The roller-skating rink was nearly empty. Carlie supposed that most people didn't want to spend their Tuesday evening in their roller blades, slipping and sliding over an old-fashioned, polished-wood floor. She didn't mind, though. Her work as a forensic scientist was demanding, keeping her busy almost every day of the week at odd hours. Now, the scent of the burnished wood and the steady thump of the rubber wheels on her roller skates hitting the floorboards soothed her frayed nerves.
Thoughts of Peter Parker plagued her mind. She hadn't known him very well until recently, but she had met him several times through her friends. Gwen Stacy, Carlie's childhood best friend who had been murdered by the Green Goblin, had been Peter's girlfriend at the time of her death. Harry Osborn, one of Carlie's other friends and the son of the Green Goblin, was Peter's best friend.
Carlie was currently casually dating him. Or, rather, she was trying to date him. Peter constantly broke their plans or arrived for dates hours after the originally planned time. He seemed apologetic when this happened, and his interest in her hadn't appeared to wane, but Carlie was beginning to wonder if she could continue to date someone who was so irresponsible. Loveable as Peter was, with these antics, he simply wasn't boyfriend material.
With her job, this dating thing going south, and her best friend Lily seeming to pull away from her, Carlie felt stressed and upset. She didn't know what to do anymore.
Suddenly, someone fell into step beside her and wrapped an arm around her shoulders.
"What's a gorgeous girl like you doing here by yourself?" A baritone asked as friendly hazel eyes stared down at her.
"Peter!" Carlie gasped. "What are you doing here?" Nervously, she threaded a few fingers through her shoulder-length, chestnut brown hair that was gathered into a ponytail, poking out from beneath her red helmet.
Peter chuckled affably. "Well, I wanted to surprise the amazing girl I'm lucky enough to be dating."
Strangely, as Peter spoke, he and all of her surroundings seemed to blur before Carlie's eyes, weaving in and out of focus for several moments. Carlie wasn't certain if she swayed or not.
Peter didn't appear to notice anything unusual about her. "I know that I've been terrible about dates, so I wanted to make sure that you knew just how important you are to me." He turned to halt in front of Carlie, and she stopped as well. He took both of her manicured hands in his strong fingers. "Carlie Cooper would you do me the honor of allowing me to take you out to dinner at La Dolce Vita?"
La Dolce Vita was one of the most hip but upscale restaurants in town. Carlie was thrilled that Peter wanted to take her there. "Oh, Peter! I would love it! Thank you!" However, the sentiment of her words was ruined as she spoke and the world contorted before her once again.
Peter was pleased, Carlie could tell. He brought her hand up to his lips and kissed it, just as the music changed from a fast hip-hop beat to a soft and romantic melody. "I thought you might like that. Hey, it's a slow song. Want to partner-skate?"
"I would love to," Carlie said sincerely. But something was wrong. The scene before her blurred and warped, her voice sounded distorted to her own ears, and the sensation of falling overwhelmed her. Suddenly, bright light that materialized from nowhere blinded her, piercing through her closed eyelids, awakening her-
A pair of bright eyes stared down at her.
"Are you awake?" The eyes asked.
Carlie blinked. Her eyelids felt heavy. And how could a pair of eyes talk?
"Well?" The voice was completely monotone.
Carlie blinked again.
Oh. The eyes were attached to a face. A face with a mouth. That was where the voice was coming from.
But the face was completely unfamiliar.
Carlie sat bolt upright. She was in a large room with white walls. Various monitors and other pieces of sizeable equipment threatened to clutter the area, but the organization of the paraphernalia caused the room to retain a solid sense of order.
She was sitting in some sort of box-like table structure, the lid of which hung suspended from robust hinges on the right side. Her limbs ached slightly, but other she felt perfectly fine. As she glanced around, she noticed that standing a few feet away, was a teenage boy.
"Where am I?" She demanded.
He didn't respond right away, and a second figure emerged from up a staircase that laid somewhat behind him. This one was a girl, and she stopped beside the boy.
They looked uncannily alike in every way, the only primary differences being their genders and hair lengths: the boy's hair was cut typical for those his age, slightly over the ears and collar, while the girl's hair reached halfway down her back. Their eerie similarities brought Carlie to wonder if they were twins.
Though the two were young, they were also beautiful in a positively unnatural manner. Between the two of them, there were no physical flaws that Carlie could see. With their black hair, bright but pale blue eyes, and alabaster complexions that held empty, blank expressions, the striking beauty of the two was disarmingly unearthly.
"Where am I?" Carlie repeated, more forcefully this time.
Neither answered. Carlie used her hands push against the metal device so she could stand, before jumping down, landing on shaking legs. She felt dizzy for several seconds, but that sensation passed, leaving her free to move to the stairs without any worries of taking a tumble. Neither of the twins tried to stop her, or even looked at her.
She had made her way halfway down the stairs before either of them reacted. A high, chilling laugh rand throughout the air, and Carlie whirled about on the step. When she twisted her body, she saw that the two of them had also turned to face her.
"Where do you think you're going?" The girl asked. Her voice was low and velvety. "There's nowhere for you to run." She laughed. The shrill sound was completely dissonant with her smooth voice.
They vanished before her eyes, but Carlie shrieked when she realized they reappeared and now stood side by side in front of her. She tried to back away from them, but wound up just tripping and falling on her behind.
"Calm down," the girl said. She smiled, but the exposure of her gleaming white teeth was more of a threat than a comfort. "We can help you."
"You are in a research facility for the study of mutants. This is part of the central Department K building, which is a of the Canadian government's science division. Your name is Carlie Cooper." The boy spoke, and his voice was just as sleek and silken as his sister's.
Panic seized Carlie's mind. "Dear God, am I a mutant?"
"Yes," the boy said gently.
Carlie stared at him, devastated.
"But don't worry," he reassured her softly. "If you're willing to help us, we have a way out."
Carlie stared at him for several seconds, then frowned and glanced from to his twin. "Who are you?"
"Like you, we are mutants who have been oppressed," he replied readily. "We have been used for experimentation."
"Are you twins?" Carlie queried.
The two exchanged a long look, then the girl smiled. "Yes," she said. "We are mutant twins."
"What are your names?" Carlie asked, feeling sympathy for the brother and sister. Gwen had been like a sister to her, and it had been so upsetting when she died . . . Gwen . . . Gwen . . . Gwen . . .
"It's been along time since we used our civilian names," the girl said wistfully. "But I am Eros Lovehaight, and my brother- my twin brother- is Thanatos."
"Is your family Greek?" Carlie asked.
The two turned toward each other with somewhat confused expressions before Thanatos responded. "Our paternal grandfather was from Greece," Thanatos confirmed.
Carlie's head began pounding as a revelation overtook her mind. "I have to get to New York City. The man I love is there. Peter. His name is Peter Parker."
Another long look, an unspoken conversation, was traded between Eros and Thanatos, before they both offered her wide smiles.
"Of course," Eros said sincerely. "We will help you get to New York City."
"Okay." Carlie stood. "What do you need me to do?"
"This way." Thanatos and Eros led her down the stairs, moving in perfect unison and over to a series of work counters cluttered with chemistry equipment.
Carlie gasped. Behind one of the counters lay a man and woman. Both appeared to have collapsed, and they lay sprawled on the ground. "What happened?" She asked the twins.
"These were the scientists working on us," Eros said with distaste. "They got what they deserved." She knelt down beside the man's form, and her brother stood beside her as she caressed the scientist's face. "Poor Walter. He felt sorry for us, you know." She raised her eerie gaze to Carlie's brown eyes. "But if he was only going to offer us pity, and not aid, then I think he's received his just rewards."
Watching the two human experiments stand gloating over their fallen creators, Carlie was forcibly reminded of the tale of Frankenstein's monster, but she wasn't quite sure why.
Eros stood. "Carlie. You can shape-shift. Take Heather's form. You'll need it to get us out of here."
Carlie was aghast. "What? I don't know how- "
"Focus," Eros commanded. "Think about what Heather looks like, and concentrate on her form."
As ordered, Carlie focused on the woman, noting her red hair, lab coat, and angular face. The sensation of butterflies in her stomach overcame her, and chills ran up and down her arms, as if gooseflesh had broken out over skin.
Eros and Thanatos gazed at her, before glancing at each other with smirks.
"Very nice," Eros noted approvingly. Her laugh rang out once more. "You even shape-shifted her glasses onto your face."
"Take this." Thanatos pressed a plastic identification card hanging on a lanyard into her hand. "This will clear your through all of the halls and allow you to obtain a vehicle. No one will object if they see us following Heather around. We'll lock the lab when we leave, as Heather usually does, and no one should realize what's happened until it's too late."
Carlie accepted the card, albeit hesitantly. "Thank you." She gave a sincere but uncertain smile.
"Don't worry, Carlie," he told her softly. "We'll make it to New York. I promise."
"And I'll do my part to help you along the way." Carlie squared her shoulders, then turned towards the door. "Let's go."
Had Carlie thought to look behind her, she would have seen the twins exchange identical, wolfish smiles.
A/N: Kudos to anyone who gets the joke about Carlie's shapeshifting glasses or guess the true identity of the twins.