By Michele Garnier (Bizarra, Raising Cain, etc…:) ]
Summary: Lois and Clark are trapped together under rubble after an earthquake. Clark discovers he can't perform a miraculous save, because any movement might bring the debris down on an injured Lois as well as other survivors.
Morning dawned as always in Metropolis, with Lois scrambling to get to work on time. She slurped down a bowl of cereal, buttoned her jacket and swore next time she'd only hit the snooze button twice.
Meanwhile, downtown, Clark was busily frying eggs with his heat vision, and reading the morning edition of the Planet. He breathed a sigh of contentment and hoped Lois was in a good mood today, chuckling at a remembered tantrum of hers.
Finishing his breakfast, Clark headed out the door to work. he walked up to the Planet as Lois was parking. Waiting for her, he opened the door and let her in.
"Morning, Lois. Um, your jacket.." Clark said, as he motioned towards the seam of her jacket that was buttoned crookedly.
Lois rolled her eyes, nudged past Clark, re-arranged her jacket, and kept walking without acknowledging him.
"Yeah, stay out of your way today.." Clark said under his breath as he followed her into the building.
Later that morning, Perry called a staff meeting to discuss the progress of the stories for the after noon edition. It was quickly turning out to be a slow news day.
"Al, what's happening on the sports front?" Perry asked his top sports reporter.
"Nothin', chief. They're all still on strike. The only story I have is the Metropolis chess tourney going on this afternoon." Al said rather angrily.
"I'm not doing any better. This vandalism story is going nowhere." said Lois.
"Let's try to get things going, people. We do need to get a fairly interesting issue out today. Lois, Clark, hit the streets. Maybe a story will fall on you."
"Nicely put, chief." Clark said as he helped Lois out of her chair and ushered her out the door.
"Well, what do you want to do now?" Lois asked Clark as she munched on a chocolate bar picked up from a corner junk food stand.
"Let's go to the museum. I hear there is a new collection of Greek artifacts. Maybe we'll find something interesting to say about those?" Clark suggested.
"Sure, why not. Can't be any less boring than wandering the street." Lois finished the candy bar and tossed the wrapper into the trash can as they headed in the direction of the Metropolis Museum of Natural History.
The museum was fairly crowded for the middle of the day. Lois and Clark explored the museum looking for the Greek Artifacts. They came upon the dinosaur exhibit.
"My favorite! C'mon Clark." she said as she dragged him into the large exhibit hall.
"The artifacts, Lois.." Clark protested mildly, but gave up knowing he had no choice.
"I always wanted a dinosaur as a pet." Lois mused as she looked at the bones of a Velociraptor.
"A dinosaur?" Clark asked surprised.
"Yeah, a Tyrannosaurus Rex."
"It fits, somehow." Clark teasingly poked her in the shoulder.
"Ha, Ha, Mr Mild Mannered. What kind of dinosaur would you have?" Lois asked him genuinely interested in his answer.
"Me? A Pterodactyl."
"Yeah, I envy their freedom of flight."
"Clark, you've been hanging around Superman too much." Lois turned to move on to the next exhibit, which happened to be her T-Rex.
Suddenly the bones began a subtle rattling, then everything began shaking at once. The room began to tilt as everything began to topple over everything else. Clark shielded Lois with his body as the T-Rex exhibit tumbled down around them. The walls of the room suddenly buckled from the movement of the earthquake and the room collapsed. Falling ceiling beams hit Clark squarely on the back. He wasn't braced for an impact that strong and his knees gave out. Lois lost her balance as Clark fell on top of her. The ground stopped shaking as the building settled into it's newly collapsed state.
"Clark? <cough> oww, ohh, Clark?" Lois moved her head as far as she could painlessly. The first thing she noticed was the blackness, and the pain. The second thing she felt was Clark's body over hers move as he began to stir.
"I'm here, Lois." Clark said softly and moved to lay next to her, brushing a tendril of dusty hair off her forehead.
Lois relaxed against him. "Superman…" she said quietly as she drifted back into unconsciousness.
"I'm here, Lois."
Clark looked around trying to assess the situation. He used his x-ray vision to find the best possible way to get them out of the rubble. He was disheartened to find there was no best way. Any major movement of the rubble would bring the rest of the building down on them. He wouldn't risk Lois' life. For once he had to wait until someone rescued him.
He gently blew on some of the dusty cracks to at least open an air passage. Once he felt the coolness of fresh air begin to flow and could see a small ray of light, he concentrated on Lois' injuries. Using his x-ray vision, he could see that her left arm was broken, she had a couple of cracked ribs, and what worried him the most, a possible head injury. He slid out of his jacket, covered her up in it, and used his tie to wipe the grit off her face. He put his arms around her and used his body heat to keep her warm. Laying he head down, he listened to make sure her breathing remained even and tried to ignore the cries for help he couldn't do anything about. For the first time since his superpowers developed, Clark was helpless. It was not a feeling he liked.
Meanwhile, the rest of Metropolis and it's citizens reacted as a city normally would, having just suffered through a major earthquake. Dust settled and people rushed onto the streets, out of still swaying buildings.
Perry White and the Daily Planet staff, scrambling no differently, ran away from the ominously swaying golden globe hovering over the main entrance.
"Jimmy, get out on the streets and get some pictures." Perry told Jimmy from his makeshift office on the street corner. Until the damage inspectors could get to the Planet building Perry wasn't setting foot in it. Not even for the Elvis collection in his office.
"Going, Chief!" Jimmy took off towards the area of town that he'd heard was the most damaged.
Perry sat back down and resumed his head count of employees.
"Anybody seen Lois or Clark?" he asked. He hoped they were alright and getting a great story out of this. Turning up the small radio he had sitting on the TV table he was using for a desk, Perry listened for the latest damage reports.
"The worst damage seems to be in the Siegel and Shuster blocks. I am getting reports that the Metropolis Museum of Natural History building has collapsed. The museum was open for business and there could be casualties. That's all we have for now. Now back to Jerry for the details on the strength of the 'quake."
"Great shades of Elvis. I hope there weren't many people in that building." Perry looked at the chaos around him and, not for the first time, worried about Alice.
Lois finally stirred with a groan against Clark's chest.
"Clark…where are we?" She asked in a small pain filled voice.
"We're trapped in the museum. I think the earthquake toppled the whole building." he told her.
"Do you think Superman knows there are people in here? Owww.." Lois asked touching her head with her unbroken arm. "My head is killing me."
"He knows, Lois. he's only one person, I'm sure there's other buildings down. " Clark said closing his eyes and wishing for the thousandth time he could break out of this building and rescue the people he could hear screaming for him. Above all, he wanted to get Lois out of here.
"Yeah, I guess your right." Lois let out a small chuckle and another groan. "I guess Perry was right. A story did fall on our heads. At least it fell on mine."
Clark smiled in the darkness, realizing that at least Lois' humor was returning. It won't be much longer and she'd be babbling away.
The afternoon began to give way to dusk. The sky darkened and still Lois & Clark hadn't returned to the Planet. Perry was beginning to really worry about them. It wasn't like them at all to let a story this big go by without checking with him. He just hoped they didn't take his crack about the story falling on their heads seriously. Although given their penchant for finding trouble, he was beginning to worry all the more.
Jimmy had come back with pictures from the Shuster block where the Museum is, er, was. The police said there were people trapped inside. It was unknown as to the amount.
"Jimmy, I'm sending you and Ron down to the collapse site. Get me a good article and pictures. With my star reporters MIA you may get a headline." Perry told them and scooted them on their way. "Damn, kids, where are you." Perry looked down the street hoping for the sight of Lois dragging Clark to the Planet building to file her story.
The night air was beginning to take on a chill. Lois began shivering.
"C-c-cold. C-Clark." Lois muttered as she tried to snuggle closer to Clark's body heat.
"Lois, you're burning up." Clark re-covered her with his jacket. Cocooning her in tightly.
"Ah, ow, Clarrrk! My arm! My chest hurts." Lois complained as Clark wrapped her into the jacket.
"Sorry." He loosened the jacket.
Clark ran his hands slowly along her ribcage to feel where she was injured. Lois inhaled sharply and whimpered softly when Clark touched her lower ribs.
"Shh.. you're ok,. It's just a couple broken ribs. I can't tell how badly…"
Clark broke off his sentence suddenly when he realized Lois was staring intently into his eyes.
"Superman?" Lois said in a tiny voice, bringing her unbroken arm to his face to bring him closer. "Oh, Superman, I knew you would rescue me. <oooh,owww..> Don't forget Clark. He's…you're.." Lois drifted back into unconsciousness.
Clark, checking her forehead, realized her fever was getting higher and she was delirious. "Ohh, Lois, hang on for me, ok. I'd get you out of here if I could." Clark resorted to something he never thought he'd have to do. He became one of the voices yelling for help.
"We found another one!" yelled an emergency worker pulling a small child from the rubble. The child whimpered for his mother, who hadn't been found yet.
"We'll find 'er for ya little one." Sam gently handed the tyke to the EMT, and gave his partner a look that said "I hope." and continued carefully digging.
"I wonder where Superman is. This his night off?" Sam said sarcastically as he dug.
"Help!" came a voice just beneath him.
"Here she is, guys. Help me get this wood off her." Sam yelled to the men behind him. Within minutes they had the bedraggled woman out of the building and to the ambulance where her son waited. The men returned to their place in the rubble and continued looking for survivors.
Lois let out a painful cough, and began to stir again. She opened her eyes to pitch blackness. She stiffened and immediately regretted it. Her body ached from head to foot. The pain sharpest in her head and ribs. She felt Clark react to her movements. He gently caressed her face.
"You with me?" he quietly asked.
"Mmm, hmmm. My head really hurts. I must have cracked it good. Are you hurt?" she asked, pain evident in her voice.
"No, um, that is, I don't think so. Nothing hurts really badly. I may have some bruises." he answered hoping she wouldn't question why he wasn't hurt.
"That's good. Will the sun come up soon?" she asked seemingly just wanting to hear his voice.
"I don't know. Should be soon, I think. It's been dark a whi…"
"Clark, will Superman get us out of here?"
He'd almost been expecting the question. He couldn't tell her yes, he couldn't tell her no. Some "Superman" he was. He felt as though he were two people letting her down. He held her closer and told her, "He, I, won't let anything happen to you."
They lay like that for what seemed like hours.
As the sun began to make it's way above the Eastern horizon, morning dawned on the Metropolitans who were beginning to clean their fair city. The main topic was the absence of Superman. No one had seen him since before the quake. Some were angry, feeling that he left when Metropolis needed him most, others were worried, fearing he had been somehow hurt during the quake.
Perry found himself looking up more often than not, hoping to catch a glimpse of the familiar red & blue. Hoping he'd show up with Lois and Clark. Alice set the box of donuts down on the desk in his office. The Planet building had been declared "safe" an hour ago. Perry immediately went into "editor" mode and had the employees that had shown up for work rushing to put together a special earthquake edition of the Daily Planet.
At the site of the collapsed museum, emergency workers were rushing to get to the trapped patrons. The SCU unit had brought over their dogs to help sniff for survivors. Reporters were fighting for "the perfect camera shot." In general, there was chaos.
"Hey! Look what I found!" said Jimmy Oleson, who had been on the site with Ron Carter since the beginning. Jimmy had walked around the yellow tape to get a good picture of what used to be the front entrance of the museum. Picking up the book he's found, he realized it was the museum's guest book. He was flipping through the pages as he walked it to the bedraggled curator. Just as he was handing the book over two names leapt out at him. Lines ten and eleven. Lois Lane. Clark Kent.
"Oh, man. Ron! Hey, Ron!" Jimmy ran to Ron, told him what he'd just found out and sent the reported back to the Planet to tell Perry he'd located Lois and Clark. Then he ran to the nearest fireman and told him he'd found the guest book and that he had friends trapped in the rubble.
The fireman ran to the curator took the book and yelled for his men to take the book and begin taking a census of the survivors and to make note of the patrons still trapped.
Jimmy looked at the ruins with new apprehension. He lifted his camera to take a picture, then lowered it. He bent down to pick up a rock, and turning it over in his hands, he prayed Lois and Clark were alright.
Light filtered through the cracks of the rubble. Clark woke with a start realizing where he was. He listened, relieved to hear Lois breathing evenly in sleep. he felt her forehead and sighed when he realized her fever hadn't gone down any. It seemed like she was warmer.
"Lois.." he whispered, "wake up. Lo-is." He patted her cheek lightly to wake her up.
She began to stir, moaning painfully. She slowly opened her eyes and focused on Clark.
"Superman. I knew you'd rescue me." Lois said in a weak voice.
"Lois, it's… um.. I can't get us out of here without collapsing the rest of the structure. I can't risk your life like that." Clark answered, not caring that he'd probably just blown his identity. Lois's life mattered more than his secret.
"Oh..," Lois muttered. "I understand. Will you stay with me?"
"I won't leave you, Lois." Clark smiled into her hair "I'll never leave you."
"Mmm.." Lois snuggled contentedly against the warmth of Clark's body. "Superman? Do you have an name besides the one I gave you?"
Clark, unprepared for that particular question didn't know how to answer her."Um, I, um.. my…my name is Cl..Kal-El.
"Kal-El? That's your Kryptonian name?" Lois finished the question with a whimper as a pain shot through her chest.
Clark used his x-ray vision to try to see what had happened.
"Shh.., it's ok. You have a couple broken ribs, so it will hurt. Try not to move around. Let me tighten the jacket. It may hurt, but it'll feel better eventually.
"Okay. Oww,ow." Lois clenched her hand around Clark's shirt as he tightened the jacket.
"Better?" Clark asked as he resettled next to her, laying her head on his arm.
"Mmhm. Sup- Kal. Can, can I call you that?"
"Sure, Lois." He rather liked hearing her call him that. The name, though unfamiliar, was his, and it meant more than he realized to hear her use his birth name.
"Kal, I don't want to die. Not without telling Clark.." Lois' voice faded asshe started to lose consciousness again.
"Oh, no, Lois, stay with me, here. You can't go to sleep again, your fever is too high." Clark lightly rubbed her cheek to keep her awake.
"Clark..I..I'm scared." Lois said suddenly lucid. "I really don't want to die. I haven't done anything yet. I'm not even close to finishing my novel…eeep!" Lois let out a yelp as the rubble they were trapped beneath began to shift and dirt fell on her face.
Clark shifted so that he could shelter her with his body, cradling her head beneath his chin. He could hear voices closer this time. He began yelling for help again. This time his call was answered. The boards covering them were lifted and Clark had to shield his eyes from the sudden brightness of the sun.
"We've found more survivors!!" Yelled Sam as he helped Clark to his feet.
"Clark! Don't leave me!" Lois cried as she felt Clark being taken from her side.
"Lois, I'm right here. I'm not going anywhere." Turning to his rescuer Clark said, " Be careful with her, she's hurt badly, and..Thank you for not giving up on us."
Sam gave Clark a quick once-over for injuries, surprised not to find any. He clapped Clark on the back and replied, "You're welcome son. You're more than welcome." He bent down to check Lois.
"I need an EMT and a stretcher up here, people!" Sam yelled in the direction of the ambulance. "You're going to be ok, we've got you now" he said, turning to Lois.
"Clark, where's Clark?"
"Here, Lois." Clark bent down and took her hand to reassure her he wasn't going anywhere.
The emergency team arrived and began their work on Lois. They hustled Clark out of the way as they put her on the stretcher.
"C.K!" Jimmy yelled as he saw Clark and started running towards him. "Oh man, I was so worried about you two. Is Lois ok?" Jimmy asked suddenly concerned as he saw Lois being gently put onto a stretcher.
"I think she'll be fine, now." "I have to.." Clark said pointing to Lois.
"Right. I'll see you later." Jimmy said as he moved away to let Clark go to Lois. He snapped a picture, and started walking back to the Planet.
Lois was sitting up in her hospital bed when Clark walked in with a bouquet of yellow flowers.
"Oh, Clark, their beautiful."
"And you are looking much more beautiful than the last time I saw you." Clark told her as he sat down on the edge of her bed.
"Thank you" Lois said, beaming. She looked at Clark and took his hand. "Clark. I want to thank you for what you did."
"Did?" Clark asked, confused.
"I was delirious and I thought you were Superman."
"But, Lois…" Clark stopped as she put her fingers to his lips.
Lois began again, "You didn't think twice. You assumed Superman's identity, and you did it for me. That means a lot.
"It made you feel better, -that- was important to me." Clark told her, slightly disappointed that she hadn't figured out that he was Superman, but also glad that she hadn't.
"You're such a great friend, Clark. What would I do without you?" Lois said squeezing his hand. "Don't answer that!"
"I wouldn't dream of it Lois. I wouldn't dream of it." Clark said grinning.