By Mobile Richard <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted September 2000
Summary: The long-awaited sequel to the author's earlier story, "The Fugitive." Can Lois and Clark find each other again and overcome the charges hanging over Clark?
This is a sequel to "The Fugitive;" it probably won't make much sense unless you read that story first.
I got the idea for this story from a television show, also called "The Fugitive," that aired in the U.S. during the 1960's. It featured a doctor who was falsely convicted of murder and sentenced to be executed. He escaped from custody en route to Death Row and spent the next few years running and hiding from the police.
The doctor in the television series was a caring man with a strong sense of ethics, much like Clark in L&CTNAOS. In one episode, the doctor rescued some children from a school bus that had crashed, and I freely used that scene, as well as the original premise, in my own story. <g>
All standard disclaimers apply. Characters in this story (except those of my own creation and as otherwise noted) are the property of DC Comics, Warner Bros and December 3rd Productions Ltd; no infringement of any property rights are intended by their use.
Lois put her car in gear, honking angrily at the driver who blocked her from nosing her vehicle into line. It had been a rotten week, and now she was stuck in traffic. Now, when it was so important that she keep her appointed meeting with Clark. She couldn't miss this rendezvous, she just couldn't!
Not that there was any guarantee that Clark would even be there … not after everything that had happened in the last few days.
Clark's dramatic rescue of the school children had made the front page of newspapers all across the country. In and of itself, the rescue would have been a viable news topic, worth filler space at least, but with the additional intelligence that the rescuer was a fugitive from justice, a man who had been a source of considerable embarrassment to the government for more than ten years, the story had shot to the top of the charts.
Lois was furious with herself for not anticipating this development. What had she been thinking?? She, an almost daily contributor to the news mill, had not even considered the newsworthiness of Clark's story when she made arrangements to meet secretly with him. And now … now that he was a number one item in the media, what chance was there that Clark would keep their date … even if he was innocent of the murder?
*If* he was innocent.
By the day of the appointed meeting, Lois still had not made up her own mind about Clark's guilt or innocence. Several days of digging had turned up nothing except the bare facts about the murder in the reform school. In and of itself the evidence was damning. There was nothing to justify Lois's doubt as to Clark's guilt except that it was *possible* that he had been telling the truth when he claimed to be absent while the crime was being committed … considering his ability to fly.
Lois hoped that her next conversation with Clark would offer her the explanation that her heart, rebelling at the insinuation that such a man could have committed such a monstrous crime, craved. She had even gone so far as to hint to Perry that she had a big story coming down the pike ("Man Flies! Fugitive Cleared of Murder Charges!" was the headline she had in mind, although she hadn't told Perry *that*.)
As she fought the traffic on the way to her meeting with Clark, Lois's temper flared. She had wanted to be early for the assignation at Evergreen Park, but because of the traffic jam, she didn't arrive until three minutes after eight.
Clark wasn't there … but that didn't mean anything, she told herself optimistically. There was still a chance that Clark could have somehow missed seeing the papers. Or that he wouldn't be scared off by the public revelation that she knew his true identity. Clark knew that she loved him … she had told him so … and with his ability to fly and thus increase his chances of eluding capture, he might … just might … take the risk of meeting her even though he knew that she had found out that he was an accused murderer.
There was still no sign of him by ten after eight, but she told herself that there was no reason to panic yet; he might have gotten lost, or been delayed in that horrible traffic, assuming, of course, that he was driving and not flying …
By eight-fifteen Lois had retreated into the small coffee shop nestled in one corner of the park, mentally reproaching herself for having scheduled a meeting outdoors in the middle of winter. At least it was warm inside, she mused as she clutched her cup of coffee and gazed out the window at the frozen ground. She could stay warm and still see Clark when he came. If he came.
Of course he was going to come … he had to!
But he didn't.
At nine-thirty Lois finally gave up and went home, the full impact of missing the meeting with Clark hitting her hard. They had never arranged a backup plan in the event one of them couldn't make it, and with this opportunity lost, she had no way of contacting Clark. *He* knew where *she* was, of course, but with his picture and his story being picked up and carried by newspapers and television stations across the country, what chance was there that he would contact her now? He would assume that she had made their date in ignorance of his identity and that now that she knew he was an accused murderer, she would want nothing more to do with him … except, perhaps, to get his story.
By the time Lois got home, she was devastated by the realization of what she had lost. She had lost the chance to hear Clark's explanation, lost the opportunity to clear a possibly innocent man of heinous murder charges, and had lost Clark, the only man she had ever really loved … perhaps forever.
She didn't sleep much that night.
She got up the next morning with renewed determination to find out the truth of what really happened at the Home for Wayward Boys that night in 1982. If she did nothing else, she could at least determine Clark's innocence … and if she cleared his name, then he would surely resurface out of hiding …
After pouring herself a cup of coffee, she picked up the Sunday paper, turning over the pages with an impatient hand, barely registering what she was reading as her mind kept returning to her problem of determining Clark's guilt or innocence. When she tossed the paper aside after a few minutes of trying unsuccessfully to focus on its contents, the Sunday magazine section slipped out. Snatching it up in annoyance and crumpling it in her hand, she was about to cram it into the trash can when a headline caught her eye: "Modern Miracles."
The article focused on a number of events unexplainable by modern science, most of them spontaneous recoveries from serious illness. But one of them involved a recent train derailment in Italy. A bridge had collapsed after a bombing, plunging a passenger train into the darkness of the river below, and a single man, arriving on the scene less than a minute after the accident, had pulled countless survivors out of the water to safety. He had disappeared immediately after his rescue operations. Descriptions of the man were vague (dark haired Caucasian, clean-shaven, broad-shouldered, and, oh, yes, one woman had said that he had a "kind face").
Two peculiarities caught Lois's attention: one was the fact that several eyewitnesses swore that the man had *flown* onto the scene; the other was the rapidity with which so many survivors had been rescued, a rapidity which defied belief (unless you had personally witnessed the super-human speed that a certain man was capable of …)
Lois thoughtfully smoothed out the wrinkled paper, thinking back to the school bus rescue. Clark had appeared at the scene of the accident and rescued twenty children and the driver. There were several odd things about that rescue: the speed at which Clark had conveyed everyone to safety, and the spontaneous quenching of the flames that had at one time engulfed it, as subsequent examination of the bus proved. Lois had had a demonstration of how quickly Clark could move, and she wondered now if he had had something to do with the extinguishing of the fire, too. (Perhaps he had gathered snow at super speed and used it to quench the flames?)
Suddenly eager to know if any similar mysterious rescues had ever been reported, she telephoned Jimmy, waking him from a rarely-enjoyed late-morning sleep, and asked him to go on a hunt for every mysterious salvage, every unexplained rescue that had taken place in the last ten years. "It's Sunday, Lois," Jimmy grumbled.
"Never mind; I'll do it myself," Lois snapped, slamming down the phone and running into the bedroom to scramble into her clothes. She was joined at the Daily Planet by a rather disheveled Jimmy, who hurried to provide her with everything he could find on the requested subject.
"You go home, Jimmy," said Lois after several hours of intensive research. "You've given me enough to go on." Jimmy rose to his feet and stretched luxuriously. "And Jimmy …" added Lois as he turned to go, "… thanks." He nodded cheerfully and exited the newsroom, leaving her alone with her thoughts.
She sat back in her chair, thoughtfully regarding one of the newspaper articles that Jimmy had procured for her. They had found numerous accounts of rescues performed over the last ten years by a mysterious "dark-haired man," rescues that were unexplainable by normal human standards. The descriptions of the man, or men, matched Clark's appearance.
Lois tapped her pencil against her desk, trying to convince herself that it *had* to be Clark who was performing these feats, that there couldn't be others with powers like his …
But caution born of years of digging for concealed truths would not let her conclude that Clark was the mysterious rescuer.
Besides, even if he was indeed the rescuer, it wouldn't absolve him of the murder in 1982, she reminded herself. His chronic do-gooding might be a self-imposed penance for committing that brutal murder.
No, she wasn't going to trust in Mr. Kent's innocence just yet.
She put down her pencil with a sigh. If only she could be present at one of these disasters when the mysterious man made his appearance. If only she could see for herself if it really was Clark!
During the next few weeks, Daily Planet reporter Lois Lane was present at the site of every major disaster that took place within fifty miles. She tirelessly interviewed witnesses, showing Clark's picture to countless rescue victims in a vain attempt to find someone who had seen him.
She also questioned survivors of past disasters that had been attended by the mysterious stranger, and each time was frustrated by her lack of success in finding eyewitnesses who could say positively that Clark was their rescuer. But … she reflected grimly, at least they did not rule it out.
As she gained information about the mysterious rescuer, though, she became more and more convinced that he was indeed Clark Kent. The descriptions of the elusive man's behavior tallied with her understanding of Clark's character as she had seen it and as it was being further revealed to her through probing into his past in Kansas.
He had been well-liked as a boy, and many people in Smallville, including his former foster parents, Jonathan and Martha Kent, thought that his incarceration in the reformatory had been a grave miscarriage of justice. It was commonly believed that it had been the Jacksons's own son who had robbed that convenience store, and that the Jacksons had falsely implicated their foster son in order to protect their offspring.
Clark's record at the reform school, too, had been exemplary, with nothing to indicate that he would erupt into violence. He was quiet and studious and had kept pretty much to himself, yet he had been treated with respect by his fellow inmates. There had never been any trouble reported between him and his roommate, the teenage boy who had been murdered, although (and Lois found this highly suspicious) the deceased had been involved in an ongoing feud between his group of friends and a rival group. (Lois's source stopped short of calling the "groups" *gangs*; gangs were not allowed in the reformatory and were therefore pretended not to exist.)
But if Lois was now nearly convinced that Clark Kent was not a murderer, she was no closer to proving it … and no closer to finding out how to contact him.
In the end, it was by accident that she found him.
She was driving through the Freedom Tunnel that ran beneath the New Troy river when the car in front of her slid to a sudden stop. She jammed on her brakes, cursing aloud. Seeing the driver of the stopped car get out of his seat and stand in the road, she jumped out of her own car to approach him, noting angrily that he was holding a mobile telephone to his ear. Why hadn't they outlawed those things?? No wonder the man had caused an accident!
By the time she reached him, however, she saw that he had stopped his car only because the car in front of him had stopped … and the one in front of that one … and the next … and the next …
"What is it??"
"Explosion," said the man briefly, turning to look at her. He didn't remove the telephone from his ear as he added unnecessarily, "at *that* end of the tunnel."
Lois raced back to her car and grabbed her own mobile phone, speed-dialing the Planet to call in the news even as she abandoned her vehicle and raced towards the explosion on foot.
The air became so murky and filled with smoke when she neared the site of the detonation that she didn't see him until she was a bare ten feet away. She froze when she saw the man kneeling beside an injured woman lying on the ground. It was Clark. His back was toward her, but she would have known those shoulders anywhere.
Before she could gather her scattered wits, there was a commotion behind her, and the sound of running feet. Clark turned and looked in her direction. And saw her. The breath was wrenched from her body when their eyes met and she saw the glad welcome in his face, to be replaced quickly by utter, wretched longing. Before she could speak, a shout drew Clark's gaze to a point behind Lois. His eyes widened, and Lois turned involuntarily to see what had engaged his attention. Suddenly realizing that she shouldn't take her eyes off Clark, not even for a second, she swung back immediately. But it was too late. He was gone.
Lois paced back and forth in her apartment, the agitation of her mind finding expression in the activity of her feet. She was furious with herself; furious because she hadn't found tongue to speak to Clark when she had seen him, furious because she had taken her eyes off Clark for that one crucial second, furious because she wasn't sure if, in that fleeting moment when their eyes had met, her expression had managed to convey to Clark all the love she felt for him, as *his* expression had done for her.
Her brief contact with Clark had not only reassured Lois of his love for her, but had been all that was needed to convince her that she had been right in her assessment of his character. In that brief instant before he recognized her, she had seen all the compassion he held for the injured stranger who lay next to him. Clark really *cared* … she saw that in his face and in his posture when he bent over the woman.
Clark was *good*; a good and kind person, *not* a murderer. He *couldn't* be a murderer. She *knew* that—oh, how she knew it!
Her heart warmed when she thought of him as he had appeared to her the first time she saw him, when she remembered his dramatic rescue of the victims in the school bus crash, his gentle ministrations to her when she was ill. She swelled with pride when she thought of the many acts of kindness she now attributed to him.
… *her* belief in his innocence was not enough; she had to prove it to the world. It would help if Clark could be persuaded to reveal his ability to fly. It wouldn't be an alibi, but at least it would offer a plausible explanation for his claim that he hadn't been in the room when his fellow inmate was murdered. If only Clark had been *seen* elsewhere on the night of the murder … if only he had been performing one of his rescues …
Wait a minute!!
Suddenly Lois was on her knees beside the sofa, scrabbling through her collection of newspaper clippings. There had been one rescue … the date … yes! At approximately 4 p.m. Tokyo time the Shinkansen, or Bullet Train, in Japan had derailed when explosives blew up a section of track. A multitude of eyewitnesses *swore* that a Caucasian youth had walked through the fire to pick up victims and carry them to safety, and some of the burn victims claimed that he had actually *blown cooling air* on them to put out the flames!
The date of this dramatic rescue was August 15, 1982.
4 p.m. on August 15, 1982. And the reform school inmate was murdered in his bed at 2 a.m. August 15. The times matched. Clark was in Japan pulling victims out of fire while his roommate was being brutally stabbed to death.
Lois threw down the newspaper article and smashed her fist into her palm.
Clark, you **I D I O T**!!!! You had an alibi the whole time! Why didn't you tell them?? Why didn't you clear your name *then,* when the eyewitnesses in Japan would have been able to identify you??
Lois jumped up to take a few hasty paces back and forth, raging at the senselessness of Clark's exile. He need never have gone into hiding, need never have thrown his life away. All he had had to do was tell them and he could have cleared his name instantly …
But her anger couldn't last, and it was eventually replaced by a warm feeling towards the absent Clark. He was *not* a murderer; he was a good man. A *dumb* man, but a good one. A kind, decent, caring man, a man who tried to make the world a better place. A man to be looked up to … a hero, even. She admired and respected him. She loved him.
And she was going to clear his name.
But first she had to find him. How, she didn't know. She didn't know how to find his cave … it could be anywhere. She had no way of getting in touch with him, of letting him know that she wouldn't turn him in to the police or use him to get a big story.
How could she tell him she believed in him and wanted to help him? How could she tell him that she loved him?
But Clark didn't have to be told; he knew. He knew that Lois loved him and believed in him as soon as he read her article in the Daily Planet.
At the same time that the story of the murder charges against him had been picked up and run by every newspaper in the country, the Daily Planet had published their own story about him: an exclusive eyewitness account by the reporter-on-the- scene, Lois Lane. To the uninitiated, the cleverly-written article appeared to be an objective account of a rescue and the journalist's subsequent observations about the person who effected the rescue, but to a discerning fellow writer like Clark, it was apparent that the piece had been cunningly constructed to induce readers to arrive at the conclusion that the rescuer was incapable of having committed the murder that he had been charged with so long ago.
Clark was right in believing that Lois had artfully written the article to plant the idea of his innocence in the minds of her readers. She had known that a gushing testimonial from a love-smitten admirer would be worthless as a character reference, even assuming that such a fluff piece could have made it past Perry's critical eye, and she had cleverly disguised her feelings for Clark in the article she wrote.
The expertly-crafted piece that emerged from her word processor told the story of a cynical journalist moved in spite of herself by the sheer human kindness manifested by a compassionate good Samaritan, and led readers to the "inescapable" conclusion that the justice system had in some way failed in allowing this paragon to be falsely charged.
No fool, Lois's wise old editor, Perry, had seen right through Lois's stratagem. When he read her article, he had looked at her and asked sardonically, "Did something happen with this guy Kent that I should know about, Lois?"
"Happen?" Lois said breezily and with entirely too much innocence in her wide, brown eyes. "No, nothing happened. What makes you think anything 'happened?'"
"Uh-huh," said Perry skeptically. And he had let it go at that.
But if Perry could let it go … Clark couldn't. He tore the article out of the newspaper and folded it to keep in his pocket … from whence he drew it, again and again, to read and re-read, and to read yet again. To read between the lines to see the love and trust and hope that crept through the fastidiously understated diction of a story published in the world-class newspaper. To re-experience over and over the poignancy of their brief interlude together in the sanctuary of his cave. To relish the sweetness of the knowledge that Lois loved him … and to taste the bitterness of the conviction that for her sake he must never see her again.