Chapter 1: Too Much Talk
Most people in this crazy super-hero world have to juggle two sides. Humanity, of course, we’re all human.
And something else.
If his experiences had taught him anything was that he often found himself juggling a third.
“The kid’s just scared, Tony.”
“The kid’s shooting cop cars out of the street.”
“He didn’t ask for what’s happening to him.” Peter didn’t like when he was the voice of reason; it was usually a really bad sign. “He can’t help lashing out.”
“Like you did?”
There it was.
The mutants would never consider Spider-Man one of them, he didn’t have the x-gene. On the other hand, he wasn’t part of a successful scientific experiment, he didn’t build himself tech powers.
Well, webs being the exception, but we’re trying to make a point here. He wasn’t a thunder god. He wasn’t at all responsible for the science behind his accident, as Banner had been. He hadn’t volunteered like Cap had or been subject to it completely against his will, like Cage, or even went after it and purposely acquired it, like Danny. And it didn’t switch on and off either, it changed him forever in a very random accidental way when he was still a minor. For that reason, everyone thought of him as a mutant.
Except for the mutants.
He was also Peter Parker, the human. People often forgot how he had been before that fateful event with his uncle, the real life changer. Or he just hadn’t told them. It was hard to keep track of what he had said to him or her, those days. Too many parallel world adventures. He wasn’t even sure if the Stark he was talking with had been the one to create the Avengers anymore, or if that was some other timeline or some other world.
“I managed to hide it. If people showed up to hurt me--”
“You would’ve run.” He was Stark, however. You didn’t really convince him of anything.
People didn’t think that about him because Tony was the type to eventually stop arguing, even agree if he had to, but his mind wouldn’t have changed at all. Cap was the one that could go an hour saying no. His stubbornness was honest and vocal, Starks’ wasn’t, but it was still there. Just as strong.
There was only one way to deal with both of them when they were wrong.
“I’ll take care of it.”
Peter ignored the protests as he exited the room. He was too agile and fast for anyone to stop him unless they reacted quickly and decisively, which they wouldn’t.
He ran across the corridor, webbed a loose window, pulling it open with a flick of the wrist, and swiftly jumped out with the confidence and litheness that came naturally to him.
It was a cloudy day. The clouds had come out while he was eating pizza inside. As he swung away, he looked back at Avengers tower with the same sense of awe he always had for it. Life had a way to sneak up on you, not only with bad things but with good things too. Often, he came to realize, one after the other. In that order.
Mere minutes later, he landed to hold a crouch against a lamp-post, looking towards the teenager who was shooting off some kinetic waves. He was surprised no one from the X-Men had shown up, so much so he couldn’t help but give it a few more moments before interfering, waiting for them. Things never went well when they showed up after he got involved; it was only okay for them to fight mutant teens who were out of control.
He noticed someone was about to get crushed by a thrown car. In reaction, he shot up the web between the wall of a store and another lamppost, which bent with a loud creak when the car landed on it.
“Seriously, lady? Thing’s been going on for five minutes, why’re you still here?”
She didn’t have an answer; they usually didn’t. Not beyond gaping in surprise.
“Spider-man!” He looked towards the kid, a Latino youngster with a few tattoos, posturing in front of a beaten down apartment. Peter couldn’t tell from his look whether he was friendly or hostile but then again, who was he to talk? His mask covered whatever intentions he had in a layer of stoic intimidation. That was - until he spoke.
“Hey!” He gave him the friendly spider-man hand wave. “I was passing by and heard this weird ruckus going on. Having a bad day?”
“I was just minding my own business, man! These pigs just crept up on me for no reason!”
It felt odd for him to be speaking at such a long distance. A couple of the police officers were yelling out orders and threats, unknowingly setting up to escalate the situation. He ignored them, of course. Onlookers were keeping a greater distance now, the woman almost getting crushed by that car had motivated them to show enough sense; that made him feel safer.
“Hey now, that’s not fair, how often do you bathe?”
The moment of confusion was enough for Spider-man to pull himself closer, as close as a few feet.
“Whoah man! Step back!”
“Bro,” he said in a joking tone, “you wanna settle down, know what I’m sayin’?”
He gave him a dumbfounded look. Peter looked back and saw even the cops had a look of displeasure on their faces.
“Eesh, that bad, huh?”
“Downright distasteful, man.”
He shrugged. “Everyone’s got their down days.”
“Get out of the line of fire, Spider-man!”
He ignored the cops; he usually had to. If they opened fire, he had more than enough time to grab the kid and jump out of the way. Might even knock him out while he was at it, but for as long as he could, he preferred diplomacy.
Spider-man loved to talk.
“Now I know you’re innocent, but c’mon, you think you look innocent to them?”
“Man that’s racist, just ‘cause I’m not some rich white bo--”
“What?” Peter threw a nervous laugh. “Psh wha- no, I mean, you’re shooting their cars up and down the street. You’re lucky you haven’t killed anyone.”
“Oh,” he again hesitated, brain catching up, “uhh yeah, I knew that’s what you meant. And they’re the ones who’re lucky, man! Any you come any closer to my mom’s home, I’ll freakin’--”
“Bake everyone cookies?” He interrupted him; the cops could hear them after all, and they wouldn’t like to know he was willing to hurt them. “Make some tea? Any of those things what your mother would do if a cop came by?” He cocked his head to the side, seeing guilt in the young man’s eyes. So, at least, his mom was nice, there was that. “Is she home right now?”
He glanced back; the answer was obviously not. She was probably working a third shift or something else to afford whatever it was the kid didn’t value.
“That’s irrelevant.” That was an unexpected word.
“Uh huh. So, you know you’re a mutant?”
He replied with an insulted look.
“Wha - no, I’m not a mutant, what the hell?!”
“But you’re shooting kinetic waves off your fists. Are you Shocker?”
“What’s a shocker?” The tone and expression of utter confusion were too funny for Peter.
Spider-man burst out laughing out-loud, surprising everyone, especially himself.
Boy, he needed a laugh sometimes.
“You’re not Shocker,” Spider-man tried to regain his pose. “You’re definitely a mutant.”
“Man, that’s your business. What I’m going through is alien crap, man.”
There it was again. Spider-man didn’t correct him; he couldn’t do that without getting into the long story he didn’t like to get into; which was also a secret.
“Alien?” That was random, “Nah, you’re definitely mutant.”
“Man, I’m tellin’ you,” he honestly spoke in frustration. Surprisingly. “Thing came out o’ thin air, it offered me power. N’ of course I took it.”
He didn’t seem to be lying. There’d be no reason to, and besides, Spider-man suddenly realized the guy might be too old to suddenly show up as a mutant unless he hid it for a few years. He looked around at all the evidence that contradicted that hypothesis: there was the car weighing his big web down, another upside down on top of a bus stop, plus all the debris scattered in an outwards arc from the young man.
“Well that’s interest-” Spider-man reacted instantly, some would say before it happened. He closed his fingers upon his palm, aiming at the kid, webbing him into the house. A beam showed up from the side, coursing through the empty space where the mutant had been.
Or rather, the non-mutant.
Spider-man looked aside but saw nothing. He looked suspiciously at thin air, in the direction the beam of light had come.
“What was that?”
“Where’d that come from?!”
The cops were freaking out, they were unsure of what to do. He was with them there. Still, they, in particular, he supposed, felt a lot more in danger. A super power battle was about to take place, the kind of thing they really had little stock in.
He felt it again and turned his body around, more beams missing him and instead hitting the ground. His spider-sense flared in his head, his nervous system kicking off all-out readiness for a fight. He prepared to dodge the next beam and web the source. Instead, part of the house collapsed inwards.
“Oh no!” It was after the kid.
He had considered this, however. Peter had the piece of the web that was stuck to the kid right next to him. He kicked it up.
“Even you, Spidey!” The voice came from inside and his spider-sense flared. Peter knew the blast was about to hit him, an attack from the kid he was trying to help. He hadn’t grasped the webbing firmly enough to pull while also jumping away. His best bet would be to hope he was strong enough to stand against the force of the blast.
It completely blew him away.
Between his strength and his sticking skin, there was a lot of power involved in a force strong enough to blow him away. Peter then realized how the guy had really been holding back against the cops.
Spider-man regained his senses a second later, instantly reacting, to grab onto a lamp-post on the other side of the street so that he could spin, once, to use the momentum to fling himself back to the house. Across the street and over the police barricade he went, he was momentarily surprised the barricade was still standing, but that didn’t hold his attention long.
Spider-man heard screaming. He stormed inside but landed in the hall too late. He found nothing but a good kid who wanted to be bad, looking shocked with a cauterized hole through the chest.
Spider-man swallowed his sadness, trying to occupy his mind with catching the invisible force that had murdered the young man. Most likely related to whatever had mutated him, or transformed him.
He heard crackling coming from the hole the attacker had created by bursting into the house and reflexively threw a tracker. He saw it hit a surface in the air before simply slipping off. He threw a web through the hole too, and it hit something, but again, didn’t stick.
He jumped through the hole and stood on the roof for a minute or two, hoping it would try to kill him. The webs didn’t work, but he still had his spider-sense. Another notion of where the thing was and he’d jump down and throw something heavy at it, some of those cars were long past broken anyway. Or maybe he would try to grab it.
He looked down at the kid again, the crowd around him divided between looking dumbfounded, angry or scared. He, however, focused on the kid.
Had he immediately taken him down…no talking, no diplomacy, perhaps the young man would still be alive. Talking had gotten the kid dead, and talking is what Peter had done.
Was he always going to screw up?
He heard the noise of a jet.
The X-Men. They had arrived.
He decided to leave, he wasn’t in the mood to deal with their belligerence.
He had to figure out what had happened there.