Mary-Jane goes to Hell
Summary: I admit it. It's a stinking fix-fic. I just couldn't take One More Day any more. I had it in my head, and it had to come out.
Of course, being me, that means it comes out… like this.
So, if you aren't familiar with One More Day: Spider-man made a deal with Mephisto, the devil, which undid his marriage with MJ in order to save Aunt May's life. That's all you need to know for this…
It was just another stupid audition for a recurring role. Something she wanted. Something she needed. Something that could keep her in business a while.
That's why she was running. That was the only reason. It was a stupid reason. She was getting older, and she was going to lose the part to somebody younger. She was getting more interesting roles now, including some theater stuff that actually made her work and stretch the acting muscles she'd been leaving dormant while playing babe roles. Theater stuff with real characters.
But she wasn't getting the high-paying jobs anymore, and it hurt a little bit. She knew this world was shallow, that it wasn't all she was good for, but she had enjoyed the way it played to her ego.
And that was why she was running, trying to cross the road.
She doubted the cab driver had even seen her.
There was a moment of clarity before the pain, the crying, the feeling that she'd crapped herself, the feeling that everything was wrong and she was all twisted around.
Afterwards it all faded to numbness, and she found herself there on the sidewalk, staring vaguely at the red-headed body in front of her. That red hair, so fluffy, so unnaturally full-bodied. It cost her an hour of time every morning to make her hair like that.
But they loved it. Execs and TV people and theater people.
And it didn't seem to matter, suddenly. She touched that bouffant, flowing, luxuriant hair with a hand that couldn't truly feel any more, and she knew that she was dead. Completely dead.
Don't cross go. Don't collect the handsome husband and children she always assumed was lurking somewhere in the future.
It made her laugh and sob all at once when Death arrived. A small fellow in dark clothing, smiling gently at her with a face that couldn't possibly smile, as it had no skin.
"Are you ready?" he asked.
She stood up. It was a New York sidewalk, which meant it was filthy and dirty and crowded. The EMTs were covering her body, moving on to try to help the driver of the car, who she suddenly didn't care what happened to.
She knew she ought to be mad. She knew it was all wrong.
"Are you ready?" he asked again, his voice ghostly.
She tried not to freak out. All her life she had tried to stay strong, tried to be ready for things you weren't supposed to be able to be ready for. Now she was dead, not even halfway through her life expectancy. Dead.
"Won't get any more ready with time," she said, resigned.
The figure nodded once, and then they were in hell.
As hell went, this wasn't so bad. In fact, it was outright a parody of hell. Like something from bad TV. There were flames, but they were in the backdrop, with red walls behind them to emphasize it. Twisting shadows.
But she was on a solid, smooth, featureless red floor, and felt no heat from those flames.
The devil was standing there, smirking slightly. "Mary-Jane Watson," he drawled. Her name didn't sound right in his mouth. As if he had left the end trailing intentionally.
"Well, hello," he said, his voice very smooth. "Go ahead and get settled in; you'll have an eternity of suffering here."
Then he was gone, and she was alone, and she was frozen still in one place.
She was in hell!
Why? She hadn't been a bad person… were the fanatics right, did everybody go to hell if they didn't get religion? This was a bad time to figure that out. Very bad.
Although so far there was no torture. Maybe this was hell-lite, for those who had been okay but hadn't got religion. She was alone, though. Was that supposed to be some kind of punishment? What was going on?
Then a door opened, very far away, and a young man began stalking towards her, out of the shadows. He was dressed in tattered rags, a chainmail vest, and carried a sword. He was young, handsome, and had a grim look on his face.
"Mary-Jane?" he asked hesitantly.
"Do I know you?" she asked, completely off balance.
He shook his head. "We've never met, but I heard you were dead, and… well, there's less pleasant sorts than me watching, and you're sort of, um, famous, around here. Listen, I know you don't know me, but we need to get out of here, right now."
A denizen of hell was asking her to trust him. She didn't know whether to laugh or scream.
Of course, she'd seen all these movies. If she went blithely with him, he'd be a monster. He'd cut her head off with that weapon, or worse.
But if she ran away, he'd be the good guy, and she'd run right into the real monsters.
"Say something heroic," she said.
He smiled wanly. "I'm not from around here."
That was close enough. Not from around here meant not from hell, meant he might be something better.
Or something from the real hell.
Dammit! Now was not the time to let her knowledge of the genre paralyze her. She knew what happened to the character too genre-savvy to do anything dumb. They died anyway, when they could have gotten out of it!
"I'll go with you," she said cautiously. "Do you have a weapon I can have?"
He chuckled, waving an arm back at the doorway he'd come through. "You couldn't use any of these weapons without a little training in Spirit-war, but I have some good weapons that might just be more your speed. Follow me, and we'll get back as quick as we can."
He led her into a place that was more like a real hell than the world she'd just been in. Here the landscape had been blasted, destroyed. The ground itself was twisted, as if some kind of bomb had skewed everything to the left.
There was no sunshine, only ominous clouds overhead.
She shivered, hugging herself. "Where are we?" It was cold here, and damp. The clothes she had been wearing when she died were for a mild, sunny day in New York, and the cold soaked right through her.
"This used to be a part of Limbo, till they went to war." He was holding his sword at the ready as he led her across the landscape. He glanced back at her. "Say, would you like something more to wear? I'm afraid it only gets rougher from here."
"Please," she said, wondering what he could possibly give her.
He stopped and one-handedly undid a twisted cloth tied around his waist, tossing it to her. She shook it out, revealing it to be a smock with three holes for her head and arms. She pulled it on over her head.
It was grey, and ragged, but warm. He continued walking carefully over the twisted landscape, and she followed.
"So, how did you know my name?" she asked.
"Well, ever since I died I've been, uh, in a Better Place. And I always wanted to meet you."
"You, uh, you did?"
"Yes. You were very important to somebody important to me, even though I died long before that."
"Oh. So you were, uh, watching me. From, uh, heaven."
"Basically," he said. He glanced back at her. "Listen, I know this is all a bit hard to take in. Most of us have a lot of trouble adjusting to death. One of those big changing points in your, uh, existence."
She was trying, but this was all so very odd. "Why are we running?" she asked bluntly. "Who are you afraid of?"
He fidgeted. "There are some very bad people that were also following your story. People who were…. Who were enemies. Who in life would have killed you if they'd known… but they didn't, they couldn't."
She didn't like where this was going. "I don't have any enemies—I mean, there are people who don't like me, but who…?"
The air in front of them shimmered, and her guide jumped back. "Down!" he snarled. "They're `porting in!"
The men who appeared couldn't have been more different. One was skinny and bald, wrinkled and diseased. He was scowling.
The other was huge, a lion of a man with black hair and a beard.
"Kraven!" spat the guide, holding the sword up.
"Easy, old man," said the little bald man, holding his hands up. "We're here as friends."
"Kraven?" demanded the old man. "He's a villain through and through."
"Perhaps," said the big man. "But a man of honor, to the end. You're no denizen of hell, Parker. You've already run her right by the dens of the hellbeasts, where they can get her scent. They'll be on you soon if you don't accept our help."
"Come on," said the little bald man. "We owe it to him. We owe him so much… you know how much we owe him. Let us try to pay back just a little bit…"
Her guide, Parker, hesitated. "All right," he said finally. "Just till we get out of this place."
"Then let's GO!" snarled the big man, looking around and sniffing. "They're already on their way!"
The thing that bounded up over the landscape looked like it belonged in a monster movie. Only it was moving too fast, too determinedly, and it had too many teeth. It snarled and closed quickly, heading right at them, and MJ didn't want to scream. She didn't want to be the damsel in distress.
But she had no weapon, and she'd never seen it before, and when it ran into her she lost track of the ground and the whole world spun away and she couldn't HELP screaming like a stupid side-kick girl who just exists so the men in her life can save her.
Ugh. Living the cliché.
When she found her feet again Parker had stabbed the thing, and Kraven was eating its heart. She tried to hold down the sudden nausea.
The bald man was beside her, grinning. Only his grin split his whole skull, showing pointy needle-like teeth and a long, slavering tongue. She flinched back from him.
"I've only been dead and damned for a short time," he assured her. "Kraven has been dead a long time, and is already feared throughout hell. He wouldn't have come to help, but I talked him into it. I can be persuasive, these days. Come, let's go, fast as we can. Where there's one hound, there'll be more."
She shuddered, but followed him. Parker was right on her heels, and they left the big beast behind, with Kraven tearing into it.
"He's becoming as bad as any demon," said Parker, disgusted.
"You heaven-bound souls don't get it," snapped the bald man. "That's how you survive down here, how you avoid becoming a victim. Even middle-of-the-road people like me—I can't ever let on that I died doing good, or else these people will tear me up. Here? I have to let the darkness out. All of it. Even the parts I fought so hard! Bah."
His ramblings were scaring her. "Thank you for helping me," she said quietly, hoping that the subtle subject change would balance him.
He glanced over his shoulder, grinning at her. "It's not for you, or for any reason you'd understand. It's just that, there was a moment, right before I died… just a moment… when that idiot Spider did me a favor. And I have to repay it."
That was nonsensical. She couldn't understand it at all.
Kraven came loping after them. "We have trouble," he said shortly. "The bad one is loose, and he's… even I can't handle this one."
"Run!" snarled the bald man. "Run fast, run hard!"
She saw it as a reddish blur on the horizon. Kraven grabbed her, tossing her to the bald man. "Teleport now!" he yelped as the red creature jumped on him.
It looked like the hero Spider-man, but some nightmarish form of him. His skin seemed to melt and flow into weapons, and he tore the big man to bits in a second, howling with laughter.
Then the world around them shimmered and was gone.
Now they were in some nightmare city, and Parker swore quietly, jumping away from the bald man. "Now we're further than ever from anywhere I can get her to safety!" he snapped.
"Well, my range is limited," gasped the bald man, falling to his knees. "Damn, Parker! Damn! That was Cletus… Carnage! We can't… I can't… did you see what he did to Kraven? Kraven was the strongest one I could find who didn't want her dead! You don't have a lot of allies in hell, Parker…."
"I know," said her guide coldly, raising the sword. "And I asked you before; why are you helping?"
The bald man's head wavered slightly, and half of it seemed to melt away, an illusion vanishing. "Because I owed him!" snarled the demon. "I owed him, and you know it! Because even when I hated him, when I was building death-traps for him, he still tried to help me… because it's part of my stupid job, restoring balance! Because I work for higher powers now! I'm done helping, though, if Kasady is involved. I won't face him."
Parker sighed. "Then teleport out of here, and make several stops in hell on your way. He'll try following your teleport trail, and that should lead him away from us, if we're lucky. And… thank you, Beck."
The bald man with half a head snarled, then left.
MJ shivered, but this time not from cold. Now they were in some kind of ruined city, and she wasn't sure what would happen now. "What were they talking about, Parker?"
"In general? Bad things. Follow me."
He set out at a run, and she followed him.
This was ridiculous. She needed weapons, and a better idea who these madmen were. They were obviously in some kind of war, and they kept referring to somebody else. "Who were they talking about?" she yelled. No reply. "Parker!" she shouted, getting even more frustrated.
He slowed down, giving her a slightly amused look. "You can call me Ben, kid," he replied. "There'll be time for answers later, but right now we have to get you OUT of hell."