Mary Jane walked home in a daze. Her slippers were lost at the bottom of the Hudson. She didn't know whose shoes she was wearing. Her robe was torn and filthy, and her head was bleeding, but these details were a blur to her. Once, she had to stop in a doorway to weep convulsively. Then again a block later, sobs tearing out of her with a force that left her nauseous and weak, leaning against the wall. She felt alternately unreal and dazed, and then terrified.

She had been dropped to certain death from the Brooklyn Bridge. And she had survived. Saved by a man who had calmly invited her to climb to safety while he held thirty lives by a thread. No, thirty-one. A superhero who could do things no human could.

And all she could think of was Peter.

She did not know how long she wandered. When she looked up, she was not in her neighborhood at all. She was in front of his apartment.

Again she wept, unable to control the sobs, and she began to run. She rang the bell. There was no answer. She called up to Harry's window. "Harry! Peter!" She screamed it. "PETER"

No one replied. Her heart was pounding. Her breath came raw and painful in her chest. She did not know why she had screamed. Why any of this was happening. It began to rain.

Downstairs, Josh leaned out of his apartment and asked, "MJ?"

She felt relief at the sight of a familiar face. "Oh, Josh, Josh! Um...." She stood there suddenly awkward, feeling ridiculous, trying to think of what on earth to say. Had the scene at the bridge been on television news? Did Josh know?

"Um....I've had a terrible day and I got locked out in my pajamas and I don't have a key and I just need to get into Peter's place please" The last words were a scream? Or a whisper? She was in shock. She couldn't tell. It was raining harder.

Apparently she sounded hysterical enough. Or he had seen the footage on the news. He disappeared from the window without a word, appeared at the door, and let her inside. She pushed past him and ran up the stairs to pound on their door. "Peter? Harry?"

He followed her up. "MJ, honey, I think they're out. I've got a key. Hang on. Are you okay, honey? Do you need something? A towel? Are you okay?" He asked her these last questions peering intently into her face. Rainwater was dripping down her face from her hair. The bandage on her temple was soaked.

She took a deep breath and tried to focus. "Yeah, Josh, yeah. I'm, okay. I told you, I had a bad day. But I'm okay now. I swear," she lied.

He stared at her, then let it drop. "Okay...Here you go." The door swung open. "Are you sure?" he asked again.

"Yes, really. I'm so sorry to trouble you. I'm fine. I'm fine. Thanks." She turned away from him so he would leave. She wanted to be alone. Or with Peter. She needed to hide.

The apartment was dark, and she let the door click behind her. Again she felt sobs building up in her chest, but nothing came out. There didn't seem to be much left inside of her. Shaking, she turned on a low light and stumbled upstairs. She was in Peter's bedroom.

She'd certainly never been there without him; without Harry; in the dark... She had a fierce urge to crawl under the covers on his bed, and wait there, safe, until he came home. But that would be nuts. He'd think I was nuts. I'm dating Harry, for Christ's sake. He'd think I'd completely lost my mind -

Unless he knew - unless he'd seen her on the evening news himself.

The memories swirled in her head and she felt the world turn with them. She had to grab the wall to stay standing. What had happened to her that night? When would she see Peter so it could all be better? Could he really make it better? Could anyone? Please God, let this all be a nightmare.

In the end, she chose his stuffed chair. She pulled a patched blanket off of his bed, wrapped herself in it. It smelled like him.

How did she know that?

She couldn't stop the tears from running down her chin and soaking the edge of the comforter, which was not doing its job. She was still soaking wet, and shivering. She sat, and she cried; she prayed; and then she slept.

Later, Peter would never be able to remember how exactly he got home. It took so much time for him to cover each successive block; to get from one rooftop to the next... His head was spinning from Osborn's blows, from lack of blood, from shock. His ribs were broken. Blood streamed from the wounds on his chest and face; it coated his hands so that he struggled to climb each wall. He couldn't stop shaking. His body seemed to fight each breath - it wanted him to pass out instead of continuing this charade. He was racked with coughs that cut deep within him. He was exhausted; his head whirled. He wasn't always sure if he was awake.

Yet slowly he limped across rooftops. He spun webs and weakly crept across alleys from above. He was misjudging his leaps badly, and more than once he slammed into a wall. He left bloody handprints with each jump.

He came to his neighborhood. On the rooftop across from his own, he felt the darkness rise up and try to smother him. He swayed and nearly fell, grabbing a wall to stay upright. Blinked to try and clear the miasma. Struggled to breathe. He was running out of time.

In the dark, he shot a web to the wall above his window, and swung across the alley to his building. He landed on the wall above his window but couldn't hold on. Slipping in his own blood, he stumbled awkwardly down onto his fire escape.

It was so hard to stay on his feet. Again he felt consciousness threaten to leave him completely. He fought against dizziness and slumped against his window. All he had to do was open it, and climb in...he could do this...He struggled to find the latch; grasped it - but his fingers slipped off, leaving brown wet streaks on the dirty paint.

It was too late. As he reached for the latch a second time, struggling for breath and balance, he instead fell to his hands and knees; his hands slid out from under him and he collapsed. He struggled briefly against unconsciousness, and then all of it faded into pain and blackness.

He lay lifeless, pale as death. Blood dripped from his outstretched hand and mixed with the rain.

MJ gasped and opened her eyes, feeling panicked. What had wakened her? She huddled into the chair and looked wildly around her. Her heart was pounding. She gripped the comforter with white knuckles as if that could protect her.

But nothing had changed in the room. The low light shone up from downstairs, but no one had come home. No one was there.

Slowly she relaxed a little, breath still coming raggedly. She wiped her face with the back of her hand and uncurled her stiff legs a little. They ached.

She slowly arose, and then she stretched. It felt strange to do something so normal with her body while her mind busied itself remembering her fall from the Brooklyn Bridge, and the man who had saved her. The contrast made her head hurt.

She realized it was stuffy in the upstairs room. She rolled her shoulders to loosen the kinks, and decided to let in some air.

She walked across the room, pulled the window open, and saw him.

She screamed! pulled back in quick terror. The body was motionless. Who was it? She looked around her for help, but there was none. The police, the police, she thought wildly, but she didn't run to the phone. Instead, she just stood there feeling slightly hysterical - and then, acting on what could only be a completely insane impulse, reached out to touch the still man. He was lying on his back. She couldn't see him well in the darkness.

Her hand touched his shoulder, and she felt the stickyness of drying blood. Then, underneath the blood - her heart sped up suddenly - his clothes - a cloth that was not a cloth at all - a cloth that she knew - she had threads from it under her nails from when they had swung over the Hudson -

She felt her head swim; time stopped. Her pulse was in her throat. But it was he. The superhero who had saved her lay crumpled on the fire escape in his own blood. His costume was rent and shredded; his skin and lifeblood lay exposed to the rain. His face was turned away from her, his features still covered in shreds of the ruined mask. She saw black hair.

She knew she couldn't call for help. Realizing she had frozen, she uttered an animal grunt and forced herself to move, to grab him. She reached both arms out and grabbed his shoulders, pulling him toward her. As she touched him he gasped. She saw his head roll towards her, the lips parted, but he was not conscious. His dead weight pressed against her hands. She passed her arm under his shoulders, struggling with his weight. His head fell loosely back, neck arched. The rain plastered her hair to both of them and made his costume slippery in her hands.

As she pulled him to her, she saw the lips that she had so recently kissed; now they were red with blood and trembling as he seemed to struggle to breathe. She could not believe what was happening. What the hell is he doing here? What the fuck is going on?

She pulled him towards her, his head cradled in her arms, and somehow began to bring him inside. Thank God the bed was under the window. She dropped onto it with him halfway in her arms; pushed her hair out of her eyes, gasping with effort and nerves. Her hands were covered in his blood. They left streaks on her face.

She stared at him. He lay awkwardly across the bed, legs splayed, one hand palm up in helplessness. His head was flung back across her lap and his face was inches from hers.

He was human. He was obviously human. He had hands, palms, neck, ears. All of this she could see where the material of his costume had been ripped away. All of it was bruised, bleeding, broken. What had happened after he had been torn from them? Where was the freak that had done this? Would he return? She felt her heart clench at the thought, and pressed it away. Please God, no. Don't think about that.

The man lay motionless; then he coughed once and shivered. He moved his head weakly against her stomach; raised a hand slightly off of the bed; made a noise in his throat; struggled to breathe. She leaned over him, and heard herself speak. "Hey, hey....mister....hey, I'm here...." She willed him to hear her, to somehow let her keep him alive with her words. She knew, with dry clarity, that a hospital wasn't really an option. Was this it, then? The end of this man? Would he bleed to death on Peter's bed?

She couldn't think of anything to do but hold him; how do you heal a superhero? She rocked him, spoke to him, and prayed. Her tears landed in his face and soaked into the torn mask that she didn't think of removing. His wet hair stuck to her pajamas. He would lay deathly still at times; or he coughed, or gasped, or shivered. Sometimes he moaned or seemed to be trying to speak, but no words emerged. He did not awaken. Once he grabbed her hand and held it briefly. Unexpected strength left a bruise before his hand opened again, and fell back down to the bed.

Sometime much later, in the darkness, it occurred to her that he was as wet and cold as she. She did not know if he was dying, but she felt the need to cover him. She slid herself out from under him and placed his head gently down. There didn't seem to be a pillow that she could give him. But there was at least a blanket. She grabbed the damp comforter from the chair and covered him. Still he shivered, and moaned. And into the night and the early morning she mopped his brow and crooned to him, willing him to recover, to survive.

What had the world come to? What twisted reality was this? She didn't try to imagine answers.

Before dawn came, her exhaustion began to make itself known. Sleep crept nearer to her as she sat by the bed. She lay her head on the covers and dreamed.

She dreamed of Peter...Peter showing up to save them...Peter holding her in his arms...Peter somehow making things right. "Peter," she mumbled...

"MJ", came a quiet reply. She sat bolt upright. He was here! She whipped around and babbled exitedly, "Peter, Peter, oh God, thank God - " but the apartment was unchanged. Dark and empty; no one had entered. She had dreamed it.

She sighed, and tried to calm her heart once again as it thudded within her throat. And then she heard it again. "M...J..."

From the man in the bed.

Peter's voice.

From the man in the bed.

Slowly, unbelieving, she turned her head and looked at him. The bloodied lips and chin; the torn mask that hid the rest of his face...

She felt again as if time had no meaning. She began to reach for his mask. He flinched as she accidentally brushed his bruised skin with her fingers. Slowly, in a fog, she rolled the mask up his face, pulled it over the temples, past the hair. Saw at last the battered face inside.

Her heart plunged to the floor; to the street; to the depths of the earth. It was Peter. And he was dying.

How can it be Peter? How can it possibly be Peter? She gasped and gasped, unable to calm herself enough to breathe. The world could not become more insane, and yet it had. His eyes were closed, eyelashes fluttering against skin.

Was he awake? Had he been calling her? Or babbling in delirium? He was not conscious now. In the light of the dawn that had snuck up on them he was deathly pale.

"Peter?" she moaned quietly. "Peter, don't leave me..."