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We Gather Together, 3/3

Title: We Gather Together, 3/3
Authors: htbthomas and Georgia Kennedy
Fandom: Spider-Man movieverse
Characters: Peter, Mary Jane, Aunt May, Madeline and Philip Watson
Rating: PG-13
Word Count: Part 3: 2,550 words
Summary: Mary Jane and Peter spend Thanksgiving with Aunt May and MJ's parents, but will her schmuck of a father ruin the whole day?
Author's Note: Thanks to mark_clark for the beta.

Previously: Part 1 | Part 2

by HTBThomas & Georgia Kennedy


This story is a work of fiction based upon Spider-Man, copyright 2002 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc, all rights reserved. Spider-Man 2, copyright 2004 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., all rights reserved, Spider-Man 3, copyright 2007 by Columbia Pictures Industries, Inc., all rights reserved, Hulk, copyright 2003 by Universal Studios, Inc., all rights reserved. and Daredevil - Director’s Cut, copyright 2004 by Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Inc., all rights reserved. The authors are not connected with nor is this work authorized by Marvel Enterprises, or the aforementioned motion picture studios. This work is intended solely for posting on fanfiction websites, for the benefit and enjoyment of their intended audiences. No commercial or financial benefit accrues or is intended to accrue to the authors as a result of said posting.

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Peter suddenly jumped to his feet, nearly knocking over Phil’s O’Douls bottle in his haste. “What the hell, Parker...?” Annoyed, Phil grabbed for the bottle before what little was left inside could spill onto the coffee table. 

But Peter ignored him, eyes narrowing as he seemed to focus on the source of the trouble.  The fire engines were clearly audible now and getting closer by the moment.  Mary Jane’s insides clenched.  A fire on Thanksgiving afternoon?  How horrible...  A vision of flames engulfing May’s comfy living room flashed across her vision, and she knew there was no other choice.   She opened her mouth, but before she could utter a word...

“Peter, oh, my goodness!” May cried with impressive dismay.  “I just remembered!  Did you bring the applesauce, like I asked you?”

Her fiancé barely missed a beat. “Oh, no... I was sure it was cranberry sauce this time...”

“No, definitely applesauce.” May shook her head.  “I suppose we can just...”

“Isn’t there a 24-hour grocery a couple blocks from here?” Mary Jane put in hurriedly.

Both Madeline and Phil looked slightly perplexed. “Hell, I don’t need no applesauce,” Phil groused.  “Ain’t it almost time to eat?”

Peter was already opening the front door, threading his arms through the sleeves of his jacket.  “No, it’s just fine, Aunt May.  It’s no trouble at all.  I’ll be back in a jiffy.”  And with that he was gone.

Twenty minutes later, it was quiet in the apartment, except for the television.  Madeline had helped May put the turkey back in the oven to keep it warm.  Annoyed that dinner would be delayed, Phil had downed another O’Douls and gone back to watching the Patriots pound the Lions into the dust on their home turf.  With less than five minutes left to play, the Pats were ahead thirty-five to three.  As usual, they were driving downfield and were close to scoring another touchdown.  “Come on Flash... Nail ‘im... Yeah!”  Phil yelled.  Flash Thompson had apparently earned some consolation points by sacking Patriots’ quarterback Tom Brady for a fifteen-yard loss on the play, not that it mattered much.    

Mary Jane sat down at the opposite end of the couch from her father, alternately watching the game and glancing out the window, doing more of the latter than the former.  ”Didn’t I tell you that Flash’s gonna be a great football player?”  Phil pointedly asked his daughter, oblivious to the expression of concern on her face.  “He coulda stayed in college for two more years, but was good enough to go out early and get drafted in the first round.  He’s gonna be all-pro, you wait and see.”  He quickly looked up toward the kitchen to make sure that May and Madeline were out of earshot.  Then shifted on the couch, moving closer to Mary Jane.  He lowered his voice, his face twisting into its trademark scowl.  “You had three guys who coulda given you everything you ever wanted, you know that?  They was all nuts about you, and you let ‘em all go for a bookworm who’s probably gonna spend the rest of his life in some lab, playin’ with test tubes.”

Whatever compassion Mary Jane had felt for her father a few minutes earlier was rapidly being smothered by an urge to smash one of those empty O’Douls bottles over that cinderblock on top of his shoulders.  Peter’s out there, probably risking his life, and he’s bringing up my ex-boyfriends again...?  But when she stopped to think about it, she realized how unrealistic it would be to expect any other reaction from Philip Watson.  He was what he was, and he was not going to change.  But that did not mean that she had to get down into the gutter with him.  She would not allow her father to ruin the day, not after Aunt May and her mother had worked so hard to prepare the sumptuous meal that they were about to enjoy.  Instead, she would engage him in a civilized debate.  ”If you felt that way about Peter at the wedding, why did you encourage me to leave John?” 

“What was I supposed to do, make a scene?  It was pretty obvious that you didn’t love ‘im.  But that don’t mean I was happy about what you did.”  He let out an exasperated sigh.  “For the life of me, I just wish I knew what you see in that Parker kid anyway, ‘cause I sure as hell don’t.” 

It was a fair question, one that merited an answer despite the grating tone of voice and obnoxious choice of words.  “Well, he’s” ...brilliant, hundreds of times stronger than the average human being and a hero to millions;  oh, by the way, did I mention that he saved my life five times?... “the only man who I’ve ever had a real connection with, the only man who loves me for who I am.”

“That and fifty cents’ll get you a cup of coffee,” Phil sneered.  ”All your old boyfriends had money comin’ outta the wazoo.  What’s Parker got on them?”

Holding her temper in check, Mary Jane got up from the couch and stepped directly between her father and the TV. One hand was on her hip; the other was pointing a finger straight at him.  “Let me tell you a few things about Peter that you probably don’t know.”  She stabbed the air with her forefinger a few inches in front of his face, actually making him cringe a little as she drove her point home.  “He’s so smart that he skipped his last two years of college and went straight into grad school.  Not only is he getting straight A’s, but he’s working as a consultant to a Wall Street investment firm that bets millions of dollars on the advice he gives them.  And if that isn’t enough for you, he’s going to medical school next year.  He’s doing it all on his own, too, without help from a rich daddy.”

But Phil was already tuning her out, his eyes drifting back toward the television screen. “Okay, I get your point.  Now, will you get outta the way so I can watch the game?” 

“I’m not finished, yet!” Mary Jane snapped, the sharpness of her tone startling him and prompting looks of surprise from Madeline and May.  “When the doctors told Mom she was terminal, Peter persuaded Columbia Hospital to let her into the nanomed program.  They didn’t want to take her at first, because they didn’t think the nanomeds would work for cancer patients.  But Peter persisted, and he was right.  And when the insurance company gave us a hard time, Peter stayed up for two nights straight, putting all the medical documents together so that I could make a case to their reps.  Thanks to him, Mom’s alive, and you’re not stuck with a hospital bill you could never hope to pay.  Does that answer your question?” 

He threw up his hands. “Fine, Mary Jane, you win. Do whaddeva the hell you want.  It’s your life.” 

Mary Jane was somewhat surprised that her father seemed to have thrown in the towel so readily.  In years past, he would never have tolerated such defiance from her.  He would go after her, usually verbally, sometimes physically. Now, though, it seemed as if she and her father were at a stalemate.  Was she finally getting through to him?  Or was he beginning to suspect that Peter just might be a force to be reckoned with?

Out of the corner of her eye, she noticed her mother whispering to Aunt May, who nodded as the two of them smiled.

Suddenly, the football game vanished and was replaced by the face of the local news anchor for New York City’s FOX affiliate.  “Now, what?”  Phil growled as a banner declaring a breaking news story started flashing near the bottom of the screen.  “This just in ... We’re taking you live to the scene of an apartment fire at the corner of Hoover Avenue and 135th Street, in Queens...”

“Jesus Christ!”  he yelled.  “That’s only a coupla blocks from here.”

May and Madeline hurried into the living room.  The four of them gathered around the television.  Mouths agape, they watched as a TV news camera zoomed in on Spider-Man emerging from the window of a smoke-filled apartment about halfway up the building, carrying a small bundle with a pair of tiny feet sticking out of the bottom.    The camera tracked Spider-Man as he scaled the wall and stayed with him until he handed the child to a police officer.  Then he fired a webline and vanished somewhere over the rooftops.

Standing next to each other behind the couch, May and Mary Jane grasped each other’s hands, the moisture in the corners of their eyes reflecting their pride in Peter.

“Arrgh!”  Phil Watson groaned when he realized that FOX would not be cutting back to the game.  He grabbed the remote and switched to the late game on CBS, which was just coming on.  “Hey, Mary Jane,” he barked.  “Why didn’t you ever make a play for Spider-Man when you had the chance?  He’s the one that saved your ass, not Parker.  You coulda had him, too.”

“Phil, give it a rest,”  Madeline said sharply.

“Spider-Man doesn’t have time for women in his life,”  Mary Jane replied matter-of-factly, sharing a surreptitious look with Aunt May. 

Her mother, meanwhile, was looking at the cuckoo clock.  “It’s getting kind of late,” Madeline pointed out.  “Shouldn’t Peter be getting back by now?”

As if conjured up by magic words, Peter walked through the front door, carrying a small shopping bag.  His hands and face were beet-red, as if he had been in the sun too long.  “I got two jars of applesauce, Aunt May.”

“It’s about time you got back.”  Mary Jane could clearly detect a note of relief in May’s voice.  She started to rush toward her fiancé, but he discreetly waved her back.  He must have been cooking inside his costume, she realized. 

“Yeah, what the hell took you so long?” Phil grumbled.   

“There was a fire near the store,” Peter explained.  “I got a little closer to it than I should’ve.” 

If he’s in pain, he’s sure doing a remarkable job of hiding it, thought Mary Jane.

“Well, that was pretty dumb,” Phil remarked.  Suddenly he looked as if he had just seen a pig fly and was struggling to come to terms with it.  The color was actually starting to drain from his face.  “You didn’t happen to see Spider-Man did you?” he asked, his voice tinged with suspicion. 

Mary Jane glanced at May, their eyes widening as MJ recalled what Phil had said to her in the bridal chamber just before her moment of liberation... I might’ve been the crappiest father in the world, but I still got eyes that see and ears that hear...

Does he suspect anything...?

But Peter showed no reaction at all to being put on the spot.  He kept his expression and body language in neutral, using relaxation techniques he had honed through years of practice.  “Actually, I did,” he replied casually.  “I caught a glimpse of him, just as he was leaving.”  He paused briefly.  “Um, the truck from FOX News was there.  Did they show it?”

“Yes, they did, Peter,”  May replied.  “Now, go wash your hands, so we can sit down to dinner.”
“Yes, Aunt May,”  Peter acknowledged.

“And hurry up,” Phil called out after him.  “We’re all starving here.”  He continued to stare at Peter until the bathroom door closed behind him.  

“Is something wrong, Phil?” asked Madeline, noticing the odd way in which her husband seemed to be following Peter with his eyes.

“No...uh, nothin’,” he replied, his intense expression fading as quickly as it had formed.   

As Peter was freshening up, May, Madeline, and Mary Jane brought out the food.  May took her place at the head of the table.  Phil and Madeline took their seats on one side while Mary Jane took hers on the other. 

Phil loosened his tie.  “I met Spider-Man once,”  he told Madeline matter-of-factly.

“You did?”

“Yeah, about six months ago.  He captured two guys who held up Jack’s liquor store over on Union Avenue.  I actually shook his hand.  He’s incredible.”

For the first time in her life, Mary Jane actually smiled at something her father had said. It was nice to hear him give her fiancé a compliment, even if he did not know it. 

Peter, meanwhile, had emerged from the bathroom and sat down next to his fiancée, his skin already beginning to change back to its normal color.  “This is some spread, Aunt May,”  he said admiringly, softly touching Mary Jane’s hand under the table. 

Mary Jane smiled and gently caressed the back of his neck with her other hand, feeling the heat from the fire emanating from his skin.  Peter turned toward her, his magnificent eyes gazing into hers.  And then they kissed.

“Knock it off,”  Phil said, his tone lacking malevolence for the first time that MJ could remember.  “We’re at the table.”

“Mr. Watson is quite right, you two,”  May echoed in mock-sternness.

“Sorry,” they said in unison as they separated their lips, but remained cheek-to-cheek, grinning sheepishly at Aunt May. 

But then, Peter turned to face his soon-to-be-father-in-law, an earnest expression on his face.  “Mr. Watson, I know it was hard for you to support your family, especially after everything you told us.” Looking Phil straight in the eye, he added, “Thank you.”

Phil Watson’s lips twitched slightly, as if he might smile.  But his demeanor turned gruff again when he saw that everyone was looking at him.  “Just don’t let anything happen to my daughter, you understand?” 

Peter nodded solemnly. “Understood.”

This time, it was Phil Watson who offered his hand.  “Not so hard this time.” The two men clasped hands across the table in what was for them an unspoken truce, for the duration of the meal, at least.  MJ held out a slim hope that it would last much longer.

Phil started to stand up, reaching for the serving knives, but paused.  All eyes were on him, Madeline gesturing with a shake of her head that he should sit down.  He lowered himself back to his chair with an awkward thump. 

“Shall we say grace?” Aunt May looked briefly at the people around the table, closed her eyes and folded her hands.  “Dear Lord, as we gather together to give thanks for all your many blessings, let us not forget how lucky we are to have each other.” 

Mary Jane couldn’t help but steal a quick peek at her family around the table.  This day had not been the disaster she feared; on the contrary, it felt like there actually might have been a small-scale diplomatic breakthrough.  Her eyes landed on Peter, who caught her grin and returned it with one of his own.  He must have been doing the same thing.

“Be with us in this holiday season, Lord, and give us the strength to stand together in times of trouble.  Amen.”

As each head raised around the table, Mary Jane  opened her eyes again, just in time to see her father, his own eyes still tightly closed, rumble his own quietly sincere, “Amen.”

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

The End. Happy Thanksgiving!


( 14 comments — Leave a comment )
Nov. 21st, 2007 12:20 pm (UTC)
Nice work, Barbara!
This scene feels very real; makes me wish we'd celebrate Thanksgiving over here too.
Nov. 22nd, 2007 01:54 am (UTC)
Thank you! Do you guys celebrate any type of family holiday other than Christmas?
Nov. 22nd, 2007 09:23 am (UTC)
Yes, there's sinterklaas too. But that and christmas is about it.
Nov. 21st, 2007 12:27 pm (UTC)
Awesome! Way cool job on this!
Nov. 22nd, 2007 01:55 am (UTC)
Thanks, I hope you have an awesome Thanksgiving!
Nov. 21st, 2007 12:39 pm (UTC)
Very nice. But it feels unfinished....
Nov. 22nd, 2007 01:57 am (UTC)
Oh, yes, I have a terrible habit of ending stories on an open note. I love the feeling of "and then more happened, just imagine...." and so I never tie up a story in a bow.

The other reason for that is that this is part of a larger universe, which will continue in Tribbleyard's Gift, so there will be more later!

Thanks for reading and reviewing!
Nov. 24th, 2007 12:50 am (UTC)
Hi, Barb: I’m getting a little caught up on the stories I’m reading. I just finished your little Thanksgiving piece with Mary Jane, her dysfunctional family, Peter and Aunt May.

Poor Mary Jane. Having to live with that her entire life. That’s really sad. But Mary Jane and Peter both stood up to him. We all have our demons, but to take it out on your family is just wrong.

I wonder, did Peter know about his past and his boxing? Interesting little plot point. I really liked it. Phil at last needed to let everyone know what happened and why he's been a jerk for so long. So, he admires Spider-man?! Nice! I really liked the ending too!

Thanks, Barb.
Nov. 24th, 2007 01:42 am (UTC)
No, Peter did not know about his past. My co-author is responsible for most of that sub-plot and writing, I think she did a faboo job!

In the comics, Philip was a failed writer who took his frustrations out on his family. It caused MJ to turn into a bit of a party girl to hide her true feelings. It was fun to do something different in the movieverse. :)
Dec. 3rd, 2007 03:00 pm (UTC)
This was wonderful! A perfect read for the holiday. A few comments/observations:

It's been a while since I read "Twin Demons," but from what I remember that was an AU taking place after Spider-Man 2, right? This fic seems to take into account the events of SM3, so I'm a little confused about the timeline.

Phil Watson - ugh! You did a nice job of giving him some humanity, at least for a while until he went back to being horrible again. Good for Mary Jane for standing up for herself. That relationship is so difficult, it can be hard to read and I can only imagine hard to write. I want to reach through the monitor and smack him.

The description of the football game made me smile -- is Chuck Varick an inside joke? Because I want him on my fantasy team!

Yay for the Spider-Man balloon in the Macy's parade!

Aunt May, I love her! “Peter, oh, my goodness!” May cried with impressive dismay. “I just remembered! Did you bring the applesauce, like I asked you?” LOL!

Please pass my compliments on this to Georgia as well. Hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Dec. 3rd, 2007 04:36 pm (UTC)
Yes, Twin Demons was an AU after Spider-Man 2, but we decided that the sequel would also borrow from Spider-Man 3 as much as possible, since it is fresh in everyone's minds.

I'll have to ask Georgia about Chuck Varick - she wrote that part and I fail at football knowledge. :D

Thanks for the comments - I had a great Thanksgiving, too!
Dec. 29th, 2007 06:19 am (UTC)
And all is good and happy, at least for the moment. A perfect mood-lifter, Spidey heroics, family dynamics, turkey, and all. :)

You and your co-author really knocked this one out of the park (I fail at football analogies, so a baseball analogy will have to do--after all, it's another great American pastime, and save me from the purists, practically interchangeable in my mind). It would have been easy to make this simply a well-characterized fluff piece (and I can't knock that; Lord knows I love it!), but you two went that one step further and gave us character development. Awesome sauce indeed.
Dec. 29th, 2007 01:26 pm (UTC)
Thanks for the lovely comments! This was a fun piece to work on -- I'm looking forward to continuing our collaboration in a longer piece (though it's pretty different in tone and theme than this one) in 2008!
Dec. 29th, 2007 11:33 pm (UTC)
Hey, long as it has Peter/MJ goodness in some form or another, I'm in! :)
( 14 comments — Leave a comment )

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