What If …

By Mary (Starr@nando.net)

Summary: Jimmy and CK's foster child, Jackie, try to get pictures for a story. A first-season story.

Haven't seen much fanfic lately, sooo I typed up something I wrote last year. I have no tapes to fall back on, and a wild imagination, so this isn't going to be exactly like an episode guide, comprende? Thanks to the weirdness of previous eps, I've reverted to the first season. Comments and flames are welcome, comments more than flames.—Starr@nando.net


"CK, it's time to close up!" Jimmy Olsen leaned over Clark Kent's shoulder to yell in his ear.

"Ow! I'm done, okay? Do you have any of my pictures?"

"Yeah, sure. Need some for your *next* story?" Jimmy asked, raising his eyebrow and handing Clark Kent an envelope. Jimmy was trying his best to get into the mainstream of journalism, and would do almost anything to get there.

"Sure. Tell you what; I've got a date with Cat, go ahead and check my computer for the story." Clark handed Jimmy a clump of keys.

"Cool! Are you sure?"

"Yeah. Jackie will make sure you don't try anything."


"Yeah. Kid about your age. Don't worry about it. She doesn't bite." Clark said, grinning, and reached down to switch off the computer at his desk.

"Catch you later, CK."

"Yeah, I'll see you tomorrow." Jimmy watched Clark walk to the door, then went to the back to the lockers to get his jacket. "Who the heck is Jackie?"( Female incarnation of Jack—don't ask )*


Jackie took a Cranberries cd out of its case and turned up the bass on her cd player. She skipped through the numbers until she got to Linger, her favorite. She pressed the play button, and then started dancing the steps from her ballet routine.

Jimmy ran both hands through his hair then reached down to turn the key in the lock. His thoughts kept chasing each other back and forth through his head. Who was Jackie? He or she? Friend material? and hovering above all these, Where the heck is CK's computer?

As Jimmy walked through the door, he was hit by a Cranberries song playing at full blast. He followed the sound until he reached the doorway to Jackie's room. He peered around the corner. Inside the room was a black-haired girl wearing jeans and a long-sleeve fitted top, doing some kind of ballet. Suddenly the girl snapped around and stared straight at him. Jimmy cleared his throat, and trying to talk over the music, asked "Are you Jackie?"


He reached over and pressed the pause on the cd player.

"I said, are you Jackie?"

"Yeah." the girl said defensively, pushing her shoulder-length hair out of her face.

"Um, I'm Jimmy. Jimmy Olsen? Clark sent me over to check out his story."

"Oh." Jackie's guard suddenly went down, and she smiled.

"You're the photographer he almost always has working for him."

"That's me." Jimmy said, grinning. "Do you know where his last story is?"

"Yeah. But you might have trouble getting any pictures for it. Its about those chemicals that were stolen from StarLabs."

"Oh yeah. CK was telling me about that."

Jackie nodded, looking Jimmy up and down, finally noticing what he looked like. (apology to Micheal Landes worshippers-I can't picture this guy as anyone but JW)

He had shaggy brown hair parted to one side, and was wearing a jean jacket and a pair of jeans that fit him *just* right. (<vbeg>)

"SO, let's go look at the story." she said, trying to fill the silence that the missing music had left.

"So where the heck IS it?"

Jackie broke out laughing, and pulled him over to Clark's desk.*


"Clark, I have a lead!"

Clark looked up from his computer screen to see his new partner standing by his desk, holding a sheet of paper in one hand.

"What is it?"

"Well," Lois said, positioning herself on the edge of his desk, "You know those chemicals that were stolen form StarLabs?"

"Mmhm." Clark answered, saving his work and turning to face her.

"It turns out the chemicals were being tested for the military. They're supposed to enhance memory, but they were only in the experimental stages." (like I said, no tapes )


"Whoever uses this stuff can memorize everything they see, like that." She snapped her fingers to empathize her point. "So whoever uses these things will become suddenly, smart."

"And your point is?"

"ARGGH! Clark, are you hearing a thing I'm saying?"

"Lois, you're sitting right in front of my face. What am I supposed to be paying attention to?"

Lois stood up away from the desk, then leaned forward on her palms so that they were face to face. "Imagine being able to remember every detail of everything you do. You could assemble smart bombs after seeing it done only once."

"Oooo, smart marine plus smart bomb."

"Kent! Okay, so you won't take me seriously, I can handle that. But will you help me get the clearance to StarLabs so I can check their security videos?"

"All right." Clark said with a lopsided grin.

"Kent, you are *so* annoying."*


Jackie took off her sandals and tiptoed towards the door.

"I don't think sooo!" Clark's voice floated over from the couch, where he was sitting, watching a Duke-Carolina basketball game. ( go, Duke!)

"Shoot." Jackie muttered under her breath. She walked towards the couch and leaned on one of the arms to pull her sandals back on. "How do you do that?"

"Hey, super-hearing has its advantages. Where are you going?" he asked, taking a few seconds to take in her skirt and sweater ensemble.

"I'm going with Jimmy to get some pictures for *your* stories." she said, finally getting the last strap of the sandal over her heel.

"Oh." He grinned. "Second date *already*. What do you guys do on these dates?"

"Come on, Clark! There is *nothing* juicy about this."

"Well, you should have heard Jimmy yesterday at the Planet. All he could do was bug me asking about * you*."

"Oh?" Jackie said, eyebrows raised. What did he ask?"

"Bye, Jackie."


"I'll tell you when you get back."

Jackie sighed and walked up the steps to the door.

"Three pointer! YES, YES, YES!!!"

Jackie laughed and stepped out the door. She spotted Jimmy standing at the bottom of the metal stairway that led to Clark's apartment door.

"Hi Jimmy." Jackie said, her smile growing. She took the steps two at a time, out of habit more than anticipation. Jimmy pulled something from behind his back, a single yellow rose.

"Ohhh…Thank you." Jackie crooned, arriving at the bottom of the stairway and taking the rose.

"The yellow…it's for friendship." He told her, looking awkward. "CK told me you weren't exactly the romantic type."

"Depends." Jackie said teasingly. "Where to?"

"Oh, yeah. I got a tip that there might be something going on around the corner of Main and Saint Josephine."

"So why don't we go check it out! Umm…Jimmy, where's your car?"

"Oh, that. I have…"Jimmy pointed to the corner, "Lois's car. No eating, drinking, or sneezing, and try to keep the breathing down."*


"Arrgh! Jimmy, could you help me with this?"

Jackie was hanging from the third step from the top of a fire escape that overlooked the corner of Main and St Josephine.

Jimmy reached down and grabbed the camera she was getting close to dropping, then helped her up the last three steps.

"I think—"Jackie stated, looking down at the deserted street. "—that your lead might be a bust."

"Oh, come on, Jackie. Bobby never lies if you feed him."(who knows, maybe Jimmy had Bobby first)

Jackie nodded. "Who?"

"My source. Actually, the Planet shares him…whoever gets to him first gets the lead." Jimmy said, grinning, and leaned back against the side of the fire escape. They sat in silence for a while.

Finally, Jackie straightened up, staring down at the streets below.

"Look," she whispered, pointing across the street to the entrance of an abandoned apartment complex. "There's someone down there."

Jimmy turned and reached into one of the camera bags, pulling out his camera and a folded tripod. He started snapping pictures, not noticing when a man reached from the open window behind him and put a piece of cloth over Jackie's nose and mouth. She made a small noise, then collapsed. Jimmy heard her hit the metal floor of the fire escape, and turned around.

"Jackie, are you…"

Jimmy looked up just in time to see a board swinging down to connect with his head


Clark got up from the basketball game and sighed. Duke had lost by just one point. Again.

He turned off the TV, stretched, then went through the house. He could hear Jackie's cd player now that the TV sound was off.

"I *hate* it when she leaves that thing on!"

He walked up the stairway into her room, and switched off the player. A piece of paper came loose from the mess stacked on top, and floated to the floor. Clark picked it up.

"Hmm. 'Meet Jimmy at seven thirty. Dress to impress?" Clark laughed. "I knew she wouldn't wear a *skirt* for no reason." He checked his watch, as if hoping to find an excuse to look for them. It was almost eight, but he decided he might as well check on the pair. He twirled into the superman costume and flew off the balcony.

Clark, as Superman, finally spotted the pair sitting on a fire escape on the corner of St. Josephine and Main. He made a mental note of the location, and returned to his apartment.


Two hours later Clark got worried. He went outside and climbed into his car. (this CK has wheels)

After a short drive, he finally arrived at the corner where he'd seen them earlier.

"This can't be right." He said, standing in the convertible to look around.(Like I said, this CK has *wheels*)

Just then, he heard moaning. "What the..?" He looked up, and saw Jimmy on the second floor fire escape, tied and gagged. He jumped up onto the hanging ladder, and clambered up to where Jimmy was lying with a bad cut on his head. Clark pulled out the gag.

"Jimmy! Jimmy, wake up!" Clark shook him until Jimmy's eyes fluttered open.

"Wha? whoa!" Jimmy sat up, his eyes wide. Clark moved around to untie his hands.

"What happened? The last thing I remember…" he looked around. "Where's Jackie?"

"I don't know. I just saw you here."

Jimmy bit his lip, waggling his fingers to get the blood to start flowing again. "I should have seen him coming! If I just hadn't been taking those stupid pictures, I could have done something." Jimmy held his hand up to the cut on his head.

"Hey, Jimmy, don't let it eat you up. We can use your pictures to catch the guy."

"But if I hadn't been taking them, I could have *done* something!" Jimmy moaned, pulling his fingers away from the cut to realize that it was still bleeding.

"It's okay. Jackie can take care of herself. You, however, could use a doctor."

"Are you sure she'll be okay?"

"Positive. It's not your fault, so don't beat yourself up about it."

"I just feel so bad. I mean, I barely know her, and 'poof', she's outta here. Gone, zap, pow, bang…"

"You're babbling. I think it's time to go to the doctor."

"I'm not babbling. I'm making *conversation*."

"Oh, brother."

"You have a brother?"


"Thanks for coming." Lois said sarcastically, throwing a StarLabs security video onto Clark's desk.

"Sorry. A lot's been going on lately." Clark muttered, tapping his pencil on his desk.

"Yeah, right! Like *what*?"

" Like Jackie was *kidnapped*!" Clark snapped, glaring at her.

Lois mouthed out the word 'Oops', shrugging. "Sorry. Is that why Jimmy's been so…out of it?"

"I guess. I didn't know they were *that* much together."

"Oh," Lois said, "you know Jimmy. Before you know it, he'll have forgotten all about it. Yesterday's news. That sort of thing." she said, her tone amazingly positive.

"I don't know. I think she likes him. She wore a *skirt*…"he stopped and frowned. "I think she still has one of my credit cards."

"Clark, get off it. Let's check out video. It'll get your mind off all this complicated stuff."

She shoved the video into a VCR mounted on the wall, found the remote, and started the video.

"Here's the part where she takes the chemicals."

"Mm." Clark mumbled, still tapping his pencil on the edge of his desk.

"Check it out—That girl can't be over fourteen."

"What's with the pig?"


Clark pointed to a dark shape on the edge of the screen.

"Well, it does sort of look like…"

"Maybe it's to sniff out the chemicals." Clark suggested.

Lois made a weird face and grabbed the remote, pressing the fast-forward button. The tape's view changed to a camera mounted somewhere in a parking garage. A car drove by, and Lois pressed the still button.

"That was the only vehicle the night guard saw, and I've already checked the plates. It's stolen, but a cop found it this morning on the outer limits of Metropolis." She said, then added, under her breath, "That's funny. I think I know that guy." She shook her head and played the shot back.

Just then, Jimmy walked by, a file folder in one hand.

"Hey Jimmy, do you have my car?" Lois asked, stopping him.

"Oh, yeah. It's outside."

"You feeling any better?" Clark asked.

Jimmy held his free hand up to the bandage.

"Okay, I guess."

"Do you want to help us figure out who this guy might be?" Lois asked, pointing up to the stilled video.

"Ah, no thanks, CK, ever since Jackie disappeared, the Chief's been running me overti…"

He glanced up at the screen, and almost dropped the folder.

"Ohmigod, CK, that's the guy in my pictures," he said, practically gaping. He pulled a photo out of his jacket pocket, and handed it to Clark. Lois grabbed it out of his hands, then grinned triumphantly.

"I KNEW IT!" Lois exploded. Half the news room turned to look and see what was happening. "Oops. Anyway," she said more quietly, "I remember doing an article on that guy a few years ago. He was kicked out of Starlabs for stealing hazardous chemicals. I think his name was Jared something. But he's in jail now."

"Since when has that stopped you?" Clark asked, pulling his suit jacket off the back of his chair.

Lois flashed Clark a wicked grin.


Lois snapped her gum and pulled up on the strap of her hot pink bustier. Clark gave her a wondering look. Lois glared.

"It's worked before." she said indignantly.

Clark didn't say anything, and Lois couldn't see his eyes through the dark shades he was wearing. She had told him to dress for the part, and slyly grinned at how well he'd done. He was wearing a worn jean jacket and a pair of ripped jeans, with dark shades covering his eyes.

"Where'd you get the jacket?"

"Jimmy loaned it to me. He's still blaming himself for this entire kidnapping thing."

"Poor kid. Well, here goes nothin'." she said, switching her voice to a poor New York accent.

"Acting, too?"

"Shh." Lois whispered, walking up to the guard.

"Hi." she said, propping herself against the wall on one hand.

"We're looking for Jared Cararre`s. He here?"

The guard straightened up.

"Let me check," he said, and walked down the hallway.

Clark leaned over towards Lois and whispered, "I bet you ten bucks he's out on parole by now. It's been three *years*, Lois, and it was only for the theft and possible usage of hazardous materials."

"Don't forget attempted murder." Lois said, a little grin playing at the corners of her mouth.

"*Twenty* bucks."

"You're on." Lois whispered, then turned to face the guard as he returned down the hallway.

"Jared is out on parole."

"Parole, huh?" she said, snapping her gum and muttering under her breath.

Clark spoke up. "Do you know who's watching him?"

"Yeah," the guard said, "Some old guy."

"Do ya rememba his name?" Lois asked, trying to get her accent right.

"No, but it should be on file. I'll be right back."

Clark leaned over to whisper to Lois. "You got a twenty anywhere in that outfit?"

Lois stuck out her tongue.


*Lois and Clark walked into Perry's office.

"Hmph." Lois picked up an Elvis statue to look at it more closely. "Looks like he's not here yet." Lois said, peering out the window that looked into the news room.

Clark sat in a chair in front of Perry's desk, resting his ankle on the opposite knee. "No kidding."

"What's with you?"

Clark sighed. "You know how Jimmy was acting just before Jackie was kidnapped? You know, how he was asking about her after their first date?"

Lois looked up from the statue, moving it from hand- to-hand.

"I never told her what he was asking about. I know it's not that huge, but it makes me feel guilty. And I should have asked where she was going. I had to…had to find a note she wrote just to find out where she was."

"What, did you think they had ulterior motives?" Lois asked, grinning. Clark was about to say something when Lois spotted Perry approaching out of the corner of her eye.

"Perry!" She whispered, diving into the chair beside him. Clark glared pointedly at the statue. Lois jumped up and propped it back onto the shelf just as Perry walked in.

"So, what's the story?" asked their fifty-some editor in chief.

"Well," Lois said, "The guy who's watching Jared is someone named Lanny Gates. He's almost seventy, but the police have him attached to some murders from about five years ago."

"Jared was just an old accomplice-slash-assassin that owed him a favor. Nobody ever could prove the assassin part, though." Clark added.

Lois nodded and drew a police record out of the folder she'd brought with her, and tossed it onto the desk in front of their editor. Perry White turned the sheet around to face him, then started grinning.

"I hate to burst your bubble, honey, but it says here, Jared Carare's was arrested three years ago and sentenced for life *without* parole. You just finished one of the Planet's longest wild goose chases."

Lois groaned and slumped face-first onto the desk. Perry flashed Clark a look that could only mean 'oops'. Their editor slunk out of the office, mumbling something about needing some decaf. Clark grinned, and whistling innocently, took a folded five by eight photo out of his pocket.

He'd asked the guard for the security footage for the day that of Jared's supposed parole hearing, and had found and scanned a picture that showed Lanny and Jared leaving the jail.( Trust me, if all this legal mumbo-jumbo sounds fishy, it's 'cause IHNI what I'm talking about.)

He slipped out the door, and almost ten seconds later, Lois's scream could be heard across the news room."YEEESSSS!"

Lois raced out of Perry's office and gave CK a huge hug. "Thank-you-thank-you-thank-you!" She raced off to the elevators and jammed the down button, giving Clark a thumbs-up.

Clark whistled and walked over to his desk. "You're welcome." He reached into his drawer and pulled out the enlargement he'd asked Jimmy to make of the same photo. Yesterday.


Lois fell onto the peach couch in her apartment, exhausted. She'd given copies of the picture to every source she'd ever had or heard of. Which had stressed her out in a big way. It's hard to remember the passwords for 30 odd clubs, and remember what kind of bribes for each source. Bobby-Bigmouth was easy enough, but other sources went into the majorly abstract, and some wanted something *else*. But thanks to her brown belt, she didn't have much to worry about.

She had been watching Sliders (my fav—to return as mid-season replacement in US) for about half an hour when the phone rang. She groaned and turned down the volume on the TV, which was now showing a commercial for the X- files.

Lois reached back over her shoulder and picked up the receiver. "'Lo?" she said, staring up at the ceiling.

"Lois, this is Clark."

"Oh, hi! What's up?"

"Well…you remember the girl that robbed the chemicals from Starlabs, the one with the pig?"

"Yeah." she said, picking lint off the sleeve of her sweatshirt.

"Well, they caught her at the orphanage, trying to get her little sister out. Could you see if you can talk to her?" Lois stopped picking at her sweatshirt and turned towards the TV. It was the first ep of a new season, and she was still wondering if Quinn had made it.

"Well…I guess I could come." Lois said, pushing a blank tape into the VCR. "Where are you?" she asked, pressing the record button.

"At the Planet."

"Okay, see you in twenty. Bye." Lois hung up the phone, found her carkeys, and left her apartment.


Lois walked towards the dark entrance of the Planet. Today had been a slow day for news, and at nine on Wednesday night, there was barely anyone left.

Clark met her at the elevators. "This kid's definitely taken the chemical. She's been eyeing my computer since she got here, and I was scared even to leave her with Jimmy."

They stepped out of the elevator and hurried to Perry's office. They got into the office just in time to see the kid, a blond girl of about twelve, screw the top plate back onto Perry's antique typewriter.

"What did you do?" Clark asked, trying to sound put-out while using his x-ray vision to check.

"I just fixed the J button. It was jammed."

"What about that little wire?" Clark asked, tapping his glasses back up the bridge of his nose.

"How would *you* know about that?" she accused.

"MYOB *What is it*?"

The girl pressed the return button, and Clark heard a little ding.

"I fixed the bell.

"Oh." Clark grinned sheepishly. "Okay! This is Lois Lane, my partner." He said, dragging her over from the back of Perry's office, where she was seemingly trying to blend in with the wallpaper.

"Hi." The blond kid said, extending her hand. "Clara Prince."

"Lois Lane." There was a long silence as the two measured each other up.

"Ahem!" Clark coughed, stopping a mounting staring contest. "Lois has volunteered to take you in until there's another opening at the orphanage." Both females grimaced.

"The orphanage!? Do you think I'd be here if I liked it there?" They treat us like *kids*!"

Lois took Clark by the arm and scowled. "Clark, we have to talk. Outside." She pushed him out of Perry's office without waiting for an answer, closed the door, and turned to face him. "*What* are you getting me into, farmboy?" she growled, grabbing his tie to bring his head down to eye level.

"Well, *I* couldn't take her." he said, loosening the tie and slipping it over his head.

"Why not?" Lois asked, fumbling with the tie, then tossing it over onto Clark's desk.

"Not enough room?"

"I've seen the size of your apartment. Try again."


Lois's scowl disappeared turning into a frown. "But I don't know how to take care of kids. I don't get along with them. They act weird."

"Lois, you've been a kid before. And *you* act weird."

"I don't get along with kids.

Clark took her arm and lead her back into Perry's office. "I'm sure you'll do just fine."


Lois stood in front of her apartment, trying to get the keys out of her purse while balancing three grocery bags and a Diet Coke she'd picked up at a drive-thru. She finally managed to pick out the right key when her coke fell out of the upper-most bag, the ice skittering across the carpet and the drink soaking in to create a dirt-looking brown spot on the blue carpeting. "Ugh. Landlady's going to *love* that one."

She shoved the key into the lock, and opened the door just in time to see a little pot-bellied pig scrabble across the wood floor. Lois screamed and dropped the grocery bags, thinking of the urban myth of rats the size of house pets. As soon the small creature reached her coke and started lapping it up, Lois realized what it was. "CLARA!"

A small blond girl appeared from the guest room with an innocent grin on her face. "What?"

"You know what. Where'd this pig come from?"

Clara shrugged, looking down and covering a grin with one hand.

"Clara…"She said in a warning tone, and looked down just in time to see the little pig start working on a box of chocolates from one of the fallen bags. "Those are for Clark!" She yelled, swatting at it with her purse.

The pig ran, squealing, to hide behind Clara.

Lois straightened up, gathering herself, then took the grocery bags into her arms and tromped into the kitchen.

Clara closed the door, then locked it and followed her. "Clark?" She asked with a sly grin, watching Lois trying to salvage what was left of the chocolate.

"My partner. Jackie was kidnapped a few days ago. And you are in *very* big trouble, young lady."

"Jackie who?" Clara asked, a contemplating frown on her face. Lois had seen that look once before. She remembered Lex Luthor having a look like that when she interviewed him about the disappearance of one of his top scientists. Lois lost her edge, her reporter's instinct sensing Clara was getting ready to spill.

"Jackie was his foster kid. Clark thought she was kidnapped by this guy named Jared Cararre`s, but he's been arrested."

Clara sat silently, the same frown still on her face.

"Hey, Clara." Lois whispered, sitting on the couch beside her. "`S There something you want to tell me?"


"Are you *sure*?"

"Yeah." Clara said with an uneasy grin, and got up to go to the guest room. "Sorry about the chocolate, Lois."

"It's okay. Get some sleep." Lois sat on the couch for a few moments, trying to think of what was bothering Clara. Oh, well. she thought, heading out to buy another box of chocolates, She'll tell me if its bugging her enough.


Lois ran into the Planet's main office, and stopped in front of Clark's desk to drop off the chocolates. He wasn't at his desk. In fact, almost the entire staff was gone, with the exception of Jimmy, who was doing some early morning work in the darkroom, and Perry, who was locked in his office with the shades drawn. Lois let out a sigh and collapsed into Clark's chair.

Jimmy came out of the darkroom, an envelope in one hand. "Hey Lois, What's up?"

Lois looked up, startled, not realizing Jimmy had already finished developing his pictures.

"Oh," Lois said, pulling her wallet out of her purse, "I found something weird when I went to the bank last night…" She held up a handful of multi-colored papers that resembled monopoly money. Jimmy took a bright yellow piece and read the subtitle under an amateur cartoon of a kid with glasses.

"Smartkid's money. Two dollars. Since when did Clara start the counterfeiting biz?"

"It's not hers. This was coming out of the cash machine last night."

"Huh." Jimmy said with a grin. "I'm going to see if I can get some pictures. You *are* going to do a story on this?"

"Yeah. I'm just going to wait Clark. I wonder where he is." she mused as Jimmy walked to the elevators with his camera in one hand.

As those words came from Lois's mouth, Clark was arriving back at his apartment after a night long search for Jackie. Clark rattled his keys in the lock, by habit. Once he had walked in on Jackie while she was in the middle of her ballet routine. As soon as Jackie noticed he was there, she made a face, flipped him off, and ducked for cover to keep him from frying her finger, something he'd done twice already. That night she got him back. He flew in his sleep, and she *super*glued him with saran wrap. It took him the entire morning to get the stuff off.

He stoped rattling his keys, smiling at the memory. He sighed, and went ahead and opened the door. As he walked down the three steps to the living room, he heard his answering machine beeping.

That's funny, he thought to himself, taking off his suit jacket and throwing it over the back of his couch. That thing hasn't worked since January.

The machine beeped again, and Clark shrugged and pressed the button. An old man's voice came in through the little speaker.

"Hello Kent, we have your foster-child. If you want to see her again, do what we say and don't even think about calling the police. If we hear as much as a siren…we'll tell the world about your little 'secret'. And looking for us as Superman won't help either."

Clark pressed his lips together until they were a small white line. He pressed the rewind button and played back the message, stopping it before the old man said anything about Superman. He flashed over to his modem's phone, which used another line, and gave himself a hang-up call, letting it cover up the 'Superman'. He flashed back to the answering machine, took out the tape, and headed back for the office.


Lois was sticking the counterfeit bills into an envelope to send to Starlabs, when Clark came in out of the elevator. Lois had been waiting at Clark's desk since Jimmy had left ten minutes before, and was so deep in her work that she didn't hear Clark come in. In fact, it sounded to him like she was still talking to Jimmy.

Clark crept over to his desk, trying not to startle her. He listened to her muttering. "It's not like he's actually still going with Cat. They haven't been out since Jackie disappeared."

"Hi, Lois."

Lois popped up from her chair, bashing her thighs on her desk in the process.

"Ow! How long have you been here?"

"Long enough." he said with a lopsided grin. Lois blushed, something that only happened on rare occasions.

"And," he continued, "I was hoping you might want to see a movie ."Lois grinned. "That is, since Jimmy can't come." he teased. Lois gave him a light shove.

"How about tonight?" he asked.

"Fine, fine." Lois pulled one of the bills back out of the envelope, and handed it to Clark. "Clark, have a look at these."

"Let me guess. Clara's gotten bored?"

"That's what Jimmy thought."

"That's what happens when you have a kid. Anything weird about you, you can blame on them."

"*Have* you seen this before, Clark?"

He had, while he was Superman, and it was because of a women who was going to commit suicide because she couldn't withdraw her life savings. It seemed the smartkids had also taken real money for the fake replacements.

"I've seen it."

"Do you have any idea of who might have made it?"

"I think Lex does stuff like that."

"Clark, will you lay off him! As soon as I tell you I like the guy you go after him like you're insanely jealous or something. You're not *jealous*, are you?"

Clark colored, "No… it's just that you don't ever seem to notice he seems to have something to do with about half the crime in the *city*!"

"Clark, only the people that *work* for him commit crimes. And almost everyone one in Metropolis works for him, one easy or another." Lois shrugged, then started walking towards the elevators. "Come on, farmboy, we've got a story and a deadline."

"Gimme a second," Clark said, opening his top drawer and dropping in the answering machine's tape. He jogged to catch up with Lois, who was already halfway up the ramp to the elevators.

Before the doors shut, Lois could be heard saying to Clark," And about that movie: don't you even *dare* think we're sitting in the back row."


"So," Clark said as the movie theater's house lights came on, "How's Clara?"

"She's fine, but her *pig* ate my box of chocolates!"

"Well," Clark said, standing up and heading for the back exit, "Life is like a box of…"



"Lois, turn!" Clark reached out and grabbed the steering wheel just in time to avoid running head-on into Clara's pig. Lois stood on the brakes, stopping the car with a squeal.

"We're he-ere." Clark said, a hysterical grin on his face.

Lois rolled her eyes, maneuvering the jeep closer to the curb. She stepped out and picked up the shaking pot- bellied pig. "It's okay, Socrates." She crooned, rocking him.

Clark stopped checking for injuries to the car and grinned at her. "Socrates?"

"It's a *nice* name."

"For a pig? I though he ate your chocolates!"

"Well, he's been very nice about it." Lois retorted childishly.

"I'll see you tomorrow, Lois." Clark said, laughing and stepping away from her car, then starting down the sidewalk.

"Bye, Clark!"

"See-ya, Lois." Clark yelled back, walking to the corner and hailing a cab. Lois watched the cab pull away, following it with her eyes until it turned a corner and disappeared out of sight.

She sighed and carried Socrates up the steps and set him down so that she could open the front door. Socrates dashed in, leaving Lois to walk down the narrow hallway by herself. The door to her apartment was hanging open.

"Clara?" She heard a crash from her living room." Clara! What's going on?" She skidded into the living room to see Clara sitting in front of Lois's dismantled cable box with a screwdriver in her hand, crying.

"What happened?"

Clara looked up, her eyes red. "The smart stuff wore off. I can't remember anymore." she moaned, wiping her eyes.

"400 channels and *nothing* on." Lois groaned a phrase that had just popped into her head, making Clara laugh. Lois kneeled down and took the screwdriver out of her hand. "Well, if you think you're okay, I'm going to call Clark and see if he knows any good repairmen."

"Lois? Has he found out anything about his foster kid?"

"Clara, what do you know about Jackie?"

"I can't tell you. Lanny'd kill me."


Clara started crying again. "I can't remember how to get in. I CAN'T TELL!" she screamed, and ran into the guest room, slamming the door behind her.

"Clara! Clara, I'm sorry." Lois yelled through the door, rattling the doorknob. "Clara? Where is it you can't remember how to get in?"

"Our hideout." Clara sobbed. "I can't remember how to work the codes."

"Is Jackie there?" There was a silence, and Lois heard a small clattering noise. "Is she there, Clara?"


"Okay, Clara, I'm going to go call Clark. Will you be all right?"

"Mmhm." She sniffled.

Lois dashed into the living room and dived onto the couch. She reached behind her, fumbled for the phone, and punched in Clark's number.

"C'mon, Clark…Pick up, pick-up, pick.."


"Clark! You remember the guy in the security pictures, the guy who was appointed to watch Jared Carre`s?"


"Well, Clara's smartstuff' wore off, and she said something about *Lanny* having Jackie."

"Lois, she probably was so messed up she didn't know *what* she was talking about. Lanny's in jail too, remember?"

"Not according to Clara. Clark, she hasn't lied to me *once*."

"Oh, yeah, she only tied you up for twenty minutes to see if her new chemical worked."

"Details, details."

"Did Jackie say anything about where 'Lanny' might be?"

" Just the hideout. She said she couldn't remember the codes." Lois heard papers rustling over the phone.

" Aha. It says in Larry's file he was busted and killed in an underground lab he *called* the Hideout. It also had some major security, blah, blah, blah…"more shuffling papers, "Get this: The security systems were built by LexCorp."

"Clark." Lois warned.

"Sorry. How's Clara doing, now?"

"Okay, I guess. She's been pretty quiet since the 'smartstuff' wore off." There was a silence, and Lois figured Clark was nodding. She heard the papers shuffling again.

"Bye, Lois, talk to you later."

"G'bye." Lois hung up the phone and got up from her couch to check on Clara. She walked down the hall and knocked on the door. "Clara?"

The door swung open. Lois got a confused look on her face as she scanned the room. The window was open. Clara was gone.


Lois sped towards the Planet. Where could Clara have gone? She wouldn't go back to the orphanage, and Lois had no idea where Lanny Gates' *hideout* was. God, what time *is* it? Lois searched for her watch. Crud. It was almost midnight. Wonderful, she thought, Perry's going to think I've gone fruitcake. Lois pulled up in front of the Daily Planet as Jimmy ran out the front door.

"Hey, Jimmy! What're you doing here so late?"

Jimmy leaned in her window. "Hi Lois. I was working with the shots I got when Jackie was kidnapped, to see if I could find anything."

"Well, we think a guy named Lanny Gates has her. Not your hitman. I'm going to check the files for the location of his old hideout."

"I'm definitely in!" Jimmy said, "Just let me get some extra film."

Lois nodded and took the key out of the ignition, following Jimmy into the Planet. They almost crashed into a couple coming out of the elevator.

"Oh, sorry!" Jimmy yelped, then stopped. "Jackie?"

The girl looked up. "Jimmy, run!"

The man with Jackie pulled out a gun. "Sorry kiddies, but nobody's going nowhere." He hacked a little, then laughed. "Who'd have ever thought, while getting rid of my evidence, that I'd find more hostages."

Jackie reached for Jimmy's hand an squeezed it reassuringly. She turned to the old man. "Superman's going to save us."

The old man frowned. "Shut up the psycho-babble. I know who he is, and he's not coming anywhere near you unless he want's his identity spread all over Metropolis." His wrinkled face folded into a grin as he looked over at Lois. "Wouldn't that be cute. The whole city would know all about your partner."

Lois frowned. What did Clark have to do with it?


Clark got out of the taxi outside the gate to a dump, and re-checked the page from Larry's file. He frowned, and walked through the chain-link gate, pushing down on the frame of his glasses to use his X-ray vision. He quickly found the elevator to the hideout, and nudged the glasses back up the bridge of his nose with a triumphant grin. He flashed through combinations until the elevator door opened, leaving the code panel smoking.

Clark again lowered his glasses to peer through the elevator wall, but the sides were lead-lined. He stepped in uncertainly, and the elevator jerked into motion. After about a minute, the elevator stopped. Clark stepped out and looked around at his surroundings. An old man appeared out of the shadows to his right. He pulled out a gun, and dragged someone out from behind him.

"Lois!" Clark yelled, moving forward.

"Unh, unh, unh." The old man warned, holding the gun up to Lois's head. Lois blinked in the bright lights, slumping like a drunkard.

"You drugged her."

"Clark Kent, I believe. You're a very observant man. Does it help that you're Superman, or did you get it from your years of reporting?"

Lois looked up and giggled, folded over Larry's arm. "Clarkie's wearing span-dex."

Clark flashed behind Larry to take his gun, and a shot went off. Lois, now hanging over Clark's shoulder, gave a yelp.

Larry laughed an eccentric laugh. "How stupid do you think I am? I knew you'd do that, so there went your foster-girl. Congratulations."

Clark's eyes burned. "You…"

"Yeah, right, Larry. Your plots never work."

Lois looked up at the new voice, looking confused. "Clara?" she started muttering under her breath.

Clark looked over." What are *you* doing here?"

Clara glanced over at him. "I guess you didn't do that much background on *me*. Or you might have known that Larry Gates is my grandfather. As soon as he supposedly died he stuck me in that orphanage. The smartstuff was pretty much just so that I could help out with the technical stuff that he couldn't do anymore."

"So you've been living with him?"

"For two years after my parents died."

"Clara, Clara, Clara." The old man muttered. "If I've ever taught you anything, it's to always have a back-up. Sorry honey." Larry opened a panel on the wall and pulled a lever inside .An electronic voice came from a speaker beside Clark's head, as Larry ran for the elevator.

"Self destruct in ten…nine…eight…"

"It was super!" Larry yelled from between the closing doors of the elevator, laughing.

Lois started screaming hysterically, then stopped and giggled again.

Clark clapped a hand over Lois's mouth and flew her out at super-speed. He set her outside the gate.

"*Stay* *here*."

He flew back down the elevator shaft to the room he'd seen Clara heading into.

"Jimmy? Jackie?"

He could hear the countdown in the room behind him. "Three…two…"

"Jackie! Where are you?"

The electronic voice crackled. "Self-destruct engaged."

Suddenly Clark realized he'd left Lois above. If this place blows with her above it… Clark flew out and grabbed her just in time to be carried away in the shock wave from the explosion. He landed by the entrance gate, and stared back at the blazing inferno with tears in his eyes. Lois stirred in his arms, and he looked down. Her head was bleeding from a piece of shrapnel carried in the explosion. She looked up at him with a confused look on her face. He realized his glasses had fallen off in the blast.

"Clark?" she questioned, her voice wavering.

"You got hit. I'm taking you to a hospital."

She grabbed his arm, trying to sit up. "Just take me home.

He looked at her, worried.

"Really, I'm fine."

"No, you're not."

She nodded and grinned. "Duh, I'm not. I just don't want to blow your identity." she said, poking a finger at him, then passed out.


Lois came to feeling something wet on her forehead. "Socrates, if that's you, I'm having bacon for my next meal." Her hand dropped when she heard a laugh.

"Clark?" she groaned and tried to sit up, opening her eyes.

"You're awake." He said, smiling.

"What happened? The last thing I can remember was seeing Jackie at the Planet and that old guy with a gun."

"Well, that guy really was Lanny Gates, who faked his own death with the help of his brother. You see, the reason his brother, Barry, is in jail is that he's an accomplice in a murder-suicide. Seems Lanny had an enemy to take out too."

Lois cocked her head. "You know, I'm not surprised. How long have I been out?"

"Four days. You were released from the hospital this morning."

Lois frowned, leaning back against the cushions of Clark's couch. "You know, I had the weirdest dream. Somehow Larry destroyed his hideout, and you flew me out like Superman." She gave him a questioning look, checking for his reaction.

Clark grinned, and tossed his hand like the very notion was crazy.

"…but there was an explosion." Lois said, holding one hand up to the bandage on her forehead.

Clark's smile disappeared.

"There was an explosion." he verified.

"But Jackie wasn't there, right? And Clara was just my imagination, wasn't it?"

Clark was silent.

"Clark! Wasn't it?"

Clark sighed, "Jimmy, Jackie, and Clara are all missing. The police are still searching what's left of the hideout, but nothing has been found yet."

"Are you sure? I mean, Clara practically built the place. There has to be some way that they made it. Doesn't there?" She stopped babbling and gave him a hopeful smile.

Clark stood up and left down the hall.

"Clark? Clark!"

5 days earlier…

Jackie sat in a dark cell. Jimmy was with her, tied at the wrists and drugged. Jackie was using her sweater to wipe the blood from the surface wound the shot from the wall had caused. She knew that if Clara hadn't moved the muzzle of the gun in time, Jimmy would already be dead. Considering how much blood the thick sweater was soaking up, Clara's help might not have been so helpful.

Jackie hoped Clara was a good poker player: She didn't want to die. As soon as the thought passed through her mind, she heard an electronic voice announce the activation of the self-destruct.

Clara ran in, her blond hair tossing behind her. She tapped a code into a panel on the wall and opened the door to the cell, pulling Jackie out.

"Come on!' she whispered, helping Jackie to pull Jimmy into a room that she'd never seen before. The electronic voice outside mumbled as the door pulled shut, and then there was silence.


Lois woke up screaming. Clark started and fell off the railing of his front three steps, which he'd somehow managed to balance on without getting a wedgie.

Clark sputtered, glaring at Lois as he got up from the floor.

"I had a nightmare." Lois gasped.

"No kidding." Clark said, shaking his head to get rid of the ringing noise.

"Clark, be serious. I was dreaming about the explosion. I think Clara and Jimmy—"

"And Jackie"

"Ahem, —might still be alive."

Clark bit his lip. "Lois, the funeral probably just made you anxious. They're dead! That's it! Final deadline, test is over, put your pencils DOWN, deceased, done, kaput, nevermore…"

"Okay! I just think we should look one more time."

"Look, Lois, don't you think that if they were alive, they'd have come back by now?"

"What if one of them, or maybe all, were hurt? Huh? Did you think about that?"

Clark pointed to a small pile of papers and phone books next to his phone. "Been there, done that."

Lois looked like she was going to kick him. "Clark, think about it. Jackie used to live on the streets. If one of them was hurt, she could just go to her old place. I say we check it out." With that, she sprung up from her place on the couch, and wobbled defiantly to the door.

Clark stopped her at the steps. "Are you crazy? You can't go out there like this!"

"Very sweet of you, Kent, but I'm going." She moved past him and climbed the three steps to his door.

"Okay," Clark said, following her out, "But I'm coming with you."


Clark yelled for the taxi driver to stop.

"Here?" the gray old man asked, turning to flash a questioning look at his two passengers.


The driver screeched to a stop, and Lois banged her head on the passenger's side seat. "Ow!"

"Sorry lady." The driver held out a hand to collect his fare.

Clark brought out a ten, then stepped out of the battered car, holding out a hand to help Lois out.

Lois, rubbing her head, turned to look around. "Jackie lived here?" Lois asked, looking over at the huge factory the taxi had stopped by.

"Lives, if we're lucky." Clark led the way to a red door in the abandoned factory. He knocked, and it fell inwards, stirring up dust as it landed. "oops." He said under his breath. Clark led Lois in, then propped the door up against the door frame.

"Ewww, who does her housework?" Lois complained, drawing stick figures in the dust on an old dresser."

"They're all alive." Clark said, finally.


Clark smirked. "Note." he said, pulling a sheet of paper off a thumbtack in the wall.

Lois grabbed the note from his hands.

"All alive, blah, blah, blah…gone to a volunteer clinic for Jimmy." Lois grinned, dropping the note and giving a hyper giggle. Clark sensed her going into babble mode.

"They're alive! Alive, alive, oh Clark, can you believe it? They're ALIVE!!!"

Clark wrapped his arms around her shoulders before she decided to start dancing or something. Suddenly, there was a noise from the doorway. Clark released his grip from around Lois's shoulders, and Lois's crazy grin disappeared.

Jackie stood in the doorway, with Jimmy's arm draped over her shoulder. Jackie tsk-tsked and grinned at Clark.

"Only how many dates, Clark?"

"Bad rule." He said, grinning sheepishly.

"How'd you make it out?" Clara asked, appearing from behind the two, her eyes narrowed with the knowledge that her grandfather had taken the only escape route.

"Um…"Clark grabbed for an excuse. "Superman! Yeah. He grabbed us both, but the bomb went off before he could find you guys."

Jackie rolled her eyes, and Jimmy looked over at her questioningly.

"I saw a bug." she said irritably.

"Where were you?" Clark asked.

Clara spoke up. "One of my grandfather's back-up rooms. The guy had back-ups for his back-ups.

Jimmy broke in. "People, this might be fun for you two, " He said, glaring pointedly at Lois and Clark, "But my head is killing me. Could we get out of here?"

Lois nodded. "Who's for a taxi?"


"You know, Perry said, "some day you two have got to tell me how you do this." he said to the partners, tapping his finger on the headline, "Team thwarts old man's new tricks", by the reporting team of Lois and Clark.

Lois, standing in a group with Clark, Clara, and Amy, Clara's little sister, just grinned. Perry chuckled, then turned to face the larger area of the office.

"JIMMY!" Perry bellowed. The unfortunate copy boy cringed, and jogged over.

"Jeez, chief, not so loud." he said, one hand up to his head.

"Sorry, son. See if you can find Jackie for me, and give the two kiddies here a tour of the place."

"Sure. chief." Jimmy said, leading the two girls to the stairs.

"Well," said Perry, "I'm glad he's back."

Lois smiled. "That's sweet, chief."

"Who said anything about that? I can't get Jackie to do as much as get me a cup of good coffee!" He laughed, and walked back to his office.

"Well," Lois said, "I'm definitely glad that's all over.

"Oh, I don't know. I kind of liked the pink bustier."

"CLARK!" Lois warned.

"Decaf, Lois, decaf."

"That's it! You are *dead*, farmboy!"


Voila—first fanfic; flames and comments are welcome, and compliments even more so. Keep in mind, this was started during the pangs of summer reruns, so don't be harsh—starr@nando.net

(whatif 4.txt)