By Andrea Lynn Dunham
Summary: Study and work as hard as she might, 16-year-old Lois Lane just can't seem to win her father's approval. Plus, he thinks her interest in the school newspaper is a waste of time. When she uncovers corruption at his hospital and tries to deliver a scoop to the Daily Planet, maybe he'll think differently.
OK, I finally have this thing finished and uploaded. Yea! Just a little intro on it. There have been a lot of stories and short skits about Clark's childhood, but none at all about Lois. I think that her character was formed very much by her childhood/adolescence and so I wrote a little story about her. It's quite long, so this is your warning!
PLEASE email me with comments/criticism…I'm an English major, I'm used to it!
Lois entered the bedroom she shared with her sister and threw herself down on the bed with a sigh. She looked around the room and her eyes rested on all the awards covering the flowered wallpaper. Most of them bore her name, the accomplishment of sixteen years worth of striving to be the best at everything. She threw down the paper she had been holding and closed her eyes.
"What was that all about?"
Lois opened her eyes and saw her sister Lucy, not quite thirteen, sitting on the edge of her bed.
"The usual. I'm not trying hard enough. I'm not good enough." Lois sat up and looked her sister in the eye. "He's ashamed of me, Lucy. It's bad enough I'm not the son he wanted, now I'm not even a very good girl."
"What did you do?" Lucy asked.
Lois pointed to the paper lying on he floor and Lucy picked it up. She glanced through it and then looked at the grade on the last page.
"You got an A-. That's nothing to be ashamed of."
"It should have been an A."
"You can't always be perfect."
"That's not what he thinks. I don' know, maybe he's right. Maybe I'm not trying hard enough."
"But all you ever do is work! You hardly even talk to me any more." Lucy looked down, not wanting Lois to see her face, but it was too late.
"Oh Lucy," she said, taking that girl's hand, "I know I've been ignoring you lately. I'm really sorry. I swear I'll always be here for you. That's what big sisters are for."
"Thanks, Lois. I know you've been really busy. It's okay."
"It's not okay. Next time I start ignoring you, smack me or something."
Lois smiled and gave her sister and affectionate squeeze.
"How was the newspaper meeting?" Lucy asked.
"Oh, it was all right. I don't even know why I'm doing it. Dad says it's a waste of time since my articles aren't usually on the front page anyway."
"But Lois, you love the newspaper! I thought you were going for the editor position next year and everything!"
"I know. I just wish I had more important things to write about. Look at "The Daily Planet", you don't see their reporters covering the hazards of cafeteria food," Lois said.
"Well who knows, maybe someday you'll be there and then you can write about all the important things."
Lois smiled weakly, "Who knows."
The next day Lucy wasn't feeling well, and Dr. Lane prescribed some pills for her and told their mother that there was nothing to worry about, but when the pills didn't seem to work and Lucy's fever shot up to 104 he rushed her to the hospital with Mrs. Lane and Lois hard on his heels.
Lois was nearly as frantic as her mother and it was all her father could do to pry her fingers from around Lucy's hand. Lois couldn't help but remember all the moments in the past few months that she should have spent with her sister. Instead of being there for her she had brushed her off in order to get in a few more precious hours at the library or the school newsroom. Now she wondered if she'd ever be able to make up for lost time.
Dr. Lane ushered his wife out of the room and was about to do the same to Lois, but she suddenly gave him a look which clearly said that she was not going to budge, a look that he had seen many times reflected in the glasses of people who had tried to stand in his way.
"I'll stand in the corner. I won't even move," Lois said.
He nodded to her and she backed away, watching everything with her wide brown eyes.
Dr. Lane spoke rapidly to the nurse and she practically ran out of the room. She was back in a moment carrying a syringe and a small vial. Lois barely knew what was going on. It was one of her father's many complaints that she showed no interest in following in his footsteps. She could only guess that whatever was in the vial was meant to lower Lucy's fever and stop whatever virus or bacteria had taken hold inside her. The nurse filled the vial and jabbed it expertly into Lucy's forearm. For a moment Lucy stopped her fitful tossing and Lois breathed a sigh of relief, but then suddenly Lucy's body began to shake and in the next moment she was convulsing. Lois couldn't help but let out a small scream. She had never seen anything as horrible as the sight of her sister writhing on the bed, stiff and uncontrollable.
"I thought she wasn't allergic!" the nurse cried.
"She's not!" Dr. Lane shot back as he filled a syringe from a bottle on the cart by his side. He injected his daughter while the nurse held her head back to keep her from choking, and Lois stood biting her lower lip to keep from crying out. In another minute it was over and Lucy lay still, her breathing shallow and slow. Dr. Lane ordered the nurse to retrieve some other medicines and Lois was left alone with her father and her sister.
Lois walked slowly towards the bed.
"Will she be all right?" she asked.
"She should be fine, Lois, thank God," her father answered as he wiped his forehead with the back of his hand. "I don't tell you girls what I'm feeling most of the time, but I don't know what I'd do if I lost either of you. I just can't understand why she had that reaction. She's had that drug before in smaller doses and it never affected her."
Lois had never seen her father upset or flustered. Somehow she had assumed that nothing could possibly phase the man behind the severe exterior he always showed to her. She felt almost too shy to look up at him. Instead she looked at Lucy's bedside table and picked up the bottle which the nurse had left there. She had no idea what drug it contained, but at the bottom of the label she noticed the expiration date.
"No wonder Lucy got sicker!" she exclaimed. "This medicine expired almost two months ago!"
She held the bottle out to her father who looked at it in disbelief.
"How could this have gotten into circulation? All drugs that are past are supposed to be returned to the company or destroyed," he said.
His stony facade was up again and he breezed past Lois to go look for the nurse who had brought in the bottle.
"Go out with your mother," he told Lois, "your sister needs her rest."
Lois watched him go and then sat down on the chair beside Lucy's bed. She brushed the hair out of Lucy's face and heard her murmuring something.
"Lucy?" Lois whispered. "Can you hear me? It's Lois."
Lucy's eyes fluttered open and focused on Lois' face.
"Am I in the hospital?" she asked.
"Yes. You just had a pretty bad reaction to some drug, but you're going to be okay."
"Is Daddy here?" Lucy asked.
Lois nodded. "He just went out to get something. He'll be back to take care of you."
"You aren't leaving are you?"
"Well Dad said you needed your rest."
"But I don't want to be alone," Lucy protested.
"Mom's right outside, and I'll be right out there too," Lois tried to reassure her.
"But you're here now, can't you just stay?"
Lois looked down at her sister and knew that she couldn't say no to her.
"Sure I'll stay. I'll stay right here in this chair. But only if you close your eyes and go to sleep."
"Okay. I will," Lucy said as she closed her eyes. "Thanks, Lois."
When Dr. Lane returned to his daughter's room and found Lois still there, head propped on her arm, fast asleep, he was not surprised. He shook her awake gently and gave her they keys to the car with instructions to bring it back before school. All of Lois' talk about having promised to stay with Lucy fell on deaf ears, and so she kissed her mother good-night and drove home alone.
The house was horribly quiet with no one in it and Lois found it almost impossible to sleep, but sometime between 2:00am and dawn she must have drifted off, because she awoke to the sun slanting through the window onto her face. She dressed quickly and grabbed two chocolate bars on the way out the door. Her mother was sitting in Lucy's room when she arrived and she handed her the car keys.
"I can walk to school from here Mom, you just stay with Lucy," Lois said.
"Thank you, Lois." she looked up at her eldest daughter's face. "You're a good girl."
"Why don't you get something to eat. I don't have to leave for school for a few minutes. I can stay with Lucy."
Lois' mother gave her a pat on the shoulder. "All right. Maybe I'll just do that."
She left the room and Lois sat down in the chair she had vacated.
Lucy's eyes opened almost immediately, and she turned to her sister.
"Lucy, you're supposed to be asleep!"
"I've been awake for ages. I can't sleep here, the bed's too soft," Lucy said.
"How're you feeling?" Lois asked.
"I'm okay. It was some kind of food poisoning from the hamburger I ate the other day or something. You know, Lois, maybe I should become a vegetarian."
Lois nodded. "Maybe."
"Lois, I heard what Dad was telling Mom about the medicine that made me so sick. He said it was just some kind of mistake."
"You mean he's not going to find out where it came from?"
"He said there aren't enough hours in the day to go hunting after needles in haystacks."
"He would say that!" Lois exclaimed. "After all, you're only his daughter!"
Lois stood up, furious, but Lucy waved to her to sit down again.
"D'you think that maybe this is one of the important things, Lois?" she asked. "I bet you could find out where it came from."
Lois' face took on a look of determination.
"Yes, Lucy, this is definitely one of the important things."
After kissing Lucy good-bye and convincing her mother that she would be fine walking to school, Lois ducked around a corner, and took an elevator two flights up. She knew that her father never set foot in obstetrics and so she considered herself safe. For once she was happy about the way her father had constantly pushed her to be like him. She'd been on so many tours of the hospital that she knew the place inside out. She quickly slipped into a supply closet and threw her book bag behind a laundry basket filled with hospital scrubs. None of them were dirty though, and she assumed that they must have been worn by the anxious fathers. She had been planning on something closer to a candy-striper's outfit, but she shrugged as she dug out a shirt and pair of pants that didn't look too huge. They slipped on over her clothes easily, and she pulled out a cap and stuffed all of her hair into it to complete the ensemble. She was just about to leave when she spotted a small pile of masks on a shelf, grabbed one and hastily tied it on.
Feeling pleased with herself she exited the closet. She hadn't taken more than two steps when she felt a hand on her shoulder and wheeled around to find herself face to face with a very unpleasant looking nurse.
"Are you one of the new interns?" the woman asked.
"Well then you'd better get going. They just called all of you down to the first floor lab."
"Thanks. I didn't hear," Lois said, beginning to enjoy her new role.
She turned from the nurse and walked down the hall to the stairs. She had considered taking the elevator again, but it was too risky. She couldn't be sure that her father wouldn't be on it and she didn't want to test her disguise out on him just yet. She ran down the stairs to her sister's floor, and once there she went directly to the nurse's station.
"Hello," she said, trying to make herself sound mature, "I'm looking for the nurse who worked on Lucy Lane last night."
"That'd be Kristin. She just came on shift," answered one of the nurses.
Another nurse pointed down the hall. "There she is."
Lois squared her shoulders and walked down the hall to Kristin.
"Kristin?" she asked.
Kristin turned and Lois was acutely aware of the fact that the woman was at least two inches taller than her.
"Yes?" Kristin answered.
"I wanted to know where you got the drug injected Lucy Lane with last night."
"I already told Dr. Lane that it was in closet 204. He looked and couldn't find any more bad bottles. It must have been a one time thing."
Lois could see that the woman was upset, but at the same time she dropped all suspicion of her. After all, she reasoned, if Kristin was really in on whatever was going on, she would have known to stay away from the dated drugs."
"I'm sure you're right. I was just double checking."
"That's all right, Doctor. It was just a bit of a shock for me. After all it was Dr. Lane's own daughter."
Lois nodded, grinning behind her mask and the nurse turned back to her work.
"Doctor!" Lois thought, "Guess Dad got his wish. Well, one suspect down, a couple hundred more to go."
She made a bee-line for the supply closet Kristin had mentioned and found herself up to her eyeballs in boxes. Each was printed with the name of the company and the name of some multisyllabic drug which Lois couldn't hope to even pronounce. Some were already opened, and she peeked inside them until she found one with the drug Lucy had been given. She picked up bottle after bottle, hoping to find something, but all of them had expiration dates that were months away.
Lois was just about to give up when she spotted something out of the corner of her eye. One of the boxes along the wall was missing some of the printing. She went over to it and saw that the tape which had sealed it originally had been pulled away, and that someone had taped it shut again. She picked the edge of the tape free and tore it off with one pull. Inside she found more bottles, but these were exactly like the one which had made Lucy sick, expired date and all. Lois taped the box shut again as best she could, and that was when she noticed the packing label. The box was marked to be sent to a free clinic in the country far outside Metropolis.
"But if this is being sent to the clinic, then what happened to the stuff that's supposed to be sent?" Lois thought.
She suddenly had the first of many flashes of investigative insight, a feeling that was so addictive that it would keep her working as an investigative reporter, even when more lucrative pursuits beckoned. She snuck out of the closet, checking first to make sure that her parents weren't within discovery distance and headed once more for the stairs. ***
During the next few hours Lois was able to track down exactly who sent out all of the free clinic medicines and who was in charge of buying it in the first place. She accomplished this by going from floor to floor questioning only those doctors and nurses who were too busy to notice who was doing the asking. Now she found herself at the end of her quest, positioned outside the head nurse's office. She had finally traded in her doctor's outfit for a candy-striper's dress and apron, scavenged from the nurse's locker room, and she stood looking very innocent and intent upon the contents of a patient folder which in fact contained her history homework.
It was nearly one o'clock and the nurse Craig had left for lunch almost half an hour before, but Lois was hesitant to make a move towards the door, for fear that the woman would come back for something she'd forgotten.
"Oh get a grip, girl!" Lois said to herself after peering out from behind her folder for the umpteenth time.
She walked to the door as if she had every right to be there, and tried the handle. It was locked, but Lois was prepared.
"Okay," she thought, "this always works in the movies."
She took out her pocket knife and slid the smallest blade into the lock. After a few moments of frantic jiggling she heard the lock click, turned the handle and was inside. She quickly closed the door while sending silent thanks to God that the hospital had not put in better locks since its dedication over thirty years before she had been born.
The office was immaculate and Lois knew that if nurse Craig was involved, she'd find the evidence right there.
"I bet this woman has receipts dated ten years ago!" she said to herself as she began opening filing cabinets.
She didn't have to look very long before she found the file on the free clinic. Inside were all the original order forms, and all the dates that the drugs had been shipped from the hospital to the clinic. Lois noticed that there was a lag time of almost two weeks between the time the boxes arrived at the hospital and the day they were shipped out.
"Plenty of time to gather up dated medicines and switch them with the good stuff," she thought.
Shuffling through the papers she looked for any clue to what had happened to all of the good supplies she noticed that nurse Craig's was not the only name on the forms. They had also been signed by the head of administration, Dr. Yardley. She got that sudden feeling of insight again, and had a sneaking suspicion that he was in on it too. She was disappointed, though, because by this point she had reached the end of the file and still had no hard evidence that they were guilty of anything but poor efficiency.
"They must be making money off this somehow. I just know it. They must be selling the good stuff to somewhere. But where?" Lois leaned on the cabinet and rested her chin on the top drawer.
That was when she spotted it; a file marked "Landscaping".
"Why do I doubt that this nurse is also the groundskeeper?"
She took out the file and inside were all the receipts from the sales of the drugs to local pharmacies who had in turn sold them back to the hospital.
"Good grief, is anybody NOT making a profit here?" Lois exclaimed.
One nanosecond later Lois experienced her first near death experience when the office door opened. She could see that it was pointless to hide and so she shoved the file back into the drawer and attempted to look nonchalant. When she turned towards the door a young nurse was standing there looking her up and down.
"I thought you'd end up here," she said.
"Oh, I was just doing some last minute filing," Lois lied.
"Take it easy. I know you're the one who's been asking about the free clinic drugs, and I'm glad."
"Glad?" Lois was rather taken aback.
She had been preparing to put her self-defense classes to good use and then run, but now she relaxed and began breathing again.
"My name's Tina and when I first came to Metropolis General I was only doing secretarial work and going to night school. I worked right in this office."
"If you knew what was going on, then why didn't you say anything?"
"While I was going to nursing school here? No one would have believed me and I would have been out on my ear."
"Why are you coming to me now then?" Lois asked.
"You are some sort of reporter or something aren't you? Or are you with the police?" Tina asked.
Lois attempted to retain her composure.
"I'm a reporter," she said, and the words sounded wonderful to her ears.
"Well I can talk to you and you can just leave my name out of it."
"Of course, but let's meet down at the cafeteria before nurse what's-her-name comes back." Lois said, attempting to sound like a seasoned pro.
"Fine. I'll meet you there in ten minutes. By the way, you really do look young. I doubt if anyone else even suspects."
Tina turned and left while Lois breathed a sigh of relief. The Adrenaline was coursing through her veins and when she left the office a few moments later she felt like she was walking on air.
By the time Lois finished talking to Tina, changing her clothes and walking home it was nearly four o'clock and her father was waiting for her at the door.
"And just where have you been?" he asked and she slipped past him. "Don't bother telling me you stayed late at school, because they just called us and you were never even there."
Lois turned to say something but then thought again and closed her mouth.
"This is exactly what I mean, Lois! You aren't even trying to do well. Here your poor sister is in the hospital and instead of trying to behave and make things easier on us you go sneaking away from school. Do you have any idea what an embarrassment it is to have your child's principal call to tell you that your child wasn't in school and ask if you know where they were?"
Lois had lowered her head, but now she looked up, jaw set, a look of quiet rebellion in her eyes.
"I'm sorry, Dad," she said. "It's never happened before and it won't happen again."
With that said, she turned and walked to her room, ignoring the words that her father flung at her retreating back. Somehow, at that moment she found it hard to believe that he wouldn't know what he'd do if anything happened to her. ***
Lois was up for most of the night putting all of her findings into a well crafted article and typing it up on her mother's much abused Royal typewriter. She slept for a few hours and then woke early to call Lucy at the hospital.
"Lucy?" she said when she heard the receiver pick up.
"Lois is that you?" Lucy said groggily.
"Yeah, it's me. Lucy, it's finished. I wrote it."
"I'm glad, Lois. I knew you'd do it."
"Thanks, Luc. Now go back to sleep, you shouldn't even be up."
Lois smiled as she put down the receiver and picked up the pages of typewriter paper. She sealed them in an envelope addressed to the editor of The Daily Planet and put it in her backpack. On her way to school that morning she made one quick stop at a messenger service and then went on to class with an enigmatic smile on her lips.
That afternoon her heart nearly skipped a beat when her mother told her that a Mr. Perry White had called requesting that she stop by his office.
"When did he call, Mom?" she asked in a frenzy.
"Around one-thirty. Lois, what is this about? Your father will be very upset if you're in some kind of trouble."
"I'm fine, Mom. Really. Can I borrow the car? It'll just be for a little while," Lois wheedled.
Mrs. Lane smiled as she looked at Lois.
"All right, but please come home at a reasonable hour. Your father's bringing Lucy home and I want us to have a nice dinner together."
Lois grabbed the keys from the kitchen table and bolted for the door.
"Don't worry, Mom!" she called over her shoulder.
The Lane's house was on the opposite side of Metropolis from The Daily Planet building, and Lois thought that she would surely die as she hit every red light in between. When she at last reached that bastion of news and reporters she swerved into a parking place across the street and gripped the steering wheel to keep her hands from shaking. She thought that looking directly at the building would make her even more nervous, but it was as if fate had brought her to it. The moment she stared at the globe on the roof she felt more comfortable than she did in her own room. She took a second to smooth her hair into place and touch up what little make-up she wore. Then she crossed the street and entered The Daily Planet building as if she owned it.
She took the elevator to Perry White's floor, and was then directed through the newsroom and into his office. He himself was not in the office, she stood, not sure if it would be disrespectful to sit. She didn't have long to wait, however because in a matter of minutes a forty-something man walked in, bringing with him an aura of power and intelligence.
"So," he said, holding out a hand which she readily shook, "you're Lois Lane. My goodness, but you're young. Well, I guess I was pretty young myself when I started."
He motioned for her to sit and she perched on the edge of her chair while he sank into his and rocked backwards.
"I guess I'll get to the point, Miss Lane. I've read you're story."
"Was it all right?" Lois asked
"It was all right. It wasn't great, but it was all right. You've got what I call a natural touch, but you do need some work. No one's perfect, but don't let that discourage you."
Lois smiled. She couldn't remember the last time her father had said that imperfection was an acceptable state of being.
"What I want to know," Perry asked as he leaned forward, "is whether you're tellin' me the truth in this article, of whether you're pulling some kind of high school prank."
Lois looked him directly in the eye and Perry could see a spark there that told him that this one was going to be a keeper.
"I swear to you, Mr. White, everything I wrote is true, and my source is entirely credible."
"Fine! That's all I wanted to know," Perry said as he clapped his hands together.
"Are you going to run it?" Lois was almost afraid to ask, but she had to.
"Of course I'm going to run it. It's news isn't it? Now you listen to me. You're still in school, but if you ever get any free time, you come on over here and we'll make a real reporter out of you. Might even be able to give you a summer internship."
Lois was beaming though she tried to make herself act like a professional.
"I really appreciate this, Mr. White, and believe me, you won't regret it."
"Oh I'm sure I won't Lois. May I call you Lois?"
"Well Lois, it took guts to get this story and it took guts to send it in to me. You've got something going for you, and I aim to find out what it is."
He reached across the desk to shake her hand and she stood up.
"Don't forget to check the morning paper," Perry said as she turned to leave, "and remember, you want something to do, you come here."
Lois woke the next morning with a knot in her stomach. She hadn't told her parents about her conversation with Perry White and Lucy was the only one who knew that one of the by-lines in The Daily Planet that day would be "Lois Lane—Special Correspondent". She rolled over and looked at her sister, fast asleep, hair tumbling down her pillow. Then Lois let out a sigh. She had no regrets. If what she had written kept one more person from going through what Lucy had gone through then it was worth it. She remembered her walk across the newsroom of The Daily Planet and smiled. She knew that she had a second home now, and no matter what her father thought of her career choice she would be happy.
There was a knock at the door and Lois sat up in bed.
"Come in," she said as she tucked a loose strand of hair behind her ear.
The door opened and her father walked in carrying the paper.
For a moment Lois had the urge to bow her head in shame, for what she wasn't sure, but she mentally shook herself and straightened her back. She had nothing to be ashamed of, and everything to be proud of. Perry White had run HER article. That didn't happen to just anybody.
"I read your story," Dr. Lane said as he sat down on the edge of her bed.
Lois nodded towards the paper.
"I sort of thought you might have," she said.
"It was good. You found out what I should have found out myself."
"Do you think there'll be an investigation?" Lois asked.
"I know there will be." Dr. Lane reached forward and put his hand on top of Lois'. "I want you to know how proud I am of you, Lois."
"Yes. It isn't every sixteen year old who has her own by-line in The Daily Planet."
He smiled at her and Lois smiled back.
"Thanks Dad. That really means a lot."
"So, I guess you spent the day at the hospital yesterday and that's why you weren't in school."
"Well, for one day I guess we can make allowances. You'd better get busy on your make-up work this weekend though," he said as he stood up and walked towards the door.
A weak smile crossed Lois' face.
"Same old Dad," she thought to herself.
Normally she would have been more upset, but now she just leaned back against her pillows and grinned. She had found a new place for herself at The Daily Planet which she planned on making a permanent one, and nothing was going to stop her.