“Your numbers are holding steady Flash, the appearance on the Spider-Man segment sent them up quite a bit. It seems that many viewers and potential voters felt you put Jameson in his place and they’re quite happy with that.”

Eugene “Flash” Thompson smiled as he continued to check himself out in the large mirror on the table before him, a sheet covering his expensive suit as a woman dabbed at his face to add a bit of powder to his cheeks. Turning slightly he brought Betty Brant into sight through the mirror. “Well that’s a relief, I was afraid that I would come off as too abrasive or to fanboy about Spidey.”

Betty shook her head. “You’re set in that regard. New York seems to be off the Spider-Man bashing band wagon.”

“You don’t sound too enthused about that.”

“Flash…you know my reasons.”

The man nodded and motioned for the woman doing his makeup to leave them alone. “I know, and I don’t want to fight about them again. We’ve been down that road, and I don’t want to lose you.”

Betty smiled and took his hand in her own, giving it a squeeze. “You won’t. Not this time. Not when you’re so focused and set on making something of the future even after all you’ve been through.”

“Veteran returned from the wars overseas maimed and broken rises up to the top of the polls in race for New York City mayor, sort of story that really tugs at the heart-strings,” Flash said as he smiled a bit. “I suppose having a positive outlook about it all helps in the eyes of the voters.”

“Flash you lost your legs saving the lives of fellow soldiers and the positive outlook matters more to me and to you. Seeing you so ready to surpass any limits or obstacles tells me that being with you again is the right decision. We can begin to move on with our lives. We can make something of the future.”

Gingerly, Flash took her hand and rose it up to his lips to kiss the back of it. While he had lost the lower parts of his legs in the war overseas and was reduced to using a chair and special prosthetics, Flash felt like he had won the lottery of life. A beautiful woman. Good friends. A future. The only thing that had been standing in his way was himself and that was no longer the case. The future was indeed quite bright.

***

“Don’t worry ma’am, everything is under control now. You can rest easy, the Avengers have saved the day.”

A loud authoritative voice broke through the fog as Spider-Man groaned, hand rising to rub against a sore head. The last thing remembered was Shocker and Electro in a warehouse and a fire. Then debris falling and pinning him to the ground as flames licked against the suit and the skin. Surely that had been where he had died as the hero had not been able to budge any of it and was pretty sure that there was no way he could  have. Then that voice was heard and confusion grew.

“Captain America…are you God? Cause if so I’m really sorry for that whoopee cushion thing I did before, I totally didn’t know. Oh and that stack of porn under my mattress when I was fourteen totally wasn’t mine. I just found those there, scouts honor.”

The bright red glove of Captain America filled his sight as the arachnid hero took the offered hand, the older man pulling him to his feet.

“Spider-Man, you seem to be recovering. At least I assume so by the jokes.”

“Hard to tell, I joke and quip all the time. Pretty sure that might be a sign of brain damage but then again I’m not a doctor…or am I.”

“Are you?”

“No no, the sight of blood totally just makes me nauseous. Can’t have a man in a mask spewing over you as your insides are being opened. Lawsuits a plenty there.”

Eyes slid around under the protective cover of the mask taking in the scene. To their right was the burned out warehouse that the hero had been trapped in. The sun was beginning to rise giving it an eerie look, as well as shining down upon the forms of Shocker and Electro both handcuffed and secure within the van for the special police force Code Blue. Code Blue was the city’s response to the growing number of super powered criminals in town. They had ways to neutralize many of the criminals of the superhuman variety.

“So I’m guessing it’s too much to think that I willed myself to burst through the debris, got out here, took down the villains and then passed out from a job well done as you and the Avengers just came in to bat clean-up?”

“There is no shame in being overwhelmed Spider-Man,” Captain America offered as he turned towards the other Avengers who were talking to the media. “We’re always happy to help a fellow hero. Now if you’ll excuse me I have to wrangle my team. Kang has been causing trouble in the city lately and we must get back to finding him.”

“Yeah, of course,” Spider-Man said as the older man walked away. “Yeah no shame, no shame that a guy Uncle Ben’s age and his amazing friends had to come in and save my bacon from frying. Literally. Definitely one to chalk up in the books Webhead.”

Loud voices came as suddenly the press was all around him. They were like vultures, finding the next body to pick clean as they savored devouring every last morsel.

“Spider-Man! Is it true you started the fire for attention?”

“Were you in cahoots with Shocker and Electro?”

“How does it feel to have been saved by the true heroes of New York City?”

“Are you getting a bit fatter around the middle, inquiring minds want to know!”

With a groan the hero pushed out, rose a hand and allowed a string of web to fly out and snag a building ledge above. With a strong pull he was in the air over their heads, ready to swing off into the city.

“Cahoots? Who even says cahoots anymore? Sheesh the quality of journalists today.”

With that the hero was off into the air, trying to put it all behind him. Shocker and Electro. The Avengers. Being trapped. Thoughts of Mary Jane. The reporters. All of it pushed away to be forgotten about at the moment. At least he thought so. Coming to a rest on a gargoyle, hands reached down and began to pull at his sides. Meeting the eyes of the stone monster he sighed. “Does this suit make me look fat?”

There of course was no response. “Yeah that’s what I thought. Freaking media.” With another sigh he was off again, dropping into the air as he swung through the city. There had to be a word that described what had just happened with all this. Perhaps humiliating?

Humiliating wasn’t the word. Not the word that he was looking for at the moment at least, though it did fit. No this was more than that. As a breeze kicked up around him, Spider-Man swung through the air stoically, not giving a second thought to the world below as the mind whirled in thought. Saved by the Avengers against two of his usual bumbling foes was not the sort of thing that most heroes wanted to happen. If there was a such thing as a career boost in the world of heroes, this was the opposite.

What happened here? Was I that distracted by all the stuff with Mary Jane that I failed at what I do best? Peter thought with a mental sigh. Pretty hard to deny that my life is off the rails, the Parker luck times infinity has struck. Mary Jane is gone. Aunt May wanted me out. Finding a job is proving almost impossible. Can’t go back to the Bugle, or won’t. Can’t even afford my really crappy place that I’m pretty sure was a drug den or a murder spot at one point. You’re really moving up in life there Parker.

As if things weren’t bad enough there was a sudden feeling that came as descent was imminent. The left web shooter was empty. There were no extra cartridges because money was tight and he had forgotten to work on them. “Oh you have got to be kidding…”

There was no finishing the sentence as the red and blue clad hero began to plummet towards the ground below. With quick motion the right arm shot out and a thin strand of webbing caught the edge of a building, the right shooter bordering on empty as well, allowing him to slow the descent and make and arc. It was enough to not die but not enough to stop before the large smelly dumpster in an alley was crashed into.

Groans came as a banana peel was tossed off the head. Something was buzzing and at first it was easy to brush it off as his head in pain and mind buzzing. Then it became apparent that it was something else. “Huh…oh crap.”

Digging through the garbage to his little pouch, a phone was produced and answered as the mask was pulled up a bit for freedom of talking.

“Peter? Peter Parker?”

“Speaking.”

“Hello. This is Dr. Connors.”

Dr. Curt Connors. Also known as the Lizard and at times scientific contact for Spider-Man, as well as a man who Peter knew. Eyebrows rose under the mask as the questions began to form in the mind. There were quite a bit of them if he was to be honest. Most centering around the Lizard.

“Dr. Connors what can I do for you?”

There was a long pause as the other man seemed to be thinking and then at last he spoke again. “Actually Peter this call is about what I can do for you.”

Now it was the younger man’s turn to pause as surprise overtook him. “What you can do for me?”

“Yes, you see a colleague of mine contacted me recently about and amazing opportunity we’re pursuing that would open the field of science and technology right up and push it to the future before all others. It would bring in the greatest minds in the world whether they are younger or older and utilize the skills of all and allow free reign of scientific study and experimentation with a few caveats of course. It’s a ground floor operation with amazing opportunities.”

“Dr. Connors, that sounds really great but I’m still not sure how this applies to me.”

“We want you Peter. We want you to be part of this group.”

A slight frown came. It sounded like an amazing opportunity but there was just no time for such a thing with how focus had to be on gaining salaried employment and soon. “It sounds really great Dr. Connors but I’m strapped for cash at the moment and really just trying to find a way to afford a place and get back into…”

“It’s a paid position. A quite handsomely paid position. We’re talking six figures.”

It was becoming common in this conversation for Peter to pause, perhaps that was something to think about. “Six figures?”

“Or more depending on the work put in and how you advance. Comes with medical, dental, a guaranteed retirement package as well as 401K. We can even set you up with someplace to live as well as travel arrangements. It’s really a great opportunity to be handed here and I know you would excel at it Peter.”

“Wow, that’s just amazing,” Peter said as he rubbed at his chin. It was an amazing opportunity and there was a major part of him that was saying he’d be stupid to turn it down. It was time to change life and do something new and not be at the bottom rung anymore. This was that chance. “You said something about travel arrangements though, what’s that for? Like excursions for vacations or scientific trips?”

“This new endeavor, it’s not in New York City. You’d have to move.”