This is part of an ongoing series. If you didn’t get a chance to see the First Arc you can catch Part One,  Part Two, and Part ThreePart Four Part FivePart SixPart SevenPart Eight, and Part Nine by clicking on the links.

Arc Four, Part Two: Jill Stacey’s Aftermath

Despite his efforts, the lecture doesn’t stop due to food.  May continues to lay into him as much as before.  Things suddenly become serious when Peter’s Spider-Sense begins tingling.  As Aunt May continues to speak, Peter’s body goes rigid.  He drowns out everything, readying himself for an attack.  Instead, he’s caught off guard by the sight of Jill Stacy walking casually up to the two of them, all smiles.  For May’s sake, Peter puts on his best poker face and acts as if nothing has changed.  Jill does an equally admirable job of faking her feelings.  She even goes as far as leaning in to give May a friendly kiss on the cheek, sneaking Peter an evil glance at the same time.  May, naturally, invites Jill to join them, which she’s more than happy to accept.  Around that time the waiter arrives with their food.  Aunt May excuses herself to go use the restroom before starting her meal, leaving Jill and Peter alone.  She looks at Peter and smiles.

JILL:  I suppose there’s no need for me to tell you not to say or do anything stupid right now.  You’re a pretty smart guy after all and we are in a public place.

PETER: I’m well aware of that.

JILL: Good, then please dig in.

Peter just looks at his plate of waiting food.

JILL: Not hungry?

PETER:  My appetite seems to have been spoiled.

JILL:  Too bad.  The food here is really good.  Would you mind?

Jill indicates his plate.  Peter says nothing.  Taking that as a yes, she pulls his plate to her and starts to eat.

JILL: You know, I know what you’re thinking.

PETER:  Do you?

JILL:  Mhm.  I mean, not literally.  I’m not a mutant or anything, but it’s written all over your face.

PETER: Enlighten me Jill.

JILL:  Most of it’s pretty obvious; a lot of confusion, a lot of anger.  But that’s not all.  There’s something else there, and that’s really the funniest part.

PETER:  I really don’t see anything funny about any of this.

JILL:  You would if you were me.  See, you think this isn’t real.  You keep thinking something must have happened to me.  Maybe I’m being brainwashed.  Maybe it’s mind control or I’m some evil clone or something.  I don’t know.  But it doesn’t really matter either way.  The point is, you think this is something you can fix.  That somehow you can bring me back and the woman you loved will be here again.  That’s cute.  Sappy and romantic, but cute.  We should probably get this straight right off the bat:  there’s nothing to fix here Peter.  This is who I am.  There’s no going back because there’s nothing to go back to.  Who I was with you for all these months, she didn’t exist.  The sooner you get that through your head, the better off you’re going to be.

PETER: Why are you doing this?

JILL (scoffs): You seriously need to ask me that?

PETER:  Yes.  Why all of this?  Why all the lies?  What’s the point of all of this?

JILL: The point, Peter, is that you need to finally accept what you did.  You killed Gwen.

PETER: I didn’t kill Gwen.  You don’t…

JILL: Don’t tell me that I don’t know what happened Peter.  I know exactly what happened.  It wasn’t the Goblin and it wasn’t the fall.  It was you.  You’re not going to admit it.  I know that.  Maybe you’ve even managed to really convince yourself that it wasn’t your fault.  But deep down somewhere in there you know that it is.  That’s why you’ve never been able to really let her go.  And don’t even pretend that your attraction to me didn’t have to do significantly with how much I look like her.  It’s guilt Peter.  You’ve been living with it for years.  I’m just finally going to make you confront it.  Then I’m going to make you pay for it.

Peter finally leans in closer.

PETER: Even if all of that were true, either way do you really think I’m just going to sit back and wait for all of this to happen?

JILL: Why not?  What are you going to do about it?  I’m not going to stop Peter.  There really is only one thing you could possibly do to end this.  And past incidents not withstanding, killing isn’t really your thing.  There’s the police obviously, but it’d be a bit hard to explain all this without having to reveal a few well kept secrets.

PETER:  My secrets don’t mean anything compared to the people I love.  If I need to give them up in order to keep them safe, I’ll do it.  So if this is supposed to be some kind of threat, it’s not going to work.

JILL: No, this wasn’t a threat…

Jill reaches into her handbag and pulls out a manila envelope and slides it across the table to Peter

JILL: …but this is.

Peter opens the envelope and removes a stack of photographs.  Each one is a picture of Jill taken from various angles, highlighting a series of cuts and bruises scattered all over her body.

JILL: I take it you can recognize your own handiwork?  I have to admit, you got a few good ones in once you got your head into the game.  Even you have to admit it would be extremely hard for you to deny that kind of evidence if I were to go to the police, seeing as how you’re actually the one who did all that.  The details as to how aren’t really important.  So decide for yourself which they’d be more likely to believe: that I’m a crazed super villain seeking some kind of revenge, or that you’re an abusive boyfriend who couldn’t handle it when I tried to call it quits.  For that matter, what if I just skipped the police altogether and we just see what Aunt May thinks of these when…

As she was talking Jill has reached across to grab the envelope back.  Peter grips her wrist tight.

PETER: Leave her out of this.

Jill smiles and pulls her hand back.

JILL:  Don’t worry, she’s safe for now.  Believe me Peter, this isn’t going to be quick by any means.  I’m going to savor this for as long as I can.  And speaking of savoring, you really did miss out on a great meal.  Mm, so good.

She pushes the empty plate back over to Peter and uses his napkin to wipe her mouth.

JILL: I have some things I need to do so please make my apologies to May.  But let her know I’ll be seeing her again very soon.

She gets up to leave and leans in to give Peter a quick kiss on the cheek. As she does she leans in close and whispers into his ear.

JILL: And I’ll be seeing you even sooner…tiger.

Jill departs, leaving Peter unsure of what will happen next, or when.  At this point Jill will fade into the background for a bit, allowing for some more traditional Spider-Man stories to be told, but still leaving that ongoing sense of unease both with Spider-Man and the reader.  We now have a villain who knows all of Spider-Man’s secrets and has no issues with harming the ones he loves.  The real fear comes from not knowing when she’ll make her next move.  That next move will be the focus of the next major arc.

~Col. Graff