4. Cool Thing
Title: Saving Superman
Disclaimer: DC owns Superman, Joss owns Buffy - Bryan Singer owns some of the plot - I own nothing.
Spoilers: Superman Returns, all of Buffy
Summary: Clark Kent had two women in his life that loved him, except only one knew all of his secrets.
A/N: Okay, flashback in a flashback time. Yay. Ironically, this was the first part of the story I had written… Saving Superman
4. Cool Thing
Dawn was exhausted. This whole trip was just exhausting. Between the baby, the flying nerves, running into Lois, and dragging up all those old feelings - it was just really rough. And despite said fears, Dawn felt herself slipping back into old memories. Two Years Ago
It had all been a stupid PR campaign that the Scoobies had thought up. Go to various cities and talk up the Summers Group. Dawn had been in charge of heading up the PR strategy for the Joyce Summers Home Project. The Joyce project, as Dawn had taken to calling it, was aimed at helping young single parents that found themselves with young slayers. The group hadn’t just focused on slayer issues, it’s goal had always been to help any single parent and keep families off the streets and away from the predators the slayers hunted nightly. The irony of her project had not been lost on Dawn.
Metropolis had been the third major city she’d been to on her PR trip. London had been first, and New York had been second. The Council had only found two slayers so far in Metropolis, but it didn’t hurt to have some system set up there just in case. First order of business had been to check on the facility and speak to the watcher who currently ran it.
Marie Knight was from the old line of watchers, so the big PR rush had been a daunting task for the woman. Here they were partially exposing themselves to the world at large, when she’d been taught that it was vital to keep their order hidden and apart from the larger world. So she had been extremely grateful that someone else was going to handle the interview.
“That woman makes me so tongue-tied every time I speak to her. She’s always digging, trying to find out the secrets we’re scrambling to keep,” Marie had blurted as she handed Dawn all of the statistics and day-to-day documents that would help her prepare for the interview.
“Don’t worry, Marie, I’ve handled tougher customers before,” Dawn chuckled. She had not just said that, had she? God, she was getting old.
“Not like Lois Lane,” Marie sighed. “Fighting vampires without slayer strength is easier than handling Ms. Lane.”
Dawn had set up the interview for the next afternoon at the Daily Planet offices. She’d planned to go to the Joyce House to meet with Candace Thorton and Philip McKay, the respective single parents of her two Metropolis area slayers around three. Sasha York, the slayer stationed in Metropolis, and Marie planned to take Candace’s fifteen year-old daughter Maya out on her first patrol tonight. Dawn would be going with them, and she just wanted to reassure the parents that their daughters were in safe hands.
But first she had to prep for her talk with the infamous Lois Lane. The reporter’s reputation certainly preceded her. Marie had given her updates on the programs they’d been instituting at the various Joyce House centers. In areas where the supernatural weirdness tended to be minimal and only one slayer was required, the Council actually went out of their way to keep it minimal. So projects like the Joyce House centers and Lehane Crisis centers flourished, keeping them solidly in the ‘good’ category of secret agencies.
Dawn had been so busy thinking about all of the meet and greets that she had to do that she hadn’t noticed the time. She slapped her laptop shut and stuffed it into her bag. With a quick wave to Marie, she skipped out of the small office. The trip to the row of community housing for her two young slayers was about ten blocks south of the office they kept in the heart of Metropolis. After the many hours in she’d been stuck in cars, planes and trains lately, Dawn was looking forward to walking. In Sunnydale, she’d walked nearly everywhere. And she liked walking.
She was enjoying her brisk pace and the feel of familiar concrete under her feet. Even though she’d let the time slip away from her, it was still bright out and afternoon sun trickled down on her through the shadows of skyscrapers. Her distraction with the change of pace didn’t go unnoticed as she gained two lanky shadows behind her. The cut of her designer blouse and fitted slacks coupled with her hefty bag made her look like ripe pickings for the two muggers.
As she neared the mouth of a nearby alleyway, one of them reached out for her shoulder. His grip was bruising and a gasp of shock slipped from her before she could fully process what was happening. The second attacker glanced over his shoulder to make sure no one had noticed as Dawn’s survival instincts kicked in. Her heel snapped with the force she’d used to drive it into the instep of the man holding her. As she rounded to connect her elbow into his face she found herself colliding with air and reeling toward the brick wall.
Another hand jerked out to stop her impact, and her mouth opened in another gasp of shock. A tall, handsome man with dark ebony hair stood before her with concern in his eyes wearing -
“Are you really
wearing spandex?” she blurted out. His only response was a tiny quirk of his lips. “Who are
“That doesn’t matter,” Once again - the cute little smile coupled with vagueness. “Are you okay, miss?”
“I could have handled them,” Dawn apparently could not control her tongue, however. Her weight shifted down on her broken heel and made her seem short next to him. Something she hadn’t been used to with a guy since she was fourteen. “But thank you for saving me the trouble.”
Normally she would resent anyone
having stepped in to save poor little Dawnie, but he’d been sincere and even if he was wearing really weird clothes it had been the thought that counted. It seemed to be a genuine concern, not an irrational one like she’d had to handle with the Scoobies and Angel’s crew. He didn’t know her from Adam, and he’d stepped in to help without being asked. How many people did that nowadays?
“Well, Mr. No-Name, I’m Dawn Summers,” She smiled and stuck out her hand feeling slightly foolish when he just frowned at her.
“They’ve started calling me Superman,” he seemed almost embarrassed by that admission, which kicked up the cute factor.
“Really? Might have something to do with the S,” Dawn chuckled.
“It might,” his head jerked to the left suddenly, and he glanced back down at her. “I have to go now. Will you be able -”
“I’ll be fine,” she smiled, not really wanting to end this weird conversation with him. And then she remembered she had places to be also. “No more dark alleys or dangerous placed for me. Honest.” He didn’t look convinced. “Scouts honor. Honestly, why would I lie to you, Supes?”
It seemed like she couldn’t say one single thing that didn’t sound cocky or asinine around the man. And she even winced when she said it. Superman gave her that little smile again, making her feel a little goofy as he crouched suddenly and flew off
into the sky.
“Holy shit, he can fly
,” she gasped. “How is that possible?” ~*~*~
Two days later, after postponing the interview for the next day and Maya’s hunt for the following night due to Dawn’s afternoon being spent at the police station pressing charges against the two muggers, she found herself staring up at the impressive Daily Planet offices. She entered the elevator in a crush of human bodies, pressing uncomfortably close to tall man in the corner who was flipping through a file folder.
The elevator emptied more and more by floor until it was just her and the man. Moving further apart, she glanced up at his face and did a double take. He wore an ill-fitting suit, his hair was greased back and parted differently, his shoulders slumped as if he was trying to make himself smaller, and he wore the thickest set of black rimmed glasses she’d ever seen. But he looked a hell of a lot like the caped wonder who’d come to her rescue days before.
The doors sprung open and she followed him slowly to his desk. She noticed the pretty brunette woman out of the corner of her eye but kept her own eyes on the man before her.
“Excuse me, but have we met before?” Dawn asked with a tiny grin.
The man’s head jerked up and the folder nearly
fell out of his hands at her words and expression. He caught it at the very last second, the papers packed within staying neatly in place without nary a one escaping. Dawn glanced down into his clear blue eyes and knew
it was him. She drew the breath to speak but was cut off by the brunette woman.
“Miss Summers, you’re early,” was said dryly as she pushed passed his desk without pause to extend a hand to her. “Lois Lane, we spoke on the phone?”
“Yes, Dawn Summers,” her eyes flicked over to Superman. “And you are?”
“That’s Kent - “
Kent? Your writing partner?” Dawn remembered reading his name in the articles she’d devoured about her costumed crusader in the last forty-eight hours.
“Yes,” Lois seemed as shocked as Clark that Dawn knew his name. She glanced down at her watch. “As I was trying to say, I’m afraid I’m going to have to reschedule the interview.”
“Oh?” Dawn cocked her head to the side.
“Not that your story about the Joy House -”
House,” Dawn corrected.
“Sorry, the Joyce House isn’t important, it’s just that the mayor has called an emergency press conference and I’ve been assigned to cover it,” Lois gave her a tight smile.
“That’s unfortunate. I’m only going to be in town through the night. My flight leaves in the morning, so it will just be impossible
to reschedule,” Dawn’s eyes ticked to Clark. “Has Mr. Kent been assigned to the conference as well?”
Lois’s eyes seemed to brighten a bit at the idea, while Clark frowned at Dawn. She turned to face her colleague, blocking Dawn’s view of her face. Even though she couldn’t see was Lois was doing, by the reaction on Clark’s face Dawn could guess. God knew, she’d used a similar face on Andrew enough times.
“He hasn’t,” Lois smiled brightly. “I’m sorry that I didn’t get the chance to discuss the Joyce house further with you, but I’m positive that Clark here will do exceedingly well in my place. If you’ll excuse me. It was so nice meeting you.”
“I highly doubt that,” Dawn muttered under her breath as she turned back to the frowning Clark. “You can fess up.”
“I’m sorry?” He sputtered, straightening a little bit.
“She gave you my file days ago, didn’t she?” Clark sagged a bit at her words. Smiling at him, she leaned closer and lowered her voice. “Of course, that means you knew who I was when we met in the alley.”
“You know, it’s really crowded in here. I know the perfect spot for us to conduct the interview,” he cleared his throat. “If you’ll come with me?”
“After you,” Dawn grinned. ~*~*~
A coffee shop or his apartment seemed like the ideal place for him interrogate her. The rooftop of the Planet? That only made her think he might push her off. For two whole seconds. He licked his lips nervously as she leaned against the ledge.
“How in the world
does she not see it?” Dawn shook her head.
?” Clark tried to play it off.
“I’m not stupid. I’ve seen the geek-to-chic transformation before, Supes
, and I’m not buying it,” Dawn pushed away from the wall and strode over to him. He straightened as she reached up and removed the glasses from his face. “How can the entire world be so blind?”
“I’m not -”
“I get the need for the secret identity, really, I do. But is everyone
fooled by the slouch and the glasses?” She frowned.
“I’m not -”
“It’s okay,” a smile bloomed on her lips. “What I say now is in the strictest confidence and completely off the record. Got me?”
“Of course,” her switch in topic had him frowning down at her.
“You’ve been digging into the Joyce House because Ms. Lane thinks we’re a big scam trying to rip someone off. I know she’s bullied Marie to the point of a nervous breakdown and the fact that I stepped in to speak on her behalf irritated Ms. Lane to no end,” She paused. “How am I doing so far?”
“Reasonably well,” he gave one of those cute little smiles that had her own smile widening.
“Thought so. When I came on board and then had to suddenly postpone the interview she got pissy, which is why she made the big show of being assigned to a hotter story. The fact that you were already reading up on me
when we met today gives that away. She didn’t even bother after she knew Marie wasn’t going to do the interview, did she?”
“No,” Clark said slowly.
“You know about Sunnydale. How it’s death toll was bigger than even this city’s? And how it blipped off the map unexpectedly?”
“And how your sister was involved in some pretty high level crimes mentioned in the few remaining records,” Clark crossed his arms, looking more like Superman than the reporter in that moment.
“My sister is the reason that town wasn’t obliterated off the map sooner than it was,” Dawn crossed her own arms.
“You led a young girl into a bad part of town and came back with blood and dirt on your clothes last night,” Clark countered.
“But we came out alive and so did the two people they’d taken,” Dawn answered back. Maya had said she’d felt like someone was watching her last night. She’d just assumed it was a stray vamp who’d escaped the nest before they’d cleaned house.
“Why weren’t there any bodies?”
“Why do you wear spandex?”
“I like the feel, and it’s aerodynamic.”
“They were vampires,” Dawn snorted at his answer.
“Vampires aren’t real,” Clark frowned.
“Clark, you’re an alien
who can fly
. I really don’t think you have room to talk,” she whispered, leaning closer to him.
“How can you be so sure you know who I am?” Clark closed the space between them.
“How can you be so sure that I don’t?” she grinned, leaning away from him. “But we’re here to talk about Joyce House.”
“It’s a front for something else,” Clark countered.
“Yes and no,” Dawn shrugged. “Everything we promote is real. All our services and programs are legit and privately funded through an organization that has been only partially giving back to the community for thousands of years.”
“Yeah,” she nodded. “A few years ago, that organization was obliterated and left in the hands of my sister and her mentor. We had money to burn, people to provide for, and enough battle scars to know how we could best help them. An old friend of hers named Anne had a lot of experience with outreach programs and recommended ways we could do more good without letting the money corrupt us. So, we made the Joyce house, and other safe havens like that.”
“There’s really no ulterior motive?”
“Why call them the Joyce Houses?”
“It’s named after my mother,” Dawn smiled sadly. “She made our home a safe haven - not just for my sister and I, but for our friends as well. No matter what bad things came after us, we were nearly almost always safe in that house. And the program is made to help single parents like her cope with protecting themselves and their children from bad things.”
“And other things,” she shrugged. “We’re trying to do good things, just like you are, Superman.” ~*~*~*~
Looking back on it - two years gone and what felt like a lifetime between - Dawn figured it was in that moment on the top of the Daily Planet that she’d started to slip into love with Clark Kent. Not because he’d saved her while wearing a spandex suit, not because he was a hot alien, not because he was doing good deeds, but because in the second she’d spoken about her mother, Clark Kent had gotten that look in his eyes that made her realize something. He understood the loss of a parent and how it could drive you to do great things. Later, as they grew to know each other through friendship and that failed romantic relationship, she learned about his fathers and how they each wanted their son to do great and amazing things.
She watched the urban sprawl slip away into green fields, ignoring the tears forming in her eyes at the memories.