I wrote this piece of flash fan fiction for my Collective Storytelling class. I’ve never felt compelled to write fanfic, although I respect writers who do. For this experiment, I was originally going to do a fairly cynical piece titled “Ginny Weasley and the Quarter-Life Crisis,” about an eighth year at Hogwarts where Ginny is dating the new Defense of the Dark Arts teacher Harry Potter. She freaks out because without Voldemort there’s no reason to do anything, and she realizes that she goes to the only high school in the world where NO ONE HAS SEX.
In the end, I decided against this piece. I wanted to write something from my heart, the way that true blue fan fiction writers do. I chose to retell the end of the controversial Spider-man arc from 2007 — One More Day — in which Peter Parker makes a deal with the devil to save his Aunt May’s life in exchange for his marriage to Mary Jane Watson and 20 years of series continuity. Although my version nullifies every issue of Spider-man since One More Day, it stays true to the characters and the integrity of the series.
And besides, those new issues suck anyway.
No More Days
“I want your love,” the Devil said. “I want your marriage.”
Mary Jane had never heard anything so stupid.
Mephisto came to them in his usual form, red skinned, red caped, a dripping demon face fanged with yellow spikes—a child’s idea of the devil, a cliché. He stooped to lock his blazing eyes upon them, Mary Jane and her tormented husband Peter, otherwise known as The Amazing Spider-Man.
“Give me this one thing,” Mephisto hissed, “And I will return your precious elderly aunt to you.”
She could still hear the gunshot—the piercing crack that shattered glass and the old woman’s rib, sent her reeling and bleeding to the floor. Now Aunt May was plugged into a machine, only technically alive, and she didn’t have long. Peter blamed himself. If he hadn’t taken off his mask. If he hadn’t pissed off the Kingpin. If he had just tripped that burglar at the wrestling arena all those years ago, Uncle Ben would be alive, and Gwen would be alive, and May and Mary Jane would be safe.
Sometimes Peter could be such an idiot.
As many times as he had missed dinner, or a date, or anything, he was still the greatest man she had ever met, and this was coming from a girl who had spent time with Captain America. Peter was strong, and brave, and brilliant, but he held himself responsible for everything, and there were so many things outside of his control. He was Spider-Man. If someone was in danger, he had to go. Mary Jane would forgive him. If he was bleeding in an alley somewhere and missed their wedding, she would forgive him. That came with the bargain of being married to a superhero. Mary Jane had made peace with that long ago. Peter didn’t have a say in being a hero. He had the power, so he had the responsibility.
She almost threw up when he told her he was actually considering it. Was he TEN? You don’t make a deal with the Devil!
“She’s old, Peter. She has lived a long, happy life. She wouldn’t want you to do this.”
“That’s not the point,” he said. “If she died at home in her bed in Forest Hills, happy, at peace, of natural causes, that would be one thing. But not like this. Not like this.”
“No one is happy when they die, Peter. Even old women at home in their beds. And what do you think she would say to hear you say that? That you would give up your future, for what? A few more years where you don’t visit her as much as you should? What about the children we will have? This would kill them. What would she say?”
She had never seen him give the Rhino a look as angry as the one he gave her now. “I don’t know what she would say, because she’s not around for me to ask her.”
“What about me, Peter? What about our true love?”
It sounded wrong as she said it. She could hear a little bird in her head, telling her the truth. You were never his first pick. He loved Gwen Stacy. She was the angel. The blonde. Pure. Perfect. You were the carefree party girl. The slut. You smoked. You drank. And when the Green Goblin snapped Gwen’s neck, you were there to hold Peter while he cried. That’s all. Face it, Tiger, you have never hit the jackpot once in your entire life. He won’t agree to the deal unless you tell him to do it. He’ll listen to you. Do it.
And then she realized that the little bird in her head was a red bird.
“You know it’s all true,” the Devil said.
“Maybe it is the right thing to do,” Mary Jane replied. “Maybe I’m too selfish to be altruistic. It’s not like I would have to die in her place. But even if you speak the truth, it’s you. How can we believe you? Why would you ever make this deal fair? You want to torment us, to corrupt everything that is good and true. You want to ruin people’s happiness, with no thought to the consequences. Listening to you, it would be like entrusting one of the greatest stories of all time to a mediocre cartoonist with no writing credentials. Only children and fools would pay for that.”
She had to say nothing else. Mephisto was gone. The room washed away like blood in the rain, and Mary Jane was standing in the bright, antiseptic hallway of Columbia Presbyterian’s trauma ward. Peter came out of May’s room, his face hot with tears.
“MJ… she’s gone.”
“I know, Peter. I’m so sorry.” She held him the way she had so many times, when he was broken, when he was beaten, when that one percent of the time he needed her to be the strong one.
Peter said, “It’s not fair. I want things to be the way they used to be, when I was a slacker, and Harry was alive, and I worked at the Bugle, and things were simple. I want to go back to the status quo.”
“Only stories for kids are like that,” Mary Jane said. “In real life, everyone dies. But not everyone stays true to themselves. You have that, at least.”
He bit his trembling lip. She kissed it.
“And you have me.”
“Yeah,” he said. “I guess I do.”