Disclaimer: These characters were created and owned by Marvel comics.
Summary: Unmasking in front of the world took a lot of courage. But that's nothing compared to confronting J. Jonah Jameson!
Dedication: This story is dedicated to three very special people. htbthomas, who helped me with this story and came up with the title. Georgia Kennedy, who also helped with this and has always been able to lend me a hand whenever I needed it. And last, but certainly not least, Jenn1, she has assisted me from my very first fic and continues to do so. Thank you, my very good friends.
AN: This story takes place after the events chronicled in Civil War #2 and Amazing Spider-Man #533. It also takes place before events in She-Hulk #9.
What am I doing here? Peter wondered as he rode the elevator up to the offices of the Daily Bugle. Ever since he had revealed to the world that he was Spider-Man, in order to support the Superhero Registration Act, his life had changed dramatically. Why did I let MJ talk me into doing this?
Earlier that day
A freshly brewed cup of Jarvis' coffee in hand, Peter ventured outside of the Tower and looked out over the city he called home, deep in thought. After several minutes of watching, he felt two warm arms wrap around his waist.
The figure behind him whispered, "Good morning, Tiger."
"Good morning, MJ," Peter responded as he turned around to face his lovely wife. He gave her a long, deep, good-morning kiss, her eyes following his as they both turned back around to look out over the cityscape.
"Penny for your thoughts?" Mary Jane asked.
Turning to her, Peter grabbed both of Mary Jane's hands and tried to explain, "Everything is changing so fast, MJ. The Superhero Registration Act is now law… I officially revealed my identity… and now JJJ is suing me."
Mary Jane let go of Peter's hands and softly caressed his face. "I know things are changing, Tiger. But whatever problems come up, we'll face them together." She gave him another kiss for reassurance. "Don't we always?"
"Thanks, MJ. I really needed to hear that."
"You're welcome. I may have a solution for one of your problems."
"The Jameson one. Why don't you just go down to the Bugle and talk to him about it. I think you can work things out."
"I don't know, MJ."
"Just try it, Peter. There's no harm in trying."
"I suppose you're right," Peter sighed wearily. Suddenly a mischievous gleam flashed in his eyes. In one swift motion, he effortlessly lifted Mary Jane off her feet and carried her back inside.
"What's this all about? Though I'm not arguing about it..."
"I think it's about time that I stop brooding and start spending some quality time with a very sexy lady."
"Sounds like fun to me, Tiger."
Back to the Present
The ding of the elevator brought Peter out of his memory. Getting off, he made his way toward the Bugle's city room. As approached, he could hear all the hustle and bustle just mere feet from it. Sometimes I really do miss this place, Peter thought… but what greeted him the moment he entered was pure silence.
Jeez, I really don't need this. But I should have expected it. All eyes were on him as he went up to the desk of J. Jonah Jameson's longtime secretary, Glory Grant.
"Hey, Glory. Is Jonah in?" inquired Peter.
Surprise showing on her face, Glory took a moment to answer, "Let me check, Spider… I mean Peter. I'll just be a sec."
"Um… could you just pop your head in? See if he's busy? I think if he knew who it was, he might refuse to see me…"
She smiled knowingly, and nodded before she went to check.
As he waited, Peter turned around to see that everyone was getting back to work. Scanning the room, he saw several familiar faces: Ben Urich, Betty Brant, Joy Mercado and Kat Farrell. He also saw Robbie Robertson and Kate Cushing going over something that appeared really important. That brought a smile to his face. One of the things that he missed about the Bugle was working with these great people.
Peter was brought out of his reminiscence by Glory saying, "Peter, you can go in now."
"Thanks," Peter replied as he entered the office of the Daily Bugle's publisher.
Jameson was busy doing who knows what when Peter entered. Jameson bellowed impatiently, "Can't you see that I'm a busy man and these interruptions are a pain in the…" and then he took the time to look up to see who had entered his office. His eyes narrowed angrily. "What do you want, Parker? Or should I say, Spider-Man?" he sneered.
"Hey there, Jonah. How's tricks?" Peter answered, trying to lighten the mood.
"Cut the crap, Parker. I can't believe you had the gall to set foot back in here. Tell me why you're here, or get the hell out of my office!"
"I think you have a pretty good idea why I'm here. It has to do with the lawsuit that you have against me," Peter shot back, just as angrily. Nobody had the knack for making him lose his temper like ole JJJ.
Jameson replied brusquely, "It's nothing personal, Parker…"
"Nothing personal!" Peter cut Jonah off, frustrated. "How can it not be personal! I mean, holy crap! Where do you think I'm going to get five million dollars! I've never made a dime from this, except through selling my pictures!" He stalked right up to Jameson's desk and pointed an accusing finger in the publisher's face. "From the moment that I first appeared as Spider-Man, you've had it in for me. I've busted my ass time and time again to do what's right and protect the public at large. But every time I did that, I would look in the paper and see one of your damn anti-Spider-Man editorials. Because of those gems, people were afraid of me for no reason other than your say-so."
"Now wait just one damn minute—" Jonah said hotly but Peter cut him off once again.
"No! I'm sick and tired of hearing you bash me in your paper and calling me a menace," Peter said sharply as he leaned close to Jameson's face, his eyes beginning to blaze. "It's about time that you heard the unadulterated truth, straight from the spider's mouth… and you are going to listen without interruption."
Jonah's jaw fell, and his face nearly turned white. All these years, he never thought of Peter Parker as anything more than a wimpy little milksop. Never in his wildest dreams could he have imagined that the kid was such a tiger. All Jonah could do was nod meekly.
Peter calmed himself before commencing his lecture. "First of all, Jonah, you need to understand something, right off the bat. I never asked for these powers, Jonah. I wasn't born with them – I got them by accident. At first, I tried to use my powers to make money."
"Aha! I knew it!" Jonah exclaimed, interrupting Peter. Peter raised an annoyed eyebrow at him, and extended his right hand toward Jonah in the classic web-shooting gesture.
That one gesture was enough to make Jameson clamp his mouth shut.
With a slight smirk, Peter continued, "I wanted to help my aunt and uncle out financially, give something back to them for all the years they took care of me after my parents died. Then, my uncle was murdered and everything changed in an instant. I overheard some cops talking about where the murderer was holed up, and I wanted to be the one to nab that bastard. And I did… but when I got a good look at the guy's face…"
Peter paused, struggling to hold back a tidal wave of emotion surging up from deep inside him. Even after all these years, it was so profoundly difficult for him to revisit the awful circumstances of his uncle's demise and its dreadful aftermath. "The man who killed my uncle was some punk who had just robbed somebody. As he was running by me, the security guard shouted at me to stop the guy. But I was so full of myself at that time that I couldn't be bothered. I was going to look out for number one. I was going to make a name for myself and never get pushed around by anybody, ever again…"
Peter turned away from Jameson, no longer able to look his ex-boss directly in the eye, no longer able to do anything but focus on the memory. "My Uncle Ben once told me, 'With great power, comes great responsibility.' " he said bitterly. "And do you know what? I blew it when it counted the most! Uncle Ben would still be alive today if I'd done what I should've done…" He stopped to wipe away a few tears. "But from that moment on, I knew what those words meant, and what I had to do to prove that I was worthy of the gifts I was given. And I've tried to live up to that responsibility ever since."
Peter's revelations left Jonah in a stunned silence. "I'm sorry, Parker," he said in a subdued voice, almost a whisper. For once in his life, J. Jonah Jameson was speechless.
"Thanks, but I don't need your sympathy. I just need you to understand why I do the things that I do as Spider-Man. Do you think I like to go parading around in weird threads, as if every day was Halloween? Do you think that I like putting my life and the safety of my loved ones at risk day in and day out. I don't do this stuff for fun and games. And I'm not looking for cheap thrills, trying to show up the police, either. Some of the bad guys that are out there, they can't handle. Plus they can't be everywhere at once, and that's where I come in."
"Hold on a minute there," Jameson put in, regaining some of his confidence, but not his bluster earlier indignation. "Law enforcement officers are there for a reason, Vigilantes only make it harder for police to handle the situation."
"You just don't get it, do you?" Peter replied, dumbfounded. "I may have stretched the law a time or two – and that's not an admission mind you – but sometimes doing things within the letter of the law doesn't always work. Superheroes have that advantage. With that edge, we can get the job done and leave the police to handle things from there. That's one of the best things about the Superhero Registration Act. Now heroes and law enforcement can coordinate their efforts in certain situations."
"Don't feed me that crap," Jonah snapped back with his self-righteous indignation. "I'm still not buying any of it. Speaking of that Registration Act, why did you wait until now to reveal your identity?"
Peter answered matter of factly, "Because I had a lot to consider before now."
"Oh?" The sarcasm dripping from Jonah's voice could have been measured in gallons.
Peter just shook his head, With questions like that, I wonder how you became a journalist – the answer is as plain as the nose on your face. "Like my family and friends. If any of my enemies found out that I was Spider-Man, they would get to me through them." He paused, thinking of what happened to Gwen Stacy at the hands of Norman Osborn, the first Green Goblin. "I couldn't handle it… not again. I have lost some very good friends who thought Spider-Man was one of the good guys." That brought to mind Captain Jean DeWolffe and George Stacy, and he smiled sadly.
Jonah was surprised by his answer, "So what finally changed your mind?"
Peter chuckled slightly, "Believe it or not, it was Aunt May who changed my mind. I'd always worried about her finding out who I was and when she finally learned the truth, it took her a little time to get used to having a superhero for a nephew… but she did. She became so proud of what I did as Spider-Man, and she thought that the public should be too. Mary Jane's been my rock throughout it all and gave me her undying support in this. So, she had her hand in this, too. I love the both of them with all of my heart and their support in this made me decide to go public."
"One more thing," Peter added, "I would like to apologize for all the times I've webbed: your mouth shut, to your seat, oh, heck, every time I've used my webbing on you. It was childish of me to do that, so I apologize."
Peter held out his hand for Jonah to shake. He didn't know what to expect from good ol' JJ but what happened was a surprise.
Jameson shook Peter's hand. "I accept your apology, Parker… but this doesn't change anything. I'm still going through with the lawsuit," Jameson said calmly.
"What?" Peter asked, shocked.
Jameson replied, "While what you told me is admirable and touching… as publisher and owner of this here paper, it's my job to protect the integrity of it. The fact that we employed Spider-Man to take pictures of himself diminishes the Bugle's integrity. I'm sor…"
That's when Peter lost his temper.
"You cold-hearted skinflint! All you care about is your damn paper and not one but about the person who busted his ass to get you pictures. If I hadn't actually been Spider-Man, do you think any of your other hotshot photographers could have taken even a handful of shots? Go ahead with your stupid lawsuit – but know that I'll fight you every step of the way," Peter fumed as he made his way to the door.
Opening the office door, Peter had one last thing to say, "I thought that you had at least a little respect for me. I guess I was wrong. With the SRA becoming law, I will probably be working closely with SHIELD and law enforcement. You had better hope that you don't need my help – because I might just turn my back on you. See you around, Mr. Jameson."
Slamming the door, Peter exited into the Bugle's city room.
In his haste to leave, Peter accidentally ran into the Daily Bugle's editor-in-chief, Joe 'Robbie' Robertson.
Peter quickly apologized to the man that he so deeply respected, "I'm sorry Robbie, I didn't pay attention to where I was going. Jonah makes me so mad…"
Robbie quickly cut him off, "That's all right, Pete. Jonah has that effect on everyone who's worked for him for over the years." The two men chuckled at that. "Did you talk to him about that lawsuit that he brought against you?"
Robbie led Peter over to Kate Cushing's office since he had to talk to her about the late edition of the Bugle. Robbie tilted his head and quirked a brow. "I've always wondered if you were Spider-Man, Peter. But even so, finding out I was right... is still shocking."
Surprised to hear that from Robbie, he answered, "Wow, I never knew you suspected me. I guess we kept things from each other pretty well. I hope that doesn't change your opinion about me."
"Of course not, Peter. It does explain some of your odd behavior at times around here. Let me tell you something, you've done this city a great service being Spider-Man and I hope you continue to do so."
Hearing such absolute and unconditional praise from someone whose respect he cherished had Peter a little choked up. "Thanks, Robbie, you have no idea how much that means to me."
Kate opened her office door and said, "Come on, Robbie, there are a few things I want to go over with you before we put the late edition to… oh, hi, Peter."
"Hey there, Kate," Peter replied with a smile.
"You sure surprised the hell out of everyone here. I never would've guessed that we had Spider-Man working here at the Bugle. Knowing that now and knowing the way I treated you at times, I just wanted to say that I'm…" Kate tried to say, but Peter cut her off.
"Don't, Kate. I don't want you feeling sorry for me, and I told Jonah the same thing. What I want is for you to understand why I acted they way I did while working here. Can you do that?"
"Definitely," Kate replied, trying hard not to be overwhelmed by feelings of awe.
As he did with Jonah, Peter extended his hand out for Kate to shake. Not only did she shake his hand, she also gave him a warm hug. Peter bid both Robbie and Kate goodbye, and as he left, a few members of the staff that knew Peter gave him their best wishes. He got a hug from Joy and handshakes from Kat Farrell and Ben Urich before leaving. He had been hoping to talk to Betty, but she didn't seem to be around.
Peter decided that he wanted to web swing home because that was the best way for him to relax. He made his way up to the roof of the Bugle and instantly changed into his new costume. I'm sure going to miss this place, Peter thought as he looked out at the city.
"Peter, don't go yet," came a sweet, familiar voice: Betty Brant's. "I'm glad I caught you before you left."
Peter asked, "What is it, Betts?"
"I just wanted to tell you that I'm proud of what you did. It took a lot of courage to reveal your identity like that. I'm glad to have you as a friend and if there is anything you, MJ or May need, just let me know." Her words seemed sincere, but he wondered, after all she had been through, whether she really meant them.
But he so wanted to believe her. He went to Betty and gave her a hug. "Thanks, Betty. Your support means a lot to my family and me. We'll be okay – but if we do need something, I know how to reach you."
Releasing Betty, he fired a webline and swung away while waving back at her. Peter had a peaceful webswing on his way back to Stark Tower. He could see Mary Jane standing on a balcony outside so he landed next to her.
"How was rehearsal today, honey?" Peter asked.
"It was all right. I had to go out the back way to get here because the reporters were all over the place," Mary Jane replied.
"I'm sorry, MJ."
"Don't worry about it, Tiger. How did things go with Jonah?"
Peter gave her a look that spoke volumes.
"That well, huh?"
"Yeah. I told him that I would fight him every step of the way and I mean it." Peter said with determination.
Mary Jane wrapped her arms around Peter. "And I wouldn't have you any other way." She then gave Peter a passionate kiss. "Let's get inside. Jarvis said that dinner is just about ready."
For a little while, at least, he felt as if he hadn't a care in the world. He would let tomorrow worry about itself.
That's it everyone and I hope you enjoyed
this tale. Please, leave a review and
let me know what you thought of this story. Constructive criticism is
welcomed but flames are not. Also, feel free to check out the Devil You
Don't Know, which I co-authored with htbthomas. It's a Spider-Man/Black
Cat fic that is filled with action and
adventure, so please check it out if you haven't already. If you've
seen Superman Returns, check out Déjà
Vu, which is by htbthomas and I highly recommend it. Plus, today
is my birthday so I hope everyone enjoys this story because that would
make this day even more special to me.