Fandom: Spectacular Spider-Man animated series
Characters: Peter/Gwen, MJ, Flash, Liz, Captain Stacy
Word Count: Part 2: 2,146 words
Summary: Peter still hasn't talked to Gwen about that fateful kiss - he keeps getting distracted. Between his personal life and his spider-life, can he make it work?
Author’s Note: Set at the beginning of season 2, using episode 2.03 as a jumping off point. Not terribly spoilery, if you haven’t seen the first three episodes of season 2.
Previously: PART 1
Peter managed not to land directly in Gwen's lap in the back seat, skating only millimeters from pushing into her. Spider-like reflexes were good for something other than escaping vicious predators. Though when he looked back at Mary Jane, who had bounced in beside him and closed the door, the look in her eyes made him question whether he had actually escaped this time.
"Oh, sorry..." he apologized lamely. Gwen gave him a sort of half-grunt, half-shrug, and stared straight ahead. She was still mad, obviously. Somehow, he had to show her that she wasn't second place.
But how was he going to do that while Captain Stacy was right there in the front seat? He glanced up to see the Captain watching them through the rear-view mirror, waiting for something. The click of MJ's seatbelt suddenly reminded him to do the same.
"We all ready?" They nodded back and the Captain pulled into traffic.
For several city blocks, the ride was completely silent, except for the noises of downtown Manhattan outside the patrol car. He could almost feel the waves of expectation rolling off the girls on either side of him, prickling his consciousness like his spider-sense. But unlike how he always had a ready quip when he was fighting super-villains -- he had no idea what to say.
Then he was saved by Captain Stacy. "So, Peter, how's it going these days?" Saved by the police -- now that was a turnabout. He filed that away for later.
"Going pretty well, actually," he replied cheerfully. "And I got my internship back with Doc Connors. Did Gwen tell you?" He looked over at Gwen hopefully for a reaction. There was none.
"I don't think so, but we've both been so busy lately that I might have missed it. You must be pretty busy yourself."
"Yeah, I guess I am..."
"School, the lab, taking pictures for the Bugle, too, right?"
Peter rubbed a hand over his hair awkwardly. "Yes, sir." It seemed like a lot even without factoring in his spider-activities.
"It seems like all you young people are over-scheduled these days. Always on the go! Never have time to rest and simply contemplate life. Why when I was in high school--"
"Dad..." Gwen spoke up for the first time.
"Forgive an old man, Gwendy. But it's all or nothing these days. Constantly busy or completely lazy. At least we don't bust that many kids for loitering as we used to -- they're all inside playing video games."
"Dad," she warned again.
"Sorry, sweetheart. Sorry, kids." He turned the corner onto another street, heading toward Queens. There was another long silence.
Peter jumped to fill it. "It would be nice to be less busy." Especially with his rogue's gallery. The size had doubled in the last few weeks. "But I don't see any way around it."
"True." The Captain turned his attention to Mary Jane. "What about you, young lady? Are you as busy as these two?"
"Not really." She shrugged, seeming completely comfortable. "But I might go out for the play in a couple weeks. I hear we're getting a new director."
What Peter wouldn't give to be half as self-assured. "I didn’t know you were into acting."
"Yeah, just a little hobby of mine. I hope I get in." She cocked her head to the side and gave both Peter and Gwen a considering glance. "Are you guys going to try out?"
Gwen started up from her seat, spluttering. "Who me? No! That would be terrify--I mean, I’m pretty busy after school working at the lab..."
MJ turned her attention on him. Peter lifted his hands in supplication. "Not me, either. Me, an actor? Pretending to be someone I’m not?" he joked. "I’d be terrible."
MJ smirked and shook her head. "The acting world’s loss, Tiger. You will come see me if I get a part, though, right?"
"Of course!" he and Gwen asserted at the same time. And then they both laughed uncomfortably before falling silent again.
Before Peter knew it, they were pulling up in front of Mary Jane’s house. Peter hadn’t ever been here before, but he was surprised at how close it was to his house.
MJ slipped out of the car. "Thanks for the ride, Captain Stacy. Gwen, give me a call later, okay?"
"Okay." Gwen waved as MJ shut the door.
The patrol car was moving again, to go around the corner toward Peter's house. The police radio crackled, and the Captain reached over to turn it up. Peter decided this might be the best time to say something to Gwen without her father overhearing.
"Gwen," he whispered.
"What," she whispered back, her voice flat.
"Can we talk? I'm really sorry for--"
Suddenly the car stopped. "Kids..." The Captain turned toward them, concern on his face. "There's a situation downtown. Can I let you two off here? It's only a little farther to Peter's place. Gwen, you can wait with Peter and his aunt until I get back."
Peter finally tuned in to what was happening on the radio. "Repeat, 10-31 in progress, all units report..." A bomb threat? Peter stiffened. Spider-Man might be really useful in this situation -- but the Captain had just asked him to stay with Gwen, and there wouldn't be a better time to talk. She'd be a captive audience... and May's homemade chocolate chip cookies could warm the coldest heart.
"Sure, Dad," she answered and opened the door. "Or I could just walk from here. This neighborhood's pretty safe, you know."
"I'd feel safer with you at the Parkers. I--"
"Okay." She finished getting out of the car and waited until Peter was on the sidewalk before adding, "Stay safe, Dad."
"As always." He waved and turned the car back toward downtown.
Peter and Gwen watched him go. He wondered just how serious the bomb threat was -- and what sort of sicko tried to place a bomb at Christmastime? It sounded like the police had it well in hand... but if the culprit was a super-villain, how well would they fare? Maybe he should walk Gwen to her own house instead and then take off. Aunt May wasn't expecting him at any certain time, after all...
Lost in his own thoughts, he didn't notice until Gwen was partway down the block, walking toward his house. He was doing it again -- becoming distracted by his spider-duties. He turned, calling, "Gwen!" To her credit, she didn't speed up. She simply stopped, looked back at him, and waited.
"Hey, um, what I wanted to say back there in the car..." he began without preamble once he had caught up. "...it was really dumb of me not to say anything about the time we..." He scratched at his head. "...kissed."
That admission earned him a "Hmph" of agreement.
"And I don’t think you are second best," he continued. "You could never be! You're practically my oldest friend, Gwen."
"Friend, huh?" Her tone was even flatter than in the car.
"Yes! I mean, no... I mean, you could be a lot more than a friend if we wanted!"
"If we wanted, huh?" Now the temperature was dropping.
"Please, Gwen, I'm trying..."
"Maybe not hard enough." Her voice was as hard as ice. "I put everything on the line by kissing you, and all you can do is stammer, and explain and apologize."
"What else can I do?" Peter was completely at a loss.
"Well, for one thing..." The ice shattered into a storm. "You can meet my eyes, and talk to me at school, and stop flirting with every girl around you."
"Flirting? Every girl?"
"Oh, I don’t know..." She counted off on her fingers. "Liz... Mary Jane..." She paused and then she added another finger. "Liz..."
"I know, but she should be counted twice. As much as she touches you and coos ‘Petey’ around you..." Gwen shuddered.
"Mary Jane is just a friend, Gwen." A really gorgeous friend, but she's never shown any interest in me. "And I think she wants you and me together more than we do."
"I study with her sometimes... I don't know why she wants to hang out with me, okay? To get even with Flash? I dunno. And after today, she seemed like she would rather nursemaid him than talk to me."
Gwen's face looked pinched. He wasn't going about this very well...
He tried again. "But I like you, Gwen! A lot!"
"You like me?" She seemed mollified for a moment. "Do you like like me?"
He didn't know what he felt right now. Was it more than just friendship? He wanted to like her more, he wanted to see where things would go if they tried dating instead of just hanging out...
He obviously waited too long to speak.
"Question answered." She shut her mouth with an audible snap, turned on her heel and stalked toward his house.
Peter caught up with her easily, but kept silent. He'd really messed up this time. Those were going to have to be the best cookies ever... or she might never open her mouth around him again.
"Peter! Gwen! Come in!" May said as she opened the door. "You both look chilled to the bone. Would you like some coffee? Hot cocoa?"
Gwen was perfectly civil, even friendly toward his aunt. She wouldn't even acknowledge his presence, even to take a gaily decorated cookie from the tray he offered. If May noticed, she pretended not to, asking questions of Gwen and bustling back and forth from the kitchen.
If Gwen was going to pretend he wasn't there, he might as well check the news. Hopefully the bomb threat was taken care of and Captain Stacy was on his way home already.
"...outside of the Plaza Hotel and police have surrounded the building. From the information we've received, there appears to be a single man inside the lobby, threatening to detonate a bomb unless his demands are met." The reporter on the scene looked calm, merely concerned on behalf of the viewers.
"Do we know yet what those demands are?" the news anchor asked.
"Not yet. Apparently police are still in talks with him, as well as developing an extraction strategy. Police Captain George Stacy released this statement earlier..."
Gwen's father's face appeared on the screen. "We have our best negotiator on the scene. We are confident that we can resolve the situation with no loss of life. We will keep the public informed of..."
"Oh, dear, I had no idea it was so serious. Are you going to be all right?" Aunt May asked, sitting down again after setting a tea kettle on to boil.
"I'll be fine." Gwen sighed. "But it looks like it might be a while before he comes home."
"Oh, sweetheart, we have a guest room you can use. Would you like to stay here tonight?"
"I..." She looked at Peter for the first time since their fight on the street. It was obvious she didn’t want to go home and worry alone.
"Please, Gwen, it’ll be fine," he assured her. It might be a little awkward at breakfast, but he agreed with his aunt. Gwen shouldn’t be alone tonight.
"Yes, dear. I have an extra robe, some toiletries you can use..." May urged Gwen up from the couch by her elbow, pulling her toward the staircase. May was good at making a person go along with whatever she wanted. "We’d be happy to have you."
"O... kay..." Gwen said, throwing a last glance at the television. "Thanks..." They went up the stairs.
Peter slumped down into the couch a little further. Would either of them sleep very well tonight, knowing that another confrontation might happen tomorrow? Not to mention that he might be up all night trying to come up with another way to apologize.
His attention was drawn by the TV again. "Apparently there has been a break in the negotiations. The terrorist has demanded that he speak to the press directly."
"Can you get the camera close enough?"
"It looks like the SWAT team is parting to let us through..."
Peter leaned forward, tense with interest. Maybe he couldn’t be out there helping, but the safety of his city was very important to him.
When the cameras zoomed in, Peter could see that the man had a full-face mask on, obscuring his identity. He wore a hunter’s vest with wires leading to an explosive on the outside of his body. He pulled up the edge of his mask just enough to uncover his mouth, shouting so he could be heard.
"I won’t talk to the police no longer! If they can’t gimme who I want, then maybe he’ll hear me this way!" The man raised the detonator in one hand, and shouted toward the sky. "I want Spider-Man!"
Next: Part 3