Disclaimer: I own nothing from Spiderman, etc, etc, even though I'm going to marry Andrew Garfield.
I haven't been on fanfiction for awhile, so I'm stretching my toesies and dipping them back into the water here. This is movie-verse, The Amazing Spiderman. The story takes place in the aftermath of the first movie.
Sometimes Peter watches her from her bedroom window. Far enough away that he couldn't possibly be seen, but he can still make out the shape of her, leaning backwards in her chair in front of her computer, tapping a pencil on the desk, existing in a separate world behind a pane of glass.
He's too far to see her face, which is probably for the best. He doesn't want to see the pain in her eyes or the nervous habit she has developed of biting her lip. He doesn't want to see the sunken grief around the corners of her eyes or the paleness of her skin. But more importantly, he doesn't want her to look up and see him, see the traitorous glint in his eyes, and know that he still cares.
It's the voice of the captain he hears before he can even think of moving another inch forward from the ledge he so frequently perches himself on.
He can close his eyes and picture it so easily—one swoop, just a few fragile seconds in the air and he would land at her window with a grace he didn't possess. She would be working so diligently that she wouldn't even notice his shadow cross the walls of her bedroom. Softly, he would knock on the window and she would startle, but she would know it was him before she let herself turn around.
She'd take her time before she met his eyes. Doleful, wide, full of promise. He could drink in her eyes and live off them alone. She would look away, deny him for a moment, but then she would rise from her desk and gently ease the window open.
He'd say something clever here. Something sweet, something short, something that would forgive the months he'd spent pining for her from afar, the months he spent letting her cry into her pillow and in the locker room and at the subway station waiting for a train. She would light up at his words and just a hint of a smile would play at her lips. She'd barb him. She was exceptional at that. But she'd step aside, and let him into the bedroom, and they'd take each other in, rememorizing every pore on the other's face as if it were their first and last moment left in the world.
He would lean forward ever-so-slightly. Gage her reaction. She wouldn't flinch; she wouldn't look at him in disgust, or worse, not look at him at all; she would lean forward ever-so-slightly herself, slowly bridging the gap, until their lips were mere centimeters apart and he could smell cinnamon gum and hear the sound of her breath and the beating of his own heart and then—
Then he hears the captain's dying words. Like a noose, they take hold of him and he suffocates there on his perch, overlooking a crowded, bustling city he thinks he might just fall into; but then he remembers that even if he falls in this breath-stealing, agonizing moment, he won't die. He can't.
Because has a city to protect. Because he has so many wrongs to correct in such a short lifetime. Because seeing her for just these few moments every day is enough reason to live for as long as he possibly can.
Because he knows that she still loves him. Otherwise she wouldn't leave the blinds up all through the day and night.
Peter doesn't really need sleep.
He reasons it's a perk of his new abilities, even though he also knows he couldn't sleep if he tried. His head hits the pillow and he is instantly unbearably restless. It's as if every sound of the city threatens to swallow him whole; he imagines faraway screams and ambulance sirens and even though he knows they're not real, they could be. He can't ignore the possibility, the idea that he could prevent someone's suffering while he lays here uselessly.
His eyes snap open, his hands grapple for the radio dial, and by the time a call for all available units comes crackling through, he is already in full gear and headed toward the window. He glances back at Uncle Ben's picture before he leaves and imagines that wherever he is, he is proud.
"You look terrible," Aunt May says most mornings.
Breakfast is always the same, if Peter makes it to breakfast at all. Sometimes he only just manages to slip back into the house with enough time to pull on his street clothes, grab his backpack, and run down the stairs to give his aunt a quick kiss good-bye.
If he makes it to breakfast, where she will inevitably pry, he gives her one of his most endearing cheesy smiles. His lips feel like overstretched rubber bands. "Thanks," he says cheekily.
"What happened to your eye?"
"Your eye, Peter."
Peter pretends his mouth is too full of food, and laboriously chews while he thinks of an acceptable answer. "Skateboarding," he says, because he hasn't used that excuse in at least a week.
"You just hurt yourself doing that yesterday."
Or maybe not.
"I like boarding," he says into his cereal.
Aunt May touches his cheek. Peter winces; for all his unthinkably quick reflexes, he didn't see it coming. He looks into his aunt's worried eyes. "Peter," she says, and for a split second he is so certain that she knows everything, so sure that he feels his stomach sinking into his chair.
But then she takes her hand away, and looks down at the table.
"I've gotta get to class," says Peter.
His hand's on the doorknob when Aunt May speaks again. "Peter?"
He can feel her eyes burning into the back of his neck, but he doesn't turn around.
Peter stays late after school in the chemistry lab to finish an alternate assignment for a lab he missed. A half hour stretches by. He has made some progress, and now he just has to wait a few minutes to observe the chemicals reacting so he can record it and write a few pages of reflection questions.
He wakes up some time later to the sound of voices in the hallway.
"Shit," he says under his breath. Whatever reaction he was supposed to watch he has long since missed; the liquid in his beakers is unmoving and useless. He puts his head back down on his desk in frustration.
"It's Friday night. Friday night down at that bowling alley with the green neon sign, you know where that is, right?"
"Yes, yes I do, but Richard …"
Peter's head flies up from the desk so fast that he nearly knocks all his materials over. It's Gwen's voice on the other side of the half-open door—Gwen, and some guy named Richard. Some guy named Richard who Peter suddenly irrationally loathes with every bone in his body.
"You're busy Friday? C'mon, Gwen. It's Friday. You can't study all the time."
This Richard, his voice is friendly and light and teasing. It makes Peter sick. He imagines Gwen on the other side of the door, blushing; Gwen, on the other side of the door, shuffling her feet bashfully; Gwen, on the other side of the door, deciding to leave Peter behind at last.
"I'm sorry, Richard," says Gwen instead. "It's just … not a good time for me right now."
Peter's heart shouldn't be soaring out of his chest with relief, but it is. He almost laughs out loud.
"I understand," says Richard, sounding very much like a gentleman. "But Gwen. When it is a good time … let me know. Okay?"
Peter doesn't hear Gwen's response, but he imagines it was either a nod or a mouthed "okay", because they both shuffle away without another word. He listens until her footsteps are well out of the range of normal human hearing, listens to her open her locker, grab her books, and leave; listens until he can't hear anything but his foot tapping against the tile floor and the Captain Stacy's dying words rattling between his ears.