By Susan (101757,firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: Kidnappings in Metropolis are on the rise. And when Jimmy goes missing, Perry gets worried and sends Lois and Clark to find him. In the process, they find out something about each other. A story set near the beginning of the second season.
Okay FOLCs<g>, this piece of creative writing is really my first attempt at fanfic. I've been thinking about writing one for a while now, but two things prevented me from doing so
1) I thought I didn't have the time.
2) I've read some absolutely brilliant fanfics, and this was a really daunting task. I only hope I'm about half way towards writing a fanfic of that quality.
Thanks to everyone at SCIFIMEDTWO, without whose help I would still have questions without answers, and without whom I would have missed a lot of fun times. Val, my partner in quoting<s>, Pam, Rae, Sarah, Mercury, Netty, Dj and everyone else. I apologise for not remembering all of your names.
All characters the property of DC comics, no infringement intended … except for the 'small curl of hair' that Clark has. Personally, I think we fanfic writers should claim it as our own<bg>.
*These* indicate thoughts, and _these_ indicate emphasis.
This is set near the beginning of season two.
This story is dedicated to my best friend David. He has absolutely no interest in L&C, but listens to me babble on about it for hours anyway. Thanks DavyBaby.
Please please send comments, good and bad (as well as recipes for double fudge crunch bars).
Clark huddled in pain on the cold cement floor. Being invulnerable, he had never had to worry about feeling anything less than comfortably warm, but with his powers diminishing, he was really aware of the cold for the first time. It was an interesting experience; this was another thing he'd never been able to feel. At another time he would have spent some minutes trying to get used to it, but he didn't have that option right now. The man walked towards him, and the kryptonite he held sent another wave of pain coursing through Clark's body.
"Clark?!" Lois asked "What's wrong? What's happening to you?" She kneeled down next to him and tenderly brushed aside the small curl of hair on his forehead.
Clark groaned, partly because of the kryptonite, and partly because he had never told Lois about his alter-ego. Talk about bad timing. "Lois … I need to tell you something … "
"Haven't you figured it out yet, Miss Lane?" the man inquired, his accent frighteningly unfamiliar. She looked up.
"Who … who is that?" she demanded of the stranger.
The man stepped out of the shadows, and his bearded face was slowly revealed.
"Who are you?" she demanded. There was something about his face … it looked familiar somehow …
"Oh that isn't important for now, Miss Lane. Surely you must know about Mr. Kent. You spend so much time with him, I would have thought by now that it would be obvious."
"What do you mean?" she inquired, confused by everything. All she knew was that for some reason Clark was hurt, and she had to do something to help him.
"Why don't I show you." Slowly he walked towards Clark. Her eyes widened, and she lunged in front of Clark. "You _stay_ away from him." They were all shocked at the emotion in her voice; herself included. But right now she didn't care. The only thing she understood at this moment was that she had to protect Clark.
"I just wanted to show you something." He put his hand in his pocket and brought out a small piece of kryptonite. She stared at it in shock.
"No … " she whispered. Clark was Superman! Clark was Superman? Clark … Suddenly it all made sense. Those lame excuses he always gave, why he was always rushing off. He was saving someone! All at once she was filled with anger and relief.
The stranger tried to push her out of the way. But she fought back. She caught him by surprise, kicking the kryptonite out of his hand, then kneeing him in the stomach. He gasped as he bent over, but he recovered quickly. "You stupid, little … I warned Lex about you. He didn't realise what a little manipulator you are!" He laughed at the irony of it. "And he always prided himself on his character assessment!" He smiled. "But I could tell from the beginning that you would be the cause of his downfall."
"I wasn't the cause," she replied "Lex created his own downfall by his jealousy and greed. His thirst for even more power!!"
The man ignored her and took something out of his pocket. It was a gun.
Lois felt the fear rising up in her throat. She would _not_ let anything happen to Clark. He was her partner, her best friend, her … besides, she still had to give him a good tongue lashing about him being Superman, and she certainly wasn't going to let him die to miss that!!
He pointed the gun at Clark. Didn't this man learn anything? Lois had kicked the kryptonite out his hand, and she could do it again with the gun. What Lois didn't know was that he was far cleverer than she gave him credit for …
9 days earlier. The Daily Planet, Tuesday, 8:17am
It was an average morning at the Daily Planet. Everyone was bustling around or typing away furiously on their keyboard. Voices buzzed all over the newsroom, but the only voice that could be heard clearly was a very familiar one.
"Jimmy!! Where are those photos from the police shoot out??!"
Jimmy groaned. The photo lab was backed up, and they had left the glorious job of telling Perry to Jimmy. He was not looking forward to it.
He hesitantly walked over to Perry's office. Perry was examining something on his clipboard. "Umm … chief?"
"Oh, good, Jimmy. Where are those photos? We need them for the front page."
"Er … well … actually … chief … they're," he took a breath and decided to spurt it all out at once. Kind of a 'tell him it now and it's all over' thing. "… not ready yet. The lab's backed up because there seems to be something wrong with a batch of developing fluid, and they can't develop them without it." *what an idiot* he thought. I just stated something, and then I restated it. * … a batch of developing fluid, and they can't develop them without it.* Talk about stating the obvious. He decided to get past it by smiling brightly at Perry.
*What's wrong with that boy today?* Perry thought. First he talks inanely about the photos, now he's smiling at me as if he's had a 10,000 volt electric shock pass through his body. "Oh … okay Jimmy. Do you know when they will be able to develop them?"
"They said about … three hours. Maybe four."
"Four hours!!??" Perry shouted.
"Or maybe three!" Jimmy quickly added again. He didn't want to get shouted at a lot. Especially today.
The boy looked odd again. Perry decided to give him a break. "Well … you let me know when they're done, okay Jimmy?"
Jimmy looked extremely relieved. "Yeah, sure chief." and with that he smiled again and practically scurried out of the office.
Perry stared after him. *Something strange going on here.*
Lois was on a rampage. Clark could tell as soon as she left the elevator. Those in the newsroom who recognised the signs made sure they stayed well out of her 'rampage' range, which extended quite far. Except for Clark. He knew by now that she needed someone to vent her anger on, and seeing as he was invincible he decided it was worth the risk.
"Morning Lois," he said cheerily. She looked at him and glared as if demanding to know how anyone could be so darn happy this morning. "What's wrong?" he asked as though he hadn't known she was in a bad mood in the first place.
She threw her handbag down on her desk. "You would not BELIEVE the morning I have had. First of all my alarm didn't go off, I mean, how was I supposed to know the batteries would run out??!! They should invent some sort of clock that lets you know when the batteries are running low or something … "
"Actually I think they hav-"
" … so anyway I woke up late which isn't too bad in itself. I can cope with being half an hour late. BUT," by now she was gesturing wildly with her hands " … then I open my mail only to find that I have absolutely no money in my account!! So of course I phoned the bank to complain. There should be nearly $900 in my account! THEN they tell me that they have to see me personally to deal with it, only they can't see me until tomorrow. Can you believe this? A bank that won't see you until tomorrow. Whoever heard of such a thing??" Clark wisely decided not to answer. "And THEN, I go out to head for work, and MY CAR WON'T START!! I manage to call someone out, and they tell me it'll cost a lot of money to get it fixed. Money, which at the moment, I don't have!!" She slumped down in her chair.
Clark studied her, wondering if she was finished. It appeared so. She sat there, resting her chin in her hand, staring at her monitor grumpily. This was one unhappy woman. She needed cheering up, and he was only too happy to oblige.
He opened a drawer in his desk and took something out. He stood up and walked over to her. She looked up at him sulkily.
"What?" she asked. He showed her the item.
She stared at it in amazement. "How did you … ?"
"I noticed that you didn't have any left 'hidden' in your drawer, and luckily for you I had one in my drawer."
"Have you been looking through my drawer??"
"No. I have my ways … " he said mysteriously. Lois grabbed the item from him.
"No problem." he replied. It was amazing the effect a double fudge crunch bar could have on her. He watched the look of bliss on her face after she took her first bite.
At first she felt a bit embarrassed getting so excited about a chocolate bar in front of Clark. She still had some dignity. Then embarrassment gave way to indifference and she decided to enjoy herself while she could. Besides, she loved chocolate!! It always cheered her up. So did Clark. Here she was, devouring a chocolate bar, while completely ignoring him. She looked up at him guiltily. *How does he put up with me?*
"You already said that."
She smiled. "I know … it's just, well thanks for being there. You always know how to cheer me up. Thanks for being my partner."
The look on his face was priceless. Up went the eyebrows. Had his jaw not been attached to his face she suspected that she would have had to scrape it off the floor with a fish slice.
To say that Clark was surprised was something of an understatement. Lois almost never thanked him for being her partner. Most of the time she didn't even want one. Well … actually one time she had admitted that she was getting used to him, but it had only been the once.
Lois didn't really know why she had said it. As he walked back to his desk, she was worried that she had scared him off. *Now why would that worry me?*
Her thoughts were interrupted as Perry came up to her. "Mornin' Lois. Nice of you to show up."
She looked at him apologetically. "Sorry Perry. I had a terrible morning."
"I heard. I think the whole newsroom did!"
She blushed slightly and looked over at Clark. "Yeah… well … have you got anything for me this morning?"
"Afraid not, Lois." Perry responded "This week's been so slow for news that it feels like time is going backwards! I keep expecting the King to come back from the dead."
Lois rolled her eyes. Trust Perry to over exaggerate.
Clark studied Lois' reaction with amusement. She exaggerated more than anyone else in the newsroom!! Sure, her news stories were always correct in detail, but in other matters she could tell tall tales with the best of them.
"Well why don't you and Clark go out and hunt down a story?"
Clark and Lois looked at each other and shrugged.
It was a hot day outside. It was the middle of summer, and although it was not unbearably hot, it was hot enough. Clark figured that the weather probably had something to do with Lois' earlier bad mood. As they walked along, a thought entered Clark's head.
"Hey, where are we going?"
"I'm not sure," Lois said. "Perry was right, nothing much is happening. How about we contact Bobby Bigmouth and find out if he knows anything?"
"Sounds like a plan."
"Yeah, well it's a plan without a car." she mumbled.
He only smiled.
Centennial Park, Tuesday, 3:01pm
"I can't believe we had to wait this long to see him!"
The smell of the food was driving Lois mad. She inhaled deeply. Her stomach growled. Clark's head jerked up, and he smiled at her. *That must have been really loud for him to hear that*. Determined not to seem embarrassed she looked at him, daring him to say something.
Lois let out a small scream as Bobby came up behind her.
"You know Lois, it's gonna be hard to keep these meetings private if you insist on screaming at me everytime we meet."
She chose to ignore his remark. "Got anything good, Bobby?"
"Well that depends. Have you got anything good for me?"
With a sigh Lois handed the bag of food to him. He opened it up. "Oh great! Tacos!"
*How can anyone be that obsessed with food?* Lois thought, choosing to forget her own obsession with a certain chocolate bar.
"Okay guys, here's the deal. As you probably know, approximately 10 people go missing in Metropolis every week."
Clark and Lois nodded. They already knew this. It was a statistical fact.
Bobby continued. "But I've heard it going round that some of these people aren't just packing up and leaving one night. Some of them are being taken by force."
Clark interrupted Bobby. "But that's a fact Bobby. Of all the people that go missing, it's inevitable that a percentage of them will be kidnapped, and will never be seen again. I wish it weren't true, but it is."
"I know that Clark, but I'm talking about a high percentage. A *very* high percentage."
Lois and Clark looked at each other gravely.
Jimmy Olsen's apartment, Tuesday, 8:56pm
Jimmy Olsen sat in front of the television, flicking through the channels.
He stared at the screen dumbfounded. *It's amazing. There are so many channels and there's nothing on!* He picked at the dinner on his plate, but the spaghetti really didn't appeal to him. To be honest, he hadn't felt very hungry all day. Putting his dinner to one side, he got up from the couch and walked over to the window of his small apartment. It wasn't much of a view, but it usually helped him to relax. Not tonight though.
Today was his dad's birthday. As usual, he wouldn't see him. Jack Olsen was a very busy person. He flew around the world, and seemed to spend all of his time in endless meetings. The last time Jimmy had seen him, he had been changing from one flight to another. Oh he always got the postcards his father sent, but it wasn't the same. He wanted to give him a birthday card. He wanted to give him a gift. He wanted *so much* just to spend some time with his dad. It had to be longer than a couple of hours between flights and appointments. What was it that Clark called it? Quality time. Yeah, he wanted … _needed_ some quality time with his dad. Was that so much to ask?
He heard a sound behind him, and figured that it was just the television. That one mistake would cost the lives of several people …
The Daily Planet, Wednesday, 10:09am
Lois finished the paragraph she was working on. She was bored. Completely bored. The day had barely even started and she wanted it to be over already.
She hit the return button and stood up to get herself some coffee. At the coffee machine she pondered over what Bobby had told her yesterday. After they had returned from the meeting, she and Clark had tried to dig up some juicy information. Unfortunately they hadn't seemed to come up with anything. All they kept getting were statistics. Boring, dry statistics. There didn't seem to be any evidence that a high proportion of those who disappeared were kidnapped. Sure, the facts could have been very well hidden, but the people behind it would have had to have done a very good job. Besides, Bobby _could_ be wrong. He usually brought her good information, but even he couldn't get the truth all the time.
As Lois added a sweetener to her coffee, she looked around the newsroom. She was glad that she worked here. She loved her job even through the boring stories, like the one she was writing now.
Eventually her eyes fell on her partner. He was sitting at his desk, flicking through some papers. He kept flicking back and forth, as if the answer to what he was searching for would be there if he kept looking hard enough. *He looks so sweet when he scrunches up his forehead like that*. She had a small smile on her lips at she brought her coffee cup up to her mouth.
The smile got even bigger as he dropped some papers on the floor and had to bend over to retrieve them. She got a good view of his _lovely_ behind.
She yelped and dropped most of the contents of her coffee cup on her front.
She whirled around to see Carl from travel gaping at her.
"Oh, I'm sorry!" he quickly exclaimed.
Lois was peeling her soaked blouse from off of her skin, unaware that she was attracting attention to the parts of her body she kept under the blouse.
"_Just_ … tell me what you want."
"Well," he began, looking everywhere but at Lois' skin hugging top. "I just wondered if you know where Jimmy is."
"No. I don't." With that, she whacked her mug down on the counter, and stomped down the ramp towards Perry's office.
"Perry … "
"Yeah Lois?" Perry didn't look up from the copy he was reading on his desk.
"I'm gonna go home and change."
He started to look up. "Why do you want to … " the words died on his lips. "Oh. Have a bit of a coffee spill?"
"To say the least." Almost the whole front of her blouse was drenched in coffee. She was just lucky that the coffee hadn't been boiling hot!
"Sure, go ahead Lois. But can you take Kent with you and check out Jimmy's apartment? He hasn't come in yet. I've tried phoning but no one's picking up. Knowing Jimmy, he's probably got the TV on so loud that it's blocking out the sound of the phone ringing. How that boy ever sleeps in all that racket is beyond me … "
Lois nodded as she walked out of his office.
Lois Lane's car, Wednesday, 10:32am
When he had first seen Lois in her coffee soaked blouse, he had tried his best not to smile, really he had. Even so a tiny smirk had made it's way through. When she looked at him though, he made sure to look indifferent about the whole incident. Now of course, he had a completely different problem.
He was finding it increasingly difficult not to look at her blouse. Or what her blouse covered up. Or now that it was wet, what her blouse barely covered up. What made it worse was that she seemed completely unaware of the way she looked. He'd just build up enough confidence to risk a quick glance, then one of two things would happen. Either she'd start talking to him, or his conscience would kick in. He remembered this happening before, when he and Lois had gone undercover as newlyweds at the Lexor Hotel. She got the bed, and he was left with the couch. Using his superpowers, he had listened to her getting ready for bed. The sounds were driving him mad, and he had decided to just sneak a peek. He had started to use him x-ray vision, then at the last second he couldn't go through with it. She deserved more than to be ogled when she didn't even realise someone was watching. It hadn't helped him much later when he had to wake her up in the middle of the night. She'd been naked under the silk sheets!! That had given him some pretty vivid dreams in the past year or so.
"What are you smiling about?"
Brought back from his reminiscing by her voice, he looked at her, being careful to keep his gaze above her neck. "Oh nothing important. I was just remembering something."
After Lois got changed at her apartment they headed over to Jimmy's. He was quite upset that she was no longer wearing a literally see through top, but he thought he shouldn't mention it to her. When he had first realised that he would have to stay in the car with her looking like that all the way to her apartment, he had frantically offered her his jacket. Frankly, he didn't trust himself. But she had refused, stating that his jacket would get coffee over it too. He had told her that he _really_ didn't mind, but she had insisted. Well, who could argue with Lois Lane?
Now that she was changed though, the thought of going through all that again didn't seem quite so bad.
Jimmy Olson's apartment, Wednesday, 11:13am
"Jimmy?" Lois called out but no one answered. She could hear the TV blaring through the walls. *Perry was probably right about this*. She dug her spare keys out of her bag.
"How many keys do you have on that keyring?" Clark stared in amazement at the huge pile of keys she had. "And how do you know which one is Jimmy's?"
"Clark," she started looking through all the keys she had for Jimmy's one "it's always good practice to have a copy of all the keys that might come in handy. For emergencies and … things."
"Yeah, but if someone stole your purse they could get into half the homes in this city!!"
"Don't be silly, Clark."
"I'm not being silly."
"Yes you are, and … ah hah!" she found the key and pointed it proudly at Clark. It had a 'J' written on it with nail varnish.
"Boy am I impressed." he quipped.
She ignored him and unlocked the door. "Jimmy?" she peered around the door, but he wasn't there. "Maybe he's in the bedroom … " she started to search around his small apartment.
Clark walked past the TV. There was an advertisement showing a new chocolate bar. He quickly turned it off before Lois could see or hear it. "Any luck?"
"Nope." she called back from the bedroom. "Oh my God … "
"What is it?" he asked, quickly running into the bedroom.
"He owns a lava lamp. What do people see in them?"
Clark's heart slowed down when he realised that she was just being Lois.
Suddenly his superhearing tuned in. Someone was coming towards Jimmy's apartment. They seemed to be talking on the phone to someone. If he listened carefully enough …
" … stop worrying about it, okay? I'll take care of it." He snapped his mobile phone shut. Using his x-ray vision, Clark could see what the man looked like. He just caught a glimpse of his bearded face when he realised something else. *He's got his own key!* He didn't know who he was, but he knew he wasn't Jimmy.
He quickly grabbed Lois and dragged her into Jimmy's closet. Luckily he had placed his hand over her mouth, or she would have given them away. He managed to close the closet door just as the man unlocked the front door.
What the heck was he up to?? Lois wanted to ask him, but his hand was still over her mouth. Then she heard it. The creak. She froze. Eyes wide, she nodded at Clark, letting him know that she understood. He quietly released her. They both listened intently over the next couple of minutes. What was the person up to?? She didn't think it was Jimmy. He would have switched on the TV as soon as he entered the apartment.
The person seemed to wander around the apartment. Then there was a scraping sound, and something was thrown into the sink.
Then there was absolute silence. She knew the person hadn't left, but why wasn't he making any noise? Maybe he heard us?? But how? She was sure neither one of them had made a sound.
It was only now that she realised that she was pressed right up against Clark. She had been listening so intently, she hadn't really paid attention to her new surroundings. *Why didn't I notice before what a great body he has?* Who was she kidding? She knew he had a great body, she'd just never admitted it to herself before. Okay, so she'd admitted that he had a great butt, but that doesn't mean that the whole body was great. But it was. And his aftershave was driving her crazy. She had to get control of herself.
If she had known that Clark was feeling the exact same thing, what was left of her self control would have gone right out the metaphorical window.
Since when could a stomach be so exciting? She was standing in an awkward position and Clark had one arm around her to make sure she didn't fall. This meant that his hand was just touching her bare stomach. Her top had lifted somewhat in their hurry to hide, and he was losing a fighting battle with his hormones. *Come on. You're the man of steel. You can get through this.*
She wanted to kiss him. She'd never wanted anything more in her life than to kiss him right now. But she couldn't. If she moved the stranger might hear them, and that would give them away. But wasn't that part of the excitement? Getting caught? She almost convinced herself to kiss him, but she didn't. It wouldn't be so bad being caught kissing him, but it would if the person in Jimmy's apartment turned out to be a mass murderer or psychopath.
Eventually, they heard what sounded like the door opening and closing. Although they could barely see anything, she moved her head slightly, to enquire if the stranger had gone.
"I think so." Clark whispered.
"Oh." she replied, whispering as well. "Well, we'd better stay here for a minute longer just in case they haven't gone." It was a lousy excuse and she knew it. *God Lane, you must be getting desperate. Lying to your partner, just so you can spend another minute feeling how solid his muscles are and … oh God!*
His response was what surprised both of them.
They both knew the stranger had gone. They were positive of it. But they stayed there anyway. And there, in amongst the clothes, year books, photos, knick knacks, even though they could barely see each other, Clark Kent kissed Lois Lane for what was really the first time.
They just melted into the kiss. Tentative at first, they explored each other. But then the tentativeness exploded into need and the kiss became driven by a mutual passion. They had both waited for this for _so_ long. They knew this moment had been coming for a very long time.
His hands ran feverently through her hair, and her hands returned the favour to his body. It just felt so right.
They got a rude awakening when Clark lost some of his grip on Lois. She fell through the unlocked wardrobe door, pulling him with her.
They studied each other. Her top button had somehow come undone, and her hair was dishevelled from his hands running through it.
His hair was equally as dishevelled as hers, and his tie had gone missing somewhere along the way.
They both started laughing.
Lois Lane's car, Wednesday, 11:39am
As she drove along, Lois tried desperately to think of anything except for the kiss. *The kiss* The _kiss_. That was what she would call it from now on; the _kiss_. She sighed a little dreamily, then remembering that Clark was in the car she abruptly stopped. *Think of something else. Think about how happy you are that you've got your car back. Think about the fresh stash of double fudge crunch bars you've got hidden in your purse. Just think of something other than the _kiss_.*
She and Clark hadn't spoken since they had got back into the car. For a moment, in the closet, all of their emotional barriers had come tumbling down. For that instant they stopped hiding from each other. But as soon as they had left Jimmy's apartment, her barriers had snapped back up. She had spent so many years building them and perfecting them, that no kiss, no matter how good it was, would bring them down forever. She was terrified. Clark was her best friend. Her partner. She didn't want to lose that because of one little kiss. *But what a kiss it had been.* Shut up!! This is stupid, having an argument with yourself …
Clark was having a similar conversation with himself. He was worried that he had scared her off. What if he had gone too far? The silence in her car was worse than if she shouted at him. What was she thinking? The kiss had been good though. The kiss had been _really_ good. Better than what he had hoped for, and he had hoped for it a lot. He couldn't stop thinking about it. The more he thought about it though, the more he realised that he hadn't taken advantage of her. She had wanted the kiss as much as she had. She had responded as passionately as he had. But just because she responded to one kiss, that didn't mean that she was ready to commit to him.
Perry White's Office, The Daily Planet, Wednesday, 12:03pm
"So no sign of him then?"
"Sorry Chief. It just seems like he left for some reason. It must have been pretty quickly if he left his dinner behind uneaten. Then a man came into his apartment. For some reason he emptied Jimmy's uneaten dinner into the bin, and then put the plate and fork in the sink."
"But why would anyone do that?"
"I've no idea," Clark replied "but he must have had a good reason."
"How do you know it was a he?" Lois asked.
"The stranger in Jimmy's apartment. How do you know it was a he?"
Clark quickly tried to think of a response. "Uh … well … I mean I just _assumed_ … "
Perry looked at them. "I hope he's alright … you were fortunate that he _or_ she," he said shooting a quick look at Lois "didn't see you."
They both started blushing and avoided looking at each other.
"Yeah, um … well we just got lucky." Clark winced at the double entrende. Lois realised what he had said as well.
"Oh, what he means is that we were able to hide from the stranger."
"I know what he meant Lois." *Now this is interesting. Why are these two suddenly so shy around each other?* He knew there had been something between Lois and Clark for a long time. It was very obvious that Clark was in love with her, but Lois' feelings were less clear. He secretly suspected that Lois felt the same way, but she fought so hard against it. Something must have happened. He smiled. *I think I know what that something is.* Then he thought about the situation with Jimmy and frowned.
"Well let's try and find out what happened, shall we?"
The next week passed fairly quickly. Lois, Clark and Perry contacted all of Jimmy's friends and relatives that they were aware of or could reach. They had no luck contacting Jimmy's father. They contacted hospitals, police stations, anywhere they could think of, but nothing turned up. The police eventually listed him as a missing person, but they didn't try to look for him. They thought he was another young man who had been hit by wanderlust and just took off. There was nothing that pointed to another reason. They didn't take Lois and Clark's explanation seriously. For all the police knew, Jimmy came back to his apartment to collect something, cleaned off his plate and left. Clark couldn't tell them that he knew that it wasn't Jimmy who had come to the apartment. How would he explain it without giving himself away? That was part of what was so infuriating about being a superhero. He knew the truth and couldn't tell anyone about it. Not even Lois.
After a few days of acting stiffly around each other, both Lois and Clark relaxed when they realised that they weren't going to pounce on each other at the nearest opportunity. No matter how much they wanted to. They hadn't discussed it, but they both seemed to agree that they should try to resolve their situation after they found out what had happened to Jimmy. They slipped back into their old routine; Clark would tease Lois, and she would be sarcastic back to him. But no matter how hard they tried, neither of them could forget about the kiss.
Location, time and date unknown.
Jimmy slowly woke from his uncomfortable sleep on the floor. He kept his eyes closed; he didn't want his captors to know he was awake yet. Anything he could do to surprise them or learn more about them would be to his advantage. He calculated that he had been here about a week now. He wasn't sure though, he never saw any daylight. Every day they brought him two meals and some water. A bucket in the corner was used for facilities, and they removed it and emptied it once a day. They didn't seem to wash it out though, because it was starting to smell.
He was usually left in the room by himself, but when his captors did enter they never spoke to him, except when they told him to do something.
When he had first been brought here he had fought against them. Kicking and screaming, he hadn't been easy to knock out again. He wasn't quite as hysterical now. He had decided it would be best if he saved up his energy. And the way he saw it, the less he got knocked out, the better.
The Daily Planet, Thursday, 7:59pm
The first thing Clark looked for when he returned to the newsroom was Lois. He spotted her sitting in the conference room. She was by herself so he headed over to her.
She didn't look up as the door opened. She knew it was him. Ever since the _kiss_ she seemed to know whenever he was in the room, or whenever he was looking at her. It felt strange at first, but she was getting used to it. If she had been completely honest with herself (which she wasn't), she would have admitted that she had started experiencing this before the kiss.
He sounded hesitant. They had pretty much fallen back into their old routine, but something still wasn't right between them. She looked up at him and forced a smile.
Clark knew she was trying to act normal, but he could tell something was wrong. And it had nothing to do with their current 'situation'.
She sighed. She could never get anything past him.
"I'm really worried about Jimmy," she told him. Clark nodded. He felt the same way. "I mean, he gets on my nerves sometimes, well … most of the time, but I'd really miss him if he … "
"Yeah," he replied "I know." He wanted desperately to hug her, but after what had happened recently it just didn't seem right.
She wished that he would hug her or comfort her, but she knew he wouldn't. Before the incident he wouldn't have hesitated. Dammit! This was just what she was worried about. She had pretended so far that nothing had changed between them, and for the most part it hadn't. But it was the little things that _had_ changed. He still teased her, but his eye didn't sparkle like it used to. And he didn't touch her anymore. She never noticed before how much he used to touch her. A hug to cheer her up, a hand on her back to guide her, a hand on her shoulder to comfort her. It was the things that only she would have noticed. Why couldn't things be like they used to? She _needed_ that from Clark. He was her best friend; the person she cared more about than anybody else; he was the one person she needed that from.
Then Clark remembered why he had come to see her in the first place. "Speaking of Jimmy … "
"I just got back from meeting with Bobby. He called while you were out doing research so I went to meet him by myself. He's got us a lead on Jimmy's whereabouts." He gave her the piece of paper with the address on it. She quickly read it.
"Clark, I know this area! I lived there when I first moved to Metropolis. It's not what you would call a nice place to live. Let's go."
Suicide Slum, Thursday, 8:27pm
Lois and Clark pulled up outside one of the less attractive buildings in Suicide Slum.
"I can't believe you used to live near here," he told her.
"I didn't exactly have much of a choice, Clark. My pockets weren't full of money."
They got out of the car, making sure to lock all of the doors. Lois looked around fearfully. "You know, I, uh … don't quite remember this area being quite so … er … intimidating."
"It's okay Lois. I won't let anything happen to you."
"I know." And she _did_ know.
They walked towards the building. As they approached, she asked, "I wonder how we're going to get in."
"I doubt it's locked."
"Yeah, well I'd prefer not to be seen going through the front door. Let's see if there's a side or back entrance."
They edged toward the alleyway next to the building. Lois peeked around the corner. There didn't seem to be anybody there. She pressed her back against the wall.
Clark could tell she was trying to blend in, but in that blue suit of hers she wasn't doing a very good job.
As they shuffled along, Clark surveyed the alleyway carefully. It just looked like a typical alleyway. Garbage bags and rubbish littered the floor. But he knew someone was watching them.
"Lois … " he began.
Clark huddled in pain on the cold cement floor. Being invulnerable, he had never had to worry about feeling anything less than comfortably warm, but with his powers diminishing, he was really aware of the cold for the first time …
Lois groaned. Her head was pounding. She hadn't had a headache this bad since she celebrated her 21st birthday a little too well. She was trying to remember where she was when all the events of last night rushed into her head. Clark, Superman, kryptonite, the man with the gun … the man with the gun!!
She remembered!! The stranger had taken out a gun, and she thought he was going to shoot Clark. But he had shot her instead!! She had been so gripped with fear that she hadn't realised that it was in fact a dart gun. Before she had been able to kick it out of his hand as she had done with the kryptonite, he had shot her.
Thinking she had been shot and would die, she collapsed. Her last thoughts were of Clark.
But now she was here. Why hadn't he killed her? And where was Clark? Clark! She had to find him. She tried to get up too quickly and felt distinctly nauseous. "Urg … "
"Hi." The word was softly spoken, but she would recognise that voice anywhere.
She spun around, fighting against her own dizziness.
He was lying so still on the floor. It looked like he was barely breathing, but he was staring straight at her. For some reason he had been stripped of his suit, and was in the Superman outfit.
"Clark!" She almost flew across the room. She knelt down beside him, and couldn't stop touching him. "Oh God, I was so worried about you." She tried to hug him, but he didn't have the energy to sit up.
"I'll be alright." he croaked.
"You look awful."
He chuckled then grimaced. "Thanks a lot, Lois."
She smiled, but he could see how upset she was. "Why are you still so weak?" she whispered, as if afraid to find out the answer.
"I'm not sure. I don't think there's any kryptonite inside me, but there must be some of it somewhere in the room."
Nodding, she looked around. It was a very simple room. There were no windows, and no furniture. There was a door which she tried to open but to no avail. This didn't surprise her, but she kept hitting it. She couldn't see the kryptonite, but it was here somewhere. She had to get Clark away from it!
She ignored him, trying to kick the door down.
"Lois, please stop before you hurt yourself."
She took her shoe off and hit the door handle with the heel.
"I can't shout at you Lois. I haven't got the energy. What's wrong?"
The heel broke off of the shoe. She crumbled.
"I don't want you to die!!!!" she screamed. She was sobbing now. With her head in her hands she lent against the wall.
Clark wasn't sure what to think. He'd been seeing the world through a haze of pain ever since he had woken up. She'd certainly never displayed such a strong emotion over him before, as Clark or Superman. "Lois, please. I want to hold you."
She took her hands from her face and he saw that she had such a wonderous expression on her face. He was still too weak too sit up by himself, so after much huffing and puffing she managed to pull him over to the wall.
She sat him up there, but then looked him straight in the eye. "Why don't you let me hold you?" It was more of an order than a request. He didn't mind either way, just as long as he could touch her.
Lois sat down against the wall, and managed to pull him into her arms. She sat there, absently brushing the side of his face with her free hand. Looking down into his eyes, she started crying again at the emotions displayed. In her grief, she couldn't say anything. But that was all right. No words were needed.
That was how they were found when the police burst through the door four hours later. She didn't even flinch.
"Miss Lane?" one of them enquired "Are you all right?"
Looking up from Clark's still body she uttered two simple words.
The police explained that they had a tip off from an anonomous source (probably Bobby, Lois thought) connected with a spate of recent disappearances. They were searching the rest of the building, and thankfully had found Jimmy uninjured. There was no sign of the person who had kidnapped them. But Lois wasn't really paying attention. She was more interested in the body that was being wheeled out of the room. Remembering something she had learnt, she spun around to the medics.
"Get him in the sunlight!"
"Get him in the sunlight! It helps him … regenerate. After exposure to kryptonite, it helps him go back to normal."
"So kryptonite is responsible for this?"
"Of course it is! He said there must be some in the room, but I couldn't see any."
"You mean there's kryptonite in this room?"
"Yes! Haven't you been listening??!!"
"Then we'd better get him as far away from this room as possible."
It was a bright sunny day, and for that reason alone Lois was full of hope. But she was also full of fear. She glanced over at the bed. Clark was lying there, hooked up to God knows how many machines. The blinds over the windows were pulled back, so sunlight was shining down on him. Inspector Henderson had told her that they had found Jimmy, for which she was very grateful. He was dehydrated, but he would be fine. They had found the kryptonite in the light bulb socket. She had been mentally chastising herself ever since. Where else could it have been? There had been no furniture in the room; no where else to hide it. She knew that it was also easy to say that with hindsight, but she still couldn't stop blaming herself.
She really didn't know what to do. There were so many thoughts and feelings twirling around in her head. She was definitely terrified. To finally realise her feelings for Clark and then almost lose him … She was *so* scared that he wouldn't pull through. He still wasn't out of danger and she kept trying to tell herself that he would pull through. He was Superman. More importantly, he was Clark.
Love. That could well have been the strongest emotion she was feeling. Now that she had finally admitted it to herself, she didn't need to hide it anymore. And she was in love with Clark, not Superman. She looked over at his still body in the suit, but she saw Clark, not the superhero.
Tears began to fill her eyes again. Oh God … he still looked very pale. She hoped (well, prayed) that the sunlight was helping. He had been exposed to the kryptonite for a long time. When the police had rushed into the room, she had been positive that he was dead. In her grief she hadn't even been able to cry. They had taken him to the hospital where they had made her year by informing her that he was still alive. She insisted on staying with him, her reasoning being that as his closest friend she should be there. Well, they weren't going to know any better. They knew that she and Clark Kent were his closest friends, and no one knew where Clark was. She had told them that he was out covering a story. If they only knew …
Sighing, she got up from her chair next to Clark's bed and sat down gently next to him. *He's so handsome*. She lent down and kissed him gently on the cheek.
"Please don't leave me."
His first conscious thought was that he wanted to be unconscious again. His entire body ached. He hadn't thought it possible for every part of his body to hurt. His right arm was the only part of his body that didn't hurt. In fact, he couldn't even feel it. Knowing that the rest of his body felt awful, he decided that wasn't such a bad thing. But what was causing him to lose all feeling in his arm?
Slowly, ever so slowly, Clark opened his eyes. Bad idea. He instantly closed them again as bright sunlight nearly blinded him. He had to do this! He opened them once more, determined to not give in. His eyes finally adjusted and he saw what was on his arm. He smiled.
Then he frowned. She had been crying. Her eyes were swollen, and he could see a trace of wetness left behind on her cheeks. He opened his mouth to say something, but his throat was so sore that nothing came out. He swallowed and tried again.
"Lois … " His voice was so hoarse!!
She stirred gently. Yawning, she opened her eyes. Her mouth stopped mid-yawn and her eyes opened widly when she realised he was awake and looking at her.
"Clark!" she flung her arms around his neck, which was no easy task when he was lying on a hospital bed. "Oh God, I was so worried about you, I thought I'd never get to speak to you again … " She continued to babble, and even through his pain Clark was loving every second of it.
Lois filled him in on everything. He was relieved that Jimmy was safe, but he was still angry that the man responsible still hadn't been found. The police had no idea why they had kidnapped him. They had found Jimmy locked in a room similar to the one they were in, but they couldn't find anybody else in the building. They were still searching now for evidence.
Henderson walked into the room carrying a piece of paper. His eyes raised when he saw Lois with her arms wrapped around Superman.
"Morning Lois. Enjoying yourself?" he asked sardonically.
She immediately released Clark and stood up. "Hello Inspector." She smiled at him brightly.
Henderson turned his attention to the man in the bed. "How are you doing Superman?"
"Much better, thanks. I pretty much ache all over, but I seem to be getting better. What are you here for?"
"Well, first of all to check out how you are, and also to show Lois this." He handed her the piece of paper.
"What's this?" she asked, taking the paper and looking down at it.
"It's the only piece of evidence we found. We're not sure what it means, but we thought you'd be interested in the name printed at the bottom."
Lois scanned down through the page. There were lots of numbers in some kind of chart, but when she saw the bottom of the page the name leapt out at her.
Clark studied her reaction. Her eyes widened in shock.
"Lois, what is it?"
Almost reluctantly she dragged her eyes away from the paper and looked at him.
"Bureau 39," she whispered.
Officially the case was closed, but it wasn't solved. They had found no further evidence, and as far as the government was concerned, Bureau 39 didn't exist. There was no trace of the man who had exposed Clark to the kryptonite. What made it more infuriating was that both Lois and Clark were sure that they had seen the man before …
"Come on, it didn't taste *that* bad." she insisted.
"You're right," he replied, "it didn't taste *that* bad. It tasted worse."
She grimaced at him. "Well fine. Next time you can do the cooking."
"I did volunteer to do the cooking this time, but you insisted."
"Well excuse me for trying to do something nice." She got up from the table huffily and instantly stopped moving when she felt Clark's hand on her shoulder.
"I'm sorry." he told her. "You know I was just teasing."
She turned around to face him and smiled. "You're an awful liar."
He smiled back. "You'd prefer the truth?"
She pursed her lips and pretended to think it over. "Wellllllll … , maybe not about my cooking, but definitely about *everything* else." she told him with a pointed look.
He instantly felt ashamed. "You know I'm sorry for that. If there was anyway I could take back some of the things that had happened because of my other identity, I would."
"I know." She reached up and cupped his cheek. She thought that he probably didn't realise that he was wearing all of his emotions on his face at that moment. His expression was just so full of … love. It amazed her. She was also amazed at how much she had changed over the last week or so.
She tugged him towards his stereo.
"What are you doing?" he asked.
"You'll see." was the mysterious reply. She activated the CD player. "I put this in the machine when you were in the bathroom earlier."
He instantly recognised the song. A huge smile lit across his face, because he finally realised for the first time that she didn't mind that he was Superman. That was all that really mattered.
Slowly they began to dance. She rested her head on his chest and hummed along almost silently to the music. They began to float off the floor, as they had done once before to this very song. At that moment Lois Lane said something that made Clark's life complete.
"I love you, Clark Kent."
… FOR NOW. TO BE CONTINUED … those words have torn at the heart of many a FOLC<bg>. So … what did you think?