A/N: This story is a sequel to "Searching for Clark Kent" that I've been working on since late November, only two days after finishing "Searching" (since I can't seem to put the Superman-universe down). If you haven't read the first in the series then I suggest you do, as there will be references made to past events that will impact the characters and the plot in this story.

Also, I would like to give a BIG THANKS to my friend and beta, the lovely VictorianSuperman. If it weren't for her help this story might never have come to fruition; she is the best editor that anyone could ask for and a very talented fan fiction writer that is currently working on a great Superman story of her own. So thanks for everything, VictorianSuperman, because without you this story might never have happened.

And now I hope you'll stick around and enjoy chapter 1 of "Consequences". Happy reading!

East Side Slums, "??". Kirk lay back on top of the bed, a half-empty bottle of whiskey beside him and a cigarette dangling off his lips. The television at the foot of his bed seemed to drone on endlessly as he slipped in and out of sleep. At one point he shuffled out of bed to further open the window behind the outer iron bars, allowing the miniscule breeze to flow more freely over his boxer-clad body, otherwise he stayed put in a puddle of sweat. He clasped his hands behind his head and crossed his feet at his ankles; leaning back against the headboard, he took a deep drag on his cigarette and allowed himself to smile.

He'd been out of prison for two months and his life couldn't be going any better, even if he'd planned it. His 'Uncle' hired him on as a stock boy at one of his 'corner markets' (which was a good enough job to keep the parole officer off his back), when in reality he had jumped right back into the drug trade in the same neighborhood where he'd been collared three years earlier.

Now, thanks to this same Uncle, he had cash in his pocket, food on his table and a roof over his head…and all within eight short weeks.

Metropolis, February 14, 2009. Jimmy Olsen walked a short distance away from the entrance to the Ottman Hotel before hailing a cab back to his own apartment. He'd just dropped off his date, Chloe Sullivan, after an eventful evening out. In fact, he felt that he wasn't so much walking as he was floating on Cloud Nine. I haven't had a first date this good since…since…he ran through a mental checklist of his previous girlfriends, which was rather limited…since ever. Wow…I don't know if I should be happy or sad about that…he frowned momentarily before deciding that one great first date trumped all the other mediocre ones in his brief dating history, as he clambered into the yellow taxi.

"324 Hoyden Street, please," he told the driver before staring blankly out the window. Chloe…such a pretty name…and she's smart too! Not like the other girls I've dated before…she's brassy, kind of like Lois, but softer somehow…oh man am I in trouble…Jimmy let his thoughts drift back to their date at O'Malley's that evening, occasionally chuckling to himself as he recalled some smart aleck-y comment one or the other had made, all the while grinning like a fool.

He let himself into his small, third floor apartment and flicked on the light without a thought, simultaneously shutting the door behind him and flinging his jacket on the shabby brown sofa nearby. The keys had just fallen into the bowl on the hall table with a clang when the telephone rang. It's almost midnight, who could that be…? Jimmy lunged for the phone.

"Hi, Jimmy?" a female voice asked tentatively.


"It's Chloe."

He started where he stood, his eyes going wide while he debated whether his ears were deceiving him. Well this isn't exactly normal, but ok…

"I know this is a bit unorthodox," she started to say to him, shifting her weight from one foot to the other while her nightgown swished around her calves, "But 'The Metropolan' is flying me back home tomorrow evening and I really wanted to see you again before I left. Do you think we could meet for lunch or something?"

"Lunch would be great! I, uh, I was thinking of saying something back at the hotel…"

"…but we were kind of preoccupied," she said, slightly embarrassed as the image of them making out like teenagers rose to the forefront of her mind.

"Yeah, and I didn't want to come on too strong…"

"Oh, you're plenty strong," she quipped.

He laughed. "Hey now, don't sell yourself short, you're the one that kicked the gun out of his hand."

"But I'm not the prize fighter who knocked him out in one punch either." At that they both laughed off their near scare from an hour before.

"How about we just say we're even and I'll meet you in front of the Ottman at, say, 1 o'clock tomorrow? Or is that too late for you?"

"No, 1 o'clock is fine. I look forward to it." She paused, and he wondered if she could hear his heart beating in his ears. "Good night, Jim. Again."

"Good night."

He replaced the phone in its cradle and walked down the short hallway to his bedroom with a large grin permanently plastered to his face. Standing at the foot of the bed with his back to the mattress, he allowed himself to free-fall onto his comforter, swooning like a girl. She called me…I can't believe she called me AGAIN! Wow…

Superman stood on the roof of the building opposite his childhood friend's hotel room and watched her smile broaden as she hung up the phone. He had meant to change clothes and knock on her door—to check up on her to see if she was truly alright after the hold-up earlier in the evening—but by the look and sound of it, the near-mugging was all but a memory. He smiled to himself as she prepared to crawl under the covers for some well-deserved rest.

Good night Chloe…I hope he makes you happy…

Metropolis, February 15, 2009. "So now that we've talked about our work enough," Chloe said jokingly, knowing she had dominated that portion of the conversation with her chatter about running the Tribune. "Why don't you tell me something personal? Maybe something about your family?" She reached into the bread basket and pulled out a roll.

Jimmy spluttered into his soda. "Ah, um, well," he grabbed the napkin and dabbed at his chin. "There isn't all that much to tell I guess." She shot him a look almost identical to the one Lois gave him on a daily basis in the bullpen. "Ok then. Let's see, I've got four younger siblings, all of whom still live in Connecticut and two of whom still live at home with my mother, Cheryl. After me, there's my brother Josh, who just turned thirty…he works as a free-lance artist, doing mostly comic books and stuff. He's kind of the black sheep of the family, but he's really not all that bad; just a little rough around the edges. Then there's Jennifer, she's twenty-six and just got engaged about a month or two back. I haven't met her fiancé because of work and stuff, but I hear he's a really nice guy. They both work in real estate together—that's how they met, one of those taboo office romances you always hear about—and Jen tells me they're thinking of opening up their own office once they get hitched. She's probably the most successful out of all of us; I don't know if that's why Mom likes her best or not…"

"Jimmy! I'm sure your mother doesn't play favorites!" Chloe protested, lightly smacking his arm with her cloth napkin.

He smirked, "Just checking to see if you were paying attention. Then there are the twins, Justin and Jill, both nineteen and going to college. Justin's a history major—he's planning on becoming a teacher—and Jill's studying architecture."

"All J names, that's cute…"

"It's psychotic actually," he said, cutting her off before she could get any ideas. "Mom would be screaming for one of us and all we'd hear was 'J—' and she'd have all five pairs of feet come running. She said it was like listening to stampeding elephants…there were times the woman feared for her life, no joke."

Chloe threw her head back in laughter at the mental picture. "Well, in spite of the 'psychotic' names it still sounds like you've all turned out alright and she must be very proud. But you haven't mentioned your Dad, Jimmy—is it because your parents are divorced? It's nothing to be ashamed of you know, my parents went through the same thing when I was twelve."

She watched his demeanor change as the waiter stopped at the table with their burgers. As the server moved away, Chloe saw the increasingly dark cloud steal over her normally happy-go-lucky companion's face and wondered what she'd said to upset him. Prime example of my open-mouth-insert-foot syndrome, she thought to herself as she debated over how to break the awkward silence.

"I'm sorry, I didn't mean to sound so careless, I was just…"

He brushed it off with a wave of his hand. "No, you were curious, and it's ok…you're a reporter; you'd think I'd be used to it by now hanging out with journalists all day and in my down time too. It's just that I have a hard time talking about him with anyone; the only other person who knows around here is Clark, and that's because we…" he stopped, choosing his words carefully, "…we come from similar circumstances." He reached for the ketchup container at the other end of the table.

Similar circumstances? Does that mean he died too? Oh God…"Jimmy, I had no idea your father had passed away."

"Passed away?" he asked then let out a disconcerting laugh. Now Chloe was really confused. He finished chewing the pickle he'd plopped in his mouth and answered her. "No, he's not dead, Chloe...at least, I don't think so. My father left us when I was fifteen years old. That's what I meant when I said Clark and I were similar—our Dads were either unwilling or unable to be there for us when we were teenagers; his father died whereas mine happened to just up and walk away. I really have no idea what happened to the man," he finished with a flippant wave of his hand before picking up his burger. She watched him chew away the anger and swallow down the bitterness. Hesitantly, she picked up her own meal, mimicking his movements while wishing she could take back her earlier line of questioning.

She put down the burger. "I'm really sorry, I had no idea—that must have been so awful for you."

He shrugged his shoulders and put his own meal back on his plate. Might as well let it all out now… "It was worse back then, when it actually happened. Mom was devastated; she kept thinking that maybe he'd gotten into a car accident and had been buried a John Doe, or that he had amnesia and couldn't remember who he was and that he had a family waiting for him at home. For a year she refused to give up hope that he'd come home one way or the other—that was the hardest thing to watch."

Jimmy let out a long sigh. "Life was never the same after he walked out on us. We owned the house free and clear, but there were six of us and Mom could only work part-time between her depression and taking care of the babies…it wasn't easy watching her like that and it made me grow up real fast. Then there was the welfare and the food stamps and the hand-outs from family and friends—that was really great. The kids at school used to tease me to no end—Hole-sen Olsen and the like—because I'd wear my clothes until they were threadbare to try and save the family some money. I barely made it out of high school, and when I did I came straight here looking for work so I wouldn't be a burden and so I could send some money home to Mom and the others." He got a faraway look in his eyes just then as he stared into space behind Chloe, recalling those first few years trying to eek out a living with nothing but his high school diploma and a photography portfolio; the nights spent at the YMCA huddled protectively around his camera case; gulping down coffee as a copy boy to keep the hunger at bay; the day he'd finally convinced Perry White to take another look at his work and hire him full-time at the Daily Planet.

Chloe wondered what was going on behind those puppy-dog brown eyes of his, knowing she could never truly understand the depths of his pain at the loss of his father. He was wrong though, she thought as she watched him, this had to have been so much harder than when Clark lost his Dad. She took hold of his hand then, bringing him back down to Earth, and he gave her a small sad smile. "Josh and I are the only ones old enough to really remember him—Jenny has some vague memories of a man who she thinks is Dad, but nothing too concrete—and the twins were only a year old when he split. Like I said though, Mom had it worst when it came to Dad's leaving." He finally looked into her face in time to catch Chloe wiping a tear from her eye. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have dumped that all on you. It's just that you're so easy to talk to, and…and I didn't even realize how far I'd gone."

"It's ok, I'm always here to listen to you if you need me. I tend to run my mouth off when I'm nervous, and that's what all that babble was about work before. I didn't mean to make you uncomfortable and I'm really sorry for bringing it up, we don't have to talk about it anymore…" she resumed her uneasy rambling from earlier.

"No, it's ok, I'm kind of glad it's out in the open now. When past girlfriends would find out, they'd always look at me funny afterward, like they couldn't believe they were dating a former welfare kid or something…" he shook his head. "I don't know."

"I would NEVER treat you that way because of what you just told me. NEVER." Her tone was final, and her green eyes searched his face until he looked straight at her again, seeking to reassure him that his past wasn't about to run her off. He coughed uncomfortably and reached for his soda before speaking up.

"Um, just one more thing. Nobody here knows about all this except CK, and even he doesn't know the whole story, so I'd appreciate it if we kept it that way. You know, just…"

"No telling Lois, got it."

"Exactly." He smiled again and squeezed her hand back before attacking his burger with gusto. "So, what's your family like?" he asked, one eyebrow raised mischievously as he looked at her from across his plate.

"Oh, no you don't! I am not falling into that one! We'll leave my family for another time. Besides, it would probably take all of dinner AND dessert to tell THAT story."

"Ha ha ha, fair enough—sooooo…you see another time in our future?"

Now it was her turn to blush. In a small voice she replied, "I was hoping so, yes."

He munched thoughtfully on an onion ring. "It's a shame you have to leave for Smallville tonight," he said wistfully, twirling a second onion ring around on his finger.

"Yes it is." She put her half-eaten burger down.

"Would you like to go for dessert after this? I know a great little place around the corner…" he said, trying to hold onto her for as long as possible.

Chloe put down her soda and gave him a sad smile. "I wish I could, but there's something I need to take care of before I skip town…"