Chapter Two: In which Spiderman gets me out of the frying pan, and manages to throw his lady friend into the fire
*Two Weeks Later*
"Alright class. This is your mid-quarter test. You will have all of class to finish this exam. That means 90 minutes." Here, Mr. Bates stopped to glare at Flash Thompson and his group of followers. "You are permitted to use a calculator, and no Mr. Thompson, that does not mean you can substitute with your cellular device. Keep your eyes on your own paper or I will start my confetti collection for the end of the year. Begin on my mark."
Mr. Bates' fingers were poised on his wrist, eyes intently focused on the second hand. "Begin!"
I nervously bit on the end of my pencil as I eyed the test. I felt someone nudge my desk. Glancing to the side, I caught a reassuring smile from Peter before he began working on his test. Ok…breathe…Peter went over all of this with you. You know exactly what this all means. Recall…remember…focus…
I touched the pencil down to the paper and began my test.
"Time! Pencils down. No Mr. Thompson. Just because I said pencils down does not mean you can pull out a pen. Leave the packets on my desk. Your homework is to begin the guided reading on the next chapter. See you next class."
Sighing, I stuffed my pencil and calculator into my bag. Walking up to the front of the room, I dropped the test onto Mr. Bates' desk.
"Annette! What'd you think of the test?"
"Really Parker?" Sighing, I leaned against the wall of lockers. "Honestly, I don't know what to think. I remembered everything we went over, but you know what they say…"
Peter stood in front of me, lips pursed. "No…I don't think I know what they say. Who's they?"
I snorted. "You know…when you're taking a test and everything seems really easy, you probably failed?"
"Or, maybe it just means you finally understand what you're reading," said Peter, a look which said 'obviously' stuck on his face.
"Yeah…maybe." Pushing myself off of the lockers, I started walking towards my next class. "What do you have next?" I asked.
"What? Oh, I have a free track."
"Hmm," I said, nodding my head. "So when do you want to start the next chapter? Do you think we could meet sometime today? I don't want to wait for the results of this one…I need something to distract me."
"Listen," began Peter. "I already have plans for tonight, maybe even the rest of the week. Maybe next week?"
I was stopped short. I realized I had been monopolizing Peter's time for the past two weeks, but he had really helped. "Am I allowed to know what you're doing, or is it a secret?"
"Secret plans that I don't know about? Peter Parker what aren't you telling me?" I turned to see a flash of blonde wrap herself around Peter. When she turned to face me, I recognized Gwen Stacy, star debater, scientific genius, resident good girl, and all around golden girl. Holding out her hand, she said, "Hey, I'm Gwen Stacy."
"I know," I mumbled. After a moment's hesitation: "Annette Brant."
"Brant as in Betty Brant?"
"The one and only," I said.
"I love your mother's work! Her exposé on Edward's Engineering's waste disposal was amazing! Who knew they were dumping toxins into the river?"
"Yeah," I said, voice unenthusiastic. "Who knew? Listen, Peter, Gwen, and it was nice meeting you, by the way, but I really have to get going now."
"What about the next chapter?" Peter call out after me.
"Whatever…next week's fine Parker. Nice meeting you Gwen," I said, before heading to my last class of the day.
"So he ditched you for the blonde chick?"
"We weren't even together in the first place MJ…he was just my tutor."
"Was?" I could hear the question in her voice.
"Well…yeah, I guess." The next chemistry class we had had, Mr. Bates had handed the tests back. By the time he got to me, my nails were probably non-existent. He stood there, fixed me with this look, and said, "Well, Miss Brant. Looks like I won't be seeing you this summer after all." That was probably the best moment of my life.
"Are you sure though? That was only one chapter…how's the next one going?"
"Liar. You probably need his help…again."
"No! If I can't do this on my own, I haven't learned anything then."
"Whatever," she said, sighing. "Listen, Harry and I are heading down to the theatre tonight. You want to come?"
"And be the third wheel? Not my thing…besides, I really do need to read…like crazy."
"You do that," she said laughing. "I'll see you tomorrow girl."
Setting the phone down on the dresser, I rolled off of my bed. I slipped into my shoes and headed downstairs. Now was the time where I would normally be studying with Peter. But of course, for the past few days, Peter Parker was either with Gwen Stacy or off somewhere else. You're not jealous, I tried to convince myself. Just worried about keeping up a good grade.
That worked for probably five seconds. And I was back where I started. Peter Parker…what can I say? He's quiet Parker, nerdy Parker, for Pete's sake, he was debater Parker! But he was also attractive, intelligent, and when he smiled, I couldn't help but swoon. Peter, Peter, Parker.
But then there was Gwen. And as much as I tried, I couldn't not like her! She was amazing…and you are so totally jealous. Groaning, I slammed my head against the wall. I needed to get out…now.
I was walking the streets at what I thought was a safe time…but judging by my situation, no time was probably safe in NYC anymore. What was my situation? I was up against a dirt covered wall. Again. Except this time, I'm pretty sure I was about to die. How did I get here? Well I was walking down the street…
It was probably around 5:45, closer to 6:00, when I finally stepped out. I had called out to my brother, telling him I was going for a walk. "Call me if you need anything," I had said. And then grabbing a light windbreaker, I had headed towards downtown NYC. What started out as a light wind, progressively got worse. One minute it was drizzling, the next minute it was pouring rain. I remember running into this cute boutique I had been eyeing for the past couple of days. Of course I couldn't buy anything, it was all too pricey, so once the rain was back to that light drizzle, I took my chance.
I couldn't tell how many times I passed dark alley ways, but each time I passed by their gaping maws, I kept a wary eye out. But of course, the one time my mobile rang, and I happened to be passing by an alley way, I didn't look out.
I didn't see that…thing, reach out to grab me, pushing me up against the wall.
In fact, after it knocked me out, I couldn't see anything at all.
I came to in a dark room. I could hear the drip of water, echoing throughout the room. A fluorescent light flickered overhead, a lone fly buzzing closer and closer, before zap! Its body, smoke rising in waves, fell to the ground. I was suddenly reminded of those horror movies, and just how cliché my situation was. Except this time, there was no director sitting behind a camera, ready to yell cut when the scene ended.
I snorted. All this picture was missing was the creepy mouth breather, director or not.
And then came the footsteps. One sounded off, as if the owner were limping, dragging his foot behind him. Accompanying him was a strange, mechanical, whirring sound, almost like the gusts of wind from a fan.
I felt the blood drain from my face. Creepy mouth breather…make that breathers…check. I felt instinct kick in. All those years of watching NCIS and Bones would not be for nothing. I kept my head down, eyes closed. Slowing my breathing down, I tried to relax my body as much as possible. I had a better chance of surviving this if they didn't see me as a threat.
"I got her, just like you asked Mr. Os—"
"Shut up you fool!"
"Did she put up a fight?"
"No sir! I did everything you said to do."
"Yes…it seems you did."
"Does that mean…do I get…"
"Get on with it you blubbering fool!"
"Rhino's just wondering if he can get his payment now…"
"Hmmm…you've done well…Alright. The package is waiting in the car. Do try not to scare my chauffeur…again. I can't keep on covering up their deaths for you."
"Yes sir! Thank you sir! Rhino's been waiting for a long time!"
I heard the awkward shuffling once more, this time moving away from me.
"You can stop faking dear…the animal is gone now."
I froze. He knew?
"Of course I knew you were awake. Your acting is good, for those of lesser intelligence of course."
The gig was up. Sighing, I opened my eyes, craning my neck to see who my captor was. "Who-who are you?" I questioned.
"Why, you don't know who I am?" The sound of whirring kicked up once more. A being, more creature than man, slowly revealed himself under the wane light, floating in on a hover board of sorts. He was green, his face pinched uncomfortably. It reminded me of the evil faeries in the story books my mother used to read to me…almost like…the goblins. "The Green Goblin," I whispered.
"Now we're talking! So now the introductions are over, let's get down to business!" Hopping off his board, he stalked up to me, mouth curved up in a malicious smile. "Tell me what you know."
"Know? I don't know anything! I have no idea what you're talking about!"
"Don't play smart with me, foolish girl! Tell me where he's kept it!"
"Where who's kept what? I have no idea who the hell you're talking about! I just want to go home!"
He slapped me across my face, drawing blood. "You're my guest here…I decide when you leave. Now we're going to try this one more time, girl." He pulled a small vial from a belt slung low across his waist. Popping the cap, I watched as he slowly tilted the vial, a small drop falling on my thigh. At first I felt nothing…but then my jeans started to pop and sizzle. An intense, searing pain began to spread from my thigh to my lower leg. Then as quickly as it started, it stopped. A sweat had broken over my forehead, small rivulets sliding down my face. He held another small vile in his hand, probably the antidote for whatever poison he had used on me. "That's just a mere taste of what I'm capable of…Now tell me. Where has the boy hidden it?"
"What boy?" I asked, my throat raw from screams.
"What do you mean 'what boy'? Parker! That imbecile…where has he kept it?!"
Parker? Peter Parker? What did he have to do with the Green Goblin. His pinched face had the most incredulous expression as he stared at me.
"You mean to say you don't know? The boy hasn't told you yet?" He began laughing, a horrible cackle. "This is rich!"
And then the wall was smashed in. I watched in dazed confusion as what looked like a rhino charged into the room, the blurred figure of Spiderman caught in between his arms. The room seemed to tilt, my vision becoming more and more fuzzy. Time slowed down, and the crashes echoing through the cavernous room thundered around me. My vision started to fade in, and out…in and out…the grainy figure of Spiderman looming above my face…"Don't worry Annette…I'll get you out of here,"…then nothing.
I woke up in a small, but comfortable bed. Looking around, I recognized it as Peter's room. Peter's room? I started to sit up, lowering my feet to the floor. I began to stand up, immediately regretting my actions. My body gave way, and I found myself falling to the ground.
"Woah there," said Peter. He cradled my shaking frame in his lap. "You don't want to be using that leg too soon."
Gently, he lifted me up, lowering me down to the bed. He was close…very close. His head nestled between my neck and my shoulder. I blushed at the proximity, but at the same time, couldn't stop myself from reveling in his nearness. I clenched my hands around his body.
I heard someone clear their throat. "Peter…I got the stuff you wanted." It was Gwen. In her arms, she carried a roll of bandages with a small bottle of disinfectant and a hand towel.
"Thanks Gwen," he said, uncoiling his arms from my waist, he walked over to Gwen. Pulling myself free, I paid no heed to the piece of fabric that had fallen out of his pocket and into my tight grip…until I truly saw it for what it was. A bright shock of red, two reflective eyes…unbelievable.
I decided to play it cool. Neither Peter nor Gwen had noticed my suddenly tensing. "Peter," I croaked out, "What happened?"
"Well, after you got kidnapped by the Green Goblin…well Spiderman rescued you."
Gwen decided to chime in. "I heard about it on my dad's old police scanner…we came to get you as soon as we heard."
"Really?" I asked, wincing as Peter poured disinfectant over my thigh. Patting it dry, he began to wrap the bandage around.
"Yeah," said Peter, focused on the task at hand.
"He…he asked me questions about you Peter…about something you were hiding."
"I know—I mean, really? Did he say what exactly?"
"No. He just kept on saying 'it'."
He pinned the bandage with a safety pin, before adding an extra layer of medical tape. Lightly tapping my thigh, he said, "There. All done."
"It's a good thing, Spiderman saving you," Gwen said, eyes focused on Peter.
"Second time, actually," I said, stifling a cough. "I feel like I know him…real well." I fixed a pointed stare in Peter's direction. It went unnoticed by him, but Gwen caught it.
"Peter…I think you should tell her."
"Tell me what, Peter?"
"Gwen…" he said, his eyes closed, fingers clasped together. "Not now."
"I think she deserves to know, after what she's been through."
"Gwen. Not. Now."
"It didn't take you this long to tell me."
"That was different."
I watched as Peter and Gwen continued to fire at each other, Gwen standing at the door, arms crossed across her chest, Peter sitting by the bed. Before they could escalate it any further, I decided to end it.
"Really Peter, you should tell me…I mean, how important could it be…Spiderman."
Peter's face grew pale. "You know, it was weird when Spiderman called me by my name, something he couldn't possibly know. And of course," I said, pulling the mask out from under the blanket, "this really gave it away. When were you going to tell me, Peter? After I was killed for not knowing something that you could have easily told me from the beginning?"
"I had no idea he would go to you! You can't blame me for—"
"For what? Endangering my life?" Peter opened his mouth as if to speak, only to close it. Before he could say anything else, I said, "You know what? I don't want to hear anymore."
I stood up, grimacing as the pain shot up through my left leg. This time, I dodged Peter's attempt to help me. "Stay away from me!" I saw him wince, and I couldn't help but feel apologetic. Steeling myself, I nodded briefly in Gwen's direction. No matter how I felt towards Gwen, I couldn't hold her responsible for anything that had happened. I trudged down the steps and out the front door.
Upstairs in Peter's room, Gwen stood against the door. "I didn't know it would end like that. I'm sorry Peter."
Peter shook his head. "No…it's better this way."
"There's an extra mask in the drawer. Pass it over."
Gwen moved to the desk, slowly sliding it open. "Peter, what are you doing?"
Now in full Spiderman regalia, he slid out the window. "What I'm supposed to."
"Go away Parker."
"Annette…listen. I know you feel bad, but honestly I had no idea that the Green Goblin would go after you."
"Peter please! Just stop. It's over now, ok? The Goblin knows I have no idea, well had no idea about anything. He's not going to come after me anymore."
I kept on walking, trying to increase the distance between us. I could hear him leaping above me, always maintaining the same distance, though.
"Look Peter, ju—"
A mobile started ringing. I froze, immediately thinking someone else was near. What if they heard me calling him by his name? What have I done?
"Relax, it's mine." I watched as he drew a small phone from God knows where on his body, sliding his thumb across the screen.
"Peter! Where are you!
"Gwen? Gwen what's wrong?"
"The Green Goblin! He's here! Your Aunt, she's out, I have no idea what to do…Peter, please co—" A bone chilling scream echoed from the phone.
"Goblin! What have you done?"
"It seems I made a mistake... looks like you like your women blonde…"
"I swear Goblin if you touch a single hair on her head—"
"Ah ah ah, Spidey boy…you know what I want."
"Gob—Shit!" Peter yelled his frustration. He kicked a garbage can over, trash spilling everywhere.
"Peter, stop! Doing this isn't going to help Gwen…go!"
He stood there, shoulders loose. "You haven't lost yet, Peter…but Gwen needs you now."
Nodding, he released his webbing.
I don't know what compelled me to go to the bridge that night. The cab I had taken stopped at the mouth of the bridge. "I ain't going no further, lady! Them vigilantes might blow the entire thing sky high!" He didn't wait for his payment, immediately reversing and speeding out of the area. Bright explosions filled the chill night air, almost like fireworks.
But there was no celebration here. As people ran, screaming, I walked closer and closer, edging around the abandoned cars. And then I saw them, poised at the top. I could not hear what was being said, but I could see everything.
Beautiful Gwen. Strong Gwen. Frightened Gwen.
And then she was falling, body arched gracefully.
Peter, shooting his webbing after her.
That night, I saw Gwen Stacy die.
That night, Peter Parker turned his back on the world.
End of Chapter Two