I saw Man of Steel a couple of months ago and came up with this little story right before Christmas. I hope to finish it over Christmas vacation, so I thought that publishing it on would give me some extra motivation to finish it before I get back to work!
Just a couple of notes. 1) I obviously do not own Superman or Lois Lane. 2) This is Man of Steel universe so I'm envisioning Henry Cavill and Amy Adams in their respective roles. 3) I haven't read any of the comic books though, so I just made up most of Lois' family history in future chapters. 4) In case anyone wonders, the reason I didn't make Lex Luthor the villain in this story is because I figure he'll be the villain in Man of Steel 2, and that would take place before Claire was born.
Hope y'all enjoy this first chapter...more to come, hopefully I'll post a new chapter every day or so :)
The girls of Grand Park Academy were a fresh-faced, fun-loving, wholesome bunch, and twelve-year-old Claire Kent was the undisputed leader of their pack. She held court in the cafeteria one chilly November afternoon, bent over a legal pad and making notes with all the concentration of a benevolent ruler completely and blissfully unaware of her own power and authority.
"Okay, so we're still planning on donating to the Salvation Army canteen," she said, checking off a box.
"Of course!" Kellie Peterson said, eating the last of her sugar cookie with great tidiness. "We always do-and the people there are so nice. They're always glad to have whatever we can give them."
"Our family bought a whole bunch of new coats this year," Ellen Lowry said. "My mom says I can give our old ones away."
"And remember, if you don't have any extra clothes they can always use food," Claire said.
"You must have a lot of hand-me-downs this year," Tasha Clarkson giggled. "You've sprouted up like a weed."
Claire blushed. "Yeah, but they still aren't enough to fill a garbage bag. Dahlia, you probably don't have many this year either."
Dahlia shook her ginger-red head. "No, I pass most of my clothes down to my little sisters."
"Then just bring canned food," Claire said encouragingly. "Miss Susan at the canteen says that's just as good and plenty useful."
She glanced up and saw the school shuttle park beside the front door. It was the sign that the end of the meeting had come and all the girls grabbed their backpacks accordingly, chattering as they filed out of the building and into the small bus.
Claire and Kellie sat together, their custom ever since they were in the first grade room seven years ago. They couldn't have made a stranger pair, physically speaking. Claire was tall and pretty, with big blue eyes and tight brown curls spiraling to her shoulders. Kellie was shorter, plumper, with straight golden hair and a heavy dusting of freckles across her face.
"Congratulations on your win," Kellie whispered, squeezing Claire's hand.
Claire smiled broadly, revealing deep dimples in her rosy cheeks. "Thanks."
"Sorry I couldn't tell you before now. I knew you wanted to keep it a secret and Tasha came up to us just as I was gonna ask you about it."
Claire giggled, bouncing a little in her seat. She was usually very dignified for her age, but today dignity was sacrificed for glee. "Well, thanks again. I can't wait to tell my mom."
"I'll bet!" Kellie whispered, glancing around to make sure no one was eavesdropping.
"Where are you going for Thanksgiving?" Claire asked as the shuttle moved out of the school parking lot.
"My grandma's, up in Schenectady. My aunt and uncle and cousins are coming too. What about you?"
Claire wrinkled her nose. "My grandmother's, here in Metropolis. I'm not looking forward to it."
Kellie frowned. "I thought you were going to Kansas."
"That's for Christmas."
"Well, what's wrong with your grandmother here?"
Claire leaned her head back. "It's bo-ring. And Grandmother isn't exactly what you'd call a 'kindred spirit.' Thanksgiving is a big party for her, it's not just us visiting for a cozy family get-together. Her house looks like it came out of a Martha Stewart catalog and her food looks like it came out of a Martha Stewart catalog-"
Kellie giggled. "What does that look like?"
"Fake," Claire said with a smile, glad to be amusing her friend. "Piddly little spinach salads with the dressing drizzled all over the plate but not the food-"
Kellie giggled harder.
"And bread stuffing instead of cornbread dressing-"
"Grandma-the one in Kansas-that's what she makes," Claire explained. "It's so much better. I mean, they're both good, but Grandmother's maid, Louise, puts these big hunks of celery in the stuffing and hardly cooks them. You should see my dad when he bites down on it. His nose gets this really small wrinkle in it like this."
She made the slightest of grimaces that still conveyed such a sourness, Kellie almost doubled over.
"But there are a few good things about Thanksgiving at Grandmother's," Claire said, serious again. "For one thing, she always gives me money. And she has a piano that she lets me play. But we don't have to spend the night, which is fine because her guest bedroom is so cold-and I have to share a bed with Mom and Dad."
"Gross," Kellie said, screwing up her face.
"Not gross, just uncomfortable. And Mom says I kick around in my sleep."
Kellie sighed. "If I were you I'd just go to Kansas."
"So would I, but Grandmother would be mad at Mom if we didn't alternate between her and Grandma," Claire muttered. "Mom doesn't like it anymore than I do but she says 'we have to keep the peace.' "
Kellie, who had no such complicated family dynamics, could only offer her sympathy.
Because of the shuttle route, Claire was one of the first to be dropped off-not at home, but at her parents' work. Waving to Kellie and wishing her a happy Thanksgiving, Claire tumbled out of the bus, shouldering her backpack, and ran up to the front door of the skyscraper that housed the biggest newspaper firm in the city.
The receptionist in the lobby looked up when she came in. "Hello, Claire!"
"Hello, Miss Evans!" Claire said happily, veering towards the front desk. "Is my mom here or is she on an assignment?"
"Nope, she's here," Miss Evans said. "You know the way."
"Thanks," Claire said, hurrying on. With a confidence that most adults found endearing and welcoming, she strode into an elevator with several other individuals, all of them wearing name tags that indicated they worked here, either as journalists, interns, secretaries, or simple office help. She recognized Mr. Lombard and immediately grinned at him.
"Hey, Scarecrow," he teased, giving one of her curls a playful tug. "How many inches did you grow overnight?"
"I didn't," Claire retorted. "I'm still five feet, four inches."
"Take care or you will be taller than your mother," Miss Win, a small Asian-American woman, commented dryly.
"Oh, she'll be taller if she keeps growing at this rate," Mr. Lombard said, crossing his arms over her chest. "And poor Lois will have short-girl-complex."
Claire giggled. The elevator opened and she sprinted out. The bull-pen lay before her in all its busy glory, full of journalists taking calls and jotting down notes or writing diligently in their roomy cubicles.
"Mom!" she cried, rushing into her mother's cubicle. "Mom, guess what?"
Mom was typing, her cornflower-blue eyes fastened hard on the computer screen. "Hang on just a sec, honey."
Claire set her knapsack down in one corner of the cubicle and leaned against the wall, waiting patiently. Finally Mom clicked "enter," pushed her chair back, and fixed her eyes on Claire, smiling and tossing a ginger strand from her forehead.
"I guess . . . you won the story contest," she said.
Claire's mouth dropped open. "How did you know?"
Mom smiled knowingly. "Because there's only one possible reason why you'd rush into here like a whirlwind when you're usually pretty subdued. Congratulations!"
Claire threw herself forward and hugged her mother. "I couldn't wait to tell you. I didn't even tell anyone at school except for Kellie-I didn't want to sound like I was bragging."
"How did you find out?"
"I checked my email at lunch." Claire had been given Dad's old iPhone for her birthday back in August and had made good use of it in the past three months. "You know I've been half-dead for news and I just couldn't help myself. Honest, I don't play on the phone at school, ever."
"I believe you. Let me read the email."
Claire dove into her backpack and produced the email. Mom scanned it, a pleased look on her face.
"A hundred dollars is a mighty big prize for a young lady of twelve. What are you going to do with it?"
"It's going into my favorite charity," Claire said with a high lift of one dark, perfectly-formed eyebrow. "My laptop fund."
Mom laughed at that. "Sounds good to me. Look, I'll be able to leave here early, about five o'clock, so put an extra effort into getting most of your homework done."
"Yes ma'am," Claire said emphatically. "I don't want to take a lot of it home to work on if I can absolutely help it."
Mom went back to her work while Claire sat cross-legged on the floor; she pulled out her books and dove head-first into arithmetic, science, and history. Thankfully her teacher had been merciful, giving light assignments to girls heading into a week's blissful vacation.
Mr. White walked past, peered into the cubicle, saw Claire bent over her work. "Afternoon, Claire."
She looked up, smiled at the tall black man with the frosted hair. "Hey, Mr. White."
"Perry," Mom said, whirling from her computer, "you're talking to a twelve-year-old who just won the Concordian Review's short story contest. I think a little congratulations are due from my editor."
Mr. White grinned. "Congratulations for you or for Claire? No, I'm just kidding. That's fabulous, Claire. You gonna let me read your piece sometime?"
Claire blushed hotly and lowered her eyes to her work. "Maybe. If you promise to be nice to it. It's kinda my baby."
"Every writer's work is a baby," Mr. White said with good-humored contempt. "It's my job to make that baby grow up."
"Don't spoil it for her, Perry," Mom pretended to scold. "Leave this one untouched and you can hack the rest of her work to death. She'll have to learn the sting of your red pen at some point."
But Mom glanced over her shoulder and winked at Claire, letting Claire know that she was most definitely teasing.