15450/Deli Sandwiches Take Two
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|Deli Sandwiches Take Two|
|Date of Scene:||09 August 2023|
|Location:||Top of the Brooklyn Tower|
|Synopsis:||Deciding to take their sandwiches a little higher this time to avoid the inevitable chaos after the incident at Katz's Deli, Gwen and Peter meet up at the top of the Brooklyn Tower to talk. Once they're finished, Gwen challenges him to an impromptu game of keep-away through the streets of New York and almost wipes out wrapped up in a tarp.|
|Cast of Characters:||Ghost Spider, Spider-Man
- Ghost Spider has posed:
There's a heavy drum beat intro, flashing colors, cuts between a drum kit and the woman.. the /girl/ playing it.. Gwen, when she was younger, her hair shorter (her punk phase).
"Okay, people, let's do this one last time. My name's Gwen Stacy, and for the last five years, I've been the one and only... Ghost-Spider."
Another montage of Gwen working in a lab, a spider crawling up and biting her, and the resulting changes of her being stuck in her own webbing in her room.
"I joined a band, saved my dad, did some modeling to pay the bills, and even met Spider-Man! The first one..."
Even as Gwen's voice-over is playing, the screen flashes between cuts of Gwen drumming, walking the cat-walk, hitting a uniformed officer in the chest with a web and yanking him out of arm's way of a bullet, and then Gwen and Peter hanging out together.
"...and the other one..."
Another flash of Gwen with Miles this time, sitting on top of a graffiti-covered water tower and eating tacos with their masks pulled up above their noses.
"And now I'm just trying to find a balance between being a superhero and living my life. I have /so/ many things I want to do and experience that.. what's a Spider-Woman to do? I guess that's what I'll eventually figure out..."
Fade to Ghost-Spider swinging through building in New York away from Katz's Deli with a bag of food peeking out of the top of her only mostly-zipped backpack. Thankfully, everything seems to be staying in for the moment. She'd texted Peter earlier about trying to meet up for food again, offered to pick it up, and the sun was just starting to touch the horizon. At least this time she'd actually asked him what he wanted to eat, too.
>> Food acquired. Deli sandwiches take two. Brooklyn Tower?
It was always easier to pick the tallest building around any given area to eat on. Sometimes it meant a little maypoling (is that a word?) to get to the top, but if nothing else, it avoided the whole awkward thing of the people in the next high-rise over looking out their window and gawking at the Spider-people pulling their masks half-way up to eat.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Today really isn't his day. I mean, most days aren't really all that swell, and thus far at least this one hasn't been bad in the getting stomped into the ground sort of way, which in and of itself is kind of a nice change. But just about everything else that can go wrong certainly seems like it is going to give it a go.
And certainly it is still early enough that he could end up stomped into the ground before the day's out. He'd lay the odds at about 50-50 right now.
It's tough not to feel a little bit bad at least. While the whole situation in the deli felt a little sureal, the fact of the matter is that he pretty much ended up abandonning Gwen. It truly had been his intention to simply slip into his costume, to be at the ready if things went sideways. But he quickly discovered that there was a little bit of an issue. Because of course there would be. When is there not, when it comes to this sort of thing.
It helped, mind you, that she was there, that Peter could depend on the fact if the situation turned dangerous she would be able to deal with things well enough. It helped lessen that guilt about slipping away, knowing that the situation was at least in good hands.
And truthfully, given his present circumstancess, Peter might have just made it worse. Being wanted by the NYPD comes with a variety of complications and there is always the danger that he will bring those complications crashing down on the heads of anyone that he tries to help. Or who's trying to help him.
Still, slipping out the back of the deli and into the alley was not exactly his proudest moment. So it is something of a relief to get that text that more or less confirms that everything went all right. Skittering up the nearest wall -- after making sure the coast is clear of course -- with that practiced ease that has developed over time, Pete quickly taps out a reply.
>> Sorry about ditching. Wardrobe malfunction. Meet you there in just a few.
Then, making a few quick adjustments, Peter Parker is putting aside for a little bit and Spider-Man takes to the skies, swinging his way towards Brooklyn Tower.
As he nears that tower it becomes apparent just what his wardrobe malfunction is, more so as he lands close to her, clinging to the side of the building after successfully swinging on up.
If Maypoling isn't an actual word, it should be. Certainly it is pretty emblematic of how they tend to deal with towers like this one. Web-shooters are the best.
"Don't laugh," Pete says immediately. "And remember, I'm having a tough time of it," he adds with a faint, plantive note to his words.
The spider suit is pretty much intact, no strangeness there. The issue then? Instead of his mask Peter has been forced to wrap his t-shirt around the lower half of his face like a bandana, the arms of the shirt fluttering in the wind behind him as he swings on up.
"I forgot my mask at home." You'd think these sorts of things wouldn't happen to him by now. He's been doing this long enough.
But when it rains, it pours.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Ghost Spider sitting on the very top of the building with her legs dangling over the edge when Peter gets there, her big, white eyes tracking him the whole way up as he loops around and around, leaving a little trail of dangling webs hanging down the corners of the building in his wake almost exactly where hers had been.
Web-shooters are, in fact, the best.
The words ALONE are enough to soften those big spider-eyes of hers, humor shining in them. How were they so expressive, anyway? It seems to take no effort to convey that just the act of asking her not to NOT to laugh was about to make her laugh.
Then she turns around.
"Oh no!! It's the Spider-Snatcher!" she manages, holding up her hands in surrender.
...and she starts laughing so hard she almost falls off the side of the building. Her hand comes up to cover a mouth that she didn't need to cover in her suit, but it just adds to the delighted squint of her eyes as those rich, pleased giggles fill the otherwise quiet air.
"The Web-Crawling Crook... The Buglary-Bug..."
There were still the sounds of the city far below, but up here, the air was fresher, there was always a breeze, and the horns and sirens were more background than foreground noise.
"I'm sorry.. I am.. I don't mean to... I'm trying..."
The way the laughter continued, it didn't /sound/ like she was trying.
In the same way that Gwen /wanted/ to be there for him and enjoyed the fact that Peter seemed to be starting to trust her, not just as another Spider-quaintance, but as someone he could count on, she was starting to... really enjoy these times.
More than she wanted to admit.
Eventually, that laughter does subside, though, and she nudges her hood back so she can pull her own mask up and off, shaking her hair out. Her features are even more obviously genuinely affectionate than her masked expressions had been.
"We're high enough up that we don't need these, anyway." Said while stuffing her mask into her 'pocket' (the same one she always pulled her phone out of, which was obviously some kind of hammerspace). "Come on." She slips her backpack off and spins more fully towards him, crisscrossing her legs and pulling out the wrapped up sandwich he wanted, waving it temptingly. "Katz's makes /everything/ better."
- Spider-Man has posed:
Yeah, there was always zero chance that he was going to escape this without a little friendly mocking.
And really he pretty much deserves it too. Who forgets their mask at home? He's not exactly a rookie at this. He's been doing it since high school afterall. And yet, here he is.
If there is one good thing it would be that the t-shirt is at least red and blue so it goes with the costume. It's not like he was reduced to putting a bag over his head, punching out a few eye sockets. While he would like to deny that could ever happen, well, he has had to resort to that before.
Which in some ways makes this all worse. It's not a one and done mistake. He can't just kinda shrug it off as a live and learn moment. He's done it before. And the horrible thing is, that he might just do it again. Though the teasing might prove to be pretty good incentive to be a little more careful in the future.
So Peter sits there, waving his hand in a circular motion, inviting each new name that Gwen manages to produce. It is pretty much his due. "Okay, laugh it up," he says drily, finally reaching up to untie that shirt, gripping it in one hand.
A little smirk rests on his face as it is revealled and he tugs that backpack off his shoulder to stuff the paint-stained garment out of the way. Even he has to conceed that it's a little funny, in the grand scheme of things. He certainly did not cut the most iconic of figures wearing a paint-stained t-shirt as a mask.
And he certainly hasn't had a lot to laugh about, that's for sure.
Though oddly almost all of those moments have come with Gwen.
"Sorry for ditching you. I didn't even think of the t-shirt until I was already out on the roof and you texted me," Pete admits wryly. "This is not my proudest moment," he adds, running a hand back through that messy, wind-swept hair. "But! I have do have faith in the healing powers of Katz's sandwiches," he conceeds.
Gotta believe in something right? Might as well be really good sandwiches.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
"Stop," Gwen insists once he starts apologizing, tossing him his wrapped-up sandwich once she was sure he was paying attention.
Look. Yes, he had both Spider-Sense /and/ sticky fingers, but this is already /take two/ on the whole sandwich thing. It's not a dainty enough moment for her to make a show of getting up to hand it to him, but she's also not just going to throw it off the side of the building because he wasn't watching, either.
"Peter, you're under a lot of pressure, right now. And it was Bebop and Rocksteady. Even with their combined IQ, I'm surprised they could figure out how to get the door open. I had it handled."
She reaches into her bag and pulls out a container of still-hot French fries that she opens and sets in front of her crisscrossed legs in a comfortable sharing distance, as well as two bottles of water (one of which she opens for herself and takes a drink of).
"Besides, we've all done the t-shirt mask thing, and my story's worse. Before I had my costume... when I didn't really know what all I could do, I was out at a park with my friend Kevin. My Spider-Sense started going /crazy/, and there were these kids.. and.. this car was going SO FAST down the road. It was like I /knew/ what was going to happen..."
Then she reaches into the bag again, grabs another sandwich, and starts to open it, her cheeks already starting to go red as she hesitates before moving on to the next part of the story... the embarrassing part of the story.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Of course he was fairly certain she would understand.
The various Spiders out there might come from pretty disparate backgrounds all in all, but they inevitably seem to have a few things in common. They don't quit. Even when things get rough, even when they take a bit of a beating, when the entire world seems to be against them, they come back for more.
So it's possible that they are all closet masochists.
They also almost always inevitably turn towards humor at some point. Maybe it's just a natural part of their make-up. Maybe it's the only way they can keep from crying. But they tend to be quick with the quips.
They also tend to have their fair share of embarassing stories. Of moments when they might not quite be at their best. They might have incredible power and daunting responsibility, but they are still just human. Mistakes are inevitable. Sometimes they help one learn. Sometimes they are just embarassing or damn inconvenient. But there is no escaping them.
While his day might have been something of a comedy of errors thus far, Pete is not about to let his food go plummetting out into the great void, and when Gwen tosses the sandwich his way he snags it with ease, quickly unwrapping it. "I figured you'd understand," he agrees with a smile, taking a bite of that perfectly formed creation of food art, rolling his eyes before they slide shut, savoring it for just a moment.
it's probably not quite *that* good, but right now it sure as heck tastes like it is.
"And I knew you'd have it handled. I just wouldn't want you to think I'd make a habit of running out on you when there's trouble. Especially given what I've already put you through the past few days," he adds. Getting hit by the Juggernaut is not a whole lot of fun.
And he would definitey know.
"Stealing a fry," he adds as those eyes pop open once more, leaning over to snag one of them while they are still warm. And while not quite as good as the sandwich maybe, Peter eats as if he's starving.
A grin crosses his face when she mentions that she too has fallen victim to the ol' 'I left my mask at home' blunder though his expression smoothes out as she continues, that tell-tale hesitation making him break that brief silence as her cheeks flame up. "Go on," Pete prompts gently.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen rolls her eyes at his comment about running out on her, but she smiles when he says he's going to steal a fry. That seems to say everything she needed to about it. Sharing had been the point.
When prompted to go on, though, she shakes her head. Grateful for the delay for the story for another moment, perhaps? But she had to get this out...
"You are /so/ frustrating sometimes. Peter, running away when there's trouble is /not/ the reputation you have. If I hadn't been there, you would have figured out how to help, even if you had to do it blindfolded."
She picks up a fry and shakes it at him, because she apparently believes that will help make her point. Either that, or she was still making her point when she got hungry. She hadn't started on her sandwich, yet.
"And /you/ didn't put me through anything. Juggernaut showed up. I would have been upset if you knew and you didn't tell me until after it was over. /I'm/ the one that swung right at him and decided to play keep-away. You're the one that... came to my rescue." That last part is quieter, her eyes dipping. She knew how it sounded. But it /did/ hurt. A lot. She was going to get back up, because that was the job, but the sight of Peter ripping open the door to get to her... she didn't hate. "In the middle of everything, with Rhino and Juggernaut and cops everywhere... you..."
Ooohkay. That's too close to an actual emotion. So, she clears her throat and shakes her head, the heat still on her cheeks. Maybe... left over. From her story, before, that she seems to have forgotten about. Her eyes lift again, watching him as she continues.
"Anyway.. my /point/ is, I know your mind is all over the place and you're getting pulled in a thousand different directions, but... stop thinking everything is your fault. It's not. You're being asked to do an impossible job that no one even knew existed before, and being held to the /impossible/ standards of public opinion. You'll never make them all happy. Ask any celebrity ever. You've got people impersonating you, in good ways /and/ bad ways, because you're famous. I just don't like it when you blame yourself for stuff that's not your fault."
Finally, she moistens her lips and smiles apologetically.
"Sorry. Rant over." Beat, and she rolls her eyes. "That'll teach you for agreeing to a picnic with me."
- Spider-Man has posed:
The power of the french fry compels you!
As far as pointing sticks go it might not be the very best choice, sagging a little in the middle. On the other hand, french fry and Peter can be pretty food motivated. So it gets bonus effect points there just because of that.
The corners of Peter's mouth quirk up in a bit of a smile as she systematically demolishes his attempt at an apology, though in the best possible way perhaps and he does fall silent to let her run the course on those points without interruption.
He does, however, reach out to steal a couple more of those fries, despite having already starting into that sandwich. Maybe he is simply trying to disarm her by eating all her weapons. It would be quite the dastardly plan.
He's probably just hungry though, and they do smell at least as good as they taste.
"Are you kidding?" Pete asks wryly, glancing around. If nothing else, being a Spider does earn you some absolutely spectacular views, there is no denying that fact and he gestures with that hand that still clings to that sandwich. "The view alone is worth getting a little common sense drilled into me," he allows wryly. "The company's pretty good too," he points out with another half-smile. "Smart, willing to defend me from myself *and* she bought me food. That's a pretty potent package," he notes with a wink before the temptation posited by the sandwich in hand is simply too much and he takes another bite out of it.
"Everything you said makes sense, you know. And I know it, on an intellectual level," Peter conceeds with a shake of his head. "I guess I just got kinda used to being on my own for all of this. I went awhile, with not very many people I could trust and rarely had my back. There were exceptions of course," he allows. Angelica, Bobby, Johnny, all pretty good friends, even from the fairly early days. But not Spiders. Which might make it a little more tricky to truly understand.
"I'll try to do better."
That could practically be the motto of their little club. It beats having a Chumbawamba 'song' serve as their motto at the very least.
The mention of Juggernaut, of the incident in Midtown gets a wave of his hand and a smile. "That? That was the least I could do. I know you can handle yourself but..." he says, words trailing off as he shrugs his shoulders and reaches for that bottle of water before clearing his throat. "You came when I called. You dropped everything, and just showed up because I asked. It meant a lot," Peter says quietly. "It means a lot."
Heat starts to creep up the back of his neck a little and he takes another quick swallow of the water. "Anyway, I'll try to keep the apologies to a minimum. But expect the thank yours to keep on flowing freely," he says with a smile.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
This time it was Gwen's turn to listen, to finally nip that French fry in half with her front teeth and chew for a moment before the temptation to take her first bite of her own sandwich gets the better of her and she starts in on that, too.
She never speaks with her mouth full, and her posture is just so... elegant and graceful. Turns out, the ballet slippers she's in might not just be for looks. Plus, there's the whole runway modeling thing. There's probably a lot of finishing school type lessons in her past, even if there is a mostly-healed, tell-tale piercing hole just above her right eyebrow, left over from her punk rock days.
/That's a pretty potent package./
"...Plus I can literally move an armored truck. I'm just saying. If we're rattling of selling points.." It's a joke. If the heavy sarcasm in her voice wasn't clear enough, the roll of her eyes is sure to do the trick.
There's confidence behind those words. She knew he was right. She was a stone's throw from being Doctor Gwen Stacy and she /was/ a steadfast friend (for the few friends she had). But, she could also lift a truck, and that was kind of... isolating, all on its own. However confident those words might have been, there's still that flicker of vulnerability -- almost an apology to the world for being the way she was, for not being more... normal. If anyone could get that, Peter could.
"I think trying to do better is all any of us can do," she says with a little smile. "It's all I can do, anyway. And I'm always just a call away." She pauses, tilting her head. "Unless I'm trapped in some alternate dimension or something. I mean, weirder things have happened." Then there's a quirk of a grin.
"The thank yous I can live with. But yeah, let's save the sorries for things we did on purpose that we regret, not just for things that are part of the job. They'll mean more if it happens, too."
She winks and takes another bite of her sandwich. Of course, she still hadn't gotten around to finishing that story, either.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Given the way that Peter wolfs down that sandwich, one might think that he had been raised with a half dozen siblings, competing for food. Or maybe just brought up in a particularly lax household.
Neither of which are are the case of course. He is most definitely an only child and his Aunt May would probably be scolding him if she were here at the moment, warning him of the hazards of not properly chewing his food. So he doesn't really have an excuse on either of those fronts to be sure.
Of course, he does have a tendancy to run off at the first sign of trouble, to spring into action. That has left many a meal interrupted and uncomplete, so perhaps the headlong rush to devour that sandwich is not entirely unwarrented. In their line of work -- or maybe more of a professional hobby given that they don't get paid -- one never knows just when the next crisis is going to loom up. When some threat is going to present itself.
Taking advantage of those quieter moments inbetween all the chaos is pretty important.
This is a pretty good example of that. A pretty good moment in what otherwise has not been the most successful stretch of time -- at least on Peter's end. "The truck thing is pretty cool too. I can't deny that," he admits with a hint of a smile.
The whole suite of spider abilities is definitely pretty amazing, there's no doubt about that. The strength, the speed, that little niggling danger sense that is always there. But it can be rather isolating too. Pete would definitely know. He's been doing it longer then most. Maybe that is part of the reason there is such an innate connection between the Spider-types.
"You mean you would ghost me, just because you're in another dimension?" he counters with a mock-gasp, faint smirk playing over his expression. "Mmmmmm, I suppose as far as excuses go it is a pretty good one. A little weird sure. But given the lives we lead, also not entirely impossible," he admits with a grin.
"Which probably says a little something about us," he conceeds wryly.
Stealing another fry that disappears almost before it's plucked out of the container, he polishes off that sandwich too, stretching out a little. "So. While you nicely diverted me, I do believe you owe me a story Miss Stacy."
No, he has not forgotten
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen's not nearly as voracious in her eating habits. She definitely had the metabolism. She ate /all/ the time. Sometimes it felt like she was just running from one meal to the next, which sometimes got a little hard on the funding. Luckily, she had two jobs (if you didn't count being a superhero, whose payment was mostly a sense of having done something good and an occasional crisp high five from a kid on the street).
/You mean you would ghost me.../
"Uhhh... hello? /Ghost/ Spider."
There's a playful lilt to Gwen's voice, but it's just a quip, as easily cast out and then dismissed as the hundreds of others she doles out on the regular. God forbid she should take /anything/ seriously, even fighting the likes of Rhino and Juggernaut.
But then there's the reminder about the story and she grins, cutting her eyes off to the side.
"/Fine/. So, Kevin and I are at this park. Kids. Car. I didn't have a costume at the time. I knew what I need to do, but I couldn't just /do it/ without someone getting it on video and the entire world knowing I have super powers. I needed a mask, and I wasn't going to run around topless. There's /seconds/, right? So.. I sort of pulled Kevin's shirt off. I didn't even tell him what I was doing. I just wrapped it around my face, ripped some eye holes in it, and saved the kids."
Her eyes lift to the sky briefly.
"Picture it.. me in a jogging outfit with some random t-shirt for a hood, picking them both up and jumping out of the way. They were /horrified/. They probably thought I was escaped from the insane asylum. They had /no/ idea what was about to happen. I'm not sure anyone did, except for Kevin. He saw the whole thing."
She purses her lips.
"One.... that's why Kevin is the only other person that knows who I am, aside from you and Miles." So, she really did barely have anyone to talk about this stuff. How much bottled up failure, success, and trauma /was/ she carrying around with no outlet for? Surely no more than Peter. But that isolation was real, and she still kept up her positive outlook.
"Two... it smelled like his BO so bad I gagged and almost passed out. Do you have /any/ idea how disgusting it is to have to wrap your best friend's sweaty shirt around your face and leave it there? It felt like I was wearing it /forever/. I had to go halfway home before I felt safe enough to take it off."
She shudders, her cheeks faintly pink again.
"So. Been there. At least you've got your own shirt."
Gwen grins again, then, and takes another bite of her sandwich. No, not even talking about dirty, BO-smelling shirts was enough to get her to stop eating. As prim and proper as she could be, at least she wasn't squeamish.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Once the sandwich is gone at least Peter stops being quite such a ravaging beast. The bottle of water is sipped in a much more relaxed manner, even set down occasionally so he can stretch out his arms behind himself, supporting him casually there.
Relaxation -- of any sort -- is another thing that is pretty rare in this line of work. And he doesn't even push himself as hard as he could be. As he probably should. He could certainly do a whole lot more with his mind then taking pictures of himself fighting various criminals. And then feed Jameson's obsession by just selling them to him, over and over again.
He doesn't have school anymore, he doesn't really have any extensive hobbies, the only science he pursues much anymore is when he needs to come up with some sort of 'thingie' to foil the bad guys and, to put it mildly, his social life is something of a joke.
A very bad one.
"Touche, Ghost Spider, Touche," Pete says wryly. "I suppose I had that one coming," he admits.
Of course Gwen isn't the only one to throw up a well honed shield of humor at virtually every opportunity. He has faced some pretty big threats. Actually, at times it feels like he does so pretty much weekly. And he has poked fun at almost all of them. Repeatedly. In fairnes it's not just enemies that get that treatment. More then a few friends and allies have gotten the quippiest treatment too. Heck, he's mocked Captain America for, well, Pete's sake.
And he'll probably do it again.
So he falls quiet once more, letting her get the story out, lips curved up only slightly, at least at first. But as she goes on they curve a little more. And a little more. Until a full-on grin rests there.
Hey, it's a pretty good story. He can't deny that.
"Okay, okay. I will concede. Your shirt as a mask story is a little more horrific then my shirt as a mask story," he says, laughter dancing in his voice but not fully released. "I will ;point out however that you did not forget your mask at home. You didn't even have one," he says archly.
So that's a point right back for him.
"But yes, I understand well how much fun it is trying to fight crime without a proper costume. My first outfit was basically just a red and blue hoodie. Real impressive stuff," Pete says with a soft snort of amusement, straightening back up a little as he reaches for that water bottle once more.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen had only picked at a few more fries and only eaten half of her sandwich when she wrapped it up -- about the time Peter was assigning the scores for her attempt to one-up his mask woes -- and she's smiling as she does it.
/You didn't even have one./
"Okay.. fair. I'll admit. I've never actually /forgotten/ my mask."
That thought seemed to amuse her, though, humor playing in her eyes at the thought of /The/ Spider-Man being so absent-minded that he sometimes left pieces of his costume behind. She'd been in the 'Spider Game' for about five years, herself, but she wasn't NEARLY as popular as the original.
Maybe because he spent more time on patrol than she did. Which isn't wrong. She was in college when she was bitten, and she's /still/ in college and working two jobs. Patrolling happens. It's just more... limited.
She puts the trash and the rest of her water back in her bag to be thrown away later. Would Peter realize she was packing up? She wasn't making a big deal about it...
"Did you save it? I bet somebody wants it for a museum. You should totally donate it for a good cause, if you have it."
But just as Peter reaches for that bottle of water, her hand moves and she *thwips* the bottle back into her own hand, her eyes glinting affectionately as a smile spreads broadly across her lips.
"Too slow." It wasn't even remotely fair. She was deliberately trying not to set off his Spidey-Sense by not threatening him. "Bet'cha can't take it back," she teases, winking and suddenly shifting to a crouch. Without any more invitation to play her game, she leaps, jumping up and off the edge of the building, and spinning in mid air. One more *thwip* later, she's snatched her backpack off of the ledge, and then she's falling, plummeting from the skyscraper towards the ground.
Even as she falls, she wiggles into her backpack and fishes her mask out of that hidden pocket, pulling it over her head with one hand so she can clutch the bottle protectively. Peter still had to 'mask' up and catch on to the fact that she'd completely shifted gears from their semi-serious conversations to something that was /purely/ play. She wasn't going to be able to beat Spider-Man in a fair fight, but maybe if she gave herself enough advantages...
- Spider-Man has posed:
Now there's a thought. Spider-Man memorabilia.
He probably should have saved more artifacts from his various adventures. Maybe collected all the devices that his foes tried to kill him with. Unique souvenir items. They might be museum worthy one day. It's not the most outlandish idea out there afterall. The Flash gets a museum, right? Superman gets a freakin' statue. Practically everything Tony builds is a monument to Iron Man.
Though Peter isn't sure that it really counts if you build it yourself. It seems against the rules.
"I think I do still have it somewhere. Buried in a box in Aunt May's attic," he agrees wryly. "Somehow I don't see a big Spider-Man display in my future. Especially if I can't do something about my present legal problems. Though I guess there are sometimes displays on notorious criminals right? Come see how the infamous Spider-Man got his start on his path to being a menace and an assassin," he says with a self-depricating smirk.
"Or I guess I could sell it to Jameson. I'm sure he wouldn't mind shelling out some to burn it in effigy," Pete says drily. "Something to keep in mind the next time I'm really, really late on my rent."
It's not that he doesn't notice that Gwen's packing up of course, it just sorta stands to reason though. While he's busy, he's not working on his PhD while modelling and playing in a band and patrolling in a costume busy. Though it might average out.
Still, as that bottle of water flies out of his hand, Pete blinks in surprise. "Hey, I was still drinking that," he protests, though a smile slides across his expression.
With all the troubles in his life these days, with the threat from the police, with all of his greatest foes seeming to crawl out of the woodwork after him, it's easy to forget just how much fun their powers can be. That life doesn't have to be all doom and gloom, twenty-four/seven.
Unless you let it.
"I'm a couple of years older then you. I'm slowing down," Pete counters, lips curling up a little more. That's him. Practically decrepit. Still, as she launches herself off that ledge and into free fall, he calls after her, "That's cheating!"
Still, he pauses only long enough to funmble with his own backpack, to fish that paint-stained shirt out of there -- sigh, Deadpool -- and quickly wrap it around the lower half of his face before he is diving off the building in pursuit.
He plunges down the side of it, arms held tight to his side, a streak of red and blue as he cuts down on that wind resistance and just lets the breeze rush past, indulging in that free fall.
He might not catch her, but sometimes it's about how you play the game.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
"Come on, Gramps!"
Once she's situated, she webs the half-full bottle to the top of her shoulder to hold it in place. It wouldn't be fair without a target to aim for, after all, and she's was definitely going to need both hands free if she was going to race Peter.
They used to be kids -- kids with powers that were MADE for kids (including extra durability for when those kids inevitably screwed up and went past their limited). When they were just getting started, it was terrifying, daunting, confusing, overwhelming, isolating... all of the same things it /still/ is. The difference? It was also /fun/. They played. They screamed. They blew off all of that steam instead of letting it fester.
After half-a-decade or more, it's easy to forget that last part. It's easy to focus on the fact that, only as they sat there eating sandwiches and chatting, there were two muggings in the same borough, fifteen across the city, four-hundred-ninety-seven in the world (Editor's Note: These numbers are entirely manufactured with zero supporting documentation).... none of which they even attempted to stop.
But you can't be everywhere at once. You can't maintain your own sanity if you just pile guilt after guilt on top of it. You can't expect police officers to work 24/7, 7 days a week, and the world needed Spider-Man as much as any police officer (and maybe, to a lesser extent, Ghost Spider). So, in what is becoming more and more obviously typically Gwen fashion, she tugs him a little further out of his head and a little further into her world... a world full of music with drums, laughter, and games of chase. A world where it was okay to just exist, to have imperfect moments, to keep trying harder and keep playing harder.
A world where being pretty doesn't mean stuck up, smart doesn't mean infallible, and grown-up doesn't mean boring.
She was calling back over her shoulder, turning to fall backwards through the air for a moment, when those big white eyes suddenly widened in surprise at how bullet-like he was.
"Holy webs he's fast."
She turns again, mimicking his posture to streak towards the street until she's finally descended past the tops of the nearby buildings, then there's a *THWIP* of her web line and race is really on.
It's incredibly dynamic. She swings between buildings, runs across rooftops, soars between busses (and shoots out a web-line to catch the back of one to change directions spontaneously), constantly aware that Peter could be doing any number of things to get her shoulder-bottle, from trying to trip her up to webbing it off of her shoulder to just swinging by to snag it. So, she never does /anything/ predictably.
One thing that will eventually, over the long course of the race, become clear, though.. is that they're getting closer and closer to Peter's place.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Gavity is gravity, right? One doesn't go around messing with a universal constant, right? At least one probably shouldn't. Things are not always quite so absolute in the world they reside in of course, which is an entirely different sort of problem.
But you can play little tricks. Wind resistance can make a great deal of difference. Not enough to completely close the distance between them mind you. Gwen has a little too much of a head start for that. But at the very least Peter's making a pretty good effort to close that gap. You don't do this as long as he's been doing it without picking up a few tricks at the very least.
In his case he was still in high school when he got his powers. And he certainly wasn't out to save the world when this all started. No, he dreamed of maybe no longer being the nerdy loner. Making some money as a wrestler. Impressing the girl.
Tragedy has a way of shifting certain priorities. Some life lessons are pretty damn hard, more so when they come so early. So unexpected.
Not that it still wasn't fun. Learning to climb walls, knowing that you can go just about anywhere, with few restrictions. The strength, the speed. Being able to casually hurtle from building to building. And then developing a webbing mix, a means to swing, to take flight.
That is probably the coolest part of it all really.
There really is nothing like it. Flying must be pretty great too, but consider him biased, Peter finds it difficult to imagine that there is anything quite like swinging through the city, hurtling low and just skimming traffic. Reaching the apex of a swing and just letting go.
Or, say, diving off a building like this one. Just plummetting towards the ground. Knowing that any moment you can pull out of it.
You know, unless you've forgotten to change your web-shooter cartridge. But what are the chances of that, right? Forgetting one's mask and to change cartridges, both in one day? Naaaaaah. Gulp.
Fortunately it is definitely not a problem and as Gwen starts to swing away in front of him -- that water bottle webbed tauntingly to her shoulder to give him something to chase, you know, besides her -- Peter too throws out a webline with that practiced ease, both hands gripping it as he careens away from that sudden impact with the ground below arcing in a wide swing that sends him swooping over the city below, racing past traffic stalled out on the city streets.
To an extent it becomes a game of hide and seek after that, sudden turns and shifts in momentum played out on the ultimate 3D chessboard -- New York City itself. Cars, busses, even trains are at their disposal to race across on, to hitch a ride atop. When that gap starts to open again thanks to some clever move she comes up with, Peter is usually able to rapidly close the distance once more by finding an anchor point, launching two weblines against it and pulling, sling-shotting himself through the air with a certain reckless abandon.
She only rarely escapes his sight, and never for long and by the time they approach his own neighborhood he is nipping at her heels once more.
"Wooooo. You still have a ways to go padawan if the rank of master you hope to achieve," he calls out from behind her, literally running across the wall before leaping free once more, swinging through the street in pursuit."
In fairness, he hasn't caught her yet.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
In fairness, it was never about winning. Gwen had seen Peter fight first hand and knew exactly what he was capable of. Frankly, not a small number of her moves were taken directly out of his playbook because... well... he kind of created the whole damn book. In this day and age, the short-cut way for a Spider to learn to be a Spider was to watch video of him doing his thing.
Or, if you're lucky, work with him in person, because there was nothing quite watching him.
Which... Gwen probably should have been doing less of. She spent too much of her time spinning so she could get a glimpse behind her or swinging backwards and inverted so she could watch him literally slingshot himself over a building. He was /so/ fast, and /so/ efficient. It was beyond intimidating to have him constantly nipping at her heels, and she nearly bit it into the side of a water tower or a sign because she was... fascinated. Amused. Yes, impressed.
And then embarrassed because she wasn't /trying/ to let him win. Quite the contrary, it was all she could do to maintain what little lead she had on him, and even /that/ had been unfairly seized from the beginning.
By the time they reach his neighborhood, he hasn't caught her... yet. But that gap has reduced to nothing. He's figured out the finish line by this point, right? She's still racing /hard/ for his place, but after his taunt, the sound of her laughter is bright and free (if somewhat breathless).
"Did you pick Yoda... because you're old?... Or because you're... green... with envy?"
She may not have been as big of a nerd as Peter, but she she /was/ a biochemical researcher. She could at least get a nerdy pop-culture reference. She's shouting it over her shoulder, and if he needed any proof to know that she was absolutely giving it her all, it's that struggle to catch her breath.
He hadn't caught her yet, but she hadn't looked behind herself in a few seconds. His place was only a couple of blocks away, and she was so close to winning the race she could taste it. There's no quarter given. She's /going/ to win, and the shortest distance was through a construction site where workers were actively working on a high rise.
She /could/ go around, but if she went through...
Her web catches one of the steel beams and she swings into a floor full of workers, dashing through them with her hood fluttering around her face.
"Great job, guys! Keep up the good work! Sorry, no time for autographs!"
"It's Spider-Woman!" one of them shouts.
"I AM NOT... whatever." She was too far past to correct him by this point.
"...was that a bottle on her shoulder?.. Hey! Be careful for the--"
Tarp. He was going to say tarp. Why was it there, you ask? Why is any construction debris anywhere? You'd have to be stupid or /really/ competitive to risk taking that route, with all of the various hazards and people.
Regardless, instead of gracefully leaping out of the other open wall of that building, Gwen is tripping, twisting, screaming and tumbling, free-falling and trying to get it off of her before something even worse happens. Like... the ground.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Practice makes perfect.
Well, maybe not perfect. But Peter has definitely had a chance to hone his abilities and skills in the dozen plus years that he has had these spider abilities. No one has quite seen the entirety of the city in quite the same way that he has, learned it's various ins and outs, the little tricks and nuances of a city that is very much alive. Constantly growing and shifting and changing. It's a priviledge that he probably doesn't appreciate as often or as much as he should.
It is also a pretty good testement to the power of the human mind. The calculations that go into catching a thrown ball are pretty impressive. And the human mind does that all instinctively. Being a science and math wiz certainly might help Peter's understanding, but just about anyone can do it.
Then consider how many more variables go into swinging through a city. The shifting winds, the way that different streets can have their very own wind variables. How things change with the speed or depth of a swing. But they're putting it together, all on the fly.
There might be a reason that Spiders tend to be a fairly intelligent, fairly science inclined lot.
It is just nice to let go, to not worry about anything, to race through the city like he has no cares. In the moment, he can even forget that he is a wanted man. He races by people who stop and point, who call out to him, but in the moment, as fast as they're moving the words are lost and his focus is razor sharp. It's not even to win -- though there is enough of a competitive spark in Pete that Pete certainly wouldn't object to beating Gwen back to the finish line -- and maybe snagging that bottle of water back if he can.
But it is a decidedly secondary objective. A nice to have, instead of a need to have. Icing on the cake, as it were. In this case at least the participation trophy is more than enough.
"Hey, a little from column A, a little from column B," he hollars back over the noise of the street, over the rush of wind as they race from rooftop to rooftop and beyond, leaping obstacles with barely any notice.
He is not breathing hard, though it is less an issue of conditioning and more a matter that it is always a little easier to be the hunter then the hunted. Over the years, he's spent more then his fair share being both. He should know.
Then they reach that new construction up ahead and that's where home field advantage comes into play. Peter well knows just what floors are still being worked on, which one are crowded with people and obstructions. And conversely, which ones are not. So his swing is just a little deeper, a little higher then Gwen's, taking him up another two floors.
He hops, skips and yes occasionally jumps from girder to girder with the surety of someone who knows they they are going to stick the landing as it were. Emerging from the far side, he sneaks a quick peek and quickly confirms that he is emerging from the shell of the building first, letting out a loud whooop as he springs out towards his apartment building.
But when he glances back he finally catches sight of her, tumbling downward. And while Peter has no doubt that she'll be able to recover, he's not exactly made to stand aside and let the chips fall where they may. So clinging to the side of the building, that webline *thwips* out towards her.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen is grumbling rather than panicking mid-freefall. The tarp was 'clear,' but not clear enough to even see how far or how fast she was plummeting -- not that it mattered. All that really mattered at that point was getting her arms free so she could shoot a web line. The pressure of the wind had ensured that she remained ensnared until she could figure out the puzzle...
...or until someone yanked snatched her by the bottom of her blue ballet slipper. The web wrapped around her shoe and her ankle when it hit, and it immediately arrested her fall, leaving her hanging comically upside down after a few little bounces.
Another side effect? The sudden change in direction and wind-speed meant the tarp kept falling, essentially yanking her free of it and sending it fluttering to the ground while she hung there, looking up (down?) the length of her body and the long line of webbing at Peter.
Those big white eyes are smiling, though, and the warmth... the gratitude... is there in her voice. She reaches down (up?) and pulls the bottle off of her shoulder, tossing it straight up the line of that web like a chess player tipping over her king.
Then, instead of continuing to just hang around, she reaches out to the wall and grabs on to it. She rips the webbing off of her ankle, and then, standing on the side of the wall as if it were the ground, she walks back up to him.
"Nice race. You're /crazy/ fast. I'm not too proud to admit... it's pretty scary trying to get away from you. I kinda hope I never have to try for real."
It's pure warmth in her voice, not a hint of bitterness over her loss.
- Spider-Man has posed:
Show off? Show off??? Does she really think Peter would be guilty of such a thing?
Well of course he would.
The Spider-mask is like a release of sorts for Peter -- and apparently its power also infuses t-shirts used as masks as well. Before he was bitten by that radioactive spider he was a pretty shy kid. Even now, when he is just plain Peter Parker he tends to revert to being on the quiet side, at least when he's not truly comfortable around people. But have him slip on that mask?
If the internet has proven anything it is that anonymity can make people behave pretty differently. Fortunately, for the most part, in Peter's case that has just allowed him to be a whole lot more outgoing. To let his sense of humor out, his sense of fun -- even if it doesn't seem like it lately. He gets to show a different side of himself.
That yes, includes a little showing off. Like maybe at this moment.
So as Gwen steadies herself and rips that bottle free, tossing his way, one hand comes up, a webline *thwips* out and he is tugging it back to his hand, holding it aloft like he just won a prize.
"~We are the champions my friend..." he caterwalls enthusiastically. But not very well. Probably best that he keeps his job as a photographer.
Still, as she joins him, with half his face revealled there is no mistaking the fact that there is a grin firmly etched in place beneath that t-shirt. "Don't fool yourself. You pretty much had me until right there at the end. You've come a long way," he points out, words sincere despite the good humor to his words.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
"You know what? Nobody likes a gloater," Gwen protests once Peter started singing, even though her tone and the shape of her eyes conveyed exactly the opposite. She was happy. Happy to have relaxed with him for a while. Happy to see him having /fun/ for a change.
She just stands there on the side of the building as if it was the most normal thing in the entire world, folding her arms across her stomach and watching him with what is probably /exactly/ the same expression as when she was coming up with absurd names for his new masked identity.
"Mmmm," Gwen muses doubtfully, even when he switches to praising her, playfully bumping him with her shoulder. "Thanks."
And then, a voice from above.
"Hey, ev'rything alright down there? Thought I heard some kinda scream or somethin'. Oh, hey! Dat a new Spider-Man? Why's he got a towel wrapped 'round his mug?"
One of the workers is leaning to look out and down at the pair of them.
"It's fine!" Gwen calls back, waving up pleasantly. "We're fine. It's the original Spider-Man. It's just a.. minor wardrobe malfunction."
"Ain't he wanted by the cops?"
"Maybe I should call the police..."
"I wish you wouldn't," Gwen pleads.
"Hey Vinny!! You got your phone?!"
"Well... good talk! Sorry about your tarp!"
And just like that, Ghost Spider is web-swinging away, going the round-about way towards Peter's place so the cops are looking in the wrong direction if they ever end up getting called.
This time, though, the web-swinging is slower, and she turns like she expected Peter to catch up and swing beside her.
- Spider-Man has posed:
It is a fair point.
Mostly. Gloaters are usually pretty a-ok with themselves. Hence all the gloating. Still, Pete is a pretty merciful guy in the grand scheme of things and while his singing might be fit for the shower, when he is alone and no one can overhear him, it's definitely not fit for public consumption.
Those eyes remain oh so slightly crinkled, telling of the smile beneath that paint-stained shirt he continues to wear as a mask. "Hey, what are friends for," he points out. "And you've been a pretty good one," he counters, bumping her back.
Besides, in this case it was pretty much the truth. Oh sure, in a real chase there would have no doubt been more attempts to interfere with her progress. Webs thrown up in her path, attempts to jerk her feet out from under her. But as a pure race goes, neither one of them was exactly pulling any punches or passing on opportunities to get a little bit of an edge.
as some of the construction workers start to gather nearby and rather pointedly remind Peter of the fact that he is a wanted man -- and it's not just the Daily Bugle covering his supposed misdeeds this time which might say a few more people to believe that he is legitimately guilty of something this time.
"She's very truthworthy," Pete chimes in hopefully. "I'd listen to her. I make a point of it," he calls out, adding his own two cents to the discussion.
Which doesn't seem to be going their way. Oh well. "We're moving on. Not looking for trouble," he calls out, easily taking up Gwen's hint and a moment later he is falling in beside her, that long, looping swing taking them around to the far side of the building.
This time there is no singing, no spectacle, just a quick glance around as he lands on the side of the building, crawling forward slowly and fiddling with the sealed window there, dropping silently onto the fire escape before crawling through the now opened window.
On television, in the movies, everyone in New York seems to live in some pretty impressive apartments. And they do exist. Some of them are even rent controlled.
Peter doesn't have one of those. He has, at times, referred to it as a shoebox. That is obviously not really accurate. But it is not terribly far off either. If he had a roommate -- or a better job -- maybe he could swing something that is a little less... tiny. But both of those possibilities come with all sorts of other potential problems.
So for now? One room, that is not a complete slum.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen cuts a fairly relaxed path through the city, letting Peter take the lead once she's select a non-obvious direction, and swinging back through the streets to that wall. There, she follows him down to the window. She even slips her legs inside, but she doesn't 'go in.' She just sort of perches on the windowsill, pulling her mask up and tucking it under her hood.
All the better to see him with. And to be seen.
Peter was home at last, led across the city on a spontaneous chase whose only purpose (other than a bit of fun) was to get him home to his real mask so he wasn't stuck wearing that shirt around any longer than he had to. But that also meant it was time for Gwen to be somewhere that wasn't just hanging out in Peter's bedroom (slash kitchen slash living room slash dining room).
If she minded the size of his place -- if she even gave it a second thought -- it doesn't show in her face. She had a studio apartment in Wavecrest Gardens in Rockaway. It was a little bigger and it had a view of the water. So, more expensive, but ultimately still a studio apartment.
Otherwise, she could offer to be roommates. Not like they had any secrets to keep from each other. They could get a bigger place...
....But, that would definitely be weird. Right? Especially since she was apparently feeling unreasonably awkward about even coming in to his place, even though she'd been there before.
She smiles, a few blonde locks peeking out from her hood now that her mask has been pulled up.
"I should get going so I'm not late for band practice... again," she says. Maybe lies? Or maybe it's just that smile that makes her look a little guilty. "Thanks for today, Peter. I had a lot of fun. You've been a really good friend to me, too. I... might not have realized how much I needed to spend time around someone that.. gets it."
- Spider-Man has posed:
Truthfully, aside from serving as a place to sleep, change, shower and catch an occasional bite to eat, he hardly spends any time in his apartment. It is not like he needs a particularly fancy place. Sure, it would certainly be nice to have more then just a view of an alley. And having a place big enough that his bed and his kitchen aren't in the same room might be a little nice. He doesn't really know his neighbors that well, though most of them are decent, hard working folk. It could really be a whole lot worse.
It is more a matter of what the apartment represents perhaps. He has done a lot of good as Spider-Man and he certainly dedicates a lot of time to that pursuit. Most of the time he loves it. Even when it is not going great there is still satisfaction to be found in it. Just being a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man. There's far worse ways he could be spending his time.
He likes taking photgraphs too. Working out of a media company -- even the Daily Bugle -- means that he is close at hand to an abundance of sources of information. It keeps him informed, lets him know where threats are sometimes even before the authorities. And it is his artistic release. Gwen has her band. Miles has his street art. He has photography. He definitely gets some impressive shots. But a lot of that happens because he is Spider-Man more then because he has a practiced eye, or true composition skills. He captures the frenetic energy of a scene because he is literally involved in it. It's good work to be sure.
But it's hard not to feel like he could be doing more. That he shouldn't be scrounging from paycheck to paycheck. That he should be able to help Aunt May more. That he should be able to go out with his friends -- heck, do anything to maintain some of those friendships.
He is a certifiable genius. He came up with a substance that can be stored as a liquid at room temperature and still manifest as a solid, just through the correct application of a few chemicals and a pressurized release. That has an absolutely ridiculous tensile strength. That can be formed into a variety of items. And can simply disintegrate after a few hours. And he did it while he was in high school. In his basement. With a home chemistry set. It's really not all that far from Tony Stark building a suit of power armor in a cave. It puts him in rarified air.
And yet, here he is.
His apartment is fine for what it is. But what it seems to represent is that maybe, just maybe, he lacks ambition.
As soon as he is in that apartment he is peeling off that t-shirt, casually tossing it towards the laundry hamper in the corner, though no sooner has he done so then he is trotting over there, plucking that mask from where it dangles over one edge, a slight mustard stain seemingly the source of why he didn't have it on him. Holding it up towards Gwen where she remains perched in the window frame, he makes a face. "Mmmm, I probably should grab my spare," he admits.
Starting back towards the window, Peter gives a quiet chuckle. If she's lying, if he knows she's lying he certainly doesn't call her on it. Maybe he's been there before too. Maybe they're both glad to have someone that understands. "No, thank you. You've really kept my mind off of some of my troubles. It means a lot, you know. Just having someone to talk to. Someone that understands what it's like," he admits, hand going to the back of his head and idly rubbing through his hair there.
"I'll text you tonight. Maybe we can sweep the park if you have some time," Pete promises. "And I promise, next time I get paid I'll treat you to lunch for a change," he promises wryly.
Will he keep that promise? Well, he's already promised to try and be better so there's always hope.
- Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen watches him fetch that mask with a little, amused grin at the corner of her lips. "Do you... want me to keep your extra in my bag?"
Is it a serious offer, or is she just taunting him by being motherly? It's Gwen. She'd already both made sure Peter had something to eat and teased him mercilessly at every opportunity. So, it could really go either way. She does offer a hand out with the question, though.
/Someone that understands what it's like.../
"Yeah." It's a soft, vaguely wistful agreement.
That wistfulness fades, however, at the mention of getting a text from him later. Sweeping the park. Not only would she take /any/ excuse to avoid going back and working on her doctoral thesis (which included hours upon hours of staring at an empty word processor document... riveting stuff), this one was pretty high up on the list of stuff she would give up to go do.
"Cool. I'll be around," she says, immediately perkier. But then there's the mention of buying lunch the next time. It makes her laugh. "Just keep spending time with me and we'll call it even. It's a small price that I'm happy to pay to hang out with a great guy I can trust."
One last smile.
"See you, Peter."
And with that, she reaches up and pulls her own mask down into place. She climbs back out the window, offers a little wave, and then, with a *THWIP* she's off.