By Steven Don <email@example.com>
Submitted May 1999
Summary: An irritable Perry sends Lois to write a story about an orphanage. She could really use Clark's help, not just with the story. In the meanwhile, someone finds out a big secret.
After reading a lot of fanfic (severe LCWS will do that to you), I decided to write my own with an idea I've had for quite some time. I've always wondered why nobody else really figured out Superman's identity. He didn't really cover his tracks very well and it should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense and the right connections. This story is set at about the same time as "The Phoenix", assuming that episode never happened. It's my first fanfic (my first *anything*), so please let me know how you like/dislike it!
Thanks go to my editors, Ray Reynolds and anonymous5658 for their tremendous help in perfecting this story.
In a nice office, a large man sat looking at the computer screen before him.
'We've been hooked up to the KI data network for almost a year now. It's connected to just about every major computer database in Metropolis, no, every major database on earth! Amazing how much information you can get from it. I bet this information could hold the key to a lot of mysteries. Ah! Let's try that out! I wonder … '
"I wouldn't go in there, Lois!" Jimmy said as he saw Lois walk towards Perry White's office. "He nearly bit my head off when I brought him … "
He didn't get much further as Lois breezed past him, her famous nothing-is-going-to-stop-me look all over her face. Clark was in hot pursuit, reaching out to try and stop her himself, but he was too late to prevent Lois from entering Perry's office. He wanted to follow Lois in, but waited just outside to avoid upsetting Perry even more.
"NOT NOW!" Perry yelled as Lois came in.
"Perry, this story … "
"Lois, I said not now!"
Lois braced herself and continued. "Look, I'm sorry about your proof-reading, but I can't do this story. All that touchy feely stuff's not my thing!"
"Lois, if you still want to be working here tomorrow morning, do the story! Ask Clark to help you out on this. Now GET OUT!"
Clark had to hand it to her. She had a lot of courage. Nobody else would have dared stand up to Perry like that, but he could see this was leading nowhere fast. He rushed through the still-open door and muttered an apology to Perry, dragging Lois out of Perry's office before she could protest.
Lois shot an angry look at her partner. The nerve! Coming into Perry's office and dragging her out like she was a two year old who needed permission to be somewhere. She confronted him in front of the whole office. Heads turned everywhere as she shouted at him, "Clark, I can't believe you! By now, you should know better than to try and stop me from doing what you want! You're way out of your league, farm boy!"
"Okay, I'm sorry about that, but Perry's real busy and he didn't want to be disturbed … by anybody!"
"Well, in case you didn't notice before, I'm not just anybody! And I just can't do this story."
"Oh come on Lois, you need to relax for a change. I'll help you out on this story and we can always expose another crime boss tomorrow," Clark joked and smiled at her. He always thought Lois looked beautiful when she was angry.
His smile was disarming. She loved that smile, and even though she'd been fighting mad at him only seconds ago, it melted her anger. And, she had to admit, she had found his remark amusing. But she'd be damned if she let *him* know that. "Hrmph … you!"
The large man focused his attention on the computer screen and started punching commands at the keyboard. He was aware that Superman had come to Metropolis somewhere in 1993, so that's where his search began. After a few moments, a list of names appeared, scrolling off the screen.
'Hmmm … Quite a large number of people came to Metropolis at around the same time that Superman did. Where should I start?' he thought. 'Oh, of course! The men! Superman's definitely male!'
As Lois parked her Jeep at the orphanage, she winced. The "Luthor Home For Children". Why did Perry have to send them here when there were so many orphanages in and around Metropolis?
Clark saw the expression on her face and though he wasn't too happy about it himself, he tried to reassure her. "Don't worry Lois, Lex is gone. I'm sure that the people here are doing a great job with these kids."
As the director let them in, Lois felt a sense of uneasiness coming over her. Was it the director? 'He seems friendly enough', she thought to herself. 'Must be the place, and the story. Those children … I'm really bad with children. I don't know what I'd do if Clark weren't here with me.'
After being shown around the orphanage, they started interviewing some of the children. Lois started with one of the older children, a girl, while Clark listened to a stammering young boy telling him how great the orphanage was. When he looked up, he noticed Lois and the girl she was interviewing staring at him. The look in their eyes, especially Lois's, puzzled him. 'Lois doesn't look at me like that! Well, she does when I'm dressed as Superman, but not when I'm dressed as Clark. Not usually. Of course there was that time when we just met and she picked me up at the Apollo hotel. What was it she said? "I said nine, I thought you'd be naked … hmm … ready."' He smiled at the memory. Not wanting Lois to guess what he was thinking, he turned his attention back to listening to the boy.
Thinking they had all they needed for a nice little piece about the orphanage, Lois and Clark got up to leave. As they walked down the path towards the car, the older girl Lois had interviewed caught up. She glanced at the director, who was at the other end of the garden and whispered. "There are bad things going on here. I can tell you about them, *if* I get a kiss, from him." She blushed a little as she looked at Clark.
Clark was caught by surprise and smiled sheepishly. He bent over and kissed the girl lightly on the cheek.
"Careful, I might get jealous." Lois said, trying to hide the fact that she really was jealous. "Okay, enough already, now spill it!" she told the girl.
The girl, whose name was Cindy, didn't have too much to say, but what she said came as a shock. "The director always has me and the other kids taking bags with white powder to school, where we have to give them to this really nasty man."
"Do you have any idea what this powder is?" Clark asked, having formed his own idea of what it might be.
"No," the girl replied, "but I think it's in the storeroom. Last week we were playing hide and seek and I hid in there and saw a whole box full of it."
"Thanks, Cindy." Lois replied, letting the girl run off. She looked at Clark and could tell that he was thinking the same thing she was.
A black car drove up to the orphanage and the director walked up to it. Seizing the opportunity, Lois and Clark sneaked back into the orphanage and quickly found the storeroom.
The man was still hunched over his computer, staring thoughtfully at the screen. His last command had halved the list of names.
'Now, what next?', he thought. 'What does Superman do? He flies … obviously … And he fights crime. That's it! Superman would have no criminal record.'
After pushing a few buttons, the man watched the screen as some more names disappeared from the list.
In the storeroom of the orphanage, Clark was looking at Lois. She was taking a quick peek in each and every one of the boxes and she seemed to be enjoying herself. Now this was the kind of story *she* liked. 'Leave it to Lane & Kent to go for an article on orphans and come back with a story on drug networks!'
"Clark, I haven't found any 'white powder' here. Have you had any luck?"
"No Lois, maybe she's just making it up." 'I hope she made it up,' he thought silently. 'At least there are no drugs here, unless they're packed in lead.' He was worried and wanted to leave soon. There might not be any drugs, but he didn't want to get caught snooping around.
"Actually, *I* made it up," said a voice behind them, one that held a slightly familiar ring to them both.
It was the director and two goons. They were blocking the doorway, thus cutting off the only exit from the room. The director smiled an evil smile and scratched his neck. Pieces of his skin came off as he scratched. It wasn't skin at all. It was a mask! Lois gasped, staggered backward, and as she recognized the face, she nearly fainted. She was caught by Clark, who was equally shocked, but slightly less surprised. He had somehow expected this one hated enemy would rear his ugly head again. By that time, the man had removed all of the latex. A terrifyingly familiar face looked straight at them.
"Lois, my darling, always a pleasure to see you!" Luthor said, evil evident in every fiber of his being. "It's been quite a while since we last saw each other. As I recall, you were about to become my wife when we were rudely interrupted. Unfortunately, the arch-bishop was busy today, but that doesn't mean we can't get married, my love!"
Luthor approached them, grabbed Lois by the arm and jerked her away from Clark, who was having great difficulty restraining himself. 'I can't do anything now. They'd know my secret. Lois would never be safe again. And my parents! But, I can't let Luthor take Lois and not try to do anything to stop him … ' His train of thought, even at superspeed, was cut short when Luthor's goons grabbed him by the arms and dragged him out of the storeroom.
A short while later, Clark found himself tied to a chair in the director's, no, *Luthor's* office. Lois was tied up as well, although, given her present state of shock, it really wasn't necessary. Pale as she was, she managed to turn even whiter when she realised what Luthor was doing. He had ordered one of his goons to send the children away and was now pouring gasoline all over the office and Clark.
'Clark! No!' she mentally screamed. She couldn't let Lex kill Clark.
"Lex, please, let Clark go," she stammered.
"And then what, my dear? Let him break us up once again? I really thought you were smarter than that!" he laughed wickedly.
'Why do villains always laugh so much?' Clark couldn't help thinking. He quickly turned his thoughts to finding a way out of this dreadful situation. Luthor's raving2 didn't help his concentration much.
"Okay, boys, light my fire!" Luthor cried, hate blazing in his eyes, his face looking even more diabolical in the dancing light of the fire that was rapidly spreading over the office. He then turned away and walked out of the room, dragging a struggling Lois behind him. As one of Luthor's helpers locked the door to the office, the thought of her partner being burned alive overcame Lois. For the first time in her life, she fainted.
Clark heard them leaving, but waited until he heard the car door close before breaking his bonds.
The list had been fully updated and the man studied it intently.
'Quite a list of men with no criminal records, surprising in this city,' he thought, a sarcastic smile on his lips. 'How old would Superman be? If he has a disguise, his alter ego would have to be about 30 years old … '
The computer took its time gathering all the data. Hardly surprising, considering the sheer volume of information, but it would be nice if it went just that little bit faster. In the meantime, he might just as well get some work done.
Lois awoke in the black car, her hands and feet still tied and a gag in her mouth preventing her from sneering at Luthor or shouting for help. Luthor was sitting next to her, a sickening smile on his face. He was talking to her, but she wasn't paying attention. She didn't want to hear a word he had to say. 'Why did I ever think about marrying him?' she thought. Then, all she could think about was Clark and how, at this very moment, he was probably dying.
'No! I can't lose him! Not again, not now! It was only a couple of weeks ago that I almost lost him, when Capone and his gang were out.' The memory of Clark being shot at the club made her feel even worse. 'I should have told him back then. But I didn't. He fell asleep. And now he's going to die *again*, without knowing. I got a second chance, and I blew it! I got him back and now … I'm losing him again. Last time, Superman brought him back to life, but can he do that again? Professor Hamilton's research was destroyed. But maybe, if Superman's in time. Oh God, please! Superman, help him! Be there in time! Don't let me lose him again! I have to tell him … that I love him … Clark! I love you! Clark!' She wanted to shout for Superman. She wanted to shout her love for Clark, but even without the gag, the lump in her throat would have made it impossible for her to do either.
" … are finally together. As we were meant to be. Surely, you can see that, Lois, dear. As you pointed out, we don't even have to change the monograms on our towels!" Luthor was still talking. He didn't seem to care in the slightest that Lois couldn't respond.
All of a sudden, the car came to a halt.
Luthor's hatred reached new heights when he saw the cause. There was his old nemesis in the red and blue suit, holding the car back with one hand. He opened the door and stood to face Superman. "What's the matter, Luthor? Forget about me?" Clark said.
"On the contrary, Superman!" Luthor quickly grabbed something from the car. "I was counting on your showing up!"
Clark started to feel dizzy. 'I should have known. Luthor wouldn't be unprepared for this!' Instinctively, he brought his hand to his head as if to shield it from the Kryptonite.
Luthor, holding the box with Kryptonite in his left hand, used his right hand to pull out a gun. He took aim at Superman, but by then, Lois had come to her senses. She lay back across the car seat, stretched her legs with all her might and kicked Luthor. It was a fabulous kick that sent Luthor spinning sideways before ending up on the ground. The box fell shut. Before Luthor could grab it, Lois threw herself on top of it, hoping she wouldn't break something in the process as she was still tied up. 'That doesn't matter now. I have to protect Superman. He's Clark's only hope! If Clark's still alive … Or maybe Superman saved him already?'
Clark reacted quickly. He grabbed Luthor and the goons and brought the three of them to the police precinct with such speed that Luthor was booked before Lois fully realised they had gone.
As Superman broke her bonds, and took the gag from her mouth, Lois immediately said the only thing she cared about right now. "Clark, he's … "
"Safe," Superman interrupted her. "I found him in time. There's not a scratch on him and he's waiting for you at the Planet"
The only time Lois had felt this relieved was when Clark had walked onto the construction site, alive, after the shooting. 'Thank you! For bringing him back to me. This time I'll tell him, and I'm not going to let anything keep me from telling him.' she thought to herself as she asked Superman to fly her to her car.
Looking back at the computer, the large man noticed that it had completed its task and was awaiting further input. He pondered his next step.
'Where does Superman usually show up? It seems like not a day goes by when he's not saving Lois Lane's life. And he's also supposed to be close friends with Clark Kent. Yeah, he's been around the Daily Planet a lot!'
There he was, in the lobby, about to get into the elevator. Lois ran in after him, just before the doors closed. They were alone.
"Lois, you're okay!"
"*I'm* okay? You could have been killed! You could have been killed without ever knowing … without ever knowing how I feel about you."
"Lois, if … "
"No Clark, let me finish. When I thought about what my life would be like without you in it, I knew I didn't want that life. I guess I've finally realised what you mean to me. I love you Clark, not just like a brother. I *love* you. I think I've been in love with you so long, but I didn't want to admit it to myself, or to you. And I must have hurt you so much, when I was throwing myself at Superman, when it was you who was always there for me. Whenever I needed a shoulder to cry on or a friend to cheer me up. I know you and he are best friends so you couldn't say anything, but I could see you were hurting. Clark, I just couldn't go on … " she knew she was babbling, but it felt so good finally admitting her feelings and telling him, she didn't want to stop.
Clark, however, had other plans. As the elevator continued its upward voyage, Clark found the first truly effective way to stop Lois Lane's babbling as he drew her close to him and kissed her.
'That leaves only three people. All three work right here. But only one of them looks … '
Then, as realisation slowly set in, he cried out … ***
The elevator opened. Lois and Clark barely noticed. They were too preoccupied with each other even to hear Perry's voice coming from his office. "Great Shades of Elvis!"