By Nan Smith <email@example.com>
Submitted: May 2002
Summary: In another of the series of Episode Extension Challenges — this one from "Fly Hard" — Lois decides comforting a wounded Luthor can wait as she pursues some interesting questions with her truculent partner.
A 30 Minute Episode Extension Challenge Story: Fly Hard:
Disclaimer: The characters and familiar settings in this story are not mine. They belong to DC Comics, Warner Bros., December 3rd Productions and whoever else can legally claim them. Anything else is copyrighted to me.
From the end of "Fly Hard":
Be careful with Luthor. You don't know him like I do.
Lois glanced over her shoulder at the ambulance. Lex was watching her, and she walked over to him. "Will you be all right?"
He smiled at her. "Of course, Lois. I *am* all right. This—" he glanced at the wound in his shoulder, "is nothing. Go home and get some sleep. I'll call you later."
She leaned forward to kiss him on the cheek and then retreated as the paramedics helped him to lie back on the gurney, fastened the safety straps and closed the doors.
The ambulance pulled away, siren wailing. Lois looked after it for a minute and then turned back to her partner, a little irritated that he had allowed his dislike of Lex to mar her feelings of relief at their rescue from the terrorists.
He was walking slowly away, staring at the ground. His shoulders were slumped, his posture the very picture of discouragement and fatigue. She stood watching him for a moment, debating with herself. Finally she decided and hurried after him. "Clark!"
He turned and she was surprised to see that he was frowning deeply, his lower lip caught between his teeth.
"Clark, I want to talk to you!" she said, in her "no argument" tone.
She saw his expression change. One minute he was frowning and the next his face had shifted to no expression. "Lois, if it's about Luthor, I don't think that would be a good idea. I know what I think of him, but you don't want to hear it. Why don't I just walk you home?"
"I just don't think you're giving him a chance," she insisted. "What has he ever done that gives you the right to say things like that about him?"
"Nothing I can prove."
"If you can't prove it, why—"
"I didn't say I didn't *know*, Lois. I said can't prove it." He turned and began to walk away. She half ran after him and seized his arm, trying to yank him around. It was like grabbing a steel beam.
He swung around. "Lois, I don't want to talk about this. The only thing I can say is something you don't want to hear."
"Clark, *why* don't you like Lex? Is it—" She hesitated and took the plunge. "Is it—jealousy?"
He stiffened and she knew she'd hit a nerve but after several seconds when she thought he wasn't going to answer, he spoke.
"Come on, Clark. I suppose that wasn't jealousy."
He opened his mouth and closed it again. "I didn't say I wasn't jealous," he said, surprising her. "But that's not why I don't like seeing you with him."
"Then, do you mind telling me why?"
His mouth tightened. "I can't tell you."
"Because you wouldn't believe me."
"Well, why don't you try me?"
The corner of his mouth twitched. "Because I want you to still be speaking to me later on."
"All right, how do you know these so-called terrible things about Lex?"
She saw the muscles of his jaw tighten. "I suppose I could say Superman told me, but that probably wouldn't be enough, either. Do you remember when we were tied up in the hangar at EPRAD? Something Dr. Baines said reminded me of something Luthor told me when we first met him. He was holding a sword on me. The sword of Alexander the Great, actually. He quoted Sun Tzu."
"'The Art of War'. Luthor told me Alexander's strategy was to get there first and seize the high ground. Dr. Baines—"
"I remember that," Lois said, slowly, a trace of doubt nibbling at her confidence. "But just because she used the same quote as Lex—"
"That was only the first thing. It made me suspicious, and then I started putting things together." He bit off the sentence and started to walk again. "I've already said more than I intended. I'm not saying anymore."
"But you mentioned Superman," Lois challenged. "Does he believe any of this wild theory of yours?"
"You'll have to ask him," Clark said, looking stubborn.
"Oh, no you don't!" Again, she grabbed his arm, trying to drag him to a stop and found herself being pulled along. "You insinuated he believes this, too!"
"All right, then. Yes, he does. Superman's been investigating Luthor for months, but evidence has a way of disappearing around him." Clark hadn't stopped and she found herself trotting to keep up. "He and I are reasonably sure that he's tied to the bomb on the Messenger replacement, and to at least three murders. Neither one of us likes it that you're dating him. It scares us. That's one reason I didn't tell you. If you didn't have any suspicions, you were safer."
"You were protecting *me*?" She was outraged. "Didn't you think I had the right to know what you thought?"
"Not when you didn't want to listen. I'm going home now, Lois. Let me know if you still want to be my partner, after this."
He stopped so suddenly that she took two steps past him. "What else, Lois?"
She was staring at him, not knowing what to think. Would Clark lie to her because of jealousy? She didn't think he could—and he'd told her to ask Superman. He wouldn't say things like that if he expected the superhero to deny them. That meant he really believed what he was saying. For a long moment, she looked back at her relationship with Lex Luthor over the past months. Could he possibly be the devil that Clark believed him to be? It was hard to see him in that light, but if Clark was really serious and worried about her welfare, didn't she owe it to him to at least investigate his allegations?
"You're serious, aren't you?"
"You're really afraid for me?"
He looked defeated. "Yes, I am. Don't I have the right to be afraid for somebody I lo…care about?"
She took his arm, slowly. "I guess you do. I didn't realize you felt that way about me."
"Sorry," he said, a little defensively. "It's not something I can help."
She was silent, walking along beside him. Had he almost said what she thought he'd almost said? "Clark?"
"I'm sorry I didn't listen to you before." She found herself studying his arm where her hand rested on the sleeve of his shirt. "I don't know that I accept it—at least, not without some kind of proof—but, if you really believe Lex isn't what he seems, will you let me help you investigate? Together, we can prove either his guilt or innocence. Is that acceptable?"
He was silent for a long moment. "Lois, if he realizes what you're doing—"
"Clark, you've got my curiosity going, now. You know I'm going to investigate whether you want me to or not."
He sighed. "Me and my big mouth."
"So, will you?"
Reluctantly, he nodded. "All right."
Slowly, they continued down the block toward her apartment. Lois glanced up at her partner, wondering. He'd said "lo- ". Was it possible?
Well, why not? She was a reasonably attractive woman and Clark was definitely all man. Looking at him with her new knowledge, she knew she was going to have to think of all the ramifications of that. It wasn't something she'd ever consciously thought about before and she wasn't even sure it was what she wanted. On the other hand, she wasn't sure she didn't, either. Time would tell.