It's Complicated

Summary:
November 15, 2014: A walk home from school has two flames meeting up. It may or may not be on purpose.

Columbia University


Characters

NPCs

  • Thug

Mood Music:
[*<http://insert.video.or.music.link.here>]


Nightfall comes early to NYC this time of the year. With the days ever shortening, It's not a surprise to leave the confines of work and step into darkness. Of course, this is exacerbated if you've been in the lab for the last 16 hours recording the results of your latest experiments.

Gwen Stacy had been on auto-pilot since stepping out of the lab. She'd somehow made it to her office, grabbed her coat and her messenger back, and is now walking alone along the very dark Columbia campus.

Everything about her screams graduate student. Her hair has been tugged into a tight ponytail. Her blue jeans are tailored enough to be professional, but not so much that she could pass as a professor. And her peacoat combined with the red scarf around her neck looks more grown up than the bomber jackets worn by younger students.

The sound behind her is the first thing to attract her attention. The footsteps of someone else sliding against the pavement at the same pace is just enough cause for concern.

But Gwen knows things thanks to her police officer father. She peers over her shoulder and looks at the fellow that seems to be following her.

He's not too imposing, but larger than the diminutive Gwen. His dark hair falls about his head precariously but his eyes are concealed by equally dark sunglasses. In the already dark night. Not promising.

The blonde asks as lightly as she can manage, "Do you have the time?" She shoots him a ghost of a smile and her hand retreats into her jacket pocket to grasp the tube of pepper spray she's taken to keeping on her person.

The fellow's paces speed up and Gwen stops dead in her tracks and turns to look at him, her weapon-of-choice in hand.

Don't ask why the Amazing Spider-Man is near a college campus. He's certainly not a student here of any form or persuasion, if that's what you're thinking. No, the menacing wall-crawler is more apt to just be swinging past on a normal patrol session that may involve something akin to being in the right place at the right time.

~ Spider-Sense Tingling ~

Spider-Man's high above the campus, swinging on one of his web-lines when that amazing sense of his goes off. His head turns as he releases his grip and cannonballs through the air before planting his feet and hands against the side of the wall on the nearest building. His eyes focus through the lenses of his mask and he sighs. "… Gwen." That's right, he knows that blonde anywhere and he may have her Spider-Tracer'd. Who knows. If he does, it's definitely for her own safety. And his Spider-Sense does not like the look of this fellow that's all up in her personal space. That is not exactly a good sign. He pushes off the wall and shoots out a webline, swinging off.

"SMILE!"

Spider-Man's arrival is just in time and probably even a little bit before it is actually needed. But Spidey's more than happy to jump the gun when it comes time to protect Gwen. He's hanging on a web-line from above, upside down and probably smiling beneath that mask. And his voice goes from actual Spider-Man to Game Show Host Spider-Man in less than a half-second. "You're on Kiss My Fist! Spidey? Tell 'im how to play!"

Hoping his sudden arrival has startled the possible criminal in training, Spider-Man immediately launches out with a quick sucker punch to maybe knock this fool out or either for a loop or something. Either way, as long as Gwen doesn't have to deal with him, that's all the Spider seems to be worried about. Why else would he drop down, upside-down, in between the two! Protection!

The would-be criminal isn't deterred by Gwen's pepper spray, and he seems rather determined to get up close and personal with the blonde which is why when Spider-Man drops between him and his prey the fellow stumbles backwards at the sudden array of red and blue that enters his vision. The surprise, when combined with the game-show-host voice leaves the fellow a nearly easy hit for Spidey. The punch lands, and, when combined with his already-palpable surprise, has the fellow falling backwards.

Of course, behind him, Spider-Man may sense danger. The assailant isn't the only surprised by the sudden appearance of red and blue, and an already sensitive trigger finger pepper sprays the back of Spidey's head.

The good news is pepper spray does nothing to the back's of heads. The bad news is close unexpected targets can cause blow back.

The lighter-size pink pepper spray canister falls to the ground as does a certain blonde as her eyes begin to tear against her own self-defence efforts. Gwen's hands press against her eye lids as a myriad of expletives Aunt May probably doesn't know emit from the blonde woman's lips.

It's amongst this chaos that Gwen's would-be-attacker reaches downwards for the canister. Which he's decided will be his. And in the same chaos that he tries to tackle Spider-Man. Maybe he believes the Spider-Man menace stories rather than the heroics?

"Ewwwwwww. I can feel it on my neck! Get it off! Get it off!"

Whether Spider-Man is joking or serious, it doesn't really matter. His Spider-Sense has him looking at a few different things at once. And that's why he loves it so. He can already see the assailant taking a step to reach down for the canister. "Hey! No! Bad Criminal! No Biscuit!" His words punctuate a line of web firing off towards the canister to latch onto it and snatch it right back towards himself.

Not that he's still hanging there. He's already let go of the original web-line and as dropped down to the street. That canister is sailing at him, but he's focused on the assailant now. He can see the assailant aiming a tackle at him, so he leaps back up, firing a pair of web-lines at the criminal's shirt, grabbing onto them as he somersaults over the tackling body and lands on the other side. Pulling on the weblines the entire time, Spidey aims to yank this dude's shirt up and over his head, to blind him of course, as well as yank him backwards and away from Gwen!

Whether or not the assailant comes sailing back towards him, Spider-Man has a canister to catch and thus he leaps back towards Gwen, somersaulting over the criminal again, turning his back to him this time as he lands and holds out a hand, letting the canister slap right into it.

"Drop something, miss?"

The Criminal is at the mercy of webbing. His body wrangles into the sticky webs with a very loud very pronounced, "What the F — " but the rest is cut off as he's muffled by the now-dark that permeates his senses. His hands writhe around the shirt tugged over his face like a fish would writhe when drawn from the water. Without the ability to see, unlike Spider-Man, he is blind.

Blood shot, swollen blue eyes peer up towards Spider-Man and the canister that Gwen had so easily lost in her own surprise. Even with the tearing that so solidly irritates her peepers, Gwen Stacy's mouth curves into a near-smile, but pain prevents it from finding any footing on her countenance. "Th-thanks Spider-Man," she says quietly as her eyes clamp shut. "I need to get to the eyewash station in the lab…" Her crouched position on the ground turns to a stand, but her walk isn't even, focused, or remotely clear. Her formerly purposed paces have now become unfocused, curved, and altogether unclear.

"One sec. Some people are so rude."

Spider-Man turns away from the girl he's just saved for probably the hundredth time and he wanders over to the struggling criminal. He walks right up to him and reaches out to knock on his head. "Hey. Psst. You mind uh keeping it down over here? I'm trying to get my mack on and you're totally bustin' my groove, man." Spidey grabs him by the back of the shirt and lifts, tossing him into the air, before firing some webbing at him to hang him from the street light that's conveniently right there. There's always a convenient street light. "Thanks, man! You're the best! I'm gonna' name our first born son after you!" Spidey gives the criminal the snap point and turns back to hotter matters.

"So! Fine citizen!" Spidey is overplaying this because it is probably the best thing to do when they are in earshot of a criminal. "Before I hail you a cab to take you back to the safety of your home instead of letting you walk and wander through these dark streets by yourself, as if you should know better…" Spidey coughs and goes back into joke mode. "… my SUPERvisor is making us ask our rescuees to rate our rescues. Psh, bosses, am I right?" Spidey takes another step closer and he starts to sound more like Peter in this next moment. A Peter that misses her. So much.

"… how'd I do?"

There's a twitch of a smirk at being called a 'Fine citizen,' that only extends at the mention of the cab. "A gal sometimes has to walk," she observes warmly. "Besides, maybe she wanted to run into a friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man," the words are nearly a question, but their rhetoric is unmissable, leaving its full meaning unquestionable. Peter earns a soft smile, edged with the fondness the blonde carries for Spidey and his alter ego, even with the tearing that seems to plague her blue peepers.

Gwen easily falls into step with Spider-Man, and her lips twist to the side thoughtfully as if truly pondering his question. "Well, Spidey," because that's how Gwen rolls, "you can report to your ever concerned SUPERvisor this was the second best rescue I've had this week," she teases. "Of course, it could bounce up to number one if you walk a gal back to her office to properly get any traces of mace from her eyes…"

The glimmer of hope is unmistakable in her voice and nearly angelic expression. Take the invitation, Peter.

"You do realize that bribery will probably get you exactly what you want, right?" The Amazing Spider-Man cannot help himself when it comes to flirting. Even though he probably shouldn't be flirting with someone that is in dire need of some eye flushing and getting back home safely. He's only flirting because it is a little bit easier considering that he's kind of in love with this girl. Even if they aren't sharing the love right now. It's really hard not to pull up his mask and just kiss her. Really difficult.

"Lead the way." Spider-Man steps aside and overdramatically bows to allow Gwen to lead the way to wherever they are going to try and not have any interruptions. For whatever it is they are going to talk about… or do. Not that they would. Because, y'know, on-again, off-agai. Ahem. Peter! Focus! Insert a joke! "But if I see one can of Raid…"

"Is that your weakness then, Spider-Man? Raid? I wouldn't broadcast that if I was you," Gwen's tone is laced with much the same content. Despite the circumstances, the flirtation does earn Spider-Man a stitch of a smile, not convincing, but still present as the blonde leads them back towards the lab she's been working at for her own Masters research. The labyrinth of hallways in the university eventually lead them to the bottom floor, the dungeon (as the graduate students like to call it).

The lab is empty this time of night. Everyone has gone home after burning the midnight oil. Evidently no one is currently running night experiments.

Gwen strides towards the eye washing station at the front. The machine is essentially a dual water fountain. She bends forward and presses the button to flush any residual traces of mace form her eyes. As the cool water flushes over her blue peepers, she finds her voice again, "You made that look easy. Back there."

There are still those things called security cameras and Spider-Man is web-shotting each and every one of them as they wander through the Dungeon. When they get to the part where they can talk, he seems to drop the overhilarious ruse of being Spider-Man and speaks to Gwen in much a manner that is akin to her Peter Parker.

"Ah I uh— I was in the neighborhood." Spider-Man sounds a little bit nervous as he responds to this whole notion of him being able to take down criminals with ease. In a constant need to battle the possibility of getting an ego, he down plays the entire thing. "And when I'm in the neighborhood, it's supposed to be friendly." He won't dare to say he worked extra hard because it was her.

Gwen stops pressing the button to flow the water through the station and she backs up several paces before reaching for the paper towel int he dispenser alongside the lab bench. She daps her blue peepers lightly and she shoots Peter a small, nearly strained, smile. She watches him indecisively and takes a single step forward only to hesitate and stop.

"Peter," she breathes rather than speaks. Her arms draw around herself and she rubs her arms lightly like she's cold. "I — " she swallows hard and her gaze drops to the floor. She raises her chin and levels her gaze. Her weight shifts awkwardly from one foot to the other, "…hi."

It really is a good thing that his Spider-Sense isn't going off right now, because that means he's in the all clear to be himself. Granted, the school is going to have to deal with some web-caked camera lenses for a while but that's better than his secret getting out. He tilts his head slightly at Gwen, taking a hesitantly reluctant step backwards. He has to learn how to keep his distance. Even just a little bit. "Hi." comes the response as he works on rubbing the back of his neck, mask and all. Definitely one of his tells when it comes to nervousness. Let the awkward moment of exes still in love begin!

Gwen chews on her bottom lip and freezes in her tracks. She makes no motions forward, no efforts to close the distance, and no sudden movements. With a soft sigh, she finally takes another step forward, this time gauging the reaction from the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man and watching his feet. Her eyebrows draw together, her eyes move up to the mask, but she keeps chewing on that bottom lip — her own nervous tell. "Peter," she says again with all the weight the name requires. And then, finally, she whispers, "I missed you."

"Huh? Whaaaaaa?" Spider-Peter is attempting to try and play it as innocent as he possibly can. He's a little rusty with this and even takes to leaning awkwardly on the counter that he's standing next to. He can't even get cmofortable in that lean but he's trying. "Ha. Heh. You know I'm always around. All you have to do is look up." He knows that's not what she means but he's going for it anyway. And just because he changed his STAR Labs hours to the exact hours she is /not/ working is probably not helping his case either.

Gwen hmmms quietly and she draws her arms tighter over her chest. Her head cants to the side and she silently regards him and his not-excuses (because why would there need to be excuses over this?). There's no real easiness to be had among these two exes, not now, and probably not ever. "Dammit Peter," she mutters angrily before bounding towards him with the aim of tugging the mask over his lips and kissing him soundly. But the truth is, even now, she knows well enough that if he doesn't want this he can avoid it.

Like this is going to happen. Like Spider-Man is going to decidedly not allow the girl of his dreams to kiss him. He's trapped between a promise and a hard place and both things are definitely not exactly what he needs to be dealing with right now. There's just so much going on. So much to try and understand. The important thing here is Gwen's safety but there's also the fact that they are, in fact, in love. And that's the big problem with making a promise to someone dying in your arms. You can't really give them that excuse. No retreat, just surrender as Gwen kisses him. His hands go to her hips and he, for the briefest of moments, allows himself to be happy. To be blissful. And then he hears the voice of Captain George Stacy and yanks himself away, stepping back and using his hands to keep Gwen at a distance.

"I have to go."

For a moment there's utter bliss that builds between them. The familiarity, safety, and comfort of being in the arms of the man she loves melts the awkward. It rolls off Gwen's back as her hands instinctively rest on Spider-Peter's cheeks. And then the kiss is broken and she's being pushed away. Her breath catches in her throat at those words. "Peter…" she whispers softly. "What about what I want? What you want?" She blinks back tears that threaten to fall. This is not a new song and dance.

Spider-Peter pulls his mask back down to completely cover his face. With that back where it belongs, it is much easier to deal with this. He moves towards the window and pushes it open because that's what he's good at. He takes a long time before he responds to Gwen's questions, looking at her through the lenses of his mask. Finally, he just shakes his head. If she could see his face, she'd be able to see how sorry he is. How much he wants to be with her. Everything. But the mask protects both him and her. And the only explanation he can give?

"It's not about us."

Spider-Man leaps up and through the window, before he leans back inside and offers a thumbs. "Your cab's here." Wait, when the hell did he call for a cab? Damn, Spider-Man is goooood. And just like that, he's off to swing away and go find an actual supervillain to punch. Because this was not his night.

With Peter taking off, Gwen slides over to the wall and slides down it to sit on the floor. She presses the heels of her hands to her eyes and stares at the window, silently shaking her head. And once she's fairly certain he's out of earshot, she murmurs, "I'll walk home, thanks." With that she presses herself back up to a stand and treads for the lab door. Homeward bound.


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