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|The last fading streaks of sunset glistened off the waters of the East Bay as I stared towards Oakland, my back against the concrete spire of the Transamerica Pyramid, my mind stripped bare and bleeding as I whipped myself over and over internally for being idiotic, dumb, arrogant, pompous, selfish, and just plain stupid.
I heard the gentle thud of boots landing behind me. “Hi sweetie,” came Superbear’s rich tones over the hum of traffic below as he walked along the ledge towards me, his hands coming down on my shoulders. “How are you doing?”
“Just peachy,” I sighed. “I singlehandedly set four bashers loose on a city full of gays while sending a mixed-up teenager they were tormenting to jail. At the rate I’m going, I’ll be the next commencement speaker at Liberty University.”
“Supercub, you can’t blame yourself. You know very well that—‘
“Because I said those bullies didn’t deserve to live, Eddie set them up to be fried like bugs in a zapper of his own invention,” I tossed back bitterly. “You were right. I’m just a cub who’s still getting used to his powers – and maybe I shouldn’t have them, as irresponsible and stupid as I’ve --.”
“Stop right there,” Superbear growled, encircling me in his powerful grip. He held me close as I bent over, my head on his pecs, feeling tears of frustration drip down, fall onto their furry shelves. “There, there, calm down, my little one.”
“Superbear…I…” I sniffled…”I almost killed five people today, just ‘cause I couldn’t keep my mouth shut. I said people didn’t deserve to live, and someone took me up on it. Heroes don’t do that. How could I do something so wrong and stupid and still call myself one?”
“The key word there, Supercub,” said Superbear, leaning over and stroking my copper buzzcut, “is ‘almost’. Yes, what you said was wrong and stupid, and I think you know that – maybe too well. But had you not gone in and taken care of things like you did, five people WOULD have died.” He hugged me closely. “Sweetheart, all super powers aside, you and I are still human. We screw up, we make mistakes, we learn from them.”
“Who’s learning what from this, Superbear?” I whined, pulling away from his grasp, turning back to the city, focusing in on where I knew Eddie’s house was. “Right now I’m up here in one piece, free as a bird with the man I love, four sick kids are walking the streets beating up gays for the hell of it, one of those gays is in the county jail, away from his family and—“ I stopped stock still, not believing what I saw.
“That’s what I came up here to tell you,” Superbear said, chuckling, coming up behind me and wrapping his thick hairy forearms around my chest as I stared down at the scene before me. He kissed the back of my neck softly. “Are you surprised to see Eddie at home, having supper?”
“Yeah…..I thought…..they put him in the cruiser, they—“
“Took him to the local station, NOT the Hall of Justice, on Detective Nielson’s orders,” said Superbear, rubbing up and down my stomach. “Then they released him to his parents after the District Attorney’s office called.” He smiled as I turned towards him, my jaw dropping. “You have a way with words, cub. Both she and the DA were quite impressed – especially the DA -- that you were so willing to vouch for Eddie.”
“I….I just told them the truth about what happened……and that I believed in him.”
“And that was all it took, Supercub,” Superbear spoke gently. He looked into my eyes. “Eddie’s still going to have to work off what he did, but because of you, he’s getting only community service. The bullies, according to the Detective, were even more amazed that YOU helped THEM, after all they’d done.” A fatherly smile crossed his features. “You made a difference today, Supercub – and I’m proud of you.”
“I….thanks sweetie…it just didn’t seem that way,” I stammered, flustered.
“It was though, Supercub,” Superbear murmured as he hugged me again. “Sometimes what’s right isn’t easy, nor does it feel good…..but it’s always right. You ARE a hero…because you did what was right.” He looked over my shoulder, his smile broadening. “Meanwhile, judging by the amount of cussing coming from the engine room over yonder, methinks the ferry heading to Treasure Island is in need of a bit of assistance. How about you do some of the boat pushing for a change?”
“I think that sounds like just the job for Supercub,” I growled, hitting a double-biceps, then lifting off. Hovering horizontally, I kissed Superbear, feeling his steely-hard lips go soft as we came together, his tongue gently brushing mine. “Thanks, beautiful. I needed that.”
“You also need supper,” Jimmy laughed, wagging his finger playfully at me. “One more good deed for the day, and then I expect you home. Your dinner will get cold.”
“Yes sir!” I said, streaking off into the sky, chuckling as I shot low over the waves.
“Got everything you need, Eddie?”
“Yeah Supercub,” Eddie said hesitantly as he closed the gate behind him, looking down at his shoes. “I – I’m sorry about what I said. About you being just like those guys and all. Thank you for sticking up for me with the police and everything.”
“Apology accepted, Eddie,” I said warmly, shaking his hand. “Now come on. We’ve got a ways to walk and I –“
“Hey….Supercub….” came another voice from behind us. I saw Eddie stiffen. Slowly I turned around….to see three of the bullies, the redhead, the sallow one, and the linebacker-build staring at us.
“Hello, gentlemen,” I said coolly, looking from eye to eye. “What can I do for you today?”
“We….uh….saw you over here and wanted to ask you something,” the redhead spoke tentatively.
They stared at each other….shuffling their feet, almost as if they were embarrassed….finally the linebacker-build spoke. “Why’d you do that?”
“Um….reading minds isn’t exactly on my list of powers, guys. Why’d I do what?”
“Why….why didn’t you just let him kill us?” the sallow one spoke. “You kicked our butts good the other day, and we beat him up again. He was going to get us back. Why did you stop him?”
“I didn’t let you beat him up. Why should I let him kill you?”
They paused, stunned. “But…but….you’re queer!” the redhead stuttered.
“Yup, I’m a card-carrying, man-kissing, “Will and Grace”-watching queer, with all the rights and privileges thereof,” I chuckled. “So?”
“B-but…..don’t queers have to stick together or something?”
I sighed. “Little lesson, guys. Being queer means only one thing, and that’s that you’re a guy who likes guys or a girl who likes girls. It doesn’t make you wear matched clothes, hate football, or drive a Mini Cooper – and it sure as heck doesn’t change what’s right and what’s wrong.”
I looked over at each of them. “You guys can bank on one thing. If anyone tries to beat you up, I’ll stop ‘em, just like I stopped you from beating up on Eddie. Queer, straight, doesn’t matter – it’s ALWAYS wrong to beat people up.” I started to walk away. “Come on, Eddie, let’s get going.”
“Hey….Supercub…..Eddie….wait,” the linebacker-build said.
I turned. “Yes?”
Slowly he and his buddies started to smile. “You…..you’re OK, Supercub. So are you, Eddie.”
I looked back at them. “Thanks guys. I appreciate that.” Reaching into my boot top, I tossed each of them a card. “Call me if you ever need any help.”
Eddie looked back incredulously as we walked away, the three teens looking down at their cards, then watching us head down the street with wondering expressions on their faces. “Supercub…..I don’t get it. You WANT them to call you? That just sounds….wrong.”
“Like a certain handsome bear once told me, Eddie,” I smiled, “sometimes doing what’s right isn’t easy, nor does it feel good…..but it’s always right.” I patted him on the back, then pointed at mine. “Now, jump aboard. I told Missy I was bringing her an expert in security system wiring, and she told me to have you at the Community Center at 9 AM or she’d take a piece out of my furry hide – and I do believe she could do it.”
He laughed as he clambered onto my back, holding on tightly as we lifted off into the clear morning sky.
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