Uh Oh

March 22, 2017:

Spider-Man drops by Kinsey Sheridan's garage in order to share some bad news. Panic happens.

The Garage, Gotham

The only sign on the broad outdoor exterior reads 'GARAGE' in large
letters of backlit, machined metal, and there are several bay doors leading
into what turns out to be a hangar-sized space, one entire warehouse
converted over to servicing vehicles of every description.

There are polished concrete floors and large hydraulic lifts, banks of tool
chests and peculiar armatures of equipment hanging from the ceiling. In
spite of the breadth of space, the interior feels cozy, somehow — maybe
because of the graffiti covering the walls end to end, or the small personal
touches like prints, papers, photos and mementos hung here and there.
Speakers dot the length of the space, and during business hours there is
almost always some sort of rock playing loudly enough to drown out the whine
of heavy equipment.

To the right side, a secondary interior building has been cordoned off from
the main body of the warehouse. The door is located up high, just beneath
the roof, and accessed via a set of metal stairs.

The roof itself is able to telescope open to admit smaller, personal
aircraft as necessary.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

My name is Kinsey Sheridan. So…yeah. Now you know what I look like and what my name is, and you know all about the people who'd really love to know I'm not just some mechanic with a garage in Gotham.'

That's what she'd said to Spider-Man on the night she robbed, then subsequently un-robbed a train containing sensitive information related to her earlier work for the DEO.

There are plenty of garages in Gotham, but only one connected with a Kinsey Sheridan, and that one is located in the South Point area, along the waterfront of the bay. It's easy to miss at a glance, lacking anything like eye-catching signage, and in fact the only signage at all consists of backlit, laser-cut steel letters bolted to the front of what was once a warehouse: G A R A G E.

Three rolling doors are spaced at even intervals across the front, though only one of them is rolled open at this hour of the early evening, and that one already at half-mast, a block of warm light flooding out from underneath suggesting that the proprietor is there, but in the process of closing up shop.

Light isn't the only thing that bleeds out from beneath the bottom of the door. Grungy, fuzzy blues-rock guitar also seeps into the swiftly darkening dusk, pouring out of speakers dotted along the walls of the expansive interior of the building.

It's more or less what one might expect, if perhaps cleaner than a typical garage: sealed concrete floor, white-painted walls, bright flourescent lighting, various pieces of heavy equipment: hydraulic lifts, armatures dangling from the ceilings. Most of the vehicles inside in varying states of dis(or re-)repair are cars, but there's a small helicopter in one of the larger aircraft bays in the very back, close to the interior two-story space enclosing the back right corner: Kinsey's actual place of residence. There's no sign of the Valkyrie to be had, though anybody arriving via the unusual route of rooftops would probably note that there are far more antennas bristling up off of one corner of the building than seems strictly necessary for a garage.

The present moment finds her standing near a massive workbench built into the right-hand wall, wiping tools clean with a rag and sorting various bits and pieces of things back into the tool drawers they belong in. She could not look less like Six, really: her day-to-day prosthetics are virtually impossible to discern from the real deal, her hair is in a bun behind her head that has not one but two pencils and a pen stuck into it that she's flat-out forgotten are there, and the jeans, t-shirt, and shell-toe sneakers she's wearing are remarkable only for the amount of stains on them: motor oil, grease, and who knows what else.

They took his photos.

Every single one. All his pictures of Spider-Man.

And if only J. Jonah Jameson angrily calling for more pictures of Spider-Man was the worst outcome of this, then maybe, maybe, he would have been okay with that. But…

'So could make it very worth your while, son, if you did happen to have additional photographs you haven't yet released. Either of Spider-Man, or… say, that other super who was on the train, if you could capture shots of her.'

Her, the man had said, quite pointedly, about the other party in that train robbery. Her. And of all the things that had freaked Peter Parker out about that encounter (and there were many, many, many many many many many many many… -many- things that freaked Peter Parker out about that encounter), that one was the one that managed to stick through as a sign of clear and present danger.

How'd he know? How much did he know? Why was he coming to -Peter Parker-?

Peter's first impulse was to immediately have a panic attack and, once he was done throwing up in the Daily Bugle bathroom, hunt Six down to yell at her frantically.

After he got done with the first half of this, he decided it maybe wasn't one of his best thought-out plans ever.

So, he took his time. He went to make sure Aunt May was alright (because THAT set him off like a crate of TNT, too) and then just… lived life normally. Carefully. Cautiously. Now panicking every day that someone was watching him change into his Spider-onesie every time he put it on. But he waited. And only when the situation had cooled a bit, when he could think -without- freaking out, did Peter go find Six. Because he's young. He's not an idiot.

Most of the time.

Shut up.

Finding that garage is, surprisingly, not that hard for the webbed vigilante; what -is- time consuming is doing it in a way that makes sure he's not tailed, and that some crazed bat vigilante doesn't swoop in and cave in his skull or something for being exactly two shades too optimistically colored to be operating in Gotham City. Spider-Sense helps with that, of course. But paranoia makes it much more roundabout than it ultimately needs to be.

Regardless — eventually, he finds it. a garage that was once a forgotten warehouse dotting the seafront of Gotham's churning waves beyond. He's quiet as he lands on the roof, listening to the heavy thrum of bass vibrating along the infrastructure from the volume of that grunge. White lenses shutter into a disbelieving squint.

"What is this, the 90s?" the masked vigilante mutters to himself as he crawls his way down. "I swear if I get there and she's wearing, like, a plaid button up and a denim jacket I am just… out."

And down he goes, spinning a webline as he finds a nice window through which to open and crawl his way through.

"Or like… faded jeans. Remember faded jeans? I sure don't. Who am I even talking to??"

Only slightly nervous.

Which might explain why, when he makes his way in, he doesn't really do anything normal, like knock, or call out for her, or say 'Hello, it's Spider-Man, remember, from the time we reverse-robbed a train, please help me because I'm kind of freaking out about whether reverse-robbery is an actionable crime!'

Nope. He just slowly lowers himself from the ceiling on a spinning line of ultra-dense webbing. Slowly… slowly… until he's hanging upside-down, right behind Six.

And if she doesn't notice him beforehand, her first reintroduction to Spider-Man in her life is going to be a sudden voice SHOUTING OVER THE MUSIC BEHIND HER like so:

"HEY HI NEAT TOOLS YOU GOT THERE BY THE WAY WE GOTTA TALK SOMEWHERE SAFE."

"LOVE THE HAIR BY THE WAY, VERY NERDY CHIC. DO YOU JUST HAVE LIKE, ALL YOUR OFFICE SUPPLIES STORED UP THERE??"

Yep.

This could have been bad. It could've been really bad. In fact, there was a high probability chance that Spider-Man's spider-senses should've lit up just in time for him to dodge out of the way with that preternatural, insect-inspired anticipation of his as a surprised Kinsey whirled around with a wrench in hand to bludgeon him to death.

That doesn't happen, though, and the reason for that is that the moment he lands on the roof of the building, Five lets her know about it.

(There's a humanoid figure wearing red and blue spandex presently crawling on the side of the garage.)

One brow-quirk later, she's watching Spider-Man creep toward a window through one of countless cameras scattered like subtle eyes across the building's exterior, feeding a constant stream of data down into the lab four meters underneath her feet — which is where her consciousness briefly flits off to. His mutterings to himself about her wardrobe and the sight of him sneaking across her roof and deliberately descending, upside-down, to dangle behind her, makes it extremely difficult for her to not crack a smile — but she manages to bite it back until he announces his presence.

She'd been planning to say something first, waiting to time it until he gets to the bottom of that tether of his just for the sheer pleasure of one-upping his subterfuge, but he derails her when he mentions her hair. What's he…?

She lifts a hand, palms it clumsily on the bun, and one of the pencils just falls out, and bounces across the floor. She finds the other pencil and pulls it free, blinking at it, but the pen's existence continues to elude her. The music volume takes a sudden dive, simultaneously to the rolling door on the far end of the garage beginning to smoothly glide closed of its own accord.

"What's wrong with jean jackets?" There's a moderately loud CLINK as she tosses a tool aside into a pile of like others and pivots, leaning back against the workbench, her hands to either side of her hips on the edge of it. "This is a pretty safe place, actually, but…" A brief pause later, there's a soft and subtle increase of pressure in the room, of the kind that creates the urge to pop one's ears: sound-cancelling, or something to that effect. "There."

Curious hazel eyes tick over the well-remembered, stylized lenses. "Soooo," she says, wringing her fingers individually in the white cleaning rag to clean them, "…This is a surprise. Does the Bat guy know you're creeping around Gotham? He was pretty cranky about metahumans, the night of the auction…"

It's just no fun when people have a paranoiac amount of cameras all over the place.

Then again, Six probably has reason to be paranoid. So what's about ten or twenty more?

Really, though, he might have some dejected witticism loaded up for all her security if this all wasn't -so serious-. As it stands, he doesn't even remark about those pencils tumbling out of her hair like that bun was a clown car, but for pencils. That's just how serious this is. He still kinda squints though. In that 'I'm not going to say anything buuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuut' kind of way. But, you know. Just. With a mask.

But even all the gravity in the world can't divert him from this:

'What's wrong with jean jackets?'

"If I wasn't sure you were a villain before, I'm pretty much convinced now. How dare you."

A second passes.

"And stop like — stop listening in on my private monologues! Ugh! I really ought to learn to internalize." He should, but he won't. "Just — creepy, lady. Creepy."

But no! He's being distracted from his point already. Focus Spider-Man. He feels the pressurizing of the room on the edge of those acute senses of his, lips pulling into a thoughtful line behind the mask as he puts together what's going on. "Wow, did you just — that's crazy, how did you — I need to like. Get sponsorship deals, or something. How does everyone but me get the budget to make all the cool techy gadgets?? Seriously! I'm gonna — maybe Raid needs a new mascot or… hmmm…"

Still. For all he might ramble, it can't hide how his head twtiches subtly towards the left, then the right, as if trying to scan the room — as if not quite convinced everything is safe as it -could- be. Like someone worried, but trying to hide it. It makes him just a bit distracted when she asks that question, a hand waving errantly through the air. "Huh? Oh, uh, sure, we're like, super buddies or something," no they're not, "we pick out matching curtains and got tattoos giving each other high fives, it was really sweet," they didn't, and it wouldn't have been.

"Anyway, wait? What? No — whatever, nevermind that, that's not — that's not even the thing right now! That's not important! He's not here standing behind me right now, is he?" Spider-Man quickly looks behind him, because YOU NEVER KNOW. "— Okay phew like I was saying that's -not important-." Hands wave dismissively through the air.

"Look. We gotta — we gotta talk, okay? Because I'm kinda freaking out here," even though he's so good at hiding it, "and you're like — responsible no wait that came out wrong, I'm not blaming you, even though it's kinda your fault but that's besides the point." … "ANYWAY. We gotta talk. About — uh — y'know." How to put this.

"Something, uh — something happened. With the… the Great Reverse-Train Robbery incident."

Truly, truly clever.

"Retro is in, Spider-guy," Kinsey says, cocking a hip in that backward lean and flipping the pencil she's holding end-over-end up into the air. She tosses it aside when she catches it, and then loosely folds her arms over her middle. "How did I…get the budget for my gadgets?" One well-manicured brow slides upward into a pointed arch, her head tilting fractionally to the side. Dry humor plays with the shape of her mouth and the cast of her gaze, though it's restrained: "I had both of my legs and my arm blown off in a workplace accident and almost died. You get a great severance package after something like that." That's when the smile breaks through, thin and sharp. "No pun intended?"

But as much as she might playfully enjoy making the monologuing boy wonder squirm, she relents immediately. The sharpness of the smile wanes, softens, and takes on a modicum of rue. "Sorry." Pause. "I mean…that is basically true, though."

She sees the restlessness in him, those little glances — how can she not? — but given he's a very public figure with a very protected identity and he's just turned up in a very enclosed, unfamiliar space for undisclosed reasons, she puts it down to being on basic high alert.

He's distracted by her question about Batman, she's distracted by the answer, brows screwing together while she tries to imagine what a tattoo of the kind would look like, and furthermore where one would have it put, stirring out of her evaluation of where on his rather lean person such a tattoo would even fit (internal verdict: back, butt, or chest) only when he wonders if Batman is right behind him.

"So far he's failed to show any interest in the garage whatsoever, so I think you're probably fine." She sounds a little bit put out about that, though, and that's because she is. It's not that she really thought Batman would ever take one of his fancy vehicles to a garage, but maybe he'd wind up needing to stash it somewhere after it crashed into something, or, or need an emergency repair job or—

Yeah. It was never going to happen. She's still disappointed about not having gotten her hands on any Bat tech yet, though.

When he finally gets around to telling her why he's there, her at-ease posture and vaguely entertained look flash-freeze into stillness. Her heartbeat lurches forward in her chest, suddenly adopting a rapidfire cadence, and she realizes some moments into feeling dizzy that she hasn't taken a breath, and needs one.

Gilded eyes flick toward the front of the shop. The doors are closed, but it's an instinctive and, yes, decidedly paranoid thing to do. "Oh." Soft.

Two beats later, she turns her head to look at the interior building in the back, along one outer wall of which is arranged a makeshift 'waiting room.' "Do you want something to drink? Soda, water, tea, or…something? I think…I'm going to need some coffee for this."

"Oh. Uh. … so not a sponsorship, then." There is an awkward, awkward moment of stiff silence there, wherein Spider-Man, charismatic super-hero, rubs the back of his neck and just sort of… clears his throat, looking aside.

For all that embarassment, though, the pang of sympathy is a more powerful impetus for the young man. Eventually, a heartfelt, "Wait, why are you sorry?? I'm the one that should be — look. I mean… Sorry," follows after. "For the joke and the uh — that whole… thing, that happened to you. You don't be sorry. I be sorry." Even if it still comes in a Spider-Man-styled package.

At least he's not trying to pat her on the back with a broom.

"Is that why you're…?" Like this. Because even awkward empathy doesn't completely dissipate curiosity.

He, however, remains quite gratefully ignorant of her thought process regarding her fantasy Batman rendezvous or his tattoo that doesn't exist; no, he's got a lot of other things on his mind beyond her overactive imagination. Which is why, for once, he cuts to the heart of the matter in swift order — at least, relative for him. Hands crossing over his chest, he turns those wide, white lenses back on Six. 'Oh,' she says.

"Yeah. Oh," he echoes, his voice full of gravity for a statement so simple. "Very very super oh my god oh." Still full of gravitas.

Her eyes flick toward the door, and then around the building and his hands go up in a very 'right???' kind of gesture of commiseration. Soon, though, they're falling back to his side, heaving a surprisingly normal-sounding sigh for a young man wrapped up in spandex as his mask-covered gaze falls back to Six. "Huh?" A drink? "No, I-" His first impulse is just to politely turn her down. He doesn't want to impose.

Then again, he can already feel his throat going dry from all the overwhelming panic that's settling back into his blood and jolting at his nerves, so maybe that's why he says, "Water yes, definitely water. Let's go — water." Yeah. Probably.

He'll at the very least wait for her to get moving on her coffee; it's the least he can do. And it's probably also why he doesn't start with the incredibly bad news, first. Just the preliminary, sort of incredibly bad news. "A friend from the Daily Bugle got ahold of me," yeah, he has -friends-, that hangs together, "and said there was some uh — weird person. People. Who came in and started pulling all their pictures of me. Asking them all kinds of questions and stuff. Y'know, like. Investigating or something." He doesn't mention it yet, but, well.

Considering the fact that he's -here-, Six can guess where this is probably going.

Kinsey could make coffee at that station with her eyes closed, and most mornings, that's exactly how she goes about it, figuratively speaking. And while she's doing that, she bides her time with things slightly less world-shaking than whatever 'something happened' could mean — words that do little to avoid triggering that aforementioned imagination of hers.

"I'm sorry because I said it to be, I don't know, flip, and because I knew you'd feel weird about it, but in hindsight that wasn't really very funny becase you felt more terrible about it than I expected." She pours water into the top of the coffee machine, dumping the old filter and adding a new one, flipping the switch and then dipping down into a crouch that she executes with the alien fluidity of advanced prosthetics. It's something she usually actively strives to make natural, but in her present company, that charade is no longer necessary.

She pops the door of the mini-fridge open, reaches inside, and then half-turns in that crouch to toss him a bottle of water without any word of warning. It just doesn't seem necessary, considering.

"Yeah," she admits. "That's why I'm…whatever this is. It was a package deal."

She rises very slowly, pivots, and then props her backside on the edge of the table, girding herself for whatever it is that he's about to tell her. A shadow lingers between her brows, the hazel eyes below them liquid with restrained worry.

"Okay, so…lay it on me."

He begins to. She doesn't question that he has friends, nor even that they work at the Bugle. From her perspective, having contacts in the media seems like a smart move on the part of any active metahuman vigilante…though she's not without her puzzlements about it, and she articulates those thus: "You have a friend at the Bugle?" Pause. "Your friend really isn't doing a very good job of — I mean, have you seen the stuff they print about you in that thing?"

She worries her lower lip with her teeth. "So they…what? They got a picture of…?" Her brows knit. "No, that shouldn't be possible. I took care of the cameras on the train's route, I was careful, I…"

You can't control an entire city of civilians, Kinsey.

Her heart sticks in her throat, her eyes just a little bit too wide. When the coffee machine stops running, she's too quick to stand up and turn to make her cup of coffee, thoughts racing. "But that shouldn't matter. If they just saw Six, and nobody knows who you are, it's no big deal, right? Somebody was bound to see Six eventually, and you're already in the papers…"

But she knows, even as she says the words, that it doesn't make any sense. He is already in the papers. Something about this is different. Different enough to make him risk coming to the garage.

Oh shit.

Oh shit. Yes. Definitely oh shit.

For as much as Kinsey doesn't bother with normalcy in his presence, Spider-Man seems to take it in comfortable stride — all things considered, it's far from the weirdest thing he's seen. And considering he walks on walls, he really has no room to talk. Which is why he probably doesn't even bother looking as that bottle is suddenly tossed his way; his hand still snaps up like it was a kneejerk reflex, snatching the water from the air without so much of a glance its way. Normalcy, in this situation, definitely is not necessary.

It's also probably a testament to how lost in his own worries he is that Spider-Man doesn't even seem to recognize he's actually -caught- that water until he looks and catches it in the peripheries of his vision, feels the cool condensation against his palm; those lenses shutter in something approximating a blink.

"Wh— oh. Uh. Thanks," he mutters absently as he unscrews that bottle. Package deal. His brows furrow behind his mask in faint sympathy. Accidents thrusting a cavalcade of complications into someone's life — that's something he can't help but feel empathy about. "Yeah, I… yeah. I know how that is."

Which is about as close to him revealing anything about himself as he's going to get. Talking about his weird spider-bite just makes it that much easier to figure out who he is, and besides — there's more important things to discuss right now. He paces, for a time, trying to figure out exactly how he should word all this. Pacing, eventually, becomes Spider-Man just kind of… walking towards the nearest wall he can find and hopping back into it until his back just sort of… adheres to the surface, feet planting down in some sort of approximation of a vertical lounging position as he rolls up his mask and takes a sip of his water.

Yeah, he definitely needed that.

"Look, it's not like — their boss is a total just — sucky king of suck Hitler-stached jerk maniac," is the webbed vigilante's first declaration, "who sucks." Did he mention that? "Dude's got some serious rage issues. And… I don't know. Watched Arachnophobia one too many times. That's not the point, though!"

And here, Spider-Man emphatically waves around that hand with the water bottle, forgetting it's there right up until the point he splashes himself with a nice gout of cold water. "Aw — come on! Seriously? I have got — just — such a SERIOUS case of the Mondays today!"

Visible lips pulling into a most severe of frowns, they are quickly parting and turning into something more like a knit line of worry at Six's words — so very much more emotive now that even one part of his face is exposed. And it's hardly the reassuring kind of emotive, either. She realizes it. But…

"I am, but that's… not why," partly. He's worried about what they said to him — to Peter. But, for now… "Look, these guys — my friend said they didn't look like cops. The guy in charge, he said his name was… James Wesley? Had like, glasses, weird, creepy nerd vibe — I guess? He said he'd y'know — pay my friend for more photos he could get of me, or of you. Said he was looking into the robbery for uh… higher authorities, or something? Interested parties. Something like that. He just — he knew way too much. He-" 'mentioned my family in that way criminals do when subtly threatening them' he almost blurts. He swallows it down. "-But, no, like — okay. He said he wanted to get pictures of the other person there. Wanted to get pictures of -her-."

He lets that sink in, for a moment, before helpfully echoing, "-Her.- Y'know. You." A second passes. "I think… I think they know who you are. Or… have a good idea. Or… something." Something.

Nothing good.

'I know how that is,' says Spider-Man, just before he hops backward and sticks to her wall.

"Yeah, I bet," Kinsey murmurs. She'd usually be fascinated by that, and more entertained by his extremely emphatic opinions of the guy who runs the Bugle, but everything else is so…massive, so heavy, that it leaves little room for anything else. Even the fact that she's looking at one third of the exposed face of a so-called super-hero — and she's been known to fangirl over all sorts of heroes, and would typically be completely tickled about that — barely rates more than a double-take, the realization quickly subsumed beneath

stark, abject terror.

The coffee cup trembles visibly in her hands as she picks it up and brings it with necessary care to her lips. She doesn't drink. She can't, anymore; alcohol metabolizes poorly with the hardware in her skull. And until this moment, she's never really missed it, but just now, just this moment, she desperately wants a shot of something stronger than coffee in that coffee.

After a lengthy silence, heavy eyes lift to regard him beneath dark lashes, entire worlds of frightened emotion there. "And your friend? What did he say?"

He sees it plainly in that heavy stare of hers. Not so much conflicted so much as weighed deep in a morass of pure fear. That, too, he can relate to. He was feeling it sharply when James Wesley was questioning him. That feeling like your heart is about to beat right out of your chest. Feeling like your nerves are on fire.

Like your whole world is crashing down around your ears.

He takes a slow, pensive sip of that water when that question comes, and almost immediately shakes his head as if to word off any sort of worries before they can even form on that front. "He told 'em he'd think about it, just — not like he would, right? Just to get them out of his hair. This guy, this Wesley guy, was…" He hesitates, a moment, "… bringing up all these personal details about him and stuff. He said it gave him really bad vibes."

Terrified him. It terrified him.

"But these guys, are… I don't know who they are, and I'm kinda freaking out, because like — what if they're with your crazy Big Brother conspiracy thing?" Yeah. He's not good with names when he's nervous. "He said they had, like — security footage. From the train, maybe? I don't know. Said they were with 'higher echelons than local law enforcement,' that he was representing someone else, whatever that all's supposed to mean."

Those lips tug into a frown around that bottle of water as Spider-Man's fingers curl a bit more tightly around his bottle.

"I know this is like — it's crazy, right? But we've gotta… gotta focus. If they know, right, they haven't done anything. Have they? You ever hear of this guy? Like… or anything like him? See anything weird going on, recently, or, or… anything at all?"

'Bringing up all these personal details about him and stuff.'

That's when the color well and truly drains out of Kinsey Sheridan's face. It's her nightmare scenario: not only that she might be discovered, but that other people, innocent people, might become casualties in the crossfire. And it isn't even that Spider-Man is caught up in it, because Spider-Man is capable, and durable, and physically strong, and able to fight, and nobody knows who he is, right? You put yourself out there in a costume at night as a vigilante, you decide that you're going to interfere with the plans of unpleasant people, you assume some degree of personal risk as part of that decision.

It's this other person. This friend of Spider-Man's, who wasn't even there on the night of the train robbery, who has no idea that Six even exists. The thought of someone like that being put in harm's way because of something she did causes the bottom of her stomach to fall out completely, her entire body going cold all at once.

"Oh god," she whispers against the ceramic lip of her coffee cup, fingertips turning white where they press against the sides of the mug.

And it just gets worse after that. Security footage. Higher echelons than local law enforcement.

The cup rattles against the top of the table as she sets it down, standing up and turning to take several stiff steps away, eyes wide but seeing nothing, really, all of her thoughts turned inward. They spin like pinwheels. It doesn't take her long to arrive at a conclusion.

She half-turns back, eyes still wide, but her fingers are curled into her palms down at her sides, tension in her stick-straight arms. "Wesley, you said his name is James Wesley. Did he give your friend his contact information? A…a mobile number? Anything?" Her collarbones hollow out, and the tendons in her throat stand out. "If it's me he wants I'll just…I'll go. I'll go see him. Then they'll leave you alone."

In her mind's eye, that scenario invariably ends with her being vivisected by the DEO, but the alternative — that better people than herself might be crushed for getting in the way — is even less bearable to contemplate.

And now it's time for Spider-Man to immediately regret telling her that.

The color drains out of her, horror whispers around her tone, and instantly she seems to be taking the sacrificial path. He can relate, better than she could probably know, but at the same time — he can't necessarily reassure her not to worry about his friend. What can he say?

'Oh don't worry about that guy he'll take care of himself.' - No, that'd just make it worse and make him look like a callous jerk to boot.

'Oh don't worry about that guy he's just me, in my secret alternate identity, also please don't look up who takes pictures of Spider-Man for the Daily Bugle.' - yeah no

'Oh don't worry about that guy, he's actually Superman, he just pretends to work for a local newspaper.' - Like anyone was going to believe THAT.

So. It's awkward.

The end result is a lot of hemming and hawing on Spider-Man's part as he just very quickly loses himself in gulping down that -entire bottle- of water in record time. He only stops that internal struggle of thought the second that she starts asking for contact information and saying what was probably inevitable, but no less foolhardy. He needs to handle this delicately.

"Look — no. That's dumb."

No. Not like that. Come on, Spider-Man.

"I mean — you're not dumb. Just what you're -thinking about doing- is dumb."

There. That's better.

The arachnid falls off the wall not seconds later, silently hitting ground on his feet as he sets that water bottle aside, forgotten for the moment in favor of focusing on deterring Kinsey from what's probably a very dangerous path. "He gave him a card but — you can't do that. Okay? We don't… we don't know enough yet. He was asking about me a lot more than he was you. What if he just wants you for — for leverage, or something, or what if he needs to tie up loose ends? Or — what if you -are- the person he actually wants and then he uses you for some kind of, I don't know, evil Borg assimilation experiment?" Sometimes his mind just sticks on certain things. He's still taking this very seriously.

"No. I'm not gonna let that happen. Look — we're gonna figure this out, but it's… it's not gonna end up with you on some kinda weirdo nerd guy's creepy dissection table while he's all breathing heavily over you like some kinda weirdo Reddit creeper."

The vigilante just shakes his head. "We'll… look. We'll figure something else out. Right? First we gotta… we gotta figure out what's going on. What this guy's after, who he even works for, right? I have no idea what's happening here, and honestly, that scares the hell out of me." It really, really does. But he bears it, at least for now, because she has it so much worse than him right now. "But… that just means we gotta be careful about this. Right?"

For whatever it might matter, she doesn't seem to take any offense, even before he clarifies whether he means she, or her plans, are dumb. She's too knotted up about what's happening to care much about trivial details like that. Too distracted by the horrorshow unfolding in that very overactive imagination of hers.

She closes her eyes, lifts both of her hands and presses them over her face, holding them there and motionless throughout all of his what-ifs and conjectures. So serious is this development that she doesn't even have it in her to flail her arms outward and exasperatedly insist that she is still not a robot. They don't slide away from her face until after he's gotten alarmingly specific about the dissection-table scenario, at which point they finally fall away, and somewhere in all of that listening the active panic has been converted over into frightened exhaustion. She leaves an oil smudge on her forehead from some bit she failed to get off of her hands.

"And what if he hurts your friend while we're putzing around trying to figure out who this guy is? What if that happens? I don't — I can't live with that, you know?" She stares at him with those headlamp eyes, beacons of worry, and her shoulders fall. "Can you at least promise me you can protect your friend until we know what we're going to do? Please? Because I swear to god, the moment I think somebody else is gonna get hurt, I'm doing the dumb thing."

"Uh — you got something right…"

Spider-Man starts to point at that well-oiled forehead. Reads the room. Thinks better of it. His hand drops.

"… You know what, IIIIII'll tell you later."

But she's right to be concerned. Worried. Afraid. And there's not a lot he can say to assuage her in this specific situation without showing too much of what is something he just can't give away. So, when she gives him that out, Spider-Man is all too happy to jump in on it, his reassurance immediate and emphatic.

"-Of course-," he begins, before deciding maybe he ought to owl it down a notch. "I mean — yeah. I was already planning on doing that. I'm keeping an eye on him and the people he knows," and that last part is true enough, considering how much of a worried panic he's already in over Aunt May.

"Look. Just… if you know anyone who can help, who can look into this kinda stuff — James Wesley. Weird. Looks like he'd fit into a pasty internet shut-in remake of American Psycho. I'll follow what leads I can too, but 'til then — I'll keep my friend safe. Promise." As safe as he can keep himself. Which, considering he regularly puts himself in dangerous scenarios, might be making him out to be a flagrant liar right now. But. Well.

At least he really -wants- to keep himself safe. Most of the time.

"Just. Don't do the dumb thing. Your life's important too. We just… gotta figure out why they're after us. Then we can, like, go from there."

And who they are.

Oh god if he pissed off the government he is SO BONED.

AND there goes any chance of him getting into the Avengers!!

… on top of all the other really horrible stuff!!

She's still concerned, worried, and afraid, but his reassurance has to be enough. That look remains in place some moments longer — you'd better be sure, it says — and then relents, and when it does her shoulders fall, some of the steel-cable tension bleeding out of her. Her return to the table with the cup of coffee is slow, but she does come back, and she drops her backside against the edge of it with a weary bonelessness.

"Alright."

She must be at least somewhat reassured, because her mood regains the flexibility to allow her a small twitch of the lips. "'Who can look into this kind of stuff?' That would be me. If he's got an identity, I can find it. If he's government, it might…" She pauses, is visibly careful about how she selects the vague words that follow. "Take time. If he's not, it just depends on what kind of outfit he's with, but I mean…shy of being in the DEO…I'm pretty sure I can dig up dirt on this guy going back to his birth certificate if I have to. So I guess the question really is…" She lifts her hands, splays them. "How am I supposed to contact you to tell you what I find out?"

-That look-. It receives the lift of Spider-Man's hands, as if to say right back 'I get it, I get it,' with an addendum of 'don't hurt me!' Eventually, though, Spider-Man's hands fall back to his sides; he feels more than a little guilty, now, a fact that is at least part of why he tugs that mask down over his lips once more. He's made her worry over what is - while not nothing - something that she shouldn't have to worry over. All he can do is offer that sincere promise.

Because the very least he can say is that he can look out for the last family he has left to him.

"Oh, uh. Right. Your whole… brain thing." Spider-Man twirls a finger around. He is an intelligent human being. Honest. Like how his lenses shutter in a squint as she obfuscates her way through the following explanation, as if distantly suspecting her of perhaps doing something less than on the level. But of course she is. She's going to be peering through someone's files — possibly government files. The whole thing is illegal. And maybe, in this case, it's best that he not know the specifics.

Instead, the webbed vigilante just heaves a simple sigh. "Right. Okay, I'll just… let you do what you do," he relents after a moment. "I'm gonna see if any of my friends know anything that might help. If they're interested in me, maybe they'll just… come after me. That'd sure make things easier, right?" Right! Because that's reassuring.

Which is why he's quick to move on to the next topic; when Kinsey asks for a way to contact him, Spider-Man takes a step forward, leans in with a gross lack of care for personal space, and just sort of… moves to pluck that pen out of Kinsey's hair.

And then waggle it in a pointedly 'seriously??' kind of way.

"More supplies than Staples. … I bet I could find staples in there too. Hmmm…"

BUT. Soon enough, he's looking for paper, or a napkin, and once he's found that, Spider-Man is scribbling something down. A simple number with a New York area code, passed off to Six with all due lack of ceremony.

"Here. It's…" 'The phone Red Robin got me because I'm too damn poor to even afford a decent phone' "… my work number. Just — call it and I'll get ahold of you."

A second passes as Spider-Man ruminates in how lame and ordinary this is.

"… how much d'you think Batman's Bat Signal cost?"

"Brain thing," Kinsey says, confirming. All of it is outrageously illegal, and more than a little bit personally invasive, and of course it's implied in the fact that she's able to do this, and confident in her ability to do it, that she has experience with doing it, and who knows why? But nevertheless, it's a damn good thing that she can, in light of the circumstances, and she utterly fails to offer him anything like an expression of apology, even once she roughly grasps the conflicted sentiments in that heavy sigh of his.

It'd make it easier if they were just after him, right?

"Not really, no," is her answer, accompanied by a stubborn jut of her chin, lashes falling to half-mast. They know who she is, and that wouldn't change…but more to the point, all of this, everything to have happened in the ever-so-brief moments of her acquaintance with Spider-Man — less than a handful of hours, really — only means that she's invested. He came to her to tell her what was happening, when he could've just…turned her over. He'd have had plenty of reason, not only because he caught her robbing a train, but because he has a friend and that friend's loved ones to protect. He didn't do that. Now that she knows people are sniffing around, there's no way in hell she'd just turn her back on him once she thought she herself was in the clear.

Someday she may become that person. Someday, she may give herself over to the tempting simplicity of id that Six represents. There are nights when she's more Six than Kinsey.

Just…not yet.

He leans in without any explanation, lifts a hand and reaches, does something that feels like touching her hair and she leans back slowly, disconcerted…and then blinks at the pen as he wiggles it at her. Her hand lifts, slipping up behind the back of her neck and probing the twist of her bun as her brows slide together, in case there are somehow even more writing implements still stuck in there. "I…get distracted," she says, lamely.

There are napkins right on the table she's leaning against, and she watches him scrawl a number on it with something vaguely like disbelief. It's a long way from being the first number she's ever been given on a napkin, but…

She'd expected something more…

Right. More like the Bat Signal.

She takes the napkin and pockets it quickly, somehow finding it within the upended jumble of her emotions to put on a crooked little half-smile. "You want a Spider Signal? You can't just…that doesn't even make sense. Bats fly at night, that's like the whole point."

And just like that, the status quo finds equilibrium again.

If she stopped to think about it, she might boggle over how this has become what normal looks like, for her: standing in her garage after closing, debating the finer points of emergency communications with a guy in a onesie.

It'll do, though.

Not really, no, she says, stubbornly. He'd complain about that, but on some level, it is a little bit reassuring to hear and to see that stubborn refusal to just let it go. The insistence to see it through, to know she's invested. To know that, at least for this, it's not just him versus the world.

It's a refreshing change of pace from how these things usually go.

And so, he just heaves a more dramatically exasperated sigh, rubbing the back of his neck with one ginger hand as he utters a simple, dismissive, "Fine, fine!" in response to it all. He doesn't really answer that lame excuse of hers over those pens, either, because really — the stark silence that settles in afterwards is all the response he needs.

And on top of that, there's more pressing things to addres, such as:

"What? It makes total sense! Most spiders are nocturnal too, y'know, they like… websling at night!" Who's ever heard of an actual spider web-slinging around the city?? "Besides, I've already -got- one, it's just… y'know, like… belt-sized. See?"

And here, Spider-Man will take his sweet time to shine the giant red Spider-Man symbol from his belt projector onto Kinsey's face, at least three or four times, just to make sure she saw it, all while rambling pointedly about why he deserves to have a real, legitimate Spider Signal like the Batman.

Yes.

Normalcy, reasserted.

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