Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse, post Spider-Man 2
Word Count: Ch. 7 - 1925 words
Summary: It is a month before Peter and Mary Jane’s wedding, and everything is seeming to go wrong. Unknown to the happy couple, help is about to come from an unexpected source.
Chapter Teaser: Peter’s first reaction to finding the camera and discovering that yet another wedding detail was in ruin had been to rush off to pummel Harry unconscious. After all, he had warned Harry that if he bothered Peter’s family, he would do something about it. But Mary Jane had caught his arm, reasoning with him...
Chapter 7: Alterations
Lightning flashed behind him, illuminating the inside of the master bedroom. For a split second, his silhouette was eerily projected across the untouched bed. There are no lights on anywhere in the mansion. Where could he be? Peter crawled across the face of the building, taking care to avoid the windows, now that he knew he could be seen. It would be impossible to enter without tripping the intrusion alarms - surely Harry would have made sure that every window, no matter how high, was monitored.
He peeked in the corner window of the study. It was too dark to see if anyone was within. Another flash of lightning revealed a figure lying still on the chaise lounge. Harry was probably all too aware that that particular piece of furniture had been the scene of two of the greatest shocks of his life. Finding his father dead… and finding out his best friend’s secret identity. Last summer, Harry had hardly come near the spot, but he had obviously come to terms with it since. I’m still surprised he would sleep there... In the dim light, he saw the figure rise and move to the other side of the room.
Peter’s first reaction to finding the camera and discovering that yet another wedding detail was in ruin had been to rush off to pummel Harry unconscious. After all, he had warned Harry that if he bothered Peter’s family, he would do something about it. But Mary Jane had caught his arm, reasoning with him:
“Peter, what if it isn’t Harry? Do you really want to cause him physical harm when you aren’t sure?” she pleaded.
“Of course it’s Harry! That scrap of metal could only have been a pumpkin bomb. He must have found his father’s arsenal.”
“But the only bomb I ever saw Norman use disintegrated on impact. And just because it was orange, doesn’t mean it was a pumpkin bomb. It could have been anything.”
“My instincts tell me it wasn’t just anything, MJ. And I have learned not to ignore them.” He moved again toward the window, shaking off her grip on his arm.
“Tiger, listen! Even if it was Harry, if you rush off, half-cocked, mind full of revenge, you have no idea what he is now capable of! Don’t you think a little reconnaissance would be better?”
His gut was telling him that Harry was behind this, but Mary Jane had been right. Who knew what other plans Harry had in store?
Harry stood before a full-length mirror. He seemed to press something on the wood paneling beside it, and the mirror slid to the side to reveal an opening. A light switched on inside. For a moment, Harry was fully visible in the frame of the opening. He stood erect, confident, wearing an undershirt and silk pajama pants, hair mussed a little from lying down. He then purposefully strode inside.
Does he look... more muscular... somehow? Harry had never been much of an athlete, and those arms were better defined than Peter remembered. So there’s a secret room back there... if I could only get inside. Crashing in would defeat the purpose of reconnaissance. He watched and waited an hour, but Harry stayed inside the room. Finally, Peter gave up and went home.
Another hour later, the rain cleared, and the moon appeared again from behind the clouds. The moonlight revealed an empty syringe on the table beside the chaise lounge.
“So what do you think about their latest predicament?” Madeline Watson asked before taking another sip of tea.
“I have faith that everything will work out all right,” May replied. “Peter is worried about it, Mary Jane is trying to make light of it – but those two always seem to come out of their predicaments relatively unscathed.”
“They do seem to get themselves into trouble a lot, don’t they?” Madeline smiled indulgently.
What May couldn’t tell her was that there was a good reason they always seemed to be in trouble. She and Madeline had gotten together regularly for tea since Peter and Mary Jane had begun seeing each other. Madeline had been as relieved as she had been when Mary Jane had left the astronaut at the altar. “She wasn’t happy with him – even her father could see that. She just seems to glow now that she’s with your dear Peter. And to tell you the truth, I wasn’t thrilled to see her marry a boy with such a dangerous job.” Madeline had said.
May had nearly spit her Earl Grey all over the tablecloth, but she agreed with Peter that the fewer knew ‘the secret,’ the better. “Yes, they do,” she agreed.
“Well, I’ve been doing some thinking. There are only about two and a half weeks to go until the wedding, but I know you’re handy with a sewing machine. I’m not great, but surely together we could create a lovely dress for Mary Jane.”
“I’ve been doing some thinking myself.” The rings they had were the ones Peter’s parents had worn… what if the dress had a family tradition as well? “I still have my wedding dress. I know it’s somewhat old-fashioned, and too large for Mary Jane, but what if we used it as a starting point?”
Madeline’s face lit up. “A fabulous idea! We could take it in, add to it, whatever she wanted!”
Suddenly the phone rang. “Just a minute, Madeline.” May got up as gracefully as her old bones would allow, and walked over to the phone to pick it up. “Hello?”
“Aunt May – don’t react. Pretend this is a sales call.” Peter’s voice came across the line, sounding worried.
“Yes, this is the lady of the house. May I ask who’s calling?”
“Good. Now listen, but put a bored expression on your face. Have you received any gifts in the mail lately, out of the blue? If the answer is yes, say that you don’t need a second mortgage. Don’t look over at it! If it’s no, say that you are happy with your television service.”
He was being so mysterious, but he probably had good reason. She thought for a minute… there was the centerpiece she had received a couple of weeks ago. Giving Madeline an apologetic smile, she said, “I’m sorry, I don’t even own a house anymore. Why would I need a second mortgage?”
“Where did you put it? See if you can work it in to your answer.”
“Goodness gracious, no. I’m approaching 70. Why would I want to remodel my kitchen? There’s just me and the occasional friend who comes to tea.”
“Aunt May – MJ and I discovered a hidden camera in a clock supposedly sent by Louise. Be very careful what you say around the gift until I get a chance to examine it. I’m coming over right now.”
“Sorry, I’m just not interested. I hope you have better luck with your next call. Good day.” May hung up and came back to the table, trying not to glance at the object in the middle of it. A hidden camera in this centerpiece? She hoped he was wrong. “Sorry, Madeline. You know those telemarketers.”
“Always calling in the middle of something,” Madeline commiserated. “About the dress...”
“Why don’t we go into the bedroom so you can see it? I have it wrapped up in a protective box.” May led Madeline out of the room and away from the possible recording device.
May opened the closet door and took the box off the top shelf. She had kept it in mothballs for years, but when she moved to the smaller apartment, she had placed it in one of those new-fangled vacuum seal bags. She lifted the cover of the box, and opened the top seal of the bag to let the air back in. Then she lifted it out and shook it.
Madeline’s face brightened as the creamy folds of the satin unfurled. “Oh, it’s lovely, May. I think it has great potential.”
“I thought so, too,” May agreed, pleased that they were going to be able to help the kids out. But Peter would be over any moment – it only took him minutes to cross the city in his peculiar way. “Oh! I just remembered. Peter said he was coming over this afternoon to talk. Could you pretend we didn’t have this conversation? Just tell Mary Jane about it, okay?”
“My lips are sealed.” And like magic, the doorbell rang.
“That must be him, now. I’ll stall him while you put this back in the box.” They nodded to each other, and May went to answer the door.
Opening the door, she cried, “Peter! So glad you could come over!” She gave him a hug that was not faked. Every time he left her, she worried it would be the last time she saw him.
“Hi, Aunt May.” He gave her a kiss on the cheek and then looked around the apartment. “It’s Tuesday, isn’t it? Is Madeline here?”
“Yes, she’s in the bedroom. We were looking at some old things of mine.” She led Peter into the living room. In a low voice, she said, “The gift is a centerpiece on the kitchen table. Do you think we’re far enough away from it?”
Peter stilled, closed his eyes, and then took a deep breath. “I was able to tell when the one in our place was on. If the centerpiece is bugged, it’s probably switched off right now.” He opened his eyes, and walked over to the table.
“Do you mind if I...” He nodded toward the centerpiece with his head.
“Of course, dear. I’ll go distract Madeline.” She needed to keep Madeline away from Peter until he was finished, and Peter away from Madeline until she had the box out of sight. She felt a little like the world’s most unlikely double agent.
Picking up the centerpiece, Peter looked for a place where a camera could be hidden. There. A hairline seam between the pieces at the screw hole. Only there didn’t seem to be a screw. He used brute strength to tear the centerpiece in half at the seam. It was satisfying, but unnerving, to find the same little camera hidden inside. But instead of tearing the camera out, he left it in place. He had an idea...
He headed toward the back of the apartment. “Aunt May,” he called. “I was just—”
A few feet before he entered the threshold of the bedroom, the two ladies bustled out. Madeline had a package in her hands, looking a little flustered. “Oh, hi, Peter. I wish I could stay, but I have dinner to get ready, and it’s impossible to get a cab once rush hour starts,” she explained, talking all the while as she briskly stepped to the front door and opened it. Before she left, she added, “Thanks again for the sweater, May. I’m sure he’ll love it.”
“See you soon, Madeline.” The door shut behind her.
With Madeline gone, he could talk to Aunt May about the device. They walked back over to the kitchen table so that he could show her what he had found.
“My goodness!” May marveled once he had explained his findings. “You had better destroy it!”
“Actually, I was thinking we might leave it in, if you don’t mind. We could use it to our advantage...” What better way to draw Harry out than to lay a trail of misinformation?
Next: Chapter 8: Drinks