By Pam Jernigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: February 2005
Summary: "I've found a way to talk to Superman. I want the interview, but what I really need to know is just why he's so fixated on finding Lois Lane…" Read this first installment of the author's series to find out how this mysterious reporter gets her story.
Author's note: Thanks to the gang on IRC who encouraged me to post this, and to Erin for GE'ing this (and the sequel) on short notice during Kerth time!
My Interview with Superman
by Lyn Drozny
It's not easy to get a private interview with Clark Kent. After all, it's hard to pin down a guy who can fly. He's got an office at the Daily Planet, but the building is pretty well guarded. Luckily for me, I know how to sneak inside.
I stand at the edge of the newsroom, pretending to study the incoming faxes, scoping out the room. It's pretty standard for a newspaper, and buzzes with activity. No one seems to notice me; I'm not very noticeable. I push my bangs out of my eyes and re- adjust my glasses; a nervous habit.
My stomach is in knots about this. For a moment, coming up the stairs, I felt light-headed. It's not just that he's famous; I've interviewed famous people before. It's just that this is possibly the most important interview of my life, and that I, along with half the women on the planet, have a huge crush on him.
His office is just down the hall from me. The door is closed, which I take as a good sign; I've heard that when he's not there, he'll leave it open. Unless of course he goes out the window. But I'm here, so here goes nothing.
I take a deep, fortifying breath, move smoothly along the edge of the room, and push the door open. He's there, sitting at the desk, looking up in irritated surprise.
I know I have to talk fast. "Superman, I'm Lyn Drozny. I'm from the European press and I can help you clear your reputation." I try hard to sound sympathetic, in the few seconds before he can throw me out.
He pauses, halfway out of his chair, then settles back, looking wary. "How do you mean?"
I take that as an invitation and come all the way into his office, closing the door behind me. I sit in one of his visitor chairs before my legs give way. "I know you can't be happy about all the tabloid stories. People are starting to worry about you. I want to help you clear up all this nonsense about your obsession with Lois Lane."
The frown fades slightly, but he's still looking wary. I can't blame him, really. "I know the press has been vicious lately. And I think," I add cautiously, "that with you it's the reverse of the old saying — maybe sticks and stones can't break your bones, but I suspect words really can hurt you."
He sort of shrugs, not really denying it. "There's not much I can do about it."
"See, that's where you're wrong." I lean forward, my nerves diminishing as I get into full swing. "You're being attacked by the press; you have to defend yourself in the press."
He shakes his head. "I hate TV interviews, and the Planet is already defending me — no one pays any attention."
"No, because they're associated with you. But that's where I come in. I'm an outsider — I'm with a paper in Bulgaria right now, but I've freelanced all over Europe. I'm impartial, and I can sell this story to Reuters and AP, and get it out all around the world."
He looks faintly interested now. "What do you propose to write?"
"Your side of the story. Everyone knows you're searching for Lois Lane; what no one knows is why. So the tabloids make stuff up, the more lurid the better. You can't just deny their stories all the time; you need to tell a story of your own, the true story. People want to believe the best about you, but you're not giving them much to work with. Let me interview you," I conclude, "and write it up. I won't sell it anywhere without your approval, I promise."
He just studies me for a long moment, and I try not to squirm. I'm not lying, even if I do have an ulterior motive, too. "What do you have to lose? I doubt I could write anything worse than what's already out there. Okay, it won't convince the people who think you're only pretending to search for her in order to conceal the fact that you've already got her captive somewhere as a sex slave. But it will convince most people."
He sort of snorts at that, then looks down. "I suppose. One thing, though." He looks up again, and I'm transfixed by those beautiful brown eyes of his. "Why are you doing this?"
I swallow. "Because I admire you — what you do and what you sacrifice in order to do it. Because I'm a real journalist and hate the tabloids. And," I admit, letting a smile peep out, "because if you agree, I get a huge story."
That gets a real smile out of him. He's got a really nice smile. "How can I refuse such a selfless offer?"
"You can't. So, Mr. Kent, let's jump right in…" I stop, distracted by the really strange look on his face. "Mr. Kent? What is it?"
"Oh, it's nothing." I swear he looks embarrassed. "I just don't hear that name much anymore."
"Oh." I hadn't thought about that, but I could see his point. "Well, that's too bad. It's a nice name."
He gives me a ghost of a grin. "I've always liked it. Listen, if we're going to do this, just call me Clark."
"Okay, Clark." It's amazing, how intimate it feels to call him that. Combine that with the grin, and my heart is pounding. I just know he can hear it, but if I ignore it maybe he will too. "And I'm Lyn," I add, in case he missed it earlier.
"Nice to meet you, Lyn."
I smile, my heart rate slowing a bit. I've made it this far, and I'm starting to really like the guy. "Same here. So, Clark, tell me about Lois Lane."
He takes a deep breath. "She's a journalist who used to work here at the Planet. She went missing in Africa four years ago, and I'm trying to find her."
"Everybody knows that much, Clark. There's got to be more to it than that. You met her, a year or so ago. So why are you still looking in Africa?"
"That's not the only place I'm looking… it's complicated." He picks up a pen and starts doodling on his notepad.
"You have to give people some explanation," I remind him.
"Right." He sighs. "Okay, here's the deal. The Lois who showed up a year ago was an imposter."
Now we're getting somewhere. I begin scribbling notes.
"She was from… someplace else. She had a life there, and she went back to it." For a moment, he looks desperately sad.
My heart goes out to him, but I still need more facts. "So with the imposter gone, you set out looking for the original? To replace her, maybe?"
"No, not a replacement," he says, but I'm not entirely sure I believe him. "It's just… I really liked the woman I met, and I thought I'd like my Lois even more."
My heart skips a beat. "Your Lois? Do you feel she belongs to you, then?"
"No, no, no," he says, looking me dead in the eye for emphasis. "People aren't possessions. I didn't mean to say that. She belongs to herself. I'd just like to help her get her life back, and then maybe, someday…"
That wistful tone at the end really gets to me. To cover it up, I grin and say, "Well, I guess that lets out the love slave theory, then."
After a startled second, Clark laughs at that with me. "Yes, if we can kill that theory *please* do. It's a horrible notion."
"Nobody in their right mind believes that anyway," I console him. "It would go against everything you do and stand for."
"That still leaves plenty of crazy people," he mutters.
"Well, let's give them something else to think about. What *would* you do if you found her?" I have to work at not holding my breath as I wait for a reply.
He ponders that. "It depends on the circumstances. If she needed help, I'd help her."
"What if she didn't want your help?"
He sighs. "I'd try to respect her wishes — but I couldn't just stand by and let her be killed or anything."
"What if she was afraid of you, or just wanted you to leave her alone?"
"It'd just about kill me, but if that's what she wanted…"
He really looks miserable at the thought of Lois rejecting him. Interesting, but this line of questioning isn't getting me where I want to go.
"Let's attack this from the other end. Say you find her, and she comes back to Metropolis. What do you *hope* would happen? What's your best case scenario?"
He smiles at me, and my heart turns over. That is one beautiful smile.
"In my wildest dreams? She'd be even more wonderful than the imposter, and she'd like me enough to go out with me… and see where that goes. Eventually."
I put down my notepad, fascinated. "Are you saying you're in love with her? You haven't even met her."
"I know." He laughs a little, doodling some more. "That was my best case scenario. Maybe I wouldn't like her, I don't know. I'd just love a chance to find out."
"And what if she didn't like you? Or the idea of you being in love with her, sight unseen, was enough to scare her away?"
He shrugs, not really answering. He looks awfully sad, though. "Like I said, that's my best case scenario. My more realistic goal is that she comes back to Metropolis." He glances at me and smiles wryly. "And that she doesn't run screaming when she sees me coming."
"I don't think you'd need to worry about that," I can't help saying. My crush on him has grown by leaps and bounds just in the last ten minutes. I'd always known I admired and respected him. Now I'm finding that I just flat-out *like* him, as a person, and I'm getting dangerously comfortable here with him. "You're very attractive."
He waves that off, looking a little embarrassed again. "That's just surface stuff. Not really important, in the long run."
I disagree, but I'm not going to argue with him over it. I pick up my notepad again. "Is that why you don't date anyone?" I hadn't planned to ask this, but I've wondered about it for a long time. "Are you holding out for her, or just using that as an excuse to get away from groupies?"
He smiles. "A little of both. It's hard to find someone who can see past the spandex."
I grin. He's right; the spandex is very distracting. "But if someone did, would you go out with them, Clark?" My heart rate has sped up again, and I know he knows it, so I might as well plunge ahead. "What if I asked you out to dinner?"
I think that shocks him. "Um, well… I really can't. It's, um, always such a hassle for me to eat out." He stops searching for words, and smiles brightly. "Besides, you can't be seen with me, remember? You're the impartial outside journalist."
"Going out and being seen are two different things," I point out.
"Not for me, they're not."
"Don't be silly, Clark." I've thought about this one in advance. "All you need is a baseball cap, some faded jeans, and a baggy shirt. Maybe sunglasses, too, although you used to wear glasses, so there are some pictures of you out there in them. It might be better if you slouched."
He raises his eyebrows. "You think that would work?"
"Sure! Why wouldn't it? We'd just have to go someplace informal, and maybe a little ways out of town. And even if you do get caught, no one knows who I am." I grin; that's more true than he knows.
He's looking bemused, and I hold my breath. I hardly know what to hope for. Do I want him to stay faithful to his absent, imaginary girlfriend, or to prove he's not obsessed by going out with me?
"Well… I guess we could call it part of the interview… and if you're sure you want to bother…"
I cut him off before he can talk himself out of it. "I'd love to go to dinner with you, Clark."
"Oh. Okay, then." Slowly, his smile comes back, even brighter than before. "Thanks."
I make a snap decision. "But I don't want it to be part of an interview, so let's wrap this up. What do you think happened to Lois in Africa?"
The smile fades, and I kick myself for killing the mood.
"I know she got there, and that she spent a few days investigating, but after that… she just vanished." He straightens up and gives me a sharp look. "You already know that much, Lyn, so why are you asking?"
He's good. "Well, I have a theory." I put down the notepad again and close it up. "I think maybe she found something, or someone thought she did."
"Yeah, probably." I have his full attention, possibly for the first time in the interview. "So?"
"Well, go with me on this one. I'm thinking maybe she finds out someone wants her dead, so she runs. Maybe she gets all the way to Europe — then what does she do? She's not being chased anymore, but she can't go home; someone powerful still wants her dead. So she figures she'll lay low for a while, until the heat dies off. She gets a new identity. Maybe even a new job, as a journalist."
He can see where I'm going with this; I can tell from the dawning hope in his eyes. But he doesn't interrupt.
"She freelances a bit, gets a job in an obscure Eastern European country, and bides her time. And she probably gets so involved in her new life that she's not in any hurry to go back to the old one. Until she hears that the guy who wanted her dead has died himself."
"Lex Luthor," Clark whispers.
I nod. "So then, she makes her way back to the States. Still using her fake identity."
He leans forward, studying me intently. "And a disguise?"
Self-consciously, I adjust my glasses. "Sort of. She'd have changed her look when she decided to hide out. She'd probably be used to it by now."
"So why wouldn't she reveal herself to anyone, and get her old life back?"
I smile wryly. "Maybe she hears Superman is looking for her and gets a little bit spooked."
That rocks him back. "She's scared of me?"
I look at my knees for a moment, then meet his eyes again. "She was a little unsure, but then she concocted a clever plan."
He starts to smile. "Let me guess — she uses her fake identity to get close to me, and ask me all sorts of questions to find out if I'm an obsessed lunatic or not."
I love that sense of humor. "She figures if you are, she can go back to Europe. No harm done."
"Well… maybe she finds out that she likes you." I give him a little smile. "And that she'd really like to go to dinner with you. Without any false pretenses."
He smiles back, his eyes shining. "I think I like that theory. So… is she planning to take her old name back?"
"Not right away — she has to write up her interview with Superman first. As an impartial outside journalist."
"Oh, of course." He's trying to look serious, but the corners of his lips are twitching upwards. "And then?"
"Then, she just might appear in your office when you least expect her and say, 'hi Clark, I'm Lois'."
"I hope she does."
"I'm pretty sure she will. But in the meantime…"
He grins. "In the meantime — Lyn — how about you and I go out to dinner?"
I grin back. "I'd like that — Superman. I think we have a lot to talk about."