By Capes <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: November, 2005
Summary: A Halloween party at the Daily Planet has Clark Kent going as… Superman?
Note: Many thanks to all who encouraged me to keep writing. Feedback and threats in general are effective tools to spur on the laziest of writers. Thanks also are due to those who helped with ideas and to Wendy for nitpicking commas. Also, thanks to Labrat for not biting me when I stole her title.
Above all, thanks to all the writers who made this universe such fun to return to!
Clark Kent, also known as Superman, landed softly on the grass of his parents' farm. The wind was starting to take on the briskness of autumn, and with a quick motion, he spun into jeans, flannel shirt, and glasses. He took a moment and breathed in the fresh scent of country air, a slight smile on his face. It was harvest time, and he could hear the gentle sounds of tractors and combines whirring away in a nearby field, cutting the hay and binding it up for the winter. No matter how much he loved his life in the big city of Metropolis, a part of him would always belong to the open spaces of country where he had been raised with such love.
It was because of that love that he had come today. He needed advice, and who better to advise him than the people who had always been there for him through the tough times of his life. Although of late he had found himself turning to others, such as his close friend and fiery colleague, Lois Lane, there were some predicaments that only his parents could help with. This problem was one of them, due to the fact that the problem itself involved Lois Lane.
Clark shook his head at the thought of her. Since the first time he saw the Daily Planet's top reporter, he had known she was going to be trouble. Unfortunately, her kind of trouble attracted him powerfully. Once again, she had managed to entangle him in something he should never have been involved with in the first place, and now he could see no way out.
At that moment, a small woman burst out of the farm house in front of him, the screen door slamming behind her.
"Clark! What a surprise!" Martha Kent hugged her son with a delighted smile on her face. "Can you stay for supper?"
"Hi, Mom," Clark responded, hugging her back. "Yes, I can stay for supper."
"Good, then you can peel some apples for me," she replied. "I'm making a pie. Your father is out at the hardware store buying a part for the tractor, but he should be back in about half an hour."
Arm in arm, the two headed into the house, chatting away contentedly.
Supper was over, the clean dishes were stacked in the drainer and all three were sitting down with a cup of hot cider, when Martha finally turned to her son and said, "Okay, tell us what's been bothering you."
Clark considered protesting, but knew there was no point. His mother had always been able to see right through him.
"Well, see, it's Lois," he began.
"Ah, Lois," Jonathon remarked with a wry smile on his face. Lately that name had been coming up a lot in conversations.
"Yeah," Clark sighed. "You know how every year the Daily Planet helps host a Halloween party for the kids? This year we're hosting it in conjunction with the Metropolis Children's Hospital, and well…"
It all had started when a Lane and Kent byline appeared in the Daily Planet with an expose on the plight of the families with children in the Metropolis Children's Hospital. These children suffered from rare, life-threatening diseases that were often terminal. Their families suffered right alongside them, watching the children they loved in such pain and clinging to the faint hope that some new treatment would give them more time with their precious little ones. It was not the sort of story Lane and Kent normally did. In fact, Lois had balked slightly at the suggestion, but after meeting some of the children, was deeply moved and threw her heart and soul into the project. It had been, in fact, her idea that the Daily Planet join with the hospital for that year's Halloween party.
Daily Planet Halloween parties were famous. They had been started as a solution to the decreasing opportunities in the city for a family-friendly Halloween. No one was quite sure whose idea it had been originally, but it had morphed into a city-wide enterprise, supported by many businesses. Every Halloween, starting at 6 in the evening, the police barricaded the entire street leading up to the Daily Planet. Families with children lined up at the far end of the street and gave a donation to enter. Then the parents, with little pumpkins, rabbits and ninjas in tow went door-to-door to all the businesses on either side of the street, filling their bags with candy and other treats. The whole process ended at the Daily Planet where there were cookies and cider to go along with old-fashioned kids' games like the ring-toss. The staff at the Planet joined in the fun, dressing up for the occasion and making sure everyone was having a good time.
The families of children with such serious diseases often abandoned their entire lives in a last desperate bid for a miracle. They quit their jobs, mortgaged their homes and went heavily into debt to be able to stay near their child during the process. They depended on the kindness of family, friends and even strangers for help getting to and from wherever home was to the hospital, for places to stay during extended visits and expensive equipment if the child was able to go home from time to time. This year all profits made would go to the families of the children in the hospital fighting so courageously against overwhelming odds.
In years past, Lois had managed to find ways to duck the party. She found small children confusing and tried to avoid them as much as possible. She wasn't against them in principle, really, but just did not feel comfortable with large groups of them. However, the previous year, Clark had managed to coax her into staying. In spite of herself, she'd had a surprisingly good time, so much so that this year she had actually suggested to Clark that they should go together and wanted to discuss costumes.
That was where all the problems had started. He had been engrossed in an online search for a special replica of an early Picasso for Martha, when a hand touched him on the shoulder and he heard her say, "So, Clark, ready for lunch? I'm starved!"
"Sure, Lois." He smiled up at her. "What do you want?"
"I feel like Chinese."
Clark let out a small sigh. It was the third time that week that she had felt like Chinese. He was starting to wonder what was up with her. He knew it was partially his fault as, since the first time he'd brought her takeout from "his" Chinese place, she'd gone through phases of obsession with it. It had not helped that he had been forced to keep it secret that the food was actually *from* China.
"Hey! I heard that sigh!" Lois raised an eyebrow and poked him with her pencil. "It's your fault. If you'd just *tell* me where to get it myself…"
"No, no, Lois. Wouldn't want to do that," Clark said hastily and stood up, grabbing his suit jacket off the hook by the side of his desk. "I'll be right back."
Lois smirked a little on her way back to her desk. By now she had tried nearly every Chinese place in the phone book and still had not figured out his secret. She still intended to get it out of him some day, but for now she was satisfied with making him go get it. It served him right for hiding things from her.
When Clark returned with lunch in hand, they moved into the conference room to eat and this is when Lois brought up her great idea.
"So you know, Clark," she started nonchalantly. "The Halloween party is coming up soon, and we *still* haven't picked out costumes."
"Mhm," he mumbled, swallowing some rice.
"I was thinking that we should do something, you know, interesting," she said, her voice warming with enthusiasm. "So, I think that I should go as myself and you should go as Superman. Great idea, huh? We could…" Her voice trailed off as Clark started coughing, shock having caused him to swallow something the wrong way. "Are you okay?"
Nodding his head at her question, Clark grabbed his mug and drank some water, trying to still the feelings of panic that her suggestion had caused. What could she possibly be thinking? What should he say?
Lois looked at him quizzically for a moment; but then, assured that he was indeed going to be fine, she enthusiastically began to talk about her idea. "I was thinking, Clark, that it probably wouldn't be *that* hard to figure out how to make a suit like Superman's and we'd need to buy some material or whatever, and…Clark are you listening to me?" she demanded.
"Uhuh," he said weakly. "But, Lois, don't you think we should pick something more, um, conventional and also easier, like Frankenstein or vampires or even Star Wars characters?"
"Clark!" she protested. "Everyone does those! Don't you want to do something different?"
"Lois, a lot of people dress like Superman, too, you know," he said.
"But *not* Superman and Lois," she said smugly. "Plus, I think our costume will look a lot more authentic than theirs. After all I *know* Superman, and I've seen the suit up close many times."
If she only knew how much more authentic he could make the suit he thought to himself as Lois kept talking. The only problem was that he, of all the people in the world, was the one who could least afford to pretend to be Superman. He imagined himself telling Lois that he knew where they could get fabric exactly the same as that used to make Superman's suits: out of a big, locked chest in the attic of the Kent's farmhouse in Kansas. What was he going to do?
"So there you have it," Clark said with a frown.
"What did you tell her?" Martha asked him.
"I told her I'd think about it, but that I wasn't so sure it would work. She just won't be deterred, though. I don't know what to do. How did I get myself into this mess?" Clark put his head in his hands, and Martha gave Jonathan a worried look. They both knew that Clark had feelings for his partner, but that he was unsure as to how or and even whether or not he should tell her about his other persona. They had met Lois a couple of times, and while they could see why Clark felt the way he did about her, they also knew that his admission was not something that could easily be made.
As they sat there in silence, each mulling over the problem at hand, Martha ventured a suggestion. "Clark, honey, now I know that this may seem a little shocking, but have you ever considered just *telling* her the truth?"
Clark's eyes widened and took a sharp breath. "You mean like just tell her that I'm, you know…"
"Yes, dear," Martha remarked dryly. "Maybe the obvious answer is the right one in this case?"
"But Martha," Jonathan protested. "This is a pretty big secret. It's not something Clark can tell to just anyone!"
Clark looked at his father, knowing that he too had at the back of his mind the image of a scalpel poised over a frog. For most of his life Clark had lived in fear of the truth getting out, of being turned into a specimen for ridicule…or research. Despite all of his physical invulnerability now, there were so many other ways he could be made to suffer. Still, he knew in his heart that Lois was not going to turn him in to the Area 51 investigators or any group like that. She had never had any qualms about protecting him in his role as Superman. In fact, she was one of the few people who had managed to see Superman as an actual being in need of friendship, not just hero worship.
"No, Dad. I know Lois wouldn't do anything to hurt me," Clark said slowly. "She's my best friend, and I trust her. She's saved me, or really Superman, often."
"We know how you feel about her, honey," Martha said. "If you couldn't trust her, I don't think you'd feel the way you do about her."
She was right. Clark knew it. The only thing standing in his way had been fear of Lois's reactions, fear of losing her. Yet, at some point he was going to have to tell her. He had known that he would face this choice all along. He had known it from the moment he looked into her eyes and felt his heart leaving his chest. The more he had learned to trust her and the more their partnership had grown, the more this decision had been thrust in his face time after time. Friends did not lie to each other, not about things of this magnitude. He also hoped that one day they could become more than friends, and his duel identities were certainly getting in the way of that now. Still, he had hoped that he could make Lois see him as more than just a friend before he told her. He wanted to be sure that he was the one she was interested in, not just his flashy counterpart.
He confessed this concern to his parents and heard Martha sigh. "Yes, dear, I can see your point, but how much longer do you think you are going to be able to get away with: Lois, I wanted to tell you, but we just didn't know each other well enough! Are you going to wait until you date her? Until she thinks she knows you and then you'll spring it on her, leading her to believe you're not trustworthy? No, Clark, you know what you need to do."
>From the tone of her voice, it was obvious that she knew what he had already decided: to tell Lois. No more lies, no more excuses, just the truth.
"Um, Lois," Clark said hesitantly, poking his head over his partner's desk.
Lois looked up from her computer screen and gave him a smile. "Hi, partner! I wasn't sure I was going to see you today. Where have you been?"
"I had a meeting with one of the board members of the Metropolis Children's Hospital, remember?"
She nodded her head. "That's right. I remember now."
He came around the desk and leaned against it. "What are you working on right now?"
She grimaced slightly and pointed at her screen. "Perry couldn't find anyone else to finish this piece on the dog show that Ralph left when he decided to get sick."
"Now, Lois, you know he didn't exactly *choose* to get the measles," Clark said with a small smile.
"Whatever," she said with disgust. "I'm just glad it's almost done, and I can get out of here."
"Speaking of getting out of here," Clark said hesitantly. "I was wondering what you're doing tonight?"
Lois looked at him quizzically. "Nothing, really. Why?"
"I was just thinking maybe you'd, uh, come over to my place for dinner?" His mouth felt funny, and he forced himself to resist the urge to bolt across the room to somewhere, anywhere else.
"Sure!" she said cheerfully. "What were you thinking…" She looked up and something about the expression in his eyes made her stop talking. He was looking at her very intently, his brown eyes piercing through her. Something inside of her told her that there was more to this request than just a desire to hang out with a friend. "Clark," she said softly. "Are you okay? Is something wrong?"
"Not really. I just have, um, something I want to tell you," he said awkwardly. There he had said it. It was done. As soon as it had left his mouth, though, he wanted to take it back. What was he thinking? Now he'd actually *have* to tell her. After making such a big deal, no way was he going to get away with muttering something about going to a baseball game together or some such nonsense.
His answer seemed to satisfy her, though, because, while he thought he saw a flash of something pass through her eyes, it was gone in a second, and she softly patted his arm. "Okay, Clark. Then tonight it is. But first…" she paused dramatically, "a late breaking exclusive on dog show drama!"
Clark could not help smiling as she rolled her eyes at him. Despite the ordeal ahead, when Lois was happy and smiling at him, there was always hope for the future.
Clark had just spun out of the suit into a pair of jeans and a t- shirt when the doorbell rang. He had been out patrolling, an activity he normally did later in the evening, but as he had no idea how this particular evening was going to play out, he had thought it best to get it over with. It had also kept him from focusing on the ever-tightening knot in his stomach that told him to cancel this evening. However, Lois was at the door, and the time had come. There could be no more backing out. Taking a deep breath, he swung the door open to a smiling Lois.
"Hi, Clark," she said as she brushed past him into the apartment. "I hope you have something good to eat, because I'm starving." She headed straight for the kitchen with the ease of a frequently welcomed visitor. "I hope you have the coffee on!"
"Uh, yeah, Lois. I do," he muttered as he shut the door and followed in her wake. He was just glad he'd remembered to pick up something on his way back.
"Oh good!" Lois said when she saw the take-out bags sitting on the table. "I smell…Chinese?" She hauled the cartons out of the bag. "How did you know that I was hoping for Chinese?"
"Considering we've only had it once this week so far, I figured it was time." He shrugged. With what he had to tell her, he also assumed that every little bit of extra good will he had on his side would be a help.
When they had divvied up the food and settled themselves on his couch, Lois turned to him with an expectant look. "So, partner, what is it you wanted to tell me?"
The moment had come. It was time to come clean…and Clark's mind seized up in panic. He could not possibly tell her! What had he been thinking? Sure, it had sounded like a good idea at the time, but it was definitely not a good idea now. Tell her his secret? Have her realize that he had been lying to her all this time? No, no, absolutely not.
Something of his inner turmoil must have been apparent in his expression, because Lois looked at him impatiently and repeated, "Out with it, Clark. What is it you wanted to tell me? There's nowhere to run to this time."
Desperate to avoid the one topic he had set this whole evening up to address, his feverish mind grasped hold of the subject of their most recent conversation. "Uh, Lois, let's talk about the Halloween party."
She quirked an eyebrow at him, but shrugged. "Sure, Clark. Let's talk about costumes. Have you got yours yet? If you don't rent a Superman one soon, they're going to be sold out."
Yes! That was the answer: another lie, but a necessary one, surely. Clark arranged his face into what he hoped was a gravely sad expression. "Well, Lois, that's sort of what I wanted to tell you. I tried to rent one yesterday and unfortunately, they were already sold out."
Lois laughed. "Really? Good thing I already rented you one then, partner!" She reached over and patted his arm gently with a giggle.
Clark stifled a groan. Switching tactics, he started again, "I don't know about this Superman idea, Lois. I mean, really, we're friends. Isn't it strange that I'd dress up like him?"
"Oh no, Clark. I'm sure he wouldn't mind. He's probably used to it by now anyway." Lois shook her head at the ridiculousness of his protest. "Now, no more arguments. As a matter of fact, I brought along the costume I rented you. It's out in the Jeep so let me go get it a minute so we can check to see if it fits." With that, she hopped up off the sofa, and headed out the door.
Clark let out a frustrated breath of air. What now? Surely he could think of a way out of the mess he'd created. And his keen reporter's mind came up with…nothing. And there she was, coming back through the door, bag in hand and a bright smile on her face. There was nothing to be done. It was hopeless. He would have to revert to his original, ridiculous plan of telling her the truth.
Lois whipped the suit out of the bag and shook it a little. "Looks good, don't you think? I'm pretty sure it'll fit you. Want to go try it on right now?"
"Uh, no! No, no, that's all right!" Clark stammered.
"Come on," she said in her coaxing voice. "I went through all this trouble. The least you could do is try it on. Please?"
It had to be done. Right now. Motioning toward the couch, he said weakly, "Lois, I really need to talk to you. Leave that…thing…over there."
Lois tossed it over the back of the chair and sat down on the couch. She crossed her legs in front of her, elbows on her knees and hands propping up her head, looking at him intently. "Okay, Clark. Go ahead."
She was so cute sitting there, peering at him. He shook his head, trying to focus on the business at hand. "See, Lois. I need to tell you something. It's really important and I, I haven't really been able to tell anyone this, but well, you're my friend, and uh, I trust you and…"
She blinked her eyes, waiting patiently. He knew he was babbling, much like Lois herself did from time to time, but she was apparently still listening. "Lois, I have a secret. And…I'm Superman." He let it out in a rush, forcing it through his lips before he had a chance to stop the words from coming out yet again. Clark dropped his head and closed his eyes, waiting for the worst.
There was dead silence for what seemed like an extremely long time. Then he heard…a giggle? It was small, but definitely, yes, a giggle. His head shot up, and he stared at his partner who was leaning back against the sofa and shaking with mirth. "Lois?" he ventured, unsure of what could possibly be the reason for her outburst. Of all the reactions he had expected, this was certainly not one of them.
"Oh Clark, Clark…" There were tears of laughter in her eyes. He could see her pull herself together and look him straight in the eye.
"Didn't you hear me, Lois?" he said quietly. "I said I'm Superman."
"Of course you are," she replied matter-of-factly. "I know that."
"WHAT!?!" Clark's voice rose of its own accord as he stared at her in shock.
She patted him gently on the knee. "Yes, Clark. I know that you are Superman. My only question was when you were going to get around to sharing this piece of information with me…your partner, your friend."
His mind was reeling. He had intended this to go another way and instead she had, in typical Lois Lane fashion, turned the tables on him. "When…?" he croaked.
"Oh, a couple of weeks now," she said airily. "I *am* an investigative reporter, you know. Seeing past the facade and all that. I was trying to think of costumes for us to go in, and was thinking about a Superman costume. The more I thought about it, the more I realized how much of a striking resemblance the two of you bore to each other. Both dark haired, brown eyes, fairly similar haircuts. Sure, there were the glasses, but take that away, add a little hair gel, and voila: one person."
She'd known for weeks? And she hadn't told him? He had suffered all this for nothing? "Why didn't you tell me?" he said with a little bit of anger in his voice.
This time Lois's eyebrows hit her hairline. "Tell you? Why didn't *you* tell me is a better question! At first I was pretty upset with you, but then I started to see that you had good reasons at first, so I forgave you for that. Then I realized you might want to tell me now, but probably hadn't really had the right opportunity to tell me yet, so I figured I would make it easier for you by giving you one," she finished magnanimously and leaned back. "Stop gaping, Kent. Like I said, I'm a reporter. This is what I do."
No one could have said how long they would have sat there in silence after her speech had it been up to Clark. His mind kept whirling until she said in exasperation, "Come on, Clark! Say something! Aren't you proud of me for figuring this out?"
Something about the tone of her voice pulled him out of his whirling thoughts. Come to think of it, she had been quite clever to put two and two together like that, especially with all the work he had put into deceiving her in the first place. Not to mention the fact that for some reason, she had managed to work through whatever angry feelings his deception had engendered. She really *was* brilliant. And she was *his* partner. Not to mention that she was truly adorable with that smug look on her face, brown eyes sparkling at him. "You know what, Lois," he said firmly. "Yes, I *am* proud of you. I should have expected nothing less. You're the smartest person I know."
A brilliant smile broke across her face at his response, and she scooted closer to him on the couch. "So, partner," she said with a sly smile. "What are we going to do for Halloween, then?"
"Lo-is!" Clark said with exasperation. "This…thing is impossible!"
She laughed and came over to where he stood. "It's not a 'thing', Clark. It's called a 'cravat'. And it wouldn't be a problem if you'd just stop messing with it. You know perfectly well that this period costume was really hard to get so don't go and spoil it." Stepping back, she tilted her head to the side and eyed him critically. "Looks good, Kent."
Clark rolled his eyes. These costumes had been Lois's idea once again, and he had only agreed after a little arm twisting. He was not completely thrilled about having to go as a famous fop, no matter how dashing a figure Sir Percy Blakeney's alter ego might have been. Lois had told him it was poetic justice, and the only way he could make it up to her for having to sacrifice her original costume idea. Now that the day had come, he had to admit that she did look incredible as Marguerite St. Just in her floor length, burgundy, velvet gown with embroidered lace sleeves, her dark hair piled up on her head, with the required ringlets slipping down. As always, she was amazing, and he felt compelled to tell her so. From the small grin she gave him, he assumed that she was happy he noticed. She gave him a gentle shove toward the mirror and stood next to him as he regarded the pair they made.
He couldn't help smiling a little as he looked at the two of them, dressed to the nines in period regalia, ready to go out. Lois and Clark. Not Lois and Superman, but Lois and Clark. The way she treated him, and the way she simply…was… with him left no doubt that she knew the distinction. No, they weren't really a couple and this wasn't really a date, but something told him that a real one might not be far off.
Lois cut short his ruminations with a tug on his arm. "Come on, Clark. We're going to be late!"
Yes, this was how it should be: two partners together, friends first and maybe something more. In time, anything was possible.
Endnotes: For those who missed the costume reference, I suggest The Scarlet Pimpernel as it is the reason we all have Clark Kent/Superman to read about.