Warning: This work has been rated 16+ for mature content.
AN: My first attempt at fan fiction.
More or less inspired by this. Currently, I'm most concerned about the balance between it only being three weeks since Gwen's death and Peter and MJ's future romantic history but please tear it to shreds.
I open my eyes and saw MJ standing over me with a mug of coffee. She was dressed to go out for the day. She was working now, at a ticket booth at the theater downtown. It was steady work. Got her close to the shows. I was happy for her.
I sit up from the couch and rub my eyes. The coffee wakes me from my stupor as I tried to piece together the dream.
Gwen. Me. The dance hall. Her, so alive.
I reminded myself, once again, that she was gone. For a few weeks now it had been like this. I was slipping behind. On rent. On work. I'd lay alone in my bed, trying to fall asleep. I'd call MJ. Asked if I could come over. She'd always say yes.
It was better to be with her than to be alone.
She'd make tea. We'd talk. I'd pass out on her couch and wake up a wreck.
I hadn't even thought about him. How could I? I couldn't let anyone else die. The costume was sitting at the bottom of my drawer, and I hadn't even gone near it. I'd thought about quitting. New York would be fine, right?
"You look awful," MJ says.
I realized I'd spaced out again. I look at her, and think about how much I don’t deserve her friendship. She's done so much for me. MJ is the only one who knows my secret. Harry, I don’t know how to approach. Aunt May does what she can. But I can’t tell her.
"Sorry," I say. "I'm a mess." I take another sip of coffee and stood up.
MJ looks at the clock. "I gotta go."
"Can I use your shower?" I feel bad asking.
"Of course," she says.
She hesitates at the doorway. "I'm worried about you, Pete."
Thanks? Stupid, stupid.
MJ laughs. "Just lock the door with the spare key on your way out." As she smiles, I notice her eyes have little flecks of green in them. We've been friends for three years and I'd never noticed before.
On the subway home, I think about how I have no money. When Jameson heard about Gwen he asked how much time I needed. It was unpaid leave. I need the money, but I’m not ready to go back to work.
Her eyes meet mine.
She trusts me.
She trusts I'm going to save her.
That she's going to be okay.
I'm sorry I failed you, Gwendy. I'm sorry I wasn't fast enough.
The memory of MJ's voice from this morning prevents me from missing my stop. On my walk back, I see a little boy dressed in Spider-Man t-shirt. He notices me staring and I smile at him weakly.
At home, I take out the costume. Just touching it makes me relieve it all over again. I see her face as she falls further from me. She didn't scream. Shock, I overheard them say at the funeral.
I cry. I cry for the first time since I got home that night. When I'd first put on the costume, I'd made a promise to myself that I was going to protect people. To prevent what happened to Ben from happening again. And I'd failed. Maybe it had been five years, but I'd failed. Gwen always used to tell me I was too hard on myself. That what mattered is that I was there, that'd I'd done so much good. MJ told me similar things. That I made a difference.
Well, no, not me. Spider-Man. People that looked up to him. They didn't know he was just a nobody who had no idea what he was doing with his life. How disappointed they'd be if they found out that this was it. The news had been starting to wonder where their hero had gone. The truth was that I couldn’t think about putting it on again. About being him. I wasn’t about to let anyone else die. Besides, maybe now I could try to get my life together. Class starts in a few weeks. I have bills to pay. I have to go back to the Bugle soon. Maybe next week. It’s my only source of income. Maybe I need to get another job. No, too much. I have to make the Bugle work, somehow.
Later that afternoon, MJ calls. Asks if she can come over after work. Says she’ll bring dinner. Having spent the whole day in bed, I say yes. There is no one I want to see but her.I wonder if I made a mistake in telling her who I am. I had to tell her, but now I worry. I worry that the same thing is going to happen. The Goblin will come back for me. He knows who I am now. Next time, he’ll get MJ. And I won’t save her and I’ll let her die just like I let Gwen die. I try not to think about it as I buzz her in.
She brings Chinese. A place by the theater I haven’t been to but she swears by. And it is good.
I realize as we’re eating that I never put my costume away.
MJ just looks. She doesn’t know what to say, I can tell.
“I don’t know if I can do it anymore, Mary Jane,” I say.
“Why?” she asks.
I say nothing. But she sees the look in my eye.
“I miss her too, Pete,” she says. She extends her hand towards mine. Squeezes it. Her grasp is warm, reassuring. “You did everything you could.”
“When are you going to forgive yourself? It wasn’t your fault.”
Now I’m angry. “It was! It was all my fault. I should have gotten there sooner. I should have been faster. I shouldn’t have been so goddamned cocky.”
“Peter.” MJ is calm. Why is she so calm? “I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry. I know-- I know how much you loved her.” She looks at me, and I see the green flecks in her blue eyes again. They’re so bright. I wonder how I never noticed before. “But you are an inspiration to so many people. You’ve done so much for this city these past few years.”
“But what if I don’t want the responsibility?” I realize MJ and I are still holding hands. She’s being comforting, I know. But it makes my heart race. I think of something I hadn’t thought about in years, about how when we first met it was a blind date but things were already beginning to happen with Gwen. I slip my hand away.
“I’m sorry…” she says.
“It’s okay.” This is too uncomfortable, so I change the subject. “MJ, when I first put on this costume, I wanted to help people. I wanted to stop bad things from happening to innocent people.”
“Do you think Gwen would want you to stop?” she asks.
I think about it. No. No, she wouldn’t. I realize she’s right. I have to keep going. I shake my head.
“You’re not alone in this, you know.” She looks right at me again. She smiles tiredly. “There are always going to be bad people in the world and they’ll try to get the better of you. You can’t let them. No matter what.”
I nod. Mary Jane bites her lip. She asks me what I want to do. I say I want to visit Gwen’s grave.
It’s a warm night. Outside, the city is quiet. Peaceful. These are my favorite kinds of nights.
Gwen and I would often ride the subway together on nights like these, her head on my shoulder as we came home from class or dinner or whatever else normal couples did. But the reminder tonight makes me calm, not sad.
When we get to the graveyard we walk silently to her tombstone. There are some fresh flowers, probably from her mother. I kneel down and I set mine on top. And we just stand there. We don’t speak. We don’t need to speak.
I love you, Gwendy. You’re in a better place now.
After a while we decide to go. I take Mary Jane back to her apartment. “Thanks for being here with me,” I tell her at her door.
I hug her. It’s nice. I’m not thinking about anything else, anything I’m going to have to deal with tomorrow or in the coming days, weeks or months. Maybe tonight I’ll have another dream about Gwen and wake up and be a wreck all over again. But it doesn’t matter now. The thought of putting on the suit again fills my stomach with a deadweight. But somehow I know I will. “Have a good night, Mary Jane.”
“See you around, Tiger.”