A/N: I have no malicious feelings towards the men and women of the New York Police Department. They are all exceptional individuals, and have done this country a tremendous service within the past decade.

*Updated version*

Disclaimer: All characters/names belong to Stan Lee and Marvel Comics.

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Feral

Chapter 1: Cat and Mouse

New York City at night—impressive by anyone's standards. The setting of the sun marked the end of a long day and the beginning of a hard night's work for many, including the city's hero. Peter Parker was resting on the side of a particularly tall skyscraper, observing the after hours' lights display that was the trademark for Manhattan nightlife. The city that never sleeps, indeed he thought ruefully. That, of course, meant that he couldn't sleep either. The sounds of blaring automobile horns and the smells of ethnic restaurants, slightly tainted by methane emissions, drifted through the air to meet the Spider-man's nostrils.

His current circumstances provided him with the opportunity to lose himself in thought. One idea in particular was drilling a tattoo in his skull: He should have been on a date. He had been lax in the romance department as of late. When was the last time he had even been out for coffee with a woman? As soon as the number of weeks grew too large for him to count on his fingers, he gave up trying to remember his most recent female encounter. He hated to admit it, but Peter Parker wasn't exactly a lady-killer, and freelance photography was hardly an occupation with much of a future. At that, another thought struck him: he had forgotten his camera. There goes the paycheck. Well, he would be visiting the Bugle's cafeteria for his lunch tomorrow—again. That would make it the third time this week!

He placed his elbows on his thighs and buried his face in his hands, thankful that his lofty perch afforded him the luxury of privacy. It was going to be another one of those nights. As he contemplated exactly where his life fell on the pathetic scale, a familiar tingle at the back of his skull shook him out of his malaise. His spider-sense—danger. Perhaps tonight wouldn't be so bad after all.


Felicia Hardy cursed as she recognized the tell-tale signs of a silent alarm that she had just tripped. Specifically, the ones that sealed off all of the ground-floor exits—doors and windows—and secured every valuable piece of merchandise within its display case beneath reinforced glass. With a series of metallic clangs and pneumatic hisses, the building was securely locked-down. Tower Top Jewelers—the high-end jewelry store—was located atop a high-end business conglomerate in a high-end district of the city. She should have expected that the security system would be, well, high-end. She sighed deeply. At least her sloppiness could still serve some beneficial purposes. Namely, the opportunity to try out some of the new Muay Thai moves that she had been practicing. Although her mastery of martial arts would be primarily wasted on any officer that the NYPD could supply. She was always amazed by the level of ineptitude that they perpetually demonstrated. She secretly hoped that Spider-man would make an appearance.

Spider-man—her pulse raced at just the mere thought of him. Now, there was a worthy adversary. He was the only opponent she had faced as the Black Cat that had bested her in combat on multiple occasions. She was unashamed of this however, because she recalled once observing him in a fight. Although he had been faced with multiple opponents, his strikes were flawlessly timed and delivered with pinpoint accuracy. His speed and dexterity were unparalleled, and his anticipation was uncanny. She remembered reading something about an insect's early warning system. She dismissed the thought. A sixth sense? Ridiculous. But he did win an awful lot of hand-to-hand combat matches. A fly landed on a display case to her left. She was careful to approach it from behind, but when slammed her palm down, she saw the insect fly away—unharmed. Maybe not so ridiculous after all. She would have to find a way around his little defense mechanism if they were to face each other tonight. Her mind returned to her precarious position and she slunk deeper into the shadows. Patiently biding her time and hoping for the arrival of the masked vigilante.


The wailing of police sirens was the first indicator that he was on the right track. The second indicator came after he recognized the building that the squad cars were racing towards—a ritzy jewelry outlet. The gold neon sign above the shop's main entrance read: "Tower Top Jewelers". How original, Peter thought, but petty criminals were great for one thing: providing distractions. And Peter was grateful for anything that would take his mind off of the absence of a personal love-life. He quickly surveyed the doors and windows that lead to the interior of the shop. They all appeared to be blocked by some thick, durable, probably expensive, metal alloy. His only entry point was from a skylight on the roof of the building. He released the single strand of webbing that he had been clinging to and temporarily engaged in a freefall. The instant his feet touched the industrial surface of the roof he tucked his legs into his chest and rolled forward, alleviating the sting of his rapid descent. Transitioning from his summersault roll directly onto his feet, Spider-man cautiously approached the skylight windows. The panes of glass were arranged in a large, hexagonal shape and were joined together so that they formed a triangular peak. The latch that sealed the glass was guarded by some sort of complicated locking mechanism and Peter briefly entertained the idea of tinkering with the device, but remembering that time was of the essence, he rejected the notion. Since the silent alarm had already been tripped, he would opt for a more direct approach.


Felicia had been mulling over her plan for the entrance of Spider-man when her extra-sensitive ears picked up on a barely perceptible sound. Her eyes and head snapped in the direction that the noise had originated from. Up. Someone was on the roof. Someone—she guessed—wearing red and blue tights. A wicked smile crept onto her face.

"Well, it's abou—"her ruminations were cut short by the sound of shattering glass. She recognized a human form falling within the fragmented shards and debris, and she circled around in the darkness to gain a better vantage point.

Peter landed deftly, in a crouch, with the fingertips on his right hand splayed out on the ground in front of him. The movement served a two-fold purpose. It assisted in maintaining his balance, as well as lowering his center of gravity in case of a quick attack from the would-be burglar. Peter's eyes scoured every inch of the showroom, and, after taking stock of the situation, he realized that he was in no immediate danger. He slowly rose to his feet, adrenalin heightening his already superhuman senses.

Felicia's breath caught in her throat as she observed her favorite sparring partner. The damaged skylight had filtered a dagger of moonlight into the building that illuminated the floor. As Spider-man stood, he was bathed in an ethereal glow that silhouetted the fine contours of his body against the velvet blackness that surrounded him. In her mind, the picturesque scene only served to emphasize the mystery that shrouded the Spider-man persona. She silently wondered, not for the first time, just who was behind the mask. Would she recognize him? Had she passed him on the street, or in a coffee shop? Was he handsome? She shook her head. It was such a frivolous thing to worry about, but she couldn't help herself. She may have been an infamous cat bugler, a notorious criminal, but, dammit, she was a woman first, and she had not been this excited about a man in her life for quite some time. Lost in her reverie, Felicia failed to take note of her surroundings, as she was caught staring. She was abruptly thrust back into reality when her shin collided with a rather nasty corner on one of the display cases, and, as she toppled, she nearly face-planted into another case. Quickly regaining her balance, she rubbed her lower leg as it throbbed in pain. Once again casting her glance upwards, she immediately noticed that Spider-man was no longer stationed in the middle of floor. Quietly berating the display case, and herself, for the misstep, Felicia continued to maneuver stealthily around the room, wary for any more protruding corners, and the, now invisible, Spider-man.


Plenty more Black Cat/Spidey goodness to come...