By Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: September 2001
Summary: This is the third and last in the series of short vignettes based on the episode "That Old Gang of Mine." Jimmy has some unfinished business with Superman.
This is a continuation of two vignettes based on TOGOM and recently posted to the list and MBs: My Friend, which I posted a few weeks ago and which is now on the Archive at http://www.lcfanfic.com/stories/2001/myfriend.txt. Hazel then wrote a lovely, poignant sequel which took us up to the end of the episode, and which was posted on the list and the lastson boards this morning. Hazel's sequel inspired me to write this.
If you haven't read either My Friend or My Friend 2, this will make no sense at all! You'll find My Friend 2 here: http://www.lcfanfic.com/stories/2001/myfrien2.txt
I'm hanging around taking pictures of emergency services freeing people from a car wreck near the edge of town when suddenly there's this loud >whoosh< from above.
It's *him*. Superman.
I continue snapping as he makes short work of getting the trapped victims out, then quietly informs the paramedics about their injuries. What a guy. What a smart, all- knowing, decent, *caring* guy.
I take one final photograph. He's finished. My heart starts to thump faster. This is my chance; I've been waiting for this for over a week, and I'm not going to miss it now.
I step out from the small cluster of reporters and snappers. "Superman!"
He pauses, glancing towards me. "Jimmy?" He takes a step in my direction; I move further away from the other people, gesturing to a side road. Giving me an enquiring look, he follows.
When I stop, he stops too, a friendly, encouraging smile on his face. I realise that he thinks I want an interview. No, thanks, I mutely retort, scorn dripping from the words I don't speak.
I silently gear myself up, reminding myself just how it had felt last week, hearing what had happened in that club, and waiting, waiting for the punchline in which Superman swept in and saved everyone. The punchline that never came, because then they told me that CK was dead.
Superman never came. And because of that, CK was dead.
And then later Superman didn't even bother to tell me that my friend was alive after all. That's why I'm furious with him. Even though CK is safe and well and it's great to have him back, the pain's still there inside me.
This is my chance. I take a deep breath, then launch my fist upwards and towards his chin.
It never connects. I didn't even see him move, but his hand is gripping my wrist. It's a tight hold; I can't move my arm. And yet it doesn't hurt. I knew he was strong, but not that he could be so… gentle.
I look up to see puzzlement in his face, and something which looks suspiciously like… compassion.
Ha! It would have been something if he'd shown any of that last week.
"Let go of me," I mutter.
He releases my wrist immediately. "I'm sorry, Jimmy," he said softly. "I couldn't let you do it. You could have broken your hand. And anyway, even if I'd been able to moderate my reactions to stop you being hurt, you wouldn't have hurt me."
I mutter something; I don't even know what it was. It's just typical. I never get anything right. I can't even punch Superman out for what he did. And once he tells Lois, or CK, what I did, I'll be a laughing-stock. As usual.
No, CK wouldn't say anything. He's not like that. But then, he's the only one in the whole damn place who doesn't think I'm not worth bothering with. I'm invisible, except when people want something.
This was a waste of time. No, worse; a humiliation. I turn to walk away.
"Wait." I half-turn, surprised to see Superman's still there. Why hasn't he flown away by now? After all, what's to keep him here? Just me. Just Jimmy Olsen, the guy nobody ever notices.
"Jimmy, something upset you so much you wanted to punch me. I'd like to know what."
"It doesn't matter," I say curtly. But it does. It matters more than I can tell anyone. But I'm not going to embarrass myself any further. This was a stupid idea. "Go on, get on with whatever it is you do; go rescue someone or whatever."
"No-one's calling for help right now," he answers. His expression is troubled; he's looking at me, and there's definitely compassion in his eyes. I recoil; I don't want his compassion. I wanted him to be there nine days ago, when I lost my friend. Okay, he brought CK back — at least, that's what CK says. I don't believe the story CK gave us, but the part about Superman being responsible is probably true.
But that's not the point. Superman wasn't there when he was needed. And he…
Well, nobody notices me anyway. Why should he be any different?
"Let's talk, Jimmy." He's holding out a hand towards me. "Not here — will you let me take you somewhere?"
Hot tears are now threatening, humiliating me further; a lump in my throat is choking me. Part of me longs to go with him, to tell him exactly what I think of him. But I can't. Not like this. I have to get away, now, and try to forget that I was so stupid.
After all, no-one else seems to blame Superman for anything. Not even Lois, and she missed CK even more than I did, I think. I don't know about CK's parents; they never came to Metropolis in the end. Perry gave him a couple of days' leave and he flew out to see them.
I shake my head, not looking at him, and begin to walk out of the alley. There's nothing for me here.
I don't know why I even bothered, really. CK's back; shouldn't that be all that counts? Superman didn't do anything that lots of other people don't do every day. He just didn't notice me that day. Sure, he spoke to me; but he didn't notice me.
I hear a sigh, and suddenly a strong arm is wrapped securely around my waist, and my feet aren't touching the ground. What…?
"Let me go, Superman," I say, trying to sound firm, but my voice cracks as I speak.
"We need to discuss this. If I've done something to hurt you, or make you angry with me, I want to know so that I can put it right," he tells me.
I sigh. He's not going to let me go. So I concentrate on not looking at him, and willing those betraying tears away. We're not flying for long; barely a couple of minutes later he's landing. I look around; we're on top of a building somewhere. It's a very tall building — in fact, I can't see anything in the skyline that's taller.
"Where are we?" I can't stop myself asking.
"The top of the old LexCorp building," he answers immediately. That makes sense; the tallest building in the city. No-one can see us up here, unless they're in an airplane.
"Jimmy. What did I do?" he asks, his voice concerned.
Finally, I can turn to face him, my traitorous emotions under control. "It's what you didn't do," I announce curtly.
He's waiting, so I add, angrily, "Where were you when CK was shot?"
I allow myself a cynical smile. He knows exactly what I mean, and at least he has the conscience to feel guilty about it. But not enough to apologise to Clark's friends, obviously. I wonder if he even apologised to CK.
Quietly, he says, "I wish I could have been there. Believe me, there's nothing I wished more after it happened. If you think I let him down… then I did." His eyes are sad as he looks at me, and I find my anger beginning to dissipate.
"Jimmy." He's speaking again, and I bite my lip. "I can understand that you might have been angry with me last week because I wasn't able to prevent Clark getting killed. But this isn't why you tried to hit me back there, is it?"
Of course he'd figure that. I should have known he wouldn't accept the fact that he didn't save CK as the whole story. I sigh. "That was part of it, but it's not the whole reason."
"Then tell me the rest." He's looking concerned now; the sad look has gone, but he's clearly not going anywhere until I tell him everything.
I feel stupid. I'd run, except there aren't many places to go when you're on the roof of the highest building in Metropolis. And knowing my luck, the stairwell is probably locked.
"You didn't tell me," I blurt out at last, unnerved by the way he's looking at me.
He blinks. "Didn't tell you what?"
"You knew CK was alive, and you didn't tell me!"
He freezes. I stare at him; he looks scared suddenly, as if he's afraid I've stumbled on something and he doesn't know how to get out of it. For someone as powerful as Superman, he looks kind of like a rabbit facing an oncoming wolf.
"I… how did you know?" he asks at last.
I shake my head, not understanding what's going on here. "When you came back to the Planet and saved us all from Capone and his gang. You knew CK was alive, and you didn't tell me. Didn't you *know* how much I was hurting? — how much we all were grieving for him? Didn't you care?" I accuse him angrily.
"You mean… then…?" I still can't figure out what's up with him. Now he looks relieved, as if something he'd feared hasn't happened after all. But I don't understand. Is there something I'm missing here?
Well, that'd be nothing new.
I have to ask one more question, though. "Did you know when you came looking for Lois?" I demand.
He shifts a little, avoiding my gaze. "I… hoped. But I wasn't sure, then. I… wouldn't have wanted to get your hopes up."
"But you were going to tell Lois," I remind him, my voice hard.
"I wanted to tell her first," he admits.
Yeah. Just like everyone else, he thought of Lois first. I suppose she is CK's partner, and she says he's her best friend. And he's in love with her. I know that, but I'm pretty sure she still doesn't. And if she started to think again about what she feels for him, during those hours when he was dead, it doesn't look like she's doing anything about it.
She still doesn't know what she has. I'd give anything to have someone care about me — *love* me — the way Clark loves Lois.
Okay, I can forgive Superman not telling me then. But when he came back, at the party, he could have told me then. But I guess I shouldn't blame him for doing what everyone else does all the time.
Not noticing me.
I turn away. "Please, take me back down now."
"Jimmy, you're right," he says. "I could have told you after I'd dealt with Capone and his gang. But I didn't. I should have. I… didn't realise…" He trails off; I turn around again and notice that he's looking uncomfortable.
"You didn't realise what?" I demand. "That he was — *is* — my friend too? That he's the only one in that whole newsroom who doesn't treat me as just a gofer? That… that I *cared* that he was dead? Is that it?"
I turn my back on him again, embarrassed that I actually said all that. Why would he care, anyway? I'm just feeling sorry for myself, and I hate it when I do that.
"Forget about it, Superman," I mutter, knowing that he'll hear. "Just take me back down."
"Jimmy, I'm sorry." Now his voice is gentle, and suddenly he is standing in front of me. He looks stricken, and his eyes… I blink. He has incredibly expressive eyes. Kind of like CK does, actually. And right now they're looking at me and telling me that he's appalled with himself. "I didn't think," he tells me. "It's no excuse, but I just didn't think."
"That's okay," I tell him awkwardly; a little belligerently still. "No-one ever does where I'm concerned."
"It's not okay," he insists, still looking apologetic. "I should have known better. You're a good friend, Jimmy — you're very loyal to the people you care about. And you deserve better treatment."
Yeah, I think I do deserve better treatment. Not much. Being noticed now and again might help. And it's nice of Superman to say so. It's just a pity that it took me yelling at him to make him say it.
Hey, that's a thought! Maybe I should yell at the Chief a little. That might make him stop treating me like part of the furniture. CK's always telling me that I need to stand up for myself. I guess he was right all along. But then, I knew that. I'm useless that way. Sometimes, you'd think that *I* don't notice me.
"Superman." I look him straight in the eye and smile. After all, it is thanks to him that CK's alive after all. "Thanks for bringing CK back. That was a very good thing you did."
He smiles in return. "I'm glad you think so, Jimmy."
"I do. Will you take me back now, please?"
"Sure," he says, wrapping an arm around my waist again. "And, Jimmy? Thank you for telling me how insensitive I was. I'll try not to do it again."
No, I don't think he will — do it again, that is. But I've learned something even more important today, something which I hope will stop people treating me like I'm invisible in future.
I can't expect anyone to have any respect for me unless I have respect for myself. And that's a lesson well worth learning.
"Thanks, Superman," I say as he lowers me to the ground next to my bike. He thinks I'm thanking him for the ride. I know better.