The chief makes Lois call it 'Around the World With Superman in 80 Days' and when things get bad, Clark tells himself that it means he only has to put up with 80 days of this - even if he's pretty sure the 80 days aren't meant literally; if the feature gets popular, he might be stuck with it for months.
Of course, if the feature doesn't get popular, he might get to go home again next week. Lois might be a little disappointed, but she'd get over it - and Richard would, too.
Jimmy, on the other hand ... well. You can't keep everyone happy.
"Your plane," White says, tossing a picture on his desk.
"I can fly?" Clark tries, because he can, actually.
"Lois can't," Jimmy says. "I can't. And trust me, Clark, you don't want to be flying around with all of our equipment. That's heavy stuff."
Clark's fairly sure he could manage just fine, actually, if he wanted to, but this doesn't seem like the right moment to point this out.
"Richard's going to fly it."
"Richard is - " Clark says, because Richard's been pretty scarce around the Planet's office since Lois broke off their engagement - or he did; the rumor mill's not entirely clear on that, according to Jimmy. "Of course he is."
White gives him a long look Clark feels should have been directed at Lois. "Now, I'll be expecting clean, professional articles. Good pictures. Solid stories."
"You got it, sir," Jimmy says, as if the whole thing's his idea. Perhaps it is. It's certainly not Clark's or Lois's, or Richard's most likely.
Superman's never been exclusively for America, of course, but the Planet's always focused on that part of Clark's exploits. The national news. Clark's not sure if their readers are really going to be all that interested in whatever Clark gets up to in Europe or Asia or Australia or wherever they're going.
Jimmy keeps a video blog of their trip. He posts pictures, too.
On the first day, it gets over 250,000 individual hits.
The most exciting thing Clark does all day is eat a candy bar that's possibly slightly past its due date.
If Richard blames Clark for the end of his and Lois's relationship, he doesn't let it show. He's friendly, warm, even, opting for a manly hug when Clark offers a polite handshake at their reunion.
"Be nice to get out in the field again," he says, which makes Clark wonder what he did before becoming a regular at the Planet. Piloting, possibly.
Lois mutters impolite words at her laptop, which insists it can't connect itself to the internet. There's a package of cigarettes hidden in her luggage, but Clark's determined to make sure she doesn't smoke a single one of them. Her lungs are lovely just the way they are.
Jimmy is fiddling with one of his cameras, looking up and grinning as Clark sits down next to him, because nothing good has ever come of sitting down next to Lois when she's in a temper and, Superman or not, he's fairly sure he can't actually get her a working internet connection.
"Hey, Mr Kent. Isn't this great?"
"Clark," Clark says. "Please."
"I mean, you and Superman? Who'd have thought it?"
Nice to know Jimmy's not holding a grudge. Lois didn't talk to him - either him - for weeks.
"I suspected," Richard says. "I mean, getting back after five years on the exact same day Superman showed up again? That's a pretty big coincidence."
Lois snorts. "You thought Superman couldn't possibly be dorky."
"Mr Kent isn't dorky," Jimmy protests. "You're not," he tells Clark. "You're great."
"Thank you." Clark is supposed to be dorky, for exactly the reason Richard's mentioned. Or, well, the reason Lois has mentioned Richard mentioning.
It's ... different, being out and about with other people. Humans.
Before, it was just Clark. He'd listen around for some sign of trouble, go there, and fix it. He never needed to worry about being back in time for dinner.
He still doesn't need to, exactly.
It's just that there's three people waiting for him, now, assuming they haven't come after him to catch the action live. When he's late, there's someone who's annoyed and someone who's disappointed and someone who's biting his head off in an interview, and okay, Clark supposes he can at least try.
"Lois once told me that those first few years you were here, everyone was in love with you," Richard says one evening, when Lois has gone shopping in Algiers and Jimmy has gone along to carry her packages. The plane's already stuffed with Lois's previous purchases, most of it stuff for Jason.
Clark isn't sure where the kid's supposed to keep it all. College isn't really a time in your life where you've got a lot of storage space to spare, generally. It wasn't for Clark, at any rate.
"Well, I guess Superman was pretty popular for a while." When he's wearing the costume, Clark doesn't mind so much. Getting cheered at. Having his picture taken.
"I can see the attraction," Richard says.
Clark's not sure what he's supposed to do with the comment. "Thank you."
"So are you and Lois - " Richard doesn't finish the question, possibly because he can't think of the right words.
He's not the only one, really. Superman and Lois - well, that's the kind of romance that's made headlines, isn't it? A superhero and an intrepid reporter. Clark and Lois - a different story.
And now Clark is both, and he's not sure at all where he's going to go from here, or even if he's going to get the chance to choose. People know, now. Things aren't going to be the same ever again.
"No," Clark says. "No, that's ... past. Over." There's still Jason, but then, Jason's Richard's son as much as Clark's. Moreso, in most of the ways that count.
"Good," Richard says, which seems a weird thing to say, not to say a little rude. Clark blinks, and Richard grins at him. "That means I've got a chance."
"With Lois?" Clark doesn't think it's going to be quite so simple.
"With you," Richard says.
Jimmy mostly tries for action pictures - Clark holding a schoolbus full of children over his head; Clark deflecting an avalanche; Clark preventing a bank robbery.
For himself, he takes pictures of landscapes, of Lois, of the local wildlife. Those don't even go on his blog; they're not about Clark, so they're not as interesting to the readers of his blog. Supposedly.
There's a picture of Richard, looking at Clark talking to one of the locals.
About 650,000 people look at it, and if they're halfway intelligent, Clark's pretty sure they all come to the exact same conclusion about him and Richard.
On second thought, perhaps it's just as well he's miles away from Metropolis.
Clark feels he's extremely predictable when it comes to romance. Richard is nothing like Lois, except for all the small ways that he is. They were engaged at one point; they do have quite a few things in common.
Like Lois, Richard's not easily impressed; unlike Lois, he's pretty forwards about sex, once Clark's indicated that it's on the table. Like Lois, Richard enjoys flying; unlike Lois, he's not satisfied to let Clark pick their destination all the time. Like Lois, Richard is strong and brave and beautiful; unlike Lois, Richard will never settle for letting a story do the work when he sees a chance to do it himself instead, by taking direct action and rather terrifying risks, in Clark's opinion.
He's not at all grateful when Clark shows up to rescue him either, the first few times, until Clark figures out that helping Richard works almost as well as saving him, and comes with the extra advantage of not getting Richard pissed off at him.
"Have you always known you were gay?" Lois asks in what White has predicted to be a ground-breaking interview, possible Pulitzer material.
Clark wishes there was some emergency he could run away to right now. "Well, I'm not really gay, as such," he says, and he can practically hear White and Lois both, screaming at him, because it's a perfect statement for annoying both people who are gay (or who think it's perfectly all right for others to be) and people who think being gay is fundamentally wrong. "I'm from another planet."
Lois blinks once, and Clark can see the headline. "You mean everyone on Krypton was gay?"
"Bisexual," Clark says, recognizing a cue when he hears one. "And yes, I suppose so. Love is love."
"You're playing with fire here, Clark," Lois says, looking serious. "People will judge you for this. I put this interview in the Planet, we're going to get death threats. Bomb scares. Suspicious packages in the mail. And that's just for running the article. You sure that's what you want?"
"It's not what I want," Clark says, lifting his chin and looking her straight in the eyes to make sure Jimmy can get a good shot to go with the quote. "But I think people deserve the truth and I hope that people will accept that this is who I am."
The Planet prints the interview, and Clark comes back to find his desk buried under mail. Letters, cards, packages - a few smell of cookies, and none of them seem to be ticking.
"It's a new era," White says. "Out with the old, in with the new."
People look at Clark a bit differently now, he notices, but not as if he scares them or as if they disapprove of who he is. It's more as if they're ... well. This could get to be a bit of a problem.
"So you're popular, so what?" Lois says, pitiless as usual. "Deal with it, Clark. Enjoy it."
"But - "
"It'll blow over."
" 'Everybody loves Superman'," Jimmy quotes, beaming.
"In another ten years or so," Lois says. "Maybe."