New York City, NY ---The Stacy Residence
“GONNA ROCK IT UP, ROLL IT UP, HAVE A BALL, SATURDAY NIGHT!”
Harry Osborn swung the mic around, doing a half-assed moonwalk and swaying his shoulders side to side as he sang.“SATURDAY NIGHT!”
Peter joined with the backing vocals, hitting each and every drum on the kit, trying to figure out their sound and keep time with the music blasting from Harry’s OsPhone.“S-S-S-SATURDAY NIGHT!”
Harry danced through the garage with a purpose, sliding around Mr. Stacy’s old chevy and just missing its side window with the bottom of the mic stand.“S-S-S-SATURDAY NIGHT!”
Peter found his rhythm, pounding the snare in beautifully discordant time with the music, banging the other drums when it seemed appropriate. The sounds clashed together in a jumble in the cramped garage, bouncing and echoing out into the street.“S-S-S-SATURDAY NIGHT!”
Harry spun on his heel and pointed to Peter. “Take it away!”“S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y -- NIGHT!”
Peter punctuated every letter with a smack of the bass drum.“S-A-T-U- Hey!”
Harry’s voice cracked as his mic gave out and the sound from his OsPhone died. Mary Jane Watson glared at the boys from the mouth of the garage, silhouetted against the low light of the sunset. She spun her disconnected mic cord in a slow circle.“We go to the 7-11 for like ten minutes, guys.”
She dropped the cord as the rest of the girls filed in, Gwen Stacy, Betty Brant, and Glory Grant, arms stacked high with tremendous amounts of junk food, complete with an amount of Cheesy Puffs that was probably criminal.“I thought it was pretty good.”
Peter tried a rimshot, the stick bouncing up and off the snare drum as he nearly took out his own eye.“Harry sounded like a dying animal, and you’re beating my drums like they owe you money.”
Gwen put a heap of bursting plastic bags on the hood of the chevy and went to inspect her drum kit, pushing Peter in her stool out of the way with her foot.“Ouch.”
Harry handed MJ’s microphone over and went in for a quick kiss.“Girl calls it like she sees it, tiger,”
MJ said as she sidestepped him. They stuck their tongues out at each other and laughed, MJ tending to the band equipment while Harry went to investigate the snack situation.
Peter righted himself and stood from the stool, watching Gwen as she worked. She rubbed at all the little scuffs and marks he’d left behind in his bungling of the kit, wiping them away with the long sleeve of her dark sweatshirt. Her hair was down to her neck, pushed back by a black hairband. It brought out her eyes, Peter thought, brilliant and pale blue.“No twizzlers? And on Osborn dime! You wound me!”
Harry grabbed a bag of cheese puffs in lieu of his favorite snack and threw Peter his share.“Your Dad could buy the twizzler corporation, Har.”
The bag sailed well past his head, but Peter’s Spider Sense flashed and he snatched the bag clean out of the air, one-handed.“Woah, Pete! Nice catch.”
Harry said, through a mouthful of puffs.
“Join the football team, why dontcha.” Glory joked. She and Betty tuned their instruments, chords softly plinking off the array of cardboard boxes strewn around the basement.“Maybe then Liz Allan would finally make a move.”
Harry grinned like an idiot. Glory and Betty laughed as they plugged in their instruments, and Gwen looked down, staring intently at her snare drum. She bit her lip.“C’mon, guys…”
Peter rubbed the back of his neck.“Girls, girls, leave the poor kid alone. Let’s jam, huh?”
MJ strummed her guitar. The notes echoed out of the garage and into the street beyond. Betty and Glory plugged into their amps.“Working on Face It Tiger?”
Gwen settled into her stool as Peter and Harry pulled up cardboard boxes at the mouth of the garage, trying not to crush them with their weight.“Hm… Let’s work on that beat you whipped up, Gwen.”
MJ said.“Rad. One two three four!”
Gwen slammed her sticks together and came down on the drums like rolling thunder, the pounding pulse of the bass drum giving life to the other girls’ impromptu guitar work. MJ started on a riff and Betty and Glory followed suit, fingers dancing along the steel fiber of the guitar strings and wailing out killer chords.“Ah ah ah ah, ah! Ah ah ah ah ah ah!”
MJ vocalized as she played, belting at the notes while boys nodded their heads from the cardboard boxes. Harry started with his air guitar and Peter laughed, joining in with a pantomimed drum kit, mimicking as many of Gwen’s moves as he could. She never looked up, her eyes were closed and the music was all around her. Her hair was wild in the air as she played, sticks slamming into drums and resounding bass blasting through the garage. Her hairband bounced wildly, threatening to fling off and take out somebody’s eye as she mashed her snare and raked the rim of her high-hat in time with the beat.
***“That was fucking legendary.”
Harry jumped out of his seat and pumped his fist in the air. MJ grinned and shot a glance back at Gwen.“Ain’t nothing without the backbeat.”
MJ shot a wink to Gwen. She smiled and folded her drumsticks together, giving a little bow from her stool.
“Or lyrics, MJ.” Betty teased.“Ah, we’ll get there when we get there.”
MJ waved her off.“You guys could write it about Spider-Man?”
As soon as Peter said it, his hand shot up to cover his mouth. Crap.“Oh, God, my dad would have a conniption.”
Gwen said.“Hey, why not? He’s hot right now, up and coming.”
Harry shrugged. “You could go viral with it, or something.”
“He fought the police,” Betty interjected.“Yeah, he gives the pigs a runaround, and then spent the next few days cleaning up the neighborhood.”
MJ said.“What about my Dad?”
Gwen crossed her arms.“Well, yknow, he’s one of the good ones. I’m sure Spidey wouldn’t touch a hair on his chinny chin chin. Probably.”
Harry said. He popped a handful of cheese puffs into his mouth.
Gwen frowned. “Couldn’t it be about something more… I dunno, neutral? Like, what about Iron Man?”
“Tony Stark’s pet project, blowing people up in Transia? Great idea.” Glory rolled her eyes.
Peter put his hands up. “I mean, I just... Kinda heard it in my head. Yknow, ‘da nuh nuh nuh, da nuh nuh na, Spider-Man’… Something like that. Seems natural.”“Anything’s possible. We’ll workshop it.”
MJ adjusted the strap of her guitar and flittered between the strings with her pick. ”Another round, ladies?”“Actually, I was hoping to talk to Pete, quick?”
Gwen’s sticks clattered against the snare drum.
MJ cocked an eyebrow. “Uh… Sure. Take five.”
Gwen stood and brushed past the band. Her hands felt soft and arm as she took Peter’s arm and guided him outside the garage, bringing him to the side of the house, between the garbage and a dilapidated recycling bin. She toed it aside and leaned against the wall.
Peter swallowed. “Did… Did I piss you off with the Spider-Man thing?”“No Pete, it’s…”
She huffed. “Yknow how Spider-Man was at the Bugle a week or so ago?”“Uh… Sure.”
Peter stuck his hands in his pockets.“Do you know what he was there for?”
Gwen looked to both sides. She whispered, “I’m not supposed to tell anybody but, I think you should know. He was grilling Jameson about your Uncle Ben.”“I -- what?” ... Maybe I should’ve been a little more tactful with that one. Really good at this Secret ID thing, Parker.“I know it’s crazy but are you sure he wasn’t… I dunno, mixed up in anything?”
Peter shook his head. “You’ve known Ben since we were kids!”“I know but, my Dad says the whole department’s acting weird about it. The case keeps getting shuffled around. Lost in the bureaucracy.”What?
Peter’s hands came out of his pockets. “And you’re just telling me this now?”
Gwen hugged herself, and looked down, not meeting Peter’s eyes. “I didn’t… I didn’t want to worry you, Pete. I know you get anxious, and --”
Peter felt his fists clench and he kept them down, pressed against his sides. Goddamnit
. “But I deserve to know.”“Even I’m not supposed to know.”
She looked back up at him.“Then why tell me at all?”“I didn’t want you to get frustrated about --”“What? Lack of progress? Frustrated that my g-”
Peter caught himself, “Friend isn’t telling me anything?”
Peter saw tears in her eyes. She turned away. “I -- I’m just trying to help.”“I gotta… I think I need to go.”“Peter?”
Gwen’s voice disappeared into the background as Peter hurried down the street. There was a black fire in him, boiling beneath the surface, Spider-Man waiting to jump out. He could feel it crawling already, begging to be put on.No movement on the case. No closer to Tombstone.
Peter's footsteps echoed across the pavement. The suit popped and fizzled, he felt it in between his muscles, rising to the surface of his skin.Am I…? Oh my God.I’m going to break into the NYPD.Nuts.