By SuperMom <email@example.com>
Submitted March 2000
Summary: When Lois gets addicted to the popular new game show, Clark decides drastic measures are necessary.
Usual disclaimers. Please do not re-distribute without permission. "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire" is the property of ABC and Disney Interactive.
Many thanks to both Ann McBride and Kath Roden for not only their editorial skills, but their calming influence when I would email them in the middle of the night with my plot problems.
With a hard day of investigative journalism behind them, Lois and Clark sat on opposite ends of the sofa in the living room of their Hyperion Avenue home. The television across the room blared the theme music to America's newest game show craze, "Who Wants to Be a Millionaire." Because their everyday lives were filled with excitement and intrigue, network television shows did not hold much attraction for the couple. But Lois's competitive streak had been piqued by this new show. Here she could match skill, wits, and knowledge with the contestants, and frequently answered questions that the studio players missed. She had tried to draw Clark into the action, but Clark would have no part of it. He did, however, enjoy watching "Mad Dog" Lois Lane in action, and often found himself chuckling over her comments back to the television screen and the show's host.
"Don't you want to play along with me, Clark?" Lois asked. "You are one of the most intelligent people I know, and surely you can do better than some of the morons they've had as contestants so far."
"No, Lois. Winning just isn't that important to me," Clark began, only to be interrupted by Lois, continuing, "yeah, yeah, I know. You just play for the sake of playing."
"That's right, Lois. I enjoy seeing if I can answer the questions too, but it's just not that important that I answer every one of them correctly," he replied.
"Spoilsport!" she teased, sticking her tongue out at him and making a silly face. "Why did I ever marry a man who doesn't like to compete?"
"Because I have a great body," he murmured to her seductively. "And because I let you be top banana."
Catching the pillow that Lois threw in response to his last comment, he lunged across the sofa and grabbed her in his arms. As he lowered his lips to Lois's, she suddenly pulled back and shouted, "No, no, no!!! The pig's name in Charlotte's Web was Wilbur!!! Didn't you read when you were a child?"
Clark groaned in frustration and let go of Lois's soft body. At least the show would be off in twenty minutes and perhaps THEN he could get a kiss. While Lois continued to hurl epithets at the television screen, he went into the kitchen to find something to snack on. He grabbed a Ding-Dong, poured himself a glass of milk, and ate at the kitchen table while he waited for "the show" to end.
As the credits began to roll, Lois looked toward the other end of the sofa and noticed for the first time that Clark had disappeared. Had Superman been called out on a mission? She didn't remember hearing the whirl of his "spin thingy," so she guessed he was either in the kitchen eating or upstairs doingwhatever. Moving to the kitchen, she swung one door inward, peered inside and saw Clark sitting at the table, dunking a Ding-Dong into a glass of milk, making a huge mess, but apparently enjoying every bite.
"Decided you didn't want to compete with "Mad Dog", huh?" she asked.
"No, it's not that, Lois. You just seemed to be occupied so I thought I'd just make myself a snack. Want a bite?" he asked, offering her the last bit of his chocolaty treat. As she shook her head to indicate that she was declining, Clark wolfed down the last bite, gulped the remaining milk from his glass and super-cleaned his mess before Lois could say, "No, thank you."
"So the show's over?" he inquired, hoping he could resume his hug.
"Yeah. I still can't believe that guy didn't know that the pig's name was Wilbur!" Feeling a stream of babble rapidly approaching, Clark swept Lois into his arms and cradled her right jaw in the palm of his left hand as his fingers tangled in the hair around her right ear. He raised her face to his and slanted his lips across hers, using his right arm to pull her ever closer to his body.
The babble terminated, Clark turned Lois around so that they were standing in a spooned position. He marched them across the kitchen and through the swinging double doors to the living room. His hunger for a romantic evening with his wife was mounting quickly as Lois giggled in his arms. She turned her head and planted tiny kisses on the biceps that enveloped her. As they passed the television, Clark heard the announcer say, "And remember to join us again Thursday evening at 8:00 P.M. for 'Who Wants to Be a Millionaire'!"
"Guess you'll have to wait two whole nights to play again, huh, Lois?"
Lois pulled free from Clark's arms, gave him a smug look and announced, "As a matter of fact, Mr. Kent, I won't." Skipping across the room, she retrieved a plastic shopping bag from the closet under the stairs. "See?" she declared, pushing the shopping bag in Clark's direction.
Clark reached into the bag and groaned as he pulled out a computerized version of the game. He dropped his head and realized that this was only the beginning of the craze. He was quickly brought back to reality with Lois's question, "Is something wrong, Clark?"
Clark's mind whirled. Did he tell her the truth and confront her with the fact that she'd become a game junkie? Or did he lie and endure countless hours of hearing Lois rant at a virtual emcee? She would respond to the former with a curt denial. The latter would earn him more evenings in the kitchen, drowning his loneliness in a variety of snack cakes. The truth or a lie? Either was a losing proposition as far as Clark was concerned. And of course, there was the Superman issue to contend with: Superman didn't lie. He fought for "Truth, Justice and the American Way." But Clark just wanted his wife's attentions back. Just as he was about to respond with the truth, an idea began to form in his mind. Of course; why hadn't he thought of this before? He could let Lois indulge in her passion for competition and benefit in the process.
"No, honey, nothing's wrong. I was just having second thoughts about my attitude toward playing games with you. Why don't you install this on the computer and teach me how to play it?"
Clark could see the excitement in Lois's eyes as she contemplated what was in store for him. Together they sat at the desk while Lois ran through the simple installation process, and soon the game was up and running. Clark read through the rules section carefully; and just as Lois was about to click the icon to begin their first game, he began to put his plan into action.
"You know, Lois," Clark interjected. "It might just be fun if we had a little friendly wager to see which of us is the first to win the million dollars."
Lois's mouth dropped open in amazement; and all she could do was stare at this man who looked like her husband but at the moment did not sound like him at all. "Huh?" was all she could utter.
"Nothing really serious, Lois, like huge amounts of money — just something simple," Clark explained to his still incredulous wife.
"Uh huhlike what exactly?" she asked.
"Oh, I don't knowmaybe something like" Clark stammered, knowing full well what he had in mind. He just didn't want this deal to appear contrived. After all, Lois Lane was NOT galactically stupid. After hesitating a few more seconds and stuttering some more, Clark exclaimed, "I know! Whoever gets all the way to the million dollar question first and answers it correctly will be treated by the other to a gourmet meal, and the winner's choice of an evening's 'entertainment'," he explained, waggling his eyebrows as he uttered the word "entertainment."
Clark felt certain this was a win-win situation for him. Given her extraordinarily competitive drive, Lois would certainly get to the million-dollar mark first. He would prepare a lovely dinner for them, followed by an evening of incomparable romance including a "Superman Express" flight to some remote deserted island. And with any amount of luck at all, Lois's interest in the game would be sated and that would be the last of this craze in the Kent household.
"Deal?" Clark asked.
"Deal," said Lois.
"First, though, we have to draw up a few ground rules to keep things fair," Clark began.
"Are you insinuating that I would not play fair?" Lois asked indignantly.
Seeing the bemused look on her husband's face, she immediately surrendered and agreed to the rules that he drew up: Other than the basic rules noted in the Help file of the program itself, their only special rule was that all games must be played in the presence of the other person so as to eliminate the possibility of cheating or obtaining outside help. They knew that Jimmy also had this game and arranged to borrow his disk so that each of them would have their own computer for simultaneous play. With these rules agreed upon, Lois and Clark set the next night as the beginning of their contest.
Lois rushed through her work the next day and hurried home to take care of her household chores in time for the beginning of their contest kick-off. At precisely 7:00, both computers were switched on and the strains of the game's music filled the brownstone — in stereo. Both made it through the early questions easily enough, but Clark was the first to stumble and miss a question. Shortly thereafter, Lois, too, selected a wrong answer and Round One was over with no million- dollar winner. Two more rounds were played before Lois began yawning, and Clark suggested that they call it a night and resume their competition the next evening after dinner.
For three evenings this scenario repeated itself. Each of them would breeze through the lower dollar questions and get ever closer to that elusive million before being stumped by some impossible question. After Lois missed the $250,000 question for the third game in a row, she threw up her hands in disgust and shouted, "How in the world am I supposed to know how to shirr an egg?" Clark retorted with "You think that's tough? Who in the world would know that a Brannock device is used to measure your foot?"
On night four, Clark decided to walk away with his $500,000 earnings after having no Lifelines left and no clue about how fast the earth rotated at the equator. And Lois once again pounded the keyboard madly, screaming, "AARRGGHH!!! Why do *I* keep getting all the cooking questions?
By night five, Clark was ready to call off the whole arrangement, fearing for both his sanity and Lois's. But strangely, they each drew questions during their second game that were easily answered and simultaneously arrived at the million -dollar question. As the computer was about to reveal their questions to them, Clark got "the look", stood up and whirled into the Suit. "What about the game?" Lois asked.
"Honey, it's a robbery at Cain's Jewelers. I have to go."
"Of course you have to go, sweetheart. But do you want to just put the games into the pause mode or turn them off completely and start again tomorrow night?"
"Put 'em on pause!" he yelled over his shoulder as he headed for the window. "I won't be gone that long with a jewelry store robbery. We can finish when I get back."
"Be careful," Lois whispered as she always did when he flew out to save the world. "Come back to me." Glancing back at the paused computer screens, she decided that now was a great time for a bowl of Choco Chocolate Monster Crunch ice cream. Bringing the bowl back into the living room, she glanced once more at the paused game screen as she walked past. Carrying the bowl of her favorite treat in one hand, she grabbed the television remote with the other, hoping that maybe she could catch some film footage of Clark on the news channels.
Surfing through the channels and seeing nothing about Superman, Lois finished her ice cream and walked toward the kitchen with the dirty bowl in hand. Once again she passed the paused game screen. She was only one answer away from winning! And if she knew the answer, she would know it whether Clark was here or not. Reaching toward the keyboard to un-do the pause command, Lois quickly drew back and verbally reprimanded herself. "What in the world are you thinking about Lois Lane?" She continued her journey to the kitchen, rinsing her bowl and spoon and placing them in the dishwasher.
"What was taking Clark so long?" she wondered. To keep herself busy as she waited for his return, Lois did a little spot cleaning in the kitchen, folded a load of towels that Clark had put into the dryer earlier that morning, and sorted all the mail in the cubbyholes over the kitchen desk. When those chores were completed, and Clark had still not returned, she decided to call it an evening and head for bed.
Walking to the stairwell, Lois once more passed the computer, again wondering about the one answer that separated her from the million-dollar prize, Clark's home-cooked meal, and the evening of "entertainment" he had promised. Visions of a delectable pasta meal followed by a night of lovemaking on a deserted island somewhere in the South Pacific weakened Lois's reserve and without any more hesitation, she sat in front of the computer and pressed the Resume key. With a computer-generated drumroll, the million-dollar question rolled onto the screen: "What was Charles Foster Kane's dying word in the movie 'Citizen Kane'?"
"Rosebud!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Lois screamed and pressed the appropriate key to register her answer. Music blared, dollar signs flooded the screen and the virtual emcee displayed a check for one million dollars payable to Lois Lane.
"I won!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Lois shouted, jumping up and down in celebration. "I won, I won, I won!!!!!!!!!!!!" Then remembering the circumstances of her victory, she abruptly sat down and softly admitted to herself, "And I cheated." She turned off her computer, erasing all traces of her recent achievement, and began the slow climb upstairs to the bedroom. As she readied herself for bed, she could not look at herself in the mirror. She had cheated. Lois Lane, winner of three Kerth awards for excellence in investigative journalism, had cheated just to win some silly game.
"I should just brand a giant "C" onto my forehead," she wailed as she undressed. "C for Cheater, C for Childish, C for Cocky, C for Charlatan, C forClark." He had trusted her. Somehow she had to make it up to him. And the first step was to admit that she had betrayed his trust.
Lois quickly formulated a plan and put it into action. After she finished with the last step, she returned to their bedroom, put on an old pair of flannel pants and a T-shirt to sleep in, and crawled between the covers of their bed to wait for Clark's return. As she lay there waiting, she replayed the event in her mind over and over. And over and over her conscious reminded her of one word: Cheater. Finally, fitfully, she drifted into a restless sleep that was punctuated over and over by the same nightmare: In her dream, Lois was Ultra Woman. She had just heard a cry for help and had flown to the scene of a multi-car pileup on the Metro Freeway. As she landed and began to untangle the cars, she began to notice that people were staring and pointing at her. She knew the Ultra Woman suit was tight; Martha had made it that way to cut down on wind resistance. But in addition to the stares and gestures, she began to hear booing and jeering. Looking down at her outfit, she realized that it had been modified. Instead of a "U" and "W" on each shoulder, the "U" had been changed to a big "C". She was now "Cheater Woman." Humiliated that everyone now knew her ugly secret, she bolted upward, breaking the sound barrier as she fled Metropolis. It was at this point in the nightmare that she would wake with a start.
Three small fires, a minor auto accident, an attempted prison break, and the jewelry store robbery later, Clark flew back to Hyperion Avenue. As he landed at the window, he noticed that all the lights were off except for the lamp on the computer desk. Entering the brownstone and striding toward the desk, he immediately noticed that Lois's computer was turned off while his remained in the Pause mode of the game. And taped to the top of his monitor was a white envelope with "Clark" written in Lois's handwriting. Clark opened the envelope and pulled out the sheet of paper inside. Unfolding it, he gazed at the words written by Lois's hand:
"Clark, I answered the million- dollar question correctly and won the game. But I cheated by not waiting for you to return. So you win by default. I'm a horrible person. Can you forgive me?
Clark smiled as he read the note. Lois could be fiercely competitive and she'd even been known to bend the rules occasionally. But she was a woman of integrity, and this note proved that. As he stared once more at the note, he noticed a spot at the bottom of the paper. Using his special vision, he scrutinized the spot and determined it to be a tearstain. Lois didn't cry often so Clark immediately knew that she was extremely upset.
When he reached their bedroom door, he saw that Lois had decorated it with some old Mardi Gras beads, Monopoly money, and, not surprisingly, gold foil-covered chocolate coins. Steeling himself against what he might find inside the room, he opened the door and silently entered.
A sole candle illuminated the room. Lois, dressed in old flannel and cotton, lay asleep, traces of her tears still showing on her cheeks. The rumpled bedclothes were evidence of her restless sleep, no doubt the result of her tortured conscious. And there, taped over the headboard of their bed, was a large, festive, and professionally created banner proclaiming "Who Wants to Love a Millionaire?" But the word "Millionaire" had been marked through and the word "Cheater" written underneath. Clark guessed that Lois had purchased the banner earlier in the week in anticipation of winning their contest.
Showering quickly and pulling on a pair of sleep shorts, Clark tiptoed to the bed, and crawled in beside his wife. As the mattress dipped from Clark's added weight, Lois woke. She presumed from Clark's presence that he had forgiven her dishonesty, but she did not want to face him. She had done a terrible thing and had betrayed his trust. Knowing him as she did, she was certain that he wouldn't berate her verbally, but she was tormented by her conscience.
Clark could tell from the changes in her heartbeat and breathing that Lois was awake. And knowing his "Little Tornado" like he did, he was sure that she did not want to face him. Just writing that she was wrong was difficult enough for Lois Lane. Verbalizing it would be even more painful. And oddly enough, he felt a little responsible for the whole situation. It was his idea for the silly wager in the first place. Instead of simply accepting Lois's competitive streak as part of what made him love her, he had tried to manipulate the situation. This was the woman, after all, who had argued relentlessly that "chumpy" was a word. Consequently, they now lay side by side in silence.
* If he would just say something then I'd know things will be all right,* Lois thought to herself. And as she began to imagine Clark's disappointment in her, a tiny sniffle escaped.
* I promised myself that I'd never make her cry,* Clark remembered. Rolling over, he grabbed Lois around the waist and pulled her close. As she lay her head in its familiar position on Clark's chest, Lois felt the tears well up.
"I'm sorry," she whispered so softly that only Superman could have heard it
"I know, baby, I know," Clark crooned, stroking her back all the while. "And I'm sorry too, for starting this whole contest thing in the first place. I was jealous of all the time you spent watching that show; and I just figured when you won the game, you'd be satisfied; and we could get back to our normal routine."
"WHEN I won the game?" Lois asked. "Don't you mean IF I won the game?"
"Lois, " he scolded, pointing toward the banner over the bed.
Busted! Lois felt the tears coming again. "Well, ClarkI felt confident that I could win. I thought the slogan would be a cute play on the title of the game." Then in a more subdued voice she cried, "I'm just so sorry that I cheated. Can you ever forgive me?" With that she collapsed against Clark, her tears spilling down her cheeks and onto Clark's skin.
"Ssshhhhhhh, honey," he crooned again. "You are the most brilliant woman I know. It was simply a matter of time before you answered all the questions correctly, and I got to give you your prize. And don't think I wasn't VERY excited about giving it to you too. However, since you have declared me the winner by default, I am here to claim MY prize. And that would be?" Clark inquired.
Lois pulled away from Clark and sat up beside him on the bed. Looking him squarely in the eye, she explained, "I am going to reserve the honeymoon suite at the Lexor Hotel for us. You never did get your turn in the bedroom. I figured it would kill two birds with one stone and make that up to you as well." Lois climbed out of the bed and fetched a box of tissues from the dresser across the room. As she wiped away the remaining tears from her cheeks, she continued, "I also thought we'd go to that little Italian place for a romantic dinner since I'm sure you wouldn't be in the mood for sex after eating anything that I cooked."
Clark couldn't help but chuckle at the last remark as he remembered dinners of "blackened lasagna" and London broil with tiny, infinitesimal specks of pink inside. The Italian place would be great. After all, both he and Lois knew what pasta did to him.
"I'll call tomorrow and make the reservations. What night do you want to do it?"
"Any night with you is fine with me Lois. But you know how busy the Lexor is this time of year. It will probably take a couple of weeks to get into the honeymoon suite," Clark said as he reached out to Lois and pulled her back onto their bed. Pulling her face close to his, he brushed his lips tenderly across hers. "And I don't want to wait a couple weeks. I seem to remember something about the winner getting an "evening of entertainment." I want it tonight," he murmured as his lips moved from her mouth down her neck and back up again. His tongue sought entrance to her mouth, and she willingly complied. The kiss was long and sweet.
Lois shifted so that she was on top of Clark. She dotted light kisses along his jawline and down his throat. As she moved her lips to his chest, a guttural moan escaped from his throat. Kissing upward toward that special sensitive spot behind his ear, Lois was startled from her reverie when Clark suddenly pulled back, cocked his head sideways and listened. Seeing the disappointment clouding Lois's eyes, he quickly pulled her close and whispered, "Just checking, sweetheart." Clark rolled his head to one side, exposing the soft flesh on his neck and indicated with a wink that he wanted Lois to resume her previous ministrations.
As she scattered kisses along his neck, Lois massaged his strong shoulders. She felt Clark's hands move lightly over her back and through her hair. Lois trailed a row of kisses down his chest. Glancing up at Clark's face, she saw that his eyes were closed, his breath was ragged, and he was biting his lip to keep from crying out. Encouraged, Lois continued, taking Clark up to and past the brink of rapture. "Oh, Loisyes," he moaned. Lois held him as he relaxed and his breathing slowed. She kissed him, once, then again.
"Mmmmmmmmthank you," he uttered breathlessly.
"You're quite welcome," Lois breathed back at him. "And thank you too."
Her demeanor became serious as she continued, "Thank you for being you." Her tears once again began to flow as she stared into the eyes of this man who was her best friend, her husband, and her lover. "I'm so sorry" she began apologetically. Clark pulled her closer and stopped the apology with another long, deep kiss.
"No more apologies, Lois," Clark commanded. "It's overdonewe can't change the past. Okay?"
"You are too good to me, Clark." Lois's eyelids began to close and she stifled a yawn as she nestled against his warm chest. "Can we continue with your entertainment in the morning?" she asked.
"Sure, honey. But I do have one question for you before you drift away here. I'm just curious? What was your million dollar question?"
Lois answered quietly, "What was Charles Foster Kane's dying word in the movie 'Citizen Kane'?" Before she could say another word, there was a whoosh of air and a blur of color, and Lois found herself lying alone. As she opened her eyes to see what had happened, she saw Clark standing beside the bed, a single long- stemmed rose clutched in his outstretched hand, and in unison they said, simply, "Rosebud."