By Mobile Richard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted December 1998
Summary: What if Clark Kent had arrived in Metropolis before Lois Lane came back from the Congo? A clever story showing what might have been.
I thought it would be fun to take people and events that appeared in the first season and change things around a little. So here it is…
Please send comments to email@example.com
"Lois!" said Perry, beaming from ear to ear as he shook her hand. "It's good to have you back! We missed you!"
"It's good to be back, Perry, and I can see that you've missed me. What's happened to the Daily Planet? I had trouble getting copies of it in every airport between Africa and Metropolis!"
"Yeah, well…uh…the Planet has been going through a dry spell; circulation is down, and…uh…did you happen to see any copies of the Metropolis Star?"
"Did I 'happen to see' them? Perry, that newspaper is on every street corner in every major city in the world!"
"Yeah, well, they're the reason for our current dry spell. They've been scooping us for months. Lois, it's been a disaster! That new team of King and Kent have been on top of every newsworthy event in this city for the last six months! And Kent's had almost every exclusive with Superman since he first appeared on the scene!" Perry paused as something flashed in
"King and Kent!" she snorted. "I'll just bet they've been scooping you! I've met Linda King before, Perry, and I can tell you that she's totally ruthless when pursuing a story!" Perry could have observed that Lois wasn't exactly shy when chasing down leads for an article either, but he wisely kept his peace.
"And Superman!" Lois continued. "Who or what is he, Perry?"
"He says he's a man," said Perry. "It's generally believed that he's from another planet."
"Right!" snapped Lois. "A man. A man who can fly, lift a space station into orbit, withstand fire, earthquakes, bullets…Come on, Perry! Do you really expect me to believe that??"
"I'm not asking you to believe anything, Lois," said Perry testily. "I'm just repeating what…"
"Well, I don't believe it!" Lois continued as if she hadn't heard the interruption. "I think he's a robot. Or a genetically altered human being. Developed by a government or large corporation to be a secret weapon or something."
"Lois, he says he's here to help. And that's all he's done so far…help."
"That's all you've *seen* him do so far! Who knows what he's doing in secret? His creators might be using him to sabotage other governments or corporations, or to ferret out their secrets! So…"
Perry sighed. Lois was going off on one of her weird tangents again. Well, best to let her have her head…who knows, she might be on to something…her intuition had led her into some good stories in the past.
"…I want to read everything we've got on him. I'm going to find out the truth about this being, whether he's man or machine," Lois finished.
"Okay, Lois, but before you get started on the Superman article, how about giving me your story on the gun-runners in the Congo and your subsequent kidnaping? That ought to take the wind out of the Star's sails, or sales." Perry chuckled at his own joke while Lois looked at him blankly, not getting it. "Well?" said Perry.
"Oh, yes," said Lois, recollecting herself. "I already have that story written, Chief. It's right here." Lois rummaged through her briefcase and handed Perry a sheaf of papers. Perry sat at his desk with a grunt of satisfaction. This ought to be worth something, he thought, beginning to read. After a minute he became aware that Lois was still standing there, apparently lost in thought.
"Is there…something else?" Perry asked.
"Perry, who won the Kerth award last year?" asked Lois, gazing at the array of certificates displayed on the wall.
"The reporting team of King and Kent of the Metropolis Star," said Perry gruffly, with the air of someone reluctantly imparting bad news.
Lois's lip curled. "That's the last time that will happen," she said grimly. She whirled out of the office to begin her research on Superman.
"Perry, did you get me tickets to Lex Luthor's ball?" asked Lois as she barged into Perry's office several days later.
"Yes, Lois, Jimmy has them," said Perry irritably. In the months that Lois had been away he had forgotten how maddening she could be. He knew, though, that some of her more irritating qualities were also the qualities that made her so successful as an investigative reporter so he didn't chide her on her interruption.
"Good," said Lois. "They're auctioning off several bachelors for charity, and Superman is among them. It'll be a good opportunity for me to ask him some questions."
"Now, Lois, this isn't a press conference," Perry warned. "Don't go and disrupt an event that's being held for good cause…" He found that he was talking to an empty office. "Great shades of Elvis! What's that woman up to now! I'd better make sure she isn't planning to commit some faux pas…" He had risen to his feet and was preparing to follow Lois from the office when Jimmy yelled that he had a telephone call. By the time he had taken that call and dealt with the two crises that had erupted in the meantime, he had forgotten about Lois and her impending plans.
Lois dressed with care that evening; she had big intentions and wanted to stand out in this crowd! The taxi arrived as scheduled and Lois gathered her purse and notes along with her thoughts as she ran lightly down the steps. Once in the cab, she quickly reviewed her notes again, then leaned back and closed her eyes while she visualized her plan of action for the evening. She had two goals: to get the first one-on-one interview with Lex Luthor; and to beard Superman in public!
The ball was in full swing by the time Lois arrived; she had timed her entrance to coincide with the beginning of the bachelor bidding process. She gradually insinuated herself to the front of the crowd as several highly eligible bachelors were auctioned off. Finally it was time for the main attraction: Superman!
Lois clucked impatiently as the bidding commenced and gritted her teeth in determination at its conclusion. Now for her questions! Peering over the shoulder of a woman who had just stepped in front of her, she took a deep breath. "Superman!" she called, raising her hand, "Lois Lane, from the Daily Planet! Is it true that some of the suspects you've apprehended have never been prosecuted because you had destroyed the evidence of their alleged crimes…crushing their guns and other weapons so thoroughly that they couldn't be used in their trials?" Someone gasped. Heedless of the suddenly electrified silence, Lois forged ahead.
"And isn't it also true that some of the people you've rescued from falling have sustained serious injuries due to the fact that you waited until they had almost reached the ground before you caught them?"
"And isn't it further true that insurance companies have been complaining about the way you burst through walls and cause extensive property damage when you could minimize the destruction simply by removing doors from their hinges?"
"I object!" Lois turned to the speaker. "You can't object, Linda King! This isn't a courtroom!" she snapped.
"For shame, Lois! The man has done nothing but good in this city and you're treating him like he's…"
"Just let the…the man, or whatever he is…just let Superman answer my…"
"This isn't a press conference!" said the emcee, recovering from her surprise and speaking for the first time. "Ms Lane, might I ask you to reserve your questions for a more appropriate time and place and let Superman go on with his business?"
The emcee turned to Superman and nodded. Her intervention had gone unheeded, however; Superman was still standing where he had frozen at Lois's first words. When Lois had spoken, the woman in front of her had stepped aside, giving Superman a full view of the silken-haired reporter. Superman looked deep into a pair of blazing dark eyes and found himself unable to move or speak. He swallowed, trying to catch his breath.
"Superman, you can answer Ms Lane's questions when she poses them in a more suitable forum for addressing them," the emcee said, peremptorily taking Superman's arm and leading him from the stage. Superman went with her reluctantly, turning his head so he could continue to look at Lois, who was too deeply embroiled in an argument with Linda King to notice.
"I knew she was up to something," muttered Perry White while shaking his head at Lois's unprecedented behavior. No one noticed Clark Kent when he quietly entered the ballroom several minutes later. He looked around surreptitiously for the brown-eyed beauty who had dared to confront him so boldly, but she had already moved on to her second goal for the evening.
Clark watched with mixed feelings of amusement and admiration as Lois shocked the assembled company for the second time that evening by publicly chiding Lex Luthor for not returning her calls. "You're late," said a voice at Clark's elbow. Clark turned as Linda King took his arm possessively.
"Yeah, I…uh…they had some trouble with the tux," he said. "It took them some time to get it straightened out."
Linda raised her eyebrows. "They straightened it out at this time of night??" she said. "I'll have to recommend them to Preston! Who are they?"
"I…um…uh…would you like some champagne, Linda?"
"No, thanks; oh, there's Preston calling me. I gotta run. See you later, Clark." Linda hurried off, leaving Clark free to pursue the object of his attention. He made his way to the spot where Lex and Lois were now dancing.
"May I cut in?" he asked eagerly.
Lois looked up in irritation to see a dark-haired man who looked vaguely familiar gazing at her with undisguised admiration. "I don't think we've met," she said coldly.
"Lois, this is Clark Kent of the Metropolis Star," said Lex with noticeable annoyance. "Lois Lane of the Daily Planet," he concluded the introduction. "We'll continue our discussion later," he whispered in Lois's ear, moving off to mingle with other guests.
Lois was enraged. Clark Kent of the Metropolis Star! That weasel Linda King must have sent him over here to interrupt her dance with Lex and ruin her chances of getting the interview! She moved into Clark's arms seething with anger, barely hearing his attempts at conversation and not bothering to inject civility into her voice when forced to answer.
After trying vainly for several minutes to engage his partner in conversation, Clark looked down at her in amusement. He had been inside a tornado once and he thought the 500 km/hr winds that had swirled around him then mild compared to the fury of the woman he now held in his arms.
"May I cut in?" said a sultry voice at Lois's elbow. Lois turned to see Cat Grant.
"Be my guest," said Lois rather rudely, dropping Clark's hand as she prepared to move away.
"Aren't you going to introduce me to your handsome partner?" asked Cat, smiling coyly at Clark, who had released Lois rather reluctantly.
"Cat Grant. Clark Kent," said Lois briefly. She watched in disgust as Cat insinuated herself into Clark's arms and pressed her body close to his.
"Pleased to meet you, Ms Grant," she heard Clark say before she walked away to continue her quest for a story.
Late Monday morning Cat cornered Lois at the coffee machine. "How long have you known Clark Kent?" she asked Lois.
"Since Friday night," said Lois shortly. "Why?"
"I just wanted to know if he's seeing anyone," said Cat with a sly smile.
"I don't know anything about Clark Kent and I care even less!" Lois snapped, pouring her coffee with an unsteady hand.
"You don't care! Lois, where are your eyes? He's the best-looking man around here since…since…who was that French journalist who used to work here? You knew him, Lois; you worked with him a few times."
"Claude," said Lois, flushing slightly. She exited the conversation quickly and returned to her desk before Cat could remember anything else about Claude. She gulped her coffee as if it would help to shunt aside the painful memories that had surged in at mention of Claude's name.
Sitting at her desk, she began pushing papers hither and thither as her thoughts jumped from Claude to Kent. Kent certainly was good-looking, maybe not as handsome as Claude, but almost. He had seemed interested in her, too. He had tried once more to engage her in conversation that evening, but had abandoned the attempt after she gave him another icy putdown. After that he hadn't approached her again, although once or twice Lois had noticed his eyes on her. She tossed her head at the memory now. He was up to something; she was sure of it. He had interrupted her tete-a-tete with Lex Luthor to try to prevent that one-on-one interview and now he was after something else. Well, whatever it was, he wasn't going to get it. She wouldn't have any trouble handling Mr. Clark Kent!
Lois inched her way across the scaffolding, trying not to look at the ground, eleven stories below. A few more feet and she would be able to look in the window where the lone gunman was holding twelve people hostage, and witness firsthand the horror the captives were experiencing. Just as she reached the window and peered at the tableau inside, a gust of wind rocked her base of support. She clutched a board and hung on as the window shattered.
As she gazed through the newly created opening, she caught her breath in surprise. The scene inside had changed. Instead of one man waving a shotgun at twelve terrified hostages, she saw one disarmed man staring open-mouthed at a blue-and-red clad man who was occupying himself with twisting the gun into a pretzel, and twelve men and women in various stages of relief at their recent deliverance.
Lois pulled a camera out of her fanny pack, releasing her grip on the scaffolding as she did so. She quickly snapped a picture just as another gust of wind tore at the building, causing her to lose her balance and slip off the edge of the board. She screamed as she clutched at the board with her fingers. Her breath came in sobs as she hung on, dangling ten stories above the ground
"Help!" she screamed. "Can somebody please help me!"
Lois heard a commotion in the room above her, and then a voice at her side said reassuringly, "It's okay. I have you, Ms Lane." Lois felt strong arms encircling her and turned to look into the face of Superman.
"Superman!" she gasped in relief. She added nervously, "I hope you don't hold it against me…what I said to you at Lex Luthor's ball, I mean…"
"I would never let that stop me from giving assistance to someone who needed it…," Superman assured her as he set her down gently in the room where the former hostages were still standing. "…however much I might want to," he added.
Lois stared at him, shocked, then caught the laughing glint lurking in his brown eyes. He was teasing her! The Man of Steel had a sense of humor!
That reminded her that she still had not verified whether or not he really was a man as opposed to a robot and she took a step closer.
"I'm sorry it took me so long to catch you, but before I could come to your aid, I had to secure the gunman so he couldn't cause any more damage," Superman was explaining to her. He half turned away and gestured toward the gunman. Lois saw that the man had been tied securely with power cords from the equipment in the room.
Her gaze went back to Superman and she studied him thoughtfully. He was standing in what appeared to be a typical pose for him, rather stiff and formal with arms folded across his chest. He might be a robot, for all the animation he's showing, thought Lois.
On the other hand, his face was becoming slightly flushed under her scrutiny, which was definitely un-robot-like behavior! Reaching a decision on how to settle the question, she stepped quickly up to Superman and threw her arms around his neck, pressing her hands against his throat to try and feel a pulse. At the same time, she laid her head against his chest.
"Thank you, Superman," she said softly, after she had satisfied herself that he had both a heartbeat in his chest and a pulse in his throat.
As she pulled back, she caught an enigmatic look from the Man of Steel, and on another impulse, stood on tiptoe and kissed him full in the mouth. For the merest instant, his lip quivered under hers, and at the same time, Lois experienced an overpowering rush of feeling. Then he jerked away from her, his face flushing. "I-I have to go," he stammered. "You should be all right now, Ms Lane."
Before Lois could catch her breath, he was gone. She stumbled to the window and gazed in the direction he had disappeared, trying to collect her reeling thoughts.
There was no longer any doubt in her mind, Superman is definitely a man! Hard on the heels of that realization came the thought…I just kissed him! What must he think of me! She blushed.
Lois was still staring out the window when the police surged into the room, followed by some intrepid members of the press. "Lois!" called a voice from behind her. "Lois Lane! Are you all right? Were you a hostage here, too?"
Feeling the hands on her shoulders, Lois turned to see Clark Kent, his eyes fixed on her face. Kent again, she thought in disgust. He was breathing rapidly. He must have run all the way up the stairs, or else he just couldn't stand all the excitement. She shook off his hands, annoyed at the intrusion on her thoughts of Superman.
"Let go of me!" she snapped, barely conscious of Clark's stare of surprise at her reaction. "And if you want a story, get it the old-fashioned way…by interviewing the hostages! Don't expect me to hand one to you!"
"No! I wasn't trying to get a story from you; I just wanted to see if you're okay! I…"
"Tell me another one!" Lois huffed as she pushed past him.
Clark watched with a rueful expression on his face as she elbowed her way through the throng. He didn't know why he had expected the connection he had made with her as Superman to carry over to his Clark persona. After all, as far as she was concerned, he was two different people. And that's the way I want it, he reminded himself.
During the following weeks, Lois rushed to every disaster calculated to draw Superman's attention, and although she caught frequent glimpses of the Man of Steel, he remained tantalizingly out of her reach. Clark Kent, on the other hand, she met at every Superman sighting. He seemed to have an uncanny ability to know when and where Superman was likely to appear, and Lois ground her teeth in frustration at his frequent Superman scoops. I might just as well follow him around, she thought sourly, he's bound to lead me to Superman sooner or later.
"Perry, what's this?" asked Lois, slapping a copy of the Metropolis Star down on his desk. "I go out of town for a week and…"
"Scooped again," said Perry. "But for the last time, I hope. That newspaper should be in disarray for awhile. Preston Carpenter is in jail, Linda King has resigned and is moving to California, and Kent is coming here…"
"Hold it!" said Lois. "Coming here? As in coming to work at the Daily Planet? You must be joking!"
"No, I'm glad to say I'm not! Kent was fired from the Metropolis Star for being a whistle blower and I added him to my staff…"
"No way!" said Lois. "I can't believe you'd hire that…that *hack!*"
"Now, Lois, Kent is no hack; he's damned good! I had some trouble with the Suits over hiring him…they didn't want him because he's a whistle blower…but I told them that he's exactly the kind of journalist we want working for us. As long as the Daily Planet is honest, it has nothing to fear from a whistle blower."
Disregarding him, Lois paced back and forth. "I can't *believe* you hired him!" she said again. "Clark Kent!"
"Yes, and I don't want to hear another word about it," said Perry irascibly. "I'm partnering him with you for starters…"
"Partnering him! With me! Are you out of your…"
"Is there an echo in here? Yes, Lois, I'm partnering him with you! And I've heard all I'm going to hear from you on this subject! You and Kent will make a good team. Kent's an easy-going guy and even you…uh…I mean…*you* shouldn't have any trouble getting along with him! Your writing styles are complementary and your personal styles will…"
But he was talking to an empty office. Lois had catapulted out the door and was shuffling papers on her desk, stuffing them at random into her briefcase. Clark Kent…coming here to work…partnered with her! She was going to "get along" with him! They were going to make a good team. Yeah, when hell freezes over! "Never!" she said to herself.
At that point the elevator door opened and her eyes met Clark's when he stepped out. For one long moment their gaze met as she found that she was unable to withdraw her eyes from his. Finally wrenching them away with difficulty, she looked down at the papers on her desk. "Never!" She repeated to herself. "Never, never, never, never, never…"