By Mary Lovee Varni <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted: February 2006
Summary: During season one's celebrity auction, both Lois and Clark find themselves relating just a little too well to Alan "Invisible Man" Morris. Will a night-time conversation help them see the true gift of friendship in each other?
DISCLAIMER: The principal characters and concepts, and several instances of dialogue in this story were taken from the "Lois & Clark" series and are therefore the rightful property of DC Comics, December 3 Productions, etc.
In the world of romance, I must be invisible. Before Lucy moved out, she said what I call dates, the rest of mankind calls interviews. I'm reduced to asking the Planet's reluctant new hire to escort me to Lex's White Orchid Ball at the last minute because my reliable standby is, in reality, an unreliable hypochondriac. The closest thing I've had to a romantic encounter since the Lord knows when is via my VCR watching "Ivory Tower" reruns. And then tonight, even I hit an all-time low. I'm bidding for a date. Yes, Lois "Multi-Kerth-Award-Winning" Lane is paying for a chance for a man to take her out. Yes, maybe I'm a little redeemable because it's not just any guy I'm bidding on, but the one every woman in Metropolis' single, 45-and-under crowd is enamored with. But then again, not only did I not get the date, he didn't even acknowledge my existence—not as an acquaintance, not as a friend, and definitely not as a romantic interest. Is there any wonder why I'm on my third glass of champagne?!
Oh great, and here comes Clark.
"Date with Superman, huh?"
"What are you doing here? Barn dance let out early?" I fire back contemptuously. Thanks for the crack, Clark. Kick a girl while she's down why don't you? Maybe I need another glass…
"I filed the Morris story thank you very much."
And I care about this now, because…? "Go away, Clark." Can't he see I'm busy wallowing here?
"C'mon, I'll put you in a cab. You're in no condition to—"
"To what? I can take care of myself, thank you." I guess he thinks I need a babysitter, too. "I'll see you in the morning. Girl can't even drink in peace anymore," I mutter as I turn my back on him dismissively, motioning for the bartender to give me another bubbly.
But Clark doesn't leave. He starts to say something when, wonderful, here comes Lex.
"Lois, a pleasure to see you."
"And you, Lex. I'm sorry I had to cancel our lunch. It's just Superman is such a big draw…" I trail off hoping he'll take the hint and let me finish drowning my sorrows. What's with everyone tonight, anyway? The one guy I want attention from thinks I'm invisible, but the two I don't want to face in my current situation try to move in for the kill.
Terrific, Lex doesn't take the hint either. I see Clark starting to bristle as Lex plops his boot on the seat next to me and starts polishing his…what, alligator footwear? Why would anyone—much less the third, oh, no, I'm sorry, second richest man in the world—consider that proper etiquette?
"Yes, and apparently not only for you," Lex quipped, as he takes his foot off the furniture and motions towards the woman who successfully bid and claimed her super date.
Huh? Oh yeah, thanks for rubbing it in Mr. High-and-Mighty. I glance back at Clark and even he winces. Could it be that in this instance Mr. Nowheresville has better manners than Lex? Who would have thunk…
"I thought you'd like to reschedule," he transitions smoothly or not so smoothly depending on how you look at it.
"Thanks, Lex, I appreciate the offer, but maybe some other time. Now if you two will both excuse me, it's getting late and Perry's staff meetings start mighty early."
"I'll get your…"
"Let me retrieve…"
Clark and Lex both say simultaneously, glaring at each other. I wobble slightly and then feel two strong arms steady me. I look down…hmm, Clark got there first. I don't appreciate the gesture, but better him than Lex. I'm not sure why I think this. They've both taken some pretty poor pot shots at me tonight in reference to my feelings for Superman, but Clark at least isn't trying to score points romantically. He knows there's nothing in it for him besides disgruntledness at the newsroom if he incites Mad Dog Lane too much. Lex, however, is a different story. I guess he's taken an interview request as a signal that I want to fall at his feet. Well, without Clark's support, I may well have done that!
"I appreciate the thought, but I can get my own coat and I'll be just fine. Now please, good night!"
Clark lets me go. Lex bows slightly before giving my Planet partner one final grimace and making a graceful exit in his alligator boots.
"Lois, at least let me walk you home." The Boy Scout in him makes one final attempt at gallantry.
"Clark what part of 'good-bye' don't you get? It's a two-syllable word that even someone from Smallville can understand."
"Fine. Good *night*, Lois." Clark finally takes the verbal brush off for face value.
Alone again at last. As I leave the Metro Country Club, I realize that it will have to be a walk. I did cab it here, but somehow don't feel like losing my dinner as a result of a city cabby's NASCAR-wannabe driving. The night air is chilly and wafting though my wrap and black silk dress, but at least the coolness has a sobering effect. I haven't drowned my sorrows in a while. I grew up with an alcoholic mother and know first-hand the trouble that brings. And, the last time I did that publicly was in college, so why tonight?
Oh yeah, the whole "Superman Ignores Lois" thing. Now it's coming back. Despite the champagne's dulling effect, the hurt's still there. What had Alan Morris said last night? "I became so invisible in my own life, I decided to do it for real." Hmmm. Maybe I can relate to him in one aspect of my life, my relationship with Superman. Why did I think my hero would notice me anyway? He has the world and the world's women at his feet. Why would he think Lois Lane was anybody special?
I hear the faint echoes of my high heels ringing on the city concrete, realizing that maybe I should have taken Clark up on his offer for company. It isn't the safest area of town, now that I'm at least six blocks east of the more affluent area of the country club. It's not like I'm defenseless, knowing Tae Kwon Do and all, but neither am I dressed for sparring with any city thugs at the moment either.
The breeze is starting to pick up some, too. Ugh, when will this night and walk home end? Oh yeah, there's Hoelscher's Market, less than a half mile to go. Good. Then, I hear footsteps behind me. Crap! What a great way to end a hellacious night. My speed increases. I don't even have Superman to rely on anymore. He's probably making kissy faces at what's-her-name up in the clouds somewhere by now!
My heels go clip-clop in a steady staccato beat. My marching band instructor (don't ask!) would be proud of my pace. Too bad I was never her star flautist at MHS. Maybe I should just do away with my shoes and run… OK, don't go crazy, Lois. It could be anything. Don't give whatever or whoever the pleasure of seeing you panic. OK, there's the water tower, a third of a mile to go…
Suddenly a rush of wind envelopes me and then…two hands are on my shoulders and I'm face-to-face with the red, yellow and blue hero's S-shield.
In the world of Superman, I must be invisible. During one of my many trips home to Kansas, Mom and Dad told me it was the man beneath the suit they cared about. Well, they're probably the only ones. Everybody—from Harvey, the owner of the Smallville Feed Store, and my partner at work to that celebrity agent Murray Brown and the Metropolis general public—only wants a piece of my spandex.
Alan Morris's situation has hit way too close to home. As journalists, we're only supposed to get as involved with our sources as the story calls for, not identify with every person as our long-lost best friend. Still, at the moment, I feel just as invisible as Alan did. There's just something about Clark Kent that just says "Ignore me!" when I'm compared to the larger-than- life superhero. But, I'm definitely not helping matters here. Being a super stud at a celebrity auction (even if it is for charity) isn't the best way to stay out of the limelight. I tap on the country club window just wanting to get this night over with.
Oh great, there's even a glissando.
The overly cheerful master of ceremonies introduces me: "And now, something very special…a super date: a Sunday picnic in the clouds. So ladies, what will you give me for the 'Man of Steel'?"
One woman offers a $1000 for me. Whoa. That's my entire month's rent.
Wonderful, now Lois is bidding for me. I groan inwardly. C'mon partner, don't! You outshine all of the other women here. Don't lower yourself to buying a date. You routinely have your partner at work, the third, oh excuse me, second wealthiest man on the planet, and even hypochondriac Mitchell falling at your feet on a regular basis.
Terrific, now Cat Grant's entered the fray. I spent one hour in her 'lair', as Lois put it, during my second week in Metropolis and all of a sudden Jimmy's coming to me for advice on women and the entire newsroom thinks we were swinging from the chandeliers. I shudder to think what she'd say about Superman.
There goes Lois again, then Cat, and finally a few other bids. Are they really up to $9,000? Lois looks disappointed and Cat makes some snide comment. I make basically what they do and can't imagine having even half that amount saved up. I start to make my way reluctantly to Cat who had just bid the highest, when a debutante who's kept silent 'til now makes…what was that? A $50,000 bid?! Whoa. She definitely has my attention.
"Sold for $50,000!" the woman at the microphone announces.
I walk down from the platform in her general direction, the spotlight still shining in my eyes. I walk past Lois and Cat. My partner makes a half-attempt to get my attention, but I can't really talk to her right now. A woman just gave up $50,000 to spend an afternoon with *me,* Clark 'Superman' Kent. The least I can do is not delay in speaking with her.
"Your charitable donation is more than generous, Ms.—?" I ask in formal Superman tones when I reach her side.
"Sarah DeLucas. Please, call me Sarah," she smiles shyly. She looks to be around my age, or maybe a little older. Her smooth, dark hair piled high on her head for the occasion.
"Well, Sarah, Antonia's Ristorante has donated a picnic lunch for me to pick up for us a week from Sunday. Will about one o'clock be convenient? We could meet at the main pavilion in Centennial Park if that's all right," I explain.
"Superman, that sounds fine. I wanted-umm, to let you know, I admire what you've done for the city. My father's on the board of the children's hospital our donations are going to and I wanted to do my part, that's all. I'm not a weird 'groupie' or anything," Sarah's nervousness peaks through.
I smile kindly, and take her hand in mine. She blushes slightly. "Thanks for your honesty, Sarah, and your generosity. I wanted to ask you if there's anywhere you particularly wanted to go to have lunch. The announcer said 'picnic in the clouds,' but that's not exactly possible, even for me. Just because we're meeting at the park for the publicity photo doesn't mean we have to eat there, too."
Her eyes light up. "Really? Well…there is this one place I've always meant to go back to. I did an internship in southern California while I was in college, and we always used to go to this beach called Leo Carrillo on the weekends. It wasn't as crowded as Malibu or Venice. It's a prime surfing spot, but not too crazy. If it's not too much trouble…could we go there?"
"It'll be my pleasure, Sarah."
In her enthusiasm, Sarah kisses my cheek. This time I blush.
"Till Sunday, then."
"Thanks again, Superman!"
After leaving Sarah, brushing off Murray Brown, and feeling an urgent need to get to Lois, who I spotted downing a second glass of wine, I take off into the brilliant skyline above Metropolis.
He's here, right in front of me. His hands, lying gently on my shoulders, are calming the panic which I'm sure shows on my face.
"Lois, are you all right?"
"I'm-I'm OK, Superman, just heading home after the celebrity auction."
"Can I offer you a lift?"
"Well, I'm not six blocks from, and I'm sure you have better things to do than usher home every woman who bid on you tonight," I say a little self deprecatingly, offering him a way out. I shiver in the night air as I try to move past him.
He drops his hands from my shoulders, but takes my hand instead. "We're friends, Lois. I don't mind. At least let me keep you company 'til you're home. This is a seedy part of town and I'd feel better if I could see you to your apartment safely, OK?"
"I'd rather fly, if you don't mind. It is a little cold out here. You know, Clark offered to walk me home, too. Who knows? Maybe next time I might listen to one of you before I freeze." I smile at the idea of him regarding us as friends. Maybe I'm not so invisible after all…
"That's quite a concession from Lois 'Brown-Belt-In-Tae-Kwon-Do' Lane." His dark eyes twinkle at me.
"That's "Black-Belt-In Training" to you, Mr. Hero. Wait…how did you know I—?"
He smiles at me enigmatically as he interrupts me. "I have my ways. Now, you're cold and want a lift home now, right?"
"Those are two things I can help with."
The next thing I know, he's staring intently at me, his twinkling black eyes start to glow a deep red. I take a slight step backwards and shut my eyes before I realize what I'm doing. I'm not sure what he's going to do, but I'm not really scared, just startled. After a minute, when nothing happens, I open one eye and he's grinning at me.
"What?" I say defensively.
"You're looking at me like the criminals do when I melt their guns, Lois. My heat vision has different degrees of intensity and other uses than that, you know, like warming up friends who try to walk home when it's 40 degrees outside without a coat!"
"This is a coat, thank you, and not all of us are blessed with your invulnerability to extreme temperatures," I say, a little irritated with his humor.
"Can I continue, then, or do you want to freeze?"
"Just get on with it, please."
Chuckling, he takes my hands again, and this time as his eyes change their hue, I watch him curiously. Warm, crimson rays of light emit from him as he warms me from ankle to shoulders. The beams are wide and soft, not focused and intense like when he deals with the criminal element. The light is followed by a gentle heat that engulfs me like slowly getting into a pool of warm water. Wow.
"Thank you, that was…amazing to say the least."
"My pleasure, Lois." He drops my hands, and scoops me up smoothly into his arms, as I prepare myself for my third…or is it the fourth?—flight with him. Like before, I feel gravity loosen its grip on me as the wind from his take-off rustles my hair.
She's here, right in my arms. Her hands are gently encircling my neck, calming my earlier panic when she insisted on walking home alone in a bad part of the city. I fly as slowly as possible, trying to prolong our journey to her apartment. The sky, emblazoned with silver stars and curtained in moonlight, enchant me almost as much as the lady I'm with.
"Superman?" she asks suddenly.
"How did you find me tonight? You were already gone by the time I left the auction."
I'd like to tell her because I was worried after she refused my offer for company home, but I don't feel like using the standard "I saw Clark and he told me" line. Maybe one day I can tell her the whole truth. Instead, cowardly, I say, "I was on my evening patrol and happened to see you on the road," a nice, safe Superman offer, vague and just somewhat shy of the truth.
"Well, at the auction…I tried to say hi, and you…well, you must not have seen me there."
"I did see you and I'm sorry I didn't have a chance to say hello. Sarah DeLucas, the lady who won the bid, had just offered a lot of money to help the kids, and I…well, didn't feel right in detaining her."
"Oh." She stiffens a little bit in my arms and averts her gaze to the sights of the city that surround us. Was that why she was attacking the champagne like that, because she thought I was avoiding her? I wince inwardly as I remember the comment I threw at her earlier as Clark. That was pretty dumb and mean of me especially in light of how she was already feeling.
Turning my gaze directly towards her, "Lois, you don't have to bid for my attention. You're a good friend and have been a constant source of support for me since I arrived in Metropolis. I'm sorry if you felt that way."
"Really? I thought…I was just another face in the crowd." she says softly.
"You'll always be special to me, Lois. I care about you. That's why I had to stop and make sure you were all right."
"I will? Thanks, Superman," her smile brightening like a star coming out from behind a cloud. "I was feeling down tonight. I guess I have more friends out there than I realized. I think I already told you that Clark offered, too, by the way."
"To fly you home?" I can't resist, smiling that she considers Clark not just a work partner, but a friend. Maybe, I'm not so invisible after all…
"I think walking's more his style," she quips back.
"I appreciate you setting me straight. If there are any more Kryptonians out there, I'd like to know."
She laughs suddenly turning her gorgeous eyes back to me. "Clark's about as Kryptonian as you're Midwestern, Fly-Boy."
"Fly-Boy, huh? Well, you never know…"