A Daily Planet Christmas (2018)
Roleplaying Log: A Daily Planet Christmas (2018)
Participants
IC Details
Synopsis:
Other Characters Referenced:
IC Date: January 31, 2019
IC Location: Daily Planet
OOC Notes & Details
Posted On: 31 Jan 2019 23:06
Rating & Warnings:
NPC & GM Credits:
Associated Plots

Clark Kent.

Mr. Kent has never been one to enjoy a high-pressure situation. In a stuffy room filled with tense people rushing about he tends to be in the way. Tripping over people. Into people. Spilling coffee on fresh copy. As print media began to fail and the Planet began to consolidate the space needed to operate its print section with opportunities to engage in ‘Alternate Work Space’ a petition quickly circulated due to a very understandable fear that Mr. Smallville – rooted in tradition – would be the last to volunteer to give up his cubicle.

Perry White had no fewer than three meetings with Kent. The first a very diplomatic session where the situation was framed as something that Clark would probably enjoy.

To which he responded, “Golly, Chief, I really enjoy my routine. Coming to work every day gives me purpose.”

The second was more direct. A cost-saving endeavor. They had a quota to meet. Clark had always been a team player.

To which he responded, “Mr. White, I don’t know. Most of the staff is very excited by this opportunity. I think when it’s all said and done you’ll have more than enough volunteers to meet your quota.”

The third meeting Perry ordered Clark offsite. Kent took it pretty well.

“You know, Chief,” Clark determined, “My parents are getting older. I think this will give me a chance to spend more time with them.”

Yes! Perry agreed — never questioning Clark’s worth ethic. Cover your assignments and he could spend two weeks a month in Kansas if he wanted.

**

Yesterday Lois got a text, ‘Lois, are you scheduled to meet with Perry tomorrow?’ It should be noted that texting with Clark can be quite the exercise.

He has never adapted to short-hand and so he handles even the most basic back-and-forth texts as if he were hand writing a letter, “Golly, Lois, I wouldn’t want people to think I’m trying to rush our conversation.” He has explained and there’s something about his over-sized farmer thumbs on a virtual keyboard that has caused him to rely on outdated technology, “Well, for my money, you can’t get any smarter than a blackberry.” So he pecks a keyboard letter by letter each response to a simple question taking minutes to compose.

‘Great,’ he eventually responded, ‘Will you have time to meet with me afterward?’ Which is Clark Kent speak for ‘I have something to tell you but would prefer to talk about it in person.’ For the record, he prefers to talk about everything in person.

**

[INTERIOR – The Daily Planet]

Clark arrived at 7am. He doesn’t like it when public transportation is crowded and so if he’s going to come to the office he’s there early and for most of the day. Regardless of whether she decided to meet with him before Perry or after or whatever their arrangement is he can be found at one of the shared workstations. Dressed in a worn brown suit that is on its second day of wear this week.

With his laptop docked he types away – if there’s one thing Clark Kent is known for outside of his mind-manners and punchy prose style its being the fastest typist that Perry White has ever seen. Well, when given a full keyboard.

A full-sized legal pad is to the right of the keyboard where his fingers fly with incomprehensible speed typing a sentence only to pause as he studies the legal pad, sometimes lifting it to turn from one page to the next, sometimes picking up the phone and calling someone to clarify some fact. Taking many times a full thirty minutes between sentences as his blackberry buzzes forcing him to peck-out a several sentences in response before having to study the notepad again, meticulously re-read his screen aloud, and then resume from where he had left off.


Lois Lane

Of the two, Lois has always been the one to thrive on stress and high-pressure situations. She was built for the high-stakes, fraught world of a newsroom smelling of ink and coffee and cigarette smoke.

That said, she’s also a creature of her own time. And while she’s perfectly comfortable with a 21st-century method of doing business, one which includes downsizing the office and shifting to a “media environment” or whatever they call it rather than staying on print media, she also has (though she would never express it the same way) a strong desire to stay in a real newsroom with real news people. She doesn’t want to spend her time writing up her stories in a coffee shop.

Still, people aren’t quite so against having her in the office. She doesn’t spill coffee, she doesn’t knock things over. She’s just a little… intense, sometimes.

As a creature of 2019, Lois does not generally text in complete sentences. Even when she uses full sentences, she doesn’t tend to punctuate or use capital letters (“It’s another dialect, Clark. English by other means. It’s like you talk to me differently than you talk to Perry or your Mom — oh Christ, you probably don’t, do you? You talk to everyone exactly the same way, Smallville, don’t you?”), but after years of working together she makes the tiny concession of respecting Clark enough to respond to him the way he responds to her.

By text, at least. More or less.

So when he asks about her meeting with Perry (how did he know? Does he know something she doesn’t? Did he get called in for a meeting, too?), she responds:

‘Yes, meeting set for 7:45 because our boss is a sadist’

And to chatting after the meeting? There was a fair amount of squinting at that request, but in the end, a shrug and a response:

‘Sure’

Capitals, no periods. There’s only so far she’s going to go. Besides, texting with a period at the end of her sentences always feels so overly formal.

When she does arrive, it’s not long after Clark. People at the Planet are under the impression that Lois is a morning person. It’s not really true. Oh, she does enjoy the quiet of the early morning hours, the chill of it, the first drink of the first pot of coffee, but Lois was made for late nights and all-nighters.

She finds him, a mug of black coffee in one hand, a glazed donut in the other, and rests her hip on the entrance of his little cubicle. “Compliments of the season, Clark. What’s up?”

—-

“It doesn’t have to be a ruff year—,” Clark reads the words upon his screen aloud in a soft whisper. It’s a tantalizing piece about the upcoming dog show that will be at the Marriott. He seems to not notice Lois as she comes to stand at the edge of his cubicle though when she speaks he puts a finger to his place on the screen and taps the arrow keys to mark that place with his cursor.

Then he turns around, standing, awkward frame stretching tall for a moment before shoulders hunch forward in bad posture, “Good morning, Lois,” he sounds chipper, eyes widening behind his glasses and then blinking several times as if needing time to adjust to something other than a screen, “How was your holiday?” Pause, deciding to make sure she doesn’t leave out the all-important family updates, “How is your father?” He of course waits until she articulates a response not wanting to appear inconsiderate by asking a question and then immediately doing something else.

“I survived it,” Lois replies, as cheerily as she can muster. Clark always, ALWAYS has to small-talk first. No matter how many times she’s told him to get to the damn point, Kansas, he’s always gone with it’s not small talk, Lois; I really want to know, and I just don’t feel right jumping in to asking for favors, so she tries to be tolerant.

“I… went on a little vacation,” she goes on, knowing this isn’t quite enough. “Which ended up being not so much of a vacation, so here I am. The family’s fine. I got a card.” Another brief smile, which hides the desperate desire she has for Clark to not start talking about how family’s the most important thing and she should really spend more time with them because who knows how much time she’ll have? and other things he said last year.

“A very nice card,” she continues, taking a deep breath, “with all the news, including how Lucy is doing a great job in her flight attendant job — career, sorry — and Dad’s invited me to his next hunting trip. Not sure if I really want to go.”

A throatclear, then. Even if Clark doesn’t want to get to business, Lois does. But she stops herself just before asking what he’s called her for and — yes, fine. “How’s the family? You went down to Kansas for the holidays, I’m guessing. How are your parents? And all those cousins?”

Clark’s brow furrows at the vacation that wasn’t a vacation. It doesn’t take the the world’s greatest investigative reporter to see that he clearly wants to know more but as mild-mannered as Kent can be she would know that that he’ll furrow at her for a moment, a silent prompt for more, but if nothing else is provided he’s too polite to pry.

Instead he’ll just smile, “I’m glad to hear Lucy’s doing great,” is his response and after a beat he adds, “You know, Lois,” Clark’s voice raises an octave which always preempts some folksy wisdom, “Every once and a while I can’t help but see how old Ma and Pa are getting. You should take the time to enjoy the time you can spend with your dad while there’s still things that you can do together.”

Then he nods, “They’re doing well and so are Kara, Karen, and Conner,” the names roll off his tongue as if completely unaware the Kent family tree sounds like it has very few branches, “In fact —,” he turns and opens the drawer of the desk, “I told mom last year that you said she didn’t need to go to the trouble of making you anything every year —,” He retrieves a wrapped box from the drawer and as he pulls it into the open his cheeks puff at the end of his last statement and he exhales as if a bit hesitant for the clear betrayal of Lois’s wishes, “She said that it was no trouble and so,” he proffers a gift wrapped in blue paper with little white snowmen on top of it. The sort of thin flimsy paper available at the Dollar Tree back in Kansas. It’s well wrapped in that it looks like the paper was cut and taped precisely the fringes of the ribbons around it curled with a pair of scissors from the Kent family junk drawer.

“Merry belated Christmas, Lois.”

Whenever she opens it she will find a metal tin. Scotch tape has been wrapped where the lid meets the base so that it won’t accidently pop open. Inside the tin wax paper lines the metal and has been folded over an assortment of ginger bead, peppermint, and meringue cookies. Each lovingly made from scratch and not a single one fractured despite their cross-country flight. Though maybe worse for wear depending on when she works her way through its myriad layers of paper, ribbon, tape and tin.

She knew it was coming and she braced herself for it, and like any good interviewer Lois turns the commentary back on the commenter. “I’m a little jealous of you, you know? Every time you go home to the folks, I never hear about fights or people getting into politics or anyone stomping off in a snit. Nobody ever brings the wrong kind of sweet potato pie. Nobody refuses to talk to Cousin Connor for months after a particularly cutthroat game of Monopoly.”

For that matter, nobody compares one daughter to the other, asks anyone when they’re getting married and makes comments about biological clocks, or gets into arguments about the freedom of the press versus the Fighting Men Keeping Them Free.

But now comes her present, and Lois’s cheeks actually start getting warm. She did beg Clark to please tell Ma Kent that it was fine, really, and the cookies were absolutely wonderful but really she was just fine, they had cookies in Metropolis. In desperation, she’d sent Clark with a little box of chocolate truffles for the Kents one year, and the cookie haul was out of all proportion to rationality. Lois wasn’t certain how Clark got it on the plane.

“She really doesn’t have to,” Lois mutters, but she does accept the gift and sproings the ribbon. “But please tell her thank you for me. Merry belated Christmas, Clark. I did, actually… one second.”

Stepping out of the cube, she slides around the corner to her own and returns with a moderately-sized box. When Lois goes on vacation, she makes a habit of bringing back some kind of souvenir. Over the years, the recipients tend to be scattered generally among Jimmy, Perry, and Clark. Generally they get magnets, keychains, postcards, that sort of thing. Sometimes it’s a bit bigger — a coffee mug, say. When she went to the Grand Canyon, everyone got a solid metal keychain cast from the elevation marker at the canyon’s highest point.

The box is the sort that’s already fancy — a nice and reusable gift box, with the gift inside wrapped in tissue paper. Whenever Clark opens it, he’ll find a snow globe of a forested mountain scene complete with tiny ski lifts and a warm, lit cabin nestled among the rocks and snow.

It doesn’t show the werewolves, though. Or the stag-horned monsters. Or the Krampus. Unaccountably, the artist left those out.

She’s worried it’s a little much. It just… kind of seemed to fit. Proffering it, she smiles a little: “Merry belated Christmas. Again. And if it’s not your kind of thing, I bet your folks would like it.”

—-

Clark Kent doesn’t seem put off by her jealousy. He nods, accepting her words for what they are, and then gives an ‘aw-shucks’ shrug of his shoulders, “I just think that none of us sleep good if we’re upset with each other. And so no one goes to bed as long as anyone is angry.”

There’s a nervous beat and he reaches upward pushing the bridge of his glasses up his nose until they are right against his head, “There’s a plenty of things I wish I would tell Kara or Conner sometimes but I don’t because I don’t want to upset anyone. I dunno, maybe if we didn’t wait till we were angry, we’d have more lively holidays but everyone would have a career they could be proud of …”

It’s at this moment Kal-El wonders if Lucy ever works the flights to Topeka.

Clark blinks, as Lois begins to open the present, a grin expanding across his features, “She /loves/ doing it,” he says for his mother, “You know, last year, Karen got her wifi working and she reads /all of your articles/.”

As he says this he begins to open the box Lois provided him a broad hand jiggling the top to work it off. He takes great care to turn and set it upon his desk before unwrapping the tissue paper and then pulling out the snowglobe.

As she wishes him a ‘merry belated Christmas’ he seems to almost not hear her because as he peers through the glass of his spectacles and the glass of the globe he regards the cabin before turning it upside down so that the little white flakes drift to the very top of the glass and then he turns it over — so they swirl about the cabin —, “Lois,” a pause, “I love it,” even as he says this he still watches the flakes move about the tiny cabin.

“You know, I hate to fly,” She would know this because Clark’s mild-claustrophobia combined with his mild-agoraphobia means that other than trips to Kansas it’s very unlikely he’ll board a plane unless it’s absolutely necessary, “So I really appreciate all the souvenirs.”

Turning his hand then he seems to be searching for something, “Is this from your vacation?” He asks her, “Where did you go?” Reopening the topic she had tried to brush past earlier.

It’s odd. For a guy who can drive her up the wall, Clark Kent can also draw a smile out of Lois like few others. Or, rather… Lois smiles a fair bit, but it’s usually when some jerk gets his comeuppance or when a story’s coming together. Satisfaction. Even smugness. This expression is a gentler one: she’s glad she made someone happy.

“Yeah, you don’t get out much,” she agrees. “I mean, who can on a journalist’s salary? And whenever you do go somewhere it’s to Kansas. There’s a lot of world, Clark. You should spend some more time seeing it. Have you ever even gone to Canada? Mexico? I promise you can drive to both of those, or even take the train.”

She almost drops that line of thought, but she muses a little further: “When my dad went to the Emirates for a few months, he brought me back this brass-and-silver… um, coffee set, I think? Coffee or tea. Good-sized kettle with an alcohol burner or something under it and these little tiny cups. I was eight, I had no idea. And when he went to Japan, everyone got a kimono. I don’t know, maybe that’s why I always have to get souvenirs for my friends.”

But then, just like a damn /journalist/, he asks where she went. “Agh. This little ski lodge upstate. I kind of had to cut things short when it turned out someone slipped a curse into a rich guy’s pocket. It attracted, uh… things. I did some research on legends, magics, that kind of thing, and — long story short, he and everyone else got attacked by stag-men and what I really don’t want to admit was the Krampus. I lived,” she adds hastily and unnecessarily. “I’m fine. Not everyone was. Given the damage it did to the lodge, we all went home earlier than planned.”

The last words are punctuated with a hollow laugh. “So not much of a vacation. Got the snowglobe, though. I got Jimmy a magnet for his collection. Perry’s getting a spruce candle.”

“I’ve got all I need right here,” Clark rebuffs the idea that he should travel more, “Although,” he begins as if letting her in on some secret, “I’m saving up some money to take Ma and Pa to the Grand Canyon,” because, “They’ve always wanted to go and it’s only a fifteen hour drive. We could even stop in Mesa Verde and the Canyonlands along the way. I’ve got a mapquest print out of the whole drive I’ll have to show you sometime.”

‘Curse. Magic. Krampus.’

In another world such a sentence would seem crazy. Yet, this is a world that has been subjected to alien invasion and annual-apocalypse. It’s still off-putting, which is plain by Clark’s immediate and evident concern, and yet his concern is undercut by some confusion. The context clues make it evident that ‘Krampus’ is not a good thing but …, “W-what is a Krampus?” He finally asks her, “Is that with a Cee or a Kay,” and then adds, “But I’m glad you’re okay,” Clark says both earnestly.

“Is your friend alright?” Clark asks with genuine concern for the safety of her friend having applied new context to Lois’s relationship with ‘the rich guy’ in a so-smooth method of fishing for information in her personal life without making it obvious that he’s fishing.


Oh, Kent. The man who thinks the whole world consists of Metropolis, Smallville, and just pictures of everywhere else. Perhaps the most unadventurous journalist Lois has ever met. But he starts that Confidential Voice and Lean In, and Lois even takes part in the atmosphere of a Grand Canyon trip as forbidden fruit. Still, she only just manages to stifle a snort at the mention of a Mapquest printout.

“Just this time that makes sense,” she admits. “Cell reception isn’t great out there. I was out in the Southwest a few months ago, interviewing those ranchers about mineral and water rights.” That’s the fun part about being a journalist: going everywhere, investigating, getting a new obsession, and coming back to share it with everyone. “I didn’t make it to the Grand Canyon, though, but I hear it’s a real sight. No matter how cynical you are, apparently it’s utterly breathtaking. Take some pictures and let me know how it goes.”

When he asks her about the insanity upstate, Lois actually pulls out her phone and reviews her notes. “With a K,” she replies. But she looks puzzled at the question, and asks:

“Friend?”

The penny drops, sort of: “Oh. I didn’t know the guy, but I’m going to look him up. See if I can figure out why someone hated him so much they called down a curse on him. I travel alone; you know that.”

Something about that statement sounds a little hollow and sad. Lois doesn’t analyze that feeling.

“I did see a familiar face or two, though; let’s see… Batgirl, weirdly. Also this… agent, I still don’t have a name for her, but she’s shown up in two places so far that had weird happenings. There and in New York a few days before. One of these days, I’m going to get her name and her org,” Lois mutters with a wry little smile. She sounds like a hunter figuring out how she’s going to catch some particularly elusive prey.

“…Also, fella with a trench coat and a little Asian girl who recognized me. It was a very surreal night.”

Sliding her phone back into her pocket, she cocks her head at Clark: “Was there something specific that you wanted to talk about? Or did you just want to catch up while Perry caffeinates?”

—-

Clark smiles a bit when she says his mapquest print out makes sense. He had never considered the cell-reception being poor but having a second to consider things he’s not obliged to ‘out’ himself because it’s not often his technological prowess is complimented — although he does feel slightly bad for his lie-of-omission.

“I sure will,” Kent says to the pictures but is soon sidetracked as she begins to explain her harrowing deal upstate.

Friend. Agent. /Batgirl/. Clark Kent’s eyes are as wide as saucers by the time she’s finished, “Golly Lois, I’m not sure looking up someone whose cursed is such a good idea. I mean, what if it’s /contagious/?”

Then she tries to drive him to his point, “Err, umm, yes,” he says still wondering if you can just make an appointment with a Doctor like Strange to have your curse removed, “I mean no.” He half-closes his eyes and takes a deep breath to center his thoughts.

“Sorry,” he apologizes his nervousness subsiding slowly as he thinks about more material concerns, “I think I might have a lead you’d be interested in.” He uses the pointer of his right hand to push his glasses against his face and then turns and opens the desk-drawer he retrieved her gift from earlier.

Pulling out a business bag made of worn leather he unzips the front of it and pulls out a stack of business cards that are binder-clipped together. His ‘rolodex’ as he often calls it. As he works the clip open he turns to Lois again.

“I had lunch with a private investigator from New York City, Jessica Jones,” Clark begins, “She has ties to the meta-human community in New York and was scouting Metropolis to try to get the ‘lay of the land’.” A pause and he explains, voice pitching up an octave, “You know, Lois, the registration act has a lot of people wanting to move and apparently Metropolis is one of the places they want to move to.”

“I think she’s scared that people will just be moving from one bad situation to another and wants to make sure Metropolis doesn’t have a metahuman agenda of its own,” His brow furrows there, “I told her the only person who would know other than Lex Luthor is Lois Lane.” He pulls a business card from the top of the stack and offers it the nondescript card reads ‘Alias Investigations’.

“Now, I know the registration story has a lot of coverage already and that you probably don’t have time to gossip, but …” You get the distinct impression this ‘but’ is why he called you, “You know Wilson Fisk. The Hell’s Kitchen Massacre? She claimed to have been involved in the investigation that exposed him and his network.

“I, uhh,” he puts the cards on his desk and opens the satchel fully pulling rifling through its contents, “Did some research based upon what she told me …” He pulls out a manilla folder, “It looks like Fisk may have tried to have her assassinated.” Opening the folder, “She was shot by a gunman - a sniper. And,” He moves through the pages of items containing news articles, police reports, and handwritten notes, “She said that ‘Daredevil’ had been a part of the investigation and so I looked him up — he’s a vigilante in Hell Kitchen.”

“I —,” pause, “Wasn’t sure all of the questions to ask,” He admits, “but it /sounds/ like she may be involved in some sort-of vigilante network. And they’re interested in Metropolis. It /sounded like a story/ bigger than the world’s largest cookie —,” a reference to his prize story from last year, “I thought maybe you’d be interested in talking to her.”

“Maybe you can help each other out?”

—-

Good Lord. If a man has ever looked like a labrador retriever, it’s Clark Kent when he smiles. His whole face does it. Well, as far as Lois can tell, since the glare on his glasses is the worst (“you know, Lois, I’ve always thought those add-ons at the optician are just a way of driving up the price, and you know I’m not one for frills”).

“Apparently he just had something cursed on him,” Lois replies. “The little witch girl took it off him and torched it. Cleared the whole problem right up. So someone wanted him dead, and they were willing to go through some really weird lengths to get it done. Could be a jilted lover or something. Or given that it was at a fancy resort, maybe it was an angry wife. Slips it in her husband’s going-on-an-affair blazer pocket, thinks it’s no more powerful than your average corner-shop psychic… ehh, I’m just rambling. I should take my own advice: stories are based on evidence, not conjecture.”

Of course, sometimes you need a little conjecture to find the evidence.

She takes the card he pulls out, though, and quiets down to listen to his explanation. One eyebrow perks, but she remains silent as she turns Jessica’s card over and over in her hand. As she listens, her mind is rolling over the name in her head. A mental Rolodex, as it were, and it flips up a pretty big card. YouTube videos of her throwing a car. The trial of Bucky Barnes. There’s a lot of interesting people in the world, but Jessica Jones was a hard one to forget.

But then comes the manila folder, and the thoughtful meditative look turns into one not dissimilar to a cat watching a mousehole. Wilson Fisk is after her? That suggests the talk about outing him wasn’t just idle gossip. And if she’s connected to other vigilantes (Jessica, she recalls, swears she’s just a very thorough private investigator), what would it mean if they all came to Metropolis?

“Definitely interested,” she agrees. “Not sure if it’s been on your radar, but I’ve been doing a lot of research into the meta and mutant communities. With the Registration Act coming up, I think the world deserves a clear look at the people whose lives they want to regulate. The good and the bad.”

Lois’s mouth quirks up at the corner. “My hypothesis, shockingly enough, is that they’re just people. With all that comes with it, the good and the bad. Jessica Jones… I reported on the trial of Bucky Barnes where she was a vital witness. I liked her. She seemed honest as a brick. That’s not to say she doesn’t have hidden depths, though. Hmmmm.”

She stares off into nowhere, eyes unfocused, brain clicking away like a watch. “Lots of New York vigilantes are very tied to their neighborhoods. I’ve heard of the Daredevil of Hell’s Kitchen. Great name; I wish I’d thought of it. It’s hard to imagine him giving up on his neighborhood. But you’re right: this could be a serious lead. And Jessica Jones… she’s someone to keep an eye on.”

Lois hesitates then. She looks down at the card, then back over to Clark.

“Why would you give me this?” she asks. “Clark, I’ll never admit this if you bring it up later, but you have talent. You don’t have to write articles about the dog show. You just got handed a lead — maybe a big one — and you’re not following up on it. A story like this could make your career. Why would you give it away?”

—-

Clark blinks rapidly when Lois compliments him and his cheeks turn a shade crimson. He cannot help but smile but in doing so seems awkwardly embarrassed by the praise as if not wholly certain what he should say because he knows that Lois isn’t the sort-of person who wears her heart on her sleeve and he doesn’t want to discourage her from being kind to him.

“Golly,” he says meeting her eyes for a moment and then glancing askew, “Thanks Lois.” Simple enough.

“I—I remember,” he says about her reporting on the Trial of the Century — not that he remembered Jessica Jones was connected. Somehow he had overlooked that. This might be inferred by the way he looks at his folder; as if the weight of it was seemingly somehow lighter for the items that Lois is able to recall and that he had missed, “I guess, with everything else going on, I hadn’t really thought about what registration meant,” he admits.

Clark Kent is characteristically short-sighted about the ill-will baked into social policy. He is ingrained with conservative values of Christian kindness mixed with the liberal tolerances of Metropolis. He thinks the best of everyone and everything. Especially when the registration bill came with some many supposed benefits for those registering.

“That’s why I think you’re better for this,” Clark tells Lois, “The only dirt I’m good at finding are the spots that need dusting in my apartment,” he says lamely voice pitching upwards, “Besides, Jessica is looking to find out what’s rotten in all this and you’re the only person I know who has a nose for finding the bad apple before it spoils the whole bushel.”

There’s an awkward pause as he mentally waffles back and forth about disclosing the next bit. Torn by his journalistic integrity and by not wanting to omit something that might hurt Lois’s feelings later and so he tries to satisfy both, “There’s another side to this I want to look into.” He admits, “but I think I need to do some more,” hefting his folder, “research first.”

—-

Out she breathes. Lois shakes her head a little, though that rare fond smile has found its way to her face.

It’s definitely not that Lois doesn’t smile. She grins like a Cheshire cat when she’s getting close to a breakthrough or when one of her stories is about to take down some corrupt rich guy. She smiles like an out and out tiger when she’s on her podcast taking an unsuspecting jerk apart with her incredibly polite voice and her relentless fact-checking.

It’s just that her smiles are rarely kind ones. Of course, in this situation she’s also been terse and frustrated and snappish, but she tries the kindness this time. Maybe because he’s being complimentary.

“You really do think the best of everyone,” she says. “Registration… it has the shiniest happiest face for something that amounts to forcibly genotyping anyone ‘different’ and maintaining a list. Even assuming the people holding that list now and forever will have the best of intentions, you know what the road to Hell is paved with. And if someone without the greatest of goodwill gets hold of the names, addresses, and super-weaknesses of mutants, metas, and aliens across the country? Congratulations: we’ve done every supervillain’s work for them. That’s not even to mention groups like Humanity First. Or guerillas and terrorist groups who would love to have a superweapon in their army. Heck, the Constitutional right to privacy forbids something like this, I’d have thought.”

Back to the present concern, though. Lois’s eyes drop to the folder he’s fiddling with. “Anything I should know? You know I’m glad to help with research. I’ll even let you put your name on top.”

—-

“Good intentions,” Clark does know what the road to Hell is paved with and he acknowledges this while reaching to gently massage the back of his neck as Lois explains all of the ways that registration could go so very wrong. When she finishes he exhales slowly having not even realized he was holding his breath through the entire thing.

“Lois,” he says eyes falling as he contemplates what she just said a long pause between saying her name and then speaking again, “Isn’t it funny how a lot of the same people who support gun registration are against meta-registration? Isn’t /all of it/ just lists with the people filled with the people other people are scared of?”

“I mean,” he looks upward then, “I know owning a gun is a choice and being a metahuman isn’t but ..,” The hesitance within his eyes wavers and gives way to the thinest flicker of conviction, “I think when you’re at a funeral for your loved one who was taken by some tragedy — it doesn’t really matter. You just want to make sure it never happens again and keeping track of those who might hurt you seems to be important. Even though the best list in the world won’t tell you who is good and who is bad.”

Kent forces a smile because feeling somber makes him feel nauseous, “It’s easy for me to say though because I’m not on either list. I’m just here to tell the true story.”

The reaches outward then to offer her the folder, “I made this for you,” he confesses, “I hope there’s something useful inside. Let me know if you wind up needing a hand and watch out for Jessica — she can be a handful.” Pushy, he means. He thinks the women will do great things together.

—-

Lois’s smile goes crooked. “That’s an interesting conversation. Even and especially if you turn it around: plenty of the people who don’t want gun registration do want mutant and meta registration. It’s a real debate.”

She starts counting off on her fingers. “We have constitutional rightsunder the Bill of Rights, in factto both freedom from unreasonable search and seizure, which is the usual Amendment quoted when it comes to personal privacy, not to mention the Ninth, and to bear arms. Firearms are tools used for target practice, hunting, and self-defense. In trained hands they’re relatively safe, or at least they don’t hurt anything they’re not supposed to, but the Second arguably doesn’t say how well the person should be trained. The Second states we should have a ‘well regulated militia’, which arguably includes the registration of firearms, but I doubt the Founding Fathers thought of that any more than they foresaw automatic weapons or people who could throw fire. Cars are registered and drivers are licensed, and I suspect there’s more cars on America’s roads than guns in its homes, and it’s a little disingenuous to say that driving isn’t a right guaranteed in the Constitution. Not every city has Metropolis’s public transit system. More people need guns than cars, and yet.”

“If this was an easy question to answer,” she finishes, meeting Clark’s eyes and holding his gaze, “we wouldn’t need Constitutional lawyers and there’d be no debate. But I’ll tell you this: I am on one of those lists. I don’t generally carry anymore, but I own a rifle and a handgun that I mostly use for target practice these days. I grew up an Army brat, Clark; I was shooting tin cans off fences before I was in double digits. Now, if I was really upset about having my guns registered, I could get around it in a few ways. I could give my firearms to my father, he could register them, then give them back, and that’s all legal. Or I could just give them up.”

“And that’s the thing. They’re things. Owning them is a choice. But mutants don’t choose to be born with the X-gene, and a lot of metas and enhanced humans didn’t have much choice. And even if they did? People aren’t things.”

Lois takes a deep breath and says it again, lifting her chin and squaring her jaw.

“People. Aren’t. Things.”

Her eyes, no matter how pretty a shade of violet, are bright and hard.

“We don’t register people because they might have a talent that might be dangerous any more than we register every boxer and black belt in America. We don’t register Communists, Episcopalians, or people who put their toilet paper rolls on backward. But because a tiny percentage of people in this country have a genetic anomaly that does, in a tiny percentage of those cases, allow them to perform some kind of superhuman feats, we should register all of them? No. They’re people. If we’re worried about crime and vigilantism, go after that. Someone commits a crime? Next to Identifying Marks and Piercings and Known Affiliates we can put Known Powers. But we don’t check someone’s genes to see if they going to be naturally more gifted at being shady than their neighbors. And sure, I get that people are scared, but we don’t let bereaved fathers shoot their daughter’s killer on the courthouse steps, either.”

It’s more or less just then that she realizes how long she’s been going on. Clearing her throat, she shrugs. Not apologetically, but perhaps… resignedly?

“That’s what I think, anyway.”

—-

Immediately Clark feels like he made a mistake.

However, Kent listens intently though he physically seems to wilt as Lois turns his statement around. Thick fingers awkwardly groom the part in his hair and there is a sick feeling in the pit of his stomach. “I-,“ he stammers lightly, “I just meant,” There’s a long pause as he reaches backward to try and remember what it was he said except that now his nerves have made this situation terribly tip-of-tongue where he cannot form words.

“I mean,” He swallows, “Lists.” The word seems to spark his memory, “A list of anything won’t –” Pause, “Well,” He inhales, “I just meant that a list of things — or people — won’t solve a problem. I just wish people would walk a mile in each other’s shoes, is all.”

“The other side of the argument is always the wrong side.”

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