I…Like…Tea. It's my new coffee.
Metropolis was deeply in contrast to Star City's easy weather conditions. Rain poured drizzled down after pouring down in sheets earlier that morning. The wind whipped the falling water furiously, soaking even those with umbrellas. Thunder rumbled, adding to the cacophony of city traffic, and lightning frequently skittered across the skies.
Just Mr. Kent's luck that he was running late. There'd been no time-traveling escapades for him, but a rather interesting adventure in deep space over the weekend and a slight exposure to Kryptonite. A typically standard dislike of Monday had warped into deep hatred, and rather than waking when his alarm had gone off, he'd smashed it to itty pieces and rolled over. When he'd drifted awake next, he'd barely had time to trip into the shower.
Despite his abilities, he didn't fancy flying in this weather; it wouldn't be the first time he'd attracted lightning bolt. Unfortunately, he'd gone down to his apartment's parking deck and found his car in need of gas, forcing him to take the train. Getting a cab was near impossible even in fair weather.
During the time he was exposed to the elements, his umbrella had proved as useful as holding a flamingo over his head. Well, no. If he'd had a flamingo, the cabbies might have stopped to stare long enough for him to catch one.
Eventually, he made it to the dry haven of the Daily Planet, decidedly damp.
When he stepped off of the elevator, naturally, Lois spotted him first. To her credit, she tried not to laugh. With a suspiciously twitching face, she'd informed him that Perry wanted to talk to him now before retreating to over there before he picked up quiet, hardy chuckles. Really though, that was nice of her, at least making an attempt to not laugh in his face.
Shaking his head and smiling ruefully, Clark went to the men's room first. Perry had been waiting this long; a few more minutes for him to dry off wouldn't make much difference. After drying off as much as he could and hair still damp, Clark dropped his jacket and tie onto his desk as he walked to Perry's office. Lois smiled and cleared her throat as he went by.
He knocked and opened the door. The man sat as his desk, looking particularly harassed while fielding a call from what Clark gathered to be a lawyer, and waved Clark into a chair to wait. Apparently, Lois had used questionable methods once again, and someone didn't appreciate it, if he was hearing right. Naturally, Perry handled the lawyer's threats with the finesse that came to a newspaper editor after years. That being, threats and curses of his own. He ended it all with, telling the man that until he had a video, DNA evidence, or anything linking his reporter to the alleged crime, he and his client could go screw a pooch.
No sooner had Perry hung up the phone than he was pulling a bottle of Tums out of a desk drawer.
"Everything all right?" Clark asked as his boss popped three of the fruity flavored tablets into his mouth.
"Oh, fine. Yeah, just some businessman's lawyer threatening to sue the paper again on account of Lois. Nothing new, right?" Two more Tums. "The thing with that though: I need you off that piece on
"What? But I –"
"No. We knew when we started that piece was gonna piss off a lot of people. With this hanging over my head, I can't afford a flood of leeches with badges trying to suck me dry. Until this," he waved a hand vaguely, "is over, that's on hold."
Understanding that was the end of the conversation, he nodded stiffly and left. He'd been working on that piece for weeks and called in several favors. It wasn't a time imperative issue; it'd still be valid if he waited a few days…but the delay was just annoying.
It really wasn't Mr. Kent's day. The interesting thing about that: it wasn't going to get much better for him.
Dinah knew, if she wanted, that Ollie would grant her every whim. It wasn't often she let him do so. She was one of those independent women who would and could handle her own business. She didn't need to be taken care of. But as she rode comfortably in the backseat of her rented escort car with Brooks chauffeuring her about Metropolis, she had to admit it was so convenient to have options.
Besides, Ollie had been the one to give her the card, and she'd told him she'd only use it in an emergency. It was raining cats and dogs and impossible to catch a cab in this town. A bad hair day was emergency enough in her mind. For this meeting, looking like a drowned tabby cat simply would not do.
She'd already made preparations to get to Metropolis before she'd dropped by Ollie's place and fortunately her flight had left before the storm had gotten too terrible. Now, the rain was much less torrential and more drizzling. The car came to a stop in front of the Daily Planet, and her driver came around to open her door, holding an umbrella above her.
She smiled at him, tipped him a fifty when he opened the building door, and told him to grab a coffee. This might take a while.
"That's really too bad about your article, Mr. Kent," Jimmy said and Clark winced.
He'd told him and told him to just call him Clark. He kept expecting his dad to be standing over his shoulder every time he heard it. But sometimes Jimmy forgot.
"I mean," the photographer went on, "you've been working like a dog on it, and it might not even be relevant by the time this suit's over. Some other paper could get it, you know."
"Yes, Jimmy. I know."
Clark usually did the polite thing and listened to Jimmy when he talked. That didn't mean he always paid attention, but he never just outright ignored him on purpose. Sometimes, it just happened. As Jimmy tried to be comforting, he found himself tuning out to him and his hearing picked up on other sounds. Fingers clicking away on keyboards, phones ringing, the printer getting jammed, sprinkling rain, toilets flushing…basically everything else.
"It's like that old saying: when it rains, it pours, right?"
Clark looked up at the woman that had just thrown months of work, research, and favors down a flight of stairs and tossed a grenade after, just for good measure. But that wasn't fair. It wasn't like Lois tried to do these things to him. It just happened. All the time.
"I heard about your story. Sorry about that," she said, and if he squinted his eyes really, really tight – maybe closed them – he could almost say that she looked apologetic. "But hey, every cloud has its silver lining."
What was with the weather puns all of a sudden?
She grinned and patted his shoulder.
"No hard feelings, right?"
If she were anyone else, maybe. While he didn't make it a habit of holding a grudge, it might be a nice change of pace. But this was Lois. He couldn't be mad at her for being herself. Most days anyway.
"Of course not, Lois," he replied shortly. "If you'll both excuse me, I have a lot of work to do."
He put action to words, pulling notes out of briefcase and setting about organizing them. He didn't spare them another glance. Jimmy and Lois exchanged a look. They'd just been dismissed. By Clark Nicest-Most-Patient-Mom-and-Apple-Guy Kent. They backed away slowly.
He only worked for about fifteen minutes, using painstaking care to restrain himself from breaking the oh-so easily broken stapler that refused to work when he was interrupted.
"Excuse me, Mr. Kent?"
Familiar blue eyes from a familiar face surrounded by wavy blonde hair met his gaze. What in the world was she doing here?
"What in the world are you doing here?"
Smiling lightly, she shrugged helplessly. "We need to talk. About Conner."
Her smile turned tight, and she whispered through clenched teeth, "Superboy."
He might have guessed. Black Canary was one of several of the League who felt he'd treated his clone unfairly. But to come here like this and just…
"Now isn't the time for that."
He wasn't liking Lois's not-so subtle glances at them.
"That's what you've been saying every other time I've tried to have this discussion with you. All I need is ten minutes tops, and I'll be out of your hair."
By no means the Bat Glare, Clark had a pretty impressive scowl all his own. To her credit, Dinah didn't blink. Merely crossed her arms and arched a brow.
"I can wait, if you like."
"No," he sighed as he got out of his chair. "Come on."
Curious eyes followed them, and he knew half the men were wondering just how 'Smallville' knew a woman like that. He ignored them and led her to an empty conference room. The room was all glass walls and windows. On one side, half hallway and half office filled the field of view. On the other, the downtown of Metroplis seemed to be a water color of grey under the rain-filled clouds.
Unable to ignore his ingrained manners, Clark pulled out a chair for her. She settled into the chair, and he briefly glanced toward the desks of his coworkers. Most of them had gone back to their own business, expect Lois. She was staring, with that look in her eye.
Clark restrained a sigh and sank into a chair as well. He was so gonna get the third-degree after this. Typical, considering how his day had been going.
Clark wasted no time. As soon as she'd settled her bag next to her, he asked,
"How did you know?"
She grinned, smug.
"I have my sources."
"Ollie told you."
"Yes. But in his defense, I had to work him over for a while before he caved."
She was lying through her teeth on that one. She was pretty sure he knew it too but was too polite to call her out on it. Good ol', downhome values.
"Of course. So…Conner?"
Dinah glanced around to be certain that there was no one within earshot. A red-headed boy kept looking through the glass wall at them, and the semi-familiar brunette outright met her stare. Dinah smiled and waved before turning her attention back to Clark.
"Who came up with that?"
"A joint effort between J'onn and Megan. Conner Kent."
Oh, he did not look happy about that.
"Did Batman put you up to this?"
Her eyes widened in surprise for a second. Batman had gotten on his case about this, and he still wasn't in line. Batman? That took some serious cahones that she really didn't think the Man of Steel had.
"No, not at all."
"If you're here to try and sell me on the idea that he's my son, you can forget it. He isn't mine."
"I am aware how you feel about your…relationship to him. I don't pretend to understand your logic, but listen to mine. Superboy was supposed to be used as a weapon and his control is less than what I'm comfortable with. He's recently been attending high school with Megan, and not…well, it's high school."
"What does that have to do with me?"
She crossed her legs at the ankle to help restrain the sudden urge to kick him. She'd probably just break her foot anyway.
"He needs help with control, obviously. Batman and I have both done what we can, but sometimes, Conner slips. It's difficult to get a read on what he's capable of doing. He needs someone who can understand what he's going through and explain effective ways to keep it in check."
Clark regarded her, quiet for a moment. Dinah found herself getting impatient. How was this a hard decision? What was there to think about?
"You don't have to worry about him thinking you'll be his new best friend. He understands."
No, he doesn't. She didn't even understand.
"Besides that, the what if could be very bad for public appearance Can't you just see it?" she raised her hand, moving it from left to right, "'Superman Neglects Superboy: Teen Put Through Wall'. Not only will it make you look bad and put Conner out there, it'll make the whole League look like we can't handle our own children."
"He's not my child."
Such passion in four words. Did he even think of Conner as a child? As a person?
Dinah frowned at him, and he heard her teeth grinding.
"I said our. You've made it clear that you have no claim on him. I'm not saying take him to a ball game – which by the way, he's never been to one. I'm just saying step up and help a kid who's got more power than he knows how to handle and show him how not to hurt people. That's your thing, isn't it? Helping people?"
Clark just sighed. No one would have ever pulled this stunt on Batman. Not even him; he was well aware of that stash of Kryptonite Bruce kept around for 'just in case'.
"You really don't pull your punches, do you?"
She smiled, and he knew that she knew that she won. "Not my style. So, when should we expect you?"
Clark pushed his glasses up his nose and rubbed his eyes. Look on the bright side. The day couldn't get worse. Not for him, anyway. He was going to have pay Ollie a visit after work today.
I hate Yo Gabba Gabba. At least Barney has freakin' lyrics rather than cult-like, repetitive chanting. On a related note, I love earphones.