Chapter 3: Gwen
There were few things Peter Parker was almost punctual for (almost being the key word). A date with his girlfriend, Gwen stacy, was one of them. That’s why he was extra annoyed when he spotted the group of muggers cornering a woman in an alley while he was web-slinging to his date. He sighed heavily, climbing down the wall towards the muggers.
“I’m very late for a date,” Spider-Man said, sticking to the wall with his back and the soles of his feet. The thin fabric of his costume allowed him to stick to most surfaces. “So I’m going to have to forgo the usual banter and fight. I hope you don’t mind. Can you please line up, toss your weapons in that trashcan over there, and put your hands in the air? Thank you.”
“It’s Spider-Man!” one of the muggers shouted. “Get em!”
“Was that ‘GET ‘EM!’ really necessary?” Spider-Man asked, jumping down from the wall as the muggers approached him. His voice had the added bravado he used when he donned the identity of New York’s friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. “I told you I didn’t have time for this,” he said, using a web to pull the knife out of the mugger’s hand. Two others lunged towards him, and Spider-Man leapt forward, clotheslining them both. They both hit the hard ground with a thud. With some quick web work, they were stuck to the ground for the next hour or so. All that was left was the mugger still clutching the woman.
“Let her go,” Spider-Man said.
“Back out of the alley,” the mugger said. “Or I’ll tear her throat out!”
“Cold blooded murder is a huge leap from mugging,” Spider-Man said.
“I mean it!” the mugger shouted.
“OK,” Spider-Man said, putting his hands in the air. “I’ll leave peacefully, but Captain America up there probably won’t.”
The mugger looked up towards the tops of the buildings. When he looked back down towards Spider-Man, all he saw was a close-up fist. After that, he was sound asleep on the ground. “That Captain American line works every time,” he said once the mugger was webbed to the ground with his two friends. “Don’t these guys know that he wouldn’t be caught dead beating up a back alley mugger? Cap leaves that kind of stuff to the low-level super heroes.” He turned to the woman he had just rescued. “Are you OK?” he asked, lending her a hand to help her up from the ground.
“I am thanks to you,” she said. “I never believed what they said about you it the papers anyway. How can I repay you?” The woman draped her arms around Spider-Man’s neck. She was so close that Spider-Man could smell her breath through his mask.
“No need to repay me,” Spider-Man said, backing out of the woman’s arms quickly. “Just be careful when you’re traveling down creepy, unlit alleys from now on. Most of the muggers encounter tend to do their best work in these kids of places.”
“Don’t leave me here,” the woman said, walking seductively towards him. “I could use someone strong to escort me home and tuck me in. The city can be cruel to a defenseless woman like me. Wouldn’t you sleep better knowing that I was safe?”
Spider-Man signed. This happened at least twice a month, and it seemed to get worse the more The Bugle made him out to be a bad boy. Sometimes the man beneath the webbed masked wished he had less of a moral code, but those kind of thoughts could get a super hero in trouble real quick. Jameson would love to get an exposé on the many women Spider-Man had rescued and ‘tucked in’.
“I must be on my way,” Spider-Man said in the most super hero like voice he can muster.
“Please,” the woman said, cartoonishly pouting. “You can leave the mask on.”
There was a showing of blue and red lights behind Spider-Man. “Aha!” he said. “I suggest you ask one of New York’s finest. I’m sure they’d love to tuck you in and read you a bedtime story. Remember what I said about those alleys!” With that, Spider-Man was off into the night.
Gwen waited outside the small cafe where she was supposed to meet Peter. She looked at her watch. He was running late… as usual. It was no use losing her temper as she was prone to do sometimes. She had long since stopped worrying when Peter would be late for a date. She figured she’d start showing up fifteen minutes late for everything to account for ‘Parker Time’, but she could never bring herself to do it (even thought it was completely logical).
Peter’s absence annoyed her at most times, but he was sweet enough to make up for it. Gwen knew that most girls wouldn’t put up with a boyfriend that was constantly late, but she felt that Peter was worth a little bit of waiting. Besides, he usually had a good reason for his tardiness. Mostly, it was his ‘Parker Luck’ that caused his lengthy delays. She smiled as she wondered if it would be a stray dog biting his leg or an over-enthusiastic beggar that was making Peter late for their latest rendezvous.
Gwen Stacy had been called the beauty queen of Standard High, and that was a hard title to live down when she started at Empire State University with her classmate and friend, Harry Osborn. She had pale blonde hair and a figure most girls would die to have. She valued men for their brains more for their looks, which is what had made Peter so attractive to her (not that he was hard to look at or anything).
“Gwen!” Peter said, running down the street. He looked as if he had just thrown his clothes on. She wondered if he had actually ran all the way there.
Gwen looked at her watch, knowing full well how later Peter was for their date. “Only ten minutes late this time,” she said, kissing Peter despite his late appearance. “I guess this is early for you, Peter.”
“I’m so sorry,” Peter said, running both his hands through this untidy hair. “I was held up with my Aunt May. It turns out she’s been plotting behind my back with a certain girlfriend of mine. She almost had me on the torture rack before I got away.”
“Oh that’s not fair,” Gwen said, smiling. “Your aunt is so sweet! Am I ever going to get to meet her in person?”
“You know what’s funny?” Peter asked. “She was saying the exact same thing the other night. Weird.”
“Well what are you waiting for?” Gwen said. “I’d love to have dinner with you and your Aunt on Sunday afternoon.”
“Sunday afternoon?” Peter asked. “It seems like you two are plotting against me after all. I knew it! I guess I don’t have any choice in the matter. Dinner with Aunt May at Cassa de Parker sunday night.”
Gwen continued smiling as she sat down at the small table for two. Peter smiled his goofball smile back as he sat across from her. It seemed like not that long ago when they met during the first day of classes at ESU. Gwen and Harry (now Peter’s best friend) met Peter through his old high school classmate, Flash Thompson. They were both thrown off by Peter’s standoffish attitude, but there were some major issues going on in Peter’s life at that time (Gwen still didn’t know the full story about it. She only knew that it had something to do with his Aunt May being very ill). It took some time, but Gwen was finally able to see past Peter’s exterior to part of him he was trying to conceal.
“Remember when we first met?” Gwen asked.
“How could I forget,” Peter said. “We’re still in the same class with Professor Warren. You were the first person I met that can match me in chemistry.”
“And modesty,” Gwen said, laughing. “But do you know when I really started to see something in you? It was that time you showed up on campus with that silly motorcycle. I always knew there was more to you than met the eye.”
“Oh yeah,” Peter said, slightly embarrassed. “My aunt nearly killed me when I bought that thing. She told me I was going to crack my head open like a melon.”
Gwen and Peter both laughed. “Where do you go, Peter?” Gwen asked, suddenly becoming serious. “Not that I worry about you, but I just want to know. It can’t all be bad luck, can it?”
“The Parker luck,” Peter said, shrugging.
“The Parker luck,” Gwen repeated. “One day you’ll open up to me, Peter Parker. One day I’ll know for sure what goes on in that head of yours.”
Peter looked at his menu. Gwen wondered if she would scare him off if she continued with this line of questioning, but it did bother her. She knew that he spent time chasing Spider-Man with his camera, but he didn’t really address his part time job often. She saw his pictures in the newspaper, and she knew hew as great at getting the shots. She just worried that being Spider-Man’s personal photographer would get him in trouble some day.
“Any idea what you want to order?” Peter asked.
Gwen smiled and finally looked away from Peter’s face and into her own menu. “I haven’t given it a single thought, actually,” she said.
While Peter and Gwen were sharing a dinner and light-hearted conversation, Mac Gargan was sitting in a seedy bar called Black Charlie’s. The piece of paper that Jameson had given him was laid out in front of him. He read the address over and over while he sipped his whiskey and water. “What’s your angle, Jameson?” he asked the piece of paper.
He thought back about how he attempted to steer Jameson’s thoughts in the direction he wanted them to go. Was Jameson doing the same to him now? Did he show his hand when he asked for more money to tail that Parker brat? What was this mystery task that Jameson had in mind for him? It had to be much bigger than a tail and an investigation.
The questions circled around in Gargan’s head as he drained his glass and asked the bartender for another one. The bartender set the glass down, and Gargan took another sip.
“Need some company, sugar?” a woman said, sitting in the stool next to Gargan. He recognized her at once. Her name was Lola, or at least she said it was. She frequented this bar looking for a John or two to help pay her rent and some habit or addiction. She had long black hair, a face riddled with pock marks, and a tight shirt that showed more gut than anything appealing.
“I don’t pay for company,” Mac said, folding the piece of paper and putting it back into his shirt pocket.
“I’m worth every penny,” Lola said. “Why don’t you take me back to your place, and I can show you.”
“Do I strike you as the type of pathetic scum that would want to take a woman like you back to my place?” Mac asked. “Thanks, but no.”
“I’m just offering,” Lola said, becoming visibly upset. “There’s no need to get nasty.”
“Get outta my face, or you’ll see how nasty I can get,” Mac said.
“You ain’t nothin’ but a punk,” Lola said, grabbing Mac’s glass and splashing him in the face with it. The whiskey burned his eyes, and he wiped it away with his shirt sleeve.
“Big mistake, whore,” Mac said. He slapped Lola so hard that she fell from the stool to the floor with a thud. The bar went silent as everyone turned to watch. “You wanna mess with me?! You better be careful who you run that mouth to.”
“You gotta go,” the bartender says. “If her pimp, Ice Daddy, shows up, he’s gonna mess you up worse than you messed her up.”
Mac reached in his pocket and tossed a five onto the bar. “Thanks for the advice, but I think I’d be alright,” he said. “Keep the change.” Mac left Black Charlie’s, not looking back to see who was watching.
Gwen fell onto her bed, staring at the ceiling. Her date with Peter went well, but she just couldn’t put her finger on what went on behind his blue eyes. “Don’t think too much on it,” she said, channelling what her father would have told her. “Don’t muck up a good thing.”
But how much of a good thing was it really? She knew that he was hiding something. She’d have to be blind and deaf to notice that he was covering something up. At first she felt as if he just didn’t want to open up about his past… Why would he? His parents were dead, and the uncle who had raised him since he was a little boy was shot and killed in a home invasion.
It still didn’t explain where he was all the time.
Gwen didn’t worry that Peter was cheating. She didn’t think he had it in him. It seemed to be a huge ordeal for him to just to date her with all that had happened in his life, and she didn’t think he’d be able to bring himself to start dating two women at once. At least she didn’t think so. The only woman she really worried about when it came to Peter was Mary Jane Watson, but she didn’t think that Mary Jane was Peter’s type (despite her continued flirtations).
Gwen let go of her doubts, and let her self start drifting off to sleep. She glanced at the photo of Peter that she kept by her bed, illuminated by the moonlight, and closed her eyes.
There were things Peter didn’t know either. She kept most to herself, but she figured she’d have to tell him at some point. She almost spilled the beans during dinner when they talked about how they first met. She almost told him about how Harry Osborn had sabotaged his lab experiment. She also never told him about his ignorance to her presence during lab assignments (which annoyed her for quite some time). She was as smart as Peter was; even if he would later tell her that she was the smarter one, but Gwen was actually modest where Peter mostly faked it.
His aunt had forced Peter into it, but the fact that Peter went for Sunday’s date so easily showed her how committed he was to her. She didn’t need this to show her that, but she figured it was a step in the right direction. Peter had met her parents after all (even if he did show up halfway through dinner due to a broken down subway that was damaged by some guy dressed as a Rhino).
Gwen turned in her bed as sleep finally took her, wondering what else was going on in the world as she slept.
Spider-Man swung from the building he had been sitting atop for the last half hour or so. He fired another web line, turning towards home so he could get some sleep. The thoughts of Gwen still swam in his head. He had used so many lies about where he went or how he was injured to cover up his life as Spider-Man. It would only be a matter of time before he had to tell her truth.
You don’t have to, he thought. He shook the thought from his head. He had already broken one woman’s heart so she’d never find out the truth, and he didn’t feel much like doing the same to Gwen. She was special. She’d understand. She’d support him. She’d stand by him.
Gwen would leave him for good if she knew the truth. She’d tell her father, the police captain. She’d send every cop in New York to bust down his Aunt May’s door to drag him in. She’d hate him forever for lying to her for so long about who he was and what he did.
He knew it was a bit rash, but Peter couldn’t help it. He started to long for the relationship problems that everyone else had. If only he was lucky enough to only have a horrible disfigurement she wouldn’t see until he took his clothes off. That would be much better than his current secret.
Spider-Man laughed at himself as he swung off into the night