left with no more school to help distract him from whatever hell the other half of his life he couldn't give up would bring him. Aside from whatever holiday homework the teachers would be so kind as to grace the students with.
"After receiving enough complaints from your parents and Coaches..." The teacher practically the group of cheerleaders and jocks. "This two week break will be considerably homeworkless."
Peter cursed under his breath. Nevermind then.
The students cheered, some drumming their tables. All except one girl. The sides of his lips turned up as he fixed his gaze on her blonde hair.
To the left of the classroom right next to the door were two only far too familiar figures. Gwen Stacy and Harry Osborn. Sitting side by side. His smile fell.
Peter almost wished they wouldn't come, like most of the students. It would have saved him the heartache... He took in a deep breath.
Everything that had happened to Harry now was his fault... he could feel it. Even though Harry seemed to be pretending nothing had happened at all, he could tell something was off, different in how he acted and treated others. Peter pursed his lips. Both of their social lives were at an all time low, the only difference was that Harry had Gwen by his side. He needed her by his side. The least Peter could do would be to leave him and Gwen alone.
He diverted his eyes to the other side of the classroom only to catch the familiar brown eyes of Liz, whose eyes flitted away faster than he could. How could he face her after what he'd done? Everyone knew just how smitten Liz was with him, and how impossible it was to convince her otherwise when she started dating him. She was acting the same way Harry was. Like nothing ever happened. Even with her outburst in the cafeteria, there were still those who could see through her facade. Mostly those close to her with the exception of Sally. Those who could see through her immediately put the blame on Peter. Peter could feel the glaring eyes of Flash Thompson baring themselves into his back. Any chances of their friendship patching dissipated the second news of him and Liz breaking up spread around the school. Even if the two weren't dating anymore, Flash and Liz had certainly returned to being friends, what with the Cheerleaders and Football team spending so much time together, it was bound to happen. And Peter breaking up with Liz was all that was needed to break the thin thread his reputation hung on. Dating a cheerleader.
His life as Peter Parker couldn't have been worse. His two best friends were off without him, Harry certainly needs Gwen, and Liz was certainly not going to talk to him just as he wasn't going to talk to her. And Mary Jane. Well... She wasn't the 'dating police' . The redhead couldn't care less about who Peter was dating or what gossip was stirring around about him, but she couldn't spend every hour of every day with him. She had a life to live. And seriously, could he blame her?
"On other affairs, when you get back we'll have to do a safety evacuation drill. On account of Midtown Magnet High's... uncanny train of events involving," The professor pursed his lips. "Unwelcome visitors."
From behind the teenager, he could hear Flash Thompson and Kong leading their classmates in a snicker fest.
Peter grit his teeth and tapped his foot on the floor, eyes flitting from the clock to his fingers impatiently. Twenty minutes left.
"Finally, the schoolboard would like to congratulate students, not for the last time, on a job well done! The school play was indeed a success." The man at the front of the classroom, started a round of applause, "St. John Devereaux will be returning to direct another school play."
The applause grew louder.
It was funny how this hurt more than actually being physically hurt. The best he could do was get out of the classroom before Flash confronted him, or worse, he gets caught in a conversation with Harry or Gwen and says more than he ought to or does anything out of line. If he could rely on the normal spring break rush, he should be able to lose anyone who could make the day any worse for him in a jiffy... If he was the first student out of the classroom.
"I trust that you've all had your fun. I would like to..."
Peter Parker stared forward, blanking out as the teacher paced the lacquered wooden floor before them, talking about something along the lines of 'the joy of having taught them' or 'not to slack off too much during break'. The same things every teacher before had said but in a different, rearranged fashion. He rapped his fingers on his desk impatiently.
He glanced at the clock. One minute left.
He counted down the seconds.
The bell rang.
"I shall see you all next term!"
The teacher stepped out of the classroom.
Student desperation, don't fail me now.
The classes outside and hallway erupted with the sounds of doors banging open and teenagers cheering.
Peter had to hold himself back from cheering as he pushed himself up from his seat and grabbed his bag. Grinning like a fool, he set himself with a head start to be the first out of the classroom. He made a mad dash for the door- when the door closed right before he or anyone else could step outside.
His smile was wiped off his face.
Spider senses kicking in, he skidded to a halt at the last moment, stopping mere inches from colliding face-first into the wood... yet a split second later he leaned forward to bump into the door on purpose.
Can't seem too good.
He rubbed his nose, forcing out an 'ow', before spinning on his heels and bracing himself for whoever it was that closed the door.
"Peter! Are you okay?" ...it was Gwen.
Peter opened his eyes, turning to face the last two people he wanted to meet. Fantastic. Typical Parker Luck.
"Nice reflexes. Ya know, if I didn't know any better, I would've thought you were trying to run away from us..." There was Harry's voice, layered in sarcasm.
He seemed to be trying to keep as much distance between Peter and Gwen as possible, interlocking her arm in his and shifting his position between them ever so slightly. There was something more to his voice... something beneath Peter couldn't quite pinpoint. Malice...? And there was Gwen, arm in his, looking at Peter in concern. It almost felt like a crime to talk to either of them. Or for either of them to start talking to him. Harry snickered, shaking his head at Peter.
"Take a few more hits like that to the head, and no one will be looking to you for homework help anymore."
"Oh, cut him some slack Harry, he looks like he hasn't slept well in a while. He wouldn't have collided with the door otherwise. And it wasn't that hard of a hit..." The blonde girl by his side prompted, tugging at his arm- which was returned with a 'Yeah, yeah' and a roll of the eyes.
"Peter, you really need some reflex classes." She added, turning her eyebrows up in concern. Harry was rocking on his heels, with his eyes darting around the classroom impatiently. One hand was holding the door closed. His other hand was uncomfortably angled in his pocket.
Something was up.
Peter stared at Harry's strange gestures, and he could hear the whole class, who had been trapped in there with them beginning to groan and mutter.
"H-hey! Is... isn't that the Osborn kid?"
"...Hmm, yeah... Wait. Doesn't th- that mean... His dad was the Green Goblin...?"
"That freak?" Someone scoffed. "Not surprised. He looks as kooky as his old man."
"I don't trust his face. A look at that hair! Ugh."
"Did you know...? I heard it from Flash himself. We're that close y'know, me and him. He cost us the football championship."
"Wait, that was him?"
"Mhm. And he went missing for a few months way back when. Doing more drugs I bet."
Peter ran his tongue over his teeth, avoiding Harry's gaze, and instead looking Gwen in the eyes. Straining a cheerful, carefree voice, he pulled an awkward smile. "...Yeah, you mean I won't be a genius anymore, genius."
"Exactly." Harry grinned, seemingly not having heard any of the whispers whatsoever. He shoved his hand on his pocket with his free hand and pulled out a small turquoise envelope, holding it out to Peter nonchalantly. Peter carefully took it, fiddling with it in his hands and examining it.
Meanwhile, Harry raised his voice, turning slightly to the rest of the students in the class as if half addressing them as well, who were half standing up, and half seemingly ready to climb out the windows. "So, Spring Break. Got any plans? My mom suggested taking a little trip for about a week or so to Florida, and we're inviting the whole class."
There was a moment of pure silence. Everyone definitely heard that. Peter blinked. The whispers built back up again about suspicions, and distrust. After all, who would trust-
"Also, no need to worry about any fees and all that nonsense, me and my mom have ALL of that covered."
All doubts and suspicions dissipated at once, like a flame is blown out.
The class erupted into cheers.
Harry reached into his coat and slammed a full stack of identical envelopes, just like that which Peter had pocketed onto the closest desk. He seized the topmost one in two fingers and presented it to Gwen with a wink, who held it firmly, examining it with her free hand. Harry smiled fondly as he watched her roll it in her hands before turning back to the class.
"Oh and don't forget to have your guardian sign cause duh, unless ya wanted a 'Missing person' poster with your face on it that is.
In the corner of his eye, Peter caught Gwen raising an eyebrow.
"Oh, yeah... and the seats on the plane where somewhat limited, so I could only get so many seats reserved for this little thing we have scheduled, but on the plus side, that means this is the only class I'll be able to do this for, so consider yourselves lucky." The boy said, flashing his classmates a glinted smile. "Take one only everyone, I mean, what're you going to do with more than one in the first place?"
His eyes glazed the classroom, eyeing the students present.
"It's a shame Hobie seems to be running in late, he missed out on the best thing that's happened this whole year!" Harry chuckled, shrugging his shoulders.
Kong chuckled, nudging his girlfriend next to him. "I bet we'll be the envy of the whole school in no time flat."
"You implying we aren't already?" Glory rolled her eyes, sacking her boyfriend's shoulder gently.
"I- wait a second... Are we sure about this? Something just doesn't sit right with me. You know who his dad was, right? The Green Goblin. The freaking Green Goblin! And like that's not bad enough, he went ahead and juiced his way through the football league! We can't really trust him can w-" Flash shouted. It sounded like he was going to go on a rant- but this was cut off.
"C'mon Flash, You're always thinking the worst of anyone. Anyways, whatever it is, it's his treat. You didn't have any problems with him paying for everything in the past from what I recall... especially if it involved food at the Silver Spoon. You think I'd care about a little family drama?" It was the voice of Rand. "You've got to give him the benefit of the doubt. He lost his father, and I'm sure he's going through a hard ti-"
"B-but you know what they say! Like father, like son..." Flash cut back in, making a cacophony as he pushed his chair back aggressively. "You remember the son of that dumb editor at The Daily Bugle?! The one that keeps making those bogus cl-claims about Spider-Man! You know what happened to him, he ended up in the psych ward! What was he... John... Jameson? We all know the only reason his dad hasn't gone after him as well is that they're blood-related, otherwise I bet you he'd be treating his son like another cash cow like he does Spidey."
"Even now, you still can't handle da troof, can you Flashie?" Sally Avril scoffed. Her own chair screeched as she stood up- pointing at Flash Thompson. "Spider-man's a criminal!"
At the mention of the astronaut, Rand's tone changed. "John Jameson was like a brother to me." He said in a low voice, giving his fellow jocks a look that meant he was serious, finally putting an end to the conversation.
The murmuring stirred again, this time holding a slightly more suspicious view of the invitations from the Osborn. If any of the popular kids wouldn't go, what was the point?
A voice cut through the murmur, like a hot knife slices butter.
"Well, I'm taking one if no one else will. I know exactly why Flash isn't taking it, who would've thought Harry Osborn would extend his generosity outside the exclusive group of popular kids for once?" Someone from far behind the classroom exclaimed, loud enough that even Peter could hear from the door. If things hadn't been so different now, it was obvious that they could only imagine that they would have been the only ones invited.
"They're selfish! Jealous! Look, as long as I'm getting a free ticket to the theme park epicentre of America, who cares?" The same voice scoffed.
"H-hey, that's right! We can think whatever the heck we want of him, all the matter is that he's paying isn't it?" Another classmate added, standing up.
This was all it took for the general opinion to be swayed once more, for the final time, leading to the sounds of teenagers rushing in a herd to be among the lucky few to grab one of the elegant green envelopes.
Letting his grip on the knob loosen, Harry Osborn let the door of the classroom swung open.
"You have today and tomorrow, I'll see you on Sunday. Details on the venue inside!"
There was Harry, looking very smug- grinning from ear to ear. He had heard every word and was now admiring the chaos that was purely his doing. Sporadic cheers were going up in the classroom, as he turned back to Gwen and Peter, putting an arm around the shoulder of each and guiding them out of the classroom.
Gwen was looking incredulously from Peter to Harry, to and fro. Peter couldn't help but do the same, but from Gwen to Harry. There was a strange tension between all three of them, in which none of them could find it in them to break away.
They walked down the crowded hallway at a jovial pace and reached the doors of the entrance soon enough, all of which was standing wide open to accommodate the sheer amount of teens moving in and out of them at a breakneck pace. The red-headed boy was still smiling as he practically manhandled them down the staircase, and it had reached a point wherein the silence, they had both felt that something was almost abnormal.
Harry came decidedly to a stop at the midway point between the staircase and gate- right next to the fountain. He let out a resounding sigh.
Peter and Gwen looked at each other. They both knew the other was thinking the same thing- but quickly broke eye contact, him deciding to stare awkwardly at his shoes, and her, suddenly finding a stray lock of hair that had fallen in front of her ear very interesting.
They were both snapped out of their trance as Harry's arms seemed to stiffen slightly around their necks.
Coming back to her senses, Gwen immediately burst into action, being the first to speak an actual word since the trio has stepped out of the classroom.
"H-Harry... Wh-what's going on?" The blonde girl laughed, tugging gently at Harry's arm around her neck. "All this generosity? It's, well, not to be rude but..."
"...But?" He raised an eyebrow turning to her. "What's wrong with wanting to be a little selfless from time to time?"
Peter, on the other hand, ducked under and successfully slipped out of his companion's grasp. He opted instead to stand a few footsteps away from them, rubbing the back of his neck. "Yeah... hey man, this is the first time you've ever done anything like this. It's... new. I mean, there's nothing wrong with it, don't get me wrong!" He waved his hands in the air frantically, "I-it's just... the whole class... Well, they..."
"-I think what Peter means to say is, they don't exactly think the best of you right now. What with well, everything." Gwen swooped in. "I don't know if they'll exactly be the best company, you know?" She looked at him, her face riddled with concern.
"Gwen, Pete, puhlease, there's nothing to worry about! Besides, I got you two with me too," Harry shook his head slowly, laughing. "You know what they say, keep your friends close... " Peter could've sworn that he saw Harry glance at him. "...keep your enemies closer."
"Well, alright, but... well..." She said slowly, finally sliding out from under Harry's grasp to allow herself to reach into her left pocket. She looked conflicted, pulling out the envelope. "About my going..." She ran her tongue over her teeth. "I'm not sure I can-"
Harry turned suddenly, grabbing her hand and moving his own around them such that he was cupping the envelope in the palm of her hand. He raised his eyes to hers, shaking his head. "Gwen. Please."
The boy took a step forward, closing up space between them. "Do you realize how many quote-unquote 'getaways' I've been dragged into, but never have I felt like I had actually 'got away' from anything. It was always like 'Go here Harry, with your dad Harry, to this seemingly exotic location so you could get out of NYC for a little bit! It'll be fun!' But in reality, my dad stuck himself in a boardroom and had me wait right outside. I wouldn't say I was able to go or do anything." He grit his teeth.
"I know it's a little weird to think of but... now that my dad's no longer with us... Maybe I can finally do...things." Harry looked Gwen in the eyes. "I can actually spend a break like a normal kid. For the first time, a-and, I want to spend it with you."
She swallowed, hard. Gwen looked away, turning to Peter for a second. She wanted to spend her break with him. But... the girl caught Harry's desperate look and sighed. Peter lent her an understanding look, and walked away slowly, not wanting to break the conversation or make things any worse... Or more awkward than they already were.
Gwen veered around back to Harry and nodded, turning up the sides of her lips into a tightly closed mouth smile.
"I'll ask my dad to sign it."
"Yes!" Harry cheered, pumping a fist into the air. "You are not going to regret this. I have so many things planned. I heard Curt Connors moved to Florida at a new research lab! Don't you and Peter worked with him? It's... Something something... Melding biology with prosthetic limbs or to make them feel, Something like that. I don't know, I think I overheard someone talking about it a few days ago to mom..." He interlaced his fingers with hers, seemingly engrossed in whatever it was he had to say. He shot Peter a quick grin as he waved goodbye, leading Gwen away towards to fountain.
She waved as well, but at the mention of Doctor Connors, her eyes lit up and Peter noticed how she leaned in closer to hear more of whatever she could about him.
Peter turned away, starting to step towards the gates out of the school compound.
The least he could do was leave them alone.
It was the least... He could do.
Peter squeezed his way through the doors of the subway, attempting to find his footing amongst the many other people minding their own business on the train. 5 pm rush hour, figures. He had... a lot on his mind now. This wasn't why he was taking the train through. He had had enough experience swinging through the city with his head in the clouds. Forest Hills was just two train stops away, it wasn't much to walk or swing- but he was so lost in his thoughts from, well... Everything, that it was only after the train came to a stop in front of the station together (and someone stepped on his foot) with several schoolmates with familiar faces that he realized that he had taken the subway. Ever since he had figured out the web-fluid, the only times he had ever taken the subway were to see Gwen back home (which he hadn't done since the beginning of Sophomore year), or that time he chased down Doc Connors in his lizard form.
He walked quickly to the closest space he could, stumbling between a well-dressed woman a head shorter than him and a figure wearing a hoodie, a head taller than him. He put his hands on a vertical pole purely out of habit, not that he needed it for balance anymore. The teen stared in the window of the door closest to him, finding a nice place to look while avoiding making eye contact with anyone nearby.
A cloudy, utterly ordinary reflection stared back. One he knew only too well, albeit without the old black-rimmed glasses he used to wear. Yet, of course, the cover wasn't the book, he hadn't been ordinary for a long while by now. He was the Spectacular Spider-Man... who was not doing spectacularly as of now. He held back a bitter laugh. If people knew who he was, he could only wonder what would happen.
Heh, Spider-Man, taking public transport.
It was because of him being so caught up in the costume that Harry turned to Globulin Green to cope with school and social life. It was because of Spidey... again that he lost his father. If he hadn't spent all that time tangled with Black Cat and was honest with Eddie from the get-go, would things have gone the way they did? He lost the trust of the Connors, and even though his grades had yet to take a dip, it was hard enough trying to keep up. They had given him a second chance, but that didn't change the fact that he did what he did. Name after name popped into his head, and Peter couldn't help but wonder... was this all... his fault? After all, he did... Still kill someone. Should he just... rip the bandaid off and confess?
He closed his eyes, squeezing the pole on his hand. His knuckles turned white. The train came rolling to a stop, and an announcement from the speaker overhead called out the name of the stop.
Buried in memories, he almost didn't notice his Spider-sense tingling in the back of his head until it grew to be the equivalent of someone shouting in his face. He moved out of the way, using the pole as a pivot to swing out of the way just in time to avoid brushing his shoulder against someone dashing away right past him. This... was familiar.
"My purse! Help, that guy snatched my purse!" A shrill yell cut through the air of the crowded train.
Peter cursed to himself, snapping his head towards the source of the voice. it was the woman he passed when he entered the train, pointing straight at the guy who passed him buy.
Letting go of the pole, he almost jumped into action when he caught a glance of a face he remembered from science class. With how often Professor Warren called his name, there was no doubt he'd be recognized. His eyes widened, and he found himself stuck between lifting his right leg and putting it back on the ground. He couldn't risk getting found out, but... he... he couldn't look the other way. A few other people, including the hooded figure from earlier.
It took a moment, but he finally put his foot down firmly. He knew he could outrun any of them. All he'd have to do is improvise.
He bent his knees and jumped up- grabbing the bars that the grab handles of the train hung on. As soon as he did so, the people closest to him began to automatically shift out of the way, none willing to risk getting an air kick from the lunatic acting like a monkey.
It didn't take long for the people along the train to get the message, and they all moved away, leaving a clear path through the train cars. Peter landed on the floor with a thud, changing to a run.
He passed by the other pursuers, catching a glimpse of two people running ahead of him. One the thief, swinging his arms desperately, gripping a bright red handbag in his right hand. The other, the hooded figure he passed by next to the lady from earlier. Peter wasn't surprised he had a lead on the pickpocket.
What did catch him off guard, however, was that the doors were all open on the train for the stop. In all the commotion, no one had stepped into the train, leaving the closest doorway clear for the thief to duck through.
And rush out the door, he did. Just as the doors began to close, and Peter came skidding to a halt right behind them, the hooded stranger grabbed the thief by the collar, yanking him back into the train. The stranger turned around, pulling his hood down and holding the pickpocket up in the air by his collar.
"Hey miss, I think I got him! I-I... Yeah!" He announced, looking around the train. Peter blinked, taking a few steps back as he recognized the stranger.
Wasn't that... the guy who tested out for the football team? Hobie Brown, right?
He definitely beat you fair and square.
"Sorry it took so long, man this guy is fas-" Hobie was cut off, and before he could finish his sentence, the train erupted into claps, cheers and whistles. The woman from earlier rushed forward, thanking her hero profusely, and snatched her purse out of the struggling thief's hands, stomping away. He blinked.
"Hah! Who needs that Spider guy when we've got the people of New York City? Man, I love living here. " Someone announced, and his statement was backed up by a second uproar of claps.
Peter ducked his head and fumbled backwards into the mass of people grouping around. This was the second time Peter found himself stuck in a cheering entourage, and they weren't cheering for him, or Spidey. Quite the opposite rather.
The train started to move once again, making the passengers jolt. The cheers started to become more spaced out, the claps slowed, and they all returned to their initial positions, some turning back to look at their phones or their books.
He scratched his neck, turning around to blend back into the crowd. He began retracing his steps, wandering back to the place where he came from. Keeping his head down, he dragged his feet along, ignoring the stares he got from the other commuters he sure saw him using the bars of the train as monkey bars.
The train came to a stop once more and the doors opened, just as Peter was about to reach the spot where he just came from.
Third stop. H-hang on, third!?
He spun on his heels, making a mad dash back to the closest exit and speeding out of the doors sheer seconds before the doors closed behind. His ankle barely grazed the automatic doors until he finally bent over, resting on his knees to catch his breath.
Dang it, Parker, you're getting slow! You better not be aging as fast as a Spider. A two-year lifespan and the age of 16 is so not cool...
A bus groaned away down the road past him, from Forest Hills on towards its' next stop. A motley collection of owls who sat obscured like phantoms above a street lamp flew away in response. Within minutes, Peter was striding down the sidewalk under the same streetlamp- past a rat nosing around the bins to step onto the front porch.
The sun was nearly setting.
Peter walked toward the wooden door, rolling the envelope in his pocket again and again. Pursing his lips, he wondered how he would explain everything to Aunt May... or if he should at all. There was just way too much to think about when it came to leaving New York City. He had a responsibility, but...he also had a life. But then again, it would depend on whether she was home at all. Her books had sold considerably well, and for all he knew, she could be somewhere out there getting new groceries, or talking to her publisher. He'd long given up convincing her to stop cooking ever since he saw just how her eyes lit up whenever she picked up her pen and adjusted her glasses to write. Sure... some of them were hits and misses... and she was certainly getting a little too creative- but it gave her joy. To her, there was nothing better. He wouldn't take it away from her for the world. She might even have been spending her afternoon over at Mary Jane's Aunt's house, sharing her new idea for a dessert or exchanging the latest discount vouchers. He chuckled, all tension dissipating as he unlocked the door, opening it slowly to reveal that the light had been on.
Aunt May was home... her back away from the door, and facing an oven. She turned around hearing the door creak open.
"Peter! Well, this is certainly the first time in a long while you've come home immediately from school. Is there any reason for it?" She turned the timer, and it began counting down the seconds. "Did anything interesting happen today?"
And there we go... the tension is back.
"Hey, c'mon. Do I need a reason? It's the last day of school! I'm just soaking it in before I have to get a mass of homework done." He said slowly, letting his slingbag slide off his shoulder as he closed the door.
He had no schoolwork. Peter felt his jaw tighten. He hated lying, most of all to Aunt May.
The floorboard creaked beneath him as he strode over towards her. His eyes darted around until finally, they rested on the oven. Another experiment. He was glad for a reason to postpone talking about the invitation... just yet. "W-well-What are you making this time? Deep fried bananas? A coconut-sugared... Pomegranate cookie?" Peter squinted, leaning over on his toes.
"Oh-no, Nothing as daring as that, just trying something new." She tapped her chin. "I'm trying out a new method for baking pancakes... for people who have the habit of making them stick to the ceiling." She said slyly, nudging him with her shoulder. He smiled sheepishly, veering away to grab a glass from the kitchen cabinet. "I hope that you haven't been assigned too much homework. Harry's mother sent me an email. I'm not sure you've heard about it, or if you've been told, but he's taking a flight to Florida on Sunday with Gwen. I heard her father finally let her go." The older woman looked over to Peter. "She asked me if I could let you go as well."
He froze, his hand stopping mid-air.
"You don't have to go of course, it is up to you, but she did seem especially hopeful that you would come. What with you being Harry's best friend, and well... she remembered your relationship to her late husband." She continued. "Even considering the... Goblin thing, he was your mentor after all. I suppose she figured you needed as much of a break from New York City as his own family."
Yeah... some mentor he turned out to be. Peter wasn't sure- no. He knew he couldn't sympathize with them quite as much as they needed. Not when he knew what the true nature of Globulin Green was, or who Norman Osborn really was. And yet-
"I-I know. Harry invited me." The boy's hand finally resumed motion, and he turned on the tap to fill the glass. "A-aunt May? I, I don't know if I'll be the best person for Harry in this time. Or Mrs. Osborn... It's just, well..." He put the filled cup down on the table as he turned to her. general direction, avoiding her direct gaze. He pulled the envelope out from his pocket, sliding it over to her. "I- I don't know..."
A moment of silence.
"I can't force you to go." She sighed. "But, I think I should know better than anyone else what losing the man you love is like. It's... not something you come back from easily. And it's not something you can ever truly get over. When your Uncle Ben passed, but it was my friends who helped see me through."
Peter's grip on the cup softened.
"The Osborns need you." He heard the click of a pen, and the scratching noises of it on paper. "Just, maybe you should consider."
He finally turned to look at her and the opened envelope on the table. Tears were pricking at the corners of her eyes.
Peter took in a breath. He... He pulled a tight lipped smile and gave a curt nod.
They had barely had enough time before they were interrupted by a sharp smell.
A smoky, albeit sweet, smell suddenly began to fill the room, and they both snapped their heads to the oven.
"The PANCAKES!" They cried in unison.
Both rushed to their feet, making a mad dash for the oven.
A/N: Hello! This is a writing project by a singular gal who discovered Spectacular Spiderman reallly late. English is not my first language, but any advice or constructive criticism is greatly appreciated! Feel free to drop a review any time. I've read a lot of SSM continuation fics before I started this, so I'm a little worried that my subconscious would be mildly influenced by them, but I'll try to keep this as original and unique as possible! I have a lot of plans for this season continuation, so sit tight and I hope you stick around for the ride!
On other notes, I've noticed a lot of people were asking me about the shipping in this fic on . Well, I will say one thing. I personally found the Gwen-Peter development quite endearing, but I also did find the Liz thing kinda cute too. However, you can rest assured that while I will get Gwen and Peter together in this (I'm not going to hide that) fanfic somewhere along the way, it won't last forever. The endgame ship I have in mind is Peter/MJ. I still believe wholeheartedly that the two of them are the soulmates, and were meant for each other. This honestly isn't even a spoiler anymore considering how everyone knows that Gwen doesn't exactly uh, make it through to the 'death to us part' part of their relationship- ironically. The way I'll get towards it though, won't be immediate. I want to make sure the character relationships in this fic flow like normal human relationships flow. As far as I'm aware, the next soul in Peter's life is Gwen, and that's a loop I'll have to jump to before I can end it off nicely with MJ with a bow.