Disclaimer: It's not mine. So don't sue me. I'm just borrowing the characters...Responsibility
Author's Notes: Just a one shot, an extension of a scene in the second movie. Peter sees the boy getting bashed up but instead of immediately walking away, he ends up seeing the entire thing. This scene is meant to be interchangeable with the one in the movie, so the details may differ slightly.
Summary: EU. Peter reflects on his actions and his choices. How much is someone responsible for something they DIDN'T do?
Warning: PG for violence and slight coarse language.
Note to readers of "Brave Prince" LOTR: I promise I'll keep writing after the next week of exams. But for now, I'm experimenting with another fandom...
Peter's thoughts are in italics.
Peter was walking in the dark alleyway. He had made his decision. Maybe I'm not meant to be Spider-man climbing those walls...the thought echoed in his mind. Peter roamed numbly in the streets. He wasn't really sure where he was headed and he didn't know if he really felt like going to that junk of a room he called home. He missed being at Aunt May's. As he walked in the shadows, Peter knew that something was wrong. He headed quickly for the light at the end of the street. And then he saw it and he stopped. Peter was frozen to the spot and he had no idea what to do. It seemed that he could not just walk away.
There was a young boy surrounded by four large, fierce looking males in the middle of the path. Dark-coloured balaclavas, matching the black leather gloves they wore, hid their faces. The alleyway reeked of stale alcohol and putrid garbage. The men smelt of booze and Peter knew that to smell for him to be able to smell it in the passage, they must have been substantially drunk.
"Give us your money." The tallest of the men towered over the boy. The men closed in the boy so that they were now pressing him to the wet, coarse rock of the narrow lane.
Peter knew that he should leave but his feet were immobile. He didn't want to watch it but his eyes were drawn to the sight.
"No." The boy said this softly. His voice trembled but it seemed that he wanted to make himself braver. "NO." He said in a louder and firmer tone. The boy gazed defiantly at the men around him and attempted to push his way out. "Let me go."
"Give me your money." The ringleader pinned the boy to the wall. "Now."
The ringleader's lackeys chorused in agreement and began to laugh. Peter cringed at the coarse grating voices, husky and their words partially slurry. This confirmed the fact that they were drunk in Peter's mind, but perhaps not drunk enough to just leave the boy alone. Damn these cowards.
"I'll..." The boy threatened as he futilely pushed against the broad chest of the gang leader.
"What will you do? Run to mummy?" one of the men teased. They laughed at the boy and pinched his cheeks. The stockier man behind the taller ringleader came forward and ran his hands through the kid's dark hair.
"I'll...c-call... the c-opss..." the boy's resolve was crumbling fast. He had backed up against the war as far as he could, shrinking away from the gang.
"Hand...it...to...me," the leader of the gang demanded and with each word shaking the young lad.
The boy seemed to lose all the confidence he had before. "Just please let me go."
The gang laughed again before the ringleader snarled, "I'm outta patience. Don't play with me. Hand it over or you're dead meat."
"I got the money for my grandmother's present. I was going to give it to her. Please let me keep it. Please," the boy pleaded frantically. Peter could see that he was almost in tears.
The ringleader snapped. He punched the boy in the face and kicked him in the stomach. Then he grabbed the boy's backpack and threw it to the stockier man. He beckoned to the other two men left. The man with the backpack grinned as he found the wallet with fifty dollars inside.
"He's a rich kid. It won't save him from us though. What a liar. Beat him up. Make sure that he knows not to mess with us."
Peter's heart quickened. I need to do something. I can stop it. I have the power to. No. No. Maybe it's not my job this time. He told me that I wasn't meant to be Spider-man. I should leave. This has nothing to do with me. But no matter what, Peter was glued to the spot. The men did not notice him standing there. Peter had melted into the shadows. I can't just stand here and watch...
The three of them ganged up on the boy, who was now doubled up on the ground. Blood was gushing out from his nose. They kicked him in the side to get his attention. The boy wisely stayed silent.
"Get up." The boy limped into a standing position. They punched him in the face and kicked him in the back.
The boy fell down again. "I'm sorry," he whimpered. "Please-" That was all he could say before another punch was aimed at his head and met its mark. The boy raised his hand to wipe the blood from his split lip.
Peter closed his eyes. No, I don't want to see this! He heard the sound of punches and kicks. This isn't happening! I should be helping him, not watching! Peter mind was in a frantic jumble.This continued for a few minutes as the men took turns making fun of the boy and beating him.
"Look at the poor little boy. How brave! He's wet his pants!"
The unmistakable sound of a breaking bone. The boy, in a desperate urge, called for help in a voice twisted with pain.
"Shut the hell up kid!" Smack.
"Help! Please...stop..." it sounded like a sob.
Slap. "I said, shut the HELL up!" They laid more punches into him effectively winding him.
"Help," this time it was only a whisper.
They kicked and punch him as the boy lay on the ground.
"Get up and fight us like a man!" More laughing.
Peter was disgusted with them. Cowards. His conscience nagged at him to do something. Anything but watch this horrible...torture.
The men were kicking him in the ribs and stomach. The boy only groaned and moaned incoherently. His hair was now wet and his hair hanging in limp strands around his swollen and bruised face. There was a large red gash on his face from a silver ring where it had slashed his cheek open. During the pause, the boy rolled sideways and vomited. The boy tried to crawl away, his jean-clad knees scraping the drenched pavement. They followed him and continued to kick him until he stopped moaning.
The boy's hands were raw from crawling and he was exhausted. He gave up the fight and just lay there as they stomped on his fingers. The ringleader nudged him with his foot. The boy didn't move. He was an unconscious mess. Blood and vomit pooled on the ground. The men grunted. The leader gave one last kick and walked off. The gang slapped each other on the back jovially, planning to get more booze with the boy's money. They had taken the boy's backpack, jacket and shoes.
Peter was speechless. He had two options. He could find the men and beat them up or at least make them face justice. Or, he could call an ambulance and try to save the boy...Peter knew what Spider-man would do but he didn't know what he would do. So he chose the third option. He jammed his hands into his pocket and walked away. He didn't even spare the broken boy a second glance. His ears were deaf to the low moans emancipating from the boy, now in a semi-conscious agony. His eyes were blind to the serious wounds on the boy. Peter walked away.
I'm a coward.
It was late at night. Peter could not sleep. His conscience was wide-awake. No matter how tired his body was he could not get any rest. Peter had already taken a hot shower. He'd tried to scrub that feeling away but the feeling clung onto him. It was the feeling of guilt. And shame. I didn't even call for help. Why?
I could have stopped it. I could have used my powers. Peter was beating himself up over this. Every one of the boy's groans seemed to be imprinted on his mind. Peter tossed and turned in his bed again. It wasn't my fault. It's not my responsibility to be the hero all the time. I can't stop everything from happening. Peter tried to convince himself that he couldn't have taken four men at once. You're lying. You could have easily done it. His conscience would not leave him alone.
Peter pulled at the thing sheets on his bed and wrapped them tightly around him. I could have done something. Why do I feel guilty? I wasn't the one who did it. I didn't hurt him. I DIDN'T DO ANYTHING, he told his conscience. I didn't do anything. I did nothing when I should have. I just watched that boy... The thought echoed emptily in his mind.It was then the truth of his words stood out. He hadn't done anything. I should have stopped it. How could I be responsible for something I did not do? It's not fair. Everyone else is only responsible for what they do...Peter knew that no one would blame him. But it wouldn't matter. I blame myself. The images haunted him. Like a videotape being rewound and watched over and over again. Peter clamped his eyes shut and put his hands on his ears but he could not block it out. He laid there in distress, trying hopelessly to absolve himself. Sleep would not come to comfort him.
Peter wearily rolled out of bed early in the morning. He rubbed his sleepless eyes. His body was tired. He casually turned on the TV. It blared noisily into the small living area. Peter held the remote and absently flicked through the channel. Cartoons. Video hits. Opera. Cooking. News. The image of the alleyway appeared on the flickering screen. It was unmistakable. Peter's hand was still on the remote control. Somehow, the words of the newsreader penetrated his stupor. "...Late last night, an innocent young boy was violently attacked in an abandoned alleyway. He was robbed of his money and clothes and was beaten to the point of unconsciousness. A passer-by saw his body and rang the ambulance. The unidentified boy was taken to hospital a short while after. He is currently in a critical condition and is in a coma. The boy suffered serious head injuries with possible brain damage as well as broken bones and extensive contusions on his body. Police are appealing to the public for witnesses..." Peter reached over and silently switched the TV off. He didn't want to hear this. He could still see the incident so clearly in his mind. He had already replayed it over and over. Why didn't I just leave?
Peter looked down at his trembling hands. He felt so numb and cold like someone had stabbed him and twisted the knife. Then Peter sat wearily on his bed and wept bitterly.
I'm so sorry, Uncle Ben.