Fandom: Spectacular Spider-Man animated series
Characters: Peter/Gwen, MJ, Flash, Liz, Captain Stacy
Word Count: Part 8: 2,446 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 // Part 5 // Part 6 // Part 7
“Kravinoff?” Peter asked with concern. He couldn’t imagine a reason Dr. Warren would be keeping a file on Kraven. Perhaps he’d acquired a DNA sample to study...? That could really help them out! “Open it.”
Gwen shook her head slightly. “I can’t. See?” She double-clicked and a password-protection dialog box came up. “Do you want to try to crack it?”
“Hmm. Even if we had the time, I doubt we’d crack it. I know my way around a science lab... but I’m no hacker.” Peter tilted his head at Gwen. “Unless...?”
“No.” She laughed mirthlessly. “Are you kidding? Can you imagine a police captain’s daughter knowing something like that?”
They sighed together.
“If we didn’t need to keep this project a secret,” Gwen continued, “we could try asking him.”
“Even then...” Peter started to read some of the other folders on the screen. Cloning, DNA Enhancement, Marko, O’Hirn, Thermal Suit Technology... Peter went cold all over. Warren was studying Sandman and the Rhino, too? To what purpose? And the other subjects scared Peter more than they intrigued him. He shivered. “Don’t ask me why, but... something seems off about him.”
“You know, I don’t really like him either,” Gwen said, closing the window and swiveling toward him on the stool. “So what do we do now?”
Peter shrugged helplessly. “I don’t know. I guess I just don’t have the experience to analyze the chemical sprayed on Spider-Man’s suit.” This whole situation had made one thing blindingly clear to him: he might be super-strong, and have spectacular powers... but he was only a 17-year-old high school student. Even if he was considered a science prodigy, which he himself doubted sometimes, he didn’t have the time to hone his skills. Peter took a deep breath. “Spider-Man might have to get someone else to help.”
Gwen put a hand on his shoulder and then drew him close. “Peter,” she murmured into his hair. “It’s okay. You did the best you could.”
Peter reveled in the feel of her arms around him, wishing that he could stay like this forever. His alter-ego twitched internally against that thought, reminding him that time was running out. He rebelled with, Can’t I just enjoy this for one moment? The other voice quieted. Peter had won the argument... for now.
“Thanks... I just know I could do better if I had more time.” He released Gwen reluctantly, and glanced at Dr. Connors’ office. He was still there; the light was on, and a trickle of classical music drifted from underneath the door. “Maybe Dr. Connors will know a way to block Kraven before it’s too late.” He took a few unsteady steps toward the office door.
“Wait...” Gwen called. “Did you say, ‘block’?”
Peter stopped, and looked back at Gwen. She was frowning thoughtfully. “Yes...?” Peter asked.
“We’ve been trying to analyze the chemical... but we haven’t tried blocking it, right?”
“Right...” he said, taking a few steps back toward her. “But we have to know what it is before we can block it, don’t we?”
“Maybe so... but maybe not.” She turned back to the computer and began to type into the search engine as she talked. “Earlier, when I was looking up different types of cat pheromones, I came across an article on urine marking.”
Peter wrinkled his nose in disgust. “Surely Kraven didn’t...” The chemicals in the bomb had been yellow in color...
“I don’t know what Kraven did, Peter. Did Spider-Man... smell funny to you?”
“No! I mean, I don’t think so!” At least no one had complained about it when he had come back from the fake terrorist situation at the hotel! He remembered Captain Stacy wrinkling his nose a bit, but nothing more. Aunt May would have scoured the house for a stray cat if he had smelled that way!
“Well, okay... but it doesn’t really matter. In the article, it mentioned that they’ve discovered a fatty acid compound that mimics a cat’s pheromones. The ones they use to mark their territory by rubbing their faces against things.” She clicked through to a page with a chemical formula. “What if Spider-Man used that somehow to mask the other scent?”
Peter’s eyebrows rose with the possibilities. He read through the article quickly, noting the compounds and the formula. “You know... you might be onto something there. If Spider-Man used it to confuse--”
Just then, his spider-sense went off, warning him that someone unexpected was approaching. Peter turned to see a woman with dark, flowing hair and ebony skin approaching from the entrance to the lab. “Hello, is anyone here?”
As she came closer, Peter took note of her expensive clothing and jewelry. “Pardon me,” the woman asked, her voice tinged with an accent Peter couldn’t place. She inclined her head toward the faculty offices, “Is Dr. Warren available?”
Gwen minimized the information on the screen before answering. “No, I’m sorry. You just missed him. He was here just a few minutes ago. Dr. Connors is here, though,” Gwen added, gesturing toward the lighted office. “Do you want me to get him instead?”
The woman’s lips pressed together in annoyance. “No, that will not be necessary. I will...” She trailed off, eyes narrowing as she studied Peter. “Mister... Parker... is it?”
Peter’s eyes widened. This woman knew who he was? “Um, I...” He started to back away from her slowly. “...what do you want?”
The woman smiled slowly. “Perhaps I do not need Dr. Warren after all...”
“Do I... know you?” he asked diffidently. As he continued to move backwards, he tried to reach for the on button on his Bluetooth headset.
Her smile grew wider, almost feral. “No, but you soon will...” She snapped her fingers behind her back and Kraven’s lion suddenly appeared. How had they made it through the police perimeter?
Gwen shrieked and scrambled around the other side of the lab table from the beast.
“Don’t worry, my dear,” the woman said dismissively. “You are not its prey...”
At her words, the lion sprang forward. Peter was already sprinting around the corner toward the other side of the lab. “Gwen! Get out of here!” he shouted. He tapped the on button of the headset and subvocalized “Call Stacy.” As soon as he was out of Gwen’s sight, he shot a strand of webbing ceiling-ward and clambered on top of one of the high ceiling beams.
“Stacy. Is there a problem, Peter?”
The lion skidded around the corner, and stopped when Peter was not visible. The animal’s tail lashed back and forth as it stalked forward.
Peter spoke as quietly as he could, filling his voice with whispered urgency. “Someone got through -- a woman and Kraven’s lion. Gwen needs help!”
Despite his best efforts, the lion looked up.
“What about you, P--”
Peter cut him off. There was no time to waste. He pulled a ski mask out of his pocket and threw it over his face. He had brought it along since he hadn’t had time to get another spider-suit, not even a knockoff Halloween costume. And maybe it was better this way -- if he could get far enough away, he might be able to blend into a crowd quickly. To further change his look, he shed his jacket. Then he leapt across the ceiling beams to one of the high windows of the lab. If Kraven was out there, hopefully he was watching the other side of the building. He forced the window open with a push...
...and Kraven was suddenly on him, tackling him to the roof. "A change of clothing will not fool me, my young friend." Kraven tried to pin him to the roof, looming over him with a snarl.
Peter didn't respond. The less Kraven heard his voice, the better -- especially since the ski mask didn't cover his mouth at all. Peter kicked Kraven clear, ran for the edge of the building, and he swan-dived into the air. His webbing latched onto the nearest building and he looped around it, hoping to put enough distance between him and the Hunter to escape.
Out of the corner of his eye, he saw Gwen being hurried to a patrol car by men in heavy police jackets. Thank God she’s okay, ran fleetingly through his mind as he zipped on. Peter heard a barrage of gunfire from the police officers, and a primal yell from behind him. Maybe they’d distracted Kraven enough for him to get out of range?
But immediately his spider-sense flared, and he veered to avoid a set of tranquilizer darts. He was going to have to get out of sight as soon as possible. He couldn’t be seen swinging around ESU in a T-shirt and jeans any longer than necessary. Fortunately, since the university was on Winter Break, there were very few students around. The few people who were trudging through the snow cried out in fright at the monster of a man loping across the ground, chased by a group of plainclothes policemen with guns.
But on the other hand, Peter needed people in order to blend into a crowd! Think, Parker, where would the largest concentration of people be at a university during the holidays? The student center suddenly looming in front of him provided his answer.
He barely paused as he crossed the quad, using the light poles to hopscotch over the open area to the roof of the building. He tore across the cement to the access door. Locked. With every bit of adrenaline-fueled strength he possessed, he wrenched open the door. An alarm went off in his wake, but he didn’t have time to worry about it. Below him was a stairwell a couple stories tall. He gauged the height, and then dropped. Just before the bottom, his body jerked to a stop with a shot of webbing.
He pushed out of the stairwell immediately, palming off his ski mask. Now that he was here, he had to make sure he didn’t look out of place. He scanned the area in front of him, maybe someone had left a hat lying around... or a backpack... a coat would be nice right about now...
He caught sight of a sign. “ESU Assumes No Responsibility for Articles Lost, Stolen or Damaged. Lost and Found at Information Desk.” Perfect.
He walked with his head down, dodging people coming the other way, including a couple security guards heading toward the stairwell. He wondered how much time he had before Kraven and the police converged on the place. Happily, the information desk was still open for the day. “Hi,” he greeted the worker, a little breathlessly. Hopefully it would seem like he had been looking everywhere for something. “I think I left my jacket here earlier... can I check?”
“Sure,” the brunette said with a distracted smile, pointing to a box against the wall. An instant message popped up on her computer screen and she typed her reply in the box.
Well, at least he wouldn’t have to worry about anyone looking over his shoulder while he dug through the box for something that fit him. The first jacket he yanked from the pile looked a little too large, and when he tried it over his arms... “Ugh!” He fought to breathe because of a strong aroma of body odor.
It would have to do. From the front of the student center came the crashing of glass and people started to scream all around him. He pulled the hood over his head and slipped into the panicked crowd.
Kraven stood inside the ruined entrance doors, eyes scanning the scattered students huddling away from him. He sniffed the air as if he were tracking, but he didn’t pause in front of where Peter stood with a clump of college kids. He frowned, baring his long canines in annoyance. Was the previous owner’s body odor blocking Peter’s own scent? Awesome!
The police officers who had been following Kraven burst through behind him. The leader yelled, “Freeze!” and a chorus of weapons being loaded followed suit.
Kraven chuckled, and turned toward them slowly. “Do you think I am afraid of you? Not one of you is a match for the great Kravinoff!”
One of the men stepped forward, and Peter immediately recognized Captain Stacy. “Not much of a hunter, endangering innocent people like this.” He trained his gun on the lion-man with a steady hand.
“You may blame Spider-Man for that, Captain. He hides here like a pygmy mouse, these children as pebbles before his burrow.” Kraven drew an enormous knife from his pack, and sliced it through the air before the students. They gasped and crowded farther away. “Who will you allow to fall to my blade instead of you, little mouse?”
“Put the knife, down, Kraven,” Stacy ordered. “Or else.”
With one movement, Kraven swept the gun out of Stacy’s hand, with the next, he held the Captain up off the ground by his shirtfront. “You dare threaten me?”
Stacy remained surprisingly calm. “There is a sniper outside with his sights trained directly on you. As strong as you are, I doubt you’d survive against a shot from a high-caliber rifle.”
“Playing rough, eh?” He laughed. “I can play rough, too.”
There was a thud from amongst the officers. Then another. Soon all of them had passed out on the floor beside the entrance. Stacy slumped in Kraven’s grip, unconscious. The people around Peter began to murmur in fear.
The woman from the lab appeared then. She stepped over the bodies, her hand outstretched, her eyes glowing red with power. “Kraven, my love. Finish him off so we may continue the hunt.”
“In due time, Calypso. I am not a savage, to cut a man down for possessing honor.”
“At least let me shorten the search...” She waved her hands in a complicated pattern before the crowd. Peter began to feel drowsy. What was she doing? Putting everyone to sleep magically? He didn’t know if he could fight off the effects.
He had one chance to stop her, and his aim had to be perfect. He shot two web balls directly at her head. She only had a moment to see them coming before they hit her temple dead square. She crumpled.
Kraven roared, dropping Stacy like a rag doll. He turned toward the source of Peter’s shot, and then pitched forward in pain as a bullet tore through his shoulder. Another followed, taking him in the thigh. His eyes flashed yellow with rage as he scooped up Calypso and bounded away through the snow.
That was all Peter had time to notice before the darkness claimed him, too.
Next: Part 9