Epilogue: What I've Done
3 years later...
The skies were filled with thick grey clouds, and snow was threatening to fall on the city.
Many things had happened in the last three years. By now, Octavius had completed his experiment, which was, as expected, a success. Also, as expected, he had become rather famous for his breakthrough; his experiment was the talk of the scientific community. They had recently learned that Rosie was incapable of having kids, for prior health issues. This made her depressed for a few weeks, but they got through it.
Octavius had not been charged with the deaths of Norman Osborn, The Vulture, or Kraven; they had all been ruled self-defense.
Unfortunately, Carolyn Trainer had been charged with murder, for the death of Tombstone. However, taking into account the fact that Tombstone had shot her only a few minutes prior, and the threat that he still posed, and would have posed if she hadn't, she was let off easy. She was only expected to serve five to ten years.
Speaking of which...
Octavius walked in the front door of New York State Prison, looking around. The looks on the faces of the criminals there did not frighten him. After all, he had lived through worse.
He gave his identification and reason for being there, and was promptly escorted into the visitor's room, with the warning that he had ten minutes. There, Carolyn was sitting backwards in a chair, her arms folded on the back of it, staring out the window.
"Hey, Carolyn." Octavius said as he grabbed a chair, sitting down beside her.
She looked over at him and said, "Hey. Anything new happening on the outside?"
"Not much." he replied. "I've had to fight off a few reporters today trying to ask me about my research into nuclear fusion. I practically had to beat them off with a stick to get here."
"You know, they're thinking of letting me out of here in two years." Carolyn said, looking back out the window. "Maybe when I get out, I could come down to the lab and give you a hand."
"Sounds like a plan." he said, nodding.
The two were silent for a minute or two before she said, "To this day, I don't remember why I did it. Why I killed Tombstone. I still don't remember much of that night. Maybe it was simply revenge. After all, he shot me first. Maybe it was simply that I didn't want anything to happen to either of you. You know me."
"I do." he replied.
"I know what she means to you. I didn't want to see you get hurt." she said, looking down at the floor. "I paid a high price for it, though. I remember waking up half a day later, no idea where I was at, or what had even happened to me. When that Mendel found me, I was lying unconscious on the ground, still holding my pistol. I only remembered later that day that I had killed Tombstone. I took a day to recover before I left. I couldn't figure out why I would have done such a thing."
Then, the call came that his ten minutes were over. Octavius stood up, put his hand on her shoulder, and said, "We all make mistakes, Carolyn. Just don't let them get to your head."
Now, he was back home, sitting beside Rosie, his arm around her shoulder, watching the fire in the fireplace.
"Is something wrong?" Rosie asked, concerned. "You've been awfully quiet tonight."
"Oh, it's... nothing." he replied, sighing. "It's just that... it was exactly three years ago that Curt died. I'm just a little... oh, I don't know."
Rosie did not have a reply to that.
"I just... I just wish I could go back in time and prevent all of that from happening." he said sadly. "It wasn't his time to die. He still had everything going for him. A successful career. A wife, now without a husband. A son, now without a father. And all because some third-rate thug with a gun had a grudge."
"At least now you understand that it's not your fault it happened." she said as she turned him to face her. She could see the sadness written in his face. He had never been the same since the day Curt died. "Some things can never be controlled."
"I know." he said as he stood up. "If you'll excuse me for a minute..."
He walked into his room and shut the door behind him, walking up to the small mirror that hung on one wall. He removed his shirt and looked at himself in the mirror. He could still see the various scars of the past five years of his life; the three diagonal slash marks from when Curt had lost control of his Lizard alter ego, the bullet wound in his shoulder from when him and Curt escaped a Russian prison, the two bullet wounds in his chest from when Norman Osborn shot him...
How he had even survived the last five years of his life was a mystery to him.
It always seemed that those who he became involved with always left their mark on him, either emotionally or physically.
He ran a finger along one of the diagonal scars and thought, Why is it that everyone I know, everyone I ever grow close to, always comes to a bad end? Or that they leave me?
Suddenly overcome with emotion, he slammed his fist into the mirror, watching it splinter into jagged shards that fell to the floor at his feet. He fell to his knees and slammed his fist into the carpeting, screaming, "WHY DOES ALL OF THIS SEEM TO HAPPEN TO ME!"
For a moment, the only sound in the room was the ticking of the clock that hung on the wall, until Rosie walked into the room, looking visibly concerned.
"Otto, are you alright?"
It took him a moment, but finally he said, "No, Rosie, I'm not alright. I'm... I'm just so tired of all of this. It seems like everyone I ever really valued as a friend, as a confidante, always leaves me in the end. My mother, one of my close friends back in Germany, and now Curt. I don't understand it."
Rosie was silent a moment as she knelt down beside him and said, "I haven't. And I never will."
"How can you be so sure?" he replied, looking down at the floor. "That's the same thing they all said. My mother, Curt, Mary Alice Anders... they all said they'd never leave. But look at what happened to them. I'm tired of it! I can't take it anymore!"
"I'm sorry for what happened to all of them. I really am." Rosie said, putting her arms around him, pulling him close. "But this is the present. You have to stop focusing on the past. You have to look towards the future."
She helped him to his feet and said, "Remember what I said. I'm not going to leave you. Not now, not ever."
The two were silent, before Octavius said, "I'm going out to the cemetery. I'm going to give Curt a visit."
Rosie just nodded and handed him his shirt and coat.
"Don't be gone too long. There's a storm that's supposed to break soon."
Now, he was outside the city, walking into the New York cemetery, the wind whipping back the corners of his trenchcoat. He pulled his coat tighter about him as he walked among the graves, looking for one in particular.
He located it and stood beside it, reading the inscription on the headstone.
"Curtis Connors 1899 - 1935 Loving Husband Loving Friend"
He knelt down, putting his hand atop the stone.
"It's been a while since we've talked, old friend." he said, the way he would if he was talking to his friend in real life. "Not sure if you saw the news. A lot of people felt bad for what happened to you. I've missed you, you know... God, I wish you could be here now. I haven't been the same without you. Things will never be the same.
"You know, the week you died, I could barely drag myself out of bed in the morning. Every time I'd go to bed at night, I would see what happened replayed in my head, like a nightmare that would never go away. The week I disappeared, it just got worse. I would wake up screaming, thinking that I'd killed you." Here, his voice broke, and he had to regain his composure before continuing, "I know now that I didn't, but to wake up, thinking you were responsible for the death of your best friend... it nearly broke me. It did break me. That's why I set out to avenge you. I no longer have those dreams. But if it meant you were still alive... I would just as soon have them..." here, a tear slipped down his cheek and he said, "Why do people do things like that? Why do they kill without any good reason? Why?" He had to fight back a sob as he said, "Why couldn't the Chameleon have taken me? You left behind a wife and son."
He stood up and fumbled in his pocket for something.
"I brought something for you. Figure you deserve it more than me. After all, you helped inspire me."
He pulled out a small object; it was the medal he had been awarded when he won the Nobel Prize for his work into fission. He placed it atop the grave and said, "I was awarded the honor last year. Wish you could have been there to see it."
The snow started to fall, and he said, "I suppose I'll be back later. We have quite a bit of catching up to do."
And with the snow falling and the wind howling around him, he walked out of the cemetery, back towards the city.
Yes, over the last five years since he'd came to America, Otto Octavius had clearly changed. He'd seen the rough side of life, had been in more incidents than most men could bear, and he'd lived through it all. No longer was he the shy, vulnerable young man he'd been when he came to America; now, he was a distinguished scientist, who had built up his name and his reputation, whose name was as well-known as those of Niels Bohr, Ernest Rutherford, and yes, even Albert Einstein. But, as he'd once said to his wife, Rosie, three years ago, the fame had not changed him.
No, what had changed him were the things he had seen, the things he had done, the things he had lived through.
Yes, he had clearly changed. He still bore the scars of all of those past experiences, but he had finally left his past behind him. He rarely thought about his past, and was instead steadily moving forward, shaping his destiny. He knew now that things happened that no one could control; he had learned that much from Rosie. He also knew that some things just had to be kept in the past.
He walked into the city, pushing that thought out of his head as he walked down the streets, pulling his coat tighter around him, the snow now falling harder.
Some things just had to be kept in the past. And some things had to be let go.
"Let mercy come, and wash away, what I've done!
I face myself, to cross out what I've become!
Erase myself, and let go of what I've done!"
-Linkin Park, "What I've Done"