Winner of the Oneshot Contest!
After weeks and weeks of planning this date, Peter was running severely behind schedule.
You’d saved up a good chunk of your paycheck every month, broke into your childhood piggy-banks, and sent up some pretty serious prayers to whoever was listening, all for a single night at a severely posh restaurant. You’d borrowed a friend’s dress, far more fancy than anything you could’ve afforded, coiffed your hair into perfection, and painted your face like a portrait. All morning you’d hummed sappy love songs and excitedly texted your friends about your boyfriend. You’d even dabbed little dots of vanilla-scented perfume behind your ears, just because you knew he liked the scent.
You definitely didn’t put forth all that effort just to stand alone in front of a server.
Every now and then, he’d lean forward on the podium, asking you if you were certain that you didn’t want to be seated at the moment. With each time, you felt your agitation grow, declining his offer and compulsively checking your phone for messages. In the past hour, you had called him a total of three times, between twenty minute intervals, and your patience was beginning to run thin. You’d set a reservation for the two of you, and, yet, Peter wasn’t taking it as seriously as you had expected. Your heels click over and over as you tap your foot, staring at the door as if he would walk through it at any moment.
You know Peter too well to think like that, as, when he’s late, he is far from fashionable about it. Eight months of dating had set in stone everything you’d suspected of him- he was an artistic teenage boy with organization issues and his own schedule to follow. With a sigh, you head in the direction of the bathrooms to touch up your makeup, giving yourself something to do.
Your hand is on the door when your phone rings inside of your clutch, and you nearly drop it in your rush to answer it. Propping the door open with your hip, you hit ‘answer’ and hold it to your ear. “Peter Benjamin Parker, I don’t know who you think you are, but you are an hour late for our date and-!” Worry creeps into your head, your voice dropping a pitch. “Did something come up with Aunt May-“
You’re cut off by the droning of an automated telemarketer. You have to force yourself to calmly place it back into your clutch, otherwise you would definitely break it. You let the door go, fully entering the bathroom and making a beeline for the mirrors. Of course, your entire face of makeup is perfectly fine, but you want something to do with your shaking hands. He’s always busy, you know that, but you don’t know what the hell it is that he does or why he couldn’t schedule it around any of your dates.
For a brief second, your finger hovers around the ‘2’ button, the speed-dial preset for his aunt. He did tend to nap and then oversleep, so he might just have- None of the excuses you make for him truly make sense and, were he still in his house with his aunt, his room was locked up tighter than Fort Knox. There was a zero chance of her being able to check up on him. Re-lining your lips to make it seem as if you were doing something to the higher-class women in the restaurant’s bathroom, you suck in a breath and try not to think about Peter just ditching you.
When you re-enter the bustling atmosphere of the restaurant, you head back to the server. Very politely, he informs you that, if you aren’t seated in the next fifteen minutes, he’d have to cancel your reservation. With a sigh that makes your whole body feel deflated, your mouth twitches into a frown. You nod your affirmation to him and allow him to lead the way to a lovely mahogany table with two chairs. The curt manner in which you’d previously addressed him seems to have made him uncomfortable around you, evident in the stiff manner he stood and his darting eyes.
The server pulls your chair out for you, something that seemed more forced than his fake smile, and you seat yourself, pulling yourself together enough to give him a polite, answering smile. When he hands you the menu, your hands touch slightly, and he immediately jerks away. Across from you, an older couple touches noses, eyes hooded, before the man gives her a soft, quick kiss.
Your mood is rapidly souring.
You genuinely have half a mind to simply walk out, but you’d paid a seating fee when you’d reserved a table for tonight, thus forcing you to at least eat something. Eating by yourself, while embarrassing, was better than not eating at all. Glancing over the food options, you come upon the dessert menu, deciding at that moment to skip the previous courses entirely. Finding a brownie and ice cream combo that was almost as expensive as their pasta dishes, you wave to the waiter and place an order.
The brownie might as well have been your date.
The $75 dollar meal (without mentioning reservations and seating fees!) was most definitely not worth it when you were by yourself, in the end. Eating a brownie the size of your face had made you feel like a glutton, especially when it became apparent to you that it was a desert for two. In a small to-go box, you’d saved just less than half of it. Stumbling out of the restaurant with feet covered in blisters from the high-heels, you felt like Cinderella with the spell having worn off. If you weren’t afraid of what might touch your feet if you took your shoes off, you’d have walked barefoot all the way to your apartment complex.
Instead, you began your long, wobbling trek down the sidewalk. When the raw marks on the backs of your feet split and begin to bleed, you make a small detour to lean against an alleyway wall. Head tilted back, you evaluated your life decisions, beginning with the tight-fitting dress, then the itchy makeup, and then the shoes from literal Hell. Popping open your clutch once more, you begin to rifle through it to see if you’d stocked some emergency Band-Aids in it, setting the styrofoam box at your feet.
Coming up short, you knock your head against the brick, a soft growl escaping your lips. You mouth every swear you can think up before running out of energy and ending up just frowning. You’re tired and slightly angry at everything, and then you feel fingers wrap around your purse.
Your eyes immediately flick upward to scan the bastard’s face, memorizing his dark brown eyes, facial structure, thin beard, long hair… Your tight grip on it hasn’t ceased, and he’s finding more resistance than he obviously expected. “Hey, bitch, let go of the bag and no one gets hurt.” Of all the people, he had chosen you to try and rob- a really bad choice on his part. You let go of it with one hand, keeping it firmly locked in your other hand’s grip, coil your fingers, and send your fist into his left eye.
Instinctively, he holds a hand to that eye, his hold on your purse lessening, and you use your free hand to curl your nails into the remaining hand on your purse. They form bright red crescent-marks on his hands, but he doesn’t pull his hand away until you feel warm liquid under your fingernails, having scratched him hard enough to make him bleed. Flying high on adrenaline, you deliver a sharp kick to his calf, hearing him grunt and begin to shuffle away from you. Behind you, someone else speaks up, and you freeze. “I was going to step in, but you really were handling it, huh.” Turning around, you find a man in a blue and red spandex suit rocking back and forth on his heels.
His attention doesn’t seem to be focused on you, with his head tilted away and in the direction of where your attacker had crawled off to. “Just a petty thief, so I don’t really have to chase him.” A pause. “Unless you want me too. You messed him up pretty bad, though, black eye and all, so he probably won’t do that a- Woah.” Finally turning his head in your direction, you watch The Spiderman, frequent newspaper headliner, check you out, head moving up and down in an almost exaggerated manner. “Oh, um, shit.”
Bending down carefully to pick up your leftovers, you cradle your purse and the box in your arms. A flush creeps up your neck and your ears burn, but you manage to banish the nervous waver in your voice before it can rise. “Excuse me?”
He starts scratching behind his neck and, though his head stopped giving away his gaze, you have the sneaking suspicion that he continued to look you up and down. “So, civilian,” His voice pitches down an octave, sounding extremely different and impersonal in comparison to how he’d originally spoken to you. “Might you be, er, heading out to somewhere, um, fancy?”
Not feeling up to mentioning the stuttering and sentence pauses, you have to wonder why he would ask you a question like- oh. It’s the low-cut dress. “I had a date.” He seems to take a really deep breath, his next words laced with confusion.
You can’t help the quirk of your mouth, eyeing the opening of the alleyway. Unlike everyone else in the city, this was your first time even seeing Spiderman outside of print, and his personal questions kind of uneased you. Not to mention the creeping familiarity that was rising in your mind. “Um, yeah, kinda. My boyfriend,” You put extra emphasis on ‘boyfriend’, hoping he’d get the hint. “Didn’t show up, so it was a date with myself.”
Spiderman turns around for a second, but you can’t hear what he’s saying to himself, so you disregard it. When he turns back around, his arms are open in the same relaxed manner that he’d showed up in. “Wow, that really… sucks. Maybe you two can reschedule later?” He seems a little too personally invested in your life, and you take a step backward, swallowing.
“Um, yeah, sure, why not.” Looking down at the box in your hand, you saw your way out. “Hey, while you didn’t actually really, er, do anything, you do do the superhero thing a lot for other people so… here.” You hand him the box nervously, hoping he takes it so you can leave. The fabric above the eyes of his mask rises, and you interpret it to mean that he’s raised his eyebrows behind it.
He pushes it back to you, shaking his head. “Nah, I don’t do this because I want something out of it, I-”
“This brownie was fifty dollars and I can’t eat another bite of it.” He makes a choking sound and his voice seems to go back to normal.
“You paid for this by yourself?!” His head is tilted down at the box, the fabric still raised. You can hear him whispering to himself, and you start to back out of the alley while he’s preoccupied. “Wait, wait, wait!” His hand is outstretched to you and you have to pause, if anything, out of being polite. “I’ll take you home so that, err-” He struggles to think of an excuse, that much is apparent. “To make sure you get home safely!”
Your mood is a little brighter than it had been, what with the superhero’s flustered actions around you, but you had to keep your boyfriend in mind. Something in you tells you that you’ve experienced this situation before, heard the same stuttering voice. “I can’t exactly walk down the street with you, Spiderman.”
You can hear him say, not so quietly, under his breath, “Yeah, shit, I’m still Spiderman.” Drawing his attention back to you, he flung his wrist out in a dramatic manner, attempting to project confidence. “Who said anything about walking?” Oh, so he was going to do the slinging-thing that the papers always had pictures of.
You weighed the options. On one hand, Spiderman was definitely making you question your fidelity to Peter, as you definitely weren’t stopping him from flirting with you, and having him carry you home seemed like it was pushing it a bit. On the other, however, it was an opportunity to get out of these goddamn heels and get home faster. Personal comfort outweighed your moral compass and you found yourself nodding. “That would be nice, if you don’t mind.”
With a deep bow, complete with a sweeping arm motion, he replies, “It would be my pleasure, of course.” His voice is snooty and exaggerated, and you have a feeling he’s wagging his eyebrows. When the realization hits you, it hits you hard.
He had seemed so familiar to you because, standing in front of you, was your boyfriend, Peter Parker, who had opted for a game of dress-up instead of going out with you. With a very quiet huff, you try not to let your emotions show through, vaguely wondering how far he’d take his performance. His arms circle your waist, his chest to your back, and you turn around, humoring him by wrapping your arms around his neck. One of his hands is supporting your back, and the other is holding onto the leftover box. Faintly, you can hear the same chuckle that you fell in love with just barely escape his lips, and you have to wonder as to why he’s laughing.
“Let me guess,” You laugh a little, just at the ridiculousness of the situation, your anger ebbing away. “Keep your hands and feet inside the ride at all times…?”
“I thought that was a given.” This time, you can hear the laugh in his voice, and he leads the both of you down into a crouch, bending your knees with his, before jumping upward. You both gain altitude a lot quicker than you had expected of your geeky boyfriend and, now eye-level with a second-story window, you’re forced to conclude that he is actually Spiderman. He multitasks holding you and the box in one hand, the other slinging out the webs he’s recognized for.
Your hair flies everywhere, and you have to wonder if it’s getting in his eyes and obscuring his vision. Your previously well-made hairdo has probably passed destroyed by the wind and, realizing how high both of you were getting, you duck your head into his neck, not too keen on looking down. Like an Olympic gymnast, Peter seems able to maneuver the both of you over traffic and through alleys without the slightest problem, with the only indication that your location changes being the sounds underneath you two.
Someone slams on their horn, and you quickly knot your fingers into his suit. You had never truly had motion-sickness, but you were beginning to feel the beginnings of it. To distract yourself, you listened to Peter make a fool of himself, adding sound-effects to the actions that he did, probably not thinking you were able to hear him. You let out choked laughs at the ‘zzzzoom’ noise he made every time he latched onto a building.
Rather thankfully, the trip was moderately short, and you can hear his feet touch the asphalt of your balcony. His arms slowly pull away from you, and you didn’t imagine the soft pat he gave your neck. “So, um, here we are.” He scratches the back of his neck again, and you can practically see his uneasy smile through his voice.
You don’t mention the fact that you never gave him your address or your apartment number. “Here we are.” You slide open the balcony door, feeling the air conditioning cool your slightly heated skin. You hesitate on just leaving him and entering your apartment, however, and try to think of something to say. “Well, I hope you have a good night,” You think for a moment, then smile, “A really boring night. Not a single crime for you to handle.”
He laughs and you wonder how you didn’t immediately recognize Peter when you first saw him in the alleyway. “You and me both, you and me both.” With a mock salute, he starts to back up, sitting on the railing surrounding the outlook. “Goodnight-” You hear a pause, and you know he was about to say your name. “- What was your name again?”
When you tell him, he nods as if it were new information, an almost believable act. He repeats his “goodnight”s to you before hopping off the edge. Though you feel a little ridiculous doing so, you immediately race to make sure he didn’t just drop ten stories and hit the ground. Seeing him catch a wall, you breathe a sigh of relief and move back into your apartment, heading to your bed and landing face-first.
Your phone buzzes and you pull it out, propping yourself up on your elbows and seeing the words “Peter Parker” light up the screen. Opening the message you read, “So sorry to miss the date, I know it was really important! Something came up with Aunt May and I couldn’t get to the phone for a couple of hours”.
Having a sneaking suspucion as to what had came up, you open up Safari on your phone. Going onto “The Daily Bugle”’s homepage, you read the headline “SPIDERMAN AIDS POLICE IN SHUTTING DOWN MASS-SCALE BANK ROBBERY”. You figure that every other date he’s missed, he must’ve been doing something like that. You carefully type up your message, “It’s no big deal, I get that you were a bit tied up. How’s Aunt May?” You chuckle a little at your own pun, making an inside joke he doesn’t even know you were in on.
“She’s fine now.” He doesn’t clarify as to what had been wrong, confirming what you already knew. The next message takes a little longer to come through, and you know he’s going to ask you something. “Do you want to come over tomorrow? Aunt May’s making meatloaf”.
Looking down at your outfit, you wonder if you could loan the dress just a day longer. “Wouldn’t miss it for the world.” You pause, your fingers hovering over the keys. “Love you, Peter. Sweet dreams”. It was a little more affectionate than you usually were, and you worried about his response, hugging your phone to your chest until it lit up once more. With the conclusion that he was Spiderman came the realization that he frequently risked his life. You felt the need to tell him that you loved him more, if it would be the last thing he heard from you.
The pause is considerably longer, five minutes longer, but the screen flashes his name and you read, “I love you, too. Try to get some sleep, I can’t introduce you to Aunt May with you unconscious”. You re-read the text two more times before setting your phone down and getting up to wash your face, scrubbing off eyeshadow and mascara in one go.
Peter’s secret is safe with you, that’s for certain. You wouldn’t sell out your bug-boyfriend for the world.
Written by arachnidsgabfest.