To Catch A Spider - Part 1

Sam stepped out of the Sanctum into the early dawn sunrise. He was up nearly all night, speaking with the Maximoffs. Theo and Niko had told him of the events that lead to Theo's mother casting the universal wide spell that took their parents and the rest of the heroes. His head was swimming with thoughts of powerful cosmic stones and evil, mad titans. But despite the fact that he barely rested an hour, he felt completely rejuvenated. It was as if he stepped into a fresh new world full of possibilities. And finally, he truly felt that he wasn't alone.

Sam readied his bike for the ride to Gwen's place. He had written the address down on the corner of Gwen's profile document, after Theo told him of the additional information the Prince had found for them.

Niko was voluntold to stay in the night before, where they played more sit and talk, because earlier in the day Prince T’Chantem didn’t think it was a good idea for them to be creating news which meant Theo didn’t think it was a good idea for them to be creating news. Seeing as Niko couldn’t take a simple run - it wasn’t even as if he was breaking any sound barriers - without it somehow ending up ON the news, he relented after a quick game of who-can-glare-the-harshest. It wasn’t all bad, though. Sam, despite Niko’s first impression, seemed genuinely interested in what Theo was saying. They talked well into the night, until Theo -- insisting she wasn’t tired -- fell asleep, regardless of Birdy making tea. Niko carried her to her room in a non-creepy way, and luckily the sanctum had shown Sam to his own room.

Adding to that, he was woken up by Bob Dylan Wong, Theo’s enforcer of late at the literal ass crack of dawn. Doesn’t anyone realize Ghost Spider Girl is a teenager? Don’t they sleep in? He put the pillow over his face for just five more minutes. “Seriously, just tell him to go on ahead, I’ll catch up.” He grumbled. But Bob Dylan Wong was sent on a mission, and if anyone knew how persuasive Theo could be it was Niko.

Surprising to no one, he didn’t like this plan, that he would be paired with Sam Rogers to talk to Ghost Spider Girl and her mom. He had to talk to one mom the night before and she seemed super angry. Who knew what Ghost Spider Girl’s would be like. Adding to that was the fact that Theo was going to see Pepper Potts, without him. Yes, she was going with T’Chantem, but that didn’t stop him from worrying any less.

Minutes later, he was showered, shaved and dressed joining Sam on the front step. He promised to not make news, fly anyone as a kite or play ‘keep up’ with Sam, which was a shame because “keep up” was his favorite game. Finally, he was given the Ghost Spider Girls mask to return her property. Niko headed down the stairs at a non-blurred speed, to meet Sam on the sidewalk. “We can take the E train, or I’ll keep pace with you,” which hopefully would not end with them on the news.

~~~~~

Gwen pranced down the stairs and to the kitchen bopping to the music playing in her head. It was the first day of summer vacation! So naturally, she was jazzed about the start of fun, freedom and zero school obligations!

“Morning sweetie.” Mary Jane said fixing a plate of breakfast items for the ravenous black hole that was her daughter. “First day of summer break, you seem happy. Got any plans today?”

“Heck no! I am going to be LA-ZY and binge watch Netflix and IF my friends are lucky I might invite them to join me!” Gwen said cheerfully buttering her toast.

“Uh-huh.” MJ said with an arched red eyebrow. “How long before you run off dumpster diving for more electronic doo-dad.”

Gwen gave an exaggerated gasp. “I have plenty to work with here … I did that yesterday so HA!” She said with a triumphant bite of toast.

“I’m so glad I was blessed with such a normal child.” MJ teased dryly.

“Meh. Normal’s overrated.” Gwen responded soaking her toast in egg yolk. “Can I have coffee!” She asked bouncing in her seat.

“After asking like that … no.” MJ laughed pouring her some OJ instead.

There was a knock on the door. “I got it.” Gwen said prancing and bopping to the door. “Hellloooooo!” She sang. “How can I –“ She said stopping mid-sentence. She blinked staring blankly between the two at the door, one who happened to be an infamous speedster. The other a tall Greek god of a man. Gwen’s eyes grew huge and did the only reasonable thing she could think of … she made a squeaky choking noise and shut the door before the pair could say anything.

“So far so good.” Niko commented to Sam with a shrug. He didn’t even get to use the Terminator line.

“Who was it?” MJ called from the kitchen, hearing the door open and close.

“NooneimportantIgotthisdon’tworry.” Gwen said in a single breath and even added a nervous laugh before cracking the door open. “Who are you, why are you here and what do you want!?” She whispered through the door crack.

“It’s Niko,” he said in a playful tone. “We met. It’s okay, Ghost Spider Girl, the Prince of Wakanda gave us your name and address, though it’s hard for me to recognize you without you cussing obscenities. I’m here with Sam Rogers to talk to you about the progeny and also to say that I am sorry you sailed yourself into the East River.” He turned to Sam. “Apology. You’re my witness.”

The rotating squares and circles of magical lines preceded Theo’s disembodied head popping out of nowhere and it shook from side to side in disgust. “Nikolai Krzysztof Maximoff! That does not count as an apology. Don’t blame her for falling into your trap. Say you’re sorry for laying a trap in the first place. Don’t make me come over there all the way.” She stuck her tongue out at her cousin then withdrew her head and disappeared into the collapsing portal. Niko curled his lip at Theo’s latest trick thinking this was going to add a new and unwelcome layer to their dynamic.

Sam stood there puzzled by the rapid interactions that just took place. He shook his head and pressed on. “Hi, Gwen, my name is Sam. I'm really sorry to bother you at home. But I was hoping that we could speak, it's important.” He reached into his bag and pulled out a Hershey bar and smiled. “I brought candy.”

So far Theo seemed to be the only one with half a brain! “Your ghost sister is right. That's not an apology.” She told Niko. “Also I'm not 8 …” Gwen said looking up to Sam then down to the candy bar and back up at Sam.

“Technically, she is a witch, not a ghost. Angela Harkness who taught her magic was more a spirit than ghost, but that is splitting hairs,” Niko added.

A set of perfectly manicured red nails wrapped around the edge of the door to swing it wide. “Are these friends of yours Gwen?” MJ asked looking at the pair of men. One of which was holding a candy bar. “Oh, are you being asked out? Is that what's up with the theatrical secrecy? Aren't they a bit old? Which one of you -” MJ started eyeing the boys up suspiciously. Niko never minded being eyed up, he grinned and nodded towards Gwen’s mom.

“MOM!” Gwen said horrified! “I'm not dating anyone! Who has time for that!” She assured embarrassed. “They’re like selling candy or something …” she said plucking the candy bar from Sam. “… can I borrow a dollar?” She asked innocently.

“Aren't they a bit old to be selling candy?” MJ asked letting the awkward silence hang a bit. The woman didn't need to be a SHIELD agent to know something was up here.

“Oh. Good morning, Mrs. Watson-Parker. I’m very sorry to interrupt you like this.” Sam extended his hand. “My name is Sam Rogers. I'm sure you don't know who I am, but I was really hoping that I could have a few moments of your time.”

Niko was growing impatient; Not only was there waiting, but he had to re-apologize, even though he saw nothing wrong with his first apology. He drew Gwen’s mask from his pocket and held it up. “I’m Nikolai Maximoff, my father is Quicksilver and his father," he hooked a thumb at Sam, "is Captain America. We need to talk to you and Ghost Spider Girl.”

Sam glanced over to Niko, “Subtle. Thank you.” His gaze returned to MJ, “Ma'am I know this isn't the best of circumstances for introductions, but it really is important. Could I please have 10 minutes of your time?” Sam was doing his best to disarm the situation.

Niko curled his lip and shrugged. Subtle. Because beating around the bush has ever helped? Hello, my what a lovely home, is that sweater cashmere? We’d like to discuss saving the world, if you please. He knew this was a bad idea. His first choice would have been ‘fictional tech camp’ for the summer. It just would have been easier to convince a mom to let a kid go to a summer camp than what they were asking, but Theo pointed out that just because something was easy, it didn’t make it right. Niko pointed out that just because something was hard didn’t make it better, which led to a conversation he was less than comfortable with involving Mindigo Montoya and Terry Crews, so he just agreed her way was what they’d go with.

There was long silence. Gwen stood there horrified as the blood slowly drained from her face with Niko presenting irrefutable evidence of her activities. You know, the exact opposite of what she should have been doing. Not THAT.

MJ slowly turned to her daughter and Gwen suddenly felt two inches tall. There wasn’t a single excuse in the world that was going to work on her mother and Gwen knew it. MJ took the mask from Niko and then took another moment to examine it.

“I would be happy to oblige you but if you would give me a moment with Gwen,” MJ said closing the door. The pair could only wait while things went nuclear inside. Fortunately they could actually hear most of the ensuing conversation between mother and daughter.

“Gwendolyn May! GHOST SPIDER!?!”

“No! Mom! It’s not like that that … that’s not even the name I–“

“You picked a NAME?!”

“NO! Well … maybe … I THOUGHT abou-“

“How could you! Gwen! I thought you had better judgment! Oh my god was that YOU! The blue and red BLUR!”

“It was just as uncomfortable yesterday.” Niko whispered to Sam.

“I’m so sorry.” Sam countered.

There was a long silence. Whatever Gwen’s answer was, it was too low to hear.

“Gwen you got hit by a BUS!” Niko looked a little sheepish -- even if it was Gwen’s fault.

“ … And I’m fine! I hit the bus the bus didn’t hit me really! Barely stung … Mom! Please! I was being -”

“Careful!? CAREFUL!? This is not … wait … how DID he get your mask …”

Another long silence.

“Gwen … how … did he get your mask …”

“I may … have fallen … at a great speed into the Hudson?”

“So you LOST the mask!? In the HUDSON!? Gwen!”

“It was an accident! I swear!”

“Wait! Is that HIM! The one with the white hair!”

“Well … yes but … BUT … we were just horsi-“

“GWEN! BUS! MASK!”

“Okay so maybe it got outta hand mom -”

“She could have just let go--” Niko decided from the other side of the door that he probably wouldn’t win that argument. “Oh is that what that was,” Sam asked? “We were wondering about that; my mom thought you guys were training.”

“They are AT our DO- … did you tell them where you LIVE? Is that why they are here!“

“NO! MOM! NO! I didn’t tell them ANYTHING! I barely said two words to them! I swear! I have NO idea how they found me or why they're here! I don’t even KNOW who that other guy is!”

“Room. Now.”

“Mom …”

“Go.”

A moment passed before the door opened and MJ waved for the two boys to enter.

They heard most of the conversation from the other side of the door but made sure not to let their faces show it. Sam smiled at MJ as he stepped into the house, “Thank you, I appreciate it.” He took his bag off and placed it on the floor near the door then stepped into the dining room. Pulling out a chair, he motioned to MJ, “Please. Have a seat.”

Sitting. Talking. Niko took a split second to explore the house, back in a blink to stand against the wall in the dining room.

MJ sat and waited to be impressed. Both the young men looked hardly out of boyhood and MJ was not a dummy. She had a good idea why they were here, but not why they'd make such a big display of it in regards to outing her daughter to her. There were a number of reasons MJ worked out in her head, but it all led to the same conclusion. They wanted to recruit a 15 year old girl.

Sam sat across the table from her and took a deep breath. “I’m going to be upfront and honest with you. I’m sure you know the reason we’re here. As my uh-” Sam looked over to Niko, “learned colleague here stated a few moments ago, you’re more than familiar with our parents. I can only imagine what you may think of us right now, showing up like this, there’s been a lot of speculation and uncertainty in the past few days. But I felt it best to show you the proper respect by coming to you and asking for your permission to speak to your daughter about perhaps...well, standing with us. She has some exceptional abilities and she could help a lot of people.” Sam looked over to Niko, waiting for him to jump in.

“We would have called first, but Theo doesn’t know how to magic numbers,” Niko offered.

“And we felt it best we discuss this face to face.” Sam quickly interjected. “My learned colleague is correct in that Ghost Spider Girl has some really exceptional abilities. And I know that makes you scared, I get that, I really do. But just because you worry about someone -- worry doesn’t keep them safe, worry won’t teach them what to do if something goes wrong. Sometimes the best thing you can do is let them be with people who will teach them to be safe and to be better. Please tell me if this is something you understand, because if not I have a comparison to learning to drive a car, but I think that would be extra talking we don’t need.”

“So you want to enlist a 15 year old girl to … I’m sorry all this car reference I still haven’t been told why you're recruiting children.” MJ said keeping the sarcasm mild.

“We don’t want to recruit children,” Niko said with a shrug. “There’s a list, but we aren’t specifically recruiting children. We recruited Sam and he’s not a child, even if his mother yells at him. Something big is coming. I’d prefer if Ghost Spider Girl stayed here with you when it does, too. I don’t think she’s ready. But being here may not keep her safe, because you may not be safe. And besides, I don’t think when something happens she will stay here. I think if something happens she’ll go out there. You can pretend you can stop her from going out and being Ghost Spider Girl, but how has that worked out for you?”

(To be continued)

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