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Date of Scene: 11 August 2023
Location: Central Park, New York
Synopsis: In a continued effort to try to clear his name, Gwen invites Peter to UnityFest, where the New York City Mayor is slated to give a speech. If there's another attempt on the Mayor's life, they'll be there to thwart it! However, neither one of them was expecting to run into Gwen's father, a sweep of the venue leading to holding hands, or hastily acquired churros on the way to a police scanner's call for backup in Lower Manhattan!
Cast of Characters: Ghost Spider, Spider-Man

Ghost Spider has posed:
Central Park is alive with excitement for UnityFest, an annual event that celebrates the rich cultural tapestry and resilience of New York City, especially in light of tensions between mutants, super-powered individuals, and those without powers. This year, the event has garnered even more attention due to its theme: "Unity in Diversity, Strength in Togetherness," aiming to bridge the gap between various communities (though there were certainly some that were either excluded or simply not named). The New York City Mayor is scheduled to make an appearance and deliver some remarks on unity, but with the recent attempt on his life, there was no way Gwen was going to miss it. She even invited Peter to come in plain clothes. Two Spidey-Senses are better than one, after all.

The air is filled with the scent of street food, laughter, and the distant thrum of music. Central Park has been transformed into a grand gala, celebrating the unity and resilience of New York City. Colorful tents are dotted across the park, each with a unique activity or performance, from live bands to dance competitions. Giant screens are set up for a live telecast of the event, which will culminate in the mayor's speech.

As the sun works its way towards the horizon, the whole park is bathed in a warm golden hue, with twinkling fairy lights strung between trees and lamp posts. The main stage, adorned with blue and gold drapes, stands at the heart of the park, ready for the mayor's appearance.

Gwen is dressed in an outfit that's so common for her -- a black vest over a white blouse, a purple mini-skirt, and heeled black boots. She carries the same smallish backpack she usually does, her phone lingering in her fingers as she looks down at her messaging app.

>> Here. I'm by the main fountain.

It's the message she shoots off to Peter. The iconic Bethesda Terrace and Fountain, not far from the main stage, is teeming with festival-goers, but it's a familiar landmark and should make for an easy meetup spot.

Before she can slip her phone back into her pocket, the air vibrates with the electric thump of a bass guitar, signaling the beginning of another live performance. An indie band starts to play, drawing her attention momentarily. She can't help but tap her foot to the rhythm, taking in the lively energy of the crowd.

As the minutes tick by, Gwen grows a little anxious. Every tall, lanky figure with brown hair makes her do a double-take, but Peter remains elusive. She starts to wonder if he's having second thoughts about attending the fest, especially given the recent allegations that Spider-Man was the one that had tried (and failed) to carry out the mayor's assassination.
Spider-Man has posed:
Of course it would be difficult to cover all of the mayor's public appearances. Some of them are not easy to get to -- or at least into -- and then there is always the matter that both of them do have lives outside the costume. Gwen more then Peter perhaps, but it is pretty much impossible to 'do this' twenty-four/seven, even when switching between the costume and not.

Still, this is too good an opportunity to pass up. Back, practically to the scene of the crime? All sorts of crowds around to obscure things. A host of kiosks and other temporary structures put up offering cover and and further obscurity.

In some respects it is an assassins dream.

In some, but not all. The NYPD is most definitely out in force for this particular even and the number of uniformed officers in teh crowd is fairly considerable. But there are also a large number of plain clothed officers that aren't quite so obvious unless one knows what they're looking for. Clearly it's not just Gwen and Peter that are keeping an eye on things.

Of course, if the assassin truly is the Chameleon, will he really care? Given that he can appear as practically anyone at all. It isn't exactly hard for him to blend in with the crowd, no matter what. And while choosing to make the initial attempt as Spider-Man suggests that whatever his aim is, it might be directed as much against Spidey as City Hall, there really isn't anyway to know for sure. Not yet at least.

With all these people here, with the loud music and the air filled with the chatter of hundreds of conversations it would take a lot of luck to spot anything untoward going on.

A lot of luck... or maybe senses of the spider kind.

Given the fact that Peter is so late one would think that this was purely a social engagement. He does have something of a bad track record when it comes to those and when he makes it at all, it is usually decidedly on the late side.

But he tends to be a little more reliant when it is something Spider related, and while there might be a decent time to be had at the park today, there's no doubt the real purpose here is to keep an eye on the Mayor. First and foremost to make sure that nothing happens to him. But also, admittedly, because the chance to catch the real assassin might be the only way to clear Peter's name at this point.

Despite all of that, Gwen is left on her lonesome at the fountain as minutes pass. Then, finally there is a tap on her shoulder, a sheepish looking Pete standing there, holding up the camera that dangles from the cord around his neck. "Sorry. I got half-way here and realized I'd left my camera behind," he admits. "I'm not actually on the clock, but I figured since I'm here anyway, might as well see if I can get a few shots and pick up a little extra cash if at all possible."
Ghost Spider has posed:
For the first few minutes, Gwen seemed perfectly content just to wait and move with the music, enjoying the live performance, the venue, the open air, the electricity of the crowds in New York. This city was like a living, breathing creature, and these kinds of events always felt like the heartbeat, pulsing with life.

But then the disappointment started to creep in around the edges. She glanced down at her phone and swept her hair back behind her ear. Regardless of Peter showing up or not, she /did/ have a point to being here.. to keeping an eye on things. She wasn't sure how long to wait, and after a couple more minutes, it's actual worry that has her looking at the screen again, debating whether or not to text and ask if he's okay.

She's still looking at her phone when there's that tap on her shoulder, and she spins her head in a flurry of blonde locks, blue eyes softening in relief when they find Peter over her shoulder. She lifts an eyebrow, her lips quirking into an amused smile. "Of course you did. Never a day off for Peter Parker, Photographer Extraordinaire? Though, I have to admit, I was starting to wonder if you'd gotten tangled up in some web or something."

Of course, just as she turned to face him fully, /another/ figure was coming up behind her. A whole head taller than Gwen and twice a broad, with a head of graying blonde hair, he wears black slacks, a crisp white shirt with a black tie, and an NYPD badge. In fact, might be one of any of the NYPD assigned this particular detail, but this particular man has taken a daunting level of interest in both of them, his expression... not harsh, but not what one would call friendly, either.

The thing is... Gwen met Aunt May, but she'd never introduced Peter to her father before. Because, for the last five years, she's never had a compelling reason to tell him that she's Ghost Spider. As these things tend to go, Captain Stacy is an avid Spider Hunter, views them through a similar lens as Jameson, and keeps the most recent copy of the Bugle on the back of the toilet.

So, how do you explain that you're one of them to your father and ever hope to have a relationship with him again? Gwen didn't know. And, the cruel thing about reality was that.. there was no going back on that decision once it was made. Time kept ticking forward. And time ticking forward with her father heartbroken and isolated form her was not a reality she wanted to live in.

Regardless of all that, he's still Gwen's father, and so he made sure that Peter was the first one to notice him. That heavy eye-contact he made was intimidating, whether Peter realized he was Gwen's father or just thought he was some random police officer hard-staring him, and he didn't announce himself to Gwen. Not right away, anyway.
Spider-Man has posed:
There is a certain truth to that. Being a photo-journalist isn't exactly your typical nine to five job -- even for Peter who specializes in, well, photos of himself. One just doesn't know when or where something worth snapping a picture of might happen. And it's always better to be prepared then not.

Besides, Peter can always use the extra money. Jameson is not exactly generous, but he's certainly a ready buyer for anything Spider-Man related. And enough of Peter's other snapshots that it is worthwhile having his camera on hand whenever he's able.

Besides, there is always the possibility that he might take a shot of something important, something that could lead to the assassin. It's a longshot sure, but right now Pete is kind of grasping and straws, just hoping that one of them pans out.

Before he finds himself in police custody.

"That's me," he agrees wryly, idly hefting his own backpack a little. Despite the warm summer afternoon, chances are his costume is present beneath that grey shirt and blue jeans. And one would certainly hope that his mask is tucked away in his backpack this time. His shirt isn't anywhere near colorful enough to make a respectable bandana this time.

"Sorry about that, I should have texted and let you know," he says at once, even though he might have promised not to apologize quite as often going forward. It's instinct!

And theis time she does kind of deserve it. If anyone has the agility to juggle a cellphone while swinging through the sity, it certainly should be the Amazing Spider-Man, right?

"I admit, it's a little nerve wracking having all this police presence around. I mean I know it's not me me that htey're looking for, but still," he murmurs, dropping his voice until it's just barely audible over that music, over the chatter going on around them. "It's silly, but..."

Aunt May is a lovely woman. She can be protective of her nephew of course, even fiercely so despite her advancing age. But for the most part she sets Peter's friends at ease. Some have been making regular appearances at that home in Queens for more then a decade. Some have only had the excuse to visit more recently. No matter what, all of them are made to feel welcome.

Of course, even at her very worst it might be a stretch to call May intimidating.

It is not a stretch, however, to call the officer who is approaching them right at the moment intimidating however. Even as Pete talks about being a little concerned to be here, in the midst of all this police presence his gaze continually flickers back towards the approaching man. Expecting him to veer off. Expecting him to turn his attention to whatever has drawn his over this way. Which is surely not Peter. It can't possibly be. His forehead hasn't suddenly broken out with the name 'Spider-Man' plastered over in big, bright neon letters right?

It is almost possible to see that sudden spike of anxiety on Peter's expression and he takes a quick glance down, just to make sure that his costume isn't accidently showing, that he hasn't ripped his shirt open to reveal the red and blue beneath. "Ummm... Gwen..." he starts.

"My costume isn't showing is it?" he asks in a near-whisper, voice suddenly taunt with tension. "Because there's a police officer headed right this way. And he does not look happy."
Ghost Spider has posed:
/I should have texted.../

"It's fine, Peter. Really. I was coming anyway. It's not like I was going to do anything else if something had come up. Besides, you're here now."

Gwen smiles, rocking her weight to the balls of her feet. In-costume, that gesture had a way of making her look young, antsy, excited. Turns out, it did the same out-of-costume.

At the mention of the police presence, though, Gwen lets out a little laugh. "Yeah. The dichotomy is pretty weird. Especially for me. I might not be on the Most Wanted list, but I'm not exactly a fan-favorite, either."

/My costume isn't showing is it?/

Gwen blinks, her eyes sweeping down the front of his shirt and then back up again. "No... why?"

Police. It's probably nothing. Just don't be suspicious, don't be suspicious...

The whole place was crawling with police, and it wasn't exactly like they were doing anything wrong by standing by the fountain and talking with like a hundred thousand other people (okay.. maybe not that many). Besides! Her dad's a cop, and lots of the NYPD knew Captain Stacy -- he was a NOTORIOUS stickler for the rules. So, whether or not they liked him might be up for debate, but they all respected him. The good ones, anyway. If she needed to, she could always play that carrrrrrrr....d.

Even as she was thinking ahead to her next move, Gwen was putting on that runway model smile and turning to face...


All at once, it was like he was a different man. When George Stacy looked down at Gwen, it was as if he was seeing a five-year-old little girl playing with her dolls. The pure affection in his eyes was unmistakable, and as Gwen all but lunged forward to hug him around his barrel chest, he wrapped his arms around her too for a moment.

"What... what are you doing here?" Gwen asks lamely when she's stepping back from him again, almost awkwardly bumping into Peter in the process. Yes, she'd put herself between the two of them, though whether it was intentional or subconscious wasn't clear.

Once she almost steps back into him, though, Gwen does laugh nervously and take up position by his side. "Sorry."

"Central Park?" Captain Stacy asks, nodding up and around. "Working. Here? Coming to see why my daughter's been left standing alone in the middle of New York, staring at her phone..." His eyes shift pointedly to Peter, whom he obviously does not view as a five-year-old little girl.

"Oh! I was just early and killing time," Gwen cuts back in quickly, lying smoothly. "Dad, this is my friend, Peter Parker.. from the Daily Bugle. Peter, this is my dad.. Captain Stacy."
Spider-Man has posed:
While he is aware of just who Gwen's father is, what he does for a living, he has never met the man.

Peter is probably entertaining thoughts, entertaining hope that she can talk them out of any trouble that they might be in, perhaps call on those police ties. The department does have a reputation for taking care of their own of course, so maybe that will play out to their advantage this time.

But not if this somehow involves Spider-Man, he suspects. A wanted assassin is probably a little too big of a ticket item for even Gwen at her most winsome to simply sidestep and avoid. And he can't think of any other reason any police officer should be shooting him such a look.

It might not be a complete disaster. He is pretty well known for taking pictures of Spider-Man afterall. He's been questioned before about having a relationship with him, so it could just be something along those lines. Not the way he wanted to spend the day, but in all likelihood he wouldn't be dragging her into his troubles if it's just that. She can stay here, keep an eye on things and make sure that there isn't another attempt on the mayor.

It will be fine, right? Suuuuuuuuure.

So when she whirls, when she says that magic word of greeting, Pete instinctively lets out a long, slow breath, the sound of relief likely lost under the noise of the crowd. But it most definitely is there.

It's her dad. Of course it is. Well that's a huge relief, isn't it? Isn't it? So why is Captain Stacy looking at him that way? Gwen said his costume wasn't showing, so that can't be it.

That sudden wave of relief starts to receed. Rapidly.

It probably doesn't help when Gwen stumbles back into him. It's such an absent, innocent gesture and under normal circumstances he would probably hardly notice. But his mind is working about a mile a minute right then and he instinctively reaches out to steady both him and her.

Gripping her hips right in front of her father might not have been the very best thing he could have done in that moment. And it suddenly occurs to him just what is so different between the looks the pair of them are getting. When Captain Stacy looks at her it isn't all that different then how his Aunt May looks at him. It doesn't really matter that she's a grown woman, on the verge of getting her doctorate. She's his little girl.

Yeah. Those hands drop back to Peter's side right fast.

It's probably good that he wears a mask. Because his poker face is not the very best. He barely manages to keep the flush from his cheeks, but a little heat is definitely climbing up his neck.

"Ummm, very nice to meet you Captain Stacy, sir."

That probably could have gone better.
Ghost Spider has posed:
It's funny. If you Google 'Doting Father,' mostly what comes up are pictures of Captain George Stacy. True story. So, maybe it's not surprising that he looks like he'd like to remove Peter's arms from his body as a shortcut to removing them from Gwen.

That would never change. Especially not for a man he didn't respect, and the only thing he knew about Peter in that moment was that he was late and handsy (yes, in Captain Stacy's mind, the absolute broadest possible definition of that word still applied).

"Peter Parker?" Captain Stacy's eyebrows go up, and in that moment, his opinion of Peter seems to shift. It's not world-on-its-axis shift, but he looked significantly less like he wanted to kill the poor boy. "The photographer?

"That's the one," Gwen adds hopefully, bumping Peter's shoulder with her own. "Dad reads the Bugle like it's a religion."

That pulls the big cop's eyes back to his daughter, narrowing. And for a /long/, awkward moment, there's silence between them. George Stacy knew his daughter better than anyone else on the planet. He /knew/ she was keeping secrets from him, even if he didn't know what they were -- not that he had any right to force her to tell him. It wasn't like she was a teenager, anymore.

Still, a whole, silent conversation seems to happen between the two of them in that space of time. Stacy's eyes narrow. Gwen's shift. His eyebrows lift. Hers demure towards the ground. For a moment, they both look a little upset, and then Stacy's eyes shift towards Peter and back, not really looking at him. Gwen shrugs.

'I mean... yeah.'
'More secrets?'
'I don't mean for there to be...'
'Why don't you trust me?'
'I'm a grown woman. I'm allowed privacy.'
'I hate when you won't talk to me...'
'There are things I can't talk to you about.'
'Like boys?'
'Have I ever?'

Her relationship with her father was a complicated one. She was at once desperate for his approval and supremely confident that she'd never get it if she was honest with him. She'd encountered him as Ghost Spider more than once, and it broke her heart. Every. Single. Time.

Clearing his throat finally, Captain Stacy finally looks back towards Peter and extends a large, friendly hand in greeting. "It's nice to meet you, too, Peter. You're a good photographer. Keep up what you're doing. The more we know about the menace, the more likely we are to catch him. I always said he'd do something like that, one day. It was only a matter of time. It's all about power and being above the law with these people in masks... him and all of the other spider-freaks that have popped up to terrorize this city."
Spider-Man has posed:
Of course Peter might know a thing or two about parental figures disapproving of costumed vigilantes.

Certainly in the early days his Aunt May was not exactly a big fan of Spider-Man. She read the Bugle, she shared J Jonah Jameson's opinions about his activities, about the potential threat that Spider-Man represented to the city. All the terrible things he did, all the terrible things he was capable of doing.

It was a little heartbreaking. Bad enough to hear it from strangers. But to have one of the people who meant the most in the world feel the same? Yeah, that's hard.

So Peter can definitely sympathize.

Of course somewhere along the line all of that shifted. May no longer bought everything Jameson had to sell. She no longer embraced the whole thing hook, line and sinker. At some point Spider-Man became misunderstood. Someone looking to help who was unfairly persecuted. Someone who deserved better.

Pete doesn't actually know if his Aunt May has somehow found out the truth about him, about how he spends so much of his time. Not for sure. He suspects maybe she does know. He should probably try to find out for sure at some point.

But for the moment it's just nice to have her on Team Spider-Man.

Maybe Gwen will be able to find that too someday with her own father.

A little of that relief floods back into Pete when she steps into save him once more, quickly pointing out that he works for the Bugle -- that he in fact takes all those photos of Spider-Man that feature so prominently on the front page more often then not.

She also manages to warn him at the same time that Captain Stacy is most definitely not a fan of his masked alter ego. Not if he is a voracious consumer of the Bugle and the line that they tend to peddle. So a little care and caution are probably still called for.

And he probably should most defintiely make sure to keep his hands to himself, no matter the circumstances. Falling on the ground really isn't all that bad.

He does watch the silent, unspoken conversation play out in front of him, and while he might not know the language that they share, he can make some educated guesses. Either way, that clearing of the throat seems to be a signal that it is done, and when Captain Stacy offers him his hand, Pete is quick to wipe his own on his jeans -- for some reason it is just a little sweaty all of the sudden -- before taking the other man's. "Thank you sir. I'll certainly do my best," he says.

He'll just try to ignore the fact that he more or less promised to try and provide information leading to the capture of himself and some of his closest friends. Maybe he had his fingers crossed on his other hand.
Ghost Spider has posed:
"Hey... Dad?" Gwen chimes up right after Peter's promise. "We were planning to walk around for a little bit..."

One more rescue. And one more time stepping between her father and who she really was, at least metaphorically.

Captain Stacy finally releases Peter's hand and nods, shifting his focus to Gwen. "Right, right. I should get back to the staging point. Be safe, honey. And don't be a stranger. I miss having you over for dinner. You kids have fun. It was good to meet you, Peter."

The reference to them being kids makes Gwen's lips twist into a little grin, but she says nothing about it. She should have been turning, grabbing Peter and dragging him away (at least metaphorically). Instead, she lingers for another moment.

"I love you, Dad."

Captain Stacy's smile softens again. "I love you, too, honey."

Then she's turning, just picking a direction, and walking like she expected Peter to keep up. Instead of taking his arm like she had at the banquet, she crossed her arms over her stomach like she was cold. It's not a hurried pace, but she doesn't look back, either.

They'd already lost more time than she'd anticipated. They'd have to hurry a little if they wanted to cover as much ground before the mayor's big speech. Plus, she had her thesis to work on, later. And there were all of those lab reports she needed to proof for work. She needed to call her agent, too, to see if she could get another modeling gig or two before next month. Plus, she needed to work on the new song the Mary Janes were practicing.

She had a lot on her plate -- and plenty of excuses to keep her mind from dwelling on anything deeper than a surface emotion.
Spider-Man has posed:
It's kinda getting to be a habit.

Not that he hasn't been there for her a time or two the past little bit. But it is definitely nice to have someone out there, watching his back. Protecting him.

Even if it is from her dad.

It is a little awkward to watch the two of them together. Like he is intruding on a private moment. Central Park is beyond crowded this particular afternoon, and the area around the fountain might be one of the very worst spots to find any semblance of privacy. But even still, it feels like he is intruding.

So as soon as Captain Stacy releases his head, Pete bobs his head. "Really nice to meet you too sir. Thank you," he hastens to say. Then he is just backing up, turning away, giving Gwen that moment with her father.

It's not much. But it is all he can do right there, right then.

He still spots her when she starts to move, not looking back, and quickly falls into a trot, dodging around a few people so he can fall in at her side once more. He doesn't say anything, not at first. Just gives her a few moments of quiet. To compose herself.

Finally however, he breaks that silence, nudging her gently in the shoulder. "Your dad's a little daunting. I thought I might be looking at ten to twenty there for a second," he says with a little forced levity.

But it doesn't last.

"I... I have some idea of how complicated these things can be Gwen. Especially since he clearly doesn't... much care for vigilantes," he says quietly. He might not have mentioned her alter ego specifically, but quite clearly all the spiders are lumped together in his eyes. She's lumped together with Spider-Man. Just another menace.

"I'm just... well, if you ever need to talk about it, I'm here. I know," he says quietly. "And if you need to take care of a few other things this afternoon, I've got this," he promises.
Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen glances over at that shoulder bump, grinning at him -- even if it is overshadowed by other thoughts, her eyes less bright, her posture more closed. Still, she was glad to have him there.

None of these thoughts were new. There'd been no great revelations during that conversation. Her father was still just her father... in all the ways that was good and bad. The fact that there was a whole part of her life that she couldn't tell him about created this bleeding wound in her chest.

She couldn't tell him about what it was like to fight The Scorpion, Electro, and The Lizard a few days earlier in the park. She couldn't tell him about leading Bebop and Rocksteady on a wild goose chase through New York. Worst of all, she couldn't tell him about Spider-Man and the fact that she finally had someone that really understood it.

Which is why the next words out of her mouth end up hurting her so much...

/I have some idea.../

"Yeah?" The word is carried on a haughty, condescending laugh that tries and fails to impersonate humor. Instead, it comes off as a little biting. "How many times has Aunt May had you at gunpoint?"

...because as soon as they're out of her mouth, she stops walking and reaches out to touch his arm.

"I didn't mean that." There's sincere apology in her voice and her eyes, the same he'd heard when she came to him right after Dr. Connors had been taken. "I'm sorry. That was thoughtless and insensitive. I know you do. I'm just..." She sighs softly.

"Where do you think we should start?"
Spider-Man has posed:
It is a good reminder.

She has kinda been a rock for him, the past little while. Always there with a smile, a cheerful pep talk, even just a kind word. He's said thanks to be sure. More then once. Even told her just how much of a difference it makes. No matter how bleak things have seemed, she as been that one thing that has seemed sure, certain. Quick with a smile, quick with a quip, quick to brighten his day.

So it is probably good -- or at least necessary -- to be reminded that they all have their issues. They all have those little vulnerable spots. They all have a certain amoung of pain to deal with.

After all she's done for him as of late, Peter really doesn't like seeing her in pain.

If anything, when anger twists her words some, when she lashes out, just a bit he doesn't rush to explain what he meant. His eyes just soften a little, ceasing that walk through the park to step in front of her for a moment, reaching out to lay a hand on her shoulder.

"I know you didn't," Pete assures her quickly. "And you're right. It's not quite the same. Lord knows there's all sorts of people who assume the worst about me. But it's not the same." It's not his dad. It's not Uncle Ben or Aunt May. Given a choice, he wishes that half the city -- maybe most of it at the moment -- didn't want to see him locked up. But his most important loved one doesn't hate who he is.

"Say no more. If you want to talk later, well, just know you can grab me anytime," Pete says gently.

Then he drops it.

Instead he looks around the park for a moment, finally motioning towards where the makeshift stage has been set up. "Lets begin there. We can spiral outward from there. If there's any threats nearby, any explosives hopefully it will trigger our spider-senses. Then I gotta figure we should keep an eye out for any likely sniper perchs. I can't imagine with this police presence he'll want to get close, not if he can help it."
Ghost Spider has posed:
/But it's not the same./

Gwen's throat tightens as she swallows, looking up the length of his arm to his shoulder, but she doesn't meet his eyes. She doesn't answer. She couldn't answer. If she tried to dismiss how deeply it hurt to think about her own father hating her so much he wanted to kill her, she'd break down. If she tried to make her own issues out to be worse than anyone else's, especially Peter's, she'd break down.

So, she says nothing.

Nothing, to the only person in the world she actually felt like she could open up to completely -- trust completely.

/...just know you can grab me anytime./

Gwen nods her assent, her eyes flicking briefly back to him but stopping short of meeting his gaze directly. Maybe... just maybe she would, yet. Just not today.

Peter's gesturing towards the stage where the local indie band is still playing their set, the speakers filling the area with music that, for a little while, Gwen had allowed to become background noise. Now that she was focusing a little more on the stage, some of those storm clouds seemed to part for her.

"Sounds like a plan. I can always fangirl over the band if they get upset at us being too close. And as long as they don't search our backpacks, we'll be fine," she muses, some of her old humor returning to her voice as she starts towards the stage. "I still don't get the sniper rifle, though. If you're trying to frame Spider-Man, it seems like there less ridiculous ways to do it. As if the real Spider-Man would need a sniper rifle. It just... doesn't make any sense to me."
Spider-Man has posed:
At least they have somewhere to begin.

There is hardly any guarantee that anything is going to happen today. The police pressence is pretty overwhelming and even with a distance attempt, the odds of getting away scott free are not great.

Though it almost surely helps being able to change your identity at will.

And if they weren't here and something happened, even though it wouldn't make an ounce of sense, Peter would still invariably feel horribly guilty about the matter. No, if he can somehow bring this to a close with no one else getting hurt -- hopefully including him, Gwen and everyone else involved in this mess -- he has to do what can. No matter how unlikely.

"None of it really makes sense if you ask me," Peter says with a quiet sigh. "We live in a world where there is magic that can make you look different. There are alien shapechangers. There are mutant shapechangers. I have a known enemy that can look like anyone he wants. You would think with all of the good things I've done, that might by me the benefit of the doubt, right? That maybe someone would point to all those things and ask, hey, does it make sense that Spider-Man is trying to kill the Mayor? With a rifle?" he says quietly, actually letting a little humor creep into his words there at the end.

But nope.

He picks his way towards the stage, though it definitely starts to get trickier the nearer they get. The band might not be a huge name, but they clearly have enough fans or at least enough people who want to crowd close to the stage to make it tougher to squeeze through.

And while it might change at any moment, not a hint of his spider-sense goes off. Which Peter hopes means that there are no bombs planted.

Of course the NYPD has bomb-sniffing dogs and they have almost certainly been used extensively while all of this was being set up, this morning before the flood of people arrived. That makes the scenario unlikely. But it's worth checking.

So far so good.
Ghost Spider has posed:
Spider-sense is... weirdly random, but only if think of it as a mental thing instead of a physical thing. You couldn't always smell something specific, even if you're right on top of it. You couldn't always find what you were looking for, even if you were looking straight at it (otherwise, people wouldn't spend so much time staring helplessly into the fridge). So, Spider-Sense wasn't a guarantee of anything, but it was another tool in the toolbox (and one that Gwen was happy to leverage for a good cause).

"I know we're not the only people in the world that are blamed for everything just because we exist." There are hate groups for just about anything you can think of. There's probably a hate group hate group. Some people have WAY too much time on their hands. "But this is /weirdly/ personal. It's like whoever is framing you isn't even trying to hurt you. They just want to make you feel bad... even more isolated."

She's having to raise her voice to carry over the music and the screaming crowd, letting Peter go first but sticking close in his wake. If she left more than the width of a person between them, someone tried to stick themselves into it and cut her off. So, she spent some amount of time clinging to his backpack and leaning closer to his ear so her voice could carry.

"Worst supervillain ever."
Spider-Man has posed:
It is definitely great having a built in danger detector.

But sometimes it would be nice if it was a little more controllable. A little less random. And while it might be like having eyes in the back of your head most of the time, it's not like it is infallable.

There are very few guarantees in life afterall. Why should spider powers be any different? Still... it would be nice.

All things considered, having it is certainly better then not having it so Peter is not going to complain. Especially if it comes in handy here. Anything that might get to the bottom of all of this, that might help him clear his name is more then welcome right about now.

"Maybe not," Peter agrees. It's a fair point. Whenever you get more then one person in the same place chances are a little hatred is going to rear it's head after a moment. Still, when she mentions that the whole thing feels a little personal, Pete actually stops for a moment, despite the crowd that mills all around them. "You're right. It does feel a little personal," he agrees, a small frown touching his features for just a moment. "Maybe it is personal," he says, just loud enough to be heard.

Then he is moving again, as best he can through the crowd. Ahhhh, life in New York. Crowds are definitely not an irregular thing, though days like this, events like this, they seem a little much even to a hardened city-goes like Peter Parker. It would be so much easier to take to the air, to complete this whole thing by great swinging sweeps.

For about thirty seconds maybe. Then the gunfire would probably start, the panic, the people running and screaming.

Yeah, probably best to just endure. Soldier on.

Still, as they are nearly seperated again by people a little more willing to push their way through, Pete gives a little sigh, leaning over towards Gwen. "Maybe the most annoying at least."

And not a ping so far.
Ghost Spider has posed:
When Peter stops, Gwen presses possessively closer to his arm. The crowd was thick this close to the stage, and any sign of weakness or not being part of a herd was immediately seized as a vacancy. So, she made it clear that Peter was her herd. Plus, it gave her both the opportunity to check for anything he'd seen (in case she missed something), and hear him a little easier.

"Or it's just some guy in really good cosplay. You don't exactly /have/ to be a shape-shifter if you've got a sewing machine.. and a gym membership."

Did she just call Peter buff?

And yes, the whole 'personal' thing had been her suggestion, but she couldn't disregard the fact that there might not be a point at all. No motive. Not /against/ Peter, anyway.

"Maybe he reads the Bugle and thinks it's a tribute."

There were a /lot/ of possibilities.

Then Peter's moving again and she's moving along with him. Or trying to. It's all shoulder-to-shoulder, jumping, and screaming. She might not have been thinking about taking to the air, but she was longing for the comfort of being on the stage itself, behind her drum kit, working out all of her frustration through her drumsticks instead of being in the thick of the crowd.

"Excus...!" Someone shouldered between them, forcing her to take a step back and then work to catch back up, and she glanced over at his annoying comment, sighing, too and smiling thinly. "Yeah."
Spider-Man has posed:
When you get right down to it the possibilities are nearly endless, aren't they?

In fairness, he never got a great look at the would-be assassin. Between dealing with the horde of angry people in the crowd brough down on him by Jessica claiming he was fat shaming her -- which he was not! -- and the explosion at the cheeseburger kiosk he can't really be sure that it was Chameleon. It makes sense. It fits the description, the modus operandi. But he doesn't actually know.

As their progress comes to a near standstill, and Gwen points out some of the alternatives, Pete shoots a wry glance her way. "I don't know if those would be better or worse," he admits. "I mean, I wouldn't really know where to start looking and the last thing I need is a bunch of imitators dressed up in Spider-Suits causing trouble. I'm perfectly capable of getting into all sorts of trouble all on my own, thank you very much," he says drily.

"On the other hand that would at least mean that we aren't dealing with a pro. Maybe that's why he missed his shot," Pete muses before shaking his head. "I don't know, after Scorpion and Electro the other night, everything's starting to feel a little... coordinated, you know?" he says.

As they creep a little closer to the stage, as the crowd grows a little more exuberant, Peter abruptly finds himself seperated from Gwen, the surging crowd, people bouncing up and down and it takes a little bit to resist pushing his way back to her, reaching for her hand.

"Eeeesh. What you think? Close enough? Are you getting anything?" he asks, the dubious tone in his voice suggesting that he certainly is not.
Ghost Spider has posed:
/...everything's starting to feel a little... coordinated, you know?/

"Speaking of! What--"

The fact that she couldn't carry on a conversation with Peter was driving her crazy. It was starting to show in the frustration in her eyes. Granted, they picked one of the absolute worst places in the entire world to try to talk, but the volume of the music wouldn't be so bad if the people weren't separating them!

"Close enough," she shouts across the people, shaking her head in the negative about noticing anything -- either with her Spider-Senses or otherwise. But then she made a little gesture at all of the people. Their Spider-Sense was a lot more sensitive to danger than any of their other senses, but in some ways, she felt like she had all of her senses tied behind her back. She could barely hear. It was hard to see through the people. Everyone smelled. And she kept losing Peter to people cutting them off.

He might have been able to resist, but Gwen couldn't. They'd pushed their way nearly across the front of the stage, and now they were going to have to get back out again. Pushing her way back through the jumping bodies (and doing her best to ignore both how she got jostled and the general /smell/ of the crowd, most of whom needed a shower), she stretched her hand out to him. She wasn't even all the way through. It was like she was asking for a lifeline.
Spider-Man has posed:
See? This is definitely one of the reasons he loves web-swinging.

If he ever needed a little reminder that there are a few good things about being Spider-Man, well, at least today helps to provide that. It is one heck of a way to beat the crowds, to beat the traffic, both of which can be ridiculously bad in Manhatten at times.

What he would like most, right about now, is to escape all of this -- the loud thumping music, the press of bodies, all the distractions out there -- and find a nice, quiet rooftop. Feel the breeze that only comes from being higher up, above the rest of the city. Maybe be able to talk without feeling like he's screaming.

Eeesh, maybe he's getting a bit old. Then again, this has never exactly been his thing.

It does require a certain care. In his case simply pushing people aside wouldn't just be rude. It would be downright dangerous. Sometimes it does take a measure of case, being stronger then the vast majority of people. Losing his temper, pitching a fit just isn't something he can really afford.

But this is definitely getting a little frustrating. It is definitely not just Gwen that feels it. There's a spot of annoyance on Pete's expression too and each time he reach for her someone seems to emerge right in front of him, the music somehow seeming louder.

Finally he just ducks a little lower, draws in on himself and starts to shoulder his way past the dense crowd, careful enough not to hurt anyone but not worried about jostling them either.

Even then it isn't exactly easy to make his way back to her, to spot that hand reaching out. Stretching out himself, his fingers just graze hers before he pitches forward a little more, grabbing hold and virtually hauling himself over to her, sending a couple of people sprawling in the process.

Though at least everyone is so tightly packed that there is hardly anywhere to go.

Either way, Pete clusters close. "Geez. Okay, I think we've done what we can to confirm that the stage is safe. I think it's time we look elsewhere. Before I just start hurling people aside," he manages, leaning in close to her ear to be heard.

Definitely time to move on.
Ghost Spider has posed:

These crowds moved like ocean currents. Once you were swept up into it, it could carry you away or separate you in only a few seconds, and Gwen was already having a hard time seeing him through the mass of bodies.

It only takes a few seconds for them to close that gap, but it feels like an eternity. There was a part of Gwen that actually did enjoy these crowds, but she very much preferred to be in front of them than in the middle of them. Even still, with the right group of friends, she could lose herself in the music like these people were doing. She could let go and just have fun.

But she wasn't here to have fun. She was here to work. The fact that she was having any fun at all was mostly a side effect of Peter being with her, and she kept losing him...

...until she didn't.

It had been a joint effort to close that gap, and when her fingers closed around his, there was an urgency about it. She didn't want to let go. She pulled at the same time he did, and they closed that gap together until she was at his front, her free hand raising to his chest to arrest the momentum...

...until it wasn't /just/ to arrest the momentum.

When he leaned in to her ear, she could have sworn her heart stopped beating. She didn't dare even breath. She could feel the brush of his cheek against her hair, his chest under her hand, his fingers wrapped around hers. The pulse of the music, bass from the giant speakers thrumming where her heartbeat should have been.

Silence. Stillness. /Almost/ long enough for him to ask if she heard him as she forcefully dragged her focus away from him, dropping the hand from his chest and nodding.

And then, "...Yeah."

No pithy remark or additional commentary. Then she takes the lead, squeezing his hand and dragging him along with her towards the closest edge of the crowd. She tucks that connection close against her backpack, high enough for anyone they pass to see the 'chain' between them.
Spider-Man has posed:
it's a little bit silly, isn't it?

It is not as if they are in a truly tense or dangerous situation. Oh, crowds can be dangerous enough it's true. A panic, in the middle of a crowd can be deadly, admittedly. But nothing is amiss so far today. It's just a bunch of people, enjoying the music, letting the rhythm infuse them as they just *move*.

It's never been Peter's thing, but he can see the appeal with the right people.

No, instead he's a little anxious about finding Gwen again, reaching her. They're frickin' Spiders. They were just in this park, facing down Scorpion, Electro and the Lizard at the same time. Now that's dangerous.

So why is there such a sense of relief when Pete feel's her hand slip into his own? When they're able to wedge their way through that jostling crowd that inadvertantly tries to seperate them once more?

WSilly right?

Peter does seem on the verge of repeating that question, the blare of music, the noise of the crowd definitely making it feel like it could have been lost. Though he's not exactly sure how he could press all that much closer to be over heard. But then she offers up that reply and he's quick to nod, moving with her once more through that press of bodies.

It is at least a little easier to move away from the stage then try to get to it. People are a little more willing to give way when they might be able to slip into your spot. The sheer wall of music lessens a little, the press of other people gives way to something a little more comfortable and yes, the scent of the unwashed mercifully lessens.

Peter doesn't let go of Gwen's hand though.

"I don't really see many likely perches that a sniper could use nearby. And the ones that I do already seem to have a police presence around them," he says, craning his neck as he tries to take in their nearby surroundings all at once.
Ghost Spider has posed:
Breathe, Gwen.

It helped, having Peter behind her, even if she could still feel his hand. She couldn't feel the way he pressed against her. She couldn't feel his heartbeat through his shirt and the costume underneath. She couldn't smell him. Lost in a desert of body odor, he'd been an oasis for that moment. Intoxicating.

She knew better than to fall for Peter Parker, but in that moment, cutting through the crowd like a knife, marching for the perimeter of it, she couldn't come up with a single reason why not. He was smart, funny, handsome, charismatic, trustworthy, kind, understanding, smart (due to be listed twice because, let's face it, he's a literal genius), and.... single. Even if she were literally designing a guy in a computer, she could do a /lot/ worse than Peter Parker.

So... why, then? Why was she practically running through the crowd like she was running away from him? Why was she /so/ scared that he might realize she was falling for him?

Because, for the first time in her life, someone understood. For the first time, she had someone that she could just be herself around all the time and not feel ANY amount of guilt. If she screwed that up -- if she pushed too hard and drove him away, forced him back into his own isolation -- she would never forgive herself.

When they do finally emerge from the thick of it, there's part of her that just wanted to run. Peter's sure to be able to feel it radiating from her... a sort of surge like a wild horse being freed from a stable. She wanted to flat-out sprint, to shoot out a web line, and go swinging so fast her arms ached. She could feel her pulse even in her wrists, still pounding.

She could also still feel his hand in hers, and she wasn't letting go, either.

"I think we may be down to just... waiting."

They couldn't be everywhere at once. They couldn't check every corner and crevice. The police were already more places than they could ever hope to be. At some point, the best place they could be was central to everything and ready.


Blue eyes cut over towards one of the food trucks. There's a line, but come on.. it's fried dough covered in sugar.
Spider-Man has posed:
It has been a disasterous few weeks by most reasonable measures.

He is wanted by the police. The person most likely responsible for the Mayor's attempted assassination can look like anyone, but is choosing to look like his costumed alter ego, at least when it's time to shoot people. His enemies seem to be on a rampage through the city and they've only managed to capture one of them, only lock one of them away. One of his friends has turned into a giant lizard and has now been carried off by parties unknown -- though again, the evidence does not point in a very comfortable direction at all. He's just inches from being broke and his job involves helping make himself look bad.

Things could definitely be worse, but it would surely take some effort.

And yet, here he is, feeling better then he has in quite sometime. Just because he's holding her hand.

Yeah, it makes no sense. And yet it does too. It's not hard to see the appeal. Pete's not blind, not stupid, if occasionally a little dense or distracted. She's brilliant and funny. She's been there for him when he has needed a friend badly, keeping him from sinking into that little spiral of despair that would be all too easy to give into.

More then that, Gwen understands. Understands what it means to have these powers. To need to do something good with them. She has to deal with that instinctive distrust that they just seem to inspire in some people. Too many people. Knows how hard it is to juggle every responsibility -- no matter how easy she makes it look.

Of course she's also jsut flat out cool and has a ton going for her.

Still, it's awfully nice just holding her hand.

Peter definitely feels that same urge to just start running, to throw off those shackles of gravity and take to the air. To just get away from him it all and if doesn't quite have that luxury, well, it's still a nice thought and as they finally open up a little space from the crowd he can't help but flash a grin her way.

Patience doesn't always come easy. But sometimes there is nothing else to do but wait. For the moment though even that doesn't seem enough to discourage Peter. "Are you kidding? Lets do it," he says at once.

Waiting for an elusive assassin to show themselves? Getting a little tedious. Waiting for some fried dough and sugar? Totally worth it.
Ghost Spider has posed:
There comes a moment when you have to stop pretending you don't realize you're making a conscious decision to do something... and just own it. The trip to the Churro Truck is that moment.

Up until that point, it might have been plausible that she'd been so distracted by the crowd that she'd forgotten or that she was still so worried about him being pulled away from her again by the masses that she was afraid to let go. But they weren't within the masses, anymore, and the moment she took the next step, both of them would be reminded by that little tug.

...As if she'd even for a moment not been acutely aware of every little shift, the way his fingers curled around hers, the warmth, the unfamiliar texture of his skin. It was so innocent -- so... juvenile -- the way it made her heart race.

/Are you kidding? Lets do it./

Gwen smiles, eyes glowing up at him. He wasn't letting go, either, so she interlaced her fingers with his, slender digits curling around to his knuckles as her palm flattens against his. If it was a choice between owning it or letting go, for her, it was an easy one.

They're already walking, Gwen keeping to his side rather than tugging him along behind her this time, when she seems to remember -- "Oh!"

There's still a certain amount of weaving through the people, but their connected hands and the brush of her shoulder against his arm keeps anyone from eyeballing the space between them as a possible thoroughfare like they might have before. Even still, there's a /lot/ of movement, but as they walk up to the line, there's at least some semblance of privacy in their conversation... if for no other reason than all of the rest of the ambient noise.

"Earlier, I was trying to ask you... what do you think is going on with those gliders? First Rhino, as far as I know, and then your friend the doctor and Electro. It's the Green Goblin, right? The pumpkin bombs? What's he /doing?/"
Spider-Man has posed:
The park is still very much alive with activity.

Given that there has been a reasonable amount of craziness around the park as of late, it is almost nice to see the fact that the city isn't hiding. Despite the incidents with the Lizard, with the Scorpion and Electro, despite the attempted assassination of the mayor the residents of the city have piled out to enjoy the warm, sunny afternoon, to take in some music to enjoy being out and about.

And while things might be nowhere near as crazy as they were down by the stage proper, it's not like the crowd has emptied out. Out, away from the main stage there are a host of food trucks and vendors with smaller carts gathered wherever there is space available. And they are definitely doing some brisk business this afternoon. Though the churro truck is definitely one of the more popular spots it would seem/

Still, they don't really half to latch on to one another to avoid being seperated any longer. They don't really need to walk hand in hand through the park. So that pretty much means that they just want to, right?

Peter doesn't really think about it. That the rationale for holding on, for sticking so close is pretty much gone. That he probably should let her hand go. Then he feels her fingers slip through his own and that brief moment of tension releases all at once.

The grin that crosses his face is sudden, unexpected and involuntary and for just a moment he glances her way without a care of what might show there on his expression.

As they near the line for that truck, even the mention of the glider doesn't really seem to dampen that sudden exuberance. "Right? It almost has to be Gobby," he agrees lowly, glad not to have to shout jsut to be heard anymore. Even if it does take the excuse to lean that little bit closer. "I could see him being behind all of this. He has the resources, he definitely has the hatred to make it personal. It would explain a lot," he admits.
Ghost Spider has posed:
That /look/. When her fingers curl through his and Peter gives her that look, it's almost enough to make her whole body glow from the inside out. It sends a tinge of pink up into her cheeks and has her staring up at him just a few seconds too long. With a tickle of her Spider-Sense, she suddenly tucks into Peter's side, and a little laugh escapes as she almost walks into a kid on roller blades. Or maybe he almost ran over her. Either way, she hadn't been paying attention -- not to where she was going, anyway.

"Sorry!" she calls, but the kid is long gone, having just narrowly avoided wiping out after just missing her. She's still laughing as she looks over her shoulder briefly to check on him and then back to where she's walking.

Then there's the line, and there are a dozen customers waiting their turn ahead of them. Some of them are couples, some are singles, one group is a family of four with two impatient kids tugging and climbing and running off and getting called back (but not listening). One of them is wearing a plastic Spider-Man mask, the other is wearing a plastic Iron Man mask, and they're obviously having great fun playing out who would win in a fight. It appears, if you watch them long enough, that Iron Man is edging out in front, but Spider-Man's hanging in there strong despite not being able to literally fly.

"So, we think it's personal. We think he's trying to either frame Spider-Man, discredit him, or just embarrass him. We think he's... what? Kidnapping bad guys? To do what with them? Release them all at once? They were sort of doing that on their own without his help, anyway."

The woman at the front of the line is handed her churro and a couple of napkins, and everyone in line takes a step forward.
Spider-Man has posed:
They may have escaped the worst of the crowds for now, but that doesn't mean that there aren't plenty of obstructions out there, just waiting to get in the way.

With the big police turn out, with the crowds and the general lack of easy mobility it seems increasingly unlikely that the assassin will show his face here. It seems to be mostly risk, and little reward though if Norman Osborne is truly involved in all of this somehow, well, all bets could easily be off. It's hard to put anything past him.

Still, the original reason for turning out here at the park seems to have taken something of a back seat. And while that might mean that they are not going to be clearing Peter's name anytime today, that doesn't seem quite as big a deal as it might have just minutes ago.

Funny, how small a thing -- just holding hands -- can change one's perspective on the day quite so dramatically.

Unsurprisingly, Peter isn't paying as close attention to his surroundings as he probably should be either, and he doesn't notice the rollerblader until the last moment either. Fortunately though, there is no collision and the teen hardly even slows as he skates through the crowd.

"See?" Peter says with a smile. "I'm not the only one who apologizes when it's not really my fault," he points out lightly before slipping into that line, hardly noticing the wait ahead.

A quiet sigh slips from Peter, and he chews at his bottom lip for just a moment in thought. "I mean, it all makes sense, right? If it really is Osborne. It makes sense that it's him, but he has been pretty conspicuous in his absence both times that glider has made an appearance," he notes thoughtfully. "And I certainly wouldn't put anything past him. He could be looking at it as a chance to frame Spidey, he could just be messing with him," he admits. It's a little odd, talking about himself in the 3rd person. But it's a whole lot safer, just in case anyone does pay a little too much attention to their conversation.

His attention is diverted, at least momentarily by the children playing nearby, lips quirking upwards ever so slightly. "Well, at least not everyone is convinced Spider-Man is a bad guy. Even if he can't take on Iron May," Pete says wryly.
Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen rolls her eyes. It might have been at least partially her fault, but it wasn't like she could really argue. What was she going to say? /I was too busy staring at you to watch where I was going/? So, instead, she takes a different tack.

"Laugh it up, Fuzzball."

See? Peter wasn't the only one with Star Wars references.

She's listening to him after that, though, pursing her lips, and as the line inches forward, Gwen's fingers tighten just slightly around his. "Maybe it's not about Spider-Man at all," she muses, glancing over at the children playing their superheroes game. "I mean, maybe it's not about Spider-Man but about what he represents. If Osborne is behind this, maybe it's more about tainting the idea of a hero than just framing Spider-Man. Think about it, Pete. If people start doubting their heroes, who do they turn to? They'd look for stability, even if it means aligning with someone they know is shady. It's about control."

Gwen falls silent for a moment as Iron Man raises a hand, palm open, but Spidey deftly spins out of the way of the blast, landing in his classic couch pose and shooting webs from his wrist.

"I don't know," she comments quietly. "My money's on Spider-Man." Then her eyes lift, a grin tugging at her lips. "Every single time."

Another step closer in line, and behind them several more people have gathered. One of them is a plain clothes officer with a donut belly apparently on break, but he's got his radio clipped to his belt. It crackles to life.

"...All units, all units, be advised, major disturbance reported in Lower Manhattan, vicinity of Wall Street. Multiple reports of large-scale property damage and potential superhuman involvement. Immediate response requested, but be advised traffic and event congestion may affect response times."

The officer behind them stiffens, his face darkening with concern. He reaches for his radio, pressing the communication button. "This is Officer Martinez, I'm currently at the Unity Fest in Central Park. Be aware, many units are tied up here, including myself. What's the ETA for backup?"

A voice crackles back, sounding urgent, "Any available units need to divert immediately. We're stretched thin. All assistance is critical."

Gwen feels her heart rate quicken, and she squeezes Peter's hand tightly, looking up at him. "Do you think that's related?" she whispers, her gaze shifting the guy in plain clothes begins relaying instructions to other nearby officers.
Spider-Man has posed:
As far as comebacks go, it's a pretty darn good one.

At least Peter certainly seems to think so, eyes dancing in amusement for just a moment. Timely and topical, and really pretty well deserved at that. "And she quotes Star Wars. Nice," he says with a low laugh. Definitely a few bonus points given out for that particular one it seems.

The possibilities that she raises might dim that smile a little, drawing out a little more of that thoughtful side for the moment and Peter gives a slow nod. "Entirely possible. Who knows exactly how that mind of his works," he admits. He doesn't even pretend to understand the criminal mind. There might be some in their circles that excel at figuring out why these people do what they do. Put that knowledge to use hunting them down, figuring out how to stop them.

Peter just doesn't get them. He doesn't understand what can take a brilliant mind like Otto Octavius or Norman Osborne and twist them so much up inside that they are capable of what they do. It might be something of a weakness.

Maybe it's a self-defense method. Sometimes you just can't really afford to stare into the abyss, no matter the perceived benefits of truly understanding that darkness.

"I wouldn't put it past him," Pete admits with a sigh. "It's the kind of thing his mind would cook up, isn't it? I'd just make a convenient, introductory target given that more people already distrust me then most of the other hero-types," he admits.

They are pretty gloomy thoughts really, but even they can't completely snuff out the good vibe of the day and once more Peter falls Gwen's gaze back to those kids as they play, having found their own means of coping with the wait. "Uh huh," he says, smile creeping back over his features. "You might be a little biased though," he points out.

But those fingers do tighten around hers, do give her hand that little squeeze. He doesn't really need people to think he's the better hero then Iron Man.

But it is unfathomly nice to hear Gwen say it.

As they creep a little closer to finally obtaining that sweet treat, as that radio crackles to life behind them, Pete can't help but tilt his head slightly, listen in to try and catch a hint of what's being said. Clearly she's doing the same and as that report comes in, Pete's eyes lock on Gwen's for a moment.

"I mean, there's no way to know for sure. But it's not hard to imagine someone wanting to take advantage of the situation," he agrees lowly. "I guess it comes down to whether someone's making problems down there because they know there's a lack of a police presence. Or if they are doing it to try and draw the police presence away from here."

It isn't an easy call. Ignore a potentially explosive situation in lower Manhatten to safeguard the Mayor from a possible threat. Or potentially leave the man unprotected with an assassin on the lose to go help with the known threat.

These are the moments when it isn't all that comfortable being a Spider.
Ghost Spider has posed:
/You might be a little biased though./


Though Gwen's eyes do dip down to take her first blatant look at their connected hands.

"/Maybe/. Like... a little. But I have good reason to be. Spider-Man's awesome."

..."Spider-Man's awesome!" echoes the voice of the little kid playing Spidey, who had obviously overheard at least that part of the conversation.

Gwen smiles. "See?"

Then there's all the radio chatter. The movement of police units. Not all of them. Not by a long shot. But some, to be sure.

They could split up, but the thought dies before it ever comes out of Gwen's mouth. /If/ they split up, it didn't make any sense for him to stay at the park and risk being vulnerable as Spider-Man by himself with all the cops around. That meant she would stay to 'protect the Mayor' and send him to go deal with God knows what by himself.


"Honestly," Gwen says, leaning in closer, her voice barely above a whisper, "It's all about playing the odds. There's an active situation downtown and a potential threat here. We can't guarantee the Mayor's safety, but there are officers all around. Down there? Who knows what's going on. I vote we go."

Another person leaves the line. They're next. Do they get the churros? Do they not get the churros? Or do they get the churros to go? These are the more important questions, anyway.

"...I'll give you my card and you get the churros while I change?" There's a hopeful little lift of her eyebrows and a quirk of a grin. She was in a mini-skirt. It was going to take her a minute. Yes, she could have made more practical fashion choices, but then they wouldn't have been fashion choices. They would have been practical choices.
Spider-Man has posed:
Hey, he's not about to complain about the fact that she might be a little biased.

Even with the likely threat going on downtown, just the possibility of her being a little biased just might be the high point of Peter's day. Probably even his week. Go for broke, probably his month. Heck, even his year.

Despite the fact that they might be swinging into danger in just minutes, it's a little difficult not to be just a little giddy right now, though he does his best not to let any more of it out then the grin on his face. At her words -- swiftly echoed by the nearby kid in the Spider-Man mask -- that smile grows just a little more, fingers curling a little tighter, giving her hand another little squeeze. "You almost make me a believer," he admits.

One of the many effects she has on him.

Like her, he is definitely not wild about the idea of splitting up. It might be practical, might allow them to cover both eventualities, but it doesn't feel right. His line of thought seems to echo her own and Pete gives a little nod as she leans in to offer her line of thinking on the subject. "Agreed. Something bad *could* happen here. Something bad *is* happening there. It's not really a choice in his mind.

"We got to go," Peter agrees lowly, sneaking a quick peek at the plain clothes officer who stands just behind them, not showing them the least bit of interest as he listens in to that radio. But then at the moment, they look like so many other couples out and about, enjoying the sun, the park, the day.

How weird is that?

"We can get there faster then any reinforcements can," Peter says with a thoughtful nod. Though it does seem a shame to give up their spot in line. It hasn't been an intermidable wait, but they're so close. So when Gwen makes her suggestion, Peter glances down for just a moment and purses his lips before smiling once more. "Sounds good. I can pick them up though. I got a few photos on the way in that I'm pretty sure Jonah will pick up. And chances are there will be more in a few minutes that he'll be even more eager for," he says drily. No doubt showing Spider-Man in the worst possible light. "I'll meet you by the stand of trees over by the nearest entrance," he offers.

Hurray for simple, men's fashion, or at least the lowest common denominator of it. He can just slip out of his shirt and pants and slip on his mask, and mission completed.

Just as well. He probably couldn't pull off a mini-skirt. He seems to like it on her though.
Ghost Spider has posed:
Gwen squeezes his hand back, eyes dancing with humor. "You thought love was only true in fairy tales?"

It's a quip. Honest. The lyrics are out of Gwen's mouth before she even processes them. But COME ON. It's the Monkees!! If you're a Spider worth their salt, how do you pass up on a softball setup like that??

You don't. Not even if it seems to be leaving your mouth in slow-motion at the end and makes you completely red-faced because the unfortunately timed SERIOUS context of that question hits /way/ too close to home. You'd been worried about making things a little awkward, Gwen, but way to shoot for the moon.

He'd get it, right? Instead of like.. completely freaking out? He was Peter. He basically invented this whole quippy trope thing.


"Sorry," she blurts out in a nervous laugh, which is technically not a retraction of either implication as much as she is sorry if she made things awkward. Which probably isn't clear. Which also meant that she was just digging herself deeper.

Churros. Focus on churros. Peter's buying. That makes her ears turn pink. Why? Probably because her cheeks couldn't get any redder.


Does she do what she wants to do? Go for it, Gwen. You couldn't /possibly/ make things any worse. So, just before she releases is hand, she uses it to pull herself a little closer, stretches up on tip-toe, and places a quick, chaste kiss on his cheek.

She smiles the briefest of smiles, and then she's gone, finally releasing his hand and looking around for the fastest private place to change. A rooftop would have been ideal, but those were crawling with cops.

Of course, just when she thought things couldn't get any worse, she sees her father hurrying away. He hadn't seen her. Or had he? Was he... keeping an eye on them? Or did he just happen to be passing by? /That/ was going to be a conversation for later, to be sure.

Regardless, he was here, and if she and Peter could handle whatever was going on across town quickly, she could keep him from being /there/... and threatening to kill her. Again. That /really/ got old.

Alright.. where to change? Where to change?

She slips between a few of the food trucks to a little tent that had been sit up to protect supplies for the workers and pulls the flaps closed. Less than a minute later (it was a lot of changing, but she'd gotten fast at it), it's Ghost Spider emerging, hood pulled up, arm stretched up towards a concrete wall as she *THWIPS* up onto it, running along its length.

"Hey, it's Ghost Spider!" a few people yell.

"THANK YOU FOR GETTING IT RIGHT," she yells back, blowing a kiss over her mask and then casting another line up into a building across the street with a *THWIP* so she can watch for Peter.

Also, if asked, Gwen would say that Peter /definitely/ has the legs for a mini-skirt. She's just not sure if he could sit through the waxing. Wink.
Spider-Man has posed:
Open mouth, insert foot?

If anyone can appreciate just how easy it is to make a situation a little uncomfortable with a quip that could be taken in a couple of different ways, it would definitely be Peter. When he puts on that mask his mouth can definitely run a little wild and he really doesn't always now just what's going to come out of it.

Just like his physical reflexes have been enhanced, it sometimes feel like his mental ones have been as well. At least when it comes to offering a snappy retort. They just flow sometimes, mouth acting without the brain's consent.

It's not a whole lot better out of the mask sometimes though. He's come a long way since high school, but there's clearly a few self-image issues lingering. He doesn't always see himself as others see him.

Like Gwen.

While the tips of his ears might flame a little, the grin on Pete's face only grows a little. "Again. And with the music quote this time now. Well played. You're killing me here Stacy." Peter retorts lightly.

When she instinctively apologizes, he gives her hand another little squeeze, shaking his head once more. He gets it. He would do the *exact* same thing if he was on the other end of something like that slipping out. "Hey, you never have to be sorry for being the quickest quip in the room," he points out lightly. "Or the park as the case might be."

Now that they absolutely have to seperate, at least for a few minutes, not that it is time to slip into their costumes and go and do what they do, put their life on the line to help people who might need it, Pete finds that he really doesn't want to let go of Gwen's hand. It is a surprising effort. But you know what helps?

When she kisses his cheek.

Even with everything else going on today, it seems to take him by surprise, eyes widening ever so slightly and when she slips away almost at once he raises his newly freed hand up to his cheek, just staring after her with a faintly bemused expression on his features.

He might continue to go right on doing that as well, as least if the plainclothed officer behind him didn't clear his throat, forcing a smile away from his face. "Hey. You getting some churros there? Because if not you're holding up the line," he says with some feigned gruffness to his words.

It is enough to at least break Peter out of his reverie though and he shoots an apologetic glance to the man before quickly moving up to the truck's window to place his order. Moments later he too is walking away with a pair of sugary treats.

It's probably good that he misses Captain Stacy hurrying past at the far end of the square though. That might be enough to make him drop the churros. And that would be just a crying shame.

He moves pretty quickly when he has to, despite seeming perpetually late for, well, everything, and it doesn't take him long to find a quiet little dip in that stand of trees, out of sight from the path where he can quickly slip on his mask and remove that outer layer of clothes, tucking them away while juggling their well earned snack.

The he is airborne as well, a webline shot across the street to the building on the far side as he quickly gets some height.

Fingers are pointed his way too, names are called out -- not all of them complimentary.

But at the moment, Peter Parker, the Amazing Spider-Man, really couldn't care less.
Ghost Spider has posed:
Peter was ridiculously easy to exist with. Everything she'd been dwelling on since their fingers met that first time (and then didn't part until they absolutely had to)... it was all true. She could just be herself around him, even if that meant she was spontaneously awkward, seemingly without any consequences at all.

Gwen just wasn't used to that. There were /so/ many different versions of Gwen Stacy in the world -- from the model that attended fancy galas, so prim and proper, to the drummer that rocked out in abandoned warehouses-turned-clubs, to the scientist that was sometimes a mixture of the two with some Star Wars quotes thrown in. And let's not even talk about Ghost Spider.

But with Peter, there was only the one version, and the fact that he'd looked at her like that as she was leaving? That's what was propelling those extra flips as she soared up into darkened the alley across the street to wait. There, she clung to the wall, resting her back, feet, hands, and even the back of her head against it.

Sighing happily.

Whatever /this/ feeling was? She wanted more of it. Lots more of it.

She'd been keeping an eye on that meeting spot, though, and as soon as Peter swings across it, Ghost Spider is swinging out of hiding, flipping happily and rounding the corner so they can start heading in the direction of Lower Manhattan together.

Web-swinging in New York was a dicey prospect for any mere mortal. Thankfully, with all of help from the Spiderness, the strength, reaction time, agility and everything else she needed to be comfortable were second nature. She swings close to Peter, and though her expression is a little hard to read under the mask, her eyes still convey a lot. As does the warmth in her voice.

"Churro me!" she calls, apparently expecting him to toss it out so she can cross behind him catch it. Or at least snag it with a web. She had already pulled her mask up over her nose so she could begin eating as quickly as possible.. because cold churros are not as good as warm churros, and she needed the sugar boost for handling whatever it was they were about to swing into.