By Nicole Wolke <Ckgroupie@gmx.net>
Submitted August 2000
Summary: What if Clark had arrived in Metropolis a few months later than he did in the show? And what if he already had a good name as a reporter then? In this Elseworld story, Lois and Clark meet on a more even level and just two weeks before Lois' wedding to the richest man in town, Lex Luthor. A Charity Fanzine story.
A Charity Fanzine story, first released summer 1999
This story is an Elseworld-story and it was written for the Fanzine-Project. I wrote it in just two days (an almost scary experience, I tell ya <g>) and it all started with a scene from "The house of Luthor." I always wondered about Lois' thoughts when she stood in front of the mirror, wearing a bridal gown and crying in her handkerchief. What was going on in her head? Why was she crying and what was she thinking when she tried out the sound of her name, combined with "Luthor" and "Kent"?
I developed the story from there and as you'll see, I did it all backwards <g>.
I want to thank Eileen for organizing the wonderful Fanzine-Project, all other authors of the Fanzine for their amazing and breathtaking stories and most of all, I want to thank Georgia, who edited this story for me.
The young man stepped out of the bus and put down his old suitcase. Despite his unfashionable clothes and rough haircut, he was quite good-looking — tall, with black hair and broad shoulders. He earned a few appreciative glances from the young woman who had followed him out of the bus, but he seemed not to notice.
He looked around at the busy street and the big skyscrapers. 'This is it,' Clark thought. 'This is the place you've been searching for.'
He smiled, picked up his suitcase, and walked to the subway.
Lois Lane had a headache. She wasn't particularly feeling ill, but the nagging pain in her head made her squirm every time she made the slightest movement. What was wrong with her?
She had been having this pain for two days now. Since she'd had that fight with Lex. Well, it wasn't a *real* fight. You couldn't have real fights with Lex. He just refused to come down to that level. 'Superiority,' she thought with a frown. She had been looking for superiority in a man, hadn't she?
And Lex Luthor was a synonym for it. Superiority of mind, of taste, of style, of power.
So why was she feeling so bad? She decided to take another pain-killer and go back to work. She felt safe working. She was brilliant, she was successful, and she was the best reporter in town.
"Well, Mr. Kent. Your resume is quite impressive. During six months you've written a lot of great stories." Perry White, the chief editor of America's biggest newspaper, looked up from the papers on his desk and into the eyes of the young man in front of him. "The story of the space station Prometheus, for example — very good work. This mysterious rescue was one of the strangest things I've ever heard and you did a great job with your article for the London Chronicle. So I think you won't be too surprised if I tell you that we are indeed very interested in having you work for the Daily Planet."
Clark smiled. "I'm very happy to hear that, Mr. White. The Daily Planet is the newspaper I've always wanted to work for. You have so many great reporters here and such a tradition of brilliant writers. It really would be an honor to write for the Planet."
Perry smiled, too. He stood up and stretched out his hand. "Clark Kent, welcome to the Daily Planet."
At that moment the door to his office opened and a young woman stormed in. "Perry! What does this mean?!" she exclaimed and waved a paper in front of his face. "I'm not going to write this story with Ralph! Even my sister Lucy would be more help than this moron!"
"But Lucy is a *woman*, Lois, and you need a *husband* as a cover for this assignment, remember? I know Ralph isn't the smartest guy in town, but I have no other man here who could pass as your husband. The only other available male is Jimmy and he's much too young!"
Perry White sighed and returned Lois' annoyed stare with a firm glance of his own, but she just stared back at him unblinkingly.
Clark suppressed a chuckle when he saw the chief editor's expression soften. "Please be reasonable, Lois. Just *once*."
She didn't answer and he sighed again. Then he remembered Clark still standing in the middle of the room and enthusiastically took this last chance for distraction.
"Ah… Lois. Can't you see I'm in the middle of something here?" He nodded towards Clark and made the introductions. "Lois Lane. Clark Kent." Clark stretched out his hand to greet her, but she ignored the gesture, so he smiled politely and adjusted his glasses instead.
"Nice to meet you," Lois said in a flat voice. She wasn't going to be distracted that easily. "Anyway, Perry, I'm definitely not going to do this undercover thing with Ralph. You must find another man for me! What about Paul?"
"He's on the Beirut story, Lois."
"So then give me Johnson."
"Family problems. I had to give him some time off."
"Perry, Ralph is *not* going to work."
Perry sighed again. Then suddenly he seemed to have an idea. He grinned triumphantly and turned to Clark.
"Well, yes, of course I have another man for you! Mr. Kent here! He's our new reporter and working on an assignment with you would probably be the best introduction to Metropolis he could get!"
"Eh…?" Lois said, startled, and this time, Clark's chuckle slipped out.
He tried to cover it with a cough, but she eyed him suspiciously and then turned back to Perry.
"Well, I don't want to be rude, but…"
"It's Clark or Ralph, Lois," Perry White said firmly and this time there was no doubt that this was his final word on the subject.
"Fine," she snapped. "Don't ever say I'm not a team player." She shot Perry a last glance, turned on her heel and said over her shoulder, "Come on, let's get to work."
Clark grinned and at Perry's nod and shrug of his shoulders, he followed his new colleague into the newsroom.
"The honeymoon suite is right in the front part of the hotel and faces the building where the meetings with the senator will take place. We'll have to check in as newlyweds and hopefully we'll be able to find out what's behind all this."
Lois was filling Clark in on the story they were to work on while they drove to her apartment.
"Okay." Clark nodded. "Where did you get the information that they're meeting in that building, anyway?"
Lois grinned. "Simply by accident. I'm engaged to Lex Luthor, who's the owner of the Lexor Hotel and when he left for a convention last week, I decided to have a weekend of "total relaxation." That's why I was at the hotel. And there I stumbled on these meetings. I recognized Senator Ian Harrington and thought that was suspicious. I even managed to take a few pictures and we were able to identify another man, Thaddeus Rourke. We decided that I should go undercover. Luckily I didn't stay there under my real name. I didn't want to create a big uproar; I just wanted to have a nice quiet weekend. But I can't stay alone in the honeymoon suite for days. I need a cover. And that's why you're here now."
"I see," Clark said.
The rest of the trip was spent without talking. Lois was busy driving and Clark tried to think about the last two hours.
Everything had happened so fast. He'd got the job at the Planet, a job he always had dreamed of and he'd even got his first assignment with the most famous reporter in Metropolis. Everybody in this business had heard of Lois Lane and when her name was mentioned it was with respect and awe. She always had the most interesting stories and her writing style was the best Clark had seen.
He tentatively looked at the woman next to him. She was totally different from what he had expected. He had imagined her to be older, a career-driven, determined woman, not this fragile and beautiful creature that sat in the seat next to him.
Yeah…beautiful, that was the right word to describe her. Actually Clark was sure he never had seen a woman this beautiful before. Those sparkling eyes, big and brown with long black lashes, the sensitive mouth, the wonderful smooth looking skin and the black shiny hair. From the first moment he had seen her storming into Perry White's office she had taken his breath away.
'Easy, Kent,' he told himself. 'She's not only beautiful, she seems to be a little pigheaded and domineering, too. *And* she's engaged.'
He was glad when they reached the street where she lived.
Lois parked the car. "It won't take long," she said. "I just have to pack a few things and then we can head for your hotel and get your clothes, too."
Suddenly she searched through her bag and took something out of it. "Here, put this on," she told Clark and gave him a wedding band. "I bought them this morning on my way to the Planet."
He nodded and slipped the little golden ring on his finger. She did the same.
"There… now I can test how that feels… you know, for my own wedding…" She laughed slightly, but Clark thought he heard a note of uncertainty in her voice.
He followed her inside the apartment and sat down on the sofa while Lois disappeared into her bedroom.
It was a nice apartment. He liked her style of arranging things and her taste in pictures and furniture.
On a little table next to the sofa he found a picture of Lois with a handsome man. He didn't need to ask Lois who that was. It was Lex Luthor, the richest man in town and one of the most powerful men in the world. And Lois was engaged to him. He obviously was a lot older than she was. Clark didn't like the possessive way he had put his arm around her and the smile that didn't really reach his eyes. He had the air of a very self-confident, very arrogant man. Well, maybe he had a right to be…
He vaguely remembered reading about the engagement in the society column of the Planet a few months ago, but he wasn't very interested in gossip, so he hadn't paid much attention to it then. Now was a different matter. He had to admit that the woman in the picture attracted him more than any woman he had ever met.
He couldn't say why, but he felt so drawn to her, so connected with her, that it took an almost unbearable effort to force himself to think of anything else for even a moment since they had met two hours ago. What was happening with him? He didn't even know her. He hadn't spoken more than a few words to her but the thought of her marrying this guy in the photo made him feel sick!
Sighing, he put the picture back on the table and waited for Lois to come out of her bedroom. She did a few minutes later and found him sitting patiently on the sofa.
"I'm ready," she said. "We can drive to your hotel now."
"So when's the date for the wedding?" Clark asked casually, as they drove through town.
"It's in two weeks," Lois answered.
Was it just his imagination or did he hear that touch of uncertainty in her voice again? Clark wasn't sure, but he thought that Lois didn't sound particularly happy when she mentioned the date of the wedding.
She also didn't dwell on the topic, didn't tell him about the preparations or the wedding guests or whatever women usually did when getting ready for a wedding. That could mean that there was something amiss, and Clark felt a small jolt at the thought. It could also mean that she just wasn't like "usual women." He sighed again.
*** "You're kidding, right?!"
Lois shook her head and chuckled at Clark's amazed expression.
"No," she answered. "Jimmy showed me how to jump-start a car and the rest was easy. It was no big deal, really."
"No big deal!!" he exclaimed. "It was *brilliant*!"
Lois laughed again. "Well, thank you. Perry found different words to describe it though. If I remember right, it was 'irresponsible' and 'incredibly dangerous.'"
"He was absolutely right. It definitely was," Clark admitted. "But it also was one of the best investigative moves I've ever heard of." He smiled.
"You're just as good as your reputation."
Lois smiled happily. They had installed their observational equipment and were now sitting on the sofa in the living room of the honeymoon suite, killing time talking about their work.
Clark had told her a bit about his travels and she had told him about her latest stories.
She was feeling great, her headache gone and she had to admit that she simply enjoyed Clark's company. This new guy was a strange one but there definitely was something about him that she found hard to resist.
He was intelligent and had a great sense of humor, but the most amazing aspect of him was that he seemed to be totally nice and open without appearing weak. In her experience men were either one or the other.
Lex for example had the strongest personality she knew and that was what had attracted her. He was so strong and so brilliant, he allowed no weakness, but sometimes she wondered if she could live with this constant feeling of imperfection she felt around him. And then she found herself wishing he would be a little bit more like Jimmy, her friend at the Daily Planet.
Of course she would never have fallen in love with someone like Jimmy. Jimmy was funny and nice and great to be around, but he was way too weak for her. She only needed to raise her eyebrow to bring poor Jimmy to total confusion.
But this Clark Kent was totally different from any other man she had met. She was pretty sure that he found her attractive, not only as a reporter, but as a woman. He openly showed his admiration, but at the same time he seemed to be so confident and at ease with himself that she couldn't help but respect him.
She looked at him curiously. "So what brought you to Metropolis, Clark? Didn't you like the traveling anymore?"
Clark sighed a little. "I just thought that it was time for something new, if you know what I mean. Time to settle down, to find a place where I really belong…" he trailed off and stared at his feet for a moment, an unreadable expression on his face.
"What about your family?" Lois asked. "Do your parents live in Metropolis, too?"
"Oh no," Clark answered and smiled. "They live in Smallville, Kansas. My Dad is a farmer. My parents are wonderful, but I could never live in Smallville again. I want to find a home of my own and maybe Metropolis is the right place."
Lois nodded. "Metropolis is the right place for everyone," she said with feeling and conviction. "There's no better city than Metropolis. You'll see."
She stifled a yawn. "Boy, if those guys don't show up any time soon, I'm going to fall asleep…"
Clark chuckled. "Thank you, Lois. So much for my *interesting* conversation."
Lois blushed. "Sorry, Clark," she stammered, a little embarrassed. "Of course I didn't mean that the way it came out… I just…" She stopped when she noticed the broad grin on his face, and grinned back.
"Don't tease me, farmboy."
Clark laughed and raised an eyebrow. "Uh huh, and why shouldn't I, *city girl*?"
"'Cause I'm way out of your league," Lois replied sweetly and winked at him.
For a second they just stared at each other smiling. Then suddenly Clark broke the silence and almost reluctantly said, "Well, I guess if you're tired you should turn in. We don't know when our friends will show up, but I promise to wake you up as soon as I hear or see something."
Lois nodded and rose from the sofa to go into the bedroom but then she hesitated. Normally she wouldn't have given this a second thought, but it was hard to remain her usual demanding self when the other person was as nice as Clark.
"So what about the sleeping arrangements?" she asked.
Clark seemed surprised. "What do you mean?" he asked, a little confused.
"Well, I mean, where do we sleep…" Lois stopped when she heard what she had said and tried again. "I mean where do you and I…"
'Oh God, Lois!' she thought, totally embarrassed. 'This is getting worse by the second!' Hastily she rushed on, trying to make herself clear. "You know, who's sleeping in which room?"
"Oh!" Clark said, and mercifully pretended not to notice her flushed cheeks. He grinned. "How about we flip for the bed?" he asked, his eyes sparkling.
This brought Lois' usual fighting spirit back. "How about *I* get the bed and I lend you a pillow?" she asked provocatively.
Clark shook his head. "How about we alternate nights?"
"How about we don't?" Lois smiled sweetly.
Clark grinned. "Well, it's a *big* bed. How about we share?"
Lois chuckled and grinned ruefully. "How about we alternate nights?"
Clark winked at her. "Deal." Then his eyes softened and he said in a deeper voice: "Have a good night's sleep, Lois."
Lois smiled, suddenly shy, and nodded. "Thank you, Clark. And good night to you, too."
She turned on her heel and disappeared into the bedroom. Clark heard her walking around for a while, then it became quiet and the small gleam of light under the door turned dark. Clark still sat on the sofa, staring at the door she had disappeared behind.
He sat there for a long time without moving. Every teasing gleam had vanished from his eyes and instead there was a softer expression now that was hard to describe but unmistakable to read.
Finally he lay down on the sofa and stared at the ceiling. 'Oh Lois,' he thought. 'Why couldn't I have met you earlier?'
Lois awoke in the middle of the night. At first she didn't know where she was, but then she remembered that she was in the honeymoon suite of the Lexor Hotel, that she was on an assignment, that it was three a.m., and that she hadn't heard anything from Clark yet.
'The greenhorn probably fell asleep!' she thought, slightly annoyed. Hopefully at least the tape recorder had done its job. She couldn't stand the thought that perhaps they had missed the meeting!
She rose and put on her bathrobe. Then she tapped through the bedroom and opened the door to the living room. The room was silent and she could hear Clark's even breathing from the corner where the sofa was. The continuous blinking of the red control light of the tape recorder showed her that the machinery was still working.
Lois took a few steps towards the window and glanced outside. The building on the other side of the street was dark and empty. No sign of a suspicious meeting anywhere.
She sighed and stifled another yawn. Maybe the greenhorn wasn't so green after all and there just hadn't been a meeting tonight. She decided to catch a few more hours of sleep and turned around to go back to bed when suddenly she found herself wide awake.
Clark lay on his stomach, his shoulders and most of his back uncovered by the blanket. His head was snuggled on the pillow that he held securely in his arms.
Lois' eyes were adjusting to the darkness and she could see hard muscles under smooth skin, but that was not what made her stop in her tracks, unable to move, to breathe or to think anymore.
Clark, though obviously sound asleep, wasn't lying on the sofa. He was floating in the air!
'I'm dreaming this' Lois told herself and rubbed her eyes to wake up, but the amazing view in front of her remained unchanged.
She shook her head and tried to find a reasonable explanation. She didn't succeed.
This guy was definitely floating! How could there be a reasonable explanation for a man floating?!
On the other hand, how could there be *no* reasonable explanation?!
For a moment she just stood there staring, but then she felt her knees buckle and she had to sit down in a nearby chair.
"Oh my god," she moaned.
She closed her eyes and concentrated on breathing deeply. She *never* fainted. She just had to be calm and breathe. Everything was fine.
No, everything was not fine.
She tried to open her eyes, but closed them again when she found the room swirling around her, making her lean back into the chair cushions.
Suddenly there was a cool hand on her face and a deep and calming voice penetrated the roaring in her ears.
"It's okay, Lois. Just be calm, don't panic."
Another hand took her own, steadying her, and she thankfully clung to it. After a while she tried to open her eyes again. The swirling was gone and she looked directly in the eyes of Clark.
Clark! *He* was the cause of all this!
She drew her hand away and raised on her elbows.
"I saw you floating in the air." She said it like a statement. No question. No doubt. She knew what she had seen.
Clark's eyes widened and for a second she thought *he* was going to faint. Pure panic was written all over his face. But then he sighed and shrugged his shoulders helplessly.
"I guess this had to happen one day," he said. He sounded bitter.
He raised his eyes and met her gaze steadily. "I guess I owe you an explanation now, don't I?"
Lois nodded. "I guess so," she said. "And it better be good."
"So what you're telling me is that you don't know who you or your parents are? And you have no idea why you have these incredible powers?"
Lois had listened quietly all the while Clark had told her about his childhood.
He told her how Martha and Jonathan Kent had found him in May 1966 in a little spaceship, how they had raised him as their own child. As he grew up they realized that their son was different from all the other children. He never got hurt or sick, he was much faster and stronger than a normal child, and he developed very special visual abilities. He could build a fire with his heat-vision, for example, and he could look through walls. His hearing also seemed to be much better than everybody else's and then, when he was seventeen, he found out that he could fly!
His parents were afraid that someone would find out about these unusual powers, drag him into a lab and, as his father put it, "dissect him like a frog." Clark wasn't happy with his differences, either. All he wanted was to "fit in," to have friends, to find a job and maybe have a family of his own someday. So together they decided to never tell anybody about his powers and Clark had hidden them for years now.
He traveled the world and never remained at the same place too long, because someone would eventually get suspicious and he would have to leave again. He had hoped that Metropolis would be different, but now that Lois had found out his secret it was even worse than before.
Clark nodded at Lois' question. "I really don't know, Lois. I could be a scientific experiment as well as an alien. Maybe I'll never know."
Lois' gaze traveled from Clark's face down to his still bare chest. He looked human. There was nothing strange about his appearance. Actually, the chest with the smooth skin and the amazing definition of muscles was quite impressive, but not in any way different from other well-built male chests.
She couldn't resist letting her eyes travel down a little further. 'Yep,' she thought, hoping that he hadn't noticed her gaze. 'He seems to have all the parts of a man.'
Involuntarily she reached out and touched his chest with her fingertips. Clark jerked as if she had slapped him.
"Don't do that, Lois," he whispered hoarsely. "Don't treat me like a freak!"
Lois was stunned by the storm of emotions she could see in Clark's face. And she was embarrassed.
She met Clark's eyes with a firm and steady look and laid her hand on his.
"I don't think of you as some kind of freak, Clark. No matter who you are or where you come from. Please, believe me when I say this. I was just thinking that you looked perfectly human. You look like a man to me."
"I *am* a man, Lois. Just as you're a woman."
Clark sighed. "You know, all my life I wanted to be 'normal.'" I asked myself a hundred times a day why I had these powers and why I couldn't be like everyone else. I even tried to forget about them for a while, tried to *be* normal, but then I found myself floating on the ceiling when I woke up in the morning or I heard cries for help and knew I could do something if I used my powers. So I learned to accept them as a gift and as a challenge.
I'm still afraid of telling the world about them. Not because of the "lab thing," like my father, but because I'm afraid that people will see me as some kind of a monster, a freak, a *thing* and not a human being anymore. I don't want to see disgust and curiosity in their faces if they see me. It's *me*: Clark! I'm a person. I have feelings like everybody else!"
Lois felt her heart wrench when she heard the desperation in his voice, the suppressed emotions that told her even more than his words. She tried to imagine his life. Having to hide so many things for years, not being able to get close to anybody, not being able to confide in anyone but his parents…
'At least he had his parents' she thought bitterly. *She* was an outsider, too, but of her own making. She had learned that being close to someone made you vulnerable and that people weren't trustworthy. She had been hurt and betrayed so many times that she had sworn to never let anybody get that close again.
But sometimes she longed for something she couldn't quite put her finger on. It was the feeling that there had to be someone who would be honest with her, who would respect and admire her without thinking of her as a prize to be displayed, and whom she could admire and respect, too. Most of the time she forced back this longing and called it an illusion or a silly dream, but then she found herself dreaming about it again.
'What about Lex?' she asked herself. 'You're going to marry him! You love him! He's so great and he *loves* you, only you. Why are you still not satisfied?'
She was ashamed of these feelings, but she couldn't help it. She admired Lex and she was proud that he had chosen her of all women to be his wife, but the nearer the day of the wedding came, the more she felt a nagging inner voice trying to tell her that maybe she had made the wrong choice.
"So what are you going to do now that I know?" she asked Clark.
Clark looked up into her eyes. "That depends," he said softly. "It depends on *you*, Lois. I'm in your hands now and you have to make a decision."
Lois stared at him. He seemed to be very calm. How could he be so calm? Didn't he realize that she could destroy his life with one single article in the Daily Planet? She was an investigative reporter! Actually she was the best investigative reporter in town and her biggest wish was to win the Pulitzer. And *this* definitely was Pulitzer material! So why wasn't he afraid?
"I think I already did," she said.
Clark watched her face and nodded.
"What?!" Lois exclaimed, suddenly angry. "Why are you nodding? You don't know what my decision is!"
"No, I don't," Clark answered. "But I trust you."
"You *trust* me?!! How can you trust me?! You don't know me! We only met a few hours ago!"
Lois stood up and wrung her hands. "Do you know what they call me at the Planet? They call me "Mad Dog Lane" and it's a pretty good name for me, buster! Because I'd do almost *anything* to get a story! I want to be the best reporter in Metropolis and I want to win the Pulitzer!"
"And you are," Clark said softly and Lois stopped abruptly.
Clark shrugged his shoulders. "You're right, Lois. We haven't known each other for very long. But I do know your work. I admire you as a reporter and that's not only because of your writing skills or your investigative abilities. I've been reading your stories in the Planet for years now and what *I* found there and valued more than anything was your passion and your sense of truth and justice. And now that I know you, I can see that I was right. You *are* trustworthy, Lois. If you follow your heart, you'll do the right thing. I don't have to be afraid."
Lois blinked but couldn't stop the tears that were rolling down her cheeks.
"Thank you, Clark," she whispered. "That was the most beautiful thing anybody ever said to me."
She stretched out her hand again and Clark closed his fingers over hers.
"Clark Kent," she said earnestly, and took a deep breath to get her emotions under control. "I promise to never tell anybody about your secret, not even Lex. You can be absolutely sure that I will *never* betray you and your trust. You don't have to leave Metropolis. Please, I want you to stay here, to be my colleague, and maybe … my friend?"
Clark swallowed hard and squeezed her hand slightly. "Thank you, Lois. I would love to be your friend. And I hope one day I will be able to show you how much your promise means to me."
"Friend," she repeated with a wry grin, "I've never had a friend among my co-workers, well, except for Jimmy, but he's not a real colleague. Do you think you can handle it that your *friend* Lois is a much better reporter than you are?"
Clark chuckled. "Uh-huh. You think you are, don't you? Well, we'll see. Do you think *you* can handle it if your friend Clark isn't half as bad as you expect?"
Lois laughed. "Sure I can. Actually I don't want stupid friends and I can always tell myself that you're cheating with your buzz-buzz and everything!"
Suddenly she had an idea. "Or even better, we could be partners! Then we would work together and I'd have the advantage of your abilities, too, so I don't need to be jealous. *And* the best thing is that Perry couldn't partner me with every guy like Ralph who's too stupid to work on his own anymore! So we'd all be happy!" She looked at Clark, her eyes sparkling with excitement. "What do you think?"
Clark smiled. "It would be an honor, Miss Lane."
Perry White sat in his office and tried to concentrate on his work, but today his mind seemed to have the tendency to occasionally drift and refuse working. He stared through the window of the office into the newsroom. Everybody seemed to be busy. He could see Lois and the new guy Kent sitting in front of Lois' computer, obviously discussing something on the screen.
Lois and Clark. *Partners*! He shook his head. Lois Lane had asked him this morning if she could be partnered with Clark Kent!
If it had been anyone else but Lois, it wouldn't have been so unusual, but Lois? Lois *never* worked with anyone else unless she was forced to and even then she was as headstrong and uncompromising as she could be, so that nobody was eager to work with her again.
But obviously this Kent guy seemed to have found the right way to handle her!
On the one hand, Perry was happy. Lois needed a partner. The big stories she specialized in really were too much work for one person, even if that person was as obsessed with her job as Lois was.
And now that he thought about it, Clark had shown in his work that he had an analytical mind. This with his calm manner were an ideal complement to Lois' brilliant, but more impulsive style.
So Perry sensed that in this partnership there was a lot of great potential; on the other hand he had the feeling that there was something more going on and that made him suspicious.
He rose and slowly walked into the newsroom towards the two reporters.
"Come on, Clark! It's not that bad! Stop editing my copy!" he heard Lois exclaim.
Clark chuckled. "You can edit mine, too, if you want. It's only fair. But *this* sentence simply isn't good."
Lois rolled her eyes and turned to Perry. "Did I say I wanted a partner? I must have been crazy!"
Perry saw with amazement that Lois was laughing and that they were just teasing each other. He couldn't believe his eyes!
"Well, you two, I just wanted to ask what you're going to do tonight. You still want to return to the honeymoon suite?"
"Sure," Lois nodded. "I'm positive they will meet again. And this time we'll be well prepared. Besides it's our best chance to find out what's behind all this."
Perry shook his head and sighed. "I guess so, Lois. I just thought … Won't Lex be in town tonight?"
He saw Clark squirm slightly and his expression suddenly got serious.
"Uh-oh," he thought. "Here comes another problem."
Meanwhile Lois just shrugged her shoulders. "Yeah, he's coming home tonight. But if I have work to do … I'm sure he'll understand."
Perry wasn't so sure about that, but he didn't tell her so. It wasn't his business anyway. He didn't like Lex very much. Of course the man was intelligent and very generous and probably the most important man in town, but Perry couldn't help the feeling that he was not the right man for Lois.
So he just nodded. "Well, if you guys think it would be a good idea, *I'm* not going to hold you back. Just bring me a great story." Perry turned around again and walked back to his office.
When he sat down at his desk he heard Ralph shouting: "Hey, Lois. What were you guys doing all night, if there was no secret meeting?"
Perry expected Lois to go ballistic, as she usually did, but instead she just exchanged a look with Clark and grinned. "Hm, what do you think, Ralph?"
All three of them laughed and Ralph continued walking towards the elevator.
Perry stared at the pair in front of the computer, a grim expression on his face. He could smell trouble in the air. Trouble named Lex Luthor.
"What would you say, Clark, if I told you that I have *no* idea what they were talking about, but that I think it sounds even more dangerous than I expected?" Lois asked and put down the binoculars she had been looking through.
They were standing in front of the window where they had observed another meeting between the senator and Thaddeus Rourke. As far as they could tell now, the senator wanted to sell something to Rourke, but they hadn't been able to find out what it was.
"I would say you're absolutely right, Lois." Clark answered.
"So what are we going to do now?" Lois asked and sat down on the sofa.
Clark was silent for a moment, then he slowly said: "I could break into the office and make a copy of the papers." When Lois didn't answer immediately he rushed on. "I normally wouldn't do something like that but it's for a good cause seeing that lives might be at stake here. Do you think that's acceptable just this once?"
Lois' face lit up. "Great idea, partner! I think it's morally justifiable. You could use my scanner for making the copies so you don't have to take them with you!"
Clark nodded. "But you should turn off the camera as long as I'm in the office. Otherwise Perry will get a whole new impression of his new reporter."
Lois grinned. "I can't wait to see you in action," she admitted. She pointed at the window. "Mind if I watch?"
"No," Clark answered and smiled, too. "But you won't see very much, I'm afraid. I'm fast."
He left the suite and only an instant later there was a rush of wind and a blur of color whirling through the office on the other side of the street. Doors and drawers were opened and closed and papers fluttered towards the desk in the middle of the office. As the blur solidified into Clark, she could see him standing at the desk, scanning a bunch of papers. He had to do this in normal speed, because the scanner could only manage a certain pace.
While he was waiting he looked up to her window and gave her a brief wave.
Lois grinned. Then suddenly there was that blur again. The papers disappeared and a few seconds later Clark stood back at her side while the curtains of the office still fluttered in the gust of his departure.
Clark held the scanner in his hand and offered it to Lois, but she wasn't paying any attention. She just stared.
"Wow," she finally managed to say. "That *was* impressive."
Clark shrugged his shoulders and seemed uncomfortable. "I told you I was fast," he murmured.
Lois nodded. "You sure are." She took the scanner Clark was still holding out to her and put it in her bag.
"Well, hopefully we'll find out what's behind all this, now," she remarked.
They started removing the surveillance equipment. Neither of them spoke for a while, but Clark noticed that from time to time Lois sent him a few speculative glances.
"What is it, Lois?" he finally asked.
Lois blushed. "Nothing," she said, but then she sighed. "It's just that I'm terribly curious about those powers you have, Clark. I'm sorry. Please believe me that I really meant it when I told you that I don't see you as some kind of freak or something, because I absolutely don't! But these abilities are so amazing…"
Clark nodded. "You don't have to apologize, Lois. It's only natural. If you'd like to know more about them, feel free to ask."
Clark could see the relief in Lois' face. She obviously had been afraid to hurt him and it touched him that she cared so much.
"What's it like to fly?" she asked softly.
Clark smiled. "It's wonderful," he said. "It's the most amazing feeling I know. You feel so free and it's like nothing could ever harm you." He stretched out his hand. "I'll show you."
Hesitantly she put her hand in his. "Show me? You mean … you want to fly with *me*?"
"Sure." Clark grinned and picked her up in his arms. "Trust me."
With that he flew out of the window and into the darkness.
"This is … This is *amazing*!!" Lois exclaimed. She broke into delighted laughter. "God, please tell me that I'm not dreaming!"
"You're not dreaming, Lois," Clark confirmed. He watched her with a happy smile. He was in heaven. All his life he had dreamed of sharing the joy and the magic that flying brought him with another person. And now he held the woman of his dreams in his arms and the light and wonder in her eyes told him that she understood.
"So where do you want to go?" he asked her. "We can go anywhere. We just have to be back before dawn."
Lois shook her head. "I have no idea," she admitted. "Just *feeling* it is so great!" She watched the clouds above them. "Can we go higher? Into the clouds?"
Clark grinned and flew them into the white fog and then still higher until they broke through the upper line of the clouds. Suddenly they were surrounded only by the stars and the moon, shining with a silver light, silent and incredibly beautiful.
Lois felt tears rising in her eyes. "This is so wonderful," she said.
Clark halted so that they were just floating in the air. He held her so that they were facing each other and glanced around at the emptiness around them.
"I come here very often," he told her. "This place kind of symbolizes for me how I feel. Not part of earth and not part of the stars."
Lois looked into his eyes and was amazed at the tenderness and kindness she could see there. Involuntarily she reached out with her hand and stroked back a lock of hair that was falling over his eyes. He froze and returned her gaze with a searching expression.
Suddenly they were even closer to each other and Lois felt her head starting to spin. Was it the air? The stars? The moon?
She felt her breathing quicken and then … Clark was *kissing* her and she … she was kissing him back!!
Her heart skipped a beat and with a moan, she curved her arms tighter around his neck to draw him even closer.
Clark sighed happily when he felt her response. The kiss that had started gently became hungry and passionate. The air around them, the stars, the light, the moon, nothing mattered anymore. They only felt the other's nearness and warmth, their bodies pressed together as one body.
It was wonderful, it was incredible, it was magic!
But then … then it was over and they found themselves staring into each other's eyes, helpless and horrified.
"Oh my god!!" Lois cried. "What am I *doing*?! I'm going to be *married* in less than two weeks!"
Clark's face flushed and he tried to regain his composure.
"Lois, I'm sorry … I didn't mean … I'm so *sorry*!" he stammered. "I don't know what came over me. I shouldn't have done that! Please forgive me!"
Lois shook her head.
"It's not *you*, Clark. *I'm the one to blame here! I was with you all the way and I betrayed the man I'm going to marry!"
She was on the verge of tears. "Take me back," she pleaded.
When they reached the hotel he put her down. Lois wanted to draw away from him immediately, but he held her by gently catching her shoulders with his hands.
"Lois," he began desperately, "I know it sounds weird and it's not meant to happen this way, but I have been in love with you since the moment I saw you storming into Perry's office yesterday! Please, Lois, think about this … please …"
He stopped helplessly, unable to speak any further or he would lose control.
She didn't answer, just shook her head and ran out of the room.
Clark stood at the window for a moment, unmoving. Then he leaned hard against the wall and slid down slowly.
"I love you, Lois," he said into the darkness. "I love you so much …"
"Congratulations, Lois and Clark, on this great story! The whole city is proud of you two! The mayor wants me to express his heartfelt gratitude. Without you, there would have been a catastrophe of gigantic proportions. This "Operation Shockwave" would have destroyed at least half of the city!"
Perry paused in his speech and watched his two reporters intently. They were sitting next to each other, but it was obvious to everyone in the staff that they were acting strangely.
Clark had seemed to be paying no attention at all to what had gone on all morning. He just sat there, staring at the ground. Sometimes he sent a glance to Lois, but she avoided his gaze. She was pale and didn't even smile her usual confident smile when Perry praised their success.
Perry decided to run a little test.
"We're very proud of our new team. And we hope that together you'll write a lot more stories of the same quality." He raised his glass of champagne. "To Lane and Kent, the hottest team in town!"
There! Something definitely was wrong. Lois flushed bright red and looked as if she was going to cry. Clark also looked totally uncomfortable, but he obviously could feel her desperation and came to her rescue.
"Thank you, Mr. White," he said firmly, but refused to say more. To his relief the staff members just gave them a friendly round of applause and the meeting continued.
When the reporters left the conference room, Perry called after them, "Lois, Clark? You have a minute?"
They sat down in front of his desk and he watched them silently for a few moments. Lois and Clark didn't even glance at each other.
Clark looked at his hands and Lois stared at the ground.
"Okay," he said, "I know your partnership is pretty new, but I was very optimistic when I put you two together. I mean, when you asked me to be partnered, you were getting along well and the story you brought me is one of the best I've ever seen. But you guys don't seem to be very happy today."
Lois looked up. She had tears in her eyes and Perry's heart wrenched. Lois crying? What in Elvis' name had happened between those two!?
"Mr. White," Clark said firmly. "I think it would be better if Lois and I didn't work together anymore."
Lois nodded and swallowed hard.
Perry rose from his chair and started pacing around the room. Finally he turned around.
"I don't want to butt into something that's none of my business kids, but I can tell that something is definitely wrong here. It's natural to have disagreements in a partnership and even serious fights, but this doesn't seem to be a usual fight between two partners. Of course I can't force you to work together, if you think it's impossible, but I want you to take the morning off and talk about whatever is happening between you two."
"It won't work, Perry," Lois whispered.
"I think Mr. White is right, Lois," Clark tried. "We *do* need to talk. Even if I'm not your partner anymore, we still have to work in the same newsroom…"
She shook her head. "It won't work," she repeated almost inaudibly.
Clark suddenly got up from his chair.
"I'm sorry, Mr. White," he said earnestly, "but I know what I have to do. Please accept my notice."
With that he turned around and left the room before Perry or Lois could react.
Stunned, Perry sat down in his chair.
"*Notice*?! What in Elvis' name is going on here?!"
Lois didn't answer. She was crying silently.
"Oh my God, Lois … Please, honey, don't cry …" Perry said helplessly.
"He's gone," she sobbed desperately. "He's gone and it's all my fault!"
Two weeks later a bride dressed in a white lace dress stood in front of the mirror. It was a beautiful dress and she was a beautiful bride, but she was crying, sobbing into her handkerchief and desperately trying to regain her composure.
"Ten minutes, Mrs. Luthor!" a chanting voice came from outside.
The bride cried even harder.
"Mrs. Lex Luthor," she repeated under her tears, and stared into the mirror, a frown on her face.
Suddenly her eyes grew soft. "Lois Lane *Kent* …" she whispered. She tried it again. "Lois Lane-K …" She couldn't finish. Her voice cracked and she could only sob helplessly.
Two weeks ago she had met him for the first time. They had shared two magical days, and if it hadn't been for his many softly pleading messages on her answering machine during the past two weeks, she might have thought that she had dreamed them.
She had lain awake every night, listening to his voice telling her that he loved her and that he wanted to talk to her. But she didn't answer the phone. It was too late and she was afraid.
She'd tried to find an explanation for the fear and the desperation in her heart Whenever somebody mentioned the wedding. It had to be only the usual bridal jitters.
The whole thing with Clark wasn't supposed to happen. God, if she only had more time to think! She had been so sure when she accepted Lex's proposal. How could she destroy all her plans for a safe and comfortable future? But on the other hand how could she live with Lex, now that she felt like this?
And what should she tell Clark? He told her that he loved her, but that couldn't be true, could it? She didn't even know where he was. He'd obviously left Metropolis because Perry had tried to get in touch with him several times and he wasn't staying at his hotel anymore. According to Perry, he also hadn't left a clue where he'd headed for.
Yesterday, at the rehearsal dinner, she had heard the comments about her looking so pale and a lot of bad jokes had been made about her possibly being pregnant. She hadn't paid much attention. She hadn't paid much attention to *anything* for the last two weeks.
She had tried to focus on what Lex had been saying to her during his speech. He had talked about his love for her and how proud he was to have such a talented, brilliant and beautiful bride.
And all the while he was talking she was hearing Clark's voice on the phone saying, "I love you so much, Lois. Please, think about it … please, talk to me …"
And while she was looking into Lex's face she was seeing Clark's eyes. The kindest eyes she had ever known.
'Oh god, yes … I *want* to talk to him. I don't think I can go through with this' she thought longingly.
But it was too late. There were hundreds of wedding guests, the archbishop was going to perform the ceremony … Lex would surely kill her for humiliating him like this. She had promised him her love and she had betrayed him with somebody she had only known for two days. Somebody who was like a dream, who probably literally wasn't from this earth!
She had felt safe in the feeling that she had given up those foolish fantasies about what people called "love"! She had seen her parents hurt in the name of love and she had been hurt deeply herself.
Love! Love had been just a word for her. A word for a hormonal confusion that mixed physical attraction with deeper feelings and mistook desire for truth. She had decided to never give in to "love" anymore. When she had met Lex and he had proposed to her, she had thought that this was exactly what she had been looking for. A relationship built on respect and admiration on both sides. Nothing less and nothing more.
She liked him and there was nothing distasteful in the idea of being his wife, but she felt no passion for him, none of that hormonal confusion.
It was his intellect, his power, his "superiority" that attracted her to him. She had thought that in the mirror of the admiration of such an outstanding man she would feel herself grow. It simply was a matter of one and one making two. Her own value would rise if he valued her, wouldn't it?
But then this Clark Kent came into her life and with him all her plans and all her certainty about how to live her life had been destroyed. Suddenly love wasn't only hormonal. Suddenly truth was so important and desire so real! After kissing Clark she knew that Lex could never arouse the same feelings of desire and wanting in her. And what about her search for "superiority"? Didn't that matter anymore?
Lois searched her face in the mirror. A slow smile crossed her lips.
'Oh, no' she thought, and felt her heart flutter slightly. "Superiority" *still* was important to her. Admiration and respect were still a basis to build a relationship on!
If Clark wasn't superior to anyone else she knew, who else was? He literally was a "super-man." He was as intelligent as Lex and he was equally powerful. Not in the same way, of course, because his power wasn't built on success and money. He was not only the strongest man in the world, he could fly, he had heat and x-ray vision and he was invulnerable. That was power indeed!
But the amazing fact was that *all* these powers didn't matter to Lois. It wasn't his superiority that resulted from his incredible abilities that made her love him! It was another superiority — the superiority of heart.
'Yes, I *love* you, Clark' she told him in her thoughts and broke into delighted laughter. 'I love you! I love you!' It felt so good to finally admit it to herself after denying it for two miserable weeks.
His kindness made her heart reach out to him. His soft voice could touch her deep inside and his laughter and smile made her feel so wonderful. After meeting him, she knew that she could look up without feeling small and value without feeling worthless.
She sighed, but it was a happy sigh. She had made her decision.
"My parents live in Smallville, Kansas. My dad is a farmer…" she remembered Clark telling her about his childhood.
She would find him. She wouldn't wait for him to call her again. She needed to tell him that she loved him. She would find him faster than anyone would think possible, and if he still wanted her she would be his. No matter what people said, no matter how much she had to hurt Lex. It was *her* life and she knew now that she couldn't spend it as another hood ornament in Lex's universe of power. She would spend it with the man she had always dreamed of."
"Mrs. Luthor?" the chanting voice from ten minutes before came from outside of her room again. "Time to go, Mrs. Luthor! We don't want to make the groom wait too long, do we?" The voice laughed heartily.
'Oh yes, we do' Lois thought happily.
"Please, could you tell Mr. Luthor that I need to talk to him?" she called back. "And please, could you book the next flight to Smallville, Kansas for me?"
She smiled when she heard the agitated whispering outside. Obviously the lady had no idea what was going on here. Well, she would find out soon enough and the tabloids would have their scandal of the year, but hopefully she would have found Clark by then and nothing would matter anymore except her and him.
She started to remove the veil from her hair. It had given her a headache anyway. But when she removed the clasps that were holding it, she noticed to her surprise that the headache was gone completely.
She smiled again. Obviously it hadn't been the *veil*.