By Rachel M. <LnCSwing@aol.com>
Submitted December 1999
Summary: Unexpected events plague a late-night stakeout while Lois and Clark hunt down a pack of drug dealers. Will Clark be forced to sacrifice his secret for Lois's safety when the two are held at gunpoint? And will the night's events change their relationship forever … if they survive?
It seemed to Clark Kent that the only time bad guys emerged from the shadows was during the darkest hours of the night when he was drowsy and incapable of coherent speech.
At least that was how he felt when he had to leave his warm bed to fly out into the cold December dawn… for the fifth time.
He gritted his teeth as he noticed that there was a storm brewing in the Northeast, which would inevitably lead to snow. Metropolis hadn't seen this much snow in 20 years, and frankly, Clark was sick of it. It made both of his jobs a lot harder, and he was sure that it hadn't been too peachy for his partner, either. She had been on her last nerve yesterday evening… Clark hoped that she would be fully recuperated when he saw her later this morning.
Clark acknowledged the storm, almost as if he were giving it permission to proceed, since, of course, winter always ends in some way or another. Lightening flashed in response, and Clark continued on his way to unearth some more cars that were buried beneath mounds of snow.
Lois Lane peered out the window at the threatening clouds and wondered how Superman was doing. She shivered just thinking about it. After the sudden snow that had seemed to drop from the sky like a thick blanket, surely there were still plenty of commuters trapped on the Interstate, among other places. Superman was probably out there, covered with mounds of snow, trying to save hundreds of strangers when he could be with her, cozily sitting in front of her fireplace.
As for Clark, Lois had tried calling him to ask him if he knew exactly where Superman was, but he had not answered his phone. 'Ha! Kent wouldn't answer the phone, would he? He's probably sitting around the fireplace at Miss DA's house… Mayson Drake, the amazing Duckgirl!' Lois was still mad at him for not being there for Superman, his supposed "best friend", when the superhero had been blind for two days. 'Well, let them! I don't need Clark to find Superman! I'll find him myself!'
Lois hastily threw open the window to yell for the Man of Steel, then immediately regretted it. A harsh wind blew into her apartment and sent her latest story flying into the kitchen. A squeal escaped from her lips instead of her intended words, and suddenly, Superman was standing before her.
"Let me clean that up for you," he said.
Lois could only stare, dumbfounded, as he supersped around her apartment picking up the strewn papers.
"What… how… ?"
"I was on my way to see you anyway. You're getting Superman's Maid Service as an added bonus." Superman flashed his teeth in a wide grin as he halted on the exact spot he had been on not three seconds ago.
"Oh," was all Lois could say. She mentally hit her head against the wall as she realized that Lois Lane, world-famous investigative reporter, was at a loss for words… in front of a *man*, no less!
She smacked speechless Lois in the face and threw her out the window. "Would you like something? Food?" Lois walked over to her refrigerator and opened the door. "I have a few containers of… oh, yuck." Lois attempted a meek smile and threw it in Superman's direction as she shoved the containers to the back of the fridge. "On second thought, how about something to drink?"
"That's all right, I just dropped in to see how you were doing. Clark told me that you're pretty stressed out about the weather — "
"I know, can you believe it?" Lois asked him, exasperated even after that tub of chocolate ice cream. "My Jeep got stuck yesterday, despite the four-wheel drive, and it just so happened that I was on my way to an incredibly important interview, so I had to *walk* the rest of the way there, since I couldn't find a cab that was actually working and I was really late, and when I got there I was *soaking* wet from the amazingly cold snow that melted all over my clothes and hair, and I made a very bad impression, and furthermore — "
"Whoa, now, slow down, Lois."
Lois pouted and held up her pinkie finger. "I slipped and hurt my pinkie."
Clark chuckled. At the office, he had gotten used to the patented Lane-babble, but when he appeared as Superman, the babble was upped to a different level altogether.
"You think that's funny!?" Lois asked incredulously. "So I picked the wrong shoes to wear on a snowy day, but — "
This made Clark laugh even harder. "No, Lois, I wasn't laughing at *that!*"
Lois crossed her arms and stared at Superman. "You're not very convincing."
"I've never really been all that convincing," he said softly. After a short pause, he continued. "But I really must be leaving now. I have a lot to do before the sun rises and Metropolis wakes."
"Of course, Sexy — whoops, I mean, Superman." The sheepish look crossed Lois' face again. "Will I see you again before Christmas? I'm going with Clark to his parents' farm in Smallville, since Lucy is in Japan, my dad is in the Congo looking for some exotic plant, and my mother absolutely refuses to take part in any Christmas celebration whatsoever."
"Probably… in some way or another." Clark congratulated himself on that one. It was his method of being subtle and ironic at the same time.
Lois just gave him an inquisitive look.
"Bye," he said as he disappeared into the inky blackness.
"Bye," she replied, still wondering what he meant by his last statement.
The day started out pretty normally, even with the 7-foot snow drifts outside the Daily Planet building. The whole staff was moving in slow motion, figuratively and literally speaking. In his office, Perry White was disappointed with his two star reporters. He had expected them to rush into the newsroom at 9:00, grab two boxes full of research and a dozen pages of notes in 30 seconds flat, give a hurried explanation to Perry as to where they were going and what they were going to be doing while there, and be back in the elevator at 9:01.
As Perry had readied himself for the Lane and Kent rumble that usually interrupted slow news spells at some point or another, the two had arrived separately, both extremely calm and contained for two people with news that would turn Metropolis upside down, and had sat down at their desks with no noticeable rush to get a front-page, 32-point headline for the Daily Planet. It slowly dawned on Perry that there *was* no front-page story for the paper… he had a feeling that this spell would set a record for being the longest one yet seen at *this* establishment. And he was thoroughly disappointed.
"Lois! Clark! My office!" He really didn't like himself when he was frustrated about something.
Lois told Clark about Superman's appearance at her apartment the night before as they walked over.
"… and then he said, 'In some way or another.' Don't you think that's kind of… weird? I mean, Superman isn't usually so mysterious when he's talking to me, and I really don't want to think about all the possibilities for those words." She paused. "But still, that's weird, huh?"
Clark wanted to kick himself. What he had said last night hadn't been so great after all. Now Lois probably thought Superman was some sort of Peeping Tom.
He jerked back to reality. "What?"
"Are you OK? Because you're being really… not here."
Clark had to admit he was still thinking about how dangerous the snow and ice were to commuters, especially in the western part of the city, where hidden stop signs seemed to take over easily seen traffic lights.
"Yeah. I'm okay."
Lois gave him a long, hard look. "I don't believe you."
Clark sighed inwardly and looked toward heaven for help. Leave it up to Lois to find the kink in his suit of armor. Well, suit of spandex.
"No, really, I'm okay. I'm just a little stressed out, just like everyone else in this room. Just like everyone else in this city, at that."
Lois continued staring at him, and Clark began to feel uncomfortable. As great as it was to have Lois focus all her attention onto him for once, he still didn't like it when people bored holes in his head with their eyes. Nobody likes that feeling.
She finally looked away, seemingly satisfied, and Clark breathed a sigh of relief as they reached Perry's office after what had seemed like an eternity.
"OK, you two. What gives?"
Lois and Clark gave their boss blank looks. "What do you mean?" Lois asked.
"I'm asking, what gives? There has been absolutely no action in or around this city for five weeks. How come?"
"How would we know, Perry?" Lois said.
"Maybe all the criminals are hibernating." Lois turned to look at Clark while Perry stared at him from across his desk. The boyish grin on Clark's face faded as he realized he desperately needed to work on his lines.
"Maybe they are, Kent. That suggestion would go right along with -" Perry held up the Metropolis Inquiry and pointed at the headline. "'Jimmy Hoffa Alive Somewhere in the Gobi Desert', or -" He held up another tabloid. "'Aliens Abducted My Unborn Baby'! C'mon, people! We're not a ragtag piece of junk like *this!*" Perry slapped the magazine down on his desk for emphasis. "I want some real answers! I want a scandal! I want a break-in! At this point, I wouldn't care if some little green men came along and dropped a damned nuclear bomb on our heads, so long as the story was on our front page! Got it?!"
Lois saluted, a very risky maneuver at this point, Clark thought. He backed up, expecting some sort of explosion, whether it be Perry's head or one outside that had heard Perry's tirade and had decided to follow orders. But Perry simply sat back in his chair and stared at the two as they scurried out, nearly bumping into Jimmy as they went.
Jimmy entered the room and almost winced when he saw the look on Perry's face. "Uh… hi!" Jimmy smiled, but it didn't have any effect on Perry White's famous glowering look. "So… do I take it you still want to take a look at my pictures?" The Editor-in-Chief's face turned three different shades of red, and Jimmy suddenly had the urge to run and cower in the corner.
Clark swore he heard a cat shriek in Perry's office. But his mind was concentrated on much more important things right now, so he dismissed it. He sat as his desk pretending to work, but was, in reality, sneaking glances at Lois every now and then. She looked beautiful today, just like every day. Her hair was in its usual perfect state, her face carefully fixed with just the right amount of make-up, and an outfit that was within the dress code limits but still made every man within two miles turn their heads at the slightest movement. And Clark was one of those helpless men. Perhaps the most helpless of them all.
His thoughts were interrupted by an annoying ringing sound, and it took Clark a minute to realize that it was his desk phone. He sighed. It was like it had known he was daydreaming and had decided to take the responsibility of jolting Clark out of the most pleasurable moments of his whole day.
"Clark Kent." His voice made him sound depressed, he knew. He hoped that he didn't sound *too* bad, otherwise he could lose something big. First impressions were everything in the news business, especially at Clark's level of reporting. He listened to the person on the other end of the line for a few seconds, then muttered a few choice words as he scrambled for a pad of paper. Even mild-mannered reporters get frustrated sometimes. After he hung up, he walked over to his partner's desk.
"Hey, Lois -"
"What! What is it? Did you get a lead? Are we on to something big? Is it Kerth-worthy?
Clark grinned. She was jumping out of her skin. It was entertaining, in a way.
"I'm going to be bald soon from all the hair I've pulled out if something doesn't happen *fast*."
"Well, I *do* have something big…" Lois' face lit up with hope. "*But* it's not life or death. So don't get excited."
Lois, patiently waiting, which was something very unusual for her, stared expectantly at Clark with a look that said, "Get on with it."
So he did.
"I just got off the phone with my source in Golden Springs, and -"
"Golden Springs? What kind of story can someone possibly find in Golden Springs?!"
Clark held up a hand. "You asked, I'm delivering."
Lois slumped in her chair, defeated. At least for the moment.
"He told me that *supposedly* there's some big drug dealing going on there, and that the next big deal is tomorrow night. Maybe we could — "
"Plan a stakeout? Drop in unnoticed and tape everything? Bust them up the next day with a front-page headline on the Daily Planet? I love it!"
"Well, actually, I was thinking that the police would probably be better -"
"Oh, quit worrying about trivial details, Clark!" Lois bounded out of her chair. "Let's tell Perry!" She hurriedly walked over to Perry's office, but then seemed to stop, maybe to think twice about stepping back into the line of fire. "On second thought, maybe we should wait until tomorrow…"
Clark just nodded, since there was no point in trying to pacify Lois now. She was already on the rampage.
"Oh, c'mon, Perry, it'll be great! Front-page story! That's what you've been whining about for the past week, isn't it?"
"Yes, but I didn't mean a front-page story and two obituaries for my star reporters! I was talking about something exciting, but a little less of the tempting fate business that you seem to enjoy!"
"It's part of my job, Chief. You, above all people, should know that!"
Perry couldn't really argue against that. He looked desperately at Clark, searching for intervention from the more rational half of the team. But unfortunately it seemed that the young man had already given in to the inevitable, so all Perry received was a shrug, along with a slight frown.
The editor knew he was just putting off fate, so he made a decision so that the people who were forming a line outside his office could have their turn.
"All right, Lois. But don't come crying to me when Clark gets gunned down and you've got a head wound the size of Cleveland."
"Thanks, Chief." Lois grinned. "I knew you'd see it my way."
As the two left, one slightly faster than the other, Perry murmured to his desk calendar, "I always end up seeing it her way."
As Clark had so eloquently put it, he was heading to the supply closet to get some "Uh… pencils" when Lois shouted at him en route to the elevator.
"Clark! Remember to leave early so you can let me into your apartment! We need to get ready for that stakeout!"
But Clark didn't hear her. His superhearing had tuned into a radio newscast, and he was already on his way to a flood in Egypt.
An annoyed Lois boarded the elevator and pushed the button for the lobby. She didn't pay much attention to the other man on board until he tapped her on the shoulder. As she turned around to face him, she noticed that he had a gun, and he was attempting to reach around her to pull out the red button that would stop the elevator. Not even thinking, Lois kicked out at him, but was surprised as he dodged her foot nimbly and then grabbed her arm. He forced her up against the elevator wall and clamped a hand over her mouth.
"Lois Lane, I presume?"
Lois struggled, but was held fast, with both of her arms stuck between her body and the wall.
"Don't worry, I'm not going to kill you. That would be messy, therefore a waste of my time. I'm here to warn you about tonight. If you show at Golden Springs tonight… well, let's just say I won't mind being messy there… I can let the donut-boys handle that."
"Yeah, well you can bet that we'll bring Superman along. We won't even need to come, because he'll bust you up so fast, there'll be nothing left to report."
The man hesitated. But then he seemed to come to a decision that *he* was going to be in control of the conversation. "One more word out of you and I might changed my mind about not killing you."
Lois knew that she was in a very dangerous situation. And when a gun is pointed at one's head, one would usually not argue with the person holding it. But Lois Lane will be Lois Lane, and she yelled, "Help, Superman!" as loud as the expanse of her lungs would allow. The man pulled the gun away from her head and pushed the red button back in, his previously confident face now contorted with panic. He got off at the very next floor the elevator reached.
As he stepped off, he turned back to Lois. "You'll pay for that. I'd kill you now, but Mr. Man in Tights is going to be here any second. Remember what I said — if you come tonight, you're one dead broad."
Lois was left alone in the elevator… for about five seconds. Superman pried the doors open.
Clark, arriving late after hearing Lois' calls, was afraid he had been *too* late when he couldn't detect her familiar heartbeat and breathing pattern at first. Fortunately, his superhearing had kicked in to allow him to hear her rapid breathing in the elevator somewhere around the 11th floor. Breathing his own sigh of relief, he sped up the stairs, passing an apprehensive young man on the way, and pried the elevator doors open when he was certain he was on the right floor.
Superman, composing himself to hide his Clark-like concern, asked if Lois was all right and if she knew where her attacker had gone. Breathing heavily, Lois told him that she was fine and then pointed into the room where the man had escaped. But even after searching the whole floor thoroughly, all Clark found was a slip of paper that read "1130 Broadview Dr."
When he returned to the still-busy newsroom, Lois was pacing nervously by her desk.
"Did you find him?"
The few people left in the newsroom had been a little surprised to see Superman walk into the room, but not particularly surprised to see Lois demanding answers from him. She did it to her partner, so why not do it to the most popular, most caring, most handsome guy around?
"No. He got away."
"Ooooo… when I get my hands on him, I'll expose him, flay him, rip his ears off, and then bury him alive!"
"Lois, maybe you should calm down just a little bit…"
"No, I will not calm down! That man attacked me, and nearly broke my arm off!"
"But you're still alive."
Lois stopped pacing. "True."
"I don't think going on that stakeout tonight is such a good idea after all."
Lois looked up at him from her desk. "How did you know about it?"
Inwardly, Clark panicked. Outwardly there was no noticeable change in expression except for a slightly surprised look.
"Uh… Clark told me about it."
Point for Kent…
Lois rummaged around in her drawer as she continued. "Anyway, I'm not going to let one psycho ruin my evening. Two or three, I'd consider not going. But one? Nope. I'm still going on that stakeout!"
Clark sighed. Hadn't he already seen this today? This determination? Better just compromise with her.
Lois looked up in surprised. She had expected some sort of protest from the man standing above her…
"But I'm tagging along. I'll be watching you and Clark closely… and don't even try and argue with *that,* or I'll tell Perry to not even let you go at all."
Lois snorted. "Even if you did, Perry couldn't stop me from going."
"Yeah… but *I* can."
Lois rummaged around in her desk some more, pretending to not hear him. When she looked up again, he was gone.
"Clark! You ready to go!?"
Lois tried the door to her partner's apartment and found it unlocked. She barged in, still yelling Clark's name.
"All right, all right! I'm coming!" Clark dashed into the kitchen wearing black jeans and a black T-shirt that had the Daily Planet logo on it in silver.
"Clark! Do you realize what time it is? We needed to leave 20 minutes ago! I'll admit I was late, but *you!* You have no excuse whatsoever!"
Clark *did* know what time it was. He had checked the time every 30 seconds for the past hour. However, he had gotten back to his apartment about five seconds ago from a warehouse explosion in Turkey, and he had barely set foot through the window when he heard Lois' banging on his door. After spinning into his "staking out" clothes, he had rushed into the kitchen to grab his video camera, only to find Lois with a disapproving look on her face. Boy, was he in the doghouse now.
"Jeez, Lois, give me a break. I was… uh… returning a library book."
"The library's closed, Clark."
"I put it in the drop-off box. Now can we go?"
Lois shook her head in exasperation. Here they were, on the verge of getting the biggest story of the century, and Clark was returning library books.
"Yeah, if you promise not to run off to return more library books."
Clark smiled and crossed his heart with his forefinger. "Cross my heart and hope to die."
Lois simply turned around and walked out of the apartment. After a moment of private thought, Clark followed.
It was extremely dark. Few homes were still lit, and Lois knew exactly where she was going… the cul-de-sac with no houses in it, and with rampaging weeds as an added bonus. Clark protested without much enthusiasm, knowing that he was only wasting his breath.
Time to start thinking. What to do if they got caught? What to do if Lois decided to be more adventurous tonight than he had first anticipated? What to do if they actually *found* these guys and filmed everything? Keep it? Turn in over to the cops? Oy… how many more decisions was he going to have to make today?
He looked at Lois. Her brow was furrowed, trying to think of a plan while driving 65 miles an hour in a 20 mph zone.
"Lois? Do you think you could slow down just a *little* bit? The road's kinda slippery, you know… watch that ice! And they're going to hear us coming if you keep screeching the tires like that!" Watching her plunge ahead, he tried telling himself that she wouldn't have gotten her license if she didn't know how to drive a car.
Finally, she pulled over to the side of the road, exasperated. "Where the heck are they, Clark? We drive all the way out here, and what do we find? A Pulitzer-winning story? A scoop that will leave Perry speechless? Nope. Nothing. That's what we find. Nothing!"
Clark sighed. He lowered his glasses and peered through the snow-covered foliage on the right side of the car. He spotted a group of about six or seven men huddled around the back of a car, nervously looking around every few seconds. He estimated they were about a quarter of a mile away.
"How about we try this road, Lois? I don't think we've been down that way yet." Clark pointed to the street on their right that had been partially hidden by a large weeping willow.
"C'mon, Clark. Let's just face it. There are no sane people outside of their houses at 2 AM. We'll just have to find a different lead."
"Lo-is! This is best lead we've had all year on *any* of our stories! This is our chance!"
"Clark, I'm tired. And I know you are, too. So let's just go home."
Clark let his mouth drop open and gasped comically. "I've never heard Lois Lane talk like this before! The Lois Lane *I* know never gives up! Sometimes I even have to drag her away from the action! C'mon, just one more drive around the neighborhood… if we don't find anything, we can go home. Okay?"
How could she resist him when he was making that face? "All right… but *just* one more time."
When they got close to the spot where Clark had seen the dealers, he told Lois to stop.
"I saw something over there." Clark pointed into the trees, where a small glimmer of light came through, reflecting off of the brilliant white snow.
Lois was jubilant. "Yes! *Now* we're on to something…" She scrambled out of the car, but careful to not make any noise. "Leave the flashlight, bring the camera. We'll get that Pulitzer yet!"
Clark retrieved the video camera, checking the batteries to make sure that they were charged. When he looked up again, his partner had already disappeared. He sighed for the bajillionth time that evening. Time to get moving.
When he caught up with Lois, she was bouncing up and down from the excitement and anticipation. "C'mon, Clark, get that camera turned on! This is it, I can feel it! This is the big one!"
Clark turned on the camera and hid behind a thick tapestry of leaves. Using the zoom, he saw that the young men were pulling out… guns?
This was no ordinary drug deal. He had to stop it. Now.
"Lois?" he whispered. "I… um… *really* have to use the bathroom… can you hold onto this while I go find a tree?"
"What? You're going to miss it! The biggest story of the year!"
"Well… when you gotta go, you gotta go. I'll be right back."
Lois sighed deeply and muttered, "Men… You be back in three minutes, or you can forget about seeing your name on the byline!"
Clark zipped off under the cover of darkness. Coming back around in a circle, he landed right beside the car and disarmed the men in two seconds flat.
"Planning on some midnight raid, gentlemen?"
One of the men, dressed in army fatigues and a black beret, gasped in surprise. "Superman!"
"In the flesh."
"Man, I didn't think they'd find out about this! And certainly not send the Man of Steel himself after us when they *did!*"
"Well, surprise, surprise. Perhaps you'll have time to recover from the shock in jail." Clark made as if to grab him by the arm, but then stopped. The guns that he had thrown in the dirt weren't like any type of gun *he* had ever seen. He knelt down to get a better look, keeping a wary eye on the men in front of him. They were… paint guns! Surely they weren't planning on killing people with *paint* guns!
"What's this?" Clark proffered the gun to the man he had been talking to.
"It's a paint gun, man. We were out here to play some paintball, but — "
"At 2:30 AM? In the freezing cold? Are you guys nuts?"
"Well, when else do you propose we play?"
Clark gave him an incredulous look. "How about during the daytime? During the *summer*?"
"Nah, man. We're tryin' to get past Neighborhood Watch. They don't allow paint guns in this neighborhood, but we still wanna play, so we play at night."
Some of the rest in the group were catching on and starting to relax. They weren't going to be hauled off to jail for avoiding Neighborhood Watch and shooting paint guns.
"Well… I'm sorry. I thought you were drug dealers." Clark, although relieved, was thoroughly embarrassed. How could he have been so blind?
"Dude! You mean we're not goin' to jail?" The young man took off his beret and ran a hand through his thick, brown hair and smiled at Clark.
"No… however, I suggest that you start playing paintball somewhere *else* from now on." Clark put on his sternest face and folded his arms.
"Sure, Superman! Don't worry… after you scared us tonight, we'll sure find somewhere else to play!"
Clark nodded and zipped off again. Lois was probably screaming and jumping up and down… but not from excitement this time.
"Clark! You will *not* believe this… those guys we saw, remember them?"
Clark held back a smile. Lois was panting and stuttering… and obviously steaming mad.
"Well, they weren't part of a drug deal after all! They were going to play *paintball!**Paintball!* And Superman showed up, and… and they all started talking, and… and… ooooo!" Lois scrunched up her face and bent in half, hiding her face with her hands.
She was really angry, Clark could tell. Almost to the point of it not being funny. He put a hand on her arm and slowly slid it around until it rested on both of her small shoulders. Lifting her up gently, he steered her toward the Jeep and helped her get in. He got in the driver's seat before she could argue and started the engine.
On their way out of the neighborhood, Lois twisted around in her seat to look back one last time. In doing so, she got a glimpse of the… sign that… had the name of the… neighborhood on it.
Clark started, nearly running into a ditch. "What!? What is it? Are you okay?"
Lois buried her face in her hands. "We just came out of *Silver Springs!* We were in the wrong neighborhood! We were supposed to go to *Golden* Springs!"
Clark could barely make out what she was saying through her hands. But when he finally caught on, he, too, twisted around to look at the sign. There it was, plain as the light of day. Silver Springs.
Turning back to Lois, he put a calming hand on her shoulder. "Lois, it's all right… we'll find a different lead. It's okay."
Lois straightened up, breathed deeply, and nodded her head in agreement. "All right… let's just go home. I'm sure something else will turn up."
Clark was seeing a completely different Lois here. He had been expecting a violent outburst… they *had* made a huge mistake, after all. Not only did she have to be frustrated, she had to be *tired*, too. But this was different. No violent outburst. Mentally shrugging, he pulled off the shoulder of the road and headed back to downtown Metropolis. Despite the surprise they both had had, Clark was extremely relieved that no laws had been broken that night in that particular neighborhood. Somewhere on the other side of town, a drug deal had occurred, and it had not been stopped. Clark, of course, was angry at himself for not catching the name of the neighborhood as they had gone in. Perhaps next time. They *would* find a way to bring the deals down.
About halfway back into town, the car stopped abruptly. Lois, who had fallen asleep, woke up and inquired what was happening.
"Your car's out of gas."
"You're kidding… I was sure I filled it up before we left."
"Obviously not." Clark pointed at the meter. "Empty. Looks like I'll have to start walking."
"What? At the three o'clock in the morning? We're 20 miles out! It'll take you forever!"
"Well, what do *you* suggest? Sleep in the car for the rest of the night?"
Lois pondered that thought for a second. "Well… why not? It'd only be a few hours. Then it'd be light outside and we could call a garage."
Clark considered their options. "I don't know what to say… I guess you're right. There's no sense in trying to go anywhere at 3 AM." Inwardly, Clark groaned. He could go get gas and be back in five seconds. But *now* he had to spend the night in a cramped car. 'Well,' he thought. 'It's not *that* bad. I have good company.' He smiled at Lois. "Do you want the back? Or do you want to lean back one of the front seats?"
"Um… I don't care. I'll just take the back, since *you* certainly can't fit back there." Lois let a grin filter through her lips.
They sat in awkward silence for a few moments. Finally, Clark got out of the car and went around to the other side. Opening the passenger door, he held out a hand for Lois.
"What are you doing?"
"I'm sleeping in the passenger seat, which means *you* have to get out."
Lois huffed and unbuckled her seatbelt, ignoring Clark's hand. She jumped out, but landed on her right foot wrong and let out a yelp of pain. Just as she was about to bite the pavement, Clark grabbed her with both arms and pulled her upright. She turned her head to face him and found herself inches from touching his nose with hers.
Clark's brain turned off and didn't seem to want to turn back on. He had the woman of his dreams in his arms and all he could do was stare. He knew that Lois was feeling it, too. He could see it in her eyes, in her face. Just the way she looked at him told him more than he had ever known before. There *was* something there.
"Clark?" Lois leaned an inch further and searched her partner's eyes. Was that… love she saw in his eyes? A little desire, perhaps? Well… this was interesting. But she couldn't. Not yet. It was too… weird. Too uncomfortable. Or was she just denying her true feelings?
"Will you please let go of me?"
Clark complied, if somewhat reluctantly. Next time. 'Yeah, next time we're out on a stakeout and Lois falls out of the car and I just *happen* to catch her… ' Clark shook his head. 'Get real.'
Lois opened the back door and crawled in. Clark closed the door, wondering if she was just afraid. Or uncomfortable. Something like that. Who knew what was going on in a woman's head? She was probably thinking about chocolate ice cream. Or hot air balloons.
Climbing back into the car, Clark leaned back the passenger seat, but it stuck halfway down.
"Lois? There's something wrong with this seat." He heard her sit up in the back, and then caught a glimpse of her shoulder as she tried the lever herself.
"Well, I don't what's wrong with — " Suddenly, she gasped. "Oh, yeah, that's right! I forgot that this seat is broken… I'm sorry, Clark. I guess you'll have to sleep in the driver's seat."
"No, it's all right… this is fine." He heard more shuffling around as Lois laid back down.
Soon, light snores emanated from the back-seat. Clark took a few deep breaths and tried to relax his arms and legs. But his seat just wasn't far back enough! Grasping the lever, he yanked on it lightly a few times, not wanting to break it off. But it wouldn't budge. Adding a little superstrength, he pulled on it… and found himself in the back-seat on top of his partner.
Lois woke up screaming… and then found out that her partner was lying on top of her. "Clark! What the hell are you doing?"
"I'm sorry, Lois… the seat went down a little too fast and flipped me over… just let me get my foot untangled from the seatbelt and I'll move." Clark feebly attempted to grab the seatbelt that had magically wrapped itself around his foot. But then he felt hands on his head and turned around to look up into Lois' face. She was smiling. "Okay, so it's funny, but -"
"Clark… shut up."
Clark closed his mouth. And suddenly, Lois was pulling his face up to hers and their lips touched in a kiss that would spin Clark's head for quite some time.
Lois closed her eyes and let her other four senses take over. A bright, irritating light shone her eyes briefly, but she paid it no heed. But then it was back again. And the wheels in her mind started turning again. Opening her eyes, she immediately closed them again as a startlingly bright glare met them. She shoved at Clark, who sat up and promptly hit his head on the roof of the car.
"What is that?"
"Looks like headlights. Can you see any people?"
"What are they doing?"
"They're talking — "
"Oh, about seven or eight — "
"Who are they?"
"I don't know… why don't you go out there and ask them?" Clark smiled sweetly down at Lois.
"Quite being sarcastic, farmboy. You can do that when we know who they are and if they're going to do anything that's worth watching."
Lois and Clark watched as the argument became heated and two men began to leave. And before Clark could even realize what was happening, one of the other men pulled a gun out of the trunk and shot both of them.
"No!" Clark pushed the door open and stumbled out, yelling as he went, drowning out Lois' own yells of protest.
"Hey, look, boys! We got ourselves a pretty boy, here…" The biggest man in the group, a barrel-chested man with long red hair and a beard walked up to Clark. "Did you see what we just did?"
Clark opened his mouth, but before he could speak, the man started talking again.
"Yeah, I guess you did. Well, I guess we'll just have to kill you like those guys over there!" He gestured to the fallen bodies in the street.
Just then, Lois caught up with Clark. And abruptly stopped when she saw the huge man pointing a gun at Clark.
"Hey, boys, it's Pretty Boy's girlfriend!" The man winked at Clark. "Well, you've got good taste, I'll say that for ya." He appreciatively looked Lois up and down. Then he seemed to shrug and pointed the gun at Lois instead. "Anyways, looks like I'm gonna have to kill both of you now…" He leveled the gun with Lois' head while the other men snickered.
"Wait!" Clark yelled, but it was too late. The man was pulling the trigger.
Well, it was already turning out to be an interesting night. What the heck.
Clark blocked the bullet with his hand and put on a burst of superspeed to tie up the men with some handy rope in the back of Lois' Jeep. When he was finished five seconds later, Lois was standing in shock. The men Clark had captured, meanwhile, were yelling from their position on the ground, demanding to be released.
"Lois? Are you okay?"
"I said, are you okay?"
Lois looked at the ground and slowly looked up to meet Clark's eyes.
"Uh… yeah, I guess so."
"Do you even realize what just happened?"
"Uh… yeah. You put your *hand* out to stop that bullet and you tied up those guys over there." Lois pointed to the men, who were still screaming to be untied.
"And you know what? Those 'guys over there' are our drug dealers." Clark smiled as he stepped aside, which allowed Lois to look inside one of the cars the men had been in.
There were plastic bags of all sorts of stuff. Lois couldn't recognize most of them, having only limited knowledge about drugs. But the ones she *did* recognize were highly illegal, she knew that much. She glanced at Clark questioningly. He seemed to know what she was asking.
"Marijuana, cocaine, heroin, LSD's, PCP's, and any type of uppers or downers you can think of. All illegal."
"Wow… what an exciting night."
"Yeah." Clark smiled again. Did this mean she wasn't mad?
"Are you mad?" he asked slowly.
Lois smiled. "Clark, we just got our biggest break of the year. I'm far from mad right now. You'll just have to wait and see how mad I am later."
Clark's eyes widened, knowing how mad Lois could get. But at least it was out now. No more secrets. At least in his neck of the woods…
Lois and Clark stood in Perry White's office as he looked at the story the two had written for the morning edition, both thoroughly exhausted and exhilarated. Lois acknowledged happily that their boss was, indeed, speechless.
Mouth gaping, Perry ushered the two out of his office and barked for the copy boy.
Lois perched on Clark's desk and smiled. "We did a good job, partner."
"Yeah, we did." Clark leaned back and folded his arms. "Think a Pulitzer's headed our way?"
"You can bet money on it."
Clark grinned. "Well, I know that Perry didn't say anything specific, but I think he indicated somewhere in there that we should take the day off. Why don't you go on home? I know you're tired."
Lois yawned in response. "Yeah, I guess. But what about you?"
"Unfortunately, I have another story I need to finish. Want to get together later today after we've both rested?"
"All right. I think that would probably be a good idea."
Lois left in the elevator and Clark settled down at his computer to finish the article on the dog shows he had promised Perry he would do as a favor.
But then, as he added the final touch, Lois' lilting voice was heard through one of the open windows.
"Clark Kent! You forgot my Jeep!"
Clark jumped in his chair and looked at Perry, who was still staring with glazed eyes at the wall. Time for a trip to the men's restroom…