Chapter 4: The Race
"It's never too late for stalking."
― Madeleine Urban
"Emerald! Em, honey! Wakey, wakey!" Rosi's voice sounded from the outside her room.
Emerald groaned, she opened her eyes slightly and stared at the alarm clock with hate. It was only 9:30 am. And on a Saturday, for god's sake! Her door creaked open and she shut her eyes again. This was a daily Saturday routine. "Em. Sweetie, you've got to go to work. Remember? Howie's Photo Supplies?"
"Ughh..Rosi. I know my destination of work. You don't really have to remind me every Saturday."
"Well. If you didn't look so dead in your sleep, I probably wouldn't say a thing. I'm always fearful that whenever you wake up, you forget who you are."
"What?! I don't act like that!"
"You obviously haven't used the mirror, have you?"
"Hmph. I know that's not going to get you up, last time you said that, you were almost late."
Suddenly, the sheets were removed from her legs, and her Aunt had grabbed her ankles and was pulling her out of bed, shocked and unprepared for the sudden jolt, Emerald was literally dragged out of bed until she found herself on the floor, amidst in the comforter.
"This will happen every Saturday for as long as you live here and until you find a way to get yourself up." Then her Aunt strutted out of the room, closing the door gently behind her.
Emerald sat up on the floor and tousled her hair around for a bit and crawled to her closet. She finally stood up and shifted through it, looking for something comfortable to wear. It was finally getting cold outside. After some thinking, she thought she would go with a deep blue sweater with a black cami, some black jeans and her combat boots. She grabbed the clothing and then sighed, she really didn't have the strength to keep walking. Emerald got down on all fours and crawled her way to the bathroom.
Emerald pulled her backpack up onto her shoulders and strapped her camera case securely before resting it on her shoulder. 'It's a good thing I have work. Now I'll be able to work with Peter's photo.' She nodded to reassure herself and then gulped down the last of her hot coco before deciding that she needed some fresh air. Well…air in general. NYC's air wasn't all that fresh. Emerald walked outside and stood on the middle of her drive way and looked all around her. It was a beautiful day, a bit chilly, but beautiful. She looked down at her camera, toying with the strap before holding it up to her face and turning it on, she decided that she was bored and looked through the viewfinder for anything interesting. Emerald found herself turning the camera up, down, sideways, upside down until….finally. She saw something that peaked her interest…very much. Her eyes widened as she looked through the viewfinder, seeing that familiar red and blue getup. But this time, no mask. 'Damn it! His back is to me! I can't even see his face! Turn around goddamn it!' She had the urge to scream out at the local web swinger. All she was seeing was his back and the back of a brunette head. 'And in broad daylight…hmph?'
"Emerald?!" Rosi's voice could be heard as she slammed the front door shut.
Emerald fumbled to catch her DSLR and caught it at the last second, she fumbled to look at the screen. Her face wrinkled and she shook her head, he was turned towards the camera alright, but it was freaking BLURRY! Emerald looked back up at where she saw him to see…nothing. She let out a strangled sigh before composing herself and turning towards her aunt with a bright yet scary smile. Her aunt gave her a strange look before opening Gramp's car. "What happened to you under a few seconds? That smile is scaring me, sweetie." Emerald laughed and then shook her head while walking over to Rosi as she sat down in the front seat and started the car, "Taking Gramp's car? Did he take the bus again?" Rosi nodded and then tossed her the keys to the second car, "Yep. Now be careful, ok? We both won't be here till after 11:00 pm. You'll be ok in the house alone, right?" Emerald sighed and then rested a hand on her hip, giving Rosi 'The Look'. Rosi chuckled and nodded her head, "I'll take that as a yes." Soon, the car along with Rosi were out of sight.
Emerald struggled to turn on her camera again, she looked down at the picture she took and pouted. 'I was so close to finding out who he was. Had to wear a mask, huh?'
"You know, if you really wanted a picture of me…you could have said so. Emerald."
Emerald screamed out, almost dropping her camera again only to have Spider-man catch it with his super fast reflexes. She sighed with relief and gently took the camera back from him. Then she looked up to see him folding his arms across his chest and cocking his head to the side.
"What?! I-I wasn't taking a picture of anything! Besides, how did you even know I was outside?"
"That same excuse, huh?"
Emerald looked into his glassy yellow lenses and then shook her head after a while, she closed her camera and tucked it into it's bag.
"Well, now that I AM ready to take a picture. Why not take it?"
She looked up to see Spider-man striking a…strange pose. And by strange. She meant a pose where he was TRYING to be sexy.
"Oh god. Please stop. My eyes will fall out."
"Now that was just cruel. I'm that repulsive?"
"I never said you were repulsive."
"But you clearly said that your eyes would fall out."
"I was obviously exaggerating. I don't even know what you look like! I can't really determine if your repulsive or not if I haven't seen your face!"
"And you probably won't be seeing it for a while too."
"I had a feeling you were going to say that." Emerald sighed, 'I was this close to getting a face shot. Rosi just had to scare me. She just HAD to.'
"So. Why are you so dressed up on a Saturday?"
"I'd say the same to you, Spider-boy."
"Hey….hey…no need to get fierce. I was just curious."
"I have a life you know." Emerald looked down at her watch and her eyes nearly bulged out, she gasped and then ran to her car, opening the door.
"Hey! Where are you going?!"
"No time to talk! I gotta go! Nice seeing you Spidey!" She slammed the door and quickly started the engine, carefully stomping down on the pedal to pull the car out of the drive way. She put the gear on drive and quickly sped out of her neighborhood and towards the shopping center of Forest Hills. She sighed with relief when she realized that she was right on schedule and that she wouldn't be late to work. Emerald turned on her CD player and began singing along with Determinate from Lemonade Mouth. She loved that song, it was stuck in her head lately. Soon she was shaking her head and whipping her hair around during the red light. "Determinate! Determinate! You and me together we can make it better!"
"You almost ran me over, Miss Determinate!"
She let out a scream and looked in the mirror to find Spider-man all lax and normal in her backseat. His feet were propped up and his arms were behind his head. "What the hell are you doing in my car?! How did you even get in here!?"
"That is for you to find out."
"GET OUTTA MY CAR!"
"What's the rush?"
"I have to go work!"
She turned her head to glare at him and then turned it back and sped up to catch up with the green light, she made a right turn only to have another red light stop her.
"Now…why are you stalking me?!" She composed herself and then looked up at the mirror to find him shaking his head to the beat, there was a slight chuckle from him until he finally spoke.
"Just answer the question before I run you over."
"I was bored. I saw you and then I thought about how entertaining you are."
Her face flared up with embarrassment and anger, "That's it…that's the only reason you decided to almost cause a car crash?"
"Hey! I can't help the fact that you're a very distracted person!"
"I am NOT!"
"You just can't keep your eyes off of me."
"Do you want to be hung along a flagpole?"
"No. Not exactly, besides, you couldn't even do it if you tried."
"What makes you so damn sure?!"
"Super reflexes and fighting abilities. Remember?"
"You just LOVE to hear yourself talk, don't you?"
She sighed with frustration and then pulled up into the parking lot in front of Howie's Photo Supplies. She smiled slightly upon seeing the antique looking photography shop. 'Heaven.' She turned her head, expecting to see him still nodding his head along to her CD..only to find that he was gone. He wasn't there. She sighed with relief and then pulled out her camera bag and keys, she walked out, locking her car. She heard a loud yell of, "WOOHOO!" And stared up to find him web swinging away, probably off to save someone's life. She smirked slightly and then entered the shop right on time.
"Hey Howie!" A big man of about his mid 50's turned to see his bright employee and smiled while patting her back, he was almost like her father. Maybe more like a father figure. "Hey! There's little Em. You made it. Traffic?" She hesitated for a moment and then nodded slightly while rubbing the back of her neck, "Yes. Just a bit distracted." Howie smiled and then pointed to the Mac PC, that was where they made all their transactions and stuff. It had Photoshop so all Emerald had to do was plug in her flash drive and open up Peter's portrait in Photoshop and start editing.
"Any customers?" She plugged in her flash drive and then took a second to look at Howie's tall figure.
The man nodded his head, "It's been a bit busy, it's cooled down now. But they'll come back near the afternoon. Don't worry."
Emerald laughed and then nodded as she pulled up Peter's picture on Photoshop. She began examining it and experimenting with it with a bunch of Filters and gadgets. There was a chuckle behind her and she turned her head to see Howie watching her edit. "Boyfriend?"
Emerald's eyes widened as she choked on her own spit and coughed along until she felt composed. "Pardon?!"
"So. Is he special?"
"Not really, a friend actually. We have this project in Advanced Photo. I'm just editing his picture to make it all nice."
"Alright. That's a nice Filter, don't do too much to the picture. Maybe just a bit more sharpness and it'll be good. How about this, you work extra hard, and I'll let you print the picture here. For free."
"Ah! You mean it, Howie?!"
"Anything for you, Em."
"Thank you so much! I won't let you down!" She saved the edited photo onto her flash drive and pulled it out, tucking it into her camera bag and looking up to find a customer.
Emerald sighed with tiredness as she watched the last customer walk out, it was closing time now. 7:00 pm. Emerald rested her hands on the counter top to feel a papery envelope under her fingers, she jerked her head down to find a hand written name on the blank side. She cocked her head to the side, it was for her. 'Well. This is new.' She heard footsteps coming towards her and turned to Howie with a confused expression etched into her features. "Howie? What's this?" He looked up from something in his hands and then walked up next to her and stared down at the mysterious envelope. "Ah. That came by this morning, I forgot to tell you, it's for you so I didn't intrude."
"I appreciate that, Howie."
"It's a matter of privacy. Well, a deal's a deal. Here's your picture."
She gently took the beautiful glossy print paper from him and smiled down at the Photoshopped picture of Peter. She cocked her head to the side and nodded before carefully pulling out a folder from her bag and gently shifting it in. She turned to look down at the enigma of a letter and picked it up once more. She began to inch closer to the front door and then waved a hand, "I'll see you tomorrow, Howie!"
"See you too, lassie! You're getting paid tomorrow too, don't forget!"
"That's great! See you!"
Then she walked out to the chilled air of NYC and then closed her eyes tightly as she felt her nose automatically freeze up. 'Ah! Damn it! It always happens!' She breathed out and watched as a tiny blob of air escaped her and visibly appeared before her. She shook her head and then unlocked her car and slammed the door shut. She stared down at the letter with slightly narrowed eyes, she began to quickly rip the envelope.
Midtown Science High Kids!
It's Tiffany and Sophie!
"We're holding a race tonight, yes, a race with cars. Guess what the best part is! There are cars provided for willing racers! Sophie's father is trying to advertise his new models to the teenage world and what better way then by contacting local high schoolers! 1st place winner will receive $10,000, 2nd: $5,000, and 3rd: $500! But remember, if you are coming, this is to be kept secret. From everyone, this race is not authorized and will be held in a deserted area. If you are interested, just follow the directions below and be there at 8 pm sharp! Can't wait!"
Emerald's eyes sparked with mischief as the prizes caught her eyes. She smiled slightly, 'This could help us easily pay a couple month's worth of bills! I gotta enter this race! One way or another! But first. I should show Haley!' The names of the girls also seemed familiar. She cocked her head to the side and gasped as they clicked, 'It's the girls from my PE class. They were on Flash's team!' Emerald quickly threw her car to drive and sped carefully along towards Haley's house in Forest Hills.
"Soo?! What do you think?!" Emerald stared at her confused friend with excitement and a tad bit of crazy in her eyes.
"What do I think? What do I think?! I think you're nuts! I can't believe you want to go to this! Do you know how much trouble you could get in to! What if you got hurt?! What would Rosi do?!"
"Jesus, Haley. What's with the sudden sensibility?"
"God! Enough jokes, Em! Ever since that incident that happened to you on your way home from the party…I've been a bit more alert and scarred."
Emerald stopped smiling and then gave her worried friend a soft smile, she hugged her and then replied back after a few moments. "Everything will be ok. I can handle myself you know. And besides, that Spider-man will probably find me again."
"Well…yeah. We had a bit of a run in this morning."
"What?! What happened? Tell me! Did you kiss?!"
"WHAT?! Oh god, no, nothing like that. I was going to go to work when he magically popped up and started talking to me. And then I almost ran him over and he somehow had gotten into my car as I was driving to work."
"Woah! I told you he was stalking you!"
"He is NOT. It's just a..coincidence."
"Ok, Now you're just in denial."
"I am not!"
"Oh crap! I gotta get going! I'm going to drive by the house and drop off the car, I think I'll walk there. It's actually very close."
"I think I've rubbed off on you."
"You think? I think I'm just letting out my more curious and adventurous side."
"No..I think you've officially gone crazy."
"Oh goodbye already!"
"Oh Sophie! Look! It's the girl who kicked Flash's ass!" Emerald fake smiled at both Tiffany and Sophie as they turned to greet her, and in the most snobby way.
"Right. What..what was your name again?" Tiffany stared at her outfit with a slight sneer/fake smile.
The green eyed rebel narrowed her eyes at the two before smirking and replying with a bit of venom in her voice, "Emerald."
"Ah! Right, you have such a pretty name!" Sophie gushed awkwardly.
"Is that your real hair color?!" Tiffany cocked her head to the side while slightly flicking a strand of Emerald's wavy long hair.
"Yes. It is, I don't dye my hair. It'll fall out faster, I prefer natural things." She smiled as one of the girls put a hand up to her hair and stared at her with a frightened look.
It was silent for a while until Tiffany cleared her throat and pointed her manicured finger at a certain direction, "If you're here to sign up for the race, the table is that way."
Emerald nodded and quickly retreated from the two girls as fast as she could, she looked around at all the model cars with the cool flame body art and nice vivid colors with spoilers and nice wheels. 'Crud. I should've brought my camera!' She cursed herself and clutched her side purse closer to herself as she finally stood behind a tall boy with the word 'Swag' shaved into the back of his head. She stared at it with confusion and shook her head, 'That's new.'
"Next." Said a rather large man from his seat. He had a pen and a sheet of paper with a bunch of names on it, she walked up to the table and raised her eyebrows at the man.
"Really?" She snorted with a smirk on her face.
The man stared up at her with annoyance, "Yes. Really."
"I don't really see why, I mean, this is basically an illegal race, what's the point?"
He stared at her with a dull look on his face, but then there was also a mix of hate and tiredness. "Look chick. It's either you sign up, or you don't. Which one is it?"
"Fine. Keep your pants on." She bent over and began to scribble down her name on the paper and pen he offered her. She walked out of the line after she showed her ID and began to walk towards a line of cars until a guy stopped her, he stared at her with a smile.
"Oh! Sorry. Hi. I'm Jack. From our Anatomy class?"
She furrowed her eyebrows for a second but then they shot up as she recognized him as the guy who worked at the gas station, that mugger had knocked him out. "Ah! Jack! Hey. What..are you doing here?" She smiled up at his cute features which consisted of bright gray eyes and black straight hair that was spiked up, whenever he smiled, little dimples popped up. She couldn't help but stare at them.
"I volunteered to help the racers to their assigned cars."
"Well, that fat bag at the table failed to mention that."
He let out a loud chuckle and then rested his hand on the curve of her back, pushing her forwards, "Ya. He's a scrooge, don't mind him though. Come on. You've got a pretty decent car." Now she was excited to see her car, they walked on for a few more minutes until they finally stopped at a beauty. Her jaw dropped and she stared at the Chevy Camaro with a dumbstruck look. It was the new model, but newer. More upgraded with high tech gadgets and illegal speed boosters. She smirked, 'Of course.' Emerald turned to see Jack writing down something and sticking it to the car, then he handed her one as well, "You're number 20. The race won't be starting until 8:30. So you're good for a while. Good luck, Blondie." Emerald's eyes widened as she saw him grin her way and walk off with a quick wink. She felt the heat rush to her face, she smiled as well but then quickly pinched herself to reality. "Alright, calm down, girl. Fast and Furious, here I come!"
Emerald walked away from the cars and leaned against a deserted warehouse, watching all the guests and teenagers chatter away, smoke and drink. She sighed deeply and stared down at her phone, then she looked back up only to feel a hand clamp over her mouth, she let out a muffled scream and tried her best to kick as she was led around the back of the warehouse. She finally bit down only to feel a strange spandex material. "Ouch!"
"Spider-man?! What the HELL are you doing here?!"
"I had a bad feeling when I got that letter in the mail. You suddenly popped up into my head and behold, here you are! Making trouble!"
"I am not making trouble!"
"I wouldn't be surprised if you ate a bowl of Troublemaker every morning."
"So! You go to Midtown!" This sparked her curiosity to a whole new level, a clue! There was a slight hesitation from him and she knew that she had nailed it.
"…Yes. But that's not the point! I'm getting you out of here before something bad happens!"
"Nothing is going to happen! Look at how deserted this place is!"
Emerald knew that she just had to stop talking. Suddenly there were sirens wailing and the voices of policemen echoed all the way to the back of the warehouse. Her eyes widened and she stared up to see Spider-man crossing his arms across his chest and cocking his head to the side. "Don't give me that look! I can't help the jinx!"
"I'm getting you out of here and that's final."
"WHAT could possibly be anymore important than escape, Emerald?!"
"Tho-those papers! The papers with all the participants!"
"People will get into trouble, including me!"
"Well, you should have thought before you idiotically decided to come here!"
"Cover me!" She turned away from him and ran out, dodging the screaming and yelling crowd of teenagers, she ran and ran until she finally saw the desk. And there! The papers! She jumped over an unconscious and trampled teenager until she finally managed to get to the table. Emerald swiped the papers up in her arms and yelped as Spider-man quickly wrapped an arm around her waist and lifted her up into the air. Soon they were retreating from the deserted yet caught area. "So much for the grand prize."
"You're worried about the money?! When you could have been arrested for illegal operations!"
"Can you at least hear me out before coming to conclusions?!" She yelled out as they now swung into the more city part of Forest Hills. The pace of the web swinging was giving her heart mini flips and cartwheels, she gripped onto Spider-man's shoulders a bit tighter.
"I thought that if I could at least earn some kind of cash, it would make my Aunt and Grandpa's life a bit more easier and lax..at least for a few months. They wouldn't be going all crazy for the bills every time. I just want them to relax a little. I want to spend a WHOLE day with them. I hate it when they always come back home late. It just isn't right. But what am I complaining for? Other people have it worse than I do." She rested her head against his neck awkwardly and sighed deeply, trying to block off the emerging emotions and tears.
There was silence…and then he finally spoke after a while of hesitation.
"I'm sorry for being so mean to you. I was just worried."
"Worried, about little old me?"
"You're pushing it, Emerald."
"Sorry. Thank you though. I appreciate all that you've been "coincidentally" doing." Emerald smiled at the slight chuckle that she received from him, she closed her eyes for a while when she felt the vibrations from his throat tickle her skin.
"Anytime. But what are you going to do with those participant papers?"
She sighed and then opened her eyes and turned to see that they were in her neighborhood now, "I'm going to burn them, so that there is no evidence."
"So you did lie about being illegal."
"Oh just hush." They both chuckled gently and finally, with one big jump, they had landed at her front porch yet again. She rummaged through her side purse and pulled out her house keys. Then she took a quick glance to check the time, "9:00. Great."
"They won't be home until after 11."
"Tell me about it."
There was yet another moment of silence, she's been having that lately, and with a lot of people. Which was starting to really bug her actually.
"Do you want to drink some hot coco with me?"
"Are you asking me out?"
"No. I'm just asking for some friendly company."
"Or are you busy?"
"As long as the police scanner stays silent, I'm free."
"Alright. Well, come on in. And try not to scare the bird."
"You have a bird?"
"Yep! She's an Eclectus!"
"Oh..my..god. She's red and blue."
"She can be your sidekick."
"Sit down, I'll put on a movie and start on the coco."
She smirked at his comment and then threw a couple of CD's at him which he automatically caught and began to shuffle through. Then she strutted into the kitchen and pulled out Dunkin Donut's hot coco packets. She LOVED their hot chocolate. Nothing could beat theirs. Her opinion though.
*A/N: You don't know how HAPPY I was to see all the favs and reviews! Well, actually, you probably do. Nevermind what I said! Lol. But you get what I mean! I was seriously doing my happy dance every single time I saw something. Thank you SOOO much, you faithful reviewers! I really do hope to see you again!
spider-man fan: Thank you sooo much! I'm so glad to see that you are liking Emerald so far! I wanted to make her personality as likable as possible! I'm trying, see! XD Anyway, I was actually planning on Emerald finding out BEFORE she fell in love with Spidey/Peter. I have an image in my head and I'm planning to make it accidental and dramatic! I can't wait, but that won't be for a while..a very long while. So hold on for a bit! Anyway, thank you soooooooo much for the lovely review!
BubbleGum Crisis: Thank you sooo much for the review! I really appreciate it! I'm glad to hear that you are liking the scenes in the story, to be honest, it takes me a while to imagine some funny and corny lines to put into the story...I seriously have to be just sitting there and thinking silently before I can come up with something. XD But I think I failed to mention this, which I'm sorry for, I should have put it as a note or something, but this takes place AFTER the incident with Dr. Curt Conners, so post movie. I basically took the promise that Peter made and made it true, so far, Gwen and Peter are just awkward friends that still have feelings for one another. I was thinking of making some kind of scenes with them, you know, to make it dramatic and realistic. In my opinion, I don't want it to be ALL about Emerald. Anyway, thank you so much again for the lovely review! I hope you guys enjoy this chapter as well!
I can't wait for the next chapter! Fav and Review to your heart's content, see you later!**