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The Eyes of New York

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In all honesty, I had no idea how I had ended up in this place. I really, really didn’t. I had been swinging through the air, thinking about schoolwork and how quiet tonight had been.

And now? I was waking up with a headache, head fuzzy and eyes unfocused.

I blinked a few times, trying to clear my vision. I went to rub my eyes when-

Clink. My spider-sense sent a shiver down my spine. I looked to the side. My… arm was tied up? That definitely had me paying attention. A long string of chains was wrapped around my arm, attached to my wrist by a thick piece of some metal. Don’t ask me what kind. It almost looked like whoever had done this was trying to impersonate a stereotypical dungeon setting with this get up. I would have laughed, if fear hadn’t choked it back.

I took a few deep breaths. Alright, stay calm, I’ve just gotta assess what the hell is going on. So I was tied down by the arms, and those chains were so short my arms were forced to stay level. What about my legs?

I looked down and found myself on my knees. Ah, that would explain why my ankles were throwing such a fit. I shifted uncomfortably to the side, trying to get a better look. Huh. They had put metal around not only my calfs, but my thighs too. After a moment of hesitation, I braced myself and tried pulling my legs apart.

Ow! Ow! No, that just made it dig in. What the hell kind of metal were they using? I shouldn’t have skipped leg day...

Ok, ok. That was fine. I could deal with that. If I can’t get my legs free, I should be at least able to break the chain. I’ll figure out what comes next after that. One step at a time.

Three, two, one... I pulled my arms inwards, trying to wrench it out of the walls. Before I could get any further than an inch, a crippling wave from my spider-sense left me paralyzed in place, like my body had frozen up in shock. A migraine throbbed behind my eyes, leaving me panting. Ow… what the hell? I gave the chain a light tug again, only to get a similar flash of pain, forcing a yelp out of me.

Why was it acting up like this?

I looked up at the ceiling. Maybe… maybe it was because it was connected to the building’s structure? That would make sense, I guess. The whole thing with the spider-sense was to warn me of danger, right? So I guess that had to be it.

I shifted uneasily, trying my best to ignore my legs. Being on your knees wasn’t exactly the most comfortable position in the world. It was pretty awkward, to be honest.

Well, at least I was on wood flooring instead of brick? Whoever had done the kidnapping had made it at least a bit more inviting than a dungeon. The walls were brick, but it looked like this place had been recently built because they were a clean, fresh red.

Double bonus, I still had my full costume on!

What about my powers though? Maybe they had suppressed some? I looked to my hand and willed it to camouflage. It flickered briefly - as it always did - before my hand was gone from sight. Welp, nope, looked like that was fine, too.

So, think. I can’t use my strength to get out of here, camouflaging wouldn’t exactly do anything and I was too far away from any walls to try sticking to them - not to mention I couldn’t exactly move all that far since the chains holding my arms were pulled fairly tight.

What if… I did a small venom strike? It had loosened up the webs when I had been stuck a year ago. It was worth a shot.

Three, two, one…

I watched the venom strike travel up my arm, into the metal and then it bounced back. A firey pain seized my body and I bit my lip in an attempt to smother my scream. It hurt like hell! I suddenly felt so much more sorry for all the petty criminals I had ever used this on.

I blinked the stars out of my eyes. I felt so much more tired all of a sudden. My muscles were still screaming at me for their mistreatment.

Yeah, let’s put a solid red mark through that and never think of it again.


 

The first goon came in with a needle in one hand, scissors in the other and a smirk smeared across his face. It made him look so punchable, like I really just wanted to break his nose. Alas, I didn’t have enough room in the chain to even try. Maybe I could headbutt him?

“Hey bug, having fun?” He asked in a sickly sweet tone.

I rolled my eyes, “And who are you, dick for brains? Gonna tell all about how you guys are ‘totally right’ and ‘join us!’”

Dick-for-brains grinned wider, “No, but you will be a useful tool for us.”

He snagged my arm, just above the elbow. Instinctively I tried to bite him, but my other arm wrenched me back into place. I couldn’t reach that far! Crap!

“Ha! You should learn your place, bug eye. Now stay still...” He put down the needle (oh god, that was so unsanitary) and snagged my suit. Before I could even protest, he had torn a chunk of my costume out.

“You asshole,” I hissed, sheer shock dragging the words out of my mouth.

“An asshole who’s got you tied up. Now relax, it’ll hurt less if you do,” he told me, picking up the needle once again and aiming it at my elbow.

I stiffened. I had never been a fan of needles, to be honest. I hadn’t been the crying type… but I had made my Mom or Dad drag me in. I was a literal dead weight, and the older I got the more effective it was.

“What the hell,” the goon muttered. He lifted the needle back out of my skin, and before my horrified eyes, he tried to stab it back in. I winced away. “Are you doing this on purpose you little brat?!”

“Doing what?” I asked through gritted teeth.

He did it again, pulling out and stabbing me again. He didn’t answer. There was a small pause before he ripped the needle out again. He then whacked me over the head for good measure. “This isn’t the end of this!”

He grabbed his stuff and stormed out, slamming the door behind him.

I blinked a few times. Uh, well, that was a thing that happened. I watched a small bubble of blood drip down my elbow, but I didn’t bleed any more.


 

Cue days of this routine. Every day got worse and worse, more needles, more stabbing as they tried to get to my veins, more toddler tantrums as they were unsuccessful before leaving me alone in the room. It also got more painful, too, since they just buried the needles into the same spots. I have never seen my elbows so… dark before. It made me look so much paler in comparison. It looked weird.

But they gave up.

For maybe a couple of days until they tried to get the blood from elsewhere. Every joint at this point was dotted with bruises. But still no blood. Then they tried to get sneakier.

I was catching some uneasy rest when my spider-sense flared up, my hand twitching weakly in response. I lifted my head up, my head feeling so heavy that even that much work left me tired.

There was a new goon, frozen in place with a needle she carelessly held.

“You were asleep,” she whispered.

“Was. The bedding here ain’t exactly comfortable, I want to put in a complaint,” I croaked back.

She rolled her eyes, went about trying to get my blood and eventually gave up for the day. I let my head sag down.

The worst thing about this place was that I didn’t know how long I had been here. Maybe it had been a week, maybe it had been two months. The days dragged into each other, which wasn’t helped by how tired I felt. I simulationaly felt exhausted and on edge.

I didn’t know when I would give in. I had to soon. I was starving, physically feeling sick to the stomach and cramping with the worst pain I had probably ever experienced. Weirdly, after a few days I didn’t even feel hungry anymore. I desperately needed food, I knew, but I just wasn’t.

The only relief I got from my cramps was the occasional drink of water they gave me. They poured it over my mask, sending some of the precious liquid cascading onto the floor. I wasn’t going to give them an inch. They would take a mile if I did.

Torture sucked. I was utterly exhausted.

Was my secret identity really worth this effort? I wish I knew. But my options were dwindling, fast. No one would rescue me, and even if I did give up my identity, there was no way they would let me go.

There was no winning here.

Maybe I would just end up dying. Nothing like the blaze of glory my Peter had gone down in. But the what if’s were getting harder to think of. I just wanted to sleep.


 

Then they tried to threaten me.

“Are you going to give it up, or are we going to force your hand?” The goon of the day asked, bending down to hover at my eye-line.

I let my head hang. I didn’t want to look up at him. It wasn’t worth the effort.

“No? It’s your blood or your mask, your choice.” He stood back up, shuffling his feet as he paced in front of me.

Again, I didn’t bother to answer. If I gave them my blood, who knows what the hell they would do with it? Super soldiers? Probably super soldiers. Or clones. I didn’t want to fight clones of myself, that would be a headache.

And I would love to see them try to take off my mask. My stickiness wasn’t just in my fingers. I may be getting weaker but that was one thing I knew I could do even half-dead.

The goon crouched again, grabbed my chin and forced me to look up at him. I resisted the urge to cringe away - or maybe try to bite him. “Eventually, your hunger will take more precedence over the secret beneath this flimsy thing. Not long now and you’ll give up. Your… city ,” he spat out the word like it was a stain on his shoe he couldn’t get out, “needs you.”

“And your boss needs a better hobby,” I said, voice croaking.

The goon grinned down at me, “I’ll pass that on for you, I’m sure he’ll be honored by the compliment.”


 

This time, the goon brought a chair.

“Come to your senses yet? This is your final day. Give up your blood, or the mask goes,” he told me matter-of-factly, crossing his legs and leaning back in the seat.

I shook my head slowly. I had some reserves left, however small. I could show my protest in this way.

“If you give us your blood, we’ll let you go. This whole thing could have been over with ages ago, but you super-heroes never know how to pick your battles.”

What a joke, they wouldn’t let me go. And not picking my battles? Please , this was winning a war before it started. I didn’t want to fight a clone.

I didn’t voice this though. My throat was so dry and sticky every word felt like it left blood. It was super painful.

The goon reached forward, plucking at a loose bit of mask. “We could have taken this off at any point, but we thought we would give you some dignity. Nevertheless, that was pointless. You’ve been so fruitlessly stubborn. Think about this, Spider-man .”

I shifted my shoulders, releasing some of the strain on my muscles before going still again.

I would like to see them try.

“This will be your downfall. We’ll leave your body hanging from a bridge once your body gives in. What a way to go, so unfitting for a young ‘hero’ like you. No blaze of glory, just a lone body for some poor bystander to find…” he murmured absently, leaning his head on his fist.

This guy was all talk. Hopefully.

“No words? Cat got your tongue? I would have thought a hero who followed in Peter’s footsteps would have more to say? Tsk, tsk. Can’t even do that right.”

I looked up at him. Was he... serious? Was he actually serious right now? I had had nothing to drink in a day or so, I’m starving to death and he somehow thinks I’m worrying about whether or not Peter would approve of how much I was talking .

Even if talking didn’t hurt as bad as it did, I would be utterly speechless.

“No? Still nothing? What a shame. Next time we come in, you’d better have an answer,” he told me, standing up leisurely and strolling out. I made sure to give him the finger.

I wasn’t giving them either result, see how they did with that.


 

They set up the camera maybe a few hours later. It made my stomach drop in dread. Who would they send the footage to? Would it be live-streamed?

But maybe they were bluffing. They had to be bluffing. Surely they knew it wouldn’t be as simple as just taking off my mask?

The making-this-building-collapse idea was sounding better and better, not gonna lie.

But I wouldn’t give up my blood. Even if it killed me. If I wasn’t around to stop whatever abomination they made, New York wouldn’t be able to handle it. I wouldn’t be able to stop them, not for a long time. I doubt I would be able to fight anyone for awhile, even if I was let out today. I was pretty weak and hungry.

So, I would win this war before it started.

I mean, if I was going to die anyway, my secret identity wouldn’t matter all that much. But there weren’t other heroes so really, not giving them my blood was doing the whole self-sacrificing thing. That doesn’t mean I’ll give up my mask without a fight though, just means I have my priorities in order. Right?

Eventually, a group of three goons wandered in, shutting the door behind them.

One went behind the camera and started fiddling with it, one came over to me and double checked the chains, and the last one gave me a drink of water. Guess they might want me to say a few things? I wasn’t dumb enough to refuse the water. I was basically surviving off of water at this point.

“Alright, got the scissors?” Camera goon asked Chain goon.

Chain goon held up the scissors. “I’ve got them. Hey Darryl, you ready?”

Darryl, the Water goon, nodded. “Yep! This’ll be easy.”

Camera goon stepped out from behind the camera, “Spidey, this is your last chance. If you don’t give us some of your blood, we’ll take off your mask and show the whole world who you are.”

I kept my mouth shut.

Chain goon shook his head, “You made this so much harder on yourself.”

Camera goon went back to the camera, his finger hovering over the start button. “Alright, you had your chance. Now three, two, one, and we’re streaming to the whole of New York! Say hi Spidey!”

I kept my head down, just breathing slowly and steadily. Give them nothing, get ready, don’t panic.

“Not got much to say, huh?” Darryl said from beside me. “That’s fine. Well, New York! Been wondering where your precious hero is? He’s been right here with us all along. And he refuses to cooperate with us. So we have a surprise for all of you.”

Darryl grabbed my head, tipping it back for a better angle while Chain goon grabbed at the bottom of my mask. I closed my eyes and concentrated as hard as I could.

Don’t let it go.

Keep a hold of your mask.

Give them nothing.

“What the hell.. he’s sticking to his mask!” Chain goon yelled.

“He’ll give up! Keep trying.” Camera goon hissed back.

I shut my eyes even tighter as Chain goon began scratching at the edge, digging his nails into my skin, trying to grab onto something.

Don’t let go.

Keep a hold of your mask.

Give them nothing!

“I’ve got an idea,” Darryl said. And then he grabbed my chin, shut my mouth and pinched at my nose.

Oh god.

I couldn’t breathe!

Panic gripped my stomach and I began struggling uselessly to buck Darryl off. He stubbornly held on.

Don’t let go!

Keep a hold of the mask!

Give them nothing!

The edges of my vision began to rapidly fade. I was too weak to put up much of a fight. I couldn’t, it was physically impossible.

The scissors got under my mask, the metal bitterly cold against my skin. And snipped, and snipped, and then my face was visible for the first time in weeks.

Darryl finally let go and I was able to breathe again. I sucked in air like I was a starving man, but ending up coughing and hacking most of it back out anyway.

I tried camouflaging, but I was too exhausted and in too much pain. It was too late. My face was visible to the camera, and possibly the world.

I had failed.

I didn’t think I had enough water in my system to cry, but I was wrong. Tears streamed down my face. I had lost .

Chain goon grabbed my face and lifted it so the camera got a better view. If I had the energy, I would have bitten his hand. I kept panting for air, instead. “And now everyone knows. What a shame.”

Darryl and Chain goon got up and walked out of the room. Camera goon just smirked at me, “I’m sure New York loves the view. I’ll let them stare at it for awhile longer.”

And then he left too. It was just me and the camera in the room.

I let my head hang.

What would Mom and Dad think? Now they knew. They knew I had been lying to them for almost a whole year about where I had been going. Now I had been missing for maybe a month and this is how they find out.

All of the people watching could see me crying. It was humiliating! I hated it! One moment of weakness and now…

Now I was a failed superhero. As simple as that.

I should have let myself pass out before letting them take my mask off.

“Whoever’s watching,” I said, voice louder than anything I had said in ages, lifting my head up so the camera could see me, “k-keep my family safe. Please .”

I put my head back down as sobs tore their way out of my throat. A flood of fear and helplessness finally let out, the dam that had held it all back useless. I had tried so hard to give these goons nothing, but look at where I was now.

Cold, starving, exposed to the world and so sore I was numb.

Maybe I would die, too, under the eyes of New York.

Chapter Text

I guess I had fallen asleep at some stage, because one moment it was quiet and the next it was so loud and noisy that I would have plugged my ears if I could.

There were screams, shouts of surprise and people’s shoes squeaking against tile as they ran for their life. Behind them was the echoing bang of guns.

I tilted my head, glancing at the camera still trained at me. Its red light blinked at me ominously. Then, at the door.

Was I being rescued? Or was this just another bunch of villains and goons waiting to get there hands on me? Knowing my luck, it was more goons. I hoped they would feed me, at least.

There was a pause in noise before the footsteps got closer and closer to me. And then whoever it was was right outside my door.

I could hardly breathe. Out of fear or excitement, I didn’t know.

The door slammed open, followed by a shout of “hands up!” In rushed a team of police officers, guns trained to fire at any moment. They had masks obscuring their faces and big heavy bullet-proof vests on. They had come here expecting the worst, and I didn’t blame them.

There was a small pause as they looked at me, and I stared at them.

“We’ve got Spider-man, I repeat, we have Spider-man.” One of the police officers said into his walkie-talkie, walking towards me. Some of the officers behind this guy moved out of the room, leaving only him and one other behind.

“Are you guys here to rescue me?” I asked, voice barely above a whisper.

The second one nodded, coming up beside me to inspect the chains. “Yes. Can you get out of those chains?”

I shook my head, “No. Buildings integrity... or something. Gotta cut me out. Sorry.”

The first officer went over to the camera and turned it off. I felt myself relax. “Where’d the video go?” I slurred.

The two officers looked between each other. The first one finally spoke up. “You’ll be informed later. Our first priority is getting you out of here.”

I let my head sag back down. That either meant everyone or select groups. I was too tired to care at this point. My throat was protesting all the talking viciously, so I just nodded.

The second police officer radioed someone about firefighters and bolt cutters. I straightened myself as much as I could in my uncomfortable position. Which wasn’t much.

It would all be over soon.

Less than ten minutes later a team of firefighters were inside, along with some paramedics. It took awhile to get me out of the chains around my arm since the metal was attached so close to my skin. There was barely any budge room.

The first came off with an ear-splitting screech of the metal, the pressure finally releasing. They had grabbed my arms to keep them as still as possible during the whole process. When they finally let go, I pulled my arm to my nose and scratched it.

“Been annoying me for days,” I murmured, earning myself some amused looks.

My right arm got the same treatment, barely bearable noise before freedom at last. I finally had both arms back. And man did it hurt! It hurt because they were so stiff, every movement left aching muscles in their wake.

I really hoped that my arms would heal pretty quickly. In general I hoped I would heal pretty quickly from all of this.

Then it was time for my legs. I had to lay down for them to get the best angle, but I did cushion my face with my arms. Even if that hurt too. Everything hurt, really, so what else was new?

“Ready?” One of the firefighters asked by my head. I gave them a solid thumbs up.

I was both looking forward to getting out of the metal around my legs, and dreading it. I had been in one position so long that I was sure my muscles were a bit messed up from it. But I was getting free, and that was the main thing.

Five minutes later, I was free. The firefighters, with their jobs done for now, made room for the paramedics. They gave me a check over, asked me some questions - after giving me a small drink of water, and then helped hoist me to my feet and into a ambulance bed.

“Never been in one of these before,” I commented idly.

“And you should stay out of them, too,” the first ambulance officer, Katie, said.

I grinned, “Believe me, I’d love to not be here.”

They began wheeling me out, which gave me the perfect chance to discover the carnage left behind. Papers were everywhere, some coffee cups were shattered, I could see some sort of machine fizzing out. There were a couple of police officers hanging around, going through the data I presumed.

“One big operation,” I whispered. Brian, the second ambulance officer, huffed.

“Oh believe me, you should have seen it all. It’s pretty impressive,” he said, giving me a crooked grin.

It surprisingly didn’t take long before we were out of the building. I almost expected it to be light out, but only the moon shone down on us. And also the lights of a dozen vehicles.

Ambulance cars, fire trucks, two ambulances, and news vans, all surrounding the entrance way of what turned out to be a three story, quiet office building.

I wasn’t sure what I had been expecting, but it wasn’t really this.

Even as I was put in the back of one of the ambulance’s, I felt like I really wasn’t prepared for whatever was coming.


 

“News has just come in that the second Spider-man, revealed to be none other than fifteen year old Miles Morales who goes to Visions Academy, has been admitted to Brooklyn Hospital following his alleged kidnapping. We’ll now go to our reporter at the site of the hospital. How are things looking Sam?”

“Well we’re not quite sure, Annie. So far the hospital staff have been very tight lipped on his state. As we saw in the footage captured of him leaving the now cordoned off Jack and Son’s last night at around ten pm, he was visibly very skinny. We still have no insight into what took place this past month and a half, but needless to say, his state alone doesn’t paint a pretty picture.”

“Do you think he’ll be out of there any time soon?”

“Unfortunately, we have no idea at current. Rest assured, we’ll be keeping everyone at home updated with the freshest news.”

I blinked awake, staring up at the ceiling. It was starkly white and clean, jarring almost. I peered to the side, finding an empty room with empty seats. I was alone.

I rubbed at my eyes and sat up, ignoring my stiffness. I was in a clean hospital bed, the sheets were warm and it felt… weird. I didn’t have my costume on either, I was in hospital gowns.

To my sides were various machines with information pouring from it that I didn’t understand. Except for the heart monitor, which was sitting at about ninety heartbeats a minute.

I also had a fluid bag hanging from a pole attached to me via a needle in my arm. Huh.

Now that I was a bit more awake, memories of the night before came flooding forth. Being rescued, going to the hospital, being checked, but my memories got fuzzy from there. I might have passed out mid-way through.

And now, here I was.

In the corner of the room an ancient looking tv was playing the news. My face was all over it, various pictures of me coming up on screen before going back to the news hosts. At this point I couldn’t be bothered to focus on the words. I could worry about what came next later.

I’m sure the hawks known as journalists had picked everything about me apart.

There was a quiet knock on the door before Mom stepped in, eyes red rimmed and handkerchief in her hand. Of course she was here, she worked here after all.

A part of me relaxed, relief leaving my hands shaking like I was coming down from an adrenaline rush. Just seeing her put to rest the fears that had stirred in my mind like a caged animal, pacing up and down, wondering if she and Dad were ok.

The rest of me tensed in anticipation. I had been lying to them for so long...

We locked eyes and she rushed forward, barely below a sprint. But she stopped just before she hugged me, looking me up and down before nodding to herself and enveloping me.

I hugged her back, leaning my head into her shoulders. I held on to her like a lifeline. It was so warm, like a blanket on a rainy day. I thought that I might never get to feel this again.

Eventually, she pulled back and I reluctantly let go. Mom wiped at my cheeks and I realised I had been crying. I hadn’t even realised.

“I was so scared, Miles, I thought you were dead,” she whispered.

“I’m sorry-“

“No, no, don’t be sorry. Your father and I are so proud of you. You can tell us the how’s and why’s later, but right now we’re just glad you’re safe,” she said, still holding me like I would disappear the moment she let go.

The words got locked in my throat. I wanted to explain, I wanted to tell her everything that had happened, but I choked on my words. I couldn’t. Not right now, not when it was so fresh.

Instead I asked, “Where’s Dad?”

“At home. He got here as soon as he could, last night. I sent him home when I got here, the poor thing was exhausted,” she explained, lightly squeezing my hand.

I nodded, looking down at my lap. “How’s he taking it?”

She sighed, “Not well. But he just wants the best for you and loves you.”

“Doesn’t sound good,” I said with a strained grin.

“Finding out your son has superpowers isn’t exactly a walk in the park. Give him some time, he’ll understand,” she reassured.

“Ok…” I sat up straighter, and Mom promptly fluffed the pillows back up. “You guys ok? No one’s come after you?”

She laughed, “Unless you mean the paparazzi’s, no. They stationed some police at our house and there’s some just outside this door. Everyone knows the sort of enemies you’ve made.”

“Not just me,” I argued, though I had no real heat behind it, “Peter made more, I’m just picking up where he left off.”

“Rest his soul, but yes he made as many as he could it seems.” She bit her lip, seemingly pondering something before finally looking me in the eyes. “Did you meet him?”

What could I really say to that but a simple, “yeah.” I should have pulled him out of that rubble before Fisk had gotten to him. Maybe I would have never been in this mess if he was still around. I definitely wouldn’t have been kidnapped if I hadn’t gotten bitten.

But even if I hadn’t started fighting crime, if anyone had discovered I was bitten people still probably would have come after me. It was just the way things went.

Mom leaned forward, kissing my forehead. “I’m sorry Miles, I would love to keep on talking but I still have to work. I promise all the nurses are keeping an eye on you and if you need me just ask for me. Are you feeling ok?”

“Tired, hungry, but good,” I whispered.

She smiled, “Well that is something I can fix. I’ll be back with some food soon. When your father next comes around he’ll have some of your stuff. We might be here for a week or so.”

I squeezed her arm lightly, and she squeezed back. She got up and walked out, although she hesitated at the door for a long moment before shutting it behind her with a small click.


 

True to her word, another nurse came by with some juice less than ten minutes later. He had explained that with my lost weight and starvation they needed to watch my weight carefully for a bit and work back up to bigger meals. Otherwise, there was some disorder or other that I would suffer from.

The most important thing was, I had something sitting in my stomach. It felt pretty good, the cramps had eased off. But, keeping the nurses words in mind, I sipped it down slowly.

But then, I was bored. Like, really bored. The juice gave me just that bit more energy that I fidgeted for something to do. Like, I almost wished I was in a room with multiple other people so at least I had someone to talk to.

Yeah, there was the tv. But it was ancient and I really couldn’t avoid my face. I guess I was famous now? Maybe? I wonder what my instagram looked like at the moment.

I snorted, I bet everyone was telling me to do a flip in the comments.

But I wasn’t going to watch them speculate on me. It felt really weird. I would rather do anything else. Unfortunately, because it was so ancient, there were also no other good shows on.

I glanced over at the window, which surprisingly led out to a view of some greenery. A park was right outside. I snagged the bag on a rack and dragged it along with me as I meandered over to the window. Birds were singing, people were walking around with their kids or dogs. It was just a normal day at a normal park.

And then I spotted the people with cameras.

I sighed, scrubbing at my face. Vultures, the lot of them.

As long as they didn’t notice me-

“Look!” I heard one of them shout, before there was a rush to get over to my window and get a shot of me. I let out a frustrated sigh. At the very least, I was two stories up, so they couldn’t bang on the windows like demented demons.

I probably shouldn’t give them the finger either. That would be plastered all over the media like a bad smell in a airtight room. Didn’t want to give anyone the wrong impression or anything, but these people were just… sad. Like, of all the things to do with your day, hanging out waiting for one glimpse of some teenager was definitely not a job to be proud of.

Should I… wave? Maybe I should wave. Wait, do I even want to acknowledge them at all? Well, no, probably not. I didn’t want to give them anything. Especially if they had been digging in our trash like racoons or something.

So I couldn’t give them the finger, I couldn’t wave, maybe I would just stare off into the distance like I’m trying to impersonate the Great Gatsby?

So that’s what I did. Completely ignoring them, I peacefully watched the going on’s of the city.

It was nice.


 

“What are you doing out of bed?” A familiar voice chastised me. I turned my head and there was Dad, no police uniform on, just him and a bag over his shoulder.

I shrugged, “Got bored. Didn’t want to watch tv. The paparazzi have been going wild beneath me, ‘s kinda funny.”

He huffed out a relculant laugh. “I can imagine. But come back to bed, you’ve gotta get your strength back kiddo.”

I reluctantly got up and hobbled the few steps back to my bed, dragging the fluid bag thing with me. Dad even tucked me in, which he hadn’t done in years.

“Uh, how’ve you been?” I asked after an awkward pause. The Look he gave was enough for me to fiddle with my hands. “Besides the whole Spider-man and kidnapping thing.”

“When I said I saw a spark in you, I didn’t think this was the spark,” he said quietly, putting the bag down and pulling his own chair over to me. He grabbed my hand. “It’s… a lot to process. But you’re ok, and that’s the main thing.”

I smiled, “I can do cool back flips too. Y’know, a bonus.”

His lips quirked up, and I counted it as a victory. “Back flips, huh? I’m sure that’s all you can do. Guess you’ll have to prove me wrong - when you have more meat on your bones.”

“You’ll get a back flip bonanza, a full show, just for you and Mom. And maybe Ganke, depending on how I feel.”

He laughed, “Talking about that friend of yours, he’s been blowing up your phone. It was driving your Mom mad.” He reached down into my bag and pulled out my phone, passing it over to me.

“Huh,” I murmured.

“I’m sure you can figure out what to do with it. Just don’t give out too much information on what happened, ok? It’s an ongoing investigation, so it’s protocol,” Dad explained, leaning back in his seat. “Anything else? Fair game.”

I admit, this conversation was going nothing like I had expected it to. I expected more disappointed looks and ‘you lied to us’s. “I bet your colleagues were surprised that I’m Spider-man 2.0.”

That pulled his smile down a bit, and I regretted bringing it up. “Yeah, lots of surprises to go all around. At least it explains why you’re vigilantism is a bit more legal than your predecessor.”

“You’re not going to… stop me being Spider-man, are you?” I asked, the question bursting forth before I could stop it. I winced and looked down at my lap, avoiding Dad’s searching gaze.

“We’re going to have a talk about it later, when you’re better. Just not right now,” he said. “But you’re not in trouble. Just because I’m a police officer doesn’t magically mean I’m not your Dad either. I remember my teenager years-”

Back in my day ...” I teased automatically.

His laughter boomed, “I’ll have you know, mister, I have more experience than you do.”

“Next thing you know, you’ll be shaking your finger at all the kids on your lawn,” I mused.

He scruffed up my hair, “Sure thing, kiddo, I’ll do it just for you.”

Chapter Text

Later that night, after getting my next juice box and Mom and Dad had finally been forced home (because visitation times), I pulled out my phone.

One of them must have muted the alarms, because even as I watched it my phone buzzed constantly with new notifications. It was already giving me a headache.

I unlocked my phone and went into my instagram. Admittedly, I hadn’t posted that much. Just the occasional nice scenic picture or me doing backflips. Wasn’t all that much.

But just with that little bit, the internet hawks had caught on to me. I checked my profile page and-

Holy crap. Five million followers!

And counting, because in the time it took me to even go across to that page I had gotten twenty more followers.

I scrambled to get into my settings and turn off all notifications. Maybe making a private instagram would work better. I didn’t even want to think about how many messages I had gotten.

Which reminded me…

Me: Hey Ganke, I’m alive!

Whole I waited for a reply, I took a snap of my feet lying in bed. I’m sure my new fans would be delighted.

I already hated this so much. People would expect more updates from me and just… no.

Should I even put a caption on it? Mm, maybe I should. Even the brief snippets I had heard on the news put my condition from anywhere between death’s door and nearly out of here.

Getting better, not gonna kick the bucket 🕷

#Spiderman2.0

Seconds after I posted it, there was a flood of likes and comments. How the hell did people comment so quickly? I wish I knew.

I hesitated a moment, but gave in to my curiosity and clicked into the comments.

Spidermansuperfan29467: Oh my god!! He’s in hospital!!

-View previous replies (5)

|Spider1man4thew4n: He’s still worse than Peter

    | Spidermansuperfan29467: Miles is the better spidey!

Randomhousewife: I wonder what kind of sheets those are

Riyakiki45: Does anyone know which hospital room he’s in?

            -View previous replies (6)

    | Axelle29Vesle: Somewhere facing the park, no idea what room

AlienorHeidi: Skinny boi

And with that, I clicked away. Noping right out of there. Not today, never today, maybe next week.

I clicked back into the messages and found Ganke again. He had replied! Huzzah.

Ganke: You wouldn’t believe the chaos you’ve caused at school. People are actually paying attention to us now?

Ah, good ol’ Ganke. School had been the last thing on my mind. Oh crap, I was going have to do catch up school work. When I go back to being Spider-man, would they even let me out of class? The whole “I have to go to the bathroom” thing was going to be way less effective.

Hey headache, didn’t miss you.

Me: This being famous thing is getting worse and worse

Ganke: Yeah… Uh, just don’t turn on the news?

Me: Too late. They’re running themselves around in circles. Pretty funny actually.

Ganke: My Mom has the news on 24/7, I get a headache just listening to snippets

Me: I had that thing on for five minutes when I woke up before I got sick and tired of my own name

Ganke: If people finding out Peter was Spiderman 1.0 got people going, having an alive Spider-man 2.0 has pushed everyone into a rabid frenzy

I rubbed at my temples. Yeah, I didn’t want to think about fame for a bit. Let’s steer this into safer territory.

Me: What did I miss last month?

Ganke: Uhh, lots of assignments and boring learning. I’m sure you’ll catch up in no time

Me: Fingers crossed. Hope no ones been bothering you outside of school?

Ganke: Not yet, but I can see the pap’s connecting the dots. I promise I won’t star in any documentaries

Me: You better not

A pause.

Me: Oh god, people are going to want to interview me

Me: Ganke, save me

I could almost hear his laughter coming from the other end. Even with the future looming over me like a storm cloud, I smiled.

Ganke: You’re going to have to get your own PR agency

Me: Ganke, please

Me: I’m suffering

Me: In my hour of need, you’ve deserted me

Ganke: Sorry to break cold hard reality to you

Ganke: Someone had to

Me: Now you’re just being mean

Me: Think you’ll be able to see me soon?

Ganke: Yeah, probs. I think tomorrow or the next day. How is your room anyway?

I leaned back, enjoying the fluffy comfiness in the pillows. How was my room? Big, green, and if I only had to be here a week it would be more than good.

Me: Fit for a king

Ganke: Really? I thought they would have stuck you with the commoners?

Me: Ha! I wish. I only just got my phone and I was super bored before

Me: Nah, my room is fine. The best thing is theres a window

Ganke: Yeah I saw the pictures. Do you still have a crowd?

Me: I don’t want to get up and check. You check, I’m sure a super fan is livestreaming

Ganke: C’mon, be like the Queen and give your subjects a wave

I glanced over at the window. There was probably like twenty people more. I wasn’t going to check, but I would put my bets on twenty.

Me: I gave them an appearance like an hour or so ago

Me: They can handle it

Ganke: Aw, but I want to see someone faint :(

I snorted.

Me: I’m not that famous

Ganke: You say that now. Wait until you’re out of the hospital

Me: That’s not ominous at all


 

“Guess who?” I heard a very familiar voice coo. I leaned back into my pillows, grin blossoming on my face.

“Finally made it, huh?” I teased. “Almost thought you had up and abandoned me.”

Ganke pulled up a seat and sat down next to me, looked left and right, and chucked something crinkly on my lap. “Don’t tell anyone, but I snuck you in a donut.”

My eyes widened in glee, “Donut? Ganke, you are the best! How can I repay you?”

He leaned back, looking me up and down “Getting some meat back on your muscles for one thing. You look like a skeleton.”

“Who would’ve thought being almost starved to death would do that to a person. You would almost think they would be fat,” I commented absently, digging the donut out of its package. It was a glazed donut too, the best kind.

“Uh, um, yeah.” Ganke shifted uncomfortably. I felt a pang of regret for my bitter words. “My Mom’s grabbing hospital coffee so you better be quick, or else she’ll confiscate it.”

I stuffed the whole thing into my mouth, chewing it as fast as humanly possible and swallowing. “What donut?”

Ganke laughed, “Dude, you looked like a seagull or something. That was super gross!”

I folded my arms, “You found out my secret. I was never bitten by a spider, it was a seagull this whole time.”

“Why am I not surprised?”

We both giggled. I had missed this. Glad I got to hang out with Ganke again. That reminded me…

“What day is it?” I asked.

Ganke frowned lightly, “Saturday dude. I think Mom would have let me out of school to see you anyway.”

“That’s just crazy dude, there’s like zero way she would ever do that!” I said throwing out my arms.

He laughed, “turns out she thinks its really cool that we’re friends now. Don’t worry, I made her promise not to jump in front of any cameras.”

“That’s a relief at least. I don’t even know how I’m going to face cameras dude. I’m like, the worst person for that,” I groaned, scrubbing at my face.

“You’re not overly photogenic either.” He was unfazed by my scalding look. “You should keep your mask on all the time to avoid the cameras.”

“I only ever go out for Spider-Maning most days anyway, so it wouldn’t be the hardest thing to do.” My stomach gave an ominous rumble, which I ignored. “That reminds me, has school said anything?”

Ganke rubbed at the back of his neck. “Well, when you first went missing they did briefly mention you in assembly? Just saying not to be alarmed and you would be found. I think they were trying to keep it on the down low.”

I snorted. “Yeah, this whole thing is definitely on the down low now. No one knows a thing about it. Nope, not at all.”

“It’s almost like no one knows about you at all. Oh, by the way, your insta reached ten million followers this morning,” Ganke happily informed me.

I resisted the urge to scream into a pillow. “See, this? This right here? This is exactly why I didn’t want to be famous! I will never be able to walk down the street without being recognised. I can never go to the corner store to get milk again.”

Ganke leaned over and gently patted me on the back, “There, there. At least when someone tries to brag about their thousand followers on twitter you’ll always overshadow them.”

“Glad to see our priorities are-”

And then I severely regretted the donut.

I was on the floor in front of a trashcan before even I had realised it, throwing up everything. It hurt like hell , my throat screamed at me. Yeah, the donut hadn’t been worth it.

When I came up for air, panting heavily, I found myself with a nurse soothing patting my back. I looked back further and found Ganke hovering nervously.

“Now you can put ‘helped Spider-man’ on your resume,” I joked to the nurse.

She smiled, though her eyes lingered. “How are you feeling?”

“This is a pain,” I mumbled, leaning back over the trash can. At least it seemed to be over. My stomach felt pretty empty. And so of course, now it decided I was in fact hungry. The gross taste of vomit still lingered and food was the last thing I wanted! Body why?

“Let’s get you back in bed.” She helped hoist me to my feet and wobble over to the bed. My cheeks felt hot. This being injured/sick thing was… humiliating.

Don’t think about how you cried in front of a camera that was streaming to the whole of the world. Don’t think about people seeing you sobbing. Just, don’t.

The nurse got up, grabbed another trash can and put it beside my bed. “If you feel like throwing up again, don’t be afraid to use this. It is a bit worrying that you threw up.”

“That was my fault,” Ganke whispered, drawing the nurse’s gaze. She frowned, and before she could ask he continued. “I gave him a donut. He’s so skinny.”

“Ah, yeah that would explain it. His stomach isn’t used to big meals, especially stuff that’s full of calories and sugar like donuts. We need to reintroduce food slowly so his body doesn’t rebel, yeah?” The nurse explained, gently but firmly.

“Drinking just juice sucks,” I mumbled, leaning further back into the pillows.

She gave me a sympathetic look. “I know, but you’ll be upgrading soon, promise! I’ll get you some mouthwash to get the bad taste out of your mouth.”

She hurried off again. Ganke immediately spoke up, “I’m sorry-”

“Nah, I ate it. It was pretty delicious on the way down,” I reassured, giving him a small smile. “Let’s eat all the donuts in the world in like, a couple weeks.”


 

By the end of the week, I had gone from drinking juice, to chicken soup, and today I had been given a peach. Just a peach for some reason. I wasn’t complaining in any case.

I had finally gotten around to looking at my emails. There had been everything from companies wanting to sponsor me, to news outlets, fans with nice messages (which I had made sure to save) and after an immense amount of digging - a school email.

They wanted to talk about my education, in front of the board of trustees. Yeah, that smelled like trouble.

But it had to be done with sooner or later.

My weight began bouncing back fairly quickly, but it also left me in an odd position where I had abs but barely any muscles behind it. It made me look like a stick figure with extra squiggly lines on my stomach. Yeah, not attractive.

So, a week and a half later, I was finally allowed home.

As soon as we knew, Mom had packed my bag for me and gotten out of work for the occasion. I was so looking forward to sleeping in my own sheets.

What I was not looking forward to was the paps.

“Over here!”

“Miles! What happened during the month you were-”

“Miles! Miles!”

“Are you going to continue being Spider-man?”

There were flashes from all sides, blinding me. I grabbed my hoodie and covered my head. Could these people not for five seconds ?!

There was a hand on my back guiding me along, which I was immensely grateful for. Thankfully the walk from the entrance to the car was only a couple of paces, and the silence in the car was so good I sighed in relief.

“Can I take back this fame?” I mumbled, letting my hoodie drop back down as the car pulled away from the curb.

Mom snorted, gently rubbing soothing circles into my shoulder. She was sitting across from me. I think she was the one who had guided me into the car. “It is a pain, isn’t it?”

I peered at her, “People have been pestering you too, huh?”

She shrugged, “Just some more paps at home. After awhile they become background noise. They’ll get tired of you soon enough.”

I couldn’t have stopped myself from laughing at that, even if I wanted to. “You calling me tiring?”

“I’m sure some other celebrity will do something embarrassing soon, Miles,” she said, not answering my question.

I nodded after a pause. “Yeah, makes sense, makes sense.”


 

We escaped into our home with barely a second to spare before the vultures tried to swoop inside. But once the doors were closed and the blinds were put down, it didn’t take long for them to lose the scent and quiet down.

Dad was already home. He gave me a big hug but then gave some excuse for why he was going to be in the study and Mom had to join him. It was pretty obvious that they were just giving me some privacy.

They were trying. It left a pit of warm fuzzies floating around my stomach.

I was glad my room was on the other end of the house, in a striking moment when I realised just how open my room was with the window just above my bed. Being away from prying eyes felt like such a mercy.

The first thing I did once I stepped into my room was lay down on my bed, inhaling the smell of washed sheets. Ah, home sweet home. I really had missed this.

When I finally got up, narrowly avoiding being crushed by sleep, the second thing I did was dig out my spare costume and just… stare at it.

This thing had caused me so much grief, and so much joy. I wasn’t going to give it up, no way in hell, not after every hurdle I had leaped across to stay in this thing. But, it did hurt to think about my other costume.

I was glad that my last costume was buried in the trash somewhere. I intimately knew where that costume had been torn and dirted. I didn’t need a physical reminder.

I took a deep breath, and before I could think about it for too long, I pulled it in.

It was almost hilarious what space was left in it, like I was a little kid putting on a shirt three sizes too large. I guess it at least gave me motivation to gain weight? As soon as I filled this thing out, then I would go out on patrol.

Oh crap, that’s right. Parents and fame.

That was not a conversation I was looking forward to. I just hoped they wouldn’t try to outright ban me from it.

I bit my lip, should I?

Yeah, I should.

I got bigger shoes to fill 🕸

#Spiderman2.0

There, that should give the hawks something to feed on for awhile.

I was about to take it off and hibernate for a thousand years when my phone started ringing. I stared at it suspiciously, had they found my phone number? I really hoped the public didn’t have it. That would be a nightmare.

I picked it up anyway.

“Uh, hi this is Miles here.”

Hey Miles, it’s May. Sorry I hadn’t been able to come see you before, had a couple things on. How are you? ” May asked, her voice tinny through the receiver.

“Oh! Hey! I’m doing ok. Bit overwhelmed, but it’s fine. Do you have a ‘superhero’s guide to having your secret identity revealed’ hiding around somewhere?” I joked, sitting back down on my bed.

She laughed, “ No, unfortunately not. Got any plans for all this fame?

“Does wanting it to die off count as a plan?” I sighed, rubbing at my eyes. I had been having so many naps these past few days.

I guess. But it could help you in the long run, if you do it right-

“You saying you want to be my PR Agent?” I asked, eyebrows shooting up.

Oh heavens no, I’m not tech savvy enough for that. I could be your unofficial supervisor, if that positions open,” She said.

“I think the world has decided that they’re my advisors anyway. I think I saw a tweet from Taylor Swift for me floating around somewhere. I barely even want to look at my own email at this point,” I complained.

Got any possible sponsors? Might make you some good pocket money,” May suggested.

I frowned. “I don’t know, I don’t want Spider-man to be… political? Or aligned to anything bad? Peter’s first few years he got some pretty harsh backlash just for existing so I don’t want to-”

Miles,” May interrupted. “ Listen to me, and listen to me good. Spider-man is yours now. I trust you to do right by my son, rest his soul. I’m sure he’s proud of you, too.”

I looked out my window. There was only a small alleyway there. No sunlight could reach down here, to my window, but every night when I had gone Spider-maning, I had always enjoyed climbing onto the roof and catching the last bit of sunshine. I sighed.

“It’s hard.”

I know.”

“I wish I hadn’t been kidnapped.”

It was a pretty awful thing to happen, Miles. You’re allowed to take your time with this.”

“I… I don’t know what I’ll do. Everyone knows I’m a kid now and I even cried on camera.”

There was a small pause on her end. “ I know this won’t help much, but I was having some tea with my neighbour, Anna, when the video started playing. I almost didn’t think it was you for a moment, but I knew that fighting spirit anywhere. Seeing you cry was heartbreaking, but even the Daily Bugle had nothing to say about it. It’s shown people the more human part of this job.

I brought my knees up to my chest. “I… well that’s unlike the Daily Bugle.”

She tittered, “ Oh, it really is. When you’re feeling a bit better, consider going on some news show. Get your story out there, because everyone wants to know what happened. But take your time, there’s no pressure Miles. We all want what’s best for you.”

“I know,” I whispered.

Chapter Text

The thing with being super skinny and looking like a mess was, I didn’t really want to be in any videos for a while. I didn’t look very good; I just looked like a mess and I already had a gut feeling that all that people were seeing was some random sickly fifteen year old and thinking, ‘This guy is too young to be Spider-Man!’ That was the exact opposite of what I wanted people to think of me.

But,at the same time, every time I strayed into the comment section of my Instagram I had people asking me the same questions over and over. How did I get my powers? What happened the past month? Was still going to be Spider-man? And that was just the most asked questions.

Now, whether I was going to be Spider-Man, I didn’t know. Mom and Dad had been pretty quiet on the whole Spider-Man thing. I had no idea if they were going to try and shut it down. I really hoped not.

The other two questions though? I knew the answer. But I didn’t want to let anyone get the wrong impression of how it all went down. See my problem?

I was still on bed rest until I had more meat on my bones and more energy. So after waking up at noon I snagged out my phone. It was a Wednesday, which sucked ‘cause I couldn’t talk to Ganke. I only had the internet to amuse me.

Both Mom and Dad were at work. I was almost positive Mom had left some food for me to eat when I got hungry. After a day or two with no sight of me, the paps had begun to leave me alone. Now there was only the occasional one hanging around, but nothing more. I could go to the store now if I really wanted to! I would still be recognised, probably, but there wouldn’t be a whole circus around it. My fifteen minutes of fame were up.

After I had thought about it for a bit, I realised what I could do to control the narrative and still let people talk to me. I could do an online Q and A. And if I did it now, there wouldn’t be too many people online since it was the middle of the day! It was perfect!

Instagram wouldn’t work for this though. I mean, I had been verified there but it wasn’t exactly the best set up for answering questions.

Which is how I ended up with a tumblr account.

After a quick picture and a link to my new account on instagram, I settled in to wait. I had no idea how famous I was. I mean, I knew I was known now, but would anyone actually care to pay any attention to me?

I wouldn’t complain if no one did, though.

After playing around on some mindless app for awhile, I finally went into tumblr to see what responses I had gotten. Huh, there were thirty things in my inbox. Not bad!

I got to the first one: Coffee or Tea?

This Q&A thing might not be so bad after all.

I answered with Tea.

How’d you become Spider-man?

Now this one I had been expecting. I had thought about it since I had woken up in hospital, so it didn’t take me long to reply.

Answer: I got bitten by a spider like Peter. Peter made me promise to shut down this portal thingy and after a bunch of stuff happened, I got my own suit and the rest is history.

Question: How much wood would a woodchuck chuck if a woodchuck could chuck wood?

Answer: 10

Question: Who kidnapped you?

Answer: I don’t know . They wanted me for my blood and that’s all they told me.

Question: Are you hurt?

Answer: At the moment? No. Just tired and hungry

Question: Are those webs organic or do you make them

Answer: That would be pretty weird if I made them organically! No, I’ve got a formula. No, I’m not telling anyone what it is

Question: Are you still going to go to school? Have you thought of taking up Spider-man as a full time gig?

Answer: I am going to school, yeah. I don’t plan on dropping out either, Spider-man doesn’t exactly pay well

I leaned back. I still had that talk with the school coming up as soon as I was feeling better. I was not looking forward to it, at all. I just hoped they wouldn’t expel me or something.

Question: When will you be back out as Spider-man?

Answer: Soon as my costume fits again

My stomach rumbled, reminding me that it was lunchtime and I hadn’t eaten. Reluctantly, I got out of bed and wandered into the kitchen. I spotted a note sitting on the kitchen counter.

Some soup in the fridge, take what you want. Mom.

I busied myself with getting some soup in a bowl and into the microwave. As soon as the timer started counting down, I picked my phone back up and looked at my inbox. Forty more messages, damn.

This was going to be a long day. I was almost looking forward to it. It felt… different to be able to talk to people so directly. I liked it!


 

When I woke up Saturday morning, I wandered out and found both parents sitting on the kitchen stools, idly talking with empty bowls on the counter. I immediately knew I was not going to like the conversation that would follow. Call it a gut feeling.

“Uh, morning?” I mumbled, still half asleep.

“Morning, how did you sleep?” Dad asked, nursing the steaming cup of coffee in his hands.

I shrugged, “Good. So, uh, you guys gonna tell me what this is about? This whole sitting around thing?”

Mom and Dad looked between each other. A silent conversation passed between the two of them that I couldn’t make heads or tails of. Finally, Mom was the one to turn back to me. “How about you sit down Miles?”

I sat down, barely able to contain my fidgeting. “If this is about how I didn’t make my bed, I’ll do it in five minutes, promise,” I joked.

“Sorry kiddo, this is about Spider-man,” Dad said. Yeah, this conversation had been coming any day now.

“Are you going to let me still be Spider-man?” I asked quietly, eyes dropping down to my lap.

The pause was deafening. You could have heard a pin drop. Dad took a deep breath. “I’ve had a while to think about Spider-man. I never agreed with Peter’s method, you know that, but he did do good. And so have you. But-”

“What he’s trying to say,” Mom interrupted before he could go off on a tangent, “is that you can still be Spider-man, with some new rules and conditions.”

I nodded, “Uh, yeah, I can do rules. What are they?”

Mom stared me straight in the eye, unblinking. “You won’t hide any injuries from us. No matter how small. I don’t care that you’ve got increased cell production and heal quicker, if it’s so much as a scraped knee you tell me and I will treat it.”

“Yeah, makes sense,” I said, sitting up straighter.

Dad leaned forward. “You are going to go to some police courses. This isn’t because I want you to be a cop, I want you to go to them so you can better work with us and understand how we work.”

“So I can be more legal, yeah can do. That won’t be too bad,” I was quick to concede.

“Self defense classes, every week. No exception. I want you to be able to avoid any injuries where possible. As well as that, you’ll be doing some first-aid training,” Mom said.

“And last of all, one AM curfew at latest. Sometimes you’ll be held up by some big event, but otherwise you will be at home on the dot. Your grades can’t drop below a B average either, or you reduce Spider-Man time until you can get it back up. Any objections?” Dad asked, leaning back and taking a sip of his coffee.

I paused a moment to think about it. Really, none of it sounded bad. A bit overwhelming, but once I got a routine it should be pretty easy. I could do it, and best of all, I would still be Spider-Man!

“No, I like it. Thanks Mom and Dad,” I said with a smile.

Mom breathed a sigh of relief. “Glad we got that over with. Do you want to have a look online for some courses you would like to do on self-defence?”

“Yeah. I wanna do something hand to hand, I suck at that,” I said, shrugging.

“Grab your laptop, we’ll have a look now,” Dad ordered. I scampered off to follow his demands. It felt like a weight had been lifted off of my shoulders, and I could finally breathe a sigh of relief.


 

Come Monday, I was finally healthy enough to start going back to school. Which was great! Except for the part where the meeting with the school board loomed over me like an anvil about to drop.

To say I wasn’t looking forward to it was an understatement.

I was back in my uniform, my pants were still just that bit too tight, and both Mom and Dad had gotten their nice-but-not-too-fancy clothes out for it. And for the first time in six weeks, I was back in front of Visions Academy.

It felt like a lifetime and no time at all had passed. I wasn’t ready for it, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t going to go anyway.

Life was just like that.

There were no students standing around the front. Which wasn’t unusual considering it was ten AM on a Monday and everyone was in class. The walk to the office had never been so fast or so slow before.

Twenty minutes later, we were all sitting in a boardroom. This felt like a bigger deal than it should have been, but whatever.

“I take it Miles is back in good health?” asked the principal, Mrs. Smizzer. She casually shuffled some papers into order before looking back at us.

“Yes, he’s on his road to being back in full health. A couple more weeks and it’ll be like it never happened,” Mom reassured her, clasping her hands together.

“And how are you feeling, Miles?” Mrs Smizzer questioned, turning her attentive gaze to me.

“Uh, fine,” I mumbled with a shrug.

She tilted her head to look at me from above her glasses. “All of this must have been overwhelming. Do you think you’ll be able to cope with your new status while keeping your grades up? Visions Academy expects excellence from all of our students.”

“I’ve been doing Spider-Man for a year and balancing my grades,” I quietly pointed out, “and my grades didn’t drop. I’ll be fine.”

“That was without the added stress of your reveal and the likely scrutiny that will follow your every action, Miles,” she added, shifting back in her street. “There might be some students morally opposed to what you represent, or students who are big fans.”

“I’ll be fine, miss, I can deal with it.” I finally said, sitting back in my chair. If people tried to pester me in my dorm room, well, the lock had been invented for a reason.

She hummed her acknowledgement. Then she directed her attention to all of us. “And is Spider-Man going to return to the streets?”

I didn’t miss the way Mom and Dad looked at each other. Mom was the one to answer. “After much consideration, we have decided to let Miles continue. He has new boundaries, expectations and is taking up additional courses outside of school to make up for any lack of knowledge,” it was like Mom had a script or something, wow. “If his grades fall below a B average, he’ll be barred from Spider-Man until they rise back up.”

Mrs Smizzer nodded, “Additional support will be present here for Miles. Spider-Man has always done good for the community and we always want to help push our students into a successful future.” She turned her piercing gaze back on to me. “If there’s anything we can do to support you, Miles, do not be afraid to ask.”

“Thank you,” I smiled. Wow, this was going better than expected.

“Well, now that we’ve cleared things up, I’m happy to say that you are welcome back any day. You will have to play catch-up to the other students but I’m sure you’re bright enough to excel. Thank you for meeting with me today,” Mrs Smizzer said, standing up and dismissing us. There were some shaking of hands before the three of us bustled out.

I caught some students in the hallway staring at me, and I shifted uncomfortably. Yeah, that was one thing I wasn’t looking forward to. But it couldn’t be worse than my first week here last year. That had been a nightmare and a half, even without the spider-man stuff.


 

That night, I decided now was the time. With a few pins and nifty tools, my costume fit me just about right. As much as I had… exaggerated about how much bigger my costume appeared after everything, it really wasn’t that bad. Just a bit loose in some places which was manageable, if annoying.

I glanced at the window, noting the orange light from the sunset streaming through. I had already said over dinner I would do this. I wasn’t going to get in trouble. Why was I so nervous?

Whatever, I was going to do this. I was only nervous because everyone knew who I was, so really it was nothing! Right?

I rubbed at my forehead like I was trying to get rid of a headache, trying to clear my thoughts. Focus.

I climbed onto the roof. I shook my hands out then my legs, stretched my neck from side to side and then crouched down like a sprinter getting ready to run.

Here I go.

As if some invisible starting gun had gone off, I shot forward in a sprint and thwipped my first web. It attached to an apartment complex a few buildings down. I launched myself off the edge of the building and whooped. I was in mid-air, only me and the web to keep me from going splat.

The web tightened and sent into an arch, and when I reached the end I yelled: “I’m back!” One backflip and a second web later, I was on my way down the block.

I had so missed this!

I heard someone shout a distant “Spidey!”

I grinned, slowing my arch just enough so that when I zipped past the lady who had shouted it, I could give them a salute. It felt good! I felt great!

Going around a corner and squeezing around various signs had never felt so exhilarating.

“Hey Miles!” A new civilian called from down the block. “Can I get a selfie?!”

I totally did not slip on my web and nearly end up face-planting into the ground. No, I just nearly did. Some fancy footwork and a roll got me standing back up and looking like I totally did that on purpose. No stumbling involved. At all.

“Uh, hey?” I said, turning ‘casually’ and strolling up to them. Their red skirt and white blouse made for a very distinctive look, somewhere between fancy and trying too hard. Her blonde hair was pulled up into a bun so tight that it smoothed out the wrinkles on her face. Ouch.

She gestured me closer, holding up her phone like she was trying to sell it to me. “My daughter absolutely loves you, Miles, can I take a picture?”

“Yeah, yeah, sure,” I shrugged, getting ready to pose. Should I do a peace sign or a thwip? What about both? No, that would look dumb. Thwip was the better brand symbol.

“Well, wait, can you do it without the mask?” She asked. “Just for your biggest fan? She would adore to see your face!”

“Taking off the mask before the first date? Now that’s just not allowed,” I joked nervously, rubbing my hands together. It felt wrong . I was supposed to be Spidey, not Miles . I just wanted to be Spidey for a couple of hours. Was that so hard to ask? Apparently, it was. Barely a minute out and this was already happening.

The lady pouted, putting her whole heart and soul into it, “please?”

“Would you believe me if I said the mask was attached to the suit?” I asked, shifting back. I really wanted to web away. Was that bad? It was probably bad. I didn’t want to be rude but…

“Everyone saw how they took off your mask, Miles.” Ah, yep, that didn’t make the dread feel any better. I winced. Should I? I shouldn’t be making this such a big deal. But I didn’t know what to do!

When I didn’t reply further, caught up in my spiralling mind, she rolled her eyes, “I should have known, all you Spideys are the same!”

I squinted at her, “Um, what?”

“I just asked for one nice thing for my daughter and you all try to-”

I had had enough. I squeezed my eyes shut and grabbed the hem of my mask, ripping it off in one smooth motion. I saw a couple of New Yorkers on the sidewalk stop and pull out their own phones. I felt like my skin was crawling under the heat of all these onlookers gazes.

I took a deep breath. It was fine. Everyone already knew who I was. It was fine. “Happy?”

The lady nodded enthusiastically and took a picture before going on her merry way. My smile had probably looked more like a grimace than a smile. Not much I could do about that.

I put my mask back on, much to the disappointment of some onlookers. “Adios!” I shouted, thwipping a web and getting out of there quickly.

The nervous pit in my stomach did not dissipate. It got worse. I wanted to crawl back home and bury myself in my covers. Go back in time, to where if someone tried to manhandle my mask away for a selfie, I could have just left and there would be like zero guilt tripping involved.

Had I said that being a celebrity sucks? Cause, yeah, this celebrity thing sucked…

But if there was someone who would understand, she was in Queens. Hopefully, she would be home.

Chapter Text

I rang the doorbell, shifting nervously on the balls of my feet. The lights were on and the tributes to Peter had dwindled down to a couple of pictures, candles and other non-perishables. I was glad they were still up, sitting on the veranda - a memorial to Peter and all he had stood for. The city’s love for what he had been wasn’t fading, and I hoped following in his legacy helped keep it alive. It was the least I could hope for.

Living up to his legacy may be impossible, but keeping it alive was something I could strive for.

The door creaked open just enough so that May inside could see me, but I couldn’t see her, “Who’s there?”

“I thought I was supposed to knock first for that joke?” I said, flicking my hoodie off so she could see it was me. I leaned against the door frame casually. From my new angle, I could see her trusty baseball bat sitting by her feet. I was glad I had never come up against that thing in a fight.

She snorted, shaking her head, and then closed the door. I heard lots of clicks as she unlocked the ten or so locks keeping intruders at bay. I wasn’t sure how effective they would be against someone with super strength, but, it was the thought that counted.

The door swung open, distracting me from my thoughts. She gestured me inside. “Mary Jane’s here too, hope you don’t mind.”

“Nah, that’s fine. Haven’t seen her in awhile either. Hope I’m not catching you at a bad time?” I asked, looking around the place. It hadn’t changed much since I had last been here, except for some new antiques in the cupboard. I took my mask off and shoved into my hoodie pocket.

“We were just going to sit down for dinner, want some?” She asked, walking into the kitchen. I could smell spaghetti wafting from the other room, making my stomach rumble. The dining room was just adjacent to it. MJ was sitting at the table, leaning over the back of her seat.

“Hey Miles, did you get any cats down from any trees on the way over?” She joked.

“Set a new record of ten,” I said, “you wouldn’t believe the battle wounds I got from them.” I turned back to May, who was already serving up two plates. “You know how deprived of food spiders are. Yes please.”

“Do I ever,” May muttered under her breath.

There was some shuffling around as I sat down in the spare spot and May stacked three bowls high with food, one noticeably larger than the others. She handed them out to us and sat down herself. “Eat up,” she declared, grabbing her own fork.

I wasn’t going to argue with that. I scoffed the food down, only pausing to chew properly. I’m sure Mom would gain some sidekick abilities and tell me off when I got home if I was that rude. And also, May would give me a Look.

“So… are you going back to school soon?” MJ asked, pausing in her own eating.

“Any day now. Not looking forward to it,” I said with a small shrug.

May looked up at that, “No? Thought you might want to go back after almost two months away.”

“It’s like summer holidays 2.0, the kidnapped edition,” I mused.

MJ snorted in the middle of her mouthful. She swallowed it before adding, “That’s one way of looking at it.”

I grinned. It was better than the less padded version of ‘I got kidnapped and tortured for my blood, because apparently that’s really sought after.’ I shook my head like I could get rid of that thought. Maybe I should actually talk about the whole reason I was here in the first place. “Uh, I was wondering how you guys deal with fame?”

May frowned, “Have people been bothering you?”

“Yeah? I mean, like, no one’s been breaking down my door or anything but I’m,” I buried my face in my hands. My mind flashed to the events of not even an hour ago. “I just don’t get it. I was fine with talking to kids and taking selfies before, but now it feels wrong and I don’t know why!”

I let out a breath, “Sorry, it’s fine, it’s just confusing.”

“Doesn’t sound like nothing, kid. Things change when people know about you,” MJ soothed. A small, bitter grin pulled at her face, “In fact, I was kind of mad when I got a promotion after Peter passed away.”

“You got promoted? After? Ouch,” I winced, leaning back in my seat.

“Oh yeah, it sucked. I was this close to quitting. But, I got over it. Being famous helped my articles sell a lot better, and editors were way less likely to cut my stories,” MJ explained. She paused to take a bite before continuing. “So think of it this way. What happened was absolutely terrible, don’t get that wrong, but it’s opened a couple more doors.”

“Like what?” I asked. This whole thing felt horrible all around, how on earth could there be any positives?

“Well, for one thing people will be more likely to accept Spider-man you,” May pointed out. “A lot of the complaints Peter got were ‘how are we supposed to trust you if we don’t even know who you are.’ I would have thought his actions spoke for him, but there’s always the odd paranoid one.”

“I’ve been getting those too, I just didn’t think anything of it.” I shuffled some food around the plate before having another bite. “But wasn't the whole point of the mask to hide my identity? I might as well design a new costume at this point.”

“I…” MJ sighed. She seemed to think for a moment before she finally looked me in the eye. “Well, that wasn’t his whole reason. Sometimes after a hard fight, Peter would tell me how having the mask helped hide his fear.”

“Really?” I whispered, sitting up straighter.

“Yeah. I know you never met him properly. But even though he was a jokester and fairly charismatic, he was also just a kid for a lot of his career.” MJ smiled, like she was reminiscing on pleasant memories, “He really was something else. Some of his villains were so scary that I don’t even know how you could think about facing them. You’re pretty brave, kid.”

Yeah, MJ might have a point about the mask thing, because it would be very convenient for my blush to be hidden right about now. “Uh, thanks. I’m glad I can live up to his legacy?”

May tipped her head to the side, “This whole reveal thing is out of the ordinary for all of us, but think, there’s probably a thousand universes where this has happened.”

“You saying I should try and contact them?” I grinned.

May shook her head, barely suppressing a grimace. “Heavens no, not after last time. I can barely handle one of you at a time.”

“I kinda miss them. It was fun having other Spideys around, even with the whole glitching and might die thing,” I said, taking the last bite of my food. I felt so full I could explode, but I knew that that feeling would disappear soon enough. The trials of a fast metabolism.

MJ brought her hand up to her face, rubbing her chin thoughtfully. “You wouldn’t happen to know if they… I don’t know, tried to break into Fisk tower? Using disguises?”

I shrugged, “Not really, I turned up to the fight after the collider was already going. I think I was swinging through New York or something when they were breaking in.”

“Huh.” She leaned back in her own seat. “Well, I might have talked to one of them. He was apologising a lot for not getting bread to my table, it was really weird. Or it was a waiter having a breakdown.”

“Before we speculate further, who wants dessert?” May interrupted, picking up our plates. I quickly intervened and grabbed all of the dishes.

“Yes please!”


 

Spideyspotter @spideyspotter - 5h ago

Spotted Miles in a Seven Eleven grabbing a slurpee!

#spideyspotter #Milesthenewspidey #blackspidey

I flicked over the twitter, paused, and then scrolled back up. What time was that? Seven pm? I had been with May and MJ… right?

I shook my head. Eh. Whatever.

“Miles! Put your phone away, you’ve got a big day ahead of you.”

I shifted from under my blankets. “How did you even see the light?” I called back to Dad. I should probably get some sleep anyway.


 

That morning was a flurry of activity, to say the least. Bag packed, uniform on, breakfast and then shot out the door faster than you could say ‘quantum physics.’

I choose not to walk that day, instead tagging along with Dad in his patrol car. Dread was settled in my stomach but I was ignoring it. This first day was gonna suck, but once everyone sees I’m really not any different than before, they’ll let up. Surely. I wasn’t actually that interesting.

When we finally pulled up at the entrance, I hesitated for a long moment. I turned back to Dad. “Promise you’re not gonna pull the same stunt as last year?”

“What, getting you to come out of your teenage shell and admit that you love me?” Dad asked, leaning back in his seat with one arm still on the steering wheel with a goofy grin on his face.

“Exactly. I might disown you if you do it again,” I joked.

Dad laughed, “Don’t worry kiddo, I’ll let you go in peace. Good luck, and remember our home is always open. If you get overwhelmed or-”

I quickly cut him off, “I know my limits, Dad. I’ll call ahead if I really need to escape.” I grabbed my suitcase and backpack. “See you Friday?”

“Wouldn’t miss it,” he told me, giving me a small wave. My lips twitched up in a small smile. I was kinda looking forward to it.

I shut the door behind me, took a deep breath and started up the steps. First, my room and see if Ganke’s there. Second, physics, then English I think.

The building doors swung open with a small hip bump and then I was in. There were a few students milling around, who at the movement looked up. I even saw one kid ‘slyly’ take a picture of me.

Just ignore them. Everything’s fine.

A random kid I had never seen before wandered up to me. They looked like they were maybe a year younger than me, or two. “Are you Miles?”

“No, I’m David. Don’t know who you’re talking about. Uh, gotta go,” I said, quickly trying to sidestep them and continue on. No such luck, they hung on like a parasite. And like a parasite, they started sucking the life out of me.

“No, you’re definitely Miles! The new Spider-man! How’d you get your powers? Can you show me a thing you can do? What’s it like swinging through New York?” They asked excitedly, unfortunately keeping up with me. Even when I walked as fast as I could without outright sprinting. I was sorely tempted to camouflage, but I still had my suitcase trailing behind me and I didn’t think that would disappear with me.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about,” I hissed through gritted teeth. Just another couple of corridors and then I could lock them out. Just gotta get there, it’s fine. It’s fine.

“C’mon, I’ve been your biggest fan ever since you started! You’re way better than Peter. Like, you have style and-”

I stopped suddenly, nearly sending them tripping over my suitcase. “Dude, not cool,” I told them, frowning at them. Disgust curled up in my stomach.

“What? Take it as a compliment,” they grumbled, folding their arms and jutting their hip out. I resisted the urge to roll my eyes.

“Look,” I sighed, rubbing at the bridge of my nose with my free hand, “I just want to get to my room. Can you bother me later?”

They tapped their foot for an obnoxious amount of seconds before huffing. “Fine.”

I nodded once before continuing on my way, leaving them to sulk. No one else disturbed me on the way to my room, which I was super thankful for. I knocked lightly, “Hey Ganke, you in?”

There was some shuffling inside and then the door swung open. Ganke stood there, big grin slapped across his face. “Didn’t get held up by your big fans?”

“Unfortunately, some kid thought it was the perfect time to bother me. It was… so much fun,” I said through gritted teeth. I let my suitcase fall onto its back and closed the door, making sure to lock it before getting to work putting all my stuff away.

“It’ll only get worse.” I stopped in my unpacking long enough to stare at him. “Uh, I meant, they’ll stop bothering you soon!”

“Ganke, what do you know?” I asked, standing up straight and folding my arms. Ganke visibly started sweating.

“Uh, nothing. Nothing’s going on! Yeah, uh, anyway how’s life been?” Ganke said as he ‘casually’ leaned against the wall, blundering every second word.

I raised an eyebrow. It was the crack that broke the dam.

“Ok, ok! Some things are going on! I’ve seen that some students are going to try and get your signature on various things and sell it on ebay and I’ve even seen an instagram set up entirely for tracking where you are and-”

I held up my hands, “Woah, dude, its fine. I can deal with it.”

Ganke stopped, “Uh, yeah? You sure?”

I shrugged, putting my laptop and books besides his on our shared desk. “I’m really not that different from everyone else. They’ll see. Just give them a couple weeks and exam time will have everyone way more worried than what I’m doing.”

“But, like, you’re a mini celebrity! And you go to our school!” Ganke exclaimed, hands shooting up into the air like I was the insane one.

I turned back to Ganke. “Remember what you did when I first showed you I was the new Spider-Man?”

“Got super excited and squealed a lot?” He said, tipping his head to the side.

“And how do you treat me now?”

That seemed to get through to him. “Oooh ok, I get it now. It did help that I sorta knew you before the whole-” he gestured at me, “-Spider-man thing happened. Wait, you did get bitten after I first met you, right?”

“After, yeah. People have their own lives dude, My fifteen minutes of fame will be the last thing on everyone’s minds in a week or two.” I pointed out, sliding my now-empty suitcase under my bed. I surveyed the room. Well, that had been easy, made easier because there had been stuff of mine still here instead of being sent home to Mom and Dad, after the whole kidnapping thing.

Ganke sat down in his swivel chair, “But you’re hardly a fifteen minute celebrity. You’re more like a in-the-back-of-everyone’s-minds celebrity. As soon as you fight an epic bad guy people will be paying attention to you again! You’re going to blow up so many times dude.”

I rubbed at my eyes. “For my peace of mind, let’s just pretend I’ll be a fifteen minute celebrity.” I got up and stretched, cracking my back in the process. “Alright, I gotta go to all my teachers and get some catch up lessons. You good?”

“Yeah man, good luck. Just message me if you need a convenient escape route,” Ganke said, giving me a lazy salute. I smiled and gave him one back before I slipped into the hallway.

Now, school.

Most kids were in their classes, and I had only managed to get a one on one with Miss Calleros because she had a free. Worked well for me, I guess.

I slipped into her classroom after knocking. She was sitting at her desk, drinking what I assumed was coffee. She raised a single eyebrow at my presence. “Mr. Morales, the newest Spider-man. Didn’t think your expectations essay was really that close to what you were doing.”

“What can I say, ma’am, I was going the English route of hidden meanings,” I shrugged, walking over and sitting in the chair she had set up in preparation for me coming along. The plastic was freezing . Hopefully this meeting wouldn’t take too long.

“How are you feeling? Ready to play catch up?” she asked, shuffling some papers before picking one out of the heap.

“Ready as I’ll ever be. Do you think I’ll have trouble catching up?”

She looked over her glasses at me, pausing and thinking. “No. You’re a hard working student. The first few lessons you might have to take as many notes as you can until you understand the course work we’re studying. But as long as you do enough homework, you’ll be fine.”

“Thanks miss. Uh, what’s first up?” I asked, leaning back in my seat. I was not looking forward to all the homework. From all of my six classes. Sleepless nights, here I come!

She handed over a piece of paper. “This is your outline; if you can understand all the subjects that will be brought up, you’ll be ahead of your classmates,” she explained as I had a look over it.

There were a lot of fancy words that I didn’t even recognise. Gulp.

“I’m sure I can, uh, do that miss. I’ll do my best,” I said. Oh man, this was gonna be a headache and a half. Hopefully youtube had some tutorials.

She smiled, her eyes going softer and warmer. “I expect nothing less. Don’t be afraid to come to me for extra help.”

Chapter Text

I gasped awake. Sitting up in bed, sweat trickling down my face, I tried to figure out what was happening.

There was a creak outside my door.

I rubbed at my face, groaning. I peeked through my fingers. I was at Visions. Ganke was below me gently snoring away and the ceiling was still popcorn-like. Everything was pretty normal. I didn’t even feel the usual weight of dread in my stomach after a nightmare - I couldn’t remember having one.

It was just a creak outside the door, no need to think about the scientists. And the needles. And the cramping pain from starving all the time. And-

I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts like a dog shaking off snow. Just like a dog shaking off snow, they stubbornly stuck on.

I heard another creak and my head snapped back up. Ok, someone was definitely out there. I felt a whisper from my spider-sense, sending a shiver down my spine. Nothing bad, but something unpleasant was out there.

I wouldn’t be able to go back to sleep if I didn’t investigate.

I reluctantly crawled out of bed, taking the soft top blanket with me, and went over to the door. Peeking through the keyhole, I spotted two shadows moving around. Correction, two students whispering. Couldn’t hear what they were saying though, they were being surprisingly quiet.

One of them brought something out of their pocket and approached the door. Yep, that was enough for me.

I stood straight back up and opened the door. Which caused the students to look pretty funny with their mouths open, ready to catch flies. In the black haired boy’s hands he held a marker. The short-haired, blonde girl was stock still and looked like she was ready to flee.

“You guys having fun out here?” I drawled, leaning against the door frame. The girl’s mouth opened to say something, but the other was quick to interrupt.

“Oh, Miles! This is your dorm?” he asked, eyes going wide in an attempt to look innocent. I just pointedly looked at his hand, which still held the pen. He noticed and put it hastily back in his pocket, smiling wider.

“That’s my name, don’t wear it out,” I said dryly. I yawned into my hand, I hadn’t even checked what time I had been forced awake. Too late, or early, depending on perspectives. ”What are you guys even doing?”

They both hesitated for a long moment before the girl sighed. “We got dared to draw a moustache on you in permanent marker.”

I snorted. I couldn’t be angry, they were just being stupid. “That never would have worked, I hope you know. I’m super powered and all.”

The boy rolled his eyes. “Oh yeah? You got a ‘sixth sense’ or something?”

“Yeah, actually,” I grinned. The boy folded his arms, clearly not believing me.

“Sorry for waking you up,” the girl interrupted before the boy could try and test my claim. “We’ll go back. I am so not looking forward to having to lick the toilet seat.”

“Wait, what?” I asked.

“It’s what happens if you don’t complete the dare. We’re playing a game of truth or dare, dude.”

“Ah, right.” I paused for a second, thinking. “Can I join?” I folded the blanket up absently and tossed it on my bed.

That got me two shocked faces. The boy was the first to get a word out of his mouth. “You sure? I mean, you’ve never met most of us.”

“Eh, it was about time I made a couple more friends. Lead the way.” I realised I was basically inviting myself a second too late and hastily added, “If you guys want me to join of course.”

They looked between each other. The boy shrugged, “I wanna prove that sixth sense is fake, don’t know about you.”

“Yeah, alright.” The girl offered her hand. “My name’s Gwen, he’s Kevin.” Huh, now that I was looking for it, I could really see the similarities between this Gwen and Spider-Gwen.

“You sure you’re names not Gwanda?” I joked.

“Uh, no, I’m not from Africa,” she said, eyeing me suspiciously.

I snorted, looking away. “Sorry, inside joke.” Kevin gave me a confused look over her shoulder. I took her hand, shaking it. “If you don’t mind me asking, how long have you been going here?”

“A while. Anyway, follow me,” she said with a shrug, walking away with Kevin. I closed the bedroom door behind me and quickly matched pace with them.

We ended up in a dorm two corridors across from mine and Ganke’s. The room was filled with three other kids, all in comfy pyjamas.

“Yo, you were supposed to draw a moustache on him, not bring him along,” one of the girls complained.

I raised an eyebrow, “I could go if you want me to?”

“Nah, stay, it's whatever,” she shrugged, leaning back on the frame of the bed.

“What are your names?” I asked.

‘Why no moustache’ girl spoke up, pointing to the respective people as she did so. “I’m Melissa, that’s Phillip, Nat, Kevin and Gwen.”

“Nice to meet you all,” I said politely, while I sat down by the door. Gwen and Kevin took up what looked like their normal spots.

Kevin spoke up first, “I wanna ask Spider-Miles his first truth-or-dare.”

I put my hands up, “Hang on, first of all, Spider-Miles? Second of all, sure go ahead.”

Long-haired-dude beside me shrugged, “Didn’t you know? That’s what people are calling you now.”

“I… ok, sure. Anyway, Kevin, hit me with a truth,” I said. I could analyse how I feel about Spider-Miles later. I would never admit that it was a great way to distinguish Peter and I.

“Hmm, how did you get your powers?” He asked.

I rolled my eyes. “Don’t you have a more interesting question? I got bit by a spider dude.”

“Yeah,” Phillip added, “Miles answered that on his Tumblr.”

“Huh, didn’t even know people were looking at that to be honest,” I mumbled, more to myself than them.

Melissia interrupted us, “Here’s a better one, were you related to the prowler?”

I shifted uncomfortably, “How about dare?”

Gwen rolled her eyes, “Fine. I dare you to take a selfie with all of us in your mask and post it to your Instagram.”

I frowned and reluctantly pulled my mask out of my pocket. “Sure, I guess.” I just wouldn’t tell them that I would delete it five minutes after posting.

I gathered them all in the picture and put my mask on. I was quick to post it on Instagram.

“Sweeet,” Nat said, “now my Instagram is totally going to blow up.”

It was right about then that I realised why the whole ‘making-new-friends’ idea had been a really bad one. I ended up staying with them for another ten minutes before disappearing back to my dorm, tail between my legs.


 

Another day, another round of patrolling.

I felt like I was getting better at the whole ‘people seeing my face while in the Spider-Man suit’ thing, but it was still weird. I was probably never going to be completely used to it, but at the very least it seemed to make some people happy. I didn’t really get it, it wasn’t like I had been around as long as Peter, or even Peter B.  Maybe it was that I was so new that people wanted to check me out? Or was it the novelty of a superhero with a mask but still knowing what’s underneath?

I hadn’t thought about what Peter had looked like under the mask, or who he was or what he got up to in his downtime, until he had been unmasked. Spider-Man was just that- Spider-Man.  A guy in a mask with super powers saving the city every couple weeks.

Until he died.

And now I was Spider-Man, and I was doing the superhero thing. For better or worse.

But, no matter what, saving the day and swinging through New York was awesome . Parkouring around, on and in buildings? Fantastic ! Having some people actually like me and call out my name? Still weird, but incredible !

And even better than that, fighting people. I really wanted to punch a guy today, get rid of some of the restless energy that had been building and building.

A bank robbery was just what I wanted. I mean, when wasn’t there a bank robbery? It felt like every week there was some group of wanna-be millionaires strutting into a bank and demanding money.

In fact, bank robberies were so routine at this point that I didn’t even think about swinging straight into the building, ignoring the multitude of sirens wailing. The police hadn’t gotten here yet, I absently noted to myself.

“You should have done this on a weekday! Honestly, you guys know my identity and you’re just asking me to defeat you!” I yelled, strolling casually over the shattered glass. I guess the robbers of the day were still in the vault because there was no one in sight.

I vaulted myself over the counter, trying to see who I had to beat up first. It was eerie, like a horror movie. If only there was creepy music it would complete the atmosphere-

Spider-sense!

I threw myself to the floor, sheltering my head as the wall in front of me smashed to pieces, as if something had been tossed into it. And that something must have been big and heavy. I rolled myself to my feet. Just in time, too, because the ground where I had just been cracked with a solid ‘BOOM.’

Right, an invisible man with super strength. Or an invisible woman. Invisible person? “You camera shy or something?” I yelled at thin air, jumping over the counter once again and narrowly avoided being thrown across the room with the desk. The desk shattered to pieces when it hit the wall.

“You will not stop us!” the invisible goon yelled from somewhere closer to the vault. Were they like Juggernaut-big? I seriously hope not. That guy was scary enough without being invisible.

“You sure about that?” I retorted, earning myself another chunk of desk chucked at my head. This whole invisible thing was super annoying! I didn’t know where I was supposed to punch!

Hmm, well, two could play at the invisible game. I dived for the closest desk and tipped it on its side, computer and all, sheltering me from their projectiles. Then I camouflaged. They couldn’t see me, I couldn’t see them. Fair’s fair.

I heard their footsteps approaching the table and I got up, taking a few quiet steps away. There was a moment’s pause before the goon came back into view, peering over the desk. He was wearing what looked like a bulletproof vest with two creepy owl-like eyes on them. His face was obscured by a plain black helmet and he had a walkie-talkie strapped to his belt.

What was the most surprising, however, was the fact that he didn’t look any more beefed up than a normal fit person. I could have sworn with the amount of damage he caused...

He looked around for a long moment, not seeing me anywhere, before grabbing his walkie-talkie. “The brat’s scampered off, let's go!”

There was a commotion of noise from the vault. My chance to stop them was slipping by, I had to move. I leapt forward, grabbing at his helmet while at the same moment kneeing the invisible goon in the groin. The goon crumpled in on himself and I pushed him down into the ground, smothering him in webs in the same moment. There, that should do it. Even I wasn’t strong enough to break fresh webbing, and I was pretty strong. He should be out of the fight.

I took a deep breath and let the camouflage seep away. I stretched, ignoring the familiar ache from camouflaging. This wasn’t over, clearly. There were other people hanging around stealing stuff. But I had a moment to spare, it was fine.

When I skidded to a stop in front of the entrance to the vault, I immediately found twenty or so men holding bags overflowing with cash and gold. They were all wearing similar gear to the invisible goon, creepy owl eyes and all. “Seriously, guys, did you have to be so stereotypical?” I complained.

One of them made a mad dash, probably to try and get out of here, or attack me. Either way, I thwipped a big spider web to cover the entrance, blocking their escape route. With five of those webs in place, there was no way they were getting out until the police got here.

There was some pretty loud cursing, one guy got himself stuck in the webs and another threw his bag down hard. I pointedly ignored them. I made my way towards the door to see where the police were at when the invisible goon piped up. “Don’t you even want to know where I got my powers, twerp?”

I paused mid-step and folded my arms. “Uh, wasn’t really thinking of that. Why? Should I want to know?”

I couldn’t see the guys face, but I could hear the thick, smug grin as he said, “Oh, you really do. I’ve got you to thank, after all.”

A shiver went up my spine. I swallowed. So the scientists had been able to do it, even without my oh-so-precious blood. They had been lying to me. “So, they figured out my powers, huh?”

“Oh, more than that. We know everything there is to know about you. We didn’t even need your blood, the DNA you left scattered everywhere was enough for us. You really should be more careful with these types of things,” he said, turning his head towards me. The effectiveness of his intimidation was somewhat taken away by the fact he looked like a turtle.

I shrugged like I didn’t care, starting forward again. “Couldn’t really do that with the whole kidnapping thing. Hope your jail cell is nice and cold!”

“Don’t you want to know who I’m with?” the invisible goon demanded.

I frowned, stopping again. “Do you want me to interrogate you? Because you’re basically doing the job for me, you know.”

He laughed like I had just told him the funniest joke. “Even if you know our name, you’ll never be able to stop us. Even Mr. Fisk is powerless against us.”

“Huh, well that takes away my first guess of who’s behind this. But seriously, stop with the ‘he-said, she-said. What are you called?” I asked. At least when I had nightmares about all this later, it would be convenient to know what my enemies were called.

“The Owls,” he declared.

I snorted, “Yeah, I could have guessed that. Your costume department did a pretty good job on that front.” I could see red and blue flashing lights at the entrance and two figures moving towards the bank. “Anyway, I have better things to do than talk to you. Bye.”

I strolled up to the policemen. One of them, at the sight of me, put his gun away and tipped his hat. “Miles.”

“I’m on the job, fellas, you can call me Spidey, Spider-Man, Spectacular, or all of the above.” I motioned to the chaos inside. “Sorry about the desks, the invisible guy didn’t like my attitude much.”

“I’m sure you did your best son. Can you help us clear the webbing so we can jail these folks?” the second policeman asked.

“Uh, yeah, sure. There are about twenty guys in the vault, and one super-powered, invisible, strong guy wrapped up in webs. You might want to call a couple more guys down,” I said, rubbing absently at my neck.

“We’ll do that. You happy to give a statement on what happened?” the first one asked, gesturing to his colleague to go call some backup.

“Yeah, sure thing. Happy to be of service.” I said.

If I still felt off balance by my DNA being in the hands of the enemy, well, that was a freak out for when I got home. Not now, I still had a job to do.


 

A couple of hours later, I was sitting on a rooftop with a taco in one hand, phone in the other, and a police scanner quietly murmuring in the background. Turns out there was, in fact, an app for that.

It would feel nicer, though, if it wasn't for the raging anxiety making my hands shake.

Me : Ganke, I’m serious, I don’t know what to do. Theres another Kingpin situation going down and they’ve got my super powers!!

Ganke : Well, you only mentioned the guy being invisible and having super strength. Maybe they have some but not all of them?

Me : Yeah, but even one of my powers could chaos a lot of damage

Me : Like, imagine my villains all having my spider-sense

Me : How would I beat them then?!

Ganke : Idk, but you have spider-sense too, so at least it would be a fair battle?

Me : It’s not fair if they have more years of experience fighting than I do!!

Ganke : Ah, right

Ganke : What are all your powers anyway?

Me : Spider-sense, super strength, venom strike, camouflage, I’m really bendy which is cool and sticking to stuff

Me : Oh and I heal super fast

Super healing had saved my butt more times than I could say. It was so useful. Except for the metabolism which came with it.

Ganke : Neat

Me : I might get more, you never know

Ganke : More? You’ve had your powers for like a year and a half dude. Shouldn’t you know all your powers by now?

Me : Yeah, but I’m also a growing teenage boy

Me : And I haven’t been in half as many fights as Peter, or even like a fraction

Me : So, maybe I’ll develop one in my ‘hour of need’

Ganke : Well, if you do you have to tell me straight away

Me : Yeah, yeah

Ganke : I want to know before the masses!!

Me : I might not get the chance, depending on how I get them

Me : But anyway, new superpowers or not, VILLAINS HAVE MY SUPER POWERS

Ganke : Right, that thing

Ganke : Whats your plan of attack?

Me : I was hoping you had some ideas

Ganke : Well, do you still not know who the scientists who got your DNA are?

Me : Nope, I was avoiding that area of Brooklyn like the plague tbh

Ganke : Well, then its obvious!

Ganke : Go investigate dude! If you know the enemy, you might be able to get more intel

Me : You do know this isn’t a spy movie. “Intel”

Me : You’re sure a nerd

Ganke : Yes I am

Me : But I already know who it was

Me : The Owls

Ganke : Huh?

Me : I know, never heard of them either. I think they’re trying to be the new Kingpin or whatever

Ganke : But what if they’re getting the DNA from some other organisation?

Me : …

Me : Well, that’ll be even worse

Ganke : If you go investigate, you’ll find out!

Me : I’ll do that

Me : After I’ve finished my taco

Ganke : You got tacos??

Me : Yep

Me : From taco bell too

Ganke : Lucky! Now you’ve made me hungry :(

Me : Sounds like a you problem

Me : Alright, I’ll tell you how it goes

Ganke : Good luck dude

I turned my phone off and stuffed it in my suits nifty pockets. I was so glad Aunt May had reminded me about pockets when we made this spare suit a couple of months before my kidnapping. They were super useful.

I even put in extra padding around it so my super activities wouldn’t break things, like, instantly.

I swallowed the last bite and crumpled up the wrapper. I really, really didn’t want to go back there. But the bad guys had my DNA, and this was probably urgent enough for me to go back to that place.

Life, why do you have to be like this? I just wanted to never go back there, ever, in my whole entire life. It wasn’t much to ask, but apparently, I can’t have nice things.

Chapter Text

I had been a bit disorientated at the time, so you couldn’t blame me for not noticing these things. But where my kidnappers had kept me was not only an “abandoned warehouse,” it was situated just by the docks. Could they have been more stereotypical? It was almost insulting at this point. They couldn’t have put themselves in the basement of a tall building or something? At least that would spice things up a bit.

The warehouse was shrouded in darkness; the only thing lighting it up at all was the street light. It looked like it might have been an old office building with a warehouse section in its prime, if the glass dome leading on to an open floor plan was any indication.

So here I was, sitting on the rooftop opposite the warehouse, wondering how the hell my life ended up like this.

I scrubbed at my eyes with the heel of my hand. I did not want to do this, at all! Stupid goons stealing my stupid powers, now I had to go back to this stupid place that, y’know, traumatized me.

It wasn’t going to get any easier the longer I waited. Besides, I only had about two hours before my curfew kicked in. Even though it was a weekend. Maybe I should ask for my curfew to be extended to two AM on Saturdays…

The warehouse stood as silently as it had ten minutes ago, when I got here. I still had not investigated, and time was ticking. Besides, it looked completely abandoned. There was no way I would find anything interesting, at all. Just dust and mice in every nook and cranny. Interesting to, I don’t know, a scientist studying dead mice but not a spider.

I stood up, aiming a webshooter. Fine! Fine, world! I’ll do it! This whole thing was stupid anyways!

I thwipped a web and swung myself onto the rooftop. This building was only like four stories high anyway. So at least it shouldn’t take too long to find out if there was anything in this damn place. Which there wouldn’t be, obviously.

I decided to go through the offices first, since the warehouse section looked completely dead.

I crawled around until I found a window leading into an office. The window was shut tight, but after some fiddling around I got tired and just pulled on it until the lock snapped. Better.

I took one step, then two, inside. The dust crept up my nose and I sneezed. Gross... Now there was snot covering the inside of my mask.

I reluctantly pulled it off and just stuffed it in my pocket, grovelling the whole way. I couldn’t be bothered cleaning it up. What difference would it make anyway? People knew my identity. And I wanted to be in and out of here as quickly as possible and cleaning the mask would take like ten minutes, at least . That was ten minutes too long .

I crept over to the desk and looked inside the first drawer. Empty. Next one? Empty. The one to the side? You guessed it! Empty.

It looked like  the police had taken away a lot of the evidence. Which made sense. Maybe I would ask Dad about all that later, in the meantime, maybe there might have been something they had missed…

I crept over to the door and paused. No sound besides a small whirring - like electricity going into a lightbulb. I opened the door and crept out into the hallway. There were two doors to my left, and the hallway continued around the corner to my right.

Well, if I wanted to be thorough, I had to go door to door.

Except, same as the last office, there was nothing but spiders and dust. I went down the hallway and skipped the next few rooms that looked just as bland. The whole dang floor was this way. It felt like a creepy ghost town.

Next floor down? The same, except this time I found one folder sitting on a random desk. I frowned, that was new. I wandered into the stale office and picked it up. CLASSIFIED was stamped on the front, and I snorted. Ah yes, so classified that some random thief can just pick it up.

I flicked it open and found blueprints for some sort of belt. I frowned, and flicked to the next page. Lines upon lines of text, half of them  blacked out with ink.

I pulled my phone out and shone it on the page. Blah blah, distorting, blah blah, air, blah blah, sciency words. After a quick skim, I decided to try something. I could hardly tell what this thing was since half the documented was inked out.

I picked up the page and held it up in midair, shining the light of my phone through the page.

Lo and behold, with some light I could make out what was under the blacked out parts. I was a genius!

And right at the top, in big, bold lettering, was OWL. Ah, never mind that celebration. I would never look at Owls the same way after today, especially since one was apparently organizing crime.

I couldn’t get a picture of the page without losing the lettering underneath, unfortunately. That would have been easier than hauling this clunky folder around with me while I did my Spider-Man thing. I would just have to take it home with me and type it out so I wouldn’t lose it. I didn’t have a big enough pocket for this folder, so I made a quick backpack out of webs. There, that should do. If I pick anything else up that’ll-

Bang!

I was on the ceiling before you could say ‘spidey.’ Or maybe cat, because I felt like a cat with a poofy tail.

“Owl wants more? What else could he possibly want?” one voice said frustratedly. Why were there people in this warehouse? It was supposed to be abandoned!

Wait, did they just say Owl? Aw, nuts.

“He wants the big guns, and he’s it. Why’s he refusing in the first place? He’ll get a big paycheck,” a second voice said, sounding annoyed. It sounded like they were getting closer. Where could I hide? What if they walked in here?

The first person sighed. “Owl said something about how the spider is fifteen and morals . If only we had approached him a couple months earlier, before this whole identity thing.”

Ah, so they were talking about me. Not reassuring. I didn’t like being the news of the town around bad guys. And they were talking about some other guy, too. “The big guns” didn’t sound like a good time for me. I should probably be worried about it...

The footsteps kept on getting closer, and closer.

“Have you seen the kid’s Instagram? What a riot. It’s like he thinks he has fans or something.” They both laughed. Ouch. I didn’t come here to be roasted, but I needed some ice for that burn.

The door creaked open, and the figures walked in. By then, I was a literal spider in the corner. And also camouflaged for good measure. I did not want to be spotted.

Down side? I didn’t know how long they would talk. And camouflaging came with a big down side. It was like swimming in a pool, and ducking under the water. The longer you held your breath, the more you wanted to come up for air. Eventually, you ran out of breath and are had to come back up for air - or die. So, when I’m invisible my body tingles, then burns, then I’m in agonizing pain and forced to stop camouflaging. I didn’t know what would happen if I kept on camouflaging.

Five minutes was the point where my body went from burning to full blown pain. Yes, I had experimented extensively in the past year. It had used to be three minutes, but the longer I trained myself, the longer I could do it.

But if one of them sitting down in the desk was any measure, this would take longer than five minutes. I would need to figure out a way out of here before my time was up, or get a better hiding spot.

“I could have sworn I left the folder on my desk,” the first voice, who I decided could be desk girl, muttered. To her credit, she had left it there, but now a certain Spidey had it. If only she knew it was only two meters away, hanging in the corner. She rolled her eyes and sat back. “No matter. We’ll print out a new copy for you on your way out. We have an arsenal of new inventions from Alchemax’s special divisions that I’m sure will... entice him.”

Wait, Alchemax? I thought this was just OWL? Damnit! Ganke had been right!

“There’s still the morals thing,” second voice/standing guy said, folding his arms.

“He’s useful to us dead and alive. Besides, I’m sure Owl isn’t the only one who wants a chunk out of the kid. I hear some big name is about to announce something,” desk girl chuckled.

“But Owl gets first meat, get it? You Alchemax crew get him second. Is that clear?” standing guy said, leaning close and stabbing his finger at her. It was not effective, if the unamused look was anything to go by.

“Yeah, yeah. Now scram, we’ve got work to do here,” desk girl said dismissively. Standing guy stood back up, straightened his suit and walked out.

And he left the door open, score!

I was almost out the door when the lady began muttering to herself, “Alchemax is going to get so rich from both of their contributions. And they don’t even know they’re both being double crossed. Hilarious.”

I frowned. Ok… That sounded ominous. But my five minutes were almost up, I had to keep going anyway.

I crept into the hallway and spotted a convenient janitor's closet. I scrambled into it and slammed the door shut behind me. I sank to the ground, blocking the door with my body as I did so. I slowly let the camouflage seep away, breathing out a sigh of relief.

Ok, so. Owl was working with Alchemax, still not sure what for. Alchemax wants my body, dead or alive, for mysterious science purposes. One bad guy who sounded like a big threat didn’t want to fight me because I was a minor - which brought into question what they would have done if my secret identity hadn’t been revealed. And on top of all of that, some other bad guy was about to make a big announcement.

My work was so cut out for me. I hadn’t even seen where the science section of this place was. Maybe they had hidden it all underground. I wouldn’t even be surprised at this point if they had.

Groan. I felt like I was already ten feet under, struggling to stay afloat.

But, I’m Spider-Man. And Spider-Man fights ten bad guys at once if he has to. It’s fine, I’ll be fine!

Yeah, no, not even I could convince myself of that. I needed major upgrades, stat.

I stood back out, peeking out into the corridor. It was still blackout-dark, and I couldn’t see anyone. But now that I knew there were people around, I couldn’t take the risk. I would have to camouflage the rest of the way around this place if I wanted to investigate more.

Why did I think this would be easy? The easiest plans always fall to pieces the quickest. Especially when you’re Spider-Man.

Unfortunately, the rest of the floor was much the same. Nothing anywhere. The first floor though? Well, that’s where things got interesting.

Or, well, worse. Worse was a much better way to think about it.

Because I found my chains, still lazily chucked on the ground, in the room I had been kidnapped in. I would know those twenty-nine roof tiles anywhere.

I looked around, checking for cameras, checking outside, checking my spider-sense. No one, good. I shut the door and webbed it for good measure.

It felt… really weird to be back in here. I didn’t feel too upset either. I would have thought I would have, but instead I just felt, well, normal.

I picked up the remainder of one of the leg metal bar things. I tossed it up in the air and caught it. Huh, it was sorta heavy, but not too heavy. I grabbed it and tried to bend it. Nope, nope, hey wait! It budged.

I frowned and looked at the wall, where the arm chains had been attached to. If I could bend it now, why couldn’t I have when I first got captured? Did they weaken me somehow? It wasn’t like I had been in any major battles before I got captured. It had been a really normal day, actually.

I hesitated, then threw it in my web backpack. And then I got all the rest, too. Who cares if they figured out that I had come by? As long as they didn’t know right this second.

And for that matter, I did want to see why my spider-sense had been so insistent on the fact that ‘imminent doom came if you break the chains.’

I approached the wall slowly. It looked like any other brick wall. Just a normal, everyday brick wall. The only difference was, well, there was a chain drilled into it.

Ok, let’s see. I grabbed the broken ends and gave it a tug. Why was there nothing? Not even a hint!

It made no sense! I did it again and achieved the same results.

I rubbed at my eyes tiredly. I didn’t know what to do. If my spider-sense was lying to me, the one thing that had been the most trustworthy of any of my senses ever, then what could I trust?

There was a weird whooshing noise outside the door and I paused. I walked over to the door and peeked out. There was a light bathing the warehouse in light. I hastily dripped some solvent on the webs to loosen them up before opening the door and crawling out onto the ceiling, hurrying to see what was happening.

Sure enough, there was a elevator sticking out of the floor. I could have sworn there hadn’t been one there before. Before I could even think about racing over to tag along with it, it disappeared under the floor again, with two people inside.

I hit the ground running, and camouflaged. I kneeled over the spot they had disappeared. If I hadn’t seen it for myself, there would have been no way I could have guessed that there was anything interesting under this concrete floor.

But, if there’s an elevator. There’s always a set of stairs…

I looked around, trying to spot any cracks in the concrete, or a set of normal stairs.

And I was right- there was a stairway just behind me. Score!

I ran over, quickly opened it and leaned over the guardrails, checking how far it went down. …It was pretty far down, way too far for any normal human to ever consider walking up and down these bad boys every day. Maybe fifty stories down if I was guessing correctly?

At moments like these, I was grateful for my webshooters. One web and a steep drop later, I was at ground level. Ground level? Below ground level. Floor zero? That sounded better, and more accurate.

I slowly walked forward. There was light streaming out from under the door, and the sounds of people milling about and discussing something. I swallowed nervously. If I got in over my head, I wouldn’t be able to get out all that easily- only two exits that I knew of. But it would be fine. I was just a regular Spider-Man investigating Alchemax which just happened to want to experiment on me. And kill me, apparently. It was all fine!

I cracked the door open. There were people bustling around everywhere in science coats. Looking in microscopes, writing on notepads, dripping droplets into test tubes. And at the centre of it all, was a man. In a tube, hands and arms bound, half naked.

“You sure this is going to work?” the man asked, his voice echoing out of speakers.

One of the scientists standing by the tube nodded. “Oh yes, yes. You’ll be the perfect soldier in no time. Owlsley will be very pleased with you.”

The man didn’t look any less nervous, but he did smile anyway. “Then what’s the hold-up? Get it going!”

The scientist made a gesture and the already very bright room lit up almost blindly so, forcing me to block my eyes.

Then the screaming started.

I was locked in place, wanting to run, wanting to help, scared of what would happen if I failed. When I looked back at this moment, I would hate myself for not moving when I should have.

An agonizing ten seconds passed. Slow, tortuous, seconds with the screaming set as the terrifying background noise. It tapered off, and then all of a sudden he was silent. The light melted away and in his place was a weird, spider-like, contorted person.

Without a care in the world, the scientist gestured for the glass tube to be lifted. She poked him with a metal stick, then grimaced. He still didn’t move. Dead. “Get another one in here,” she ordered.

My next move was either my most selfless, or stupid. You decide.

Because I shot forward like a bullet, almost knocking over five scientists in the process, grabbed at the control panel and venom-blasted it to hell and back.

Even I had barely had time to react to my own actions, because by the time I had finished the strike, I realised just how surrounded I was. By scientists, who had now pulled out guns. And also the lights had gone out because of the overload of power.

“Uh, hey everyone?” I murmured. But I might as well have shouted for the way it echoed throughout the place, breaking the silence.

The room lit up with bullets.

Chapter Text

“You guys!” Dodge ten bullets, watch five guys get hit and go down, web another one. “Really don’t!” Jump onto the wall, spring back and kick a guy in the face before twirling back into the air. “Like me!”

I was blaming this all on Ganke. I mean, I had come down here when I knew high tech scientist guys meant high tech guns and also they wanted to experiment on me. Which meant I was to blame. But blaming Ganke was more fun.

If it wasn’t for the whole ‘I really don’t want to get hit by bullets’ thing, I would have almost enjoyed the light show. They were like little lasers, dancing around with me. Following me, moving with me, it was kind of pretty!

Alas, I had to dodge them and all. So I wouldn’t die and everything.

The one upside was, with it so dark, I was able to jump around the room and in front of important looking things without anyone getting in my way. I didn’t even need to venom strike anything, the scientists were doing that job for me! Honestly, for genius scientists, it was very one-track-minded of them.

“I would!” Slide under a desk, kick a guy in the shins and crush the gun before jumping away. “Love to stay!” Gunk up another scientists gun with some web. “But!” Jump onto the ceiling and roll along, narrowly avoiding being littered with holes. “I would like to live!”

I webbed the stairways door open a crack and dived for it, squeezing myself into the narrow entrance. I kinda felt like I was doing an Indiana Jones here! I hit the ground hard, sliding along on the tiled floor. Ouch, rug burn! I didn’t get a chance to enjoy my victory because the bullets immediately followed me in.

I got to my feet and was almost out of the way when a lucky stray bullet nearly got me in the shoulder. I dodged its counterpart, which in the scheme of things was way off. I jumped onto the rail of the stairs.

“Adios!” I yelled, then aimed high and thwipped a web. I said it once, I’ll say it again. Webs are so convenient! I quickly climbed the web rope, leaving behind the scientists in the dark.

Good luck to them - climbing up seventy flights of stairs in the dark didn’t sound fun.

When I reached the top and climbed back out into the warehouse, I had never been so happy to see the night sky as I had now. Sweet, sweet freedom! I ran over to the nearest window and crashed through it, webbing off into the night.

I didn’t let myself stop until I was halfway home. The further away I was, the less chance they had of getting me again. I thwipped one last web and let myself slump onto a building.

I was never going to listen to Ganke again, I swear.

I pulled out my phone and gave him a call.

Ring, ring. Ring, ring. I impatiently tapped my feet, then sat down with my back against the rails. Ring, ring. Ring, ring.

“Miles?” he mumbled, sounding like he had just gotten out of bed.

“Just for the record, I’m never taking your suggestions again,” I grumbled.

“Huh? Wha- oh, the investigating thing,” he said after yawning. “Right, right. How’d that go for you?”

“Well, I’m in one piece so that’s the upside!” I sighed. “But, uh, looks like there’s more than just one bad guy now.”

“There’s always more than one bad guy. But can any of this wait until tomorrow? It’s like three am dude,” he yawned again for good measure, while I froze up.

“Wait, three am? What is the time, Ganke?” I stressed.

There was a small commotion in the background before he finally replied, “two thirty-seven, why?”

“You go back to sleep, I, uh, well I’m in so much trouble. See you tomorrow dude!” I quickly said, barely giving him time to reply before hanging up. I was so dead. Nevermind that Alchemax wanted to kill me, Mom and Dad would make my death so much worse than anything they could come up with!

I jerked forward, ready to swing back home, but my left arm collapsed by my side in protest. It felt like it had been lit on fire! I bit down on a yelp, falling forward.

I grabbed at my shoulder, which only seemed to make the pain worse. Let’s not do that. I drew my hand back and found it covered with blood.

Ah, right. That would… would explain it. I guess a lucky bullet had gotten me after all. I looked over and found a whole chunk of my shoulder bloody. I could even see some muscle under that blood, which was a whole ‘nother level of gross. Luckily it didn’t seem too deep, more like it had skimmed past me.

I grabbed my mask from my pocket, turned it inside out so the sneezed-on side was on the outside and tore a line through it. I then tightly wrapped it around my shoulder and secured it with several thick layers of webbing.

There, that should keep the blood inside me - where it was supposed to be in the first place. I stood back up, wiping my blood off on my legs. Those first aid classes were really coming in handy.

At least this wound backed up my story? There was no way they could be angry at me for something like this.

But that did leave one question. Could I swing one-handed the rest of the way home?

I rolled my one good shoulder, stretching it out. I bounced on the balls of my feet. I mean, I was Spider-Man, I could do whatever a spider can!

I stepped onto the ledge and thwipped my first web. It hit the building over with a thunk.

Let’s go!

I dropped into the open air, arching into my first swing. I took the swing the whole way forward before thwipping my next web. Huh, that was easier than I thought it would be! Maybe I should practice this some more?

When I got home, I wasn’t as successful, however. I crept in through my open window and onto my bed. I reached over and turned my bedside light on.

Nope, parents weren’t hanging around waiting to tell me off for being home late. Score! I flicked my backpack over to the side to look after later.

I slithered out of bed and tiptoed into the bathroom, carefully pulling out the med kit that was built for war. Literally. We had upgraded since the reveal, and Mom had been very insistent on explaining each part to me. And then making me promise to always tell her about my injuries ten times over so she could treat me.

I mean, technically I would tell her in the morning after it had healed some more. So she wouldn’t eat a brick in worry. Win-win all around!

Except, either she had gained super hearing or had set some sort of trap. As soon as I clicked it open, I heard her door open and stomp into the bathroom.

“Miles Morales, what are you doing?” she demanded, flicking the bathroom light on.

I looked between her and the med-kit, then back to her. “Uh, studying?”

She gave me a Look and I quickly withered under it. “Ok, so, uh, maybe I got shot. Or something.”

“Ay, Mr. Morales! ¿Dónde te duele? Show me right this instant,” she growled, bending down to get at my level while I unwrapped my web-bandage. It hurt just as much as when I had first touched, but I did my best to not let it show on my face.

She tsked at the sight of it, immediately washing her hands and getting ready to treat me. “What did you get up to, huh? You know you need to be more careful.” She examined my wound for a brief moment before nodding to herself. “Take off your shirt and we’ll give that a wash.”

I carefully pulled it off and set it aside. I resisted the urge to sigh at the tattered shoulder, I would need to stitch the costume back up. Again. “It’s a miracle I’m not littered with holes, really,” I said, standing up and leaning over the sink so she could get at it. She turned the tap on and gently began washing it. “There were like, I dunno, fifty-odd scientists shooting at me?”

When I risked a glance at her, she was frowning. “Scientists? I think you’ll need to start from the top, hijo .”

“Well, I stopped a bank robbery. That was kinda cool. But, uh, one of the guys had some of my powers. And he told me was with this group called The OWLs?” I began.

“The OWLs? What an odd choice. Owls aren’t all that scary,” she murmured, happy with the wash and grabbed a towel, some disinfectant and a roll of bandages. She hesitated. “You know your healing better than I do. How well will this be healed by morning?”

I shrugged my good shoulder. “Probably scabbed over and beginning to scar over. It wasn’t like I got shot in the stomach or something, it just skimmed me.”

Somehow, her frown grew deeper. “Small miracles, I suppose. I guess it won’t need stitches. You really shouldn’t be fighting that many people at once.”

I chuckled. “Oh I know, but things happened.”

“Right, continue your story,” she said, now happy with how dry it was and started to disinfect it. I grimaced at the sting.

“Well, I talked with Ganke cause I didn’t know how they got my powers so I went back to the place I was kidnapped.” I didn’t miss her small flinch. “I didn’t think anyone would be there, but, well. There were a bunch of scientists. Also, I overheard that there’s some guy they’re trying to hire to, uh, stop me, and some other dude is going to make an announcement. Anyway, I found them doing some bad science stuff in the basement of the place and so I shut it down and they weren’t very happy with me for that. Then I got shot, the end.”

Just enough information for her to feel informed, but less than a full version, because I really didn’t want to think about that guy in the tube. Ever. Maybe I should look into a therapist sometime…

She had finished wrapping me up by then. She gave it a small tug and seemed satisfied. “Head to bed, Miles, we’ll talk more in the morning.”

I smiled and gave her a hug. “Thanks, Mom.”

She passed me some panadol, too. “And take some of this. Oh, and you’re banned from Spider-Man until it’s healed.”

“Wha- But, Mom!” I protested, jaw-dropping.

“But nothing, Miles! Mirá- I see no alien invasion, do you?” She asked, pointing out the window.

Stupid clause in the stupid agreement. I had Spider-Manned with so much worse before. “...Fine.”

She kissed my cheek before heading off to bed. I gave in and went to bed, too. She hadn’t even mentioned the fact I had missed curfew, either, so at least there had been one upside?


 

Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping! Ping!

I rolled over, grabbing my pillow and stuffing it over my ears, groaning. Ping! Ping! Ping! I slapped my phone and brought it over, muting the phone. I blearily looked at the time. Six AM? It was a Sunday! Wake me up at noon, not this ungodly hour.

I reluctantly opened my phone and had a look at my phone messages. Ganke, Gwen and Kevin. Did someone die? Is this why everyone’s pestering me? I clicked on Ganke’s first.

Ganke: Dude!! Check the news!! Someone’s impersonating you!!

I blinked slowly. Um, what? Ok, I guess. I went into my news app.

Spider-Man Turned Crook! - Daily Bugle

I squinted at the screen. Yeah, no, I’m pretty sure I didn’t do anything to warrant Daily Bugle throwing a fit. I mean, they threw a fit every day anyway, but not a fit about me. I sat up, way more alert than I had been moments before.

I clicked in, skim reading. Bank robbery at three am, person dressed as me in costume throwing a bag over his shoulder and running off. Eyewitnesses saying he didn’t immediately respond to Miles, police at scene confused.

I immediately jumped on Instagram. Gotta shoot this down quickly. I took a selfie of me wrapped up in the bandage and half awake.

Apparently, I’m robbing banks now? Even tho I’m a good guy? Even tho I’ve been banned from spiderman till this bad boy heals? And also I was getting stitched up at three am?

Honestly, get good imposter

#fakenews #spiderman2.0

There was an immediate flood of likes and comments, but I ignored them in favour of looking at the message from Gwen and Kevin, and also replying to Ganke.

Me: Ganke, it was bound to happen some time since I’m just that cool

I saw him start typing but flicked over to Gwen.

Gwen: They couldn’t even get your spider right, yours are always clearly spray painted and his looks like he printed it cheaply from China

I snorted.

Me: You can never beat the original. Honestly, no taste this dude

And then Kevin.

Kevin: Did you really rob a bank??

The faith Kevin has in me is astounding. My smile fell away.

Me: Why would I? It would just bring a bad rep dude

Gankes message had finally come through.

Ganke: You? Cool? Lmao

Good ol Ganke, always making me grin.

Me: ouch, I need some ice for that burn

I rolled out of bed and went into the kitchen, where I found both Mom and Dad watching a news broadcast with frowns on their faces. One look and I realised they were watching about my apparent robbery.

“You guys don’t believe I would have robbed a bank, do you?” I asked, pulling out a stool and sitting down.

Dad shook his head, looking grave. “No, but an impersonator with the ability to mimic your abilities so well…”

I sighed. “Yeah, not so good. I mean, I just don’t get why they would bother. Everyone knows who I am, it's not like I’m some mystery man who might have done that.”

“Ruin your reputation? Prove a point? You’ve gotta be careful out there Miles, people like this will do anything to get what they want,” he said, putting a hand on top of mine and lightly squeezing.

I nodded, “Yeah, I know. I’m being careful.” Mom looked over her shoulder and gave me a Look. I sheepishly grinned. “Hey, when playing dodgeball with bullets sometimes you can’t avoid getting hit.”

Dad frowned at us. “Are you hurt?”

I sighed an even bigger sigh. “It’s not that big of a deal. The bullet only skimmed past me. It’s not like it hit me in the stomach or anything.”

He crossed his arms, raising an eyebrow at me. I reluctantly pulled off my shirt so he could have a look. He examined it for a moment before shaking his head. “‘Only skimmed past,’ you’ve got some guts, Miles.”

I shrugged. “Seriously, it's fine. I’ve gotten way worse.”

“No Spider-Man until it heals, young man,” he said.

I put my hands up in surrender, ignoring the small jolt of pain it earned me. “Mom already gave me that lecture.”

She nodded. “Yes, I did. Now, I’ve got work today, unfortunately, and so does your father. Will you be fine here on your own?”

I grinned. “Of course! I’ll make sure to burn the house down while you’re out.”

Dad chuckled as he went back to their bedroom to continue to get ready. Mom kissed my forehead and followed him. I turned back to the TV.

“A post on Miles Morales’s - the new Spider-Man’s - Instagram has just come through. He denies his involvement and further went on to say that he was already grounded from Spider-Man due to an injury. He did not clarify how he received the injury, but in this video-” they started playing back video of the bank robbery. I peered closer. Gwen was right, this guy probably had gotten the costume from China! “-it is clear that the criminal is not inhibited by any shoulder injuries.”

The news cut in half so the woman on site and the man at the news desk were both on screen. The man at the news desk started talking. “Is there any evidence for where Miles was at the time of the robbery, any photo proof?”

“Yes. A user on Twitter by the username @gifnotjif2001 posted a picture which, though not completely clear, does show Miles ten minutes before the robbery swinging with one arm and looks to have some sort of temporary wrapping around his shoulder. This picture was claimed to be taken at a location halfway across town from the bank,” the woman said.

“Is there any possibility that he could have reached the bank before the robbery started?”

“As far as we know, no,” she stated.

The man nodded. “Thank you, Jane.”

“Thank you, Jeff.”

The screen shifted back to just Jeff. He shifted and another news segment began. I tuned it out.

A huge smile spread across my face. Huh, maybe this whole identity revealed thing wasn’t so bad. People had actually jumped to my defence? Which was super cool. Well, except for the Daily Bugle. But that was the Daily Bugle for you.

Then I realised, there was still the matter of someone impersonating me. The thought wiped the smile off of my face pretty quickly. Even worse, I couldn’t even go investigate! I wasn’t allowed to be Spider-Man.

I leaned my head on my fist, thinking. Well… I wasn’t allowed to be Spider-Man. They never said anything about plain ol’ Miles, now did they?

Chapter Text

It felt like it had been forever since I had been on the subway. Probably a couple days before I was kidnapped, and that had been about six weeks ago now.

Either way, with my hoodie pulled on tight and head bent over a phone, I felt very claustrophobic. Ah, New York, gotta love your trains.

My spider-sense tingled down my spine. Someone was watching me. I looked to the side and found a little kid, maybe five or six, hugging a black and red spider-man plush and staring at me with wide eyes.

I lifted a finger and pressed it against my lips, smiling. She nodded like she was in a daze. I kept my head down, but while looking in her direction, I rolled a bit of spider-web into the size and shape of a tennis ball. I gestured for her to catch it, and when she held her hands out expectedly, I gently chucked it in her direction.

She marveled at it, squishing it, rolling it. She looked back up at me and mouthed thank you . I grinned and mouthed back you’re welcome .

The train screeched to a halt, tilting everyone as it braked. The doors opened and I hurried out, grabbing the top of my hoodie to keep it firmly on. I practically ran up the stairs.

Then I was out onto the street. I looked around. It seemed different from the ground.It was so much easier to get around with a bird's-eye perspective, but alas, I was banned.

After getting myself orientated, I made my way towards the bank. I felt lucky that no one recognised me, but then again, would anyone even care? They probably just wanted to see me with my mask on.

Less than ten minutes later I was in front of the bank. Police were still milling around, and a couple of news cameras too. Neat. I tipped my hoodie back and approached the first police officer.

“Hey officer, how’s it going?” I said casually, peering past the police officer.

Said police officer had been nursing a coffee, but barely started at the sudden sight of me. “Spidey? Thought you were injured?”

I moved my clothes aside so he could get a peek at the wrappings. “Yeah, I am. Not allowed to be Spider-Man, but they never said anything about Miles,” I said with a cheeky grin.

He snorted, “Clever kid. You here to find out more about your imposter?”

“What, you think I’m just here to get arrested?” I grinned, folding my arms and jutting my hips out.

He raised a singular eyebrow. “What an honorable decision. Nah kid, evidence is stacked in your favor. I wouldn’t worry about it too much.”

“Ah, ok, that's good. Do you have any leads?” I asked.

He shook his head. He hesitated a moment before he said, “Nope, sorry, kid. Whoever was doing it was pretty advanced to be able to replicate your powers as closely as they did. They didn’t leave many clues for us either. Sad to say, but I don’t think we’ll find out who did this.” He leaned in further. “I’m only telling you this cause you’re Spider-Man and I know your Dad is on the force. So keep this information on the downlow, yeah?

I frowned, “Surely there's some way…”

He shrugged, “Believe me, kid, we’re trying our best. But there's only so much we can do. When you’re allowed to be Spidey again, you might be able to find more clues than we can.”

I thought for a moment. “Do you think I could take a look at the scene? You can lead me around and everything, I won’t mind.”

He seemed to think about that before calling out to one of the other policemen. “Yo Dave, Miles here wants to have a look around.”

Dave came over. “Are we even allowed to do that?”

“He’s on our suspects list, but it’s Spidey. I’m sure we can cut past protocol just this once,” the cool policeman said.

That reminded me. “What's your name by the way?”

“Mark,” he replied.

Dave talked briefly with some other police officer before gesturing us over to the tape. “Come on through.”

I stepped under the tape, following the two officers into the building. There were some glass shards littered around the place, and the vault’s door was ripped clear off the wall and onto the ground. If you ignored that, the place looked fairly fancy and nice.

I stepped past Dave and Mike and approached the vault door. It looked like it had been blown off, or torn. I frowned, looking at the wall still attached to the door. I crouched down next to it. It looked like the colour had been tainted…

“Hey guys, take a look at this,” I said, gesturing them over. They came hovering behind my shoulder.

“What, did you find something?” Dave asked.

I nodded, “Look closely, I think they used small bombs to weaken the door. If they weakened it and then someone with a bit of strength pulled, well, down it goes.”

Mark squinted at where I was pointing. “I don’t see anything.”

I blinked. “Really? It looks pretty obvious to me.”

Dave shook his head. “I can’t see anything either.”

I frowned. “My eyes aren’t tricking me. The colour is off at these spots. I think you should get them checked out.”

Mark patted me on the shoulder. “Good job kid, you got us a lead.”


 

Monday morning was interesting, to say the least. Ganke, though? He was a lifesaver.

“Make way! Not-criminal-Spider-Man coming through! Yes his shoulder is injured! Move on people! Make way! Not-crim-” Ganke yelled like a mantra, dragging me along by my right arm. I couldn’t even complain, the looks everyone were giving the two of us were downright hilarious.

“You know you’re making a scene, right?” I whispered in his ear.

He snorted, “You’re already the talk of the school for like, the twentieth week in a row. You should be old news by now.”

“Oh, so when I say they’re going to eventually give up, I’m totally wrong, but now you’re saying it-”

“Yeah, I’m a hypocrite. But it’s kind of fun. Us two nerds, versus the world of highschool. One a superhero, one a super lego maker, together they fight crime!” He declared, karate chopping thin air.

I grabbed his hands, stopping him from embarrassing us further. “You’ve never helped me fight crime.”

Ganke gasped, mock hurt, “I told you go to that warehouse! Like, two days ago! And already you’ve forgotten. Oh, how could you-”

I pulled down my shirt, showing him the still wrapped wound. It was almost scarred over by this point, but Mom had insisted anyway. It did make for a dramatic reveal, according to the now staring students. They didn’t even try and hide their looks! “Yeah, and look where that got me genius.”

“Well, lets see. You grabbed those thingies so they can’t make any more super soldiers, got that blueprint, overheard about those two supervillains-” he started, numbering them off on his fingers.

I slapped a hand over his mouth, “Have you ever heard of the word ‘quiet’?” I hissed. “Ixnay on the superhero etails-day!”

He grabbed my hand and pulled it away from his face. “Yeah, yeah. You’ve gotta keep at least one aspect of your superhero life secret and what not. Come on, we’ve got physics first. Try not to show off your injury to the whole world.”

I flushed. “Ganke! I was not showing it off!”

“Keep telling yourself that!” he declared, starting forward again. I grumbled, but fell into step beside him.

We walked into class together and sat in our normal spot. I pulled out my notebook and a pen I had ‘borrowed’ from Ganke. It had me all over it. As in, the design was of my costume- except a cartoon- all over the body of the pen. I still had no idea how he had found it, but what was self-branding if not for wearing it around like a crown?

Miss Calleros approached our spot. “Mr Lee, Mr Morales, did you have a fun weekend?”

I resisted the urge to groan and hide under some blankets for the rest of the week until this whole thing blew over. “You could… say that.”

“I hope your injury won’t inhibit your learning,” she said, giving me a Look. What was with people and giving me the Look? I knew what I was doing!

I fiddled with my pen. “Trust me, it’s fine. It was hardly a scrape. I’ll be back to being Spider-Man, like, tomorrow. Shouldn’t you be starting the class?”

She folded her arms, her lips twitching up. “Don’t tell me how to do my own job, young man.” But, she did head up to the front where the screen was. “Alright class, lets begin.”

Ping! Ping!

Ganke and I both looked at our phones. The teacher also stopped and raised an eyebrow. I sheepishly shrugged, “I’ll be one moment.”

I walked into the hallway and closed the door behind me. Now, what’s got my phone pinging? I opened my phone up and went onto my news app. ‘New Challenger For Spider-Man,’ huh? Sounded like something urgent.

I skipped past the reporting to the video. Even from the still image it looked like it was set in Times Square. No point in waiting. I clicked play.

A man climbed up on top of one of the screens. He was wearing what looked like a lion themed suit. “Citizens of New York!” the guy shouted, though it sounded like he had hacked the speakers so everyone could hear him, “I, Kravinoff, have a challenge for the protector of the city, Spider-Man! I am the mightiest hunter in the world, and I have come to prove it! The hunt begins in a weeks time, starting from this very spot! If you win, New York territory is all yours. If I win, I hang your head on my wall next to my other hunts. If you refuse to participate, I will hunt down all your friends and family and hang them all on my wall.”

The cameraman zoomed on his face, letting me get a close up of his grinning face. “See you in a weeks time, arachnid.”

The video abruptly cut off, leaving the hallway so quiet I could have heard a pin drop. I clenched my webshooter, hidden under my jacket’s sleeves. This guy sounded insane! Who even was this Kravinoff guy?

I looked back in the classroom, then back down at my webshooter, then to my shoulder. Stupid injury! This guy was threatening everyone close to me and I just had to sit around? When was this video even filmed? Ten minutes ago? This guy could be long gone by now and I couldn’t do anything.

I restlessly began to pace. I knew this was going to happen! I knew it! This is why me and Peter and Gwen and all the other spider-people had a secret identity! Because things like this happened!

Oh, god, how would I even protect everyone? If he had a team of people like the OWL did then he could attack everyone before I even got to one of them. I had to take this guy on, but if he was really that confident as to not only challenge me, but make it a really public challenge, then maybe he could actually beat me.

What had he said would happen if I didn’t ‘join in the hunt’ or whatever? Oh yeah, hang my head on his wall like I was some sort of trophy !

I stopped pacing, instead leaning against the wall and burying my face in my hands. Why was everything happening now? Couldn’t have all these villains spread themselves around so I could take down one and then deal with the next?

I paused. Wait, how many was that now?

There was the Owl, but that was a whole gang of people. Then there’s Alchemax and their evil experiments, and also the fact that they want to kill me. That guy that has yet to show up and didn’t want to take me down because morals. This impersonator, and now this Kravinoff guy.

Laughter bubbled up inside my throat and I couldn’t stop it if I even tried. I laughed and I laughed and I laughed. It was all so funny. All these villains wanting to pick on me. Hilarious!

The classroom door creaked open and Miss Calleros peeked her head out. She looked me up and down, head still mostly buried in my hands, hunched in on myself and barely holding back my laughter. She frowned and came into the hallway, closing the door behind her.

“Are you okay?” She asked, folding her arms.

I shrugged, trying to give her a reassuring smile. It came out like a grimace. “Do you know how to take down a criminal empire, stop an impersonator and stop a super villain all at once? I could really use an instruction manual.”

She looked pretty sympathetic. “No. Have you tried talking to anyone who could help you?”

“I would like the spider-gang back,” I muttered.

“Pardon?”

I shook my head, “Never mind. I’ll, uh, go talk to some people after school. Sorry for interrupting your class and everything.”

She smiled, “Well, it’s not every day you have a superhero in your classroom. The class is just working on a worksheet at the moment, yours is on your desk.”

“Thanks miss,” I said, stuffing my phone back in my pocket and heading back into the classroom, Miss Calleros following close behind.


 

I was out of school faster than you could say ‘You’re Doomed’ at the end of the day. I stuck to the ‘No Spider-Man’ rule, as much as I hated it, and caught the train, then the bus towards Queens.

I didn’t even bother that hard with hiding my face, this time. I didn’t even bother with hiding in the corner. But I guess I had a determined enough look on my face because people stared, but didn’t comment or ask me about Spider-Man stuff.

Maybe I should use this look more often…

The downside of not being Spidey? It took a whole hour to get to May’s house. Sigh.

I knocked impatiently, resisting the urge to start pacing again. I just wanted to swing, and jump and kick a guy in the face. But noo, Even though I have super healing, I’m not allowed to go out because  I’m injured. Nevermind that it was healed already and these dressings were superficial at best!

May opened the door and beckoned me inside. I hurried in and she was quick to lock all her locks. When she was done, she finally turned to me. “You’ve had an adventurous week.”

I groaned, digging the heel of my hand into my eyes. “You can say that again. I need help, like, stat. And an upgrade.”

“Shed?” She asked.

I nodded. “Yep, shed.”

We walked to the shed and went into her fancy secret cave. It was just as impressive as the last couple of times I had been here. And then I wondered, how did she dust this place? Maybe I should offer some time, cause there were some pretty high points in here…

“Alright Miles, let’s see... First, tell me what’s been happening,” she said, sitting down in a swivel chair by the control panel.

I sighed and began to explain. “Alchemax kidnapped me, turns out, and they’re giving goons my powers. A group called The OWLs are starting some sort of criminal empire with help from Alchemax, there’s some sort of villain The OWLs are convinced could take me down but he’s not because morals. The impersonator guy used small tiny bombs to weaken the vault walls and Kravinoff just threatened me. I don’t even know the guy!”

She looked satisfied, if sympathetic, at the news. “Unfortunately, I don’t have all the information you need. But I do have some.” The big screen filled with villains of all sizes, shapes and mutations. There had to be a good thirty up there, but even then it could have been way more. I whistled appreciatively.

“Why didn’t you let me have a look at all this information in the first place?” I asked, folding my arms.

She shrugged. “Wasn’t really relevant. You’ve only fought small time baddies after the spider-people fiasco.”

She had a point, even if I felt a little insulted. It wasn’t my fault that super-villains hadn’t come out of the woodwork till now. “Can you at least send me an email with all of this?” I pleaded.

She shook her head. “No can do. Don’t want any information leaking anywhere. If you ever want to find out, you’re going to have to come visit this little old lady.”

I sighed; at least I had tried. “Uh, anyway, what do you know?”

The list fell away until there were about ten villains on screen. She enlarged one. The guy looked kind of savage; hair everywhere, talons on his fingertips and a long cape that made him look more like a vampire than a person. “Meet Owl, aka Leland Owlsley. He has worked with Fisk before, but with the power vacuum created by his arrest I believe he’s decided it’s his time to be the Kingpin. Unfortunately I haven’t heard about where he is, or who he’s working with, but I’m sure with him getting more active we will find out soon.”

“What are his powers? Should I be worried?”

“Well, he can fly short distances and the last time Peter-” she barely hiccuped over his name “-fought him, he did notice that he seemed faster than a normal human. Those talons can also rip flesh pretty well. He wasn’t Peter’s hardest villain by a long shot.”

“So yes and no?” I summarized. She nodded. “I guess he realised that too, which is why he might be signing up other people to do the dirty work for him.”

May looked interested. “Do you think the other villains might be working with him?”

I shrugged. “Maybe. It would explain why all of them are popping up now. Anyway, what are your other leads?”

She enlarged a guy called the Chameleon. He was wearing some sort of white cap all over his face. It almost looked like it was melted into his skin. “Your most likely suspect for your impersonator is this guy. A Russian man with an unknown backstory and no name. He was able to frame Peter for a crime while mimicking Peter’s abilities fairly closely, you might remember that one. Series of bank robberies committed by Spider-Man. When Peter proved it wasn’t him, Chameleon disappeared again and we haven’t heard anything further about him, until now.”

“Huh,” I said, “I remember that. It’s what made my Dad distrust Peter. Decided that if anyone can dress up as him, then Spider-Man could be just as bad as the criminals .”

May shook her head, though I could see a faint smile plastered on her face. “It took a long time to gather everyone's trust back. You’re lucky that people know who you are. I was surprised at how much people jumped to protect you.”

I rubbed the back of my neck. “Yeah, me too. I guess the whole fifteen-year-old kid thing throws people off accusing me.”

Finally, she enlarged the other eight villains. “Since we don’t know who this mystery man is, we can only go off of ‘nearly defeated Peter.’ And these are the ones.”

“Nearly defeated as in ‘almost killed the whole world but at the last second got stopped’ or ‘Peter went through a meat grinder fighting them.’” I said slowly.

May looked at me from over her shoulder. “The second, unfortunately. I discovered his secret identity after his first fight with the Rhino, it was that bad.”

“In other words, I’m screwed,” I muttered.

“Not necessarily!” she declared, standing up. “You’re just woefully under prepared.”

“Gee, thanks,” I said, laughing. She beckoned me to follow her and I did so, peeking over her shoulder. “Should I be excited or scared?”

She pressed a button on yet another control panel and the wardrobe of spider-man costumes suddenly came out of their cases, moving towards us along with more from the ceiling. I looked on in awe.

“You need an upgrade from that suit. Something better to protect you and with a combination of features that can help you fight any of the villains Peter’s fought, if not more.” She looked me up and down. Still in my school uniform, super suit nowhere in sight. “Your shoulder has healed already, right?”

“Uh, pretty much,” I said with a small shrug.

She grinned. “Perfect. Better for you to test out all these suits and get a feel for them and what you like now rather than after it’s already made.”

I stopped and looked at May. “I am not playing dress up. There’s like, fifty costumes!” She didn’t look swayed. “May, I would like to sleep tonight please.”

“Well, what do you suggest? I’m sure with no knowledge of what Peter’s already been able to incorporate into his suits, your trials and errors in the two weeks you have will be more than enough to face this Kravinoff guy,” she said absently, strolling through the wardrobe of spider costumes.

“Well, we don’t even know what powers this Kravinoff guy has up his sleeves,” I pointed out. I started to look through the costumes anyway.

“Exactly! Now do you want to get beaten by a low-powered villain like Owl or make him look like a fool!” she declared, popping out of some spider costumes and almost startling me. She passed me a costume, which felt more firm than my current costume.

“Now you’re speaking my language!” I declared in glee.

Chapter Text

Mom unwrapped the last of the bandages, gently wiping down my shoulder as she did so with a wet cloth. “There we go, like nothing ever happened.” It was early in the morning, because Mom had insisted on unwrapping the injury herself. And because I’m not allowed to miss school, I was here at six am, two hours before school began. I was just glad that I had gotten to bed at a reasonable time last night, otherwise I would be a dead man walking.

I shifted my shoulder, happy to discover it wasn’t even all that stiff. “Only took a couple days. I told you my healing was pretty good.”

She put her hands on her hips. “I’m still happy that I found you before you tried to wrap it on your own. You would have hidden it from us if you could have.”

I flushed. “I promised you guys I would tell you. I was going to let you know in the morning, just not in the middle of the night.”

“Uh huh, sure you would have, Miles Morales ,” she huffed, raising a single eyebrow.

I winced. “Ouch, first and last name?” I got up, heading towards my bedroom. “Besides, with the new suit upgrade coming soon, a bullet grazing me will only need, like, a bandaid.”

I glanced back and found Mom with her arms crossed, a look of ‘even-try-that-and-hell-will-rain-down on her face.’ I gave her a sheepish smile and she just rolled her eyes and threw the bandages in the bin.

“We haven’t talked about Kraven yet, Miles,” she said, washing her hands.

I stopped and leaned against the door frame. “Uh, yeah, guess we haven’t. I have to fight him, you know that.”

She hummed, eyes refusing to meet mine. “You know I support you being Spider-Man, but you’ve got to be careful.”

“I wouldn’t be fighting this guy on his terms if I could help it. But I can’t risk you or the school,” I said firmly.

She raised an eyebrow at me, “You’ll be careful and call for help if you need it, won’t you?”

I straightened back up and came over, giving her a hug. “I’m sorry Mom, this whole thing is pretty crazy. But I’m not going to die at the hands of a doof wearing safari gear in New York in March . Mark my words.”

She hugged back tighter. “You’d better, Miles.”

I gave her one small squeeze before letting go. “I’ve got to get ready anyway.”

“Yes, go,” she said, walking into the kitchen. I smiled and went into my room.

I threw my stitched-up costume on and then put the clothes I had come here with into a bag. I came back into the living room. “So Dad’s already patrolling?”

Mom nodded, swallowing her bite of cereal before saying, “Yes, he left before I woke. I’ll be at work in an hour, but remember-”

“If I ever need help, give you a call,” I interrupted. I kissed her on the cheek and went out the front door. “See you Friday!”

I thwipped my first web and leaned into my first swing, gaining momentum with each new arch. What would be twenty or so minutes via walking was cut down to five minutes. It was a pretty good deal, if you ask me.

My phone pinged in my pocket and I grabbed at the nearest lamppost, swinging around it to slow my speed before crouching on top of it. I grabbed my phone, looking at the newest notification. Bank robbery, huh? Looked like it wasn’t too far from school, either. I still had like an hour until school started- I had the time.

I backflipped off the pole and swung towards the bank. There were a bunch of police officers already hanging around, some with guns pointing towards the inside of the bank. Others were talking to each other and I spotted one with a megaphone.

“Come out with your hands up!” One of them yelled.

I landed on the closest cruiser. I was almost surprised at the officers non-reaction to me. “Hey guys, need some help?”

The officer glanced up at me before looking back to the bank. “Miles. Go to the ambulance, your Dad is there.”

“It’s Spidey while I’m in the suit,” I grumbled, but did what he said anyway.

I slid off the car and walked over to the ambulance. Why was Dad over here anyway? Supervising? Caring for a patient? Talking to someone? A witness maybe?

I peeked around the corner and found Dad sitting on a gurney. His face was scrunched up in pain and his foot wrapped up in bandages. The blood drained from my face. “Dad?”

“Hey kiddo,” he said, putting on a brave face. “Shouldn’t you be at school?”

“There’s like an hour until school starts. Not the point. Dad, what happened?” I asked, walking up to him and folding my arms. Maybe it was the shock setting in, maybe it was because I was Spider-Man right now, but I felt surprisingly calm. Find out what happened, take down the bad guys. Simple.

“Got shot in the foot. Don’t worry, Miles, I’ll be up on my feet before you know it,” he reassured, patting my back.

‘Don’t worry,’ yeah, right. Has he met me?

I swallowed, nodded and skipped back. “I’ll get them Dad.”

“Be careful ,” he said, giving me a Look.

I webbed myself up the closest lamp post, just  as the robbers came crashing through the front of the bank in a car. I’ll give them credit for that. It was louder and more inventive than most goons. But they got no more credit, because they were still bank robbers.

As the police scrambled to get into their cars, screaming into walkie-talkies, I webbed after them. With each web I drew closer to the speeding car. Every arch getting me higher, lower, and inching towards it. So close ...

I was mere inches away from them, aiming to gunk up a tire, when my spider-sense set the alarm. Look out!

I looked to the side just in time to earn myself a foot to the face. Which was surprising to me, especially since I was several stories high webbing through the air. I was sent hurtling towards the closest building. I tucked myself into a ball as I smashed through the glass, crashing through almost a dozen desks and narrowly missing just as many people huddled behind their computers.

I skidded to a stop with my head touching the wall of another cubicle wall. I hoisted myself up onto my elbows when a figure approached me . I rolled out of the way and on to my feet.

The villain of the day was wearing a skeleton mask and had a long white cape. His body armour was blue, and he had a sword, shield and bows on his back. Plus, a belt with all sorts of nifty looking devices. Interesting costume design, to say the least.

“Did the swords come with mask at the halloween store? Wait, isn’t it March? You’re, like, seven months early to the party.” I said, crouching lower. Whoever this asshole was, I could smell trouble wafting from him like a bad smell.

“Miles,” the guy said, sounding like he was grinning smugly from beneath his mask. I narrowed my eyes.

In a flurry of movement, he dove towards me and I jumped over his head, kicking him in the head on the way. He stumbled but didn’t fall. “What do you want with me anyway?” I whined, thwipping a few webs his way. He dodged them.

He then grabbed two swords from his belt, holding them high. They were about as thick as my thumb, at the thickest point and looked sharp as hell. Ah, crap.

Skeleton guy threw one of them at me, and as I sidestepped it he leaped towards me and tried to stab me with the other. I narrowly got out of the way by flipping backwards, uppercutting him in the jaw in the same movement.

“Seriously, what’s your deal? You still haven’t answered my question!” I exclaimed, grabbing a computer and chucking at the skeleton guy as a distraction. At the same time, I jumped towards him and tried to punch him.

And that’s when everything went wrong. He grabbed my punch and used my momentum to throw me to the ground. As I tried to roll out of the way, he stomped on my chest - pinning me. I brought my hands up to protect my head, spider-sense screeching at me, but I shouldn’t have even bothered.

It felt like I had been slapped, but I hadn’t been. And not even a normal slap, because he had done it right in the centre of my hand. Without looking, I knew what had happened. The crunch of metal as my webshooters got destroyed clued me in, even if the pain didn’t. My hand was pinned to the ground, out of the fight. I curled my feet in to my chest, around skeletons guys crushing foot, and kicked him in the stomach forcing him back a few feet.

I grabbed at the sword sticking out of my right hand and tried to dislodge it, but in the seconds I had to get free I couldn’t - it felt like it had been driven deep through the floor as well as me. Skeleton guy was over me and grabbed my legs with one hand when I tried to kick him again.

“You will want to listen to me, Miles,” skeleton guy finally began, leaning on the sword and driving it further down. I blinked tears out of my eyes.

“It’s Spider-Man while I’m on the job,” I spat. I tried to wriggle out of his grasp, grabbing again at the sword but only cut myself on the sharp side. Adding insult to injury, the wriggling earned me firey, slicing pain and the sickening feeling of the bones in my hand moving around in ways they were not made for.

He hummed, bending down further so he was all I could see. “I come here with a warning.”

“And a sword or two, too,” I remarked, breathing heavily as I tried not to scream in agony.

Skeleton guy grabbed the sword and wiggled it around just to be a dick. I clenched my teeth hard enough that they could have cracked, refusing to give this guy the satisfaction of me uttering a single whimper. “Listen to me, and listen to me carefully. Your dad’s foot is a warning. Stay out of the OWL’s business, or we’ll aim higher,” he murmured for only my ears.

He stood straight back up and pulled the sword out in one smooth motion. I almost gagged at the sick feeling. When I glanced up, all I could see was the ink dark blood dripping off the sword he had used on me. That wasn’t good. “Hope we don’t meet again.”

Between one blink and the next he was gone. I picked myself back up, cradling my hand against my chest. I just breathed, getting my feet back under me. In for eight seconds, pause, out for seven. In, pause, out. Someone gently shook my shoulder, grabbing my attention. I inwardly sighed, I knew it was one of the office workers.

Cause I had crashed into an office. Which had people in it. People who had just witnessed me get my ass thoroughly kicked. Great. Just great.

“Spider-Man? Miles?” They said, words laced thick with worry.

I brushed their hand off of my shoulder. I pulled my glove off in one swift move, before the blood could crust. Still breathing deeply and purposefully, with my intact webshooter I began wrapping my hand. Those first-aid classes really were coming in handy. Ha, handy.

I knew I couldn’t put my glove back on, so I wrung the minute amount of blood and stuffed it in my pocket. I knew my webs would not do the job of proper treatment but they would keep everything in place for the moment.

The pain flashed through me like a lightning strike with every movement, making me feel sick. But it was a feeling I could deal with.

I looked back at the floor. There was a small patch of thick, goopy puddle of dark red blood, staining the carpet. Great.

“Miles?” The officer worker said again. I blinked a few times and looked around. There was a crowd of office workers standing around me. A couple were on their phones, some talking to others and another few filming me. Great.

The mask really did come in handy. No one could see my face, scrunched up in pain and trying desperately to keep it together.

“I’m okay, I’ve got to, uh, stop the robbers.” I pulled myself up onto my feet, ignoring the protests. One of them even grabbed my arm, stopping me.

“You’re hurt,” they whispered, like it was a secret.

I shrugged nonchalantly. “I know, I’ll be fine.” I shook their grip off and jumped onto the nearest desk. I shook their grip off my arm. “Thanks.”

I thwipped a web with my unhurt arm and swung out the open window. I just gotta find the robbers, stop them and then I can get treated before seeing Dad. Simple. Besides, this wasn’t the worst injury I had ever had. Worst part about it was that this skeleton guy had stabbed my right hand. But, I was pretty ambidextrous at this point - I would be fine.

I was half way down the block when I spotted the car already stopped at an intersection. Looked like it had crashed into another car, bringing it to a halt. I could have stopped and gone back home - or to school - now that everything was settled, but I had to know.

I landed on the roof of the crashed car, crouching. The police officers hanging around took one look at me before continuing with their jobs. I didn’t mind, I just needed at least one of them to pay attention to me for a minute. I waved one officer over.

“Hey, uh, question, did they have like… owl eyes on their costumes?” I asked, proud of the way my voice didn’t waver.

The officer nodded. I could see her eyeing the webs around my hand. “Sure did. Why, do you know something?”

I tipped my head from side to side, “Yeah, you see, that’s an up and coming criminal empire. So, y’know, you should maybe start a database on all the owl eye wearing goons. For later.”

She folded her arms, “And how do you know this?”

I began numbering off on my fingers, “May Parker, getting threatened and stabbed not even three minutes ago for getting involved, over hearing conversations, documents I’ve stolen from them-”

She waved her arm around, cutting me off. “Ok, I get it Miles-”

“- Spider-man , I’m on the job,” I interrupted.

Her eye twitched. “ Spider-Man ,” she muttered through gritted teeth, “you know all this stuff. When were you going to share this with the police force?”

I looked away. “Well… criminal empires always have moles with the good guys, and I’d like to keep all the evidence safe.”

She raised an eyebrow. “Isn’t your Dad a cop?”

“Yeah, doesn’t mean that there aren’t OWL members in the police force.” I pointed out. I stood back up. “Anyway, I’ve gotta go. Good luck with the clean up.”

“Wait!” She shouted after me, but I had already thwipped my first web and was on my way to school. I ignored any other shouts after me. I had more important things to deal with, like the fact that Dad had been shot .

This counted as a family emergency, right? The school wouldn’t mind me being gone for a day. It would just be a day.

I almost hit the ground at the bottom of one of my swings by mistake, forgetting for a crucial moment that I only had one webshooter working. Crap, don’t get sloppy.

I continued to ignore the burning, stabbing pain in my palm. Besides, if I can do pain now, I can do pain later.

Chapter Text

Ring. Ring.

I paced back and forth along the rooftop, ignoring the throbbing, sharp pain in my right hand. I couldn’t care less about it; it would get treated later and it was healing on its own. But Dad…

I should have gone back to the ambulance earlier to check where he was. I shouldn't have talked to that police officer. Now I didn’t know where he was and I didn’t know what to do.

Ring, ring.

I looked back down at the street. People didn’t know I was here, watching my world begin to crash around me. I had known that being Spider-Man was dangerous, that it would hurt the people around me if the whole world knew who I was, and all of this had proven me right.

I was such an idiot . I should have tried harder to escape when I was kidnapped. Especially since I could have gotten out, but I had listened too hard to my stupid spider-sense. I should have gotten myself free, no matter the consequences, before I was unmasked.

Because this wasn’t about me anymore. It never was. But stopping crime had put me on too many peoples’ radar and now-

Ring, ring.

My breath hitched as I swallowed the sob. I would blame it on my new wound, not the swirling cloud of emotions hanging like an anvil above me.

Dad got shot in the foot. Because I’m Spider-Man. Simple as that. I craved so hard to wake up, find that the kidnapping had been a fever dream. It wasn’t. It never would be.

If I had never been Spider-Man to begin with...

I couldn’t stop, though. I couldn’t! I had to face Kravinoff, at least. He would kill Mom and Dad if I didn’t participate in his sick game. But I couldn’t not stop OWL, either. They were experimenting on humans and I had to shut that down, as much as I wanted to block the image of that man out and never think about it again.

I have to stop it. Whatever it takes.

Ring, ring.

Click.

“This is Rio. Give me a callback or leave a message and I’ll be back to you as soon as-”

I ended the call, leaned against the closest wall and crumpled into a ball. This was all my fault .

I took a deep breath. I couldn’t stop now, I had to keep on moving. If I went back to the warehouse and checked out what had happened to the lab, maybe I would see what my next move was.

Alchemax was working with OWL, there was no doubt about that. So, maybe if I targeted Alchemax instead of OWL they would let that pass? Oh get real , they wouldn’t care. They just wanted me to stop getting involved. But I couldn’t stop, not if they were experimenting on humans using my DNA.

But if I was captured, if I was stupid like last time and fought fifty scientists at once, then what little protection Mom and Dad had through me was gone. Kaput.

I put my head in my hands. I was Spider-Man, I could figure this out. The real Spider-Man, Peter’s Spider-Man, always came out on top.

Except when Peter hadn’t and had died at Kingpin’s hands.

I swallowed my hysterical laughter. Think, think . I couldn’t take Alchemax down on my own, but Alchemax could be shut down by, say, the government if malpractice was shown. If I got the evidence that they had been the ones to kidnap me and that they were experimenting on humans, that would be one thing out of my hair.

Since they were working with OWL, there should be some sort of lead into where the OWL had set up base. Leland Owlsley was at the top, right? So if I linked him to Alchemax and the human experiments, and anything else he was up to, it would crumble down with him. No more replacement Kingpin situation.

Simple, right?

I took a deep breath, wiping away my tears. I still didn’t know where Dad was, he hadn’t picked up his phone either, but I would know soon enough. If I went to Alchemax first, got my evidence and then left, enough time should have passed that either Dad was home or he would pick up his phone. Yeah, that would work.

Maybe then I could stop by May’s and get the new suit, so it wouldn’t be as easy for skeleton guys to stab me through the hand.

I absently looked at the wrappings. It hurt like hell, and I should probably get it treated now… but it would be fine if it waited a bit.

Now-

Ring, ring.

I jolted, picking up my phone. Unknown caller. Maybe it was Dad or the hospital? I wiped my face and before the third ring could end, I picked it up.

Miles Morales ,” the person on the other end cooed, like I was a child. The hairs on the back of my neck jumped up.

“Yeah?” I said, slowly getting up. My spider-sense wasn’t going off, but I felt like it should have been. This? This was just a bad gut feeling.

The person tittered, “ You’ve been booked in for an appointment with Mr. Fisk at Fisk Tower. Such a shame you’re late, he wanted so badly to see you .”

My hand clenched beside me. “Is this a joke?” Fisk was supposed to be in jail .

Of course not, no one wants to waste anyone else’s time in this business. Come by as soon as you can, and he’ll see you ,” they told me. Before I could ask any other questions, the line went dead.

I reluctantly pocketed my phone. The horrible gut feeling sitting in my gut got worse, if that was even possible. I hadn’t known he had been let free from jail. Surely that would have popped up on my radar? Why hadn’t it?

I stepped forward onto the ledge. Either way, I had to know what Fisk wanted.

I buried my head in my hands and paced. If I didn’t go and see him, that might bite me in the ass later. But it could also be a trap. But maybe I should go anyway, see what he wanted.

Worst case scenario, I can just kick a window in and get out of there . I took a deep breath and began swinging.


 

The new Fisk building was tall, shiny and pretentious. I couldn’t help my scowl at the very sight of it. Nevertheless, I walked through the lobby and to the front desk, ignoring the astonished looks following my every move. I kept my head held high.

The lady at the desk barely even blinked at me. “Here to see Mr Fisk?” She drawled, typing rapidly into her computer.

“Yeah, turns out I have an appointment,” I said, looking around. There were security guards everywhere. I wasn’t surprised, but it did put me on edge.

She pointed with her thumb, “the fourth elevator on your right. He’ll be right with you.”

I nodded and strolled over to the elevator. I felt like I would trip on thin air or something equally embarrassing any moment now. I was torn between watching my feet and making myself smaller and puffing my chest out and showing I wasn’t afraid of Fisk.

I was sure, to the onlookers, I just looked dumb. Like a little kid wearing his dad’s suit. Actually, I kind of wish I was wearing a business suit because at least then I’d fit in a bit more. The mental image of wearing a suit over my spider-man costume made me snort. The tension released from my shoulders.

Fisk already had a criminal history - what could he possibly do to me? Nothing, because I was Spider-Man and had already beaten him once. I could totally do it again! One hand skewered or not.

I stepped into the elevator, no one following me in. There were only two buttons, up and down. Guess this was a super special elevator.

I pressed the button up and stepped back from the doors, leaning against the walls. I absently picked up at the wrappings around my hand. I really did need to replace these soon - the webs would only hold on for an hour before dissolving. And also it needed to be treated and all that.

I wondered what they were thinking at school … meh, any school work I can just make up tonight. If another villain doesn’t pop out of the woodworks to try and threaten me too, that is. They knew I was Spider-Man, it would be fine. Besides, ‘my Dad got shot’ is a stellar excuse if there ever was one.

It wasn’t like I was trying to skip school, it’s just that things happened. My track record so far was pretty clean, at least?

The elevator pinged, the doors opening wide to a big open space with a desk on the far side by the windows. There was nothing in between me and the desk to warrant this waste of space. Honestly, you could fit my apartment in here! Rich people, gross.

And sitting behind the desk, pudgy head sticking out of his square body, was Fisk in all his glory. I strolled up, folding my hands and hiding my injured one.

Fisk grinned at me, teeth and all. “ Miles Morales , the newest Spider-Man. I never got the chance to... congratulate you on taking down my tower and plans last year.”

I shifted my weight from one foot to the next. Yep, still hated this ‘villains know my secret-not-so-secret-identity’ thing. “Yeah, that's me. Why are you making appointments for me without my knowledge? Like, dude, it’s a school day.”

He shifted forward, clasping his hands together. “When you’re in the business I am, you tend to hear about what your colleagues are up to. Like, threaten people, for example.”

I narrowed my eyes, “What, getting all chummy with The Owl now? Should have known.”

His grin got even toothier, somehow, “Oh, no, at all. The Owl is trying to take over my terrority. Bad for business.”

“I don’t get it,” I began suspiciously, shifting one foot back with tense anticipation, “We’re enemies. You tried to kill me last year. Why am I up here in your cozy tower talking to you? Why shouldn’t I try to get you arrested right now?”

That brought a chuckle out of Fisk. It was ugly. It sounded like a small, bright-eyed bushy-tailed animal getting hit by a pick-up truck and smeared across its grill. I barely suppressed my shudder.

“We have common goals, and I can help you,” he finally said.

I squinted at him, “With what? My homework?”

“Don’t be stupid,” he spat. He sat up and straightened out his suit, scowl easing off until something resembling pleasant. It was like putting a bowtie on a tiger. It’s still not a kitten - we can see the jaws of death. “No. I can protect you, your family and your school. In exchange, you will stop The Owl when I cannot. Do we have a deal?”

I turned away. Protect everyone I care about… stop Owl… but work for Fisk. A bad guy and one of my enemies at that. But they do say ‘the enemy of my enemy is my friend.’ “What if I refuse?” I asked, peering back at him.

He leaned forward, clasping his hands together. “I know where your family is. I can easily track them, kidnap them, torture them. We don’t want anything… unsavoury to happen to them, now do we? After all, you took my family from me.”

A shiver ran down my spine. I scuffed my foot on the carpet a couple of times. There was no way I should take this offer. But, I already had too many people gunning for Mom and Dad. I knew that The Owl probably had many contacts, like skeleton guy, and who knew about that Kravinoff guy. But Fisk? Fisk was the Kingpin of New York. He was in every criminal underbelly. He was everywhere. And he had the manpower to back himself up.

If I didn’t take his deal...

Even the thought of Mom and Dad dying, and it being my fault, made my stomach twist in knots and my throat close up. I couldn't let that happen. If only Uncle Aaron was still around. He had known how to fight. He could have helped me.

But there was no one. It was me against the world.

I sighed- I had to make a deal with the devil.

“How am I supposed to trust you?” I asked finally. Maybe he would only protect Mom and Dad so he could kill them himself. I had no way to trust his word.

Fisk leaned back in his seat. “Helping you will only help my PR. I want OWL taken down just as much as you do. Think about it, Miles-” god, I hated him saying my name. “You get the protection for your loved ones for doing what you’re already doing. Right now? You have none .”

“That still sounds like a threat,” I said uncomfortably. But he was right. What choice did I have? I couldn’t be everywhere at once, and he probably had the police in his back pocket.

...Just for now. Just until I had taken down Kravinoff and The Owl.

I clenched my eyes shut, took a deep breath and held out my right hand. My injured one. Fisk didn’t even bat an eye. “Fine. We have a deal. You protect my family and my school and I’ll take down The Owl for you.”

He took my hand and squeezed, shaking it. I was so grateful that my mask hid my wince as sharp pain tore through me at the motion. I felt warm, sticky liquid start flowing beneath the webbing. Blood. The webbing felt minutes away from falling apart and releasing the now pent up blood. “Good boy,” Fisk whispered. Another shiver went down my spine. Creepy.

I took my hand back and left with hardly a glance back. I just wanted to be out of this too big, too fancy tower and back home. But I couldn’t go back home, either. I still had things to do.

I knew this had been a big mistake. I should have never come here . God, what had I done?

Chapter Text

The alcohol stung as I disinfected my hand, a sharp pain that was distracting. Keeping me distracted from all the goings on of the day. It was almost meditivate to fix it all up. Mom and Dad weren’t home so I was alone with my thoughts, a blessing and a curse.

As soon as I had made that deal with Fisk, I knew I would regret it. In fact, I already regretted it barely an hour later. But I didn’t know how else to keep Mom and Dad safe. Not with the threats I was facing. Not when I had no allies except my enemy.

But what if I died on Monday? What then? What would happen to Mom and Dad then? Would he live up to his promise and protect them? Of course not, it was Fisk. The least I could hope for was him to leave them alone.

But I still hadn’t told either of them what was happening. If a threat came barreling down our door, they would have no warning. If they got hurt then, it would be all my fault.

Everything was becoming my fault. The what ifs swirling like a restless cloud.

What if. What if I had gotten free before they could have unmasked me? What if I had struggled harder? Held my breath longer? Dodged better and prevented my shoulder and now my hand from getting hurt? What if I ignored what Owl was doing? What if Owl attacked Mom and Dad? What if Fisk did? What if any number of other villains did?

Yet I couldn’t. I couldn’t tell them. No way. They would try to stop me from being Spider-Man and not only would it end badly for us, but it would end badly for the whole of New York. No one there to protect them from guys like Owl. Or Alchemax, who were experimenting on real life human beings.

Just as I finished the last of the wrapping, ready to pack everything away and attempt some studying, a text came through.

Gwen: Hey Miles, how are you doing?

Huh. Gwen. Why was she texting me? Maybe she had a question about some schoolwork? I hoped it was.

Miles: Fine. Why?

I folded my legs and leaned back against the toilet seat - my temporary seat while I had been fixing myself up.

Gwen: I saw that video of that skeleton guy stabbing you

Gwen: That looked like it really hurt dude

That’s right, there were videos of what had happened. Meaning if either Mom or Dad searched me up, they could find out how I was hurt. But I couldn’t stop being Spider-Man, not days out from Kravinoff. Not when I had so much to do before then.

Miles: It’s fine, I heal fast. It’ll be all good in a couple of days

Gwen: Still! How did your parents react?

I scowled.

Miles: They don’t know

Gwen: What do you mean they don’t know?

I wish this Gwen was her spider counterpart. Spider-Gwen would have understood. She would know how hard it was to try and tell parents anything about this double life. In a striking moment, I missed her. But I waved it away, I had more important things to worry about.

It felt like I always had something more important to worry about.

Miles: Dad got shot. They’ve got more to worry about than me

Gwen: BS. You’re hiding it from them aren’t you?

Miles: They can look it up and find out themselves. In the meantime I have bigger things to worry about

Gwen: Miles…

Miles: What?

Gwen: Just because you’re Spider-Man doesn’t mean you should neglect yourself

Read 10:47pm

I didn’t bother to reply. What did she know? I left the bathroom in a huff, the med kit packed away for another day.

 


 

 

The chains from when I was kidnapped and the blueprint for the belt, both from my trip to Alchemax, had been sitting in my room for days just waiting for me to sit down and figure them out. Or in other words, the perfect distraction from Gwen, from Fisk, from the crushing guilt of knowing Dad got shot because of me…

Dad was fine, I finally learned when they came home from the hospital. Painkillers galore, but his foot was stitched and cast. He wouldn’t be able to work for six to eight weeks either, and even then it would only be office work until his leg is strong again.

I hadn’t told them it was my fault. I didn’t want to see the disappointment, the anger in their eyes. They would say they didn’t blame it on me, but they would. Spider-Man had brought trouble with it, and we didn’t talk about that. It was the elephant in the room whenever the topic came up.

But I couldn’t stop, I had to protect people. That was the whole deal, right?

I shook my head, trying to dislodge the clouding thoughts. I needed something to keep my thoughts from straying too far, and figuring out these treasure would be the perfect task. And one I needed to get done anyway.

I didn’t know what the blueprint would let the user do. That I had to know, it might be useful. And maybe it wasn’t important in the grand scheme of things because of the now overwhelming amount of things going on, but I had to know how they had messed with my spider-sense - maybe it had something to do with the chains, even though I had a strong suspicion it was something else.

I cleared a space on my bed and laid everything on it. First, the mysterious belt. I grabbed my phone and used the flashlight to skim read behind the inked out portions of the blueprint.

What I found was more of a sales pitch than actual specific instructions for how it worked.

This device emits a gas that will mold your features to your liking! From presidents to the person next to you, you will switch in a moment and look just like them! With a microcomputer inside this belt, it can be programmed to remember the facial features of hundreds of people! For even easier convenience, a video receiver in this nifty belt will enable the computer to analyze the appearance of anyone you encounter and duplicate their features using electrical impulses. This computer can utilise high tech holographic technology that can change your appearance at just the press of a button! No more hours spent endlessly applying makeup, this device does it for you.

On top of that, if you want to go undercover this device can make you appear as two different people to two separate observers simultaneously! Sleuthing will be a breeze!

I put it back down. So this is what Chameleon used! I glanced out at the small light still on in Mom and Dad’s room. It’s too late to disturb them now, I’ll give Dad this stuff in the morning so he can give it to the police working on the robbery case. They could handle it from there.

It was both simultaneously tiring and rewarding to find out that everything happening was so closely connected. The goon with my powers, Owl, skeleton guy and now the Chameleon… they were all under OWL or Alchemax. If I take down OWL, the threat falls away. In theory.

Except for Fisk. Fisk was his own separate threat. And ally.

I rubbed my eyes, don’t think about that. There’s work to be done.

If I can take down the human experimentation labs and figure out where Leland is hiding, I can dismantle this whole operation. Alchemax felt like a beast on its own, but I could figure it out later. Talk to some people, gain some knowledge, go from there.

With that settled, I turned to the chains.

Now, I am no scientist, but they looked like steel to me. They were pretty thick, no surprise there. Thick enough that even at the time of kidnapping they had looked comical against my thin wrist. Even more the longer I had been trapped there and my muscles began to waste away.

I did the bend test again, and just like when I was in Alchemax. It bent like a paperclip. It was so easy, it felt frustrating that I hadn’t just grabbed at it and pulled while I had been in there. I should have tried harder, gotten more creative, but I had felt one spike from my spider-sense and given up.

I looked at it from every angle, yeah, normal metal the whole way round. Nothing suspicious or out of place.

If I could go back in time, I would have just pulled. Damn the consequences. Nothing could be worse then everything that's happened since - teaming up with Fisk being the most awful part of this all.

I gathered everything up, putting the metal in a random drawer and the belt blueprints on my desk. There was nothing more I could do tonight, but tomorrow I would start hunting down Owlsley like the plague.


 

By morning, the wound had finally stitched the muscles together so there wasn’t a hole in my hand. Unfortunately, it was still raw and gross to look at - there was no way I could get away with it just visible for all the world to see. Putting my hand in my pocket had worked last night, when I was only around them for dinner before heading off to bed, but it might start getting suspicious.

So, before Mom or Dad woke up, I snuck into the bathroom and borrowed some of the concealer in the makeup bag. After slapping a band-aid over both the entry and exit holes, I covered it up with dark concealer. It wasn’t perfect, but as long as they didn’t look too close I would be fine.

With that sorted, I put my Spider-Man suit and my uniform on, had some breakfast and by that point they were both shuffling into the kitchen. Or, in Dad’s case, hobbling. His leg up to his shin was covered in a cast, and he had crutches to help him get around. It looked awkward for him, but he did it with no complaints.

“Hey kiddo, won’t be able to drive you to school for a while. Hope you’re ok with walking,” Dad said, ruffling my hair as he sat down.

I swallowed the guilt threatening to bubble up. Dad’s foot was my fault and he didn’t even know it. If he did… they would be so disappointed in me. They wouldn’t say it, of course they wouldn’t, but the look in their eyes would be enough to crush me.

And that was only the tip of the iceberg of lies.

“Yeah, you can’t embarrass me in front of the school either,” I joked weakly, moving the cereal around my bowl. All of a sudden, I wasn’t that hungry.

His eyes softened, maybe noticing the change, but instead of commenting on it he gently pat me on the back. “You’ll do great today. But try not to make skipping school a regular thing, yeah?”

“Not my fault you guys didn’t pick up the phone,” I mumbled. Luckily he didn’t hear me, because he finished getting his own bowl of cereal together and sat down with me.

Mom came in like a crashing wave. She hurried into the kitchen with a, “Miles, mijo, you’ve got to go. You’ve got that practice exam coming up.”

“That’s Friday, Mom, I’m ready for it,” I said. I had studied... here and there. Maybe not as much as I should have. But I would be fine. Besides, it was only the practice one.

She gave me a look, glancing me up and down. I curled my hand in, trying to hide my injury as subtly as possible. She didn’t spot it. Nodding once, she asked, “Are you ready to go?”

I got up, tipped the rest of the cereal down the drain and put my bowl in the sink. I breezed past them, grabbing my bag on the way out. “See you guys tonight. Love you.”

They each waved their goodbyes.

A stray thought reminded me of something. “Oh, and Dad? I have a CLASSIFIED file on my desk, some of the police at the precinct might be interested in it. Especially the ones working on the impersonator case.”

Before they could ask me any more questions, I shut the door and started on my way.

Finally a weight lifted off of my shoulders. I shouldn’t have been glad to be out of their sight. But I was. I didn’t want them to know what I was doing behind their back, I didn’t want them to know how weak I was, or how I was in cahoots with the enemy.


 

“Miles, good to see you in class early,” Miss Calleros said, beckoning me over.

There was no one else in the classroom but the two of us. I didn’t know if that was a good or bad thing. But if the resigned look on her face was anything to go by, it was probably bad.

“What’s up?” I asked lightly, discarding my bag at my normal place.

She sighed, “The school has put down your absence yesterday as a family emergency. But I want to reiterate that Spider-Man should not get in the way of school. You have a lot of potential, everyone can see it, but you have to decide to live up to it.”

I folded my arms and looked away. I wouldn’t have much potential to live up to if I died come Monday. In fact, I wouldn’t have any potential to live up to if Skeleton guy or Owl, or even Fisk, killed me. I wasn’t invincible, I couldn’t lie to myself about that. Peter was the best example of what went wrong when you made the wrong choices - and he had so much more experience than I currently had. “There’s a lot going on right now,” I finally said.

“The school is willing to offer as much help as you need. You just have to say you need help,” she reminded me gently, but firmly. It still had me clenching my teeth.

“Yep, thanks. If I do need help, I’ll let you know. Can I sit down now, ma’am?” I said, voicing dropping lower.

She waved me off, but tacked on a reassuring, “My office is always open to you Miles. For anything.”


 

After class, Ganke was like a fly buzzing around my head. Loud, annoying, and persistent.

“I saw that video Miles, that looked like it really hurt. That dude with the sword got you pretty good. Wonder who he is. Do you know anything about him? Is he connected to anyone? Not the point. Are you sure that you’re okay? Let me see what it looks like! Did your Mom stitch it up-?”

“Ganke,” I hissed, cutting him off, “I’m fine, I’ve already told you. The video made it look worse than it was. Seriously.”

I tried to continue eating my sandwich. Ganke didn’t take the cue, much to my chagrin, and kept on barreling forward.

“I saw how you struggled to get that sword out of your hand, don’t lie. The blood, too. Wow, like, how are you so nonchalant about this? I would have been screaming in pain and you were barely making a sound. Not to mention how shocked you looked afterward, even with a mask on,” he continued, peeking at my hand.

I felt my left eye begin to twitch. Or maybe it already had been, and I just hadn’t noticed it. I stuffed my hand in my pocket, out of sight. “Ganke, can we talk about literally anything else. I’m sick of talking about it,” I asked, straining to keep my anger from leaking into my question.

“Dude, you got injured and-”

“I know .”

“You should take this more seriously-”

“I heal.”

“Just because you’re Spider-Man-”

Don’t .”

“I’m just saying, you’re not invincible and that guy should have clued you in.”

The anger clawed like a beast in my chest, straining to get out and lash venom. I slowly counted back from five. “Ganke. Why are we having this conversation?”

He frowned, “because you’re getting hurt and it’s my business as your friend-”

“How about you stay out of my business?” I snapped, voice barely above a whisper. “Yeah, how about you do that. I have been Spider-Man for over a year , if you haven’t failed to notice, and I know how to handle myself. If I think I need your help, the ‘guy in the chair’ who’s only experience is hacking a library’s network, I’ll let you know .”

Ganke was shocked. Mouth opening and closing like a fish. I shoved the rest of my food into my mouth and stood up.

“W-what about painkillers-” Ganke stuttered out, his brain stalling on his train of thought. I again slammed down on the brakes, like a brick wall in his train’s path.

“I have handled crippling stomach pain from starving to death . I know how to handle myself. Now stay out of it .” I flung my bag over my shoulders and stormed away.

Ganke didn’t try to stop me this time, but I almost wish he had. Because when I looked back, he was stock still, curling in on himself. Physically drooping like a dehydrated plant. The cherry on top? I could see tears rolling down his cheeks.

The damage was done. I had hurt Ganke. My closest friend. I was such an asshole. I had to say sorry, but I was a coward. I couldn’t walk back up to him. It was as if my body wasn’t my own.

But… maybe, at the end of the day, it was for the best. The less people close to me, the less people Owl or Fisk could hurt.

Maybe it was for the best if I had no friends at all

Chapter Text

I closed the dorm door behind me. I was alone. I chucked my bag to the side, climbed up onto my bed and curled up in a ball.

I was such a screw up.

Yet here I was, mopping about it. Instead of fixing it. Instead of doing anything productive like hunting down Owlsley and stopping him.

I rolled over, facing the window. It was only lunch break. I shouldn’t go out as Spider-Man. Maybe tonight. I would go back to Alchemax and hunt him down from there - since really that was the only place I knew that was linked to Owl. 

 Something shifted in the corner of my eye.

I ignored it, it was probably an ant.

I probably should have gone back to that place by now. Like, I didn’t know what they had really done to that guy - the guy I had watched been experimented on. I understood he was dead, that much was clear, but why had he mutated the way he had?

If it wouldn’t stop Alchemax, knowing, it would at least put my own mind at ease.

Several somethings moved in the corner of my eye.

Alright, that’s it. I sat up and climbed out of bed. I swear if Ganke has left another open packet of chips somewhere and we have an ant infestation I’ll…

Well, do nothing. I have already yelled at him. He didn’t need me to rub salt into the wound.

I finally spotted one of the things moving. And paused. It was a grain of sand? I peered closer, which was when this one grain of sand was joined by another, three more, ten more, thirty, a hundred, and in a gust of wind there was a small sand man in front of me.

I took a cautious step back, eyeing this creature. “Um, are you sentient?”

The sandman bent in half, laughing. Sand should not laugh, or talk, or move around like that. This thing was against the laws of nature! Oh wait-

“Wait, are you Sandman? Like, the villain Sandman?” I asked, curling my hands into fists and preparing to fight. I never did want to face a villain down at school, especially considering the collateral damage, but if I had to-

“Chill kid, I’m your new bodyguard. Courtesy Fisk,” Sandman said casually, wiping a fake tear out of his eye. “Name’s Flint Marko.”

“...Hi Flint. I’m not going to have to fight you, am I?”

Sandman raised an eyebrow at me, “I ain’t gonna fight you. You’re like, what, twelve?”

“Fifteen. And you never know, I’m still fighting bad guys even though they all know I’m, y’know, a minor,” I said casually. I sat down in my desk, breathing out. “So what exactly are you going to do, mister bodyguard? Because I kind of don’t want you watching me 24/7, if you catch my drift.”

He raised his hands up in surrender, “Believe me kid, I don’t want to be watching your scrawny ass either. I’m just spread around outside of this school and your home. If our Owl buddy tries to do something, I’m here to stop him from causing damage. Capiche?”

“Huh, I thought Fisk would play dirtier than that,” I commented absently.

Flint shrugged, “You’re the same age as his kid was when he died. He’s probably just waiting for some other fellow to get you to kick the bucket.”

I couldn’t help my chuckle, “Letting others do the dirty work, sounds like him. So that means you’re not going to actually follow me around while I do, say, Spidey work, right?”

“Nada kid, staying alive as Spidey is your job. If you’re being Miles, then it’s a different deal.”

“Ah of course, because me and Spidey are totally different. Not like we’re the same person or anything.”

Flint rolled his eyes, “If you die without your costume on, people will be way more upset. Pro tip kid, go out in your costume so people will think its a heroic death.”

“...Even if it isn’t?” I said slowly, squinting at him.

“Now you catch my drift. Peter’s wasn’t exactly spectacular now was it? But everyone thought he went out with a bang because he was in his costume.”

I winced, “Yeah, let’s use nicer language when talking about him. Capiche?”

He shrugged, turning away. “He was a good fighter, that was for sure. Even if he was a pain in the ass. His puns weren’t even that good.”

“And that’s your cue! I’ve got work to do,” I declared, swinging on my chair so I was facing the desk, and pointedly not Flint.

“See you round kid,” Flint said. And just like that, he disappeared into the wind.

I scrubbed at my eyes. Well, even if I was still iffy on calling Fisk an ally, guess I had to call Flint one.

I almost admired Fisk’s ingenuity. Putting a guy made out of sentient sand all around whatever you wanted to protect was a genius idea. As much as I hated to admit it.


 

I didn’t want to be around Ganke, stuck in the dorm in silence, which was my excuse for why I was back here at the warehouse at ten pm. Not that I needed an excuse to be Spider-Man but-

I landed on the warehouse’s rooftop with a ‘thunk.’ This place still looked dark, grubby and abandoned - to the point where I was tempted to check my gloves for how stained they were.

I climbed through the closest open window and went down the long stairways on a webline. It took me too late to realise that I probably needed a flashlight - since there was no light down here. Guess Alchemax had left? I slapped my hand over my hidden phone pocket. Phew, still had it.

I hit the ground with a small thunk. I crept over to the door and peeked in. There was one small light on, but besides that everything was pretty much the same as how I had left it. Machines broken from their own gunfire, light bulbs burst, and sciency stuff like microscopes spread haphazardly around the place. The one change was that the mutated spider man was gone, only a puddle of blood to show where he had been.

I cracked the door open, wincing at the sound. No alarms started blazing, no traps falling from the ceiling, just an abandoned science lab underneath an abandoned warehouse.

I walked over to the nearest non-broken computer, footsteps echoing endlessly around the room. I pressed the on button and waited. And waited. The computer wouldn’t start. I cursed under my breath. Guess they had shut the power off.

I was walking over to the test tube when I heard an ominous thunk. I stopped in place, camouflaging for good measure. I peeked around the test tube. There was a small light that I hadn’t noticed before - hiding by the very structure I was peeking around.

Curly, fuzzy hair with a colourful headband greeted me. I looked down further and found a way too familiar green suit with four arms sticking out. Gulp.

I jumped onto the ceiling, preparing myself for a fight. “Ms Octavius?” I said tentatively.

She jumped, peered around and then looked up. I briefly uncamouflaged before camouflaging again - letting her know who it was, but still protecting myself.

“Ah, Miles. What can I help you with?” She asked, leaning back over her papers. Wait, papers? Hadn’t noticed that earlier. Had been caught up with the whole ‘sworn enemy’ thing.

“What are you doing here?” I asked after a small pause. She still wasn’t attacking me? I fell back to the floor, standing back a few feet.

She sighed, rubbing her temple. “Alchemax isn’t listening to me. Clearly these human experiments were going to fail - you can’t just mix two differents superhumans DNA and mash it onto another person’s. Especially because we know the mutations of both you and Peter are so specific!”

I blinked a couple of times. My memories flickered back to the invisible man in the bank. He had said that he had me to thank. But if Ms Octavius is telling the truth…

“Me and dead Peter’s?” I asked quietly, taking a nervous step forward.

Octavius swung in her chair, giving me her full attention. I stepped back, getting into a lower crouch. She raised an eyebrow at the motion. “I’m not going to attack you, Morales. I had a look at your science grads actually - pretty impressive, I’m sure you could apply for an internship at Alchemax. Think of the possibilities. I could even mentor you!”

I straightened up and folded my arms. “Um, thanks? But no thanks, I don’t exactly want to work on human experimentation…”

She waved a hand dismissively. “We only started after OWL began funding us. They really wanted super soldiers in such a short span of time, it was ridiculous. Human gene editing is in very early stages right now. They should have given us years!”

“Wait, CRISPR, right?” I probbed.

“Exactly. See not everyone knows about this kind of technology. This is why you should join Alchemax.”

I shook my head. “Not happening. Look, do you know what they’re doing with my DNA? And Peter’s?”

“Of course I do. Head scientist, remember? I wanted to focus back on multiverse travel - we were so close - but funding drives the industry nowadays,” she said, frustration ebbing in every word.

I shrugged, “I would have to shut that down if you tried it again, you know that, right?”

She straightened, but her mouth twitched at the corner. “Bringing people over from other dimensions was never going to work - never in the long term. But don’t you want to see your friends again? I’ve already figured out a new model to-”

I cut her off, “I would love to, but not at the cost of the multiverse collapsing. Sorry.”

She shrugged, “Your loss. I even made it more stable - no more glitching as long as you don’t spend too long in the other dimension.”

“We’re getting off topic again,” I pointed out. “Look, I don’t get it. Why aren’t you attacking me? Threatening my whole family? Being a villain?”

“Me? A villain?” She laughed, slapping her knee. “Scientific advancement isn’t evil.”

I tilted my head up, groaning. “Ok! Not a villain, even though you tried to kill me and Peter and the other spider-people. But you’re not attacking me, why?”

She turned back to her papers, scribbling something down. “Simple, Miles, we aren’t enemies. In fact… I think we could help each other.”

“Oh not this again,” I sighed.

She squinted at me. “Not again?” she echoed.

“Fisk,” I said as way of explanation. She nodded sympathetically.

“Look, I can’t shut down this gene editing and focus on multiverse travel until OWL is no longer funding us. But that won’t happen until OWL is taken down - we all know Leland is trying to be the new Fisk. But you! You can stop Owl. I can’t because I’ll lose my position but you!” She stood up, taking excited steps towards me. “You can’t be stopped. You’re a one man army. And with my inside knowledge, you can do it. Bit of data destroying here - don’t give me that look, we all know about that electric blast that took out this place - bit of jailing Owlsley there, and I’ll get to do what I want again!”

I stepped back, “That… sounds good. But I’ll say what I said to Fisk. Why should I trust you?”

“You’re actually working with Fisk?” She asked, squinting at me suspiciously.

I turned on my heel, pacing restlessly. “You think I want to?” I spat, whirling back around and jabbing a finger in her direction. “Tell me what you would do if everyone was coming for your parents throats and you were offered protection for them?”

She held her hands up in defeat. “Touche. You shouldn’t trust him, he’s a snake. You can trust me because I don’t care about you.”

“...because you don’t care about me?” I repeated slowly.

“Yes, I don’t. I could care less about your family and about you. But what you can do for me? Now that’s something I’m interested in.” She held a hand out for me to shake. “I get what I want, you get what you want. It’s perfect.”

I kept my hands folded. “Alchemax wants me - dead or alive. You’re Alchemax.”

She rolled her eyes. “ Alchemax may want you for the super soldiers experiments. But I don’t. You can keep your powers, your head and your blood.”

I took a deep breath. I grabbed her hand and shook it once. “Fine. But if you try and kill me, capture me or otherwise betray me - deals off.”

She grinned, “You’re going to try and take down OWL anyway, with or without me. I’ll just help you do it more efficiently. Now, since you’re here, do you want to know more about what they’re doing with your DNA?”

I sighed, “Yeah, let me know. Hit me with it.”

She held up the papers in her hand, “Sit down, class is in session.”

I gave her a weird look but complied.

“So, when we kidnapped you we wanted some of your DNA and your blood, right? Well, you might have been confused about why we needed your blood if we were just going to clone you or whatever,” she began.

“Yeah, I mean, I found it odd but I didn’t want to ask…” I said with a small shrug.

“Well, your DNA is fascinating but we think the key to understanding how your powers came about is in your blood. We think that whatever caused the two of you to, well, be Spider-Man, wasn’t through your genetics - necessarily. What caused you to get your powers?” She asked innocently.

I gave her a look. “Uh huh, like I’m going to tell you.”

She shrugged, “Worth a shot. But I’m sure you have some ideas now.”

I rubbed my eyes. It was probably getting late at this point. “Look, what do you know about Owl? Like, where’s he hiding out? What’s his whole plan with me and Peter’s DNA? Who’s he linked to.”

Liv grinned, “I’ll tell you, if you tell me how you got your powers.”

I rolled my eyes, “Should have guessed you would try that. Fine, I got bit by a spider.”

Now she was the one giving me a look like I was an idiot. “You really think I’m going to fall for that? Everyone knows those comic books are fake.”

“I wish I could say I was trying to trick you, I’m really not. That’s how it happened,” I reassured her.

She sighed, “Yeah alright, sure. How about I send you an email? More convenient all around, don’t you think.”

“Why not? Send it that way. I can kick his ass any day of the week.”

Chapter Text

There have been multiple police reports of rising gun activity in the lead up to Kravinoff’s Hunt.

Kravinoff’s Hunt is the internet's name for the upcoming fight between Miles Morales, aka Spider-Man, and Kravinoff. This likely stemmed from the challenge Kravinoff declared - which he himself called a hunt.

With the lead up to Kravinoff’s Hunt, police reports on gun related incidents have been rising in the Tri-State area. With uncertainties facing New York’s hero on his survival following the upcoming encounter-

“I’ll take that,” a passing teacher said, plucking my phone out of my hands. Before I could even protest, the exam paper was placed down in front of me. The third and last of the day.

I watched the teacher put my phone in a bag, which was already overflowing with them. It was fine, I would get my phone back at the end of this exam so I could see what people have been thinking about the… well, the Hunt.

God that was such a terrible name for it. Made me sound like prey, which I wasn’t. I was, surprise, surprise , a human.

I looked up to the front, to find everyone else buried in their exam. The timer had already started. Shoot!

I turned to the first question, trying to ward off the butterflies of thoughts swarming around my head. I had to concentrate. If I could ace this practice exam, I could ace the real thing and get to Princeton, or Harvard, or any good University. Just being Spider-Man wasn’t going to get me into those places. Or it might, depending on my reputation in a couple of years. Well... if I was still alive by then.

So I just had to start answering some questions. Yeah.

My eyes flicked up. Ganke was just a few rows ahead of me, hunched over his paper. I had tried this morning to corner him and apologize but it was like he had gained the superpower of avoidance.

Internally, I sighed. I had been an asshole and I wanted to make it up before Monday. Texting an apology didn’t seem like the way to do it either. If I had to, I would. 

I rubbed my eyes. C’mon, there's work to do. Focus.

But Monday… Monday swirled in my mind like dark grey clouds signalling a terrible storm. It was sort of hard to think about a test - a practice one at that - when everything with Fisk and Owl was going down. I wanted to at least take down Owl before Monday, but deep down, in my gut, I knew that wouldn’t happen.

There was no one but me to deal with these asshats, but what would happen if I’m gone? Well, maybe someone would step up like I had? They didn’t even have to have spider powers, or any for that matter. Just a good pair of fists and a strong will. 

Wow, that was cliche.

First question, right, start. I already lost so much time thinking. Man, I was such a screw-up.

Even as I filled in the first bubble, I knew I had lost too much time. I didn’t even want to look up to see how long I had left. I could hear people flipping their paper all over the hall but I only answered the first question.

Why couldn’t I get it together? It’s just a test! I’ve been studying for it. This shouldn’t be a big deal and yet…

By the time they called for time, I had only finished a page and a half of questions. I had failed.


 

Every swing, every leap, every bounce off of a building, chipped at the energy thrumming through me. I didn’t want to go home, even though it was Friday and after dark, because I didn’t want Mom or Dad to see me like this.

They would ask how the test had gone and I didn’t want to stack another lie on the pile. It was too much, I couldn’t do it. Lying to them about my hand, not telling them what I’ve been doing, how I’m the reason Dad got shot in the foot… I couldn’t. Not one more, it would break me.

So I needed something to beat up. It would be pretty simple, but it was impossible to find anyone for no reason! The one time I need someone around, they’re all hiding away not robbing banks.

And maybe that would have been alright, if there was some alternative thing I could do. Like beat up Owl. But Liv still hadn’t sent me that email so I just didn’t know who to face.

I mean, I would love to punch Fisk in his stupid square face, but I would probably get crushed again. Even now, remembering the aching, broken ribs from the collider fight made me wince.

Kravinoff was and wasn’t an option. He was an option because I was going to face him anyway, and it would be way easier if I got the drop on him now instead of Monday. Like, I could maybe survive this showdown if I had any advantage. The thing was, I didn’t know where he was either. Probably hiding in some alleyway in Midtown, counting down the hours before the fight would begin.

Owl wasn’t an option until Liv told me where to find him, which sucked majorly but that was life. I wanted to show him up for what he did to Dad.

Sandman was an ally, and also I didn’t want sand all through my costume. That would be a pain to get out. So he’s out.

Skeleton guy was nowhere to be found, and I probably wouldn’t see him until I tried to face Owl. I did want to give him a solid punch in revenge for my hand and Dad. Especially Dad. If I could get him right in the nose, preferably breaking it, I would feel somewhat satisfied. Owl would be doubly satisfying.

Liv was, unfortunately, an ally. Which tossed Alchemax into the mix of ‘can’t fight’ too because Liv was already feeding me the information to stop the evil stuff going on. I just had to stop Owl. Which I still couldn’t fight because Liv was taking her sweet, sweet time.

Chameleon hadn’t popped up since the bank robbery, so I couldn’t do anything about him. Maybe I would get to punch him, or her, in the face when I faced Owl. Maybe… Or maybe they had been working with Fisk. Either way, some punching needed to happen.

So, for once in what felt like ages (but was really only a couple of weeks) all I had left to do was patrol. Just swing, pass the people on the streets, and ignore people asking for selfies. It was much easier just pretending I didn’t hear them asking then getting weirdly stressed out about my mask-  like that demanding lady a couple weeks after the whole kidnapping.

To my secret delight, twenty minutes of swinging later I spotted something odd. Well, maybe not odd per se, but suspicious.

There were some people holding guns, standing in front of a backstreet door. The door wasn’t particularly fancy, either. I would have liked to think that maybe it was security for something innocent, but my gut was telling me to investigate. It was just the two guards with a small light above them revealing them.

I landed on a building opposite it, trying to spot a way in. There was nothing, no windows either. But, to be fair, I didn’t have the best vantage spot either plus it was pretty dark.

I camouflaged and backed away from the edge of the building. Deep breath. I sprinted towards the edge and jumped across the street, landing with a roll and standing back up in one move. I resisted the urge to stretch my hands out like a gymnast finishing a trick.

I jogged over to the edge of the building, just above the two henchmen. They didn’t appear to have communicators on them, but they did have guns and if they really were doing something suspect and I alerted everyone inside, that wouldn’t end well for me.

Then again… if I camouflaged and knocked out the light, how terrifying would that be? Or even something more mischievous? Psychological warfare was a good option, all things considered.

With my mind made up, I slowly crawled down the wall. I bit my lip, holding in the laughter threatening to bubble up.

I tapped the one to my left on the shoulder.

“What’s up, Dave?” Left guy said to Right guy.

Right guy - Dave, turned to him. “What?”

“You poked me. What do you want?”

“I didn’t poke you. You’re imagining things, dude. I told you to stop drinking so much,” Dave said with a sigh.

“I did stop. And I’m not hallucinating. I told you that stopped happening, like, a week ago.”

“Whatever, dude,” Dave grumbled.

They both turned back to the alleyway, shuffling until they were comfortable. I waited at least ten seconds before poking left guy again.

“Dude! Stop doing that!” Left guy shouted, whirling around.

Dave threw his hands up in the air, gun pointing at the sky. “I ain’t done nothing! You knock it off!”

“I didn’t do jack. You keep your hands to yourself, asshole,” Left guy spat.

Now with folded arms and hackles raised, Left guy and Dave pointedly positioned themselves so they had their backs to each other. Perfect. I shuffled over so I was right above Dave.

In the blink of an eye, I had webbed his mouth shut, webbed his hand to his gun and wrapped him up in a cocoon. I dragged him up the wall, struggling and squirming but blissfully silent. I tossed him against an air vent and left him to think about his wrong doings.

I crawled back down the wall. The camouflage was starting to get painful, but this would take only a moment. I tapped Left guy on the shoulder again.

“Dave! I told you…” his words drifted off as he saw that the spot previously occupied by Dave was empty. He slowly looked around, gun up and scanning. I could see his hand shaking.

I had probably put left guy through enough. I tapped him on the shoulder just as I let the camouflage drain away. “Hi.”

“Spide-!” I muffled him with a web before he could alert anyone else and did the same to him as I had Dave.

Once he was deposited, I rolled my shoulders and stretched. Now to see what all the security was about. For good measure I camouflaged once again. I tried the door. Locked. Really shouldn’t have expected anything else.

I took a deep breath. I had to make some noise if I wanted to look inside. With a small, sharp movement I knocked the door out of the lock and it swung open.

What a discovered inside was… well, nothingness. The whole place was swamped in black. I even let my camouflage seep away.

I tentatively stepped inside, straining to see anything. There was the outline of boxes, one was even open but I couldn’t see what was inside. I crept forward, arguing with myself if I should bring out my phone’s flashlight. On the one hand, it didn’t seem like anyone was around and I couldn’t see jack. On the other hand, if there were people around I would immediately alert them to my presence.

Before I could make a decision, the lights came on in a blinding flash of light. If this was a stereotypical horror movie, this would be the moment a jump scare happened. Instead, when I opened my eyes I was greeted to a guy standing on a crate twenty or so meters away from me. He was wearing what looked like a fishbowl on his head and was covered head to toe in a padded green suit. To top all this off, he was wearing a purple cape.

I resisted the urge to facepalm.

“Welcome, Miles, I see you have stumbled across my warehouse,” Fishbowl began, casually stepping off the box and sauntered towards me.

I crouched uneasily, looking around for any other guards. No one in sight, but I couldn’t be certain because besides the strip between myself and fishbowl there was no light. “Yep, seems like I have. Who are you?”

“Name’s Mysterio, and you’ll do well to know my name. I work with OWL after all, and we all know what an enemy you have made of us,” he said with a small shrug. Like just the word OWL hadn’t set my nerves on edge. He was still coming closer. A headache was forming behind my eyes.

“Just for the record,” I began, throwing my hands up in the air, “I didn’t mean to stumble across you guys. I see guns, I investigate. Just so happens you work with OWL.”

“I can believe that, since you are the ‘hero’ of New York. Tell me, does something feel familiar about me?” Mysterio asked, voice low like he was revealing a secret. That headache was getting worse, pounding now. Distracting.

“Nope. The fishbowl is pretty unique, I think I would remember,” I commented absently, rubbing at my temple. If this headache could go away, that would be great. I might have to fight in a second and it was really distracting.

Mysterio tipped his head side to side, a so-so motion. “I can’t argue with that. Now, down to business. I’m going to give you a moment to give up your blood, DNA, etc etc, or else I’m going to have to take you by force.”

My blood ran cold. I could barely swallow, my mouth had gone dry. “Sorry, did I hear you right?”

“Owl’s orders. You know how it is.” Mysterio laughed a grainy laugh, like he really thought something was funny. “I mean, at least now you might realise where you’ll know me from.”

I couldn’t help myself, I stumbled back. But in the same instance, Mysterio raised his hands and green smoke filled the air. It surrounded me in every direction, the smoke so thick that I quickly lost track of where the exit was. The was pretty scary, but that wasn’t what had me terrified.

My Spider-sense was hammering at my skull like a siren. It was crippling, to the point I could barely move a muscle without it escalating ever higher. I grabbed at my head, squeezing like it would relieve the pressure.

It wouldn’t stop! Something was wrong and everything felt like it would kill me! I grit my teeth, struggling to keep myself standing.

There was a prick at my shoulder. I whirled around, trying to fight, trying to see where Mysterio was, but the crippling pain from my spider-sense had me hunched over.

It felt like the whole city would explode, that’s how bad my spider-sense was going off.

Another flash through the smoke and I was kicked to the ground, followed by a stomp to my ribs. I lashed out, kicking out with my feet, but only connected to the haze of green.

What was wrong with me? I had to get out of here!

I pushed myself to my knees. Before I could get any higher than that, there was a slicing pain and chains were wrapped around my arms. They were familiar in the worst way. I felt helpless, stuck on my knees and waiting for the next round of needles.

I tried to draw a breath, my chest heaving, but I was drowning. Nothing got to my lungs. Every breath felt like agony, with no reward at the end. I tried to wrench forward, out of the metal chains, but it wouldn’t budge.

I was stuck. Oh god I was stuck. I couldn’t breathe and I was stuck and I could hear something moving towards me and oh god I was going to die .

“And that, boys, is how we catch a spider,” Mysterio murmured from in front of me.

Chapter Text

The smoke slowly cleared, revealing Mysterio standing in front of me with twenty or so guards behind him. He had his arms stretched out, like he was a ringmaster at a circus, marvelling over his work.

Slowly my Spider-sense quieted, until it was no longer an overwhelming mess. I still couldn’t breathe, my chest was heaving like I was suffocating, but I could focus on what was happening. Not to mention that I could see again.

The chains pinning me had the chains buried into the ground. Whatever weight they had keeping me down was under the floor. The metal ring linked to the chains were thick, about as thick as the ring in Alchemax had been. Plus it was the same color. I would be able to bend it, if I could reach my hand across to do it.

Since my legs weren’t bound and the chains were going down into the floor, I could wrench myself out with a bit of clever thinking.

I knew I had the strength. I just had to do it.

I looked back up at what Mysterio was doing. He was still talking to the guards, posturing about how smart he was for capturing me. Yeah, not for long buddy. Your back is turned to me, wrong move.

I pinned my left hand’s chain to the floor with my knee. Still watching Mysterio, I grabbed the chain with my left hand and began slowly stretching it. It hurt; the angle was off and it left my wrist aching in protest. Yet, twenty seconds or so of stretching later and the chain snapped with a loud ‘twang.’ Shoot.

Mysterio whirled around, spotted me with a broken chain, and came storming over shouting, “Your strength shouldn’t be working!”

I got off the ground and tore at my last chain. I wasn’t out in time. Mysterio cracked me across the face with such force behind it that if I hadn’t had a mouth guard in I would have lost a tooth or two.

Still reeling from the pain, I shot out and kicked him square in the guts. He was sent flying across the room, straight into some of the guards headed my way. With one last wrench, I snapped the chain.

The metal rings I could worry about later- right now I had to get out of here.

I tried to thwip a web, but all I heard was a fizzle. Right, the chains had snapped over my webshooters. I would have to remake them, or ask May for a new pair. So, with no other option I turned and ran towards the doors.

My footsteps thundered on the concrete floor, behind me I could hear the stampede of guards coming after me. My spider-sense rose and fell in confusing waves. I couldn’t tell what I was supposed to look out for. But I did know when a bullet whistled past me, an inch away from my face, that I was in bigger trouble than I thought.

I slammed full force into the doors, snapping them out of their hinges and sending them smacking into the alleyway wall. I followed it, using my momentum to bounce off the wall and up onto the warehouse roof.

I raced across several buildings, jumping over streets and generally doing everything I could to stay far away from any following guards. When I finally couldn’t hear them anymore I stopped. I was almost all the way home when I finally felt safe.

I collapsed against an air-conditioning unit, gasping for breath. I felt like I hadn’t had a lung full of air since the smoke had surrounded me. I tore my mask off and haphazardly dropped it beside me. I couldn’t stop the hysterical laughter that bubbled up, leaving me bent in half and wheezing.

I had almost been captured again. Wow , that had been way too close for comfort. I mean, Owl wanted me before Alchemax could sink their teeth into me. I probably would have ended up dead in a ditch, or worse, cut up into pieces and stuffed in jars. Just like that , because one guy with a fishbowl on his head had overwhelmed me.

I scrubbed my face, trying to get a grip. It had to have been that gas, there was no way it was anything else. My Spider-sense had never been that loud or persistent… ever. Except when I had been kidnapped.

I could figure that out later. First I wanted this freaking metal off my arm.

I got up, snagging my mask and stuffing it in my pocket. Wow, I really was close to home. It was only a block or two away, I could see it from my vantage point.

I quickly jumped my way over and climbed into my window. I still let the moonlight stream into my bedroom, naively hoping that if I didn’t turn the light on Mom and Dad wouldn’t realise I was home.

I couldn’t get my suit off until I removed the chains. I had to get them off.

With each hand able to reach the other, it was only a matter of getting my hands underneath and forcing the rings big enough for my hand to slip out. Simple. I began to do it on my left hand’s ring, wincing at the screeching noise.

It took a good five minutes of careful bending before I could slip my hand out. I put it on my desk to deal with later - or to deal with never. At the very least they were trophies of my stupidity. I rubbed absently at the muscles that had been trapped.

The webshooter was smashed, some small pieces stuck in my skin. Not a good look. I didn’t really want to tell May how close I had been to being kidnapped for a second time, but she would probably want the story. I unhooked the webshooter, or what remained of it, and put it with the metal ring.

Unfortunately, when I was fiddling with the second ring, I ripped too hard and an eerie screech like a bat echoed around the house. I paused, waiting to see what would happen, and sure enough I heard footsteps coming my way.

I almost climbed out the window, but thought better of it. It was late at night already, I did need to sleep at some point. Plus, I would have to face them tomorrow anyway.

The door creaked open, Dad’s head peeking through. He spotted me sitting in the dark and swung the door the rest of the way open. Mom was standing there too, still in her scrubs, with her arms folded.

“Uh, hey,” I began quietly. I tucked my right hand behind my back, trying to hide the chains. “Sorry I snuck in. Are you guys okay?”

Mom stepped in, turning the light on as she came over to me. “We’re fine. But we need to talk, Miles.”

A rock of dread dropped into my stomach, weighing me down. Dad went over and sat on my desk. “One of your teachers informed us that you didn’t do very well on your practice exams. We made a deal, buddy, you can’t be Spider-man if you’re falling behind.”

I sat up straighter. “It was a practice one Dad, I’ll do better on the real one.”

Mom sighed. “We know. You’re smart. But you have been getting hurt being Spider-Man. I was hoping you would come to me after Tuesday, but you didn’t.”

I swallowed, resisting the urge to rub at my palm and reveal the metal ring. “It wasn’t as bad as it looked in the videos, I didn’t think it was a big deal.” Lies, it was as bad as it looked, but I just healed quickly. 

“You still should’ve told me. I don’t care if its a scrape or a wound. I made you promise to let me know. If I can’t trust you with the small stuff, how can I trust you with the big stuff?” Mom pressured me.

“Sorry,” I mumbled. There was nothing else to say. “I’ll focus more on school after Monday.”

They glanced between each other. Dad was the one to finally speak. “We thought that maybe you should stop being Spider-man, just until this blows over.”

Cold dread washed over me. I couldn’t stop, not now, not when everything was at stake. “Dad, you can’t do that. It won’t go away.”

He shook his head. “The police will handle it, Miles. You don’t have to be a one-man army.”

“They won’t though,” I said slowly, voice dead serious. “You don’t know who I’m facing, Dad. These people have their hands in every pot.”

“Why haven’t you told us this then, Miles?” Mom demanded, standing up. “You haven’t been telling us anything that’s been happening. Not since the hospital.”

“Because you would stop me being Spider-man! I can’t stop, OWL has been experimenting on humans-”

Dad was quick to cut me off. “Then why didn’t you tell me? I would have been able to get a warrant for their arrest-”

“That’s just it, Dad! It’s OWL through Alchemax. They’re using my DNA to hurt people and I can’t just sit here and do nothing while people are getting hurt because of me ,” I spat out, throwing my free hand out.

Mom took a deep breath. “Not everything that happens is your fault. You didn’t know they were doing that. You didn’t approve it.”

With great power comes great responsibility . Don’t make me stop, not now,” I pleaded. “Not with everything that’s happening. People will get killed and the police are barely doing anything-”

Dad stood up, looming over me. I cut myself off, swallowing my words. “Give us your costume. Take it off. Now.”

I sat there, still hiding the metal ring beneath my leg. There was no way I would get up. That would lead to more questions and I couldn’t face what had happened - not yet. I didn’t want to explain it.

Dad gave me a warning look. “Miles. I give you to the count of three. One… Two... -”

He reached out to grab me, to keep me in place. But my adrenaline was still running on high and I was camouflaged before I knew it. I backed away, onto the windowsill and forced myself to become visible again.

The metal ring was visible to them.

Mom covered her mouth in shock, Dad’s frown deepening further. I could see the questions forming.

I didn’t want to think about how I could have died, and neither of them would have known for who knows how long. I didn’t want to think about whether they would have ever found out if I was alive or dead. When I was dead in a jar waiting for my parts to be experimented on.

I fled.

Chapter Text

May’s house loomed above me. 

In the grand scheme of things, it really hadn’t been that long since I had been in front of May’s door. It had been less than a week, after all. But for some reason, it felt like a lifetime had passed.

It almost had, really. I’d been stabbed, cut, allied with my worst enemy, and generally, life had just fallen apart. On Monday, I had thought that maybe I could take this all on– face Kravinoff, take down Owl, and be done with it. Now, I had another enemy– and the sinking feeling that Kravinoff was going to be hard to beat.

History may just repeat itself. New York would be without a Spider-Man. This time, however, there would be no protege to step in.

I took a deep breath, shaking my hands out. Even though I’d taken the metal off my hands, I could feel the indents they’d left. It was just May. It wasn’t like I didn’t talk to her; we weren't strangers. We knew each other. I shouldn’t have been this nervous.

Except I was working with the guy who killed Peter. There really was no going back from that.

One deep breath later, I knocked on the door. There was some shuffling around before the front door swung open, May standing in the door frame in a robe and slippers. Oh yeah, it had been pretty late after all. I had probably woken her up, like an asshole. Such a screw up...

As soon as she saw who it was, May lit up, but her face fell quickly when she looked over me. In a scruffy Spider-Man costume, mask stuffed haphazardly in my pocket, absently rubbing at my wrists... She gave me a once-over before pulling me inside, closing the door and snapping all the locks shut.

“What’s happened?” she asked, hands on her hips.

I smiled weakly, eyes dropping to my feet. “Lots of stuff.”

“Are you hurt?” May questioned suspiciously, giving me a more thorough inspection.

“It’s healing,” I said, instead of lying. Mysterio hadn’t hurt me, but Taskmaster was still fresh.

May gave me a look ; she knew what I was trying to do, but thankfully she didn’t comment on it. “I was going to call you tomorrow,” she said, leading me through the house and out into the backyard. “The new suit is done.”

The spider-bunker’s door opened and we stepped onto the elevator. As we descended, I spotted what I assumed was my new suit surrounded with scraps of fabric and welders. She really had gone all out. When we were on the ground I walked over to the suit, skimming my hand over it. I marvelled at the texture. It felt artificial, leathery, but still as soft as silk.

“Water-tight, electricity proof, tear-resistant.  All major body parts are covered in a bullet-proof layer. Your mask has a built-in oxygen supply, plus an emergency signal you can activate that will give us a location and tell us what your stats are. There’s some other stuff, but those are the main things. It should help keep you safe,” May explained, listing off on her fingers as she sat down in her chair.

“Thank you,” I croaked, feeling my heart sink. The guilt rose in its place, choking me. I didn’t deserve it. Not after this week. Not after these past few months. I kept messing up so bad.

May got up and moved towards me. She put a comforting hand on my shoulder. She hesitated, then said, “Your parents called.” I looked into her eyes, but she wasn’t angry. She was concerned. “They sounded very worried and wanted to know if you were with me. Miles, what’s going on?”

“I fucked up,” I managed to choke out. I felt tears well up and I tried desperately to blink them away. One fell despite my best efforts. Then another, and another, until a river came down my face and sobs tore my throat apart. She pulled me into a hug, stroking my hair as I wailed my agony, quietly shushing me.

“It’s okay,” she murmured, rocking me back and forth. “You’re okay.”

I shook my head into her shoulder. “I-I don’t know how to f-f-fix this–” Sobs cut me off and I just let myself go.

She waited until I burned myself out; tears stained her robe, but she paid no mind. Only when I was quiet did she let me go, leading me to her desk and sitting me down. “I can help you, Miles. Whatever you’ve done, we can fix it.”

“I… I just wanted to protect all of you. Owl and Kravinoff threatened you and then he showed up offering protection and-and I had to go along with it. He’s everywhere–” I ramble out, words falling all over each other.

“Who?” May cut in.

I buried my face in my hands, trying desperately to breathe and keep from crying again. “Fisk. He’s quietly come back and offered to ally himself with me and protect all of you if I take down Owl. I’m sorry, I’m so sorry. But he would kill you if I hadn’t taken his deal right then and there.”

She looked at me, her eyes searching my soul. I felt small and guilty. So, so guilty. I wasn’t cut out to be a superhero. Not after this.

May gently peeled my hands away from my face. “You know,” she began, “heroes have to make hard choices all the time. You didn’t see many options– you took the best one of the bunch. And who knows, maybe we can use this alliance to our advantage?”

I wiped my face, “I guess… aren’t you mad at me?”

She sighed. “Yes. But you’re a kind-hearted boy. You didn’t do it to hurt me; you did it to try and protect this little old lady.”

A small smile tugged at my face despite myself. “Thanks, May. For everything.”

She stood up. “Now, mister, you’ve caused quite a lot of chaos. Time to face the music.”

“Huh?” I said, eloquently.

Her eyebrow twitched up, “Your parents called me in a panic. I think it’s time they know you’re safe and sound.”

I wince, my gaze shifting to the floor. “They want me to stop being… Spider-Man.”

May grabbed her phone, tapping away at the screen. “We’ll see about that. We just need to make some adjustments, that’s all.”

“I can’t stop, not now,” I tacked on with a weak shrug.

She just smiled knowingly. “I know. It’s the Spider-Man way.”

I fiddled with my hands as she kept on typing. “Do you think they’ll be mad at me?”

May pursed her lips, pausing. “I… don’t think so. They’re worried; it’s hard to see your kid go out every night putting themselves in harm’s way. But we all know how important you are, we’ll figure something out.”

I let out a breath I had been holding. “Thanks, May.”

 


 

One shower and a fresh change of clothes later, and I was curled up on May’s couch, nursing a mug of hot chocolate. The oversized hoodie I was wearing was dusty and old, like it had been sitting in a wardrobe untouched for months, but it was cozy and warm. I was so comfortable I could have fallen asleep, but my heart kept pounding out of my chest in panic, knowing Mum and Dad were coming.

The doorbell rang and May opened it. I could hear them talking to each other, but I did my best to ignore their voices. I didn’t want to intrude.

They walked into the room and their eyes fell on me. I barely held the stare before I dropped my eyes back to my mug. “Hey,” I mumbled.

“Hey, sport,” Dad started hesitantly. “You doing okay?”

“Yeah,” I said quietly. He didn’t look convinced, if his glance at Mom was anything to go by, but they just sat down on the adjacent couch.

May came in a minute later with three mugs, passing them out to Mom and Dad before sitting down herself. She took a sip before she began. “Well, we all know why we’re here. But, I think it would help if Miles told you both what has been happening. Everything. Miles?”

All their eyes fell on me. I wanted to camouflage so bad, and I could feel my hand flickering in and out, but I had to talk. 

So I did. I told them everything. About how Alchemax had been the one to kidnap me, how they had done it under OWL and Fisk. How OWL had been the one to shoot Dad as a warning to me to stay out of their business, how Fisk had offered his allegiance in return for OWL’s destruction. They didn’t interrupt me, they just let me stumble my way through an explanation until finally, I went quiet.

“Mijo, why didn’t you tell us?” Mom asked.

I shrugged weakly. “I knew you guys would try to stop me from being Spider-Man. But this is my responsibility.”

“You have a responsibility to be a kid, too,” Dad argued, leaning forward. “Spider-Man isn’t everything.”

“But Spider-Man is part of who I am, and… and I’m proud of all it’s allowed me to do. It’s not fun all the time, but it's rewarding. Like you, Dad, managing to put criminals in jail; or you, Mom, managing to save patient’s lives and see them come out the other side okay. Some of these bad guys need someone with a bit more, well, power to beat. Bullets can’t stop a guy like Taskmaster,” I explained, watching the froth in my hot chocolate swirl around.

Dad still didn’t look happy. “Cops still are important–”

“I never said they weren’t, Dad. I just want to help stop the bad guy, and sometimes I’m there first or I have the firepower needed to turn the tide. I just want to help.”

“Then… can you promise to let us help you, then, Miles? We can’t help you if you don’t tell us anything. Preocupamos por ti, mijo. We worry,” Mom said. I nodded slowly. She smiled.

May finally spoke up, directing her words at Mom and Dad. “I’ve built a new suit for him, outfitted with as much tech as I could possibly put in. I can go over it with you later. Miles isn’t going to stop, so the more resources we give him, the safer he will be.” Mom and Dad hesitated but agreed.

Just like that, things were resolved. As topic turned to lighter conversation, I sipped at my lukewarm hot chocolate lost in thought. There really was only one more thing I needed to set my mind at ease before Monday. “Hey, uh, with this Kravinoff fight,” I began, interrupting their conversation, “I was hoping maybe you guys could hole up somewhere safe? Everything's going to get crazy and I don’t want you guys in harm's way.”

May hummed, then nodded. “My spider-bunker should be safe enough; no one knows about it except you and Mary Jane. Will that work?”

I smiled, relieved. “Definitely.”

 


 

It was late when we got home, leaving me glad it was the weekend. But before I could wander off to bed, Mom lead me into the study. She booted up her laptop, and as I watched, she put in a sick day for Monday for me.

“There,” she said, “now you have one less thing to worry about, conejito . And remember, the cops are on your side. They all know what’s going on and are prepared to help.”

I nodded, smiling. “Thanks, Mom.”

She sighed, taking my hand and giving it a squeeze. “I’m scared for you, conejito , I don’t want you to get hurt.”

“I know. I’m sorry,” I said quietly, squeezing her hand back.

She shook her head. “Just continue to make us proud, mijo . You already do.”

I gave her a big hug. She really was the best.

 


 

The next morning I woke up to a message from Ganke.

Ganke: Hey man, I’m sorry about Wednesday. You’re right and Spider-Man is your business. Sorry I bothered you so much

I stared at the message, unthinking for a long moment until I finally replied.

Miles: I shouldn’t have snapped at you. I’m sorry. It was pretty crap of me

Miles: You were just being a good friend

Ganke: It’s okay

I rolled over onto my back, arms outstretched. I had been a douche, I really had. I grabbed my phone and hovered it above my face.

Miles: Still my guy in the chair

Ganke: Always

I smiled, a weight finally lifted off of my chest, making it easier to breathe. Everything was okay; I hadn’t screwed up our relationship forever. It was all okay. But there was still one more thing I wanted.

Miles: Look, I was wondering if maybe you and your family could go over to May’s place on Monday? She’s got a pretty safe place for you guys to be in and it would just be a weight off my mind

There was a pause before he replied.

Ganke: Yeah I’ll talk to my parents about it. It should be easy enough to convince them

Ganke: ...Are you ready for Kravinoff?

Miles: No, but I’ll do my bes.

Chapter Text

Monday came.

There I was, hovering around Times Square, waiting for the big event. I could see cameras milling around, news anchors putting in their two cents about this ‘anticipated event’. I could even see a couple who had spotted me and started filming.

I sat quietly, knees up to my chest as I waited on one of the many billboards. To say I had butterflies was an understatement. It was just another fight, right? But, I had never had a definite prospect of a fight before. It was going to happen. I had never had the time to think about the big fights I was jumping into, but this was different.

Any moment now, he could turn up, or maybe he wouldn’t show up at all. Maybe he would make me wait restlessly for hours on end. He never did say a time, just the day and place. It was only nine am, after all.

There was a small commotion below, and when I looked down I saw a limousine pull up, forcing the crowd to part. I hesitantly leaned forward, watching Kravinoff step out of the car. He was wearing the same lion themed get-up, this time with extra shiny metal guards on his shoulders and wrists. Maybe he even had a metal layer under his dark shirt.

He walked forward, pulling a knife out from his belt and casually inspecting it. He came to a stop, then looked around. I stood up, heart pounding out of my chest. This was it. I swallowed, then shouted, “Kravinoff!”

Kravinoff looked up, finally spotting me. Even from my vantage point far above him I could see his toothy, confident grin. “So, the contender turned up.”

“Yeah, I turned up,” I said, crossing my arms. “You literally threatened my family.”

Kravinoff shrugged nonchalantly, and my blood boiled. “Well, they’re safe. For now.”

I slid off the edge of the building, landing with a neat shoulder roll and standing up in one smooth motion. I was only a few feet away from him. “You keep them out of this! I held up my end of the bargain.”

In a whirl of motion Kravinoff dove forward. I hit the ground, and as he stumbled over me I kicked him in the back. He was thrown several feet forward and into a van, denting the metal. The news crew backed up, camera focused on him.

I got up, dusting my hands. “Can’t we just discuss this over coffee or something? No family threatening involved. Is killing a teenager really the best way to prove you are the world’s greatest hunter?”

My spider-sense went off like an air horn. On instinct, I flung myself into the air, using a web to pull me higher, only to realise moments later what had made me move. There were daggers in the air, headed straight for the onlookers and where I had just been. Time slowed down as I webbed up as many of the dozen knives as I could. One still hit the side of a van, but no one was hurt.

I breathed out a sigh of relief, but I had to get this fight away from here. Kravinoff didn’t care who he would hurt getting me, but where could I go?

My spider-sense screeched, but I was too slow. As I turned around to face the oncoming threat, I hit the ground in a blinding flash of pain. I put my hands up, managing to block another punch but as I pulled my legs in to kick him, he grabbed them.

Metal glinted in the morning sun as Kravinoff reared his knife up to strike. I braced my arms against the ground, gritting my teeth. In one motion I flipped us both, me on to my belly and him straight into the ground. He let go and I webbed the nearest light pole, pulling myself off the ground and into the air.

I crouched on the pole, catching my breath. Kravinoff didn’t even look distressed as he turned back to face me, but he certainly looked angry. He readjusted his grip on the knife as I said, “Seriously, my head isn’t that interesting. Especially with a mask on. Not wall material, yeah?”

“We shall see about that, arachnid,”  Kravinoff said, rolling his shoulders.

Before he could make his next move, I launched myself off the pole at him. He swung his dagger at me, trying to use my momentum against me, but I ducked lower, going for his legs. I kicked his legs out from under him and jumped away before he could retaliate.

But he did retaliate! He was too fast. He grabbed my legs and tugged me hard into the ground. I put my hands up to protect my face, but that wasn’t what he was going for. He went for my stomach. He slashed into it, the sickening feeling numbed by the adrenaline. He reared up to go again, but I webbed his bloodied dagger up and tugged it out of his hand, sending it flying away from the fight. I kicked him in the stomach and got to my feet.

I backed up, looking down at my new wound. It was bleeding heavily, but as I tenderly touched it I realised it wasn’t as deep as I thought. My hand slippery with blood, I could feel the jagged edges of my slashed suit. The enhancements had protected me from what could have been a killing blow. I wiped the blood off my hand and onto my legs.

I glanced to the crowd. The news crews were rapidly talking, focused in on my blunder. The crowd looked shocked, some looked like they were ready to hurl. Kravinoff was getting to his feet, brushing himself off. Unscathed, unhurt.

This wasn’t working. I didn’t want my dying breaths to be in front of cameras. I didn’t want anyone but me to get hurt. The confined space forced on us by the crowd worked to his advantage, not mine. Especially since any one of these people could get hurt if they interfered.

And there, on the ground, was a sewer hole. It would be dark and away from onlookers. Perfect.

I webbed the sewer hole as Kravinoff came to make his next move, then swung it around and hurled it at him. He caught it, but my web was still attached. I yanked it towards me and he stumbled forward. One more web aimed at his feet and I dragged him into the sewer, spitting curses at me. I heard the wet thud as he hit the ground.

I straightened up, walking towards the sewer hole. I leaned over it, arms outstretched to get the fight over with. A flash in the dark was the only warning I got. He grabbed my leg, dragging me down in a shocking moment of vertigo. I landed awkwardly on my side.

I had no time to recover. Like a ragdoll, he threw me into the air and smacked me into the ground. I tried to grab onto the ground, but it was all for naught. Kravinoff picked me up from the ground and threw me as hard as he could.

Crunch.

I skidded to a stop at the bend of the sewer. I looked up fuzzily, finding Kravinoff stalking towards me like a lion closing in on his prey. “What was the American rhyme?” He asked rhetorically, smirking. “Itsy Bitsy Spider. Down came the rain and washed the spider out, down into the sewer where he fell prey to the bigger predators of the land.”

As I stood up, I tried to put weight on my left foot and a fuzzy, aching numbness struck me like the thunder before the storm. Something was terribly wrong with my ankle. Oh no.

“Yeah, that’s not how it goes, you didn’t even do the rhythm of the rhyme” I rebuffed, glancing around desperately. This wasn’t working. What could I do? Now I hurt my ankle and I didn’t want to know how badly , and this guy had a knife. And he wanted to kill me.

...maybe I could work with this.

He tilted his head to the side. “Owl is going to be very happy with me. Easiest prey I’ve ever caught.”

My eyes widened, then narrowed. I crouched lower, carefully keeping my weight off my left foot. “Course you were working with him. Who isn’t these days? The president? Never mind, that orange probably does too.”

He was closing in on me fast. I glanced down at the ground. Sewer water slowly bubbled down the path, splitting at my feet and turning down two different paths. One to my left and one to my right. There was a rock at my feet.

Putting one hand up like I was going to web him up, I ‘absently’ grabbed at the rock. Kraven was only two table lengths away. He grabbed at the remaining dagger hanging off his belt and tilted it side to side. “Good fight arachnid, now surrender and I’ll make your death painless.”

Now!

I kicked the water at my feet, flicking it up into his face. He spluttered, trying to wipe the grunge out of his eyes. I lunged forward and punched him as hard as I could in the stomach, knocking him several feet back. Now here was where my true plan came into action. I threw a rock to my right, camouflaged and jumped onto the ceiling.

Kravinoff got the last of the sewer water out of his eyes, practically growling. “You think you’re so clever!” He shouted, making me cringe and flatten myself further into the ceiling. “Well, run away little spider! You’re only delaying the inevitable.”

I forgot how to breathe as he looked around, then stormed off to the right. I waited until his footsteps faded into the background, covered up by the trickling water before I dropped back to the floor. I hurriedly limped around the left bend, trying to get as much distance as I could.

This was only temporary. I would have to fight him and take him down. He would go after Mum and Dad, and then where would I be at? Screwed.

I slumped down against a wall, tucking my left foot closer to me. How do I wrap a broken foot again? With shaking hands, I did my best to wrap it tightly and correctly. In all likelihood I would have to use my foot again if I was going to take down Kravinoff. But I was in a little bit of pain. I pressed my foot down against the floor, putting a bit of pressure on it. I bit my lip so hard I could feel it bleeding as the agony swept through me. Yeah, no, not good, but it would have to do. I could deal with it. It’s fine .

I gave myself a few seconds to breathe before I turned to the slash on my stomach. It wasn’t good, but it wasn’t terrible. I webbed it up, covering it with a thick layer of protective webbing.

With myself sorted, I turned my attention back to the sewer tunnels. I could hear his heavy footsteps not too far away, his enraged breathing sending shivers down my spine. He may be working for Owl, but he wasn’t like Mysterio, who had seemed detached from the whole fight. No, Kravinoff was out for my blood.

I pulled myself up off the ground. The sooner I took him down, the sooner I could take down Owl, and the sooner I could beat Fisk.

Besides, I could camouflage. I had webbing. I could climb walls and venom strike. If I could get one good hit he would be down. Right?

“Where are you, little spider?” Kravinoff taunted, a metallic scrape echoing around me. He was dragging his knife along the wall.

I limped along, camouflaged. I wouldn’t let him surprise me. No way.

There was a pause, and Kravinoff sighed disdainfully. “If you don’t come out, well, then this isn’t really a fight then, is it? Your parents’ heads are mine...”

I stopped breathing as Kravinoff rounded the corner, manic eyes dancing across the room. I grit my teeth, lowering myself to the floor. I wouldn’t ever let him hurt my family.

I dashed forward, jumping at Kravinoff as fast as a bullet. My camouflage seeped away as I grabbed at his knife, kneeing Kravinoff in the stomach at the same time. Shock laced his face, wiping away his triumphant look. Then he grinned a toothy, sharp grin and in that split second I knew I messed up.

He used my momentum to twist us both and shove me into the ground. The air wooshed out of my lungs as I hit the ground. I didn’t have any time to gather my breath, as the knife we were both holding was coming for my throat.

Sweat beaded on my forehead as I kept the knife from slicing me, struggling to keep it off me with a shaking hand. Kravinoff pushed all his weight on top of me, crushing the last of the air out of me.

I twisted in his grip, punching him in the face with my free hand. The knife buried into the cement floor as I threw him off of me, kicking him into the wall. Faster than a striking snake, he grabbed the knife and grabbed me by the throat, slamming me back into the ground. He squeezed my neck, trying to crush my windpipe.

I grabbed his arm, wriggling and kicking out, trying to land a blow, trying to stop the black dots dancing and multiplying in my vision. Kravinoff stomped on my legs, pinning me once again.

The cold metal slowly crawled along my skin, as light as a feather. I shivered in fear. “Well done, little spider,” he whispered, leaning close to my ear like it was a secret, “You’ve been worthy prey for the mighty Kravinoff. Rest easy knowing you’ve done well.”

He brought the knife up, adjusting his grip on the knife as he did so. The grey metal flashed in the dark, light bouncing off the limited light down here. I closed my eyes, feeling the pounding, panicked headache from my spider-sense making my head hurt.

The air shifted as his knife came down towards my heart, a fatal blow for sure.

Blue light danced behind my eyes, trickling down my arms, my legs, electrifying me and washing over the both of us. Kravinoff tensed up, muscles locking in place giving me the opportunity I needed.

I pushed with all my might, unlocking his fingers from my throat and braced against the ground. I flipped myself onto my feet, uppercutting him in the jaw in the process. I put my fists up, panting like a drowned man, each breath wheezing ominously.

Kravinoff loosened up, the last of the venom blast fading away. He got to his feet, wiping off his jacket like it mattered. “That’s it,” he growled, pulling out another knife from his belt. Where did he keep getting them from?

I tried to choke out a witty rebuttal, but all I could get out was a wheeze. Kravinoff laughed at my poor attempt. “The spider is silenced for once.”

Kravinoff lunged at me, and this time I simply camouflaged and jumped at the wall, swallowing my yelp as my left foot braced against the wall. I bounced off of it, punching Kravinoff so hard in the chest I heard an audible ‘ crack .’ Before I could leap out of the way, he drove his knife through my side, throwing me into the wall and pining me once again. Blinding hot agony laced my side, but I pushed through the pain to dodge the other knife and web him in the eyes.

I stumbled away, clutching the knife buried below my ribs. I didn’t dare try to get the knife out of me, but I snapped the hilt off and webbed the wound with as many webs as I could in the short time I had.

Kravinoff pounced on me before I could brace myself once again, driving his final knife into my right thigh. My mouth opened in a soundless scream, head thrown back as the tormenting pain swamped my every movement. I punched out blindly, just trying to escape. He grabbed my next fist and twisted it, bending it too far back and-

Snap.

I lit up like a cracker, blue light driving Kravinoff off of me; he was too slow and got venom striked again, falling to the ground and seizing up. I panted, drawing all my strength to get back up again. This had to end now , or there would be no tomorrow for me to look forward to.

Forcing myself through the pain, I lunged at Kravinoff. I cracked him across the face as he came around from the venom strike. He put up his hands like a boxer and I landed an uppercut, then, drawing all my power, I kicked him into the sewer water and venom striked with all my might.

His scream was smothered by the water, but nevertheless his gurgling echoed through the tunnels. I cracked him across the face, again, again, again, pushing through until my arm grew weak and he was silent. I slowly pulled him out of the water, watching him slump in my grip like a rag doll.

Exhausted, throbbing with agony and just wanting to sleep, I webbed him up until he resembled a cocoon. Even then, I didn’t stop until my webshooters ran out with a pathetic sppt .

I collapsed onto my hands and knees, tears streaming down my face as I wheezed. I had won, but it didn’t feel like it. I grabbed at the knife buried in my thigh, bending the handle until it snapped then grabbing a new canister of webs, restocking my webshooters and covering my thigh with a thick layer. Then I wrapped my left, probably broken, hand until I could barely move my fingers.

I leaned my good hand against the sewer wall, using it to drag myself to my feet. Everything screamed in protest, begging me to lay down, sleep, stop moving, but this was no place to die. 

I numbly put my fingers to his barely exposed throat. He was alive, unfortunately, just unconscious. I grabbed Kravinoff by a strand of web, blinking through the tears of pain as I dragged us both to the sewer exit. I grabbed the ladder and hauled us higher, higher, until the afternoon sun greeted me. I dumped Kravinoff-the-cocoon on the road and then crawled out, collapsing on the street.

After a moment I opened my eyes, looking around. I was in Times Square, but it a ghost town. No reporters, no tourists, yet the ads continued to flicker on the screens above me.

Something was terribly wrong.

After listening hard, I knew why. Gunfire echoed endlessly across New York