Fandom: Spectacular Spider-Man animated series
Characters: Peter/Gwen, MJ, Flash, Liz, Captain Stacy, Aunt May
Word Count: Part 3: 2,101 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 // Part 2
Peter was stunned for only a moment. Then he was up off the couch and hurrying upstairs. He caught May and Gwen just as his aunt was showing the girl where the towels were. He stretched and gave a big yawn. “I think I’ll turn in, now, too, Aunt May. ‘Night, Gwen,” he added with a wave. She didn’t wave back, but he caught a flicker of something in her eyes. He hoped it wasn’t more annoyance.
In a matter of seconds, he had plumped the bedspread and pillows to look like he was sleeping, and locked the door quietly for good measure. He hoped Aunt May wouldn’t even try to come in his room. And if she did, that she would think that he was being modest with a girl in the house. She’d never discovered his bed empty before... but every time he slipped out at night, he worried about what she would do that first time.
He was into the air and swinging down his street before the shower turned on in the bathroom down the hall.
“Where is he?!” the terrorist shouted, looking more deranged than he had on TV. “Doesn’t he know how many people will die if he doesn’t show up?” His heavy vest twinkled with yellow lights.
Peter shivered and crawled closer, staying out of sight of the cameras and police helicopter. He had only been on the scene for about a minute. He needed at least a couple more to determine the best angle of approach.
“Now, take it easy,” Captain Stacy spoke through his megaphone. “Spider-Man may not even know you want to talk to him... it’s not like we have a signal light we can turn on.” Stacy’s mouth curled up in amusement before he became serious again. “What if he doesn’t show up at all?”
“Oh, he’ll show up all right, if he knows what’s good for him.” The terrorist shifted the bomb vest across his chest. “He has to show up...”
Peter wasn’t sure what that was supposed to mean. Who was this guy? He didn’t recognize the man or his voice, but those could easily be changed. He could be some glory hound looking to make a name for himself... or someone who had a twisted sense of entitlement...
In the end, it didn’t matter who it was. He had to somehow get the bomb away from all those innocent people in the hotel. And then try to disarm it, using only his spider-sense as a guide. They certainly hadn’t covered this in science class.
“Let’s be reasonable, here, son,” Captain Stacy tried again. “There’s no going back from this. Once you set off the bomb, you will be dead as surely as any of us. Just put the detonator down. Help us help you...”
“No one can help me!” the man screamed. He sounded like he was on his last thread of sanity. Or it had already snapped. “I might as well be dead! After Spider-Man put me in jail, my family left me, I’ve got no money, no prospects... no nothin’!”
This must be one of the many faceless goons Spider-Man had helped put away. Peter was going to have to talk him down. And failing that? Well... he refused to think of what that would mean.
The terrorist lifted the detonator high, and the police, in their wide circle around him, took an unconscious step back. “Where are you, bug?!”
Peter couldn’t ask for a better opening. Sailing downward on a gossamer strand of webbing, Spider-Man landed on the light post several yards away. “Bug? I know it’s a lot to ask that you learned the difference between a bug and an arachnid in elementary school, but I--” He did a flip over the man’s head to land on the other side of him, hoping that his chatter and acrobatics would confuse the man. “No, you know what? I’ve long given up hope that the criminal element would have taken advantage of this city’s fine schools...”
“A criminal? Is that what you think I am? I take one lousy job because I’m down on my luck, and suddenly I’m a criminal?”
Spider-Man shrugged and looked slowly right, then left, at all the law enforcement personnel around them. “If it quacks like a duck, and looks like a duck...”
“Yeah, well, I’m sure you’d love to put me back in jail, Spider-Man, but I don’t think you’re going to get the chance.”
Spider-Man cocked his head to the side in mock-confusion. “And why’s that?”
“Because you’re going to be a little busy.” As Peter’s spider-sense flared, the man suddenly brought his hand up from his side pocket. Lying flat on his palm was a small mechanism, lit from within by a yellowish glow. He tapped a button on the top and heaved it into the air. “Catch!”
Peter was only half-aware of the sound of weapons being cocked all around him as he leapt after the device. He shot a web to catch it, but it tore through easily, moving under its own power.
He leapt straight up into the air, using the top of the lamppost to slingshot himself after the device. Maybe if I can just get it far enough away from the crowd, they’ll be safe. His fingers seemed to press his palm in slow motion, sending a thin stream of webbing to trap it again...
He had intended to sweep the device up and out away from the hotel, but just as his webbing touched it, it exploded into a brilliant yellow ball of light. He heard the crowd gasp below. Peter closed his eyes against it, expecting to be ripped to shreds...
Instead, his spider-sense kicked in just in time for him to touch down on the side of a nearby building. He didn’t feel blown to bits. In fact, he couldn’t feel any pain at all, even though the thing had exploded almost in his face. The worst he sensed was an acrid smell of chemicals, quickly fading. He ventured to open his eyes.
The light was shimmering out, a faint explosive haze where the device had exploded. He jerked his eyes back to the courtyard in front of the hotel. Had this been a distraction ploy? To keep him busy while the terrorist did something far worse? Idiot! He launched himself back toward the hotel.
He landed on the light pole again and looked down to see the terrorist -- not blown to bits, not menacing the crowd, not even laughing at Peter’s expense. Instead, he was lying prone on the steps, a wide circle still separating him from the police.
Everyone seemed to hold their breath as they waited for something to happen. After a few minutes, the SWAT team leader took a tentative step forward, waving his comrades to follow him.
“Wait!” Spider-Man called. The leader looked up at him through his Plexiglas mask. “Let me go first...” He swung down to alight beside the man, trusting his spider-sense once again to warn him in time.
Spider-Man slowly squatted beside the man, noting a couple of things. The man seemed to be alive, his breathing steady and even. The yellow flashing lights were now dark, and Peter could sense a whiff of the same chemicals as the fake bomb. The detonator lay in the man’s slack hand. Spider-Man reached a gloved hand toward the bomb strapped around the man’s chest...
...and touched it. His spider-sense stayed quiet.
He stood and waved the police over cautiously. “He’s out cold. I don’t know what happened -- did anyone see?”
The leader came a few steps closer. “He just fell over, immediately after the device exploded above you.” He gave another hand signal and his team fanned out around him.
“That’s... odd.” It was the only thing he could think of. Why call him here over broadcast TV, distract him with a fake bomb, and then simply pass out? If it were a trap, wouldn’t his spider-sense be warning him of impending danger? The worry settled back deep into his brain, to be picked over another time.
By this time, the bomb squad experts were working on the vest, dismantling it relatively quickly. “All clear,” the leader called.
“That’s my cue to skedaddle. I’ll come back to see you when he wakes up.” Peter was up and sailing over their heads before anyone could reply.
But he didn’t go far. He watched, frowning beneath his mask, as they cuffed and loaded the unconscious man into the back of a police van. The crowd of reporters and bystanders began to disperse, as well as a fleet of police cars with flashing lights. One of the last people to leave was Captain Stacy. Staring off in the same direction as Peter’s hiding place, he rubbed at his chin, and then slowly got back into his patrol car.
Well, he couldn’t wait around any longer, no matter how confused he was about the night’s events. It seemed to be one thing after another, with a super-villain gang on his tail early in the evening, and now a terrorist at night. Were they related? Just a coincidence? He didn’t know. He was going to have to rely more on his brains than his quick reflexes for this one.
He had to go. He should easily beat Captain Stacy back to his house, but he didn’t want to take any chances. With a last look back at the now-empty steps in front of the Plaza Hotel, he took off for home again.
He never saw the shadow that detached itself from a nearby building a few moments after he left.
As it was, Peter barely had time to throw a pair of pajamas over the top of his spider-suit when the doorbell rang. The captain must have come straight to the house without stopping by the station first.
Peter’s hair was suffering from an acute case of mask head, but it probably looked enough like bed head to pass. He unlocked the door to his bedroom and stumbled down the stairs, rubbing at his eyes. Gwen was already downstairs, putting a coat over her borrowed nightdress.
“Thanks for taking care of her, May. I really appreciate it,” Stacy said with a nod.
“Oh, it was the least I could do. After what we saw on the news, we didn’t know when you might arrive back home.” May smiled and patted Gwen on her back.
“And Peter,” Stacy said, noticing Peter coming down the stairs, “thanks to you, too. Sorry to wake you up.” He held out his hand for Peter to shake.
Peter yawned for good measure. “No problem.” Then he took the Captain’s proffered hand and gave it a brief squeeze. “I guess everything went all right tonight?”
“Yes, after Spider-Man arrived, it—” He stopped, wrinkling his nose for a second, then continued in an odd voice. “—it wrapped up quickly.”
“No one got hurt, then?”
“It was very anticlimactic,” Stacy answered, eyes narrowing.
Peter tried not to react to the captain’s suspicious stare. He still had his spider-suit on under the pajamas. Was it visible, did he...? He barely kept his eyes from widening as he realized that he might still have some of the chemical smell on him...
Then the Captain relaxed and held his elbow out for Gwen. “Come on, honey. Time to get you in your own bed.”
“That sounds great,” she replied with a sigh, the first words Peter had heard from her since coming downstairs. “Thanks for having me, Mrs. Parker.” Not a word of thanks for Peter, though. Peter wondered how long he would have to endure this silent treatment.
Stacy looked between the two teenagers for a moment before his face opened up in a wide smile. “Why don’t the two of you come over for lunch the day after Christmas? I’m sure we’ll have a ton of leftovers to get rid of.”
Gwen’s eyes flared with panic. “Dad, it’s the holidays. I’m sure they—”
“Oh, it would be lovely, Captain,” May agreed, cutting off Gwen’s protests. “I’ll probably have some extra pie to bring over for dessert.”
Gwen smiled tightly, and then turned away. Despite her reaction, Peter felt a brief flash of hope. Maybe he’d get his second chance?
“Then I’ll see you Saturday. It’s been too long since you’ve been over.” He waved and started with Gwen for his patrol car. Then he turned back and gave Peter a significant glance. “It will be nice to chat.”
Next: Part 4