Lex Luthor walked into his Smallville office, limping slightly. He'd stopped using the crutches much sooner than the doctors had advised, but he found that he got around much faster and easier without them.
He was surprised to find someone waiting for him in his office.
"Mr. Macendale," Lex said. "Thanks for dropping by… though I didn't expect you to come all the way out to Smallville."
Jason placed a small briefcase on Lex's desk. "I thought I should deliver this personally, Mr. Luthor. Frankly, I didn't think I could trust anyone else."
"Understandable," Lex said with a nod. "What've you got for me?"
Jason flipped open the briefcase, and removed a file folder which he handed to Lex. "These are all the details of your father's partnership with Norman Osborn."
Lex opened the file and skimmed it's contents. "How about giving me the Reader's Digest version?"
Jason folded his arms and leaned back against the desk. "About 20 years ago, your father and Mr. Osborn were tapped by a government agency to try and recreate the Super Soldier Serum that was developed by Dr. Erskine during WWII… the one that created Captain America. They tried for years, but were never able to succeed. Finally, in frustration, they abandoned the project and parted ways, going on to form their own separate companies."
"But Norman Osborn never really abandoned the project, did he?" Lex asked. "He kept trying to recreate the formula… and what he came up with was what turned him into the Green Goblin… and then Harry, too?"
Jason nodded. "That would seem to be the case."
Lex tossed the file onto his desk. "My father must have realized that Norman finally hit on something. That's why he wanted to buy the company so badly, so he could get his hands on the formula."
"That would also seem to be the case."
Lex sat down at his desk and folded his hands. "Mr. Macendale… I'm aware that my father made several very generous offers to buy OSCORP. And yet the company is now in the ownership of some airhead from Gotham City. Why didn't you accept LuthorCorp's offers?"
Jason took another document out of the briefcase and handed it to Lex. "Apparently Norman Osborn also figured that your dad would try to come after the formula. He had a legal contract drawn up years ago, before the formula was even finished, preventing the board of directors from ever selling the company to Lionel Luthor."
"You're kidding," Lex said with a laugh.
"Not at all. Apparently Mr. Osborn didn't care much for your father."
"I can't imagine," Lex said, dryly.
"He certainly didn't want that formula getting into Lionel Luthor's hands…" Jason said, reaching into the inside pocket of his suit jacket. He pulled out a vial containing a green liquid. "But… he didn't say anything about Lex Luthor…"
Lex leaned back in his chair, staring intently at the vial.
"There was enough residue left on the floor of the OSCORP sub-basement lab that a team of our technicians were able to recreate it," Jason continued. "This is the only specimen of the formula left in existence."
Lex held out his hand, and Jason gave him the vial. Lex held it up to the light coming in from the window behind them.
"How much do you want for it?" Lex asked.
"Take the price you're paying me for the information about your father, and add a zero to the end," Jason said.
"Done." Lex carefully placed the vial into the top drawer of his desk, and took out his checkbook. "Mr. Macendale, I think this is going to be the beginning of a very lucrative partnership."
Back in New York, General Nick Fury stormed into the main control room of SHIELD headquarters, followed closely by Agent Jasper Sitwell.
"What is it, Quartermain?" Nick demanded, lighting his cigar.
"Sir, we've finished analyzing the videotape of the Green Goblin incident," replied Agent Clay Quartermain. Clay sat at a computer console with several monitors, the one in the center showing an aerial view of a rooftop.
"Do we have a positive ID yet?"
Sitwell was confused. "Positive ID? On who… Don't tell me Spider-Man!"
"Don't be a fool, Sitwell," Fury said, puffing on his cigar as he slipped his lighter back into his pocket. "We knew Spider-Man's identity within 24 hours of his first appearance. We kept tabs on him around the clock for weeks. He's harmless."
Sitwell's mouth hung open for a moment or two. "Then… who?"
Quartermain ran the tape forward. "This tape was confiscated from a local news station that happened to have a chopper in the air during the recent Spider-Man/Green Goblin fight. Most of it's garbage, but… look at this."
He zoomed in on the lower right hand corner of the screen. Clint "Hawkeye" Barton was now clearly visible in the frame, setting up his bow and arrow for a shot at the Green Goblin on the next rooftop.
Clay stopped the tape, then began running it forward frame by frame. For a single frame, a blur of something streaking across the rooftop towards Hawkeye was visible on the screen. In the next frame, a young man was standing in front of Hawkeye, clutching the arrow to his chest. As Clay continued to run the tape forward, the arrow exploded in the young man's grasp.
"My God…" Sitwell whispered. "How fast was he moving!"
"It's impossible to clock him based on the tape," Clay said.
"For what it's worth?" Nick said. "I think the kid could give Quicksilver a run for his money. Now, come on, Clay. You didn't call me in here just to watch this tape, I've seen it already."
Clay fiddled with the controls a little more, and the screen zoomed in even tighter, locking in on the young man's face.
Another monitor lit up, displaying a headline from a newspaper called The Smallville Ledger. The headline read, "Local Teen Discovers Caves." It was accompanied by a picture of the same young man.
"His name is Clark Kent," Clay said. "He lives in Smallville, Kansas."
"Where the hell…?"
"Sir… the hostage that the Green Goblin had that day, during the fight? He was later identified as Lex Luthor. He's also currently residing in Smallville."
"And the plot thickens," Fury said, slightly amused. He took a long, slow drag of his cigar. "Gentlemen… let's get a team together. We're going to Smallville."