“So did you and Superman join the zero gravity club?” Cat teased Lorry at the earliest opportunity.
“Superheroes are always straight.”
“There’s that guy from The Flash,” Jimmy suggested. “And that other superhero guy from some alternative universe. And Deadpool is supposed to be pan-sexual or whatever. But yeah, heterosexual is definitely the norm.”
“Makes sense,” Lorry said, who preferred his fiction not to be filled with designated tokens.
Life is what it is. Accept it. There’s a flying space alien in town, and you and every other reporter on the planet wants an interview.
Yeah, but Superman flew me back to Earth.
Okay, yes, maybe the latter was because otherwise, Lorry and The Planet might have been fined several thousand dollars for Lorry being an uninvited passenger on the shuttle to begin with (hadn’t these people ever heard of Julius Chambers who committed himself to a mental institution for a story? now there was dedication). At least Superman indicated he had sympathy for Lorry’s job.
If only Lorry had actually thought to ask questions on the (far too fast) trip home rather than staring around him and pondering how it was he could breath and didn’t burn up on re-entry. Superman’s cloak? His body heat?
I need an interview.
Clark was irritated.
First of all, he had to find an apartment, which meant rushing off to meet with potential landlords at a moment’s notice.
“Girlfriend?” the tenth maybe landlord asked. “Boyfriend?”
Clark shrugged. “I’m single,” he said vaguely.
The apartment was a mess, but he could fix it up. He didn’t mind the extra work although he’d probably need to get someone to help with the plumbing. A guy with superpowers who could heave old refrigerators into the sun wasn’t so good at fiddling around for hours with gaskets, lock-nuts, and washers.
|The episode includes the marvelous Bruce Kirby.|
He was still irritated. Someone was testing Superman. Two jumpers on the same day in the same city both from the tops of buildings in line-of-sight of each other? Sure, Clark saved them both. It was still irritating, especially since it distracted him from people in real need.
Then, Lorry stole his story about the jumpers.
When Clark confronted his erstwhile, occasional, maybe reporting partner, Lorry got snarkily defensive. He spouted off about Clark needing to be a tougher reporter, not let go of a lead, etc. etc. etc.
“Sorry, man,” said Bob from Sports who overheard Lorry’s rant. “It’s not like Lane though. The guy’s relentless, but this is the first I’ve heard of him playing dirty.”
Clark sighed. The problem wasn’t Lorry. The problem was Superman. The costume, the “disguise,” was supposed to help Clark help people. Instead, it was turning him into this vaunted hero-type figure—who was loved and despised (the news networks were already trying to determine whether he was a liberal or conservative threat). And tested.
When a call came in about a bomb at a bank, off Clark flew—as Superman—prepared to rescue civilians and stop mayhem, only to discover that the bomb was programmed to go off only when he, Superman, arrived.
I don’t understand people.
He stomped outside, covered in dust, trying to look non-irritated and non-upset. Anybody at any moment might snap a picture. Superman’s constant subtle movement—even when standing still—meant that no photo could completely capture his face. Still, he had a duty to be calm and collected and not miffed as hell. No throwing chairs and shouting the “F” word like a deranged Hollywood celebrity.
So Clark, as Superman, was all stoic and judicious and “no comment” guy right up until he saw Lorry interviewing a bomb expert on the edge of the scene. Lorry was bleeding from a cut on his forehead.
Superman changed back to Clark so rapidly, he left off his socks.
“There were extra cameras in the bank?” Lorry was asking as Clark approached. Arms folded, he studied the bank blueprint held by the bomb expert. He glanced briefly at Clark, who flinched. The cut looked worse close up.
“How did that happen?”
“I got here right before the bomb blew.”
“Did you get it looked at?” Clark said, his fingers brushing Lorry’s forehead.
Lorry scowled, then shrugged, quick-silver smile manifesting briefly.
“I’ve been in worse situations,” he said. “Listen to this—there was no theft or terrorist threat. Yet there were extra cameras in the bank, and the bomb didn’t go off until Superman arrived and was inside. I think someone is testing him.”
“Yeah,” Clark said.
Yeah. What was that movie with Bruce Willis? The one where a villain needed a hero? Once a hero arose, a villain had to arise in response? Or vice versa?
Was Clark Bruce Willis? Only slightly less taciturn? With a mom who liked to sew? Was the bomb the product of his designated supervillain, responding to his or, rather, Superman's appearance? Did there have to be a supervillain? Some kind of balance-to-the-universe thing?
If so, wasn’t it better to have no superheroes and no supervillains and just let people get on with life the best they could?
|Superman Dilemma #1|
He was helping Lorry with the bank story—he’d even flown off to get authentic Chinese food (“Great local place,” he told Lorry, not adding that the great local place was local to Shanghai)—and they were kicking back late at night at The Daily Planet.
Lorry glared at him, and Clark sighed. Even glaring, Lorry had gorgeous green eyes. Unfortunately, those green eyes drew Clark’s eyes to the bandage on Lorry’s forehead. My fault.
He added, “Things are going to get crazy—already have. Superman is a catalyst or whatever. Something new enters the system, and it goes out of whack.”
“He can handle it.”
“Not everything. I mean, sure, a lot. But he can’t be everywhere at once, no matter how fast.”
Not to mention that Superman had a job and parents, a life, and couldn’t spend every waking second lurking around Metropolis waiting for disaster. Because there was a horrible way to live.
Not that Clark hadn’t contemplated the lurking lifestyle when he was flying Lorry back to Earth, but it seemed to his Sunday-School-trained brain that living as his true self—as Clark—would better enable him to help his fellow citizen than would living outside of society. Didn’t superheroes who followed the latter script eventually go nuts and try to boss everybody around?
Shrugging, Lorry said, “Whatever Superman can do, that’s enough.”
“And if people get hurt?”
“The greatest happiness for the greatest number.”
“What about the minority?” Clark said. “The outliers?” Collateral damage, he was thinking.
“Civil defense is all about the majority,” Lorry said. “It has to be. In the long run, the outliers will suffer if the majority isn’t secure. Anarchy sucks for everyone.” He leaned back, popped a dumpling in his mouth and grinned at Clark.
“Superman shouldn’t leave,” he declared as if the matter was settled.
And it was, Clark found to his astonishment. He—Superman—was going to stay. Lorry’s non-B.S. version of the world was, ah, insightful. (Not perfect, not comforting, not something I've been looking for all my life—because Clark was trying very hard not to be the big puddle of mush he knew he could be.)
I am not going to fall for him.
Of course, the possibility that Lorry would fall for Clark was slim to none—especially since Clark wasn’t “out.” Not to mention, Lorry had apparently decided that he and Clark were in direct competition for the “Best Reporter in Metropolis” title.
“You are never going to get a better byline than me,” he informed Clark.
Clark shrugged. “We’ll see.”
“A very long time,” Clark muttered. It was probably best not to mention that he once swam half-way across the Mediterranean before he popped up for air. A very long time would do.
[My fan fiction contains some changes to the episode's original order of events. Also, Lois & Clark fans may note that I hold off on Clark figuring out that the tester is, in fact, his arch-nemesis, Lex Luthor. While I dislike shows that keep people circling round and round and round an obvious truth--see Merlin--I would have favored Superman/Clark not figuring out "the man behind the curtain" immediately.]