"Someone told me love will now save us
But how can that be... look what love gave us
A world full of killing
And blood spilling
That world never came
And they say that a hero can save us
I'm not gonna stand here and wait
I hold on to the wings of the eagle
Watch as we all fly away."
Hero by Nickelback
Tomorrow, he would graduate. After four years of struggling to fit in at Smallville High he'd finally be on his own. He would leave his friends and his family to pursue an education in journalism with Chloe. They'd be going to Metropolis University together. It was going to be the time of their lives.
Now, Clark just had to get through the summer. Deal with whatever meteor mutants attacked Smallville, learn about any new powers that decided to surface, play basketball with Pete and keep his secret for three more months. He thought it would be easier to hide his powers in a big city like Metropolis. He thought it would be easier to blend in.
Clark used to think he would marry Lana.
Clark used to think he was human.
Clark used to think he was normal.
Now he knew the truth. He knew he was from another planet. He knew he had almost lost Pete's friendship when Pete found out what he was. He knew that Lex, who he'd thought was his friend, had been secretly researching him, trying to learn his secret. He knew that he had been sent to Earth to conquer it.
Clark didn't want to conquer Earth. He wanted to be like them. He wanted to be like everyone else.
Chloe said normalcy was overrated. Chloe didn't know his secret.
Pete said at least Clark was white. Clark could pass as human. A white American male human. Pete said that Clark would be all right if he didn't let down his guard. Pete knew what it was like to be a minority. Pete didn't know what it was like to hide who you were.
Lana said people couldn't be in a relationship if they kept secrets from each other. She said there was more to Clark than met the eye. Lana was able to see that Clark was hiding something. She wasn't able to see what he was hiding.
Clark moved into his apartment a week before classes started. His parents thought it would be safer for him to live off campus. Clark agreed, but it still made him feel like more of an outsider. So much for fitting in.
Chloe dragged him to the Daily Planet, where she'd be working part time during school, and shoved an application form at him. Clark insisted he didn't want to get a job right away, that he wanted to get used to the city first, but Chloe wouldn't listen. So he filled out the form.
They didn't let him write articles at first. Chloe wrote lots of articles. She'd been interning at the Planet for three years. Clark would have to prove himself just like Chloe had.
"Clark! Get these to editing for me?"
"Sure Chloe, no problem." Clark let Chloe add her article to his very tall pile of papers. The situation was getting precarious, but if he slipped in some super-speed he could handle it.
He rushed toward editing and didn't notice the other intern rushing out. A second later his papers were flying in every direction.
"Oh my God, I'm so sorry!" The other intern helped Clark scoop up his papers. "I can be really clumsy sometimes. I'm really sorry."
Clark smiled up at the other intern. "It's okay, really. Don't worry about." They were both kneeling on the floor, surrounded by half-written articles. Clark held out his hand. "Clark Kent."
Clark was surprised by the warmth that spread through his body when the handshake was returned. The intern smiled back at him.
"Nice to meet you. I'm Peter Parker."
The handshake lasted a few seconds too long for propriety. Clark blushed and pulled his hand away, still smiling when he picked up the rest of the papers. "Thanks."
"You're welcome." Peter watched Clark stand and blinked before getting up. "Okay, well, see you around."
"Yeah," Clark said, grinning. He backed into the editing room.
Clark saw Peter a few times after that. Just a quick glance while they were working and then he'd be gone. Pretty soon, Clark started looking forward to seeing Peter. He found out Peter wanted to be a photographer and started hanging around the photography department. Clark wasn't completely aware of what he was doing, or why exactly he was doing it. All he knew was that he wanted to get to know Peter.
Peter was waiting for him in the break room one day after work. "Hi Clark." He seemed a little nervous.
"Peter. Hi. What's up?" Clark sat down and started packing up his things.
"I heard it's your birthday tomorrow."
Clark nodded. "Yeah."
"I was wondering if I could take you out for a birthday dinner."
Clark couldn't hold back his grin. "That would be nice." He didn't want to ask if Peter was asking him out on a date. He was afraid the answer would be yes. He was afraid the answer would be no.
"So, where should I pick you up? Do you live on campus?"
"Um, no. But I can meet you at the Student Center."
"Okay. I'll see at... six?"
"Sure. See you then." They grinned at each other for a few seconds. Clark stood up abruptly and knocked over his chair. Blushing, he righted the chair and rushed out of the room.
Clark hadn't felt like this since he'd fallen for Lana his freshman year of high school. He had no idea what to do. He'd never liked another guy before, but that didn't really bother him. He had plenty to worry about what with hiding his powers and everything. It wasn't like he'd never heard of two guys dating. A person who could fly and see through walls, now that was unheard of.
He started getting ready two hours before he was supposed to meet Peter. He changed his shirt three times, showered twice and spent a half hour fixing his hair.
Clark got to the Student Center early. Peter was already there. He grinned when he saw Clark.
"Hey. Happy birthday." They were standing pretty close and Peter hesitated a little before giving Clark a brief hug. "Birthday hug," he explained quickly. Clark returned the hug, just to let Peter know he was cool with it before letting him go.
"Thanks. So where are we going?"
"It's your birthday, wherever you want."
Clark considered it for a minute. "Do you like Italian?"
"Olive Garden? There's one about twenty minutes away."
A CD was playing when Peter turned on the car. He started to shut it off but Clark put his hand over Peter's on the volume button. "I like Remy Zero. Let's listen."
Peter looked up at him and didn't pull his hand back right away. They were silent on the way to the restaurant, just listening to the music. The hostess led them to a booth in a corner and took their orders. Dinner was good.
When they'd finished eating, Peter slid into Clark's side of the booth and took something out of his pocket. "I got you a present. I hope it's not too presumptuous." Clark accepted the small box and unwrapped it. He raised an eyebrow when he took out the bottle of Calvin Klein. Peter shrugged. "I didn't know what kind of cologne you wear so I thought Clark Kent, CK."
Clark laughed. "No, it's nice. Thanks." Peter put his hand out to take the box from Clark and their fingers brushed. When Clark didn't pull away, Peter ran his thumb lightly over Clark's forefinger. The small caress made Clark's skin tingle and he took a deep breath. He started to lean forward. Peter looked like he was going to lean closer too but something flashed in his eyes.
"Clark, I'm sorry. I have to go."
"What -" But Peter was long gone. He'd left enough money on the table for both their meals and a tip. Clark was confused. He was the one who was supposed to run off in the middle of important moments. What the heck was going on?
The phone was ringing. Clark threw his pillow at it but it didn't stop. It rang about twenty times before Clark rubbed his eyes and picked it up.
"Are you watching the news?" Chloe.
"It's five o'clock in the morning. I'm trying to sleep."
"Well, you're up now. Turn on the news."
"Any channel. It's on every network."
Clark had to admit that made him a little curious. He grabbed the remote and flipped on the tv. The copter camera was focused on the top of a building, where a reporter held up a microphone. The wind was making her hair flap all over the place.
"I'm here on top of the capitol building where the standoff occurred. A tense battle took place for several hours before Spiderman triumphed over the madman. Once again, Spiderman has made our city safer. Back to you, Jim."
A video clip rolled while Jim gave the voiceover. Clark watched, mesmerized, as the Spiderman virtually flew up to the top of the capitol building with the help of white streamers he seemed to shoot from his wrists. Clark had heard of Spiderman but he'd thought it was just a rumor.
"Isn't it exciting? I'm going to try and score an interview with him."
Clark listened to her babble for a while before mumbling, "That's great, Chloe. I'm going back to sleep." He heard Chloe say his name but he hung up anyway. It was his day off and he wasn't going to waste it by being awake.
A few hours later there was a knock at the door. Sighing, Clark pulled on a shirt and some jeans over his boxers. "Who is it?"
Clark was immediately wide awake. He opened the door and saw Peter standing there with a sheepish smile. Clark motioned for him to come in.
Peter paced for a few minutes, then sat on the couch. "I'm really sorry about leaving last night. There was... something I had to do."
Clark nodded and went into the kitchen to start the coffee. The situation was all too familiar, except now he was on the other side. He'd always been the one to leave when someone was in trouble, make excuses and apologize later. He lost a lot of friends and jobs that way. Clark wasn't sure if Peter was Spiderman, but he hoped he was. Otherwise, Peter better have a damn good excuse for running out on him at the restaurant.
He brought out two cups of coffee when it was finished. "Don't worry about it. Things come up." He tried to think of a way to find out if he was right about Peter without Peter knowing. It would be really embarrassing if he was wrong, but if he was right...
Clark got his answer without even trying. On the way to the couch he tripped, and the hot coffee spilled on Peter. Peter jumped up and tried to get away, but Clark grabbed his hands. He could feel the heat of the coffee but Peter's hands weren't burned. "Are you okay?"
"I'm fine!" Peter tried to pull his hands away but Clark wouldn't let him go. He turned Peter's hands over and saw the raised white area on each wrist. Clark looked Peter in the eyes as he ran a finger over the area and a sticky substance shot out. It stuck to Clark's hands. He tried to shake it off but it held on like glue.
"It'll fall off on its own in a few minutes," Peter told him. He looked away. Clark knew what he was feeling right now. It was the same way he'd felt when Pete found out about his powers. Pete didn't understand keeping secrets like his.
Clark stared at Peter's wrists, thinking of all the things Spiderman could do. He could scale tall buildings, bend metal bars, swing from his own web. His strength surpassed that of any human. No one knew where Spiderman had come from, who he was. But Clark knew. Spiderman was Peter. A kid just like him who had developed superpowers overnight.
Clark looked up at Peter. He could tell Peter was scared. Peter was thinking he'd freak out or tell him to leave or call him a mutant. But Clark wouldn't do any of those things. And there was only one way to show Peter that he understood.
Clark picked up a piece of notepaper and held it in front of his eyes. Peter was very confused until Clark used his heat vision to burn the paper. Peter followed the flame as it engulfed the paper until Clark extinguished it with his hand.
"You're..." Peter shook his head. He didn't know what to say.
"I'm different." Clark locked his fingers with Peter's. "Just like you... Spiderman."
Peter lowered his head. "Please, don't call me that. I'm just Peter."
Clark smiled. "Okay. Peter."
They talked for hours. It was a wonderful thing, to know that there was someone else who was different in almost the same way. Clark told Peter everything. The story flowed from him, how he'd learned about his powers, the way new powers kept showing up, the friends he'd lost by running out when he had to save someone. Peter hadn't been born different, the way Clark had, but he gained his powers at about the same time Clark discovered his.
It was the most amazing day of Clark's life.
He learned more about Peter in one day than he'd learned about Chloe in five years of knowing her. He told Peter more about himself than he'd ever told anyone. By the end of the day they were chatting like old friends. Old, very close friends, the way Clark had his arm around Peter's shoulders.
Peter turned his head toward Clark. "Yeah?"
"Do you want to go out next week?"
Peter smiled shyly. "You mean like a date?"
"Yeah." Clark tightened his arm around Peter's shoulders. "A date."
"Okay," Peter said softly. Clark looked down into Peter's liquid brown eyes. Peter moved closer and lifted his face to Clark's. "You know, I think something was about to happen when I left last night."
"Me too." Clark placed his lips on Peter's, not really sure what to do next. He didn't have much experience with kissing, and the experience he did have was only with girls. They stayed that way until one of them moved. Neither was sure who moved first, but it didn't matter. All they knew was that the kiss started out slow and sweet and soon Peter's tongue was in Clark's mouth. Clark wrapped his arms around Peter and was glad to realize that he could hold tight without hurting him. Clark pulled away, breathing hard. "Wow."
"Yeah." Peter rested his head on Clark's chest. "Have you ever done that before?"
Clark shook his head, letting his chin rest in Peter's hair. Chloe didn't count. Neither did any of the other girls because they'd kissed him first. It had been one-sided, or else fueled by meteor rocks. Kryptonite, Clark reminded himself. "What about you?"
Peter sighed. "There was a girl." His voice was soft as he traced circles on Clark's knees. "Mary Jane Watson. I loved her my whole life."
"Before I had the courage to tell her how I felt, my best friend started going out with her. He said I waited too long. Then I was bitten by a radioactive spider and weird things started happening." He paused, and Clark knew he was thinking about his Uncle Ben's murder. Peter still blamed himself. "Do you know what it's like to watch your best friend take your whole life away? First Harry took MJ, then his father turned into the Goblin." He buried his face in Clark's shirt, wrapped his arm around Clark's waist. "I had to fight him. I wouldn't join him so he tried to kill me. He made me choose between MJ and a bus full of innocent kids. Whatever choice I made would have been wrong. I don't know how I did it, but I managed to save them all."
Clark ran his fingers through Peter's soft brown hair. "I'm sorry you had to make that choice." Peter shuddered in his arms.
"It's a choice no one should have to make. That's when I knew I couldn't afford to have any emotional attachments. My enemies would use the people I cared about to get to me. The life of one person I loved was more important than the lives of thirty people I didn't know. I couldn't do that to someone I loved. Or to anyone else. It's not fair to them."
"It's not fair to you either." Clark placed a gentle kiss on the top of Peter's head.
"I have the ability to save people. I choose to help them. I couldn't live with myself if I put another life in danger for something as selfish as love. I've already lost my uncle, put the girl I love in mortal danger, and killed my best friend's father to save my own worthless life. Harry hates Spiderman but he's still my best friend. And I can't tell him."
"Your life isn't worthless," Clark said quietly. "You're a good person."
Peter looked up. "So are you, Clark. It's so good to be able to talk about this with someone who understands. To talk to someone about it at all."
"I know." Clark slid his fingers under Peter's chin. "So where does that leave us?"
"I don't know." Peter leaned into Clark's touch, closing his eyes. "We both have secrets."
Clark smiled. "Not from each other."
~to be continued~