Title: Unsorted
Author: Matt
LJ: Mattador
Recipient: Clannadlvr
Requested Character: Gwen Stacy (Ultimate Spider-Man)

Gwen Stacy does not keep a diary. She refuses to sort her thoughts: they don’t come sorted, they’re not meant to be sorted. But writing them down is something different. Bit by bit, fragment by fragment, they show up in the margins of her notebooks, engraved into her bedpost, traced in black Sharpie on the inside of her arm, all these daydreams and scribbles, and they are not just a heap of broken images. They are puzzle pieces, and the picture they make can be seen even without sorting them. Or something, anyway. Too much reflection makes Gwen feel like a spaz, but it never stops her.

If I was a mutant… she wrote, and then jotted down some ideas about what powers she would want, but all of those are crossed out, except for the last one. I want to show people the truth about what goes on in their own heads.

There was a lot more about that she never wrote down, but she can still see the puzzles pieces that fit around it.

because a lot of it is ugly
because they’re ugly, and they need to fix it
because someone like Peter needs to see how wonderful he is now and then
because it would help me to understand what they do to me

Gwendolyn Stacy thinks about her name now and then. Her last name means ‘resurrection,’ and even if there is a lot that she’d like to bring back to life and can’t, still maybe she can help to make things new. To show people what they’re doing to themselves and the world and everyone around them. But sometimes she feels she’s surrounded by so many idiots, and then she gets choked up, and she just can’t.

Gwen cries a lot, but hopefully not when anyone is looking. She tries not to care what people think and what they see but if she is trying to make them see things herself…

She gets confused, she gets frustrated, because she is doing her best and still things get all screwed up. Bad things happen to good people, and everyone just lets it happen when people take advantage of one another. Not me, she promises herself. That’s her power. To stand up for what matters, for people being decent to one another, to try to make things right.

She writes down all the song lyrics that make her soar because there are truths and passions that someone out there, at least, understands, and there are other people who get angry about all the crap in the world, and there are singers who can make her cry just by talking about it. She has a little book of truths just full of all these quotes and lyrics, all without context, and it’s her goal to say things like this to people, to make them think and find meaning.

There are people who understand. Peter does, she knows that, she sees how he keeps going even with Flash and Kong dogging him- sticks and stones are nothing next to them, and just the sight of them puts her in a bone-breaking mood, and then there’s her father. He wanted justice.

Can someone take justice into their own hands?

Can anyone get justice if they don’t?

She thinks of the things that her father put up with, and that Peter puts up with, and wonders- because her father was a hero, he was trying, but sometimes there was so much he wouldn’t do, he’d hold back and she hated that, and then there was Peter who could just keep going (though he had MJ and May and, yes, Gwen to help him) and she’d never resented him for staying quiet, but of course what could he do? That was why she had to be there for him. Aunt May and MJ, they could comfort him, but maybe she could protect him.

But then there are the idiots who dressed up to play hero, who go wild just because they can, and yeah maybe they did some good where her father wouldn’t or couldn’t but they killed him, dammit the media darlings and all the glamour of fighting in costumes, this big violent postmodern ballet where it was always the bystanders that got hurt. Maybe the costumes came with an invulnerability clause, but nobody else got one. Especially not the people in uniforms.

But there were times where she wanted to armor up and go out there with knives or claws or kung-fu magic or something and just beat the truth into the world so they couldn’t ignore it. She wanted to break bones and save lives. To do all the things everyone else held back from doing that could help people. So what did that make her? What did that make Spider-Man? Because whoever wore the suit, it was the idea that killed. The idea that you had the right to put everything at risk.

A list of things that I believe in: she put down on one of these scraps of paper, the day after her father died, but right then she couldn’t think of anything, and so it was only later that he made the list, not all in one place but here and there, all around her- on the inside of her wrist with a Bic pen, and traced with her finger in the dust and grit on the sidewalk in front of Peter’s house, and with chalk in a corner of the blackboard during detention. One or two things made it onto napkins or the backside of a quiz, or something like that.

pain, the ink on her wrist said, only a day later, but the ink washed away and after a while the pen ran out and she stopped tracing it back.

Trying your hardest, she wrote in detention the first day that the idea of going back to live with Peter and Aunt May felt like home, and like family.

Standing your ground, almost tore through a napkin after she sent Flash almost-running away from the table in the cafeteria where she was sitting with MJ and Peter. Passion got sketched onto it later in bigger, fancier letters, as an afterthought, and it made her laugh just a very little.

Truth. Justice. she scratched with a stick in the dirt, and carved with a razor into a table at the coffee shop, and markered on the inside cover of one of her notebooks, right above another thing she’d scribbled out in case anyone saw it. Those ones it almost felt stupid to put down because they ought to go without saying, but then she looked around and saw how many people didn’t believe in anything of the kind.

Anger got put in the notebook too, and then scratched out, and then written back in the next time she was forced to talk to Kong in Social Studies. Anger helped to define things, or to hold on to them.

Family she carved into her headboard after Aunt May sent her to her room for losing her temper, and she cried and smiled and traced the letters with her fingers.

She forgets about the list after that until one night when she’s hanging out with MJ and Peter and wonders, for a moment, if she could ever make Peter smile quite like that and what would happen if Mary-Jane wasn’t the girl next door and the most solid, alive, certain thing in the world, or if Peter wasn’t really more or less her brother, now, leaving her to wonder now and then who was whose guardian angel.

While Peter walks MJ home she sits down on the sidewalk and traces out his name with her finger, carefully avoiding the ants’ nests and just using the loose sand and grime from the street, knowing that someone’s careless step or even the breeze will get rid of the name written there, even faster than the pen-marks had faded from her wrist.

She doesn’t need to sort her thoughts, or keep them all in order. She knows which ones are important.