By Adam Labotka <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted July 2001
Summary: This companion vignette to "Don't Tug On Superman's Heart" explores the reactions of both Jimmy and Perry to Lois's supposed death in the episode "Don't Tug On Superman's Cape."
This is a companion piece to Don't Tug On Superman's Heart, which deals with Clark's feelings during the time he thinks Lois is dead in Don't Tug On Superman's Cape. The blame for this one is on Tank and all the people who jumped on the bandwagon wanting a companion piece, but, to spite Tank, we have Jimmy's thoughts as well as Perry's;). Thanks to Missy and Cindy for their wonderful beta reading yet again, and thanks to Cindy for the title. As always, thanks to Zoom's boards and the people there for their help.
Feedback is appreciated at email@example.com.
Jimmy had been surprised to see a strange, bald man sitting by Lois' desk, and assumed she had just forgotten to cancel an appointment when she had left town to lie low for a few days. He had been even more shocked and dismayed when Lois had shown up in the newsroom shortly thereafter. Didn't she realize she was still in danger? Shaking his head, he went about his work. He'd never understand why Lois took so many risks.
It was a miracle she was still alive, mused Jimmy. Well, not so much now that Superman was around, but still, she'd been getting into tough situations as long as he had known her. Lois must lead a charmed life to have lived through it all. He just hoped that luck never ran out.
Almost an hour after Lois had left the newsroom, Jimmy noticed a videotape that hadn't been there before lying on a nearby desk. Curious he checked it out and found a note saying, "Here's something Superman should be interested in — Bad Brain Johnson." Jimmy swallowed, almost fearful of what might be on the tape. He found no indications of where it had come from so he decided to bring it to Perry so he could decide what to do with it.
Sighing, Jimmy headed to Perry's office hoping he wasn't in a bad mood. Hesitantly, he knocked on the editor's door.
Perry was upset after finding Lois in the newsroom. Boy did that girl infuriate him sometimes. She had little regard for her own safety, and someday that attitude would catch up with her. Thank God for Superman, Perry thought, without whom that day would already have come. Here she was again, ignoring the danger this Bad Brain posed.
He loved Lois like a daughter, but all this worrying wasn't good for his health. Perry had hoped Clark would have a settling influence on her, his natural caution balancing out her recklessness. Sadly though, it wasn't working out quite the way he hoped. Lois still got into far too much danger. When he expressed concern for her, by asking about her bulletproof vest, she had just made a joke about his tie. Sure, Alice had strange taste in ties, even stranger then Clark's, but he was trying to make her happy. Still, he smiled slightly; it had been funny.
Perry was still lost in thought, worrying about Lois, when he was roused by a soft knock at his door. Glancing up, he saw Jimmy waiting anxiously on the other side. "Come in," Perry commanded.
Perry watched as Jimmy carefully opened the door. Man, Jimmy could be so timid at times, always afraid of upsetting him. Someday he'd manage to teach that boy to be more confident.
"Uh, chief, I found this tape out here. There was a note saying, 'Here's something Superman should be interested in,' and it's signed by Bad Brain. I didn't know what to do with it so I brought it to you," Jimmy explained quickly.
Motioning Jimmy in, "Bring it over here son," Perry said, dismay in his tone.
Perry wondered what this was all about. Why had Bad Brain brought a tape for Superman here? What could be on the tape? Whatever it was, it couldn't be good. It was a typical VHS tape, no markings to indicate anything out of the ordinary other than the note. "Jimmy, set up a VCR in the newsroom. It won't hurt to find out what this is about," Perry said, morbid curiosity getting the better of him.
Several minutes later the whole newsroom had gathered around to find out what was on the mysterious tape for Superman. Normally Perry wouldn't allow such an occurrence in the middle of a workday, but he didn't feel he could deny them; after all it was his own curiosity that brought him here. When everyone had quieted down, Perry nodded to Jimmy to start the tape.
Perry watched the television and felt his heart drop when he saw Lois appear on the screen. A feeling of dread took him, and he couldn't shake it. He watched horrified as she cried out, "Bad Brain," and Perry knew he was watching her death. It took all his reserve not to break down as he watched Lois disintegrated by the electro-whammy, but he couldn't allow himself to lose control in front of the newsroom.
Perry barely registered it when Jimmy began to rewind the tape. He was brought out of his reverie when Superman rushed in, asking worriedly, "Where's Lois?"
"Superman," Perry managed to get out, more out of habit then anything else.
He watched as the superhero made his way through the crowd. Perry didn't have the heart to tell him what had happened. Lois was Superman's best friend, aside from maybe Clark, and he would be beating himself up inside about not having been there. He just couldn't crush the young man. No one deserved to feel like Perry did right now.
"What's happened?" Superman asked, concerned.
Perry decided to let Superman see for himself what had happened. Jimmy started the tape up, and it wasn't easier to watch the second time then it had been the first time. Perry watched Superman's face fall, emotions showing through the mask he normally kept in place. As bad as he felt, watching the proud superhero's face fall made it even worse. The sarcastic comment from Bad Brain, "Oh, don't look so shocked, on second thought…" cut into him like a knife just like last time. He watched as Superman's composure failed him and he shattered the television in one blow, screaming out, "NOOOO!"
Perry watched as Superman fled out of the newsroom, as if fleeing from the knowledge of Lois' death. He felt the need to flee as well. To get out of the newsroom so he could let go his thin veneer of control. As quickly as he could without giving himself away, Perry went to the safety of his office.
Once inside his office, Perry let go and all the hidden grief came rushing out. Tears were in his eyes as he thought of Lois. She was so young and vibrant; she didn't deserve to be snuffed out so soon. He remembered thinking about her tendency to danger catching up with her earlier and felt even worse. Why hadn't he kept a better eye on her? He should have sent her back to Kansas as soon as he saw her in the newsroom, gone with her personally to make sure she went. He had been too lenient on her, letting her take these risks for the stories they brought, so when the time had come to make her be careful, he just hadn't been able to do it.
Perry considered notifying Clark, but he just couldn't handle it right now. Clark would be devastated far worse then anyone else, except maybe for Superman. Clark had loved Lois since the moment he laid eyes on her, and just when she was starting to return that love he had lost her. Oh, Perry knew Superman loved Lois as well — he wasn't very good about hiding it at times — but he hadn't been able to pursue a relationship with her. She meant so much to both men, and now she was gone. And Perry was without his daughter.
Unable to face telling Clark and unwilling to even try and move on, Perry lay his head upon his desk and let the tears flow. Soon he knew he would have to get back to work; the news stopped for nothing, not even Lois' death. But for now he needed the release.
Jimmy watched as his shell-shocked boss almost ran into his office. Others might have been fooled by Perry's facade, but he had known him long enough to know how deeply Perry cared for Lois. Jimmy noticed everything around him with a strange detachment, feeling completely numb.
Lois had been a good friend of his, and he had even had a little crush on her. And now she was gone, Jimmy just couldn't bring himself to believe it. Any minute, she'd come into the newsroom, back from wherever she went and laugh at them for believing the tape. Fully in denial, Jimmy mechanically dismantled the television and moved it back to its normal place.
Once Jimmy had finished the routine tasks, he sat down and suddenly the enormity of what he had seen hit him. Lois was dead, gone forever. He'd hear her voice again as she yelled at him to do research, her laugh when Clark teased her, something he'd never heard before Clark had come into the newsroom.
That thought brought him to his friend, Clark. He would be absolutely devastated when he found out. Clark had been so patient, waiting for Lois to notice him as more then a friend. Everyone in the newsroom knew of the torch he carried for her. And just when his patience had paid off and Lois was with him, her life was snuffed out cruelly by a mad man. It just wasn't fair.
Jimmy grieved doubly, both for his own loss and that of his friend. Part of him felt he had jinxed Lois with his earlier thoughts about her luck running out. He just sat there in a daze for several minutes, totally dejected. He barely noticed when Perry stuck his head out of the office and said quietly, "Jimmy, son, can you come in here a minute?"
Jimmy stood up and mechanically walked to Perry's office, almost zombie- like, heedless of most of what was happening around him. Perry closed the door behind Jimmy, then stood beside him, and put his hand on Jimmy's shoulder comfortingly. "She's gone, Jimmy. I'll never get used to that either," Perry said, trying to sound comforting but mostly concerned.
Keeping a quiet, concerned tone Perry continued, after a brief pause, "Now have we heard from Clark?"
"No," Jimmy replied, his voice breaking from the emotional strain. He knew Perry was trying to help him, but he wasn't in the mood. And he was glad Clark hadn't called, because then he'd have had to tell him about Lois. That's the last thing Jimmy wanted to do.
Jimmy barely registered that Perry took his hand off his shoulder. He was too caught up in sorrow to notice much around him. "Why couldn't she have just stayed hidden?" Jimmy mused aloud.
Perry smiled briefly and said, "Lois is a very…" Perry stopped, and Jimmy watched his face fall. "Was a very headstrong woman," Perry concluded.
As Perry turned and walked away, shoulders slouched slightly, Jimmy felt the need to try to comfort him. Following him, Jimmy said the first thing that came to his mind that might help. "Chief, Superman will find Bad Brain, but when he does I'd hate to be in his shoes." A mental image of Superman grinding Bad Brain into pulp flashed through Jimmy's mind, and it felt good. "But I'd love to be there to see Superman kick his butt," Jimmy finished.
"Yeah, but where is Superman? I mean, is he even on the case?" Perry said sounding somewhat disgusted.
Jimmy was a bit surprised to hear that tone from Perry. "You want my guess?" Jimmy said, remembering how much the superhero cared for Lois. "Superman is somewhere bumming big time." Just like us, Jimmy thought.
Suddenly there was a knock on the door. Perry said shortly, "Don't come in here unless you've got good news."
"Package for you, Mr. White," Frank, from the mailroom, said, bringing in a white box. Jimmy wondered what could be in it, but also was afraid considering how the day had gone so far.
"Oh," Perry said, unenthusiastically. "Thank you."
The man set down the box on Perry's desk and left quickly. Perry opened the box and inside, Jimmy was shocked to see a dark red cape, obviously Superman's. What could this be?
"What's this?" Perry said, reaching into the box and pulling the cape out.
As he pulled the cape out, Jimmy looked in the box, waiting to see what else would be revealed. Inside was a chunk of Kryptonite with a note saying 'Bad Brain Johnson — Third times a charm.' Jimmy went cold. This could only mean one thing.
"Oh my God," Perry said in shock and disbelief.
"He's dead," Jimmy said, shocked to the very core for the second time in one day. "Superman is dead."
It was impossible; Superman couldn't die, but the evidence was right before his eyes. Bad Brain had won; he had gotten Lois and Superman. Jimmy knew his life would never be the same; he had lost two friends on the same day. Clark would probably soon follow too. Jimmy had to get out of there and he ran from Perry's office.
Perry watched Jimmy flee, and he couldn't blame him. Heck, he felt like doing the same thing, but he knew that he had to hold together, that breaking apart would do no one any good. He felt very bad for having been slightly angry at Superman before, but he hadn't been able to help it. Part of him had wanted to blame Superman for Lois' death. Oh, he knew that Superman would have been there if at all possible. Superman would have given up his life for Lois if necessary. Perry was certain of that. But still, part of him had wanted to lash out at Superman.
Now that Superman was dead, guilt tugged at Perry for having wanted to blame him instead of putting all the blame on Bad Brain, as he should have. With Superman gone, what was going to happen? The world needed Superman. He had saved so many lives, but in the end he couldn't save his own. And of course, Bad Brain would probably get away now that Superman was out of the picture.
Perry sat down in his chair with a thump. Despite his determination not to fall apart, all Perry did was stare off into space.
Several hours later, Perry was still staring off into space when suddenly there was a large commotion from the newsroom. Just as he was beginning to wonder what was going on out there, Jimmy stuck his head in the office, smiling widely. Perry was shocked by Jimmy's expression: in fact, his whole being seemed lighter now. What could possibly have happened?
Excitedly, Jimmy said, "Chief, you have got to come out and see this for yourself."
Curious, Perry forced himself to rise and left his office. The sight that greeted him was unbelievable. Everyone was clustered around two figures in the middle of the newsroom, two very recognizable figures. Lois and Superman were standing there accepting welcomes and the general joy everyone expressed at seeing them alive. Perry felt a weight lift off his shoulders, and joy filled him.
Heedless of keeping his composure, Perry rushed to them and hugged Lois, so happy to see her alive he didn't care what people thought. "Darlin', I'm so glad to see you. I'm happier than a preacher in a month of Sundays," Perry said, his voice filled with joy. "But what happened? We all thought both of you were dead. In fact, we saw you die, Lois. Where's Bad Brain?" Perry questioned them, all in a rush.
"Mr. White," Superman said formally. "If you don't mind, I'll let Lois tell you all the details while I go get Clark. He's probably worried sick by now."
Perry looked closely at the superhero at his words. He was definitely back to his old self as far as Perry could tell, for which he was glad. Only Superman would think of his friend at a time like this, Perry thought as he nodded. "Go ahead. I'm sure Clark has been fretting over Lois ever since she came back here. I'm just surprised he hasn't called."
Lois and Superman shared a strange look, full of worry and perhaps a touch of conspiracy. Did they know something about Clark that he didn't? Had Bad Brain injured Clark and they had kept it from him? Perry was just about to demand to know what was with Clark when Lois said, "Oh Clark probably didn't want me to think he was trying to wrap me in cotton again. I've certainly complained to him about it enough. I bet he figured you'd call if there was any news."
Perry considered what she said, and it did make some sense, but he didn't completely buy it. Something was fishy here, but for lack of a better explanation, he accepted it. Maybe he could find out the truth from Clark.
Superman left quickly, heading to pick up Clark. As soon as he had left, Perry turned on Lois. "Ok, darlin', time to spill. What really happened?
Lois explained to Perry and the rest of the newsroom about the Lakes and how they planned to kidnap, and hold, Superman for their collection, using her to keep him there. As Perry listened, he thought how intelligent the plan was, and how glad he was that it had failed. He wasn't at all surprised to learn that Superman had decided to give up his life to stay and make sure Lois would live; it was just like him. Perry had known that Superman still loved Lois, and this just proved it. The sacrifices that man must go through for the rest of the world.
Several minutes later, Lois finished her explanation of events, though Perry felt she had left some parts out. They were probably too personal, and he didn't begrudge her keeping some secrets. If she hadn't known before, she had to realize now how much Superman loved her. She had given Superman up for Clark, but she probably still felt something for him too.
"Think you'll be able to write this one up? Or maybe I should let someone else do it, Ralph maybe?" Perry asked, a twinkle in his eye, teasing her slightly.
"Of course I can Perry," Lois huffed indignantly. "As soon as my partner gets here. I'm sure Superman will fill him in on what happened."
Perry chuckled. Yep his old Lois was back, spitfire and all. Of course, now she actually wanted to write a story with a partner. Shaking his head amusedly, Perry went back to his office. Who would have thought Lois Lane would want a partner two and a half years ago? She certainly had changed since Clark came on, for the better Perry was sure. He watched from his office as Clark entered the newsroom from the elevator and ran over to Lois, hugging her fiercely. Lois was clinging to him just as hard; obviously they were relieved to see each other. Lois and Clark, Perry mused, partners in work, maybe soon, partners in life. He was proud. His newsroom family was whole again.
Jimmy, too, watched Lois and Clark embrace. Today had been a big day emotionally, going from low to high. Lois was alive, Superman was alive, and everything was right in the world. As he watched them embrace, Jimmy was reminded of how much Lois had changed since Clark joined the newsroom. She was generally happier. Much more social then she had been in the time Jimmy had known her before Clark. Sometimes she seemed like a different woman. But every once and a while Mad Dog Lane would return to remind them that she was indeed the same woman.
Feeling perhaps a bit alone and ignored, as he often did, like a secondary character not needed at the moment, Jimmy was nevertheless content. Whatever tomorrow would bring, whatever horrors might come, now was a time to rejoice. The impossible had happened again.
Suddenly, he heard Perry bellow, "JIMMY!", and knew it was time to get to work. Yes, everything was right in the world today.