Clark and Jimmy
Disclaimer: These characters belong to the CW and DC Comics, not to me.
Photo from Last Beautiful Girl.
The door to the Talon apartment creaked open, and Clark Kent came strolling in like he owned the place. He always did that, and it invariably ticked Jimmy Olsen off. Of course, Jimmy had to admit that his girlfriend Chloe Sullivan did the exact same thing at CK's house, just walking in like she'd never heard of the concept of knocking. That annoyed Jimmy, too.
He thought glumly that maybe what ticked him off most was the idea that CK and Chloe were such close friends they didn't have any personal boundaries between them.
CK spotted him, sitting alone on the sofa, and came to an abrupt halt. "Uh, hi, Jimmy," he said, looking really uncomfortable all of a sudden. Neither of them liked the other much, despite the fact that they interacted quite a bit, thanks to Chloe. "Is Chloe around?"
Jimmy frowned at him. "She just left for a few minutes to get us some takeout. And we're on a date, anyway. You're not going to swoop in and drag her off on whatever it is you two do. Not tonight. She needs some fun."
Clark looked embarrassed. "I wasn't going to drag her anywhere. I just wanted to talk."
Jimmy glared at him. Keep those big paws off my girlfriend, CK. "Go find someone else to talk to," he said shortly.
He bent his head and went back to what he'd been doing when the door opened, poring over a scrapbook of articles he'd collected. Clark hesitated, then took a step closer.
"What are you reading, Jimmy?"
What, are you still here? Jimmy lifted his head and glared at the other guy.
"I'm looking through these articles I've collected," he answered, trying to keep his tone civil. "There's this guy who does all these rescues and things in the area. Metropolis and its suburbs, I mean. I read through this stuff every so often to try to see if there are any clues about who he is."
"Rescues?" Clark tilted his head, looking interested. "What kind of rescues?"
"Pulling babies out of burning houses, saving people's cars from running off the road, stopping robberies in progress. That kind of thing."
CK took another step closer. "That's a pretty big scrapbook."
"The guy's been doing this stuff for a long time. I started collecting articles last year, when I came to Metropolis, but when I went back through the Planet archives, I found a lot more. Whoever he is, he's been doing this for years."
"Does it say who he is?"
"No. No one has a clue. Almost no one's ever really seen him."
Clark frowned, his dark eyebrows drawing down. "Then why do you think it's always the same guy? For that matter, why do you think it's a guy at all?"
"A couple of people have gotten a glimpse of him, and claim it's a dark-haired man. Otherwise, it's always the same story from witnesses-- the people in danger are saved by this streak that comes out of nowhere, and disappears without a trace a second or two later. The police laugh their stories off, but it's happened too many times for me to believe all these witnesses are crazy."
"What exactly do you think this streak is?"
Jimmy studied one of his articles. "I think it's obvious we have a meteor freak here," he said at last. "But one that didn't go crazy. I figure the guy is superfast, and maybe superstrong. But Chloe and I have been over and over her records, and we can't find any meteor freak who'd fit the profile."
CK's eyebrows shot up. "You've been working with Chloe on this?"
Jimmy lifted his head and glared, as dangerously as he was able. "She's my girlfriend, CK. We work on everything together."
"Yeah," Clark said, very meekly. "I can understand that."
Slightly appeased by the meekness, Jimmy gave a self-deprecating shrug. "The truth is, she laughed at me at first. Said I just wanted my own Wall of Weird. But when she figured out I wasn't going to quit looking into it, she started helping me. She gave me access to all her files on meteor freaks. But we still haven't been able to make any sort of guess as to who this guy is. We call him Superman."
CK's eyebrows shot up so far they looked like they were in danger of flying off his head. "Superman?"
"Well, I think Chloe came up with that name," Jimmy admitted. "Whoever he is, he isn't like you and me, CK. He's got some really amazing powers, and he uses them to do a lot of good things."
"People can do good things without powers," CK said.
"Not like this." Jimmy lifted the scrapbook, feeling the familiar tug of mingled envy and hero worship. The guy who'd done the things written about in these articles was one seriously amazing dude, practically a god, and Jimmy hoped he could meet the guy someday, just so he could shake his hand.
"This guy... well, he's super, CK. He doesn't just have the freakish powers. He uses them." He paused, trying to explain exactly why he thought this guy, whoever he was, was so awesome. "I mean, if you could run so fast no one could see you, and if you were strong enough to pick up a car, would you use your powers to save people? Or would you go rob banks or something?"
He thought he saw CK wince, very slightly. "I like to think I'd help people," he answered.
"Yeah. Me too. But you know that old saying about absolute power, right? If you and I got this kind of power, I bet we'd use it for ourselves, more than for other people."
"You could be right," Clark admitted.
"Of course I'm right. It takes a really amazing person not to misuse these kinds of abilities." Jimmy took one last look at the scrapbook, then closed it, very carefully, and looked back up at CK.
There was an odd look on CK's face, a look of loneliness, almost of isolation, and Jimmy couldn't help but feel sorry for the guy. When he'd first met Clark Kent, he'd been crazy jealous, because the other man was huge, muscled, and movie-star handsome.
But he'd slowly begun to realize that CK had a pretty sad life, really. His whole existence was centered around keeping his parents' farm running, and he couldn't even scrape together enough dough to pay for college right now, or find the spare hours for a part-time job. He had a gorgeous girlfriend, but their on-again, off-again relationship was so full of drama that it hurt just to watch it. Right now, they were broken up again, so Clark didn't have anyone to talk to at the farm.
Basically, the only good thing CK had in his life was his friendship with Chloe. And that was the only reason Jimmy was able to tolerate their closeness, because without Chloe, Clark wouldn't have anything at all.
He thought about the mystery guy Chloe had dubbed Superman, a guy who helped people out all the time, just because he was decent and good and cared about everyone. He had the sudden odd thought that Superman wouldn't want him to send poor CK back to his pathetic, empty life when the guy was obviously really lonely, and desperate for some company.
"Hey, CK," he said. "You want to stick around for dinner?"
Clark looked startled, and his eyebrows did the flying thing again. "Uh, thanks, Jimmy, but I don't want to horn in on your date..."
"Don't worry about it, dude. It's not like Chinese takeout is romantic or anything. And Chloe always orders enough for six people. So sit down and hang with us for a while."
Clark stared at him for a long moment, his eyes saying clearly, Who are you and what have you done with Jimmy Olsen? But at last he shrugged a little, and settled into one of the chairs, which creaked under his weight.
"Thanks," he said simply.
An awkward silence fell. At last Clark reached out and lifted the scrapbook, paging through it idly. "I can't believe Chloe didn't tell me about this," he said, very softly.
"Chloe doesn't tell you everything, CK. The two of us have secrets, too."
"Yeah." CK put the scrapbook down, frowning a little. "I guess you do, at that."
The truth was that Jimmy had never realized Chloe had shared anything, however minor, with him that she hadn't shared with Clark. The idea made his chest swell. He knew Clark had been part of her life for a long, long time, and it was obvious the two of them shared everything but a toothbrush. But for the first time, he realized he and Chloe had secrets she wasn't sharing with Clark.
And that seemed to put him and Clark on a more even footing somehow.
"Maybe she didn't tell you because she thought it might bug you," he suggested. "I mean, whoever this guy is, he's like totally together..."
"And I'm not?"
Jimmy suddenly realized he'd blundered. He opened his mouth to backpedal, but Clark waved a hand in a don't-worry-about-it gesture.
"I know I'm not the most successful person in the world," he said, and once again he sounded uncharacteristically meek, almost humble. "I mean, I'm just a farmer. You and Chloe are going places, but me, well..."
Jimmy shrugged, embarrassed. "Well, anybody would feel inferior next to this guy. I figure Chloe knew you were going through a bad patch, and she just didn't want you to start thinking that way. You know?"
CK nodded solemnly. "You're probably right."
He put the scrapbook down on the coffee table, and once again Jimmy was struck by the look in his eyes, a look of sorrow, of isolation. A look of alienation. He'd never before realized how lonely CK must get, spending most of his time out at that farm in the sticks.
A sympathy he didn't want to feel rose up inside him, and he reached for the remote. "You like basketball, don't you, CK?"
The eyebrows took off again, as if Clark were startled by his efforts to be friendly. "Yeah."
"Cool. I think the Vipers are playing." Jimmy switched the TV on, and sure enough, the Metropolis team's distinctive red and blue jerseys appeared on the screen. He tossed the remote onto the coffee table with a clatter and leaned back on the sofa, grinning. "Chloe's going to have a fit when she gets back. She hates basketball."
Clark hesitated, just a second, then grinned back at him. "Let her have a fit."
"Women just don't appreciate this stuff, you know?"
"Oh, yeah. Believe me." Clark rolled his eyes. "I know."
Before long, the two of them were alternately cheering loudly and yelling insults at the screen. Jimmy reflected that it was fun to watch basketball with someone who appreciated it, instead of someone who was constantly nagging you to turn it off.
He hadn't made any close guy friends since coming to Metropolis, and he was startled to realize how much he'd missed cussing and yelling at the TV with another guy. Chloe was a great girl, but like a lot of women, she just didn't appreciate sports. And when she got back, she was going to gripe at them to turn it off. But Jimmy had no intention of doing that. He was having way too much fun.
The last thing he'd expected to spend his Friday night doing was watching the Vipers with Clark Kent, of all people. CK might not have his life together, and he might be closer to Chloe than Jimmy was really comfortable with. But despite all that, the surprising truth was that CK really wasn't all that bad.
In fact, Jimmy kind of liked the guy.