By Tank Wilson TankW1@aol.com)
Submitted August 2001
Summary: When Clark receives bad news about his job, Lois has to think quickly for ideas on how to help. But what will she do…?
When this was originally posted to Zoomway's boards it was done under the pseudonym of Nosl Iwt. I was (and still am) in the middle of my retirement from writing and so I decided that I might slip one by the gentle readers by using a fake name. For some strange reason it didn't work. Most (and by that I'm thinking — all) of the gentle readers seemed to catch on that it was me. So in sending this off to the archives I saw no reason to continue the charade.
All characters are trademarked and copyrighted to their respective owners. All feedback gratefully accepted at TankW1@aol.com.
Lois Lane sat at her desk at the Daily Planet staring at her screen. She was putting the finishing touches on her latest page one story and she was in a great mood. Capone and his gang of resurrected cronies were finally behind bars where they belonged. Professor Hamilton's equipment, which had brought the gangsters back to life had been destroyed. But best of all, Clark was alive!
A shiver ran down Lois' spine as she thought back to that horrible moment a couple of days ago. If she closed her eyes she was sure she would see Clark, once again, falling at her feet. The sounds of the gunshots had been so loud, yet everything had seemed to move in slow motion. One moment Clark had stepped in front of her, to protect her from Dillinger's unwanted advances, the next he was clutching his chest and seeming to take forever to fall to the floor in front of her. Killed, right before her eyes! Lois' heart gave an involuntary clench as she relived the pain, and shock, that had seized her as she watched her best friend's lifeless body being dragged away.
She didn't remember much of the rest of that evening. It was all a blur of conciliatory policemen and tears. She hadn't felt so lost, or bereft in all her life. Not even when her father had walked out on his family. Clark Kent was not only her partner, he had become her best friend. Something that she had never really had before, and she hadn't known how she was going to cope without him.
Her face broke into a big smile. But then the miracle happened. A miracle named Superman. He'd somehow found Clark's body, and had used Professor Hamilton's notes to resurrect Clark's lifeless body. She would definitely have to thank the Man of Steel for giving her back her partner, her best friend, and maybe…
The bell which signaled the arrival of the elevator rang, and Lois' attention was drawn to it as the doors opened. Her smile grew even bigger as she saw Clark step out onto the newsroom floor. His gaze instantly sought her out, and once they made eye contact, he returned the smile on her face with a dazzling one of his own. He started down the ramp toward her desk.
"Kent, in my office." Perry White had stuck his head out his door. He glanced over in Lois' direction. "Lois, you might as well come in too. This will affect you also."
Lois got up from her desk. The look on her face clearly showed her puzzlement. Clark waited for her to reach him, then together, they headed toward their editor's office.
Clark leaned over and whispered at Lois. "Do you know what this is all about?"
Lois shrugged. "I haven't a clue."
The Planet's top team entered Perry's office and sat on the couch at his direction. Perry just stared at his two reporters for several moments. The look on his face was hard to read, but he definitely wasn't happy. Both Lois and Clark squirmed under that stare.
Perry finally sighed, then spoke. "There is no easy way to break this to you, so I guess I'll just have to come right out and say it." Perry paused for a deep breath. "Kent — Clark, son, I'm sorry but the word just came down this morning." Perry waved a piece of paper he'd just picked up off his desk. "You're being transferred to our Paris bureau."
"What!" Lois shouted in shock.
Clark just sat there in stunned silence.
Perry just shook his head sadly. "I can't tell you how sorry I am about this Clark, but this comes from the top."
Clark looked helplessly at Perry, then over to Lois. Lois felt like she was trapped in a nightmare. This couldn't be happening. She'd just gotten Clark back, now he was being taken away from her again. True, it wasn't like before. He wouldn't be dead, but for her the results would be the same. Clark would be out of her life, and that was not something she wanted to have to deal with. She tore her gaze away from Clark and focused her pained look at her boss.
"Perry, you have to do something! You can't let this happen."
Perry held his hands up in a gesture of helplessness. "You think I want this to happen, honey? I don't want to lose one half of my best reporting team. I argued with them till I was blue in the face, but it made no difference." Perry let his hands fall to his desk. "Franklin Stern may have saved our livelihood's by buying the Planet after Luthor tried to destroy it, but he didn't get where he is today by not using his resources to their utmost." Perry grimaced. "The truth of the matter is that, he doesn't feel he can afford to have two star reporters here when our Paris branch is in such desperate need." Perry spread his hands in a gesture of surrender again. "Since Clark already knows the language, it was thought that he would be the best person for the job."
"You can't do this, Chief," Lois blustered. "If Clark goes, I'll quit. Then the Daily Planet will have no star reporters."
"Now, Lois…" Perry tried to sooth his agitated reporter.
"No, Lois, you can't quit." Clark's voice was sad, but calm. "The Daily Planet is your life, I won't have you throw it away — for me."
Lois' agitation was rapidly rising. "Oh no? I suppose it was all right for you to throw your life away for me, but I can't risk a stupid job, for you… for my best friend." Lois had to take a deep breath to keep her voice from breaking.
Perry closed his eyes and shook his head. "I don't think Franklin Stern is the kind of man who will respond to threats and ultimatums." Perry caught Lois' eyes with his own. He tried to put all the sympathy he could into that look. "I'm sorry, honey, but you know the rules."
Lois opened and closed her mouth several times without speaking. She did indeed know the rules. She'd seen them in action once before. Then it had been to her advantage, when Perry had managed to get Claude transferred out of Metropolis. It was a little thought about clause in every contract which allowed the management to transfer any employee to another Planet office, or bureau, within the first two years of their employment. It was there, ostensively, to allow the employee to find his or her 'best fit' within the Planet family. Of course, that 'best fit' was completely determined by management. After two years of continued employment, any such transfer would require the employee's approval.
Clark hadn't been with the Planet long enough to be able to veto the transfer. If he wanted to stay as a reporter for the Planet, he'd have to take the transfer. He could always quit, but Lois didn't see Clark abandoning his responsibilities to the Daily Planet just because it became inconvenient for him. He was definitely one of those people who took their responsibilities seriously. Even if he didn't want to, he'd probably go because he'd see it as his obligation to his employer.
Lois was beginning to panic. They could always hope that the transfer would only be a temporary one, that after the Paris bureau got itself back on its feet he could come back. But what if he decided to stay? Lois found herself horrified by the thought. He had traveled a lot overseas and he seemed to have enjoyed his times there. What if got to like it there? What if he met someone? What if he forgot about his friends back in Metropolis? What if he forgot about her?
Lois glanced over at Clark. He had his head down, just staring at his hands. His body language shouted defeat to her. She realized that he wasn't going to speak up against this. It just wasn't his way.
Lois clenched her fists. She had to do something! Clark was her best friend and she didn't want to lose him again. That awful night as she lay awake crying, thinking about what her life was going to be like now that Clark was dead had been terrible. She had begun to fantasize about what might have been between the two of them if he hadn't been taken from her. She knew that Clark had become very important to her. She'd gotten used to him being a part of her life, and she didn't want to go back to the way it was before he came. Guiltily, she remembered some of the wild promises she made to god, and the fates, if only there was some way she could have Clark back. Then, miraculously, he'd been given back to her, only now to be taken away again. Lois was on the verge of tears. Life could be so cruel.
Her mind worked furiously as she mentally reviewed the Planet's transfer policies looking for a loophole, for a way to keep Clark here, and employed as her partner. Lois bit down hard oh her lip. Under the circumstances, there was only one way, one way to block this transfer. But could she actually do it? Would Clark go for it? Would Perry believe her? Lois grimaced as she stood up and walked to the front of her editor's desk. There was no choice, she had to do it.
Lois swallowed a large lump that threatened to close her throat. "Perry, I do know the policy, and I also know that exceptions are made in the case of married or engaged couples." Lois threw Clark a quick glance, his look announced his bewilderment. "I'm sorry, Clark, but I think we have to tell him."
"Tell me what?" Perry prompted.
Lois took a deep breath, it was now or never. "Perry, you can't transfer Clark because… because he and I are engaged."
"What!" The exclamations of surprise came at Lois in stereo.
Lois looked quickly at Clark, willing him to go along with her. He just sat there staring at her, his mouth hanging open. She then turned her attention toward Perry. He stared at her, his eyes squinting as she imagined all the things that might be going through his mind.
"Ah, Lois, does Clark know about this engagement?" Perry's voice slipped into his southern drawl as the corners of his mouth twitched upward ever so slightly.
Lois blushed but quickly recovered. "Of course he does. He's just surprised that I told you. We had planned to keep it a secret for a while." Lois laughed nervously. "You know how it is, Chief."
"Really," Perry said, grinning. He looked over at the stunned Clark. "Is that true, Clark? You were keeping it a secret?"
Clark blushed himself and waved his hands toward Lois in a gesture of helpless surrender. Lois swiftly came over and sat next to Clark. She grabbed his hand and pressed it to her lips. She smiled at him. He smiled back somewhat tentatively.
Perry leaned back in his chair. "Okay, you're right Lois, the management won't break up a married or engaged couple with a transfer. And I know darned well that they won't let both of you go. I'll go talk to the suits upstairs about this, but…" Perry held up his hand to forestall Lois' impending words of gratitude. "I expect there to be a major announcement made in this newsroom by this time tomorrow. Capeesh?" The two reporters nodded in unison. "Now get out of here, I'm sure you two must have something to do?"
Lois leapt to her feet, and still holding onto Clark's hand, wound up dragging him along with her. She dragged him toward the conference room and didn't utter a word until they were both in there and the door closed behind them.
Clark sat down in one of the chairs. He stared up at Lois. His looked of stunned bewilderment had been replaced with one of bemusement. He opened his hands in a gesture which invited her to speak.
Lois began to pace. "I didn't know what else to do. I knew that after losing you once, to those gangsters, that I couldn't do so again." Lois' eyes pleaded with Clark for understanding. "Clark, you're my best friend, and I don't want to lose you."
Clark's amusement quickly faded. "I don't want to lose you either, Lois, but engaged? Who will believe it?"
Lois began to pace again. "Look, it was the only way I could think of to keep you here in Metropolis." She shook her finger at him. "I know you better than you think, Clark. I know that your sense of duty and obligation to the Planet would have forced you to honor that transfer, and then you'd be gone." Lois saw the tightening of Clark's lips and she knew she was right.
"But… engaged? Lois, don't you think people will begin to wonder when they don't see us acting like two people who are engaged? Don't you think they will wonder when we never set a wedding date?"
Lois sat down next to Clark. She placed her hands on either side of his face and leaned in. She crushed her lips against his for several moments, savoring the taste and feel of her friend and partner.
"I think I'm up to it if you are, " Lois replied a bit out of breath. "Look, Clark, I know you told me that you only think of me as a friend, but your death a couple of days ago really scared me. It made me realize how much I've come to depend on having you around, how much I needed to have you in my life." Lois stared deeply into Clark's eyes as she drew in another deep breath. "I'm pretty turned around right now. I'm not exactly sure what it is I do feel for you. But I do know that when I thought I'd lost you for good, it felt like a hole had been torn out of my soul. I'd never felt that empty before. I can't say for sure that it *is* love I feel for you, but whatever it is, it's not something that I've ever felt about anyone else before." Lois grabbed Clark's hand. "If I have to marry you to keep you in my life, then that's what I'll have to do. Who knows, maybe given some time together as an engaged couple, you can come to feel about me the way I feel about you." Lois gave Clark's hand a squeeze. "What do you say? Can we give it a try?"
Lois watched Clark carefully for his reaction. Her greatest fear was that he would reject her offer. That he would tell her that he couldn't pretend to love her when he didn't. She knew that he liked her, that he liked her a lot. But did he like her enough to go along with her scheme? Would he, in the name of friendship, agree to pose as her fianc,?
Lois had a hard time reading Clark's face. It was calm. He showed no trace of anger, or resentment toward her for putting him in this situation. If anything, Lois would almost swear that there was just a hint of amusement in his look. She suddenly felt him return the hand squeeze.
"Okay, Lois, sure we can give it a try." Clark gave her a warm smile. "I don't really want to go to Paris anyway. At least, not without you."
Lois couldn't help but grin as she jumped up and dragged Clark to his feet once more. "That's great, let's go!"
Clark looked puzzled again. "Go?" He asked. "Go where?"
"We need to go and pick out an engagement ring, silly."
Writer's Postscript: Pam Jernigan has written a cute extension, or sequel if you will, of this little vignette. If she hasn't sent it to the archives by now, you should bug her to do so.
EIC's note — Pam's sequel will be uploaded to the Archive soon.