By Tank Wilson <TankW1@aol.com>
Submitted June 2000
Summary: Before Clark "dies" in the episode "That Old Gang of Mine," he whispers to Lois that he's okay — what could he mean?
Author's note: That Old Gang of Mine has probably spun off more fanfics that just about any other episode. So, of course, I have to give the gentle readers my version. All characters trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. All feedback welcomed and encouraged at TankW1@aol.com.
The gunshot echoed in Lois' ears as she watched him in horror as her partner and best friend clutched at his chest and slowly slid to the ground. Clark had interposed himself between her and the revived gangster, John Dillinger, when he had come on to her. His reward for his efforts was being shot, at point blank range, by another criminal from the past, Clyde Barrow, of Bonnie and Clyde fame.
Lois was frantic as Clark's hand on her shoulder pulled her down with him. Please, she prayed, don't let him die. Tears were beginning to slide down her cheeks as she bent close to the prone form of her partner. His grip was still remarkably strong as he pulled her even closer and levered his head up toward her. Lois was panic stricken that Clark was about to whisper some last words of devotion to her.
Even given the recent recantation of his love for her, Lois still knew that Clark harbored strong feelings for her. She, too, had feelings for this gentle, compassionate man whom she called her best friend. She was still working through exactly what she felt for Clark, but she thought she had a pretty good idea of how Clark felt about her. How else would she have been able to talk him into coming on this fools' errand? He'd thought that it might be dangerous, but she had insisted. They needed to find out more about these recently resurfaced thirties gangsters who were terrorizing the city. Now, that insistence had cost Clark his life.
Tears flowed freely as Lois tried to steel herself for what were obviously to be Clark's last words to her. His lips came close to her ear as she bit her lip hard to hold back the sobs.
"Lois," his voice was barely a whisper, "I'm okay, play along."
Clark then collapsed back to the floor, allowing his head to loll to the side and his eyes to take on a vacant, sightless stare.
Lois' mind was in turmoil as she tried to comprehend what she had just seen and heard. Through a curtain of tears, she watched Al Capone order his men to take Clark's body with them for disposal. She was so confused! She saw Clark get shot, at close range, yet he told her he was okay. Then he collapses and is dragged off. Was he dead? Was he just hurt? Lois didn't know what to think.
She sat on the floor, in the same spot she was in when Clark had whispered to her, watching the crowd flee as each patron held their own best interests above whatever it was that might have happened here. To them, it was being witness to a murder. A murder in a place they didn't want to be caught in when the police arrived.
This thought stirred Lois too. She should get out of there. What would she tell the police once they arrived? Yes, officer, she thought self-mockingly, my partner was gunned down by gangsters resurrected from the grave. Where is he? Well, they dragged him off, but it's all right because he told me before they left that he was okay. No, it would be best if she wasn't here, either, so Lois quickly exited with the remainder of the crowd.
Lois continued to pace about her apartment like a caged, wounded animal. She had a handkerchief clutched in her left hand, which she would use occasionally to wipe at the stubborn tears that insisted on leaking from the corners of her eyes. Every so often she would stop and stare at the phone, as if willing it to ring.
"Where are you, Clark?" she wailed as she continued to stalk her apartment.
It had been nearly three hours since *the incident* and still she had heard no word from Clark. She had called his apartment twice and left frantic messages for him to call her back, but she'd yet to hear her own phone ring.
Her mind was still in turmoil. She held on to the lifeline of Clark's affirmation that he was okay like a drowning person held onto a life preserver. Was he really okay? Her inner voices kept arguing with each other. He said he was okay, but he might not have known how bad he was hurt. It was possible that Capone and the rest might have discovered his deception and finished the job they had started. He might really be dead now, even if he hadn't been back at the casino. Lois wiped angrily at her eyes again. Where was he?! Why didn't he call her?
So intent was Lois on her concentration on the phone that she nearly jumped out of her skin when she heard the strong rap on her front door. At first she was startled into hesitancy, but once she peered through the peep hole in her door, she quickly undid the locks and flung the door open with great force and speed.
"Clark!" was all she said as she pulled him into her apartment and flung herself into his arms.
Clark wasn't sure what kind of reception to expect from Lois once he showed up, but he sure couldn't complain about being showered with quick kisses by his beautiful partner.
"Oh, Clark, I was so scared," Lois said while finally disentangling herself from him. "I didn't know what to think. The thought that you had been killed nearly killed me. I didn't know what I would do if you were gone." She took a moment to gulp a breath of air. "Then you said you were okay, but they took you away, and I didn't know what had happened to you, and I haven't been able to think straight since it happened." Lois, still holding onto Clark's arms, stared up into his face. "Where were you? Why didn't you call me? Are you really all right?"
Clark rubbed his own hands up and down Lois' arms. "Yes, Lois, I really am all right. Capone and his boys dumped me at the outskirts of town, so it took me awhile to get back here. I had to walk since my wallet was gone and I didn't exactly look too respectable."
Lois stepped back and, for the first time, noticed that his suit was ripped and quite badly soiled. She then returned her attention to his face. She was thrilled that he was alive, and okay, but she did have to know.
Clark took a deep breath. Well, here goes, he thought. "It was just dumb luck, Lois." He reached into the breast pocket of his jacket and pulled out an ornate silver cigarette case. He showed Lois the deep indentation in the face of the case. "I was lucky; the bullet must've hit this case." Clark grinned at Lois. "I tell you, it hurt like the dickens. It was like someone took a hammer and hit me in the chest. It nearly knocked the wind out of me and I'm sure it will be sore for a while."
Lois didn't stop to dwell on Clark's good fortune. She was just so glad that her partner, her best friend, and maybe something more was still around for her. The story could wait. Lois found she couldn't do anything but focus on Clark's beautiful face and thank whoever for the fact that she wouldn't have to see it staring out at her from the inside of a coffin.
Clark and Lois spent the next several minutes just exploring each other's features with their fingers and their lips until finally Clark pulled away. "Lois, it's late, and we've both been through a terrible shock and ordeal. I think it would be best if I go and we both get what rest we can before we have to go into the Planet tomorrow." Clark placed his finger under her chin. "After all, we still have a story to work on — partner."
Lois returned his smile. "You're right. I know I'm tired. I've been so beside myself in confusion these last few hours that I know I haven't been able to form two coherent, rational thoughts in a row." She stroked his cheek with her hand. "The only thing I know is that you're alive, and that's enough for now."
Clark backed toward the door as their gazes stayed locked on each other. "Good night, Lois."
"Good night, Clark."
It was a happy and tired Lois Lane that had gone to bed in the early hours of that morning. But even as tired as she was she couldn't find the rest she needed. She kept tossing and turning in her bed, getting herself all wrapped up in her bed sheets. Finally she sat up abruptly and reached over to snap on the nightstand's lamp. The look on her face was a combination of wonder and irritation.
"Clark doesn't smoke!"