This story takes place a few months before Amazing Spider-Man #442.
He had been here for the past week. He hadn't made any effort to do anything constructive or even pull on the costume. All he wanted to do was eat, sleep, and try not to think of Mary Jane's plane exploding. He had come here, to his aunt's house, but there was no consoling him. His aunt merely watched as she could do nothing for the child she raised.
"Peter?" she asked, poking her head into his room. Do you want anything?"
Peter stuck his head out from underneath his covers. "No Aunt May. I'll just lie here a little longer. Don't mind me."
"Peter Parker!" she said with a stern look as she entered the room. "Mary Jane wouldn't have wanted you like this. She would want you to be happy..." She sat on her nephew's bed and placed a hand on his shoulder.
"There is no happiness without Mary Jane..." he replied.
"You said the same thing when Gwen died dear," she retorted.
"That was different, I had Mary Jane, Harry, Flash..."
"And you have me now. What's so different?" May asked as she folded her arms.
Peter pulled himself into a sitting position. For the first time in days, he smiled. "You're right Aunt May. A pretty young thing like you always does the trick. I have to try to pull myself together. MJ would have wanted that."
"Not to mention your uncle," May replied as she stood. "Would you be a dear and go pick up some eggs for me dear? When you come back, we'll sit down and have a nice long discussion."
Peter nodded as he pulled on a shirt and dug through his suitcase for some pants. "Hey May, have you seen..." His words were cut off when his aunt threw a pair of pants at him.
"They never found their way back to your bag after you tossed them in the wash when you got here," she explained as she laid the rest of his clothes on his bed. Peter slid his watch on and then grabbed his wallet. "Maybe you ought to take..."
Peter pointed a finger at her. "Don't even say it," he grinned. "I'll be fine."
May shrugged and left the room. "Old habits die hard Peter."
He had only walked a few blocks when he ducked around a dark building and crawled up the other side as Spider-Man. His head darted back and forth instinctively; he had been at this too long to be careless. Satisfied, he checked the levels of fluid in each web cartridge and then shot a web out to the northeast.
It feels nice to be out and about again, sad thing is I wouldn't stand a chance if someone decided to jump me. He let go of his first line then flung himself in the opposite direction webs spinning as fast as he could shoot them. Can't let myself believe MJ is dead either. Too many things point at the fact she's not. She's out there, somewhere, waiting for me! But where? He landed on the side of one of the Twin Towers and exhaled. "At least Aunt May's being as supportive as she can. She's the only reason I'm not a complete basket case," He adjusted his mask, and began to climb down the side of the building
Meanwhile, stories below the ever-spectacular wall-crawler, a young boy and his aunt emerge from a downtown bank.
"Aunt Mary," the boy began as he took her hand. "Where are we going again?"
Mary smiled down on her nephew. "We're taking the money your parents left you and starting an account for you Ben, so you can go to college." The two weaved between pedestrians as they walked down the block.
"I know that," Ben said rolling his eyes. "We were just at the bank, where are we going now?"
Mary laughed as they turned into another building. "We're going to see the lawyer of your father's estate. He's going to give me the money to put in your account."
Ben looked deep in thought for a second. "Can't we just take the money and buy lots of candy?" he asked innocently.
May Parker sat in the coziness of her living room, waiting for Peter to bring back eggs. She flipped through an old photo album while she waited.
"Look at this," she said softly. She was looking over a picture of Peter when he was about 6 years old, riding his Uncle Ben like a horse. Ben couldn't sit up straight for a week after that. He never liked to think of himself as old.
She looked on the next page where a dapperly dressed Ben was holding her hand, kissing it in front of their 30th anniversary cake. They had surprised me that day! Ben acted all day as if he had forgotten, but when I returned from a walk, there he, Peter and Anna Watson was in front of our cake.
"I forgot all about this one!" she said excitedly. This one was a picture of a Spider-Man costume, one Peter himself had made as a joke. I couldn't help but take a picture of it before I threw that awful thing in the garbage. I still wonder how Peter gets such wonderful pictures of him.
A ringing sounded in the kitchen, and May knew her pot roast was finished. She closed the album and set it on her coffee table. I do hope Peter hurries; the food will be cold.
Mary and Ben came back out onto the sidewalk, with Ben dangling a red lollipop out of his mouth.
"Aunt Mary, when can I start using the money?" Ben asked as he jumped over a crack in the sidewalk.
"Not until your 18 years old, and not a day sooner," she replied as she zipped up her purse. "Where do you want to eat at once we finish?"
"I don't know. You pick," Ben sighed.
He received no answer. He stopped and looked around but his aunt was nowhere in sight. "Aunt Mary?" he walked back the way he came, stopping at the site he saw in the alley.
His aunt was being drug away from the street by a male wearing a toboggan and a long leather jacket. "You get away from her!" he screamed. He broke into a dead run towards his guardian's attacker.
The man pushed the little boy down and dropped the older woman. "Give me the money," he demanded.
"What money?" Mary retorted but was only met with a slap to the face.
"The money you just got from the lawyer. I was in the room," he growled as he moved closer to her. "The. Money. Now!"
A pain shot through his right calf and he shouted in pain. He whirled around to spot Ben wiping his mouth off after just biting the mugger. "Leave her alone!" he yelled.
"I gave you a chance kid, but now..." he leered at the child and started to reach for him.
Ben closed his eyes
"Don't touch him!" another man shouted as he slammed both feet into the muggers back.
Ben opened his eyes to a sight. His aunt had pulled herself over to a wall and between him and her stood the mugger and Spider-Man. "Wow..."
"You know..." the Spider began as he walked calmly over to the mugger. "Normally, I'd crack a couple jokes, stay just out of reach for a few minutes, then knock you silly."
"Whatever Spider-Guy, I ain't scared of you," the mugger replied as he backed himself into a wall. He put his fists in the air. "Bring it on!"
Spider-Man stopped and folded his arms. "But what you're doing..." he went on as he pulled his gloves tighter on each hand. "Just makes me sick." He lashed out with his left arm, tapping the thief with just enough force to make him pass out. "Are you okay ma'am?" he asked a she pulled Mary to her feet.
"I'm fine," she answered as she dusted herself off. "Where's Ben?"
"Right here Aunt Mary," he declared as he came out from behind a dumpster. "I hid once Spidey showed up."
"I just don't know what to do to thank you," she stammered. Spider-Man waved her off.
"All in a days work. Now you better be getting back to the bank." With that he lifted his arm and shot a webline, which soon carried him out of their sight.
"He's not as bad as the Bugle says," Mary said softly as she watched him go.
"Aunt Mary," Ben said as he tugged on her jacket. "What's a bugle?"
May was sitting in the living room reading a magazine when she heard a key in her door. "What took you so long dear? I started to get worried," she said as she looked up.
"Sorry Aunt May," Peter apologized as he kissed her cheek. "Would you believe I had to go to three stores for these things?"
May smiled and set her magazine down. "Go put those in the fridge and come out here and have a seat. The bread won't be done for an half an hour still."
Peter put the eggs in their proper place and came back into the living room. Flopping down next to her on the couch, he let his head fall back and closed his eyes. "How did you do it May?"
May was surprised when Peter broke the silence. "How do I do what?"
"How did you keep going after Uncle Ben died?" he asked as he turned his head to her. He had never even thought of the question until earlier when he had his run-in with Mary and Ben.
May was quiet for a moment. "I can't really explain it to you Peter. It would all sound like tired clichés." She looked down in her lap then raised her head again. "The only thing I can tell you is know in your heart that every minute you got to spend with that person was special and that they loved you as much as you love them. With that in mind, you have to know you'll see them again. I just have to believe your uncle and I will be together again, just like you have to believe you and Mary Jane will be together again. That's about as good as it gets for explaining it however."
Peter looked at her as if truer words were never spoken. "Thank you Aunt May. I needed that." Sitting up and wiping his nearly tearing eyes, he smelled the aromas of the kitchen. "Can we start without the bread, I'm famished."
May smiled and stood up. "Of course dear."
Peter slid the last of the plates into the soapy dishwater, as May was rinsing off another. "How do you do it?" was said again, this time by May.
Peter put the finished homemade bread in aluminum foil and put it with the rest of the breads. "Do what?"
"How do you get those pictures of Spider-Man? Are you friends, is it blackmail, do you pay him?" May turned around and looked her nephew dead in the eye.
Um, um, um...where in the hell is this coming from? "No, no, and no. I'm an action photographer, I have to be right there when things are happening, I'm paid for that," he smiled.
"But how are you not seen?" she pried even more.
"Luck I guess," Peter shrugged as he sat down. "But believe me there's been times..."
"Peter please," May said. "I understand. I just worry about you like you just moved in yesterday. It's hard letting go of these type of things." She sighed and put the last dish in the cabinet. "Just promise me one thing Peter."
"You name it gorgeous."
"Continue to be lucky," she said as she placed the dishtowel back on the counter.
"I-I can do that May," Peter responded, choked up a bit from his aunt's tender plea.
"There's too many people you can't let down," she said in almost a whisper.
Peter almost jumped out of his skin at the comment. "Could you say that again?" he asked with wide eyes.
"Nothing dear, just talking to myself. I think I'll go and take a nap. Wake me in an hour and a half."
Peter nodded as his breathing slowed. "I think I'll actually go home, start cleaning up the mess MJ and I made before..."
"It's okay Peter," May said as she turned the corner into her room. "Just remember what I said and you'll be fine." The door closed behind her.
Peter smiled and went to the living room to watch television for awhile. I think the city can do without me tonight.