The Trickster sends greetings from her undisclosed location. I've been warning all Loyal Minions of this story via my profile for a few weeks and this story, "Star-Crossed Lover" is going to be to my previous work as the Minutes to Midnight album is to Hybrid Theory and Meteora. (Many ottophiles are Linkin Park fans. Don't know exactly why.) As always, read and review, and as the great philosopher Alfred E. Neuman once said, "What, me worry?"

Star-Crossed Lover

May Parker thinks the charming nuclear physicist may be her best chance at love since her beloved Ben died. But her nephew, Peter, isn't exactly giving the happy couple his blessing…

A note: All characters belong to Marvel, unless otherwise noted. All quotes I may use belong to their respective writers.

Another note: This fanfic takes place a few months after the Spider-Man trilogy. Peter Parker has not yet revealed his superhero identity to his Aunt May. Mary Jane knows, but Peter has requested that she keep it to herself. Otto Octavius is alive, but as a result of oxygen deprivation-related brain damage as a result of his near drowning, he seems to have forgotten his knowledge of Peter's identity.

Yet another note: I borrowed heavily from both movie and comic continuity (ultimate as well as amazing), as I do all my fics—but I also had to draw from the 90s cartoon as well for certain characters who will show up later.

Still another note: Whether old or new, read and review! If you have a question, I'll answer it; if you compliment me, I'll thank you for it; if you criticize me, I'll try to correct it; if you flame me, you will get a sarcastic answer and your name blocked. Now let's begin…

Chapter 1: When I'm Gone, by Peter Parker

"Have you ever loved someone so much you'd give an arm for her?

Not the expression, no literally, give an arm for her?

When they know they're your heart

And you know you are their armor

And you will destroy anyone who would try to harm her

But what happens when karma turns right around and bites you,

And everything you stand for turns on you despite you?

What happens when you become the main source of her pain?"

--Eminem, "When I'm Gone"

Superheroes never ask to get extraordinary powers. They sort of stumble upon them, if you will. Unlike some supervillains who get that way by intentionally trying to make themselves inhumanly powerful, we heroes have better things to do than living a life driven by power lust. That's what distinguishes us from them. The bad guys are pretty much bad guys most of the time, except if they act like good guys if it serves them. Good guys, by contrast, are generally good guys part time. We have careers, we have families. We have lives, thank you very much, and this puts us heroes at a distinct disadvantage.

Sometimes the line between our superhero activities and our personal lives becomes so blurred, we're afraid to do anything about it because that would not only reveal your identity to the villain but to the very loved one you try so hard to protect…

"Don't you think it's a bit…soon?" I ask my aunt.

"Peter dear, it's been four years since Ben died. I can't just forget him, of course, but I have to move on. He would want us to be happy, don't you agree?"

"Yeah," I agree. Nothing's ever going to take his place, of course. Come to think of it, Uncle Ben would still be around but for me...

"I would like some companionship in my old age, and I clearly can't have you around all the time. You have to grow up and live a life of your own with that little girlfriend of yours."

"Pardon me, but how do you expect to find Mr. Right the Second Time Around at your—"

"Hush, Peter! I hear stories all the time about people in their seventies, eighties, finding true love and marrying. I think a sixty-one year old would be a comparative spring chicken!"

I smile. She always liked my smile. "Do these stories involve a true love named Anna Nicole Smith?"

May is only half-amused. "You make it sound like I'm a fragile, vulnerable old lady. You make it sound like I can't take care of myself."

"No, of course—"

"Why, when that dreadful mad scientist held me hostage at the bank last year, who got the first hit in? I did tell you about that, didn't I? You were so scared you ran away."

The latter statement wasn't exactly true, but I keep up my poker face. I don't feel like going into the whole sordid superhero business. "Touché. But how do you expect to find your True Love? An ad in the personals?"

"Heavens, no!" May gestures at a laptop sitting on the table. "I saved up money from the piano lessons and got a very nice deal for this. I've been learning all about the internet and there's a website called senior-love-match-dot-com, and—"

"Good Lord!" I exclaim. "Aunt May, those could be anyone! I've heard stories about perverts coming on to young girls online and—"

"I don't see why perverts would come on to 'little old ladies' typing 'knit 1, purl 1' on the knitting chat room. You shouldn't worry about me so much."

But I do, I think inside. I do, more than I could ever tell you. Those encounters with the Green Goblin and Doctor Octopus were quite enough, but if some other super-powered nutty-nut-bar went after you and…I could never forgive myself!

I grumble inside, because I know she's right. She only looks fragile. She came out of said encounter with the former villain with nothing more than the frights, and when the latter villain held her hostage last year during his bank robbery (he admitted to himself with the utmost chagrin) she had got the first swing in. I know this, of course, because I had witnessed it myself.

Still…I'm worried. I had heard stories, after all. And besides, lately I'm having a lot more to worry about.

"I think we should start seeing other people." She gently pushes her flaming dark red hair out of her eyes.

"Why, Mary Jane?"

"Have you ever noticed that whenever I'm around, I end up being dangled off a bridge or tied to a pole by some super-powered nut job? By the way, in the second instance, said nut job pinched my ass with his freaky metal arms. Now, I know why these sort of things keep happening to me. Now I know why I end up in places like a cab car dangling in a black web with cemen blocks dangling over me."

"So…you want to quit our relationship because continuing it would put you in danger? Is that it?" I ask. I'd revealed myself to her not so long ago. I thought she could handle the truth. I didn't think so before. I was right then.

"Not only that. That's the least of it. I don't want to deal with the secrets. The rumors. The dropped dates. The absences. The long nights wondering whether you're going to get killed. That whole mess with you, your hidden girlfriend, your wacko ex-best friend, and your freaky black suit. Watching you on TV getting ripped up by some muscle-bound, fanged freak dipped in black alien goo. Watching you on TV getting ripped up by a felon who can turn into sand. Watching you on TV getting ripped up by a fat mad scientist and his robot tentacles. Watching you on TV getting ripped up by not one, but two goblin-suited, glider-gliding weirdoes—"

"I get the point—" I try to roll my eyes.

"I'm not finished! Did I say I was finished?" Mary Jane shouts at me, then continues with her list of What She Has To Put Up With. "Listening to you being called a criminal by the newspaper. Making excuses for you again and again. Face it, as long as I'm involved with you, there's always going to be Another Man between us. It'll be some bizarre love triangle between Peter, Mary Jane, and Spider-Man, and two of them are one and the same."

"But I love you. I've always—" I plead. I'd get on my knees, if she didn't think it was degrading.

"Love just isn't enough, Peter. There has to be commitment, something you don't quite have the hang of. I can't deal with being the Third Wheel. So, I suggest you start seeing other people, 'cause I sure will."

I shake my head. Just another day in the life of Peter Parker, called Spider-Man.