By Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com>
Submitted: November 2004
Summary: A female friend of Clark's makes Lois feel inadequate in every way… but does she have anything to worry about?
*This story was originally written for the fanzine raffled in October 2003 which raised money for the Fanfiction Archive. As it is now a year after initial publication, it can now be released generally.*
Lois Lane stared intently at her computer screen as if willing it to come up with the information she wanted. All she needed was a few facts to corroborate her assumptions to put the finishing touches on her latest story. Unfortunately it wasn't a page one- type article, but then, as Perry would remind her, you can't be on the front page everyday. Not a philosophy she subscribed to.
As she scrolled down a menu page on the fifth website she had accessed that morning, a cup of coffee suddenly appeared on her desk, and next to it, a chocolate covered donut. She glanced away from her computer and tilted her head to take in the smiling face of her husband.
"Thanks," she said with a grateful smile as she shifted her screen back to her current story.
"You're welcome." Clark leaned down and gave his incredible wife a quick kiss before she could bring the coffee to her lips.
There was a time when all the touching and kissing they did in the office would bring whistles and catcalls from the rest of the bullpen, but their colleagues were pretty used to it by now. Most were delighted by it. Even those few who, in the past, had a negative opinion of Lois found the new 'fulfilled' Lois Lane much more to their liking. Not that she had slowed down, or lost her drive. Far from it. She was as driven when it came to her job as ever. She just didn't feel any need to be so defensive anymore. For that, they all thanked Clark, as did she.
Lois took a break, sipped her coffee and had a bite of her donut as Clark read her story over her shoulder, as he always did. It was a practice that she was used to by now. He'd been doing it for years. At first, she had resented it. But she quickly learned to take his comments for what they were: an honest opinion presented for no other reason than to improve her story.
"You misspelled improbability; there's only one 'm'." Clark pointed out.
Lois slapped him on the arm. "I did that on purpose. If I didn't misspell a few words, Perry would think that you wrote it."
Suddenly, there was a commotion up by the elevator. A large crowd had gathered around whoever it was that had just exited. Lois stood up and craned her neck trying to see around the excited group of people. She saw Perry striding out of his office, a silly grin on his face. Had Elvis come back to life? she wondered.
"Clark?" Clark looked up from his own computer toward Lois. She nodded toward the crowd at the top of the ramp. "Can you see what's going on?"
Clark stood up and, seeing the frenzy playing out in front of the elevator, pulled his glasses down on his nose and gave the scene his attention. Abruptly a huge smile creased his face as he headed up the ramp.
"Diana!" he exclaimed.
"Diana?" Lois' voice was a confused whisper.
"Clark!" The crowd parted and allowed the object of their enthusiasm to step forth.
Lois sucked in her breath. "Clark?"
She watched as the most incredible example of a woman she'd ever seen rushed forward and threw her arms around Lois' husband. The woman was as tall as Clark, and a small golden tiara rested in long dark curls which partially obscured a face that Lois knew many considered faultless. A long, elaborate cape helped cover her costume, which was little more than a flag disguised as a skimpy bikini. Legs that went on forever, and a waist that was impossibly thin were also part of the wondrous package. And as for her more obvious womanly attributes… well, they defied gravity.
It was Wonder Woman, and Lois suddenly felt very small and plain.
Lois had known that Wonder Woman was in town. It had been the lead story on every newscast for the last three days. She was coming to address the Council of Nations. She claimed to be an ambassador of peace. She wanted to share the gifts of her homeland with 'man's world', as she called the nations of the planet. Her island homeland was some sort of near mythical place called Themyscira, or more commonly, Paradise Island. It was said to be populated only by women, Amazons. Lois snorted. Not likely, she thought. Not when the woman presents herself to the world dressed as, and looking like, every adolescent male's fantasy.
She knew that Clark knew Wonder Woman. He'd been there as Superman when she had offered her aid to the Justice League a few months ago during that crisis with the would-be world conqueror, Brainiac. Lois was never sure if Brainiac had been some sort of alien living computer, or just a man possessed by an computer- like alien mind. It didn't matter. Clark and his friends, including the woman of wonder, had taken care of the situation, and everyone lived happily ever after. At least until now.
Lois was just about to look for a way to slip away unnoticed when she heard her name being called out.
"Lois… Lois, come on up here." Clark was waving at her.
Lois rolled her eyes and sighed. She guessed there was no way out of this. Feeling incredibly self-conscious, she trudged up the ramp toward Clark like a woman walking her last mile.
Once she made it to a spot next to Clark, he put his arm around her shoulders and grinned at the tall Amazon. "Diana, I want you to meet my wife, Lois Lane. Lois, this is Diana of Themyscira."
The impressive woman extended her hand. "I'm so pleased to finally meet you, Lois. Clark has told me so much about you."
Lois took the Diana's hand, a plastic smile plastered on her face. "Likewise, though I can't say that Clark has told me much about you." Lois turned and favored Clark with a raised brow, then turned back to the woman. "I never knew your name was actually Diana."
The Amazon's laugh was musical. It matched the melodic timbre of her natural speaking voice. Just something else to titillate all the 'boys' and irritate all the women.
Perry thrust himself into the middle of the fray. "Say, Kent, I didn't know that you were so chummy with Wonder Woman?"
Clark quickly hid a blush. "I wouldn't say we're chummy. I met Diana and several of the other members of the Justice League during that Brainiac crisis. You remember. Superman introduced me around so I could write up the story."
Perry nodded. "A damn fine story it was too." Perry clasped Clark on the shoulder. "So, since you already have a *relationship* with Wonder Woman, it should be a piece of cake for an *old friend* like you to get an exclusive interview with the Amazing Amazon."
Lois saw Diana grin at Clark's embarrassment. "Now, Chief, I don't think it would be right to ask Diana for any special favors…"
Diana placed her hand on Clark's arm. "No, that's all right, Clark. I don't mind. Would you like to conduct an interview here? Or perhaps later, after I've addressed the Council of Nations this afternoon?"
"Tell you what," Clark said after a moment's thought. "Why don't you come on over to our place tonight for dinner. We can conduct the interview then, under a more relaxed atmosphere."
Lois' mouth dropped open in surprise. What was Clark doing?
"Now hold on there son," Perry interrupted. "We want an interview with Wonder Woman, not a story about her needing to have her stomach pumped."
Lois glared daggers at Perry and he and Clark laughed. "You don't have to worry, Chief. I'll do the cooking tonight."
Lois gave the 'boys' a sarcastic smile as she excused herself and went back to her desk. After several more minutes of the Daily Planet staff fawning over her, Wonder Woman finally had to excuse herself so she could prepare for her address at the Council of Nations.
Clark came back down and sat on the corner of Lois' desk. "I'm sorry about the cooking crack, Lois."
Lois looked up at her husband with a cocked eyebrow and a frown. Then she shook her head. "Forget it. I'm used to the cooking jokes by now."
"But I can see you're upset."
Lois let forth an exasperated sigh. "Clark, that's not why I'm upset."
"Well, then, why?"
Lois rolled her eyes. He just didn't get it. "Clark, how could you invite that — that woman to dinner without even consulting me?"
Clark was genuinely surprised. "What do you mean? It's for an interview. I don't understand."
Lois turned back to her computer screen. "Of course you don't," she said under her breath.
"Nothing." She pushed him off her desk. "Don't you think we should be getting back to work? We can argu — talk about this later."
Lois stood in front of the mirror in the master bathroom brushing her short dark hair. She had put on only a minimum of makeup and was wearing a simple blue pullover sweater and a pair of comfortable slacks. She refused to try and compete with the giant covergirl of the superhero set. This was her house, and she was not going to let anyone influence how she dressed in the comfort of her own home.
Lois realized that she was letting a little green creep into her thoughts. She knew that Clark thought she was beautiful and sexy, but it was hard not to feel inadequate when standing next to a goddess. She didn't know Diana at all, but this wasn't an evening she was looking forward to. She set the brush down and gave herself one last look in the mirror, then walked out of the room and headed down the stairs. Her 'guest' would be here soon.
Lois had no sooner hit the bottom landing when the doorbell rang. "I've got it," she called out to her husband, who was busy in the kitchen.
With only the slightest hesitation, she unlatched the deadbolt and swung the door open. She was momentarily startled by the woman she saw standing outside her front entry.
"I'm sorry, Lois. I'm not dressed too casually, am I?"
"Ah, no. Come in." Lois stepped back as Diana glided into her living room. She was dressed in a simple black turtleneck and a pair of blue jeans. She wore no makeup, but then she never did. Her long hair hung loose and free, no tiara.
Diana did a circular glance of the room. "You have a lovely home, Lois." She walked over to the fireplace mantel and looked at several of the photos displayed there. Suddenly her head turned toward the kitchen as she sniffed the air and smiled. "Something smells wonderful. What are we having?"
Lois shrugged. "I have no idea. I'm not the cook in this family."
Lois trailed Diana into the kitchen, and watched as she threw her arms around Clark. "Kal, it's so good of you to invite me to your home." After the hug she peered at the pots on the stove. "Smells great. When do we eat, I'm starved."
Lois raised her brow at Diana's use of Clark's Kryptonian name. Just how chummy was this Amazon princess with *her* husband? Lois tried to ignore the two of them as he pointed out the various dishes he had prepared by busying herself with setting the table. That brought up another problem. Where to place Diana? She set hers and Clark's plates in their normal spots, she to his immediate right. That meant Wonder Woman would either have to sit to Clark's left, or across from him.
Lois bit her lip as she wrestled with the seating arrangement. If she put Diana across the table from Clark it would place them the farthest apart, but he would be looking directly at her during the whole meal. If she put her on Clark's left it would mean that she was within touching distance, but it would be Lois who would be facing the woman during the meal. Lois finally opted for putting Diana's plate to Clark's left. At least that way she could keep an eye on her guest.
Much of the early part of dinner passed in idle chit chat, with Clark and Diana boring Lois with inside jokes and comments that only another member of the Justice League would understand. Finally Clark got around to the 'interview' part of the conversation. Lois knew that he never needed to use a recorder or take any notes. He had that irritating memory for details. How she had ever believed all his 'forgotten appointment' excuses she'd never know.
Lois' interest did perk up at that point, since it was potentially newsworthy. Clark, for Lois' benefit, gave her a quick summary of Diana's past history and the basic Amazon culture that existed on Themyscira. She then filled the two of them in on her address at the Council of Nations. She had been politely received and listened to, but Diana felt that her words had little impact on the members there. Lois could hear the frustration in the princess' voice. It was obvious that she cared deeply about people and the need for tolerance and understanding as the way to eventually bring about peace in a violent world. Lois admired her convictions, but felt Wonder Woman was just a bit naive when it came to the real world. But then she was used to that. She lived with a man who had the same problem.
The rest of the interview, profiling Wonder Woman, just added more fuel to Lois' feelings of inadequacy. Diana spoke nine languages fluently, but admitted that the subtleties of many of the Chinese dialects gave her problems. Poor baby.
As it turned out, Diana was also incredibly intelligent. Scientist level intelligence. She began an excited explanation of some pet research she'd been conducting, but had to stop with a laugh, when it became clear that neither Lois nor 'Kal' had any idea what she was talking about.
The conversation was beginning to deteriorate back into JLA war stories when Lois rose and began to clear the table. It was looking like it was going to be a long a boring night for her when suddenly Clark got 'that look' on his face.
"Oh no, not now," Lois whispered under breath.
Clark immediately jumped back from the table and spun into the suit. "I'm sorry. There's a fire down by the pier. I'd better go and lend a hand."
Diana rose as he did. "Would you like some company, Kal?"
Clark laid a hand on her shoulder and gave it a friendly squeeze. "There's no need. I shouldn't be gone long." He glanced over at Lois and smiled. "Stay here. There's dessert. It will give you and Lois a chance to get to know each other. You know, girl talk." Lois rolled her eyes and shook her head. With the classic whoosh of air, Clark was gone.
Diana approached Lois. "Let me help you with the dishes, Lois."
Lois shook her head. "There's no need. I'll just stack them in the sink and Clark can handle them at super speed once he gets back."
"It must be nice having someone like Kal around for things like that." Diana laughed as she said it.
Lois plastered a fake smile on her face. "It's nice having *Clark* around for a lot of reasons. Doing the housework at super speed is the least of them."
Diana merely cocked a brow at Lois' words, saying nothing. Lois turned and put the last of the plates in the sink.
"Why don't you find a seat in the living room? I'll bring the dessert that Clark made out there."
Wonder Woman gave Lois a slight nod. "Okay."
Lois grabbed the edge of the sink and took a deep breath. Get a grip, she admonished herself. She was acting like a jealous schoolgirl. Diana couldn't help that she was impossibly beautiful, brilliant, and to top it off, immortal. Nothing for Lois to worry about… right? Lois snorted as she sliced off a couple of pieces of the triple choco-chocolate cake he'd made for dessert. Placing the cake on plates and making sure she had forks and napkins, Lois took another deep breath and headed for the living room.
Lois set the plates down on the coffee table and a very awkward silence ensued as the two women sampled the cake. Several minutes passed before Diana broke the icy stillness.
"This is very good, but a little rich for my tastes, I think."
"Oh?" Lois responded. "Do you have to worry about… your weight?"
Diana shook her head and gave Lois an apologetic smile. "No, not really."
"Of course." Lois swallowed the words with a bite of the cake.
"But I do have to work out a lot in order to keep myself in battle shape. I'm tough, and I'm fast, but I'm not quite as blessed as Kal is." Diana was silent for a few more moments as Lois continued to eat her dessert. "Have I done something to offend you, Lois?"
Lois looked up at her, a sullen look was on her face. She was prepared to respond with a quick denial but that wasn't what came out of her mouth. "You exist."
"Sorry?" Diana was clearly confused.
Lois set her dish down on the coffee table and clenched and unclenched her fists several times. "Okay," she finally said at last. "Here it is. You are incredibly beautiful and smart. You have super powers that are nearly a match for Superman. You are a princess, a virtual goddess, and… and you seem like a really nice person. You're Wonder Woman!" Lois bowed her head for a couple of moments before she raised her eyes back to those of her guest. "How am I supposed to compete with that?"
Diana still seemed a bit bewildered as she shrugged. "I didn't know you had to."
Lois snorted derisively. "Come on. Ever since you appeared those few months ago, every tabloid in the country has you and Clark paired up. 'The Perfect Pair' 'The Super Couple' ." Lois used her fingers to simulate quotes for the headlines. "You have to admit that you two are a pretty impressive match."
Diana frowned. "And what does Kal — Clark — say?"
It was Lois' turn to shrug. "That's just it, not much. He rarely talks about the JLA stuff, and the tabloid articles he just ignores."
"Then maybe you should too."
Lois stood up, clearly agitated, and began to pace. "For the most part I do. But then I see the two of you together and even I have to admit that you'd make a better partner for him than I would."
Diana was shaking her head in denial during the whole of Lois' tirade. "Lois, I'll admit that I feel a great affection for Kal. He was the first one to accept me when I presented myself to the League and the public at large. He was always in my corner, and there to support and encourage me. I do love him, but not like you think. He's my best friend. I love him like a brother."
"I've heard that before."
Lois waved her hand in the air. "Never mind." She sat back down in the chair, a frown on her face. "He's my best friend too, and he's my husband."
"Exactly!" Diana said vehemently. "You have to know how deeply he loves you." Diana chuckled. "It's become a sort of joke around the League watchtower. Some of the guys actually place bets on how long it will be before Kal mentions your name."
Lois refused to be mollified. "Yeah, well…"
The conversation was interrupted by a quiet beeping coming from Diana's pants pocket. She pulled out a paging device the likes of which Lois had never seen before. Clearly something not available over the counter in the local electronics store. She scanned the message quickly then put the device back in her pocket. She rose from her seat on the couch.
"Lois, I have to go. Please make my apologies to Kal."
Lois rose with her and began to follow her toward the front door. "Is it some emergency that Clark should know about?"
Diana smiled. "No, nothing like that. It's a personal problem." She opened the door, then stopped and turned back to Lois. "Lois, I don't know if this will ease your mind any, but honestly, Kal is just my friend. I have no romantic designs on him. Even if he wasn't madly in love with you I wouldn't be interested in him in that way."
"Sure you wouldn't."
"Lois, if I had any romantic notions for anyone in this family…" Diana used her fingertip to trace the line of Lois' jaw. "… Let's just say it wouldn't be Kal." She slipped through the door and onto the front stoop. She turned back toward the stunned Lois and gave her a wink and a smile. "After all, I was raised an Amazon."