By Rachel T <rae@usXchange.net>
Submitted January 1999
Summary: The player: Lana Lang. The battlefield: Metropolis, New Troy. The prize: Clark Kent. The competition: Lois Lane, his fiance. The rules: None.
Comments: I am from the new generation of L&C fans as I discovered the show on syndication. I fell in love with it, but only recently learned about the world of fanfic. This is my first fanfic ever so please forgive my errors.
I'm assuming the premise that Lana somehow either does not know that Clark is Superman or that she simply doesn't care. This is after the engagement, but before the wedding. You pick the time.
The song is Your Love Amazes Me by Amanda Hunt and Chuck Jones. Sung by John Berry and Michael English.
Feedback is welcome, both good and bad. Frankly, I have no idea if people even read these anymore.
This story is dedicated to Shawn V., without whom I would never have been able to write it. Thanks for answering all my questions. I haven't known you for very long, but I consider you my friend. May you find HIM someday. <g>
Thanks to my editor, Lynda, for all the work. Any mistakes are my fault not hers. <g> The title is from the song by Tori Amos, if you want to see why I used it, look it up.
Opening Scene: Daily Planet
Clark was thoroughly engrossed in his computer screen when Perry stepped up behind him and slapped him on the back. He looked up, startled.
"Chief! Uh, hello."
"Clark, where's that partner of yours? I have news and I want to tell everyone at once." Perry said in his gruff voice.
"I hope you're going to tell us that Mr. Stern decided to give us a raise." Lois had entered the room. She walked up behind Clark and put her arms around his neck. He looked up, and she kissed him on the lips.
"Good morning, Lois," Clark said.
"Hi."She lifted her head."Oh, Perry, before I forget, Marcia in copy said that they have a problem. Something about printer ink and not enough." Lois shrugged her shoulders.
Perry threw his hands up in frustration and started stomping toward his office, yelling over his shoulder, "You guys don't disappear y'hear? I need to talk to you."
"Sure, chief," they chorused.
Lois settled herself on Clark's desk. "Slow news day today. So what are you up to?" she asked him.
"I'm dealing with my mail."
"You know," she said, looking at him questioningly, "I've often wondered if Superman got mail."
"Mail, yes, but I'm the only one who deals with cyberspace. Where would he keep a computer?"
"Good point," she acknowledged. "Besides, I happen to know that there are much better ways for him to spend his time." With that, she bent over to kiss him. However, just before their lips actually touched…
"CK, Lois, congratulations!" Jimmy was grinning from ear to ear. Lois and Clark sighed and pulled apart.
Lois asked the inevitable. "Whatever are you talking about?"
"Oh, you mean you don't know?" he was flabbergasted.
"Know what?" Lois said impatiently.
"You remember when 60 minutes did the story on you two and your work?"
"Yes, I didn't like the idea much, but what about it?"
"Well, you know those polls that people take about which program is watched in its timeslot, etc? Your segment won its time slot and the viewer total for the month."
"Ha!" Lois said triumphantly. "I always knew that people appreciated real news."
"Actually, honey," Clark said laughing, "They probably picked us because of all the recent hype."
"You know he's probably right, Lois." Jimmy agreed. "I mean what with all the society articles about your engagement." At Lois' glare he quickly retreated, saying, "But, I've been known to be wrong. Clark, she doesn't look very happy."
"I'd have to say that I agree, Jimmy. When she gets that look you better escape while you can. At least you can escape," Clark said as he made a face.
"I saw that," Lois accused.
"Good luck, Clark. There are moments when I envy you your luck, but right now is not one of them." The last was more yelled than said as Jimmy was almost at the elevator in his efforts to escape Lois' wrathful gaze.
Lois' wrath turned on Clark as soon as Jimmy left and she said sternly, "Conference room. Now."
Clark went, laughing.
As soon as the door clicked behind them she turned on him. He began to back away from her as she demanded, "What do you mean? While you can escape? You better apologize for that remark." She was backing him into a corner. He would've been concerned, but he could see the laughing sparkle in her eye.
"Hey, if you can scare a big guy like me, then you can scare just about anyone," Clark said as she neatly pinned him against the back wall.
"But you're invulnerable," she stated as she slipped her arms under his suitcoat and around his back.
"You know perfectly well that Kryptonite isn't the only thing that's dangerous for me…Lois!" Her hands had moved a little lower.
"What?" she gave him her wide eyed innocent look, which didn't fool him for a second.
"We're at the office, and we're supposed to be working," he said. "You know I can't think straight when you start with me."
Lois giggled. "I think you're so cute when you look like a trapped animal. I love you farmboy." She reached one arm up and brought his head down and laid her lips against his.
"I love you too," Clark whispered against her lips. As he started to close his mouth he felt Lois' tongue darting inside his mouth, forcing it to remain open. Clark gave up and leaned against the wall, relishing the feel of the woman he loved being in his arms.
After a few seconds, however, his superhearing detected Perry's voice.
"Jimmy, where are Lois and Clark now?" Clark heard him bellow.
"Uh, chief, well," he heard Jimmy begin. Jimmy must've gotten a stern look, however, because Clark heard him say, "Conference room, making ou..er..talking."
"Lois," Clark said, withdrawing.
"What?" she pouted.
"Chief at 12 o'clock."
"Oh." She looked disappointed, but whispered in his ear, "You can't get away that easily. We're going to finish this conversation later, and you are going to apologize for the smart remark you made earlier."
"Well, you're going to have to force that out of me which I have no doubt you're quite capable of doing," he said, smiling. He quickly kissed her again before smoothing himself out. She did the same as Perry walked into the room. "What are you two up to now? Reporter isn't just a title you know."
"We were talking about our story, Perry," Lois lied glibly.
He didn't look too convinced, but decided to let them get away with the lie as he had bigger fish to fry.
"I need to talk to you about Mr. Stern," he said.
"Mr. Stern? The owner of the Daily Planet?"
"Yes, Lois, that Mr. Stern. Anyway, he's turning 60 in a week so his wife is going to have a surprise birthday party for him."
"That's nice," Lois said.
Perry glared at her. "Don't interrupt."
"Sorry," she said, looking completely unapologetic.
"As I was saying, there is going to be a surprise party and she's inviting people from all of the franchises that he owns. Therefore you are invited. Seems he has a certain regard for you two."
Lois made a face. "Wish that regard extended to our paychecks."
Clark had remained silent throughout the entire exchange, but decided to speak up. "When exactly is this thing?"
Perry replied, "In two days."
"Two days?" Lois was astounded.
"She's been thinking about it for awhile, but what with Mr. Stern's crazy schedule and all she wasn't sure when she could pull it off until yesterday. Hence the short notice. She also wanted me to tell you that this is top secret. Don't tell anyone," Perry said.
"We're reporters. We understand what top secret means." Lois was offended.
"Hey, don't get mad at me, Lois. She's the boss' wife. It's her prerogative. Now, no more chit chat. We have a paper to print."
With that he left the room and started yelling out orders to spur on his newsroom staff.
"Two days, Clark?" Lois still wasn't comprehending.
Clark just laughed. "It's not a big thing, honey. And remember, she did tell Perry that Mr. Stern had a regard for us."
"That's true," she said as her face lit up. "Hey, maybe we'll get that raise after all."
She walked out of the room and headed back to her desk. Clark smiled and shook his head. His Lois was as tenacious as a bulldog, but he knew how to sidetrack her on occasion.
Next Day: Clark's apartment
Clark was just spinning himself back into his "normal" clothes after an emergency had demanded Superman when the phone rang.
"Hello," he said as he held it to his ear.
"Good morning, sweetheart." It was Lois. "Been out already?"
"How did you know?" Clark asked as he floated over to his couch. Today was their day to come in later so he still had a little time before he had to head off to the Planet.
"Reasonable guess," she replied.
"So, what's up?" Clark asked.
"Well, I haven't seen much of you lately outside of work and I was wondering if you might want to do lunch today."
"Love to." Clark started to say something else, but he was interrupted by a knocking on the door. "Uh, Lois. I have somebody at my door. Gotta go. See you soon." With that he hung up.
He bounced up his stairs to the door. As he pulled it open he was enveloped by two arms. It took him a second, but he recognized the unmistakable scent of ' ici'.
"Lana?" he stepped back and saw that it was indeed Lana Lang.
"Hi, Clark," Lana said breathlessly.
"Hi. Come in," said Clark with a smile. "What are you doing here?"
"Came to see you, of course," Lana said brightly. "Actually, it was that and another thing too. But, I'll tell you about that in a minute. I want to see your place." Lana grabbed his arm and dragged him down the stairs as she started investigating the apartment.
As his "place" wasn't very large it didn't take very long to make the tour. After her investigation she flopped down on the couch and pulled him down beside her.
"Well, I'm impressed," she said.
"You mean, you expected to see me in a stark bachelor pad with only a cot and a naked lightbulb," Clark stated mildly.
"You know me too well," she said, giggling. "Actually, I figured that you'd do all right because you always were quite handy at domestic stuff." She sat up and grabbed his hands. "Well, here's the reason that I'm here. I have a huge problem and I need your help. I've wanted to see you and all, but this was the first time I could get here. It's actually a dual deal because I'm going to get together with my parents. They want to see you too so we figured we'd meet in Metropolis with Mr. Stern's party and all."
Clark put up a hand to stem the flow. "Wait a minute. You're doing something with Mr. Stern?"
"Yeah, didn't you know that he and Daddy are childhood friends?"
"Well, they are, and his wife invited Daddy and the rest of us to come to the party for his birthday. When I mentioned that I knew you she told me that you were going to be there too."
"I am, although I just discovered that today," he said a little ruefully.
"So, anyway. Mom is flying into town later this afternoon and Dad's going to follow tomorrow most likely as he's in the middle of negotiations for his company. Now here's the problem."
Clark waited silently.
"When Mrs. Stern invited us she told us that as the party was a surprise we couldn't stay over with them until the day of the party. He's going to be gone that whole day so a bunch of the guests will be moving in then. Our problem is that Mom and I came in early, and we figured that there'd be hotels open, but did you know that there's some kind of political rally for a senator going on so they're all full. So, now we need…"
"A place to stay," Clark finished for her.
"Exactly," Lana said.
"Well, I guess you two could stay here for one night if you need to," he said.
"Great. I knew I could count on you. We don't mind small." Lana was clearly thrilled.
"And this way we can talk and everything. It'll be just like old times," she added.
Clark started to say something, but at that moment the phone rang. He reached over and picked up the phone.
"Clark, where are you? You're half an hour late, and Perry's steamed. I tried to fend him off for awhile, but he's not to be sidetracked."
"I had an unexpected visitor. Cover for me for about 10 minutes will you? I'll explain when I get there."
"Thanks. Bye." Clark hastily hung up and turned back to Lana. "I need to get to work," he said. "Do you have your luggage here?"
"Okay, I'll just bring up your stuff and be on my way," Clark said. "Make yourself at home."
"Thanks, Clark." Lana reached up and kissed him on the lips. Clark's eyebrows rose a bit, but he was in a hurry so he put it out of his mind and went to get her luggage.
A little later: Daily Planet
Clark stepped out of the elevator and strode across the newsroom, nodding briefly to all the cheerful staff, noticed Lois was out and continued on to Perry's office. Perry was on the phone and motioned for Clark to have a seat. As soon as he hung up he looked expectantly at Clark.
"Where have you been? I had to send Ralph out with Lois to cover something."
Clark, knowing that this was not a good sign quickly informed Perry of his situation. At the finish Perry gave him a nod which told him he was off the hook. With Perry at least. Lois was probably another story.
"Get going, Clark," Perry said impatiently. As Clark rose he added, "When Lois and Ralph get back, tell her that I want her in the office ASAP."
"Sure, chief." Clark exited.
Clark put in an extremely profitable two hours thanks to the absence of emergencies and superspeed typing. Around noon he was startled by a soft breath in his ear.
"Lois, why are you sneaking up on me?" Clark leveled a stern look at her, but at her smug look he smiled.
"I have a bone to pick with you, Mister. You've never seen Ralph eat a hot dog for breakfast," she said, pulling a face. "Besides, aren't you rumored to have…" she looked around and whispered, "superhearing?"
"I was really involved." Clark excused himself.
"Sure," she started but then stopped and slapped his desk with her hand.
"What?" he queried.
"I forgot that I was supposed to pick up that folder in copy. Ralph is, as we all know, not only annoying, but also unreliable. Tell you what, we'll talk as soon as I get back." Lois was already on her way out with a disgusted look.
"Fine." Clark knew he didn't need to answer because it was a Lois-order, not a Lois-question, but he answered anyway out of habit then turned his attention back to his screen.
Perry poked his head out of his office and asked, "Was that Lois?"
"Yeah, Chief. She forgot something. She'll be back in a few," Clark replied.
Sure enough, about 8 minutes later she strode briskly out of the elevator . She headed for Clark's desk, but he pointed at Perry's door and made a face. She sighed and altered course to head into Perry's office.
Clark was shutting down his computer for lunch. He stood up and put his notes in his drawer. He heard Perry's door start to open and Lois' voice talking about something Ralph had done while they were covering the story that morning . The elevator opened. A blond exited and scurried down the stairs with arms outstretched.
"Hi, Clark," Lana said as she reached up and put her arms around his neck. She kissed his cheek.
"Hi, Lana." He briefly hugged her then asked, "What brings you here?"
"I have to pick up Mom at the airport soon, and I know that she wants to see you, and you have to have a lunch or something so I was going to see if you wanted to come with me." She waited expectantly.
During this exchange Lois had approached and gathered from the conversation that this must be "the" girlfriend of Clark's youth.
*She's not that pretty.* Lois thought to herself and smiled. Nonetheless she placed her hand on Clark's arm.
Clark turned slightly and smiled. "Lois, I'd like you to meet Lana Lang. Lana, this is Lois Lane."
Lana frowned slightly at first, but then smiled and held out her hand.
"Nice to meet you."
"Same here," Lois replied shaking her hand.
Lana turned back to Clark and said a trifle impatiently, "Well, Clark?"
"Just a sec. I need to talk to Lois." He took her arm and propelled her over to her desk, slightly out of earshot, and said softly, "Lana was the unexpected visitor this morning. She's here for the party for Mr. Stern. Her mother's coming in in a little bit and they're going to be staying with me overnight. She wants me to go to the airport with her. I know we had lunch scheduled, but could we reschedule? It's been so long since I've seen either of them."
"Okay, Clark." Lois nodded her head slowly. " You'll be back later?" Lois tried to suppress her slight twinges of… *jealousy? Certainly not* she thought.
"Yeah, I'll be back. Thanks." Clark turned around and said to Lana, "Let's go."
Lana nodded and grabbed his arm. "Hurry up." Then she said something too soft for Lois to hear, but it must've been funny because Clark laughed. They entered the elevator, Lana looking joyful and Clark looking like a little boy out on an unexpected school recess.
As the elevator swallowed them up, Lois stared at the space they had vacated. She hadn't liked the proprietary way that Lana had grabbed Clark's arm and she suddenly thought *Clark didn't kiss me goodbye. Hey, wait a minute. Did he say… she's staying at his place?* She flopped down in her chair with a stunned expression on her face. This couldn't be a good sign.
Shortly after: Metropolis Airport
Lana and Clark were waiting for the plane that wonder of wonders hadn't been delayed. Lana was talking a mile a minute and catching Clark up on her life. She had been traveling all over the world and hadn't been able to correspond with him on any type of a regular basis so they had a lot to talk about. Suddenly she spotted her mother exiting the terminal.
"Mom," she yelled as she headed towards her, Clark right on her heels.
"Hi, Lana. Clark?" she looked surprised and pleased at the same time. It was clear where Lana got her looks from. Mother and daughter had the same Nordic look with the determined chin that spoke of a stubborn will.
"Hello. It's so great to see you again," Clark said as she reached up to hug him.
She smiled at his comment. "It's great to see you too, Clark, but I thought you had to work."
"I brought him along for his lunch break," Lana interjected. "I told you that he'd let us stay with him when we couldn't find a hotel."
Lori Lang beamed, "Well, then that's settled. We need to get my luggage." She headed off in the direction of baggage claim with Lana and Clark close behind her.
Back at Clark's apartment
Clark set all the luggage down inside the door. He had no idea that anyone needed this much stuff for a few days. Even Lois brought less, and he'd always thought her excessive.
Lana and her mother were still talking, verbosity being a Lang virtue.
"When did you say Dad was coming in?" Lana asked her mother.
"Well, tomorrow, but we can't be sure when. At last count he was planning to fly in later because it was the only flight he could get. You know your father's quite scatterbrained, and he forgot to make reservations," Mrs. Lang answered. "Oh, Clark, could you hand me that bag over there."
Clark dutifully handed it over as his cell phone rang. He grabbed it out of his pocket.
"Where in the Sam Hill are you now? I need you to go out on a story with Lois. I would've sent her out with Ralph, but after this morning I don't think that's a good idea."
"Sure, Chief. I'll be there in ten minutes."
"Good. Oh, word to the wise, there's something up with Lois. I didn't think Ralph would make such a dent in her spirits, but they came close to a fistfight this morning."
"Uh, thanks, Chief. I think." Clark hung up and turned to the Langs.
"I've got to get back to work. I'll see you later." With that he was out the door with a preoccupied look on his face. He was well acquainted with Lois' fiery personality, but she didn't usually let Ralph get to her.
A few minutes later: Daily Planet
Clark strode out of the elevator and saw Perry and Lois closeted in Perry's office. He assumed that they were waiting for him. He was correct.
Perry waved him in. "Now that you're both here I have a new story for you."
They waited in silence.
"There have been rumors that someone wants to get to Mr. Stern and just last night someone broke into his house. As I'm sure you know, Mr. Stern's security system is highly advanced, and to circumvent it would take a professional. This is obviously not some local vandal. Mr. Stern wants his two best reporters on the case."
"Really?" Lois said, brightening.
"Yes," confirmed Perry. "He said that it would make great news, and that you two were the ones to figure it out and write it up."
"That's great, Chief," said Clark with a smile.
"Now, I've already sent Jimmy to get schematics for the house security system so they should be arriving shortly. Mr. Stern said that he told everyone to cooperate with you. He's going to be changing the whole system so that's why he's letting you see it all. Now, get to it." He chased them out of his office.
Lois hesitated outside the door. Normally, she would've headed to Clark's desk with him, but now she wasn't sure. She hated the feelings that she was experiencing. She hadn't felt this uncomfortable around Clark in a long time. Clark unwittingly solved the problem by reaching for her hand and pulling her along to his desk. Feeling slightly better, she perched on his desk. She was cheered immensely by the fact that when he sat down he didn't let go of her hand, but let his rest with hers on her lap.
"So, Lois. Who do we want to interview first?" Clark asked.
She was on ground she was sure of here so she spoke up with confidence. "The butler of course. They're always the guilty party."
Clark laughed. "In murder, Lois, not in attempted theft."
"Murder, theft, same category," Lois replied flippantly. She was starting to feel better now that she was with Clark.
Just then the phone rang. Clark reclaimed his hand and reached for the phone.
"Clark Kent…Oh, hi…Tumeric?…I'm pretty sure I'm out on the shelf, but there should be some in the spice box that mom forgot here last time. It's by the sink… Yeah, that's it…You're making that curry that I love, aren't you?…No, I'm definitely not complaining…yes, ma'am. I won't be late. Got it. Bye."
"Mrs. Lang?" Lois ventured.
"Actually, it was Lana. She's making my favorite curry. She learned it somewhere, and she made it for me last time she saw me. She won't tell me the recipe though. It's amazing. That girl has a real talent for cooking. She just experimented until she figured it out." Lois could hear admiration in his voice. Her previous return of spirit was quickly smashed.
Jimmy walked up with a small sheaf of papers. "Here you go, guys."
Clark reached out and accepted the papers. "Thanks, Jimmy."
"No problem. Oh, guys, I was wondering about the party." At their glare he lowered his voice. "I'm supposed to take the pictures for it.. This thing is formal right?"
"Yeah. Lana told me it was going to be really formal. Why? Need to rent a tux again?" Clark teased.
"Sure do. I'm thinking about trying a shoestring tie this time. What do you think?"
"Uh, not a good idea, Jimmy," Clark said, trying not to laugh at the thought. "Right, Lois?" He was surprised that she hadn't joined in. Usually she was the first one to tease Jimmy about his odd choices in apparel.
"Um, sure, Clark," she said with a preoccupied look on her face.
*Oh, yes. The Langs are going to be there, too* Lois thought to herself. Best not to dwell on that. She quickly said, "You know, we should probably go interview some people."
"You're right. We should." Clark stood up. Jimmy took the hint and headed off, back toward research. He still had more stuff to dig up for them.
Lois and Clark headed out to get a taxi.
Later: Back at the Daily Planet
They hadn't gotten very far in their investigation despite the fact that they had interviewed four different witnesses. All they could tell was that no one had been home at the time and no one had left anything unlocked. This only confirmed their suspicions that it was a technological wizard who had perpetrated the act.
Meanwhile, Clark was getting concerned, because it seemed as if Lois' heart wasn't in the investigation. He missed her usual nonstop babbling between locations. He wondered if she were getting sick or something. He wanted to ask her, but he never could get to that point before they reached another suspect. They decided to wrap it up and head home for the night. Clark's spirits brightened at the thought, because he was looking forward to the curry awaiting him. Lois noticed the lift in his spirit and was more distressed than ever.
That evening: Clark's apartment
Lana had outdone herself and Clark was having the time of his life. After the fruitless search that had occupied his entire day all he really wanted to do was relax, which was precisely what he was doing. He was eating some of his favorite food and reminiscing about the past with Lana and her mother.
He heard the phone ring and sighed.
"Hello?…Bobby?…What do you mean, you know what information we need?… Sorry, of course you do…Just a sec." Clark turned toward the kitchen.
"Lana?" he called.
"Yes, Clark?" she answered.
"I have a source coming over. Do you mind if I give him some of that curry?" Clark asked. "He always insists on food."
"No problem, Clark," Lana said sweetly.
"Thanks, Lana," Clark said. He turned back to the phone and said, "How do you feel about curry?…all right, see you in half an hour. I'll call Lois. Bye!"
He quickly dialed Lois' number. "Hi! Bobby just came to see me, and he wants to talk to us. He says he knows what's going on. I have food over here that he says is acceptable so come on over as soon as you can…Bye."
While Clark waited for his guests he was pressed into dish service with Lana. When the doorbell rang Lori Lang yelled, "You two keep it up. I'll answer the door." She quickly walked up to it and opened it.
When the door opened, Lois was greeted by sound of laughter coming from the kitchen. As she stepped inside she heard Clark and Lana's voices coming from the kitchen.
"Give me that back, Clark," Lana demanded.
"No way! You keep hitting me with it," Clark said, laughing. "Lana, stop it!"
Lois briefly introduced herself to the woman who had opened the door and saw a look of something pass through the other woman's eyes as she identified herself. So this was the mother of Lana Lang. She could see a definite resemblance.
"Clark," Lori Lang said, "Lois Lane is here."
Clark appeared in the door of the kitchen flushed from laughing and trying to fend off the attacks of Lana by her kitchen towel. "Hi, Lois," he choked out. "Bobby should be here any minute. Lana, stop it," he said sternly after he had been nailed in the head.
Lois barely managed to nod her head.
Lori Lang headed toward the kitchen saying, "I guess you're relieved of duty, Clark, but only because you have work to do…My word, what did you two do in here? You're all wet and there's water everywhere."
"She sprayed water at me," Clark defended himself.
Before Lana could retort, Lori interrupted saying, "I don't care who started it. It's a mess. Clark, go change. Lana you've got a floor to mop."
As Clark exited the kitchen he said with glee, "So there, Lana, I knew that your mother liked me best."
"Does not." Lana hurled a dishcloth at his retreating back.
Lois sat there on the couch, stunned. Lana was flirting with her fiance and he was enjoying it!
The doorbell rang and Clark came out of the bedroom with a dry pair of jeans and t-shirt. He bounded up to the door and opened it to let Bobby in.
"All right, where's the food?" Bobby demanded.
"I'll get it," Clark said. "But you talk to Lois while I do."
Bobby promptly sat himself down on the couch.
Lois quickly shoved her dilemma aside and concentrated on the problem at hand. "Well? You told Clark you had information," she prompted.
Clark exited the kitchen with a plate in hand. "Here you go, Bobby. Now spill it.'
"Geez, can't a guy eat first?" Bobby complained.
"No," Lois said crossly.
Clark sat down next to her on the sofa.
"Well," Bobby started. "I heard that you were looking for information about the break-in at the Stern household."
"Right," Clark confirmed.
"Rumor has it…wow, this curry is incredible. Where did you get it?"
"Never mind." Lois said. She was not happy to have the story interrupted and she certainly didn't want to hear what a good cook Lana was.
"Okay, okay. There's a new guy in town. Calls himself a techno wizard. Oh, yeah, he likes to take pictures of the insides of places he's visited. My contacts say that he's been all over the country. Breaks into the homes of the rich and famous. Places like Bill Gates' home, Hollywood stars, famous singers etc. The more high tech, the more likely he'll break in. Sometimes he gets interrupted so he has to come back a second time. Then he sells the pictures to fans or just to the interested."
"Are you saying that Mr. Stern's house was burglarized for pictures of the inside?" Lois demanded.
"Yep. That's all I know. I'll be on my way now."
"Not with my silverware you won't," Clark said, reclaiming the utensils. "I gave you a paper plate so you can take it with you, but you're going to have to find yourself some silverware to finish it off."
As Bobby took himself off to the door he mumbled, "People are so cheap nowadays."
Clark rolled his eyes at Lois. She managed a smile.
"What do you think?" he asked her.
"I guess we should tell Mr. Stern that he's probably safe, but who knows if he'll agree. I'm not quite sure how one goes about catching someone who breaks into houses for the fun of it. I mean, breaking in is a crime, but he just takes pictures. What kind of person does that?"
Clark shrugged. "I have no idea. So we're looking for some type of lunatic. Question is, is he dangerous?"
"I doubt it. If he occasionally has to come back a second time to finish up, clearly he can be scared off. I suppose that the pictures could be dangerous if they gave the layout and systems away to thieves who actually wanted to take something."
"I bet Jimmy could find out for us just who buys these things," Clark said. Suddenly he cocked his head and gave that look that she knew so well.
"I've got to go." He raised his voice slightly and spoke to the kitchen. "Guys, I'm going to walk Lois to her car. I'll be back in a bit." He quickly rushed out the door, leaving Lois in the hall as he headed for the sky.
Lois slowly headed for home. She passed the park and wearily decided to take a walk around. Clark had barely said a word to her the entire day that wasn't business related. It wasn't like she had to be the center of attention, but Clark was her fiance. Usually she caught him looking at her all the time. Of course that was a two way street, but the whole time Bobby had been there she had been the only one looking. Did Lana have something she didn't? Damn her, she could cook and wasn't there some saying about the way to a man's heart being through his stomach? Then there was the whole first boyfriend and girlfriend issue. They probably had a ton of happy memories while Lois and Clark's memories were dotted with arguments and Lex Luthors. She heaved a sigh and kept walking.
In the sky above Metropolis
Contrary to what Lois thought, Clark had been noticing her apparent lack of zest. He still figured that she was sick, but he hadn't been able to be alone with her all day, and he knew how she felt about people inquiring after her health in public. When he had seen her by the door he had wanted to walk up to her and kiss her, but he had been under attack by Lana. While they had been interrogating Bobby he couldn't stop himself from sneaking peeks at her. He kept wishing that she would look at him so that he could see her face and her beautiful eyes. Although he had to admit that the side of her head wasn't bad either. The light dancing on her hair was mesmerizing. He had had a hard time keeping his eyes off her and paying attention to Bobby.
Now, as he flew over the city on his rounds, he flew by her window, but there were no lights on. He wondered where she was.
Meanwhile: Lois' apartment
Lois had left the park and gone home. Now she was sitting on her couch. It was too early to even pretend to go to sleep. She saw the picture of her and Clark. She reached out and picked it up. This was one of her favorite pictures of the two of them. Clark was looking at her instead of at the camera. She gently touched the flat surface of the side of his face. Just a few days ago, life had been a dream come true. She was at the top of her profession, respected by her peers and above all else loved by a wonderful man who was not only her partner, but her best friend. Now everything had gone up in smoke. A year ago she would've simply slammed her barriers back into place and delved into work. Things were different now, though, because she had allowed Clark into the places that she'd never let anyone in before. Now she couldn't just block him out. She loved him with every fiber of her being, and she knew that, unlike the others, this love would never fade away. Clark Kent was the love of her life. Up until now she had believed that she was the love of his life also.
With a heavy sigh, she stood up. She still had a job and she figured she'd pick out what she was going to wear tomorrow. Not that it mattered, Clark was the only man she bothered dressing for nowadays, and he probably wasn't even looking anymore.
On the street, somewhere between Lois' apartment and Clark's
Lois had been home, searching for the sweater she wanted to wear to work tomorrow when she'd realized that she'd probably left the sweater at Clark's apartment the last time they went flying. She was going to wear that sweater tomorrow.
Lois walked up the steps to Clark's apartment in a dark mood. It was mostly Lana's fault, but Clark was partly to blame, to be sure. And being unable to find the sweater she wanted—that was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Not that that was a good metaphor for Lois—she hated camels. They were ugly, smelly, dirty and stupid. Not unlike Lana Lang. She wished in vain that she didn't share initials with the woman. The only thing that could properly mollify Lois would be to go in Clark's apartment, find her sweater (which she was pretty sure she'd left there), find him and find out that Lana had left.
The door was locked. Locking her out? Impossible. He'd given her his key. Locking Lana out? She could only wish…
She turned the key and pushed the door open. She stepped inside and shut the door, blocking out the frigid air. She shook the snow from her coat and tossed it aside. She walked into the darkened apartment, thinking that maybe Clark wasn't home. But wait, there was a light on in the bedroom! Good. That was where her sweater was, anyway. There was no one in there when she went in, but there was light coming from under the bathroom door, so she figured she'd give Clark a minute. She started opening drawers, looking for her sweater. It was fuzzy and oversized, with three large horizontal stripes on it, tan, brown and dark brown, going from top to bottom. Just as she was pulling it out from its position behind an old Midwest State University sweatshirt, the light in the bathroom clicked out. She heard footsteps, but they sounded strange, unlike Clark's normal ones.
"Clark?" came a voice, a sickeningly sweet voice that could only belong to a certain bleached-blonde.
Lois' heart dropped into her stomach, and revulsion threatened to overtake her.
"I heard you come in," the voice continued. "I was just getting out of the shower…"
*No,* thought Lois. *Don't you dare.*
But she did. Lana Lang walked into the bedroom, clad in a towel that Lois knew very well was the shortest one Clark had. Lois' eyes narrowed into a glare.
"Do you have a…" the words dried up on Lana's lips when she met Lois' gaze. "Oh…" she said weakly.
"What are you doing?" Lois asked accusingly.
In an instant, the hatred was obvious. Lana, at first embarrassed, now defensive, replied haughtily, "Taking a shower. What are you doing?"
The gauntlet was flung onto the floor. Lois sensed the malign intent. The tone of the words was a challenge, the words themselves offensive. As if she had to explain what she was doing in her own fiance's apartment! She could do whatever she wanted here!
"That's none of your business. What are you doing, coming out of here, wearing that, looking for Clark?"
Lana shrugged, trying to convey the message that she didn't care, that Lois wasn't worth explaining to.
"If you've got it, flaunt it."
"Not in Metropolis, you don't. Around here, we call that a slut." She was deliberately baiting Lana, verbally testing her claws.
"Maybe that's why Clark's so happy to have a hometown girl here."
"Are you insinuating that Clark would actually go for that? You think he's shallow enough to be turned on by a bitch in heat?" Her tone was increasingly angry. A slight to her fiance was not something that Lois took lightly. Not when it came from a person like Lana.
"Oh, please, Lois." Lana almost started to say that she hadn't meant to seduce Clark, but stopped herself for two reasons. One, it was only half true. Two, saying it would make Lois feel better. Instead, she said, "Don't you know anything about men?"
Lois grimaced. Lana was reminding her increasingly of Cat Grant, but evil. "I know plenty about men, and even more about Clark. He wouldn't be interested in your pathetic display. He's not that kind of guy."
"Really? He didn't seem to mind when I kissed him."
That was it. Absolutely it. The thought of Lana kissing Clark was too much. Lois brought her hand up and whipped it through the air, slapping Lana's face hard enough to leave a red mark, accentuated by three shallow scratches inflicted by Lois' fingernails.
Retaliation was Lana's first instinct, and she struck out at Lois. Lois' face was saved from a mark similar to Lana's only by her perfected fighting skills. She blocked the probably fake fingernails from ever touching her head by holding up her arm. Lois' foot shot out and knocked Lana onto the floor. Lana grabbed Lois' ankle, attempting to pull her down as well, and try to pin her to the floor, then nail her with her best punch. If she thought she could do that, well, then she'd never seen Lois Lane fight before. Because Lois, although obviously deprived of her usual knee-to-the-groin attack, and altogether not too happy with the disgusting idea of fighting a now-naked woman, was not one to lose a fight. Lois pushed her off roughly and began to rise, but before Lana could attempt again to introduce her fist to Lois' face, a noise startled both of them. Lana looked up, her fist raised. Lois tilted her head sideways from where she was dodging.
Clark Kent stood in the doorway to his bedroom, his jaw down to the floor. Lana's fist dropped, and her hand raced to rediscover the towel that had been lost in the fight. She drew it up to her body and shrank back, embarrassed. Her hair dripped inconspicuously on the floor.
Lois stood first. "Clark…"
"Lois, what…" he couldn't finish. He already knew anyway. He had been flying home from his nightly patrol when, aided by telescopic vision, he had seen Lois entering his apartment. But before he could get there, he'd heard every word the two had spoken.
"Clark…" Lana echoed Lois' word, almost an entreaty.
"I had no…" was all he could manage. No idea… that Lois had been upset by Lana's visit, that Lana was… and thought that he would ever…with her, when he was an engaged man! He hadn't understood what was going on. And, now that he did, he didn't know what to say. "Lois, you…we need to talk."
"Clark!" Lana said for the second time that minute. This time it was a protest.
"Lana, you've said enough," he replied shortly. His hometown friend was not what he'd thought she was, and he didn't want to see her anymore. But he and his fiancee obviously needed to get some hidden hurt feelings out in the open, where they could be mended. Maybe she should have told him what she thought about Lana. Maybe he should have told her that there was nothing to worry about. Whatever they should have done, now they were going to go to Lois' apartment and heal the wounds inflicted by carelessness and poor communication.
Lana was left alone to dress and to look in Clark's medicine cabinet for some antiseptic and bandages.
Lois and Clark walked in silence to her apartment. There was so much to talk about, but neither was sure how to start.
Lois unlocked her door. They stepped over the threshold and she closed the door behind them. They walked over to her couch and sat down. They turned toward each other.
They said it together. Lois motioned for Clark to go first. He reached for her hand. "Lois, honey, I had no idea that's what she was thinking. I guess I've been a little blind, thinking that all we were dong was having fun like old times. We parted as just friends so I figured that we were still in that mode. She knows that I'm engaged to you. I hurt you didn't I?"
Lois nodded mutely.
"I'm so sorry. I knew you were upset, but I didn't put two and two together. Some insightful reporter I am," Clark said mournfully.
Lois smiled a small smile, scooted a little closer to him and reached out to touch his hair. "I guess I can see how you might not realize it. She was, after all, your friend and you always see the best in everybody. I'm not sorry that I hit her though, friend or not…"
"I'm sorry it came to that," Clark said a little ruefully. "If this ever happens again, though, Lois, will you promise to tell me if you feel uncomfortable?"
"I will," Lois said emphatically, "But remember that as much as you dislike the idea, some people aren't always as clear cut and honest as you are…um, Clark?" Lois began hesitantly.
"Nah, it's silly," Lois shrugged.
Clark took her chin in his hand and tilted her head so that her eyes met his. "Tell me."
"Well, do you think she's attractive?" Lois said quickly and looked away.
Clark waited for her to look at him again before replying, "When I'm in a room with the two of you my head says that she's an attractive woman, but my heart only sees you. You are the most incredible woman, Lois Lane. You're funny, smart and gorgeous. You're the woman I've waited for all my life. What I felt for Lana on our best days can't begin to compare to the way I feel about you every day. When I look at you I can't help but smile, because of all the men in the world, I'm the only one lucky enough to be able to share the rest of his life with you."
Lois beamed at him with tears her eyes. Clark always knew what to say and unlike some men, she could see that it was the truth by the way his eyes shone as they looked at her. She threw her arms around him. He hugged her tightly to him. Suddenly, he felt her stiffen and pull back to look at him. "That still doesn't explain why you didn't kiss me goodbye earlier today," Lois said. She had a sudden thought. "You aren't embarrassed when I kiss you in public are you?"
"No way. You insulted me enough in public before. This is a welcome change." Clark grinned as Lois playfully slapped his arm. "Speaking of kissing, though. I believe you owe me one for that missed kiss."
"Isn't that the other way around?" Lois raised her eyebrow and started to pull away.
"C'mere." Clark pulled her down on top of him and kissed her ruthlessly. When they came up for air, he started planting kisses along her collarbone and headed up her neck.
"Clark," she said a bit breathlessly.
"Mmhm." he continued his trek. She giggled as he reached a ticklish spot.
"Do you think I forgave you too easily?"
"Lois," he growled. With that he captured her mouth and swept all thoughts of anything but the way he felt out of her mind. She allowed him to part her lips and reveled in his taste. He was the only man who could make her feel like she was flying, figuratively and literally. She unbuttoned his shirt and reached around his back. Sometimes that suit was a real pain in the neck. He'd just started unbuttoning her blouse when she heard the doorbell.
"That must be Jimmy. He was supposed to drop something off. Maybe if we're really quiet, he'll go away," she whispered.
"If you invited him over, then we have to go to the door," he whispered back, regretfully. "Button up."
Lois sighed and complied. As the doorbell rang a second time, Lois reached the door and opened it.
"Hi, Jimmy," she said.
"Hi, Lois, oh, hi CK," he added, spotting Clark coming up behind her. "Here are the folders you wanted." He held out a stack.
"Thanks, Jimmy," Lois said as she accepted them and promptly turned to Clark and handed them to him. There was a moment of silence, which Lois broke by saying, "I expect you need to be on your way, but thanks for bringing them over."
Jimmy got the hint.
"Bye," they replied, and Lois firmly shut the door as he headed down the hall.
"Lois, don't you think that you were a little mean to Jimmy?" Clark asked as she turned back to him.
"Why?" she asked, raising an eyebrow. "You wanted to invite him in for something to drink and a little chit chat?"
"No," he admitted. "Still…"
"Clark, I'm not in the mood for this conversation. I'm in the mood for this." She jumped at him, and he barely caught her.
"Sheesh, sweetheart," he mumbled as she started covering his face with kisses.
"You want me to go get him and bring him back?" she gave him her earnest, innocent look and stopped kissing him.
"Forget it," he said hastily.
She grinned triumphantly and returned to her previous occupation.
After a little of the same Clark ventured, "I should probably be going home. I should talk to Lana."
"Want to or should?" she said wickedly.
"I said should. You know perfectly well, that I have no desire to leave you."
"Glad to hear it." She nestled contentedly into his shoulder.
Just then he heard a cry for help. She recognized that look and sighed. "All right then, go. I'll see you tomorrow."
"Goodnight, Lois," he said tenderly. "I love you, and I promise you that you're all I dream of."
"I believe you, and I love you, too. Now get out of here." She shoved him toward the window. He swirled into his suit and turned back for one last look at her framed by the window.
"You're one enchanting woman, Lois Lane," he whispered. He pressed a kiss to her lips and jumped out the window, leaving a starry eyed Lois behind.
Meanwhile: Clark's apartment
Lana had dressed both her wounds and herself, but nothing could salve the anger and humiliation she felt in her heart. That harridan had made her look like an idiot in front of Clark. She was sure that it was all Lois' fault. Clark was, for some reason blind to the obvious truth. Lana, not Lois, was the one he was meant to be with. She'd never doubted that. Even though they'd parted as friends, she'd always known that after they'd gotten the wanderlust out of their systems they would get back together. Lois Lane had to try and steal him from her. Now was not the time to dwell on that though. She wasn't sure how much of that conversation Clark had overheard, but it had been a mistake. Lana had underestimated the hold that Lois had on him. Now she had to be careful so she didn't make things worse. Lana would have to watch her step.
Lori Lang had returned without her husband, because he'd been held up somewhere. Lana had spilled out the sordid tale to her sympathetic mother. Lori Lang was slightly mad at Lana, because she had played her cards incorrectly, but they decided that, knowing Clark's good nature, she still had a chance to rectify the error if she was careful. With this in mind, Lori Lang departed again for parts unknown because Clark had to come home sometime.
Clark hesitated outside his door. He inserted the key into the lock and carefully opened the door. Irrationally, he wished that Lana weren't home although that was precisely the reason he had come back. He wasn't sure what he was going to say. He wasn't sure what anyone could say under the circumstances.
As he opened the door he saw Lana sitting on the couch. She looked up, and it appeared to him as if she had been crying.
"Clark," she said in a voice that quivered slightly. "Can we talk?"
Clark nodded slightly and moved to sit down across from her. This was the Lana he remembered.
"You said some pretty awful stuff about me and Lois, Lana. We're supposed to be friends," Clark said.
Lana took a deep breath and plunged in for the performance of a lifetime.
"I'm so sorry, Clark. I just don't know what came over me," she said tearfully. "I really value your friendship and I don't want to do anything to jeopardize it." Now was certainly not the time to tell him that friendship was not her utmost desire. "Please don't tell me that we can't be friends anymore."
"Well," Clark said hesitantly. She looked so sincerely miserable, that he finally relented. " I guess we can still be friends, but how could you say stuff like that?"
"I didn't mean half of what I said, Clark. I was really surprised to find her there, and I guess I just lost it. I know that doesn't excuse what I said, but… Oh, Clark, please forgive me. I couldn't bear it if you never wanted to see me again," Lana pleaded.
Clark, being the forgiving soul that he was, decided that she was telling the truth. And they'd been friends for so long. "Okay, Lana, but if anything remotely like this happens again that's it. I love Lois and that's the end of it."
"I understand," Lana said, bending her head so that he couldn't see the flash of anger in her eyes. She had hated Lois Lane from the moment she heard of her engagement to Clark, but now it had gone beyond that. However, she wanted to keep in Clark's good graces so this was how it had to be for now. She wouldn't give up, just back off for now. She understood better than almost anyone that underneath Clark's kind persona was a firm will, and as much as she relied on his sense of loyalty to family and friends to get him to forgive her, she also knew that that strong will was what she needed to avoid. Being on the receiving end of his steely determination was not in her plan.
"So," Lana said tentatively, "Friends again?"
Clark smiled, "Sure."
She couldn't help herself. She gave him a quick hug. He stiffened for a minute, but when he sensed nothing but friendship >from her, he hugged her back briefly. He felt better. He hated conflict, and although he didn't feel the same about her as he did about Lois, he did love her. He was glad that they were friends again.
Unfortunately, he couldn't see Lana eyes as they were over his shoulder. They displayed a mixture of triumph and a desire for vengeance.
Next day: Daily Planet
Lois walked out of the elevator and headed straight for the coffee. Cup in hand, she headed for her desk. Clark didn't seem to have arrived yet, but clearly he had been busy because on her desk was a vase with red roses and a little card. She smiled as she read it:
Good Morning, Darling
I love you
Her reverie was interrupted by Perry's voice, yelling from his office.
"Let's move, people! This isn't vacation in Hawaii." Clearly the chief wasn't in a great mood. She hurriedly sat down at her desk and booted up her computer. He rarely scolded her, but she wasn't going to take any chances. Unfortunately, Perry was heading toward her anyway.
"Where's that partner of yours, today?" Perry demanded.
"Um, not sure, Perry. I'm sure he'll be here soon," Lois replied.
"Well, what have you got so far on the Stern case?"
"We have some pretty good information. No solid anything, but we don't think that he's some kind of vandal or burglar. He likes to break into rich people's houses and then sell the pictures he takes inside to the highest bidder."
"Get me some proof. Mr. Stern is breathing down my neck."
"What does he expect in one day?" Lois asked.
"Answers, and so do I." Perry stomped back to his office, muttering under his breath.
Lois just smiled. Nothing was going to ruin her mood today.
"What's the smile for?" Clark had come in right after the tirade.
"Nothing in particular." She shrugged. "Thanks for the flowers and the card."
"You're welcome." Clark kissed her lightly then straightened up and leaned against her desk.
"I talked to Lana."
Lois frowned slightly. She really didn't like that woman. Just hearing her name made Lois feel angry. "So what did she have to say?"
"She's really sorry," Clark said.
Lois gave him an incredulous look. "You actually believed that? When exactly did you start hearing our conversation?"
"I heard all of it, but I also know Lana and sometimes she says things that she doesn't really mean when she's angry. That doesn't excuse it, but she was really sorry."
Lois sighed. One of the things she loved the most about Clark was his honesty, but occasionally, she was exasperated by his belief that everyone was exactly like him. She knew that Lana wasn't sorry and that she still hated Lois' guts, but apparently, she had fooled Clark. However, Lois' jealousy had abated after being with Clark last night, so she just rolled her eyes and changed the subject.
"Do we have anything new on the Stern case? Perry is getting jumpy."
"I told Jimmy to find out who the buyers were for those pictures. I also cross-referenced the houses broken into by our picture burglar with subsequent robberies and sure enough, the ones that he broke into were later broken into again by thieves with a different MO. So, I sent Jimmy to look at prison records too."
"You have been busy this morning," Lois said with a smile.
"Well, I had an early morning call, and I didn't feel like coming back after so I just said that I was going to work early." Clark shrugged.
*So, he wasn't completely comfortable with Lana after all.* Lois thought with satisfaction.
"We need to get this story wrapped up so that I can leave by four."
"Why do you need to leave by four?" Clark queried.
"I need to have time to get ready for tonight and some of us can't get ready as fast as others," she said pointedly and shoved him toward his desk. "Go. Work. I have things to get done."
Clark went on his way, laughing.
Three o'clock: Daily Planet
Jimmy came into the room with a jubilant look on his face. "Guess what, guys?" he bubbled to Clark and Lois.
"Good news, I assume," Lois responded dryly.
"Sure is. I found out who that guy is. He's a techno wizard all right, but he's been in trouble before, and I managed to find him again."
"Good work, Jimmy," Clark said approvingly. "Who's our guy?'
"Name's Charles Sivits. Been indited in California for breaking and entering. Also for computer theft."
Clark reached for his phone to call the police. They could do Perry's write up, and Lois could get home in time to get ready. Clearly she had thought of that too, because she smiled expansively at the world in general.
Six o'clock: The Lang's suite at the Stern's
Lana had finally decided which dress to wear, after trying each of them on a million times, and asking her parents a hundred times which was better. Lewis Lang had flown in. He was excited for his daughter. She'd obviously found someone worthy of her interest. Maybe that would take her mind off Clark's engagement. He knew how much that had been on her mind. Lori Lang had aided and abetted her.
Lana had had her hair, nails and anything else anyone could imagine done. She knew that when she wore blue she was stunning, and she'd had great results with all of these dresses. She had to be perfect tonight of all nights. Lana wanted Clark to be unable to take his eyes off her.
Six o'clock: Clark's apartment
Clark had left the Planet a few minutes before and reached his apartment. He was picking up Lois at seven-thirty so he still had plenty of time. He needed to make his rounds over Metropolis now, because he knew that he wouldn't be able to get away from the party to do it later. He swirled into his suit and set off.
Six o'clock: Lois' apartment
As soon as Lois had discovered that the Langs were going to be at the Stern's party she had decided that she needed a new dress. In pursuit of her goal she had left the Planet at four and headed out to the shops. After two hours she had found the perfect dress and was on her way home to get ready. Since Lana was a blue-eyed blond, Lois was reasonably certain Lana would choose to wear a shade of blue that accentuated this. But however incredibly well Lana might look in blue, Lois was pretty great herself in black.
Now for the hair.
Seven thirty: Lois' apartment
Clark rang Lois' doorbell.
"Just a sec," he heard her whisper. Ever since she'd discovered his secret identity, she'd decided that as he could hear her anyway, she might as well not strain her voice yelling to him.
The door opened, and Clark stood still in shock. She was…
"Wow!" Clark whispered in awe.
Lois giggled. She'd stunned the poor man. This was the reaction she'd been hoping for. Take that, Lana Lang.
Clark nodded mutely. She took his arm and led him down the hall.
"So, do you like the new dress?" she asked, even though the answer was obvious.
"Yes," he said fervently. He had to remember to breathe, because she was breathtaking. "Lois, you look really…really great," he managed. Lois' hair was in its slightly curled, short state. Strategic wisps of hair curled over her ears. Her dress was simply cut, and made of black chiffon, overlaid with black lace. There were very short sleeves, and a plunging, but not too risque neckline that accentuated her creamy throat. Below the waist, her legs were the predominant feature.
"Thanks," she smiled. "You're not so bad yourself." Yes, life was looking good.
Stern Birthday Party
Mr. Stern had been pleasantly surprised by the party. His wife wore a large smile. She had pulled it off.
The party was in full swing as Lois and Clark entered the room. They saw Jimmy waving at them. Clark had managed to get a grip on himself with great strength of will and was now able to look elsewhere in the room. They walked over to join Perry and Jimmy.
"Man, Lois. You look really hot tonight," Jimmy bubbled.
"Thank you, Jimmy," she said with dignity.
"This is a pretty decent party for an old guy isn't it?" he asked.
Perry and Lois glared at him. He gave a sheepish look, realizing his faux pas. Clark just laughed.
"It is a nice party, isn't it?" he said. "You know what? I see Arianna Lesters from the Metropolis Phone Company over there. She's looking over here. What do you say we go over and I'll introduce you?
"Gee, CK. You know her? She's a babe." Jimmy grinned.
"Sure do know her, and I also happen to know that she's very nice. I've been over to the phone company for a couple of stories, and we've talked a little bit. Come on. I'll be back in a second, Lois."
Jimmy grinned and nodded. Knowing Clark could be good for his social calendar.
Perry and Lois watched them wend their way over to Arianna. She was clearly more interested in Clark than Jimmy, but she seemed to be treating Jimmy nicely enough anyway. Maybe there was hope there.
Lois couldn't help but look at Clark too. After all, he did have a perfect body and the tux couldn't help but emphasize it. *God, he's handsome,* she and the rest of the female attendees thought to themselves. And to think that he was hers.
An acquaintance of Lois' walked up to offer congratulations on their '60 Minutes' timeslot win, and she reluctantly tore her gaze off Clark to pay attention to him.
Clark sent Jimmy off with Arianna to the dance floor and started to turn around and look for Lois when he saw Lana wending her way towards him with a man on her arm. It was…
"Hi, Clark. How've you been, boy?" Lewis Lang beamed.
"Can't complain. Yourself?"
"I just finished a merger and now I'm going for another."
Lana cut in, "No business, Daddy." She turned to Clark, "So, how do you like the dress?"
"It's nice, Lana," Clark said.
Lewis Lang frowned. He'd suddenly realized who his daughter had been primping for, and he did not like it. Whether she liked it or not, Clark was an engaged man, and she'd do well to remember that. He decided to take the conversation into his own hands.
"Clark, congratulations," he said.
"On what, sir?" Clark asked.
"I read in the Daily Planet that you were engaged."
Lana frowned at that. She didn't like the way this conversation was heading. What was her father doing? Couldn't he see that she wanted Clark Kent? She knew that he'd always hoped that Clark would become his son-in-law. Before she could say anything, however, Clark answered, beaming.
"Sure am. Would you like to meet her?"
Lewis nodded enthusiastically. He'd read quite a bit by this Lois Lane, and he wanted to look in her eyes and see if she was good for Clark. As a business man he could read a lot from people's eyes. He thought of Clark as the son he never had, and he was concerned that Clark got the right girl.
Lana was startled. She did not want to have to deal with Clark's fiancee. Then it occurred to her: *This is my chance to show her up. She can't look better than I do right now. Clark'll see that.* Her heart plummeted though as they walked up to a woman whose back was toward them.
Clark gently touched Lois' back. "S'cuse me, Derk. Do you mind if I steal Lois from you?"
Derk grinned. "Sure do, but since she's wearing your ring and not mine, for some unfathomable reason, I guess I have no choice but to relinquish gracefully."
Lois tilted her head up and smiled at Clark. He encircled her waist with his arm and turned her towards the Langs. Clark said, "Lois, this is Lewis Lang. Mr. Lang, Lois Lane, my fiancee."
Lewis took her hand and looked into her eyes. She stared back steadily, shook his hand firmly and said simply, "Nice to meet you."
Lana, never one to go down without a fight, quickly started talking to Clark. Lewis noticed that Clark had been sidetracked by Lana's conversation so he said softly, "You'll do, Ms. Lane."
Lois looked startled. "I'll do?"
Lewis inclined his head. "One thing I know, Ms. Lane. You are the luckiest woman on earth. Clark Kent is the most honest and trustworthy man I've ever known. I would've been honored to call him my son, but I see by the way he looks at you that his world rises and sets around you. May you have a wonderful life together."
Lois whispered, "Thank you," with tears in her eyes. Clearly, Lewis Lang was more interested in Clark's feelings than the rest of his family.
Lewis and Lois turned back to Clark and Lana. Lewis could see by the look in Lana's eyes that she wanted to ask Clark to dance with her. Now that he had seen for himself that Lois was the woman for Clark he was determined that Lana should leave Clark and his Lois alone so he said, "Lana, come and have a dance with your old dad."
Lana turned to him with fury in her eyes, but she could hardly refuse so she left with him, anger in her heart.
Lois almost felt sorry for her.
Clark turned to Lois. "Do you want to dance, sweetheart?"
"Yes," she answered.
He led her out to the dance floor. Their eyes were locked on each other as they started to dance, and the rest of the world disappeared.
Perry watched them from the sidelines. He had been concerned about them the past few days, but clearly everything was perfect between them now.
Lewis and a visibly upset Lana stood by the band. Lewis said something into the ear of the director, and the band started up a song:
I've seen the seven wonders of the world
I've seen the beauty of diamonds and pearls
But they ain't nothin' baby
Your love amazes me
I've seen a sunset that would make you cry
And colors of a rainbow reaching 'cross the sky
The moon in all its phases, but
Your love amazes me
Don't you ever doubt this love of mine
You're the only one for me
You give me hope, you give me reason
You give me something to believe in
forever faithfully, your love amazes me
I've prayed for miracles that never came
I got down on my knees in the pouring rain
But only you could save me
Your love amazes me
Don't you ever doubt this love of mine
You're the only one for me
You give me hope, you give me reason
You give me something to believe in
forever faithfully, your love amazes me
Your love amazes me
Your love amazes me
I got down on my knees
Your love amazes me
Oblivious to the world around them, they glided across the dance floor. Clark's arm was tenderly wrapped around her waist. Lois' hand rested on Clark's arm. Her diamond danced and twinkled under the ballroom lights, but it couldn't hold a candle to the sparkle in her eyes.
Later that night: In the sky above Metropolis
Lana Lang looked out over the city lights from her plane seat. This view would continue to haunt her for the rest of her life, and this phrase would forever ring in her head: *What if he were mine?*
However, some things just aren't meant to be.
Meanwhile: Clark's apartment
Lois and Clark were cuddling on his couch. Her head was resting on his chest. His arms were wrapped around her. Lois sighed contentedly. This was the perfect end to her evening. They had snuck out of the party early in order to be together for a little while. She'd changed into jeans and an old t-shirt of Clark's. There was, however, still one issue that needed clearing.
"Hm?" he murmured.
"You do realize that this whole fiasco was your fault, don't you?" Lois tilted her head so that she could look him in the eyes.
"My fault?" Clark asked. "How in the world am I supposed to figure out what you're thinking? I may be Superman, and I admit that most females can be figured out, but you? You're simply a mind boggling confusion. I've heard Lana called many things, but compared to you, she's pretty tame."
Lois detached herself from his arms and stood above him with her arms crossed. "You take that back, Clark Kent."
Clark chuckled. "Did I mention that that's why I love you?"
Lois didn't look like she was relenting.
"Seriously, though, Lois, I admit that I was kind of slow to catch on."
"Slow? I'd say it was more like incredibly blind, or how about greenly naive?"
Clark winced, "Lois, please. I know I was stupid, but that last was downright cruel." He changed his tone, and flashed her his most seductive smile.
"If you come back down here, I'll apologize," he coaxed.
Lois was hardly immune to that smile and felt herself start to smile in return. She forced it down. "Only if you promise that you'll never do it again."
"Okay," Clark said agreeably. She had stepped a little closer, and his arm shot out and wrapped around her waist, pulling her back down and into his arms. They were now lying on the couch, and she was facing him.
"C'mon, Lois. I said I'd apologize."
Lois flashed him a look. "You'd better start now."
Clark took a deep breath and said, "I'm very, very sorry, Lois."
"And?" she prompted.
"And it'll never happen again," Clark added.
Lois nodded loftily, "Then, I accept your apology."
Clark rolled his eyes. "Can we move on now?"
"To what?" Lois asked. She was pretty sure she knew, but no harm in making him say it.
"To this," Clark said. He bent his head to hers and kissed her.
"Hm. I don't know…" Lois said.
Suddenly, she found herself laying on the couch alone. Clark was hovering a few yards away, looking at her.
"If you don't want me, I'll just go save somebody or something," he said.
"Clark Kent, you get back over here, right now," she ordered.
"Uh,uh." He shook his head. "Not until you ask nicely. I apologized like you said."
Lois sighed. "You are so juvenile."
He started floating toward the window.
"Fine," Lois said huffily. "Would you please come ba…Aaah!"
Clark had swooshed back into his previous place. He nuzzled her cheek. "Sure, sweetheart."
Lois shook her head. "You're one psychotic alien, Clark Kent."
"Ah, but you love me anyway," Clark replied confidently.
Lois looked deeply into his eyes. "More than anything," she whispered tenderly. "I don't what I would do if I lost you."
He reached his arm up and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear. "Believe me, Lois, when I say that I love you. I'm going to spend the rest of my life proving it to you. There could never be another woman for me. I've known that since the moment I laid eyes on you. We're gonna to be together forever."
She wrapped her arms around him and kissed him, joyfully.
The stars twinkled above the city. The moon shone benignly down upon them. All was right with the world, for they were meant to be.