Fandom: Spectacular Spider-Man animated series
Characters: Peter/Gwen, MJ, Flash, Liz, Captain Stacy
Word Count: Part 5: 1,960 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 // Part 3 // Part 4
"May! Peter!" George Stacy's smile was open and welcoming as he opened the door. "I'm so glad you could make it."
"Oh, you're a dear." May patted the Captain on the arm. "It's like I said, what else would we do?"
Peter added, "Thanks for inviting us." He fervently hoped he didn't have anything else to do. Even though things had been quiet, crime-wise, since Christmas Eve, he wasn't naive enough to believe they would stay that way.
"I'm glad to have you here, to have both of you." He gestured into the living room for them to come in.
Peter set his Christmas gift on a side table beside the stairs and glanced around -- no Gwen. Was she in the kitchen? He could hear sounds from that direction. "Where's--?"
"Gwen?" George called toward the kitchen. "Our guests are here."
Peter tried to make out the tone of her voice -- was it negative or positive? -- but all he heard was the polite voice she used with her father.
Gwen came in a moment later, bearing a tray of rolls. "Hi, Mrs. Parker. Hi, Peter." She met his eyes, then, and unless he was imagining it, he saw a spark of hope.
"Hi." He nodded at her tray. "Those look delicious."
She added a pleased smile to her hopeful eyes. "Thanks."
"Everything looks wonderful." May swept past them with her pies to lay them on the kitchen counter. "I hope we'll have room for these!"
"I could be stuffed to the gills, and still find room for your pie, Aunt May." That was no flattery -- he really could. Aunt May's pies were legendary.
She squeezed him on the arm as she walked back past. Gwen seemed to watch this exchange with interest, George smiled thoughtfully. Peter hoped he was making a good impression.
With a brisk, "Shall we eat?" the four of them sat down to the meal.
Conversation around the table was light, and thankfully, Gwen had stopped the silent treatment. It seemed that just being here when he was expected was helping his cause.
"So, Peter..." George began after finishing his mashed potatoes, "How's your job at the Bugle going?"
"It has its ups and... and downs." Peter swallowed, realizing the unintentional double entendre too late.
George gave him an enigmatic look. "I can imagine."
"It's, it's just that Mr. Jameson is never happy with my photos. And he never wants to pay me what I know they're worth. Luckily, I have Mr. Robertson on my side or I'd probably never get more than a few bucks for each one."
"Every little bit helps out, dear." May assured him.
"I've seen your photos." George took a roll from the tray and buttered it. "They're very impressive. How do you get some of those shots?"
Peter tapped his nose, and tried to keep his voice light. "Trade secret. Some of the other freelancers would love to know."
George chuckled. "I suppose we all have our little secrets. But some of the angles on the ones you got last week--"
George was cut off by the ringing of the phone. Almost simultaneously, Peter's cell phone vibrated in his pocket. I bet that's Jameson. Speak of the devil. He didn't have any photos of the events of Christmas Eve -- having any would have made the Captain suspicious. And he didn't have any desire to get chewed out over the phone while sitting at the table with Gwen. He ignored it.
"Excuse me." George got up from the table, picked up the phone, and frowned slightly. "I'd better take this." He stepped around the corner and out of earshot. Gwen sighed and pushed her green beans around her plate.
May noticed immediately. She asked brightly, "So, Gwen, we've heard about Peter, what's going on with you?"
"Me? Nothing much." She snuck a glance at Peter, which made him blush a little. He knew she wanted more to be going on. Gwen continued, "I'm enjoying my internship with the Connors'. There's so much to learn."
"And you get to spend more time around Peter, too, don't you?"
"Yes." It was Gwen's turn to blush. "There's also this new doctor, Dr. Warren? He's... I dunno. Different?"
Peter looked at her in surprise. He hadn't realized that Gwen had picked up on that. "Yeah, something's.... off about him. But maybe we just need to get to know him better."
"Yeah, you're probably right. I guess not everyone can be as easy to work with as the Connors."
The Captain came back into the room, carrying his police jacket.
May set down her fork. "Oh, no, George. Do you have to go?"
"Yes, there's a situation developing downtown, and as much as I want to stay here..."
Peter straightened. The tingling headache came back with a vengeance. "What kind of situation?"
"Nothing you need concern yourself with. I doubt Spider-Man--" He cleared his throat. "He probably won't even show up. But they do need me, so..." He looked to his daughter for permission.
"Go, Dad," Gwen said in a firm voice, different from the resigned sigh she had given earlier.
"We'll save some pie for you," May promised.
"You ladies are too good to me." He walked over to Gwen and gave her a kiss on the top of her head. "I'll be back as soon as I can."
As George was leaving, Peter's phone vibrated again. Jameson probably wanted photos of whatever was going on... Peter mentally shook his head. There were other photographers at the Bugle. People who were on salary. They could handle this one.
"Your father is a very dedicated man," May said quietly. "You must be proud of him."
"I am..." Gwen said, her brave face melting away again. "And I feel so guilty that I want him to stay when other people need him so much."
May reached across Peter to lay a hand on Gwen's. "But you need him, too, right?" At Gwen's nod, she squeezed her hand. "There's nothing more important to him than you, dear. Remember that." Then May stood and looked at Peter and Gwen. "Who's ready for some pie?" she announced.
Gwen raised her hand meekly.
"I'm always ready," Peter half-joked.
"Wonderful! You kids go sit in the living room. I can get the dishes and the pie, too."
She wouldn't let them argue with her, and practically pushed them away from the table. Peter was more than a little suspicious that she was trying to leave them alone for a while. Gwen's embarrassed smile showed that she knew exactly what was going on, too.
They sat on opposite ends of the couch. Peter looked down at his hands, struggling with how to start. Gwen seemed a lot more receptive to listening to his side of the story tonight. But he still worried that he would mess up again. He looked over at Gwen. She was also looking down at her hands.
She looked at him. "Yes?"
Could this get any more awkward? "I..." Parker luck, please stay far away from me... "I..." He shifted, and his eyes fell on the Christmas gift. "I got you a present."
Her eyes widened in surprise. "You did?"
"Yes." He stood up quickly and went over to the side table where he'd set the gift upon coming in. "I hope you like it."
Gwen took it in her hands and slipped a nail between the edges of the gift bag to part the tape. "I'm sure I..." She stopped when she saw what was inside. She was silent a long moment, so long that his stomach clenched. Then she spoke. "Oh, Peter..."
"'Oh, Peter, I like it?'" he finished hopefully.
She turned to him with a broad smile. "I love it. I don't know how you knew..."
A warmth flooded through him at that smile. "Knew what?"
"Well, I've always sort of felt like Spider-Man was... sort of... looking out for me? Especially ever since the Thanksgiving Day parade. And then he was there the other night, too..." Her voice drifted off as she picked up the Spider-plushie and stared into its white eyes.
"Maybe... maybe he is."
She looked up at him in confusion. "Did he tell you that?"
And just like that, Peter was on the spot. Should he tell her? After the way she reacted to her father having to leave, could he deal with disappointing her all the time? "N-No..." he finally stammered out. "Not in so many words. It's not like we actually... talk or anything."
"Really? I thought that he--"
Peter's cell phone buzzed again, and the poor timing actually made him jump. He tried to ignore it again. If he and Gwen were going to have a relationship, he had to deal with this sooner, rather than later.
"Was that your phone?"
"Yeah," he said sheepishly. "Jameson probably wants pictures or something. Everyone else who has this number knows I'm here tonight."
"But it might be important, right? I don't mind if you check." She stood. "It'll give me a chance to go get your gift."
She answered with a shy smile and hurried up the stairs.
He sat there for a moment, a stupid grin on his face. She bought him a gift, too? That had to mean she was going to give him another chance, didn't it? Suddenly he remembered the phone and pulled it from his pocket. He flipped it open and found three notifications - a missed call, a voice mail and a text. They were all from MJ.
He skipped right to the text: "subway. get sm. help"
Peter's headache flared and he jumped to his feet. "Oh, my God."
"What is it?" He turned to see Gwen coming toward him, a gift bag in her hand. "Is something wrong?"
"It's MJ. There's something wrong on the subway. She wants me to--" Peter closed his eyes and set his jaw. "--to get Spider-Man."
Gwen frowned. "Didn't you just say you've never talked to him?"
"I haven't. Not directly." How could he explain without dropping this revelation on her? He couldn't just say, "'Cause I'm Spider-Man, Gwen. Gotta swing!" He opted for a half-truth, something he could elaborate on later. "But I know some of the places he likes to hang out." He shifted from foot to foot, glancing nervously at the door.
"Well... go already! I can give this to you later."
Peter smiled and unthinkingly drew her into a quick, grateful hug. "Thanks."
When he pulled back, she was blushing slightly. "I'll tell your aunt that the paper demanded you get pictures."
"Then it's good I have my camera," he joked, patting his back pocket.
Peter grabbed his jacket from the stand and left just as Aunt May was coming out of the kitchen with the pies. But he was sprinting down the street and then taking to the air before he could hear Gwen's explanation. His odd headache was back with a vengeance. And whatever was bothering him seemed to be worse as he headed for downtown.
Once he was a safe distance from the Stacys' house, he pulled out his phone to listen to the voicemail. "Tiger," MJ began. "I don't know how long my signal will last... There's been a subway accident. Our train has been stopped in a tunnel for over--" The message cut off.
Peter put on extra speed. He had no idea where the accident was, but he followed the buzzing in his head until it led him to a score of flashing lights outside a subway station. He dropped to the top of an ambulance, and called down to an officer, hoping this one would be as understanding as Captain Stacy. "Need any help?"
The policeman glanced up in surprise. "Spidey!" He scratched under the brim of his hat. "Maybe... We thought this was a subway breakdown, some people stuck in the tunnel. We got most people out, but there's something wrong in the last car... We keep sending guys in..." He looked at the entrance to the station nervously. "...and no one is coming out."
Peter frowned beneath his mask. "What does the Captain think?"
"We lost radio contact with him fifteen minutes ago."
Next: Part 6