"Brilliant, but lazy." I remembered Kurt Conner's words when I saw the boy's face emerge from under the mask. "Peter Parker, a student of mine. He's been rather fascinated with your work lately, and he's writing a paper on you. I hope he actually does it this time." There had been a disappointed sigh at the other end of the phone line.
"Why wouldn't he? A problem student?"
"No, not at all. I shouldn't say this, but he's one of the best student's I've ever had. Very quick to the mark, I've never had to explain anything, anything more than once. He's only a freshman, but he understands things that I didn't even know about until my graduate studies. He could keep up with you, Otto. I don't hesitate to say that he's honestly brilliant."
"Then what's the problem?"
"He's brilliant, but lazy. He's always late to class, or absent entirely. He must stay out all night partying or something, because when he is here, he's always exhausted, too worn out to take much initiative. He doesn't do his homework." There came the sound of an open hand striking a table, and Kurt's voice rose. "If he would just apply himself, he could land any internship he wanted. He could graduate early. If he would just concentrate on his studies, I would be willing to bet my arm that he'd have a noble prize within ten years. But he's wasting what he has! He has the most perfect scientific mind I've seen in all my years of teaching, and he won't even try to reach his full potential! I can't stand it, Otto, watching such a promising young man ruin his chances of an extraordinary life. If he were my son... Oh, I wish he were my son. He could make any father proud. But he's lazy." The last word was a sigh of defeat. I remembered my own days as a teacher, the despair that you could feel on a student's behalf.
"If he's as brilliant as you say, Kurt, and I believe you, then he'll figure it out. Just give him time. Or give him a good kick." We laughed. "Listen, I've got to go. Osborn's pushed up my deadlines again, and he wants me to meet with a friend of his tomorrow while I'm setting up in the loft. He's got his sights set on a noble prize of our own."
"Good luck, Otto. I'll see you at the demonstration, then. Two weeks?"
"Or sooner. Have a good afternoon."
And now I understood. Brilliant, yes, but burdened, rather than lazy. He was shouldering, not only his own life, but the lives of the entire city. When he should have been doing his homework, he was saving little old ladies from madmen. While he should have been sleeping, he was saving a train full of people. And when he tried to quit, to take up only his own responsibilities, men like me piled the world back on his shoulders.
And he didn't quit. After me, there would be other dangers to his city. He would still spend his nights trying to protect every person in danger when he should have been doing his homework. He would go to class when he could, but people's lives would always outweigh his own studies. Every siren would draw him from his desks and books and back into danger and risk. He was so young. So brilliant. And he was prepared and willing to sacrifice all that that meant for strangers. My best wishes, Peter Parker, Spiderman. The best future I can hope for you is one in which you can be brilliant, but lazy.