“Ugh, you didn’t tell me how itchy this was!” May complained.
Peter must’ve gotten the suit altered because at first May wasn’t sure if it would fit. It was skin-tight, lightweight, comfortably stretchy, and yes, a bit itchy. It was a little strange talking with the mask over her face, but she was surprised at how well she could see through the lenses. They were like one-way mirrors; she could see out, but no one could see in and the glare from the sun didn’t bother her at all.
“It’ll be a bit of an adjustment,” Peter obliged, “but you’ll get used to it.”
May held up her gloved hands and flexed her fingers. Then she remembered the web shooters.
“Okay, so how do these work, then?” she asked.
“Well, Ben’s design was slightly different from mine,” Peter said, taking her wrist in his hands. “Mine is worn underneath the gloves and requires a double tap on the trigger in my palm to activate. I believe Ben’s is activated with certain wrist movements and they also shoot impact webbing, which basically envelopes the enemy in a giant net, and stinger darts.”
“Stinger what now?” May said in disbelief.
“They’re fast-acting sedatives,” Peter explained. “Very effective and very dangerous.”
“Okay, not using those,” she muttered.
“So go ahead, try it on for size,” Peter said, leading her to the edge of the roof. “It’s all about timing and accuracy. Anyone can point and shoot, but if you miss and you’re a hundred feet in the air … well, it’s gonna be a rough landing.” He finished simply. “So to recap our safety tips, what do you do if you run out of fluid or the web shooters malfunction?”
“Look for something to grab onto or a safe place to land.”
“That’s my girl,” he said. “Now, when you swing, use both your legs and the momentum to propel yourself higher. Always look around. It’s a very simple process: look, shoot, swing, release. You can’t be afraid and you have to trust yourself.”
“Got it,” May said, practically tingling with excitement.
Her eyes scanned the buildings before her, looking for a good spot and her eyes zeroed in on the legs of a billboard on the roof of the nearest shop. She raised her arm, took aim, and flicked her wrist.
At once a long, thin strand of webbing shot out of the nozzle and latched onto the sign. May grasped the web in her fingers and gave it a yank. The web pulled taut.
“Okay, on three,” Peter said, backing away from the edge and May steadied herself on the precipice.
This was not something you could prepare for, she thought. Her heart was racing and her palms were sweaty. She was suddenly grateful for the gloves.
“One – two – three!”
And May jumped. Her stomach dropped, the web pulled taut, and she held on for dear life as she hurtled through the air. She swung her legs forward and suddenly leveled out, giving her a clear view of the street below and sailed right over a traffic light.
May felt herself gaining height rapidly as she neared the end of her swing and she propelled herself forward, releasing the web, and suddenly she flying through space, arms flailing.
Her eyes darted frantically for a new place to shoot as she felt that familiar plummeting sensation in her gut.
In a panic, she flicked her wrist and the web flew, but not before she looked down and saw the car she was about to hit.
Her scream of terror became a scream of joy as she felt the jerk of the web meeting its mark and she ascended once again.
“Nice one!” came a shout behind her and May turned her head to see Peter gaining on her.
Suddenly he was running sideways across the face of a building on her left, following the trail of web in his hand.
“Show off!” she yelled as she shot another web.
“Take the next right up ahead!” Peter cried, launching off the building and shooting another web. “Shoot for the corner building –” he said, swinging past her, “— nearest you and aim high!” He finished with a beautiful sideways flip about ten feet above her, and May locked eyes on the building ahead.
She swung high, released the web and flew through the air. May extended her arm and watched the web take flight, shooting ten, twenty feet before latching onto the top of a window frame.
May turned her body sideways as she veered around the bend, and she felt a grin break out across her face. This is what it must feel like to fly, she thought. She tilted her head back to follow the line of webbing, shining white-gold in the setting sun, the glistening tower looming over her.
She and Peter covered an entire city block, narrowly dodging a pigeon in the process, and finally headed back to the factory rooftop. May landed lightly, breathless and full of elation.
She pulled off her mask. “That was awesome!”
“It’s a rush, isn’t it?” Peter agreed, taking a seat on a raised platform and pulling his mask off. “It can be terrifying at first, but hey, if you’re a thrill-seeker, it pays off!”
May sat next to him, pondering her next words. “Dad?”
May took a deep breath. “Do you think – after I become Spider-Girl and I’m able to defend myself – you and Mom would adopt me?”
Whatever Peter had been expecting, it hadn’t been that. He clasped his hands together, elbows resting on his knees, feet apart. “The world,” he began in a soft voice, “would know you as Spider-Girl, but they can’t know you’re May Parker. The press would go absolutely wild, the Goblin, Electro, Venom, they would hunt you down, May. At least this way with you in the foster home –”
May shook her head. No, please, she begged. Don’t say it…
“—y-you’d be safe,” Peter stammered, seeing the look on her face. “No one would be able to find you,” he said beseechingly, but May was already on her feet, feeling as if a spike had been driven through her heart. She turned away from him, her hands trembling.
“I thought …” she said, her voice cracking. God, she hated crying. “I thought that once I found you, you’d want me back. That we …” She wiped her eyes furiously. “… that we could be a real family again.”
But May snatched up her mask, yanked it over her face and ran, launching herself off the edge of the roof and up into the air.
Away she swung, zipping through the streets at such speed her arms began to hurt within five minutes. She finally landed on a townhouse opposite the foster home, remembering her dad’s tip about how to disappear and quickly stripped off her mask, gloves and boots out of sight of passersby.
The thought of heeding his warning only made her even more upset. But she wasn’t going to blow her cover just to get back at him. She wouldn’t be that reckless.
May shoved her things into her backpack and pulled out her old clothes, yanking her shirt over her head. Unfortunately, it wasn’t long enough to cover the full length of her arms, so she pulled on a sweater to cover the costume underneath.
Once she was finished, she hurriedly descended the rickety fire escape, praying that she didn’t alert the inhabitants, and walked briskly across the street, pulling her keys from an inside pocket.
Breathing hard, her eyes burning, she opened the door.
At once May put her head down to conceal her face as she felt several pairs of eyes turn on her. Without a word, she shut the door and ran up the stairs two at a time.
“May?” Logan called, but May wasn’t in the mood. Knowing someone would probably be in the dorm upstairs, she shut herself away in the bathroom and finally let the tears fall.
May ended up sitting on the bathroom floor for so long that several people came banging on the door, trying to convince her to come out: Logan, Kelly, Fiona, Brenda, Hallie, and Miss Edna. Finally, seeing as it was futile, they decided to let her be.
It wasn’t ’til around seven when there was another knock on the door.
“May?” said Krissy’s voice. “I brought you food. But you have to open up, otherwise you won’t get any.”
“I’m not hungry,” May muttered.
“Girl, don’t lie to me!” Krissy chided. “Even you couldn’t pass up spaghetti carbonara!”
Ooh, this girl knew her every weakness! May pursed her lips together, trying to build up a mental wall to shield her from the temptation, but she was unable to resist. Gritting her teeth in frustration, she got up and opened the door.
Krissy smiled, holding the bowl as delicately as if she carried the Queen’s crown. “Now was that so hard?” she said sweetly.
“Oh, shut up and get in here!” May said, herding her inside.
May shut the door, took the bowl, sat down on the floor, and dug in ravenously. Krissy sat opposite next to the toilet, watching her.
“Not hungry my butt,” she said. “Now talk!”
“That wasn’t part of the deal,” May said, swallowing.
“Mmm hmm!” Krissy shot back. “You opened the door, so I gave you food. You’ve eaten, now give me an explanation. You’re too old for temper tantrums, May.”
“I did not –” May retorted, then gave it up. There was no use in arguing with this kid. “Okay, fine,” she said. “I just … hate when the universe says no and you’re the only person who says yes. And even though you’re wrong and possibly stupid for thinking anything different, you just wish things didn’t have to be that way.”
“Maybe it doesn’t,” Krissy countered with a shrug. “Maybe you can change things.”
“But it’s impossible,” May said, stabbing moodily at her pasta.
“But now you sound like them!” Krissy argued. “You’re not supposed to give up! You have to prove them wrong!”
“How, Krissy?” May demanded and by this point she was desperate for an answer, for a solution.
“I don’t know, I’m nine!” Krissy said. “But you’re sixteen. You’re smart. Use that big brain of yours! But don’t worry,” she added hastily. “You’ve got time. Now get out!”
“What?” May said, taken aback. “Why?”
“‘Cause I gotta pee! You’ve been hogging the bathroom!” she cried. “¡Ándale, ándale, ándale!”
And with that, May was forcefully ejected from the room, dinner in hand, and Krissy slammed the door behind her.
May straightened up and blew her hair out of her face. “Good talk, Krissy,” she muttered. “Good talk.”
The next day May woke up in a panic, thinking she’d overslept, but then she realized it was Saturday.
She let out a breath of relief and reached for her phone at her bedside, unhooking it from its charger. No sooner had she turned it on, it started beeping with texts coming in at rapid fire from both M.J. and Peter.
Mom: MAY DON’T LISTEN TO A WORD HE SAYS!!!
But this only gave May the incentive to read Peter’s texts.
Dad: May, I’m so sorry. I’m still new to this father thing and I never wanted to hurt you. It’s not that we don’t want you, it’s just the circumstances we’re in. I don’t want to take the risk of any harm coming to you or the other girls. Being a hero has taught me a lot about responsibility and as your dad I feel responsible for keeping you safe!
Dad: I know you’re not a baby anymore, but you’ve only just been introduced to the world of heroes and villains. People get hurt and I don’t want you to suffer because of your parentage.
Dad: May please say something.
May exited and went back to M.J.’s texts.
Mom: Peter is smart, but sometimes he can say really stupid things.
Mom: I’m sorry baby. Unfortunately at this time it wouldn’t be safe to reveal your secret. Not now. But maybe someday if we can work something out. Don’t be sad. This isn’t forever.
Somehow May wasn’t demoralized by her words. In fact, the little encouraging tidbits did a lot to raise her spirits.
She hurriedly texted them back.
ME: It’s OK. I understand. I know we’ll still see each other a lot and for now that’s good enough for me.
Suddenly the door to the dorm burst open and Logan stood in the doorway, pale and out of breath.
“May – your – dad,” she gasped. “TV – Goblin in – Times – Square!”
May scrambled out of bed, kicking the blankets aside and followed Logan downstairs into the kitchen.
Half of the girls were already crowded around the TV screen, Kelly munching on strips of bacon, drinking in all the action. May jumped over the couch, landing between Hallie and Fiona.
On screen, filmed from an overhead chopper, the Goblin circled the square like a vulture waiting on his prey to die while thousands of people ran screaming in all directions, abandoning their idling cars, retreating for shelter in the surrounding stores and avoiding the small fires that had sprung up everywhere.
“You know I don’t like the little ones watching violence!” Miss Edna said. “Brenda, Krissy, Fiona, Elena! Take Abby upstairs to play.”
“But I’m still eating,” Krissy said, gesturing to her plate of scrambled eggs and toast perched on her lap. “And you said we can’t eat upstairs.”
“You shouldn’t be eating in the living room either!” Miss Edna scolded. “Kelly, you’ll get your greasy little fingers all over the couch!”
“I promise to keep my greasy little fingers to myself!” Kelly assured her.
“Come on, out of here, now!” Miss Edna said.
There was an instant uproar followed by the exodus as four grumbling children left the room. May was surprised to see Tricia leaning against the wall a little apart from them, her eyes sweeping lazily over the girls as they left before she returned her attention to the TV.
The Goblin shot a grenade at an abandoned taxi and sent the flaming vehicle cartwheeling through the air.
Several people screamed as they tried to get out of the way, and then suddenly the taxi was encased in a gigantic web, the ends of which were tethered to a pole and a fire hydrant.
Spider-Man appeared out of nowhere, shooting another web at the hood of the car, and as he landed, May watched him twist like a batter at home plate coming in for a swing. The taxi flew through the air straight at the Goblin, who fired another grenade.
KA-BOOM! The taxi exploded in a massive fireball and a plume of smoke rose into the air.
“Holy –” came a shout and the helicopter’s news cam was suddenly pointing up at the sky as the chopper flew up and away from the explosion.
“There’s too much smoke, we don’t have a visual,” said a garbled voice. “Go to the ground!”
The scene changed to footage from the police line cordoning off the street about fifty feet away from the square. The camera zoomed in on Spidey, who was standing next to a smoking car fender in the middle of the street, hands balled in defiance.
May’s heart was beating rapidly. Though she’d seen fights like this many times before, it felt different now knowing that this was her father selflessly putting himself in harm’s way to protect innocent civilians.
“Wallcrawler!” the Green Goblin’s cackle echoed through the square. “Just the man I’ve been so anxious to see! How have you been holding up, old man?”
“You seem pretty eager for a beat-down!” Peter shouted back. “Lucky for you, I’m more than happy to oblige!”
“GET HIM!” Kelly screamed, making them all jump.
Spidey ran across the street, dodging another grenade and shot a web at the jumbo screen, yanking himself into the air. He landed on the screen, pushed off and leapt at the Goblin, fist drawn back.
May could almost hear the Goblin’s neck crack as Peter landed a punch right on the jaw.
The two collided in midair and for a moment it looked like the Goblin was going to fall off his glider, but then with a great burst from the thrusters, the two shot up into the air, still struggling with one another, and disappeared from sight.
“W-Where did they go?” May demanded.
“Change the cam! Change the –” Kelly looked like she was ready to throw something. “Where’s the stupid chopper?”
But the camera was staring fixedly up at the surrounding buildings where they’d vanished as if expecting them to come down the same way.
And then a red and blue blur flashed across the screen and the camera zoomed out to see Spider-Man come in for an unsteady landing in the middle of the square.
He landed on all fours, his elbows giving way beneath him and he rolled over onto his back, unmasked and with an unmistakable look of pain on his face.
“Dad,” May breathed, her voice barely audible.
She watched something small and orange bounce to the ground next to him, and Peter’s eyes widened in shock, rolling away as the bomb detonated.
It went off with a loud blast and suddenly the air was full of screams. The camera changed to an aerial shot of Times Square and suddenly Logan’s arms were around May’s head, one over her mouth to keep her from screaming at the horrific sight before them: blood splattered the cracked pavement, smoke rose from the small crater in the middle of the street, little pieces of something were scattered everywhere and Peter lay spread-eagled, unconscious with a gaping hole where his leg used to be.