“Spider-man, Spider-man, does whatever a spider can.”
The sound of Elizabeth Spencer’s off-key, yet still sweet voice filters through the baby monitor and he laughs to himself, thinking that Cameron’s got a great mom if she knows the words to the Spiderman theme song.
“Spins a web, any size, catches thieves, just like flies.”
It’s a strange journey that he’s made, from where they began to where they are in this moment. Twisting turns, and detours that weren’t necessarily mistakes–he’ll never pretend that what he’d shared with Robin was anything less than what it’d been–but it still surprises him that he’s found himself here.
“Look out! Here comes the Spider-man!”
What had once been a superficial flirtation had turned into the real thing and dinners between friends turned into dinners between a man and a woman. And kisses on the cheek and jokes about his prowess had turned into something a bit more meaningful. This is now a nightly ritual–she puts her son to sleep before coming out to the living room and snuggling with him on the couch as he tells her about his day and he asks her if she’s sold any paintings in the last twelve hours since he’s asked last.
“Is he strong? Listen, Bud! He’s got radioactive blood.”
It’s been six months since these nights became routine and eight since Elizabeth became more than the beautiful nurse he worked with. He’d thought for a while that it would taper off, that eventually, he would want out, that he wouldn’t want something lasting with someone like Elizabeth. Casual to Elizabeth was a type of dress, not a relationship. She might have said she’s sworn off serious but he’s never believed that.
“Can he swing from a thread? Take a look overhead.”
He fishes into the back pocket of his pants and withdraws the ring box he’s been carrying out for two weeks, trying to find the right moment. Even in the best of times with Robin, though there had been few of them, it had never occurred to him to take that last step. She’d never brought it up and it wasn’t part of his future at that time. But with Elizabeth, it feels right. It feels like he’s taking a step towards the rest of his life.
“Hey there, there goes the Spider-man!”
With Elizabeth, he can see a future, he can see the way it should be. With a house and a garage and a place for Elizabeth to paint. A backyard to build a tree house for Cameron. And sometimes, he lets himself think about more than just Elizabeth and Cameron. About having a baby. Of seeing Elizabeth with his child, with their child. A little brother for Cameron to torment, or a sister to protect. He can see the years down the line, with dinners and Elizabeth laughing at him across the table as she’s burned yet another meal she’s sworn she could pull off.
“In the chill of night, at the scene of the crime,”
His father loves her and he wishes his mother could have met her, could have seen that it was going to be okay after all. That despite a rocky start in the world of serious relationships and commitments, he’s found the right woman and the person to spend forever with. He thinks his mother would have approved. And he knows his father will like the idea of him settling down and will embrace the role of honorary grandfather to Cameron. And that’s important to him. That Cameron not be just her son, but part of their family. His family.
“Like a streak of light, he arrives just in time,”
He’s spent a decade alone, and a year with another woman, whom he’d loved a great deal. He would never tell Elizabeth that he’d never loved anyone like her, because that would be unfair to Robin. He’d loved her as much as he’d been able to and she’d loved him. There was no rhyme or reason why they’d fallen apart, but they’d had. But he’ll never regret taking that step with her and loving her. Loving Robin opened him up to the concept of a future and a full life and he’ll always treasure their friendship, he’s grateful it survived.
“Spider-man, Spider-man friendly neighborhood Spider-man,”
Elizabeth wasn’t his polar opposite like Robin had been; there had been no real walls to tear down, no extreme hurdles to get past. By the time he’d worked up the courage to ask her out on an actual date, she’d already received the go-ahead from Robin and was more than prepared to take their friendship to that level. She’d laughed when he’d asked her, wondering what had taken him so long. She’d seen what they could be together and now he can only hope that her vision of their life had meshed enough with his that she would say yes to this.
“Wealth and fame, he’s ignored, action is his reward,”
He’s not even sure how he’ll ask. If he’ll say pretty words or just blurt it out. He’s not sure which way would be better, or how she’d want it done. He very much wants this to be perfect for her. She’s been hurt so much before, by those that came before him and he’s worked very hard to make up for that, bringing her flowers when she doesn’t expect them, leaving presents around in the middle of the day for her to find and taking her out to fancy dinners for no reason at all. He’s gone overboard to make her feel special but now he wonders if this is the right moment. If asking her over their nightly conversation is really the best way or if he should plan something more elaborate.
“To him, life is a great big bang-up,”
He listens to the song wind down and shoves the ring back in his pocket. It’s better, he tells himself, to wait until the moment is absolutely perfect because if you’re lucky, you only get to do it once. She’s been proposed to many times before, he knows that but he wants this one to count, to be the last. And he wants to start their life together as perfectly as he can.
“Wherever there’s a hang-up, you’ll find the Spider-man!”
A few moments later, Elizabeth emerges from Cameron’s room and smiles at him, shoving her hair out of her face. Her eyes are on his and her smile is bright and he realizes that the look in her eyes, the affection and the warmth are all for him.
And that he doesn’t need elaborate plans, fancy food and elegant surroundings for this moment to be perfect. He stands and retrieves the box from his pocket. The moment is perfect because she’s there and he’s there. And that’s all they really needed.
“Elizabeth,” Patrick Drake begins, “there’s something I have to ask you…”