By Daydreamer80 <email@example.com>
Submitted: May 2003
Summary: Lois and Clark visit Smallville after the "Superman Charity Auction" and wrestle with their feelings for each other. Part Two in the author's "Lois and Clark Engaged" series.
Notes: This is the sequel to Lois and Clark Engaged Part I You forgot? Beginning the morning after part I ends, it concludes the story of the date auction. A number of plot questions are resolved while the 'problem' between our hero and heroine generated by the auction is wrestled with and finally put to rest. Also dealt with are a number of troubling aspects (to me at least) about the original episode, I'm Looking Through You.
PART II — Are you sure?
Superman was awakened just before daybreak by the sound of a neighbor's television set that had been left on all night after the family went to bed. Lois stirred, awakened by the sudden loss of the warmth generated by her lover's Kryptonian body.
"Volcano erupted in Southern Italy," Clark told his still sleepy partner. "How about you meet me at the Breakfast Bar at noon? We'll have their Sunday brunch buffet, then leave for Smallville from there — if I can make it. Otherwise you just eat then come back here," he finished asking for forgiveness in advance.
Lois sighed as she turned over and pulled the covers around her. "Superman Airways looks like it may have an even worse on-time flight record than the major airlines," Lois mumbled and went back to sleep. As it turned out however Clark was waiting when she arrived for brunch and they arrived in Smallville an hour ahead of schedule.
Clark's parents warmly welcomed Lois and Clark and all three Kents took Lois on a tour of the farm. A bored Lois tried to work up some enthusiasm for the usual farm sights such as the big barn with its tractors and various farm implements as well as the barnyard where the livestock was kept, but the senior Kents could tell she wasn't exactly thrilled. "Sorry, Mom," Clark whispered to his mother while Jonathan took Lois over to pet the family milk cow, Bessie.
"It's all right, Clark. We understand that Lois isn't a farm girl. But we love her, too. You're father and I know Lois makes you happy and that makes us happy and that's what really matters," Martha told her son giving him a hug.
However, Lois did enjoy the long walk they took to the dammed section of the creek where Clark and his friends used to swim on hot summer days. When she saw the clearing in the wooded area along the same creek where the family had shared many picnic lunches during Clark's growing up years. Lois couldn't help thinking of her own childhood and adolescence in a dysfunctional family and her face grew sad. Clark put his arm around her, smiling one of his wonderfully caring smiles, and Lois couldn't remain unhappy for long.
On the way back from the creek, they passed a tree house marked by a sign that read:
Fortress of Solitude.
Below the sign, carved into the trunk of the tree was the admonition: No grils aloud. Lois raised an eyebrow and Clark admitted blushing, "Pete Ross added that when we were nine."
"Oh?" was all the comment Lois made, but Clark knew he was in trouble. Lois would never let an insult like that even from years ago go unanswered. She'd make him pay … and pay … and pay. Clark grinned, a sign of their new accord.
After observing Clark's blush, Martha gazed in appreciation at the fine young man the 'child who came from the sky' turned out to be. She'd watched the woman she fervently hoped would soon be her daughter-in-law closely and had noticed that Lois too had come to appreciate this endearing trait. **I'll have to think of a way to tease Clark so we can both enjoy the sight, ** she thought.
Jonathan and Martha returned to the house while Clark floated Lois up to show her the inside of his childhood retreat. "I spent a lot of time here, most of it alone," Clark admitted. "I mean I had friends, I dated, but once my powers started manifesting themselves, well I had to keep so many things secret even from close friends."
"Yeah, I can see how bench pressing cars and lifting freezers would have raised a few eyebrows even among the sophisticated Smallville youth."
"Lois…" Clark began before he realized she was teasing him. "I guess having someone flying around would be pretty startling even without the outfit Mom made me."
"Oh?" Lois asked surprised. "I thought the outfit was intended to direct people's eyes away from your face and toward your…"
Realizing he was already in the water up to his neck, well beyond the section of his anatomy that he definitely did not want to become the subject of discussion, Clark interrupted her. "Dad made the tree house for me so I could try out my emerging powers without anyone else being the wiser. By the time I started flying, Pete was more interested in those 'grils' than spending time here with me," he finished grinning in relief.
Lois decided she'd teased him quite enough, so she looked around and noticed an object she remembered. "The globe. So this is where you hid it after you almost lost it when your apartment was burglarized. I was so mad at you for keeping Superman's artifact, for not telling me or him, and for lying to me when I gave you the opportunity to tell me," she finished in a whisper.
"I should never have kept it at my apartment," Clark reluctantly admitted. "It 'woke up' and started to give me messages from my father Jor-El and my mother Lara just before Jack stole it. I think he sold it to Lex Luthor. I got it back before it told of the ship landing in Kansas, but Luthor knew I came to Earth as a baby."
"Oh, Clark," Lois said trembling.
To lighten the mood a bit, he suggested a drive. "There's one other place I'd like to take you to. Let's go now; I need a diversion to keep my mind off dinner. Mom's fried chicken is so good, my stomach's gonna growl before too long."
Lois laughed and admitted she was hungry too. Clark floated them to the ground and they walked back to the farmhouse to borrow his mother's car. To Lois's amused query, he told her, "It's usually prudent in Smallville for Superman not to be seen flying around."
"Don't be late Clark. Dinner's in less than an hour," Martha admonished.
"Don't worry Mom. For your fried chicken, I'd tunnel through from the other side of the Earth if need be." Grinning he took Lois's hand and they got into the small car which was as neat and well kept as the Kent farm.
They drove about five miles and parked in front of a low gate leading to a flat field not currently under cultivation. No one was nearby so, holding Lois in his arms, Clark floated over the gate and they walked some distance across the field.
"This is Shuster's field, where the ship landed." Together they gazed in awe at the place where the infant Kal-El's long journey to Earth had ended. "Mom and Dad said it was night when they saw what they thought was a meteor. They climbed over the fence and found a small, egg-shaped space ship. The top opened by itself and there was a tiny baby inside. Mom picked me up and took me home.
My folks started worrying when some men — Mom described them as 'scary' — came to town asking questions shortly afterwards looking for the craft and for me."
Lois shuddered. **If Jason Trask had gotten Clark when he was a helpless infant…**
"Mom and Dad decided they should burn the ship to protect me. They never told me about it until after Trask came to the Daily Planet that first time, but then Dad admitted he'd buried it instead of destroying it. When we went to recover it, it was gone."
"Why show this field and the globe to me?"
"I want you to know as much about me as I myself know," he said softly.
Touched by his trust in her, Lois put her arms around Clark's waist and hugged him.
"The globe told me about Krypton and later more about Jor- El and Lara, and the planet's destruction, but… If only I had the ship," he said heavily. "There must be so much more it could tell me."
"Do you have any idea what became of it?"
"No, it vanished with all the other stuff from Bureau 39' Metropolis warehouse. I almost had it, Lois. But when Trask came the globe was the only part I could conceal and remove."
"And when we went back it was gone," Lois said realizing for the first time exactly what they'd lost that day two years ago. She could see the longing in Clark's eyes to find the tiny ship — such an important part of his heritage — and she vowed to help locate it. She placed her small hands on top of his clenched ones and said quietly, "It's out there somewhere Clark and together we'll find it."
"Lois, I brought you here for another reason," he told her and reached into his pocket to bring out his grandmother Kent's antique 1 caret diamond solitaire engagement ring.
He'd thought his heart would break when he went to work the morning after he and Lois had their 'discussion' about the date auction and found the ring in the upper right hand corner of his desk. Unable to bear its return, he'd fled the newsroom, shouting to Perry that he had to check out a news lead. He'd flown to Kansas and placed the ring in the dark recesses of the bureau in his old bedroom.
"This time it's not cloudy," he told her gazing at the sky, but Lois knew he wasn't just talking about rain. Getting down on one knee, Clark said, "This time both of me is asking. Lois will you marry us?"
"Yes, Clark," she whispered looking down into his serious face.
Clark's face seemed to glow as he stood up and placed the ring on her finger once more. This time he prayed it would stay there as he pulled her into his arms, swung her around joyfully, and kissed her right there in the middle of the Kansas wheat field.
Lois looked down and gasped. They were a hundred feet up in the bright spring air. "We'd better get back before we miss that fried chicken dinner," she told him gently.
Martha's fried chicken lived up to everyone's expectations. After dinner, all four took their dessert plates into the living room where both generations contentedly sipped coffee and ate apple pie with ice cream.
Lois smiled at the senior Kents and showed them the engagement ring on her finger. **I was right** Jonathan thought,secretly relieved. Martha and then Jonathan hugged Lois and formally welcomed her to the family. Both of Clark's parents had been certain she was the one for their child when he told them about Lois Lane at dinner a few days after he started working for the Daily Planet.
Recalling her plan to make Clark blush, Martha thought of the perfect way to provoke that kind of a reaction from her unsuspecting child. Excusing herself, she left the room then returned a minute later with a photo album and sat down on the couch next to Lois.
Clark looked horrified. "Mom, Lois doesn't need to see those old photos."
"Now, Clark. Surely you want Lois to know everything about you now that you two are engaged. What better way then by spending an evening with family pictures?
We have no pictures of the ship or Shuster's field, Lois," Martha said turning her attention to Lois. "But Jonathan and I took a lot of Clark that first summer. Clark looked so *cute* when we found him," she gushed, "sitting inside the tiny spaceship, all wrapped up in a blue blanket with a red S symbol on it. Of course when we lifted him out, the blanket fell off. Clark was wearing this cute little diaper thing. I put him down on the blanket and it fell off and…"
"Mom!" Clark was acutely embarrassed and blushed furiously, just the reaction his Mother hoped to produce. Grinning inwardly at the apparent success of her plan, Martha opened the album and started hunting for particular photos.
But Lois, rather than being amused, was struck by a fierce protectiveness. "Martha," she said hastily, "We really have to get back to Metropolis and the Daily Planet. Perhaps another time," she concluded taking the album from Martha and firmly closing it.
"Well, if you really have to go."
"We really do, Clark echoed. "We both have to work tomorrow. We need to leave right now so Lois can get a good night's sleep." Hastily, he got their things together and, after hugs and kisses all around a second time, they walked together out into the night to find an appropriately secluded spot for Clark to spin into the suit and take off.
As soon as they were out of earshot, Clark said, "thank you for the rescue," relief evident in his voice.
"It's not that I don't want you to look at the photos but maybe you and Mom could choose a more appropriate time — like during the next volcanic eruption in Southern Italy."
Lois laughed. "Let's make a pact. I won't look at your Mom's photos or listen to her Clark stories when you're around, if you promise to do the same for me." She stopped, assaulted by painful memories of her own childhood. "Although most of my childhood memories aren't exactly pleasant, just Mom and Dad fighting or criticizing — that sort of thing," she finished sorrowfully.
Clark took her in his arms and held her. In spite of his current embarrassment, his childhood had been a happy one with two loving parents who cared for each other. "Now you have me. And Mom and Dad, I know, are thrilled to finally have the daughter they've always wanted," he assured her as they rose into the Kansas night sky.
Back at the farmhouse, Martha was stunned. "Did I do something wrong? They left so abruptly," she asked bewildered. "I hope Lois isn't really angry. I thought she would love to see those photographs."
Jonathan took his wife into his arms and told her, "Martha, neither of them is angry with you and I'm certain Lois will want to examine the photos in detail… But not when Clark is here. Lois just wanted to stop you from embarrassing him. I think unconsciously she sees herself as Clark and Superman's protector — from Kryptonite, from people like Jason Trask who want to either kill him or dissect him like a frog, and from anyone else who might hurt him. And that includes us. Lois is smart enough to know that Clark can be hurt emotionally as well as physically."
"Not such a good idea, I had, huh?"
"No. We'll both have to tread a little more carefully with our son now that he has such a formidable protector," Jonathan told her. "And now since you're my wife, let's you and I do what I have no doubt those two will do as soon as they get back to Metropolis, whether Lois is really tired or not." But in that last thing, Jonathan was wrong.
Clark flew them to Metropolis and landed in the alley behind Lois's building. Spinning out of the Superman suit, he escorted her around to the front and up to her fifth- floor apartment.
"Clark, come inside for a minute before you go home." Lois suggested. Clark stepped inside and shut the door to the hall, but Lois just looked at him for while without saying anything.
Concerned since she seemed hesitant and unsure of her self, Clark reached down and ran his finger and thumb along her cheek in the special caress only he gave her.
She sighed heavily. "It's just… well I was wondering if the whole date thing is finished for this year. Do you have to be there on Wednesday evening when the check is presented to the orphanage? I'm not saying you shouldn't go but … "
Clark groaned. "Yeah, I'm afraid I do have to be there. That's part of the deal. Tiffany, her father and her mother will all be there to present the check to me — Superman — not the Charity Committee. The Ceremony is bound to attract TV, magazine, and newspaper coverage and result in even more charitable contributions."
Sighing he tried to reassure her. "Lois I'm sorry but I have to do this. I won't stay any longer than is absolutely necessary and I promise I'll announce Superman's intention not to participate in future auctions when I accept the check in the name of the Coates Orphanage."
"Clark what reason can you give them?"
"I'm not gonna give them a reason. I promised you and that's sufficient. The Committee isn't entitled to an explanation."
"Clark you always try to help those less fortunate even if the manner of helping isn't in your own best interests. The kids need the Coates Orphanage and those operating costs have to be funded annually."
"I'll just have to find an alternate source for the money."
"The auction was a huge financial success, one hundred thousand dollars is a lot of money."
"I know but somehow I'll find a way."
They lapsed into silence. Clark was afraid Lois was upset again because he had to go to this final function. Instead she was thinking about the date itself. Clark had been the perfect gentleman, kind and attentive. She couldn't help thinking ruefully that he had assuredly acted much as he had when he was being Superman to an infatuated Lois Lane.
The Kryptonite in the chocolate icing incapacitated Superman enough so that Arianna Carlin was able to kidnap him. That Jack Marshall had no idea of Arianna's real motive in no way absolved him of guilt. He'd been a party to the kidnapping and attempted murder of the Man of Steel. **What about Tiffany? ** Lois wondered.
Clark could never hurt anyone willingly no matter how much they hurt him. He might never strike back at Tiffany and her family but Lois would. Moreover, if her plan for revenge worked, it would ensure future funding for the Coates Orphanage without the need for Superman to participate in any more charity auctions.
Lois broke the silence. It was time to put that plan into action. "Clark, I've been thinking. I'm gonna attend the Ceremony. I'll ask Perry for a place in the Daily Planet's contingent."
"Lois, you don't have to come. I swear to you there won't be any more auctions." Clark couldn't help worrying that she was still disturbed about the date. After all, she'd stayed angry with him for three weeks when she first found out about it.
"I know that and I believe that you'll keep your word," Lois assured him knowing exactly what he would think. She paused a moment, carefully choosing her words. "Clark, can Superman arrange a private interview for me with Tiffany Marshall? Surely she'll agree to do that for you."
Clark saw that gleam in her eye again. "Lois, what are you up to?"
"Trust me, Clark." Lois's plan was important to both of them. It had to work.
"Always, Lois," Clark affirmed fervently.
**How I love this man** Lois thought. **He always supports me no matter how crazy some of the things I do seem**
"Lois you should know that Tiffany is a sweet, honest girl. I can't believe she knew about the Kryptonite."
"I still need to talk to her. I want the interview to be held in a private room, just before the ceremony. And you are not to listen in, Mr. Super Hearing. Understand?"
"Okay," he agreed somewhat reluctantly.
"Clark, there's one more thing. Let's not tell anyone about our engagement until Thursday. I'd like to have this whole date thing over with first."
Clark was shocked into silence. He'd wanted to tell everyone. He was also getting a bit nervous. Was she having second thoughts? What if she tells him Wednesday that she's changed her mind? Women did that, he'd been told. He didn't think he could survive having his happiness pulled out from under him like a cheap rug again. **Still,** he consoled himself, **she's not breaking the engagement just delaying the announcement.** Since he didn't want to jeopardize their current rapport, Clark was forced to agree to Lois's plan.
The Check Ceremony was scheduled for 8:00pm in the Grand Ballroom of the former Lexor hotel, now the Metropolis Palace. Immediately after the Ceremony, there was to be a dance with all gate proceeds going to Charity. To the delight of Jack Marshall, most of Metropolis's upper class was expected to attend both the ceremony and the subsequent dance. At Superman's request, the committee asked Tiffany Marshall to be there before 7:30; he had a favor to ask of her. Of course not even the Marshalls could deny a request by the world's Superman, so Tiffany obliged.
Wednesday night, the front of the Metropolis Palace was bathed in floodlights as the city's elite pulled up in front of the entrance in limousines and got out dressed in rich apparel. The huge ballroom was aglitter as it filled up with members of the press and the well to do. Tiffany came in at 7:15, accompanied by her parents.
Superman, who had arrived earlier, stood as quietly and unobtrusively as it was possible for Metropolis's resident Superhero to do next to the committee members. He took Tiffany aside and whispered his request.
"Superman if you ask, of course I'll give Lois Lane the interview," Tiffany responded quietly.
"Thank you, Tiffany. Lois Lane and her husband to be, Clark Kent, are close friends of mine."
**Superman has friends? ** Tiffany thought. Even during their date, a concept like that never crossed Tiffany's mind. Superman had been attentive and kind but remote. While she'd known the tabloids were always speculating about the special relationship between Superman and Lois Lane, this was the first time he'd verbally acknowledged the relationship, at least in Tiffany's hearing. Now she wondered if he felt human emotions such as loneliness.
Lois was waiting in a small, soundproof private room behind the podium. Superman escorted Tiffany there and left the two alone, sealing the door behind him. When they wanted to leave, Lois was to knock three times on the door slowly followed by six times rapidly. A guard would be standing outside the room, listening for the signal and would notify Superman who would release Lois and Tiffany Marshall. That way Superman could keep his promise not to use his Super Hearing while Lois met with Tiffany.
For a moment, Lois just gazed at the woman who had been Clark's date. No longer jealous, Lois now knew that Clark loved her and she was what he wanted and needed.
Lois had watched Tiffany closely the night of the young woman's date with Superman, but she didn't really know the girl, no one could from so public a date. She hoped that Tiffany had been unaware of the evil plot against her dinner companion, because her plan depended entirely on convincing Tiffany that the wrong her father perpetrated on Superman should be made right.
Without warning, Lois rounded on Tiffany. "With everything you've been given, how could you treat Superman the way you did on your date?" She asked angrily. "What did he do to deserve the treatment he received at your hands? Superman gives so much to all of us, to the entire world without asking anything in return, and you participate in an evil plot to disable, kidnap, and attempt to kill him."
Tiffany just stared at her. "I thought this was an interview. Superman said it was an interview."
"Yeah, well, I really have no interest in what you have to say and when I'm finished with you, neither will anyone else. The power of the press, Ms. Marshall, you're about to find out it can be used to destroy the social standing of your entire family."
"Miss Lane I have no idea what you're talking about?"
"I'm talking about the Kryptonite that was hidden in the chocolate dessert, the dessert that your father supplied. It incapacitated Superman so he could be abducted when he left your townhouse Friday night."
"Abducted, Superman was abducted?" Tiffany asked, staring blankly at Lois. Then she looked at Lois suspiciously. "How would you know about something like that?"
Fortunately Lois didn't have to admit to being across the street in her jeep during the kidnapping. "Clark Kent, my fianc‚e, is a very close friend of Superman, possibly even his closest friend. When Superman was able to escape from his captors, he stayed at Clark's apartment until the effects of the Kryptonite wore off."
It looked like the girl had not been aware of her father's scheme. "Tiffany," Lois said gently, "I think your father was told to arrange the date with Superman by Arianna Carlin. Arianna hates Superman, but I have no idea what your father's motivation was."
"Daddy always read her column when I was growing up, but I thought she was in jail," said a clearly puzzled Tiffany.
"Someone, probably from Intergang, arranged for Arianna's escape. Your father let Arianna furnish a special icing for the cake, an icing which contained ground Kryptonite."
"Oh no! How could daddy do that? Miss Lane, please, tell Superman I knew nothing about the icing, much less that it contained Kryptonite. I would never have let him eat it if I'd known." She began to cry.
Certain now that the girl was innocent, Lois soothed, "Superman assured Clark that your father had no idea there was anything in the icing. He certainly wasn't a party to the abduction." But Tiffany knew her father, whether he knew about the whole plot or not, had been instrumental in making sure that Superman ate the potentially lethal dessert.
Brushing away her tears, Tiffany told Lois, "Superman was so kind and such a gentleman. You know when you're as rich as I am most men have an agenda, a goal when they date you. After the press left us alone, Superman just let me talk and he listened. It was such a relief to spend a couple of hours with someone who had no designs on me. I don't know — it just seemed to work."
"Yeah," Lois said softly, "I know." **Oh Clark I love you so much. I don't know how I'll survive if you ever stop loving me. **
"Nothing — never mind. Please go on."
"I guess I kind of cried on Superman's shoulder if you know what I mean. Miss Lane, it's so hard always being on display. I should be used to it by now, but sometimes I want some privacy to just be me. I told Superman about Jim, my boyfriend. Superman never complained about me talking about another man like a lot of guys would. He was so sympathetic."
Lois had a sudden thought. "Tiffany, didn't your boyfriend watch the televised date along with everyone else?"
To Lois's startled question, Tiffany laughed. "No. Jim has no idea I'm related to the rich and powerful Jack Marshall. We met at an environmental conference at school. All Jim knows is that I'm a student at Met U and that's the way I want it Ms. Lane. Jim loves me for myself not for my money."
"Tiffany, what's Jim's last name?" Mad Dog Lane asked following the scent.
"Richards," Tiffany replied dreamily.
Now Lois understood why Arianna Carlin had kidnapped the other man and why she'd referred to his planned death as 'a bonus for Jack Marshall.' She understood too what Jack Marshall's motive was for getting involved in Arianna's plot. *Clark must have realized what the connection was. That's why he stared at Jim so intently. Even under the influence of Kryptonite my Clark would've risked his life if it had come to that to save Jim or any other innocent person.*
She was furious with Jack Marshall. *There's no excuse for him to be involved in the plot against Superman.* Lois thought. She decided, however, not to mention the abduction of Jim Richards to Tiffany. Jim could tell her if he chose to do so.
"Miss Lane," Tiffany interrupted Lois's musing. "Superman is wonderful but he's not human, not a real person like Jim. The whole time on the date he seemed remote, alien, almost not real. He never tried to get close. I doubt he ever will with an Earth woman."
Ironically, her words reminded Lois of how most people thought of Clark — her Clark. **Oh Tiffany if you only knew! Superman is as 'human' as the rest of us. I don't know why he chose me out of all the women on Earth but I love him and I intend to be whatever he needs for as long as I'm able. ** Lois thought.
Getting on with the business at hand, Lois confided, "When Superman realized it was the food that had affected him, he was hurt. Most people think he's invulnerable, but as Clark once wrote 'I [we] don't think so.' Clark and I have seen Superman suffer too many times from what people say and do, whether it's part of a deliberate plot against him or just something thoughtless or cruel that someone says. He may be invincible to physical attack but I can assure you he feels emotional pain just like you and me."
Lois was silent for a minute, allowing Tiffany to process the information that Tiffany's own father had been a party, however unwitting, to a plot against Superman, then she solicited Tiffany's help with her plan. "Look, Tiffany, would you like to do something for Superman to make up for your father's part in the conspiracy?"
"Oh, yes, Miss Lane. But what can we do?"
**Good, ** thought Lois, **Now I have the ally I need to put my plan into action. ** "You don't know it yet, but Superman has decided he won't participate in future charity auctions. He's gonna announce it tonight. He told me he wants to find an alternate source of funding for the Coates Orphanage and other needy organizations.
I hate to say it but Superman is a little naive. He never takes any money for personal service like that short-term superhero 'Resplendent Man' did a year ago. Superman would never do anything like… oh use his powers to manufacture diamonds and sell them. He thinks it's unethical — he's a regular Boy Scout that way."
"Sounds like he could use a keeper," Tiffany giggled.
"Maybe. Clark and I do our best — ** and Martha and Jonathan too ** — to make sure he gets the rest he needs and eats right and isn't flying around in suits with holes in them. Sometimes it feels like a full-time job." Lois sighed. "But he's worth it you know — he's so caring and he gives so much to all of us. I can't even count the number of times he saved my life in the past two years. The first time I saw him, he saved the space transport and all those colonists aboard." Actually she had known him for a few weeks before he appeared wearing the suit but Tiffany could not know that.
"You were on the space transport?"
"Well I was when he 'ate' the bomb. But EPRAD wouldn't let me go up when he gave it a 'boost' into orbit. I was pretty dazzled by him, I can tell you."
"I heard you had a huge crush on him." Tiffany giggled again.
**Clark was right. She really is a sweet, honest girl. I'm really enjoying talking to her. Too bad I'm gonna have to avoid her after this is all over, but she's too smart a girl not to figure out Clark is Superman if she spends any amount of time with him. ** Lois realized she was no longer hurt because she hadn't guessed Clark's secret earlier. **I'm the one who was blinded by love where Clark is concerned. Oh my love, my Clark, you fill my life with joy and laughter and love. **
"I did," Lois admitted, "But I'm over it now. I have Clark Kent my partner at the Daily Planet."
"Lois — can I call you Lois? I think Superman is very lucky to have a good friend like you and I'll be glad to help you get even with my dad. He used me too," Tiffany finished angrily.
"Well, I think we can kill two birds with one stone — solve Superman's charity funding problem and hit your dad where it hurts — in the pocketbook."
Lois told Tiffany her plan and the girl's immediate response was, "That's a wonderful idea. I'll bring mother in on it. She hasn't been happy with the way Daddy's been using me lately. She likes my boyfriend Jim too. He's an environmental lawyer, but daddy thinks that's not good enough for me. He's afraid I'll marry Jim and his tool for advancing in Metropolis Society will be lost. In two years I'll be of age and I intend to marry whomever I please."
*So,* Lois thought, *You do understand your father's reasons for being involved in the plot against Superman.*
They discussed the implementation of the plan until Tiffany knew what to do and when. Then Lois knocked on the door. Superman came promptly and escorted both of them back to the Ballroom.
As the Check Ceremony began, Lois joined a group of TV newscasters. Too short to see over them, her view was blocked until one of the newsmen noticed her. "Hey, that's Lois Lane, Superman's girlfriend." A path to the front was immediately cleared. Lois sighed. **So much for Clark's plan to distance Superman from me. ** Still she wasn't averse to taking advantage of the situation.
Clark was standing at the podium flanked by the woman who had conducted the Superman auction and Jack Marshall. Seated behind him were others who Lois assumed were from the Coates Orphanage Board and the Charity Committee. Tiffany was seated a little to the side with a woman who looked so much like her, she had to be Betty Marshall.
As Lois watched Superman, she thought about what Tiffany had said. *Yes he does look 'remote, alien, distant, almost unreal.'* To everyone else in the room, he was clearly an extraterrestrial who wasn't a part of their world. *I wonder,* Lois thought *how many of them see a being who owes little or no allegiance to the Earth, only staying and helping them by his choice, a choice which can be changed at any time? How many of them actually hate and fear the 'alien' Superman?*
Lois saw a man — a sexually attractive man — and, recalling their lovemaking over the last few days, was almost overcome by desire. Clark glanced her way and she saw that similar emotions were affecting him. *I'd better put an end to this or tomorrow's headline in the Star is gonna read, Superman and his girlfriend seen together at charity auction.* Not wanting him to be upset, Lois sent Clark a look of passion. Then she deliberately turned away.
The exchange was so swift that no one noticed it except Tiffany Marshall who had the only full view of both Superman and Lois Lane in the room. Puzzling over it for a moment, she was quickly distracted when the Check Ceremony began. She turned her attention to what Superman was saying. She had an important part in these proceedings and didn't want to mess up her 'lines.'
Superman began the ceremony by thanking everyone for coming. He explained that Tiffany Marshall had bid the unheard of amount of $100,000 for dinner, dancing and a slow flight into the night air with Superman. He expressed his appreciation for his date's sweetness and poise. She had acted with dignity beyond her years even under the scrutiny of the world press.
With a sardonic smile, he turned to Tiffany and suggested that she feast on somewhat less potent desserts on her future dates as the effect of the chocolate one lasted long after the date was over. "On reflection," Superman suggested, "You might choose a different one to share with your next dinner partner. Personally I didn't particularly enjoy that one."
Tiffany blushed prettily, as one of the newscasters broke in and asked what it was about the dessert that Superman disliked. Superman declined to comment further. Lois alone knew how gently he was handling Tiffany and her family.
All during this exchange, Jack Marshall kept looking back and forth anxiously from Superman to his daughter. **Does he know? Does Tiffany know? I told that chef and the maid my daughter wasn't to know what was in the dessert and what happened after Superman left. **
The maid who had escorted Superman to the door came to him in hysterics. Afraid to alarm his wife and daughter, he took her into the den and calmed her down. He was horrified at the tale she told. Superman had been overpowered by six men with a net and driven away in a van.
*Superman abducted?* He thought. *How could that have happened? The icing, it must have been laced with Kryptonite, the only substance known to affect the Man of Steel's powers. Arianna Carlin — she was behind it and I was her patsy.*
Both the maid and the chef had been sworn to secrecy and their employer prayed that Superman would be able to escape his captors. *This isn't what I wanted. I had nothing to do with it! But if Superman dies and I'm linked to it, I'm finished.*
After a full day and a half of anxiously scanning the newspapers and TV, he almost fainted with relief when, early Sunday morning, there were reports of Superman patrolling the skies of Metropolis and stopping an unusually large number of petty thefts and other small crimes.
"I'd like to thank Tiffany for the pleasure of her company and her father for the generous donation," Superman was saying.
*Well at least he doesn't seem to be retaliating,* Jack Marshall thought. *He probably just found the Kryptonite in the icing a bit debilitating. Yeah, the Man of Steel was only affected for a few minutes. After all he did get away.* Jack conveniently chose to forget about the day and a half that Superman had been missing, but he was still nervous. All of a sudden none of it seemed like such a good idea and Jack felt something he had not felt in quite a while — guilt.
"Before I close," Superman added, "I'd like to pass on to Mr. Marshall a bit of advice about the raising of children. This is from a close personal friend, a father himself. 'Children,' he told me, 'are ours to enjoy, to teach, and to protect until they are old enough to make their own decisions.'" Clark's voice became audibly hard as steel to everyone in the room. "They are not to be exploited for our own personal gains or used as pawns in plots and schemes no matter what end result is intended."
And Jack Marshall knew that Superman was fully cognoscente of the special nature of the dessert he consumed during dinner with Jack's daughter.
"This father gave me one more piece of advice. When one's only daughter expresses an interest in a member of the opposite sex, a wise father welcomes that person into his heart. If he does not, he may someday find himself without the daughter in his life."
Lois was astonished at how deftly Clark delivered both a severe reprimand and needed advice to a man of Jack Marshall's power and influence. *How wonderful and wise Clark is. He is super in ways that go beyond the powers that he was born with.*
Clark turned the microphone over to Jack Marshall who was desperately trying to absorb what had been said. Trying to regain his composure, Jack thanked Superman in a somewhat strangled voice for being such a pleasant date for his daughter. He turned and smiled at his child, but Superman didn't even look at Tiffany. Jack knew he'd gotten all the social advancement he was going to get out of the Superman date, so without further ado, he presented the check to Superman, hoping this event would soon be finished.
Superman immediately endorsed the check payable to the Charity Committee and turned it over to Ms. Hopkins who accepted it for the Committee, the Orphanage and the Children living there to whom the money would ultimately go.
After thanking Superman, the Marshall family and everyone else who had participated, Ms. Hopkins expressed the Committee's satisfaction with the size of the donation and her hope that next year's auction would be as monetarily rewarding as the previous ones had been.
Superman interrupted her gently and said softly, "There will be no future auctions or dates with Superman." The entire room fell silent.
Ms. Hopkins and the other representatives of the Charity and the Orphanage were clearly upset. "But Superman, the Coates Orphanage needs that money to keep going. What possible reason could you have to decline?"
Clark sighed regretfully. People on or near enough to the podium to hear were amazed — Superman expressing a human emotion? "My reasons are personal, Ms. Hopkins and I prefer not to divulge them. I promise I will try to raise the money the Orphanage requires by any ethical and legal method that does not involve selling myself." Clark's calm voice was in sharp contrast to the last two words he had spoken.
Lois Lane, watching closely from the press group, bitterly rued the fact that she had hurt Clark over so a trivial matter as the auction and date had turned out to be. How could she have blamed the man she loved for agreeing to something that would supply the funding that the Coates Orphanage needed so desperately? *Well that funding need is about to be taken care of and without any future participation by Superman,* Lois thought angrily. *Ms. Hopkins, that was the last charity auction Superman will participate in. I will never allow Clark to be humiliated like that again, not for any amount of money. No charity has that right.*
As if on cue, Tiffany Marshall asked, "Superman, may I speak?"
"Of course, Miss Marshall." Clark gratefully relinquished the podium.
Walking up poised and regal, Tiffany looked almost beautiful. "Ladies and gentlemen, representatives of the Charity and the Orphanage, members of the press and special guests, I have an announcement to make. My family and I were very impressed by the exemplary way Superman conducted himself during the auction and our subsequent date. It was, as my father pointed out, a great pleasure. For me personally it was also an enlightening experience."
She turned toward Superman. "You taught me much about grace, kindness, and above all showed me a generosity of spirit which doesn't take revenge for injuries suffered, but rather put its energies into more productive deeds. I won't soon forget. Thank you." Standing on her tiptoes, she kissed him lightly on the cheek as camera bulbs flashed all over the room. Superman didn't move, blushing now as furiously as Tiffany had earlier. Turning back to the podium, Tiffany continued. "In consideration of those lessons about the true meaning of charity worth much more than a mere $100,000, I pledge to the Coates Orphanage on behalf of my father, my mother and myself an additional $100,000 a year for the next ten years."
Pandemonium broke out in the room. Jack Marshall was shocked. His daughter had somehow learned about the Kryptonite in the dessert. **How? Someone must have told her but who? **
Clark knew exactly who'd given Tiffany the information. She'd also probably devised the plan to fund the Coates Orphanage in lieu of future Superman auctions. *Lois, you and I have a lot to talk about.*
Tiffany went on to elaborate, "To maximize the contribution, my mother and I have decided the full sum of one million dollars will be placed in a charitable trust to be administered by Mother. This should generate more than the needed $100,000 annually. Additional yearly earnings and untouched principal will be retained by the trust for use after the expiration of the ten year period."
At that point, Betty Marshall, an elegantly dressed woman in her late forties, joined her daughter. "Superman," Betty Marshall said in a voice as elegant as the rest of her, "I cannot thank you enough for all you did for my daughter. Please consider this gift a small token of appreciation from two very grateful parents."
*But,* thought Clark, *A good part of that gratitude by rights should go to Lois.* And once again he thanked the powers which had brought her into his life, his wonderful Lois.
Jack Marshall, beset as he was by a united wife and daughter, and in full view of the media, nodded his somewhat less than enthusiastic agreement. He could well afford the generous donation especially with the tax break he would get, but he'd had other plans for his money. He was to find out subsequently that the generosity of his gift went a long way toward his goal of becoming a respected member of the Metropolis upper class. Years afterward he only smiled contentedly when someone mentioned the last Superman date auction.
Miss Hopkins was thrilled at this turn of events, although she confessed she had no idea why Superman would want to abandon such an enjoyable way to raise money for charity. However in accordance with Superman's wishes and in view of the generosity of the Marshall family, the Committee agreed that there would be no future auctions involving a date with Superman. *Miss Hopkins you are clueless,* Clark thought along with the more astute members of the press.
Lois couldn't help but notice that all the men in the room actually looked relieved at the prospect while the women looked disappointed. *Let them be. Clark is mine. I will not share him, even for a single night, for charity.* She did feel a bit guilty though, until Clark's eyes sought her out and he gave her a look of loving gratitude.
"Well," Miss Hopkins continued brightly, "Now that that's been settled, let's all enjoy a little socializing. We have food and drink and music to dance to. Superman we hope you will be able to join us."
Clark agreed, hoping the social get-together would afford him the opportunity to have a few words with Lois, but that was not so easy. First some members of the press collared him asking for an elaboration on his reason for declining future charity auctions. Clark reiterated that they were personal and refused to go into them.
Next Tiffany Marshall came over for a brief conversation. She confided happily that daddy had issued an invitation to her boyfriend to join the family for dinner at their town home a week from Saturday. Once again she assured him, this time privately, that the donation to charity was a small sum to pay for everything he had done for her. Dropping her voice, she apologized for the special dessert and swore she had had no idea what ingredient had been in it.
Anxious to talk to Lois and once again as free as Superman could be in public, Clark scanned the room and located her. He excused himself and headed over to meet her while Lois came toward him from the opposite side of the room. Making certain no one was in hearing distance he began. "Lois I want to thank you for persuading Tiffany and her mother to fund the Coates Orphanage for the next 10 years."
"What makes you think it was my idea?"
"Ok, it was my idea, but the amount of the funding was the decision of Tiffany and her mother. Clark, I will never again allow you to be sold like that no matter how lucrative it is." Lois was still angry, but they had no opportunity to discuss the matter further because Clark's hearing chose that moment to kick in with the sound of fire engines heading toward the Hobbs Bay area. Torn as ever between his desire to be with the woman he loved and his duty, Clark's eyes beseeched Lois for permission to leave. She gave him a broad smile and a quick flying hand signal and noted his relief. "We'll talk later. Come to my apartment when you're finished," she whispered.
Clark went over to Tiffany, who was standing in a group with Ms. Hopkins and several other Charity Committee members, and informed them he was needed elsewhere. He was out the window and on his way in moments. But Tiffany had been watching Lois and Superman surreptitiously and had seen the hand signal. *What was that about? It was almost as if he was asking her permission to leave.* "Miss Lane," Tiffany called out beckoning. "Over here."
When Lois joined them, Miss Hopkins gushed. "Yes, Miss Lane, please join us. Tiffany has told us the funding plan was yours. I can't tell you how grateful we all are. Hasn't this been a wonderful day?" Hard pressed not to punch her, Lois settled for polite conversation, conducted in a cold distant tone of voice.
Lois's attitude to the Charity Committee was apparent to Tiffany Marshall even if Ms. Hopkins was still clueless. This was worse than when Lois had taken Tiffany to task in the interview. Then Lois had been willing to listen to Tiffany's side of the story, but the Committee had already been judged and found guilty by Lois Lane. *I wonder what they did to Superman?* Tiffany asked herself. *No Matter, Superman has had dealings with them for the last time.* And she knew that Superman's decision not to participate in future auctions had been at Lois Lane's request.
After about fifteen minutes, Lois excused herself and left the ballroom. Without Clark in attendance the whole thing no longer held any interest for her. She wanted nothing more than to return to her apartment and wait for Superman to return home.
Tiffany continued her silent speculation. *What is Lois Lane's relationship with the Man of Steel? She told me she no longer has a crush on Superman, that she has Clark Kent. He's the one she's marrying. But this thing between Lois and Superman is much more than a casual friendship.* In her mind's eye, she saw again the look that had passed between Superman and Lois just before the Check Ceremony began. It had been an intimate exchange between lovers, a silent confirmation of love shared. Then she had it. *Clark Kent is Superman and Lois Lane loves him.*
She remembered Lois taking her to task for being part of a plot against Superman. And it was Lois's idea that relieved him from participating in future date auctions for the Coates Orphanage. Tiffany knew from Superman's use of the words 'selling myself' how much he hated the auction despite how appropriately he had conducted himself in her presence. And Tiffany had read enough between the lines of the Daily Planet over the past few years to know that Lois actively assisted the Man of Steel in his fight against injustice.
Lois had told her that Superman was not invulnerable to emotional hurt, now Tiffany knew that too. Today Lois had protected Superman from that pain. Tiffany smiled. Lois loved him, protected him, and Tiffany was sure she comforted him when he needed comforting. Tiffany had been wrong when she said Superman would probably never love an Earth woman. He had found Lois, perhaps the only woman in the world who loved him in spite of his alien nature. She was happy for him and for Lois as well. And she, Tiffany, owed both of them a great deal. She would keep their secret she knew, smiling to herself at her secret knowledge.
As she waited for a taxi, Lois looked up at the night sky and saw Superman conveying water. **Must be a pretty big fire somewhere, ** She mused. "Be careful up there, big fellow," she whispered as she had so many times in the past, even before she knew it was Clark flying overhead. *Come home safely to me, my love, my Clark,* she finished silently.
When Lois arrived back at her apartment, she wrote up the Check Ceremony and LANed it to the Daily Planet. Then she made a pot of coffee and sat down in front of the TV to wait for Clark. She thought about watching a 'Lethal Weapon' video but remembered that viewing it alone had been nowhere near as enjoyable as watching with Clark. *I've got it bad,* She thought turning off the set.
Her thoughts turned to the last few weeks and her mind wandered even further back. Clark had been afraid to tell her he was Superman and so relieved when she finally found out on her own. Lois quickly got over her hurt and anger, although Clark must have expected her to be upset far longer than she had been. But Lois understood the need to hide who he really was. Whether being Superman or Clark Kent, he couldn't afford to let humans get too close to him. His body heat was a dead give-away to his alien nature so he was forced to isolate himself from others. His friendships were superficial, casual without the camaraderie and intimacy 'normal' human beings shared.
As a child Clark's isolation probably hadn't been bad, raised by loving parents, different but most of those differences not yet manifest. It would have gotten harder as he grew up. Adolescence, painful enough for normal human males, must have been almost unbearable for Clark. His body changing and his alien powers becoming evident, he would have had to distance himself for his own protection, forced to separate from his peers at the very time he was yearning for close bonds with other young men. She doubted he had had many close relationships with the opposite sex. The risk would've been too great. By the time he became an adult, his need to hide so much of himself was paramount.
His dealings with coworkers at the Planet had been friendly. Cat had thrown herself at him. Unlike Lois, she'd gladly have settled for the mild-mannered reporter in place of the Superhero. Clark had deftly sidestepped her advances — at least once he became familiar with her techniques, Lois thought ironically. Mayson Drake, too, had never gotten beyond the occasional luncheon. Of course, as long as Mayson disliked Superman, Clark could never allow himself to become intimate with her no matter how attracted to her he may have been.
Lois smiled — finally she knew where he had been when he stood Drake up. Mayson invited him to spend the weekend in her cabin but Clark had been in Lois's apartment temporarily blinded by a device invented by Dr. Neil Faraday. Guiltily she realized that in the end, she, the woman Superman finally reached out to for love, had rejected him over a triviality. *Well that's all in the past,* She reminded herself. She knew his secret and would be able to supply the closeness that both Clark and Superman craved.
Lois's adolescence and early relationships seemed eerily similar to Clark's although the cause was more mundane. A father who wanted sons, not daughters, and was a perfectionist, never satisfied with that daughter's achievements, along with a painful parental divorce at a critical point in her life had made her 'different.' She too had few close friendships growing up and her sexual relationships had all been 'federal disasters.' Perhaps those trying times had given her the knowledge to cope with Clark's isolation. She hoped so with all her heart because *I need Clark every bit as much as he needs me.*
There was still a lot for them to work out but they were together again. Engaged at last, they had assured each other of their mutual love. **My fianc‚e, ** she thought, smiling as she looked at the ring which she had placed on her finger when she left the Check Ceremony. Unable to remain awake any longer, she fell asleep on the couch.
When she woke up, the living room clock read one but Clark still wasn't back. Had she missed him? No, she knew he hadn't yet returned. *Well if he does come by and sees the apartment dark, he'll probably go straight back to his own apartment — he's just too polite.* She moved around turning on the lamps in the room. *We should talk. I'd better make some tea.* Somehow she was certain he would be there shortly.
She set the kettle to boil in the kitchen and got out crackers and jam for a late night snack. She'd just set the tea to steep and gone into the living room to wait when she heard a whoosh at the window. Superman floated in and said shyly, "Hi."
*My Boy Scout,* Lois thought. "Would you like some tea and crackers? We can talk. That is if everything is okay."
"Yeah, I'd like that — a lot." Superman spun into jeans and a tee shirt and Clark Kent sat down on the sofa.
"You wait here. I'll be right back." Lois went into the kitchen and got the teapot, cups and saucers, sugar and milk and the crackers and jam. She arranged everything on a serving tray and took it into the living room. She placed the tray on the coffee table in front of Clark, fixed each of them a cup of tea and offered him crackers and jam.
"Everything went pretty well," Clark volunteered. "It just took a while to put out the fire."
"Yeah, I saw you carrying water over the city."
"There weren't many people working there at that hour and those who were got out in plenty of time." He paused and Lois sensed there was something else he wanted to tell her.
"I rescued a stray kitten. One of the firefighters is taking it home to her children."
"Oh, that's good." *That isn't it.*
After sipping tea quietly for a few more minutes, he said sadly, "The factory owner was difficult. He blamed the firefighters for getting there too late to save his building. He threatened to sue the city saying Superman had no official reason to be there. He thinks the firefighters would have stopped the fire quicker if they hadn't waited for his — for my help."
Lois was appalled. "How dare he?" She sputtered.
"Lois," he soothed, "Its all right. He'll probably forget all about it by tomorrow." But Lois could tell he was really worried.
"Forget about it? How can people be so ungrateful? I can't believe anyone would do such a thing. Everyone knows you would never… " Lois stopped abruptly. She thought about the 'calm and rational discussion' she and Clark had at her apartment. She'd told him in effect that he was just like so many of the men in her life and attributed similar actions to him with even less justification than the building owner had. And she knew Superman infinitely better.
Unable to tolerate the thought that what she'd said was unforgivable, she instinctively pulled away. "Clark," she began sadly, "We need to discuss what happened three weeks ago."
Clark watched her with growing unease. He remembered that Lois hadn't wanted anyone at the Daily Planet to know of the engagement. *Is she trying to tell me it's over between us?* "I thought that was over. I said I was sorry for forgetting about the auction. You said you were sorry for the things you said at your apartment. You told me you love me; you're wearing my ring. I don't understand," he wailed.
He stood up and walked to the other side of the room desperately trying to regain control. Finally, in a barely audible voice, he said, "Lois are you sorry you agreed to marry me? You don't have to—if you changed your mind." He turned his face away from her. "If you still don't trust me—or if you just can't care for someone who isn't human, I'll understand. Lois, you can tell me if you don't—love me any more." On that last part, Clark's voice dropped so low Lois had to strain to understand him.
Lois was confused. *What is Clark talking about?* She couldn't understand the panic in his voice. But when she heard that last part, she jumped up from the couch and ran across the room. She tripped over the coffee table, spilling the scalding hot tea and would have been badly burned if Clark had not used super speed to catch her and move her out of the way.
"Lois, I'm sorry. The tea and crackers are all over the rug."
Lois did not care. She threw her arms around her lover and kissed him. Only then did she realize that he was crying. "No-oh no, Clark. I love you with all my heart. And I do trust you. I don't care where you're originally from or whether you're human, you're you and I want to marry you."
Grateful, Clark took her into his arms and held her tightly, his tears ceasing. Lois pulled her lover toward the couch, sat him down and perched next to him. She caressed his wet cheeks, carefully rubbing away the streaks that the sobs had left behind.
"Lois," Clark choked out, "Are you sure? I mean… "
Stopping his words with a kiss, Lois said, "Yes, Clark, I'm sure — sure that I love you and sure that I want to spend the rest of my life with you." Holding him tight, Lois explained quietly, "Clark, marriage is not an end, it's only a beginning. 'They lived happily after is a myth.' I should know. My parents — their wedding picture — you can see how much in love they were — but look how that turned out.
You and I will have to resolve many difficulties if our love — our marriage — is to survive. Because, my darling, you are Superman that will be harder on me than most people, but Clark you're worth it no matter how hard it becomes. I think the events in my life that made me who I am, are the very ones that make me strong enough to love you." She shook her head and said — the irony in her voice obvious — "They also made me a hard person to love. I fly off the handle and say things that I later regret. I'll try to control those tendencies but I don't know if I'll always be able to."
"Lois, I'm not perfect — Superman is supposed to be, but I'm not — and that will cause problems too. I promise to try to work things out. I love you and I know I'll never love another."
"Then let's clean up this mess. I still want to talk about the Superman auction and date. We need to understand what went wrong so that something like that won't happen again."
After they had put away the tea things, Lois suggested that Clark stay overnight. "I don't know how long we'll be able to talk. You need to rest after the fire and we are due at work in less than…" She checked the clock. "Six hours." They decided to get ready for sleep and continue their conversation in bed. "I understand problems just seem to solve themselves in bed," Lois smirked. Clark just grinned, happy once again.
A short while later, they lay together in Lois's big bed, Clark's arms firmly around his love, making her feel secure and protected. "I was afraid you'd forget about me," Lois admitted her voice trembling. Clark smiled inwardly. She'd told him that very same thing during the first date auction. He hadn't been able to reassure her then; it was too early in their relationship for him to acknowledge his feelings for her although he'd known he loved her from the first moment he saw her in Perry White's office. Now he could and did! "You're my soulmate Lois. No matter where I am, no matter what I do, I will never forget you."
But Lois wasn't reassured. She looked away unable to meet Clark's eyes and whispered, "I was afraid that you wouldn't … " — she used the words he had used earlier — "love me any more."
*Where was his assertive, self-assured Lois, the woman he not only loved, but admired?* Clark wondered. *The woman who told him belligerently that she lived by three rules and had broken every one of them tearfully one minute then turned around and threatened his life if he breathed a word of what she'd said in the next. What had upset her so much?*
Lois snuggled close, hid her face against his chest and began talking so low that he had to use his super hearing to make out what she was saying. "About the auction and date, Clark, I did a-a terrible thing. I was so upset I followed you and Tiffany around all night, practically stalking you." And with that confession, Lois cried bitterly, her fears of the past month finally acknowledged.
Clark was anything but upset. Instead he was elated to learn the love of his life cared so much about him even while they were at odds. She'd never given up on him, on them and in the end because of that she saved Superman's life again.
Hastening to comfort her, he pointed out, "Following me around for one evening does not constitute stalking, Lois." Before Lois could open her mouth to argue, he continued. "Lois, *I* know what real stalking feels like.
"Actually," he added, grinning in an attempt to put her further at ease, "It's almost inconceivable that you could follow me without my noticing. I must have been pretty upset too. But," he assured her, "even then it wouldn't have been stalking. Perhaps I'd have felt annoyance, even mild anger, but not the terror that stalking engenders."
"Oh right! An invulnerable Superman would experience terror. As if anyone would believe that."
"Invulnerability has nothing to do with it, Lois. Diana Stride stalked Superman to uncover his/my secrets. When her attempts failed she tried to kill me and almost succeeded. She would have if you hadn't shown up at my apartment and rescued me. Just like you did this time. So yes, just like everyone else, Superman does feel fear — the fear of being exposed, the fear of being killed and most of all the fear of being alone, without someone to love and be loved by."
Lois had stopped sobbing and was listening intently, still not completely convinced, so Clark knew he'd have to tell her the one thing that would purge that last bit of guilt. "If you're guilty of stalking me," he said, "then I'm guilty of stalking you and at a time when there was far less justification for my actions."
"Clark, what are you talking about?" an astonished Lois asked.
"Remember when I'd just started working at the Daily Planet and we went to Lex Luthor's White Orchard ball? You said you were gonna land the first one on one interview with Luthor."
"And I did," she responded. But even after all this time she had no intention of telling Clark how little she'd learned about the mysterious billionaire during the 'this is business' dinner date at Lex's mansion. *Not after Kent had asked her how far she'd go to get an interview — an insulting remark that no one much less a green reporter had a right to make to Lois Lane, star investigative reporter,* she thought angrily.
Clark sighed. "I waited outside until you and Lex returned to your apartment."
"That's not stalking!"
"Neither is what you did. Anyway I flew up to your apartment and listened in on your conversation with Lucy."
"Whaaaat? How dared you?" Lois was reacting with anger instead of guilt and that was just what Clark hoped for — or was it? Was he in for a new argument about a long forgotten deed? He hoped not, but with Lois it was hard to predict.
Sullenly, he asked, "What's the difference between what I did then and what you did last week?" Conveniently he ignored the very obvious ones: That he and Lois were a couple now; that three years ago they'd just met.
"There's a big difference," Lois was about to respond, thinking about the very points Clark was conveniently forgetting. Then she realized that those differences were no longer important. They'd come a long way from the people they were that first year. Indeed she still blushed inwardly when she remembered how she'd stolen his first story.
*He'd gotten revenge by sending her on a wild goose chase to learn about Superman. Of course he didn't have to go through the Metropolis sewage plant to find out about the mysterious super hero — he was Superman.*
Regardless of the validity of Clark's reasoning in assuring her she hadn't stalked him, he had forgiven her; she could do no less. So she said decisively "No difference that matters! Clark you make mistakes like I do. But I couldn't love if you didn't. And if I can forgive Superman, I guess I can forgive you. After you're only human," she finished grinning.
Clark grinned in return as he recalled when she'd said those words after he turned in his resignation to Perry White the first year he worked for the Planet. *She didn't know then he was Superman, but she saved the Superhero — No she saved both of them, Clark as well as Superman. Because she never saw him as an alien being but only as a person — one with unbelievable powers but ultimately just the one she loved and who loved her. She was his friend, his love and soon, he hoped, his wife.* Pulling her into his arms, he assured her, "Lois, I love you and I need you, no one else. I've loved you since the first time I saw you in Perry's office," he told her.
Convinced of his love, Lois said "Clark, tell me more about the first date auction."
"I should have said no to the date auction two years ago," Clark admitted. "I didn't want to go through with it when I got there; the lights, everyone staring at me. I almost turned around and flew away."
"Why didn't you put a stop to it all, Clark? Why did you let it become an annual event?"
"Lois, when I put on the suit, all I wanted was to help people without letting anyone know it was me under the costume. Mom said 'one thing for sure no one will be looking at your face.' It was a great disguise; even fooled you."
"Only because I was blinded by love, but go on."
"What I didn't count on was everyone's reaction to Superman. Remember when Superman received the 'key to the City' award?
"Yeah, I called to you but you didn't see me. I was right in front of you."
"How could I Lois? All those people, shouting for Superman, chanting 'Superman' over and over again, selling Superman merchandise and Superman toys, and waving 'I love Superman' signs. I just wanted to get out of there." He paused remembering, his face plainly conveying his discomfort.
He sighed heavily. "I went home to talk it over with Mom and Dad. I showed them all the Superman merchandise and tried to get them to understand how much I hated it all. Mom said it was for charity and that was a good thing. I couldn't argue with that. She found all the Superman stuff cute, too.
And the committee was thrilled. $50,000 dollars was more than they had ever made in an entire auction much less from one person. I couldn't turn them down. So I told myself it wasn't a real date; it was business, for charity. Each year I agreed and each year it got worse for me and made them more money."
He blushed and Lois thought *still my shy, self-effacing Clark.*
"Dad didn't say anything. All he ever seemed to care about was whether or not 'someone was gunning for me.' The merchandising wasn't a problem for him or the public date. I guess I can't blame him. He never wanted me to use my powers openly. But I had to. I couldn't go on watching people being hurt or killed, knowing I could help, and do nothing."
*Oh Clark. Even your parents who love you can't see the hurt you hold so rigidly inside of you, the burdens you took on in becoming Superman, and the sacrifices you make for everyone.* "Hush" she murmured soothingly. "Inventing Superman was a stroke of genius, Clark. You can use your powers and still have a life of your own." Thinking clearly for the first time about the auctions and the dates, she marveled at Clark's poised handling of them. Still the most recent one had been hell for him as well as for her. She reached over to kiss away his sorrow the way she had wanted to at the auction.
"You did just fine, love."
"No, I didn't. I should have turned them down when you asked me to. I knew the auction would hurt you and my refusal would hurt even more."
"Lois," he promised, "from now on if you ask me…"
She reached over and put her fingers on his lips, stopping him. "No-no-no. That's not the way it works. You shouldn't make a decision solely because it's what I want. Clark, I didn't ask you how you felt. I didn't consider the needs of the kids at the Coates Orphanage. I just demanded that you cancel the whole thing.
Sighing she admitted, "I don't always make the right decision — like taking Mayson Drake's beeper — that was wrong. Clark, you said when one of us makes a decision the other takes responsibility for it — that's what being partners is all about. Marriage is a partnership. We are both responsible for the consequences and we should make our decisions together. After we both have a chance to discuss them. I'm not talking about helping the victims of an earthquake — those decisions are yours, Clark. You are Superman."
"Lois, a lot of the decisions I have to make as Superman are gonna affect Clark Kent and Lois Lane as well and you should have a say in them too. I promise I'll try to share those problems with you."
"Doing things together, Clark, sharing problems, trusting one another, making joint decisions, that's what marriage is about."
"That and making love."
"Speaking of making love…" Her eyes were filled with passion. Clark's body immediately responded.
"Are you sure?" he asked a bit uncertain. "It's not too soon, is it? I mean I want to but if you don't right now…"
Lois laughed and soon convinced him she was as anxious to make love as he was.
Lois got up early the next morning. She called the Breakfast Bar and ordered juice, buttered croissants and assorted sweet rolls, and a pot of coffee for two to be delivered to her apartment. Clark was still sleeping when the breakfast arrived about eight thirty, so she called the Daily Planet and left a message that she and her partner would be there about 10am.
Clark woke up 10 minutes later and heard Lois in the kitchen. Curious about what she was up to, he almost used his x-ray vision, stopping himself just in time. He settled for calling out, "Lois, what are you up to?"
"Fixing breakfast," she responded from the kitchen. That statement was greeted by silence on Clark's part. Lois chuckled. "Don't worry, I didn't cook it. I had it delivered from the Breakfast Bar. I want to eat here first before we go to work."
"Do we have the time?" Clark asked his relief evident in his voice.
"*We* are going to make time," Lois countered grinning. "I called the Planet and told them that we won't be in until 10:00. We'll join everyone at the mid-morning meeting when we get there. Now slip something on and come into the kitchen."
"Are you giving me orders, woman?" Clark asked.
"You bet I am. Let's hope we get to spend a bit of time alone before you have to run off again."
Fortunately, it was a quiet day in Metropolis. They enjoyed breakfast, then Clark proceeded to prove that, in some things, he was still in charge. It was already 9:30 by the time they finished with that bit of 'business,' so Lois went into the bathroom and showered while Clark returned to his apartment for a shower, a suit and a tie.
"Bring the Charcoal one" Lois told him.
"Lois, I had no idea you had such a bossy streak."
"Just do it, flyboy," she giggled.
Ten minutes later, Clark returned. Lois was still in the shower, so he spun out of the suit, carefully dressed and waited for Lois to emerge from the bathroom. When Lois came out, Clark's jaw dropped. He could only stare at her in wonder. Dressed in her best burgundy suit with a white silk blouse, and black pumps, she took his breath away. The only jewelry she wore was her engagement ring.
"Do you like?" she asked twirling around.
A breathless "oh, yes" was all he could manage.
"Come on then. We don't want to be late. You are driving."
"Lois, where are we going?"
"To the Daily Planet, of course."
"But … "
"Clark, a girl likes to make a proper impression on people when she announces her engagement."
"Is that what we're doing?"
Clark's face broke into a huge grin as he followed her out the door. It was really going to happen, she was going to marry him.
End of Part II Are you sure?