Barbara (htbthomas) wrote,

Enquiring Minds, 10/12

Title: Enquiring Minds, 10/12: No Choice
Author: htbthomas
Rating: PG-13
Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse, post Spider-Man 2
Pairing: Peter/MJ
Word Count: Ch. 10 - 1480 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: Vogel was certainly intent as he stalked along the street, eyes searching the dark skies. He looked suddenly toward the side of a building. “Parker!” he rasped, motioning Peter toward him, “I think I saw him swing past.”

Of course he hadn’t, but Peter played along. “Really?” he whispered back.

- - - - - - - - - - - - - - -

Chapter Links: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9 | 10

Chapter 10: No Choice

Shadows zigzagged across the moonlit sidewalk and Peter felt more in his element than he had in days. Only problem – I’m not dressed for the occasion, he joked to himself. At night, wearing street clothes seemed somehow inappropriate. He trailed after Vogel, who was strangely silent tonight. He had been positively chatty up until the time of the press conference. Thankfully at least, Peter was fairly certain he hadn’t been in touch with any of the big networks yet with the negatives. The silence was disturbing, coupled with an even greater sense that Vogel meant him - Spider-Man - harm. Peter had known that Mary Jane’s denial would make Vogel angry. Angry enough, he hoped, to slip up. But instead of bluster and carelessness, his anger had become cold and calculating. Peter needed to get his hands on the negatives, especially since it would be difficult to prove they were altered. But the fact that Vogel was too secretive to use a computer worked in Peter’s favor. If he destroyed the negatives, the press would only have Mary Jane’s word against a sleazy paparazzo. But first I have to figure out where he keeps them...

They were slowly heading for a seedier part of town. Vogel had explained that if they were lucky enough to see a crime in progress, they might also catch Spider-Man in the act. Peter had gone along with it, agreeing it might be a good idea. Anything to keep tabs on him before he turned the negatives over. It worried Peter that he had been forced to leave Vogel earlier, even if it had only been an hour and a half. When he called Vogel up afterward, the photographer had suggested this outing in an overly friendly voice. His spider-sense had flared sharply at the time. Peter chalked it up to renewed malice toward Spider-Man.

Vogel was certainly intent as he stalked along the street, eyes searching the dark skies. He looked suddenly toward the side of a building. “Parker!” he rasped, motioning Peter toward him, “I think I saw him swing past.”

Of course he hadn’t, but Peter played along. “Really?” he whispered back.

“Yeah. Follow me.” Vogel turned a corner onto a dark street. The street lamp halfway down the block was on the fritz. It flickered briefly on, then off again.

They walked carefully, looking every direction, when, out of nowhere, a man stepped out of from a dark alley. “Stop right there,” he warned in low, gruff voice, the shadows obscuring his form and face. The light flickered again, revealing a gun pointed at the two of them. “If you two gentlemen would kindly hand over your wallets, I’ll let you live.”

Peter tensed, ready for a fight. But weirdly enough, he felt no sense of danger from the mugger. Maybe the gun isn’t loaded. He’s just bluffing his way through this.

Peter tried civility. “We don’t have anything of value. I only have a couple dollars in my wallet.” He started to walk slowly toward the mugger. If he could disarm him, no one would need to get hurt…

“Yeah, buddy, we don’t have anything but a couple cameras,” Andy added.

Peter shot Vogel an annoyed look. He amended, “And cheap ones at that.” Peter stepped ever closer.

The mugger waved his pistol at him. “Don’t take another step. I’ll shoot!”

There was still no sense of danger. The streetlamp flared again, and the man’s face was illuminated. The look Peter saw there was not malice, not fear, it was more like... nervousness. “You wouldn’t really do that,” Peter soothed. It would have been ten times quicker to knock the guy out, disarm him, and web him up for the police to find, but Vogel’s presence complicated everything. The would-be criminal started to back up, toward the corner of a building. Peter’s spider-sense sharply flared – oh, God, I hope I haven’t spooked him into firing…!

The mugger suddenly stopped, and the gun dropped from nerveless fingers to clatter on the pavement. A voice drawled from the shadows, “If you’re not gonna do it, let me help.” The butt of a gun appeared from behind the man, glinting in the faint light, and cracked against the guy’s temple. He slumped noiselessly to the ground in front of them.

Around the corner came a much larger man, full of menace. This guy means business. The new threat bent down calmly to take the gun, and pocketed it in his trousers. Watching Peter and Vogel, he removed the other mugger’s wallet, watch and cell phone.

He flipped the wallet open, glanced at it, and then pocketed it as well. “A little careless to be caught with ID. But he’s obviously not cut out for this.” He confidently pointed his own pistol at the two of them, and said, “Now, let’s continue where he left off.”

Vogel’s voice was markedly different this time, almost scared. “We told the guy we don’t have anything!” Peter nodded.

The big man chuckled mirthlessly. “Oh, I think I overheard something about cameras at least. Hand over the wallets and cameras, before I take them from you the hard way.”

Peter started to empty his pockets. I can ditch Vogel after we get out of this, and retrieve our stuff. Vogel started to do the same. They tossed their wallets down, and carefully set the cameras on the sidewalk. The mugger looked at Vogel and said with a touch of sarcasm, “Everything, man.” He gestured to the camera bag over Vogel’s shoulder.

Vogel tried to bargain, a little frantically. “I already gave you the camera. This is nothing but an empty bag.”

Why is he protecting the bag so desperately? “Andy, just hand it over, he’s pointing a gun at us!” Peter insisted in his best frightened voice.

“You don’t understand,” Vogel began, and in a moment of decision, took off running the way they had come, clutching the bag.

Peter’s head snapped around to watch Vogel pelting down the street. What is he doing!?

The mugger’s lips twisted wryly. “Bad decision, my friend.” Almost contemptuously, the gunman aimed and shot. As his finger pressed the trigger, Peter leaped into action.

A normal person would have heard a shot, seen a blur, and seen two men go down. To Peter’s enhanced senses, it went something like this. Peter’s spider-sense spiked as he felt the mugger’s intention to fire. A powerful kick knocked the gun away from his hand, but not before the bullet had already left the barrel. Peter followed that up with a punch that knocked the guy out cold.

He spun and raced to check on Vogel. No matter how I feel about him, he is still a human life. Vogel was lying on the street, clutching his side. Peter crouched beside him. “Andy! Are you hurt?”

Vogel’s eyes fluttered, his breathing was labored. “My side… I… think I’m shot…” He winced in pain at the effort of speaking.

Peter gently moved Vogel’s hands from the wound. “Let me see…” The bullet had entered his back and gone into the vulnerable part of his abdomen. There was a large amount of blood already soaking his clothing. Peter lifted the shirt and looked at the entrance wound. I’ve got to stop the bleeding, or he’ll die… For a split second, not really long enough to be conscious, Peter considered his options. He could let him bleed out, and Peter’s problems with the photos would end. Or he could use his powers to save him, but surely reveal his identity in the process.

There is no choice here. As always, the weight of his responsibility guided his actions. “Hang on, Andy. I’ll get you help.” He used a stream of webbing to completely cover the wound.

“It wasn’t supposed to be this way…” Vogel whispered painfully. The loss of blood seemed to be making it difficult to remain conscious.

“Don’t speak, Andy. We’ll be on our way soon.” Peter didn’t want to just leave the two muggers on the ground. Either one could wake and get away before the police could arrive. He quickly checked the pulses of both men and found they were unconscious, but fine. The guns he webbed to the light pole, out of reach, and then bound the two men separately with webbing as well. Turning back to Andy, he found the other man’s eyes on him, filled with agony. Was he even cognizant of what was going on?

Peter yanked his mask out of one pocket and snagged their belongings with a web from the other hand. Covering his face, he hoisted Vogel into his arms and took off for the nearest hospital. As they were in the air, Vogel moaned once more and began, “No one was supposed to get hurt…” His head slumped to the side as he passed out.

Next: Chapter 11: Remembering

39 days until Spider-Man 3!!
Tags: fanfiction, spider-man

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