Heya! This is the very last chapter, and I re-wrote it FIVE times before deciding on this version. Happy Christmas! ( And I did say I was going to post this on christmas eve, but I guess some people didn't bother to read the authors note, so had to suffer through a week of unknowingness. ;) )
Thanks so much for all the reviews although apparently I'm going to be attacked by Doc Ock's tentacles, Peter and Mary Jane Watson-Parker! Better go hide...
MJ giggled as Peter swung her round in his arms, not caring that her hair was falling out of its elegant bun she'd spent hours trying to fix with hairspray in front of the mirror. She was having too much fun.
It was six months after Chaos had died, and six hours after MJ had given the best performance of her life in her premiere presentation of 'Pride and Prejudice.'
There'd been mixed reactions; for both the revealing of Spider-man's identity and MJ's play, that was for sure. Aunt May had rushed into the hospital room and nearly broken Peter's ribs all over again with the force of her hug, whilst Jameson, Peter had heard say, was less than pleased with the complimentary article published by Robbie and written by Betty the next morning in the Daily Bugle. Peter allowed himself a small grin, imagining the look on his former boss's face.
Whereas the New York Times had been positive and considerably impressed with MJ's play, the Sunday Telegraph had been overly-critical of her performance and at some points scathing. When Peter had asked MJ why she was smiling so much after she'd read both articles, she'd happily replied, "It's good that it's controversial. Means I've hit a nerve, therefore, more publicity." Peter had just shook his head, amazed at the way women's minds worked.
Everyone in the audience for the first performance, however, seemed to have loved it, and now MJ felt like she was on the top of the world. Her gorgeous boyfriend was holding her, her play had been a hit with the guests and now she was having the time of her life with her friends at the after party.
"Yeah?" MJ replied instantly.
"You were great. And you look amazing." Peter told her softly. She had finally decided on the midnight blue dress which flowed down to the floor. Her emerald eyes and bronze locks contrasted with it perfectly. She couldn't help but blush lightly at the compliment, and for a second she had to stop and marvel at the way only Peter Parker could make her feel light headed with a single comment, and yet at all the praise rained on her from friends and strangers; she didn't bat an eyelid.
"You don't look too bad yourself, Mr. Darcy." She replied, pretending she was the heroine of the play Lizzy for a second. He had gone all out by renting a tux, actually buying a blue bowtie, which happened to match her dress perfectly, and whenever MJ got near enough to smell the faint and musky scent of his new cologne, she felt like swooning.
"That's alright then. Can't have the leading lady walk in with someone who looks like they've been dragged through a hedge and several other unpleasant things backwards, can we now?" Peter teased. She simply grinned at him.
At that moment, the lively song they'd been dancing to drew to a close on a few sharp notes, and by mutual consent they moved off to a quiet corner of the dance floor, both a little flushed and breathless.
MJ sighed contentedly and leaned her head on his shoulder, closing her eyes peacefully as they swayed slowly to the calm music.
Flashing lights suddenly hit her retinas, light so bright she could see the indistinct shapes of people even through her closed eyelids. The noise kicked up a notch to a dim roar, and the outlines of the shapes became fuzzy for a second before turning crystal clear.
Bodies were pressing in on her, suffocating her, and all the while there was the rhythmic click and flash of cameras going off. She moved without her brain telling her to, turning back round in distress to find Peter lying on the dance floor, his eyes closed and blood streaming from his nose to soak into his crisp white tux… except that the patterned dance floor had just turned to mud speckled with chips of granite, and the blood was instead soaking into the bright red of his Spider-man costume, staining it to a much deeper shade of crimson.
"No," She whispered, "No, no no no no…"
Sirens began to wail in the distance, the reporters and public alike clamoured to get closer for a better look at the true face of their hero, and suddenly MJ couldn't take any more.
Her eyes snapped open and she jerked back from a rather confused Peter, who was suddenly upright and very much awake, his pure white tux free of bloodstains. She shook her head, trying to clear it, her eyes filling with tears.
"MJ?" Peter said gently. Her eyes darted to his face as the rest of the room swam into focus. The quiet music of the orchestra drowned out the frantic sound of people screaming, and the soft lights overhead replaced the harsh white light of cameras taking pictures. "MJ, what's wrong?"
Peter stumbled as MJ threw herself at him and hugged him tightly around the middle, burying her head in his chest. He waited patiently until she'd regained her composure and just held her, rocking gently from side to side in time with the music. Eventually she had to come up for air. She sniffed and dabbed at her eyes with the back of her hand, but refused stubbornly to let the tears fall.
"I'm sorry, tiger," she whispered, nasal. "I just… I just remembered, saw… what happened… and…" She sniffed loudly again. "I'm sorry I've gone and spoiled the evening." She finished sadly, looking down at the floor, which had returned to its normal woodwork swirls.
"Hey," he put a finger under her chin and tilted her head up to look her in the eyes. "All I care about is you. Not dressing up and posing and having to listen to Mr. What's-His-Name over there-" he jerked his thumb over his shoulder, "-rant about the history of the roles of prominent fictional female characters for five hours."
Peter smiled as she giggled a little, hiccoughing at the same time. "Now, do you want to get of here and you can tell me what's wrong?" He offered, though he had a sneaking suspicion he already knew what was troubling her.
"No," She shook her head firmly. "No, it's ok, I'll be fine."
Peter looked at her for a few seconds doubtfully. "Well… if you're sure…?"
"I'm sure." She said confidently, and smiled brightly at him, a little too brightly.
"Ok, MJ." Peter caved, and wrapped her in a hug. For a while they just swayed to the music and listened to each other breathing, content in their embrace.
MJ suddenly perked up as her favourite song started playing, but restrained herself from jumping up and dragging her boyfriend into the spotlight as she would normally do, waiting to see if Peter would remember. She wasn't disappointed.
"Aha. Shall we proceed to the main dance floor, madam?" He asked and she beamed with delight. "I'll take that as a 'yes'." They moved from the outskirts of the dance floor where'd they'd been gently rocking back and forth, to the very middle, right in front of the live orchestra where the music was loudest and the dancing was liveliest.
MJ smiled, a twinkle in her eye. "I didn't know you could dance."
"I didn't know I could either." Peter admitted. At that moment his concentration lapsed and he trod on her foot.
Aunt May didn't seem to be having so much of a problem doing a quickstep with Dr. Connors. Peter gaped as he waltzed past with MJ and saw his Aunt's feet moving so fast they were almost blurred.
"I didn't know she could dance." He commented to MJ.
She shrugged. "You can learn a lot about someone from the way they dance."
"Really?" Peter asked, surprised. "You mean like palm reading but different?"
"Sure," MJ replied, grinning. "I guess you could call it that. For example: Betty and Robbie over there-"
"What about them?" He interrupted, craning his head round to see.
"Shut up and I'll tell you." She swatted him. He quickly fell silent, a laughing glint still in his eye that MJ didn't notice. "The way she puts her arms around his neck like that shows that she fancies him-"
"She does?!" Peter exclaimed loudly, and quite a few heads turned. "I mean, she does?" He said much more quietly.
"Yep, and you see the way he just trod on both her feet?" MJ ignored his outburst.
"Yeah…" Peter said slowly, beginning to wonder if she was joking.
"That means he likes her too, but is totally clueless about her liking him." She finished with an air of mystery, trying very hard not to grin. Peter looked at her for a minute.
"You serious?" He finally asked.
"Completely!" She said, trying to sound offended that he'd distrust her judgement. When he twisted round to look at them again, she grinned mischievously.
"So anyway," she said, getting his attention. "You want to hear about what the way we dance tells me?"
"Ok." He said gamely, focusing on the way he was holding her and wondering if he was doing it right.
"Well, the way I dance with you shows that I love you very much, and the way you're dancing with me shows that you love me quite a bit too, and the way we're about to kiss in a couple of seconds-" she paused long enough to kiss him tenderly on the lips, "-tells me that we're going to be together for a very, very long time." She smiled up at him and he grinned and kissed her again.
"Ahem." They broke apart at the interruption. Harry and one of MJ's friends were dancing a very complicated and fast-paced quickstep nearby, and Harry took the time to lean back and stage whisper to Peter, "Hey buddy, who's the beautiful stranger?"
Peter simply smiled and MJ giggled, saying, "Oh Harry, stop it, you're embarrassing me!"
Harry winked at her before moving off to continue dancing with Cassie, who he'd hooked up with a few weeks ago courtesy of MJ's matchmaking instincts.
"So stranger," Peter grinned and paused to suddenly dip MJ low to the ground, causing her to let out a little scream. "Want to get to know one another a little better?"
And with that he kissed her passionately, ignoring a few wolf whistles and cheers as everyone stopped to watch the superhero and his up-and-coming actress girlfriend kiss in the spotlight as the last song closed on a few lingering violin notes. She melted into his embrace like chocolate, and once the kiss was over, opened sparkling emerald eyes full of love to look into his crystal clear blue ones and whisper:
I feel both happy and sad at the same time. Weird, huh? :( :) Well, I'll post a new fluffy christmassy fic tomorrow morning!
Spyder616: Thanks and you got your wish!
Twin-ey-Lazy girl: aka Twin-ey-boo-boo, right? ;) Well, there was a little friendship with Harry, will that do? I have an idea for a story that might pass as a sequel but I'll have to see...
Lordlanceahlot: Thanks, I'm glad you liked the fight scene. I thought it sucked.
Jenn: Ok, I'll leave the rating as it is, and, Peter is very unlucky, I guess. It turned out alright though.
AA Battery: Whoa, you're scary when you're mad. Thanks for the enthusiastic review... um... (hides)
Mary Jane Watson-Parker: Thanks and... (hides again)
Mark C: Yup, everyone saw him without his mask. Thanks!
closetfan: Yay, thanks! I did write a fight scene as practise before I wrote chapter 15, perhaps that helped.
deppfreak: Yeh, I like that, and yes! I managed to pull off the suspense!
Emily M. Hanson: Thanks, I'm starting to like it better myself!
betty brant: Thanks, that's a huge compliment! I feel much better about the fight scene now. I put a little flashback in this chapter too at the last minute because once I'd read it I realised it wasn't clear enough that everyone knew who Peter is.
diggerthedirtyhorse: Thanks and that is weird!
Scary Vampiress: Yes, I'm evil leaving it on a cliffhanger! So here's the last chapetr before I'm attacked by Peter... wait a minute, he's in my story so that means I control him! Mwahahahaha!
Moonjava: Thanks for reviewing, and yes, I do have a few more ideas for fics after this. :)
Thank you SO much to everyone who reviewed, without your encouragement I probably would have given up on this story long ago. And I'd really, really appreciate it if you'd review again, constructive criticism on this last chapter or the story as a whole would be nice, but just a comment to let me know you've read it would be great, thanks. Merry Christmas!