By Cheryl Helsing (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: After seeing the villain Jaxon posing as a glasses-less Clark Kent (in the episode "Virtually Destroyed"), Jimmy puts two and two together.
A note from the author: I would like to dedicate this story to Gail L. Not only is Gail the "Godmother of the Great Burbank FOLCfest, but she inspired me to write this story -- the first piece of fiction I have ever attempted. Right after the premiere of Virtually Destroyed, Gail wrote to us, "One problem - Jimmy got a very long look at Jaxon-as-CK without glasses in the virtual world. He couldn't miss it, it was just too obvious. How can Jimmy be so clueless that he isn't going to know now that CK=S?" Well, Gail, in my version of the L&C world, Jimmy wasn't so clueless! I sat right down and wrote this...
(and thanks, also, Gail for the great editorial advice)
"I really enjoy video games, but I wouldn't want to go through that again anytime soon," said Jimmy, pouring a cup of coffee. "That Jaxon guy really put the screws to us," he said.
Jimmy and Clark headed back to Jimmy's desk. "Jimmy, what you did in that virtual reality world was incredible. Lois would still be in there now if you hadn't been able to bring Superman in."
Jimmy sat down. He examined his coffee cup, glanced at Clark, then examined his coffee cup some more, seemingly making a decision. "C.K., I noticed something strange while in Jaxon's virtual world."
"Yeah, what?" Answered Clark.
"While Superman was trying to find a way to get enough power to get control of Jaxon's virtual world, I broke into Lois' apartment to buy time. Jaxon's virtual character was there, threatening her." Jimmy looked back at Clark, intently. "But instead of that big bully, he looked like you!"
"Really..." Clark said, nervously clearing his throat.
"It was weird. I tried to fake him out, to make him think I could demolish him."
Clark laughed lightly. "I can just imagine..."
Jimmy stood up, moving closer to Clark and shoving his hands in his pockets. His voice dropped, so only the two of them could hear.
"The thing is, while I was challenging your virtual double, I noticed something strange. You see, he wasn't wearing your glasses. I had just left Superman, and ..." Jimmy hesitated, looking meaningfully at Clark, "A lot of things that never made sense before kinda fell into place for me. Do you know what I'm saying? "
Clark half-turned from Jimmy and paused a moment. He inhaled, then exhaled. With an air of resolve, he turned back and said gently, "Yeah, I have an idea what you're leading up to." Clark paused, then directed his gaze directly into Jimmy's eyes. "Jimmy, you have to know that I consider you a good friend. I would trust you with my life." He paused, adding meaningfully, "I would never lie to you unless I thought it was necessary to protect you."
Jimmy looked down, casting his eyes anywhere but in the direction of his friend. He spoke haltingly, "Clark, you have to know that I'd do anything for you and Lois. We don't have to talk about this anymore. Just know -- in a pinch -- I'll always come through."
Clark raised his hand to Jimmy's shoulder, clasping it briefly in a gesture of friendship and understanding as their eyes met in an unspoken agreement.
"What's shaping up for the front page?" thundered Perry, approaching from his office with a full head of steam.
Lois Lane balanced her bag of groceries while digging through her purse in search of keys. "I'm really looking forward to a calm, quiet evening after all we've been through," she remarked.
"Me too," said Clark, waiting as Lois unlocked the multiple locks on her apartment door. "Let's hope we can just settle in and enjoy our take-out in peace and quiet."
The last lock turned, and Lois swung the door open. "At least we can put this episode behind us. With Jaxon's body in a locked sanitarium and his mind who-knows-where, we can probably forget about him."
Clark walked past Lois to put the Chinese take-out down on her kitchen counter. He started pulling cartons out of the bag. "You know, I had a funny discussion with Jimmy about that today." Egg rolls joined slippery shrimp on the counter.
Lois tossed her purse and jacket down on a nearby chair. She joined Clark in the kitchen. "Oh really?" she responded. "Tell me about it."
"Well, it was about what happened in the virtual world. You know, Jimmy risked his life to help me rescue you," Clark said as the last container --fiery kung pao chicken -- joined the rest of their dinner on the counter.
Lois sat down at the kitchen table. She shook her head, forcing back the memories as they came flooding back. She could hardly believe that even a computer genius could create an imaginary place where real people could be held captive, where Superman had no powers. She understood why Clark came back for her, took the chance, but Jimmy... "He's quite a kid."
"You said it," Clark answered. "He went into that virtual world, knowing there was a chance he'd never come out."
Lois pulled out plates and silverware. "Well, don't keep me waiting -- what did you two talk about?"
Clark looked at Lois, busy dishing out food. He waited until she turned to look at him. "He's put two and two together, much as another star reporter I happen to know did, about Clark Kent and Superman."
Lois opened her mouth but no sound came out. Putting down her serving spoon, she sat down and tried again. "Clark, how did that happen?"
"Those darned glasses," Clark half-heartedly chuckled. The Jaxon-as-Clark character wasn't wearing them. Jimmy had just been with Superman and when he broke through that door he found himself staring at the same face."
Both Lois and Clark fell silent for a moment, considering the possibilities.
Clark spoke again. "He only said enough to let me know he'd figured out I was Superman. He also said that he'd always come through for us. Like I didn't already know. Then Perry interrupted. When I had a chance to talk to him again, he was gone."
"Wow... How do you feel about him knowing?" asked Lois.
"I trust him, but I worry about him like I worry about you. I keep wondering if there's any way I can put the genie back into the bottle..."
"...and keep him safe?" prodded Lois.
"Yeah. It's scary -- but at the same time I'm glad he's guessed. Clark picked up the serving spoon and resumed dishing out food. "It would be nice to have a guy friend I could talk to sometimes."
Clark focused his heat vision on the two plates briefly, then handed the two steaming plates to Lois, who put them on the table. "So, what're you going to do now?" Lois asked.
"I guess I need to talk to him," Clark responded. "Here, have some mu shu pork while it's hot."
The Monday morning staff meeting was in full swing. Perry was loaded for bear because of a string of scoops the competition had pulled off. As he castigated his stable of investigative reporters, a police bulletin hit the airwaves. Superman's hearing tuned into the alert at the same time that Perry was urging the troops to greater levels of journalistic excellence.
"All points bulletin! Hostage situation! All available units to the Hudson Building, corner of Hudson and 35th Avenue."
Jimmy Olsen noticed Clark angle his head toward an unseen speaker. He had a pretty good idea what was happening.
"Chief, excuse me, I just remembered I have to get to the bank when it opens..." Clark began.
Lois leaned forward, intending to bolster Clark's statement. Before she could open her mouth, Jimmy jumped up. "Chief, you are absolutely right! We haven't applied ourselves. I'm certain that we can do better, am I right guys?" With that, Jimmy gestured to all the remaining reporters around the table. One by one, they each grudgingly gave their assent. Nobody noticed as Clark Kent slipped away...
Later, the elevator doors opened. Clark Kent entered casually, entering the hustle bustle of the Daily Planet, going at full tilt. Telephones rang, people shouted, copy boys rushed about. He glanced about, focusing in on Lois Lane as she badgered a source on the telephone. He made straight for her. Seeing his approach, she cut off the conversation with, "I can't believe you don't have more than that -- call me back when you've got something to talk about."
As Clark approached, Jimmy Olsen cut across the news room with a handful of proof sheets. Clark shifted his direction to intercept. Jimmy halted in surprise as Clark loomed in front of him. "Oh, hi, C.K."
"Jimmy, we need to talk. Join me in the conference room?" Without waiting for an answer, Clark led the way to the conference room as Lois watched. Waiting for Jimmy to follow him into the room, Clark closed the door and turned to face his young friend.
"Thank you for helping me get away from the staff meeting, Clark began.
"Sure thing," Jimmy answered.
"You said we didn't have to talk about this, but I think I owe you some straight answers," Clark began. "First of all, I *am* Superman," he said with a steady gaze into his friend's eyes.
Jimmy exhaled slowly, shaking his head. "I figured it had to be true, but it's incredible..."
Outside the glass conference room walls, people rushed back and forth. Inside, it was quiet. "I maintain two identities so I can have a normal life, and to shield the people closest to me from danger," Clark explained. "You and Lois are the only two people who know, other than my parents."
The conference room door opened to admit a slight figure. "Can I join in?" said Lois, opening the conference room door.
"Jimmy and I were just having a little open discussion about secret identities," offered Clark.
"Ah, a very interesting subject, I can attest," offered Lois.
"Yeah -- now I finally understand how you got over your crush on Superman and fell in love with C.K.!" interjected Jimmy.
"Actually, that happened before I figured out the truth. Clark has many wonderful qualities beyond being able to bend steel bars and see through walls," Lois giggled. "Jimmy, I'm glad you know," Lois added, turning serious. Laying a hand on Jimmy's arm, Lois added, "sometimes it's been really hard... now at least there's one person in Metropolis I can talk to when Clark's shutting down runaway nuclear reactors or dismantling armies of robotic warriors."
"Just as long as you two don't gang up on me!" Clark interjected, eyes sparkling with amusement.
Jimmy turned to the couple and stood with his hands at his side, palms facing out. "I meant it when I said I'd do anything for you guys. Your secret is safe," Jimmy said, turning serious. "You can trust me."
"I know," Clark answered, glancing at Lois, "We know." Clark extended his hand. Jimmy reached out to clasp it. Lois rested her hand lightly on top of the two mens'.
* Not the End - *