Cindy Does Exposition!

January 24, 2017:

Cindy Moon goes looking for her family with Spider-Man's help, only to find time has marched on while she was away.

New York City

Residential area in New York City. Much residing-related things!

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

Hours ago, Cindy Moon found herself giving in: She wanted to escape.

Even with how fast she can move, there's only so much speed that could be applied to the keypad, brute force working her way through the combinations that would allow her to leave the bunker under the seemingly abandoned Sims Tower. Six hundred twenty-six thousand attempts make sore fingers, numb nerves, and a sense of exhaustion that could only be aleviated by…

… the voice of another.

The Spider-Man arrived, completing the sequence that would open the door to the prison of Ezekiel Sims design, one that she— under coercion— agreed to spend her days in. So much happend at once that she couldn't quite process it just right, and … and …

Now, she's outside. The worries of mythological extradimensional fantasy-men dandies are the furthest thing from her mind. Quickly, they realized their powers were quite similar… and then Cindy discovered the joy of web-swinging through the city.

There was a bit of hesitation, at first— an unsteady swing, the occasional misjudgment of how much webbing she needs to project in either direction; wobbling or snapping against the line… and more than once, quite literally flinging herself into a wall. The eventual goal: Cindy wants to go home.

"THIS IS SO AAAAAAAAAAAAAAWESOME!"

From this vantagepoint, things get a little more screwy— she's not used to the sights, and New York has changed a lot in the last few years. Clinging to a line, legs swinging low before a speed-gathering kick and snap into the air, Cindy lands atop a ledge and drops into a squat, taking a moment to catch her breath. She straightens her back, pointing off to the distance. She shakes out her fingers a bit— this is the first time she's really used her webbing this much in one day in a very long time.

"There! We're almost there! It's like two blocks!" she calls to the masked man excitedly. "I bet Dad's reading the newspaper again. And Albert's playing video games and trying to dodge chores, and Mom's… being Mom."


Seeing someone else web-slinging through New York City is perhaps one of the more surreal things Spider-Man has seen the past few weeks.

And considering his past few weeks, that is saying an awful lot.

After that very first line, Peter's taken his time to pace himself until he steadily falls behind Cindy. Both because she needs to show the way, and, well — if she messes up and starts falling, he needs to be in a good position to make sure she doesn't turn into a spider-pancake. Or insect-pancake. Or… whatever it is, she's supposed to be.

What -is- she supposed to be? That is the question that burns away at Spider-Man throughout the entire journey across the skies of the city, as he swings from building to building in a way that seems as natural as breathing — only stopping in those rare occasions where Cindy nearly smacks herself into a window or a building line like the world's most frantic bird.

Watching her is like watching the past; like watching the first time that he learned how to do this in the most suicidally dangerous ways possible that would have baffled him not even a year before when he was normal. How excited she is, how enthusiastic she takes to learning — it's like looking into a mirror, in many ways.

And yet… she's different, too. Where that webbing comes from, it has to be organic, which means she's producing it herself — which is something he definitely -can't- do. So similar, and yet different, in ways that just puzzle Parker. The thoughts are still plaguing him when he swings himself up into a backwards flip through the air, landing on the side of the wall near Cindy's ledge with the softest of thumping sounds on all fours. But they're thoughts that fall by the wayside when he hears her words. How excited she is. How long must she have been away from them? Given recent events, recent revelations for Peter regarding his own family, it pangs more painfully than it should.

"Cindy…" the webbed vigilante begins, tentatively, and that trailed name could lead into so many different words, or questions. Instead, the sympathetic smile behind that mask can practically be heard in his voice when he speaks next.

"… what're we waiting for, then? We gotta make sure your brother doesn't get away with that crap! If I know anything about siblings, and I don't, he probably has some long overdue torment heading his way! So let's—"

-thwip-

"goooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo"


She's watching the street— the springs and summers and autumns and winters that were spent on these streets, with her family, with her stealth boyfriend, with her friends and in the sun and rain. Sure, not every memory that Cindy has here is great, or even good, but it's so strange and surreal to see it all again. Maybe the culture shock is why it's so hard for her to process another spider-person like herself. Cindy's mask shifts with a bit of a smile, then Peter Parker is off again, charging ahead.

"Hey, no fair!!"

Cindy runs to the corner of the ledge and jumps, arms and legs spread as she catches the wind and propels a fresh web-line from the tips of her fingers. Swinging lower than usual, using the momentum to pick up more and more speed, she resumes the chase down the winding city streets and flying through the air. The buildings become a bit more residential around this point— less skyscrapers, but certainly some tall apartment buildings. And in this part of town, the apartments are … /actually/ kind of nice. Definitely not a penthouse apartment, but certainly enough that in New York City, the rent for a place like this is… high.

"There! It's right there!" she calls, excitedly.

Cindy pulls her weight up the web-line mid-swing, allowing her body to create some drag before letting loose and flying toward the fourth story of a nearby building. She touches down a bit hard against the surface, though she keeps herself (this time) from smacking face-first into the brick walls, letting out a short grunt. Then, twisting to the side, she looks inside the nearest window.

"W-What…"

A family is seated around the table for a meal— there's a young son, a husband and wife, and a daughter, and… none of them are members of her family. They don't notice the black-haired girl looking through the window from on high, even with all the time she spends looking inside, looking for something familar, looking for /anything/ familiar, and…

Cindy turns back from the window, suddenly aware of her own weight against the wall and the cold January air. Her eyes are wide and lost, and a bead of sweat sits on her brow. It's hard to say if she even realizes that the Spider-Man is still here.

Cindy opens her mouth, everything bright and happy within her taking a violent and mercurial shift. "T-They're not here… they're not … they-they're not here, my family's gone, I don't—"


This is an area of New York City that Peter Parker is only familiar with as Spider-Man. Even if not rich, the residences here are certainly too rich for -his- blood. Little things like this help him to piece together a picture of Cindy just as much as it befuddles it. He couldn't say for sure just who this girl was — she probably never went to the schools he attended before her disappearance. Her holder is a mystery to him; 'Sims Tower' is something that he'll have to look up, later, after all this.

But he is learning more and more about this bizarre mystery he's found himself with. And more importantly…

… he's helping someone to finally get home, to her—

'W-What…'

… family.

"What??"

Landing on the opposite side of the window that Cindy is peering into, the red-and-blue webslinger clings onto the surface of it with hands and feet as he slowly and silently tilts his head just enough to peek into the room beyond. Distantly, he realizes just how creepy this entire situation would be if anyone was to catch them inside the room. Like, there'd probably be screaming. And calling the cops. And JJJ shaking him violently while demanding why he didn't get pictures of Spider-Menace's home invasion with his new, Charles Manson Family-esque murder-cult.

He pushes these errant thoughts aside as he looks in, and recognizes, at least partially, what is taking Cindy so aback; that family in there look nothing like her. There could be any number of explanations for that, to his mind, but her reaction, those wide eyes, so confused, so dismayed, are all too familiar.

She speaks. He twists upon the building, turning his body just enough to half-hang off the wall by his right hand and foot. He hesitates, a moment, before reaching out to take hold of Cindy's shoulder, to get her attention.

"Hey. It's okay. Like — you've — y'know, you've been gone… a while, right? Maybe they moved. Maybe they're trying to look for you. Maybe…"

His sentence trails. He looks aside, back towards that home, that family that is not Cindy's. He frowns beneath his mask.

"Let's… get out of here, okay? We'll figure out the next move."


The spider-girl's arms draw to her lap; her eyes flick back and forth. In her panic, for her part, Cindy is trying to replay everything that happened the day she left for the bunker, thinking about what she said, what her parents said, Sims' assurances, and now— all of it, like the Sims Tower itself, is empty and vacant and just … gone. Cindy's arms shake and her shoulders hitch with a few ragged breaths, and—

— and then Spider-Man's hand falls on her shoulder.

Cindy nearly pulls down her impromptu webbing mask before thinking better of it. Sucking in a breath, letting cold air fill her lungs, her fingers wipe away at chilly tears before she nods, numb, and starts looking around. Releasing the wall on one side, she flips herself around to start crawling up the side of the building with a few more floors to go before making it to the ledge and clambering up over the side.

Sitting down— without checking first if anyone else is on the roof— she slumps down with her back against the short wall, lips drawn in and closing her eyes tightly. Damn it. It wasn't supposed to be like this. None of it was…! She should have known all this time that it was all just…


He knows, better than most, what Cindy must be feeling right now. That look of empathy that etches across his features can't be seen through the mask he wears, but it still can't help but edge into his voice. He gives her the time she needs to compose herself, to calm herself — whatever she needs to do. But thinking of just the right thing to say, well — that's a considerably more difficult proposition.

So for right now? For right now, Peter Parker just follows after the other, inexplicable wall-crawler as she scales the side of the building as if it were as natural as taking an outdoor stroll. He peeks over the edge of the rooftop, quickly, to scan around for anyone else; when he's sure it's clear, at least for now, the webbed vigilante detaches feet from the wall only to flip himself up onto the rooftop, landing in an uncannily comfortable crouch right on the ledge of the building.

Behind the mask, Peter Parker turns hazel eyes upon Cindy, slumped and lost in thought. He can't blame her; he can imagine the worry she's going through right now, the doubts that are plaguing her. He tries to think.

"Hey — just because they're not here, doesn't mean they're… y'know…" he begins, before realizing that just might plague her with more doubts and lifting his hands instantly into the air. "I just mean — don't give up. I bet your family's just… worried, trying to find you, something like that."

He hesitates, in tense silence, unsure of what to say next. His head bowed, Spider-Man seems for all the world to be held in pensive thought, before he ventures, carefully, "Maybe… maybe I can help. But… um. I need to know — just what's going on here, exactly? Why did that weirdo old dude kidnap you, Cindy? Why can you do, y'know…" he gestures, vaguely. "All the spider-stuff?"


"I don't understand why they would have left at all, though. This was— it wasn't supposed to turn out like this. None of it. Unless something happened, but… I don't…"

Is it lipservice concern? She's not sure right now— everything is just … so messed up. Cindy tugs on the impromptu facemask, tugging it down past her lips and letting it tug against her chin. The air's cold, but the sting feels good right now— it's just the fact that she is not actually breathing recycled air, or reserves pumped in from compression tanks.

"I wasn't kidnapped. It was" she starts, then sighs, rubbing tears out of her eyes. "I got powers. There was a field trip with my class I was going to ditch, but Mom made me go. There was this big presentation about nuclear physics, safe care and handling of materials… big future-tech kind of stuff. It wasn't… I mean, it wasn't so much I /wanted/ to go, but… Mom's a doctor, and I have an eidetic memory… so, she just kind of … always pushed me to go to educational things."

"I was at a presentation with my boyfriend when I was bitten by a spider. I don't know what happened, but… I got sick for a little while. The next thing I knew, I… I could tell when things were happening. I broke stuff. I stuck to stuff, and … I was making spider webs, everywhere. I couldn't control it. And then this guy showed up— Ezekiel Sims. It was like he just /knew/. And we were all so scared, and … he didn't want to hurt us, and he wanted to help, and… he knew about…" Cindy says, hesitating, "powers, and— and he offered to help me learn how to use it. We were all so scared. So I said 'yes.'"

Cindy's hand lifts a little, gesturing nebulously to the air. "He did help me. A lot. But he always kept telling me stories about these ancient guys and that I'd draw a lot of attention, and my powers were special. One day he had to leave, and the only way he could keep me safe was by having me go into the bunker."

'It's MY— LIFE—'
'Your life was forfeit the minute that spider bit you.'
'Go to hell!!'

Cindy frowns. "I was scared. … so I… did."


Bit by a spider. At a science exhibit.

For a moment, through Cindy's explanation, all Peter can do is stare at the poor girl blankly — a fact graciously covered up by the presence of his mask, and her continuing words. It's just — like being smacked in the face with a train. That's how much stark shock he's in. Confusion.

Bit by an irradiated spider. At a presentation on nuclear physics.

She looks around his age, too.

There's too many coincidences. Just the simple presence of another spider with the same capacity as the one that bit Peter is astronomically low. That it would be at a science exhibit, attended by high school students, well…

Nothing in life is certain, but Peter Parker would bet whatever iota of respect he has in the superhero world that the spider that bit him is the same one that bit Cindy.

And the fact floors him, as much as it illuminates so much to the young man. Is that why his spider-sense seems to draw him to her? Is it a connection? Sympathetic, something? He's boggling at all the possibilities even as he listens, head slowly tilting towards the left until he looks like a practical owl, lenses whirling into a slow, white sliver of squints. Ezekiel Sims. That's someone else he's going to have to look into. Creepy old dude. Never a good combo.

"Okay… look. That guy had to have been full of crap," Peter Parker declares suddenly, because for as smart as he is, he is still a dumb teenager prone to dumb teenager things. "I… listen. This is — you can't like, tell anyone about this. And I won't, either, about you, or — like — you know — you're whole deal. Unless you need me to. But…" He hesitates. How much should he say. How much can he trust her? He barely knows her, still, for however much empathy he might have for her terrible situation. But…

"… look. You know that exhibit you went to?" he asks slowly. Start out simple, for now. The rest… later. "It… that spider… it bit me too." He holds up his right wrist, wiggling it about pointedly. "Right here. And I felt like I was going to throw up so hard I was gonna turn into Inside-Out Boy, you know? But — I got better. And when I did, I, uh…" He pauses, thinks. And then —

—suddenly flips back through the air, skillfully twisting about until he lands on the bulkhead of the roof effortlessly and silently in the same crouch as he was tucked into before.

"… I could do all this kinda stuff. Just like you. … mostly like you. And, y'know. Nothing's happened to me. No danger. —Uh. Except the danger I put myself in on a daily basis by fighting dangerous supercrooks and like, the magical evil reincarnation of Vincent Price." Long pause. "Long story. I'll explain later. Nevermind. Look. Point is — there's been no ancient dudes coming after -me-, and my powers are like -yours-, from what's gotta be the same spider, right? So…" So.

"… it's okay. You're safe. We're safe."

Yeah. That's true like, never.

But he sure sounds convincing, at least.

"So you've been in there since the exhibit, huh? … that must've been a while." And she probably doesn't have a place to stay, either, but he doesn't mention that, because, well…

… those wounds are much, much too fresh.


Creepy, epic sideburns, wealthy, and knows a lot about a lot— that was Ezekiel Sims in a nutshell. Getting it all out feels good— it makes her feel better about herself, what she went through, and just that … there's a sympathetic ear there. Then, Peter Parker does what every idiotic teenager does: He runs his mouth. It hits her like a shock at first; her arms drop and her head cranes up to look at him.

If Sims were full of crap… then would that mean her time in the bunker was all for nothing? All of it?

The thought eats at her a little on the spot, evident in the way she scowls and clenches up her hands, balled into tight fists. But then Peter /also/ explains his side of the story— how he too was bitten by the same spider, at the same exhibit, and how it changed his life. Cindy finds her feet, wobbly at first and holding the short wall, while Peter demonstrates his acrobatic abilities.

He runs his mouth, but… he's a hero? He saves people with these powers? He feels … comfortable, too, like that tingle in the back of her head is just /confirming/ all of this that she's being exposed to. Hopefully it isn't just a lingering potential case of frostbite.

Cindy looks down at her half-wrapped hands, brows knit as she gets something of a look in her eye that Peter might just find a little bit familiar. She wants to do /something/ with her powers… but there's a lot on her plate. No money, no family, no support, no high school diploma, no job… then, she tugs up the mask over her nose again, fitting it just so, and leans against the wall— this time facing forward; facing the city. "Years. I broke up with my boyfriend. Had to say I was studying abroad. I took pictures of my parents and my little brother and set them up on Christmas. Mom tried to pretend like she wasn't interested in the holidays, and Dad was like… that guy that wanted to watch all the sappy movies together. Encouraged me to play hockey even if Mom hated it."

The girl's head shakes, letting out a sigh. "Sorry, I … is it weird I just feel comfortable around you? — I mean the outfits aside… but…" Her hands slip across the rough brick and mortar until her fingers curl, one hand into the other. The Korean girl's eyes track back over to the red and blue-clad hero. "I have to find them, Spider-Man. I don't know if I have anyone else."
And, new checklist, top item: Punch Ezekiel Sims right in his goddamn face.


He's still just numb from all this, and it's not even from the winter weather battering at him constantly; that, he's been comfortably familiar with for years now. This though… this is so much to wrap his head around, it'd be impossible for him to grasp all the implications of it in one day. But of course, it doesn't stop him from having kneejerk responses. And being young means he can't help but be anything but assured about his words, tempered only by a lifetime of experience in everything going wrong for him, always.

Which just means he'll probably realize all the potential ways he's totally wrong later. Probably at the worst time.

Still, he sees how the revelations get to her, and behind that mask, Peter winces just a bit. "Hey — I can't… understand everything you might be going through," he broaches, tentatively. "What that guy did to you — no one should do that, to anyone. Maybe he thought he was doing something good. Helping you. I dunno." But he took away years of your life on a pretense, he doesn't say, but the thought of it makes his fingers curl into the hardened surface of the bulkhead beneath him with enough tension that spiderline cracks form along the surface. "… but it doesn't… doesn't excuse it."

She's lost so much time. High school, friends — family. She just needs her life back. It's a thought that chews away at him — a guilt that he got to lead a (comparatively) normal life while she was condemned to years of lonely misery because of one crazy old man. It hangs heavy enough on his shoulders that he doesn't immediately hear what she says, blinking behind that mask in a way echoed by the strange, mechanical flutter of those wide, white lenses. "Huh? — outfits?" He looks down at himself, plucking at his spandex in confusion. But that's not the point, and it catches up to him soon enough. "I— uh. Yeah. I mean, no. I mean — I get you. I understand. It's… weird." All of this is weird. "But not like — you're weird! I get what you mean. Maybe it's the spider bite, or…" He doesn't know. His shoulders sag in a sigh, thoughtful.

"… I know. And I… I think I can help. I want to help. Look — I know some people, Cindy. They're…" 'Friends,' not really, not quite. Some of them. Others he thinks might punch him through a wall. "… good people. If you want… I can put you in touch with them. They can help you to — to, y'know. Help find your parents. Help get your life back on track." And, as if worried he sounds like he's just shoving the problem off, he immediately lifts his hands up defensively.

"I mean — and I'll help too! Just — there's other people better equipped at, like — detectiving… stuff…" That sounded dumb. "… yeah. Ignore that. So just — I'll help. I'll find people to help." He offers a hand out, attempting to look encouraging, as much as he can behind a mask.

"If you want."

And then find Ezekiel Sims and punch him in his goddamn face.


Her curled hands tighten a little more— but it's a bit out of frustration, thinking about all those times she was told 'it was for her own good.' That it had to be done, that everything that was going on was … it was all for some greater good. Could she have been lied to? Could her parents have bought into it? Maybe…? It /couldn't/ have all been for nothing, she tells herself. She /needs/ to tell it to herself, right now.

'Maybe it's the spider bite, or…'

Cindy looks up at Peter with tired eyes, but still a bemused. "Destiny?"

Any rationalization will do right now. An encouraging hand is definitely a start— Spider-Man has friends that can help. That makes sense. Costume heroes always stick together, right? That's how it always worked in the stories, and all those big superhero team-ups in the past. Maybe he's got some big spider-computer or something holed up in his secret lair at the bottom of a millionaire's tower which is not actually a bunker because she really needs to not be in underground bunkers right now, it's kind of just a /rule/ right now.

She doesn't even need to mention not knowing where to start— just that offer of help is enough. "I'd like that," Cindy says, though a bit hesitant at first, and takes Peter's hand. "I mean, as long as they're okay with not getting paid, 'cause I'd be kind of pissed. … Oh my /gawd/ I'm gonna have to get a /job/ or something, and a place to stay… fail. Just— /epic/ fail…"

Don't think about the bunker right now, Cindy. Hector's probably in college right now— he always talked about Boston. No family in town, either, and … it's not like she can get money from anyone in the extended Moon ranks and lord knows there's none in New York. "You think I could get away with just making a tent and a sleeping bag on top of a building somewhere? Nobody would notice, right?"


Destiny?

"Uhhhhhhhh."

And the great hero Spider-Man's ultimate response is the helpless shrug of his shoulders.

Because he sure as hell doesn't know!!

Which might be discouraging, all things considered. But at the very least, he's trying to help. He's doing what he can. Cindy would probably be disappointed to learn of a lack of a Spider-Cave or super spider-computers. Or the fact that his superheroic headquarters is a cramped bedroom with a custom-built computer he made out of stuff he found and repaired from dumpsters and an attic to stuff his costume into. Yep.

Cutting edge high-tech super-lair.

But he still extends his hand in help. And Cindy still takes it. Encased in spandex, that grip is no less secure, or assured, or supportive. A part of him still feels badly — he knows her, knows her -life- now, and he still hasn't told her word one about himself. Even as he takes that hand, he knows, he'll have to repay that trust some day. For now, though? For now…

'Just— /epic/ fail…'

"… okay, that's kinda old, but still… sort of… relevant, I guess."

"We need to make you, like — a list. Soon. A 'Cindy, That's Whack' list." … "You can put 'whack' on that list first."

With a tug, Spider-Man seeks to draw Cindy up onto the bulkhead with him. "There's probably money involved but… I can… probably cover the costs. Maybe. We'll try and find you a job, too." Which will be tricky, he can't exactly go job hunting with her in the tights. Which means…

Tabling that for now, Spider-Man turns his gaze towards the sky. His brows furrow, faintly. Could she live in a sleeping bag on a roof somewhere? "I mean… it's New York City," he begins, slowly, cautiously. "… so yeah, I'm pretty sure everyone would just ignore you. But… let me think on that, too. I think I know someone I trust who could take you in. Just, let me pull some strings and talk to some people. Alright? We'll get this all settled. We'll get your life back on track. I promise. Starting tomorrow, I know somebody — we'll go see them, see what we can do."


'Uhhhhhhhh.' It grants the New York Spider-Mole a chance to let out a bit of a chuckle, her head tilting forward while giving it a shake.

It doesn't take much— a light hop from Cindy, the slight tug from Peter, and the spider strength on both sides of the equation does the rest. Mostly-bare feet shift a little uncomfortably across the top of the ledge, and for a moment she chides herself for not covering her feet entirely. An hour or so out of the box and she's going to catch a cold or something.

Unfortunately, her slang being incredibly out of date brings the spider-girl's eyes to narrow. It's nice having conversation that distracts her from … other things. "What? Are you for real? … That sucks. I missed /everything/."

So, starting tomorrow, they'll start the path to getting Cindy some fragment of her life back. Her head lulls in a big nod, breathing deep one more time— maybe it's the city air like before, maybe it's just… trying to get all of those emotions out. Unlike Peter, her eyes are uncovered, making her expressions a whole lot easier to read.

"Yeah, I … I'm okay with that. Thank you, Spider-Man."

There's a long, hesitant pause, then a squint. "So like, is there even anything good on TV anymore?" All she had were VHS tapes, some old scratched DVDs, and a sole laserdisc release of a cheesy '80s action movie, but no player.

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