Authors: co-written by liliaeth and XxBrooklynnxX
Summary: One glimpse was all it took, one moment of being caught on tape and Peter's life would never be the same.
Categories: Fanfiction, Fanfiction > Spider-Man, Fanfiction > Spider-Man > Spider-Man Movies Characters: Gwen Stacy, Mary Jane Watson, May Parker (Aunt May), Peter Parker (Spiderman), Matt Murdock (Daredevil), Captain George Stacy
Genre: Action/Adventure, Alternate Universe, Angst, Drama, Friendship
Warning: Character Death
As a native New Yorker, Mary Jane Watson hadn’t even bothered to try and get a cab, she knew it was faster and safer to hoof it, than it was to try and get a cab. Especially after what had happened last night.
Mary Jane was not running, but was not walking either. The streets of New York City were often too crowded for running. But she quickened her pace all the same, her red hair blowing behind her as she faced the brisk wind. The police station was only two blocks away now.
As an actress, she was noticed on the streets, though rarely. And now that Peter's biggest secret was out in the air, floating and waiting for anyone who had a TV or computer to grab it, it was only a matter of time before her face was stamped as "Spider-Man's girlfriend."
She still didn't know how they had managed to keep her name out of the press the first time she'd been kidnapped to be used against Peter. The second time... Jonah had left her out of the article at John's request. But what would happen now? No one was looking out for either of them.
She was wearing a baseball cap and a shirt that John had left behind at her apartment. She was almost grateful she'd never found the time to return it to him. She did not want Peter to see her in such disarray, but she couldn't pretend she was all right. And neither could he.
She passed a newsstand, and hanging on racks outside its wooden frame were copies of nearly every major paper, with the face of Spider-Man plastered on its cover. "Spider-Man Revealed!" "The Face Of The Hero!" "Spider-Man Unmasked!" The headlines attacked her and made it hard to breathe. And then there was a picture herself on the bottom left of the National Enquirer. The headline that ran above her face was, "Behind the Hero's Sweetheart." She felt all the strength go out of her knees then.
The guy behind the counter didn't really pay attention to her; he was busy with another client. "I can't believe he's just a kid. My own boys are older than him!"
Mary Jane turned her head, afraid of being noticed. She just wanted to get to the police station and try to begin to sort things out. Or at least, try to figure out how to begin.
"Just a college student. I wish my own kids showed that much community spirit," the other man answered.
Well, that's one way of seeing it, Mary Jane thought to herself. "I guess the girls throwing themselves at him can't hurt either. In between that blonde chick he saved, or the redhead, I'd almost be tempted to start wearing spandex to have girls run at me. ‘Cause, whoa, momma..."
Mary Jane was tempted to turn around and tell the two men off, and saying that they were disgusting pigs. But they were New Yorkers. What else could one expect?
"Man, if you were wearing spandex the girls would start running all right. The hell away from you, that is."
Mary Jane bit her lip. Don't say anything, don't say anything, she thought. She desperately tried to hold back a snicker, then quickly paid for her paper and went on her way. She had decided not to buy the Daily Bugle. She was tempted to, but she did not. Instead she opted for the New York Times, because it seemed to ask that most important of questions... where had the footage revealing Spider-Man's identity come from?
Mary Jane read on as she walked, careful not to bump into anyone. The paper stated that a disc had been dropped off anonymously to a local news station. The footage showed the fight between Spider-Man, Venom, and Sandman. And clearly, when Venom had ripped the mask off of Spider-Man's head, he had not been the only one to see his face.
No network had claimed the actual footage, It was clear that it had been made by professional cameras, rather than some amateur's accidental shot. Accidental shots were often blurry and unfocused, and always so shaky that the face could not be identified. But the screenshot in the papers could see the face, all right. Peter's face was right there. His bloody, bruised, beaten face. It showed Peter in all his humanity and the papers already hailed it as the news photo of the year. All Mary Jane could see was the boy she loved in pain.
There were some more articles – one of them was making an attempt at describing Peter's life. Lost his parents in a plane crash at age 5, raised by his aunt and uncle, his uncle shot by a burglar when he was 17...
Mary Jane took a deep breath, as she realized that life truly was not fair. Peter was such a good kid. And after his life had been a mess, he tried to do something good for the city. And look where that got him now. The police cars and throngs of people showed Mary Jane was getting closer to the station. The article had been making the assumption that Peter's fight against crime was in revenge over losing his uncle. But Mary Jane knew better. Oh, it might have been, she knew that too, but Peter would have never kept going as he did, if vengeance had been his only purpose. That's not how his aunt had raised him.
Aunt May had honestly done a wonderful job with Peter. She had raised a superhero! Mary Jane wondered how she was doing, and if all this had sunk in yet. She had tried calling her, but the phone line had been busy. Maybe May had taken the phone off the hook, to give herself some space. Or maybe she was bombarded with phone calls, as Mary Jane was sure everyone would be. She was afraid to check her answering machine when she returned home.
Mary Jane wondered how she could possibly get into the station. Will all the press outside she really didn't want to go through the mass of it. The mob outside the station was insane; Mary Jane had never seen anything like it. People had no respect for their hero. She thought people would care and try to help him. But no, they had their camera phones out and tried to get something he touched so they could sell it on eBay.
Mary Jane glanced at the station windows, and inside she saw none other than that blonde girl, Gwen Stacy. Mary Jane tilted her head so he could see inside better. Gwen was speaking with her father. Mary Jane was filled with a moment of contempt for the girl who had kissed Peter too, but right now Mary Jane knew she was her best bet. She went up to the window and banged frantically with her fist.
At first Gwen and her father seemed to ignore her; she knocked again, hoping not to attract too much attention to herself from the press. The captain seemed to be coming her way, he looked angry. Mary Jane backed up a bit and it was then that Stacy recognized her. Mary Jane mouthed, "Get me in!" Gwen understood instantly, and tapped her father on the shoulder. Within seconds, he and Gwen were at the top of the stairs, calling Mary Jane and ordering everyone else to part so she could get through.
Neither Mary Jane or Gwen said a thing as they walked further into the station. They were beyond words. Mary Jane nodded at Captain Stacy, who was about to speak before she asked him, "Can I see Peter?"
"I'm afraid he's talking to his attorney right now." And then she noticed him looking away to two black clad men waiting at the back of the hall – they looked furious. The Captain didn't say a word, but the anger in his eyes when looking at the two men told Mary Jane all that she needed to know. They were a threat to Peter, and interrupting Peter and that lawyer now might endanger him.
Gwen looked at Mary Jane and smiled. Mary Jane was still wearing sort of a scowl, and it was harder to break out of that facial mold than she thought it would be. When Mary Jane looked at Gwen, a harsh voice ran through her head, screaming, "You kissed Peter. You slut, you kissed my boyfriend."
But then Mary Jane looked at Gwen's eyes. They were tearing up. Because she cared about Peter, too. Mary Jane quietly asked her if she wanted to go into a different room, and Gwen led the way. Once they were alone, she turned around and told Mary Jane what her father had just told her. That some government agency wanted Peter, that they claimed he was their property and connected to the serum that drove Norman Osborn insane. Osborn, the Green Goblin, she’d heard it from Peter, but now everyone would know. Poor Harry, it took her a second to remember that Harry was gone. And then Gwen told her that Peter was being sued by numerous people, though none had a strong case.
Mary Jane just stood there. She couldn't believe it. How could anyone in their right mind want to hurt Peter, want to stop him from helping people? How could their own government even consider going after him?
"Is this for real?" Mary Jane asked. "This is actually happening? Oh my gosh... Peter..."
"But my dad said that the mayor is protecting him. New York may have its faults, but they won't let anyone harm their hero."
"Oh, and all the newspapers and radio stations and newscasts flaunting his name, that's not harming him?"
"Those are just papers, Mary Jane," Gwen said. "They’re like kids gossiping about the most popular kid in school. They're proud of him; they want to spread the news. They just don't realize the harm they're doing."
Mary Jane wasn't quite sure she could agree with that.
Gwen said, "My father said Peter's being taken somewhere safe, out of a back, less crowded exit. The police are looking out for him, at least."
Mary Jane snorted. "As if."
"They are, my dad wouldn't lie about that."
Mary Jane wished she could be so trusting.
"So what do we do now?" Mary Jane asked Gwen, as if she cared about her opinion.
Gwen looked at her with pale eyes and said, "Do you want to grab a cup of coffee?"
The question was so out of place, Mary Jane nearly stumbled backwards. "Coffee?" she repeated.
“Yes. Caffeine drenched in water, with possibly some milk and sugar.” Gwen smiled. Mary Jane couldn’t stop herself from smiling and agreed. They sat there in the uncomfortable plastic chairs, both of them sipping a Styrofoam cup of coffee that made Enrique’s product taste edible. “So, how long have you known?” Gwen faced her with wide-open innocent eyes.
Mary Jane figured that there was no reason not to be honest, since all the world now would know anyway. "I always suspected it, sort of. After I kissed Spider-Man and then Peter shortly afterwards. But it wasn't until Doctor Octavius took me hostage that I saw Spider-Man without his mask..." Mary Jane's voice trailed off, as memories leaked from her mind and flooded her vision. She could remember everything about that moment so perfectly. Peter standing there, he seemed so small and big at the same time. The hero and the little boy that used to stare at her in school, that she pretended to ignore because she knew Flash would only go after him harder if she did smile back.
Mary Jane was jolted out of her memory by a touch on her hand. She blinked back into reality, and saw Gwen's hand stretched across the table, holding hers. "That must have been terrifying."
"It was, at first, but then Peter showed up and I knew that I, that all of us were safe. That he'd keep us safe." Mary Jane told her. Gwen didn't say anything. Mary Jane didn't give her the time to. "Do you think he'll still keep us safe?" she asked.
"I hope so," Gwen said. "What is New York City without Spider-Man?"
"It's a hell hole, that's what!" Captain Stacy added in loudly as he walked into the room.
Gwen turned around to face her father. "Dad!" she exclaimed.
"Sorry, hon. I'm just so annoyed at these people! Spider-Man deserves better than this!"
He helped himself to a sip of his daughter's cheap coffee.
Mary Jane nodded, forcing herself to take another sip. She added some milk, hoping it would help the taste. It didn't. "Is Peter going to be in trouble?" she asked him.
"I honestly can't say for sure. He's got one hell of a lawyer. But people are after him. People who have power."
"What do you mean by that?" Mary Jane asked him.
"Anywhere from law offices to secret government agencies, people want a piece of Spider-Man."
"As far as we know, Miss Watson, Peter is unique. His body chemistry, his powers, they scare people because he can do things that humans should not be able to do. There's no doubt that some people in the government would love to find a way to duplicate his abilities and make some kind of super soldier. Hell, people have been trying to do that since before Captain America disappeared at the end of the war." He thought a few seconds, "Add to that the fact that he's a celebrity, and people would try to sue him, just because they seem to think that being a celebrity means he's probably rich."
"Peter? Rich?" Mary Jane couldn't help a chuckle from escaping. "He can barely pay his rent! He keeps losing jobs because he spends most of his time saving people."
"And now the Bugle's going to be on his ass, for sure," the Captain said.
"You got that right," a man said as he entered. He was using a walking stick to get himself around, and that plus his sunglasses showed that he was blind. "The Bugle has the strongest case against him at the moment."
"Uh... and you are?" Mary Jane asked.
"I'm Matt Murdock, I'll be defending Peter on behalf of the city."
"Don't be fooled by his blindness, he's one of the best lawyers in the city, Miss Watson."
"Wait, you've talked to Peter?" Mary Jane asked. Her entire tone of voice had changed.
"Where is he? Can I see him?"
"He left already, I'm sorry," Matt said. "I'm not sure where he is going now, but the police made sure he was escorted out safely and without any cameras in his face."
"I just wanted to talk to him." Mary Jane said, somewhat sad and defeated. It had been the whole reason she'd come here, to talk to Peter. "How is he?" she asked.
"His voice was shaky, I am not going to lie," the lawyer said. "But he's a strong kid. He can pull through this."
"It's easy for you to say. You don't have to deal with this whole thing," Mary Jane mumbled, a little irritated.
Let's hope not, Matt thought.
Mary Jane turned away from him, heading for the door before anyone could stop her.
She'd almost forgotten about the cameras until they were pushed into her face. Dozens, no hundreds of questions all at once, and all of them about Peter. She refused to answer them at all.
She was pushed around in the throng, unprotected by police officers. Her eyes teared up, and she was scared. "Shut up," she said, trying to break free. "Shut up," she said louder. "Shut the hell up!" she cried, running down the block, her mascara bleeding down her face. Suddenly someone grabbed her hand, she turned back and noticed it was the blind lawyer, Murdock. He somehow managed to lead her through the throng of people and up to a taxi cab.
She looked at him in awe. "Could you bring her to wherever she wants to go, sir?" Matt asked the driver once he had rolled down the window. The cabbie looked at her and seemed to recognize her. "Wait! Hey, isn't she Spider-Man's girl?"
Murdock didn't answer. He was taking out some money from his wallet.
"Don't worry about paying me, man!" the driver said. "Spidey saved my kid's life once! There's no way I'd ever accept money from anyone connected to 'im!"
Mary Jane, who had been ready to deck the cabbie once he commented about her being "Spider-Man's girl," actually managed to smile. She was halfway into the cab when she turned to Matt. "Thank you," she said. She shut the door and the taxi pulled away, its tires spinning at first but then merging into the traffic that was New York City. As she stared out the window she wondered, though, was that what she was going to be for the rest of her life? Just some accessory of Spider-Man's, like Lois Lane, not known for her own accomplishments, but for the man she was dating?
Was that really worth it? Was Peter worth that?