A short 2-part "teaser trailer" story here! The action here takes place after my first JL fic "The Red House" and before my (sort-of) planned as-yet-unnamed sequel to that. I would suggest to read it first, but readers probably can make sense of this without it...but please read it anyway ;)Jimmy's suspicions about a certain "Diana" first appeared in Chapter Four. Story follows New 52 slightly but AU-ish with a crossover touch (also revealed later in the Red House).
Jimmy Olsen pushed past the gym rats, fitness nuts, and other assorted similar types as he hurried into the double-story Metropolis 24-Hour Fitness Gym, hoping he would still be able to still catch Lois there at her after-work workout. He knew Lois was frequenting the gym both before and after work - getting into shape and healthy seemed to be her mantra lately, and no doubt it was due to her new "life-partner's" beneficial influence. She had stopped smoking (something even Clark couldn't get her to do) and gone vegetarian (or almost). It was part of the "reclamation of herself" as Lois put it, ever since she'd assumed her new role as Editor-in-Chief of the Daily World, formerly the Daily Planet, and developed something of a fascination with the Justice League member known as Wonder Woman, said to be a living remnant of a lost Amazon tribe (or tribes) still existing on Earth, the way she once had with Superman.
Lois was always on the move and determined to make the new newsweekly a success, which unfortunately included riding her staff and employees mercilessly, much as the late Perry White used to do. It made Jimmy nuts but he acknowledged that it seemed to be working – the Daily World had doubled its readership and had effectively reversed the course of the sinking and moribund old Planet. Of course it helped that the Daily World now focused almost entirely on celebrity and fashion news, instead of the "hard" stuff, which was, truth be told, very depressing to read nowadays. Bombings and wars and random mass shootings everywhere, inept politicians screaming at each other, or at the Justice League; at least the latter was the only bright light and good news in a world full of violence and helplessness, or it seemed that way. Anyway, the Justice League always made for good copy. Jimmy thought, no wonder people fled for the brain-numbing solace of reading the exploits and misadventures of rich celebrities and celebrity wannabes, or just gaping at the photographs when they got caught with their pants down, sometimes literally. Well, when that happened, he would be the first on the scene! Jimmy himself had gone the way the wind was blowing and became a paparazzo. He didn't want to admit to himself that while the money was great, when he got the right shot, that it lacked something in journalistic integrity.
This change of focus was one of the reasons Jimmy's good friend Clark had quit his job, rather than keep on with the Daily World; he'd stuck to his rather old-fashioned principles of "truth, justice, and the American Way" rather than become a "tabloid" news reporter catering to the lowest denominator, and because of that Clark and Lois' friendship had suffered. But Jimmy still kept in contact with Clark, even after his friend's (inexplicable, to Jimmy's mind) marriage - marriage! - and return to Smallville to try to revive his old family farm. Clark had left Metropolis shortly before the Daily World decided to relocate its headquarters from Metropolis to Los Angeles, and Jimmy hadn't seen him in person since, though he'd talked to Clark occasionally via Skype and email, or text. The latest he'd heard from Clark was that he had sold or given up the farm, and was moving but not back to Metropolis.
Jimmy himself was actually looking forward to the Los Angeles relocation, even though his latest girlfriend Constance wasn't planning to go with him, but he was sure he could convince her - all he'd have to drop was some hints about the Hollywood scene (and hints about the girls there), and she'd be sure to follow, he was certain. She was just that clingy! He was seeing her tonight, in fact, perhaps she'd give him the affirmative then. At the moment, however, he was more concerned about his friend Clark. In fact, he'd become so worried that he decided he had to talk about this to Lois right away, despite her hectic schedule.
After entering the packed gym, he saw Lois almost right away, clad in UnderArmour-brand workout gear, sitting in the middle of a weight bench but talking on the phone to someone in a sharp tone that sounded like she was chewing ass. Since becoming chief-editor of the World, she had become much more demanding of her subordinates (now that she had subordinates) and was intimately involved in everything about the day-to-day running of the tabloid, again, just as old Mr. White had done for the Planet. She terrified the interns, and even the old veterans, like Jimmy, tended to cower before her new power, or at least most of the time they did. This time, however, Jimmy was insistent on speaking to her in person so Lois suggested they meet here, where she was spending much of her time, when she was not with her partner Tyresa.
"I don't care about what the health insurance rider states!" Lois barked to the poor soul on the other end of the connection. "They change the damn thing all the time, and they can do it for this time too – this is a once-in-a-lifetime story, and we're not going to drop the ball on this! You're our lawyer – do what you're paid to do! I want to hear something by the end of the day, and it had better be good!"
She ended the call in annoyance and shoved her smartphone into her gym bag at her feet, when she saw Jimmy approaching. "Hey Jimmy, you're just in time! Be my spotter."
He stared at her. "What?"
Lois pointed at the long metal bar perched behind the weight bench. "I'm going to do some bench presses. Help me."
Lois was doing bench presses now? When did she take up weightlifting? Jimmy obediently moved behind her head as she lay down on the flat bench. There was 30 pounds on either end, meaning she would be lifting a total of 60 pounds, plus the weight of the bar itself. Even Jimmy could lift this easily but he wondered about Lois.
"Are you sure?" he asked dubiously.
"Yes!" She glared up at him. "I just need you…to…"
Jimmy watched warily as she lifted the metal bar and held it against her chest. Gritting her teeth, she tremblingly forced it up, her arms shaking.
"Do you want me to count, too?" Jimmy asked helpfully.
Slowly, Lois lowered the bar back down, to her chest, breathing heavily through her mouth. Jimmy thought this might what she would look like if she ever were in childbirth.
"That's two! Very good!"
"Try for three?"
"Grab it! Grab it!"
Jimmy took the bar from Lois' shaking hands as she gulped in air. He replaced in easily on the rack as she dabbed her face with the gym towel. "Whew!" she exclaimed.
"So what's all this for?"
"This gym stuff," Jimmy said. "I mean, you look great and all," In fact Lois did look much more toner than usual, even though he thought she still appeared no more than 90 pounds soaking wet. "But why?"
"Haven't you heard?" Lois grabbed a Gatorade bottle from her bag, fumbled the cap off and took a swig. "There's a rumor that journalists will be allowed to visit Themyscira for the first time! Last year, the Amazons allowed in a couple of scholars, some military servicemembers, even a couple of actors - I think Geena Davis was the first to visit - and all women of course. Supposedly it was very well-received, so there might be another 'goodwill' group slated to travel. If a journalist is going to go this time, I'm going to be the one!"
Jimmy still didn't get it. "So...you're training to...do what?"
Lois looked exasperated with his obvious obtuseness. "The Amazons don't let just any people in, even any women. I checked out all the people they allowed during the first 'goodwill' tour. Since it is to show the outside world what their society is really like, the visitors get a chance to live like they do, live their lifestyle while they're in Themyscira. So all the applicants had to be in excellent physical shape, since they live in a pre-modern society, it's very tough, allegedly. They test you. Military women, now they're already in great condition. So I can hardly go there looking like a schlub. Tyresa thinks it's an awesome idea, she hooked me up with her personal trainer, a Krav Maga black belt. Next, I'm going to take a mixed martial arts class."
He was still puzzled. "You're training to be an Amazon?"
"Why not?" Lois flexed her skinny arms proudly for him to see. "Don't you think I could compete?"
Jimmy wondered if there was any health care plan in the world good enough to pay for all of Lois' hospitalization bills if she actually thought she could spar with an Amazon. On the other hand...the thought of his boss immobilized in a full-body cast and unable to throw papers at him from behind her desk or yell through the phone...sweet! But, no, that would be too evil, really. Still...
"Um, I think you may need to drink some more protein shakes," Jimmy suddenly remembered why he'd come in the first place. "Hey listen - I'm worried about Clark," he blurted out.
"What?" Lois lowered her arms. "Why?"
"Haven't you noticed, this whole…change in Clark?"
"You know I haven't been talking to him in awhile," Lois grumbled.
"You haven't noticed how withdrawn he's become? He hardly talks to us anymore, and-"
"Jimmy, he just lost his parents not that long ago. He needs time to process."
"Lois, this all started before that! He quit his job, and then - he got married. Married, Lois!"
"I know he did, Jimmy," Lois sighed. "That sometimes happens when people tie the knot, they drift away from their single friends." There was a twinge of regret in her voice. He could tell that she still missed him, despite their personal and professional differences.
"No, it's a hell of a lot more than that! Think about it Lois! Clark hardly ever even dated any girls, and all of a sudden he gets married? Aren't you even curious about who he married?"
Lois frowned, slightly. She had to admit that she was. "So what are you getting at?"
"The woman he married, this Diana person, have you ever met her?"
Lois shook her head.
"Well I have, remember? I met her twice. Once, just very briefly, before the Planet closed down. She was at the farewell party. She hardly spoke to anyone, just hung onto him. Then, Clark brought her back to our apartment one night so she could use the shower. That last time, she almost tore my head off!"
Jimmy remembered the incident quite clearly, although admittedly he had been pretty sloshed at the time. He'd really, honestly thought that it was Clark in the shower when he stumbled into the bathroom to make a 'No. 1'. All he'd done was to take a whiz, when he heard a voice from behind the curtain, asking for a towel. He'd almost had a heart attack right there! Then, although the sequence of events was still pretty hazy, he remembered the shower curtain being ripped away, the sensation of falling, and then staring up from the bottom of the bathtub at what had to be THE most gorgeous and perfect set of boobs he'd ever laid eyes on! That memory, at least, was still pretty vivid. He was sure they were all natural too, no silicone or foam or Fix-a-Flat or whatever it was that chicks injected into their body parts. No, C.K.'s wife really did have the most beautiful female body he'd ever seen! He was a lucky guy, in that sense.
Unfortunately, the head above this premium set of knockers resembled the Wrath of Medusa. Something loud and vile-sounding was pouring out of her mouth too, but Jimmy had no idea what language it was, but it sure as hell wasn't English. Then...everything had gone kind of black and quiet. The next thing he'd remembered, after a wicked hangover (and a suspicious lump on his head), was Clark carefully assuring him that Diana wasn't really that mad, that it was all a misunderstanding, and please Forget It Ever Happened. Something about his manner suggested to Jimmy that he had just narrowly avoided something fairly horrific at the hands of his girlfriend, who was now his wife.
Lois rolled her eyes. "Jimmy you walked in on her in the shower, I think I would have been pretty pissed off too."
"No, it's not just that. It's the way she bullies Clark around also."
Lois was surprised. "Bullies? How do you mean?"
Jimmy's voice dropped an octave. "Every time I've talked to Clark, it's like he's only able to talk when she's not around, or if she is, it's as if he doesn't want her to hear us…"
"Well, maybe it's just that she doesn't want him talking to you."
"…And the way he talks, like he's tired and beat up all the time. I talked to him only a week ago, and he looked like he was recovering from being hit by a Mack semi. He didn't actually have any bruises, not that I could see anyway, but Lois, he sounds like he's…well, like he's…"
She frowned. "Like what?"
Jimmy leaned in and whispered. "I think Clark's a battered husband, Lois!"
"Oh, get out of here Jimmy!"
"Damnit Lois, I'm serious!"
Lois stood up from the weight bench, prompting a passing woman to hover expectantly nearby, in hopes of using it. Lois grabbed her bag as if getting ready to go.
"Jimmy, Clark's a big guy, you know him! He's the last person you'd expect-"
"-To be a battered husband, yes, exactly Lois, I know he's the size of a football player, but it doesn't matter how big you are. You can still be a victim. Hell, you've done reports on this subject before!"
"Well, it happens to men too, and I think it's happening to Clark now! This Diana, you said yourself you don't know her, how can you be certain she's not treating Clark like shit? Wouldn't you care if he was?"
Lois hesitated, uncertain. "I can't believe Clark would let that happen," she replied slowly, not sounding convinced yet. "He's not stupid."
"Lois, it's not a matter of being too smart not to be victimized. It can happen to anyone. I researched it. You know Clark's kind of naive, and that he hardly has any experience with the ladies, especially with hot ones..."
Lois glared at him. "What are you saying?"
"That's not what I meant, I mean...you know what I mean! This Diana chick...how long do you think he knew her? Less than a year?"
Lois was silent for a moment. It did make some kind of sense, but Clark being in a situation like that...she didn't want to envision it! "You really think he's in that kind of trouble?"
"His parents passed away unexpectedly. Then he lost his job and then his family farm in Smallville. Remember the stress test Mr. White made us take years ago? That's a couple of high points right there. Then he gets married, and now we hardly see him. I think she's keeping him from talking to his old friends, cutting off ties. That could be a sign. And another thing...wait 'til you see this!"
Jimmy fumbled in his old satchel bag as Lois sat back down on the weight bench (the waiting gym rat stomped off in a huff, seeing Lois wasn't going anywhere). He pulled out a bunch of 8X10 photos and handed them to Lois.
"What are these?"
"Pictures from the last TED talk, in Gotham City. I have a colleague who takes photos of those events for a blog, sometimes he catches a celeb attending and sells them to me. Nothing in this batch, but take a look at this one."
Lois peered at the photo he picked out closely, noticing that Jimmy had already circled two people in a felt tip pen. "Who're they?"
"That guy there, his name is Bruce Wayne, supposed to be one of America's youngest billionaires. Has a reputation as a bit of a playboy. But look at who he's talking to!"
"Who, this woman?"
"That's her! Clark's wife!"
Standing next to the impeccably dressed dark-haired and handsome billionaire was an equally dark-haired, well-dressed young woman, wearing thin spectacles and a string of pearls around her neck. The two were standing next to each other, caught in a moment in time, having a conversation that seemed somewhat intense, a bit more than just a casual conversation between two people attending some technology convention. Not the look of just two people who had randomly met.
"Wow. She's pretty," Lois scowled, in spite of herself. What was she feeling? Jealousy? No, it couldn't be that...she really wasn't the least bit attracted to Clark, even though he was tall and built and kind of handsome in a country-bumpkin way, but she privately thought he had the sex appeal of a dishrag. However, the thought that he did have some sex appeal for somebody else...this puzzled her. There had to be something else to this...but what? Somehow, Clark Kent always made her feel like she was just missing something, a something that she felt that was just on the verge of figuring out what it was, but it always eluded her. It was frustrating as hell!
"So who the hell is she?"
"Well, her maiden name is Diana Prince, or Prince-Kent now, but other than her name, I have no idea who she is or what she does, but I don't think she's American," Jimmy scratched his head. "She could be European, maybe Greek."
"What's her connection with this Bruce Wayne?" Lois latent journalism curiosity was piqued. "Does she work for him?"
"I don't know. I did just a basic check of Wayne Enterprises employees but didn't see her name. I think Clark told me she worked at the UN, or for the UN, doing what I don't know. I never really talked to her. Clark doesn't talk about what she does, he hardly talks about her at all in that sense. But, whatever she does, why would she be interested in Clark? She doesn't look like his...um...I mean..."
"The type of woman who'd be interested in him," Lois handed the photo back to Jimmy. "I see what you mean. Our Smallville doesn't have the proverbial pot to piss in, but this Diana Prince character, whoever she is, who has connections with TED and billionaires, snatches him up, out of the blue," she frowned, and looked at Jimmy sharply. "Where is he now?"
"He said he was moving overseas to live with his wife's family for awhile, since he lost the farm and gave up the apartment here in Metropolis."
"Where overseas, Jimmy?"
"Uh, I'm not sure. Greece, I think. Maybe Diana's from there, originally," he looked glumly at Lois. "I guess I should have tried to find out more."
"Yeah, maybe we should," Lois stood up again, her eyes narrowing. Jimmy recognized that look: it was her old investigative reporter look, and not the one she now used for scoping out celebrity scandal. "You and I are going to get to the bottom of this. Tomorrow I'm flying out to LA, but I'm going to find out exactly who this Diana Prince is."
Jimmy nodded, relieved. "Where should we start?"
Lois nodded at the photo in his hand. "Well, let's try this Bruce Wayne guy. Maybe she really works for him. Let's see if we can squeeze him a little."
"I'm going to a concert tonight, but I'll meet you out in LA, and we'll share notes."
"Oh yeah, that N-show. I can't pronounce that guy's name, but supposedly he's good. Let me know how it goes, maybe get a few pics."
Lois felt like she had a new purpose. "I know I haven't talked to Clark in awhile, but he's like my kid brother. If someone's giving him grief, I'm going to give it back. If she really is abusing him, she'll wish she'd never been born!" Lois and Jimmy clenched hands, and he nodded, grinning.
"We're on it!"
Thanks for reading! And again, reviews are always nice! A little humor here (not that battered spouses of either gender are funny usually, but Lois and Jimmy's misunderstanding maybe ;), next chapter will be some horror.