2019-05-28 - Fortune Cookie Forgiveness


Peter shows Thea some ideas, some trust, and she tries to convince him he's good.

Log Info:

Storyteller: None
Date: Tue May 28 05:32:27 2019
Location: Chinatown

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Thea will look at her phone, a smile. She will move out of the flow of people on the sidewalk, into the mouth on an alley, to reply.

Hey. Unfriendly patron here. I'm free, just tell me when and where. Don't worry, if I ever have plans that can't be broken, I'd tell you. You hungry?

After a minute, a reply.
"Yeah, actually. Want me to grab takeout? I'm near Chinatown right now. The Golden Pagoda has rooftop dining."

Thea laughs, a glance towards the street. "I can meet you there, unless you don't trust me sans mask. Or is rooftop dining how you say to meet you after you snag takeout. I mean.. how can you eat in that thing?"

"Meet me in 30 and I'll show you. Then I'll show you a few other things, and I think you'll like them." A pause, then a new text. "NOTES! The new suit!"
That may be just a warm breeze, or it may be the burning cheek of the Spider-Man who just realized how that might sound.

Thea laughs, even as she moves to hail a cab, sliding in to order it to head to chinatown. "I never expected you to mean otherwise, my friendly spider. I've seen you with your Blackbird friend."

Spidey blinked. Blackbird? She was a competent and principled person, but he felt his heart belonged to the daughter of one of the most powerful men in the world.
"Let me know what you'd like to order. I'll send the menu to you in a PDF." Whew. He pulled up the menu from the Pagoda's website and forwarded it to Thea.

Thea will look at the PDF menu, hmming to herself. "Okay, the chicken and broccoli and some crab rangoon. Those are my favorites. Get some sweet and sour sauce to dip the rangoon in? I'll be up on the roof shortly. Don't worry, I'll manage without webs."

Spidey nods. "Making the order now. See you soon."
He sends the text, then turns to the young Asian woman and relays the order to her. "Thanks."
"Thank you, Honored Spider. My niece owes you her life." The woman bows, then heads down the stairs.
Spidey sits down and sighs. Who needs platitudes and medals? Knowing a little girl goes to sleep tonight in safety is HIS anti-depressant.

Thea will toss the money to the cabby through the drawer in the plastic window that separates front from back, leaving him a generous tip. She will put her dark blonde braid down the back of her sweater, and find a way to climb up to the roof - likely using the fire escape ladder. She will feel for anyone other than Spidey, before she will hop up over the ledge and onto the roof. "Is this how you meet all your patrons?"

The roof has four tables around a fenced-in area, and there is a set of stairs for customer use. Spider-Man is sitting at one of the tables. His mask is rolled up to reveal his face, but only up to his nose. A single tuft of hair along the hairline reveals he has brown hair.
He looks up and stands as Thea comes up. "Uhm…well, since you're my ONLY patron, yeah." He smiles sheepishly, revealing even white teeth.

Thea moves to sit down at the table with him, pulling her braid out from under her sweater. "Oh look, I can see your mouth. How long until I can see your whole face, since you've seen mine since day one?" She will ask, smirking at him. The hair is different, the eyes a hazel shade, her makeup is different to accent different feature than when they met last.

Spidey chuckles. "I am no heroic he-man, Thea. I think you would be quite disappointed. Under all this, I'm only a guy doing what I can." He sits after Thea sits. "The food will be up in about ten minutes or so. I wanted to show you what your generous donation is doing."

He takes out a folder, then opens it and hands Thea a sheet with a chemical compound illustrated in small hexagons. "A stronger version of the synthetic spider-silk I use for the webbing. Another one of the Spiders can use this as well, and I was able to get her six months' worth of the stuff in liquid form."

"It doesn't matter what I think of your looks, Spider. It matters that I can see your fast, just like you can see mine. I'm just a woman, doing what I can." She shrugs. "I'm in no rush."

She will pick up the paper to look at, studying it. "See, biology is my specialty, but I know organic chemistry. This isn't it." She smirks at him, sliding it back. "So you can do more with this, right? Web up the bad guys like I saw done the other night?"

Spidey nods, then hands Thea a few other papers. The first one is a web-shooter, but it is more streamlined. The notes display some kind of auto-feed system, even a Bluetooth symbol. The next one is a section of the suit, revealing layers of Kevlar, silk, and some kind of neural network that seems to be dispersed throughout the suit. One note says "20 TB" and "parallel-processing" and is followed by another note reading "Expert System."
"The entire suit is going to function as a wearable computer."

"Will twenty terrabytes be enough?" She will ask him, a glance up from the display, before she's looking back at it. "Parallel processors? Not quad?"

Spidey chuckles. "Twenty sections, twenty processors, all running in parallel. It's practically a server in itself. And it is modular, so it will be upgradeable. The bus will be made of room-temp mercury-based superconductor. But right now, the Expert system will only need four TB to function at its best."

"Mecury based, isn't that dangerous? I mean, it can be nasty stuff, especially if something breaks and it seeps through onto your skin." Thea asks, head tilting, curious. "How much do you need to make these, for you and your crew of spiderettes? I did promise to try and help you get the most cutting edge stuff. Better you than the bad guys."

"Spiderettes? I'll have you know we have another guy Spider. Sable Spider. Just met him last week…"
The young woman arrives with a wide tray, expertly placing their food in front of them. Spidey seems to be a fan of Mongolian beef and chicken egg rolls. She finishes, then bows to Spider-Man. "Good fortune to you, Honored Spider." She smiled to Thea, bowing quickly, then headed downstairs.
Spidey looks to the two tall glasses. "Looks like she gave us both Arnold Palmers. Want me to call her back and get you a different drink?"

"Okay, the Spiderlings." Thea jokes, before she's smiling at the woman who brings the tray. She will say "thank you" in Mandarin, before she's reaching for a crab rangoon. "I've drank far worse, Spidey. I can live with it. Let the poor woman do her job."

Spidey smiles wryly. "Nothing against you. I like them, myself. Believe me when I say it is a refreshing drink." He takes a bit of rice and beef, swallows, then says, "Well, that's still better than JJJ calling them the Spider-Harem. Jeez. Anyway, the mercury is simply a part of the process. I'll have you know I use proper safety procedures and dispose of any toxic substances in a proper manner. But the superconductor itself comes out safe to handle, malleable, and non-toxic after a coating of insulation. With the right software and hardware, I'll be completely plugged in. And after I test the prototype, the others are welcome to get their own if they want it."

"They're not a Harem. Some of them are not even attracted to you, they're more into… other ladies, I beleive." Thea says, shrugging. She doesn't judge. "So long as the superconductor is safe for all of you, that's all I care about. Mercury poisoning is unpleasant."

She bites into a crab rangoon, chewing thoughtfully. She will wash it down with some Arnold Palmer. "How much for the proto, and how long until you'll be done testing and starting with the others?"

Spidey sighs. "It takes days to code. Maybe even weeks. I do have more time now, though. I figure it will take two weeks to fabricate the suit and the software, another week to debug and test." He looks around, then takes a deep breath. "I…suppose we have trust."

And, in one smooth motion, he reached up to pull the mask off.
He is correct. It is not the kind of face that you find on a movie poster or the likes of Captain America. Brown hair, brown eyes, and a face that is somewhat triangular, moving down to a firm-yet-unheroic chin. The surprising part is how young he looks without the mask. This is a guy who should be planning how to date the cute girl, not face off in a fight with a one-ton wrecking machine like the Rhino.
He looks almost painfully normal.

"Well, you just let me know, and I can get you the money." She glances at him at the mention of more time, nodding. "School's out, so that makes sense." She reaches for another rangoon.

She pauses, just a moment, before she's munching on her rangoon. "See? Isn't it easier to eat? I had no idea you were so cute."

The teenager's cheeks flush, and then he puts the mask back on the same way, only exposing his lower face. To make sure no stray eyes spot him. Yeah, that's the ticket.
"Sorry…it's okay to eat this way. " He points to the eye lenses. "All my senses escalate, so I use these to regulate light."
Another convenient excuse.
"Anyway, I hope that allays some of your concerns. "I feel…a little odd about accepting your money. I guess when you work two jobs in addition to school…but I've accounted for all of it." He takes out another sheet of paper, an itemized list of chemicals and supplies for both the webfluid and the suit. "If you're going to take a chance on me, I should probably make myself accountable."

She snorts, as she digs into ther chicken and broccoli. "You shouldn't bullshit a bio-kinetic. You could handle it fine without the the mask, but you being unmasked makes you anxious. Even with just me. You're afraid of getting seen." Thea smiles, just a bit.

"Spider dude, think about it like this. I've made money doing things you would not approve of. Add on to that, my family is very well off, and I can afford it. I don't want to see those doing good struggle to get it done."

Spider eats, looking thoughtful for a few bites.
"Well, I can't judge you, Thea. I don't have the right, or the authority. I can only see you for what you do now. And as for doing things in the past you wouldn't approve of…"
*"I'm through being pushed aroundby ANYONE! From now on I just look out for Number Oneand that means ME!"*
In that moment, he loathed himself.

"…I've got that covered," he finished quietly.

Thea pauses in eating, noting the physical reaction. "Don't tell me you've done something horrible. You're not old enough." Not that Thea is all that much older than he is. "No one can judge me but me. Because no one in this country knows what I did, kid. There's no one coming for me. But if you're scared.. you need to tell me."

She will reach across the table, to touch his arm. "I want to help you. You and your merry spider misfits do good. I've seen it. I've been there to see it. But if you don't tell me, I can't."

Spidey smiled sadly. "That's easy, Thea. I'm scared ALL THE TIME. That's one of the reasons I wear a mask. So the bad guys can't tell that I'm terrified." He grasps Thea's hand for a moment, noting how warm it is. "Damage is already done, Thea. I did something horrible…and I pay for it every day. So it doesn't matter how scared I am. I have to do something…or what I did will happen again."

Thea will watch him, mask and all. "Kid, trust me. You can tell me. There is nothing, and I mean nothing, you could have done, that matches things that haunt me. Everyone makes mistakes, and they.. they can seem to follow us. But they don't have to." She sighs. "Being haunted is not something I can help with. Bad guys, yes."

For a moment, he almost tells her. He almost admits to killing his uncle. Not murder, but manslaughter, surely. He allowed it to happen.
But he can't. He can't say it.

"I'm…sorry…" he says lamely. "it hurts just to think about it."
She can tell. Listening to his body versus the body of a normal person is like listening to a Ferrari versus a Buick DeSoto. And his heart rate is already creeping up, the stress seeming to bleed from his brain into the rest of his body. Whatever he did, he thinks it is something…monstrous, unspeakable.

"Kid… jesus, this would be easier if you had a name. " Thea sighs, sitting back. "It hurts. It will always hurt. The person you hurt. The person you can't save. The person you killed." She's slowly stating those, waiting for that bump in his pulse to tell her when she hits pay dirt.

The pulse beats steadily, but it does spike. A small spike at the word "hurt." A steady, but elevated rate at the second.
The last is the strongest reaction. His entire body seems to pulse at that. He killed someone, or believed he did.

"…Peter Parker," he said after a long moment, in a very quiet voice.

"Thea Harman. I'm also called River. When people call me to interrogate people, torture people.. other things." Thea says softly, focusing on getting food on her fork. "I haven't known you very long, but in my line of work, you don't get long. Peter… you would never intentionally hurt or kill anyone. You don't have it in your heart." She sounds so very sure of it. "You need to forgive yourself."

"…Manslaughter, Miss Harman…River." Spider-Man looked at his half-eaten meal and pushed it away from him. He wasn't hungry anymore. "One of the most important people in the world to me died…and it's my fault. Because I was weak…and selfish…and short-sighted. I stood by and did NOTHING. And because of that, my uncle is dead. I had a responsibility…and I failed through inaction. WILLFUL inaction." He pulled the mask down the rest of the way. "So now…I do SOMETHING."

"Peter, I can see your growth plates, and judging? You're barely out of high school. Are you positive it was willful inaction, and not shock and surprise? You'd be amazed how blurred that line can seem." She will keep eating, because she's clearly a cold hearted bitch. "Thea is fine still. River is the name people who don't use names get. You were very much a kid. You're still very young. When we're young, we are weak and selfish and short sighted. It's part of growing up." She will look at him, directly. "I am not saying you don't need what you do. But you need to start to forgive yourself too, or you'll never measure up, and you'll get yourself killed."

"I'm sure, Thea. He ran right by me. A foot stuck out, an ounce of webbing. That's all it would have took. But I let him get away. And when the cop asked me why…I told him I was going to take care of myself FIRST."
Spider-Man stands up slowly. "Two weeks later, and the man I let go killed my uncle. He should have been in Riker's. If I had done something, my uncle would still be alive. That is a cold, hard FACT. So now I have to atone for what I chose not to do. And if I get killed…then I still died doing SOMETHING."
He put a 20-dollar bill on the table. "Take the leftovers. Someone's trying to get into a warehouse five blocks away."

"You didn't do anything wrong. There is no guarantee he would have been in Riker's. I've seen the law at work, up close." Thea says, sighing. "Keep your money, kid. I know you don't have as much as you need. I can certainly cover dinner, because I can't keep up for five blocks to be back up."

Spider-Man fires a webline. "He's a career thief named Carradine. He broke probation. If he was caught, he was going back to prison. Leave it for a tip, then. The family can use the money."
And then he is off and webslinging.

Once more into the breach, dear friends…

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