Happy Thanksgiving everyone! Sorry for the long stretch between chapters.
The New Avengers sat around the table in silence, waiting for all to arrive. Kraven was still there, sitting next to Spider-Man who stared straight ahead blankly. He wore his costume but neglected the mask, leaving his face, pale and wan, visible. They did not speak.
Captain America, Iron Man and Wolverine entered together, the door shutting with a decisive click behind them. Their footsteps seemed to echo through the silent room. Wolverine took a seat and Captain America and Iron Man moved to the front of the room.
Iron Man took off his helmet and tucked it under his arm. He cleared his throat.
"We've found 29 more survivors in the rubble as of 20 minutes ago," he said. His voice was quiet but still managed to fill the whole room. "And recovered about 500 bodies, many beyond recognition."
Peter hitched a breath.
"Is there anything I can do?" he asked, his voice still raspy from screaming.
"Frankly, there's nothing more anyone can do. This garnered worldwide attention and we've got more than enough superheroes at the scene already. Wolverine, Captain America and I will be heading back there later today. I'd like the rest of the New Avengers to stay in the city in case of an emergency. And it would be best if you stayed here and rested."
Peter laughed. It was a harsh ugly sound.
"Rest? I've been asleep for three days straight, Tony. Some hero I've been. I couldn't even…"
He trailed off, glaring at his hands. He suddenly slammed his fist on the table and they all started.
"I couldn't… I couldn't…" he whispered. Tears trickled down his face. "I'm so sorry I couldn't."
"It's not your fault, Pete," snapped Wolverine.
"It's not your fault."
Kraven and Peter slept together that night, not for the first time, but it marked the beginning of Kraven's permanent move to Peter's room and adoption of his, no their, bed.
He found Peter on the balcony of his apartment in Stark Towers, eyes intently regarding the ground far, far below with a thoughtful, almost longing expression. He was balanced on the railing of the balcony, only one step from disappearing from sight.
Kraven came soundlessly from behind and pulled him down from the railing and dragged him into the room. Startled, Peter punched at him, but Kraven merely moved out of the way and pulled him roughly to him for a bruising, possessive kiss. Peter pressed his hands against Kraven's chest as if to push him away. When Kraven pulled away, Peter gasped for air and Kraven said gruffly, "Don't do that anymore," and pulled him in for another kiss, and another, and another, continuing his plea between each kiss and slowly moving him to the bed where Peter kissed him back. They were rough that night, Kraven entering him quickly and with little ceremony. The finger-shaped bruises on his hips would last for days.
But Peter stopped standing out on the balcony. And Kraven never went back his penthouse anymore and didn't care how it looked.
The next few days flew by, far too quickly for comfort. Things were changing and changing fast. Debate over a "Superhero Registration Bill" grew, both sides equally passionate in their arguments.
Tony Stark was at the Stark Towers less and less often. He could be often seen on TV, making public appearances and stirring up support for the new bill. Peter watched it all in silence, torn between what he should do.
"Pete, whatever you do, I'll be with you," said Kraven one day, looking at him in concern. "I'm not sure how I feel about any of this, but if you want to register, I'll do it with you."
Peter looked at him, eyes shadowed. He hadn't had another vision since Stamford and everyday he waited in fear for another.
"I don't know what to do."
"Oh Peter," said Aunt May as she carefully removed warm cookies from their tray. No matter how much Jarvis insisted she not worry about cooking or cleaning, she continued to spend much of her time in the Avengers kitchen. "You know I'll support you no matter what you choose."
"But… what do you think I should do?" asked Peter, sitting at the kitchen table. "You're part of this too, now, Aunt May. What do you want?"
There was a moment of silence as she picked up the plate of cookies and sat down with him at the table.
"I would like to say that all I want is to let the world know just how much Peter Parker has done for them so they can love him as much as I do." She smiled wryly. "But I know things aren't that simple, no matter how much I want them to be.
"I suppose all I really want is for my nephew to do the right thing. What do you think is the right thing?"
"Oh is that all?" Peter said grumpily, biting into a warm cookie.
She smacked him with a towel.
"Don't get smart young man!"
"I think I'm going to do it," Peter said. "I think… I have to. If it weren't for me, Stamford… I wasn't strong eno-"
"That wasn't your fault, Pete!" said Kraven angrily.
Peter looked down. Kraven pulled him close in a tight embrace.
"It wasn't your fault," he whispered.
Peter closed his eyes.
"It's not a big deal for me either way," said Kraven. He was lying next to Pete in their room in Stark Towers. They were tired and sweaty and, at the moment, in fairly good moods. "I'm no hero and everyone knows about my powers. But what do you really want to do Pete? I know you're good friends with Tony and he's all excited to have you onboard, but…"
"What I want…" Peter turned to Kraven with a suggestive smile. "I'll tell you wha-"
He never got to finish. Abruptly, his eyes rolled up to the back of his head and he fell back against the sheets, convulsing.
Kraven hit the panic button installed Peter's bedroom.
It was over far quicker than the last one. Help came rushing in in the form of Captain America and Tony Stark (who, to their credit, barely batted an eyelash at the sight of the two naked heroes in bed together).
"Tell the Avengers to assemble quickly," Tony told Cap hurriedly as he bent over Peter. "We'll be ready as soon as he's able to tell us what happened."
They were too late. Peter knew it, too, from the minute the convulsions stopped and he could talk again. He screamed at Tony, mindlessly, his words not making any sense, he threw the bed across the room, Tony barely managing to get out of the way in time, and tore his nails across his own face. It took all the three of them to hold him down, to calm him down enough to give them the address. Cap relayed the address to the Avengers standing by as Tony injected Peter with a powerful sedative and helped move him to a room with an intact bed.
They were too late.
"I don't think we should trust Tony Stark," Kraven said quietly to the back of Peter's head.
It was the morning before registration. Three days before, Peter had his last vision. The Avengers were unable to save any of the civilians caught in the crossfire of that ugly battle. They only found the bodies. Peter had seen each and every one of them die.
"What?" asked Peter. He had just woken up from the extended sleep that seemed to follow the visions and was strangely subdued. They lay together in bed, Peter pulled up against Kraven, his back to Kraven's chest. "Why?"
"You said something to him after…" Kraven hesitated. "After Stamford. You were angry with him. Then, this last time… you seemed to blame him."
Peter was silent.
"I'm sorry, Pete, I know you like the guy… I just wanted to warn you."
"It's alright." Peter sighed. "But why would Tony ever…"
Peter trailed off and his eyes focused on the Spider-suit on the couch.
"I've wondered what exactly that suit can do," he whispered to Kraven, so low that Kraven, with his advanced hearing, could just hear him. "I guess it was stupid of me to put it on without asking all about it, but… I trusted him, you know? I still trust him. I really trust him."
"You think the…" Kraven curled up against Peter, his mouth against his ear.
"I don't think anything," he whispered back. "I've just had a little bad feeling way in the back of my mind. I think it may have started with the suit. I don't know. There's danger everywhere. It's hard to pick a spot. I don't want to pick Tony. I like Tony. He's always helped me out."
"Pete… you know I'm rich, right? I have connections too, and what I don't have, I can get. I think we should leave."
Peter looked at him appraisingly.
"We don't have to stick around for tonight. My father stashed money all over the world. We could leave the country, take your aunt with us. Go someplace warm."
"Forget him. I don't trust the guy, you're not sure about him. Let's go."
Peter was quiet, lost in thought.
"I think… I think I need to speak to someone first… I think I need to go out."
"Yes." He got up and pulled on some pants. "Watch my aunt?"
"Watch your aunt? Hell no, I'm going with you."
Peter shook his head.
"I'll only be gone for a little while." He looked at Kraven beseechingly. "Please, I know I can trust you."
Peter smiled at him.
"Thanks. I'll talk to her and you can help her pack. I'll meet you later and we'll get out of here."
"But…" Kraven paused as what Peter said sank in. He grinned. "You better not be gone long or I'll come out looking for you and kick your ass."
The darkened room was filled with the soft hum of the advanced machinery that lined the walls. An old woman sat in the center of the room, perfectly poised, a red cloth covering her eyes.
Though no one was yet in the room, she spoke.
"I saw you die, Spider-Man. I saw you die and be reborn."
Spider-Man, clad in his old cloth costume, stepped into the room.
"Hello to you too, Madame Web."
"Excuse me, my dear araignée. Do I forget my manners? But I have been waiting for quite a while now, you see. How may I help you?"
"I think you know my problem," Spider-man said grimly.
Madame Web's expression did not change.
"What do you want me to tell you, my dear spider? You're changing. It happens. It has to happen. C'est la vie."
"You don't understand. I can't handle this."
"It's happening too fast?"
"I know. I am sorry. It's not your fault, spider. It was l'homme de metal. You weren't ready. But you will just have to be strong."
"What do you mean, 'metal man'? Who's the metal man?"
"You know who it is, spider. Tu sais. You just don't want to accept it. It hurts even more when one is hurt by a friend."
She tilted her head at him, her expression showing genuine sympathy.
Spider-Man had a sinking feeling in his chest. "I don't know what you're talking about. All my friends are nice and fleshy."
She shook her head.
"L'homme de metal tampered with things beyond his comprehension. The natural order was disturbed. You received your power. But there must be a price."
"So now I can see these things, these awful things, before they happen, but I can't do anything about it?"
"You are now more of a Cassandra than I am now. Je suis desole, Spider. I do feel for you."
Spider-man paced the room.
"I… I can't live this way. There must be something I can do, something to restore the natural order!"
"I cannot tell you how to restore the balance. That you must discover on your own, within yourself. For now, I must bid you adieu."
"What? No! I need more of a clue than that! Wait!"
But it was too late. She was gone, the room was gone, and Spider-man stood on an empty street, alone, her last words lingering in his ears.
"Good luck Spider-man. I know you will need it."
So, what do you think? Please review!
And sorry about the horrible French.