All In A Day's Work

By IRC Round Robin Fanfic

Rated: G Submitted

February 17, 1998

Summary: When Perry goes out of town, it's Clark that fills the Editor-in-Chief's shoes. With a little help from Lois, he takes on Ralph, The Daily Planet, Beverly the Caterer and just about every other job for Superman. By Anne, ChrisM, Doris, Eileen, Lansbury and Zoomway.

By Anne (, ChrisM (, Doris (, Eileen (, Lansbury (, and Zoomway (


Clark stood in the middle of Perry's office and couldn't think of a thing to say. He was going to be Chief Editor for a while. There were probably about a million things he should have been asking Perry, but he couldn't think of a single one right now. Perry was throwing out orders and recommendations and reminders faster than even Clark could take them down. His head was in a whirl.

Had Lois felt like this the time she got named Chief Editor? Maybe it had been worse for her, though. When she'd gotten her promotion, she'd had no way of knowing for sure that it was only going to be temporary. At least Clark knew that he'd be able to go back to his old job as soon as Perry returned from San Francisco. He should be able to handle things for a couple of days. Of course he could, he reassured himself silently as he wrote down yet another one of Perry's clipped remarks. Geez, but editors have to keep up with a lot of stuff. Even with all that was going on, however, Clark couldn't completely lose his sense of humor. This time, he thought with glee, it will be Lois who's sleeping with the boss.

As if thinking of her could make her materialize, she suddenly appeared at his elbow and craned around his arm to look at the notes he was making. Clark looked up long enough to give her a welcoming smile which was tinged with apprehension.

"And another thing …"

Their editor's voice snapped them back from the silent little exchange they were sharing. They stopped smiling at one another and turned to him.

"Yes, Chief?"

"Well, I, um … That is …"

He was hedging a bit over whatever he was trying to say—a sharp contrast to the decisive tones of just a few moments before. Lois and Clark glanced at each other again. What was up? They waited, wondering why Perry should suddenly be so shy. His face took on a more determined look and he scooped his now stuffed briefcase off his desk and began to head for his office door.

"It's like this. Alice might be joining me in San Francisco." He could see that his two reporters were pleased with his announcement, but held up a hand to interrupt any congratulatory exclamations. "Now don't get all worked up about it. It might not mean anything. But, well …it's a beginning … maybe."

Clark recovered first. "Sure, Chief. We understand. Good luck."

"Thanks, Clark. I 'preciate that." He looked over at the Elvis clock on his wall. "Judas Priest! I'd better scoot. You'll be fine, Clark."

Clark didn't seem so sure about that, but he smiled at Perry anyway. "Thanks for the vote of confidence, Chief."

"See you two in a few days," Perry said and then he turned and headed for the elevators, shouting out on the way for Jimmy to behave himself while he was gone.

In the silence and calm left after Perry's departure, Lois and Clark looked at each other. "Any suggestions?" Clark asked his wife.

She leaned forward to give him a quick kiss and a smile. "Well, as a matter of fact I do, but since we can't do anything about them here, you'd better just sit down at that desk and get to work, because …" she pointed towards the newsroom and the people they could both see hovering there,"… you're about to get very popular."

The next hour and a half left Clark's head spinning. Superpowers or not, he felt somewhat overwhelmed. Trying to listen to several people at once while giving orders at the same time was hard, though. In addition, he had to make a conscious effort to block out what his superhearing picked up.

People in the newsroom were whispering among themselves. They were speculating about his promotion, temporary as it was. Most were supportive or at least indifferent, but some were wondering, even envious. Clark had picked up a little of that when Lois had sat at this desk, but had put it down to Lois' being a woman and perhaps promoted permanently.

Clark had not been exactly thrilled when Perry had surprised him with the news that morning. He had done his best to talk his way out of it gracefully, but all the senior staff were either out or otherwise occupied.

In addition, Franklin Stern had taken a personal interest in the best reporting team the Planet had. He had also set up a program to give promising young staff members a chance to experience management firsthand. His "Shoot for the Top" program was as worthwhile as it was demanding. Through it, some of the younger staff members had been able to fill in on the management floor, and Jimmy had substituted for the head photographer while he was on vacation. Jimmy had been thrilled to bits, but Clark liked his position. He liked to be hands-on on the job and, most of all, work together with Lois whenever possible. Editor-in-Chief was a lonely position. They had had a taste of that a few months ago when Lois had sat at this very desk.

Clark still felt a pang of guilt at what had happened then. He was confident that they had learned from the experience, wouldn't make the same mistakes again. Yet he couldn't shake the nagging feeling of apprehension and anxiety that had settled in his stomach. Lois was going to be *out there* while he was jockeying his editor's desk. She was daring at the best of times, reckless at others. It was one of the points they were still getting into arguments over from time to time.

Lois and he had been working on investigating money laundering that they suspected Intergang to be involved in though they didn't have proof yet at that point. If the people from Intergang got wind of their suspicions, things could get dangerous, very dangerous. Lois was never one to turn away from danger, but rather seemed to thrive on it. He had soon learned that trying to restrain her only seem to spark her on to be even gutsier, as if to spite him. Thus instead of constraining her, he either worked by her side or hovered in the background as unobtrusively as possible. This time, *he* was restrained, however. Any hovering would need to be done from behind his desk, and he was afraid he might not be able to come to her aid in time if she needed him.

During the morning, his superhearing had picked up several emergencies that Superman would have otherwise attended to. Nothing vitally important thus far, but Clark still felt frustrated that he hadn't been able to help. Now was the first time since Perry had left that he had a moment to himself and was able to try and catch his breath.

He looked up as he heard Lois' footsteps approach outside. She was carrying a stack of papers, but from the look on her face, he knew that it wasn't the papers she wanted to see him about. He breathed a silent sigh of relief when the door closed behind her. He was counting on her to help him when he needed to slip out of the Planet when Superman was needed. He had never been very good at coming up with excuses, and an editor-in-chief was ten times as much in the limelight than a mild-mannered reporter. He smiled as Lois approached his desk and bent to kiss him.

There was a sudden screeching of brakes followed by a loud crash that didn't require superhearing to pick up. He and Lois exchanged a quick glance as as he cocked his head to home in on the scene in the street below.

After a moment, he got to his feet hastily. "I've got to get there. It's bad, Lois, very bad. The ambulances will never make it in time." With that, he passed Lois and made for the door, only to find his way blocked by an excited Ralph who was waving a file at him. Ralph effectively had him cornered. Ralph's "headline story", of course, turned out to be just his usual nattering. Clark tried to make his way past Ralph, but he had him blocked effectively. Clark shot a pleading look at Lois, who winked in answer.

"Ralph…" she began.

The file and Clark were forgotten as he made his way towards Lois. Clark made a quick getaway while Lois led Ralph to her desk. She noticed her husband had left a quick note on her desk on his way out…Thanks for taking care of Ralph. Be back soon. Love, Clark.. Lois smiled as she read the note and placed it inside her middle desk drawer.


Clark as Superman arrived at the scene as people began to collect around the accident. He immediately started pulling the wrecked vehicles apart and began to tend to the injured. He was in the process of stopping the bleeding of one of the victims when the ambulances started to arrive at the scene. Superman told the paramedics what he had done and they took over. Before he left the accident one little boy came over to him and tugged on his cape. Superman looked down and smiled.

"What can I do for you, little fellow?" Superman asked.

The little boy stood in awe grasping his cape. "You are so awesome!" he said. "I want to be just like you when I grow up."

Clark looked down at the little boy. "Thanks for the kind words but you'd better go back to your mother, she's looking for you." Clark pointed over to an anxious looking woman searching the crowd. The little boy ran to his mother but stopped and turned to wave. Superman waved back before making a fast retreat.

Clark was back at the Planet before Lois could get rid of Ralph. He smiled at her and gave a small nod as he exited the elevator.

"Didn't you want to show Clark your file and ask him what he thinks of it?"

"Nah, I'd rather help you." He smiled and leaned forward to say, "You're prettier to look at than the Bossman."

From behind him, Ralph heard a small, "Ahem."

Ralph jerked up and looked sheepishly at Clark. "I think this is what you want, Boss."

Clark looked at Ralph and removed the file from his outreached hand. "Don't call me Boss."

Ralph scurried away before Clark had anything else to say.

Clark shook his head and didn't even bother to hide his grin. He skimmed through the file from Ralph as he walked to his office. Lois watched Clark from where she was, then decided to find out why Superman had been needed. She had a feeling that it wasn't too newsworthy, but it gave her an opportunity to be with him. However as she approached his door, he was heading out again.

"Come on, Lois, staff meeting." He smiled at her as he led her to the conference room. When they got there mostly everyone was waiting. Jimmy flew in after Clark and Lois. Lois took a seat next to Jimmy while Clark began the meeting.

"I'm glad everyone could make it." Clark said pointedly as Ralph sauntered in and took a seat at the far end of the table. "I realize that it's Christmas and we're a little shorthanded now because of vacations and the flu. But Perry suggested some stories he wanted us to cover while he was away and I need to know all your current assignments. Let's start with you, Ralph."

Jimmy snickered as Ralph flushed and dropped his jelly doughnut.

"Er..well,'m currently working on that scandal involving the City Council," Ralph replied lamely.

"What scandal?" Clark asked pointedly.

"The one involving…er…kickbacks, that's it, kickbacks from that construction firm. It's big, really big, it's bound to be a Kerth award winner!"

Clark eyed Ralph skeptically but restrained himself from commenting and proceeded around the table. As the meeting was drawing to a close Jimmy raised his hand.

"Yes, Jimmy?" Clark asked.

"I almost forgot, CK. I ran into Ms. St. John from the front office and she needs to talk to you about our holiday party."

"The Planet's office party?!? Why does she want to talk to me about that? Does she want to change the day or time?"

"Beats me, CK."

Clark shrugged, adjourned the staff meeting, and headed to the elevator. Twenty minutes later he returned to the Planet's newsroom looking more than a little disgruntled. Lois met him at the top of the ramp.

"What happened?" she asked.

"Our holiday party has been co-opted."


"You heard me. The front office has decided that our regular office party should be used to entertain our major advertisers. So instead of our regular Christmas potluck, they want to have a full blown catered affair, and I have to meet with the caterer in ten minutes."

"Well, Clark, how bad could that be?" Lois asked.

Just then the elevator door opened and out walked Beverly, the caterer at their first wedding.

Unlike a fine wine, Beverly had not improved with time. She was even more imperious and opinionated than she'd been while planning Lois and Clark's first almost-wedding. Lois glanced over into Perry's old office from time to time as she worked on her computer. From her vantage point she could see her husband's expression growing more morose with each passing moment.

Looks like a job for Superman's wife, she thought, as she pushed back her chair and rose to her feet.

"So, we're agreed, then," Lois heard as she crossed the threshold into the Chief Editor's turf. "French champagne, lobster bisque, salmon mousse, quiche, fresh vegetables, strawberries, and *no* mini hot dogs."

Lois grinned. Poor Clark. He still wasn't going to get those little hot dogs he liked. His relief when he looked up and saw her standing there was almost enough to make her grin again, but she refrained and tried instead to draw Beverly's fire for a while.

Clark's head was in a whirl. He could stop speeding locomotives, and leap any tall building in town, but when this Beverly person started spouting about lace tablecloths, candelabra and LF&G, he knew he was out of his depth.

He spotted Carl from Travel and Scotty from Sports hovering in the doorway and made an excuse to slip away. It would be a relief to deal with something like front page layouts, a shortage of 3-holed paper or even a broken down printing press … anything but "Tangerine" Beverly!

By the time he got back into his, er, Perry's office, Lois and Beverly had reached a compromise, or rather several of them, and he found to his delight that his wonderful wife had even been able to get the mini hot dogs back on the menu. He put his arm around her as they watched Beverly striding towards the elevator. "I owe you … *big* time, honey," he whispered to her.

Lois turned away from the sight of Beverly repeatedly and vigorously pressing the button for the elevator, and reached up to try and tickle Clark's chin. "You bet you do, big fella, and don't think I won't collect on that later, either."

"That's all that's keeping me going today, Lois. The thought of 'later.'"

"I know, sweetheart. Believe me, I know. And when Perry gets back we've got our own little Christmas celebration to look forward to, too."

"I can hardly wait, Lois. Only one day on the job and I'm even more in awe of Perry."

"You're doing fine, Clark. The paper's nearly ready to go, right?"

"Yeah, it is—"

The phone rang and Clark went over to answer it. "Kent here." Lois could only hear his side of the conversation. "Oh, hi, I— …Really? That's great, but—….Oh, I see, but—….Are you sure? Couldn't you—?…Okay. Sure. Okay. See you then."

Lois watched Clark as he slowly put down the phone. "What is it, honey?"

"That was Perry. Alice made it to San Francisco after all."

"That's good, isn't it?" She couldn't understand why Clark should be looking so tired and discouraged.

"Oh, sure, honey, I'm happy for them. Only it means that Perry won't be home the day after tomorrow now. He and Alice have decided to stay a few extra days because she thinks it's very romantic out there. They won't be back for a week."

"A week?!" Lois said incredulously. Then seeing the rising panic in Clark's eyes she attempted to calm herself. "Well.. er, that's not so bad… We can handle that," Lois said as she gave Clark a reassuring smile. "Look how well things have gone today."

As if on cue a horde of Planet staffers crowded into Perry's office just as Clark's superhearing kicked in on the police sirens and ambulances heading towards the Metropolis airport. As the staffers surrounded his desk, Clark caught Lois's eye and gave a slight tug to his tie.

"Oy," Lois mumbled to herself.

Clark raised his eyebrows, the next step in his urgency signal to Lois. She bit her lip trying to think of something before he reached before he reached the 'puffing-out-words-backing-out-pointing-at-nothing' signal.

"Clark, the mayor…wants..the..uh.."

"Yes, and unfortunately only I have that..uh.."

"Right! So go!"

"On my way."

Lois just shook her head. They'd said nothing, but boy, it sounded urgent. The staff, sweeping its unified glance from the departing editor and back to the woman who filled the void, again found their disharmonious whine. Lois raised her arms. "Enough!"


Clark felt guilty…but relieved. He hated dumping all of the wolves on Lois, but given he was Superman, and this was an emergency…who was he kidding. A cat up a tree would have gotten him out of there. He hovered over the airport a moment looking down on the chaos. There was smoke, lights, and people like ants in a blazing anthill running in all directions.


"Ants," Lois said in disgust. "They can't think for themselves." She dropped the folders on her desk and watched the occasional pantomime of 'sounds like' with someone straddling a broomstick pointing at the editor's office.


Clark landed on the runway. People were running in such panic they ran right into him and then picked themselves up from the surface, only to scurry away. He finally grabbed one elderly man whose face was nearly as red as the emergency lights visible through the smoke.

"Let me go!" he wailed.

Clark looked at him. "It's all right, sir. I can help."

The man looked at him indignantly. "Help me what? Park my car? Do my taxes? Unless you've got Superman in your pocket then kindly let me continue running for my life!"

Clark let his hands slip away and noticed he hadn't changed into Superman. He looked around and spun. "God," he whispered. "Does it have to be *so* Monday?"

He ran into the smoke, and now there were whispers of "Thank God" and "It's Superman!"

Clark sighed, "That's more like it."

Meanwhile back in the Jungle, er…Planet..Lois had gotten things back under control a little. 'Clark, you *are* going to owe me big time for this,' she thought. She was already planning an assault for tonight. In the short time Clark had been gone she managed to start putting the paper to bed. She finally had some time to herself and got the chance to look over her short piece for tomorrow's edition. She even had the chance to reflect how Clark's first day as Editor was going.

Lois sighed. Perry once told her that being an editor was a one-man job. Little did he know about Clark's second job, one that even took precedence over this one. For just one second a thought ran through her head. Was Clark using his other self to escape some of this pressure? Nah, Clark wouldn't do that. He's too much of a boy scout. She scolded herself for even thinking that. She went into Clark's temporary office and shut the door to tune out the newsroom and began reading through her story.

Clark on the other hand had his hands full, even for Superman.

Actually, the problem at the airport looked worse than it was. Lots of smoke and flames, but very few injuries thanks to the quick-thinking crew on board the airliner.

Clark was gone for a couple of hours, and by the time he got back to the Daily Planet, Lois had put the paper to bed and was plotting how to do the same thing to her husband. He kind of crept into his temporary office, wondering if Lois would be put out with him for having been gone so long, but he needn't have worried. She'd been in that editor's chair before herself and knew what he'd been going through.

"You'll do better tomorrow, Clark. The first day is always the hardest."

"I hope so, Lois. I don't think I made a very good editor today."

She stood up and came around the desk to give him a hug. "I remember Perry telling me some of what he'd faced when he was first made editor. He survived, I survived and so will you."

"Thanks, honey. Guess I needed to hear that."

"Any time, partner. How did it go at the airport?"

"Okay. Pretty messy, but no serious injuries. Superman gave an exclusive to Scott."

She grinned at him. "Superman wasn't playing favorites again, was he?"

"Why not? He's a personal friend of the Editor-in-Chief."

Lois gave him a kiss. "Guess that means you'll need to be here when Scott submits his copy. How about if I go home and get dinner started? You shouldn't have to be much longer."

"I hope not. I'm looking forward to spending some quiet time with you."

"They have your phone number," she reminded him.

He groaned a bit, remembering how many times the phone had rung at home while Lois had been Editor.

"Maybe it won't be too bad, Clark. And besides," she added coyly as she made her exit from his office, "who says a night spent alone with me is going to be 'quiet?'"

A week later and just forty-eight hours to Perry scheduled return, Clark finally felt like he was beginning to get a hold of things. Gossip in the newsroom had died down, too. People were generally adjusting to Clark's leadership style. Most of them were actually beginning to appreciate that Clark was one of them. Perry was still an old newshound at heart and his instincts hardly ever failed him, but it had been a while since he had been "out there."

He had also had to let Superman step back and let official channels handle matters more often, something Lois told him he might want to remember even when he was back at his usual job.

He had turned Beverly over to Lois' competent hands. He found that between the two of them, they were able to manage his new position although both were glad to know that it wasn't permanent.

When approached by Stern just the other day if he wouldn't like to take a shot at the next opening for assistant editor, Clark had made his position clear. Being a reporter for the Planet was what he had applied for when he originally came to Metropolis, and he didn't want it any other way.

Tonight it even looked like he was going to make it home in time for dinner… in time to cook dinner, for he didn't like to have Lois designated to do that every night. With the holidays drawing close, things in Metropolis were quieting, too. His main concern now was that he hadn't had time to pick out a Christmas present for Lois.

Clark stretched and got up from his desk, wandering over to the glass door to survey the newsroom abuzz with quiet but effective activity. He had learned to relax and trust the staff more once they were working on their assignments.

He would need an excuse again, not for 'Superman' activities for a change, but for a husbandly one. He felt he could leave the scene for a while and finally do what he had wanted to do all week. He needed to get out of the newsroom unobtrusively for that purpose, however.

He briefly considered faking being needed at an emergency, but quickly dismissed the thought. He didn't want to… couldn't lie to Lois. She read him like a book most of the time. He eventually decided for the truth, or at least something close to it.

He opened the door and sauntered over to her desk. Standing behind her, he gently massaged her shoulders as he bent over her to read her screen. Seeing that she was almost done with her story, he quickly went to plan B.

"Lois, there's that research project that needs to be done for the holiday issue."

"Wasn't Jimmy working on that?"

"Yes, he was. But I need him to take pictures for tomorrow's paper. It'll only be an hour or two."

For a moment, it looked like Lois was about to argue, but she shrugged, then gave him a grin. "All right. Rank has its privileges, doesn't it?"

He pulled himself erect for dramatic effect, but there was a twinkle in his eyes when he replied, "It does."

"I'll be out for just an hour or so," he then added, placing a kiss on her forehead as he bent over her again.

"You are?" she asked. "What are you up to?"

"No say," he answered with a teasing smile. "Rank, you know…"

Lois grabbed Clark by the tie and pulled his face closer to hers. "I don't know about that, farmboy. There are ways of making you talk."

Clark chuckled. "That's true," he whispered. "Kryptonite has nothing on you."

Lois giggled. "All right run along, I'm sure we'll be able to hold down the fort for a little while without you," Lois said as she gave Clark a peck on the cheek and then shooed him away from her desk. She smiled to herself as she watched him make a beeline for a waiting elevator. Just forty-eight more hours and they'd be *free*, she thought happily.

Even though she had to admit that things had gone better than she expected, this business of having Clark as editor was a real pain. She was running out of excuses for him for one thing. She'd even reverted to using the 'cheese-of-the-month-club' excuse. Thank God Ralph had bought that one. And then of course there was Beverly. The fights with her over the menu for the party were becoming her own "Neverending Battle". But most of all she missed having her partner and best friend to work with on her story.

This Intergang story seemed to be going nowhere fast but she knew there was something there. She just couldn't put her finger on it. But she was afraid to tell Clark. Now that he was editor he had a responsibility to the Planet as a whole, not just to her story, and he might feel duty bound to shelve it and reassign her to something else. And rather than cover that particular patch of ground again she figured that silence was the best course of action.

Lois sighed. "Well, in a couple of days everything will be back to normal," she mumbled to herself, "or at least as normal as things ever get for us." And she began her research.

Meanwhile Clark was at Kessel's Jewellery Emporium on Swan Street and was carefully examining the cameo locket he had decided to give Lois for Christmas. As he stood at the counter, he was joined by Inspector Henderson and Captain Maggie Sawyer of the MPD.


Clark looked at Henderson. "Don't worry, Inspector, I plan to pay for the purchase."

Henderson shrugged. "I'd never peg you as the 'smash and grab' type, Kent. Your wife on the other hand.."

Clark laughed. "Is there something I can do for you?" He then noticed Sawyer. "Uh oh. This serious?"

Sawyer leaned on the counter. "Ever heard of the Grinch?"

Clark raised his eyebrows, "Well, yeah, that guy who stole Christmas."

Henderson leaned on the counter as well, making Clark uncomfortably bracketed by the two biggest names in Metropolis law enforcement.

The clerk tapped on the counter glass. "Please, I didn't spend hours polishing to have it smudged."

Henderson, his dry arroyo complexion and glasses making him look somewhat like a withered owl, contemplated the man for a moment. "I became a cop just so I could lean purposefully on counters and eat doughnuts. Don't blow the ambiance."

The clerk clucked his tongue with disgust and decided to wait on a woman at the 'gaudy but impressive' counter.

"So," Clark sighed, noting his purchase was going to wait. "What about the 'Grinch'?"

Sawyer pulled a photo out of a manila envelope. "I believe you and Lane are familiar with this person?"

"Oh, God," Clark whispered. "It's Jerry White."

"Son of Perry and Alice White, height, 5'10, age—"

"I don't need his statistics, Captain. Just *please* tell me he's not in trouble."

"We don't know," Henderson said. "He was released on good behavior, largely due to the good word put in by Superman when he was arrested. Then he disappeared."

Clark narrowed his eyes. "You wouldn't know he'd disappeared if you hadn't been following him."

Henderson and Sawyer exchanged 'busted' glances. "He was consorting with one 'Bill Church, Jr' in prison."

Clark shook his head. "That doesn't mean anything, Captain, you *know* that."

"What I know is that he did get information before from a cellmate who needed some work done on the outside. He has that rep, and believe me, in prison it would be passed along and exploited."

Clark tossed the picture back. "Forget it. Jerry wouldn't betray his father twice."

"Then explain this," Henderson said, producing a security photo. "That's from Nealam's. The poshest store in Metropolis, and that guy robbing the till looks like Jerry White, and the wheel man seen in the blowup works for Intergang."

Clark lowered his glasses subtly and zoomed in on the photo. He saw a gun pointed at Jerry's back. The person holding the gun was hidden behind a counter. "Tell you what, Henderson, blow up this whole section and if it still looks like Jerry, I'll get Superman to help you."

Henderson peered speculatively at Clark for a moment, and then back down at the photograph. "You know something you're not telling me, don't you, Kent? I really hate it when you and Lois do that." He didn't sound as though he hated it, though - he sounded rather pleased, as if he'd gotten what he'd come for.

Clark smiled. "That's possible, Inspector, Lois has been working on an Intergang story angle all week. You scratch our backs, and …" He didn't have to say more.

Henderson and Sawyer left, delighted to have a lead, and Clark motioned to the clerk that he was now ready to complete his transaction. He had Henderson's promise of an exclusive, which would give Lois's story a terrific boost, he was about to get her a present he was certain she would love, and Perry would be back tomorrow. Life was looking really good at the moment.

Lois was on the phone when Clark arrived back at the Daily Planet newsroom. She could tell that he looked quite pleased with himself and wondered what he could have been up to. It had occurred to her that he was slipping away to buy her Christmas present because she'd searched the whole house and hadn't been able to find anything. Now, however, she wasn't so sure. He looked much happier than just the buying of a present would explain.

As soon as she could, she hung up the phone and headed for his office. She had to wait while Clark dealt with two other reporters who had legitimate business with him before she could pump him for information.

He relayed the highlights of his conversation with Henderson and Sawyer and she was as excited about the news as he was. This would mean a great deal to Perry.

"Once they blow up that section of the photo and spot the gun, Jerry will be in the clear. And," Clark added, as he picked up a pad and pencil, "here's a sketch of the other guy in the photo." He finished the drawing at super speed and held it up for her. "Recognize him?"

Lois took the pad. "You bet I do!"

She hurried back to her desk and returned with the folder she'd been keeping with all her Intergang story notes. She rifled through it quickly and then held up a piece of paper triumphantly. "Here he is." The photocopy wasn't a very good one, but it was definitely the same guy. "This guy will make the connection to Intergang so tight, there will be no way they can wriggle out of this one. I'm calling Henderson."

After that, things happened at an incredibly rapid pace. The police cleared Jerry of any possible charges, and the biggest Intergang story of the year was splashed gratifyingly across the Daily Planet's front page and nowhere else. Clark's last day as Chief Editor was a huge success.

The entire staff was still basking in the glow of having scooped every other paper in the city when Perry and Alice stepped off the elevators and into a Christmas party in full swing. By some miracle, Mr. Stern's brilliant idea of having all the paper's advertisers come to the staff party hadn't worked out, so the people who really deserved the party were getting one unencumbered by outsiders.

The staff welcomed their editor back with a warmth and enthusiasm which which touched him more than he could say. But there was more to come. Clark and Lois were filling him in on what had happened while he'd been gone. He'd read copies of the paper while he'd been in San Francisco, of course, but he wanted to know all the behind-the-scenes stuff, and his two top reporters were happy to oblige.

Alice's attention had wandered, and so it was she who first saw her son step off the elevator. "Jerry!" she exclaimed in delight.

That made Perry's head turn and he, too, smiled to see his younger son coming towards them.

Lois and Clark left the Whites alone after hinting to Perry that he had a lot to be proud of in his son, and then wandered over towards the food table. They looked back in time to see Perry giving Jerry a hug.

"That's great to see, isn't it?" Clark said.

"Hmm. Much better than the last time Jerry was here," Lois agreed.

Clark looked around the room as if searching for someone.

"What's the matter?" Lois asked him.

"Actually nothing," he told her contentedly as he turned to select some delicacies from the buffet table.

"No, something is up, I can tell. Give," she commanded.

"Okay. I knew coming into this party that we wouldn't have to put up with the advertisers being here, but I didn't dare hope that we would be spared the sight and sound of Beverly for the entire evening. I'm just feeling grateful, that's all."

"Ahh, well, you can thank me later on, then."

Clark's eyebrows went up several inches. "You?"

"Yep. Me. And … you don't want to know how I did it, either. Trust me."

"My dearest wife, I don't care. She's been a burr under my saddle all week. Now, thanks to you, we'll have a peaceful Christmas party without her, and I … I can have all the mini hot dogs I want without her giving me the evil eye."

Lois giggled. "First things first," she purred as she pulled Clark close and pressed her lips to his for a long, slow, deep kiss.