Biology Lesson

By Ruth Ellison ( )

Summary: The Nigerian princess from Clark's past comes to Metropolis with a most unexpected companion in tow.

Just a throwaway inspired by a recent thread on the Loiscla mailing list, but it does answer a couple of very important questions…


She was conscious of the intrigued, admiring eyes on her as she strode towards the elevator. Metropolis was a cosmopolitan city, but in her brightly coloured robes and jewelry she was an exotic even here. This reception did not surprise or faze her, however. In the home of a great newspaper, professional inquisitiveness was to be expected.

She didn't care. Let them stare, let them try to guess who she was and why she was there. After all, she had deliberately chosen to appear in full regalia because of its power to impress. And she was a very impressive woman — breeding and education had combined to make her so. She believed in her own right to rule, and this was apparent from her high-backed carriage and lofty demeanour even in democratic America. Very few people had ever succeeded in breaking through her aura of aloof majesty. Very few indeed.

She hurried her companion into the elevator. Some of the attention, she knew, was directed at him rather than her. He lacked her regal dignity, being altogether too cheerful and lively to command the same degree of respect. But she knew in her heart that he had one thing she would never have — he already knew how to gain people's love. It was the irrepressible smile and wide-eyed engagement with life that stopped people in the street and caused grown men to smile affectionately in return. One day he would be expected to fulfill some government or diplomatic role for his country. She knew, even now, that he would meet with dazzling success.

She looked around with heavy-lidded curiosity of her own as the elevator doors opened onto the newsroom. She knew a few things about the 'Daily Planet' — it was read in the corridors of power around the world, its editorials could sway wars and bring down dictators, and it only employed the best and brightest journalistic talent. Yes, this was a proper place to find what she was looking for.

She swept dramatically down the steps into the belly of the newsroom, pausing only to clap her hands imperiously and call back her companion from his fascination with the vending machines. He scampered after her, grinning happily and not at all dismayed by the look of displeasure on her face. Somehow, he had never learnt to stand in awe of her as others did. Perhaps she was too soft on him, lavishing attention on him because of the happy memories he stirred in her. Though she tried to be strict with him, as befitted his upbringing, there was something in him that resisted convention and insisted on carving its own merry path through life. She had a very good idea where to lay the responsibility for that.

She paused to request directions from some rushing underling, and was pointed to a desk at the far side of the room. At the moment it was unoccupied. She made her way over there with unhurried poise, noticing how the newsroom fell quiet at her passage. Or was it her companion, clutching shyly now at her hand and burying his face in her robes? Perhaps these people had seen his smile and recognised it. She reached the desk, silently measuring the degree of success implied by the brass nameplate and the solid crystal trophy. He had always seemed destined to achieve. Absently, she traced his name with her finger and lost herself in thoughts of dancing lessons and hot, tropical evenings. One-two-three, one-two-three, one-two-three… He always had a wonderful sense of rhythm…

She snapped suddenly back into the present as a nearby door opened. There he was, not greatly changed after seven years although the cut of his suit and tie was altogether superior. So he was indeed doing well for himself, no longer an impoverished wanderer but a respected journalist. He didn't notice her at first, being more intent on the businesslike brunette around whose shoulder his arm was familiarly flung. His smile was as bright and heart-melting as ever. But it wasn't her he was smiling at.

She called out his name, giving her voice that imperious tone that once again cut through the newsroom buzz and made them the centre of attention. His head swung round, and the smile was instantly displaced by an utterly disbelieving look, gradually followed by polite uncertainty. The brunette, she noticed with gratified malice, had surveyed her rapidly and correctly chosen to be jealous. Clark shifted his gaze to her juvenile companion, staring at him thoughtfully before his eyes returned to hers with a look of absolute horror in them. Seizing the moment, she swung the boy up into her arms and said, "Jabril, meet your daddy."