"Tonight, in an exclusive coverage from CNN in what is possibly the news event of the year, the infamous New York vigilante known as Spider-man died tonight according to official government reports.
“Spider-man was last seen fighting Doctor Otto Octavius, better known to the world as "Doc Ock", a super-powered individual who had the ability to use 6 metal tentacle-like limbs. Octavius had been incarcerated in the above top secret prison located in the Ultimates base of operations, the Triskilion six months ago. Details of his escape are at this point unknown. However, shortly after escaping, Octavius attacked the Annual Maria Stark Science Convention for unknown reasons. While holding roughly 30 hostages, Spider-man apparently fought off Ock long enough for the hostages to escape. Immediately after, the building collapsed, apparently crushing the masked vigalantee Government officials have only confirmed that Spider-man did indeed perish in the building in the last few moments. We'll have more on the actual story and any other possible casualties as reports come in. Still, the question remains, will the government will the identity of Spider-man? Our news correspondents will make sure you're the first to know if they do. Now back to our news room with more discussions on this controversial figure."
Jessica was half listening to the opinions that were being thrown out. Some newscasters were discussing Peter and what he’d done as Spider-man. Some thought his death was a great loss to the city. Others were quoting Jonah Jameson, saying he was a menace, the city was lucky to be rid of him.
"Yeah, like they have a clue what Peter did for them... that's gratitude." she thought bitterly. After hearing one woman claim that he was one less masked crazy NYPD would have to deal with.
She turned off the TV, laid down on her bed while still fully clothed, placing her hands behind her head, contemplating events while blankly staring at the ceiling.
She felt like she'd never smile again, never have another happy thought or a warm feeling. She felt like she was the one that should be dead, she wished it was her Ock had killed instead. The real person that she got all her memories from was dead, and now Jessica, a copy, was left alive. It didn't feel right to her. She knew deep down it wasn't her fault but she couldn't help feeling this dark sense of guilt.
She'd been waiting in this small sleeping quarters for over two hours now, just left on her own to muse on the events of the last few hours. It was starting to seem that her life was going to be one big reflection of how things always went wrong from the minute she was born. Eventually she decided to sort things out with Fury. Anything to take her mind off things for the minute.
After a brief walk and a short wait she got her wish.
The mahogany doors which protected the entrance to the general's office creaked open as Fury walked out into the corridor. He glanced over at Jessica and beckoned her to follow him into his office.
She'd never been in the room before, either as Peter or as Jessica. It reminded her of the oval office a lot. She always thought Fury had a bit of a god complex.
Fury gestured to the seat opposite his which Jessica took. As she pushed a strand of her long brown hair out of her eyes she looked at Fury, his face the essence of melancholy.
"Ok kid, we got Peter’s body, but no one outside S.H.I.E.L.D knows that he was Peter. We're gonna keep it that way."
Jessica was glad to hear this. The last thing her aunt or anyone else Peter was close to right now was a media frenzy trying to talk to the family of Spider-man. May was already in a bad state, her sickly aunt had a heart attack after hearing her nephew was dead. At first, Jessica demanded to see her aunt but regardless of the threats. Fury prevented her and reassured her that her aunt would pull through.
In hindsight, she was glad he had. Jessica hated to think what seeing her dead nephew’s girl-clone so soon after having a heart attack would do to the elderly woman.
"We don't know where Ock is right now, but I guarantee you that if that mother even takes a breath in public you'll be the first to know." He proclaimed.
But the initial desire for revenge had died down in Jessica’s heart, for the moment at least. She'd been worn out by the stress of both worry for her loved ones and the loss of her past life.
"I appreciate all this Fury, but where am I gonna stay? I can't just twirl into Aunt May’s house and expect her to take in her nephew’s girl-clone with arms open, especially with the state she's in right now..."
Jessica wondered if she looked as bad as she felt. At first, all she felt was anger mixed with tears but now, all she wanted was to sleep and hope the last few hours was all a terrible dream.
"Right now Drew, your aunt needs you, or at least someone she can talk to. When she's released from hospital we're going over to her house for a chat."
Jessica wanted to keep talking about the situation, but a large yawn stopped her from countering Fury.
"Kid, we can talk tomorrow. Get some rest. God knows, I'm sure you could do with it."
Jessica nodded in agreement before walking towards the door. She stopped to look back at Fury before pausing, looking for some way to show her gratitude.
"Hey Fury, I...I just wanted to say... thanks."
Fury shook his head.
"I owed Parker and I guess I owed you too. Let's just call it even."
Jessica tried to muster a smile to reply for him but she couldn't manage it.
"Don’t worry Drew, we'll take him down." Fury said as he stood up.
She simply nodded and left.
As a privately marked car, which Jessica was anxiously sitting in, sped through another Queens resident estate, she tried to comprehend what had happened the night before.
S.H.I.E.L.D had successfully kept Peter’s identity as Spider-man from the press. Peter’s family had been spared of this hassle at least. The fact that he was working as a photographer for The Bugle at the science expo was a major help for covering their tracks. Some other civilians had already died before Peter could act, so they used this as a cover, saying Peter had been one of the unlucky few who had died before the heroic Spider-man could intervene.
Five days after his death, Peter’s funeral was held. His Aunt May had recovered in time after suffering a minor heart attack. Jessica hadn't revealed herself to her aunt or Mary Jane yet. She managed to convince Fury to wait until after the funeral. She was worried the strain would be too much too soon.
The funeral itself was a surreal event for Jessica. It was like attending a funeral for her past life. She'd kept to the back of the crowd, trying to stay out of sight of anyone who would recognise her or make any link to Peter. She noticed people she recognised from school and some of the staff from The Bugle. Then there was a crowd of people she didn't recognise at all, who she presumed was here to pay tribute to the people that died in Ock’s attack.
She tried to get a better view as the coffin was laid into the shallow grave. She could see her aunt and MJ consoling each other beside the grave. It was so painful for her to watch this, the two people that meant the most to her, in agony over the death of the person her brain was telling her she was she couldn’t even console them.
"Why couldn't it have been me instead..." she whispered under her breath.
The following day, Fury held a special remembrance for Peter for people who knew him as Spider-man. Several famous super-heroes showed up for the ceremony, the X-men, most notably his ex-girlfriend Kitty Pryde, the Fantastic Four, with whom he had also been good friends. Fury’s team who Peter had fought with before, the Ultimates, were also present.
She was standing in another room, watching in. She didn't want to meet these people that knew Peter for the hero he was, then to see his "replacement". That was the last thing she wanted to be. It was too soon, she felt, but Fury thought differently. After arguing about it the previous night, she eventually gave in and agreed to say a few words.
During the ceremony, Fury gave a speech about Peter that went along the lines of how despite the public will never know his identity he should be remembered as the hero he was. After he finished, he then left the stage to bring Jessica out.
"Ok Jess, Showtime." he said as he entered the room.
"Fury... I'm not sure I should be here. I doubt anyone wants to remember I exist right around now..." Jessica remarked nervously, obviously uneasy at meeting all these people she knew that were here for what was a funeral for the person she remembered being for 16 years. "...And what about my Aunt and Mary?
She was feeling less confident by the minute.
"Drew, you can't hide from them forever. Right now, your aunt and that red headed kid need someone to look after them. I know this is weird for you too, but you need to do this."
"But, I'm not him... I'm just...I..."
"Let me guess, just a copy right?"
She nodded, tears starting to swell up in her eyes.
Fury scratched his head, feeling uncomfortable.
"Alright kid, this is your cross to carry, but I think you need to hear this. You say you're a copy of Parker, but that just means you have the heart and the brains of a true hero. I meant what I said out there today. How many kids his age would have been the hero he was after everything that happened to him? The Peter Parker I knew stood strong no matter what happened to him, no matter how tough things got, he kept going. Hell, in the one year I knew him his uncle died, two of his friends died, he'd been kidnapped by super powered psychos who knew his identity and knew how to hold a grudge, he'd been cloned... the list goes on. I think I'm the only other person in the world that could have handled that much shit on my plate. Now even if you're only half the person Parker was, I know you can pull through this. If not for yourself, then for your aunt and that Watson kid. Not to mention to honour Parkers wishes."
Jessica just looked up at Fury. For the second time in a week he'd totally shocked her with the kindness he‘d shown. He began to continue.
"Maybe I should have told the kid this more, but when I realised he'd pull through no matter what the cost, it was then I truly admired him. I didn't get the chance to tell him so I'm telling you now. Are you gonna let him down or are you gonna be the hero you can be and that he was?"
As Fury looked back at her, waiting for her response she wiped the wet tears from her face and looked up at Fury with renewed conviction.
"Ok, I'm ready." She said with determination.
"Atta girl." He replied, placing his hand on her shoulder, leading her out towards the ceremony.
A wave of panic surged through Jessica as all eyes in the room followed her. Fury led her up to the podium that he'd been talking to the crowd during his remembrance speech. She'd kept her head down until Fury stopped walking. She looked up to see a tear sodden Mary Jane look back up at her in pure shock.
"Now some of you will recognise Jessica, some of you won't." Fury paused for a moment.
"Jessica was a clone of Peter created by Otto Octavius himself."
A murmur of discontent could be heard across the room.
"I'd just like to let you know Peter’s last request. It was that I ask Jessica to look after his family who are present today. I ask of you all to give Jessica a chance honour Peters wishes."
Fury then nodded at Jessica. As she stood up to speak she felt like her stomach was eating itself.
"Um, hi. I just want to let everyone know that I don't want anyone to think that I want to replace Peter or anything like that... Just cos I'm his clone doesn't mean I'm him, I think." Jessica was sweating profusely now. "No, that's not what I meant... I'm for sorry what happened to Peter. More than anyone. If I could die instead of him, I would in a heartbeat, but I can't. I can't change what happened, but I can respect his wishes and I hope you'll all let me try my best. Um, thanks..."
Jessica stood down, looking out at the downtrodden faces. As she left the room with Fury she could hear whispers behind her.
"Too soon..." she said when they got back to the room she'd been staying in for the last few days."
"They just need time to adjust kid. This is what Parker wishes so I don't give a damn what anyone else thinks, this is my call." replied Fury.
"Tomorrow we're going to visit your aunt. I know you might think it's too soon but we have to try talking to her at least." he continued.
"Ok, I just hope she doesn't freak. She's been through too much in the last year." Jessica replied sadly.
Fury nodded in agreement.
"Alright kid I'll deal with the others, try and get some sleep."
As the car pulled into the small driveway Jessica opened her door to the glaring sunlight.
"It's time kiddo." Fury said.
She nodded, ready to face her aunt.