Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse, post Spider-Man 2
Word Count: Ch. 3 - 1625 words
Summary: Peter is trying to work up the courage to propose, but his plans are put on hold when someone tries to make his private life public.
Chapter Teaser: As Mary Jane approached the table, Peter was struck again at how beautiful she was. The shimmering black fabric of her dress draped over her curves perfectly. The way her hair shone, the way she walked... You are one lucky man, Peter Parker.
Chapter 3: A Reason to Celebrate
“...especially newcomer Mary Jane Watson in her turn as Jean. Watson impressed audiences with her off-Broadway work in The Importance of Being Earnest earlier this year. In this production, she shows that she can play modern-day comedic heroines as deftly,” Peter read from the theater section of the newspaper. “Wow, that’s great, MJ! You must be so excited!”
Mary Jane had been sitting on the edge of the kitchen chair, a happy and bemused smile on her face. “Yes, most of the cast stayed up, waiting to read the first reviews in the early edition. I’ve hardly been able to sleep.”
He leaned over from his chair at the table to give her a kiss. “I knew you’d be wonderful. You always are. I can’t wait to see the show next week.”
“I can’t believe I actually made the review...two and a half whole sentences!” She gazed dreamily out the window.
Peter pulled his chair around next to hers. “You are worth more than a few sentences. Someday they’ll be writing whole books about you.” He put his arm around her shoulders. “Tell you what. Let’s celebrate. Which days are you off this week?”
She thought a moment, eyes drifting upward. “We are going to run Wednesday to Sunday, so Monday or Tuesday I have free. What should we do?”
“This deserves someplace special. How about that new French restaurant, La Petite Maison? I could meet you there at eight on Monday,” he offered hopefully.
She startled a little. “Isn’t that place a little... expensive... for us right now?”
He smiled a secretive smile. “I have some news, too. You know that call from Mr. Jameson?”
Her eyes widened. “Oh, in all my excitement over the review, I completely forgot about it! What did he want?”
“You’ll never believe it, but he offered me a full-time job at the Bugle. With benefits. And I can set my own hours, too.”
“He did? The big man asked you to come back?” she asked incredulously. “I never thought I’d see the day J. Jonah Jameson would swallow his pride.” She chuckled at the image that came to her mind – she would have given anything to see that.
“He didn’t come out and say it, but I think they’re having a hard time selling papers with no pictures of Spider-Man.” And he winked as he said, “And no one else can get photos of Spider-Man like Peter Parker can.”
Peter was dressed in his nicest – okay, only suit. He fidgeted at the table as he waited for Mary Jane to arrive. She would be shocked to see him here before her.
His first day back at the Bugle had gone pretty well, considering his history there. Betty and Robbie were happy to see him, but some of the others in the office kept giving him sidelong glances and whispering behind his back.
Jameson seemed to be in denial that he had ever left. In J.J.’s mind, that ugly little incident (his stealing of his son’s fiancée and subsequent resignation) never happened. Or at least, was of no consequence to a true businessman.
He had a few assignments for the week, and had standing orders to be on the lookout for Spider-Man. I wonder how few times I can ‘manage’ to catch Spider-Man, and still keep him happy? Peter mused.
He glanced at his watch. 8:10. Mary Jane still hadn’t arrived. I hope nothing has happened… She probably doesn’t expect me to be here yet, he thought ruefully. The ring box was starting to burn a hole in his pocket. Suddenly, a flash of red hair caught his eye, and he turned to see Mary Jane talking to the maitre d’ about their reservation. He calmly gestured toward Peter at the table. She turned, surprised, and then broke into a wide smile.
As she approached the table, Peter was struck again at how beautiful she was. The shimmering black fabric of her dress draped over her curves perfectly. The way her hair shone, the way she walked... You are one lucky man, Peter Parker.
“Hey, Tiger.” She bent to give him a kiss. “This is a nice surprise.” As she sat across from him, she added, “I’m sorry I was late. You were on time?”
“I was early,” he stated proudly. “And it has been a quiet day, too,” he amended.
“The city is smiling on us, then. I get you all to myself tonight.” She picked up the water glass and held it aloft. “To the best superhero photographer in New York.”
He followed suit. “To the rising star of the Broadway stage.”
“To our future,” she added, and clinked her glass with his.
To our future together, Peter added silently. They drank, but Peter made a face. “It doesn’t feel right to toast over water.”
“Then let’s get something more festive. We are legal now, you know.” Mary Jane waved a waiter over to the table. “A bottle of the house white, please.”
“Certainly, miss.” As the waiter walked away, Peter wondered how much even the house wine would cost in a place like this. Oh, stop worrying. We’re supposed to be celebrating tonight!
They soon ordered, nothing too fancy. After the meals arrived, they talked and laughed as if they hadn’t a care in the world. Peter felt an overwhelming sense of contentment, mixed with the bittersweet awareness that this could have been his for a couple of years now, if he’d only trusted Mary Jane with his secret after Norman’s death. But I’m going to do my best to make it up to her now. He surreptitiously slipped his hand into his pocket, fingers closing around the ring box. He could hardly wait…
But something had been bothering him all evening. A couple at a table nearby had been glancing over at them throughout their dinner, whispering to each other. Peter’s spider-sense wasn’t going off, but he was normally hyperaware of his surroundings at all times. With a sense of foreboding, he couldn’t help but wonder what they found so interesting.
Finally, after some nudging, the husband came over to their table. Peter and Mary Jane stopped talking and looked up questioningly, Peter’s hand clenching tensely in his pocket. The man cleared his throat and began, “I’m sorry to interrupt, but my wife and I have been arguing about this all evening...”
What is this about? As harmless as he seemed, Peter was wary of everyone these days. Were the two of them in the subway car?
“Uh, well, my wife thinks she recognizes you.” He was still not looking directly at either of them. Oh, no, here it comes. I hope he keeps his voice down...
He turned his gaze on Mary Jane. “Are you Mary Jane Watson?”
Peter was startled, Mary Jane flattered. “Yes, I am.” She nodded and smiled over at the man’s wife.
The woman shot her husband a vindicated look. The man continued, “We loved your work in The Importance of Being Earnest, but you were even better this weekend. Could we get an autograph?”
He handed over a scrap of paper and a pen. She signed it with a flourish and a brilliant smile. “Thank you for the compliment. I hope you tell your friends about the show.”
“Oh, we have been,” he told her effusively. “Anyway, thanks for your time. Good luck!” They shook hands, and he returned to his table, where his wife spoke to him with excited whispers.
Mary Jane was brimming with excitement herself. “Wow,” she said in a hushed tone. “I’ve had my share of autograph seekers after the shows, but none outside the theater.”
“You are a wonderful actress, MJ. This is going to start happening all the time, I bet.” Peter smiled at her, but then his face took on a worried cast.
“What’s wrong?” She touched his hand, concerned.
“Oh, nothing,” he began, but her worried eyes made him continue. “For a minute there, I thought it was me they recognized. You know, the subway incident...”
Mary Jane squeezed his hand reassuringly. “If no one has come forward in over three months, you can be pretty sure they are keeping quiet out of gratitude. If anyone ever approaches you, surely they would be more careful.”
He nodded, hoping she was right. He had been terrified about it for weeks, expecting every person on the street who looked at him askance to be one of the train passengers. Over time, the worry had faded, but he would never allow himself to forget it. He couldn’t – or his loved ones might pay the cost.
The busboy came by the table to collect their plates, breaking him from his thoughts. “May I take these for you?”
Now that the table was clear, and they were down to the last half of the bottle of wine, Peter poured each of them another glass. The time had finally come. “Mary Jane, I have been wanting to ask you something for a long time now.”
“What, Peter?” She looked curious and a little excited. Has she guessed?
He stood up from the table, and came around to take her hand. “Mary Jane...”
Suddenly, an explosion rocked the restaurant. Their glasses and bottle toppled over, spilling everywhere. Several patrons cried out in shock and horror. Peter turned toward the sound. The blast had come from outside, down the block. This wasn’t directed at me – no wonder I didn’t sense it in time. But people are probably hurt. “MJ, I should...”
“Go. Go! I’ll take care of everything here.” She gestured toward the bill and the wreckage of their table. When she turned back, he was already gone.
Next: Chapter 4: An Itch
53 days until Spider-Man 3!!