Hey guys! Did I take long with this? Maybe I did and I half-heartedly apologize. We cool? Great! Now let's get on with this. If you will observe closely, there appears to be nothing up my sleeve, but watch…
Chapter three-Taking Action
"Oh dear. Peter…that's…despicable. Are you alright?"
Peter wore a thin bitter smile when he heard Reed Richard's words of comfort. Getting consoled by the world famous—possibly, universally famous—leader of the "Future Foundation" was something that some people could only imagine experiencing. Not surprisingly, most people expected that Reed would not be a good processor of emotions but far from it. He had a family who was constantly fighting alongside him and that was probably what had helped him keep in touch with his feelings all this while without him becoming a soulless robot that relied on logic. Oh, and Sue. Sue definitely had something to do with the fact that Reed hadn't flipped his lid. Beautiful women were known to keep geeks that they were in love with relatively grounded.
Turning to face a clearly concerned Reed, an unmasked Peter tried to appear as though he was at ease. "I'm doing fine, Reed. I just wanted you to help me with a paternity—seriously, Sue…you're kind of freakin me out. You've been like that for minutes" he observed, referring to the fact Susan had stood with her hands covering her mouth since Peter had told them what Kraven had done to him. Finally, partly from Peter talking her out of her funk, she swept forward and enveloped him in a tight hug. "Uhh…thanks, Sue" Peter let out, returning her embrace.
Moments later, she let go of him but still kept her hands at his sides. "If you ever need to talk about this Peter, I'm right here" she offered solemnly, knowing how someone like Peter would really feel about the whole situation. He was the Amazing Spider-Man; the hero known for being driven by guilt, and this is just going to make it worse, Sue thought. She knew that Peter would really feel as if he had failed his daughter, even though it wasn't his fault.
"Uh…you were asking me about something, son. What is it?" Reed knew that if he didn't ask Peter about what he wanted, the gloomy atmosphere would threaten to swallow them all. Better to get the ball rolling then give allowance for sulking. "Oh yeah, Reed, I wanted to do a paternity test…to see if Kraven's story is true"
Sue's brow furrowed at the statement. "You don't believe it's true?" she asked.
"No, I don't have doubts. I just want to do this to make it official" Peter explained. "I already know it's gonna be positive; I would just like some proof of that"
Reed quietly nodded in understanding. "Come with me, Peter" he said, turning to walk down a hall. Turning back to smile and mouth a thank you to a Sue who responded with a smile of her own, Peter followed the Future Foundation leader into a lab that when compared to others in the building, was actually a bit small. Without being asked, Peter dug into a web pouch that he had made, which held the hilts of Ana's twin blades. That fateful night of surprise revelations had been a whirlwind of emotions for Peter but he luckily was able to start thinking logically before he left the zoo, leading him to take Ana's discarded knives. At the time, he knew that it was his best bet of confirming that she was really his daughter. Giving them now to Reed, he hoped that the DNA on them would be all that was needed. "Thanks for doing this for me, Reed" Peter said, expressing his gratitude as the older man nodded in affirmation. "My pleasure, Peter. You're family to us…you know that we'll help in any way we can."
"Believe me, I really appreciate it." Peter knew that the FF would offer their assistance on the matter, but he was not planning to plunge them inside the issue just yet. Watching as Reed scanned the blade hilts for DNA, he was partly shocked to see a model of his own genetic material appear on one half of a screen in front of them. It simply registered in his brain as further proof that these people were very dear and close to him. So close that they even knew about and had a sample of his genetic make-up. People don't get more trusting of each other than that, he thought.
By now, the silence was becoming a bit awkward even for them and they both waited for the other to rid the room of the uncomfortable atmosphere with small talk or something. Eventually, Peter decided to speak up but it wasn't chit-chat that was on his mind at all. "…How do you deal with your kids, Reed? Cuz I'm telling you, I could cope with a normal teenager who just needs guidance and all, but it's a whole different ball game when your kid is somehow part of this screwed up life that we live." His confessional inquiry piqued Reed's interest, who realized at that moment, that even he didn't know how he had been such a good Dad to two kids who were more than he could handle in theory. "…Ummm…Sue helps, I guess. More than even she would admit"
"I…I can't let her down again, Reed. I…I know that…that I have to fix this but I wouldn't even know where to start"
Reed opened his mouth to say something but decided against it, opting to go with a simple piece of advice. "Just do right by her, son. Show her what she needs right now–a father's love"
Briefly considering what the elderly scientist had said, Peter chuckled. "Who would think that the super genius, Reed Richards, was also deep?"
"I'd prefer if you didn't spread that information. I do have a reputation in the scientific community to uphold seeing as how they frown on displays of emotion" Reed joked, feeling that he could at least help cheer the wall crawling hero up by engaging him in his trademark witty banter. "Wow" Peter remarked. "Now that you've made a joke, the universe will obviously have to balance such a huge action out with another one, like earth getting invaded by aliens or something"
Before Reed could even reply, a large screen showing and comparing the two DNA helices, suddenly displayed the result on the screen –a huge green lettered "POSITIVE" that did away with the last of the doubt in Peter's mind. Giving way once again to the recently foregone somber mood, the room was plunged into more silence, and just like before, Peter was the first to break it. "Well, I guess there's no turning back now, huh?" Reflective of the mood, Reed solemnly shook his head. "I guess not, Peter. I guess not"
Ana Kraven had no idea why the old man who took her in committed himself to a fruitless endeavor such as begging. It seemed to not be working as well as he thought that it did. "Go ahead then; don't give money to a guy who's risked his hide for this flamin city more times than you can count!" Vern yelled to some unsympathetic passers-by who had completely ignored him as they walked past. Ana briefly considered making them pay attention but the zeal in her to act over any situation had since waned, all because of a secret, a stupid secret that had ruined her life. Sitting up against a wall behind Vern, who up until that moment had been pleading with the seemingly indifferent teeming masses non-stop for the past four hours, Ana privately mused about how differently she would've treated someone like her homeless friend. Probably even much worse than what others would conceive in their minds to do. Even now, she secretly struggled with her hunter instincts that told her to kill indiscriminately, to not spare anyone who was potential prey. Kraven had taught her that such people were weak, meant for nothing more than oppression by those who were strong and so, killing them meant nothing. It was all she had previously believed about the so called "weaklings", but if he had found it in himself to lie about who she really was, then she didn't find it possible to trust him about anything. She was no hunter, despite it being the only skill she possessed in life. She was a spyder. A spyder that was kidnapped from its home, and raised as something that it was not. Her wandering mind then rested on a topic that was still a bit delicate to her in her confused state: her real father.
Spider-Man was her father. The man whom she had tried to kill over and over, in a quest to quench a never-dying hatred against him fanned by her family, was in actuality, her father. It terrified her to no end, the very fact itself because it signified that nothing was certain anymore. She attempted to imagine what kind of life she might've led if she wasn't stolen from her real family, but had no idea what a life like that entailed. The harsh, cold world of predators and prey was all she knew.
She had no idea what to feel towards Spider-Man now. Her hatred of him was admittedly a driving force in her life, and it had given her purpose. But even without discovering what the new intent that she had toward him was, she knew one thing: she did not want to face him just yet. It would be too soon, and she knew she would be at a loss concerning what she wanted to say to him.
"Blasted city! Can't even spare some change for an old timer such as myself. They oughta be ashamed!" Vern cried out, taking a seat beside the silent Ana.
"They do not care" she stated matter-of-factly, in a half hearted effort to make him understand. But Vern wouldn't hear any of it.
"It's unbelievable! While S.H.I.E.L.D pulls the wool over their eyes, and I'm here fightin for em, this's how they repay me?" he asked bitterly, apparently genuinely surprised that he hadn't elicited more of an action from the citizens of New York. "How much did you get?" she asked him with a slight smile on her lips, as she had clearly begun to comically appreciate the fact that Vern was perpetually stuck in tantrum mode.
"Just a couple dollars, can you imagine? It's unbelievable" he answered, showing her his hatful of change.
"There are probably better ways of getting money from them, ways that are faster and more…" Trailing off from what she was going to say, Ana suddenly became lost in focused concentration. Something was happening. Something nearby…that involved Kraven.
"Girlie, what is it? You were saying something and you just stopped"
She inadvertently ignored him even as her whole body seemed to tingle with an inexplicable anticipation. It was the sensation that she had always felt whenever she and Kraven used his dark magicks to teleport. He was definitely not her father but that did not mean that there wasn't a bond still between them. Or maybe it was just ties to the magic itself; maybe she would forever be attuned to it. But the one thing she did know for certain was that Kraven had come back to the city. She silently hoped that her forced return with him was not his reason for doing so.
Vern meanwhile, had started to get worried. "Ana…you okay?" he asked with genuine concern.
Snapping out of her trance as soon as he asked the question, she quickly darted her gaze back to him. "…Yes…I am. My father is back" she simply said. Vern's eyes grew wider at her statement. "You mean…the one who lied to you?"
"Yes" she told him. What she did not expect from her telling him, was him getting aggravated so easily over it. "Why, that lying, unashamed, good-for-nuthin…where is he?" Calming him down as he looked about in vain for the Kravinoff patriarch, Ana's right hand reached out to his cheek and brought him to face her. "It is okay, old man. I…I thank you for your kindness. And I hope we meet again" As soon as her sentenced had finished, Ana stood and began to dart away at a speed that shocked even Vern. "Wait! Where u goin?" he yelled, unconsciously standing to his feet as his questions fell on deaf ears. Before he knew what was happening, she was gone and he didn't know that Ana's reason for running had something to do with the fact that she knew where father was going to be. He was going to confront the Spyder.
Peter Parker had learned a lot of things through experience that a normal person would not be able to. For example, he knew that super-villains were usually very poor at banter; a lot of super-heroes suffered from various insecurities; and most importantly, getting McFly-ed by someone with adamantium on their bones made it hurt a great deal.
He and the Avengers had just finished dealing with a rogue splinter group from the Annihilation Wave that had been hiding in the depths of the Negative Zone universe. While the really big brains, namely Noh-Varr and Tony, had tried to close the tear in the dimensional wall that the assaulters had come through, the rest of them had been fighting and subduing the weird looking bug creatures. Spidey had briefly considered helping the science guys close the rift, but felt that his abilities would be better suited in the instance that he had found himself in, which happened to entail him protecting civilians from getting killed by murderous humanoid insects.
Twenty minutes of battle later and the dust had settled on the super hero scuffle that just transpired. Having managed to send the entire throng back into the Negative Zone with minimal civilian and property casualties, Spider-Man thought the Avengers had just scored a home run, which led to even more surprise when Wolverine came by and greeted him with a slight knock. "What the hell, Logan? I've told you, that hurts!" Peter complained, observing as the stocky mutant folded his arms and prepared to deliver a lecture of some sort. "Alright, you better spill, Webs. Your head was clearly not in the game today. What is it?"
"Seriously? You noticed that I was slightly off my game?" Peter asked, with some measure of amazement. "Hey, before the big leagues, we were on the same Avengers team for quite some time" Logan reminded him, referencing their time on the New Avengers. "So I've seen you in action…and I've seen you in action. I know there's a difference. What's botherin' ya, kid?"
Peter sighed before looking away, not wanting to get into the issue all over again with someone else. At the moment, Hawkeye and Spider-Woman were talking to the police and Tony and Noh-Varr were using their equipment and making sure that the problem was really solved. The Red Hulk was standing near Clint and Jessica, which was who Wolverine had been standing with before coming to talk to Spider-Man. Logan continued to stare expectantly at the arachnid styled crime fighter, who buried his head in one of his hands and exhaled sharply. "It's just…it's some stuff, Logan. It's pretty big, but…I can handle it"
"Big enough for me to want to talk about this some other time. See ya around, Logan" Peter told him, quickly turning and walking away. Thankful that the Avengers had merely assembled for this one thing and that there was no further reason for him to stick around, Peter leapt into the air and onto a street light that he jumped off of to begin his web swinging. He hated the fact that he had just refused Logan's offer to talk, knowing it was possible that he could help. "Guy gives me a chance to use him as a listening ear, and I rudely decline. It's like we're switching personalities" he mused, picking up the pace as he swung even faster. After the visit that he made to the FF headquarters the day before, he was more determined than ever to renew his search and find Ana.
Lost in his thoughts, Peter didn't even see the figure jump off the building his web line was currently attached to. With no Spider sense to warn him, all he knew was that he was sailing gracefully through the air one second, and the next, he was falling as huge arms gripped him and held him tight. Realizing as they both fell that his attacker was content to drop with him, Peter waited till they were close to the ground and then maneuvered his body in such a way that the mystery person's back was the thing that broke their fall, as they smashed into a car. Unfortunately, it affected both of them, and after rolling unceremoniously of the ruined top of the car to the floor, Peter tried to shake off the pain racking his body so he could stand and get a look at the person who tackled him mid air. "…You…" was all he managed as he recognized the figure of the Predator Kraven. "You would dare show your face around here! After all you've done?"
Amidst the panic that started shortly after the people realized Spidey was about to confront a huge beast like man, Kraven slowly stood to his feet, still on top of the car. "You can never have her. I have…grown fond of her, Spyder. Ana is mine! WHERE IS SHE?"
"You shouldn't even be within a thousand feet of her, you monster!"
Bracing for a fight with the hulking Kraven, Peter struggled to control his vehemence. He knew that whenever he fought in anger, it always ended up being a very short fight in his opponents favor. He was at a loss for words however, when Kraven used his speed to rush at him, with the lack of his Spider-sense making him an easier target. The super hero's neck was gripped tightly and he was effortlessly lifted and held in mid-air, despite his persistence in trying to break free. The eyes of the predator burned with rage against him and behind his mask, his also mirrored the same emotions. But just as Kraven sought to crush his adversary's neck and be done with it, something distracted him and his gaze turned sideways. Peter ceased thinking of a last minute tactic for his getaway when he saw that Kraven's features had softened, and when he also focused on what had kept the man turned monster from killing him, he too was entranced. The surprise in no time though, gave way to relief; he had found the person he was been looking for. "Ana!" he cried, his voice choked out by the unrelenting grasp he still tried to loosen.
"Ana…" Kraven began tentatively "…you have…returned to me"
However, the words that came out of her mouth after she had surveyed the scene in front of her were words that Kraven did not expect to hear. "…Let him go" the teenage blonde simply said. The discovery of the fact that he had most likely lost Ana forever hit Kraven like an anvil. His well kept lie and its subsequent revelation had completely ruined the relationship between them. He kept his mouth shut as the regret filled his thoughts, and even the silence was later drowned out by the sound of police sirens drawing nearer.
Peter was about to open his mouth to speak to Ana, but was roughly thrown by Kraven through the air into the body of a huge truck. Ana flinched at the sound of her real father's crash into the stationary vehicle, but her attention was not pulled away from Kraven at all. "Despite all this, you are still Kravinoff, Ana. It is what you were raised to be. But…you have refused me and the role of hunter which you faithfully played until now." His expression did not betray him emotionally as he talked to her; it was as if he was explaining something of no concern. "Because you were once treated as my offspring, I will give you the honor of being slain by me in fair battle" he added before going on to recite an incantation. Seconds after he had finished, his body began to shrink and in no time, had reverted back to his real human guise. Pulling a knife from a sheath, he beckoned menacingly to his erstwhile adoptive daughter, daring her to come get him.
Smiling devilishly for the first time in a long time, Ana surmised within herself that it was exactly what she needed: combat to vent. Retrieving a knife that had been hidden on her person, she suddenly rushed at Kraven, causing him to do the same. All she knew at the moment was that she might not make it alive out of their battle.
I hope that the story has been sweet thus far. I also hope that this particular chapter met with expectations. I will be ending this current arc with the next chapter. Kraven Vs. Ana! With Spidey in the middle! How will all this end and will Ana and Peter finally resolve their father-daughter issues? Who knows? Till next time, true believers!
Next chapter, I'll also explain how the whole pregnancy thing happened even though the Parker-Watson marriage never took place. I got my work cut out for me, I do.