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Birthday Fic: Freeze-Frame, 1/1

Title: Freeze-Frame
Author: htbthomas
Disclaimer: Marvel owns it all!
Comic: Amazing Spider-Man
Spoilers: Nothing after 1987 ;)
Pairing/Characters: Peter/various, Peter/MJ
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: 1387
Summary: While trying to set up a special photograph, Peter thinks back to some of the photos he has taken of the loves of his life.
Author's Notes: This is a Belated Happy Birthday ficlet for mark_clark, for his prompt: “Peter remembers his past loves and how lucky he was to wind up with MJ.” I hope it makes up just a little for your birthday being overshadowed by the Book-Which-Must-Not-Be-Named :D

Thanks also to van_el and chickadilly for giving this a once-over!

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

Peter tilted the camera, adjusting the image in the viewfinder to get the perfect angle. He wanted to get just the right lighting, composition… It wouldn’t be hard to get a decent photo, not with such a photogenic subject, but still, he wanted this one to be special.

He paused, chuckling to himself. It was amazing how much he had learned over the years about good photography. Lord knows he knew just about diddly-squat when he first started out. After all, most of his earliest published photos were not a product of his own photo-taking skills, but instead to the ‘skills’ of the auto-shutter on his camera…

- - -

“C’mon, Peter... just one picture.” Betty Brant smiled widely, tilting her hat and leaning coquettishly against the brickwork. “Aren’t I prettier than Spider-Man?” she teased.

Peter scrubbed a hand against the back of his head. “Of course you are, Betty,” he answered, embarrassed. He’d never had a girlfriend before, let alone a girl like her! Working for the Bugle, out on her own… she was nothing like those awful high school girls, who lived or died by one look from Flash Thompson. He grimaced, and lifted the camera. If they could only see what a great gal I’ve got. He clicked the shutter a few times, while Betty giggled and turned in a silly imitation of a runway model. Although Liz Allen seems to be coming around…

Betty gave him a peck on the cheek, eyes bright. “I can’t wait to see those when they’re developed.”

“I bet they’ll be worth a fortune, with your looks,” he complimented her. She really is the perfect girl, isn’t she?

She chuffed him lightly on the arm, before her smile faded. “Too bad ol’ Jameson only wants your pictures of Spider-Man…” Her eyes clouded and she looked away. Well, maybe not…

- - -

The pictures had been terrible – amateurish, blurry, not even cropping could save them. He hadn’t gotten the shutter-speed, f-stop or even the film speed right. But Betty had loved them anyway, ‘a Peter Parker original’ she had claimed. She had been a lot of laughs, and if not for her terror of Spider-Man, maybe even the one. But Ned Leeds came into her life, and college soon filled his…

- - -

“Are you sure you want me in the picture, Gwendy?” Peter made one last adjustment to the tripod – he had fiddled for quite a while with the camera and all its settings, adjusting the aperture, agonizing over which lens to use for the picture he wanted. He had even improvised something like umbrella lights. He’d had the thought that Gwen’s father, Captain Stacy, might like a semi-professional portrait of his daughter for his birthday. Gwen had loved the idea, but she had one change…

She laughed, a musical sound he thought he would never tire of, and beckoned for him to sit beside her. “For the thousandth time, Peter Parker, yes. We’re a couple, now, right?”

A pleasant warmth filled his chest as he nodded. He pressed the auto-timer button, and slid quickly to the sofa.

Gwen continued, “Well, you’re important to me, and my father—”

At that moment, the warning light on the timer began to blink rapidly, cutting off her thought as they froze to smile for the photo. Gwen slipped her hand into his just before the flash.

Rubbing his eyes with his free hand – the mask usually protected his eyes from the brightness – he prompted her, “Your father, what?”

“My father – I know he likes you.” She squeezed his hand in her lap lightly. “He hasn’t really come out and said it in so many words, but he… approves of you.”

Peter sat back with a huff of astonishment. “Really? Why?”

“You sell yourself short, Peter. You’re a good student, with a bright future ahead of you, you manage to find time to hold a job on the side…”

“In other words, I’m quite a catch,” he finished with an impish grin.

Gwen kissed him gently. “Whether you really think so or not… all I know is I feel safe with you. And I know my father agrees.”

- - -

He felt a sharp pang as he remembered that, as he always did. They had been anything but safe around him, her father dead in the fallout from a battle with Doctor Octopus, Gwen herself slain through a combination of the Green Goblin’s cruelty, and his own tragic mistake.

Peter tried to think of happier times again, though any memory of Gwen was tinged with a sadness that never quite faded. He would not allow it to fade.

It was no wonder, after another disastrous relationship with Deb Whitman, that Peter had just about given up on love. Spider-Man was doomed to get between him and any chance for happiness. But a flash of skin and tight leather, a flip of long, platinum hair, and the languid wink of an emerald-green eye… and he was hooked again. Grappling-hooked, that is.

- - -

Felicia’s foot bounced up and down from her crossed legs as she lounged in the chair across the room. It was a quiet night for once, something the Black Cat never liked. From over the top of the newspaper he was reading, Peter saw her eyes dart down to his camera bag beside her kitchen table.

“Do you really have to carry that thing everywhere, Spider?”

He let the paper slip to one hand, and leaned back against the spot where he had perched on the wall. “It’s my bread and butter, ‘Licia. Of course I do.”

She made a face, though even a grimace was beautiful on Felicia Hardy. “Such a waste of talent. Photography,” she sneered mildly.

He let a thin stream of webbing shoot out to snatch up the case, and the camera was into his hands in a moment. “Oh, there are a lot of benefits to dating a photographer. Who else could make sure they got your good side?” He snapped a photo of her lounging there below him, moonlight making her silvery hair almost glow. She looked like the quintessential 1940s pin-up girl – shades of Marilyn Monroe, or Bettie Page, even…

“Who says I have a bad side?” Felicia shot back teasingly, claws almost out.

He snapped another photo. “Oh, not me…” he smoothly replied. His confidence had come a long way since those first blushing dates with Betty. “Although there are a few sides of you I hope no one else has ever seen,” he added, eyebrows rising suggestively before snapping another shot.

She rose smoothly, stalking toward him with feline grace, and placed a hand over the lens. “Put your mask back on, put that thing back down…” Her other hand slicked slowly across her abdomen toward the zipper on her bodice. “…and I’ll give you a sight so stunning you won’t need a photo to remember me by.”

The camera clattered unnoticed to the floor.

- - -

“Hey, Tiger, are you going to just stand there all day, or actually take my picture?” Mary Jane called from the railing, snapping him out of his reverie. The light breeze lifted her auburn hair from her twinkling green eyes. Mary Jane, who had been there to knock him off his feet when things with Betty were going sour. Mary Jane, who had been there to help him pick up the pieces after Gwen’s death. Mary Jane, who came bursting back into his life after it was clear Felicia was only interested in the superhero, not the man.

And most importantly, Mary Jane, who had always known about his dual identity, but stuck by him through thick and thin.

He started to reframe the shot with an embarrassed grin, to capture the beauty of the French countryside behind her, and then he lowered the camera to rest on the patio table.

“What?” she asked, eyebrows drawing together in a cute frown.

“I was going to… but I decided a photograph just doesn’t do you justice.” He swept her up in his arms, lifting her easily. “Besides,” he added with a kiss and push through the double doors into their suite, “There are a lot better things we could be doing on our honeymoon than filling a photo album.”

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

Do you have a birthday coming up? Request a ficlet!


( 28 comments — Leave a comment )
Aug. 6th, 2007 01:20 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful, Barb. Thank you.

*hugs and kisses*

Each moment that Peter remembered with each girl was like a trip back in time. It was able to make me picture each moment as if it happened in the comics.

You captured the time with Betty perfectly.

Probably the saddest part was with Gwen. It was something that she would include Peter in a picture to give to her father. Oh yes, George Stacy did approve of Peter and Spider-Man. Too bad things didn't work out, thanks to Norman Osborn/Green Goblin. To this day, Peter has never truly gotten over what happened to Gwen and I don't think he ever will.

Felicia was perfect here as well. Again, she acted like she did during that time. Things could've been different between them if she was able to love the man behind the mask. I think she can do that now, but he's taken now. Cat will always care for both Peter and Spider-Man.

Now, to the love of his life, Mary Jane. They have shared a lot of things together, both good and bad but somehow they managed to stay together. Once again, you captured the time period beautifully. It took Peter and Mary Jane a while to finally find each other but in the end it was worth the journey it took to eventually get to where they are.

Thanks again for this fic and it does make up for my overshadowed birthday. Any true Spider-Man fan will enjoy this fic. Outstanding job with this one my friend, outstanding.
Aug. 6th, 2007 06:03 pm (UTC)
Yay! I'm so glad you liked this, I was so happy to get the plot bunny for your prompt so easily.

I haven't ever tried to write anything set in the classic comicverse, and I really enjoyed it! Each girl was supposed to have a different mood and evoke the time period of the relationship. I'm so pleased how it turned out.

*kisses* on your birthday!
Aug. 6th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
I'm terrible with fic feedback, but I loved this! The way you structured it was such a neat idea, and very much in character for all the girls involved.
Aug. 6th, 2007 06:05 pm (UTC)
Oh, but you have NO idea how excited I am that you reviewed! I know vidding is your specialty, so I'm honored you read it AND liked it. *hugs*
Aug. 6th, 2007 05:38 pm (UTC)
Great stuff. I'm still smileing ^__^
Aug. 6th, 2007 06:06 pm (UTC)
Thanks! It made me smile to write it, so I'm glad I could pass it along! :)
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Aug. 7th, 2007 01:15 am (UTC)
Oh, wow, I actually wondered if you might read this... I'm thrilled you did!

I was trying really hard to capture the stylistic elements of each era, and chose my words carefully. The fact that it read like it was out of the comics pleases me so much. *grin* I love writing canon. Even so, this one just flowed -- I really love the relationship aspect of the Spidey comics.

I should go back and find that panel in the comics and see if it would make a good banner scan for you!
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Aug. 7th, 2007 02:17 am (UTC)
Ah, man, maybe I should have used the "groovesville" talk! :D

And really glad you caught the "fatal flaw" I was trying to work in. MJ's the only girl who is really right for him, no matter what the naysayers may think. ♥
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Aug. 7th, 2007 01:20 am (UTC)
Okay, I'm not good at reviews either, but this is just really good. After finishing I stared at the computer and thought about it. It's really very beautiful. It shows how Peter's grown up. It shows how he and Mary Jane are perfect together. They love each other and they're happy and mature. They have no secrets. It also shows how the beauty of romance isn't angst: it's those little moments where you can be yourself and just feel good.
Aug. 7th, 2007 02:49 am (UTC)
It also shows how the beauty of romance isn't angst: it's those little moments where you can be yourself and just feel good. -- Isn't that absolutely true? ♥
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Aug. 7th, 2007 01:10 pm (UTC)
Wow, thank you for liking it that much! Your rec means a lot. :)

I was definitely going for that - showing that he was really in love with all of these girls, and happy, but yet there was one little thing missing. And MJ has it. I hope my fondness for all of the women came through, even though I'm obviously a Peter/MJ shipper.

Thanks for the review!
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 9th, 2007 02:34 pm (UTC)
Re: here from recced_em
*blush* I was really pleased to be recced for the new comm, thank you for coming over here to read it!

Peter has really matured over the years, and it was fun to compare his growing facility with a camera with his growing maturity in relationships. And he'll be beside MJ for all time in my heart - no matter what happens in the main titles. ♥
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 10th, 2007 02:56 am (UTC)
Thank you very much! I'm really glad you read it and enjoyed it, even though it's out of your normal fandom! *hugs*
Aug. 13th, 2007 07:38 pm (UTC)
This was so lovely, and I appreciated it even more as I'm making my way through years of ASM and various other titles. Although it seems odd for someone like me who likes Peter/Harry, I also think that MJ is perfect for Peter. No one loves or understands him more. Thanks for helping ease my post-vacation blues!
Aug. 13th, 2007 11:45 pm (UTC)
Thank you! That's a really great thing to hear. I completely agree, obviously, but I really think the other girls were good for him at the time. Peter and MJ both needed time to grow up before they came together.
(Deleted comment)
Aug. 17th, 2007 01:50 am (UTC)
Thanks. *blush* This really turned out great... I think it might be my favorite of the Spidey oneshots I've written in my "career". It even got recced on recced_em! *proud* :D
Aug. 19th, 2007 04:50 am (UTC)
Sugar rush!
Aug. 19th, 2007 11:26 am (UTC)
Hehehehe. Yeah. I aim to please the birthday person, and I know he's not a fan of angst!
Aug. 23rd, 2007 11:39 pm (UTC)
Everything I know about Spiderman I've learned from friends and the movies, so it might not mean much when I say I found this awesome, but I found this awesome! :)
Aug. 23rd, 2007 11:42 pm (UTC)
Oh, thanks!! I think of my recent work (summertime) this is the one I'm proudest of! ♥
Dec. 29th, 2007 04:46 am (UTC)
Admittedly, I'm not the most knowledgeable nor entrenched MJ/Peter shipper out there, but these two have always pulled at my heartstrings...and I think my little shipper heart just about shriveled and died with the conclusion of OMD (Lord knows why I keep up with canon--morbid curiosity or masochism, take your pick). My poor shipper heart needed reviving stat, and luckily, I knew just where to find that revival.

As always, your way with words and spot-on characterization bring me away from the here and now and to another place altogether...a happier place...a much happier place. Thanks, ECQ. You saved my shipper heart from total cardiac arrest tonight. :)
Dec. 29th, 2007 04:52 am (UTC)
Whee! mithah returns to my LJ!

I do admit I wrote this with OMD in mind. And I read the last issue of that today myself... I am heartsick. :(( And yet I knew it was coming. But there were SO many other WTF? things in there - Harry, and Jackpot, and OMG, where to begin. Or end. *sigh*

I can only hope that this whole thing gets re-retconned by the next EiC (let it be soon).

But thank you so much for the lovely review! I wish I had more of this happy Peter/MJ stuff to help. Maybe "We Gather Together"? Though that one's more a family-oriented tale.

Don't be a stranger! :D
Dec. 29th, 2007 05:30 am (UTC)
It's good to be back, and what better time to immerse myself in quality fanfiction than after the WTF? events of OMD? I'm heading to the library. ;)
( 28 comments — Leave a comment )

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