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A Different Reality

Chapter Text

“Gwen?” Peter scanned the rooftop for the familiar outline with the pale blue ballet slippers. They'd been playing Mario Kart in Miles’ room (much to the annoyance of his roommate) when she’d abruptly left, saying she “needed some air.” Miles had wanted to follow her but Peter had insisted. He knew the hollow, broken look that had crossed her face.

 

She sat, feet dangling over the edge of the building, impervious to the noise of the traffic below her with her head hunched over her phone. She turned to him, face a blank slate. 

 

“Do you know how hard it is to know that the one you love is just out of reach?”

 

He sat down beside her. “I thought that's what this was about.”

 

“Trust me when I say you don't know half of it.” Her gaze darkened, a shield protecting her once neutral expression. 

 

“Look, I know it's hard with the dimension differences and all that, but Miles isn't exactly out of reach. He's more like four floors down.”

 

A widened pair eyes was not the expression he was going for. The shield lowered, revealing a girl mixed between bewilderment and heartbreak. “What?”

 

“You like Miles.” Peter spoke slowly, “it's not that hard to believe. I mean,” he shrugged, “you’re both pretty blatant about it.”

 

The eyes only increased in diameter. “Peter, I have no idea what you're talking about.”

 

He raised his hands in surrender. “If you don't want to talk about--it that's fine with me. I'm here when you want to discuss it all.”

 

“No, seriously,” she squinted, “what do you mean ‘I like Miles’?”

 

“You do, don't you?” He couldn't quite place it, but it was seeming less like the truth by the second. “You two are always flirting with each other, I'm pretty sure there's bets for when it's going to happen. He likes you.” 

 

She groaned and cupped her face in her hands. “Why, does this always happen to me?”

 

He winced. “I feel like there’s something going on I don’t know about.”

 

“Look,” she leaned back and paused, choosing her words carefully, “I don’t like Miles  in any way more that as my best friend and partner in crime.” she put a hand up, blocking his next few questions that seemed to pour from his lips, “This happened with my Peter too and I’m just sick of it. I honestly don’t think I even like guys, okay?” She lowered her hand, revealing his stunned expression. “And if you’re against that whole thing because of whatever reason I’ll leave now and you can come up with some excuse.”

 

“Why would I have a problem with that? I was bitten by a radioactive spider -- I love anyone who’s not actively trying to kill me.” He met her eyes. “Do you want to talk?”

 

She scooted closer and leaned against him. He hadn’t realized how much she’d been shaking. 

 

Gwen gulped. “I’m in a bad spot and I don’t know what to do.” she paused for a second, taking a deep breath in. “My watch has some disadvantages.”

 

Both their eyes fell on the band of metal clasped around her wrist. She’d never explained how exactly she’d gotten it, but they all knew it was something important. After all, it was what let her travel within the dimensions.

 

Peter bit his lip. “What’s wrong?”

 

“You know the feeling when you met M.J? From the moment you first saw her, you knew she was the one you wanted to spend the rest of your life with? The only time you actually were grateful for that god-forsaken spider, because thanks to it you could tell she was the one?”

 

He raised an eyebrow. “I never told any of you that.”

 

“You never had to,” she leaned her head against his chest wistfully, “I know the feeling.”

 

“But…”

 

“But,” her face returned to its normally sullen expression, “I can’t get to her.”

 

He pondered the thought. “Then how did you meet her?”

 

“I can talk to her. When I got the watch, I noticed it had a flash drive inside. I checked it out and that’s when I found her. There were all these PDFs with comics, kind of like the ones they sell, but they were accurate. Each panel depicted something real that had happened in my life. I saw my entire future, sketched out for me page by page, but,” she met Peter’s bewildered expression, “none of you were in it. I mean Miles was,” she made a face, “I married him even. But, everything was completely different. We met a different way and I never even heard of Ham, Peni, or Noir. Not even you.”

 

She stood up and began pacing. “I knew something was off, so I looked at others and they were more accurate, but I worked for S.H.I.E.L.D and I still married Miles. There ended up being over 400 pages, all of them more accurate than the ones in my dimension, having details none of them should know, but violently off course. And,” she glared, “I always ended up married to a Peter or a Miles.”

 

Peter nodded slowly. “Where does she factor into this?”

 

“Context is important, Parker!” She glared icily. “She was at the bottom, with the rest of you. I finally found one that was accurate almost down to the letter, except it wasn’t finished and she was on the last page, with just a picture and a number.”

 

He sighed. “Let me guess, you texted it.”

 

“I mean, I am one of you spider people -- none of us are exactly well known for having good impulse control.” She grinned. “Just because we have spider sense doesn’t mean we have common sense.”

 

“That is sadly true. Now, are we finally getting to her?” 

 

“Do you know how much we hear you talk about M.J?”

 

“Fair enough.”

 

She continued. “I wasn't sure it would work. Phone numbers are finicky and some work while others refuse to exist. There wasn't much of a problem, though.”

 

“And she trusted a stranger?”

 

“It took a lot of proof of life pictures with a lot of different objects, from both ends, but we just seemed to click once we proved we weren't creepy middle aged pedophiles living in a basement,” the beginnings of a smile spread along her lips, “after the amount of times we'd seen each other balance shoes on our heads it's hard not to have some sort of fun.”

 

“So she's a dork?”

 

Gwen rolled her eyes. “I mean, she can be. I don't know, she wears flower crowns and gets excited about Alice in Wonderland, and has an entire dresser wallpapered in Broadway posters and pictures of her favorite characters, not to mention a backpack covered in buttons she got from Comic-Con. Though, I was bitten by a radioactive spider so who am I to judge?”

 

Peter shrugged. “So the big issue is that you can't get to her. I bet we’ll be able to find a way. 

 

Gwen glowered. “That's not the issue,” she held up her screen revealing a text, “this is.”

 

Peter's eyes flickered to the screen and grew wide. 

 

The message read “help me.”



Chapter Text

Miles wasn't entirely sure what was going on. 

 

Gwen had left abruptly, who was closely followed by Peter, leaving the rest of them confused as to what the heck was actually going on. 

 

When the two of them did return around twenty minutes later, they shared the same worried expression as Gwen pulled Peni up to the top bunk, (the closest thing to another room) leaving Peter to do his best to explain the debacle to him, Noir, and Ham as quickly as possible. Though, they all knew by the worried glances between him and Gwen, there was something they just weren't mentioning

 

A feat that went just about as well as expected. 

 

“So what dimension is she in?” Ham leaned against the wall, doing his best to stay as far away as possible from the window. Even with the shades drawn, they couldn't be too careful. 

 

Peter bit his lip. “One we can’t get to?”

 

Noir raised his eyebrows. “So where?”

 

“Somewhere where I can’t travel,” Gwen glared at them from Miles’ bunk where she and Peni were perched. “There’s one constant in the watch--everywhere I go has a spider person or at least some kind of superhero. The only superheroes she knows are fictional; Meaning she can’t be apart of the multiverse.”

 

“Wait,” Miles’ eyes narrowed, “she’s real, but not part of the multiverse?”

 

“How can we get to her?” From the bunk, Peni’s brows knitted, “I mean, my tech can probably match your watch, but we need a way to travel out of the multiverse and into another. It’s not like any of us have that much information on other worlds. If you left ours we might not be able to get you back.”

 

“Could Doc Oc have anything?” Peter sat in the desk chair, tilting it so precariously it looked as though it might collapse. “Miles and I could go in and look for something.”

 

Gwen shook her head. “She’s in danger now,” she brought her knees up to her chin, “I hate feeling powerless. She hasn’t responded since, which isn’t like her at all. I keep trying to call her number, but it’s not working.”

 

“Her number works from that far away?” Peni clutched her laptop excitedly. “That would have to mean her number is the only one past the multiverse.”

“So what?” Gwen shrugged. “I’ve tried tracking her phone, but it’s unresponsive.”

 

“That’s because you’re tracking the phone,” Peni plugged the watch into her computer, “I could try to use the watch’s database to search for the origin of the number and not the device itself. I should be able to pinpoint the number’s origin and format the software from there.”

 

“Really?” Gwen’s eyes widened.

 

“We’d have to figure out where she lives to determine a region we could search, but it should work. I need the number.” Peni’s eyes drilled into her screen.

 

Gwen read it off slowly, watching Peni’s every reaction. “(254)-236-677-4426.”

 

The small girl nodded. “Got it. It’ll take some time, but I should trace it. Try to figure out the address or what city she lives in and Noir and Ham can look closer into the flash drive.” She hopped off the bed and began typing furiously at the desktop. “I can run some tests on what we have. It’ll take around an hour or so, so we’ll need as much information as possible.”

 

Miles nodded. “We can help with that,” he grabbed Peter by the arm and dragged him out of the chair, “We can use the computers in the library, it’s not like anyone will be there.”

 

“Ok,” Gwen did her best to smile, “text us as soon as you get anything, no matter what,” she grabbed Miles’ hand, “let’s go, now.”

 

Peter smirked and followed as they raced down the hall 

 

~

 

“Alice and I have been communicating for the last year or so,” Gwen pulled an image up on her phone, “she sends me a picture almost everyday wherever she decided was the most interesting place she went to.” The screen showed a smiling teenager. A mess of long blond hair framed her heart shaped face and impish eyes. Behind her stood a mess of potted plants hiding the light sneaking in behind the leaves. The text below it read “Actually got up early to water the wall today and see the sunrise. To beautiful not to share with you.” 

 

Peter shrugged. “Do you know where she lives?” 

 

“I’m not completely sure,” Gwen scrolled through her camera roll, “we never seem to really discuss it. I know it’s a city because she’s always texting me on the subway describing the people around her on public transit and the chaos her parents drive through.” She flipped to another picture, this one depicting her (in glasses this time) resting her chin on a stack of books. “She goes to a tough all-girls highschool,” she smiled, “it’s funny to hear about when she encounters an actual teenage boy. She can’t believe how tall they are.”

“Got it.” Peter barely looked up from the computer screen. “What else?”

 

Miles cut in. “Does she go to any museums or specific places to a city?”

 

Her face lit up. “She went to a Comic-Con recently. She also goes to the theatre. She says she’s saving me stickers from each show for when I come visit her.” She pulled up a third image, this one showing the petite blond in costume. “She went as Jessica Jones.”

 

Miles took the phone from her hand and squinted at it. “Do you have any more pictures from this? If we can get a clear image of the pass-” 

 

“-We can figure out where it’s from.” Gwen finished, excitedly, “I've got the logo, but not the name.”

 

Peter squinted at it and googled something into the computer. “Got it. New York City Comic-Con.”

 

“So she lives in New York.” Miles leaned over his shoulder.

 

Gwen rolled her eyes. “Makes sense.”

 

“So we can go to New York City and move on from there?”

 

Peter shrugged. “We could at least try to figure out a realm of where she lives. New York is 300 square miles and tracking her iPhone takes more time than we have available.”

 

“What I don't get is why she texted you,” Miles stared at the map blankly, “she doesn't know where the heck you live, why would she text you? I mean, wouldn't a parent or someone be better?”

 

“Are you sure this is safe?” Peter drew his eyes away from the screen, concerned. “This could be a trap you know.”

 

Gwen glared. “She wouldn't do that. Trust me.”

 

“Let's hope not,” Miles checked his phone, “Peni says it's ready to go.”



Peter definitely didn’t like the look on Peni’s face when they walked through Miles’ door. Her normally cheerful (though sometimes murderous) expression was set in a grim line. She didn’t even wait for them to close the door before speaking. 

 

“It’ll work.”

 

Relief flooded Gwen’s face. “Great. How soon can I go?”

 

“Wait,” she held up a hand, “It’ll work one way, but we’re not sure if it’ll work on the way back. We’re going to a completely different reality here. I can’t be sure if it’ll work right and get you back or not.” 

 

Her expression remained unwavering. “I can go, though?”

 

Peni nodded. “It should work, but-”

 

“Great,” Gwen grabbed the watch from next to the laptop, “I’ll leave my phone and text using Alice’s once I get to her.” 

 

Miles grabbed her arm. “Do you hear what she’s saying? If you go, you might not come back.”

 

“Yeah,” Gwen pushed him off, distracted, “but you’ll be able to text me to help get me back if the need arises. Peni’s tech is as good as the watch, so you’ll be able to get home.”

 

Noir shut the window sill. “You can’t go off alone. We don’t even know what could happen to you.”

 

“I can’t see another hero die,” Miles looked at her earnestly, “there’s got to be something better.”

 

“There’s not,” She glared at them sharply, “I’ve already lost my Peter. I’m not about to lose my M.J too. I’ll leave and improvise my way through. It’s been over an hour, I don’t want her to wait any longer than that.”

 

“Fine,” Peter sighed, “I’ll go with you.”

 

“No, you’ll get yourself killed”

 

He met her glare. “It’s not a question.”

 

She sighed. “Fine. We’ll go, no one else.”

 

“What about me?” Miles stared at the two indignantly. “I’m not about to let two spider people get killed.”

 

“You’ll get yourself killed.” Gwen’s voice was sharper than he’d expected.

 

“You’re only fifteen months older than me Ms. I-Don’t-Do-Friends.”

 

“Fifteen months older and two years more spider skills,” Peter cut in, “Miles we can’t risk you getting hurt.”

 

Gwen glared. “There’s not enough time to argue. We don’t know what could be happening to her.”

 

Peter sighed. “Fine. You have to run at the first sign of any real danger, though.”

 

“Don’t worry,” Miles grinned, “I will.”

 

“Alright,” Gwen fit the watch around her wrist, “Let’s go.”



Chapter Text

She hated to admit it, but this was different. 

 

Gwen had spent more time than she’d (and the others had) thought was healthy traveling through the dimensions with the watch.

 

It had never felt like this before. 

 

A million needles seemed to embed themselves deep within her skin, shooting an icy cold heat throughout her bones. 

 

She couldn’t express how grateful she was touching down. 

 

Even if it was in the case of pummeling into grass, complete with a mouthful of dirt. 

 

Peter swore getting up, his hair a mess of twigs and grass. “What the hell?”

 

She stretched, brushing herself off. “We’re traveling to a different reality, remember? It’s not exactly hearts and flowers”

 

Miles groaned from behind her. “I don’t recall describing anything as hearts and flowers.”

 

“Well, don’t count on any improvements from here.” Gwen pulled out Peter's phone and glared. “I don’t have service.”

 

“Did you expect my data plan to work this far away?” Peter raised an eyebrow.

 

“No, I just-”

 

“-Didn’t think it out.” He finished.

 

She rolled her eyes. “We need to find some free wifi to steal from.” She checked her watch. “It’s only 6:40, Stirbucks should be open.”

 

“Don’t you mean Starbucks?” Miles got up.

 

“Whatever,” Gwen sighed, “we need to figure out her location.”

 

“That might not be too hard.” Peter pointed to a building a few blocks away.

 

It was completely run of the mill, average.

 

Except, of course, for the fact that an excruciatingly bring light just happened to pour from each and every possible gap or opening. 

 

Gwen nodded. “That’s probably a good start.”

 

~

 

Things weren’t looking good. 

 

Peter, Gwen, and Miles peered through the upper window of the warehouse, amazed. 

 

Instead of  the traditional Fisk-level metal and guns, the room seemed to almost pulse with life and light. The normally barren and cement covered landscape was practically indistinguishable, covered in a thick blanket of moss. Vines cascaded from the ceiling, snaking around any available surface. Peter whistled. “Now this, I haven't seen.”

 

Miles squinted. “Where's the light coming from?”

 

“More importantly, where is she?” Gwen's eyes scanned the vibrantly ominous area. 

 

“I say we go in and figure out a plan as we go along,” Peter smirked, “who's in?”

 

Miles’ eyes went wide. “Are you trying to get yourself killed?” He looked to Gwen for support, but she remained captivated in attempting to find out where Alice might be.

 

“What I don't understand is how all this could have grown in an hour,” she paused, “and more importantly, why? Alice is normal.”

 

“Are you sure?” Peter looked at her intently, “the impossible doesn't normally happen to someone who's normal.”

 

She didn't even look up from the window. “It happened to us, didn't it?”

 

Miles eyed the two cautiously. “So what are we going to do to figure out what's going on without getting us killed?”

 

Gwen and Peter locked eyes and turned to him. 

 

“There might be one idea.”

 

Miles inched along the inner wall, careful not to make a sound. They didn't know what could happen if he happened to touch one of the demon-like plants (that were significantly scarier up close). This was the reason why Miles was living up to his namesake and crawling along the walls. 

 

He noticed around a dozen people stepping in and around the patches of moss, all circled around a pod in the center. 

 

To say the pod was a cage didn't quite do it justice. 

 

A mixture of vines and thorns webbed together, creating a heavy tarps that fell around a circle set in the middle of the floor. A mixture of leaves, flowers, and plant matter of all kinds made it impossible to see through. Miles eyed it warily. 

 

“Do you think they could make a bomb out of plants?”

 

From the other side of the coms Peter replied, uncertain. “Life needs water, so it would be challenging to create an explosion with something so unconductable.”

 

“So, no,” Gwen’s voice cut in. “See if you can get closer to see inside.”

 

“Sure-” Miles cut off, keenly aware of footsteps coming from the other side of the floor. A tall, limber man was followed by an underling. 

 

“What do you have for me?” His voice sounded like the striking of a match, a thick gravelly sound more animal than human. 

 

“She's refusing to cooperate,” The smaller, elfish assistant stalked behind him warily, “it seems as though the mental strategy isn't working the way you expected.”

 

He laughed humorlessly. “Let me know when it changes. She was like that as well, until she didn't.”

 

He emphasized ‘she’ bitterly making Miles certain he didn't want to know who ‘she’ was. 

 

The assistant continued. “Are you sure we shouldn't try a different approach. She become more agreeable if we went outside the realm of mental pain.”

 

A dark glare gave him all the response he needed. “We would need to open the pod for that to happen. Do you remember what happened last time we tried to do that?”

 

“Yes,” he sighed, resigned, “but with the state the building’s at and the damage she's doing, we don't have much time left before it all collapses.”

 

The man paused, before crossing to the far wall. “What do we have so far with the coat?” 

 

The assistant bit his lip. “That's the other issue.”

 

“What?”

 

“We can't access it.”

 

“What?”

 

“It's phasing in and out of reality. We physically cannot get a hold of it long enough to observe it.” He was practically cowering now.

 

The man glowered. “Let me talk to her.” 

 

Miles followed them to the cage’s other side, where the mesh opened up to a patch of blooms. He waved a hand aside, and Miles watched in awe as they spread apart, illuminating a small figure inside it, entire body fit into the smallest possible space, hands covering her ears behind a thick amber window. 

 

The man smiled menacingly. “Cut the noise.”

 

She reacted immediately, letting out a side of relief. Her face clouded up when she saw who was on the other side of the window. “What now?”

 

The pictures he'd seen of her didn't seem to do her justice. She wasn't famously pretty, but seemed to have an aura of power that surrounded her. Her eyes changed color every so often, drawing attention to her pale face and the blonde hair that fell around it. If not for her face, she'd seem almost delicate, the sort of delicate that made you tentative to be near it for fear of breaking it. She held herself intimidatingly regally, making herself look intimidating and dangerous from behind a thick window, dressed in a simple pair of jeans and boat-necked sweater. He lost his control for a minute, slipping away from invisibility for a second.

 

Her eyes flashed with recognition, confusion, and, for a second, hope.

 

“What is it?” His voice brought back her attention. 

 

“I was not prepared to see you,” she gave him a cold smile, “your real self, that is.”

 

He stared coldly “I've found ways to fix it for mortals.”

 

“Not me,” She squinted, “have you thought of something more traditional? The phantom of the opera at least had some sense of style with the cape and mask.”

 

“I'm not some villain from a cheap plot.” He seethed.

 

“What do you call this, then?”

 

A smile slowly spread across his lips. “Closure,”

 

“You know therapy exists, right?”

 

“Quiet,” he turned to his assistant, “get the mirror.”

 

She sighed. “Not this again.”

 

He turned to face her once again. “What else would you expect?”

 

“I'm telling you, it doesn't work like that,” her expression had lost all humor and instead showed immense annoyance.

 

“You'll find a way, I'm sure.” He nodded as the assistant returned with two others, lugging an expansive mirror. 

 

She stood up and met him at the window. “I told you, I need to touch the mirror to even try to contact her.”

 

“That's awfully convenient, wouldn't you think?” He smirked. “I open your abode, you can contact her, and conveniently use your powers?” 

 

She rolled her eyes. “What powers could I use?”

 

“Whatever you've been doing!” He rapped against the glass angrily, “What did she give you?” 

 

“She didn't give me anything that wasn't already there.” She inspected her fingernails. “You let me touch the mirror or there's nothing I can do.

 

“You weak, insolent, mortal,” he spat out the words angrily, “you will do as I tell you or suffer.” 

 

She took a second to answer. “I'm not the one getting emotional here. If you want me to contact her, I need to touch the mirror.”

 

“Find a way without.”

 

“Or?” The word had a veiled sense of curiosity. 

 

He ignored her completely and instead turned to face his assistant. “Turn it back on. Turn it on,” he smiled darkly, “to the maximum power. A spirit is easier to have do the bidding.”

 

It took her a second to realize what he was saying before she fell onto the ground, cupping her head writhing in pain, sending tremors throughout the concrete. Gwen sounded panicked over the coms.

 

“Miles, what’s going on?” 

 

“Go,” he stared in horror, “go in now.”

 

Peter did his best to remain calm. “I'll go in from the other side, try to catch them from the other end.”

 

“Wait-” Gwen's voice cut in. 

 

The three paused for a second. 

 

A wall panel went flying back, taking out a window with them. Miles heard Peter and Gwen shouting in alarm, mere fractions of a second to realize the impact of the destruction before crashing down onto the ground. The man and his underlings all went running. Miles turned visible and ran to the visible fraction of Alice. 

 

“How do I break this?” He pounded on the glass, desperately. “What do I do?”

 

She curled into herself. “Make it stop!”

 

The shouting from the far wall continued, filled with mass amounts of profanity (most likely from Peter). Gwen swung down beside him. “Do you have her?”

 

He gestured to the pod and watched her eyes widen in horror. “Where's it coming from?” 

 

Miles shrugged. “I don't know.”

 

She grabbed the closest piece of rebar and handed it to him. “Then break it.”

 

While Peter did what seemed to be an intense amount of distraction (profanity included) Gwen and Miles began hacking at the cage. Alice rapped on the window.

 

“He uses outer controls. There's speakers.” She shook, forcing out every word. Gwen nodded gestured to Miles, who sent an electrical current through the tangle of vines. He could hear Alice's relief as she collapsed against the sides. 

 

Another round of shouting from the far wall jarringly brought her back to reality. 

 

“You need to break the floor.”

 

Gwen blinked. “What?”

 

She muttered something under her breath in another language. “Separating this thing from the concrete is the best chance of getting me out of here. It doesn't have a floor.”

 

“How do we do that?” Miles looked into the window, rebar in hand. 

 

“Physics?” She massaged her temples, “don't you people have enhanced strength or something?”

 

“It's pretty firmly attached,” Miles felt his way around the edge, “I can't get a good hold.”

 

More shouting, this time mixed with the sound of something breaking. Gwen swore. 

 

Alice paced back and forth, muttering to herself. Miles’ eyes landed on the metal in Gwen's hand. “Use that to scrape away the bottom.” 

 

“Yes,” Alice moved her hands rapidly, “go for the weakest link in the chain. Get my coat,” her eyes met Gwen's, “I don't know where they have it, but I've got stuff that can help.”

 

“I know where it is, I'll get it.” Miles ran off, leaving Gwen alone, stabbing the cage’s base. Alice ran her hands along the sides, brushing her fingertips against the vines and thorns, until she landed on a chord. Using her arms to hoist herself up, she climbed the walls up to the cluster of speakers pulling them out of the mess. She worked quickly, prying the mesh off of the box and pulling out the inner contents. 

 

Another large crash sent them all on edge with the realization of the delicate amount of time they had before he returned, whoever he was, and discovered them. Miles returned, panting. “Peter's not going to keep them distracted much longer. We need to get her out of here now.” 

 

Gwen glared him. “We’re in the process.”

 

“Did you get it?” Alice looked up from her pile of speaker parts. 

 

“Kinda,” Miles pulled on a piece of webbing connected what looked to be a hapless mess of material. 

 

Gwen stared at him. “Why couldn’t you just grab it?” 

 

Miles glared and yanked it. Instead of flopping like a dead fish (like any normal coat would), it folded into itself, seeming to almost sink into the floor. 

 

“It's finicky,” Alice rolled her eyes, “how are you doing in the way of openings?” 

 

“Not much,” Gwen pointed to the fist size hole she was able to open up. 

 

Alice grinned. “That’ll work. Can you pass me the coat?” She slipped her hand through the opening. 

 

Gwen pushed what the coat had doubled into towards her, lightly brushing fingers. Miles swore he could see her blush through her mask. 

 

“You'll need to get as far away as possible,” Alice shrugged into it and rifled through the pockets, “I'll be okay, but we don't know how long your friend can distract him.” 

 

Gwen shook her head. “We’re not leaving you alone with that thing.” 

 

“I should think not.” From the far wall came the raspy sound of nails on sandpaper. All eyes went wide as the man leisurely made his way towards them, Peter in tow. Burns marred his suit and tears gave way to the cuts and bruises underneath. Vines snaked their way around his torso, showing the little breathing room he was allowed. 

 

He didn't wait to issue commands. “Remove the coat.” 

 

Alice did so almost immediately, letting it drop from her grasp. A cold smile crossed his face. “Back away from the opening with your hands in the air.”

 

“Don't hurt them.” Her voice was steely cold, but her cold expression wavered. 

 

“That all depends on you,” His eyes bore into her, taking delight in her fear, “now hands up and face the back or I kill a spider.”

 

She sighed and did as he said. “Let them be together, at the very least. I can call more than just her.” 

 

He glared. “If you must insist. After all, I'm no animal,” he gestured to the assistant, “put them in the corner. Don't let them do anything until they've served their purpose.”

 

Miles could feel his heart pounding in his ears. He should have stayed home. 

 

“Are they together yet?”

 

He glared. “I didn't ask for you to speak.”

 

“I can't see with my back turned.”

 

“Well,” he sighed, “they’re in the far corner.”

 

“Good,” from his point behind Peter, Miles saw her grin. His eyes traveled to her right hand as he watched it curl into a fist, a gold band glimmering that he was sure she definitely wasn't wearing before. 

 

They had a few seconds to shield their eyes. 

 

Later, Miles would try to piece together those haphazard moments before Gwen pulled both an astonished him and Peter behind her, a large chunk of wall going with them. A blinding sort of light, like the light’s that created when you burn magnesium in chemistry, but less brilliant. He was certain Alice had jumped, whatever on her finger colliding with the cage’s keystone, something great enough that the man, his assistant, and whatever unfortunate underling happened to be in the vicinity of her wrath saw the danger and got the hell out of there (some unfortunate enough to have to lug the large, silver, mirror). 

 

What he was sure about, was the chaos that happened afterward.

 

That was the most troubling part of it all.

 

Gwen pushed (read: threw) Peter and Miles away from whatever happened to be going on and ran back in to collect a slightly singed Alice (coat somehow back on, hands once again preoccupied with fishing through the pockets and muttering in another language). 

 

She pulled out an ornate copper pocket watch and started fiddling with the hands (cue more muttering, and this time, swearing). 

 

She grinned, eyes lighting up almost maniacally, and nodded at Gwen, who grabbed her hand and motioned for Miles and (a possible concussed) Peter to do the same. 

 

The last thing he could remember was squinting back to what was left of the warehouse, seeing nothing but a hapless skeleton of concrete and metal.

 

No light, no plants, nothing out of the ordinary. 

 

That's when Alice jumped, and they went under.






Chapter Text

Gwen rubbed her eyes and sat up. “Where are we?”

 

A cool breeze blew through the trees, causing them to sway, dry leaves rattling together, gently letting go of their grip and floating down to the forest floor. The pale sliver of what could be considered the moon illuminated little more than the ends of branches, mostly covering them in a thick cloak of darkness. 

 

Beside her, Alice pulled herself up, blond hair cascading down her back, a small hint of light in the murky dark. “I don't know, Gwen. I'm not sure exactly, the watch is never accurate and never on time. Can you wake up the little one? I've got somewhere safe we can go, but we won't be able to carry more than one.”

 

Her eyes drifted to Miles and Peter, a few yards down. Miles was curled up, using a still asleep (or unconscious, she wasn't quite sure) Peter as a pillow, peacefully escaping the previous chaos. 

 

“How did you know it's me?”  Alice grinned at the question. 

 

“It was your voice, your exact same cadence. Your mannerisms and just the simple way you carried yourself. It all just made me think of you.”

 

Gwen blushed. “I'm sorry I didn't tell you.”

 

“Don't be sorry,” Alice rocked back and forth on her heels, “I didn't tell you about it all either. I promise I will once we're safe.”

 

“And that will be?” 

 

“As soon as you wake them up,” She gestured to the pair, “we need to get somewhere safe.”

 

“And that is?”

 

She grinned cryptically. “The tree.”

 

Gwen sighed, knowing full well that was the best answer she'd get. She stood up and woke the sleeping Miles.

 

He opened his eyes blearily. “What’s going on?”

 

“Follow Alice. I'm getting Peter.” She hauled him up, turning her attention once again to the red and blue lump. 

 

Miles trudged over to where Alice was intently tracing her fingers along the bark of a large Douglas fir. She nodded to Gwen. 

 

“Do you have him? I don't want to keep it open for longer than I have to.” 

 

Gwen glared and grabbed Peter by the arms, hoisting him over her shoulder. “I hope so.”

 

Alice rolled her eyes and pulled down her sleeve, revealing a small henna tattoo. A small circle held an intricately decorated tree, something Gwen only saw for a second before she pressed it into the bark of the Douglas fir. 

 

She lifted her wrist to reveal the imprint, left etched in the side of the wood. Miles stared, flabbergasted. “What is that?” 

 

“That is the key,” Alice pressed it, moving a large portion of the tree with it, “and this is the door.”

 

The opening pushed through, showing the light and hallway seemingly hidden behind it. Alice held it open, letting Miles, Gwen, and Peter through, before shoving it back into place. 

 

“We don't want to keep it open for too long, or who knows what'll make its way in,” Alice nonchalantly made her way down the hall, oblivious to the amazement of the trio behind her. 

 

The whole place seemed to be carved out of a tree, the floors showing the rings of age. Ornate doors covered the walls, each decorated with its own carvings and stones embedded in the designs. Truly, though, the ceilings were the true masterpiece, a mosaic of stones so detailed they seemed to be photographs of the earth, sky, and different vines, tracing their way around. To say the least, the place was breathtaking in every way possible. 

 

“Are you coming?” Alice’s voice cut through her disbelief, taking her back to reality, “I assume you don't want to carry him for the next few hours.”

 

She sighed, shifting Peter to get a better grip and dragged him towards the open door, a star struck Miles following closely behind. 

 

The room held shelf after shelf, each containing a small, ornate bottle or box, marked with runes. Vines hung down lazily, their flowers open. An assortment of baskets hung down, some connected with vines, some with rope, and some with chains. It was abundantly clear that there was no space that was not utilized in some shape of form. After laying him down on a cushioned alcove embedded into the wall, Gwen turned her attention Alice, who had removed a large box from a lower shelf. 

 

“Healing really isn't my thing, but Bells left a bunch of stuff. We're bound to find something that'll work,” she smirked at their confused expressions, “Bells is a name. The name of someone who works with me.” She opened the box and began sorting through the contents, removing smaller boxes and vials. 

 

“We're going to need to get the suit away from the open sores,” she arranged her small army of substances into a line, pulling cotton bandages from a hanging basket, “I'll get you clothes to change into and get tea started.”

 

“What do you need us to do?” Miles stared at the mess of bottles. 

 

“Get the suit material away from the flesh wounds,” she smirked, “be back soon.”

 

Gwen Stacy would like to say that peeling the suit from the bloody top half of his body was a simple matter. 

 

Sadly, she can admit that nothing in her life could be described as a ‘simple matter.’

 

Especially when that thing wakes up and careens off the small platform that could be considered “a bed.”

 

Alice returned to see both Gwen and Miles attempting to assist a slightly conscious Peter from unsticking his feet from the wall. 

 

“Where are we?” Once righted up again, Peter stared defiantly as Alice applied the bottles to his plethora of wounds. 

 

“You're in the tree. That's what we call it, at least. The official name’s be lost for too long even for her to remember it.” She kept her nonchalance as she used each of the concoctions in turn. 

 

“Who's she?” Miles had changed out of his suit into the clothes Alice had provided, a  medieval-looking shirt and pants. 

 

Alice bit her lip. “I'm not sure how to explain it.” She had finished “mending” Peter, her arms nervously crossing and uncrossing. 

 

Gwen took her arm. “You said you'd get tea. Why don't you explain it there?”

 

“Sure,” she smiled softly, leading them out into the hall, opening another set of doors. A miniature fire blazed in the small hearth surrounded by a mixture of cushions, couches, and blankets. A tea set was placed in the middle, on a small coffee table. She sighed. “You want to know? I’ll tell you.”

Chapter Text

Alright people, let’s do this one last time.

 

My name is Alice Morrigan and I was born.

 

Yeah.

 

(Incredible, right?)

 

I was born the daughter of a European royal sometime around 1595. 

 

My mother died, and I was switched in the dead of night with another baby, a changeling.

 

(Of course I don’t remember this, I was a baby). 

 

I, instead, was taken to the land of the faeries and doted on by their Queen, Tatania.

 

Now, her husband was (to say the least) a complete and utter bastard.

 

And not just a normal bastard who cuts in lines, doesn’t tip, and turns his speakers up at full blast just around 9:00 in a kid-friendly neighborhood.

 

He was a powerful one.

 

Now fae are matriarchal, meaning the true ruler of their people was Tatania. 

 

However, she was doing her best not to be drugged and abused by her husband (or his underlings) to do much else.

 

Now why is that important?

 

When she adopted me, she knew three things. 

 

Unlike humans, fae do not appear to age (they all keel over looking around 22)

 

AND

 

The baby was human (meaning it would age, unlike her or her husband)

 

AND

 

Her husband was a complete and total pervert (along with his other extensive abilities as a bastard).

 

Meaning, she couldn’t exactly adopt a human baby girl without her growing up in fear of her husband. 

 

So, she disguised the baby as a boy.

 

It wasn’t a long term solution, but she figured it would work for the time being.

 

This also had some drawbacks.

 

Oberon was just unlikable enough to have a posse of one.

 

That one being a half (or full, they weren’t sure) goblin that no one else wanted. 

 

With the baby being a boy (and too young to properly speak, much less understand what he was getting into), he would be a perfect addition to the ‘boys club’ currently made of him.

 

And the goblin.

 

And since he was who he was, Tatania knew he wouldn’t take no for an answer.

 

(bastard+pervert= someone who would say something along the lines of “I won’t take no for an answer)

 

(Very rapey of them)

 

So, she did the only thing an all-powerful (mostly powerful) queen of the fae could do.

 

She switched out yet another baby with a changeling (they have lots of those on hand), sent the real baby (me) into another thread of time, and let her husband drug her and take the one and only thing that brought her joy.

 

After, she willed herself into a spirit, leaving her earthly body behind and floated/slept for the next few hundred years, waiting for the baby to show up again in the string of time.

 

Then I was born in the early 2000s (ish) and was adopted by my current parents (who have no idea and it's going to remain that way).

 

Tatania found me,

 

And for the last three years I’ve been the one and only Royal.

 

I’m sure you know the rest.

 

I saved a bunch of people,

 

Met Nico (my gay kinda-roommate),

 

Traveled to different realities,

 

Met Gwen.

 

Didn't know Gwen was a spider-woman.

 

Learned who Gwen was when she saved me from almost death,

 

And now we're here. 

 

“So who kidnapped you?” Peter leaned forward intently. “Does it have something to do with her?”

 

Alice laughed humorlessly. “It has everything to do with her. Once she,” she paused, “departed, per say, Oberon figured out what had been going on. With her gone, he held power as king of the fae, but only as long as he was able to live. He'd been cursed, doomed to a slow and painful death if he ever broke his marriage vows. He became hellbent on making himself immortal, using every kind of magic he could find to prolong his pain. In doing so, he used more magic than was healthy, stripping most evidence it had ever been here. That's why this reality is called ‘Mortal Earth.’ It's the base reality all others come from and is almost desolate of any sort of greater power.”

 

“So what does that have to do with the guy who kidnapped you?” Miles leaned against Peter, his face being the only aspect of his body not enveloped in  blankets. 

 

“His name is Puck.”

 

“Like in the play? The weird goblin henchman?” Peter raised an eyebrow. 

 

“The very same.” She sighed, sitting down next to Gwen.

 

“What does he want with you?” Gwen clasped her arm, concerned.

 

“He wants her. I’m pretty sure that mirror he had is enchanted to trap her inside or something. He's been on the radar for a while now, but I didn't think he knew about me.” She checked her watch. “Look, it's getting late. Is there any chance we can just talk about this in the morning? This place was a castle, so there's plenty of room for you to stay over.” She met Peter’s distrusting expression. “This was the palace of the freaking queen of life. There aren't any sorts of skeletons I'm hiding.”

 

He shrugged. “Miles is basically asleep as is, I guess it wouldn't hurt.” 

 

Gwen nodded. “We’ll figure this out tomorrow.”

 

Chapter Text

Alice sighed, sinking into her sofa. She'd told her parents she was sleeping over at Dodie’s to divert any idea of her being missing. They were fine with it. After all, it wouldn't be the first time. Even though it was late, she had no intention of falling asleep just yet. There was something that just seemed off about the whole debacle. More tea and a few minutes flipping through the grimoire would shed some light on it all. She hoped. 

 

She was so consumed with her work, she didn't even notice Gwen slip in. 

 

“I can't sleep.” An overly large shirt hung loosely on her frame, a contrast to the leggings underneath. 

 

Alice smirked. “It's been five minutes.”

 

“I don't want to sleep?” She grinned playfully.

 

“Sit here,” Alice gestured, smiling. “What’s up?”

 

Gwen eyed the book. “What are you doing?”

 

“Trying to figure out how he was able to do all he could.” Alice glared at the thick volume. “Puck’s more powerful than I thought. He shouldn't have been able to create a cage that strong. Thank god he doesn’t know who I really am, he just snatched me off using some sort of spell.”

 

“He can do faerie magic?” She raised her eyebrows.

 

Alice glared. “That’s the thing, he can’t. Fae magic is finicky when it comes to who can do what. The only reason I’m able to read or speak the language is because of my mother’s dedication to Tatania. When she switched me with the changeling, she gave me the blessing. Puck’s a weird goblin-hybrid.”

 

Gwen observed the image on the page. “You’re not sure what he is?”

 

“I mean,” she shrugged, “no one knows who his parents were. He was a changeling reject that Oberon borrowed. And it’s not like he’d put the work into anything, he wasn’t anything talented in the ways of magic, why do you think he relied on outside energy that much?” 

 

“I don’t know.” Gwen yawned. “You’re the expert. I still can’t believe we were able to get to you.”

 

“I’m certainly glad you did,” Alice grinned, “just think, if we can find a way to travel easier, we could actually go to dances and stuff instead of facetiming from the school roof with oreos.”

 

She smirked. “I don’t think you’d be able to get to the roof with all the times you’ve gotten caught.”

 

“That’s not fair,” Alice pushed the volume onto the coffee table. “Not all of us have spider powers. Magic’s tough, I have to use active ethereal energy around me to actually do anything, which varies from reality to reality.

 

“How were you able to bring the building down?” Gwen bit her lip. “I'm pretty sure you were able to take down a battalion of his minion things within the stupid cage. 

 

Alice pulled the book back into her lap. “That's the weirdest thing. I have no idea. My stuff isn't that powerful.”

 

“And what is ‘your stuff’?”

 

“Well,” she paused, “it's complicated. I can channel the powers of the council, but Mary doesn't give me power, rather the coat. Using the other two, I can use fae spells and mess with nature, and slightly alter aspects of reality...kind of. I need to be careful because there's always the chance that when trying to make something permanent, I create an illusion instead and get trapped in it. ”

 

Gwen raised her eyebrows. “Do you just use illusions or actually change reality?”

 

“Yes.” She bit her lip. “If you think about it, they're kinda the same thing, at least with normal people.”

 

“What about us?”

 

Her eyes glimmered in the light. “You're not fae, so it’s about the same.”

 

“But you're not fae.”

 

“Not that we know.” She shrugged. “I don't know who my father was. It could have been anyone.”

 

“If he wasn't there when your mother was pregnant, how important could he have been?” Gwen smirked. “Besides, you don't get your powers from him.”

 

Alice bit back a smile. “It's not a sunshine and rainbows, you know.”

 

“What do you mean?”

 

“I,” she paused, considering her words, “I get the worst of Tatania along with her best? I'm not totally sure how to explain it.”

 

“What worst?” Gwen shifted closer, “what do you mean by that?”

 

“To access the powers as a fae, you have to do it despite the pain, push through the voices in your head.”

 

“So?”

 

“Do you remember A Midsummer Night’s Dream? Like really remember it. Oberon went to great lengths to keep her controlled, including drugging her. That wasn't a new thing he'd been doing.” She sighed, leaning back into the sofa. 

 

“You have her trauma.” The words hung in the air, dangerously afraid to settle. 

 

Alice gulped. “Nico thinks it could go far enough to be PTSD.”

 

“After every use?” 

 

“Not all. ” she struggled to produce a weak smile, the painful, heartbreaking smile that refuses to meet your eyes, only greater broadcasting the pain. “It depends on how I use them and how strongly I use them.”

 

Gwen put an arm around her, feeling the smaller girl visibly tense before slowly sinking in. “When do they happen?”

 

“Night for me, mostly. After all, I didn't experience them, they're just dreams.” She shuddered. “Real dreams.”

 

“Why don't I stay?” 

 

Alice cocked her head slightly. “What do you mean?”

 

“Well,” she met her eyes, “if you have nightmares I'll be able to wake you up.”

 

She shifted, facing her completely. “That's not worth it, you wouldn't get any sleep and Sad Peter would judge me. He already doesn't seem to like me.”

 

“That might be from you calling him Sad Peter, you know.”

 

She shrugged. “There's a lot of Peters in my world. It's hard to keep track.”

 

Gwen rolled her eyes. “I'm a light sleeper, it's honesty no big deal. You, I know for a fact, however, need sleep or you turn into the creature from the black lagoon.”

 

“Fine but I owe you something. I get to take you to a bakery or whatever.”  Alice stretched and got up, crossing to the bed. “Are you coming?” 

 

If we could find a way to travel easier.

 

If I get to see you again. 

 

Gwen pushed the thoughts out of her mind. “Coming.”