Wednesday was the traditional Boys Club luncheon, so Lois skipped out early to get something to eat. She’d have to hold down the fort for an hour while Ron, Jimmy, and Clark met Richard at the Ace o’ Clubs, so she needed to fortify herself with the four food groups as she’d learned them back in college: caffeine, sugar, grease, and hot sauce.
Dooley’s was right nearby and served a delicious blue cheese burger, which Lois could get slathered in buffalo sauce for the perfect balance of heat and sweet. Plus their coffee was almost as high-test as what was brewing in the break room. Load it up with sugar, and she had a perfect meal.
Lois had called before leaving her office, so the burger was coming out of the kitchen as she walked in the door. “Thanks,” she said with a grin, leaving a generous tip, and looked for a booth that didn’t wobble too badly.
“Oh no, I cannot dine with the heathens of print media,” a falsely-snotty voice said from her left, and Lois turned to meet Cat’s amused gaze.
“That ship sailed decades ago,” Lois shot back, plopping down across from her. “Long before you even ready to be in front of the camera.”
“Hey, I was in front of the cameras my third week on the job,” Cat pointed out.
“Because it was storm coverage and you wore white,” Lois shot back. “I meant back when we were journalism students and didn’t have the right to even be in here.”
“Yeah, but when did we ever obey the rules? Besides, no one would ever throw either of us out of a bar.” Cat was having a burger, too, one of Dooley’s new ‘fancy’ items. The journalistic clientele would never allow it to get too haughty, however.
“How’s the teriyaki burger?” Lois asked, and took a bite of her blue cheese.
“Tastes like a regular burger with teriyaki sauce on it,” Cat laughed. “It’s a change. Speaking of change, what’s new in the Kent house?”
Lois narrowed her eyes. “Nothing much is new in the Lane-Kent house, thanks. And you? How’s Adam?”
“Adam is delightful. He and Ian are going to a ballgame this afternoon. I was excluded because it’s manly bonding time. You know, Lois, I think this is the best decision I ever made.” The blonde smiled, and the radiance of it lit up her face. While she never looked her age to begin with, the sheer joy in her expression would’ve knocked an additional ten years off anyone’s estimate.
Lois smiled back. It had always saddened her that Cat, who had always been ridiculously beautiful and the sweetest-tempered of their little triumvirate of reporting evil, had the most trouble with relationships. She always seemed to worry so much, and over the things that she really shouldn’t have. Now, finally, Cat had some stability in her life. Her job was secure, her relationship with Ian was rock-solid, and having Adam gave the sense of purpose she needed to resist her own demons. “Yeah, best decision you could’ve made. Wish I’d thought the same, but mine turned out for the best, too.”
“Yeah, well, the twins were a surprise. And you had amnesia around then too, so it wasn’t a surprise you should’ve expected, y’know. Besides, Lois, you’re the mom I hope I can be like.”
“Oh, God, don’t wish that on yourself,” Lois groaned. “You don’t understand. It was like jumping out of a plane without a parachute. Crash course, all the way down. And I had two of them. Momma was right, they were lucky to have survived.”
“Stop it, Lo. You’re not a hamster, you wouldn’t eat your young. Speaking of pets, by the way, Adam wants a puppy. Can you maybe hook me up with the beagle guy—Ben, right? Clark’s stepdad?”
That got a snicker from Lois. “Yeah, but do you really want to get one? Cat, they’re loud. Really loud. Chewie sounds like a full-grown bloodhound, and even though Bagel’s twelve now, she still howls every time a helicopter passes over the apartment.” The thought of her older pup made Lois smile wistfully. Bagel still wore the gold-plated tag Jason had gotten for her after she’d bitten Giselle, with ‘Bagel the Brave’ deeply etched into it. It never failed to amuse Lois that even the pets got into the fight for justice.
“I’ll think about it. Maybe I should look at something smaller. Ian wants to go to the shelter and try to find a grown-up dog instead of a puppy. It might be easier than trying to raise a dog and a kid at the same time.” The corners of her eyes crinkled in mirth at that.
Lois just snorted amusement. “I had twins, a ferret, an iguana, and Richard, all at once. And then I got rid of the pilot and picked up a puppy—the one Clark kept calling our youngest. Yeah, Cat, simplify things if you can.”
“My son is not getting any weasels or lizards or snakes or anything weird,” Cat proclaimed.
“That’s what I thought, but then Perry decided to help out,” Lois retorted, and both of them laughed.
A couple more bites into her meal, and Cat said slyly, “So I notice you didn’t mention the actual news.”
“What news?” Lois said warily, knowing exactly what she meant. Tobie had already left a searing message on her voicemail about it.
“Oh, I don’t know. Just the fact that you have a superhero magnet hidden on you somewhere,” Cat teased, and Lois sighed irritably. “Seriously, Lois. No one ever gets to see the Blur, you get rescued by her. Tobie almost had an aneurysm.”
Lois pointed at her with a french fry before dipping it in her hot sauce. “And Superboy, mind you. Besides, it’s not a superhero magnet I have. They only came after me because Bizarro nabbed me. And I know, Tobe called me and ranted. She needs to move to Gateway City and flag down the Wonders or something.”
“So, Blur. Got a quote for me?” Cat asked.
Shaking her head, Lois replied with as much of the truth as she could. “Nope. I didn’t even get a quote from her. She showed up, helped Superboy, and vanished. Which is her usual M.O., I might add. I didn’t get special treatment; she just saved my life. Which is what the capes do.”
“And you wonder why reporters fresh out of college think jumping off buildings is a good way to get an interview,” Cat sighed.
“I didn’t jump off a building to meet Superman, I fell out of a damn helicopter,” Lois shot back. “That was a complete freak accident. I didn’t know there’d be anyone to catch me, Cat. By rights I should’ve been a smear on the pavement.”
“Gross. So glad I didn’t get the quesadilla,” Cat remarked. “But really. Did you notice anything about the Blur we could add to our collective journalistic knowledge?”
Lois sighed again. This was to be expected, and she knew how to handle it. “All right, fine. I only saw her for like a minute, at night, and she wears a mask. But … young, slim, probably a little taller than me. Dark hair. Fast as hell—I mean really fast. And quippy.”
“Aren’t they all these days?” Cat mused.
“Superboy isn’t as quick on a comeback,” Lois replied.
“Yeah, but he strikes me as the serious type,” Cat said. “Too cute, though. Every time he does a press conference I just wanna pinch his cheeks. Oh, that’s one more thing: you think there’s any truth to the Superblur thing?”
Going face-down into her burger wasn’t an option. “I wasn’t around them both long enough. Blur just seemed locked into getting in, getting the job done, and getting out. Probably someplace she needed to be.”
“Yeah, and no one knows where’s she based out of either, so she could be running home. Who knows, with as young as some of these kids are, she might’ve had a curfew or something,” Cat laughed. “Makes me wonder what we’d have been like, the three of us, if we’d had powers when we were that young.”
“Perish the thought,” Lois said, and shuddered. “Can you imagine how much trouble we would’ve gotten ourselves into?”
Cat chortled at that. “Oh, I can imagine. You would be known and feared all along the East Coast. I’d be a total publicity stunt everywhere I went. And if Tobie Raines could fly, Wonder Woman would’ve had to throw her into orbit at least once.”
They both laughed out loud at that. “You’re right, we’re better off with our wits being our only superpowers,” Lois managed to say at last.
Once Lois returned—in a strangely good mood, and that boded ill for everyone—Jimmy headed for the door, accompanied by Ron and Clark. If pressed, he would call this an Interdepartmental Luncheon and claim networking benefits. Perry just grumbled at them not to have more than one beer. Clark wouldn’t have that, of course. Ever since he’d become the head of International, he took a soda on their lunch breaks, or even occasionally a glass of milk. Not that one beer would’ve hurt a guy like Clark, who was already profoundly mellow, but it was the principle of the thing.
Richard was already waiting for them, having taken an early lunch. He raised his glass to the three men walking in with a broad grin. “This week’s meeting of the Lucky Suckers Club is officially in session,” he proclaimed.
“Too true,” Ron laughed. “And you’re the luckiest of all, Mr. Millionaire.”
“Hey, hey,” Jimmy cut in. “I’m the luckiest of all. Unlike you guys, I didn’t get married.”
All of them chuckled at that. Richard added, “Well, Jim, if you have to surrender your autonomy and your right to watch football in your boxers at four in the afternoon, then the way to do it is to marry a gorgeous millionaire who loves you.”
“Joke all you want, you weren’t thinking about the money when you married her,” Ron pointed out.
“Of course not. I was thinking about the red hair and the fact that Lana puts up with me. The bank balance is a perk,” Richard joked back.
Clark patted Richard’s shoulder. “Don’t worry. If I ever thought for a second that the money actually mattered to you, I wouldn’t have let you marry her.” It was one of those rare moments when Jimmy remembered that yeah, Clark was the tallest of them, and had twenty pounds or more on Richard.
“And that’s why I let you marry my ex,” Richard retorted swiftly, grabbing his hand and shaking it.
“Yeah, could be worse. You could’ve listened to the twins and moved everybody into the Riverside house together,” Ron said.
“I would’ve left town until the dust settled,” Jimmy cut in.
Ron snapped his fingers then. “Oh, that reminds me. Lucy wanted me to ask you all about Thanksgiving at our place this year. Sound good?”
“I never turn down free homemade dinners,” Jimmy teased.
“Let me get with Lana, but it should be okay,” Richard said.
“Count us in,” Clark said.
Nodding, Ron took a sip of his beer. “Great. And Ben’s invited too. You know Lucy, as soon as the weather turns colder she wants to feed the world. Clark, can you get with the twins, or should I call them?”
“Just say ‘free food’ out loud, and they’ll appear,” Richard quipped. “The only reason it didn’t work just then is because we’re in a bar.”
Jimmy chuckled at that; once upon a time he had been the ravenous appetite of the group, but Kala and Jason could easily demolish a company party’s buffet, and they’d always made a beeline for desk when he kept candy there for them. The photographer sighed. That youthful appetite and metabolism was long gone for him, even if he still had the freckles his mom had promised would fade with age. “I miss the twins,” he said aloud.
“They miss you, too,” Clark told him. “Jason’s only home on weekends sometimes, but Kala should be home from that tour soon. I can almost guarantee she’ll be up at the office causing mayhem as often as she can.”
“I’ll stock up on sour candy,” Jimmy said. In his eyes, Kala was always going to be the curly-haired toddler with the adorably bossy demeanor, but now he could trust her to go through his photo files without damaging things. She always loved to see the places he’d been. He’d have to remember to show her the shots from Tibet. Kala could lose herself for hours in images of the landscapes, architecture, and people.
The conversation rambled about the various children, Jimmy mostly kicking back and taking it in. Ron’s peripatetic daughter Joanne—“Never name a kid after Lois,” he joked—was now painting in Puerto Rico, but she had plans to fly back to the continental U.S. and paint the Gulf Coast. Perry and Loueen’s son Bryan was showing an interest in the newspaper, and Perry had brought him up to the offices on the occasional afternoon, boasting about making him the next editor since Lois didn’t want the job. Kristin, of course, was still preening over the purple streaks in her hair, which were beginning to fade much to Lana’s relief. And of course, Cat Grant came up in conversation too, with her adoption of Adam finalized and the little boy settling in with her and Ian.
Jimmy nursed his beer and let it all wash over him. When he was younger, he would’ve been a little jealous—here he was listening to three guys talk about their lives with gorgeous women, all of whom he admired tremendously. But the marriage and kids deal wasn’t for him. He’d discovered he loved travel, loved living through his camera lens, all of his focus on getting the perfect shot instead of worrying about kids and a mortgage and everything else.
But still, the homey atmosphere warmed his heart, and he was surprised by the things he’d missed. Maybe it was best if he stuck to the home front for a while. After all, there were always dramatic images to capture in Metropolis.
Maybe, with a little of the famous Olsen luck and an assist from Lois’ tendency to attract trouble, he could snare the first focused photograph of the Blur.