—–A dream: strong hands stroke long blond hair. The mind of the dreamer is but another character within the dream; although he is nothing more than an observer. Those are not his hands. From afar, and with no chance of his intervention, the mind of the dreamer is aware of the two silhouettes whose faces he cannot see. However, a beam of light allows the sight of their hair, which is painfully familiar: long and angelic platinum blond intermingled with short and diabolical auburn red with horizontal streaks… Peter Parker wakes up. It’s already dark and he has been more than fifteen minutes next to the window of room 426 in a New York hospital; he is sitting while adhered to an overhang in the very walls of the building. He hardly feels the breeze against his face, and even less the nocturnal bustle of the great city facing him. But on the other hand, he feels each of his dying aunt May’s heartbeats as a stab, like they were the last. The regular sound of each of the machines connected to his elderly aunt’s comatose body give Peter a small haze of serenity, not quite accepted by his mind. The simple wall and mere three metres that separate aunt and nephew could turn into an abyss, and nobody would be able to stop it… Meanwhile, Mary Jane, taking a role that would make the bravest of heroes cower in terror and run, has stayed beside May at all times. She knows how important her presence is, since she is the only pillar left standing in Peter’s life, and if she doesn’t yield, neither will he, no matter how impossible the situation.
—–The city light shines in through the window glass, subtly illuminating the room. However, it’s still too dark, and Mary Jane has to turn on a small lamp on a bedside table next to May’s bed only to be able to impatiently look at the time marked on the clock hanging on the wall. She would have checked the time on her mobile phone, if she had one; but, given their situation and for their own safety, they both thought it was sensible to get rid of their devices fearing they could be tracked. Thus, she paces from one end of the room to another, with the remote control in her hand, changing channels again and again while listening to the incessant news chatter about superheroes and the Registration Act.
‘… the Senate has given green light to the facilities where the superhumans will be trained…’
‘… it’s 20.50′ ‘Live from Times Square, where the Avengers are fighting the Mole Man and his monstr…’
‘… Captain America could be charged with terrorist actions against the people of the…’
‘… er Parker, also known as the superhero Spider Man, whose whereabouts are still unkno…‘
‘… An unusual occurrence has happened in Broxton (Oklahoma), connected with the god of …‘
—–Annoyed, she turns off the tv, she sets the remote on the table and glances out the window, hoping Peter gets in so they can talk; support each other; but he remains outside, trying to clear his mind. Heights and the wind blowing on his face have always helped him before, however, both his body and mind have stepped beyond the threshold of exhaustion; even superhumans need sleep and rest. But in his case, troubling dreams won’t let him; they keep him within an increasingly disturbing reality. Musing and tired, as well as with a heavy beard, he thinks about the last couple of days and in how his relentless search for help to save his aunt has been a complete failure.
—–Strong female hands knock at the room’s door, drawing Mary Jane’s attention, and she looks at the time again. She does not take long to react and go to the door; already knowing who it is; but she still prefers to be cautious, turning to the window searching for assurance from Peter, assurance that doesn’t arrive. Therefore, she assumes his spider sense isn’t tingling, and she opens the door. As she expected, on the other side of the door awaits Felicia Hardy, also known as Black Cat. She’s wearing a black twill shirt, skinny blue jeans, black wide-soled sneakers and a Prussian blue Park hat that partly hides her trademark silver white hair, now tied up. From her right forearm hangs a denim jacket and in her left hand she holds a purple sports Heritage bag. The girl who were once Peter’s girlfriend, and is now a great friend in whom they can trust in difficult times. She does not have a particularly friendly relationship with who opened the door. Aware of this, especially given their current situation, they put aside any differences with a cold greeting which is forgotten the moment Felicia asks after May’s condition. To her dismay, the answer she gets isn’t very promising… ………………………………………
—–Quietly, they both look at the old woman for a few seconds that seem never ending, until Felicia prompts another question.
—–Without answering, Mary Jane motions towards the window. Nodding, Felicia dumps the bag on the sofa bed beside the window, and watches the city, her breath staining the glass. She tries to attract Peter’s attention by gently tapping her fingernails on the window. There is no answer; she waits a few seconds and tries again. Nothing… Putting aside her doubts, she opens the window and peeks outside, finding there the man she let go from her side, torn with pain. Forced to act first, she grips his hand.
—–His gaze is lost somewhere in the city, but Peter strongly squeezes her hand in turn, sharing part of the suffering that haunts him. From within the room, Mary Jane watches every move, anxious and restless; she knows the there is familiarity between Peter and Felicia, it is sometimes greater than what they have in their marriage. Disoriented, she takes May’s hand waiting for an answer she knows will never arrive. Sad and hurt, she kisses the old woman’s hand, thinking: ‘If I had taken that bullet, perhaps…’. She sheds a small tear. She wishes to cry and shout, but she will not let them see her like that. Gathering her courage, she dries her cheek and then she hears it: Peter’s cry.
—–“Why, Felicia? Why? I’m able to save the damned planet but I couldn’t save the woman who raised me and sacrificed everything for me. Why do I always end up hurting the people I love? I am nothing more than misfortune in their lives.”
—–Felicia took Peter’s hand as she answered:
—–“Perhaps because you took up a responsibility that was beyond ourselves. May followed your lead when she found out you were secretly Spider-Man; she accepted it and took the risk of loving you. And I doubt she regrets it… Yes, what is happening is horrible and you don’t deserve going through it again, but you won’t achieve anything pitying yourself out here. They could see you. How about we go inside?” She asks as she tugs Peter, who snaps back:
—–“Pitying myself? I have assaulted and tied up a law enforcement officer, stolen an ambulance, I have forged documents and impersonated someone else… If it weren’t because of the Act causing all this commotion and the Cap being arrested, what I did to that detective would have been on the front page… In the end Jameson was right: I am a criminal…” Felicia feels like she should interrupt, but she lets Peter get it all off his chest. “However, what really gnaws at me is not being able to do anything for my aunt… I have tried everything and nobody can help me, or so they say. If I could at least contact Dr. Strange! But he’s in the Arctic, he’s exiled himself and is doing who-knows-what with his astral form in some mystical dimension… I-I don’t have anyone to turn to.” He adds, closing his eyes as he shakes his head.
—–“Thanks!” Snarls Felicia.
—–Because he is tired, he is slow in react. When he finally does, he opens his eyes and looks at his friend.
—–“I meant… it doesn’t matter, sorry.” Peter is crestfallen.
—–“No, no! Keep going”. Felicia encourages him pinching his hand a little, trying to attract his attention again; She doesn’t stop until their gazes meet. “Tell me!”
—–Peter, unable to maintain eye contact with Felicia, focuses his gaze on the ground far below. He continues talking.
—–“Two days ago we ran out of money to pay for hospital bills, so I went to Tony… At first, he refused to help a ‘criminal’. However, Jarvis suddenly appeared through the hospital door to pay for maintenance and May’s bills. Something I am grateful for. But I can’t stop thinking: How? How did Tony know which hospital it was? I did not tell him and still Jarvis got here… Tony, son of a b…!” Peter blurts out to Felicia and clenches his fists.
—–Mary Jane keeps listening, not knowing whether to cut in, she feels out of place. Meanwhile, Felicia keeps up the conversation.
—–“It’s possible, but my spider sense would have caught it.”
—–“It’s not infallible,” she muses. “I mean; Look at you, you seem too tired, maybe that affected your spider sense. And, he wouldn’t be the first to evade it. Or perhaps.” She adds shrugging. “He only just checked hospital records in the area, looking for similarities with your aunt’s case. At the end of the day, this is Tony we are talking about, he has access to everything.”
—–“It’s possible, but that doesn’t put my mind at ease.” Peter scratches his scruffy beard with both hands.
—–“Are you worried he might come for you?”
—–Peter pauses to consider.
—–“No. If that were his aim he would have come already. However, I can’t trust him after what he did with the Act.” He looses a long breath. “What should I do?”
—–“For starters, you can get the hell inside. It’s cold out here and they could see you.” Felicia tugs Peter again, who sighs again, leaning his head against the wall. After a pause, he accepts the suggestion to go inside. She helps him, even if he doesn’t need it. They both stand next to the window, which Felicia closes instantly, then draws the curtains although they can still glimpse the city. Peter starts talking again.
—–“I hate putting you on the spot, Felicia, but we don’t have anyone else; and those we could trust are hiding or behind bars, or dead.” Giving up, Peter scratches his eyes with too much strength, making them red. “You’re the only one left.”
—–Felicia reaches out to him.
—–“You know you can always count on me…” She pauses, she doesn’t want to say anything inappropriate. She looks at Mary Jane, fearful of having bothered her; but her face is deadpan, perhaps even distant, as she sits at the edge of the bed, observing May. Felicia withdraws her hand, amending her words. “You all can always count on my help.”
—–Peter, incapable of hearing a difference because of his state of mind and exhaustion, goes on as though nothing uncomfortable had happened.
—–“Yes, but you are risking your neck, and Tony is skinning alive anyone who rebels against the registration… He knows your identity. You are part of Heroes for Hire!” Peter points this out, clearly upset.
—–Felicia answers with a conciliatory tone.
—–“First of all: We prefer the term ‘Knightwing Restorations’. Second: you are more important than a goddamned law. A law with which K.R. does not agree; just in case it wasn’t clear already. Besides.” Her voice turns sensual. “I have always enjoyed playing at the edge of the precipice, you know that already.” She adds winking her right eye at Peter. He answers with a small smile full of complicity, which lets her know of her new blunder. Modestly, she glances at Mary Jane, who pretends not to be paying attention.
—–“I didn’t mean to…” Felicia tries to apologise but Mary Jane, who is still looking at May and stroking her hand, interrupts.
—–“I know, don’t worry.” Her answer is sweet but aloof, which renders Peter and Felicia speechless, beginning thus a tense silence. Peter, back in the world of the thinking, tries to fix the situation.
—–“Do you know that joke of ‘me neither’? No? Me neither? Bada-ban-pssht!” Peter mimics playing the drums and stays with that position.
—–The silence is back, but this time it’s subtly different: both women stare incredulously at Peter as he stands with the drummer pose.
—–“What?” He asks.
—–Felicia and Mary Jane glance at each other. Without needing words, Mary Jane nods at Felicia, allowing her to smack Peter in the back of the neck.
—–“Ouch! That hurt…” He says, exaggerating as he rubs the afflicted area.
—–A new kind of silence creeps in, but this time it explodes instantly into a much needed fit of laughter. Peter uses the moment to raise his hands, wanting to high-five Mary Jane and Felicia simultaneously. They both put their hands up to meet with his, he withdraws them smirking at them. Felicia answers by lifting the middle finger in her left hand as she takes a women’s perfume bottle from her sports bag and sprays Peter with it. He retorts:
—–“Hey! Nobody’s going to take me seriously if I stink of your cologne.” Peter tries to protect himself and dodge Felicia as he looks at Mary Jane, who is grinning at the same time she mouths for him to see.
—–Peter winks at her; she tucks a strand of hair behind her ear, still smiling, as she turns her attention to May. Felicia and Peter are still joking around with the perfume.
—–A while after, with the echo of mirth still in the air and an empty bottle of perfume, Peter asks about the sports bag.Felicia picks it up to show its content.
—–“I brought clothes, water bottles and some food. And I thought it would be nice if we could communicate in a secure way,” she draws a phone, “It’s so old it will be impossible to track.”
—–Peter appears to be sceptical:
—–“Are you sure? It works?”
—–“I certainly hope so, for my informant’s sake.” Felicia cracks her knuckles. “He still owes me a couple of favours and I wouldn’t want to take him out before he’s paid me back.”
—–Peter still doubts:
—–Felicia hushes him:
—–“Don’t worry; it can only be contacted by this other mobile.” She picks another phone from the bag. “Exclusive and direct contact. And for the finish…” She dangles the keys to a house.
—–“Keys?” He asks.
—–“To one of my properties. Believe me, you do not want to know how I got it! What you do want to know, is that’s a safe place and it’s completely at your disposal. It’s an attic, it has easy access through the skylight, which opens with this key. I will stay with MJ, taking care of May… If that’s ok with both of you.” She adds looking at them. Mary Jane nods, knowing the possible consequences of staying alone with Felicia.
—–Peter, on the other hand, disagrees once more without realising the subtle fear both women share at the possibility of being alone with the other.
—–“No way. I must keep searching for a way to save May, and you, and the Heroes for… I mean, your colleagues from K.R. will wonder where you are.”
—–“I have taken a couple of days off. Please Peter, look at yourself! You’re all grimy and you stink… not so much now, thanks to my perfume.” She adds. “But you can’t continue looking for help in that state.” Felicia peeks at Mary Jane. “How long since he slept?”
—–Mary Jane lets go of May’s hand and turns her eyes to Peter. She stands to come closer to him as she answers.
—–“Three days… Peter, Felicia’s right.”
—–He shakes his head energetically and replies.
—–“I… I can’t… No…”
—–Mary Jane, facing Peter, puts her hands at either side of her husband’s face tenderly and delicately, despite his scruffy beard, and argues:
—–“May knows you haven’t stopped for a second, and that you will do the impossible so that we can get through this… but you need to rest.”
—–Doubtingly, he turns his gaze to May. Seconds pass without him saying or doing anything, he only watches his aunt.Patiently, Mary Jane continues to caress his face. After long consideration, Peter puts his hands on hers and agrees to their suggestion.
—–“A-all right”, he wobbles towards May’s bed. Furious and sad at the knowledge his aunt is struggling between life and death because of him, he sits at the edge of the bed, scared to touch her. Without letting him feel alone in such a harrowing moment, Mary Jane sets a hand on his shoulder. He needed that support, as he hugs May, repeating between sobs: “All right.”
—–Felicia watches from afar with a lump in her throat. She wishes she could do something other than look, but she knows that, for the time being, her place is to observe.
—–After holding his aunt for a long time, the first time in twenty-four hours, Peter is able to calm down with Mary Jane’s help. Finally, he can settle the details about the archaic phone and the attic’s address with Felicia. As he listens, he drinks some water from one of the bottles. Once he is clear with all the instructions related to the mobile and the keys, Mary Jane cuts in.
—–“Peter, wait!” She takes his left hand and looks into his eyes. “Don’t you ever say you are a misfortune in my life… You are the best thing that happened to me.”
—–Peter can see the most absolute truth in Mary Jane’s eyes. Comforted, he caresses her left cheek with his right hand; she closes her eyes, tilting her head toward the fingers touching her face, letting them feel every inch of her skin. Mary Jane reveals a sudden desire.
—–“Rest up, Tiger!”
—–Peter, still staring at her, caresses her lips with his thumb, getting carried away. Aware they are not alone, she stops the intimate moment.
—–“You need to rest!”
—–“Sure thing.” He answers with more confidence. He releases Mary Jane and turns towards the window, repeating aloud Felicia’s instructions, who he now looks at as he checks he has everything he needs. His friend answers with a thumbs up. After gesturing the same back at her, he opens the window and looks at May.
—–“Please call me if anything changes. Whatever it is!” They both nod vigorously. Peter gazes at Felicia once again. “Thanks for everything, you’re a real blessing!”
—–Reddening, Felicia brushes off the compliment.
—–“Yeah, what else?”
—–“Right! Well, see you later, alligator.” Peter sighs imperceptibly as he looks over the great city. He uses his spider sense to avoid being spotted by onlookers. Everything seems clear. He turns his head to the room and with a relaxed tone he adds: “Behave yourselves!” And he winks to Mary Jane. Before she can answer, he leaps into the void. Mary Jane rushes to the window. Bent over the sill, she recalls, without meaning to, all the times she has taken part in this scene where the wind brushes her face and makes her hair flutter as she sadly watches her beloved Peter disappear among the buildings.
—–“Go get them, Tiger!”