man bites dog
category: missing scene for "Sneeze"
disclaimer: Lois don't belong to me, I'm only borrowing her; no money is being made.
author's note: this was originally written and posted sans betaing for medie's "Because We're Awesome" all about the girls challenge on livejournal; it has now been properly beta'd, slightly altered and purposely held back until svgurl's "Lois Love Week"; a thousand thanks to the betas of this story, Novice and briee from DI. They are both incredibly awesome and this story wouldn't be what it is without either one of them. The opening line and Lois' closing remark come courtesy of briee. Any errors that remain are mine.
prompt: Lois Lane--the Inquisitor
summary: one fantastical headline, a grouchy editor, and an aspiring journalist all in one room.
She barreled past the secretary who tried to detain her, flinging open the door and slapping the newspaper on the desk of man she had come to see.
"Lois Lane," she said in introduction, ignoring the brief look of confusion on the editor's face. Composure regained, her offered hand was eyed with detached appraisal from behind a large metal desk that had seen better days.
"I know who you are. You're Senator Kent's Chief of Staff."
"No, I'm the reporter behind today's front page. Nice headline by the way," she replied sardonically as the headline in question "Global Warming or Alien Invasion?" stared back at them in 72 point font.
"Yeah, well, we didn't up our circulation by being all sweetness and light," He took the time to study her for a second, before continuing. "The headline is your hook. It's how you reel them in. We can afford to be a little more creative."
"You left creative and ran smack dab into Weekly World News territory the minute you started talking aliens. Who knew E.T. would make headlines in Metropolis?"
His amused snort annoyed her; unaware, he rose to slip a sheet of paper into a nearby shredder. "So people thought they were going to read about an alien invasion. And did they?"
"No," she admitted, shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
"Exactly, but they read the article. Logically, there's no such thing as aliens despite all the craziness that ensued on Black Thursday. But they still read the article, just so they could scratch aliens off that imaginary list they've been keeping in their heads."
Settling back into his seat, he leaned back and took a few moments to study her once more. The pencil in his hand tapped out a staccato beat on the desktop blotter.
"What are you doing here Lane? I haven't heard any rumors of you being booted off the Senator's staff. What's with the moonlighting?" His eyes crinkled ever so slightly in curiosity. Just as she had hoped, there was a journalist underneath the management job title and office space.
"I came by to get your opinion. I think I'm a bit biased right now. I'm still feeling the effects of the writing high. Oddly enough I liked the whole journalism thing. Room for improvement aside, do you think I can hack it?"
"You know the city editor who originally took your story could have answered that for you."
"I don't want to talk to the city editor. I want to talk to you. You're higher up on the food chain, Mr. Assistant Managing Editor."
That last little jab, for some unknown reason, unnerved him because at that moment the pencil he wouldn't stop tapping suddenly stopped.
"If you're looking for a mentor look elsewhere. I don't have the time or the patience."
His tone was brusque but she didn't even acknowledge his remark. She had already stated her intentions.
She didn't move to leave and there was some annoyance in the clipped manner in which he tidied up the documents on his desk.
"Your spelling is horrible sweetheart."
Well that certainly wasn't the response she expected. True, but unexpected.
"Ever heard of the spell check? Sure we've got copy editors but to a point." He stopped and let out a deep sigh. "OK, look all the department editors take care of their sections. I've got other priorities but I do take an interest in our front page. Spelling errors aside you addressed an angle no one else had done. In the end what got you in was that your story had a punchy quality to it. It was a fun read on what could have been just another story in an existing string of stories about all that craziness. That, and the city editor and I liked the way you constructed your narrative."
She couldn't suppress her smile at that last part.
"What? Just because we're not the Daily Planet doesn't mean we can't use big words. Yeah so we throw in a few Weekly World News items for flavoring, as you put it, but we cover the exact same city as that building over yonder with the big, shiny globe. And I'll tell you something else. It galls Pauline Kahn to no end that we're the number two newspaper in this city. Not the Journal or the Star, but us."
She couldn't help but feel a bit of kinship with that revelation. Chloe's sudden snobbishness had been bugging her lately, but for the most part she had chosen not to dwell on it too much. Although she would be lying if she said it didn't hurt, especially since for years Chloe had good-naturedly peddled her gusto for journalism her way. Now all of a sudden Chloe snubbed her nose at the sight of her own somewhat belated journalistic zeal. So much for the brief fantasy she had entertained of the two of them working side by side, hip deep in news copy and informants--Lane and Sullivan, Sullivan and Lane.
The sound of a throat being cleared redirected her attention back to the man before her.
"There's an old saying. When a dog bites a man it's not news. But when a man bites a dog...that's news. I'll tell you what, if you get any more man bites dog stories you bring them our way. We'll make it worth your while."
"Man bites dog, huh?" She picked up the newspaper she had first come in with, a small smirk playing on her lips. She looked at her name on the front page of the number two selling newspaper in Metropolis. Her mind was already combing over possibilities for her next front page story. As she turned to leave the office, she threw over her shoulder, "Bet that would make a hell of a headline."