By Rachel Madden <LnCSwing@AOL.COM>
Submitted November 1998
Summary: Lois and Clark deal with an overabundance of parents and villains.
Hey FoLCs!! How's it goin out there? Still coping with reruns? Me, too. Anyway, I have an interesting point that I believe has never been brought up. If it has, then I apologize to the person who brought up this point, but your story, poem, song, etc. has not been brought to my attention.
Anyway, before I start babbling again, my point that I've been ranting and raving about is "What if Clark's real parents, Jor-el and Lara (at least I think that's what her name is-I'm brain-dead tonight) had never died when Krypton blew up? Oh, say they were blown off into to space, never to return, but somehow managed to make it to Earth? I was wondering about that. If the Kryptonians seem a little weird this time, I'm sorry. I always thought that the Kryptonians were sort of like the Britains (and I hope that doesn't offend anyone), so they will probably sound a bit like the Britains, and act like the Britains.
I'll be using a couple of quotes from a number of seasons, and all of these characters belong to whomever they belong to. (I'm not trying to steal here.) If, perchance, one doesn't seem to understand part of this story, well….I don't blame you. I don't understand parts of it either. Oh, and one more note, sorry to all you mothers out there, but I seem to forget Jerome at some points in the story. But I guess that's what happens with Lois, Clark, Lex Luthor, *another* villian from New Krypton, *and* two new Strangers from Another Planet. Sorry, but I'm too lazy to change my little error.
I'll be staging some of this story in a specific part of Colorado, but I'm not all that educated on it (even though I live there). So pardon me if you see geographical errors, or any other kind for that matter. I've been working on this…gosh..a year now? And my writing style changed over that period of time, so the first part of the story is really bad and I'll leave the rest of it for you to decide. I went over it and revised a little, but I'll have to tell you, it didn't do much good. But I still hope you enjoy! So, without further ado ….
"Jor-El, how are we supposed to find him?"
"I don't know, Lara. But we'll find him somehow. We have to … our very lives depend on it…"
"Something smells good, honey. What is it?" asked an amused Clark Kent.
"I'm not telling. And besides, it was really supposed to be a surprise. You and your dadgum superpowers…." replied Lois.
"Hey, I can't help it. One really can't when something smells this good. And plus, I was only in the other room."
"Yeah, well, it doesn't smell *that* good. I'm not perfect at this thing they call 'cooking' yet. All I'm really good at in the kitchen is setting the smoke alarm off…"
"Well, if I can get one word in, I would say that everything you do is perfect…"
"…except for cooking."
"Hey!" Lois yelled accusingly, and slapped him on the arm. "Ouch!" she yelled again. "That hurt my hand like he-" Clark cut her off with a hand over her mouth.
"Ah-ah-ah," he said, and cocked his head over towards the baby monitor. "Not in front of Jerome." As if upon hearing his name, Jerome started crying loudly. Lois and Clark looked at each other and said "Your turn." simultaneously. They both waited for an answer from the other.
"…All right, I'll get him this time, but you're going to get him two times in a row next time, Clark Kent," Lois said.
"Yessssssss!" Clark said underneath his breath as Lois walked up the stairs.
"What was that?" Lois asked as she whirled around and almost fell down the steps.
Clark put on an innocent face. "What?"
"Clark, I didn't need super-hearing to hear *that.* Whatever you said, I mean."
"Oh," Clark said. To stall, he tried to walk backwards away from the staircase. But Lois walked down and grabbed him by his shirt collar. Clark squirmed nervously. What was she going to do to him?
"Well, Clark, you are one lucky guy. I'll punish you later. But I have to go take care of Jerome. Who, I might add, has been screaming his head off during all of this," Lois said with a wicked glint in her eye. And she went upstairs. Clark let out a huge sigh of relief. "Boy, what a night this is turning out to be…."
Lois and Clark had already figured out that parenthood was going to be a tough job. But still, they were obviously enjoying every minute of it. It was a good way to get out of work, too, unless they were on a big lead. When Lois had found out that she was pregnant, she was ecstatic. But she didn't tell Clark right away, because she was afraid of how he might react. She didn't build up enough guts to tell him until around her fourth month. But he surprised her by being very, very happy, and she was surprised even more by the fact that he wasn't egging her about resting and stuff like that. It wasn't, "Honey, sit down and rest, it's not good to be running around like this." or "Honey, are you tired? Why don't you eat another vegetable. It's good for the baby, you know." Clark simply kept quiet and figured that she could handle it herself. She was *very* grateful for this. By then, they had already told friends and family, and they were also good about leaving her alone, too. Except for Perry. He wasn't exactly a godsend during all of this. He wasn't as cautious as Clark was. Perry was keeping all the good stories from her, and was trying to get her to just sit down, relax, and write obituaries. Then, she wouldn't stand for it. Clark helped out a little when he told the Chief that she could take care of herself. And Lois was still not about to give in to Perry's suggestions. Perry started to order her to stop running around with her "dangling above the jaws of death" all the time. He said that she was acting like a chicken with its head cut off. And even Lois couldn't resist an order. Perry was only afraid for the baby. But during the last month or so of her pregnancy, Perry's orders were starting to come to her as a relief. Clark kept teasing and asking where the real Lois had gone, because the real Lois never gave in to something like being pregnant. But even she had to admit that pregnancy was taking its toll on her. All of those darn side effects!
The birth had gone surprisingly well, due to Lois' unusually strong will, and she was having one *super* baby. Luckily, it didn't show when Jerome was born. They had already chosen the name Jerome partly because it's Clark's middle name, and partly because it sounds a bit like Clark's birth-father's name, Jor-el. He was a big hit right from the start. There was a lot of cuddling, hand-shaking, back-slapping, words of congrats, and lots of requests to hold Jerome at first. But a little ways after the big event of the year, it was down to the last stragglers who never caught up with anything new going on. The gossip column had had a field day, but ads, obituaries, and food and movie critics took a little while to grasp on what was going on. This was the event that everyone had been waiting for to happen. The world's best investigative reporters, partners, best friends, husband and wife, and now parents! It was like a story out of a fairy tale! But now, Lois and Clark have a baby and their jobs to juggle at the same time, and putting their lives at peril *daily*, *and* having a child to take care of is not exactly the best combination. They had reputations to uphold. It couldn't just be everyday, "I have to take a break and change Jerome's diaper." or "I have to turn this in late because I have to feed Jerome" when they were in the middle of a front-page story. Of course it would get easier as Jerome got older, but for now … well … Lois and Clark did the only thing they could without breaking into other people's private lives. They did what they thought was best for the baby at this age. They hired a nanny.
It was awkward at first, because Jerome wasn't quite over breast-feeding, so Lois had to keep Jerome at the office for the first few days that they hired her, which Perry didn't exactly appreciate, what with Jerome starting to scream in the middle of a staff meeting, and sometimes, when the baby was home, Lois had to run off numerous times to feed him. But with a little bit of *super* help, she was able to feed him faster and be able to get back to the Planet without missing too much. She got frustrated at first, because she missed quite a few leads and breaking stories while she was at home, but she got over it, because Jerome was more important than her stories. But as you can imagine, it wasn't easy for Lois Lane to just accept something like that, and it still isn't. The nanny seemed kind of weird the first few days. Or in Lois and Clark's case, the first few *weeks.* Having a complete stranger come inside your house and take care of your only child is not something easily adjusted to. But the nanny was, and is, really nice. Her name was Mrs. Whitaker. She was an elderly, but not *too* elderly woman who lived four houses down from Lois and Clark. She loved children, and her own three grew up and started familes of their own some time ago. But Lois and Clark love her, and she seems to love them too, especially Jerome. It seems like that she could hold him all day without ever letting go. Lois and Clark almost have to pry her away from Jerome with a crowbar at the end of each day. She claimed that it had been way too long since she last held a baby.
Anyway, Lois and Clark's parents weren't too thrilled about them getting a nanny. But, in time, they adjusted to her. Ellen even had to admit they Mrs. Whitaker is just a harmless old lady who loves children.
"Morning, kids, how's our fine, young Junior doing?" Perry cared for Jerome as much as if he were his own grandson.
"Great, Chief, he's been doing better now that the stormy weather's clearing up," said Clark. "I never could figure out the effect rain and snow have on kids …"
"Good, good," said Perry absentmindedly. "Well, while you two were sound asleep last night, *some* of us were working." Perry pointed at Jimmy who was asleep on the couch near the coffee table. "And, unfortunately, Jimmy was a part of our latest story that occured last night"
"All right, Perry, don't leave us hanging on the edge here. What happened?"
"Oh, just a little break-in…"
"What!?" Lois and Clark exclaimed at the same time.
"Okay, okay, keep your pants on … Jimmy was here when someone broke in last night. Nothing was taken, thankfully, but Jimmy has a nice souvenir from a little rambling that went on…" He pointed at Jimmy's face. There was a dark black circle around his left eye. "A nice, big, shiner. But I wasn't here. You might wait until he wakes up … he'll probably be able to give you a better description on what happened."
"All right. Thanks, Chief."
"Did I hear something about me? Because I seem to be the topic of most of the conversations that are going on today, and you know me. Of course, I'll be able to help you out on any details that you might have happened to misunderstand."
"Thanks, Jimmy. Did we wake you up?" asked Clark.
"No, I woke up on my own. When you work in a newsroom, you can't lay about all day. There's work to be done."
"I think I like this boy …" said Perry. "Well, don't just stand there, get on with your story. You haven't even told *me* anything yet."
"Okay, okay, jeez … I was getting to that part. Anyway, I was wrapping up the night by finishing developing the pictures for the morning edition. All of a sudden, I hear this ruckus over by the window. I figured that it was a burglar, but obviously this guy didn't know that some employees stay at the office for the better part of the night working. He wasn't being very cautious about how much noise he was making. So, as soon as he gets inside, I slip behind the door and hide. Now, at this point I would like to remind you guys that I was absolutely terrified. I mean, wouldn't you be if you had been in my shoes? This guy—"
"Jimmy!" exclaimed Lois.
"All right, all right. Anyway, as I said before, I hid behind the door. When the guy passes me, I tackle him from behind and try to knock him out with a desk lamp that I had grabbed. But this guy was quicker than I gave him credit for. He flipped me over before I could hit him, and tried to make a run for it. But I grabbed him around the knees and he fell. He punched me in the eye, and I let go. You know…reflexes. He got away before I grab him again. I didn't get a good look at his face, but I can tell you guys that it wasn't my dad …"
"Well, Jimmy, we're glad to hear *that.* I'm sure that you will agree with me when I say that we're not really in the mood to go through another rendezvous like the last one with your dad right about now," said Clark.
"Ditto," said Lois.
"Yeah, well, Jimmy, why don't you go home? You need to get some ice on that eye of yours," said Perry.
"I'll have to disagree with you there, Chief. I'd rather stay here. An empty apartment gets boring after awhile."
"Whatever you say, son. I guess you deserve my respect today. But don't work your butt off like you did yesterday."
"Okay," replied Jimmy, as Perry walked away.
"Oh, but Jimmy," said Lois. " Why don't you run these notes down to the printing room. They're on that lizard and real estate scandal that was going on last week. Just tell them to print what I highlighted."
"Oh, come on, guys. I finally squirm a day-off out of the Chief, and now you guys are ordering me around. Jeez, what I wouldn't give to be a senior journalist right about now …" Jimmy murmured as he walked off.
"You are a sly one, Lois. I didn't even hear his catch phrase, 'You got it,' today," said Clark.
"Yeah, well, I guess that's what you do when Jimmy's exposed like that - what is it?" Clark had gotten The Look on his face.
'Shoot,' Clark thought. 'Can't I just have *one* uninterrupted day?'
"Car alarm. Gotta go. See you later, honey."
"What's this? A car alarm? You must be kidding. Usually, it's a "bank alarm" or "an alarm at Star Labs." But noooo. it's a car alarm this time!" Clark smiled back at her over his shoulder. He knew she was just teasing. But that led to something more dangerous…her babbling. "You know, there was a time where there weren't car alarms!" Lois continued with her tirade. "There should be no honking in this world! There's no honking! No honking, no car alarms! And if there aren't any car alarms, then my Boy Scout partner won't have to keep running off just because some old lady dies of a stupid heart attack, just because she stopped to rest on a stupid car that has a stupid car alarm on it! What in the hell is this world coming to?"
"Lois? Lois! What the samhill are you screaming about? Boy, if only Elvis could hear you going on and on about … what were you yelling about? Oh, yes, car alarms! If only Elvis could hear you going on and on about car alarms, I know what he would do. He would plaster you over the head with his guitar and call your mother! And if I'm correct, being lectured by your mother is far worse than being hit on the head by a guitar! So get your rear in gear, and get some ink on this front page! Get going!" Lois ran off. "Boy … you gotta love that girl …"
"Jor-El, is that him? Is that Kal-El?"
"Yes, Lara, that is him. Finally, we have found our son," Jor-El said, as his eyes welled up with tears. When he looked over at his wife, he noticed there were tears in Lara's eyes too.
"How will we talk to him, Jor? It's been such a long time. He probably won't even recognize us." Lara was softening up. She was starting to get emotional, something she didn't usually do.
"I don't know, Lara. But we must find a way. Remember that his and our lives are at stake. I would say the best way to approach him would be when he's at home…"
Later that night, Lois and Clark were getting ready to turn in for the night. Lois was downstairs watching the news, and Clark was upstairs putting Jeremy to bed. Jor-El and Lara were outside, hovering over the townhouse.
"Isn't that house a little too big for just one person, Jor?" asked Lara.
"Maybe the people of Metropolis pay him well. But I still can't figure out what he's doing. Flying around saving strangers' lives. And they're not even from his planet, for Trey's sake. And that ghastly costume! All those bright colors! I wonder what the "S" stands for?"
"I don't know. I remember that our clothes always had it stitched in them. Family arms? My mother or father never told me about it. And the government never told us what it stood for, either. Anyway, our son is being pretty noble … serving his country and all that. And besides, I rather like his costume. It shows off all of his … attributes."
"Sorry, honey. I may be married, but I'm not blind."
"Well, let's see what he's up to." Jor-El and Lara used their x-ray vision to look into the townhouse. As they were searching for him, Jor commented, "This bright yellow sun that these people have is very unique. These powers are extraordinary. But did you notice that no one else has these powers? It must be just for Kryptonians- look! There he is! But what is he doing?"
"It looks like he's holding … a baby?" answered Lara. "But what would Kal-El be doing with a baby, unless … he's settled down! Oh, Jor-El, the baby is our grandchild!"
"Don't be so quick to judge, Lara. The baby may not be his. And if it is, Kal-El must have married an Earth woman. That would be unusual. Especially from what Ching told us."
"It doesn't matter, Jor, so long as my son is happy. Still, it's pretty amazing, isn't it? He's holding the baby as if were his …"
"Yes, dear, quite…well, shall we drop in and say hello?"
'Gosh, do I stink at singing, or what?' thought Clark, as he sang a lullaby to Jeremy. 'Lois has probably plugged her ears up downstairs. Let's hope you have her singing voice, little guy …"
Suddenly, there was a "Woosh" sound that sounded familiarly like his own. As he looked over to the window, he gasped in shock. For a minute he thought that the man and woman standing just inside the room were Lieutenant Ching and Zara but these people were slightly older and had different robes on. He heard the man mutter, "We shocked him, for Trey's sake."
"How do you know about Trey?" Clark asked, suddenly coming out of his trance.
"Huh?" grunted the man.
"I heard you say something about Trey. I know it's a stupid question since I don't even know who you people are, but I'm just curious. Are you from New Krypton?"
"Dear," Lara whispered to Jor. "He's got your intellect, I'm afraid." Jor cuffed her teasingly.
"But he's got your guts, Lara. That's probably more dangerous."
"Excuse me, but are you going to answer my questions or not?"
"Hmmmm, he certainly is stubborn … I hope that's a good sign … "whispered Jor. In a louder voice so that Clark could hear, "Yes, we're going to answer your questions. We know Trey because he's an old friend of ours. We recently were reunited after many years of separation. He is usually the unlucky victim of our frustration words, one of which you just heard, due to his personality and piece of mind. And no, we are not from New Krypton. We are from the original Krypton, thank you very much for asking."
"Yeah, right. Krypton blew up a long time ago. Everyone who lived there died."
"Oh, good," said Lara. "You found the globe. We were afraid that you never got it. But, you were right on one thing, but wrong on the other. Yes, Krypton blew up, you were correct on that. But, not everyone died. Are you starting to recognize us now?"
'The globe, the globe … ah, yes! The globe! But that would mean … are these my lost, presumed - dead parents!' thought Clark.
"Jor-El and Lara?" Clark asked tentatively. They both nodded. "But, you … you died … well, at least I *thought* you died. When Krypton blew up."
" Well," said Jor. "Your mother and I didn't die, obviously. We were blown off the planet by some sort of force. I know what you're thinking, strange, impossible, right? Well, don't ask us how it happened. Because we don't know. It just happened. We were knocked unconcious, and the next thing we knew, we were floating around in space, under your yellow sun, instead of the red one we're used to. Of course, as we found out, we had strange powers quite similar to yours, as I can imagine. It took us awhile to figure them out, and the first thing we found out, obviously, was that we could hold our breath for a very long time without feeling any strain on our lungs. I think you said once that you could hold your breath for more than 20 minutes? Yes, I believe so. Anyway, then we found out we could fly, and very fast at that. So once we learned how to control it, that, with our strength, and the capacity of our lungs, we managed to fly here, the closest available planet, before we ran out of air. And let me tell you, it was fun coming through your atmosphere, wasn't it, Lara?" She nodded. "So, that's how we came to be here. We learned to use the rest of these powers in time, as I'm sure you did, but when you were younger. But, the downside is, a new adversary has challenged New Krypton."
"How do you know?"
"Oh, we bumped into Lt. Ching, Zara, and the rest of the gang somwhere near Mars, was it? Yes, I believe it was Mars. Anyway, he told us the whole story about Lord Nor and how you and someone else got involved with saving New Krypton. I believe the other person was…Lois? Lt. Ching claimed that you two were involved romantically, but I told him, "Posh, my boy wouldn't do such a thing." But all he did was shake is head sympathetically at me. He told me that they were having a bit of trouble with a new challenger … Tok, I believe that's his name…from the House of Zi. I don't think that Lord Nor ever came from a specific House — either that or I can't remember which one … That was when we were reunited with Trey, and I've been speaking of him continuously, haven't I? Oh, dear …"
'I think Lois is going to like Jor-El … they certainly have similar traits … such as babbling,' thought Clark.
"I'm not going to have to leave again, now am I? Lois wouldn't hear of it, what with Jerome and all …"
"Yes. Lois is my wife, and that's my son, Jerome, asleep in the crib over there, um … what should I call you?" asked Clark. "I can't call you Dad….I'm sorry, but that's what I call my father back in Smallville. They're the only parents I've ever really known. I love them to death. Plus, this is all a big shock. I don't think having two sets of parents is going to be adjusted to very easily …"
"We know that, son," said Lara. "But maybe we would understand better if you told us about yourself. Everything from the beginning to right now." And to Jor in a quieter voice, she said, "See! I told you! The baby is his!"
"Okay. But I'm afraid it will probably take all night. It's a pretty long story. Our, meaning mine and Lois', lives have been very … action-packed I guess is the best way to describe it. Or maybe crazy … anyway, I believe you've already heard of my son, Jerome. He's over there if you want to see him." Jor and Lara practically ran over to Jerome's crib.
"He's beautiful, Kal-El," Lara said admiringly.
"Please … call me Clark. Everyone else does, unless I'm dressed as Superman. But you still haven't told me what to call you two."
"You can call me Jor," said Jor-El. Lara walked up.
"Lara," she said. "But why should we call you Clark?"
"Because that's what my parents back in Smallville named me. Clark Kent. Actually, my whole name is Clark Jerome Kent. We named our baby Jerome because it's my middle name. Oh, and because it sounds like your name, Jor."
"But why would you name your son after *me?*"
"Well, even though I never met you, I always wanted to remember you." Jor looked a little uncomfortable … maybe one could call it guilt. "But still, it's kind of hard to have two identities, two occupations, and three names."
"Yeah. Clark Kent, ace reporter for the Daily Planet of Metropolis; Kal-El, your son; and Superman, Man of Steel."
"Ah, I was wondering what the "S" stood for on your uh, … noticeable attire."
"That's my suit. It's a disguse. Well, I used to think that my glasses were a diguise for Superman, but now I think the whole Superman thing is a disguise for who I really am, Clark Kent. I don't want people to know that Clark Kent and Superman are actually the same person, because, as my father in Kansas said, the scientists will "dissect me like a frog." So when I'm saving the world, or even someone from a minor crisis, I wear the suit, take off my glasses, slick my hair back, and no one knows that there's a mild-mannered journalist under all that glamour. But the other half of the time, I'm Clark Kent, working as an investigative newspaper reporter at the Daily Planet. I'll have to give you a tour sometime. But first we need to get you some … ah, 'Earthling clothes.' I don't think people will appreciate your Kryptonian robes."
"So, what are their names?"
"Oh, Jonathan and Martha Kent."
"Who else knows about…ahem, "Superman?"
"Only three people know so far. Jerome here will find out later, as he gets older. The only people who know right now are my parents and Lois. Oh, and if you count Lex Luthor, he's valid, too, but unfortunately, he's dead. Oh, and there are other people, too…Jason Trask, he's dead, though…Tempus…Mazik…Nigel…or should I say the *late* Nigel…lot's of weird people."
"Did I hear my name mentioned?" asked Lois suddenly. She was on her way upstairs. "Are you talking to yourself up there, Clark?"
"Jor, Lara," said Clark. "I want you to meet somone." As Lois entered the dark room, she gasped in surprise.
"Oh! I didn't know that Lt. Ching and Zara would be back so soon!"
"It's okay, Lois. But these aren't Lt. Ching and Zara. These are my parents, Jor-El and Lara." Lois just stood and stared wonderingly. "Jor and Lara, this is my wife, Lois."
"But Clark," Lois came out of her reverie. "I thought they died a long time ago. How did this happen?"
"Oh, it's simple really," Jor said suddenly. "You see, we were blown out into space instead-" Clark cut him off. "Not now, Jor. Later." Lara was just standing there, looking astonished.
"She's so pretty, Clark … it is okay if I say that, dear?" Clark just laughed.
"Well, son, we've had a long day. I think it's time that you told us your story. We *will* understand, in time," said Jor. "Why don't we all sit down so you can explain …"
After Lois and Clark had told their story as best as they could, Clark asked Jor and Lara to tell them about their meeting with Lt. Ching and Zara.
"Well, Clark," Lara began. "It's not really all that exciting, really. We bumped into them near Mars, as Jor said, we got on their ship, and we helped clean up some residue left behind from one of their ray beams that accidently hit Mars a few days ago.
"Yeah," said Lois, ever at the top of things. "The Strider Effect. We wrote a column on it. But *we* thought it was a comet."
"Yes, I'm sure you did …" said Jor, looking a little confused, he was still trying to grasp why the people of Earth wrote about all the bad things that went on. "Well, Zara told us the whole story that you related to us, you know, where Clark had to go save New Krypton. It was quite interesting. Lt. Ching could only chip in a little, because he was only a part of the last chapter. That's when he told us about Tok-Zi. He's become quite a threat to them, from what I've heard. But not as near as evil as this "Lex Luthor" you've been talking about. He sounds like a walking, talking, hyperbole. It must be Kryptonian blood or something, but I believe that I already hate this man."
"Yes, from what you've been saying about him, my stomach has taken quite a few flips. Quite eerie, actually."
"Yes, definitely. Well, what Lt. Ching and Zara want you to do-"
"Please don't tell me they want me to come help them out there again …" Clark groaned.
"No, actually it's quite the contrary. They want you and Lois to stay, and they're going to come here instead. They don't want to impose on you, this time at least, in any way, shape or form."
"Good. I don't want to go on a wild-goose chase again." There was an awkward silence. To lighten up the mood a little, Clark told Jor and Lara how long it took for her to figure out that Clark was Superman. "It was so funny!" Clark said. "But it hurt too," he said more somberly. But then he laughed. "It's so ironic, the world's best reporter, and she couldn't even see past a pair of glasses!"
"Hey, all right, all right. So I was a little blind. But blindness is what makes me such a good reporter. And besides, it wasn't just the glasses, it was the personality change, too. Clark was great at changing personalities when changing identities. You could hardly tell the difference. And he's still good at that. But you should see him play poker! Such a good personality change, but such a terrible poker face!" They all laughed. "And I must admit, when he's in the Suit, your gaze is not entirely on his face …" Clark blushed as the others chuckled. "But I must admit also, that *my* feelings got in the way, too. When you have a crush on one person, and then you're just friends with the other, and then you find out they're the same guy, it's kind of embarassing … but look where we are now." Lois and Clark looked lovingly into each others eyes. Jor and Lara marveled at how much in love they were. Kryptonians were not capable of loving as deep as that. It was just their way of things. But who knows? What with this "New Krypton" and all, they might have changed everything.
"Well, I guess we must turn in for the night. Ching said that they would come soon, but he didn't set an exact date. Where should we sleep?" asked Jor.
"Oh, there's a guest room right in there. We'll get you some towels in a minute," said Lois, as she pointed towards the room.
"Oh, there's no rush, dear." Lois pulled Clark upstairs.
"Is it just me, or are your parents about *this close* from being your identical twins? Not in appearance, but in personality. Oh my God, I just realized that I have two mother-in-laws now … ai-yi-yi!"
"Well, Lois think about me. I believe that *your* mom is bad enough for *one* mother-in-law …" Lois giggled. Clark managed to look shocked. "Why, Lois … you're laughing at your own mother?"
"I'm sorry, Clark, it's just … <giggle> … it's just that even *I* have to agree with that!"
"Well, what we really need to do is get Jor and Lara some more clothes. Jor will fit into mine, because I'm even a bit bigger than he is …"
"Well, that's what comes to you when you're Mr. Hardbody …"
"And I think that you're about Lara's size. Maybe she'll fit into your clothes …" Lois snorted and almost tripped. If it hadn't been for Clark, she would've fallen down the stairs. "… or , maybe not … oh, well, we'll get them both some clothes tomorrow." Lois went in to check on Jerome one more time before she and Clark went to bed.
The next morning, Clark gave Jor some of his clothes to wear. Since Clark was a little more broad-shouldered and taller than Jor, the shirt, shoes, and jeans were a little big. "You know," said Jor. "I rather like these clothes. They're not much to look at, but they're very comfortable."
"Yeah, they are. This way you'll look a little more respectable on Earth," said Clark. Jor looked down at his faded jeans, sneakers, and black T-shirt.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the house, Lois and Lara were having a bit more trouble than Jor and Clark. Lois' clothes were too small for Lara. Lois had always been small, and Lara had gained a few pounds over the years. But if she lived here much longer, she wouldn't have to worry about calling Jenny Craig … (If you get the meaning) So Lois took Lara to the Mall of Metropolis, and bought her some clothes. Lara got some curious looks from passer-bys. That's why Kryptonian robes aren't worn on Earth…
By the time everyone was ready, Lois and Clark were late for work. As they all piled in the car, Lois said, "Okay, Jor and Lara, remember that you're my aunt and uncle, Joe and Lily. Okay? You're from Illinois, and if anyone asks about what Illiois is like, just say, 'Hey, I'm on vacation here!' All right?'
"Okay," said Jor. "But why are we *your* aunt and uncle. No offense, dear, but wouldn't it be more practical if we were *Clark's* aunt and uncle?"
"Oh, yeah, it would be more practical in a different case. But here, since you're from a different planet, if someone finds out about you, like Intergang, or some left-over Bureau 39ner's, they will try and track you down. In Metropolis, most criminals don't take kindly to superheroes. And since you two have the same powers as Superman, therefore everyone thinks of you as superheroes. And if someone gets a hold of Kryptonite … any color … well, let's just say we have enough trouble trying to keep it away from one person, it will be chaos trying to keep it away from *three* people … okay, anyway, if a criminal finds out that you're related to Superman, they will probably look under Clark's name first, since Superman isn't listed under anything, and everyone knows Clark as Superman's close friend-"
"Very close," interrupted Clark. Lois smiled.
"As close as friends can get … but, anyway, this way, it will make you two harder to find, since you two will be listed under my name as relatives. It will take this criminal longer - and hopefully harder - to find you. After that … no, I don't want to think about ' after that.' Things just get more complicated after that. And we're not going to let that happen, right Clark?" Clark was staring out the window.
"Mm-hmm," he murmured lightly. Lois slapped him on the arm.
"Right, Clark?" she said louder. Clark jumped.
"Wha-what? Oh … um … no?"
"Aaeeeennnn! Wrong answer!"
"Oh, right … er … yeah?"
"Ding! Right answer, but the contestant doesn't get the nice, new shiny convertible, because the contestant wasn't paying attention!"
"Oh … crap …"
Perry White, editor of the Daily Planet newspaper, was not in a good mood. His two star reporters were missing, and he had some really bad news for them. He needed reinforcement from Jimmy if he was to live. Lois would probably start crying, and Clark would most likely be furious. And Perry wouldn't blame them …
As Lois, Clark, 'Joe,' and ' Lily' came in, a few sympathetic glances were cast their way. "Don't tell me someone found out already?" groaned Clark.
"Oh, hey, guys," said Jimmy, who was walking up to them with a similar look on his face. "Perry wants to see you guys in his office."
"Okay, this must be bad, right Jimmy?"
"Unfortunately, yes. Who are these people?"
"Oh, these are my aunt and uncle, Joe and Lily. Uncle Joe and Aunt Lily, I want you to meet Jimmy, our star photographer," said Lois.
"Well, I wouldn't say star … how about 'Senior' photographer?"
"Don't push it Jimmy," said Clark.
"Okay, okay. But we'd better bust our butts and get into the Chief's office, otherwise, he'll have our heads served on silver platters."
"Okay, so long as they aren't gold platters. My skin has an allergic reaction to gold," said Lois, trying to lighten the situation. Clark pulled a wry smile and winked at Jor and Lara. As they entered the office, Perry looked up.
"Hey, kids. What's up?"
"You wanted to see us?" asked Clark.
"Yeah, I have some news for you," replied Perry.
"From what we've heard, it isn't good," said Lois. "Oh, but before you say anything else, these people are my Aunt Lily and Uncle Joe."
"Nice you meet you. I guess you'll probably want to hear this too. In fact, everyone across the U.S. should hear about this, and that's why I'm telling you two - so you can write a story about it. You kids are the only ones who can do this one."
"So what is it? We haven't really been keeping up with anything this morning," said Clark.
"Well, since you were late, you didn't get to hear about it. I guess you had to pick up your and aunt and uncle?"
"Well, you're right about one thing, it is bad news. We just heard about it this morning. It's … well … it's kind of hard to say …"
"Just say it, Chief!"
"Well … okay … Lex Luthor is alive and well, and he's on the loose, armed and dangerous." Lois and Clark gasped at the same time.
"Ohmigod!" whispered Lois. Clark, having the larger lung capacity, was a little louder … as decibels go.
"What!?" he yelled. Jor and Lara didn't say anything, they didn't know Lex that well. Lois sat down, stunned, on the couch. Clark stood in silence. Jimmy stood looking solemn. Perry watched all of them, trying to look comforting. And practically the whole newsroom had crowded outside the door when they had heard Clark yell. Clark's eyes blazed with anger. Lois' were filled with tears. Clark sat beside her and held her, as she buried her face into his shoulder. He was *not* at all happy with the news. Who was? How long was it going to take to actually keep this guy in his grave? Guards watching him day and night. No, it's been done, it doesn't work. Put him in a steel room with nothing in it? No windows or doors? Seamless, air-tight room? One little sliver in a wall, way up high for breathing? Nothing can penetrate it? Tie him up in a strait-jacket and leave him in there, no one entering or leaving? Food dropped in from the ceiling? It seems nothing would work on the crazed Lex Luthor. He always has something up his sleeve, and nothing humans can do can stop him. Lois was shaking, and even Clark had to shudder at the thought of what Luthor could do. What is this, the third or fourth time Lex has escaped from *something?* Nothing on this earth can keep Lex Luthor down for long. Except maybe Superman. Clark knew many people were going to bring Lex Luthor to justice once and for all. And Clark was going to, whether he had to kill Luthor or not. He would try not to kill him, but what with all of the ruckus he'd caused so far, he deserved it. But Clark would never stoop so low as a person such as Lex Luthor. Clark would watch him, for all he was worth, just to make sure Luthor never arose again. What would Lex do this time? Clark woke up and realized that time had seemed to stop. Everyone was standing as still as a rock. He was still holding Lois. They all looked at Clark as he opened his eyes.
"Let's go get him."
"All right, kids, this one is all yours. No one will bother you about it, no one else will work on it, except you two. I can just tell this is going to be a Pulitzer nominee, I can feel it!" exclaimed Perry. Clark was grim-faced, and Lois was fired up, but still ever the cautious one when it came to the one-time most well-known man in all of Metropolis, but was now Mr. Criminal of the Decade. Jor and Lara were following them all around, even though they had no idea what was going on. They had heard about this Lex Luthor character, he was a murderous criminal, was obsessed with Lois, and wanted to kill Superman. But he must be really bad for people to shed tears over him. Clark hadn't said a word since he began working on leads and finishing up other minor stories, and Lois looked so fragile at this time, still teary-eyed and flushed, but always ready to handle a story such as this. The whole newsroom had seemed to come to a ready stop, with employees hunched over their desks, occasionally glancing over at Lois or Clark. After all, those two are the ones that are mostly affected by Lex Luthor. They bear all the pain and grief of his actions. That's just the way the tables turn in Metropolis. Lois and Clark communicated in silent tones, looking over at each other, searching for weaknesses in the heart through the eyes. What will happen to Jerome? We'll have to look out for him. Lex might try and take him. Will Lex tell the world that Clark is Superman? Criminals all across the seas will have a field day. We'll never have any privacy. It would be horrible! Clark could tell that Lois was worried, and he was trying to put on a brave face for her, but her gaze penetrated right through to his soul. There was no hiding from her. They really were the truest of soulmates. What were they going to do? Jeez, what a *month* this was turning out to be …
As Clark, Jor, and Lara searched for Lex, Lois busied herself staying with Jerome. He was still at a fragile age of about a year, and Lois had her hands full watching him. "You look so much like Clark," she said to him. "God, how much I love him … and now you, too." She walked over to the window, arms full of Jerome, and looked up into the sky. She saw three different colored streaks flying through the air, and she was filled with gratitude when she saw that they were still okay. "Be careful," she said to them.
"Ka-…er, Clark! I see someone down there!" yelled Jor.
"What? Oh, I see him! Or her! They flew closer to the moving figure in the alley. "My god … it's … it's Asabi! He's still floating around? I can't believe it! I wonder what he's up to?"
"Who's Asabi?" asked Lara.
"He used to be Lex's personal aide, until Nigel came around. Asabi is … well, he's … he's a witch doctor of some sort. An evil one at that. I don't really know how to describe him. He brews mixes and stuff that helped Lex. He made something that almost got Lois to switch to another body in our first wedding escapade. He was the one who helped Woody Samms switch souls with me to help him stay away from Little Tony. Yes, Asabi is quite a character, but not really all that dangerous, unless he gets close to his ingredients and mixtures. Let's go get him before he gets away!" Clark flew down to where Asabi was and grabbed him, with Jor and Lara close behind.
"I assume that you're planning something with Lex Luthor?" stated Jor.
"Wha-? I don't know what you're talking about! And who are these other people, Superman?" Clark looked closer at the person he was holding by the lapels.
"What? You're not Asabi … Bobby??" he asked incredulously.
"That would be me, Bobby Bigmouth. And what's all this about Lex Luthor? I may be the best snitch in Metropolis, but I ain't heard nothin' about Lex Luthor! And you still haven't answered my question about these two weirdos yet."
"Oh, sorry about that, Bobby. We thought you were someone else. This is Jor and Lara. They're, uh … visiting," said Clark.
"Oh, really? This is great! The city is gonna love this! See you guys later!"
"Bobby, wait!" Clark yelled, but Bobby didn't turn around as he ran away. "Great," said Clark. "Now everyone in *Metropolis* will know that Lex Luthor is out, *and* there are visitors from another planet. The *last* time this happened, Lord Nor was here, and he almost killed the whole population of two cities. And Luthor wasn't around, so that made it a whole lot easier. But then again, I guess everybody will find out sooner or later. But this is going to be really complicated. No offense, you two, but when Lt. Ching, Zara, and the rest of the people from New Krypton were here last year, the world didn't take to kindly to them at first. Now, I already have their trust, but you guys are going to have to gain it. Hopefully, everyone won't panic and will try and help us out instead. Of course, we're going to need Dr. Klein, the FBI, the SWAT Team, National Guard, Army troops, the Air Force, maybe even the Navy. Bobby, naturally, ummmm … who else? …"
"Son, why such a big fuss over one man? I mean, he has all the powers … of *Batman!*" said Jor.
"Quite the contrary, Jor. He may not have *super*powers, but he has a lot of power over Lois and me. He knows that I'm Superman, and that could cause quite a problem, especially around here. He could take Jerome, which could cause a real problem, he could get a hold of Kryptonite, which could cause a *really* real problem … he's just a psycho, drug-influenced man. When his doctor brought him back to life the first time, she must have pumped enough drugs in him to bring Arnold Schwarzenegger back to life! I mean, *I'm* even afraid of him … but I have to be strong for both Lois *and* me …"
"Well, you know, Clark, that we'll be here for you if you need us," said Lara.
"Thanks, Lara, Jor. But, unfortunately, he poses a threat to you guys too. If he gets a hold of Kryptonite again…well, I'm afraid to think about what he might do…he could *kill* Lois, though I doubt he'll want to. He might even be stupid and try and steal her again, but again, I doubt that he'll have much success without Kryptonite. C'mon, let's keep looking. I don't want to talk about Lex Luthor anymore … I wanna find him."
When Clark, Jor, and Lara got back to the townhouse later that night … or should I say early that *morning,* Lois was already in the bed. As Clark slid underneath the blanket next to her, she turned over so she was facing him.
"Did you find him?" she asked. Clark hesitated before he answered.
"…No," he finally said.
Lois' face fell. There she was, waiting for him to tell her that he had found Lex, and her hopes were crushed under his voice. The sparkle that was usually in her eyes, even when she was sad, turned to tears. She was *really* getting sick of this lunatic. Clark moved over so that she could hold on to him. As her tears wet his bare chest, he said, "Lois, listen to me … We are going to get through this. We have gotten through *everything* together … good and bad things. And we're going to get through *this.* Together. You know that I love you, Lois. And if you know that, then you can trust me."
"I love you, too, Clark. And I believe you. We have gotten through *everything* together. I trust you. God, I wish I could tell you how much I love you in words." The sparkle began to return to her eyes. "But I guess this is the only, true way." She leaned up and kissed her husband passionately. The passion quickly escalated, and Clark pulled away gently to say one last thing.
"I *love* you. Don't *ever* forget that."
"I won't ever forget that Clark. Ever. And you don't forget that I love you, too."
"I won't forget, Lois. I will *never* forget. But, for now, why don't you help me to remember?" Clark's eyes twinkled with mischief.
"Don't fall for me, farmboy. I don't have the t-" Before she could finish her sentence, Clark had interrupted her by caressing her cheek with his hand, the familiar gesture that had become so familiar to them both. Lois was left without any words.
"What's this? Lois Lane speechless? It's a miracle!" He smiled, as he pulled Lois to him for one last kiss that set off fireworks before Lois settled into his embrace for sleep.
The next morning, Perry was up early, as usual. Jimmy had been trying to suck up to Perry by being at the Planet at *least* one minute before him, making it look like he had been there since 4 in the morning. But what Perry didn't know wouldn't hurt him. When Lois and Clark walked in, Perry and Jimmy started their sympathy routine, the same thing they did every morning since Lex had been on the loose. But, of course, Lois headed straight to her desk as usual so she wouldn't have to listen to drab condolences, and Clark smiled to get them to end their tirade. Perry and Jimmy finally got the hint when Lois walked up to them and yelled, "SHUT UP!" Their mouths immediately snapped shut. Clark curled the ends of his mouth downwards, pushed his lower lip upwards, and raised his eyebrows in his gesture that said, "So-there-I'm- not-going-to-say-anything-because-Lois-voiced-my-thoughts." Jor and Lara had stayed hime with Jerome, and they had given Mrs. Whitaker the day off. As soon as both of them were seated, a different broadcast started showing on the TV that had been on since the first few people had gotten there.
"Good Morning, residents of Metropolis," said a man in strange clothes. "My name is Lord Tok-Zi … I have come to take over the world." Everyone in the newsroom burst out laughing. This sort of thing happened every other day in the city of Metropolis. Not to mention Gotham City, etc, etc … well, let's just say that this was not new and was not to be taken literally. But Lois and Clark jumped up.
"*That's* Tok-Zi?!" exclaimed Lois.
"Oh, c'mon, honey, it's just another weird guy who broke into the TV station…with interesting looking clothes on, and a strange accent, and incredible confidence … but just forget about it … another little story to put on page D12, okay? We shouldn't take this guy seriously!" said Perry.
"But this *is* serious!" exclaimed Clark. "*Very* serious!" Perry paused for a second with a huge grin on his face.
"You must be joking," he said mockingly. In response, he got two cold looks from both Lois and Clark. Jimmy was standing silently nearby, and everyone was looking at either Lois and Clark or Perry. "All right, all right! You know I'd believe whatever you two said, but c'mon…"
"Okay, Perry, listen. This guy's name is Lord Tok-Zi of New Krypton…"
"More aliens?" asked somebody incredulously from the back of the audience.
"Yes, unfortunately, more people from New Krypton … but they're not aliens, they're … well … they're not from this planet," said Lois abruptly.
"Anyway, he's not related to Lord Nor, if that was what you were thinking … and, like he said, he's here to take over the world."
"Yeah, right. You guys are just pulling our legs right?" asked Jimmy. Everyone turned to look at him. He held up his hands in surrender. "Okay, okay … I'll shut up."
"We're not kidding, Jimmy," said Clark.
"But, kids, can't Superman just kill him like he did with Lord Nor?" asked Perry.
"Well, he could do that, but remember, it was the *Kryptonite* that basically killed Lord Nor, not Superman…but he did help out a lot," Lois said, glancing over at Clark.
"Yeah, well, this is a lot to handle at once. We can get someone else to work on this while you two work on Lex-"
"NO!" Lois and Clark yelled at the same time.
"We really need to work on this one, Perry," said Lois. "Don't worry … I'm sure you trust your two famous reporters to be working on two big stories at once, am I right, or am I right?"
"Weeell … I guess you're right … this time."
"Good. But we're going to need some help, too," said Clark.
"Sure, why don't I get Murphy and Coldwell to work with yo-"
"No, Chief, we were thinking more along the lines of Jimmy…" said Lois quickly.
"Well, okay. Whatever you say … but I don't see why you picked Jimmy when you could have Murphy and Coldwell."
"Ummmm, well, you know … computer genius … you always need a couple of those around." Lois laughed weakly before it drained off into a sigh.
Clark, while still looking at Perry, snatched Jimmy by the arm and pulled him over to his side.
"Right, Chief. And besides, we've known Jimmy for a long time … he's quite reliable, you know." Perry was still looking at them strangely. Lois and Clark quickly dragged Jimmy over to Lois' desk to avoid reprimand.
"Okay, guys, why did you *really* pick me instead of the other two? I'm just a photographer…they're real reporters!" asked Jimmy.
"Well, there's something we need to tell you that we really can't trust to Murphy and Coldwell. We've known you for a really long time, so …" trailed Lois.
"We talked about it, and if we need help … and we *do* need help, we're going to need to let you in on a little secret of we're going to be able to work together," said Clark.
"And that would be …" Clark glanced around before he answered Jimmy.
"Why don't we head somewhere so we can talk privately …" Lois was looking a little put out.
"Well, okay … whatever you say," replied Jimmy. Clark hurried off in the direction of the conference room. Lois grabbed Jimmy by the arm and dragged him off, following Clark.
As they entered the conference room, Jimmy asked, "Why are you guys making this such a big deal? I mean, it can't be *that* big of a secret. Lois looked at Jimmy strangely, and Clark started to look a little pale as he sighed.
"Jimmy, this is a bigger secret than you think," said Clark. "But before we tell you what it is, you *have* to promise us you'll never tell *anyone* about it. It could cost you your life … capeesh?"
"Gotcha … I think … but it seems like you're telling me a secret that I don't want to know … like Superman's identity or something," said Jimmy. Lois gave Clark a look as if to say, "I told you so." Clark just rolled his eyes.
"What's this?…Oh, I get it…you *are* going to tell me Superman's identity. So, who is it? Arnold Schwarzenegger? No, we would recognize the accent … um, Mel Gibson? Naaaaahhh … so, c'mon … you're leaving me hangin' here."
"Okay, what's the best way to do this …" mumbled Clark. He made sure all the blinds were closed and the door was shut and locked, so no one could come in while he was 'spinning'.
"Okay, Jimmy. I'm not going to talk, I'm just gonna do. So watch." Jimmy, mouth hanging agape, looked on as his friend Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter for the Daily Planet of Metropolis, 'spinned' into Superman, superhero and ultimate godsend for the world. Clark, *Superman,* just stood there, arms crossed and with the beginnings of a smile starting to creep up the corners of his mouth. Jimmy looked over at Lois. She was drinking the whole scene in, trying not to laugh at Jimmy's face, and exchanging looks with Clark the whole time. So obviously she had known … well, of course she must've known, she's *married* to him for Elvis' Sake. It took a while for the event of the day to sink in. 'So *that's* why he's so buff! Always making dumb excuses and running off,' Jimmy thought. 'And all the times he saved me … and Lois, too. Man, this is so weird … my best friend … Superman??' As Clark spun back into his normal self, Jimmy finally found the voice to say something.
"Whoa … heavy …" Lois had to smile at that, and Clark even managed to grin.
"So, Jimmy … what do you think? Are you mad? Maybe at us? Maybe at yourself?"
"N-no, I'm not mad … I'm just … wow. This is hard to deal with. I have so many questions … does the Chief know?"
"No," replied Lois.
"So you guys are the only people who know? Well, Clark, of course, and I guess since you're married to him…"
"My parents know … Trask *knew,* Tempus knows, Dr. Klein, Mazik, Nigel knew … and Lex," said Clark.
"Oh, so *that's* why you need my help…"
"Right…you're pretty much the only other person we can trust to keep Clark's secret … except Perry, we would've told him, of course, but he's not helping catch a maniac killer. He's here reading bedtime stories to his beloved paper. Not that that's a *bad* thing …" The room was silent for what seemed like eternity.
"Soooo … what do you want me to do?" asked Jimmy.
"Well, I guess we should start out by explaining to you about Joe and Lily," said Clark.
"What's there to explain? I mean, they're Lois' aunt and uncle … right?"
"Ummm, not exactly.." said Lois.
"What do you mean?"
"Weeell, here goes. They're Clark's birth parents …"
"What?… oh, I get it. Jonathan and Martha are kinda like adopted parents … and Joe and Lily - "
"Jor-El and Lara," interrupted Lois.
"Okay, Jor-El and Lara are Clark's *real* parents."
"You've pretty much hit the nail on the head. There are a lot of other details, but it would take us all *night* to finish telling the whole story, so we're going to just skip it," said Lois.
"Well, CK, the only thing I can really say is … wow. I can't believe that Superman was you all the time!"
"It's definitely true, Jimmy. Definitely."
"I mean, all those times you saved me … saved Lois … everytime we saw you on TV, or wrote about you in the paper … man … this is so weird!"
"Okay, okay, Jimmy, you can ponder over this later. Right now, we need you to help us find more about Lord Tok, and find Lex Luthor," said Clark.
"No problem, CK…what do you want me to do?" Clark sighed.
"Um..darn, I thought you had already thought of that … oh, well, we'll think of something … got it!"
"Jeez, that was fast," Jimmy declared ceremoniously. Clark just grinned.
"You remember that story we wrote about the people from New Krypton and all that ages and ages ago?"
"Well, see if you can dig that up from underneath all the dust and we'll try and see if we can find anything specfic that would connect that to this."
"You got it … better go back and row with the other slaves, anyway … I've got some catching up to do. First, I have to frame the Chief's Elvis picture again because the other one cracked, and then he told me to take his dress jacket to the cleaners … oh, and then he told me to run this story down to the printing room to add on at the last minute, but I was too late, so now he's all ticked off at me …"
Lois and Clark left Jimmy making a list of all his personal tasks, sharing a knowing smile that Jimmy would always hold the timeless honor of taking care of Perry's personal belongings and "important" errands. Even though Jimmy secretly loved it, only confiding this to Lois and Clark, he tried not to show it. Jimmy always said that he was only trying to earn Perry's respect. Even though Lois and Clark knew Jimmy already held a lot of Perry's respect, they didn't tell him that, and Jimmy didn't seem to realize it. Lois and Clark just kept it to themselves, and they used a different term for "earning respect" when Jimmy wasn't around …"brown- noser." All of the staff at the Daily Planet learned to take Jimmy in their stride, calling him whenever they needed him, Lois and Clark included, and Jimmy didn't seem to mind at all … of course. He would do anything to just become an intern to well-known reporter, Lois or Clark specifically, or maybe both. Both of them knew that Jimmy *really* would want to follow them around like a lost puppy, and Perry was always telling them how much Jimmy admired them and their work, together or individually. But as much as Jimmy begged without even letting out a single whine (meaning that he gave Perry pathetic looks), Perry was not lenient with him. Perry knew that Jimmy had the same spark as great reporters like Lois and Clark had, but secretly Perry didn't want the kid to get hurt. He was still young and headstrong, and Jimmy, along with Lois, had encountered near-death experiences before. Clark, of course, couldn't die, unless the fortunate kidnapper had Kryptonite in their hands … but it would make it a lot easier now that Jimmy knew his secret. Lois and Clark thought they had better get Jimmy and Jor and Lara acquainted asap … and they had some phone calls to make.
"Jor? Lara? We want you to meet one of our close friends, Jimmy," said Clark.
"Yes, Clark, I believe that we met at the Planet," said Lara.
"Well, things are a little different then when you first saw him. He knows that Clark is Superman now," said Lois.
"Oh! Well, things *are* a bit different now, aren't they? Well, it's nice to know you're on our side!" Jimmy blushed.
"Well, as much as I'm enjoying this, I gotta call Mom and Dad. You can guarantee they'll be here tomorrow…" said Clark. Jimmy had to laugh at that, but Lois gave him a look that said "Clark-is-under-a-lot-of-pressure-so-don't-push-me-to-strangle-you." Even Jimmy had to admit that Clark looked a little haggard, even if *Superman* didn't need sleep, at least not when he was physically tired. But as perceptive as Jimmy was, he couldn't figure out how his friend CK could look so tired if he's invulnerable. But when Clark finally sat down on the couch in Lois and Clark's home and put his hands over his face, Jimmy knew that even Superman needed a break at some time. Lois went over and sat next to him, rubbing his back and the back of his neck gently. Jimmy sat down on the other side of him.
"Hey, CK … sorry about that … I know you must be pretty stressed out."
"Jimmy, I am sorry to say I'm *beyond* stressed out. I'm to the point of throwing myself in front of a truck … if I could. And so is Lois, I'm sure … aren't you?" Jimmy sighed and leaned back.
"Of course." He looked over at Jor and Lara. They looked concerned, but Jimmy saw something else there. Fear? Anxiety? What was it? Only time would tell.
"So what do you think, Zara? A nice place to spend the summer, eh?"
"Ching, if you had wanted to spend the summer here, then you wouldn't have begged *not* to go."
"The only reason I didn't really want to come is because I don't want to fill Lois and Clark in on the details. They're already under enough pressure as it is, what with Lex Luthor on the loose, and Clark's real parents are here, whom he hasn't seen since he was a baby. That's gotta put pressure on one, wouldn't you say?"
"Yes, I guess you're right. But I'm not nervous, so there's no reason for you to be, either."
"Whatever you say." Zara and Ching were walking down Hyperion Avenue, heading to a particular townhouse with the number of 348. They were dressed in normal clothes, due to Zara's saying, "If Clark can do it, so can we." As they knocked on the door Zara smiled at Ching.
"Are you ready?"
"Ready," Ching said rather timidly. When Lois opened the door, they both yelled "Surprise!!" Lois looked startled and everyone in the den jumped.
"Zara! Lt. Ching! Wha-what … a surprise!"
"How are you, Lois?"
"Good" Lois managed to get out.
"Hey Clark! How is everything?"
"Uh…great! How are you guys coping?"
"Okay. We've been keeping an eye on Lord Tok, and he hasn't gotten into *too* much trouble lately, but, well … you know what's going on. But he threatens if anyone comes near him, he'll kill one of his hostages."
"Hostages?" Lois asked.
"Yeah…he has hostages now. You can never tell what's going to happen next with this guy."
"Kinda like Luthor," Clark said in quiet resignation. Lois gave him a sympathetic look, but Ching just rolled his eyes.
"Look, Clark, I'm sure that you're aware of our deal already?"
"Yeah … I think so … well, kind of. Do you remember anything, honey?"
"Well, maybe you can refresh our memories …"
"Okay … you help us catch Lord Tok … and we help *you* catch Lex Luthor. It's that simple. Deal?"
"Deal. We need all the help we can get…and I'm sure you do, too."
"Jimmy! Have you found anything, or *anyone* yet?"
"Nope. Luthor's a ghost, as usual. We need someone on the inside there, a spy of some sort."
"Good idea, Jimmy! But the only problem is…we don't even know where Lex is, so how could we possibly get someone to find him in the first place. Much less ask for work … you know … an inside job," said Lois.
"She's right," said Clark. "I'm not sure how we're going to get anywhere like this."
"Well, Clark, if I know Lex … and I *do* know Lex, then I guess if he's out, we're the first people on his list of people to contact. So we should just wait … he'll probably find us before we find him."
"Yeah, you're right…but still, the suspense is killing me."
"I know how you feel, CK. You probably just want to zip on out there, find the bad guy, and put him in jail like you always do. I guess even *Superman* is helpless sometimes."
"Sometimes, Jimmy. Sometimes…but don't rub it in, 'kay?" Clark said with a grin.
Later that night, at Lois and Clark's home, Clark was sitting on the couch, head in hands.
"God, Clark, you're making *me* more depressed by just watching you," Lois said, coming down from checking on Jerome upstairs.
"I'm sorry, Lois … this sulking is pretty bad … but I can't help it … just all this pressure with Luthor, and Lord Tok, and Jerome, and my parents … and you. I guess it's all just going to my head, even though I'm confident we're going to beat all of the bad guys and get everything back to normal … well, almost normal." Clark had to crack a smile.
"Oh, Clark…Jimmy was right…even *Superman* is somewhat helpless at some point…I'm so sorry…I wish I could take it all away..whoa.."
"What is it?"
"I was just thinking …" Lois smiled. "I just realized that I'm the one comforting *you* now…when just the other night you were the one comforting *me*…"
"I'm sorry, Lois … I guess I've been wallowing in my self-pity, huh?"
"Quit apologizing …" Lois said, as she sat down next to him on the couch and gathered as much of him as she could into her arms. "I know how you feel … we're *all* going through this … just like you said — together." Lois leaned down and kissed Clark's exposed temple, as his head leaned down to rest on her shoulder. That broke through whatever amount of self-restraint Clark had left. The tears he had been keeping inside for so long flowed down his cheeks, touched by his wife's words.
"What's this? Superman crying?" Lois asked. Clark tried to smile, but one can't smile and cry at the same time without great difficulty.
"Thank you, Lois … thank you …" Lois held him for a long time until the tears subsided. Meanwhile, a tear or three just happened to fall down from her eyes also, her pain mingling with that of her husband's. They held on tightly to each other, comforting each other without saying anything, knowing how lucky they were to have found each other.
"Lois! Clark! Found anything on Luthor yet?"
"Not yet, Chief. Neither Jimmy nor Superman can find him or anything about what he's doing. He's been pretty quiet so far, unless he's paying someone else to do his dirty work, or he's the anonymous person behind the stories connected to all these practical jokes … you remember, the one at the home for the elderly, and the one at the bank..the list could go on forever," said Lois.
"Now, Lois, you and I both know that Luthor isn't one for practical jokes … the anonymity sounds right, but not the pranks. Luthor is more of the hit-and-run type person to me. What about the Prankster? Could he be doing the practical jokes?" asked Perry.
"No, I called the prison yesterday, and Kyle Griffin's safe and sound inside his cell," said Clark.
"Well, shucks..I mean, that's a good thing, we don't want the Prankster out and all, but it would be as close a relief as you could get if I found out it was him … then we wouldn't have to go on another wild goose-chase again. But there are always other possibilities … he could have an acquaintance working on the outside, or he could be doing that clone thing like what Tempus was doing, who knows in a city like Metropolis? Well, what are you just standing around for? Go dig something up! Since you're not having much luck with Luthor, you need something to keep you on your toes … and something to keep me amused and our promoters happy, now get goin'!"
"The Chief's right, Lex Luthor is definitely the one for anonymity," said Clark. "Remember way back when he would pretend to be helping a corporation or big business, and all the executives believed him because of his inexplicable charm? But in the end, all of us found out that he was actually just trying to pervert the purpose of whatever experiment or opening it was to meet his own needs, you know what I mean?"
"I know exactly what you mean, Clark, but that won't get us anywhere, just a hunch on what he might be doing back up and still going strong…I think it's time to get a hold of the #1 snitch in the entire city …"
"Bobby! Wait! Boooobby!"
"Jeez, what *is* it, Lois? You asked for dirt, I came, only to find out you didn't have any food with you! So I leave … it's as simple as that!"
"Listen, Bobby … why don't you sit down for a minute … and don't worry, we're going to get you some food … Clark." Lois glanced at Clark pleadingly.
"I'll be right back … what do you want?"
"How about some stuffed grape leaves? No … say a turkey pita? No, wait … what the heck, just get me some Chinese … and get it pronto, I'm starving!"
"All right, already, I'm done." Bobby Bigmouth scooted further down in his chair as Lois and Clark stared at him curiously.
"Bobby, I've only got one question to ask ya … where do you put it all?" asked Lois. "I mean, Clark has a big appetite and can eat practically anything, but you…you are a different story."
"What can I say, Lois, it goes in one end and out the other … that was supposed to be a joke."
"Ha-ha, very funny. Hilarious … that's why I'm sitting here not laughing."
"Touche, Lois. Anyway, I met up with my big brother the other day …"
"Yes, Colorado. Deep in the heart of the Rockies is where you can probably find Lex Luthor. I hear he's been sneaking around over there for awhile." Lois and Clark just stared at him, stunned.
"Yes, Lois, I've already said it two times, Colorado! Anyway, my big brother lives in Ft. Collins, and he dropped in for a visit. He told me about how they wouldn't let any tourists go near Trail Ridge, the whole road is closed. And it's supposed to be open at this time of year! They say that about 10,000 bikers are going to be riding it, you know-"Ride the Rockies," but that's supposed to be going on next month, not this one. I only assumed that something fishy was going on … and then I heard about Luthor being out, and all of a sudden, it all came clear…but you are the two who are going to have to solve this, not me. I say it's an inside job, if you're open for tips."
"… Bobby, you're a savior. Both of us have been chomping at the bit waiting for something like this to happen…I guarantee that the next time you open your door there will be 10 containers of Sweet 'N Sour Chicken at your feet."
"With the sauce?"
"Yes, with the sauce. Indulge yourself."
"Thanks, again, Martha, for taking care of Jerome while we're gone … I don't think he would enjoy a trip halfway across the country. I'll miss him, though, won't I sweetie?" Lois rubbed noses with Jerome, to some extent. Jerome was squirming all over the place.
"Oh, it's no problem, honey. We'll take any opportunity to see our favorite grandson."
"Mom, he's your *only* grandson."
"Clark, here, you take him for a minute…he won't stop wiggling!" As Lois handed Jerome over to Clark, he immediately calmed down. "It's not fair … first he practically kills me, and then I find out you have the magic touch …"
"Well, honey, maybe it was the fact that you were holding him upside down…"
"Hey, I was trying to get my purse off of the coffee table!" Clark put his hands up in surrender.
"All right, all right! Just stating a fact!"
"What is the *deal* with all these people!? It's Saturday, for crying out loud, people should still be in bed!"
"Lois, it's almost noon."
"Yeah, but still! If I had the day off like all these *millions* of people have, I would be sleeping in!"
"I think you're exaggerating a bit, honey, only about 100,000 people live in Ft.Collins."
"Okay, well if I had the day off like these *6* people have, then I would be sleeping in."
Clark shook his head in exasperation. Granted that it was the 4th of July, everyone *did* have the day-off … except them. The small-city types take every oppurtunity to take a day-off on holidays, but the big-city types *never* got one-the closest Lois and Clark got was maternity leave-and Clark wasn't even a part of that. But Perry let him off easy and let him stay home with Lois more often than coming to work.
"Oh, look, we're here," Clark said, to change the subject. They pulled up in front of a small apartment building titled "L."
"They call *this* an apartment? Apartments are crowded, small, and utterly annoying undersized homes! Look at how much space they have between them! And what the *hell* is that atrocious odor!? It smells like there's a pile of cows just around the corner!"
"…That is precisely what it is, my dear. A pile of cows."
"And who are you?" An apparently young man with a overly large stomach walked closer to the two.
"Jack Borncoe. And you must be Lois Lane and Clark Kent?"
"Yes, that's us. How did you know?" asked Clark.
"I *do* read the paper. I ordered a subscription to the Daily Planet a long time ago. Quite expensive, considering it's an out-of-town newspaper. I believe you know my brother, Bobby?"
"Yeah…but his last name is Bigmouth." Jack laughed.
"That's an old childhood nickname that me and our sister gave him when we were little. He was a blabbermouth, all right."
"I can assure you, Mr. Borncoe, that he still is … and what was this about a pile of cows?"
"Ah, yes, that's Greeley. A close-by rival, I guess you could say. At least I've always thought of them as a rival. They're cow country, and they're also pretty well-off. But cow countries always are. And please, call me Jack."
"It makes me sick! My niece plays them in soccer all the time, and their purple uniforms are *disgusting!* I mean, we're stuck with reversible jerseys, red on one side and white on the other, and they get new uniforms every year!" Lois and Clark listened attentively while Jack told them about his small town.
"Actually, we wanted to ask you about all the traffic. It's Saturday at 10am, a holiday, so therefore everyone's day-off-except ours, and it's a small town. I don't think I've so many parking spaces taken up in my entire life!" said Lois.
"It's 'Soccer Saturday.' At least that's we call it around here. And plus, it's a sunny day. Most of the time it's rainy and dreary, but when it's sunny, all of the Ft. Collinians crawl out of their holes and drive their kids to soccer games and then crowd the restaurants. It's a well-known fact. They're trying to get more parking space, though. It's a horror … people don't have enough parking spaces, so they start parking illegally. It's amazing at what people will do … that's why I stay inside on bright weekends."
"Well, Jack, what we came here to ask you is-"
"Yes, I know, about Lex Luthor. Bobby told me all about it … we didn't call him Bigmouth for nothin'..oh, where are my manners? Would you two like something to eat or drink? I imagine the plane ride was long .. plus the bad food." Lois and Clark looked at each other, knowing full well they had traveled "Superman Express."
"Uh…yeah! It was pretty…long," said Clark. He wasn't telling a lie, either, the trip was pretty long, but nonetheless, enjoyable. As Jack ambled off to his kitchen, Lois whispered to Clark, "I wonder if he has as big an appetite as Bobby?" Clark looked over at Jack.
"Does that answer your question?" Jack was gorging himself with a various array of foods, most of them on the highest part of the food pyramid.
"… Yeah …"
When Jack deemed himself full, he gave the two reporters the impression that he also had the same ability to dig up the dirtiest dirt in the city as Bobby.
"All right, guys, I'm gonna help ya. But only because my kid brother trusts you. I'm confident that my name won't be mentioned when you two snag Luthor?" Lois and Clark both nodded their heads.
"Good. Because if Luthor manages to get out again, I don't want him coming after me, the snitching canary. Got it?" Again, two heads bobbed up and down, this time with an additional "Got it" from Lois.
"Okay, just so's I got your word on it. From what I've heard and found, Lex Luthor Sr. is deep in the heart of the Rockies."
"Pardon?" asked Clark, shaking his head slightly.
"The mountains. Rocky Mountains."
"Ohh," Clark nodded understandingly.
"I knew that," Lois said not too convincingly.
"Specifically around Trail Ridge."
"Yeah, Bobby told us about that place. He said that it was supposedly closed for the 10,000 bikers there for "Ride the Rockies" week, or something close to that," Clark said.
"Not true. That thing's supposed to go on a month from now. It starts on the same date, virtually the same exact time every year. I bet that Luthor bribed someone comparatively in charge around here. But the real gig happens up Poudre Canyon, near Estes Park and all that. If you're gonna want to learn anything around here, you're going to need to investigate yourselves. You won't get anywhere asking someone, because they won't tell ya. Oh, and do you mind if I tag along? I've always wanted to do some investigative reporting. I thought about it as a career in high school until I found out I had the investigative abilities but not the writing ones."
"Right. We'll go up there tomorrow. Oh…but do you know about any good lodging places around here?" asked Lois.
"There's a nice Marriot just down the street…"
"Hmm, Clark. This is nice. Much better than the "Cozy Inn."
"Yeah … much better." Clark stepped into the room behind Lois. "This *is* nice, isn't it?"
"All right, let's quit commenting on how great the stupid room is. We've got to come with a plan."
"Yeah … you're right." Lois sat on the bed while Clark walked over and sat on the edge of the bed.
"I got it!"
"What? So fast?"
"You're forgetting who I am, lunkhead. Lois Lane, remember?"
Lex Luthor Sr., otherwise known as the biggest crime boss in the United States, stood up and stared at the communicating radio sitting across from him.
"What are you telling me, Asabi? What *exactly* are you telling me? And tell me in plain English. Cut to the chase for once in your life."
"Well, it seems…sir…that Lois Lane and Clark Kent have penetrated the premises." Asabi waited for the inevitable shout of anger. But all he heard was a deep sigh, of disgust, perhaps.
"So…it seems they have managed to find me yet again." Asabi opened his mouth to say something encouraging, but then swallowed it back. It was best to stay quiet in case Mr. Luthor was in his silent, but outraged mood. An awkward silence filled the air.
"Very well." Lex finally said. "Let them come. I want no one to cross their path, and if someone does, execute them."
Asabi started so violently he almost fell from his floating position.
"Execute them, sir?"
"Yes, Asabi, execute them! What else would I have said?"
"Right, sir, execute them. Got it." There was a click as the transmission ended. Asabi slowly descended to the chair he had previously occupied. As he sat there, he did not notice the tall, dark figure enter the room and float across the floor…
"Oh, this is fun. Great fun. I'm having so much fun, I'm ecstatic!" Lois scrambled up the side of the foothill, trying to keep pace with Clark.
"Oh, c'mon, Lois. Think of what this will do to keep your body healthy! Think of how good it will make you feel afterward!" Lois stumbled on a stick protruding from the ground.
"Dammit! Clark, carry me, or suffer the consequences!" Clark faked exasperation as he walked back towards his wife. Suddenly, there was a big gust of air, and Ching and Zara were immediately standing beside the couple.
"Zara! Ching! What are you doing here?"
"We were just about to ask you the same thing. We're here for Lord Tok. Have you seen him anywhere?" Ching looked from Lois, then Clark, then Lois again. "No? Great."
"But you still haven't told us why you're here," chimed in Zara.
"We're looking for Lex Luthor. He's supposed to be somewhere in *there!*"
Lois pointed a finger at the mountains looming before them.
"Well, we followed Tok here, but he disap-" Ching stopped mid-sentence when he saw the look on Clark's face. "What is it, Clark?"
"Don't you get it? They're working together! How could we be so stupid? If two highly evil, powerful, and utterly smart people from two different planets manage to be in the same place at the same time, what do you think happens?" Zara and Ching stared blankly at Clark. Meanwhile, Lois was beginning to see the light.
"…Instant world take-over."
"I don't care how you did it, Asabi, what I want to know is, did you do it?"
Asabi fidgeted in his chair. This was not a good time to float around.
"Well, you see, sir, by the time I arrived outside, the two had disappeared. I looked all over for them, but they had either gone back down or were hovering in some place I could not see …" Lex gave Asabi a long, cold stare before drawing a gun from underneath his desktop and shooting him.
"When I said kill them, Asabi, I meant *kill* them. I expect my orders to be carried out promptly. I guess you'll remember that next time, won't you?…or maybe not." While Lois grimaced noticeably on the other side of Lex's office door, Clark, Ching, and Zara were using their x-ray vision to look inside the room.
"Why is he talking to a dead man?" Lois was appalled. Lex was psycho, sure, but talking to dead people?
"Perhaps the absence of company has drived him a little more insane than he was last time he made a showing," said Ching.
"Yeah, and what would you know about it?" Clark elbowed Lois in the ribs, perhaps a little harder than he had intended to.
"Ow!" Lois let out an involuntary shout. Before Clark even had a chance to stand up, Lex Luthor had flung the door open and was standing there, apparently not surprised to see the four of them kneeling there on the floor.
"Luthor!" Clark made a grab for Lex, but Lex stepped back and Clark missed. As Clark went inside the room after him, he immediately felt the full effects of Kryptonite.
"Not so fast, Kent. I'm not *that* stupid. You know I can't just let you waltz in here with me not having a Plan B. It would be breaking our time-old tradition."
"Clark!" Lois crawled in to check on Clark. He was fine, as far as his encounters with Kryptonite go, but was fading fast. "Don't you go dying on me, hear?" Lois demanded of the unconcious Clark. When she looked up, Ching and Zara had a hold of Lex. "All right, Lex. Where's the Kryptonite?"
Lex looked away, seemingly bored with the situation. "Did you hear what I just said, Lex? Where is the Kryptonite?"
"Oh, he heard you, Lois. So did I, even from way over here." A new voice sounded from the shadows on the far side of the room.
"Tok? Is that you?" Zara asked.
"Oh, it's me, dearest. But the real question is, will you be able to apprehend me *and* Lex?"
"Yes," a voice gasped from the floor. They all looked down and Clark was staggering unsteadily up.
"Clark? Are you all right?" Lois helped Clark get up, but as soon as he was standing on his feet, he fell right back down again.
"See? It's no use. You might as well just let us go … or you could always fight us and die," Tok stated matter-of-factly.
"NO! I won't let you get away! Especially you, *Luthor.*" Clark let Lex's last name roll of his tongue as if it didn't even have a right to be in his mouth.
"Is that a fact, Superman? I don't think you're in a position to be making threats." With that, Lex walked up to Clark and started to kick him. But the only problem was Clark grabbed onto Lex's foot right before it hit him in the ribs. Lex fell down, gracefully, as was his way, and tried to crawl away, but Clark had found some last hidden strength inside himself. He grabbed Lex, and was about to knock him out when Tok swept up behind Clark and pulled his pants down … for some odd reason. Bemused by Tok's weird sense of humor, Clark quickly pulled his pants back up, and handed the injured Lex over to Lois. She smiled wickedly at Lex while Zara, Ching, and Clark effectedly took care of Tok. Lex groaned, not only because he knew all was lost, but because Lois had long fingernails thrust into his neck.
"Three cheers for Lois and Clark!" Hoorays filled the festive atmosphere at the Daily Planet. Handshakes were exchanged, along with congratulations, and Jimmy watched Perry beam like a proud father. He scanned the Pulitzer-prize winning article that the team of Lane and Kent had written and looked once more at the two he was proud to even be in the presence of. They truly were the world's best reporters.
Okay, I know it was kinda long, but comments are welcome, any kind at all! -Rachel :)