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the spider and the spy

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“I’ve got eyes on our target.”

 

She ducks into an alley and trades her black leather jacket for a...flannel. She shudders overdramatically as she puts it on and curses her generation for having the most horrible fashion sense. She trades out her boots for brightly colored sneakers and leaves the alley. She watches as her target makes his way into what appears to be a Thai restaurant.

 

“I’m going in,” she says, before casually entering the Thai restaurant.

 

She spots her target at a table right in the middle of a restaurant and thinks to herself about how he’s making this too easy for her. Honestly, with her capabilities, this case seems a little below her paygrade but she’s not going to tell her boss that. Well, at least not until she brings this loser in.

 

She chooses a table that’s in the corner of the restaurant but still gives her a clear path to approach and observe her target. Just then, a woman dressed like she’s stuck in the 90s walks over to the table and gives her target a warm hug. She tries to remember what she read in his file and identifies the older woman as his aunt.

 

For the next few minutes, she spends her time watching her target eat his dinner and she can’t help but think that for a fairly small man, he has a surprisingly large appetite.

 

...And also about how much of time she’s wasting babysitting this very irrelevant teenage boy.

 

What she doesn’t expect, however, is for him to lock eyes with her. She averts her eyes and opens up her menu, playing it off as an accident but she catches him staring back at her suspiciously.

 

If her boss finds out she blew her cover on a mission as simple as this, she’d never get the promotion she was hoping for. She sighs, feeling his gaze on her as she orders a drink as to not look even more suspicious to him. As she waits for her drink to arrive, she thinks of all the potential ways to save her cover from being blown and comes to best solution of all.

 

She finishes her drink as soon as it arrives and smirks, already knowing her plan is about to work. She stands up, fixes her hair and approaches their table just as they’re about to leave the restaurant.

 

“Hi,” she starts, waving awkwardly at her target and his aunt once she reaches the table.

 

What? Communication has always been one of her weaknesses.

 

“I uh...I’m sorry if I creeped you out with all that staring I was doing,” she laughs nervously. “I just thought that you were really cute and I was kind of trying to gather the courage to ask you out but instead I, well…” she trailed off, looking down at her fingers.

 

Instantly, his aunt shoots up from her seat and visibly swoons, “Aw, you’re such a sweetheart! I’ll give you two some time alone.”

 

Her target, the boy, looks up at her with his mouth open--- almost as if this is the first time a girl has asked him out.

 

Jesus.

 

“I’m Mary Jane,” she says, brushing her brown curls out of her eyes and holding out her hand for him to shake.

 

“Peter. Parker,” he says, still confused as he takes her hand.

 

“If I didn’t know any better, I’d say this is the first time you’ve been asked out by a girl,” she laughs.

 

Peter does nothing but shrug and sputter. She tries her hardest to keep herself from rolling her eyes. This boy is taking too much of her time. He’s still trying to form an actual sentence!

 

Deciding to help him out and get this mission over with, she asks him, “Are you doing anything right now?”

 

“Uh, no, not really, why?”

 

“Great,” she grins and walks him out of the restaurant to where his aunt is waiting for him.

 

“Hey,” she says, putting on her sweetest, most innocent smile. “Is it okay if I steal your nephew away from you for a few hours?”

 

His aunt eyes her suspiciously for a split second and her smile never wavers. Finally, his aunt smiles and reminds him of his curfew before hugging him goodbye. She puts up the good girl act and pretends to have a massive crush on him for around 2 minutes before she walks him into the alley she was in before.

 

“Hey, are you sure we’re going the right way?”

 

“Oh, I’m positive,” she says, grabbing her leather jacket and putting it on. She swaps out the disgustingly fluorescent pair of sneakers for her pair of boots and sighs in relief.

 

“Why do you have clothes hidden in an alley?”

 

She rolls her eyes as she throws her sneakers into a dumpster, “You’re in danger. You need to come with me.”

 

She expects for this harmless teenage boy to follow her like all other gullible teenagers but she’s pleasantly surprised when he stays glued to the spot. He scratches his wrist and cocks his head to the side, “I don’t know who you are, but I don’t think I’m in trouble.”

 

“I didn’t say trouble, Peter. I said danger. Your life is in danger,” she lies, using the age old tactic that would normally get any civilian to blindly trust her.

 

“I’m not in danger. I think I would know if I was in danger,” Peter says, shaking his head and refusing to follow her.

 

“Look, I’m related to one of your aunt’s colleagues and I think your aunt might be in danger. I need your help,” she pleads, praying that her acting skills would help her.

 

“How do you even know she’s my aunt? I never even told you th-”

 

“Peter, I need you trust me.”

 

Peter stares at her blankly for a whole minute before he shrugs and decides to follow her to wherever she leads him. She can’t help but think about how he may not be the average, boring boy she thinks he is. Everything about him seems unusual. She has a horrible feeling that this mission isn’t going to be a total waste of her time, after all.

 

--

 

She watches with her arms crossed as Peter starts to wake up. The first thing he does is try to break out of the rope he’s been tied to the chair with.

 

“It took you long enough,” she rolls her eyes.

 

“What happened? Where did you take me? Who are you?”

 

“Easy, tiger,” she smirks at him. “I’ll answer all your questions, but first, you’ll have to answer mine.”

 

“I’m not answering your questions! Why can’t I remember anything?” Peter groans, hanging his head down low.

 

“Because I gave you a pill to knock you out,” she shrugs, as if it’s the most obvious thing in the world. “Relax, you drama queen. Your memories will be back in like 24 hours.”

 

“How did you even figure out my identity?”

 

“What identity?”

 

“Agent Jones! I see you’ve met your partner on your next mission,” her boss says, stepping into the room.

 

“My what now?!”

 

“Holy shit! You’re Nick Fury!”

 

“Woah, woah, woah, woah, woah. This kid? This harmless kid is my partner?!” she asks, her eyes almost bulging out of their sockets in disbelief.

 

“Don’t underestimate your partner just yet, Agent Jones,” Nick says, a smirk on his face as he looks at Peter. “It’s so nice to finally meet you, Spider-Man.”

 

Peter does nothing but gulp nervously.

 

“Spider-Man?! You’ve got to be kidding me, Fury.”

 

“Do I look like I’m kidding?” Nick says, raising a brow at her. He diverts his attention back to Peter, or well, Spider-Man.

 

“You know, it’s surprising that you never used your powers to get out of here, or to fight my agent back when she tried to take you in the first place.”

 

“I uh, I knew something was up with her from when I first saw her at the restaurant. You know, spidey senses. I didn’t want to blow my cover though, because she’d already seen me with May,” he explains nervously.

 

“Well, Spider-Man, my agent was not lying. I do need your help.”

“My help? You guys are S.H.I.E.L.D.! I’m pretty sure you’ve got it covered, and besides, I don’t do that whole gig anymore,” his voice changes and she senses that something’s bothering him. She doesn’t say anything, though.

 

“You want to know I found out about you, Parker?”

 

She watches as something clicks in his head and he hangs his head in defeat, “Tony.”

 

“Damn right. He told me to look out for you and I decided it was about time I fulfilled at least one of his wishes.”

 

The room goes silent for a while and she watches Peter’s expression curiously. He looks troubled, conflicted, but most of all, hurt. Finally, he shakes his head, “I’m sorry, I don’t think I could help you. I’m still not ready to go out there.”

 

“Who said anything about needing you out there? I want you on the inside, working with Agent Jones. You’re one of the only heroes with valuable knowledge about the villains we’re trying to take down and we could use you, with or without the suit.”

 

“I- I don’t know.”

 

“Well, think about it. You’ve got 24 hours, kid.”

 

With that, Fury leaves the room. She takes that as a sign to untie him and walk him out. She stops abruptly just before the exit, “This is a huge mission for me, Tarantula-Man. If Fury wants you on this, it must mean that you’re not completely useless to me. So, don’t blow it for us.”

 

-----

 

The weird encounter with freakin’ Nick Fury had been on his mind the whole night, which obviously meant he did not get enough sleep and was about to hand in a shitty, half-assed lab report to Ms Warren.

 

He knew there was only one person he could turn to.

 

“So…” Ned drawls out. “What did you want to talk to me about?”

 

He tells Ned everything, from the weird shield agent who was spying on him to meeting Nick Fury (which he still hasn’t gotten over, by the way).

 

“Ok, ok, dude,” Ned stops him. “You met Nick Fury?! That’s badass.

 

“I know, but do you think I should do it? After everything that happened with, you know,” Peter sighs, poking at his fries with a fork.

 

“You heard them. You don’t have to put on the suit. They want you for your knowledge, that’s all,” Ned says encouragingly.

 

“It will happen anyway,” Peter shrugs. “If I help them, I know somehow, it’s going to lead to me putting on the suit again. I don’t know if I’m ready to do that again.”

 

“Peter, listen to me. You clearly want to do this. Things happen when you put on that suit and you’re going to have to deal with it, whether you like it or not. Don’t let that hold you back from doing the one thing you’ve always wanted to do; help people.”

 

“But Ned,” Peter sighs, as he walks over to the trash to empty his tray with Ned on his tail. “What if I put on the suit and things go wrong, again? What if it ends up being- my spidey senses.”

 

“Huh?” Ned scrunches his nose in confusion and looks at his best friend.

 

“My spidey senses are going off,” Peter says, looking around frantically.

 

Ned scans their surroundings for any sign of danger, a super-villain that has some unfinished business with Peter, an active shooter in the school, anyone who looks even mildly suspicious...but he doesn’t see anything.

 

“Peter, I think you’re imagin-” Ned’s cut off by someone bumping into Peter, sending both of them to the ground. The crowd of students around them stop for a split second, before going about their own ways and side-stepping Peter and the student.

 

Peter looks up at the student lying on his chest, ready to apologise and help them up when the student looks down at him, “‘Sup, loser.”

 

“You?!” Peter shrieks, mildly scared of the shield agent with a terrifying smirk on her face.

 

He stands up and smooths down his clothes before looking at her with nothing but horror on his face, “You followed me here?!”

 

“I have been...observing you for the whole day,” she shrugs. She looks at Ned, who looks as shell-shocked as ever, “Who’s your friend?”

 

Peter closes and opens his mouth, debating whether or not he should answer her when she laughs, “I’m just kidding. I know who you are. Edward Leeds. Do you go as Ed or Ned?”

 

“Ned,” Ned says, a huge starstruck grin on his face.

 

Peter looks between them and frowns, pulling Ned away from her, “Don’t talk to her! She’s the creepy shield agent!”

 

She rolls her eyes, “Is there somewhere we can talk in private? Without the risk of you blowing my cover?”

 

--

 

“What are you doing here, Mary Jane?” Peter asks, once they’ve reached the nurse’s office that rarely has an actual nurse in there.

 

“Mary Jane?” Ned asks, looking between them. “Like the-”

 

“Save it, I’ve heard all the jokes.”

 

Ned shuts his mouth and retreats to the chair in the corner of the room.

 

“I’m here to wipe your memory.”

 

“What?”

 

“You know,” Mary Jane says, rolling her eyes as if talking to him was a huge waste of her time. “Wipe your memory! Erase the last 24 hours?”

 

“Why?” Peter asks, his restlessness starting to match hers.

 

“Because, you’re clearly not going to accept Fury’s offer and I’ve got better things to do than wait 24 hours to wipe your memory. I know what you’re going to say, so why not get it over with?”

 

“I was going to say yes!” Peter says, frowning at the tall girl in front of him.

 

“No, you weren’t.”

 

“Yes, I was!”

 

“Wait,” Mary Jane, or whatever her actual name was, stops. “Does that mean you’re going to be my actual partner on this mission?”

 

“Ned works with me too,” Peter says, motioning at the boy behind them. “He’s my guy-in-the-chair!”

 

“What? So, he’s supposed to be part of this mission too?” she says, looking back at the boy waving awkwardly at her.

 

Peter nods.

 

She groans and runs a hand through her hair, “I’ll call you.”

 

“You’ll call- how?” Peter asks as he watches her walk to the door.

 

She looks at him over her shoulder with the most deadpan expression he’s ever seen on anyone, “I’ll send a pigeon.”

 

“That’s very funny,” Peter says sarcastically, earning a glare from her. “I think you’re forgetting that you don’t have my number.”

 

She turns around to face him, “Dude, I work with SHIELD! I have both your aunt and Ned’s number on my phone. What makes you think I don’t have and know every detail about you?”

 

“I…” Peter stares at her in shock.

 

“That’s creepy,” Ned says.

 

She glares at Ned, “I’m not obsessed with him. It’s my job.”

 

“It’s still a creepy job,” Ned shrugs.

 

She ignores the two of them and leaves the nurse’s office with a frustrated sigh.

“So, what now?” Ned asks, looking at Peter.

 

---

 

Peter gets a call from an unknown number just as he’s walking past the Thai restaurant, on his way home from school.

 

Not thinking much of it, he answers the call. Almost immediately, he hears Ned’s voice, “Peter! Help me, I’m-”

 

Peter’s already ducking into the nearest alley, already regretting helping SHIELD, when Ned apologises and says it was just a fun prank. Peter relaxes and stops right in front of the alley, “Why aren’t you calling me from your phone?”

 

“Oh, right. The creepy shield agent needs our help.”

 

“What? Right now?” Peter asks, pulling his phone away from his ear and looking at the time at the very top of the screen. “But, I’ve got homework.”

 

“We’re in nearly all the same classes, Peter. I do too,” Ned sighs. “Come on, Peter! Creepy Shield Agent aside, don’t you think this is a little cool? I mean, Nick Fury wants your help.”

 

“Is he gonna come over here or do I have to knock him out again?” he hears a muffled voice on the other end of the line.

 

“Is that Mary Jane?”

 

“Yeah, she’s actually been waiting at the Thai restaurant for you. All undercover.”

 

“What?” Peter squeaks, and as he looks inside the restaurant, he sees her seated at a table and glaring right at him.

 

“Ok, ok, fine. What am I supposed to do? Go in?” Peter sighs.

 

“Yes, you dumbass,” he hears Mary Jane’s muffled voice. “Are you sure Fury got the right guy? I’m finding it hard to believe you’re Spider-Man.”

 

Peter takes a deep breath and ends the call, shoving his phone into his pocket before walking into the restaurant. When Peter spots her, he’s forced to do a double take because she’s got a red wig on. He can’t tell if it’s a wig or her actual hair because she’s wearing a beanie on top of it but he approaches her carefully.

 

“Nice hair,” Peter teases.

 

“This is my disguise,” she says, motioning for him to sit down.

 

“Why do you need a disguise? No one dangerous knows about, you know.”

 

“The world doesn’t revolve around you, weirdo. You’re forgetting that I work for,” she drops her voice to a whisper. “...Shield. People could recognise me easily.”

 

“And a new dye-job is supposed to help?” Peter asks, as she tugs on her beanie.

 

“It’s a wig. I’m supposed to be your girlfriend and statistics show that over 80% of American teens have dyed their hair unnatural colours,” she says, as a matter-of-factly.

 

There’s a beat, and then she chuckles, “I’m full of shit. I’ve always wanted to dye my hair red and I wanted to see if I could get used to being a temporary redhead.”

 

He’s always seen her with an intimidating frown on her face. She’s always looked at him as if he was a giant inconvenience and it was rather odd to see her joking around with him. Then, he remembers that she’s undercover and it would be weird if he had a girlfriend who frowned at him all the time. He shakes his head to stop himself from thinking too much, “So, what am I here for? Shouldn’t I be with Ned?”

 

“Ned’s currently hacking into your school database for reasons I can't elaborate on . I’m here to brief you on the mission, you know, so you don’t blow it for us.”

 

“Where is Ned? Shouldn’t he be briefed too?” Peter asks, looking around.

 

“Did you really think I’d let him near our expensive and top secret tech without properly briefing him? Relax, you’ll be reunited with your boyfriend soon enough,” she says, rolling her eyes and playing with the straw in her drink.

 

He opens his mouth to form some sort of retort, but judging by the mildly annoyed expression on his face, he decides against it, “Let’s just get this over with.”

 

“That’s the spirit!” she says sarcastically. “Alright. Starting next Monday, I’ll be transferring to your school-”

 

“Woah, woah, woah! Hold on! You’re coming to Midtown?!” he asks, his eyes nearly popping out of his head.

 

“Yes,” she says, her eyebrows furrowing as if it was expected of her to transfer to his school. “How would I have an excuse to talk to you all the time if I didn’t even go to your school? This makes my job easier.”

 

“So, you’re my girlfriend?” Peter asks.

 

“Calm down, tiger. That’s just my cover,” she smirks.

 

“I get it,” Peter rolls his eyes. “But it’s going to be hard convincing people that you’re my girlfriend because well, you’re...not...that bad looking. I know the guys in Midtown too, one look at you and they’d be all over you.”

 

She narrows her eyes and leans forward intimidatingly, “Are you hitting on me?”

 

“What? No! I’m just-- it’s the truth! You’re way out of my league! No one would believe that you’re interested in me ,” he says, honestly.

 

“Why not? You may be the most annoying partner I’ve ever had but you’re somewhat...good,” she says, and it’s so unexpected that it takes him a moment to register that she’s actually complimenting him.

 

“You don’t really hate me, do you?” Peter asks, tilting his head.

 

“You’re a giant waste of my time and I know I could complete this mission on my own, therefore making you completely useless to me. I don’t hate you, you’re just a nuisance,” she says, bluntly.

 

“Ouch.”

 

“I’m keeping it real with you,” she shrugs. “Anyway, the boys at Midtown Tech would not want to date me if I were at the very bottom of the social ladder--- you have nothing to worry about. I’ll be your girlfriend who just transferred to your school. To make it more believable, you’re going to have to take me out over the next couple of days to hangout spots where your friends from school would be at.”

 

“Do I have to lie to my aunt too? She knows about Spider-Man.”

 

“Jesus! How many people do you tell?”

 

“It’s only those two!” Peter raises his hands in defense.

 

“Fine, it’d be better for her not to get attached to me anyway. No one gets hurt this way.”

 

“Okay, it’s a deal,” Peter shakes her hand. “So, what do I do now?”

 

“Now,” she says, leading him out of the booth as she’s holding his hand. “You take me on a date.”