Rating: PG 13
Summary: In the aftermath of the SRA and his unmasking, Peter finds himself wondering if it was worth it.
Fandom: Spider-man comicverse
Notes: Almost forgot, big thank you to skalja, miss_tress and just_sue for making sure this was readable*g*.
There were few worse things to do to a hyperactive spider than to force him to sit still for over half an hour. One of those was forcing him to sit still while waiting for his mentor and friend to finish his conversation with the President of the United States of America.
Pinching the buttons, his nervous energy found distraction by pushing and pulling them through the holes in the fabric. There were four guards in the room with him. At first it had been just the two, big guys with a stern expression that stared at him as if he was about to break one of the probably thousands of dollars worth on vases spread around. Then they recognized him and slowly but surely the other two had trickled in. There were two empty chairs, but only the latest entry had dared to sit down, right across of him. Peter decided to call him Curly. Two of the others were whispering and pointing his way when they thought he wasn’t paying attention. He just smiled at them. They flinched and took a step back. Peter quickly returned to neutral.
One of the guards was using his cell phone. He sounded agitated. Peter groaned and sat back in his supposedly comfortable chair, his hands by his side, tapping on the empty spaces beside him. Two spiders were watching the scene from the ceiling. Peter wondered how long it had been since the room had been cleaned. The spiders said this morning; one of them was mourning its mate.
Peter got up, after a few seconds, so did Curly, who wasn’t all that curly, seeing as how he was bald. The others’ hands slowly moved closer to their side to the bulges under their coats. Peter looked at a painting for a second and sat down again. It wasn’t very good anyway. His jeans, shirt and coat seemed an empty defence to the way they looked at him. He wasn’t used to being seen as a threat while dressed as Peter. A fifth guard joined the room. It almost impressed him, if he didn’t know he could take ten more without a problem.
Tony was closing down his briefcase as he left the Oval Office. Peter got up, glad to be able to stretch his legs. He had to stop himself from jumping up to the ceiling and walking along upside down. His feet were itching and his limbs felt cramped, - God he needed to move.
He'd gotten a call from Mary Jane about twenty minutes ago. She couldn't talk for long, but she'd sounded glad not to have to ignore calls for interviews for at least a few minutes. Peter wished he knew how she tolerated it; the idea of being under the magnifying class like this was killing him. It had never felt this way when he was wearing the mask. He should just change the suit; turn it back into his costume. But then again, he wasn't supposed to do that in the middle of the White House when there wasn't any real reason for it. Couldn't get the secret security forces all upset, one of them might get a heart attack as tensed up as they all were.
The press was on them as soon as they left. Peter stood back and let Tony handle them. Ignoring the ones yelling out his name. Tony was the guy with the experience here. Peter flinched at some of the flashlights, had to stop himself from shooting webbing all over one of them when it kept flashing right in his eyes as if trying to blind him on purpose. Peter’s fingers inched towards webby pose, but he couldn’t take the risk. Jonah would practically die in orgasmic bliss if Peter were stupid enough to let him catch evidence of that on tape.
“So what does the big guy want, Boss?” Tony groaned at the nickname. Just for a second mind you, barely noticeable as he locked his briefcase, but enough for Peter to get a moment of enjoyment out of it.
“Apparently he wants a few of us at his gala diner tomorrow.”
Peter nodded, not really thinking about it; distracted by the guards they were passing. His spider sense was bothering him slightly because of all the guns surrounding them. He took a bite of the chewing gum he’s managed to find in his pocket.
“Me, Reed, Hank… you.”
Peter looked at him stunned. “Me?” He nearly choked on his gum. “Look, Tony, I don’t do dress up,” said the guy who constantly went out in a skin-tight outfit with a big spider on the front.
“It’s just one dinner, Pete. Dried out steak and wet potatoes and you’ll be bored before the night is over, but we need to show our support for the current administration. I’ve got invitations for you and Mary Jane.”
“But I.” Peter started to stutter on the words, as if all his confidence broke down at the idea of being the nerd at the school prom.
“…Along with a new ball gown for her and an Armani suit for you.”
A nerd in the best outfit, with the prettiest girl of the school on his arm. He quickly spat out his gum in his hand, wondering if anyone would notice if he stuck it anywhere. Tony held his hand out and Peter embarrassedly handed it over.
“Can I say no?”
“Only if you want to say no to the President of the United States. You don’t, do you?”
Tony folded a handkerchief around the gum and placed it in a stone ashtray planted beside a copper bench
And Peter sat there, mouth wide open, wishing Doctor Octopus would just attack already so he could get out of here. But he could never be that lucky. Tony patted his back, telling him it’d be all right.
Demonstrators stood outside. Peter tried to ignore most of them, wondering how many of them had even left their spot since Stamford had first happened. Still he noticed a
“We love you Peter,” right along side a, “Spiderfreaks should stay in the dark”. There were surprisingly few anti-Iron Man protestors - as in none.
Tony had to go to another meeting and Peter found himself walking around Washington, covering his hair under a hat to keep people from recognizing him: one of the few advantages of having an average face. Most people didn’t notice him unless they were actually looking for him.
He sat down at a table and ordered a blueberry pancake, keeping his face down so people wouldn’t start panicking, or worse, though it was doubtful, ask him for an autograph. The waitress gave him his order and left in a soft daze. It was a Tuesday evening, too late for most people, and she was probably waiting for things to close down so she could get home to the kid she had just mentioned to the guy at the counter.
There was a young couple sitting in the corner, sipping their coffee while discussing Plato versus Socrates. They were deftly ignored by a third kid; that raced through a sandwich while he kept glaring at his clock. He left five minutes later when a car honked in front of the door.
He narrowly missed running into his replacement, a kid dressed in a hooded parka; barely seventeen. Peter pretended he hadn’t noticed and focussed on his pancakes: pretend being the word, since his spider-sense went on alert the second the boy entered the room.
The waitress stopped her talk with the guy at the register. Both of them turned towards the newcomer. Peter put down his knife and fork, picked up his napkin and dabbed his mouth.
A gun appeared and everything seemed to fall still, nobody moved, nobody spoke. All eyes focussed on one spot; the gun, aimed nowhere and everywhere. Could he take it out? Peter wasn’t sure; he didn’t want to risk the kid blowing his hand off either.
“Money. I need money. You got money, give it to me!”
The clerk tried to reach for the money, but got the gun shoved in his face for his trouble.
“Don’t you dare mess with me man?! Don’t you fucking dare!”
“I’m getting it, I swear, just please don’t shoot me. I got children, please don’t shoot me.”
And the gun was waving left and right, ready to go off any second. Peter’s instinct screamed in his head as the danger increased with every second that passed.
Peter turned his chair. He hesitated a second before pulling the kid’s attention towards him.
“This really isn’t your lucky day.”
There was no one behind him. No clear metal for the bullets to ricochet off.
The next second the gun was aimed at his face. The kid’s eyes looked haunted, like he hadn’t slept for days, and he was shaking, likely desperate for drugs. Peter prayed that it wasn’t any kind of MGH. “Don’t you move, mister, I’ll shoot, I swear I’ll shoot.”
He was just a boy, young eyes facing him as if they’d seen the darkest depths the world had to offer. Peter wondered if the kid would even bother to run if he knew whom he was dealing with. Most likely he was too far out to even realize he was still human.
A second later the guy was webbed up on the floor, and Peter moved over to the waitress, helping her get up from behind one of the tables.
“Are you all right?”
By now, normally he would have paid his check and been off. Unfortunately, that was no longer an option. So he sat back down and asked for another soda. The waitress offered it to him without a second’s hesitation. She was staring at him. He bowed his head, hoping to be ignored. But no such luck.
“Oh my god, wait till I tell Billy, I actually met Spider-man! Oh Mister Parker please, will you sign something for me?” She ran for a newspaper before Peter could even stutter out a response. Two minutes later two sleepy kids were dragged downstairs and he was asked to sit still for a photograph. Memories you know. It was all a bit much. Peter saw his pancake still lying on his plate barely touched. But he didn’t dare say no. Not like he was used to having fans. By the time the cops finally arrived he’d had his picture taken with three kids, two students, two dogs, a cat, five adults and oh yes, the waitress again. He almost praised the lord when the cops finally told him he could leave.
He couldn’t believe they had actually made him pull out his superhero license. Hell, he couldn’t believe he’d ever have to actually use the damn thing.
To the Washington cops he was just a weirdo - possibly a pervert, because of the pyjamas in broad daylight - but mostly a curiosity. Peter didn’t mind. He paid his bill, even though the diner’s owner repeatedly told him he didn’t have to, and left on foot. The buildings were too low to web sling properly.
He was still Peter Parker, but no one besides him seemed to notice that anymore. Peter was okay to yell out as a name, to show they knew, that they were in on the secret, but that was all he was to them - a guise, something to hide behind.
What had he done?