Summary: The Daily Planet's Internet servers have connected with our world! Jimmy stumbles across some fanfiction about them. How will everyone react?
Disclaimer: I own nothing. I make nothing from this. All Lois and Clark characters, plot points, and lines of dialogue belong to DC comics, Warner Brothers, December 3rd Productions, and anyone else with a stake in the Superman franchise. I'm just having a bit of not-for-profit fun. I also don't own any of the fanfics mentioned in this story. Most of them are made up. Some actually do exist.
Author's Note: This story was inspired by re-reading one of my favorite comedy stories on . That story would be "At The Rivendell Internet Cafe," by Fennelseed. The basic premise was that the Lord of the Rings characters hooked up to our world's internet and proceeded to search their own names. It's a really great piece, and I highly recommend that any LOTR fans read it.
Also note: Since this is a piece of pure fluffy comedy, I'm playing fast and loose with everything. And I DO mean everything. This piece will also dance a fine line with the PG-13 rating, as the concept of nfics is brought up. But there is absolutely nothing graphic about this.
Clark Kent finished typing the last sentence of the article he was working on. It had been a fairly easy article to pound out - a routine drug bust down in Hobbs Bay the day before. He hadn't even been there when the police had made the bust, neither as Clark nor as Superman. He'd taken Lois to a romantic dinner in Paris, at one of their favorite restaurants. But his friend, Bill Henderson, had given him all the details that afternoon when the station had released an official statement to the press, and the article had practically written itself.
He sent off the story to Perry, then stretched mightily in his chair. Glancing at Lois, he could tell that she was close to finishing her own work, but wasn't quite ready to leave just yet. To give himself something to do, he closed out the window he'd been working in, and clicked on his email. There wasn't anything remotely interesting or pressing there; he could deal with the few new emails in the morning. Besides, no one was expecting a reply this late at night. Only a handful of employees were still in the building. Everyone else had left for home hours ago. He contented himself to deleting out the spam, then closed out his email.
Opening his internet browser, Clark 's fingers tapped lightly, hesitantly on his keyboard. The paper had just switched to a much better internet provider that morning. The speed alone was enough to impress Clark. It could almost keep pace with him. He started to search things just for fun, reveling in the blazing speed of the search engine. He was just about to look for a recipe for the next day's dinner when a voice cut through the unnatural stillness of the bullpen.
"Hey, CK, check it out!" Jimmy said, coming over to his desk. The man pointed at Clark's computer. "You ever Google yourself?"
"I...what?" Clark asked, sputtering and choking on the sip of water he'd taken.
"Sounds dirty," Lois said, sliding over to her husband's desk to join them. She gave Clark a wicked look.
"A man has needs," Perry said, poking out from his office. He shrugged. "It's only natural."
"Perry!" Clark said, going scarlet as his blush bloomed.
"Not that I'm prying," Perry quickly amended, his hands up in a gesture of pacification. "What you do on your own time is none of my business."
"Hmmm, I'd like if Clark would Google my Yahoo," Cat Grant practically purred. She slunk over to join the rest, all crowded now around Clark's workstation. She put her hands on Clark's shoulders.
Lois slapped Cat's hands away. "Get your claws out of my husband," she snapped. "Or I'll be sending you home to Arthur Chow with a couple of broken fingers."
Cat shot Lois a scathing look. She opened her mouth to retort, but Jimmy spoke first.
"No, no," Jimmy said, coming to Clark's aid and shaking his head. "It's a search engine. Like Yahoo. You use it to look up information," he clarified, in response to Cat's somewhat mystified look.
Clark sighed and turned his attention back to Jimmy. "No, can't say that I have."
"Really?" Jimmy asked in disbelief. "You never searched your own name to see what comes up?"
"No," Clark replied, shaking his head. "Why would I want to do that?"
Jimmy shrugged. "Because it's fun, CK. Here, let me show you."
Jimmy reached over his friend, pulled up Google, and typed in Clark's name. A second later, a multitude of information popped up on the screen. Clark turned green as he scanned the links. Lois put her arms possessively around his neck and looked over his shoulder. The blood drained from her face, leaving her stark white as she too read the links.
"Clark," she said, sounding ill.
"I..." was all he could muster.
There, splashed across Clark's browser, in every single link, were the damning words.
Clark Kent was Superman.
By now, Perry had sidled up to the desk as well, curiosity getting the better of him. He read the words on the page in silence, nodding to himself. He chuckled a little bit.
"Oh. My. God," Jimmy said, his eyes wide and staring. They looked about ready to pop right out of his skull. "CK? Is this true?"
Clark felt ready to faint. Or vomit. Or maybe both. Possibly at the same time even.
"CK?" Jimmy asked again, now concerned. He turned to look at his friend. "CK?"
"So, wait a second," Cat said, her eyes narrowing into slits. "You're Superman?"
Clark felt trapped. What could he possibly say? All he could do was to weakly nod his head in affirmation.
"You're Superman?" Cat repeated in a demanding tone. Then she shook her head. "I don't get it. You can have any woman in the entire world. And you chose her?" she asked, jerking a thumb in Lois' direction.
"Jealous?" Lois asked, giving Cat a look that could kill. She folded her arms across her chest.
"Confused," Cat retorted.
"Well, I knew it was bound to come out sooner or later," Perry said, shrugging.
"Bound to come out? You knew?" Clark squeaked. "How?"
" Of course I did," the editor chuckled. "I'm not the editor of the world's greatest paper just because I can yodel, you know."
Clark only swallowed hard, which was difficult now that his mouth and throat had gone completely dry.
"Oh man, this is so cool!" Jimmy said, slapping Clark on one shoulder. "My best friend is the most awesome guy on Earth! I mean, you were before, CK. But this is just...wow!"
"Uh...thanks," Clark said, trying to formulate a complete thought. The gears of his mind seemed frozen in place.
"Hey," Jimmy said, scrolling through the list of search results as something caught his eye. "Look at this!" He pointed to the screen, his finger just a scant centimeter from the monitor's surface.
Clark looked at what his friend was referring to. "Fanfiction?" he asked, voicing the question to no one in particular.
Jimmy nodded. "Stories based on beloved characters in television, movies, books, games, what have you," the photographer explained. When everyone gave him a strange look, he cleared his throat. "I, uh, might have read some Star Wars fanfics before."
"But...that doesn't make any sense," Lois said, shaking her head. "We're not fictional characters in a story. We're flesh and blood people. And yet...there's stories apparently written about us."
"Maybe we hooked into an alternate dimension's internet," Clark sighed, surprised that his mind had lurched back into motion. Everyone's eyes shifted to Clark, and he squirmed uneasily under their gazes. "Long story," he said.
Lois reached over and grabbed Clark's mouse. She guided the arrow on screen to the link for the Lois & Clark FanFic Archive. A moment later, the screen came up. A ticker on top boasted over 3,600 stories on the site. Lois clicked on the first story listed on the site, tapping her nails on the mouse button while it loaded. Everyone peered over Clark's shoulder as they scanned the story.
"That never happened!" Clark protested, pointing to the story in question.
Jimmy shook his head. "Doesn't matter."
"But, it's a lie," Clark pressed.
"It's fiction, CK. It's not meant to be real."
"I know what fiction means," Clark mumbled, just loudly enough for his friend to hear him.
Cat grabbed the mouse and clicked back to the main page, looking for a new story. Clark gently shooed her away.
"Hey!" Lois said, as Cat commandeered the mouse.
"Stop hovering," Clark pleaded as he tried to get Cat to back up. "We have plenty of computers here. Go find your own, please."
Cat and Jimmy sulked, but moved away. Perry hesitated for a minute, then acquiesced. Everyone found an empty desk of their own, switched on the computer there, and pulled up the website. For a long time, nothing could be heard except for the soft clicking of mouse buttons as they all perused the archive.
Lois frowned, then moved away to grab her half-empty coffee mug from her own desk. She took a sip, steadying herself, it seemed. Then she returned to Clark's desk. Without a word, she seated herself in her husband's lap. Clark's free arm and hand snaked around her waist, holding her securely to him. But his face kept getting whiter and whiter as he clicked through different stories.
In the short span of time while Lois had gone to retrieve her coffee, he'd employed his super speed to peruse close to a hundred of the stories listed on the site. It appeared, from the submission dates, that the site had been gathering stories about Clark and his loved ones for years. And not a single one of them were true. Oh, some were based on the true adventures he'd lived through, but they often quickly diverted from fact into pure fiction.
Lois pointed at a story title. "Let's see that one."
Clark obliged, clicking the hyperlink. He laughed aloud when he read the author's disclaimer. It stated that for the purposes of the story, Lois was not dating Lex Luthor because the idea was gross. Clark couldn't agree more.
"I like this author already," he commented with a chuckle.
"Hey! Lex was nice to me!" Lois protested. "Well...at least, before he decided to blow up the newspaper in order to manipulate me," she added quickly. "And before I knew that he'd tried to kill you. Or had me cloned. Or tried to take advantage of my amnesia. Hmm...okay, objection withdrawn."
Nearby, Jimmy was shaking his head as he scanned the story before him. "Geez! I'm paired with your sister in a lot of these stories," he said, directing his voice towards Lois.
"I'm sure Lucy will be thrilled," Lois replied, her voice dripping with sarcasm.
"Ugh," Cat complained from her desk. "Here's one where you and I are together," she said, looking at Jimmy.
"You still owe me, from our bet," Jimmy teased.
"We're still distantly related," Cat snapped back.
"It's still not illegal," he retorted.
"It's still gross," Cat replied.
Jimmy slumped his shoulders dejectedly and clicked on a new fanfic.
"Great shades of Elvis," Perry complained as he commandeered Lois' computer. "This person wrote about my death!"
"I see that one," Lois replied. "That author seems to enjoy killing/hurting people in his -her? - stories. Must be some sicko."
"Oh dear Lord!" Perry exclaimed as he clicked a new story. "I think I just found a worse one. A list of a hundred ways to kill Superman!"
"What!" Clark said, his mouth hanging open.
"Yeah. Pretty creative ways if you ask me."
"Thanks, Chief," Clark said sarcastically. He clicked on a few new ones and shuddered. "Oh yeah? What about this Tank person?"
"What about it?" Cat asked.
"He...I'll assume it's a he...seems to have an obsession with my wife's hair. He manages to give her a haircut in almost every story."
Lois shuddered. "Creepy," she said. Her eyes darted quickly over the screen before her. "Although, I do have to agree with the assessment he gives my neck. It is rather nice." She smirked at Clark.
"And it's all mine," he said possessively.
Lois whacked him playfully on the arm and snickered. Clark growled lowly and kissed the neck in question. Lois sighed, momentarily in heaven. If it wasn't for this fanfiction thing, she'd insist on being whisked away to their home to take advantage of Clark's nuzzling in private.
"Uh, CK, you're not gonna like this..." Jimmy said, his voice trailing off.
"I can hardly wait," Clark replied.
"There's a whole section on here about people finding out about...well...the Superman thing."
Clark groaned. He'd noticed that quite a few stories involved Lois finding out his secret. He searched the archive until he found what Jimmy was looking at. Sure enough, there was a whole list of stories posted. Some centered around Lois discovering the secret. The rest had others discovering his dual identity. Most seemed to be people he was close to. Quite a few centered on Jimmy or Perry finding out. But others froze his blood in his veins.
"Why?" Clark wondered aloud, miserably. "Why can't people leave well enough alone?"
"Because," Lois said, giving him a reassuring peck on the cheek.
"That's not an answer," Clark replied, feeling himself growing slightly grumpy all of a sudden.
"Because it's so ridiculous, the way a stupid pair of glasses and some lame excuses so thoroughly throw people off and hide the fact that you moonlight in tights."
"They aren't really tights, you know," Clark countered. "Just Spandex pants."
"Actually, it's more of a unitard, isn't it?" Lois smirked.
"Well, whatever," Jimmy said. "I give you credit for having the...uh, guts to parade around in public like that. It's not like the suit hides much. I certainly wouldn't have the courage."
"Clark," Cat purred from her computer. "I never knew you and Mason got so close."
"We didn't," Clark said, his stomach twisting into a knot. He still didn't like to think about how relentlessly Mason Drake had chased after him, or of how he was too late to save her from that car bomb. "She was interested and I really wasn't."
"Not according to some of these stories," Perry commented. "Judas Priest, you'd think you were about to marry her in this one."
"And here's one where you had a baby with another woman, before Lois," Jimmy said.
"Clark..." Lois said, mock warning in her voice.
"Lois, honey, you know I'd never do that."
"I know. It's just fun to watch you squirm a little sometimes." Lois flashed him a wide grin.
Clark rolled his eyes.
"Well, this one has you getting pretty amorous after some red Kryptonite," Cat helpfully pointed out. "Too bad you went after Lois in it. Why is it always her?"
Clark grimaced and clicked on another story, then just as quickly exited it. "Well, that's depressing," he announced.
He'd clicked out of it too quickly for Lois to see anything.
Clark sighed. "That one had you and our baby dying in childbirth."
"That is depressing," Lois said, frowning.
"Oh, it gets better. Apparently I survived for half a year without you, then killed myself."
Lois shuddered. "Would you really do that?" she asked in a quiet voice.
Clark sighed. "Lo-is."
She gave him a pleading look, but Clark tried to ignore it. He really didn't want to wander down the paths of the hypothetical. He was dealing with enough stress at the moment. Lois, for her part, allowed him to have his way. Besides, she could always talk to him about it at home.
"Hey, CK. Check this one out. There's a manual on here for dealing with Lois," Jimmy said, trying to hide his immense amusement.
"A manual? What am I? A household appliance?" Lois complained. "I'm not really high maintenance. They know that, right?"
Clark tried, unsuccessfully, to stifle a laugh. "No, really, honey. You're fine. Now that we're married, that is."
"You're treading dangerous waters, there, son," Perry warned.
"Hey, anyone? What's slash mean?" Cat suddenly asked, from where she'd taken over Walter's desk.
"Slash?" Jimmy asked. "I don't see any of that on here." He sounded really confused.
"I went to a different site," Cat offered.
She quickly rattled off the address. There was silence for a moment as they all typed it into their browsers. Jimmy laughed, tried to stifle it, failed, and choked on his own spit.
"Slash," he said, catching his breath. "You know."
"No, we don't," Clark said, his heart sinking.
"You know," Jimmy tried again. "Two dudes paired up romantically. Or at least, sexually. I think it stems from Star Trek fics. Like Spock-slash-Bones."
"Or in this case," Perry said, clearing his throat. "Clark and Lex."
Clark had been taking a sip from the bottle of water on his desk. He reflexively spit the drink out, thankfully not in Lois' direction. He coughed and choked as the rest of the water whooshed down into his lungs. Lois reached around her husband's back and thumped him, hard. Clark continued to cough.
"Luthor?" he squeaked, after he regained his breath.
"And apparently enjoying it," Perry said, nodding. "Clark, you know, don't take this the wrong way, but, uh, I never took you as the dominate type. And I certainly can't see Lex being at all submissive."
"But..." Clark sputtered, looking for words. "He's not...I'm not...he was a killer. He hated me. I despised him. These people...these writers, they do realize that, don't they?"
"Of course they do," Jimmy said, shrugging. "That's what makes it appealing for some of these writers. The element of 'what if?'...know what I mean?" Everyone turned to openly stare at him. "Okay, I might have written some fanfiction in my time," he admitted with a sheepish smile. "Never the slash stuff mind you."
Clark looked at his monitor and typed in the address Cat had mentioned earlier, pulling it from memory. He hoped nfic stood for non-fiction. However, as he scanned a new story, it became quite obvious that was not the case. It was nothing short of very graphic, very adult material. He quickly backpedaled out of that story.
"Oh, Lois, here's one about you and me," Cat purred, teasing her. "I don't know whether to be flattered that someone wrote about me, or offended that they paired me with you."
"Quick, Clark, give me your garbage pail before I throw up," Lois retorted with a snort.
Clark chuckled. He was embarrassed, but he clicked on a new link anyway, his curiosity awakened and taking control. His eyes popped open at what he read on the screen. And yet, he couldn't stop the slow grin that unfurled on his face.
"Honey," he said, nuzzling her neck. "I never knew you were into that." His voice was a whisper in his wife's ear.
Lois smacked his chest, hard. "Keep it up and you'll be in the doghouse for sure," she warned him, though he could tell she was only half serious.
"Oooh, I just saw one about that," Jimmy said, snapping his fingers and going back to the other window he had open. "Ah yes, here it is. Clark magically turned into a dog when we all thought he'd been shot and killed." He paused. "Huh. Now that miraculous resurrection makes a ton more sense." He shook his head.
"And here's one where Lois makes him wear a collar," Cat said, her eyes gleaming in amusement.
Clark felt himself wishing for invisibility. He tried to make himself as small as possible in his chair. Leave it to Cat to find some of the kinkier stuff. This was pay-back for teasing Lois, he thought.
"Never took you for a wild one," Cat continued, shooting Lois and Clark both a glance. "Either of you. But I have to say, I approve."
"For God's sake, it's fiction," Lois said, squirming uncomfortably now. "There is no wearing of leather or chains or God only knows what else."
"Pity," Cat said, giving her a smug look. "You have no idea what you're missing."
"Oh, Jimmy," Perry said, roaring a laugh and slapping his thigh. "Here's one about you and me. Oh boy, you'd do just about anything for a raise, huh?"
Jimmy paled. "Sorry Chief, I don't need the extra cash that badly," he quipped.
Perry continued to laugh. "Not according to this."
Lois grabbed the mouse from Clark again and guided it to a new story. "Oh hey, one about you and Jimmy!" she announced to him.
Clark rolled his eyes and his cheeks reddened. He could feel the heat burning there in his embarrassment. Jimmy must have found the same story, and he shot Clark a look.
"Well, you know," he teased. "You are a good looking guy, CK."
"Sorry, but you just aren't my type," Clark said.
"Those luscious dark locks of hair. That strong jaw line."
"Ok, very funny," Clark said.
"Those rich, chocolate eyes."
"You two wanna get a room?" Perry teased. "I think the copy room is empty."
"Don't encourage him, Chief!" Clark admonished.
Perry only laughed even harder. Clark's face burned as another heated blush overtook his features. Lois giggled at him, and kissed him lightly on the cheek.
"Aww, we're just having fun," she said, putting on a mock pout.
"I know," Clark grumbled with a sigh. "It's just...weird. All of this." He gestured to his computer screen. "Don't people have anything better to do with their lives than make up stories about us?"
"Of course they do," Jimmy said, looking up from his screen and shrugging. "But, CK, no offense. Until you've tried it, you have no idea how addicting it gets."
"I get what it's like, to enjoy writing so much. That's why I made it my profession. But to write about other people..."
"Uh, son, you know you do write about other people for a living?" Perry asked, drawing his words out longer than necessary.
Clark squirmed a little under his boss' gaze. "Well, sure, but...I don't...make up stuff about them."
Perry raised an eyebrow, deliberately prodding Clark. Lois saw the look and giggled. Clark sighed.
"I give up. It's late. I'm going home. Come on, Lois."
"Those last few fics get you all hot and bothered?" Cat teased him.
"As a matter of fact, no," Clark replied. "I've just had a long day, that's all. I had the Mayor's speech that I covered, Lois and I made some significant progress on the string of headless corpses showing up in major intersections around the city, plus I had three house fires, a car accident, and two shootouts, and a cat stuck in a tree as Superman. I'm tired and I just want to go to bed."
"You want some company?" Cat said, licking her upper lip seductively. "There's this one I found where you, Lois, and I..."
"Cat," Clark said, cutting her off firmly but politely. "I really, really don't want to know."
"Suit yourself," Cat grumbled.
Clark was about to stand and shut his computer down when the lights in the bullpen flickered and then went out. He stopped moving instantly, though he could see fairly well in the dark. In fact, the dark was little more than an annoyance to him.
"What in Sam Hill?" Perry asked, slowly standing. "A power outage?"
"I don't think so, Chief," Clark said, moving towards the large window of the bullpen. Looking out, he hummed thoughtfully. "Nothing else is dark. Must be something just with this building."
"Oh, well, that's just perfect," Perry complained. "Because we don't have anything important to do here."
A moment later, the lights and power came back. The computers they had all been using beeped as they restarted themselves. Three minutes later, they had finished booting up. Jimmy was the first to delve back into the internet. Rapid clicking sounds emanated from his keyboard.
"Hey!" he cried. "It's all gone!"
"Not your story notes, I hope," Lois said sympathetically.
Jimmy shook his head. "I just typed in CK's name again. Nothing. Just the boring stuff. His articles. His Kerths and Merriwethers. The usual. I even tried typing in those web addresses we were just on. It's like they just...vanished."
"Jimmy, don't you think that's a good thing?" Clark asked, seeing that the younger man was a little troubled.
Jimmy sighed. "I guess."
Cat pouted. "I don't know. I was kind of enjoying it."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Aren't you late for your flight to Tuscany with Arthur Chow?"
Cat flashed her a winning smile. "Um...no. Not when it's a private plane, Lois."
Lois rolled her eyes again. "All right. I'm with Clark on this one. I'm going home."
"Boy, marriage really has changed you," Cat said, muttering under her breath.
"What was that?" Lois snapped.
"I said, marriage really has changed you," Cat repeated, louder this time.
Lois crossed her arms defensively. "Oh yeah? How's that?"
"The Lois I left behind when the Planet blew up would be eyeball deep in research already, wanting to know exactly what just happened with the internet. But this Lois...this married and in love Lois...is going home?" Cat made a terrible face, as though she'd sniffed something with a pungently disgusting odor. "It's like I don't even know you anymore!"
Lois was stunned for a moment. "You're right," she conceded after a long pause. "I guess I have changed. Cat...oddly enough, it was good to see you again. Come on, Clark."
Clark cleared his throat. "Um..." he stammered for a moment. "Can we all just...forget about what we saw tonight? Please?"
"Your secret's safe with me," Perry said.
"Me too, CK," Jimmy swore.
Everyone's attention pivoted to Cat.
"Okay," she said, throwing her hands up. "I know nothing."
"Thanks," Clark said gratefully. "Goodnight, everyone."
He helped Lois into her coat before slipping into his own. Lois took his arm, linking their arms intimately, though Clark could feel the extra possessiveness behind the touch tonight. Lois had been especially territorial ever since Cat had waltzed into the newsroom for a visit while she was in Metropolis. He didn't mind it. If anything, it made him love her even more. Together, they went to the elevator bank, punched the button, and left the bullpen for the night.
Tempus chuckled to himself as he spied on the Daily Planet through the book-sized portable viewing screen in his hands. He reclined comfortably in an overstuffed armchair, back in his own universe and time. It was a hellhole of decency and pleasantries, and of overwhelming boredom, but he thought it best to lay low for a while since his escape from the Metropolis Institute for the Criminally Insane. He'd been lucky that the peacekeepers of his own time had seen yet another bungling fool to come and collect him. He'd killed the man, stolen his time window, and vanished for several months, hiding out in a different time.
When he'd finally chanced looking into his own time, he'd been struck with a brilliant idea. He'd immediately stolen the necessary equipment, then had gone back to 1998. Another quick theft had landed him a janitor's coveralls. Slipping into the Daily Planet building had been all too easy. It had been like taking candy from a baby to saunter past the men who were rewiring some of the electrical equipment in preparation for the switch in internet servers. One swift move had switched out their device with the one he had stolen.
The innocuous device had tapped into the internet of another universe.
Specifically, a universe in which Superman was no more than a myth.
Tempus thought that perhaps, it might be time to visit in that universe for a while. The only thing that had prevented him from going there so far was the overly tantalizing chance to make Clark Kent's life a living hell. Today had been a trial run.
The results had been far from satisfactory. Tempus had heard that the device tended to overload the power supplies. Apparently his had done so. And what was worse, was that it had apparently fried itself in the power surge.
Well, that was a small matter in his mind. It didn't make much of a difference that it had failed so quickly. It didn't bother him that it hadn't destroyed Superman. It had had one redeeming quality.
It had been fun.