by Starsky Hutch 76
Ron Troupe fidgeted nervously in the seat across the desk from Perry White. He waited anxiously for the older man to say something. Finally, he spoke up. “I want you to understand something, Mr. Troupe,” Perry said. “This isn’t the sort of story we normally go in for here at the Planet. We don’t care about who’s seeing who or who’s having whose illegitimate child. We’re a serious newspaper here. We do serious journalism. Heck, we don’t even have a gossip column with Lola Barnett anymore, now that we’ve distanced ourselves from WGBS.”
“I understand that, Mr. White!” Ron exclaimed. “I–”
Perry held up his hand. “Hold on, son. You followed the story through. You confirmed your sources and went with the facts. You turned what could have been typical pandering and rumor-mongering into a real exclusive. That’s not something I think anyone at that rag you’ve been working for is capable of. You don’t belong there. You belong here.” He stood up and held out a hand to Ron. “Congratulations, and welcome to the Daily Planet.”
“Thank you, sir!” Ron said, jumping up to shake Perry’s hand enthusiastically. “It’s an honor. To tell the truth, I owe a lot to Jimmy–”
“Jimmy’s a good kid,” Perry said, walking around his desk. “He reminds me a lot of myself at his age. And if you ever tell him I said that, I’ll have to kill you.” He clapped a friendly hand on Ron’s shoulder and said, “Don’t sell yourself short, though. He may have gotten your foot in the door here, but it was your story — your work — that made it all happen.” He opened his office door and said, “Let me show you around.”
Jimmy watched as Ron was led out of Perry’s office, and he was relieved to see that he was smiling. The story hadn’t been the sensation Ron had originally intended, but at least it had gotten him in, so everyone was happy. He also couldn’t help but be happy about not being the youngster on the block anymore, especially since he was already in his early thirties.
His gaze drifted over to Lois Lane. From the look on her face, she’d obviously seen Ron’s story. “How are you doing?” he asked.
“I’m not crushed, if that’s what you mean,” she sighed, looking up. “I’ve moved on… dated. I had to know he would, too. I just…”
“You hoped you’d find someone before he did,” Jimmy said, walking over to her desk. In front of her sat the mockup of the next day’s edition. On the front page, beneath the main story, was Ron’s interview with Superman and the revelation that he and Superwoman were seeing each other, which he’d gotten in exchange for keeping Kent’s secret.
“Does that make me a bad person?” Lois said wistfully.
“No, of course not,” Jimmy said. “It’s perfectly understandable. It’s hard to see someone you had so much history with moving on with their life.”
“Yeah,” she said. “It really is. I’d thought I’d put it all behind me. Seeing this dredged some of it back up.” She looked up at Jimmy and said, “I’ve got to get out of here. Take a girl to dinner?”
“I’d be honored,” he said, smiling. “My treat, this time.”
“Well, aren’t you chivalrous?” Lois said. “I’ll get my coat.”
As the two reporters headed for the elevator, the doors to the opposite one opened, and Clark Kent, Kristin Wells, and Jasma were about to exit. “Hey, Jimmy, Lois!” Clark said, holding the door.
“Hey, Clark! We’re on our way to McGinty’s for dinner and drinks. If you’re looking for Perry, he’s showing Ron around,” Jimmy said, casting Clark a knowing look.
Clark cast Jasma a sideways glance. It wouldn’t do to have Ron see her; even with the black-haired wig, she still resembled the girl he’d met recently a little too much. “No… um… I’ll catch him later. I’m kind of hungry, so I’ll head on up to the cafeteria. Aren’t you hungry, Kristin?”
“Oh, yeah, real hungry,” Kristin agreed. “You know how I get when my blood sugar gets too low.”
The elevator doors shut, and Lois laughed, “It’s so nice that Clark could find someone as flaky as him.”
“Yeah,” Jimmy laughed. “I guess it’s true what they say. There’s someone for everyone.” He slapped himself internally and looked over at Lois.
Instead of acting hurt, she wrapped her arms around one of his and rested her head on his shoulder. “I really appreciate this, Jimmy… taking me out so I won’t feel bad. It’s obvious what Lucy always saw in you.”
“That’s what friends are for,” Jimmy said, taking his other hand and placing it on hers.
“And you’re a good one,” Lois said with a smile.
“And so are you,” Jimmy said. The two of them stepped off the elevator and into the night air arm in arm. Jimmy hailed a cab, and they were on their way.