Title: Sticky Inspiration
Author: Jordanna Morgan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Archive Rights: Please request the author’s consent.
Characters: Peter Parker and Ned Leeds.
Setting: Pre-canon, before Peter gained his powers.
Summary: Peter discovered his webbing before he had spider-powers… and not surprisingly, that was an accident too.
Disclaimer: They belong to Marvel. I’m just playing with them.
Notes: Written for the Fan Flashworks prompt of “Glue”, because Peter’s webbing was the first thing it made me think of.
Just a little bit farther…
Peter’s cellphone was barely an inch away from his outstretched fingertips. Stifling a growl between his teeth, the fourteen-year-old strained forward as hard as he could, and managed to hook a fingernail on the edge of the casing. He was just easing the phone toward him when it began to belt out the ridiculous yodeling that was Ned’s ringtone.
“Dude, where are you?” Ned demanded, only a trifle irritably, when Peter had managed to get another finger on the phone and set it to speaker. “I’ve been waiting for like twenty minutes. Are we still meeting up?”
“Uh… actually, I could use your help.” Peter tried to keep his voice from coming out as a stressed whimper. “Could you come to the lab real quick? I’m—kinda tied up here.”
“Okay, sure. I’ll be right there.”
As Ned hung up, Peter slumped and sighed, resigning himself to the embarrassment he knew was coming his way.
True to his word, a few minutes later, Ned pushed open the half-obstructed door of the school lab. At once he discovered exactly what Peter meant about being tied up.
To be specific, what he walked in on was the spectacle of Peter—and a good two-thirds of the room—overtaken by a gigantic blob of an incredibly sticky, foamy white substance, like one of those old cartoons where someone had put too much soap in a washing machine.
“…Do I even wanna know what’s going on here?” Ned asked bemusedly, taking in the awkward position Peter had contorted himself into while trying to reach the phone on the counter. He put out a hand in curiosity to poke the nearest protrusion of the blob; but he flinched back when his hapless friend made a violent attempt to move, waving him off.
“Ned, don’t touch it! If it sticks to you, it’s not letting go!” To demonstrate his point, Peter jerked against the ropes of adhesive goo that entangled most of his body. “I’ve been stuck like this for nearly an hour. Trying to pull it off me only made things even worse.”
“Okay, wow. Is this another one of Flash’s stupid pranks?”
“No.” Peter reddened and squirmed. “It was just… kind of an accident.”
“Wait a minute. You’re saying you did this?”
“I ran out of glue last night while I was working on my Avengers scrapbook,” Peter explained sullenly, feeling his cheeks flame all the hotter. “So I thought I’d try to make some myself after class. …Only I ended up getting a chemical reaction I really wasn’t expecting.”
“I’ll say. This is terrible… but you know, it’s also kind of awesome.” Ned grinned and whipped out his phone to take a picture.
“Dude!” Peter objected, flailing helplessly in his sticky restraints just as the snap of the camera went off.
“Hey, it’s just between you and me, I swear.” Ned’s smile became a shade more sympathetic. “So, uh, what exactly are we gonna do to get you unstuck? Maybe this calls for a grown-up…”
Peter shook his head vehemently at the thought of his predicament being witnessed by an adult—and in the process, he got a few more hairs at the back of his neck caught on the oozing tendrils of glue-foam. “Ow—no, Ned! There’s no way I want anybody else seeing me like this. Anyway, I think I’ve got an idea for a solvent that would dissolve this stuff, but…” He waggled his fingers helplessly, illustrating his inability to move his forearms more than six inches. “I kinda need an unstuck pair of hands to make it for me.”
“…Okay, seriously. You not only accidentally invented a new glue strong enough to tie somebody up with, but you know how to undo it too? You’ve definitely gotta be the smartest kid in this school.”
“Believe me, I’m totally not feeling smart right now. Let’s just get me out of this.”
“Right,” Ned agreed cheerfully, and with great care he began edging around the viscous blob to reach the lab’s cabinets full of chemicals. “So where do we start?”
It took a few attempts, but with Ned’s help, Peter finally came up with the right formula to counteract the adhesive. The solvent stained his clothes irreparably, but he didn’t care about that at the moment. He was simply relieved to get free of the sticky expanding substance he had unexpectedly created.
Ned didn’t have to stay and help Peter clean up his own mess in the lab, but he did it anyway, because that was just the kind of solid dude he was. By the time they were finished hauling bags of solvent-dampened and now mostly-unsticky white goo to the dumpster, it was nearly eight o’clock, and the sun had already set.
Peter was just reaching for his phone when another familiar ringtone went off. Upon answering the call, the immediate question of “Where are you?” was fired at him again—this time by Aunt May.
He winced and held the phone away from his ear. “I’m sorry! I just got held up working on kind of a… sticky project at school. But Ned helped me out, and we’re done now. …So, uh, can I bring him with us for dinner?” he ventured, glancing at the suddenly hopeful face of his best friend. They were supposed to go out for pizza that night, and he figured Ned deserved a reward for coming to his rescue.
May’s sigh crackled over the phone. “Oh, alright, Peter. Just stay there, and I’ll pick you up on the way.—But even if it’s just to do something at school, we’re still going to have a talk about you staying out without calling me.”
“Yeah. Sorry,” he repeated with a faint gulp. “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”
Without another word, May tersely ended the call. Peter knew she was still frustrated at him. Nevertheless, he turned to Ned, forcing a wan smile and a thumbs-up.
“So, you want pizza?”
A beaming grin split Ned’s face. “Yes! Awesome, bro! Lemme just call my mom and let her know.”
Ned shuffled into the hallway, fishing his own phone from his backpack. Peter’s smile grew warmer as he watched his best friend exit the lab… and then his gaze drifted to a torn-out sheet of notebook paper that lay on the counter. On it was scribbled the formula he had used to create his out-of-control glue-foam.
From his pocket he pulled a still slightly-tacky sample of the stuff that he had saved. It seemed to have a natural tendency to form into strings, and when he yanked on it with both hands, the tensile strength was impressive.
Whatever this was that he had just invented, surely it could be useful for something. At least if he could further tweak it a little. …Or maybe a lot.
Before he followed Ned out the door, Peter snatched up the written formula and shoved it beneath his jacket.
© 2017 Jordanna Morgan