1 - Gwen
Gwen's first hero was Superman. She would sit on the couch every Saturday morning and watch the cartoons with her baby brother (who couldn't even talk yet), bouncing with delight every time Superman saved the old lady or the bus full of children or, best of all, the pretty, pretty girl. Her parents would sip their coffee and chuckle at her from the breakfast table, and she would only tear herself away from Superman's exciting adventures and lovely red cape long enough to kiss her daddy goodbye and bid him a good day at work (at three, she didn't quite understand daddy's job yet, but even little Gwen knew that it was important she say goodbye to her daddy before he left for work each morning). Then she would trounce happily back into the living room to reclaim her throne on the couch, and cheer Superman on as he defeated the dastardly villain and won the day. Every time. That's what Gwen liked the best about Superman: He never lost.
Eventually, as Gwen entered elementary school, she outgrew Superman and turned to books instead. But, still, her favorite part of the week was eating Saturday morning breakfast with her parents and watching her kid brother cheer on his favorite superhero on TV.
One night, the TV is off and her brother is sleeping. Gwen finds her mother sitting in the kitchen, drinking tea and staring at the clock. She climbs onto her mother's lap and says, "Mommy, you're up late."
Her mother smiles and strokes her daughter's cheek. "I'm worried, baby."
"About your daddy."
Gwen frowns. She doesn't want her mother to be worried. "Why?"
Her mother simply sighs and hugs her daughter to her. "My worrying keeps him alive, baby," she replies cryptically. She doesn't want her sweet little daughter to know of all the other reasons that she has to worry about her father. Gwen isn't quite sure what it means, but she accepts her mother's answer anyways and nestles her head contentedly against her mother's neck. She can wait, too.
It doesn't take long after she had outgrown Superman for Gwen to find a new hero. Her father. By age seven, she had come to fully understand the dangers and bravery that being a high-ranking police officer entailed. By age ten, she had become familiar with the gnawing sense of insistent anxiety that came with not knowing if your father was going to make it home alive that day-being the eldest of four, including an immature younger brother and two still-gurgling baby boys only a year apart, and the daughter of a policeman had forced Gwen to grow up a bit more quickly than other girls her age. Still, she never allowed herself to worry too much. He's a hero, she would tell herself. And heroes always win the day.
Officer Stacy is promoted to Captain Stacy and, at home, the Stacys celebrate. Eleven-year-old Gwen kisses her daddy on the cheek and offers him her congratulations, but she can't help but grimace when the worry in her gut deepens.
By the time she enters high school, Gwen is starting to doubt the benefits of having a hero in her life. Sure, she loves her dad, but she's getting a little tired of staying up every night to make sure that he's whole and unharmed when he comes home from his long workday. Her baby brothers are old enough to start getting on her nerves now and her older kid brother doesn't help much, only smirks at her as she tries to control the babies, and she has more schoolwork than ever with her full-honors schedule. She starts going to bed before her dad comes home, reassuring herself that he'll be okay when he comes through the door. After all, he's still a hero. And heroes win the day.
When Gwen is sixteen, she notices a boy. He's in some of her classes and he's shy, but even though he doesn't talk much she can tell he's smart. And he's cute. Really cute. In that awkward, wholesome, thoughtful, intelligent-teenage-boy way that she knows her parents would love. His name is Peter and he's into photography. Even better, she thinks she catches him looking at her sometimes. She thinks of talking to him once or twice, but she's taking a lot of AP classes now and branching out into science programs and extra-curriculars and community service (even considering applying for a really cool and interesting-seeming internship at OsCorp), and she's too busy to talk to Peter the photographer boy. Even if he is really, really cute.
(Still. She can't help but dream wistfully of what it might be like to have a man in her life that she wouldn't have to stay up nights worrying about. She thinks that, as much as she loves her dad, it would be really, really great.)
A year and a half later, Gwen has hardly really talked to him all that much, but she finds herself falling for Peter Parker. He stood up to Flash Thompson and took a roundhouse to the face for it. He's sweet, and he's nice, and he's awkward and adorable and even though he snuck into OsCorp and nearly got her into trouble, it thrills her that he's so into what she's into, which is science. She had always known that he was a good science student, but not cross-species-genetics-sneak-into-OsCorp-for-the-sake-of-it good. She feels like he's a bit of a godsend, a reward for all the time she's spent slaving over her books and worrying for her father. She had been trying so hard because of college, but if Peter Parker is the way that the universe decides to reward her for her studiousness, she thinks that, well, it's not a bad bargain.
When Peter tells Gwen that he's Spider-Man, she feels many things. She feels shock in that initial moment of realization, when he webs her on the skirt and pulls her into his arms. Then she feels wow, wow, wow when he kisses her deep, his nimble fingers alighting shivers underneath her skin. She feels a bit dazed after that, like she's teetering and about to fall-her new boyfriend is Spider-Man. Spider-Man. "Oh, I'm in trouble," she whispers to herself, watching him vault over the balcony and fall into the night below. She floats back into the house and has a hard time explaining to her family where her new boyfriend disappeared to. Her youngest brother snickers that she's scared him off, and this brings her back to earth long enough to smack him playfully and tell him to finish his fish.
The final emotion doesn't come until later, when she's lying in her bed in the middle of the night, bathed in the moonlight and staring at the window that Peter had climbed in earlier, with that casual shrug and uncertain grin that she loved so much about him. That's when she feels it-the worry. Deep in her stomach, it implants itself like a malevolent little seed and begins to sprout. She wished for less heroism in her life and instead, she got double the amount. Three-year-old Gwen would have been thrilled, but seventeen-year-old Gwen is less so. Because, by now, she has long since understood the darker side of being a hero.
She stares up at the ceiling and sighs. Oh, I'm in trouble.
When he next comes to her window, he's bearing that self-effacing grin again, and she feels butterflies of delight unfurl in her stomach (she doesn't notice that it's not the same grin-less lightness and more exhaustion). And never have butterflies met a quicker death than when she sees the blood, dripping off of his chest and onto her bedroom carpet.
By the time she's warded off her father and fetched a dampened towel, the seed of worry in her stomach has grown into a vine that has effectively wrapped around her chest and is now squeezing all the breath out of her. Her hands shake as she cleans the blood from his gashes, and she can see that he's a bit dazed from all the blood loss, and a bit guilty for coming to her like this. The combination gets to his head and he tries to kiss her, but she pulls away because she can't. She has to tell him. She rests her forehead against his and tries to find the words. He has to know.
"Every day, for as long as I can remember, my father..." She inhales, her eyes downcast, and he shifts with concern against her. "...has lived every morning and he's put a badge on his chest, and strapped a gun to his hip... And every day for as long as I can remember, I haven't known if he was going to make it home." Her voice cracks and she holds his gaze, willing him to understand, watching as he swallows and twists his mouth at her words.
He puts one hand to her face and looks at her with a sort of terrible sadness in her eyes, more understanding in them than she could have hoped. "I got you," he whispers, barely audible, and she's sure that she'll cry as she reaches up to grasp his wrist. He slides his other hand up to cup her face in his palms, whispering again, "Okay?" Now he is the one willing her to understand, and she can't handle the way he's looking at her anymore so she turns away, swallowing back tears that threaten to burst. He doesn't let her go, ducking to meet her eyes as he says, almost pleadingly, "I got to stop him, though." She turns back to him and he holds her gaze. "I have to. 'Cause I created him."
She collects enough courage to look up at him again, and their eyes meet, gray-green against brown. And they both understand.
Please, make sure he's okay.
These are the last words that she said to her father.
She's sure that it's rain that slides down her face, but when it touches her lips, the drops taste salty.
They haunt her. She walks in the procession, clutching the handle of her black umbrella so tightly that her knuckles have turned white.
No one speaks a word. Save for the sound of the falling rain and slow, shuffling footsteps, it is quiet.
She should have said something else.
Even little Gwen knew that it was important she say goodbye to her daddy before he left for work each morning.
She should have told him goodbye.
He isn't here.
She should have kissed his cheek and told him to be safe. Like she used to do. Like she didn't, the only time that it had truly mattered.
Flash's solemn face can be seen among the sea of black.
Out of the corner of her eye, she thinks she sees something, hovering behind the chimney of a nearby rooftop. Hope soars in her chest, and she looks up, tilting the umbrella back to let in the rain. But there's nothing there. No one. Her hopes crash, and the guilt comes flooding back, filling her up to her eyes. She did it again-thought of him before her own father.
"My worrying keeps him alive."
She shouldn't have assumed that he'd be okay simply because had always been okay before. She shouldn't have been so stupid, so naive.
Please, make sure he's okay.
Not all heroes win the day.
A/N: Hey guys! Just a quick author's note of introduction. While this isn't my first fanficition, this is my first Marvel fanfiction. After seeing TASM, I just couldn't contain all of my Spider-Man feels, so I had to write something to let it all out. I'm thinking of continuing this and writing a few more chapters alternating between Peter and Gwen's point-of-views. Let me know what you think! Don't worry, there will be more Gwen/Peter in upcoming chapters.
ALSO: Does anyone remember specifically what Gwen said to her father before he went up to help Peter? I put down "Please, make sure he's okay" because I remember it as something like that, but if anyone remembers exactly what it was, please let me know and I'll fix it. Thanks :)
P.S. Do me a favor, guys, and PLEASE review. It really helps. Whilst I love you all for following/favorite-ing, if you don't review, I can't tell what I'm doing right to make you guys want to keep reading, so I can't possibly improve. So, PLEASE just leave a quick comment. Even something as simple as "I like the premise" or "Use shorter sentences" or "Good details" or "Too many details" or "Good characterization" helps (every fanfiction author loves to hear they've got good characterization). Thanks in advance!