By Chiara Prato <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Submitted May 2000
Summary: Someone is out to get Clark, but what is making Lois so protective all of a sudden? Could there be more on Lois's mind than friendship?
This is the first fanfic I've posted, and the first one I finished in English.
I know my language could be better, but I did get some help (thanks Elena, LabRat and Ray), so it should be okay.
I posted it to Zoom's mb's a while back, but since I know there are those of you who don't frequent the message boards, I thought I'd let you read it too.
It was morning at the Daily Planet. Perry had just finished an editorial staff meeting. Everyone left to begin writing their articles for the morning edition. Lane and Kent didn't have enough material for a story yet, but they had enough to tell them that what they were investigating was just the tip of the iceberg. It was going to be a very complicated investigation and probably dangerous. Perry asked them to be careful.
It all started because of a very ordinary case, a suicide, a story so routine that it was given to Clark to work on alone. It would be unnecessary for Lane and Kent to trouble themselves over a simple suicide. As Clark worked on this seemingly simple story more and more things just didn't add up. Clark, as the police before him had not, soon realized that the suicide was faked. It was really an execution.
Perry let him work on his own for a while. Kent was absolutely able to work without his partner, even in spite of the threatening letters that had begun to come for him at the Planet. The idea was not to tell anyone in the newsroom of the threats. It would worry them unnecessarily. The police knew of the threats and that seemed to be enough. Soon, however, the investigation became so intricate that Clark couldn't manage alone. So Perry asked for Lois and Jimmy Olsen's invaluable help.
For the first time since the Chief had known her, Lois didn't impose herself on her partner and friend. She let him direct the investigation his own way. This was pretty strange. Perry immediately understood that maybe, finally, Lois was beginning to realize her feelings for Clark at last. After almost two years, he had thought that she would never reciprocate. He wondered if it would be a problem for the two reporters. Lois wasn't easy to get along with and even if he thought of her as almost a daughter, he knew she had no intention of getting involved with Clark or any one else. On the other hand, Kent had been able to accomplish a minor miracle. Since the Lane-Kent partnership was created she had softened. Oh sure, she could be "Mad Dog" Lane when she wanted, but, finally, she wasn't living only for her work. She was beginning to have a true life, and for that he was, of course, thankful to Kent. He didn't want his favorite reporter ending up like him, with a broken marriage, with divorce papers on his desk. All because he loved the Planet more than he loved Alice, or at least in a different way. Who knows what Elvis would have said in the same situation?
Lois and Clark were at their desks when Clark was interrupted a few minutes later by an office boy asking him to sign on the blank line of his form. He had with him quite a heavy package. Without letting anyone notice, Clark helped the boy put it on his desk.
Lois approached. "Are you expecting something?" He shook his head no. "Could it be from your parents?"
"No, they always warn me before they send something and they don't send anything to the Planet."
"Come on! Open it, what are you waiting for?"
Clark had a strange feeling. He carefully lowered his glasses to allow him to use his x-ray vision to check out the package. What he saw did not please him very much, but he couldn't prevent Lois from seeing. He checked again to make sure that it couldn't explode. Perry saw the package on Clark's desk and rushed out of his office yelling at Clark not to open it. Clark was already splitting open the box cover.
The box contained a teddy bear, but not just any bear. This one was tortured and broken to pieces. Its head was cut, its eyes were torn out and the arms were too, and a big knife was plunged into the bear at about heart height. The teddy bear was resting on a piece of marble. Clark put the bear aside to have a better look at the marble base. It was shaped like a tombstone, on it was inscribed something.
And the date of that day.
Lois clapped her hand over her mouth and instinctively grabbed her partner's arm. Perry approached and looked down at the box. Without turning he called to Jimmy.
"Olsen! Call the police and have them send someone over here!"
Jimmy, who was a few steps away, kept staring at the contents of the box.
"Olsen!" cried Perry.
"Sure thing, Chief!"
The rest of the morning proceeded quietly. Clark, who wouldn't let himself be scared after receiving his "present", kept up his investigation without fear. However, there was something strange going on. Lois was not her usual self; she was being uncommonly careful, and she had become more protective toward her partner. Clark was confused by his friend's manner.
They stopped for a lunch break. The three friends went to grab something to eat in a bar near the Planet. Lois had remained silent for most of the meal and had eaten less than half of her small sandwich.
"Lois, are you OK?" She raised her eyes until they met his.
"Sure, I'm just thinking…" She paused. "Have you seen Superman recently?"
Superman, always *Superman*! Clark could have screamed. Why wasn't it possible that she could be interested in him instead of Superman?
"Yep, some days ago…"
"And have you told him about them?"
"Them what?! About the threats!"
"And what did he say?"
"What do you mean, nothing!!! Is he helping you deal with them?"
"Sure Lois… he's helping me figure out who may be making these threats…"
Lois sobbed, "Fine!" and she lapsed back into silence.
Clark and Jimmy looked at each other while Lois played with her sandwich witho ut eating it.
"And do you know how I can contact him?" she asked after a while.
"If I see him, I'll tell him that you are looking for him, OK?"
The three friends kept on working until late into the night. Their investigations, which until a few hours ago had been very intricate, were becoming suddenly very simple. This change didn't seem right to Lois; she was upset. Her award winning reporter's instinct told her that the last few inquiries were being driven by someone. They just couldn't be so simple. Traces of tampering were all over this. If she could see Superman, she'd speak to him about it. She also wouldn't let Clark know that she was worrying about him so much.
"Clark, I've been thinking… Why… don't you sleep at someone else's place tonight… maybe with Jimmy…?"
"Clark… you know I'd do it… but I've got a couple of my friends staying with me for a few days…" Jimmy explained.
"Maybe the Chief…"
Clark grinned, "Lois, you know Perry and Alice are repainting their home… They're staying at a hotel."
"Lois, don't worry. Superman is there to look out for me. I won't take any undue risks."
"Are you sure?"
"Yes, I'm sure."
Clark moved closer to her. He stroked her hair and moved his hand down to her cheek, he tilted his head to the side, and he smiled that crooked grin of his.
"Lois, I'll be all right. I promise you."
Lois lowered her eyes; she felt she was blushing. Clark picked up her heartbeat and noticed that it was racing. He didn't know what to make of this.
He thought that, after his patrol that evening, he would drop by Lois' apartment as Superman to see what she wanted.
And so he did.
As usual Lois had left her window open, but the living room light was out. Upon entering, Superman called out to her… then he heard her bathroom door open and seconds later she appeared.
Clark was breathless; she had her hair still wet from the shower, and her was bound fast at the waist. She was the most beautiful sight he had ever seen. He quickly apologized for coming in without asking her permission.
"Don't apologize… I just didn't think you'd get here this early…"
"Clark told me that you wanted to speak with me and that he was worried… He said that you were acting strangely?"
"He really said so?"
"You're not angry with him, are you?"
"Acting strange? I'm worried! He said he told you about the "present" he received at the Planet?" He nodded. "Instead of getting upset he is taking it very calmly… If it had been me, he'd be persuading Perry to send me to a hangar in Nepal to hide… I wouldn't accept that… but at least I'd be worried. I'm usually not calm when someone threatens to kill me!"
"And this happens frequently, does it?" She smiled.
"Yep, this happens frequently, and if you and Clark weren't always there, ready to protect me…" She stood, thinking for a while.
"Lois, what can I do for you?" Superman waited a long time before he heard her response.
"Protect him." It was a whisper; Clark wondered if he'd have heard her if it hadn't been for his super powers. "I'm asking just this one thing… he's impulsive… I never thought I'd say that about Clark… but in this case he isn't being prudent at all… you know him… he trusts everyone… and I…" she made another short pause, as if she were searching for the right words, "I'm scared for him. He's the only friend I have…"
"I'll watch out for him… I promise… I promise you that nothing will happen to him. Don't worry… I'm always very close to him… even if it doesn't seem…"
Superman was going to fly out the window when he turned to her.
"Lois, it's not true that Clark is your only friend… there are a lot of people who love you. Perry, Jimmy… and then I…"
Lois thanked him. Then, a second before he flew away, she called to him.
"Superman… please… don't say anything to Clark about this little chat. I don't want him to know I worry so much about him…"
"Whatever you want… but why?"
"Well, I have an image to maintain…" She grinned and Superman smiled back at her.
A few minutes later Lois sank into her bed; she didn't want to think about anything. What was happening to her? This was not like her. She closed her eyes, trying to concentrate on the music in the background. Smooth, relaxing, created for a couple to dance to. She wondered how much time had passed since the last time she had danced with Clark. A little voice in the back of her brain answered, "Too long." "Quiet!" she whispered loudly, trying to drive the thought from her head.
The telephone. She didn't really want to speak to anyone right now.
"Hi! I wanted to know how you are…" Lois suddenly found herself sitting up in bed.
"Clark! Fine… absolutely, why?"
"So… You know I have spoken with Superman… He told me he'd stop by your place this evening…"
"He was just here… thanks… " She paused. " Really…"
Clark smiled. "If you want I can come over."
Lois bit her lip so hard she almost drew blood; how she wanted to tell him yes, but it was already so late and it was way too dangerous these days for Clark to be going around the city alone at night. She took a deep breath.
"I guess I'm going to go to sleep. I'm very tired." She didn't realize it, but her voice trembled. "See you tomorrow."
"Sure, I'll probably do the same."
"Then … sleep well."
*Be careful* she said to him mentally. "No … nothing, goodnight."
A few days later Lois arrived at the office to find the Planet in turmoil. One of Clark's sources had informed him that he had been able to find the last hiding place of the people who wanted him dead. Clark had decided to go there to check it out and Perry had tried in vain to dissuade him. The Editor in Chief was troubled. It looked to him as if the roles had been switched between his two best reporters. He wasn't ready for this. He believed that he knew Lois and Clark like the back of his hand, but this time it seemed as if he barely knew them. Lois came in at exactly the same moment as Clark was going to go out. She caught him and made him explain the situation. Once he did she decided to accompany him. Clark tried to persuade her to stay at the Planet. Perry fixed her with his eyes but the look he saw there made him understand that there was no way to convince her otherwise. Nothing would be able to stop her.
They had been gone all day. The sun had already set, but the night still hadn't totally overwhelmed the light.
"Lois you look so tired…"
"Actually, I haven't slept very much."
"I'm sorry … if somehow this is my fault…"
"No!" she hurried to tell him. "It's not your fault… It's just that a couple of evenings this week my neighbors have partied until late…" she lied. "It's just this…"
At last they came to the place that Clark's source had indicated. They had collected evidence all day and now they wanted to check to make sure it all fit together. Clark recommended caution. These things could be more dangerous than expected, and the discovery of this supposed refuge didn't calm him at all. He began to think of this as a trap, but he was still not able to persuade Lois that she should go home.
She was a few steps in front of him, slightly to his right. Clark was looking into a window of a deserted building. As Lois turned her head she saw a pistol-barrel aimed at him. Not thinking of herself, she began to run towards her friend, putting her body between the path of the bullet and her partner. Clark raised his head, catching movement out of the corner of his eye, and perceived what was about to happen. Exactly at that moment a shot rang out, followed a few moments later by a second. Clark clasped Lois to him at super speed and threw them both to the ground. The next few seconds seemed endless. Lois trembled in his arms, unable to speak.
"Are you OK?" She nodded. She was pale, wide-eyed and breathless. Clark took her in his arms and brought her to a safe place behind some crates. "Wait here and don't move!" he said with a firm but kind look. He tried to leave but she held on to his arm. Clark looked into her eyes. She seemed terrorized. In that moment nothing else mattered but Lois.
They gazed at each other for a while. She could not speak; she was trembling so badly. Neither of them knew how much time they spent that way, nor did they care. In that moment he understood what had really happened: she had seen the pistol and she was ready to sacrifice herself to protect him. Clark held the woman that he loved until her trembling calmed down.
"I'm going to take you home…" She nodded when he said this.
Clark drove Lois home. She didn't utter a single word during the trip. How many times, he thought, had she risked her life? Hundreds maybe, but she never behaved this way. He remembered when Mr. Makeup had tried to kill her in her apartment. That time, also, she hadn't wanted him to go in pursuit of the killer. But this was different. Then she was scared for *her* life, now she had risked it to save *his* life.
"Clark," she whispered. He felt himself shiver when he heard her pronounce his name. Was it only fear that he was hearing in her voice? "I… I can… well… Can I…?"
"Lois, I'll feel better if you'd sleep at my place tonight." She sobbed with relief and nodded. Clark pulled away from in front of her apartment and his super hearing caught a whispered, "Thanks." He turned to her and saw a light, shy smile appear on her face.
Clark took a quick shower before turning the bathroom over to Lois. He did this in order to cook her something while she showered.
She felt so strange. This story was upsetting her. It was an odd situation. For the first time the death threats were coming to him and not to his more expert partner, and from the moment she had known about them she had changed. She had never been so protective of him.
She had a long hot shower that seemed to regenerate her. She slipped on one of Clark's sweatshirts. It was quite oversized for her, but it was warm and soft and wrapped her like Clark's embrace.
She went out barefoot from the bathroom and soon arrived in the kitchen. Clark was intent on cooking. He smiled as he heard her come in. "Better?" he asked, without turning around.
"Much… thanks!" He felt her approaching. She leaned on him, setting her head on his shoulder. "What are you cooking? That smells great!"
"I love it!"
"I know. Me, too. Do you want to taste it?" She smiled her answer. Clark raised the tomato sauce covered spoon and blew on it to cool it, then he offered it to her.
"You are the greatest! It's delicious."
Clark turned to gaze at her. He had never seen her so beautiful. Her eyes were bright and her smile dazzled him. He wondered how he would have lived without her if he hadn't realized that the bullet was coming. He guessed that he couldn't hold out any longer in professing his love for her.
"Maybe it would have been better if I had stopped at my place and got some clothes rather than ransack your closet…"
"You look wonderful dressed just the way you are!" She smiled and shifted her gaze down shyly. "But sit down now. It's ready."
It was a nice evening, they had dinner and then watched "Echo Park", an '80's movie. Clark told her that it was a very good film, but it was underrated, and he thought that she'd like it very much. Lois agreed with his choice and she set herself on the couch and leaned her head on her friend's shoulder. Clark shifted his arm around her body to allow her to be more comfortable. Lois found it hard to stay awake. Clark was right. It was a great movie, but sleep, nonetheless, overcame her. Clark heard her heartbeat slow and her breathing become deeper. What a wonderful feeling to have his arms around the woman he loved, not as Superman, but as himself.
When he was sure that she was sleeping, he took her in his arms and carried her into the bedroom. He set her on the bed, covering her carefully. He gazed at her. Unable to restrain himself he gave her a light kiss on the lips, then he left.
A stifled moan in the middle of the night made him start. He looked around, groggy, and found himself sitting on the couch. He remembered he had carried Lois to his bed and then settled down for the night there. From the bedroom he heard Lois' breathless moan again and he thought that she must be awake, probably she'd had a nightmare. He wondered if he ought to go to her, but how could he explain how he had heard her? He lay down again. He could hear Lois, her bare feet making almost no noise as she walked through the room. She seemed to be headed for the kitchen. She had already passed the couch when she stopped and went back.
She gazed at him for a while and she noticed that his covers had been thrown off. She knelt next to him and pulled the covers up a bit. Her hand traveled further up to his face as if to caress him, but without touching him.
"I love you so much…" she whispered.
Clark opened his eyes wide. Despite the darkness in the room Lois noticed this. She clapped her hand over her mouth, almost as if she had said something wrong, or as if she were fearful of something. She suddenly got up and drew back from him.
Clark stood up, seeing her reaction.
"I'm sorry… I wouldn't… I shouldn't—"
"Lois, it's OK!" She kept moving back from him until the wall behind her hindered further progress.
Clark moved himself in front of her; he took her face in his hand and raised it until he could look in her eyes. "Lois, I love you too, since the first time I saw you!" She shook her head.
"Don't say it… please don't say it."
"I don't understand you… I don't understand what's hurting you… please let me love you…"
"I shouldn't have said it… but I was sure you were sleeping."
"Why? Why not?"
Lois lowered her gaze whispering. "Everybody says it… all the time! Claude, Lex and all the others… but then… it's never true! They want you, but really nothing about you ever interests them… you are a mark on a page, a number, an inheritance, someone who looks good on their arm at parties! But you, you're different… and this scares me! I'm afraid…"
"What are you afraid of?"
"Of getting hurt, of hurting you. I respect you too much to do that to you…" Her voice trembled furiously. She seemed about to burst out sobbing.
"I can't promise you that I'll never hurt you, it would be a lie if I did, but I can promise that I'll do everything I can not to hurt you."
"And if I hurt you? If I break your heart…"
"I'll take that risk. Lois, my life without you wouldn't have meaning. I couldn't live with myself if I let you go away, because I'm scared of what might happen."
"I won't hurt you… but I can't bear the thought that something might happen to you…"
"Lois," Clark said, approaching, trying to embrace her, but she slipped away.
"And then there is Superman… I can't promise that if he… I… how I can, how I may not…" she whispered. "You see… I'm already hurting you…"
"Lois, there is something I need to tell you… something very important. *I* … am *him*…" He wasn't able to say it, the sentence "I am Superman." He still had a problem saying it.
She looked at him. The room was dark and she saw his figure in the shadows and she understood. "For a long time I've wanted to tell you, I want to tell you… Superman and I… are…" Lois shook her head slowly without moving her eyes from him, then she covered her eyes with her hands. She was breathless.
"Lois, are you OK?" She nodded without speaking.
He looked around, moving closer to the windows; he heard something down the alley, whispered voices, but very threatening. He looked down the street.
"… and so they'll understand that they can't fool around with us!"
"He and his friends with their love for Superman…"
"…sooner or later we'll find the way to take care of the man in tights."
A ticking sound was coming from the bedroom. He heard the men begin to count…
"5 — 4 — 3 — 2 — 1."
Before they got to three Clark ran to Lois, knocking her to the floor, covering her with his body. At that same moment the bedroom blew up. As soon as the shock wave passed he got up, went to the bedroom and, in the twinkling of an eye, extinguished the fire that blazed there. Then flashing close to an amazed Lois, he went out the window.
In a few minutes, Clark's neighbors were at the door. "Mr. Kent! Mr. Kent!" Lois hesitated for a while before deciding what to do, but the tone in the voices became more and more urgent. She opened the door carefully. It was easy to see the neighbors' astonishment. After a few seconds someone said,
"Miss, is everything OK?… We heard an explosion…" She nodded. "Well, fortunately, Superman was close by… he extinguished the fire…" Well, at least that was true!
"And Mr. Kent?!"
"He's fine… he's with Superman now." *This* was a lie. "Luckily we were in the kitchen…"
She thanked all the people for their concern and closed the door more quickly than she'd thought possible. She leaned against it, then slipped down to the floor, where she remained, to think. Of Clark, she saw nor heard a trace. She stayed like this for a long time. Then she burst into tears. Actually she was not sure why she was crying, but she was unable to stop herself. She felt herself being embraced by two strong, tender arms. She held herself against his chest and whispered his name. She could feel Clark shiver upon hearing it spoken that way.
When her sobbing calmed down Lois felt herself being lifted and Clark settled with her on the couch, keeping his arms around her tightly.
Eventually Lois spoke, "I'm sorry!" Clark gazed at her for a second, shifting her a little to look at her better.
"About all…" She stilled. "About having reacted in this way."
"I wish I could have found a better way to tell you."
"Tell me what? That you are Superman or that you love me?" She didn't say it in anger or so as to down play it, she really wanted to know.
He caressed her head and shoulder. "Both of them." He was still for a while. "But above all that I'd be the first to say it…" He felt her smile against his chest.
"I was so scared for you during the last few days…"
"I'll *never* forget what you have done for me today." Clark heard her heartbeat speed up again. She sighed deeply.
"I couldn't bear it again to see you… I couldn't let it happen!"
"Lois, let me tell you, let me tell you how much I love you."
"I love you too… so much." She leaned once more against his chest. Then suddenly she sat up.
"Who was it that tried to kill you?"
"I'm not sure, but they are already in jail! Superman accompanied them there. Tomorrow we've got to go to the police station to give our statements."
"Then you aren't still in danger!"
"Lois, I guess I'm not really ever in danger! I mean, you know, if there isn't Kryptonite around I never am…"
She gazed at him for a while with a grin that was not well hidden on her face. "You mean I was so scared for nothing?" she said, giving him a light punch on his wonderful abdominals.
Clark laughed loudly. "This is the most beautiful thing you can do for me…" Clark shifted closer to her.
"You guess that…"
Clark put his finger on her lips to silence her. "Shhh," he whispered. "There is one thing I have wanted to do for a very long time." Their mouths met each other in a tender passionate kiss.
And finally The END!
If you have not already seen Echo Park, please do so! This movie is with Tom Hulce.