A Night of Gerswhin

By Barb Pillsbury <megats1776@yahoo.com>

Rated: PG

Submitted: August 2002

Summary: Following the theme of the Lois & Clark Musical Challenge, this rewrite of "Barbarians Of The Planet" is set in the 1930s. Will Lois accept Luthor's proposal?

Being a lover of musicals especially 1930s musicals, I decided to write this fanfic unaware that there had been an earlier challenge related to musicals. Thanks to Tricia for providing encouragement, suggestions and informing me about the L&C Musical challenge. I read all of them and they were wonderful. So, although late, here is a response to that challenge. If you are not familiar with the songs, there are several Gershwin sites that have audio clips. A couple of these classics were also used in the L&C musical challenge and the third song was in S1.

I also thank LabRat, Erin, Bethy, Laswa for always being so supportive and helpful to me as a writer. Plus I thank those who provide comments and criticisms that make me try to be a better writer: Gerry, Merry, Maria, Kathy, Raquel, Laura, Wendy, Pam, and so many others. Thank you.


The club's chanteuse stepped up to microphone. She was dressed in a long black gown that set off her fair skin and blonde hair. The band started her musical introduction. She smiled at the large audience sitting at the tables and noticing one particularly handsome man at the bar in a white dinner jacket, she started singing.

*S'wonderful, s'marvelous,

You should care for me.

S'awful nice,


S'what I long to…*

"Give me another," the dark-haired, well-built man said turning away from the club act and looking dejectedly across at the bartender.

"Going a little heavy on the sauce, ain't ya?" the older man asked rhetorically. "Whatcha doing?" he posed his next question, "trying to make up for lost time?"

"Yeah, I guess," Clark Kent replied. "Aren't we all?" he asked looking around the crowded club and, pulling out a rolled up copy of today's Daily Planet from his pocket, he tossed it on the bar.

"Great headline," the bartender remarked looking at the banner in bold red print.

'Prohibition Repealed at 5:32 Today, December 5th 1933!' it stated. Then in smaller letters right beneath: 'Lex Luthor to open Club Lex tonight!' The byline read Lois Lane.

Clark looked at the headline knowing that it was the last one. He downed his drink. The Daily Planet had printed its final paper and he was out of a job.

"Everybody's who's anybody is here!" exclaimed the bartender refilling Clark's glass. He had given up counting how many the young man had had.

"Yeah, everybody," Clark murmured and turned to lift his glass and toast a woman who sat across the dance floor at a table with an elegantly dressed man in tails. There they were, the woman who he loved and the man who had proposed to her. "Here's to you, Lois," he said bitterly in a low voice. "I hope you get everything you want."

Clark was angry-angry at the shutting down of the paper, angry at Lois for accepting a job at the radio station, and angry at the two of them across the room, sitting there, discussing their marriage plans.

Even in his anger, he continued to revel in the beautiful woman who he had been in love with from the moment he had first met her a year before. She was incredible. Her dark hair framed her face perfectly. The white 'Harlow-type' gown she wore clung to each curve but it was her eyes he noticed. Her eyes were as brilliant as she was and they held such a luster in them when they gleaned on to a story. He loved those deep brown eyes that now were not even looking at him.

Lois' eyes were drawn to the man sitting with her. She was hanging on every word the man told her. Lex Luthor, the owner of the club, the man who had shut down the Daily Planet, the man who had given Lois a job at his radio station, opened a velvet box and was presenting Lois with an obviously expensive ring. Even from across the large room, Clark or anyone could see the diamond.

People had gotten up to dance as the band played the interlude of Gershwin's S'wonderful and Clark looked away thinking how wonderful Lois was. He finished yet another drink and signaled for the bartender to refill his glass once again. Gazing into the drink, he remembered how he and Lois worked so well together as a team. She was so capable, so intelligent and now she was throwing it all away on *him*.

<How could she not see through him,> Clark thought. He picked up the paper and looked at a small story relegated to the bottom right corner of the second page. 'Gangland murders still unsolved', it read. This byline had the name Clark Kent. <Unsolved,> Clark mused. He knew the answer, but neither he nor his alter ego Superman could gather enough evidence to prove it.

Clark stood up. Since alcohol didn't affect him, he knew that it wasn't the drink that was fortifying him to move toward the two people sitting at the small table on the other side of the room. He wasn't sure what was propelling him across the floor. The young woman on the bandstand had begun singing again.

*…you can't blame me for feeling amorous.

S'wonderful, s'marvelous

That you should care for me.*

Maybe it was the music, maybe it was his knowing that this might be the last chance to stop Lois, but he had to talk to her, had to tell her.

He stopped in his tracks. Tell her what? That Luthor was evil and at the bottom of all the crime in Metropolis? Yes! That he, Clark, loved her? Yes! That he, Clark was Superman? Maybe, maybe not. Would she believe him about Lex? Would she return his love? Would she ever be able to trust him again if he revealed his secret?

Clark had reached their table. Lois looked up and smiled. They hadn't really spoken much in the last several days and it appeared that she was glad to see him.

"Welcome Kent," Luthor said smugly. "Why don't you join us?"

"Looks like the reopening is a success," Clark threw out to Lex as he sat down at their table.

"It appears that way," Luthor said glancing up as one of his assistants showed up at the table with a note.

Luthor read the note and then looked at Lois. "Sorry, but business calls," he said trying to sound regretful. "You must have some catching up to do with Clark, here," he said as he rose and left the table.

"Clark," Lois said once Luthor had left. "We haven't *really* talked in days."

"I know," Clark said, "but you've been busy with Lex and the radio station," he said looking deep into her eyes. "I just can't believe you've given up on the Planet. Did it mean that little to you?" he asked with an edge to his voice.

"The Planet meant as much to me if not more than it did to you," she returned pointedly.

Clark looked away and then back at her. How could he make her see what she was giving up-her work, their partnership, him?

"But the Planet is gone," Lois was continuing not noticing his distress. "Even Lex couldn't put it back together…and the radio station is exciting work," she said in obvious admiration.

"I will never work for Lex Luthor," Clark said strongly.

"But what about us, what about partners?" Lois asked, looking upset for the first time.

A group of four girls in skimpy costumes danced on to the floor. After doing two quick triple time steps they started to sing.

*I got rhythm

I got music

I got my man

Who could ask for anything more?*

Shuffle step, shuffle step

*I got daisies,

In green pastures.

I got my man.

Who could ask for anything more?*

Grapevine left, grapevine right.

*Old Man Trouble,

I don't mind him.

You won't find him,

'Round my door*

Two girls went to Clark and pulled him up on the dance floor. He tried to get out of it by moving quickly back to the table. But they were insistent and began dancing around him. He shrugged and then started to tap with them.

*I got starlight,*

Time step.

*I got sweet dreams,*

Double Riff.

*I got my man…*

Lois watched for a minute and then rose to leave.

Clark deserted the girls and went after Lois and grabbed her arm.

The girls finished with a flourish singing:

*Who could ask for anything more?*

"Lois," Clark said more softly, his anger turning into concern. "Is there someplace we can talk…alone?"

"Yes," Lois responded turning.

Clark followed her out to the balcony of the club. Club Lex was perched high atop one of Luthor's buildings and they could look down from it to the city below. Being December, not many people were on the balcony and most of the fun-seekers were remaining inside to celebrate.

He escorted her toward one of the benches.

"When I thought about losing my job at the Daily Planet," he began, "saying goodbye to Perry and Jimmy and everyone…I realized something. "I realized that I could lose all of that and still go on."

He stopped and removed his jacket putting it around her shoulders.

"I realized that there's really only one thing I didn't want to live without."

Clark tightened the jacket around her and looked into Lois' eyes. "And that was you…seeing you everyday…working with you…just being with you…"

"And that's why you should come and be my partner," Lois said sitting down.

"No, Lois," Clark said emphatically, sitting next to her on the bench. "Listen to me," he said forcibly. "I'm not talking about partnership," he paused gathering up as much courage as he could muster. "I'm talking about us."

The band began another Gershwin tune. Clark looked toward the band and then to Lois. "I've heard you sing this song before," he told her. "Now it's my turn," he said as he cupped his hand on the side of her face and sang slowly with feeling…

*I've got a crush on you, sweetie pie.

All the day and nighttime hear me sigh.

I never had the least notion that,

I could fall with so much emotion.*

Clark took both of her hands.

*Could you coo, could you care?

For a cunning cottage,

That we could share.

The world will pardon my mush,

Cause I have got a crush, my baby, on you.*

Dropping her hands, Clark looked at Lois. "I have been in love with you for a long time," he explained. "You had to have known," he said haltingly waiting for her reply.

"…I…I…I mean…I knew," Lois said looking down and then back to Clark. "I…I guess I knew that you liked me, or were attracted to me…"

Clark sensing what she was about to say, looked away from her.

"Oh Clark…" Lois went on. "I'm sorry. I…I just don't feel that way about you…romantically," she said struggling to explain. "You're my best friend…and the only partner I could stand to work with."

Clark looked up and his face was registering the hurt and rejection that he was feeling, but Lois plugged onward trying to find something to say that would let him down easily.

"I…I admire you," she came up with. "I respect you…and I *do* love you," she admitted pausing. "As a friend," she added softly.

Clark ran his hand through his dark hair. The words had hit him like nothing else he could describe. He had never experienced a punch to his midsection that took his breath away so he could not see that the feeling he was going through right now was exactly the same. He got up, walked a few steps and then turned to face Lois.

"What about Luthor?" he asked incensed. "Do you love *him*?"

Lois sighed not sure of how to answer this. "I don't know," she said trying to resolve this in her own mind. "I have feelings for him," she said and then quickly added, "I haven't said yes, yet."

Clark's jealousy would have been obvious to anyone seeing him, except perhaps the one woman sitting there, looking up at him. <Yet,> he thought. Then she was considering this-this travesty.

"And I won't until I talk it over with someone," Lois said, interrupting his thoughts.

"Who?" Clark asked, thrown off by her statement.

"I think you know who," she responded.

As realization of what she said sank in, Clark felt…felt what? His emotions had run the gamut that evening. He had felt anger, concern, love, jealousy and now—now, a resentment that only he could understand. She was in love with Superman. He really knew that. He guessed he had always known it. As long as he, Clark, had been in love with her, she had been in love with Superman. Luthor, must be some sort of substitute and as close to Superman as she could come. Luthor was powerful, he was strong, and he was exciting, as was Superman. He, Clark, was a friend. She admired him and respected him and sort of loved him. But he was not exciting, strong or powerful. He was just Clark. She wanted Superman. Clark was not even her second choice.

"Would you tell him that I want to see him?" Lois pleaded.

Clark realized he could have Lois. All he had to do was tell her that *he* was Superman. This would be the perfect time. But he didn't want her that way. He wanted Lois to want Clark the man, not Superman the icon.

"Yes," he whispered and walked away from her.

The haunting refrain from Gershwin's most popular ballad floated out to the balcony as Clark made his way out of the club.

Lois looked up at the sky high above the largest building in Metropolis and she began to sing.

*There's a somebody I'm longing to see.

I hope that he,

Turns out to be,

Someone who'll watch over me.*

*I'm a little lamb

Who's lost in the wood.

I know I could,

Always be good

To one who'll watch over me.*

Lois got up and danced around the balcony, the split in her dress allowing her to move freely as if guided by some inner desire. In her mind he was there dancing with her. They floated in mid air up on the bench and she twirled slowly down the length of it. He jumped off the bench and lifted her back down to the balcony floor. She turned slowly and he was gone. She sings:

*Won't you tell him please to

Put on some speed,

Follow my lead,

Oh, how I need

Someone to watch over me.*

Lois continued to dance dreaming of a particular partner when she heard a whoosh and she turned to see Superman landing on the balcony.

"I heard you wanted to see me," he said matter-of- factly.

Lois was so pleased to see him that she didn't even hear the stilted timbre to his voice.

"Well, I'm just trying to figure out…" she started, and then continued, "I have a lot of changes going on in my life and I want to make the right decision and I can't do that until I know how you feel," she said moving gradually toward him.

Superman folded his arms across his chest as if closing her out and looked down.

"Superman," Lois said gently placing both of her hands on his arms, "Is there any hope for us…you and me?"

Superman looked at her. Unlike earlier, he knew what she was going to say but this time he dreaded it.

"I'm so completely in love with you," Lois said adoringly. "I can't do anything else without knowing."

Superman shook his head slowly. How much he had dreamed of hearing her say that, but to Clark not Superman. Yet, *he* was Superman. If he were amoral, he would just tell her right now, right here, that he and Clark were the same man and that if she loved Superman, she loved Clark. But he couldn't. He just couldn't. He wanted her, wanted her desperately but not enough to cheat and this would be a form of cheating. If he got her this way, he would never know how she really felt. Was it the power, the man in the suit—not under the suit that she cared about?

"Lois," he began, "I do care about you. But there are things that you don't know about me. Things you may never know."

"It doesn't matter," Lois broke in quickly. "I know you. I…I don't mean you the celebrity or you the superhero…if you had no powers at all, if you were just an ordinary man, leading an ordinary life, I would love you just the same. Can't you believe that?" she asked tears welling up in her eyes.

She had just answered his question. But he simply couldn't believe her. She said she loved the ordinary man, but she had turned the ordinary man away.

Lois looked up at him. He had to believe her. She would be the only one to love him in that way, she knew that. But the look in his eyes—what had she done to make him say what she thought he was going to say.

"I wish I could, Lois," he answered her, a catch in his voice. But under the circumstances…"

<What circumstances,> she wondered fearfully.

"…I don't see how I can," he concluded.

Lois turned away from him. She couldn't face him as the tears were starting to fall. She heard the whoosh as he flew into the night sky.

Another of Gershwin's lilting melody intruded into her despair and she sings:

*They're writing songs of love,

But not for me.*

Superman had landed on a ledge some distance away from Lex's building. He sat on it and looking toward where Lois was alone on the balcony, and he sings:

*A lucky star's above,

But not for me.*

Lois sat on the bench and then continues:

*With love to lead the way

I've found more clouds of gray,*

Superman sings:

*Than any Russian play

Could guarantee.*

Lois and Superman sing together, both staring off into space:

*I was a fool to fall

And get that way;

Heigh-ho! Alas! And also,


*Although I can't dismiss

The memory of his (her) kiss,

I guess he's (she's) not for me.*

The band continues to play the musical interlude. Lois stood up and walked toward the doors of the club. She turned and leaned against the door jam and sings:

*I know that love's a game,

I'm puzzled just the same,

Was I the moth or flame?

I'm all at sea.*

*It all began so well,

But what an end!

This is the time a person

Needs a friend,*

Superman using his super hearing, listened to Lois' last refrain. He flew back and entered the club but dressed as Clark. She needed a friend he realized, she needed him.

As Lois sang that last line she thought back on her relationship with Clark. It was Clark who was always there. She thought of his support, his caring, his love. Superman didn't want her but wanting him was probably a fantasy. Lex wanted her but as what? Clark loved her. He really loved her. "Lois Luthor, Lois Kent," she whispered.

Lois thinking of Superman, thinking of Lex, finishes:

*I guess he's not for me.*

Clark returned to the balcony. "Lois," he said gently. "I'll always be here for you. Know that I…" he continued but was interrupted by some gunshots and loud screams from inside the club.

Lois and Clark ran back onto the dance floor to see Inspector Henderson, Perry, Jimmy and additional police officers confronting Lex. Lex is led off in handcuffs as the police escort the guests out of the club.

"We've done it," Perry informed Lois. "We've gotten the evidence that proves that Lex is at the bottom of Metropolis' crime syndicate. Lois honey, I'm sorry," Perry said soothingly as he and Jimmy exit.

"I almost…" Lois cried. "Clark, where's Clark?"

"Right here," Clark said as she rushed into his arms."

Lois sings:

*Embrace me,

My sweet embraceable you!*

Clark sings:

*Embrace me,

You irreplaceable you!*

They start to dance and sing together:

*Just one look at you,

My heart grew tipsy in me;

You and you alone

Bring out the gypsy in me!*

Clark lifts her gently, spins with her in his uplifted arms and places her gracefully on the floor as she twirls and sings.

*I love all

The many charms about you;

Above all

I want my arms about you.*

Clark dips her and brings her up slowly as he sings:

*Don't be a naughty baby,

Come to papa, come to papa do!*

They entwine in each other's arms singing.

*My sweet embraceable you.*


Songs by George and Ira Gershwin circa 1930s