Disclaimer:These characters belong to Marvel Comics and SonyPictures.No infringment intended and no money is being made.
This is set post Spider-Man2 (movieverse).
Q & A: Questions and Afternoons
By Gigi Galaxie
Rehearsal had ended early that afternoon, but to Mary Jane it had lasted years. She was preoccupied with her upcoming lunch date and had troubles concentrating on the play. Her lines came off awkward, disjointed. But it must have just been her paranoia. No one seemed to notice that her mind was somewhere else.
Somewhere like Central Park.
Her cab ride was annoyingly slow. Traffic crawled by. She drummed her fingers on her bag in nervous anxiety. Peter was waiting for her.
The thought of him made her smile. A secret smile. And deep down a painful one. It wasn't like he was her first boyfriend, though sometimes it felt that way. She had jumped from relationship to relationship. Flash. Harry. John. But Peter was different from all of them. And she did not think it was because of Spider-Man alone.
Her relationship with John had been easy. It had flowed from one point to the next, up until the wedding. She never felt the fear of loss and risk when she was with John. But she feared losing Peter. She feared losing the burgeoning love that they had. Never before had she known so well the precarious edge that all relationships teetered on. Because losing Peter, breaking up what they have started to form, frightened her.
Must not think that way, she silently scolded herself. Be strong.
They were smart words that she tried to hold on to. She would need that strength this afternoon. This was no ordinary lunch date. It was a great moment of truth. Peter was going to tell her everything.
It had been weeks since the fateful night with Dr. Octavius. The night she discovered Peter's secret. Since then, she had kept quiet. It had been hard but she wanted to give him time to prepare himself. Several times he had started but the sweat had beaded on his forehead. His words had become tied and she always stopped him.
Not now, she had told him. It's okay.
So they held off on talking about it. Until the other day. Peter had looked at her, straight into her eyes. His own were blazing blue with conviction. Meet me in Central Park, he told her. I'll bring lunch.
Promise? She had asked.
He had given her a heart-melting smile.
Peter watched as she approached. His heart faltered several beats as his breath left him. Mary Jane smiled brightly at him. At him! All for him. He could scarcely believe it, even now.
"May I join you?" she asked sweetly. Almost teasing.
"Uh, sure. Of course," Peter smiled back. He moved the old basket aside so that she could sit on the blanket he had brought.
"What do you have?" Mary Jane peered into the basket. A wonderful smell emanated from it.
"Oh, just sandwiches from the deli down the street." Peter reached in and passed her the food.
They ate in relative silence. Only speaking now and then about her latest play, his latest job, Aunt May, and the weather. Basic small talk. Both started feeling the uncomfortable undertone running between them. Peter was getting more and more nervous. Maybe he should wait. Try this another day, he thought.
"You want dessert?" he asked her. He was stalling and they both knew it.
"Maybe later," she said. She watched him with a serious expression now. Peter sighed and started packing up the leftovers. Stalling again.
"So…" Mary Jane began. And then paused.
"So?" His voice was uneven.
She suddenly leaned over and kissed him full on the lips. It was a passionate kiss that he melted into. The smell of her. The taste of her. He treasured it. When she pulled back, he smiled. The knot in his stomach was gone.
"So," she began again with conviction.
"So." This time his voice was strong. The nerves had completely disappeared. And he felt like he wanted to tell her everything.
Mary Jane saw this and knew it all would be okay. She gave a brief glance around to make sure there was no one in ear shot. Peter had chosen an exclusive little place. They should have no problems with privacy.
"How…how long have you been this way? Were you born like this?"
Peter smiled as he shook his head. "No, it hasn't been all that long actually." He thought for a moment. "Do you remember our senior year in high school? The trip we took to Columbia?"
Mary Jane thought for a moment. "Yeah… I remember you took my picture for the school paper."
Peter blushed at the memory. It was one of his favorites. "Do you remember what they were studying there?"
Mary Jane's eyes suddenly lit up. "Spiders! Right? They had those little cubes filled with spiders."
"Yep, genetically altered spiders." Peter held out his hand. Two little bite marks scarred the tender flesh between the thumb and forefinger. He pointed to the pinpricks. "See that? One of those spiders must have gotten lose. It bit me."
Mary Jane's eyes grew wide. Almost to the point of disbelief. "Are you sure it was one of them?"
"I saw it on the floor after it bit me. It had a weird red and blue body. I've never seen a spider like that in nature."
"Wow…" Her voice was soft and breathless.
"Afterward I started to feel terrible. It was kinda scary really because I didn't know how poisonous that spider was. I know I should have told someone or seen a doctor but by the time I got home, I just…I just wanted to go to sleep."
Peter paused for a moment and gave a sheepish smile. "I actually passed out on my bedroom floor. I barely remember wondering how bad it was going to get."
"How bad did it get?"
He shrugged. "After I passed out, I don't remember anything until the next morning. And that…that was a shock."
He told her of his new reflection, the change in himself, and all the events that led up to his fateful clash with Flash at school. Mary Jane listened intently, all the while telling herself to simply believe. Believe him because he wouldn't lie to her. She had seen for herself what he could do, with and without the mask.
Peter found it easier to speak and he did not stop. She laughed when he told her about the first time he swung from rooftops. Tears welled in her eyes when he told her, softly, about the truth of his uncle's death.
"Aunt May knows what happened," he said after a moment's pause. "But she does not know everything. She does not know about Spider-Man."
Mary Jane reached out and took his scarred hand in hers. She held it in consolation and understanding. She did not say anything though. There was no need.
She had thought it the end of Peter's secrets but she was wrong. Peter still had much to tell but he faltered now. He did not know if he should tell her the whole truth about the Green Goblin. Harry knew he was Spider-Man, but they still had yet to confront each other. It was merely a matter of time. There was no telling how Harry would react. And he might put Mary Jane in the middle of it.
At this thought, his mind was made up. Mary Jane saw the conviction return in his eyes. "Peter? What is it?"
"There's more you need to know. Regarding that night on the bridge."
Mary Jane barely repressed a shudder and for the first time, she broke eye contact with him. Her hand fell from his and withdrew. She stared into her lap. Peter watched her with growing apprehension.
"I remember that night. It comes to me in nightmares sometimes. In them, I just keep falling. Spider-Man…you… don't catch me. And I just hear that horrible laughing in my head. I…I had never been so afraid before."
She finally looked back up at him. A tear now streamed down her cheek. "That Goblin...or whatever he was…he went after your aunt. He went after me. Peter, he knew who you were."
Peter gave a slow nod. "He knew all of us and we knew him."
"I don't understand…"
"It was Norman Osborn."
Mary Jane's eyes grew wide with horror. "No…"
Peter drew closer to her. He took her shoulders in his hands. "There was an accident. Kind of like mine but not from the spiders. And it drove him mad. I…I had to stop him."
"Does…does…?" She could barely speak. Words failed her. But Peter understood.
"Does Harry know?" he finished. "He knows that I am Spider-Man and he thinks that I killed his father."
Peter's grip grew tight. "No, Norman Osborn died by his own actions. I brought his body back but I didn't mean for Harry to see me.
"I never told Harry the truth about his father. Who he really was. You have to understand, MJ, Norman was deranged. He was…schizophrenic. There was the madness, but there also was the real Norman still there. In the end, his dying wish was that Harry not be told of what happened to him. And I mean to keep that promise."
Peter lowered his hands from her shoulders and sat back. Mary Jane still looked back at him, her horror fading to disbelief. "I…I just…this is almost too much. I didn't know. I…I didn't realize. Poor Harry."
"He still won't talk to me since finding out about Spider-Man. I've called but no one seems to know where he is."
"I haven't heard from him either. What do you think he will do? He's hated Spider-Man for so long."
"I know he's got to be very confused now, but honestly I don't know. I've been careful though. Don't worry."
"How can I not worry? I care about you both. And all of this…"
Peter remained silent for a moment. He studied her carefully. "Is it too much?"
Mary Jane shook her head with almost a grim laugh. "All from a little spider."
"While taking your picture."
She looked up and held his gaze fiercely. "Thank you."
Peter looked aback. "For what?"
"For telling me this. Now I know why it was so hard for you."
Peter blushed but he did not smile. "Nothing will ever be easy for me, MJ."
Mary Jane moved closer until her face was mere inches from his. She gently held his face in her hands. "I love you, Peter Parker. And no matter what happens, I'll be here with you."
She smiled. "Got that, tiger?"
Finally Peter grinned. Hearing those words, it was still almost miraculous to him. Here she was, Mary Jane Watson. With him and believing him. Believing in him.
"That's all I needed to hear," he whispered back.
Mary Jane sat back. "Now then, how about that dessert?"
He reached in the basket for two fudge brownies. She took hers, touching his hand with a lingering look. She moved once again and kissed him. It was a tender kiss but it said more than anything spoken.
In that afternoon, it was the most important answer given.