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|�Yes indeed, Jimmy,� the old woman chuckled. �You were right about my powers. Sorry you had to find out about my grandson�� she spat ��the hard way. Nicely done, though, Dan�..he has no idea who you two are, nor why he caused all those accidents � he�s just confessing left and right to doing them. A nice touch on the �chicken� part as well.�
�Matilda, what�s going on?� Jim asked. �Why didn�t Dan change back when he took off the ring?�
The crone smiled. �Well, Jim, I think it�s trying to tell you something. She shook her finger at him, part warning, part playfully. �Before today, Jim, you thought the ring and its power were in the way of your happiness � that it was a responsibility that you had to bear because it kept you from getting close to others. As a result, it never gave you its power completely � and, when you took it off today, it separated itself � because it thought you didn�t want it.�
Jim hung his head. �Yeah��I guess I did. When I first wore it�it gave me what I�d wanted my entire life. But�but I couldn�t tell anyone�or at least thought I couldn�t�.and it became more and more of a burden.� He sighed. �I wanted so much to be Superbear�.but I thought being Superbear was getting in the way of being Jim.�
�Exactly,� Matilda said, shaking her head sympathetically. �Dan�s only thought when he put on that ring was that he�d do anything to save your life.� She shot a sidewise grin at me. �Of course, the fact that it tied in nicely with what HE wouldn�t even admit to himself � about wanting to be a hero � helped quite a bit. At any rate, the ring�s given him what he wants � the power to help you and others, permanently.�
�But�.this means I�m��
�Yes you are, Dan,� Matilda chuckled. �The ring has given you its power completely; I suggest you wear it because it does have a lovely costume change spell that you�ll find quite convenient, but otherwise, you�ll be super with it on or off � you no more need it than you do to eat broccoli three meals a day.� She looked at me again. �But there�s another matter -- how many rings are you holding, Dan?�
�One, I �� I stared dumbfounded as I opened my hand�..the ring�.it�s separated into TWO�.each with a bear on it�
�Exactly,� Matilda smiled. �Two rings. Remember, it knows what you really want; I think it means that you are meant to work as a pair.� She turned towards him. �The choice is yours. You�re free to be Jim without having to worry about Superbear, or you can have back the power, and accept the responsibility � but it seems you�ll have help.�
He looked at me�.his eyes misty again. �Dan�..I don�t know�.it�s always been hard for me�..but�.if we do it together��
�Always and forever, Jimmy,� I smiled, sliding the first ring onto my finger and holding out the second. �The offer I made this morning still stands.�
He smiled back at me, his eyes alight�..in one quick motion, he took the ring from my hand and slid it on his finger�..and in a flash, he stood proudly before me again as Superbear.
Matilda giggled, obviously pleased with herself. �Looks like my work here is done. I hope San Francisco is ready for�� she paused dramatically �-- Superbear AND Supercub.�
�If they aren�t, they�d better get that way,� Jimmy growled, flexing his muscles. He looked warmly at her. �Thank you, Matilda. I�m sorry I didn�t realize how wonderful the gift was � or�� he looked over at me ��just what it would add to my life.�
�You�re welcome, Jim,� she said, her form rapidly fading. �Now get out there and enjoy what you have � and each other.� She dissolved into nothingness.
Jim looked over at me, grinning. �Come on�..Supercub.� He lifted off, flying through the tunnel, then upward into the rapidly-darkening sky�..I followed behind, pulling abreast, his hand reaching out to grab mine as we streaked towards the Golden Gate�..his arm around my back as we touched down gently on the top of the first tower of the bridge. Off to one side, the sun sank over the horizon into the vast expanse of the Pacific�.to the other, the lights of San Francisco were twinkling in the hazy darkness.
He held me close�..we gently kissed�..then he moved around behind me, his arms around my chest, our capes flapping in the sea breeze. �I�ve come up here often�.to think�.to dream�.but I never could share it with anyone else.� He gestured down there�.then off into the distance. �The whole world is your oyster, Supercub�..if you want to leave, I can�t and won�t stop you. But I�m hoping that��� he squeezed me tight�.�you�ll stay here�..with me.�
I snuggled back into his hard chest, laughing as a plane launched itself from SFO, exhaust trails burning a bright contrail into the night, peering through its hull and seeing an empty seat 11D. �Well, since that�s my flight leaving�.I think you�ve got me whether you want me or not.� I turned and looked at those incredible eyes, shining through the mask. �But I know you do want me�.and I want you. Superbear AND Jimmy�..Supercub AND Dan��partners in crimefighting and�.partners in life.�
He grinned��and our lips met again in a passionate kiss, high above the city�.hugging each other tightly, feeling our bulges press against each other��then leaping off into the night sky, headed towards the bright lights of the city�.and our home.
I stood in the bright sunlight, watching the traffic zip by on Van Ness, nervously shifting from foot to foot�.letting out a sigh of relief as I saw Jim walking briskly towards me, motioning; I followed him back into the alley.
He grinned. �Were you worried?�
�A bit,� I shot back, planting a kiss on him, feeling his furry goatee rub mine. �When you�re running late, I always wonder what natural disaster is happening and if you need my help.�
�Well, this disaster was man-made � I couldn�t find a parking spot,� he laughed. �But maybe Supercub could have helped move a few cars over a bit.�
�Yeah, yeah, didn�t I get a lecture about �abusing your power� a few weeks ago?� I hugged him.
His lips quirked. �Moving a car or two to help your husbear park is one thing. Giving the jerk who dumped that kid in front of you at the beer bust four flat tires is another.� He pulled me a bit closer. �Milan was convicted today on all counts. The jury said he was a �sociopath, a murderer, and a stain on society�. He�s going for life. Oh, and--� �Jim laughed ��he had a GAY prosecutor. The judge had to censor him numerous times for, and I quote, �attempting to imitate a rooster in the courtroom�.�
�Thank goodness for small favors,� I smiled wanly.
He pulled me a bit closer, his smile tender, his eyes warm. �Are you nervous, sweetie?�
�Yeah, I am � I just, this is a big deal, I�m not sure what to say����
�No need to worry, cub � you�ll do great, I know you will.� He looked at his watch. �OK, showtime � do you know where you�re going?�
�Yes, dear,� I chuckled. �I�ll see you in a few minutes.�
He grinned, stepping back�..in a flash, his clothes transformed into his Superbear costume��and with a step and a leap, he shot off into the sky.
I smiled�.god, that is so sexy when he does that�.then concentrating, I felt my shirt and pants reshape themselves�.and with a leap, Supercub headed to the clouds. Off I flew, over to the port where the sculpture had just been taken off the ship���.bracing underneath it, I lifted the twenty-ton work easily onto my shoulders and flew off towards the sparkling dome of City Hall, my ears picking up the miles-away addresses, honing in on the podium with my telescopic vision.
Superbear smiled, looking at the crowd. �Thank you for that wonderful introduction, Mayor. Ladies and gentlemen, it is truly my pleasure to be representative today � not only of the gay community, but of all the citizens of San Francisco � as we dedicate our new monument to diversity. This signifies what we as a city hold dear � that regardless of who you are, what you do, or who you love, you are part of the rich tapestry that is this city.� He looked towards the sky. �And now, to reveal the monument, I�d like to ask someone very special to me to bring it to us. My friends and neighbors, I�d like to introduce my new partner � Supercub.�
Easily, gently, I dropped out of the sky, hearing the gasps of the crowd as I landed, then gently lowered the monument to its pedestal�..fusing it to the mounting bolts with a few quick blasts of heat vision�..then standing back, walking to the podium�..my heart beating fast as Superbear came up behind me, grinning as he slid his hand behind my cape and onto my butt.
�Hello, folks�..I�m Supercub, and yes, I am Superbear�s partner. As a resident of San Francisco, I am in awe of the city�.its history, its culture, its people�..and I promise you that both Superbear and I will do our best to protect and serve you, its citizens. Thank you.�
The Mayor came up�.�Well�.this is certainly a surprise�.but�.on behalf of the city of San Francisco, we welcome you, Supercub�and�� he looked at Superbear ��..are glad that you two are together.� He smiled. "If I still had the power to do it, I'd offer to marry you....but.....you may....."
Superbear and I turned and kissed as the crowd cheered wildly.
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