DISCLAIMER: This is an unauthorized work of fiction using characters that are (c) & TM
by Marvel Comics Group. No profit is being made on this story, so I'll invoke The Marvel Readers' Bill of Rights (for the full text see Stan's Soapbox in some of the May 1998 comics, e.g. Generation X #38):
"8. The right to practice scripting and drawing our Marvel characters for your own pleasure and amusement."
The story is (c) 2002 by Tilman Stieve (Menshevik@aol.com). You can download this and copy it for your entertainment, but don't sell it for profit, or Marvel will set their lawyers on you. Please do not archive this on your website without informing me first.
I hope Reflections can be understood on its own, but a few explanations can be found at the end of this file. The story is a sequel of sorts to my stories Point of No Return, and Before the Plunge, but unlike them it is clearly set in my alternate universe, the Tales of the Twilight Menshevik, in particular its main timeline. The other Tales can be found on "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX: The Average Website" and "Stacy's Fan-Fiction Page."
Aaaaahhhh, there's nothing like a hot bath to relax refresh the body think oblivion then reassemble my thoughts nice hot water engulfs sweaty skin the scent of herbs fills nostrils clears sinuses I hope the sound of bursting bath-foam bubbles snapcracklepops in my ears like gentle summer rains. Peter jokes how much time I spend in the tub, but hey! everybody does things their own way Peter goes out swinging through the streets of New York suspended by thin threads of polymer compounds of his own invention, his doting wife prefers to soak her bod in a bath with all the trimmings. Wonder if Peter would rather come across a crime in progress when he webswings aimlessly or if he'd prefer not to be distracted from sorting his thoughts it really must depend on his state of mind for the day. Poor Peter the pressure of the responsibility he is convinced the powers the radioactive spider bestowed on him far too often denies him the enjoyment of life he deserves I've never known a man so obsessed with possible dire consequences of inaction the need to use his special powers to save lives, prevent injury and so on as my Peter if that spider hadn't bit him and he had used his web-formula to make a fortune, he probably would have given away most of that money for worthy causes. Which is one of the reasons I love him so much, but also why I'm in such awe of him some times and why on others I worry about him so much. But it's a good thing that we can appreciate each other's 'foibles' - I occasionally enjoy him taking me on a nightly web-swinging tour of the Big Apple (good thing I am not unreasonably afraid of heights and can handle my reasonable fear of heights) and he occasionally likes to join me in the bathroom given the size of our bathtub we usually have to use the other one, the shower affords more room for the activities we have in mind.
They call him (Spider-Man) a super-hero (Jayjayjay calls him a wall-crawling menace) but to me the label 'hero' suffices to describe what he does. It's a bit like what it is like for a firefighter or a police officer in some respects it's easier for him being strong enough to lift a truck, having a Spider-Sense that warns him of danger etcetera etcetera but on the other hand he routinely has to face some kinds of opponents by himself that a normal policeman only has to encounter in anger just once or twice in one or two years and then usually with colleagues at their side. That probably is the worst part for him - he usually works alone and because he has to keep his real identity a secret he can't just go out with his colleagues to talk over whatever it is he just lived through. There's so few people who know that Peter Parker and Spider-Man are one and the same betternotthinkabouthowmanyofthemaredead and so few among them with whom we can let our guard down. To the best of my knowledge he only ever told three people about it of his own free will - a little boy with terminal cancer, his then lover the Black Cat and Johnny Storm, the Human Torch. He's been pals with the Torch for almost as long as he's been Spider-Man, coming on 18 years, and yet he waited until he thought he was mature enough to be trusted...! Even now we aren't that close with Mattdaredevil Murdock - trusting someone to keep your secret is one thing, letting someone into one's mind is another. DD is too reserved somehow, at times distant and cold to Peter, they meet rarely outside the job, without the mask, and it's even more rare that I get to see him. It's easier for Peter to do the male bonding thing with Johnny Storm, that's why he eventually told him - it may also be because they can relate both as costumed metapowered heroes and as fathers, Johnny's adoptive son is an alien from outer space, but a lot of parenting problems are the same throughout this cluster of galaxies. Peter also bonds well enough with Flash Thompson about those parts of his life that don't concern his other ID, but he can't bring himself to tell him he is Spider-Man - it would be too embarrassing considering their common past the time in high school when Flash was Petey's nemesis but idolized Spider-Man. But I'm glad Peter has Johnny Storm and Matt Murdock (and within limits Felicia Hardy) to talk about the costumed vigilante aspects of his life, that stuff is outside his wifeloverbride's immediate sphere of experience. I on the other hand am grateful for Felicia Hardy, a godsend, helping me to keep things in perspective and possibly retaining my sanity. I had to go through Peter disappearing without trace shortly after our wedding and went almost frantic having no one to turn to then because I could not compromise his double ID. Thank heavens that on later occasions I was able to count on her as a confidante.
It was an unlikely turn of events, my husband's former lover becoming my friend, now she's closer to me than to him (at least if the time we spend together is a plausible indication). Also closer to me than Gayle is (even after patching up the rift between big sis and me, we did not really become close and the matter of Peter's extracurricular activities never came up so far.) Well, she had a lot of stuff to deal with, meeting her new hubby, moving into a new home, having little Angela...
Felicia (her moniker's the Black Cat in costume) used to be a burglar. She met Peter as Spider-Man not long after he and I split up he proposed to me, I refused and ran off, part commitment panic, part anger that he hadn't told me about being Spidey when he asked me to be his wife. Understandably she developed a huge crush on him so big that she eventually reformed for a time became his partner, first in crime-fighting and eventually in bed (wouldn't say private life) things did not work out somehow, there were issues of trust, later distraction from a certain redhead returnee, and Felicia's difficulties in reconciling the exciting, happy-go-lucky Spider with whom she had fallen in lovelust with the in her estimation drab and dull Peter Parker, post-grad student and part-time photo reporter.
Talk about starting a friendship on the wrong foot! Petey just had to fight off jerkwitted tycoon ratfink Puma in the middle of his snug little Chelsea apartment, I finally mustered up the nerve to tell him I knew he was Spider-Man, he was desperately trying to deny it - and that was the moment the Black Cat chose to leap in through the window! Peter was babbling, I was in tears, Felicia was ticked off, but in retrospect it was kinda funny. Whooboy!
We were rivals for a while, even though I at first wouldn't admit to anyone, not even myself, that I saw Peter as more than a friend. And then she had to get her own back at Peter for spurning her. Bloody Foreigner. But she finessed even him, you got to admire that.
All water under the Queensboro Bridge now. Against all expectations she really got it out of her system. When she got involved with Flash, Peter at first thought she did it to get his goat, but it turned out she genuinely loved the big lug. And then, when Peter went missing again and I didn't know where to turn, she became the best friend a Spider-wife could wish for. Pity the marriage with Flash didn't work out it seems to fit both their romantic track records unfortunesadly - but at least they remained good friends after the divorce. She's the Cat who walks by herself and all the ways are the same to her, but she's also true to her friends.
She and I now phone or meet pretty much every weekfortnight. I sometimes joke she lives a happy marriage life vicariously through Peter and me. Although at times it is eerie to sit with her how intimate she's been with Peter, and I don't just mean sexually though it's damnhard not to think of sex when she's in her clingy low-cut playsuit though comtothinkofit she doesn't wear it that much these days, age and Colin have taken their toll. Felicia wears a sports bra now usually, but back in those days they jiggleaped all over the place she said it was a useful distraction when fighting straight males but she does have an exhibitionist streak sent Peter those nude pix of herself with the letter explaining how she'd duped both Petey and the Foreigner back in ninety-three. She was very prettysexyvoluptuous then in her way she still is her boobs may sag a bit more now, but her face 'fanything is more beautiful and characteristic than it was then. If I wasn't so sure of my Petey...
Yes, we both know Peter well, she knows Spider-Man some aspects anyway in ways I possibly don't and she quite likely knows some aspects of me that I've hardly if ever discussed with him.
Funny how that works out.
In some ways a person sometimes gets to know anotherlovedonefriend better than s/he knows himherself. That sometimes is evident with the three of us, sometimes I think Felicia and I figure out what Petey is going to do before he finishes coming to his decision. Similarly Peter and I with Felicia. Shouldn't be surprised if Petey'n'Licia sometimes talk about me and figure me out before I do myself. Like the time when I spent more than a week to decide if I should accept the female lead in Flywheel even though it entailed a brief nude scene. Peter wasn't exactly about his wife showing off her boobies for the world to see, but he didn't try to talk me out of it and he wasn't surprised neither was Felicia can't wait to see them tit for tit after you saw those photos she said. Whooboy, what she would say if she ever got her hands on Peter's and my private photo collection...! Wonder what May Parker would have said, she talked me out of accepting a part with nudity in that action flick whatever was its title the name of the star Schwartzfelder or something good thing she did too. At least I waited for a good part in a first-tier production maybe even May wouldn't have objected to that and been glad about the Silver Bear. Hard to say, she knew how to keep a secret, did Aunt May, only a couple of weeks before she passed away did she let on that she had found out that her nephew is Spider-Man years ago, neither Peter nor I had suspected, she gave no clue in her behavior. Neither did she tell Peter about my life story before I was ready to tell it to him myself or let on the secrets Aunt Anna had confided in her. Deep down she was never judgmental, in spite of her upbringing... Such a tragedy she had to die before her first grandchildniece was born at least it's a blessing she knew about my pregnancy we didn't even get a chance to tell her, she just took one look and said why Mary Jane you're pregnant. Sharp-eyed little lady, there was so much more to her than even Peter suspected, and he'd lived with her for so long. Wonder if Aunt Anna knows that Peter is Spider-Man, if she does I'll wager it isn't because May Parker blabbed.
Course Peter had good reasons not to tell people about the webs thing, and given the grief Anna had from the family ... Still, even in some cases where you'd think it would be possible and safe to take someone into your confidence, where you'd trust them implicitly.
Careful, the tub's a bit slippery. Ahhh, the towel's so fluffy and warm, and the sound of the water gurgling down the drain is not loud enough to be obtrusive...
Take the McCoys, whom we'll be visiting tonight. Good friends, both colleagues of Peter, he as a scientist and superhero, she as a journalist. Marygay was a flower-girl at their wedding and Trish had her first daughter in the same hospital the day after I had Felix and Geena. But they're among the people where you suspect they might know about your secret, but where you don't ask if they do know, obviously that would give the game away. On the other hand, they don't mention it either, which means that they either actually don't know, or that they don't want to talk about it because it would irretrievable alter the nature of our relationship....
We knew that some of Hank McCoy's teammates know who Spider-Man is, either because they read his mind or smelled him out (is this creepy or what?). But still, Peter likes to give them the benefit of the doubt and hopes they're discreet and didn't tell the Beast.
It's a bit like that with Joe Robertson, editor of the Bugle and Peter's former boss. He suspected for years that Robbie managed to deduce the secret of his identity, but he never mustered the courage to broach the subject with him, even though Robbie had become something like a father to him. When Kraven buried Peter shortly after our wedding and I was frantically looking for him all over town I thought of talking to Robbie, but when push came to shove I couldn't either ... It's not easy being a superhero's spouse. I could swap notes with Trish Tilby if I wanted to, but I daren't. And she never talked to me on the lines of you don't know what it's like to live with a superhero to raise children who may develop powers as well. But is that out of consideration or because she doesn't know I'm in the same predicament and she has other friends with whom she talks about this stuff?
Plus she had other problems to worry about recently, the whole Legacy thing and the hate mail she gets from mutant-haters. It's a sobering thought just to consider the bucks she and Hank have to spend on security devices to continue living where they do, and their Tribeca neighborhood is actually very friendly on the whole and quite proud to number them among its residents.
And people wonder why so many prefer the schizophrenia of multiple identities to letting the world know about their superpowers!
Not that it's entirely easy liars keeping need track of good memories who can be taken into confidence about what and who has to be served with a cover story. Guess it would be a lot harder if Peter wasn't my best friend as well as my husbandlove.
Well, hair's dry and combed, good ol' do is so easy to maintain, good thing the retro '60s look is no longer out. Hmmmm, the lady in the mirror doesn't look too bad after two pregnancies and now that Geena and Felix are weaned I no longer leak. Do I put on the peach top or the green? Or maybe the black one, to put Petey in mind of our first meeting along with the hair? What's the time? Still at least half an hour before we have to phone Randy and Mandy to say good-night to the children Peter should be home by then. After foiling that bank-robbery in Midtown he's making way home, hopefully. Nice of the Robertsons to take in our brood tonight, besides, Marygay will enjoy the sleepover, she likes being with Toni and Ethan. Just hope the little ones behave after feeding and don't wake up everybody in the middle of the night. Hope the evening with the McCoys doesn't last take too long, it would be nice if Peter and I could make a night of it afterwards, having our place to ourselves for a little proper whoopee, it's been a while since we could do it in the living-room or web each other up without having to worry about interruptions. Not that it's been entirely barren these past few months that time in the supplies room at ESU actually was a huge turn-on furtive just pushing aside clothes for quick access, walking past the teaching assistant as if nothing was amiss, but it'll be nice to take the time for a full debauch again wild and intense I want it and Peter can use it as well it really is amazing how different sex with him can be under different circumstances Peter's fave Elvis Costello 'Oliver's Army', funny, the first time I heard that I thought it was going to be about Cromwell and the English Civil War there still are times when we're almost in awe of each other, when making love is almost like a sacred act, on others it's just playful fun we gigglebabble all the way through Weird Al Yankovic I wonder how many can be as funny during sex as my dear hubby without it becoming distractive then there's times when we say hardly a word just talk to each Suzanne Vega other with our bodies Cowboy Junkies like when he had just escaped from the grave Kraven had dug for him and he took me showed mehimself he was still alive our synergy melted away our worries and fears renewed his strength he said our love was what enabled him to dig himself back to the lifesurface those terrible days of waiting but oh the weight of his sleeping head on my chest again his moist lips refusing to let go of the pink flesh eatch stubblescratch of his unshaven cheek against my skin a reminder he came back to life and me the man my brain sometimes finds hard to fathom but whom my heart knows in and out of course there's never going to be another time like the first time back in his old apartment in Chelsea getting to know each other for the first time that way of course some things weren't that much of a revelation his costume's so tight it doesn't leave anything to the imagination, neither did the tight T-shirts I wore back then. But to feel our hearts beat in unison for the first time funny expression carnal knowledge but the writers of the Bible chose a good word for this...
Yes, I'll definitely go for the black dress, it's one of Peter's favorites and it's cut low enough to raise his expectations. Let's make the most of this night, who knows how long it'll be until we two hard-working parents get another chance like this.
Story Notes: This story, which first appeared in Naboo Menshevik #75 (a fanzine produced for MZS-APA, July/August 2002), is set in the main Twilight Menshevik timeline, in the year 2001. If you read The Ballad of Trish and Henry, you will recall that Peter and Mary Jane's twins, Felix and Geena, and Hank McCoy and Trish Tilby's first child, Effie were born within 24 hours of each other in the same Queens hospital on May 12 and 13, 2000. Johnny and Lyja Storm's adoptive son Z'rquon made a brief appearance in Something Old, Something New, Something Borrowed, Someone Blue, as did Marygay Parker, who also had more substantial appearances as a grownup in some of the Days of Future Twilight stories. To elaborate on some of Mary Jane's allusions, Felicia Hardy and Flash Thompson's marriage ended in divorce, but unlike the MC2 version they had only a son, Colin. Amanda and Randy Robrtson, whom you may recall from some Spider-Man stories (especially in Web of Spider-Man) not long before the Spider-wedding, did not get divorced in the Twilight Menshevik reality and instead had two children. Finally MJ's elder sister married a second time about three years after the Parker-Watson wedding, She met her husband, Carl O'Hara, during the investigations into her father's criminal activities.
Copyright Notes: Beast (Henry McCoy), Black Cat (Felicia Hardy), Daily Bugle, Daredevil (Matt Murdock), Empire State University, Foreigner, Human Torch (Johnny Storm), J. Jonah Jameson (I didn’t know his last name is pronounced in three syllables), Kraven the Hunter, Legacy, Muir Island, Gayle Watson O’Hara (formerly Byrnes), May Parker, Puma, Amanda ‘Mandy’, Joe and Randy Robertson, Skrulls, Spider-Man (Peter Parker), Eugene ‘Flash’ Thompson, Trish Tilby, Anna May Watson, Mary Jane Watson-Parker, Wolverine (Logan) and the X-Men are (c) and TM Marvel Comics.
Colin Thompson Hardy, Angela and Carl O’Hara, Felix, Geena and Marygay Parker, Antonella ‘Toni’ and Ethan Robertson, and Z’rquon Storm are (c) Tilman Stieve.
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