By Wendy Richards <email@example.com>
Submitted: September 2002
Summary: A Season 1 Lois and Clark vignette with a difference, written in response to a challenge on the old Lois and Clark Fanfic email list.
Author's note: For anyone who thinks this story seems familiar, it was posted to the old LCFanfic email list (hosted on the Indiana.edu server) in October 2000. I wrote it because, just sometimes, I can't resist a challenge. <g> The 'challenge' was issued by Kathy Brown, and I am not going to explain what it was just yet. If you can't figure it out as you read through, I'll explain at the end.
Minor continuity note: please, for the purpose of this story, pretend that Vatman takes place before The Rival; I wrote this before checking the order of episodes, and didn't want to take out the relevant reference.
Clark made one final adjustment to his and Lois's story on Preston Carpenter — replacing 'credulous' with 'trusting' — and turned to grin at Lois, who was leaning over his shoulder. "What do you think, partner?"
She grinned back. "Another brilliant front-page story from Lane and Kent. You know, Clark, you've got potential. You're getting better all the time, all under my excellent guidance and example."
He laughed softly, enjoying their banter. "You still persist in this strange belief that you do all the work, and I'm only tagging along for the experience, huh?"
She raised her eyebrows. "Well, you know, Clark, one of us has to face the facts, even if the other can't bring himself to."
"And those facts would be, my hugely talented fellow reporter?" he enquired in amusement.
She came to perch on the side of his desk. "Just answer me this. Which one of us has won three Kerth awards already, and which one of us… hasn't?"
"Ah, well, see, I wasn't in contention for any of those previous awards," Clark reminded her with an unholy grin. "Just wait and see, Lois. Next year it could be you congratulating me, for all you know."
Lois struck a pose, head raised and one hand shading her eyes. "Oh, look, Clark!" she exclaimed, keeping her voice low. "I've just seen a pig fly into Perry's office!"
Laughing, he swatted at her hand. "We'll see, Lois, we'll see!" He hesitated then, wondering whether to… Lois was in an excellent mood. They'd just proved that Preston Carpenter of the Star had not only been trying to destroy the Daily Planet, but that he'd also set up several potentially fatal accidents across the city, mainly as a lure for Superman and a reporting opportunity for Linda King, but also as a cover for his nefarious criminal dealings. It was one terrific scoop for the Planet, and Clark knew that this one was even more his doing than Lois's. She knew it too, despite the badinage. And she respected him for it.
She was in excellent spirits right now, and as they'd made their final adjustments he'd felt that the two of them were really in tune with each other. Yes, he thought. This was the right time.
Smiling up at her again, he suggested lightly, "Pizza and a movie, my place? Or, if you prefer, we could eat out?"
She looked surprised, and then pulled a face. "Oh, Clark, that sounds nice, but I can't make it tonight. I'm seeing Lex —"
Lex Luthor. Clark turned away, his good mood…
…but she was tugging at his arm, dragging his attention back to her. "Clark, no, it isn't what you think!" she muttered insistently as he stared at her. His momentary dismay vanished completely as he saw her expression. This was Lois Lane intent on a big story, not Lois Lane who might be in love with Lex Luthor. He frowned; what was going on? Where exactly was the story here? — unless she was still trying to get that big exclusive interview?
"Conference room," she added quietly. "I'll explain there."
Following her across the newsroom to the empty conference room, Clark wondered what on earth she was up to. One thing was for sure: while she'd been seeing a lot of Lex Luthor lately, that look in her eyes made it clear that, whatever Luthor intended by it, romance was far from Lois's mind!
Once inside, and with the door shut, Lois turned to Clark. "First things first. I know how it looks, but I'm not dating Lex. Oh, he thinks I am, but that's what I intend him to think."
"Okay," Clark answered, immediately accepting her word on the matter and deciding that he was right about the interview. "So what are you up to?"
"Investigating him," she informed him with a grin.
That was *not* what he'd expected to hear! "Why?"
"Because I finally took a good look at him and decided that if both you and Superman don't trust him, there's got to be something going on with him," she shocked him again by telling him.
"I… uh, I didn't think you were that interested in what I thought of him," Clark said hesitantly.
"Clark! You're my partner, *and* my friend! Of course I care about what you think! It just took me a while to admit it, that's all," she acknowledged. "And okay, I admit that once I realised that Superman didn't seem to have much respect for him either, that made me think about it sooner. And I've noticed, now that I've become suspicious myself, that Lex does seem to be conveniently around and in a position to save the day rather too often."
"You have?" Clark was very interested now; he'd been thinking this himself rather frequently, but had never been in a position to prove it.
"Yeah. Look at how he was somehow *there* when that cyborg boxer got out of control, and he then offered my dad a job after? And what about his power plant, during the heatwave? *So* convenient that it was there and available to supply power to the city just when it was most needed… and so coincidental that it was the cause of the heatwave. Accident…?" She snorted. "I don't think so."
"Yeah," Clark agreed. "That occurred to me too. And you remember the Superman clone?"
"Of course!" Lois shuddered. "To think I let him kiss me… ughh!!"
Clark grimaced, remembering. "Lois, you didn't know. There was no way you could have known. Anyway, that wasn't what I meant. Remember Dr Leek?"
"How could I forget?" she retorted. "That slimeball — he tried to date me, you know!"
This time, Clark grinned. "Oh yeah, I remember. I really didn't think he was your type, Lois!"
"Ugh, as if!" she retorted.
"Well, anyway, the reason I mentioned him is that he worked for Lex Labs," Clark pointed out. "Which, in itself, isn't incriminating, but —"
"But it's yet another very convenient coincidence," Lois agreed. "As is Miranda and the pheromone."
"Huh? You think Luthor was behind that too?" This was a new idea to Clark.
"Yeah — I saw Lex a couple of times while that thing was going on, remember?" she pointed out. "Actually, that was when he first started suggesting that he was interested in me in a romantic way. Before then, I just thought he saw me as a challenge — how long could he keep stringing me along in the hope of a story? And if he managed to sweet-talk me into bed along the way, he'd consider it a bonus. But *then* — during the pheromone thing — he changed, and he's been different with me ever since."
"So you think he got affected by the pheromone too, and you were the object of his attention?"
"Well, I would've thought that's what it was, but it hasn't worn off," Lois reminded him.
Clark thought for a moment. "Well, he could have been sprayed with the perfume just like the rest of us were. But do you remember? He was at the airport when Miranda had the full-strength solution. Maybe he got caught by that too, and it's still affecting him."
"That's possible," Lois agreed.
"Anyway, what makes you think he was part of that?" Clark asked. "Didn't we conclude Miranda was working alone?"
"At the time, yeah," Lois agreed. "But I saw her at Lex's place a couple of times around that time. He said it was business, though I don't think she thought it was. My bet is he was funding her. Maybe he didn't exactly want what she came up with, but he was involved in some way, I'd bet."
"You could be right," Clark agreed slowly. "Lois, I'm not sure I like this. Luthor's dangerous — I'm pretty sure he's already had several people killed. I hate to think what he'd do to you if he figured out what you're up to."
She smiled reassuringly at him. "Clark, I'm being careful. I promise you that. He doesn't suspect a thing."
"So, what's tonight all about?"
"I'm having dinner in his private apartment," Lois told him. "Anyway, I've arranged for him to get an important phone call during dessert. Lex is very fussy — he likes his meals timed to the minute, so I know when we'll be having dessert. I've got a tape all ready with the voice of one of his senior minions on it — Jimmy was a great help. He edited the tape so that it really sounds as if this guy is reporting that one of LexCorp's overseas projects is about to take a nosedive and leave lots of people very exposed — to the police, as well as to shareholders. So that'll keep Lex on the phone a while, which gives me time to search through his bureau."
Clark shook his head slowly. It was an ingenious plan, completely typical of Lois; the chances were that it would work perfectly, but he still couldn't help but worry.
No, that wasn't true — he *could* do something which would be very effective in helping her. And, he realised in surprise, it was something he wanted to do. In fact, taking the decision to do it was lifting a huge weight off his mind…
He stood up, a resolute expression on his face. "That sounds like a great plan, Lois. But there's something you should know before you go ahead with it. I'd prefer not to discuss it here, though," he added, glancing around the conference room. "For this, I want to talk in complete privacy."
She gave him a puzzled look before nodding and leading the way out of the room.
Lois had expected Clark to try to veto her plan for the evening, and had been ready with all the arguments at her disposal as to why it was an excellent plan, why it was bound to work, and — if it came to it — why it was none of his business anyway and he should just butt out and leave her to it.
What she hadn't expected was his implicit acceptance that she was going to do it. And he'd told her it was a great plan! Well, maybe Clark Kent wasn't such a risk-averse person after all.
But what did he want to talk to her about? This was mysterious…
The sooner they got out of the newsroom, the sooner they'd find out. So she stopped dead and turned to Clark with a huge sigh. "Where's that new story folder?" she demanded.
He gave her a blank look, as she'd expected — there was no new story folder.
She rolled her eyes and groaned. "Don't tell me — you left it at your apartment?"
This time he rewarded her with a brief, almost infinitesimal wink, before his expression settled into an apologetic grimace. "I'm sorry, Lois, I guess I must have."
With a long-suffering sigh, she said, "In that case, we'll just have to go over to your place and work on it there. And it better not take long — I have a date tonight!"
Clark's look of disgust at that almost made her forget what they were doing. Taking a deep breath, she grabbed at his arm. "Come *on*, Clark! Let's just get out of here!"
In the elevator, he gave her a grin of such devilment that she almost collapsed with laughter there and then. "You know, if you hadn't made it as a journalist, you'd have had a great career on Broadway," he informed her in a deadpan voice.
"Hah!" she retorted. "Just as well you're shaping up okay as a reporter — *you'd* certainly be told not to give up the day job!"
The journey to Clark's apartment was livened with more friendly banter; Lois was reminded yet again just how much she *liked* her partner. She didn't tell him that enough, she realised. Maybe it was about time she made the effort — it was a shame that she couldn't have accepted his invitation for that evening. She knew very well that she'd have much preferred an evening spent in Clark's company to one with Lex Luthor, even if the latter was in the cause of a potentially earth-shattering story.
Clark led the way into his apartment, offering Lois a drink. She accepted a can of cream soda, noting to herself that he was also extremely thoughtful. He hated the stuff himself, and yet he always made sure he had some in his fridge, just for her. Who else did she know who would do that for her? She couldn't think of anyone — certainly not her parents.
"Okay, so what's this all about? And why all the secrecy?" she asked Clark, who was now leaning against the dividing wall in his apartment, watching her thoughtfully.
He straightened. "Because there's something I want to tell you. It's pretty important, and it *is* a secret." He shrugged a little. "I probably should have told you this a while ago, but…" He paused, and the corners of his mouth turned upwards briefly. "Well, the time was never really right, and I was always uncertain about how you'd take it."
He paused again, walking over towards her. "I realised just a short time ago, when you trusted me enough to tell me what's really going on with you and Lex Luthor, that I trust *you*. I trust you enough to let you in on my biggest secret, something I've had to keep a secret all my life, and which only my parents know about. I want you to know this, not only because it might help you, but because you're my friend and I care about you. I don't want to keep it a secret from you any more, Lois."
She stared at him, now feeling very privileged as well as intrigued. This was clearly *big*! "Clark, you can trust me. I promise," she assured him.
But he smiled warmly. "I know I can, Lois. I think I've come to know you pretty well over the past eight or nine months we've worked together."
"So…?" Now she was impatient.
He grinned, and she could tell he was enjoying keeping her on tenterhooks. But then his expression changed, gentled. "Lois, it's like this. I'm really an alien from outer space."
She stared at him in disbelief. He was playing her for a fool! "Clark Kent, if you think I'm that gullible…!"
He was shaking his head. "I'm not trying to play a joke on you, Lois. I *am* an alien. I'm from Krypton."
"From…?" She frowned as she tried to figure out why Clark was making up such a crazy story. Then she realised why the name sounded familiar… "Superman's from Krypton!"
"Yeah," he agreed; then he was smiling again. "Want to go flying, Lois?"
Suddenly Clark was gone and in his place was a whirling kaleidoscope of colours. When it all slowed down, standing where Clark had been was…
Superman. He smiled at her, and it was the same smile Clark had given her a few moments earlier.
"Now do you see?" he asked.
"You're… Superman? Clark?"
He inclined his head. "That's me."
She took a hesitant step towards him, reaching out a shaking hand to touch his chest. He imprisoned her hand within his, holding it against him. "Is this okay with you, Lois? Me being Superman, I mean."
She shook her head in wonder. "Some good it'd do if I wasn't! You *are* Superman!"
"Yeah," he agreed with an amused grin. "Lois, I needed you to know because of what you're doing tonight," he added more seriously. "I wanted you to know that if you get into any trouble, all you have to do is call. I'll be there in under a second if you need me."
And he would, too… "Sup — Clark, tell me the truth," she asked him seriously. "You'll probably be hovering above Lex's apartment all evening, won't you?" That would be completely typical of her very caring partner.
He smiled ruefully. "Yeah. I guess so."
"Too bad I can't get you inside!" she exclaimed, as at least one consequence of this discovery occurred to her. "You could search his desk, his computer, his files, everything — in seconds!"
"I sure could," he agreed with a mischievous grin. "Ever wondered how come I find things so quickly when we're snooping around?"
"You cheat!" She swatted at his arm with her free hand, and he laughed; then he dropped her arm, stepped back, and suddenly Clark was standing in front of her once again.
"There is something I could do," he said suddenly. "I could carry a cellphone, and if you need me to X-ray anything, just say so, quietly. You don't need to call me on the phone — I'll hear you. And I'll use the phone to call you if I see anything I want to tell you about, so you can find it. Just have your phone set to vibrate."
That was an excellent idea, Lois agreed. "I knew there was a reason I kept you around as a partner, Kent!"
He raised one eyebrow. "Oh — you mean it has nothing at all to do with my natural charm and good looks, or even the fact that I bring you great coffee every day?"
Lois faltered at that; she knew Clark was just kidding, but it was too close to the bone for her. She just knew he'd never…
"Lois? What is it?" he asked swiftly. "I was just kidding, you know!"
She owed him the truth, so she gave him a rueful smile. "I know, Clark, and it's not your fault. It's me — I've been in love with you, as Superman, as long as I've known you. And I haven't been very nice to you as Clark… and I just feel really bad about it."
Faster than she could blink, he was standing next to her, one long, strong arm around her shoulders. "Lois, I know. How do you think I feel about you?"
She shook her head. "You probably think I'm pretty stupid…" she began. But, as she assimilated the expression on his face, she trailed off.
"I love you, too," he told her. "I fell in love with you the day we met."
"But I… you can't be happy that I fell for Superman and not you?" Lois's question was almost rhetorical, because the way Clark was now looking at her made it clear that he *did* love her, no matter how it had come about.
He shrugged. "I *am* Superman. You love me as Superman. You like me as Clark, I think — one way or another, we'll work it out. If you want to, that is."
She couldn't take her gaze off his face. Raising one hand to stroke her fingers across that firm and very familiar jaw, she smiled warmly at him. "I more than like you as Clark. I think I realised that when we stayed together in the honeymoon suite — I've never spent that much time with anyone and got on so well with them as I did with you. And then you kissed me — I know it was only a ruse, but it was *incredible*! And since then I just didn't know what to think, because I was still attracted to Superman."
His smile was turning into a broad, joyful grin. "You liked my kiss?"
She was remembering more… "I've liked all your kisses, Clark. Including a really passionate one at the airfield… and especially when you kissed me goodbye. If I hadn't been so stunned, I'd have grabbed you and made you do it again!"
"Grab me now," he instructed her.
She did. And his kiss was even better than she'd remembered.
Later, much later, Clark pushed Lois gently away from him. "You need to get going. You've got a date with Luthor to get ready for."
Regretfully, she nodded. "I know. Clark — I'll see you later?"
"Count on it," he told her. "I'll be watching you all evening, and I'll be at your apartment the second you get home."
"I love you," she reminded him.
"And I love you," he replied; he made the words sound like a vow.
She hesitated. "This thing… you and me… we can't —"
"Can't be together until you've nailed Luthor, I know," Clark assured her. He wanted to shout it from the rooftops that Lois was in love with him, but he had to be practical. This was an important investigation — potentially a Pulitzer — and it was important to her. To him, too. If he had to wait for her until they'd put Lex Luthor in jail, that was fine with him. "Lois, I've waited almost a year for you," he reminded her. "I don't mind waiting another couple of months, now that I know how you feel."
"A couple of months?" Her face was a picture of horror. "Clark, all I wanted to say was that we can't go public. But that doesn't mean we can't see each other, I hope? As far as anyone else is concerned, we're friends. What we do when we're alone is up to us."
"Ah!" He grinned; that sounded like a plan. "I like that idea," he assured her, his voice husky. "And, of course, if Superman offers to take Lois Lane for a long flight, and we just happen to end up somewhere romantic…?"
"Beats a private jet to Paris with Lex Luthor any day!" Lois agreed happily.
"Great! Now all we need to do is catch the bad guys…"
"Throw 'em in jail, write the story, yada, yada, yada, and then…"
"And then the good guy gets the girl," Clark finished for her.
"Woman, Clark, woman! When will you learn…?"
"Sorry, sorry!" he yelped as she attacked him with a sofa cushion. "Woman, then. As long as *this* woman — " he reached for her and started tickling her "- catches the bad guy, *with* my help, then *we* write the story, and then we get to be *alone* together, that's all that matters to me."
"Sounds like a plan," Lois agreed, giggling.
And it was.
Note: The 'Challenge', if you haven't already guessed, was to write a WAFFy story completely free from angst. Now, I think Kathy had in mind something sweet and WAFFy, puppies- and-babies-around-the-Christmas-tree type of story but, as I suspect any regular reader of my stories could guess, that's not the kind of story I could write, even under torture. <g> So this was the best I could do. You, the readers, will have to judge whether I met the challenge in an acceptable manner or not.
And, yes, I do think that Lois and Clark are way, *way* out of character in the above story!
(c) Wendy Richards <firstname.lastname@example.org>