By DSDragon <DASWillow783@gmail.com>
Submitted: September 2006
Summary: Someone waxes nostalgic about his job at the Planet. This vignette is a look at that question many FOLC's still ask: Whatever happened to Jack?
Author's Notes: Okay, for some reason, I got to thinking how it might be cool if someone could be the very FIRST person to read the day's news almost every day, hot off the presses. Then, I thought, "What if the news were the Daily Planet, and what if that someone was Jack?" It's kind of a ramble, but I had to get it out of my head.
*This story is set in VERY early season four, definitely before "Swear to God, This Time We're Not Kidding."*
Disclaimer: I don't own the characters or the settings in this fanfic. I only own the idea. The rest belongs to Warner Brothers.
Thanks to all who've reviewed/edited/commented on my stories thus far!
Jack reckoned he should probably thank Lex Luthor.
Well, he would, if the man weren't a psychopathic monster of a megalomaniacal crime lord, anyway.
The job Clark had helped him to get in the newsroom a few years ago was great for someone like him, who was fresh off the streets and desperately needed the money. But Jack had found in the last few years that, ironically, he actually liked the job in the printing plant that Luthor had forced him into much better.
His former job required him to get up early in the morning and take orders from the Daily Planet's Editor-in-Chief, Perry White.
Not that Jack objected to taking orders, per se—on the contrary, he had a lot of respect for Mr. White (not that it showed), and he was grateful that the editor had been willing to take only Clark's word that Jack would work hard before he hired him.
However, Jack's life on the streets with his brother, Denny, had mixed up his circadian rhythms. Often, the young man had had to spend his days in the hideout with his brother so that they wouldn't be caught, only venturing out at night to forage for food and things to sell for a bit of spare change.
He had become a creature of the night—sleeping most of the day away—and despite his willingness to earn his keep and work hard, Jack had found his daytime hours in the newsroom rather difficult.
The printing plant, on the other hand, not only had a day shift, who printed the afternoon edition of the Planet, but also a night shift, so that the all-important morning edition would be on time as well.
Jack had been pleased to find, after the paper's offices had been rebuilt, that the printing plant was short on night-time supervisors. It was a rare person who preferred to work nights anywhere, and many of the plant's former night staff had found daytime jobs in the interim, and weren't coming back.
Supervisory positions in the printing plant didn't require much that Jack didn't have, and he quickly went through the necessary qualification processes, earning a raise in the meantime which had allowed him to move out of the half-way house and get his own place about six months after the Planet was rebuilt.
About a year after that, once it became clear that Jack was not going to be losing his job or his residence anytime soon, social services had awarded Jack full custody of his brother, much to the boys' relief. Jack didn't think that would have happened if he'd had to work in the newsroom the whole time, fetching and carrying for everyone else up there at just over minimum wage.
The young man had found more than just the hours and stable paycheck to his liking though. A month or two after all Planet employees went back to work, Jack discovered that, if he timed it just right, he could sweep the floors from one end of the presses all the way to the other, and be the first person in the city to pick up a complete copy of the coming morning's news.
This was a process that Jack had down to an art, and therefore almost never had to pick up anything but the first copy.
Before he met Clark, Jack wouldn't have bothered to read farther than the dateline on any paper—be it the Planet, the Star, or even the Whisper. Now, he liked to read the headlines from the Planet logo all the way to the last classified ad.
The time he took to read the paper every morning was one of the few luxuries he allowed himself—the old street habits of saving everything possible still stuck with him—since he no longer had to spend most of his waking hours scrounging for food or money.
Every night, he would go to work, eagerly anticipating the morning edition. As it came off the presses, he would grab his copy—he had arranged to have his discounted subscription paid through wage deductions—and immediately took a break to put it next to the meal he had packed for the night.
Then, after his shift, he would make his way—with the paper—to the apartment he shared with Denny, who would be getting ready for school just as he got home.
The brothers would spend the next hour together, Denny gathering his books and waiting for the bus to arrive while Jack noted aloud some of the more interesting news, or one or another of Clark's exploits—whether they be in a suit and tie, or a suit made of spandex.
The boys had been delighted six months before, when Jack had found Lois and Clark's wedding engagement announcement. Unable to wait until the next time they saw the pair, which only happened occasionally when both Jack and the two reporters had free time, Jack immediately dialed Clark's number at the Planet and left a message—with Denny on their other handset—congratulating him on *finally* wearing his partner down, and good-naturedly trying to guilt their older friend into sending an invitation their way.
Clark had called back that afternoon after the city's schools let out for the day, told the boys that he expected nothing less than for them to attend the wedding, and said that he—shockingly—had even been able to talk Lois into liking the idea.
So Jack and Denny had gone to Lois and Clark's wedding a month or so ago, only to cringe later the next week when Jack read that Clark had actually married a clone, not to mention that the real Lois had had a double-helping of amnesia, and then about advent of the New Kryptonian problem just as she remembered who she was.
Despite his friends' ups and downs and the occasional bad news, however, Jack still loved his job at the Daily Planet's printing plant. So he figured he should probably thank Lex Luthor the next time he rose from the dead—which he was bound to do sometime.
Then again, Jack thought to himself, remembering his brief time in Juvenile Detention, maybe he shouldn't.
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