Peter, Debra and Felicia made their way down the University Promenade. Peter had his arms around the two girls' shoulders for support and they walked as quickly as they could without Peter stumbling. They were halfway across the Promenade and fortunately had not encountered anyone. Still, they could hear the police sirens behind them and saw traces of the blue and red flashing lights out of the corner of their eyes. No one dared to look back, but they knew more police were arriving on the ESU campus.
Because of the gravity of the situation, no one had spoken since they left the science building. It was Peter who first broke the silence, attempting to lighten the mood.
"It's a nice day for a walk."
"Mmmm," Debra grunted in response. Her body strained to support Peter's weight and she was in no mood to joke. They were all in danger, but Peter more so than anyone. How could he joke at a time like this? But that was Peter for you, Debra thought. He didn't seem to care about the danger he faced when he dressed up in that ridiculous costume. Debra wanted to shout back at him: Look where it got you this time! You almost died! But she didn't.
Felicia didn't respond but the joke made her think. Part of what she loved about Spider-Man was his quick, confident wit. It seemed so different now coming from Peter.
Debra pointed with her free arm, "My apartment's just two blocks east. We can cut through campus to avoid most of the streets." She remembered being reluctant to purchase an apartment so close to ESU. It was more expensive, but it was a short walk to the Science Labs and she had wanted to spend as much time as possible on her research. Now she was thankful that she had spent the extra money.
Felicia cursed under her breath. Debra looked around, searching for what had caused the reaction in Felicia. Debra could barely make out a figure in the distance, but she realized it must be a jogger approaching them.
Felicia cursed again and then said aloud, "Why is she even awake right now?" Debra realized that Felicia's eyes were much better than her own and that she had recognized the jogger in the distance.
The girl was currently running through the main stretch of the campus on a sidewalk that led to the gates of the University Promenade. She was headed right for them.
"Is there any other way to your apartment?" Felicia asked.
"Not really," Debra replied. "This way is the quickest and we avoid the streets."
"Great." Felicia mumbled.
"Who is she?" asked Peter.
"An old friend," Felicia sighed.
They pushed forward in silence as the jogger approached. Debra now recognized her as well. She remembered being in a few classes with her. The girl was wearing black spandex running shorts and a tight pink sports top. Her blonde hair was pulled back high on her head and it bounced as she ran. Debra would have normally shot the girl a disapproving look, but she knew better. She didn't want to draw the girl's attention. Debra noticed Felicia averted her eyes as well.
As the girl came closer, Felicia's heart began to pound. Why was she so nervous? She'd been in much worse situations before. She was just one, unarmed girl. But it was different. She was exposed. For the first time, Felicia began to understand the power behind the mask. Peter understood that better than anyone.
The jogger passed under the gates to the Promenade and was a mere ten feet away. The girl didn't appear to be paying attention as she ran. Felicia thought that they might actually be able to pass her without confrontation. Then the girl stopped suddenly. "Felicia?" She asked in amazement.
"Jenny!" Felicia replied. "Wow. It's been a while."
Felicia, Peter and Debra came to a halt.
"Yeah. I called you a couple times but you always seem so busy now, especially at night." Jenny responded.
"Well, you know." Felicia laughed. Jenny's perplexed expression seemed to say that she didn't know. Debra realized that this girl had no idea what Felicia really did. Before Jenny could ask her anything more, Felicia added, "What are you doing up right now? It's, like, insanely early!"
"I kinda started this fitness kick. You know, yoga, pilates, and stuff. I like to run before it gets too hot. I never thought I'd be an early…" The girls' gaze drifted over to Peter. "Um, is he OK? He doesn't look so good."
"I'm fine," Peter answered, trying to smile. He could barely keep his bloodshot eyes open and his head swayed woozily.
"Are you sure? Do you want me to get some help?" Jenny replied.
"No!" Felicia insisted a bit too forcefully. She collected herself. Lying was one of her strengths. She'd spent many years lying to men and even more lying to her mother. This shouldn't be any different. "He's just a little drunk. It was kind of a late night if you know what I mean. And God knows what else he had at the party! We're just gonna get him home and into bed."
"Oh," Jenny answered, but she did not seem entirely convinced. She suspiciously looked them up and down, taking note of the lab coats and Peter's bright red boots.
"Yeah, last night was kind of crazy. I have to tell you all about it. We should do lunch or go shopping!" Felicia suggested. She was surprised by how quickly she had slipped back into her carefree, ditzy persona. Now that she was pretending to be her old self she realized how much she had changed.
"That sounds great. There's this new bag over at…"
Felicia interrupted her, recognizing that they had already wasted enough time. "Oh, for sure. Look, I don't want to keep you from your run and we should really get him into bed." Felicia started walking again, and Debra and Peter followed suit. She called out afterwards. "I'll call you!"
Felicia looked over her shoulder. She saw Jenny shrug and then continue running.
"God, that was obnoxious," Felicia muttered in disgust. "Sorry it took so long."
"No, you did good." Debra couldn't believe that she was actually complimenting Felicia. But she had shown that she was quick on her feet. Even more surprising to Debra was that Felicia seemed disgusted by her ditzy act.
"Thanks," Peter laughed between a coughing spell. "I've always wanted to be known as a party animal."
"You still don't drink, do you?" Felicia asked. She remembered taking Peter to one of her mother's parties and he'd refused champagne. "I guess now I understand why."
They passed under the Promenade gates and cut behind one the campus buildings. Debra led them through a backstreet to her apartment building. A few cars passed them in the early morning but no one paid much attention.
They climbed the three flights of stairs to Debra's apartment and opened the door. Felicia and Debra laid him gently on Debra's beat up couch. Debra then ran back, closed the front door and breathed a sigh of relief.
"Guys…thanks," Peter sighed and then passed out, unable to keep his eyes open any longer.
"Now what?" Felicia asked, concerned that Peter did not seem to be getting better.
"Let him rest," Debra answered. "I need to go back and get the rest of the antidote."
To be continued….
Author's Note: Thank you so much for all the great reviews! I'm glad to see people are still interested in this fic. It should be a couple chapters more. I always have a basic outline for my stories but sometimes they take on a life of their own. Also, thank you again to Mark C and htbthomas for all their help.