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Right Around 3AM

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It'd been three months.

Three months since the city hall bombing, since the Sinister Six were scattered, since Norman Osborn stepped down, and three months since the dreaded disease "Devil's Breath" was eradicated. For the most part, New York City was safe. All of Spider-Man's enemies were well accounted for, not including a few loose ends still running around the city in a post-Ryker's-mass-breakout world. After things settled down he'd even managed to patch things up with Mary Jane. For a while, things had felt fine. May Parker may have been gone, leaving a gaping hole in the wake of her death, but at least Peter had MJ around to ease the transition from mourning to normality. The loss felt... less, with her to help. Until now.

"You're breaking up with me?" asked an aghast Peter.

They were in Osteria Fiorita, ironically the place of their first official date. Fiorita was beaten down, dusty, and not terribly upkept. It made up for this by being classy, having great lighting, a good atmosphere, and friendly staff. Best of all, the food was in Pete's price range. For Peter, the restaurant had always been associated with happy memories, maybe even more so than Mick's. MJ's smile, a shared pizza or plate of cheap pasta... Now it was tainted.

"Don't say it like that," sighed Mary Jane. She adjusted the straw in her glass, swirling sizzling bubbles in her strawberry soda. Peter got the idea that she was reluctant to look him in the eyes. "Saying it like that implies that there's something wrong with you, with us."

"Well, there clearly is if you're calling it quits."

"I don't want to quit on us, Peter, but maybe we need a break."

"I need you."

"No, no you don't. You're a god damn superhero, and me... Well, I like to help you out where I can, dig up information, find witness... But let's be honest with ourselves, you'd get along just fine without me."

"For a while, maybe, but what about-" Not knowing how to say the next bit without losing masculinity points, Peter struggled for words. In that uncanny way of hers, MJ seemed to know exactly what he was failing to get across. She always seemed to know exactly what he wanted to say, what he was thinking, better than himself sometimes.

"Emotional support? I'll always be a shoulder to cry on, or someone to call in California, Pete," said MJ softly, touching his hand across the table. "But you underestimate yourself. You're stronger than you think, really."

Heart crumbling to pieces, Peter sat back in his seat and removed his hand from MJ's grip. The world was wrong. This couldn't be happening. He couldn't imagine a lift without MJ in New York, working for the Daily Bugle, living only a subway ride or a few swings away. As a last resort, Peter pulled his puppy-dog eyes from his arsenal, perhaps unintentionally. Mary Jane could never seem to resist those eyes, so she made a point of avoiding them.

"Do you have to go?" Hard as he tried to the contrary, Peter's voice quavered.

"It's a great job opportunity. Not a bad salary, and a lot less super criminals terrorizing the city. Usually that sort of thing is just my forte for writing, but lately..." she stammered a little, and Peter came to realize that this was just as hard for her as it was for him. It hurt to know that she didn't believe in his ability to protect her, consciously or not, though perhaps it was warranted, realistic. There were certainly times that he'd wanted her out of the city, when things got especially bad. Shaking her head, MJ finished with an air of finality. "I need to stretch my wings, try new frontiers."

"Look, Peter, you're a great guy, and I love you. I don't think I'll ever stop loving you, to be honest, but this... thing we have happening, it's just not healthy. I need time to myself, to actually focus on my career, and you need to cut the umbilical cord and learn to get by without relying on me 24/7. It's tiring for me, living your life vicariously through your venting. Maybe one day... we can try to make things work again, if you or I haven't moved on. But for now..."

"Yeah." Peter swallowed, and in doing so did his best to swallow down his sadness. His closing word on the subject was a simple, "Ok."

TheDailyBugle: Today we say goodbye to one of our star reporters, MJWatsonJackpot, who is leaving for an exciting new employment opportunity at LosAngelesTimes. We'll miss you Ms. Watson!

Reply from MirandaB: Awww. You always told the truth girl! Keep at it.

In the end, Yuri Watanabe had really just traded her tobacco addiction for nicotine when she quit smoking. Now she was in the process of weaning herself off of the nicotine, but it was proving just as difficult as the giving up smoking. Still, a new taste for a drug-laced gum was in no ways worse than lung cancer. Out of the two evils, the sick, peppery taste of a stick of gum was infinitely preferable. Besides, Spider-Man approved.

Spider-Man. Yuri had always had mixed feelings about the vigilante. For one thing he was her exact opposite in almost every way, but that never seemed to stop them from fighting on the same side. He was mischievous, a wannabe comedian and prankster, eager to please but somehow hardly ever able to do so. Yuri was no-nonsense, strict with herself and her underlings, and an unyielding perfectionist. And yet, she not only tolerated the vigilante but found him endearing at times, too. All in all, their personalities clashed, but their goals never did.

Right now Yuri was in the middle of trying to get a hold of said superhero, phone to her ear, right hand to her steering wheel, and nicotine gum in her mouth. Her jaw worked the gum into a pulp even as she sped along. Outside her police cruiser windows the world went whipping by. Pedestrians strained to see her on the curb, and cabbies parted for her like the red sea. When Spider-Man finally picked up, it was hard to hear him over the screech of Yuri's sirens.

"Yuri. 'Sup?" He certainly sounded taciturn today. Gone was his cheerful, chatty talkativeness, replaced by strained single-syllables. Yuri ignored it. For now his mood was irrelevant.

"I need you in East Harlem, stat. How far away are you?"

"I could be there in fifteen. Why? What's happening?" His voice had picked up some interest from those vague demands that served as an unintentional incentive.

Yuri gritted her teeth, swerving around a corner to avoid some punk j-walker. She honked more than once at him as she streaked away. For his part the j-walker stood paralyzed, eyes wide and traumatized at the near-death collision. The whole time Spider-Man waited patiently for an answer on his end, wind whisking past his speaker as he swung, already on the move.

"It's the enforcers," Yuri got out.

"What?! Those sideshow knuckleheads have resurfaced?"

"Did you just call them knuckleheads?" Shortly after saying this Yuri shook her head to the side. Focus, Yuri, focus. "Yes, it's them, all three of them. After Fisk went down we were never quite able to find them."

"Are they still working for Fisk?"

"Could be. He definitely doesn't have a problem with paying his other employees from prison. Does it matter?"

"Yeah, you're right, we'll figure it out later."

"They're robbing a small casino-bar and generally causing a ruckus. Dodgy place. Called the "The Serenade Lounge". We think it was extortion gone sideways. Get there before it gets taken to the streets and people get hurt."

"On it." With that, Spider-Man promptly hung up on his side of the phone. He'd gone into what Yuri liked to call "action-mode", something she herself experienced on almost a daily basis. It didn't matter if it was a crime or a confrontation with her mother, "action mode" was a way of life.

Though her confusion and anxiety at the sudden reappearance of the Enforcers was still strong, Yuri had complete trust in Spider-Man to handle the situation. Eventually. The biggest question was how long it would take and what the extent of the property damage would climb to. If he stuck to solely trashing that slimy "Serenade Lounge", an establishment she'd been wanting to bust for months now, then she would forgive him. One thing was for certain: she or one of her coworkers would be stuck with an awful lot of paperwork later tonight.

Eyes0Pen: Spotted the Spoods booking it across Upper East. Check these action pics. -embedded image-

Reply from AWSMSCE: The NYCWallCrawler in his natural habitat, everybody.

Reply from SpiderNerdArmy: That ass though.

Reply from Eyes0Pen: @SpiderNerdArmy ...

Reply from SpiderNerdArmy: What?

Something like this was just what Spider-Man needed. A kick in the ass to get him back on track. Sure, he wasn't happy that the Enforcers were shooting up some place, robbing, and spreading havoc, but that didn't mean that some small part of him was displeased at the chance to take out his frustrations on some C-level criminals. ...B-list, at best. For a moment, just a moment, he was able to forget MJ in the midst of his swings towards the scene.

Wooping, Spider-Man detached at the top of a tall arc and let himself plummet. At the last second, he snagged a nearby skyscraper with a line and swung out of the free-fall. Pedestrians ducked out of instinct as he came close, yells varying from excitement to disgust. The key to moves like that was keeping his body loose and tense at the right times, something he'd mastered over eight years of occasional face plants.

When he got closer to the location Yuri had sent him, Spider-Man slowed down and became silent. It wasn't hard to find The Serenade-whatever, even without a sign. The street was abandoned, cordoned off by first responders. Gunshots rattled in Spider-Man's skull, piercing through walls, his mask, and his sensitive eardrums. Go time.

To Spider-Man's delight, he found a vent just his size outside The Serenade Lounge. The spider-themed wallcrawler wasted no time in crawling inside, eye-lenses opening wider like pupils to allow more access to light in the dim ducts. The air was choked with dust, visible only when it drifted into the light cast by openings. From what glimpses that Spider-Man got of the place below, he was not impressed. In short, The Serenade was a seedy sack of shit. Through the grills Spider-Man could spy a pair of police engaged in a firefight with the presumably unseen Enforcers. As he pressed forward Spider-Man soon spotted the men of honour themselves.

The Enforcers were a trio whose appearance evoked nostalgia for a bygone era of classy gangsters in suits. That image was ruined by their more unconventional and even quirky talents and names. Jackson W. Brice or "Montana" wore a suit, tie, and Stetson hat; Spider-Man often affectionately referred to him in his head as "Fancy cowboy". The man was so skilled with a lariat that it was uncanny, and Spider-Man knew from experience that his proficiency with lasso was not to be underestimated. The diminutive Daniel "Fancy Dan" Brito was the picturesque mafioso with his fedora, and a whiz at judo. More than once Fancy Dan had even managed to get the drop on Spidey, bypassing his spider-sense before he could react properly. Out of the three, Raymond Bloch "Ox" was the most physically intimidating. Hell, he could give Wilson Fisk a run for his money, if he had more martial arts training. The three ex-circus criminals were a nasty, contentious bunch, and although Montana tended to act as their leader in the absence of a Boss, the spot was highly contested.

Luckily, Spider-Man had dealt with them long enough to know how they operated. First, he had to take Dan out with stealth, then take out Ox before the strongman could do any more damage. There was no splitting these guys up, so he had to be quick. Holding his breath, Spider-Man removed the grate below him and sent out a web. He snagged Fancy Dan directly on the ankle and yanked him up, releasing the breath he'd sucked in before. Dan yelled and swore but was quickly silenced when Spider-Man slammed him into the roof of the air-shaft and stuck him there with a splat of a web. The martial arts master looked unconscious, but for good measure Spider-Man plastered his mug with muzzling webs, leaving space for his nostrils to take in oxygen.

Montana and Ox weren't idiots, although they sure could fool Spider-Man on that account. They knew that Spider-Man was here. In the ensuing confusion, Ox effortlessly threw a table at the police, and Montana started shooting wildly into the ceiling. Relying on his spider-sense, Spider-Man contorted his body to evade the bullets that got too close. Not about to misuse a moment, Spider-Man propelled himself from his perch like a catapult, twisting mid-air, feet aimed directly at the nape of Ox's neck. The soles of his feet struck true, planting firmly against the space between Ox's neck and shoulders. It was enough to knock him forward and out, but controlled enough so that his spine remained intact.

"Die you sonuva-" Montana started, gun raised, lariat seamlessly and simultaneously spinning over his hat.

Spider-Man dodged the first bullet, but he wasn't so lucky when Montana cast his rope. It tightened like a vice around Spidey's torso, constricting like a snake. The braided fibres it was made up of were tougher than they appeared, and thus Spider-Man always needed some time to slip out of Montana's snares. For all Montana's skill, though, the guy was only a glorified cowboy, no super strength like Ox. The moment Spider-Man was caught he leapt like a jackrabbit into the rafters, taking Montana with him. The gangster lost his grip immediately afterwards and landed on his ass. It was enough to get a laugh out of Spider-Man.

"Oh man, oh boy, did anyone record that?" Spider-Man wheezed from his new perch, wiping at imaginary tears. "Pr-Priceless. AFV material-YIKES."

Whatever dumb joke Spider-Man was going to follow the taunt up with was interrupted when Montana resumed firing his gun. The cops just outside area of immediate conflict seemed reluctant to join in now that Spider-Man was involved. Their worry was that he would get caught in the line of fire. Spider-Man ended their deliberations by calling out to them, "Go! Get out of here! I'll handle this!"

One of the officers bristled resentfully. "Forget it! This is our job-"

"Just do as he says!" snarled a third, feminine voice. Yuri Watanabe had arrived, and was not about to be trifled with. It was common knowledge in the entire department that Watanabe had a thing for Spider-Man, though the nature of that "thing" fell anywhere on the continuum from a rumoured romantic tryst to a professional tolerance. There was no fighting her when it came to the webhead.

With the other officers vacated, Spider-Man could really let loose. He was a whirlwind of motion, limbs blurring into non-distinct shapes of red and blue as he dodged and punched and kicked. All the while that by-now-iconic, signature white spider on his front remained steady. The logo was unconsciously frightening on some subconscious level, the part of the human psyche that irrationally feared the stings of scorpions under a thousandth their size, or the bite of a small spider easily crushed under a shoe. In this case, that fear was justified. This spider was human-sized, and although he wasn't much for biting, his strikes more than made up for it.

"Come on Montana. Gimme a yeehaw? Just this once? I'm begging you. That accent is too adorable."

Montana might've been outclassed, but he was undaunted. He was determined not to go down without a fight. All he wanted was one nick, one nick of a bullet if he couldn't kill the acrobatic bastard. Spider-Man was practically playing with him, dancing around his lasso and gunfire. Eventually the superhero just jammed Montana's barrel with webbing, rendering it useless. Disgusted, he tossed the web-packed gun aside bitterly. Fine. He preferred the rope anyway.

At this point Spider-Man was starting to feel quite proud of himself. Cocky, even. He could feel the fight coming to an end. It was practically over, and it'd been a relatively speedy, efficient, and clean affair. Easy, almost too easy.

All of the sudden his spider-sense screamed at him. Spider-Man heeded its signal and sprang straight up in the air, but not before a recovered and enraged Ox wrapped his massive arms around Spider-Man's waist. Yelping, Spider-Man was dragged down and slammed into a table. He tried to wriggle away at contact with the floor, but Ox wasn't about to let him go. Grunting, the giant of a man straightened and started to squeeze. Screaming, Spider-Man squirmed as his ribs began to contract and crack. The spider bite had made him more durable than most men, but even he had limits. In a self-satisfied sort of way, Montana strode over to his partner and prisoner.

"Well well," he drawled smugly with that thick southern accent of his. "Looks like we caught us a bug."

Hardly audible, Spider-Man gasped, "Please, no hu-ugs."

"Should we squish 'im?" Ox asked with an effort that came from trying to restrain the frantically writhing spider.

"Just hold him still for a sec'," replied Montana.

Not long afterwards Spider-Man felt a noose slide around his neck. Montana tossed the end of the rope over the rafters and passed its end to Ox.

"Would you do the honours, Ox?"

A grin that Spider-Man never saw twisted onto Ox's flat-faced features. "Pleasure's all mine," he purred, before pulling the rope down and hoisting Spider-Man up off his feet.

Choking. Dying. Peter Parker's starved lungs screamed for air. His trachea felt bruised, but that was the least of his problems. Air. Air! Every part, every cell of him was desperate for it. Behind his mask Peter gasped and gulped, mouth wide. He almost ripped the mask off instinctively, for all the good that would do. The part of his brain that was still in working order instructed Peter's fingers to claw at the necklace of rope that was slowly killing him. Tough as it was, the tie was starting to come undone from Spider-Man's sheer strength alone. He might've torn it to pieces, eventually, but a part of Peter was already starting to accept that there might not be anymore time.

I can't believe it's going to end like this. Strangled by the fucking Enforcers. Gimme a break... Peter thought morbidly. I can't BELIEVE my last joke was "please, no hugs". Sorry Uncle Ben. I let you down.

Just when things began to go black, he was saved. A shot rang out and lodged right in Ox's shoulder. "Gaarh!" the guy hollered, keeling forward. Blood droplets splattered on Spider-Man's feet just before they touched solid ground once more. Oxygen, blessed oxygen trickled down Spider-Man's throat and filled his expanding lungs. God damn it did it feel good to be alive. After half a second of recovery, Peter slammed a fist into the surprised face of Montana and knocked him out cold. As for the injured Ox, a swift strike to the back of the head put him into a state of unconsciousness once more.

From behind him, a familiar voice sighed. "What would you do without me?"

Although Yuri couldn't see it, what with the mask, Peter spared a sheepish smile at her. "Hey, I got them didn't I?"

TheDailyBugle: The Enforcers behind bars once more! Daniel Brito escapes to rob and kill another day! Read all about it in today's edition!

Reply from LaughingMonkey22: NOBODY. READS. NEWSPAPERS.

Reply from DirkMaldonado: @LaughingMonkey22 Get. A. Life.

Once more Yuri found herself at the top of her precinct building, but rather than smoking as she used to, she was yet again chewing another piece of gum. It calmed her down, smoothed her fried nerves. After all that office work, calls to the Chief, and writing up the official report, she was tuckered out.

More than that, she felt... alone. A part of that came from literally being alone, up on the roof as she was, leaning against the railing. The other part of it was all emotional. It was the anniversary of her last relationship, one that had ended messily a year before she became a lieutenant, before she met Spider-Man, before her purpose as a police-officer had been reinvigorated. That was... what, her fifth relationship? DeWolff... She really thought it would've worked out between the two of them. They'd remained friends but it just wasn't the same. After that Yuri lost all interest in anything but her job and the city.

Sighing, Yuri drove those unwanted thoughts away and glanced at the time on her phone. Three o'clock in the morning. Huh. How time flies... She pocketed the phone once more and chewed resolutely.

It was a peaceful night, which was saying something for New York. Sure, the distant honks of cab drivers and the roars of engines were a constant reality, no matter what the time of day, but Yuri had become desensitized to them, habituated to a point that she didn't really hear them anymore. Yuri appreciated the serene silence, the solitary nature of being up here that was somehow soothing. Hell, she could even pick out a few stars out through the fog. Or were those helicopters? She figured she better not overanalyze it and ruin the moment.

Softly, someone alighted beside her on the railing. On a regular day Yuri might've jumped, but today more than most days she'd expected him to make an eventual appearance. He always came here to apologize, grovel, and pout to her when something went wrong. Rarely did he surprise her these days. Unbidden, a smile twitched on the left corner of Yuri's lips.

"I can't believe that punk got away. He must've had something in his pockets to cut off those webs," Spider-Man bemoaned. His shoulders sagged, and Yuri would've almost felt bad for him, if he wasn't acting like such a big baby.

"Forget about it. We'll get him."

"'Forget about it'?" Spider-Man repeated, reeling backwards in a playful manner. "This from you?"

"Hey, I can be chill if I want to. I'm not always uptight," Yuri defended herself brusquely.

Like a student in class, Spider-Man raised a hand straight in the air. "I have a question."

"Yes?" Yuri groaned, already almost regretting her consent. Her acceptance to the question was rewarded, though. It was surprisingly mature.

"Why that place? Why not rob... I dunno, a bank or something. They're popular among cheap thugs. Or a bigger casino? That place looked poor, and hardly legal."

"That's exactly the point. It is hardly legal, and appearances can be deceiving. There's a lot more money flowing through there than you would think. We've suspected that its a front for the Maggia for a while now. Might've started out legit, and we have no evidence to the contrary, but my gut tells me it's Maggia, and my gut is never wrong."

"Maggia? They're still around?" Spider-Man sounded legitimately surprised, eye-lenses widening. She'd always found it sort of adorable when they did that. Alternatively, when those bug-like lenses were narrowed, they gave off a frightening appearance that was prone to giving her shivers, despite her prolonged exposure and partnership to the man.

"And kicking."

"Huh. I thought people like Hammerhead were the last of them, old relics..."

"Well, you were wrong."

They both lapsed off into silence, not speaking. It was awkward, but somehow easy to be with him. Pensive, Yuri stole a glance at him out of the corner of her eye. She wasn't wrong earlier when she deemed him upset over the phone. The guy hid it well, but there was a defeated limpness to his posture, a sort of gloomy cloud hanging over his head that didn't suit him at all. Spider-Man was the first to break their unstated pact of no-speaking.

"I brought something for you. Brb," he chirped with forced happiness, and abruptly jumped off the side of the building. Yuri started only slightly as he left, reassured when he let out a webline and disappeared out of sight. A chuckle escaped her without her consent.

"Brb?" she repeated aloud.

"Hey don't laugh," he huffed again, already returned. She turned around to see him sitting in that cute crouch of his, holding a paper drink tray. Inside were two cups, branded with that Starbucks-lady-logo that was already enough to get her mouth salivating.

"I felt bad about letting Fancy Dan get away," he explained, hopping down gently and with that characteristic, sinuous grace that could only be replicated by a spider spinning silk. Somehow Yuri knew that there was no chance of him splashing any of that coffee over himself or onto the ground. "So... Starbucks. Didn't know what you liked, so I got you an iced caramel macchiato."

"For me? You shouldn't have." Yuri spat out her bitter gum into a tissue, then made a grabby-hand gesture for a cup. Chuckling, Spider-Man passed one to her and protectively cradled the remaining coffee to his chest. Daintily, he reclaimed his perch on the stretch of railing beside her, sticking and balancing there perfectly.

"Yay! I finally found your weakness. I'll wear you down, eventually. One day you'll like me."

"Keep bringing me iced caramel macchiatos and you won't find me complaining," Yuri moaned around her straw. Jesus this was good, and just what she needed. Sure, it was a little late to be drinking caffeine, but she could care less. Who the hell needed sleep anyways? "How did you even get this? It's 3am."

"That one open-twenty-four-hours place on Broadway? I dropped by and they gave me a superhero discount. Just the sort of thing to give a guy the warm fuzzies, y'know?"

Shrugging, Yuri responded in-between swallows, "I'm not that surprised. Not all of New York hates you, y'know."

"Yeah I know..." There it was again. That dejected tone that Yuri desperately wanted to rectify, if just to stop her from feeling despondently shitty by proxy. She decided against asking him the standard "what's up?" in favour of a more tactful change in conversation to distract him.

"How's that girlfriend of yours?" (1)

"We, uh," Spider-Man coughed delicately. "Broke up. Yesterday, actually. 'Wound's still fresh."


Well that explained it. She may have accidentally stumbled upon the cause, but it made perfect sense. The revelation was two-folded for her. On the one hand, her heart ached for him. Poor guy. She knew better than most how it felt, to try hard day after day to make it work and yet to still be disappointed despite your best efforts. On the other hand, the revelation opened up new intriguing opportunities that she wasn't consciously aware of. Somehow, though, his presence felt different now, filled with possibilities. Hopefully she hadn't come across as fishing.

"What about you? I don't think I've ever asked if you got a beau."

"Not at the moment," answered Yuri shortly. She too wasn't in the mood to get too deep into it.

He processed that for a bit. Yuri had always seemed so absorbed in her work, aloof; it was hard for people to imagine her involved with anyone romantically. Once upon a time though she'd been a raging romantic, contrary to popular belief. That level of dedication was probably what scared off her first boyfriend in high school. Spider-Man seemed to be scrambling for a topic switch, and he found one fairly quickly.

"Remember when we first met?"

Yuri's response was dry. "I pointed a gun at you."

"Yeah, heh. Memories."

Yuri gave Spider-Man an odd look at his fond sigh. The superhero tended to bemuse her at best, and annoy her at worst, but there was something there... something in stark contrast to his childish witticisms. Underneath all of that aloofness, Yuri could tell that he took things seriously, and took them hard too, harder than most. Hell, he acted like it was his job to be concerned for the city, and she was the police officer. Deep down Spider-Man was really an adorable worry-wart, and she cherished this intimate knowledge of him. In spite of that neurotic core that Yuri could always sense, she knew him to be one of the most warm and welcoming persons in the world, or at least that she'd met, mask or no.

Carelessly and casually, Spider-Man tugged his mask up to his nose and started to sip on his iced macchiato at last. It wasn't the first time Yuri had seen him half-maskless, but this time it felt... different. More significant. For the first time since she met him she was actually invested in his secret identity, no, just his face, moreso than she had ever experienced before. In the beginning it'd been a passing interest, one that never interfered with her desire to clean up the city first and worry about useless civilian identities later. She knew him to be a normal person outside the suit, more normal than most according to his own admission.

From what the bottom half of his face gave away, he wasn't bad looking. Course, she couldn't judge the rest, but the mystery of his face was overlaid by the rest of his body. The suit didn't hide much. It snugly hugged every contour, every muscle. She could count his abs up close like this, something that had been done to death on the internet. Like most super types, he was a muscular specimen, but not as big or buff as say, Thor or Captain America. Instead Spider-Man was a skinny thing in comparison, athletic and sleek, like a swimmer's physique.

Heat rose in Yuri's cheeks when she realized what she was doing. Shit. Quickly covering up the line of sight contained indicated in her stares, she looked away and sipped some more of her drink. Fortunately he hadn't noticed, absolutely absorbed in his own beverage. What was she doing? Acting like a school girl with a crush? Was it because he'd admitted to being single again? Was she that desperate of a person? Snap out of it, Watanabe, she scolded herself.

Shifting on his feet, Spider-Man gazed up at the sky. She watched his mouth as the words came out. "Y'know, Yuri," he started, tripping over his words. "I'm glad you did point that gun at me. 'Was the start of something beautiful in the end, wasn't it? We got Fisk, together, even if you acted all tough and bossy and sent me to steal boring evidence most of the time. Us. We did that. We're the real reason Fisk is finally behind bars. You gave me the information needed to cripple his construction operations, to save those people in the Sable camps. You saved me from Sable that first time even when you didn't have to, shot Ox, saved my bacon... You risk your job every day just by associating yourself with someone controversial like me. You've just... always got my back when I need you. Thanks for... for being my friend." A lopsided, bittersweet smile quirked up the side of his lips. "God knows I need all the ones I can get, right?"

Touched, she couldn't stop herself from springing forward and stealing his lips with hers. Almost losing his balance, he staggered backwards and clenched his coffee cup until the plastic cracked. She paid his reaction only a passing heed, stepping forward before she knew what she was doing. The part of her brain that was responsible for higher thought had shut off, and in its place that primal part that didn't think but acted took over the reins. If her brain had been functioning properly, she wouldn't have believed what she was doing, but here she was, kissing Spider-Man.

To her not-so-subtle delight, he didn't pull away. He seemed shocked, sure. His body felt stiff, and the Starbucks cup was leaking its contents through punctured plastic. For a second she spared a peek and saw the "eyes" of his mask, wider than she had ever seen them before. It was almost comical. Slowly, though, they started to close. Before she could regain enough sense to pull away, he leaned into her. Forgotten, the Starbucks cup dropped out of his hand, spiraling to the China Town streets below.

It started innocent enough. A little kiss, shared equally between them with relatively little movement on either of their parts. Almost simultaneously, though, they began to mutually move. First it was just their lips, working against each other, pulling away for quick breaths as the "innocent" kiss moved into make-out territory. Then, there were tongues involved. Neither one of them wanted to stop, so they moved on from frenching to fondling. Yuri could hardly comprehend how they had gotten from point A to B. It'd all happened so fast, and still it was escalating.

Her hands traced shapes over his chest and abdomen, feeling the firmness that she'd only suspected firsthand. He was higher than her, still half-crouched on the railing, so she had to crane her head upwards to kiss him comfortably. Eager, he lowered his torso to deepen the kiss, a gloved hand tentatively running through her short hair, then weaving its fingers through. His thighs were spread on either side of her, and the hand that Yuri had placed on his body soon trailed down to them...

Spider-Man shivered and took that as an invitation to do the same to her, something that she oh-too-willingly submitted to. Gently, hesitantly, he moved the hand away from her black locks and slipped it under her shirt. It crept upwards for a while, and didn't stop until it reached her bra. There was some timid tugging that soon became bold. The back was unclipped and his hand reached under the cups. Yuri was frustrated by the gloves, and she was sure that the feeling was likewise for him.

He was good with his hands. While they worked she broke their current kiss and planted a new one on his exposed neck. A nip or two along his skin made them shiver collectively. It was only then that Yuri Watanabe finally came to her senses.

"Shit!" she growled, pulling back and straightening her disheveled hair and shirt. "Stop!"

Taken aback, Spider-Man flinched like a whipped dog at the unprecipitated change of pace. Uncertainly, he tried to calm her down, and Yuri got the impression that he too felt embarrassed by how far they'd done. "Uh, sorry? Hey, you kissed me!"

"I shouldn't have done that. Shit. Get out of here!" she snapped in a shaky voice, pointing off in some vague direction towards the city to send him off.

Quickly but clumsily, Spider-Man complied, casting himself off the precinct building and swinging away with less of his usual elegance. He probably hadn't recovered yet. Lord knew Yuri hadn't. She was still breathing heavily, hot in the face, flustered beyond expression. Shit, shit, shit. Why did she do that? This was the worst idea she'd had in her career, and there was no way it would work out. Her one little slip up could've cost her a useful, platonic and professional partnership with a superhero, something that many police officers could only dream of. One slip up, and she could've compromised everything. Maybe she already had.

And yet, no matter how she tried to convince herself otherwise, she didn't regret one moment.

Chapter Text

Bang Bang

Yuri's head was splitting, enough to rival a hangover. Beams of sunlight strayed through the gaps in her blinds and struck her eyes like stingers. The thin membrane-layer of her eyelids provided only a passing protection. There was a terrible pulsing behind her eye sockets, like the rhythmic poundings of a pair of drums. Forehead wrinkling, she groaned and rolled over, seeking shelter under a pillow.

Not to self: Don't drink coffee at 3am.

Now that she was awake, Yuri was recalling the events of last night. It'd only been a few hours ago, so she was capable of reliving it vividly. The episode had even invaded her dreams, though with a subtle, nightmarish twist. Her brain had conjured up a worst-case scenario, concocting a version of the incident that had culminated with the unceremonious end of her career.

She'd kissed Spider-Man, and that was saying it lightly. In the most basic sense, yes, they'd kissed. But besides that they'd done other things, things that could've moved on to worse "things", stuff neither one of them could've taken back if she hadn't put a stop to it when she did. To say that Yuri was distressed over what she'd done was an understatement.

Then why didn't she regret it?

Pushing these thoughts out of her head, Yuri dragged herself out of the warm abode that was her bed. She stumbled to her kitchen, intending to solve the problem of her head pain with an ibuprofen, washed down by a glass of fresh water. For a moment she considered making herself a cup of morning coffee, but that just brought up memories of an iced caramel macchiato left littered by the police station... memories best forgotten, for now. While she waited for the pill to kick in and take effect, Yuri took a long, scalding shower, relishing in the rejuvenating steam. Despite her best efforts, what had happened at 3am bubbled to the top of the stormy sea that was her thoughts, undesired and unbidden. Only once she'd dried off and checked her phone did she realize that she was due at the precinct in fifteen minutes.

"Mother ff-" she whisper-screamed. A toss sent the towel flying, and her toothbrush after it. From that point onwards she scrambled to get ready, determined not to get distracted by any more of those recollections that she wanted so terribly to shove out of sight and out of mind.

BradDavisQB: Silver Sablinova may not be a Disney princess, but she's just as pretty.

Reply from Tanner_T: Dood, she can kick my ass any day.

"Well well everyone, look who's late! The Captain herself-"

"Not. A damn. Word. David," enunciated Yuri with threatening exactness.

That shut David up, but didn't stop the snickers that followed her wherever she went. It was a rarity for the police Captain to come in late for her shifts by even a minute, and as such she was extremely strict when it came to her officers and cadets shirking their work. Course, she couldn't always be perfect, so when she lapsed her coworkers never let it go. They would beat this dead horse, the hypothetical "proof" of her hypocrisy, with a stick for as long as it was amusing.

Her friend Terri greeted her outside her office, "Hey Yuriko. Rough night?"

"Don't. Even-"

Putting her hands up placatingly, Terri immediately interjected, "Yikes hey, sorry. Don't get all ruffled. Just trying to be friendly."

Already feeling repentant, Yuri let out a breath. She strode past the African-American policewoman and slumped in her seat, rubbing at her temples. Every part of her felt tightly wound, on edge, defensive. Terri's innocent comment had triggered something in Yuri, something that made her irrationally suspect that she knew. If it leaked, what she'd done...

"No, I'm sorry, Terri. Didn't mean to be nasty. Just tired. How's your daughter?"

A brightness overcame the features of Officer Terri's face. It was no secret that she adored her daughter, and jumped at any chance to speak about her, always lighting up at any mention of her. "Oh, she's well. She's moving from preschool to kindergarten next year. Kind of nervous about how that'll go."

Yuri waved a hand dismissively. "Oh, I'm sure she'll be fine. Kid's braver than most officers. Tell her I said hi."

"I will," smiled Terri. Before leaving, the dark-skinned officer seemed to scrutinize her Captain. It was probably just worry, Yuri assured herself. Nothing more. "Have a good day, Yuri."

"Yeah... yeah you too..." Yuri returned the gesture distractedly, voice far away.

The door was closed behind Terri, leaving Yuri alone at last. Ruminatively, the police Captain took out Fancy Dan's and the rest of the Enforcers' files and let them flop onto her desk. Not quite knowing what she was looking for, she flipped through them for some time. For some reason their random resurgence had startled her, especially since it had been in such a big way. The Enforcers tended to lay low unless otherwise ordered. Even now with two-thirds of their number back behind bars, she felt uneasy.

Who were they working for? Their oldest known boss was dead, and Fisk was their most recent. Was it Fisk again? A new "Big Man" of crime? Were they working alone? Attempting to stake out a new territory for themselves? Too many questions and no answers. So far Montana and Ox had refused to divulge anything; Yuri resolved to interrogate them personally if one of them didn't squawk. It was worth a shot, anyway.

What she really needed was Spider-Man's aid with this. If anyone knew the Enforcers best, it was him. His experience with the trio of mobsters was rivalled only by Daredevil, another street-level superhero who'd had combative dealings with them in the past. Luckily for her, she had a line to Spider-Man's phone. The bad part was that she would have to actually call the man in order to make contact, and that was something she just wasn't wont or willing to do at present.

Suck it up, Watanabe, Yuri mentally sighed, pulling out her phone from a pocket. Spider-Man picked up on only the third ring. He was out and about, voice strained from the efforts of swinging, the motion of air distorting the speaker. The first thing he said was the last thing Yuriko wanted to hear.

"...Do you want to talk about it?"

"No," she said shortly. The one word was flat, firm, and final, enough to make one of her fledgling cadets flinch. For his part, Spider-Man dropped the topic like a hot potato; or tried to, anyway.

"Ok, sorry. We'll just forget it ever happened then," he rambled tightly, voice a little too cheerful. "Not a problem. I mean, if you didn't like it then what can ya do. We're just incompatible. No idea what came over you or why I went along with it," he took a breath to laugh nervously. "Well, y'know what they say: The best way to get over someone is to get under-"

"Oh my G o d Spider-Man stop-"

"A total mistake, yeah. I'm cool with that. What are we even talking about? Who cares, it never happened. Memory deleted. See, I can do this. It'stotallynothurtfulatall-"

"Please, just shut up for the love of God," groused Yuri, dragging a finger over her left eyelid. She'd done her best to drown him out, to keep her thoughts on-topic. Now she just needed to reign him in. To indulge in analogy, Spider-Man was very much like a horse: a useful tool, but one with an attitude and a will all its own. "I need your help again."

"That's me. Always helpful. Best helper. Whatcha need Cap'n?"

Wow. He was really shaken up by last night. A pin of penitence stabbed at Yuri's gelid heart. "It's Fancy Dan. I'd really like to find him, figure out why the Enforcers are back to doing jobs, and one so reckless, too."

"Yeah, that's kinda been bothering me too. I hate to leave loose ends, so I've been scouring the city for him all morning, surviving on coffee. So far no luck, but it's a big-ass city y'see-"

Impatiently, Yuri interrupted Spider-Man to try and get him back on track. "What can you tell me about the Enforcers? I have their files in front of me but you can only get so much out of a file. Any idea who they could be working for?"

"Not a clue, unless it's Fisk, but they're definitely not doing this alone. There's not enough brains between them to work without a boss, and there's not enough guts between them to do something so bold that it's borderline stupid, unless someone was pulling their leash."

"I figured as much," concurred Yuri, nodding to herself though Spider-Man couldn't see it. What Spider-Man said made sense, but certain things just weren't adding up... "What would Fisk gain from a stunt like that? He's usually smarter with his thugs than this."

"Not to mention he's a huge micro-manager. I don't want to rule out the possibility, and I hate to say it, but I don't think it's him."

"Then who?" pondered Yuri aloud, pressing Spider-Man for more of his thoughts. He wasn't giving her anything substantial, but his insights were still useful. Despite his youthfulness, Spider-Man had a wealth of crime-fighting expertise on his side. He knew these people and how they operated well, better than any psychologist or criminologist. Furthermore, he tended to find out details about crimes way before the police could even get a grasp on what was going on. Yuri called to mind how he'd discerned Mr. Negative's identity far before anyone else, and how he'd known about Devil's Breath while she and her department were still in the dark.

"Someone new, inexperienced with handling subordinates that aren't under his or her direct control. I can't put my finger on it, but the whole thing felt familiar... Like I've recently fought someone who used similar tactics."

"So new, but not so new? Well that narrows it down."

Devilishly dropping his voice into the deep rasp of "Spider-Cop", Spider-Man scolded her, "Don't get sarcastic with me young lady."

An amused Yuri could only snort at him through the phone. "I'm older than you."

"Irrelevant. Anyway, I'll keep combing my memories and the city until I remember something."

"You do that. For now though, let's focus on finding Fancy Dan."

"Wait. You said that the place they were trying to rob, or shakedown, shoot up, or whatever, probably had ties to the Maggia? That rules them out, then."

"Not necessarily; it could be an inter-family squabble, though it's unlikely. The families tend to have rules about this sort of thing, but there's been a gang war brewing between them for a while now."

"How wonderful~" Spider-Man sang with false-sweetness. "Just what we need."

Though she privately agreed, Yuri didn't bother with a reply. Complaining wouldn't get her anywhere closer to her current goals. "I'll read up some more, then call you back."

"I'll be here..."

She did indeed hang up, returning to the search and delving into a sea of mind-numbing information For the next hour she thumbed through her stack of papers or browsed the online copies of the Enforcers' individual criminal records and case files. Maybe she'd missed something...? Most of what she read was old and useless, but there was a small reference in the overall case file about a sighting. A witness statement. It was practically a footnote, but it was all she had, and it just might pay off.

Wasting no time, Yuri dialed and called up Spider-Man once more. This time he took longer to answer, but not too long. Before he could get a smart remark in, she launched into her proposal. He wouldn't like this idea, but if she eased into it, buttered him up, he'd go for it. Spider-Man disliked criminals more than he disliked danger.

"Hey Spider-Man? Y'know how you owe me?"

"Yeah...?" he trilled cautiously, practically wincing through the phone.

"Well I'm calling in a favour. I could use some help in tracking this Fancy Dan guy down, and you are the one that let the worm wriggle away. The only lead I have about his whereabouts is a sighting of the Enforcers outside The Bar With No Name. Problem is, that tip was phoned in three days ago."

"So why bother?"

"Because it's JUST recent enough that another patron might remember something, something they might've said in passing, a place of residence, clues to their motive..."

"Ah, I getcha. So basically you want me to wade through a hornet's nest of criminals that all want to kill me and dig up information because I have a costume and I'm not a cop," said Spider-Man speedily.

Biting her bottom lip, Yuri breathed out, "Basically yes."

"...It's a good thing I like you, Yuri."

Yuri smiled more than she'd ever care to admit.

fadedglory63: Don't you hate it when people litter? Ugh throw your coffee cups in the trash thank you.

Spider-Man was having a hard time keeping his head straight. A sliver of that was due to sleep deprivation, though he was used to operating on as little as three hours of sleep per day, with varying success. The rest of the reason was a result of his 3am meeting with Captain Watanabe. "Meeting" was putting it in mild, PG terms. The two of them had mutually lost their minds a little.

Sometimes Spider-Man could swear that there was still the lingering taste of her on his tongue. He remembered it well, distinct as it was: the succulent combination of coffee and nicotine. Delicious. Sort of. There'd been something else, too, something uniquely Yuri. It was intoxicating.

The whole thing came as quite a shock to him. He'd had no idea that she felt that way, let alone that he felt that way. There'd been no prior inkling, no hint, nothing. Perhaps he was just clueless; his blunders with MJ proved as much. Yuri's reaction was troubling, though. Was it just a fluke? A spur-of-the-moment mistake that he should forget, as Yuri seemed so committed to doing herself? It was probably best to follow in her footsteps, but Spider-Man couldn't help but hope that she just needed time to come around. And the best way to pass that time was doing an errand for his favourite police officer.

"Alright Yuri I'm here. I'll call you if things go sideways," Spider-Man murmured into his mask before hanging up and approaching the bar.

The entrance to The Bar With No Name was unassuming by itself, a simple door on the side of a building facing out into an alleyway. It was surrounded by striking graffiti, but not much more set it apart. The cops knew about it, of course, and so did most superheroes, but the establishment had strict rules. Costumes-only-customers was the first, though that wasn't entirely accurate. Criminals of all shapes, sizes, and statuses gathered here. Though hero-types were technically welcome, they avoided the place like the plague, and for good reason. The second, ironic rule was that this was a place of stalemate, a zone of absolute zero-tolerance for fighting. If you expected to be served here, then you had to put aside past grudges.

After Spider-Man knocked thrice, a horizontal peephole hatch slid open at eye-level with a dry screech. Shrewd eyes stared out, widening at seeing Spider-Man at his doorstep. At first the bouncer didn't speak, but when he'd regained his composure he rasped out, "You again?"

Feeling sheepish, Spider-Man settled for his usual song of appeal in these situations. "Look, I'm not here to cause trouble-"

"All you ever do if cause trouble. You're a walking menace," the bouncer bemoaned.

All at once Spider-Man recognized his voice. This was the door-guard that he last encountered when on a man-hunt for a false Shocker in a stolen costume, many months ago (1). "Carl" was his name, if Spider-Man remembered right. However reluctantly he may have been, the guy had admitted Spider-Man back then, but only after consulting another person behind the door, probably the owner or bartender. Come to think of it, this was the same security guard that he met on the visit before that, too. Boy, was he dedicated to his job.

"Not true!" gasped an exaggeratedly appalled Spider-Man. "I behaved myself last time. What's one little scuffle with the Scorpion out back in the grand scheme of things? Fact of the matter is, Carl, if I really wanted to sabotage your business, I'd have done it already."

"Is that a threat? Because if so you can just forget about coming in."

"Not at all. Like I said earlier, I just wanna talk, no trouble. So help a pal out and let me in before I'm forced to bust down this door?"

"...Promise not to order milk again?"

Bemused at the request, but eager to enter, Spider-Man decided to indulge him. He lifted his hand and solemnly swore, "I promise. Now pleeeaaassse."

"Alright alright keep your tights on," Carl acquiesced with a grumble. Inside Spider-Man could pick up the sounds of multiple locks being turned, one by one, until at last the door creaked open.

Keep calm, keep calm, Spider-Man chanted to himself as he stepped inside. The place was packed tonight, but eerily quiet save for the various television sets scattered across the interior. Lively conversations had halted in their tracks. As usual, Spider-Man felt a multiple of eyeballs fall on him, some hostile, most stunned. A few members of his regular rogues' gallery sized him up. His spider-sense fluttered faintly, but not enough to make him run for the hills. Show no fear. Do this for Yuri.

Waving cheekily, Spider-Man sauntered towards the bar and took an empty stool in front of the fearsome-looking bartender. He drummed his fingers on the counter until the barman was forced to take notice of him. Groaning, he barked at him to ask what he wanted, and Spider-Man ordered a regular ol' house-brewed beer off the tap that he had no real intention of drinking. Out of the corner of his eye, Spider-Man saw Carl exchanging money with a pouting patron. An amused grin tugged at the tips of his lips. It all made sense now. Spider-Man, famous for supposedly being a non-drinker, had been the source of a bet as to what he'd buy.

For the next fifteen minutes Spider-Man did his darnedest to break the ice with as many fellow customers that were receptive to him. He joked, degraded himself, and managed to get a few laughs out of the less frigid crooks. When his beer arrived he even took a few sips to put them at ease. Him pulling up the mask to eat or drink always seemed to surprise people. It made him more easily perceived as human, somehow.

Soon enough he started to broach the subject of the Enforcers. Not all the criminals he spoke to were stupid. They apprehended this line of questioning as his true purpose here, however subtly he tried to go about it. Whether they knew or anything or not, he wasn't getting much out of them. They clammed up and answered cautiously, as if walking on cracked ice. If he were in a different bar, with different rules, and less dangerous regulars, then perhaps he would've just grilled them for the information he needed, or beat it out of their hides if they became violent. His tactics had to be adjusted in this case, though.

His efforts eventually paid off with the arrival of Titania, of all people (2). The massive red-haired villainess was an intimidating sight to say the least, especially when she sat down beside him. Spider-Man had tangled with Titania many a time before, often to bitter ends and ambiguous victors. She was an insanely strong lady that could probably snap him in half, that is, if only she were able to catch him. Encouraged by the silence of his spider-sense, Spider-Man spoke to her.


She ignored him, stealing his beer and saying bluntly, "I hear you're looking for Fancy Dan."

"Oh, thank spider-heaven that someone knows something so that this wasn't all a waste." His mouth clamped shut at the bartender's withering glower. "Oh, sh- did I say that?"

The goliath of a woman downed the rest of his mug in two long draughts, slamming it down on the last slug. Her eyes rolling through the holes of her violet half-mask, Titania told him, "I might know where he and his buddies were staying before they got caught. The big guy, Ox, he hit on me. Gave me an address. Might've taken him up on it if he hadn't made a total fool of himself halfway through the conversation."

"Why would you help me?"

"Because I'm a vindictive bitch that likes to watch people burn for the sake of it. Also I think you're cute."

"...That's fair. Wait, time out. I thought you hated me?" asked Spider-Man, genuinely surprised, flattered, and terrified all at the same time. A loud snort escaped her at the same time as a smile crept onto her partially-masked face.

"Oh, that too. I also expect you to buy me another drink for this."

Michelle_W: Some species of spiders dance to serenade their mates. Figure that Spider-Man does the same?

Reply from MACinTosh: Why would you even ask that tho

Reply from SpiderNerdArmy: Because it sounds sexy. Omg. Idea for my self-insert Spider-Man fanfiction, anyone?


It figured that Spider-Man would meet with trouble the moment he took his leave of the bar. To the increasing vibrations of his spider-sense, a group of three young thugs had followed him out with the intent to jump him. They had no idea yet, but they'd bitten off way more than they could chew, and Spider-Man had no qualms on educating them on that fact.

"Hey boys," he sighed, turning to face them and dragging his feet as he did so, as if the very act was tiring to him. Years of putting away cocky, two-bit criminals had hardened Spider-Man's adrenal glands. Encounters with perps like these barely got a rise out of him anymore. Already he was bored to tears. "Can we not do this? I have ballet practice in ten and I'm already going to be late."

"Sorry Spidey," grunted the skinny guy in the lead, drawing a gun from his jacket. "You'll just have to dance with us."

"Nice banter bud, but ya might want to see a therapist about those violent tendencies of yours."

Faster than the human eye could track, Spider-Man sent out a thick string of silk from his webshooters. Upon connecting with the barrel, he flicked his wrist and casually yanked the weapon away, smashing it into pieces against a brick wall. A double-tap of that same webshooter sent a glob of impact-webbing at the would-be assailant, pinning him to a trash bin with a wild yell. His comrades backed up, but to their credit didn't flee.

One of them in a black beanie tried to rush Spider-Man with a knife, but he saw it coming from a mile away. Time seemed to slow down with the tingling of his spider-sense. He was viewing everything in fine focus, senses heightened at the approach of danger. With many a moment to spare, Spider-Man back-flipped over Beanie and kicked him in the small of his back upon his descent. The guy went flying, Spider-Man gracefully falling into a spry crouch not far away.

From that position, Spider-Man narrowed his angular lenses at the last man. He too had a pistol, pointed directly at Spider-Man. His grip was jittery, and sweat dripped down his forehead. Judging from the shriek of his spider-sense, the dude had his finger on the trigger. Spider-Man could almost imagine the quivering bullet about to blow from the tiny barrel, but he was nonplussed. To him, these encounters were like slow-motion dances; he was beyond them, beyond human.

He was preparing to repeat the previous move he'd used of webbing the guy's gun away when the shape of a person appeared behind the thug. She had black hair and a black jacket, face mostly encased by shadows cast by the alley's surrounding structures. There was a faint click, one that Spider-Man knew to be that of a firearm's safety mechanism switching off. The man stiffened into a statue and dropped his inferior firearm, spine instinctively arching away from the nudge of a Glock 17.

"Back. Off," Yuri grunted. The gun was lifted, as though about to be brutally bashed into the man's skull, but there was no need. As soon as the weight of the gun against his back was alleviated, she promptly sent the poor guy racing away, probably with soiled pants from so close a brush with death. Spider-Man watched him go, whistling lowly as he stood.

"Thatta girl. I totally had him, though."

"Save it. Just please tell me you dug up something worthwhile."

Chapter Text

I Fought the Law

Over the course of her career, Yuri Watanabe had seen many strange things, but none were quite like the sight of Spider-Man buckled up in her passenger seat. Seated instead of perched, he played with his window, pressing the button to roll it up and down as they drove. Ironically enough, the more normal he acted, the odder he appeared. It was all Yuri could do to keep her eyes on the road. She was having a hard time of it; her gaze kept incessantly drifting across the dash to her colourfully-dressed passenger.

"Please, stop that."

"Sorry," he squeaked, jerking his hand away from the window's controls as if they were a hot stove. It was left open. "Where are we going again? Are you taking me on a hot date?"

Gripping the wheel with white knuckles, Yuri retorted grimly, "Try the rental you told me about. We can't waste any time. If Fancy Dan hasn't already left, then he could at any moment, taking valuable evidence with him."

"A hot date with justice, then," Spider-Man mused, much to Yuri's good-natured exasperation.

"Whatever you want to call it. I can't wait for a warrant. By the time I get my hands on one, there might not be anything left to investigate. You, though, you don't need one. You're outside the law. You could slip in, catch Dan Brito with his pants down-"

"Hopefully not that-"

"-And nobody would know the difference."

"Isn't it kind of shady that you, as a police officer, are advising me, a vigilante, to break the law and illegally enter someone's property?"

"Do I look like I give a shit? You do it all the damn time. No one will know the difference."

"Yeah but Yuri, your principles," Spider-Man begged her bewailingly. "Think of your principles. I had no idea you were such a bad girl. I mean, yes you wear black leather- Y'know what, I'm just going to uh, stop talking. Shutting up now. Quick question: why not just let me swing us there?"

Yuri shot him with a withering stare that put a swift end to his motormouth tendencies, for the time being. The truth was, she didn't want to swing with him. Ever. The way he traversed town wasn't natural. Just because she could fly a helicopter, didn't mean that she wasn't slightly scared of heights. There was a big difference between a stable helicopter and a roller coaster, and from what she'd seen of Spider-Man's aerial acrobatics, any ride he would give would lean towards the latter. Not to mention, he'd have to have his arms around her, and that was just a no-go if she wanted to keep up this platonic professionalism, however much of a facade it now was. Normally she might've let him swing there by himself, but she wanted to keep up and come along, since this was her case. A fragment of her also wanted to keep him close for as long as possible, to watch over him, though she'd never admit it aloud.

"We're here," she announced, parking down the street from a beaten-down apartment building. "Go in, keep quiet, beat up Brito if you see him, let me know if you find anything useful."

"OK Boss." Saluting her, Spider-Man hopped out and leaned against her empty window. He might've been about to say something, but Yuri beat him to it, a playful lilt to her speech.

"I hope you realize you look like a prostitute right now."

White lenses wider than dinner-plates, the arachnid-themed hero slowly backed away from the vehicle, hands raised. She did her best to keep a straight face, forehead wrinkled and mouth set in a scathing line. God, it was great to catch him off guard for once, and it came with the bonus of seeing him shy and blessedly silent. For a moment Spider-Man was so flustered he was speechless, but his next words were enough to make Yuri mad all over again.

"Does that mean you'll be taking me in, Officer~?"



TooCootTanya: I made a gif of Spider-Man snoozing on the side of a skyscraper -embedded image-

Reply from GoGet'ER: I never knew I needed this until now.

Reply from ESUBoo: How does he even stay up there and sleep at the same time.

Reply from Bob_Gonzales: It's like a cat. They'll sleep anywhere.

He wasn't about to go through the front door, especially since this was supposed to be secretive, so Spider-Man made do with a window up on the top floor. It was open only a crack, but that was enough. With his wall-crawling ability, Spider-Man was easily able to grip it one-handed and slide it up the rest of the way.

Inside, it was dim and dark. Almost all of the lights were off, save for a few scattered bulbs left on, strangely enough. Nearby, a thin line of light penetrated through the crack of a bathroom door. Resisting the urge to cater to his Aunt-May-raised manners and sensibilities, Spider-Man opened the door without knocking. He also didn't capitulate to the urge to kick it in, which would be against his better judgment should Fancy Dan hear him elsewhere in the building. His lenses squinted at the brightly-lit lavatory. Nothing and no one, thank God, because Spider-Man did not want to catch the crook on the can if he could help it.

After searching the entirety of that floor from top to bottom, Spider-Man breezed down to the next level. He stuck to the walls and ceiling, staying sneaky and keeping his eyes and ears open for any disturbances that could indicate the presence of a person. Downstairs, two more sets of lights were left on: a living room lamp and the kitchen track lighting. Once more, no one. There were scattered personal articles on the counter, random clothing tossed on the couch, and coffee cup in cracked pieces on the linoleum. Spider-Man felt slightly sheepish when he noted that the front door was unlocked as well.

The guy is long gone, Spider-Man hypothesized, not totally surprised. Must've known to jump residences as soon as the police took in his buddies. He was in such a hurry that he didn't even have the time to turn the lights off.

His thoughts were put on hold when Yuri contacted him. Something about her voice made him warm inside, even when she was terse, like now. "What's it look like in there Spider-Man?"

"Our boy Dan was in a rush to skedaddle," said Spider-Man, thumb touching a pile of photographs. They were primarily of the three Enforcers in front of numerous New York landmarks, each with phoney facial hair, and each younger in appearance. For a coterie of cutthroat criminals, they were oddly chummy with each other. A few of the photos looked downright friendly. "Some lights are still switched on... Tried to clean up before he went but it was a sloppy job. Might find something leftover that we can trace."

"Copy that. Keep me posted."

"OK. I'm feeling a severe sneeze coming on-"

"Without wasting my time," she said sternly, but at the same time fondly. For some reason this soured Spider-Man's mood. Their 3am stunt had turned the status quo utterly on its head. What he would've once perceived as cordial could now be construed as something more, something deeper, if not for her coy avoidance of the core "issue". Unintentionally or not, Yuri was playing with his emotions.

"There you go again."

Yuri spoke sharply, "Doing what?"

"It's nothing."

Not about to let him back out of his hasty remark, Yuri pursued the matter with a doggedness usually reserved for criminals. "Pretty sure it's something. Spit it out if you have a problem."

"We'll talk later," Spider-Man compromised, an eyebrow twitching under his mask.

"Fine by me," finished the policewoman shortly before signing off.

Heaving a sigh, Spider-Man meandered through the main rooms, pawing through any items he came across. Pausing as he passed by the fireplace, he noticed some scattered, smouldering pieces of paper with printed text on them. His eyes narrowed, and in turn his ever-helpful lenses automatically zoomed in in concordance. Through the ash, he could just barely make out two characters: "B5". For a while this stupefied Spider-Man. Whatever these papers were, they must've been important if Fancy Dan took the time to burn them in his frenzied evacuation. He started to notice recurring characters on the torn shreds. "B5" came up twice, and "Boarding P-" was distinguishable on one of the larger chunks, and then suddenly it clicked.

That sounds like an airport gate number, Spider-Man realized. Score. These must've been self-printed tickets belonging to Fancy Dan's fellow enforcers. Now, Dan only needed one.

Some further digging pulled up even more charred fragments that Spider-Man was able to analyze with the computer system inbuilt into his suit. Most were of little use, but occasionally Peter would come across a gem that would reveal one more tidbit to the overall puzzle. "FEB" was probably February, and the departure time was obvious enough... or was that a boarding time? Projected arrival? There was nothing remaining on a specific airline, flight number, an alias, or any other identifying information, but it was better than nothing. Spider-Man connected with Yuri to relay the good news.

"They were planning on skipping town. Brito tried to dispose of his buddies' plane tickets in case they were found, but he didn't stick around long enough to make sure they completely caught fire. I've got a rough date and departure time, and maybe part of a boarding gate, but that's it. No destination. Sorry, it's not much, but it's all I have."

"That's plenty. Send me what you have and I'll try to narrow down a terminal from there."

"One problem: if Fancy Dan is going to go through with it, then his plane flies tomorrow."

StephLovesBirds: Spidey got in the way of my camera just when I was about to snap a picture of a male Tufted Titmouse :( Now all I have is this picture of Spider-Man.

Reply from 2much2handle: Why are you the way that you are.

John F. Kennedy International Airport. One of the biggest and busiest commercial airfields in the world, and at the moment, Spider-Man's place of perch. Hordes of preoccupied people hurried by beneath him, completely absorbed in their own business, whether it be catching their next flight or leaving the last one. High up on the ceiling, hidden in a corner, Spider-Man munched on some Cheetos. He dutifully did his best to make sure no cheese dust drifted down to irritate the eyes and noses of those below.

From the time he was fifteen, Spider-Man had learned early on that people seldom looked up, and today was no exception. Spider-Man had two secret advantages, though, that aided in his attempt at stealth. For one, his spider-sense was invaluable in detecting others' eyes on him. The uncanny sixth sense had saved his secret identity more than once, stopping him from changing into or out of his costume when someone was watching. Furthermore, he'd imported a stealth function from a different suit into his regular, street one. It didn't exactly render him invisible, but it was a useful camouflage feature nonetheless. The only downside was that it worked well for bursts before shorting out periodically, not to mention its interference with his other gadgets. Peter had tampered with it beforehand in order to troubleshoot the problem, but every now and then he sporadically flickered into view. Luckily, only a five or so year-old girl had noticed him thus far, and her parents had been the dismissive sort.

Yuri really couldn't spare any more men for a speculative, off-the-books job like this, so it was almost entirely up to Spider-Man. They'd decided to discreetly stake out JFK airport, since it was the most likely place and the only site Yuri could afford to put under surveillance without spreading her forces too thin. It was a gamble, but one Yuri seemed confident in. The problem with JFK, though, were the crowds. A criminal in disguise could easily blend in with the people and completely pass the police or cameras by. Fortunately, they also had Spider-Man as a lookout.

It turned out that there was no such thing as a "B5" gate, but the airport had a variety of gates that started with "B5" in Terminal 4, which was where the majority of Yuri's men lurked, undercover and uniformed alike. To complicate matters, there were multiple flights set to board or depart at 12:55. Spider-Man had a good feeling about B55, so that was where he took the liberty of posting himself. This was like finding a needle in a haystack. Frankly, it'd be a miracle if they found him. The only saving grace was that Yuri had used her authority to secretly suspend all flights departing at 12:55 for at least an hour until Fancy Dan was found. With only mere suspicion and the word of a vigilante to back her up, there wasn't much more she could do. Of course, none of the passengers knew that, and if they didn't find Dan soon then the airport employees would have some rowdy customers on their hands.

Yawning, Spider-Man crumpled the empty Cheetos bag into a ball and expertly launched the projectile at a garbage bin. It sailed through the air and slammed into the bottom of the bin, colliding loudly with the rest of the trash. A guy lurking nearby nearly jumped out of his skin and dropped his phone, eyes darting around wildly. In addition to his muted "perfect throw, ten points", Spider-Man afforded the man a muffled "sorry" from above. Spider-Man saw him speed-walk away from that spot as if the trash can were haunted, eyes wide as saucers.

"All clear, Yuri?" the wall-crawler asked the police Captain.

"I'll let you know if I or my men see him. Now stop talking to me."

Though Spider-Man complied with her request for the moment, he knew that after all this was over, they would have words, whether she liked it or not. It was necessary.

"Wait," Spider-Man said, sitting forward. His spider-sense had gone off, not by much, but in the way that usually alerted him to a proximity with previously-encountered enemies. Aside from allowing him to dodge bullets, his spider-sense was also handy for detecting hostiles to an extent. The ability was strangely sophisticated in this degree, sometimes ranging beyond the range of normal science to border on the psychic.


"Shhh. He's close. I can't see him yet, but- there. Got him. He's across from me, just coming out of the washroom. Should I nab him?"

"Let my officers try first. They need the exercise."

"Fiiiiiine," he whined.

The police were swift to respond to Yuri's instructions. Spider-Man attentively observed two men approach Fancy Dan, one out of uniform, and one out. At seeing the uniformed officer, Fancy Dan visibly stiffened, changing his direction on a dime. Though he tried to act cool and play it off, the policeman had sped up. In his panic, Dan ran directly into the arms of the disguised cop, who seized him by the coat.

"GET DOWN-AGGH!" the civvies cop shouted, ironically going down himself when Dan flipped him over his head. The second cop drew his baton and advanced on him, wisely keeping his gun in its holster for now. Screams broke out from nearby bystanders as Fancy Dan fled, shoving people aside whenever they crossed his path. Unfortunately for him, more cops were already converging. Spider-Man kept to the roof, never letting his prey out of his sight.

Even if the Enforcers weren't the sharpest knives in the cutting block, they made up for it with street smarts and skill, and Daniel Brito was no exception. Alone and separated from his companions as he was, Fancy Dan was nevertheless a formidable human opponent. He evaded his pursuers with ease, repeatedly ducking behind crowds and out of sight to confuse them. Whenever one would get too close, Fancy Dan would give a nifty little judo demonstration that always ended with a winded and dazed officer on the floor. Letting bullets fly in so public and packed a setting was not an option, so the officers had to settle for chasing him on foot. Spider-Man wished they had a K9 unit on the scene. That would've been hilarious.

From his high vantage point Spider-Man could track Fancy Dan's trajectory. He was headed for an emergency exit, desperation driving him to new speeds. At one point it looked like the police were about to catch him, but Spider-Man didn't want to take that chance. He was sick of sitting on the sidelines. Letting his concealment drop, the web-slinger leapt at Fancy Dan, firing multiple webs at the man's feet. Remarkably, Fancy Dan managed to dodge, though not without tripping.

"Nice face-plant!" Spider-Man complimented him on his descent.

The superhero landed in a crouch a few feet away, mentally drowning out the gasps of those around him. It was go time. The two men squared off against each other. Fancy Dan had no chance under these circumstances, and Spider-Man could see it in his face. A defiant snarl in place, the mobster sprang at Spider-Man, who in turn moved out of the way, bemused at his opponent's recklessness. His confusion was cleared up when Fancy Dan kept on running past Spider-Man, taking full advantage of the freed space.

"Where do you think you're going?" dramatically gasped Spider-Man, whisking out a web which connected with Fancy Dan's ankle. After casually anchoring himself, he yanked the criminal's feet out from under him. "Is this a sign that you don't like me?!"


"OWCH. AND I THOUGHT THE COUPLE'S THERAPY WORKED WITH US. WELL I GUESS I READ THINGS WRO-damn it," sighed Spidey. While he'd been running his mouth, Fancy Dan had gotten up again. He'd moved into a cluster of civilians, which ruled out using any more gadgets in case one should hit the wrong person.

Taking a breath, Spider-Man started to wade through the throngs of stumped, scared, and amazed people. Most parted for him, but in his impatience Spider-Man couldn't avoid accidentally pushing against a few people. A few "Excuse me"s, "pardon me"s, and "coming through"s helped soothe the bruised egos of some of the travellers. Hey, it wasn't every day that New York's local web-head bumped into you, then apologized for it to boot. He may have felt a few hands on his ass, but like someone blocking out trauma, Spider-Man just convinced himself that it didn't happen.

It didn't take long for Fancy Dan to come back into view, this time with a child hostage but no weapon. Regardless, that didn't do anything to lower Spider-Man's stress hormones at all. Fancy Dan was more than capable of snapping a child's neck if push came to shove. The little girl whimpered, legs swinging. Not a single joke came to Spider-Man's mind to break the tension. The game had changed, and the stakes had been raised.

"Don't you dare, Dan," Spider-Man warned him, tone unusually serious. "Just set her down."

"I just want to leave! Why can't you just let me leave!"

"That's not how this works, Dan. You're a wanted criminal, and then you had to go and do a high profile robbery to get back on the radar. There is no situation where this ends well for you, so just give yourself up."

"If I don't get out of state, they'll find me. I've already screwed up beyond repair."

Spider-Man blinked. Was Fancy Dan... actually pleading with him? This was the most civil he'd sounded towards the superhero since... ever.

"Look, if someone is after you, then the police can protect you."

"No, no they can't. Please. Just let me walk away."

"Not with that girl."

"I'll drop her off once I get on a plane. No tricks, and I promise she won't be harmed."

A third, feminine voice suddenly joined their conversation. "Can you hurt her faster than I can put a bullet in your head?" Yuri stepped forward, gun trained directly on Dan. The mobster spat on the ground and responded by tightening his elbow around the hostage's neck in a potent warning. She squealed, legs kicking faster. The initial surge of triumph that Spider-Man felt at Yuri's appearance was blocked out by numbness. Spider-Man's mind stopped working, quit its fretting over particulars. Forget about having her neck broken, she might suffocate while they were busy negotiating, and Dan wouldn't notice a damn thing. If she wasn't saved soon, and if something went wrong...

No more delays. It was time to act, now.

Fast enough to be a blur, Spider-Man webbed Fancy Dan's face, pulling his head forward and propelling himself towards the blinded man at the same time. Before he could properly react, Spider-Man's knee rammed itself into his nose and eyes. Something cracked, likely his nose. Immediately the concussed man's legs went limp. The girl dropped at the same time as Dan, but Spider-Man caught her one-armed under her torso, then, when he was standing steady, he hefted her up to his chest.

Sniffling, she clung to him, and Spider-Man awkwardly patted her back. Having hid her head in his neck and behind her dark curls, Spider-Man could only speak to her soothingly. The mask was probably a spooky sight up close for a child. Shakes wracked her little body, and cheers erupted to replace the stunned silences and startled screams.

Nathaniel_Copeland: Anyone else see those airport pics? #Spiderdad

"We finally found the Mom. Poor woman. Lost her kid only for her to get snatched up by a crook."

Forgetting that Yuri couldn't see him, Spider-Man nodded. No words were really necessary. He didn't need to pat himself on the back in this case. Down below, Fancy Dan was being loaded up into a police cruiser in the absence of an ambulance. The arrested man seemed physically fine, though he stumbled quite a bit. Spider-Man was a silent spectator, shifting his weight atop the airport. Although he took some satisfaction in seeing the final Enforcer in custody, he couldn't help but berate himself for how much of a gong show the affair had turned into. He just hoped that Yuri wouldn't be disciplined by superiors for any of this.

At his lack of response, Yuri said in mild praise, "You did good back there. I guess I should apologize for escalating everything..."

"It was a smart move," Spider-Man assured her. "Would've probably worked, but I just... I dunno, kids getting hurt always makes me lose my shit a little."

"I was bluffing," admitted Yuri. "I wanted him alive, and shooting him with a human shield so close by... Well, anyways, at least we got him, and no one was hurt except him. That's all that matters."

Spider-Man swallowed, gathering the courage to stop stalling. "Listen, Yuri..."

"Here it comes," murmured a defeated Yuri on the other side of the phone, steeling herself for the inevitable. He could never be sure if she wanted him to hear that or not.

Speaking carefully, Spider-Man continued, "We should really talk."

Silence, and then, "Yeah... Yeah, we should."

Spider-Man was pleasantly surprised that she hadn't simply hung up on him. There was no pussyfooting, either, just acceptance. He had no idea if this sudden complacence was a good or bad change, but it was progress nonetheless. "Same place same time?"

"God no. I'd like to get a decent night's sleep if at all possible. Midnight. See you then."

Chapter Text

12:22am, and still no sign of Spider-Man.

Yuri yawned into a hand, twisting her foot into the ground and then scuffing it with her boot. Her left leg had fallen asleep, but the pins-and-needles sensation served to keep her awake while she waited. Under her idle movements she was roiling with concealed emotion. Equal amounts of fear, dread, and excitement for the coming encounter clawed at her insides. She had no doubt that Spider-Man would show up. He always did. Her anxiety stemmed from what she knew she had to say to him, and how he might take it. Would she be able to say it? Would he accept it? Or had she permanently marred their relationship because of one, momentarily lapse of judgment.

"Sorry I'm late," said a breathless voice behind her, a voice that Yuri knew to be Spider-Man's. She stepped away from the railing to turn to the source. Said source was standing atop the rooftop access structure, looking appropriately apologetic in spite of the mask.

Nimble as a deer, Spider-Man hopped down from the stairway bulkhead and approached her. His explanation followed soon after. "I got held up. Car chase. You know how it is."

She did know how it was, so there were no hard feelings. That didn't stop her from sounding strained when she spoke, though. "It's fine..."

Immediately picking up on how forced this exchange felt, Spider-Man tilted his head. Under different circumstances, Yuri might've laughed a little at that. He looked like a dog, adorable and dubious. Unlike a dog, however, this man hurried her heart and heated up her skin. She'd always found him attractive, but only recently had she let that get to her. Something had changed since then, something that made her resistance less. Though her walls still held their ground, they were weakened. Spider-Man moved his mask to crack a nervous smile at her, and another crack raced up her walls.

"So..." he cleared his throat, as awkward as her. "Right. Um. Talk..."

"It was a mistake," Yuri told him before she could lose her nerve. For a half-second she saw him reel back as if hurt. Her tone left no room for questioning or argument, but Spider-Man tried anyways.

"Sometimes the best things in the world start as mistakes."

She snorted at his desperation, but decided to indulge him. "Like what?"

"Popsicles, for example," he put out, scratching an arm. Blinking, Yuri digested this in silence.

"...Huh. Really?"

Having caught her attention, though for the wrong reason, Spider-Man brightened. Already regretting her response, Yuri rested against the railing as Spider-Man entered into a giddy explanation. "Oh, yeah. Frank Epperson? He was trying to make a new beverage. 'Accidentally froze them on the back porch with the stirring sticks still in there. From the first lick, it was fate."

"OK, sure, that one mistake turned out to be-"

"-Delicious-" Spider-Man offered as helpfully as possible. What he got in return was a roll of the eyes.

"-Sure. But frozen treats do not equate with... whatever that was two nights ago."

"A kiss. Let's not beat around the bush. You kissed me."

The word entering her ears was enough to put Yuri in a paralyzing panic. She couldn't do this. Not again. Work was what made her happy. It was the only thing in this world that was steady and sure, that kept her satisfied with her place and purpose. Sure, people came and went, but crime would always be around, and that meant that there would always be something for her to do, a way for her to function that never failed to make her feel fulfilled. Relationships were not quite so reliable.

Spider-Man was worst than most men, too. He was an uncontrolled variable, a person with spider-powers that swung and flew through the city on strands of silk, for God's sake. Despite the fact that he generally did more harm than good, Yuri couldn't deny that he caused chaos wherever he went. He was a wildcard, someone who dabbled with danger and played with the law like a child with putty. Working with him was one thing, but committing, even for a moment, was a risk that Yuri wasn't willing to take.

"Stop. Don't say it."

Defiantly, he repeated it, taking a step in her direction. "A kiss."

Indignation sparked in her breast, and before she could take the words back they were pouring out her mouth in an induced rage. It was a waterfall of repressed hurt that she couldn't stop, a hurt so deep that it came across as hate. "Stop that! So what, I kissed you. Whoop-de-doo. Don't think you're so special," she said scathingly, sarcastically. "I've been with dozens of people, and kissed more than that, and do you know what? It never. Works."

"It could work," Spider-Man murmured quietly. "If you just gave it a chance. You won't know until you try."

"What? Try again? With you? Please."

Provoked into defensiveness, Spider-Man snapped back with another forwards step, "You don't even know me."

Sensing her progress, she pounced on his statement and twisted it against him. "Exactly. I don't know you. You're a madman in a mask, a truck with no brakes that I try to steer in the right direction for the good of the city. I kissed you because I couldn't help myself, because I was lonely, hormonal, dumb. Because I was wrong."

"So that's all I am to you, then? A dog to be called upon when it's suitable or convenient?" he choked out, coming closer still.

All of the sudden Yuri's resolve was whisked out the window. He sounded so betrayed, ego battered, feelings bruised, voice broken. To know that she was behind that injury was enough to stop her in her tracks and put her mission of deterring him on the back-burner. She had to make this right. Just because they couldn't be a thing, didn't mean that she had to drive him away completely. The truth bubbled to the top of her throat and burst out her lips. "No, no you're not just that."

Only now did Yuri comprehend how close they were to each other. Over the course of their heated conversation, the gap between them had shrunk stride-by-stride. Spider-Man licked his exposed lips and leaned lower, almost timidly. "Then prove it." His head hovered near hers, half-parted lips like an open offering. It was like he was testing the waters, seeing what she'd do. Yuri quickly caved to the invitation.

They locked lips for a second time, and this time there was no going back. In contrast to their last encounter of this kind, the kiss was more quiet, more intimate. They were curious of each other, eager to explore but apprehensive at the same time. Yuri encircled an arm around his shoulders, standing on her tip-toes to further minimize their nearly-equal height difference. Pressed together, they melted, melded, and lost themselves in the creation of a single being. His heart fluttered in his firm chest like a frightened bird, one she could feel from their close proximity.

It wasn't enough. Yuri needed more. She tugged insistently on the shirt-portion of his suit, wishing she could feel his skin or run her fingers through his hair... assuming he even had hair. The mask was a barrier, an obstacle that absolutely needed to be abolished. An urge to see his face guided her hands to the mask. This time it was him who shied away, jerking back like a spooked beast.

"Sorry," he whispered, sounding not just sheepish but genuinely apologetic.

He wasn't nearly as sorry as she was. The moment was mostly past, now. She'd spoiled it, scared him off by being too direct. That aside, the air between them was permanently altered. There was a newfound knowledge there, a comfortableness reserved for couples. The last time Yuri had experienced it was with her ex, at the height of their attachment. She felt more than confident in hugging him, breathing back, "It's OK."

New York City was a perpetually restless region, even at night, but from above Yuri could almost pretend that they were the only ones in the world. Traffic went by and the Earth still turned, but they were a pair of statues, arms locked around each other like stone, as permanent as the stars. She couldn't remember the last time she'd indulged in such girlish, romantic thoughts. It was nice. Just then, the illusion was broken by the blare of bullets being fired.

Torn between staying with her and investigating, Spider-Man drew back with a hushed whine. Yuri saved him the choice by saying, "Go, and don't you dare get distracted."

Without another word, he flung himself off the edge of the building. Yuri watched, awed as he pulled himself to a water tower and launched himself off from it with blinding speed and force. When he was out of sight, she started to head back inside the station. It wasn't long afterwards that Spider-Man called her, doing away with a greeting in favour of a question.

"Can I see you again tomorrow?"

"I'm interrogating Brito, personally, since he hasn't been very forthcoming since we arrested him," she told him. If you want something done right, you have to do it yourself... "That might be because of the mild concussion, though."

"Heh... sorry about that. Mind if I tag along? Maybe I can help. He almost let something slip to me back at the airport, after all. Guy seemed desperate."

"Maybe. We're keeping him in a holding cell at the station for now. If you can be here at 9am sharp..."

"I'll be there," he promised before ending the call.

Smiling, Yuri went to her office to gather up her things. Her movements were distracted and wandering, and she dropped her chapstick more than once. It wasn't exactly a date, or anything remotely romantic, but she was already giddy at the prospect of seeing him again. 9am sharp...

QueennGiorgia: Felt Spidey's buns at JFK. Can confirm they are as firm as they look. Spider-Dad? More like #spiderdaddy

Reply from NYCWallCrawler: Delete this

Her fellow cops didn't outright question her when Spider-Man showed up at the precinct, but they didn't need to. Their faces said it all. Lieutenant Drake's jaw dropped as the superhero crossed the floor, the secretary stared with wide eyes, and a criminal in cuffs cringed in a chair when Spider-Man gave the guy a little wave. As neutral-faced as possible, Yuri received him politely and guided him to the interrogation room. The stares didn't stop there, but she did her best to disregard them. Spider-Man, on the other hand, had no problem with making friendly gestures to every person he came across in the halls. Soft giggles indicated to Yuri that he was taking a certain pleasure in their reactions.

Once they rounded a corner and were out of sight, Yuri slapped Spider-Man's shoulder scoldingly. "Ow!" he cried, fake-sniffling in order to elicit sympathy. Yuri wasn't fooled or impressed. She was well aware of how tough Spider-Man was, and guessed correctly that her hardy thwack was probably more of a love-tap to him. Drama Queen...

Lowering her eyebrows, she said, "Behave, and try not to draw too much attention. Most of my men are sympathetic to you, but don't try your luck too much."

"Kay boss, you're the boss."

"Also, try to take this seriously..."

Out of nowhere, he pecked her cheek through the mask, and Yuri barely recovered before she could blush. "'Course," Spider-Man chirped. "I always take these things seriously. Ooh, can I be bad cop?" At a frown from Yuri, Spider-Man floundered fast to remedy his mistake. "OK OK. Me play good cop, you bad cop. I got this."

Giving him a stern, parting look, Yuri opened the thick door to the interrogation room. It was a small and cramped space, lit by a single, bright light in the centre of the ceiling. There was a cold metal table to which a seated Fancy Dan was cuffed and chained, and a few spinning chairs for interrogators. A dark blue bruise decorated the martial artist's face, concentrated in colour around his crooked nose. Fancy Dan shifted in his floor-locked chair, uneasy at the sight of them, especially Spider-Man.

"What the shit is he doing here?"

"He's here to help me. Is that a problem?" Yuri challenged dully.

"'Sup?" said Spider-Man, sitting down backwards on one of the rotating chairs. "Listen, sorry about your nose. Can I get you coffee?"

Taken aback by the friendliness directed at him, Fancy Dan scooted back as far as he was able. His eyes narrowed in suspicion. "No..."

"You're actually turning down coffee? Wow. Are you a tea kind of person? You don't look like a tea-dude but hey, appearances can be deceiving," Spider-Man continued conversationally.

The crook shook his head and said unconvincingly, "I'm just not thirsty." Spider-Man replied to the gesture with a shrug and a simple "Mmmk."

Ever the impatient one, Yuri slammed a file down onto the table. Brito didn't flinch, but he did blink and eye her guardedly. She stayed standing as she spoke, utilizing perceived size as an intimidation tactic. "Let's get straight to the point, Daniel. You know why we're here. We need to know who you and the Enforcers were working for."

"It's just like I told those other pigs: you're not getting anything out of me."

His reply was more-or-less what she'd been expecting. Any other response would've been a pleasant surprise. Truthfully, Yuri was rusty in her interrogation techniques, and she was never the most talented at it to begin with. However, browbeating displays and the direct approach tended to work for her most of the time. Under all that bravado, even the most hardened criminals were cowards more often than not.

"We don't have any time for bullshit. If there is a new punk on the block willing to pick a fight with the Maggia, then it's in your best interest to come clean so we can protect you."

"The only way you can protect me is by letting me go or letting me keep my peace," grumbled Brito, eyes subtly darting to different points of the room, from corners to the table. He was definitely on-edge, and ripe for disclosure if pushed right. If only she could crack him... Wetting his lips, Brito added, "I-I'd like that coffee, now."

JazminelikesJazz: Thank you to NYCWallCrawler for saving my daughter's life the other day! Jess is a huge Spider-Man fan now, and I'm sure she'll tell her grandkids the story one day!

Whistling, Spider-Man returned to the interrogation room, juggling to hold three coffees. It was times like these that having sticky fingers really came in handy. Ha. He had some trouble with the doorknob, but after fumbling with it a bit he managed to get the door open. Fancy Dan and Yuri were right where he left them, the former lifting her head upon his entrance so that their eyes met.

The effect was immediate. He flushed under his mask, a tingling feeling flowing from the tip of his nose to his toes. Every part of his body buzzed, like every nerve and limb had been dead before, and only now had they come alive at last. Spider-Man didn't know what he and Yuri were, but he knew it wasn't friends. Not anymore. The pain of Mary Jane's abrupt departure from his life felt faraway and distant, and coping suddenly seemed all the more plausible.

Casual-like, Spider-Man distributed the cups. Naturally he kept one for himself, but hardly drank any actual coffee. Just from the smell he knew that the station's coffee machine was nowhere near Starbucks' level, but that didn't seem to bother Dan, for whom it sufficed. Guzzling on the crappy coffee, the mobster shrank back into his seat, movements jittery.

"Better?" asked Spider-Man gently.

"No," Dan admitted lowly. There was sweat dripping down his face and a stain on the collar of his shirt. Oddly enough, Spider-Man thought that the room was rather chilly, himself. "Can someone turn the damn heat down?"

"No," Yuri retorted as he had done, her eyes hard, black coals. "Enough stalling, Dan. Here are the facts: I can't give you a deal for leniency if you don't give me something, and soon. This is a time-sensitive matter. We already have a suspect in mind, so if you don't croak..."

Spider-Man stopped himself from asking, "We do?", mouth closing under the mask. It was becoming obvious to him now that Yuri was bluffing in an effort to prompt Fancy Dan into being talkative. He let her lie play out, only nodding occasionally to supplement its believability. Fancy Dan fidgeted all the while, evidence that the ploy was working. Yuri was manipulating him masterfully.

"Ox clammed up, but Montana has already agreed to cooperate. 'Thing is, we don't know if he's lying or not. If your confession matches up with his, then we'll know for sure."

"...Are they... are they O-OK?"

The concern in Fancy Dan's inquiry startled and moved Spider-Man. It was almost like he actually cared, and maybe he did. Those three had been together through thick and thin, so it wasn't inconceivable that there was an actual bond there. Taking the floor, Spider-Man reassured him, "They're fine, Fancy. Don't worry."

Half to himself, Fancy Dan stuttered out a justification. "I d-didn't mean to leave them, but, sh-shit..."

"Hey, it's OK. I'm sure they understand and would've done the same if they were in your shoes," he paused, surveying Fancy Dan as his eyes swept up to the ceiling. "Look, Daniel. The Captain here could help you, reduce your sentence, give you a cell with your buddies, witness protection..." There was a beat of silence while Spider-Man waited for Brito to talk. When nothing was said, he added, "But only if you help her."

"I... I can't."

"I know you don't think the police can keep you safe, but would you believe that I can?"

Disbelieving brown eyes searched Spider-Man's mask, and of course they found nothing. Regardless, Spider-Man's proposition had shaken Fancy Dan's commitment to secrecy. Spider-Man could sense him wavering, saw his Adam's apple bob as he swallowed. He was winning him over, and both he and Yuri knew it. Neither one of them dared to speak, lest they jeopardize the careful equilibrium of trepidation and trust that they'd established. Dan teetered like a seesaw, on the brink of a confession.


Daniel started to say something before cutting off abruptly. Gaze going blank, Brito gaped like a fish out of water, mouth opening and closing as he attempted speech. Yuri tried to rouse him with his name to no avail. The man seemed to see straight through her, frame shaking with waves after waves of tremors. His eyes bulged, and then began to glow an eerie, blue-white.

A chill swept through Spider-Man's system, spider-sense screaming inside his skull. GET OUT GET OUT GETOUTGETOUTGETOUT! He stood straight up like he'd been shocked by a thousand volts. Déjà vu hit him like a ton of fallen bricks. In his mind's eye he saw the Osborn rally again, a male police officer shoving back a glowing man before being blown to bits, another friend on the force lost forever. Echoes of survivors' wails resounded in his ears, the shape of MJ fussing over him as he drifted in and out of consciousness. He was experiencing it all over again, losing precious time that could be used to make tracks with Yuri.

Shaking himself free of the flashback, Spider-Man sprang like a coiled snake for Yuri. Her expression conveyed only confusion. It hadn't dawned on her yet, but it would soon. "COME ON!" Spider-Man screeched at her, dragging her by the waist to the door. They made it to the other side before the world erupted into pure sound and light. His bones shook in his body and his teeth rattled in their gums. A searing pain assaulted his eyes and burst his eardrums, blinding and deafening him temporarily. The tremendous force of the explosion propelled them through the next wall, though Spider-Man instinctively shielded Yuri from the brunt of it. Bits of plaster pricked through Spider-Man's suit at his skin, stinging and biting like bugs.

Just as everything started to go dark, Spider-Man saw the ceiling concave, crumble, and come crashing down to cover them.

Chapter Text

Rewrite the Stars

Even before becoming Spider-Man, Peter had never been much of a claustrophobe. Closed spaces were reasonably comfortable for him, and after the spider bite he'd gained a newfound affinity for darkened corners. At the moment, however, he was really starting to reconsider his lack of fear. Today might convert him to claustrophobia after all.

Trapped. Little light. Bad air. Hard to breathe. Dense dust from dispersed debris drifted through the air and got sucked into his lungs, stabbing at his insides with each shaky breath. His shoulders trembled and his spine ached, struggling with the weight pressing down on him with crushing force. The wreckage of two story levels rested solely on his shoulders, and that was a frightening thought.

This wasn't Spider-Man's first time being buried beneath a building, and it wasn't even the worst. The difference from all those previous experiences lay in the feminine form situated under him. Spider-Man wasn't just scared for himself; he was scared for Captain Watanabe.

"Captain," Spider-Man coughed, searching her face for some sign of life. He didn't dare move to check for a pulse, but faint flutterings of air near his face assured him that she was breathing. Breathing didn't account for brain damage or internal injuries, however. "Yuri," he repeated, and received no response.

The surrounding structure groaned around him, shifting in such a way that increased Spider-Man's cramped discomfort. With every second that passed, it got harder to stay fully conscious, to keep everything from completely crashing down around them. Bending his elbows a bit, Spider-Man bowed his head closer to Yuri. They were centimetres apart. In spite of their current circumstances, her countenance was almost peaceful. A pallor had settled over her calm face, though, and that worried him somewhat.

Was he going to die like this? Looking at Yuri's face, the last thing he'd ever see? It wasn't a half-bad sight. Spider-Man supposed that there were worse ways to go. The only problem was, if he died like this, she wouldn't be far behind. The thought was unacceptable.

"HEEEELP!" he hollered, voice hoarse. He might survive a complete collapse, free to crawl out and fight another day, but Yuri was another story. She was too human, too fragile. Their only hope was for a rescue party to find them. If anyone even was searching for them, that is. "SOMEBODY?"

To Spider-Man's relief, he only had to yell a few times more to get a reply. "Hello there!" someone shouted back. "We hear you! We're coming!"

A tension in Spider-Man's chest eased. His stomach unknotted itself and his heart slowed, reassured by the sound of approaching aid. "Oh thank god... We're over here!"

For a few minutes he and the person played a game of Marco Polo, zeroing in on each other. Every call and its counter-call brought the potential rescuer closer and closer. Soon enough, some wreckage across from Spider-Man started to sway and slide out of the way. Out of the disturbed debris, three partially-uniformed police officers appeared, squeezing through the newly-dug gap. The first to emerge was a man with mussed hair and a dirtied coat. At seeing Spider-Man and Yuri in their pinned position, he rushed over, two women at his heels.

Huffing and puffing, Spider-Man wheezed out, "HELP! PLEASE! She's hurt!"

"It's ok. I got her," muttered the man, pulling Yuri free from the pocket space Spider-Man had created with his own body. She was limp and listless, but Spider-Man took note of her head lolling as she stirred. All at once he was exhausted.

As soon as she was gone, Spider-Man sagged slightly in place. She was mostly safe. Mostly. Her coworkers would take care of her, now. Nothing else mattered. The ceiling and support pillars piled atop him creaked threateningly, and one of the women audibly gulped. The extent of Spider-Man's predicament was becoming evident. Most of the damage was concentrated around this area, unfortunately. If he moved too much, even to escape, he could be crushed.

"So... shit, how do we...?"

"Don't worry about me," Spider-Man assured the police-woman. The distant wail of sirens and Yuri's own groans were like music to his ears, a lullaby coaxing him to sleep. If only he could lie down... It was hard to keep conscious at this point, but if there was one thing he knew for sure, it was that Yuriko would be fine. "I'm tough. Just move her out of range."

"We'll come back for you. Either us or EMS," grunted the man, scooping up Yuri and making a break for it through the path he and the other police officers had previously paved.

Before they passed completely out of Spider-Man's sight, he saw Yuri's eyes shoot open to stare at him. Concealed as Spider-Man's face was, their eyes immediately met. They maintained that eye contact for a fleeting moment that felt much longer than it actually was. If Spider-Man wasn't wearing a mask, he might've smiled for her benefit. As it was, though, he was about to pass out. His vision blurred as he succumbed to his concussion, plaster and planks cascading over him like a particularly hard blanket, one that ushered him deeper into sleep.

Inspector Callahan: Small explosion at the police precinct in China Town! Woke me up. Wonder what's happening over there.

Reply from Lives2DieAgain: I heard it too? Shit is going down. Stay safe out there.

The dust was still settling, the muted rumble of rubble echoing in Yuri's ears. She saw it all, too little too late. Surely no one could survive something like that, but then, Spider-Man wasn't so ordinary. She latched onto that fact, letting herself hope beyond hope that he was alive, if only because he was Spider-Man. Blindly striking out, Yuri hit hard flesh and rolled to the ground. She had to get back there, but her legs wouldn't work properly. Nothing would.

It was then that Yuri became aware of the people milling around her. Most of them she recognized as fellow police on the force, or else those in non-sworn positions. Marla the clerk and Sarah the secretary held each other during the whole evacuation. Even Jim the custodian was there, scampering with his arms over his head and a mop handle dutifully clutched in-hand. Everyone was on their way out. Everyone except Spider-Man.

"Get him out of there!" Yuri's demand was a rising wail, impossible to ignore.

Another voice pierced through the confusion. "Would someone please take her to safety?!"

Anonymous arms encircled her, lifting her to the chest to which they were attached in spite of her squirming. David's soothing voice fell on deaf ears, and Carlie's concerned eyes craned over his shoulder. Yuri paid little mind to all these gestures. Her coworkers had become strangers to her, nameless obstacles keeping her from the man entombed in concrete and drywall. As the distance increased, so too did her protests and struggles. She was only snapped out of it at the scene that greeted her outside the shambles.

Her worst nightmare had come to life. Injured people littered the pavement, most groaning, and a few unconscious. They all seemed alive, thank God, but Officer Morgan looked deathly still. Two paramedics hovered over him, working on transferring him to a gurney. A few ambulances and a firetruck had pulled up, their red and blue lights dancing across Morgan's pale skin.

"Shit..." she cursed. It was like someone had broken into her home and trashed the place, but there was no one to direct her anger at, no one to arrest. There was nothing left of the man who was Daniel Brito, and even he hadn't really been at fault. As Yuri replayed the moments leading up to the explosion in her head, the real culprit became all too clear to her, and yet frustratingly out of reach. This was Martin Li's doing...

"Hey," asked Terri, squatting down beside her. A hand touched Yuri's shoulder and squeezed. "You OK?"

"I'm fine, but I'll be better when they get Spider-Man out." At an odd look from Terri, Yuri hastily added, "He saved my life."

That seemed to work. With Yuri's concern obfuscated, Terri tossed a glance behind her. When Yuri followed her line of sight, she saw a few emergency workers running into the half-ruin that was the station. "Looks like they've got it covered. He'll be all right, you'll see. He's Spider-Man."


"Have some faith, Captain. Now let's get you into one of those ambulances to get checked out. You were awfully close to... whatever the hell that was."

"It was Brito. Daniel Brito." Yuri swallowed. "He j-just... blew up. I'll explain it all later."

Terri's face furrowed at the news. She might've said something more, but Yuri's attention was elsewhere. Spider-Man had finally been excavated by a firefighter and a paramedic. The pair were pulling him out, grunting with the exertion. Some of her officers went over to add their assistance, just until the firefighter could pick Spider-Man up entirely and bring him to the back of an ambulance.

His suit was an absolute mess, coated with soot and torn to tatters in some spots. One of his lenses was cracked right down the middle. The fractured fragments glinted dimly from the emergency lights, but they too were caked with filth. Yuri winced at the sight of his mangled left hand, hanging at an awkward angle. Before Terri could stop her, she'd stumbled over to his side.

"I'm coming too," Yuri blurted out to one of the paramedics. "I'm the Captain. I was there with him when it happened."

Any protests the paramedic might've had died on his lips. With a sigh, he said, "Alright. Get in..."

VickyMack: Just when you thought the explosions were over with. This city I swear...

For most of the ride the paramedics were working on Spider-Man. Under Yuri's watchful eye, they never touched his mask, choosing instead to work around his suit as best as they could. Inevitably, though, some sections of the suit had to be snipped away to expose the skin underneath. There were periods of silence interspersed with blasts of intense speech, of which Yuri was only able to catch snippets of conversation. They hardly acknowledged her, adopting an air of all-business, professionally focused at the task at hand. Even so, Yuri couldn't resist a quick inquiry.

"What's the damage like?" Yuri was only able to hide about half of the anxiety in her voice.

"Ma'am, please. Don't distract us."

Irked but understanding, Yuri wisely snapped her mouth shut. To sate her curiosity, she settled for eavesdropping. The sentences she overheard weren't encouraging, but they held a hint of promise here and there.

"Check for signs of internal bleeding and call ahead. Might need to prep surgery."

"This area's swollen. Bruised too. Bad sign."

"Cuts scabbing over already-"

"-Gonna need a splint. That left arm looks bad-"

"-Would you look at that..."

"-Heard he heals-"

"-Intravenous fluids, just to be safe-"

"Check out the pipes on this dude. Like solid steel-"


Before she knew it, they were pulling into the hospital and unloading him. Yuri got up to follow, moving as fast as her legs would allow. The simplest of motions seemed nigh-impossible now. Her vision was hazy and it was hard to keep herself upright, but at least she wasn't as bad as Spider-Man. Without him, she'd undoubtedly be dead.

The next few hours were a whirlwind of activity, and if Yuri was being honest, she didn't remember half of it. She could recall getting treatment, laying in a bed, pacing in the waiting room while Spider-Man was in surgery... The hospital was insanely busy; police-turned-patients were hurried from halls to rooms and everyone was generally on edge. Nevertheless, the staff stayed organized, which Yuri dimly admired.

To pass some time, Yuri visited a few of her men. Morgan was at the top of the list. Four fractured bones, a damaged ear drum, and mild brain injury. The man had seen better days, although his nurse assured her that he would make a full recovery, according to the doctor. Ultimately it was a lost gesture on Yuri's part. He wasn't conscious enough to be aware of her presence, but she felt a sort of obligation to check in on him, just the same.

Eventually Yuri convinced someone to let her in Spider-Man's room. She was on her way there when her phone vibrated in her jean pocket, making her almost jump out of her skin. Instinctively, she got it out to give the device a look. Her phone, though cracked, was remarkably intact. The screen identified the caller as her mother, a fact that made her stomach sink. Once more, obligation compelled Yuri's next choice of course.

Sighing, she answered. "Hello?"

"Yuriko? Oh my God, Yuriko. What happened? I just turned on the TV, and- Oh my God. I thought you might be dead."

As hard as Yuri tried to sound compassionate, what ended up coming out was more dry and dismissive than anything. "But I'm not, Mom. I'm alive. It looked a lot worse than it was, really."

"Looked a lot worse than it was?!" Her mother's voice cracked, rising an octave. Yuri was all too familiar with that tone from her childhood. Whenever Mom was about to blow a gasket, her voice acquired that same, tell-tale lilt. She was in for it, now. "Yuriko, your workplace BLEW UP!"

"Part of it did. 'Just a petty criminal making a point."

A short, exasperated scream preceded her mother's ensuing rant. "JUST A- No. No no no, no. I'm not doing this again. First your father and now you. This job is dangerous, Yuriko, and every day I'm scared you're going to wind up in a damn coffin. I can't believe you're trying to brush this off like it's nothing."


"You could've called me. For the love of God, I'm your mother."

"Mom," Yuri cut across her mother's hysterical blubbering. It was a preemptive interruption, designed to stop her before the full-blown screaming or crying began. "Slow down. Everything's fine. I got knocked out, but I've been looked at. I'll call you back, OK?"

Without waiting for an answer, Yuri hit the button to hang up. Her freed hand then fumbled for the doorknob to Spider-Man's room. As the door swung open, she was instantly struck with a few observations at once. One, the bed and the rest of the room were strangely vacant. Two, the window was open. Three, Spider-Man was gone.

Wolfboulder: @NYCWallCrawler Daddy.

Reply from anexistentialcrisis: Daddy c;

Reply from scyrus42: Dad

Reply from ScarletNightFury: Hi Dad.

Reply from DarthGinger98: #spiderdaddy

Reply from QueennGiorgia: I seem to have started a trend.

Reply from CindaLuc: Web me daddy

Reply from ScarletNightFury: HEY. DAD.

Reply from Shi_no_Ookami: DADDY

Reply from SlurptheSyrup: Oh hey look it's my long-lost dAD

Reply from SpiderNerdArmy: Can I join in? DAD DAD DAD DADDADDADDADDAD

Reply from NYCWallCrawler: I hope you realize you are all going to hell.

Two days went by with no word from him. Activity on his social media confirmed that he was alive, but she hadn't seen him since the explosion. What did she expect, really? This was Spider-Man's M.O.: he'd get treatment, then run for the hills like a rabid dog was on his heels. Hell, he'd pulled the same stunt after the prison escape, too. Hospitals just weren't his thing. She didn't know if it was because of paranoia about the mask, or if he simply had a phobia, but his aversion was well established.

Then why was she so pissed off?

Renovations for the China Town precinct were projected to be finished in about four months. Until then, she and her officers were posted in a nearby building that they were using as a makeshift station. Yuri had just gotten back to work that day, and she already missed the old place. She missed her old office, her old desk, the coffee machines that always acted up... It just wasn't the same. Not to mention, with a good chunk of her force off the table for continued medical treatment and hospital leave, the place was eerily empty. Morgan's absence stung the most. Her force was crippled and her people were shaken, but crime didn't stop, and so, neither did she.

The day went by slowly, and nothing of much note happened. At night Yuri somehow found herself at the top of the building as per usual, struck by the urge to chew some gum all by her lonesome. When the appeal of the gum was gone, she washed the taste down with coffee. In the distance she could see the precinct, still standing, but sunken in the middle. A quiet cough diverted her gaze to a different direction.

She didn't know what she was expecting, but Spider-Man showing up wasn't it. And yet, that's what he did, waving at her from an adjacent wall. Her breath caught when he landed beside her, leaping with the laziness of a child playing hopscotch. All obvious evidence of injury was gone, save for a small limp on his right side and the gingerly way he held his left hand.


"Where have you been?" she snapped unceremoniously.

"Healing. I'm sorry I didn't call. Kinda... broke my phone and the components in my mask when... yeah... I'll fix it soon. Been using my laptop to keep updated."

Shit. Now she physically couldn't be mad at the guy, not when it wasn't his fault. She chewed the inside of her cheek, trying to calm herself down, to banish the irrational vestiges of her anger. Spider-Man abashedly waited for a response, occasionally scuffing his feet. Seeing him standing in front of her was invigorating, somehow, and not just because it was a proof of his health.

"Are you OK?" Yuri eventually asked, crossing her arms.

"Aaaww, you do care."

She carelessly chucked her empty coffee cup at his head, which he dodged lazily. "Course I do. But I'm also pissed. You really worried me. Would a simple call with a payphone have killed you? Huh?"

"Sorry... Wait, payphones are still a thing?"

"Shut up."

"Shutting up," squeaked Spider-Man, shoulders hunched penitently. He suddenly turned serious, pinning her with a stare that brought Yuri to attention. "So... Can we both agree that it was Li?"

Solemnly, Yuri nodded and spoke a single word. "Definitely."

"I knew this whole thing felt familiar. Fighting the Enforcers... It was like Shocker all over again. Whatever Li is up to, he needs funds and fast."

"Could he be going after Osborn again?"

"I'm not sure. That makes the most sense, but then again, he might just trying to carve out a piece of New York for himself. Damn it, I just assumed that he was in prison. 'Never looked too deep into it."

"Me neither. There's still, technically an APB out on him. 'Just checked the actual records today to confirm it. Apparently we kept it on the down low," admitted Yuri. "'Didn't want the public to panic, but no one has seen him since he attacked Osborn personally and tried to steal the antiserum. My superiors must've hoped he was dead."

"But instead he's been quiet all this time..." Spider-Man finished for her, drifting off into silence. It was a change of pace for him, and one that didn't escape Yuri. When Spider-Man wasn't being jovial, then he was usually faking joviality. If he was doing neither, then it was a particularly sombre omen of his mood.

"What's wrong?" she pressed gently.

"It's just... Fancy Dan. I told him I could keep him safe, and I think he trusted me, too."

"There was nothing you could've done."

"Maybe. I don't know if I believe that. Damn it, we pushed him to confess. That had to have been the trigger. I should've guessed he might be a sleeper agent without his knowing, but I never suspected that Li could put that much dormant energy in a single person."

"Listen to me," she barked, grabbing his jaw even as it moved to speak. "There was nothing. You could've. Done. OK?"



Protests dwindling on his tongue, he murmured, perhaps unwillingly, "OK..."

"Now..." she grunted, stepping back and letting go. "How do you feel, really? I was worried sick when I saw it all come down... Shit, they had you in surgery. A minor one, but still. I can't believe you're even walking around."

"I'm honestly fine. First-rate, superb, spectacular, if you will. And just to prove how much better I am..." He offered her a hand, almost slyly. It took Yuri precisely six seconds to clue in.

"...Oh. Oh no. No."

His lips pursed through the mask in a pout. "Do you trust me?"

"Did you just fucking quote Aladdin?"

"Do you trust me?" he repeated with an emphasis that left little room for negotiation.

Trying not to gulp or shake, Yuri took his hand. He pulled her to him, bringing her to his side. An arm wound around her waist and hoisted her up to his hip. Yuri could've sworn that the temperature spiked by a few degrees, keenly aware as she was of how close they were. Their proximity alone was exhilarating enough, but it was too late to back out from the rest.

"The safe word is: Spider-Cop," he whisper-giggled, knees tensing.

Just like that, they were flying. Spider-Man had flung them off solid ground and into the unknown. The air streaked across Yuri's face, bringing tears to her eyes and blocking out all other noises. Even her screams were lost to the rush of wind. Gravity was working hard to return them to their natural state, but Spider-Man had other ideas. A defiant cord of webbing shot across her scope of sight, snagging the top of a smaller tower block.

The first, official swing left her heart in her throat and her brain in a daze. They arced through the air like a pendulum, gaining rapid momentum on the upwards curve. Oxygen was stolen from Yuri's open mouth, leaving her gasping. Every part of her body was buzzing, every vein coursing with adrenaline. She'd never felt more alive, or terrified, in her entire life.

At first the only thought on her mind was the threat of imminent death. Every time they passed a building, or any other obstacle for that matter, it was far too close for her liking. She couldn't stop picturing herself flattened against a brick wall with him, a pair of pancakes displayed for all the city to see. It would almost be a comical image if it wasn't so horrifying. Gradually, though, she gained faith in Spider-Man's abilities. The screams didn't stop, but now they were more like whoops, jubilant instead of petrified.

Apartment buildings and storefronts transitioned to skyscrapers as they traversed uptown. Yuri was thankful for the time of night. The darkness made them appear as little more than a shadowy blob, an indistinct silhouette that most New Yorkers wouldn't blink twice at. If someone did happen to see Spider-Man swinging with a passenger, they wouldn't be able to make out who it was, especially at this altitude.

The strain of being restricted to a single arm must've been growing on Spider-Man, because shortly thereafter he transferred her to his back. Yuri wrapped her legs around his torso and practically put him in a chokehold with her hands, but he didn't seem to mind. Free to switch arms at last, Spider-Man sped up and put a little more flair into his movements. He didn't include any flips, thank God, but his banks and zips were less gentle, and the free falls cut things a little closer with every drop on the downswing.

Before Yuri knew it, she was laughing aloud. Spider-Man joined in, either laughing at her or laughing from the sheer joy of the act. The pair of them went on like that, hooting and howling all the way to the edge of Central Park. At the last minute before they hit the treeline, he pulled up and alighted on the side of an apartment complex overlooking the park. Whilst he caught his breath, Yuri adjusted her grip on him. Since they were no longer in active motion, she could savour the intimacy all the more.

"Can I take you home?" he panted.

"'Course. Beats traffic."

No sooner had she told him the address to her apartment, then they were swinging again. He was slow and leisurely this time around, and Yuri got the impression that he was stalling until they had to part. To be truthful, she was equally reluctant to leave him. For the first time in years, she'd had fun. Real fun that didn't come with any baggage. Up there, above the rooftops, there was nothing to distract her from the moment. The Maggia and her father's legacy faded into the background, a blip on her subconscious that had no power to haunt her. How does he ever convince himself to come down? she wondered ruefully.

A frown crossed her face as her building came into view. Yuri lived on the top floor, so she occasionally left windows open. Luckily, one was unlocked now, and Spider-Man gravitated to it automatically. He helped her enter, holding her hand for a moment more than was necessary as she clambered inside. Just as she turned to face him, he pecked her cheek, mask-half lifted.

"See you tomorrow?"

"Yeah..." she breathed. "And fix your fucking phone."

Chuckling, he kissed her again, this time on the lips. She leaned forward to meet him, elbows resting on the window's frame. The contact lasted only a second or so before he disappeared into the dark. Yuri glimpsed him dipping in and out of the patches of light cast from the street, a lithe shape that violated all laws of human logic and limitations. Only when he was completely gone did she close the window.

Chapter Text

Tale As Old As Time

A week went by with startling swiftness. It was a strange week, filled with a myriad of moments that varied from the usual, to the shocking, to the sweet. For one, Miles Morales had dropped a news-bomb on Peter not two days ago, confiding in Peter that he also had spider powers. Peter, in turn, had revealed his identity as Spider-Man to the boy, as it was only right that he return that show of trust. The seemingly random, unknown origin of Miles' new abilities and the spider that'd granted them concerned Peter, but at present there were more pressing happenings to attend to. Crime in the city had recently skyrocketed, and so too had Peter's Spider-Man-related activities. By the time the next Monday rolled around, Spider-Man was physically and mentally exhausted.

Demons had started crawling into the daylight like termites from the woodwork. It wasn't uncommon for Spider-Man to come across a few a day, often stealing from business or terrorizing citizens. With Mr. Negative's corrupting power, he had no shortage of disposable men to do his bidding. Spider-Man could only assume that Mr. Negative was no longer concerned with keeping his operations under wraps. The explosion at the China Town precinct and Captain Watanabe's word as a witness had exposed him to the police, so there was no point in hiding from the public, either. This was probably his plan all along: stay underground for as long as possible, then return with a vengeance.

As for Yuri, Spider-Man was working around the clock to warm her all the way up to him. If nothing else, she'd resigned herself to the indisputable fact of their shared affection. After that second kiss, there was no denying that they were into each other. The reality was that she and Spider-Man were hardly "friends" anymore, but weren't quite close enough to be considered in the "steady" category. It was murky right now, but Spider-Man was determined to making her come around entirely. Losing MJ had made him all the more dedicated to the idea of sparking something stronger between him and Yuri. Maybe even something more permanent, if she was willing. Yuri Watanabe was more than a rebound for him. She was special, the suddenness of their liaison notwithstanding, and he would fight for her.

The next logical step scared Spider-Man. He agonized over it all day, going back and forth on his decision to indulge in it. Just when he'd convinced himself, he backed out again into the secure walls he'd set up years ago. If he wanted Yuri to trust him, then obviously she needed to know that he trusted her. That meant that sooner or later, Spider-Man needed to lose those walls, to let them down so she could see the actual person underneath, to show her Peter Parker. The only other people who knew were MJ, Miles, and Otto, but if they knew, then Spider-Man supposed that Yuri had a right to be privy to the same secret.

What if she lost interest? Or what if he wasn't mature enough for her? Peter Benjamin Parker wasn't exactly as exciting of a character as Spider-Man. In spite of the spider powers, Peter Parker was nerdy, awkward, and surprisingly domestic. He was a wannabe cook, an amateur albeit gifted scientist, and an obnoxious comedian. Captain Watanabe was a kick-ass cop, approximately 1.65x his age (and yes, he'd calculated it). What would she want to do with boring ol' Peter Parker? The best Spider-Man could do was bite the bullet and hope for the best, but in the meantime, he distracted himself with patrol.

It came to be that around noon, Spider-Man found himself foiling the second Demon-related robbery that day. At least, it was the second Demon-related robbery that he'd come across. There was no telling how many crimes Li's gang committed daily when out of sight of the police's surveillance towers. There were about ten of them, all trying to break into a former Fisk warehouse. The sight of their sleek black suits and monochrome masks actually sent shivers up Spider-Man's spine. In all of his eight-year tenure as Spider-Man, few thugs had turned New York as upside down as the Demons. They were ruthless, cunning, and downright creepy.

To start, Spider-Man sent a couple of webs out to split up the group, surrounding them with unknown sound. Predictably, the outer Demons slunk off to investigate and were swiftly dispatched by two tripwire-webs. To thin the herd further, Spider-Man unleashed a barrage of impact webbing that pinned and incapacitated Demons indiscriminately. Spider-Man dropped to the ground to deal with the few Demons still standing. They rushed him, cursing in Mandarin. One aimed a gun and another charged his fists with negative energy, freeing himself from the webs wrapped around his arms.

With his usual brand of confidence and charm, Spider-Man, casually flipped over the first Demon, kicking him in the rear-end when he'd landed on the other side of his gun. The guy went flying and face-planted to the pavement. "Accept the web, bro," Spider-Man said as he sprayed the downed Demon in artificial silk. "It's comfy. Trust me."

Just as he finished speaking, another Demon tried to blast Spider-Man off his feet with his own reserves of negative energy. Twisting out of the way at the last moment, Spider-Man nailed the man in his mask whilst in mid-air with a well-timed web. The blinded thug stumbled back, taking off his mask and tossing it at Spider-Man as a makeshift projectile. Bemused, Spider-Man stepped aside, watching the opera mask sail over his head before staring back at the Demon, as if to ask, 'Are you serious?'.

Bullets fired from Spider-Man's side forced him to break the eye-contact. He ducked into an asana, yelping in surprise. At times like these, his spider-sense came in handy for accounting for multiple foes at once. Without it, he would've been so riddled with bullet holes by now that they'd have to call him "Swiss-Cheese-Man" instead of "Spider-Man". Oh, and also he'd be dead. That too.

"Wait your turn, please," Spider-Man told the shooter, springing and striking at him like a serpent.

Overall, it was a fairly facile fight. He barely broke a sweat. When all was said and done, Spider-Man wrapped things up quite literally by weaving the thugs into a web-net, which he strung between two posts. A few conscious ones whimpered in fear as he crawled over them, attaching extra lines along the main frame of the web for greater stability. A particularly feisty Demon nearly freed himself, recovering enough to summon forth some of his negative powers, but Spider-Man secured him by encasing him in a cocoon with the rest of his comrades.

Hopping down, Spider-Man turned to address the captive criminals. "I don't suppose any of you want to rat on your boss? I'll give you cookies. Cooked the batch myself. Any takers? No? Fine. Enjoy jail food."

Feeling rather proud of himself, Spider-Man called up Yuri to inform her about the crooks and where to pick them up. Ever since they'd first met, they'd established a sort of routine for this. She tipped him, he caught the bad guys, and then she picked them up or investigated with probable cause. It was a symbiotic mutualism that Spider-Man valued above all other relationships as his super-alter-ego.

"I have a few presents gift-wrapped for you down by the docks," Spider-Man hummed into his mask, eager to hear her voice.

Yuri's tender tones trilled back in answer, "You're too thoughtful... What is that, the second bust today?"

"Yep. I'm pretty spectacular." A plan started to take shape in Spider-Man's head, exciting but intimidating. Before he could chicken out, he blurted, "If you're free, can you meet me on the rooftops tonight? Say, 12:30ish? I need time to set up something."

"Um... yeah. Yeah, I can make time. What are you-"

"No-spoilers-gotta-go-see-you-then," Spider-Man rambled rapidly, swinging away just as the call was closed.

NYCWallCrawler: The next person to call me "daddy" is getting hit with a hard block :)

Reply from SweetStawberryShake: I'm sorry daddy pls punish me daddy

SweetStrawberryShake: OMG HE ACTUALLY DID IT

Reply from TobiHawk: ROFL

From the moment she woke up in the morning, Yuri looked forward to every night. It'd become the highlight of her day, a promise of pleasant fun that didn't detract from her job. She and Spider-Man didn't physically commune every night, exactly, but betwixt their meetings they always made time for a call. Their calls ranged from amiable chats to speculative discussions about Li, and Yuri treasured each and every one of them.

This night was especially exciting for her. As soon as her work was mostly done, and she'd sent Terri off after her shift, Yuri went up to the roof. Her footsteps were barely controlled, paced as a speed-walk or semi-jog. She felt like a teenager all over again, off to meet her forbidden, bad-boy boyfriend or something. The funny thing was, she was fine with that.

Spider-Man was waiting for her up top, eye-lenses widening when he saw her. She'd come to recognize many of his dispositional cues through the mask, to read his emotes as though they were expressions. That slight swelling of his lenses and the twitch near his mouth always indicated a smile under that mask. Warmth flowing from head to toes, Yuri approached him with a smile of her own.

"Hey," she said, gruff-sounding as she tried to cover up the nakedness of her grin. When she was around Spider-Man, she felt vulnerable, open to emotional attack. Somehow he was able to bypass all of her barriers. It was a scary but invigorating aspect of their companionship. "What's up? I want to get a head start on some stuff to do with Li. Cooper dug up some-"

"Shhhh," hissed Spider-Man. He beckoned to her, an arm extended. "C'mere. I gotta show you something."

Even the smallest prospect of a swing with him sent Yuri into a state of adrenalized anticipation. Her brain sparked into a frenzy, every neuron buzzing as it reviewed the memory of her last ride. Containing her excitement, or at least any outward show of it, Yuri stepped towards him and took his arm. It was firm in her grip, muscles tense as he drew her to him. Once she was secure, he took a running leap with her off the building and started to swing away.

The journey was rather short, more functional than fun, and interspersed with short breaks where Spider-Man surveyed the streets. He ducked between a lot of buildings, keeping to the shadows during each swing. As paranoid as he was currently being, Yuri appreciated his precautions. If word got out that she was seeing Spider-Man... Worst case scenario? She'd be shot in a half-baked revenge plot. At best she could hope for mild media harassment.

Spider-Man set her down atop an inconspicuous roof in the Financial District, supporting her so she wouldn't stumble. Upon standing up, Yuri became aware of a number of items laid out around her. For one, a picnic blanket was spread out at their feet and a pair of candles flickered from the outer ledge of the rooftop. There was also a Bluetooth speaker-box and a backpack resting beside it. A snake of suspicion coiled in Yuri's chest, just as playful as it was defensive.

"What is this?"

"Just a little somethin'," Spider-Man said, dipping his hands into the open backpack and digging until he discovered what he was searching for. With a flourish, he whipped out a tiny top hat and bow tie. "Aha! Here we are!"

Amused but bemused, Yuri stood to the side and observed Spider-Man struggling with the tie. Although he had a general sense of what he was doing, his fingers wouldn't work right, kept fumbling on the same step. Not entirely knowing why, Yuri stepped towards him and yanked the tie from his hands. He bowed his head and bent his knees as she looped it around his neck, moving minimally for her benefit. Her deft hands crossed the strip of cloth and carefully crafted the knot that he sought.

Tightening the final tie, Yuri questioned, "Didn't your Dad teach you this when you were a teen?"

"Don't have one."

"Oh," managed Yuri, lowering her eyes. Empathy permeated her being at the revelation. Her Dad may not have been the greatest role model, but she missed him all the same. "Sorry."

"Don't be. Lucky for me I have a lovely lady to teach me these important life skills," snickered Spider-Man. "So, what'd'ya think?"

"You look ridiculous."

"But dapper, right...? Remember how the Annual Policeman's Ball got cancelled? And how torn up about it you were?"

"I was not-"

"Weeelll, I decided we could throw our own little Policeman's Ball. Just the two of us."

With that, Spider-Man took out his phone and flicked his thumb over a "play" icon. "Spider-Man, Spider-Man, does whatever-" started to leak out of the speaker, blaringly loud. Staring at him, Yuri couldn't help a sudden snort at the tune. He hastily switched the theme song out for a much quieter, sophisticated number. The music was melodic, waltz-like in nature, with soothing strains of piano-played chords. Despite Yuri's initial misgivings, the song gradually won her over. When Spider-Man held out his hand, Yuri didn't refuse.

They drew together tentatively. Spider-Man hesitantly rested a hand on her hip as they situated themselves. While she lightly stroked his shoulder with her fingers, his free hand clasped with her corresponding hand. Neither one of them was much of a dancer, but they made do, letting the music take them where they wanted. It was a slow dance, synchronous and simple. Each step was slight and shuffling, and Yuri nearly tripped once or twice. Spider-Man always steadied her, as reliable as the stars.

Oh God, did I actually use that metaphor?

The song changed, but Yuri never noticed. Her focus was entirely on his lenses, as was his on her face. Everything else disappeared, blocked out by him. The background blurred behind his head, indistinct, unimportant. As they slowly swayed around each other, Yuri leaned in and rested her head against his chest. It was a supple surface, rising and falling with each content breath. Her eyes flitted up to look into his half-closed lenses.

"Get that thing off," she muttered at him, blindly knocking the top-hat off of his head. It went spiraling away, carried by the wind. "Can't take you seriously with it."

Gasping softly, Spider-Man said, "And yet you love me anyways."

"Shut up..."

He did, a hum building in his throat. Yuri could feel it all the way in his chest, a gentle rumble against her ear. It was enough to almost lull Yuri to sleep. She could stay like this forever, and would, if it were possible. Unfortunately, Yuri was too practical of a person to even entertain that thought for more than a few seconds. Frowning, she straightened to eye him better.

"What are we, exactly?"

His poise undisturbed by her directness, Spider-Man replied, "What do you want us to be?"

"I asked you first."

"Well then, I want whatever we are right now to keep going, but I want it in words. I want to be steady, exclusive, "baes". OK, maybe don't call me "bae". "Babe" is OK if you want, or "honey". I draw the line at "cuddle bear". Most of all, I want you to know the real me, one day."

That was a lot to take in. Yuri didn't speak, touched by his honesty, by his openness. The "real" Spider-Man? That was who she wanted to know, too. Not always, and definitely not in the beginning, but now... Kissing someone could certainly change a woman's perspective on a secret identity.

A stipulation slipped out, straightforward but paramount. "We can't tell anyone. Ever."

"Fine with me. I have a lot of enemies and secrecy is safer."

"Then it's fine by me. By the way, this exclusivity thing? It goes both ways. Don't think I don't see how many fangirls, and boys, you have hounding you. And that Black Cat chick? Everyone and their dog could see that you two were banging like bunnies."

"Ye of little faith," squawked Spider-Man. "I may wear a mask but I have my morals."

Boy, did he get embarrassed easily. Yuri could practically hear the blush in his voice. Squeezing his shoulder, she stopped the dance and pinned him with a stare. "You're sweet, and it's late. You should go."

"Aw. I totally had star gazing planned... Need a lift back to the precinct or your apartment?"

"I'll catch a cab," she said instantly. If she spent any more time with him, she might ask him to stay, and if she invited him into her apartment... No, no it was absolutely better this way.

Stooping, Spider-Man started to gather up the things he'd brought with him. All of it got stuffed inside the backpack, which he slung over his shoulders. Adjusting the straps, Spider-Man meandered his way to the edge of the building. The two exchanged an embrace kept brief by willpower alone, and Yuri spared him a smile.

"See ya, Spider-Man."

Spider-Man's raised foot faltered in the air, his hand falling before he could shoot a web. An indecisive shift of weight alerted Yuri to some inner conflict. She could see his jaw working under the mask, moving up and down. His mouth opened and closed, but save for some stuttering syllables, barely any sound came out. He seemed to be stalling, or else gathering up his courage. Eventually, he found it.

"It's Peter, by the way."

And just like that he was gone, becoming more of a dot as the distance between them increased.

Chapter Text

Miss Independent

"Peter," Yuri mused to herself. She repeated it, letting the name roll over her tongue.

Peter, two simple syllables. It was an ordinary name, one that came easily to her lips. Unassuming, but pleasant, a stark contrast to the intimidating and eccentric title of "Spider-Man". For Yuri, though, it just felt right, like she'd always known his name. Peter... The transition was strange and yet somehow easy.

"Did you say something, Captain?"

Officer Terri Lee was seated across from Yuri, legs crossed, a coffee cup steaming in her hand. She wasn't working patrol until tonight, and thus had opted to stay and socialize with her Captain. On most days, Yuri appreciated the presence of a fellow, female friend, but this wasn't most days. If she could brush Terri off without being construed as rude, she would do so. Hell, if Terri were any other officer, Yuri would've already done so, but she valued her friendship with Terri above most things.

Eyes shooting up from the computer screen, Yuri shifted behind her desk. "Just thinking aloud," she replied, shaking herself out of her absent idling. On the inside, she was berating herself. Having company in her office required more discretion.

"About Peter Petruski?" asked Terri knowingly.

As if a switch had been flipped, Yuri's face soured. Lower-tier criminals of a similar level to the Enforcers had started resurfacing all over the city. The latest in this long list of hassles was Peter Petruski, the self-proclaimed "Paste-Pot Pete" in his debut as a wannabe super-criminal. Since then he'd gotten smarter, more dangerous, dropping the lame name in favour of "The Trapster" for good measure, though that didn't stop Spider-Man from incessantly teasing him about his first handle. So far the Trapster's activities had been restricted to high-stakes robberies, but it worried Yuri. Terri's comment reminded her of all this at once. There had to be a connection. This crime wave was no coincidence, and Li was likely behind it; Yuri would bet money on it.

"A little," Yuri lied. "Him and all the other shit that's happening. Times like these really make you consider an early retirement."

"No kidding... My husband and parents are pretty proud, but they worry a lot, especially with the little one needing me. What about you? Does your Mom approve of your job?"

Suddenly evasive, Yuri side-eyed her from the other side of her desktop. "Yes and no. In the beginning she was thrilled, but as time went on... Well, we don't always see eye-to-eye on a lot of things, and my career is one of them."

A sympathetic twinge momentarily overcame Terri's face. "Sorry to hear that. I'm sure that deep down though, she's proud."

While Yuri appreciated the sentiment, she wasn't so sure herself. At one point or another, Mrs. Watanabe might've put some pride in her daughter's frenzied advancement through the police academy. Her subsequent promotions from Lieutenant, to Captain shortly afterwards, were another achievement that deserved congratulations. However, Yuri's radical and brash behaviour on the force had earned her multiple disciplinary hearings, both on and off record. Fortunately the Chief was familiar with her past, and thus was fairly forgiving, which Yuri appreciated. Recently she'd done her best to behave, but that didn't wholly satisfy Yuri's mother. A part of her probably remembered Yuri's rebellious attitude as a younger woman in school, the calls from the principal and so forth. Yuri wearily accepted the compliment anyhow. "Thanks Ter..."

As if sensing her discomfort, Terri veered the conversation into gentler waters. "Y'know, random but, I ran into Spider-Man on the roof a few nights ago. 'Spooked when he saw me."

Annoyance rippled through Yuri, albeit slightly tempered by the fondness she felt for said Spider-Man. No, not Spider-Man. Peter. That would take some getting used to. She would have to tell Peter to be more careful in the future. An occasional appearance to her fellow police officers was fine, but one too many might land them in trouble. Her cops were quick-witted. Even if they didn't find out everything, they would soon figure that something was up.

"Not surprised," Yuri said smoothly, showing no trace of unease on her face. "He likes to lurk around the stations, and especially after the explosion. 'Used to be he just fiddled with the towers."

"So that wasn't a rumour. Is that even legal? Him tapping into our data like that?"

"Don't know don't care. Couldn't stop him even if we wanted to."

"Whatever you say Captain..." she shrugged, uncertain and noncommittal. "Carlie and I were going to get some drinks later, after my shift. Coming?"

"Not tonight."

Terri blinked, taken aback. "Wow. You almost never turn us down. Is something wrong? Or is it just normal Captain stuff. Is it a guy?"

"It's Captain stuff, Captain stuff that I should really be getting back to right about now..."

The cordiality in Yuri's speech was replaced by a blunt candidness. Terri took the hint. She stood, hands half-raised as though she were a criminal in the Captain's line of fire. "Alright, I'm going I'm going. Before I go, when do you want me to bring by Grease?"

"Whenever works best for you." The reply was equally dismissive and generous. "Preferably when I'm not at work. I don't want to risk David or Drake discovering that shit on my desk..."

Shrugging as she left, Terri shot over her shoulder, "We don't choose our guilty pleasures..."

As soon as Terri was gone and Yuri was left alone, she picked up her phone. Seven missed calls, three voicemail messages, and ten texts stared at Yuri from her notifications screen, all from her mother. She ignored them as she always did, selecting a saved number from her contacts. There would be other opportunities to smooth things over with her worry-wart of a mother. For now, Yuri's job came first. Her job, and a certain spidery-boyfriend who helped with that job.

"Wassup boss?" In spite of his cheeky greeting, Yuri could hear a hitch in his breathing. Either he was nervous or out of breath. Or both.

She wanted to talk about last night, about his name, about the stubborn mask that she wished he'd shed. Instead, what came out was work-related. The more practical part of her was in charge at present. Without missing a beat, Yuri launched into what was on her mind. "We really need to deal with the Trapster."

"Ol' Paste-Pot will have to wait. Right now I'm trying to tail Slyde."

Amongst the spike of supervillain sightings, Slyde was also proving to be quite the problem. Born Jalome Beacher, "Slyde" could've had a promising career if only he'd applied himself. The man was insanely smart, though apparently not smart enough to stay out of legal trouble. According to Yuri's background check into his past, Jalome had invented a new non-stick substance under a company called Beemont Manufacturing. At the time he'd been a chemical engineer in the design and development department, and the chemical was intended for domestic use, kitchen appliances and such. Before his creation could hit the shelves as a non-stick pan surface or spray, he and many other employees were unceremoniously uprooted by an overturned management. Jalome Beacher's super-coating never saw the market, but somehow Beacher found another use for it.

Instead of seeking out employment elsewhere, Jalome Beacher chose a life of crime. Yuri could only assume his motivations, but they seemed shallow based on his targets and later confessions. Revenge against his old boss, a desire for petty success, and plain old greed were his highest priorities. He purchased a speed skater's suit and altered it into a primitive costume. Altered by his omniphobic coating, and with especially-slippery footwear and padded fingertips for grip, Jalome Beacher became the self-dubbed "Slyde". Without the hindrance of friction to slow him down, Slyde was nearly unstoppable on foot. As a concept Slyde sounded ridiculous, but in actuality he was frighteningly effective. Spider-Man himself had recurrent troubles with wrangling him. Slyde's suit tended to repel even the stickiest of webbing, and for a while, he got off scot-free for his thefts. Eventually, however, he fell as all criminals did, only escaping during the recent Rykers prison break.

Processing this in an instant, Yuri said, "Smart. You'd never be able to hold him, anyway."

"Hey..." Peter protested, sounding hurt as he did.

"Might as well see if he'll lead you to Li, or a seller."

"Yeah, that's what I was thinking. One sec, gotta concentrate. I'll keep in touch."

AKAHellcat: Ever wonder why Spider-Man isn't on a team? I heard a rumour that he tried out for the F4 early on in his career.

Reply from CrowgoesCaw: No one would be able to stand his webs

Reply from Kavi_Florian: He's a native New Yorker. No one would be able to stand him.

Reply from Toad-Sage66: @Kavi_Florian But like how do you KNOW that? Was it ever confirmed?

Reply from Kavi_Florian: Ever watch that documentary from last year? Some linguist pinged certain inflections and lingo in his accent to Queens.

Reply from lauryn2hip39: @Kavi_Florian So is Captain America. Born and raised in New York, and HE seems to be a team player.

Reply from Melon_Lord_Cosplay: Steve Rogers doesn't count because he's a sweet soul

Reply from Jessie36: So is Spider-Man. Fight me.

Reply from Probabilitizzle: Spider-Man talks too much.

Reply from AKAHellcat: ...Fair enough.

Reply from Raze_Olympus: That's almost definitely it.

There were few enemies more frustrating than Slyde. Spider-Man hated him with a passion. With the rest of his villains, he could at least get a few punches in. Slyde was swift, and whatever blows connected tended to glance off. Not only did Slyde have speed on his side, but he could also change directions on a dime. In their first encounter, Spider-Man had caught up to him only to end up in the back of a garbage truck. He'd been inexperienced back then, unable to turn with the same precision as his foe. For the rest of that week, pictures of him covered in trash had circulated twitter in a never-ending cycle of shame and memes.

Somehow Slyde had managed to make a new suit. As far as Spider-Man could tell, it was a perfect replica of his old one. That was to say, it was still ugly. He wore all white, with green gauntlets, knee guards, goggles, and a bag slung over his shoulder. The bag bulged with cash, the occasional bill escaping into the wind. Some bedraggled people snatched up the scraps, but Spider-Man didn't bother to stop them.

Slyde moved like an Olympic speed skater, arms alternating in wide arcs, legs stretched for maximum thrust. To him, the pavement was like ice. He blazed through traffic, down streets, and into alleyways, a white and green blur that people promptly forgot in the hustle and bustle of New York. It was all Spider-Man could do to keep up with the slippery asshole. His chest burned and his eyes were sore from squinting, but blessedly, Slyde started to slow down before he could lose him.

The runaway criminal came to a stop in front of a Hell's Kitchen warehouse, approximately six stories tall. Unbeknownst to him, his shadow was roosting above him, catching his breath. The front of the building had some sort of text, but time had faded the paint from the bricks. A brief case of déjà vu made Spider-Man blink. A little over three months ago, he'd fought a group of Demons not far from here, hanging out in a similar setting. They've started making bases again, he realized, but quickly chastised himself. He couldn't be certain that the Demons were involved... yet.

For a moment Spider-Man wished he still had MJ as a contact. She would be sure to know all about the location and a possible importer. One thing he missed about having her in New York was how she'd dig into a dirty company's dealings in real time, whilst he was in the middle of a fight. It beat doing research himself, or the suspense of waiting on a report from the police or Yuri herself. Just as he shot Yuri an address by text, Slyde slipped inside from a half-open garage door, and Spider-Man followed suit.

There wasn't a moment to spare. Spider-Man slid against the concrete, scratching his suit. The overhead door closed a half-second after he'd made it through, shutting out the light. It was dark inside, with boarded-up windows and an atmosphere that gave Spider-Man the shivers. Eyes adjusting, he thwipped to the ceiling and listened intently for Slyde. Quiet voices and a faint light directed him to a nearby door.

Spider-Man crawled quietly towards the door, taking in his surroundings all the while. There were crates scattered around the floor and shelves, some stacked, and some open. The glint of guns made Spider-Man shudder. It was an armoury, a storage place for firearms. Whoever owned this warehouse was in cahoots with criminals, either unwittingly or unwillingly if Spider-Man was going to give them the benefit of the doubt. Spider-Man saw his first Demon guarding the door, a glow dancing off the eye-holes of his mask. This confirmed his suspicions that this was a Demon staging ground. It seemed that every super villain took orders from the Demons, these days.

When Spider-Man was situated above the guard, he plucked him up with a pair of webs. A scream rang out, too fast for Spider-Man to silence, and the warehouse erupted into a battleground. Shouted Mandarin preceded the first surge of Demons. The lights switched on, briefly blinding Spider-Man. They saw him and scrambled to shoot, but by then Spider-Man was on the other side of the room, crouched and ready.

Ironically enough, his first opponent wasn't even a Demon. Slyde sprinted into action, gliding across the ground like it was slicked with lubricant. Before Spider-Man could act on his spider-sense's warning, he was tossed to the side by Slyde's first blow. The next strike came from a different direction, throwing Spider-Man to the floor. Spider-Man struggled to recover, but he barely had a chance to stand before Slyde streaked past for a third collision. Spider-Man's open, sticky palm slapped onto Slyde, but found no purchase in his suit.

Almost as soon as Slyde showed up, he disappeared. Slyde was a robber, not a fighter. Electro or Scorpion might stand and fight like a man, but Slyde was a coward, and a clever one at that. The appearance of Spider-Man was sure to precede police interference. He knew when he was beaten, and when it was time to bail.

"Thassright, you betta run. And fer the record, yer worse than Cyclone!" Spider-Man slurred, swaying to an upright position. He wasn't too concerned about Slyde's escape. Soon enough the guy would turn up again, and then he'd nail him. Presently, the Demons that Slyde had inadvertently led him to would have to make do.

In the time that Spider-Man had been occupied with Slyde, the Demons had crept closer. They cocked their guns simultaneously, shooting as a unit, but Spider-Man's body wasn't there to meet the bullets. He'd leapt into the air, body tucked into an aerial somersault of sorts. Still airborne, he launched three web bombs into their midst. Silk splattered onto limbs, masks, and weapons. While they were still stunned and struggling, Spider-Man systematically took them down one by one.

A second wave was already rushing out as Spider-Man finished with the first, only this time, they had a Brute in their ranks. Aw, wonderful, Spider-Man thought wearily at the sight of him. The bigger Demon charged Spider-Man like a bull, his comrades in the front parting for him. In one smooth motion, Spider-Man webbed his head and sidestepped, yanking the web downwards. The Heavy rammed head-first into the floor and skidded like a braking train, instantly unconscious. Unfortunately, as Spider-Man began the process of dispatching his buddies, he started to stir.

Negative energy rippled through the Brute's gigantic fists. He raised them, about to bring down a shock wave, when a bullet sliced through his back. Swearing something savage, the Brute toppled over. Standing in the doorway was Yuri, in her black leather jacket, backlit, and fierce-faced. She'd never looked more beautiful to Spider-Man than she did in that moment. He was a tongue-tied teen all over again, sweating in his suit, flushing under his mask.

"Nice of you to join the party, Captain," squeaked Spider-Man, slightly proud of himself for the fact that he hadn't stuttered or said something stupid. "Did you bring any-"

"Less talking more fighting."

And so they did. For the first time, they fought side-by-side, as partners. They'd cooperated in combat before, sure, but never like this, and never for any extended length of time. Pleasantly enough, their team-up came naturally to the both of them. Yuri primarily relied on her pistol, and Spider-Man on his webs. At one point Spider-Man tossed her one of his gadgets, and felt a surge of pride when she chucked it into the mask of a Demon irregardless of the gizmo's actual function. What a woman.

He was rather impressed with her fighting ability, too. Just by looking at how she moved, it was clear as day to Spider-Man that she'd taken some martial arts classes in the past, beyond what was offered at the police academy. She had a kick like a viper, and Demons that drifted into the range of her fisticuffs usually regretted it. It felt to Spider-Man like he spent half the fight protecting her, and the other half admiring her.

Somehow they ended up back-to-back. Each crime-fighter watched out for the other from their own front, their combined concentration equitably divided. If not for the limitation it put on Spider-Man's movements, it'd be the perfect formation. Spider-Man was less of a brawler and more of an acrobat, but he made do. His punches were devastating, and when he needed to dodge, he would bark out a warning for Yuri to do the same.

They were down to one, final Demon. Any other criminal might've fled, but the Inner Demons were a hardy and loyal bunch. Spider-Man broke away from Yuri's back just as the well-dressed mobster drifted into her sights. She shot him without hesitation, and thick, black blood clots burst from his gut. A quiet gurgle preceded his collapse, but her finger was still on the trigger. Up until then Yuri had been aiming for non-vital areas, but this... this was cutting things too close.

"Stop! Damn it, stop!" panted Spider-Man, stepping in front of the last Demon regardless of the risk to himself. "It's done. They're down. It's over."

In that split second, Yuri seemed actually scary. Something passed over her face, like a shadow, and there was a coldness in her eyes that made Spider-Man quiver. Luckily, she lowered the pistol without a word of protest. Just as silently, Spider-Man bent over the Demon to tend to him. He sprayed the bullet hole down from both ends with webbing, temporarily cutting off the blood flow. He was alive, thank God, but losing fluids fast.

It was an accident, right...? Spider-Man kept trying to convince himself, but there'd been a calculated quality to Yuri's eyes, a deliberate flash that could not be overlooked.

MikeLikey: I hate living in Hell's Kitchen. This entire block is backed up because of some police thing. You'd think with DD AND SM running around things would be a lot safer.

Reply from JJJatHome: Finally someone is speaking sense. Jared, get this guy on the show.

Reply from ProducerJared: Boss, you can always just DM this stuff. Or tell me in person. I can't always stalk your twitter.

Neither one of them spoke until they were outside, and even then they never had a chance to converse. The flashes from cameras were instantaneous, and a cacophony of voices arose all around them. Yuri took a step back, and Spider-Man automatically shied from the crowds, leaping out of sight. He swung away before any questions could be posed, literally leaving Yuri for the hounds. They swarmed her like a pack of hungry hyenas, chattering over each other. Even their smiles looked like a hyena's gaping growl.

Through the gaps between bodies, Yuri could make out a hastily constructed police line. This was less surprising to her. After all, she'd called for reinforcements from the moment she got Spider-Man's text. If anything, she was more surprised that she'd managed to make it there first. They must've been battling the media the whole time Yuri was occupied with the Demons. Yuri cursed whoever or whatever had brought the vultures upon them, whether it'd been a police leak, civilian tip, or some hotshot reporter trailing after either her or Spider-Man.

"What was it like working with Spider-Man?"

"Captain Watanabe? Do you have any comments on what happened here?"

"Are the Demons truly back, or are these pretenders?"

"Is Martin Li their leader?"

"How did you hold your own? Is it typical for a Captain to be so involved with vigilantes?"

She spied two officers, David and Caleb, forging a path through the press towards her with the intent of rescue. Their faces were apologetic. These men were used to patrolling and arrests, moreso than media interference. Swallowing a sigh, Yuri raised a hand to stop them. This was part of her job. Interacting with the public and addressing the press was part of her duties as a Captain, though it was far from her favourite facet of the job. The key was to satisfy them without rewarding them, which would encourage future violations.

"Vacate the premises immediately before my men are forced to make some arrests. I will be releasing a public report on what happened here in due time."

It took a little bit of manhandling from her other officers, but for the most part Yuri's mixed threat and assurance dispersed the reporters. They lingered behind the line like ravenous wolves, penned and muzzled, but not tamed. David and Caleb headed in while another group waited outside. Almost as an afterthought, Yuri instructed Caleb to call an extra ambulance if they hadn't already. That last Demon would definitely need it. What was most frightening to her was the lack of shame she felt. No matter how hard she tried to force some sort of emotional response to her actions, none came. The Demon could've died, and Yuri wouldn't lose any sleep over it. All that came to her mind was that explosion, of Morgan and Spider-Man in hospital beds...

She needed to shake this, and she needed to call him. Excusing herself from the crime scene, Yuri went to where she'd parked her car. No sooner were the doors closed and locked than she grabbed her phone, leaning into the soft leather of her seat. Two more texts and a fourth voicemail greeted her, a problem to be solved at a later time. It took two rings for Spider-Man to answer.

"Weren't you a bit too liberal with the gun?"

Her fingers squeezed the bridge of her nose until the space between her eyeballs throbbed. "Please, don't lecture me."

"I mean it, Yuri. These Demons... some of them are with Li by choice, but you can never tell who's corrupted and who isn't. Promise me you'll be more careful?"

"For you? Of course. I'd like to keep my job in any case..." she agreed quickly. Never mind that she had no real remorse. The reality was, he was right. She couldn't go shooting up criminals without a care for their lives, not if she wanted to continue her career. "Can we meet up tonight? I need to tell you some things, and I miss you."

"Already?" he chuckled, flattered. All at once the tension dissipated, and things were back to normal between them. "Yeah, I can come by. I can't get over how cool we were back there. We're a total team now. All you need is a superhero name... How 'bout," he paused for dramatic effect, voice shifting into Spider-Cop's harsh tones. "...The Cougar."

Yuri hung up.

Chapter Text

Does Your Mother Know?

The best part about swinging with Yuri was watching her face.

Every twist earned a gasp, and for each last-second save she showed a smile. They were tiny smiles, yes, timid and crisp, but Spider-Man savoured them all the same. It got to the point that she became a distraction. Spider-Man started to make mistakes that he usually wouldn't, and after a near-miss with a utility pole, he reluctantly transitioned her to his back.

It was only a few minutes' swing to transition from Chinatown to East Village. On the edge of the neighbourhood was an old, stone church, situated somewhere between that fuzzy boundary of East Village and Alphabet City. It was a Catholic Cathedral, on the smaller side, but no less impressive. Spires like spears arrayed its roof, giving it an intimidating appearance. Rising out of its farthest end was an imposing tower, hollow on the inside and used for storing its biggest bell. Four circles adorned each side, one of which was the face of a clock, while the rest were stained-glass windows. Though dusty and dull by night, the windows' designs were intricate and detailed.

In Peter's humble opinion, the neglected church could match the magnificence of even its most famous Manhattan contemporaries. Of course, not everyone in the neighbourhood agreed with him. These days, Catholic attendance was down all over the city, but especially in this parish. Or was it a diocese or something? Whatever. He wasn't Catholic. Maybe Matt would know.

Spider-Man swung closer, aiming for the bell tower. Just as he passed into the open belly that held the bell, he caught a glimpse of the clock. It read as half-past ten. Perfect. The night was still young, and with any luck, Yuri wouldn't be blaming him for any late-night-induced headaches tomorrow. They came to a stop together, Spider-Man setting Yuri down after two smooth steps.

As soon as she was on her own two feet, Yuri started to wander the circumference of the tower. It was tenebrous, lit only by the overwhelming city lights that leaked in from the outside. Off to the side was a small duffel bag that Spider-Man had left there himself, containing a change of clothes and some non-perishable snacks that he'd stashed. Luckily, it didn't look like the rats had gotten to it. The centrepiece of the room was the immensely-sized but idle bell. She stopped in front it, commenting, "Odd choice for a meeting place. But hey, at least it's private?"

"This is Our Lady of Saints' Church," Spider-Man murmured. "I come here sometimes to hang out, when the staff is asleep."

"That legal?"

"Absolutely not. So, what's on your mind?"

Yuri went to the nearest wall without a word. Bracing her back, she slid until she was sitting and then patted the space beside her. Obedient as a puppy, Spider-Man strolled over to take up her offered seat. They stayed like that, in companionable silence, hands nearly touching. She spoke before things got uncomfortable.

"I wanted to talk to you about today... and yesterday too, actually."

"Which part?" he prompted, to which she responded with a stern, "Don't interrupt. Not yet."

Crossing her arms over her knees, she continued. "The whole "team-up" thing... You were right. I shouldn't have shot that man the way I did. It was deliberate and it was wrong, but I guess I just wasn't thinking in the moment."

A relieved breath escaped Spider-Man, one he hadn't even known he'd been holding. It was like a weight was lifted off his shoulders. Suddenly he could relax again. All that repose was torn away with Yuri's next word.

"But," she bit her bottom lip. "Is it bad that I don't really regret hurting him? I know my actions were wrong, and I'd take them back if I could, but Jesus... Seeing those Demons fall down around us, feeling my fists hit their faces, after all they did to this city, to me, to you... Isn't it satisfying? Isn't that why you do it? For that feeling?"

Spider-Man swallowed as he mulled over a reply. "Not at all. What you're describing sounds an awful lot like revenge."

"Does a little bit of revenge have to be wrong?"

"No. You're right to feel that way, but that's not why I chose to be Spider-Man, and I'm sure that's not why you chose to be a cop."

Whatever confidence Spider-Man might've had in that statement was lost when Yuri looked away. It was as if a switch had been flipped. Spider-Man couldn't see her face, but he could feel the shame wafting off her in flurries. For a single second he realized that he didn't really know Yuri at all. Nothing past their first meeting, anyway. He knew she had a mother, but that was about it. Her motivations for joining the force were a mystery to him. Then again, Yuri didn't truly know him either. Perhaps the time was past-due to change that. Christ, why did it have to scare him so damn much?

"I had an uncle," he began. Yuri's eyes snapped back to him, at-the-ready to absorb every bit of the story. "My father's brother, actually. His name was Ben. He and his wife raised me after my parents passed away. This was way before you met me, but when I first got my powers I was really young. A dumb kid, literally, and a dumb kid with no ideals to boot. I hated the world and almost everyone in it, but I loved my aunt and uncle. Like, a lot. I wanted to make them proud in every way possible, but more than that, I wanted to do my part to support them financially. We'd always struggled with money, so after some spider bit me and transferred their strength to me, I figured that I could earn a quick buck by beating people up and showing off."

"That was why I invented the "Spider-Man" persona. It wasn't for heroics' sake. Hell, it wasn't even for fun. All I wanted was money, and a little glory on the side didn't hurt either. Things started out innocent enough—a few gigs on television, a couple of wrestling matches... I thought I was being useful, and I guess I started out with good intentions. In the end though, I was just being selfish. I couldn't act when it mattered most."

"There was this one time, after my biggest fight yet, when I could've stopped a crook. Could've creamed him easily," here he almost choked. The emotions felt fresh, like a wine left to ferment, growing stronger with the passage of years. "-But I let him get away because I wasn't a cop. It wasn't my place, not my job, not my problem. 'He has a gun', I thought. 'You don't want to get involved with that', so I let him go. That same guy killed my uncle not long afterwards."

A quiet sound from Yuri caught Spider-Man's ears, but he pressed on. "I don't think I need to say that I took things a bit more seriously from then on out. Sure, I caught the guy myself, single-handed, but it didn't change anything. My uncle was still dead, and nothing, not even revenge, could make me feel better about that."

There was a period of silence where Yuri just processed the backstory dump. Spider-Man internally winced whilst he waited. It'd been years since he spoke so openly about Uncle Ben, to anyone. Mary Jane or his late Aunt weren't exceptions. Sure, they knew about Uncle Ben, but he never went deep into the details about his death, or his own feelings on the matter. He felt like he'd laid his chest bare on an examination table or an execution block, like his heart could be stabbed at any moment. Just when the quiet became unbearable, she shifted beside him. Their shoulders were touching, and her waist curved into his.

"...I'm sorry, Spider-Man. I can see now why you do what you do."

She didn't elaborate, a fact that Spider-Man quickly caught onto. He'd been hoping for some reciprocation, a mutual sharing of sorts. The radio silence from her side bothered him a bit, but it was understandable. One day, she might yield more information on her motives, but for now, he was just glad that they had this level of trust at all.

"Don't be. It happened a long time ago. I'll never really be over it, but I've moved on, distracted myself, dulled the experience."

"I know what you mean." Her head dropped into her hands. "I'm not sure how to transition into this after that, but the Demons thing? That was only half of why I called you..."

One of her hands laid itself on his collarbone, just above his chest. Spider-Man's half-brewed inquiry died in his rapidly drying mouth. At first he was confused, though her intentions were made more clear as the hand crept up to rest against the nigh-invisible seam of his mask. It was like a pit had opened up in his gut, or a giant stone had been dropped into his stomach. Spider-Man felt a fingernail roll the fabric back a centimetre or so, explaining what she couldn't verbalize. He shuddered in turn, almost slinking away.

"What's wrong?" she whispered.

"N-Nothing. It's not like I'm horrifically deformed or anything. I look fine. No spider stuff that you can see. It's just..." His jaw opened and closed a few times, the thoughts he couldn't say racing through his head. The mask was an item of comfort? A safety barrier? Did his secret identity mean so much to him that he couldn't even share it with the woman he was dating? Was it because he was so young? She'd never seemed to mind, and surely she knew or at least suspected by now. Did he fear betrayal, after MJ's sudden departure? No, he definitely didn't blame her for leaving to focus on herself. There were no bitter feelings there, just sadness. Was it self-consciousness?

Whatever the reason, he needed to let this go. Yuri seemed to agree.

"It's just what? I can only go on like this for so long, Peter."

A shiver wracked Spider-Man at the sound of his name, one that definitely wasn't borne of the cold. This was the first time he'd heard her say it, and the result was a rush of chemicals that simultaneously excited and affrighted him. He'd almost forgotten that she knew it. Hell, the last time anyone had called him that must've been his most recent visit with Miles. Jesus, had it been that long? Did he really have so few friends outside the suit these days? Maybe it was time to reconnect with some old high school, college, and Bugle acquaintances, now that MJ was out of town.

"Peter". His mind replayed that moment. Yuri's voice had been stern but considerate, like she was chastising a child. All of the sudden Spider-Man felt foolish for his stubbornness, his shyness. More words from Yuri snapped him back to reality.

"-Could probably piece it together from the information I have, but I want you to be comfortable with showing me."

Swallowing down his misgivings, Spider-Man ducked his head once, then twice. A nod. She got the message, meeting his eyes through the mask as she scooted closer. The mask moved slower at the start, which Spider-Man hated. He would've much preferred if she ripped it off quickly, like a band-aid. It clung to the slight stubble of his chin, then crept over his ears. His heart was hammering a hole through his ribcage, trying to escape. The lenses left last, and real light filtered into Peter's lowered, blinking eyes. At last, he looked up.

Fascinated, Yuri's gaze fixated on his face. The mask hung limp in the scaffold frame of her hand. She broke him down and built him back up like he was a clue at a crime scene. Peter felt less like an ogled zoo animal and more like a suspect under a lamp. Her eyes trailed over his nose and forehead, lingering on his own eyes with an intensity that made him want to shrink as only Ant-Man could. So far her reaction gave nothing away. Peter stomped on the urge to hide his head under an arm, or turn away as he waited for a resolution. A tide washed away her shrewd sediment to reveal a softer expression.

She didn't say anything, choosing instead to kiss him. It was quite sudden, so sudden that he never got a chance to catch a breath. Peter's lips came alive, neurons firing in an escalating cascade of bliss. He was alive and dying at the same time, poisoned and high. Her hand fitted itself under his jaw, dropping the mask to the floor. The "toxin" in her fingers spread to Peter's face, and it fluctuated between numbness and sensory overload.

Shit, was this love? And so soon?

Yes. God damn it, he'd fallen, and hard.

Before Peter could fully register these feelings, they were rolling over. He found himself on his back, Yuri laying on her side, half-draped across his body. Eager to find her lips again, Peter propped himself up on his elbows. The first move was his this time. His fingers found their way through her hair to curve against the nape of her neck. The skin was smooth and soft, in stark contrast to the hard barriers she tended to construct around herself.

Leaning into him, Yuri allowed another long kiss. Just as she started to slip the tongue, Peter playfully pulled away. He pressed two tender pecks to her head in compensation, one on her chin, and the second in her hair. Her nose sat nestled in the crook of his shoulder, their chests pressed together so Peter could feel the touch of her breaths.

"Nice to meet you, Peter," she mumbled.

"Captain..." he returned.

SpiderNerdArmy: -embedded image- 'Nother new Spider-Man gif. That time he got stuck on top of that crane.

Reply from Blue_Jae: Wasn't that eight years or so ago? He was so smol.

Reply from SilenceIsNotGolden: They grow up so fast.

Reply from lyokoMARVELanime: -embedded image- "I've made a terrible mistake"

Reply from DiRunner: -embedded image- New caption: "I immediately regret this decision"

The added bonus that Peter was a handsome individual pleasantly surprised Yuri.

She'd always found Spider-Man to be attractive in figure, but that was a superficial observation, and one she'd barely acknowledged until recently. That first 3am encounter had been the clinching factor. After that, she was hopelessly hooked. The sight of his maskless face was thankfully enough to sate her for now.

It was a good face. An ordinary face, but a good face. Spider-Man was no movie star, but he had a well-defined jaw, nose, and hairline. He had a full head of healthy brown hair, and the most annoying and yet enticing little flyaway locks that would hang in his face. The eyes were probably her favourite part, bright caramel irises with an open, puppy-dog-like quality to them. Undoubtedly a catch.

He was about as old as she'd expected. A little younger, maybe, but not by much. She'd known that he had to be under thirty. Still, it was... surreal, seeing his face. Christ, if any of her coworkers knew...

"Hurry up," Yuri yelled over her shoulder. She peered at the city from the tower-top, positioned outwards, back to Peter as he dressed. They'd agreed to do some sight-seeing before daylight, but time was ticking.

In between grunts and the rustles of clothing, he called back, "Still don't know if this is a good idea. Us being seen together... S'not smart."

"Just because I was on the evening news, doesn't make me a celebrity. Only old people watch the news anymore."

"I watch the news sometimes..." he mumbled under his breath, voice like a child. His petulant tone turned high when Yuri made a motion to turn. "Don't look. I mean, you can look if you want, but- Actually, just don't look, please. I can't concentrate on changing."

Yuri rolled her eyes but obliged him by looking away. As much as she wished she could catch a glimpse, flattering him was more important for the moment. "Who knew that under that skintight suit you'd be such a prude?"

A pause, then his voice at her ear. She nearly jumped at the startling silence of his approach. "Who said it's because I'm a prude?" he breathed. "Maybe I just get distracted easily..."

With that, Peter repelled them down with his webs. All the way to the street, Yuri shivered. She worked hard to convince herself it was the cold. They crossed into Midtown on foot. Walking side-by-side, in civilian clothes, with their hands joined, Yuri finally felt like they were a real couple. The normality couldn't last, of course, but she loved it all the same.

At one point they passed an open pub, its lit windows and neon "OPEN" sign beckoning invitingly. Yuri considered entering, then recalled turning down a similar invitation from her female friends' earlier that day. An irrational paranoia of meeting them in such a sprawling city made her decide against any bars, and probably for the better.

They strode in safety, self-assured in the shared knowledge that he was Spider-Man, and she a capable cop. The fear of mugging was practically nil. Through the aching of her legs, the huffing of her lungs, and the burning of her heart, Yuri was content. The couple's combined confidence carried them to Times Square, then the strip of theatres that made up Broadway.

Broadway was brilliantly bright, so bright in spots that Yuri almost forgot it was night. The place brought back old, girlhood memories. The first Broadway production she ever saw was Phantom of the Opera. Her father had taken her there, uncharacteristically, since he never seemed to have enough time to spend with his daughter. Something he always seemed to have enough of was cash, cash that could buy Broadway tickets and other expensive bribes. Later, she learned the truth of his extra income, and all those happy memories of the theatre were soiled and soured.

"Look, they're putting on Grease again," Peter pointed out as they passed a sign. His shoulder bumped into hers, affectionate, teasing. Then, to Yuri's surprise, he started to sing. "Y'know, summer dreams, ripped at the seams~." If not for Peter's terrible pitch control, he'd have the voice of an angel.

"You know Grease?" Yuri sounded dubious. "Isn't that shit a bit dated for you?"

"My Aunt used to make me watch it with her on weekends, once a year. 'Know the whole thing by heart."

"When do I get to meet this Aunt of yours?"

"She died from Devil's Breath."

Yuri's arched brow dropped abruptly, along with her mood and organs. Parents, Uncle, Aunt... Christ, who did this man have left, anyway? Maybe it's just me, her mind realized. Just me...

Half-tone-deaf, and voice hoarse from past cigarettes, she rasped out the rest of the song, "But oh, those summer nights..."

A slow grin spread on his face.

Richie_Seymour67: Do you want to know the REAL reason Spider-Man is an asshole? Cheeky fucker is flipping n' shit all over the place while I'M stuck in traffic.

For the rest of the night and into the early morning they exchanged lines. Grease became a bit of a bantering game to them. They flung songs at each other like they were bullets, one snickering when the other couldn't remember the next exact lyric. Seeing the time, Yuri finally felt tired enough to let them part ways. Her throat throbbed and her cheeks stung from smiling, but she was as high as a helium balloon.

She slept like a log at her apartment until her alarm let her know when to wake. All her dreams were wistful and full of fancy, revolving around Spider-Man in some shape or fashion. Her waking moments for the next couple of days were no exception. She often wondered if she affected him nearly as much as he affected her, and more importantly, if he knew how hard she had it.

Peter Parker may have remained at the forefront of Yuri's thoughts, but her mother wasn't far behind. Each passing day piled on another half-dozen or so texts. Soon, the mounting messages were unavoidable in the attention they demanded. This was a problem that had to be addressed.

After announcing her intentions with a single text, and receiving a curt confirmation in turn, Yuri showed up unceremoniously at her mother's doorstep. She knocked quietly, but that was enough for the keen-eared Mrs. Watanabe. It didn't take long for the door to open. They stared at each other, Yuri torn between hugging her or bolting. On the other hand, Mrs. Watanabe looked more concerned with barely curbing a scolding right there in the hallway.

Yuriko Watanabe's mother was a small woman—finite, but fierce. Perhaps that was where Yuri had gotten her own fiery nature from. The men in her family were all more mellow. It would certainly explain why she couldn't get along with her mother worth a damn. Opposites attract, and likes repel, as the stupid saying went...

"So, my own daughter finally remembers I'm alive," she spoke with a smile, but a slight, biting tilt to her tone betrayed the bitterness beneath the surface.

Almost wishing she'd say no, Yuri asked, "Are you going to let me inside?"

To Yuri's disappointment, her mother didn't deny her entrance, disappearing from the doorway to allow her access. When next Yuri saw her, she was at the oven, heating some soup. Yuri drifted inside like a wraith, closing the door behind her. Without looking at her, the grey-haired woman started to speak anew.

"So? How's life? I heard you helped Spider-Man out the other day."

As Yuri settled herself before the kitchen table, some childhood memories came back in a rush. The smell off the oven reminded her of bowls of the same soup, served to her after school. Her mother's hand patting her cheek, her father coming home for dinner... "Yeah, I did."

"Be careful with that man, Yuriko, if he even is a man. He may have saved us from that horrible 'Devil's Breath' debacle, but he's still dangerous."

Here therein lay the core issue of Yuri's relationship with her mother: every statement that came out of her mouth seemed designed to displease her. Sighing, Yuri said, "Mom, I know what I'm doing. Spider-Man is a great asset to my precinct, and the city."

"But you can't control him."

I don't need to control him. I'm dating him, Yuri wisely left these words unspoken.

Continuing, Mrs. Watanabe said, "All I'm asking is that you be careful. I've never seen the city so crazy since those terrorist attacks. First your work blows up, and now-"

"I'll be fine, Mom."

"Alright alright, changing the subject. I worry is all. How's your love life? I want to have grandchildren someday... preferably before I'm dead and in the ground."

So desensitized was Yuri to this spiel that she started to tune it out, only nodding or shaking her head when it was expected of her. Steaming soup appeared in front of her, and Yuri stirred it with a spoon. She'd given up long ago of stopping her Mom from saying such things. It was just one of her quirks. That didn't mean that she enjoyed putting up with it, though.

"-The last person you went out with wasn't even a man, but at least she was someone-"

"I gotta go."

"But you've barely had a bite-"

"Call at the precinct," she murmured, and with that lie on her lips, she went out.

Chapter Text

Clothes Off

Hours had passed since Yuri's fleeting visit with her mother, and still her thoughts lingered on it. Grinding her teeth, she gazed aimlessly out on the small corner of Chinatown that she could see. Dusk had settled over the city, but New York was a nocturnal creature, reborn with each night anew. Alone on the station's roof, Yuri tried to come to terms with her retreat. She'd been a coward, running away like that, unable to deal with the unpleasant memories that were only half her mother's fault.

Mrs. Watanabe had always been a bit overbearing, but things took a turn for the worse when Mr. Watanabe landed himself in legal trouble. Instead of supporting her daughter, Mrs. Watanabe withdrew from the world into herself. When she eventually bounced back, it was with a vengeance. She was as strict as ever and just about unbearable to live with.

Something like teenage rebellion spiked through Yuri. Back in the day, whenever Yuri was sick of maternal smothering or paternal pressure from her policeman-father, she'd act out. Usually she would sneak out for some harmless fun—find weed with her friends, sleep over at her boyfriend's—stupid stuff to keep her happy at home. Except Yuri wasn't a teenager anymore, and she'd outgrown those childish distractions. She lived alone, away from her mother, and no amount of frustration would make her...

Oh, fuck it.

Only one person could help Yuri forget her worries. Before she could stop them, Yuri's fingers were punching in Peter's phone number. The tone in her ear was interrupted by his punctual answer. Already at his opening line, Yuri felt the stress start to slip away.

"Nyeh, what's up doc?"

"I want to go swinging," Yuri said bluntly. "How fast can you get to the temp precinct?"

"Pretty fast. Just have to wrap up this foiled drug deal." A deep, almost desperate inhale rattled through the speaker, followed by a snicker. When next he spoke, it was with Spider-Cop's guttural growl. "Yep, that's definitely cocaine, Cap'n. No doubt."

Yuri's sputtering gasp was slightly less loud than his snort.

"Though maybe I'd better test it again," he sniffed. "...ReLAX. I'm just teasing."

"You're a brat."

"But you love me," retorted Peter as he usually did, and when his smug claim when unchallenged, he added, "I'll be there in ten."

Those ten minutes were going to be torture; Yuri just knew it. Her eyelids slid closed, but thoughts continued to play out on the insides of them. She imagined Spider-Man leaving the drug deal, triumphant, muscles rippling under his suit as he swung. Pull your mind out of the gutter, the cop chided herself, but these thoughts proved to be as persistent as her previous mopings about her mother.

Her blood began to heat, concentrating in pools around each cheek. A third reservoir was collecting at her crotch before Yuri snapped back to her senses. This was just a swing around town, nothing more. She wouldn't allow it to become something more. Not yet. Not, yet, she repeated to her beating heart when it raised its protest.

JLA619: -embedded image- Begone, illicit drug dealers. Spidey's on the block. #spideyshots

Reply from Alcatraz1998: Sick shot! Why do his webs look strangely comfortable?

Reply from TheSecretRecipe01: I want Spider-Man to web me.

Reply from Jef_Mar: Same honestly. Edit: Wait, that sounds wrong. Not that way LOL.

Reply from TheSecretRecipe01: Yes, in that way.

Reply from NYCWallCrawler: You kids are gross :/. Fun fact though @Alcatraz1998, the webs are, indeed, very comfy.

Reply from PscSharkSarah: WEB ME PLS

Reply from NYCWallCrawler: gO To YOUR R O Om

"Going to get my girl," Spider-Man sang to himself as he hurried. He was halfway to the station and still impatient. In his mind's eye he could see Yuri waiting for him on the roof, effortlessly stunning and dressed in that leather jacket that he envied. Not many people could pull off leather without looking like a douche, in his opinion, but damn it did she do that jacket justice. That image of her never left his mind, eventually becoming a reality as he approached the precinct.

Spider-Man scarcely had his feet on the roof before Yuri threw herself into his arms. Taking her weight, Spider-Man reeled back a bit to stare at her. The act, though uncharacteristically clingy, was not at all unpleasant. He wondered what had her so high-strung; he wanted to ask, too, but never had the chance.

"Let's go," she said shortly.

"Any preference in mind for a place?"

"Anywhere so long as you take us there fast."

In the past, Spider-Man had always taken it slow with those rare passengers that he acquired. He never went full-tilt, even for MJ, always holding back for her own well-being. Giddy at his partner's permission, and at the prospect of entertaining her at a whole new level, Spider-Man chimed, "You got it. Hold on."

After fashioning and outfitting her with a web-harness, Spider-Man started slinging as per her request. The harness was crudely created, a simple silk band across her chest and shoulders that she could hold to if necessary, and an extra loop coming off the front to keep her attached to him. Although Yuri didn't vocally object to the webs, Spider-Man could see the slight disgust on her face. Still, she didn't complain, probably because her petition warranted an additional precaution.

They were blazing by buildings at breakneck speeds. As their momentum steadily increased, unbroken by obstacles, so too did his and Yuri's gasps. Their mounting velocity stole Yuri's breaths straight from her mouth, but for Spider-Man, it was merely a matter of exhaustion. Whooping with abandon, Spider-Man weaved through a fire escape and bounced off an adjacent wall. In the process, they disturbed one individual from their sleep. The person peered out their window to shake a fist, but Spider-Man was nonplussed by the offended witness. No one would see Yuri's face like this, and most New Yorkers never looked up anyhow, only ahead.

Somehow it wasn't enough. The squeeze around Spider-Man's waist demanded more, and that worried him. This thrill-seeking crusaded was highly atypical of her. Hell, Spider-Man remembered when she was too terrified to even try swinging, and that was fairly recent. Something was off, or something must've upset her. Why else the sudden heel-turn?

Time to cheer her up, he thought. She wanted a real ride? Fine. He was more than happy to humour her. Determined to resolve the situation, Spider-Man tightened his turns and headed in a new direction.

Avengers Tower loomed in front of them, ninety-three stories of steel, concrete, and glass. Dimmed windows indicated to Spider-Man that the occupants were either asleep or not at home. Constant as a lighthouse's beacon, the brilliant red "A" logo illuminated the entire structure. Not even the peak of his swing was sufficient to get them halfway up the structure. Spider-Man landed on slick glass and seamlessly transitioned into a run, reminding himself not to roll for the sake of the woman he wore as a backpack.

Within seconds the two of them were at the top, and yet Spider-Man showed no signs of stopping. "What are you-" exclaimed Yuri before her words gave way to a scream. Webs like elastics and coiled body like a slingshot, Spider-Man catapulted them over the very tip of that man-made mountain. They dropped like some misshapen anvil, going down, down, down. As the seconds passed the summit shrank behind them, becoming a speck whilst the streets grew into startling focus.

Spider-Man caught them with a web when they were close to the ground, and consequently saved them from splatting. Arms somewhat strained by the action, he smoothly curved their fall into another arc. Giggling shakily, Yuri buried her head in that space between Spider-Man's neck and shoulder. It was a good thing, too. There were some teenagers strolling the sidewalks close by who could've spotted her. Because of their phone obsessions, teenagers were the worst for catching pictures of Spider-Man at the most inopportune times. He was still bitter about the underwear incident...

A little shaken by the stunt himself, Spider-Man asked, "You g-good?"

"Oh yeah. W-wow. I'm either going to kill you or kiss you. That was crazy. Never do that again."


A pause, then a relenting sigh. "...Not without warning me."

"I thought you might like it," he cackled. "Nothing pleases me more than conquering that glorified bachelor pad that Stark calls a superhero-company headquarters. It's huge."

"Overcompensation, much?" snickered Yuri slyly, much to Spider-Man's surprise.

He choked out, "Y u r i," then recovered enough to talk normally. "You're bad today. Terrible."

"A bit. But thanks to you, I'm feeling much better."

Hearing that made all of his weariness worthwhile. Smile hidden by his mask, Spider-Man changed course for the precinct. Partway there he carefully conveyed Yuri from his back to his front so as to better monitor her. If he was being honest with himself, it was just because he wanted to have a view of her face. Thankfully it didn't take them long to make it back. Straight lines, less tricks, and more shortcuts had significantly truncated their travel time.

Limbs quaking a little, Spider-Man landed solidly on a stretch of wall under the roof. There he paused, shifting in place and adjusting his passenger. Her arms were around him, and her head hadn't left the crook of his neck for the entirety of the return trip. He could feel her legs over his, using him for support, not unlike a chair. They were close, closer than they'd been for a while.

Sometime later Yuri lifted her head so that their gazes were level. Her arm reached around and grasped his mask. Seeing as how their backs were to a near-empty parking lot, and high above it besides, Peter had no problems tolerating her taking it off. One moment he was seeing through the HUD of his mask, and the next his eyes were opening as if for the first time, unobstructed by any barriers. Now they were truly eye-to-eye, and Yuri seemed content to just stare at him for the moment. Peter wasn't about to complain; the view from his end was just as fascinating.

God, she was hot. Eloquence couldn't quite convey how hot she really was.

Adrift in these thoughts as he was, Peter hardly noticed the first time she really moved. She shifted a second time, and Peter registered with a start that she was practically in his lap. Excitement tingled at the tips of his toes and other extremities. He tried to shove it down, but his blood had begun to boil, unbidden. Within moments the heat grew into a familiar fever-ache, and he hardened.

She had to have felt. She had to. The Spider-Man suit had many useful features, but hiding a boner wasn't exactly one of its saving graces. In a fit of irrationality, Peter jolted and tried to dislodge her, mortified and horrified. He'd forgotten how high up they were, or the fact that jerking around at this particular moment would only make things worse. Yuri took it in stride, tightening her grip on him. It was almost soothing, and once Peter realized that she wasn't staring at him with scorn, he stilled. Yuri, on the other hand, had no intentions of staying stationary.

Reassured somewhat, Peter immediately reciprocated. At first it was just small movements, vertical and unidirectional. When their mutual timidity had worn off, they progressed into more bold movements. They ground against each other for a time, learning the rough outlines and basic shapes of their most hidden parts, completely silent if not for the loudness of their lungs and the hitches in their throats. Peter was acutely aware all the while of just how close they were, of just how flimsy a barrier their clothes were against their perfervid gyrations. Each layer felt ready to fall away at a moment's notice.

Over time their heads drifted together, taking cues from the rest of their bodies. Yuri's mouth hovered above his shoulder, not to kiss, but simply to share space. Drawn by a similar desire, Peter's teeth found her ear and tugged. One particularly potent lurch made Peter lose his balance. He compensated by blindly slapping a hand onto the bricks beside her head, where it promptly stuck. That seemed to be the signal Yuri needed to shake herself back to the present. Peter sheepishly came to his senses at the same time, stopping before he could push himself too close to the edge. The last thing he needed was to scrub clean the inside of this costume.

The sound of a door opening into the lot swiftly killed his erection. Remembering where they were, Peter rushed on all fours up the rest of the wall, depositing Yuri on the other side of the railing. A police officer, unaware of his audience, was rummaging in the back of a patrol car. Peter watched in a terse crouch, arousal temporarily doused and deflated. The darkness of the parking lot was barely a hindrance to his eyes. Having retrieved the item he needed, the officer returned to the building.

There was no chance of resuming their former activities now—not after such a scare. Peter forced himself to take deep breaths, mind racing in jumbled circles. Yuri squeezed his shoulder while he snatched his mask back from her free hand. The danger had passed, but not his panic or internal scolding. Stupid. Definitely stupid. So, so stupid.

Since when did he decide to dabble in near-exhibition? Sure, he'd done shit like this with Felicia, but never as the instigator, and never with such risky abandon. This location was far from ideal for that sort of fuckery... pun intended. Humping like teenagers right outside the police station... it was a precarious position, to say the least. What if they'd been caught like that? Shit, what had he been thinking?

You weren't, his mind reminded him. And neither was she. It's happened before.

He flushed at the remembrance of their first kiss, that 3AM encounter that had happened not far from here. Apparently this newest stunt was not an isolated incident. It was a problem they shared, but a pleasant one nonetheless. Peter just hoped it wouldn't get them into any trouble in the long term.

"Sorry," he muttered to Yuri.

"I started it. It was my fault." The contents of Yuri's words were apologetic, in theory. However, the tone with which she delivered them suggested otherwise. There was no hint of an apology in that respect. She tugged him to his feet, eyes blazing, but not with anger.

Brows briefly meeting above the bridge of his nose, Peter pulled her into a quick, hungry kiss. It lasted for a few frenzied seconds, broken only by Yuri's stern grunt. He ceased by her request, and their temples rested together. Without breaking the contact, she spoke. "I'm going to drive home so my coworkers don't wonder where I am. I want you to follow me to my apartment in fifteen minutes."

A nod in the dark disturbed the touch of their foreheads.

Tenesprim: Does Spider-Man usually carry people around?

Reply from analyticaloxymoron: Wouldn't be the first time.

Reply from Isplecen: Sometimes it's because he's rescuing them/carting them to the hospital

Reply from Tenesprim: This looked more like a joyride

Reply from analyticaloxymoron: Wouldn't be the first time either.

Reply from SpiderCat: Think it was Black Cat?!

Reply from Laughable_Lenelle: @SpiderCat Could've been anyone honestly. God, I hope Black Cat isn't back.

Reply from Obadijah: I'd pay good $$ for a Spider-Uber service.

The tap of knuckles on Yuri's window roused her from her repose. She left her seat and strode through the black of her apartment, dodging the shadow-shapes of furniture. Her gait bordered somewhere between a speed-walk and a jog, and she could scarcely stop her hands from trembling as she let Spider-Man in. There was a smoothness to his movements as he slithered inside, but that elegance was soon shattered when his ankle got caught on the bottom rail.

Yuri saved him from stumbling by catching him by the shoulders, then instantaneously shoved them into the wall. Without skipping a beat, Peter clutched her with equal fierceness and fervour. His mask came off with a swipe of her fingers and fell soundlessly to the floor. Impossible to see as it was, Yuri still felt a certain thrill when her thumb grazed Peter's face. His skin was burning hot to the touch, and his breaths were furnace-heated.

Apologetic and awkward, Peter started to say, "I don't have any-"

"I'm on the-"


As soon as the exchange ensued, it ended. No more words were necessary. Their lips and tongues clashed together with a vehemence that bordered on violence. Like a gasoline-lit fire, however, the kiss quickly died down into the steady warmth of a hearth. Somehow, in the midst of that madness, Yuri had lost her shirt. It was discarded somewhere in the room, but at the moment she could care less where it was, or who was the culprit. Peter already felt overdressed, and she told him as much with the way she clutched at his chest.

With a handful of cloth, she lead him along to the bedroom. They nearly tripped over one of her bags while walking backwards, but recovered quickly. Soft, nervous giggles dissipated the tension. There proved to be no substantial difference between the bedroom and the main living space; both were dimly lit, which Yuri appreciated. She was irrationally self-conscious, what with the walking around in a t-shirt-bra whilst steering a maskless superhero in tights. The lighting, or lack thereof, did a little to ease her nervous energy.

At the same time as her legs bumped the bed frame, Yuri's knees buckled. She was sitting on the mattress, observing in a sort of out-of-body manner as Peter pulled down her pants. "Hurry," she managed, and her permission prompted Peter to do just that. Just before they came off completely, Peter dipped his hands under the front of her jeans to play with her. Her concentration fogged, and a pleased sound voiced her approval. She tried to work on undoing his suit, but to her frustration, couldn't find a zipper or buttons or anything else to make the job easier.

Peter was quick to pick up on her attempt. "Shit," he swore, stumbling backwards. An amused Yuri leaned over the side of the bed to behold his struggle. Laying stretched out on the floor was the mighty Spider-Man, desperately trying to kick off his too-tight one-piece. The spectacle, with all its ridiculousness, was enough to send Yuri into giggle fits. Peter shot her a dirty look, bare legs burgeoning into the limited light. The look was too playful for her to take seriously, but she flattered him all the same. "Chastised" into silence, Yuri sat on the bed again, Peter soon following suit.

Her eyes didn't linger long on his naked body. Nothing she saw particularly surprised her; the suit had already given her imagination a fairly accurate impression of what was underneath. All of it was appealing, but it wasn't like seeing his face for the first time. This felt slightly inconsequential, less personal, though more compelling in other ways. Peter stretched out a hand, paused, and then slid her bra straps off her shoulders. Yuri undid the back of it herself and idly tossed it.

Darkness shrouded them like a protective cloak. Although they were alone, the dark alleviated Yuri's anxieties—both the irrational fear of being caught, and the novelty of being bare before him. She felt exposed, both in body and soul, but the lack of light helped.

"We sure?" whispered Peter, and suddenly Yuri felt a lot more brave by comparison. He sounded at least twice as uncertain as she, though there was an unmistakable undercurrent of lust. His question also had a pinched quality to it, like he was dutifully preparing for disappointment.

"I want this." She spoke confidently, and before her courage could fail her, gently bowled him over.

A whine whistled through his teeth at the change in position, though he permitted it with no less excitement. Clambering atop him, Yuri grasped his length with her left hand. For a moment she just fondled it, feeling out where everything was. Then, when she was ready, she carefully lined herself up and eased him inside. Taking the tip made her moan ever so modestly, and Peter sighed softly on his end.

They were together, physically and figuratively. Yuri could feel every contour of him, and he her. The intensity of feeling started at her entrance, where she was most sensitive, before fading as the penetration went deeper. Neither one of them seemed compelled to rush. There was minimal movement as they quietly acquainted themselves with each other. If there was any pain, Yuri never noticed it, too lost in the feeling of him. "Hold me," she ordered. He obliged, and then that state of shared rest was over.

Pinning Peter's shoulders, she started to raise herself off his erection. About halfway there, she slid downwards again. That seemed to be Peter's cue to participate, because on the next, teasing lift, he contributed a thrust. A flash of sensation momentarily froze her where she was, and Yuri chewed the inside of her mouth to muffle a moan. Taking pity on Peter's quiet, complaining cry, she let him fill her again.

Ever-so-gradually, they established a set tempo, but one that would build and subside according to her impulses. Every movement was tailored to her comfort, and Peter was just along for the ride. She swayed, rocked, and rolled her hips in a rhythm that only she could hear. Her body was calling all the shots; whatever it craved, she gave. When it asked, she obeyed, and when the urge hit her, she acted. Peter was hitting all the right spots for his part, and, if his breathing was anything to go by, was enjoying everything just as much as she.

Face flushed, Yuri felt the fast thrusts slow and soften in their force. A shaky gasp escaped Peter's agape mouth, followed by a deep inhale, and she knew he was fighting not to finish. Truthfully, it was kind of adorable, and Yuri took a certain pleasure in watching him squirm and struggle. Once he'd staved off his orgasm and rallied sufficient confidence, he sat up with her and resumed. His arms flowed around her, hands clasping behind her back.

Continuing with him so close offered a novel opportunity to stifle her groans. Yuri leaned in to kiss him. He met her halfway, a hum thrumming in his throat. Chests pressed together, they kissed in relative silence, continuing their synchronous dance until Yuri had to reel back.

Something was happening inside her, something she wanted, badly. Yuri was perched on some precarious cliff. Each stroke, each wriggle, nudged her closer to climax. Extending the pauses between each reunion helped to coax it out, so she took the time to grind her clit against Peter's belly. His hands brushed her stagnant pelvis, daring to curve over her folded calves.

Working as a team, they managed to encourage her to that much-yeared-for crescendo. The culmination of their efforts was outstanding, even if her outward reaction was rather underwhelming. She came with a quiet mewl, throwing her head back before bowing it. Her thighs trembled on either side of him, resting over his toned hips.

It was all the more pleasant because it was a surprise. In the beginning she hadn't expected to reach such a potent end. Nothing in her past realm of experience could've made her predict it, or entirely prepare for it. Sure, she'd hoped, but never banked on crossing that threshold, at any time or with any partner.

Still basking in the afterglow, Yuri barely realized that Peter had rolled them back over. Her delirium didn't last long. Freed from his former obligations, Peter pistoned into her, hard. Yuri welcomed the pounding with choked squeaks and spread legs, though she got the impression that even now he was holding back, going at a gentler pace for her sake. This was a man who could carry cars, so she had no doubt that if he miscalculated for even a moment, he could break a human body in half.

Unsurprisingly, Peter's final stretch was a short one, seeing as how he'd been so close before. Quite frankly Yuri was impressed that he'd endured as long as he did. There was a period of frenzied speed that petered out into frequent pauses. Yuri's nails scrabbled at his spine, and as he finished pumping into her, the clawing turned into tender rubs. Peter shivered under her ministrations, slumping against her when he was spent. His stomach was wet for more reasons than one, but Peter didn't seem to mind. As she absently ran her fingers through his hair, Yuri made a mental note to wash the sheets sometime tomorrow.

Over time the two untangled themselves from each other. Their eyes met, and Yuri nodded her assent for him to stay. Sidling up to her, Peter rested his feet on hers and pulled the covers over their sweat-drenched bodies. In his embrace, Yuri reflected on how fast everything had happened, marvelled at the fact that she was cuddling Spider-Man in her own bed. Spider-Man had never been a stranger, exactly—not since their first introduction on the docks. Back then her only priority was putting away the Kingpin, but in the span of a few days she'd learned Spider-Man's name, seen his face, and slept with him in short succession.

And she wouldn't trade a single, wonderful moment... not for the whole world.

Sleep came swift and easy for them. So easy, in fact, that Yuri slept in an extra hour. Her usual alarm had gone off some time ago, only for Yuri to switch it off and fall back asleep. In the end, the thing that truly roused her was a loud knocking on the door.

Peter sprang out of bed at the same time as Yuri jolted upright—naked, hair mussed, and all. He collapsed to the floor with a crash, cursing colourfully. Meanwhile, Yuri was focusing on who could possibly be in her building. Few people were allowed to be buzzed in on her behalf, and all of them were friends.

Right then the confused voice of Detective Lee drifted through the door, confirming her suspicions. "Hello?"

Too late, Yuri thought. She must've heard Peter. The woman was a cop, and a dedicated one at that. Unless Yuri answered the door, she might panic and break it down herself. Time to act fast.

"Yuriko? Are you in there?" an uncertain Terri continued to call, growing more alarmed by the second.

Legs like jelly, Yuri tossed the sheets aside and made a break for the door. Halfway there she hissed at a pale-faced Peter, jerking her arm at the bathroom even as she slipped into a housecoat. "Grab your shit and get dressed."

He saluted, scrambling to gather bits and pieces of his costume from around the bed. Yuri shut the bedroom off from the rest of the apartment, effectively hiding him from prying eyes. This was not the awakening she would've wanted, especially after the perfection that was the previous night. She would have to summon all of her acting abilities to not appear dishevelled in front of one of her top officers. Perhaps, if questioned, she could pass Peter's voice off as a random bedmate. Terri had a gossipy streak to her, but Yuri could trust her to at least keep that a secret. When she was somewhat decent, she unlocked and opened the door.

Framed in the doorway and clutching a DVD case stood Terri Lee. Upon further inspection, Yuri recognized the cover of the DVD as her own copy of Grease. Dumbfounded as she was, Terri regained enough of her composure to speak. "You told me to drop this off sometime before work, remember?"

"That I did. I'll just take that, then..." replied Yuri, receiving the offered movie. On the outside she was cool, calm-faced, and collected. Internally, she was screaming at herself for not remembering this detail of their earlier conversation.

The movie may have passed hands, but Terri only dimly acknowledged the exchange. Her eyes were wide and a tremor travelled down her shoulders. It was like she was in another world, far removed from the current one. Concern for her friend and paranoia over Peter overcame Yuri. Then, Terri tilted her head to the side, gawking at something over Yuri's shoulder. Yuri instinctively mimicked her, turning to see the thing that had her friend so immobilized.

Right by her window was Spider-Man's mask. The brilliant red, textured material was a dead giveaway. It was inside-out on one side from its hasty removal, exposing the inner circuitry of a lens. Though crumpled and creased, it was undoubtedly the real thing. Stepping past Yuri, Terri raised a single, incriminating index finger.

"What the hell is that."