Central to the Web
Spider-Man and all associated characters are property of Marvel. Central Park and all associated characters are property of Fox.
New York is where we set our scene. The Big Apple. City of Hopes and Dreams. The Big Apple. Superhero Central. And speaking of, it is also—"
"What was that?"
"What was that transition? 'And speaking of?' Kind of weak."
Ah, a critic.
"I'm just saying if you're going to do this you should put your best foot forward."
This, coming from the guy that was fired from his job as a narrator not six episodes in?
"Hey! It was only five episodes! I was reinstated at the end of the sixth!"
Whatever. Don't even know why I let you in here…
"Because I'm an integral part of the narrative."
Actually, you aren't.
"I think I—"
No, you aren't. Not in this medium, at least.
"Ok, just cut me off, that's not rude."
Agh, we're getting off track…where were we?
"You were getting us off to a terrible start."
Do you want to be kicked out of the story?
Then shut it. Now…where were we?...Ah, I got it!
Superhero Central. And speaking of—
AND SPEAKING OF…it is also the home to a wonderful shard of the natural world in an increasingly technological age.
"…Okay, that wasn't half bad."
"I still don't know why you have to do this."
"Paige," Owen Tillerman shook his head at his wife for what must have been the hundredth time the day, "we've been over this. This photo-op will be good publicity for the park!"
"Right, of course," Paige clapped her hands together, "and that is great." She assured him, but Owen—who'd been married to her for many blissful years—just waited. "…But does it have to be done by the Daily Bugle?"
"One of New York's premier newspapers?" Owen asked with a cocked brow.
"Oh sure!" Paige threw her hands up in the air, "Rub it in!"
"What's Mom mad at Dad for this time?"
"This time?" Owen turned to his son, Cole. "Why say it like that? Is this a regular occurrence." He blinked. "It's not is it?"
"No Dad," Molly, his daughter, quickly assured him. She turned to her brother, "It's because the Daily Bugle wouldn't hire Mom years ago."
"Actually," Owen interjected, "it's because your mother didn't even appear for her interview."
"I showed up!" Paige shouted.
"But you didn't stay," Molly replied.
"Why not, Mom?" Cole asked.
Paige shivered, "The editor-in-chief's a monster."
"Paige," Owen admonished, "you don't know that."
"He made three of his interns burst into tears! At the same time!"
"Maybe they all had allergies."
"The man's got a Hitler 'stache!"
"Well," Owen grunted, looking down, "I can see how that might be a problem for you."
"Wait, the Daily Bugle…" Cole trailed off with a hum. Then, he gasped, "Those are the terrible people that spread lies about Spider-Man."
"Hey that's not fair," Molly spoke up, "I'm sure those crying interns are decent."
"Interns always are, Sweetie," Paige replied, "Never forget that."
"Stop projecting," Owen said to his wife. "And it's not like Spider-Man hasn't earned his infamy." He froze suddenly, a chill running down his spine. He turned around, seeing his wife press a hand to her forehead, shaking her head back-and-forth, and their children staring at him in slack-jawed horror.
Paige sighed, "And three…two…one…"
"WHAT?!" Cole shrieked.
"Dad," Molly gasped, "how could you say that?!"
"It's official, I have no father!"
"We have no father!"
"Wh-What's going on?" Owen stammered stepping back and frantically wiping his shorts, "What's happening?"
"Owen," Paige stared at him as though he was trying to push a square block in a round hole, "c'mon."
"Spider-Man's a Hero!"
"A national treasure!"
"Wo-Okay," Owen looked frantically between his children and wife, "where's all this coming from?"
"Owen," Paige sighed.
"Do you know how many times he's saved this city?"
"Saved this park?"
"I know how many times he's destroyed this park!" Owen shouted back. He blinked, wringing his hands together, "Oh, sorry, shouldn't have yelled"
"No, it's good!" Paige stepped in, rubbing his shoulders, "Let it out. Discourse is…healthy, for families."
"Not when that discourse is lies!" Cole shouted.
"Now Cole," Paige said, fixing him with a glare, "while I will agree that the Daily Bugle is a rag that's better served as kindling in the deepest level of Hell."
"Isn't that supposed to be a frozen wasteland?"
"Your father," Paige spoke above their daughter, "does have a point."
"Exactly!" Owen shouted, clenching his fists and stepping away from Paige, "I mean, who does Spider-Man think he is, huh?! Going around and spraying hi—woah," he stopped himself, face heating up, "er…leaving his sticky whi—no, still weird."
"…I was talking more about the times he's fought supervillains in the park," Paige deadpanned.
"Hm?" Owen blinked, "Oh…yeah! That too!"
"Nice to see where your priorities lie," Molly snarked.
"All I'm hearing are more lies!" Cole cried.
"No, this time your father has a point."
"Why do you guys keep using that phrase?"
"Some of Spider-Man's fights can get pretty heated, you have to admit."
"But they're so cool, though!" Molly and Cole squealed simultaneously.
"Agh," Owen sighed, running his hands down his face, "I don't have time for this—that photographer's going to be here in half-an-hour! And you kids have to go to school!"
"It's Columbus Day, school's cancelled," Cole replied.
"Well I didn't know tha—wait, Columbus Day's still a thing? I thought they got rid of that?"
Molly shrugged, "It's still being deliberated."
A bit away from the Tillerman abode, a simple busker was plying his trade in front of the statue of Balto, playing his violin for the passersby in the hopes that they would spare him the bare minimum amount of pity and give him the least amount of money they could deign to spare.
"Okay," the busker stopped playing—thereby forgoing his meal for the night, "first of all, I play for the sake of playing." He raised his bow at the sky, shaking it with impotent rage, "And stop doing that!" But alas, the heavens would not answer a lone man's cry—
"Alright, time out!"
…Did you just call a time-out?
"Yeah. It's what people do when someone's being unfair."
Unfair? In what way?
It's called descriptive language. It adds humor to the scene
"Then why didn't you use it for the Tillermans?"
Because their humor is derived from their dialogue.
"I'm funny! It's, like, my main thing!"
Perhaps, within the confines of your original narrative, you were able to interject bits of observational humor in your narrations. But as this is not a visual medium, everything relevant is already being described.
"But that doesn't mean I can't, I don't know, include my own personal voice into those descriptions."
Alas, you're point-of-view is unnecessary.
"Well that's a little harsh."
"Don't you know that if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all?"
So, you're saying we should get on with get on with the story?
"Oh, now that's just mean!"
If it makes you feel any better, you're playing at the next scene.
"…That does make me feel a little better."
Okay. Restarting in three…two…one
Owen paced in front of the statue of Balto, muttering to himself. "Okay, what can I show them? Statuary," he nodded at Balto, "obviously. Topiary? Definitely? Wildlife—no," he quickly shook his head, "learned my lesson last time." So lost in his thoughts, he almost ran into a local street performer. Almost.
"Woah," Birdie the busker chuckled, stepping back and ending his song with a flourish of his violin. "Looking a little out of it, Owen."
"Oh," Owen nodded jerkily, "hey, Birdie."
"Eh, mostly. I mean, there's all this business with the park's funding so the league decided that the best thing to do was schedule a photo-op with a famous newspaper."
"Oh, yeah, heard about that."
"So now here I am, waiting for this photographer to come by so I can show him what makes this park great." The park managed dropped his head in his hands, "But how can I choose between all the wonderful things around us?"
"Hey, hey," Birdie said soothingly, "you'll be fine! You know this place inside-out and you have tremend—you have gre—you have instincts."
Owen sighed, lifting his head out of his hands, "Thank you, Birdie."
"You'll be fine."
"Again, thank you."
"Hello?" The two park residents turned at the voice, to see a young man with short brown hair wave at them. Closer inspection revealed a camera hanging around his neck. "Owen Tillerman?"
Owen blinked, "Hm? Ah—yes, yes!" He waved back, "That's me. Owen Tillerman, manager of Central Park."
The photographer smiled, "Peter Parker, photographer for the Daily Bugle."
"Birdie," Birdie spoke up, "busker of Central Park."
Peter hummed, eyeing Birdie up-and-down, "Do requests?"
"Not anymore, no."
"Shame." Peter turned back to Owen, lifting his camera, "So, ready to do this?"
"Of course!" Owen hurriedly replied, his voice squeaking as he rubbed his hands on his shorts, "Why wouldn't I be ready?!"
Peter smirked, "Nervous?"
"…Is it that obvious?"
"Extremely so," Birdie said.
The photographer chuckled lightly, "Don't see why; you aren't even going to be in any shots."
"Thank god," Owen said, shoulder's sagging in relief. "But it's just…I love this park, and with any luck the article your paper will run will go a long way in keeping her…her."
Peter nodded, "Yeah, heard about the budget freeze." He scoffed, fiddling with his camera, "Nothing's sacred anymore. I mean, really, it's Central Park!"
"…Exactly!" Owen exclaimed, arms going wide, lips curling into a smile. "Glad to find someone else that sees it like that!"
Peter nodded, then gestured to Balto, "Should we start here?"
Owen nodded, "Sure, don't see why no—oh, no, no, no!"
Peter straightened, jerking his head around, "What's wrong?"
"The statue!" Owen cried, gesturing feebly at it, and the children climbing atop it.
"…Take it people aren't allowed to climb?"
"They most certainly are not!"
"Yeah," Birdie sidled next to Peter, who cocked a brow, "Owen's a bit of a stickler for the rules."
The manager in question set his shoulders, hiking up his short sleeves, "Hey!" he shouted, "You kids—"
"Now hold on!" Peter cut him off, gently grabbing his shoulder. Owen looked back, bewildered, "Leave them be."
"What?!" Owen shrieked.
"Yeah," Peter coolly replied, aiming his camera at the playing children. "Makes for some great photos."
"Bu-Bu-Bu—" Owen spluttered.
"Hey, what's wrong with a little rule-breaking?"
"Do you want the answer in order of chronological event or magnitude?"
"Neither seems like a good option," Birdie replied.
"This whole thing's supposed to show off the park's good side, right?" Owen nodded hesitantly, "Well, what better side than a place where children can be free to laugh and play?"
Owen bit his lower lip—on the one hand, he'd have to compromise on a park rule. On the other…it could certainly help boost the average person's view of the park.
"So, quick question," Owen blinked, not quite surprised to see Peter already taking pictures of the playful children, "why's a dog from Alaska got a statue all the way over here?"
Owen allowed a smile to overtake his features, "That's actually a very interesting story—and something of a contentious one depending on who you talk to."
"What was that?"
Oy, this guy.
"I know you heard me."
What was what?"
"That last scene?"
Peter Parker and Owen Tillerman finding common ground?
"Just barely discussing one statue; little short, isn't it?"
Readers are smart enough to infer from that the two spent the time between last scene and the next bonding over an appreciation for Central Park's history.
"Sounds like an excuse to not have to do any research."
…It can be two things.
"Okay," Peter turned away from the topiary shaped like a sparrow, "Some final shots from…that bridge," he pointed to the bridge a short walk away, "overlooking the lake and we can call it a day."
"Thank god," Owen said, leading the way to the bridge. "Nothing against you or anything," he hurriedly added. "It's just that this is taking a bit out of my day and there's always something to do."
"No, I get it," Peter gently replied. "This…this is your home, and you want to keep it safe."
"…Exactly!" Owen exclaimed, over the moon that someone else got it. Peter just smirked back, walking over to the top of the bridge and taking photos of the lake.
"Oh no," Owen sighed, shoulders slumping upon hearing his wife's voice.
"Who's that?" Peter asked, cocking a brow at the woman jogging towards them.
"My wife," Owen replied. Peter hummed, returning to his task.
Paige come to him first, giving him a quick hug. "How's it going?"
Owen reciprocated the gesture, holding her tight. "What are you planning?" he hissed.
"Nothing," she hissed back, stepping back from the hug. "So," she exclaimed, turning to Peter, "you're the bigshot reporter?"
Peter snorted, "Nah. Just a photographer."
"Well," Paige placed her hands on her hips, and Owen exasperatedly wondered what her endgame was, "still, gotta be one of the best they have, right?"
Another snort, "In order for that to be true, Jonah would have to hire me on full-time. I'm just a very good freelancer."
Owen could the gears in his wife's head turning. Slowly. Then, her lips split into a grin. "So, what you're saying is, you're not wholly appreciated."
Peter shrugged, "Sometimes."
"Well," Paige thumped her chest, "I happen to know a great paper that would appreciate your talents."
Peter grunted, still snapping photos, after which Owen stepped in closer to his wife, whispering harshly, "What are you doing?"
"I think it's called scalping?"
"It's poaching," he corrected her, "And not what you should be doing!"
"Hey, I'm just being a good employee and keeping an eye out for talent."
"The talent that'll help this park get good publicity?!"
"He's a freelancer!" Paige defended. "They're always looking for good jobs."
Suddenly, Peter stood up, "You know," he said, frowning and looking everywhere but at Owen and Paige, "I think I've got everything I need."
"Wha—I mean," Owen cleared his throat, "Are you sure?"
Peter shrugged, walking down the bridge, "This was the last stop." He waved without turning around, "Bye."
Owen raised his hands to stop him but was unable to say anything. "…That could've ended better."
"Yeah," Paige looked down, "Sorry…"
Owen grunted, turning to her, "Yeah…you should be."
"Really, really should be."
"Don't need to rub it in."
"Really wanted to stick it to the Bugle, huh?"
"Yeah," Paige shrugged. "but only after I looked the kid up." Owen cocked a brow, "Peter Parker's, like, the premier Superhero paparazzo. I mean," she pulled out her phone, "look at this!"
Owen cocked a brow, only for them both to rise up as he adjusted hos glasses, leaning closer at the phone. He zeroed in on a particularly dramatic shot of Spider-Man and the Thing holding together Brooklynn Bridge while the Human Torch flew in the background. "Huh…these are impressive."
"Right?!" Paige exclaimed. "Imagine the amount of readers we'd get if stuff like this was on our front page!"
"The subway floors would be less absorbent."
"Yeah, I'm—I'm still annoyed at you."
"So…is that it?"
"Is…is that it? Is that the story?"
"Then why end the scene?"
You mean you haven't noticed the little-back-and-forth we have going on here?
"Oh no, yeah, the meta-commentary's fine and all, but seems like a weak ending."
Oh, there's still another scene after this.
"Then why are we doing this?"
Oh, so now you don't want a chance to act within the story.
"Not if those acts are meaningless fluff.
"Agree to disagree."
Owen sighed, leaning back on his chosen bench overlooking the Harlem Meer. Paige clicked her tongue, soothingly rubbing his arm. "Hey, it'll be alright."
"Oh, I hope so," he replied. "But it's out of my hands now, all I can do i—does the ground feel rumbly to you or am I going crazy?"
Owen looked over to his wife, who shook her head, "No—the crazy thing at least." Paige turned to her left, and Owen had just enough time to see her pale before she shot up on her feet, grabbed him by the collar and dragging him into a bush.
"Woah!" Owen shrieked, looking left as well, "What was—oh no," he whimpered, upon seeing the Rhino charging in. The Supervillain wasn't about to run them over or anything, but hiding seemed like the safest option.
Paige swore, "C'mon! I know Ravencroft's, like, the most corrupt prison around, but seriously! Hasn't even been a week!"
"Shh!" Owen hissed, clamping a hand over her mouth.
The gargantuan villain came to a stop at the lakeshore, panting as he whirled around. "Guess I lost him," the villain's voice was a low rumble, but even at their distance it shook Owen to his bones. The horned menace shifted, and Owen was able to see a box labelled 'Oscorp' strapped to his back. "Ought to make sure this thing works."
Owen frantically rubbed his hands on his shorts, "W-What do you think he's—really?" he cut himself off, fear giving way to incredulity at the sight of his wife frantically taking notes.
"What? I'm a journalist, Owen. Gotta take every opportunity I can."
Owen just rolled his eyes, turning back to the Rhino when the man exclaimed triumphantly, holding some sort of…canon in his hands. The villain pulled out a paper, read it, and nodded firmly. Then, he aimed the canon at a tree, and fired. A wave of yellow energy shot out from the weapon, turning the tree to mush upon impact.
"AIEEE!" Owen shrieked, unconsciously shooting up to his feet. "What are you doing?!"
"What are you doing?!" Paige hissed beside him, still hidden safely in the bush.
Truthfully, Owen had no idea. But this…fiend was destroying his park, and by god, he couldn't just stand still and let it happen.
The Rhino snorted, "You have something to say, little man?"
Owen gulped, but somehow managed to stand firm. "Y-Y-Yes I do!" He had the presence of mind to step out of the bush, moving away from Paige, "Do you realize what you've done?"
Rhino looked over his shoulder at the mush, "…Killed a tree?"
"Messed with a part of a delicate ecosystem!" Owen shouted, gesticulating wildly, "Trees aren't these solitary organisms that live in vacuums! They provide homes and nourishment for a plethora of other beings! Do you have any idea how many birds, squirrels, and insects you've killed?"
The Rhino huffed, lifting the weapon up, "I think I'm about to kill one more."
Owen gulped, rooted in place, "That's…an excellent rebuttal." The weapon started to glow, and Owen saw his life flash before his eyes. Unbidden, tears flowed down his face. He'd never see his kids grow up. Never grow old with Paige.
Owen felt something attach to his body, just in time to see a thick spray of white webbing cover the weapon's muzzle. He had just enough time to see the smile fade from Rhino's face as he was pulled backward, the weapon exploding in the villain's hands.
Owen fell with a grunt, blinking as Spider-Man crouched over him. "You alright?" the hero asked. Owen nodded numbly. "Cool," the hero nodded, "in that case, you should leave."
"GRRAAGH!" the Rhino bellowed.
"Now!" Spider-Man shouted, leaping forward and punching Rhino's unprotected jaw.
Owen wasn't aware of when he moved, but he suddenly found himself pulled asidea fair bit away from the fight, coming face-to-face with Paige. The tension oozed out of his body, a smile forming on his face. "Paige!" he exclaimed, "I—oof!" his head snapped to the side as she slapped him, "Wh-Wh-What was th—mmf!" she cut him off when she grabbed him in both hands, pulling him into a desperate kiss. He moaned lightly, until she pulled away, slapping him again, "Ow! Okay, I am very confused right now!"
"Owen Tilllerman!" she shouted, "That was the most reckless, courageous, stupid, and attractive thing you've ever done in your entire life."
Owen blinked, "Uh-buh-wuh." Paige screamed wordlessly, tightly gripping his head and pulling him into another kiss. This time, Owen pulled away, flinching lightly.
Paige laughed, brushing a stray hair out of her face, cheeks deep red, "Don't worry, got that out of my system."
Owen nodded breathlessly, stumbling as the latest course of events fully planted itself in his mind "That's good, that's good. Can we go home now?"
Paige nodded readily, "C'mon big boy, let's get you in bed."
"Okay, that was kind of clever."
"The alternating slaps and kisses corresponding with Paige's alternating praises and admonishments of Owen."
Thank you, Birdie, for spelling that out for the audience.
"What? It's a compliment. Though I do have some complaints."
What, now? Story's over.
"Consider them tips for next time."
I'm not doing this.
"C'mon, just one. Can't get better unless you know what went wrong."
"Okay. What's with the lack of songs?"
"Songs. Central Park is a musical comedy. You got the second part down—sort of."
"But there wasn't any music."
Again, Birdie, two entirely different mediums.
"Doesn't mean you couldn't have tried. There are these things called songfics, you know."
Ever read one of those?
You ever read a good one?
"Well—I—Uh…'Good' is very subjec—"
I rest my case.
A/N: Central Park is a good, fun show that I hope gets the love it deserves. Be sure to leave a review. Later.