1964-09-04 - Plucking the Strands
Summary: Gwen makes an odd request of Jessica Drew…and provides something to sweeten the air.
Related: If there are no related logs, put 'None', — please don't leave blank!
Theme Song: None
jessica-drew gwen-stacy 

The mourning process differs a lot from culture to culture, but one thing is universal: consolation casseroles.

Why someone would inflict /casserole/ on a person in mourning escapes Jessica's understanding; casserole is awful. Chinese food, though, is a personal favorite of hers, and Jessica orders enough for an army. Dumplings, noodles, rice, chicken, eggrolls.

She shows up to the Stacy home (now Gwen's house) and rings the door bell with her left elbow, then lets herself in with a push on the latch and a swing of one hip.

"Gwen! Hope you're hungry," she calls into the house. "I got enough for leftovers for a few days." She starts heading through the living room towards the kitchen.

Gwen is upstairs in her father's room. She is finally moving in, claiming the house as her own. Her room is being converted into a study/office, where she can do various things other than sleep.
She tilts her head as she hears Jessica, smiling to herself. "Hey, Jess! I'll be down shortly!"
She tugs on her sweatpants and t-shirt, brushing her hair quickly before grabbing the surprise and heading downstairs.

Jessica is not exactly a domestic goddess; jeans with a belled hem, riding low on her hips, and a midriff-baring peasant style blouse that shows off the metal links around her waist in lieu of a proper belt.

She turns and flashes a dazzling smile at Gwen when the more petite blonde gets into the kitchen. "Hey Gwen! Hope you're hungry for potstickers." The food's in paper boxes, and still steaming warm. Jess must have come directly from the restaurant.

"Where's Mary? I thought she'd be here today," she says, piling food onto a plate for the other woman.

Gwen sighed. "She had classes. Fall semester began a couple of weeks ago." She is carrying what looks like an instrument case for a violin, but slightly bulkier. "Do we have a few minutes, though? I want to show you something." She places the case on the floor near the table. "We can wait until after the meal, if you are really hungry. It all smells so good."

"Oh, right! School. I forgot, I saw all those kids running around the campus. Looks like fun," Jessica says with a flickering grin.

She glances curiously at the viola case and lifts a brow at Gwen's question, settling into a spot near the table and crossing her legs at the knee. "I don't mind doing two things at once— what do you have in the case?" she inquires, nudging it with the round toe of her high heeled sandal.

Gwen smiles almost impishly. "You got me thinking, so I went ahead and decided to check something out."
She reached down to open the case, lifting out what looks like a traditional viola. There are a couple of telltale differences, though. The first is that she can tell by looking that it is a solid-body construction, with no chamber under the strings.
The second is the round jack near the neck, big enough for the jack of an amplifier.
"Jessica…meet the electric viola."

Jessica blinks repeatedly at the object, a little dumbstruck. She opens her mouth, then pauses, frowns, and then opens her mouth again, then tilts her head and goes 'huh'.

It takes a solid five seconds for the potential to sink in, and she turns a slow, dawning grin onto Gwen's youthful features as she accepts the instrument.

"An /electric/ viola. Like an electric guitar," she remarks softly, turning it over and over in her fingers. She plucks it with a fingernail, listening carefully to the string. "Wow. I never would have thought such a thing existed. WHere'd you find it?"

Gwen chuckles. "The Fender company has been making them since the 1950's, actually." She gets up and pulls out the coil of cord from the case, then brings out an amplifier, plugging the cord into it and then handing the other end to Jessica. "Here. Plug that in there, I'll adjust the settings, and then you can check it out."

Jessica takes a few seconds to tune the viola by ear; it's tricky without a resonance chamber to amplify the sound, but she gets it done while the amplifier's set up. Bow rosined and tensioned, she finds a place to set it under her chin, glances down at Gwen, and gives the strings a few experimental plucks. Once the amp's responding, she nods at Gwen, then with only a small hesitant inhalation, draws the bow across the strings.

Gwen reaches over to flip the switch on the amp to ON, and then there is a momentary hum of feedback. She adjusts a couple of dials. "Okay, there we go. Play a long note."
As the bow moves over the strings, Jessica can feel the vibrations, just like her normal viola, but the long sound that comes from the amp is both resonant and ethereal, with a depth she had never heard from a normal viola. The sound seems to surround her like a breeze of tone.

Jessica blinks in surprise at the deep resonance, the bow scraping across the strings erratically. She gives Gwen a look of impish excitement, then settles herself and plays a few scales up and down all four strings, fingers flexing.

Her technique's sloppy and her lacquered, neatly trimmed nails flex a little too firmly against the strings; she's clearly not been professionally trained. A spirited amateur. But the fiddle plays and she goes through a quick rendition of a folk song before setting the viola across her thigh.

"Gwen, this is amazing! I love it!" she exclaims, with a pleased titter.

Gwen smiles. The amp deepens the tone, the notes seeming to meld together, and linger in the air after being played. "See? Now, imagine the fire you could light onstage with that instrument."

"I'd never thought about these tones. It sounds …. it sounds like a cello," Jessica frowns. "Not quite, but… it's so deep and …" She taps her fingertips against her sternum. "Here, I can /feel/ it, it's so … so /much/. Gwen, this—"

She narrows her eyes at the petite blonde girl. "Wait, on stage? Are you recruiting me into the band you and MJ are going on about?"

Gwen Stacy grins. "Trying to. We need musicians, and when you mentioned playing the viola, I couldn't stop thinking about it. I opted to rent that to see how it would sound, and if you liked it. If you did…I was thinking of getting it for you."

Jessica narrows her eyes, but can't help but smile at Gwen fondly. She sets the viola aside carefully, brushing her fingers over the arc of the instrument's neck, and then looks at Gwen.

"Gwen, c'mon. That's very sweet but you need to save your money," she tells the younger woman. "I'd love to come play with you two— at least practice and see if I'm the sort of sound you're looking for," she says, pushing her wealth of black hair back over one shoulder.

Gwen smiles sadly. "I seem to be able to afford it. I have Dad's pension, his life insurance, and a few other things since he died on duty." She looks to Jessica. "I think he would be okay with spending a little of it on a friend."

Jessica's face mirrors Gwen's expression, and she reaches out to gently pat Gwen's cheek across the space between their chairs. "Thank you, Gwen," she says, before leaning in and giving the slender blonde girl a warm, grateful hug. "You're very kind to think of me. I'll happily come practice with you anytime."

Gwen Stacy hugs Jessica gently. "Thank you. I'll call the music store in the morning." She smirks. "You can keep the amp, too. It's a spare one I kept around the house, and it's somewhat portable."

"Okay. Thanks so much," she tells Gwen, giving the instrument another admiring glance before setting it out of the splash zone of sweet and sour sauce.

She takes a bite of her eggroll, then looks to Gwen and pats her knee. "Are you doing OK today?" she asks. It's what she asks every day— instead of contributing to the barrage of well-meaning police widows coming by wanting to 'be helpful'.

Gwen smiles. "Thank you again, Jessica." She begins eating. "I think the well-wishers are realizing both freezers and the fridge are full and that I intend to show up at the survivor's group every week for the next few months." She smiles wryly. "Pity I can't tell them of my…ALTERNATE methods of dealing with it." She winks. "And the new suit is holding up pretty well."

"I'm sure they'd have a fit," Jessica says with an unapologetic grin. "I'm glad to hear the new outfit's working better. When I first started going roof to roof I realized I couldn't do it in trousers and a blouse," she says, wryly. "I don't know how our bodysuits are machine washable AND wrinkle-free, but— hey, modern technology, right?" she asks, popping a wonton into her mouth with a crunchy smile.

Gwen holds up a chicken egg roll. "That reminds me…I met a girl who wants to be a heroine. Like me. Only she has a problem. She can grow and shrink, but her clothes can't. So, she was worried about losing or shredding her clothes. I found a proactive fashion designer who was willing to see what could be done." She points to the bulky answering machine on the counter. "She just called before I got home and said she might have a shot at making it work." She smiles. "I wonder what other designs she has."

"Yikes. I can see that being problematic," Jessica says, muddling rice up into a melange of sauce and spices with her half-finished entrees. "Attack of the 50-foot woman, right?" she laughs. "I guess if you had to run home naked, you could be really small— no, then it'd take you all day," she says, countering her own point immediately.

"Sheesh. Anyway, glad you can help her," Jessica says, beaming at Gwen. "It's always good to have friends in the fight.":

Gwen Stacy nods. "I've seen some of her designs. She's wanting to make a name for herself. I was thinking how she could design superhero costumes, but was also intrigued with the other styles she was working on. Dresses, evening wear, that sort of thing. I…want to help her."

"I think that's a fantastic idea, Gwen," Jessica assures the other girl. She takes a few last bites, then rises to start moving her food into a container to take back to her apartment.

"Listen, I'm gonna head home. I'll call you a little later, okay?" she asks Gwen, walking near the other woman while she slings her purse back over her shoulder. "And then we'll get some band practice in this week."

Gwen nods and smiles, standing. "I'm looking forward to it. We should have a few songs to work with soon." She impulsively embraces Jessica, smiling warmly to her. "You've done so much for me…"

Jessica's a hugger; she embraces Gwen as well, holding her close and giving her back a gentle squeeze for as long as Gwen likes. "You've had a rough few weeks, Gwen," she reminds the blonde girl; when the hug breaks, she holds Gwen's elbows, smiling down at her as she leans back a little. "But you've been a friend to me, too," she reminds her. "It's not like I have a ton of them, or at least I don't think I should treat friends badly even if I /had/ a lot," she admits.

"Besides, us spider-gals, we've got to look out for one another," she reminds Gwen, giving her arms a squeeze.

Gwen looks to her warmly. "Yes…I guess we do, don't we? Two of a kind…" She smiles, then says, "If you need anything…you know how to reach me. And if there's anything I can do for you…"

Jessica's eyes flicker a little with interest at Gwen's tone, her smile freezing for just a moment while she tries to sort through Gwen's words. She looks away a little demurely, struggling for a modest expression, but her smile widens just a touch at the corners of her mouth.

She gives Gwen's arms a squeeze. "Sure. It goes both ways," Jessica reminds Gwen. She leans down and gives her cheek a kiss. "I really do need to go, but… I'll see you tomorrow? Evening?" she offers, shrugging her purse higher onto her shoulder.

Gwen smiles widely. "Sure…! Hey, don't forget your amp and viola." She steps back, then puts the viola in its case and lifts the amp in one hand, and the instrument case in the other. "I'll help you carry these to your car."

Jessica Drew goes home.

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