Title: Demons and Angels, Prologue
Authors:htbthomas and Georgia Kennedy
Fandom: Spider-Man/Daredevil movieverse crossover
Pairings: Peter Parker/Mary Jane Watson; Matt Murdock/Jean DeWolff
Word Count: Prologue: 3,063 words
Summary: In this action-packed sequel to Twin Demons, Mary Jane's love for Peter is put to the ultimate test when Spider-Man and Daredevil battle a psychotic underworld assassin given super-human powers under a top-secret government program gone awry. Reading the first story is happily encouraged, but not necessary.
Disclaimer: This is a derivative work of fiction featuring characters copyrighted and trademarked by Marvel Characters, Inc. It is based upon: Spider-Man, copyright 2002 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., all rights reserved; Spider-Man 2, copyright 2004 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., all rights reserved; Daredevil - Director’s Cut, copyright 2004 by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., all rights reserved; and Hulk, copyright 2003 by Universal Studios, all rights reserved. Some story elements are drawn from Spider-Man 3, copyright 2007 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., all rights reserved. The authors are not connected with nor is this work authorized by Marvel Characters, Inc., or any of the aforementioned motion picture studios. This work is intended solely for posting on fanfiction websites, for the benefit and enjoyment of its intended audience. No commercial or financial benefit accrues or is intended to accrue to the authors as a result of said posting.
The authors would like to thank van_el for his invaluable service as our beta.
The reference to Captain Stacy and the crane accident comes from: Peter David, Spider-Man 3 - The Official Novelization of the Film (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2007), pp. 111-23.
The reference to Mary Jane getting dismissed from Manhattan Memories comes from: Peter David, Spider-Man 3 - The Official Novelization of the Film (New York: Simon and Schuster, Inc., 2007), p. 103.
The reference to Spider-Man and Daredevil teaming up to battle terrorists comes from: Georgia Kennedy, Twin Demons, - Story No. 2238364 (Published January 28, 2005), Chapter 12.
NYPD, of course, stands for New York Police Department.
Enron was the once high-flying Houston energy company whose collapse was triggered by massive and ongoing securities fraud. Enron’s demise also resulted in the world’s largest bankruptcy. Kenneth Lay and Jeffrey Skilling were, respectively, Enron’s chairman and CEO. See Mimi Swartz with Sherron Watkins, Power Failure - The Inside Story of the Collapse of Enron, (New York: Random House, Inc.; 2003).
Daredevil’s imagining of Elektra appearing before him was inspired by: Greg Cox, Daredevil, (New York, Penguin Putnam, Inc. 2003), p. 135.
The prologue’s events take place approximately seven months before the Thanksgiving dinner depicted in: HTBThomas and Georgia Kennedy, We Gather Together.
The two costumed figures stood side-by-side on the abandoned heliport atop the Metropolitan Life Insurance Building in the heart of Midtown Manhattan. The shorter of the two was dressed in a red and blue outfit with a black spider logo on his chest, his face covered by a full-length mask, his piercing blue eyes staring at the setting sun from behind one-way mirrored lenses. The other was clad completely in red, the lower half of his face left exposed by a cowl that featured a pair of horns jutting out from either side of his forehead. In his sightless world, day and night blended together in a sea of blue luminescence. He could tell the sun was going down by the subtle diminishing of the warmth around his mouth, cheeks, and chin.
Anyone who saw them would quickly agree that the “Twin Demons” moniker bestowed upon them by the Daily Bugle was appropriate. Bathed in the golden glow of a late April afternoon, they looked like the sentries who guarded the entrance to Dante’s Inferno . . . to keep the hapless souls who had the misfortune of entering there from ever leaving.
“What is it, Matt?” Spider-Man asked as he observed Daredevil raise his head slightly.
“A press conference.” Daredevil held up his hand, gesturing in the direction of City Hall, where a throng of reporters had gathered. He braced for the coming assault upon his eardrums, for he would hear the conference echoed over more than a million television sets throughout Greater New York. It would be like attending a rock concert blasting through quadraphonic speakers multiplied a thousand-fold.
Struggling to block out the reverberations, Daredevil focused his attention on the press conference itself as New York City Police Captain George Stacy approached a makeshift podium set up on the steps of City Hall. Earlier that day, a construction crane had malfunctioned, hurling a girder into several floors of a midtown office building and nearly taking out his daughter, Gwendolyn, as well as those floors.
Gwen Stacy happened to be Peter Parker’s former lab partner.
“Ladies and Gentlemen,” Captain Stacy began, adjusting the microphone upward, bringing it to within an inch of his lips. “It was reported in certain quarters of the news media that Spider-Man had somehow caused the crane accident that nearly took the lives of Gwen and others in the law offices of Miller and Ingersoll. Let me set the record straight, once and for all. The malfunction occurred because of a short in the transformer. Both the crane operator and the foreman tried to shut it down, but were unsuccessful in their efforts. Spider-Man had NOTHING to do with it. He saved my daughter’s life, and as a father, I’m extremely grateful. That’s all.” And with that, Captain Stacy strode from the podium without taking questions.
Daredevil smiled slightly at this long-overdue stroke of good fortune. In the year or so since he and Spider-Man began working together, they had confined themselves to the shadows, patrolling only at night, unless they had to respond to a daylight emergency. To improve their relations with the police, they would work quietly, out of the public eye, catching the crooks and letting the cops get all the glory. Sometimes, they would provide the police or the FBI with crucial intelligence, usually through Daredevil’s trusted intermediary, Ben Urich, the crime reporter for the New York Times.
That strategy was beginning to pay dividends. Though understated, Captain Stacy’s remarks amounted to a public slap-down of the Daily Bugle and its editor and publisher. While J. Jonah Jameson had always purported to be on the side of law-enforcement, his incessant tirades against “those night-stalking, law-breaking, reckless vigilantes” were wearing thin in that community, just as they were wearing thin throughout the city. Daredevil imagined that after today, Mr. Jameson would not have any credibility left.
He turned toward his junior partner. “Congratulations, Peter,” he said. “I think you just captured the hearts and minds of the New York City Police Department.”
But Daredevil sensed right away that Spider-Man was not particularly happy this afternoon, despite the adoration from the crowds below, adoration earned for yet another display of heroics which, for him, and long since become routine. “Yeah,” Spider-Man replied half-heartedly. “That and three bucks might get me a cappuccino at Starbucks.”
Though he was not a mind-reader, Daredevil’s hyper-senses enabled him to pick up autonomic physiological reactions invisible to normal human perception. By cuing in on Spider-Man’s heartbeat and respiration patterns, he could tell that the webslinger was preoccupied, and perhaps a little depressed.
Spider-Man continued to gaze toward New Jersey, watching the last tiny sliver of the sun slip below the pink, streaky clouds that rested atop the horizon. “I think I screwed things up big time today with Mary Jane,” he said, sounding rather glum.
“I’m sorry to hear that, Peter. Did you two have a fight?”
Spider-Man nodded slightly. “MJ got fired from Manhattan Memories this morning, after the reviews came in. The critics really laced into her.” Daredevil felt Spider-Man’s heart beating a little faster and his breathing cycles becoming shorter and more frequent, unmistakable signs of growing anger. “Critics are such jerks, just like her father.” he fumed. “The only thing they’re good for is tearing other people down, people with far more talent that they’ll ever have.”
“Guardians of culture, arbiters of taste,” Daredevil observed wryly. “What exactly did they say?”
“One of them, I think it was the guy with the Times, said something about her voice being too small, not being able to carry past the first row. But that’s a bunch of crap. I was there. She was fabulous. What’s wrong with these people?”
“And where were you sitting, Peter?”
“In the first row. She was gazing right at me.” Spider-Man’s heart rate slowed down, the stress he was under momentarily dissipating as he recalled his fiancée’s magnetic stage presence.
Magnetic to him, that is.
“It was incredible, like . . .just MJ and me, alone among the stars.”
“I see,” Daredevil answered, his sharp lawyer’s intellect already finding part of the answer. Mary Jane had probably been focusing too much on Peter, and not making enough of an effort to project herself to the entire audience.
“But you know what really pisses me off?” Spider-Man continued, slipping back into his funk, obviously missing the point of Daredevil’s question. “The problem was probably the sound system, or the acoustics, or any one of a hundred technical things that had absolutely nothing to do with MJ or her performance.” He whirled around, finally facing Daredevil directly. “You’ve seen her on stage, haven’t you?”
“Yes, Peter.” Well, in my own way, anyway, Daredevil thought. “I saw her in The Importance of Being Earnest. I thought she was magnificent.”
“My point exactly,” Spider-Man went on. “She is magnificent. And all they had to do was fix the damn sound system or whatever, and everything would’ve been fine. But everybody blamed her for what the critics said.” His tone began to border on bitter. “That jack-ass of a director who was so encouraging didn’t even give her a chance to bounce back.”
“So, is that what landed you in Mary Jane’s doghouse?”
“Not exactly. When she told me what happened, I told her that she needed to shake it off and get back in the saddle, or something like that. People do get canned from time to time; it’s really no big deal. Hell, I was let go more times in a week than she’d been in her whole career. I thought I was cheering her up, but I wound up making things worse. She said that I didn’t know the first thing about performing in public, that critics can make or break you, that we needed her salary to live in our co-op. It was one thing after another. I mean, I’d never seen her so distraught. So I said if it came to that, I’d junk the independent consulting thing and go to work for Scherrer-Benoit.”
Matt’s head snapped up,”You told her that?”
“Yeah, why not? Scherrer’s one of the better-paying Wall Street firms. They typically start their new analysts at a hundred and twenty five grand a year. I was just trying to take the pressure off her, that’s all.”
“Not exactly a wise choice of words on your part, Peter.”
“Huh?” Spider-Man was flabbergasted. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”
“If it were me, I’d think you were implying that I didn’t have what it takes to be a breadwinner. And I’d be pretty resentful, too.
“I never meant for it to come out like that.” But as Spider-Man mulled it over, he began to think that maybe his big brother in the figurative sense had a point. “Well . . . okay . . .I see what you mean,” he conceded. “I guess that was a little dumb of me. But it wasn’t until later, after that conversation, that everything hit the fan.”
“So, what happened?” Daredevil wanted to know.
Daredevil sensed that Spider-Man was getting a little tense beneath his costume.”You’re starting to sound like you’re cross-examining me,” he said, a tinge of defensiveness in his voice.
“You did ask me to come up here, didn’t you?”
“Yeah, I did,” Spider-Man said. “I’m sorry. It’s been a hell of a day, like it usually is.” He paused, drew a breath, and then went on.” Anyway, just when Mary Jane is at her most vulnerable, when she really needed me be there for her, the damn radio kicks on with the alert about the crane. The timing couldn’t possibly have been worse. She just went to pieces and ran downstairs. I heard the bedroom door slam shut just before I left.” He sighed. “I think a lot of things came to a head today. Her mom’s been really sick. The doctors said it could be a matter of months, or even weeks. We’ve been trying to get Madeline into the nanomed program at Columbia University Hospital, but we still haven’t heard back. And there are . . .other things too.”
“To make sure I didn’t miss any late-night emergency calls, I started bringing the radio into the bedroom and putting it on my night stand. She never said anything, but you can imagine how she must’ve felt. I know it woke her up at least five or six times. And then, remember the Kay Jewelers’ robbery last weekend?”
“Well at the time, we were . . . you know . . .” Now Daredevil perceived an entirely different emotional reaction coming from Spider-Man. His heart was beating much faster now, and blood was pouring into his capillaries. Had Daredevil been able to see Peter Parker in the normal way, he would have observed his face turning beet-red. But in his world, the shadowy presence that was Spider-Man appeared to be darkening against the blue luminescent backdrop. Spider-Man was clearly embarrassed. “I mean . . .the radio was off. But when the police cars went by, my spider-sense kicked in and I had to pu-. . .”
“No need to go into the details, Peter.” Daredevil said reassuringly, sparing Spider-Man the indignity of having to tell his senior partner that he and his lover had been in the midst of a passionate carnal embrace. “You had to leave, right?”
“You got it, Matt. What woman should have to put up with that? I must be making her think that perfect strangers matter more to me than she does, and that just isn’t true.” Spider-Man turned his entire body toward Daredevil. “This hero stuff doesn’t mean a damn thing to me. I don’t care about what the public thinks, or getting a key to the city, or fan clubs, or having a top-ten song about me, or whatever. MJ’s my whole world, Matt.” Spider-Man’s voice was starting to quiver a little. “Without her, everything falls apart. I don’t want to lose her, but I don’t want her to be unhappy, either.” He paused momentarily, shaking his head. “You know, it’s times like this that I wonder whether she’d have been better off with that astronaut.”
Daredevil wondered about that, too, but wasn’t coming to the same conclusions. He and Mary Jane had become great friends over the past year. From what MJ had shared with him about her previous relationship, her former fiancé was as committed to his responsibilities as Peter was to his. More likely, her place in John Jameson’s life would have been far more marginalized.
“Surely you don’t mean that, Peter?
“I don’t know . . .” Spider-Man seemed to lose his voice as he groped for the right words. “I uh . . . I need to ask a favor, Matt.”
“Well, you already owe me your first-born a dozen times over. But go ahead.”
Spider-Man went back to gazing at the horizon. “Mary Jane is . . . well, she’s sort of in a . . . kind of a unique situation. She’s like a doctor’s wife and a cop’s wife all rolled into one, but without any type of support system. I think she really needs that. If she had someone she could talk to . . .share experiences with, it . . . you know . . . it might make things easier for her.”
“So, what is it that you would like me to do?”
“Well. um . . .” Spider-Man stuttered, clearly trying to phrase his request as delicately as possible. “If things ever get serious between you and Jean . . .”
“Things are serious between me and Jean.” Matt Murdock started dating Assistant District Attorney Jean DeWolff around the same time that Spider-Man and Daredevil had first teamed up to thwart a terrorist plot to detonate dirty bombs throughout the New York City subway system.
“That’s good,”Spider-Man said, his body language warming up. “If and when you ever decide to tell Jean who you are . . .”
Daredevil knew perfectly well where Spider-Man was heading, but to make his younger counterpart feel less ill-at-ease, he helped Spider-Man finish the question.
“Are you giving me permission to let Jean know about you?”
“Yes.” Peter nodded his head affirmatively to drive the point home.
Daredevil was impressed. As his relationship with Spider-Man grew, he came to understand that his cohort’s early entanglements with the NYPD’s more reactionary officers had instilled in him a certain level of wariness toward law enforcement authorities in general, which is what made his decision to reveal his secret identity to a prosecutor all the more remarkable. More than anything else, that decision attested mightily to his love for Mary Jane, and to the lengths he would go to ensure her well-being. Daredevil hoped that Mary Jane appreciated what she had in Peter, notwithstanding his ill-advised attempt to give her career counseling.
“Your request seems to have been fortuitously timed, Peter. Elektra brought up the subject of moving in together, and I think I’m ready to take her up on it.”
“You said, ‘Elektra’.”
“I said, ‘Jean’.”
“No, you didn’t.”
Daredevil was about to answer back a little more sharply, but the steady rhythm of Spider-Man’s heartbeat made it abundantly clear that the wall crawler was telling the truth.
“I did, didn’t I?” Daredevil asked, a little bewildered at his own absent-mindedness. “Okay . . . you’re right . . . But I think you know who I meant.”
Spider-Man hesitated for the tiniest fraction of a second before answering. “Yeah, of course. That’s really great, Matt. I’m happy for you.”
“I’m happy for me, too, Peter.” Daredevil said, suddenly feeling the pang of certain memories seeping up from the depths of his subconscious, and hoping that he had not conveyed the wrong impression.
“So, does that mean you’ll do it?” Spider-Man asked anxiously.
“Yes. Just give me a few days.”
Daredevil could feel the relief washing over his partner like a wave breaking on some tropical beach. “Thanks, Matt. I really appreciate it. And MJ will, too.”
“Not at all, Peter. To tell you the truth, I suspect that Jean is going to need to lean on Mary Jane as much as Mary Jane will need to lean on her.”
“Say, Matt,” Spider-Man quipped. “You think she’ll throw us in jail when she finds out?”
As was his habit, Matt thought through his answer before responding. “While strictly speaking, Jean could charge us with a number of statutory and city ordnance violations, I can’t imagine that she would do so after today.”
“Quite sure. She was standing next to Captain Stacy at the news conference.”
“How would you know that from up here?”
“I know her heartbeat.”
“Oh.” Spider-Man rolled down the back of his glove and glanced at his watch. “Well, I’d better get home and try to straighten things out with MJ.” As he got ready to fire a webline, he observed, “I guess Jean and Mary Jane will be forming the world’s first support group for superheroes’ significant others.”
“I suppose so,” Daredevil acknowledged. “Oh, and by the way, Peter, the next time you see Mary Jane on stage, I suggest that you sit in the back, so that you don’t distract her.”
Spider-Man saluted, fired a webline and was off.
As Daredevil watched his colleague hurtle toward the Chrysler Building, he recalled a conversation he had with Jean early in their relationship. Over dinner with Foggy and Liz at Tavern-On-The-Green in Central Park one evening, Jean had expressed an interesting take on New York’s nocturnal guardians. Both she and her boss, Manhattan District Attorney Pat Hamilton, were very supportive of them in public. They had taken a lot of heat for their stand, often being castigated in the editorial pages of the Daily Bugle. Yet, it was Jean’s considered opinion that Daredevil and Spider-Man were hopelessly behind the times . . .
“You’ll have to admit that the streets are much safer now than they were just a few years ago.” Matt pointed out.
“That’s not what I’m talking about, Matt. Sure, those two are great for cleaning up the streets and keeping the city safe from predators and nutcases. I’ll grant you that. But they’re dinosaurs. If you added up all the murders, rapes, and armed robberies that were committed in this country since the founding fathers signed the Constitution, they wouldn’t amount to more than a drop in the ocean compared with what the DA’s office has to deal with, day in and day out . . . internet scams, identity theft, widespread corruption, fraud . . . the list keeps getting longer. Just take a look at Enron, will you? The harm those people did still can’t be measured. As good as our two vigilante friends are at what they do, there’s no way they can get to these kahunas who orchestrate crime on an industrial-scale.”
“What about Wilson Fisk?” Matt asked, trying not to sound defensive. “You were the one who prosecuted him. He was the biggest ‘kahuna’ in the country . . . literally.”
“I’m not saying there aren’t exceptions, Matt.” Jean retorted. “All I’m saying is that you’d be hard pressed to argue that Lay and Skilling didn’t harm as many people as the Kingpin did, maybe more. If Spider-Man and Daredevil showed up at my office looking for jobs as criminal investigators, I’d tell them to go back to school and get their MBAs. That’s where the real action is.”
“Maybe so,” Matt conceded. “But there are always going to be petty criminals. And even these so-called masterminds, can’t pull off their operations all by themselves. They still need the muscle to do it for them. If the police and the DA’s office are too overwhelmed by white collar caseloads to deal with those problems, maybe they should be grateful for the help they’re getting.”
“I think he’s got you there, Jean,” Foggy interjected.
They had agreed to leave it at that. At least he had a pretty good idea of what Jean’s reaction would be when she found out that her boyfriend was one half of the notorious Twin Demons. But he felt supremely confident that neither he, nor Spider-Man would have anything to worry about, other than being called dinosaurs.
Daredevil continued to stare into the opal world that only he could see. The cool breezes now brushing against his face told him that the sun had finally set. He gripped his billy club, his fingers looking for the trigger that would release the grappling hook that enabled him to navigate among the skyscrapers. He had grown very, very fond of Jean DeWolff over the last few months. She had that fighting spirit and stubborn feistiness that had reminded him so much of Elektra.
Elektra . . .
You still love me, don’t you, Matt? Elektra’s voice asked from inside his head, her beautiful, glowing silhouette emerging out of the blue fog . . .
With a supreme effort, Daredevil snapped himself out of his reverie. For months, he had tried to put Elektra out of his mind. She was gone, and was not coming back. Of that, he was absolutely certain, beyond a shadow of a doubt. As for the cartouche, it had taken months for Matt to finally convince himself that she had left it for him before she was killed. The memories of that terrible night came flooding back, how she died in his arms while that subhuman beast Bullseye had mocked her . . .
With a sigh, Matthew Murdock reluctantly admitted the truth, if only to himself. He had never gotten over Elektra. His slip of the tongue in Peter Parker’s presence made it all the more obvious. As much as he did not want to acknowledge it, there was still a tiny part of him that hoped, that prayed, that Elektra would come back. He still loved Elektra. He would always love Elektra, right up until the day he died.
He just hoped that Jean would not be jealous of a memory.