Stories by Tilman Stieve
of the Twilight Menshevik"
Takes place sometime after X-Men 8. Centering mainly on Valerie Cooper and Mystique, this series of stories is set just after Chris Claremont's departure from the X-Books. Features tales about multiple X-characters, as well as characters from other Marvel and D.C. books.
A filk based on the song "The Leader of the Pack," this version starring the X-women.
A between-the-panels tale of Rogue and Magneto during their time in the Savage Land, circa UXM 269-275. (Warning: Sexual content)
"Point of No
A very short "between the panels story" set after Amazing Spider-Man #149, in
which Mary Jane Watson reflects on her relationship with Peter Parker. (Warning:
Mary Jane writes to her mother about current events and her relationship with
Peter. Sequel to Point of No Return.
"A Song of the Valkyrior"
222 lines of verse that retell the events in New Mutants Special Editon #1 and Uncanny X-Men Annual #9 from multiple perspectives.
Tilman Stieve has many pieces of artwork on display in the
Fan Art section.
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 (email@example.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.
Before the Plunge can be understood on its own. It is a between-the-panels story set in the two-day gap before the epilogue of Amazing Spider-Man #292. It is a sequel of sorts to my 1996 short story Point of No Return, which can be found, along with my other Tales, on "Down-Home Charm," "MissyRedX: The Average Website," and "Stacy's Fan-Fiction Page."
Before the Plunge
It’s been too long, Mother. I haven’t been here since the funeral, but well ... I really couldn’t have visited your grave without seeing Gayle, and that was something I wanted to avoid at any price. Maybe I was too ashamed of having left her and her kids, for all my protestations that I was not obliged to have the shape of my life constrained by her mistakes. After all, she didn’t consult me before marrying Timmy Byrnes. But when I left home and went to New York, I was still overcompensating for the unhappiness at home, the happy-go-lucky party girl person had become my second nature — or was it the first? — that would have been entirely inappropriate for a visit to Pittsburgh. I was so used to projecting it, that doing without it would have taken a big effort, and then Gayle would have felt justified to call me a hypocrite, and thought that I only pretended to be concerned about her and the boys. As she actually did, when I finally showed up a few days ago. Or as Peter did at first when I tried to comfort him after Gwen Stacy’s
But let’s get back to Gayle. You really can be proud of her, you know. She is raising Tommy and Kevin wonderfully, they’re great kids. Gayle did not let the hurt she felt after she was abandoned by Timmy ... and me ... poison their lives. Still, she can’t have led a too happy life. From what little I gathered during my stay, she doesn’t seem to have many close friends because she devoted so much of her life to her boys and maybe because Tim Byrnes ran out on her...
Which may be a reason why Philip managed to talk her into participating in his foolish scheme to steal the Tavistock Paper. Yes, Philip Watson, our father, the man who did such a great job of ruining your life. He still hasn’t written the Great American Novel, but he had enough of a way with words about him to smooth-talk Gayle into becoming his accomplice in theft against her better judgment.
Well, in the end he was stopped from ruining Gayle’s life as well. At least that I could prevent, but it took Gayle’s help and Peter’s support for me to go through with it. I told him he had lost the right to be called ‘dad’ by me, but still, handing him over to the cops did not come easy. Blood really is thicker than water ... I don’t look forward to telling all about it to Aunt Anna. Philip hasn’t spoken a word to her in over 40 years, but after all he is her brother...
But apart from that I’m happy with my life at the moment, believe it or not, mom. You remember how I’d always talk about becoming a famous actress? Well, I’m actually making some headway there. Right now I also get quite a few modeling gigs, but that’s useful too. I’ve overcome my fear of letting people get close to me, I have some very good friends, and now I’m even on speaking terms with Gayle again.
And then there’s Peter.
You may remember seeing him when we stayed in Forest Hills at Aunt Anna’s. He was the boy raised by her neighbors, the Parkers. The orphaned son of Mr. Parker’s brother. The one Aunt Anna always wanted to fix me up with, but whom I always avoided meeting by hook and by crook.
Actually, he was one of the reasons — not the only one, I’m afraid — why my behavior sometimes was so bizarre. I was scared of meeting him...
Remember that time when Mr. Parker was murdered and I, like a total yutz, left for a party while you and Anna looked after poor Mrs. Parker? That was because I had just looked out of the window and seen Peter run into the Parker house and then moments later Spider-Man came out of the window of his room. I had stumbled across his greatest secret and didn’t know what to do. I just had to get away because I instinctively felt that I could not speak to you or anyone else about it. I don’t rightly remember if I seriously tried to follow, but I soon lost sight of Spider-Man’s figure as he swung into the darkness. In the end I actually wound up at the party, trying to lose myself in the dancing. The next day there was a minor news item about the capture of the burglar who had killed Ben Parker...
It soon became clear that Spider-Man had changed that night, from a showman to one of those costumed ‘super-heroes’ who catch criminals and save people’s lives. And I knew who he really was!
Years later Peter told me what had happened. He had almost been run over by that burglar not much earlier when he was leaving from a TV appearance. The burglar was pursued by an elderly policeman and got away because Spider-Man didn’t stop him though he easily could have. So he was indirectly responsible for his uncle’s death. Ever since he’s been trying to make up for it and to live up the responsibility he thinks his powers thrust upon him. And no matter how many lives he saves, I don’t think he’ll ever stop feeling guilty for those who were hurt because of his real and imagined mistakes, because no matter what he did he can’t bring back those who died on his watch.
But I didn’t know that at the time, even if I sensed that Ben Parker’s murder had something to do with the emergence of the new Spider-Man. Peter became such a mystery to me, for in his ‘normal’ life he did not change as noticeably, at least at first. Everyone still saw him as the quiet, well-behaved, nerdy kind of guy he had been before. Almost like the stereotypical description of the unsuspected serial killer. If he could give no indication of the kind of person he was as Spider-Man, could he be hiding some other, darker secret as well? I remembered how charming fa-, Philip could be to his colleagues, so that no one suspected how he treated you at home ... The net result was that I used every pretext I could think of to foil Anna’s and May’s efforts to arrange a date. At one point I even faked a headache.
I only relented when I moved to New York after you died. Anna and May finally got their wish, and it actually went better than I fea-, expected. Peter and I hit it off from our first face-to-face meeting. He apparently was bowled over by my looks and I found he was quite nice, in a slightly Charlie Brownish kind of way. We became close friends after a fashion. It wasn’t a terribly deep or serious, but that was how I wanted it. Or so I thought. Peter wanted to get serious with someone, but soon decided that someone was not me. But there was a funny thing: When Petey finally did become a serious item with Gwen Stacy, I noticed that I felt a certain — well, I’d hesitate to call it jealousy, but there was a certain dissatisfaction with the state of affairs on my part. I wasn’t yet ready for a proper relationship, but somehow Peter intrigued me more than his roommate Harry Osborn, whom I dated at the time.
Still, I was good old MJ then, party girl extraordinary. I could not stay serious for long about anything or anybody. Peter and Gwen were happy together, and I got over it, even though I suspected that he hadn’t told her about his extracurricular activities. Or rather, there never had been anything for me to get over.
All that changed when Gwen was killed in a fight between Spider-Man and the Green Goblin, Harry’s father gone crazy. He had found out Peter’s secret, kidnapped his girlfriend and thrown her off the Brooklyn Bridge. In his next fight, Norman Osborn was killed by one of his own machines.
I had a better idea of how Peter must have felt than most anyone else who knew him, for I knew that not only had he lost his love, but guessed that he at the same time felt bad because she had become the Green Goblin’s target because of him and because he as Spider-Man had not been able to save her. He was my friend, he needed a friend to help him grieve and comfort him, and I would not let him down.
At first he rejected me, lashed out at me saying I wouldn’t even care if my own mother died.
He was wrong, but how was he to know? I had always steered the conversation away from the subject of our family, always shut my mouth about my feelings about you, Gayle and the others... My happy-go-lucky façade had turned around to kick me in the teeth. I nearly walked away from Peter, but somehow I dug in my heels and stayed. We sat together in silence and cried for Gwen. I think he found it easier to give vent to the fullness of his pain with me around than with our male friends or even with Betty Brant...
In the weeks that followed Peter continued to need attention, and I spent a lot of time with him. Our friends began to wonder if there was more than just friendship to our closer companionship. But I resisted, wanted us to stay just friends, partly because I had seen before how Gayle’s marriage had turned sour, while Aunt Anna, who was single and unattached for as long as I could remember, was one of the happiest people I knew. But gradually it dawned on Peter and me how much deeper our feelings had become, that we were in love...
For a time we were to all intents engaged. We spent most of our free time together, had sex occasionally. He can lift a truck with his bare hands, but he’s a gentle... ahem. Anyway, in the end things did not work out as smoothly as some people hoped. Why? I found it difficult to come to terms with the concept of a full commitment, besides there was still an annoying element of doubt because he still didn’t come out and tell me he was Spider-Man. That was probably a misunderstanding between us. I now think that in his shy way he wanted me to find out by myself, and that was why he practically forced the keys to his apartment on me. At least subconsciously he was as impatient for me to bring the matter up as I was for him to spill the beans about it. Anyway, whatever the reasons, I eventually chickened out and left New York when Anna
moved to Florida. That Peter had not come clean about Spider-Man even when he proposed to marry me was as good an excuse as any.
I dated other men while I was away, but given the career I had chosen, it was only a matter of time before I returned to New York, and that meant seeing Peter again. When I finally did go to his apartment again to return his keys, I saw that he had not been idle in the meantime either, there was a girl with him...
Poor Peter! Actually, the lady in question was just trying to make her real boyfriend jealous, but Petey’s face...!
Anyway, at that point in time we were both once more unattached and so our matchmaking aunts and friends immediately tried to bring us together again. But Peter and I were determined to remain just friends and both looked elsewhere for romance. As a matter of fact, shortly after my return he had serious thing with a costumed adventuress, the Black Cat. It was the first time he had fallen in love as Spider-Man instead of as Peter, but it did not last long, nor did it end without bitterness.
But I finally told Peter I knew he is Spider-Man. After some token attempts at denial he grew to accept it, and that transformed our friendship. From now on we could talk truthfully about everything, even about the things we had kept to ourselves for nearly forever. That went both ways — not only could he confide in me about his lonely life as a costumed crime-fighter and about his guilty sense of failure about some of the things that had happened to him, but I too could finally start telling someone about me and Gayle, something I would not have willingly discussed even with Anna...
We became a lot more forthright and honest with each other, and I for one liked it. Also that we both knew that we could always rely on each other when needed.
Did I say ‘more honest’? Well, in most respects that was true, except perhaps in the most important one. We still told ourself and each other that we were friends and no more, when we had long grown to close for that to remain a truthful classification of our relationship.
It became hard to keep up the pretense after Peter kissed me. He’s a serious boy, man, person, he does not do such a thing if he doesn’t mean it, but it was a situation where he needed the kind of comfort that only I could give him.
Soon after he had a harrowing trip to Europe, after which he tried to return to ‘normalcy’, as far as that still was possible. At first there was enough to occupy our minds — the mystery of the Hobgoblin, the murder of Ned Leeds, the activities of the Foreigner and the Black Cat — but there finally came a time when Peter no longer was too busy to think about us, and then he made up his mind to propose to me again...
I was flabbergasted, didn’t know what to say, even though I had half feared, half expected this ever since that kiss. I tried to prevaricate, extemporize, anything to avoid facing up to how our relationship had changed, to avoid giving an answer.
In the end you could say I ran away again, but that was because I had to come to Pittsburgh because Gayle had gotten into trouble with the law because of Philip’s stupid schemes.
But there I soon got in over my head and then I was glad that I could rely on Peter. Even though he had a crisis on his hands in New York he didn’t ask why I wanted him here, he just dropped everything and caught the next flight to Pittsburgh.
It wasn’t easy for him. Especially when he puts on his suit he is used to do things to help, I think it was very hard for him to hold back. I wonder if he actually realized how much he helped me just by being with me...
Of course Peter has the kind of problems that won’t just go away, in this case Spencer Smythe and his Spider-Slayer followed him, and I wound up getting caught up in the skirmish. But that was okay, more or less, or at least something I had gotten used to with Petey...
Well, it was a busy few days, and I learned a lot about myself and about Peter. Tomorrow Gayle comes out of prison, and then we’ll fly back to New York. And you know what? I’m going to tell Peter I’ll marry him.
I see that I needed someone who cares for me like Peter does, so it might as well be him if he’s the one I love best. And Peter seems happier when I’m there for him (even though he complained at first when I paid to have his apartment repaired and refurbished) and, let’s face it, if there’s someone else who could be better for him I don’t see her. We’re both so much better, so much happier when we’re together, it’s just no contest. I know now that it’ll be different for us than it was for Gayle and Timmy and for you and Philip. We didn’t need to be married to look out for each other, but it’s going to be more honest and closer this way. It’s not going to be as easy as we want, but it’s going to be great.
Wish me luck, mom, the next time I’ll visit I’ll be Mrs. Watson-Parker.
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