Stunned silence in a bar that, for the past few hours, had been filled non-stop with music.

Electro was grinning like the cat that had finally caught and ate the canary. Arms crossed, he leaned against the pool table, back to Spider-Man, looking out at the gathered villains with one hand raised, ring finger extended, a little spark of lightning cackling around the tip. "Let's take requests. I'd like to personally dedicated Stone Temple Pilots' 'Dead and Bloated' to the wall-crawler, a funeral dirge before the funeral."

"Guys," Stilt-Man said, the first to break out of the state of shock that Electro's prize had brought on. "I think that's really Spider-Man."

"Of course it's Spider-Man, Chrome Dome," Electro hissed. "He was hanging out across the street, watching us, when I came along and gave him a good zap. Whatever you guys were doing to distract him, it worked like a charm. So, do we kill him now, or torture him, then kill him?"

Slowly, the chairs were pushed back against the floor. The patrons stood up, sliding out of their booths, moving from their barstools, and gathered around the pool table, where their long-time foe, the bane of their criminal careers, was unconscious next to the karaoke machine. Six, seven rows deep, staring over the tops of heads, looking past shoulders, they saw the blue-and-red wallcrawler, completely and totally at their mercy.

"I never thought this day would come," Hydro-Man spoke. "He's ours. He's really ours."

"I don't know which bone of his to break first," Rhino growled, cracking his knuckles."

"Break bones? I'm gonna filet his skin off," Machete countered, "then you can make soup from his bones, Rhino."

"Hell, I just want to rip that mask off, and finally see what this little bastard looks like." All eyes turned towards the back of the bar, where Herman Schultz, the Shocker, was standing. "This guy has been making fun of us for years. I figure, before we end his career for good, we deserve to know what he's hiding under that mask."

After a few seconds, there were sounds of agreement from the gathered crowd. "Yeah." "Good idea, Herman." "He's probably got a harelip." "I want to see his nose before we break it!"

Herman strode forward, the crowd parting for him as he approached the table. For years, Spider-Man and Shocker had traded shots up and down Manhattan Island and across the Five Boroughs. Here it was, finally, a chance for Herman to finally, for good, get one up on Spider-Man. The last thing this punk would see was the Shocker's quilted suit as he drowned in the Hudson River. "Alright, little boy, let's see what you got," Herman said as he arrived at the pool table. Spider-Man was barely breathing, his chest slowly rising and falling. His uniform was scorched just about his heart, but the rest of his costume was intact. One hand reached out to reach under Spider-Man's chin...

Cold metal grabbed the Shocker's forearm. Herman looked down, to see the chittering metal claws of a tentacle gripping him tightly. "What the..."

"No, Herman."

Behind him, at the edge of the crowd, Doctor Octopus stood. One tentacle reached through the passage Herman had been granted, while other three writhed slightly behind Otto. "That would be foolish, and not the best move at this juncture."

"Huh? Why the hell not, Otto? Here's our chance to put Spider-Man down! For good! No more jokes, quips, and all the tritium you want!"

Doctor Octopus walked forward. As he did so, the tentacle slowly withdrew from Herman's arm, rejoining its brethren behind Otto's back. "If we killed Spider-Man tonight, Herman...the Avengers would never stop. They would never rest. They would hunt each and every costumed villain in the Bar tonight to the very ends of the Earth, and beyond. I don't know about you, but with the potential of men like Captain America and Wolverine hunting with a driven purpose, that's a path I do not wish to walk down."

"No way, Doc!" Electro stepped forward, standing side-by-side with the Shocker. "This webhead has embarrassed nearly everyone in here, not to mention putting several of us behind bars! There's no way we can let him just walk out of here!"

A tentacle snapped just inches from Electro's face, causing the Villain of Voltage to take a step backwards. "I didn't say that, Maxwell. Oh, sure, we could beat him within an inch of his life...but we all have done that before." Now, the Doctor stood beside the pool table, gazing down at Spider-Man with his glasses, and all four tentacles slowly scanning the hero. "We've all pounded this man, and he keeps coming back for more. None of us can beat him in a fight. And dare I say, not even all of us here tonight can beat him in a fair fight. No, Maxwell, and Herman, and everyone else here tonight. Physically, this man can heal and hound us for the rest of days. What I'm interested in, my friends...is something more...long-term."

X

Cold water splashed on the bottom of Spider-Man's face, soaking the bunched up fabric. "Awaken, Spider-Man."

Instinctively, Spider-Man tried to sit up...but something strong was holding down his shoulders. He looked to his left, and immediately recognized the metal tentacle that firmly gripped his shoulder. "Doc Ock. I should have known."

The bespectacled villain leaned over from the edge of the pool-table, upside down in Spider-Man's eyes. "Is that anyway to greet an old friend?"

"No, I normally like to use my hands and feet," Spider-Man quipped in reply. He tried to move his legs, but he felt the strong grip of Doctor Octopus' tentacles on each of his ankles.

"Maybe you'll show more manners and politeness in a few moments, Spider-Man, when I tell you I just saved your life." Doctor Octopus smiled at the wall-crawler with a toothy smirk. "These other patrons, this evening, wanted to end your life in a violent manner. I alone convinced them otherwise that you belong in the land of the living."

"Gee, thanks. Remind me to send you a card." Spider-Man looked up, raising his head to look around him. His long-time nemesis had him pinned to a pool table, a tentacle firmly gripping each of his limbs to hold him in place. To his left, Electro, smiling, calmly tossed a bolt of lightning back and forth between each hand. On his right, the Shocker, arms crossed, mask on, looked down at him, wearing his quilted suit. And at the far end of the table, laughing, Stilt-Man gave the wall crawler a friendly wave.

"Doc Ock, the Shocker, Electro, and Stilt-Man. One of these things is not like the other, Octavius," Spider-Man offered.

"Don't be too sure. It's Stilt-Man that brought about this evening's entertainment, Spider-Man. So I feel he has a stake in these proceedings as we let you choose your fate."

"Let me? What're my options, cake or death?"

"Not quite. See, most everyone here wanted to kill you and dump your body in the river, so there was the death option. On the other hand...I prefer mental scarring Spider-Man. Pain heals over time, bones mend, but the abuse of the mind and psyche, that's something that lingers for a very, very long time." Doctor Octopus chuckled low in his throat. "However, we are nothing but civilized folk, Spider-Man, so we've decided to give you options. Both options will allow you to swing out of here, free and clear, with no ramifications on this night."

"Mental abuse? I'm not signing up for one of your science classes, Doc."

"At least hear our options. Option number one...Wilbur, if you could?"

Grinning, Wilbur lifted one of his suit's massive legs. He easily set it on the edge of the pool table, balancing on the other leg with gyro-assisted ease. Easily the size of a small tree trunk, Stilt-Man turned slightly, taking aim.

"Option one," Doctor Octopus offered. "Stilt-Man here extends his leg, at full power, directly into your groin. Simple, quick, and extremely painful. One shot at both your balls, Spider-Man."

The webcrawler turned his head to look directly at the Doctor. "You're kidding me. That's one of the options? A kick to the groin by Stilt-Man?"

"You've been kicking me in the balls for years, Spidey," Stilt-Man said, the grin on his face slowly turning evil. "I'd love for a chance to directly pay you back."

"Huh. Well, knowing you, Wilbur, you'd probably miss," Spider-Man spat out. "But at the same time, I really ain't in the mood to be known as your friendly neighborhood non-Italian soprano. Alright, Doctor, I'm intrigued. What's option number two?"

The laugh that came from Doctor Octopus was a mix, a mix of evil, delight, mirth, and revelation. "Oh, you'll find, Spider-Man, option two is much, much worse."

X

"I should have taken the kick to the balls," Spider-Man groused.

"Oh, don't be such a spoil sport, young man. Perhaps you'll find out that this is fun." Two of Doctor Octopus tentacles gripped each of Spider-Man's ankles, keeping him firmly standing in one place by the pool table. The other two wavered slightly, snapping at the wall-crawler occasionally. "Why, even Rhino found a bit of fun and joy this evening, belting out a loud and vulgar tune."

"Rhino finds knocking walls over fun, Doc."

"Point taken. But, as a pied piper once told me, the show must go on." Doctor Octopus turned to Asp, and motioned with a hand. "Asp, if you could?"

"Thanks, Doctor!" Asp flashed a smile of sweet poison to Spider-Man as she spoke. "Well, guys, this evening just keeps getting better and better, because now...we have our encore!"

Hoots and hollers greeted Spider-Man, along with a few thrown peanut shells from Boomerang's table. "That's right. Tonight, the man we all love to loathe, the bane of our existence, and the most annoying superhero outside of Speedball...Spider-Man is here to sing for us!"

"Alright!" "Woo!" "Put him in a body bag, Johnny!"

Spider-Man shook his head. He had been in worst situations. He had nearly drowned on several occasions, had been buried under collapsed buildings, been beaten to within an inch of his life too many times to remember, and even went through a phase in his life where he was unsure whether or not he was a clone.

This may have been worse than all of them, save the last one.

Just the pure embarrassment of the situation as the gathered super villains didn't even decide to take a swing at him. No, for once, they put their heads together and came up with something much, much worse. From now on, for the rest of his days, anytime he collided with a person here tonight, they would be reminded of the night that Spider-Man was forced to sing, held in place by the strength of Otto Octavius, for their own personal amusement.

If Wolverine found out, he'd never, ever, ever live this down.

"So what we're going to do right now, everyone, is take some requests. We'll pick the best one out of all the ones thrown out there, and if Spidey here can make it through the song, well, we'll let him go, no strings attached." She turned and winked at the wallcrawler. "Scout's honor, Spider-Man, you can walk out of here, safe and secure in the knowledge that video of you singing will soon be up on YouTube for everyone to see."

"I don't suppose I can just let Hydro-Man kick my ass for five minutes instead, huh," Spider-Man said so the microphone picked up.

"Otto, I'm cool with that offer," Hydro-Man replied from his seat.

"No, he'll just beat you and be off scot free. Trust me, my hydrated friend," Doctor Octopus countered, "I know what I'm doing."

"Damn it," Spider-Man muttered when Hydro-Man nodded in agreement. "I thought he'd take it..."

"Aw...is little baby getting stage fright," Asp teased, before turning to the crowd. "Alright, folks, let's hear them!"

Sitting on his barstool, Aqueduct threw out the first suggestion. "'Lola,' by the Kinks!"

"Nah," Speed Demon replied, "make him do 'Stayin' Alive!'"

"I would like to suggest," the proud voice of Mysterio projected, "a song from the musical 'Annie,' 'Tomorrow!'"

"I like that one," Asp said, "but come on, this is going to end up on the Internet, so let's make it a real good one!"

"Oh, oh, got it. Debbie Boone, 'You Light Up My Life," Boomerang said with a wide grin. "That'll bring down the bloody house!"

"I'm not surprised, somehow, that you guys know who sings all these horrible songs," Spider-Man interjected.

"Tell you what, Spider-Man, I'll give you a choice between country and western," Coachwhip spoke. "Either do 'Coal Miner's Daughter,' or 'I Love This Bar.'"

"There's a difference," Fer-de-Lance asked, scratching her head.

"Come on. If you're gonna embarrass the wall crawler, let's really embarrass him." Electro, unhappy to be denied his chance to finally end Spider-Man for good, stared daggers at the hero. "I know this from that Will Farrell movie, webhead...'Afternoon Delight.'"

"Oh, yeah, that's the one," Machete approved. "Get him to sing it to Titania!"

"Keep that freak away from me," the female super villain countered.

"Hmm..." Asp tapped her chin, pursing her lips as she thought. "I'm leaning that way, Electro! Anyone think they can top it?" A few people mulled it over, but the general consensus was approval, enthusiastic nods punctuating the choice.

"Well, then..." Asp began, before being loudly interrupted.

"No! Wait! I got it!"

All eyes turned towards the man who had started this whole chain of events. Stilt-Man was smiling widely, laughing at himself. "I can't believe we didn't think of it before, guys. It's so damn obvious..." Wilbur looked over at Black Mamba. "You are taping this, right?"

"Oh yeah, baby." Mamba was holding up a small handheld video camera. She had brought it just in case her evening out with her Serpent Society sisters had turned wild, but never did she think it'd turn this wild."

"And you're definitely gonna put it up on the Internet?"

"Damn right, Wilbur," she purred.

"Then, really, there's only ONE song Spider-Man can sing." Wilbur started flipping through the binder rapidly. "This'll bring the damn house down...here it is." Stilt-Man stared up at Spider-Man, standing on the stage. "You're gonna love this one, Spider-Man. I promise."

"Great..." Spider-Man said dejectedly. He had the microphone in his hands. Maybe, it wouldn't be so bad. It was Stilt-Man...what's the worst...

The synthesized drums kicked in, and the hero felt his entire body deflate. "Oh, no...you gotta be kidding me."

"Oh, no, I ain't kidding," a triumphant Stilt-Man proclaimed as the keyboard joined in. "And the whole world's gonna see it."

The rest of the bar, immediately recognizing the song, burst into jeering applause. Black Mamba smiled, stepping next to Stilt-Man and zooming in on the slumping body of the wall crawler. "Perfect, Wilbur," she said. "Great choice."

"Kill me now, Doc," Spider-Man said to Doctor Octopus. "Right between the proverbial eyes. It'll be quicker."

"And spare you this humiliation? I think not. Now, sing, Spider-Man. Like you mean it!"

No choice left in the matter, Spider-Man raised the microphone to his lips...

#We're no strangers to love#

#You know the rules...and so do I#

"No, no, Spider-Man, feel the words!" Doctor Octopus tightened his grip on the ankles of the wall crawler, who yet out an involuntary yelp before continuing.

#A full commitment's what I'm thinking of#

#You wouldn't get this from any other guy#

#I just want to tell you how I'm feeling#

#Gotta make you...understand#

"Yes, yes, just like that!" Mysterio boomed from the back of the bar, clearly enjoying the show as he found his toe tapping along with the catchy tune. Spider-Man clearly lacked enthusiasm, but the circumstances surrounding the song more than made up for it.

#Never gonna give you up#

#Never gonna let you down#

#Never gonna run around and desert you#

#Never gonna make you cry#

#Never gonna say goodbye#

#Never gonna tell a lie, and hurt you#

"This is worse than fighting Leap Frog," Spider-Man told Doctor Octopus.

"Oh, I don't know about you, wall crawler, but I'm having a ball," a grinning Otto Octavius replied. "Now, the second verse, same at the first!"

#We've known each other for so long#

#Your heart's been aching, but you're too shy to say it#

#Inside we both know what's been going on#

#We know the game and we're gonna play it!#

#And if you ask me how I'm feeling#

#Don't tell me you're too blind to see#

#Never gonna give you up#

#Never gonna let you down#

#Never gonna run around and desert you#

#Never gonna make you cry#

#Never gonna say goodbye#

#Never gonna tell a lie, and hurt you#

He had never been happier to wear a mask. Spider-Man saw that the entire bar was laughing at his misfortune. For one brief shining moment, the super villain community had turned the tables on the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. He was the joke...

Now, he knew how they felt when he quipped and made fun of them. That was perhaps the sharpest dagger of all.

#Oooh...give you up#

#Oooh...give you up#

#Oooh...never gonna give, never gonna give...#

#Give you up#

#Oooh...never gonna give, never gonna give...#

#Give you up#

"This is probably the best night of my life," Stilt-Man told the video-taping Black Mamba. "Watching Spider-Man humiliated in front of me, and knowing he can't do anything about it...it almost makes all the past pain worth it, Mamba."

"I know. And it's all because of you, Wilbur." Mamba smiled through the viewport of the camera. "I told you bringing the machine would be a good idea."

"Yeah..." He took a pull of his beer as Spider-Man sang, trying to find his courage. "You wanna...some night...eh, maybe find a karaoke place, just the two of us, and try our hand at it without the other criminals and cutthroats around?"

After a few nervous seconds, Wilbur felt relieved when Mamba replied. "I'll think about it. Call me next week..."

#We've known each other for so long#

#Your heart's been aching, but you're too shy to say it#

#Inside we both know what's been going on#

#We know the game and we're gonna play it!#

#And if you ask me how I'm feeling#

#Don't tell me you're too blind to see#

#Never gonna give you up#

#Never gonna let you down#

#Never gonna run around and desert you#

#Never gonna make you cry#

#Never gonna say goodbye#

#Never gonna tell a lie, and hurt you#

The song came to a merciful end. Spider-Man lowered the microphone, relieved that Rick Astley had left the building. Applause was sent his way, sarcastic, jeering, and full of scorn. The only thing he could do was respond with a mocking bow, packing as much sarcasm into the motion as he could.

"Huh...well, folks, he did it. So yeah, good for you, Spider-Man!" Asp reached out, and actually patted the wall crawler on the shoulder. "You need to work on your pitch, though."

"Gee, thanks," he replied.

Suddenly, the pressure on his ankles lessened. The tentacles grafted to the spine of Doctor Octopus pulled back to their normal position behind his back. The scientist nodded at the hero. "Thank you, Spider-Man. I can't wait to see your shining face on the Internet in the next few hours."

"Can't be any worse then what the Bugle puts up," Spider-Man retorted. He looked around the bar. Now that the embarrassment was done, he was expecting the fight. That's how it worked. You humiliated the hero, tied them up, chained them, and then when they escaped, you cued the brawl. He clenched his fist, glancing over at the Rhino. He'd be the toughest opponent in a bar fight, in which case, he'd have to go down first...

"Well? Unless you want to buy the next round, Spider-Man, you're free to go." With a gentle gesture and a small smirk, Otto motioned towards the wide open front door. "I recommend you quickly beat feet, before some of us think better of the situation."

Spider-Man regarded Doctor Octopus with a wary look. "Seriously? No tricks, no treats, just a pat on my shoulder and sent on my way?"

"Would I lie to you, Spider-Man?"

"Frequently." But he was already slowly heading towards the door. His head was on a swivel, glancing at the villains surrounding him. They all glared back at him, eyes hooded, but not one of them made a move. Mysterio's shoulders followed him as he walked. Shocker gazed at him over the rim of his beer. Titania kept her back to the wall in the corner. And, near the entrance, staring with the harshest look of all, Electro, arms crossed, was putting as many daggers at possible into his stare, as if he could will stab wounds all over Spider-Man.

"You know," Electro said as Spider-Man passed him, "the second you step foot outside...hell, the second you touch outside air...Ock's little plan doesn't hold anymore, and I'm gonna light you up like Times Square, webhead."

"See, Max, that's always been your problem. You always telegraphed your plans."

Spider-Man spun in place, both wrists out. Two strands of webbing shot from his gloves, streaking across the bar. One strand shot into the side of Stilt-Man's karaoke machine. The other covered the lens of Black Mamba's video camera. Before anyone could react, Spider-Man pulled the webbing back. Both the nimble camera and the bulky box flew into Spider-Man's hands just as the first villains were standing up from their chairs.

But Spider-Man was the one with incredible reflexes. Electro was bringing his hands up, electricity already arcing between his hands, when the karaoke machine smashed into the side of his head. Plastic and computer chips exploded from the case at the impact, and the Villain of Voltage slumped against the wall, eyes glazing over, blood beginning to flow from the side of his green-and-yellow mask. "Here's a telegram from me to you, Electro...full stop!"

"Geet heem!" The battle cry came from Batroc the Leaper, shooting up from his bottle of wine at the bar, springing to the space where the wall crawler was standing only an instance previous. Spider-Man sprung into the night air, gliding through the door with the greatest of ease. Behind him, he could make out a multitude of chairs scraping across the floor, and the general cacophony of a few dozen voices roaring out in anger.

He had barely touched down on the street before leaping back into the air, assisted by his webbing. Spider-Man swung up into the air, landing on the third story of an abandoned building. Landing safely, he looked down at the video camera clutched in his hands. "Put me on YouTube. If Jameson found out, it'd be plas..."

His spider-sense saved him, as he leapt away from the incoming blast. A strong vibration of air smashed the brick and wood next to where he had initially landed. Through the dust and splinters, Spider-Man could make out the Shocker, standing in the middle of the run-down street. The criminal had both of his gauntlets pointing towards the building. "You're dead, Spider-Man!"

"No! I got him!" Spider-Man's reflexes barely let him duck under the oncoming particle beam. The energy obliterated the fireplace on the other side of the room. Stilt-Man, three stories above the ground, took aim at the hero with his gun. "Yyou ruin everything, you damnable wall crawler!"

"When you're around, Wilbur, that ain't too far to go." He spun away from another energy blast, and chuckled at Stilt-Man's curse. Shooting a web, Spider-Man pulled himself out into the balcony, coming out on the left side of Stilt-Man. The villain was still peering into the first window, looking for the hero. "Hey, Stilty!" Spider-Man raised up the video camera, shining it directly into the helmet of the villain. "Smile for the camera! I'll make sure you failing to catch me makes it to the Internet!"

This time, his spider sense alerted him to two incoming projectiles. He crouched, letting the two metal claws shoot through where his head had been, pinning themselves into the wall. Below him, the other two tentacles of Doctor Octopus helped pull him up the side of the building. "You ruined a perfectly good evening, Spider-Man. I'm going to ruin yours by putting you in the hospital!"

"No thanks, I got a hot date with a real tiger." Spider-Man sprung away, leaping into mid-air above the villain. He shot a web down the street, and pulled himself away from the scene of the attacks. Landing on the roof of an apartment building, he turned to look over his shoulder, laughing slightly...

The smile faded as he saw the street fill up below him. The patrons of the Bar With No Name had spilled out into the road, and they were all calling for his head, lead at the front by the Rhino and Boomerang. The Australian pointed up at the roof of the building where Spider-Man looked down. "Up there! Get him!"

"Jeez, you crash one party..." Spider-Man, tucking the video camera with his performance and several seconds of Stilt-Man footage, quickly swung away, heading towards Midtown, away from the howling mob.

On the street, Doctor Octopus flashed an evil grin over in the Shocker's direction. "I suppose you were right, Herman. This evening has ended in a potential brawl."

"Yeah, Otto," Herman snarked. "Could end up being the best Friday of my life."

THE END