By Kermtzu <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: February 2007
Summary: Bobby Bigmouth tries to fill his stomach while gathering information before meeting with his favorite reporting team. A look into one of the minor yet important characters in the series with a twist from the DC Comics universe. Story set in mid-season two.
Authors notes:Words in single quotation marks indicate Bobby's thoughts. Words between asterisks indicate emphasis.
"You'll never work in this town again!" shouted the manager as two cooks threw Bobby out the back door, where he landed in a pile of empty produce boxes.
Bobby picked himself up and wiped off as much of the vegetable matter as he could. Some of it looked pretty good, so he munched it up happily. It wasn't enough to fill him up (nothing ever was), but it would have to do for now. Losing this job at the buffet, the last in a long line of restaurant firings due to his insatiable appetite, put a pretty grim face on the future. He had been certain that no one had seen him eating from the pans it had been his job to transport to the hot and cold buffets, but given enough time, any manager would notice that a full ten percent of food that entered the back delivery door never made it to the buffet tables. Restaurants normally didn't share much information with others, but they were starting to pass along his name and description as a mutual favor.
His stomach already grumbling with hunger, Bobby Bigmouth set off for his usual haunts. He'd be early today, but with no job (again), he hit the streets.
First stop, the donut shop. Bobby had long ago learned that old donuts were thrown out when they lost their freshness, and he'd made a deal for the owner to box up old ones for a pretty reasonable price. A couple dozen donuts for a couple bucks was a very nice deal, and he could munch them as he enjoyed the free coffee refills. Though the owner was threatening to cut him off on coffee again, grumbling that they were losing money.
Bobby's mouth wasn't the only big thing on him. His ears worked pretty well, too, and he overheard two men muttering from a nearby booth about a job. A few snatches of conversation made it clear that this was not a legitimate job, but a robbery in the planning stages. Small-time, but he'd make forty dollars easy for reporting this to the correct precinct police once he figured out where the heist was planned.
Bobby might be an obvious glutton to those around him, but that worked in his favor, as no one ever looked past that, seeing only what they expected to see. He might get one or two looks of disgust (or amazement) as he put away the food, but never a suspicious look. He looked to the world at large as a man focused only on his meal, and nothing else. Exactly what he wanted.
Another booth had a couple talking about their love life. Ugh. No need to listen in on that one. The only crime there was wasted time. Bobby could tell that there was no future for those two. They disagreed almost as much as they cooed at each other. Unlike Lane and Kent, they were aware of just how they felt about each other (well, unlike Lane, at least), but these two would never get past their disagreements. Bobby gave it another month. Now, if Lois Lane were to figure out just how Clark Kent felt about her, and returned that feeling, Bobby wouldn't take *any* odds on that not working out. They made a terrific team.
He had a meeting with those two later in the day. He had some information on a few things they might fight interesting, and it was enough for some Italian *and* Chinese. As long as Lois Lane didn't try to sneak off with his egg rolls, he wouldn't even beat around the bush and just offer up everything in order to savor the food.
Twenty eight donuts later, Bobby's next stop was the fish market. He had another deal worked out there. He'd overheard information about the protection racket that used to shake down businesses in Hobbs Bay. That information had been judiciously given over to both the police *and* his favorite reporting team. The protection racket was no more, but Bobby had gotten full meals (and for him, that was saying something) from both the reporters and the police, and now this sweet deal in the fish market.
Any fish that was at its last day of sale was cooked up for Bobby by the owners of the market by way of thanks for his part in ending the extortion. Fried, broiled, steamed or grilled — his choice. The fish was terrific, and you just never knew who would be in the market. The wholesalers had good information on the unions and various business people. The fishermen themselves had an information network on petty and organized crime (along with a thousand other tidbits), and the patrons always had their own stories. Just last week, he'd heard a restaurateur ordering some cheap fish for his menu, and Bobby knew for a fact that he was going to pass it off as a much more expensive variety of fish. He'd *known* that the tilapia he'd "fished" out of the dumpster from that fancy restaurant had had something off to the flavor.
Nothing of major interest today at the fish market other than some excellent grilled whitefish and walleye, about three pounds of each. Time to head over to see Lane and Kent, with a quick stop along the way at Centennial Park. People were always leaving half-finished bags of popcorn and peanuts around, and the pigeons and squirrels knew better than to mess with Bobby Bigmouth. If one hopped between him and food, it just might get swept along for the short ride to his ever-hungry stomach.
Lane and Kent were parked in a alley, as always, in Lois' Jeep. She was trying to sneak an egg roll *and* a spring roll out of the takeout bag. The nerve! Just order extra next time for yourself, Lois! Of course, if there were more in the bag, there was no guarantee that Bobby would let the it get past him to Lois.
Bless him, Clark Kent was pulling the bag away from Lois and her protestations. She tried arguing, and then a pouting look, but Kent saw right through both of them. The guy might be super in more ways than one! No one had ever been able to figure out, let alone survive, Lois Lane when she wanted something but Kent made it look easy. It was a treat to see Kent not only fend off her attempts at theft, but to make her enjoy their squabbling at the same time. Man! When was she ever going to figure out just how good this guy was for her?
And was she *ever* going to make him pay when he finally filled her in on his secret! As many times as Clark slipped up about Superman, Bobby was surprised that Lois hadn't figured it out yet, like he had.
He popped up in the back seat, as always, just to get her goat. She never could figure out how he did that, and it drove her crazy. He was pretty sure that Kent knew how, but just as Bobby knew Clark's secret was one he'd always keep, Clark enjoyed seeing Lois discomfited at Bobby's entrances enough to never tell.
"Bobby! You scared the life out of me! How do you do that, anyhow?"
"Trade secret — you know that! We snitches have to get in and out of tight spots and situations to get the good stuff. And speaking of good stuff, I smell Chinese. Did you bring the Italian, too? I hope that pizza is a full one, Lois. Last time it was shy a slice."
"You've got the full order, Bobby, and it'd better be worth it. That food isn't cheap!"
Bobby ignored her as he dug in. He doubted it was too expensive, since it was authentic Hunan and Sicilian food. Food there would be cheaper than in Metropolis. Clark must've flown out and picked it up. Lois was just trying to guilt him, as usual. No dice, Lois!
"So what've you got for us, Bobby?" asked Clark. He was smiling at Lois, but whether from enjoying her reaction to Bobby's entrance or just his habitual, "I'm near Lois" grin, Bobby couldn't tell.
"Well, Clark," Bobby forced out between bites, "Not much on the chop shop story. They're stealing the cars here in Metropolis, and selling the parts here, but I haven't heard where they're dismantling the cars. Honestly? I think they're driving the cars out of Metropolis to do the work elsewhere, then shipping back the parts."
Lois was thoughtful. "That fits in with what we thought, Bobby. We've identified three car parts dealers that are selling the refurbished stuff as new, but the story can't run until we have the whole network figured out. Can you get a lead on what group is behind the thefts? If we have the first and last links on the operation, we can work inwards to find the chop shops, even if they're out of town or out of state."
"Will do," Bobby said as he alternated between the ethnic specialties. Soy sauce dripped from one corner of his mouth as a marinara sauce ran from the other.
Clark interjected, "Good idea, Lois. I'll check with my sources at the rail yards and trucking firms to see if they're bringing back in the goods. I'll ask Superman if he can scan a few automotive shops in the nearby area as well to see if any are doing only dismantling, and no repairs."
'You just do that, Clark,' thought Bobby as he savored two crab cheese at once. 'You had better hurry up and tell your partner pretty soon just how you get Superman to do these little errands for you. She will have you skinned and mounted on the wall, invulnerability or not, if you don't let her in on the news pretty soon. Mad Dog Lane will become Nuclear Lane after that revelation. Just let me know before you tell her, so I can be out of the city…
"Stop stuffing your face for a minute, Bobby, and tell us what you *do* know, not just guesses. Otherwise, I'll bring diet soda and crackers for you next time!" Lois snapped.
"You wound me, Lois! I was just getting to the good stuff."
"I hear that your source in the Mayor's office may have leaked too much. She had a pretty nasty write-up for her last annual review. Can't say that it has anything to do with her talking to you, but she'll be skittish. I wouldn't count on her for a while, if you don't want her tossed out of governmental service."
"How do you know that? And just how do you know who our source is?"
Bobby just smiled at Lois as he bit into a stromboli. Man, was that good! Not American stromboli, but for once Bobby wasn't going to push his usual patriotic stance. This was the genuine article.
"Anything about the rumors from Gotham City, Bobby?" asked Clark.
"Not rumors. They're true. Crime is down, minor and major thieves are getting nabbed, and the word is that the Batman is responsible. He's real, although no one really knows much about him. I'm trying to get some more sources in Gotham, since he's put so many of the *criminal element* into prison — sources aren't easy to replace."
"Clark, we should get Perry to send us to Gotham City for the story!" exclaimed Lois. "Superman isn't the only hero around these days!"
Clark frowned slightly. "We don't know that he's a hero, Lois. Sure, he puts away bad guys, but he operates only in the dark and I hear that he's not too careful how he treats suspects."
'Plus, you don't need one more hero to distract Lois, do you Clark?' mused Bobby to himself.
"Hero or not, Perry *is* going to send us to Gotham City for this story. I'll see if Perry will send Jimmy along — if he can get a shot of this mysterious man, he'll really raise his stock with Perry."
"That's nice of you, Lois, thinking about Jimmy's future!"
"What are you talking about, Clark? A great photograph will automatically increase the point size of our headline! Perry will be so pleased that the headline, our byline and the photograph will be the only things above the fold!"
Lois paused. "And… it wouldn't hurt Jimmy, either."
Clark smiled at Lois, and Bobby did, too, or as much of a smile he could manage around a mouthful of General Tso's chicken. Lois really had a good heart. It had been so wrapped up in her protective shields that it had never showed up for the past few years. Her partner had patiently worked through those shields, removing them one by one. As Lois had come to trust Clark, she had also become less wary of the world. Those old hurts were only memories, now, well packed away and not constantly in her thoughts and moods. The Lois Lane who had fought tooth and nail against taking a partner would now fight doubly hard to keep him (although she would never admit it to anyone).
Looking at Clark, Bobby knew that Lois wasn't the only one who had benefited from this partnership. He had never seen anyone as happy as Clark Kent. Even during their many arguments, the glow coming off of him never stopped. When they weren't arguing, which was more and more common these days. Clark never stopped smiling that goofy grin at Lois.
That constant beaming would tax the muscles of anyone who wasn't Superman.
Bobby could tell that Clark Kent loved Lois Lane, body and soul, and always would. Bobby knew also that Lois had strong feelings for Clark; you didn't have to be a snitch or investigative reporter to see that. If she would just investigate *her* feelings and act appropriately!
"Anything else, Bobby?"
"Just that I need a napkin before I drip on your back seat, Lois."
"Yuck!" She turned to hand over a dozen, only to find that Bobby was gone.
"How does he do that, Clark? And his metabolism? I worry about the calories in one double fudge crunch bar, and Bobby packs it away and is thin as a rail! It just isn't fair!"
Bobby smiled as they drove away, probably heading back to the Planet. Lois would browbeat Perry White into sending them to Gotham City; Bobby had no doubt. He'd put a word out to his sources in Gotham City. If Superman were to meet the Batman! Bobby would love to be a fly on the wall for that meeting!
Bobby's stomach was already starting to empty out, even with two full meals. He sighed. It was his ability, of course. One which he'd hoped to put to good use here in Metropolis. At least, until Superman arrived. No one could compete with the big guy for the good he did; Bobby sure wasn't going to try. The help that Bobby could give him and his beautiful, petite and fiery partner with his tips was enough for him now to make a difference.
If his mother didn't live in town, though, Bobby would've probably headed out elsewhere, somewhere that needed someone with special abilities. Here, his ability to listen carefully was more important than the one with which he'd been born.
Sighing again, Bobby pulled up a scrap of newspaper from the alleyway. He crumpled it and stuffed it into his mouth. Chewing and swallowing almost with the same bite, he bent over to pick up a single tennis shoe. Not too tasty, but he was really hungry! Biting in, he wondered why it was that there was always just one abandoned shoe. Where was the other shoe? Across town, lonely without its mate?
Pondering one of the unanswerable questions of the universe, Bobby Bigmouth, once called Matter Eater Lad, exited the alley, off for a quick bite to eat.
Just an addendum to the story — Matter Eater Lad is a character in DC Comics who has the ability to eat any amount of anything at super speed. Yes, you read that right. I always thought of this character when I saw Bobby, and made the mental connection. To the fans of Lois & Clark who have not read the comics, however, I realized that this reference might be lost, and the ending less understandable. The creators of the character did have a sense of humor, however: Matter Eater Lad's home planet is Bismoll. (To non-US readers, Pepto-Bismol is a remedy for indigestion).