"What is going on here?" Mary Jane demanded again, turning toward the two young men.
Peter tried to answer but was having troubles getting any words out over the embarrassment of just how bad things looked. Harry, was too busy trying not to laugh for his own fear of girlfriend response.
"It's not what it looks like," Peter insisted finally.
Mary Jane turned to look at Harry as Kodachi glanced around, blinking slowly awake as she took in her surroundings, quietly whispering and taking note of the fact that she was apparently still at the studio loft Peter Parker shared with his roommate.
"Don't look at me," Harry said. "I thought she went home. I wasn't expecting her to wake up with a roofie hangover."
Kodachi paused at that and started running a mental checklist of her condition even as Mary Jane waved that aside.
"I wasn't thinking that," Mary Jane said, though she was a bit relieved in any case.
"This isn't my house…is this still Peter's loft? Is he finally home?" Kodachi asked. "We barely any time for this project..."
"We have two weeks," Peter noted to the other two.
There was some sleepily slurred Japanese that Peter was certain was something referring to the number of times either he, she or both were late to class.
"Wait, aren't you Kodachi Kuno?" Mary Jane asked, finally recognizing the aristocratic woman under the disheveled girl.
She remembered Peter mentioning something about sharing classes with her. Once again, she was faced with conflicting images of the Kuno woman.
"Yes," she said. "Hold on, I seem….ah, of course, if your boyfriend lives here, of course you would visit."
"You do remember me then," Mary Jane said as she saw Kodachi waking up. "Nothing about 'committing faces to memory.'"
"Ah, you remember that," Kodachi noted. "Perhaps I should find my bag and take my leave."
The small Japanese girl looked about before scooping up a large shoulder blue shoulder bag with a stylized rose on it and, slumping into herself walked out of the room.
"Hey, wait," Mary Jane called out after her, but the girl was gone already. "I didn't mean she had to go. I'm just trying to figure out why she was so rude the other night."
"I get the feeling," Peter said quietly. "That she wasn't…thinking straight all night."
They were quiet for a few seconds before someone finally spoke.
"So, you invited a crazy, rich girl to our place," Harry asked, wide-eyed. "Great."
"Harry," Mary Jane said with the signs of thinning patience.
"I'm only kidding," the young Osborn said. "So, what do you say about celebrating this part of yours?"
"That sounds great," Mary Jane said. "Are you coming, Peter?"
"I wouldn't miss it," the young man said.
Not far away, Kodachi walked out of a clothing store with a fresh change of clothing. Her shirt, blouse and unmentionables from the night before were folded carefully and tucked into her bag, a year before she would have simply thrown them away rather than take the trouble of carrying them home to be laundered.
Though she was aware of the fact that most people couldn't afford to buy new clothing simply because they didn't have immediate access to their wardrobe.
The new outfit wasn't anything very special, a yellow t-shirt and some green slacks. It was clean, however, and comfortable. Kodachi only wished that changing herself was as easy and complete as changing her clothing.
But a recovered sanity did not equate to total and complete mental health.
The samurai girl had made herself a lot of habits over the years, and the habits weren't always easy to set aside. At least she was able to recognize the faulty habits now.
She only wished a shower or bath was easier to come by. Too bad these Americans did not seem as interested in the concept of a public bath as her own people were.
The girl paused as she caught sight of the day's Bugle claiming that Spider-man and the Green Goblin were working together. The young woman's mouth twitched a little, wishing she could do something about that, but she'd already established her public persona as being disapproving of the concept of costumed superheroes.
There was very little she could do about the matter in any case.
Frowning to herself, she continued down the street towards her personal errand for the day.
The girl had delayed this visit as long as she safely could, even though it was one of the reasons that she had come to New York. Part of her was just too worried about what she might or might not find out.
Taking a deep breath as her objective came before her, she started to climb up the steps toward the massive building, notebook already coming out.
Fairly soon, she was in the room staring up at one of the largest and most impressive pieces of machinery that she had ever seen. She had never had need for an electron microscope herself, though there had been a few times when she could have certainly used one.
"This is the centerpiece of the lab," the woman said gesturing around. "The largest electron microscope on the Eastern Seaboard. If you're looking to fund a research project of some sort, Miss Kuno…"
"I generally conduct my own research," Kodachi noted. "No, I am interested in a project you had within this lab earlier this year. I asked about the building, and they said you were the one I should speak to."
"Really, which project was that?" the woman asked.
"It involved spiders," Kodachi noted.
"Ah, Dr. Warren's project," the woman said a bit uncomfortably. "Yes, they no longer run the experiment here."
"Would you know where the project was moved to?" Kodachi asked.
"I'm afraid not," the woman said.
"You seem a little troubled," Kodachi noted. "Is there something I should know before seeking further?"
There was a long pause as the woman considered how to responded to Kodachi.
"I'm afraid I can't say too much more, Miss," the woman said. "There is a pending lawsuit from the researchers and the lab refuses specific comment."
"I see," Kodachi responded, frowning as she considered how much of her hand to tip.
She could speak to the lab administrators to ask for information, implying that she had a lawsuit of her own planned against this Dr. Warren, but that would bring up the question of what her grievance was. In addition, it would strike exactly the wrong chord with this scientist whom she would need to be…cooperative if she were to have her questions answered.
"Well," the young woman noted. "My thanks for the tour, if I find the need for such equipment as this, you can guarantee that I shall consider this facility in all fairness."
The woman, a public relations specialist, winced at the carefully phrased statement.
"Good day," Kodachi said, bowing before taking her leave.
Peter had no trouble at all with his classes as he got through the day, but part of that was because he'd been unconscious for who knows how long on top of a roof somewhere, put under by the Goblin and rescued by the mysterious other spider that he knew was out there but had yet to make an easily noted appearance.
He had very little information to go on as to who it might have been, though had a feeling that it may have been a woman, but that might just have been because of the rose. Having never seen the other, however, that was just preconceptions.
There was one lead he could follow, however, the original lab facility. It was only about six or seven months back, so the experiment should still be running. Maybe they'd be willing to tell him if they'd had any other high school tours to see the facilities and, especially, the super-spider project.
Peter was walking up the steps as Kodachi was walking down, a small jumble of people leaving or returning from lunch hours conspiring to keep either from seeing each other.
Walking into the main lobby and moving toward the information desk, Peter looked down to uncap his camera before talking to the man behind the visitor's desk, noting the list of projects as he did and the fact that the super-spider project was no longer on the grounds.
"Hello," the man said pleasantly. "How can I help you?"
"Yeah," Peter responded. "There was a high school tour here a few months back. Is that a common thing?"
"Oh yes," the man said. "We host high school field trips through the facilities several times a year."
"Can I have a list of which high schools were here this year?" Peter asked politely.
"You look a little young to be a reporter," the man noted as he looked to the camera and made an assumption.
"I'm interning," Peter explained. "I'm thinking of writing an article on the lab and its impact on the community."
"I see," the information rep said. "Well, I'll have to check with my superiors on that. If you can give me a way to reach you, we'll contact you when we have some information for you."
"All right," Peter said, backing away a little disappointed at how little information the man was giving out.
Peter was walking across the lobby toward the exit when his eyes caught sight of the facility map.
On the grounds behind the main building, there was a greenhouse. He thought back to the rose weaved out of webbing and turned around again. Unfortunately, there was as little information there as from the lobby.
The only spider problem they'd had was a near thing with a recluse that had bitten a gardener. Fortunately, the spider had been recognized and the bite treated before any serious damage had developed. The only thing marginally interesting he'd learned was that they sold some of their strains to horticulturists and botanists around the world.
Unfortunately, that was only interesting and not really useful.
The sound of gunfire reached Kodachi's ears and she moved carefully to the nearest building before peeking around a corner to see what the situation was. A gunman was backing into a convenience store with his partners as a foot cop found cover among a small crowd of screaming and dodging people.
Glancing up, Kodachi quietly moved up the wall, going quickly around a corner before leaping from one wall to another to eventually hit a nearby roof. She didn't have the arm guards or boots with her, they wouldn't fit in her bag after all, but she had the basic costume and a few weapons.
The police officer would be calling for back up soon, she realized as she pulled her arms out of her shirt and the costume top down through the neck and over her body. The bottom of her outfit was already on underneath her slacks, so those only had to be taken off.
She was fully costumed in under a minute and leaping out to land lightly and soundlessly atop the convenience store that was quickly coming under siege. Reaching into one of several pouches in the belt around her waist, she pulled out a marble and tossed it down in front of the store.
Immediately, the marble broke and a white mist started spreading out over the scene, obscuring everything ten feet in every direction.
"What the hell?!" one of criminals within snapped. "Tear gas?"
"Just smoke," another said, gun aimed at the clerk. "Watch the door, they'll be coming."
"Coming?" a third asked. "There's only one car and a few foot-cops out there, who has smoke grenades?"
Even as he made the question, there was a flutter in the smoke, prompting two of the robbers to fire out, bullets cutting through at about chest height. Immediately afterward, a red and blue garbed figure rolled out of the smoke, coming to a standing position in front of two of the gunmen as a hand lashed outward toward the distant third and spray of webbing gobbed up the weapon pointed at the civilian.
The furthest gunman got out one reflexive shot as the dart struck his shoulder and his body started to seize up.
"Spider-man!" one started to shout as the masked crime-fighter faced her hands toward each other and produced a short, thick rope from paired streams of webbing.
The rope spun out knocking the gun out of the hand of the only robber still able to use one and possessing a firearm that was still operable. The first stopped trying to untangle his hand from the gun he'd be holding and swung out with the weapon, trying pistol whip the costumed-hero.
He found his hand caught in the rope and his body suddenly flying across the store to slam into the paralyzed thug, leaving only one robber with any ability to fight back and he was paralyzed by shock and fear in the fractions of second it took the red and blue garbed fighter to wrap him up in several strands of webbing.
All told, the fight had taken no more than two or three second and the clerk stood there staring in shocked awe as the figure that had just saved him, maybe saved his life, turned and nodded quietly and swiftly used her webbing to produce a simple rose-shaped sculpture which she left on the counter before vanishing into the smoke again.
"That…that was a girl," he said stuttering as the smoke cleared and the cops came in to deal with the incapacitated thugs.
Not far away, on the other side of the laboratory facility both had just recently paid a visit too. Spider-Man was hurriedly pulling accident victims out of a pile up of vehicles on one of several bridges.
A combination of speeding vehicles and a truck driver suffering a mild heart attack had resulted in the problem, and Spidey had only just come around the bend to see the wreck, a bit too late to stop it.
So far, he was having a lucky streak. He'd already delivered the trucker to an ambulance and so far he'd found that everybody had survived the wreck. As he ripped the door off another car and reached in to grab a senseless driver, he noted the arrival of police cars and remembered the headlines on the Bugle today, accusing him of working with the Goblin.
Still, he still had about three more people to get out of the wreck and that was his responsibility. After that, he'd leave it to the experts to clear the wreck.
Norman Osborn tapped his fingers, growling as he ostensibly looked over the statements and reports coming out of his company. There was nothing there, however to interest him. In the background, the evening news was playing, but he was paying hardly any attention on it as he considered his real problem.
At least, until his problem was mentioned by one of the anchors.
"And it seems that Spider-Man is not alone in his deeds," the anchor was stating. "At the same time as Spider-Man was helping rescue efforts involving a multi-car pile up on the Brooklyn Bridge, another webslinging hero…or rather heroine, was bringing an early stop to a potential hostage situation not ten blocks away. This second one, currently being called Spider Rose, is possible the source of the increased activity in our friendly neighborhood wall crawler the past two or three weeks."
Norman let the rest of the report fade out as it descended into what was more or less fluff material.
"Two spiders," he said frowning. "Of course, that would explain things."
A familiar sensation passed over him as he felt the Goblin creeping into dominance.
"You have to treat this carefully Osborn," the Goblin snapped. "This second spider is watching the first's back. But…"
"But?" Norman asked.
"But, who is watching her back, I wonder," the Goblin asked.