By Pam Jernigan (ChiefPam@nc.rr.com) (ChiefPam on the IRC)
Summary: The Secret Service agent assigned to Lois and Clark can't believe their attitude: they've all been kidnapped, but those two act like they're out on a Sunday stroll. The full title is "All the President's Men (can't keep Lois Lane out of trouble)." A sequel to the fanfic "President Kent."
[Note: This is a sequel to PRESIDENT KENT. If you haven't read the original, you should read that before this — get fanfic preskent.txt from the archive. My ideas about the Secret Service come mainly from Tom Clancy novels and that one Clint Eastwood movie, so please forgive any inaccuracies. I think I saw somewhere that Secret Service doesn't just protect the President and his family, they also investigate counterfeiting and some other cop stuff; they do in my universe anyway. <g>] Thanks to Sarah Wood & Chris Mulder, as always, for putting up with my early drafts. Thanks to Debbie Manning for helping me polish it up. Also, I have to thank the FOLCs in SFMEDTwo on CIS for helping me come up with code names <g>
"I hate it when I get kidnapped," Lois announced to her cell-mates. This was actually not true; after spending a sedate year on the campaign trail, she was enjoying the excitement. Clark was right there with her, after all, even if he did have to be careful. Their Secret Service agent, Keith Jackson, had been grabbed along with them, and his presence slowed things down somewhat.
"You do not," Clark contradicted her amiably. He wasn't particularly thrilled to be in this situation, but the mild tonic of danger was making Lois sparkle, and he did so love it when she sparkled.
She grinned, earning and ignoring a quizzical look from Keith. "Well, it doesn't matter; Superman will get us out pretty soon." Just as soon as one of them figured out how to do it without rousing Keith's suspicions, that is…
Keith had had the worst of the short fight when they'd been kidnapped. He could feel a bruise starting to spread on his cheek, but with his dark coloring, he suspected the others hadn't noticed it yet. He fully expected to lose his job over this fiasco, but the most important thing was to get the civilians out of here, and he intended to do his best. "We need to try to escape on our own, and not count on Superman. I mean, where was he an hour ago, when we were grabbed?"
Nettled, Clark stood. "Well, I guess he thought he could relax, since the Secret Service was on the case." ***
In the White House, Maxwell Morton stood outside the Oval Office composing himself. He was the new head of the Secret Service, and he hated to begin his service to the new president with bad news… but it wouldn't get any better while he waited in a hallway. He knocked on the office door and entered wearing his best expression of competence. "Madam President, Mr. Kent" He nodded respectfully to the new Commander in Chief and her husband.
Martha Kent looked up from the paperwork to greet him. She'd thought, during the campaign, that she'd known all there was to know… but since officially taking on the office of President, she'd been amazed by how much information a dedicated government organization could amass, and she felt she had to read it all. Thank goodness for Jonathan, and his placid good sense. He'd calmed her down, reassured her, and insisted that she take breaks, so that she didn't burn out in her first week in office.
"Yes, Mr. Morton, what is it?"
"Madam President… I'm afraid that Boy Scout and Firefly have been abducted." Maxwell braced himself for a dreaded bout of feminine hysteria.
She blinked in confusion. "Who?"
Maxwell colored slightly. "Sorry, ma'am. Those are the Secret Service code names for your son and daughter-in- law."
Martha closed her eyes, leaned back in the chair, and sighed loudly. "Oh for pete's sake, already?" She rubbed the bridge of her nose with one hand, trying to stave off a headache. She'd only been in office for two days; wasn't there supposed to be a honeymoon period?
Jonathan looked up sharply. "How and when did this happen, Mr. Morton?"
Maxwell stared at the President, slightly nonplussed by her reaction, but the First Gentleman's question snapped him out of it. "It was several hours ago, Mr. Kent. They had been visiting the Daily Planet's newsroom. A van drove up, and two men on the sidewalk pushed them all into it. It was a very well coordinated operation. Keith Jackson, one of my newer men, was with them as security; he was taken too. My back-up man saw it all, but wasn't close enough to effect a rescue."
Jonathan looked over at his wife, and their eyes met in silent understanding. Clark hadn't been able to do anything because of their "protectors". They'd known that Secret Service would be a complicating factor, but they hadn't yet found time to address that problem. Obviously they'd left it a little late. ***
"Mr. Kent, are you good in a fight? Mrs. Kent, you can probably hide behind the cots, to stay out of the way." Keith was doing his best to coordinate them, but they weren't paying too much attention to him. Clark, who'd explained that his bonds had "mysteriously" not held, had already untied the other two.
Clark laughed at that. "You really don't know us well, do you? Lois is better in a hand-to-hand fight than I am." He leaned forward conspiratorially. "She fights dirty."
Lois rolled her eyes. "Thanks, Clark, for that image boost."
"Well, if you're sure…" Keith looked doubtfully at the seemingly delicate "Firefly". He frankly didn't understand their lack of concern over the situation. Mrs. Kent seemed to be having a wonderful time, and her husband acted as if he were humoring her. They were clearly both waiting for Superman to show up. Though he would never admit it out loud, Keith shared their hope. Superman had been his idol ever since college, and the chance to meet him was one of the reasons he'd tried to get this assignment. Still, his sense of duty wouldn't permit him to sit around and wait.
"Look, when they open the door, Keith will tackle the first guy, I'll get the second, and Clark will take the third guy, if there is one." In typical fashion, Lois took over the little group. "Keith, why don't you see if you can work on getting the door open?"
Glad for a plan, any plan, to follow, Keith tackled the metal door. He noted peripherally that the other two withdrew to the other end of the room for a low-voiced conference, but he studiously ignored them. Secret Service agents were trained not to spy on their charges.
At the back of the room, Lois whispered her plan to Clark. "When they open the door, you think you can speed out of here, tie up everybody out there, and be back in here by the time we finish our little fight? That way we can tell Keith that Superman did drop by to help, without letting him know that you're it."
"No," he disagreed equally softly. "That would make the timing too coincidental. Keith would notice; he's not stupid. That's the trouble with these Secret Service people. How about you distract him," Clark suggested. "I'll break out through the wall, tie them all up, and jump back in here. That way it'll look like Superman just breezed on through and let us out."
Lois considered that plan for a moment. "If you break out, won't the debris be outside the cell? It'd be hard to make it look like you broke *in*."
Clark pulled down his glasses to survey the building outside their cell. "I've got it. I'll go out the west wall, tie them up, and come back in through the east wall… that gives one entry, one exit. Who'd be able to tell which came first?"
Lois nodded, impressed. "One distraction, coming up…"
"Stay low," he cautioned her.
She nodded understanding and approached Keith. "Any luck with the door?" she asked at normal volume.
"No, it's pretty solid. If I had my other shoes, I could try picking the lock…" He glanced up at her speculatively. "I don't suppose you have a hairpin?"
Lois rolled her eyes in exasperation. "No, I don't have a hairpin. Why do men always assume women have hairpins? I mean, look at me, does this hairstyle *need* hairpins?" Keith held out placating hands, careful not to touch her, but she ignored him. She squatted down next to him, casting an expert eye over the lock in question. "Besides, you'd need something longer for that one. I've got some long wands in my purse, but they took that."
"You carry lockpicks in your purse?" Keith's image of "Firefly" was obviously undergoing some rapid and drastic changes.
"You'd be surprised at what I carry in my purse," she predicted smugly.
Keith's reply was lost in what seemed like an explosion. When their heads cleared and the dust settled, they looked around to find that one of the cots had been set on its side, protecting them from the debris strewn about by the creation of holes in two walls of their cell.
Lois looked around to see Clark sitting behind them, looking convincingly surprised. She suppressed a smile and crawled over to him, checking his hair for cement dust.
"Lois, are you okay?" Clark asked in a low voice. Setting up the cot to shield them from potential flying debris had been risky; if Superman had really been breaking in from the outside, he'd have had a hard time arranging that. But he couldn't leave Lois unprotected.
"I'm fine, honey. I think Superman did a great job." She smiled a brilliant smile, just for him, exhilarated to be back in action after so long.
"That was Superman?" Keith asked, apparently a little dazed by the speed of events.
Lois turned to look at him over her shoulder. "Didn't I tell you we could count on him?"
"Yeah, you did." He looked oddly wistful for a moment. "I just wish I could have met him."
"Oh, I think you will, Keith," Clark predicted wearily. "One way or another." ***
"Mr. Morton, we need to talk, to set up some other security arrangements." Jonathan stood, feeling that it would be best to strike while the iron was hot. "As soon as Clark and Lois get back, I'll want to have a meeting with you and your man — you said his name was Keith?"
Maxwell frowned, puzzled. This couple was not what he expected. He wasn't consciously chauvinistic, but he did harbor certain vague notions that women should do "women stuff," and men should do "men stuff," and Martha and Jonathan Kent broke those stereotypes left and right. Quite frankly, he'd expected that any man whose wife was the one running for office would be, well, henpecked, to put it politely. Instead, they seemed to act as a team in their unusual roles. He looked to the President, to see what her reaction would be to this suggestion. She had gone back to reading papers, so she didn't notice his gaze, but Jonathan did.
He chuckled. "Martha, Mr. Morton wants your approval."
She looked up. "Oh yes, Mr. Morton, you need to have that meeting. In fact, I've looked into what positions it's legal for Presidential relatives to hold, and I want you to know I'm putting my husband in charge of all our security arrangements — he'll be your liaison to me."
"That will be fine, Madam President." Maxwell tried to hide his relief. A clear chain of command made him feel much better. They'd need to change Mr. Kent's Secret Service code name, though. "Farmer" just wasn't respectful enough for their Presidential contact.
Martha looked at the clock on the desk. "Let's say five PM, shall we? Clark and Lois should be back by then; they ought to be in on the meeting."
Jonathan nodded agreement. "That time works for me. Mr. Morton, do you have any conflicts then?"
"You expect them back that quickly?" Maxwell squinted at him in confusion. "I'm gratified that you have such confidence in my men, but I really can't guarantee anything…"
Jonathan held out a hand to stop the confused flow of words. "No," he corrected gently. "We have faith in Superman." ***
Lois, Clark, and Keith were back at the White House long before the meeting time. They went their separate ways to wash up and give their statements to the other Secret Service agents, but met up again to make their way to the meeting. When they arrived, they found Jonathan and Mr. Morton there already, leafing through some files.
"Hello, son, hi Lois."
"Hi Dad… have you met Keith Jackson? He's our assigned agent."
Jonathan looked the agent up and down, noting the flash of white bandage on the agent's dark cheek. "Pleased to meet you, Keith." He held out his hand, and Keith took it for a brief, but firm handclasp.
Keith swallowed hard. "Mr. Kent, after my poor showing today, I'm prepared to offer my resignation."
"Nonsense." Jonathan waved the suggestion away. "I've been looking through your file, here, and it's very impressive. You always did a fine job on the investigation side, you're just new to the protection detail. Live and learn." He gestured towards the table. "If everyone would like to be seated?"
Relieved, Keith sat, and resolved to be very inconspicuous for awhile.
"We're all here now, then? Fine." Jonathan looked around. He sat at the head of the oval table, with Clark and then Lois to his right, discreetly holding hands. The Secret Service men sat opposite them. The arrangement was more confrontational than he'd have liked, but he supposed it was inevitable.
"Mr. Morton," the First Gentleman began, "We need to re-think security arrangements for my son and his wife. They have always gotten into trouble, and I don't think the entire Secret Service could keep them out of it." His gaze landed on Lois, who ducked her head to hide a smile. "Also, they intend to return to their old jobs as reporters, at least as much as their new notoriety will permit." Now Jonathan stared at his son, in an unspoken and unnecessary message of caution.
Keith stirred uneasily, but didn't interrupt. Mr. Morton fussed with some files in his briefcase.
"Ever since these two have worked together… how long has it been, Clark?"
"Since I met Lois? Seems like only yesterday." He smiled at her. "But it's funny, because I can't remember what my life was like before her."
Lois, who'd been ready to give the exact total in years and months, melted at that reply, and could only smile back at her husband.
Jonathan chuckled at the two of them. It was always interesting to see the effects of danger on people. Keith was still shaken — not enough to affect his performance noticeably, but it was there. Clark and Lois, on the other hand, just turned more strongly towards each other.
"As I was saying, ever since these two teamed up, they've had Superman watching over them. He's gotten them safely to this point, including the rescue today. I plan to give him sole responsibility for their safety, officially." That drew Clark's attention.
"No Secret Service to protect them?" Mr. Morton was shocked. "I cannot endorse this!"
"Well, actually," Jonathan drawled, looking at some papers, "you don't have to. As the liaison to the President, I have that authority. Withdraw all Secret Service agents from Clark and Lois Kent."
Lois looked very cheered by this development. "That'll be great, Jonathan! I was wondering if any of my sources would want to talk where they could be overheard by Secret Service agents, and they'd really complicate undercover work…"
Mr. Morton looked vaguely panicked. "I simply can't do that." At Jonathan's stern look, he quailed, and back- pedaled quickly. "Not until I have confirmation that Superman is really on the job."
Clark sighed. "All right, I'll go try and find him. But you can't have anyone follow me — Superman's entitled to some secrets."
Morton nodded reluctantly, and indicated that Keith should communicate that to the agents in the hall. Keith and Clark left together, while Jonathan and Mr. Morton fell into a softly-spoken argument. Keith reentered a minute later. His air of shellshock had been replaced by one of suppressed excitement. Lois smiled sympathetically as she recognized his case of "Superman fever".
He saw her smile, and whispered across the table to her, "So, what's he like? You're friends, right? Do you… hang out together?"
Lois grinned at the mental picture of Superman chilling out in a sports bar with Clark. "Not really. He's… not the kind of guy you hang out with, if you know what I mean." Although sometimes he did forget to change, and she'd come into the room to see Superman floating in mid-air, enraptured by a football game… Her grin widened involuntarily. "He's usually very dedicated to his work."
"Oh." Keith sat back to digest that, not sure how to take it.
They settled back to wait. Clark would need to get off the White House grounds before he'd feel safe to change; that should take only a few minutes. Lois pictured Clark hovering somewhere above the White House, unsure of how to make an entrance that wouldn't be too coincidental. After she felt enough time had elapsed, she smiled slightly. "This is taking too long," she announced, eliciting a surprised frown from Jonathan. She stood, walked over to the window, took a deep breath, and yelled "Superman!"
Almost before she'd finished his name he was there, hovering outside the window, looking concerned. She smiled to reassure him, and his worried look melted away as comprehension dawned. Safely facing away from the men in the room, she winked at him. He kept his serious expression intact, although the corners of his mouth twitched, and gestured towards the window. She inspected it — it was thicker than normal glass, probably bulletproof, and didn't seem to open. He shrugged and disappeared.
Seconds later, there was a tap on the door, causing all heads to swivel in that direction. The door opened, and Superman entered, looking at Lois.
"You screamed?" he inquired politely.
She grinned. "Yes, we needed you for a meeting. Clark's gone looking for you, but I thought this might be faster."
Superman walked over to the table to shake hands with Jonathan and Mr. Morton. Then he reduced Keith to a stunned silence by the simple expedient of greeting him by name.
He turned back to his father. "Well, Mr. Kent, what can I do for you?"
"As today's events proved, my son and daughter-in- law need alternate security arrangements. I'm putting you in charge of their security; I know I can trust you with it."
Superman smiled. "I'll look after them just as if they were my family."
Jonathan chuckled. "I know you will, s-Superman. Mr. Morton, is that good enough for you?"
Mr. Morton had resigned himself to the plan by this time, and was busy mentally re-allocating his men. "Yes, as long as I see a Presidential Order authorizing this unusual arrangement."
"It'll be on your desk tomorrow, Mr. Morton," Jonathan promised. "Superman, thank you for your cooperation — now maybe you'd better get started by finding my son before he gets into more trouble out there."
Superman looked briefly exasperated at the teasing before he gained control of his expression. "Yes, sir." Nodding to Mr. Morton and Keith, he turned and walked out. ***
Lois left the men in conference room discussing other security issues. She found Clark coming up the hall, and they kissed hello. "Hey there, handsome."
He smiled, but looked distracted. "What is it?" she whispered.
"Secret Service guys talking in the conference room… I don't usually eavesdrop, but they mentioned your name…" Suddenly he smiled. "They're talking about your code name. They had been calling you Firefly, but Keith thinks they should change it — to Spitfire." He lost interest in their conversation and returned his focus to his wife.
She smiled. "I could handle "Spitfire". You know what they call you, don't you? Your father told me…"
Clark shook his head, putting his arm around her shoulders and starting them down the hallway.
"Boy Scout." She giggled.
He grinned wryly. "Well, I don't mind. They can call me anything they like, as long as they *don't* call me Superman."
Actually, this is only the end for now; I already have sequel ideas dancing in my head… anything you'd like to see? Write and tell me; I might be able to fit it in — that's how this one got started <g>