The next day was dull and uneventful. Only delivering the news to Kelly that her greatest hero wasn’t dead made May feel a little better. She couldn’t tell her that Spider-Man had hung up his suit for good.
Depression hung over her like a dark cloud. It couldn’t end this way. Evil wasn’t allowed to win. The Goblin was still out there, ignorantly reveling in his victory and Lord only knows what Aftershock was doing. May felt like she should be doing something, but she didn’t know what. All she could do was sit by the window and wonder what would happen next.
Suddenly the door banged open and May whirled around to see Logan march in. She stopped a few feet away, arms crossed.
“May, this needs to stop. You can’t lock yourself away from the world and expect all your problems to go away. I won’t let you sit here and mope about how terrible your life is!”
“Well, I don’t exactly see how I can fix it!” May argued, rising to her feet. “My dad got his leg blown off and you expect me to be okay?”
“Of course you’re not okay!” Logan spluttered. “Of course this is going to be really hard on all of you, but at least he’s alive! At least you still have your perfect little family!”
May felt as if she’d been slapped in the face. “Perfect? Oh yeah, my family’s so perfect that they were forced to give me away. It’s so perfect that they couldn’t adopt me even if they wanted to!” She felt tears pick her eyes. “It’s so perfect that I have to continue living a lie because the bad guys will never go away. If that’s your definition of perfect, then I don’t even know you.”
“Yeah, well, maybe you don’t!” Logan yelled, her eyes ablaze. “‘Cause it’s a whole lot better than what I got!”
May swallowed uneasily. At one point in their lives (depending on their age when they first arrived at the foster home), when Miss Edna believed they were ready, she’d take someone aside and tell them about their parents and why they came to the foster home. Logan had been one of the few who didn’t have to grow up in a bubble of ignorance. She was only five, but she remembered every detail of her past. May had never dared ask for Miss Edna warned her that it was an especially sensitive topic and told her she would learn when Logan was ready.
She sat down on her bed with a huff.
“My dad was a good guy,” Logan said, almost daring May to contradict. “He just … drank a little more than he should have. It didn’t make him crazy or aggressive, just unfocused and woozy. You could be talking to him and he’d have this dazed look in his eyes. I remember when I used to sit on his lap while he was watching TV and he’d be sipping a beer in his hand. Sometimes he’d even look at me and say, ‘You wanna taste some?’ And then my mom would say, ‘Don’t drink that, Logan, it’s gross’. And I thought it was so funny.” Her eyes darkened. “It wasn’t funny when he was completely hung over that night. We were driving home from this restaurant after dinner and I noticed my mom kept glancing over at him. She knew he was drunk and she even told him to pull over so that they could switch places, but he said he was fine. They started arguing and soon neither of them were paying any attention, and – I remember this so clearly – all I see are a blinding pair of headlights looking me dead in the face followed by the sickening crunch of metal against metal.”
May had been so hung up on the story that she almost forgot how to breathe. A tear rolled down Logan’s cheek.
“My head hurt, my mom was screaming, everything was spinning and honestly I didn’t know what happened. I eventually got to the hospital and the doctors said I had a concussion. I knew my mom had broken her leg, but I kept asking, ‘Where’s my daddy?’
“He was pronounced dead on the scene! And we had to have a closed-casket funeral because my mom couldn’t handle the sight of his mangled body! It nearly drove her insane!” Logan took a deep breath, wiping her eyes furiously. “After that, things were never the same. She was so grief-stricken, she had to go to therapy, but if anything, they only made it worse. She started having these … these … episodes where she’d completely forget herself and started treating me like a patient. She’d check my pulse and look in my ears, and called herself Dr. Robertson. And I tried to talk some sense into her, but it’s like she thought I was crazy!
“Eventually it became the doctor game and she’d take me to the waiting room, which was actually the living room, and say, ‘Come, I’ll stay with you until your mom gets here’! And sometimes I’d have to wait for hours until something finally clicked and she suddenly remembered that she was my mom. And I’d say to her, ‘Mommy, I don’t want to play the doctor game anymore’, but she didn’t know what I was talking about! She didn’t know that she was acting like two completely different people!
“I’d had enough!” Logan threw her hands in the air. “I didn’t know what else to do, so … I tricked her. When we were in the waiting room and she was Dr. Robertson, I asked her, ‘Can I call my mom?’ And she said, ‘Oh, yes, of course’ and ran to grab the phone. I took it and hid in the washroom and called the police and I said, ‘9-1-1, please help. My mom is scaring me’. And they told me to calm down and explain what was happening. I gave them our address, but when they came, it wasn’t Dr. Robertson they arrested. It was my mom. And she didn’t have a clue what was going on! The look on her face …” Logan looked pained. “… I could just see the hurt and betrayal written there. I … I don’t know if she’ll ever forgive me.”
“Logan …” May whispered.
“Don’t,” she said, looking down at her hands. “What’s done is done.”
They sat in silence for a few minutes, May struggling to find anything to say. Logan’s mother had split-personality disorder and May was the ultimate jerk.
Logan finally got up and walked out without another word.
The tension between the two girls was like a live wire for the rest of the evening. Dinner was a quiet affair. The others could sense the imbalance in the air, but did not pry. Only Elena was oblivious, taking their silence as an opportunity to tell them all about her little friends at school, and the classroom aquarium, her chalk drawings she’d made out front, the neighborhood cat that kept running away, and the princess tiara she saw on TV.
“— and it had diamonds and rubies, and it was so pretty –”
“Okay, I’m done,” Tricia said loudly, getting up from her seat. She picked up her plate, dropped it in the sink, and headed for the stairs. “If anyone needs me, which I highly doubt, I’ll be out on the fire escape.”
May shot a glance at Logan down the table, who was picking at her food, determinedly not looking at her.
Things didn’t change that night when Logan slept with her back to May or the next morning when she was the first one dressed and out the door. May felt as if the bridge between them was slowly crumbling away and if she dared prod a stone with her toe, it would fall. How could she stabilize their relationship before it fell apart?
Things were even more awkward at school because they had lockers right next to one another. It was May’s turn to try and break the ice. The guilt had become too much to bear.
It took May a few moments to realize the speaker was addressing her. She’d become so accustomed to hearing “Parker” that she almost forgot that, legally, her name was May Atwood as part of her cover. She turned to see the lanky dude (Blake, May remembered), Cooper, and Howie from the basketball team.
“What happened?” Blake said with mock concern. “I thought you were one of the guys now? Thought you were going to teach us some tricks?”
He and the other guys laughed and May rolled her eyes, turning to grab another binder from her locker when Logan slammed hers, rounding on the boys with her jaw set.
May looked around in astonishment. They hadn’t spoken since their fight yesterday and now all of a sudden Logan was defending her?
“Or what?” Blake challenged, his smile turning sour.
“Hey, man,” Isaac suddenly appeared, putting a hand on Blake’s chest. “Leave her alone.”
“Oh no you don’t, Logan fights her own battles!” Logan said, pushing Isaac aside.
Oh no, May thought as Logan got in Blake’s face.
“Whatcha gonna do?” Blake sneered.
“I’m gonna rip your face off,” Logan snarled.
“Don’t you mean suck my face?” Blake said, eyebrows wiggling.
Logan started forward angrily, but May got there first. BOOM!
She hit Blake in the chest with both hands, sending him flying down the hallway. He landed hard on his back ten feet away, the breath knocked out of him. May marched to stand over him, fists balled in fury.
“That’s – my – sister.”
The whole hall was silent, watching the scene with great interest.
“And you’re a pig!” Logan joined in, linking arms with May.
“Anyone else have a problem?” May demanded, sweeping the faces around her. Howie and Cooper backed up fast, shaking their heads vigorously. “Good.”
“Let’s get out of here,” Logan said to May.
The two girls turned around to see Mr. Wyatt glaring at them both, arms folded across his chest.
“Aw, dang it,” Logan muttered.
“You three,” he said, pointing at May, Logan, and Blake. “Office. Now.”
“Don’t forget the witness!” Isaac piped up, raising his hand. “Oh, and you might want to get Coach Bailey down here too. I think he’s going to be pretty interested in how his players behave off the court.”
I love this guy, May smiled in spite of herself.
It only took a few arguments, a shouting match, and some disciplinary action to resolve the little hallway spat. Coach Bailey was deeply unimpressed.
“You ever pull a stunt like that again and you’ll be benched for the rest of the season,” he told Blake. “If you can’t show respect for your peers, then I can only imagine how terrible our team will be! May, you just be grateful he didn’t break anything. I can’t afford to lose any more players.”
“She was defending me!” Logan protested. “He was the one acting like a –”
“Be that as it may,” Principal Flaherty cut across her, “fighting is not tolerated under any circumstances. In the real world you can be arrested for such things. Don’t make a habit of it.”
Well, that’s not entirely true, May thought, but she held her tongue.
“Since this is your second infraction,” he continued, “you’ll get one week of detention. Room 113 after school at three o’clock. As for Mr. Nicholson,” Principal Flaherty glared pointedly at Blake, “he’ll be improving his manners in the library as a volunteer helper every morning at eight for the next month.”
May had to stifle a laugh at the look on Blake’s face. The librarian was a very snappish woman who ran a tight ship. If you didn’t return a book on time, she’d find you. Being one of her assistants was going to be a nightmare.
“No, you can’t do that,” Blake said. “My bus doesn’t get here until eight fifteen.”
“Oh, that’s too bad,” Principal Flaherty said with a shrug. “You’ll have to find another way to school. Try walking, it’s very good for your health. Either way, Mrs. Borscht will be expecting you at eight o’clock.”
And with that, he dismissed them all and the four of them left the office, Coach Bailey walking ahead of them.
Blake waited until Coach was out of earshot before shooting May a dirty look. “You better watch your back.”
“Oh,” May said, slinging an arm around Logan’s shoulders, “I think I’ve already got that covered. Maybe you should find some real friends to save your sorry behind the next time you try to mess with a girl.”
Blake kissed his teeth with a scowl, starting for the stairs.
“And while you’re at it,” Logan called after him, making him pause, “get some better pick-up lines!”
Blake waved them off and disappeared up the stairs.
May silently counted down in her head. Three … two … one…
“Bye, bye, bye, Bye, bye!”
Both Logan and Isaac started laughing. It just seemed like one of those perfect using-songs-in-real-life moments and N Sync’s “Bye, Bye, Bye” did it justice. Little did they know, May wasn’t done yet.
“I’m doin’ this tonight, You’re probably gonna start a fight. I know this can’t be right. Hey, baby, come on!”
Soon all three of them were dancing right there in the middle of the foyer. Finally they started laughing.
“Remind me not to get on your bad side!” Isaac grinned.
The door to the office swung wide, held open by a student, and the secretary stood up at her desk, eyes flashing. “Get to class!”
“Sorry!” May said with an apologetic smile.
“Alright, I’ll see you guys later,” Isaac said, flashing a smile, and he hurried off towards the stairs.
“Yeah, we better get going or Rothenberg’s gonna have our heads!” Logan said, starting down the hall, but May hesitated.
“Logan?” she said.
Logan pulled up short and looked back at her. “Yeah?”
“You know I’m sorry, right? I mean, I was selfish and blind and …”
“May, it’s fine,” Logan said. “I wasn’t trying to guilt you or anything, I just wanted you to know. And I may have said some really stupid things,” she admitted. “I wanted what you have and I guess I got … jealous.” Logan forced out the word with difficulty. “It’s not easy being the sidekick,” she murmured, not meeting May’s eyes.
May looked at Logan in quiet awe. Is that really how she felt?
“Logan, when have you ever been my sidekick? We’re partners, equals. We help each other out. And sometimes we have to set the other straight when they’re being stupid. Honestly, I feel like I don’t even deserve you as a friend.”
“Aww!” Logan pulled May into a hug. “You know I love you, right?”
“Enough to carry me to class?”
“Psh, no!” Logan said, pushing her away.
May pouted. “Is there really any point in going now?”
“Come on!” Logan said, and with that she took May by the arm and dragged her off to class.
May was in high spirits for the rest of the day. The best thing she loved about her relationship with Logan was that they could never stay mad at each other for long. She remembered one time when they were ten and Logan accidentally spilled chocolate milk all over May’s favourite butterfly T-shirt. May gave her the silent treatment for a good fifteen minutes before Logan had come up behind her, rested her chin on May’s shoulder and said, “You wanna shoot some hoops?” May knew she only said it to get back in her good graces, but she grudgingly agreed.
The two came home talking about their stand-off with Blake again.
“— and you moved so fast, all I saw was a legit blur and the next thing I know, the guy’s on the ground!”
The two started laughing again, when Miss Edna looked around sharply.
“What’s that, Logan?”
“Um …” Logan said, looking at May for support, but she drew a blank. “It’s a really funny story …”
Suddenly May’s phone rang and she quickly pulled it out. “Oh! Saved by the bell!”
The caller ID read: DAD. May accepted the call and put the device to her ear. “Hello?”
“Turn on the TV right now!” Peter yelled.
“Ow! Okay,” May said, cringing at the volume of his voice, and she headed into the living room, snatching up the remote from the couch.
She turned on the TV and saw Treehouse.
“Dora and Friends coming up next!”
“Okay, what channel?” May asked. “Wait, Dora?” She did a double take, momentarily distracted. “Isn’t it Dora the Explorer?”
“You know? That’s what I was thinking!” Logan said.
“May!” Peter barked, and she snapped to attention.
“Just put on the news!”
May changed the channel and gave a cry of fright: a green pointed face with elfish ears and a malicious grin leered back at her. Somehow the Goblin had gotten hold of a news camera to deliver a personal message.
“So the death-defying, web-headed wonder still lives,” Normie said. The anger in his voice was as sharp as a blade. “Maybe I should’ve dropped that bomb on your face!”
May’s jaw clenched, her grip automatically tightening on her phone as if she could protect her dad through some invisible means despite their distance.
“Hope you’re coping with the rest of your remaining limbs, ’cause I’ve got a surprise for you!”
Normie swiveled the camera around and zoomed in on a building: New York Presbyterian Hospital. May’s heart contracted and she felt the colour drain from her face.
“That’s right, Spider-Man!” Normie growled. “Your precious little saviours are in there right now, hard at work. That is until four o’clock when I blow them off the map.” The camera swiveled around to face the Goblin once again. “Now let’s see if the itty-bitty spider can drag himself out of bed to stop me! The choice is yours. Either way, we’re going to have some fun!”
And with that the feed cut out, replaced by a screen of pixels.
“May, someone needs to stop him,” Peter said, “and this time it can’t be me.”
May’s limbs suddenly felt like water.
And then M.J.’s voice sounded in the background. “Pete, you can’t just expect her to –”
“No, I’m not saying she has to do anything. It’s her choice,” Peter said. “I’m the one who got us in this mess. But May, the lives of innocent people are at stake and you have the power to do something.”
May was completely overwhelmed. Fight the Green Goblin? After what happened to Peter? She wouldn’t last two seconds!
But he’s about to bomb a hospital, said a little voice in her brain. And they can’t just evacuate, not when there are countless people who need immediate attention. There are children in there, people undergoing surgery. Someone could be giving birth right now! How horrible would it be to have your life taken from you before you even had a chance to live?
May took a deep breath, putting her fears and doubts aside. “I’ll do it.”
The weather was perfect for taking down a psychopathic villain bent on murder: it was warm with a faint breeze and a general lack of cloud cover. May ran through all the pointers her dad had given her as she zipped through the streets, occasionally taking shortcuts over rooftops rather than keeping to the confines of Manhattan’s grid-like layout. She couldn’t afford to be late for her first job.
“Look for weak spots, never let your guard down, stick the landing, avoid large signs, bend your knees, protect the civilians at any cost, keep the damage to a minimum, do not hesitate, trust your instincts … ugh, there’s too much!” she grumbled.
And then she heard a shout: “Spider-Man!”
There was a sudden eruption of cheers and May looked down to see tons of people on the sidewalk below and even a few people emerging from their idling cars clapping and cheering.
May shot another web, aiming high, and swung low over their heads.
“Tell the Bugle there’s a new spider in town!” she cried. “GOBBIE’S GOING DOWN!”
And to her surprise, they took up the chant with renewed zeal as May swung away.
Soon the dense police cordon came in sight and she saw the mass jumble of cruisers parked outside the hospital with over two dozen officers pointing their guns up at the familiar bat-like glider overhead.
Almost in slow motion, May saw the first pumpkin bombs launch and swung in to intercept them. She caught all three of them in a makeshift net of webbing and tossed the bag skywards.
They went off with a loud BANG and a mushroom cloud formed in the sky, shot through with an orange tongue of flame.
May landed lightly on the roof of the hospital and stood tall, fists balled at her sides in a silent gesture of defiance.
“You’re not Spider-Man!” the Goblin yelled.
“Huh,” May said, cocking her head to one side in mock surprise. “You’re not as stupid as you look! Whoa!” she cried, and she dodged several bat-shaped blades; one whistled past her head, two pinged the ground at her feet, making her leap back, and May reacted suddenly as her spidey-sense went on red alert, catching the final one in her hand.
“Who then,” demanded Normie, shooting forwards and veering around her, coming to hover about ten feet away, “did the poor amputee send in his place?”
May whipped the blade at the Goblin’s head and he reacted too slowly. It sliced across the side of his mask and flew away, leaving a long scratch across the cheekbone. “Spider-Girl!”
Normie raised a hand to touch the mark, seemingly stunned, before returning his attention to May.
“A worthy opponent!” he cried, rising into the air. “Let’s see what you got, Rookie!”
And with that he swooped down low and opened fire on the police, peppering their cruisers with bullet holes.
May leapt off the roof and shot a web, latching onto the Goblin’s back as he banked around for another go, and yanked herself forwards, foot outstretched.
Unfortunately, he caught on and twisted around at the last second to punch her aside.
May flew through a window of the building opposite and she felt broken glass tear at her arms and legs. She went rolling across the tiled floor and came up gasping, wincing at her new wounds. She clambered unsteadily to her feet.
The gashes stung painfully, but she grit her teeth and ran for the open window, grabbing the sill with both hands to launch herself out feet first.
May shot a web and swung up until she was level with Normie. She flicked her wrist hard and a shot a glob of webbing in his eyes, blinding him.
He cried out, trying to tear it off and May landed on top of a wrecked cruiser. “Stop this, Norman!”
“Never!” he screamed, ripping the glob off his face. “You are powerless to stop me, you useless little girl!”
Now things were personal. May leapt backwards onto the ground, picked up the car and flung it at him.
He dodged it with ease and the car smashed into a utility pole with a loud CRUNCH.
“Your dad died saving Peter!” May yelled. “And this is what you make of his sacrifice?”
“Don’t talk about my father!” Normie bellowed and he threw another bomb.
Several officers dived out of the way as it went off in a great cloud of smoke.
“Retreat!” came a cry and May watched as the police turned tail and ran from the fumes, the Goblin forgotten. May leapt up onto the side of the hospital and hurriedly scaled the wall, leaping up onto the roof once again.
“You’re a traitor, Osborn!”
“GAAAHH!” Normie cried, and he hurtled straight at her, the blades on his glider extended.
May shot a web at his chest, using his momentum to propel herself forwards and her feet connected with Normie’s chest, knocking him clean off his glider.
His back slammed against the ground with May on top of him, the glider sailing away. Normie grunted in pain and May looked down on him in disgust.