Well, I was going to put this off until Saturday, but I read the reviews and figured that I probably should just upload this today.
Chapter 8: Isn't That Kinda Weird?
"So, you're Doc Ock's current employer, huh?"
"Doc Ock. How quaint. Yes, I am the doctor's employer."
"Heard there's twenty thousand dollars for me if I do this job. Good enough for me. Go on, spill."
"I want you to kidnap someone."
"Yes, I got that part, thanks."
"A teenaged girl named Gwen Stacy. I'll send you a picture so you can properly identify her. You should be able to find her at Midtown Science High School."
"Am I allowed to ask why, or are you one of those crazies who don't want anyone to know?"
"She's just the ends to a means. It really doesn't matter what happens to her, as long as you get the real target; Spider-Man."
"The oh-so-amazing Spider-Man, eh? She the girlfriend of him of him or something?"
"Perhaps. The info I got was slightly out of date, but I know for certain that she at the very least helped Spider-Man foil the Lizard's plan. Not to mention, no superhero would leave an innocent in peril."
"So lemme get this right. You want me to kidnap someone, in order to kidnap a superhero? Kinda roundabout, don't ya think? I mean, how am I supposed to contact this web-slinger, anyways? Go on national television?"
"No! I mean, no. I don't want any extra nuisances like the Avengers. Are you saying that you can't find a discreet way to contact Spider-Man? What am I paying you for?"
"You're not paying me just yet. I'm just wondering- if I'm going out of my way to contact Spider-Man anyways, why don't I just attack him in person in the first place? It would be a lot easier."
"Can you do it or not?"
"I can do it, sure, but I want an extra ten thousand. I'm going against a superhero and I have to go to extra trouble for the kidnapping."
"So, again, are you downright crazy or are you just really stupid?"
"Just do the job. And may I remind you that if you fail to capture Spider-Man I'll personally assure your death."
"Crazy, huh? Don't worry. Superhuman he may be, but any webs he flings at me will be useless. After all, I'm Molten Man. Burning is my calling card."
"So, I mean, I don't want to butt in or anything, but could you, I don't know, try to make up with Parker? 'Cause I think you two are negatively influencing the first ever Spider-Man fan club's morale."
Gwen clenched her books closer to her breast, scowling. She shot Flash a look. The two of them were heading back to their respective homes after a long day of school. Or rather, Gwen had been trying to get home when Flash had decided that it would be a good idea to talk about 'club morale'.
"Flash, I hate to break this to you, but club morale was nonexistent from the start," Gwen pointed out. "You're the only one who's really a big fan of Spider-Man."
"Not true. Carlie said that she's a Spider-Man fan. And, Parker tries to hide it, but I can tell that he knows a lot about Spider-Man," Flash insisted. He opened the door leading outside. Gwen waited for a few moments for Flash to leave, but after it became apparent that he wasn't leaving without her, Gwen reluctantly exited the building. Flash, at her heels, continued to talk.
"He's such a dweeb anyways- I don't know why he doesn't want people to know he's a Spidey fan."
Gwen opened her mouth as if to say something, but closed it almost instantly. There was no need to defend Peter. After all, they had 'nothing to do with each other'.
"Well, who knows what he's thinking." Gwen muttered.
"You can say that again!" Flash let out a loud laugh.
Gwen winced at the sound. The laugh seemed a bit too forced and nervous for her liking.
"Flash, what happened between Peter and I may be none of your business, but I can tell you that we can't just make up," Gwen said firmly. "Besides, it's Peter that you should be talking to if you really want to successfully 'improve club morale'. It's not me that needs convincing."
"Wait, so you want to be friends with Parker again?" Flash asked, stopping underneath the school's archway. A mere few metres away, passer-by walked to and fro. Gwen stopped as well; she didn't really want to, but it would be rude not to.
"Of course not," Gwen said, shaking her head sharply. "Just saying that Peter's more stubborn than me, that's all."
"Right, sure," Flash muttered. His voice was clearly sceptical.
"Goodbye, Flash- woah." Gwen stumbled back. She had been pushed to the side by a heavily covered man.
"Hey, wow, look at that guy. His face is completely covered with that scarf! Isn't that a little weird?"
"It's cold, Flash. There's nothing wrong with wearing a scarf. Though, there is something wrong with not apologizing for knocking someone over." Gwen sighed. "Anyways, goodbye, Flash. See you tomorrow."
Gwen adjusted her backpack slightly before heading out into the crowd of passer-by; this time, without getting knocked aside.
As he waved goodbye, disappointed that his awesome plan to improve club morale had failed, his eyes landed on the weirdo from before. After a short moment of hesitation, he jumped into the crowd to follow him. His eyes strained to keep track of the weirdo with all the bustling passer-by around.
Obviously, Flash did have some doubts about the culpability of the 'weirdo'. The only thing he had done thus far was be rude. But, it wasn't as if Flash had anything better to do. That Biology homework could wait.
Besides, if the man wasn't planning something nefarious, all he would lose would be an hour or two. But, if the weirdo was planning to do some crime, he could become a hero for stopping him! It was a win-win situation both ways.
Of course, Flash didn't consider the possibility of the latter situation becoming dangerous.
Doctor Otto Octavius suppressed a sneer as he entered Osborn's office. It irked him, to have to be employed under such people like Osborn. Unfortunately, he wasn't blessed with seemingly endless supplies of money like some supervillains he knew. And as he knew that being on the side of angels would pay even worse than his current position, he had no other choice but to work as a morally-questionable-scientist-for-hire.
Octavius vaguely remembered a time when he was perfectly happy with his job as a menial researcher at a small-time company. But that had been back when he was a stupid little doormat, who let everyone just walk all over him.
That was before his greatest achievement, his mechanical arms, had merged with him.
Oh, some people- stupid people, idiotic people- had gone on an all-out crime spree the moment they had gotten superhuman powers. Drunk with the power of supervilliany, they had promptly gotten themselves captured by SHIELD or the Avengers; or now, even Spider-Man. But not Octavius, oh no. He knew better.
He gradually increased his circle of influence, jumping from mob boss to corrupt executive to mob boss. The supervillains that amazingly hadn't gotten themselves put out of commission were made his allies, either by a demonstration of strength/intelligence or by pretending to be their "friend". He couldn't get everyone on his side, of course, but he had been astonished at how most of the run-of-the-mill supervillains were easily swayed to become his ally.
It was amazing how many supervillains were basically just a big pile of self-esteem issues.
But despite his growing influence on the supervillains of New York, he was small fry still, especially without any money. So he continued to offer his services to anyone who caught his eye, hoping that he would be able to use one of them as a permanent source of cash.
Osborn had started out as a potentially good employer. He was smart, yes, which made Osborn arrogant. But he wasn't as smart as Octavius.- so given enough time, Octavius was certain he could've influenced Osborn to see things his way. With the type of money Osborn had, maybe he could've even found a way to get rid of everyday superheroing once and for all.
But no. Octavius let out a sigh as he regarded the fallen form of Osborn in front of him. Papers were haphazardly scattered across the floor around Osborn. Octavius gingerly stepped around a pool of a suspiciously green liquid, not wanting to be affected by a dubious substance.
Octavius dropped a piece of paper on Osborn's head, not really caring if he was dead or alive.
"I'm handing in my resignation," Octavius said, false regret in his voice. "Insanity is fine, really, but I can't have a dead employer, now can I? You were too desperate, trying to overcome that pesky disease. You willingly drank a probably poisonous substance, and if you aren't dead now, you will be."
Osborn let out a shallow groan.
"Oh. Alive, are you?" Octavius nudged Osborn with a foot, a somewhat maniacal smile on his face. "I would finish the job, but I really couldn't care less. I suppose your wimp of a son will inherit your company now, hm? I wonder how long it'll take until OsCorp is bought up by Stark Industries."
Osborn's hand, which was stretched out in front of him, clenched the threads of the lush carpet of his office. But he could do no more than that. He was too weak still.
"Goodbye, sir." Octavius' voice was full of sarcasm. "I'm afraid the Master Planner has had enough with you."
Octavius waded his way out of the room, carefully stepping between glass and green goo. He was already scanning a mental list of possible future employers.
Osborn was already out of Octavius' head.
But Octavius was most definitely not out of Osborn's.
"Here ya go, Agent Coulson."
Coulson silently accepted the file that was offered to him. It was a thick thing, but all the papers were neatly inserted between the two sides of the file. That was typical for a SHIELD file; when the fate of the country could rest on a file, agents couldn't waste time trying to figure out where all the important information was.
"This is all the new information on Richard and Mary Parker?" Coulson confirmed, leafing through the pages.
"Yup," the tech agent nodded. "We've got an extensive description of what they did at SHIELD, and we've really started to narrow down where they were possibly employed after they left."
"Narrowed down?" Coulson echoed. "So you haven't even figured out where exactly they worked."
"Well, I mean, we're talking sixteen years ago here. No Internet means a lot less info left behind," the agent sighed. "None of us have been having a lot of fun digging through scientific papers and magazines published back then."
Coulson, flipping through the file, stopped at a page full of photos. There were the official passport and driver's license photos as well as more casual ones.
"You seem to have many photos of Mary Parker, but only a few of Richard Parker," Coulson noted. The question he implied was obvious.
"Yeah, um..." the agent scratched his head awkwardly. "There are some people in the Biology department who were around when Mary Parker was employed, and well, she is- was- quite the looker..."
"I don't need to know exactly who you got the photos from," Coulson said, impassive as always. "Though, on second thought, I may have to make sure that they aren't currently engaging in any potentially harmful activities."
"Right, just, uh, say the word and I'll get the info," the agent said, fidgeting. One of his friends had supplied those photos, and he didn't want to rat him out. But he wasn't a field agent: far from it. He was just an IT guy who ended up working at a top-secret government organization. And so, unfortunately, he had never learned the mysterious technique of keeping a straight face.
"Perhaps later," Coulson said dismissively. "You seem to have quite a bit of info here."
"Yeah. I hope it's useful, because we all worked hard to get that," the agent said, a twinge of irritation in his voice. A second later, his brain caught up with his mouth, and his tone changed.
"Though, we're still working on it, and if it's not useful, well, we'll just have to try harder, huh?" the agent added on quickly, laughing nervously. "This job would be easier if we knew what we were looking for, you know..."
"I'm afraid it's above your pay grade, agent," Coulson said mildly. He briefly scanned Mary Parker's activities in the month before she left. His eyebrow rose slightly at the provided information.
"It says here that Ms. Parker attended a party hosted by Tony Stark a mere month before her resignation," Coulson commented.
"That's right. If I remember correctly, the boss of the genetics division back then figured that they might have a better chance selling their experimental biological weapon if they sent an attractive female to suggest the idea to Mr. Stark," the agent explained. He gave a short shrug. "The weapon turned out to be a flop, but luckily, Mr. Stark had no interest in it anyhow."
"Mary and Richard Parker both resigned because of Mary's pregnancy, correct?" Coulson murmured. It was a rhetorical question- the answer was right in front of him. "Tell me, when was Peter Parker's birthday?"
The agent tapped on the keyboard in front of him a few short times. "August 10th."
"Nine months after her trip to Stark's party," Coulson noted. "It's also interesting to see that the quality and quantity of work she did after the party lessened greatly. I wonder what SHIELD psychoanalysts would make of that?"
"I don't know. I decided against minoring in psychology at the last moment, so..." the agent trailed off when he realized that wasn't what Coulson had meant. "Right, I'll get them on it."
"No need," Coulson shook his head shortly. "But, I do want you to get some of our geneticists to do a paternity test with Peter Parker and Tony Stark's DNA."
"A paternity test? With Mr. Stark's DNA?" the agent said incredulously. He scratched his head, sighing. "Well, you're the boss. But I thought that we weren't gonna touch Mr. Parker's DNA?"
"We weren't going to experiment with Parker's DNA," Coulson corrected. "This is just a test, based off of an... educated guess. An interesting guess, but unlikely to be correct. But if it is..."
"If it is?"
"Above your pay grade," Coulson replied, his mouth quirking upwards.
So engrossed with following the strange man, Flash very nearly didn't notice Gwen right in front of the weirdo in the crowd of passerby. He briefly wondered if he would have problems with Gwen stopping him and asking him what he was doing, but that was probably wishful thinking.
Then again, maybe she would stop him in order to tell him that he was a stalker. A twinge of shame and embarrassment shot through him at the thought.
A tall businessman moved in front of him, blocking his view of the hooded man. By the time Flash had successfully pushed his way past the man, the weirdo was nowhere to be found.
Flash sighed and stepped into a sideway, not wanting to have to block someone's way by stopping in the middle of the sidewalk. It had been fun while it lasted, but he'd be better off heading home now. It wasn't as if it had been that important to follow that guy- wait, who was that turning the corner?
Sneaking into creepy alleys? Definitely suspicious.
Racing forwards- he wasn't on the American football team for nothing- he easily reached the corner of the building.
When he peeked out from behind the corner, he could see the man slowly walking down the alleyway, someone in front of him.
That someone glanced back, meeting his eyes for a brief second. Both their eyes widened, Flash's with shock and the other's with horror.
"Stop!" Flash cried, jumping out from behind the wall. "What are you doing with Gwen?"
"Great," the man muttered, his voice muffled by the scarf over his face. He turned around, shoving Gwen to the side with what was probably a pistol. "Complications. I'm not getting paid nearly enough for this."
He lifted up the gun from Gwen and towards Flash. It glinted dimly in the small amount of sunlight that had filtered in between the buildings.
"Piss off, kid," the man said disinterestedly. "I'll give you one chance to leave. You're lucky I don't want to deal with a corpse."
"I barely know him! He's just another member of the Spider-Man fan club, that's all!" Gwen blurted out, panicked. "Just go, Flash!"
"Yeah, yeah, I couldn't care les-" the man groaned.
"- that's right!" Flash cut in, scowling. "I'm a member of the Spider-Man fan club, that's all- and how could I ever face Spider-Man if I let my friend be kidnapped and possibly killed right in front of me!"
"Hm." the man cocked his head to the side, lowering the gun to the ground. Though his voice was still muffled, Flash could hear the interest in his voice. "You know Spider-Man, huh?"
"Flash, you can head home in five minutes- we're near 96th street, just go!" Gwen said desperately. She sounded slightly strange, though Flash couldn't place exactly what was wrong.
"Yeah, I know Spider-Man," Flash said determinedly, ignoring what Gwen had said for the moment. He was lying through his teeth- but hopefully, the man wouldn't notice. "And if you take Gwen right now, he'll definitely be on your tail!"
"Perfect," the man said cheerfully. He glanced back at Gwen, whose hands were behind her back. "Oh no, sweetie, just because the gun's not aimed at anyone doesn't mean you can try to escape."
The man wrenched Gwen's left arm towards him, keeping a tight grip on her wrist. The skin around her wrist slowly reddened. Gwen let out a small whimper, all while keeping her death glare trained on the weirdo.
"You really thought the gun was my only weapon?" the weirdo let out a snicker. "That was a weak burn, by the way. Unless you want a full out first degree burn, I suggest that you don't try to 'escape' again."
"What did you do to her?" Flash demanded, his eyes wide.
"Not important right now, kid," the weirdo drawled. "You've got a job to do, if you don't want your… club member to die. Go tell your buddy Spider-Man that I've got one Gwen Stacy in my custody, and if he doesn't get to Yelton's Warehouse pronto, I'll give the custody to a gloomy grey gravestone. Got that? Don't get any smart ideas about telling the police, though- or anyone other than Spider-Man. Your friend's life is forfeit if you do."
"What are you waiting for?!" Gwen snapped. Her face may have been paler than normal, but the fierceness behind her words hadn't faded.
Flash clenched his fists. He looked to the ground, not knowing what to do. He couldn't just leave Gwen to her death! Gwen knew just as well as he did that he had no idea how to contact Spider-Man.
But she was telling him to go….
"I can always find another way to contact the web slinger," the weirdo added in helpfully. He lifted up the gun again, aiming it straight at Flash's chest. "So, like she said- what are you waiting for?"
Flash looked up from the ground, a defeated look on his face. There was no way out. He had no choice but to just…
Flash's ears pricked. A voice was coming from above him.
"…he's waiting for me."
Flash looked up, his mouth opening wide. His eyes landed on Spider-Man, giving a little wave from his spot underneath a balcony.
"Heard you were looking for me," Spider-Man drawled. Flash could just imagine him giving them all a smirk. "Why don't you step away from the kids, huh?"
The calm before the storm… kinda. I'll do my best to get the chapter up quicker next time, but the muses work when they want to.