Author: Vesper (Regina)
Category: Vignette, Angst
Summary: How does a person fall away from those he loves?
Disclaimer: Spider-Man copyright Marvel Enterprises, Stan Lee and Steve Ditko, and Sony-Columbia Pictures.
Archival: Link only, to website.
Peter walks away from Mary Jane.
He doesn't expect her to follow.
Harry starts spending more time at the Osborn mansion.
When Peter tells him he's moving out, all Harry says is, "Keep in touch."
M.J. shows up at 9:09 PM at Aunt May's, two weeks later, carrying pizza and a movie.
It's Aunt May who says, "Don't stay up too late," and goes upstairs with a knowing smile.
Peter smiles, but inside he cringes.
Jamison calls his photos crap, again, then says he wants better quality, larger quantity and until he gets it, he's dropping how much he pays for them.
Miss Brant smiles at Peter when she hands him his check.
Peter doesn't smile back.
Peter finds an apartment and another job. He buys a phone and an answering machine at the urging of Aunt May. He keeps M.J.'s new apartment number on a slip of yellow paper by the phone, but he never dials it.
M.J. calls him, lets him know Aunt May gave her the phone number. He can hear her smile through the phone, can picture how her eyes sparkle when she exclaims, "I have a part!"
He listens to her chatter and when she asks what's going on with him, he says, "Nothing much."
Peter reads the business section, sees how Harry's taken control of Oscorp. When Mary Jane calls again and mentions how Harry wonders how he is, he looks out the streaked window, unable to say anything for a long time until he hears, "Pete?" He answers, "Tell him I'm fine."
Peter stays up until five AM writing a paper the day before it's due. He falls asleep while typing it in the computer lab and his dreams are filled with the sirens he ignored last night.
Harry comes to his apartment. He says he's never able to catch him on the phone and then asks, "Pete, why are you living in this dump?"
Peter clamps down on telling him it's all he can afford.
They small talk like polite strangers, until Harry asks, hands tucked into the pockets of his pressed jeans, "So, you're still taking pictures of Spider-Man, right?"
Peter says, "Yeah," and takes a step toward his closet.
Harry says, "Any chance you could...." He stops, takes a hand out of his pocket and waves it, saying, "Never mind. Catch you later, Pete."
Peter cuts clippings out of the arts and entertainment section of the newspaper. He tacks the picture of Mary Jane next to his bed.
M.J. calls and asks him to dinner. Before she hangs up, she says, "I know you're busy, Peter, so am I, but if we could just catch up ...if you can't make it, I'll understand. You have my number, give me a call." A long pause and then a whisper, "Love you."
Harry calls and leaves a hurried message. "Listen, Pete, you're my friend. If there's anything you can do to help me track down Spider-Man, I'd like your help. Let me know."
Aunt May calls, saying, "Peter, I've missed you around here. Come and visit when you can, all right?" Her voice is warm, "I love you. Take care of yourself."
The university calls, "Mr. Parker, we're calling to follow up on the letter we sent informing you about our policies concerning academic performance. Please drop by the office of your advisor to go over options."
Peter pawns his machine and phone to make the rent.
That night, Spider-Man sits on the roof of a skyscraper, his mask off, on the concrete beside him. He looks over Manhattan, across to the sunset clouds.
His eyes are full of tears.