To Karina of Darkness: Well, wouldn't your parents still love you even if you had metal actuators?

To the Anonymous Reviewer: Well, how would your mother react? On your second point, I incorporate elements from both the comic and the movie in the story. For example, Otto wears a trenchcoat and mourns for his late wife Rosie, as in the movie, but when Austin is snooping in his lab in Chapter 4, he finds green and orange tights, like his father wore in the comics. And the scene where Austin pins Brandon's arms and legs to the wall with his tentacles, and then slaps him, is supposed to be an echo of his father's first appearance in Amazing Spider-man #3.

Also, some information about the stories if you hadn't already deduced it--yes, Laufey is friends with Spider-man, if you haven't picked up on the hints in Chapters 3 and 5, Mandy Wilson's middle name is Jennifer, sharing her initials with MJ Watson, and it's only after I wrote Chapter 7 that I realized that T.S Eliot is the poet Rosie tried to explain to Otto when she met him on the college steps.

This is the last chapter, but fear not, there will be a sequel with more humor, more angst, more action, and more Marvel-based characters! I had planned on doing another story before releasing the sequel, but my baby brother, Andrew, was born December 16, and I don't have nearly as much time to write as I thought.

Chapter 8: Epilogue: Gifts and Curses

"Not that blighted meat loaf again!" cried Laufey.

As if on cue, Magni took the pan out of the oven.

Ooh! What is that?

It smells good…

You're machines. You can't smell, and you can't eat.

Is it good to eat?

You just think so because you don't know any better.

Yup, he was definitely going to have to get used to this.

"Mom," whined Magni, "make Austin do something about those things. They're hissing and clicking at me, and it's creeping me out."

Doesn't Sister like it when we talk to you?

Be patient. She'll get used to you soon enough.

It had been three weeks since the kidnapping, two weeks and four days since the accident. Anna and Laufey were getting counseling as well as Austin, and by some miracle of nature, Brandon and Duke had kept their mouths shut so far—or maybe it was just plain fear of getting a swirlie again.

Dr. Carolyn was talking to Austin about self-acceptance, and he was finally learning how to find it. He now knew acceptance by other people was fleeting and fickle, and acceptance was going to have to come from within. Austin could only hope that his father, wherever he was, could find it someday too.

This week, the family had rented Spider-Man 2 on DVD (at Magni's insistence), and Anna shamefacedly walked out of the room the minute Doc Ock came onscreen. Between being subjected to Magni's absurd fantasies about Tobey Maguire, and being subjected to Rachelle's inane questions on whether he thought Alfred Molina was a good choice to play his father (how in heck was he supposed to know?), Austin began to get it. The part about gifts and curses and power and responsibility, that is. Because there were very real consequences to your choices, and very real dangers in having superpowers, whether you were a Spider or an Octopus.

Austin cleared away the dishes after dinner, which he had to admit, was a lot easier with four extra arms.

"Hey, Mom, whose turn is it to do the dishes?" Austin asked.

"Rachelle's," was the reply.

"Good." Austin pulled a worn paper from the pocket of his coat. "I want to see if this phone number still works."