38 Would You Have Stopped Me?

{Remember the bullying you went through as a child? You deserved it, you marbled piece of shit,} Peter snarled, his fingers crushing Tombstone's throat with all the force he could muster.

Just how many people had he killed today?

How many men and women had he gunned down?

How many children?


Tombstone's mouth began to froth as his white skin popped with veins, turning it mildly red.

Getting bullied as a child was not an excuse for becoming a sadistic mafia boss who liked killing people. He wished to psychologically break Tombstone's mind with carefully crafted verbal attacks, but the sounds of the police yelling at him to stop reached his ears. He didn't listen - Tombstone had to die.

"Sir! Get your hands off him!" a voice reached his ears, but he paid it no heed.


"..urk." Tombstone's eyes rolled backward, falling unconscious, but Peter didn't remove his hands - superhuman brains could most likely last much longer without oxygen. He had to make sure - he would not remove it until the man's heart ceased to beat.

"Hey... it's okay. You won," a soft voice spoke into his ear, her gloved hand wrapping around his wrist.

His gray eyes flicked to the side, finding Gwen crouching beside him. Armed guards circled him, their guns pointed at his head and their fingers on the trigger. George could be seen in the back of the circle, arguing with the SWAT team leader, pleading with them to back off - animatedly describing how the two superhumans had helped them while his arm was being bandaged.

His eyes flicked back to the small hand around his own before he sighed and loosened his grip on Tombstone's throat.

'This isn't the time to kill in public,' he angrily grumbled in his mind. 'Not when the public's view on superhumans is dangerously low.'

He slowly stood up, standing over the battered body of Tombstone with Gwen by his side, but just before he could address the leader of the SWAT team who'd stepped forward, he spotted a flash of green next to Tombstone's torn suit.

His eyes glazed over it, making sure not to give it away before he took a step forward and extended his hand to the man before him, his feet obscuring the object. His Adhesive touch made it stick to the bottom of his suit, removing the need for him to pick it up with his hands.

Helicopters whirred in the sky as law enforcement barricaded the entire road. More Police and SWAT members continued to arrive, keeping the crowd forming at bay. News reporters seemed to be scrambling to get a good shot - hoping to be the first to cover this giant scoop of an incident.

{I was just making sure he was unconscious. You don't want an angry superhuman who can bend metal in you car, do you?}, Peter said, his voice making the soldiers nervous, their fingers tightening around the trigger.

"Stand down," the leader's deep voice cut through the noise, instantly making his men drop their guns. He was of average height, about 5'10", and was decked out in full SWAT gear - even the face mask, but his black eyes seemed familiar.

He looked Peter up and down before stepping forward and grasping the extended hand in a firm handshake.

"Thank you for subduing the suspect," he said in a gruff voice, looking down on the unconscious Tombstone with disgust. A few of the members of his team had already begun dragging the thrashed body to one of their armored bodies.

The leader then leaned forward and whispered.

"Lemme tell you something. I wouldn't have given a flying fuck if you'd killed that sick son of a bitch. Hell, I'd have given you a medal."

Peter's eyes flashed with recognition.

'I know you now.'


After exchanging a few words with the leader, they dashed away from the scene, much to the indignation of the law enforcement and the news reporters, but they didn't chase them, as it wouldn't be good publicity to arrest superhumans who so publicly helped them.

Captain America's heroics were still burned into people's minds, stopping them from becoming supers-hating maniacs.


The wind rushed past Peter's face as Gwen and he dashed back toward Forest Hills via the tall buildings of the city, but unlike last time, both of them didn't say a word.

An awkward silence hung between them even though the experience of swinging from rooftop to rooftop was incredibly enjoyable.

Gwen's feet pushed off the water tank before landing on a rooftop and running beside Peter.

"We should talk, shouldn't we?" she said quietly, breaking the silence while looking at his intimidating side profile.

His gaze flicked to the green object in his hand - the one he picked up from Tombstone. It was, in fact, a small token with a black background and a grey and green symbol.

A large grey 'KP' with eight green tentacles extending from its back.

The very same symbol that the people who attacked Gwen had.

"Yeah...we should," he sighed.


"Oh my god! Gwen!" May squealed and rushed into her arms.

"May!!" Gwen squealed in return, returning the hug with enthusiasm. She was wearing her normal clothes, something she'd hidden in discrete locations in backpacks around New York. They had to take a detour to get them, which made Peter question the amount of money and careful planning it must've taken to set them all up without anyone, even her parents, noticing.

He'd come to appreciate his clotheocytes far more now.

"How's he been?"

"As annoying as ever. I love it!"

"You do? Hah, you're a lucky one...I bet if I let Ben stock the fridge, it'd be filled with potatoes!"

Peter's eyes flicked toward the person in question, who was munching on some fries with a look of betrayal and righteous anger on his face. It was a Sunday, so he had all the time in the world to fight for his favorite food.

He loved his potatoes more than his life.

After another hug from May, Gwen and Peter dashed up the stairs while Ben prepared a crusade against the potato slanderers.


Peter entered his room, followed by a slightly shaken Gwen. She'd hidden it well enough in public, but the moment she walked through the door, her fake smile collapsed.

She sat on the edge of his bed and pushed her hair out of her face.

Peter carefully sat next to her.

"You okay?"

"Do I look okay to you?!" she immediately frowned at him, her blue eyes glaring into his hazel ones. "I almost saw my father die in a gunfight while watching my boyfriend get brutally beaten up in the first half of the fight. Do you know how terrified I was even though you told me it was okay? Your arm got torn off! Twice!"

"Ah!" Peter's eyebrows rose. Seeing Gwen getting brutally beaten up before him would most definitely affect him too, even if she healed from every blow. He'd want to rip out the intestines of her opponent and shove it down their throat. That was the very reason he'd warned Gwen before the fight.

Either way, he'd have to apologize. That was the wisdom bequeathed to him by the Professor via passing advice. Even the highly accomplished scientist had to use a decade to properly figure out the art of talking to women. But even after all that studying, he got divorced all the same.

Poor Professor.

"I'm sorry. I didn't consi-," Peter began but was interrupted by Gwen leaning into him, cozying up to his shoulder.

"You don't need to apologize," Gwen muttered, poking his cheek. "You warned me. I'm just... a little jittery. I shouldn't have snapped at you."

'...Oh... the Professor can be wrong after all,' Peter's eyebrows rose as he wrapped an arm around Gwen, pulling her closer.

"It's fine. I can't blame you for that."

"I have so many questions..." she sighed, resting her head on his chest.

"Go ahead. I have all day."

"You do?!"

"Nope. I am on the verge of designing my next serum. Yours too," Peter grinned.

"Mine?" Gwen raised an elegant eyebrow. "You're making one for me?"

"Multiple. It'll be a surprise... well, not much of a surprise now that I've told you."

"You're terrible at keeping secrets, Pete," she sighed with a small smile, one that disappeared when her thoughts went back to today.

"How'd you do it?" she asked quietly.

"Do what?"

"Beat the bad guy, dummy," Gwen flicked his nose, snuggling closer as though she wanted to get into his skin.

"Oh, that," Peter grinned. "I built a mathematical equation to perfectly predict and adapt to the man's fighting style during the fight. That's why I let myself take such a beating."

"You were doing maths while getting your arm torn off?" Gwen's eyebrows twitched. "Why didn't you do it before the fight?"

"It... it wouldn't feel right. It's also much easier when a model is right before you," Peter shrugged.

"So you need to get yourself beaten up every single time you fight somebody?!"

"Nah... it'll take some time, but I'll adapt. On second thought, I do need to figure out a method to decrease the time it takes to adapt," Peter muttered and narrowed his eyes. How would that work? The equation would need more refining, but that would be a truly herculean task.

"Oi!" Gwen flicked his nose once more, interrupting his thoughts. "You have a beautiful girl in your arms, and you're doing math?"

"Someone knows their value," Peter smiled down at her, spawning butterflies in her stomach. He bent down for a kiss, but a hand quickly blocked his mouth.

"Just a minute. I... have another question," Gwen said, sitting up after extracting herself from the cuddle and facing a slightly confused Peter.

"What is it?" he said, tilting his head.

"You choking out the man wasn't just because you wanted him to be unconscious, right?" she said, a wary look in her eye. "Would you have let go if nobody was around you?"

'Oh, it's this,' Peter mentally sighed. 'I really need to get this out of the way.'

"Did you... want to kill him?" Gwen said softly, holding his hand.


"Did you not want to?" Peter replied, crossing his arms. This conversation was going to pop up one way or the other, given that he was dating Gwen. It's best that they have it before their relationship progresses any farther. "He killed so many people. For what?"

"Of course, I wanted to," Gwen answered. "But just because I wanted to, it doesn't mean I should."

"Why?" Peter spread his arms. "He and his men killed forty-five people in one day. How many more people do you think he's killed all his life? Do you think he should still be a part of our society?"

Gwen firmed her resolve, "No. Of course not! But it's not our decision to take a life."

"Don't you eat meat?"

"That's different!"

"How so? People die, animals die, plants die, microorganisms die. It's death all the same. It's natural," Peter said. "It's not the worst thing that can happen to a person, and some people just need to be put down lest they affect the lives of others. The man I choked out was one of them. We put them in jail, and they break out and kill more people - people whose death is on our hands."

Gwen's eyes still showed no signs of backing off.

"I get it. I've seen the pain and suffering caused by these criminals, but I still stand by the fact that taking a life is a line we can't cross. It's not just about us; it's about the example we set for others. If we start killing, where does it end? We could become just as bad as the villains we're trying to stop. We have to believe in the justice system, even if it's flawed."

"The justice system?" Peter wanted to snort, but he held it in. "It's blatantly evident to anyone who looks closely enough that our system is slow, ineffective, and corrupt beyond belief. Why wait four months for the judge to eke out a death sentence if you could do it in four seconds?"

"Because once you cross that line, there's no turning back!" Gwen shot back, standing up. This was most definitely something she held close to her heart.

Her code.

It would not be easy to affect it, and the same could be said for Peter. Even in his world, scum ran free regardless of whether they were caught. People with enough money and power had the world as their playground. They were above the so-called law. It would be hard to change Peter too.

"Killing isn't the only way. This isn't the way to help people."

"This is the way," Peter stood up too, looking down at a heated Gwen. She seemed to be on the verge of tears which made his eyes soften. "People you care about could get hurt if those people continue to roam the streets. George was hurt today, Gwen."

"He came out fine. The bullet just grazed him," Gwen tried to argue but was immediately shut down.

"But if your father was among the dead, would you have stopped me?"


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