July 26, 2018:

Spider-Man and Nico take a train ride!

A Train

It's a train. It's very train-like.


NPCs: None.



Mood Music: [*\# None.]

Fade In…

chucka chucka
chucka chucka
chucka chucka

"You know," Nico Minoru says, her beat-up day bag on one knee, "This has way fewer rats than I thought it would."

Outside the window dawn is sneaking out into the world. The window is the window of a train compartment on the Long Island Railroad, an exciting commuter line that helps people come from Long Island to New York's Penn Station, whereupon they can go somewhere else and do… stuff. Like work. Or other things. Nico seems to be intent on doing other things.

In other words, being a tourist.

"It's kind of cool having the whole car to ourselves," Nico then says, the three morning shift workers on their way to go flip eggs at Stark Tower or whatever hell-jobs they work having vacated quietly in the face of the presence of local threat and/or menace and his vampire friend.

Nico rests her hands on her day bag and turns her attention towards the Spider-Man. "… Are you doing alright? Like, after everything. Also do you think we should like bail before we get to the station? In case of cops?" The first question was authentic; the others, rhetorical.

"What? It's not like everywhere in the city is, like, covered with rats, or whatever. This isn't 14th century Europe. Plus, Ratman doesn't ride the LIRR. Also, he doesn't exist."

The day's first shards of sunlight spill through the trembling windows of the train in illuminated shafts as it makes just another of many long trips to Penn Station. It's not a rail line that Peter Parker has ever really had to take, and especially not one he's had much use for since discovering a whole host of alternative means to travel (including just riding on top thus voiding his need to pay for anything (look, he's incredibly poor, don't judge)).

But, well, some people -can't- just ride on top of trains with incredible adhesive grips or websling around faster than any car or subway could ever carry them. And some of those people happen to be teammates, who might need someone to show them the joys of New York City's disappointingly rat-free (sometimes) commute.

And so it is that Spider-Man boarded this train without so much as a how do you do, the car largely kept to themselves by merit of people not knowing how to process or wanting to deal with renowned menace and/or supercriminal Spider-Man riding alongside them.

"Uh… yeah. Super cool. It's, y'know, part of the perks of being famous, I guess, mutters the masked vigilante, scratching the side of his head before subtly clearing his throat. "Orinfamousmaybe."

Still — having a car all to themselves doesn't really mean the webbed crimefighter sits with any normalcy; instead, he is perched cross-legged on the ceiling of the train car, somehow stuck to the top of it despite no obvious means of maintaining his grip on that inverted position. Mask rolled partway up, he chews quite comfortably on a croissan'wich, a bag of other breakfast foods dangling precariously off a web beside him.

Are you doing alright?, she asks.

"I got like, a whole bucket of hashbrowns in here, what do you think?" he answers, knowing full well that's not what she means. He hesitates a moment, lips pressing into a thin line of thought; it's a lot easier to mask what you're thinking with a literal mask.

"… I'll be a lot better once I find out who did all this craziness," he finally says, after a long moment. And even though it's rhetorical —

"Oh, uh, yeah. I'm gonna be slipping out before we reach our spot. Like — no joke, I'm pretty sure someone's gonna try to shoot me otherwise. I got a bad history with trains and people shooting me on trains."


"… But like… what about you? How're you holding up? This can't like — I mean, this isn't much of a welcome party to the city, huh?"

Nico purses her lips.

"Well, if you're sure. Like," she says, "I don't want to judge you, you just seemed… really freaked out. Like I felt weird because I felt I was being blase? You were doing amazingly, though!" She seems to find some energy there. "Like seriously, you did the… I don't know exactly what it is but you hauled a lot of butt in there. Literally."

She may also be slightly envious of the hash browns.

"This doesn't happen to me every day but I always worry a little, like, if I'm a psycho or something because of my parents," Nico explains-slash-rambles. "So when we get to that point are you just gonna pop open the emergency exit? I'll bail with you, I just can't like… magic it."

She takes a deep breath and lets it out, and strains to push aside the hashbrowns question.

"Have you been doing this stuff for a long time? Like, you seem… my age, ish, everyone does. I guess Cyborg and, uh, Red Robin come off as older."

You just seemed… really freaked out.

Honestly? He can still smell the smoke and flame clinging so persistently to his nostrils, like it refuses to let go.

Like it persists, just to remind him of how many people he let down.

So it is, out of all of that, the one thing that Spider-Man sticks on is—

You were doing amazingly, though!

"… But I could've done more."

Always. That's always the mantra. But with this…

"You know how many people died? And there I was just — patting myself on the back like a total — … doesn't matter. I just… I just gotta find out who did this. And then…" Bring them to justice?

and what if that doesn't stick?

It's a sobering thought, and soon enough, Spider-Man realizes just how dour his mood has become. There's an awkwardly lopsided (and inverted) smile on his lips when next he turns that half-masked face Nico's way.

"It's fine. It's… it's totally fine. Seriously. We're gonna figure it out. In the meantime-"

Bag jostle goes… here.

"Hash browns!"

Clearly, as good a distraction as there can be.

He quiets, though, as Nico continues; lenses condense down into thoughtful slits of white as he rubs at his chin. "Well, okay," he begins. "But if you're coming with me no shouting in my ear, okay? I've had serious problems with that. Like. Robot-screaming. My ears were ringing for days. Long story. Short version: don't shout in my ear when we bail."

Seems simple enough, right? As for the rest—

"Huh? Oh! Um. Like. A few years. Five? Six? Somewhere in there. It — what happened to me — I was pretty young when it all went down, y'know?" A hand waves through the air, dismissively. "And Red is just old at heart! He's, like. 'Wave walker threateningly at young whippersnappers' levels of spiritual age. And you can tell him I said that. Just attribute it to someone else. Like, I dunno, J. Jonah Jameson. That sounds like something he'd say, right?" A second passes by. One lens widens and the other squints as he tilts his head Nico's way.

"… So, um — your parents. Are they like… bad, or something?" A second passes by.

"… are they lawyers?"

"Don't talk like that about yourself," Nico says but there isn't a lot of heat to the chiding. "You can always do better but you have to like appreciate that you did good. Like otherwise you're just going to burn yourself out and then you can't get anything done, right?" This got disjointed, Nico thinks. But:

ugh, hash browns.

She takes a deep breath and lets it out. "I promise," she says re: screaming. "I've been on big jumps. It's not a big deal if I know it's coming anyway." Her lips then purse as she settles back in her seat, crossing her legs at one knees. "Probably," she says, about this Jameson person. "I've been on the run for like…"

Nico pauses, looking out the window. "Two years? Yeah, it'll be two years on Sunday. Wow."

Nico doesn't look back right away, before she lets out a little laugh. "Jeez, how do you get your eyes to do that there? Like is that…"

She trails off.

Nico shifts her gothique day bag onto her other knee. "Okay," she says, "you saw me use the Staff of One so you don't get to call BS on this. My parents were evil wizards who were key figures in a collective crime syndicate that dominated Los Angeles on downlow for like… over a decade?"

The train runs a little ways longer.

"It's kind of a relief to be able to just say that," Nico says, looking upwards. "Just… 'my parents were evil wizards.' Like you /get/ it. Or at least kind of get it. Like you have to fight Jared Leto and stuff. Right?"

He did good. It's easy to say it, harder to believe it. Even so — even so, he hesitates for a moment, choosing the distraction of finishing off his croissan'wich over addressing Nico's words immediately, chewing it over figuratively and literally over furrowed brows as he wipes off gloved hands.

"I know," he says, after a moment. "Like — I know. Really. They had all of this planned out and there was no way I could've ever, like, covered that much ground in time, and they snuck this by so many people, and…" And he's just one person. There's no way he could shoulder all the responsibility himself.

"It's just…"

It's one thing knowing, and another thing believing.

"… I've just gotta do as much as I can."

With that, he elects for distractions anew. It keeps his thoughts from racing, any more than they do usually at least, as he leans over to pry open that bag with the crinkling sound of crumpled brown paper. "Huhwhu?" he blathers as he tilts his head back to her, those lens now wide with wonder and cheeks chipmunk-stuffed with hash browns. "Oh! Ijh — " he begins, and then has the good grace to chew down his first handful of hash browns and swallow.

"Err. Like I was saying. It's, like — it's part of the suit. It's got this like — sympathetic smart fiber kinda thing, the eyes are basically like — camera apertures, y'know? It's — well I mean it's kinda complicated and nerdy but totally awesome but basically — "

The lenses just sort of open and close one after the other, as if in demonstration.

"I've got like, Philip J. Fry-level squinting skills."

Fishing in that bag once more, he pulls out that container of hash browns that is, in fact, basically a little tub of the fried potato goodness, popping a hash brown into his open mouth as Nico explains. 'You don't get to call BS on this,' she says to the young man currently sitting upside down on the roof of a moving train wearing what basically amounts to some sort of high-tech spandex. "Yeah okay sure," is his response. And he listens. And somehow, his squint gets more severe the more she speaks. Silence reigns, for a long stretch.

"So……………………" he begins, eloquently.

"………………. not lawyers?"

A second passes by.

"Like. Okay. On a scale of Voldemort to 'Saruman but the Saruman with the Rainbow Robes That Was So Evil They Couldn't Even Put it in the Movies' how 'evil wizard' are we talking here? Did they have cursed apples? A magic mirror? Enchanted mops they enslaved to do their work for them? — Wait, was Mickey the villain in that….?"

He rubs his chin thoughtfully here, for all of a solid second, before lifting a single finger upward (downward) into the air (beneath him).

"Okay, like. Listen. first — I would never fight Jared Leto, I fight respectable villains, like the Kangaroo, or Spot. Or the Shocker. Second — that seriously sucks. Like. Having your parents turn out like that is just… it's… I dunno. It's bogus. I'm sorry." And demonstrates apology by extending out that tub of hash browns towards Nico.

"Are they still, like… at large?"

A long pause follows.

"And how close are they to finding the one ring to rule them all?"

"That's all any of us can do," Nico says and she smiles.

Then the suit comes up again. "Did you make it? It's sick," she says. "I don't know if I'd want to do something like that but I like to mess with clothes and stuff. Like, this," she says, gesturing at herself -

"The T-shirt's stock, everything else I made." The T-shirt is pink and has Hello Kitty with a skull barrette. It may be Illegal, but if so it's a gentle kind of illegal, protected by Fair Use, or something.

But then the question of her parents comes up. Nico's eyes turn away. She seems obscurely ashamed. Then she chokes - on a laugh. She leans forwards, hugging her bag against her abdomen as she says, "They were… more like the latter. They made a deal with some creatures; them and the rest of the Pride." ("That was their brand name. You have to have a brand in California.")

"They were going to clear off the world and make something new and clean," Nico said, "and they were gonna go out with it - like, the entire human race - and they would let ME have a seat there, which was part of the deal. Like, in the new Eden or whatever." Her lips purse then and she falters. The hashbrowns are offered and she reaches out to take two of them, holding them between index and thumb like tiny communion wafers. Greasy, tuber-based ones.

"Oh, no," she says. "They are so dead. I saw it."

Nico's eyes turn up to those of Spider-Man. "You see why I'm kinda ed up."


"It was stupid anyway," Nico says. "Like the Gibborim would've had to fight like… Superman and crap, right? Like Superman wouldn't just be like 'well okay I guess you can purge humanity.'"

"Well, I kinda — it's complicated," is Spider-Man's extremely helpful and deeply in-depth answer to the matter of his costume. "Like — okay. I designed it. But I'm just, y'know, I've got this condition called 'not insanely wealthy person living in New York City' and it's incurable and deadly so I do nooooot have the money for anything this fancy. I've got a… sugar daaaaannnnnooo you know what that just sounds weird, forget that, ignore it. Shut up."

Insert awkwardly clearing spider-throat… here.

"Anyway, like, you should have seen what I was wearing before. Like. I drew a spider-logo in sharpie. It was bad."

Lips purse, and he looks down at Nico for a moment, lenses shifting like a quiet assessment of her attire.

"You do like — fashion stuff? That's super cool! You should just, uh, be careful of where you go around saving the world in a shirt like that. It's just — I mean — I hear Sanrio is super litigious. Maybe since it's all fashionably gothy just say it's your own character, like, uh… Goodbye Kitty? That sounds pretty gothy, right??"

He quiets, though, proving that even Spider-Man knows how to turn it off (kind of) when more serious topics come up. The news about her parents makes him turn his gaze downward towards the floor beneath (above, whichever) him, rolling a greasy piece of fried potato between his fingers as a frown creases his lips. "I dunno. That's the thing, isn't it? There's so many superstrong people out there, who are also so amazing and good and it just fills you with hope, but… just look at what happened here. We can't stop everything. There's always someone stronger, or smarter, or… or… whatever." Behind the mask, brows furrow. "… so it's a good thing these Gibberingers got stopped."

The vigilante stops there, quietly considering. And then, lips part. "… I guess… a lot parents just want what they think is best for their kids, even the evil ones. They just… do it in really messed up ways. I don't know if that's better or worse than a parent that doesn't give a crap, but… maybe I don't know you real super well, or whatever, but whether it was because of it or despite it… I think you came out of it a lot better than them."

And here, he extends a fist, for the legendary upside-down fistbump.

"And that's a like, totally infamous spider-terrorist saying it, so you better believe it's true."

Nico blinks several times, before she says, with an air of cautious assurance: "It's cool. Don't worry about it."

One more blink.

Her lip curls. "Really? A sharpie? Like on a T-shirt? I don't want to tell you what to do but if you need to like, have a backup outfit you should get yoga pants and like… I guess you could go shirtless but if you need something they have these bodycon tops at Uniqlo, you can dye it however you want. Like —" Nico raises her hands, making little wiggly fingers, "If they're on sale I will get one and show you? Like I know this is super arty-crafty but it's actually simple and I need to get some stuff anyway, that's like half of why I'm not just taking another nap."

Nico sweeps a hand through her hair. "… good point," she says, looking down at herself. "I promise I'll turn it inside out if I have to save people or something though."

"I need a haircut too," Nico muses.

"Sometimes I think," she says, more solemnly, "that I could have found out earlier. Molly probably had her powers a couple of years before we found out about what they were doing… none of the rest of us had anything. I only have the Staff because my mom tried to hit me with it and I grabbed it and it stuck to me."

A moment after this, she looks up. Then she smiles, if hesitantly, and extends her hand to return the fist-bump. "You're pretty cool," she says.

"I'm gonna go to Greenwich Village and then probably Brooklyn? You have my number, right? Like if there's a crisis or a civil war or whatever."

"It was a sweater, y'know, like a hoodie? And I had these kinda goggle things that like — I kind of have to filter things out a bit, y'know, because of what I can do, everything's so dialed up for me…"

A hand waves vaguely through the air before plopping about three or four hash browns into the waiting mouth of the friendly neighborhood Spider-Man.

"… anyway, I looked more like… Spider-Hobo. I'm pretty sure that was one of the Daily Bugle headlines. 'Sinister Spider-Vagrant Stalks Suburbian Citizens.' It wasn't great."

Not that they've gotten much better.

But at her offer, he tilts his head. Lips purse. 'Eyes' squint incredulously.

"Body…con…?" he mouths, as if trying to wrap his had around the concept. "I mean like — okay, uh, yeah, sure. How bad could it be?" Famous last words. "That's pretty awesome of you, thanks!"

A second passes by.

"Y'know, I hear the 80s are coming back, so maybe some super old hairstyle would work, like, Flock of Seagulls it up a bit."

He's got great fashion advice.

But, as Nico speaks, his head tilts just slightly toward the left. He waits for a moment. And then: "It's as true for me as it was for you. Right? 'You can always do better but you have to appreciate that you did good.' You kept a bad situation from getting worse, against… well, I mean, I wouldn't envy anyone caught up in a situation like that. It's okay. You did good. You're still doing good. And you're gonna be able to do a lot more good. And probably get better press for it than me. Right?"

Lips quirk in a smile. And with that, he tugs down his mask, and makes a little impromptu pack of webbing for the rest of his bag of food, before crawling his way to the train window.

"Yeah, don't worry! If something ridiculous like a living cloud of planet-eating spores comes around to try to devour our world, you'll be the first one I call. Because I'm not dealing with that. You use your magic thing. Take care of it. I can't web world-devouring spores. It's not — like — it's not feasible."

The window cracks open. And, turning around, wedged against that corner of the ceiling as the wind rushes in, he offers a hand.

"Want me to drop you off? It's a lot quicker than grabbing a cab. Probably safer too. Just like — be careful of the wind resistance and uh… your hair might get a little messed up."

"Still. Safer."

"Like, it," Nico says, attempting to sort of mime at herself, which doesn't accomplish anything. "You'll get it if I find them on sale. It looks great, trust me."


After this, she hoists herself upwards as the window is cracked. Her eyes narrow against the wind and she takes care to secure her bag, but she replies as she steps closer: "It's cool, I'm cutting it anyway! Just count three before you go okay!?"

She does go 'whoooooooooaaaa' at least once on the way, but that was pretty much inevitable.

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