Star Player, Star Reporter

Stopquitdont <>

Rated: PG13

Submitted: October 2001

Summary: This is an alt-world story that puts a different spin on our favorite characters. Lois works as a reporter, but Clark has another profession. Their characters are different from the ones on the show, yet that doesn't change the fact that these two were meant to meet.

This is an alt-world story; a different spin on our favorite characters. Not my first fanfic, but the first one I've sent in. Please note that I used several lines of dialogue from the series, but most are in very different text. All devoted readers will certainly notice them. This story has Lois in her role as our favorite reported. However, Clark has another profession. Their characters are different than the ones from the show. Even that doesn't change the fact that these two were meant to meet.

I hope you enjoy. Comments welcome and appreciated. None of the characters are mine. I borrowed them for a while.


The callous gentleman leaned back in his chair, propping his feet on his desk. His smile broadened as he watched the video playing across the television screen. The latest victim of poor choices was now paying the price for every mistake she'd ever made.

David Foster's smug smile matched his arrogant lifestyle. David held one of the highest positions in Metropolis. A self-made man through business deals and unpleasant acts, his only rival was Lex Luthor.

"Is it to your liking, sir?" asked the older man in the extremely distasteful attire.

"It's absolutely wonderful!" David's tone was one of accomplishment.

"Shall we move forward with distribution?"

"Yes, by all means."

"Very well, sir." He turned to leave.

"Thomas, I want to know the minute that pompous bastard learns of his dear daughter's… misgivings."

"Yes, sir."

David was left to his thoughts of being propelled to the top of the ladder. "Let's see you get out of this one, Lex."


Across town, Lex Luthor played a similarly dangerous game. He rose from the bed where his latest sexual conquest lay smiling widely.

"Come back to bed, lover," the woman said.

"Later. Business calls, my dear." He quickly tied his robe and exited the room. Minutes later he entered his office. "Nigel, did you get it?"

"Every last 'ooo' and 'ah', sir. Very well done." Nigel handed Lex the video tape.

"Don't look so disgusted. She's…satisfying."

"If you say so." Nigel turned to leave. "Let me know when the showing will take place."

Lex turned the video over in his hand. "A few modifications and we'll be on go. Remember, one for public viewing and one for the private show. I do not intend to waste any of this." Nigel nodded and was gone. Lex admired his tape with triumph. "Divide and conquer. You shall divide. I shall conquer." He dropped the tape in a drawer and headed back to his bedmate.


Lois Lane entered the newsroom of the Daily Planet, fashionably late, again. Hoping to avoid Perry's wrath, she quickly jumped into a story.

"Well, nice of you to join us," Perry's agitated voice came from behind her.

"Sorry, Perry. Bobby Bigmouth had some good info this morning," Lois crooned.

"Now what in the blazes is a Bobby Bigmouth?" Perry asked. "Ah, never mind. My office. Now!" He threw his hands up and headed into his office. "And bring Jimmy," he yelled.

"Jimmy, get your lower salary butt in gear. Chief's on a rampage," Lois yelled at the young photographer.

A few minutes later Lois and Jimmy sat waiting for Perry to impose sentence.

Perry finished his phone call, then looked up at the waiting pair. "I have two problems. The first one may be difficult. This Charles King fellow has another bestseller hitting the shelves. I want to know who he is. So far nobody knows."

"How are we supposed to find out?" Jimmy questioned.

"You're the computer whiz. You tell me. Anyway, get the goods." Perry shuffled a few papers, then spoke again. "Now, Ted's out sick. I need you two to go interview Clark Kent."

"Hey, cool!" Jimmy beamed.

"Who's Clark Kent?" Lois asked.

"Come on, Lois. He's only the hottest football player in the country," Jimmy told her.

"Oh, please. Perry you're not seriously gonna make me go?" Lois rose with her voice.

"Lois, I need a good write up on this one. This kid's the most sought after athlete in the country, stats out the roof. Nobody's ever interviewed him. Besides, I think you've got the goods to go it." Perry waggled his eyebrows at her.

"Yeah. The Metro Tigers paid a ransom to get him before pre-season," Jimmy added. "Never stays in a town more than a season. There are even rumors he's retiring after this year."

"And this is news?" Lois rolled her eyes.

"Lois, no discussion. Get the interview." Lois knew she was defeated. She turned to leave before Perry bellowed again. "Wait, wait, wait. Wait a minute. What happened to that mood piece I gave you about the razing of that old theater on Forty-Second Street?"

"I wasn't in the mood," Lois replied and left.

"I swear, if she wasn't the best damn reporter I've ever seen…" Perry grumbled before he stopped in exhaustion.


Clark Kent strolled across the field, pulling off his helmet. Practice had been long and tedious. Although his body wasn't, Clark's mind was drained.

Another year found him at yet another franchise. The practice of moving around was a habit too hard to break. He sighed and adjusted his practice glasses.

"Hi, Clark," the little blond said, walking up to him.

"Hi, yourself," Clark answered with raised eyebrows.

"I'm Tiffani," she said with a giggle.

Clark stopped to admire the presentation of the package in front of him. "So, is that Tiffany with an 'i' or a 'y'?"

She giggled at him as someone yelled. "Kent, you got company!"

Clark looked up to the yelling man. "Excuse me." He quickly walked toward the waiting trio.

"Kent, Lois Lane and Jimmy Olsen." The man turned and left.

"Hey, I'm just thrilled to meet you." Jimmy was shaking Clark's hand vigorously. "You are the man!"

"Thanks. And you are?" Clark slowly pulled his hand back.

"We are with the Daily Planet," Lois answered.

"Ah, yeah. 'Mad Dog Lane'. Sorry. I don't give interviews," Clark said, walking past them.

"Against your silly athlete's superstitions?" Lois challenged.

Clark stopped and turned to eye the feisty reporter. "Lady, when you play as well as I do, you don't 'have' to give interviews." He immediately turned and headed off the field toward the corridor.

Lois Lane would not be cut short; she was hot on his heels. "What is it with athletes? They get good at whatever silly game they play and they get huge heads to match those huge egos."

Clark shook his head in amusement, still walking. "I guess we're not that different from pushy reporters."

Lois took the challenge, Jimmy following close behind. "I may be pushy, but I always get the story."

"Not this time, sweetie," Clark answered blankly.

"Not yet," Lois shot back.

"Not ever," Clark said, sternly.

"We'll see." Lois refused to give up.

Clark had reached the entrance to the passage leading to the locker rooms. He stopped and looked at Lois. For a second, he couldn't help but admire the lady before him. Her shoulder-length hair matched her big brown eyes, hidden behind the longest lashes Clark had ever seen. Her petit figure was clad in a conservative gray suit. Clark felt flushed for the first time that day.

He quickly found his balance. "Do the words 'pain in the…'"

"Hey, we don't have to get ugly," Jimmy cut off his statement. "The lady's just doing her job."

Instantly Clark felt foolish. His mom had taught him better than to use foul language in front of a woman. "You're right, Jimmy…was it? Ms. Lane, I apologize." He turned and entered the passage.

Lois was an indomitable spirit; she was still in pursuit. "Does this mean you'll talk to us?"

Clark smirked a little. "Boy, you're nothing if not persistent. But no. It means I shouldn't have nearly swore. I still don't give interviews." Clark reached the locker room door. "Now, if that's all, I think this is where we say good-bye."

"This isn't over," Lois answered before turning to leave.

Clark shook his head while he watched her and Jimmy walk away. Smiling he said, "No, I expect it's not."


Lois threw her bag onto her chair as she and Jimmy got back to the Planet. "Ooo…some people infuriate me."

"Ah, come on, Lois. The guy's got a right not to be poked at," Jimmy said.

"But what about his fans, Jimmy? Some people pay good money to see 'Clark Kent'."

"I know what you're saying. The fans would love to know a little about him, but he's always had the reputation of being a…"

"…pain in the…"

"Hey, just…private."

"Well, I guess our work's cut out for us. Dig up whatever you can on Clark Kent and Charles King. I'll make some calls, see if we can get some interviews from other players. Maybe if we aggravate him long enough, he'll give in." Lois settled in to work and Jimmy quickly hustled to his computer.


Across town, David Foster sat in his office chair sorting through a stack of files. "Thomas, how's that buyout going for the Metro Tigers?"

"Well, sir, seems the owner isn't interested in selling," Thomas replied.

"Convince him. Start with the players." David looked through the papers again. "Everyone has a weakness."

"Yes, sir." Thomas turned to leave.

"How about our little movies?" David called after him.

"Released this morning. Things look promising."

"Good. Keep me posted." Thomas nodded and left while David fell back into his papers.


"Mr. Luthor," Nigel's voice called. "I think you should see this." He went straight to the VCR and inserted a tape.

Lex looked up at the images. "This is filth, Nigel."

"And this, sir?" Nigel stopped on the image of a young girl.

Lex rose in shock and stared at the screen. "How.. did.. this.. happen?!"

"We're trying to locate her now," Nigel answered.

"While you're at it, find out who made this junk!" Luthor yelled and slammed his hand on his desk. Nigel nodded and left. Lex dropped into his chair in pure shock.


"Watcha' got, Jimmy?" Lois asked as he approached her desk.

"Not much." Jimmy dropped next to Lois with a thin file. "Seems Kent really doesn't give interviews."

"Just tell me," Lois replied, exhausted. They had worked all day to no avail.

"Clark Kent: born 1966. He's from, get this, Smallville, Kansas. Parents are Jonathon and Martha, farmers. They won't talk to the press, either." Jimmy blew out a breath.

"That can't be it?"

"Average kid; graduated high school with honors; did the same at Midwest U. Get this, he received a full football scholarship *and* academic scholarship."

"Did he use both of them?"

"Nope. Used the academic one."

"Really?" Lois' eyebrows shot up.

"Seems he's a smart jock," Jimmy grinned.

"And just what kind of degree did he receive? Athletics R- Us?" Lois was slightly amused.

"He received a degree in journalism." Lois looked up in surprise. "Seems he can write really well, too. He had several papers published in college and did some work overseas."

"So, if he can write so well, why did he go into pro football?"

"No one knows. He took a year off after college and was still number one choice in the draft when he decided to play again. The Bills snatched him up and they were tenth in the pick," Jimmy stated.

"But if he was first choice, how did the tenth choice get him?" Lois found herself becoming intrigued.

"He wouldn't sign a multi-year contract, just one year at a time. He's played for a different team every year. The Tigers are his fourth team. This guy has turned down mega bucks for just a single year contract." Jimmy shook his head.

"Why would he just want to stay with a team for only a season?"

"Maybe he likes to travel." Jimmy shrugged. "Anyway, not much to know. He plays some of the best football anybody has ever seen; hasn't missed a game since he started; no injuries. Just a really good, really smart football player."

"Yeah, but what about his personal life, Jimmy?" Perry's voice caught them from behind.

"Not much there either, Chief. He doesn't seem to have one. He leaves the field alone, arrives alone. Sometimes he brings his parents. They say that's the only time he seems relaxed. Teammates say he's an okay guy, but not overly social. Gets hit on by every girl that passes him, which makes a lot of his teammates jealous. Babes everywhere, but not interested."

"Jimmy, can't guys use some other word for women besides 'babe'? And why do women fall all over him? He's not *that* good looking," Lois said incredulously.

Jimmy and Perry looked at her with raised eyebrows. "What?" Lois questioned.

Perry shook his head a little at her. "It's ah…nice to know you're…not blind. So not much on Kent?"

"I do have pre-game and post-game interviews with some of the other players and coaches after the season opener in a few weeks," Lois added.

"Judas Priest." Perry threw up his hands. "I guess a few weeks will have to do. Alright, what about the King fellow?"

"Now that's even worse than Kent. Appears King exists only through his writing. Publishers won't lip a thing." Jimmy rose to gather some more files. "I know, keep at it." With that, Jimmy disappeared to do more research.

"So, I guess you have your work cut out for you." Perry gestured to Lois on his way to his office. "And I want that mood piece. Yesterday!" The slamming of his door told Lois to get in gear.


Lex Luthor stood on his balcony, looking out over the Metropolis skyline. The night was clear and warm as Luthor nursed another drink before speaking to Nigel.

"You breed them, you raise them, you want the best for them. One day you're the center of their universe. The next thing you know, they've flown the nest and the phone never rings."

"Indeed, sir," Nigel added.

"Schedule the meeting for 9am. Time Foster met his match." Luthor handed his glass to Nigel and went inside.


David Foster watched the pragmatic Lex Luthor enter the room. The room held ten other businessmen, the board for Dellcom Communications. Lex had been trying to oust the company from Foster for two years. Now his tactics were changing.

"Gentlemen, I won't mince words." Luthor stood to add to his demeanor. "It has come to my attention that our *perfect* little CEO, Mr. Foster, is having a bit of personal trouble." Foster eyed Luthor, wandering what he meant. Before anything else was said, Nigel had put a video in the player. A second later, images of a completely mutual sexual encounter flashed on the screen.

David Foster sat up as he recognized the woman as his wife. However, he could not see the man's face at all. "What the hell is this?"

"Why don't you tell us?" Luthor shot back. When David did not answer, he addressed the board. "You see, if our wonderful leader cannot even control or handle his own wife, how can he lead this Fortune 500 company?"

"This is a set-up." Foster's eyes were wild with fear.

"David, this may cause problems if it leaks," one of the members said.

Another man rose and spoke. "I suggest you get to the bottom of this immediately. Maybe now's the time to consider Lex's offer. This could cause a hostile takeover, and we could be eaten up bit by bit."

"John, please. You have to believe me," Foster pleaded.

"Just think about, David." The man finished and left the room, followed by several others, all with disgusted looks on their face.

Lex Luthor smiled, nodded and left. David Foster could only slink back into his chair, not believing what had just happened.


Lois had gotten a few tips about the unrest between the two most powerful men in Metropolis. She knew enough as a good reporter to brace for a war, even though things had been quiet for the past few weeks. It appeared David Foster had taken a sudden vacation with his wife, and Lex Luthor was caught up with his daughter. Lois' source had also let her in on the negotiations for the impending sale of Dellcom. The only thing left to do was wait on the next shot to be fired.

In the meantime, she'd written up several good stories, maybe not Kerth material, but still good. Today she was at home, getting ready to interview football players. Somehow, she felt like that was a step down.

She picked Jimmy up and headed for the field. They waited in the corridor outside the locker room. Several players answered questions before the coach arrived.

"Ms. Lane, this is an honor. I'm a big fan," the older man said.

"Well, thank you, Mr. Tucker." Lois blushed a little.

"Please, call me Bill."

"Okay Bill. This is my photographer, Jimmy Olsen." The men shook hands and exchanged greetings. "Well, Bill, I want to ask a few questions about one your players. Clark Kent."

Bill chuckled slightly. "Kent. Best damn ball player I've ever seen. Great hands. Do you know he's never dropped a ball that's hit him in the hands? Not even in high school."

"That's…great." Lois tried to sound interested.

"Incredible is more like it. That's the reason he makes five million a year. At least this year." Bill shrugged with a smile. "Anyway, whatcha' want to know?"

"Why is it we can't get an interview?" Jimmy spoke up.

"Who knows? Kid's quiet as a mouse. Turns his head at all the cameras and says 'no comment'. They hound him constantly. He just smiles and goes on. Doesn't even celebrate touchdowns. The only thing I've ever seen him do is carry the ball to his mom and dad, hand it to one of them, hug 'em, and smile."

"So, he's just your quiet hack from Nowheresville?" Lois asked, irritated. Spending a Sunday at a football game was not her idea of fun.

The coach scratched his head. "Not exactly. He's easily the most intelligent person I've ever met. There are a few guys on the team not originally from America. One's from Spain, one's from Japan, and one's from Italy. Kent can speak all three native tongues quite fluently. Those guys love him. Not to mention the ladies."

"Way to go, CK!" Jimmy beamed.

"Funny thing is, Jimmy, he never goes out with them. He talks to 'em, flirts a little, but no dates." The coach greeted the arrival of a couple of players.

"Do you know anything about what he does away from the field?" Lois asked after the players left.

"Not much. Kent's a private guy. Lives alone, in a dump downtown. He doesn't have drinks with the guys so he can drive everyone home. Sometimes I find him here a couple hours before practice, running sprints. And he really seems to love his parents. Other than that, I don't know what I can tell you."

"No wild side, no endorsements?" Lois asked.

"Nope. Nothing. Says he just wants to play football and be left alone." The coach talked to two more players, then turned to them again. "If that's all…?"

"Yeah, well…"

"Coach Tucker, are the rumors going around that Kent may retire after this year true?" Jimmy's question cut Lois off.

"Don't know. Like I said, Kent's tightlipped about himself." The coach turned to go into the locker room. "I'll have an official statement about Kent's draft tomorrow morning. One more thing, Kent loves helping people. He volunteers with all kinds of charities, visits the nursing homes, and reads to the kids at the library on 33rd every Tuesday morning. Go figure. He's just an okay kind of guy." Coach Tucker disappeared into the locker room.

"Great. He's a boy scout," Lois said and walked up the stairs to find the seating that had been arranged for them on the second level.


Lois settled into her seat while Jimmy went off to explore the stadium. <What kind of person are you, Mr. Clark Kent?> In the middle of her thoughts, she recognized a familiar face on the lower level.

Clark looked different out of his uniform. He was still an impressive figure. His broad shoulders stretched his black tee shirt to show an incredibly developed chest. Snug blue jeans provided an adequate view of the game's best *looking* tight end, not to mention sizeable biceps that graced his arms. <Wow!> Lois watched as he talked to two older people he'd settled into seats on the front row, right behind the sidelines. Clark's glasses reflected the sunlight and his beautiful black hair highlighted his golden skin tone.

Then he did something that almost took Lois' breath; he smiled. The smile lit up the entire stadium, and Lois couldn't help but get flushed. "Damn! That's some smile," Lois said out loud.

Before long, Clark moved away from the couple toward the corridor. Several kids stopped him for autographs. He stopped to talk to each one, then signed the various items they presented him with. High fives and handshakes passed from this 'gentle giant' to the happy kids before he disappeared to prepare for the game.


Clark walked out onto the field with his team. The stadium was packed and the crowd went wild. During player introductions, Clark received the loudest applause. The Tigers had paid a king's ransom for him, the crowds loved him, but all he wanted to do was play football.

Lois watched as the game progressed. Clark played special teams as well as defensive corner back. He returned the opening kick off for a forty-yard return. In the second quarter, he returned an interception thirty yards for a touchdown.

"Way to go, CK!" Jimmy shouted from beside Lois.

She smiled as she watched Clark trot from the field. He removed his helmet and carried the ball to the sideline. He handed the ball up to his mom, who leaned over the wall to hug and kiss him. Once again he shot her that brilliant smile, then made his way back to his bench.

In the fourth quarter, Clark returned a kick off nearly eighty yards for his second touchdown of the day. This time his dad became the proud owner of his ball. The intercom announced that the touchdown marked Clark's fiftieth, setting yet another record. The camera flashed Clark's image on the large screens at each end of the field. Becoming aware of being watched, he smiled brightly and waved at the crowds viewing via the cameras.

As the game ended, Lois noticed Clark's parents being ushered from the stands by a large gentleman. She and Jimmy made their way to the locker room.

"Come on, admit it Lois. You enjoyed the game," Jimmy nudged.

"Maybe just an eensy, weensy, microcosmic, although highly unlikely, part of me enjoyed it," Lois answered.

"Gee, Lois, as long as you're honest." Jimmy turned when he saw Clark approaching. "Hey, CK. *You* *are* *the* *man*!" Jimmy stuck out his hand.

Clark shook his head a little when he first saw the pair, but smiled at the young man's enthusiasm. "Thanks, Jimmy." Clark shook his hand, then turned to Lois. "Somehow I knew you'd be back."

"Well, you know, pushy reporters tend to do that," Lois answered.

"I'm still not giving an interview." Clark turned and entered the locker room, Lois and Jimmy on his heels.

"That's okay," Lois stated and Clark stopped to look at her. "It would be nice to have a comment, but my editor wants a story about you. And he'll get it." She turned and started toward another player.

Clark laughed when he heard her tell someone to 'put that thing away'. He made his way to his locker and started shedding his suit. Lois and Jimmy made their way around the room. Clark knew Lois' reputation not to give up until she got the story. He also greatly admired her writing. He had decided not to give interviews when he began playing ball. All he wanted was to be normal. He'd long ago quit using his powers, but occasionally he didn't feel complete without them. His powers mostly made him feel different, like an outsider. He felt publicity would only add to that.

However, lately he was beginning to feel that maybe it was time to quit hiding.

Clark made his way toward the showers, clad only in a towel. He was stopped by Lois once again.

She gasped at his bare chest. If she'd thought he was nice looking with clothes, he was absolutely gorgeous without them. "Come on, Kent. Gimme just one statement."

He smiled a little. "Okay. I hope you like showering in groups." He left her standing with smoke coming from her ears.

"Cute. Very cute!" She called after him. Finally she and Jimmy decided to give up… for now.


Later that night, a very distraught David Foster met with Lex Luthor at Luthor's penthouse.

"Okay, Luthor, your little trick didn't work. Beth assured me the tape is fake," Foster stated.

Luthor grinned and pressed the button on a remote. The image of a few weeks earlier flashed on the screen, only this time the man's face was visible. "I assure *you*, it was very real."

"Luthor, you bastard!"

"Very real," Luthor said as he twirled a scarf in his hands. "She's supposed to pick this up next week."

David rose. "You'll pay for this. Both of you!" He marched out and slammed the door.

Luthor watched in utter satisfaction. Nigel sat a drink in front of him. "Knock, knock?" Luthor asked.

"Who's there, sir?"

"David Foster."

"David Foster who?"

"Exactly," Luthor finished in triumph.

"Very good, sir. Very good." The two men laughed together.


'Gentle Giant Sets Record by Lois Lane' was stamped across the sports page the next morning. Clark read the article expecting her to cut him to pieces. However, the story marked his milestone of fifty touchdowns, told of how he kept every ball only to give them to his parents, and described his outstanding grace in his place as an athletic giant.

Clark was stunned to read Lois' narrative of his life. She described him as compassionate and gentle, yet possessing a competitive edge like none other. She even defended his position in wishing to keep his personal life private. He could hardly believe that such a fierce reporter would give him such a wonderful review.

His face lit in a huge smile. Lois' drive and determination attracted Clark as much as her beauty. Reading her article, he realized she also had a hint of a compassionate side. He found himself instantly hooked on Lois Lane. Maybe an interview might not be so bad.


"Perry, you can't do that," Lois almost shouted. She'd just been informed that Ted was going to pick up the interview trail on Kent.

"Lois, you're an investigator, not a sports reporter," Perry answered.

"And everything we know about Kent is because of my investigations. Ted can cover the sports. I want Kent."

Perry raised his eyebrows at her. "I'll give you two weeks. At the end of that two weeks, no interview, no more Kent. Got it?"

"Thanks Perry. I'll get him… it… the interview. I'll get the interview." She opened the door to leave, then turned back. "And I'll need a couple of plane tickets. The next two games are away." Before he could answer, she said, "Thanks Chief." Then she was gone.

Perry chuckled at her. "Even the King would love that girl."


Lois sat in a chair in the back of the room. It was Tuesday and story time at the library. A very impressive Clark Kent held a captive audience of toddlers and pre-schoolers. Even she had to admit that his voice was little mesmerizing as he retold 'Sleeping Beauty'.

Soon the story was over and Clark was talking to the kids, giving each one a candy treat from a bag he'd brought. When each child had received a treat, Clark made his way to the door.

"Don't I get one of those?" Lois asked him as he passed her.

Clark stopped at the sound of her voice and smiled. "Ms. Lane. Do you ever give up?"

"Not when the subject impresses me."

"Ah… *I* impress *you*?" He gestured with his hand.

"Maybe," she said coyly. "You're really good with kids."

"Thank you." He eyed her closely. "How did you find me here?"

"A good reporter never reveals her sources."

Clark pushed his hands in his pockets and grinned. "Coach Tucker." Both were quiet, before Clark spoke again. "Haven't changed my mind."

"I know," Lois answered. "I had to follow through."

"Guess so. I want to thank you… for the great story. *I* was impressed with *you*."

"Yeah, well, don't sound so surprised. I *can* write."

"I know. I read your work."

Lois looked at him in surprise. "You do?"

"Yes, ma'am. I have for a very long time. You've certainly earned your success," Clark finished.

"I was told you were a smart guy."

Clark chuckled at that. "I like your style, Ms. Lane."

"Please, call me Lois."

"Only if you call me Clark." She smiled and nodded. Clark watched her pretty brown eyes light up and found himself in a trance. Finally, he regained his composure. "Well, I really have to go."


"I guess I'll see you at the field?" he asked.

"'Fraid so. I hope you understand my personal belief about your private life has nothing to do with me getting my interview."

"I know. I've done some investigative journalism myself."

"So I've heard," she replied.

"Anything you don't know?"

"Mmm… your pant size," she laughed out.

Clark laughed with her. "Good-bye, Lois." He stopped to open the door. "32," he said as he handed her a sucker.

When she caught his meaning, she smiled brightly and took the candy. As she watched him disappear, she said, "Impressive!"


Lex Luthor downed another drink. He had been drinking since he found his daughter. She had told him in no uncertain terms that she didn't want anything from him. She'd also told him that she fully intended to make more movies.

Luthor's goons had also discovered that none other than David Foster was the filmmaker. He resolved that Foster would pay for every indiscretion he'd ever made.


Clark wrapped his wrists before the game. He always hated the first road game. Playing in someone else's backyard was never easy. High pitched whistles broke his thoughts, and he looked up to see a bluejean-clad Lois Lane.

"Is this pre-game rituals?" she asked with a smile.

The left corner of his mouth turned up and he shook his head. "In…credible!" His voice was full of humor.

"What can I say? A girl has to work," she replied.

Clark stood up with a full grin. "Who said anything about your work?" He winked to drive home his point.

Lois dropped her head to hide her red cheeks. "Don't push me, Kent. You are way out of your league."

Clark leaned close to her ear and whispered. "Just remember, Lois, I've played in *every* league." He leaned back to make sure his words had the desired effect before leaving her there.

She stood there; Clark's words had run through her like a lightening bolt. She felt his soft breath on her face and every fiber in her body felt his closeness to her. At that moment, she couldn't remember ever being as attracted to a man as she was to him. Lois took several breaths to clear her head. <My God, Lois, you've been around men before.> She took another breath. "But none quite as…," she said softly, but stopped.

She took a few steps forward to look at the contents of Clark's locker. Hygiene products, a change of clothes and various football-related equipment took up the small space. Hanging on a side wall was a picture of the older couple Lois had seen at the opening game. On the opposite wall a piece of paper held the words: 'Self trust is the essence of heroism.'

"He likes Emerson," she remarked. <Why the isolation, Clark?> She put that thought on hold and headed for the field. Perry had pulled a few strings and today she'd watch from the sidelines.


Lois stood to one end of the line, trying to stay out of the players' way. Clark did not notice her until he came back to the sidelines from his first punt return. He approached her slowly.

"I got to hand it to you, things seem to work in your favor." Clark's comment was as unemotional as possible.

"Face it, Clark, you're news. Or at least you would be if you'd talk." Lois grinned in triumph.

"Ah… but don't they say no news is good news?"

"Only in tragedies."

"Yes. And me not talking is a tragedy to you," Clark shot back.

"Not a tragedy… just an inconvenience."

Clark grinned at Lois, but before he could speak, he was called to the field. "Excuse me. Duty calls." Minutes later Lois watched as he played his part for the team.

The game concluded without anything really extraordinary to speak of. The Tigers barely won and Clark failed to score. Lois had to go home empty handed again. Even though she couldn't get an interview she felt like she knew Clark a little better.


Another article about Clark topped the sports page the next day. Again Lois spoke of the 'Gentle Giant', his grace, and his seemingly obvious modesty. Clark was once again stunned to see her write about his quiet reserve. He decided he wanted to know more about this lady.


Clark stood there staring at the burning building, in a quiet war with himself. He could help these people, he should help them, but he'd vowed not to use his powers again. The risk of discovery was too great, not to mention the emotional turmoil it wreaked through him.

A woman's scream made up his mind and he ran into the building. The smoke and flames provided enough cover not to be detected using his powers. The hour was still early, so only about twelve people had been in the building. For all his efforts, two perished because of smoke inhalation.

Lois arrived at the site in full reporter mode. She discovered that the Dellcom Communications building had been destroyed by a fire. The police felt pretty sure it was arson. To further complicate matters was the fact that CEO David Foster was one of the victims that had not made it. And just to add flare, the survivors owed their lives to Clark Kent.

Lois found Clark in the alley beside the building, looking at a section of destroyed wall. He was covered in soot and appeared to be concentrating on the ashes.

"Clark, are you okay?" Lois said softly as she reached his side.

Clark had been concentrating so hard her voice caught him by surprise. "Oh, hi. I'm fine."

She looked at him carefully to see if he was telling the truth. "Are you sure?"

He turned to face her and smiled. "Yes. Paramedics even said so. Thanks for asking. We wouldn't want your lead story to die, would we?"

Lois' anger boiled quickly to the surface. "You are the most insensitive man I have ever met. How dare you even consider I'd be that shallow? Excuse me for caring." She turned and stomped away.

Clark quickly moved to grab her arm. "Lois, I'm sorry." She glared at him. "Really. And I like it that you care. Sometimes I shoot my mouth off before I think about it."

She looked up at him through pouty eyes. "Just don't let it happen again."

He smiled back. "Okay." He met her gaze in silence for a long moment before speaking. "The fire was arson."

"Yeah. The cops agree. But how'd you know?"

He walked back to his original spot. "See this wall? It was a hot spot. No electrical wires or gas lines around, but the fire burned hotter here. There are several around the building. I'm no expert, but fires usually don't spontaneously combust."

"Guess not. Looks like my work's cut out for me."

"And it looks like those two deaths were murder." He eyed Lois sympathetically. "This could be something really dangerous."

"Yeah, well, it comes with the territory. Just this year alone I've had over a dozen close calls." Lois paced the alley, looking for clues. She stopped and shot around to look at Clark. "How did you happen to be here?"

"When I can't sleep, I like to walk. I saw the smoke and heard a lady scream." Clark shrugged. "I couldn't let 'em die."

"One man claims he was on the top floor." She noticed Clark's irritation. "I guess being an athlete paid off."

Clark nodded his agreement. "How are they?… The victims?"

"A little smoke inhalation and minor burns, but other than that, they're okay."

"Good. Wish I could have helped the other two," Clark said with a touch of sadness in his voice.

"Clark, ten people are alive because of you." He smiled wryly at her statement. "You didn't see anything or anyone, did you?"

Clark closed his eyes to try and recall the events of the morning. "No, 'fraid not…Wait. I do recall a gray van passing me at the corner. Plain, no markings. The driver was tall, black, bald head. The passenger was white-haired, had a white goatee. I noticed them because the black guy was dressed like a bum and the other guy had an expensive suit."

"Maybe you should go down to the police station and look at some mug shots," Lois suggested.

Clark nodded. "I will right after story time. I need to shower first."

"Yeah, guess you do. I know you don't give interviews, bit this isn't football."

"I know. I'll tell you all I know." She smiled at him and he spent the next several minutes answering her questions about the fire. Finally, she had enough to go on and he decided it was time to go. "Let me know if you need anything else."

"I will Thank you for your help." Lois smiled at him.

"I'll see you… at the field."

"You know me, got to stay on the trail."

"I'm beginning to get used to seeing you around," Clark smiled back at her.

"Try to stay out of trouble." He nodded and slowly walked away. Lois called after him. "Clark, be careful. If those men had anything to do with this, then they may have seen you, too."

"Thanks, Lois. I will." This time he walked away quickly.


Nigel St. John waited for his boss to finish his breakfast before speaking. "Mission accomplished, sir. Foster will not cause any more trouble."

"That's wonderful, Nigel. Schedule the meeting with the board in one week. They'll be beyond the mourning stage by then. Were there any problems?"

"None, sir." Nigel intentionally hid the fact of seeing a passerby. Luthor could be a difficult man, and Nigel would not cross him, if he could help it.

"Good." Lex grinned widely. "Life is good."


Lois caught Clark as he came out of the library. "Hi. I thought I'd missed you."

Clark looked up into her flushed face. "Hi yourself. Watcha' need?"

"Lunch. I'm starved." She grabbed his shirt sleeve and half dragged him down the sidewalk. "C'mon. I'm buying."

Clark looked at her in surprise. "What?… Why?" He stopped and waited for an answer.

"Well, for one thing, you're the only person who's said more than a handful of words to me, without being my boss, in about four years. Two, somebody should buy a hero lunch. And three, I want to be able to tell everybody I bought a man lunch that made more money this year than I'll make my whole life." She finished with a mischievous grin.

He laughed a little at her babble. "I guess I am hungry."

"Good." She pulled his arm again. "I know this great little place on the South Side. And I promise, no questions… about football."

Clark nodded in agreement and headed to her jeep with her. "Nice car."

"Thanks. Took long enough to get it." They got in and drove to a small deli Lois liked to eat at.

They sat down and Clark looked over his menu. Lois jumped straight into her order. "Angel hair pasta with tomato and basil, no olive oil, extra parmesan cheese, garlic breadsticks, and a diet coke." She looked up at Clark with a smile.

After studying his menu another minute, he said, "Philly cheese steak, fries, and a coke."

"Eat like an eight-year-old, look like Mr. Hardbody. What's your secret?"

Clark grinned and shrugged. "I'm a football player. We lift a lot of weights."

"I bet. Us reporters have to use the treadmill. Anyway, I thought you'd like to know six of the victims from the fire have already been released."

"That's good. Thank you for telling me. Have you found out any more about it?"

Lois took a drink from her water glass. "No. But I do have this to show you."

Clark took the offered papers from her and read them. "You never cease to amaze me." She looked at him with questioning eyes. "You didn't mention my name."

"Well, I know how you like your privacy. And nobody knows *you* were just a 'guardian angel'. No one got you on camera either." She looked up as the waiter delivered their food. She nodded her appreciation. "So you're still a 'mystery man'."

"Actually, I couldn't care less. I'm just glad those people are okay."

"I'm still bewildered at how you managed to get in and out so quick, without a scratch." She took a bite of her pasta. "Umm."


"Very. Yours?"

Clark was chewing a bite of his sandwich. He swallowed and said, "Uh huh. Not as good as mine, but…it's good."

"You cook?"

"'Fraid so. It's a hobby. How 'bout you?"

"No, no." She wiped her mouth.

"Lack of time?"

"No. Lack of talent." Lois laughed a little. "I can only make four things, just one without chocolate."

Clark laughed this time. "I love to cook, but it's not much fun if you're the only one who eats it."

Lois nodded. "Takeout's good."

"I guess. I don't go out much. Too many eyes." He looked around the room.

Lois noticed the watching eyes for the first time. "Oh, Clark. I'm sorry."

"It's okay. I just don't want you to be put in an awkward position."

"I quit worrying about what people say about me a long time ago. My position was a hard fought battle. I think I've earned the right to eat with whomever I choose." Lois dug into her pasta again.

"I like your style." She looked at Clark and smiled. They ate in silence for awhile.

"So…can you cook Chinese?" Lois asked after drinking down some coke.

"Yes. A few things… Why?"

"Ah… I thought maybe I'd quit shadowing you-"

"-if I cooked for you," Clark finished.

"Well… yeah."

"But I told you I was beginning to like seeing you around." He watched Lois shift in her seat. "Maybe you just want to see how a multi-millionaire lives."

Lois recognized his tone as one of humor. "Maybe I want cooking lessons."

"Maybe." He smiled at her. "Tell you what, I'll think about it."

"Fair enough. I have to tell you though, I'll still be your shadow till then."

"I know. Things could be worse. I could have a big, ugly, bald guy named Ted following me."

"How'd you know his name?" Both burst into laughter. When they collected themselves, they finished lunch. Lois paid the bill, against Clark's protests, and they left to finish their day.


Clark sat in the locker room, preparing for the game. He found himself thinking about Lois. Their lunch together during the week was wonderful and disheartening at the same time. He could not begin to describe what it felt like to share a little time with a pretty lady, especially one he was completely attracted to.

The attraction was the reason for Clark being torn about his feelings. Having feelings or establishing a relationship with anyone was a luxury he couldn't afford. His differences put him at arms' length from people. Even though he'd decided not to use his abilities, he was still different. Clark felt he had no right to put that on anyone. His attempts to be normal included everything but people.

Clark had never expected Lois Lane. She was absolutely incredible. His first impression of her was one of annoyance. He considered her nothing more than a hard-nosed reporter sent to get a story. The minute he looked twice he was blown away. Something about her shot through him like electricity. Never before had a woman made him feel like that and every time he saw her, it only got worse.

He took a deep breath. He knew he'd see her today and knew the excitement would be there. Suddenly, a conversation by a couple of teammates caught his attention.

"Yeah, man. Lois Lane's been writing the stories. Seems the Tigers wasn't the only thing he was after," one player said.

"You know, he even had people approach us about selling out the team," another one said.

"I get paid to win. Nobody pays me to lose." A brief silence ensued. "But hey, what about that Lane? Man, she's hot."

"Forget it, guys," a third voice cut in. "She's only interested in Kent."

"Hell, that's a waste of perfectly good woman. Kent wouldn't know what to do with it."

They all laughed at that before a woman's voice silenced them. "Excuse me?"

The three men turned to stare eye to eye with Lois Lane. Finally, one spoke. "Well, ah…it's just…"

Another added, "Come on, lady. Nobody's that galactically stupid. Kent's gay." Clark's head jerked up to see the small group.

"What?" Lois asked.

"Think about it. Every woman within a hundred feet of throws herself at him, and he walks away. Couple of guys from other teams say they've never seen him with a woman."

"Not to mention the fact that he's a mama's boy."

"So you automatically assume he's gay?" Lois shot back.

"No dates, no life and he always drives us home from the bars."

"Not to mention the library thing."

Lois suddenly felt the urge to defend Clark. She didn't exactly know why, but she jumped in. "How many passes has he made at any of you?" They all said none. "How 'bout passes at other guys when ya'll go drinking?" Again they were at a loss.

"But that don't mean nothin'," said one of them.

"Maybe not. But maybe it means he was waiting on the right woman." She shot them a very seductive smile before stalking away.

"You don't mean…" one stated.

Lois turned around with complete mischief in her eyes. "Let's just say, he knows what to do with it." She turned back around, grinning in satisfaction at the astonished looks. She blew out a couple breaths at the images that ran through her mind. She had no idea if Clark knew what to do or not. She just couldn't let those guys tear him apart. Of course, she really didn't know if she was even right about his sexuality. Somehow she knew she was though.

She walked up behind Clark. "Hey there."

He turned with a smile. "Hey yourself. I was beginning to wonder if you'd make it."

"Oh, yeah. Couldn't let you miss me, now could I?"

"Not Lois Lane." He chuckled and lifted his shoulder pads over his head.

Lois watched him struggle with as uncooperative strap. "Here. Let me help." She moved to untwist the strap from under the back plate. "How do you play in all this?"

"Really well, actually," he said, sarcastically.

"Funny. Very funny." She pulled the strap tight, extracting a grunt from Clark. "Where does this go?"

"Right here." Clark reached for the strap, making contact with Lois' hand when he did. They caught each other's gaze a second. Slowly Clark pulled away and snapped the strap in place on the chest piece. "Thanks," he said, softly.

"No problem." Lois still watched Clark, completely blown away by the intensity of their closeness. "Ah, well, I guess you need to finish." Clark nodded as he pulled his jersey on, once again having difficulties. Lois didn't hesitate as she reached to pull the jersey over the pads. She continued to pull at the shirt hem and the sleeves as she spoke. "I swear, men couldn't dress themselves without women."

"Why would they want to if you were in the room?" Clark's thoughts had been mumbled aloud. At the realization it had been heard, he closed his eyes and willed the redness back down that had instantly heated his face.

His statement both embarrassed and excited her. No one had ever said they'd want to be with her like that. "Would you… want to?" She whispered, unable and unwilling to break the moment.

Clark took a deep breath and looked Lois in the eyes. "No," he answered calmly but firmly. He held her gaze for what seemed like eternity. "But right now, I have to."

Lois broke the gaze. "Right." She looked around, searching more for something to say than anything else. Seeing Clark wrapping his wrists, she jumped in. "Let me."

He relinquished the tape to her trembling hands. "Lois, I didn't mean to make you nervous."

"You didn't," she mumbled.

He reached out to hold one of her hands. She looked up at him. "I think I did."

She smiled before pulling away to continue her task. "Believe me, you *did not* make me nervous." She shot him a look that instantly told Clark the statement had been erotic, not threatening. His face flushed and he dropped his gaze. "Now look who's nervous," she replied.

He laughed and shook his head. "I hope you know I probably won't be able to play now."

Lois finished his wrists and looked up. "Sure you will. In fact, I'll bet you score at least twice."

"Oh, really?"

"Yeah. I dressed you… and I'm good at everything I do." She gave him a flirtatious smile.

He shook his head again as he tucked in his shirt. "I have *no* doubt." All of sudden he felt adventurous. "You still want me to cook for you?"

"Yeah… why?"

"I think I might want some company."


"Good. Tuesday night, 344 Clinton, 7:30."

She smiled at him, suddenly feeling very warm. "Guess I'll see you out there." He nodded and she turned to leave.

As she left, she passed the group of men she'd cut down earlier. They had watched them from a distance, amazed at how relaxed Kent seemed with this woman. She pasted on a devilish grin. "You boys should take notes, might help more." She left three definitely shocked faces watching the door shut behind her.

From across the room, Clark chuckled at her. Boy, she was a spitfire. Clark smiled because he realized he actually enjoyed being with her, and it seemed she liked him as well. And just what was he supposed to do about it?


Lois had been right. Clark scored twice in that game. A kickoff return and an interception both resulted in touchdowns. Without his parents there, Clark put his balls in a crate in its place under a bench. Lois decided to ask him what he did with them.

The game ended with the Tigers once again winning. Lois said good-bye to Clark and caught her plane back to Metropolis. Both were already looking forward to their dinner on Tuesday night.


It was nearly 10am the next morning when Lois got to the newsroom. Bobby Bigmouth had called with some very interesting news.

"Good of you to join us, Ace," Perry bellowed as Lois sat down.

"Sorry, Perry. Bobby had some good stuff. Seems David Foster and Lex Luthor were… at war. Foster wanted Lexcom and Luthor wanted Delcom. And both were playing hard ball."

"Funny you should mention that. Luthor's holding a press conference at 1pm. Sources say it's to announce his takeover of Dellcom. I want you there."

"I'm on it."

Perry turned to leave, then stopped. "Where's the Kent interview?"

Lois looked up, trying to think of a way out. "Ah… well…"

"Lois, I send you to two games, I expect results."

"Just go with me on this one. I'll get it."


"Soon." Seeing his uneasiness, she shot out. "Look at it this way. He's not talking to anyone else either. No one's going to scoop us."

"I hope not." He turned and was gone.


Lois listened as Lex Luthor announced the merger of the two largest communications companies in the country. Without David Foster to stop the process, the board folded quickly. Luthor now stood alone on top of the food chain.

Lois was putting her notebook in her bag when a voice caught her attention.

"Ms. Lane?"

She looked up to see Lex Luthor himself. "Mr. Luthor." Lois rose to her feet.

"Nice to see Perry sends the Planet's best." She smiled a small reply. "I trust you'll do me justice?"

"You could ensure that with an interview."

He eyed her for a moment, an air of arrogance in his expression. "Very well. My penthouse, tomorrow night, over dinner."

"Sorry. I have plans tomorrow night. And I don't have dinner with people I interview."

"I see." Lex was clearly annoyed. "Come by my office on Wednesday. I'll give you a quote. But alas, no dinner, no interview."

"It appears I was right about you."

"How's that, Ms. Lane?"

"You like to control the shots." She shot Lex a look that clearly said he wouldn't control this. "Not this time. Not this reporter." She picked up her briefcase and was gone.

Lex stood, put in his place. As Nigel reached his side, he replied, "Nigel, that's our next project. Find out her plans for tomorrow night."

"Yes, sir," Nigel answered.

Lex grinned, evil in his eyes. "She's beautiful, therefore to be wooed. She's woman, therefore to be won." He took his smug smile and left to further his plans.


Clark had spent the afternoon preparing for his guest. He briefly wondered what he had been thinking. Lois was the first woman in a long time he had even thought twice about. She was also the first one to come to his apartment.

He'd had a couple girlfriends before, but nothing came of it. He just couldn't run the risk of getting too close. Truthfully, no woman had ever sparked his interest in the way that Lois had.

Clark smiled as he recalled the way she'd defended him to his teammates, then flushed as he recalled how he'd flirted with her. The flush turned to heat as he thought of how she had flirted back. Lois was definitely the only woman to ever arouse Clark. That certainly impressed him.


At 7:20, Clark heard the soft rapping at his door and crossed the distance to open it. He sucked in a deep breath as he looked at the slim figure before him. Black slacks and a sleeveless, black blouse graced Lois' petit frame.

Finally, he found his voice. "Hi!"

She smiled brightly, equally impressed with his gray slacks and black henley that was unzipped to expose the top of his chest. "Hi, yourself. Brought a bottle of wine." She offered it to him.

"Great. Thank you. Please. Come in." He stepped aside to let her in. "Make yourself at home. I need to check on dinner." He went back into the kitchen.

Lois looked around at the small apartment. It was nothing like she'd expected. It was an older place, open. She stepped down into the living room, curiously taking in his collections, books, and his choice of decorations.

"This is really a great place," she called to him.

"Thanks." He re-entered with two glasses of wine to find her holding a picture from his bookshelves. "My parents, Jonathon and Martha." He handed her a glass.

"I bet they're nice people," she stated.

"The best." He took a drink of his wine, for the first time realizing she had not brought a notebook. This was a good sign. "Dinner will be in about ten minutes."

"Okay." She turned back to the shelves. Her eye was caught by a few books. "You read Charles King?"

Clark almost dropped his glass. "Ah… yeah." He moved back toward the kitchen, hoping Lois wouldn't notice the books were first copies.

Clark's reaction had not gone unseen, but Lois shrugged it off and followed Clark. "Mmm. Smells good."

"Thank you."

Lois stood at the table watching Clark complete his tasks. "No one would ever believe this."

"What? A rich football player, living in an old building in the wrong neighborhood, cooking his own Chinese?" Clark filled a couple of bowls and plates.

"No. Lois Lane having dinner with a man," she answered with a slight laugh.

Clark sat the plates down on the table, then retrieved the bowls. He pulled a chair out for his guest. "I take it you don't get out much."

She smiled and sat in the offered seat. "No. Work is pretty much all I know."

Clark sat across from her. "I know what you mean. I don't get out much, either."

"That's what I've heard." She took a bite of her food. "Wow! This is really good."

"Thank you."

"Really good." She took another bite. "So, why don't you get out much?"

Clark shrugged. "Don't like the eyes, like I said before."

"Umm." She watched Clark for a moment. "No girlfriend?" Lois surprised herself with that question.

Clark looked up at her. "No."

"All those women falling all over you and you sit home…alone?"

"Guilty." He continued with his dinner.

Lois ate in silence for a while. "Clark, you're not… gay are you?"

Clark laughed. "No. Let me guess… locker room gossip?"

Lois nodded and dropped her head. "I'm sorry."

"Why? Because you asked or because I'm not?"

She eyed him curiously, then grinned. "Believe me, I'm not sorry because you're not. But I'm curious as to why you don't have a special someone."

"Why? If I'm not gay, then I'm supposed to be involved? I sleep alone… by choice."

"I just meant that someone as nice as you shouldn't be alone, not to mention the fact that you're gorgeous." Lois immediately flushed at her declaration and looked down.

Clark's heart skipped a beat at her words, but to his surprise he was not embarrassed. He was excited. "Thank you," he said softly.

"I didn't mean to…" She stopped when she saw the look in his eyes. He was clearly not embarrassed. She held his gaze for a long while before looking back at her plate. It was her turn to be excited. A few moments later, she spoke. "Does that bother you?"

Clark held her gaze a while before he said, "No." He dropped his head and ate a while. "Lois, why did you come here?"

"You invited me."

"Before that. You asked me to cook. What do you want?"

"Clark, tonight has nothing to do with my interview. I wanted to come here… with you." She could see the doubt in his eyes. "I told you work is all I know. *All* I know. I haven't dated in two years. My sexuality has come into question a few times, too. The truth is I just haven't been impressed with men."

"And *I* impress you?"

"Yes, very much."

"As a story… or a man?"

Lois reached for his hand and looked into his eyes. "As a man…You're the first man I've even looked twice at in a long time. I wanted to eat dinner with you. *Me*, the woman. The reporter has the night off." She smiled and squeezed his hand.

Clark's heart raced at her touch. Lois was the first woman to do that in a really long time. He gently squeezed back and smiled. "Okay. Now, how about dessert?"

He rose to collect dessert from the fridge. He sat the bowl in front of Lois. "Chocolate? Oh, I hate you," she said as she raised the spoon to her mouth. "Ooo! I really hate you."

Clark laughed as he watched her enjoy herself. "I'll take that as a compliment."

"Oh, take it, please. If you cook like this all the time, I may never leave." She pushed another spoon of chocolate into her mouth.

Clark laughed at her words. Secretly he wished she really meant what she said. Somehow he thought Lois Lane would definitely be a match for any man. And one he would enjoy having around.


"And you? Invisible or fly?" Lois' question was asked softly. She and Clark had moved to the balcony with their coffee to talk. She had told Clark about her and her sister's desires as kids to be invisible or able to fly. She had said invisible, to be able to walk through all those closed doors in her life.

"Umm. Fly," Clark replied.


"Uh huh. Free. Away from all the ties that hold you down." Clark sighed and looked up into the sky.

Lois followed suit. "Is that what you feel like? Tied down?" She turned to look at Clark.

"Mostly. But not how you think." He turned and caught Lois' gaze. "I play football because I want to."

"Then I don't understand."

"Lois, there are things about me, personal things. They tie me down."

"Is that why you're so private?" Lois stepped closer to him.

"Yes." He took a step toward her.

"What if…" She stepped closer. "…you found someone…" another step. "…who wanted to…" now she stood inches from Clark. "…untie those strings?"

Clark could feel her breath against his neck, exciting him beyond belief. "They can't be untied," he whispered.

She took his coffee cup from his hands and sat both on the balcony wall. "Maybe they're long enough…" she put her hands on Clark's chest. "…to wrap around two."

Clark's hands found their way to the top of her arms. "Maybe." <What am I saying?>

Lois crossed the remaining distance and met his lips with hers. Her arms eased around his neck as the kiss deepened.

Soon, Clark's arms encircled her waist, his hands roaming across her back. Several moments later, their heads rested against each other's as they panted for air.

Clark slowly pulled his hands to her waist. "Lois, we shouldn't do this."

Lois held his face in her hands. "I know." She opened her eyes to look at Clark. "Why is it I feel like I've known you forever?"

Clark pulled his head up, but held her close. "I don't know." They looked at each other. After a few moments, Lois' hands moved back to his chest and Clark drew a hand to her face. "My God, you're beautiful," he whispered.

Lois kissed him again. "I don't want to stop." Her voice was barely a whisper.

"Lois…" Clark pulled back a little.

This caused Lois to pull back a foot or so. "Right. Your personal…ties." Her hands dropped from his chest. Clark looked down a little. "So, what is it?" She turned to start pacing. "Are you dying? Have some strange disease? Maybe an estranged wife and kids?" Lois noticed Clark was grinning. "What? I find nothing funny here."

"No. You're right. There's nothing funny."

Lois stepped back to Clark. "You didn't answer my questions. Or maybe it's just me."

Clark immediately reached for her face. "Lois, I'm not dying. I have no strange diseases, no wife, no kids." He ran his thumb across her cheek while his other hand came to her shoulder. "And believe me, you are the most beautiful woman I have ever seen."

"Just not…sexually?"

Clark smiled tenderly and pushed a strand of hair behind her ear. "You are completely desirable, sexually. But we hardly know each other. And I respect you too much to do this tonight and have you regret it tomorrow."

Lois gripped Clark's sides. "Somehow I knew you'd say that." She leaned in and kissed the top of his chest where his shirt was open. "Any objections to… cuddling?"

"No," he answered with a smile and pulled her into a hug. "Ooo. You're too good to be true."


Clark pulled back and turned Lois in his arms to hug her from behind. "You're straight forward, headstrong, and fearless. You know what you want and go after it." He snuggled his face into her neck. "But mostly because you're here… with me."


"Most people don't care for me. Because I'm a private person, I'm strange. Strange is scary. Woman just want me to go to bed with them. Men think I'm gay. Either way, no one wants to talk to me." He kissed her neck. "Or cuddle."

Lois ran her fingers across the back of his hand. "Can you blame them?"


"All those women." Her voice was full of humor and Clark knew she was joking. They laughed together awhile, but remained cuddled together.

A couple of hours later, Clark walked Lois to her jeep. They stopped and she pulled from his embrace. "Do you have any plans Friday night?"

Clark squeezed his hand around her upper arm. "I was hoping this pretty reporter I met would let me make her dinner."

"Umm. Careful, I might get jealous." She leaned in to kiss him. "So, your place? Friday night?"

"Do you mind not going out?"

"Are you kidding? The way you cook? Besides, I don't have to get all jealous over a bunch of women oogling you."

Clark chuckled and pulled Lois to him. After an embrace, he pulled back and kissed her tenderly. "Goodnight, Lois."

"Goodnight, Clark. Thank you. I really had a great time."

Clark traced her face with his fingers. "Me, too." He moved to open the door for her and she got in. "Drive carefully." She smiled up at him, then he closed her door. His thoughts raced as he watched her drive away. For the first time in nearly four years, he felt like flying.


Nigel approached Lex and his companion. "Excuse me, sir. You told me to inform you of Ms. Lane's evening."

Luthor rolled over to look at Nigel. "Yes, Nigel." Lex got out of bed, retrieved his robe and left the room. "Okay. Tell me."

"Seems she spent the evening with…" Nigel looked at his notebook. "…Clark Kent."

"Clark Kent? The football player?" Lex paced around the room in thought. "What would an intelligent woman such as Lois Lane be doing with a jock?"

"Apparently having dinner."

"Dare I say, business or pleasure?"

"Seems it was pleasure. They shared coffee and… some passionate kissing on his balcony," Nigel said with distaste.

"Oh, Lois, Lois, Lois. You could have so much more." Lex's comment was made to himself. "Nigel, find out everything you can about Mr. Kent and why he's entertaining Lois Lane."

"Right away." Nigel turned and was gone. Lex grinned to himself, his evil thoughts running wild.


Wednesday morning found Lois across the desk from Lex Luthor. "Rumor has it that you and Foster were at war over this takeover?"

Lex eyed Lois cautiously. "At war? A little strong." Lois shrugged. "David Foster and I did not share the same sentiments about running a company."

"Is it true he wanted to buy out Lexcom?"

"Lexcom will never be owned by another."

"Well, not now. Not with Foster dead and Dellcom belonging to you." Lois watched Luthor's constant emotionless expression. The possibility of a connection between Foster's death and the Dellcom takeover really hadn't occurred to Lois until now. "So, no bad blood between you two?"

"Just business, Ms. Lane. Now, how about dinner?"

"No, thank you." Lois stood up and gathered her things.

"This would be social, not business," Lex stated as he rose.

"I'm not interested, Lex."

"You wound me deeply."

"Somehow I think you'll survive. Thank you for the quotes." Lois turned and was gone.

"Survive indeed, but you will come to me, Ms. Lane." A smug smile covered his face.


Clark felt a number of eyes on him as he exited the elevators and entered the newsroom of the Daily Planet. People watched him as he made his way down the ramp toward Lois' desk.

Lois had her back to him, but noticed everyone's reaction. She turned to see him standing next to her chair. "Clark?" He had a strange expression. "What's wrong?"

He held up the paper. "Who is this man?" He pointed to a photo of Lex and Nigel in the background.

"That's Lex Luthor."

"Not him. Him." He put a finger on Nigel's image.

"That's Lex's personal assistant, Nigel. Why?"

Clark looked around the room, then took Lois' arm and pulled her into the conference room. "That's the guy from the van, the one I saw at the fire."

"What? Are you sure?"


Lois still looked at the paper as she leaned on the table. "My hunch was right. Lex did have something to do with the fire. I'm glad I didn't go to his penthouse."

"What?" Clark immediately felt a twinge of jealously.

"I asked him for an interview. He wanted me to come to his penthouse… for dinner. He said no dinner, no interview."

"Ouch." Clark leaned on the table next to her.

"I've thought Lex was a bad seed for a while. I just can't prove it."

"Did you know he and David Foster were trying to buy the Tigers?"


"Before the game the other day I heard a couple of players say they'd been propositioned about throwing some games. I started asking questions. Seems Foster wanted the team to use it to pay back some really high favors. Lex wanted it to keep it away from Foster. The owner had and still has no intentions of selling. Foster thought he could change his mind if we were losing."

"Were you approached? Lois was suddenly in super reporter mode.


Before Clark could say more, Lois turned. "Oh God, Clark. If Nigel saw you, you could be in danger."

"Don't worry. I'll be okay."

"Typical male statement."

"Believe me, Lois, I'm not a typical male."

She swatted his arm. "Just promise me you'll be careful."

"I will." They smiled at each other for a minute. "Lois?" Clark's expression was suddenly serious.


"You're gonna jump into this with both feet, aren't you?"

"A reporter's only as good as their next story," Lois replied.

Clark knew this could be a really dangerous story and instantly he wanted to be as close to Lois as possible. "Let me help you with it."


"Lois, I do know how to. I've done it before."

"I know. But…"

"Come on. Wouldn't it be nice to have a partner?"

"You and me, partners?"

"Yeah. You, the experienced battle-scarred veteran and me, hungry, exciting, fresh talent."

Lois grinned. "I'm not that scarred and you're not that exciting."

Clark grinned back. "Yeah, but your tenacity, my tact. We could make a great story."

"Partnership is like marriage."

"Yeah. It takes patience, understanding, and support."

"I *could* fake it."

Clark made a mock gesture of being shot in the heart. "That bites." He chuckled at her rolling eyes. "Tell you what, you let me help you, and I'll give you an exclusive."

Lois looked at him, very surprised. "You don't have to do that."

"I want to. Lois, I've been locked away inside myself way too long. I quit living, just existing. Since I've met you, I really feel like living again."

She reached to touch his arm. "Are you sure? Your privacy wouldn't be so private anymore."

"I'm sure. And I wouldn't want anyone but you to write anything about me." He pushed her hair back. "Come on. It'll be fun."

"It'll be work." She kissed him softly.

"Oh, I think I could get used to the fringe benefits."

"Watch it, Kent. You have no idea who you're messing with."

"I'm sure you'll remind me." He turned her around and pushed her toward the door. "Go get your notebook or tape recorder or whatever, before I give my exclusive to Jimmy."

"Funny." Lois left to collect her things and returned to find Clark settled in a chair. "Are you sure you want to do this now?" She eased down into a chair.

"Yes… Can't handle it, Ms. Lane?"

"Oh, believe me, I can handle this and a whole lot more."

"No doubt." Clark smiled brightly and Lois settled in with her questions. Two hours later, they were laughing and enjoying the time together.

"Excuse me? Why wasn't I invited to the party?" Perry's low voice came from the door.

Clark rose to his feet, but Lois remained seated. "Hi, Perry. This is Clark Kent."

"Nice to meet you, Mr. White. Lois speaks highly of you." Clark extended his hand to Perry.

Perry reached out with his. "Well, don't believe a word she says. I'm a sweetheart."

Clark chuckled. "What would the King say?"

Perry's eyebrows shot up. "Lois, I hope he holds out on that interview. I'd like him around more often."

"Sorry, Chief. We just wrapped it up."

"Really? She broke ya', huh Kent?"

"Well, Mr. White, it's hard to resist such charm."

"Lois? Charm?" Perry chuckled. "Son, you've sniffed too much ink." Both men laughed out loud.

Lois rose from her chair. "Cute. But seriously, Perry, Clark's going to be around for a few days. He's helping me with a story." At Perry's worried expression, she replied, "Don't worry. He's done investigative work before."

"Okay. Just bring me a front page." He turned and entered the newsroom. "Okay people, we have a paper to print."

Clark smiled over at Lois. "Very…"

"I know, but he grows on you." She pulled on his arm and said, "Now get! I've got a story to write."

"Okay. I'll see what else I can find out from the team."

"Good. We'll compare notes tomorrow night." Curious eyes watched the pair walk toward the elevators.

"Hey CK! How's it going?" Jimmy's happy voice sounded off.

"Great, Jimmy. Good to see you."

"Jimmy, take a few shots of Clark and find some good ones from the game. I need them on my desk ASAP."

"Ah, man. She broke you," Jimmy drawled as he snapped a few pictures.

Clark just smiled at Lois. After several shots, he spoke to Jimmy. "Jimmy, how 'bout being my guest for the game, Sunday?"

"No way! I'd love to."

"Good. I'll send the passes over tomorrow. Bring your camera. You'll be on the sidelines."

"Cool! CK, you're the greatest."

"Jimmy, my pictures."

"Got it, Lois. See ya' around guys." Jimmy ran to develop his photos.

"That was very sweet," Lois said.

"Jimmy seems like a good kid. I couldn't resist."

"He's the best." She held Clark's gaze a second before speaking. "Go. I've got to work."

"Yes ma'am." Clark squeezed Lois' hand, then entered the elevator.

Lois watched the doors close with a silly grin. When she turned, several people were looking at her in amazement.

"What? Even *I* have a life! Geez!" The newsroom quickly returned to normal, but not without questions of how a football player managed to turn Lois Lane's head.


"What is that?" Clark asked Lois, pointing to the Scrabble game. They had eaten dinner, caught each other up on their story, and were sharing a game.

"It's my word," Lois answered from her place on the floor across from Clark.

"There is no such word."

"Sure there is. Someone's a chump, therefore, he's chumpy."

"Try again," Clark grinned.

"Are you challenging me?"

"You bet your sweet little chumpy I am." Clark shuffled through a dictionary, then looked up with a grin. "See. No such word." He noticed Lois was watching him. "What?"

"You have the most beautiful smile."

"Thank you. Yours isn't so bad either."

"Will you take your glasses off?"

Lois' question took Clark by surprise, but he pulled them off and put them on the coffee table. "Better?"

She stared at him for what seemed like forever. "Why do you hide such gorgeous eyes behind glasses?"

Clark shrugged. "Guess I've never had anyone to show them to."

"I'm glad you've shown them to me." She moved across the distance and kissed him.

"Umm. If I'd known you'd do that, I would have taken them off a long time ago." He traced her hair with his fingers. She kissed him again before leaning back and tickling his sides. To Clark's complete surprise, it really did tickle. The harder he laughed, the more she tickled him. "Lois…" He fell to the floor, and she quickly straddled his hips, not letting up on him.

"Say uncle," she demanded as she continued her assault.

"No way." She pulled up his shirt a little to get a better grip. A few moments and a few wiggles later, Clark's laugh faded. "Lois, please stop." When she didn't, Clark wrapped his arms around her and rolled them over.

"Be still," he whispered.

"Can't take anymore, tough guy?" She grinned up at him.

Clark leaned close to her ear. "Shh."


"Because if you don't, I'm going to need to take a shower."

Realization became apparent, and Lois felt the heat run through her. She lay still until Clark leaned up to look at her. Before he could speak, she covered his mouth with hers. He pulled back. "Don't stop it, Clark."


She pulled a hand to his mouth. "Not tonight. No thinking. Just feel." She covered his mouth again, thrusting her tongue between his lips. The kiss soon became passionate. Clark pulled back, rose to his feet, then pulled Lois up to him.

"Are you sure?" he whispered.


He lifted her up and took her to his bedroom. He gently laid her down before easing down next to her. "Lois, I don't want you to regret this tomorrow."

She rubbed his face tenderly. "I won't." She kissed him again.

Again he pulled back. "I…I don't have…protection."

"I do." Lois shifted from under Clark and disappeared into the living room. She returned to find him still on his stomach. She laid the box on the nightstand, then kicked her shoes off before sitting on the bed.

Clark rolled onto his side and leaned up on an elbow to look at her. "Are you always prepared?"

She stretched out on her side facing him. "Clark, I have never been so incredibly attracted to anyone in my life. I bought those today on a whim. I didn't plan to do this tonight, but I'm not sorry either."

He ran his hand down her arm, then back up to her face. He laid her back on the pillows and leaned over her. "Show me, Lois. Show me how attracted you are." Once again their lips met.


Lex Luthor entered his penthouse from his balcony. Nigel entered minutes later. "So?"

"She is still at Kent's, sir," Nigel answered.

"It's nearly 2am!"

"Yes, sir. She arrived at Kent's around seven. Her jeep's still in its space and the lights went out over two hours ago. No one came or left."

"Damn! A football player. A smelly athlete. Well, Nigel, she obviously lacks taste. Move ahead with the plan." Lex dismissed Nigel with a wave of his hand. Luthor's latest obsession was Lois. His newest obstacle was Clark. Things could get ugly.


Lois had awoken in the wee hours of the morning. She smiled brightly at the gorgeous man next to her, sleeping peacefully. She eased out of bed, found her panties and Clark's shirt, before heading to the fridge for a drink.

After finding a can of cream soda <Amazing! They both drank it.> she found Clark's computer on his small desk at the far end of the living room. She flipped the power on and immediately came face to face with a wonderful piece of writing.

Several paragraphs later, she stopped as she realized she recognized the style. "My God, he's Charles King," she whispered. A few minutes later, she was so intent on her reading that she didn't notice Clark until he kissed her temple.

"Oh," she started. "You scared me."

"Did you find anything… interesting?" He pulled a chair up next to her and sat down.

"Ah… well…" she stumbled over her words.

Clark glanced at the screen, then at her. "What do you think, Ms. Kerth-award-winner?"

"It's… another bestseller," she said, looking at him.

He was leaning on his palm, his elbow propped on the desk. He grinned, clearly not annoyed she'd discovered his book. "That means a lot coming from you."

She pulled a leg up in the chair and wrapped her arm around her knee. "You're Charles King?"


"Why? Why do you write under a byline?"

"The privacy thing again." He leaned up in his chair. "I love writing, just like playing football. I just want to do what I do, without all the notoriety that goes with it."

"Clark, your writing is beautiful."

"Thank you. So I take it, you've read my other books?"

"Yes. That's how I knew the author was you. People can copy a lot of things, but not the feeling put into writing." She rubbed his arm. "I'm sorry."

"For what?"

"Finding this… finding out about you."

"Lois, was tonight a one night stand?" She shot him a startled look. "Did it mean anything to you?"

"Clark, you know it did."

"And it meant a lot to me. *You* mean a lot to me. If tonight was more than a one night stand, that means, I hope anyway, that you'll be around a lot. That you'll want to know more about me, and I'll want to know more about you. My writing is part of me."

She took one of his hands between hers. "Tonight meant a lot to me, too. *You* mean a lot to *me*. I don't believe in one night stands. I want to know you completely and for the first time in my life, I want someone, *you*, to know me." She kissed his lips softly. "And right now, I don't ever want to leave." She smiled at him.

He smiled back and pulled her into an embrace. "Careful, I may not let you leave."

"Umm. Sounds promising." She pulled back and rubbed his chest. "Charles King will remain a private byline. Your secret's safe with me, as long as I get the first copy of all your future books."


"You know, somehow I don't think this is your biggest secret." Clark shrugged. "Guess that's part of the getting- to-know-you phase of a relationship."

"I guess so." Clark grinned and stood up, pulling Lois to him. "C'mon. I'll help you get back to sleep. Or not." He kissed her neck.

"Couldn't possibly get any better than this."

The computer was clicked off before the couple retreated to the bedroom again. New love. What a wonderful thing.


Lois' eyes fluttered open to the bright sunshine filtering in through the large window. She flushed as she met a pair of chocolate eyes, already open and watching her. "Morning," she whispered.

Clark touched her face softly. "Good morning. Sleep well?"

"Yes, very well. You?"

"I haven't slept as well in a really long time. I'm usually up by six, at the latest."

"What time is it?" she asked, but she kept her eyes on his.

"About nine."

"Wow!" She stretched slowly and deliberately. "This feels great."

Clark kissed her temple. "No regrets."

"No… yeah. One." Clark's worried expression made her giggle. "You haven't called me baby this morning." She snuggled into his chest.

He chuckled and kissed her head. "You like that?"

"Love it! My only other nickname has been Mad Dog."

"Lois, baby? Are you hungry?"


"Good. You take a shower, and I'll fix breakfast. Okay, *baby*?"

"Okay." She leaned up to kiss his lips. "Baby…I love that." She giggled and headed for the bathroom.

Clark smiled after her, sighed contentedly, then went to make breakfast. Lois Lane definitely held his heart.


Lois entered the kitchen to find a wonderful breakfast on the table, but no Clark. "Clark?!" A moment later, the door shut and Clark made his way to the table. "There you are. I thought you'd run out on me."

"Not a chance." He kissed her before sitting down. "Look Ma, that's me." Clark held up the front page of the sports section; his picture graced the copy.

Lois grinned at his comment. "Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful."

"Think so? I think my face is a little full."


Clark laughed softly. "Great article, baby. Once again, you proved why you have two Kerths."

"Thank you. It's easy to write when the subject interests you." Lois put a fork full of her breakfast in her mouth.

"Must be *some* subject." He smiled and scanned the article. "'Clark Kent may be considered the best football player in the country, but he's no spoiled, rich jock. True, Kent drew five million dollars for a one year deal with the Tigers, only to spread that wealth to things near and dear to his heart.' You never cease to amaze me."

Lois shrugged as she continued to eat. "This is good, no doubt." She watched him smile over the article. "Clark, for the four years of your football career, you've earned… roughly sixteen million dollars."

He put the paper down to look at her. "Yeah?"

"What do you do with the money?"

"Does my money bother you?"

"No. But it's obvious you don't flaunt it."

"I told you in the interview I donate to a lot of charities."

"Yeah, but that's a lot of donating," Lois countered.

"Well, my parents hold the title to their farm. My dad has a new tractor; my mom has new furniture; neither have any medical bills, ever. I have a check sent to them every month. Let's see, I bought this building."


"Yeah. I thought maybe I'd fix up the other three apartments and find good neighbors." Clark shrugged again. "I don't know what to tell you. About thirty percent goes to taxes, another twenty to charities, half of what's left goes to my parents, and the other half is put into accounts. I draw an interest check every month."

"A big one?"

"Suitable." He looked at her curiously. "Why? Why the sudden interest?"

"I don't know. Curiosity mostly. You just don't live like you earn millions of dollars."

"I'm just Clark. Money or no money. I don't want to change who I am because I have some. I won't lie. I enjoy being able to buy anything I want, any time I want. I just don't let it go to my head."

Lois leaned over within inches of his face. "What about the book money?"

"After taxes, half goes into a scholarship fund for gifted journalism students; the other half into CDs and such. I don't draw anything from that…yet."

"How suitable?"


"The check. How suitable?"

"Five figures," he said, brushing his lips across hers.

"Five?" Clark nodded. "Whoa!" She threw her arms around his neck. "So, if asked for… an expensive gift…"

"You'd probably get it," he grinned. "Do you want one?"


"Name it."

"Your heart," she whispered, her expression suddenly serious, her tone firm.

Clark pulled Lois into his lap and wrapped his arms around her. "Only if you give me yours," he whispered back, his heart racing. She nodded and pulled him into a kiss. Clark kissed her neck, then pulled her into a tight hug. "C'mon. I'm taking you out today."


"Uh huh. There's a carnival on the pier. I love the Ferris wheel."

"Me, too. Ya' sure?"

"Positive. I want to see you laugh and relax. No work today. We'll go by your apartment so you can change."

"You mean, so you'll know where I live," she teased.

"See. I knew you were a great reporter." He laughed and they got up to spend their day together.


Lois and Clark did spend their day together. Clark delighted in Lois' happy laughter. They rode the rides and played the games; Clark won her a giant teddy bear, she won him a small one. They shared their day hand in hand, arm in arm. Even the few stares and several people asking for autographs did not dampen their fun.

Clark took Lois out for dinner and dancing. Both had to admit they had never had as much fun.

They went back to their table after another dance. Lois was laughing happily at something Clark had said. "You're too much," she told him as she sat down.

"Ah, but not nearly enough for you," he replied, kissing her briefly as he sat.

"Excuse me." A child's voice interrupted their shared gaze. "Aren't you Clark Kent?"

Clark looked up to see a small boy, holding a copy of the article about him. "Yes, I am."

"Hi, Mr. Kent. My name's Bobby." The little boy extended his hand.

"Nice to meet you, Bobby." Clark shook his hand.

"Would you sign my paper?" He held out the item.

"Sure." Clark took the paper and spoke as he wrote. "Bobby, this is Lois Lane. She wrote the article."

"Oh wow! My mom's your biggest fan. Would you sign, too?"

Lois grinned and blushed. "Okay." She took the paper and pen. Clark smiled as he watched her. "Here you go." She handed the boy his paper.

"Thanks." He smiled and whispered in Clark's ear.

Clark chuckled and said, "I agree." He winked at the boy before he left.

"What was that?"

"He said that I have a very pretty girlfriend." Clark smiled brightly.

"You sure know how to sweet talk a girl." She brushed her lips across Clark's, before leaning back to smile appreciatively.

"What?" Clark asked after a few seconds.

"Thank you."

"For what?"

Lois took his hand. "For whatever it is you've done that makes me feel so good about you."

"I don't think I have ever, will ever, meet anyone quite like you. You make me feel good about being *me*."

"You know, when I look at you, I see such gentle strength. But I also see such loneliness." Clark's eyes took on a haunted expression, and he dropped his gaze. Lois stroked his cheek tenderly. "That has something to do with those ties you talked about, doesn't it?"

"Lois, there are… things…about me… that you don't know, that you might not… understand."

"Clark, whatever it is, it's part of you. I'm willing to wait for you to tell me, for as long as you need."

Clark rubbed her face. "One day soon. I promise."

Lois kissed him tenderly. "You're not alone anymore." Clark inhaled deeply, then pulled Lois into a tight embrace. For the first time in years, Clark felt… normal.


Lois donned her press pass for the game to be able to be on the sidelines with Clark. She helped him prepare in the locker room, then made her way to the field to find Jimmy. She found him clicking pictures of the cheerleaders. She laughed and shook her head at his enthusiasm and fascination.

Soon the player introductions were made. Lois' heart fluttered as she watched Clark take the field. <Damn! He looks good!> She was amazed at how this man had managed to change her whole perspective on life in such a short time. She couldn't say what he'd done or how it happened, but somehow along the way, Lois Lane had lost her heart to Clark Kent. Nothing would ever be the same again.


The brief separation from Lois before the game reminded Clark of his obvious connection to her. He could actually feel her. She seemed to be part of his very existence. He couldn't understand how that was possible. He'd only known her a few weeks.

Lois had said she felt as if she'd known him forever. Clark now felt the same way. They had been together for the past two days. Days that, to Clark, felt right, like the way things should be. Lois made Clark feel complete, like a man.

Lois also, for a reason beyond Clark, made him want to use his powers again. He wanted to show her who he really was. In fact, it appeared Lois, somehow, spontaneously enhanced Clark's abilities. For years, he'd perfected his ability to cut off his powers. Now, they were becoming more apparent, and he couldn't stop them. He didn't want to, either.

Clark smiled as he ran through the corridor. The sun hit his face, Lois' steady heartbeat filled his ears. They shared a gleam when they made eye contact. A silent message of mutual admiration passed between them. Two souls, destined to meet, were getting to know each other.


Lois stayed out the way, allowing Clark to work. He, however, was by her side every possible second. She drilled him with questions about football, suddenly finding it very interesting. He answered every question with the enthusiasm of a child, completely thrilled she wanted to be part of his life.

At the top of the fourth quarter, Clark returned a kickoff return for nearly ninety yards for a touchdown. He trotted back to the sidelines, ball in hand, removing his helmet.

Lois felt as if she would blow up as he approached. Her smile covered her face, and she barely stood still. "Wow!"

Clark stopped in front of her, soaking in her joy. Unable to contain himself, he kissed her briefly. "I take it you liked that."

"Very impressive."

"The touchdown or the kiss?"

"Both," Lois said. They held each other's gaze for few moments then Lois looked down at the ball he held. "Do I rate high enough on your list to… hold onto that?"

Clark followed her gaze to the ball. "You want to hold it?"

She nodded with a smile, and he handed her the ball.

Close to the end of the game, Clark stopped beside Lois to speak. "I'm glad you were here. I'll see you in the locker room." He pressed a kiss to her cheek and disappeared to finish the game.


"That was a great game," Jimmy announced happily, walking beside Lois toward the corridor.

"It sure was, Jimmy," Lois replied.

"Hey, I saw CK kiss you. You guys… you know?"

"Yeah, we're… seeing each other."

"Oh man! That's great, Lois. CK seems like a great guy."

"He is, Jimmy. He's the man I thought I'd never meet."

"Well, he's gotta be something special to impress you," Jimmy grinned.

"I'm definitely impressed." Lois held his arm for a few feet. "Hey, how 'bout put this in my jeep. Use your key." She handed Jimmy the football from the game.

"Sure. See you guys later. Tell CK thanks." With a final wave, he was gone.


Lois took a few more steps before a voice stopped her. "Ms. Lane?" She turned to see Nigel St. John. Before she could speak, he took her arm. "It seems your presence is requested by Lex Luthor."

She pulled against his grip. "Take your hands off me."

"It would be in your best interests to come peacefully."

"And why's that?"

"A certain football player we both know would be in danger if you don't," Nigel stated.

Lois stilled in his hand. "Clark? What about Clark?"

"You see, Ms. Lane, I saw him that morning; the morning of the fire. Sources also tell me he pulled those people from the building."

"You leave him alone!" she threatened.

"As long as you do as you're told, your little playmate will be fine." He pulled her toward the exit. "Let's go." Lois relented and followed him, but not before she dropped her keys.


Clark had showered and dressed, but still hadn't seen Lois. He searched the locker room and asked several people. No one had seen her. He made his way to the corridor, an uneasy feeling sinking in. He went back out to the field, no luck. He decided to go to the jeep.

On his second pass through the corridor, Clark spotted the keys. He immediately recognized them as Lois'. Suddenly fear set in. He jumped up and ran to the jeep. Not finding Lois, he stood, breathing heavily. "Think, Kent!" Finally, he got in her jeep and headed for the Planet.


Lois was led into Luthor's penthouse to a small bedroom and locked in alone. After a long while, the door opened and Lex stepped in. "What the hell are you doing with me?" Lois yelled out.

"Honestly Ms. Lane, such language is unbecoming a woman. Now, if you must know, I don't like to be turned down."

"You kidnapped me because I wouldn't have dinner with you?"

"Kidnapped? That's a strong word. I like to think of it as you accepting an invitation for an extended vacation."

"What?" Lois crossed her arms over her chest.

"Yes. Within the hour, my jet will take us to my home in France. Your new home."

"You are sick."

"Maybe, Ms. Lane." Lex pasted on a smug smile.

"People will look for me."

"Yes. And they'll get a message saying you got a hot lead on your current story. In a few hours time, sources will tell of how you got onto a ship in the bay. That ship will tragically sink in the middle of the Atlantic. The world will mourn the loss of Lois Lane. I, on the other hand, will be enjoying the opportunity of breaking your indomitable spirit." He ran a finger across her cheek. Lois slapped his face, causing Lex to grip her face hard. "Don't ever do that again." Lex backhanded Lois to the bed, then left the room.


Clark's thoughts ran wild as the elevator made its way to the newsroom. He couldn't understand why he hadn't heard Lois if she had been in trouble. The noise in the stadium had obviously been too loud to hear anything.

The doors opened and he immediately saw Jimmy. "Jimmy! Have you seen Lois?"

"Ah, no, CK. I thought she was with you."

"She never made it to the locker room. I found her keys in the corridor. Jimmy, something's wrong."

"Let's check her messages." Jimmy led Clark to her desk. A message from a source indicated he had a hot lead and she should meet him right away. "The message was sent to her pager. Knowing Lois, she's out getting the story."

"I don't think so, Jimmy. She would have taken her car."

"Does seem strange she dropped her keys," Jimmy said.

Clark thought a second. "Can you pull up Lois' notes for me?"

"Yeah." Jimmy sat down to bring up her notes. Within seconds, her current work flashed on the screen. "Okay. What we lookin' for?"

"Anything. Nothing. You tell me, Jimmy." Clark settled in to go through Lois' notes to see what they could find.

Several hours later, the search through Lois' notes proved unsuccessful. Perry had been called and the police notified. Night had set in on the city. Clark hung up the phone, trying once again to reach Lois at home.

"All right, listen up," Perry bellowed, coming from his office. "I just got a call from one of Lois' snitches. Seems she got a lead on her story and was seen getting on the Laredo a couple hours ago."

"What's the Laredo?" Clark asked.

"It's a cargo freighter. It's been said that it was transporting drugs in and out of the country," Jimmy answered.

"So the lead was on a different story?" Clark was now completely lost.

"Seems so." Jimmy pulled up the information on the drug story.

Clark read the information quickly. "This doesn't make sense."

"How's that, son?" Perry asked.

"Lois has finished the story. She says the Laredo has been docked pending further investigations."

"I'll call Henderson." Perry grabbed the phone to contact the police.

Clark was still studying the monitor. He turned to Jimmy and said, "Jimmy, can you find out who the share holders are on this Lynx LTD. They own the Laredo."

"You got it." Jimmy scrambled to get the needed information.

Perry hung up the phone. "Henderson's sending some men to the marina. Ah, look Kent, I really appreciate your help. Lois means a lot to… ah… me, and everyone here at the Planet."

"She means a lot to me, too, Mr. White."

"Call me Perry." He didn't wait for a response before heading back to his office. Clark returned to the research on the screen. He forced the fear to the back of his mind to concentrate on finding Lois.


Lois surveyed the small room Lex had just shoved her into. He had told her they were going to France, but the flight had been much too short. She couldn't imagine what had prompted him to do such a thing. Her fear was finally getting the best of her. She crouched in a chair filling her mind with thoughts of Clark.


"It's nearly midnight, son. Go home and get some sleep," Perry told Clark.

"There's nothing there for me, Perry." His expression was somber.

"Hey, CK, got the list of share holders." Jimmy handed Clark the paper.

"Perry," Henderson said, walking up to the men.

"Watcha' got?"

"The news isn't good. We talked to that snitch. He positively identified Lois as getting on the ship. The ship did break the court order and left the docks tonight. The coast guard reported on SOS from them about an hour ago. They got to them too late. The ship sank."

"Judas Priest!" Perry was stunned.

"The search was called off because of darkness. It'll pick up again at daybreak. I'll keep you posted." Henderson turned and left.

"Darn that girl." Perry stormed off.

"Oh God, CK! Lois!"

"No, Jimmy. She wasn't on that ship. It's all too neat. Someone wants us to think she's dead. I'm not buying." Clark focused on the list again. Suddenly a name caught his eye. "Jimmy, I need everything you've got on Lex Luthor."

"Lex Luthor?"

"Yeah. Lois and I have reason to believe he was involved in the arson at Dellcom, and he's a principle share holder."

"No problem." Jimmy once again took off.

Clark sat, reading through the information again. The phone ringing scared him. "Hello? Lois Lane's desk."

"Yeah. I'm…a friend. Would this happen to be Clark Kent?"

"Yes it is."

"Lois told me you were gonna help her with this arson, Luthor story. Anyway, I heard Lois disappeared tonight."

"Do you know anything about that?"

"I heard a guy bragging about how he made some big money to make a bogus phone call. Seems an English dude… ah.. called the Saint, paid him to call in a tip to Lois' desk."

"What else?" Clark sat up.

"This Saint is said to be the one who hired a homey to burn Dellcom."

Clark's expression grew desperate at the man's words. "And today?"

"Apparently the Saint was seen at the stadium just before the end of the game. Now, when you find Lane, tell her I said I want lasagna. Good lasagna."

"Mister, when I get Lois back, I'll cook you all the lasagna you can eat. Thank you."

"Hey, Kent?"


"Just bring Lois home. I got a feeling whoever took her is a taco short of a combo."

The line went dead and Clark hung up the receiver. Clark considered the new information, then made a dash for the stairs. He stopped as the door to the roof shut behind him. Clark looked around, placed his glasses in his pocket, then shot into the sky.

Clark landed in a dark alley beside the Lexcorp building. He super sped up the stairs to the penthouse. Once x-ray vision proved the inside to be empty, Clark pushed the door open. He immediately searched Lex's office. Several minutes and a few super powers later, he found some very incriminating computer programs. Clark found a disk and copied the files. Once done, he placed the disk in his pocket.

He resumed his search of the other rooms. He found a small bedroom off the master suite. He entered and was smacked in the face with Lois' scent. A scan of the room resulted in the discovery of one of Lois' earrings. The drawer the item was found in had the words: jet and France carved into the wood. Apparently Lois had used the earring to leave the clues. Earring in hand, Clark flew back to the Planet.


"Jimmy, you got that info on Luthor?"

"Yeah, CK. Where ya' been?" Jimmy handed him a stack of files.

"Ah, a source called. He says the sighting of Lois on the ship was bogus." Clark sat down with the files. "Jimmy, do private jets have to file a flight plan?"

"I would think so. Why?"

"Can you find out if Luthor's jet made a flight last night?"

"Sure." Jimmy sat down at Lois' computer. A few minutes later, the screen told them Lex Luthor's jet had taken off less than an hour after Lois disappeared. A few screens and several calls later, they knew the jet's original destination was France. It had apparently disappeared over Novia Scotia.

An hour later, the newsroom had been transformed into information central. Clark had produced the disk, stating he and Lois had received it from an anonymous source. The files implicated Luthor in several shady deals, enough to charge him with a multitude of crimes.

A third time through the files on Luthor, Clark found what he needed. "Jimmy, you got a map of the North Atlantic?"

"Yeah." He led Clark to a wall where several maps hung on rollers. "What did ya' find, CK?" Jimmy asked as he watched Clark study the map.

"Luthor owns a house on the Ile D'entree."

Jimmy leaned up to see where Clark pointed. "That's just north of Novia Scotia."

"Exactly." Clark turned to head out the newsroom.

"Where ya' going?" Jimmy was hot on his heels.

"To bring Lois home."

"Shouldn't we tell Henderson?"

"D'entree is a private island. By the time the authorities there are notified, Luthor could be moved her. I have a jet. I could be there in no time at all."

"You think she's there? That Luthor took her?"

"I'm betting on it, Jimmy." The door to the stairway closed behind him. Seconds later, he was zipping through the moonlit sky.


Minutes after he left Metropolis, Clark landed near the back of the house Luthor owned on the private island. A scan from the air told Clark that Luthor, Nigel, six guards, and Lois were indeed there. Clark paused in the shadows to contemplate the best entrance. Lois was in a room on the north side, a wing off to itself. The shadows provided Clark much needed cover to make his way to the high window to Lois' room.

Clark waited for the guard to resettle in his chair after his rounds. Slowly he floated up to the window. A blast of his heat vision melted the lock, allowing Clark to push the window open silently. He floated in through the window, pulled it shut, then floated down to the bed.

Lois lay, sleeping. Clark knelt beside the bed and reached out to cover her mouth. She woke with a start. Clark leaned over to her ear. "It's me, Lois. It's Clark." She calmed and threw her arms around his neck.

She pulled back to see him in the shadows. "How…?"

"I'll explain later." He leaned over and put her shoes on her feet, then pulled her up. "Do you trust me?" He whispered.


"I need you to do what I say, no questions. When we get home, I'll answer all of them." He rubbed her face. "Can you do that for me?"


Clark unbuttoned his shirt and opened it. "Wrap your arms around me. Hold on tight. Put your face into my shoulder. Don't open your eyes and don't move until I say so."


"Please, Lois. Just do it. It's okay." She nodded briefly, then stepped into him.

Just before she lowered her face, she looked at him. "I love you."

"I love you, too, baby." He kissed her forehead and pulled her close. "Trust me. I'm taking you home."

Clark's arms encircled Lois' small frame. She buried her face and held on tight. All at once she felt weightless.

Clark's head held hers tight against his shoulder; his arms held her against his chest; his legs tight on each side of hers. A few minutes later, she felt her feet touch a hard surface, and Clark's grip loosened slightly.

He put his hand on the back of her head, not allowing her to lift it. "Before I let you go, I want you to know that I do love you, with all my heart and soul." Slowly he released her.

"Clark, you're scaring… me." Lois stopped as she realized they were standing on Clark's balcony. "How…? How…? What the hell are you?"

Lois' words ripped through Clark. "I'm so sorry you had to find out this way."

"Find out what?" And how the hell did we get here?"

"Lois, I'm… very unique. And I flew us here."

"You what? Have you lost your mind? Or… have I lost mine? What do you mean you flew us? Men don't fly. Did you hit your head? Did I hit mine? Oh God, I'm going crazy." Lois paced the balcony before dropping to a chair.

Clark sat next to her. "If you'll listen, I'll explain."

Lois looked up to Clark's eyes. Seeing a mixture of guilt, sorrow and hurt, she had to know what caused it. "Okay, Clark. I'm listening." Her voice was calm.

Clark took a deep breath and settled into an explanation. He watched the emotions play across her face. Complete shock faded into fascination as he told his story. When he'd finished, she sat, stunned for a long while.

The silence got the best of Clark. "Lois, I know this is a shock. I should never have let you get so close to me. You don't deserve this."

"Deserve what?"

"Someone like me."

"Clark, someone like you? *You* just saved my life. Without your… abilities, I'd still be locked away in Luthor's… prison. True, your uniqueness is a lot to take in. But from the moment I met you, I knew there was something different about you."

"Different is an understatement."

"Yeah, but normal is boring." Lois half smiled.

Clark didn't return the gesture. "Different is worse. I know. Different is never quite blending. Different is wishing you weren't."

For the first time during their conversation, Lois really looked into Clark's eyes. The loneliness she had seen before was incredibly apparent. She pulled her chair close to his; they sat face to face. "I know a little bit about being different. I lived with parents who couldn't raise themselves, let alone kids. My dad worked every waking minute, at least when he wasn't having another affair with *another* strange woman. My mom was an alcoholic. She thought that would stop the pain. My sister locked herself in her room for six years, virtually. I was the boy my dad *didn't* get. I never measured up; never fit in; never blended. That was in my own home." Lois made sure she held Clark's gaze. "As I became an adult, I didn't fit into the man's world of journalism. My personal inadequacies set me apart from people. I closed myself off emotionally." Lois reached for Clark's hands. "The loneliness, the pain, and the sorrow I've seen in your eyes, I've felt them. That, *all* that changed when I met you."

Clark's eyes took on a hopeful glow. "All my life I've wanted to feel a connection to this world. I never have; not until I met you. I have always felt… incomplete." He traced her face with his fingers. "Not now. You… complete me."

"You know, for a spaceman, you are the most romantic person I've ever known. Earth guys don't stand a chance against you." Lois' eyes welled with tears as her lips met Clark's.

He drew back to look at her. "This really doesn't bother you?"

"No." She reached out and stroked his bare chest; his shirt was still open. "*This* bothers me." With a mischievous smile, she added, "Really bothers me."

Clark recognized her tone and smiled. "Guess I should button up my shirt."

"Don't you dare." Lois leaned in for another kiss.

"Lois," Clark said, pulling back. "We should let everyone know you're home."

"We should tell them you found me and we're on our way home. If we tell them I'm home already, they'll wonder how I got here so fast."

"Yeah. I just left the Planet a couple hours ago. Jimmy thought I was crazy, running off." Before Lois could say anything, Clark's cell phone rang. "Hello?" He answered after a couple rings. "Yeah, yeah… Jimmy… it's okay…" He listened a second. "Jimmy… I found her… yes… she'd right here… She's fine… Luthor had her… Right." Another silence. "Great… I'll have her back soon… yeah… we'll come to the Planet this afternoon… see ya' then… I will… Yeah, Jimmy… me, too." Clark closed the phone. "He says the authorities in D'entree have surrounded Luthor's place. They should have him in custody within the hour." Lois let out a deep breath. Clark touched the bruise on her face. "I haven't even asked if you were all right."

"I'm fine. Pride's a little bruised, but I'm okay."

"He didn't… hurt you… did he?"

Lois turned to Clark. "No. Just slapped me because I slapped him first."

Clark kissed her cheek. "I'm so sorry."

Lois smiled at Clark. A moment later she got up and settled in his lap, her arms around his neck, his around her waist. "Thank you."

"For what?"

"Finding your way to me." She kissed his face. "Loving me. I feel like I've waited my whole life for you… I guess I have." She squeezed him close. "I know we've only known each other a short time, but my heart feels like it's known yours my whole life."

"I've always dreamed of having someone say that to me. I just never thought I'd find anyone… special enough to understand me."

"That's why you've stayed so private?" Clark nodded. "I meant it when I said you weren't alone anymore." She kissed him again, then leaned her head against the side of his. "When you came for me, you said you were bringing me home. We came here."

"I'm sorry. I guess I should have taken you to your place."

"Clark, I don't know why, but I feel more at home with you than I ever have anywhere. I have fought so long to be a tough, career woman. Self dependant, never needing or wanting to depend on anyone." Clark stroked her back gently. "Now though, you are in every thought. I want you in every action. My God, it's hard to breathe without you around."

"I feel the same way about you." He pulled her close and kissed her neck.

"How are we ever gonna make it through our days, our work, without each other around?"

"Umm. I don't know." He rubbed and squeezed her thigh. "Right now… we don't have to find out."

"No, we don't." Lois smoothed her hand across his chest. "Let's bring the sun up, in style," she said seductively.

"You're not tired, honey?"

"Not yet." She nuzzled his cheek, then sat up. "What did you just say?"

"I asked if you were tired."

"After that."


"That's the first time you've called me that. Say it again."


"That's amazing. I *like* it. I never thought of myself as a honey. What's happening to me? So, you got… got any other names in mind?"




"Hmm, mmm."

"My little… tornado."

"Oh, this is disgusting." She kissed him, both laughing. "I still like baby the best."

"Mmm. I like my baby best, too." He rubbed his hand up her side.

"What do you say… you show me…" She kissed his face below his ear. "…how much…" She kissed his neck. "…you like…" She kissed his lips. "…your baby?" Her mouth covered his with a passion that left no doubt as to how much she wanted him. His desire quickly matched hers. He slid his arm under her legs, scooped her up, and took her to the bedroom.


It was late afternoon before Lois and Clark made it to the Daily Planet. They entered the newsroom hand in hand, laughing happily.

"Guys!" Jimmy yelled excitedly as he bear-hugged Lois. "Lois, I'm glad you're home." He sat her down, then grabbed Clark. "CK, your hunch paid off. Way to call it."

"Thanks, Jimmy. Guess we got lucky," he said, squeezing Lois' hand.

"Perry and Henderson are waiting for you guys in the conference room."

"'Kay, Jimmy," Lois replied as she started down the ramp.

"Hey, CK…"Jimmy stopped Clark by grabbing his arm. "Thanks again."

"I wanted her safe, too."

"Yeah, I know. But that's not what I meant. Since Lois met you, she's… living, really living. She's happy. It's obvious that it's because of you. I like seeing her smile and hearing her laugh."

"I like seeing her happy, too. Lois means a lot to me. And as long as she'll let me, I'll try to make her happy."

"Yeah… I know you will." Jimmy extended his hand to Clark. "Welcome to our little family."

Clark was moved by Jimmy's words. He reached to grip his hand firmly. "Thanks, Jimmy." The younger man smiled and disappeared.

Clark caught up to Lois in the conference room. Perry had nearly crushed her with his hugs. When Clark entered the room, Perry met him with a smile.

"Son, if you write half as well as you investigate, I'm gonna put in an offer for you myself." Perry clapped his shoulder and everyone laughed.

They settled in to give their statements of the previous day's events. Henderson informed them that Lex had been arrested and charged with numerous crimes, including felony kidnapping. The disk Clark had gotten implicated him in various crimes from tax evasion to murder. A subsequent search of his penthouse had produced more documents. They had proof of his various sabotage attempts in the Dellcom takeover. They found the video of Luthor and Foster's wife; found out Foster had coaxed Lex's daughter into making a pornography film and found proof of a payment to a street rogue known for arson.

Lois convinced Clark to help her write the story. She claimed he should share the byline because he'd done most of the work. They sat, talking, waiting on Perry to give his approval.

"Kids, this is the best damn piece of writing I've seen in years," Perry said, walking up to them.

"Thanks, Perry," Lois answered.

"Clark, where did you learn to write like this?"

"Well, Perry, I've always liked writing. You tend to be good at things you like."

"Son, this isn't 'being good at it'. This is pure writing talent." Lois beamed at Clark, receiving an equally happy smile. "Tell you what, any time you want to help Lois, my newspaper will have space for the copy."

"Thank you, Perry. Maybe 'Mad Dog' will let me help her now and then."

"Watch it, Kent, you can be replaced. I was already starting to look," Lois teased.

Perry laughed heartily. "That's our Lois."

Clark grinned. "The genuine article.

Perry laid his hand on Clark's shoulder. "Now, Kent, if you get tired of playing football, you come on back here. There'll always be a position open for you at the Planet." Perry cut his eyes at Lois with a sly smile. "Ah… even if you don't get to write every story with our resident 'Dog'." Perry and Clark dissolved into laughter at Lois' expression.

"Cute. Really cute."

"Yes, you are," Clark commented softly, causing an immediate rush of electricity through Lois when his eyes met hers. "Thanks, Perry. I really appreciate the offer."

Perry shook Clark's hand. "Any time." He left to put the paper to bed.

"You know, Perry's right. We do write well together," Lois told Clark as she leaned up on her desk.

"Yes, we do." Clark leaned across to be face to face with her. "Seems we do a lot of things well together."

"And I can't wait to find more." Lois rubbed her nose on his. "Come on, Mr. Kent. I'll show you my Kerth awards."

"Ooo, sounds promising." He rose to stand beside her.

They walked hand in hand to the elevator. Perry watched from his doorway. Jimmy walked up to him, noticing what he was looking at.

"That Clark's the man, huh, Chief?"

"Jimmy, those two are going to make a lot of noise together. They're gonna be the hottest team in town."

"Yeah," Jimmy agreed with a smile. "Lane and Kent, Metropolis' *super* team." The two men watched the Daily Planet's future reporting team leave the building. Look out, world.


… for now