january 17, 2021 — january bingo scene — gwen stacy & peter parker

It was the throbbing in her head that roused Gwen from the solid, deep sleep she’d been enjoying. A steady pulse of pressure and pain just behind her left ear. Thrum, thrum, thrum. She frowned as she buried her face in the pillow, wanting to block out any light from making it worse as she relented to being awake. That was the first she noticed something was off. The pillow, it was wrong. The wrong density, and it smelled different. Were pillows supposed to have distinct smells? Gwen pressed her forearms into the mattress to lift herself up, slowly blinking her eyes open to look down. They weren’t her sheets, and a squinting look around the room clearly showed a place she didn’t know. Boxes stacked around, a mess, like someone just moved in and hadn’t bothered unpacking yet. And it was so bright.

Stumbling out of bed — not her bed, not her room, where was she? — she moved over to the window to look out and see … not New York. Not any New York she knew, hers or others. Maybe it was some dimension new to her, where New York was bright and sunny? Unlikely. In her various trips across dimensions, some aspects were the same no matter where she was. And she was simply — her. Not us, not we. There was no Venom echoing inside her, thrumming in its own way and giving her more to combat. Only her.

Gwen drew in a sharp breath as she spun around to look at the room again, hopeful to see her power-up bracelet but knowing better than to actually expect it. No Venom, no power-ups, she was screwed, great. And then she caught a glimpse of herself in a mirror propped up against the wall. No, that couldn’t have been right, but the reflection mirrored her as she drew closer, staring at the stranger looking back. Her hand managed to stay steady as she reached out, watched the girl in the mirror reaching toward her too, fingertips meeting as hers pressed against the surface. It wasn’t the first time she’d been in a body other than her own, but the last time that happened she’d stabbed herself in the face and would have stayed dead if not for the regenerative powers of her host. Strange room, strange city, strange body, no powers, Gwen inhaled deeply before letting out a frustrated yell.

Pete shot up in bed. His bed — not his bed. Theo's bed, which was familiar now, but the space around it was not. Where the fuck was he? He squinted blearily around the room, this way and that — boxes, check, moving things, check. Right. He'd moved. There'd be a note about it, somewhere, like the ones they'd been leaving one another since this whole shit began, but Peter didn't have much time to look for it or think about it because the reason he'd woken up wasn't because of a nightmare or an earthquake or anything other than the fact that he could hear a scream coming from another room in the house.

He tumbled out of bed, tripping over his blanket and sheet, thankful Theo had gone to bed in boxer briefs because there was no thought in his head that told him to stop to change before he bolted out of the room, scrambled uselessly around the new house until he found the source of the shout, and then he burst through there, too. "What's going on?!" Pete was looking this way and that, prepared for anything — some monster, some bad guy, but... there was just a girl. A girl that the Theo in him recognized, but Pete hadn't seen before, not in person anyway — and he blinked and stared breathlessly.

"Uh." He blinked again. "Are you ... okay?"

Gwen let out a startled noise as the door came literally busting in, and then a guy was there too. A guy she didn't recognize, in his underwear, breaking into her room. Someone's room. The room where she currently was. His lack of clothes made her take quick inventory of what she was wearing, which was enough to be decent, which was good because her first instinct was to throw something at him. The closest thing she could reach that seemed hefty enough was a potted plant, which she grabbed and wielded in a show that she would use it if she had to.

"Who are you?" she demanded, because fake it til you make it, right? "Who are you and what did you do to me?"

He'd slammed in with such force and shock and urgency that he hadn't realized what had happened when his hand had met the doorknob — which was that it hadn't just pushed the door open, it had taken the entire thing off of its hinges, and now was attached to Pete's hand by virtue only of his hand stickiness. He hadn't had that level of uncontrollable for a long, long time, and Pete stared at it now, and then sharply up at the girl in front of him and the potted plant in her hands.

"Hey, wait!" He yelped, yanking his hand up — the door came with it, acting as a shield, in case she did decide to throw that thing at him. "I didn't do anything to you! Who are you?!"

The door flying up between them made Gwen throw the plant, because was he swinging it at her?! It hit the door, pot shattering and dirt going everywhere as she jumped back to avoid being close enough for the door to get her since apparently he could move it as if it was made of cardboard. She scrambled up onto a dresser to get the high ground and grabbed another plant, arm cocked back and ready to throw. "You're the one that came in here like a damn wrecking ball, you answer the questions! Who are you?!"

"Shit!" Pete ducked, which wasn't really necessary, considering his door shield — and then tried to back out of the room, which also wasn't happening, because — obviously — the door wouldn't fit back through. He instead remained trapped there, cringing behind it and listening to her shouting as he tried to wrack his brain for how Theo might know this girl — but, hang on. She didn't recognize this body either, which meant — something Peter's head couldn't quite put together just yet.

"I'm Pete—" He started, then stopped himself, swearing internally and wincing and then leaning around to peek out from behind the door. He was Pete in Theo's body, and that was just — he didn't really know how to introduce himself. "Just — relax. I'm not here to hurt you. I heard you screaming, and it woke me up, down the hall. Are you okay?"

Pete. Gwen blinked, slowly registering the rest of what he'd said, but mostly she was still stuck on the name. And okay, it made sense — the him waking up, coming in because he'd heard her scream. Him wrecking the door and all that, well, it could make sense. At minimum, he didn't seem to be confused about where he was — who he was — so as long as he wasn't about to try and kill her, she could work with that for now.

"Pete?" Her arm lowered slightly, not so primed to lob another plant at him. "Pete What?"

He'd woken up in such a tizzy that he'd barely registered the weird tingling at the back of his neck again — but it was just growing stronger with every passing second, honed in on the girl on the other side of the door he was holding, and when he thought about it he could identify it — familiar, a warning but not a warning, a suggestion that—

Pete furrowed his brows, blinking at her from where he was standing, and the way she didn't freak out to hear that he'd said Pete and not Theo. Carefully, he continued, searching her face as he answered with a very gentle, hopeful sounding, "Peter Parker."

This time the pot shattered because she dropped it, not because she threw it. Gwen didn't know where she was, whose body she'd been thrown into, but Peter was there. She stared at him, equally searching his face, looking for any hints of the Peter she knew. The way he was stuck to the door suddenly made much more sense, and of course he wasn't her Peter but that didn't matter.

"Peter." She was off the dresser in a flash, deftly side-stepping sharp pieces of broken ceramic on the floor as she managed to get around the freaking door he was holding to throw her arms around him tightly. "Oh my god."

He didn't pull away when she threw herself at him for a hug — just tried to get the door out of the way as much as he could. He got one arm around her too, whoever she was — she recognized him, his name, and it was like his spider-sense could tell, somehow, that it was Gwen. Or, at least, the suggestion of her, like the ghost of her somehow, and when she hugged him his hand finally released from the door knob and he wrapped both arms around her to squeeze back.

"Holy shit." He answered back, and only pulled away so he could search her face too. Peter didn't want to guess without knowing for sure. "And... you are...?"

She didn't want to let go, especially not when he was hugging her back and she felt like she was going to cry, because Peter was right there and she could hug him. She loosened up when he started to pull away though, one of her hands coming up to brush away a tear at the corner of her eye.

"Gwen," she answered quickly, looking up at him with wide eyes. "I'm Gwen."

A part of him had known it, and it was enormously relieving when she said it herself, and Peter felt the tension slide out of his shoulders. He tightened his grip around her again and tugged her into another hug, buried his face in her hair, and forgot, completely, that he was half naked. Until he very quickly remembered that he was half naked and took a sharp, embarrassed step back, his hands on her shoulders. "Uh, sorry. I'll — I need to find some pants." He laughed awkwardly, but so happily — to have someone like Gwen here, with him — the world suddenly felt a whole lot lonelier.

"I can't believe you're... here. I have so much to tell you. And it's just — this — it's all insane. But — we'll figure it out. Okay? Okay." He was already pulling away, backing out so he could fetch those sweatpants like he'd promised.

Pants, right. Gwen didn't give a shit about pants at that moment, even though it was kind of weird, the state they were both in, given the circumstances. Absolutely no part of her wanted to let go of Peter, and definitely not let him out of her sight, but realistically she knew he was barely Not Naked and she was only fortunate that the shirt she was wearing was long enough to make it not matter she wasn't wearing pants either. So she pulled her arms back, hands moving up into her hair to push it away from her face and give her something to do as she watched him backing away through the wide open doorway, door discarded at an awkward angle inside the room.

"You're — you're not going to turn into a giant lizard, right?" she asked, finding a pair of joggers nearby and yanking them on as she stumbled after him, almost like he was pulling her along. "Where are you from?"

He tried to adjust the door as he walked through but couldn't quite manage it, and winced at her question, continuing off down the hall to where he could remember Theo's room was. "Ah, no. No, I'm not." He shot a look over his shoulder at her, his expression sad, and then — once he found Theo's door — pushed inside gently and returned a moment later with sweatpants on and a t-shirt pulled over his head.

"I'm from — my world. You know." He shrugged. "But I'm only here — like... sometimes. Not always. Once a month. It'll probably be the same for you. Haven't quite figured out how to get home yet, but... I'm working on it."

That look he gave her, the sadness in it, it made her heart ache. Did he know, then? This Peter, not her Peter, did he know she was the reason the Peter Parker from her world was dead? Gwen chewed on her lip as she waited for him to come back out, arms curled around her stomach and a furrow in her brow. No power-ups, no watch, different body, it was a lot of things stacked against her. At least she had Peter, right there where it hadn't taken any work to find him. That was lucky.

"I know you're from your world, I meant—" She blinked as she looked up at him, frowning in thought. "Once a month? For how long, like... hours, days, what are we talking?"

Peter ran a hand through his hair and tugged his shirt down, settling against the doorframe to his own room — Theo's room, his room, god it was hard to tell sometimes — and he shrugged lightly. "It's about a week. You'll get an email."

He flashed her a quick little grin. "I know, I know — weird. But — I'm working for some people who have a good idea of what's going on. Theo does, I mean, and now I do — uh, Theo —" He gestured down at himself, and then spun around and gave Gwen another soft grin. "Is... this guy. And you're in — someone's body, I guess, that he knows. She'll be in there somewhere. Theo just hands over the controls whenever I show up, but some people might put up a fight."

"I'll get an email," Gwen repeated slowly, because of course, this was a totally normal thing that could all be explained by an email. She was grateful Peter was there, unsure how it might have gone if he hadn't been. How long would it have taken her to find someone who knew what was happening and would explain it to her? The last time she'd been in someone else's body it had gone horribly wrong, so she could only hope there weren't any surprises hiding in this one.

"Theo, okay." A smile quirked at the corner of her mouth when he spun around like that, and she brought her hand up to run through her hair. She'll be in there somewhere. What a strange thing to hear as fact. Gwen looked down at herself, the shirt she was wearing, polish on her toenails, like any of it would help. "Gigi," she said after a moment, looking up at him almost startled. Because she'd felt it, what he'd meant, a soft voice nudging at the back of her head with a name and an answer. "This... is weird."

Pete let out a soft sigh of understanding and agreement, and couldn't help himself — he reached out and pulled Gwen into another hug, buried his face in her hair and sighed. He hadn't been entirely alone since he'd appeared here — Felicia had been here, MJ had appeared for a second, and his heart ached a little to think about where she'd gone — but Gwen was here. And she got it, she understood him, and he understood her, and it felt great, suddenly, that he wouldn't be as alone as he'd felt before.

When he pulled away it was with a sheepish smile and a shrug. "It's super weird. But I'll be here to help. You wanna get breakfast?"