Disclaimer: All Spider-Man characters are property of Marvel. No profit is being made from their use. A certain amount of pleasure is being derived from usage, however.
Author's Note: This fic is a bit of a change for me; I like to dabble in different genres, in an effort to appeal to a wider audience. It's a mystery, with a noir-ish feel to it; at least, I hope it has a noir-ish feel to it. The way I imagine it is like the Sin City filmblack and white with the only color being red; the crimson glow of the actuator's lights, the scarlet of MJ's hair, the bright vermilion of blood… And I can't think of any more names for red. But you get the point. Imagine it how you'd like; I just like the black and white and red color scheme. This chapter is mostly MJ-centric; my apologies. While Otto plays a big part of this story – he's one of the main characters, in fact – he doesn't appear until the next chapter. Please, bear with me. MJ is the other main character, and she needs some time in the spotlight!
Announcement: I have tried my best to keep my fics updated in a timely fashion, but this semester of college is more demanding than I expected, and I have difficulty writing even one chapter a week. I didn't even want to start this new fic quite yet, except that this chapter was what came easiest to me last time I sat down and wrote. So please, be patient; I'll eventually update your favorites; it's just going to take a little time.
Shot in the Dark
One – Clarity
It was never clear, not at first. The world around him would slow to a crawl as the precognitive warning seized his senses, demanding immediate action. But it was never specific; he had to use the precious extra seconds granted him by his gift to locate the source of danger, then come up with a solution that would save himself and any innocent bystanders in harm's way. It was worse at night; his abilities didn't brighten the shadows cloaking the danger, merely pointed him in its general direction. Even with unnatural speed and agility, those seconds weren't always enough, as the scars that laced his body attested to. Peter Parker had learned over the years not to think when the sensation took hold, but to act instinctively, trusting his abilities to guide him out of immediate danger. This time, danger took the form of a piece of hot lead slicing the air a hairsbreadth from his cheek, burying itself in the brick behind him with a shower of rusty red chunks. Senses still expanded, Peter located the shooter lying flat on the rooftop across from him, sighting through the rifle's scope before squeezing the trigger.
He sprang out of the bullet's path, keeping his leaps within bounds of normal human ability. Desperately, he cast his gaze about, seeking cover, somewhere he could change into his Spider-Man costume… which, he realized belatedly, was bundled beneath a dumpster in an alley about ten feet away, removed because the cloth had soaked up the scummy rainwater of a puddle he'd fallen into, and he hadn't wanted to soil the shabby but clean suit he now wore.
Another yank at his senses, another bullet tearing through the air towards him, another swift evasion… There was nowhere to hide; the buildings were stacked side by side, with no room between for an alley, and there was no parking along the street. He didn't spare time to wonder who this person was, or why he was the target; there was no room for any thought beyond escape. He needed to get somewhere he could use his abilities without being seen, but the clever gunman had caught him in a position where he wasn't free to maneuver.
Glass exploded behind him, showering Peter with jagged shards and left him with a fine dusting of fragments in his hair. He sprang upwards, hoping to catch the broken window's edge and pull himself inside, but he glimpsed heavy bars set into the frame, too close together for even his nimble frame to fit through. He kicked off the building's face, hoping to fling himself out of the gunman's range…
And finally, his heightened senses revealed the world to him with complete clarity, and he saw the final bullet, fired in the wake of the previous shot by a second gunman, hitherto unseen, his leap's trajectory taking him straight towards it… He couldn't change the direction of his leap in time, the bullet was too close… Death was bearing down on him, unavoidable, inescapable… He attempted a midair corkscrew, a desperate attempt to change his trajectory, but he knew with grim certainty that it was too late.
And then he crumpled, as a searing pain tore its way through his spine, drilling into his torso and driving the breath from his lungs. His limbs ceased to obey his commands, and he landed hard on the concrete below, gasping and choking as he struggled for air. Dark blots swam at the edge of his vision, expanding, eclipsing the view of the gathering crowd. Sound dimmed, faded, until even the harsh cries of the siren cutting the air was overcome by the all-consuming darkness that swallowed him whole…
A block away, behind elaborately carved doors with frosted glass windows sat a scarlet-tressed young woman, brow furrowed with anxiety as she stole another glance at the elegant clock on the wall opposite her. Around her, restaurant patrons chatted amiably, sipping wine and eating their meals, lost in the fantasy of prosperity the restaurant cultured. They were relaxed, happy, willing to pretend that Real Life had ceased to exist once they crossed the threshold.
It was an illusion that Mary Jane Watson longed to join them in. Instead, she was left to stare at the beads of water running down her glass, leaving a glistening ring around its base. She dipped her finger in the pool and began to trace a pattern across the table cloth, creating a delicate framework of lines that crossed at a central location, then began to connect the lines with a spiral… a spider-web.
Late again. She was unsurprised; she'd become used to Peter's constant tardiness. It was a part of accepting who he was. Still, a part of her chafed at this constant waiting, when time was something she had precious little of, thanks to a new role she'd accepted. She wiped her palm across the spider's-web, smearing it beyond recognition. A shadow fell across the table, the waiter again, asking if she knew when the gentleman was going to arrive, and would she like to order an appetizer while she waited? Mary Jane was about to refuse, then she realized she'd been waiting for an hour, and that her stomach was protesting the lack of food. She ordered the breadsticks and went back to the interminable wait.
A commotion arose at the door, tearing Mary Jane's attention from the napkin she was wadding. She watched absently, admiring the dress of the white-faced woman who had just arrived, clinging to the arm of her male companion. And then snippets of their conversation drifted over to her, words like "gunfire" and "police." Mary Jane went very still as she tried to absorb what the couple was saying, but she could hear little over the pounding of her heart.
And with a flash of clarity, Mary Jane knew. The world around her blurred, took on a surreal quality as she rose from her seat, numb legs carrying her without her guidance past the maitre d' and out the elaborately carved doors with their frosted glass windows into the city's gritty, ugly reality, where a crowd of people gawked at the paramedics crouched over a far too still form. She shoved her way through the crowd, heedless of the shouts as she stepped on feet or jostled shoulders. She only had eyes for the broken shape in the widening pool of blood that looked too, too red under the lamplight, unreal. No, this can't happen to you, not you, not when you've survived so much worse without a scratch… But it was him; his too-pale face was the only part of him that wasn't obscured by the paramedics. "Peter," she choked out. Then, screaming, "Peter!" She rushed forward, intending to be at his side when he woke up and said, "Hey, it's not as bad as it looks, it's just a flesh wound…" with that wry humor of his. Because Peter Parker was superhuman; he couldn't die. Not like this.
A police officer halted her, grabbing her wrist before she was in arm's reach of her beloved. His lips moved, but his words fell on deaf ears. Mary Jane only had eyes for the motionless body being carefully stabilized before transferal to a gurney. This wasn't a ruse, a prank, a minor wound that Peter could just shrug off.
This was Real.
She tried to pull away from the police man, but he held her in a vise like grip, and finally, his words penetrated the haze. "Do you know him, miss?"
"Peter," she said again. "That's Peter. He's my…" The sobs welled up, choking off the rest of her words. She wanted to wail, to beat her fists against this man holding her back from her beloved, but she could only lean against him, sobbing into his uniform. The man patted her awkwardly, and didn't pull away, though she held on to him with a crushing grip that made him wince. Her world had just come crashing down around her in a flood that threatened to pull her along with it, and she clung to this last bit of stability as if her life – or Peter's – depended upon it.
He was pale, so very pale, the same colorless hue as the pillow and sheets that supported his frail body. Only the rust red of drying blood staining the bandages plastered along his spine interrupted the monochrome image. Mary Jane cradled Peter's limp hand in hers, careful not to dislodge the tubes curling out of his arm. She gave it a gentle squeeze, as she had been doing periodically, each time hoping, praying that he'd return the squeeze, that his eyes would flutter open and he'd smile when he saw that she'd remained loyally at his side… But he didn't wake, hadn't woken in the hours since he'd come out of surgery and had been transferred to the ICU. She stifled a yawn; it was well after midnight, but she knew she'd never be able to sleep.
The bullet had nicked his spinal cord, shattered two ribs, and punctured his lung, resulting in pneumothorax. The tear had been ragged, and he'd lost a lot of blood. The doctors had removed the bone fragments from his lung and re-inflated it. He'd received a transfusion of blood, and the damage to his spine had been seen to by a neurologist – though it was too early to ascertain whether there was any permanent damage. The doctors gave him a fifty-fifty chance at living – chances that were considerably lowered by his comatose state. He'll live, Mary Jane told herself firmly. Peter can take more damage than a normal person; if anyone can pull through this, he can!
If only he'd just wake up…
The only plus side was that the doctors had been too busy saving Peter's life to look closely at his blood; if they had, she was certain they'd find something… anomalous. It was a miracle that he hadn't been wearing his Spider-Man uniform under his suit; the nightmare would only intensify if the doctors discovered the truth.
Movement at the door drew Mary Jane's attention; Peter's Aunt May entered, her face just as pale and frail-seeming as Peter's. She held two steaming cups of coffee in her hands, and silently offered one to Mary Jane. She accepted, taking a sip before setting it aside. May took the seat next to Mary Jane, her expression one of shock and numbness. May Parker may have looked like a fragile old woman, but there was a surprising strength to her. She'd survived the murder of her husband and attacks by two super-villains. She was made of stern stuff, and she'd survive this – but only if Peter pulled through.
"They'd like to speak to you again," May said, her voice soft, as if she lacked the strength to even speak. "Go on… we'll be all right," she said.
Mary Jane stood, taking up her coffee as she did so. She'd already been grilled by the police once, when Peter had first been brought in, but she'd still been hysterical. They were probably hoping she'd calmed enough to think more clearly. Or… perhaps they'd found discrepancies in her story… She gave May a reassuring squeeze as she passed the older woman and went to the doorway, pausing only once to look back at Peter. There was no sign of life; the only sounds were the hums of the machines that kept Peter alive. She turned her back on him and walked unsteadily down the hallway. She paused to duck into a bathroom, washing the tears from her flushed cheeks and finger-combing her hair into a semblance of order, then took a deep breath and readied herself to face the police.
The younger men who had grilled her earlier had been replaced by an older man dressed in a brown suit, absently twisting the shaft of a cane around in his hands. He looked up at her approach and smiled warmly. "Ms. Watson?" He offered his hand. "I'm Captain George Stacy. I'm in charge of this investigation. How is the young man?"
She gave him a wavering smile. Inwardly, she wondered what the police had found to call in a captain; clearly, they thought this was more than a random shooting. It was something she privately agreed upon. Peter wouldn't fall to a stray bullet. "He's in a coma. Until he wakes up, the doctors won't know if there's any permanent neural damage." She was pleased that her voice didn't break, though there was a slight quaver she couldn't suppress.
"I'm sorry to pull you away from his side; but I only want a moment of your time," Stacy said. "You were in Sorento's at the time of the shooting, correct?" Captain Stacy asked, consulting his notes. Mary Jane nodded. "Waiting for him," Stacy continued. "Did he call and tell you he was going to be late?"
Mary Jane shook her head. "No, but Peter…" she had to tread carefully here. "Punctuality isn't his strong suit; he's late more often than not. He's a photographer for the Daily Bugle; he takes the pictures of Spider-Man. Whenever something comes up, he tries to be there with his camera. I just take it for granted that he isn't going to be there when he tells me."
"So he's the one that takes those photos? He's fantastic; his action-shots are breath-taking, as if he was swinging right along with Spider-Man."
Mary Jane was very glad she had training as an actress; she didn't want to give way how close to the truth Stacy really was. "He really is very good."
"Does he take risks getting these shots?" Stacy asked.
She thought of the scars that marred his body, scars that had come from bullets, knives, flying shrapnel, super-villains... "Yes," she admitted.
"So he could have been caught in a battle between Spider-Man and the gunman," Stacy mused. "Except that we have witnesses that state that Spider-Man wasn't on the scene when Mr. Parker was shot. Forensics say that the weapon used was a sniper rifle – not a weapon normally carried for, say, a mugging. We think it may have been premeditated," Stacy said delicately.
There was a lump in Mary Jane's throat. Oh, Peter, what have you gotten yourself into? Why would someone want to kill you? Captain Stacy seemed to be thinking along the same lines. "Has he mentioned anything to you about being in trouble? Strange happenings? Death threats?" Mary Jane shook her head to each, but it wasn't quite the truth.
"Does Mr. Parker just take Spider-Man photos, or are his talents ever used elsewhere?"
Mary Jane considered. "He's freelance, so he isn't usually given assignments that a staff reporter can handle, but sometimes he's called in, and he usually accepts because he needs the money." She regretted revealing the last, but it was too late now.
Captain Stacy ran his thumb absently along the polished wood handle of his cane. "While it is possible he was simply in the wrong place in the wrong time, evidence supports the theory that Mr. Parker was attacked for a reason, perhaps to silence him. I have men questioning his boss, asking for photos, negatives, or any notes that may contain evidence." He grimaced; clearly, he'd dealt with J. Jonah Jameson before. "May Parker gave us permission to search her nephew's things, so we'll be searching his apartment tonight." She felt a momentary stab of panic; what if they found Peter's Spider-Man costume? But, no, it wasn't there… she didn't know where it was, since Peter hadn't been wearing it when he'd been shot, but she knew he would have been wearing it earlier – he must have ditched it before he was supposed to meet her. "If you can think of anything he may have said or done, please, let me know." He handed her a card with a number on it, and she thanked him and put it in the pocket of her coat.
There was another possibility, one that she couldn't tell Captain Stacy: that it hadn't been Peter Parker who was the target, but Spider-Man. Could the shooter have known his identity, and struck while the vigilante was vulnerable?
If that was the case, then Captain Stacy and the police would be severely handicapped in their investigation. She stood up, taking her now-cool coffee, and headed back to Peter's hospital room to continue her silent vigil. The more she thought about how the police would be missing a big chunk of the puzzle, the more her heart sank. Maybe the shooter was just after Peter. Maybe he just photographed something damaging, something someone would want to cover up. The police will find out, the person will be arrested, and justice will be served.
But she had a gut feeling that it wouldn't be that simple. Spider-Man was a big factor of this shooting, of that she was certain. I'll have to do my own investigating on the side, she realized. I may be the only one who can unearth the truth. It was a daunting prospect, not to mention a dangerous one. I… I don't know if I can do this alone, Peter…
She'd spent the entire night at Peter's side, watching, waiting, hoping… praying… He hadn't moved once during that long vigil; only the steady rise and fall of his chest and the hiss of air through the respirator tube showed that he still lived. Dawn had crept up on them, and finally May, who had dozed off sometime around three in the morning, shooed Mary Jane off to get some sleep, promising to contact her the moment Peter opened his eyes. She'd left with the greatest of reluctance, but was forced to admit to herself that she was doing Peter no good by refusing to eat and sleep.
Mary Jane trudged out the lobby doors and into the sunlight, blinking at the unexpected brightness. The day promised to be a glorious one; one of summer's last. It didn't seem fair for the weather to be so beautiful when life had taken such a horrific turn. It should be raining, she thought. A storm; Heaven should be weeping for the fall of a mighty hero.
She considered flagging down a taxi, then decided against it. A long walk would give her the chance to sort out her thoughts, come to grips with her situation. She drew her coat closer around her rumbled dress, a daring, low-cut curve-hugging scarlet sleeve that she'd bought just for that night. She'd thought Peter would love it. And now… he'd never even see it, because there was no way she could ever wear this dress again, without thinking of last night.
She ignored the bustling world around her. Life went on, even if her own had come to a crashing halt. But, no, it hadn't been unaffected by the shooting; to Mary Jane, it had developed a bleakness, as if a veil over the world had been peeled away, revealing the grim reality. She'd been in New York for almost three years, faced the worst of what it had to offer, but had still clung to her illusions that it was still a safe, friendly place – as long as her protector swung through the streets meting out justice. And now… it suddenly seemed a cold, empty place. Dangerous. What if one of the laughing pedestrians around her was the shooter?
She wrapped her hands around herself, feeling a chill that had nothing to do with the weather. Mary Jane felt like she'd never be warm again…
Her steps slowed as awareness of her surroundings sank in. The frosted glass doors of Sorento's, elegance lost in the garish light of day, were set slightly above street level to her left. A lump formed in her throat as she took the last stumbling steps to the cordoned-off square of pavement where Peter had lain lifeless, like a broken doll.
Shards of glass gleamed amongst chunks of brick, catching her eye and momentarily drawing her gaze from the dark stain that lay at the heart of the blocked-off area. Her eyes swept over the site, lingering over the blood stain before slowly roving upward, taking in the bullet-riddled brick above. There were a handful of the holes, each one marked by the investigative team that had painstakingly combed over the site for evidence. She wondered what they thought of the holes that were nearly ten feet up.
Staring at the site, the images of Peter, skin too-white against the hospital bed, his bandages too red, came back to haunt her. Peter, battered, broken. Comatose. Dying, or at least, in critical condition. He'd certainly never be the same again after this, if he pulled through. She swayed, and her knees threatened to give out completely. She caught herself and turned her back on the scene of the crime, ignoring the concerned looks from two passerby who had caught sight of her near-swoon.
There was nothing she could do here. Mary Jane began to walk away, retracing what had surely been Peter's path the previous night. It wasn't until then that she realized she'd had a goal in mind all this time, a task to keep her mind too busy to finally break down completely and lose its ability to reason. Newly aware of this sense of purpose, she ducked into the first alley she came to, scanning first the walls above to see if it had been stashed somewhere, then examining the base of the walls in case it had fallen. She hoped it hadn't already been found and sold to the Bugle again…
There, beneath the dumpster – a bright blotch of scarlet, vivid against the alley's monochromatic concrete-and-stone setting. She dropped to her knees and fished out the familiar missing costume. It was folded sloppily; it had probably been webbed to the dumpster's underside, but had dropped when the webbing had dissolved. She wrinkled her nose at the costume's rank odor, which hadn't come from its night under the dumpster. For the costume to have picked up its layer of dried trash, he must have been in the dumpster. No wonder Peter hadn't worn it to the restaurant.
She bundled it up and looked for a place to put it; unfortunately, her purse was too small to carry all of it. She was forced to carry it in pieces, shoving sections in her purse, her pockets, and even, to her disgust, down her dress when she just couldn't find any more room for the leggings, the least rank of the pieces. She refused to leave it behind, however, so down the dress it went.
She attempted to brush off her knees, but only spread the congealed trash goo and chunks of rotting food further over her dress. She gave up and exited the alley, hoping that there'd be a taxi driver willing to pick up this poor girl who surely resembled a raccoon with the dark rings under her eyes and the sting of garbage clinging to her clothing – her trembling legs suddenly felt too unsteady to carry her home.
A taxi stopped for her, and she climbed inside, hoping the reek of garbage wouldn't carry to the driver too quickly. Her address was at the tip of her tongue, but when she spoke, she realized she'd given him another address entirely. Instead of going home, Mary Jane directed the driver towards Peter's apartment.
The cramped, dark one-room apartment was as cluttered and unkempt as usual, though there was something… off about it. The police presence was almost palpable, as if by simply touching Peter's possessions, they'd tainted his home. At least they wouldn't be back, or they would have left orders not to let anyone in; Mr. Ditkovitch had muttered obscenities – or at least, that's what she thought they were, but it was hard to tell because they were in his native tongue – about the disruption the cops had caused, but he'd let Mary Jane into Peter's room. He'd left her alone, grumbling about how Peter's rent was late and now he definitely wouldn't get it any time soon… Mary Jane had swallowed back her anger at the man's seeming lack of compassion.
She crossed the short distance from the door to the bed with its flat, worn mattress and shabby bedding. The springs squealed in protest when she sat upon it, and the edge of one dug into her thigh, but she was oblivious to the pain as she stared dully forward, towards the mirror hung on one wall, with photos of her and a ticket stub for one of her performances of The Importance of Being Earnest wedged into the frame. There was little else to decorate the gloomy room, and Mary Jane suddenly understood why Peter spent so much time web-slinging: to escape this cramped little hole in the wall. Even after just a few short minutes in here, it felt to Mary Jane like the walls were closing in.
There was so little of Peter actually in this room… She remembered seeing his room when he'd lived with Harry in their posh two-level apartment, where every nook, cranny, and corner had been crammed with things Peter had collected. But here, except for the cluttered top of his dresser, the two cartons stacked against the wall with the fewest leakage stains, and the surface of his desk, he seemed to own very little. She hadn't noticed how empty it was before; Peter's presence had filled the void, making up for the lack of material possessions. Now, though, she was painfully aware of how badly off he was.
It was odd, Mary Jane reflected, how in such a traumatic time, her mind chose to latch on to something so trivial.
She pushed up off the protesting bed and went over to Peter's desk, picking up the topmost textbook and absently thumbing through it. She didn't know what she was looking for; just something, anything that might give her a clue to why this had happened. If the police didn't find anything, how can I expect to succeed where they failed? The textbooks yielded no clue, nor did the half-finished homework sitting on his desk. Looking at it, she wondered dully if anyone would tell Peter's professors what had happened to him, so his grades wouldn't slip further. Did the police even care about things like that? She doubted it.
She set aside the last of the battered textbooks and looked around for the daily planner she knew Peter kept, but it was gone, for police perusal. His address book was missing, as well. Since he didn't exactly record his Spider-Man activities or have a Spider-Cave address, she didn't worry too much about what the police would be able to glean from the missing books. Still, this invasion of privacy, no matter how well intended, made her feel ill. Perhaps what she was doing was little better, but at least she was close to Peter. She began to rummage through Peter's desk drawers. The contents were disorganized, with papers on top and school supplies on the bottom – the result of the police search. She found several packets of photos; some a little thinner than others, either because he'd sold some of the photos to the Bugle, or the police had taken them. The negatives were all gone, too.
I hope they don't find anything embarrassing in them, she thought with a wry smile. The packet she currently held must have been two years old, at least, and featured her and Harry, with Peter sometimes posing with them. I miss those days… Her smile faded. Harry… There was a suspect the police would never consider. Harry Osborn, son of Norman Osborn, blamed Spider-Man for his father's death, and had on at least one occasion, tried to kill him. And now, he knew Spider-Man's real identity. Harry had the motive, and the money, to hire a hit man. But would he do it? Maybe he hated Spider-Man, but Peter had been his best friend, the one who had helped Harry get the grades he needed to graduate. She refused to believe that Harry would cast aside those years of friendship just for revenge. Surely it would make him more hesitant to commit murder! Then again, she felt like she barely knew Harry anymore… he'd become so cold, so distant, since he'd taken over as OsCorp.
She replaced the photos and set her sights on Peter's dresser next. Shabby clothing, slightly stained but clean, was all she found in the drawers. The closet was completely empty, except for a shoe box. Also empty.
The cartons contained nothing of use, either. And, surprisingly, there were no loose boards that could contain an empty cavity for use as a hiding space – she would have thought this place would have been full of such things.
There was nothing here to give her any clues; or, if there had been, it had been seized by the police. She sat back on the bed and threw herself backwards, then grabbed one of Peter's pillows to cover her face as the first of the sobs broke free, and the tears began to stream down her cheeks.
She didn't know how long she'd spent sobbing, finally releasing all of her pent up sorrow; it felt like hours, but probably hadn't been more than ten minutes. When her sobs finally slowed, she pushed the pillow away from her face and slowly got up. There was a sink on one wall, and Mary Jane used it to clean up as best as possible. At least the water was clean… She then went to the mirror to see the damage; the dark rings around her eyes had been joined by red blotches. She smiled weakly, and noticed the expression did nothing to dispel the sorrow from her eyes.
Her eyes fell on the photos wedged in the frame, the distinctive four-frame photos from a photo booth, taken when she, Peter, and Harry had gone to a carnival two years previously. She'd given a set to Harry, and a set to Peter. They'd done the same; she still had her pictures of Peter and Harry in her photo album. She'd looked so happy, then… in those photos, the smile had reached her eyes, and she'd looked so happy, so carefree. Her attention turned to the ticket, and her hand brushed it. It was the performance he'd missed, and now she had a good idea why.
She looked to see what else Peter had placed on the mirror; she'd never investigated his little shrine this closely before. There were more pictures, an article that was a review of the opening night performance of Earnest… and a small folded piece of paper, hidden behind one of the photos. She slid it out, only mildly curious what it was. But when she unfolded it, her curiosity was piqued. This wasn't something that belonged on the mirror… She wasn't sure what it was – it looked like gibberish at first glance – but for it to be on the mirror, it had to be important.
It took her a moment to puzzle out what she was seeing; it had been written hastily in Peter's familiar chicken-scratch scrawl and was barely legible. It looked to be a string of digits interspersed with a few letters. She could make out the 00-ER that began the sequence, but she was having trouble reading the rest. She was tempted to crumple it up and chuck it out, but held back. If it wasn't important, would Peter have placed it with her photographs on the mirror? There was something about it, something that the police had missed.
Mary Jane examined the slip of paper again, frowning. She chewed her lip in thought as she struggled to make sense of it. A serial number? Password? An address? The more she thought about it, the more likely the last one seemed. It had more characters than most passwords, and she wasn't certain why a serial number would be concealed. As an address, it made no sense, but perhaps Peter had abbreviated the words, leaving a jumble of symbols that only had meaning to him.
It could be nothing, or it could be a lead. Mary Jane was tempted to call the police and leave an anonymous tip, but what if this location meant something to Spider-Man, rather than Peter Parker? What if it gave away his secret?
But what if this led her to the truth? It was certainly worth investigating…
To Be Continued…