By Kat Picson (Kat5107@aol.com) and Craig Byrne (CraigByrne@aol.com)
Summary: The son of Bureau 39 agent Jason Trask blames his father's death on Superman. At the same time, Lois and Clark are nominated for the same Kerth Award, which will be awarded on the night of their first anniversary. With surprise appearances by Cat Grant and Oprah Winfrey. (Episode # 2 of The Unaired Fifth Season)
The strange visitor from another planet known as Superman had always served as the "Hero of Metropolis," although at times the things he had done for the world either weren't appreciated, were taken the wrong way, or inadvertently put others in danger.
The first example of this was when Clark Kent and Lois Lane met Jason Trask and Bureau 39, an agency determined to find Superman and keep him and the rest of his species from colonizing Earth. The Bureau soon made a connection between Superman's arrival on Earth and the city of Smallville, Kansas, where Clark was raised. It was at that time that a harmful substance called kryptonite was discovered, rendering Clark powerless. Amid the craziness, Trask learned that Clark Kent, mild-mannered reporter, was also the powerhouse known as Superman. After a scuffle in the water, Trask was about to shoot Clark, who had been left vulnerable by exposure to kryptonite, when Smallville sheriff Rachel Harris, doing the best she knew how, shot Trask before anyone else was put into danger.
This was not the first time Superman's actions were taken the wrong way. There was a time when it was thought that the use of his powers was bringing Metropolis a heatwave; and there was a time when noted billionaire Lex Luthor jumped from a rooftop, and the city of Metropolis condemned Superman for not doing anything to save him. Of course, subliminal messages placed in the Daily Planet by Luthor's ex-wife may have had something to do with it.
Villains came to Metropolis gunning after Superman, but most people saw that as a given — if they had this great protector, it would be obvious that he would also need protecting. The strangest of all these events was when several people claiming to be "New Kryptonians," including the terrorist Lord Nor, took over the town of Smallville for the same reason — Superman. Even the government got involved in this incident and formulated kryptonite gas to "tranquilize" the Kryptonians, because of their fears and Trask's theory that the New Kryptonians really were out to colonize Earth.
Even as recently as several months ago, panic ensued when this "Superman" — revered by people across the globe — was seen in a compromising position with Lois Lane in a tabloid newspaper. This ruckus almost led to a war between two countries. And finally, there was "Fat Head" Mensa, one in a long line of villains who went gunning after Lois Lane and Clark Kent. Superman stopped him, but not after several lives had been put in danger.
Lois and Clark's lives were further complicated the same night that Mensa was returned to jail when a baby was left in their home without a trace of whose child it was. The only clue they had was that the person who had left the child knew that Clark was Superman. They found out the baby was from the future, a full-blooded Kryptonian whose odd genetic makeup stirred controversy in Metropolis 2086 as to who had rights to keep him. Lois and Clark ventured into the future to return the child to his rightful guardian and glimpsed the world where they were regarded as heroes, and where Kryptonians — very likely Lois's and Clark's descendants — kept the world safe from danger. They returned to 1997 with heavy hearts, wondering how they would, if ever, have a child to call their own.
Lois and Clark woke up late the morning after their adventure in the future. Lois kept waking up during the night, thinking she heard a child crying. Clark would comfort her, and they would sleep again, only to have to repeat the process again an hour later.
"Quite an adventure last night, eh?" Jonathan said somberly when he saw Lois and Clark come through the kitchen door as if they were wading through water.
Clark recapped the story to his parents, including everything they had seen in Earth's future. Lois sat down at the table wordlessly, where Martha had prepared a breakfast of muffins and coffee. Lois barely noticed.
"Well, at least you know the child is in good hands," Jonathan said, trying make Lois and Clark feel better.
"I had him in my arms," Lois whispered on the verge of tears and holding out her empty hands. "When I handed him back to his mother, it's like my heart was being ripped out — "
Martha interjected. "Well, Lois, honey, look at us. We thought we couldn't have any, and we were blessed with a miracle. We couldn't have been happier if we had had Clark ourselves."
Lois looked ready to cry, and Clark became dismal. He stood behind Lois, planting his hand firmly on her shoulder to show her he was there.
Martha, feeling the tension, spoke again. "Is something wrong? Did I say something?"
"No Martha, it's just … we had our miracle, and we may not get that chance again," Lois said desperately, leaning against Clark's chest.
"Mom, can Lois and I have a moment alone?" Clark asked. After Jonathan and Martha left the kitchen, Clark reminded Lois, "Remember what H.G. Wells told us, about not giving up. We can't stop trying. You have to keep hope where that part of your heart was ripped out. Hope is something that keeps *us* together."
"You're right," Lois responded after a pause. "Hope carries us through almost anything." She finally smiled.
"Oh my gosh!" cried Martha from the living room.
Lois and Clark ran out to see what she was so shocking.
"Mom, what is it?"
Martha gave the television a glaring eye, and on it Lois and Clark saw the morning news. On the news a very angry young man named Brandon Trask was surrounded by pickets.
"Superman killed my father, and if he stays in Metropolis, he will surely kill many more! He is constantly putting lives at danger! Even as recently as three weeks ago, 'Fat Head' Mensa came to town, and who was he after? Superman, of course! Those aliens, Lex Luthor, the Presses, John Doe — all of them with an agenda against Superman! This so-called 'Superman' brings Metropolis more trouble than he's worth, and I think it's high time we tell him that we humans can fend for ourselves! This planet was a lot better off before *he* came to town!"
Clark picked up the remote and turned off the news program. "Come on, Lois," he said. "We're going to be late for work."
THE UNAIRED FIFTH SEASON Episode #2
"THE TRASK AT HAND"
Written by Kat Picson and Craig Byrne
Lois walked out of the townhouse dejectedly, followed by Clark. He turned to look at her.
"Lois, I hate to see you so down like this," Clark said, squeezing her shoulder.
"I'm sorry, Clark," Lois said. "It's just that when something you want so badly comes into your life, you get it, and then it's yanked away…I don't know what to do to keep my mind off this."
"Well, think about it this way…" Clark quickly searched his brain for something that would cheer her up, and found it. "Funny how time flies when you're having fun," he told her as he opened the passenger car door.
"And that over-used, over-worked clich‚ is in regards to …?" Lois said questioningly as she climbed into the car. She wasn't in the mood for games this morning.
"Our first wedding anniversary," Clark said grandly. "It's next week."
Lois finally smiled at the memory of their wedding. Clark inwardly sighed in relief. Maybe she would stop thinking about the baby for more than two seconds this time. "Like you needed to remind me. I got your present weeks ago."
Clark's eyebrows shot up as he started the Jeep and maneuvered it into the traffic. "Oh, really? Care to give me a hint?"
Lois shook her head. "Do you think it's really easy for me to get a present for the man who can get anything, do anything, go anywhere, is vulnerable to nothing? Uh-uh, big guy. This one's staying a secret until October sixth."
Clark pouted. "I'm not invulnerable to everything. After all, I fell in love with you, didn't I?"
Lois slapped him on the shoulder gently and smiled again. However, as they turned onto Main Street the traffic suddenly got worse. People were everywhere, carrying picket signs, carrying messages with such slogans as "Superman Go Home," "Blue Tights = Big Fights," and "Little Caped Men Go Away!"
"Looks like we won't be having much fun this week," Clark said, sighing. He parked the Jeep as quickly as he could in the Daily Planet garage. "We're going to have to deal with *this.*"
Lois nodded, but she pulled on Clark's arm as he started toward the lobby. "Let's take the freight elevator to the newsroom," she suggested. "I'm sure there are going to be a ton of pickets harassing us, what with our connections to Superman."
Even though it was only seven-thirty in the morning, the city room was already abuzz with activity. Lois and Clark walked to their desks and immediately began their morning ritual of looking through mail and messages when Lois was distracted by Jimmy's voice. She looked up. He was talking on the phone.
"Yeah, sure, Mom … three weeks? Fantastic … no, Mom, not a problem! No, it's not a mess …" Jimmy said, rolling his eyes. "No, I'm not upset, Mom … okay. I'll see you then … bye." Jimmy dropped the phone back in its cradle. "Great," he muttered to himself.
"What's up, Jimmy?" Lois asked.
"My mom's coming to Metropolis in a few weeks," he said, not too enthused.
"Great, we've never met your mother," Clark said, sitting on the edge of Lois's desk.
"You don't want to," Jimmy said. "She's a bit, well — "
Jimmy was interrupted by the power of a gruff Southern voice. "And *how* is the little tyke today?" he asked Lois and Clark conversationally as he came out of his office.
Clark immediately reached for Lois's hand. They exchanged a knowing look. "Fine. His parents have taken him back."
"Oh," Perry said, his face falling. "Well, that's great, I guess … but gather 'round, everyone!" he said in a louder voice. "The Kerth Award nominations were announced late last night, and they were faxed to me early this morning."
Lois turned to Clark. "Let's see if we can make it five." Clark smiled and squeezed her hand.
"I am proud to announce that we have three nominees from the Daily Planet city section," Perry continued. "Which proves that we're hotter than an Elvis album in Graceland. But before we all get cocky, we need to remember that we could do even better than this.
"Our first nominee is Ralph Claremont, for his expose on corruption in the mayor's office." Perry turned to Ralph and said, "Ralph, son, to be honest with you I didn't know you had it in you. Who'da thunk from pillow talk … it just blows my mind." The people in the newsroom applauded. Ralph held up his hand in mock modesty, and a couple of colleagues slapped him on the back, congratulating him.
"Next up we have our previous award winner, Clark Kent, for his article on fruit fly spraying …"
"Fruit flies? Perry, that's not fair!" Lois exclaimed.
"Lois …" Clark began.
"Don't 'Lois' me," she whispered vehemently, ignoring the scattered applause for Clark. "You've written that article six times now! Gee, Ralph gets one, you get one, I hit my head and get amnesia for a month, and I'm thrown *completely* out of the loop …"
"Don't worry, honey," Perry interrupted, "because Lois Lane is our third nominee for her article on Internet relationships. Me, I don't understand those dang-blast-it things, but you know, I guess I'm old fashioned … the only problem is, all three of you are up for the same award. Good luck, and I wish all three of you could win." Perry retreated back to his office amid the applause. Some fellow reporters and staffers approached Lois and Clark and congratulated them.
"This is perfect," Jimmy said excitedly. He had apparently forgotten about his mom's visit for the moment. "I can pick you guys up in my new car! I just got it yesterday."
Clark smiled and said, "Uh, sure Jimmy!" He wasn't sure if that was such a good idea, but he didn't know how to turn him down. Lois was too excited to notice or care. Jimmy jumped up, mumbling something about putting the nominations on the webpage, and Clark turned to see Lois's smiling face.
"Well, you might as well congratulate me now, Kent," Lois said cockily. "Wait, wait, let me jot down some names for my acceptance speech before I forget." She reached for a scratch pad, winking.
"You better watch what you're saying, Lane," Clark said, knocking Lois softly on the chin. "Let me remind you who *wasn't* nominated at *all* the other time."
"I wasn't," Ralph broke in as if he was a part of the conversation all along. He popped a piece of a donut in his mouth. "May the best ma — *person* — win. And if I'm the one, I promise I won't forget to thank you guys, my inspiration," he said as he walked away, a smug look on his face.
"Clark, I'm going to strangle that man!" Lois groaned.
"Now, now Lois, is this the same person who insisted that I partner with Ralph on that story about — you know, I don't even *remember* what it was about — during that time you were editor of the Planet?"
"Well Clark, that's different."
"Because *I* didn't have to deal with him. That was *your* problem."
"Now then, where were we?" Lois looked confused for a moment, then her face became determined again. "Oh yeah … the fruit flies … you know, I don't even remember even seeing any kind of fruit fly spraying here in Metropolis. Yeah, there was the time where that weird pheromone lady wanted to spray her stuff instead of the pesticides, but other than that, where was it? I didn't see it. And here you're nominated for an award. I'm glad I was nominated, but I don't even see how I can be clumped in the same category, and you know what — " Lois babbled before Clark got a strange look on his face and interrupted her.
"Yes, Clark?" she asked. She appeared to be mildly annoyed that Clark would interrupt her tirade.
"I've got to go. This Brandon Trask thing has gotten out of hand downtown near Metropolis Park. I'd better …" Clark did the hand gesture that he would use back in the days when Lois first learned his secret.
"Ah. I see … I, uh, had some work to get done anyway …" Lois responded.
"Really?" Clark looked at her quizzically.
"What's that smirk for?"
"Oh, nothing." Clark said, and flew off.
Clark sneaked off into his Superman costume and approached Metropolis Park where a young man with long brown hair and a goatee, around twenty years of age, stood near the park's wishing well, surrounded by a madhouse of supporters and a few people who had decided to fight. Clark immediately recognized the young man in the middle as Brandon Trask, whom he had seen on the news that morning. Clark landed beside the crowd, urging people to call it off. While entering the fray an older woman spat on him. Clark ignored it. Another person said, "Get 'em, Superman," apparently in support.
"Can I ask someone what's going on here?" Superman said sternly.
Everyone who was fighting stopped in awe. An older man stepped forward. "I can tell you the problem. It's you. Your 'people' killed my family, Superman."
"You heard me. Your 'people'. Those guys who came down from their Imperial Shuttle or whatever the hell it was supposed to be. That one Kryptonian who was wearing that ugly costume. They killed my mom, and my uncle."
Clark remembered the New Kryptonian "invasion" all too well, and the evil tactics used by Lord Nor and his henchmen. Upon further examination Clark recognized the man as Matt Weigert, nephew of Smallville resident Tom Weigert, a friend of the family who had been killed by Lord Nor's men.
Then a young woman stepped up. "Hi. I'm Mayson Drake's sister. Perhaps you've heard of her? I know she dealt with you a few times …"
"But, I — " Clark began.
"But I what?" said Brandon Trask, entering the middle. "You killed my father. You killed their families. You can't deny it, Superman."
"You have no idea. For one thing, your father — "
"I don't want to hear it," Brandon responded. "Say I decided to kill one of these people here and now? How would you like that on your conscience?"
"You don't know what you're saying. I could stop you faster than you could even get a weapon out." Clark, perhaps from his feelings of guilt, began getting cocky.
"Oh, really?" Brandon dared.
Suddenly Clark heard a gunshot not two blocks away. "I'll be right back to deal with you. The authorities may want to do some talking with you, about your assaults on these citizens." Clark flew off.
He arrived in the alleyway where he heard the gunshot only to find nothing but a bullet shell on the ground and no sign of blood. When Clark returned to the scene at Metropolis Park, Brandon Trask was gone, leaving only his supporters and his opponents behind to bicker among themselves. Clark spent the next few hours searching for Brandon, with no luck. In between he seemed to be hindered by the growing amount of anti-Superman unrest. It seemed that more than half of Metropolis didn't seem to want to cooperate, so it took even longer just to get help. Plus, there were anti-Superman pickets every few hours, keeping Superman busy well into the night.
As soon as Lois heard the sonic boom, she ran into Perry's office and closed the door.
Perry looked up from the paperwork he was doing and looked at Lois, unfazed. "Problem, Lois?"
Lois smiled sheepishly. "Uh, no. I, uh … I just wanted to ask you about something."
"Something? No, Lois, you can *not* have another raise. I don't care if you *did* get another nomination." Perry started to go back to his paperwork.
"No, Perry, it's not that. It's just that — "
"Who the Sam Hill is covering that Superman protest? Why aren't you out there?"
"Clark's out there, Chief," Lois said quickly. "Which brings me to my point …"
"What point is that?" Perry asked gruffly.
"Perry, our anniversary is next week," Lois said, slipping into her pathetic puppy-dog mode. "Has he mentioned anything — "
"What makes you think he's going to talk to *me* about what he's getting *you* for your anniversary?"
"Because! You're a man, and don't men talk about these things? I mean, where would he get ideas for what to get me?"
Perry chuckled. "Lois, your husband is an intelligent, resourceful man, and I didn't even have to tell you that. I ask you again, what makes you think he's going to talk to *me* about what he's getting you?"
Lois sneered at Perry without saying a word, turned on her heel and stalked out. Perry chuckled again.
"Jimmyyyyy!" Lois walked determinedly back toward her desk.
"Over here, Lois!" Jimmy was sitting at a computer as usual, typing away.
"Jimmy," Lois said as she approached, "Do you know what next Monday is?"
"Duh, Lois. The Kerth Awards."
"The first Monday in the month of October?" Jimmy guessed weakly.
Lois sighed, exasperated. "It's our first wedding anniversary, Jimmy."
"Oh yeah! Hey, I got your present picked out already. But since you guys have the day off, you'll get it Tuesday."
"Who told you we had the day off? Did Clark tell you what he was getting me for our anniversary?" The words flew out of Lois's mouth as if Jimmy was on trial and Lois was the prosecutor.
"Whoa, relax, Lois," Jimmy said. "The Chief mentioned it at the staff meeting yesterday. Remember?"
"Oh. But did Clark say anything about anything else?"
"Nope," Jimmy said. "Although — "
"Yes?" Lois looked expectant.
"Jimmyyyy!" Perry called out.
Jimmy popped up out of his chair. "Yeah, Chief!"
"Reynolds is covering the Superman protests outside, and he ran out of film, the idiot. Go out there and replace him."
"Will do, Chief!"
Jimmy picked up his camera bag and started walking toward the elevator. Lois followed him.
"Although *what*, Jimmy?" Lois asked.
"Huh? What were we talking about?" Jimmy pushed the down button.
"Oh. Well I was just about to say that I asked C.K. about it, and he wouldn't say anything. I think it's something big." The elevator arrived. "Bye Lois!"
Lois walked back to her desk. She picked up the phone and dialed her house.
"Hello?" Martha Kent answered. "Martha! How's everything at home?"
"Lois! Yes, we're fine. Jonathan and I are going to the airport in about an hour."
"Oh! I wanted to tell you. Clark and I are both nominated for Kerth Awards this year."
"Congratulations, honey! When are the awards?"
"Next Monday, which brings me to the other reason I called. Next Monday is the 6th — "
"Yes, your first anniversary! I wish Jonathan and I could be there, but what with the fall harvest — "
"Has Clark mentioned anything about what he's getting me for our anniversary?" Lois interrupted.
"Well, no, I'm afraid not. I asked him about it, and he said, 'The less you know, the better.'" Martha chuckled. "I think he knew you were going to be asking me."
"Do you think Jonathan knows anything?"
"Oh honey, you know Jonathan. He wouldn't even think to ask. And Clark wouldn't give up that kind of information even when I asked him."
"OK," Lois conceded. She wasn't getting any information from them. She was an investigative journalist. She hung up with Martha quickly and started looking through Clark's desk drawers.
With everything so neatly organized, it didn't take long. Nada. The most unusual things she found in his desk were a couple of charcoal pencils. Yawn, Lois thought. Lois went back to writing a lead for the anti-Superman protests, knowing that it would probably be a long night for the Man in Blue.
At around two a.m., a silhouetted, caped figure slipped into the open bedroom window where Lois Lane lay sleeping. The figure spun quickly and changed into boxer shorts. He climbed into bed softly next to his wife.
"You're back," Lois mumbled, turning over to face him. Her eyes were still closed. "What time is it?"
"Shhh," Clark said as Lois placed her arm around his waist. "It's five after two. Go back to sleep; you have a big day ahead of you."
"What happened out there?" Lois asked.
"Some protesters outside the Daily Planet got out of hand," Clark said, sighing. "Started drinking and partying — don't ask me why. Seems that the police came out to check out what was going on, and a protester threw a sign at an officer. Then all hell broke loose."
"Oh, my God! Is the officer all right?"
"Yes," Clark said. "The picketer was arrested; everything is fine now. For tonight at least. Go back to sleep."
"Hold on … was there any sign of Brandon Trask?"
"None at all. It's almost as if he's hiding from me, waiting to return at just the right moment! There's nothing to do about him right now. Let's get some rest."
"No, wait. I want to give you our anniversary present," Lois said, kissing him softly on the cheek and turning over to her nightstand. She removed a small box from the drawer. "It's officially October sixth now, which means it's our first anniversary. I want to give you my present first — so you can start the day off great."
Clark began to protest. "But I don't even have your present yet — -"
Lois put her finger to Clark's mouth. "It doesn't matter. I want you to have your present now." She handed him the small blue velvet box.
He looked at her curiously but opened the box. Nestled in some velvet was the silver chain that Clark recognized as the same one he wore around his neck when Zara and Ching whisked him away to New Krypton (even though he technically didn't make it that far). Hanging from it was a round, silver locket embossed with the S- shield. "I don't understand," Clark said.
Lois pulled Clark's wedding ring off his finger. She opened the locket and placed the ring inside. It fit perfectly. "When you're Superman, you can't wear your wedding ring. Who knows where you keep your clothes, much less this ring. This way, I'll always be with you. No matter where you are, or what you're wearing."
Clark looked at the locket and then at Lois. He took the ring out and handed it to Lois. She slipped it on his left ring finger. "Happy anniversary, Clark Jerome Kent," she whispered, kissing his hand.
"Happy anniversary, Lois Lane Kent," he whispered back. "I love you."
"And I love you." They shared a sweet, gentle kiss before Lois turned off the lamp. Leaning on Clark's chest, she put her arm around him and closed her eyes.
Lois and Clark started off their first anniversary Lois-and- Clark-style — preparing for the Kerth Awards. Lois went to the dressmaker to have her dress fitted for the final time. Clark bought a new tie and vest for his tuxedo. They had a romantic lunch downtown in a secluded hole-in-the-wall called the TNT Cafe. They took a walk in Centennial Park together, which was the only public place in Metropolis that wasn't crowded with protesters. Not a word was spoken about Kerth Awards, protesters, villains, or the Daily Planet. It was just Lois, Clark, and a beautiful day.
The beautiful day ended as they walked home to begin preparing for the awards at five o'clock. As Lois stood in front of the bathroom mirror curling her hair, Clark was sitting on the bed, lacing his shoes and talking to Sheriff Rachel Harris in Smallville on the speaker phone.
"Yeah, Clark, I heard about Brandon Trask, too," Rachel said. "It's all over the news here, since he mentioned Smallville and how I shot his father."
"Rachel, I need you to write an affidavit stating that Superman was nowhere near the scene when you shot Jason Trask. Brandon is trying to implicate Superman in the death of his father."
"You got it, Clark," Rachel said. "I'll write that up and have a notary public down here as soon as I can. I have the police records, too. Where do you want these things faxed?"
"Great. Send them to the Hall of Justice. Lois and I have some friends over there that we've notified in advance. I'll give you the number … it's 555-0110. Same Metropolis area code. Got that?" Clark finished lacing his shoes and began putting them on.
"Got it, Clark."
"Thanks, Rachel. This will help Superman *and* me a whole lot."
"Anything for an old friend, Clark. And tell Lois and Superman I said hello. And you know, Superman might want to come down here sometime soon … there's been some weird stuff going on near Shuster's field …"
"Got it." Clark then got up and stood next to Lois, who was still in her bathrobe and curling her hair. "Rachel says hi," Clark said as he pulled his tuxedo shirt on and tied the dark purple bow tie that matched Lois' dress. He started to comb his hair.
"Mm-hm," Lois said, twisting the hot roller to her scalp and expertly pinning it down. She grabbed another roller and started again. "Clark, I've been thinking."
"Oh no," Clark said sarcastically.
"I'm serious," Lois said, her tone indeed indicating a serious nature. She picked up a hairbrush. "I'm getting that insecure feeling again," she said, "about kids."
"Honey, are you still upset that we might not be able to have kids?"
"No, it's not that. It's just that I never realized how much responsibility caring for a child was until last week. I mean, it's an enormous amount of stress. I was practically tearing my hair out when I thought he was missing." Lois put down her hairbrush and turned to look at Clark. "It's scary. And I don't think I can handle that kind of responsibility. Besides, with bad guys and protesters and ex-fiancees coming back from the dead chasing after us all the time, I don't know if that's a good environment for a child, especially since it's not just any child; it will be our child, Clark."
"The strange part is," Clark admitted, "I'm not so sure anymore either. Not because I'm afraid our kid will turn out to be like Jaxon Xavier or Brandon Trask, but because I worry about what would happen if something ever happened to one of us, leaving our child with one parent, or even worse, if something happened to both of us? Or if the world ever found out my secret, our child would be hounded and threatened forever."
"I think we should just hold off the kids for now," Lois suggested. "Our lives are way too hectic as it is."
"Of course, we still don't even know that we *can* have kids, even if we wanted to," Clark pointed out. "Dr. Klein said we couldn't, but then again, where else could those half-blooded Kryptonians have come from?"
"Ching and Zara?" Lois guessed. She finished pinning all of her hair into the rollers and began spritzing hairspray over them.
"That is possible, although I doubt after the last time they'd ever relocate to Earth. Anyhow, we'd better get going. Ultimately, I don't worry about how our children will turn out. They'll have the best mom in the galaxy."
"Flatterer," Lois grinned before kissing Clark on the cheek. "Just remember … whatever happens, you'd better promise not to gloat if you win the award!"
"Only if you promise *you* won't gloat either, Lois," Clark bargained.
"I'll work on it." Lois grabbed the dress from its hanger on the wall and disappeared into the bedroom to change before Clark could say another word.
"Well, it's only fair. You won the last time!" Lois giggled.
"Lois …" Clark started to say again, but he was interrupted by the sight of Lois's back in the doorway.
"Can you zip me up?" she asked, turning her face so he could see her profile. She was trying to distract him, and both of them knew it.
It was working. Clark took a deep breath as he delicately pushed the zipper up the dress. He kissed her shoulder and whispered, "No gloating allowed. Now let's get going."
Clark and Lois walked down the stairs when they heard the sound of a horn. "The others are here," Clark said after giving it a look with his X-ray vision.
Outside they found Perry and Jimmy waiting in Jimmy's "new" car — - a beat-up 1969 Dodge Charger that they would probably see in old "Smokey and the Bandit" reruns before they'd find around Metropolis. Lois and Clark climbed into the crowded car when Jimmy asked no one in particular, "She's beautiful, ain't she?"
"Yeah, Jimmy … sure," Lois assured him. "Thanks for the ride. So, let's get to the Kerths already so I can — one of us can win an award! So, Chief, did you hear yet who's presenting my — our award?"
"Yeah. Oprah Winfrey and Willard Scott," Perry said. "They've managed to bring in the big guns this year."
"Really? Not too bad!" Clark said, whistling.
"Oprah Winfrey's great, but she has some kind of a weird memory," Lois remarked. "She always says to me, 'I liked you better as a redhead.' I was *never* a redhead!"
The rest of her companions shrugged, and they were on their way to the Kerth Awards.
They all entered the Metropolis Opera Theater House together. It was quite an event, with the papparazzi outside and every important journalist in the country inside. Lois and Clark stood in the lobby, looking through a list of the nominees that was printed inside the program given out at the door.
"You know, all these TV journalists up for awards, not one of them is from ABC …" Lois remarked, scanning the list quickly.
"Oh, really? Doesn't surprise me … of course, I quit watching that station once they canceled my favorite show," Clark reminded her.
"Well, Clark, you do have to admit that even *you* didn't know when that show was going to be on or not around the end," Lois told him.
"Yeah, well, you've got a point there. But it's still surprising, that *none* of their newscasters got nods …"
Lois paused to squint as a flashbulb went off in her face. "We'd better go in …"
Suddenly Clark felt a tap on his back. "Who's the new tight end?" a sultry voice whispered in his ear. Clark turned around to see who was speaking to him. The line seemed very familiar but he couldn't quite remember why. The look on Lois's face should have been an indicator of who it may have been.
"Cat!" Clark turned around to give Cat a hug, while Lois crossed her arms and watched, amused.
"Nice to see you again." Cat tried to keep Clark in her embrace, but he broke away quickly. Cat Grant had been the gossip reporter at the Daily Planet for three years until about a year after Clark's arrival. Cat left abruptly right before Lois's almost-wedding to Lex Luthor, and was never seen or heard from again.
"What are you doing here?"
"Admiring the scenery," Cat told him, wrapping her arms around him. "So, Clark … babe … how about the two of us hook up, catch up on old times, after the awards?"
"Ahem." Lois coughed to get their attention.
"Oh, great," Cat groaned. "Lois! You look *different*. What did you do to your hair?"
"My *look* isn't the only thing that's different. But as you can see, I cut it."
"Oh. So, Lois, still buried in newspapers? I hear your boyfriend Superman hasn't been too popular around here lately …"
Lois became a little annoyed by Cat's comment. "Well, I've been too busy for Superman lately." Lois looked wary for a second, then her face took on a knowing grin. "Wait a second … you don't know, do you?" Lois's smile grew bigger and bigger.
"Know what?" Cat said, confused.
"This is good," Lois began, almost getting a case of deja vu. "*Too* good!"
"You mean, you honestly, *really* don't know?" Clark asked, astounded. Their marriage was splashed across the cover of every tabloid and newspaper society page. How could she *not* have heard about it?
"No, I don't. I've been in Bali with my now-*ex*-husband Chuck. What? Tell me!"
Perry and Jimmy approached, and Perry interrupted. "What Lois is trying to tell you here, is, she and Clark, uhh …"
"Are married." Lois finished smugly.
"No!" Cat began, with her mouth dropped. "I guess being on that island with Chuck, I kind of lost touch … wow … whod've thought … Lois Lane … wow. So, Perry, has anyone filled my old job?"
"Actually, Cat, yes. We had someone for awhile, but he quit, and Karen Ramsey was hired just two weeks ago. But I'm sure we can find a place — " Perry began.
"Actually, Chief … I was just wondering. It's interesting to see the three of you, but I have one question for you, though — where's Jimmy?"
Perry looked to his side where Jimmy was standing, to find nothing. He then saw Jimmy over by the door flirting with a young female usher. "Jimmy! Get over here! Someone wants to see ya."
"Just a second, Chief!" Jimmy responded. "Here. Here's my card. Give me a call sometime." Jimmy handed the girl his business card, who pocketed it and smiled coyly.
Jimmy approached Perry, Clark, Lois, and Cat — and noticed the extreme amount of cleavage in Cat's gown. "Wow."
"Wake up, Jimmy!" Perry told him.
"Wait a second — *that's* Jimmy?" Cat asked. "I *have* been out of town for a while!"
"We'd better get to our seats," Lois told Cat. "See you after the awards?"
"Ms. Lane, Mr. Kent?" one of the stagehands said. "Places in the wings, please. Your award is up next. Good luck."
Lois impatiently fussed with her hair and smoothed imaginary wrinkles in her dress as the Master of Ceremonies announced the presenters for Best Feature Article in a Daily National Newspaper. She looked at Clark and grasped his hand.
"This is it," she said. She nervously tugged at his bow tie with her free hand.
He squeezed her hand back firmly. "May the best WOMAN win," he said.
She smiled. "Or best superman," she whispered back with a smile.
"The nominees for the Best Feature Article in a Daily Newspaper are," Oprah Winfrey began, reading from the cue card in front of her.
"Ralph Claremont, Daily Planet, Metropolis," Willard Scott broke in smoothly. "Subject: Corruption in the mayoral office." Light applause was scattered among the audience. Lois and Clark saw Ralph sitting with an elderly woman, probably his mother.
"Clark Kent, Daily Planet, Metropolis," Oprah said. "Subject: Fruit fly spraying."
Lois rolled her eyes at Clark when more applause was heard, but then she smiled.
"Lois Lane, Daily Planet, Metropolis," Willard said. "Subject: Internet relationships."
Applause again, and Lois started to fidget. Clark squeezed her hand.
"Meredith Carson, Chicago Sun-Times, Chicago," said Oprah. "Subject: Hostage crisis in the Sun-Times building."
Willard Scott handed the ivory envelope to Oprah, who ripped the royal blue seal.
Clark looked at Lois, but she seemed distracted. She was looking at a man backstage; he was dressed in a tuxedo, and he looked familiar. He wore a red bow tie and was staring at Lois and Clark in return.
"Clark …" she started to say, thinking hard. Where had she seen that man before?
"And the winner is … Lois Lane, Daily Planet, Metropolis!" Oprah Winfrey said grandly, looking at Lois.
Lois immediately forgot the man with the red bow tie. She looked up and saw Oprah and Willard looking at her expectantly. Clark kissed her on the cheek and whispered a quick congratulations. Lois immediately started walking onto the stage.
Oprah hugged her, and Willard handed her the crystal statue and kissed her cheek. Lois was grinning ear to ear. "Well," she said. "This was so unexpected! I'd like to thank Perry White, my editor and mentor; Jimmy Olsen for his computer knowledge and excellent photography; Jennifer and Carrie at the copy desk; the Kerth Association for recognizing my work; my parents, Sam and Ellen Lane, as well as my in-laws Jonathan and Martha Kent; my sister Lucy; the folks I talked to online and in person to get information for the story; and last but not least, my husband and partner, Clark Kent, for his patience, understanding, and support." Lois looked offstage at Clark, who was grinning from ear to ear. "Happy anniversary, Clark." She turned back to the audience and smiled graciously. "Thank you all again."
The audience applauded as Willard and Oprah followed Lois offstage. As they were halfway across the stage, Clark's superhearing picked up a gloating voice — "I WON I WON I WON!" — and saw Lois's face, mischievous and playful. She winked at him.
"Miss Lane?" the same stagehand approached Lois. "You have to present the next award, so I'll take the statue while you go on stage."
Lois looked uncertain. "Uh …" She held onto the statue tightly with both hands.
"Lois, we're on next," Clark said. "He won't do anything to your statue. Besides, they have to etch your name on it. They'll give it to you before we go home."
Lois reluctantly let the young man take her statue as the emcee announced them.
"They've been partners for over four years at the Daily Planet, and a year ago they decided they'd be partners for life," the emcee told the audience. "These two have broken such stories as the return of Lex Luthor, the jailing of the Prankster, the Metropolis-gate scandal, and of course, almost every Superman story in Metropolis. The 'hottest team in town' has amassed five Kerth Awards combined, and one of them has just won an award tonight. Please welcome Daily Planet investigative journalists Lois Lane and Clark Kent!"
The band took their cue and started playing music as Lois and Clark nervously walked across the stage to the fancy lectern. As the music faded out, Clark turned toward the wings; his superhearing had picked up a noise. With his normal vision he couldn't see what was over there too well, so he peered over the top of his glasses and used his super-vision. "Oh, no — " Clark thought to himself. It appeared that he didn't have to find Brandon Trask; Brandon came to him. And, since there was an audience of four thousand, not to mention those watching on TV, he couldn't do anything "super" fast.
Suddenly Clark was broken from his trance. "Clark, wake up! It's our time to speak!" Lois said as she nudged him and the spotlight on them got brighter.
She began. "Journalism exists in several different formats, from the early days of the newspaper …"
"… To the modern technology of TV." Clark continued. "Tonight, we honor several people who enter our houses every night with the latest in television news. And the nominees for Most Outstanding Anchor are …"
"Mary Richards, WJM, Minneapolis …"
"Tom Brokaw, NBC News …"
"Brian Williams, MSNBC …"
"..and Dan Rather, CBS News. And the win — " Clark began as he ripped the envelope open, but he was interrupted.
"The winner is you, Clark Kent!" The man with the red bow tie that Lois and Clark had seen earlier showed himself to the public. It was Brandon Trask, and he was surrounded by almost twenty of his supporters holding weapons. At that moment, twenty or thirty more bulletproof-vested and armed men and women marched down the two side aisles to take their places, watching the audience's every move.
Brandon approached the microphone. "Hello, hello. Come on people, cheer up! This is going to be as much fun as ABC's new fall lineup! All kidding aside, I DO have an agenda here." He looked over to his right where he saw Opera Theater House security approaching. "Don't even think about it. I've got a bullet-proof vest on, and if any of you really feel the need to 'take care' of me, I've got my friends here who would be more than happy to make Swiss cheese out of you. You see, there is a mini-bomb underneath each and every one of those chairs you prestigious journalists are sitting on. Go ahead, look. I want you to know I'm *not* kidding around. And now that I have your attention …" Brandon paused and looked around wickedly. His eyes settled on Lois and Clark. Clark put his arm around Lois protectively. "I know Lane and Kent here have a close relationship with 'Superman'. So, I hope he's watching out there in TV Land, so he can fly on in here and save the day."
"What would you gain by that?" Lois asked. "He'll mop up the floor with you!"
"Not when I have this." Brandon pulled a small jewelry box out of his pocket and opened it to expose a small chunk of Kryptonite. Clark began to feel the effects but did his best not to let it show. Lois' eyes widened, and she put her arm around Clark's waist to support him, trying to keep the same expression. Brandon put the Kryptonite back in his pocket.
"Does everyone have some of that?" Lois whispered to Clark.
"I figure Superman will come in here, so I can weaken and dispose of him … kind of like what he did to my dad. And then there won't be any more killing, and I'll be on my way. I'm just doing it for the good of all these people."
The audience looked, shocked. "Don't think of fleeing," Brandon told them. "I won't hurt you, but I had to make sure no one would come in with tear gas or anything like that. Superman will find his way in. Unless he's afraid to sacrifice himself."
Lois looked out to the wings where Cat, of all people, was signaling to her.
"What?" Lois mouthed. She looked at Brandon who was too busy taunting the audience to notice. It became obvious that Cat's lips read "bathroom." The woman disappeared behind a curtain.
Lois looked at Clark, who had seen Cat as well. Clark nodded to her. He stood up on his own. He was fine as long as that green rock stayed in the lead-lined box.
"Mr. Trask?" Lois asked. She tried to look as innocent and helpless as possible. Obviously, this moron didn't know not to mess with Lane and Kent. He probably didn't even know what kind of woman Lois Lane was, because if he had done his homework and found out about all her previous antics, he would have had Lois handcuffed by now.
"What!" Brandon said, turning around. He had been speaking to the audience. "Miss Lane! Can't you see I'm in the middle of a hostage situation here?"
"I really need to use the bathroom," Lois whispered, as weakly as she could. "Please? I've been nervous all day."
"Oh, for heaven's sake!" Brandon signaled one of his men to come forward. "Take this woman to the nearest restroom and keep an eye on her."
"Yes, sir." The man grabbed Lois roughly by the arm and led her to the restroom labeled with the stick figure wearing a dress. "Uh, I'll wait out here," he said nervously. "If you're not out in ten minutes, I'm coming in to get you, and you'll be sorry."
Lois nodded with a fake expression of fear on her face. She entered the restroom quickly and closed the door behind her. The place was empty. She looked under all the bathroom doors, and in the last stall she saw a pair of red stiletto heels. "Come on out!" Lois said impatiently, looking nervously at the door.
Cat opened the stall door. "He didn't even come in here and check? What an idiot!"
"Looks like Trask didn't hire the best people to do his dirty work for him," Lois commented. "What are you doing here anyway?"
"We have to do something," Cat said, turning around into the stall to pick up a large garbage bag. "Who knows if Superman will show up, or if he can do anything at all." She opened the bag to reveal show costumes. "I found this stuff in a dressing room. Put them on."
Lois looked at them in disgust. "No way!"
"Lois, we have to go back out there as different people," Cat said. "I say, we go out there in disguise and distract Trask so Clark can escape and contact Superman. He *can* still contact Superman, right?"
Lois looked at Cat carefully. Did she know? "What?" Lois asked.
"Jason Trask found out that Clark could contact Superman during those lie detector tests," Cat said. She shrugged. "So I listened in, big deal. That's my job."
"Oh," Lois said. "Well, yeah, he still can."
Cat thrust a yellow bundle into Lois's hands. "Put it on!"
Lois unfolded the bundle to reveal feathers … "Double no way!" Lois said, trying to hand the costume back.
"So picky," Cat grumbled. Cat stuffed the yellow costume back in the bag. "Just find something in this bag and put it on, okay?"
The two women each pulled something out of the bag and entered stalls next to each other. They closed the doors and began changing. "Two hundred eighty dollars for a dress and it's going to get thrown on the floor at the Opera Theater House," Lois complained as her beautiful purple gown fell to the floor. "That doesn't even include the alterations, the extra beads, and the time I spent standing on a stool while they poked me with those stupid pins — "
"Face it, Lois," Cat said. "Sometimes you're going to have to get down and dirty."
Cat's stall door swung open, and then Lois's. They stepped out to look at each other. Cat was wearing a tight black miniskirt and a leopard-print bra top. She kept her red stiletto heels, and she had taken her long, auburn hair out of the upsweep so it was like a lion's mane around her face.
Lois was wearing a red leather tank dress that was cut very low on top and very high on the bottom. A long, blonde wig completed the disguise. Lois nervously yanked at her skirt. She eyed a window behind Cat.
"What's with the wig, Lois?" Cat said. "No one's going to be looking at your hair." Cat snickered as she was about to make another comment, but she was intrigued by Lois's interest in the window.
"Trask has already seen me, up close," Lois explained as she walked to the window and opened it. "Besides, I have a reputation to protect. Unlike *some* people." Looking out, she could see it was about a story and a half down, at least fifteen to twenty feet. There were bushes down below.
"What are you doing?"
Lois picked up her dress and threw it out the window. She took the bag of extra costumes and threw it out the window as well. She then opened the window as wide as she could. "If that guy from outside asks us, we tell him Lois Lane was at the window smoking a cigarette when we left," Lois whispered quickly, glancing at her watch. "That way maybe he'll think I escaped out the window."
"Good idea," Cat said. She looked in the mirror and smacked her lips together. "Showtime!"
They walked out of the restroom.
"Hey, what's that lady in the purple dress doin' in there?" Lois's restroom guard asked Cat.
"She was smoking a cigarette," Cat said in her most sultry voice. She stopped to talk to the man, but Lois yanked her away.
"Come *on!*" Lois prodded. They got to the wings, where they watched what was happening onstage. Armed men had guns pointed at Clark and some stagehands who were lined up onstage. The people in the audience were murmuring nervously. Trask was nowhere to be seen.
"Where is he?" Cat said, looking around.
Lois looked over at Clark, who at first looked at her with disbelief, then realized the plan. Just then Trask came out from behind the curtain, holding what looked like a remote control in his hand. Lois had seen too many of those in her lifetime not to know what it was: the control for the bombs. "How are we going to get out of this?" Lois asked, mostly to herself.
Before she could say another word, two armed men approached them. "What are you two doing back here?" one of them asked sternly and grabbing Cat by the arm.
"We're with him," Cat cooed, gesturing toward Trask.
"I've never seen you before," said the other one. "He didn't say anything about a couple of chicks coming back here."
"Shows how much you know," Lois said, just as sexily. "He invited us to the party."
The two men looked at Cat, then at Lois. The first one grabbed Cat by the arm. "Come on," he said. "You're coming with me. Mark, you watch the blonde."
"OK, Willie," Mark said. He put his hand on Lois's shoulder. She tried to yank away, but he kept a firm grip. "Relax, baby. I just wanna make sure you're not pulling one over my eyes."
Cat, meanwhile, was thrust into Brandon's view. "This here lady says she's with you, boss," Willie said.
"Get this woman out of my face," Brandon said with a wave of his hand. "I didn't bring any women."
"Brandon, honey, what are you talking about?" Cat pouted. As Lois watched, she had to admit if there was anything Cat Grant was good at, it was manipulating men.
Cat grabbed Brandon's lapels and pulled him closer to her. "I thought we meant something to each other, sweetiekins!" She put her arms around his waist, sneaking into his pocket and pulling the small ring box out. She threw the box underhandedly behind her, and Lois caught it. She looked at the man holding her, who wasn't paying attention. She breathed a sigh of relief. She kept her hand wrapped tightly around the box. Brandon was too busy making sure he didn't drop the remote control to notice.
Brandon pulled Cat's hands off himself. "Keep your paws off me, woman," he said. "Lock her up somewhere," he told Willie.
"There's another one, boss," Willie said, pointing to Lois. "Mark is holding her."
"Lock 'em both away," Brandon said impatiently. "Can't you see I'm busy?"
Mark and Willie took Lois and Cat into a dressing room and locked it from the outside, when the man who had been guarding Lois burst onto the stage.
"Lois Lane escaped out the window!"
Trask looked up, and when he turned around, Clark had disappeared. He went to other side of the wings, and a sonic boom was heard. A whirlwind seemed to go across the stage and the next thing everyone knew, the guns of Trask's henchmen were all piled up in a corner and the henchmen were all tied up. "Ah," Brandon said with a smile. "The boy in blue is here. Welcome, Superman."
"Put the remote control down," Superman warned. The audience gasped as Superman floated down to face Trask on the stage.
"First things first, Supes. You come closer, sacrifice yourself. *Then* I'll put this down. You don't keep your part of the deal, then boom. Say good night to Dan Rather, no more Matt and Katie in the morning. Like those William Raspberry editorials? Won't be seeing much more of those… what a shame," Brandon threatened.
Superman came nearer, following Brandon's orders. Strangely he didn't seem to suffer from being near the Kryptonite. Brandon started to get a nervous look on his face. He felt his pockets. The box was gone. He felt his mouth and throat start to get dry.
He decided to give it all up. He was going to let the building blow. Sure, he would die, but Superman would be blamed for it. As his finger approached the "arm" button to detonate the bombs under everyone's seats, Trask heard a quick "whoosh"ing sound. The next thing he knew Brandon's hands were empty. "Wha — How — ?" Brandon looked up near the rafters, and there was Superman with his remote control. Superman then unlocked the dressing room door to let Lois and Cat out, and flew over to Brandon and handcuffed him.
Brandon already began making excuses for himself. "One of them was some blonde woman, acting kinda stupid and she had really big …" Brandon said, before looking at a somewhat angry and now wig- free Lois. "… eyes! She set me up!"
"Keep telling yourself that, and you might soon believe it," Superman told him. "By the way, you may be interested in hearing that Sheriff Harris in Smallville has faxed in a report that I was not even near Smallville at the time of your father's death. Now, come with me …" Superman let the authorities handle Brandon from there, and flew off. Clark made an appearance seconds later.
"Where were you — ?" Cat inquired.
"I .. ahh …" Clark looked at Lois for help.
"Couldn't handle the pressure," Lois broke in. "You know Clark, always running off in a sign of danger. Poor guy," Lois finished.
"Oh. Yeah," Cat said.
Several hours passed. The folks who had doubts of Superman's worthiness soon forgot those doubts after Superman saved so many people at the Kerths.
Meanwhile, at their brownstone, Clark waited for Lois in bed. The great thing about superpowers was that he could get ready for bed in less than two minutes.
"I put the Kryptonite in the secret compartment downstairs," Lois called from the bathroom. "I don't want anyone knowing where that chunk of evil is. If I take it to S.T.A.R. Labs, there's a chance of it getting stolen."
"As usual, your logic astounds me," Clark said playfully as he fluffed her pillow.
Lois came out of the bathroom, fresh-faced from having just removed her makeup. She was wearing a cream-colored silk robe, and Clark thought she looked heavenly. "You look like an angel," he said, sitting up straighter.
"Well, I sure didn't look like one earlier," Lois commented.
Clark glanced at Lois' radio alarm. "It's only 11:39. We still have twenty more minutes left of our anniversary."
"Yeah, and you still didn't give me a present yet," Lois said.
Clark grinned. "I'd have guessed that you would have figured it out when you looked through my desk drawer the other day."
Lois raised her eyebrows and put her hands on her hips. "Hey! How did you know?"
"My charcoal pencils," Clark said. "They were in my top desk drawer, but when I came back they were on top of my desk. But I left them there deliberately to tip you off."
"I don't understand …" Lois sat down on the bed next to Clark.
"Lois. You're an award-winning investigative journalist, and you didn't figure it out?"
Clark reached under the bed to pull out what looked like a big picture frame wrapped in brown paper.
"You drew me something?" Lois said, astonished.
Clark shrugged. "Someone told me that the traditional first anniversary present should be paper."
Lois anxiously ripped the paper to reveal a beautiful charcoal drawing framed in a simple ebony wood. It was Lois in profile, wind blowing through her hair, bare-shouldered. "Clark," she gasped. "It's beautiful."
"It took me about four or five drafts to get it this good," Clark said. He reached up to stroke Lois' cheek. "But nothing is as good as the real thing."
"Oh, Clark," Lois said, tears forming in her dark brown eyes. "I don't think I could have asked for a better present."
"I tried to think of the most beautiful thing in the world to give you," Clark said, reaching out to stroke Lois' cheek. He wiped away a tear. "But I realized *you* were the most beautiful thing in the world, Lois. I only tried to do justice to that."
"Clark," Lois said, kissing him passionately. She carefully laid the portrait on the chair next to their bed. Clark watched her with love in his eyes.
Removing her robe, she laid it carefully on the chair. Underneath she was wearing a beautiful white negligee. "Now, Clark Kent," she whispered, climbing into bed with him. "I have one last present to give you." She smiled wickedly, and Clark's eyebrows shot up.
"Really? What's that?"
Lois turned the light out wordlessly. A deep-throated chuckle escaped from Clark. "Oh," he said.