Disclaimer: Superman, Lois Lane, Clark Kent, and Perry White are property of DC Comics and December 3rd Productions. Spider-man and all related characters are property of Marvel Comics. No copyright infringement is intended. Just having a little fun. :)
A/N: I found this when I was cleaning out my hard drive. This is a next generation Superman fic (a la Lois and Clark) that crosses over into the Marvel universe. In the DCU, there was briefly a character named the Golden Eagle. I found this out after I wrote this story but I decided to keep it. I'm a lot more familiar with the DC universe than the Marvel one so I apologize for any mistakes that show up. Un-betad so read at your own risk. And as always, I hope you enjoy. :)A Secret in Common
By Gaeriel Mallory
The tall dark-haired man exited the elevators and entered the busy newsroom. Straightening the glasses perched on his nose, he grasped the handle of his briefcase tightly and took a deep breath. He gazed over the heads of the people busily working, files in their arms or sitting at a desk typing.
'This is it, Kent. You can do it.' He took his first step towards the editor's office and kept walking. Tapping on the door, a gruff voice called out, "Come in!"
He entered and smiled at the man behind the desk. "Hi. I'm here for a job interview? We talked on the phone."
"What's your name, there?"
The editor gestured for him to take a seat and accepted his resume and portfolio. After studying both thoroughly, he examined the young man sitting across from him. That face is a little too naïve and earnest. But he has good work, and a hell of a resume. Ah, why not. We'll see if he sinks or floats.
J. Jonah Jameson extended his hand. "Jonathon Kent, welcome to the Daily Bugle."
* * *
"I got the job!" Jon crowed over the phone.
On the other end, his sister Lara smiled. "Don't get too confident, hot shot. You have to keep the job, too, you know."
"Right, sis. I know. But still…! I got the job!"
"Did you tell Mom and Dad, yet?"
"Not yet. I wanted to call you first."
"They'll be pleased. You know that. They're proud of you, even if they didn't want you moving away."
"You moved away."
"I know I did, and it was hard for them to let go. But we're all grown up now, even Martha, and they can't expect for us to stay in Metropolis our whole lives."
"Yeah." Jon glanced over at the clock in the hotel room. "Hey, sorry, Lara, but I still want to talk to Mom and Dad. Do you mind?"
"Nah. Besides, I have to get up early tomorrow for a meeting. I'll talk to you later."
After hanging up, Jon floated down from where he was floating near the ceiling onto the bed. He hesitated before dialing again. Even with Lara's reassurances, he still was not entirely sure the reception his news would be given. His old editor had been more supportive than his parents had been. After explaining to Perry White that he felt overshadowed by the famous team of Lane and Kent and wanted to start over fresh somewhere, Perry had only sighed. "Son," he had said, "I would hate to lose you. You're one hell of a reporter, not that I'm surprised, seeing as who your parents are. But I understand, and I can't say that I blame you, either. But I wish you luck, son, and you remember to give your old Uncle Perry a call, sometime, huh?" And with that and a glowing recommendation, his 'Uncle' Perry had acknowledged his decision and supported it.
His parents however…. Well, his dad had been pretty understanding but his mother had argued with him to stay.
"But Metropolis is your home. Your family is here." Lois's eyes had pleaded with him, begging him not to further the break up of the Kent clan his sister Lara had started when she decided to move to Los Angeles to be a lawyer there.
Jon had sighed. "I know, Mom. But I can't stay here. I feel trapped. I need to leave and just go out on my own."
Lois had been about to speak again when Clark came up behind her and hugged her. "I was the same way when I was young, honey," he told his wife. "He's a grown man and able to make his own decisions."
Lois had sighed and had given up the argument.
His younger brother CJ's response had been, "Can I come visit you sometime?" to which he had laughed and nodded. CJ, while living on campus at Metropolis University during the school terms, still lived at home during the summer breaks. Martha, his little sister (not so little anymore!), had not wanted her big brother to move away, but Jon promised her that he would fly back often to visit.
The phone was ringing and he floated up towards the ceiling again as he waited for someone to answer.
He heard a click and, "Hello?"
Jon grinned. "Hey, how's my favorite brother doing?"
CJ laughed. "Just fine, Jon. How's New York?"
"It's wonderful. I got the job at the Daily Bugle."
"Hey, that's great! That's the paper with all the Spider-man photos, right? If you ever run into him, could you get his autograph or something?"
Jon laughed at the hero-worship in his brother's voice. "I don't believe you. Your father is Superman, the most powerful man on the planet, and all you care about is some guy who can walk up walls."
CJ let out a sputter of protest and Jon laughed even harder. "Hey, don't worry. I won't tell Dad." He paused. "Speaking of Dad, could you put him and Mom on?"
"Sure. Just a sec." Jon heard the phone being set down and CJ's voice calling out faintly, "Mom? Dad? Jon's on the phone!"
After a few seconds, he heard his mother's voice on the other end. "Jon? How're you doing, sweetheart?"
"Just find, Mom. I got the job at the Bugle."
"That's great! Congratulations!"
Jon slowly relaxed when he heard the happiness in his mother's voice. He had been half afraid that she would have tried to convince him to return to Metropolis. "Thanks, Mom." In the background, he could hear his father shout his congratulations as well. Jon smiled, thinking about how super-hearing made some things easier.
Lois cleared her throat. "Um…Jon, I wanted to say that I was sorry for my reaction to you moving. It wasn't fair for me to try and keep you my baby forever."
"Oh, Mom…" Jon knew how hard it was for his mother to apologize and admit that she was wrong.
"I guess that I was just feeling old, that all of you were growing up. And okay, I was being selfish. After all the trouble that your father and I went through to have kids, I wanted to keep you as long as I could. I'm sorry."
Jon blinked back tears. "Mom, I didn't know. I'm sorry, too. I should have thought about how you and Dad would react."
"You have nothing to be sorry for. You're a grown man, as your father has made perfectly clear," she replied. Jon smiled a bit hearing the wry tone of her voice. "And it's only natural that you would want to be independent."
His father's voice came over the phone. Lois must have passed the receiver to Clark. "Son, how's New York?"
"It's fine, Dad. Not as grand as Metropolis, but it's all right. Crowded."
"If you need anything, we're only a short flight away."
"I know. But I don't think I'll be flying to Metropolis too often. It wouldn't do for rumors of another flying man to start."
"So you're sure about that?"
Jon laughed, a little bitterly. "I'm sure, Dad. Someday, I may change my mind, but for now, I'd rather not have Superman's reputation to live up to. Lane and Kent are bad enough!"
There was a long pause on the other end of the line before Clark's soft, "Oh, Jon…" came through the phone.
Jon was sorry for his impulsive words. "Sorry, Dad. I didn't mean it like that. I'm…I'm just trying to start out fresh, that's all. Someday, I may decide to put on tights and a cape, but not today."
Clark let his son go. They had had this conversation before, and he knew that his eldest son has always felt a bit resentful of having to live in his parents' shadows. It was for that reason that he had convinced Lois to let Jon go without too much of a fight. Jon was a great investigative reporter and he had been a very welcome addition to the Daily Planet. But to have your parents be the star team of the newspaper where he worked had obviously not helped his self-assurance any. During the time that Jon had worked at the Planet, Clark had noticed that the other employees had almost seemed to expect great things from his son. He had listened in on a few conversations using his super-hearing and had heard a few of the older reporters' conversations with Jon of "I remember when your dad first showed up here…" or "You're could be as good a reporter as your parents." No wonder Jon had felt uncomfortable there.
After exchanging a few more pleasantries with his parents, Jon hung up the phone and looked around the drab and tiny hotel room. 'Tomorrow,' he promised himself, 'I'll look for an apartment.'
* * *
As Jon entered the Daily Bugle's newsroom the next morning, he was greeted by a middle-aged black man. "Hi there. You must be Jonathon Kent. I'm Robbie Roberson, the assistant editor."
Jon shook the other man's hand and studied Robbie's face, which was open and friendly. He noticed a hint of mischief in Robbie's eyes. Overall, he was reminded a lot of his father, Clark Kent.
"Actually, it's Jon. I only use Jonathon for my byline."
"Well, Jon, it's a pleasure to meet you. I've read some of your work, and I'm impressed. You're a very good writer for someone your age."
Jon shrugged. "Writing runs in the family, I guess. My parents are both reporters."
"That's right—Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Well, they must be very proud of you. The Bugle isn't the Planet, but we're glad to have you."
Jon smiled. "And I'm glad to be here."
Robbie showed Jon around the newsroom, getting him acquainted with where everything was located. He also introduced Jon to other reporters and photographers. One in particular stuck in Jon's mind.
Peter Parker was a handsome man a few years older than Jon. He had an easy smile and an even quirkier sense of humor than his dad. When Robbie introduced him, Jon exclaimed, "You're the one who gets all the pictures of Spider-man. My brother is a huge fan of yours."
Peter smiled a little shyly and shrugged. "I just happen to be at the right place at the right time, that's all." He thought for a moment, and then spoke again. "You know, if you want, I can autograph one of my Spidey pics and you can give it to your brother."
Jon grinned. "He'd just about die! That would be great. Thanks."
Peter gave a short laugh and clapped Jon on the back. "Don't mention it. After all, we're going to be working together."
It was about then that Jameson poked his head out of his office and yelled, "Parker! There's a bank robbery downtown. Why aren't you there?"
Parker flashed a grin at Jon and grabbed his camera. "On it, Mr. Jameson!" he called out before running out of the room.
"Kent!" Jameson shouted.
Jon snapped to attention. "Yes, sir?"
"Follow Parker. I'm assigning this to you."
"Yes, sir!" Jon grabbed his notepad and coat and was about to leave when Jameson called his name again.
When Jameson saw that Jon was looking at him, he continued, "And don't screw this up."
* * *
Jon exited paid the driver and exited the cab. He then jogged up to join the crowd around the cordoned-off area around the building. He pushed his way to the front and managed to grab hold of a police officer. He flashed his press badge. "Jonathon Kent, Daily Bugle. Can you tell me what's going on here?"
The police officer flashed Jon an irritated look but answered. "Bank robbery turned hostage situation. That's all I can tell you now." Jon let him go and studied the building. Reaching up, he pulled his glasses down slightly and used his x-ray vision to peer inside the bank. He could see three men in masks holding guns and about a dozen people sitting on the floor against the wall with their hands on their heads. Using his super-hearing, he heard one of the gunmen chewing out the other two for not moving fast enough.
Jon noticed something and frowned. Zooming his sight in closer, he noticed a figure in red and blue inching its way across the high ceiling. Spider-man! I wonder who he is under that mask? he thought while he resisted taking a peek. His father had passed on his sense of ethics into all of his children.
Jon watched while Spider-man shot lines of webbing to pull the robbers' guns from them and used more webbing to attach the men to the wall. The hero then moved over to the hostages to make sure that they were all right before climbing up the wall and to a skylight. Before exiting through it, Spider-man retrieved something attached to the ceiling. Jon did not see what it was though.
Wow. That guy's something. Not Superman, but then again, who is?
* * *
"Hey, Jon! Great story. It made the front page!"
Jon looked up from his desk to see Robbie displaying that day's edition of the Bugle: 'Spider-man Foils Bank Robbery and Saves Hostages.' There was even a picture of Spider-man webbing the robbers to the wall.
Wait a minute…Jon frowned as he reached out for the newspaper. He absentmindedly thanked Robbie as he studied the picture. 'Picture by Peter Parker.'
But that's impossible! his brain screamed. Jon had been watching the scene inside of the bank the full time and he had not seen Peter anywhere. He didn't even remember Peter being in the crowd. Jon examined the picture and noticed the odd angle that it was taken from. Closing his eyes and pulling the layout of the bank interior from his memory, he realized that the photographer had to have been near the ceiling. The skylight? Could Peter have taken the picture through that? Jon could not tell from the reproduction in front of him, but if he could see an actual photograph…
Jon got up from his desk and went to find Peter. He found him down in the photo-developing room.
Peter looked up from the prints he was studying and smiled. "Jon! Great story, by the way."
"Thanks. Great picture. Look, I was wondering if I could take you up on your offer and get an autographed copy of that picture for my brother."
Peter looked thoughtful. "Sure, I have one with me now. Are you sure you don't want another one? I have a lot better shots of Spider-man than that one."
"No, that's fine," Jon reassured the other man. "Besides, this picture was with my first article for the Bugle. I figure it will have sentimental significance for CJ." Jon shrugged and hoped that Peter would buy his explanation.
To his relief, Peter smiled. "Hey, no problem." He reached over to grab a folder and rifled through it to find the correct photograph. "So, you and your brother are close?" he asked.
Jon grinned. "Yeah. CJ and I are like best friends. He's starting his sophomore year of college this fall."
"Really?" Peter handed Jon the signed photo. "I envy you. I'm an only child myself, and my parents died when I was young. I was raised by my aunt and uncle." A brief look of sadness passed over his face.
Peter lightened up again. "Hey, don't be. I don't remember them much, and they were always away from home." He waved a hand as if to push away the shades of his parents. "So, do you have any more siblings?" he asked, changing the subject.
"Yeah. I have two sisters, Martha and Lara. Lara's a lawyer in LA and Martha's in high school back in Metropolis. She'll be a senior this fall."
Peter smiled at the pride in Jon's voice. "It must be nice."
"Yeah. We're a pretty close family, considering. We have our differences, though. I moved away because I always felt like I had to live up to this great legacy of my parents."
"Well, Lane and Kent are a pretty impressive team."
Jon thought over the times he had caught his parents necking on the couch like a pair of teenagers. He remembered family barbeques where Clark cooked while Lois helped; vacations at his grandparents' farm in Smallville and the uncanny way that his parents were able to finish each other's sentences. He smiled. "Yeah, they are."
* * *
Jon studied the autographed picture in front of him. It was definitely taken inside the bank. There were no streak marks or dried raindrop stains that would have indicated that the picture was taken through the skylight. Of course, the bank could have been incredibly fastidious about cleaning their windows, but he doubted it.
So what could this mean?
Jon remembered that Spider-man had retrieved something before leaving the bank. Could it have been a camera? But that would mean…
He could think of two possible options. Either Spider-man was attaching a camera to walls to take pictures while he fought criminals and then gave the film to Parker, or…
Could Spider-man be Peter Parker? It was possible. Look at Clark Kent and Superman.
Jon wondered. Should he confront Peter? He did not want to do anything to jeopardize a possible friendship with the man. Even though he had only met Peter the other day, he genuinely liked the older man. And if I do tell, then there's the question of how I knew that Peter wasn't in the bank that day. And that would bring up a whole lot of other sticky issues that I would rather not deal with.
He sighed and slipped the photograph into a manila envelope and addressed it to his brother. At least CJ would be happy.
* * *
Jon looked around the tiny two-room apartment and sighed. It was clean, he had to give it that. One bedroom with an extremely small bathroom connected to it and a kitchen/living room/dining room. "How much?" he asked and winced at the answer.
The landlord shrugged. "Hey, what do you expect? It's New York. Everything's more expensive here."
Thinking of his old apartment in Metropolis, Jon sighed again and reached for his checkbook. At least he could get out of that hotel now.
The landlord accepted the check and left Jon alone in his new apartment. It was on the top floor and had a skylight--something that had added to the cost, but Jon figured that if he ever needed to enter and leave unobtrusively, he could use that. The kitchen was fully functional and he had not seen any problems with the plumbing or electricity when he had x-rayed the walls earlier.
He would fly back to Metropolis tonight and get together his things. He would have to make several trips.
* * *
Thankfully, his father and CJ offered to help him fly his things over so everything was moved with relative speed. Clark and brought Lois and Martha along for the first trip and they stayed at Jon's apartment to unpack boxes as the male Kents ferried the next load over from Metropolis. At the prospect of being left behind, Martha had sighed. "I wish Dad will let me fly alone already!" she complained to her mother as she opened a box of books. After everything was unpacked, Jon offered to take his family out to dinner. There was an Italian family restaurant just down the street from Jon's apartment building and they decided to go there to eat.
Over a large plate of lasagna, Jon told his family about his new job at the Bugle. He did not mention his suspicions about Peter Parker, but resolved to talk to his parents about them later. CJ, of course, was very excited to hear that his big brother had met Peter Parker, and Jon had told him to expect a surprise in the mail in a few days. CJ had relentlessly begged Jon to tell him what the surprise was, but Jon had only smiled and would not respond. "It's a surprise. If I tell you, then where's the fun in that?"
Martha had been thrilled to spend some time with Jon. Ever since he had moved out of the house, she had not seen as much of Jon as she would have liked. Even though CJ was closer to her in age, she was much more attached to Jon. When her flying powers started to emerge a few months ago, it had been Jon that had taken her flying, sneaking out of the house with her late at night when her parents had been asleep. She knew that her dad would not have allowed her to go flying without him.
After dinner, the Kent's walked back to the apartment. Jon made a point of catching hold of his father's arm and the two of the fell behind the other three.
"What is it, son?" Clark asked softly.
Jon sighed and jammed his hands into his pants pockets and wondered where to begin. "What would you do if you discovered a secret about someone?"
"What kind of secret?"
"A big secret. Like say someone finding out that you and Superman are the same person. Would you want to be told that someone knows, or would you rather that things stayed the same?"
Clark was lost in thought for a few moments. "To be honest, I personally would want to be told, if only that I would know to protect that person from my enemies. However, I should point out that if I was the one who had found out, I might not tell. But I don't know because something like this has never happened to me." Clark glanced over at his son. "Can you tell me anything about this secret you found out?"
Jon shook his head. "I…I don't think I have the right too. It's not anything bad. It's just that this person is someone I could see myself being friends with and I don't know if it would be worse to be his friend and know something about him that he doesn't know I know or if it would be worse for him to not want to be my friend because I know or--"
Clark cut off his son's babbling with a hand to the shoulder. "Don't think about it like that. That was one of the things between me and your mother that had agonized about. Should I tell her? We were getting close and I felt that I should but at the same time, I was scared of her reaction. If this secret is as big as you say it is, I would think that it would be this guy's decision to whether or not tell you."
Jon sighed. "Thanks. I guess…it was a big shock. And I don't even know if I had guessed correctly about this guy or not."
Clark threw an arm around his son's shoulders. "Well then, if you're not sure, then don't say anything. Look for hints. If you are ever sure, then make your decision."
* * *
Jon entered the newsroom the next morning and headed towards his desk, keeping an eye out for Peter. He sorted through his mail and messages while he waited for his computer to boot up. He was just about to open the last envelope when the phone on his desk rang. He picked it up and said absentmindedly, "Daily Bugle, Jonathon Kent."
Jon sat up, a smile on his face. "Uncle Perry! How are you doing?"
"Fine. Fine. Your dad gave me your number and I decided to check up on you. Now you tell that new editor of yours to take good care of my godson or I'll come down to New York personally to chew him out."
Thinking of some of the stories of J. Jonah Jameson that he had heard from his new coworkers, Jon chuckled. "I don't think he'd be too impressed. From what I hear, he can give as good as he gets! You may be the one in for a surprise."
"I read that article you wrote today. Great stuff, Jon; I doubt that your mom could have done better when she first got to the Planet."
"You think so?"
"I know so, son. You're one solid reporter. Who knows? You may even find out who this Spider-man character really is under that mask!"
Jon winced a little at that last remark, thinking about Peter. "I don't know, chief. I mean this guy's been around for a while. Why should I be the one to stumble across his identity?"
"Don't sell yourself short, son. You have Mad Dog Lane's genes in you as well as Clark Kent's. I have a feeling that you'll do great things, son." In the background, Jon faintly heard Jimmy's voice shouting excitedly. Perry chuckled. "Well, I have to go. The news waits for no one. Goodbye, Jon."
"Bye, Uncle Perry." Jon hung up the receiver and laughed quietly. Perry was getting on in his years, but he had resisted all attempts to get him to retire. In his early seventies, Perry still had relentless energy and a reporter's instinct. It had only been recently that Perry had been toying with the idea of retirement. Jon had only worked at the Planet for a little over a year, but he had known Perry all of his life and loved and respected the man.
Jon spotted Peter entering the newsroom, camera around his neck. He called out to the other man and waved him over. "Listen, I want to thank you for that picture again. If you ever need anything, all you have to do is ask."
Peter smiled. "Hey, don't mention it. It was nothing."
"Actually, I wanted to ask you something about the picture. The angle it was taken from was very odd, as if the photographer was near the ceiling. How did you get that picture anyway?"
Peter's smile became a little stiff. "Um…well, there was a skylight in the bank and I had climbed onto the roof."
"Really? Wow. I know someone back at the Planet who's a photojournalist. He gets all these great shots of Superman and I was asking because he had always wondered how you got the weird angles for your pictures."
Peter's smile relaxed a little bit. "You're talking about James Olsen, right?"
Jon was surprised. "Yeah. You know him?"
"Know him? My wife's a big fan of his Superman pictures. Strange huh, how women always fall for men in tights."
"You'd better watch out if she ever meets Spider-man." Jon watched Peter's face carefully. Peter looked…amused? And there was a twinkle in the other man's eye as well.
"Oh, I don't think I have to worry about that."
Robbie called out Peter's name and gestured towards Jameson's office. As he walked off, Peter threw back over his shoulder, "She's more than happy with me!"
Jon sat back in his chair and thought back over the conversation. He's hiding something. I'm pretty sure it has something to do with Spider-man, but what?
* * *
Jameson assigned Peter and Jon a science conference over at New York University. "If you have any trouble with the scientific terms, ask Parker," Jameson had told him. When Jon had mentioned the editor's comment to Peter, the other man had shrugged. "My hobby is science. I sometimes work over at NYU as an assistant to Dr. Curt Connors."
The conference was crowded. There were college students and professors as well as distinguished scientists from all over the globe. Jon was surprised to see a familiar figure talking animatedly to small group of people. Waiting for a break in the conversation, Jon called out, "Uncle Bernie!"
Dr. Bernard Klein, formally of S.T.A.R. Labs and currently retired, turned around to see who had called his name. His face lit up when he spotted Jon waving to him. Excusing himself from his colleagues, Dr. Klein made his way through the crowd to reach Jon and Peter.
"Jon, my boy! What are you doing in New York?"
"Didn't my dad tell you? I got a job at the Daily Bugle."
Dr. Klein beamed. "Really? Congratulations!"
Peter cleared his throat softly and Jon flushed a little as he remembered the photographer. "Oh, um. Uncle Bernie, this is Peter Parker. He's a photographer at the Bugle. Peter, this is Dr. Bernard Klein. He's a friend of the family's."
The two men shook hands. "So what are you doing here?" Peter asked.
"Oh, Superman gave me permission to do a talk about his physiology. Well, not all about it. I promised him that I'd keep some stuff out that might be damaging but I will be talking about the twenty-three amino acids that he has that humans don't. I believe that it is with those amino acids that somehow allow his body to convert solar energy to a form that allows him to have all of his powers. There is also a very unique sequence in--"
"You can tell us during your talk."
Dr. Klein sighed. "I was doing it again, wasn't I? Babbling I mean. According to your father, I can be as bad as Lois sometimes."
Jon smiled. "You're not quite as bad as Mom. You only get going when you start on something scientific. Then, we're lucky if we understand one word in every ten you say."
Peter grinned. "Hey, I understood every word of what he just said."
Dr. Klein turned to Peter. "You're a scientist?" he asked, surprised.
"Only on the weekends. It doesn't pay the bills."
"What is your area of specialty?"
"Oh, mutagenics and genetic manipulation. I help Dr. Curt Connors on some of his projects when I have the time."
Dr. Klein looked intrigued. "Really? What's your take on the theory that genetic mutations that evidence in special abilities such as flight or telekinesis are in actuality a continuation of an evolutionary…Oh. Um. Well, I'm sure I can discuss this with you later," he finished as he noticed the look on Jon's face.
Peter hid a grin. "I would love to." The two then made plans to get together later that day and Dr. Klein headed towards a seminar about possible new uses for lasers as Peter and Jon studied the schedule for the day.
"Did Mr. Jameson mention any specific seminars that we should attend?" Jon asked.
"Not really. I doubt he really understands what half of these are about. I do think we should go to Dr. Klein's Superman talk; anything about Superman is always news." Not noticing Jon's wince, Peter continued on. "Also, there's a panel about genetic mutations that I want to attend. I suppose that besides those, we can pick stuff at random to go to. Some short interviews from attendees and some people giving talks should about round everything out."
Jon nodded. "Sounds good. I'm not the most scientifically minded person. Uncle Bernie was so disappointed when none of the Kent offspring were."
* * *
Peter glanced at the name of the seminar. "Meteors and Meteorites: A Glimpse into Space." He sighed. Astronomy was not his forte. His passion was genetics and he and Jon had already attended a seminar about it earlier. Well, I suppose it could be worse, he thought to himself. It's either this or "Monster Lizards in the Sewers: Fact or Myth?and after all those incidents with The Lizard… Peter broke off that thought before he got himself caught up in the black hole his mind turned into whenever he thought about Curt Connors' little secret. Secretly, Peter had always blamed himself for The Lizard and whenever it showed up, it hurt because he knew that inside that creature was a friend.
Jon gazed over the room and nudged Peter. He pointed out Dr. Klein standing near the front of the room talking with a man and a woman. The two made their way over. "Uncle Bernie!"
Dr. Klein looked away from his conversation, an irritated look on his face. The look gave way to faint alarm when he saw who had called him. Hurriedly muttering something to his companions, Dr. Klein moved over to Jon and Peter and firmly grasped the two men and started walking towards the exit.
"Uncle Bernie? What are you doing?" Jon looked at the doctor with worry.
"Nothing to fear, Jon. I just had a little disagreement with those two fools about the display of a certain green meteorite." He looked at Jon significantly.
"Oh! Um…I see."
Peter looked bemused. "I don't."
"I'll explain later. Right now, let's get out of here before they take it out of its box." Dr. Klein began moving faster.
Unfortunately, he was not fast enough. On the table at the front of the room, there were displayed a number of meteorites as well as a medium-sized metal box. Before the trio reached the exit of the conference room, one of the speakers walked over and opened the box, revealing a glowing green stone.
Jon gasped and grabbed hold of Dr. Klein before he crumpled to the ground. Dr. Klein swore softly under his breath and looked over at Peter. "Help me, quickly, before people notice!"
Peter grabbed on of Jon's arms and swung it over his shoulders, thankful of his spider-strength. He noticed some glances being thrown their way. "It's all right, everyone," he reassured the people as Dr. Klein threw Jon's other arm over his shoulders. "My friend just had too much to drink at the free bar."
Between the two of them, they managed to get Jon's half-conscious body out of the conference room and into the hallway. Peter was about to steer Jon towards a bench right by the door but Dr. Klein shook his head. "No. Farther away." He jerked his chin towards a bench at the end of the hall, a good distance away from the conference room. Peter sighed but hauled Jon to it.
After laying Jon down on the bench, Dr. Klein disappeared only to reappear a moment later carrying a paper cup filled with water. Approaching Jon, he carefully lifted up his head and put the cup to his lips. Jon gratefully sipped, letting the water sooth his suddenly dry mouth. Dr. Klein felt Jon's forehead and frowned. "You have a fever. From what your father has told me, this is perfectly normal. If you aren't exposed again, you should be fine within a few days."
Peter looked confused. "What was he exposed to? Why did he collapse? What happened?"
Jon sighed and looked at Dr. Klein. "Tell him."
Dr. Klein looked surprised. "The truth?"
"What else is there? He's smart enough to figure it out himself. And I doubt that he'd tell anyone. He knows how to keep a secret." When speaking that last comment, Jon looked at Peter. The other man's eyes had widened slightly with shock and a tinge of fear.
He lay back down and closed his eyes. He would talk with Peter later once his head was not hurting so much. The last thing he heard before he drifted off to sleep was Dr. Klein telling Peter he had better sit down.
* * *
"Com'on, Jon. Wake up. We've got to get you outta here."
Every part of his body ached. Pain was something that Jon had almost forgotten about ever since his body had proven to be invulnerable around the age of ten. After that, he had never even had so much as a paper cut. Jon groaned as he gingerly moved, testing his body.
"Come on, Jonny boy. Wake up."
Jon just wished that the voice would go away and let him rest. He was so tired and his head hurt. A hand grasped his shoulder and gently but firmly shook him. A different voice spoke then, a more familiar voice. "Jon, please wake up. We have to get you out of here."
Jon reluctantly opened his eyes and squinted against the bright light. "Uncle Bernie? Peter? What happened?"
The two men helped him to sit up and stand. "Later, my boy. For right now, we have to get you to my room." Dr. Klein led Jon and Peter to the elevator and pressed the button marked for the seventh floor. After the doors closed, he turned towards Peter. "You're taking this rather well," he commented.
Peter shrugged. "I'll have my mental breakdown later after I know that Jon will be all right."
Jon gave Peter a weak grin. He was propped up in the corner of the elevator and was looking very pale. "I may join you."
Reaching Dr. Klein's hotel room, Peter got Jon onto the bed as Dr. Klein opened the curtains to let in some sunlight. As soon as the light hit him, Jon felt better and he relaxed, letting his body soak in the yellow sun. Dr. Klein began to examine Jon, who answered his questions in as few words as possible. After the examination, he left in order to get some ice from the ice machine.
Peter sat down on the edge of the bed and looked at his new coworker. After learning about Jon's secret, he had not really had time to let it sink in. But now, his mind was reeling. He remembered Jon's remark before about how Peter knew how to keep a secret. Does he know? If he does, how did he find out? I was always so careful. Not careful enough, apparently. Of course, that was assuming that Jon knew.
As if sensing Peter's contemplation, Jon opened his eyes. He noticed the worry on the photographer's face. "So, now you know why Clark Kent and Lois Lane got all of those Superman exclusives." Jon hesitated but continued. "A bit like how Peter Parker gets all those Spider-man pictures?"
Peter's face went blank. "So you know."
"I suspected. The other day at the bank robbery, I was watching what was going on inside using my x-ray vision. I didn't see you anywhere near the bank that day, yet you brought in exclusive pictures of what happened inside."
Peter felt a little relieved that Jon had not found out his secret because of something that Peter had let slip out but because of his special powers. One of his worst nightmares was that one of his enemies would find out his secret and then go after his wife, Mary Jane, in revenge. Not to mention that Spider-man was not the most popular denizen of New York City and there were many ordinary citizens (as well as law enforcement officers) who would have been more than willing to take the superhero off of the streets.
"Tell me something, Jon. If your father's Superman, then why don't you have a costume and a name so that you could help people?"
Jon sighed. He opened his mouth to answer when Dr. Klein entered back into the room carrying an overflowing ice bucket. "Here you are, Jon. I'm sorry but I have to go give my talk now but I should be back in about an hour. You just lay there and rest." He went into the bathroom and emerged with a washcloth that he then wrapped around two handfuls of ice. He handed the icepack to Jon. "Keep this on your forehead until your fever goes down. I'm really sorry that I have to leave but I'll try not to be too long."
Peter and Jon watched the scientist with some amusement as he bustled about the room, gathering up his notes and muttering under his breath before disappearing out the door again.
Peter looked at Jon again. "Well? Why don't you have a hero persona?"
Jon stared off into space. "When I was younger and was just starting to get my powers, I wanted to. I couldn't wait for the day when Dad said I was ready to join him. But as I got older and started taking journalism courses in high school and college, I changed my mind. Everyone expected these great things from me just because I was the son of Lane and Kent. It got really bad when I got my job at the Daily Planet where they worked. I might have stayed on except that Perry White, my old editor, had begun to think about retiring. By rights, he should have retired a long time ago except that he refused to stop working. Anyway, if Perry retired, than one of my parents would have become editor of the Planet. It was bad enough working in the shadow of my parents, the world famous reporters, but to have one of them be my boss! That was when I decided to pack it all up and move to another city and start out fresh, away from my parents."
"What does all this have to do with Superman?"
"Think about it. It was bad enough being Lois Lane and Clark Kent's son; how would I have felt to be Superman's son? Instead of a whole newspaper or city watching every move I make, trying to figure out if I was going to live up to my legacy, it would be the world watching. I couldn't bear that."
Peter looked thoughtful. "Well…who said that you had to let people know whose son you were?" Jon glanced over at Peter, a questioning look on his face. Peter elaborated. "I know you look like your father, but you could wear a mask. No one would know who you were. And if you operated out of New York City, hardly anyone would raise an eyebrow. With the Xavier Institute out in the country, we have more than our fair share of 'gifted' people. It could work."
Jon raised an eyebrow. "What gave you the idea that I wanted to be a superhero in the first place? Maybe I just want to live a normal life. You know, find a girl, get married, have kids--the whole house with a white picket fence deal."
Peter got up off of the bed and sat down in the chair at the hotel room's only table. He leaned back and crossed his arms over his chest. "Let me tell you something my Uncle Ben once told me. 'With great power comes great responsibility.' Now, the way I see it, pal, you have more power than anyone else in the world with the exception of your father. What are you going to do with it? When I first got my powers, my first thoughts weren't how I could help people. They were how I could use my powers to make money. I just tossed everything my Uncle Ben had taught me out the window. But I soon learned my lesson." Peter's eyes grew sad as he continued. "I was given a choice one night. I had gotten work as a wrestler, and someone robbed the box office. I could have stopped him; he ran right by me. But I didn't because it wasn't my job; it wasn't my worry. Later that night, I came home to find that someone had broken into my house and had killed my Uncle Ben. I hunted down the burglar to a warehouse. It was the same guy who had robbed the box office. Do you know what I felt then? Knowing that I could have stopped my Uncle Ben from being killed if I had only pulled myself out of my selfish little world for one second? I had a choice, and I made the wrong one." Peter stopped talking and just looked at Jon, waiting for a reaction.
Jon was silent for a long time before he spoke. "Do you think I would be able to do some good?"
"Of course you can. Look at me. All I can do is stick on walls and look at all that I've done." Peter's words were spoken with confidence.
Jon was silent again, thinking. Finally, he asked Peter, "Would you help me?"
* * *
Mary Jane Watson-Parker heard the front door open and smiled. In her late twenties, she was stunning with waist-length red hair and bright intelligent green eyes. Already well known as a model, she was trying to fulfill her dream of acting.
Peter called out, "MJ? I brought guests for dinner. I hope you don't mind."
Mary Jane walked to the front foyer of their house. "As long as you brought the food, Tiger, you could have the entire Mets team over for dinner." Standing at the door with her husband were an elderly gentleman who was mostly bald with a distracted look in his eye and a handsome young man who looked very tired behind his glasses.
"MJ, this is Jon Kent and Dr. Bernard Klein. Jon just started work at the Bugle and we got assigned that science conference today. Dr. Klein's an old friend of Jon's family who was at the conference. We just bumped into each other."
Mary Jane extended her hand towards the two men. "It's a pleasure to meet you." She accepted the bags of Chinese takeout Peter handed to her and led the way to the kitchen. She set the bags onto the kitchen table and got plates out of the cupboard. "Is coke fine with everyone?" she asked as she reached for glasses.
As the four of them settled down to dinner, Peter kept shooting Jon looks and tilting his head towards his wife. After about the third time this happened, Mary Jane set her fork down and poked Peter. "What are you doing?"
Jon smiled as Peter mumbled an explanation. He made a decision. "Mary Jane, you can obviously keep a secret…"
Mary Jane looked at him with confusion and a trace of worry on her face.
"Well, I, um, found out about Peter and today, Peter found out a secret of my own. Um…I'm not exactly sure how to say this except to just, well, say it. My father is Clark Kent, reporter for the Daily Planet. But he's also Superman."
Her eyes widened in amazement. "Superman?" She looked towards Peter and he nodded in confirmation. "Why are you telling me this?" she asked Jon.
He looked a little embarrassed. "Well, when I told Peter today about why I was not using powers openly, he gave me a little lecture and made me rethink some things. Well…Peter told me that you were in the fashion business and if I want to become a superhero and still have a life, I would need a costume. I was wondering if you would help me to design one."
"I want something radically different from my father's costume and a mask. I don't want my new persona to be tied to Superman in anyway. I'd rather not have to deal with media speculation."
"Who designed your father's costume?"
"Um…Grandma Kent." Jon ducked his head at Mary Jane's laugh. Peter and Dr. Klein were chuckling as well. After a bit, he began to see the humor in Superman's mother making his costume and laughed along with the others.
* * *
Mary Jane studied Jon with a critical eye. "A cape, possibly. If you're going to be flying, something flowing after you would look nice. Hmm…with your skin color, red would look good. Green too." She took some notes on her notepad. "Have you given thought of a name?"
Jon contemplated her question. "Not really. I wouldn't want a Super-something or even a Something-man. Something different."
Peter spoke up. "You know, if you're going to be operating out of New York, you might want to consider the tradition of animal names." Peter ticked them off on his fingers. "The Rhino, the Vulture, the Scorpion, the Lizard, Doctor Octopus, the Chameleon," his smile widened a bit, "Spider-man…"
Jon looked at Mary Jane who shrugged. "I suppose you could if you want. Though a bird name would be better considering that you can fly." A gleam lit her eye. "A bird of prey…falcon, peregrine, eagle…Eagle! That could work. The Eagle? It's very patriotic. Maybe, the Scarlet Eagle or the Golden Eagle or something like that."
"The Golden Eagle." Jon smiled. "I like that. It's very…unpretentious."
"Unlike Superman?" Dr. Klein asked with a smile. "The Golden Eagle." The scientist tasted the name on his tongue.
Mary Jane grinned and turned toward her notepad, her pencil racing over the paper.
* * *
Elizabeth Walken was walking home. She did not like walking in New York this late at night but her shift at the diner ended at eleven and the closest bus stop to her apartment was two blocks away. Ahead, she could see her building and something within her relaxed. Soon, she would be safe in her apartment and she could take off her shoes and lay down to rest.
She did not notice the shadow that detached itself from a doorway and began following her. She was only a few feet away from the entrance to her building when she felt the knife press into her back.
"Hand over your purse, lady."
Trembling, she reached up and pulled her purse strap down her arm. She felt the robber grab the purse and begin to turn away. She began to relax again when she felt the robber cry out and back into her. She turned around to see a tall imposing figure dressed in a skintight red, yellow, and orange suit. Attached to his arms were pieces of cloth fashioned to resemble wings that fluttered down towards the ground. A yellow mask covered all of his head except the area around his mouth and his eyes. The mask dipped down past his nose, giving the appearance of a beak. He simply folded his arms over his chest and stared down at the would-be mugger.
"Didn't anyone ever tell you that it isn't nice to take things that aren't yours?" the costumed man asked in a mild voice.
"Wh-who are you?"
The man smiled and leaned forward, looming over the mugger. "The Golden Eagle. And I suggest you give the nice lady her purse back and start running. If you're lucky, I might let you go."
The mugger gathered his courage back and stood up straighter. "And what are you going to do to me if I don't?"
The man's smile turned sardonic. In a smooth gesture, he grabbed the mugger around his waist and the purse in the other hand. He gave Elizabeth back her purse and took off into the night sky.
Elizabeth stood there, purse dangling loosely from her fingers, a look of amazement on her face. "Wow."
* * *
Jon soared over the city, enjoying the feeling of being able to use his powers openly. He grandmother had done a good job with the costume. He smiled slightly, remembering Peter and Mary Jane's faces as he set them down in front of the small farmhouse in Kansas. "So that's flying," Peter had said with an amazed look on his face.
Thankfully, his grandparents had accepted his two friends without question and after explaining his reason for visiting, Grandma Kent had immediately taken Mary Jane into her sewing room to begin work on Jon's costume.
The first time he tried it on, he was surprised at the tightness. His grandmother had smiled and said, "It cuts down on wind resistance."
His grandfather had simply looked at his namesake with pride. "If only your father could see you…" His voice trailed off as he thought. "You know, Clark can get here in under a few minutes if he rushed. How about it, son?"
Jon had grinned and handed his grandfather the phone.
Ten minutes later, the group heard a 'whoosh' sound outside the house and the door opening. "Mom? Dad? What's the surprise you wanted to show me?"
Martha smiled in anticipation. "In here, Clark! And no peeking!"
Clark entered the living room in his Superman suit to see his parents and two strangers smiling at him. A moment of pure panic seized him as he gazed at the red-haired woman and brown-haired man. The two looked at each other, and then at his parents and nodded. They stepped aside to reveal…
Clark gaped. "Jon?"
Jon grinned and twirled around so his father could get the full affect. "Hi, Dad. What do you think?" The look on his father's face had been priceless.
Jon smiled again at the memory as he surveyed the city under him. His city now; his home. When he had dropped off the mugger at a nearby police station, his costume had gotten strange looks from the officers. Peter had told him that superheroes were not the most welcome characters in New York City and some of the reactions of the police had reinforced that. He hoped that his presence might change that attitude. But for now…
He somersaulted in the air with a joyful cry and continued on his patrol.