Spider-Man and the Prostitute
Chapter 1: The Rescue
AN: This story takes place in an AU where Peter Parker and Mary Jane didn’t know each other in high school or college for that matter. Mary Jane’s life, in particular, took some very different turns, some of which I’ll reveal in the story. So if at times she seems out of character, it’s only because her life and influences are very different in this story. In addition, there’s no one arc or era this story fits into. Peter Parker is an adult, but hasn’t been seriously involved with a woman since Gwen Stacy died.
‘These mean character thoughts.’
Disclaimer: I don’t own Spider-Man, Mary Jane, or Marvel and I am making no money off this. They are the property of Stan Lee, Marvel, and Disney. Please don’t sue.
This fic contains highly sexual material and deals with adult themes. If that offends you, please don’t read it. That being said, I encourage everyone to take the time to review this story. Send me your feedback via email at email@example.com or post a review on the adultfanfiction website. Thank you and enjoy the story.
New York City – Outside North Hill Apartments
“Oh my God! Oh my God! What do I do? What do I do?” gasped a panicking Mary Jane Watson.
It all happened so fast. One minute, she was returning to her upscale apartment. The next, she was in the middle of a war zone. She didn’t know what triggered the war, but she recognized the combatants.
One was Spider-Man, New York’s most famous masked hero – or menace, depending on who subscribed the Daily Bugle. The other was the Hobgoblin, one of New York’s most infamous masked criminals – known for flying on fancy gliders, throwing pumpkin bombs, and terrorizing everyone who got in his way. Mary Jane had heard of their clashes, as had most every well-informed New Yorker. She had never paid much attention to them. She had so many other problems to deal with. Now, she found herself in the middle of a much bigger problem.
“Spider-Man! Spider-Man, wake up!” she exclaimed. “Please…you have to wake up.”
It was no use. Her anxious words went unheeded. Still paralyzed with fear and dread, Mary Jane sat with her back against the in an alley next to her apartment building. Her ears were still ringing. Her vision was still burry. She wasn’t hurt, but she was in a very dangerous situation. And for a prostitute, that was saying something.
‘Quit freaking out, MJ. This is really happening. Today was supposed to be your off-day. You woke up, went to the gym, saw a movie, and went shopping. Now here you are – a high-end prostitute wearing an overpriced Mark Jacobs dress – sitting in an alley, half-traumatized and completely overwhelmed.’
Mary Jane struggled to catch her breath as she processed the situation. In front of her lay an unconscious and possibly wounded Spider-Man. Part of his mask and the top part of his uniform had been blown off. He was still breathing, but showed no signs of waking up. Less than 15 feet from her, a couple of cars were still aflame. Brick and debris from nearby buildings littered the road. This was just some of the damage that the battle between Spider-Man and the Hobgoblin incurred. It was probably much bigger than the block surrounding her apartment. Naturally, it attracted a lot of attention from the authorities. She could already hear the sirens in the distance. Within minutes, this all area would be crawling with police, fire fighters, and reporters.
This presented a problem for her almost as much as Spider-Man. She knew like most informed New Yorkers that Spider-Man was on the NYPD’s wanted list thanks largely to the stories about him printed by the Daily Bugle. If they had a chance to bring him in, then they’ll throw an entire precinct around this block.
At the same time, the presence of so many police officers put her at risk too. Any prostitute – even high end ones – could end up in jail if just one officer got suspicious. In her experience, the police didn’t need much to arrest a suspected prostitute. She had seen one too many women – and even a couple of men – get busted just for being in the wrong place in the wrong time with the wrong officer.
For that reason, Mary Jane’s first inclination had always been to run whenever she heard police sirens. That’s exactly what her brain was urging her to do right now. It would’ve been so easy. Her apartment building was right here. She just had to slip into a side-door, walk up to her apartment, lock the door, and wait it out. If the police came knocking, she could just not answer and be done with this.
However, there was another reason that kept Mary Jane Watson from running. And with every second that passed, she became less inclined to do so.
“Please Spider-Man – you have to get out of here!” she urged his unconscious form. “Swing away! Crawl up the walls! Just…just run! I can’t be the one who ruins your life – not after you saved mine.”
“It’s over, Spider-Man! Today, I end you!” said an overconfident and overly reckless Hobgoblin.
“Ding! Ding! Ding! Congratulations, Hobbie! You’re officially the tenth guy to say that to me this week!” quipped Spider-Man. “Your reward – a knuckle-sandwich and an all-expense paid trip to one SHIELD’s most luxurious holding cells!”
“I’ll settle for your head on a platter, garnished with pumpkin bombs! Hahahaha!”
“With an attitude like that, you have a shot at the bonus round. And that comes with a few broken ribs!”
His remarks don’t stop the Hobgoblin’s insane laughter. He attacks again, unleashing another barrage of pumpkin bombs at Spider-Man as he swings over the streets below – trying to lead him away from populated areas. It’s not working as well as he had hoped. They’re still in an area of the city that’s full of mid-level apartment buildings and condos. It greatly complicates Spider-Man’s tactics and his responsibilities. He should be used to it by now, but it never seems to get easier.
As Peter swings through a couple of buildings – following his spider-sense to avoid the onslaught – he tries his best to hide his frustration. This couldn’t be happening at a worse time. Then again, villains like the Hobgoblin rarely attacked on his good days. These past few days just happened to be especially bad.
‘Seriously, even my luck can’t be this bad. Even Parker luck has to have limits. First, I don’t get that job at Horizon Labs. Granted, I was late for the interview – you can thank Vulture for that – but I really needed that job. I needed it because, second, J. Jonah Jameson took me off salary – forcing me back to being a freelancer. He claims it was a cost-cutting measure, but I’m pretty sure he’s just ticked that his story tying Spider-Man to Doc Ock’s crimes got debunked. And lastly – and I guess this is for the win – I find out I’m getting evicted from my apartment. I mean come on! Can’t New York’s Friendly Neighborhood Spider-Man catch a break?’
The universe must have heard his internal complaints. Before Peter can lead Hobgoblin out of this heavy residential area, the laughing maniac manages an exceedingly lucky shot. While he was busy avoiding the latest barrage of pumpkin bombs, Hobgoblin reached into his satchel and threw a series of razor-disks at him. Peter is usually able to avoid them thanks to his spider-sense. This time, however, one of the razor-disks manages to cut a line of webbing before his spider-sense can warn him. The next thing Peter knows, he’s tumbling through the air and onto the roof of a nearby apartment building.
“Ungh! Figures…” he groaned.
Ignoring whatever pain he incurred from the impact, Peter used his super-human reflexes to get back on his feet. He rises just in time to see the Hobgoblin descending towards him on his glider.
“Having fun yet, Spider-Man?” taunted Hobgoblin while casually tossing around a pumpkin bomb.
“Fun? You call this fun? No candy. No cakes. And the worst clown costume ever?” said Spider-Man, clenching his fists in preparation for another battle.
“What can I say? I have unique tastes.”
“I shudder to imagine your porno stash.”
“But enough fun!” said Hobgoblin in a more menacing tone. “I’m ready to get down to business. You see, the Kingpin has an outstanding price on your head. But he’s got an even bigger price on your identity. Guess he places a premium on making his enemies suffer.”
It sounded so horrifying. It certainly would be for anybody who didn’t have spider powers. Peter was used to it though. He had been dealing with them since he started fighting crime. It was the primary reason he wore a mask – not that the J. Jonah Jamesons of the world accepted that as an excuse. If the Kingpin really did have a bounty on him, then it would explain the recent uptick in random attacks on Spider-Man and the growing interest over his identity.
‘Well it’s not a break, but it’s the next best thing…I think. I have noticed a lot more targets on my back lately – and not just from Jameson either. Ever since Tony Stark revealed that he was Iron Man, it’s like secret identities are going out of style. They all want to know who is behind the mask. Never mind how badly that can pan out for those of us who aren’t billionaires. If the Kingpin wants to torment my family and the Hobgoblins of the world want to cash in – well, at least I have an excuse for having no personal life.’
It was hardly a startling revelation, but it gave Peter a sense of the stakes. His family and loved ones had already suffered enough because of him. He couldn’t let it happen again.
“That’s what this is about? You want to turn me over to the Kingpin?” Spider-Man scoffed. “Oh Gobby, I thought you were better than that.”
“Oh I’ve no interest in doing the Kingpin’s dirty work. The way I see it – you’ve pissed off enough people in this city to make for a very competitive market. Between crime bosses and J. Jonah Jameson, I think I can turn a pretty healthy profit!”
“Too bad it won’t cover your psychiatry bill.”
This time, Peter didn’t wait for Hobgoblin to launch his next attack. Instead, he tried to end it before this madman could do any more property damage that Jameson would blame on Spider-Man. He sprinted towards the hovering figure at full-speed, ready to break a few facial muscles if necessary.
The Hobgoblin grins through that hideous mask of his and throws the pumpkin bomb towards his nemesis. This time, Peter is ready for it. Guided by his spider-sense, he fires off a line of webbing to catch it in mid-air and fling it right back at him. However, he makes sure that he aims high, forcing Hobgoblin to fly lower to avoid it. This gives Spider-Man a narrow window with which to work. He takes full advantage of it – making a fateful jump and launching himself right at this glorified Halloween character.
‘Hope I timed this right. I swear if I have to listen to that annoying laugh again, I’ll French kiss Jameson.’
His luck is much better this time. He hits Hobgoblin head-on, but his feet are still secured to the glider. They end up tumbling through the air, descending rapidly towards the busy streets below.
“This still your idea of fun?” taunted Spider-Man as he puts Hobgoblin in a choke-hold.
“Errr! Close…enough!” grunted Hobgoblin, still grinning.
As they tumble between the large residential buildings, Hobgoblin struggles to break Spider-Man’s hold on him and throw him off his glider. Spider-Man is able to hang on, using his wall-crawling powers to adhere to the glider. Along the way, Hobgoblin tries to retrieve more pumpkin bombs. However, he ends up dropping them as they tumble chaotically through the air.
What happens next was sure to be on the front page of the Daily Bugle tomorrow. The bombs rained down on the street below, exploding around a busy stretch of New York City road. People started screaming in horror – abandoning their cars and running for cover. Several cars erupted in flames. One stray pumpkin bomb hit a fire hydrant, causing a geyser of water to shoot up from the street.
At this point, even those trying to record this battle with their smartphones started running. It’s a dangerous situation, putting a lot of innocent people at risk. This is certainly not lost on Spider-Man, who knew all too well the price that innocent people often paid because of someone else’s irresponsibility.
‘Damn it! This is exactly what I don’t need right now. I guess this is where bad luck meets worse karma. I knew this week was going to be bad, even before the Parker luck kicked in. I can’t let it happen again. I can’t let someone else get hurt because of me!’
Spider-Man tightened his choke hold on Hobgoblin, hoping to disable him or at least make sure he takes the brunt of the crash. Even with the world spinning and destruction unfolding all around him, he can see the ground fast approaching. He braced himself for impact, hoping Hobgoblin didn’t have any more tricks up his sleeve.
“Hope you’re insured, Gobby!” said Spider-Man.
“Speak…for yourself,” he grunted.
He then felt his spider-sense go off again. But before Spider-Man can process the danger, Hobgoblin reaches behind and grabbed his nemesis’ face. In doing so, he activated a special mechanism in his glove that delivered a paralyzing shock right to Spider-Man’s face.
“Aagh!” exclaimed Spider-Man.
Sparks flew from the glove. A surge of burning pain shot through his face, singing the fabric of his mask. It’s like being hit with a hammer and a bolt of lightning at the same time. It forces Spider-Man to release Hobgoblin from the chokehold. This allows Hobgoblin to easily throw him off the back of his glider, sending him crashing atop a taxi cap that had since been abandoned.
“Hnn…that could’ve gone better,” groaned Spider-Man.
Still conscious but in a great deal of discomfort, Peter Parker pulled himself up. He was seeing stars and spots everywhere. His ears were ringing. He could still hear the sound of people yelling in terror. He could smell the clouds of debris caused by all the pumpkin bombs. He could even feel the heat from a couple of nearby cars that were on fire. It’s at this point he realized that he got a bit too close to the exhaust of Hobgoblin’s glider because over half of the top part of his uniform had been burned off.
“Correction – that could’ve gone way better,” said Spider-Man with a deeper groan. “This costume was brand new. Guess I’ll have to dip into my rent money…again.”
He wiped off some of the charred remains of his costume, leaving him almost shirtless. He had a few burns and bruises, but it was nothing he couldn’t shut out. He remained focused on the scene before him and the psychopath causing it. This had already become way more chaotic than he had hoped. It wasn’t the worst Spider-Man had been in by far. But on a day like this, it still felt pretty bad.
“Shake it off, Spidey. You’ve survived worse…to a point,” he urged himself.
His first instinct was to check his mask. Aside from a chunk near his jaw, it was still largely intact. That was at least somewhat of a lucky break. The last thing he wanted was to give Hobgoblin a glimpse of his identity. But he didn’t remember seeing the Hobgoblin’s glider crash so he assumed he was preparing for another attack.
His face still burning, Peter jumped down from the car and frantically scanned the area. His vision was still clearing and there was a lot of smoke from the burning cars nearby. He knew Hobgoblin was still close and he couldn’t wait for his spider-sense to warn him of the next attack.
“Gotta stop him – or at least get him away from the people,” said Spider-Man.
“A little late for that, Spider-Man. Wouldn’t you agree, ma’am?” he heard Hobgoblin say.
“No! Let me go! Let me go, you ugly creep!” said a desperate female voice.
As soon as moment Spider-Man heard that voice, he knew the situation took a turn for the worse. His vision quickly cleared and he followed the voice to an area just outside an alley between two large buildings. It was an area where he remembered seeing a number of civilians gathering to get a better view of the fight on the roof. Apparently, one of them didn’t run fast enough when the pumpkin bombs started raining down.
‘No! Not this again! Please, don’t put me in this situation again!’
It was a scene that triggered memories of a fateful battle against another goblin. In that battle, the Green Goblin held Gwen Stacy – the love of his life – by the neck over the George Washington Bridge. He tried to save her, but failed. The sound of her neck snapping still haunted his dreams to this day.
Now, the Hobgoblin had another innocent woman in a similar situation. This woman wasn’t Gwen. This one had red hair, green eyes, and a more expensive taste in dresses. However, the fear and terror on her face was every bit as intense.
Peter watched that fear and terror escalate as she kicked and struggled under Hobgoblin’s grip. It did little good against his enhanced strength. He made sure she couldn’t struggle too much – holding her several feet off the ground and pressing a razor-disk pressed right up against her neck. Even with Spider-Man’s reflexes, he couldn’t hope to get to her in time. It was the worst possible predicament on this worst of days.
“Put her down, Hobgoblin! She’s got nothing to do with this!” demanded Spider-Man.
“What? No joke? No petty insults?” retorted Hobgoblin. “I’m guessing now you’ll take this seriously.”
“We passed that point eight pumpkin bombs ago. Now put her down!” he yelled.
“Ooh! I don’t know which chord I’ve struck, but I like it!”
Encouraged by Spider-Man’s reaction, he backed his glider further into the alley – pressing the razor disk against the woman’s neck a little harder. He then flew in a little lower so that her feet hovered just a few inches off the ground.
“Let go – can’t breathe!” the woman struggled, clawing desperately at Hobgoblin’s arm.
“Shut up. Breathing is the least of your worries,” said Hobgoblin, “but since you’re a pretty one, I’ll be extra generous.”
“You call this generous?” spat Spider-Man.
“It’s as generous as you’ll get so listen up!” he replied menacingly. “This is the deal, wall-crawler – you put your hands up, you walk up to me, and let me unmask you. In return, I let the girl go.”
Spider-Man clenched his fists, never taking his eyes off the woman. Hobgoblin notices and holds her up a little higher, making sure he can see the fear in her eyes.
“That’s some deal, Hobby,” said Spider-Man, hoping to bide time. “Then again, you’ve never been known for your business ethics.”
“Did I mention the deal is non-negotiable?” he added.
“Please – not like this! Can’t die…like this!” the woman within Hobgoblin’s grip gasped.
“I do apologize for this, ma’am. But your life isn’t in your hands anymore. It’s in his,” said Hobgoblin, snidely pointing his chin at Spider-Man.
“Says the man choking the life out of her,” Spider-Man pointed out.
“Oh, and I forgot one other detail about the deal – it’s time sensitive,” he said, pushing the woman’s chin up so that the disk-razor was right against her jugular.
Spider-Man was out of time. This guy was willing to do it. He was willing to murder an innocent woman in front of him if he didn’t get what he wanted. Hobgoblin never cared much about collateral damage. In fact, most of the criminals in crazy costumes he faced didn’t care about it. By throwing it in Spider-Man’s face, he put him in the worst possible position.
‘Think, Parker! Think! You’re supposed to have a genius IQ, damn it! You can calculate the odds that he’ll flake on the deal down to the decimal. You can’t just do what he says. You can’t let him hurt an innocent woman either. So how do you save her and wipe that ugly grin off Hobgoblin’s face?’
His mind raced. Smoke, fire, and dust still choked the air around him. He could still hear screaming civilians, but right now he could only focus on the one Hobgoblin had at his mercy. He searched desperately for a way to save her.
Then, as his eyes briefly diverted from the woman’s terrified gaze, Peter noticed something that Hobgoblin hadn’t. It was small. He would have to take a major risk to exploit it. But if it worked, then he could make Hobgoblin’s day almost as bad as his.
“Tick tock, Spider-Man. What’s it going to be? I’m getting bored and the lady here is low on oxygen,” said Hobgoblin impatiently.
“Okay! Okay! You win, Hobby,” said Spider-Man, putting his hands up in defeat. “No more jokes about your ugly face, your annoying voice, and your creepy obsession with Halloween toys. I accept the deal.”
“A wise choice, Spider-Man,” he said with a grin, “but you’ll continue being a fool if you know what’s good for you.”
“As if you could tell the difference,” said the wall-crawler under his breath.
Hobgoblin hovered in lower towards the surface of the street, making it so the woman’s feet were just a few inches off the ground. He loosened his grip on her neck, finally allowing her to breath. However, he kept the razor-disk pressed up against her jugular, ensuring that Spider-Man had no room for error.
“Now then – let’s get this over with,” said Hobgoblin eagerly. “Keep your hands up and start walking towards me. If your arms so much as flinches – well, I’d rather not get blood stains on my glider.”
“I get it, Hobby. You’re as tidy as you are insane. I’m walking,” said Spider-Man.
Carefully and cautiously, the masked vigilante began making his way towards Hobgoblin. He walked through clouds of smoke and debris, the damage caused by this madman’s actions still spreading. The closer he got, the more Spider-Man wanted to punch him in the jaw. He deserved far worse for causing this kind of damage. However, his main concern at the moment was the innocent woman he still had in his grasp.
“Just stay calm, ma’am. It’ll be okay. I promise,” he said to the woman.
“Men make me a lot of promises. It…doesn’t always turn out well,” said the woman, still anxious.
“That changes today,” said Spider-Man strongly. “You got a family? Friends? Kids?”
“Uhh…” the woman stammered.
“Well, sit tight. You’re going to see them again,” he said, not waiting for her to finish.
The woman still didn’t seem to buy his promise. Spider-Man accepted as such. Thanks to Jameson, the people of New York weren’t too inclined to take him at his word. Then again, it’s not like he had a good track record keeping his promises outside the mask either.
“Oh you’re just making this too much fun,” said Hobgoblin with a sadistic grin. “A part of me is going to miss it. Then again, I’m sure I can afford plenty of new thrills once I start taking bids on your identity.”
“If only you could buy a less annoying voice,” muttered Spider-Man.
He could tell that Hobgoblin was already fantasizing about all the money he was going to make. That might end up working to his advantage. With his hands still up, he was finally within reaching distance of Hobgoblin. He could now see both the annoying grin on Hobgoblin’s face and the terrified sweat on the woman’s face. To her credit, she wasn’t crying or shuddering. That set her apart from the average New Yorker, who tended to scream a lot more when caught in the crossfire of a super-villain. If everything went according to plan, she would have it the easiest.
“That’s close enough,” said Hobgoblin. “I don’t need to smell your breath, wall-crawler.”
“Speak for yourself,” quipped Spider-Man.
“Keep your hands up. Don’t move a muscle. And let’s have a peak under that mask of yours.”
“If you let the lady go first, I’ll take it off myself. I’ll even smile for you.”
“Oh please! You think I’m that stupid?”
Grinning underneath his own mask, Hobgoblin prepared to unmask Spider-Man. This is where he needed to trust his plan, his spider-sense, and his knowledge of Oscrop’s less-than-stellar safety record when it came to weapons. As he expected, Hobgoblin did not let the woman go. He transferred his hand back to her neck, causing her to choke again. Then, he tossed the razor disk he had been holding in his hand and reached for Spider-Man’s mask.
In Hobgoblin’s eagerness to start his lucrative venture in exposing Spider-Man’s identity, he still hadn’t noticed his vulnerability. This was just what Spider-Man had been hoping for.
‘Thanks for answering your own question, Hobby.’
With intense focus – driven primarily by his spider-sense – Spider-Man pushed his reflexes to their limit and fired off a single shot of webbing with his right hand. Almost immediately, Hobgoblin showed off his own reflexes and grabbed his wrist before he could get off another.
“Oh no you don’t!” said Hobgoblin menacingly.
Before Spider-Man could begin to throw a punch, he heard a sharp hissing noise from Hobgoblin’s glove. He didn’t need his spider-sense to figure out that he just got shot in the face with a dose of knock-out gas. He tried not to breathe it in, but it was too much. He could already feel it taking effect.
“You just made this harder on yourself – and even more fun for me!” laughed Hobgoblin. “Now I get to deliver your identity and your head! Talk about a bonus! Hahahaha!”
Spider-Man could already feel his world spinning. His arms and legs were getting weaker. His vision was blurring. He had no chance of fighting back against the Hobgoblin at this point. If he passed out, he would be at his mercy.
However, just before he got hit with the knock-out gas, Spider-Man saw that he did exactly what he planned to do. The Hobgoblin didn’t realize it yet, but his fun was officially over. He only began to realize it when a strange burst erupted from his glider.
“Huh? What the…” began Hobgoblin.
“Feeling…stupid…yet?” said Spider-Man, grinning even as his world was spinning.
He didn’t have to answer that question at this point. It was about to become painfully apparent. If he wasn’t a stupid masked psychopath, he might have noticed that a small panel on his glider got chipped off. It probably happened while they were tumbling through the air earlier, most likely from a stray pumpkin bomb. It exposed some of the sensitive components inside. And that one line of webbing that Spider-Man got off hit it perfectly. Then, when Hobgoblin grabbed his arm, he jerked it back just enough to dislodge some hardware. Norman Osborn’s poor engineering skills took it from there.
“Oh no! Nonono!” exclaimed Hobgoblin.
He immediately tried to move his foot. That’s when he discovered the second part of Spider-Man’s plan. In addition to hitting the exposed panel with webbing, some of it managed to stick to Hobgoblin’s boot. That meant he couldn’t deliver the necessary commands or jump off for that matter.
Another burst from within the glider followed. The thrusters that kept the glider in a hovering state started to spark erratically. The whole platform became unstable, shaking violently and making ominous noises. As Hobgoblin panicked, he let go of both the woman and Spider-Man’s wrist. They both fell to the ground with while Hobgoblin remained hopelessly stuck on his glider.
“Disengage! Disengage!” he said urgently. “Disengage, you Oscorp piece of-wahhhhhh!”
That was all he got out. A half-second later, another burst erupted from the bottom of the glider and the rear thrusters ignited – causing it and Hobgoblin to ascend rapidly and turbulently into the smoky skies above the street. Even with blurred vision, Spider-Man could see him spiraling uncontrollably through the air.
With his leg still webbed to the foot controls, Hobgoblin had no choice but to hang on for the bumpy ride. If he was lucky, he’d crash into a park or into the river. If he was even luckier, he’d escape serious injury and evade the police. Had Spider-Man not been on the verge of passing out, he might have actually laughed.
“That was too close – close but satisfying,” said Spider-Man. “Could’ve done…without the gas.”
As Hobgoblin’s panicked cries became more distant, the effects of the knock-out gas caught up with him. He did his best to fight it. Hobgoblin must have taken notes from the Green Goblin. He had encountered his share of knock-out gas before. This stuff was unusually potent, causing his limbs to go weak and his head to spin.
‘Okay. The hard part’s over. You beat Hobgoblin. If you’re lucky, he’ll hit his head really hard and knock the crazy out of him. Now, you’ve got to get out of here. Your mask is partly burned. You have no idea how long this stuff will knock you out. If the police get here – or even some curious civilian walks by – they could unmask you – expose you. Can’t let that happen. Can’t let that…’
His thoughts became less and less coherent. It was no use. The knock-out gas was winning out. His limbs failed him and Spider-Man felt his body fall limply to the hard pavement below. Now lying on his side in a puddle of dirty street water, he felt his strength fail him.
This could be it. This could be the end of his days as Spider-Man. Hobgoblin didn’t expose his identity. But if someone else did – even if it was the police – his life as he knew it would be over. Spider-Man and Peter Parker would be targets. Aunt May, Harry Osborn, Betty Brant – everybody he ever knew would be targets as well. It was a terrifying thought.
But just as his world was about to go dark, his eyes drifted towards a reassuring sight. The woman that Hobgoblin threatened to kill was safe. She was in a state of shock, sitting with her back up against the wall across from him. She was clearly overwhelmed, but alive. Even if this was the end of his life as Spider-Man, he took some comfort in that. He failed Gwen Stacy. Whoever this woman was, he didn’t fail her.
‘Good. She’s safe. I couldn’t save you, Gwen. But I could save her. I…I didn’t fail again. I didn’t…fail. If only I could’ve…’
Then, with the image of Gwen Stacy and the woman he just saved etched in Peter Parker’s memory, everything went black.
‘What do I do? What do I do? Come on, MJ! Think faster! Decide already! Don’t let someone else make the decision for you. You know how that usually turns out.’
Time was running out for Mary Jane Watson. No matter how much she urged him, Spider-Man wouldn’t wake up. The police sirens grew louder by the second. She could even hear some civilians making their way back into the middle of the street. It took just one overly curious person to take this fateful decision out of her hands. She couldn’t let that happen. She wouldn’t.
The time to be shell-shocked was over. Her hands and legs were still trembling. Her neck still burned from the cold grip of the Hobgoblin’s hands. Mary Jane, having shaken off her share of bad situations in life, took a deep breath and returned to her feet. Her strength soon came rushing back to her. She now stood over this unconscious man – his fate in her hands.
“You saved my life,” Mary Jane said to him. “You don’t know me. You don’t know what I’ve done – the decisions I’ve made. Yet you still saved me – a prostitute. You had a chance to do the right thing for the right reasons and you did it.”
Spider-Man still didn’t respond – still very much unconscious – but he didn’t have to. It had to be said, if only to hear herself say it. In doing so, her decision became clear.
‘No more stalling. You know what you gotta do. For once in your life, take a chance on someone other than yourself. You owe it to this man…almost as much as you owe it to yourself.’
Despite wearing an overpriced dress and shoes not at all designed for heavy lifting, Mary Jane Watson made her choice and aided Spider-Man. After retrieving her purse, she knelt down and hitched the unconscious man’s arm around her shoulder. The police sirens were just minutes away, but they would be too slow.
Using her special keycard, she opened one of the nearby side doors leading into her building. Then, just as a NYPD cruiser passed by, she got him inside – not knowing how much she just complicated her already-tumultuous life.
Midtown High – Years Ago
“Hey Parker – catch!” yelled a voice from the crowded halls of Midtown high.
“Wha-ungh!” groaned a thin, undersized teenage boy with glasses.
What happened next was predictable to some and entertaining to others. Eugene “Flash” Thompson just threw a football across the hall with all the accuracy that was expected of a star athlete. And the kid he threw it at – who had to be no more than half his size – didn’t turn around fast enough to catch it. The ball ended up hitting him right in the temple, causing him to fall to the floor – dropping his textbooks and binder in the process.
The scene was pretty comical. A number of those who saw it laughed. Mary Jane Watson was one of them. As a young, attractive girl who just went through puberty in all the right ways, she got to hang out with the popular crowd. That included star athletes like Flash Thompson and star cheerleaders like Liz Allen, who laughed harder than most when she saw the wiry teenage boy fall flat on his face.
“And just like clockwork, Flash finds a way to brighten my morning,” said Liz as she shook her head with a bemused smile.
“Seriously, Liz? This is what brightens your morning?” said Mary Jane with a raised eyebrow.
“It’s cheaper than a latte,” she shrugged. “Besides, it’s all in good fun.”
“Doesn’t look that fun to me,” said Mary Jane as she watched the boy pick up his glasses.
As she watched the scene before her unfold, a part of Mary Jane wanted to intervene. Flash might have been part of the popular crowd, but he also had a reputation for being a jerk. Throwing a football at a boy he knew couldn’t catch it just seemed wrong.
However, she didn’t end up having to do anything. Another boy with short reddish hair stepped in, helped Peter back to his feet, and threw the football back at Flash.
“Real classy, Thompson!” the boy said. “Maybe next time you can strangle a puppy while you’re at it.”
“Take it easy, Harry. Parker knows I’m just kidding. I mean I did warn him this time,” laughed Flash.
“How considerate of you,” said Harry dryly. “Your manners are almost as good as your grade-point average.”
“Well not all of us have a rich daddy who can pay for tutors, Osborn.”
The boy Flash called Harry looked ready to punch Flash in the jaw. There were even a few onlookers hoping to see it. However, a disheveled Peter Parker grabbed Harry’s shoulder and held him back.
“Let him go, Harry. It’s too late to salvage my dignity this morning,” he said.
“You really need to stop taking this kind of crap, Pete. It’s not good for your health or your face, for that matter,” said Harry.
“I don’t need you to fight my battles, Harry. And these aren’t the kind of battles a guy like me should be fighting,” said Peter. “High school sucks enough. If I make it out with just a sore jaw, I consider that a win.”
Harry just shook his head, gave Flash the finger, and helped Peter gather the rest of his things. This disappointed those hoping to see a fight. While Mary Jane was relieved, Liz remained ambivalent to it all.
This was hardly the first time she or Liz saw some kid get bullied in the halls of Midtown High. This sort of thing happened pretty regularly. Mary Jane usually shrugged it off. She had enough going on in her home life. She didn’t need to get caught up in these sorts of things. Right now, high school was her sanctuary – a place where she didn’t have to deal with all the crap going on with her father right now. She preferred to keep it that way.
“Poor kid,” sighed Mary Jane, “and to think, my Aunt Anna keeps trying to set me up with quiet, nerdy boys.”
“Try not to have too much sympathy for Peter Parker, MJ. He doesn’t need it. He’s already got straight-A’s, excessive sympathy from teachers, and a ridiculously high IQ. He’s set for life. He’ll never have to work that hard to be successful whereas the rest of us average shmucks have to toil.”
“Says the girl who once got a free hot dog by flashing a vendor,” quipped Mary Jane.
“Parker has his brain. I have my tits. We got to use what we’ve got. Some of us just got more than others.”
“Yet I see nobody throwing a football at your head…or mine for that matter,” she said half-jokingly.
“We’re in high school. We’re surrounded by teenage boys. Tits trump brains. It’s that simple.”
Mary Jane laughed and rolled her eyes again. A part of her still wanted to see if that boy was okay, but he had already run off with that Harry Osborn kid. Instead, she just followed Liz to homeroom where another day at Midtown High awaited her. Along the way, they passed by one of Flash’s friend and teammates – Kenny “Kong” McFarlane. He already knew Liz, but he had only recently met Mary Jane.
“Hey Liz. Um…hey Mary Jane,” said Kong. “That’s a nice shirt. Very uh…trendy.”
“Kenny, it’s the same shirt I wore yesterday,” said Mary Jane with a bemused grin.
“What? Oh, I mean – well, it looks as good on you today as it did yesterday. I just…”
He was already fumbling with his words and looking as awkward as any teenage boy could be. Then, the warning bell for homeroom rang and he had an excuse to get out of this awkwardness, which he eagerly took.
“Oops! Don’t want to be late. See you, Liz! See you, Mary Jane!” he said, running off before he could make a bigger fool of himself.
Mary Jane laughed again and shook her head. This had been happening ever since she began filling out bras and wearing makeup. Boys and men of all types tried to flirt with her. Some were better at it than others. Most just stumbled around awkwardly and made fools of themselves, as was to be expected of hormonal teenage boys. It put her in some strange situations early in her high school career, but she didn’t fight it. In fact, she embraced it.
This sort of attention was way better than anything she got from her family. It was part of what made going to high school bearable. At the same time, however, it also proved the point Liz just made.
“Need I say more about the power of tits?” said Liz wryly.
“I rest my case,” said Mary Jane. “I just prefer that my tits not be my primary weapon.”
“You say that now, but trust me – they’ll come in extra handy down the line. They’ll help make your life more manageable. And unless you want to end up like the Peter Parkers of the world, you’ll take advantage of them.”
“Guess we’ll have to wait and see,” sighed Mary Jane, “but make no mistake – I don’t intend to end up anything like Peter Parker. I’m going to be Mary Jane – whoever she ends up being.”
“Amen to that, girlfriend!”
The two teenage girls laughed. However, the points Liz made still stuck with Mary Jane. She didn’t doubt that she would see more incidents like this. She didn’t even doubt that Liz might be right on some levels – that she might have to use her endowments to her advantage. So long as she could control the situation better than her home life, she was okay with that.
Having made her point, Mary Jane shrugged off the incident – accepting it as just another part of high school. She continued to follow Liz to homeroom, expecting no further concerns about Peter Parker or anyone like him for the foreseeable future.
Mary Jane’s Apartment – Present Time
“Peter Parker is Spider-Man and he’s in my apartment. Wow.”
Mary Jane kept saying these words out loud, but she still couldn’t believe them. She knew from the get-go that she was inviting trouble when she chose to save Spider-Man rather than let the police find him. However, she had no idea it would create a situation like this.
It had already been pretty taxing. Dragging an unconscious body up a flight of stairs – in overprized heels, no less – proved harder than expected. Luckily, she didn’t live on the top floor of this building. She only had to ascend a few levels to get to her apartment. At times, she had to peak around the corner and scan the halls to make sure nobody was in the hallways. Given the spectacle unfolding outside, she assumed everybody in the building was glued to the windows or their TVs. It gave her the time and space she needed to get Spider-Man into her apartment without anybody seeing.
As soon as she made it inside, she carefully laid his unconscious body on the couch in her living room. Still flushed with adrenaline from her near-death experience, Mary Jane decided to be extra careful. She rushed to every window in her apartment and closed the blinds. Outside, she could still see smoke from the damage done by Hobgoblin’s attack. She could also see plenty of flashing lights from the police cruisers. Being a successful prostitute, she already knew how to keep her living space private and concealed. This gave Spider-Man an ideal environment to heal. Then, she chose to add to the complications.
It started when she scanned him for injuries. Given her line of work, Mary Jane had to know how to deal with occasional bumps and bruises – not all of which came from clients. First, she removed what remained of the top part of his costume. Somehow, Spider-Man managed to get over half of it burned off. Once she got that off, she scanned his upper body for serious injuries. Seeing nothing that warranted first aid, she turned her attention to his masked face. This is where the complications turned into a fateful choice.
She could’ve kept his mask on. She probably should’ve kept it on. Mary Jane assumed Spider-Man wore a mask for a reason. However, the mask had been partially damaged. For all she knew, he was hurt or wounded in ways that needed treatment. At least, that’s the excuse she told herself. In the end, she was just as curious as Hobgoblin. So once she sat him up on her couch, she unmasked him. That’s when her world started spinning.
‘This might be the most incredible thing that’s ever happened to me – or the worst. Spider-Man just saved my life. Then, I saved him. That should’ve made us even. But then I had to go and remove his mask. I had to find out that he’s Peter Parker – the nerdy boy who went to my old high school. I don’t know how much I just complicated my life, but there’s no going back now.’
This crazy situation was still sinking in, but Mary Jane gradually began to process it. At first, she didn’t recognize his face. However, she knew she had seen it before. She ended up going to her bedroom, opening up her walk-in closet, and retrieving her old high school yearbook from an old box. Using the photos and her mixed memories of high school, she confirmed it. Spider-Man was Peter Parker.
Now sitting in a chair across from the couch, Mary Jane studied Peter’s face and the yearbook she still had in her lap. She found herself thinking back to a more innocent part of her life – albeit not nearly as innocent as it could’ve been.
‘I still can’t believe it. At the same time, it makes a strange bit of sense. Peter Parker didn’t have many defining traits back then, but everyone remembered how often he got picked on. He was an easy target – scrawny, nerdy, and obscenely smart. He’s the last guy anyone would expect to become a superhero. It kind of makes him the perfect man for the job.’
Mary Jane’s gaze kept alternating between the unconscious Peter Parker on the couch and the one depicted in her yearbook. The one in her yearbook showed a nerdy boy with glasses. His stature was so unremarkable – his demeanor so sub-standard. He only ever stood out because he was so much smarter than everybody around him. And the only reason she remembered him was because he got picked on more than most kids at high school.
Now, the Peter Parker lying before her might as well be a different person. There was nothing scrawny about him. He was remarkably fit – having almost no body fat, large yet compact muscles, and a chiseled set of abs. He bore the kind of toned and sculpted stature that seemed befitting of an Olympian athlete. Having serviced her share of athletes, Mary Jane could safely say that Peter had been a late bloomer. He had grown from an awkward teenager into a remarkably handsome man.
However, Mary Jane had to stop herself from admiring him too much. She didn’t need to add to the complications any more than she already had.
‘Easy there, MJ. Don’t start thinking with the wrong parts of your body again. My life is dangerous enough. There’s no need to share it with a man who already saved your life. Then again, he’s a superhero. He might be used to that sort of thing. He might even like it.’
She still found herself admiring Peter’s unconscious body, but ended up shaking her head clear of such thoughts. She turned her attention back to the yearbook in her lap. In doing so, her gaze fell upon the picture of herself.
If anyone else had looked at this picture, they would’ve seen an attractive teenage girl with an alluring smile and an even more alluring figure. For Mary Jane Watson, however, she saw someone who could’ve used a hero much sooner.
‘Quit making excuses. You’ve made way too many since that picture was taken. You found a way to justify being the happy-go-lucky party girl who just loved putting herself out there. You found a way to justify hooking up with certain men just to get away from others. You even found a way to make becoming a prostitute more worthwhile than becoming a model or actress. This man didn’t need an excuse to save you. He didn’t ask for your name or your profession. He just did what he thought was right.’
That very concept – doing the right thing for the right reason – both intrigued and confounded Mary Jane. It stood in stark contrast to the way she had been living her life since high school. She based most of her decisions on her situation. She chose in accord with what she wanted and what she felt would make her situation easier. While that did keep her out of trouble for the most part, it didn’t always feel right. Now, she had before her a living example of this concept.
Spider-Man was a hero – just like the Avengers and the Fantastic Four. She didn’t care what J. Jonah Jameson might said. This man saved her life. He saved her life, even though it hadn’t always been worth saving. That said a lot about him and even more about her.
As she processed this notion, she closed her yearbook and looked back at the unconscious man on her couch. Now, she couldn’t help but admire him even more. And this time, she admired more than his body. At the same time, however, she still scolded herself. This man – this hero who put himself in danger to save others – had been in enough danger for one evening.
‘You should find a way to get him out of here as quickly as possible. He saved your life. Don’t give him a reason to regret it.’
Mary Jane began feeling anxious again. She gazed towards her covered window. She still saw the familiar flashes of police lights. She also heard more sirens from emergency vehicles. The situation outside wasn’t settling down anytime soon. By keeping him here, she invited even more danger.
‘Don’t make excuses this time. You do have a knack for attracting danger – and not just psychopaths in goblin masks. You took on more than your share of danger when you chose to become a prostitute. You’re already a target from would-be pimps – be they from the Kingpin or that Hammerhead guy. You’re an even bigger target to ex-boyfriends and wanna-be agents, who still want your life to be part of theirs. And you’ll always be a target with your father – who would probably turn Spider-Man over to the police in exchange for a cold beer. So what are you waiting for? Get him out of here! Get him away from your messed up life!’
Mary Jane could hear her own voice echoing in her head, urging her to get spare this man the complications of her life. It seemed like the most reasonable, logical thing to do. However, another voice kept her from acting.
‘I know I should. It makes so much sense. But it still feels so…wrong. This man saved my life. This man – Peter Parker – is the same man I ignored in high school. He got bullied by the Flash Thompsons of the world – the same Flash Thompsons I readily slept with. By just throwing him out into the hall, I would spare him the complications of my life. But that just feels like another excuse. I ignored him once before. It wasn’t right back then and it wasn’t right now. Who cares if you’re a whore or a nun? Do the right thing for once!’
The debate inside her raged. No matter which voice she heard, Mary Jane couldn’t bring herself to decide. She spent most of her life not caring how right or wrong her decisions might be. Now, after nearly getting her throat slit by Hobgoblin, her entire understanding of her life was changing.
Mary Jane soon became so conflicted that she hadn’t noticed Peter stirring from his unconscious state. When she heard him let out a deep groan, her thoughts stopped racing and she froze.
“Damn…guess I’ve made my choice,” Mary Jane muttered to herself.
She did her best to regain her composure. It had been a while since she felt this nervous around a man. Seeing as how this man had saved her life, it seemed oddly appropriate.
“Ungh! Where…where are you, Gobby?” said Peter in a slurred tone.
“Um…he’s gone,” said Mary Jane plainly.
“What? Then how did I…”
As his head stopped spinning and his vision cleared, he tried to sit up. That’s when he realized that he wasn’t lying in the alley anymore. It’s also when he realized that his mask and his shirt were gone.
“Oh shit!” he exclaimed, now jolted back to full awareness. “My costume! My mask! Where the hell is…”
“It was torn,” said Mary Jane in the same tone. “The top part was already in pieces, but the mask was…”
Peter didn’t let her explain. He shot up from the couch and anxiously scanned his new surroundings.
“It was still intact! You didn’t have to take it off!” he shouted.
“You’re right. I didn’t, but…”
“Did anyone else see my face? Did Hobgoblin get a glimpse?” he asked anxiously.
“Calm down, Peter. Nobody else saw your face. I promise,” said Mary Jane, doing her best to calm him down.
As soon as she said his name, he stopped scanning his surroundings and focused on her. She probably should’ve kept that bit of information to herself because now he looked even more anxious and understandably so.
“Wait – did you just call me Peter? You…you know my name?!” exclaimed Peter.
“Well…yeah,” said Mary Jane sheepishly. “I didn’t recognize you outright. I kind of figured it out.”
“Kind of?” he groaned. “What did you do? Scan my fingerprints or something? Run a DNA test?”
“Look around, Peter – or Spider-Man, if that’ll make you feel better. Do you see anything nearly that elaborate?”
He looked around at his surroundings again. This time, he wasn’t nearly as anxious. Upon seeing that he was in an ordinary apartment, he finally took a deep breath and calmed down. He was still pretty tense though. Mary Jane could only imagine what was going through his mind – knowing that a semi-total stranger just learned his identity.
“Okay. I don’t hear the police or J. Jonah Jameson banging on the door with jackhammers. So I’ll assume you didn’t tell anybody,” said Peter.
“I haven’t and I won’t,” assured Mary Jane. “I also made sure nobody saw you when I dragged you up here.”
“And just to spare myself another heart attack, where exactly is here?”
“Here is my apartment,” said Mary Jane, gesturing around with both arms. “Don’t worry. It’s safe. I’ve closed all the windows and shut the blinds. There’s still a lot of police and fire activity outside. So you can lay low here as long as you want.”
“Thanks,” he said with a bit of relief, “Saves me the trouble of web-slinging back home with a pounding headache and a tattered costume. Besides, I’m trying to give the police less reasons to hate me.”
“Well there are plenty of witnesses that saw you fight that psycho. We’re actually kind of lucky. That same psycho just happened to put a blade to my neck outside my own apartment building.”
“You call that lucky?” said Peter with a raised eyebrow.
“Well, when you put it like that…”
Mary Jane blushed and laughed at herself. It was a strange thing to laugh at, especially with the memory of Hobgoblin’s cold grip so fresh in her mind. But it felt kind of good.
Peter barely cracked a smile. Still slumped on her couch, he shook his head and rubbed the back of his neck. He was still plenty anxious and there was only so much he could do to calm him down.
“Luck aside, you saved my life, remember?” said Mary Jane.
“Yeah, I guess I did,” he said, cracking another smile in the process.
“No need to guess. That guy would’ve killed me. He’s a psychopath. Believe me, I know his type,” she said. “You took a hell of a chance saving me.”
“I’m Spider-Man. It’s kind of what I do – even if it does leave me with nasty headaches and shattered dignity.”
“And you do it well. I owe you…way more than my life, no less.”
“Well you got me out of that alley before the cops or news crews showed up. I’d say that makes us even,” said Peter.
“No. It doesn’t – not even close,” said Mary Jane strongly.
Peter blinked a few times, taken aback somewhat by her tone. He clearly didn’t recognize her. It’s entirely possible that he went out of his way to forget everyone he ever met back in high school. It put him in an awkward position.
With these circumstances in mind, Mary Jane decided to make a fateful choice. The debate that had been raging within her earlier finally ceased. She still couldn’t be sure about what felt right. However, she had a pretty good idea for finding out.
“I’m sorry, Miss. I uh – I appreciate the sanctuary. I really do,” said Peter, sounding as awkward as the teenage boy she barely remembered, “but this is getting dangerous. You know who I am. I don’t know you. For all I know, you’ll call J. Jonah Jameson the moment I leave and he’ll be right at my door when I get home – noose and camera in hand.”
“I’m not going to do that,” said Mary Jane strongly.
“I want to believe you, but…”
Mary Jane then put her hand up to silence him. He made a valid point. He didn’t know her and had no reason to trust her. So if she wanted to see her choice through, she needed to take a chance. In order to do this, she would have to make herself vulnerable in a way she had never dared before.
“Please, Peter – I want to do the right thing for the right reasons…for once,” she told him.
“I’m all for that. I just…think this is getting too dangerous for both of us,” said Peter.
“Then let me give you something to alleviate the danger. My name is Mary Jane Watson. I grew up in Queens, New York. I went to the same high school as you did. And the fact that you know who I am ensures I can’t turn you into the police.”
“How do you figure?” he asked curiously.
“Because I’m a prostitute,” said Mary Jane, “and I’m willing to give you all my secrets so I can keep yours.”
Next Chapter: The Proposition