1963-11-07 - Darkness in Hearts of Men
Summary: Why is your suit black, Spider-Man?
Related: N/A
Theme Song: None
jennifer peter 

Aliens are attacking the Earth. Not the foreign sort creeping over a border or showing up on makeshift rafts either, unless one counts a questionable spaceship as a boat. Governments are immensely uneasy in a time of conflict, and apparently President John Fitzgerald Kennedy is considering Senator Craddock's recommendation that a nearly indestructible green woman is just the thing to attack destructible green men from space.

The phone has been ringing off the hook so long that it lies in a destroyed pile. A completely demolished pie, apple of course, also speaks to the cost of staying in that form.

One ceiling mounted punching bag full of sand is no more than a ghost of itself, lying in pieces, the sand thrown clear out the window, all the way across the street. Practice, they say, makes perfect.

Well. It might. Jen's never been stronger or sleeker, but happier is dubious. A typed sheet of paper on letterhead makes apparent her employers' thoughts on the matter.


Her mood probably isn't improved by the fact that the young man known as Peter Parker has been incommunicado for the last few days. To be fair it's not entirely his fault. Though the Fantastic Four now knows who he is behind the mask as it were, they don't know that there's a connection between him and her and so when they made their calls to people she wasn't on the list.

Yet perhaps she might have caught that story a few days ago of the falling Soviet space capsule that was going to hit the city, and the amateur photos of the Fantasticar flying beside it with the Human Torch blasting from the back for extra speed. And, if she gets her news from places other than the Bugle… which really everyone should, she might actually also have seen some of the pics of a certain red and blue superhero clinging to the side of the capsule like a mad man.

It was after he recovered from his injuries and took off from the Baxter Building that he dealt with his responsibilities. First was a stop to the Bugle, second was to the university and a none too pleased Dr. Connors. Yet before Aunt May he swings by Jen's apartment…

And suddenly there he is, landing upon the window sill and lightly rapping his knuckles on the glass. Only… it's not him. Or it's not the red and blue Spider-Man she's used to. Instead it's some guy in an all black suit with white eyelets and a big white spider wrapped around his torso.

"Uh, hey."


Safe to say one's tolerance for matters increases or decreases relative to the horrors a girl endures. Lots of paperwork can eat up an attorney's life. Ending up scrutinized by a Senate committee two days old? Verdict is impending.

The newspapers stacked up every day for being carried off and buried, burned, or whatever passes for recycling assure that Jen knows plenty about current events. She reads copious amounts. She knows of a man in a blue and red suit, just as he might know of City Hall threatened by ice and fire, and a green young woman carrying out anti-mutant protesters and city councilors with Sue and Johnny. He might know about the assassination attempts.

For the moment, she is too busy staring in irritation at her emerald fists, not a scratch on them. The white bandages wrapped around her wrists help. "I suppose he was right." A shrug follows, and then she turns to the window, her eyes turning such a bright green the room probably doesn't need a light for her to see. Wild hair curls in front of her face and she swats it away with force sufficient to put a horsefly through six inches of brick. It bounces right back into place, and she grits her teeth.

Black. Man on the windowsill. A white spider. These things do not compute in her world, and the reaction is instant: grab four darts off the poor, battered board she usually puts them through, cock one, and glare as a woman scorned. "Explain yourself or I see how accurate I am with those eyes of yours."


"Whoa whoa, hey it's me." Spider-Man holds up his hands as if she had a gun on him and had just asked for his wallet. His lip curls a bit behind the black… fabric? But then he gestures with one hand without making any sudden moves. "May I come in?"

And, barring a flurry of hurled darts, he'll hop into the place and rise up to his full height, hands on his hips as he looks to her. When he straightens up it's then that the mask seems to flow back and off of his features, retracting into the neck of the costume and revealing his smile to her. "Hey, sorry. My old costume got sorta burned up in the crash."


The black fabric gives her reason to look harder. Jen knows Peter's face and his expressions much better than an average person would. It's part of her job to read how people act and express themselves physically, hinging guilt or motive on those little twinges and facial tics. So the tells are familiar enough.

She holds onto the darts. It says something about her proximity to the Four that his suit doing that doesn't cause her to scream or fling the darts and the couch. Still, distrust hardens every muscle, and adrenaline is making her subtly taller with every passing five minutes. Vibrations rivet her gleaming verdigris body, as though for once the attorney is without words. "Where have you been? I thought…"

A look around the apartment says so much. It says nothing at all. "It doesn't matter what I thought, does it? What is this, Peter? We're partners." They're more than that, perhaps, but it's not something she toes at.


A deep breath is taken, "I'm sorry, Jen. Oh and… uhh, by the way. The Fantastic Four now know I'm me." His smile turns a bit sheepish as he steps towards her but he keeps a bit away since her body language isn't exactly shouting, 'Hug me!'

"But things have been busy, and I went over to the Baxter Building. We were working on some stuff, and then the whole space capsule thing happened. That was crazy. But because of it I kinda…" He lifts a hand to rub at the back of his neck. "Got hurt. But it's ok, I got better. But I was out of it for about thirty some hours. Oh and my costume got toasted, so… this is me now. The replacement I guess."


ROLL: Jennifer +rolls 1d100 for a result of: 27


One more straw thrown on the emerald camel's back has not yet broken it. She withdraws several steps to drop onto a futon, the design sufficient to endure her weight with some creaking. Pulling her knees together, she hunches forward and rests her elbow on her upper thigh, staring at him. It keeps Jen from looming even when practically on the floor, and moreover silences the raging voice whispering at the back of her psyche. Call it a long week, a very long week.

"The cosmonaut will be okay? I hope that medical attention was…"

The voice is not getting any quieter, and she shifts again, wrapping her arms around herself. For a very long time, she is silent to try and salvage some kind of control. It's slipping back and forth like oil. She so, so badly wants to hit something. Maybe a nice alien warship. Is there a water tower to throw off a building? A building to demolish?

"Details. Details are helpful." The lower, vibrating crags and crystals of her voice is not a good sign. Not at all. At the end of the day, Themis — Iustitia, justice on a pedestal — or Liberty is still a Titan. And when Themis is disregarded, she becomes Nemesis. And Nemesis is a terror even Ares ran away from.


"I uhm," For a moment Peter sort of looks at her. But then he decides that well… she deserves the long version of the story. So he pulls a chair around and kneels on it to be on a similar level as her. "Alright it went like this."

Taking a deep breath, Peter opens his hands towards her as he explains, occasionally gesturing as he relates the tale. "I went to the Baxter Building because I was almost out of webbing, their facilities there are really good. While I was there, well… an alarm went off warning Reed about the capsule falling from the sky. I could tell it was bad since it set off my spider-sense as well, which meant… well that it was bad enough that it could hurt the whole city."

In that black… almost cat suit, he seems rather at ease with himself. His lithe athletic form seemingly perfectly sculpted even as he tries to relate to her the last few days. "They scrambled. Ben piloted the Fantasticar… which, by the way, is a great name." He tries a faint smile, attempting to inject some levity. "Torch was providing some extra speed, Sue shielded us from the debris, Reed was leading. My job was to jump across the way and get the cosmonaut out of the capsule. I did that, but she was terrified for some reason. I think it was my mask. So I pulled it off and she was alright with taking my hand then. I tried to get back to the Fantasticar before it blew up but as I was jumping it kinda… blew up."

At that he winces a bit as if knowing that she might take exception there. But he presses on. "So I held onto her as we fell. My clothes were on fire and I had some shrapnel. Reed was able to save us, but once we were safe I passed out and… lost thirty hours."


Jen listens. It's the safest thing she can do, for all that her biceps and triceps harden to the consistency of granite and her feet are flexed individually. Toes lift and then scrunch against her soles, visible for a lack of socks. She does this at least thirty times, counting off with the rigid acuity taught to her by her cousin. Sometimes coping mechanisms help. Sometimes you end up with an enraged monster tearing a swathe through Brooklyn and showing absolutely no regard for anything the US military can throw at it.

Hey, the night's young.

"Soviet in America." A short, terse statement explains it all. Her nightshade mouth is pulled taut and the ripple moving over her is nothing short of proof she isn't human, not any more, and never will be. She hugs her arms even tighter around herself, head bowed and face in shadow, beating what's screaming all the louder in protest down with everything there is. "Thirty. Thirty?"

The Amazon wants to scream. The thinning meniscus that is Jen bites her tongue bloody.


Stepping forwards, Peter frowns to himself as she seems in her own world to a certain degree. A small nod is given and he frowns a bit as he says, "I mean… I'm better now. I seem to be healing faster. They think it might be a…" His words falter, losing volume as he realizes he's just speaking nonsense really, or at least nothing important as he whispers, "Secondary… mutation."

So he stops talking for now as he leans down and lightly rests an arm around her shoulders, trying to at least hold her for a time and to offer his strength for her. Not that she needs it, but it's there.


Thirty hours gone. Days gone. Jennifer laughs, and she struggles against the tide. The stillness begs, steals, and barters whatever it can to shackle herself against a dark shadow moving under the height of her psyche, her features. "Oh. Just that. A trigger?" Her fragmentary thoughts are all she can spare to putting them together. "A .270 through the back of my head might be enough. Bruce might know."

His fingers touching her produce a decided snap of muscles releasing pressure, a twitch by any other name, but it overcomes the brittle self-control that wants to fracture. She throws off heat, gobs of it on account of vastly increased metabolism and circulatory requirements, and when she lifts her head, the shadows don't hide the fact her thinned eyes are an incandescent shade that screams radioactivity. "What does this mean? This you. Are you still Peter? Still reporting? Only Spider-Man? The Four's?"


"Umm, yes I'm still me. Just, you know, the superhero family in the blue suits know my name now. So there's that." He tries to settle down beside her, squeezing her shoulder with gentle fingertips before drawing her towards him should she allow. He offers a faint smile as he murmurs. "I think I'm going to have more time though in the future. So hopefully we can spend more time together…"

His brow furrows as he adds and then murmurs quietly, "Since I umm, sorta. Lost my job. Too." And he takes a deep breath. On some level he's ready to leap away in case Jen loses it, but hey she might not.


Losing his job barely gets a glitter of a look from her. "I work for them as their attorney, Peter." It's not a surprise, that. "And the Queen of Wakanda." Pause. "And Stark Industries." Pause stretching and draining out. "Possibly the Soviets. I am not sure how they work."

Her shoulders drop and she bends forward a little, not shaking him off in the least so much as trying to hug the underside of her thighs and flatten double. It's impressive she can given everything in the way, but her training regimen is a brutal one by any standards, and the effects glow through her mossy complexion. "Is your aunt okay with this? What did you…" There's the monster making its presence known, bitten back. "Tell her?"


A troubled look touches his brow as he looks at her askance, "I umm, haven't told her yet." He does look rather pensive as he turns his head slightly to the side. He brushes fingertips along her shoulder again but it's clear his thoughts are slipping away to what the heck he is going to do for money.

But then he looks back to her and says with a wry smile, "I figure I can start selling photos to the Post maybe. There have been times some of their people have extended feelers in my direction. I could probably land a regular paying gig. Who knows?" But at this moment it's all probably wishful thinking without anything behind it.


Peter arrives from RP Nexus.


Peter has arrived.


Louis leaves, heading towards RP Nexus [O].


Louis has left.


It's unnecessary for her to say that May will kill Peter at some level, and the absence of an explanation raises the odds of meeting the business end of a bayonet or a disappointed look. Jennifer refuses to speak to that possibility, meeting the look away with a nod fo her own, her hand slowly rising to curl around his. The touch of the black suit is not one she likes, for reasons entirely her own, and it's not an issue with unfamiliarity.

"Maybe you should ask what you want with life right now. School? Degree? Job? Apprenticeship? The gig defending Earth? I don't know how I will manage law and that, but I have to." Her nose wrinkles, a hint of the girl underneath the heroine in the making, the crucible of an unknown future hinging before them while she stares down the unearthly glories and perils. "The U.S. calls, I have to answer. I don't have Bruce's liberty to say no. I swore an oath. An oath that may mean nothing if they decide we're no longer people."


"Gig defending earth?" Peter's definitely not entirely up on current events, though hey he knows the broad strokes considering you can't really ignore how much people are all talking about ALIENS throughout the world. But then she explains on what she may have to do and he frowns somewhat. "Wait, what?"

He pulls the chair over so he can slide onto it to sit right in front of her, meeting her eyes as she speaks and listening to her. "They're trying to draft you? But you… wait did they pass some legislation? And how are they going to stop this from turning into another arms race?"


"Yes." A nod would do, but the separation of explanation, statement, and question is almost beyond her. Seated on that futon, Jen is in no mood to look at the remnants of the battered punching bag she destroyed or the pie tin or anything else for that matter. "Aliens showed up on Earth. Possibly hostile forces. Someone needs a grasp of non-existent international law to deal with them, right?" Oh, it sounds so easy spoken aloud, made smooth as silk by a brush of her hand and a tip of her head. They cannot name this as something reasonable, no matter how it's diced and dressed, but to pretend is nice.

Her green eyes lift, overly saturated with gamma radiation enough to tinge her lashes from the underside to the same glowing shade. "The Senate will probably call me in. New York city council has a few ideas. The Storms can vouch. I can say no. I could also move to Uruguay and be a goat herder." Not likely, but it's a nice idea, right? "This is about choice. I don't know what they intend, but this unit they want to keep the peace… You have to admit I might be useful. Maybe. Not anyone who shoots webs or fire or has force shields. No, my gift's what you see and what you get, and that has to be good enough. I never thought to feel badly about how little I could do but that's a bad way of thinking." Teeth flash, sharp and white, ever so dangerous, ever so culpable in the sin of a grim mood. "So a spaceship shows up with hostile forces, I suppose they let me at it to tear its engine to pieces or something. I may not be able to swing as far as you but I can hit a highrise midway with a running jump."


"That… that's disconcerting for a variety of reasons. And I mean, I know this revelation is huge. But really I sort of feel like it's not as jarring as that first time learning that… you know, magic is real. And that there are other dimensions and things?" Since really, that dimensional portal in central park for so long… yeah that had to shock a few religious types.

"Ah man, I'm sorry Jen. That has to stink to be under that pressure and you can't really say no easily. I mean… you could, but it'd be hard." He takes her hand and squeezes it gently. "You could try and fight it in court. Unless you feel this is something that you _should_ do."


"It is what it is." Jen shrugs her shoulders, and gazes at Peter easily. "I am a lawyer, and a cop's daughter, Peter. What else am I going to do, let someone else go up there and have all the fun? U.S. citizen, set an example. That's a choice I have to confront and I am not about to let Sue go up there by herself, am I? Can't let you go around being the only one with a destroyed shirt." She opens and shuts her hand, then flexes her back, sitting up a little more. "I think I'd win that contest if it came down to it."

At least a bit of the old humour is there, even as she gets up. "You have choices. Good choices, wide ones. You know, the aliens don't bother me so much as it is the whole world getting disturbed on a vast scale. They make bad decisions then."


"Yeah, but…" Peter watches her as she moves, his eyes following along the line of her shoulders and then drifting back to her glowing eyes. "I have faith in humanity… I mean I know there are hundreds of arguments why we should't. But I really do. I believe that when the chips are down people are going to make the right decisions and so I view this as like… a chance for people to shine. Hopefully."

Though he has that optimism, she can still see a bit of worry in the depths of those blue eyes. He hides it a touch with a sigh and then murmurs. "Just let me know if there's anything I can do to help you, Jen. We're in this together and I'll do my best to make everything easier."


"I know you do. Sometimes your faith is the only faith I've got, my dear, and that has to be enough." She closes her eyes, the wrinkle of her nose again realigned. "Don't go meandering out of space without telling me. Please. This is… it's never going to go down easy, but you don't know quite what it does when I have questions without answers, Mr. Parker. Trying to swallow the lump of not knowing makes things really quite uneasy and I want there to be honesty and openness here." Dark lashes fletch their deadly cant and her lips still into a line, her gaze flickering. "I'm allowed to worry. Can I say that I do? Suppose that won't scare you off?"

Sometimes the world is a dark and fraught place.

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