Surprise Home Visit

January 03, 2019:

Cassandra shows up at Spider-Man's home to teach him a lesson about covering his tracks.

Spider-Man's Apartment in Midtown

A sparsely furnished starving college student's apartment. Plyboard furniture.

Characters

NPCs: Aunt May

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

New York has a pulse of its own. The people move to the beat of the city, strolling along with timing given them by the lights, the crowds, the traffic. Middle of the day most people are oblivious to it, but some folk just have a knack for reading the world in ways nobody else would imagine perceiving it. All of those pedestrians strolling along with the Winter sun hanging high and doing nothing at all to alleviate the chill.
But Peter Parker. He's a guy whose rhythm is vibrant all on its own. Starting at the beginning of the day. Rushing to class with a backpack slung over his shoulder, ead buds in his ears. To most people he's just a kid in a rush, yet there's something to the way he lives his life. Moving against the crowd but still with it. Footsteps perfectly placed yet somehow at times coming off as if he had two left feet as he ducks around a group of students and grins at them.
Then it was off to class, there in the huge auditorium and listening to the lecture. Yet he still had that rhythm, as if there was a beat in those ear buds even though the music was off. Restlessness? A need for movement. A need for activity. The class ended and he was up and off and running.
Lunch time came around and his shoulders hunched a little when he ducked into an old alleyway utility closet. A few minutes later from the rooftop there he was again. That guy in the red and blue with the webs and the weblines, leaping off the rooftop and across the way as his legs scissored and he twisted up towards the skyscrapers. Maybe she lost him then, since he was /fast/. But he didn't try to hide his tracks and those weblines… took a while to decay.
Then she might have caught up with him just off of Central Park. Three men running quick and ducking into an alleyway. Too far to hear what they said but all of a sudden he was moving again. And it was brilliance in motion. As if she had been tailing a honking goose who suddenly erupted into song that was enough to bring tears to an angel's eyes. Only she was perhaps the only person in the world who could quite appreciate it in the same way.
Flipping, leaping, twisting in the air. Strikes lashing out seeming to come without forethought blessed with only a purity of instinct…
And through it all his head seemed to bob slightly with an internal rhythm. Only this time she might hear him humming some lyrics to himself.
"Skippin' off the sidewalk. Bouncin' off the ceilin'."
A man tried to clock him with a crowbar, he twisted to the side and kicked.
"I told you a secret. You said you would keep it. Talkin' bout…"
He hums a few more bars even as he webs the last of them together then yoinks them into the air.

*

The pulse of New York is like the counterpoint to the screeching violins and echoing brass of the Industrial nightlife that is Gotham city. New York City is more of a rumbling bass, a deep vibration that could shake even the concrete jungle to its core and connect all of the denizens of the city no matter where they stood between Manhattan and Staten Island. The underbelly isn't so different. There's crime here too, if a slightly different flavour than the seedy neo-noir glitz and glamour of the steaming Gotham underbelly.
Cass's day was infinitely more involved and yet far less complicated. She tailed a couple of broad shouldered thugs back toa warehouse full of stolen goods destined to be sold in Gotham and left their unconscious bodies strewn about to be picked up by the police. When she got hungry she swiped a co uple of lunches from their work fridge and ended up chewing on a pimento and cheese sandwich while sipping ginger ale all the way to Midtown. Judging by what she'd seen of Spider-Man she'd have the opportunity to run into him soon if she went into the city and listened for the shouts and screams, then kept an eye out for the occasional line of webbing.
It's a method that has Cass stop a mugging and nearly get into a fight with a druggie over the contents of a dark alley. Soon enough, however, she's found her target. The young woman is dressed in dark clothing including her jeans and a hoodie, hood up, and she watches curiously as Peter deals with the thugs. Beauty in motion. Unrefined, but mesmerizing. Enough so that she doesn't introduce herself and instead continues to quietly follow, keeping to the alley ways and letting Spider-Man lead her to the next destination along the way.

*

In that alleyway the voices of the three men being hoisted by their petards up on the outswung arm of the building's flagpole are loud as one asks the other, "The hell is he sayin'!?"
"Ugh this sticky stuff is gross!"
"Let us down, you freak!"
Only for Spidey to hop up the side of the wall, leaning outwards to come face to face with one of the thugs whom he promptly 'boops' on the nose with a bewebbed fingertip, "Call me, text me, mail me, get me 1, 2, 3, 4…"
He swings down and lands in a crouch as he scoops up his backpack from behind a dumpster. "Give a give a girl, give a girl some more. 5, 6, 7, 8." He turns and leaves a small calling card at the base of the building along with the webbed up 'loot' that was stolen.
And as quick as that he launches himself back into the rhythm of the city, flying across the skyline, flipping over the lip of a building, twisting in mid-air as he defies gravity by dropping over the far side… only to save himself at the last moment. And through it all she can read mainly, in these moments in that purity of flight, … joy.
But then he's moving across town again. Hard to track for most but she is not most people. He lands upon a distant rooftop and to the world he disappears. Only for some time to pass and for him to emerge… back on the street in front of one apartment building… only for him to cross the street towards another one. He hops up the five steps, pulls open the security door.
And then stands there in the main entryway checking his mail.

*

To himself Peter sighs a bit as the ear buds are pulled free. "Bill. Bill. Weekly Saver. Bill." He crinkles his nose heaving a small sigh even as he starts to tear up some of the ads and junk mail. He tucks the remaining bills into his backpack, then starts to /run/ up the stairs, footsteps clomping and stomping as he in a brief moment of over zealousness runs /up/ the side of the wall and then lands in front of his apartment door with a heavy _thud_.
Only for him to stop there, his head tilting to the side as his brows furrow. Voices? Inside? One he recognizes with a small grin, but who is she talking to?
"Heya Aunt May." The door opens as Peter steps inside, turning and quickly tossing his backpack into the corner of the room next to his coat rack. The apartment is small and definitely could use something like… well… furniture since his book shelves and coffee table seem to be made of ply wood and cinder blocks.
"Thought I was going to see you this weekend, how's the…" He stops as he turns away after putting his jacket up on the coat rack and that's when he sees…

*

"Peter?" Aunt May emerges to meet the young man as he's entering his apartment. She looks him over briefly, her expression one of vague bemusement. "I just came by to check up on you, actually. It's a good thing I did, actually. Who knows how long your lovely friend here would have been waiting if I hadn't come by? You should introduce me to your friends more often. She was just helping me straighten up a little bit…"
Peter will find, if he looks closely, that there is a new piece of furniture. A real bookcase. Aunt May points at it then and tiltsws her head toward the kitchen. "Your friend offered to help me get this thing inside…" Out of the kitchen emerges a slender Asian girl of unclear lineage with short, slightly spiky black hair and intense brown eyes. She is wearing dark clothing and bears too much resemblance to a certain girl who helped Spider-Man stop a robbery the other day for this to be a coincidence. She doesn't say a word when she sees Peter, just looks in his direction and bous her head a little bit.
"She's pretty shy, hm? …Anyway, I'm going to get out of your way… Peter. You need to take better care of yourself. Have you been sleeping properly? I'm worried about you."

*

"Oh hey that looks nice, but you didn't have to…"
Peter's brow furrows even further then as he looks from the bookcase to his aunt and then back again. One eyebrow lifts as he says, "My what now?"
And that, of course, is the moment when Cassandra emerges. Though he does not know her by name. He knows her more from the intensity in her gaze and that curious facial expression that seems perhaps a bit amused and perhaps a bit disconcerting. To him at least.
She can see the race of thoughts slice through him, presenting her a picture and a glimpse into his thoughts that most anyone else would miss. She'll see that rush of panic, the widening of his eyes, the slight flare to his nostrils. Surprise is a close second chased on its heels by… befuddled ire as he spreads his hands slightly and balances on the balls of his feet as if he were ready to move in any directions instantly. Which he is.
But May, she keeps on chatting in that jovial tone, the hint of Queens accent clearly heard as she unpacks some groceries into the fridge and starts to close up a bag of garbage. "You didn't tell me you were making 'friends'." She says with a lilt to her voice, perhaps teasing in her own inimitable May-way.
"Oh yeah, you know me, May. Bunches and bunches. Scads even." But it's as May turns away and is dealing with the bag that Peter shoots a look across the way straight at Cass and spreads his hands as if asking her silently, 'WTF?!'
But then May looks back and he turns an open smile, albeit a lil disingenuous one. "You still hang out with Harry and everybody?"
"Well yeah, of course. I mean, when I see him."
"That's good." He shoots a look between the two, perhaps picking up on… 'something'. "Okay then, you two be good." She starts towards the door, resting her hand on the knob. "I mean, you are both adults so do whatever you want."
"Aunt May!?"
"I'm just saying, Peter…"
"You don't have to. You don't have to say /anything/ Please. _Please_ don't say anything else."
May chuckles and gives a wave towards Cass even as she's ushered out the door.
The door closes but only after Peter says quickly, "Bye, I'll call you, love you."
"Love you too, Peter…"
/WHAM!/
The door closes, Peter's arms spread over it and his back to it as if defending against a hundred elephants about to break it down. And he's left there… staring at Cass with wide eyes and such a perplexed look on his features as he takes a deep breath.
And then May's parting words from the hallway reach their ears, "Remember to be safe!"
Peter blushes furiously.

*

Cassandra appears to be unflustered by Aunt May's commentary for some reason. Peter looks as if he might speak some more so she holds up a single finger. Then the girl cocks her head slightly toward the door. SHe's listening for something. Then she lets out a slow exhalation of breath and nods. Silence follows for a moment as the young woman regards Spider-Man across his apartment as if evaluating him for something.
Then Cassandra speaks. She has a soft, clear voice. She makes herself well-understood but there's a slight rasp to it, as if her voice generally goes unused."You should clean up the web lines around your home." Just that, flatly stated entirelly in monosyllabic words. Then brown eyes shift to the shelf she carried in. "Your Aunt brought it all the way here alone."
Is Cass judging him? With those fierce, dark eyes she is good at baring someone's soul with her stares. It might be a criticism… Or just a passive trait. It's actually hard to tell.

*

Flustered… flustered is a good way to describe Peter's mental state in that moment. He's still just standing there with his arms over the door as if holding it against the weight of the world and finding it crumbling around him. But as she speaks he listens with that same furrow of his eyebrows and that pure look of incredulity to him.
"Oh I should, huh?" He says, flippant and probably not really registering what she's saying as several choice words are burbling beneatht he surface trying to get out as he just watches her.
"Hey…" He holds up a fingertip, "I didn't know she was coming. I would've helped her. I mean I help her a…"
Then she might almost see the 'record scratch' that causes him to just stop and say, "Why am I /telling/ you this?"
And then it comes flooding out. "Who /are/ you? What are you /doing/ here?" He steps forwards hands thrown up in the air, "How did you? I mean… what is your? Did you…" Synapses firing, misfiring, frizzling.
Until finally, "What is your /deal/ lady?!"

*

"Were you hiding?" Cass asks slowly, cocking herh ead slightly as she does. She continues to watch Peter with that cold intensity she seems to have carefully cultivated. "You left a trail right to your door," she offers in a tone that is matter-of-fact and utterly unhelpful.
So saying, the young woman takes a couple steps , walking more or less perpendicular to Peter as she crosses his apartment, as if looking around the room in question. "You are not being careful." disyllabic words, now! Cass is really moving up in the world. She must care about this point a lot. She lifts a finger and points firmly at Peter.
"I was worried about you."

*

"I mean… yes?" Peter's standing there in front of her and he's somewhat angry, but there is no lying to the woman in front of him. She reads his body language instantly despite any attempt to hide himself away from her. It's anger only in as far as it covers up the fear that comes along with it. Fear of being found out. Of what's happened to the people around him. "I don't really run around telling people… you know." He can't bring himself to say it in her company, not yet at least.
"And no way, I'm pretty good about that stuff." Denying her other statement, even though her very presence here should well give him some trepidation.
But then she tells him he's not being careful, and… points at him. Then tells him she's worried about him.
That stops him in his tracks. Now the anger's gone. Or mostly so. There's surprise there, mostly confusion. And then he gives voice to it as he asks, "Why?"
To him she's that strange girl that he saw that night. To her… well she has perhaps seen more of him than he has of her.

*

"I found you. Your enemies will find you," Cassandra replies simply. She frowns then and turns away from Peter, taking a deep breath. "You need to learn." Then Cassandra does something that might strike Peter as odd. She shifts her stance, adjusting her weight slightly as she falls subtly into a Kung Fu stance. Like she's considering giving him a sharp kick to emphasize her point. If he even notices the movement at all.
Not that Cass can threaten Peter, right? She seems to be, well… Human. And he's Spider-Man.

*

She turns, presenting herself subtly. It's barely a movement that only a trained artist could perceive. Something subtle in the air between them that practicioners would call 'chi', the feeling of one fighter facing another and reading from them. Only with him, his utter state and lack of training somehow when she takes that stance…
He can tell.
She'll see him almost instinctively turn faintly to the side, almost in perfect counterpoint unknowingly giving her but his profile as for him there's the faintest of jangle in the back of his mind, that faint itch of warning that lets him know that tension has risen even though there might be no malice in her movement and form.
And from him she reads nothing akin in return. It's as if in their shared world she travelled the land looking for bright spots to perceive. Hints of what could be considered kinship when she meets another artist or fighter. Each of them offering a hint of a glimmer.
But the way she's seen him move. The purity of his instinct. And now how he seems to 'hear' her in a way as she hears others. It's as if she had just discovered her own beacon in the dark.
"No. They won't." Peter says that finally, even though on some level he can feel that tension there between them. Then he asks her, "Who /are/ you?"

*

"They will find you," Cass repeats. "And they will hurt her." That might be the point that Cassandra finds most distressing, judging by her movements. She adjusts her stance ever so slightly as Peter readies himself, noting how he moves and the stance he takes. her frown darkens slightly and she narrows her eyes. It's all the warning Peter gets.
Cassandra bears Pete no malice but that doesn't mean anything right now. She doesn't hold back in fights like these… Especially not against opponents who so clearly out match her on paper. It should be a shoe-in, right? Someone as fast as strong and Spider-Man fighting a human girl? BUt it doesn't quite work out that way.
Cass lashes out with a sudden kick for Peter to dodge. But, unbelievably, she seems to know he would. She's already attacking again, a flurry of predictive strikes and kicks, each with enough force to seriously hurt an ordinary person.
This is how Cassandra ends disagreements and makes her points. In battle.

*

Usually when she expresses herself so forcefully it is in a brief burst. Short sharp movements that end with twin impacts to her target and then the target hitting the floor. But as she conveys herself to him, speaks to him almost instantly with words that speak to the fears he holds close to his heart she can see his eyes narrow abruptly as well.
It's in that moment that everything else is forgotten. The world outside. The crazed situation that brought her here before him. The wild chaos she presents into his life of somehow knowing his identity and meeting his Aunt…
All of it fades into what must be here and now between them. The movement shared even as she bursts into movement.
Graceful, perfect. She lashes out with that kick and to her it should connect. To him time seems to move slower in some ways, while in others he responds with that same smooth movement unhindered by thought and fear and worry.
He shoe slices through the air and /through/ where his head was but a moment ago. It's clear she's not sparring, not holding back for she strikes as one is trained to do. To strike through your target to the space behind them so that they suffer all the power of the impact.
Time returns as she'll feel a push to her leg slightly as he spins to the side. Her elbow blurs past over him as she uncoils like the crack of a whip as he drops low, one leg whispering over the hard wood floor and seeking to catch her ankle. Only for her to easily step back, leg coming up and chambering for him to accept with a twist of his hip and another short /slap/ against her leg.
It is a blur of movement. They are both staggeringly fast, and it soon becomes a steady cascade of motion shared as she insists to him silently. Those words she spoke to him echoing in his thoughts.
They will follow you.
They will hurt her.
His features tighten, lips pursing for a moment as he turns attempting to catch her wrist at the next thrown punch and pull her forwards while he braces with his other hand, their forearms touching in a classic pose out of the Shaolin school though he knows it not. For a moment they stand there in that pause, his breath coming a little faster as he meets her eyes. Then he tells her, with a growl in his voice that most of the people who know him have never heard.
"No. They won't."

*

"Then be better," Cass snaps suddenly, her voice harsh. "I should be on the floor." Then there's another cascade of movement. A frenzy of activity as the deadly ballet of combat reignites.Cassandra never learned to hold back. Not when she was a child and certainly not now, fighting someone who is literally better than human. Peter is much faster, but Cassandra has experience. She deflects blows rather than blocking them, twists herself in odd ways to avoid his attacks as an acknowledgment of his sheer strength and physicality.
In this case, however, combat is as much a form of language as actual violence. Wittgenstein once said that what cannot be said must be passed over in silence. Cass does not know the words for everything she wishes to convey, so this is how she "speaks". Through the rush of adrenaline, the gleam of perspiration on her forehead. The pain of fists striking flesh. Even a successful punch bruises the knuckles. There's nary a strike or movement out of place.
There aren't any other words to be shared. That time has passed. Peter will have to figure out her meaning through the cleansing purity of physical conflict.

*

She can feel the pace, the rhythm between them. Not as easy going or tinged with joy as it was before when she saw him flipping across the city, flying through the sky with only the webline saving him from an untimely plummet. This is all intensity, a clash, perhaps a debate shared between the two in what is mostly silent save for the rush and snap of cloth, the slap of flesh striking flesh when each makes a block or slips a blow to the side.
There are moments where they are so close they can hear the other's breath. And then instances where he stands across the room hands up as if trying to urge her to stay back from him yet where their eyes meet. And so much is said between them.
She comes at him again and as the discussion continues it becomes more and more heated, intense. He finds himself finally… /finally/ hitting back and she can read that intention just a split second before he moves. He tries to give such an impression to the world of a kid that fades into the crowd. But in this crucible she can judge him for who he is. What he is. Can see the powerful musculature at play beneath taut flesh in those brief moments when his fist slices towards her, or when he twists and his over-sized t-shirt whips around.
Time seems to blur and despite the conflict between them it is almost utter silence save for the thump and whisper of footsteps upon the ground. No quips come from him, no wry comments. Perhaps fear isn't the first thing in his thoughts anymore. But then when she seems to dash towards him, chambering a leg to fire at him viciously and she seems to slip…
He capitalizes on it instantly, stepping close and drawing back a fist…
Only for him to stop there those knuckles held back and to the side as his other hand half-steadies her and half tries to hold her there. It's only then that he answers her finally saying, "But… I don't want to hurt you."

*

Peter stops to speak and that instant is when Cassandra strikes. He holds his fist and she steps in, delivering a brutal punch directly to Peter's jaw. She's following up on the feint that he saw as an opening in the first place. It's a smooth motion, and while an ordinary person would be on the floor Peter is made of much sterner stuff. Only once that blow is landed and she's staring Peter directly in the face, eye to eye, does Cass actually cease fighting.

The young woman glares at him, the dark brown of her eyes locked to his in a truly scintillating fashion. She knows she's caused him pain but that was the point. She's breathing heavily, her chest rising and falling in quick, controlled motions . IKeeping up with Peter is exhausting, even for Cassandra. More than he is, she is flash and bone. A human girl, though trained far past the capacity other people could possibly achieve.
Cass stays frozen there, in the position in which she struck Peter, letting the meaning of that blow sink in along with the importance of her words.
"I don't want to hurt you," Peter had said.
Well. Then I'll hurt you.

*

As quick as that the spell is broken. Whatever had come over them the punch ended it as Peter reels back and winces, rubbing at his jaw as he flattens for a moment against the wall… then crawls up it so that he's perched over her with the balls of his feet alone supporting his weight.
"Alright…" He grimaces and tilts his head as he looks at her, then upwards as he digs around with his tongue into his cheek and frowns. "I think you loosened a tooth." Okay she didn't, but still. She should feel bad!
"Look… whoever you are. I sort of… appreciate? Your trying to… help me? I guess? I just…" He looks across the way and sighs as he considers his apartment, and the mess they've assuredly made of it at least somewhat. "I get the point. I'll try to be more subtle when coming home but…"
He looks at her and meets those intense brown eyes of hers again, "Why do you care?"

*

When Pete says Cassandra loosened a tooth she jabs him hard in the shoulder and frowns. That sort of exaggeration apparently doesn't sit well. A toe is tapped against the floor as the man speaks and then she takes a deep breath. That breath is held for long moments, stressing out the silence in what might seem to be an almost interminable fashion. At least thirty full seconds if not longer. More than most people can stand in the midst of a conversation. She takes a deep breath, holds it, pauses for a long moment. Cassandra reaches into a pocket on her hoodie and produces a mask. It's probably familiar. People tend to stare quite a bit at Batgirl, after all. Black Bat? Whatever the fmeale caped crusader calls herself these nights. She holds it up for him to see and bows her head slightly.
A secret for a secret.

*

Thud-kathump is heard as he drops off the wall and lands in front of her. She draws out the mask and he looks at it with open curiosity. It might remind her of the times she watched him from afar, that open interest creating the lens through which he views the world. Then he looks back up into her eyes and his head cocks to the side slightly.
He extends one hand towards her and then cocks an eyebrow, asking a silent question. And if she accepts then he'll take up that small domino mask and bring it up before his features.
She'll likely catch him sneaking a look at himself in the mirror, perhaps imagining himself as Zorro or the like as his eyebrows rise as if attempting a more… debonair pose. But then he extends it back towards her and tells her with a smile. A hesitant one. But still a smile.
"I like mine better."
There he goes joking again. But he then presses on as he says, "Alright then. I guess there's no crying over spilled milk." He extends his hand towards her asking for a shake as he says, "My name's Peter. Though I guess you puzzled that out by now." What with his Aunt calling him that several times.
"What uhhh, should I call you?"

*

"Cassandra," the girl replies after a moment's pause. Almost as if she's used to leaving that question unanswered. She is content to watch Peter with the mask for a moment, though it is quickly tucked away once he relinquishes it. She shifts her weight slightly from left to right but doesn't speak further for the moment. Instead, she takes another deep breath and looks around, studying the apartment.

Silence follows throughout all of this. Cassandra is more than comfortable with it, and shows little sign of responding to further questions. She does, however, consider Peter quizzically, occasionally answering his words with an arched brow or pursed lips.
This is what passes for conversation these days. Apparently.

*

Folding his arms over his chest Peter doesn't seem hugely inclined to break the silence since for his part… he's sort of still watching Cassandra. Though really he might be more marvelling at the entire situation. He takes a deep breath and tries to follow her attention, looking at what she's looking at.
Then, after a few minutes she'll hear his voice again as he asks, "Do you have any other advice you'd like to impart?" He steps around and moves towards the coatrack across the way. "C'mon, let's go get something to eat and then we can… uh, talk some. I guess."
He starts to pull on his jacket as he looks back towards her, "And if you decide to come back around maybe… I dunno, wait til I'm home? If my aunt finds you again she's going to think we're dating."

*

Cassandra arches a brow at the mention of dating but she leaves her thoughts unsaid. If Aunt May sees them out getting a meal, after all, she will absolutely think they are dating. Cass doesn't quite have the words to voice this so instead she nods once and then turns to face Peter properly. She then takes another of those deep breaths and purp-osefully starts toward the door. When she reaches it she glances back at Peter behind her.
This must be what passes for agreement. Cassandra will soon proceed back out into the world.
Aunt May, on the phone with a friend a few hours later. "I think my Peter may have started seeing someone! He's growing up…"

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