By Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com>
Submitted June 2000, Uploaded December 2000
Summary: Two companion vignettes (one happy, one bittersweet) in which Lois is granted one Christmas wish.
Author's note: These are two stories which are based on essentially the same plot idea but couched in two totally different ways of delivering that idea. One would be considered darker and more bittersweet, while the other would be more your standard L&C type tale.
Be warned the that first story does involve the death of a major character but those who dislike deathfic, that have read it, have assured me that the redemptive ending allowed them to accept the death and embrace the ending.
All characters are trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. All feedback or comments welcome at TankW1@aol.com
"There you go, darlin', how's that?"
"Great, Perry, thanks." Lois Lane laid her head back onto the freshly fluffed pillow. "Where's Alice? I thought she might come with you tonight?"
"She's at the airport picking up the boys and the grandkids. We're going to have a houseful this Christmas. She wished she could be here and she sends her love."
"That's nice. I'm glad you're able to have the whole family together for the holidays."
Lois briefly took her gaze from Perry to once again take in the bland hospital room that had been her home for the last few weeks and was going to be where she spent her Christmas this year. She sighed.
"Are you okay, honey?" Perry saw her give him a sad smile and a nod. It was killing him to see her like this. "Say, wasn't that the Kents I saw leaving just before I came in?"
"Yeah, they flew in all the way from Smallville just to see me. They've been so great to me all this time. It's like they've gone ahead and included me into their family even though Clark and I never had the chance to get married before… well, you know."
Perry just nodded in response. Clark's disappearance shortly after Superman had left to help out the New Kryptonians had been tough on everyone at the Planet but obviously none more than Lois. He had decided on his own, to go undercover to see how the criminal element would take advantage of Superman's absence. A couple of stories had come in, but after that there had been no word. Perry had known that Lois had written those stories. There just was no way that she could disguise her style enough to pass for Clark's. It hadn't taken long for Perry, with a little hindsight, to put the puzzle pieces together and realize what Lois had been attempting. Her trying to cover for the man she loved was sweet, but he guessed the pain she carried over his leaving just got to be too much for her to try and pretend any more. It had been over a year now since Clark had left and while Perry knew that in her heart Lois had never given up on the idea that he would eventually come back, she had seemed to come to an uneasy acceptance of a world without Superman and had learned how to function within it.
"Lois, the suits upstairs wanted me to tell you how proud they were of that Pulitzer you finally bagged. It was a great achievement in investigative reporting."
Lois chuckled a little. "I'll bet that's what they said." She reached over and touched Perry's hand. "Are you sure they didn't mention anything about the increased circulation that the story brought?"
It was Perry's turn to chuckle in response. "Well, not in so many words, but I'm sure they appreciated that aspect also." Perry noticed they both avoided the obvious. That that story was the reason Lois was lying in this hospital bed, and probably wouldn't ever get out of it. Perry glanced at his watch. "Oh, honey, it's getting late and I promised Alice I be home before the grand kids were tucked into bed. But I hate to leave you here all alone, it being Christmas Eve and all."
Lois patted his hand. "Don't worry about it, Chief. Not only were Jon and Martha here earlier, but Jimmy dropped by for a while too. My folks should be back from Europe in another couple of days. They wanted to cut their second honeymoon short but I told them I would be fine till they got back. Lucy has a flight out late tomorrow so I'll probably see her soon also." Lois gave Perry her best brave smile. "You need to be with your family now. I'll probably just sleep tonight and most of tomorrow away anyhow. Go, and give the family an extra hug for me."
Perry smiled back at the daughter he never had. It broke his heart to see her lying there so frail and tired looking. "I'll come back tomorrow afternoon, and I'll bring Alice, and the baby."
"That would be great, Perry, I'll look forward to it."
Perry turned slowly to leave as Lois sunk deeper into her pillow and seemed ready to fall asleep right then. As he walked down the hospital hallway he happened across Lois' doctor. He stopped her.
"Excuse me doc, could you give me an update on Ms. Lane's condition?"
The doctor hesitated only briefly. She knew who Perry was and his real relationship to her patient. "I'm afraid I can't tell you anything new*** Mr. White. The toxins she absorbed into her body during that investigation are still slowly shutting down her organs' abilities to do their jobs, just as they have for the last several weeks. Even though we know what is affecting her, we have no way to stop it." The doctor checked a folder she had in one of the large pockets on her coat. "You told me she had started this particular investigation about three months ago?" At Perry's nod the doctor continued. "I'd say that the toxins started their work way back then, and the effects have only become noticeable as of a few weeks ago. Unfortunately, by the time we were brought into the picture, it was too late." She saw the pained look in Perry's face. "I'm sorry, we are doing everything we can to make her time left as comfortable as possible."
The doctor started to move off when Perry's hand on her arm stopped her. "How much time does she have, doc?"
The doctor stared at the floor for a couple of seconds before she looked up into Perry's eyes. She shrugged helplessly. Perry squeezed his eyes shut to hold back the threatened tears that wanted to flow. It was not going to be a very Merry Christmas this year.
Lois woke up with a start. What was that noise? she wondered. The room was completely dark as she let her gaze sweep from one corner to the next. Suddenly she heard it again. It sounded like sleigh bells? A dim cherry red glow began over in one corner of the room. It grew in brightness till it resolved itself into the form of a white-bearded man in a red suit.
"Santa?" Lois immediately regretted her words. She was a grown woman, not a child. Why would she be dreaming about Santa Claus, and dreaming she must be for there was no other explanation her logical mind would except. True, it was Christmas but still…
"Hello, Lois." He reached a red-mittened hand over to take one of hers in his. Lois started at the touch but he held it tight.
For some reason Lois didn't feel that this man dressed like a mall Santa was any danger. "Who are you?"
He smiled and his cheeks blushed crimson. "I got the impression you recognized me right off, Lois." He chuckled. "I go by many names. Kris Kringle, St. Nick, and the more common, Santa Claus."
"Yeah, right." Lois' defenses began to go up but she didn't take her hand back. Santa, because that's that only way Lois could think of him, laughed out loud. She was surprised when the loud noise didn't bring a nurse running. "Okay, fatboy, why are you here? Shouldn't you be delivering toys to all the good boys and girls around the world?" Lois tried to frown but instead found herself fighting a grin.
"That's already been taken care of, Lois. I just have one more thing to deal with this Christmas morning." Lois gave him a raised eyebrow and a silent invitation to elaborate. Santa chuckled again. "Lois, do you realize that the expose you wrote on McCade Chemicals will save the lives of over twenty thousand people over the next several years."
Lois gave Santa a puzzled look. "How would you know that?"
"I have impeccable sources."
He laughed when Lois frowned at him. She couldn't help but watch his belly jiggle as he laughed. It looked just like a bowl full of… she shook her head to clear it of the image. This whole dream was getting weird and Lois was beginning to think she wanted to wake up.
"Let's cut to the chase, shall we. I know that the story I wrote did a lot of good. It exposed illegal toxic waste dumping and got me my Pulitzer." She looked away as she sighed, then in a softer voice, "it also got me killed."
"I know." He patted her hand again. "You may not believe this, Lois, but every year I'm allowed to grant some deserving person one wish." His smile was warm and comforting. "This year I have chosen you."
Lois' look changed from puzzled to wary. "Isn't that a little out of your league, *Santa*? I'd think that would be more the province of, say, an angel or a spirit of some sort?"
"Well, I do represent the spirit of Christmas, and we all have the same boss after all." He stepped closer and traced her jaw with his hand. "Come on, Lois, what have you got to lose?"
Lois stared at the cherry glow that painted the plain ceiling of her room. This by far was the weirdest dream she'd ever had, well, except for the time she'd actually tried anchovies on a pizza. Old Santa did have a point, what did she have to lose?
"You're supposed to know all about the people you give your gifts to, right? I mean, you have that list that tells you who's naughty and who's nice?" Lois saw him smile and nod. "Well, if that's true, I think you'd know what I'd wish for."
"Yes, Lois, I think I do know." Santa stepped back and brushed his hand alongside his nose.
The cherry glow increased for a second then it changed over to blue. As the figure of Santa Claus disappeared it was replaced by another one. At first the figure was dressed in a colorful blue and red costume, then that changed over to all black, then the glow died down to a soft amber and revealed a man in jeans and a T shirt standing there. Lois thought her heart would burst.
"Clark?… Clark!" All weakness left her frail body as she tossed aside the covers, leapt out of her bed, and launched herself into her long-lost lover's arms.
Lois felt Clark embrace her with all the fierceness of desire that a man could feel for a woman. Their lips met in a kiss that seemed to last a lifetime. Clark carried Lois back over to the bed and slid in next to her. Lois literally tore the shirt from his back as her hands explored the magnificent stomach and chest that she thought she'd never feel again. He planted kisses all along her neck and throat, until he captured her lips in his again. There would be no need for any words to be spoken. All thoughts of dreams fled as their minds and bodies became one in a fire of passion that had been silent for too long. Lois knew that her one wish had been answered and nothing else in the world mattered.
The day after Christmas was always a tough working day. It was hard to get people to focus back on their jobs, whether it be due to too much partying or just too much holiday, it was always tough. This one was especially tough for Perry White. He stepped out of his office and looked out over the newsroom as his staff moved in slow motion about their tasks.
"People," his stentorian bellow brought everyone to attention. Many of the folks were shocked at the visage their editor and chief presented. He looked tired, and older somehow. There were deep lines edged around his mouth and eyes, and his pallor was almost gray. "If I may have your attention for a moment." He stopped long enough to sigh and wipe haphazardly at his eye. "Yesterday morning, Christmas day, at 4:37 a.m., Daily Planet Pulitzer prize winning reporter Lois Lane passed away." He allowed a few moments for the stunned murmurs to run through the audience. "She was a dear friend to some of us, a valued colleague to others, and a trusted voice to this city. She will be missed by all."
Perry didn't bother to dismiss the crowd with his usual rejoinder of 'get back to work, we've got a paper to put out'. Instead he just turned and shuffled back into his office. He shook his head as yesterday's events replayed in his mind. Since Lois' family was still out of town, the call had come to Perry to come down and claim the body and make the arrangements with the local mortuary. He was greatly saddened by the news but he wasn't shocked. He'd been trying to ready himself for this day ever since they had to put Lois in the hospital in the first place. The biggest shock had been when he saw her. Just the other day she had looked so wan and frail, but the Lois he saw yesterday was like the Lois of old. She seemed at peace, as if she were merely sleeping. Whatever she had been dreaming about must have been nice because Lois had a smile on her face.
Perry took a little used bottle out of his drawer and poured a small amount into a paper cup which previously held coffee. He held the cup up in salute. "Here's to you, honey. May you and Clark now be together, and know the happiness you both so richly deserve… forever." He tossed back the drink, crumpled the cup in his hand, and tossed it into the corner.
A Christmas Wish 2
By Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com>
Submitted June 2000, Uploaded December 2000
Lois Lane nearly stumbled down the ramp toward her desk as she juggled several files and a raft of printouts, trying to catch her phone before the party at the other end gave up. She managed not to fall, threw the armload onto what little open space that had previously existed on her desk, and grabbed the phone.
"Lois Lane. Oh hi, Martha, yes I've got my ticket and I'm looking forward to coming out there for Christmas. My flight arrives around two in the afternoon on the 24th. No, no, that won't be necessary. I've already rented a car which will be waiting." Lois took a moment to sit in her chair. "What? Oh, thanks. Yeah, it was pretty exciting winning a Pulitzer after all this time. Yeah, it was touch and go for a while there. They thought I might have been exposed to some of the toxic chemicals that McCade was illegally dumping but I've been given a clean bill of health and have been back at it for a few weeks now." Lois turned her head as she noticed Perry out of the corner of her eye. He crooked his finger at her. "Ooops, Chief is calling, Martha, I've got to go. I'll call you when I get in. Give my love to Jonathan, bye."
Lois ran back up the ramp to the chief's office and poked her head in the door. Upon noticing her, Perry waved her in.
"I don't suppose that was your source on this City Council scandal you've been chasing?" he asked.
"No, I'm afraid he is out of the city until after the holiday. Sorry, Chief, nothing for this evening's edition."
"Great Shades of Elvis, how do they expect me to put out a newspaper without any news to put in it?"
Lois laughed. "You'll think of something, Chief, you always do. No, that was Martha I was talking to. I'm going to Smallville for Christmas."
Perry smiled. "That's great, honey, I'm sure you'll have a great time." Perry hesitated. "Ah, have either of you heard anything from Clark?"
Lois didn't try to hide her pain. She just shook her head. "No, not yet, but I'm sure he's just not able to contact us. Probably in too deep or something." Lois held her hand up to the chief, her index and middle fingers crossed. "Keep your fingers crossed, Chief, hope for the best."
Lois left Perry's office quickly. She didn't like lying to Perry, but when Superman left to help the New Kryptonians several months ago, she and Clark hadn't really taken much time to work up a cover story for his absence. Their minds had been on other things. She had come up with the fairly lame cover story of Clark deciding to go undercover and infiltrate the criminal element to see what effect Superman's leaving was going to have on organized crime. Perry had been upset that they hadn't cleared it with him first, but otherwise seemed to buy into it. Lois had ghost written a couple of sketchy articles purportedly from Clark but had given up doing so after a few weeks. Her heart just wasn't in it. She was too worried about his actual well being. She just told everyone that she hadn't heard any more from him and let them draw their own conclusions.
Stopping back at her desk, Lois gathered her briefcase and her bag. She quickly checked her bag and upon finding the airline ticket safely tucked away, set off for home, and a bout of packing.
Lois glanced out the window of the 747 for the tenth time in the last few minutes. She was bored. She hadn't realized how much she had gotten used to flying via Superman Express, and how slow and mundane commercial flights actually were. Of course, one didn't usually snuggle up in the arms of an airplane, kissing its neck and face trying to distract it from its intended course. The passenger next to Lois gave her a sharp look at her sudden giggle. Lois blushed and turned back to the window and its exciting view of cloud tops.
Lois wondered if Perry thought it was odd that she was flying out to Kansas to spend Christmas with the Kents. Yes, Lois was technically still engaged to Clark, but Lois was sure that Perry believed that Clark was not coming back. With her parents still in Europe on their second honeymoon, and Lucy stuck back in California at school and not able to make it back east, it gave Lois a perfect excuse to visit the two wonderful people that she often wished were her parents too. She shook her head, nah, Perry probably didn't think it strange at all. He'd met the Kents a few times and he knew how Lois felt about them. The great thing was, they felt the same way about Lois.
The trip had been no problem, other than Lois' boredom, until they reached the airport in Wichita. Just her luck, they were experiencing one of their infrequent snow storms at that time. The plane had had to circle for over an extra hour, until the under-manned and over-worked ground crew could get their runway cleared for a safe landing. The delay didn't do much for Lois' already dark mood. Once on the ground she made her way to the first phone in the terminal that she could find. She glanced back over her shoulder at the conditions outside. The snow had been coming down for a few hours already. It was about thirty degrees, which was unusual for this area this time of year, but up at 20,000 feet where the precipitation was coming from it was above freezing so it started out as rain but changed into a heavy wet snow by the time it reached the ground. Lois deposited her coins and waited for someone to answer.
"Hello, Martha? Hi, it's Lois. Yeah I know, the stupid pilot was too afraid to land in a little snow so we circled around for over an hour." Lois checked her watch. "It's about three thirty now. It'll take me about half an hour to collect my bags and rental car, so I should be there around six or seven depending on the roads." Lois shook her head as she listened to Martha voice her concerns. Lois laughed. "Don't worry, Martha, you forget where I come from. The folks down here might be intimidated by a little snow but in Metropolis this is just another typical winter day."
Lois could tell that Martha knew she was just blowing smoke and that the conditions were anything but typical no matter where you came from, except maybe Minnesota.
The drive would be dicey no matter how much experience you had, but Lois hadn't come all this way to spend Christmas in the Wichita airport.
"Yes, Martha, I will take it easy, and if it seems too bad I'll just turn back and give you a call. You to, Martha, give my love to Jonathan and I'll see you soon." Lois hung up and after a quick check of the information boards, headed in the direction of baggage claim.
Lois had been on the road nearly three hours but she wasn't sure how far away from Smallville and the Kents' farm she still was. The car was beastly hot as she had to have the heater and fan on full to keep the snow from freezing on the windshield. Visibility had been dropping steadily for the past hour and she now could barely see where the road ended and the snow-filled ditches began.
The first part of her trip hadn't been too bad and Lois had scoffed at all the drivers who seemed so petrified by the conditions. This was nothing to an old veteran winter driver like Lois. The blacktop roadways were still warm enough to cause most of the snow that hit them to melt and had merely been wet with a few scattered slippery spots. Now that she was on the gravel back roads the snow was piling up and making travel increasingly more difficult as time went by. Not for the first time this evening had Lois wished that she had her jeep.
She had had the road pretty much to herself for the last half hour or so. She figured most folks must already be where they planned to be for the night, and she was determined that she would soon be also. It was only a little before seven o' clock but the heavily overcast sky was quite dark and her headlights merely reflected off the bright white flakes falling in front of her. She was never sure if it was the hypnotic effect of watching the snow falling, or if the snow had just covered the warning road sign so she had missed it, but when the road took a sharp curve to the right, Lois didn't. She found herself helplessly plunging down a steep embankment until the car was brought to a sudden stop. Lois lurched forward, cracking her head against the steering wheel. The last thing she remembered was the sound of the engine dying, then silence and blackness. The rental car lay forlornly alone, half buried in the drifts with just the twin red spots of the tail lights shining weakly through the gloom as the snow continued to fall.
Lois pulled her head back from its resting place on the steering wheel. She gave it a shake to try and clear the cobwebs which turned out to be a big mistake. Pain, like a hot knife stabbed her right behind the eyes. She gingerly put her fingers up to her forehead and discovered the beginnings of a significant lump forming there. As her eyes cleared she noticed what seemed to be a cherry red glow filling the interior of the car. Then suddenly, she heard a sound. It sounded almost like … sleigh bells?
Lois nearly jumped out of her skin as the voice sounded from behind her. She twisted around to get a better look at the owner of that voice.
"What…? who…? Santa?"
Lois' eyes nearly fell out of her head as she took in the vision of a jolly looking, white-bearded fellow dressed in a red suit sitting calmly in the back seat of her rental car. Lois put her hand back up to her head and began to talk to herself.
"Well, Lois, you are either hallucinating or you're still unconscious and are only dreaming." She took her hand away and addressed the fellow. "So, what are you, a hallucination, or a dream?"
He smiled, his cheeks getting rosy as he did so. "Which would you prefer?"
"I think I'll go with the dream. Hallucinations can have such unpleasant connotations and complications."
"So, Santa." Lois felt odd calling this mall refugee that, but she had no other frame of reference. "Shouldn't you be out delivering toys to all the good girls and boys?"
He chuckled. "All in good time, Lois, all in good time. First I have another little task to perform." Lois gave him a wary look as she cocked her eyebrow but didn't say anything. "Did you know, Lois, that the expose you did on McCade Chemicals will result in over 20 thousand lives saved that would have other wise been lost over a period of several years. Entire communities will be spared thanks to your courage and resourcefulness."
Lois ducked her head so he wouldn't see her blush. "Yeah, well, they don't give out Pulitzers for garden show exhibitions."
"No they don't, but I somehow don't think that your motivation was strictly for the Pulitzer." Lois blushed again. "You pursued this investigation at great personal risk, to expose the bad guys and right a wrong that had potentially calamitous consequences."
"It's what I do." Lois gave him her best reporter stare. "So, *Santa*, why are you here?" He laughed and Lois watched as his belly jiggled just like a bowl… No she couldn't go there.
"Lois, every Christmas Eve I get to pick out one extra special, deserving person to grant a Christmas wish. This year I pick you."
"Huh?" Lois frowned. "I don't mean to sound ungrateful or anything, but isn't granting wishes more along the line of, oh I don't know, say an angel or fairy godmother or something?"
"Lo-is," she was startled by the way he used her name. "I grant the wishes of children all over the world this night. What's one more wish? Besides what have you got to lose?"
Lois shrugged. "You're right. I don't have anything to lose, but I'm afraid the one thing that I would wish for is probably a little out of your league."
Santa laughed again. "Well, we will just have to see about that, won't we?" He reached over and touched the lump on her head. "In the meantime, that appears to be quite a nasty bump you have there. Perhaps you'd best get some rest before you are rescued from this little predicament."
Lois suddenly found herself unable to keep her eyes open. She leaned forward and laid her head back against the steering wheel and promptly fell asleep with the sound of sleigh bells and laughter ringing in her ears.
Lois jerked her head up and looked wildly around. There was a fellow banging on the side window of the car. She couldn't hear what he was saying. As she reached for the handle she noticed that it was daylight, and who ever her savior was he had dug out a space around the driver's door of the car. She rolled down the window to reveal the anxious face of a young man about twenty two or twenty three years old.
"What?" Lois knew that wasn't the most intelligent response she could give, but she had apparently just woken up from being knocked out all night.
"I asked if you are okay, ma'am. Do you want me to take you to a doctor?"
Lois waved off his concern as she opened the door and began to climb out of the front seat. Her long-cramped muscles began to protest. "No, I'm fine. I'm on my way to Smallville."
The young man pointed back in the direction that Lois had come. "Well, ma'am, you missed the turn off about two miles back."
"Great." Lois was just a bit tired of being called ma'am so she yanked the back door open and pulled her bags out of the back. She saw the flashing blue light of the snowplow that the young man had obviously been driving when he had stopped to help her. "I don't suppose you know where the Kent farm is?"
He smiled. "Jonathan and Martha Kent? I sure do. They're just up the road about a mile or so. I can take you right to them." He began to assist her up the slope but she pulled her arm away and trudged up the hill ahead of him.
"That would be great, thanks." She didn't know if he had heard her, but that didn't matter, she wanted to get out of here, now. 'Ma'am,' indeed she thought in disgust.
Martha opened the door after Lois had set her bags down and knocked. Lois had waved goodbye to her young rescuer and had marched up to the porch straight away.
"My god, Lois, are you all right? We were so worried. Come in, come in."
"I'm fine, Martha, I just had a little accident about a mile back. I slid off the road." Lois had picked up her bags and followed Martha into the kitchen. "I guess I must've knocked myself out on the steering wheel because I just woke up when the snow plow guy found me this morning. You wouldn't believe the crazy dream I had. I… "
Lois suddenly realized that they weren't paying attention to her story. Martha had gone back to the table and sat next to Jonathan who must have been there already. They were both just smiling. Martha was near tears. Lois was confused and was just about to ask what was up when she suddenly heard a noise coming from the other room.
"That's it, Mom, I'm not waiting any longer. I'm going out to look… "
Lois' heart nearly stopped when she saw who came around the corner.
Lois dropped her bags and launched herself across the room and into the arms of the man she loved. He was back! She hugged him, then her lips sought his desperately as if to prove this wasn't a dream. She stopped just long enough to look deeply into in eyes.
"So, Santa did come through for me after all." She smirked.
Any further words that Clark might have wanted to say were quickly cut off by Lois' lips as they found his and silenced him in the best way possible. This was definitely going to be a very Merry Christmas.