“All right, people, sit down. Sit down.” Judge Angela Diggs commanded instant attention as she strode into the room. The courtroom was seated, and so was Angela, banging her gavel once for good measure. She rifled through her papers, glancing at the charges, and looked over at the man clad in primary colours and confined awkwardly behind the defendant’s table. Even for the second time, it was still so odd to see Superman indoors like this, and in a courtroom no less – in the place of so many criminals that he had helped to bring to justice – instead of outdoors, flying around above the city, swooping in to save the day. In her view it was downright wrong, but her job was to remain as impartial as possible at all times. Ridiculous as it seemed, he had broken the law. “Superman?”
Superman immediately rose. “Your honour?”
“The charge here is contempt of court. How do you plead?”
“Court is not something I’m contemptuous of, your honour. I have vowed to fight for truth and justice.” The response earned him a slightly withering glance from Patricia behind the prosecutor’s desk; but corny as the words were, if anyone could make them sound impressive, it was Superman, and it was clear that he spoke from the heart. Angela smiled slightly as she told him,
“All I’m looking for is a ‘guilty’ or ‘not guilty’.”
“Not guilty.” Behind Superman, various members of the public called out their approval.
“So recorded. I’m entertaining bail requests.” Patricia nodded once in agreement.
“I’d like to be released on my own recognisance,” said Superman. For an alien who had supposedly only arrived on the planet a few months ago, he sure seemed to know a lot about how the law worked, Angela noticed. Maybe that was how he spent his time when he wasn’t out saving people, reading up on everything to do with Earth. A man with super-speed could get through a lot of books.
“Objection-” Patricia stood up, and as she did so, knocked her coffee cup to the floor. Superman reflexively rose into the air to avoid it, and the court ooooh-ed, impressed at this up-close display of his powers. Superman looked sheepishly at her as he hovered in mid-air; Angela sighed and felt a headache beginning to form. Telling Superman to stop using his powers was like telling a cheetah not to run fast: he was just doing what came naturally. And yet somehow, she was expected to find a solution to this whole absurd mess.
“He’s an obvious flight risk,” said Patricia, and the pun was not lost on anyone present. People clapped as Superman gently landed, hands resting on his hips as he smiled apologetically.
“What on earth am I supposed to do with him?” Angela asked the courtroom at large.
“Ah- Your honour-” A portly man with a gruff voice who had been sitting in the second row got to his feet. Angela would have recognised him even without the introduction that followed. “Perry White, Daily Planet. Uh, we’ve been covering Superman ever since he arrived in Metropolis, and he’s always conducted himself with absolute integrity, decency and honesty.”
“So you’re willing to vouch for him, is that it?” said Angela.
“Oh, well, absolutely,” said Mr. White with a smile.
Well, if he was so keen on Superman, then he could have him. Angela banged her gavel. “Sold.”
Mr. White looked confused, caught off-balance. “…What?”
“He’s yours. The Daily Planet is now responsible for the whereabouts of Superman – you try it for a while. And no superpowers, period.” She looked pointedly at Superman as she said this. She didn’t want to find herself back in this courtroom yet again, dealing with more trumped-up charges. “Is that clear?”
“Completely,” said Superman guiltily.
Angela banged the gavel to signal that they were finished. On command, the courtroom rose and began to file out, leaving Superman to accompany Perry White and his star reporter, Lois Lane, back to the Daily Planet after they’d paid his bail.
They took a taxi back to the Planet in order to avoid being accosted by hundreds of curious onlookers and reporters eager for a scoop. The ride was as awkward as Clark had expected. He stared out of the window to avoid Lois’ lovestruck glances – not that he didn’t appreciate those, but it wasn’t the place for a romantic moment with Perry sitting between them, and in any case he was too busy worrying about how he was going to keep up his already-difficult double life with both Clark and Superman expected to be in the same building at the same time. Fortunately, Perry had other things on his mind besides wondering about where one of his reporters had suddenly disappeared to. As they rode the lift up to the newsroom, Perry looked at Clark and said, “Son, why don’t you come into my office and we can have a talk.”
Oh boy, thought Clark, let me guess – another Elvis speech. He walked through the newsroom, smiling in response to the astonished glances directed his way and wishing that invisibility was one of his powers. It was a shame that all of Alan Morris’ UV technology had been destroyed.
Lois made as if to follow them into Perry’s office, but Perry gave her a pointed look and said, “Don’t you have a piece to write about what just went down in the courtroom?”
“Sure thing, Perry,” she said reluctantly, swerving off towards her own desk. She sat down at her computer, but her eyes followed Clark until he disappeared into Perry’s office.
Perry set down behind his desk and regarded Clark seriously. Clark had never been this close to Perry as Superman for so long before, and he was amazed that his disguise (or lack thereof) was holding up so well in front of an old newshound like Perry. But he chose not to think too much into it, and concentrated on projecting the air of confidence that he so conspicuously lacked as Clark.
“Son, I have a few words of advice for you from someone who knows what it’s like to be famous. Oh, now I don’t mean me, though I am the editor of the world’s best newspaper – no, I’m talking about Elvis Presley. I don’t think there’s a person who can’t learn somethin’ from him. Y’see, back in 1956…”
Ten minutes later, Clark was still standing listening to what practically amounted to a blow-by-blow biography of Elvis’ life. He wondered whether Perry had ever thought about writing one.
“Y’see son, Elvis was a law-abiding citizen himself – oh well now, sure he had a brush or two on the wrong side in his later years, but for the most part, his heart was in the right place just like yours. The problem was that he was famous. And famous people are targets this day and age – but well, I don’t need to tell you that, do I?”
Clark waited for a second, unsure whether it was a rhetorical question or a real question, but the Chief had finally paused and was waiting for an answer. “…No, you don’t need to tell me,” he replied ruefully.
“And of course you know, President Nickson considered making Elvis an honourary FBI agent.” Perry switched to what Clark thought was meant to be an impression of Nickson. “Uh, uh, am I making myself ‘perfectly clear’?”
He wasn’t really, but at that moment the door opened and Lois walked in. “Chief, I hate to interrupt, but I really need you to look at my copy.”
Perry got up from his chair, fingers still frozen in quote marks either side of his head. “Lois, can’t you see I’m in the middle of something here?”
“Mr. White, please,” Clark cut in, “go ahead. You should act like I’m not even here.” Chance would be a fine thing.
“Well, all right son, you might as well see how we run a world-class newspaper.” Perry smiled as he took Lois’ copy from her, but he was soon frowning as he read through it. “What the Sam Hill is this?”
“It’s my take.”
“Well here’s my take: you’re too close to this story!”
“It’s the truth!” Lois insisted.
“Well no offence son, but I can’t run a puff piece like this even if it is about you!” As Perry was talking, a set of long, manicured nails tapped on the door and Cat sashayed in. Clark had been relieved not to see her in the newsroom when they first came in, but she’d obviously returned from whatever she’d been doing, instantly found out the latest gossip, and had now come to check it out for herself.
“Well hello,” said Cat in her most sultry tone, standing uncomfortably close to Clark.
“…Hello,” Clark said, striving to be polite. As uncomfortable as Cat made him normally, it was worse now that he had nowhere to escape to – no co-worker relationship to hide behind and no work to busy himself with. He turned his attention back to the Chief, but Cat continued to stare at him. Lois was still arguing about her article.
“Run it on the op Ed page.”
“I need something for the front page,” Perry said firmly, handing her copy back. Lois snatched it from him.
“Do we have to argue about this in front of Superman?” she pleaded, her teeth clenched as if she were trying to keep Clark from hearing what she said, though it wasn’t much good when he had super-hearing anyway.
“Yes we do. Or you could recognise my wisdom and experience and authority and give in,” said Perry. Cat was now leaning even closer to Clark and inhaling, which was downright disturbing. Lois stomped back to Clark’s side and opened her mouth to argue again.
“Hold that thought,” Perry told her, “while I square Superman away. You got a place to stay tonight, son?”
Both women immediately gasped. “He can stay with me!” they volunteered in unison, Cat taking hold of Clark’s arm possessively. Lois walked towards her, placing herself between Cat and Clark in a very clear display of body language.
“Don’t you think all the mirrors above the bed would keep him awake?”
Cat laughed. “Count on it.”
Infuriated, Lois turned back to Perry. “Perry, did you hear that? You can’t possibly hand Superman over to her! She is so unprofessional!”
Perry opened his mouth to respond, but Cat spoke over him. “Now Lois, just because you’ve got the hots for Superman doesn’t give you exclusive rights to him.” She took hold of Clark’s arm again. Clark wondered if they’d forgotten that he had a brain and voice of his own.
“I do not have the-”
“And anyway,” Cat interrupted, “my apartment is far bigger than yours, Lois, with plenty of room for two.” She dropped her voice to a stage whisper. “Especially in bed.” She winked at Clark.
For a moment Lois appeared speechless with rage, but as ever, it didn’t take her long to think of a comeback. “Oh yeah? I’m surprised there’s ever any room in your bed, Cat, seeing how it’s occupied by a different man every night.”
“Oh, but I would always make room for Superman,” Cat said with another wink.
Clark felt that he needed to put a stop to this somehow or they would bicker for the rest of the day. “Listen, I really don’t want to impose on anyone-”
“You’re not imposing!” Lois immediately cried, whilst Cat ran a hand up his arm.
“Oh, don’t worry, it would be my pleasure. And yours too, of course.”
“Look, will the three of you come to a decision and get the hell out of my office?” said Perry impatiently. “Look, son, I know it’s hard, but you gotta make a choice between one of these two lovely ladies. Now, when Elvis-”
“I’ll stay with Lois,” Clark hastily interrupted him.
“Yesssss!” Lois cheered, grinning widely. “In your face, Cat Grant!”
Cat ignored her. “When you get bored with the schoolgirl,” she said, stroking a finger along Clark’s cheek – he suppressed a shudder – “come to my place and I’ll show you what a real woman can do.” And with that, she turned and sauntered out.
“All right, now get the hell outta here, you two,” said Perry. Grinning delightedly, Lois seized Clark by the hand and pulled him out of the office.
Clark wondered what on earth he had got himself into.