By Donna Hafner <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Summary: Lois, Clark and Jimmy are caught by the group of Intergang counterfeiters they're investigating. To save them, Clark runs the risk of revealing his secret to Jimmy.
Author's note: This story was written in January, 1996, during the time of Lois and Clark's engagement, and is set in that period. It uses a certain lame plot device which has since been used, again, in the actual series and I apologize for that, but I promise I wrote mine before I saw theirs. I want to thank Sarah, Laura, and Dave and all my CompuServe friends for their help and support. Writing a fanfic story is hard work but also fun because the characters say what you want them to say, which, as we know, does not always happen in the TV stories.
Lois Lane and Clark Kent stood against the wall of the old Metropolis Mercantile Building's lobby, out of the path of the rushing crowd of noontime lunch-goers.
"See anything?" Lois whispered, as Clark looked down at the marble floor over the tops of his glasses.
He shook his head. "No. The basement is lined with lead - must be an old fall-out shelter. All these old basement shelters seem to have become prime commercial real estate for Metropolis criminals."
Lois shook her head impatiently. "OK, OK, we'll just have to go down and look."
They avoided the busy elevators and looked for a stairway. Clark located the stairway door behind the bank of elevators, and they eased it open quietly and slipped down a long narrow flight of steps.
Clark again tried to look through the closed door at the bottom of the stairs, but encountered more lead. "I still can't see, but I can hear some machinery that could be copying equipment. Maybe we…"
Both Lois and Clark jerked around to see Jimmy Olsen's grinning face.
"Jimmy! What are you doing here?" Lois hissed.
"Well, hey, I was delivering some negatives for Perry upstairs and when I got off the elevator, I saw you and CK come in here. What's going on?"
"We got a tip about a counterfeiting operation being run from the basement of this building. But we don't need a photographer yet, so go on back to the Planet," Clark ordered.
Jimmy's face fell. "Aw, you guys have all the fun."
"Jimmy…" Lois began, but suddenly the door to the basement flew open and they were facing several armed men, who didn't look glad to see them.
Across town in Intergang headquarters, Mindy Church was not happy to hear about yet more trouble from the Daily Planet staff members.
"These people are really getting on my nerves," she whined. "And every time we try to kill them, Superman saves them. But I think I'm having a kind of an idea. Getting Superman out of town didn't seem to work. Let's try taking the nosy reporters away from Metropolis before we kill them."
Her eyes moved slowly around the room, passing over several nervous looking men, finally lighting on her chosen specimen. "Jerry, you're a pilot aren't you, sweetie? Why don't you use one of your fake ID's to rent a little plane…" She continued to explain her plan as they walked down the hall.
Lois, Clark, and Jimmy were lying uncomfortably on the cold floor of a small storeroom with ropes around their ankles and wrists. Now that they were inside the basement's lead walls, Clark could clearly see the counterfeiting equipment in full operation. Lois kept throwing him impatient glances, but he just returned quelling looks of his own. Jimmy was uncharacteristically quiet.
A key turned in the locked door and it opened to reveal still more men with guns who untied their feet and ordered them out of the storeroom and down the hall. The group entered an underground garage where one man opened the back door of a small truck and ordered them inside. He then retied their feet and settled himself by the back door with his gun trained on Lois. A second man got in beside him. The other two men shut them in and went around to the front seat.
As the truck started off, Lois rolled over close to Clark. "Can't you do something!" she whispered.
"Not with Jimmy here," he whispered back. "I'm sure the right moment will come. Just try to be patient." He almost laughed as he said these last words. Telling Lois to be patient was like telling Bobby Bigmouth not to be hungry. He still felt fairly calm because he knew he could get them away at any time, but he *really* wished Jimmy wasn't with them. There had been several opportunities to get away, but each time he had held back because to have acted would have given away his identity to Jimmy, and he wasn't willing to do that unless all else failed.
Lois began to rail at their guards, threatening them with reprisals from Superman and the Daily Planet and the Chief of Police and whatever else she could think of. The men just sat and looked at her until she finally gave up with an exasperated sigh.
The truck moved in stops and starts through the downtown traffic and then seemed to have entered an expressway. When he felt the slowdown of an exit ramp, Clark looked over the tops of his glasses and through the solid sides of the truck to see that they were taking the airport exit. He churned several possible escape plans through his mind again, but still could come up with nothing that would keep Lois, Jimmy, and his secret all safe. He reflected that it hadn't taken him long to get spoiled to having a partner who knew he was Superman. It was so much easier to save someone if you didn't have to hide your methods. But he'd been in plenty of situations like this before Lois "knew," bless her little trouble seeking heart, and he knew how to bide his time.
The truck rolled to a stop and one of the men in front got out. Everyone waited. Lois tried again to talk to their guards, but they just stared at her impassively, until finally one grew tired of the torrent and cut her off with a "Shut up!" and a threatening motion of the gun.
"Lo-is," Clark said pleadingly, begging her with his eyes to wait.
The man came back and the truck moved again, finally stopping by what Clark could see was a small airplane. Their feet were again untied and they were ordered out of the truck and into the plane. Jimmy and Lois stumbled on their stiff legs and Clark belatedly imitated them.
"Where are you taking us?" Clark asked.
"You'll know soon enough," was the cryptic reply.
Jimmy was the last one to be shoved up the plane's narrow access ladder. Suddenly he turned and threw himself at the two men behind him, tumbling them all down the ladder.
"Run, CK, Lois," Jimmy yelled, but as he reached the bottom of the ladder his head struck the railing and he went limp. Clark almost jumped down beside him but there were still two guns pointed at Lois, so he made himself wait again. Jimmy was lifted up and thrown into the plane. One of the men returned to the truck and drove it away but the other three entered the plane, one going forward to the pilot's seat and the two guards resuming their watchdog positions, seating themselves on benches which ran down the sides of the plane's interior and ordering Lois and Clark to sit on the floor. As the plane began to taxi, Lois scooted over toward Jimmy, trying to cushion his head.
"Jimmy, Jimmy, that was so foolish," she murmured anxiously. "Clark, do you think he'll be all right?"
Clark did a quick scan of Jimmy's skull and saw no sign of a fracture. "I think so, Lois."
One of the gunmen laughed, "Yeah, he'll be fine for about an hour."
Lois and Clark exchanged worried glances as they felt the plane rise into the air.
Soon, Jimmy began to stir as he regained consciousness. "Ooh, my head." He opened his eyes to see Lois's concerned face. "What's happening?" Then he looked around and seemed to remember their sorry circumstances because he closed his eyes again and moaned.
"Sorry, guys. I couldn't stand to just let them load us on the plane."
Lois made soothing noises and threw another impatient glance at Clark. She began to shiver from the cold in the unheated, unpressurized plane, and Clark took a chance on warming her and Jimmy both with some surreptitious heat vision.
With no other good ideas coming to mind, Clark tried studying the airplane engine with his x-ray vision. If he could find the right circuit to short out so that the pilot was forced to land the plane, but could still land safely, maybe he could abort whatever plan these men had in mind. Unfortunately he didn't know a lot about airplane engines and couldn't decide which wire to burn. And a glance through the sides of the plane showed him that their course was out over the ocean.
Some time later, the pilot suddenly rose from his seat. "Coming up on the rescue boat," he said. He pulled at the straps on the backpack he was wearing which Clark belatedly realized was a parachute pack. All three men were wearing parachute packs, and now they also donned life jackets.
"Well, guys, this plane has only about five more minutes of fuel left and I've jammed the flaps so even if one of you knows how to fly, you could never land this baby. We're an hour away from Metropolis so Superman wouldn't hear any shouts for help. So, thanks for flying with Intergang and have a nice day."
They slid back the side door and one by one the men jumped from the plane.
Jimmy was terrified and didn't understand why Lois and Clark seemed so calm. "Guys, what are we going to do!" he yelled over the wind and engine noise, his voice shaking.
Clark only sighed, but then he was somehow free of the ropes holding his hands. He moved forward to look at the controls.
"CK, how'd you get loose?" Jimmy shouted, and began jerking at his own ropes in hopes that they too might suddenly break. Suddenly the engine coughed and then quit altogether. The small plane stayed level for a moment, but then it gradually began to sink.
Clark scrambled back to Lois and Jimmy.
"I could maybe figure out how to fix the controls but I don't know if I have time," he shouted, holding Lois's gaze.
"Try, CK, try!" Jimmy wailed.
"No. We're just going to have to jump." Clark said calmly, as he broke Lois's bonds and then Jimmy's.
"Jump?" Jimmy turned frantically to Lois for help with this suddenly demented Clark, but she was just looking a little resigned.
Then Clark gathered Lois up in one arm and Jimmy in the other, and to Jimmy's horror, stepped out of the plane door.
It took Jimmy a few moments to realize that they weren't falling from the plane, instead the plane was falling from them. He watched open-mouthed as the plane descended rapidly toward the bright blue surface below until it crashed with a great splash, rolled over, and disappeared beneath the waves.
"I can see the boat that's picking them up, including its name and number," Clark said. "They can't see us at this distance, so they'll think we went down with the plane. Let's head to shore." And amazingly, that's what they did.
Clark set his companions down gently in a deserted rocky cove not too far south of the public beach closest to Metropolis. Jimmy had remained speechless during the short flight, but now he shook his head as though to clear it.
"I must be still unconscious cause I thought Clark just flew us out of that plane. Are you guys unconscious, too?" he asked dazedly.
Clark looked helplessly at Lois but she just shook her head weakly, unable to come up with a suitable explanation.
"I feel conscious," Jimmy continued, rubbing his hand over his eyes. "CK, did Superman teach you to fly or something?"
"Sort of, Jimmy," Clark replied, as he studied their surroundings, thinking it just wasn't his day. The rocky walls of this particular cove rose were too steep for Lois and Jimmy to climb and the tide was coming in. He looked at Lois. "I picked a bad spot to land. It's going to take Superman to get us out of here."
She sort of shrugged and looked sadly at Jimmy.
Jimmy was still bewildered. "Can you fly like Superman again, CK?" he asked hopefully.
"You tell him," Clark told Lois. "I can't seem to find the words." He grinned wryly. "Sound familiar?"
Lois turned to Jimmy, as the younger man switched his gaze back and forth from Lois to Clark.
"Jimmy, Clark *is* Superman," she said softly.
Jimmy stared at Lois for several long moments and then moved his gaze to Clark.
"What do you mean, Clark is Superman?"
Lois threw up her hands. "I mean just what I said! Clark is Superman and Superman is Clark. They're the same person and no one is supposed to know and if you ever tell anyone I'll .. I'll, oh I don't know what I'll do to you, but it won't be pleasant and…"
"Lois, stop, it's going to be OK," Clark pulled Lois into his arms to calm her down. "I'm sure we can trust Jimmy. I've always thought something like this would happen some day - that there would be someone I couldn't save without revealing that I'm Superman. We're just lucky it's Jimmy." Clark looked at Jimmy over Lois's head. "We can trust you to keep this secret, can't we Jimmy?"
Jimmy nodded and then sort of gave himself a shake. "Well, sure, guys, but I…I'm still confused. Clark can't be Superman cause I've seem them both, together, at the same time, lots of times."
"Well, it's interesting to hear that you think that, because hopefully it means others must think that too, but, no, actually, you haven't ever seen them together, because they're both … me."
Jimmy stared at Clark, obviously still unable to accept his explanation. "What about that news conference you held after Diana Stride said you were Superman?"
"Well, there was that one time, but that Superman was a hologram," Clark explained. He tightened his arms around Lois, who was still sort of snuffling against his shoulder. He'd never understand Lois. She'd been unfazed by the kidnappers, but she couldn't handle this discussion with Jimmy.
Jimmy was mulling all this over. "So Diana Stride was right?"
"Yes, Jimmy, Diana Stride was right," Clark agreed.
"And Lois - you already knew all this, about Clark and Superman?"
"Yes, Jimmy, I've known for a while," Lois agreed, turning to face him again. "But right now I'm tired and cold and hungry and I need to use the bathroom, so can we go home before we continue this discussion? For one thing we need to tell the police and break the story about the counterfeiters. You did see the counterfeiting equipment didn't you, Clark? Let's just all agree to say that Superman rescued us from the plane before it crashed, which is exactly what happened. OK?"
Jimmy was still a little dazed, but he nodded in agreement to her plan. But there was another shock to come. Clark removed his glasses and then started to spin, and suddenly Superman was standing there.
Jimmy's chin dropped even lower. "Wow, maybe it is true," he exclaimed.
"Let's go home," Superman said, then picked up Jimmy and Lois and flew up out of the cove toward Metropolis.
Although it seemed much longer, their whole ordeal had lasted less than three hours and everyone was still at work back at the Planet. They returned there and had to spend some time talking to the police before they could write up the story. Superman accompanied the police to the Mercantile Building basement, but the major pieces of equipment and supplies had already been cleared. A search turned up Lois's briefcase, contents still intact, but not much else in the way of evidence. The plane was discovered to have been rented and the boat unregistered. As the fingerprint crew set to work, Superman answered a few last questions and then flew back to the Planet to finish Clark's work.
It was late when Clark pressed the off switch on his computer and looked around the newsroom. It was emptying out as people finished their assignments and left for home. Lois was not at her desk, maybe in the ladies' room. Jimmy was using the copy machine. Perry had ordered Jimmy to go to the hospital to have his head injury examined, but Jimmy had adamantly refused.
Jimmy, thought Clark. How was Jimmy going to handle his new information? Keeping the secret was such an ingrained part of Clark's psyche that having anyone know made him feel exposed, vulnerable. Except for Lois. Lois knowing, when it had finally happened, had seemed natural, like finally admitting the truth to a part of himself. But Clark was almost glad when Jack moved to the west coast with his little brother, even though he had never known for sure how much Jack suspected. Clark tried not to think about the various criminals in prison who knew. And now Jimmy. Jimmy was Clark's best friend in Metropolis, but Clark was not happy that Jimmy knew he was Superman.
Clark looked over at Lois. She had returned to her desk and was gathering her things to leave. Their eyes met in silent discussion. They both turned to look at Jimmy, who pretended a sudden interest in the neatness of the stack of papers being ejected from the copier. Clark stood and walked over to Jimmy.
"Maybe you'd like to come have dinner with Lois and me tonight, Jimmy, so we can talk over our … adventures. At my apartment. We'd be glad to give you a ride." Clark knew Jimmy's old Mustang was in the shop again
"A ride?" Jimmy's eyebrows rose in eager anticipation.
Clark smiled, knowing what Jimmy was thinking. "We usually ride home together in Lois's car, unless I have other … business. It's a good time to talk. So, how about it?"
"Well, sure, CK. Just let me check that Perry is finished with me."
The ride to Clark's began with a short discussion of what to have for dinner, but then an awkward silence fell, broken only by Lois's occasional mutterings about the idiocy of other drivers. Suddenly Clark said, "Uh, oh, they've got one they need me for." Lois smiled ruefully, pulled the car over and stopped. Clark pecked Lois on the cheek. "This shouldn't take long. I may beat you home." Then he was gone in a blur down an alley.
As they pulled back into the traffic, Jimmy worked up his courage to question what had happened. "How does he know he was needed?"
"Actually, I'm not really sure. I think partly he keeps sort of an inner ear tuned to the emergency band and if he hears something they can't handle with normal methods, he tunes in for the details. He doesn't go to every wreck or fire. He can't cover everything and still have any kind of life, so he's learned how to screen."
Jimmy mulled over the idea of Superman having a life. He had occasionally wondered what Superman did between rescues, but hadn't really given it a lot of thought. He had pictured Superman constantly patrolling, and if he occasionally didn't seem to be around, well, there was a lot of territory in the world to patrol.
"Lois, I can't get used to this - CK being Superman. I keep thinking of things Superman has done and thinking, 'Whoa, that was really CK doing that.' It's blowing my mind."
Lois spied a parking place fairly close to Clark's apartment and neatly beat out an angry businessman for the spot. As she and Jimmy walked the short distance back to Clark's door, she said, "Jimmy, I know how confused you must feel because I remember very well how I felt when I found out."
"How did you find out, Lois? I guess Clark must have told you."
Lois grinned, "No exactly, Jimmy. I sort of figured it out on my own, but Clark had been trying to tell me. He just hadn't gotten up the courage."
"Wow, Lois, that's awesome. Superman isn't scared of bombs but he is of you."
Lois's grin widened. "I guess you're right, Jimmy."
Just as they reached Clark's door, it was opened from the inside by Clark, in jeans and T-shirt. "What took you so long?" he teased. They could smell onions and garlic already browning as they entered the apartment. "I got us a good story about Superman rescuing a family from an overturned car that was leaking gas."
"Oh, good, Clark. Maybe Perry will be happy with us for one nanosecond," said Lois.
"Wow," said Jimmy.
Lois went to change into the sweats she kept at Clark's apartment and Clark returned to his cooking.
After dinner and a long talk with Jimmy, which involved many repetitions of the same information, Jimmy still seeming to have trouble absorbing what he was hearing, Clark said, "So you see, Jimmy, how important it is that you keep this a secret. Otherwise Lois and I could never have any kind of a normal life."
"You guys can count on me. I know how to keep my lip buttoned. And maybe I can help you guys, sometimes, with…things." Jimmy actually seemed to be excited about being the confidante of Superman. It opened up so many possibilities…
Clark stood up. "Well, Jimmy, we'll see you tomorrow at the Planet. Do you need a ride home?"
"Naw, it's not far, and I could stand to walk and think. Gosh, it seems like forever since this morning, so much has happened. Uh, thanks for the dinner. Goodnight."
After Clark shut the door behind Jimmy, he returned to his spot beside Lois on the sofa.
"Well, what do you think?" he asked.
"Jimmy has the best of intentions, of course, but he's young. We'll just have to hope for the best."
"I keep telling myself to be glad it's Jimmy, but I'm worried. I've always worked so hard at keeping this a secret, and now it's even more important to me, to protect our life together."
"Couldn't you have done something earlier to get us away, before we were in the plane?"
"I guess I should have tried. I kept thinking a better time would come." Clark sighed. "Waiting has always worked before. I guess I've been lucky. And I wish I hadn't let that plane crash. I didn't think about it being rented."
"Oh Clark, we've had this discussion so many times. You can't do everything."
"I know, I know…"
Clark put his arm around Lois and she leaned against him, trying to be comforting. They sat in thoughtful silence for a few minutes until Lois gave a little laugh. "Jimmy must really be shook by this. He didn't mention girls once the whole evening."
Clark chuckled in agreement. "Yeah, I guess it would be a hard idea to get used to, that your movie buddy can fly."
Lois watched Clark run his finger around the diamond in her engagement ring, a habit he had picked up. "It's a good thing you're not thinking of proposing to Jimmy, cause I can tell you that this wouldn't be the best of times," she said dryly.
Clark blushed a little, but laughed. "I'll try to remember that, Lois. But since I'm not planning on proposing to anyone else, ever again, your advice is too little, too late." He lifted her hand to kiss first her ring finger and then, turning her hand over, her soft palm, but Lois was still thinking and wouldn't be distracted.
"You know, he mentioned something while you were gone, something that I still have trouble with sometimes."
"What?" he asked warily.
"Sometimes it's difficult to merge the memories of Superman, when I thought he was a separate person, with my memories of Clark. I'll be thinking of some past exploit of Superman's and suddenly stop, think, 'That was Clark doing that!' It sort of throws me off balance for a moment every time it happens." Her small hand clasped his large one, stilling its movements to be sure he was listening. "And sometimes I remember things you said and did as Clark, that gain a different slant knowing that you're Superman, too, and I'm not just talking about all your stupid excuses for leaving."
"Just sitting here reminds me of the night I brought the pizza and videos over cause I was so scared that the Prankster would kill me. Remember? You said you would not let anything like that happen. And it's funny. I didn't know you were Superman, but I believed you - I believed Clark. I felt safe." She snuggled closer to Clark's side, remembering the relief she had felt that night.
Clark grinned wryly. "Yes, I remember that night well, Lois. You fell asleep. It always boosts a guy's confidence to know he can put a girl to sleep."
"I was so embarrassed the next morning."
In Clark's mind that night was a bittersweet memory. Lois had slept against his shoulder for a long time. She had looked uncomfortable but each time Clark tried to get up, she had whimpered and clung to him. Finally he had slid down until he was lying on the sofa, pulling Lois on top of him so that she was cradled on his chest. She had nestled against him like a puppy to its litter mate. Clark couldn't decide if he was supremely comfortable or extremely uncomfortable. He disregarded a couple of calls for Superman, but one had come that he couldn't ignore and so he had slipped out, keeping a vigilant ear tuned back to his apartment until he returned. He had then covered Lois with a blanket, touched her cheek and gone to bed, happy that she was there, aching for something more.
Just because he could, he now mimicked his actions of that night, sliding down and positioning Lois on his chest. He was definitely comfortable this time. He considered telling her about that night, wondering how she'd react, but she spoke first.
"And this makes me think of the night we had our almost first date on that boat, and I fell on top of you." She smiled down into Clark's eyes. "I wanted you to kiss me, but you wouldn't. I thought you were shy."
"I am shy, Lois, sometimes. I desperately wanted to kiss you then, but I was afraid I'd scare you away."
"Hmm, maybe I was scared then, a little, but I'm not scared tonight." She arched her eyebrows at him. "Are you feeling shy tonight?"
"No, I'm not." And he gently pulled her down for a soft kiss.
"And I spilled champagne all over you," Lois giggled against Clark's lips. But suddenly her head jerked up. "Now see, this is what I'm talking about. I just realized you supercooled that champagne to get it cold. Boy, you were smooth."
"You are right again, Lois. That S on my chest stands for shy, smooth…" He floated up from the sofa and flipped them over. "..and super. Now are you finished reminiscing?" He kissed her on the neck.
Lois giggled again from her new position, on the bottom. "If you'd done that that night on the boat…"
"We wouldn't have gotten much surveillance work done." He kissed her on the ear.
"Speaking of work, don't forget we still have to fax the story of Superman's rescue in to the Planet."
"Lois, I can type at superspeed, but kissing can't be rushed, so could you please stop talking." He kissed her on the cheek.
"Well, sure, but I…"
He kissed her on the lips, so she stopped.
Jimmy walked into the Planet newsroom the next day feeling on top of the world. He spied Clark returning from the coffee machine. "Hi, CK!" He lowered his voice just a fraction. "Much action last night?"
Clark looked around uneasily, checking to see who was in earshot.
"Nothing out of the ordinary, Jimmy." Then he continued on to his desk.
Jimmy followed him. "Well, just remember I'm here to help, anytime you need me."
"OK, Jimmy. Thanks." Clark smiled at Jimmy but then pulled his keyboard in front of him and tried to look busy. Jimmy sauntered away, unfazed and still happy.
Ten minutes later, already deep into a data search in the Planet archives, Clark heard rather than saw Lois get off the elevator. He raised his eyes to meet her smile with one of his own. "Hi," she whispered. His insides melted in a familiar way. But he returned to his task, knowing they would talk later.
In the middle of Perry's regular mid-morning status meeting, Clark heard a distress cry he thought he should investigate. He glanced meaningfully at Lois.
"Oh dear, I left my story notes on my desk," Lois blurted out, interrupting Perry's latest Elvis story and earning a glare from the editor-in-chief.
"I'll get them," Clark exclaimed and jumped up and left the conference room, missing the glare Perry gave his departing back. But before he could start down the hall toward his normal exit, Jimmy grabbed him.
"CK, where ya goin'? Can I come?" he asked excitedly.
"No, Jimmy, that's not a good idea."
"But I won't get in the way, I promise!"
"No, Jimmy, not this time." And Clark pulled away and dashed down the hall.
He was able to snuff out an apartment fire before it trapped two small children in their bedroom. He took the time to give a stern warning to the mother about not having a fire escape plan, but even with that he made it back to the Planet before the meeting was over, for once remembering the excuse- providing notes from Lois's desk. No one noticed. They were all deep into an argument about whether the latest city hall rumor belonged on the front page.
Around noon, Lois and Clark left the newsroom for a quick lunch at a deli.
After they stood in line for their food and grabbed a just-vacated table, Clark told Lois what had happened with Jimmy. "He wanted to go with me this morning, to that apartment fire. He only delayed me a minute, but one more minute and those little girls might have been burned."
"Well, he'll learn. I did."
"You learned that I'd take you if I thought I could and that I would tell you all the details when I got back if I couldn't. I don't think the news story is what he's interested in. He just wants to be there for the excitement."
Lois swallowed her bite of salad. "This is new to him. He'll get over it"
"I hope so, Lois."
"Hey, farmboy, eat. We have an interview to get to - with the guy who rented the plane to our villains."
Clark smiled at Lois. "Right, senior journalist." He took a big bite of his sub sandwich, ignoring the thwack she gave his arm.
The interview with the plane rental man was not productive, except that Clark was glad to hear that the lost plane had been insured. They returned to the Planet and tried to write a follow-up story without much information to put in it. They put in a call to Detective Henderson's office for any comments that could pad the story, but no one had as yet returned their call.
Perry stepped out of his office. "There's a story on the wire about a plane crash in the Appalachians. They think there might be survivors but they're having trouble getting to the location. Somebody get on the phone and see what else we can find out."
Clark looked at Lois. "Lois, why don't you take this, I've got to … uh…"
Jimmy appeared at his side. "CK, weren't you going to take me to pick up my car from the shop? They tell me it's ready."
Clark turned to Jimmy with grateful surprise. "Oh, sure, Jimmy, I can do that now. Is that OK, Lois?"
"Sure, you guys go on." Lois waved them away.
So Jimmy got his ride, all the way to the Appalachians. Superman located the crash and extinguished any lingering flames. He flew trucks of rescue workers and their equipment in to the crash site and some critical victims out. Jimmy thought it was great but was "bummed" that he couldn't take any pictures. "How could we explain how you got them?" Clark asked. Unfortunately when they returned to the Planet, Jimmy was in trouble with Perry for being gone for so long.
"Why didn't he yell at you, CK?" Jimmy fumed.
"Sorry, Jimmy, but my job calls for me to be out of the newsroom a lot. It's one reason I work as a reporter. But thanks again for helping me get away."
During the afternoon Clark was called out on Superman jobs two more times. Each time Jimmy managed to appear from nowhere and ask to go. The first time Clark gave in and took him, to a shopping mall fire, where Jimmy got some good pictures of the evacuation. But the second time Clark refused, time being critical, and Jimmy was still sulking when he got back. Clark tried to placate him with an assignment. He asked him to locate all the buildings in downtown Metropolis that had converted their basements to lead-lined fallout shelters. Jimmy did seem content with this job; he saw it as associated with Superman.
Clark slumped down on his sofa in front of the TV that evening, alone. He had managed to avoid Jimmy on his way out of the Planet, or he felt sure Jimmy would have suggested an evening together. Lois was at home doing her laundry, hair, nails, and whatever else girls did. Clark missed her. He was impatient for them to be married so Lois could stay here, or wherever they lived, to do those things. A smile played across his lips as he contemplated the ethics of spying on his wife in the shower with his x-ray vision. Maybe Lois wouldn't mind … Suddenly he realized a flight through cold high altitudes was in order and he took off to patrol the city.
The Metropolis streets looked fairly calm from two miles up. The chilly moonlit clouds he flew through were as beautiful as ever. It was in Clark's own heart and mind that all was not as right with the world as it should be. The sense of general contentment that he had possessed since Lois had agreed to marry him was still there, but it was marred by a vague unease. Not because the Intergang kidnappers were still at large - there were always more criminals out there, unfortunately - but because Jimmy 'knew.' This bothered him for reasons he couldn't fully explain, even to himself. But what was done was done. Maybe with time he would get used to this new situation. And surely Jimmy would soon learn, as Lois had, that he couldn't go on every one of Superman's missions.
Clark tried to shake off his gloomy thoughts. He wondered how many fallout shelters Jimmy had located with his city hall data base research. In between stopping a mugging and settling a nightclub parking lot brawl, Clark began to x- ray the basements of old buildings.
He was studying the lead walls of the North Main Tower basement when suddenly he heard a cry from that very location that sounded like Jimmy's voice. "You can't hold me! Superman will find…" and ominously the voice was suddenly silenced. As Clark sped downward he heard a voice he recognized as one of their kidnappers.
"Ya know, he could be right. Superman found that plane, and he may find Olsen. We better find out what the boss wants to do this time."
The basement door was opened, but this time it was the gunmen who were surprised to see who was on the other side - Superman.
Lois was sitting at her kitchen table, clad in a terry robe, her wet hair wrapped in a towel. She was on the phone, listening to her mother worry about the wedding, throwing in a "Yes, Mom," every so often as it was needed and removing nail polish at the same time. Her thoughts wandered to Clark, wondering if he was at home or out patrolling. Soon they wouldn't have these separations. She wondered what it would be like to do her nails with him watching. He could certainly help with the drying process, she thought with a grin.
Her smile faded as she considered the situation with Jimmy. Exactly why was Clark so uneasy? Surely not just because Jimmy might reveal the secret. Insidious demons of doubt were stirring to life within her, asking how Clark had really felt when *she* first found out.
Suddenly she heard a soft knock at her window. Her heart expanded with an extra bubble of happiness, squashing all pesky demons back into unconsciousness. She told her mom she'd call her back and went to open the window.
"Couldn't stay away, flyboy?" she grinned at Superman.
"Lois, get dressed. Jimmy is hurt."
At the hospital Lois and Clark were told that Jimmy had been moved from the ER to a room upstairs. On the fifth floor they found his door ajar and a nurse hovering, adjusting some monitoring equipment.
"Are you family?" she asked.
"We're the closest he has to family here in town," Clark replied. "How is he?"
"He finally regained consciousness a few minutes ago. The doctor just left."
"Can we talk to him?" Lois asked.
"Just for a moment. Try to reassure him. He seems disoriented and doesn't remember how he got here. I'll let the doctor know you've come." She left the room.
Lois approached the bed and took Jimmy's hand in hers. Jimmy looked pale even next to the white bandage around his head. He eyes flickered open and he saw them standing there.
"Hi guys. What happened? Are you all right?" His voice was weak.
"Jimmy, apparently you were trying to investigate one of those fallout shelters on your own and you stumbled onto Intergang again and got conked in the head for your trouble," Clark told him.
"Fallout shelters? What are you talking about? How did we get off that plane?"
Lois and Clark looked at each other.
"You don't remember getting off the plane?" Lois asked.
"Actually I don't remember getting on the plane. I just remember throwing myself at those guys, and then nothing. I hope I didn't make things worse."
"No, Jimmy. Superman rescued us from the plane. But that was yesterday. You don't remember anything from last night or today?" Clark tried to suppress the small seed of hope he felt growing in his mind.
"Have I been here since yesterday? Weird," Jimmy said.
"No, Jimmy, you've been working at the Planet and walking around like you were OK since yesterday. At least until an hour ago. Are you sure you don't remember?" Lois asked again.
Jimmy looked at them blankly. "You mean I've lost a day of my life? Did anything important happen?"
"Oh, well…" Lois looked wildly at Clark for guidance but just then the doctor hurried in.
"I'm Dr. Garza. You are friends of Mr. Olsen's? Superman brought him here and told us he had no family in town, but some friends would be coming." She peered into Jimmy's eyes and studied the monitors. "Superman said this was the second blow Jim had received on his head in two days, so we're going to keep him overnight."
Lois spoke up. "Dr. Garza, he seems to have lost his memory of the day between his first injury and this one. Will that memory come back?"
"Maybe, maybe not. Medicine has made great strides but we are a long way from understanding the brain. Did anything significant happen in that time? Does he need to remember?"
Lois and Clark exchanged glances. "Well, I don't think he met any cute girls," Lois said evasively.
"Fine then. Jim, don't worry about it. Just relax, get well, and maybe someday your lost day will return to you." Dr. Garza left them alone.
"Did Superman catch the kidnappers?" Jimmy wanted to know.
Clark answered, "Actually Jimmy, *you* found two of the kidnappers tonight, the two who guarded us in the back of the truck. Yesterday I asked you to check building records for lead-lined fallout shelters and apparently you decided to look in person. You found the new Intergang counterfeit operation on your first try. Superman was able to hand your two captors and the counterfeiting operation over to the police."
"Wow, I was lucky, huh?"
"Jimmy, I don't think getting knocked unconscious is considered lucky," Lois admonished.
"Jimmy, we'll go and let you rest now," Clark said. "Make sure you're OK before you come back to work We'll clear everything with Perry."
"OK, guys." Jimmy's eyes closed wearily as Lois gave Jimmy's hand a final squeeze, then they let themselves out of the room.
Because they had flown to the hospital, Clark spun back to Superman and flew them back to Lois's apartment.
He set Lois down just inside the window, but kept his arms around her. "It's late. I should go home."
"Yes, you should." But she stayed in his arms.
Clark gazed down at Lois. Even in the dimly lit room he could see her perfectly. Her hair had dried into an unruly mop and her face was bare of makeup, but she looked beautiful, her eyes dark and deep, her lips soft and full. He leaned back against the table behind her sofa and pulled her closer, breathing in the fragrance of her shampoo.
"Why on earth would Jimmy go to that building, alone?" Lois asked.
Clark sighed. "I think it had to do with knowing that his personal buddy, Clark Kent, is Superman. It gave him a sense of invulnerability, made him unafraid of things that should have scared him."
She leaned her body in to his strong support and hid her face against his shoulder. "Are you implying that I have the same false sense of invulnerability?"
"Well, I think you did have it, at first, but you've learned to be more careful. Or at least as careful as you ever were." Clark smiled against Lois's hair. "Jimmy would have probably learned, too."
"Do you think his memory will come back?"
"That's the big question, isn't it?"
She shifted her weight against him. "Clark, … why did you mind so much that Jimmy knew?" she asked, and then softly, against his shoulder, "When I first found out, did you mind … that I knew?"
"Oh, Lois, no, no, no." Clark pulled her head from his shoulder and raised her chin so he could look in her eyes. "Lois, I needed you to know, I longed for you to know. You are an essential part of my life as Clark and as Superman." He lowered his lips to hers and pulled her body tight against his, trying to show with his passion the depth of his need for her involvement in his life. She responded from the depths of her need for him.
"OK, OK, I believe you," she said shakily when she pulled away to catch her breath.
Clark waited for his breathing to slow, trying to gather his thoughts. "You know Lois, I've spent so many years hiding my thoughts from everyone that it's very hard to break that pattern. I think I'm pretty much a work in progress in the area of couple's communication. In fact, you'd better assume I'm a lifelong project."
Lois smiled and kissed his chin. "I can handle the lifelong part."
He continued. "The first and most obvious reason I didn't want Jimmy to know is that the more people who know a secret the harder it is to keep."
"A second reason is a purely selfish one. Lois, you see me as Clark. Even though I sometimes put on a gaudy suit and go out and use special powers, *you* know it's still just Clark under there - silly, shy Clark."
"Hey, don't forget smooth and super."
Clark smiled weakly but plunged on, wanting to finish now that he'd started. "But Jimmy might never have seen that. Any time we went to a movie or something, he would have been going with Superman, not with Clark. I would have missed the old way."
He hesitated now. This next was the hard part, the part he only dimly understood himself. "But neither of those reasons were what was really bothering me. I… I guess I worried that if someone else knows, it might somehow affect our relationship, somehow weaken our … bond."
Lois rubbed her hands over the hard muscles in his back while she considered what he had said. She knew what he meant, what he was scared of, and she wanted her answer to be right, to be the truth he needed to hear.
"Clark, if Jimmy's memory comes back, even if the whole world finds out that you're Superman, it might be inconvenient, it might change our circumstances, but it will have nothing to do with what is truly between us. Our bond was there even before I knew you were Superman. It was probably there from the day we first met, however much I might have tried to deny it. I still don't know what is so special about me that makes me bound to you, but I am bound, as you are bound to me, and it's by much more than sharing a secret."
He gazed down at her for a moment, then touched the side of her face. "You can always find the right words, can't you?"
"You don't do so badly yourself, sometimes, when I can get you to talk."
"We're a good team."
He drew her close one more time.
Superman floated slowly, reluctantly, out the window and then flew away into the night.
Lois gazed after him. "Definitely Super," she murmured contentedly.