By IRC Round Robin
Submitted August 2000
Summary: A visitor from the future knows how important it is that Lois and Clark get some time alone today… but no matter how hard he tries to help, things keep going wrong. A Charity Fanzine story.
A Charity Fanzine story, first released summer 1999.
An IRC Round Robin by ChrisM <email@example.com>; DorDor <firstname.lastname@example.org>; chrispat <email@example.com>; Eraygun <Eraygun@aol.com>; Lansbury <Lansbury1@aol.com>; PeaceEv <PEverett9@aol.com>; sharper <firstname.lastname@example.org>; zoomway <Zoomway@aol.com>
Clark awoke on that typical Thursday to the sound of light rain falling outside their bedroom window. He lay there for a few minutes listening to that sound as well as the even more pleasant sound of Lois's sleep-breathing. He loved quiet moments like this because they were sometimes all too few and far between for him and his lovely wife. Every day seemed to bring new challenges, discoveries, successes and irritations; but at least he had Lois.
He turned on his side now, moving slowly, not wanting to disturb her before she'd had her sleep out. Gently he reached out to pull the blanket further up on her shoulder … protecting her, watching out for her, just as he'd always done. Just as he always would do.
If only they could have more quiet moments like this, he thought, the way a "normal" couple could. Unfortunately, their kind of "normal" life was all too often what most people would term "bizarre." Clones … shrinking people … hostile extraterrestrials … amnesia!! What he wouldn't give for a truly ordinary day once in a while. Maybe today could be that day. Yeah, right! he grinned to himself, as he lay watching the rain hit the window. If he and Lois actually ever had a completely "normal" day, the universe would probably collapse upon itself in shock.
Beside him, Lois stirred a bit in her sleep before settling further into her pillow. It was because of her that he could feel "normal" at all. Her love, her understanding of who he was and who he needed to be was what had completed him. The fact that she so totally accepted him gave him just what he needed to face the world each day.
Outside the rain began to come down harder, and the sound of it seemed to have penetrated Lois' consciousness because she stirred again and reached up to rub her eyes. He propped himself up on his elbow and watched with appreciation her morning waking ritual. The way she stretched, and the cute little noises that she made were endlessly delightful to him. Right on cue, her eyes opened and she looked over to see if he were there.
"Hi," she murmured sleepily. "You're here."
He smiled and leaned over to kiss her good morning. "Yeah, it's nice, isn't it? No emergency calls so far this morning."
She cuddled over closer to him. "I'm certainly not going to complain."
They lay like that for a while longer, knowing that they had to get up and get ready for work, but not wanting to lose the moment. The world wouldn't let them alone for long, though. All too soon, the alarm went off.
Lois had just turned it off when Clark heard the sound of a siren and knew he'd have to go help out. As he flew off towards the emergency, he reflected once again on what constituted a "normal" life.
He guessed that there wasn't really any magic formula to it, nor could there really be any set rules. "Normal" was what was normal for them. And if that meant he had to fly off in tights and a cape to save the world, or that Lois might occasionally "dangle over the jaws of death," then so be it. He wouldn't trade their life together for any other number of so-called "normal" lives out there. Just knowing that Lois would be waiting for him to come home was enough.
Marius checked his notes one more time. He wanted to make sure that he hadn't forgotten anything in his excitement about his upcoming adventure. Just the thought of the possibility that he might be in the same room with Lois Lane and Clark Kent … He could feel goosebumps rising on his arms again, and he shivered in pleasant anticipation. A chance to observe them as they really lived … a chance to maybe even (dare he hope?) speak with them …
He clasped his hands together to keep them from shaking and took a deep breath. The chime of a nearby chronometer reminded him that he needed to be on his way. Hurriedly he gathered his belongings and rushed from the room.
Marius gave his wrist chronometer another quick glance before checking the controls on the small object that fit into the palm of his hand. He took a deep breath, mentally preparing himself for the brief feeling of disorientation and queasy stomach that always accompanied traveling for him, then activated the device.
And the time window opened and he stepped into it, knowing that this step would transport him to where another important step in the history of mankind had been taken.
*** Another window opened, and there was a soft thud as Clark returned. Lois by now was dressed.
"Ah, still in time for breakfast … if we hurry." Then she wrinkled her nose. "Fire?"
"Your sense of smell has become more acute, you know," he said, stepping over to her and kissing her nose. "By human standards anyway. You're right. There was a fire. One of the wrecked cars went up in flames, but *after* I got the last of the injured passengers out, fortunately."
Fortunately was right, she thought. Or the rest of his day would be ruined. He didn't like to be late; he would take the blame even though he was aware of not being at fault. That was just him, the guy she loved. Out loud she said, "I'm glad. Meet you downstairs in five? … After your shower?"
"Yes, ma'am," he grinned.
Breakfast was rushed as it was so often. By the time they reached the Planet, Lois had begun to feel somewhat stressed already, a feeling that she hated and thrived on at the same time.
When they got into the newsroom, Perry was already waiting. He had a new assignment for them. They were to cover President Garner's visit to Gotham City, one of them staying directly with the President and his entourage, the other one covering the reactions of the crowd.
Clark made a face at the thought of being separated from his wife, even if only temporarily. He had actually hoped for a quiet if boring day in the newsroom, finishing up old stories — and the opportunity to maybe take the afternoon off, spending it on the "assignment" that both he and Lois had made one of the most important ones in their lives.
Covering any of the President's appearances would be a full day's job for both of them, not to mention any emergencies that might come with it, ranging from assassination attempts to some of the President's female fans fainting at the sight of him. Clark sighed. They'd be lucky if they could have lunch together.
Picking up on Clark's sigh, Perry looked at his watch and then towards the door.
"Where is he?" Then turning back to Lois and Clark, he added, "You won't have to do this on your own this time, you know. You'll have help."
Help?, Lois wondered. Would they enjoy Jimmy's company? Not that she minded. She really liked the Planet's cub reporter, but with very little time to spend with her husband, she had hoped to spend that precious time with him alone. Privately, they had come to the conclusion that "Interruptus" was Jimmy's middle name.
Just then the object of her musings opened the door even before his knock had been answered, bursting into the room with his cheeks flushed and a little out of breath as usual.
"Sorry we're late, Chief," he announced. "He's from out of town and didn't know his way around."
Jimmy was feeling great, having played guide to the Planet's new intern, somebody who'd be even lower in the pecking order than he was.
"Ah, yes," Perry said, smiling encouragingly at the second new arrival. "Come on in. This is Lois Lane and Clark Kent. You'll be accompanying them on your first assignment today. — Lois, Clark, meet Marius Smith, our new intern and your aide on this assignment."
Lois and Clark eyed the new intern. He appeared to be in his early twenties and showed all the signs of embarrassing hero worship. Blushing brightly, he almost fell over while trying to shake their hands.
"I ..I'm so honored to m ..meet you," he stammered. "You're my heroes."
Lois looked at Clark and rolled her eyes.
Perry interrupted the awkward moment. "Enough of that. You'll have them asking for a raise. You better get a move on if you want to get to Gotham City before the President."
"Okay, Chief. Come on — Marius, was it?"
Marius blushed again. "Yes, Mr. Kent. I am so honored to be going on this assignment with you."
Clark sighed. It was going to be a long day.
They went down to the parking garage and retrieved Lois' Jeep.
As usual, Lois drove. Clark had gotten used to her driving, ignoring the near misses and curses from the other drivers unfortunate enough to get in her way, but Marius was practically faint with relief when they reached their destination.
Lois pulled up to the Gotham City Airport with a screech of tires. "Okay, you guys get to the gate. I'll park the car and meet you there."
Marius got out of the car and nearly fell. He was white as a sheet.
Clark looked at him with concern. "Are you okay?"
"Um…I think so. Does she always drive that way?"
Clark raised his eyebrows. "What way?
Marius wiped his brow, thinking it was a miracle that Utopia ever came to exist. "I'm all right now. I guess we better get over to the arrival gate, huh?"
Clark grinned. "Yeah. Come on."
As they walked to the gate Clark decided that he might as well try to engage Marius in some small talk. "So, Marius, where are you from?"
"Yes, you know, where do you hail from?"
Marius looked even more confused.
"Where were you born .. brought up.. etc?"
A look of comprehension entered Marius' face, followed rapidly by one of concern. The truth was he'd been born in Metropolis, or rather would be, several hundred years in the future. He couldn't tell that to Clark; it could cause problems later. He'd have to come up with another location, somewhere exotic and out of the way. Yes, he had it — the perfect place.
"I'm from New Jersey."
"How nice," Clark replied, repressing the urge to ask 'Which exit?'
They reached the arrival gate and found a massive crowd of reporters and Gotham City luminaries all waiting for the arrival of the President. At the far corner of the stage Clark spied a familiar face.
Leaving Marius behind, Clark walked through the crowd to the tall, dark-haired man
He extended his hand. "Good to see you again, Bruce."
"What brings a stockholder in the Gotham Gazette into this swarm of reporters?"
Bruce Wayne looked at his friend and smiled. "I'm on my way to London and thought I'd take a look at the President before I left." Lois approached the two men and was met with a warm handshake. "Lois, I see you're here with your husband."
Lois returned the handshake and gave him a big smile. 'That's right. We thought we could get some time alone together, but who knows?" she said, looking over the crowd.
Just then Marius made his way through the crush. "Excuse me… Pardon me… Could I get by?" Finally he made it to them and was stunned into silence by the man who was standing with them.
Clark said, "Bruce Wayne, this is Marius Smith. He's an intern who's helping us with this story."
Marius could only hold out his hand and give a soft handshake.
"Are you all right?" Bruce asked.
"Yesss… I think so. I was just a little taken aback… by the crowd." He could not believe his good fortune. "An not only being with Lois and Clark but to meet another important person from…"
Lois looked at him. "From…? You didn't finish your sentence."
"Ahhhh… from here," he motioned with his hands. Marius was concerned. That had been sloppy of him to make that kind of a slip. What if he made others? He was beginning to feel nervous at the prospect of revealing too much information.
Bruce looked at his watch and then back at his friends. "I have to fly if I 'm to make my connection. It was good seeing both of you. And nice meeting you, Marius."
"We'll have to get together and swap some stories."
"Sure, Clark. You name the time and place and I'll be there like a bat out of a cave."
Clark chuckled at his friend's remark and glanced at Marius, who looked as if he were about to ask a question but decided not to.
Bruce tossed a casual salute to Clark and the others and headed for the departure gate.
Their thoughts returned to the problem at hand. How and where would they get the best opportunity to catch the President's attention?
Lois smiled as they discussed the possibilities. "I know a sure-fire way of not only getting his attention but an interview, plus be back at the Daily Planet before my mid-morning coffee break."
Before Lois could elaborate, the sounds of a struggle, which the others couldn't hear, caught Clark's attention. Clark shifted his eyes around to pinpoint the skirmish.
Lois, ever attuned to the need for Superman to act, caught her husband's subtle distraction and began speaking quickly. "Uh, here's the plan. Clark, why don't you head around that way? Marius, you come with me."
Clark, taking advantage of the exit line his wife had given him, rushed to some curtains on one side of the room. A quick scan showed that they merely covered a blank wall, rather than a window, and he ducked behind them, emerging from the far end in the suit.
An instant later, he was helping a security guard subdue a rather inept would-be assassin. On the edges of his superhearing, he could still hear Lois outlining her "sure-fire" plan for Marius.
Subduing the assassin was the work of less than a minute, and Clark turned the man over to the Secret Service even as he continued listening to Lois's plan. He shook his head. Lois was the most brilliant woman he'd ever met, but some of her plans… Not workable was a charitable way to put it.
And casting herself in front of the President's limousine was one of those.
He grinned. Sometimes it was nice to be the one to come up with the workable plan, even if he did have a certain advantage in the present situation. He zipped over to join Lois and Marius.
"Hi, Lois," he said, making sure he stayed in his Superman persona, arms folded over his chest, stern, virtuous expression on his face. "I have a little scoop for you."
Her face brightened and he saw her abandon her plan and come up with another one — the one he was thinking of, he hoped.
"Oh, S-Superman! Thank goodness you're here! I need your help."
"Whatever I can do, Lois. You know that." That was hard to manage with the sultry look she gave him, and he tightened his arms across his chest, wishing for the thousandth time that the suit wasn't quite so revealing.
She leaned forward and, resting a hand on his arm, whispered in his ear. Yep, he was right. Clark had a hard time biting back his smile, but with Marius watching so closely, it behooved him to be on his best behavior.
She straightened up and asked, "Well?"
Superman frowned. "That isn't exactly the kind of emergency that I was expecting, Lois." His gaze slid over her shoulder to Marius' star-struck face—and back to Lois', indicating their audience.
She rolled her eyes. "I know it isn't, but… please?"
He heaved a reluctant sigh. So much play-acting to go through just to keep the secret identity. He glanced toward the Presidential entourage and saw President Garner waving him over. "All right. You can come, too."
Lois turned back to Marius. "Marius, I don't think the President will let you come, so could you start getting some crowd reactions?" She waited, expecting a question about what Clark was doing, but he just nodded. "I don't know where Clark got to… " She turned to Superman.
"I think he's getting those crowd reactions. Anyway, I saw him over there." He waved vaguely in the direction he'd been earlier.
Lois shrugged and turned to Marius. "Well, Perry always wants lots of that stuff, Marius, so do what you can. If it's any good, we can put yours in with Clark's."
Superman made his way through the crowd with Lois in tow. A Secret Service man stopped them, then they passed through the protective circle to where the President was getting into his limousine.
Marius stood and watched the couple blend through the crowd. Superman might not have been as tall as the statue had depicted him, but the shadow he cast stretched out to the horizon.
He chastised himself for romanticizing Superman and Lois. They were human — yes, even Superman. They weren't gods; they weren't perfect, but they did exude a kind of chemistry and charisma that could not be denied.
He could almost feel the electricity spark between them when they were close. There was an intuitive understanding of each other and what they had to do to keep up the pretense of Superman and Clark Kent being two separate people. He shook his head with admiration.
Marius squared his shoulders and turned to a man standing near him. "I'm with the Daily Planet," he said. No one would suspect the thrill he felt uttering those words.
Wondering what exactly Lois expected of him, he asked a man simply, "Why did you show up to see the President?"
Without looking at Marius, the man shrugged. "I'm the limo driver for the President's kids. I stay out of politics. It's bad for paychecks."
Marius sighed. "Well, thank you." He then walked up to a woman bedecked with cameras. "I'm with the Daily Planet. Could you tell me why you showed up to see the President?"
The woman raised an eyebrow. "You're kidding, right?"
Marius shook his head innocently. "I don't think so."
The woman held up all the cameras around her neck. "See this? I'm hoping it will start a fashion trend and the First Lady will commission me to make a necklace just like this for her."
Marius nodded thoughtfully. "Thank you," he said, writing that down. "It's very nice."
Marius then found some children who said they were there because their teacher made them show up, but others said they just wanted to see him.
Finally Lois and Superman rejoined him.
"Well," Lois sighed. "How'd it go?"
"Very well, I think. Some interesting people here."
Lois smiled. "Great," she said, but looked conspiratorially at Clark. "I guess you can be on your way, Superman. I'll drive Marius back to the Planet where he can type up his notes."
Marius swallowed. He had no idea how to type. He wasn't even sure what it meant for this time era, but he smiled weakly. "Sounds… good."
Clark, taking pity on the queasy Marius, intervened. "Actually, Lois, what if I fly Marius to the Planet? That way you can… meet your husband at home. An anti-Garner constituent pelted him with a free hot dog and beer."
Marius sighed with relief. "*Thank* you, Superman."
Lois winked at Clark. "I guess I'll help him out of that suit… um… and into a clean one."
Marius watched her head for the parking lot. He was feeling anxious. He had to make sure Lois and Clark… had time alone today. It was crucial. Maybe just Superman giving him a lift to the Planet was interfering.
Superman faced Marius. "Ready?"
"Well, you're an important person, Superman. Perhaps I should just get back to the Planet with a… the passenger conveyance… the yellow one…"
Superman tipped his head to the side. "A taxi?"
Superman placed a hand on Marius' shoulder. "Did you have any of the free beer?"
"Oh, no, Superman. It's hard to come by where I'm from."
Superman shook his head and lifted Marius. "That'll be the day in New Jersey," he said. And with that, the two blurred into the sky.
*** Lois paced around in the apartment. Nearly half an hour later, her husband entered through the window.
"What kept you?"
Clark's brow furrowed. "Honey, I have my doubts about Marius."
Lois smiled and put her arms around his neck. "Not everyone is cut out to be a journalist, Clark."
"I know," he said softly. "But most of them know what a taxi is and that beer is not an endangered species in New Jersey."
Clark stepped back a moment and spun into a tee-shirt and blue jeans. "I read his notes, honey. He's got the weirdest shorthand I've ever seen, but I swear he wrote something about a necklace made of Nikon and Minolta."
Lois laughed. "You must have misread that."
"I hope so, or Perry is gonna launch that kid through the closest window."
Lois tugged Clark to the sofa. Her mind wasn't on the intern. "He'll sink or swim, like we all do. Let's… find something better to talk about."
"Mm," Clark cooed. "What did you have in mind?"
Lois pushed him onto the sofa. He fell willingly, pulling her on top of him. As Lois straddled his lap, Clark kissed her neck. "I love it when you… take charge."
Lois closed her eyes. "I have to. You obsess too much."
Clark continued kissing down her neck. "I'm obsessing right now, but I think you'll like it," he said against her throat.
She removed his glasses. "Obsess, Clark. Keep that focus."
He laughed as he nipped her collar bone. Focusing *really* well, Clark planted a foot against the arm of the sofa, and began moving them both downward. He grabbed the end of his tee-shirt and lifted it up and over his head and threw it over the lampshade. Lois giggled and made a grab for his waistband. At that moment the phone rang.
Clark started to get up, but Lois held him back. "Let the answering machine get it."
"Okay," he said with a smile and a sexy growl.
<… BEEP… No one is here now to take your call. Leave a message and we'll get back to you… BEEP… >
<"Lois! Clark! I know you're there, and you better by God pick up that phone!">
Lois and Clark fell off the sofa crawling over each other to answer Perry's… charming request.
Lois, completely breathless for two reasons, lifted the receiver. She brushed back her hair and took a calming breath. "Yes, Perry?"
"You and Mr. Kent finish feeding the fish and get your tails back here on the double and tell me what the hell you taught this… space cadet about journalism!"
"'Space cadet' sounds about right," Clark muttered under his breath as collected his discarded tee-shirt. "The way he talked, it really made you wonder what planet he came from."
"Perry sounded angry all right," Lois sighed. "Another 'Interruptus.' He's even better than Jimmy."
"Right. Doesn't even need to be in person."
Lois realized then that Clark was as upset about this one as she was. Normally he took nuisances in stride.
Hoping the stay at the Planet was going to be a short one, they didn't bother to change into more formal wear, so the young time traveler got a look at his idols in casual clothing — Clark in jeans and tee-shirt, Lois in miniskirt and blouse. This time period certainly had something going for it, he thought as he appreciatively studied Lois' long legs.
Most of the conversation was lost on him.
He had been quite proud of himself when he had eventually figured out how to get the archaic computer to work. It was good that he was a fan of those old celluloid movies, especially the ones depicting a vision of the future, which were surprisingly often quite accurate. Acutely aware of the stares he was getting as he repeatedly told the computer on his desk to turn itself on, he had suddenly recalled another fictional time traveler in a very similar situation. After a vain attempt to talk into the pointer device, he then remembered that things in the 1990's were still operated manually to a large degree. Having found the "on" switch on the machine, he then eagerly started a two-fingered letter hunt on the keyboard.
In spite of the few Kryptonian genes coursing in his blood that gave him slightly more than human speed, it had taken him quite some time to come up with his carefully drafted account of what he had learned today. He was planning to also use this paper, or a more detailed version of it, to turn in for his history class. So many of the little details of this time period had gotten lost.
Obviously, though, his superior in this time frame wasn't too excited about his skills as a writer.
'I'm a historian, or a prospective one, not a journalist," he had almost countered, catching himself just in the nick of time.
" … and so the country's ruler and his espoused not only lead in politics, but also in everyday things such as fashion design. We can expect Minolta and Nikon necklaces to become a fashion trend-setter for the next season," Perry finished reading.
There was a long and awkward silence in the room. Marius still wasn't sure what the problem was. Maybe his writing style wasn't the most polished, but surely they would appreciate his observation of details. And they did, but not in the way he had hoped for.
"Son, that is the lousiest piece of journalism I've ever seen," Perry finally blurted out. "You got the highest recommendation by this Janus person, but I'll be damned if he understands one bit about writing for a newspaper. I can't imagine how that fellow ever became a journalism instructor at your school."
Marius inspected the tips of his shoes. "Well, he is first and foremost a historian," he supplied. Suddenly his face brightened. "And he always says that journalism is writing history in the present tense, which is why he encourages all his students to take classes in it and helps us find intern positions. I've been on the yearbook committee for three years in a row…"
"The yearbook…!" Perry started.
By then Clark had recovered sufficiently to feel some pity for the young man who was obviously trying hard, but failing miserably. "Well, it seems to me that they do things a bit differently where you're from, don't they, Marius?"
Marius looked at the superhero, who had just risen another notch in popularity with him.
"Yes, sir," he stammered, not so much because of Perry's assault, but because he was becoming aware that he might be jeopardizing the very event and its circumstantial details that he had come to study.
After all, these two had been home, not answering the phone, and probably engrossed in setting the scene leading up to it. He swore he'd make it up to them if he got out of this one alive, for by now even he had come to realize that Perry was fuming.
"And just where would that be? Your application didn't say you were from abroad."
Marius did a quick mental run-through of the national states in this time period. Deciding on one of the smallest ones, he replied, "Vanuatu, sir."
Clark let out a whistle. "That would explain a few things…"
"And they have a school there? What kind, clown college?" Perry said, then catching himself, apologized. "Sorry."
Marius blushed. He had never been good at extemporaneous things, and this was stranger than any spontaneous play he had ever participated in. Above all, though, his identity must not be discovered and history must not be influenced.
He cleared his throat, still looking at the floor. "It's quite new, but it *is* accredited and we take our studies very seriously. But…"
Perry, suddenly remembering his first days at a newspaper and his own blunders, softened a little. "It's all right, son. But I think you'll agree that before we send you out interviewing people and writing articles again, you need to have a look at some *real* journalism. I'm going to set you up to work in the archive for the next two weeks."
Knowing that he wouldn't be around long enough to gather dust with the old newspapers in the archive, Marius gave a relieved smile and nodded in agreement.
The interrogation finished, Lois and Clark headed home the fast way, using the runway on top of the roof of the Daily Planet.
Back at the brownstone, they decided to try and pick things up where they had left off. They had just gotten comfortable on the couch again, minus some garments that were way too hot and uncomfortable for the activity they were about to engage in, when there was a persistent ring of the doorbell.
When it didn't cease, Clark, bare-footed and -chested, padded over to open it. There was nothing there however, except a take-out box from an Italian restaurant containing two servings of mixed pasta and a small greeting card wishing them a nice evening.
Depositing the box on the table, they had settled on the sofa yet again when a sound began to fill the air, somewhat like the scraping of a fiddle.
Clark winced and covered his ears. The sound felt like a knife in his head.
"Clark, what's wrong," Lois asked with concern.
"That noise… it feels just like when you were talking when I was trying to superhear."
Lois got up and went to the terrace door. To her surprise she saw Marius, playing some weird kind of musical instrument.
"Marius! What are you doing here? And please stop that awful noise."
Marius looked crushed. "I'm sorry. I was just trying to make up for having interrupted you earlier."
Lois just stared at him. "What do you mean… interrupting what?" Suddenly she remembered what she and Clark had been about to do when Perry called. She blushed. "How on earth did you know about that?" she practically shouted.
Marius blushed too and shuffled his feet. "Oh… well, I guess I just assumed…" His voice trailed away.
"Assumed what?" Lois was getting more and more angry. "What do you think we are? Rabbits?"
Just then Clark came out and put his arm around Lois. "Honey, calm down. I think he means well. Thank you for trying to serenade us, Marius, but I think we would prefer if you just left, okay?"
Marius blushed again. He was mortified. Here he was trying his best to make sure he didn't mess up the timeline and he was doing just that. "Um, I'll be going now. Was the pasta good?"
Clark's eyebrows crawled into his hair. "I think you'd better go now. Goodbye, Marius."
As the back gate closed behind Marius, he muttered to Lois, "How the heck did he know about pasta?"
Lois started to answer, but Clark shook his head. "Never mind, honey. Right now, I don't care. What matters to me is that we are alone at last."
Pulling Lois into a close embrace, Clark began to nuzzle her neck.
"Mmmmmm, I like how you cut to the chase, Mr. Kent."
"See, there are advantages to being single-minded and focused," Clark replied.
Scooping her up in his arms he turned and was heading back to the couch when he suddenly got that familiar faraway look in his eyes.
"Oh, no, don't tell me. What is it now? Fire, earthquakes, mudslides in California?"
"Actually, it's something a little closer to home. There's fire on the docks. Normally I wouldn't go but it's near the chemical warehouse district…"
Lois nodded. "… and if a fire hits one of those building, it's bye-bye to a large chunk of the city. I understand. In fact, maybe I ought to go with you. This could be a great story."
Lois grinned. "Just kidding. I've covered enough fires in my career. I'll stay here and maybe we can start our own fire once you get back."
"Count on it." Clark replied as he spun into his suit and disappeared out the window at superspeed.
*** "Olsen! Get your butt in here right now!" Perry shouted out his office door.
"What's the problem, Chief?"
"There's a major fire down at the wharves and I want you to cover it."
"Yes, you. You keep complaining that you want to do more than take pictures and do research. Well, here's your chance, so get a move on." Looking up from his desk, Perry saw Marius reentering the newsroom. "And take that Marius fellow with you. Maybe he's competent enough to cover a fire."
Jimmy frowned. "Take Marius with me?"
"Is there an echo in here?"
"Come on, Marius, let's see what we can get into," Jimmy said as he looked at Marius.
"Yes, I would like to see a large area combust into flames."
Jimmy looked at him as if he was a brick shy of a full load. "Oookay, anything you say."
They left the Planet and headed for Jimmy's car.
*** Lois was busy around the brownstone going from room to room. A smile was on her lips as she placed the fresh flowers in a vase and carried it upstairs to their bedroom.
"Kent, you may be off fighting a fire, but I am going to lay kindling that will ignite *you* into flames."
She placed the flowers on the nightstand and moved to the dresser. Opening the top drawer she took out a new burgundy lace teddy she had bought at Victoria's Secret. She placed it on the bed and looked in another drawer.
She took out the calendar she kept there and started to count the days. She sat down on the end of the bed as a strange sensation traveled over her body. This is going to be the day, she thought. I know it. She sat there for a moment as if any movement would break the spell of serenity she was feeling.
She looked around again. "I want everything to be perfect. I want music, " she said aloud as she moved to the CD player, "and I want candles."
Lois was busy putting the final touches to the room when from downstairs she heard the familiar swooshing sound. She moved down the stairs so quickly her feet barely made contact with each step.
Clark had just spun into his street clothes as she approached. "Hi, everything okay?"
"I saw Jimmy and Marius down there so Perry has the story covered. Why don't we pick up where we left off?"
Lois moved into his arms and an instant later he was engulfed in her kiss. At first it surprised him but at the same time it excited him to feel her devour him with the kiss. She moved her head to one side as she looked into his eyes and gave him that look which told him she wanted more. Much more.
"Oh, Lois," he said softly against her ear as he began to place soft kisses against the curve of her neck. Neither one was conscious of the first ring of the phone.
"Noooo, not now…" Lois lowered her head as Clark walked uncomfortably toward the phone.
"Kent residence," he said as he held the receiver in a death grip. "Dad? Is everything all right? When did it happen? I'll be right there."
Lois looked at him as he placed the receiver back on the phone. "Mom fell down the basement steps and Dad has her in the emergency room. I want to be there."
"Go… of course… go! Wait, do you want me to go, too?"
"I can make better time without taking you. But I'll come back for you if I see I'll be there long."
He was out the door before she could answer.
Lois let out a sigh that sounded very much like the unflattering sound made when blowing through a burst balloon.
"Well," she whispered. "What'll it be this time, Lois? Solitaire? Cold shower? An aggravating sub-titled movie that will put me to sleep? The timing was *so* good!" she moaned.
The phone rang again. "I hate Alexander Graham Bell," she said and picked up the receiver. "What! I mean… hello… Jimmy, slow down. How's that again?"
Lois shook her head. "Of course you and Marius got arrested. The day wouldn't be complete… Nothing, I'll be right there," she said, and hung up the phone… definitively.
A few hours later…
Lois drummed her fingers on the sergeant's desk. He glanced up, tapped his pencil and shook his head.
Lois sighed and folded her arms. "Well, how much longer is it going to take? We're talking about two twenty-year-old guys. How much trouble could they be in?"
"You're talking about the prime 'perp' age, Lane," Henderson commented dryly as he entered the booking station.
"Come on, Henderson, you *know* Jimmy."
He nodded. "And that's the only reason I'm releasing him and his out-of-town accomplice."
"Accomplice? What exactly did they do?"
"Lewd and immoral conduct in a public place. Fourth degree sexual assault."
"That's the charges for the out-of-towner; Jimmy is charged with minor assault involving an altercation with the victim's husband."
Lois was speechless.
Henderson looked at her. "Any idea how *far* out of town this perp comes from? Say, the Horseshoe Nebula?"
Lois rubbed her forehead. "I have no idea, he—"
She was interrupted by Jimmy and Marius entering. Jimmy looked shell-shocked. Marius always looked that way.
Lois ran to Jimmy. "Are you all right?"
"I do *not* want to talk about it, Lois. I want to go home, take a shower, and… and step out of it as Patrick Duffy," he said, and walked past her without another word.
Lois approached Marius, who seemed complacent… complacent for him anyway.
"I'm not really sure," he said. "Jimmy had said we were doing the shoot at the fire 'by the seat of our pants' and I was unfamiliar with the expression, so he explained. Later, a woman who had been sitting nearby asked that I hold her seat for her —"
He nodded. "I'm sorry I caused so much trouble. The man in the infirmary said Jimmy's nose wasn't broken."
Lois grabbed his arm and hustled him from the police station. "Look, I know you're not from here, Marius, but you have got to start at least *trying* to… to… fit in… to…"
"Yes, thank you. I usually have Clark fill in the blanks for me."
"How is Clark?" he asked with a bit of concern in his eyes. "I mean the two of you were able to… I mean you got to… spend some time together?"
Lois blinked. "Yes, we spent some time together, but his mother was injured and so he flew… uh… Superman flew him home to Smallville."
Marius clucked his tongue. "This is bad, and it's all my fault."
Lois folded her arms. "I know you've been something of a walking disaster, Marius, but I hardly think you beamed over to Smallville and greased the steps at the farmhouse."
Marius sat on a brick railing looking quite forlorn. "My… problems have caused you and Clark problems. I never thought it would be so hard fitting in here, I really didn't."
Lois softened. "Being someplace new always takes some adjustment. I also think you're trying too hard. Maybe you should have gone to a small paper before taking on the Daily Planet. It's not—" Lois looked up at the sound of the 'whooshing thud' . "Superman?"
Clark did that antsy stance that meant he wanted to say something as Clark, but couldn't. "Uh… I heard you were here, Lois…"
"How's Clark's mother?"
"You flew him there, Superman."
"Oh. Oh, yes… well, sprained wrist when she tried to break the fall, but that's it. She's fine."
Lois sighed with relief and then unexpectedly hugged Superman. "Thank you for taking such good care of my husband."
Clark returned the embrace lightly. "Happy to, Lois. He's waiting for your… return home. Can I give you a lift?"
"Well, there's Marius here, and—"
"I have a hotel room, but thank you. A taxicab will be here directly."
Clark smiled. "The yellow conveyance."
Marius blushed. "Yes. I wish you two the best, and great success in your… I… hope the night will be uneventful… other than that which should be."
Lois looked up at Superman and whispered, "I won't ask if you don't."
"Deal," he smiled. "Well, Marius, if you're sure you'll be all right."
Clark picked Lois up into his arms and flew into the twilight.
Marius smiled. "He's not even from this planet, and yet he makes blending in here look so easy." He sighed. "I'm not sure I could ever get the hang of it."
He pulled a silver object from his pocket that the desk sergeant had labeled 'electric razor' and tossed it a meter or so. It bloomed into a time window.
"How did Lois explain this? Oh yes," he smiled. He put two fingers into his mouth and whistled, "Hey! Taxi!", then stepped through the time window and vanished with it.
*** Clark set Lois down as they landed in the living room. She put her arms around his neck. "I'm going to get changed… again."
"Honey, I'm beat," he said, trying very hard not to smile.
"Cute. Is that your cue to run off into the bedroom and put on some black chiffon?"
Clark laughed and lifted her over his head and onto his shoulders as he began to carry her upstairs. "I did get some black silk briefs."
Clark slid Lois from his shoulders, kissed her and then lowered her the rest of the way.
She looked at him expectantly. "Well?"
Clark smiled. "Well what?"
"Let's see 'em."
"You want to see the briefs?"
"No, Clark, your baseball card collection… *yes*, I want to see the briefs."
"You change, and I'll be waiting," he said softly.
Lois smiled up at him seductively. "Fair enough," she said, and disappeared into the bathroom.
Clark hesitated a moment, and then spun himself out of the red Superman briefs and into the black silk ones, but in this case, they did live up to the name 'brief'. Clark wondered if they were a little *too* brief.
He looked at himself critically in the full length mirror making… faces. He felt vulnerable. It was odd. Lois had seen him completely naked, but, well, this was different. He wanted to look sexy for her, but he didn't feel he was a good judge of that.
The guy in the store said Lois would love them, yet seemed a little too insistent he try them on. He had opted to just take his word for it. He did like the feel of the silk. It was sensual. But would Lois really like it?
The door to the bathroom opened. Lois, who had planned to leap to the bed and pose seductively, just stood there.
"Oh, Clark," was all she could manage to say.
He frowned. "They're kind of low cut… well, and high cut, but—"
"Yes," she said almost hypnotically as her eyes followed the narrow ridge of hair leading from his navel and vanishing into his waistband. "Yes they are. Would you… please turn around… slowly?"
Clark smiled. Oh yeah, she liked them. He turned slowly until he was completely facing her again. "Like this?"
She approached him, her eyes still cast downward. "Perfect," she sighed.
Clark placed his hand under her chin and tipped her face up to his. Her eyes were so large and expressive. What she felt was always there, and at this moment, desire filled them.
"My turn," he whispered. "I want to know how satin feels against silk."
"Mm," Lois purred, pressing her body firmly against his and rubbing upward. "Like this?"
Clark's eyes rolled back. "Exactly like that." He tugged her earlobe with his lips. "I love the burgundy. Maybe I'll get charcoal briefs next time."
Lois' hands moved down his back, lower and lower. It seemed she thought silk felt sensual too.
Clark put a hand behind Lois' head and then looked into her eyes. "You feel this too, don't you?" he asked softly. "That it's going to happen, and it will be tonight."
She stroked his cheek. "It's always special, but you're right, I do feel it. I've felt it all day."
"Come on," he said tenderly. and lifted her into his arms. "Let's make a baby."
Clark placed her on the bed. This night they would have it all… Lois would have it all. He eased himself down next to her, and placed a hand just inside her thigh. She closed her eyes.
"I love you, Lois," he whispered, his hand slowly moving upward.
She turned her head and stroked his hair. His eyes were so intense, but always kind, always aware of her. Though Clark could lose himself to the passion of the moment, as any other man, that one element, that part that Lois once alluded to so vaguely as "if you only knew how different you are from other men," was the quality that made their lovemaking transcend all others.
"I love you too," she was barely able to say, before his mouth sealed over hers.
Clark gave himself entirely to the kiss. He was part of her even then, long before any deeper passion, with a connection more intense than most human men could attain.
It was always like the first kiss with Lois, and for why that was so, he had no answer. But that it was so touched Lois' heart every time. It was like a sustenance they received from each other; the more they fed, the deeper the hunger.
Locked into that mystic place that only Clark could take her, they were alone; everything else spun away. Clark's breathing sighed in rhythm with hers. The moon cast their shadows in various positions as they moved together slowly at first.
They would make the night last… caressing hands… loving words… holding on to the night until at last the blackness turned to gray, the gray to pink, and they lay exhausted in each other's embrace.
Lois curled up against Clark's chest; he was almost in a protective position. He belonged to her.
He rubbed her back. "Honey," he said, his voice drowsy, "if we didn't make a baby tonight, it's not because we didn't try."
Lois rested her head against his shoulder. Her eyes now were much too tired to keep open.
"We did, Clark," was all she said before sleep overtook them both. Neither was aware of a gleam of light in the corner of their room.
Marius stepped through the time window quietly and placed a silver baby rattle on the foot of the bed. He knew it was wrong, and they would awake to a mystery; but he, like most in Utopia, understood what they'd sacrificed to make the world a better place, and so had to leave something.
He stepped back into the window, and the room darkened again.
The future was beginning.