NEW ARRIVALS

"Hi Lois!" Lois lane turned in her place in the cafeteria line to see Catherine Grant grinning at her.

"Hi Cat." Lois replied with an inward groan. She had been with Cat in high school, and now it seemed they were going to be together in college as well. Although Lois considered Cat a friend, she was a little hard to stand at times, with her somewhat snide nature, and her virtual obsession with men.

"Let me guess, you've taken literary honours and media communication too, right?" Cat said. Lois nodded and stared ahead as the line inched forward.

"So, wanna know what I've heard about our fellow first years?" Cat asked in an enticing whisper.

Lois's ears pricked up immediately. It was this fact more than any other which had drawn the two together in high school. Cat loved to gossip and find out everyone's dirty secrets. Lois disliked gossip but she was addicted to finding out the truth about people and events. In fact, she had already seen that there was a college newspaper which she was considering joining.

"What do you know?" she asked, leaning back slightly to listen better.

"Well, you see that guy?" Cat whispered, pointing towards a tall, handsome student with blond hair and broad shoulders who was walking towards a table with an arrogant stride. "His name is Arthur Curry. His dad's the owner of the biggest line of boats, ships and other sea stuff in metropolis. He practically owns the oceans around here. And that guy sitting over there," Cat pointed at a very tall African student with close cropped hair, who was sitting at a table alone, eating lunch. "His name is John Jones. His entire family was murdered in a civil war in Africa a year ago. He was sent to America on a scholarship by a UN peace keeping program. And that guy over there" Cat nodded towards a slim, red haired student who had just walked into the cafeteria. "Wally West. I heard Coach Travis say he was the fastest runner he has ever seen. He could've tried out for the Olympics, but he wanted to get through college first.

Lois digested all this information in silence, with occasional nods. It seemed they had some interesting classmates.

"What about him?" Lois asked in a whisper, pointing at a guy who was also sitting alone at a table, his back turned to them. She wasn't the only one who was looking at him. Several girls were shooting him interested glances, some walking past his table repeatedly to get his attention. But he ignored them all.

"Ah, yes." Cat said with a coy grin. "I was saving him for last. Ever heard of Wayne industries?"

"Of course." Lois said. Wayne industries was the biggest company in Gotham. It owned practically every shop and product in Gotham, and had a global market in terms of weapons engineering.

"Well, meet Bruce Wayne, heir to the fabulous Wayne fortune, and the richest kid in the college. He's a loner by nature, has very few friends and takes part in no extracurricular activities. His list of subjects is too large to remember, and he has also opted for special courses in criminal psychology." Cat reeled off, proud of having found out so much about the guy the whole school was buzzing about.

Bruce Wayne rose with his empty tray and turned to face them. Lois saw jet black hair and cool blue eyes in a face that seemed to be carved out of marble, with a chiselled jaw, and high cheekbones. He was wearing a close fitting and obviously expensive jacket, which showed off his lean, muscular physique perfectly.

Cat sighed as he passed by them, following him with her eyes. "What he would look like without his shirt." She said dreamily.

Lois, who was being given a lump of soggy, brown food by the lunch lady, snorted. She turned to say something to Cat, but collided with a student who was coming in from the left.

"Oh, I'm sorry." The boy said, bending to retrieve her soda bottle. "Er, I'm afraid your food's gone. I'm really sorry."

"That's okay; it's not a big loss." Lois said. She took back the bottle and was conscious of a very tall and skinny person with thick glasses, who was staring at her guiltily. She smiled at him reassuringly for a second, then turned back to Cat.

"Err, well, I don't think I've introduced myself, my name is Clark Ke-"

"Yeah, okay, sure." Lois said absently, wanting to resume her conversation with Cat. She wondered where she could sign up for the newspaper.

Clark Kent sighed, lowering the hand he had offered Lois, and fixed his glasses more securely on his nose. He took the spoon he had come for and returned to his empty table. College was proving more difficult than he had imagined. He had never left his home in smallville before. So far, people seemed prone to confuse him with the background most of the time. Clark was never fond of the limelight so he did not really mind, but it was getting harder to make friends.

"Missing home again, Kent?" Clark looked up to see Bruce Wayne strolling over to his table and sitting in the chair opposite him, looking at him critically.

"Good morning to you too, Bruce." Clark replied with a wry smile. So far, Bruce was the only friend he had in college, although Bruce preferred to think of them as merely acquaintances. He was paranoid about keeping everyone at arm's lenght, and not letting anyone into his private life.

"So what's the matter, missing the boy scouts club back home?" Bruce asked, leaning back in his chair.

"Just depression in general." Clark admitted. "Not a very friendly place, college. Although I suppose it's different for the son of Mr. Thomas Wayne." He added. And it was true. Lots of students seemed surprised he should be speaking to the aloof Mr. Wayne, and were now staring at him in interest.

Bruce grimaced. "Bunch of gawking idiots." He muttered. Then a smirk appeared on his face. "I think they'd be more interested if they found out your secret."

"Bruce" Clark said warningly. "We talked about this..."

"Oh come on Clark." Bruce said, enjoying himself. "I'm sure all the students will be thrilled to know they're studying with the son of the mayor of metropolis."

"Keep your voice down." Clark implored. "You know my parents and I decided to keep that under wraps. It's a security risk. Plus, it's really annoying how they stare at you. I don't want that too."

"Fine, if you insist." Bruce conceded, sitting back with a grin.

When Jonathan Kent was elected mayor of metropolis, there was a huge publicity show, since the story of a small farmer rising to such heights was one that appealed to everyone. But Jonathan had kept his family away from the spotlight, allowing them to lead their normal lives.

During a charity function, Jonathan had taken Clark to the party. Clark had felt uncomfortable in the opulent surroundings, and had gone to sit in a corner of the room. He had been joined shortly by another boy. Perhaps because they were the only two of the same age there, they fell to talking, in a conversation that grew engrossing on both ends. After talking for more than an hour, they had parted, finally introducing themselves as Clark Kent and Bruce Wayne.

Since then, the two had become friends, meeting regularly, sharing the very different viewpoints they had on life.

"Well, I have to get to class now." Bruce said, rising abruptly from his seat.

"Good to have you dropping by." Clark said. "Oh, and thanks for checking up on me." He added.

"I don't know what you're talking about." Bruce said loftily.

After knowing each other for a few months, Bruce had told Clark about the mugging that had taken both his parents from him, so that the only family he had left was his uncle Razal Gul. In return, Clark had told him about the disease that had ravaged his body a year ago, weakening him greatly, and turning him into a walking skeleton. Ever since finding out about this, Bruce had found some excuse to check up on him, since there was a possiblity of a relapse, and Clark was still on medication. Although Bruce would deny the "checking up" charge vigorously.

"I came because I was bored." Bruce said, as he prepared to leave. "All the other guys can't seem to be able to think past partying and girls. Apparently, some guy beat up two other guys because they wanted to ask out some first year girl he liked. But then when he asked her, she turned him down too."

"That's pretty sad." Clark said with a laugh. "Who's the femme fatale?"

"Some girl named Diana Prince."

My novel, Neel Dervin and the Dark Angel, is available for free on Amazon this Saturday and Sunday, 9th and 10th february, 2013.