By Tank Wilson <Tank1@aol.com>
Submitted: August 2001
Summary: Lois, now the editor of The Daily Planet, has been alone a long time. An old friend shows up to celebrate her birthday, but he's not who she's really longing to see.
This is a sequel to the first fic I ever sent to the archives called Faith, Hope… and More Hope. It was set in the comic book continuity but much of the characterizations were borrowed from the Lois and Clark television series. It helps to be familiar with the original story to understand this fully. And for those who aren't aware, in current comics continuity Bruce Wayne (Batman) owns the Daily Planet.
This is pure fluff. All characters trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. Any and all feedback welcome at TankW1@aol.com
Lois Lane, editor-in-chief of the Daily Planet, rubbed her eyes, then pushed her reading glasses back up to the bridge of her nose. A few more keystrokes on her computer finished off the edits on tomorrow's page one story. A push of another key sent the story down to composing.
Things had gone surprisingly well today, and it looked like she might even be able to leave on time for a change. Not that she particularly wanted to get home on time. There was nothing for her there but some cold leftovers and bad television reruns.
Ever since she took over the job of editor-in-chief full time, after Perry White's retirement, she had embraced the incredible demands of the job. She had welcomed the long hours needed to put out the nation's top newspaper. She even found herself continually getting involved with the internet version of the paper, much to the patient annoyance of her friend and colleague, James Olsen. Jimmy was the editor of the Internet Planet, and it was a job he was born for. She knew it was only his respect for her as his boss, and their friendship, that had kept Jimmy from telling her to butt out long ago.
When one didn't have a life away from the job, it was desirable that the job provided a convenient excuse. Oh, it wasn't as if Lois didn't still have friends that she occasionally socialized with, but, even after all this time, their transparent pity grated on her nerves. She knew that a few of her friends had tried to arrange something with her today, due to the supposed significance of the day, but she had managed to dodge them all with the excuse of work and the promise of a get together in the near future. They knew as well as she did that the get together would never happen. Jimmy had phoned her from the Online Newsprint Convention in San Francisco. He'd apologized for not being there today, but Lois had told him not to worry; they'd have a nice dinner together when he got back.
Lois desperately shuffled through the files on her desk looking for something she could legitimately work on when a rap on the door frame of her office got her attention. She couldn't help but smile when she saw who was standing in her doorway.
"Bruce! Come in. What brings you to Metropolis?" Lois got out of her chair, came around the desk and gave her good friend a big hug.
Bruce Wayne slipped out of Lois' embrace with a smile on his face. "What, I can't visit the paper when I'm in town? I am the publisher, after all. I feel it's my duty to make sure my wage slaves are diligent in their duties."
Lois grinned at the handsome billionaire. "I'm sure that's why you just happen to stop in today — after everyone else has gone home." Lois cocked a brow at Bruce. "This wouldn't happen to have anything to do with the fact that it's my birthday, would it?"
Bruce's brow furrowed, as if in thought, then he gave up and grinned back at Lois. "Hey, what's so wrong about a publisher wanting to take his favorite employee out to dinner on her birthday." Bruce's grin turned sly. "Especially such a landmark birthday too." Bruce laughed when he saw Lois scowl at him. "Come on, Lois. You must know that, besides still being the sharpest person in the newspaper business, most women in their thirties would kill to look as good as you do at … what was it again?" Bruce had trouble hiding his smirk. "Oh, yes, that's right — you turned fifty today, didn't you?"
Lois' eyes shot lasers at the smiling entrepreneur. "Don't remind me!" Lois wasn't able to fight Bruce's teasing manner though, and finally broke into a smile herself.
Bruce suddenly looked thoughtful. "I'm sorry, I really should have phoned ahead. You probably already have plans for the evening."
Lois' laugh was sardonic. "No, not really. Jimmy and his wife are in California and Lucy, Ron, and the kids are in Florida visiting my folks. I've had phone conversations with everyone during the course of the day." Lois shook her head in amusement. "I'm amazed at how bad all my friends and family sing. I heard some of the worst renditions of Happy Birthday today that you can imagine."
"I guess that means maybe I shouldn't sing for you tonight then?" Bruce asked, grinning.
"It depends. Can you carry a tune in a bucket?"
"Then save it." Lois patted Bruce on the arm. "Actually, I am glad you showed up. There's really nothing more I can do here today, and I wasn't looking forward to a long boring night alone in front of the TV."
After tossing her glasses on the desk, Lois walked over and pulled her coat off the hook by the door and handed it to Bruce. "I can't think of anything I'd rather do tonight than have a quiet dinner with a good friend."
Bruce helped Lois on with her wrap. "Well, in that case, lead on, milady."
Lois looked about her. This was more like it. Bruce had offered to take her to the Metro Ritz, Metropolis' newest, poshest restaurant. It was the kind of place that you had to make reservations months in advance just to get on the waiting list. That is, of course, unless your name was Bruce Wayne. Men like Bruce Wayne didn't have to worry about minor details like a reservation. The difference was that Bruce rarely took advantage of his station for his own gratification, unlike a certain other billionaire that she'd had the distinct displeasure to have known and crossed paths with much too often.
Lois had declined the offer and had, instead, requested that they go to a more comfortable place. Bruce was only too happy to agree. Lois fingered the simple oilcloth table spread and the corny candle stuck in a wine bottle centerpiece. Giorgio's had always been a favorite place of hers and Clark's. It was an old fashion Italian place that thought the food was the most important aspect of dining out. It was clean and the ambiance was pleasant, but the pasta was to die for. She hadn't been there since… well for a long time.
Bruce picked up one of the menus that had been left with them. "Since you are familiar with this place, I defer to your judgment."
Lois couldn't help but feel a glow of warm friendship when she saw Bruce smile at her like that. "Well, it has been quite some time, but if they haven't changed since I was here last, any of their pasta entrees are wonderful, and I know they used to bake their breads fresh every morning."
Suddenly a flash bulb went off and the pair looked up in time to see an enterprising young photographer dash off after having snapped their picture through the front window of the little restaurant.
Bruce shook his head. "I'm sorry, Lois. I'd hoped that we could have been spared this. I'm sure our pictures will be splashed all over the celebrity gossip pages of tomorrow's papers."
Lois chuckled sympathetically at Bruce's obvious concern. "Not all papers. Besides, Bruce, we've had dinner together before and I lived through those sordid speculations of being Bruce Wayne's latest conquest then. I can surely survive them again. At least until you attend your next gala affair with some pert young beauty on your arm."
Bruce smiled sadly. "Yes, but they are just props. When I'm with you is the only time I'm really out to just enjoy the pleasure of a woman's company. To enjoy the company of a true friend."
It tugged at Lois' heart to hear him talk like that. If it was possible, Lois thought that he was even more lonely than she was. Bruce Wayne, the infamous Batman, had come to her years ago and had admitted to having feelings for her. That night had really been an eye opener for her. A lot of emotions were examined and discussed. At the end of their encounter Lois felt they understood each other and the doorway to a solid friendship had been opened.
Bruce had been a real lifesaver for Lois these past several years. While it was true that she did have other friends, and family, there was no one other than Martha and Jonathan who she could really unburden herself to. But even as great and supportive as Martha and Jonathan were, there were doubts and fears that she just couldn't bring herself to saddle the aging couple with. Bruce had been there for her on so many occasions. Whenever the loneliness got to be too much she could give him a call, and within hours he would be there for her. To hold her hand and tell her that she would get through whatever problem she was facing. He would remind her of her strength, and her resolve to continue to make this world a better place.
For all that he had helped her survive the last several years, she fervently hoped that she had, in some small way, helped him also. Bruce Wayne didn't have friends. He had business acquaintances and sycophants.The Batman only had colleagues. His loyal retainer and surrogate father, Alfred, had passed on years ago. And both Dick, the first Robin, and Tim, the last Robin, had gone on to lives of their own. Lois wasn't sure but she might be the only real friend that he had.
While she thanked the fates that be for allowing her a friend like Bruce, it still didn't fill the void in her life. It didn't fill the void in her heart, or in her soul. Only one man had the power to do that.
Bruce watched Lois sigh as she looked about the place. "This was a favorite spot for you and Clark, wasn't it?"
Lois blushed briefly. "Yes."
"You still miss him terribly, don't you." It wasn't a question.
"Of course I do. I will continue to miss him, until he comes back to me."
Bruce frowned. "Lois, it has been ten years."
Lois shook her head. "Bruce, you've been a terrific friend to me over the last several years, but we've had this conversation before. It doesn't matter how long it's been, all that matters is that someday he will come back." Lois clenched the napkin in her fist. "Someday, I will look up and…" Her voice dropped to a barely heard whisper. "Clark?"
Lois sat frozen in her seat not daring to believe what her eyes were seeing. It would be just too cruel a joke. Just coming through the door of the little restaurant was a tall, handsome man. His dark hair was slicked back and his suit was impeccably pressed. He pushed his glasses back up onto the bridge of his nose with his finger. A small smile twitched the corners of his mouth as they locked eyes and he walked toward her table.
"Omigod." Lois' voice caught on the lump that was rising in her throat.
Bruce was puzzled by Lois' behavior. Turning to see what it was that had captured Lois' attention, he too was struck speechless by the man who approached their table.
Upon arriving the tall man addressed the stunned pair. "Am I interrupting something?"
On trembling legs, Lois slowly stood up, her eyes never leaving the man's face. "Clark?"
His smile for her seemed to add extra light into the room. "Yes, Lois, it's me."
Lois nearly knocked the table over as she threw herself into the arms of her beloved husband. Her lips hungrily sought his, with a passion she hadn't felt in over ten years. It was if she was trying to make up for lost time all at once.
After breaking for air, Lois leaned back and stared up into the face that she was so afraid she'd never actually see again. There were a few extra lines around his eyes, but it was still the same wonderful face she remembered every night in her dreams. His smile was understanding, and filled with the promise of more to come.
"Oh god, Clark, I thought I might have lost you. No one knew what had happened. No one knew where you had gone. All I had was hope, and my belief that if you could, you would come back to me."
"I'm sorry to have put you through this, Lois." Clark Kent turned toward Lois' dinner companion. "Hello, Bruce. Thank you for watching over her while I was — gone."
Bruce allowed himself a sly smile while he shook his head in only partial disbelief. "I should have known that nothing could keep you two apart forever." Bruce Wayne chuckled. "As much as I'm dying to hear about what happened and where you've been for the last ten years…" Bruce nodded toward the woman whose arms where tightly wrapped around Clark's waist. "I think there is someone here that needs you just a little bit more than my curiosity."
Clark smiled back at his friend. "I think you're right there, but the need is definitely mutual." Clark glanced down at Lois, who had her head lying against his chest. "What do you think, Lois? Should we just skip dinner and head for home?"
"Oh, yeah, that would definitely be a good idea."
Clark placed his hand on Bruce's shoulder and gave it a companionable squeeze. "Thanks for being here for her, Bruce. Thanks for everything."
Lois untangled herself from Clark long enough to step over and give Bruce a kiss on the cheek. "Yes, thank you. I don't know how I could have made it through without your friendship and support."
Bruce's smile was one of resignation. "I somehow think you would have found a way, Lois." Bruce's smile turned into a grin. "Now, you two get out of here. I expect to get a full accounting of your adventures, Clark. But that can wait."
Bruce sighed as he watched the happy, reunited couple exit quickly through the door of the restaurant. Seconds later he heard a familiar, but too long absent, whoosh of air.
Reaching into his pocket, he pulled out his cell phone. He wondered what Vicki Vale was doing these days. It had been a long time. Perhaps he should give her a call.
Lois and Clark entered their apartment. Lois kicked the door shut behind her, never taking her eyes off her husband. Clark seemed surprisingly nervous, but he couldn't keep his eyes off his wife either.
"Lois, I'm so sorry. It was such a crazy set of circumstances. I don't know where to begin."
Lois placed her finger against his lips. "Shhh — not now."
Lois reached back and undid the zipper on her dress, letting it slide off her shoulders and fall to the floor about her ankles. She kicked the garment aside and began to push Clark toward the bedroom. Once there, she began to pull at his suit jacket and shirt. A little bit embarrassed, Clark began to assist his wife in his own undressing. Soon they were both standing, facing each other, in just their undergarments.
Clark reached out and ran his hand along Lois' cheek. "You don't know how long I've dreamed of this moment." His voice then took on a questioning tone. "But don't you want to know what happened?"
Lois pushed Clark down onto the bed. "Later — much, much later." She crawled on top of Clark and began kissing his chest.
"Lois, do you want me to get the lights?"
Arching her back, Lois pulled back and stared deeply at Clark's face and into his eyes. "No — you've been out of my sight far too long. Tonight, I'm going to re-memorize every inch of your magnificent body, by touch *and* by sight."
Clark reached up and tucked a stray strand of Lois' hair behind her ear. "You are so beautiful. Happy Birthday, Lois."
Lois felt a tear begin to slide from her eye. She didn't try to stop it. "Are we going to talk, or are we going to kiss?"
Clark grinned up at her. "Kissing would be good — to start."
Lois' own grin was just a bit wicked before she captured his lips with hers. Clark was back, and the life that had been on hold for the last ten years could begin again.