Fandom: Spectacular Spider-Man animated series
Characters: Peter/Gwen, MJ, Flash, Liz, Captain Stacy
Word Count: Part 10: 2,586 words
Betas: northern_star, mark_clark
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. Almost done -- there is only going to be one more after this. :)
Previously: Part 1 // Part 2 // Part 3 // Part 4 // Part 5 // Part 6 // Part 7 // Part 8 // Part 9
Peter and Gwen disengaged from each other, cheeks flaming with embarrassment. “Oh, uh, hi...” was the wittiest thing he could think of to say.
He glanced at Gwen to see her studying the floor, a small smile tugging at her lips. She didn’t seem triumphant that she had bested the competition at all. If Liz and MJ ever were competition. Liz was just a nice girl who deserved a lot better than that lump of a quarterback, but Peter was not that guy. MJ had proved to be a great friend, and Gwen’s biggest fan. Speaking of MJ...
“Looks like you’re feeling a lot better.” She sauntered over to the other side of the bed and actually ruffled Peter’s hair. “Not that I was really worried.”
“I’m glad you’re okay, Petey.” Liz came a couple of steps into the room, but kept her distance. “Was it scary? Being so close to that Kraven guy?”
Peter started to answer, but Flash’s snort of laughter cut him off. “Why do you think Parker passed out?”
“It was the gas, genius,” Peter grumbled.
Flash ignored him, puffing himself up as much as he could, considering his broken leg. “Kraven... scary? Hah! He’s just some Steve Irwin wannabe. Too bad I wasn’t there, or he’d already be in custody.” He nodded, totally delusional.
“Yeah. Too bad,” Peter deadpanned. He wanted to say more, but it wouldn’t do to disillusion Flash right now, not if Peter wanted to continue keeping his spider-life a secret.
“Actually,” Gwen said, placing her hand possessively on Peter’s arm and looking Flash square in the eye. “Peter was rather heroic. He led Kraven’s lion and his partner away from me. I’m safe now because of him.”
“Wow,” Liz said quietly, a little jealous.
“Hmph.” Flash wasn’t convinced. “Anyway, glad you made it. It would have been a real bummer of a second semester if you’d died.” He limped back toward the doorway, gesturing with his head toward the hallway. “Let’s go, babe. I wanna get home before the game comes on.”
Liz shot him an annoyed look, but followed. “See you at school, Peter.”
He smiled and gave her a weak wave. “Thanks for coming, Liz.”
Once they were gone, MJ sat in the other chair. “Seriously, you guys, I’m really happy for you. You guys finally have that... talk?”
Peter looked at Gwen with a smile and she returned it easily. “Yeah,” Gwen said. “We finally talked about everything.”
MJ arched an eyebrow. “No more distractions, then?”
Peter laughed. “Gwen will be my distraction.” He leaned over to give her a kiss on the cheek.
MJ’s eyes sparkled, and she stood. “Well, I’ll get going then. Gotta take advantage of the end of winter break, you know.” She winked and headed for the door. Before she left, she turned to Gwen. “You take care of him, okay? Sometimes he forgets that he needs saving, too.” She was out the door and down the hall before either one of them could respond.
“Does she know?” Gwen asked in a worried voice. “I thought you said that my dad and I were the first ones...”
Peter squeezed Gwen’s hand. “You two are the only ones I’ve ever told, I promise.” MJ’s cryptic words did bother him, though. He was going to have to ask her just what she meant.
But it would have to wait. Now that he was awake and feeling back to normal, it was time to stop pretending to be an invalid and deal with Kraven... before Kraven could threaten him again. Peter pulled back the covers and stood up. “Even though she may not know it, MJ’s right. Spider-Man needs to be saved this time, not the other way around.” He held out his hand to Gwen. “Let’s figure out how to stop Kraven... together.”
Spider-Man, armed with a fresh new costume and mask, soared through the canyons of skyscrapers, senses alert for trouble. Kraven had not shown his face since that day at ESU a week ago. It was both relieving and worrying. If Kraven were anyone else, Peter would assume he was licking his wounds... but he was probably working on a better spider-trap instead.
As good a hunter as you are, Kraven... how will you fare when you’re the prey yourself? Peter hoped their plan would work... He had been swinging across the city each night for most of the week, looking for situations where he could help, waiting for Kraven to make his move. And he desperately hoped that the Hunter would show up before Monday, when school was back in session. What if he waited until then... when Peter was actually in class? Captain Stacy was going to be teaching a class at school next semester, but they couldn’t count on Kraven deciding to attack during that class period. And the Captain and his men were a key part of this plan.
All Peter could do was continue to be visible, dangling himself as visual and olfactory bait.
Suddenly, his spider-sense tingled. Was this it? The moment of truth? Or, to be more accurate, the moment of deception?
He saw nothing out of the ordinary on the rooftops nearby. No glow of power, no flash of yellow. Yet he could feel the danger very clearly, pounding on his skull from the inside out. As he twisted in the air, he switched on a signal device hidden beneath the glove of his costume...
“Hello, my young friend,” a voice called from the shadows.
Peter turned toward the sound, which had seemed to come from a dark alley between two buildings. He couldn’t see anything there, or even sense anything. He leapt into the air, away from the voice. Better safe than sorry. “Kraven! How are you even finding me? You have some sort of Spider-GPS system?”
A chuckle resounded, this time from a different direction. “Your surmise is crudely accurate. It is something very much like that.”
“Well, where can I get me one of those?” Peter asked, flipping in yet another direction while shooting out a web-line. “I’m always misplacing my keys!”
“I’m afraid this cannot be bought in a store, my boy.” Again, the voice was in another location. Peter had not yet seen even a tuft of fur yet.
“What about online? Amazon.com?”
Where exactly was Kraven? He seemed to be everywhere at once, trying to distract Peter from his real position.
“What is this, some sort of funhouse magic mirror show? You’re a regular Criss Angel!” Peter realized that Calypso had to be helping him somehow.
So they wanted to distract Spider-Man so that the Hunter could catch him unaware? Well, he would beat them at their own game.
Peter pressed the button on his device again -- the signal to Captain Stacy and his team that he was proceeding with the next phase of the plan. With one hand, as he swung away with the other, he removed a small, web-wrapped bundle from the waistband of his costume. Within the bundle was a piece of spandex, intensely-saturated with the same pheromone compound used by Kraven on the Christmas Eve bomb.
Dr. Connors had been the key to analyzing the chemical composition of the pheromone. At Captain Stacy’s request, he had tested the fabric from Spider-Man’s mask and had come up with the answer far more quickly than Peter and Gwen. And all with the warning that he keep the project classified, not telling any of his colleagues -- not Dr. Warren, not even his wife -- about what he was doing. The Captain explained that Connors could only give the information, and the vial of pheromone compound, straight to himself.
Peter would have loved to be a spider on the wall to watch Dr. Connors’ techniques first hand. But he couldn’t risk Connors connecting any of this to him, or even to Gwen, now that they were dating.
What to do with the compound once Peter had it became the next problem. Peter had been so fixated on finding an antidote to the compound, something that would erase Kraven’s scent from him completely, that he missed the obvious solution.
“What if...” Gwen had said during their strategy meeting in the Captain’s office, “...you didn’t try to erase the pheromone scent? What if you made it so everywhere he went, he smelled only that? If he can’t pick you out of the crowd because everyone smells like that?”
Peter smiled beneath his mask as he released the little package high into the air away from him. Kraven would follow that, now, until he realized it was a decoy. But he had hundreds of decoys to follow now. The second signal had activated sprays of pheromone on every major street corner in Manhattan and Queens.
As silently as possible, Peter sped away. Calypso would not be fooled by the pheromone decoys, but he hoped that even if she followed, he would be fast enough to change out of costume and get to safety...
Captain Stacy’s patrol car was parked on West 44th Street, just as expected. Peter landed beside it, opening the back door and sliding in. “How’s it going?” Peter asked, slipping off his mask.
“The team is getting into position now,” George said, eying him through the rearview mirror. “Were you followed?”
“I don’t think so... I didn’t sense that I was, anyway.” Peter quickly stripped out of his costume, changing into a fresh set of clothes folded on the back seat. George averted his eyes, though Peter was getting so used to changing in strange places that he wouldn’t have even thought to ask. He bundled up the suit and shoved it into an air-tight plastic bag.
The radio crackled to life. “Target sighted heading south on 11th Avenue, vehicles in pursuit.”
A SWAT team, combat gear all treated with the pheromone, was herding Kraven in the direction of the police station. A second group was in hiding near the station, completely pheromone-free. They would hopefully be able to escape Kraven’s attention until it was too late. They had orders to capture the Hunter, alive.
Peter shook his head, amazed. “I can’t believe those guys are willing do this for me...”
George started up the car and moved into traffic. “Though it may not always seem like it, Peter, you have a lot of supporters on the force.”
Peter looked out the car window, feeling humbled as he watched the buildings pass. “The way Mr. Jameson is constantly tearing me down, it seems like everyone thinks I’m a menace.” He sighed. “And I can’t defend myself to the public without risking exposure.”
“Many of them have seen how you’ve helped this city.” The Captain caught Peter’s eyes in the mirror as he added, “I’ve seen it.”
Peter blushed slightly, and nodded. It was an amazing feeling, having someone on his side. He’d been all alone in this for too long.
Peter and George listened to the radio traffic in silence for the next few minutes. “Target diverted down West 39th Street. Moving toward your position, Team B.” Kraven was heading in exactly the direction they wanted. He hoped that all would go according to plan...
The Captain stopped the car about a block from the police station. Peter grabbed his camera from the seat where he’d stashed it before, and slipped out of the patrol car. The Captain continued down the street to join the team guarding the station. Peter blended in with the pedestrians on the street, keeping aware of any danger. But he wasn’t sure what he could really do... he had to try to avoid giving Kraven any more proof of his identity.
Peter didn’t have to wait long -- suddenly, the sound of a police helicopter announced the pursuit was getting closer. He lifted his camera, ready to get shots of whatever he could...
Then: gunfire. People passing on the street cried out and ran for cover. Peter jogged to the police station entrance, and ducked into an alcove.
Kraven came barreling down the one-way street that ran in front of the station, leaping onto cars and across awnings. His eyes flashed, his fur stood on end, and his snarls were audible above the whirring of the helicopters. Behind him came policemen on motorcycles, on foot, and in patrol cars from the side streets.
Kraven was cornered. Which meant he was highly dangerous.
Peter could only hope that Kraven would be so distracted by the overpowering smell of his own pheromone and the noise of the massive chase, that he would miss the final trap...
Just as Kraven crossed 9th Ave, Peter triggered a stream of webbing from two shooters placed on opposite sides of the street. The sticky fluid caught Kraven’s legs, and he was yanked into the air, thrashing and screaming. “Spider-Man! You have disgraced the hunt!” Kraven could slice his way out in moments, but that was all the time the team needed.
A barrage of tranquilizer darts hit Kraven. He spasmed in pain and shock, eyes bugging out before going mostly limp.
The police were on him in a flash, binding his arms and legs before cutting him free of the webbing and lowering him to the pavement. Kraven groaned. Peter was amazed -- even shot with that much tranquilizer, he was still conscious!
Peter had been taking photos throughout most of the capture -- now it was time for a close-up. He made sure he was in Kraven’s woozy vision, but out of reach, and took several photos at various angles. Then he pointed to the sky, to a shadowy figure on the top of one of the buildings. “Hey! Is that Spider-Man?”
The police officer next to him, totally unaware that he was standing beside the real Spider-Man, cupped his hands around his mouth and shouted, “We got ‘im for you, Wallcrawler!”
The figure waved and disappeared from view.
Peter didn’t know who it was, but the Captain had assured him that the young rookie had been eager to help the charade.
Kraven snarled one last time, and he looked toward the top of the building where the faux-Spider-Man had been. “I thought you were honorable...” he muttered. His eyes fluttered and rolled back as he finally passed out.
Peter watched them load Kraven into the armored van heading for the prison at Ryker’s Island. He caught Captain Stacy’s eye and nodded his thanks. The backdoors slammed shut, and the van drove away.
Bye, Kraven. You chose the wrong prey.
As Peter turned to leave, he felt a prickling of his spider-sense. He turned in a quick circle, but did not see any danger at all... only the traffic beginning to clear and go back to normal. He increased his stride, and by the time he was far enough away from the station to web-swing safely home, the danger had passed.
Just after he soared away, a limousine turned onto West 40th Street. Its passenger scanned the street for a particular young man. She hoped she would remember him once she saw him again, but she could not detect him with her magic.
She rubbed at her temple with elegantly manicured fingers, where the cursed web-balls had struck her and taken her short-term memory. She narrowed her eyes in frustration, her other hand curling into the mane of the lion who lay his head in her lap like an overgrown kitten.
“Driver,” Calypso commanded, her eyes going red with rage. “Take us home.”
Next: Part 11 (Final Chapter)