By Wendy Richards <email@example.com> and Tank Wilson <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: December 2007
Summary: This amazing flying man was someone she knew. Someone she worked with. And she was pretty sure that she knew who he was." But is Lois's guess right? A multiauthored story by Tank Wilson and Wendy Richards.
PART ONE by Wendy
There was a bomb. A ticking bomb. With a counter which was *moving*.
Counting down the seconds, one by one... 122, 121, 120, 119...
A bomb! What did she know about bombs? Was there anyone here who knew anything about bombs?
She whirled around and darted out into the corridor. It was empty. No-one was in sight. There might be someone within earshot, though...
"Help! There's a bomb! Somebody help!"
Nobody came. After what felt like at least a minute, but was only about twenty seconds judging by the counter on the bomb, she returned to the room. She was on her own. The only person she could count on was... herself.
The ticking bomb stared her in the face, as if mocking her for her audacity.
*Yeah, Lois Lane, what made you think that you were special? That you were invincible? You thought that you could go through life taking risks at every turn and always get out alive? Well, not this time! Hahahahahahaha...*
She had to do something. Anything. But what?
She didn't know the first thing about bombs. Guns, now... she could fire a gun, and even shoot straight over long distances. Several years ago, she'd talked her way onto a police marksman's course and learned to shoot -- not because she liked guns or ever wanted to own one of her own, but because she'd figured the skill might come in useful in her job. And it had.
But it had never occurred to her to look for a bomb-disposal course.
Stupid, Lane! What had she been thinking? Of course a bomb-disposal course would have been much more useful than learning to fire a stupid macho boy's toy!
69 seconds left. She had time to run.
But run to where, exactly? She was on the Messenger transport ship and, as far as she knew, the doors had been sealed. She couldn't get off the ship. And anyway, what about all the others on board? Including Mrs Platt and Amy...
If this bomb went off, it could destroy the whole ship, killing everyone on board. And it would destroy the space programme.
How much explosive was attached to that bomb, anyway? She peered closely. Nope, she had no idea. But surely it had to be enough to do serious damage at the very least?
52 seconds. Okay, either she was going to get blown to smithereens or she had to do something about this bomb. How did the experts do it, anyway? They cut wires, didn't they? Not just any wires -- the wires leading to the fuse.
Okay, so which wire led to the fuse?
Where was the fuse, anyway?
She gritted her teeth and hurried forward. There was a small box with the electronic timer. Two curly wires ran from that to... where? She wasn't sure.
She glanced around and saw a small glass-covered box containing tools on the opposite wall. One of them was a wire-cutter. Perfect. A few seconds later, she had it in her hand. Should she cut one of the wires sticking out of the bomb? But which one? And supposing it triggered the bomb?
There had to be an alternative. This room was full of equipment -- it seemed to be some sort of control room. There was a panel -- she wrenched it open. Inside, there were cables. Five of them -- blues, reds, blacks.
She cut one. Immediately, loud sirens sounded.
Good. That should alert somebody. Everybody, in fact. The entire staff of EPRAD had to know that there was a problem.
But nobody came. And the timer continued to tick away the seconds. Only 33 remained now.
God! What was she supposed to do now? She'd tried screaming for help. She'd tried attracting the attention of people in charge -- what were they doing? Was *no-one* watching their screens? Paying attention to the computers? Were they all off on some hugely mis-timed coffee-break?
"Excuse me, ma'am, but do you need some help?"
*At last!* And in the nick of time, too -- the timer showed 29 seconds. Less than half a minute to oblivion.
She whirled around to greet her rescuer, hoping that by some miracle he knew how to defuse a bomb. And... just stared.
A great mass of primary colours greeted her gaze. Shades of red and blue she'd always believed should never be worn together. And... *yellow*. Could *anyone* in this universe wear yellow without looking washed-out or sallow? But this man didn't seem to care.
He was wearing what looked like a diving suit. Or ballet costume. Whatever it was, it was Spandex and skin-tight. And he had a *cape* trailing behind him.
He coughed faintly, and she gulped. Right. The bomb. The newcomer's outfit could wait until later. If there was a later...
"Over there." She pointed. "There's a bomb..."
23 seconds. He strode over. Ripped the front off the bomb as the timer flipped to 22 seconds. And then he just pulled something out of the bomb. She flinched, waiting for the explosion.
He opened his mouth and put the... bit, piece of explosive, whatever it was... *inside* his mouth. And swallowed.
He blushed. "Excuse me."
She just stared at him. Was he some sort of suicide bomber? Was he working for the people behind the sabotage and had he done this to stop her defusing the bomb?
She couldn't help it. Mentally, she counted down the remaining 20 seconds. Nothing happened.
"You... you... you *ate* it!"
He shrugged. "I wasn't sure what else to do. But, hey, it worked!"
If she'd thought that swallowing bombs was amazing, that was nothing compared to what he was doing now. He was...
...actually *lifting* the transport vessel off the ground. Holding it. Supporting its weight. Supporting the weight of an object that *had* to be god knew how many hundreds of times his own body weight.
And then her jaw slackened so far that it could've been resting on her toes for all she knew. He was floating. No, he was *flying*. Pushing the spaceship in front of him, out into space.
This man, this creature, whoever he was, *what*ever he was, could fly.
She stared at the tiny speck up in the sky, mentally composing her story. Her exclusive -- after all, she'd actually spoken to him. Even if the TV cameras had still been running, none of the networks had got even remotely near being up close and personal with Caped Spandex Man.
Description: tall, of course, though not unusually so. Dark hair. Dark eyes, or at least she thought so. That costume had pretty much blinded her to anything else. He was shaped like a man, though no man she'd ever known could do the things this one could. He could carry on a conversation, which she thought ruled out his being a robot -- she didn't think that artificial intelligence experiments had gone so far as to produce a human-like being with the ability to produce intelligent dialogue.
Voice... He had an American accent. So, whoever he was, wherever he was from, he'd learned English in America. Or from Americans, maybe... memories of a movie she'd seen once, in which Jeff Bridges played an alien who learned all he knew of human language from a tape sent into space by the secretary-general of the United Nations. Starman. That was it. She giggled. Maybe this guy was her own personal starman?
Well, why not. She had seen him first, after all.
One thing was for sure, though. He was *her* story.
He was back. Standing right beside her... and she'd never even noticed him coming back down.
He smiled at her, almost boyishly, and something half-clicked inside her brain. Something about him was nagging at her, but she didn't know what...
"Can I give you a ride back to... wherever you need to be?"
Wow. A ride -- that had to mean he was offering to fly her. She felt like swooning. Instead, she smiled. "I'd love that."
And he held out his hand to her.
It was just as well that she wasn't a TV reporter, with cameras live on her right now as she flew with the mysterious incredible flying man. She'd be fired for being completely, utterly incoherent. There just were no words to describe the sensation of being held in the arms of a man who could fly, being carried through the air above the Metropolis skyscrapers, so close she could almost touch them, yet so safely, so securely, she knew she could never fall.
He was strong. Powerful. And yet gentle -- he was holding her tightly, but not hurting at all.
The Planet was right up ahead now -- she could see the giant globe, from an angle she'd never viewed before. He flew on, coming to a halt finally outside the newsroom floor, just at the huge window to the back of the bullpen.
He pushed. And it opened. And he flew inside.
People jumped to their feet. She saw jaws drop, objects fall from hands to crash to the floor. Their shock made her smile.
Then, as her rescuer set her on her feet, Lois stilled, clinging onto his arm briefly for support as her head cleared.
What was wrong with this picture?
He'd flown her to the Daily Planet building -- without ever asking where she worked.
He'd landed *right next to her desk*. How could he possibly know which was hers?
That nagging feeling was back. And now she knew what it was.
This amazing flying man was someone she knew. Someone she worked with. And she was pretty sure that she knew who he was.
Okay. Check newsroom. Who was present and who wasn't?
Perry was sticking his head out of his office -- not that Spandex Guy was Perry, anyway. Ralph was staring goggle-eyed in her direction. Eduardo was leaning against a desk, looking cynical. That new researcher was doing his best to look bored and failing.
And at the front of the crowd, easing his way past the gawping women, was the next name on her mental list. She crossed him off, then gave him an irritated look. She'd thought he was attracted to *her* -- not that she wanted him anyway. But here was Clark Kent staring at Mr Incredible Spandex Guy with a look she could only describe as awe!
Not that Kent mattered right now. One final name to check off. As she'd expected, he wasn't there. And now she knew the truth.
The incredible flying guy in lurid Spandex was Jimmy Olsen.
END OF PART ONE
PART TWO by Tank
It had been two days now since she'd had her incredible encounter with Superman. That was the name Lois had given the hero in her story. Now she sat at her desk, idly playing with her hair, wondering where he was. Except for the brief interview he'd given her later that evening, she hadn't seen him since that unbelievable morning. Of course, she'd seen Jimmy Olsen several times while at work. He'd seemed like his normal goofy self. He had even asked her about her sister. Did he want to date her sister? Some things just weren't adding up and it was making her head hurt.
Jimmy had the same basic coloring as the spandex-clad hero, and was around the same height, but he just didn't have the build that Lois remembered. Jimmy was thinner, much thinner. Was the suit somehow built up? Padded? Like the ones they used in the movies to make the lead look bigger? It had certainly felt real to her, but then she'd been a bit distracted by the view of the city from the air as they'd flown in. Just remembering that she'd flown in his arms was still enough to take her breath away.
Lois glanced around the newsroom. Everything appeared normal, even Jimmy stumbling between the desks with an armload of files. Was his bumbling geekiness just an act? Her eyes landed on Clark, who was working at his desk just a few feet away. Actually, if anyone fit the physical profile for the superhero it would've been Clark. But she'd seen him in the newsroom when the two of them had originally entered. So he was crossed off the list. Only Jimmy hadn't been there. That meant that Jimmy had to be Superman... didn't it?
She was convinced that Superman had to be someone she worked with, which meant that he had some sort of secret identity. The hero had asked her if she wanted to be dropped off somewhere, and she'd said yes, but then hadn't told him where. Still, he'd taken her right to the Daily Planet. She supposed that he could've been someone who'd recognized her. Lois Lane wasn't exactly an unknown in her field. But he'd taken her right to her desk. Only someone who worked here would know which desk was hers. It couldn't have been a coincidence... could it?
It was time to form a plan. What was she going to do? Was she just going to let things happen, and maybe, someday, Jimmy would give himself away? Or she could do what she did best: investigate. If Jimmy Olsen was indeed Superman, as she suspected, then she was going to find out. It would be her Pulitzer for sure.
Unfortunately, that kind of investigation was going to require a lot of surveillance. Maybe, even, around the clock. She had to be ready to act when a critical moment presented itself. She couldn't do it alone. She was going to need help.
She rose from her seat and moved the few feet over to where her new, if somewhat reluctantly acquired, partner sat. "Clark, I need your help. Could we talk?"
Clark followed Lois into the conference room. He'd been startled by her approach. His mind had been elsewhere, which was unusual. He generally spent his musings thinking about Lois Lane. But today was different, as had been the day before. His speculative thoughts had turned to new problem.
He was proud of his first public 'save' at the Prometheus launch site. He knew that he had caused quite a stir, but it had shown the world that his intentions were honorable. He'd been unsure as to whether he'd be able to lift the space craft into space as he'd never lifted anything that heavy before. But he'd been able to get it off the ground, and once he was airborne, it seemed to get lighter.
Things had gone quite well. Up until he'd returned from orbit. He'd come back to the EPRAD launch center looking for Lois, but she'd already gone. Getting back to the Planet in a flash, he'd made it just a few minutes before Lois and the new hero came floating through the large windows in the Planet's bullpen. Lois had been star-struck, but had written the article, and Superman's career had been born. The only problem was that the brightly suited flyboy who'd brought Lois back to the Planet hadn't been him. He had no idea who it had been.
He later went over to Lois' apartment to give her a short interview, wanting to reinforce his good intentions. Clark had hoped that he might get a clue from talking with Lois as to who it was that brought her back. There had been no help forthcoming from that quarter. As far as Lois was concerned, the man who ate the bomb, pushed the Prometheus transport into space, and flew her back to her desk, were one and the same.
Clark sat in one of the chairs as Lois shut the door behind them, and pulled down the shades. She turned to face him. She was flushed. "Clark, I know who Superman is."
A cold shock quickly passed through him. "You do?"
Lois frowned. "Well, I think I do. I just have to prove it. That's where you come in. I need your help to investigate Jimmy."
"You need my help to investigate... did you say Jimmy?"
A look that could only be described as defensive came over her face. "Yeah."
"You think that Jimmy is Superman?"
"I know what you're thinking, but hear me out." Lois launched into her rant about how she came to the conclusion that Jimmy Olsen had to be Superman. It came out in practically one breath. When she'd finally run down she stood in front of Clark, panting.
"Seems a little thin, Lois." Clark shook his head. "Very circumstantial and easily explained by coincidence, or chance."
Lois began to pace. "I don't believe in coincidence. I know that Jimmy doesn't look like Superman, but what do we know about this new hero? For all we know, he could be from another planet. Maybe he has some sort of chameleon-like powers."
She peered out the window, her fingers prying up one of the blinds. "He's leaving. Let's go." She reached for the door.
Clark jumped up and began to follow Lois out. "Lois, what are you doing?"
She stopped just long enough to give him a dirty look. "We're going to follow him, of course." She shook her head in disgust. "Where did you ever learn your investigative techniques?"
Clark just rolled his eyes and followed after Lois. Now he was beginning to see exactly why they called her 'Mad Dog'.
Clark studied his 'partner' as they sat in the far corner of the hotel restaurant. Jimmy was seated in a booth in the opposite corner. He had met an attractive young lady there. Lois was fidgeting as she kept surreptitiously looking over her toward him.
Clark sighed. "Lois, why are we here watching Jimmy on a date?"
Lois took another glance in the direction of the junior staff member of the Planet. "A date? Hah! I've known Jimmy for years. He'd never be able to get a woman like that to go out with him."
"Exactly!" Clark grabbed Lois' hand to pull her attention back toward him. "You've known Jimmy for years, yet you suddenly think that he has these special powers?"
Lois stared hard into Clark's face. "I don't know it for sure. But I have to find out."
Clark would swear that Lois was confused by his question. "Earth to Kent! We're reporters and this could be the story of the decade, maybe even the century. I... we'd be shoo-ins for a Pulitzer."
Clark sighed again. This was exactly what he'd been afraid of when he'd decided to go public in the first place. "Even supposing you're right, doesn't Jimmy have the right to his privacy?"
"What are you talking about, Kent? Sure, he has the right to personal privacy. I don't care who shares his bed at night. That's just gossip. But if he's Superman, that's news! How did he get those wondrous powers? Where is he from? What are his plans? Is he even human? He's not like the rest of us, so who is he really?"
Clark shook his head. "Lois, you said yourself that you've known Jimmy for years. If anyone should know who he is, you do. Is he someone that the public should be afraid of?"
"Of course not. At least, the Jimmy that I've known would never harm a fly. But then the Jimmy I've known couldn't lift a launch craft into space, or swallow bombs. The Jimmy I've known can't fly." She glared at him. "And don't give me that 'well, then maybe he isn't Superman look'. If he isn't, fine. But if he is, then I'm going to find out for sure."
"What about him, Lois? What about what might happen if you do expose him as this Superman? What will that do to his life? Don't you care about that?"
"That's not my problem. I just find the truth and print it. It's what I do. It's what we do."
"But it's not black and white, Lois. There are moral obligations that go along with our job. We don't have the right to ruin someone's life just to get a story."
Lois looked down at the table, then looked back up at Clark. "You don't get it." She shook her head back and forth. "Clark, this is the biggest story that this city has ever seen. Everyone is going to be going after it. I think I have an inside track on this and I'm not going to let anyone beat me to this story. I've worked too long, and too hard to get where I am. If you think that your farmboy naivety is going to dissuade me from getting my story, then you're deluding yourself." Lois glanced back at Jimmy. "I wish I could hear what they're saying. I've got to find a way to get closer."
Clark snorted. "I don't think that's going to happen. If he gets a look at either one of us, he's going to recognize us. I don't see how you or I can get close enough to overhear anything he's saying."
Of course, Clark could easily hear what Jimmy and his guest were saying if he wanted to, but he didn't have to. He knew Jimmy wasn't Superman, and the lad deserved his privacy, even if Lois didn't think so. He just wondered how far Lois was willing to go with this. How far would she go just to get a story?
"I need to get home. Get my disguise kit and get back here. I can make it so Jimmy wouldn't be able to recognize me if I sat down next to him at his own table." Lois looked over at Jimmy again.
An idea began to form in Clark's mind. Maybe he could do some pushing. See to what lengths Lois would actually go in pursuit of *her* story. "You don't have time to get to your apartment and back. Jimmy would most likely be gone by then, and you'd never know who the mystery woman was."
Lois frowned. "You're probably right. So what can I do? He'd recognize you just as easily."
Clark nodded toward Lois' purse. "You must have something in there you could use to affect a disguise. The Lois Lane I know is always ready for anything."
"Don't get cute with me, Kent." She pulled her bag up to the table and dumped out most of the contents.
Clark watched in amazement at the amount of stuff that came out of the bag. How could such a small bag hold so much? Aside from the normal stuff, like her wallet, a comb, a handkerchief, and various make-up articles, there were things he couldn't easily identify. He pointed to a slim black case. It almost looked like a glasses case, but was too short.
"What's that?" He asked.
A sly smile pricked Lois' lips. "It's my lock pick set." She flipped it open so he could see the slender metal picks. Clark could only shake his head.
He pointed to a dark plastic box. "And that?"
She flipped it open. "It's an emergency sewing kit."
He could obviously see it was the case. It contained two small spools of thread, one black, one white. There were three different sized needles, and a small but substantial-looking pair of scissors.
He had to hide his smile. It time to see just how far Lois Lane would go for 'her story'. "Well, for someone who doesn't wear much make-up, which you don't need, you seem to carry quite a bit of it with you."
"Thanks." Always suspicious of any compliment, she eyed him, as if trying to figure out what his angle was. "I've found that sometimes I've had to trash up my image to fit in certain places."
Clark nodded. "Makes sense. I suppose you could do something like that here, but I doubt it would be enough."
"No, Jimmy would still easily recognize me," she said, agreeing with him. "He's seen me in a lot of my basic guises. It would take more than bright red lipstick and extra blush to fool him."
It was time to push. "Yeah, I guess you're right. Too bad you don't keep a wig in there. I don't think just pulling your hair back, or piling it up, will make enough of a difference."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Of course I don't keep a wig in my bag. Do you know how dishevelled it would be if I could even get one in there? That's why I wanted to go home."
Clark shook his head, as if commiserating with her. "Well, there's nothing to be done then, I guess you'll have to abandon your plan to get close enough to eavesdrop on Jimmy."
Lois shook her head angrily. "No, there must be a way. I can't lose this chance." She glanced up at Jimmy and his companion again. "I've never seen that woman before. I know if I get close enough I'll hear something juicy." She turned back to him. "Help me out here, Kent."
"Well... no, forget it. It's a stupid idea."
"What? What? Tell me."
Clark cocked his head and stared down at the mess scattered on the top of the table. She followed his eye. At first she seemed bewildered. Then, as he continued to stare, he could see the realization coming to her.
She shook her head in vehement denial. "Oh no, no way. I suppose you think you're being funny." She picked up the scissors. "What? Do you think I should go into the ladies' room and chop off my hair so that Jimmy won't recognize me?"
Clark shrugged. "No, I don't. But then, I'm not the one who thinks we need to listen in on a private conversation that a friend of ours is having. I don't think he's Superman, but you asked. I can't think of anything else."
"Well, thanks for nothing." Lois swept the scatter on the table back into her bag. "I'm going to the ladies' room and I *will* think of something without your help. Do you think you could stay here and keep an eye on Jimmy while I'm gone?"
"Sure." He had to grin at the glare she gave him.
He watched as she stomped off to the ladies' room. Sitting back in his seat, he glanced at his watch. He wondered how long it would take Lois to admit defeat and come back to the table. Perhaps, once some of the air had been let out of her balloon, they'd be able sit and talk through her wild accusations in a rational manner. He hoped they'd be able to put this ridiculous 'Jimmy is Superman' stuff behind them so he could get to the really important issue at hand. Just who was it who had brought Lois back to the Planet, and how did they get his powers?
Lois stood in front of the mirror in the ladies' room. She frowned. She had done what she could with the make-up kit in her bag. It had helped somewhat. She rarely used much make-up in her everyday life, so by overdoing it she had 'changed' her look a bit. Too much rouge, and bright lipstick were definitely not 'Lois Lane,' but it wasn't enough. She just looked like a cheap version of herself.
She stared at her reflection for several moments, then pulled the scissors out of her sewing kit. Maybe, if she had bangs, it would be an effective disguise. Jimmy had never seen her with bangs before. Actually she hadn't worn bangs since she was twelve. It wasn't like she was really cutting her hair short or anything. It would just be bangs.
Reaching into her bag one more time, she pulled out a small plastic comb, then combed her hair straight down in front of her face. With a sigh, she placed the small shears into her silky hair just above her eyes and began cutting. She gasped as the curtain that obscured her vision fell into the sink in front of her. She didn't realize how much hair she had to cut off until she saw it piled at the bottom of the sink.
She allowed herself to focus on the mirror and examined the person captured in the glass. Her frown came back. She tucked her hair behind her ears, then pulled it back to the front. She tried piling it on the top of her head, but that didn't work either. No matter what she did, she still looked like herself, only a little different. But not different enough to fool anyone who knew her.
She let her gaze fall back to the small, silver scissors lying on the counter. "Damn you, Kent." She reached for them.
Clark was beginning to worry about Lois. She'd been gone for quite a while. He wondered if he should just find her and they could leave. Obviously there wasn't a story here, even if Lois didn't want to admit it.
"Psst! Clark, over here." The fierce whisper grabbed his attention. He turned just in time to see Lois wave at him from around the corner, then disappear from view.
He glanced over at where Jimmy was sitting, then rose and moved toward his new partner. "Lois?" He stared at the woman who was trying to peek around him, trying to make sure no one saw him get up. She had taken off her suit jacket and had tied the ends of her blouse up to reveal her stomach. She'd also unbuttoned the first two buttons. She glared at him when she noted his arched brow and saw where he gaze was directed. He could see that she'd been redoing her make-up also. Lois was fidgeting with a dark beret, trying to get it to sit securely on her head. Her bangs were all that stuck out from under the hat. Bangs?
"Lois? Did you cut your hair?"
"You'd like that, wouldn't you? You'd like to be able to say, 'I told you so'. Well, news flash, Kent, I didn't cut my hair. I saw this beret in the hotel's gift shop, so I bought it to hide my hair. This way my hair won't give me away."
"But... you didn't have bangs a few minutes ago."
She sighed in exasperation. "No, I didn't. I did cut some bangs into my hair... for effect... but I have been thinking about wearing bangs for some time now, so it's not like I did it just for the disguise. I just took advantage of the situation to do something I was planning to anyway."
Clark tried unsuccessfully to hide his smile. "Of course."
With one last tweak of the dark beret she began to move toward the dining area. Clark reached out and grabbed her arm. "Lois, there's really no need to..."
"Shh," she admonished him. "He'll hear us. Just wait here for me." She turned to go then stopped. "Give me those." She grabbed his glasses from his face and settled them onto her own face. "Not much of a prescription," he heard her mumble to herself. Clark sighed and leaned against the wall. This should only take a little while, he thought.
True to his prediction Lois was back within a few minutes. Her face was a mask of frustration and anger. "Something wrong, Lois?" he asked as he accepted his glasses back.
Her eyes blazed at him. "Do you know who that is with Jimmy? It's his cousin, Mindy."
"Yeah, Mary... how did you know?"
"While you were working on your disguise, Jimmy came over and introduced her to me."
Lois punched Clark in the chest. "Why didn't you tell me?"
Clark shrugged. "I tried." Her look told him that she wasn't sure she believed him. "But does this mean that you don't think that Jimmy is Superman anymore?"
Lois folded her arms under her chest. "It wasn't the cousin thing. While I was listening to them, Jimmy got a splinter in his thumb. The way he carried on, you'd think he'd cut his thumb completely off." She pulled off the beret and shook out her hair. "Jimmy Olsen is definitely not Superman. A secret identity, what was I thinking? I must be losing my mind. I almost cut my hair off over this."
Clark put his arm around Lois' shoulder as the two of them moved to leave the hotel restaurant. "Even if you had, Lois, it wouldn't have been such a big deal." She cocked a brow at him. "I mean, you're an attractive woman, and you'd probably look great with short hair."
Lois snorted. "Oh, there's no probably about it, Kent. I'd be adorable in short hair, but now is not the time. Maybe someday you'll get a chance to drool over me with a new short do." She patted him on the chest. "But you'll have to wait a while for it." She turned and headed purposely toward the exit. "Let's get back to the Planet before Perry wonders what happened to us."
Clark grinned and followed dutifully after her. He was relieved that he wouldn't have Lois trying to find out if Superman was really someone else, at least for a time. What still worried him was the fact that someone had impersonated him. Someone who could, at least, fly. How could they have done that? It had been his first appearance. No one had seen him in costume before that. Yet whoever it was who had carried Lois back to the Planet had copied his suit to perfection.
The impostor hadn't shown himself again since that first day, but Clark would be sure to keep an extra careful watch out for any repeat appearances.
The handsome young man stared at himself in the full length mirror. The bright spandex suit clung to his form like a second skin. He had a satisfied grin on his face. Suddenly, the door to the room opened and a pretty young girl entered.
"You didn't, did you?" He nodded at his younger sister. "Cal, are you crazy? Do you know how much trouble you're going to get into if anyone finds out?"
"No one is going to find out. I was careful." She snorted in contemptuous disbelief. "No, really. I only pretended to be him for less than half an hour. No one will ever know it wasn't Superman who brought Lois Lane back to the Daily Planet that day."
"Don't you think that they will know?"
Cal shrugged. "Oh, they might compare notes someday and come to the realization that it wasn't the real Superman who brought Lois back from the Prometheus launching, but they'll just chalk it up to another one of those mysteries that they've encountered so often over the years." He favored his sister with a smug smile. "Remember, they'll meet clones and other dimensional versions of themselves in the years to come, so what's one more unexplained version of Superman to those two?"
The young girl frowned. "Yeah, maybe, but why take the chance? You could really have screwed things up if anything had gone wrong."
"You don't understand. I had to meet her." He glanced at the pictures and holos of Lois Lane that adorned the walls of his room. "She's even more amazing in person than on any of the historical holo-vids."
The girl shook her head as she turned to leave. She loved her brother dearly, but she just didn't understand his obsession with Lois Lane. She, like most everyone else, admired the celebrated reporter from the days of the first Superman, and her part in the founding of Utopia. But Cal's devotion bordered on being creepy. After all, Lois Lane was his great great grandmother.
First thoughts, by Tank
Well, my initial reaction while reading this was 'where was the conflict or the problem that needed resolving'? It seemed like a straight retelling of the end of the pilot. Of course, I knew Wendy had to have something up her sleeve.
So when we finally get to it? Big Surprise, she has to bring a loser like Jimmy Olsen into it. I guess the hardest part is going to be how to explain how anyone could mistake Superman for Jimmy Olsen. It was the one thing that always bothered me about the series episode. Jimmy and Clark never shared enough physical similarities to even come close to making a mistaken identity possibility. Especially the Justin Whalin Jimmy. Being this is from the pilot and we have the Michael Landis Jimmy it's a bit closer, but still not enough to be rational. That is going to be the hardest challenge. How to dumb down Lois enough to have her made such a mistake. And, of course, how to get a haircut in there. ;)
And final thoughts by Wendy...
Well, what an ingenious solution! But before we get to that, I was fascinated to see Tank's interpretation of the story: that Clark really was Superman, but somehow he wasn't the Superman who flew Lois back to the Planet. That totally intrigued me and I had to read on to see how he planned to explain that.
What made me laugh out loud was the scene in the restaurant. I have to confess that I didn't see that coming *at all*. And yet I should have: has Tank written a single Lois and Clark fic in which Lois doesn't cut her hair? <g> Very clever. And just the perfect twist for the gesture to be in vain!
The solution was truly inspired. I would never have thought of that in a million years, and yet it's so perfect. Given all the nextgen and time-travel fics there've been, I should have been aware of the possibility that the other Superman could have been a future descendant. Very nicely done indeed. But then, am I in the least bit surprised. Nope. I long ago gave up trying to stump Tank on these challenges -- it just can't be done!
As Tank commented on our other story, one of the crucial rules for these challenges is that the challenge-setter must have a solution in mind. Here, I intended Jimmy to be Superman all along. Of course, it could simply be that the baby in the spaceship grew up to be Jimmy, but I actually think that what happened was that Clark and Jimmy were caught in a thunderstorm. Clark's powers got transferred to Jimmy, and so Jimmy, realising that he had all these new abilities and being an avid fan of superhero comics such as The Flash, Spiderman and Green Lantern, decided to become a superhero himself. He kind of liked Spiderman's outfit so made something like it for himself, but on the day of the bomb on board the Prometheus's transport vessel he left in such a hurry that he forgot to pull on his ski-mask.
So, in terms of a solution, Clark would've had to find a way to get his powers transferred back to himself -- not an easy task, since he had no idea how he lost them in the first place -- and then work out how not to let Jimmy realise who the real Superman was ;)
As ever, though, Tank has come up with a much more entertaining result! We both hope you enjoyed this little challenge and that you might even tell us which ending you prefer. :)
Wendy & Tank 2005