Fandom: Spectacular Spider-Man toonverse
Characters/Pairing: Peter/Gwen, MJ, Liz, Betty, Black Cat
Word Count: 2,235 words
Betas: Van-El II,foxtwin
Author’s Note: A birthday fic formark_clark
Peter tilted his head, peering askance at Gwen walking beside him. “Did you have a good time?”
“Yes.” She smiled, shyly turning her eyes toward the ground. “It was great.” She didn’t offer any more information.
Peter grinned in return. He was pleased with how their first date had gone. Amazingly, it had been a very quiet Friday night. They had been able to go to dinner and even see a movie – all without one tingle of his spider-sense. Maybe all of the criminals of New York City were feeling the Christmas spirit?
“So, did you like the movie?”
“I liked it. Really exciting.” She kept her attention on her feet.
“Yeah.” He shoved his hands deeper into his pockets. He didn’t remember it being this difficult to talk to Gwen before… Why? They’d surely spent a thousand hours talking at the lunch table… while studying for a test… but this? This was hard.
“Of course, it wasn’t as exciting as swinging from the top of a parade float,” she suddenly added, laughing nervously. “Thank goodness.”
Spider-Man had also saved her that day. “Thank goodness?” His eyebrows drew down worriedly. “Thank goodness Spider-Man saved you?”
“Oh, yes, of course!” She shivered. “It’s just not my idea of a fun time, you know?”
“I guess not.”
Peter spied Gwen’s house just ahead, and picked up the pace, his thoughts whirling. What did she mean by that? What did she think of Spider-Man? What if they got really serious? What would she do if she found out?
“Well, I guess we’re here.” Gwen’s voice broke him out of his thoughts.
“Thanks for the movie. It was fun.”
“You’re welcome,” he answered vaguely, mind still recovering.
“Well, good night…”
With a wave, Peter began to turn toward the street, when the realization struck him. Things were different now! She probably wanted a kiss… He leaned forward awkwardly and kissed her on the cheek, a brief peck. “Good night…”
She blushed, and smiled tightly. “See you Monday.”
It was only on Sunday night, in the middle of foiling a robbery, that he realized her expression might not have been shyness… but disappointment.
His reduced-fat turkey sandwich with 12-grain bread was practically tasteless at lunch on Monday. Not because Aunt May’s new cookbook recipes weren’t successful – just that he couldn’t focus on anything very well today.
Gwen claimed she had to study for an English test and begged off. So the ‘geek table’ felt really lonely.
He felt a touch on his shoulder. “Hey, Tiger. You all alone?” He didn’t turn his head, but only Mary Jane addressed him that way.
“Yeah,” he answered.
“Hmm.” She shifted to sit beside him. “Not what I heard around the drinking fountain.”
That made him turn. “What did you hear?”
“Just that the chemistry club was scheduling some extracurricular activities.” Her eyes twinkled. At his flummoxed look, she added, “You and Gwen.”
“Oh! I, uh…”
“Hey, don’t sweat it. I think it’s cute.” She bumped her shoulder against his. “You two just belong together.”
Peter stared into the depths of his lunchmeat. “I’m not sure about that… I think I messed up somehow. She seemed… I dunno… not happy after our first date.”
“Why do you—?”
MJ’s question was interrupted by a sing-song call of, “Petey!”
Peter swiveled his head the other direction, to see Liz Allan flounce over to his table. “Hi, Liz.”
“How are you doing?” she asked, placing a friendly hand on his arm. “Where’s…” She glanced around the table in all directions. “…Gwen?”
Peter blushed, looking back down. “Studying.”
“Without you?” Her hand trailed down toward the back of his hand. “She must not know what a great study partner you are…”
“I think she does.” MJ was suddenly between them. “He’s just not in that class, right?”
“Um, right.” He couldn’t believe that two girls were so interested in who he ate lunch with! A year ago, Gwen was the only girl who ever spoke two words to him… at least, by choice.
“Oh…” Liz sounded disappointed. “Well, I’ll see you in class later, Petey. Bye!” She gave his hand a slight squeeze, shooting MJ a pointed look over her shoulder.
“Hey,” MJ said after she had watched Liz disappear from sight. “Whatever is going on between you and Gwen… I bet if you set your mind to it, you’ll figure out what she wants.”
“But what if I totally mess it up? What if I do the exact opposite of what I should do? I mean, we used to be best friends, and now it’s so much more complicated…”
The end-of-lunch bell rang, and Mary Jane stood. “Don’t over-think it, Tiger.” She began to walk toward the doors to the main building. “You know what she wants.”
Camera in hand, Peter alighted on the top of the Daily Bugle. He hoped that something on this set of pictures would be worth a paycheck, because he just had to make it up to Gwen. Whatever he had done, he had to do much better the next time.
As he changed from his costume to street clothes, his mind flashed back to what MJ had said. “I bet if you set your mind to it, you’ll figure out what she wants… Don’t over-think it, Tiger…”
Which was it? Think through the problem or don’t!? Wasn’t having a girlfriend supposed to make things less complicated?
He stopped himself. Since when was Gwen a ‘girlfriend’? They had shared a couple of kisses, and gone on one date…
Wait. Did Gwen think she was his girlfriend?
Peter shook himself, and lightly jogged down the stairwell, stomach clenching. Gwen had been ‘too busy’ all day. How was he supposed to figure out what Gwen wanted if she wouldn’t exchange more than a few words at a time with him?
As soon as he got into the Bugle office, he started toward Jameson’s office. Before he could lift a hand to rap on the door, Betty Brant called for his attention.
“Not yet, Peter. He and Robbie are in a meeting.” She gave him a sympathetic look as she typed away at her workstation.
Peter sighed. “How long do you think they’ll be?”
“Hard to say. You can hang out here for a few minutes, if you want.” She patted the corner of her desk.
“Thanks.” He leaned against the proffered spot, placing his camera beside him.
Betty cut her eyes toward the camera. “You get any good shots?”
“Spider-Man stopping the jewel heist tonight.”
“Hmm. I’d say you have a good chance this time…” She stopped typing for a moment, and leaned her elbows on her desk. “What’s been up with you these days? We haven’t had the chance to chat much.”
“Oh… you know, just the average high school stuff… and there’s this girl…”
“Oh, really?” Betty leaned even farther forward. “The one you went to the fall formal with?”
“No, the one who got kidnapped by Venom at the Thanksgiving Day parade, actually.”
“I see,” she said, her interest plain. “So you’re pretty busy, then?”
“Always.” Peter had expected a different reaction – maybe she was getting used to the weirdness of New York City these days. He shot a glance at the windows of Jameson’s office. Jameson and Robbie seemed locked in heated discussion. “And you?”
“Well, Mr. Jameson keeps us busy, too. And, I’m seeing someone now, myself.”
“Betty? You ready to go get that coffee?”
Peter spun in surprise, recognizing the voice.
“Sure, Ned. I’m totally in the mood for an eggnog latte. Let me log off and grab my things.”
“Hey, Parker.” He waved as he walked up, and then settled himself at the other edge of the desk.
“Lee.” Peter got the distinct impression Ned was marking his territory.
“Boys.” Betty shook her head. “They look like they’re about done, Peter. You can head on in…”
They walked out, Betty’s hand threaded through Ned’s arm. He felt a tiny pang of remorse – if he’d only been a few years older…
“Parker!” Jonah pushed his way out of his office door, bluster at full volume. “About time you got here! You think you can just saunter in here whenever you want?”
“Um, Mr. Jameson, it only just happened…”
“Like that’s an excuse?” He held out his hand impatiently for the prints Peter had in his hand, and began flipping through them. “Hmm… Eh… Ugh…I’ll give you fifty bucks for the set.”
Robbie came to look over Jonah’s shoulder. “Is this the jewel heist tonight? I heard no one got pictures.”
Jonah frowned, glaring at Robbie. “One hundred, then.”
In the end, Peter came away two hundred dollars richer. He had plenty of money to buy Aunt May a nice gift, and treat Gwen to a night on the town. The next night, after an easy catch, he found himself swinging past the scene of the heist. The storefront of Merrill’s Fine Jewelry looked virtually untouched - the iron-bars still protected the plate glass window with the jeweler’s name in gilded paint. Christmas lights blinked in random succession around the outside of the display.
Other than ‘in the line of duty’, Peter had never been inside a jewelry store. What if Gwen was expecting some sort of gift? Or was it too early for that?
He spun around a light post and planted himself on the face of the building above. He slowly lowered himself down in front of the window, gazing in at the display. All of these pieces were way out of his price range… but what if he and Gwen went the distance? Would he be actually shopping for jewelry at a fancy place like this someday?
“A Christmas gift for me? I didn’t know we were that serious…” a silky voice disrupted his thoughts, just as his spider-sense noted the presence of another nearby.
She vaulted down to perch on the ledge above him. “Although, jewelry? I would have expected something a little more personal.” Then she swung down to hang at eye-level. “Besides, you know I could just take any of these little trinkets myself…”
“I’m not going to buy anyth—I’m just making sure everything’s okay—what are you doing back in town, anyway?”
“Can’t I just come check on my favorite man-in-spandex?”
His narrowed eyes weren’t visible beneath the mask but she seemed to catch his meaning.
“Oh, okay… it’s for this and that…” She placed one gloved finger under his chin, and ran it down his chest slowly. “A lady’s got to have her secrets…”
He swallowed. “Not if they’re illegal.”
“Oh, but I thought we had an understanding. I help you out… you help me out…”
It was hard to concentrate with her finger tracing each of the muscles on his abdomen. “It’s not quite that simple.”
“I think it can be as simple as you want it to be, Spider…” Her hand moved farther and farther downward.
“There’s someone else!” he squeaked.
Her finger stopped, but did not move from his body. “Someone as fun as I am?”
“Yes,” he answered tightly.
Her finger finally moved a blessed distance away. “All right.” In one smooth gymnastic move, she was on the ledge above again. “But just remember, out of all my skills… I’m a master thief.” With a wink of one large green eye, she was gone.
He waited until his body calmed down before heading home.
The next Friday, Peter found himself walking Gwen back to her house again. “That was really nice, Peter.”
“I’m glad you like seafood as much as I do.” He grimaced. “And I’m sure my stomachache in the middle of dinner was the hotdogs I had at lunch… Someone should call the health department on our cafeteria.”
Gwen smiled at his jest, easily accepting his excuse for ducking out for a while. “And it had a really beautiful view over the water, too.”
He took his hand out of his pocket and slipped it into hers. “It wasn’t as beautiful as the view I had.”
He felt like a cheeseball for saying it, but Gwen’s blush was even prettier. “Thank you.”
“I could get used to this, you know?”
“The food poisoning?”
“Well, not that, but…” He affected a chivalrous stance, placing his free hand over his heart. “You know I’d suffer any amount of malicious bacteria for you, milady.”
“Oh, stop.” She smacked him lightly on the chest, and he caught it easily, pulling her into his embrace.
He had been thinking about what Gwen wanted all week, and he’d finally given up. But being around all the other girls… and women… in his life made him realize he had to give this relationship a shot.
His lips touched hers, pressing gently into them, and she opened her mouth to him with a gasp. Then she wrapped her other arm around his neck, and kissed him back forcefully. There was no trace of the shy confessional kiss of two weeks ago.
A rush of feeling flooded through him. It was nothing like dancing with MJ, or like the lascivious thrill of Cat’s hand on his chest. It just felt pure and right.
Pulling back, he gave her a sly smile. “Should I stop now?”
Before pulling him back down, she murmured. “Don’t you dare.”