Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse
Word Count: Ch. 3 - 1400 words
Summary: A series of vignettes about Peter and MJ’s first days together after Spider-Man 2, and the reactions of the people around them to their new relationship
Chapter Teaser: J.J. Jameson took a breath – amazingly – to notice his son was not paying attention to him. "Dammit, John! Instead of just running back to the base with your tail between your legs, you should be doing something!"
Chapter 3: Honest at Last
John stared distractedly out of the window of The Daily Bugle's headquarters, too tired to concentrate. And it was no wonder – his father was in the middle of one of his famous tirades, one that seemed interminable, considering he had been hearing it practically without a pause since his wedd—that night. John was too exhausted to respond to it anymore.
"...two-timing, worthless piece of crap doesn't deserve it! John, my boy, why are you protecting her! Say the word, and your ex-fiancée and this Casanova of hers will be ruined! She'll never work in this town again!" J.J. Jameson took a breath – amazingly – to notice his son was not paying attention to him. "Dammit, John! Instead of just running back to the base with your tail between your legs, you should be doing something!"
Sighing heavily, John came away from the window, moved his carry-on suitcase out of the way, and sat heavily in the chair facing his father's desk. "Dad..." he closed his eyes tiredly, then looked at J.J. with frustration. "Do we have to go over this every hour before I leave?” He brought a hand up to massage his temples. “I won't tell you who it is. I still care about Mary Jane - I don't want to destroy her just because we aren't together anymore. I just want to move on with my life."
A knock sounded at the door. His father’s senior editor, Robbie Robertson stepped in, seeming not to notice that his boss had company. "J.J., we need a decision on page one..." He stopped only a few steps in, and his face took on a note of chagrin. "Oh, sorry, J.J.” Robbie nodded in acknowledgment. “Hello, John."
John only nodded back quietly, praying the discussion was over for now. But as always, J.J. quickly filled in the silence, as if there were no problem at all. "Tell 'em to hold off – I'm still working on something for page eight." He tilted his grizzled head and gave John a meaningful look. John's face hardened, and he gave an almost imperceptible shake of his head.
Not one to let a story setback get the best of him, J.J. removed his ever-present cigar from his mouth and plunged ahead, declaring, "All right, take this down: SPIDER-MAN RUINED MY LIFE." He gestured across his body as if he were reading the headline in front of him. "I’m sure that’s true for a lot of people, including myself and my misguided son here."
"Dad!" John chided his father angrily. He was fed up with his one-track mind when it came to Spider-Man. "He saved Mary Jane's life! If he hadn't come out of retirement that day, who knows what could have happened!"
"She did tell you that it was because of that night that she decided not to marry you, right?" J.J. said with a touch of smugness.
Robbie’s eyebrows raised and he turned to John, intrigued. "She really told you that, John?"
"Well, yes...” John shifted uncomfortably under the two older men’s stares. “She said she realized she didn't love me, after her ordeal." He winced – it still hurt to talk about it, after all, it had only been a week. "But I would rather have her alive and with someone else, than dead!"
John bent down to grasp the handle of his suitcase and hefted it. "I have to catch my plane, Dad. I'll call you when I arrive." Before J.J. could stop him with yet another argument, he headed for the door.
But before he had made it halfway out of the office, his father’s secretary, Betty Brant, poked her head into the doorway. "Mr. Jameson, Peter Parker here to see you." At the name, John halted in mid-stride. Only Robbie seemed to notice his reaction.
"Parker! Send him in! He hasn't been in with photographs since the wall-crawler appeared back on the scene!" He beckoned imperiously with his free hand, before replacing the cigar in his mouth.
Peter walked into the office, half-nervous, half-confident. He had been expecting to see only J.J…. maybe Hoffman and Robbie… And he too came to an abrupt halt at the sight of John, suitcase in hand.
"John," Peter said firmly, but quietly.
"Parker." John's voice matched Peter's in tone.
Robbie looked from one to the other with a dawning expression of realization. Betty looked puzzled, and she took a few steps farther into the office.
Oblivious, J.J. went on, "So, what do you have for me, Parker?" He seemed to completely misunderstand the awkward silence and stillness that permeated the area around Peter and John. "What? Cat got your tongue? Get over here and show me what you've got." Peter cocked his head to the side, clearly surprised at J.J.'s demeanor, and started forward.
A step later, he stopped, not wanting to push past John. After a beat, John stepped to the side, and let Peter pass. Watching Peter with quiet determination, he remained in the office.
"Uh, Mr. Jameson, I don't have any pictures for you.” He held a thin sheet of paper out toward the editor. “I have a letter of resignation. I know you don't want me around here anymore, but I felt I should still give my notice."
Ignoring the page which hovered in Peter’s nervous grip, Jameson was surprised. "You'll resign when I fire you!” he said dismissively, shifting his cigar to the other corner of his mouth. “Your pictures are usually crap, but why wouldn’t I want them anymore?"
Peter was stunned. Jameson doesn't know? He shot a puzzled look over at John, who pressed his lips together but didn't respond. Robbie, on the other hand, was trying to hide a slight smile.
He's trying to protect MJ, I guess, Peter thought, a feeling of respect for John warming him from within. But the truth will come out sooner or later. It’ll be nice to be honest with J.J. about something at least. “I thought...” he began tentatively, “after what happened between John and Mary Jane... you wouldn't want me working here."
J.J. huffed, "What do you have to do with my son and that...” His mouth opened in surprise, and his cigar dropped to the desk. “Uh... What?!" His face contorted in incredulity and he quickly turned to John. John's shoulders straightened, and he nodded. "Pa--" For once, J.J. was at a loss for words.
"So, I'll, uh, just leave this on your desk and be on my way..." Peter tried to make his exit while J.J. was still flabbergasted.
John took this as his cue to leave as well. "I've got to catch a cab right now, or I won't make my flight. See you later, Dad, Robbie, Betty." John conspicuously left out Peter's name as he brushed past and walked toward the elevators.
"That..little.." Peter heard J.J. mumble behind him. He got as far as Betty's desk before he heard Jameson’s cry of frustrated rage, "PARKER!"
But he didn't stop walking until he felt Betty's touch on his shoulder. She and Robbie had followed him out of the office into the newsroom, letting the big man fume in solitude. "Peter," Betty smirked, an impish smile on her pretty face, "I didn't know you had it in you! Good luck out there." She gave him a hug and a wink, then headed back to the ringing telephone at her desk.
Robbie gave him a hearty handshake. "You really got one over on him!" he chuckled, shaking his head. “So…” he continued, piercing Peter with a calculating gaze. “Spider-Man saves Ms. Watson yet again… and you finally get the girl?"
Peter barely avoided jerking his head back in alarm. He's doing it again! Implying that he knows... Instead, he tried to appear abashed. "Just lucky, I guess."
Robbie patted him on the shoulder. "It's nice that someone can have good luck these days. Hey, let me know if I can help you in any way. I have some connections around town, if you need them."
Peter smiled warmly. He was actually going to miss the Bugle – it was a pretty nice place to work, if you could avoid the old grizzly’s wrath. "Thanks, Robbie. I appreciate the offer. See you around." Peter shook his hand again, and headed toward the hallway.
"I'm sure I will," Robbie said quietly, but still loud enough for Peter to hear.
Next: Chapter 4: The Offer
63 days until Spider-Man 3!!