By Megan Sullivan (firstname.lastname@example.org)
Summary: The Daily Planet's investors are threatening to pull out. Lois and Clark, along with the rest of the Planet staff, have one week to strut their best stuff in order to save their jobs.
Clark was seated in an armchair watching the sun set. It was turning the sky into a brilliant shade of reddish purple.
"I wish Lois were awake to see this," he said to himself out loud.
Lois walked up behind him and wrapped her arms around his waist. "Awake to see what?"
He smiled. "Hey, sleepyhead."
"Morning? It's almost 6:30 in the evening."
"Sorry. You know what jet lag does to me. Next time, let's do our investigative reporting in this time zone. How come you never get jet lag?"
"I can fly. I guess I'm just used to it. Anyway, I was just thinking that you would love to see the sky. Isn't it beautiful?"
"It is beautiful." She appeared to be falling asleep in his arms.
"Lois?" Clark can't help but smile at her.
"What are you doing up if you're so tired?"
"I just wanted to be near you."
He spun her around and looked directly into her eyes.
"Lois, I love you even when you're exhausted. But you're much more comprehensible when you're fully awake. Why don't you go back to bed? You'll feel much better in the morning."
"All right, I'm convinced."
He lifted her into his arms and carried her back into the bedroom. He gently laid her onto her bed, and covered her with the blankets. She looked up at him and smiled.
"Where have you been all my life?"
"Right here waiting for you."
She blushed. He kissed her on the forehead and turned to leave. She called after him. "Clark?"
"Ooh, I like that name. I feel much safer when you're here with me." She lifted her blankets, an obvious invitation to Clark.
"I'm convinced." He walked over to the bed, crawled in and curled up next to her. He kissed her full on the lips. She placed her head on his shoulder and sighed in content.
"Good night, Clark."
"Night, Lois. I love you."
"I love you, too."
They both tried to stay awake to feel the peace and comfort felt while in each other's arms, but moments later, they were both fast asleep.
The next morning, Lois and Clark arrived together at the Daily Planet. Perry White was there to greet them, holding a copy of the newest edition of the paper. The top headline read 'Diamond Smugglers caught in England'. The byline - By Lois Lane and Clark Kent.
"Great reporting, you two. I don't know how you keep doing it time and time again."
"It's a secret, Perry," said Lois with a devilish grin directed at Clark, "but we'll let you in on it."
Perry eagerly moved in closer.
"Pure talent, Chief," whispered Clark. "That's all it takes."
Perry laughed. "That's cute you two. By the way, is this byline ever going to read 'By Lois and Clark Kent'?"
"Nope," Lois replied. Both Clark and Perry stared at her. She laughed. "It's going to read 'By Lois Lane-Kent and Clark Kent. I can't lose my past."
Clark grinned at the response. "You scared me for a moment there."
"You know I want to marry you, Clark." She walked up to him and placed her hands on his chest.
Perry appeared uncomfortable. "If you two are going to get all romantic on me, I'll just leave you alone."
They laugh. "Sorry Chief," Clark replied.
"Hey, CK!" Jimmy called from across the room. He came up to Clark who was standing with his arm around Lois. "Have you guys ever thought about announcing your engagement in the Planet? I mean, you two are our star reporters and I think people would want to know about your engagement."
"I don't know, Jimmy," Lois replied doubtfully. The phone on the desk next to Clark rang, interrupting their conversation.
Clark picked it up. "Daily Planet, Kent." he paused, then pressed hold. "Chief!"
"What is it, Clark?"
"Phone. They say it's urgent."
"Thanks." He went into his office to answer the call. Clark hung up the phone.
"Who was it, Clark?" Lois inquired.
"I don't know. But they sounded urgent."
Someone across the room called for Jimmy.
"Be there in a sec. Why don't you two think about it for a while and get back to me?" He left. Clark still looked concerned.
"Clark, having our engagement announcement published wouldn't be that bad."
"No, it's not that. Whoever was on the phone sounded truly upset. I hope everything's okay."
She looked in the direction of Perry's office. Through the window, she could see that he was still on the phone.
"Can't you hear the conversation with your super hearing?"
"Lois! That would be invading their privacy."
"I know. I guess it's just the investigative reporter in me."
Perry came out of his office looking totally depressed. All eyes turned toward him.
"Okay, people, listen up. I have some bad news. I just got a call from the investors. Something has happened, and almost all of the funding for the Planet has been pulled. We have one week, and if they aren't satisfied with our work, then we're going to be shut down."
Murmurs came from everyone in the room. The general attitude was grim. Even Clark looked depressed. But Lois, ever the optimist, decided to lift the Planet's spirits. She climbed up onto a chair. "People!" she cried for attention, "Listen up. We've got a whole week to prove to everyone that the Planet is the best paper in the country. I think we can do it. We've pulled through hardships before. This is nothing compared to some of the things we've been through."
There were sounds of approval from the entire staff. Clark helped Lois climb down from her chair.
"Great job," he whispered in her ear.
Perry piped up. "Folks, Lois is right. We are a great paper. I don't know what the investors are thinking, but whatever it is, we can prove them wrong. Well, you know what you have to do. Now let's get to work people!"
There was a short round of applause as people hurried to get their work started. Lois and Clark walked over to their adjoining desks.
"Any good leads, Clark?"
"Well, not really. Every good lead has been taken. Here's one, but it looks like it could take more than a week, plus it's in California."
"That won't work then, will it?"
"We could always report on the potential closing of the Daily Planet."
"Clark, that might just work. Readers will want to hear about that. Let's go talk to Perry."
Perry agreed wholeheartedly to the idea. "Good luck, you two. I hope you can uncover the truth, because I certainly want to know."
"Thanks Chief," replied Clark. He and Lois left the office, only to run directly into Jimmy.
"Jimmy!" exclaimed Lois. "Just the person I needed to talk to. We need a list of all the people who invest in the Daily Planet. And a list of anyone who has withdrawn their investments within the last year."
"I'll get right on it, Lois." He hurried off in search of information.
"I just can't believe this, Clark. The Planet always seemed to be doing so well. There was never any sign of trouble from the investors. How could they be pulling out on us now? I thought the latest issues were some of our best. Don't you think so, Clark?… Clark?"
"Sorry, Lois. You're right. Somehow, this just doesn't add up. Investors don't just pull out. Something serious has to happen first. Remember, they're making money off the Planet's success, and our level of success in terms of profit hasn't gone down in a while. In fact, if anything, it's been going up."
Jimmy came running up to them holding a file folder stuffed with papers. "CK! Lois! I've got your lists!"
"Slow down, Jimmy," Lois advised. "You're going to wear yourself out before lunch."
"Sorry, Lois. I guess I just want you two to crack this case. I want to know why they're trying to close the Planet."
"Me too, Jimmy," Clark agreed. "Me too."
"Well, I'll see you two around later. Lots to do." He went running off.
Clark laughed. "That boy works harder than most people I know. Now, let's see what he brought us." They opened the folder and began looking through the papers.
"Clark, here's a list of all investors, and the ones who have threatened to pull out are highlighted. Maybe we should start by contacting one of these people. This list gives us names, addresses, and phone numbers."
"My Lois, ever the investigator. Works for me. Who should we call first?"
"Probably this man here, Samuel Peterson the third. He is one of our largest investors and is one of the people threatening to pull out." She picked up the phone and dialed. "I hope this works," she told Clark. "Hello, may I talk to Mr. Peterson please?… My name? Lois Lane… Yes, the reporter from the Daily Planet…No I don't have an appointment. I'd like to talk to him at the earliest time possible…Today at ten o'clock? That's in about fifteen minutes… Yes, yes. That's fine. My partner and I will be there. Thank you." She hung up the phone. "This Mr. Peterson must not be a very popular person, for us to be able to get this appointment."
"We'd better leave, if we want to get there on time."
"You're right." She stood up. "Come on. I'll drive."
Clark walked up behind her and whispered in her ear. "Mmm, forceful. I like that in a woman."
He just grinned at her.
Lois and Clark arrived at Mr. Peterson's office just in time for their appointment. They walked up to the front door, and Lois reached for the handle. Without a word, Clark gently moved past her and opened the door for her. She smiled at him and kissed him on the cheek. She walked in the door, and he followed behind. At a desk in the center of the waiting room sat a woman, most likely his secretary. She was a large woman, but not as in fat. Just large. Her hands, her head, her eyes. They were all larger than those of most people. She had blond hair, that was piled on top of her head and made her at least six inches taller. She was sitting calmly at her desk filing her nails, and not appearing to notice that Lois and Clark were there. Clark glanced at the name plate on her desk. 'Loretta Minis'.
In an effort to get the attention of Loretta Minis, Clark cleared his throat, to no avail. "Umm, excuse me… Ms. Minis?"
"Yes?" she replied, without as much as a glance.
"I'm Clark Kent, and this is my partner…"
"Lane and Kent!" Loretta exclaimed. "You two are the best reporting team at the Daily Planet!"
"Thank you, Ms. Minis," Lois replied. "Anyway, we have an appointment to see Mr. Peterson."
"Yes, yes. Of course you do. I'll let him know that you are here." She pressed a button on her intercom. "Excuse me, Mr. Peterson, but Lane and Kent are here to see you."
"Send them in," came the reply.
"Go ahead in. Mr. Peterson will see you now."
"Thank you very much, Ms. Minis," Lois said.
They entered the office and behind an enormous desk piled with papers sat a small skinny man with wild curly brown hair and tortoise shell glasses. He reminded Lois of a mouse, with his big eyes and twitching nose.
"Good Morning, Mr. Peterson." said Lois. "I'm Lois Lane and this is Clark Kent. We're from the Daily Planet."
He stuick out his hand in a friendly gesture and shook the hands of Lois and Clark.
"Please have a seat. I'm Samuel E. Peterson the third. How can I help you this fine morning?"
"Mr. Kent and I are doing a story on the potential shutdown of the Planet, due to lack of funds. We know that you have threatened to pull out your investment, and we would like to know why."
"Yes, of course, Miss Lane. To begin with, my family has had an investment in the Daily Planet since the first issue. It has become a family tradition that I hoped to pass down to my two sons, Raymond Edward Peterson the fourth, and Norman Matthew Peterson. This has always been my plan, until a few weeks ago. I receive updates on the status of the Planet bi-monthly, and more often if I request. The stocks have always gone up, until about two weeks ago. That is when I received this in the mail." He handed them a paper with a graph of the Planet's success. The line went up steadily month by month, until the current month, where it dropped to about one third of where it had been. "As you can see, the success of the Daily Planet has taken a severe turn for the worse. I would stick with my investment if the net worth went down a little bit, but a drop like this? I just can't afford it."
"Is this the type of report you get every month?" inquired Clark.
"Yes. I can show you others, if you wish."
"That would be greatly appreciated," said Clark.
Peterson walked over to a large filing cabinet and took out a file folder. "This is all the information that I have received for this year. You can use it for as long as you wish. I have back up copies, but those are the originals, so if possible, I'd like to get them back."
"Thank you very much Mr. Peterson," said Lois. "This should help in our investigation."
"No problem. Anything to help the team of Lane and Kent. I hope you can figure out why the value suddenly dropped like that. I really don't want to pull out my investment, but I really can't afford to lose money like this for too much longer."
They turned and left the office. They said goodbye to Loretta and went outside. They climbed into the car.
"Where to now, Lois?"
"Back to the Planet, I guess."
"Sounds good to me."
She started the car and they drove off. "Clark, I still can't believe this is happening."
Clark was looking at the papers that Peterson had given them. "It may not be happening."
"What do you mean?"
"Well, this may not mean anything, but excluding the most recent graph, all others have had a specific watermark printed in the paper. This one has a similar watermark, but it's not the same as the others. This could mean that the people who print these have switched paper companies, or it could be a forgery."
"But why would someone want to forge documents like these?"
"Maybe this person wants to close the Planet."
They arrived back at the Planet.
"But who? And why?"
"I don't know. But I'm sure we can figure it out."
"I certainly hope so."
Perry noticed their arrival. "Hey you two. Any leads?"
"Actually, Perry, yes," replied Lois. "It's only a small one, but a lead, nevertheless."
"Go to it kids."
"No problem, Chief," said Clark.
They went to their desks and started to work. "Clark, the first thing we need to do is find out who prints these reports."
"That shouldn't be too hard. The name of the company is on this envelope."
"Then let's contact that person."
Lois and Clark placed a call to a man named Joseph Manheim, who told them that he hadn't changed companies in years. He offered to send over a copy of the papers that had been sent out to all the Planet's investors. Lois and Clark agreed that this was the way to proceed.
After they had finished talking to Mr. Manheim, Clark made a proposition to Lois.
"Lois, the papers won't be here for at least half an hour. It's almost lunch time, so why don't we go get something to eat. I know the perfect place."
Clark's idea of the perfect place for lunch wasn't in Metropolis. In fact, it was in Smallsville. Together they had flown to the home of Clark's parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent. Lois smiled. This was a nice place to be.
"Clark! Lois! It's so nice to see you two," exclaimed Martha.
"We're only here for lunch, Mom, but it's nice to see you, too."
"We heard about the Planet, son," said Jonathan.
"Yes, and we're so sorry."
"Thanks Martha," said Lois. "We are too."
"Don't get too worried, though, Mom. Lois and I have a lead on this story, and I think it's a good sign."
"That's great you two. Now, I've prepared a wonderful lunch for you two. Come on before it gets cold."
"Hey, what about me?" asked Jonathan. "Don't I get any lunch?"
"Don't worry, Jonathan. I think I've made enough for you, too.
"Martha, that was wonderful. You are going to have to show me how to cook like that some day."
"Lois, first she's going to have to teach you to cook."
"Clark!" cried Martha.
Lois just laughed. "No, Martha, he's right. I can't cook very well at all. One night I tried to cook him a romantic dinner. He ended up putting out the flames."
"Mom, thank you so much for the meal. I'd love to stay, and I'm sure Lois would too, but we really have to get back to the Planet."
"Clark's right. Thank you both for having us over."
"Oh, it was great seeing you two. Good luck."
Clark gave his mother a big hug. "Thanks, Mom. Thanks, Dad."
They said their good byes and went outside. Clark lifted her into his arms and they flew off.
By the time they returned to the Planet, their package from Joseph Manheim was there waiting for them.
"Great timing, CK," said the ever vigilant Jimmy. "This package just came for you two."
"Hey Jimmy?" asked Lois. "Have you had lunch yet?"
"Not yet. But I'm not really hungry. I just want to make sure the Planet is okay."
"Jimmy," said Clark. "Go eat lunch."
"But CK, I'm not even hungry."
"Jimmy," said Lois.
"All right, all right. I'll go." He left, but not without making sure everything was in place first.
Lois opened the envelope. She pulled out a sheet of paper and looked at it. "Clark!"
He stepped behind her and looked over her shoulder at the paper she was holding. "The Planet's net worth hasn't gone down! In fact, it has gone up." He went to get the other sheet of paper. Lois followed him over to his desk. "And the watermarks are different, too. The graph that was sent out to the investors was a forgery."
Lois picked up the phone and began to dial.
"Who are you calling, Lois?"
"I'm calling Mr. Manheim to tell him that the investors never received the correct graph. I'm also going to ask him to send out the correct copies of the graph to the investors." She motioned for him to be quiet. "Hello, this is Lois Lane of the Daily Planet. May I please speak to Mr. Manheim. It is a matter of some urgency." She looked over at Clark. "They're putting me through."
"Thank you very much, Mr. Manheim. Goodbye."
"How did it go?" Clark asked.
"Great. He is going to fax out copies of the correct graphs to all of the investors. I'm sure that after they see the correct information, they'll change their minds about pulling out their investments."
"Lois, do you want to tell the Chief, or should I?"
"We did this as a team. Let's tell him together."
Together they went back to Perry's office. He looked very glum.
"Perry," began Lois.
"Please don't tell me that you have any bad news. I have had enough of that for today."
"Actually, Chief, we have great news."
"Clark's right. Perry, the Daily Planet hasn't been losing money. In fact, we've been making money. The investors received a forged copy of a graph of our net worth."
"We called Joseph Manheim, the man in charge of creating and distributing the net worth graphs. He is faxing copies of the correct graphs to all of the investors as we speak."
"Lois! Clark! That's wonderful!" He jumped out of his seat, gave Lois a great bear hug, and spun her around. He set her down and looked at Clark like he planned to hug him, too. Clark quickly stuck out his hand. Perry grasped it with both hands and shook it vigorously.
"You two are the best! I've got to tell everyone." He went running out of the room, leaving Lois and Clark behind. They could hear the commotion outside.
Lois walked up to Clark and stood less than two inches away from him. "I guess we make a great team, don't we."
"Yes we do."
"So are you going to kiss me, or are we just going to stand here?"
"Just waiting for the right moment." He wrapped his arms around her and pullsed her tight. He kissed her full on the lips and she responded to it immediately. He kissed her ears and then moved on down to her neck.
"Hmm?" he asked, still kissing her neck.
"I love you so much."
He stopped and looked directly into her eyes. "I love you, too, Lois Lane."
There was the sound of someone clearing his throat in the doorway. Lois and Clark turned to look. Perry was standing in the doorway.
"Should I come back later?"
"Sorry, Chief," said Clark.
"That's okay. You two deserve some time alone. I mean, you just saved the Planet."
"Actually, Perry," said Lois. "We still have a lot of work to do. We know that all the investors received forged copies of the graphs. But we don't know who made the switch. Or why. We've only got part of the puzzle completed. We still have more to do."
"She's right, Chief. We're not going to stop until we complete this case."
"Well, if you two plan to keep going on this case, then you better get moving."
"Well, Clark. Where do we begin?"
"Well, Lois, I think we should begin with the courier service that Joseph Manheim uses. The papers may have been switched there."
"I'll call Manheim's office."
"And I'll call Mr. Peterson to see if he noticed anything different about the delivery of the last graph he received."
"What did you find out, Clark?"
"I found out that Manheim is using the Albertson courier service to deliver the graphs. He uses other services in other parts of his job."
"I think I've heard of the Albertson service. They've been around for a while, haven't they?"
"They have. They're one of the oldest services in Metropolis. Did you learn anything from Mr. Peterson?"
"Actually, I didn't learn much from him, but Loretta was a big help. The same courier had been coming with the graphs for almost a year now. Loretta was friends with him. His name is Larry Smith. But this time, the courier was a different person. Loretta described him as a shifty sort, with eyes that continually darted around the room. She said he wasn't very friendly, either."
"That sounds kind of suspicious to me."
"I think we should put in a call to the Albertson service."
"That's exactly what I was thinking."
"Lois, guess what I just found out. The courier who delivered the graphs is new to the service. And guess what his name is."
"Kyle Zingo. And do you know who his father is?"
"Charles Zingo," said Lois with a flash of realization.
"Exactly. The man who was in charge of the diamond smuggling ring."
"And we cracked that case."
"And it was published in this morning's issue of the Planet."
"It all makes sense now, Clark. Zingo got worried because we were getting close to cracking the story…"
"…And exposing him."
"So he tried to shut the Planet down before we could reveal his secret…"
"But we cracked the case before he could shut us down."
"It was a perfect plan, Clark."
"But it failed."
"True, but he's probably pretty angry about not getting his way, plus the fact that he's now in jail. What if he tries something else?"
"We'll make sure that he can't."
Lois and Clark notified the Metropolis Police Department who were very grateful for their help. Kyle Zingo had been committing petty thefts for a few weeks now, and with forgery added to his repertoire, he was going to be in jail, along with his dad, for a long time.
"Another case solved by Lane and Kent," said Clark.
"We do make a pretty good team, don't we."
"Yes we do."
Evening at the Daily Planet, most people had gone home, but a few still remained to finish up bits and pieces of articles for the next day's issue. Among those remaining were Lois, Clark, Perry, and Jimmy.
"Lois! Clark! You two never cease to amaze me," said Perry, holding a stack of papers. "I can't believe this story."
"Like I told you before, Chief, pure talent."
"Clark, this morning, I took that as a joke, but now I think it might be true. How else could you two constantly write such great stories?"
"Thanks, Perry," said Lois.
"Anyway, the reason I came to talk to you is this." He motioned to Jimmy, who was across the room. "Come here, boy. Jimmy and I were talking, and we really want you two to have an engagement announcement published in the paper. You deserve it. The people deserve it. Without you, the Planet wouldn't be here anymore. I strongly encourage it."
"Me, too," said Jimmy. "The chief and I will write it together."
Clark glanced over at Lois. She shrugged her shoulders as if to say 'Why not?' "Sounds good to us. How about we start on it in the morning?"
"Actually, CK, we were hoping to get it done tonight."
"The thing is, Clark," said Perry sheepishly. "We were hoping to get it in tomorrow's issue. We've already reserved a spot for it in the local section. We even have room for a photo. We were hoping we could use that one." He pointed to a recent picture of Lois and Clark that was sitting on Clark's desk. "Are you ready to start?"
"Wow, Perry," said Lois. "You're really excited about this, aren't you."
"Yes I am. Now, time's wasting. Let's get started."
"Okay, okay. Where do you want to start?" asked Lois.
"At the beginning. Where did you two first meet?"
"Actually," said Lois, "we met right here on Clark's first day at the Planet."
"That's appropriate. Was it love at first sight?"
Lois and Clark glanced at each other and they both started to laugh.
"I'm guessing that's a no. How long had you known each other before…"
After they finished the interview, Lois and Clark went to Clark's apartment for dinner. They were going to attempt to cook it together. Lois stood in the middle of the kitchen while Clark got out the ingredients needed to make homemade Fettucini Alfredo.
"Let's see, we've got fettucini noodles, butter… Wait a minute, we don't have any fresh parmesan cheese, only the kind in the can. I'll go get some." He spun around and ended up in his Superman suit. "Be right back," he said, and he flew out the window. Seconds later, he was back.
"That took you longer than usual. Where did you go to get that cheese? Italy?"
"Yep. Had to get the good kind."
"Clark, you know I can't cook. How am I supposed to help cook something as complicated as Fettucini Alfredo?"
"It's not hard. We'll cook it together. Here." He handed her the cheese and the cheese grater. "You grate the cheese and I'll start the noodles."
Lois tried to grate the cheese, and found that it was harder than it looked.
"Lois, it's really not that difficult. Here, let me show you." He stepped behind her, gently took the grater and the cheese out of her hand and demonstrated how to grate the cheese. "See? You just…" He trailed off after he noticed her staring at him. "What?" he asked.
"You're so cute when you're explaining things."
He set the cheese and grater down and lifted her into his arms. He kissed her passionately and she responded immediately. He lifted her onto the counter and smiled at her.
"Lois, I would love to do this all night, but we have to get this meal cooked."
"I know." She hopped off the counter and went back to grating the cheese. Clark finished with the noodles and watched her grate the cheese.
"What?" she asked.
"Clark, that was wonderful. I didn't know you could cook so well."
"You mean we."
"Okay. I didn't know we could cook so well. Tonight has been wonderful."
"It's not over yet." He got up and walked over to the couch. He gestured for her to come sit with him.
"What about the dishes?"
"I'll get them later. It's no big deal."
She came to the couch and curled up next to him.
"This is nice," she said.
"Yes it is." He kissed her again, and she again responded immediately.