Enter Peter Parker
16 Years Later...
"So, I suppose it is up to you to make the judgement, class. Was Henry VIII a powerful soldier-king who created an unparalleled military strength? Or was he a maniac despot given to throwing almighty tantrums if not appeased?" the teacher's drawling and monotone voice carried on. A young black boy, fifteen years of age, raised his hand and quickly drew the teacher's attention. "Yes, Mr. Parker?" the teacher said in a more enthusiastic tone.
"Is it safe to argue that perhaps Henry VIII was both? There are some points in history where rulers act out of their own selfish desires rather than for the good of their people," Peter said. There was a contemptuous scoff from the back of the class room. Peter knew the sound of the voice and waited for his characteristic response.
"Parker, shut up!" The loud and obnoxious voice of Midtown High School's star athlete, Flash Thompson, carried across the room. Interestingly enough, his real name was actually Flash. This led to several private debates about what kind of drug his mother was on at the time of his naming. Peter turned to face his ever present adversary and constant bully. Flash was about eight inches taller than him, making him a staggering six feet, four inches and he was built like a bodybuilder who valued his appearance more than he valued anybody or anything else at an impressive 225 pounds. Peter on the other hand was a scrawny 130 lbs and only stood 5'8. And to add to all of that, Peter was asthmatic and bespectacled. Anything physical was most definitely not his strong suit.
On cue, the bell rang and Peter quickly gathered his things and headed out of the classroom. He could hear the jeers of the jocks as they conjoined with Flash as he walked down the hall, tailing Peter.
"Hey, Parker! Next class is gym!" Flash shouted. Peter narrowed his eyes.
Physical Education...Peter thought irritably as he continued down the hall with more energy in his step. Hopefully, surviving this next class would seal the pressures of-
The next thing Peter felt was a size 12 Adidas Superstar colliding with his backside, sending him plummetting towards the floor headfirst. Peter grabbed his glasses as fast as he could before he hit the ground and lifted them up as high as possible as to avoid them breaking. It was a well practiced procedure that had saved him several trips to the optometrist. The culprits, Flash Thompson and the team's starting kicker, Jason Ionello, guffawed in laughter as Peter held his rear as he lifted himself from the floor.
"My God! Jason, that was probably the best field goal you've ever kicked, man!" Flash laughed loudly. Matt nodded in mock humility, his dreads shaking up and down.
"Why thank you, Mr. Thompson. Your playcall was a thing of beauty," Jason replied. Peter glared at the two with nothing but anger and contempt, mostly at his inability to do nothing. He didn't have the fighting skills or the endurance to carry on a physical conflict. All he could do was stand there and take it.
"You guys are friggin' assholes!" a female voice shouted from the crowd. Peter recognized the voice immediately and turned to see his next door neighbor and longtime best friend, Mary Jane Watson. The short and stunningly beautiful vanilla skinned girl stepped in front of Peter, her black hair highlighted with a deep red tone, dropping to her shoulders. Peter took in the chance to gather himself. After all, he was very nearly being mooned by his best friend. Flash laughed.
"Aw, isn't that just adorable! Parker's getting protected by a female!" Flash said. MJ's frown deepened.
"Why don't you go suck on a goal post?" MJ responded angrily. Flash grinned deviously.
"Why don't you come suck on this..." Flash started. Peter watched as MJ crossed the distance between the two within moments and as she readied herself to slap the urine from Flash's bladder.
"Enough!" a commanding voice shouted, nearly clearing the halls with his bellowing tone. The shout came from none other than the principal. "If you delinquents don't haul your butts to class, you will be suspended! Get it going!" he shouted. MJ narrowed her eyes at Flash and quickly turned away. Peter picked himself up and followed after her. When they were far enough down the hallway, MJ spoke.
"Why do you let those jerks mess with you like that, Peter?" she asked, looking up at him with her dazziling and rare green eyes. Peter's heart raced slightly but he gathered himself and spoke.
"It's not like I can do anything against them," Peter replied.
"You could stand up for yourself!" MJ retorted. Peter shook his head.
"You know I can't. I can barely run a lap around the gym, let alone win a fight with that neanderthal," Peter said. MJ shook her head.
"You have to at least show them you won't stand for their crap...somehow," MJ responded. Peter nodded, somewhat in agreement and partially to move on from the subject.
"I wonder how Liz would've responded if you slapped Flash?" Peter said. MJ shrugged in contempt.
"I really don't care about that phony broad. She's been talking about me behind my back since freshman year then coming in my face and pretending she's my friend," MJ said shaking her head. Peter stopped and thought for a while as he looked at MJ. What could Liz possibly say about MJ?
"What does she say?" Peter asked, scratching his head nervously. MJ sighed.
"What some people have been saying for a while. My parents. The alcoholic and deadbeat father and the crack addict mother. She's the one that spreads all that information out after I've told her in confidence," MJ said shaking her head. Peter immediately felt for her and contemplated his next action. A show of affection, perhaps? A hug should do it. Peter reached out for MJ, who looked up at him and smiled. The two embraced and Peter sighed softly as his heart raced again. It almost made getting kicked in the rear worth it.
"Parker! For God's sake, I said RUN a lap, not WALK a lap!" the gym instructor roared at the top of his lungs at the exhausted and hyperventilating Peter as he rounded the last corner of the basketball court. Peter was the last person left "running" but everybody waited patiently as they conversed amongst each other. The gym instructor slapped his forehead and he groaned. "Parker! MOVE IT!" he screamed. Peter frowned at the coach's impatience but he pushed himself to move forward and he broke into a sprint and finished the lap. The coach shook his head. "Parker, you're lucky the grading system is based on effort and participation and not actual talent. Otherwise, you'd be failing," the coach said.
With that, the tone sounded, causing a sigh of relief to lift among the students as they headed to the locker room. Peter headed towards his locker and quickly grabbed his bag and headed outside. Peter searched among the masses for MJ, so that they could walk home together.
"Peter!" she called, waving her hand near the school's exit area. Peter waved back and ran towards her. MJ smiled at him and began to walk.
"So...how was the lap running this time?" MJ asked. Peter sighed.
"Same as always. I sprint the first turn, walk the rest of the way, while ignoring the incessant insults from the coach," Peter said. MJ laughed a bit.
"Well, maybe I can help with physical conditioning?" she asked. Peter ran his hands atop his hair.
"I don't think so. It's bad enough you were the only one to jump to my aid today. I feel helpless enough," Peter admitted. MJ scoffed playfully.
"Well, since Harry's gone, someone's got to step up for you," MJ replied. Peter nodded. He remembered Harry fondly.
Harry Osborn was the son of famed and wealthy bio-technician Norman Osborn and one of Peter's few real friends. Harry, despite his immense riches and near instantaneous popularity, found it difficult to fit in with such a different environment. The private schools he had attended prior to Midtown had been predominantly white, so a mostly minority filled school for him was a culture shock. Peter had gained some interest from Harry's father after he showed some aptitude for his field of work. Peter also gained even greater favor when he helped prepare Harry for his AccuPlacer exam, which Harry passed with flying colors. He then became the first person to be accepted to Empire State University from Midtown. Not only was he a friend of Peter's, Harry was like the older brother he had always wanted.
"I guess that's somewhat of a decent excuse to come to my aid," Peter said with a smirk. MJ nodded.
"Sure it is. Besides, you're the only friend I have that hasn't once said anything bad about me," MJ said. Peter struggled with trying to bring his thoughts into words.
Because there isn't anything bad about you, Mary. Peter thought as he tried to form it on his lips.
"Peter! Welcome home!" a voice called from the front porch. Peter turned and saw his Uncle Ben. Uncle Ben was a 45 year old Gulf War veteran whose gentle appearance covered the heart and soul of an experienced soldier. Peter loved his uncle with all his heart. He had been there for him since he could remember. However, he wished that his uncle would've not been outside.
"Hey, Uncle Ben. How are you?" Peter asked. Uncle Ben smiled and nodded.
"I'm doing fine. Hey there, Mary Jane. How are you?" Uncle Ben called to MJ. The redhead smiled and nodded.
"I'm doing good, Mr. Ben. Glad to see you're up and about," MJ said with a smile.
"That's good. That's good. Tell your aunt that I said 'Hello', please," Uncle Ben asked. MJ smiled.
"Yes sir. Bye Peter," MJ said as she walked towards her aunt's house. Peter watched as she walked away and sighed. Uncle Ben chuckled softly.
"I've heard that sigh before. Your father did that when he first saw your mother," Uncle Ben said looking up at Peter with his classic grin. Peter smiled at the mention of his parents and then softly sighed.
"Is Aunt Mae home?" Peter asked. Uncle Ben rose from his seat and walked in the house. Peter followed him as he spoke.
"Yes, she's upstairs resting. We had a nice little walk around Central Park, enjoying the sunlight and nature," Uncle Ben said. Peter set his bookbag down and sat down on the couch.
"Well, I spent my day in the marijuana-scented halls of Midtown, trying to learn without catching a secondhand high and attempting to do better in my P.E. class," Peter said, completely avoiding the incident with Flash. Uncle Ben sat as well and leaned forward.
"So, how's that jockstrap, Flash Thompson? You two make ammends yet?" Uncle Ben asked. Peter looked down and then looked up again quickly.
"It's in the works, I suppose," Peter lied. Uncle Ben chuckled softly.
"That's my nephew. The little diplomat. Your father was something of a diplomatic man himself," Uncle Ben said.
"More of a scientist," Peter said, reflecting on the stories he had heard from his Aunt Mae. Uncle Ben smiled.
"Well, if you can last until your 16th birthday tomorrow, I'll tell you some things about your father that you would have never imagined," Uncle Ben said. Peter smiled and stood up, the pain in his rear still bothering him.
"Thanks, Uncle Ben. I think I'll follow Aunt Mae's lead and go upstairs and take a nap as well," Peter said. Uncle Ben waved his approval.
"Go ahead. I'm going to see what's going on in the world today." Uncle Ben said as he turned on CNN. Peter headed up to his room and dropped his bookbag on the floor as he laid down. He hated lying to Uncle Ben, but he had to so that he wouldn't worry. After all, MJ was there to help. Despite how much of horribly unmasculine plan it was, he would stick to it for now. At the thought of MJ, he smiled widely as he began to drift off into a deep sleep.
"Sixteen years...SIXTEEN DAMN YEARS!" a man screamed angrily. The men sitting at the conference table nodded in agreement.
"We understand, Mr. Osborn. You aren't the only one keeping tabs on the passing time," one man said. Norman Osborn rubbed his temples and sighed.
"We've been searching longer than that for the "Captain". I've sent well paid covert spies to try and infiltrate the S.H.I.E.L.D. database for more than that time and every time, our agents are either terminated or captured. We don't even know if they've come up with some kind of prototype copy of the super soldier serum that actually works yet!" Norman shouted. Again, the heads nodded.
"We understand, Mr. Osborn. But you have to understand that S.H.I.E.L.D. is a sanctioned covert/paramilitary division of the United States Military. They have access to any and all files or projects done by the United States Military," another man said.
"They've only been officially sanctioned for three years, all thanks to that bastard Fury," Norman replied.
"Well, Mr. Osborn, we do have one suspicious story that we hope you might consider looking into," one man said. Norman waved it forward.
"What is it?" he asked. The man in the shadows slid a folder down the table and Osborn grabbed it into his hand, reading as the man talked.
"It appears about sixteen years ago, a woman died after giving birth to her premature son subsequent to taking a dosage of the hospital's steroids. However, it appears that those "steroids" were in fact an adrenal gland and protein consumption enhancing mixture, reminiscent of the early drafts for the Serum," the man explained. Norman continued to read through the report and then frowned.
"Who was this woman?" he asked.
"Mary Parker...wife of Richard Parker," the man replied. Norman paused and then reclined in his chair. The answer to his problem had been under his nose, in his home, tutoring his son...
"Then...I know very well where our possible first human subject is," he said before turning towards the others. "Send a special ops team in to seize the boy. Bring him back, dead or alive, for dissection," Norman said.
"Target's name and location, Mr. Osborn?"
"His name is Peter Parker and he lives in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. If we capture him, we'll have our first human subject at our disposal," Norman said as a devilish grin crossed his face.