by Starsky Hutch 76
Lois Lane’s heart leapt into her throat. If Laurie Lemonelli died because of her, she would never forgive herself. A scream escaped involuntarily as the girl suddenly let go of the railing and dropped from the overpass. Lois hit the gas and raced forward, not that it would do any more than give her a closer perspective of the girl’s death.
Before she had time to move more than a couple of feet forward, a familiar blue and red streak dropped from the sky. “Oh, thank God!” Lois exclaimed. She pulled over to the side of the road at the spot where they seemed to be headed and jumped out of the car. What she saw next was almost as big a shock.
Laurie had indeed been rescued by a flying figure in blue and red, who flew back up to the bridge and carefully placed the girl back onto solid ground. But while the figure’s costume was familiar, the wearer was not. He was a boy no older than Laurie herself.
At first she thought he must be the same Superboy with whom everyone was familiar: Superman when he was a boy. It wouldn’t be the first time he had traveled through time to the present. After all, if Superman was traveling through time and was somewhere or somewhen else at the moment, it was possible for Superboy to be in the present, and that had happened a few times in the past.
However, upon closer examination, she could tell that it was not Superman as a boy, even if there was a resemblance. Yet, somehow, she felt as if she should know him.
The second thing she noticed was that he was visibly upset. He was staring at Laurie with a horrified expression.
“You… you did that on purpose!” the strange Superboy said. “You just let yourself fall from there! Why would you do that?!”
“Don’t look at me like that!” the girl said, crying.
“Why…? Why would you want to… to kill yourself?” he repeated, aghast.
“I thought I did,” the girl said. “Then I was about to chicken out, but I fell.”
“You shouldn’t have been up there,” he said. “No matter how bad you think things are, you can’t just run from your problems. They just end up following you.” There was something about his tone, Lois noted, that made her wonder if he was referring to more than just Laurie.
“You don’t understand,” Laurie said. “How could you? How could anyone?”
“I know you feel like you’re totally alone in this,” Lois said. “But you’re not.”
“You’re here for me?” Laurie scoffed. “If you hadn’t shown up, I wouldn’t be in this fix! And I’d still have my father.”
The pretty, blonde-haired girl hugged herself as her voice began to crack with emotion. “I know he wasn’t a very good dad… but he was the only one I had.”
“Laurie, the FBI was already investigating your father. They would have gotten to him sooner or later, whether I had shown up or not. And eventually, you might have gotten sucked into his world, just like his father sucked in both him and most of his siblings.”
“Not all of them,” Laurie sniffed. “My Aunt Marissa got out. I miss her. She used to look after me after my mom died. I wish she were here now.”
“She misses you, too,” Lois said.
“She does?” Laurie said, her red-rimmed eyes growing wide. “How do you know?”
“When I was researching your family, I found out about her. And then, when I found out about you and your situation, I tracked her down. See? Having a reporter on your tail isn’t all bad.”
“Guess not,” Laurie said.
“She wants you to come stay with her,” Lois added.
“Oh, that would be great,” Laurie said with a voice that, while still shaky, had a hint of hope entering into it. “I’d love to! Can you take me to her?”
“Well… it’s pretty far away, perhaps too far to get there by tonight. I’ve already driven far out of the city in the opposite direction looking for you.” She gestured toward the costumed figure. “Our friend Superboy could probably get us there quicker, though.”
“I… I could?” said the new Superboy.
“Well, you are the super-hero here, aren’t you?” Lois said.
“I-I guess so,” Superboy said, brightening.
At first, the prospect of lifting Lois Lane’s car with her and Laurie in it had frightened Kent Shakespeare. He was afraid he would damage her car or, worse, drop them. When Lois described how Superman had done the same thing countless times, he knew he had to try, especially if it meant helping Laurie. She was so pretty. A part of him wished he had met her under better circumstances. He realized he had never thought about a girl that way before.
Surprisingly, it became easier once they were airborne. Somehow, once he was flying and had the car lifted overhead, he was able to level out in a way that felt natural.
He spotted the sign Lois had told him to keep an eye out for, and began to move in that direction. With his telescopic vision, he then spotted a mailbox with the address, and he turned in the direction of the house to which it belonged.
The three of them rang the doorbell, and then Lois and Kent were witness to a tear-filled reunion as Laurie was brought together once more with her beloved aunt, Marissa Lemonelli, or Marissa Lemmon, as the dark-haired brunette was now known. Laurie mulled over the shortened version and decided she would adopt it as well, since she was making a fresh start.
Lois would be able to breathe a lot easier knowing the girl was safe and sound, and that a tragedy hadn’t occurred that day in the course of her pursuit of a story. If such a thing had happened, she didn’t know how she would have lived with herself. Lois was still a bit young to consider retiring, but old enough to not want to have to change careers. Yet there was no way she could have gone on as a reporter if Laurie had died.
As much as this meant to her, she had a hard time taking her eyes off the boy throughout the whole episode. She couldn’t get over the strange feelings of familiarity he brought out. And it wasn’t just that he was wearing a Superboy costume. From certain angles, he reminded her of her cousin Louis when he had been a boy, as if that made any sense.
As they walked outside, Lois turned back and looked at Superboy. He was staring skyward with an unsure expression, as if he were debating whether he should take off or not. He might have been able to level mountains with his bare hands, but t that moment, he looked like any other confused kid.
“I suppose you’ll fly home now?” Lois asked him.
“I… I dunno,” he mumbled.
“You do have a home, don’t you? Parents?” she asked.
The boy looked down at his feet. “Yeah, I’ve got parents,” he said.
Lois had once encountered a Superman Jr., but he had been a creation of the computer at the Fortress of Solitude. Something about that Superboy had never seemed quite real. The big giveaway had been when he couldn’t remember his own mother’s name or face, because the computer simulation had never named her. (*) This boy was all too real. And from his tone, not only did he know who his parents were, but they were weighing heavily on his mind.
[(*) Editor’s note: See “Final Secret of the Super-Sons,” World’s Finest Comics #263 (June-July, 1980).]
“Why don’t you ride with me?” Lois suggested, opening her passenger seat car door.
“I don’t need a ride,” said Superboy. “I can fly.”
“I know you can,” Lois said. “But you look like you could use someone to talk to.”
Kent looked at the open door with a pensive expression and then said, “Okay, but I live really far away.”
“I’m sure you’ll be able to help with that again, now that you’ve had some practice,” she replied with a smile.
Lois pulled out of Marissa Lemmon’s neighborhood and onto the highway. Both their gazes drifted to a billboard similar to the one they had seen coming in. This one said, You Are Now Leaving Midvale, Home of Supergirl, with a picture of the costume the original Supergirl had worn as a teenager.
“Are you another cousin of Superman’s?” Lois asked him.
“No, I… I’m related, but… it’s kind of complicated.”
“How can it be complicated?” Lois asked. “You’re either a relative or you’re not.”
“My dad… my biological dad… was Bizarro. Then something happened to turn me human. So I guess… genetically, at least, that would make Superman my dad.”
“And your mother?”
“That would be you.”
Lois turned to look at him in shock. There was a sudden blare of a truck horn, and she realized that she had veered into the other lane when she’d taken her eyes off the road. She gave the steering wheel a hard jerk and pulled off to the side of the road.
She stared ahead, both hands gripping the steering wheel tightly. Her chest heaved up and down as she breathed heavily, trying to get her heart rate back to normal after the shock of his revelation and then nearly being creamed by a semi.
“Are you okay?” she heard the boy say from the passenger seat.
She turned and looked at him, wide-eyed and still breathing heavily. No wonder he seemed so familiar to her. He was the very picture of the son she might have had if she and Superman had stayed together.
A wave of emotion came over her, and she grabbed the boy and hugged him to her. In her younger days she had often dreamed of marrying Superman and having a family together. Breaking it off with him had been hard, and she frequently had to remind herself that it was she who had broken up with him. Now, the living embodiment of those old dreams was here before her.
“Hey, it’s okay,” Kent said softly, hugging her back as he looked out the back window at the semi fading into the distance. “It’s gone now. We’re okay. Everything’s gonna be okay.”
Learning that he lived on the other side of the country, Lois had the new Superboy fly the car to Oregon, but far enough from his home that they were able to spend the next hour talking as she drove through the Cascade Mountains. During that time, she shared several of her own stories of fights with her parents that she had while growing up. He had been fascinated to learn that her own parents had been less than thrilled by her desire to be an investigative journalist, because she might put herself in the path of danger. She also confirmed her suspicion that the young Superboy had been watching her from afar all evening, which was only natural since she so resembled his late mother, Bizarro-Lois Lane No. 1. After all, how else could the boy have been there at the right time and place to save Laurie’s life?
After a call to John and Mary Shakespeare to let them know Kent was all right, Lois met them at a meeting place they had arranged. A part of her wished she could keep him. He had already lost one set of parents, though. She wouldn’t want to take him from another, even if she was his mother, at least genetically speaking.
Lois knew she had made the right decision when she saw the tears of relief on Mary Shakespeare’s face as she threw her arms around her adopted son. She didn’t think it would be possible to count how many times the words “Thank you” came out of John Shakespeare’s mouth.
She didn’t let on to the Shakespeares that she knew the truth about Kent’s parentage. From what Kent had said, that was something that Superman had been reluctant to reveal even to them, though he had eventually decided they deserved to know the truth. Kent said his adoptive father John used to worry that Superman would decide he wanted to raise Kent, so she didn’t want to give the couple a new take on an old fear. (*)
[(*) Editor’s note: See Superman: Revelations.]
After shaking hands with the grateful parents, Lois Lane said her goodbyes and returned to her car. Superboy then flew her back to the East Coast, finally setting her car down on the outskirts of Metropolis. After getting one last hug from Kent, she watched as the young Superboy flew back toward home before she let the tears come.
After much discussion, John and Mary Shakespeare found themselves relenting on many topics. First and foremost was Kent’s new career as Superboy. Lois Lane had told them about how he had saved that girl’s life. They couldn’t help but be proud of him for that. He had the ability to help people. More than that, he wanted to help people. How could they not encourage that?
That was how the Shakespeares came to be sitting in front of a large map of the country, their dog Sassy lying at their feet. After confronting the big elephant in the room, it was easier to relent on the other things, like home-schooling versus public school. It was decided that they should leave their remote location in the mountains for a normal neighborhood environment, even though that might present other complications with their brood of super-powered dogs. Their pet Krypto the Super-Dog was currently romping through space with his and Sassy’s offspring as they often did, but whenever they were at home they were used to freely flying around the homestead; the six young dogs newly grown out of the puppy stage would have to learn how to act like normal pets while at home, and Krypto would have to help teach them.
“This should make my agent happy,” John laughed. “She’s been after me to move somewhere that doesn’t take a private plane, helicopter, and a rental car to reach. Where to move, though? I can FidEx the latest Doone County strip from pretty much anywhere.”
“I don’t really care to live in a big city,” Mary said. “I was happy when we left all that behind.”
“A small town would be good. But not too small, and not too remote,” John said.
“As long as they’ve got a mall,” Mary laughed. “I’ve really missed that!”
Kent thought of Laurie… of her blonde hair and blue eyes… of the way her face lit up when she finally smiled. He pointed to a spot on the map on the other side of the country and said, “How about Midvale?”
With a flash, the globe that had been hovering over Bizarro-Kltpzyxm’s hands disappeared. “See? He am doing terrible!”
The expression on Bizarro No. 1’s face said that he was one very conflicted Bizarro. “He am sad,” Bizarro No. 1 said.
Several emotions crossed Bizarro No. 1’s face: concern, relief, anguish, longing. His son was alive, healthy, and happy. He missed him so much. He wanted to see him again, to be a part of his life. He wanted it more than he had ever wanted anything else before. So he did the only thing his Bizarro logic would allow him to do. He soared upward, rocketing through the roof of the Fortress of Solitude and into space, flying in the direction that would lead him back to the Bizarro World.