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For Love: Chapter 1 - Friends

Title: For Love
Author: htbthomas
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1680 words
Summary: "Love can do strange things to a person..." A rash of mysterious crimes all over New York City draw Spider-Man and Captain Stacy into a working relationship, as Peter and MJ try to work out their issues. Post—SM3.

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Chapter Links: Prologue | 1


Chapter 1: Friends

“Bohr found an explanation for the quantization rule of angular momentum. He theorized that for a very large orbit…” Gwen wrote down Dr. Connors’ words, but they didn’t really make any sense right now, not when her eyes kept drifting over to the empty desk Peter usually occupied.

Truth to tell, they hadn’t really spoken since that disastrous date at the jazz club. She had wanted to speak to him at the funeral, but he hadn’t said a word to anyone, seemingly lost in his own thoughts. But the haunted look in his eyes that day had made her want to wrap him in a consoling hug, to assure him that she was there for him.

The long ride home, she was bothered by that urge she had felt. He’d hurt her, acted like a complete ass, all to make his ex-girlfriend jealous. Why do I attract the losers? she had wondered ruefully. First Dennis in high school, then Kevin in college, and oh, God, Eddie... Is there something about me that brings it out in them?

Gwen tried to push those depressing thoughts away. After seeing Peter at the funeral, she couldn’t help but feel that the strange dark side she’d seen wasn’t really him. Yeah, but no one goes all Jekyll and Hyde without a reason, the voice of her father cautioned. He may have been suppressing that side all along, but it’s still there, lurking beneath the surface. Do you really want to associate with someone like that – knowing they could turn on you at any moment?

She shook her head, trying to refocus on the class. Her father had always lectured her about being far too trusting, even though he actually loved that part of her personality. Gwen truly believed that a good friend didn’t abandon you at the first sign of trouble – and that’s what she and Peter had become this semester. They were more than lab partners…

But they’d also be no more than friends. After witnessing the look between Peter and Mary Jane that night, she knew for certain that she should stay well out of that. Gwen could only hope that Peter hadn’t damaged his relationship with Mary Jane beyond repair.

“…calculate the lifetime of high angular momentum states then what would we be able to obtain?” Dr. Connors looked around the lecture hall for any takers. Gwen blushed a little, trying to avoid his attention. “What would we obtain?” he repeated futilely over the students’ blank stares. With a frustrated sigh, Dr. Connors began to answer his own question, “We would obtain that the de—”

“—decaying of high excited states would approximate the spiraling in of a classical electron rotating around the proton.” Everyone turned toward the voice of the person who had stepped into the room. Peter’s face was haggard, but at least he was here. And only… she glanced at the clock on the wall behind him… twenty minutes late.

“Correct, Mr. Parker.” Dr. Connors nodded in grudging approval. “At least you seem to be keeping up with the readings, if not with your attendance.”

Looking contrite, Peter made his way to his seat. She tried to send him a compassionate look – Dr. Connors must not be aware of Peter’s recent tragedy, she’d have to quietly inform him – but he wasn’t meeting hers or anyone else’s eyes.

She couldn’t deny her relief at seeing him in class, though. It meant he was starting to get his life back to normal. They needed to talk… but would he be willing to talk at all?

An hour later, class ended and people started to move away in small clusters, talking about what they were going to do that night, or whether so-and-so had understood a word of that lecture… And Gwen stood up, almost expecting to see an empty seat again… but instead Peter was still there in his desk, doodling in a corner of his notebook.

She walked over to him, her back to the light streaming through the mini blinds. When her silhouette cast a shadow across the paper, and he looked up with surprise, hand twitching over the design he had made. Interlocking hearts? “Oh, hi, Gwen.”

“Hi, Peter. How are you doing?” She tilted her head slightly in concern.

He smiled tightly. “Okay. Fine, I guess, considering…”

She stretched out a hand to lay gently on his arm, and when he didn’t flinch, she left it there. “Can we talk?” She sat at the desk beside him. “I know things have been rough lately…”

His wide blue eyes widened even further and then he grimaced, dropping his gaze to his hands. “I’m surprised you want to talk to me at all, after what happened.”

“Well…” she answered, a hint of a smile on her lips, “it was a pretty crappy thing to do.”

Peter glanced back up, but seemed to understand that she wasn’t going to castigate him here. “I’m sorry,” he said in a low voice. “I wasn’t really my—” He cut off what he had been about to say. “I was acting really selfishly, and I was a jerk to you and MJ… I’m just glad you don’t hate me.”

“Love can do strange things to a person,” she offered, to give him an out. “How are things with Mary Jane, by the way?”

“We’re… we’re talking, anyway. Beyond that?” He shifted uncomfortably. “I think we’re gonna be okay.”

“That’s good.” Gwen made to rise, gathering her books in her arms. “Hey, I have to go. I’ll see you in lab tomorrow, okay?”

“See you then,” he affirmed, but she could see the relief in his posture.

As Gwen left the lecture hall, she saw Peter slowly get up and walk over to Dr. Connors. Maybe he was going to explain to their professor about his recent absence, and she wouldn’t need to say anything at all.

At that moment, her cell phone shrilled in her bag, and she fumbled inside to open it one-handed. “Hello?”

“Gwen Stacy?” Gwen didn’t recognize the voice. Who could be calling at this number?

“Yes, this is she…” She continued to walk toward her next class, face puzzled.

“This is Kassandra, at the agency?” a woman asked in a bored voice. “We have a job for you, if you’re interested.”

Oh… “What is it?” Nothing with office products, I hope… or in a skyscraper… she shivered.

“It’s for Perlman cosmetics,” Kassandra drawled, sounding like she was reading from her computer screen. “They’re looking for models with specific body types, and you fit one of the profiles.”

Gwen frowned slightly, but kept it out of her voice. “When and where?” She hadn’t taken a job since the crane accident, but if she wanted to keep working, she couldn’t keep turning offers down…

“Saturday, 9am to noon, Central Park...” The receptionist trailed off as if she was about to stop wasting her time with another stuck-up diva and call someone else.

“Sure,” Gwen hurried to agree, sitting on a nearby bench. “Let me get out a pen…”

After she took down the information and ended the call, she wondered whether she had really made the right decision. It would be nice to have a little spending money, maybe get my own place…

The piercing sound of approaching sirens suddenly filled her ears, and she turned, just like everyone else in the courtyard, to see a large fire truck barreling south down Broadway. And none too soon, she realized. As distracted as she had been today, she hadn’t even noticed the smell of smoke…

Gwen ran toward the blaze, drawn with other students to stare in shock and amazement. One of Columbia’s landmarks, the Miller Theater, was on fire! Smoke poured out of the front entrance and flames were beginning to lick at the marquee, charring the edges of the sign. The fire truck screeched to a halt, spilling firefighters and equipment onto the sidewalk. Thank God it was lunchtime on a Tuesday, hopefully no one was actually inside…

A shout directed her attention upward. “Spider-Man!” Gwen’s heart leapt in her chest. Even though he had saved her life, she had never actually seen him in action.

With amazing speed and fluid grace, the red and blue superhero whizzed overhead, landing on the rooftop of the theater. As she watched, heart pounding, he disappeared into the roof access. Is someone really trapped inside? At this time of day?

She waited, inching ever closer to the front of the growing crowd, eyes scanning the building with growing fear. The minutes passed with excruciating slowness as she waited for some sign that he was okay.

Suddenly the stage door burst open and Spider-Man staggered out, a young blonde woman in his arms. A ripple of relief spread through the crowd, and Gwen released a breath she didn’t realize she was holding. He lifted the woman into the arms of a firefighter – she coughed weakly and tried to stand.

As Spider-Man spoke quietly with the rescue workers, she noticed that his costume seemed brilliant against the woman’s soot-covered clothing and long hair. In her eyes, he was larger than life, so incredible in his dedication to the city… she found herself shouting out to him almost before she could stop, “Good job, Spider-Man!”

The hero tilted his head to look at her in surprise. Does he remember me? A blush crept up her face. Does he remember that kiss?

A chorus of cheers and congratulations sprang out all around her, and he gave the crowd a jaunty wave. It didn’t seem specifically directed at her, but how could a person really tell with his eyes hidden beneath that mask? He sprang into the air, gliding on the gossamer thread of his webbing, off into the city blocks to the east and out of sight.

Gwen stood there watching the way he had gone for a few minutes, as the crowd around her slowly dispersed. A warm feeling spread across her chest. Maybe she had terrible luck with men, maybe Peter Parker was a lost cause… but Spider-Man?

He occupied her thoughts all the way to the subway entrance.

Comments

( 21 comments — Leave a comment )
jenn_1
Jun. 5th, 2007 05:52 pm (UTC)
Sorry I don't have any Gwen icons...

Good chapter on Gwen. You may have me actually like her... I can't stand her that much from what I've heard in the comics. She was okay in the movie.

Poor Peter. sniff
htbthomas
Jun. 5th, 2007 06:02 pm (UTC)
Well, she wasn't treated very well... and I actually like her in SMLMJ, don't you? So even though I'm a Peter/MJ shipper, I like to see the supporting characters get their fair shake! :)

Yes, poor Peter, he's got a lot to clean up now after all of that mess...
sarah531
Jun. 5th, 2007 06:28 pm (UTC)
Yay Gwen! I rather liked her.

You're doing a great job on this- it's just like I imagine she and those around her would react, after the events in the movie...
htbthomas
Jun. 5th, 2007 06:33 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the praise! I wanted to set the stage with some reactions (although there have been some plot-related bits of foreshadowing already).

I'm so glad you're reading! ♥
stolenpostit
Jun. 5th, 2007 09:16 pm (UTC)
You are seriously a very good writer. I forgot about the music that's playing and the soup I'm eating (it got cold, thank you very much) because I was just lost in this story. Can't wait to read more.
htbthomas
Jun. 5th, 2007 09:21 pm (UTC)
Thank you! I think... :D I hope you'll be able to heat that soup up again!

I appreciate the reviews and praise. *hugs*
coltdancer
Jun. 5th, 2007 10:11 pm (UTC)
Hey! Hey, hey! Remember me? I used to read your stuff? Lookie! I am reading a Spidey story of yours now! :) I thought this would be a good time to slide in...first chapter, freshly watched and reviewed SM3...why not?

I do not know much about Gwen from the comicverse...I do like how your characterization flows with SM3's of her - that she is not the typical wrench in a relationship...she is actually a good person with a wonderful personality. Her horror at Peter's actions at the jazz club but her ability to accept his bit of an apology and feel empathy for him with recent events attests to her character. I shall be waiting for more...what a rude awakening she could be in for!

And poor Pete. :( He's taken a pounding.
htbthomas
Jun. 5th, 2007 10:19 pm (UTC)
Do I remember? Whee! I'm so excited that you started reading this!

I think that Gwen in the movieverse has a lot of potential. Her personality is pretty much the same in the comics (although in Ultimate Spider-Man she was quite different), but she is completely different as a plot element. I'm looking forward to exploring this post-SM3 dynamic with her!

When did you see the movie?
coltdancer
Jun. 5th, 2007 10:26 pm (UTC)
We went to see the movie on the day of our March of Dimes walk. When the walk was canceled due to severe weather, we took the Nikki-boo back home and then went to a "before noon" showing that first Sunday in May. $5. :) We of course made up for the cheaper tickets by buying popcorn and sodas, but hey. It is hard to resist the lure of butter and popcorn.
sean_montgomery
Jun. 5th, 2007 10:47 pm (UTC)
Say it with me, Barb... GWEN!! ; )

Ruh-roh, though! Looks like Gwen has her hands full (or, rather, Peter). It's sad to see her in this state, but heading after Spidey after all of this? Dashing, daring, romantic... and dangerous! She'd better know what she's getting herself into!

Good start, Barb! Can't wait to see more!
htbthomas
Jun. 5th, 2007 11:32 pm (UTC)
GWEN!!

Whew, got that out... now, of course, with Gwen's bad luck with men, who wouldn't want a dashing hero? There's only one problem, though, isn't there?

Thanks again! *kiss*
afterglow81
Jun. 5th, 2007 11:06 pm (UTC)
Very well written!

much as I am a peter/mj advocate...I do have a huge soft spot for Gwen. :)
htbthomas
Jun. 5th, 2007 11:35 pm (UTC)
Oh, yay, I'm glad you liked it!

I found the same thing. Love Peter/MJ, couldn't help but feel for Gwen!

I see you also have a soft spot for Otto... :)
skalja
Jun. 6th, 2007 04:32 am (UTC)
You know, one of the things I really liked about Spider-Man 3 is that they actually took pretty much all of what we know about Gwen from the comics and made her interesting. And you've carried that through well, here. Nicely done!
htbthomas
Jun. 6th, 2007 11:53 am (UTC)
Thanks! I hope people will enjoy this version of her I'm exploring, especially since I'm not pairing Peter/Gwen. She was really interesting and I wish we'd gotten to see a bit more of her. The novel did fill out her personality a bit more (there's a scene when Eddie tries to visit her at the house that I particularly liked).

Reviews = ♥
fairfax_verde
Jun. 6th, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
Great chapter! Your writing is amazing, I can see the time and research you put into it from the end result. I'm glad to see you taking on the unresolved issues from the movie. I like how you're writing Gwen, I don't know enough about her from the comics to like or dislike her, and there really wasn't much to go on in the movie. And who couldn't relate to her crush on Spider-Man? ;-) Looking forward to more!
htbthomas
Jun. 6th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
I'm glad to see you taking on the unresolved issues from the movie.

That's one of my favorite things to do as a writer! I love playing with themes... it doesn't feel like research! :D
jenna_knight
Jun. 7th, 2007 05:11 am (UTC)
I really like Gwen's perspective. Is she going to narrate the whole story? You've captured her really well.

Its nice to see Peter in class, even if he's coming late (though he's obviously dealing with a lot). That's always been my favorite part of fics, the contrast of the everyday college life and his responsibility as a hero. I hope to see more of this, particularly with Gwen.

Great job!
htbthomas
Jun. 7th, 2007 11:24 am (UTC)
Gwen won't narrate the whole story. In fact, I intend for the POV to move around again, like my other Spidey stories. I love Lois, but I like all the characters in the Spidey-verse and I want to play with them more! Thus far, for the first 5 parts, it's: Stacy, Gwen, Peter, Stacy, MJ... and then I don't know. Stacy and Peter will get the most POV time, though, with Gwen and MJ secondary.

I hope to do more class scenes, and definitely everyday scenes, to contrast with the A-plot.

Thanks for the reviews!
mark_clark
Jun. 8th, 2007 11:20 am (UTC)
I cannot believe I forgot to review this chapter here. D'oh!! Well, here we go now then.

I really like how you use Gwen here. We never saw her all that much in SM 3, so I hope she's around a little bit more.

It was nice to see Gwen and Peter talk, even though it was just a bit. Peter was able to apologize for what happened at the jazz club and he let her know that things between him and MJ are getting better.

Loved her reaction to seeing Spidey in action. Now, it appears that she has a crush on Spider-Man just like the one MJ had in the first movie. There must be something about a man in tights. Fantastic job, as always.
htbthomas
Jun. 8th, 2007 01:05 pm (UTC)
That's okay, hon! No worries!

Gwen and Peter will get to talk more in future chapters, since I didn't feel that a long talk would be appropriate. Just something simple to say that they were okay with what happened.

And yes, the crush begins... but it won't end quite the same for her as MJ or Lois!
( 21 comments — Leave a comment )

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